Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Orleans Girls Trip!

So, this post is long overdue... but I've put off writing it because I don't possibly know how I can capture the craziness that was our weekend in one blog post. But I'm going to try.

Our weekend fun-ness started Thursday night (February 2nd-wow, way overdue. sorry.) Bryn and I left home to meet up with the girls in Pittsburgh. Kayla graciously opened her couch and guest bed to the rest of us gals, and we were greeted with wine and cute little travel-kits including: Feather masks and mardi gras beads (duh), My Little Pony Activity books for the plane, and mini liquor bottles <3.

After a night of wine and catching up, we hit the hay early to be ready for our early 6am flight! They Kaylas were the first two out, and after covering k2 with a blanky on the couch, Bryn and I giggled and chatted in the guest room like kids waiting for Christmas until we finally joined the other gals in dream land.

In the wee hours of the morning, we finally departed for the Pittsburgh airport (special shout out to Kayla's man Ri-Love for transport to and from the airport! wootwoot!) Upon reaching the ticket counter an airline employee totally freaks us out is completely helpful in telling us: "Oh you're never gonna make that flight." But, a quick repack to make it through the express security check, and a morning sprint through the airport and we finally boarded a plane full of passengers who were way less than happy to see us. Being K2's first flight, her and Bryn snagged seats together, and Kayla and I landed seats with wonderful strangers we befriend on the short flight to Chicago.

Nealry missing our connecting flight YET AGAIN, we just made it, and arrived in NOLA at about 10:30am. Our driver Tony picked us up in our luxury sedan and nearly killed us quickly got us to our hotel. (We're talking a 30 mile trip in like 15 minutes! Texting while driving! weaving between lanes! Eek!)

Finally we arrived at our home away from home for the weekend, Chateau Le Moyne in the French Quarter:

It's owned by the Holiday Inn chain, but in a beauitful historic building! Afforadble, clean & comfortable,
and one block off Bourbon St.= thumbs up from us gals!

Not excited to be there or anything...

The day ensued with lots of good food and lots and lots of alcohol. (Sorry, but there's just no other way to put it). We dove right in with Alligator Bites and Hurricanes at Oceana Grill.

Gator Bites- Blackened not fried!

Our first NOLA meal; great food & great friends
We enjoyed Hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, and rock-paper-scissor tourneyed with strangers :)

We bought cherry bombs from street stands, strolled Bourbon Street, visited the bright ecelectic shops, enjoyed the live music everywhere, danced in the street to a jazz band in front of the St. Louis Cathedrale

I had my runes read by a man in a top hat, we laughed, we meet many local characters, and even some out of towners like Santa Claus- who apparently enjoys being tipped by people who want their pictures with him; that's just a guess though because of how many times we heard him calling out, "Santa takes tips!"
Even. To. Kids.! No shame these days.

And we karaoked our hearts out to "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" at the Cat's Meow.

The rest of the night became way too fun and way too sloppy to post about. We had had quite the long day and maybe a few too many hurricanes, so we called it a night. The next morning was not so fun... except for Bryn who enjoyed an early morning Bloody Mary with some type of Shrimp critters on top?? (I need a picture here Bryn...) and a lunch full or oyster slurping, which did wonders for the queasy feelings in the rest of our bellies.

It was a beautiful restaurant called Bourbon House, with wonderful service and an interesting menu. Needless to say I stuck with soup... but otherwise it was a good start to the day.

We walked the length of Canal Street and made it to the Mississippi river...

...where a bird pooped on Kayla's head. She's always the lucky one.

We decided to take the trolley that runs along Canal Street up through the Garden District to all of the old cemetaries. It decided to monsoon while we waited for the trolley, but before long we were resting our weary bones and enjoying a trolley ride through the city. Util we got to here:

The cemetaries in this city are definitely a must if traveling to New Orleans. Many of the tombs are family plots and date back to the 1800s and even earlier. They are beautiful and eerie at the same time; Very Tim Burton-esque if you will. The history here is so rich; New Orleanders definitely honor their dead in way much different than anywhere else.

While here we popped into a little Zombie themed cafe for some coffees, smoothies, and treats. King Cake of course! And a few bites into her piece, K2 found the baby!

She would...
We concluded our evening in true Mardi Gras fashion by catching the Krewe du Vieux parade! The parade's theme was "Crimes against Nature" and featured floats centered around current civil and political issues. According to the krewe's website,
"The Krewe du Vieux is a New Orleans Mardi Gras or Carnival krewe, originally and more fully known as the Krewe du Vieux Carre (“Vieux Carre” being another term for the city’s French Quarter). It is one of the earliest parades of the New Orleans Carnival calendar, and is noted for wild satirical and adult themes, as well as for showcasing some of the best Brass and Jazz Bands in New Orleans." (For more information about their mission and the organization click here.)

The parade was a blast--great music, hysterical floats, and an excited crowd. I had trouble getting any really good photos, so here's a picture from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, showing a float criticizing the plastic surgery epidemic in America:

After the parade we enjoyed another fabulous dinner at Red Fish Grill. A quick power nap and we were ready to hit the town again for a wonderful last night in the Big Easy. We befriended bouncers, met a Vampire and her horny husband, I lost my purse and we sprinted back 5 blocks to the scene of the incident where the kind bartender had it waiting behind the bar (seriously, I owe him my life...), sang another slightly less successful karaoke performance, and had bead pelted at our heads from the balconies lining Bourbon Street. And it was perfect just the way it was.
We got back to the room just beofre 5am!?! Had just enough time to shower, finish packing, and lay our heads on our pillows, before our cab picked us up at 6:30am to head to the airport. The flights home went much smoother. And Ri-Love helped us out again by picking us up at the airport.

K2's the only one with a brain. The rest of us went to work the next day. It was the worst. But it was also the best kid of tired :)

We can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Diva Dance Birthday Party!

Ever wonder how to through the perfect Diva Dance party for a little girl??
So did I. And after searching high and low, with only a handful of inspiring ideas, we decided to go it on our own. Here's how the party turned out!

I have introduced her in the past, but this is my niece Ashley.

She is fun, sassy, smart and beautiful (as if you couldn't see that for yourself...).
Well, this year our little diva turned 6, and I just knew we had to have a
spectacular party for her and her friends.

So when I mentioned a Dance theme, and Ashley's eyes twinkled--we had found our party inspiration. The fun started with these adorable invites we created.

Ashley got to pick some of her favorite songs that we burnt onto CD's for
her friends.
Her party playlist included songs by Alvin & the Chipmunks, The Jackson 5,
Justin Beiber (duh),
Selena Gomez and The Black-Eyed Peas. I created the CD labels with the basic Averytemplate in microsoft word, and then emailed them to a local copy shop. Little labels on the back read "Here are some of Ashley's favorite songs
to keep you dancing until party time!" with a
list of the songs on the CD.

In true diva fashion, we had a photo-shoot for her "album cover."

Here are some of the special touches we added to give Ash and her friends the chance to party like a rockstar: My sisters (one being Ashley's mama), made this perfect guitar cake out of tiny, bite-size cupcakes! And even the ice cream cones were diva-licious.

Seriously? Could this be any cuter?? The bite-size cupcakes were wonderful for the girls too and
reduced the chances of 12 half eaten cupcakes...

Sugar cones and a scoop of ice cream, rolled in silver sprinkles? Hello-microphones! Ice Cream fit for a group of rockstars!

I made this Diva bunting by using scrapbook paper in different colors and
textures that matched the party theme (Silver glitter, hot pink, purple, black & zebra)
Each girl got their own VIP tag with their name on it when they arrived at the party!
I decorated the table using the really thick meshed ribbon they sell around Christmas, a spool of hot pink ribbon, and disco ball silver Christmas ornaments (can I get an amen for post-season sales?)

The rest of the house was decorated to fit theme too!

The girls decorated T-shirts and danced the day away...

Please take a second look at our diva's outfit for the day...? AND all of her friends' outfits also. And tell me when 6 year olds started dressing better then I do??

We also sprayed a pink stripe in all of the girls hair, gave them temporary tatoos, and played a few dancing games. Here's the party planning committee:

Even little Amber took part in the dancing fun :)

The day was long, the girls were crazy, and by the end we were all exhausted... but Ashley and all of her friends had such a great time and were adorable in all of their sugar-enduced party excitement :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gals Go New Orleans

In less than 24 hours we gals will be on a plane to New Orleans for a girls-getaway weekend!!

Clearly pictures and posts will follow on our fabulous time there.

Until then, here's our "to-do" list:

Ghost Tour Bar Crawl
Try some traditional NOLA grub (Po-Boys, Beignets, Gumbos, even Alligator maybe!)
Eat at a fabulous restaurant
Voodoo Shops
Friend tatoos?!?
Trolley Ride & Garden District
Hurricanes :)
Jazz/Zydego/Blues= MUSIC!!

And anything else that strikes our fancy while we're there!
Can't wait to get away with the gals and can't wait to take NOLA by storm (or by hurricane?)