Holiday Recap

December 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

This time last week, I was enjoying sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s. Today I walked to work in a snowstorm. This time last week I was eating every single thing put in front of my face. Today I’m utilizing a new food/exercise tracker and imputing everything I eat.

Have we invented time travel yet?

No matter. My Thanksgiving was another one for the books and I was lucky in that no one shoved anyone else into the bayou and that there were enough Thanksgiving leftovers for two additional meals (for yours truly…I don’t know what anyone else ate).

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If I ever shot something that was alive I think I would throw up

My trip to Louisiana included:

  • touring the historic Point Coupee Museum (all two rooms of it)
  • purchasing pecans from the factory where they’re shelled
  • shooting four different types of guns at a plastic gopher target in the middle of nowhere
  • eating an obscene amount of food
  • drinking an obscene amount of wine
  • drinking a beer at a bar called Fluidz
  • NOT getting drunk in New Orleans – a Thanksgiving miracle!
  • eating a decidedly non-vegetarian raw oyster to get my sister to buy me a few also decidedly expensive drinks
  • almost vomiting up said oyster and reinforcing my vegetarian ideals
  • seriously raw oysters taste like chewy snot
  • finding a vegetarian hot dog place in New Orleans and having a giant fauxdog even though I wasn’t even hungry – just excited to see it existing
  • nearly bearing witness to a shooting on Bourbon Street
  • NOT trying to fly out of the wrong airport like my sister (sorry, sis)

All in all it was another successful trip and I’m extremely thankful for the time spent with loved ones. And food. Did I mention how much I ate? I’m also thankful for a strong stomach and now that I’ve returned to reality, my gym membership. Bring on the Christmas cookies!

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Winter Came, It Snowed, I’m Out!

November 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I don’t care about the weather in Chicago because in a few short hours I’ll be enjoying Louisiana temperatures – which could get up to 80 on Friday! Talk about something to be thankful for.

What else? Lots else. I mean, I’m a pretty lucky girl. My job is pretty solid, my friends are stellar and my family is (for the most part) pretty awesome. I have a fiance who loves me and treats me well and this time next year we’ll be married (holy crap). I’m healthy and so are my friends and family. We could all use a little more money and a little less stress but there’s nothing novel about that, so really I have little to complain about. Oh, and I’ll be stuffing my face for the next week so I’m thankful for good food, too!

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Truth? Maybe.

Except dealing with O’Hare airport this afternoon, but that’s what they made airport bars for.

I hope everyone out there has a great holiday and you can spend some downtime with the people you love most!

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Ashes to Ashes

December 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I was in Louisiana for Thanksgiving I went to New Orleans for a day with my cousins. We wanted to branch out and do something we’d never done there before and when we came across the carriage tours of the French Quarter we figured that would work. Then we saw one of the carriages also went through the historic St. Louis Cemetery and we got REALLY excited. Our guide was thoroughly entertaining and knew his stuff so we got a history lesson during the hour-long ride, which absolutely thrilled the nerd in all of us. We passed by some landmarks and old, important buildings on our way to the cemetery, which is a place I’ve been wanting to explore for years. In case you didn’t know, the cemeteries in New Orleans are all above ground because the water level is so high that they can’t dig six feet underground without eventually having coffins and bodies float back to the surface. Yes, they learned this the hard way. They’re also designed that way due to a mixture of French and Spanish tradition but the whole water-table thing is much cooler to think about. So all of their cemeteries have casket-shaped vaults to hold their dead. Silly me, I had assumed that there was one body per structure but the tour taught me otherwise. Apparently these large stone caskets work like a kiln in the hot Louisiana summers and will turn any body and casket combination to complete dust within a year. So there’s a law that states you can’t open the vault for a year and a day after a body is placed inside but once that time has passed, it’s open season to put more dead inside. They basically scoop up all the ashes left from the previous inhabitant and place them in a bag, then shove it to the back and put in a new coffin. These vaults are typically family-owned so you wouldn’t be spending eternity with a bunch of strangers but you would be in awfully close quarters with everyone else. To be honest, I think this is fascinating and very economical way to save space and honor the dead.

RIP Nick

RIP Nick

One of the first tombs we saw had family members from the early 1800’s mixed with someone from 2011 so people are still being buried there to this day. In fact, Nicholas Cage recently purchased himself a tomb here and his is shaped like a pyramid. Why? Because he’s Nicholas Cage. We got to see that in addition to the place there they filmed the acid scene in Easy Rider, plus we visited the family tomb where Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau is reportedly buried. There’s a lot of history and even quit a few hauntings associated with this cemetery and it was pretty much the coolest thing we did that entire day. And yes, that includes the food and booze on Bourbon St. All of the tombs sink a tiny bit each year and there are some that only have the very tops visible as they’ve basically sunk so far into the ground that they’ve almost disappeared. Seeing all of the ruins amongst those still being opened today was pretty surreal and if the plots weren’t so stupidly expensive I would consider spending eternity there as well. Of course, I guess if I somehow find and marry Nicholas Cage I’d still have a shot at this but then I’d have to spend time finding and marrying Nicholas Cage. Pass. But at least I know where to find him in the afterlife!

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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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Vacation Recap

December 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Here’s what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted:

  • Was out of town for 7 nights.
  • Spent 2,328 miles in a car (roughly 38 hours).
  • Drove through 7 states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana).
  • Slept in 4 different beds (two nights in a sorta dingy motel where my family was the only guests…it was like something out of a bad horror movie…then one night in a nice French Quarter hotel, one night at my grandparent’s house and one night with my momma).
  • Visited with 12 family members and only had to yell at my dad once or twice.
  • Sat in one strip club with my sister and cousins…talk about awkward.
  • Indulged in one couples reading at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo – apparently Scott and I are good for each other and I should never bother with LASIK surgery, though it would be good for him.  Also my sister and I might both wind up with twins.  Holy crap.
  • Ate roughly my own weight in Thanksgiving deliciousness (and I have leftovers!  The one and only perk of driving).
  • Had a few too many New Orleans adult beverages.
  • Managed to see all four of my grandparents and both of my parents in the same day, despite them living on opposite sides of the country.
  • Cleaned the apartment, unpacked everything, put up the Christmas tree and had a friend over for dinner, all on my last night off before returning to work.
  • Spent two and a half hours upgrading my phone to an iPhone.  I guess there’s no going back from this.
Happy Holidays from Bourbon Street!

Happy Holidays from Bourbon Street!

As you can see, I’ve been fairly busy.  The trip was a really good time though that drive was LONG.  At least it was semi-entertaining, what with Kendra’s boyfriend almost letting us run out of gas in the Middle of Nowhere, Alabama at 4:30 in the morning and my own boyfriend leaving a gas station with the gas pump still hooked in the car.  My sister and I are proud that we didn’t have any driving mishaps and that we didn’t kill each other, which I think we were both worried about.  I’m also fairly comfortable behind the wheel once again, as I did more driving in the last week than I’ve done in years.

Other highlights: my tofurkey was surprisingly delicious, I didn’t have to go to a Wal-Mart while in Louisiana, my aunt is sending me a new(er) Nook and I’ve made a slight dent in my current book, The Count of Monte Cristo.  Now for this week: coming back to work, volunteering at the food pantry, attending a fancy Holiday party at the Art Institute with a friend and volunteering at the museum this weekend.  And that’s just between now and Saturday!

No rest for the wicked, but then again why would I want to rest when everything I’m doing is so damn awesome?  Hope your holiday was just as good as mine, if not slightly less chaotic.  And here’s hoping I can get back to Louisiana sometime before next Thanksgiving!

 

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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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Mondaze

November 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Welp, I’m an idiot.  For months, months, I’ve thought that Thanksgiving fell on November 21st this year.  Whether that’s because we have an extra weekend this month and it threw me off or it’s because I simply can’t read a calendar, there it is.  I requested the wrong dates off of work and it’s been in my head that this is the last full week I had to work before my super awesome family fun time vacation in Louisiana.  I scheduled volunteering and hanging out with friends around this, a fictitious date for a holiday.  Super crap.

I am a dumbass.

Once I realized my mistake today, I immediately emailed my boss to proclaim my stupidity and beg for the right days off instead.  That wasn’t a problem and this change actually makes work a little easier as I had a few big projects due the week I thought I’d be gone that I’ll now be around to take care of.  The major downside here is that I’ve been under the impression that after working this week plus one Monday, I’d be on vacation for another week.  Glorious visions of family time and warmer weather have been dancing through my head and I was analyzing next week’s weather in Louisiana just this morning.  All for naught.  Now I’m stuck with a stupid snow/rain mix here in Chicago and an extra week until I can get away from it all.  A week that I have to work, since my vacation starts in fifteen days instead of eight, as I previously assumed.  We all know what assuming does and I am a prime example.  I’m still not even sure how this happened – I stare at schedules and calendars all day long and given how much this took me by surprise,  you would think I was actively trying to be ignorant of the date of Thanksgiving.  It’s all a huge mistake but boy, I feel foolish.

At least I didn’t buy a plane ticket.

Stupid Monday.

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Thanksgiving Recap

November 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Even though it seems like I just left for vacation about an hour ago, I am indeed back and in the swing of things.  Here’s how my holiday went down:

The Good:

  • That I found $20 in my back pocket as I navigated security at O’Hare Airport.  Definitely got the trip off on the right foot!
  • The visiting with family, of course.  I normally only see the Southern side of my family once a year (twice if I’m truly lucky) so it’s always good to catch up.  My dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sister and I were able to spend some quality time together around a fire pit and it was awesome.  However, after spending the week in the company of my 10-year-old male cousin, I’m now even more weary of ever having children.
  • The meeting my dad’s coworkers…it wasn’t good so much as very interesting.  I’m pretty sure they were all on their best behavior.
  • The weather was awesome, as usual.  Highs in the 70’s made me glad I brought my flip-flops out of hibernation and I enjoyed the warm sunshine on my face each and every day.  I did not enjoy returning to the 30 degree temperature in Chicago and it was a rude awakening back to the real world.
  • The Nook.  I received a hand-me-down Nook from an aunt of mine and while I was skeptical at first, so far it’s been really handy at the gym.  I’m still carrying around my paperback and likely always will but it’s nice to have options and I can’t help but feel a little more technologically savvy.
  • The fact that I went to the Mall of Louisiana with my family and spent less than $25, which bought lunch and a new work skirt.  My checking account thanked me later.
  • The food, which is last here but certainly not least.  Being a vegetarian never stops me from fully enjoying my Thanksgiving meal and a plate full of stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetable casserole, green bean casserole, cranberries and apples and a family speciality called corn casserole proved that once again.  Not to mention the chocolate cheesecake and pecan pie…I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it!

This was the first of two plates, both this size. No shame.

The Bad:

  • Almost being late for my flight because construction caused the bus routes near my apartment to be all messed up and a well-meaning, idiotic couple gave me wrong directions.  Luckily I always give myself ample time and have superior navigational skills so I was still able to enjoy an overpriced beer before my flight took off.
  • We didn’t make our annual trip to the local dive bar Fluidz, mostly because it’s under new ownership and we were told it’s just not the same.  We still drank plenty of wine though so all was not lost.
  • Sharing a bed with my sister is never fun.  Enough said.
  • On my way home, I got stopped at security in the Baton Rouge airport.  They made me produce another form of identification because apparently they’d never seen an Illinois license before.  I gave them the photo ID I have for work and then, because I’m a bit of a smart ass even when dealing with TSA, I also produced a really old military ID from the time I spent on an Air Force base in South Korea.  I guess that did the trick because they let me through after that, though they did look at me like I was a bit strange.

The Ugly:

  • Scott turned into a crazy cat lady while I was gone.  Each time we spoke, he held the phone up for me to talk to the Dude and he swears the Dude knew my voice.  I’m not sure I should leave them alone together any more.
  • Speaking of pets, my grandparents’ poor dog is a bit of a mess.  He’s like 14 years old and totally blind and deaf.  Other than that he’s still healthy so they feel guilty thinking of putting him down, but watching him stumble into chairs that he wasn’t expecting was a sad sight indeed.  Just not for him, since he’s blind.  Yeah I’m going to hell.
  • One of my cousins is on kidney dialysis and has home treatments for three hours a day, six days a week.  She brought her giant blood-cleansing machine with her and shipped most of her medical stuff.  I always knew she was one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, but damn.  Seeing her stick herself with huge 15 gauge needles and just sit back while all of her blood was sucked through tubes and put back again really put things in perspective.  She’s beautiful but the stuff she deals with certainly is not.  It definitely gave me more to be thankful for.

All in all, the trip was another great one.  I’m really lucky to have such a wonderful family and I’m glad another fairly good year has come and gone for all of us.  The only thing that could have made it any better was if I had been sent home with leftovers…but they’re weren’t any, because I ate them all.  Now bring on the Christmas feast!

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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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Thanksgiving Recap

November 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

My Thanksgiving was eventful, as always.  If you think you can handle it, I broke it down into a ginormous list – sorry if it hurts your eyes but once I got going I couldn’t stop!

The food was good, the company was better and we managed to fit more into the long weekend than I would have thought possible.  This included, but was not limited to, the following:  Meeting four new additions to the family that aren’t blood related; continuing family traditions such as drinking at the dive bar known as Fluidz the night we all arrived in town; cramming 15 people around various dining room tables and chairs for the main meal; eating so much food I thought my stomach was going to explode in a bloody Alien-esque scene; making two trips to Wal-Mart (two more than what I usually do in any given year); dyeing my hair for the first time in four years from a box purchased on one of the said trips to Wal-Mart; making a mess of the hair dyeing process and ultimately loving the new look; sleeping next to my sister three nights in a row while trying in vain to block out the television that she seems to be unable to sleep without; kicking myself for not bringing my ear plugs and eye mask; watching the Macy’s Day Parade and being thankful for not being anywhere near those crowds; drinking Jager Bombs and making S’mores around a fire (they do not go well together, in case you were wondering); taking photo’s of my 54-year old uncle’s hickey; driving my grandma’s Lincoln Navigator just a tad faster than what was legal; opening gifts from my grandmother with my other female cousins that all looked remarkably sexy and indecent (made for an awkward few moments until we figured out what the garment was); driving into New Orleans and staying at a 125 year-old hotel in the French Quarter; navigating various elevators that would only take us to certain floors because the hotel has been built onto so many times that it is now an official labyrinth; hearing ridiculously cheesy pick up lines all night long (including the old standby “What’s a girl like you doing here on a night like this”); having an eerily interesting palm reading done by the same guy at Marie Laveau’s  House of Voodoo that read me two years ago and hearing much of the same thing (only this time I’ll be married in a year instead of three…); getting lost in the lap-dance area of a strip club; voluntarily eating meat for the first time in almost 15 years in order to get an hour’s worth of free drinks out of my sister (it was a piece of fried crawfish and I managed to drink $40 of booze in that 60 minutes…also it will probably be another 15 years before I eat any more seafood); watching men on the sidewalk try to decipher drag queens from real women; more bar hopping than I’ve done in years and two hungover plane rides back that included horrid turbulence, screaming children, late departures, no time for transfers during my layover, lost luggage, hitching a ride on the old folks’ golf cart thingy, being the last person to make it on my connecting flight and uttering the words “Jesus Christ” at the end of it all only to be told by an airport official “Tis the season for that”.

The Big Easy can sure take a lot out of you

There were some other occurrences but I think this gives you a fair picture of what my holiday was like.  It’s a good thing it only rolls around once a year because I don’t know if I could handle this much excitement more often than that but I will admit that it would be fun to try!  I hope your Thanksgiving was equally awesome in its own special way and if it wasn’t, maybe you can come down with me next year.  That is, if you think you can handle it.

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