Travel

Last month over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, my mom, sister, and I took a girls trip down to New Orleans for a fun little getaway to warmer weather. We decided on New Orleans because none of us had been there yet and I’m always a yes person when it comes to places I haven’t yet been. Plus I was confident in my ability to eat my way through the city.

The weekend forecast was filled with high percentages of rain and clouds. We hoped and prayed for a non-rainy weekend and it ended up being sunny and gorgeous the entire time we were there. The weather was definitely on our side.

We stayed in an Airbnb in Broadmoor, a neighborhood just slightly north of downtown.

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Day 1:

On our first full day in New Orleans, we kicked things off at Elizabeth’s Restaurant for a Saint Patrick’s Day brunch. We ordered a bottle of champagne for mimosas, praline bacon to share, and all of the great southern cooking you can eat for brunch on a Saturday.

After brunch, we made our way over to the French Quarter to walk around and scope out the scene. I was most excited about seeing the old architecture and history of the city. The streets were adorned with street performers, bright colored beads, marching bands, and puddles of beer and liquor. It was just as I imagined and I loved it. I could’ve stared at the old shotgun houses with colorful shutters forever. We walked around the entire district at least twice after drinking a hand grenade each and were feeling pretty relaxed by late afternoon. ūüėČ

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new orleans

For dinner, we went to High Hat Cafe in the Freret neighborhood. I ordered house-made strawberry lemonade and catfish. My mom ordered the 1/2 chicken and my sister had the shrimp poboy. It was a nice, relaxing atmosphere with classic Louisiana fare.

Day 2:

On our second day in NOLA, we started the day off in the Garden District. First up was brunch at Another Broken Egg on Magazine Street. It was a gorgeous day so we sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the view of the street as people walked by. The food was amazing. I ordered the biscuits and gravy, my sister had the lobster and brie omelette, and my mom had the waffle sliders.

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After brunch we continued on down Magazine Street to explore the entire Garden District. This was probably my favorite area that we explored. There were so many adorable boutiques, record stores, salons, and cafes. I could also smell the flowers budding on the trees and plants all over. We made a stop into Sucré, a charming sweet shop with macarons, truffles, ice cream, and iced tea.

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new orleans

We continued to walk through the garden district for several hours just enjoying the sights and the beautiful weather.
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Eventually we made our way back over to the French Quarter for the ultimate tourist foodie experience at Caf√© du Monde. There was no way we’d get make it all the way down to New Orleans without having their famous beignets and chicory coffee. And let me tell you, they lived up to their hype. I wish I could get beignets this good in Nashville.

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new orleans

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For dinner we ate at Gumbo Shop for some traditional New Orleans sausage gumbo and a bottle of wine. Another perfect ending to a beautiful day in the south.

Day 3:

On our third day in New Orleans, we began our day with breakfast and lattes at Gracious Bakery. It was a perfect bakery with all the goodies from cinnamon rolls to breakfast sandwiches and savory croissants. I can say with confidence it made its way to one of the top 3 bakeries I’ve been to. The staff was also¬†so¬†lovely and they gave us all kinds of great local recommendations for place to visit. If I lived in New Orleans, this is where I’d spend a lot of my time, no doubt.

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After breakfast we made our way over to The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk to do some shopping and even paid a visit to the Harrah’s Casino.

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For lunch, we took the suggestion of the kind lady at the bakery and went to Parkway Tavern (which is Obama’s¬†favorite place¬†to get poboys!) I had the home-cooked hot roast beef with gravy poboy and it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. I also ordered the fried pickles and it was the largest order of fried pickles I’ve seen.

After our big lunch, we felt like going for a little drive around the city. My sister remembered that one Buzzfeed article about the abandoned amusement park outside of New Orleans that was completely wrecked from Hurricane Katrina and it brought back memories of the eerie photos I’d seen online. So we looked up the address of that old Six Flags and took a little trip to see how close we could get. The entrance is blocked off, but we were able to snap a few photos of the park from the highway. It was definitely a bit chilling to see in real life.

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Because we were so full from a late (and massive) lunch, we skipped dinner and went back to our Airbnb to rest from our big day. After a quick nap, I browsed online for some dessert places since I was having an intense chocolate craving (per usual.) I stumbled upon an article about Shake Therapy and as soon as I saw pictures of their gigantic and ornamental milkshakes, coaxed my mom and sister into going with me even though they weren’t hungry. In my book, there’s¬†always¬†room for dessert. So to Shake Therapy¬† we went.

shake therapy new orleans

shake therapy new orleans
It was time to head back home on Day 4, but before we went to the airport we made one final breakfast stop. We went to Riccobpno’s Panola Street Caf√© for some Huevos Rancheros. My mom and sister had a late morning flight, so I was stuck working remotely at the airport for several hours before I caught my flight back to Nashville in the late afternoon.
Our trip to New Orleans was one of my favorites. It was so great to all visit a place none of us had been to and we were thoroughly pleased with the culture, the music, the food, and the people. I highly recommend a vacation to New Orleans if you haven’t been (or even if you have.)

nashville blogger

Today I’m sharing a photo diary from last week’s Colorado trip.

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Steve and I took off on Wednesday morning (our anniversary) and landed in Denver in the afternoon. That evening, we headed to the NEEDTOBREATHE concert at Red Rocks with my cousin Katelyn (The Suitcase Blonde— check out her blog!) and her husband Alex. Katelyn and I got to experience this for the second year in a row, but we thought we’d bring our husbands along this time around.

colorado trip

The show was excellent, but NTB can do no wrong. They put on a flawless performance. What’s even better is the four of us got to go backstage during their encore since the bassist is my boss’s brother. PERKS! If you’ve ever been to Red Rocks, I’m sure you can understand how cool of an experience it would be to go backstage during a performance. We got to walk up the famous hidden tunnel where so many legendary artists have been and signed their names. It was a pretty epic moment.

colorado trip

The next day Katelyn and I headed downtown for a cousin photoshoot. It was just like the old days when we used to blog together at Relatively Offbeat. It felt good to be doing photos together again. We visited Hudson Hill Coffee and got iced almond milk lattes before getting some photos outside in the sweltering heat.

colorado tripAfter our photoshoot, Katelyn and I headed to downtown Boulder to do some shopping and have lunch at Bartaco. I can’t stay away from that place, even on vacation. It’s the best. We walked around the Pearl Street Mall and holy cow, that town is adorable! I loved the charming shopping district vibes surrounded by gigantic mountains in the background.

colorado tripcolorado tripcolorado tripcolorado tripcolorado tripWhen we returned back to Denver (after a mishap with Katelyn almost losing her car keys, haha!), we made a stop at the Denver Athletic Club to watch Alex play a squash tournament before grabbing dinner. On Friday, we grabbed breakfast at Snooze and headed out for a 2 and a half hour drive to Glenwood Springs. When we arrived, we got settled into our room, changed, and took off to Iron Mountain Hot Springs which was right alongside the Colorado river.

colorado tripOn Saturday morning we traveled 1 hour southeast to Aspen so we could check out the Maroon Bells. It was absolutely breathtaking, even with the fog and hail that was coming down when we finally made it to the highlands. It was the most bizarre weather but everything was so beautiful. I’m glad we made the trip because it is just one of those places you have to see in person to truly capture the beauty.

maroon bells colorado tripmaroon bells colorado tripcolorado tripIt was an incredible Colorado trip and we look forward to going back again sometime soon. It’s so great having cousins that we can visit and stay with. Katelyn and Alex are always such a good time and we’re grateful that they were able to show us so many amazing sites.

Stay tuned for more soon!

nashville blogger

This past weekend, Steve and I packed our bags and headed to Asheville, North Carolina for a much needed weekend getaway. We stayed in an Airbnb in West Asheville that was actually gifted to me for achieving our quarterly goals at my job. It’s good to know hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and that Steve and I get to enjoy the benefits of my job together from time to time. We had the option to pick any city we’d like to visit that was drive-able within a weekend, and Asheville had been on our list for quite some time since we both wanted to see The Biltmore and we enjoy craft beer. It was a no-brainer when the opportunity presented itself.

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Continue reading Travel Diaries: Asheville, North Carolina

Last Saturday, while my cousins Katelyn and Alex were in town, we took a day trip to Lynchburg, Tennessee to explore, taste wine, eat southern comfort food, and sample all of the Jack Daniel’s whiskey we could stomach. We loaded up the car, grabbed some iced coffee on our way out of Nashville, and headed to¬†Lynchburg, located in Moore County (a dry county). Yeah, you read that right, a dry county.

lynchburg, tennessee

We arrived into town a little early and had some time to kill before our lunch reservation, so when we passed a sign for Lynchburg Winery, we knew we had to check it out. So we kicked off our day in Lynchburg with some wine.
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Since Alex was in Nashville for a few weeks working at the Union Station Hotel, he was given a group VIP tour of Jack Daniel’s Distillery which included a delicious and darling lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House beforehand. This restaurant was incredible. We checked in with the hostess and waited on the front porch for our guide, Emily, to take us to one of the upstairs dining rooms to where she hosted our entire meal. The building holds several dining rooms where groups have communal dinners where you pass plates around and serve yourselves southern cuisine.
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After our unforgettable experience at lunch, we took a short stroll over to Jack Daniel’s distillery to begin our tour. This is the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and we celebrated by having some for ourselves.

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jack daniel's 150th
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One of the “secret ingredients” in Jack’s famous Tennessee whiskey is the natural limestone spring water that comes directly from his very own natural spring. Cave Spring Hollow is Lynchburg‚Äôs greatest natural resource. It stays at a crisp, cool, and a constant 56-degrees all year-round.
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We had so much learning about the history of Jack Daniel, his family, and his legacy. We learned about the filtering process, the charcoal mellowing, the mash recipe, the oak barrels, and so much more. We especially enjoyed tasting 5 different types of whiskey. We even grabbed a bottle of Gentleman Jack and had it engraved to commemorate Steve’s single “Where There’s Smoke There’s Whiskey” this year, the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniel’s.
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We had the most amazing day together. Special thanks to Alex for letting us tag along and enjoy your work perks. ūüėČ

laura

A few weeks¬†ago¬†we had our company’s quarterly off-site¬†held in Salt Lake City, Utah. [Side note: I work from a super awesome company called Self-Publishing School and we’re all remote workers from across the country. We teach people how to write, publish, and market their own bestselling books.] Every quarter, we vote on a different city to host our off-site so that we can have the opportunity to explore new places and come together for 5 days to be productive and knock out some major business plans. I was really excited to have this off-site in SLC because I had never been there before and wanted to spend as much time outside in the beautiful mountains as possible before it got too cold.
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When my plane arrived in SLC on Wednesday, I couldn’t believe how close the mountains were to the airport. There is so much beauty as soon as you step off the plane. We stayed in a large Airbnb home¬†in Holladay, which is about 20 minutes from the airport and even closer to the beautiful snowcapped mountains.

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Thursday and Friday were complete workdays, so we got a lot of things done together as a management team. On Friday evening, we headed to the Mystery Escape Room in downtown Salt Lake City. Our challenge¬†was “Dr. Frankenstein’s Haunted Escape” which only ¬†had a 14% success rate. We made it out! I have to admit that we have a pretty solid group of smarties.

self-publishing school

After our genius grand escape from Dr. Frankenstein’s room, we walked across the street to ‘Bout Time Pub & Grub to grab some eats, play some pool, and watch some football.

Saturday morning, we put in a few hours of work and then headed outside to get some fresh air and take in some views of Utah. The girls took one car to the scenic trail at Big Cottonwood Canyon while the guys went out searching for hiking trails. The drive through Big Cottonwood Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful and we made several stops to get out, stretch our legs, and snap some photos. We even drove up high enough to be surrounded by snow on the ground.

img_7542¬†It was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
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After we finished driving the scenic trail, we took a drive to the Sugarhouse neighborhood. We made a pit stop at Sugarhouse Coffee before heading back to the house to reconvene for the evening. They make a mean hazelnut latte.
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We spent the remainder of our last night eating wings, drinking beer, and playing laser tag. It was a short but sweet stay in SLC and I will definitely be back to take in the views with Steve sometime soon. I loved it there.

Laura