Friday, May 31, 2013

New Orleans Trip- Oak Alley Plantation

The day after our bike tour, we headed out with my aunt, uncle, and grandfather to Oak Alley Plantation. This is about an hour away from NOLA but is definitely worth the drive. This is an amazing piece of property that has been restored to its antebellum glory when it was a sugar plantation. When you think of Southern plantations, this is the kind of place you think of. White columns. Old oak trees covering the property. Kind of like this.

 Yeah. It's pretty gorgeous. We toured the grounds, which included reconstructed slave cabins, the old blacksmith shop, and also took a guided tour of the mansion. It has a very interesting past and if you're ever in the area, I definitely recommend you check it out. The restaurant on property is also delicious and we all enjoyed our lunch. 

Fun fact- the plantations were all very close to one another and they all used the bell system to signal to the slaves when they should do what. These bells could be heard up to 4 miles away, but as the properties were so close to one another, each bell was given a unique tone so the slaves could distinguish their bell from the others.

And now for the pictures!
Some of the slave cabins
Inside one side of the cabin. A family of about 5 slaves would live in here.
A very old fire extinguisher
My delicious lunch of Louisiana Redfish
Matt's red beans & rice- also tasty!
Inside the blacksmith's shop

Walking towards the back of the home 
Looking from the front of the home out towards the road
HUGE 300 year-old oaks
Inside the living room during the tour
This 'fan' in the dining room was used to help keep the flies off the food

Looking out from the 2nd story balcony
The bell for this plantation 
We decided this is our new home
Have you ever been to a plantation? This was my first trip and I am definitely interested in seeing more of them!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Orleans Trip- Bike Tour

When Matt & I planned our trip to NOLA, we wanted to do something different. Not only was it our anniversary trip, but since I've been several times before & Matt has visited once before, we thought it would be cool to really do something to make the trip stand out. So, we decided to take a bike tour. Thanks to Trip Advisor, I found the Confederacy of Cruisers' website and we decided to take the Original Creole New Orleans tour (as opposed to the drinking or culinary tours). 

My uncle went with us and he actually knew the tour guide. Benefits to growing up in NOLA- you know everyone it seems! We ended up having our own little private tour with the 3 of us plus the tour guide, Keith, so that was awesome. For 3 hours, we rode around the older parts of the city, including the Bywater and 9th Ward districts. Keith and my uncle, Mike, filled us in with a lot of interesting historical details and stories, but I'll spare you the history lesson and just show you the pictures!

My cute little bike.
The spot where Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson was arrested
Old Trinity Church
An old neighborhood bar in Bywater 
The levee in the 9th ward that failed
Our tour guide, Keith, and my uncle

In 2010, I went to NOLA for Alternative Spring Break and actually
worked on that blue house in the middle! Cool to see it completed!
Taking a break in Congo Square
Chief Tootie Montana
After the bike tour- only a little sweaty :)
In the end, we had an excellent time & I would highly recommend this company to anyone. It is fun and different way to experience the city. NOLA is very flat so it was only 'difficult' due to the heat. When you were riding though, the breeze felt great! Plus, you can rest assured that you're working off some of the amazing food you will enjoy on your trip.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2 years

2 years ago today, I got to marry my best friend. 

It was an amazing day & the past 2 years have been quite the adventure! I'm so blessed to be married to such a patient, funny, and loving guy. {And that's as much sap as you'll get out of me today} 

We just got back from a great trip to New Orleans so though I have a lot to catch up on, thought I would leave you with some pictures as a preview.
Our bikes & tour guide for our bike tour of the city
So much amazing food. Louisiana Redfish in this case
We bought a home. Haha we wish. Oak Alley Plantation
Gotta have beignets
Yay French Quarter!
And a wedding in the middle of Jackson Square?
Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

This Weekend I...

I am venturing into the social blog world again and linking up with a few blogs to recap our weekend! Go here or here to see what others did! 

This weekend, I celebrated with a graduate school friend of mine who just graduated with her Ph.D. in CRIM! She and her family are off to Colorado and she starts her new position in August. I know Henriikka will make a great professor!

Some of the CRIM crew.
This weekend, I volunteered with our small group at a local 10K/5K/fun run race hosted by an amazing local non-profit, 6 Stones. We had to be up there bright and early (6:30 AM!) but it was worth it to help out it got us excited to run our Disney 5k in January. Hmm... maybe I will run a race before that. January is a bit far away!

This weekend, we turned off our phones and computers and just relaxed Saturday afternoon. Best. Decision. Ever. The past week was hard on me for multiple reasons so it was nice to escape from the world, albeit briefly, and spend some amazing quality time with my husband. We relaxed around the apartment, did a little bit of shopping, came home and made a delicious dinner.

This weekend, I ate a lot of food. I think I'm prepping for our long weekend in New Orleans coming up, but over the weekend, I we made apple crisp, pizza, BBQ pulled pork, fish tacos, and strawberry margaritas. Yum!

Italian sausage & roasted tomato pizza that kind of
turned into a flat bread but was still delicious!
Homemade apple crisp-- yum!
This weekend, I had a very busy Sunday! Church followed by leading my 7th grade girls in their small group was first, then lunch, then a meeting from 3-4:30, followed by making delicious fish tacos. We wanted to go swimming afterwards, but it turns out my swim suit doesn't fit. Apparently my swim suit bottom is a bit too big, making it slightly difficult to swim comfortably. Add that to the to-do list?

So that's a decent synopsis of our slightly crazy, slightly relaxing, but delicious weekend! What about you? Do anything noteworthy?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Things Friday- Summer Plans Editions

Hello everyone! Aren't you excited it's Friday? I know I am- this has been one crazy week for our household and we have been counting down to the weekend. Here are a few random happenings in our world.

  1. We are both DONE for the semester! I turned in my final paper last week and Matt finished his final exam last night. Feels so good to be done! Matt only has 3 more semesters left before he earns his Master's- summer, fall, and spring. Just a little bit longer for him!
  2. To celebrate finishing another semester, we're heading down to Houston today to visit my family. Well, it's also Mother's Day, so we'll celebrate that, too, but it coincided well! 
  3. Speaking of trips, we have a trip to New Orleans coming up and I'm so excited! Visiting family + good food + NOLA adventures= happy Jessica! 
  4. Unfortunately most of our summer excitement will be happening this month. Once June rolls around, Matt has classes starting up again and I will be a TA over the summer, so we'll go back to having boring lives.
  5. Except- Matt has a top secret date weekend planned between the summer and fall semesters. All he has given me are these little clues that tell me nothing at all. I know we are having dinner somewhere and staying at some place over night. Each month he gives me new "clues." The first picture is from Google Street View near the restaurant. The second is Google Street View near the 'place we're sleeping' and the final picture is the geographical location. The first grouping is from April and the second from May.

    So I have deduced it is somewhere in DFW. We are eating somewhere close to some major highway and then staying somewhere with trees & cranes. Really gives away a lot, no? I'll keep you posted! 
Anyway, that's about the major life updates in my life. What do you have going on? Any exciting summer plans?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Texas Food Truck Festival

Have you ever gone to an event that you expected to be awesome but then just so did not pan out. It had all of the elements of a good time. You look forward to it all week. You plan, you research, you write a list of things you want to do/try. Well, that last part may just be me, but I'm sure we have all been there. Anyway, here is the most recent occurrence of that in my life...

This past Saturday Matt & I made our way down to the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for the Texas Food Truck Festival! As you are probably aware of, gourmet food trucks are the new big 'thing' and we thought we would take advantage of about 20 different food trucks being in the same place. 

We pay our $20 admission cost when we arrive, enter through the gates of the ballpark, and see this.
They were streaming the away baseball game

List of the trucks

So many people. And trucks. But mainly people.

We get in line for our first food truck- The Yellow Belly- around 5 and order our appetizer for the evening, Sweet Potato Fries. The truck uses yellow tomatoes in each of their dishes, hence its name, and the fries came with yellow tomato ketchup. Oh my goodness were those good! 

We may have waited about 30 minutes for them, but they were worth it. Garlic, cilantro, and lime were used to season the fries and the ketchup was definitely delicious! 

After we finished that item, we wanted something to drink. And here is where things started looking not-so-happy. I confirmed multiple times on the website we would not need to bring cash and it said we would be fine with just credit cards. Well, the festival organizers forbid the trucks from selling 'regular' beverages (water, sodas, etc) and customers could only buy them from the festival carts. Not only were they festival prices ($4.50/water bottle) but they only took cash.

Of course.

We are yet to be in the habit of automatically carrying cash with us so no beverages for us. 

We found a water fountain inside the stadium and then stood in line for our next truck- which come to find out they also don't take credit. Fair enough. Move on to the next truck. Nope, takes at least 45 minutes to get one cheeseburger. No, thanks.

We finally make it to Bombay Wraps, order 2 lamb curry wraps and receive them in 5 minutes. Yay! They were delicious though I was definitely missing the water at this point.

There was an ice cream truck I spotted that I wanted to try, but I was a little grouchy at this point due to the festival organizers (in my mind) lying to me, so instead of waiting in another 20 minute line, we left. Drove to Freddy's. Ordered some cups of water and frozen custard. Ate. Enjoyed. Went home.

One strawberry shortcake sundae & 1 peanut butter,
banana, and chocolate sundae. Perfectly refreshing
So it wasn't that it was a bad night, it just could have been better. I have now learned the lesson my dad tried to teach me- always carry cash. Fair enough. At least I got some good baseball stadium pictures out of the deal!

I realize this post sounds very whiny, first-world-problem-esque, but it was a let down to not be able to fully enjoy the evening. What about you- any similar experience? Do you like the gourmet food truck fad?