Sunday, May 31, 2009

California: Day 3 - San Diego Zoo

That is my hilarious aunt in the corner - she was very excited to be at the zoo... ha!
This morning we got up at the crack of 9am (I consider that early when vacationing...) and drove to the San Diego Zoo! I was very excited since it is supposed to be amazing... and... it was!! Number one, it's HUGE - and we have the Atlanta Zoo, which is pretty big - but I'm not sure it can compete with San Diego.

Number two, when you first walk in, you are surrounded by GORGEOUS peacocks (I think you are all aware of my peacock fetish)...

Number three, there was an entire family of monkeys!!!

One of the younger monkeys was so cute - showing off, doing backflips for the crowd!
While we were there, we took the "Skyfari" across the zoo, which gives you an aerial view of all of the animals, and gives you a nice little break from walking in ridiculous, but adorable wedges that you decided to wear to the zoo.. Like an idiot.
When we were all zooed out we drove through Balboa park and wished we could have stopped and wandered through all of the museums, but we had to make it back in time for me to make delicious pasta salad to go with some yummy grilled chicken made by my Dad and uncle.
Pasta Salad Recipe
1 pkg whole-wheat bowtie pasta, prepared as directed
1 pkg (7 oz) prepared refrigerated pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (this absorbs into the pasta, so you can add more if needed after refrigeration)
1 tbsp Caesar dressing
1 pkg baby Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 cup green onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg Julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes, rough chop
1/2 small can diced black olives
1 pkg pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
I modeled this recipe after the pesto pasta salad at Le Madeline's - fave. It makes a TON, serve cold - perfect for a quick lunch or snack!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

California: Day 2 - San Diego Old Town Market

This morning, we caught up on some sleep (to counteract the jet lag) and grabbed some lunch at the famous In-n-Out Burger! It was sooo yummy - comparable to Atlanta's Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

After lunch, we headed to the San Diego Old Town Market. It was awesome - it felt like you were walking through an authentic Mexican bazaar, only really clean! I found some fun gifts for friends and amazing Mexican tin folk art.

We also ran across a very cool surf shop with the owner's personal collection of vintage skateboards hanging from the ceiling. There were probably at least 2000 boards all over the store - it was incredible! I wish we could have stayed longer at Old Town, but we had to get back to go to our ultra-fancy family dinner at Vivace.

The food was unbelievable and EVERYONE got their own dessert, which were quickly passed around the table so we could all have a "taste". Tomorrow we are getting up early to go to the San Diego Zoo!!

Bonus Goose! (painting in the hotel lobby)

Friday, May 29, 2009

California: Day 1 - Travel to San Diego

We flew to San Diego at 1:15pm and arrived at 8:30pm and were STARVING!

So, we found the first Mexican restaurant that looked fun and delicious - Fred's Mexican Cafe! It was so good! The chips were crunchy and hot and they had an entire offering of fresh salsas!

The decor in Fred's is very cool - beer bottle chandeliers among regular chandeliers, Mexican tin mirrors and wall medallions - very cool.

After filling up on chips, salsa and giant burrito platters, we made our way to The Four Seasons Aviara Villas (I'm so spoiled - I know) to go to bed so we could wake up early and explore San Diego!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Forever L-S-U!!!

Where stately oaks and broad magnolias shade inspiring halls
There stands our dear Old Alma Mater who to us recalls
Fond memories that waken in our hearts a tender glow
And make us happy for the love that we have learned to know.
All hail to thee our Alma Mater, molder of mankind
May greater glory, love unending be forever thine.
Our worth in life will be thy worth we pray to keep it true
And may thy spirit live in us, forever L-S-U.
Tomorrow I will be driving home to Atlanta. I am very excited to have graduated college and to be moving back home, but I am sad to leave LSU and everthing I love about it. Here are just a few of the things I will miss...

Tailgating on the Parade Grounds on Saturdays

Tiger Football in Death Valley on Saturday night

Crazy and devoted LSU fans (I have met the owners of those two poodles, and they are an old couple! ha!!)

Mike the Tiger
Walking the LSU lakes with my sorority sisters

My sorority, Delta Gamma, and our beautiful house

The Golden Band from Tiger Land

The Chimes, my favorite Baton Rouge restaurant, they have the BEST boudin balls and hush puppies ever!!

Mardi Gras!!! and the 3 days we get off school for it!

The Spanish Town parade flamingos that pop-up all over the lakes during Mardi Gras season

Crawfish Season

The pretty LSU Quad
Canes - the best chicken fingers in the world.

Hubig's Pies - so bad, but so good.

Other things I will miss:

Rush workshop, matching dresses, bronze pink and blue, anchors, Hannah, ice water, philanthropy, skit, skit songs, rush songs, bouncing and clapping, pref night, bid day, exchanges, the Greek bus, sorority row, fraternity row, homecoming, decorating for homecoming (not pomping), chapter meeting, chapter dinner, studying at the house, stealing cases of free RedBull with Emily, the styrofoam cups at the house, parade grounds, biscuits at the house in the morning, our cooks, breaking into the kitchen, Mom Kaye, Phi Psi, SongFest and DGs obession with it, going out every night, Zippy's, The Royal Standard, monograms on everything, Big Sis/Lil Sis week, fraternity parties, Strawberry Abita, The Bulldog, P&A, free drinks at Roux House, free drinks at JL's, "frat laps", shacking, shacker kits, everyone's obession with YouTube and Facebook, driving around and blaring music with the windows down, River Road, party cups, Grub, Formal, Semi-formal, dressing up for exchanges, the smell of football season, Tureaud, coozies, champagne nights at the apartment, staying up til 3am, wasting entire days...

I will miss every single thing about college. Four years is not enough.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pink champagne on ice...

Welcome to the hotel california... Such a lovely place... Such a lovely face... They livin' it up at the hotel california... What a nice surprise, bring your alibis... Mirrors on the ceiling... The pink champagne on ice...
May 29th I will be flying to San Diego, California for a what-I'm-sure-will-be-amazing family vacation! I'm so excited! I've never been to California and I already have a HUGE list of things I want to do while I'm there!! If any of you have any suggestions on MUST SEEs or MUST DOs please let me know! We will be in Cali for a whole week and I can't wait! And don't worry because I will make sure to bring you with me and fill you in on all the cool things I do! YAY!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's official... I'm a college grad!

Today I am graduating college...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 7 - Cotton

Cotton is a huge crop for Southern farmers and an essential part of any Southerner's wardrobe. From seersucker to blue jeans, cotton is the the most widely used fiber for clothing in the US. It's inexpensive, breathable and oh-so-comfortable. The best thing about a plain white t-shirt is you can wear it to sleep in, wear it working around the house or even throw one on with your best blue jeans and some fun jewelry for a night out! I probably have more t-shirts that one person should legally be allowed to have, but what can I say, it's hot down here and they're the most versatile thing I own!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 6 - Mason Jars

Mason jars are widely used all over the South, most commonly for pickling or canning. However, the best use I've found for an old-fashioned mason jar is for sipping my favorite ice cold beverage, which happens to be seltzer water and crystal light strawberry drink mix - so delicious! Widemouthed jars have been Southern kitchen staples since the Ball Corporation began producing them in 1884, the company makes 585,000 mason jars each day.

History of the Mason Jar
1858 - John Mason invents the first canning jar with a screw top; his patent expires in 1879, opening the market for competition

1884 - Brothers Frank, Edmund, George, Lucius and William form Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing in New York State and start making mason jars. The company moves to Indiana three years later

1909 - The first Ball Blue Book, a primer on home canning, is published (an updated version can be purchased at

1918 - The Ball brothers bequeath a small college in Muncie to the state of Indiana; the school is later renamed Ball State University

1933 - The Ball Company does not lay off a single employee during the Great Depression

1972 - After 88 years as a family-owned business, Ball goes public

2009 - The Ball mason jar celebrates its 125th anniversary. An exhibit Can It! 125 Years of the Ball Jar, can be viewed through August 23rd at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, Indiana
information from Country Living, Vol. 32 No. 5

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 5 - Pecan Pralines

As sugary as they are Southern, pecan pralines are a Southern tradition that began in New Orleans, LA in the 19th century. Early "pralines" were actually not made with pecans, instead, whole almonds were individually coated in caramelized sugar. It wasn't until French settlers brought this recipe to Louisiana, where both sugar cane and pecan trees are plentiful, that New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for almonds, added cream to thicken the confection, and transformed the praline to what is now thought of as a traditional pecan praline.
If you can't make it to New Orleans for the original, pralines are fairly easy in your very own kitchen:

2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecan pieces and halves
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut in pieces

Combine sugar, milk, and water in a 2-quart saucepan; heat to boiling stirring constantly. Cook until mixture reaches soft ball consistency (235°).Remove from heat; stir in pecans, vanilla, and butter. Immediately drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.

Or, if you don't think candy making is your cup of tea, you can have the sweet treats delivered right to your door from Aunt Sally's in New Orleans.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 4 - Sweet Tea

1. perfect glass of sweet tea - 2. the devil - 3. iced tea spoon - 4. Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
Some will argue that you can't make sweet tea sweet enough, and as un-southernly as it may be, I prefer to add my own sugar to my tea! There. I said it. Sweet tea is a staple beverage in the South. My grandmother always has a fresh pitcher in the fridge made from Luzianne tea bags and sweetened just perfectly. We love sweet tea so much in the South, someone went ahead and turned it into a delicious elixir you pour with water and tastes just like the real thing only with a little tingle left in your mouth. I am a lover of all teas, green, black, hot, cold, fruity... the list goes on! The best place I know to get a fresh glass of sweet tea is my grandmother's, but if I can't get that - I love the tea at Chick-Fil-A in Atlanta. For those of you who are inexperienced in the tea department, I suggest the following:

- Go to the grocery and find a box of Luzianne (specially blended for iced tea - of course)
for the love of all things Southern - DO NOT use Crystal light instant tea mix - or anything instant for that matter!
- Brew the tea and pour into a pretty pitcher
- Add just enough sugar so there is a hint of sweetness to it
- Fill a tall glass or mason jar with ice and pour in the tea
- Add additional sugar and stir with a long iced tea spoon
- Sip and enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 3 - Seersucker

In 1907, a New Orleans clothier created a light-weight suit made from blue and white striped cotton which he named "seersucker", from the Persian words ‘milk and sugar’. The fabric was originally worn only by the poor in the U.S. until it was made popular by college students. Soon after, it quickly became mandatory summer attire for Southerners.

Seersucker even made it’s way to Washington as a result from the need to make hot Washington summers bearable for Southern senators. During the summer months in Washington, Southern senators would trade in their dark wool suits for lighter garments made of linen and cotton. With the introduction of air-conditioning the wearing of seersucker in Washington was forgotten until the late 1990s when Mississippi Senator Trent Lott decided to revive the tradition by selecting a "nice and warm" day in the beginning of June he named Seersucker Thursday. Seersucker Thursday is still honored by all Southern senators each June in Washington.

In the South, it is only appropriate to wear seersucker between Easter and Labor Day and widely considered a fashion faux-pas to wear it any other time. The most common color for seersucker is white and blue, although there are other colors available.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 2 - Bourbon

Bourbon is an American whiskey made from corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky where it was first produced. Most bourbon is still made in Kentucky today. Although bourbon has been made in Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia, it is estimated that 95% of the world's bourbon is distilled and aged in Kentucky. Bardstown, Kentucky, is called the Bourbon Capital of the World and is home to the annual Bourbon Festival in September.

Because there is not a very well-documented history of bourbon, there are many conflicting legends. Some credit the invention of bourbon to a pioneering Baptist minister and distiller named Elijah Craig. who is said to also be the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste." In Bourbon County, Kentucky, an early distiller, named Jacob Spears, is credited with being the first to label his product "Bourbon whiskey." Is is likely that there is no one true "inventor" of bourbon, but the stories are fun to share.

My favorite drink happens to be a mint julep, but when that isn't available, I love a good bourbon and diet Coke, preferrably Maker's Mark (made in Loretto, Kentucky) or Jack Daniels (made in Lynchburg, Tennessee).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 1 - Ginger Jars

Blue-and-white porcelain, or Qinghua Ci, is a 700-year-old Chinese tradition of creating beautiful and graceful vessels that are shaped and glazed by hand and decorated with classic motifs. In the South, we have dubbed these pretty jars, "ginger jars" because some of them were originally designed to hold ginger. The most popular style of ginger jar in the South is blue and white, and most Southern decorators follow the rule of having at least 1 blue-and-white piece in every room of the house. Although blue-and-white is the most popular in the Southern United States, there are many other colors, and each with their own meaning:

Yellow jars
- a traditional gift to China's Emperor, yellow was the Emperor's color and represents a wish for health and long life
Red jars - symbolizes a wish for happiness and prosperity to the recipient
Jade jars - a traditional color for ginger jars
Golden jars - known to be accompanied by elaborate floral motifs
Black jars - often feature chrysanthemum patterns
White jars - a traditional Chinese wedding gift, often bearing the Dragon (the groom) and the Phoenix (the bride) on either side, it offers wishes of happiness, prosperity and fertility to the new couple

It is not only the color that is significant in the different jars, but what is depicted on them as well:
Crane – Long Life
Peacock – Blooming, Bounty
Butterfly – Happiness
Warrior – Safety, Guarding and Protection
Elephant – Good Fortune

I began my ginger jar collection a few years ago and I love finding new and beautiful pieces to add to my collection!