Popeye's Fried Chicken- A True New Orleans Halloween Lunch!

My office had its annual Halloween costume contest and Popeye's Fried Chicken lunch today. I can only tell you that riding back to the office in a car filled with 100 pieces of Popeye's Fried Chicken is a New Orleans girl's wildest dream! They really should bottle that smell and sell it as perfume... Now that would attract some men!


Guest post #2- "I'll always be in awe of New Orleans."

Our second guest post comes from my personal friend, Laurie, whose blog Small Red Stool chronicles her life as mom to an 8 year old daughter, Julia, and twins, Charlotte and Ella. Laurie always finds the "strange" in things and her photography finds beauty in the mundane. She writes about a New Orleans that often only locals can love.

I was born in New Orleans, but my family left soon after my birth for the family ties and safety of Houma. From my Mom's perspective you could safely say that she fled from New Orleans. For her, New Orleans represented her difficult childhood. She had a real New Orleans Irish Channel accent, which gradually faded only to reemerge when she was surrounded by her family. She felt bitter toward the city where she grew up and considering her experience in it, I understand that.

Despite her dislike for New Orleans, she also felt the pull of family and we spent most weekends in New Orleans visiting her mom, her sister, brother, aunts, uncles, and friends. My Dad also had family there, so a good chunk of my free time as a child was spent in New Orleans.
My mom certainly felt relief after leaving, but eventually she developed a fondness for the city that she conveyed to us. We went to Cafe du Monde and Morning Call regularly. We spent lots of time – “On the beach, On the beach, On the Pontchartrain Beach. We'll have fun, We'll have fun, Everyday in the sun!” We hung out with her hard drinking, hard partying relatives. We visited her brother in his tiny, slope ceiling, saggy floored apartment in the French Quarter. We felt like the biggest nerds around her other brother and his family in their cramped, loud townhouse. We hung out with my Dad's relatives in Harvey and on the Westbank. We went to church in beautiful Catholic Churches devoted to making Saints and handing out relics. She told us about the famous French Quarter Duck Lady, who she said was a mean drunk. We played recklessly in my Aunt's little upscale store in Metairie. She showed us pictures of her handsome father in his Navy uniform, of her baby brother who didn't make it out of infancy, of her gorgeous mom before she lost a baby and before her husband left her to care for four children alone.
The place that will always define New Orleans for me is my Grandma’s duplex in the Irish Channel. It was a two story shotgun duplex. Across the street was a former orphanage, next door was a corner store (that place alone has its share of great stories), a few doors down was a smoky, dirty poboy shop that everyone swore by. My grandma owned the duplex and lived on the first floor of one side. After her mother died, she lived there with her giant dog. She was a heavy smoker and the entire place, including the dog, was covered in nicotine.
My Grandma basically lived in one room of the house and everything else was preserved exactly as it was when my mom was young. The front room was filled with heavy, old, gorgeous furniture. There was a piano that emitted a sound like a deep moan when any of the yellow keys were pushed. The stairway to the second floor was so thin, that half of the residents of the city probably couldn’t have made it up them. They were also so low that even my hunched great grandmother had to bend over to walk up them. By the time I visited, they were blocked by stacks of old newspapers. The second floor of that house was an unknown that has stayed in my imagination until this day.

My uncle, who happened to be gay and later died of AIDS, lived for a while on the other side of the duplex. That place was fascinating as well. There was an intricate painting of a pyramid on one of the walls. Within the pyramid were all sorts of images, including that all seeing eye from our currency. Every second I was able to I’d stare at that painting and wonder about who painted it, why they painted it, how long it took, and wonder over the fact that they painted it directly onto the wall. I knew there would soon be someone who didn’t want an all seeing eye in their living room and would paint over it. There was left over furniture on the second floor that had been painted in bright patriotic reds, whites, and blues.Those two sides of the same house, one inhabited by an elderly alcoholic and her big, gentle dog and other vacant, but still bearing the signs of my eclectic uncle, showed me a world which was so foreign and so unlike anything that I knew in my day to day. That house still shows up regularly in my dreams. The idea of lives filled with great family, tragedy, art, parties, friendships, drugs (how else could that crazy painting possibly have been born?) filled my imagination. My own home is filled with relics from that house. A swan neck sofa and bureau from that front room have found a new home here. I have little knickknacks here and there to remind me of that place. In a nutshell, all of the wonder and fascination of that one house on Washington Avenue is New Orleans to me. 
My mom didn't know it, but her portrayal of New Orleans and all the time she and my dad let us spend there as children, created a deep love of the city in me. I idealized New Orleans as a cure to the boredom of a perfectly nice, normal, loving family in a perfectly nice, middle class neighborhood. Little did she know that her descriptions of my grandma's devotion to Dixie Beer, late night card playing parties, and the wild Mardi Gras parties would do nothing more than build a sense of wonder in me. Luckily I still live only 1 hour away from the city.

My husband and I still have friend and family to bring us there. Anytime we need a couple of days away from the kids, New Orleans is the perfect escape. We both idealize living in the city. The reality is that jobs and schools will keep us where we are – comfortable in Baton Rouge. I’ll always be in awe of New Orleans though.


Guest post #1- She was "born with a Fleur de Lis as a heart"!

Remember, a while back, I asked you, the reader, to be a guest blogger on the topic of why you love New Orleans? Well, some of you actually took me up on it! Thanks so much Jen for taking the time to express your love of The Big Easy. Please go check out Jen's blog Posh Point of View. She is also the co-founder of The Posh Parent , a really cool social networking blog.

Hello! I am Jen Hinton a native New Orleanian and fellow blogger of Posh Point of View. I was born in New Orleans and seriously think I was born with a fleur de lis as a heart. My husband and I had our first date in the French Quarter and held hands all through Jackson Square. So, when he popped "the" question there was no doubt in my mind as to where we should hold the ceremony. We had a lovely 6pm wedding in Jackson Square right in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. I was brought to Jackson Square in no other way than the good old-fashioned carriage ride and hubby and I arrived at our reception in a carriage as well. We had an amazing sit down dinner reception at Broussard's (FAB-U-LOUS food)! We had a late night at Pat O'Brien's as well. Anyone looking for a destination wedding that is amazing??? New Orleans is your place!

After we were married we moved to Indiana, that is where hubby is from. Only to turn right back around three months later to come back to New Orleans. What can I say...there's no place like home! There is something about the essence of this town that no one will every be able to truly understand unless you are here.

Let me just say to those who do not know...there is so much more to this town other than Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina. Yes, we may be a little yatty, but we have heart. A lot of it! If you need a shirt, you can be rest assured that there is someone willing to take one off of their back for you!!

Thank you Sara for letting me share my love for New Orleans! Geaux Saints!!

Keep It Classy, Jen


My 100th post- Let's GIVEAWAY some Blue Frog Chocolates... CONTEST!!

Can you believe it? This is my 100th post! What a milestone! So, in celebration, Blue Frog Chocolates, my favorite New Orleans chocolate and candy store, is giving away a box of their signature chocolates (just in time for Halloween) to a lucky News From NOLA reader!Here are the ways to enter (so you can essentially get three entries per person):

1)Go to Blue Frog Chocolates' website, check out all the cool New Orleans goodies and come back here to leave a comment as to which treats you can't resist.

2)Blog about my contest on your own blog and come back and leave a comment that you did so.

3)Sign up for email and/or RSS feed and leave a comment that you did so.

If you do not have your own blog, please make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. Winner will be picked randomly. Sorry, but winner must be Continental US resident.

All comments must be left by midnight CST November 1.

Good Luck and thanks to Blue Frog for their generous donation to the blogoshere!


Visiting the Grandparents in Baton Rouge

Two weekends ago, we made the trek up to Baton Rouge to see the Grandparents, Leenie, Grumps, and Abuelo. We had a great time and took some pics. We were at a roadside fruit stand looking for pumpkins when the Little Monkey grabs a pluot (a mix between a plum and an apricot) and just starts ripping into it like its an animal carcass. The juice was running down his arms and looked like blood! It got embarrassing so we had to take him into the parking lot. His whole outift was ruined but we were in hysterics at the site of him!

(October 2008)
We took the pic above at the Retirement community where LM's great-grandparents live and the picture is taken in the same spot we took the picture below exactly a year before. Always fun to see the difference a year makes!
(October 2007)


Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday and Big Monkey got it just right! In the morning, while I was in the shower, he strategically placed a small box on top of my towel and inside I found a wonderful pair of gold earrings from my favorite New Orleans jewelry store, Symmetry. I have been wanting some simple earrings I can wear everyday and these were perfect.

Then, for lunch, my dad drove up from Baton Rouge and took me and BM out to lunch at The Praline Connection. We all split a plate that had awesome fried chicken, gumbo, fried catfish, dirty rice, red beans, and bread pudding. It was delicious!
Then, for dinner, BM took me to one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans, Mat and Naddie's. It is in this little house right on River Road and has, literally, one of he best filet mignon's I've ever had. We sat outside and we were in luck, because our friend's trio, The Courtyard Kings, was playing that night.
The whole day was just wonderful and it made turning 33 that much less painful!


A Fall Bridal Shower to Remember!

It has been a very busy weekend here in the Monkey House. My cousin, Ellie, is getting married in January and we had planned to host a High Tea bridal shower for her on August 31, but alas, we were foiled by our friend, Hurricane Gustav, and due to the mandatory hurrication, it was not to be. So, troopers that we are, we regrouped and replanned, and came up with a fall coed shower theme. Here is the wording on the invitation:

The party was planned, invitations mailed
The tea was brewed, but everyone bailed.
Gustav rolled in so we must try again
And this time we'll honor Ellie AND Ben
Summer is gone and autumn is here
Out with the tea and in with the beer!

And, of course, some pictures for your viewing pleasure...


What in store for us with "Palin as President"?

The other day I was using my StumbleUpon navigation bar and came across the Palin As President webpage. Have you folks seen this? Although hilarious, the site may actually be giving us a realistic look into what the oval office might be like if Palin falls into the Presidency! Just randomly click on different items to watch what happens and Palin's reaction to it. Save the red phone until your last click!


Leanne Marshall - Project Runway Season 5 Winner!

Congrats to Leanne on her win tonight. I think this is one of the first seasons where there was a clear-cut winner. I thought Leanne's designs were innovative and beautiful the whole season through. She really had a vision and went with it.

I also would not have minded Korto winning. I thought her stuff was equally beautiful but not as fresh. Kenley, as I've said from the beginning, just makes me sick and I'm ecstatic that she not only got the boot, but got put in her place. Due to her attitude, I think she will go nowhere fast in life. (Am I pathetically way too involved!?)

Was anyone else watching?


Autumn is here and that means it's time to carve some pumpkins!

I love Fall in New Orleans. It is still pretty humid but the temperature falls into the high 70's and the evenings are breezy and great porchin' weather. Tonight was one of those nights. And take advantage of it, we did! We set up our pumpkin carving station and cranked out some beauties! Here are some pics of the revelry...

(A little racy, but too funny not to post!)(Getting down to the business of carving)(The finished product! Check out our ode to New Orleans with the fleur de lis pumpkins)


Looking for guest writers who love New Orleans...

Have you ever visited New Orleans? Do you live here? Do you love Jazzfest, the French Quarter, Cafe Du Monde, Mardi Gras?

If so, I want to have you as a guest writer on my blog to tell everyone what you love about the city. Include pictures, video, whatever your fancy!

If you like to write but don't have your own blog or are thinking about starting one and need some practice, this is a great way to get your words out there. Or just write an article and I'll link to your current blog.

Email me your article with attachments to newsfromnola (@) hotmail (dot) com. Let's share our love affair with New Orleans with the rest of the Blogosphere!


Way to go New Orleans Saints! Drew Brees is the man...

The Saints finally done us proud with their 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders. Here's a little Louie in their honor...


11:30 a.m. Diet Coke Break

Confessions of a Diet Coke Addict

My name is Sara and I'm a Diet Coke addict! I have at least one Caffeine Free Diet Coke at work almost everyday. Well, not only has Laura over at Confessions of a Diet Coke Addict recognized my vice, but she has actually rewarded me for it! I am officially the inaugural winner of the Diet Coke Addict of the Week Contest. Here are the details of the contest:

1) Leave a comment on her blog about how you are Diet Coke (or Coke Zero, etc) addict.
2) On Friday morning, she will pick a winner at random and will send the winner $4 via Pay Pal (which I received expeditiously!) to buy a 12 pack of Diet Coke.
3) The winner then has to send her a picture of themselves with their 12 pack and she will start a gallery of Diet Coke addicts.

Here is me and The Little Monkey's submission to the gallery:

In honor of not only my win, but also, my addiction, I leave you with an oldie but a goody. Remember that 1980's diet coke commercial with the ladies checking out the hot construction worker drinking his diet coke everyday at 11:30? Yeah, you remember, the beginnings of women's lib, right? Anyay, I found it on YouTube and it brought me back...

And, just for kicks, I found this spoof, which is pretty spiffy editing and good for a little chuckle!

So go check out Laura's blog, and if you, too, are a Diet Coke Addict, join her contest for next week.


Gut Yontif & Shanah Tovah

This evening begins Yom Kippur, the end of the High Holy Days for Jews.  This is a ten day period beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  It is a time for contemplation, repentance, and atonement for the preceding year and anticipation of the year to come. 

As I sat in services tonight, I reviewed the past year.  I've come to realize that I've just been through one of the most fulfilling and challenging years of my life.  I've settled into motherhood, watching my baby become a little boy.  I accomplished several goals I had set for myself... losing my baby weight, becoming a b'nai mitzvah (adult bat mitzvah), running my first 10k race, and being named "Woman of the Year" for my Jewish womens' group.  

But, this year has definitely not been without its challenges.  People have let me down and disappointed me and I'm sure I have done the same to others.  I have made some hard decisions this year.  Some decisions which have sometimes left me lonely and sometimes sad, but have been the right decisions.  I have learned a lot about what is important to me at this stage in my life and I think my family has grown closer for it.

While reading the prayerbook* tonight, several passages spoke to me and I thought I would share them with you.  

"Source of mercy, give us the grace to show forbearance to those who offend against us.  When the wrongs and injustices of others wound us, may our hearts not despair of human good.  May no trial, however severe, embitter our souls and destroy our trust.  When beset by trouble and sorrow, our mothers and fathers put on the armor of faith and fortitude.  May we too find strength to meet adversity with quiet courage and unshaken will.  Help us to understand that injustice and hate will not forever afflict the human race; that righteousness and mercy will triumph in the end."

And to those that I have wronged in some way within the last year, I apologize and will try to learn from my mistakes in the coming year.  

"For all those (sins), O god of Mercy (and to my family and friends), forgive me, pardon me, grant me atonement!"

So, even if you are not Jewish, while I sit in the sanctuary tomorrow, you might still take a moment to review your year and think how you might make the coming year just a bit better.  

*excerpts from the Gates of Repentance Prayerbook.


A case of Blogger's Block

Sorry, but I am having a total case of blogger's block. I literally can't think of anything to write about. I had a long, busy day at work... I got nothin'. I ate leftovers... I got nothing. I watched the debates... I got nothin'. I even looked up Google Trends to see what people are googling tonight... nothin'. So, I'm pretty boring. Hopefully I'll have more to say tomorrow. Good night!


Ohh...the joys of being a new mother!

Last Thursday, my blog post on "How to make a cheap chocolate chip cookie cake" was featured on the website www.ivillage.com (its not there anymore) and I got a ton of traffic from it. Well, Dana from Portland, Oregon actually took the time to email me a thank you for posting it. I thought that was so nice and we have been emailing back and forth since. She is a new mom of a beautiful 8 week old daughter. Yesterday, she sent me this email about how overwhelming it is to be a new mom. Here's what she wrote:

"All the new things I've learned! That yes, babies really do use 10-12 diapers a day (I thought my niece was exaggerating. Ha!). I understand why now babies take up a LOT of your time. I never knew there was a baby zone at the restaraunt until we got put there one evening dinner out. Who knew?? I went from eating every two hours, pregnant, to eating a Luna bar, granola bar, or banana for a meal. Not to mention we eat in shifts. 'Ok, you eat first while I hold the baby. when your done, I'll eat.' Oh, and how much I'd be using my left hand, and doing things one handed because baby was in the other. Multitasking--how I can rock the baby in her carrier with my foot while I'm eating out. New to me! Is any of this familiar to you?"

Isn't that so true about the restaurant?! I hate it when we are relegated to the "kid" zone. And we totally tag-team it while eating. Dinners out totally become a crap shoot with kids. So, here's to Dana! I'm sure she will get the hang of it soon... Just hang in there! They get a whole lot cuter at about 5 months. I've heard the cuteness begins to diminish when they start to talk, though. That's the next frontier for us!

In the meantime, here are some adorable pics of The Little Monkey's day at the park yesterday...


A true New Orleans wedding!

Congrats to our friends, Stinks and Sparkles, on their wedding last night. We had a great time and it was a beautiful event. It was New Orleans style all the way... starting Thursday night with a wonderful rehearsal dinner at Ralph's on the Park including New Orleans favorites, gumbo and bread pudding.
Followed by a fabulous Friday bridal luncheon at the famous Commander's Palace.
The bridal party headed to the church via a New Orleans tradition called the Second Line.

(No, it wasn't raining...Umbrellas are part of the Second Line tradition.)
And then we had a raucous good time at the reception right on the golf course at Audubon Park.
(That drumset is actually the groom's cake!! It was amazing. I've never seen anything like it. It was made by Flour Power Bakery in Chalmette and they outdid themselves!)(Me and Big Monkey painting the town red!)

The bride and groom jet off to Hawaii tomorrow and I hope they have a wonderful honeymoon.


My Fall TV line-up...

In the past three years, I have gone from being totally anti-technology (I didn't even have cable) to being a total DVR addict. These are the shows I'm hooked on this season:
Lipstick Jungle- This was great last season, but from the first two shows of this season, I'm a little disappointed. I'm hoping they can get it together and pull off some good upcoming episodes. Regardless, let's face it, as long as Kirby keeps taking his shirt off, I'm pretty much gonna watch it.Private Practice- I just saw this for the first time tonight and decided to put it on the DVR schedule. I never watched Grey's Anatomy and don't plan to start. I guess this is a spin-off, but it doesn't seem like you have to know GA to get it, so I'm in. And, well, Taye Diggs is hot, so I'm staying tuned in.
90210- Ok, this is one I'm actually embarrassed to admit made the DVR schedule. I only watched the old 90210 for a couple of seasons, but I am hooked on this new one. What can I say... you can never get enough of high school catfights, make-out sessions, drug use, and anorexic actresses. And, of course, the guy who plays Ty is a total cutie, and if he went to my high school, I would have totally been crushing on him.
Project Runway- An oldie, but a goodie. Tim Gunn can be my style guru anyday.
How I Met Your Mother- I just love this show. I think it is witty, and well written, and I genuinely care about the characters. I think it is this decade's "Friends". Barney Stinson is "Lengend"..wait for it... "dary"!
The Biggest Loser- Families- This show is so inspiring. I think there is probably a bit of smoke and mirrors going on here, but I also think there is obviously, a lot of hard work and life transformations too. Bob is pretty cool and he doesn't kick the shit out of them like Jillian!

So, next to the Big and Little Monkey, these are the men in my life! (Yes, I realize this is extremely sad.)

What shows are you watching that I need to check out?