Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Journey Home: Staycation Day Two

Well, hello again!  Today was day two of my week of leisure before starting my new job.  Here's a little look into day two of our New Orleans staycation...

Running Around 
After sleeping in a bit, Mark and I went for a jog in my parent's neighborhood.  This may seem like nothing to the real runners out there, but I ran for nearly 15 minutes without stopping!!!  This is huge for me.  I had gotten to 20 minutes about six months ago, but after some hip pain, I had a setback.  This is my best run yet since starting up again!!!  And to top it all off, we ended our run with a beautiful and peaceful walk along Lake Pontchartrain.  There were sailboats in the water, casual crabbers and fisherman lined up along the waters edge, and the calming sound of the waves coming ashore.  What a great way to start the day!!

Cool Breezes Mean...
Pumpkin spice lattes!!!!!!!!  I know most of you have already celebrated the start of fall with one of these tasty treats, but today was the first day that it has been cool enough to really enjoy one.  Man, oh man...  I could drink one every day!  It was a bit of sugar and a bit of spice and a whole lot of everything nice!

Country Clubbers
After dropping by for a visit with LSU Melanie, Mark and I visited English Turn Country Club.  We were given a lovely tour of the clubhouse and the other facilities and were even treated to a very tasty lunch.  After weighing the costs and benefits, Mark and I decided to join!!!  You have never seen a bigger smile than the one Mark wore as we signed the membership form!  He is just soooooo excited.  He is of course looking forward to endless golf outings, and I'm looking forward to meeting new people and attending club events like the Sunday brunches and holiday suppers!

Broiled Redfish with Corn Maque Choux
Seeing that it is Tasty Tuesday, I couldn't leave you without sharing a recipe.  I posted this one a few month's back on Trish's blog, Pink Preppy Lilly Lover, but I used the corn maque choux as a topping for some broiled redfish tonight, and it was so yummy, I figured it wouldn't hurt to share it again!  This recipe here is prepared as a topping for sauteed shrimp, but it worked perfectly with the redfish!

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 jalapeƱo, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
5 small okra, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
4 ears corn, shucked, kernels sliced off (or one 10-oz. package frozen corn)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (MY ADDITION) - I used fat free 1/2 and 1/2

16 medium shrimp (about 8 oz.), peeled, tails on
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups steamed white rice, for serving

1. In a 12" skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in hot bacon fat. Add garlic, shallots, peppers, and jalapeƱos and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high; add okra and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in scallions and remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 cup cream and stir until incorporated.  Set aside and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, heat oven to broil and place a rack 8" from broiler element. Toss shrimp with oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer shrimp in a single layer to an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet and broil, turning once using tongs, until pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Serve the maque choux and shrimp on top of a bed of rice; garnish with reserved bacon.


I hope you had a wonderful Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Journey Home: Staycation Day One

Today is the first day of my week off before I start work next Monday.  I thought it'd be fun to share with you how we spend these next few days enjoying New Orleans...

Errands, Errands, Errands
Our day started by running around scratching items off of our to-do list.  We got so much accomplished is just a few short hours.  We brought clothes to the dry cleaners, picked up Mark's car from the shop, got Mark a toll tag, visited his new office to sign some documents, and had a very lovely lunch.

Pho Tau Bay
While on the Westbank, Mark and I decided to stop in at one of the very best Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans.  I had never been and was so excited to try something new.  

We started with the Goi Cuing Bo Xao - lemongrass beef spring rolls in rice paper with vermicelli, pickled carrots, herbs, lettuce, with a homemade nuoc mam sauce.  These were delicious!!!  The dipping sauce was the perfect combination of sweet and sour!!

I wish I had written down the name of my entree, but I forgot to.  It was slices of ground pork that had been seasoned and sauteed (they referred to them as meatballs, but they were not round) over steamed vermicelli patties.  They were topped with fried shallots, green onions, and chopped peanuts and served with lettuce, carrots, and basil.  It was such a different dish and one I truly enjoyed!!!  
The menu at Pho Tau Bay was so extensive that I cannot wait to go back!!

Audubon Park
While we are staying at my parent's house, Beignet is spending some time at Camp Bow Wow.  So we are picking her up each day to take her on special adventures.  Today we decided to take her for a walk in Audubon Park.  She LOVED it!!!  Here she is with Mark on a park bench happy as a clam. 

Audubon Park is one of my very favorite things about New Orleans.  As we walked around the park, I was reminded of those perfect college days when my roommates and I used to go walking there.  If you went after morning classes you beat the morning rush of runners who had to cram in a jog before work.  And if you went before school got out, you missed the mommies strolling with their little ones.  A walk around 2:00 allowed you to have the park almost completely to yourself.  You could experience every nuance of it's beauty.  The Egrets, the moss covered trees, the bubbling fountains, the flowers in bloom.  Beauty is everywhere there.  Today around two, Mark and I got to see it in it's best light.  And Beignet got to see it too.  What a perfect afternoon!

Red Beans and Rice on Mondays 

On Mondays in New Orleans, there is one thing you can always be certain of - there will be red beans and rice.  It is served in every school cafeteria, hospital, restaurant, and family residence.  Traditionally, Monday was wash day, and since it took all day to do the wash, red beans would spend their day simmering away on the back burner seasoned with the ham bone from Sunday's supper.  

Tonight for the first time in years, Mark and I had red beans and rice on a Monday.  My dad spent all day yesterday making them just for us.  They were perfect!

Our Journey Home: Mark Receives the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

On the morning we left Beaufort, Mark was honored as the recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal at US Naval Hospital Beaufort.

What a beautiful morning it was...

C and M and B came to show their support for Mark

The P's did too

Mark, in his whites, lined up with the other officers attending morning colors.

Preparing for the presentation of the medal in front of such a beautiful view.

Mark comes forward to accept his medal

I was so proud of him and everything he accomplished within Navy medicine

The official award documentation 

The medal!!!  

After the end of the medal presentation and other command announcements, the color guard began their march toward to the flag pole where they would raise our Nation's flag.

At attention while the flag is being raised...

I salute all those who have chosen to serve our country.  Your sacrifices are never forgotten.

After morning colors, we had the chance to say a few last goodbyes...

Lee, Mark's department head, and Mark

Mark and me and the OB/GYN clinic staff

Mark and our dear friend Robert

Our best buddies who I already miss so much

Mark and me in one final photo with Mark in his uniform

I cannot begin to explain how much I have appreciated Mark's four years of active duty service.  While Mark and I are so incredibly grateful that his four years were free of deployment, I recognize us to be in the vast minority.   Each and every day, I was reminded that freedom comes at a price.  It is a sacrifice made by brave Americans who know this price and, in spite of it, volunteer to protect our most basic of rights.  Every time I stepped foot on Parris Island, I was overcome with a sense of pride and allegiance to the young men and women who chose to serve in the US Marine Corps.  They enter the gates of PI boys and girls, and they leave men and women confident that protecting our freedoms is their duty. How can I leave Beaufort anything but eternally grateful for having been a part of that?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our Journey Home: Bye Bye Beaufort

Sorry for the absence of posts these last few days, but we rarely had a minute to spare.  There was so much to get done before we embarked on our journey home.  Speaking of home...  WE'RE HERE!!!  We arrived at my parent's house, where we're staying for about ten days, yesterday around 4:00 pm to the warmest of welcomes - balloons and a sign and a banner!  There truly is no place like home...

Unless that place is Beaufort, SC.  As I'm sitting here this morning, I would be lying if I said my heart is not heavy to have left Beaufort.  Of all the places the Navy could have sent us, Beaufort was the perfect place for Mark and me.  There is so much we loved about Beaufort, and so much we will miss...

*long walks through Habersham  *Junior Service League barbecues  *grocery shopping at the commissary every Sunday  *weeknight dinner at the Pearsons  *marsh views  *Saturdays on King Street in Charleston  *Friday farmers markets  *supper club *dinner at Patois  *Lowcountry Produce  *endless water views  *drives to Hunting Island  *Fourth of July festivities   *night time boat cruises with friends   *Parris Island (where they make Marines)  *pimento cheese and boiled peanuts  *weekends at the Mayport Navy lodge   *tomato pie and sweet tea

Above all, we will miss our friends.  Four years was not nearly enough time with any of you.  I would not trade in even one day we spent knowing you.  You shared your lives with us, your holidays, your birthdays, your support and love, your laughter.  You are what made Beaufort so special.  Here's to many more years with all of you...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Journey Home: Hotel Life's For Me

Mark and I have been living at the Hampton Inn since Sunday, and I must say I am very much enjoying our little abode.  The perks:
  1. We can keep it as cold as we want to without worrying about running up the electric bill
  2. The blackout curtains in our room make it impossible to tell when the sun comes up allowing us to sleep peacefully all morning
  3. Fresh towels and sheets daily without having to any laundry at all
  4. Warm coffee and a nice breakfast is ready and waiting every morning
  5. We get to pretend we're as cool as these famous folks who also call a hotel a home
My favorite NYC girl, Eloise, lives at the Plaza Hotel

Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass lives at the NYC Palace Hotel

Paris Hilton had a part-time residence at NYC's Waldorf Astoria

Coco Chanel lived at The Hotel Rits in Paris for over 30 years

What are your favorite hotel lifestyle perks?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Journey Home: We're Packed

My posts may come less frequently these next few days.  We are deep in the middle of moving.  This weekend, our dearest friends hosted a going away party for us and two other couples.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.  Sneak preview - it was soooo much fun that we had a hard time working up the energy to get the house ready for the packers to come!

We spent all day yesterday making donation piles, cleaning the pantry and fridge, and getting the bags we're taking with us sorted and packed.  We finished around dinnertime at which point we headed to our new home, The Hampton Inn.  I feel like we're on a family vacation all tucked away in our little room.

Today, the packers came and packed up all of our belongings.  Here's a picture Mark took from the loft of the truckload of boxes that will be making their way to New Orleans tomorrow...  Who knew two people could accumulate all of that in just four years!

I think that one of the reasons for the lack of posts these last few days is that I have been avoiding the inevitable truth that we are leaving the Lowcountry.  I honestly haven't allowed myself to really take in that moving day is just four days away. 

While I am excited to return home, I cannot begin to explain how sad I am to be leaving.  I do, however, take great comfort in that sadness.  It means that we have spent four years planting roots in a place that is truly special.  The only thing that would be sadder is to not feel sad at all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lots of Little Things All About Me...

I was recently tagged by three lovely ladies!  Here are the questions they each asked...

Mrs. MFC asked...
1. What's your signature color?
It's not very original, but black is my signature, I suppose.  In fact Mark has issued a moratorium on black Banana Republic sweaters.  I can't get enough of them!  There's nothing quite like a LBD!

2. What's your most embarrassing moment?
I was the new member advisor for DG, and we were preparing for Initiation.  I was in a black pleated skirt cocktail dress, and filed nicely in a row, were the new members dressed in beautiful white dresses.  We were having Initiation at a home on St. Charles Ave very near the dorms, so it was a bustling area.  I went to reach for a girl's purse when, woops, I fell down the entire set of stairs.  I landed with my head on the ground and my legs on the stairs and my skirt around my waist!  Mortifying!!!

3. Would you ever get anything besides your ears pierced?
I wouldn't.  I don't think I could pull it off.

4. Are you a social butterfly or a homebody?
A social butterfly and a chatterbox, imagine that!

5. Do you remain loyal to your hairstylist or do you try every new one in town?
I am loyal!  Amy Smith at Orchid Salon, what will I do without you.  If only I could convince her to move to New Orleans with me next Friday!

6. Are you done having babies, or do you want more?
We haven't started, but we're looking forward to hearing the pitter patter of baby feet...

7. If you could plan a vacation with just you and your love, where would it be?
I would love to take the Napa Valley train through the wine country!

8. How many times have you moved in your life?
I'm interpreting this as out of town moves.  I lived in New Orleans my whole life, minus a three week relocation to Houma after Katrina, until we moved to Beaufort, SC four years ago.  We move home one week from today, and I am filled with more emotions than I knew existed.  

1. What is the one place in the world you have never been but have always wanted to go?
Mark and I went to Paris this spring and we loved it.  That trip has made me want to explore the world.  I'd love to do Italy or Spain, but Mark is dying to get to Ireland, so that's where we're headed next!

2. What movie do you watch over and over that always makes you laugh/cry?
Troop Beverly Hills always makes me laugh and Dead Poets Society always makes me cry.

3. Where did you meet your best friend?
This is a tough one because I have had many best friends. I will use the cliche and say that my hubby is my best friend.  You can read all about how we met here, here, and here.  It was at Fat Harry's!

4. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?
While these are both fine alternatives, there's nothing like a cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde.  NOTHING!

5. Have you ever had a celebrity run in? If so...share!
I've had a few when I nannied in Aspen; however, my most recent was the star studded visit I had to the White house when the Saints met the President.  I still cannot believe I got to be there!!!

6. What is your favorite part of everyday?
I love waking up in the morning to Beignet excitedly jumping in the bed and Mark standing at the door smiling.

7. Are you a cook, baker, or none of the above..
I would like to consider myself a little of each!  I LOVE to bake, but I am not as patient or precise as I need to be.  And I LOVE to cook.  I find it so relaxing to read a new cookbook and then plan a week's menus.  I love grocery shopping, chopping, and sauteing.  Mmmm!!!

8. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
Fall for certain.  Crisp air, pumpkin patches, football!!!  It is my favorite time of year!

1. If you could have any superpower what would you have? Why?
Hmmm...  It would be to fly.  Think of all of the fascinating places you could get to without ever havign to go through a security line!  And no delays to put you  in a grumpy mood!

2. Who is your style icon?
Audrey Hepburn.  She was ladylike and classy with just the right touch of spunkiness.

3. What is your favorite quote?
I don't know if it's my favorite, but it's one I think is right on the money.  By Chris Rose, "Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once."

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
On the night we got engaged, Mark asked me to share his life with him.  Is there any better compliment than that?

5. What playlist/cd is your CD player/iPod right now?
I actually use my Ipod more for watching tv.  Currently I am starting to watch The Wire again from the beginning.  It is amazing how truly groudbreaking this show is!

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
A night owl.  I love to stay up late and watch old movies or things I have set on the Tivo.  I've been that way since I was little.  My mom and I used to watch black and white movies together after my dad and sister went to bed.  I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's and Barefoot in the Park the best...

7. Do you prefer cats or dogs?
I prefer dogs.  And more specifically, I prefer our dogs Annie and Beignet!

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
I consider New Orleans more than where I am from.  New Orleans is who I am.  It's a spirit of resiliency, a joy of life, and an understanding that the important things in life come from the simple things found nowhere else but in the Big Easy. 

Play along!  Pick your favorite question and tell me your answer.  I'd love to know a little thing about you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pink and Green Thursday: Make a Wish

Do you remember when you were little and you were seated in front of your birthday cake at your party?  Your friends clad in party dresses and paper hats sat in a circle and sang Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs.  It was your big moment.  You'd close your eyes but you could still see the warm glow of the candle.  Everyone waited anxiously as you drew in the deepest breath you could imagine.  Your cheeks expanded with air and your head filled with thoughts of all of the things you could wish for.  And in an instant, you opened your eyes and puff! You blew out your candle and sent your wishes into Dreamland. 

I have been doing a lot of wishing this week.  And like the best of birthday wishes, I'm going to keep them a secret until they come true.  Wouldn't it be great if all it really took to make your wishes come true would be to blow out a candle?!?!  Or scatter the petals of a dandelion? 

A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep....  I hope all of your wishes and dreams come true!!


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