Friday, October 30, 2009

Birthday Weekend!!

My birthday weekend has already gotten off to a great start! Mark left the house before me this morning, and he was making quite a racket, but I just figured he was making his coffee, etc. Well, when I opened our bedroom door, and he had a ton of balloons waiting for me and had hung up a Happy Birthday banner! So sweet!!!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow we fly home! I am looking forward to flying on Halloween to see if there are any travelers in costume. Should be interesting. We are going to Voodoo Music Festival Saturday and will be capping off our Halloween with a late night outdoor performance by KISS!! How cool is that!

Sunday we will be heading to my favorite place - Commander's Palace - for the world's greatest brunch. I love how celebratory Commander's feels. There's balloons on all of the tables at brunch and the jazz band that strolls through the restaurant is wonderful. I cannot wait to be there!

And of course, there's Monday - the actual day! We will be having lunch with my family and then strolling around the Quarter to soak up all of the energy and excitement that is in the air with our undefeated Saints playing on Monday Night Football! A MNF game versus the Falcons is always exciting, but the thought of beating them to go 7-0 is just too much to take in. I've been listening to interviews on NFL radio all week, and the Falcons' players have said they are preparing to play in a very noisy, very hostile environment. Saints fans - we need to bring it. I hope you all tune in to see just how excited this city is about our team. Since 2006 it has always felt that they play for us and for the city, not for themselves. It is truly an amazing team to watch play football. The best gift ever would be a Saints victory on Monday night!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I got an idea!

My Halloween costume is.............

Devil With a Blue Dress On! I am going to wear this cute little blue dress and devil accessories. Cute and a little funny too. I can't pull off the sexy "fill in the blank" costumes. I prefer something a little witty!!

YAY! Halloween anxiety DONE!

Ten (More) Things on Thursday...

So I just love these kinds of lists. Lisa has put up another installment on her blog, so I am going to do the same!!

1. What are you going to be for Halloween? Good question! We are going home this weekend and actually flying out on Halloween. I have to find something that I can pack. Any good ideas? I may just go to Walmart and get a couple of yards or pretty fabric, make a toga, and take my costume back to the good old days of frat parties.

2. Have you ever been on television? No, but I should have been! Four years ago, on the Halloween after Katrina, I met our local sports anchor (Lee Zurich) and told him I was going to the Saints game as a refrigerator. You see, at that time, everyone in NOLA has to throw out their yucky moldy fridges so on every street there were tons of fridges with duct tape all over them. People started spraying painting phrases on them and one of those phrases was "Don't Open Tom Benson Inside." He is the Saints owner who everyone hated that year b/c he wanted to move the team. So with hopes of being on tv, I constructed a Frigidaire refrigerator out of poster board, duct tape, and spray paint and wore it to the game. I never made it onto tv, but I took some pictures with random Saints fans who appreciated the humor.

3. Do you have a toilet paper preference? I like the super soft really cushy stuff.

4. When you’re pregnant, will you find out the sex of the baby? I really want to b/c I am a planner and don't like surprises. However, Mark really does not want to find out. He doesn't ask for much, so I might give in on this one. Plus my friend Anna said the cutest thing on this subject. She said so often women are the ones who are at the center of big events - the engagement, the wedding day, the whole pregnancy. She wanted her husband to have his moment when he got to open the waiting room door and announce to the world "It's a girl!" I thought that was a really sweet sentiment.

5. What are three items that every kitchen must have? A bottle of wine, a cast iron skillet, and a sharp eight inch chef's knife.

6. Do you enjoy Christmas shopping? LOVE it! I love the hustle and bustle and the Christmas songs played over and over. I love planning the perfect gift for someone and watching it get wrapped all nice and pretty. I love shopping, but I really love Christmas shopping!

7. What is your go-to recipe? Cheeseburger Pie or Roast Beef Po-Boys - they feed a crowd, are simple to prepare, and are delish!

8. Do you sleep on your back, belly, or side? Belly!

9. How do you feel about Tom Cruise? I was in love with Tom Cruise in the Top Gun days. Now - I just think he's a self centered weirdo.

10. What books are in your “books to read” stack? I am trying to finish My Life in France right now. Also, our book club book is Same Kind of Different As Me, so that too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - Sale Update

So in a previous Trendy Wednesday I wrote about my favorite pair of riding boots EVER!!! Well, they are finally on sale!!!!! It is a birthday wish come true. I could not be more excited. My friend Noah works at the BCBG in New Orleans, and since we'll be home this weekend, I am going to be visiting him and trying them on in person. I can't wait. I didn't think my bday could get any better, but it just did!

In the spirit of savings, I thought instead of a regular Trendy Wednesday posting, I'd post a sale update on items I had previously listed. Like I tell Mark, "Don't think of the money your spending, think of the money your SAVING!!"

The Alice and Olivia leggings that were $150 are now $89.

The Tory Burch Jelly Reva that was $95 is now $57!!

The adorable BCBG floral applique party dress that was $288 is now $216. It is worth every penny. I have never gotten more complements on a dress before!!

Do you know of any good sales?? Or do you have a tip about a finding good deals online??

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays - Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bananas and Brown Sugar

So I imagine that those of you who will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner have already begun thinking about your menu for the big day. A few years ago, I did a ton of recipe research and put together our menu that has now become a tradition. I found the hardest thing to plan was having enough of the right pots/pans/baking dishes/oven space for everything, so I found recipes that made the most efficient use of our kitchen and our time. If you want to know how ridiculously OCD I am about some things, I even prepared an excel spreadsheet that given any supper start time will back you in to when you need to begin each dish.

I thought that over the next few weeks, I'd share the recipes that make up our menu! The menu is as follows:

Apps: Blue Cheese and Walnut Puff Pastry Pinwheels; Spiced Nuts

Poultry: Roasted Turkey with Creamy Turkey Gravy

Starches: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bananas and Brown Sugar; Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Pecans

Veggies: Slow Cooked Green Beans with Bacon and Onions; Cranberry and Mandarin Orange Jello Mold

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Tartlets

Drinks: Spiced Apple Cider, Prosecco

I'll start you off with my favorite dish, the Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Banana and Brown Sugar. It is so delish that it could actually be listed as a dessert!

5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
4 bananas, unpeeled
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar

Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, put them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Toss the bananas into the pan and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, until both the bananas and potatoes are very soft. Remove the pan from the oven but don't turn the oven off.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Peel the bananas and add them to the bowl along with 1 stick of the butter, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Season with salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything's well combined and the mixture is fluffy. Spoon into an oven-proof serving bowl and smooth the top.
In a separate mixing bowl, use your fingers to rub together the remaining stick of butter, the brown sugar, flour, and pecans until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes and return to the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the crumbs are golden. Serve hot

**I add a layer of mini marshmallows and bake an additional five minutes until the marshmallows are browned. I highly recommend this step!!

***You can prepare this the night before and bake it off about 25 minutes before you're ready to serve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mmmmmm... Manhattan

So we finally have all of our dinner reservations set for our Thanksgiving in New York! As many of you know, I plan all of our vacations around our meals, so it is so important to me that our food itinerary is set before the big trip. I also put together a fashion itinerary that I'll share before we head up there!!

Here goes:

Tuesday - very late dinner at Les Halles, Anthony Bourdain's old stomping ground

Wednesday - welcome dinner with the Allens at Eatery NYC - known for their mac-n-cheese!

Thursday - THE PARADE!!! and then family dinner at L'Absinthe Brasserie-Restaurant

Friday - Dinner at Kelly Ripa's favorite NYC spot Emilio's Ballato - great suggestion Alissa!!

Saturday day - The whole family is going on the food tour of SOHO and the East Village. This is
by far my favorite way to see NYC! I highly recommend this tour!

Saturday Night - one last Allen family hurrah at my favorite fusion restaurant Asia de Cuba!

Wow! I have gained ten pounds just reading these menus!! Good thing we just joined the new gym at Habersham. I had a fitness assessment on Friday and I can tell you that it is still painful to move my legs. Ouch! I have the second part of my assessment tonight. Wish me luck. I hope to be in great shape by Turkey Day so I can eat my way through Manhattan!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't Stop Believing!

I tell you what, I was quite productive today! I was up at 7:30 very nervous about the Saints game against Miami. So I went to work and worked for about four hours. Then I planned our menu for the week and picked up all our needed groceries. I came home to make chicken posole - YUM! I glittered six shoes and finished four of them. All this before the start of the game.

It was such a SUPER victory today. These are not your father's Saints. I mean to be 21 points behind on somebody else's field and come back to win 46-34. That's amazing. When Darren Sharper got his third pick six of the season, I was jumping up and down and twirling around in our den. Our dog, Annie, was also running around, but mostly out of concern for the mental well-being of her owners. At the end of the game when Tracy Porter intercepted Chad Henne and ran it in for a score, we were going crazy!!!! I have been singing "Don't Stop Believing" all night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I really can't tell you how much I love our team. The players are as wonderful off the field as they are on it. After the win, they stayed in the Dolphin's stadium and ran laps around the place shaking hands with all the Saints fans who travelled to the game. They really are the best!

For you old school Saints fans - Cha Ching! Badda Bing! We're 6 and 0!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday - Before I'm 30

I have always loved celebrating my birthday (imagine that - me loving a chance to be the center of attention!), but with my 29th coming up, I am starting to wonder how much longer I will still find enjoyment out of prancing around all day in a birthday crown celebrating my age. I have decided to make my last bday that starts with a 2 last all year. So I started thinking, is there something I really want to accomplish before 30?? There's the traditional "get a promotion", and the ever popular "start a family", but knowing that we'll have a pretty big transition on our hands in the midst of my 29th year, I'd like to keep it to something a lighter! So I started thinking about things I don't attempt because I'm too scared to try them, and my thoughts consistently went back to food. Seeing as I am a person who can map out my life by when I tried my first short rib/fois grois/oyster, etc., I decided I would like to take this year to learn to make the dishes that I have either been too lazy to try or too intimidated to try. Here goes:

  1. Chicken Stock - Anytime I read a Martha Stewart recipe that calls for homemade chicken stock, I feel like Martha is taunting me with her superior commitment to producing better food than me. I don't know why I have avoided making my own broth, it seems easy enough to do, but I am constantly wondering - who has time for this, Martha? So i will set aside one Sunday to make a nice chicken broth that I can freeze and use when needed!
  2. Gumbo Ya-Ya, Mr. B's Style - I have always felt that Mr. B's makes the best Gumbo Ya-Ya I have ever tasted . The roux they use is so dark that the gumbo takes on the color of mahogany. I have attempted many times to perfect this dish, even using their recipe, but I always get pooped out from stirring my roux for an hour. It has never turned much darker than caramel and it lacks the deep nutty flavor that theirs has. This year, I will patiently stir my roux until it is Mr. B's perfect. (And I'll use my homemade chicken stock too!).
  3. Gnocchi - I absolutely adore gnocchi. There is this amazing restaurant in Houma, LA called Christiano's that makes their own gnocchi everyday. They change the preparation nightly, so you always get something new and innovative. I have watched this treat being prepared on several cooking shows, and I will admit, it makes me very nervous. It seems like if you add just a little too much of any one thing - done. But I will try!
  4. A Crawfish Boil - Although crawfish boils might be my favorite pastime, I have never actually manned the boil. I think it's something every New Orleanian should know how to do.
  5. A Great Burger - Even though Mark has shown me a trillion times, I still don't think I could use our grill if he wasn't home. If there is one thing I cannot stand it is gender stereotyping, so I refuse to fall into the category of a girl who can't grill. So I would like to figure out how to come up with the perfect home-cooked burger. I mean one that makes you say "Port of Call has nothing on me!"
  6. Bearnaise Sauce - I could dip almost anything in Bearnaise. My favorite dish paired with Bearnaise is the fried eggplant dusted in powdered sugar from Galatoire's. Mmmmm... I find French sauces delicious but so scary to prepare. There are a ton of steps and raw eggs and what if mine separates?? But just imagine that burger topped with Bearnaise!
  7. Pasta - There is a guy who comes to the Habersham farmers market on Fridays who makes his own breads, flavored butters, cheese spreads, and pastas. They are all absolutely delish, but at $11 for two servings of pasta, your wallet starts to cry out for help. Last week he had a roasted tomato linguine with black pepper and sage. Mmmm... I would like to be able to take my favorite combination of flavors and bring them to life in my pasta creations just like he does.
  8. A Three Tiered Cake - I have attempted many times to assemble the perfect birthday cake, but I have always walked away with a big crumbly mess. I never wait long enough for the cake to cool so the cake breaks apart and I spend a half hour trying to glue it together using icing. Not pretty. I want to be able to slice into my cake and see three perfectly even layers of cake separated my a lovely buttercream filling!
  9. Pie Dough - This is another dish that makes me feel less than stellar in the kitchen. I have considered trying to make my own dough many times, but I always opt for the easy substitute - Pillsbury deep dish pie. I convince myself that it's just as good, but really is there anything better than homemade pie dough?
  10. Boeuf Bourguignon - The dish that Julia Child made accessible and Julie Powell made us all want to try. I have Julia Child's cookbook on the bookshelf in our kitchen, and I can tell you that as of today, it might as well be in a library because it has never been used. I have read almost half of it, and I find it more of an encyclopedia than a cookbook with it's laborious preparations. However, if there is one thing that I will make from that book, it will be this dish!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - Think Pink

I imagine that all of us have had someone we know be affected by breast cancer. It is hard to conceive the fear and anxiety one must feel when first diagnosed. What it is even harder for me to conceive is the strength, determination, and will power these brave women demonstrate when fighting to beat the disease.

On our flight home from New Orleans Monday I was reading Delta's Sky magazine, and there was an article about the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign that mentioned that their campaign put "cause marketing" on the map. And when you think about it, are you really surprised that a women's movement could be the first to do this? I have found in every women's organization that I have been involved in that when a group of women come together, anything is possible. Whether it's bringing awareness to early childhood education or marching to end domestic violence or walking to raise money for breast cancer research, we make things happen. I have been so impressed with the many retailers who have joined the cause. So I thought I'd do a little cause marketing myself!!

Proceeds from this Bobbi Brown Lip Duo from her Pink Ribbon Collection will be added to her $35,000 donation to help fund breast cancer research. Such a great set!
I have loved seeing all of the NFL players sport their pink gloves and cleats. Now you can add a sporty pink touch to your workout too. These great New Balance tennies will come in handy when you start making your New Years resolutions. Wow - Yearly New Balance contributes 15% of wholesale sales from the Lace Up for the Cure® Apparel & Footwear Collection, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $500,000 up to a maximum of $1 million, to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

I love the cut and color of this pair of PRVCY jeans. Can't figure out your size, you can watch a handy little video to help you! PRVCY donates 10% of all profits to breast cancer research. Pretty amazing!

To my dear mentor DB, you taught me more than you could ever know about how to face life's greatest challenges. You fought your battle with courage and grace and a little dash of humor. I am a better CPA, wife, citizen, volunteer, and future mom because I know you. I am so grateful that you are a part of the brave women who make up the sorority of survivors.


I will be back later to update today's Trendy Wednesday - Think Pink. Can you guess what it's about??

But for now, I must share that we have just purchased our plane tickets to Paris. We'll be going at the end of May! I really can't believe it's actually happening!!!!!!! This is such a great day.

If you have any tips on Paris (especially on where you prefer to stay), please pass them along.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays - Chicken Posole

It is quite cold this morning here in Beaufort. There is nothing better on a cold day than a hearty soup. Just the thought of it has warmed me right up. I love making soups for dinner and serving them with a nice slice of warm bread. Growing up, my parents often made their own breads. I thought the whole process was amazing. We'd help get all of the ingredients together and watch as the dough rose. It seemed like magic. Isn't it amazing how much better homemade bread is. And paired with the right soup - Mmmmmm...

I have made this recipe for chicken posole a few times, and it always comes out great. It has a wonderful flavor, and the hominy is very filling. I suggest using a bit of chipotle chili powder for the nice smokiness it would bring to the dish. A little bit packs quite a punch, so add it cautiously and taste as you go to make sure it's not too spicy. Also, a store bought rotisserie chicken works well for this dish, and it saves you a ton of time!! I would garnish with cilantro and a slice of lime to add a little acid and some color. It would be perfect paired with some warm cornbread. An body have any favorite cornbread recipes?

Serves 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cans (15 ounces each) white hominy, drained
6 3/4 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey meat (2 pounds)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Assorted garnishes, such as diced avocado, thinly sliced radishes, and crumbled tortilla chips (optional)

Heat oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until evenly distributed.
Add 4 cups water, broth, and hominy. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until fragrant, about 30 minutes.
Stir in chicken; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through. (When freezing, cool completely before transferring to airtight containers.)
To serve, divide among bowls, and garnish as desired.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wanna Get Away - to Miami on Feb 7th?

Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a weekend. We have the best time at the Blues and BBQ festival. We had some cold frosty beers and some cochon de lait po-boys (yes the kind they sell at Jazzfest!) and heard the best music. It was such an absolutely beautiful day. My parents came with us, and we enjoyed getting to spend time together in such a festive atmosphere.

We were able to catch up with some friends who just had a new baby, and baby Kate is adorable, as is her brother Max. Saturday night the whole family spent the evening celebrating my dear friend Beth. Her family really is our family, so it was wonderful to be together and see Beth and her new fiance John so happy. Her dad gave a sweet toast, and her aunts put together this adorable slide show of pictures or Beth and John through the years. It brought back some lovely memories.

Sunday was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! We had breakfast at this cute little place in Mid-City called Huevos. Yum - house made chorizo. Then we were off to the Superdome where we tailgated with our good friends. Who knew we'd be in for such a special treat. The Saints played the best game I have ever seen them play. The atmosphere was electric! So electric in fact that I have absolutely NO voice today. Seriously, I cannot talk without sounding like a 13 year old boy. It was all worth it. The Giants defense as well as sportscasters around the league have credited the Saints crowd with causing havoc on the Giants D. Job well done Saints fans! We were so happy for Jeremy Shockey for his outstanding performance yesterday. He was a great teammate all week never focusing attention on himself, so props to Jeremy. And all hail Drew Brees. If he isn't the epitome of an MVP, I don't know who is. Under his offensive leadership, SEVEN Saints players scored yesterday. He makes everyone who plays with him excel. He is truly a joy to watch.

So much so that we are booking tickets to Miami on Southwest this afternoon for the weekend of February 6th-8th. I feel like just writing this I am jinxing our chances of going to Miami for the Superbowl, but after what we saw yesterday, this year is looking pretty special. So why not live in the moment and take a chance on Drew Brees. After all, it's pretty fitting - three years ago he turned down an opportunity to play for the Miami Dolphins and took a chance on New Orleans to come and lead a franchise looking to rebuild itself and its city.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New and notes before we head to NOLA

  1. Soooo - Drew Brees (our Saints QB) had dinner at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse last night with his family. I think this is good football karma, after all eating there has before games has had a pretty good track record. Plus, we're hoping he tried my sister's coconut cake!
  2. We are absolutely loving having Maggie's Pub and Patois in our neighborhood. Yesterday Mark and I met over there for a drink after work and ended up chatting with a neighbor. We stayed had a few more rounds and had dinner at Patois. Awesome!!
  3. We have the sweetest little gift shop in our neighborhood called Jolie. They sell this brand of soaps and lotions called Olivina. You will LOVE it. I like the original Olive scent because it is fresh and clean, but they also have Fig, Meyer Lemon, and Lavender.
  4. All flights appear to be on time! So we're off. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!!!!

Geaux Saints!!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fridays Five Favorite Things - All Things Fall

Fall is by far my favorite time of year. It has always been my favorite, so I think I become extra sentimental this time of year. There are sights and smells of Fall that bring me right back to childhood. One single breath in or the first feel of cool crisp air can transport me right back there. Here are five of my favorite things about fall and how they came to mean so much to me.

  1. The smell of burning leaves - I have to admit this one only takes me back to our first fall in Beaufort. I don't remember burning leaves growing up in New Orleans - I think there is a city-wide burn ban. Man, I didn't know what I was missing. When we first moved to Beaufort, we didn't know anyone, and I spent our hot September weekends moping about missing home. But our first October weekend made me fall in love with Beaufort. We woke up to crisp weather and I watched Mark run in the Shrimp Run. We met a few new people and made plans for dinner with our new friends Matt and Jaime. I remember the drive over to their house and how the smokiness of the burning leaves was just the greatest thing. It was the first weekend we had here where I thought - "this will be alright." And it has been way better than that!
  2. Halloween - I have always loved Halloween. It is my dad's birthday, and he used to tell us how it was always so nice of the stores to decorate for him and celebrate his birthday. Then he would ask us why all of these kids were coming over asking him for something when they should have been bringing him presents. I always thought that was the funniest thing! My dad and I are the only people in the fam who really enjoy Chinese food, so we didn't eat it much, but every year on his birthday, we would have Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and Egg Drop Soup and Eggrolls. It felt so special.
  3. Pumpkin Pie - Speaking of birthdays, my birthday is in early November and growing up I didn't like chocolate or cake (unless it was covered in my dad's buttercream frosting). So every year at my birthday parties we would have pie. I love the smell of a baking pumpkin pie - the butter in the crust and the cinnamon in the filling. Delish! I highly recommend the Pecan Pumpkin Butter from Williams Sonoma!
  4. Cool Breezes - We went to daycare at a very special place called Buster Bear. The family who ran it is like our second family and most of my best childhood memories exist there. They had this great swing set and I can completely remember swinging as high as I could and feeling the first winds of fall brush through my hair. There was an excitement and anticipation that you could feel with the change of the seasons. It was like nature's way of welcoming us into this special time of year.
  5. A Gas Furnace - That is truly the best smell in the world. Growing up we had a gas heater in our den. My parents would eventually change it out to central air and heat and fall was never quite the same after that. You always knew fall had arrived when you needed to click the switch on the gas heater. The smell crept into every crevice of the house. It was warm and comforting like a big blanket wrapped around you. I remember that it made a funny sound too. It's funny how it's the simplest of things that you treasure the most. I loved that darn heater.

Happy Fall!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Giant Homecoming

Well, we'll see what the Saint's are made of this weekend when we head to New Orleans to catch the Saints v. Giants game Sunday. It'll be Eli Manning's first visit back to New Orleans as an NFL player. I'm hoping our defensive line gives him a nice welcome home day long. This is really our toughest test of the year so far. It is again a match of the undefeateds, and it will likely have major implications for home field advantage in the playoffs. Ewww, I hope I didn't just jinx our season by saying playoffs in relation to the Saints. Sorry boys. The talk of the town was whether Archie Manning would side with his home team or his youngest son. Of course, he said he'll be pulling for Eli, but I bet he'd be very happy to see the Saints win too. I know I would. We'll need all the positive energy you can throw out into the world this weekend, so please be thinking good thoughts about the Saints this Sunday. Holy cow, can you imagine what the Dome will be like if we win!!!!!!! I'm glad we'll be in that number Sunday!

We haven't been home since the beginning of September and it was ridiculously hot then. I'm so excited about the beautiful weather that they are forecasting. New Orleans is never more perfect than on a sunny, cool, fall afternoon. We are planning on going to the Julia Street Farmers Market Saturday morning and then heading to the NOLA Blues and BBQ festival. It's produced by the same folks who produce Jazz Fest, so I know we're in for a real treat. Music, food, gorgeous weather - who could ask for anything better! Saturday night we'll be going to an engagement party for my BFF Beth. I have known Beth since I was six weeks old! I couldn't be happier for her and John!!! And of course Sunday is game day!!!!!!! it's an action packed weekend like all our Saints trips are, but we like to make the most of every minute!


Ten Things...

Lisa from Knitting Yarns posted this today, and I thought it would be fun. Comment with your anwsers or post them on your blog!!!

Ten on Thursday
Here are 10 random questions:
1. If you won the lottery, what would be your one random, off-the-wall purchase? So if I won the local lottery and it was like a million dollars, I would buy my mom an Hermes Birkin bag. It's something she's talked about wanting but that no normal person can actually get. They're fab!! But if we ever won the BIG lottery where you don't actually know if you could spend all the money I would buy a Gulfstream jet - no doubt in my mind!

2. What is popular now that you just don’t get? American Idol. I know, I know. I just don't like reality competition shows where America gets to vote. I think it weeds out the people who are incredibly talented but not picture perfect.

3. What would your last meal, you know, if you were ever about to be executed and you got to choose that sort of thing? Ok, this is one of my favorite driving trip games!! It's so hard to decide though. Appetizer - turtle soup from Upperline; Dinner - Filet Mignon covered in Bernaise from Emeril's Delmonico; Starches - Pommes Frites from Rue de Jean and my dad's Fettucini Alfredo; Veggie - Green Bean Casserole with French's Crunchy Onions; Dessert - my sister's Banana Bread Pudding with Banans Foster Sauce and the Butterscotch Pudding from 112 Eatery.

4. When is it okay to start listening to Christmas music? The week of Thanksgiving, but my dad will gladly sing "Oh the weather outside is frightful" any time of year!!

5. How do you feel about facial hair on men? It depends.

6. McDonald’s or Burger King? I know it's PC to say you hate fast food, but I could play the "what would your last meal be" game with fast food too. I don't eat it unless we're in an airport, but I do love it. I would say McDonald's for sure!! Those fries!!!!! PS - Popeyes is considered a bona fide restaurant in New Olreans, so it doesn't count as fast food in my book!!

7. What kind of soap do you use? I like the liquid Dove soap because it smells so good. I also really admire the Dove campaign on improving the concept of beauty an body image among young girls - so buy Dove!!

8. What movie can you watch over and over and never get tired of? The Holiday, Serendipity, Sex and the City, Dead Poets Society, Miracle, Cool Runnings

9. Favorite beverage? Mojitos and Coke Zero!!

10. What do you want for Christmas? We are planning a 5 year anniversary trip to Paris in June and there is this amazing culinary experience I am dying for. Your day begins at 9:00 am where you meet the tour leader (Paule) at her home and she takes you on a tour of the open air markets of Paris. You select the freshest products to use in making a 3 course lunch. Returning to her kitchen, you attend a cooking class and learn the basics of preparing a French meal using your ingredients. After lunch you go for a three hour food tour of the area. AMAZING! We have been emailing and she seems wonderful. I am hoping Santa knows about Paule and her amazing Parisian foodie day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - Vintage Inspired Shoes

I have always had a thing for "to-die-for" handbags and shoes. The way I see it, they are a girl's best friend. Just think of it this way, even on your worst "I feel fat" day, they fit like a charm. They never give you muffin top or accentuate your less than sculpted biceps. They are just perfectly reliable. Explaining the value of an over the top handbag can be tricky, but the way I see it, if you divide the cost of said item by the number of days you will wear it in its lifetime, it's basically free! And how many things can you buy in this world that become more valuable 25 years down the line when you can call it a "vintage piece." Seriously, this is some sound financial advice. While everything else we invest in is depreciating, that Fendi Peek-A-Boo bag is just skyrocketing in value! Have I convinced you yet?? I haven't convinced Mark either, and I've been trying for nearly ten years. The one thing I do believe in though is that if we take proper care of our accessories now, it will surely pay dividends later. It is said that history repeats itself, and in the world of fashion that couldn't be more true. One of my favorite repetitions of fashion's past is the vintage inspired shoe. From boots to pumps, you can find a shoe of every kind that brings back the bygone days.

I love this pair I bought at the Nordstrom semi-annual sale. (And they're on sale right now!) I like wearing them with tights in shades darker than they are to really accentuate the details of the shoe!

This pair of cream and black oxfords is simply adorable. It reminds of something the girls would have worn in The Notebook - the best romantic movie ever!!!

This pair of "Winding Ruffle Boots" is a great way to add a little interest to your winter outfits.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays - Ziti with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola Sauce

I know most people think that worst time of year for a CPA are the weeks leading up to April 15th, and don't get me wrong, they are CRAZY, but in my opinion, the most stressful time of year is actually the first two weeks of October. If you are an on-time income tax filer, you probably don't even realize that there is such a thing as the October 15th deadline. It is dooms day for CPAs. It is the final finish line and most days it seems like you might not actually be running across it. There are sooooo many returns to finish, and there's no more wiggle room in getting them done!

I always find during stressful work weeks that the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is making a complex menu with a ton of cooking steps. That's how I came across this delicious recipe. Who doesn't love a good pasta dish?? This one pairs the sweetness of half and half (fat-free works very well in this case) with the spiciness of crushed red pepper. The Gorgonzola adds just the right punch to turn a simple pasta dish into a lovely meal. We'll be having this tonight with the addition of some turkey Italian sausage. I really think you'll find this recipe perfect for those nights when you just can't imagine having to think for even one more second.

Ziti with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola Sauce

2 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces uncooked ziti (whole wheat ziti works very well)
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons half-and-half (I used fat-free)
3 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup fresh spinach
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cherry tomatoes, salt, crushed red pepper, and minced garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in half-and-half and Gorgonzola cheese; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in spinach and pasta; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, tossing occasionally.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pam and Jim Sittin in a Tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Ok, who else LOVED The Office last night??? It was the best episode to date. I really think I was as happy for them as I am for real people when they get married! Secretly, I want them to be real so we can be friends. The practical jokes and pranks you'd play would never get old!
I don't want to spoil anything for in case you haven't seen it yet, but it was just so sweet!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - Leggings

Having taken ballet for nearly half of my life, I spent more hours than I can count in some version of leggings/stockings/tights. Perhaps that is what has propelled my appreciation for the resurgence of such hosiery. It is also why you can imagine my feelings were hurt when my favorite TV style guru, Tim Gunn expressed his contempt for all things leggings. What - Tim Gunn hates leggings! Why?????? I have already mentally prepared my entire winter wardrobe around the pair of leggings the Easter Bunny brought me last year (I gave up shopping for Lent, so the Easter Bunny - read Mark - got me the pair I had been eyeing over for forty long days and nights). Well, although it always annoys me the Project Runway designers ignore dear Tim, I think I will be doing just that on this topic.

I love this pair from Anthropologie. They come in five colors, but the mustard is my fave!

This Alice and Olivia pair from Nordstrom is a little pricey, but I love the length and the button detail!!!

These Juicy denim leggings would be perfect over pumps, but they would also be great for tucking into boots!

Tasty Tuesdays - Pumpkin Dip

Every year on the first weekend of October, my parents would take my sister and me down to the French Market for a very special tradition. We would start with breakfast at Cafe du Monde because no trip to the French Quarter is complete without those delicious fried pillows of dough. After we were covered from head to toe in powdered sugar, we would parade ourselves over to the market where we would pick out our very own pumpkin. I loved all of the variety of the pumpkins and the gourds. They are each so unique, it's hard to find just the right one. At the end of the morning, we would walk back to the car, pumpkins in hand, and even if it was 85 degrees, I knew Fall had arrived.

With my attention turned to all things Fall, I found this recipe for Pumpkin Dip. We dipped Gala and Granny Smith apples as well as Biscoff cookies (the kind you get on Delta flights, but can also be found near specialty cookies in the snacks aisle). But seriously, you will want to dip everything you pick up into this tasty concoction!!

Pumpkin Dip
2 cups confectionery sugar

1 can (15 or 16 oz) pumpkin (Not pumpkin pie filling)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Mix ingredients together till smooth. Use one small pumpkin, cut off the top and clean out. Use a marker to decorate. Now pour dip into pumpkin and serve with ginger snap cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Happy Halloween!

Notes - I will say that I used lowfat cream cheese, and the dip was runny - stick to regular. My suggestion would be to blend the cream cheese and some of the powdered sugar together until you get a nice texture and the right level of sweetness. Stir the pumpkin in a bowl to make sure it is well blended (it's watery at the top of the can). Blend pumpkin into cream cheese in small amounts until you are happy with the texture and taste. I followed the recipe above and I wish I had followed this process instead. I think it will get you a better result. You might want to keep an extra log of cream cheese around too just in case you need to thicken it.

It's a super easy recipe and great to bring for all your fall festivals!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

4 - 0 my goodness

Can you believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Saints are four and "o" for the first time since 1991. I truly couldn't be more excited!!!!!!!!!


So that you know that I'm really not crazy and am just your average Saints fan, here is a bit of an article talking about the hundreds of Saints fans who met the team at the airport last Sunday after their plane landed from Buffalo well after midnight...

The passion was evident Sunday around midnight, when hundreds of Who Dats greeted the team upon its return to New Orleans. Clad head to toe in black and gold, they lined the entrance road to General Aviation in Kenner, chanted and brandished signs of support.
"It was insane, " said reserve quarterback Chase Daniel, a rookie. "You could hardly get your truck down the road."
"It reminded me of the Vol walk, " cornerback Jabari Greer said of the cherished game-day tradition at his alma mater, Tennessee. "It was amazing."
"That just showed us how excited our fans are, and how excited they are early, " Saints safety Pierson Prioleau said. "It's special."

Special Indeed!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Is it the Swine Flu?

No it's just Saints fever!!!!!!!!!

I have been anxious about the Saints versus Jets game Sunday since the last second clicked off the clock last week in Buffalo. I know you never want to make much of any one game in the NFL, but this game has the feeling of a STATEMENT game. The Saints will be playing at home in what will hopefully be a playoff atmosphere against a Jets team that most predicted would have a mediocre season with rookie Mark Sanchez at QB. What has helped Sanchez and the Jets get off to a 3-0 start is the fantastic play of their defense and special teams. There defense has put Sanchez in manageable situations and haven't asked him to do too much to win a game. Their defense has not allowed an opponent to score on their first possession once this year allowing them to set the pace. It just so happens though that Drew Brees will be playing them this Sunday, and he has led the Saints to score on each of their three opening drives this year. If we can do that Sunday, it'll be a good start to what will hopefully be a great game.

I am kind of suspicious of games like these. We have so much invested in a big home win that would take us to 4-0 before the bye week. The Saints have found ways to disappoint us each of the last two years, so forgive my hesitance to crown them yet. I find I become so emotionally involved with the team (i.e. I cried after our 0-4 start in 2007, and I mean really cried) that I'm trying to ease my way into this season. But it's hard not to notice what's going around in New Orleans. The shakes, cold sweats, exhaustion - it's not the swine flu - it's SAINTS FEVER! I think I might be coming down with it too!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Positevly GLEEful!

I hope you have all been watching Glee! If not, that's what HULU is for, right!! It is by far the best show on television (this coming from someone who can watch an episode of Project Runway three times and not be bored). I watch it, and it makes me so happy. Maybe it brings back my dream of being a Broadway star. It must, because after last night's episode, I made Mark listen to my version of "How Lovely" from Bye Bye Birdie. I would give anything to be half as talented as the kids on this show. I will admit that with not nearly half their talent, I stood on stage many times and belted out a song, in likely the wrong key, and had the best time doing it. If only there was a place in this world for a twenty-something (I am going to use that phrase in every post for the next year while it still applies to me) wanna-be glee clubber. I guess for now, belting out "Don't Stop Believing" into my straightener will have to do.


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