New Orleans

This Christmas, Clay and I traveled to New Orleans to spend a week with friends and family. It was a first-time visit for both of us and we were excited to be staying in an 1850s home on historic Esplanade Avenue.

Our first evening in the city, we wandered through the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street. We ate jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and fried catfish for dinner and of course had some voodoo juice from an obnoxious plastic to-go cup.




We rode the street car plenty, a fun and convenient way of traveling through the city. I especially loved the few that allowed open windows and we could really appreciate the cool New Orleans weather.


We visited Louis Armstrong Park, Jackson Square, and watched family members enjoy raw oysters (I prefer my oysters fried). We ate delicious buttermilk drops from Wink’s and beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde, where we inadvertently cut the huge line of people waiting for a table. Oops!



On Clay’s birthday we took a tour of Mardis Gras World, a cheesy attraction to see how the mardis gras parade floats are made. It was fun seeing the huge styrofoam and papier-mâché sculptures and I felt nostalgic for the many hours and late nights I spent in the sculpture studio in college.




For lunch we tried the original hurricane at Pat O’Briens. Four shots of liquor in each drink took out a few of us!

One of the highlights of the trip was a tour of Laura Plantation, a historic Créole sugar plantation on the Mississippi River. The owner took us through the property and explained the history of the plantation through several generations. The house itself is an example of traditional Créole-style architecture and was constructed with specially designed cypress beams (each numbered, as pictured below) and without a single nail.


The property has a handful of slave quarters still standing: 64 square foot rooms where entire families would live together. This is the slave house where the tales of Compair Lapin (clever rabbit) were recorded, the Créole version of Br’er Rabbit.


We also visited the historic Degas House on Esplanade, just a few homes down from where we were staying. The home was owned by Degas’ uncle where the artist lived for a short time in 1872. I didn’t know Degas stayed in New Orleans in his lifetime and it was a delight to see.


One of the more memorable things about New Orleans are the above-ground cemeteries, similar to those seen in Europe. They are haunting and beautiful and reminded me of Paris. Two notable tombs we visited were Marie Laveau’s, the Voodoo Queen, and actor Nicolas Cage’s. A tomb worthy of a national treasure indeed.



The entire trip was filled with good seafood, but the most picturesque was definitely the crawfish boil at B&C Seafood Market.

And the absolute best food we had was french toast and fried chicken at a neighborhood spot called Lil Dizzy’s. Several of us agreed it was the best french toast we’d ever had.

Another great Christmas trip in the books. I wonder where we’ll go next year.

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2014 is almost over

It’s been several months since I’ve posted here, but I’m back. Just in time for 2014 to come to an end. With no expectation of making up for over 9 months of updates, here’s my 2014 quick highlight reel.

In February I decided to say farewell to my team at meltmedia and joined the team at &yet.

It’s been amazing! Design, development, illustration, and personal growth. It really is a dream job and I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. The team is headquartered in Richland, WA and working remotely has been quite the learning experience.

For my birthday in April, we spent the weekend at Disneyland. Managed to take a neat photo from the top of Screamin’ at California Adventure.

The same weekend we saw The Book of Mormon at Pantages Theatre. It’s just as awesome as I hoped and I can’t get those songs out of my head.

Soon after, our niece Rebekah was born! She’s amazing. Here’s a picture of her and my brother from her Red Egg and Ginger party in September.

At the end of April I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Fortaleza, Brazil to speak at JSConf. Clay and I had a horrible airport experience, but Brazil is so beautiful we soon forgot.



In July we traveled to Minnesota to hang with Clay’s family and visit his childhood home once more before his parents put it on the market. We saw the Twins play, hiked at Gooseberry Falls, and drank/biked on a Pedal Pub.


In August my A Single Div project made its way to the front page of Hacker News. It was exciting and overwhelming to have so many people sharing my project. And it was later featured in the December issue of Net Magazine. Crazy!

For Halloween I attended my friend’s Wes Anderson themed party. I went as the narrator from Moonrise Kingdom. I was proud of my last minute costume.

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my parents’ house in Scottsdale. Clay’s and Vanessa’s families joined us and it was great having everyone there together.

And to wrap up the year, we snuck in one more Disneyland trip before our annual passes expired. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen the park, but it was still very magical.

After Christmas we’re heading to New Orleans to spend the last few days of 2014 with Clay’s family. Next year is going to be awesome.

Walk, Don’t Run

I’m stretching this a little bit, but it’s my list so who cares! I’m crossing off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #26: Run every day for a month. Just replace “Run” with “Walk a shit ton.”

Last month we had a FitBit walking competition. The person with the most steps in 4 weeks would walk away the winner. I decided to go all out and win by as many steps as I possibly could. Before the competition I averaged around 5,000 steps per day. And during, I averaged about 30,000. In 4 weeks I racked up 830,631 steps and took first place!

Even though it wasn’t running, I definitely pushed myself. I spent most of my free time walking and even walked the 9 miles to work a few times. It was exhausting and my feet weren’t happy with me, but it was really fun. I’ve been taking the past week off, but I’m excited to get going again!

Hawaii

Earlier this month we had an amazing time in Hawaii to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We stayed in the Ko Olina Beach Villas and it was just as relaxing as we hoped! We spent plenty of time at the beach, visited the Dole pineapple plantation, ate at the shrimp trucks in North Shore, and toured the USS Missouri. Here are a few instagrams from the trip!











Road Trippin’

Clay and I are finally settled at home after spending a week crossing off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #14: Take a road trip.

We drove up through the middle of California to the Pacific Northwest. After a few amazing days in Portland and Seattle, we drove back to Phoenix by way of Boise and eastern Nevada. We didn’t have many plans and although I was a little anxious, it worked out wonderfully. We made sure to stop at silly roadside attractions and to relax when we wanted to. We also enjoyed amazing food in every city we visited.

Here is a whole bunch of photos from the road!
































Happy Birthday, Dad!

This weekend family and friends gathered at my parents’ home in Scottsdale to celebrate my dad’s 65th birthday. It was great to see everyone and to enjoy some delicious food. The weather was absolutely perfect! And, even though it was my dad’s party, my little nephew Henry sure did steal the show. I’m so grateful for such a wonderful father and to be surrounded by such awesome people.

Back in the Black

I am literally jumping for joy to be crossing off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #3: Eliminate my private debt.

I’ll start this post by saying how unbelievably lucky I’ve been. I grew up in a home where life was more than comfortable. I didn’t need to worry about money. And after I was “grown up”, I was still blessed with generous parents to help me when I needed it.

Five years ago I found myself buying a house, a car, and planning a wedding all in the span of a few short months. My parents were able to give me some additional cash to make the transition not only less frightening, but secure even. We didn’t talk about a payment plan or timeline. They were willing to give and I gratefully accepted.

After they had shown me such generosity with no questions asked, I knew I needed to pay them back as quickly as was reasonable. While offering money is easy, asking for it back isn’t.

And so, as of this morning, my balance has officially dropped to $0.00. It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders and I’m sure off my parents’ shoulders too. They’ve supported me (monetarily and otherwise) my whole life and I’m very thankful.