A Weekend in NOLA

A Weekend in NOLA

A Weekend in NOLA

Hi there! It’s me – the lady who talks a lot about all the things she wants to do and then gets overwhelmed and drops off the creative planet for a month. I had a chance to spend a long weekend in NOLA with my mom for her birthday and it was so refreshing. We went in with few plans and one goal – to spend time together.

Impossible to fail really.

Finally Taking a Break

It turns out this weekend was exactly what I needed.

We stayed in an Air BnB hosted by a couple of artists who have been creating since the 50’s. Their house was filled with canvases and sculptures they had created plus stashes of art they had acquired over the years from friends and people they admire.

The air conditioning was slow to start and there wasn’t a proper shower, but there was an incredible balcony overlooking an entry-way filled to the brim with tropical plants that run wild in the warm-weathered city.

 

Friday

We started with breakfast at my favorite tourist spot – Cafe Du Monde. Every time I know someone visiting New Orleans, I ask if they would mind bringing me a box of beignet mix – I am shameless when it comes to beignets. I love them. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but something about the doughy powdered sugar combo gets me every time (which probably explains my recent affinity for Dutch Baby Pancakes – they’re basically a combo of my two favorite sweets: Beignets & Flan.)

We explored the antique shops on Royal Street. Winding in and out of the buildings that were apartments and homes at one point, but now serve as shops filled with old French artifacts and family heirlooms from what was once a very extravagant city.

Every storefront is run by a different artist or shopkeeper. Handcrafted wood pieces, photographs from the aftermath of Katrina, and of course masks to be worn during Mardi Gras festivities. There is so much personality in every shop.

One of my favorite discoveries was Krewe, locally crafted glasses and sunglasses. I can’t wait to order these bad boys when I have some extra cash. They are definitely pricey when compared to something like Warby Parker BUT, each pair of frames is hand carved from plant-based acetates, making them more durable than your standard frames (better for you and the environment, too). And if you are drawn to the wire frames like I am, each pair is made from 24k Gold plated Titanium, so they are super durable but also come with a lifetime warranty.

Mid-day we stopped to break for lunch. While all the food we ate on the trip was incredible, I loved this lunch more than anything else we had. We ate at a spot tucked into Royal Street called Cafe Amelie. A few shared plates – Beet salad, Gumbo, and a Smoked Salmon BLT – left us both so satisfied. Naturally, we both opted for dessert because that’s what your second stomach is for. I ordered an affogato and was in heaven. On top of the food being incredible, the prices were super reasonable. It’s a place that I would feel comfortable recommending to anyone without having to warn them that they would be dropping some serious cash.

Saturday

Saturday was our day of extravagance. Both breakfast and lunch took place at restaurants known for their incredible New Orleans inspired dishes.

The first was Galletoire’s – a spot that my mom had miraculously not been yet. My Great-Grandmother grew up in the French Quarter and our family burial plotis in Lafayette #1, so my mom has speant a lot of time in New Orleans for different family events over the years. I was excited that the restaurant recommended by our hosts was one she hadn’t had a chance to try because we got to experience it together.

It was incredible.

I am a big fan of Shrimp Creole and this one was particularly good. What really blew me away, though, was the service. Our server simultaneously made us feel as if we could stay at the table forever, and were so welcome to do so, while still keeping our meal moving along. Anyone who’s worked in the service industry knows what a feat that is and it was very much appreciated.

For dinner we went to Commander’s Palace. On my first trip to NOLA as a ten-is year old, my aunt was almost turned away because she was not properly attired. She was wearing *gasp* shorts. I have a vivd memory of her defending her Lily Pullitzer Bermuda Shorts to the Maître d’ and still giggle every time I think of it.

This blew my mind as a kid but I came prepared this time around (though the dress code seems much more manageable these days.)

Everything in New Orleans is a Good Idea.

 

Sunday

Sunday we drove an hour or so into Mississippi to Biloxi. We spent the day attempting to find family in the town’s main cemetary and then stopped by the outlets on our way back into the New Orleans.

Biloxi is a tiny little Coastal beach town that our family moved to when they left New Orleans. Admittedly, there is not a ton there, but it is beautifully calm place to take a walk on the beach.

 

Monday

When Monday came around, it was time for both of us to return home. We stopped at Cafe Beignet for one last bite to eat before heading to the airport. It was a super cute little spot, and we totally lucked out by getting there early enough to beat the line that formed around the corner while we were eating.

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A Weekend in NOLA

Hi there! It’s me – the lady who talks a lot about all the things she wants to do and then gets overwhelmed and drops off the creative planet for a month. I had a chance to spend a long weekend in NOLA with my mom for her birthday and it was so refreshing. We went in with few plans and one goal – to spend time together.

10 Things to Bring on a Road Trip With Friends

I put together a list of the ten things I have found most useful to have with me on road trips. This list has been compiled over time based on the things I have been glad to pull out of the corner of a suitcase or the things I kicked myself over not having brought.

The Great American Eclipse | The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 2

If you read Pt. 1, you know all about the awesome camping experience and my run-in with the moose family. Camping alone would have made for the best long weekend (especially when my birthday was part of it.) Why stop there when you are within driving distance of a point of totality for the great american eclipse of 2017?

10 Things to Bring on a Road Trip With Friends

10 Things to Bring on a Road Trip With Friends

Your Road Trip Must-Haves

10 Things to Bring on a Road Trip With Friends

I put together a list of the ten things I have found most useful to have with me on road trips. This list has been compiled over time based on the things I have been glad to pull out of the corner of a suitcase or the things I kicked myself over not having brought.

When done right, road trips are a really awesome way to cover a lot of ground without breaking the bank. I’ve done a number of longer trips – Philly>Key West for Spring Break in College, Kansas>Tennessee to visit family, Tennessee>Pennsylvania too many times to count, Colorado> Wyoming for the eclipse, and most recently Philly to Brattleboro, VT. To me, there are a few key elements that make for a good road trip. There’s the obvious – make sure you are driving with someone you won’t get sick of after hours of sitting in a small space (and vis versa) + a suitcase with the appropriate clothes for your itinerary. Then there are the less obvious things. These are the items of convenience, the things you don’t realize you’re missing until the second before you need them.

Top 10 Road Trip Supplies

1. Water bottle
It is so easy to get dehydrated when you are sitting in a car for hours on end. I always feel a twinge of guilt when I buy a plastic water bottle, and tend to drink them very conservatively so I don’t have to buy another. When I have a reusable water bottle on me, it’s easy to ask for a refill. I am all about bringing a bottle that keeps my beverage hot or cold all day long, my favorite is Hydroflask.

2. Travel Mug
On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, it;s nice to have a travel mug with you for coffee or tea. It comes in super handy in the morning when you’re a little frazzled getting everything going and on the road. You may have to wait an hour before you actually settle in enough to drink your coffee, and it’s super nice to have it be hot.

3. Snacks

You know that moment you are standing in the gas station chip aisle holding Frito’s and Doritos, staring at the beef jerky and the candy bars but all you really want is something relatively healthy? That’s where packing snacks comes in handy. I like to pack a cooler with some prepped snacks and breakfasts so that each morning I can eat breakfast while figuring out the plans for the day (i.e. so I can make plans in a clear-headed non-hangry state, lol) without having to hunt down a restaurant before I have an idea where the rest of the day is going to lead.

On my most recent road trip, Snap Kitchen gifted me a few days worth of breakfasts and snack items. Being able to swing by the closest location to pick up the foods I had ordered through their app the day before on the way out of Philly was GLORIOUS. Having one less thing to prep before the trip with allllll the healthy benefits was a major win!

4. Downloaded Playlists
Nobody wants to sit in silence for the entire trip. You want some ambiance for those deep conversations about the importance of using a turn signal when switching lanes. Don’t forget to download them! If you have spotify, you can select to make playlists available for offline use. You absolutely want to do this – keep in mind that road trips tend to lead you down some of those roads less traveled…and because they are less traveled, they are less likely to have cell service. Don’t fall victim to unintended silence because you don’t have enough bars. If you need some playlist inspo, check out some of my favorite playlists here.

5. Swimsuit / Sweatshirt
This one stands for pretty much every trip. Always, always, always bring a swimsuit and a sweatshirt. The place you’re staying may not have a pool, but you might luck out with a lake on a nearby hike or a super affordable spa nearby with a sauna & pool. Alternatively, your hotel room or host may keep the temperatures super low and having a sweatshirt to snuggle up in can give you a homey way to feel comfortable in an unknown space.

6. A Book & A Deck of Cards
This one is similar to making sure your playlists are downloaded. You never know when you are going to be sitting around for an hour or two, whether it’s because you are the passenger on the drive or late at night when you can’t quite fall asleep. It’s nice to have a non-tech distraction to keep you busy or help you relax into a sweet slumber!

7. Extra Shoes
You may not always use them, but having a pair of super comfortable shoes with you on your trip is absolutely necessary. Maybe they aren’t the cutest, and they don’t go with your outfit, but if you get blisters on day 1 of a 3 day trip you will be so grateful to have that extra pair ready to go. On my most recent trip, I was breaking in new hiking boots. As comfortable as they were right out of the box, there are a few areas that still need to mold to my feet/ankles and having sneakers in the backseat gave me a little peace of mind when I knew we wouldn’t be back to our room until the end of the day.

8. Battery Pack
With all the extra photos you take on a trip, your phone’s battery is probably not going to last the day. Having a battery pack charged and with you means you get to keep taking all those pics, but don’t have to worry when it comes time to get directions to your next location.

9. Downloaded Map of Your Route / Where You Are Staying
These days my reliance on waze is almost to an unhealthy level. Recently my phone’s location services decided to stop working, so I can get map-quest-like directions but not turn-by-turn. This has totally emphasized my belief that you should always have access to an offline map of the different locations you will be stopping on your trip. In the event that you don’t have service, you need to be able to figure out your location and how to get where you need to be the semi-old fashioned way. You can find step by step directions on how to download a google map on both android and iPhone here.

10. A Written List of Contacts
It’s always smart to have a list of emergency contacts on you when traveling in case you find yourself phoneless. You always want to be able to keep a few people updated on where you are and if you find yourself in a situation where you have car trouble, having a friendly voice on the other end of the line is pretty comforting.

I hope this list makes planning your next road trip a little easier!

The Great American Eclipse | The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 2

The Great American Eclipse | The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 2

The Great American Eclipse

The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 2

If you read Pt. 1, you know all about the awesome camping experience and my run-in with the moose family. Camping alone would have made for the best long weekend (especially when my birthday was part of it.) Why stop there when you are within driving distance of a point of totality for the great american eclipse of 2017?

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eclipse-chasers

casper-road-trip

Getting To Casper, WY

We got home from camping on Sunday afternoon and the closest point on the path of totality for the eclipse was 4:45h away without traffic. We had decided early on that we would drive in the night to avoid the apocalyptic traffic we had been hearing about. The more we watched the traffic on waze, we realized that going there probably wasn’t going to be a problem. The plan was to start driving around midnight, but we ended up pushing that back to 3am. I would say we timed it perfectly – we were able to stop on the way north and had time to get situated once we got to Casper, WY.

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The Eclipse

The town of Casper has an amphitheatre called David’s Station in the center of its’ main commercial district which, rumor has it, was built specifically for the eclipse festivities. It was the perfect spot to watch the big event. We found a seat along the edge where we would have a wall to lean up against and set up the picnic we brought. When we first sat down there were about 30 other people in the area. Even with that small number the energy was high. Each person’s anticipation radiated from them like the heat off the pavement.

As the clock got closer to 11:26am (the time of totality in Casper, WY) more and more people gathered in the amphitheater. The group of teens who thought they were too cool to be there, the family with 4 kids running in circles while their parents repeatedly reminded them to wear their protective glasses, the couple that had made a road trip from Baltimore – everyone was ready.

Then the light started to change. The warm, bright hues that had been washing over everyone providing a nice sunburn started to shift to a greenish blue. The temperature has dropped 2 degrees.

Seconds later, it looked like a storm was coming. The light that hits right before a tornado came over everyone, giving them a green glow. The temperature has dropped 4 degrees.

A minute passed and it was dark. For a second you could see nothing – without the sun shining, the protective lenses black everything out. Once you remember to remove the glasses and look around, everything around you is a silhouette. The temperature has dropped 7 degrees.

For 2:27 minutes you can stare directly at the sun, glasses free, and see its corona. In photos it looks like rays of light coming straight out from every side. I don’t think the photos do it justice. I saw curved, whip-like shapes surround the black silhouette of the moon. Each one glowing as it moved.

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All the Feels

I’ve never felt so small and huge at once, surrounded by so many people geeking out over the same phenomenon. After this experience I can totally understand why people spend their lives chasing eclipses. In fact, Tim is already trying to figure out the best place to be for the one that will pass through Chile in 2019, LOL.

With all the luck we had on the way up, we expected traffic on the way home. Our best guess was 8 hrs. Even going in with expectations of massive amounts of traffic did not prepare us for what we sat in. The worst part was that when we first got in the car the gps said 5 hrs and we would be home by 8:30 and then the beep tone that waze has letting you know there’s a delay started going off every 15 minutes 🙄 It ended up taking us somewhere between 10 and 11 hours to get back. My brothers had to go to school early the next morning and my sister was going to be packing to leave for college. Tim and I had camped all weekend so we were already low on sleep and we had been in charge of driving to Casper which meant we slept about 4 hours that night. Despite the state of pure exhaustion the entire group was in the following day, the trip was so worth it. It was the kind of experience that we will all remember for our entire lives.

What to Wear on a Summer Camping Trip | Packing List

What to Wear on a Summer Camping Trip | Packing List

I love camping. I grew up going on backpacking trips where you avoided bringing anything unnecessary because if you brought it, you were carrying it. Last week’s camping trip was way more tame and because we drove to our spot, we could bring whatever we wanted (we even had access to a kitchen and bathroom for part of it :).) When you’re not used to camping, knowing what to bring can be tough – especially if you are new to camping at high altitudes. Here is a list of what I brought (or similar items) on our three day camping trip in Colorado to help you out. You can shop my picks at the bottom of the post!

  • Sweatshirt – Have a light-weight sweatshirt on hand for when the sun begins to go down.
  • Protective eye wear – it is super important to wear sunnies with full UVA/UVB protection. If you can, always opt for polarized lenses.
  • Sports Bra – Because you aren’t showering, having access to a clean sports bra and underwear each day can make you feel like a brand new lady. Take advantage!
  • T’s & Tanks – Like with the sports bra, having a fresh shirt for each day can make a world of difference. Bring something loose fitting and comfortable that you can move around in.
  • Sneakers – Have your favorite sneakers on hand. They are great to have on when you are setting up your tent and less likely to notice trees/etc that you might stub your toe on. Be prepared for them to get dirty.
  • Hydroflask – I am obsessed with my Hydroflask water bottle. Obviously any water bottle will do – the important part is that you stay hydrated. I do love that My Hydroflask keeps my water cold all day, though.
  • Swim suit – I recommend going for a sporty cut. If you are camping near a lake, you will likely hike around a bit and you don’t want to have to worry about things popping out of place when you are climbing along!
  • Fleece – A heavier sweatshirt will be your saving grace once night sets in. I love my Patagonia fleece for camping, plus I practically live in it throughout the winter.
  • Sweatpants/Yoga Pants – These are another night time necessity. You’ll want something warm and snuggly to put on for when you sit around the camp fire.
  • Sturdy Denim – I bring one pair of pants and one pair of shorts in the sturdiest denim I have. This way I know when I am wearing them multiple days in a row back-to-back they will hold up.
  • Sunscreen – This goes along with the protective lenses. Always opt for the higher SPF, the higher you are the closer you are to the sun and its’ damaging rays.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to have layers available. When you are at a high altitude, the temperature changes at the drop of a hat, and you can really tell a difference once the sun goes down. What are your favorite items to bring along on hikes and for camping?

 

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P.S. I get commission for purchases or clicks made through the links below.

Camping in Red Feather Lakes, CO | The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 1

Camping in Red Feather Lakes, CO | The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 1

 

There aren’t a lot of times in life where things truly align in a way that make for an unbelievable experience. Aside from taking a couple of days off for my sister’s graduation back in may, I haven’t had any time off this year and was long overdue. It was time for a super extended long weekend. Not only that, but it was time for a super extended long weekend that takes place in Colorado where we could enjoy things like camping. 

Back when Tim and I went home for my sister’s graduation, she and I talked about making another trip out of her college move in day. Then we found out move in was the week after my birthday, so I could be home for my bday if this trip worked out. Then we found out that some friends were going camping and had room for us to join. Then we found out the eclipse was happening the Monday before move in and one of the best viewing spots was only 5 hrs from where my family lives. [You can read all about our Eclipse trip to Casper, WY here.] SO MANY GOOD THINGS!

The Camping Trip

Waking up to crisp mountain air is one of my favorite things in this world. There is a brief window in the morning when you sleep in a tent when the sun has begun to rise & everything is cool before the tent starts to heat up. That window makes for the perfect natural alarm clock + some extra incentive to get out and move around before your tent turns to a sauna lol.

The morning of my birthday I was up before everyone and able to take a mini hike on my own. I ended up hanging out in the hammock we had put up when we first got there a little outside of the main camp area. As I lay there soaking up the pine-scented air I heard a few snaps and cracks – twigs crunching nearby. I peaked out from the hammock and was face to face with a gigantic moose. Turned out that gigantic moose was minuscule in comparison to the rest of its crew – it was the baby of the family and mom and dad were close behind.

If you’ve never seen a moose, the best perspective I can give is this: when I was in hs I was driving home from the mountains late one night. I came around a turn and found my car side by side with an entire moose herd. I was driving an xterra and the top of my car was about chin height to the majority of them.

Needless to say I was spooked. As incredible as it is to see these dudes up close… it was a bit too close for comfort, with all that size comes serious power! I cocooned myself in the hammock and waited for them to wander away. The mom and baby split off on a quiet route away from camp but the dad walked straight through the tents so a few of the others got a chance to get up close and personal too. RISE AND SHINE lol.

When everyone was up and going we drove to one of the lakes nearby and set up for the day. Paddle boats, and drinks and hike made for the perfect day. It’s easy to tell yourself you don’t miss a place that much when you are away for extended periods of time. This camping trip pretty much obliterated any pretense I had about how much or how little I miss Colorado. I miss it a lot.

A Day In Asbury Park | Denim Cut-offs and an Oversized T for a Day at the Beach

Photos By Tim Becker 

Of all the shore towns in New Jersey, Asbury Park is my favorite. It’s followed closely by Cape May, but the lack of traffic makes it a solid number one. I love that you can easily sit down at a restaurant on the boardwalk and have a real meal and not just a slice of pizza or your other standard boardwalk foods. The architecture is fantastic, and I love the fact that the developers appear to be trying to keep them standing as they rebuild vs. tearing them down to start fresh. Old buildings are being utilized in awesome ways – there is a skatepark at the end of the boardwalk and murals all over the place. I love that there is an unapologetic grit to the city that welcomes you with open arms as you are and expects the same in return.

I first visited 4 years ago and it has been interesting to watch as the town has morphed and grown each time I return. With every visit  there is another shop front open on the boardwalk and a few more restaurants in town. There are also a few more new hotels that have opened up! I am going to be staying at The Asbury later this summer, I’ll be sure to let you know how it is!!

The Beach

Starting the day on the beach is always my plan. I lather up in spf 30 and throw on a sun hat for a few hours of quality book time. I tend to make sure that the clothes I wear to the beach can be easily used to shade me if I feel like I’m getting too much sun – an oversized light-weight T with denim shorts is my go to for sure. Easy off, easy on when I inevitably start to feel the burn.

For the Dogs

When I was looking at things to do in the afternoon on a Sunday aside from lounge on the beach, I squealed when I found Yappy Hour at the Wonder Bar. Yappy Hour runs from noon to 7pm every day of the week, all summer long!

Did you know Asbury Park is super dog friendly? The guy that manned the door into the dog area at the bar mentioned a doggy buffet, multiple dog-friendly hotels and a general positive attitude toward pups! My mom and I have a stay at The Asbury Hotel planned later this summer, and she is all set to bring her dog, which makes everyone happier.

All The Music

The first time I went to Asbury Park was to cover the Skate & Surf Music Festival for Tri-State Indie. We drove up to streets filled with people ready to spend the day listening to punk and hardcore music in the sun. On this trip, we ended the day at the Stone Pony watching Reel Big Fish in a sea of people. It was a great way to wrap the day up and I can’t wait to see more show there! The venue was awesome (keep in mind it’s cash only if you decide to head to a show there yourself.)