Sunday

Closet Refresh Part 2

Assuming you have already read Closet refresh part one, and are prepped for the job ahead, and yes I am going to call it a "job" becuase lets be honest us it is a tall task- especially if you are embarking on it after sometime. Let's rump into the actual assessment. 

  • Set up an area for keep, donate, sell, alter/update and trash/recycle. Some will tell you to use bags, I like to use piles so I can access what I am putting in each along the way. I also like to have a pad of paper and one side is shopping list/ the other alterations
  • Start with a sort pulling out items that you "LOVE" the go to items that you wear on repeat, and wish you had bought two of. Access these items, are they in good condition, will they be something you will continue to wear net season? As yourself if I could only keep 10/15 things from my closet to wear on repeat what would those be?- these are the items you keep and can place back into your closet
  • Now we move to the remainder of the items in your closet using some questions to guide you. 
    • When accessing occasion items - honestly ask yourself- Will I wear it again? I find this works better than the age old question of "Have I worn it in the last 6 months" Meaning that black dress you bought for a gala, that still fits, but it is sitting in your closet is a timely dress and would work well for a future wedding or charity event.  So keep it. On the flip side if you find yourself thinking "this dress would work if I loose weight" or "it doesn't really fit great, but ___ event was a blast, and I received complements on the dress " that is a no go.. place the dress in a sell/donate pile
    • When accessing the day to day.. try on the garments you are unsure of and ask yourself. 
      • Does this garment feel good on me? 
      • Do I receive compliments on this item? 
      • Is it comfortable? 
      •  if you are like me and own several similar items - is the most flattering/best quality of the xx number of black sweaters I own.. 
      • What is the cost of upkeep of this item. Meaning does it require regular dry cleaning? is it worth it? Sometimes the effort of hand washing/price of dry cleaning  is simply not worth it. Note I use this filter for my day to day clothing, and not for occasion items. 
Ok you have gotten thru the hardest part and by now likely have significant piles of keep, sell/donate, tailor/update & recycle/trash....  Things to think about to further assess each file. 
  • KEEP- does each item in the keep pile coordinate with 2-3 other garment in your closet, or will they require you to add items to your shop list? If you can think I would wear this skirt with xy&z then it is still a keep. 
  • Sentimental/must keep but won't wear items- Set a limit for yourself. for me it is one plastic tub for my husband and I- in the tub we have my high school letter jacket, cheer uniform, my husbands late dads army jacket, etc, etc. When accessing if I need to keep an item I think would a photo work? What will I do with the item in the future? etc. Only you can set this boundries for yourself. My advice is to focus on the sentimental importance of the item, and not look at cost of the garment. Meaning that pricey Tiffany necklace I received for high school graduation. While I could argue I need to keep it, it is a go- I have photos with the item, but my tastes have changed and it is now collecting dust- it could have a new life in rotation in another persons wardorbe.. 
  • CANT DECIDE- you can access this two ways. I typically will hang the item back in my closet on  a backwards hanger. Personally setting an "expiration date" for the item. Meaning if I wear it and place it back in my closet within 6 months the hanger will go back to normal and it is a keep - added to the rotation of my wardrobe. If 6 month comes and it is still hanging on that backwards hanger it is a go no questions asked. 
    • I have also had friends place a twisty tie on the hanger with an actually expiration date 
Sell/ Donate/Recycle 
  • Sell- I am a big fan of uploading items in good quality to Tradsey, not only does this allow me to get a few bucks back from my purchases, I can then use the money towards purchasing new items for my closet. I only upload new and/or gently used items to my closet. I like the site as it allows me to upload various photos of each item and include a description. The site allows me to set the price, but does suggest one based off price paid, and other similar items listed. Once sold the site allows me to ship the item with a printable label or allows me to have a shipping kit sent to me for use complete with label, box/bag, etc. I receive 91% of the purchase as site credit. I can also choose to withdraw 88% of the purchase price to my checking account. 
    • There are a few other sites some of my friends use 
      • Poshmark- This has more users than Tradsey. But only gives 80% of sales on items more than $15 & takes $2.95 on items less than $15. Since the madjority of what I sell is over $15 I didn't find this to be as beneficial. 
      • TheRealReal - I have not sold on this site, but have purchased from it. You send your item to the company, they photograph and price, and list. They take 60% of the sale. This is a site for designer clothes/bags, etc. 
      • Ebay, Thredup are two that I have minimal experience with but are also good options. 
  •  Donate-
    • I suggest donating to a charity you have researched or support. I personally donate to the local Refuge House, a shelter and agency for victims of domestic violence and there families.
    • If you have items that are not in good condition you can drop them at your local Goodwill and label them recyle. They will sell them off to a textile recycler who will give the fibers a new life in a different form (think insulation, or carpet padding) Let the person know at drop off that the items aren't good for resale. 
    • Old Shoes- I drop mine at a Nike store. you can bring up to 10 pairs at a time and drop them at the store. They will take the rubber and fabric from the shoes and use it for playground surfaces or recycled Nike shoes. Learn more about the program here

Saturday

Closet Refresh - part one....

Having worked in retail for the past 17 years, I often get asked about the staple pieces one should have in their wardrobe, what what I suggest for cleaning/purging of ones closet.

My honest opinion, is most people often already own great basics, and have a grasp on the pieces and fits that work best for them; the issue is the challenge is to find those pieces amongst the stuff that you "kinda like." I have found that consumers often purchase pieces that "kinda of work" becuase they are a "bargain" and then they have trouble pruging those items due to the fact they spent their hard earned money on those items. Truth be told I aim to use the filter of quality over quantity in my shopping. I find that quality will last longer than the shock of the price.

So let's get started on my process of wardrobe purging. I am to complete a major closet purge twice a year. Typically July/August after spring summer, and then again in January/February after fall/winter. I aim to keep items I truly love, and that work for me. From there I sell items that are not working on Tradesy. You can shop my closet from the prior link, and if you are looking to join click here, by signing up thru the link you will receive a  $20 shop credit (pending time of signing up, as this post will live past the promotion)

Set yourself up for success..
  • Open mind- you have to be open to the process, and enter knowing you will be purging and that the goal is not to keep everything. We must let some of the emotional attachment to items go, and only keep pieces that are right for our body and overall wardrobe
  • Full length mirror- This one is a biggie for me. In an effort to be honest with ourselves we must often try on some of our garments to see how they fit, are they flattering, etc. 
  • Nude undergarments- ok this goes with the above. I suggest wearing your most basic undergarments the day of the purge so when trying on pieces, you don't find yourself, defaulting to well if I was wearing a different bra, or I can't tell with these floral panties.. etc 
  • A plan!- I suggest doing the closet one day, the dresser one day, and then shoes, bags, and accessories on another day. Some people suggest doing it all in one day, but truly I find that overwhelming, and find that when I do it all in one day I tend to get rid of less.. 
    • in addition to the above plan. It is important to do all of a category at once. I start with dresses, move to skirts, then tops, sweaters, etc. If you are one that keeps items in more than one closet or dresser- you will want to pull everything out and arrange by category so you can get the full picture of what you actually own/need. This allows you too access things individually ie: How many black dresses do I need? Why do I own xx number of black sweaters, etc.  
  • Last but not least someone to keep you honest. This can be a friend or spouse who will join you for the process, or who will check in with you during the process to check in. This person can assist with an honest opinion, a positive attitude and even a glass of wine along the way. This person should be someone whose opinion you value and who understands your sense of style.. 

Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole


Chris and I embarked on a roadtrip adventure of MN, SD, ND, WY, MT, NE & ID and my upcoming posts will highlight our adventures thru these states, and share some of our favorites stops, sites and of course food options!


Named for the largest of its three signature peaks, Grand Teton National Park also contains lakes, forest and a section of the Snake River. In my opinion, Grant Teton is one of, if not the most striking and memorable locations I have visited in the United states thus far. At every turn there is a picturesque landscape, and I found myself overwhelmed with images I could look at for years to come.

Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming; north of the town of Jackson, Wyoming and south of Yellowstone National Park. Route suggestions are given on the website from Salt Lake City and Denver, along with shuttle service information and a list of nearby airports. We entered from Yellowstone, and due to road closures entered late at night.

Where to stay: 
 Grand Teton offers various options for those wanted to stay in the park. There are also multiple hotel options just outside the park. I recommend Hotel Terra in Jackson, Wyoming. We were able to find a great price online prior to visiting.


Why we loved it: The hotel is eco-hotel is LEED certified & they make it easy for guests to "go green as well" They offered great service, and were conveniently located to everything we wanted to see/do. The hotel had a great spa, spacious rooms, soaking tubs and C enjoyed the technology features- such as the interactive screen in each room.


Places to eat:
Spur Restaurant & Bar- welcoming fireplace, a lively bar, and free-range meat options!
Mangy Moose- great patio, eclectic vibe, we went for dinner 
Rendez-vous Bistro- the grilled Ahi tuna was amazing as were they lettuce wraps. They have a  varied menu, and we could see why the hotel suggested this as a local favorite.
Snake River Brewery & Restaurant - we went for a beer, and stayed for dinner. We both opt'd for wood fired pizzas but they also have pastas, sandwiches, soups, &  salads.

Things to do:
Jackson Hole offered a ton to do in the winter, and we look forward to going back in the summer to check out the farmer’s market (Saturday mornings) the weekly live concerts (held at the Snow King resort, and the Jackson Hole Rodeo (every Saturday and Wednesday evening)


The town square offers shopping, nightlife, and dinning. Jackson Hole is known as a home to some of the nation's best wildlife, and I already mentioned the views in the park- In my option the prior lends itself to amazing local artwork & photography. Chris and I spend hours wandering thru the galleries & spend a considerable amount of time at the National Museum of Wildlife Art (I am still wishing we bought a few pieces for the cabin)

On my  list for our next visit:
National Elk Refuge,
The Grand Teton Music Festival or Concert at Walk Festival Hall
summer visit- a hot air balloon ride, or horse back tour of Grand Teton & surrounding areas
Winter visit- a snowshoe/snowmobiling/dogsledding adventure

all of the above have various options for tours and rentals..

More on Grand Teton:

To be candid the weather conditions on our trip didn't allow for us to do a ton in the park other than hike (and we were ok with that knowing we would be back) The snow allowed for us to capture some truly beautiful images, engage in a snowball fight, craft mini-snowmen, and hike while staying cool!


We are already planning our next trip back, and thanks to the Park Activites & Park Calendar , we are looking forward to many of the things the park has to offer.


For those that have been.. do you have a favorite time to visit? Do you have things we need to add to our to do list when we return? Do you have any favorite restaurants?

50 before 50 -Visit the States Project!



For those who have followed me on Insta for sometime, you know the Mister and I have embarked on a quest to visit all 50 states together before we reach 50. (we are both very close individually as well) Some of our trips are to individual states, while others are grand adventure type trips where we work to conquer several states at a time. No for those asking to we have rules that we must follow for a trip to count- of course!

1. You must spend 48 hours in the state
2. You must have one sleep in the state
3. Layovers of anykind do not count as time spent in the state
4. You must have 2 meals in the state.

No bear in mind the above are the minimums and may of our trips are days or even weeks in a state as we strive to truly see and experience all that the state has to offer. We also strive to never try to "do it all" while we are there, traveling with the mentality that we will be back.

We will reach 40 states together this summer, and as we work to nail down plans for our final 10, and talk to friends, family and even those we meet at work we are finding more and more people are interested in our travels. Where have we been? Where are we planning to go? Where are our favorite spots? Where would we go back? We have even been asked to help plan trips for friends/strangers and have gladly accepted (it is like virtually traveling back to location) But we  I got to thinking why not share our travels on the blog, and take my readers along with us on our travels......

I would also love to hear from you. What are your favorite travel spots? Where are your favorite restaurants? hotels? etc...

Monday

The Flower Workshop


If you follow me on instagram, you know I have a love of flowers!  I always say, I would have fresh flowers in every room, every day if I won the lottery! If you have been following for a while, you know that I sometimes help out at a friends flower shop, Hilly Fields Florist.

With the prior stated, it will come as no surprise that when I was asked if I wanted to review a book titled, The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials, by Riella Chezar, I jumped at the opportunity! I have thoroughly enjoyed flipping thru each and every page of this book, and can't wait to have the time to give some of the arrangements/wreaths a try!

RIELLA CHEZAR is the author of Flowers for the Table and a master floral designer whose work has graced the covers and pages of Martha Stewart Living, O Magazine, Smitten, Sunset, Garden Design, Better Homes and Gardens, Domino, Real Simple, Sweet Paul, and many more. She is a teacher at FlowerSchool New York and has designed flower arrangements for the White House. You can read more about her work at www.ariellaflowers.com. I am truly inspired by her beautiful works.

So far some of my favorites that I have dog-eared to try are below. When I give them a try I will  be sure to post.. But until then, I will just glance at these photos to remind myself I need to carve out time to give them a try- becuase they sure our beautiful! 

ps. I am thinking the wreath is totally doable for a summer party , and that tablescape is just divine for a bridal shower!




Note photos in this post are Reprinted with permission from The Flower Workshop, by Ariella Chezar with Julie Michaels, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Erin Kunkel

I was compensated with a free copy of the book in exchange for this post but the views are all my own.  
 

Tuesday

New Years Resolutions & 2015 Relfections..


Each January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later, a 2002 study found. (says google at least) So why make the resolutions in the first place? Good intentions? jumping on the band wagon? or perhaps "becuase we are supposed to"

Rather than resolutions I tent to make goals of for the year.. Typically I do these on my birthday, taking time to reflect on things I'd like to accomplish, try, or start before my next birthday... This year life was crazy busy, and I didn't carve out that time to reflect, so here I sit a few days into the near year carving out time to jot down goals... I however, find myself reflecting back on 2015, and all the blessings in my life..

I was able to kick off my volunteering year with a trip to the beach to host a retreat! I feel blessed to entire my 10th year advising Alpha Chi Omega at FSU. I can't believe it has been a DECADE.. (that makes me feel old) Following the retreat, the mister suprised me and showed up to help back up my car, and brought the pup along for a short walk on the beach and lunch before returning home.  (blessing - found a passion I enjoy-volunteering! double blessing-I have a husband who is supportive of my volunteering)

I was humbled to be recognized by the local Refuge House for my volunteering with them. Truly I was in shock, I showed up to an event to support and volunteer and the net thing you know they were handing me a plaque (blessing- being able to support those in need! double blessing- being recognized for my efforts)

I was able to travel to a work conference in Vegas, and the mister joined me for 2 days and we saw Britney Spears (ok some might not call that second part a blessing) But for me I feel blessed each and every day for working for a company that I believe in, and a company that values me, believes in me, and continues to invest in me.. .and yes I also feel blessed I was able to see B Spears perform again, and that my husband went with me (yes I know I owe him)

I was able to host several events at my home to celebrate friends, my favorite was this Monogram & Mimosa shower,  each event was unique. But each event was a celebration on a milestone! I am thankful to have a house, the mister and I have made a home, and blessed to be able to make it our own each and every day!

Nothing brought this feeling of being blessed more home, than the volunteer work I was able to do this year in my hometown on New Orleans. First I was selected to attend Alpha Chi Omega's Global Service Initiatives project with Collegians traveling to Jamacia and alumnae to New Orleans. I blogged about the adventure here, here, and here. The event was amazing. I was able to connect with women across the country from various chapters, and of various ages to give back to a community that is close to my heart! I was also able to return to NOLA for the Katrina 10 project leading 250+ volunteers in a day of service in the city!

In 2015, I watched my brother in law get married, was a day of wedding planner for 5 weddings, saw my god children, collegiate friends, and family! I traveled to LA to see Ellen and go to Disneyland with C, and travel to Cashiers for a week getway with C... The holidays were busy as always with work, my birthday and Christmas, and this year I layered in a trip to NY with my dad to celebrate the death of my Grandma...

Wowzer, what a year! I have so many blessings in my life, my cup runs over.. Family, Friends and Health. Travel, work and fun! 2015 was quite a year! and those 34th year goals- well I did pretty well on them! So tonight, I go to bed thankful for a full year and happy heart! Goal setting will have to wait until tomorrow!

Saturday

Ted's Montana Grill ..

With the New Year approaching, C and I made some resolutions. One of our resolutions was to eat healthier and more adventurous. While I am not the biggest meat eater, the mister is, so I challenged him to switch beef for bison when possible. Bison is a  lean, nutritious protein.

So when I was asked by Ted’s Montana Grill if I'd like to try their new menu, the answer was of course a yes! Their menu offers hearty classics prepared with bison to revive authentic American entrees with classic comfort food like Karen’s “Flying-D” Bison Chili, Bison Meatloaf, or a classic burger.

So we made a reservation and headed to Ted's in Tallahassee.  We nearly rescheduled, as the weather turned cold and raining, but with crazy Holiday work schedules for the mister and I, we opt'd to brave the weather.  In route C was contacted by a highschool friend whom we invited to join.  We skipped a traditional appetizer to give the Flying- D Bison Chili and try. We got caught up in catching up and forgot to take a proper photo (blogger mistake) but Chris did capture this instagram photo. The Chili was just what we needed to warm up after braving the elements to get to dinner. 

When it came time for the entree. I went with a classic bison burger with fresh cut fries. The entree was filling, so filling I opt'd out of dessert. A good problem to have I'd say! C was ecstatic that they had a bison meatloaf on the menu (he is a sucker for meatloaf) He opt'd for a side of broccoli and mashed potatoes, and raved on how delicious his meal was!

As always holds true at the Tallahassee Ted's, we had great service, a knowledgeable server and delicious food. C and I also discovered that Ted's has a Nutrition Calculator online, and had fun planning around with that. While Ted's graciously picked up the tab for our meal in exchange for this post. I can tell you that we will be back in 2016!




Monday

Supporting DVA_ domestic violence awareness



This post is a late coming, but one that I had to give a ton of thought.
I was recently recognized by the local Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence, Refuge House for my support of the shelter. The recognition came as a total shock, and I was and am still humbled by the recognition. I share not for congratulatory wishes but in the hopes that I will in someway inspire others to give back in their own way to causes important to them.

 I had worked a full day and rushed across town to the Alpha Chi Omega chapter house to support the ladies at their Annual Pizza Pie With Alpha Chi Event raising funds for the shelter. Following typically protocol at such events, the ladies silenced the room to thank guests for coming and invited the Refuge House Director of Development to speak. When she asked that I join her at the front of the room, I truly went thinking she would ask me to hold something while she presented. the thought that she would be presenting to me never crossed my mind. She started talking and explaining the support they had received, and still nothing, and then she said my name- I was shocked, humbled and honored...

I share this for several reasons.
1. I at times wonder if my volunteering makes a difference. Volunteering can be an added item to an already busy calendar, but the answer is a simple YES. If you follow me on Instagram, you might of noticed the #hashtag #EveryDifferenceMakesADifference I committed to using this hashtag each time I volunteered in 2015, thus I can always look back and over time see the magnitude of the impact of volunteering. 

2. Be the Change you Wish to See in the World. As someone who works with and volunteers with collegians on a regular basis, I feel it is important to be a role model for them. My mom was and continues to be this role model for me. As I have grown my friend, co-workers and fellow Alpha Chi Omega Sisters continue to inspire me. For collegians to see me giving back is important. I strive to never ask others to do something I wouldn't do myself. And I am humbled that the Chapter, friends, and family continually not only support my volunteering efforts, but join them... 

3. This is an issue I BELIEVE IN.  When looking to volunteer it is important to pick a cause you are passionate about, a cause you are committed to, your passion with shine thru in all you do. (or at least that is the goal) As a volunteer who works with collegiate women. I know the statistics of Domestic Violence all to much. (The following statistics were taken from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2007)
  • 53% of victims of domestic violence were abused by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner.  32% experienced dating violence by a pervious partner.
  • 13% of college women report they were forced to have sex by a dating partner.
  • Among college students who were sexually assaulted, 35% of attempted rapes occurred on dates, 22% of threatened rapes occurred on dates, and 12% of completed rapes occurred on dates.
  • 60% of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
  • Over 13% of college women report they have been stalked.  Of these, 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
  • Nearly one third of college students report having physically assaulted a dating partner in the previous 12 months (Break the Cycle, Inc., 2005).
  • As many as one quarter of female students experience sexual assault over the course of their college career (Break the Cycle, Inc., 2005).
  • Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker (Break the Cycle, Inc., 2005).
I can't read those statistics and be a bystander.
College students face a variety of obstacles in accessing services that may assist them in escaping an abusive relationship, or an an abusive situation. With that being said I strive to be a resource and to provide resources both for the shelter, and for the collegians I come in contact with.
  • Students may feel isolated from their personal support networks- I strive to be that support
  • Students may fear their parents finding out- I strive to give them the support/resources their parents would want to provide them, and strive to give them the strength to tell their parents when appropriate
  • students cannot afford supportive service. I connect with with campus resources
  • students may not define their experience as abusive- I strive to educate on healthy relationships, and to be a role model in my own relationships. 
  • students feel trapped by the social networks- I strive to provide networking opportunities
In my opinion nothing I do is "groundbreaking" or "new" and until now I didn't view anything I did as "noteworthy" I looked at the things I did as my duty. I know that to the world I may just be one person, but I have learned that to that one person I may be the world..

I share to thank Lindsey and the Refuge House for recognizing my efforts. 
I share in hopes of inspiring others to recognize that #EveryDifferenceMakesADifferece
I share in hope of inspiring others to follow their passion
I share to shed light on Domestic Violence
I share in hopes of touching someone and that someone touching someone and so on, and together we can effect change! 


If you want to learn more about the local Refuge House click here
If you are are a victim of Domestic Violence and need help visit here 

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 instead of clicking the links above


Sunday

Travel... Going back to Nola- French Quarter Edition

New Orleans is my hometown....
It is my heart, and the city has a resilience and a vibrant culture that is all it's own!

I have been blessed with several opportunities to return to the city this year...

First for the Alumnae Global Services Initiatives trip with Alpha Chi Omega Women's Fraternity.
I blogged about my adventures here, here, and  here.

Then I was able to meet the Mister, in the city for a short weekend get away, as he ventured to NOLA for a fraternity brothers wedding, and I flew in to meet him after to spend sometime in the city....

And this July, I went back to New Orleans to volunteer for the Katrina10 initiative. I organized a group of Gap Inc Volunteers to contribute time and talents at a local charter school. It was wonderful to give back to a city that holds a piece of my heart surrounded by co-workers. (more on that in another post) 
Why do I mention all of the above? Well, I keep getting asked my "must do" list for the city by family and friends. I am going to break this down into multiple posts.. I am going to start in the French Quarter with some of my favorite locations.. becuase there is more to the Quarter than daiquiri's at Fat Tuesday's, having a hurricane at Pat O'Brien's (I prefer the Bloody Mary above) or a hand grenade at Tropical Isle. Those these are all quintessential tourist stops. 

So what are my favorites.... 
If you follow my on Intsagram, some of these will not be a surprise as I post about then nearly every trip.
1. Cafe Pantalba- ok this one is special for a few reasons. History. Location. Food. Sentimental. 
History- The building was designed by the Baroness Pontalba in the 1800s. They were originally built as row houses, & later turned into luxury apartments. the Pontalba Buildings are known as the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. (fun fact the current Mayor and his family live above the restaurant) Cafe Pontalba pays homage to both the history of the buildings and to the food NOLA is known for.
Location- historic Jackson Square, 546 St. Peter. Grab a seat, and enjoy the large open windows/doors. I could people watch for hours from this location. You can see the locals, tourists, and artists in the square and if you are lucky will enjoy some local music. 
Food-  They specialize in Creole dishes like Shrimp Creole, crawfish etouffee, and Creole Red Beans and Rice. The restaurant also has great salads, pasta and PoBoys. I usually find myself having etoufee or jambalaya.
Sentimental- My mom worked at the restaurant in the 70's (before I was in the picture) Back then the only worked for tips, and it was well worth it according to her.

2. Jackson Square/St. Louis Cathedral- night or day this is one of the most picturesque places in the quarter. Technically , Jackson Square in a historic park.  It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as one of America’s Great Public Spaces. But to me it is more than a park, it where tourists, locals and artists come together to showcase some of the things that set New Orleans apart. On any given day you can enjoy great food, amazing art, the sounds of local musicians all while taking in a historical landmark.During daylight savings time it's open from 8am to 7pm. During winter, it's open from 8am to 6pm.

St. Louis Cathedral - The history of the Cathedral dates back to the 1720's, you can learn more about it here. It is truly beautiful, if you have the time take the self guided tour for a minimum donation of $1, or if you can plan ahead attend mass! 

3. Johnny PoBoys- If you ask anyone from New Orleans everyone will tell you their "favorite" or the "best" PoBoy spot.. And while yes some are better than others, most preferences are based on a memory or an experience. For me Johnnys PoBoys is my go to, and I visit EVERY time I am in the city.  The reason why is simple, my first trip back to Nola as an "adult" was in January of '00 and I called my dad and asked for a list of places to go (he might not remember that conversation, but I still have the scrap of paper I scribbled down notes on being sure to take in every detail)  I was excited to be sharing my hometown with sorority sisters and friends as we ventured back for the FSU National Championship game. Not only do I always visit Johnnys, I always order the same thing. A Dixie Beer, Blacked Chicken PoBoy and Zapps BBQ Chips. Johnnys is located at 511 St Louis St. They only take cash, and there is often a line to the end of the street but it is well worth it. You can learn more about Johnnys by visiting their website. I gasp to share another PoBoy spot, but I would be remiss, if I didn't share Mothers PoBoys. I have only been once. It is located in the Warehouse District, 401 Poydras. but it is a favorite for tourists...
4. Frechmans Art Market- located at 619 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116. The market is open Thursday - Saturday 7pm-1am. Here is the link to the page, be sure to check hours before you make the trip. It is the only nighttime art market in Nola. It has local artists, musicians, and jewelry.

and some of my other favorites.....
5. CafĂ© Du Monde:  For beignets and coffee. Yes this is a quintessential Nola stop, but well worth it, and since it is open 24/7 (only closes for Christmas and major Hurricanes) you have no excuse not to visit. 813 Decatur St. right by Jackson Square. Grab a table and wait for service. Order up beingets (Beignets are square French -style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar.) and a coffee. Note the coffee is dark roasted with chicory and is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Truly one must visit and experience- after all the Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market... so it must be good if it is still open today!!  
6. Central Grocery:  Famous Muffuletta sandwiches,  923 Decatur St.
7. Port of Call:  STRONG drinks. Great burgers, on the outskirts of the French Quarter, 838 Esplanade Ave (can be a bit dicey of a neighborhood)
8. WW II Museum- it is on 945 Magazine Street. You can buy tickets online or at the museum. It is an incredible museum. Of course I am bias b/c my dad installed the lights, sound, videos, interactive displays etc. But all bias aside check it out- you won't regret it.
9. Emeril’s New Orleans:  If you want to do an Emeril’s restaurant, Warehouse District, 800 Tchoupitoulas St. (pronounced: Chop-i-too-lus)
10. Deanie’s seafood: 841 Iberville St check out the menu here
11. Antoine's 713 St. Louis Street. They have a great Oyster Rockefeller and an amazing Sunday Brunch
12. Drago's they have great charboiled oysters. Check out there menu here

More of my New Orleans Favorites in the next post..
Until then check out #SimplySouthernGirlTakesNOLA on Instagram for more photos. I will warn you you might end up hungry if you check it out

Monday

Bonefish Grill - Tallahassee

When the local Tallahassee Bonefish grill reached out to me with an opportunity to enjoy a meal and experience the restaurant amidst our remodel. I decided to give it a go, and make it a girls night out! 
  
I am happy to share that with a recently renovated space the restaurant was more open, and had an  industrial yet sleek interior design. This polished and inviting setting was complemented by great service. Our server was knowledgable and patient with us as we read thru the updated menu and decided on appetizers, and drinks! 

Two of us opt'd for wine, by and Amy being adventurous  opt'd for a fancy peach martini at the recommendation of the server. We agreed to go with Ahi Tuna for an appetizer, not only was it was delicious it was the perfect portion size for us to split. The menu posts that it is a premium sushi grade, sesame-seared rare with wasabi + pickled ginger.

Bonefish Grill’s menu offers everything from savory Wood-Grilled Fish, Steak and Chops, Signature Spicy Tuna served with premium grade sesame-seared Ahi Tuna and passion fruit salsa along with burgers and salads. Amy went with the Florida Cobb Salad. The salad is comprised of Grilled chicken, avocado, mango, tomatoes, Blue cheese, citrus herb vinaigrette. I opt'd to split a mean with Jenn, and we had Lily's Chicken - which is chicken cooked on the Wood Grill covered with Goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts + lemon basil sauce. We chose macaroni and cheese and broccoli as our sides.
Overall I was impressed with the restaurants overhaul. The music, lighting, and general ambiance of the restaurant was open, inviting and upbeat. This paired with our knowledgeable server and prompt service made for an excellent experience. Our server  even doodled and dated our to go box! 
 


 While my meal was covered by Bonefish in exchange for a review, the opinions expressed are solely my own.