What have I gotten myself into?

Now that Carnival season is over (pics to come soon-ish), the Lenten season has fallen across the city of New Orleans.  While I'm not Catholic, I was brought up in that faith for 16 years and actually do understand and embrace the Lenten season .  So this year I decided to take a huge leap and give up alcohol for 40 days & nights.  SHOCKING, I know, but I figured that since I did it for the 2 weeks before the wedding, I could stretch it out a few more weeks, no problem.  I did something similar with Coca-Cola during the summer before i started college.  Back in high school I had no problem downing 4-5 cokes a day, so giving it up was kind of a big jump at the time.  Since I'd be playing varsity sports once entering college that fall, I decided to stop drinking it the summer and fall of 2001 so I'd be in top physical shape -- and it turned into me abstaining from soda as a whole for 9 years (haven't had a soda since!).  Now, I have no intention of giving up alcohol entirely, I just want to see if I can do it until Easter.  It won't be easy, but thats not the point of Lent, right?

On top of abstaining from alchy, I've decided to jump in and finally take up Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred challenge. 

Since I played sports at the collegiate and post-collegiate level, I figured this would be no sweat - just a way to get nice and toned.  I started off on Level 1 and I felt awesome - by Day 4 I had mastered that level and was feeling strong, motivated and in charge of my workouts.  Then I moved to Level 2 on Day 5 and the workout began.

Strong and motivated then changed to feeling tired, and out of shape.  I have learned that I despise squat thrusts, chair squats and V flies.  After day 8 of my 30 day challenge, instead of feeling like this:
(photo from http://theconditioningclassroom.com)
I still feel like this:
(actual picture of me when I was 6 months old.  My parents were always
 up for weird photos ops of us kids while were were little)
But every day is one step closer to feeling and looking great - every great journey begins with one little step.  What challenge have you put yourself up to lately? 



While updating my iPhone the other day, Mr Bama asked me, in kind of a "i hate my ipod touch!" moment, if i still had my old school click wheel ipod from 2004.  Oddly enough, for some reason I did keep it after it died back in 2007 and I had to upgrade to a black 5th generation.  The funny thing is, we connected the old click wheel to the computer just for kicks, and it works!   Then we got to thinking: "Just how many portable Apple products do we have?"   Here's the rundown (named clockwise from top right):

  1. my 2nd gen blue ipod shuffle
  2. Mr. Bama's 2nd gen ipod shuffle
  3. my old school clickwheel iPod (now resurrected from the dead)
  4. my 5th gen iPod (bought to replace above supposedly dead iPod) 
  5. Mr. Bama's iPod touch (bought to replace his 5th gen iPod that was stolen from his car in MO)
  6. My recently replaced iPhone 3G
  7. (not pictured) Mr Bama's year old iPhone 3G
maybe we're weird for even pondering this, but we both find this to be an insanely uncessary amount of i____ products.  But oh how I covet a MacBook Pro to round out our little collection. *le sigh*

Anyone else have wayy to many versions of the same product that they never really thought twice about?   


How do I love thee....

... enough to plan an entire heart day-dinner.  Ok, so maybe it was a day late (postponed b/c of Mardi Gras and sending the pup off to "boot camp") but I must say it turned into a great experience.  Heres the menu:

1) Kir Royales:

Some champagne, some raspberries and creme de cassis.  I couldnt stand Kir when I was in Paris this past summer, but this version of the drink was a delicious apertif!  We are now actively trying to find cocktail recipes that call for creme de cassis since I had to buy a huge bottle of it.

2) Roasted Asparagus
I was kind of bummed that WFM didn't have skinnier asparagus, so I had to peel these before adding the olive oil, salt and pepper.  No biggie in the end though, I guess

3) Couscous with Melted Leeks & Thyme
So simple and SO insanely tasty.  First, you cut a few leeks (white part and an inch of the green part) into 1/4" slices and melt them with 1tb of butter in a pan. In a small saucepan, heat up a cup of some chicken stock to a boil and then pour over 3/4 cup of couscous in a seperate bowl.  Cover tightly w/ plastic wrap for 5 mins, then add the melted leeks, stir and flavor w/ salt & pepper.  A-MA-ZING

4) the piece de-resistance:  Lamb Chops with Mint-Mustard Sauce
Now I am normally NOT a lamb chop nor a mint jelly fan, but this recipe was so easy that I had to try it (and Mr. Bama is a big lamb fan also).  So I got 6 rib cut chops, seasoned each side w/ salt & peper, and then cooked them in a little graoeseed oil in a pan for 3 mins each side.  Took them out, let them sit (covered) and made the mint-mustard sauce in the same pan that I cooked the lamb.  Then I drizzled that over the lamb and served.  Now, I don't know if he said it just to make me happy, but Mr. Bama said that these were the best lamb chops he's ever had.  Me?  Well since I really had nothing to compare them to, they did taste really good, and they looked pretty!

Heres the table set up prior to serving.  Yup, I pulled out the "good" silverware for this occasion.  I use the term silverware lightly b/c I despise the taste that stirling silver utensils add to food (odd, i know, but its a pet peeve.)  so we registered instead for the gorgeous William-Sonoma Monaco stainless serveware.  Its my fancy, dishwasher safe "silverware" and this was the first time we've ever used them!   
also note the pretty rose bouquet that Mr. Bama gave to me for V-day.

The entire plate served and ready to eat! Yum Yum

5) Last but not least: Dessert!  Shortbread cookies and "almond dream creme"

The cookies were really easy to make, even for a baking-challeneged girl like myself. 

the cookies pre-baked.

hot out of the oven.

with the Almond Dream Creme.  The cream involved gelatin, which I have never worked with before.  The top 1/2 inch of the cream was really creamy and tasty, however, the rest was incredibly bland and rather than creamy, it was kind of milky.  The only thing I could think of was that I didn't let the gelatine soften enough before adding the cream mix and chilling.  Oh well, better luck next time. 

For never making any of these recipes before this adventure, I think things worked out marvelously.  It all was incredibly simple and I'm thinking of making this dish for when my parents come visit (whenever that is...)  The lesson?  Never be afraid to make a new recipe (or 2 or 3) because yes, theres always a risk it wont turn out perfectly (even though you'll learn a lot), BUT theres also the possibility that you'll make an amazing dinner to remember!


Last Minute Valentines

For some of you, it may already be Valentines Day, but if you're like me and are a super procrastinator and couldn't make it out to the store for a card for your honey, then you can play 3rd grader and make your own.  I promise, its not too late!!

Steps to a simple and easy Valentines Day Card:

1) Go to incompetech and create a type of graph /grid lined paper.  This a great site for anything from tyical green graph paper, to perspective and polar grids.  I chose Moorish in Red for an 8-1/2" x11" sized piece of paper.  Create your Pdf as you like!

2) Using a heavy card stock (I used 80#), print your pattern on the paper.  Then cut to size (9.25" x 7.25"). 
Then fold in half, with the patterned side facing out.  Folded the front should measure 4.75" x 7.25"

3) Using a word processing program (Microsoft Word or InDesign), create a cover message that will fill an area slightly smaller than the front side of the card.  I chose to not only have a cover message, but to layer it with a peice of colored paper to distinguish it from the bottom, lined paper.  I cut a piece of red construction paper, measuring 4.5" x 7", and pasted it to the front of the card.  Then I printed my cover message (measuring 4.25" x 6.75") and pasted it ontop of the colored paper to look like below:
Cheesy, yes, but since I can never come up with something witty for Valentines Day, I chose some lyrics from a Louis Armstrong song.  The graphic is actually a wingding.

 4) Now for the inside.  Open you card: It should just be plain, measuring 9.25"x 7.25".  Cut a 8.5" x 6.5" rectangle of colored paper and paste it so that it is centered on the paper.  Then, using your word processing software, create an inside message that will be pasted on top of the construction paper.  The inside message paper should measure 8" x 6" - the right side containing a message, and the left being either left blank or have a graphic of some sort, as seen below:
I chose to continue the cheesy Louis Armstrong song and then end it with a simple "Happy Valentines Day." I admit I'm not very original. 

You can dress this design up or down as you like, but in the end it's a super easy Valentines Card to cherish (AND, it fits in an envelope so you can mail it, if need be).  Mr. Bama received his on Friday since our Sunday will be filled with Mardi Gras parades marching down our neighborhood streets from early morning to late night.  But for those of you celebrating on actual Valentines Day, enjoy your day with your special someone! And for those of you instead celebrating Single's Awareness Day, rock on, and as a former observer for 23 years, I understand. 

Either way, Happy February 14!


Duck Duck Goose

In our family, we love Audubon Park - three blocks away, includes a golf course, riding stables, a 1-1/2 mile running/walking/biking path and an amazing zoo (hence why we technically have giraffes in our backyard).  And it also provides a place that we can take little Bear for his exercise.  Anyone who's ever had the joy of owning a puppy knows that until they have round 3 of their shots, the fear of your sweet puppy catching the big, bad, nasty (and incredibly contagious) disease Parvo sends shivers up your spine. That makes dog parks, and any grass that any unknown dog may have wandered upon off limits until about 14 weeks. Doesn't sound too prohibiting, but when you have a puppy that is a total bundle of energy and easily gets cabin fever - those are all the places you want him to go to tire him out. You also want him to interact with other dogs, people and situations so that he doesn't become a socially awkward big dog. Puppy playtime at Petco is great, but is only once a week and playtime at the Vet is everyday, but $11 for a half day (which really adds up over time!). Doesnt sound like a lot, but it does rule out just about every dog friendly place in the city - except Audubon.  The park's walking path is paved and it is mandatory that all dogs be on a leash, so Bear can't wander anywhere that may be unsafe (and other dogs can't wander to him without being invited.)  But he gets the chance to go out, meet people and other safe dogs and just enjoy the outdoors while learning to walk on a leash.  Pluses for both parties, we think. 

(photo court. of Wikipedia.com)

The park also has a ton of lakes and ponds that are full of waterfowl hanging out.  Mr Bama and I really just noted how pretty it made everything, but didnt think much about it - until Bear.  He is mesmorized by the multitudes of ducks, herons, geese and swans that just wander around by the lakes.
watching them like a hawk

"Hey, come here, I want to eat, err, MEET you!"

We guess this reaction is only appropriate since we've made the educated guess that his "unknown" half is Labrador Retriever (webbed toes, obvious lab ears).  It's also a little ironic hes this into birds because Bear's going off to Retriever School for a month on Monday to learn basic commands, be introduced to water and to learn the basics of duck retrieving .  Then Mr. Bama can take him duck hunting once the season rolls around.  Sad since he's gone for a month, but we think it will really pay off in the end!

All in all, the result of our Audubon Zoo excursions is exercise for us and a super tired puppy -- and as our Vet says, the best puppy is a tired puppy.

The "OMG why did I not know about this while I was planning my wedding" blog

While spending hours on Sunday trying to find this one font for a wedding invitation suite I'm designing, I tripped across this spectacular little treasure of a blog:

Maybe its a good thing I hadn't found this before the wedding, otherwise the DIY's I attempted for the wedding would have leaped from semi-unmanagable to overload level. Rather, I've decided to incorporate some of the projects into house decor. 

For one I attempted the How-To directions for the "Tiny Tissue Paper Flowers"


(photo court. of i-do-it-yourself.com)

not quite as elegant, but alas


(photo court. of i-do-it-yourself.com)

I removed part of a HUGE branch that fell off a tree infront of our house during a windstorm last week and used that as the "base."  I then tied each blossom to the branch - the key is when following the DiY directions, to leave a generous amount of string behind after tying the center knot when you make each flower.  

heres a close up: 

Then i put the branch in an extra wine carafe that we had (because honestly, how many wine carafes does one couple need?)  and placed it on top of our living room shelves.  Tada!

Theres a random bunch of stuff up there to begin with (a lego house, a "bouquet" of ugly leaves that I have no clue what to do with but needed height in that spot, our cheesy plastic Valentines day champagne flutes... to name a few) so why not a branch with paper flowers? 

So, enjoy the website and happy DiY-ing! 



Forget Mardi Gras - The city's on fire celebrating their first Super Bowl win.  Considering that 5 years ago it was questionable if the franchise would ever come back to the city post-Katrina, this means so much to New orleans & the Who Dat nation.

the Quarter right after the win -- more people in the streets than on Mardi Gras (picture from nola.com)

We had a chance to go down to the Quarter to watch the game at a friend's house, but since we were so tired from the Mardis Gras party / parade we went to the night before that we decided to be homebodies.  And we're kind of glad - while the Quarter looked to be having a heck of a party last night, we had no idea if and when we'd be able to get out of the Quarter to go home. 

Yes, Mr. Bama had to go to work this morning, but the streets were fairly quiet since we think many people decided to play boss and chose not to go to work today (understandably).  This is just the beginning of the crazy Carnival season and one for the history books!


ummmm. awesome

I saw this on the blog of one of my favorite peeps, Misa.  Note: viewer may suffer from overload of cuteness/humor.

Hipster Puppies

caption: peanut is sick of explaining to his dates who luc sante is

My short term goal now is to figure out how to get Bear posted contemplating the decline in the post-war aesthetic and structural quality of new orleans architecture -- or (more likely) him just staring at our neighborhood giraffes (yes, we have giraffes in our neighborhood, but that for a different post on a different day)

Ain't nothing likea dose of puppies to start the weekend off right!

(picture and caption from Hipster Puppies)
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