With 7 days till Christmas, most of us are still looking for one or two….or seven gifts; hey no judgment here.
Why not skip the herds of people at the mall or Cosco and take a walk downtown? It doesn’t matter where you live, each city or town has locally owned shops that would love a share of your business.
I just moved back to Moncton two weeks ago and today I had lunch on Main Street with my friend, Stacey. After lunch, I braved the cold, apparently I am a weather wimp now, lol; and browsed the little shops that line Main Street.
There was certainly a buzz of life to the downtown area. As I walked down Main Street I noticed new restaurants and cafes that hadn’t been there before. I also noticed people, lots of people!!
I could feel my cheeks getting rosy and noticed that I was signing along with the Christmas music coming from Keating’s; even without snow it was starting to feel like Christmas.
I popped into The Home Mercantile and was greeted with warm smiles from the staff. I am not certain what I was expecting? Maybe some tacky touristy tchotchkes?? But what I found made me feel like I was home.
Yes I realize, home is in the name, so obviously that’s the point. Maybe I am being a bit mushy and sentimental being back in my hometown? But it made me proud to be in a store filled with items that highlighted New Brunswick, Moncton and Canada.
This store is sassy and funny! Which reflects the people who live here. I bought one of these candles below; in addition to smelling really good, they made me laugh! The one I bought says: Calm the Fuck Down! Seriously, how could I not buy it???
I am a sucker for stationary and loved the mix of French and English cards with local regional humor.
I seriously laughed out loud when I saw this very Maritime take on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll; Sex, Drugs and Lobster Rolls!
I bought a NB Home T-shirt that I will wear with pride and I may need to go back to get a tuque or a baseball hat? I’m short a few stocking stuffers and these would be perfect.
As I left with my new purchases, in my material shopping bag, of course; I thought what a great shopping experience.
I hadn’t been annoyed by slow walkers at the mall. I hadn’t experiences cart rage; you know when you’re at Cosco and someone decides to park their huge cart in the middle of the aisle while they chit chat away; man I hate that! Pull over for goodness sakes!!!
I left feeling relaxed and pleased with my sassy, sentimental purchases.
Tomorrow is the last Saturday before Christmas, the malls will be crazy!!! Call your friend and have them meet you downtown. Grab a bite to eat, pick up a hot chocolate at Tim’s and brows the small boutiques in your area.
Merry Christmas & Happy Everything!
For more pics and quickies, follow me on Facebook @oui-Liette
I have probably slept in more hotel rooms in the past 6 months than the average person will stay in the next 6 years, ouff it’s been a lot! I am writing this post from one now; fun fact, I can’t wait to be back in my own bed in Vegas!
I am lucky that I get to stay in nice hotels in “safe” areas. But I do watch a lot of Dateline so I am naturally always on high alert when on the road, especially when I am traveling solo. My main goal in life is to not end up on an episode of Dateline; I am weird, I am aware.
On this trip I was shocked when I was told that the hotel I am currently in, which is a really nice hotel, had a horrible incident a few weeks ago. The hotel is attached to a mall and a pharmacy. Long story short, a woman was robbed and beaten to a pulp in the elevator leading to the pharmacy!! I have used that elevator on previous trips! It really isn’t a shady area. I guess it serves as a reminder that shady people can be in none shady areas.
Here are my personal safety tips that I am more than happy to share with you!!
Hotel door check
Where you aware that people walk the halls in hotels checking doors to see if they can find one that isn’t complete shut? This has been a huge issue recently in Las Vegas.
Have you been in a newer hotel and noticed that the doors slam shut by themselves? If your door isn’t completely shut it will open if someone simply pushes on it. Some older hotels may not have this feature?
When leaving or entering my hotel room, I close the door shut myself and then pull on the handle to make sure it’s shut. Your door needs to click so it can’t be pushed open.
Not to freak you out, but this is a thing. People have been robbed while in their rooms; while they slept! Being in your room is apparently not a deterrent, that was the shocking part to me; and in one instance, here in Vegas, a couple was robbed then killed. If it’s happened here, it can happen anywhere!
If you see someone who seems to be loitering in the halls, call the front desk!!
Ok, this one may boarder on paranoia? But I am standing by it!!
I am fully aware that peep holes theoretically help keep you safe, because they let you see who is at the door without opening it. But I have always been a bit weary of them. I’ve always wondered if people would be able to peep in? Then I heard the story of a woman sports caster who was filmed while she was in her hotel room, minding her own damn business! Her peep hole was tampered with.
Now will your peep hole be tampered with? Probably not, but do I feel safer with a post it note over mine? Hell yes!
I travel with a few office supplies in my laptop case; one day I put a post it note over my peep hole and it stuck….get it? Lol, so now that’s what I do, it makes me feel better; so crazy or not, I do it.
This picture below is my worst nightmare, hence my post it notes obsession.
This is my new fav safety feature. Have you ever checked into your room and notice that you’re in an adjoining room? It’s super creepy and it makes me feel unsafe that the only thing between me and a potential psycho killer is one door lock; they don’t even come with a door chain.
I have always thought that the chain and metal thingy on the inside of your hotel door would keep the bad guys out. But after doing a bit of research I have discovered that if someone really wants to get in, it’s not that difficult; these won’t keep them out.
But there is something that will help reinforce your door, all your doors, not just hotel doors. What is this magical high tech safety tool? It’s a cheap rubber door stop!! I just bought four for $9. I am adding 2 to my suitcase for when I travel and spoiler alert, I will be giving these to all my travel friends this Christmas as stocking stuffers.
Is this overkill for US and Canadian travel? Maybe, but remember, better paranoid than dead!
Valuables in your room
The previous three tips were to keep people out of your hotel room, but what about the people who are able to get in your room?
In all of my travels, I have only had one incident where something was “removed” from my room by the hotel staff. I accidentally left lose cash in my jeans pocket and just like that, pouff, $80 was gone.
We know not to leave money or jewelry laying around, but you may be leaving something more valuable in your room unattended? What’s more valuable or just as valuable as cash? Your medication!
One of my friends recently shared that she ran out of her medication way before the end of the month. She suspects that the cleaning staff may have taken some of her medication while she was traveling? If you think about it, it’s super easy to do; who among us keeps a daily count of the number of pills left in their bottle? It would be so easy to take some, but not all, without being missed right away.
Do not disturb
I am not very worried about hotel staff being in my room, I like having my bed made for me! I do make sure anything valuable is in my purse and not left in my room.
But I do have coworkers that I travel with who, once checked in, put the do not disturb sign on their door knob and turn on the TV when they leave their rooms. Some will keep the do not disturb sign out for their entire stay. They just don’t want strangers in their room alone with their belongings and that is a perfectly valid feeling; so remember that is an option for you on your next hotel stay.
You can even call housekeeping and let them know that you won’t require your room cleaned during your stay. If you run out of clean towels, they can deliver to your room while you are there; please tip if you ask anyone to bring anything to your room, it’s only fair.
I am a big valet park fan, is it because I am a bit of a diva? Partly, but the main reason is that I refuse to park and walk alone in a parking lot or garage in a strange city.
And if a hotel doesn’t have valet park, don’t be shy to ask hotel security to walk you to and from your car. This winter I was in Moncton, at downtown hotel, that didn’t have valet parking. Their main lot is well lit and close to the main hotel door, but their overflow parking is a building away; it was dark and shady. I actually drove back to the front desk, from the overflow lot, and asked if someone could walk out to meet me; they were more than happy to oblige. Please know that this is an option, hotels want you to have a great experience on their property, they will assist if asked.
When I was younger and a bit more timid, I would put myself in situations that didn’t always feel safe, but with age comes a “fuck that shit” attitude!! If it feels iffy, don’t do it!
My final hint is to befriend the hotel staff. I make friends with the concierge, in addition to getting great recommendations on where to eat and where to go, they can also keep tabs on you. They are usually stationed by the front entrance of the hotel, say hi to them as you come and go and remember their name.
On my last trip to New Orleans we made friends with our concierge, every evening he knew where we were planning on going.
I also always ask the front desk staff if it’s safe to walk around the hotel at night? A few times, they have flat out told me that it wasn’t safe. I once asked for directions to an outlet mall via the train; the front desk staff told me in no uncertain terms, that I was not to take the train alone! If someone tells you that, listen, they know their city better than you do.
If you are afraid or nervous about anything, talk to the front desk staff; learn their names, tell them, hey I am alone, can you have someone walk me to my car? Tell them where you are going and when you expect to be back. A side effect of being friendly is they will remember you on your next visit and may even upgrade you! Friendliness is always in fashion. If finally again, you see something that makes you feel uneasy, tell someone, because it’s better to be paranoid than dead!
Those are my safety tips, do you have any to share that I haven’t listed?
On our agenda today is a Viva Vintage Vegas tour. We’ll shop, get a makeover, eat then visit an outdoor museum for old neon signs.
The “old” downtown area is in the process of a fabulous transformation. The Art District or 18b, because it encompasses 18 blocks, is a very cool and hip place with art galleries, vintage shops and funky restaurants. It’s way more authentic than than the strip and if you visit you may run into some real live Las Vegas locals! Don’t worry, they won’t bite, they are super nice people.
First things first, let’s shop! All the shops below are found on Main Street. (If you don’t get the opportunity to visit Vegas, then please venture out to your local vintage and antique shops! Also, I always check out how shop owners show off their stuff. It can inspire you to consider different color pallets.)
Patina offers vintage furniture, home decor and a huge collection of unique vintage clothing.
I was served by Katie, who is one of the owners of Patina. She explained that the boutique started off more focused on vintage furniture, but the clothing section has taken on a life of its own; with regulars coming to Vegas expressly to shop in her store.
She and her partner hand pick each item, they were getting ready to head out on a buying spree in a few weeks. How fun would that be?
Their vintage clothing is mostly from the 60’s, lets just say the colors were so vibrant I didn’t need to use a filter. I bought three things.
They also have beautiful glassware, vintage luggage, furniture and much more, check them out!
I tried to convince myself that I had room for this hot pink chair in my bedroom, but I don’t…booo! I love how they are showing pink with yellow accents, it’s not a combo that I would have thought that I would like. It’s brave, beautiful and inspiring.
Antique Alley Market
I love this store!! It’s huge so it’s almost impossible to see everything and they seem to have everything.
I must admit that I past by it several times without going in, because the facade doesn’t have a lot of flash. But I’m happy I finally did because it’s got some great stuff and prices are reasonable.
I collect vintage Murano glass candy dishes, ok I only have 4, so it’s not a huge collection, lol. It reminds me of my grandmother. She had this beautiful big green dish on her coffee table that we used to spin around, we were kind of bratty. I don’t think we ever broke it, which is a miracle. I have no idea where it went, but I would love to find it.
I have a pink dish from my mother’s cousin, I found another in the same color, so had to have it. And now I think I am starting a pink collection, but the other colors are all so pretty…sorry, all this talk about vintage candy dishes may not be as interesting to others as it is to me, lol.
Ok, just take a look at this picture of my budding collection and I will stop talking about candy dishes, lol.
Ok, I so I lied, but look how pretty they are. My new one is the one on the left…ok done, moving on.
Main Street is littered with cool funky places. Vintage Vegas is a smaller boutique, but jam packed full of cool stuff. The signage: Dead People’s Junk ans Cool Crap, caught my eye; I had to go in!
I love these vintage Pyrex bowls!! My bff and I, back in Canada, are always on the lookout for vintage Pyrex. Yup, we’re nerds, but stylish ones!!
When I moved to Vegas this was the first vintage shop I visited, the pink caught my attention, naturally. They have beautifully painted flamingos on the side of their building perfect for photos!
They have tones of modern mid-century furniture, which is my all time favorite; along with stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. I am really starting to feel the 70’s vibe these days too.
The price point here is a bit more expensive, but they have high quality pieces.
I love this kitchen vignette! And look, they are pairing pink and yellow. Mmm, could this be a new trend? This is giving me some cool ideas.
And as I am writing, I just noticed that my pink candy dishes have yellow in the center! I guess I am already on trend.
After you’ve shopped stop in at Atomic Lounge for a retro makeover. I went for the Va Va Voom hair and makeup package; they also have a package where they pick you up in a pink Cadillac, it doesn’t get more fab than that!
This was so fun! It would be the perfect activity for a girls trip. They do lots of weddings as well.
This was a lot of makeup!! Definitely meant for nighttime. I have to admit I felt like my grandmother with my hair in pin curls, but it all came together. This look called for a lot of hairspray!! I am not a big hair product person so it felt really funny and stiff. She told me to leave it for an hour and then I could brush it out for a softer look. It looked more modern with just a hint of retro vibe once I brushed it out.
My stylist was awesome! Ask for Becki. The lounge decor was funky and cool, just like you’d expect it to be. And look, more yellow! I love these chairs.
There are a bunch of cool hip restaurants nearby and this is where you will meet actual Las Vegas locals. These restaurants are also a lot less expensive than on the strip.
I recommend trying Carson Kitchen, it has super interesting small plates that you can share. It’s urban neighborhood dining at it’s finest.
The Boneyard Museum
After dinner when the sun goes down, head to the Boneyard Neon Museum. It’s the perfect way to send your Viva Vintage Vegas Day!
Tours are $50, $35 for locals. You have to buy your tickets ahead of time, I have been on the day tour, but need to go on the night tour when the signs are on.
This isn’t your ordinary boring museum, first of all it’s outside and second of all, it’s full of neon. The museum is saving and honoring Vegas history for generations to come.
You will have lots and lots of picture opportunities, selfies are welcomed!
Since you sat through my candy dish fetish, I will let you know that The Arts District also has the most Instagramable graffiti walls in Vegas!
The streets between Main and Commerce have cool alleys. The best one is on the corner of W 50-70 Imperial Ave and Imperial Ave. Do be careful and travel in packs, don’t go down dark alleys; you will run into some colorful characters if you venture too far. You can also rent bikes and cycle around.
Just a few of the murals you will see. Try to venture off the strip next time you are in town and check out the Art District. Be nice! And have fun!
So technically, I didn’t, I don’t…I mean I haven’t ever said I do; but what’s that expression? Those who can’t do teach?
Here’s why I am qualified to give wedding planning advice:
I’ve been a real live party/events planner for the past 15 years; and a wedding is basically a big event.
Before that, I was a hotel convention sales manager and dealt with many brides; but the job that most qualifies me to give wedding advice was my four year stint as a banquet waitress, while in University.
I seriously must have I worked hundreds and hundreds of weddings! And if I hear the song, “I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll”, one more time, I am going to lose my freaking mind!…oh and I was a bridesmaid twice; both friends are no longer married, but I hardly think I can be blamed for that?? (and they did result is some pretty amazing children!)
Here are my top 5 expert tips
What’s your vibe?
You need to decide what vibe you’re going for? Here’s a hint, if your DJ plays, “ I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll”, you have failed in creating a cool vibe, lol.
But seriously, before you start planning you need to do a bit of soul searching on what you and your mate want your wedding to be?
You’ll be surprised by how many decisions you’ll need to make and you’ll be shocked at how quickly things can snowball out of control, so you need a plan.
In order to help you figure out what’s your vibe, you need to decide what kind of bride you want to be? Are you a Princess Bride, a Hippie Bride, a Shy Bride or a Party Bride? Ok, I just made those up, but they are brilliant!
The Princess Bride wants to be…well a princess, obviously. She wants a full ballgown with 8 to 10 bridesmaids. If you want a Princess wedding, then don’t look at beachfront locations. Ballgowns and beach balls don’t mix.
Now if you’re a Hippie Bride a beach wedding with a flowy dress and flip flops are a perfect fit!
The photos below are of a Princess Bride in all her glory! The horse drawn carriage, the adorable flower girl and the castle.
The bride in the picture above is definitely a Party Bride. The most important thing to a her is to have fun. Her dress is fun, her shoes are fun; she’s literally dancing in the streets.
One of my cousins is a Shy Bride, she knows her vibe and is owning it. She doesn’t want to be on display or be gawked at, which is the princess bride’s dream.
Knowing this she has planned a super small fall wedding in a rustic cabin. No head table and no fussiness, oh and she is bringing her dog and I am pretty sure she and her dog will have a matching dresses, lol.
Adding your own quirkiness to your big day is endearing. The trick is to know your vibe and keep it consistent.
I absolutely love this picture above of my friend Stacey on her wedding day getting her glam on. I love it because, this is Stacey’s vibe. She’s always calm cool and collected. There’s no need for a big entourage and no drama. FYI, she is still happily married; I wasn’t a bridesmaid.
Show me the money honey!
Weddings are expensive!! So before you start making plans and spending money, you need a plan. You need to list out what’s important to you and what’s not.
Here’s an idea, right off the bat. What if you could take an extra few thousand dollars from your wedding and spend it on your engagement ring? Since it’s something that you will wear everyday and have forever; as opposed to something that will be over in a day?? Just a thought.
Now if you’re a Princess Bride, there is nothing I can say to you that will sway you away from all the bells and whistles; and if that’s what you want, then go for it!
For those who are more budget conscious, you need to list out your priorities. If I was planning my own wedding, I would spend money on my dress and the photographer. I would skimp on other things in order to stay within my budget.
There are things that I would skip altogether, like wedding favors and the grooms cake; and here’s why. Now, full disclosure, when I throw parties, I always have a party favor, but, and this is a big but, I host small gathering so I buy nice favors. If yo can’t afford a nice favor, maybe just skip it? Also a lot of wedding parties make their own favors, which is very sweet, but depending on what it is, you may want to focus your energy on other things?
While working as a banquet waitress, I will tell you that more than 50% of your party favors end up being left behind and thrown out; same thing with the grooms cake?
Let’s just say that a grooms cake is out of fashion anyway and move on. If you have your heart set on having a wedding favor, go with a bottles of wine or home made jams or something like that. I am going to be harsh here, but the only people who want something with your face or your initials on it is your mother and your crazy aunt Carol.
You may also want to revisit your wedding cake. I would get an amazing looking cake, but it would be a small cake for you to cut in the photos and take home with you. If you are doing a full meal, your guests are going to be too full for cake by the time it’s served.
Or do cupcakes or donuts, something a bit different that people will remember. If you do want to serve cake, get a big slab and have the venue serve your guests.
Fun fact; did you know that some wedding cakes are fake?? Those big fancy cakes that you see couples cutting, some are just one layer of real cake and the others are foam covered with icing. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a fake cake?
Another great way to save money is to select an amazing looking venue so that you don’t have to spend lots of money on decorations. And here’s a question to ask yourself when deciding if you should spend the money or skip it? Will your aunt Carol remember it in a year?
If budget wasn’t a concern you could have huge overflowing flowery centerpieces on each table a la Kardashian. But just modest flowers on every table in a large wedding is going to cost you thousands of dollars without making a huge impact. Now let’s ask the question; will aunt Carol be able to remember what type of flowers were at her table in a year? The answer is no! So why not boost up and spend a bit more money on your bouquet and skip the table flowers? Candles are less expensive and create a cozy mood.
It’s also worth exploring a different kind of wedding. A former coworker of mine has opened an amazingly brilliant business. They do pop up weddings, elopements and engagements and they are spectacular!! You need to check out their website: https://www.thehytch.com/ and follow them on Facebook, (The Hytch) and Insta, (thehytch).
The locations are breathtaking, the pictures are soooooo pretty! They currently offer pop up weddings, renewals and engagements in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Denver.
Be prepared to be blown away by crazy beautiful wedding photos, all provided by The Hytch. These are real couples and real weddings. I feel like I need to add that because they are so Instagrammable, they look staged.
I am going to show the picture above to my cousin Brigitte, she is going to love this idea.
This is definitely the kind of wedding I would want. I would want a winter wedding…maybe I should book it for 2020? Yeah, that should give me enough time to find the perfect man right??!!
I think it’s possible to have an amazing chic wedding on a limited budget, you made need to think outside of the box? And maybe as you get older your priorities change? But a small intimate wedding seems like are a better choice then spending a down payment on a house on a wedding; but that’s just me, you do you!
Know your limitations
Do you get stressed out hosting a dinner party for 8? If so, you might not have what it takes to execute the perfect wedding by yourself? And that’s ok; know your strengths and be real about your limitations.
Get a wedding planner or recruit your friends and family. If you are asking friends and family members to help you, give them specific tasks and don’t overload one person, spread it out! If you aren’t paying them, you need to be nice and thankful!!
You can also lean on your venue manager to help with centerpieces and a few other tasks…within reason.
One thing you should never do is be setting up your own reception in your wedding dress! If you can’t get in your venue the day before, delegate, delegate, delegate! I have seen brides blowing up balloons for an arch while all made up and in their dresses. Don’t do it!!!
By show up, I mean, be present. It’s a big day with lots going on. You will be running on excitement, nerves and adrenaline. You have been working on this day for months and have spent a lot of money; you need to make a conscious effort to stop and enjoy your day.
You also need to eat and stay hydrated, plan ahead and have healthy snacks, or chocolate…either or, on hand when getting ready.
And when at the reception, pace yourself with the champagne, a puky bride is never cute!!
Let It Go!
So it’s your big day and you are present; now let it go!
I have witnessed so many bridezillas, in the early nineties, before that was a thing, we just called them crazy brides.
Here is the best advice that anyone will ever give you on your wedding day; let things go!! I have witnessed so many crazy brides sabotage their own wedding receptions, it was hard to pick just one crazy bride story.
But here’s a good one; this one bride poked her head into the ballroom before we opened the doors to see how the room looked. It looked beautiful, btw, but she proceeded to freak out because the salmon colored napkins, looked more peach than salmon. Freaked out may be an understatement, because she had a full blown, stage 5 meltdown over salmon napkins, minutes before her guests arrived. May I add that the lights were dimmed and candles lit, the napkins were perfectly salmony.
To make my point, I googled the color salmon and the color peach, can you tell which is which??? No, no you can’t, because there isn’t a difference. Lol
Needless to say, she never really recovered and looked pissy all night. I have seen so many brides look absolutely miserable during their wedding receptions; don’t be that bride!
The only way to enjoy yourself the day of your wedding is to roll with the punches and go with whatever happens. If anything goes wrong on the day of, and something will, let it go! First of all, chances are you will be the only one who notices that something is off; so don’t point it out or make a big deal, just let it go!
I have one great example of a bride who rolled with it. The MC was speaking and said that he had a game that would determine who wore the pants in the family. He explained that the bride had to hug each male at the reception and the groom each female and that whoever did so and got back to their seat first would be the one who wore the pants in the marriage.
The groom looked horrified and after an awkward moment of silence, you could tell this was not planned; the bride stood up, hiked up her dress and stared running to the first table to start the hug fest. The groom quickly followed and the crowd went wild!
I love, love, love this picture of my parents. Tell me they are not adorable!! My dad looks like a movie star. There is something really glamorous about old wedding pictures. Their 53rd wedding anniversary was this past May.
At the end of the day, your wedding is one day in hopefully many, many days together. It’s so easy to get caught up in the wedding that you lose perspective and focus more on the wedding than the marriage…said the single girl. But think about it, you know I am right.
I am pretty sure I will be a fun bride…just saying, lol.
My dad recently passed away, a few weeks before his death, one of my cousins asked him for relationship advice. He told her to be herself and that she needs to find someone who makes her happy, if he doesn’t make you happy, don’t marry him. Treat him like you would want to be treated and you will be ok, because you are a good person. It seemed like simple advice, but if you stop and think about it, it really is that simple!
I hope you enjoyed this post even if you aren’t planning a wedding at this very moment or are already married. If you are happily married and want to share your words of wisdom, please do!!
And if you are happily divorced, you probably have words of wisdom too! Sharing is caring, lol.
One of my favorite things to do when I am in the south is eat! The food is so amazing, that you almost need a plan or a checklist, lol. Here are a few southern staples that you need to try; and a few helpful hints to help you find the best places to eat.
We we’re lucky enough to be in Mississippi during crawfish season, which is in the spring. Although I have been traveling to Biloxi for many years, I had never tried crawfish…till now!
First of all, let me say that they look exactly like tiny lobsters…exactly! They kind of have a bit of a lobstery ish taste too.
There is a trick to eating them that I picked up right away; my land locked friend from Arizona, wasn’t such a quick learner, Staci, I am talking to you!
You twist the tail from the body and you pinch and suck the tail in your mouth. The local guys we were with sucked on the heads too, but I kept my focus on the tails…mmm ok, that may have taken an unintentional inappropriate turn, but let’s stay focused here, lol.
They are cooked in spices with potatoes and corn. These weren’t too spicy, I thought they had a bit of a kick to them, but keep in mind that I am Acadian, so the spiciest spice growing up was pepper, lol. The Cajuns didn’t get their love of spices from their Northern cousins.
We finished off our crawfish lunch with some bread pudding. To be honest I’ve never been interested in bread pudding, because it doesn’t contain chocolate, lol, but the locals we were with insisted we have some. And I have to report that it was one the most delicious things I have ever tasted! And it turns out, as per my mom, that bread pudding is an Acadian thing, so that may be something the Cajuns brought with them when they migrated south?
One of my best travel trips for finding great places to eat is to ask the locals. On this trip our service techs invited us to lunch, as we walked out, the receptionist whispered, it’s a dive, but they have good food. I love dives, so off we went! And now I can check off crawfish and bread pudding off my list.
This place wasn’t fancy, but it was full, which is always a great sign. I can say it’s my favorite crawfish place!!! (and my first and only, lol)
No one does BBQ like the south, obvs. We’ve been going to this next place for years. It’s called The Shed and it is literally a series of sheds.
This is another, not fancy place; but it has become one of our favorite places to go.
If you ever find yourself in the south, ask a local where their favorite bbq place is, they will most likely tell you they make the best and they are probably not lying, but they will point you in the right direction. Southerners are a lot like Maritimers, they are super friendly and hospitable.
In New Orleans we asked the concierge at our hotel for “a good” breakfast place; he said, I know a good place, but it isn’t fancy. It sounded like we were in for another dive. Another helpful travel tip, is be best buddies with your hotel’s concierge and don’t forget to give him a tip!! No one likes a cheapskates lol.
This place was called Hobnobbers; you have to walk through a grungy bar to get to it. The only people there when we arrived were, a lady of the evening and what looked like her John, see the man above and the lady in white fishnets, you can see her legs.
As soon as we sat down, the place quickly filled up. Staci ordered some grits, so we could check them off our list. I have tasted them before and I am not a super fan. They look like mashed potatoes, these were served with butter. If you haven’t tried them, you need to because it’s such a southern staple. Side note, our breakfast was really good and cheap!
Crab, Shrimp and Oysters
Another way that the Canadian Maritimers are similar to the Southerners is their love and abundance of fresh seafood!
On this trip, we literally had crab cakes every night. We were on the hunt for the best ones, it seemed like a fun and tasty challenge!
Ah…so many crab cakes, so little time. You can even have crab cakes, topped with crab! You can actually get anything topped with crab; if given the option, go for it!! Most are served with a remoulade sauce, which is mayonnaise based.
The French Quarter has so many amazing restaurants, I always try to go to Bourbon House on Bourbon St when I am in New Orleans. Get the crab cakes! Lol and save room for desert; get the pecan chocolate crunch, it’s to die for!
One of the fun things about the French Quarter is happening upon amazing restaurants. Before we left New Orleans we realized we hadn’t had any oysters yet; we looked up and saw the sign for Royal House Oyster Bar; it seemed like destiny, lol, so we went in.
Another cool thing about restaurants in New Orleans is that they can look small from the street, but then open up to a large outdoor courtyard. This places looked ordinary, until we were seated on the second level.
Our table overlooked Royal St, even though you are close to Bourbon St, the vibe here was super chill and quaint. We even saw another wedding procession, which is a parade, while we were there; there is always something interesting to see!
I don’t love raw oysters, but I do love charbroiled oysters! These were amazing!! Garlic, butter, breadcrumbs and a bit of cheese, what’s not to love? Even if you don’t think you like oysters, you need to try these. Most restaurants serve them, try them!!
Beignets are basically donut dough drenched with icing sugar and they are sinfully delish!!! Note to self, don’t wear black, you will get icing sugar all over yourself.
The most famous place to eat beignets in New Orleans is Cafe du Monde. You order then try to find a table; actually, you wait in line, then order and then try to find a table.
We didn’t get any on this trip because the lines were insane; we walked by a few times and each time the line was longer than the previous. Although Cafe du Monde makes amazing beignets, I know that they are not the only beignets in town; on my next visit, I am going to find a new spot and give them a try.
If you have the patience, or if you are up early, go to Cafe Du Monde, they will melt in your mouth. I will let you know if I discover a place just as good, with less people.
I don’t know about you, but this post has made me hungry!! Lol. I should probably have mentioned a bit of history, in case you aren’t aware. Cajuns that our found in Louisiana and Mississippi originate from Acadians from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Canada.
I hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading all the way to the end! My next post maybe about bunnies?? Stay tuned!
Fun Things to do in New Brunswick – The Sugar Shacking Edition!
So technically it’s called visiting a maple syrup camp or shack, but I think Sugar Shacking is way jazzier.
Being a native New Brunswicker, I have to admit that I have taken this activity for granted in the past, but I have come to realize that a lot of people have never visited a sugar shack; to my American West coast friends, you really need to add this activity to your bucket list, because it’s awesome…and yummy!!
I hadn’t really put much thought into it before, but maple syrup can only be gathered in a few select places in the world; and New Brunswick is one of those places!
Did you know that Quebec produces 70% of the global maple syrup supply? I think this makes maple syrup super Canadian; Vermont is the State that produces the most in the US.
Since I am back in New Brunswick for a bit, I decided to go Sugar Shacking last weekend; it was the perfect way to spend a sunny spring day outside, while loading up on pure sugar.
We visited Trites Maples, I highly recommend them if you are in and around the Moncton area; here’s how to find them.
It was a beautiful, balmy +12 degrees Celsius, which is almost shorts weather in these parts, lol. It’s a nice walk from the parking lot through the woods to the sugar camps.
As you walk through the woods you see the maple trees that are being tapped. There are blue lines that run from tree to tree sucking out the sap from the trees.
We ran into a lot of super cute locals and a bus load of foreign exchange students. There is nothing like a beautiful sunny day to get Canadians out and about.
There are two other camps before Trites Maples.
Leading up to Trites Maples, the trees were tapped with buckets attached to gather the dripping sap; it was so pretty!!
Some trees were dripping a little faster than others. We were told that it hadn’t been cold enough the night before; ideally it should be -6 to -8 at night and +6 to +8 during the day for optimal sap dripping.
It takes 40 silver buckets of sap to make one bucket of maple syrup! That’s a lot of drips!!
The main camp at Trites Maples serve a mean pancake breakfast. The inside of the camp or lodge is beautiful wood, the servers were dressed in black and red plaid aprons…of course! And the pancakes were being flipped by actual Trites men! See the three handsome men bottom right, below. The young one in the middle is obviously still in training, lol, his name is Chris and because we are in the Maritimes, he’s a friend of a friend. Actually, he’s a cousin of a friend, everyone around here is a cousin of a friend; we tend to have big extended families.
We skipped the pancakes, this time, and made are way to the next cabin; where they sell pure sugar goodness!
We watched them pour maple butter in maple leaf shaped molds. The difference between maple butter and maple syrup is 3 degrees. If the sap doesn’t hit the right temperature when it’s being boiled, it becomes creamy and butter like instead of golden syrupy.
You may be thinking; wow Liette, you sure know a lot about maple syrup. I do, because I took the Sap to Syrup tour! Our guide explain how the syrup is made and the tour was free!
Guess who was our tour guide? Maple butter mold guy! And, yup, he was a Trites too!
Meet Lindsey Trites, he brought us to where they boils the sap and turn it into syrup, it was very interesting to learn what it takes…and it takes a lot of hard work!!
After our tour, we got down to serious business…eating!! This is why people come Sugar Shaking; for the taffy, or « tire », as we say in French.
For newbies, here is how it works; they pour hot stuff, ok, full disclosure, I am not sure if it’s just regular boiling syrup? Or special boiling syrup? Lindsey didn’t cover taffy on our tour, lol, but it’s poured on a fresh bed of snow. You let it harden a few seconds and then you take your popsicle stick and you roll the taffy around your stick and you eat it!!
They charge $2 for a popsicle stick; it’s pretty much a maple syrup taffy all you can eat buffet; omg it’s good!
Kids, pictures above, were lined up with their popsicle sticks. I had three, my friend, who will remain nameless may have had 5!!! I won’t call her out, but she is pictured with Lindsey and I above, lol. She was high on sugar on the drive back.
We made our way through the woods back to our car with our supply of maple syrup in hand; I am bringing some back to Vegas with me for my peeps. Maybe it’s because I now live in the desert? But I couldn’t help but notice how quaint, clean and beautifully cool this day of Sugar Shacking had been!!
I left feeling thankful that I get to pop in and do fun New Brunswick things a few times a year; I see things differently now and appreciate this place more than I ever have.
I would like to encourage those who live here to get out and enjoy this beautiful province!!
If asked to describe what New Orleans is like, I would describe it as an assault on your senses; it’s all too much.
It’s too much food, it’s too much music, the smells are too much, the people are too much, there is too much culture; it’s just fabulously too much!
Here are my to 5 things to do in New Orleans that are too much!
#1 Too much history and culture!
New Orleans oozes culture; it’s impossible not to soak in the culture and history of the city. I don’t think there is any other city in the US with such a distinctive vibe and energy.
If you are a first time visitor you need to take a guided tour because there is just too much to see and do. I have done a few walking tours and a bus tour. Both types were excellent, if you do a walking tour in the summer make sure you are dressed properly and stay hydrated, because the summer heat and humidity is way too much!
There are also several night time walking tours that are fun and will be cooler and to say that the city comes alive at night is a huge understatement. I recommend you visit one of the cemeteries and the Garden District; and of course the French Quarter, which is so full of history, that you almost need a guide to fill you in on all the fabulous and tawdry history.
#2 Way too much music!
New Orleans is the birth place of jazz; if you love jazz, you have to visit!! You will want to go to French Street, but music floods pretty much all of the French Quarter, it doesn’t matter where you go.
While shopping on Royal street a few years ago, I made my way outside to find that the street had been closed and a band was playing. They played three songs, packed up and the street was open again. Spontaneous concerts seem to be the norm.
Each bar on Bourbon Street has music blairing; most have live bands, country, R&B, Cajun… there is something for everyone. The music spills out into the streets with musicians on every corner.
Everytime I’ve been to Jackson Square I have heard students busking, the talent is amazing!
#3 Bourbon Street is waaaayyyy too much!
Bourbon Street is over the top too much. I have been to New Orleans 6 or 7 times now and I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with Bourbon Street virgins a bunch of times. I have noticed that most react to Bourbon Street in the same way; they are flat out freaked out! Lol
And here’s why; it’s an insane place! It does assault the senses, it smells, it’s dirty and it’s home to a few ligit scary people.
People who think that Vegas is a wild place have never been to Bourbon Street. I think it puts a spell on people and makes them lose their minds…or that could also be the alcohol?? Lol, no one knows for sure?
Each person who I’ve taken there for the first time come away thinking, omg, this is too much! But then something happens, once the shock of it all fades a bit, intrigue and fascination take over. This usually takes 24 hours, then they are hooked.
The French Quarter is a contrast in extremes. You can dine in the most fabulous restaurant and then cross the street and walk past the most raunchy strip club.
On this past trip we left Bourbon Street at 6:30pm on a Friday night to make our way to the airport to catch our flight out; as we left, the crowds of people were already starting to file in; things were starting to get crazy…and it was 6:30!!! Lol
You need to experience this for yourself, it’s better to travel in a pack, go with the “no one left behind” rule and just be smart about things. And the number one rule, do not walk in puddles on Bourbon Street, it’s not water!!!!
#4 People watching, so much to see!
You will see and hear the most amazing things in the French Quarter; on this past trip, as I was walking down a side street when I happened upon a wedding procession. It was unlike anything I had ever seen; I was honored to be part of it in some small way. It started with a police escort, followed by the bride and groom literally dancing in the street accompanied by a band and their friends and family following behind waving handkerchiefs. It was so beautiful it looked staged! We saw two wedding processions during our walk, I think it’s a very common thing in these parts. The video and pictures below really captured the moment.
Everyone who encountered the procession stopped, clapped and danced; there was just no way not to smile and be happy. This to me embodies the spirit of New Orleans. After all their motto is “laissez les bons temps rouler »; Let the good times roll.
Another example of New Orleans contrasts is that a few blocks away from Bourbon Street and it’s hedonistic revelers is Jackson Square. It was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s castle, learned that fun fact on my walking tour!! You almost expect to see a princess in a horse drawn carriage to pull up at any moment.
This is Cathédrale Saint-Louis, apparently Walt Disney was a huge fan of New Orleans and could be seen in and around Jackson Square sketching and soaking in the sites and sounds; he was also very inspired by the jazz music that floods the streets.
As I was coming out of one of the little boutiques that surround Jackson Square, I saw another wedding party making their way to the front of the Cathédral; I decided to follow them…ok so I may have some stalker tendencies? Lol, I am attracted to pretty dresses, what can I say??
Voilà! A horse drawn carriage and a princess…ok, it was a bride, but she was obviously fulfilling her princess dream.
The bride was ok, but this little flower girl was adorable!! The dress, the flower crown, the hair…the dress.
#5 Too many unique boutiques and shops!
Even though Bourbon Street feels very frantic, the surrounding cobblestone streets remind you that you are in the South where there doesn’t seem to be a big rush. You need to embrace this laid back vibe when boutique hopping.
There are so many little shops; I even love the real trashy touristy shops that seem to all sell the same things. But there are also unique shops where you will be able to find treasures to take home.
I love, love, love roaming around going from shop to shop. I always discover new places. On this trip we stopped in a shop that looked like just another mask shop until we went inside. It’s called Masquerade and is located on St-Anne Street. All the masks are hand made out of leather, they are mini works of art. I am kicking myself for not buying one for next Halloween. I hate having reverse buyers remorse, when you regret not buying something.
We found one shop that looked like several others that sell spices and rubs, but it turns out they also give Cajun and Creole cooking classes, how fun would that be?? I am adding this on my to do list for my next trip.
There are voodoo shops, we found a super cute milliner shop (hat maker) on Royal Street; I found a funky lamp shop and lots of antique places. One place that I would recommend going to is the Local Artist Co-op, it’s located on Dutch Alley. It’s behind Cafe du Monde, which is the super popular places for beignets.
And if you want a few touristy things go to the French Market, you can hit Cafe du Monde, the Local Artist Co-op, then just keep walking and you will hit the French Market.
Ok, I may have taken too many pics of cute shops? I couldn’t help it!
Here are my finds for this trip; a Kelly green leather clutch, it comes with a wrist strap and body strap, in case you are wondering lol. A small framed hand painted skull from the Local Artist Co-op. I buy a lot of art when I travel, they don’t need to be big or expensive. I love having reminders of my trips in my house. And I couldn’t resist a feather mask, pink of course!
Too much amazing food!!
My most favorite thing to do in the South, not just in New Orleans, is eat! They have the best food on earth!! There is just too much good stuff to add to this post, I will dedicate a full post to all the yummy things to eat!
Bonus Thing To Do!
Because a visit to New Orleans means that you will be walking for hours, I always stop for a quick and cheap massage. There are a few places almost on the corner of Canal and Bourbon Street, you will see an Asian man sitting outside trying to entice customers to come inside.
We made our way inside for a 30 minute foot massage, then we let ourselves get talked into a 30 minute neck massage, prices are great and it feels soooo good!
Here’s a funny story, as soon as we sat down for our massages, we could hear a ruckus outside. It just got louder and louder until it turned into a full on fight. The top picture is Staci and I nervously discussing how super relaxing it was to have a fight during our massage. The funny part is that the little man on his bench outside didn’t even flinch. It eventually quieted down, so we did get to relax and enjoy. New Orleans is full of surprises, you really never know what you are going to see or hear.
I hope this post has given you the urge to visit this beautiful city; there is just too much not to love!!
Les bons temps ont roulé, so now it’s time to go.
I already can’t wait to go back!!! Stay tuned for all the yummy food we ate in New Orleans ans Mississippi! That will be coming up in the next few weeks. Next Sunday I will share my day in a maple syrup sugar shack! I should be down from my sugar high by then? lol