Taste of the South

Taste of the South

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.

Crawfish

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!

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How pretty are these little suckers??!!

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.

Bread Pudding

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?

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It was served warm with ooey gooey sugar, yum!

Helful Tip

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.

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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)

BBQ

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.

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Staci and our local host Kevin.

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.

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This trip I had the ribs, make sure you pick their potato salad as one of your sides.
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You eat at picnic tables. The Shed is off the highway, not sure if it’s in Biloxi or Gulfport, google it if in this next of the woods.
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They sell BBQ sauce and marinades, they have smokers outside where they smoke their meats.

Grits

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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There is always something going on, this time it was an impromptu concert.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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.

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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!

Muah!

Liette

 

Fun Things to do in NB – Sugar Shacking!

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.

Sugar Shack Profile

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.

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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.

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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.

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We walked around saying; “I would tap that”, just because we thought it was funny.

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.

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The mom gave this little guy a stick and was trying to make him use it as a walking stick. He wasn’t having it, he held it like a hockey stick 🇨🇦.

There are two other camps before Trites Maples.

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Leading up to Trites Maples, the trees were tapped with buckets attached to gather the dripping sap; it was so pretty!!

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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.

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It takes 40 silver buckets of sap to make one bucket of maple syrup! That’s a lot of drips!!

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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.

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We skipped the pancakes, this time, and made are way to the next cabin; where they sell pure sugar goodness!

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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.

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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!

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Just chilling, waiting for our tour.

Guess who was our tour guide? Maple butter mold guy! And, yup, he was a Trites too!

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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!!

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They charge $2 for a popsicle stick; it’s pretty much a maple syrup taffy all you can eat buffet; omg it’s good!

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Side note: I noticed that 80’s skidoo style tuques are hip again, I should have kept mine!

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.

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Liquid Gold

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!!

Muah!

Liette

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Fashion note, spring Sugar Sacking is muddy, rubber boots are a must!

 

New Orleans, It’s Too Much!

New Orleans, It’s Too Much!

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!

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Be prepared to have crazy hair, it will either be too fuzzy or too flat, or a combo of both.

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.

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This was our cemetery tour.

#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.

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A spontaneous concert on Bourbon Street.

Everytime I’ve been to Jackson Square I have heard students busking, the talent is amazing!

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Students at Jackson Square.

#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.

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I was walking behind these ladies on Bourbon Street and just needed to snap this pic. They were on a mission.

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The bride was ok, but this little flower girl was adorable!! The dress, the flower crown, the hair…the dress.

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#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.

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Bourbon and Canal Street are lined with shops selling beads, masks and feather boas. I love the colors.

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.

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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.

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New Orleans School of Cooking, definitely going to try a class!!

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.

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I always buy something here and love supporting local artists.

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.

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Ok, I may have taken too many pics of cute shops? I couldn’t help it!

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Modern Mid-Century lamp shop on Royal Street.
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Who doesn’t need candy and crazy scary animal masks?? Decater Street has lots of funky shops.

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!

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I came, I shopped, I ate, I left! I left really, really full! lol

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.

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bottom left is me relaxing after the street fight outside was over.

I hope this post has given you the urge to visit this beautiful city; there is just too much not to love!!

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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

Muah!

Liette

Hot Air Balloon Tips

Hot Air Balloon Tips

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If you wonder why some of you see my feature picture twice,  I post it twice so that those who subscribe and read from their emails can see it too. 

In this post I will share a few tips on how to prepare for your first hot air balloon ride. I consider myself an expert now that I have been up in one exactly one time! Lol

Ok so I am not an expert, but I can share a few tips, here we go!

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We were driven to the desert where we watched the balloons being set up and filled with air, they were way bigger than I thought they would be.
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This photo was taken by my friend Sean Miller, he brought his big camera, I just use my iPhone.
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Photo by Sean Miller.

Hot Air Balloon Fashion

The perfect way to ruin your ballooning experience is to show up dresses improperly. Chances are you’ll have to be onsite before dawn; make certain you’re warm enough to get you through till sunrise. We had a few in our group who were cold and cranky before we even got off the ground. I was happy we didn’t end up in their balloon.

The trick is to dress in layers, I had a t-shirt, my trusty black turtle neck and a light fleece like zip jacket. I threw a pair of light gloves in my cross body purse before leaving the house and I actually wore them before lift off. It gets cold in the desert before sunrise.

You also need sneakers; sandals and flip flops are a no, no. And make sure you are wearing socks. When you are in the air, your bottom half can get cold, while your top half gets hot; the big burners that heat the balloon air give off a lot of heat.

You also have to climb into the balloon basket, like literally climb, straddle the side and get yourself inside, so make sure your pants will accommodate this movement. I wore jeans with stretch.

If you have long hair tie it up or wear a hat, you don’t want your hair getting caught up in the burners.

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What Should You Bring With You?

The views are absolutely spectacular, so make certain your phone is charged, you’ll want to take a lot of pics. My friend brought his camera and small case; I had a cross body purse that I use when I travel. There isn’t much room in the balloon basket so just bring a small bag.

The air is cool the higher you go, so I packed tissues and my sunglasses in my bag. They provided us with a bottle of water.

Safety First

You will have to sign a waiver, we had to sign two. The captain will go over the safety rules and will make you practice a rough landing position, aka a crash landing. I obviously knew there isn’t landing gear on these things, but I never really put much thought into how they landed. They can hit pretty hard, bounce and drag before they come to a full stop…oh and the basket can tip over…with you in it.

We had a smooth landing, but I was ready! My knees were slightly bent and I was facing in the direction that the captain had instructed us to face. I took these rules very seriously; I may or may not have “bossed” other passengers to turn around and face the other way??? I can’t really recall for sure in all the excitement, but that could have happened?? Lol

What I found a bit surprising is that the balloon basket is sub divided into sections. So there isn’t a lot of room to move around. This is so you don’t bounce around in the event of a rough landing.

I am not really scared of heights, but I am scared of falling to my death. The basket sides are high, I am 5’7, the side of the basket was mid boob height on me, lol. This made me feel secure; you aren’t dangling over the edge, you are pretty contained.

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You can see the basket dividers in this pic. There is another divider between me and the lady beside me. You can fit 2 people per section.

Enjoy the Ride!

It was such a cool feeling to float, we reached a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. It was very peaceful and serene. I would highly recommend a balloon ride to anyone visiting, who is feeling adventurous; and to locals who want to see Vegas from above. It was $140, tax included, so not crazy expensive.

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This pic was taken by moi, not too shabby!

The colorful balloons against the blue sky were so pretty it almost looked fake.

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Vegas Hot Air, Sin City Balloon Rides, is the company we went with; they had three balloons in the air that morning. There were a few other balloons from different companies in the air when we ventured out. They look deceivingly small in the air.

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We flew over this balloon, the view and colors were awesome!

We got a great view of the strip in the distance, but the view of the mountains that surround Vegas was spectacular. I am fairly certain most tourist that stay on the strip aren’t even aware that Las Vegas is in a valley. You don’t see the mountains when on the strip.

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Photo by Sean Miller

What Goes Up, Must Come Down.

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I think we were in the air for over an hour ish? Time flew bye, pun intended.

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It’s a balloon tradition to have champagne after each ride. Captain Mike was awesome, all the staff were friendly and made it fun. Side note, captain Mike had the nicest teeth, lol. I felt, I needed to add that completely irrelevant detail… you are welcome!! 😜

I highly recommend Vegas Hot Air Sin City Balloon Rides, tell them Liette sent you. They will have absolutely no idea who the heck I am, lol.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any ballooning questions!

Muah!

Liette

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24hrs in Montréal…in February!

24hrs in Montréal…in February!

Montréal in February isn’t for the faint of heart; but it is a beautiful and vibrant city no matter what time of the year…but maybe just a bit more vibrant in the spring, summer and fall?? Lol

If you do decide to come here in February, you will need a few essential items; like a tuque (it’s a beanie for my American friends), mittens, they will keep your hands warmer than gloves; and winter boots. And by winter boots, I mean boots with grips, a fur lining is a plus too.

In this post, I tried a new hotel, visited a Nordic spa, did a bit of shopping and ate on the run; oh and I ducked into a historic church.

I was here for a quick work trip and tried to squeeze as much as I could in the short time I was here. Here are my suggestions if you find yourself in Montréal and are wondering what to do…in February.

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Hotel

I love trying new hotels and one of the advantages of traveling off season, February is off season, is that you can get really great rates. This trip we decided to try Le Saint Sulpice Hôtel Montréal, it’s a chic hotel in the heart of old Montréal.

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The main doors are under the flags. That’s Mary walking ahead of me, hurrying to get out of the cold, she is such a wimp now that she lives in Nevada, lol.

The hotel is located on rue Saint Sulpice, which is located right behind Notre Dame Basilica; now I am not a huge church person, but this one is impressive.

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Above is what it looks like during the day; below is a night view, if you are in the area, you may as well peek inside, it’s really pretty.

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When checking into the hotel, we lucked out and got upgraded to suites, which is another perk of traveling off season. Always be nice and chatty with the front desk people…always!!

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My room had a large seating area with a stone wall.

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It overlooked rue Saint Sulpice with a great view of the cobblestone roads, there are cobblestones under the snow, I promise, lol.

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But my favorite part of my room and the hotel was the bathroom! More specifically the tub!

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This is my dream bathroom; not only did it have a big shower, it also had a big tub! I love baths!!!

They also had L’Occidane bath products, which are super fancy!! I brought all my leftover bottles home.

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There is nothing like a hot bath on a cold night!

Spa

We flew in on Sunday and by the time we checked into the hotel it was early evening. The temperature was -12 Celsius, which for some of my readers doesn’t sound that cold, but because Montréal is on the water, it’s a damp cold, so it feels colder. What could be more fabulous than a Nordic Spa on a wintry Sunday night?? Nothing!

Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal is located just down the street from our hotel. We asked the concierge at the hotel for the address, he said take a right, you’ll see and smell the eucalyptus steam.

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Follow the steam. The spa is on the corner of rue Sulpice and Commune; the entrance is at: 71 rue de la Commune Street W.

If you haven’t been to a Nordic Spa, they have hot baths and saunas with cold dipping pools and cold showers. So you go from the hot sauna to the cold shower to the hot pool, followed by the cold dipping pool; and then you repeat.

I did the hot bath and the cold dipping pool. It’s so cold it picks your skin; the trick is to dip quickly and go back to the hot pool. It’s supposed to be good for you; it was surprisingly invigorating. I don’t like saunas and the cold shower just seemed like a dumb idea, lol, so I skipped those. They also have relaxation areas where people go to to relax and nap.

I get bored “relaxing” for too long, I did sit there and people watched before moving on. The one thing that I don’t love about Nordic spas is that you aren’t allowed to talk. I guess that may be the reason why some people go? But I am chatty.

After I soaked, dipped, relaxed while silent; I went for a massage. And wow! It was one of the best massages I have ever had!! My masseuse’s name was Nicholas, he was from France; if you go, you should ask for him.  He was awesome and his Parisian accent was dreamy, ok, I actually don’t know if he was from Paris, but his French accent was very different than the accent Québécois and Acadiens. Not that it was better…ok, it may have been a little better? But just because it sounded more exotic to me. No offense to the Quebecers or my fellow Acadians…ok, enough about accents, moving on, lol.

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I walked back to the hotel so relaxed I didn’t even feel the cold, I realized that this was the perfect way to spend a Sunday night in Montréal…in February.

Next time I am in town I am going to try Bota Bota Spa-sure-l’eau; it’s a spa on a boat, it looks really cool! Let me know if any of you have been there, if so what did you think??

Shopping

Montréal is probably one of the chicest cities in North America; top three for sure! So it goes without saying that the shopping here is amazing!

Here are my fav stores.

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Included Banana Republic because it’s a beautiful store! Love the historic building.

You should start in and around rue St Catherine; there you will find the Hudson Bay and the Eaton’s Center.

For my American friends, The Bay is a huge high end department store. It was a fur trading company founded in 1670 and is the oldest incorporated  joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. All that to say, it’s a big part of the history of Canada and a great place to shop; it’s similar to Sasks Fith Avenue Department Store.

The Eaton’s Center is a huge mall, located in the middle of downtown. Montréal has an extensive underground walkway, you can get in and around The Bay to the Eaton’s Center without having to go outside; which comes in handy on cold winter days. I braved the cold and walked outside, living in Las Vegas for a few years now, I felt that walking in the cold may help me get my Canadian street cred back?

Rudsak

Rudsak is a Canadian company; it’s described as a luxury fashion company. It’s on the pricey side, but their items will last forever!! Almost every item in their store was black or gray, so my kind of place. It’s my bff’s, Guylaine’s, fav store.

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They had everything you need to survive a Montréal winter in style! They also had beautiful purses. I felt butterflies in my stomach as soon as I saw them, but walked away before I fell in love; as I walked away I repeated in my head: you do not need another purse…you do not need another purse!!! Ouff, that was a close call.

They have a few locations, I went to the one inside Eaton’s Center.

Artizia

Aritzia is another Canadian company; it was founded in  Vancouver. They focus on individual style and quality garments. They also have a store in the Eaton’s Center; if you haven’t shopped there, check them out. Their clothes are more affordable than Rudsak. They remind me a bit of Zara.

COS

COS is my current fav store; it’s a Swedish company with locations scattered in key chic cities around the world. I’ve been to the store in Toronto and Paris; they also have a store on rue St. Catherine here in Montréal. I didn’t make it there on this trip, partly because I didn’t know they had a store when I was downtown and partly because I didn’t want to know for fear of buying something. My bag is already over weight, I’ve been gone three weeks, so I needed a lot of stuff and winter stuff is heavier; but I will visit on my next trip for sure.

One thing that I will say about COS, is that if you check them out online, you may think they are very boring, the clothes on their site look boring, but their stores are super chic in person. They offer classic pieces that will never go out of style. They also have cool hip pieces that are sure to become classics. They have great quality stuff, so I don’t mind paying a little bit more; but prices aren’t super crazy. My friend Aline first introduced me to this store…thank you!

Banana Republic

I am giving a shout out to the Banana Republic on St Catherine just because it’s one of the bigger Banana stores that I have been in and the building is historic and funky. I bought a blouse!! It’s light weight so shouldn’t add any weight to my suitcase, in case you are worried about me, lol.

Food

Montréal is a foodies dream, so many amazingly yummy places. It’s fun to discover hidden gems as you walk through the city. Montréal is know for their smoke meat sandwiches and their bagels, personally I prefer Montreal bagels to New York’s.

I would recommend making friends with your hotels concierge; they will know all the best places to eat.

Because this trip was super short, we didn’t have time for a fancy meal. We did grab a pizza before our spa night. Pizzeria Bros is almost across the street from Notre Dame; you can create your own pizza, each pizza is cooked in its own red pizza oven, super cute and yummy, easy on the budget too.

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They are located on Notre-Dame St W. Funny story, there was a family sitting beside us, the father looked exactly like Kramer from Seinfeld. I couldn’t stop staring. I should have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to be rude, lol. It was uncanny!!

Montréal has a definite Euro vibes, there is literally a coffee and/or pastry shop on every corner, especially in old Montréal. While walking back from my meetings, I stopped into Olive and Gourmando; I had heard so many good things about this place, I needed to see what all the talk was about.

It was packed!!! I didn’t have the patience to wait in line in the cold doorway, so I got a few things to go. My fave was the blueberry tart. It’s obviously the “it” place to meet with friends, but if you are looking for a quiet place to catch up, this isn’t the place, lol. It’s more of a see and be seen place.

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They are located at: 351 rue Saint-Paul St. W. ;Rue Saint-Paul is the main cobble stone street in old Montréal?, you will think you are in Europe.

Even though my time in this beautiful city was short, and cold, I tried to soak in as much as I could. There is so much to do and see, 24hrs is a joke, but it’s better than nothing. There was a winter festival happening the week after I left, the locals are not afraid of a little cold; so there is lots to do in the winter; but there is something magical about the city in the summer.

My next trip back is planned for July, I will do a follow up post at that time that showcases the summer vibe.  So what’s your favorite thing to do in Montréal?

Thanks for reading! Merci!

Muah!

Liette

Seeing Red! Finding the Perfect Shade.

Seeing Red! Finding the Perfect Shade of Lipstick.

It won’t be a shock to anyone to hear that I have a thing for red lipsticks. Ok, it may be a minor obsession? I am always on the hunt for that perfect shade of red. When I am stressed or feeling blah, a new lipstick perks me up and makes me feel fancy!

Red Lipstick

Here are a few of my personal favs that are versatile and will probably look good on you too. I also recruited my BFF and her daughter for their favorite brands and shades.

Bite

If you are looking for a creamy, full coverage lipstick that stays on, try the line Bite. I asked my best friend and her 18 year old daughter to show me their top two red lipsticks. All three of us had a Bite shade listed as our favorite.

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Can anyone guess which lips are mine?? Lol

Guylaine, my bff, recommends Tannin, it’s a deep red with blue undertone; I may need to add it to my collection? Gaspacho is my newest red, it’s a nice bright cheery red. Sour Cherry was Emma’s pick, it’s a pinkish red; I also love Sour Cherry; it’s the color I am wearing it in my feature image above.

Oh and this brand smells and tastes yummy, it’s very “citrusssy”! Guylaine is forever licking hers off, lol.

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My newest red, Gaspacho from Bite.

M.A.C.

Emma’s other fav is M.A.C.’s Russian Red, which made me laugh because her mother and I were wearing this shade when she was a baby. I’d like to think that I’ve been a positive lipstick role model for her growing up?

Guylaine and I have been friends since we were 14; we grew up with moms who would give us the once over before we left the house: “tu sort pas de la maison sans rouge à lèvres? » Translation, you aren’t leaving the house without lipstick are you?

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*Images above are from M.A.C.’s website.

Russian Red is an “I am not messing around shade”; it’s definitely Acadian mother approved! It’s also super versatile, it’s flattering on fair skin tones like me and also super flattering on darker complexions like the photo above.

I also love and always have the shade Moxie in my purse, also by M.A.C. If you want a beginner red, please try this one; it goes on a pretty sheer, so don’t be intimidated when you see the tube. Try it!

Also if you are trying red for the first time, put it on and then dab it off. So it won’t be so “BAM”! A lot of people tell me, I can’t wear red; which is bullshit, lol. You just need to find your shade and get used to the power that comes with red. Baby steps…

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Moxie is the second stripe from the bottom in the arm picture. This  shade is a bit on the pinker side, but it’s red enough for this post!

I gave my friend Mary a lip makeover and got her turned on to reds. We were in Montreal when she said she wanted to get away from the brown shades she had been wearing. I am not even joking, we were in a M.A.C. within 10 minutes and were out the door with matching Moxie shades not long after. I loved this color so much, I have bought it three times without realizing I already had it.

Kat Von D

I have a few Kat Von D lipsticks in my makeup bag. I recently wanted to buy a new Bachelorette, which was also universally pretty on everyone; fair, medium and dark skin tones. I think it’s been discontinued, which is a bummer; I was told that Outlaw is their new best red seller. I haven’t tried it yet; we’ll see if it’s as versatile as Bachelorette?

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Kat Von D’s Outlaw

What Shade is Right for You?

If you are fair, look for reds with blue undertones, if you aren’t sure what colors have a blue undertone? Just ask the makeup artists onsite. Lighter skin tones can also wear a red with coral or pink undertones. I am fair, but I stay away from corals because they don’t work on me; pinks are all good though!

If your skin tone is more on the olive side, then stick with reds that have  corals or orange undertones.

If you have a dark complexion, a deep red with blue undertones will be the most flattering on you!

I recommend going to Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, or wherever it is you shop and ask for help. Ask them for recommendations on a few red options for you. BTW it may take you a few wears to get used to seeing red on you, just don’t give up! No one likes a quitter, lol.

I hope you enjoyed this post; with Valentines Day right around the corner, I think you should treat yourself to a new lipstick!! And then find someone to kiss and mess it all up!!

Click on like below if you like it, share it on Facebook if you loved it!! As for comments; do you wear red lipstick? If not? What’s holding you back??

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Dim Sum Yum! Chinatown, Las Vegas.

Dim Sum Yum! Chinatown, Las Vegas.

(for my subscribers, if you are reading from your email, click on the title, it will make everything look fancier).

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Lots of cities have Chinatown’s; New York, San Diego, Vancouver are just a few that come to mind, but did you know that Las Vegas has it’s very own Chinatown? Neither did I until I moved here. It’s just two miles from the strip, along Spring Mountain Road.

Anyone who has been to Las Vegas in the past few years is painfully aware that it has become a very expensive city; especially if you are staying and eating on the strip. I encourage you to take a super short Uber ride over to Chinatown. It’s by far the best bang for your buck! And what a yummy bang it is, lol.

Dim Sum

I am not a Dim Sum expert by any means…like really not. I am just a French Canadian girl trying new things and sharing my experiences. So let’s get started; and by started, I mean let’s eat!

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The first advice I was given about Dim Sum, was not to fill up on rice or noodles; so what were the first two items we got? Yup, rice and noodles, lol. The second advice was don’t order coffee, because they serve tea. So what was the second thing we did? You guessed it, my friend ordered coffee; we were off to a great start!

Dim Sum is traditionally served for breakfast, but in the US and Canada, it’s more of a brunch thing.

If you have never been to a Dim Sum, here’s how it works; they roll out carts of food and you select which small plates you want, no menus needed. It’s perfect for sharing, so bring a few friends.

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The carts come out in random order and they keep coming, so take your time. You can let a cart go, it will come back; I promise!

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Chinatown has an abundance of restaurants; we went to Honk Kong Garden, there are two of them, this one serves Dim Sum, see above.

There are so many hidden gems in Chinatown, we have visited a few so far. We used Yelp for a bit of guidance; all have been fantastic and cheap!!!

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The top left dish was shrimp and top right was pork, sorry I didn’t get the official names, the carts were just coming at me so fast I couldn’t keep up, lol.

We ate a lot!! You will leave full, but please save some room for desert.

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Hong Kong Garden is my friend, Michael’s fav restaurant, even though you can eat desert first, he advised against it. So I did wait to eat one of these custard filled rolls until after I was done dim suming (yes, I know it’s not a real word); and omg, it was so good! It was still warm, crusty sugar on top and a gooey custard in the center.

So here is my hard hitting question for you; how adventurous are you? Would you have tried the chicken feet? I passed, but I did try a few new things and like them.

Chinese New Year is quickly approaching, it’s Feb 5th; so Happy Year! This year is year of the Pig, in case you were wondering…you’re welcome.

Thanks for reading!

Muah!

Liette

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