AmazonSmile

Happy Friday!  Have you seen Amazon’s awesome new charitable giving program, AmazonSmile?  I’m totally obsessed with this idea and love seeing big corporations give back.  Well done, Jeff Bezos!

I’m already a Amazon Prime member and buy a little bit of everything off Amazon (seriously, I’ve bought toilet paper on Amazon before), so I’m excited to put my shopping to good use.  I picked Washington Humane Society as my charity to support, but there are thousands of options.

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It’s super easy to sign up and doesn’t cost anything extra for shoppers.  Learn more here.

Have a great weekend!

Long Weekend in New Orleans

Hello!  As you may have seen on Instagram, hubs and I are back from a long weekend in New Orleans.  We had a great time, and now understand why it’s called The Big Easy!  From the amazing food, to the fabulous street music and art galleries, the entire trip was fun and relaxing.

We decided on New Orleans in order to attend 311 Day.  Shaun is an avid 311 fan, and has been looking forward to this trip for months.  I was along for the ride, excited to experience all the history and culture that New Orleans has to offer.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and checked in at the Hotel Monteleone, a historic hotel in the French Quarter. The Monteleone is one of the oldest hotels in New Orleans (and supposedly haunted!), and is famous for their Carousel Bar, the only rotating bar front in New Orleans!  While you barely feel it moving while you are seated, the bar makes a full rotation every 15 minutes.  So neat!

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After freshening up, we headed out to explore the city.  It was a beautiful and sunny day (a much needed break from the freezing cold temps in DC!).  We eventually found our was to Jackson Square, where we sat and enjoyed the gardens and stunning view of the Saint Louis Cathedral.  We also did a full loop around the park, checking out all the unique art displays and musicians.  My favorite part about New Orleans is all the diversity — you can have a jazz band playing next to a tarot card reader, next to a magician.  You never know what you’ll get!

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We were ravenous by mid-afternoon, and stopped by Chartes House restaurant to try some Cajun  food.  The creole BBQ shrimp was our favorite, along with the blackened shrimp jambalaya.  Delicious!

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On Sunday, we woke up early and headed out to try and beat the breakfast crowd at Cafe Du Monde.  There were only a few people in line, and we had a bag of warm beignets in hand in no time.  The beignets were divine, and totally lived up to the hype!  I ordered a frozen Cafe Au Lait to drink, and it was equally delicious.

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Later that day, we had some family from nearby Mobile, Alabama visit.  We had a yummy early afternoon brunch at Muriel’s Jackson Square before heading out to do more sight seeing.  Isn’t the interior of Muriel’s gorgeous?!  So much character and natural elegance.

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We visited the open air French Market, Frenchmen Street, Bourbon Street, and ended the day walking along the Mississippi Riverfront.  We were exhausted but loved spending quality time with family!

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On Monday morning, we took a bike tour with the Confederacy of Cruisers.  We opted for the Creole tour, which focused mainly in the Ninth Ward, and offers a look at New Orleans outside of the typical tourist spots.  I didn’t take many photos since my biking skills were a little rusty…but highly recommend taking one of these tours to get off the beaten path a bit.  Afterwards, we had lunch at Port O Call, a tiny dive bar with amazing burgers.  This spot is totally worth the trek outside of the French Quarter.

That evening we had dinner at GW Fins, a seafood restaurant just off Bourbon Street.  It was another great meal, despite being a bit pricey.  Can you tell we pretty much ate our way through New Orleans?  I’m confident I gained at least 5 lbs. and have some major working out to do this week!

It rained on Tuesday, so after a quick breakfast, we headed over to the Historic Voodoo Museum.  While the museum was interesting, we didn’t think it was quite worth the $5/person charge.  It was a bit cramped and didn’t have much flow to it.  That being said, it was a perfect indoor activity while the rain passed through.

Tuesday evening we got ready for the 311 show, and headed over to the New Orleans Arena.  I was excited to see the Super Dome in person as we entered the Arena!  Our seats at the venue were amazing, and before we knew it, the start of the (5 hour) show had begun!

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The show was fantastic, but by midnight, the smoke really started getting to me (it is a smoke free venue but the rules are not well followed), so we headed back to the hotel a bit early.

We flew back to DC this morning, and smothered Cooper in attention when we got back!  It is crazy how much we miss the little bear when we’re gone.

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A few other noteworthy places worth mentioning, that didn’t make it into the recap:

  • Petite Amelie – the little sister restaurant to Cafe Amelie, a popular locally sourced bistro in the French Quarter.  Petite Amelie is quaint and cozy, and fairly reasonably priced for New Orleans.  I loved their coffee and salads, and the pastries also looked good.  They they are closed on Monday and Tuesday (fairly common in New Orleans).
  • Cochon Butcher – a combo restaurant with a little bit of everything.  A casual spot with a nice vibe.
  • Cafe Beignet – a small but comfortable cafe a block away from our hotel.  A great place to have beignets but avoid the craziness of Cafe Du Monde.  The serve breakfast all day and have an assortment of other foods as well.  Also reasonably priced for the French Quarter.
  • Magazine Street – we didn’t make it to Magazine Street during our visit, but heard great things.  It is on our list for our next trip!

And, now we’re back to the grind.  Hope everyone has a great remainder of the week!

My First Giveaway!

Good morning! I apologize for going MIA again these past couple of months. January and February are two of the busiest months at work, and most nights I come home totally drained and lacking creativity. Fortunately, March is looking much better, and I’m heading on vacation to New Orleans next week with hubs (crazy excited!).

Until I get back to a more regular blogging routine, wanted to share some fun news! I’m linking up with an awesome group of ladies for my first giveaway. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Individual items will come from each blogger, with the cash coming from our lovely giveaway organizer, Jacq.

Enjoy, and good luck!

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House of French

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Just Call Me Sparkles

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Bleu Dress Jes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

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I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Back, Recap Time!

Hello! I am finally back on the blog after an unexpected hiatus. I’m always convinced that the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be quiet and I’ll have plenty of time to decorate, shop, and skip hot chocolate by the fire. Then reality hits and I’m running around like a crazy person trying to balance a demanding job and all the festivities that come with this time of year.

Here’s a quick recap of the past six weeks.

Our good friends were married in Charlottesville at Early Mountain Vineyards. Their ceremony was gorgeous and we had the best time celebrating their big day! If you are ever in the area, I definitely encourage you to check this vineyard out. It is gorgeous and the wine was great.

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early mountain vineyard wedding

We spent another wonderful Thanksgiving with Shaun’s family and indulged in a little bit of everything. I returned to Weight Watchers the week after Thanksgiving and had gained back the 2 pounds I had previously lost. Sigh.

No holiday is complete without a Cooper photo. I use an app called Rhonna Designs (<– love) for the graphics.

Cooper Thanksgiving

Shaun’s football team went 12-0 and then lost in the Virginia state quarter finals after a botched field goal. They had an awesome season and I’m so proud of Hubs for getting four of his linebackers named to All District.

Alabama lost in a similar fashion later this night, so it was NOT a good football day in our household. Onwards and upwards!

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We decked the halls and our tree out for Christmas! I’m in love with how everything turned out. The tree and lights make our living room feel so cozy and inviting. We are excited to celebrate our first Christmas as a married couple.

Christmas Tree

I traveled up to New York for a quick day of meetings, and loved seeing the Empire State Building lit up for Christmas! I know it is cliche, but there really is something magical about New York at Christmas time.

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I saw the pre-Broadway production of IF/THEN with one of my best friends. I was less than 100 feet from Idina Menzel (oh.em.gee). I didn’t love the show, but thought it was good despite the complicated plot. It was a lot like the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow, but the looks didn’t really change. Idina was incredible. The show hits Broadway this March!

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Shaun and I made our annual trip to see the National Christmas Tree on the White House ellipse. It was our third year going, and we had a great time! We even visited the quiet corner where Shaun popped the question last year.

National Christmas Tree

We celebrated my 30th Birthday! My friends and Shaun planned a surprise dinner at Paolo’s in Georgetown and I was totally caught of guard! My favorite was the cake with photos from this past year. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.

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We are off to see the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre tonight, and that makes us officially Christmas ready! Cooper even got in on the action and agreed to wear these antlers, in exchange for a treat. He was not featuring it.

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Merry EVERYTHING to you and your loved ones! I’ll be back soon with an update on plenty of other things are going on.

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