Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Saintsgiving

In the years after college, when I was working in a residential treatment center, I sometimes had to work 7am to 11pm on Thanksgiving. Seeing all of those kids who didn't get to go home to be with their families and taking them out to a nice dinner or movie really made missing time with my family worth it. Ben still got to go up to New Hampshire and spend time with his family and I spent time with my co-workers and those kids who really needed some positive attention. The past two years I got to go with him to Thanksgiving in New Hampshire!
This year, we're spending Thanksgiving in our new home in New Orleans. So it's more than just not being with family. It's being out of our home in a place where it's more than forty degrees warmer and there are palm trees. Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was great, except that it looked so wintery that I didn't feel like we were in the same country as NYC (where my cousins live).
We started it off by sleeping in. We made biscuits and eggs for breakfast and had a long slow morning. Then we got on Skype and got to see and chat with my mom's side of the family. My mom, sister, and brother went over to my aunt's and we got to see my cousin and grandma too! Skype is so fun like that. Talking to my little brother on the phone let me know that he is sounding so much older, but I didn't know that he's taller than my sister until I saw him on Skype. And, with my aunt going through her third round of chemo it was special being able to see her all the way from down south. It made me miss my grandpa, who used to cook the best foods but who passed away a few years ago.
Then we Skyped Ben's mom's side of the family. They all spend the day at his aunt and uncle's house and his aunt said that with the computer at the table it sounded like we were right there with them. Talking with both of our siblings was nice as they're the most important people to us but we almost never talk to them. Sigh. Seeing everyone was so great, but it really made missing Thanksgiving with family so much stronger. So, after a good long hysterical cry we realized that we needed to make our own Thanksgiving here. Ben had planned on making tacos for dinner. That just wouldn't do.
After a quick stop at Breaux Mart, where I fell off my bike (first time ever!) and bought Excedrin, we biked to find our meal. We rode over to Whole Foods and took advantage of their pre-made foods. Yes, it was expensive. But, it was so simple.
Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of:

Mashed potatoes, green beans almandine, sweet potatoes with cinnamon, southern cornbread, stuffing, mushroom gravy, and on Ben's plate there was turkey. So much good food. The only thing we made ourselves was the stuffing. Oh, and to drink we bought champagne and orange juice and made mimosas! 
us "sleeping" off our food coma
Having our own Thanksgiving was really special. I'm so glad we didn't just make tacos. And after we were all stuffed we watched the Saints. The last quarter of the game was so crazy I think I yelled out at every play. The ball was dropped, the Saints fell behind, there were long runs and tackles and then...we won! 
Our feet up watching the game (i had just taken my nailpolish off-eww)
Things for Christmas, New Year's, and Ben's birthday are still up in the air. Right now, it seems I have to work. Flights for the two of us to get to Connecticut and then to Florida (for my grandparent's 50th Anniversary!) are astronomical. If we did do that we would still miss out on seeing his dad and that whole side of the family and would only see my dad and his mom if we travelled. Sheesh, things are getting complicated living down here. Maybe, one day, everyone we love will come visit our new city. For now, we're loving certain aspects of our New Orleans life and making our home here. I must say, our Thanksgiving was not too bad at all :) 
I hope everyone had a great holiday and was thankful for something important to them.
(PS- Sorry for any misspellings or confusing sentences. I'm typing while watching my favorite Christmas movie- ELF!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

meeting (some) goals

On October 3rd I decided to become a runner.
The plan was not to go full force for two or three weeks and then give up like I have before. I wanted to stick with it. I just wanted to say that I can do this if I really want to and give it a good try. I wanted to do it for myself. And I did, so far. Starting that day I put on my Lululemon's and ran around the Garden District three or four times a week. I ran 1.3 to 1.5 miles for the first few weeks. After every run I collapsed on my front steps and tried to catch my breath for five minutes. I also poured sweat- one time my landlord even commented on it. Then, after taking a few days off, I could easily run two miles. That was November first. Then, three days later I ran 2.57 miles. It was easy too! I wasn't out of breath at all and although things ached (all the joints in my legs) I could do it. Then all of sudden I was set back to my original one and a half miles... and it was a hard one and a half miles. I mean really hard. After half of a mile I thought that I could not pick my feet up off the streets anymore and that I'd have to stay in the street until the Garden District Police found me. But, I kept on going.
Last week, I ran only one time. It was just one of those weeks. I ran in the dark after work one night after complaining to Ben that I didn't want to run. I decided to change my route and I ended up running 3 miles. Three miles! It's been less than two months and I can run three miles. That's a whole 5K.

I really do not know how to explain how difficult a goal this was for me to make. Even while making it I didn't fully believe that I would get out there and jog around the streets. But, I did! And, while I have not run since last Thursday I have this new goal- to get up early and run in the morning. Eek. Yes, I think I need to at least try. That way I am running when there's more light outside and it gives me time for yoga in the afternoon.

So. Set your goals. Even if while setting them you're second guessing what you can do. You can do it. Now that I'm at 5K I'm going to have to keep going until I can run 7K and 10K and who knows how much further!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brewhaha and PoBoy Festivals

This weekend we attended a festival on both Saturday and Sunday. You're not surprised are you? :P

Saturday was the Broad Street Brewhaha- a festivus dedicated to celebrating New Orleans' beer and coffee brewing traditions. It was actually only the second one. Since I enjoy both beer and coffee I thought this would be fun. Plus two of our friends were meeting us there and one of them had been away for six weeks, so we needed to get together!

Held on top of an abandoned grocery store, Brewhaha was not what I had anticipated. 
There was a live band, 

and herbs to purchase,

and people carrying their dog around their shoulders,

and some sights to see:
those feather things were for sale
But mostly I was hoping to check out some cool beer and coffee co's.
While Abita was there (obviously), the only other beer company was NOLA (our fav!). We got to see our friend Dylan (of NOLA brewery) and try their new Irish Stout premier dark brew. Go out and get that if you haven't tried it yet!
For coffee, there was only the New Orleans Coffee Co. I bought their dark mocha java and they ground it espresso thin for me. Besides those three stands, there were also people selling tchotckies that looked like they came out of their attic.
And, this woman selling pickles and dvd's:
she didn't want to chat
Sunday was the much anticipated New Orleans Preservation Poboy Festival on Oak Street. 
Walking in, there was a band playing on a stage and people happily dancing in the street- what a great sight to see!
Then there was this lady, staring out of her window down onto the chaos:

These people also had a great view on top of the Maple Leaf Bar:

I knew it would be difficult for me to find food there. While some people had mentioned the possibility of finding a portobello mushroom poboy and my friends actually saw fried mashed potato poboys, I had a really hard time getting through the crowd to find anything I could eat. There were thousands of people all crowded in to one street and literally the walking crowd was at a standstill many times. It was actually a little frustrating. The most popular poboys sold seemed to be shrimp of various kinds, pork debris, bbq, sausage, and alligator. Finally we saw a sign for Le Citron Bistro having a spicy french fry poboy for sale.
Le Citron Bistro's French Fry Poboy
I was pretty hungry, so the poboy was good to me. But, nothing I would order normally. Ben found his poboy at the Crescent City Pie & Sausage Co. He had a spicy sausage poboy with creole mustard on top- i think his mouth was on fire. And he enjoyed it.
While we ate we happily listened to the marching band leading a WHO DAT chant and playing When the Saints Go Marching In. Nothing gets a NOLA crowd going (including myself) more than those two songs.
this lady was so joyful and had so much NOLA spirit
Then, we moved on to more food. Ben had the blackened fish tacos and got me a bean taco.
Ben's fish tacos
My bean taco didn't look pretty but was really tasty. Then, instead of listening to my belly I decided to order a frozen hot chocolate from Blue Frog. I had been wanting to visit Blue Frog for a while and the frozen hot chocolate caught my eye. They were also selling Zapps crawtator chips dipped in chocolate! I should've tried those, but my belly couldn't take more food. Having had Serendipity's (NYC) famous frozen hot chocolate more times that I could count, I was pretty skeptical about Blue Frog's version. But, it was really good! By then our bellies were super full and we called the eating quits. 

I must say, these were not my two favorite festivals. But, I did have a good time and I learned something. I greatly enjoy my alone quiet time. I love to read. I love my home yoga practice. I love to just lie there and watch my thoughts. But, I am also definitely an extrovert. Many times, I get my positive energy from  spending time with other people. This weekend was no different. On Saturday morning I was not in a good mood at all, until I got to spend time with friends. We had beer and coffee and even though there wasn't much to check out at Brewhaha, we stood around chatting, and were happy. 
On Saturday we went to the Poboy Festival with Ben's lab group- who happen to be a group of girls I really like but don't get to see enough. While we had to split up in the crowd to find food and didn't get to spend enough time together, I was really happy to see those girls! 
Which brings me to a personal universal truth: what really matters is not what i'm doing but who I'm doing it with. This weekend, I was lucky enough to get to spend time with some great people and there is nothing better than that!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

the VOODOO experience

I can't believe it's been two weeks since Halloween weekend! Ben and I were super excited to spend it at the Voodoo Experience 2010 at city park seeing three full days of bands. 
that's me standing on the VOODOO sign!
On Friday we headed over a little later in the day and missed Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes AND Honey Island Swamp Band- two bands that I've seen a few times in Nola and who I really like.
But, we did get there for Metric:
Then we had a snack during Soul Rebels Brass Band and got ready for Weezer! Weezer! 

During Weezer I sprained my ankle (the one that's been hurt since last December) and fell down crying for a bit. But that's when they started a cover of Lady Gaga's Pokerface and went into MGMT's Kids! That cheered me up immediately. I have an awesome video of it, but i'm not posting because i'm singing along :) Weezer was amazing. Completely amazing. I could've gone home then and been happy- but we still had 2 more bands to see that night AND two more full days.
So, off we went to Galactic and Muse. So good. Galactic is one of those bands I discovered in Nola and really like. Whenever I hear Muse I like to pretend i'm a vampire (yes, twilight fans it's from the movie) and they are such a talented band, they were gooood.

Saturday we got bagels and headed off for another day of music. Walking in, we saw this: 
a head.
yah, that's a head. It was Halloween weekend in New Orleans mind you. We saw some good costumes, but the head freaked me out.
Saturday we saw Rebirth Brass Band!! Oh so good. I got right up the stage to dance and almost peed myself with excitement. 
Then on to Cage the Elephant. 
Then on to Theresa Anderson at Preservation Hall. She is one amazing woman. She plays every single instrument herself and loops them so that she's her own band. Her voice is beautiful and the combination is fantastic. I had been wanting to see her in person for a long time so it was exciting to get the chance at Voodoo.
Theresa Anderson
After that we caught Florence and the Machine. Drake was up next on my list of to-see's but we needed real food so we walked a long long way to get burritos. Ben didn't really care about Drake and although I thought it would be fun, I wasn't going to spend another $7 on ONE slice of pizza.
Finally, we got to see... OZZY!
I've never seen so many people come together like they did to listen to Ozzy Osbourne live. 
people watching ozzy from inside this lit-up sculpture
By the end of Saturday we were totally exhausted. BUT, we had an amazing lineup on Sunday. We chose to see Minus the Bear, Airborne Toxic Event, Interpol, MGMT, Macy Gray, and My Morning Jacket! 
We were so worn out but I'd seen Minus the Bear in Boston and was excited to see them again.
They were good, but definitely better in a small venue. 
The airborne toxic event were super fun! I don't know what it is about them but they got the crowd going and we just really enjoyed it. 
Airborne Toxic Event
After that was Interpol, who Ben has been happily listening to for years. This was the first band that we were just too exhausted to be in the crowd for. We sat in the grass and drank lemonade and listened. We're such old geezers! But three full days of dancing and eating festival food and being out in the sun really wore us down. Plus, we wanted to be well rested for MGMT!
MGMT was great. But it was weird how all of a sudden a younger crowd emerged, dressed in all neon colors. The band came out dressed up as Scooby Doo characters :) 
Now, I must say, there were a ton of other bands playing that I haven't mentioned. For every band we saw there were four or five or six other bands playing at the same time- it was hard to choose! There was even a karaoke stage set up with a live band to play for you. Voodoo experience is more than just music- there's art displays and tents to go in and giveaways and vendors and more. 
pretty color changing shrooms
I took so many photos and so many videos of the bands. I wish I could post them all! Recently Voodoo Experience 2011 tickets were on sale for half off!! But I couldn't convince Ben to buy them because he said he doesn't know if he'd do it again. We'll see. One of us has more passion for live music than the other. But, we both loved the heck out of this weekend and everything about Voodoo.