Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Orleans Trip - Day Three

On our third day in New Orleans (see the first two days here and here), we woke up on Sunday and got ready for church. We went to Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral, which is just beautiful! 

The Cathedral is right on Jackson Square, so we walked around for a while after church to see everything on the square.

There were so many artists selling their work! 

We had brunch reservations for Muriel's on Jackson Square. "Sunday jazz brunch" is a thing in New Orleans, so we were excited to eat yummy food while being serenaded by jazz musicians! 

The food was delicious. As always, Jeff was adventurous (he ordered the "alligator hash") and I was more boring (an omelette with chicken andouille sausage), but we both really enjoyed our brunch! The music was delightful as well!

The Muriel's Jazz Musicians

After brunch, we drove over toward the Tulane and Loyola campuses, which are in a beautiful part of town. It was fun to see the campuses, and there were so many gorgeous, mansion-sized, French-style houses around there! After that, our trip came to an end and we made the drive back to Houston.

Thanks for a wonderful three days, New Orleans!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

How is it Monday already? I mean really. Why do weekend days go by a gazillion times faster than weekdays? Our weekend was wonderful though! On Friday, my sweet husband took me out on a date to see Beauty and the Beast 3D and eat dinner at Amazon Grill (my favorite!). I had such a lovely time. Beauty and the Beast is amazing in 3D. The castle's library was just soooo big, and the wilting rose petals were so lifelike, and the little footstool puppy is so much cuter in 3D! Haha. It was like I was a little girl all over again. I might have cried a bit at the part where the Beast turns back into a prince and Belle says "It is you!" Sigh. Such a great movie. We've been walking around the house singing Beauty and the Beast songs since Friday.

On Saturday we finally used our tickets for a tour of Minute Maid Park (our baseball stadium), which was such fun! And then we painted the laundry room! Busy busy busy. Anyway... let's try to not focus on the weekdays and think about next weekend instead, okay?

Anyone having a Super Bowl party this weekend? This is a great recipe to munch on during the game! I made these for our New Year's party and they disappeared very quickly from their tray! I couldn't even snap a photo of them before they were devoured!

Recipe adapted from here.

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 oz mini turkey pepperoni
pizza sauce for dipping

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, and baking powder. Then, whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni. Let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Stir the batter lightly and divide evenly among the 24 mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes.
4. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.


(mini muffin pan, all ready to make pizza puffs!)



Friday, January 27, 2012

New Orleans Trip - Day Two

After a busy first day in New Orleans, we turned off the cell phone alarms and slept in late. SUCH a luxury! I can't even remember the last time I didn't have an alarm go off in the morning!

By the time we got up and got ready to go, it was time for lunch! We decided to buy day passes for the cable cars on Saturday, so we rode a cable car over to the French Market!

The cable cars run back and forth on their tracks without turning around, so there are two driver's seats, one at the front and one at the back. The passenger seats have nifty backs that slide back and forth to face either way! 

Now we're going forward...

...and now we're going backwards!!

For lunch, we went to Central Grocery, a place that claims to have the "original muffuletta!" 

It's a cute little store with a deli counter in the back that's been around for over 100 years. 

We ordered a full muffuletta and split it, and it was really yummy!

You can't go to New Orleans without getting some beignets, so we walked over to Cafe du Monde for dessert! 

We got an order of beignets and a cafe au lait... look how delicious they look!

We shook off most of the powdered sugar (there was so much!!), and they were so good! Next, we walked over to catch the cable car to take us to the National World War II Museum!

Goodbye, Cafe du Monde!

Pretty cathedral in New Orleans

The World War II Museum was really great. We could've spent all day in there. This is President Roosevelt's speech about Pearl Harbor:

It was originally written to say "a date which will live in world history," but he scratched it out and changed "world history" to "infamy." So interesting!

Here's a model of some Army barracks:

I wish I would've taken more photos... there were tanks and cannons and planes, along with lots of old uniforms and weapons and stuff. They had a particularly great exhibit on D-Day... I learned so much! We also saw a 45-minute film produced by Tom Hanks about WWII. The theater had those seats that vibrate, and there was smoke and mist and stuff, so it was pretty cool. It was like being at Disney World, but informative and educational! 

We stayed at the museum until they closed, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for a fancy night out. Our first stop was the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone. Hotel Monteleone also has a travel deal through Jeff's company, but we ended up picking the Ritz Carlton instead. I had looked at the Monteleone's website though and saw this awesome bar that they have, so we decided to stop by for pre-dinner drinks. It's designed like a carousel, with seats that slowly revolve around the bar - so fun! 

It was a lovely place to sit and chill. Apparently authors like Hemmingway and Faulkner used to come here to hang out! So cool.

We had 8:30 dinner reservations at Mr. B's bistro, which was right across the street. 

They had delicious bread, and we split a bottle of wine. Jeff ordered their "specialty," the barbecue shrimp. People all over the restaurant were wearing "bibs" and eating those shrimp! I had honey ginger pork tenderloin, and we both really enjoyed our food!

Barbecue Shrimp!

We split the bread pudding for dessert... delicious!

Can you tell there's a lot of good food in New Orleans? I'd say about 90% of the "tourist attractions" are food/drink related. It was all so good! We left Mr. B's around 10:00 and had a lovely cable car ride back to the hotel. Up next, our last day in NoLa! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

House Tour Video

Jeff bought me a Flip video camera for Christmas, and one of the first things I did with it was take a video tour of the house! I figured it would be fun for all of our family and friends who haven't been able to see it in person yet to see a video (and for all of you blog friends to see it too!).

I actually took the video right after Christmas, so the house is still decorated for the holidays in the videos. It took me forever to figure out how to upload large videos into Blogger (hence the long delay between taking the video and actually posting it), and in the end I had to split the video in half to get it to work (hence the "Part One" and "Part Two").

I go on random tangents about Christmas cards and pillows and things, so bear with me. :o)

Part One:
entryway, piano room, dining room, half bathroom, laundry room, living room, kitchen

Part Two:
master bedroom and bath, game room, craft room, guest bedrooms and bathroom

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Orleans Trip - Day One

Suprise! We went to New Orleans last weekend! Haha. I try not to advertise on the blog when we're going to be out of town (I guess I'm afraid one of you will somehow figure out where my house is and come steal our televisions while we're gone), but I always feel so weird keeping secrets from y'all!

Anyway, I just completed a very large writing assignment for Law Review (the rough draft of an 80-page academic journal article), so we celebrated with a little weekend trip to New Orleans! Jeff took a day off on Friday, and we left bright and early for Louisiana! The drive from Houston to New Orleans is about six hours... I slept for about 5 and a half of them. It's an amazing thing to marry a guy who doesn't mind driving long distances!

We made it into the city around 12:30, and our first stop was a highly-recommended local restaurant called Dooky Chase's. From the outside, it honestly looks a little sketchy, but the inside was pretty with tall ceilings and lovely table settings... such a surprise!

It's owned by Dooky and Leah Chase, and Leah Chase was the inspiration behind the princess character in Disney's The Princess and the Frog. They had this drawing from the folks at Disney displayed in the entryway:

"Thank you so very much, Mrs. Chase, for all your inspiration. You are the real princess of New Orleans!"

Anyway, they have a regular menu, but everyone had suggested that we just go with the buffet, so we did! They bring you a bowl of okra gumbo to start off, and then you're on your own with the buffet line. Okra gumbo = DELICIOUS.

We filled our plates with cauliflower casserole, fried chicken, rice and some sort of lima bean stuff, some sort of crawfish-corn dish that had a French name I can't pronounce, and yummy sausage! It was all great, Southern cooking, and it was so, so good.

Even though we were so, so full of yummy food, we made a little bit of room for the peach cobbler (also completely delicious!). We left Dooky Chase's feeling very full, and liking New Orleans already. :o)

The next stop was to drop off our stuff at the hotel. We took advantage of a great travel deal through Jeff's company and managed to stay at the Ritz Carlton on Canal Street - so fancy!

I don't think I've ever stayed in such a fancy hotel. The room was just lovely, with a beautiful shining marble bathroom complete with soft bathrobes.

The view from our window, looking down at Canal Street

I took a bajillion pictures of the way they did the crown molding in the bedroom... I'm thinking about duplicating it in our bedroom at home!

But seriously... so fancy! The thermostat in our room actually went down by half degrees. Because when 72 is just a teensy bit too hot, they apparently want you to be able to be comfy at 71 and a half. The lobby and common areas were full of antique furniture and beautiful rugs and huge flower arrangements.

Anyway, we did eventually stop marveling at the fanciness of the hotel and head back out into the city. We walked a few blocks to an old convent of Ursuline nuns, which is now a sort of historical museum that people can go walk through. On the way, we saw lots of pretty New Orleans buildings, many of which were already decorated for Mardi Gras!

The old Ursuline convent is a registered historic landmark and the oldest building in the French Quarter. It was used as a convent and hospital, then as the Bishop's home, then later as a school. Now it's open for tourists to walk through. The entrance is just lovely!

Inside the building, we saw the nuns' Chapel, which was beautiful.

We walked through the gardens, the former school infirmary, the cafeteria, and some old classrooms. So much history in one building!

Cool lights and old ceiling beams!

Fancy hand-made iron hinges

Really, really old chairs.

After the convent, we walked a few blocks to the French Market, where all sorts of fun things were found! There were paintings and jewelry and food and purses... not to mention the alligator heads!

We tried to have some fun with the Mardi Gras masks, but we were quickly instructed that no photography is allowed unless you purchase them. I did manage to snap this one of Jeff though before we were reprimanded:

Oh, and ladies - take a look at this genius product:

"Treat him like a King - Train him like a puppy"

We strolled down a few streets near the French Market and found a statue of Joan of Arc.

The streets in New Orleans are all quite picturesque... I wanted to pull out my camera and capture them all!

We stopped in a few shops along the way and ended up purchasing two little souvenirs. The first: a Christmas ornament depicting a crawfish playing the trumpet. Most of what we did in New Orleans was somehow related to food or jazz music, so it seemed fitting!

(it says New Orleans on the base)

We also found this little clarinet-playing wire figurine and took him home with us. Jeff has a French horn-playing version (Jeff plays the French horn) that lives in our piano room, and I've always been a little jealous that we didn't have one for me (I play the clarinet). When we found an exact match to Jeff's little wire guy, we knew we had to have it!

After our leisurely stroll through the French Market and surrounding shops, we headed over to the river to walk back to the hotel that way. The river isn't anything particularly pretty, but it was still nice to have a nice long walk along the water!

We quickly changed into warmer clothes (and comfier shoes after all that walking!) and hurried off toward Bourbon Street for the evening! We walked along Bourbon Street (so weird that you can just carry drinks in and out of bars there... people were just walking around with daiquiris and hand grenades and beers!), and arrived at Yo Mama's Bar & Grill, which apparently has "the best burgers in New Orleans!"

I had a regular old cheeseburger (which was very good), but Jeff was brave and ordered their "peanut butter burger!" He said it was delicious. I was too scared to try it.

Peanut butter burger (Pardon the weird camera lighting... it was the best I could do with the weird combo of red lights and black UV lights in that place!)

Regular cheese burger

After dinner, we went across the street to stand in line for Preservation Hall, which supposedly has the best jazz music in New Orleans! The jazz band starts at 8:15, but the place isn't very big, so we got in line around 7:00 to make sure we got in. Luckily, Pat O' Briens was right next door, so I held our spot in line while Jeff ran over to grab a couple hurricanes. We spent the next hour enjoying our yummy drinks and playing Hanging with Friends on my phone, and the wait went by very quickly!

When we finally got into Preservation Hall, I was surprised at just how small it really was! The whole place had such an authentic feel, and there were just two benches in the middle of the room (which were totally full by the time we got in). Most of us were just standing in the empty back half of the room. The place has no bar, no bathrooms, no restored floors or walls... it's just a room, and a band. It felt so artsy.

The band played for 45-minute sets with 15-minute breaks in between, and we ended up staying through two of them. I was pretty tired of standing by the end, but it was a really lovely way to spend an evening! We headed back to the hotel after that and fell asleep in our fancy Ritz Carlton bed. Up next... Saturday in New Orleans!