Thursday, December 31, 2009

Has it really been 10 years?

Today I am finding it so hard to believe that we celebrated the new millenium ten years ago. It seems like just yesterday! I was a sophomore at Loyola University New Orleans who had planned to spend the last hours of 1999 dancing at Madigan's with my sorority sisters until the wee hours of the morning. Only there was an amazing opporunity presented to me that would forever make my world better. I sat bored in my mom's office a few days before NYE, when out of nowhere her boss asked if I would like to accompany his family on a quick trip to the Bahamas. WHAT?!?! Seems like an easy decision, right? But I had a hard time getting that image of my friends circled together in the very bar that defined our collegiate experience celebrating the start to a new century. I abandoned Madigan's for a world I could only dream of. I arrived in Nassau on the 29th of December very late in the evening to discover that I would be staying on a yacht, not a boat, but a yacht that had a deckhand and a chef and a dining table as big as the one in my parent's living room. I simply could not believe my luck! The next morning I met "the girls" as I would call them from that point forward. Elizabeth had just turned three and Gabrielle was about seven weeks old. And while I sure was lucky to have been able to cruise through the brilliantly blue water of the Caribbean and run my hands through the softest sand I had ever felt on Iguana Island and spend midnight on NYE watching the Atlantis Hotel's incredible fireworks display, the thing that made me feel the luckiest was being able to meet these two sweet girls. For the next three years, I travelled with the girls and their family and was just so truly happy to have them as a part of my life.

It is so hard for me to imagine that this all took place ten years ago. They were just babies. Heck, I was a baby. Looking back on the end of 1999, I realize that year might have been one of the best year's of my life. I did not know it then, but a few weeks after we returned from the Bahamas, I would have the honor of becoming a Sig Ep little sister. And just a few weeks after that, I would meet Mark for the first time at a mixer my sorority had with Tulane med students. We would later meet again, have a drink at Philips, and attend the med school formal - our first official date. It was a year I'll never forget, and it's nice every once in a while on days like today to look back and cherish every bit of what made it so special. And as I look forward, not knowing what the next ten years will bring, I feel excited and more than a little lucky.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - A Year in Review

I cannot believe 2009 has already come and gone.  The older I get, the faster time seems to go.  Do you feel that way too??  Sometimes I feel like I went to bed in March and woke up in December.  Everytime I hear a news clip or read a headline on yahoo someone seems to be trying to summarize this year in just a few short words.  So I figured I might as well throw my hat in the ring.  Here's a few of the things that 2009 brought us:

  • Apps - Say goodbye to the commercial catchphrase "Can you here me now?" and hello to  "There's an app for that."  Apparently there is an app for just about anything.  I don't know firsthand b/c I'm still using the free Blackberry that came with my upgrade, but according to Mark (who received an Iphone from Santa) there are a million apps to choose from. 
  • Twitter - While I was very eager to get on facebook, I have made no attempt at twitter.  Two reasons.  One, I think if I did, I would spend all day reading about the whereabouts of Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher which, let's be honest, would be fun but incredibly unproductive.  Two, I simply don't understand how to use it.  I considered making it a NY resolution because I think staying up to date on technology is important, but reason number one makes me think it is a bad idea.
  • Tweens - This seems to be the year of the tween.  Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, and Selena Gomez are just a few of the tweens that reached mega-stardom this year.  I am not a big Miley Cyrus fan because I think she is a terrible role model (see her half-naked magazine cover and her pole dance routine at the Teen Choice awards show for example), but I love Taylor Swift - what a sweet and adorable and truly talented girl.
  • Re-usable Shopping Bags - They are everywhere!!  I have one from almost every grocery store in Beaufort, and I love them.  When you have to walk up three flights of stairs with all your items, they sure do come in handy.  I love how durable they are, and the extra long handles make them easy to use. 
  • Vampires - It took me a little while longer than the rest of the world to hop on board this craze, but I think I am sold.  I have not read any of the books in the Twilight series, but I have seen both movies and really liked them.  I do not typically enjoy movies in the fantasy genre, but I think these keep my interest due to the fabulously guiltily pleasurable high school love drama.  I will bravely admit that we have also been DVRing and watching Vampire Diaries.  This small screen version of teen vampire angst isn't nearly as good as Twilight, but it'll do.  Of course, the best option for vampire tales is True Blood.  Love it!!!
  • Glee - OMG!!!  This is my favorite tv show since Sex and the City.  My sister got me the soundtrack for Christmas, and it is AWESOME!!!  How will I ever wait until April for it to return!
  • The 80s - Who would have thought that we should have hung on to our plaid and leggings?!?!  The 80s are back with a vengence and I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon, so you may just have to embrace it.  Hmmmm...  This subject might call for a Trendy Wednesday all to itself!
The trend I wish would go away in 2010 is The Famously Unfamous.  Can anyone tell me the last time they actually learned anything watching TLC??  Seriously...  If I never had to hear about the Duggars having a 20th baby or see John Gosselin in a way too tight Ed Hardy tee I would be the happiest person in life.  Why are they famous????  I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to watching bad reality tv, but the ridiculous media coverage detailing the lives of these people is ridiculous.  In 2010, I am hoping for more parenting and less self-promotion.

Do you think I left anything out?  And what trend do you wish would just go away??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays: Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Corn Bread Croutons

Besides the Rose Bowl Parade and college football games, the other thing about New Years Day that I love is preparing the traditional dishes that bring you a bit of luck and few extra pennies in your pocket.  Like most Southerners, I adore black eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens.  So the idea of creating a spread that includes all of these things is my idea of heaven.  I have tested several recipes over the past few years, and while I have enjoyed them all, I was in the market for something a little different to ring in this new decade.  I found this soup recipe on, and I was immediately struck by its balance of simplicity and unique flavors.  I love the idea of blending the saltiness and smokiness of the bacon with the earthiness and spiciness of the watercress.  How unique!  All this accompanied by the sweet flavor of a good bite of cornbread is a perfect way to start my new year.  
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1  cup  (1-inch) cubed corn bread (about 3 1/2 ounces)  (I'm going to use the extra boxes of Jiff leftover from Thanksgiving)
  • 4  applewood-smoked bacon slices, chopped
  • 3  cups  chopped onion
  • 6  garlic cloves, minced
  • 6  cups  cooked black-eyed peas (I'm using canned)
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  cups  water
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped trimmed watercress  (Try arugula if you can't find watercress)


Preheat oven to 350°.
Arrange corn bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Set bacon aside. Add onion and garlic to drippings; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in peas and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until beans are very tender.
Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons watercress, 2 1/2 tablespoons croutons, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons bacon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas was...

I am borrowing this recap idea from Lisa over at knitting yarns.  Here is how I would describe our holiday...

Christmas was...

  1. Learning to really love driving trips.  I so enjoyed the time I got to spend with Mark as we drove from Beaufort to New Orleans.
  2. The season when we got married and being able to celebrate our anniversary with a night at the Le Pavillon Hotel was so special.  
  3. Apparently a distraction for our Saints.  It seems they were more focused on Christmas presents than football seeing as we've now dropped two games in a row.  In spite of the losses, we truly had such an amazing time tailgating with all of our friends and fellow members of the Who Dat Nation!
  4. Being able to enjoy Reveillon menus at New Orleans' best restaurants.  We had a very nice meal at Mat and Naddie's where the highlight of the dinner was the Mocha and Banana Tart Filling in a Shortbread Crust.  Can you say melt in your mouth?  We also had a superb dinner with even better company (JT and Katherine) at Upperline.  Their Reveillon menu had such a wide array of choices.  I started with their Turtle soup, which is my favorite version of this dish in the city, and it was even better than I had remembered.
  5. Spending time with my parents.  We had such a nice time getting to spend time with them.  Whether it was having lunch at Luke and walking through the lobbies of the downtown hotels dressed in their holiday finest or grocery shopping with my dad and Christmas shopping with my mom.  I enjoyed every minute of our time together.
  6. Hanging out with my sister and her bf, Milton.  We especially enjoyed our double date at Adolfo's.  This quaint little Italian place might just be the gem of the Marigny.  The food was amazing and the atmosphere was so unique and original.  After dinner we had a great time listening to a fantastic jazz band on Frenchman St.  
  7. Full of traditions.  The whole family went to Celebration in the Oaks and heard my little cousin sing with her choir.  We hosted the annual Bernard family Christmas Eve celebration.  We capped off Christmas Eve with my dad's reading of The Polar Express.  We spent Christmas morning cooking all of our favorite Christmas dishes for our lunch with my grandparents and great uncle. 
  8. A time spent with all of our friends.  We were especially happy to be able to drive back through Birmingham where we were able to spend time with our friends Anna and Diego.  We saw our sweet as pie Goddaughter, Bayona and met her adorable sister, Arabella.  Bayona may be the cutest, smartest little one I have ever met.  She made us laugh for hours and made us want to get back to Bham very very soon.
  9. A reminder of how much I love New Orleans.  Every day we were there I would experience something that would make me realize how incredibly unique and special of a place it is.
  10. A week that went by in the blink of an eye.  I always find myself a little somber at the end of the holiday week.  It means another year has come and gone.  I find myself looking back at this last year and hoping that I made the most of every day in it.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Trendy Wednesday- The Chunky Sweater

Can you believe Christmas week is finally here?!?!  We've been in New Orleans a few days now, and I feel like we have eaten at every restaurant in the city.  And the Christmas meals haven't even started yet.  There's nothing better, other than a healthy dose of New Years' resolutions, to combat holiday waistlines than a beautiful oversized sweater.  Whether I have my favorite chunky cardigan paired with my black leggings and flats or over my Citizen Avedon jeggings (jean/denim leggings) and boots, I always feel both fashionable and comfortable.   Here are a few of my favorites...

I think this American Eagle sweater is the perfect last minute gift if you're trying to find just the right thing for a friend or family member.  It is a simple and understated style, but the cowl neck adds just the right amount of sophistication that could take it from daytime casual to nighttime dressy.  PS - it's on sale right now too!!!

When we were in NYC over Thanksgiving, I was able to pick out one treat from Anthropologie, and I chose the Plaza Cardigan.  It is a wonderful and versatile sweater that I have paired with jeans on the weekends and with a black knit skirt for work.  Aren't all those ruffles to die for?

I love the Letizia Cardigan from Anthropologie.  The wrap detail is perfectly flattering, and the oversized collar would quickly become the focal point of your outfit, drawing attention up to your pretty face!

I think this Banana Republic Chunky Black and Grey Sweater looks so warm and cozy!  I love the pairing of the charcoal grey and the black.  Just fabulous!

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays: Houston's Spinach Dip

You have to be very careful about the activities you take on during the holiday season in my family.  We are very fond of creating traditions, so if we do something more than once, there's a good possibility we will be doing it forever.  This is especially true when it comes to making menus for our holiday meals.  We have eaten the same things every Christmas since as long as I can remember.  It's a good thing they're all delicious because I don't think we'll ever change that menu.  It's a tradition.

One of everyone's favorite dishes is our version of Houston's Spinach Dip.  If you have ever gone to the restaurant Houston's, you know that they have some of the best spinach dip around.  It is served piping hot and with corn chips for dipping.  Ours originated as a dip, and it has made it's way onto our main menu as a vegetable, although after you read the recipe you might agree that this isn't exactly what teacher meant when she said "Eat your vegetables."

Houston's Spinach Dip

2 boxes frozen chopped spinach - cooked and drained
1 can artichoke hearts - drained and mashed
1 8 oz. package Philadelphia cream cheese
1 8 oz. carton of sour cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese - shredded
1/2 white onion - chopped fine
1 stick butter
salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter, add all ingredients except for Jack cheese - mixing and blending after each addition.  Take off the heat and place mixture into a microwave safe dish.  Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.  Cook four to five minutes on high.

Note - if you like your cheese to brown, place in oven friendly casserole dish and broil until browned.

Hope this makes it's way onto your holiday table!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

White Christmas

I have always loved old movies, especially ones about Christmas.  Holiday Inn and White Christmas have been favorites of mine since I was a little girl.  When I saw that Le Petit Theatre, the oldest continuously operating theatre in the country, was hosting a production of White Christmas, I just knew we had to go.  So yesterday, my parents, my sister, Mark, and me went down to the Quarter to Le Petit to see the show.  It was such a wonderful treat to get to see.  The actors were amazing, and the orchestra was perfection.  At the very end, the entire ensemble closed the show with White Christmas and as they began singing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" snow machines at both corners of the stage began projecting these tiny bubbles that look and feel like snow into the audience.  It was truly magical.  The entire theatre had been transformed into a winter wonderland and the adults were smiling as brightly as the children.  The cast invited the audience to sing a long, and before you knew it, every person packed into this sweet little theatre was singing White Christmas as snow fell from the sky.  It was the best start to Christmas I have had in a long time.

As the actors took their bows and gave their thanks to the orchestra, they closed the show with a little gift for us, their audience.  They shouted "This is for You, Merry Christmas, New Orleans!"  And the orchestra began to play When the Saints Go Marching In.  I got a little teary because it was just one of those moments when you know you're in a special place.  In no other theatre in the world was this happening.  An impromptu pep rally broke out and everyone was smiling and clapping and dancing and we still believed in our boys.  I don't know if it was just that that moment was filled with such pure joy or not, but it was the most beautiful rendition of that song I have heard in a long time.  I saw more than one adult wipe away a tear as they swayed to the sound of the trumpet.  And I looked around and thought Only in New Orleans.  Only in New Orleans.

Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints: Dallas =(

So I guess I'll start where I left off - in Mariana, FL.  We got up early Saturday morning, and started our four and a half hour drive into New Orleans.  To keep busy, I started working on my French with Rosetta Stone.  It kept us both occupied for the drive and we now know how our numbers and our colors.  When will Rosetta tell me how to order cheese and wine???

After a quick potty break in Pass Christian, MS (where everyone in the gas station was wearing Saints apparel), we got to NOLA around lunch time.  We unpacked our bags and headed out to lunch with my parents.  I was so anxious to get downtown to tailgate!!  We arrived at the Dome at 2:00 and the tailgating area was more crowded than I have ever seen it.  There were stages set up in multiple locations where bands were playing, there were people lounging on sofas warming their hands over fire pits, and there were who dat chants all around us.  It was truly the most electric atmosphere I have ever witnessed for a regular season game (the MNF game v. Atlanta is the only exception).  It literally felt like Mardi Gras.  I wish I had the words to describe to you how amazing it was!  And that was at five and a half hours before the game started!!! I just kept telling Mark how lucky we were to be here to witness this.  There are very few things that bring people together like sports does.  I kept looking around at men and women who under most circumstances might not have had anything in common, but who were on this day linked by our team.  There were strangers hugging, singing, dancing together celebrating our life here in this amazing city. It was a beautiful thing.

A beautiful thing is not exactly how I would describe the game we played.  We looked overwhelmed and confused.  Maybe the players got caught up in all of the excitement and lost their focus.  I don't know, but I know we have some things to fix.  I think you have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win.  Hopefully, the team will take something away from this loss and improve from here.  I know the players were so disappointed about not remaining undefeated, but if you had told me we'd be 13-1 in September I would have told you you were crazy.  We have two games left in the regular season, and we need only one win to secure home field advantage through the playoffs.  Can you imagine what the city will be like for home playoff games.  It might just have to shut down starting in mid-January and re-open after Mardi Gras!!!

I still believe boys!  Who dat and geaux Saints!!!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Well hello from Mariana, FL.  I am excited to tell you that not only am I writing from our lovely little room at the Hampton Inn here, I am writing from our family's new MacBook.  I am in love!!!  It has been so long since we have had a family computer that isn't as slow as molasses, and a laptop no less!!  It was our anniversary gift to each other! As an added bonus, Mark got me a surprise - Rosetta Stone's French I.  I plan to start studying on our drive tomorrow!  Gotta get ready for our anniversary trip to Paris in May.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be in New Orleans for the holidays.  It is so magical this time of year. I must also admit that I cannot believe we will be lucky enough to be home for last of the Saints regular season home games.  According to my dad, if you thought the city was crazed for the Monday night game versus the Pats, you would not believe what it is like right now.  It literally makes me a little teary to be able to be home to be a part of this historic season.  I just want to soak it all in.  I can tell I am going to have a hard time getting to sleep tonight.  I am just so excited to get home and celebrate the team and the city!  GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Every year to celebrate our anniversary we stay at the Le Pavillon Hotel, where we had our reception.  For a minute, it looked like our little tradition would have to wait a year.  Every hotel in downtown New Orleans is booked Saturday night because of the game, but Mark worked his magic and was able to convince them to make room for us.  What a great guy!!!

That's all for now, but I'll update you tomorrow before we head to the game.  Have a wonderful start to your weekends!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Most Beautiful Story Ever Told

For those of you whose only connection to New Orleans comes from this blog, I often wonder if you think I am the exception or the rule in my undying passion for the place I call home. In truth, in every New Orleanian is a love of their city so deep it cannot be expressed in words.  I have tried to convey my affection for it through many posts on this blog, but I have never been able to do the city or her people justice.

Below is the link to truly one of the most beautiful articles I have ever read.  It is more a love letter to New Orleans than it is anything else.  It is not short, but it is truly remarkable.  New Orleans is so much a part of who I am that I find it difficult to separate where the city ends and I begin.  Reading this article was like looking at myself in the mirror.  I hope you will enjoy it and that it will give you a look into who I am and where I come from.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wedding Photos - Has it really been 5 years?

Tomorrow, Mark and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary. I can hardly believe that it has been that long. It feels like just yesterday. I know I will be be so busy tomorrow trying to get all of my work done before our celebration dinner, so I thought I'd share some pictures from our wedding today while I have a minute.

My sister and my dad helping me out of the car as we arrived at Holy Name.

Elizabeth and Gabrielle walking down the aisle.

Father Schott as he closed a beautiful and touching homily.

A view from the choir loft at Holy Name of Jesus Church (it is on the campus of my Alma Mater).

My family

Mark and his brothers

My wonderful bridesmaids

Me with Elizabeth and Gabrielle

My cake which tied together our color scheme of chocolate brown and hydrangea blue

My friend and college roommate, Heather, sang At Last for our first dance.  We were cheering her on...

Ahhhh... So this is love

Happiness is...

My DGs and me doing our DG toast

The Sig Eps serenaded me with the Little Sis song.

Mark and me as we "second lined" out of our reception

A view from the outside of our reception at the Le Pavillon Hotel

Off we went in our carriage

Towards the start of a wonderful life together

When I look at these pictures, it takes my breath away.  That was truly the most wonderful night a girl could ever ask for.  My parents were so gracious and amazing to provide Mark and me with the memories you can only dream will be your own.  I am thankful everyday that Mark chose me.  It has been such a joy to spend my life with him.  Although I try to celebrate our marriage everyday simply by remembering to be kind and warm and loving to him, it is nice to take a moment each year to really stop and remember that we made a choice to go on our life's journey together.  What a journey it has been!  I can't wait to keep celebrating!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays - Pecan Fingers

When I think of Christmas, one of the first things that comes to mind is baking.  What is it about this time of year that inspires the inner Martha in all of us?  Growing up, there were some cookies that we would bake together as a family all year long - chocolate chip pecan, sugar cookies, and snickerdoodles were among them.  But then there were the cookies that we only made around Christmas - pecan fingers.  Mmmm...  I don't know why they were reserved for Christmastime, but that was the only time of year when I remember making them.  It made them kind of a special treat that I associated with cold weather and gas furnaces.  They are the perfect combination of savory and sweet.  The dough itself has very little sugar and a salty richness from the butter base and a toasty nuttiness from the chopped pecans.  But they are carefully wrapped in a layer of powdered sugar that gives them just the right balance of something sweet.  They are the perfect melt in your mouth treat that I think you will love, and that I hope might become a part of your holiday baking tradition like it has mine.

 Pecan Fingers
 2 Cups all pourpose flour
2 sticks softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the first four ingredients well with hands.  Add the chopped pecans.  Form into fingers.  Bake on cookie sheet until brown...  approximately 10-15 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Roll in powdered sugar.

PS - The butterin the dough will become softer as it sits out, so if you find it hard to handle, chill it for a few minutes before shaping.  Also, the cookies are very fragile after they are baked so be careful rolling them.

PSS - After writing this, I think I realize why we only had them once a year - two stick of butter - WOW!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Only in New Orleans

I am posting the link to a video that I cannot get enough of!

Each Sunday after an away game, thousands of Saints fans greet the team at the airport as they arrive into New Orleans. It started months back and was just a few hundred people and a brass band. Now it is like Mardi Gras. They have had to hire police officers to direct traffic and havd had to erect barricades so that the fans can't crowd the players as they are leaving in their cars. Just look at the number of people waiting to greet their team on a wet and cold Sunday! It literally brings a tear to my eye. My favorite part about the video is that it is not shot by a fan. No - it is shot from the perspective of the team's offensive co-ordinator. At one point, you can hear him say "good God" at the number of people lining the streets. I just love how excited the coaches and players are that the fans are so supportive of this team. I get goosebumps!!!

Drew Brees was just named the King of the Krewe of Bacchus (of the the super-krewes that rides on the Sunday of Mardi Gras weekend). The parade will be exactly one week after the Superbowl. If this is the way we celebrate the team's homecoming following a regular season win over the Falcons, can you imagine what the crowds will look like following the greatest win in team history.

Santa, if you're reading this, all I want for Christmas is a Black and Gold Superbowl!!!

A Breakthrough for Beignet

Well what a lovely weekend. Activity-wise, certainly not weather-wise. We attended a lovely dinner party Friday evening where we had ham and sausage stuffed beef tenderloin. In Mark's words "I love when my favorite thing is wrapped around my two other favorite things." Yum! Saturday was cold and rainy, but we managed to have a great day relaxing and making gumbo!! The roux was just right - dark brown and toasty, but not burned. We took our gumbo to a lovely little Christmas party my book club throws each year. I just love holiday parties, don't you. Of course, Sunday was the best day of the weekend, because the Saints extended their winning season by knocking off the Falcons!!! 13-0!!!!!!!!! We'll be home for the next two games, and I can't wait!!

Somewhere between all of this hustle and bustle we have managed to get our new little puppy Beignet to sleep all night in her crate! This is a major breakthrough in our house. For the last month, we have been letting her sleep in a little dog bed next to our bed. This decision has caused one of us to wake up every three hours or so when Beignet realizes playing is way better than sleeping and wants us to join her for a game of catch at 3:00a.m. At least twice during the night I feel two little paws tapping my head and then some teeth pulling on my hair. Grrr. I wake up and rub the puppy's belly until she is calm enough to get back to sleep. Eventually after two rounds of this, we just pick her up and put her in the bed where she will rest somewhat peacefully.

Friday night I was looking forward to getting some sleep, and Beignet wanted nothing to do with that plan. She woke me up three times and I was so tired all day Saturday. Mark and I decided that we had to finally put our foot down and let her cry-it-out in the crate. So Saturday night when we got home from our party, we each gave Beignet an extra tight hug and put her in her crate with a bone and her favorite toy. I was really worried she would hate us for doing it, but to be honest, I think she actually got her first full night's sleep since she has lived with us. She cried for about twenty minutes, and we remained strong resisting the urge to just let sleep in our bed. I think she eventually got too tired to fuss anymore and she fell asleep. She didn't wake up until 8:15 Sunday! A minor miracle seeing as she has been waking us up around 6:15. We tried again last night, and she cried a little louder for a little longer, but eventually she gave up and went to bed. Ahhhhh. The sound of a rested puppy parent. We're just so relieved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pay it Forward

So as I'm sitting here at my desk eating leftover chilly, I have been reading posts on I post frequently on here about my undying love for the Saints, and for those who aren't football fans, I imagine those posts can be awfully boring. But as we from New Orleans know firsthand, football transcends the game. So although this post is Saints related, it is has nothing to do with the sports and everything to do with life.

I'll post the link to the actual article I am referencing, but I'll give you some background here so you know why I felt it was important to post about. You see in the Saints off season this summer we signed a defensive end turned defensive tackle, Anthony Hargrove. Anthony has seen the highs of being drafted out of college into the NFL, but most recently he has seen some major lows. After a successful rooking season, he began struggling with a drug addiction which eventually got him suspended for four games. The suspension teamed with his lack of focus got him released from his team. After signing on with the Bills, Anthony failed his second drug test and was suspended for a year. He had hit the bottom. Not one to give opportunities to "character issue" guys, our coach made an exception for Anthony because he saw in him a will to be a better man. Anthony has taken his second chance to heart and has succeeded on the field, but most importantly, he has succeeded off the field. I have been following him since I first read about his troubled life, and I have been thinking about him and hoping for his sake and for his family's sake, that this last opportunity would be the one that would turn his life around. I can't explain why I felt so connected to his story. Maybe it's because when I needed something hopeful in my life post-Katrina, the Saints and their will to win, their will to carry our beleaguered city on it's shoulders, provided that ray of light. I just had this feeling that if Anthony could be a part of this team and this town he could see how wonderful life could be without the things that hold you down.

And if you read the following story, I think you will feel like I do. Relieved to know that Anthony has found his way. Hopeful to see that because he has seen that out of darkness comes light, he can become a beacon of light to others. I think that being able to see that in yourself speaks volumes about character. More so than any suspension ever could.

This is Anthony's story of paying it forward:

Fridays Five Favorite Things - Holiday Movies

Can you believe it's December 11th?? Where does the time go? I woke up this morning to realize that TWO months from now on February 11th I will be getting all dolled up in my Muses regalia to ride in the single greatest parade of the Mardi Gras season (in my humble - or not so humble - opinion)!!! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!! But I also realized I'm jumping ahead a bit. And while Mardi Gras is most certainly my favorite of all holiday seasons, Christmas is certainly my second favorite. There's nothing that puts me in the Christmas spirit more than watching some of my favorite holiday movies on the sofa with a mug of hot cocoa! So here's a list of my all time faves!

  1. Miracle on 34th Street - Growing up we would watch this every year on Thanksgiving Day and it was the first sign that the Christmas season had officially begun. I thought the little girl in this movie was the luckiest little girl in the world. She got to meet Santa and watch the parade from a balcony overlooking NYC - how glamorous. One of my favorite lines from the movie is when Susan is sitting in the backseat of her mother's car and says "I believe, I believe, it's silly but I believe." And of course my most favorite line is when the drunk Macy's parade Santa says "A man's gotta do somethin' to keep warm." When I was little I didn't realize he was drunk and was referring to guzzling whiskey to keep warm, I just thought he was silly. And I would walk around saying this line whenever I was cold.

  2. It's a Wonderful Life - Who doesn't do a little crying when they watch this movie. No matter how many times I see it, I shed a little tear. It's such a beautiful story, and I think Jimmy Stewart might be the best actor who ever lived. My favorite line is "Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." Goosebumps!!!

  3. The Holiday - I could (and have) watched this movie a million times. I don't know what it is, but it never gets old to me. I dream of going to England/Ireland and staying in a cozy little town like the one in the movie and sipping dark beer at a neighborhood pub. I don't even like dark beer, but it seems very fitting. This movie makes me want an English accent so badly! Mark must hate this movie... we've seen it so many times and every time we watch it, I spend the entire evening talking to him in my best "cheerio, ole chap" impression.

  4. Home Alone - did anybody not watch this on Thanksgiving?? I admit, I might have taken a few naps while it was on, but it wouldn't be Thanksgiving if I didn't hear, "Kevin!" I can remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was little, and I was sooooo in love with Macauley Culkin. I have too many favorites scenes to list. That could be a Friday Favorite in and of itself. But the most classic scene by far is the aftershave scene. Ahhhhhh!

  5. Elf - By the end of this movie, I was pretty convinced that Will Farrell was indeed an elf. I have seen this movie so many times, and each time I laugh as hard as I did the first time I saw it. My favorite line in the movie is when he answers his dad's office phone, "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?" Ha!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Thoughts

  1. Drew Brees was on Jay Leno last night and he was AWESOME!! At one point Jay asked him what was the most unusual thing he has ever been asked to sign. For just a minute as he started to say "There was this one time..." I thought he might say - I was asked to sign a Saltus menu in Beaufort, SC by two crazy Saints fans (that'd be Mark and me). Nope - it was someone's prosthetic leg that had been painted black with a gold Fleur de Lis. Gotta love Saints spirit!
  2. Glee!! - The finale of Glee was the best episode by far. How will I be able to wait until the spring for it's return. Lea Michelle's rendition of Don't Rain on Parade gave me goosebumps! Where did they find this girl?!?!?! Every once in a while I go through the debate of "if I could come back with one amazing talent what would it be?" On Sundays, I want to be a rough hitting line backer just so I could run out of an NFL tunnel, but after watching Glee last night, all I wanted to do was stand on a Broadway stage and sing my little heart out!
  3. Oh Tiger - I have been reading on Facebook how sick everyone is of hearing about Tiger Woods, so I'll keep it short. But seriously, what was he thinking?? He had it all... I don't care to know the details of who he did what with and where and when and for how long. All I want to know is WHY??? Why would he do this? And why does this seem to be a recurring theme among men in power? Answers we won't get, I'm sure, but ones I would love to know.
  4. After the Saints blewout the Giants, I convinced Mark that we should buy refundable airfare to Miami for the weekend of the Superbowl. At that point, I hadn't really thought through the total cost of going to the game. Last week a friend of mine bought two tickets to the big game for $2,500 a piece. Ouch. Since then, I have been getting to work early and entering every Superbowl ticket contest available on the internet. After all, someone has to win, right? Why can't it be me?
  5. One of my favorite things about the holiday season is office Christmas party episodes of my favorite tv shows! Tonight should be a real treat - Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, and 30 Rock. I can't wait - the previews had me laughing. Good sign!
  6. The New Orleans mayor's race kicks off this week. There are eight candidates, and there are some pretty good choices too. God only knows who will win, but the one thing that's certain is that it won't be old C. Ray. There's hope in that!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - Stocking Stuffers

I think Christmas shopping can be hard sometimes. In our house, there is usually one larger item we each want making that part of the shopping very easy. And while I enjoy knowing that with one swift swipe of my card I can purchase a gift for Mark that I know he will love (since he picked it out), I am always left feeling kind of sad that the purchase didn't have any magic to it. There's no surprise, no wondering what's around the corner. So I now turn to his stocking stuffers to create a little excitement on Christmas morning. And I can tell you , I never have more fun than searching aisle after aisle looking for a few perfect little gadgets and trinkets that I think he will appreciate.

I still have to get my list together for stocking stuffers for Mark, but I have been seeing a lot of great little things out there that might just help you scratch something off your list.

For the chef on your list these herb snips would be a much appreciated kitchen gadget. I love how the shears have mutliple blades making snipping herbs so much more effiecient!

For the cookbook hoarder on your list, these page tags are seriously the perfect gift. They are a cute and colorful way to tag the recipes you like by category (beef, veggies, etc.) For NOLA shoppers you can buy them locally at Scriptura.

I think these would make a great hostess gift. Pottery Barn is selling these conversation cards. Each card has a question on it that would make dinner party conversation get pretty interesting. They also make it in a "girls' night" version too.

These next few items are for the ladies on your list, whether they're sisters or friends, mothers, or me (ahem Mark), I think these little treats will be loved by all.

This pretty Banana Republic chain and cord bracelet with the drop charm is so feminine and lovely. I can easily see it paired with a black dress and silver flats, but I can also see it working with navy shorts and a blue and white striped t-shirt. It's the perfect way to add a little snap to any outfit. For any woman on the go, a small roller bottle of perfume is the perfect stocking stuffer. I love that you can put one on your purse and reapply after work if you're headed to a meeting. I also love that they are under 3.0 oz. and can be carried on to your next flight. I picked Burberry Brit Sheer, but Sephora carries an array of scents, and they are all wonderful.

I love this Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. I used a sample of it, and I felt like my lips had gone on a spa-day. For anybody who gets winter weather chapped lips, this product is perfect! It provides so much moisture and it also has SPF 15 in it. Always import to think about! Trust me, this gift will be a favorite for anyone who receives it!!

Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet? HAve you come across any can't miss stocking stuffers?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays - Greek Lemon Rice Soup

It is a grey day here in Beaufort, and when I'm feeling yucky on a grey day, there is only one thing that I really really want to eat - lemon-rice soup. It is my dad's specialty! It's funny the memories foods can trigger. I can tell you this soup brings back warm memories for sure. I remember that some nights we would have lemon rice soup with BLTs, and I would spend the whole time I was supposed to be helping with dinner sneaking little pieces of bacon. My favorite was when we had it paired with tuna salad stuffed tomatoes. Mmmmm... There was something about the warmth of the soup and the coolness of the tuna salad and the tomato that paired perfectly. And I can so clearly remember when my sister was very little, she would have hers served with ice cubes in it to cool it down. It is just one of those dishes that warms you up and makes you feel better all at the same time. Can you ask for anything better on a chilly day when you have the sniffles - I don't think so!


3 c. chicken broth

2 to 3 oz. uncooked regular rice

2 eggs

3 tbsp. lemon juice

Dash of salt

Dash of pepper

Sprinkle of dried parsley

In 2-quart saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat, add rice, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. In small bowl, beat eggs and lemon juice. Stirring constantly, add 1 cup of hot soup, a little at a time. Stir mixture into soup in pan and heat. Do not boil! Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

NOTE: 2 oz. rice makes thinner soup; 3 oz. rice makes thick soup. Weight instead of measurement gives the option of using medium grain rice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today I'm Feeling

Like one sick puppy...
When I'm feeling yucky, there are some things that make me feel a little better...

My dad's Lemon Rice Soup. I think that will be my Tasty Tuesday tomorrow. It is delicious and warm and perfectly comforting.

Tazo tea - particularly the passion flavor. It is a wonderful, fruity, hibiscus scented tea and makes a sore throat feel so much better.

Kleenex with aloe - There's nothing worse than for a runny nose than kleenex that feels like sand paper. I like the soft fluffy kind with aloe.

And best of all is cuddling up in bed under a big down comforter and watching a good movie. My choice tonight is elf. I think it should be the perfect cure for my little cold.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NYC Recap in Pictures

Happy Sunday!! Have to start by saying who dat!! 12-0!!! It is such an unbelievable feeling!!
Now to the pictures...
Mark and me in front of the tree at Rockefellor Center.

Mmmmm... Hot chocolate at Mariebelle!

Mark and me at the parade - it really was an amazing experience!

Our view of the Snoopy balloon from 68th and Central Park West.

Allen family Thanksgiving dinner at Atlantic Grill.

Happy Birthday to me from Mark. I was so surprised and excited to get the ring that matches my David Yurman earrings and necklace!

About to go see Bye Bye Birdie!! Can you tell I'm excited?!?!

Mark and me on our Central Park carriage ride - a family tradition.

Me enjoying a chocolate and walnut tart at one of the stops (Once Upon a Tart) on our Central Village/Soho food tour. Mmmm...

Fun times with my NYC friends!!

Mark and me by the Trump ice rink in Central Park.


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