I Heart NOLA!

Can’t believe that March just about over. It’s been a heck of a month. I’ve been sooooo busy and I need to set aside time to blog on a regular basis. Between work, my husband, our dogs and all my extracurriculars, I’m BEAT. However, this month was nonstop fun from start to (almost) end.

I was able to spend a long weekend in New Orleans visiting family. I spent some much needed time with my nieces, Eden(3) and Sydney(1) and my 4 legged nephew, Bunkie!

Quality time with my nieces, Eden and Sydney. And of course my 4 legged nephew, Bunkie!

Quality time with my nieces, Eden and Sydney. And of course my 4 legged nephew, Bunkie!

I was able to see some so many friends including those from my UNO days and a best friend of 20+ years!

Friends forever!

Friends forever!

Shopping is always fun when I’m in town. I always make a point to check out Fleurty Girl . On my most recent visit, I bought this new “NOLA” necklace which I adore!

Love this little piece of home!

Love this little piece of home!

If there’s one thing New Orleans is known for, it’s the cuisine! There’s nothing like it. I have to dedicate a good portion of this post to the FOOD! I had some great meals while I was visiting which I have to share :

1) Beignets and café au’ lait at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter is a MUST. It’s great for peoplewatching and there’s always a trio or quartet nearby entertaining the crowds. Make sure to have cash on hand since they do not take credit cards.

THIS is what dreams are made of!

THIS is what dreams are made of!

2) My sister introduced me to High Hat Cafe on up and coming Freret Street. This place is sooo down to earth and affordable. And you will leave feeling happily full! I had the daily special that day which was the shrimp creole over rice. It knocked my socks off. It was THAT good. But that side dish was what I will be coming back for the next time I’m in town. The pimiento mac and cheese….it’s just as good as it sounds . And their servings are huge. It’s melt in your mouth deliciousness. We ended the meal with a slice of warm butterscotch pecan pie with Jack Daniels infused ice cream. Don’t be jealous.

Shrimp creole over rice with a spectacular side of pimiento mac & cheese

Shrimp creole over rice with a spectacular side of pimiento mac & cheese

Dessert of all desserts!

Dessert of all desserts!

3) Parkway Bakery & Tavern – I am ashamed to admit that this was my first time visiting ever even after being a resident for 10+ years! It’s 100% NOLA from all the memorabilia on the wall to the bread they use for the shrimp po’boys! This is another MUST if you want something off the beaten path. Plus they were also featured in a po’ boy battle on the Travel Channel !

This place needs to be added to your NOLA foodie bucket list!

This place needs to be added to your NOLA foodie bucket list!

Southwest Airlines had a great sale on flights recently so I was able to snag a ticket for a trip home in the fall. I cannot wait to see family and explore the city for new found shops and eats! Stay tuned and Happy (almost) April!

Family time!

Family time!

Advertisements

Run Cecille Run!

That’s what I tell myself anytime I convince my body to actually run and not walk. I’ve come a heckuva long way from where I started. I started W.R.A.P with Track Shack back in mid January and have tackled small hurdles. The day I ran all the way around the Howard Middle School Track was huuuuge! That’s 1/4 mile I wouldn’t have been able to run without the constant running and training.

running

My husband and I were already signed up for the Best Damn Race 5k for March 1st so it was the perfect opportunity to try to actually run the race. It’s definitely intimidating being around seasoned runners but everyone was very encouraging including many of my runner friends who can do half marathons in their sleep!

Race bib with name!

Race bib with name!

Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous so that was already in our favor. Before the actual race, we explored the expo and caught up with some friends that were running and also working the race and made sure to take some quick photos!

Friends galore!

Friends galore!

Once the race started, we were on our way among throngs of people trying to get through the crowds. I ran a good part of the beginning before my feet felt worn down from running on a brick road. That definitely took some getting used to as it affected not only my feet but also my knees. At this point I was walking more than running. I caught up with my friend, Meghan, who cheered me on and was a great motivator. I told her to leave me behind if she had an urge to run which she did. As I got closer to the last mile or less, I got a little spring in my step and pushed myself to run. I wanted to make sure I would actually cross the finish line while running! Most of the photos I found of myself running are quite mortifying. I did like this one of me crossing the finish line. Can you see the RELIEF written on my face??

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line!

I finished in under an hour so I was pleased overall. Now that the race was over, it was all about getting photos of us and our cool new Best Damn Race 5k medals(which happen to double as bottle openers)!

Group shot with friends!

Group shot with friends!

A couple that runs together stays together! ;)

A couple that runs together stays together! 😉

A good race can’t go without a great meal afterwards. We made the short trek to Dexter’s of Thornton Park for brunch. Amazing food that comes highly recommended. The post race mimosas weren’t so bad either!

5k under our belts and bellies are full!

5k under our belts and bellies are full!

Valentine’s Day recap

This Valentine’s Day was a bit dismal. Not that we make a big “to-do” about it. Joe and I have been married over 6 years now and together 9 years so, yeah, it’s just another day. I like to call it “new couples celebration day” or, in my case, chocolate appreciation day. 🙂

Unfortunately, I was sick on Valentine’s Day(which fell on a Friday) so we had takeout for dinner and didn’t do a whole lot of anything except stay home and spend it with our dogs. By Sunday, I was starting to feel much better and had a case of cabin fever from staying home several days in a row. I convinced my husband that we should take a couple of the dogs to Orlando Weekly‘s Puppy Love event at The Acre. We ended up taking Wally and Dexter since they don’t get as much outing time as some of our bigger pups. They’re pretty socialized but still end up glued to our sides when we’re out in public. I still think it’s important to get them out and around other dogs in new surroundings. This was a perfect opportunity.

We got to The Acre and we were greeted by two food trucks, Tamale Co. Food Truck and Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks.

puppylove5

After indulging in some awesome tamales (which happen to be gluten free), we checked out the Puppy Love festivities. It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. The crowds were huge and it was great seeing so many dogs being spoiled and loved by their owners.

puppylove1 puppylove9

There was a scavenger hunt organized by Orlando Weekly where participants had to go to vendor booths to complete the tasks to get an Orlando Weekly bandana for their pup!
We checked out a good majority of the booths on hand such as Woof Orlando, Planet Pet, and Pookie’s Bow Wow Bakery. One of our favorites was the photo booth area near the Swift Paws Lure Course. The photos were taken by the talented photographer, Rob Bartlett, of Bartlett Image. We got a wonderful photo of us with the little guys, for FREE! I loved how he would make funny noises to get the dogs’ attention for the perfect shot. Genius! I think he did a great job. What do you think?

puppylove3

There were also several contests for pets and their owners including a fashion relay race, can your dog kiss you the longest, a trick challenge and a don’t drop your food challenge.

puppylove2

The little guys loved being out and about. They even got new coordinating collars courtesy of Barking Mad dog wear.

snoopy

Wally and Dexter loved hanging out in the sun with us and were such good boys!

puppylove8 puppylove7

This made up for my sickly Valentine’s Day! 😉

puppylove4

SPCA Paws in the Park 2014

We recently participated in the annual 2014 SPCA Paws in the Park fundraiser . Joe and I raised $100 thanks to the generous Juden family who are also good friends of ours. It had been several years since we participated due to our busy lives and addition of new dogs into the family. We used to take part several years in a row as a way to give back to the shelter dog community and to also socialize our dogs. But with 6 dogs now, we have to pick and choose events that fit into our lifestyle. I decided to create a small pack called “Fluffy Butts” that included my husband and I and our friend, Carla, who came along with her Mom, Linda, and her adorable corgis, Ginger and Snap. However, Ginger didn’t have any interest in walking around Lake Eola .

ginger

But Snap did!

carlaandsnap

Despite the rain that day, we braved the weather and walked around Lake Eola. I was walking Twinkie who was happy to participate and did a great job walking with Snap and a dachshund who happened to appear in this photo! 🙂

walk

After the walk, Carla and I checked out some of the vendors booths and picked up freebies and coupons (because when you have 6 dogs, it’s essential) from Pet Supermarket , Peach Valley Cafe, and PetSmart to name a few.

The biggest highlight for me was meeting Victoria Stilwell of It’s Me or the Dog. She is a positive reinforcement dog trainer and her methods truly make sense. Not to mention that she is an avid spokesperson for animal rescue. Our family loves her! I was elated to get a photo with her and Twinkie. Look, all smiles!

victoriastilwell

After all the excitement, we walked around some more and noticed that there was a nice set up for those interested in agility training for their dogs.

agility

Not to mention a cute Disney themed area with awesome picture opportunities for the entire family. Here’s one I took of Joe and Merlin.

merlinanddad

And a great event can’t go without awesome food. They had a plethora of food trucks to choose from. We had several choices. We enjoyed the Bomb fries from Bem Bom Food Truck and the Vietnamese style chicken tacos from Saigon Sizzle . Joe even had wild boar tacos from the high end food truck, Fork in the Road.

foodtruck foodtruckcrazy carla

Overall, it was a great morning and totally worth getting a little rained on. We walked and raised money for a great cause, had some good food and I got to meet Victoria Stilwell! Can’t wait for the walk in the fall.

First blog post ever….

I’ve been talking and talking about starting my own blog…..and I’m finally doing it!  I’m thankful to have friends that have encouraged me along the way not to mention the awesome local blogging community including the Central Florida Lady Bloggers

I recently attended FL BlogCon Forum 2014 at the fabulous East End Market and met many established, local bloggers that were SO supportive and encouraging. Julie with The Little Kitchen told me to “just do it” and that has stayed with me.

photo 3

I have to also throw out a shoutout to my friend, Mia Mom, of Dreamy Mermaid for letting me know about this conference and really encouraging me along the way. I learned soooo much and am still constantly learning.

eastend2

It was a FULL house on the 2nd floor of East End Market where all the learning was going on.

photo 1

After the forum, the networking continued downstairs.

eastend1 eastend

I’m thankful for all the new friends I made like Lisa Wilk with Taste Cook Sip, Jennifer Graddy with Orlando Connections, Jane Johnston with My Squeaky Sneakers, and Amy Herring with Run with Perseverance. Not to mention this wonderful forum for blogger newbies like me! 🙂