Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Surprise Ever (Ok It's All Relative)

Mark is on call tonight, and he had an office meeting after work.  So, I didn't expect him to call me at work to tell me he was going to pick up Jane from school.  He said he only had a minute to spare, but he wanted to see her tonight before the meeting. It was a relief, actually, because I had a project to wrap up, and it gave me an extra minute or two to complete it.  

On my way home, Mark called, and told me he had a surprise for me when I got home.  Cue the spinning wheels...  I tried to imagine what this surprise could be.  I mean, maybe he wasn't just stopping home to see Jane.  Maybe he had something elaborate cooked up...  Could it be that the outdoor furniture we ordered finally arrived?  Or, could it be that he had met with our interior decorators and had new light fixtures installed in the kitchen?  Or maybe, mother's day had come early, and he had ordered me THIS nude bag?

As I pulled up to the house, I had butterflies in my tummy.  A surprise just for me on a random Tuesday night...  how exciting.

And as I got out of the car and walked up to the porch, I saw Mark holding Jane.  She had the cutest little grin on as she squeaked out a "Hi-ee, hi-ee!!"

And there it was.  My surprise.  

Jane came home from school with pigtails in her hair.  

And it was the best surprise I've ever received.  It's funny how life changes.  (Read my letter of apology to all of the moms I judged.)  All of my visions of material things evaporated as I held my sweet girl in my arms.  There really is no gift that could compare to her.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jane Goes to Jazz Fest

What an amazing first Jazz Fest weekend!  While the weather was a bit uncooperative yesterday, Friday and Saturday could not have been more perfect.
Mark, Jane, and I headed to the fest Friday around noon.  We arrived at the Acura Stage and parked ourselves by our group of friends.  We were along the track between entrances five and six.  I highly recommend this location.  We were able to see the stage clearly, but we were not so close to a speaker as to give Jane permanent hearing loss.  It was also nice because there were exit bridges to the left and right of us both of which gave you access to the beer tent and the bathrooms. 
As I settled in with Jane, Mark went off to get us lunch.  He came back with a paneed chicken po-boy, cracklins, and boudin balls.  Yum!  You MUST try the boudin balls.  They were amazing!  After eating some yogurt and goldfish, we quickly realized Jane was sleepy.  She took a nice two hour nap in her stroller and woke up just in time to see Dr. John.  He put on a great show with his new band.  I loved that his trombonist and band leader was a woman.  I pointed her out to Jane several times so she could see that all you need is talent to succeed!
Her favorite show of the day was John Mayer.  Ok, so I will admit that I underestimated his talent simply because I think he's kind of a d-bag in his personal life.  If you can get past his trysts with Hollywood starlets long enough to listen to him play, you too will be impressed.  Judging by the intensity of Jane's tambourining during his set, I'd say Jane was able to look past it.
Here's some family photos of our day out at the fest...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jazz Fest Foods I Won't Pass Up

It is almost here!  Tomorrow at 11:00 am the Jazz Fest gates will open up a world of music, food, art, and culture to first timers and festival regulars.  At one time in our courtship, Mark and I would tote nothing more than the Gambit fest guide through those gates.

 Now, we will bring a stroller packed to the brim with all of the "day at the fest with Jane" necessities.  Maybe she's too young to go.  I'm sure that is what most people think.  But, I swear to you, the light in her eyes is never more firey than when she hears local music play.  It's something about the beat and the rhythym that just captures you.  You feel it in your soul.  And it feels good.

We plan to meet up with several friends tomorrow who are also bringing their children.  I imagine there will be a lot of very funny and unusual dance moves observed in our group.  Although, at the fest, strange dancing is kind of part of the fun!

Aside from the music scene and the rows of craft vendors to peruse, I cannot wait to sample all of the amazing food the fest has to offer.  Every year, I have to eat some of my Jazz Fest favorite dishes, but I also have to try something new.  Here's what's on my Jazz Fest plate:

The Oldie But Goodie:
  • Spicy Natchitoches Meat Pie by Mrs. Wheat’s Foods in Food Area II: Sometimes you have to grab a bite and hustle from one stage to the next.  These are the perfect bite on the go. 
  • Crawfish Monica ® by Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc. in Food Area II: I don't know a fester who leaves without sampling some of this delicious crawfish pasta.
  • Cochon de Lait Po-Boy by Love at First Bite in Food Area I topped with Cracklins by Fatty’s Cracklins in Food Area II: This is a feat.  You have to make it from food area I to food area II without eating your po-boy!  You will want to stop along the way and chow down because the cochon de lait (slow cooked and shredded pork with slaw) is just that good.  But, the only thing that can make it better is to top it with fried cracklins.  MMMMM!!!!!
  • Jama-Jama (Sautéed Spinach) and Fried Plaintains by Bennachin Restaurant in Congo Square
  • Rosemint Herbal Iced Tea by Sunshine Concessions: The days at Jazz Fest can be long and hot.  There is nothing more refreshing than a 32 oz herbal tea.
The New to Me Items:
  • Boudin Balls by Papa Ninety Catering in Food Area I: I love boudin balls and have no idea why I've never tried them at Jazz Fest.  It sounds like another perfect on the go bite.  Boudin balls are made by taking the traditional Cajun rice sausage, forming a ball, breading it and frying it.  Traditionally, they are not very spicy.  I think we'll try to give this to Jane as her lunch.  She loves rice!
  • Fried Crab Cake w/ Smoked Tomato & Jalapeño Tartar by Gallagher's Grill in Food Area I: I love crab cakes, I love smoked anything, and something spicy never hurts.  This dish sounds amazing!!
  • Merguez (Grilled Lamb Sausage) by Jamila's Cafe in Food Area II: I had some Marguez recently at Root and really loved it.  I'm excited to try someone else's approach to this sausage.
  • Ambrosia (Berry Black) Iced Tea by Sunshine Concessions: Sunshine Concessions had to pull their Mandarin Orange iced tea off the menu this year due to supply issues.  Lucky for us!  We get to try this caffeinated version that sounds like it truly is nectar of the gods.

Well, that's the round up of my Jazz Fest menu.  Here's to basking in the sunshine and dancing to the beat of your own drum!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who Are You, and What Have You Done with My Blog!!

Hello blogging friends. 

Are there any of you still left out there reading I'm a Nola Girl? 

I appreciate you if you are.  I know I haven't written in a while, and several times now I have said that I will be back to blogging regularly. 

Here's the thing...

When I started this four years ago, it was my creative outlet.  It was my connection to New Orleans.  It was a way to express myself.  To share my interests and my thoughts.

In the last two and a half years, a lot has changed.  For starters, we moved home.  So rather than needing that feeling of connecting to New Orleans from afar, we are right here experiencing it.  I sometimes feel like I think more about documenting my life than living it.  Do you ever feel that way?

I started a new job when we moved home that, while fulfilling, is incredibly demanding.  I come home sometimes and feel completely and utterly drained.  It requires me to give so much of my self to succeed - whether it is developing and nurturing client relationships, increasing my technical skills, coaching and mentoring staff, or being actively involved in the city.  I have only begun to find ways to balance everything in my life, and sometimes the "me time" I used to have is absent.  Hence, when can I sit down and put interesting, creative, or humorous thoughts together.

In November of 2011, we welcomed our Sweet Baby Jane into this great big world.  It is often hard to remember life without her in it.  Where in the past my brain was filled with thoughts of Paris or fine dining, fashion or decor, it is now filled with thoughts of child rearing and development.  I remember when I was connected to a blog, and then the writer would have a baby.  All of a sudden, the site would be filled with anecdotes about milestones and endless streams of pictures of the baby.  I would think, "what happened to the writer?"  "Is she no longer the same woman?"

And I think that is my biggest struggle with my blog at this point.  I have always made a point of being as true to myself in writing as I am in person.  And now, I am a MOM.  No, it is not the only thing I am.  I am so many things, but when it comes down to it, my world is no longer filled with glamorous images of Paris.  Instead, it is filled with children's songs sung in French.  And no longer do I find my apron splattered with coconut milk and saffron broth, but instead it is caked in a healthy dose of peanut butter and snot.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have tried so hard not to be the girl who only posts about her baby.  But in doing so, I often feel like I am faking it.  Like I am trying so hard to be this uber cool mother who can keep it all together and still have several hours to find amazing pics and clever ways to link them all together.

What ends up happening is that I don't write at all.  As you can see...

Well, no longer.  I miss my blog.  I miss connecting with you.  But, most of all, I miss sharing my thoughts with the great big world.

So I am going back to where I started.  I am going to write about what I am inspired by.  About what I am missing.  About what I am living. 

I hope that you will continue to visit and comment.  I hope that you will still find something here you can connect with.  Most of all, I hope that you can understand that where I am in life, you just might have to see a reel of pictures of my baby.  She's a pretty cute kid if you ask me!

Thanks for listening. 



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