Thursday, February 26, 2015


have you ever wondered what it's like to spend
mardi gras in new orleans? well .... we're here 
to tell you all about what this crazy party is like!

one little fun fact :: we accidentally booked a trip
to new orleans months ago without realizing we
would be visiting at the absolute craziest time!

i knew mardi gras was in february, but a few months
ago we looked at the calendar and saw the long
holiday weekend that we planned to visit friends
in texas, and decided to tack new orleans on just
for fun! it was later while planning our trip that
i quickly realized we had **accidentally** planned
this spontaneous visit right over mardi gras..the 
BIGGEST event of the entire year there. at first
i thought about canceling this part of the trip, 
because i was worried that the craziness of mardi
gras would taint my first experience of new orleans..
but then i realized -- though it may have been 
accidental, it was a pretty good excuse to experience 
a once-in-a-lifetime event in a fun city! we decided to 
go for it, and we are so glad we did. we got to see
new orleans in its prime ... and it was magic!
leaving friends in houston --> and taking a short 40 minute
flight right into the madness of mardi gras! we got there
on sunday afternoon and our taxi driver couldn't 
even drop us close to our hotel because the streets
were shut down for endless parades all through 
the city. we could not quite believe our eyes. i've
never seen anything overtake a city like this does..
but in a positive way! it feels like every local is out
enjoying the festivities with all the tourists.
(and remember, this was still sunday ... a few 
days away from fat tuesday but already a party!)
each float & parade gets more ornate and crazy as
they go. we learned all about the mardi gras krewes
which are like big clubs that people are part of and
they put on the floats and parades. that's why there
are multiple MAJOR parades per day leading up to
tuesday, because they are all sponsoring their own!
locals know each krewe and can pick out all the floats.
we pushed through the craziness with our luggage
in tow, and finally made it to our hotel right in the
french quarter. it was quite the experience trying to
cross parade routes and push through more people 
than i've ever seen in my life, but after some waiting,
being smashed between people, being separated, almost
losing our bags, and yelling to a cop that i needed to get 
across the parade to where my husband was, we did it! :)
one thing to note about hotels in new orleans -- 
around mardi gras, security tightens up to keep 
people from stumbling into lobbies and sleeping
there or packing into rooms. so, when we checked in
a security guard had our names on a list as guests, and
we had to wear wristbands all weekend so that when
we came back the hotel knew we were real guests.
no one else is allowed into the hotel if you're not staying!
as it became night-time we got our energy up to go explore
and join the giant party! we walked all throughout the 
french quarter, down to café du monde for our first of
many beignet stops, and then along the famed bourbon st.
i was loving this city so much already that i hoped crazy
bourbon street wouldn't be a bad experience. although
it was insane, i actually thought it was really fun and lively
instead of feeling dangerous or disgusting! i was happily
surprised that even during the mardi gras celebrations, you
could walk down bourbon and just see lots of happy, lively,
(a bit tipsy :) people. of course if you are looking for it you
can find some raunchy things, but you can also find some
great things all around! i loved all the people PACKED onto
the balconies throwing beads all over the place, the jazz
music pumping through the soles of our feet on the streets,
and the atmosphere of one big fun, vibrant, wild party.
chase caught so many beads (and saved a few from
hitting me in the face i'm sure..) and then he'd put
them all around my neck. i thought people only got beads 
if they did bad things, haha but no -- beads are plentiful
and they are EVERYWHERE! on trees, on the streets,
flying through the air, on fences, & on everyone.
glitter and confetti and beads on the streets, EVERYWHERE
we took a little detour to see jackson square at night ^^
and a break to eat at acme oyster house, a new orleans classic
with very classic dishes of gumbo, jambalaya, red beans &
rice and grilled smoked sausage. a taste of everything!
 we had the best first experience here getting late-night
famous beignets and soaking in the atmosphere. sitting
down on the crowded patio of this famous café and
eating warm beignets and laughing and taking in the
atmosphere was one of those moments that it's just
good to be alive. i loved being there with chase.
^^ and that is saying a lot!

each night there was more madness and more parades! 
we chatted with some cops who told us that louisiana
sends hundreds of extra cops down to new orleans for
a few weeks during mardi gras to keep it all under control.
no wonder it feels so safe!

the krewe of bacchus has this giant alligator float each year
that people throw beads into as it passes by, so you can
see the mouth is full of them! chase loved chucking them - ha
it feels like everything is always open around the quarter
during mardi gras, so we had every excuse to keep eating
and enjoying and dancing and wandering around! i told
chase - "we are young & in love and we can stay up all night!"
but around 2 am i was the one dragging him home to sleep  because i was the tired one. i'm all talk and need my sleep!

^^ madness in the street after the parades late late at night..
it looks like the world has ended ... how do they clean that?
and somehow each morning, the streets are sparkling clean,
the city is quiet, and all is fresh again...until the next night!
* we did hear that they use a lemony scent in the street cleaner during mardi gras,
so in the morning the streets literally have a fresh lemon scent :)
lastly - you can't forget to try a famous king cake
to celebrate mardi gras with here! so yummy. ^^

thanks for having us at your big fancy party, new orleans!
you charmed us, delighted us, made us laugh, made us
blush, and made us dizzy and tired. we will never
forget this experience and can't wait to return!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

po' boys in new orleans

new orleans is a food city.
to me, a food city means that a place
not only has incredible places to eat, it also
has its own food and way of eating. new
orleans hits it out of the park when it comes
to the food. you have some of the southern
influence, some of the french, and a lot of
the new orleans original. from beignets to
gumbo to jambalaya to po'boys to crawfish,
i think we covered the spectrum in our short
visit. somehow we kept eating and eating!

today i'm sharing one of the classic spots
that makes new orleans and its food
is a well-known place in the big easy,
which is evidenced by the lively line
down the entire sidewalk. the difference
here is that it's not right in the french
quarter or a touristy spot -- it's north
where you have to work to get there.
this makes it feel like a true hotspot
when you see locals and in-the-know 
visitors in the line. it's a neighborhood
landmark and a true "new orleans
tradition." even president obama has
dined here! if you want to try a good
authentic po'boy, this is your spot.
^^ we took the streetcar from the french quarter
up to the area near bayou st. john where you
will find parkway. next, you will find a line:
but, it's fun line full of happy people because 
it's new orleans and that's the way things are!
straight to the good stuff : i got the golden fried
shrimp po'boy .. a classic! it was delicious, especially
with the unique remoulade sauce they have here.
a po'boy is a traditional sandwich that came from the
term "poor boy" since it was a cheap way to feed the
working class with leftover french bread slices. it it
still served on french bread with all different
kinds of meat / fried food and lots of fixings.
let's not forget the cold barq's rootbeer and
the sweet potato fries ....... perfect compliments!
chase had the popular roast beef all dressed up with
toppings and gravy galore. it was amazing & filling!
two really unique dishes we tried were:
fried pickles (above), and ... ALLIGATOR::
i was not so sure about this dish, but i think it was
my favorite of all. who knew alligator was so delicious?

this is a great stop in new orleans, and i can't
wait to share more in my new orleans guide!
^^ and a little behind-the-scenes of when we do a feature :)

thanks for having us, parkway!

we can't wait to come back next time we're 
in new orleans...we'll probably be full until then!

you can find parkway at
538 Hagan Avenue | New Orleans, LA 70119

Monday, February 23, 2015

new orleans, i love you

i think i already loved new orleans before even arriving.
i loved that it has a french influence. i loved that it is unique. 
i love that it has the feel of the south, but with its own
spunk and spirit in the air. i loved that it is unpredictable, 
crazy, wild, and exciting while also remaining charming.

and now that i've visited...

new orleans, you are irresistible. 
you are hard to ignore. 
you are happy and friendly 
and unlike any other city.
i love you new orleans, and
i already want to come back to you! 
you are a feast for all senses ... 
you taste AMAZING with your beignets and
fried everything, you are a babe with your iconic 
pastel homes in rows and balconies, & with the 
sound of jazz music playing all through the streets
you have such a tangible feeling in the air! 
you made us leave wanting more.
we stayed in the french quarter and were quickly
smitten with the lively, darling area. all the streets
have french names, there is food and music and
laughter everywhere, and i wanted to move into
every single home. it's a dream. we happened to
be here leading up to mardi gras, so we saw it
in it's prime...and it was still darling even with the
craziness! we wandered and wandered all through
the french quarter, loving it more at each turn.
we walked all the way from the quarter uptown into 
the garden district, and somehow i fell even more in love.
what is this city with so many amazing aspects to it??
i was wearing a pretty fitting shirt to explore the garden 
district in, especially with the heavenly blooming magnolias!
the homes in the garden district >>> i have no words.
when can i move in any//all of these?
i like that although this is the most expensive part
of the city, the homes are still classic and not all modern.
back to café du monde for our second time in 12 hours,
because they're never better! and because of all the walking. 
we even got some to-go AFTER having them inside.
do you think chase liked them? haha! ^^^^
^^ and this is saying a lot! hah, we also stocked up on 
a few of these beignet mixes for when we 
are missing new orleans once we get home ^^
we had a tour of one of nola's famous cemeteries.
the reason they are so beautiful and unique here is
because the city is below sea level, so there are no
underground burials. all cemeteries are above-ground
graves which i kind of love. they are really pretty to
stroll through, and a lot of locals walk through often.
we made our way back into the quarter for some
more exploring as it got a little bit cloudy. we
saw the city in all different weather and loved it all!
you can tell we're in the french quarter because somewhere
along the way someone gave me pink beads to wear... ha
around mardi gras, beads are just part of the city's decor.
it's hilarious! i loved this magnolia tree sprinkled with them.
time for a stop to try po' boy sandwiches!!
{more on this amazing place later...}
^^ the praline candy is BIG in new orleans, and once we
sampled it we were big fans. we ate so healthy here! :)
this little glimpse into new orleans makes me miss it
already... i hope it shows the beauty and pizazz of
this town! i'm a big big fan. i'm excited to still share
our crazy MARDI GRAS experience here!! it showed
us new orleans at its best {and wildest} and it just
made us feel even more connected to it!


... more about mardi gras soon ...