Posted in My Travels

New Orleans 2019- Day 2

Day 2- The first half of my day was spent on my own trekking around the French Quarter.  WHAT. A. BEAUTIFUL.NEIGHBORHOOD!

My husband went off to speak at the conference ridiculously early. He left so quietly that I was able to stay asleep soundly. I have to share this part of myself, I LIKE TO SLEEP IN. I ended up waking from sleep at around 9:40AM. This. Was. The. Best. Start. To. My. Vacation. I hopped out of bed to open the room darkening curtains to find glowing sunshine. Yes! Grabbed an outfit and hit the shower. This room had a great shower, the kind of shower head that is above your head not off the wall. And the water came out of it in a lush waterfall. Ahh. It was relaxing. I took my time getting ready, watching some TV along the way. The little luxuries I don’t have time for at home unless I am home without kids.

Did I mention no kids on this trip??? Haha

By the time I got my big butt out the door it was 11:20AM! And, I was starving! Luckily, across the street was a remarkable cafè, Revelator Coffee Company. Unluckily, they didn’t have food this morning (my husband had the same fortune, as he told me later.). I grabbed a 12oz latte, they serve by size in ounces not small/medium/large, and made my way to French Truck Coffee for something to eat, and to peruse through my travel book and online bookmarks. By this time, my husband called to check in, asking me, with his loving concerned voice, where I was, if I had gotten coffee and where I was planning to go. He told me his talk went well, and repeated his itinerary for the day. I had decided, while sitting in the cafè, right before he called, to take my own Anne Rice tour of the French Quarter then meet up with him at the Marriott on Canal for a quick hello, as he had a meeting scheduled to break at 2:30PM. He had a window of time before going back to the convention center.

Any Anne Rice fans reading today? She is a spectacular writer, and used her city as the backdrop for most of her books.  As a younger woman I had read a few of her books. The world she created always fascinated me with her romanticized characters, bloody stories and mysteries. Then when the movies came out, it was beyond a thrill to watch.  So, I figured since I was in New Orleans that I should pay some homage.  When I google mapped a route, I found that one of the houses was about a mile away, a twenty minute walk, down Royal Street. Which we had walked down a part of the day before. The cafè I was in was a few steps from St Charles, which a few blocks down made its way to Royal Street. Royal had a lot going on.. shops, music, and art galleries, just my speed to check out.

So off I went.

First stop was over to the only Starbucks I had seen the whole trip, on the corner of Canal and St Charles Street. At least I think that is where I was, hahah. Where, of course, I grabbed a New Orleans themed mug.  I can’t give up this tradition quite yet. My cabinets wish I could though.  From there I got to see the St Charles St trolleys in action, which were beautifully painted red and green.  Ringing their bells as they went by.  I love trolleys, especially the ones in San Francisco, but these trolleys were special, too.

The best parts of walking around on your own is that you can stop anywhere without anyone giving you grief. Not that my family does that, they are truly great to walk around with, but there’s a freedom to just go where you want without anyone around asking you for things or pushing you to something else.  I had the whole day at my leisure, and let me tell you I took full advantage.

I ended up going into every store because the humidity was pretty high, not a complaint, but my hair needed the breaks!  haha I ended up tasting homemade pralines and hot sauces while talking to the local people.  It had started to rain as I left the praline shop. I tucked myself away under a balcony by a sidewalk to grab my umbrella, when I noticed a big brass band playing jazz. They were spectacular.  The banjo player was walking around through the crowd, and he was just so cute and talented, most of the folks walking by stopped to take a listen.

Really, I had such a great time shopping for souvenirs.  There were so many eclectic shops filled with unique gifts. As soon as the rain started it stopped, and I was keeping on my trek of finding the first stop on my Anne Rice tour, the houses along 700-900 Royal, then a walk a couple of blocks to the the Gallier House. This was home to vampires Lestat and Louis in Interview with the Vampire. From there I took a coffee break, where I got some time to rest up my feet and talk to my husband a little bit. He was on his way to lunch with everyone and wanted to make sure all was kosher with me.  It was :).

After my coffee break, I took a walk up to 632 Dumaine Street to see Madame John’s Legacy house, which was where they filmed some of the movie IWAV. The house was closed for renovations, so I kept going forwards down Dumaine Street.  I took a right down a small street and ended up upon Jackson Square.  Which was beautifully laid out.  Across from Jackson Square is Cafe du Monde, another Anne Rice book spot, and an amazing place for coffee and beignets (but I don’t go till our last day because of timing).  Beyond the bustling street of Decateur, is a set of stairs that takes you across to the Mississippi River.  And you are right to think I sang typing that out just now.

MI-SSI-SSI-PPI

New Orleans is such an interesting place. The Mississippi River sloshes right up to the city, without walls or barriers.  None either while walking along it for a mile..NONE!  The brown water tries to glimmer in the sun as the freighters chug along puffing smoke from their engines.  It felt like I was watching a television show on a time that once was.  They recently put in a walking path along the river, aptly named The River Walk.  I talked to my husband about meeting him for a brief minute after 2:30PM, so I decided to make my way to the hotel from there.  I didn’t realize how far a walk it was, because, baby, it was FAR.  But it was a nice walk.  Lots of tourists and school groups checking out the local history right along with me, so it was sweet.

Then I finally made my way to say hi to my husband at the Marriott on Canal.  Boy, what a walk!  He was wrapping up a meeting, and I just quickly went by to give a kiss hello and rest my feet a bit.  He didn’t have much time, so he went on his way and I went to go find food.  I went down to Mother’s Restaurant for a po’boy.  I had read this was the place to go to have one.  Not only did I read that, but one of our Uber drivers from the night before was adamant I go.  The place is pretty unassuming, a cafeteria style place with lots of memorabilia on the walls. You order at the cashier and sit, then someone brings you the order.  I treated myself to a Coke, which I rarely do, and a small shrimp po’boy.  I ate every single piece of that sandwich.  HOLY DELICIOUS.

After this meal, I took a walk around the area then headed to our hotel.  All I was told by my husband was that he would be back a certain time and that I should be ready to go out for dinner and then more museum convention events. I believe there were three going on this night. But dinner where?  He didn’t want to ruin it for me.  He likes surprising me, and he does this a few times on this trip..which I think is why I loved NOLA so much.

Second half of my day started off amazingly.

I got ready to go out for dinner just in time for my husband to make it back to the hotel.   We walk about three blocks to the restaurant he wouldn’t tell me about.. which was EMERIL’S!!  YAY!!!!  I was hoping we would get the chance to go!!  Just a back story, when he asked me where I wanted to go while in New Orleans, I had said at least one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, because, BAM!, I love him.  He sort of skirted around telling me he couldn’t get reservations to any of them, but only that he scored reservations to a few places I wouldn’t be disappointed with.

Dinner was superb.  The service in this place is top notch, we had a gaggle of servers to attend to us, by far the best service of our lives, and we have dined in some swanky $$$$ places, my friends.  We got a couple of cocktails to start, a side car for me, of course. Then we were served bread 3-ways; pepper focaccia, corn bread, and rustic white bread.  Just the bread alone was worth the trip into the city, haha.  We ordered lobster fettuccini, filet, and a chocolate soufflé.  Very straight forward dishes, but the way they served them and how they put the components on the dish together was ..in a word..perfect. My husband’s pasta dish was so lush and creamy, and the lobster was delicious. That filet with the creme fraiche sauce was the best of my life.

I didn’t want to leave this restaurant, but we had to. 😦

We left there to head over to the first museum of the night, the Museum of Art.  What a beautiful spot.  The whole place was electric with people walking around.  They had these women dressed in the coolest costumes I had ever seen.  They each had a full body suit on in the theme of the character, like a peacock for instance.  Then the costume had a light up piece, like the peacock feathers she wore propped up.  It was so cool.

My husband knew a lot of people at this party, and we ended up having one of the folks he knew from MN join us to walk the gardens.  This is where they had stations of food and bars set up.  As we were walking along we bump into his colleagues from his office, who become our group through the night. We hopped from station to station grabbing drinks, and talking, and gathering more folks into the group.  I met a lot of great people this night.  From the art museum we walked down to the next location which was the children’s museum, it was set up outside as the building was under construction.  We hung out here a long while drinking and talking, and after a while our group got larger, and decided to walk to the next stop.  The next stop was short lived, we grabbed a mint julep and talked to two people then all ran for the buses to take us back to the main hotel for the event.

When we got to the hotel, we decided to go on partying and bar hopping. Which I was excited for, because I wanted to head to the Hotel Monteleone to get another sight from Anne Rice crossed off my list, AND, because they have the carousel bar inside.  This bar is so beautiful, and surrounds the inner workings of a carousel.  As you sit at the bar you spin, the bartenders and such stay static, but you go around.  Now, all I can say is that these bartenders have a great memory, because after one spin around I would forget who was who and what they owed me.  hahah

From the carousel, we headed down to Bourbon Street.

Ok, so I said my second half of the day started amazingly, so does this mean it ended not so amazingly..and the answer is.. sort of!??

Let me explain.  The night wasn’t terrible, nothing dramatic happened or anything, it’s that some of us drank a lot.  We were socially having a great time, and well, we drink, and party over here, and then over there.. then over here. And then at that place…and let’s just say, etc., etc. Some of us get hammered.  Some of us get trashed.  Some of us don’t remember much other than waking up with a massive hangover.

That would be most of the group we are with, including yours truly. 🙂  But the good thing is, I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day as they did!  hahah

Overall, it was a real fun night, but it leaves me quite quiet the next morning.  😛

 

 

Posted in My Travels

New Orleans 2019- Day 1

HelloooOoo, my beautiful WordPress readers!

Last week I joined my husband on a work trip to New Orleans…our very first time visiting. He had to speak and attend a museum conference, and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to tag along. So glad that I did.

What a dynamic city!

New Orleans is rich with history and tradition; it’s welcoming and familiar. It’s culinarily vibrant. Architecturally beautiful. It’s diverse. Artsy. A phenomenal party city. It’s musical. Eclectic. It’s friendly. And it’s hot!! (Which is not a complaint. I’m a heat loving girl!). I have never enjoyed a city as I did on this trip.

To acclimate myself on sights, sounds, and eats, I did do research online and in books, but then I just ran on my own wits when I got there for fun. It is the perfect city to abandon guided ideas to and get lost in adventure. That seems to be my ‘thing’ when traveling.

A good portion of my days on this trip were on my own, because of my husband’s daytime schedule, and we went without our two kids. I know! Woo!! It never was an issue for me to be on my own, however; I think New Orleans is a great place for a single person. Even though it is a city, it’s not astronomically large, like, say, LA, where you need a car. There’s a trolley system that is proficient and the city is definitely walkable. Ubers and Lyfts are everywhere, too. But the best part is that the people are super friendly. And I mean friendly. It was odd for me at first. Being from Boston, up North, the people are like the weather; we pride ourselves on being friendly, but in reality, we are selectively friendly… when we feel like it. In New Orleans, you will get hellos from every direction as you walk, from even the sketchiest folks. You will hear a lot of people address you as ‘Sugar’, ‘Baby’, ‘Honey’, or, as I even got a ‘Sugar Baby, Honey’! Haha. The folks we encountered were special for sure and I liked that intimate interaction even for those brief moments. Well, one woman did talk to me for thirty minutes as I was buying pralines from her. She was an immigrant from Thailand, and our conversation was about the history of New Orleans..and, we got to talking because of plastic bag usage. We were both not fans of using them, and she liked that I had my own bags to carry souvenirs so she just started talking to me over that commonality. She was so sweet and I believe she called me ‘Miss Lady’ fifty times, which kind of made me chuckle.

The local people are usually the best part of travel, just FYI. They show us how people are culturally different but for the most part, are the same. The interactions we had with that ‘Southern hospitality’, we had always heard of growing up, actually made me feel good, and a community connection. I kind of like being told I am sweet as sugar. 😉

Now let me talk about the food in New Orleans. New Orleans is as awesomely food centric as a great city can be. If you follow me, or know me, you see that I am pretty food obsessed myself. Food is a large part of the traveling experience. Second to the locals, it is a great way to understand the cities and towns you visit. Sounds weird, but it is absolutely fact. Travel Italy from the North of the Alps to the edge of Sicily tasting all the different pastas, or Paris for breads, or even hit up NYC for pizza, and you will understand how each region has its unique spin and/or ingredients, which taps a real connection within us to the culture and to that place. Especially, if that place uses ingredients locally. Enjoying (or not) a meal, in general, is like an automatic trip whenever you eat that meal again.  Like from my favorite scene from Ratatouille; the one when Anton Ego eats the ratatouille (a peasant dish- which I love to eat myself) at Gusteau’s restaurant. He is immediately transformed from a cold man to a joyous boy when he traveled back to that special place and time… from just a bite. Boy, I just love that scene!!

Though my trip to New Orleans was short, it left an impact on my soul.  Which means, I will definitely be going back there one day!

Ok, let me get started with the actual trip with photos and what not.

Day 1- The Cambria Hotel, a Quick Adventure then Two Parties

We took off for New Orleans pretty early, as we had to drop off our daughters to my in-laws first. The only good thing about traveling on a Sunday is there is barely any traffic heading to the airport, so we drove right in within 25 minutes. Parked then our adventure began!

We got to New Orleans at about 1:15PM.  It was grey with rain, but we didn’t care much since the day was to be spent bouncing around indoors at functions.  We checked into our hotel, The Cambria, right in the city. This hotel was decorated so cute inside that I almost died.  Almost.  We had originally booked the Marriott on Canal, but changed it so my husband could walk to the Convention Center if needed. At first I was apprehensive to change, but man, I am so glad that we did!  This hotel was just perfect for us in every way.

We got ourselves put together for a run to grab some food in the French Quarter.  One of us didn’t eat anything but the blue chips on the plane and was about to eat their purse. (ME)  The walk from our hotel to the French Quarter was just a quick 20 minutes, but with so many things to see it felt way faster than that.  The rain stopped and the skies opened up to partial sun!  WOOHOOO!!  Walking around to the French Quarter was un, and boy, what a beautiful city.  There are so many buildings ornate and stuck in a different time. We walked down a lot of their well-known streets like Royal Street, Decatur Street, Chartres Street, and Bourbon Street, which in the daytime looks very unassuming, just tired and dirty. haha I want to make a joke here but I think I shall refrain.

We stopped into Kingfish Kitchen for our first meal of the trip.  IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  We got greeted by the sweetest staff, with their Louisiana drawl seeping through their words a bit.  We opted to sit by the window to people watch, which was a good idea.  See New Orleans doesn’t have open container laws, people just walk around with cocktails and beers all day long.  As long as it’s in a plastic cup, there is no one to stop you from public drinking.  Needless to say, I watched a TON of people at 5PM holding onto large fish bowl style cups having a great time walking past that window.  I loved it!  hahah

We had two plans after hitting the Kingfish, two parties.  One was a private function at a design house and the other was the kick-off celebration for the museum convention.  Sounded boring to me, but guess what, guys?  Not at all boring!!  So, as we had to head to two parties afterwards we didn’t want to totally pig out on this meal.  We grabbed a set of daiquiris to start, because we miss Cuba so much, and then two dishes to split, a shrimp and grits and a pork taco with crackling.  Gosh, I can’t tell you how amazing these two dishes were without salivating right now.  I have NEVer, and I mean never, had shrimp and grits this good!  NEVer!  And this was my first attempt at eating crackling, fried fatty pork skin, which is the most delicious food ever invented.  After another round of drinks, we took off on foot to our next stop, the private party.

Well, I wore the worst shoes for my first day, especially for walking as much as we were, that making it to the first place was pretty taxing on my feet.  We decided on the walk that we would go back to the hotel after this party to change for the next event, which is another “so glad we did” moment. haha  But let me go back to the private party.

This party was by invitation only and thrown by a design firm in New Orleans.  We all figured this party was going to be drinks in an office, but again, we were so wrong!!  We were greeted at the door of the firm by two lovely people who handed us drinks and waved us in towards the elevator to go up to the second floor.  Before going up, one of my husband’s colleagues, Ed, arrived. Which made me happy, since I love Ed and knew no one else by my husband.  We all got on the elevator together, wondering where we were headed.

On the second floor was the firm’s owner’s flat..and by flat I mean HOLY CRAP AMAZING APARTMENT!!  Wowweewowwowow!!  The place was perfection in every way, except I was not living in it. It was decked out with plush designer furnishings, an outdoor deck with pool, and it smelled like fresh squeezed Sicilian oranges.  Just perfect.

We walked around a bit, grabbed a drink at the bar set up at the front, then headed for outside. There was a brass band playing on the back deck that lead to a newly installed pool that overlooked N’Orlins, as the firm’s associate outside was saying it to us.

I wonder what it’s like to have money.

There’s Ed finding us, eventually, outside.

The catering at this party was crazy good. I, again, tried something new, broiled oysters Rockefeller. And holy frack, was I missing out never trying these before.  I swear I ate like six in twenty minutes.  Ok, I am slightly exaggerating, more like 25 minutes.  hahah The prosecco flowed, and conversations did too, it was a good place; and my husband was having a great time with colleagues and networking with new people, too.

I got to sit on some plush seats around the apartment to rest up my feet, too!  heehee

I did not want to leave, but I had to. Our first stop out of there was back to the hotel for a shoes change and then we were off to the second party.  This was the kick-off celebration for the convention, and it was at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, which was to say the least, interesting.  The place is decked out with tons of vintage or vintage-inspired signs, props and photos.  There was a lot of fun going on with walking through the swarms of people.  But personally speaking, this museum party was more odd than a celebration.  Maybe I am odd?, but it was set up wonky and there wasn’t much food or drinks to celebrate with; we figured the party would have been to the nines with food and beverages, seeing that we were at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum… but we were wrong! hahah  This is why you eat before going out!

Anyways, this was a fun stop after all. I got to meet a lot of people in the museum world, some familiar too, and I got to talk with the Museum of Science folks who were traveling separately from us to the convention.  There was only a small group from Boston on this trip, which was nice.

We had to make this an early night, as my husband had to talk at the convention pretty early.  We hung out at the museum till around 10:30PM, then jetted right back to the hotel to wind down and unpack.  I secretly wanted to head back to the design firm’s party, but oh well.  😉

It was a pretty fun day to start this trip!

 

Posted in Random Stuff

Mother’s Day 2019

Hello WordPressland!!

Hope you had a great Mother’s Day weekend celebrating all the mothers in your lives.

What. A. Fantastic. Weekend.

Let me start with Friday. Per usual, it’s a holiday so I treated myself to a new pair of earrings that I have been coveting for a while. They finally went on sale, so, of course, I bought them. Love them?? They’re blue and green snakes by Betsey Johnson.

Then Saturday was a mix of work and fun; but more fun than work.

Saturday was my last free full day before going away, heading to New Orleans with my husband this Sunday. I was saving it for us to scrub the house, pack and do some laundry. But my sister ended up asking me and the girls to go out for pedis and lunch with our mom, which was tough to squeeze in. So, we met up with them for pedicures.  We had so much fun, well, me and my oldest did anyways.  We got seated together, then a few seats down were my mom and sister, then a few seats down from them was my youngest. :\  But, regardless of how we were spaced out, our pedis came out great and it was nice to spend the time with my family.

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We rushed home after the nail salon to clean up the house.  My girls really did an amazing job cooperating on cleaning up. My husband ended up having to work last minute, so it was just the three of us.  With one man down, we worked so well together, they turned out to be so helpful, that we got through the major parts of the house in record timing. My gosh my kids have a lot of things!    All that hard work left us the night free.  Since my husband worked most of the day, and we were tired from running around all day, we decided to meet up with our besties last-minute for dinner at Biltmore and Main, which was super-fantastic.

The blood orange whiskey I got there was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Biltmore and Main- Steak tips w chimichurri sauce, mash potatoes and asparagus

Sunday; Mother’s Day, started off perfectly!

My kids slept in late, which is a bonus in the parenting department. Especially at our house where our oldest is up and out of the house by 6:45AM! The skies were gray but that didn’t put a dent in our moods. The girls and I hung out making coffee as my husband went to grab some morning treats for us.  He insisted on grabbing us breakfast.  Even though I said it was crazy since we were going to brunch!  Well, he persisted, and got some pastries and cooked bacon from Whole Foods.  Their bacon is off the hook good, and bacon is like my all time favorite food.  And he brought me flowers. 🙂  We hung out a while eating as I was opening cards and gifts, which I have to say is a great part of Mother’s Day! ahaha  Then we lost track of time! We had to adjust our brunch reservations so we could get dolled up beforehand.

I.Love.Brunch. 

It is the most perfect meal ever created.

My husband surprised me taking us to Chickadee down in the Seaport area by the Innovation and Design building.  (I love birds and I love brunch, he gets me so well!)  They just started offering brunch, and since we are brunch nuts he thought it was a good time to check the place out.    This meal was a lot of fun, and their cocktail selection was so peculiarly great.  There were a lot of mixes on there that I thought were unique..maybe I am wrong, but look at the menu below and you tell me.

The place was so pretty, all dressed in grey and white, with birds.  I just liked it so much.  It smelled so good as we were seated, and the amount of families there celebrating Mom made me smile. The cocktail menu was, like I said, unique, but what was truly cute about it was that all the drinks were named after birds.  SO CUTE!!  I highly recommend the SnowBird; which was a lemony, elderflowery, vodkay, thymey deliciousness.  YES, those are all words.  

We started off the meal with a few donuts to share.  We got the s’mores crunch donut and rhubarb jelly donut.  I am not normally a rhubarb fan, my husband is, but the rhubarb jelly donut was terrific.  I could’ve eaten all of them on my own. haha   Our entree choices made me laugh.  Out of the four of us, three of us got spicy chicken and cheddar waffles!!  My husband got the dutch baby with blueberries.  The food was great, and we all agree to make a trip back to try more of the selections they had to offer.  Especially the chick-shuka and chickadee bowl.  Now I want to drive down there to eat..  arg!!

We dined for a while, really enjoying the atmosphere, food and cocktails..and each other’s company! After we left the restaurant, the rain was coming down a little bit.  We wanted to surprise the kids by taking them to Taiyaki on Seaport Blvd.  I don’t know if you guys remember my trip to California last year.  We had taken the kids to an ice cream shop that made Japanese Taiyaki, that is ice cream in koi fish-shaped cones… ring a bell?  Well, a few companies making Taiyaki started opening up across NYC and one came to Boston.   Unfortunately, the parking situation down on Seaport Blvd really blows.  It won’t stop me from being there all Summer, but it does deter us from time to time when the weather stinks.  We couldn’t find a spot for twenty minutes around that shop, and opted to getting an ice cream closer to home. So we did.

We ended the night cuddling on the couch, catching up on our latest family binge, Parks and Rec.  We have a season left; I know we plow through binges like nobody else.  The girls and I may finish it this week while my husband is away..because we can and will!  haha  When they went off to bed, my husband and I started our binge of Sneaky Pete.  Such a good show!!

That was my Mother’s Day!  I wish it didn’t have to end, it was really a good time.

I am so lucky with the family I have cultivated here.  My kids are the shining light in my life, who bring so much compassion, laughter and happiness to my days I can’t even explain it with any justice.  And none of this wonderful mother-life would be possible without my heart’s soulmate, my husband.  I have the most selfless, hardworking, caring and loving man. Thank you, and our girls, for making me feel so loved and thought after.  Not just one day a year, but every day. 

xoxoxoxo  

Posted in Random Stuff

Easter 2019 (in photos)

Hello WordPress!

I am keeping this one short and sweet, a photo collage, as I have to run to PT!  Today has just flown with work. 

Hope those who celebrated Passover and Easter this weekend enjoyed every moment with family and friends in peace.

Here is a collage of our day, minus the after dinner dessert with family.  Trying to use my phone less, which is great, but also lends to me not taking many photos.  :)~

xoxox

 

Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- In Memory of Gordon

With a heavy heart I am dedicating this Top Ten post to our family pet, Gordon. 

Tuesday evening we had to say goodbye to Gordon, our beautiful cat.  Over last weekend, we watched in disbelief as our little buddy declined in health, and, by the time we saw the vet on Monday morning, he was unable to be assisted with medical intervention.   He never showed any symptoms before last weekend, it was a total surprise for all of us, as he was diagnosed with late stages of kidney failure. And as quickly as he was diagnosed, he spiraled further into the disease.  

It feels like he was taken too quickly from our family, even though he was here for nine years, it seems too soon.  We hope he felt how much he was loved every day. xoxo

I love you Gordy.

 

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday- Gordon

  1. A few years ago, during Christmastime, he just looks so sweet here.  pb281659.jpg
  2.  When we first brought him home.  2009.IMG_8757
  3. How I will always remember him every day.  Looking out onto the yard to watch all the action.  Here it was fall time.P1040356.JPG
  4. His love for Christmas trees was always hilarious.  It was like he had his own personal forest under there.pc231849.jpg
  5. His big beautiful copper eyes.  They were soulful and perfect.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. The months he spent in the cone of shame..  my poor kitty!  img_0548
  7. He let our youngest daughter dress him up all the time.  I think he secretly liked it..img_0549-1
  8. He also indulged me with these silly cat selfies.  🙂 I will miss how he looked like he rolled his Eyes at me whenever I grabbed my phone for these.  img_0552
  9. Gordon loved putting himself wherever he wasn’t necessarily supposed to be.img_0547
  10.  Last photo from the vet visit.  He was so ill, but when we got there walked out of his carrier with so much curiosity, like a kitten all over again.  😦img_0540

 

I will always carry a piece of Gordon with me, he was that special.
Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- Self-Care Ideas

Self-care is a deliberate activity, action, or purpose that helps in regulating your mind, feelings and/or body.  Taking time for one’s self is absolutely important. You can change your whole perspective of your feelings, day-to-day situations, your energy, or anything that you need to uplift yourself from.

Below are my top ten favorite ways to self-care.

 

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday- Self-Care Ideas

  1. Meditate. If you have never done it..it’s easy!  Find a comfortable spot to sit 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. If you have more time, that is even better. Set your cell’s alarm, place it close to you but not on you.  Close your eyes. Take conscious deep breaths. Listen to your breathing. Relax each part of your body as you feel the ground below you.  If you can, try to just be, without thinking about your day-to-day stresses.

  2. Apply a face mask. All faces can benefit from this!  Try any type that suits your skin type or needs- fibre, clay, gel, charcoal or mud, just follow the instructions.

  3. Listen to a segment of your favorite podcast, or watch it on YouTube.

  4. Take a bath.  Try it with lavender bath salts!

  5. Stretch. Since having my shoulder issues stretching is necessary.  I find I am so much happier on the days I stretch.

  6. Feel the sunshine.  Get outdoors, stand in a window, in the car..anywhere!  I like to  take a few minutes to appreciate the warm feel on my skin.

  7. Make coffee, tea or any drink you enjoy. My favorite pastime is to drink a latte on the couch; no cell phone, no TV, no books, nothing.  Just focusing on the warm joy of the coffee.

  8. Sit quietly.  I like doing this in the grass of my backyard. Looking at the colors and listening to the natural surroundings.

  9. Organize a cabinet or closet.  It’s funny to think that doing the work of organizing actually makes you feel good.  For me, it lifts that back of the mind stress, AND, I believe the concentrated motion of working, like this, helps us steep through situations to clear the mind.

  10. Read a book. Take a moment to read a few pages. Snuggle up on your couch, head to the beach, or, sit in your bed, anywhere you can take the time to dive right in for a few moments.

 

▶︎ I announced on FB that I am moving my Top Ten Thursday lists to a monthly post.  This will be my last TTT post for March.

Posted in My Travels

CUBA 2019- Varadero Beach, our last full day

Hey Everyone,

Ok, well, after all this time, I am finally typing out our last full day on the island of Cuba!  After this is our departure back home.  😦


We woke up to beautiful bright skies on our first morning in Varadero. Our only plan for the day was to hang out at the beach then buy souvenirs! Finally one day of not running around.

We went down to breakfast to eat at 9AM. They had a table set up for us under a canopy out back attached to a garage. The garage was set up as a kitchen and the windows facing our table housed aquariums with fish swimming.  On this day we were greeted by another woman, Ana, who works with Iris managing the house. She was in charge of cooking us breakfast.

The breakfast of this casa was served in courses just like the previous casa. We started off with coffee, hot milk and juice. JUICE.  This casa offered orange juice.  Also, I asked for an extra-large bottle of water (to take to the beach).  The best part of a casa particular is that the people running the breakfasts would cook everything from scratch.  It was pretty amazing.  We were served hot homemade savory mini muffins sprinkled with sesame to start. They were really good! But Ana also put out a dish of mayonnaise with queso fresco, we were not sure why.  Then we were served fruit; there was a fully cored pineapple, which was just ok, and a platter of local fruit, which was not so good.  Even at this location, hours away from Havana, the local fruits tasted strange.  We followed this with an order of eggs and toast.  Following the eggs was a buckwheat pancake drizzled with local honey.  The girls really enjoyed that.  Then came a plate of bananas covered in chocolate with sprinkles special for the kids.  It all ended with individual jello molded in different shapes.  You can’t make it out in the photo below, but the adults dish of jello had a flower shape on it, but our girls had Minnie Mouse!  Is this not an insane amount of food?

After this two and a half hour breakfast, we got into our swimsuits as quick as possible and made a mad dash for the beach.   The beach, again, did not disappoint.

We got to the beach right before noon to find the ocean much smoother, and the waves coming to surf at a normal pace.  The water was even more crystal clear than yesterday, didn’t think that could be possible.  Once we found a spot, we were greeted by a very young man dressed in an official lifeguard scuba suit.  He introduced himself as Martinez.  He was a jack of all trades hired to guard the beach during peak hours, and, on the side for extra money, he offered rental umbrellas to beachgoers and run for drinks.

Then a cute group of girls set up camp under an umbrella they rented from Martinez at the edge of the beach, but sat directly on the sand right next to us. No towels, just a bluetooth speaker. There was a whole beach around us, but they set up five feet away.   Almost right away Martinez walked over with a drink delivery for the girls.  We were impressed, not about the girls, but Martinez’s drink caddy!  He was able to deliver glasses on the beach!

The girls started playing Spanish pop songs and fluttered around us taking selfies.  I offered to take a group shot of them.  They were so happy, and already tipsy somehow!  They started to get personal real fast after that picture.  They understood I spoke English, so they just started spewing information at me.  Within a few seconds I learned that they were two sisters with a best friend hanging in Varadero for a day trip to the beach. They were on vacation from Mexico, though one of the girls recently moved to Texas to marry.  They jumped right into asking me how old I was, what state I lived in, who I was with, why I was in Cuba, how long I was married, and what I did for a job.  It was like they were on speed with how fast these questions came out.  I am pretty stoked though, they thought I was 33yo..jussayin I am 42! 🙂

I still may have it.. whatever it is… eh whatevz.

Then around 2PM after sweating in the sunshine, I got antsy for a drink. My husband did too.  He offered to run for drinks since the guy was busy, which was awesome. He surprised me with huge mojitos for us and sodas for our girls. They didn’t come in glass cups, but they were pretty frickin’ amazing nonetheless.  The rum in Cuba is truly special.  After we had our drinks, which went down waYYyy too easily, we got in the water for a little fun with the kids.  While in the water we could see humongous fish swimming by, super cool!  The vistas of the water in the distance felt like they could go on forever.  The crystal clear aqua-colored water was dreamy.  After a few minutes, I decided it was time to get back to the towels, I felt the mojito catching up.

My husband then came back to the towels, and the girls near us were now pretty drunk.  Martinez dropped off another round of drinks, and headed over to us, clearly making eye signals like these women were a handful.  We talked to him for about twenty minutes about the job, as his friend left the girls behind him.  He told us how he took his job hyper seriously, and how he had a family to take care of.  The girls were behind him calling him over again.  Before he left he asked us if we wanted another drink, which we said yes to!  We ordered another round of mojitos and virgin pina coladas for our girls, and he happily ran to go get them.

He came back with our drinks a few minutes later in glass cups in his cool caddy!  Yes, I am super happy to have glass cups on a beach!  It does make a big difference.  He let us hold on to the caddy to keep all the cups together and out of the sand, which was super nice.

The stylish bubbly girls on the beach all of a sudden turned into belligerent drunk girls. Martinez was called over to them once again to help them get a taxi.  They shouted their goodbyes to me as I made sure they grabbed their things. They walked along to the exit with Martinez ahead. The walk for them up the beach was sad, however. One of the girls just kept falling down.  Face first. In the sand.  And struggled to get up each time.  It sounds funny, but it was just sad.  Martinez shuffled them along into a taxi.  And came over to us to apologize and assure us they should be safe.  I hope they got to Havana all right.

After the women left we basically had the beach to ourselves.  The tides don’t shift much on this beach so we dragged our towels closer to the girls playing in the sand.  My husband started chasing the girls then jumped in the water with them. Then I.. guess what?  I PASSED OUT!  I am not sure how long I fell asleep for but I woke myself up with a snore.  Yes, I did!  🙂  And it felt so good!

We hung out on the beach until the sun was starting coming down. We all started to become hungry and decided it was the right time to go freshen up for dinner.   On our walk back to the house, we saw the most spectacular start to a sunset we had ever seen.  The colors in the sky were neon pink, yellow and blue, just spectacularly glowing.   It lasted so long, as it was still setting when we went out for dinner.

We walked the main street of Varadero for a while trying to decide where we were going to eat.  We had planned to go to two places, both were packed with long waits; one place had a two-hour wait!  Luckily, we had the offline mobile map that had listings of all the restaurants in the area.   We looked up a few spots to check out.  We walked by a lot of restaurants along the boulevard that were not on the map though.  But unluckily, every spot we wanted to check out was booked solid.  So we stopped in to a place we walked by that looked nice, and had seating, La Vicaria.  It ended up being a super fun place and the food was so good!!

We started off with daiquiris and pina coladas, of course.  The restaurant was open air under a thatched cabana. Which made it interesting as while seated we saw chickens and cats walking along the restaurant.  My kids enjoyed that part.  We got fried and grilled chicken platters, a grilled fish plate and a pork tips plate, and, a side of fries because my kids saw them on the menu and freaked out.  It was all really good.  We ended up staying there enjoying our dinner for about two hours or so.  Then we took a nice walk back to our casa particular, but not before buying some rum.. and soap!  The house we were in had this deliciously scented banana soap in the bathrooms that I saw in the pharmacy and had to have!  Can’t wait to use it!

My review of the day.

There really was no profound introspection during this day at the beach.  I had a lot of fun in the sun, while catching the show that was the gaggle of girls on vacation.


Next Cuba post will be our last day– departing Cuba, but first we check out a few sights.