Conversation in the ladies room

How was your weekend?

Oh we got our decorations up.  My husband got on the roof and I couldn’t watch, but it’s done now and it looks great!

Wow on the roof!  That must’ve been nerve wracking. He has life insurance right?!

I know! Earlier in the year, he got a chain saw and was cutting down some limbs off the trees and he decided to tie it to his waist so it would free his hands.  I couldn’t watch.  I finally had to leave the house.  And when I came back, he had an iced tea in one hand and his other hand had a big ol’ bandage around it.  He had put his hand on the blade before it stopped spinning and grazed it.

I’m a firm believer of outsourcing.  Also, that chainsaw needs to magically disappear.

Not another haircut

Usually, I like to show my haircuts with a before and after cut comparison.

(See 2017, 2016, 2015)

This time, I’m showing a before and after a year of growth.
1 year of growth

I’m hoping to grow it another year before lopping it off again. The thing I learned about a short cut is, I like them. They require less work to look stylish. Although I won’t go this short again because it gets all bent out of shape when I sleep and trying to fix it takes heat and effort. A bob length is easier because there’s enough weight on the hair to not get too unruly. Also, it can be tied back for the gym.

The food in New Orleans, LA

The one thing I’d heard over and over from multiple sources about New Orleans was the food there is AMAZING. I put it on my list of places to visit for the creole, etouffee, gumbo, fried anything, beans and rice, and on and on. Then after I started eating plant-based, I wrote it off. So when I visited last week, I really had managed expectations despite what I’d heard about it being some kind of food mecca.  I thought I’d for sure have to duck into some greasy junky Chinese restaurant to find a plant-based meal.  I seriously entertained the idea of looking for a Panda Express. But holy moly was I utterly wrong about that.  NOLA has the best (plant-based) food I’ve had in all my travels since I started eating plant-based. They have plenty of restaurants (way more options than I can find in DC) and they’re all knocked-it-out-of-the-park excellent and the ones I had were all within a 5 mile walkable or transit-able distance.

Even if you don’t eat totally plant-based, you’re going to love this food. It’s just good food period. Here’s what they served.

  • A well-thought menu, with well-crafted dishes.  Not a burger patty made with rice or quinoa slapped between a hamburger bun. Not a salad minus the cheese.  Not some afterthought of side dishes slapped together.  It has cooked beans or lentils.  It incorporates fresh vegetables and whole grains.  It’s not overly fried or salted or made with unrecognizable composites and called “chick’n”.  It’s real food made with real ingredients.
  • Hearty and filling food.  The portions are generous enough for me to say “I’m full and satisfied” at the end of the meal.  And let’s just say I’ve had enough people gawk at me as I take seconds or thirds to recognize that I have a very healthy appetite.
  • Tasty and fresh ingredients made with plenty of flavorful spices enough to inspire me or give me new ingredients to experiment with when I cook again.  And it’s also flavors I don’t make at home.  It’s new and interesting to me.

These places I went to in NOLA all fit the bill.  I wanted to take them all home with me and I miss them now even as I reminisce.

These first two on my list I declared as “my favorite” “number 1” “this is the place to go if you only get one meal in NOLA” each time I ate at each place.  So it’s a toss up.  I ate at both places, one after the other, on my last day before catching the flight home.

Sweet Soulfood
Sweet Soulfood

Walking in here, you’re hit with a steam sauna of flavor. They cook everything fresh and it steams up the little diner. Everything is plant-based and it’s all so hearty and delicious, I wanted everything. Their portions are generous enough to fill me up. The dishes are made with fresh ingredients and they have rotating daily specials. This meal’s daily special was the barbecue cauliflower. I love their jambalaya and cornbread. They do use some vegan sausages for some dishes, like the jambalaya, but it’s not heavy-handed and you will find bay leaves in the food because they actually cook with real seasonings. So good! I’m going to be saying that a lot here.

Good Karma
Good Karma
This place is such a hippie-dippie-coffee-tea-organic-plant-based-gluten-free-namaste-yoga-hang-out-and-relax kind of cafe. Seriously, it’s connected to a yoga studio. Their food is phenomenal and I said that every time I dug into their daily soup and veggie special. It’s inspired me to cook with lemongrass, galangal, and lime juice more, though I doubt I could create any of these dishes. I need this restaurant in my life. The food is incredibly warm and delicious. I think we ate here for four meals.

Seed
Seed
This place is a lot more fancypants then the first two places. They have table service. They also serve cocktails. The nice thing about NOLA is I can order a bourbon drink before noon and it’s perfectly whatever. Also, it was so good I noted the mix: Buffalo Trace, lemon juice, and hot sauce. I will definitely make that at home. This is also an all plant-based restaurant, but the options lean a tad more vegan-junk-food. Fried seitan nuggets for example. However, you can get hearty non-junky things too like gumbo and etouffee. Wonderfully warm and flavorful.

Green Goddess
This place is not entirely plant-based but they have multiple vegan entrees and they’re all well done and satisfying. It’s conveniently located in the French Quarter and if it were located here in DC, it would easily be one of my favorite places to eat. In NOLA though, with all those other places competing, this one is just okay. I have to give them credit for well-designed dishes though, beans, rice, vegetables all freshly prepared.

Satsumas
Satsumas
Ok, not a restaurant, but easily our favorite food in New Orleans. They’re a local in-season fruit and they are so juicy, sweet, easy to peel, and thirst quenching. We walked or took the trolley 3 miles each way to get these at a local grocery store three times for a total of maybe seven dozen satsumas. At first glance they don’t look all that great. Green tangerines. I expected them to be sour. But nope, they were awesome little fruits. I think my favorite thing to do whenever I travel is visit grocery stores and local markets.

So in short, New Orleans is a food mecca. It’s dirty, it’s gritty, it rained every dang day we were there. But the food. Man! The food! It can only come from a city with so much love you can taste it.

Cava

Not to be mistaken with their sit down table service restaurant, Cava is like the Chipotle of Mediterranean cuisine. It’s a fast casual place that dishes up bowls of food with mix and match combinations of rice, lentils, salad greens, hummus, vegetables and on and on. It’s about $10 for a bowl and while I still prefer Mom’s Naked Lunch, this came in a close second. I really enjoyed the crunchy salad mix they had (Splendid/Supergreens) and the lentils and hummus made it filling. Would I come back? Do I recommend? Sure and sure!

Grain of salt: I have been having difficulty finding proper meals dining out and I’m probably not the best judge of restaurants anymore. But I really thought it was good and I have a coworker who says she and her boyfriend eat here at least once a week! That must count for something right?

Also I forgot to get a picture before I dug in. It looked like a bowl of greens and vegetables.

Fabric Shaver

And with the colder weather, my winter clothes have come out of summer hibernation. Usually I don’t give this clothing swap much thought. I just grab everything that I have that’s summer stuff and shove it in a giant bag (or two) and then grab all the cold weather stuff crammed in my wardrobe, and put it on my shelves. Done. It takes me all of 15 minutes.

This year, my year of Konmari, I was a bit more judicious in what I decided to save in my summer wardrobe and also what I no longer wanted in the winter shelves. Much of it isn’t donate-able quality but I donated it anyway because I have heard from a couple of sources that they recycle textiles and supposedly it’s best not to throw textiles in the trashcan. Except socks and underwear. I still junk that.

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance decluttering with waste generation. I could keep wearing my old clothes with holes and bad elastics to just keep the stuff out of the waste pile, but on the other hand how many pajamas do I need?? All my house clothes are basically demoted anything, gym wear, work wear, street wear. Eventually it’s just too much.

Here’s an example of something I decided to salvage though – I was going to get rid of this pilly brown sweater because it looked like this:
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But then I thought, maybe I can try and salvage it, so I got this sweater de-piller or fabric shaver.

Here are the results.
Fabric Shaver>

Sorry, the picture is crap, but let me just tell you, it’s far from good as new, or even good enough to wear to work, but it’s a vast improvement from how it looked before.

Winterizing

Fall lasted about eight hours this year. A couple weeks ago, temperatures dropped about 20 degrees overnight. Normally, any temperatures above 50s, I would just leave the kids outside. But because it went from 80s to 50s/60s overnight, I decided to bring them in for the winter season. They had no time to gradually acclimate to the cold.

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I hope the kids survive this winter darkness!

Leggins!

I hopped aboard the synthetic activewear bandwagon when my last gym pants gave out. Leggins were (and still are) ubiquitous when I needed new workout pants and my old school cotton capris were not so easy to find anymore. At first, I really liked my new leggings. They were so stylish and pretty. I felt like I was channeling Taylor Swift every time I headed to the gym in my trendy new leggings. But eight pairs of leggings and a year later, I have come to the conclusion that even though leggings are nice, I prefer my cotton workout clothes. I prefer exercising in pants that aren’t skintight. And nothing is more breathable than cotton. Yes sweat, but I would change out of my sweaty exercise clothes regardless of fabric type anyway. The only exercise I would prefer synthetics is probably hot yoga, which I don’t like and rarely do anyway, and spin, which I do maybe once a month, if that. I’m still of course going to keep wearing my leggings, but I won’t be adding more to the workout wardrobe. It was fun to go whole hog on leggins but alas, the fire is gone.

Fountain penning

The recent review about my fleeting artistic endeavors reminds me of my other “hobby” that I picked up several years ago. Fountain penning. How’s that going you might wonder? Well, it’s sort of stalled. That’s the thing about stuff hobbies. It’s just buying another and another. I don’t plan on getting anymore except eventually a TWSBI.
In the height of my penning, I was using the Pilot Kakuno, Petit1, and Metropolitan at work and regularly journaling with the Pelikan. Now, only the Pelikan and Petit 1 are currently inked and used. The Metropolitan was recently cleaned and the Kakuno is a lost cause. The lid cracked, the nib dries out, it spurts ink sometimes. I don’t know what to do with it. Marie Kondo would probably say, throw it away. I can save the nib and feed which also fits the Metropolitan. It does have a nice extra fine nib. Guess it was a get-what-you-pay-for situation.

So the thing about fountain pens, and pens in general is hand writing things just doesn’t happen much these days anymore. My handwriting is crap because of it. I used to try hard with my notebooks at work to jot notes neatly. You’d see at least some parts of my notes with schoolteacher writing and some notes that are rushed. Now almost all my notes look rushed.

Moon Cake Day

I’m so glad it’s finally fall. Squashes. Coffee. And wine. That’s how I welcomed fall.
Today, I stood staring at all the plants I have on my balcony wondering where I’m going to put them all indoors. You might think, just put them where they were last winter. How they went out, how they come in. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. They multiply. Or propagate or whatever. I just start propagations whenever I can as insurance. Backup plants in case the mother plant kicks the bucket. Or in case anybody wants one. Or I have an empty tomato can needing to be filled with something. I’m probably going to take a few to work. It might be the best way to ensure their survival because window real estate is tight.

And also it’s mid-autumn festival. Moon cakes festival. Some moon cakes are tolerable, but for the most part, they are dense, thick, and pasty inedible things. I imagine that’s what it must taste like for kindergartners when they dig into a jar of paste.

Ready for it?

I’m so ready for fall. Sorta. I’m ready for pumpkin spice everything! But this weekend’s all day rain situation made it seem a little too right away and I’m not sure I’m that ready.
I can already feel the days getting shorter and that’s a bummer.
This unusually chilly, wet weekend, I looked at my closet of tank tops and just felt like tossing it all in a bag and stuffing it in the back of the closet, then curling up with a glass of wine and eating something with pumpkin in it. It’s too soon though. We still have plenty of 80 degree days to contend with. So maybe I’m not so ready for it.