Checked Out

August 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I start vacation tomorrow!

a-festivals-3

And I’m jazzed!

Scott and I are flying to Louisiana to see my southern fried family and we couldn’t be more ready. He’s been busting his butt in summer classes for the last eight weeks and I’ve been busting my own butt at work and wedding planning and in life in general so we could use a bit of a break. We’re going to spend some quality time with my grandparents, dad and some cousins and help to celebrate my dad’s birthday later this week. Then we’re going to New Orleans ourselves for a couple of nights because we haven’t had a trip just the two of us in forever and damnit, we deserve it! We’re going to take trolleys, visit museums, eat beignets and let the good times roll!

Even if it is 117 degrees.

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Laissez les bons temps rouler!

February 9, 2016 at 1:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I wish I was celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans this week but I’ll have to make do with debauchery in Chicago instead. And actually, if I’m being honest – I’m not wild enough anymore to really wish I was New Orleans right now. My mom went to Mardi Gras two years in a row a few  years back and just hearing her talk about it made me tired! I know it’s a lot of good, not-so-clean fun because well, that’s the best kind to have in The Big Easy and I hope everyone down there has a blast this year too.

Image: Rex

Let the good times roll!

Traditionally, Mardi Gras is the last day of recklessness before Lent and that’s kind of why it gets so crazy. People have to cut loose before they start giving things up, right? I don’t exactly take part in Lent anymore though so I don’t have the need to go nuts before the religious stuff sets in. I choose to go nuts any day of the year! And if that means going to the gym and then having grown-up wine and cheese with a ladyfriend this evening, so be it. I guarantee I’ll be feeling better tomorrow than some of the people in this picture!

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Swamp Thing

June 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

While in Louisiana last weekend, Scott and I teamed up with a couple of my cousins to do the most Louisiana thing we could think of – an alligator airboat tour through a bayou. It was an activity we could really sink our teeth into!

No, I’m not sorry for that joke.

See you later, alligator.

See you later, alligator.

We arrived in this little place after driving nearly two hours into swamp country. Even my cousin, who grew up in Louisiana herself, said she’d never been that far in the bayou. The four of us joined a couple from Dallas on the airboat, which was a glorified fishing boat with a huge car engine strapped to the back (it was safer and more legit than it sounds, I promise). We pulled out of the no-wake zone and our Cajun guide gunned the whole contraption as he pointed us straight towards a giant patch of large trees and weeds. At the very last possible second, he swerved the boat and we all felt like we were on a roller coaster. Not going to lie, it was pretty damn cool!

We also got to meet a few alligators, most notable a large 14-foot male, a slightly smaller female and a juvenile that was about four feet long. These alligators weren’t near one another and were instead spread throughout the bayou – apparently they’re slightly territorial animals. Who knew. The swamp tour hangs around them enough where they were expecting the raw chicken our guide gave out and at one point we were even able to touch the big guy’s tail, but they were in no way docile. The female began lunging from the water and she could’ve easily taken out our boat so we bade her farewell before we all became gator bait.

While on the tour, we were also able to see some pretty incredible wildlife and ecology, including some rodent called the Nutria rat and a tree that had fallen over in the bayou but still retained a source of nourishment, so the branches became trees on their own and the whole thing flourished. It was all very interesting and very entertaining – definitely worth the drive and the price of admission. So if you’re ever in the South and want to experience the type of thing Yankee tourists only dream about, let me know and I’ll hook you up with your own wild ride!

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Annie Get Your Gun

December 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I had a super great trip down to Louisiana for our annual Deep-Fried-Southern-Thanksgiving (complete with a turkey stuffed with shrimp etouffee). I spent a good deal of time visiting my family and the cousins took a day trip into New Orleans, where we took a horse-drawn carriage ride tour of the city – I’ll be writing about that another day this week because it was so awesome it deserves its own post. Some of the other awesome things from the trip included eating a Schlotzsky’s sandwich both times I was in the Houston airport (because this delicious restaurant no longer serves any area anywhere near me, the jerks), cooking s’mores around a bonfire, dying my hair with my cousins after having a little bit of wine and of course, shooting my great-grandmother’s old rifle. I never got to meet this woman as she passed before I was born but she was a tough old broad known as Miss Bessie to just about everyone. Apparently she used to shoot turtles and snakes to keep them out of her yard (and probably put them into a dinner dish) and the gun has been passed down in the family. It currently belongs to my dad, who took me out to the bayou on some family property so I could shoot for the first time since I was a senior in high school.

The leaves feared me.

30 seconds later I was crying in the truck after my battle with the ants.

Surprisingly, I was a fairly decent shot. I didn’t want to aim at anything that was alive so I marked leaves and large sticks and had a strong accuracy with everything I shot. Which was extra surprising since it was all moving in the current of the water – even my dad was legitimately impressed. I shot my dad’s handgun after going through all the bullets we had for the rifle and I did NOT like that nearly as much. It was incredibly loud (my ears rang for a while) and was so much more powerful that I had a harder time with my accuracy. That rifle though – that I could (and did) get behind. Unfortunately, after I took my first few shots my feet started to feel the burn and that’s when I realized that my dumb ass had planted myself right on a pile of fire ants – while wearing sandals. It’s a small miracle that I didn’t shoot off a toe in my scurry to get away from the biting bastards. I eventually wiped myself clear of the little devils and found another place to stand but the damage was done – my feet still have bite marks on them. Oh well, at least I didn’t lay down in the pile while pretending to be a sniper.

After our shoot-fest, my dad and I walked through a cemetery where some old family members are buried. Some of the tombstones are hundreds of years old and it was pretty interesting to walk through everyone, though it was a bit strange to see my last name on so many headstones. Thinking back, I think I spent the majority of my trip down South firing guns, walking in cemeteries and wandering through Wal-Mart (which happened to be the only store open in the small town I was in). I guess I really am a Southern girl at heart!

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Thanksgiving Vacation!

November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Scott and I leave town this afternoon and begin a roughly 18 hour drive to my grandparents house in Louisiana.  We’re meeting my sister and her boyfriend in Louisville so we’ll all be splitting the driving and the gas but it’s still going to be long – just no way around that.  But I’ve got my ear plugs, my pillow, my book, some movies and my tofurkey so I should be able to handle it.  It will be cheaper than flying though so at least that’s something!  Plus, apparently my sister’s car has an actual outlet in it so we can use my laptop to watch movies for the duration of the trip.  What, you didn’t realize cars had outlets?  Yeah, me neither.  What a world we live in!

Away we go!

So, I’m more than ready for a vacation.  While it won’t be super warm down south this year, it’ll be warmer than it is in Chicago (where I spent my walk home last night sliding all over sidewalks and waddling to avoid busting my ass).  Plus, I get to see all kinds of family members I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving.  There will be tons of good food and we’ll cap off the holiday with a cousins-oriented trip to New Orleans on Friday night.  Clearly, I have a lot to be thankful for.

In fact, here’s a brief list!

  • My family is pretty amazing…I miss them on a daily basis but am always grateful for the time we share.
  • My friends are rad too and I wouldn’t be who or where I am without them.  Even those I don’t talk to or see as much as we’d like – I love and miss them all.
  • My boyfriend is also great.  We may drive each other nuts sometimes but there’s no one else I’d rather be nuts with.
  • My job…it pays my bills…
  • My little cat, The Dude.  He makes me laugh and finally quit waking me up at the buttcrack of down with his incessant meowing.
  • My health.  Because it really is easy to take for granted.
  • The fact that I live in one of the coolest cities ever (my opinion of course, but my opinion is often right).
  • My comfy yoga pants.  Because they will come in handy on Thanksgiving.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday and that you have plenty to be grateful for!  And if you can manage to stay away from Black Friday shopping, you’ll have a lot to be thankful for indeed.

 

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Thanksgiving Vacation

November 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Almost there!  I will be taking next week off work (well, furlough time, so this wasn’t really up to me but I can’t do anything about it so enjoy it I shall) and heading to Louisiana for my annual Southern Thanksgiving.  I’ve mentioned this before and feel free to do a search of November’s past to read all about it.  I was lucky this year and was able to take Scott down south to meet my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins way back in May and that means that I get to see all those lovely people not just once this year but twice – unfortunately, Scott won’t be joining me this time but I’m sure I’ll eat enough tofurkey for the both of us.

Here I come!

Thanksgivings in Louisiana mean wearing t-shirts and shorts, taking naps and hanging out at a local dive bar.  Yes, I’m excited.  Before I go, I have a fun-filled weekend ahead of me including meeting a college friend for lunch tomorrow and (finally!) getting to meet her boyfriend.  Then tomorrow night we’re having a few friends over for breakfast for dinner (Belgian waffles, veggie sausage, eggs and mimosas) and a viewing of a holiday movie.  Sunday I will be hanging at the Field Museum then prepping for my trip and I’ll be leaving on my jet plane Monday afternoon!  Since I had the extra time off work I’ll be down there until Friday, so I’m looking forward to just about everything.  Minus sleeping in the same bed with my sister, of course.

Whatever your Thanksgiving traditions are, I hope you’re able to continue them next week and that you and yours have a great holiday.  I’ll probably post once or twice in my absence but I might just be too relaxed and carefree to bother with the internet.  Either way, I just want to say that I’m thankful for all of the friends, family and love that make my life so worth living.  I’m a lucky girl and I never forget it!

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Boo!

June 1, 2012 at 9:41 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I think I’ve mentioned that going to Louisiana is somewhat like going back in time, and the amount of haunted tours that one can take while visiting only adds to this eerie feeling.  I’m not saying I believe that the ghosts of Confederate and Yankee soldiers are constantly floating around current homesteads and spooking people but well…stranger things have happened.  Besides, it’s fun to think about the paranormal and while I’ve never experienced anything overtly paranormal in my life (besides some of my mom’s cooking…just kidding, Mom!), I enjoy placing myself in situations where there’s a remote chance that I could.  Make sense?  I thought so.

Scary!

One of the places that Scott and I visited was The Myrtles Plantation (the website looks about as dated as the building).  This is a place only about 20 minutes from my grandparents and I’ve actually done a tour here once before, when an old college friend and I visited my family many moons ago.  Legend as it that a slave girl who lived here became the “special friend” (seriously, that’s how the tour guide described what was essentially a sex slave relationship) to the man of the house and eventually the girl killed his wife and two of his children, though she supposedly did it by accident.  Her spirit is said to still reside within the home and people can pay good money to stay overnight in the house’s upstairs rooms, though we were too pressed for time to do so ourselves.  We took many pictures but turned up no specters, though we tried.  We got a tour of the main rooms in the house and were able to walk the grounds for a while, which was interesting if not spooky.  It was somewhat educational (who knows how much was fact vs. fiction) and definitely entertaining, especially given the $8 price tag.  Apparently one of those haunted house hunting type shows featured this place a while back and you can buy DVD’s of it, but again we declined.  However we did take some photos of ourselves pretending like we had witnessed ghost sightings, complete with scared faces, pointing fingers and all.  We’re very mature.

The other haunted tour we took part in was in the French Quarter and called a Haunted History Tour.  This one featured even more stories and while I have no way to verify the accuracy of all we were told, it sure felt real.  Our guide was very theatrical and we walked with our group for about 2 hours throughout the Quarter while being regaled with tales of murder, suicide, treachery and death.  It was really cool and not super expensive either (tickets for each of us ran $20, which is the cheapest way to kill two hours in the Quarter) and very entertaining.  However the heat, humidity and the amount of Hurricanes I’d consumed were working on me so I was ready to depart by the time the tour ended.  We never did see any ghosts but we heard some good stories and thoroughly enjoyed our guided walk through the French Quarter.

We walked through Jackson Square for a while on our last afternoon in the city and that’s where the awesome caricature that you see above came from.  Various artists and buskers work these streets and I happen to think that the guy who drew us did a hilariously good job, so we left with a great souvenir as well.  I always enjoy my time in the deep South and New Orleans is no exception so if you can make it down that way, go for it and Laissez les bons temps roule!

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Aaaaand Back

May 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Man, the first day back to work after a vacation is always a drag.  It doesn’t help when your vacation consists of great quality time with family you only see once (maybe twice) a year, lounging by a pool with sweet tea in hand, exploring a haunted antebellum home and traipsing through the French Quarter with two of you favorite people.  All in all, the entire vacation was a success and since Scott managed to hold his own on both his first plane ride and his first encounter with my father, I couldn’t have come home happier.  Unless I didn’t have to come home at all, that is.

I did not take this but we shall pretend I did.

Like most people, I could use a vacation from my vacation.  Thankfully I had yesterday off to recuperate but having to clean the apartment, do laundry, make a Target run and go to a mammogram appointment to get my boob completely squished and squashed (just routine, no worries) before trying to make a healthy dinner that would override the week of fried food and pizza I’d been consuming took a lot out of me.  It’s a hard knock life for a vegetarian in the deep South, that’s for sure.  I managed to accomplish everything on my list but my nap and I’m definitely feeling that today.  Luckily, the work week is more than half way over and I can get in some much needed bonding time with my couch this weekend.

As I mentioned, the trip went better than I could have hoped (well, except for the old man in front of us on the flight back who let out some of the most disgusting-smelling farts known to man…seriously, the flight attendant ended up spraying something as she was gagging down the aisle) and I miss my southern family already.  In a strange twist, the temperature upon returning to Chicago was just as warm and humid as it was when we left New Orleans so it was almost like we never left.  Almost.  Arriving in an apartment that was roughly 95 degrees at 11:30 pm Monday night after navigating trains and planes (no automobiles) wasn’t exactly fun but it did make me all the more thankful for central AC.  And ice cream.  And for the fact that our long-haired cat hadn’t melted through the floor.

More trip highlights to come, just as soon as I can recuperate a bit more.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane!

May 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Today at 5pm CST, I begin my vacation.  I do not have to be back at work until next Wednesday (thank you, Memorial Day!) and this time tomorrow I’ll be arriving at my grandparent’s house in good old Louisiana.  I’m taking Scott with me and seeing as how he’s never been on a plane before (ever), this will be quite the experience.  Especially since the plane we’ll board after our layover has exactly three seats in each aisle and is too tiny to store anything in the nonexistent overhead bins.  I’ve got his sleeping pills ready, just in case.

Away we go!

Typically I only get this far south on Thanksgiving and I’m only able to visit  my family (aunt, uncles and cousins) down there once a year.  However, since I’ll be in over a long weekend, they’re all joining us at Grandma’s house to meet and greet the boyfriend and enjoy some fun in the sun (and pool).  I’m really excited to see everyone and also excited for the night we’ll be spending in the French Quarter – even though I’ve been down there many times it never gets old.

Luckily, I’m feeling better and am only mildly snotty compared to what I’ve been so far this week.  Though my mom would say that I’m mildly snotty all the time.

Yeah I’m sorry this post is kind of lame but to be honest I’m having a hard time concentrating with this vacation looming so close I can almost taste it.  Then I’ll squeeze in a quick work out, pack my bags and set my alarm for 3:30 tomorrow morning so we can catch our flight.

Louisiana, here we come!  And Sissy, I wish you were coming with us!

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Have Dad, Will Travel

June 2, 2011 at 11:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be flying down to Louisiana to visit my dad, who’s quite sore but recovering well from his surgery.  I’m pretty pumped to take the trip down south especially since I typically only get to see my dad and grandparents over Thanksgiving.  I’ll be helping around the house, running errands, cleaning the pool and listening to lots and lots of Lawrence Welk.  While it may not be as exciting as some other weekends, I’m really looking forward to the visit and I know I’ll feel a lot better about this business with my dad once I get to see him.

Which I wouldn’t be able to do without my awesome aunt.  She had a few free tickets on Southwest and it’s because of her that my sister and I were able to fly down on such short notice.  She rocks like that.  All that was up to me was renting a car and the day I needed to do that I actually received an email with a 20% discount for Hertz Rent-a-Car if I used my Sears Willis Tower discount card.  Win and win!

LA here I come!

In other, more random news:

  • Illinois civil unions went into effect yesterday and same-sex couples are getting a little closer to equal rights – good news!
  • I realized yesterday that I actually get a summer break in school.  My current class ends next week and the last one doesn’t start until mid-September, so my Tuesday nights will soon be a bit more open.  More good news!
  • An old friend of mine found out that her favorite comic book shop, which also doubles as her place of employment, is soon closings its doors for good.  She found this out the same day she found out The Hulk comics are coming to an end (at least that’s what I think she said – she was a bit of a hot mess when we hung out due to all of this).  She has a Hulk tattoo on one of her biceps (yes, really) and she was heartbroken.  Sad news.
  • I received another issue of that mysterious food and cooking magazine that I previously wrote about.  Still don’t know why and still don’t know how they got my name.  I did, however, notice that this issue had Waiting Room Copy typed above my name and address.  When did my apartment become a doctor’s office?  And when do I get paid rent?  Strange news.
  • I’ve begun playing Words with Friends on my cell phone.  It’s addictive.  I’m also getting my ass kicked left and right, which makes me question the validity of my English degree.  Frustrating news.
  • I slipped in my shower this morning and came dangerously close to knocking myself out cold.  I have a friend who did that earlier this year and she woke up an hour later, bleeding from the head and with the water still running.  This is a now mortal fear of mine.  I’m considering having a Life Alert panic button installed in my bathtub, or at the very least training Catsby in CPR.  Paranoid news.

This all gives me plenty to think about on my upcoming long weekend.  And at least my grandparents have a bathtub specially designed for easy access for older folks so hopefully my next few showers won’t be so scary…

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