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.

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.

Qui Austin

This year, Clay and I spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day in Austin, Texas with his family. While there, I was able to cross off an item from my 30 Before 30 list, #15: Eat at a Top Chef’s restaurant. Not only was it a Top Chef, but it was one of my very favorites: Paul Qui from Top Chef Texas.

They graciously accommodated our party of 14 for a 3-hour meal. The menu was exciting and the service was unbelievable. Every course came with unique flatware, locally-designed plates, and table-side presentations. Paul even served and explained a few dishes to our table.

I was already so excited and then I saw calimocho on the menu. I make my own basic version by adding red wine to Diet Coke, but theirs was, expectedly, soooo much better. It included some spices I can’t remember and orange peel. And it came in this really neat spouted carafe. Amazing.


Qui serves family-style so we were able to try most of the food from the menu. We started with an “ode to Michel Bras”: chilled turnip dashi over a selction of vegetables from Austin farmers, and kinilaw: amberjack filipino ceviche (one of my favorite dishes of the night).

Next we had chicken adobo rice, kare kare: filipino peanut curry vegetables, cabbage with crispy chicken skin and spiced yogurt, and sea urchin pasta (not pictured). The kare kare was the best thing I ate. It was a new flavor and so delicious; it didn’t even need meat.


Next we tried dinuguan: pork and blood gnocchi, three preparations of rabbit, and chicken inasal. I couldn’t get good pictures of these courses, but they were all phenomenal. My mother-in-law even said it was the best chicken she’d ever had. After dinner they brought us crackers with a foam topping, meant to taste just like Ritz crackers and cheese. This was an exciting Top Chef kind of moment for me. I haven’t eaten much foam anything, let alone cheese-flavored foam.

For dessert we tried halo halo and a cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich. Both were delicious and so different than anything I’ve ever tasted.

All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. Now Clay and I are talking about traveling the country to eat at more Top Chef’s restaurants. And I can’t wait!

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!
































You’re a Wizard, Harry

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been busy completing another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #8: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Clay and I took a week trip to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. We were both so excited to see the Harry Potter themed attractions, and I’m happy to say they did not disappoint. Tucked away in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park is the cozy village of Hogsmeade. Take your picture by the Hogwarts Express, delight in the treats at Honeydukes, and experience the wand selection process at Ollivander’s. It really does transport you.

We took some time to rest at the Three Broomsticks pub and had a couple butterbeers. While it was incredibly fun, I didn’t love the flavor: a little too sweet for me!

After riding a hippogriff and taking the Dragon Challenge twice, we came upon the real highlight of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts. It’s incredible to look at and even more exciting to walk through. It’s the kind of line you want to wait in, just to take in everything. See the talking paintings, visit Dumbledore in his office, help Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the classroom, and chat with the famous sorting hat. Oh, and the actual ride is awesome too.

Every fan of the movies and/or books should definitely see it. Even non-fans will find the rides exciting and well done. It was really a magical place and I can’t wait to visit again.