Friday Finds (Take 2)

 

Our Crazy Buddy

Welcome back to my randomness… with Friday Finds, Take 2….Hope you all had a great week! We made it to almost-Friady. Yay! And I made it through February without a broken bone- double Yay! Our only February hick-up was that our dog ate sand at the beach and had to spend the night at the Emergency Animal Hospital. Fortunately, he is back to his crazy, jumping, kissing 10-year old self. 

Brunch Bowl @ Donkey

Donkey Taqueria- If you are visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan, or live within an hour radius of Grand Rapids, this restaurant is a must. It is my favorite restaurant. So much so that I always have fabulous intentions of trying one of the new eateries that keep popping up around the city but just cannot tear myself away from Donkey. I love being guaranteed great service, a delicious Paloma, and top-notch food. Every. Single. Time. Making it feel even more special is the fact that it forces you to just relax. You cannot call ahead (there isn’t a listed phone number), making you come to terms with the fact that you are just going to have to show up and go with the flow. If the wait is too long, we have always had good luck going across the street to Winchester for a pre-dinner drink. Donkey will just text you when your table is ready.

Lee and Birch– Looking for a different activity while you wait for your table? Just head up the street to Lee and Birch. I went in to just “check it out” and pretty much could have seen myself in all of the clothes in the store. It is small, which feels cozy and not too overwhelming. The sales people are pretty chill, helpful but not at all pushy.

Zing Zangs- This is an oldie but goodie. One of my brothers-in-law is our designated Bloody Mary guy and this is a favorite. Whenever he and my sister-in-law ask what they can bring, I always want them to bring the Bloody Mary’s. He did, however, share his secret, so now we can all make delicious Bloody’s. Zing Zangs has just the right amount of spice and thickness. It’s as much a staple at our family gatherings as ice cream cake, maybe even more so!

Barre 3 via You Tube- With all of this eating and drinking going on, I thought it only “fitting” that I throw in a workout too. I just discovered this tonight, and it is great! It is perfect for when, say, your stairclimber is covered in plastic and every item in your storage room is now in the family hangout room because you had/have a “vision” for your laundry/mudroom (insert teeth-clenched emoji here). Moving on… the You Tube sequence is about 40 minutes long and would actually be perfect for when you are traveling too (there are small weights involved, but, let’s be honest, I’m not using those at home either). I really found the instructors to be encouraging and saying everything I needed to hear throughout the workout. The sequences are really easy to follow, and since repetition is key, it’s fairly easy to stay on track.

Well, there you have it, my barely-travel-related Friday Finds. I’ll be back next week with the Island Interviews Series. You may have also noticed all of the beautiful beaches lately on my Instagram account.. stay tuned, a related post is coming next week too. 

**I have no more fun ways to say this, so just know… this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may be compensated. Thank you!

NOLA in 2 days

 

A while ago, my husband and I traveled to New Orleans. Frankly, I went along because it had been a long winter and I thought a little sunshine and warm weather would do my soul some good. It ended up being a high of somewhere around 50 degrees, and I was glad to have my sweater boots and an easily packable coat (turns out I didn’t end up packing it away as I had imagined) along. Nonetheless, it turns out that NOLA was just what I needed. Here are my top 5 activities in NOLA- if you’ve been, I’m sure none of them are too surprising but highly recommended nonetheless.

Hotel Monteleone- This was my first and only time in NOLA, so we haven’t stayed at any other hotels, but I would recommend this one for several reasons. One of the last family-owned and operated hotels in New Orleans, Hotel Monteleone has been run since 1886 by five generations of Monteleone’s. It is located on Royal Street in the French Quarter, making it an easy walk to fun restaurants, Bourbon Street, Cafe DuMonde, Jackson Square, the Mississippi River, the French Market, and Faulkner House Books among other places. Speaking of literary greats, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose, and John Grisham have been guests of Hotel Monteleone… just to name a few. In 1999, Hotel Monteleone was given the distinction of being an official literary landmark. Also impressive is the Carosel Bar in the hotel lobby. This 25-seat bar rotates around as you sip your cocktail. The bartenders must have really good facial recognition skills- how confusing!

Bourbon Street- Gotcha! We aren’t that fun!! But we did actually walk down Bourbon Street on our way to St. Peter Street to check out Pat O’Brien’s late one afternoon.  Pat O’Brien’s became a legit bar after the prohibition ended in 1933. The bartender convinced me I should try the famous Hurricane- it was delicious. And required a nap to follow.

Cafe DuMonde- You really can’t visit New Orleans without a trip to Cafe DuMonde. Established in 1862, the Original Cafe DuMonde is open 24-7. However, if you plan to go for a beignet and cafe au lait for breakfast (as we did) plan to spend some time in line. I’ll be honest, when we came to the front of the line, it was a little stressful because some people were being seated and some were seating themselves. Nonetheless, we ended up at a cute little two-person table and had the most delicious, warm beignets I had ever tasted. (My husband had been the day before and strongly recommended that we each order our own plate of beignets- no sharing and no counting calories when you are in beignet heaven!)

Jackson Square- We spent quite a bit of time in Jackson Square. I was in awe of the vast amount of talent in such a small space. The musicians were amazing and the artist colony produced some of the finest street art I had seen. Looking over all of this is the spectacular St. Louis Cathedral and to the side are the oldest apartments in the United States. Oh, and there is also a river named Mississippi nearby. 

Faulkner House Books- This quaint book shop is located just off of Jackson Square. It houses both fine literature and rare editions. It embodies what every book store truly should be and is worth a quick stop in.

French Market- It is also worth the short stroll down to the French Market. Once a Native American Trading Post (think 1700s), the French Market contains great restaurants and fun shopping- I think you could get almost anything in this 6-block eating and spending extravaganza.

Tulane- Yes! We did actually leave the French Quarter. Really for 2 reasons… First, we needed an excuse to ride the New Orleans Street Cars. Second, because we love checking out college campuses, even though our children are no where near college age. (It’s always good to get a head start though, isn’t it?) And, of course, this is where we picked up all of our gifts to bring home.

There you have it- two days in New Orleans. I would go back in a heart beat- what a lively and historical city!

(Sorry we didn’t have any restaurant recs. We ate at Red Fish the first night and loved it, only to find out that … you guessed it… it is a southern chain. We will keep trying!)

Oh, and in case you want to save this for future trips to NOLA, below is a good pic for pinning. And, if you are looking for more pins, don’t forget to check out my profile over on Pinterest.

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!