Eating My Way Through New Orleans

I just got back from my first national library conference in New Orleans. I had been to the Big Easy several years ago but only for a couple days, so I didn’t get to extensively try the food. I more than made up for that this time though! In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than southern cooking and I was not disappointed.

My plane landed around noon, so I picked up my rental car then quickly dropped my bags off at my AirBnB, then swung by Johnny Sanchez for lunch. I had the empanadas, which were SO GOOD and filled with plantains and chorizo, covered in cotja cheese and served with a cilantro ranch dipping sauce. They were excellent, although the portions were more appetizer sized and the prices on the high side. It helped tide me over through the opening conference session and until dinner.

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The first amazing meal was technically not in New Orleans, but in the small town of Slidell, which is north of the city. I met up with a friend at The Blind Tiger and tried some of their mahi mahi fish tacos. I’ll be upfront with you here: I’ve never had a fish taco and I really don’t care much for fish unless it’s fried or mild, like tilapia or mahi mahi. So I went outside my comfort zone here and IT PAID OFF. These tacos were so delicious! I highly recommend stopping at this local joint if you find yourself in Slidell. I’m sad to say, I forgot to take a photo of my food, but here’s one I snagged off Trip Advisor.


This photo of The Blind Tiger is courtesy of TripAdvisor

For breakfast on Saturday morning, I got an Uber to Elizabeth’s which wasn’t open yet but already had a line forming outside. They’re noted for breakfast, especially the praline bacon. I opted for Bananas Foster French Toast and wow was it good. I couldn’t finish it all – the portions were huge. I was unprepared for the type of bread they used – it was more like a french bread and not the typical sandwich bread we all use here in the Midwest.

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Saturday night in New Orleans, I met up with my library director for dinner at Coop’s Place in the French Quarter. It was not what I expected! It was a tiny, hole in the wall bar but it had been highly recommended so we tried it anyway. I got red beans and rice and while it was good, I honestly think I’ve had better. It was still a fun experience and there are other things on the menu that look delicious too.

Coops Place

Sunday I was way too busy to leave the convention center so I had pizza for lunch (boring) but Sunday night, I had my best meal of the whole trip at The Rum House on Magazine Street.

They specialize in Caribbean infused taco dishes and of course, rum drinks! I got two tacos with plantains and black beans. SO GOOD. The jerk chicken taco was topped with mango salsa and the Carolina BBQ taco was topped with corn relish and BBQ sauce. There were so many to choose from. I probably should have eaten here twice because the menu is so extensive and it was hard to choose what I wanted. I also indulged in a rum punch that really hit the spot and also went well with my dinner. I thought about key lime pie but was too full to eat anything else that night.

Monday was kind of my sleep in morning, so I skipped breakfast and once again ate lunch at the convention center because my afternoon was very busy with things to do. That evening, I decided to walk down to St. Roch Market, which was near my AirBnB. It was such a cute place and they also have a location in Miami. It’s located in an old factory that they’ve re-vamped and there are lots of different food vendors to order from and you can eat inside or out.

It seems I can’t stay away from Mexican food, because I ordered a burrito bowl with street corn on top. I got a mint lemonade from another vendor and it made for a really delicious dinner. Saint Roch area is an up an coming neighborhood, so if you’re ever looking to escape the French Quarter, I suggest checking it out.

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Tuesday was my last full day in the city and I was all finished with my conference, so I met up with my friend Shana who graciously showed me around and did all of the driving for the day. We started the morning at Cafe Du Monde for some glorious beignets.

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After breakfast, we walked around the French Quarter then headed to Oak Alley Plantation (more on that in another post). We spent a couple hours there, then headed back to New Orleans, where we walked through their unique cemeteries before having lunch and ice cream on Magazine Street.

I got chicken schwarma from Anatolia, which is a Turkish/MediterraneanĀ restaurant along the main drag. The portions were huge! And there’s a really good variety to choose from.

Finally, we ended our day with a scoop of ice cream from Sucre, a fabulous sweet shop with ice cream, macaroons and other sweet treats. Also located on Magazine Street, all goodies are made in house.

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New Orleans Packing List

I’m traveling again this week to a work conference in New Orleans. I expect it to be much hotter than Alaska! Since I’ll be in a professional environment, I plan to mostly pack cool, yet comfortable skirts and dresses along with comfortable shoes.

Here’s a peak at some of the items I’m planning on taking with me.


Target Striped Skirt, Black V-Neck, Toms Lexie Sandals

BP straw Fedora from Nordstrom, Express Denim Dress

Striped T-Shirt dress, Gray Converse

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Black v-neck dress from Dottie Couture (also comes in pink too!)

Free People Lace Dress (thrifted from Poshmark – similar), Free People Denim Jacket

Cruise Vacation to Alaska

Alaska has been on my must-see list for years and coincidentally, the 49th state became my 49th state to visit. We talked about going last year but decided on Italy and Greece instead. This year, we made it happen though and were not disappointed!

Instead of flying and driving through the state, we opted for a seven day cruise as many places can only be reached by plane or boat anyway. Our ship, the Ruby Princess, left from Seattle, Washington and took us to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan and finally Victoria, British Colombia before returning to Seattle.

Our first full day was spent at sea – it’s 902 nautical miles from Seattle to Juneau so we had a lot of ground to cover before docking early on Monday morning. It was kind of nice to have that first day to explore the boat, enjoy the food and take in some of the on board activities around the ship.

I booked two excursions for Juneau – one that Adam and I did together and another I did alone. We took a short bus ride to Mendenhall Glacier, hiked a trail that took us to a waterfall and a great view of the glacier, then hiked back to get warm in the visitor’s center before catching our bus back into town.

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(Camo hoodie, beanie, boots)

I grabbed a quick lunch, then set off on my second tour of the day – Sled Dog camp! The bus took us up into the mountains where we met several teams of sled dogs, many who had run Iditarod races. They divided us up into groups of six and we all got to ride behind in a “sled” while the dogs raced through the forest. I was really surprised at how fast a team of dogs can run and impressed that they were pulling about 1,000 lbs. of weight with no problem. We then learned about the dogs, met some PUPPIES and had hot chocolate before heading back to the boat.

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Our next port of call was Skagway, Alaska. An even smaller town than Juneau with less than 1,000 people living in the area, Skagway was once home to the White Pass Railroad, an important part of Alaska’s mining past. Now it takes tourists to the top of the mountain and back.

Skagway has no dentist or doctor – residents in need of emergency medical care have to be flown elsewhere for serious medical care and our tour guide told us most carry a special insurance plan that covers the cost of medical evacuation.

The weather in Skagway was beautiful. Sunny and mid-50s, we only needed light jackets even when getting out at the top of the summit. Most tourists take the train, but in my quest to get photos at all 50 state signs, taking a small bus was the only way to achieve that in Alaska. I’m actually really glad we did this tour anyway, because hearing people talk about the train, you aren’t allowed photo stops and we definitely enjoyed seeing the scenery.

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(Jean jacket, striped thermal, ripped black skinnies, Converse)

Our fourth day on the cruise was spent taking in the beautiful scenery of Glacier Bay National Park. Park rangers boarded the boat and provided commentary about the glaciers that we sailed by as well as nature talks in the theater.

The captain of the ship stayed at the most famous glacier, Margerie Glacier, for about an hour and we sat outside on the deck to take in the cool clue/green waters, calving glaciers and fresh Alaskan air.

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Day five took us to Ketchikan, where we disembarked fairly early in the morning and only had a few hours in the port. I had scheduled a hike through the Alaskan Rainforest Sanctuary in hopes of seeing some more wildlife and we had another pretty good weather day for that. It misted a bit but nothing heavy and stopped pretty much right after we started our hike.

No bear sightings, although we did see signs of them. In addition to the rescued bald eagles they had on site, there was a pair nesting up in some trees and that was neat to see. After our hike, it was back to the boat for another day at sea.

I was a bit disappointed we didn’t really get to explore the town – it would have been nice to have a couple extra hours so we could look around on foot but at least we got to see it from the bus.

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Our sixth day at sea seemed incredibly long – we pretty much exhausted all the trivia contests and game shows on the boat that day and also went to the final “Voice of the Ocean” competition. About half of day seven was also spent sailing until we got to our final port: Victoria, British Colombia.

We weren’t there very long either and arrived in the evening, so daylight hours were short. I booked a whale watching excursion at the last minute because at that point, I’d only seen one humpback whale and really wanted to see more. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, although the tour company really tried to find some they’d located on the tour just before us. We got back as it was getting dark, so they took us on a boat tour of the harbor, which was lit up at night.

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From there, it was back to the states and we were one of the first groups off the ship the next morning. We picked up a rental, drove 3 1/2 hours to Spokane so I could get the Washington and Idaho state signs, then flew home on Sunday.

It was an amazing trip and I highly recommend taking an Alaskan cruise if you can! We would have loved to have seen Denali National Park and Anchorage, but time didn’t allow for those stops this time – maybe someday we’ll get back!

We used Princess Cruise lines, which I have used twice before – once for a British Isles cruise and also to the Caribbean. The boats all seem the same to me, but the service, activities and food was exceptional.

I’m not sure where we’ll go next – I have a couple short trips before the end of the summer but we’re exploring traveling internationally again as well as either going to the east coast (which I tend to neglect) or San Francisco.

So much to see, so little time to see it all šŸ™‚

DIY Coffee Table

My old hand-me-down coffee table recently broke. I really didn’t like it too much anyway but at the time, needed something and as a poor college student, I couldn’t afford something new. So this was the perfect opportunity to get something more my style!

I had an idea of what I wanted but everything online that was similar to what I was wanting was super expensive or you had to put together yourself – something neither my husband nor I are very good at. And I didn’t want an un-sturdy table.

So I started checking with local places and getting quotes about a custom build and paint job. It was going to run me about $500, which I still didn’t want to pay. THEN, I found a perfect table on Facebook Marketplace (of all places) and the lady who built it said she could do a custom piece for me and leave the wood natural so I could stain and paint it myself. And she only charged me $100. SCORE!

My brother-in-law offered to teach me how to stain and I used these plans to get my final look.

Here’s the table in its natural state.

We sanded it again, even though the builder did a pretty good job herself.

To achieve the stained top, I used Minwax in Early American. It took three coats. We then used a clear semi-gloss protective coating over that. I also used three coats of that.

Here’s the top!

Next, it was time to paint. I bought chalk paint, which is super easy to work with and dries incredibly fast. Those came from a local shop called Simplify. I wanted to support local businesses as much as I could with this project. They sell Debi’s Design Diary brand chalk paint, which you can buy online.


For the base coat, I used the color Weathered Wood. It only took one coat and I painted it inside since chalk paint is odorless. It really looks good like this too and would be great for a guy’s apartment.

I let it dry overnight, then used the color Vintage Linen over the gray. I did very little distressing once that was dry and most of what you see showing through is just the way I painted it to give it a distressed look. For the distressing that I did do (mostly on the legs), I used a baby wipe. It works like a dream and you don’t have to mess with sandpaper.

Once the paint was dry, I sealed it with a wax coating that dries clear but protects the wood.

Please excuse the terrible lighting and ugly carpet – we still live in an apartment so it’s hard to take amazing home photos but this table really makes the space look so much better. I can’t wait until we own our own home and can put it in our future living room!

If you have any questions about this process, please let me know. I am excited to try some more DIY projects in the future.

What I’m Packing for My Alaska Trip

I’m so excited to be taking a Princess Cruise to Alaska! We’re leaving in a little under two weeks and I’ve been kind of unsure what to pack. When you think of Alaska, you think it must be snowing all the time, but according to some friends who have been, June is one of the best months to go and it will sometimes climb up into the 80s.

I was told to dress in layers, so I’m planning to take lots of thermals, tees and tanks that I can easily shed if I get hot. I’ll also probably take a couple fleece jackets and a lightweight rain coat, along with rain boots. I found a PACKABLE rain boot from Hunter at a great price at Nordstrom Rack and I love that you can easily fold the boots down to save space in your suitcase. I always carry on so this is a must.

On the boat, we have a couple formal dinner nights, so I’m taking a few nicer dresses to wear to dinner too.

Here’s a peak inside my suitcase and you can expect a full recap of the trip once we get back!

Thermals

Free People Kai Henley, Free People Laguna Thermal & Free People Friday Feelin’ Tee.

Boots & Boot Socks


Navy Packable Hunter Boots, Hunter Boot Socks, Sperry Duck Boot


Jackets & Fleece

Kate Spade rain jacket, North Face Resolve Rain Jacket, Color Block FleeceĀ Ā (sold out from Closet Candy Boutique – similar style linked), North Face Fleece.Ā 

 
Dresses


Everly Maxi dress – sold out but from Dottie Couture. Ruffled teal dress from Sweet Olive.Ā