A New Orleans Cemetery and Old Lady Skelly

On our trip to New Orleans, we decided to do the most cliché touristy thing we could think of: take a city bus tour. The tour was great and long, and I *did* fall asleep at one point but what I’d like to focus on here is the part where we stopped at one of the cemeteries.

I hate to say this, because it sounds weird and a little creepy to admit, but the New Orleans cemeteries are, in a word: Fascinating.

 

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All of the names of the occupants are written on the door… and as they ran out of room, on the steps. 

Did you know that there can be dozens of bodies stored in these suckers? Or that a “fresh” body must stay in the tomb for one year and one day before another body is put in there? Apparently there are three layers to these. The top layer is for the most recent occupant. The second layer is where the body in the top spot is moved when a new body arrives. The tombs then get so hot in the Louisiana heat that the bodies are naturally cremated. So, when ANOTHER body comes in, the now ashy remains in the second tier are “given the shaft” so to speak, as their remains are shoved to the back, and fall down a chute to the third layer where they get to rest with all their loved ones. Gothic, but a happy ending in a way.

I may have just disturbed the hell out of anyone reading this, but there was only one thing that really curdled my blood in the cemetery. That was the story of “Old Lady Skelly” as the tour guide called her.

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This is NOT a castle. This is a tomb.

Apparently Old Lady Skelly and her daughter had a volatile relationship. You know, one of those things where the daughter wants to just spend money and make crummy choices and mom wants to cut her off, because as you may be able to tell by the palatial mausoleum, Old Lady Skelly was rolling in the money. During one of the blow-ups the daughter reportedly said something along the lines of, “When you’re dead I’ll have all your cash!” This resulted in Old Lady Skelly pouring all of her funds into the court system to have bodies and tombs relocated so she could have a big enough place to build the grandest tomb she could with the money she had left. She proceeded to build a ridiculous resting place for her immortal soul and for her dog. Oh, then she made it clear that her daughter wouldn’t be able to be laid to rest with her and had to find her own tomb. Ouch.

How sad is that? This woman actually spent her last days on this earth using her money and energy to give the ultimate middle finger to her daughter. How lonely. What a waste.

I thought it strange that like any graveyard back home, this cemetery had made me face mortality but not in the way I expected. Instead of reflecting on how short and tenuous life is, I found myself thinking of how I would like my life to turn out… And I knew that when my life ended, I didn’t want it to end like Old Lady Skelly’s.

We got back on the tour bus, and as I promised at the beginning of this post, I fell sleep somewhere in the middle of passing by some old southern mansions. I woke up to find the man in my life’s hand holding up my head.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“You were asleep and your head started falling… I didn’t want you to wake up since you looked like you needed the sleep.” He said in the most matter-of-fact tone ever. As if every man does something this sweet all the time. Oh, AND he refused to tell me how long he had been holding up my head. Good grief, am I a hot date or what?

To get right down to the point, I’m pretty sure that with people like him in my life? I won’t have to worry about facing the end of my days bitter and lonely, and that’s a blessing worth counting every day.

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Roasted Vegetables

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I haven’t made it a secret that I’m not a lover of veggies, but with the wisdom of age, I’ve come to realize that they are *probably* a necessary thing to include in my diet of bacon and candy if I want to pretend to be living a healthy life.

So I got to puttering around on the internet and came across Jessica Merchant’s How Sweet Eats blog and her suggestions for roasted vegetables. As a side note, looking at a blog called “How Sweet Eats” I think we can all agree that the last thing I should’ve walked away with was a veggie recipe. However, it checked all the right boxes. Easy to prepare? Yes! Quick to cook? Yes! Easily snackable? Totally! This was being made pronto, because for the love of God, my body apparently needs “nutrients”.

Since variety is the spice of life and of my food, I chose 4 different veggies and 4 different ways of seasoning them. Okay, okay, I actually just copy and pasted her suggestions into my oven. If SHE (as in the writer of the site called “HOW SWEET EATS”) likes them, I will too right? Anyways, it ended up being plain roasted bell peppers for me, smoked paprika and cauliflower, broccoli with garlic, and sweet potatoes with cinnamon. I popped them in the oven and crossed my fingers.

They were actually a really good snack! And a good side dish! And a good appetizer! And pretty much an all-round great dish! In a strange way too, all those different flavors seemed to complement each other as well.

I gotta give Jessica props. She got me to enjoy veggies without covering them in a crapload of Ranch dressing. That my friends, is quite a feat.

Self Portrait #1: Imperfections

I’m a lot of things, but perfect isn’t one of them.

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Take my face for example. My eyes are disproportionate. Not only is one much bigger than the other, but they are also different shapes entirely. Do you know how hard it is to apply eyeliner without emphasizing how crazy asymmetrical they are? Most days I give up halfway through.

My hair is intolerable. I beg with it, I plead with it, I try to tame it with bobbi pins and love, but at the end of the day I can barely put it up in a half-ponytail. It tends to go slightly Bridget Bardot, getting worse and worse as the night goes on, but in a not sexy way. Most days, I don’t even try.

Then there’s my mouth. I’ve had braces twice and may have to go back for a third(!) round. You see, I have this overbite that always creeps up. It causes my lips to seem slightly downturned, and it rumples my chin into a smattering of dimples. It emphasizes a weak jawline. I’ve been known to try to thrust my lower jaw forward to hide this imperfection, but most often, it’s out in the open.

I’ve been accused of having resting sad face*. This is also a symptom of the overbite. When I am relaxed is the time when I’m most often asked if something is wrong. It’s hard to convince people I’m fine – it goes along with a pouting lip and a rumpled chin.

The thing is, I could try to hide these things as I have in the photo. I could spend more time on my eyeliner, blowdry my hair, thrust my jaw out. Maybe I could even turn my face to the side to find a more complimentary angle. In the end though? I’ve found the best way to hide these imperfections is to smile and forget about them. Because really? They don’t matter that much anyways.

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*I’ve also been accused of having resting llama face. As a result, I’m a huge fan of the llama trend that is happening right now.

Products used:
Josie Maran – 100% Pure Argan Oil
EltaMD – UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46, Tinted
Cargo – One Base Foundation + Concealer (only on spots and discoloration)
Paula’s Choice Skincare – Soft Cream Concealer in Soft Ivory (on the undereye area)
BareMinerals – Original Foundation in Fairly Light (lightly powdered over face)
Cargo – Powdered Blush in Rome (only on apples of cheeks)
Tarte – Park Ave. Princess Bronzer (used under cheekbones and along hairline)
Urban Decay – Eyeshadow in Foxy (all over eye including lid all the way up to the brow)
Urban Decay – Eyeshadow in Relish (in the crease of the eye)
Jane Iredale – PurePressed Eyeshadow Duo in Oyster/Supernova (used only Supernova over entire lid)
Urban Decay – Eyeshadow in Desperation (lined across upper lash line and halfway across bottom lash line)
Urban Decay – Eyeshadow in Buck (only in the outer corners of eyes)
Too Faced – Better Than Sex Mascara (Both top and bottom lashes)
Bobbi Brown – Natural Brow Shaper in Blonde
Paula’s Choice Skincare – Lip & Body Treatment Balm (used on lips)
NARS – Sheer Lipstick in Belle de Jour
NARS – Illuminator in BLKR (dabbed onto high points of cheeks)

Eating in New Orleans

Why is it that when you’re ill, the only things you crave are powdered sugar and fried chicken wrapped in bacon with a side bucket of grease? Okay, so I crave greasy bacon and powdered sugar on a regular basis but STILL… You guys know what I’m talking about right?

In the great spirit of eating all the good things, I thought I’d relive some of my favorite eats from New Orleans while I’m trapped to the whole “stay in bed and rest” thing. I don’t care where you’ve eaten and what you think, you’ve never had real Cajun until you’ve had it in the south friends.

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Drinks come with a warning here. Photo from Coop’s Place website.

First up is Coop’s Place. I tried the smoked duck quesadilla because, HELLO, it’s smoked duck. In a quesadilla. Need I say more? There was enough spicy heat for it to set my (very!) sensitive stomach off, but not enough to burn the holy hell out of my mouth. That may be because the accompanying sour cream did a pretty good job of putting the fire out. In addition to the quesadilla (with duck!), I thought it would be fun to order a mint julep (those are a thing in the south right?) and got a perfunctory warning about the strength of said drink. I took one sip and nearly gagged. What can I say, I’m a lightweight.

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The Fried Chicken. Photo from Emeril’s website. I ate too fast to take a picture. 😦

Secondly, an ode to the Fried Chicken at Emeril’s restaurant. The Fried Chicken deserves capital letters because OMG, it is probably the best thing I will ever taste in my life. I literally apologized to my significant other for cheating on him with That Chicken. I tried to muffle the “Oh God!” and “Mmm, Yes!” but some things just can’t be controlled. The salt level, the herbs and spices, the crispiness of The Chicken… Everything was flat out perfect. It even came with a side of macaroni and cheese that would’ve been appreciated more if it weren’t so completely overshadowed by The Fried Chicken.

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I’m actually NOT sloshed in this photo, nor even tipsy. This is my “OMG PIRATES face. Notice the original forge behind me? Photo courtesy of the poor soul dating me.

Next up, LaFitte’s was a PIRATE BLACKSMITH BAR. No, but actually, I’m not entirely sure about the pirate part but someone told me its true so I’m going for it. Since I’m a secret pirate geek, I was hardcore GEEKING out here. Seriously, it was believed to be a base of operations for smuggling. What’s awesome is they still had the original forge! Anyways, had to drink a hurricane because frankly, I was ready to get sloshed, and what they made was complete dynamite.

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I want to live here. Photo courtesy of Cafe Du Monde. The yummiest place ever. 

Finally, a visit to Café Du Monde where I casually stuffed my face with beignets. I had no shame in walking around with my hands, face, and hair dusted with powdered sugar because they were a dream to eat. It’s like munching on a condensed, bite sized funnel cake. I may have developed a crack-like addiction to these in the short time I was in the Big Easy.

Yep, definitely craving these foods while sick in bed. Go figure. Well, guess I better go make myself some nachos with a side of chocolate chip cookies. And a milkshake.

Coppertone Sport Lotion SPF 50

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Ever had those moments where you unexpectedly run out of your high end, spa quality sunscreen and then realize you can’t wait the several days it will take to ship it to your house and on top of it, payday isn’t until Friday?! Cue the mad dash to the corner drug store because when it comes to sunscreen, I take that ish serious people, I NEED IT IN MY LIFE.

The thing is, I’m fair as the driven snow. I give Casper the Friendly ghost a run for his money when it comes to how pale we can be. I *am* the Irish White Girl lying on the beach.

So, suffice to say, I wear my sunscreen year round, whether raining or snowing, sunshine or cloudy it gets applied if I’m going outside. The everyday sunscreen I’ve been rocking lately? It has been that same sunscreen I picked up at the drugstore, people. Coppertone Lotion SPF 50. Yup, I crank it all the way up to SPF 50 on the daily. Rest assured this also contains both UVA and UVB protection. Gotta like that broad spectrum SPF!

The great thing about this stuff is that it is water resistant. I can sweat in this and not have to worry about it dribbling into my eyes and stinging the holy hell out of them. It also goes on quite smooth and is not a pain in the rear to put makeup over. It does have a white tint when first putting it on (I think? It’s hard to tell since my skin is WHITE and it sort of just makes me look glowy instead. I have a feeling it would not have the same effect on darker skin tones…) One possible caveat, is it does have a definite fragrance. It’s that sunscreen smell in the best possible way. When it’s first applied, it’s strong enough for others to smell it on you… but it wears off. I call it my stinky-smell good.

Oh, and for the win? I’ve yet to get sunburnt while wearing this. A truly astonishing thing!

You can find it at Target for 7.99!

Active Ingredients:Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 4.5%, Octocrylene 8%

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer Glycerin, Polyester-27, Silica,
Phenoxyethanol, Isododecane, Arachidyl Alchohol, Beeswax, Ethylthexlglycerin, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate,
Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Arachidyl Glucoside, Glyceryl
Stearate, PEG 100 Stearate, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Fragrance

Cosmetic Ingredient: Water

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Let’s discuss water in our cosmetics, shall we? Sometimes water in our products gets a bad rap, particularly if that product cost a bajillion dollars and water is the main ingredient. Feels like sort of a rip off, yeah? Some people will even call it “filler” and implying the company uses it to make it seem like there’s more valuable product than there actually is in the bottle.

Well, that’s wrong.

Water’s main purpose in many products is as a solvent. This means that there are a lot of ingredients that first need to be dissolved in that good ol’ fashioned H2O. For example, as a soapmaker I can tell you that you dissolve sodium hydroxide into distilled water, before adding it to oils. This step is a necessary process to be able to mix the oils and lye to create the final product – soap.

Water is also used in emulsified recipes. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a body lotion and a body butter is, it’s that by definition, lotion must contain some form of liquid, most likely water, while body butter should not.

As an ingredient, water may also serve to dilute powerful additions to the product that may otherwise cause irritation if left in their pure form. Certain active ingredients and essential oils need to be dispersed so as not to cause raging, angry skin. Believe me, the drama is real on this. Also, some ingredients just work better with water. And I’m all for better.

Now all of these points does not mean that water by itself does anything skincare wise. Beyond cleansing, you really won’t get any skin benefits from soaking your face in water. Actually, if my prune toes at the end of the bath have anything to say about it, it can actually have the opposite effect! That being said, I think it’s important to note that water is great to have in anything that contains active ingredients. However if you are trying to combat wrinkles and dehydration, maybe stick to the oil based products.

Please remember, that when buying a product that contains *any* water, that said product *should* contain a preservative. Water based ingredients can allow bacteria to grow (ugh!) and the last thing you need is some jungle rot growing in your facial cream. If you do choose to go the no preservative route, make sure you use your product very quickly! Refrigerate it too!

Finally, not all water is created equal. It’s pretty damn important that distilled water be used and NOT just average tap water. The microbes, metals, and other debris found in tap water can mess with the formula, and no one needs those problems. I’ve seen a gallon of distilled water go from seventy five cents to two dollars. So if you see product selling for half your mortgage with a main ingredient of water? Make sure the rest of the stuff in the bottle is worth your moolah.

I encourage you to do your own research on any ingredients in your cosmetics. Personally, I find it quite fascinating to learn about these things!

By the way, my cat helped me write this post. She tapped on the keyboard THE ENTIRE TIME.

Products I’ve reviewed that contain water as a main ingredient:
Paula’s Choice All Over Hair and Body Shampoo
Paula’s Choice Smooth Finish Conditioner
Coppertone Sport Lotion SPF 50

Chocolate Cream Puff Trifle… Actually, Forget the “Trifle” Part.

Despite all her controversy, Martha Stewart still remains my go-to when trying to find recipes. She keeps it basic enough that even a non-baker like me still has a chance at it.

Enter the Chocolate Cream Puff Trifle, because you know, it’s chocolate and I deserve it. Right?

This confection requires several steps and some of those, regardless of dummy-proof instructions, I may have messed up. The recipe required anisette to soak some dried cherries in and not having anisette but definitely having a leftover bottle of Ouzo, I thought this would make a lovely substitute. I don’t know why I didn’t run away from this recipe right after making this decision. There is a definite reason why the bottle of Ouzo *hadn’t* been finished off.

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Continuing with what was supposed to be a massive trifle, I made the cream puffs. The Cream Puffs. Oh My God, Heaven Came Into My Mouth When I Tried These For The First Time. Something came over me. I couldn’t stop consuming them. The raging chocolate monster in me was binging and there was no stopping it. The frantic frenzy only came to an end when I realized that there was only one cream puff left. That’s right folks. I gorged myself and couldn’t take it back.

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What resulted was a one cream puff dish swimming in a ricotta-chocolate mixture with homemade whipped cream and the worst Ouzo soaked cherries I’ve ever had in my life. The “trifle” ruined my last cream puff for me because all I could taste was that godawful Ouzo.

Maybe this is God’s way of showing me that fruit and dessert shouldn’t mix. Who knows? One thing I can say is I didn’t regret eating all those cream puffs before making the trifle after all.