Poor & Pretty Travels: 12 Things I Loved in New Orleans

12 Things I loved in New Orleans feature via @poorandpretty

12 Things I loved in New Orleans via @poorandpretty

I am on a crazy traveling/networking kick, you guys. I got home from New Orleans on Sunday night and pretty much collapsed into bed. This weekend is Monarch Workshop. And the weekend after that I am staying at home as much as possible, ha! Here are a few things I fell in love with in NOLA:

Sami with Emily and Kathleen - Being Boss NOLA via @poorandpretty

1. Being Boss. I’ve been obsessively listening to the Being Boss podcast since June, and drinking in every bit of advice imparted by hosts Emily Thompson (above left) and Kathleen Shannon (above right). Their mantra “Do the Work; Be Boss” is something I say to myself on an almost-daily basis. I get so caught up in research, self doubt, and trying to feel “ready” with my work that I become paralyzed and afraid to actually do anything. So when Emily and Kathleen decided they were going to New Orleans and inviting 75 bosses along, I didn’t overthink. I bought my ticket, and went, and shared my ideas with other badass creative boss ladies, and totally conquered. I gained so much confidence and self-awareness, and of course amazing connections! When I came home, I got to work finishing my natural beauty eBook and launched it on Tuesday. You can buy it here

Sami and Jem Being Boss NOLA via @poorandpretty

2. My roommate. I was a little nervous about sharing an AirBnB with someone I didn’t know, but when I discovered Jessica (alias Jem) regularly attends Renaissance Faires, I knew we’d get along just fine. And we did! Jem is a super talented comic book artist currently working on a weekly comic called Cap and Sable, a spacey pirate tale. We explored the city together, gave each other confidence, shared book recommendations, and geeked out about Harry Potter a lot. ANd her hair! It makes me want to put pink back in mine…

Chicken and Waffles at Desire Oyster Bar NOLA via @poorandpretty

3. The food. Some of the food highlights from my trip were roasted chicken with jambalaya risotto at Bourbon House, chicken & waffles at Desire, pulled pork Po Boy somewhere on Bourbon Street… NOLA is another city of amazing food, pretty much everywhere you go. I don’t eat seafood, but there were plenty of delicious alternatives for me. I would have loved to do lunch or dinner at Brennan’s, but we didn’t make reservations and you definitely need them there!

4. The beignets. You can’t go to New Orleans without eating beignets! When Suzi and I went to NOLA in 2008, we waited in a pretty long line at Café Beignet for ours (expect to do so if you’re heading there too). Luckily, the genius organizers behind the #BeingBossNOLA trip grabbed a bunch for us one morning so we didn’t have to wait in line! They are amazingly fluffy and doughy and sugary.

Gelato from Sucre NOLA via @poorandpretty

5. The gelato. Walking around the French Quarter trying to decide what to eat, Jem and I stumbled upon Sucré, a sweet boutique on Conti Street. They had 14 different French Macarons, artisan chocolate bars, handmade marshmallows, personal cakes named after musicals, and gelato! Though we were tempted to have gelato for lunch, we hurried out, ate somewhere nearby, and went back for dessert. It made me want to start a bakery so bad!

6. The crêpes. Connected to the apartment building we were staying in was a little coffee shop called Merchant. They had amazing crêpes, which Jem and I ate every morning.

Frenchmen Art Market New Orleans via @poorandpretty

7. The Frenchmen Art Market. If you’re into supporting handmade artisans like I am, you’ll want to check out the art market on Frenchmen Street. It’s bit of a hike, but still totally walkable! Because it only runs in the evenings, there are string lights hovering above the artists’ tents. It felt so magical! The goods ranged from big painted canvas artwork to handmade 80s and 90s memorabilia to jewelry made of fish bones.

Dollz and Dames NOLA dress via @poorandpretty

8. The dresses. While we’re on the subject of shopping, let’s talk about Dollz & Dames! It’s a small boutique on Decatur Street, filled with rockabilly dresses, shoes, skirts, tops, vintage lingerie… I spent a lot of money here, and I’m certain if Suzi were with me again, she would have too. I bought this entire ensemble there!

Tarot Card Reader Jackson Square NOLA via @poorandpretty

9. The Tarot Reading. One of my missions this visit was to seek out the tarot card reader Kathleen spoke about during an episode of Being Boss. We knew she had blue dreadlocks, a hat, and was in Jackson Square (as are most of the readers). We found her on Saturday, and she was wonderful. I’m keeping the reading to myself, but I will say it was powerful and I am very glad I found her!

Lord Chaz Ghost Tour NOLA via @poorandpretty

10. The Ghost Tour. I was really excited about doing a ghost tour with my fellow bosses because that’s one thing Suzi and I didn’t get a chance to do on our first visit to NOLA. The tour was booked through Lord Chaz Ghost Tours, who were incredible. We were split into three smaller groups, so we didn’t have Lord Chaz himself, but the guy we had (I forgot his name!) was fantastic. We learned all about the voodoo, vampire, and ghost legends that haunt the city. That big shadow behind our tour guide? We dubbed him Spooky Jesus. 

Halloween in NOLA via @poorandpretty

11. Halloween. NOLA lives for well, pretty much every holiday (and some they even make up), but this is doubly true for Halloween. Houses, shops, and restaurants in the French Quarter were covered in creepy clowns, skeletons, animatronic witches and vampires. We walked past the above clown-filled porch on our way to Frenchmen Market Friday night. I would have hated living next to those folks!

Gemini Bermuda Triangle with Fearless Fresh Stephanie Stiavetti and Erica Midkiff NOLA via @poorandpretty

12. The Gemini Bermuda Triangle. While at a the Being Boss Bourbon House dinner Friday night, I wound up sitting across from and next to two fellow Geminis. Now, I don’t let astrological signs and horoscopes run my life by any means, but I totally buy into the fact that people of the same sun sign have similar personality traits. Turns out Fearless Fresh chef Stephanie Stiavetti (above left) and content coach Erica Midkiff (above right — I was so excited to meet her!) are also Geminis, and also can’t drink coffee because it makes them insanely jittery, and can’t help speaking loudly and excitedly, and always have a million different entrepreneurial ideas and creative paths they want to follow. So we called ourselves the Gemini Bermuda Triangle because non-Geminis could get totally swallowed up in the middle of our energetic, creative madness.

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What to Bring to a Blog Conference

what to bring to a blog conference feat via poorandpretty

what to bring to a blog conference via poorandpretty

I’m gearing up for The Hello Sessions in Portland this Friday — I can’t wait! It’s the first blog conference I’m attending in-person, so I’m pretty excited/nervous. I have a feeling I will be spending a good portion of tomorrow night packing, but here are some of the essentials (besides underwear) I’m bringing:

1. The perfect notebook. I love notebooks! I have so many unique ones, all filled with teenage angst and creative ideas. But this? This is the perfect notebook for creative conferences. It’s pretty, spiral bound (so you can slip a pen into it), and has a pocket (for all those business cards you’ll be collecting)! And, like everything ban.do makes, it has a sweet surprise in the way of a colorful yellow spread that reads: “Your face is like sunshine.” Get it: Ban.do Rough Draft Spiral Notebook.

2. My favorite pens. I’m pretty particular about my pens — I like colorful, smooth, ballpoint pens, preferably with a rubber grip — and these are my favorites. The hot pink is my go-to, of course! Get ‘em: Paper Make InkJoy Retractable Ballpoint Pens, 24 Pack of Assorted Colors.

3. Backup juice. I plan on doing a lot of Instagramming and Tweeting during my trip to Portland, so I know I’ll need an extra charge for my phone. This tiny power bank is about the size of a lipstick and holds an estimated 1.2 additional charges for the iPhone. It’s got just about 3,000 reviews on Amazon, and a 4.5 star rating. Oh, and it’s pink! ;) Get it: RavPower Portable Charger 3200mAh Power Bank.

4. LOTS of business cards. I ordered more business cards just for this! My goal is to run out again. :)

5. A bag to fit it all in. With all this stuff, you’re gonna need a bag to carry it all! I’ve been eyeing the Camp Director Tote for a while now — it’s pretty roomy, and will even hold a 15″ laptop. Get it: Camp Director Tote via ModCloth.

6. A cute dress. Why not wear a floral dress to the Rose City? I so wish this cute number was available in my size! Get it: Luck Be A Lady Dress via ModCloth.

7. Layers! Ever have that problem where you show up to an event in a sleeveless dress, only to discover it’s FRIGID inside? I definitely have! So now I pack layers, and J.Crew’s Jackie Cardi is one of my faves. Get it: Jackie Cardigan Sweater via J.Crew.

8. Cute-but-also-comfy shoes. The only thing worse than be freezing all day because you forgot to pack layers, is getting blisters from those shoes you bought just for the event that ended up murdering your feet. So go with something pretty, but also comfortable. Get it: In a Classic of Its Own Heel via ModCloth.

Did I leave anything out? Have you been to any awesome creative/blog conferences lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Road Trip Update 6: Tennessee, Virginia, and Home

Road Trip Day 12 - Tennessee state sign

Last week at this time, I was heading to Memphis, listening to the latest music Suzi provided for me (Johnny Cash and Elvis made top of the list, of course).

Road Trip Day 12 - Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

By 6pm, I was humming Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” and strolling down Beale Street.

Road Trip Day 12 - Elvis Presley note Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

… I didn’t have blue suede shoes though, so I wore my gray Minnetonka Kilty Suede Moccasins instead.

Road Trip Day 12 - King's Palace Cafe live music Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

After doing a little bit of shopping, I was drawn to the live music playing outside of King’s Palace Cafe.

Road Trip Day 12 - King's Palace Cafe dinner Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

So I enjoyed their BBQ Platter — ribs, pulled pork, and “Voodoo potatoes” — while I watched the live performance. By the time I worked my way through all that delicious food, it was getting dark and Beale Street was a little seedy for a solo roadtripper like me, so I headed back to my hotel and watched The Birdcage on TV before falling asleep.

Road Trip Day 13 - Graceland Elvis house Memphis Tennessee

In the morning, I swung by Graceland to pay my respects to Elvis Presley. I got there too early to do a tour, but I couldn’t have done one anyway as it takes 2.5-3 hours. So, I walked around the grounds for a bit, then got back in the car and drove toward Nashville.

Road Trip Day 13 - Loveless Cafe Nashville Tennessee

In Nashville, I got gas and ate at the Loveless Cafe. Well, okay, there was a 2 hour wait, so I got my grits, biscuits, and ham egg and cheese to go and ate in my car (even the seats outside were all taken!) I am not normally a grits fan, but damn. Those grits were good.

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke Virginia

I hit pockets of rain on my way to Virginia, but got to the Hotel Roanoke around 7pm.

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke lobby

It was built in 1882 so it has gorgeous old-world charm. Look at this lobby!

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke secret sitting room

There was even a secret sitting room off my room. I may have enjoyed my room service in here… ;)

Road Trip Day 14 - Connecticut state sign

Friday, I woke up super early, threw on my best red, white, and blue and booked it back to Connecticut. At 4:30pm, Stan was giving me the best hug ever.

Road Trip Day 14 - Independence Day Jell-O Cake

We ended the night watching fireworks under an umbrella at my Dad’s house and enjoying Suzi’s 4th of Jell-O cake! (See what I did there? ;)

Though I would have loved to share my trip with Stan or a few family members or friends, it was really liberating and empowering to do it on my own. It’s still incredible to me that I drove across the country and back on my own. I experienced pure natural beauty (Rocky Mountains, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon) and geeked out over Thelma & LouiseBuffy and Breaking Bad filming locations. I had amazing food and some not-so-great food, too. I listened to some great music and audiobooks (The Fault in Our Stars and okay, some Harry Potters) and an overrated one (sorry, Kerouac). I visited friends and family and it was amazing!!!

See all of my road trip updates here:

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Road Trip Update 5: Arizona & New Mexico: Feeling Grand and Breaking Bad

It feels really good to be home. I wanted to blog on Friday, but I was so tired the rest of the week. My body is still recovering! So here’s the fifth update from my road trip, covering Arizona and New Mexico (and a little Texas and Oklahoma).

Road Trip Day 9 - Cracker Barrel Arizona

After leaving my uncle’s house in Los Angeles, I drove about halfway to the Grand Canyon and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at a Cracker Barrel. ‘Cause you have to stop at a Cracker Barrel at some point on a road trip!

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon Arizona

I made it to the Grand Canyon just before the sun set.

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon 2 Arizona

As with the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to take a photo of the Grand Canyon that really captures the magnitude of it. I hung around it for a little while to watch the sun set, then drove to my hotel in Flagstaff.

Road Trip Day 10 - Albuquerque To'Hajiilee road sign New Mexico

Day 10 / Monday, June 30th was thankfully a shorter driving day, but still 6.5 hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Just before heading into the city proper, I wanted to scope out To’Hajiilee, an Indian reservation about 30 miles outside of Albuquerque. Breaking Bad fans will know this as the place where it began and end. Walt and Jesse’s first cook spot and — without spoiling anything specific — where a few characters lost their lives.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation New Mexico

This is the only place during my trip where I was a little nervous about being alone, because it meant driving through what has sadly become kind of a Native American ghetto, run by tribal — not American — law. You have to do a lot of off-roading to get to the key location from Breaking Bad, passing by a lot of run-down homes and private property. I braved the dirt paths (you couldn’t even call them roads) for a while, but they were not made for little sedans and as soon as I saw a decaying bull carcass, I decided that was enough and turned around to head back to the highway.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation sign New Mexico

I caught a photo of this beautiful hand-painted sign before leaving (the front had graffiti on it).

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad candy The Candy Lady Albuquerque New Mexico

My first stop in Albuquerque was The Candy Lady, located in the heart of the city, the historic “Old Town.” Owner Debby Ball was approached by Breaking Bad‘s prop department prior to filming the first season because they were in need of an edible prop to stand in as meth on the TV show. Ball made them a rock candy — first in white, then in the signature Heisenberg “baby blue,” and continued to manufacture it for the show, then later for fans. Fans can buy it in dime bags and have a photo taken of them in front of a prop Los Pollos Hermanos poster, with black fedora, sunglasses, and fake money. Pretty badass.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Walter White's house Albuquerque New Mexico

After checking into my hotel and attempting to eat at The Grove Cafe (which is closed on Mondays – nice planning, Sami!) then finally eating at a P.F. Chang’s, I hurried out to photograph a few more Breaking Bad locations before it got dark. Number 1 on my priority list was Walter White’s house, which is really owned by Fran Padilla. She came outside just after I took this photo, so I introduced myself and said “hello from Connecticut!” She was very nice, but I didn’t want to ask her a billion questions, knowing she gets this all the time. Even while I was saying my brief hello and thank you, another car drove by to snap a photo!

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad A1A Octopus Car Wash Albuquerque New Mexico

Just a mile away is Octopus Car Wash, used in filming Breaking Bad‘s A1A car wash. It was also closed, but I went back the next day to get Lola B’s very first car wash. Noticing I was from Connecticut, the attendant told me to “have an A1 day!” – it was pretty great.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman's house Albuquerque New Mexico

It was getting dark quickly, so my last stop for the night was Jesse Pinkman’s house. It’s in a really beautiful neighborhood!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Grove Cafe Albuquerque New Mexico

The next morning, I got up bright and early for breakfast at The Grove Cafe & MarketBreaking Bad fans will know this as the place where Walt and Lydia met, Tuesdays at 10am. (As it happens, I was there at about 8:30 am on Tuesday. Didn’t see either of them.) Another key scene happens here, as well…

Road Trip Day 11 - Grove Cafe Breakfast Albuquerque New Mexico

… Let’s just say, I didn’t have any Stevia in my chai latte, but I did take a few packets to go. Apparently, this was Aaron Paul’s favorite place to eat during filming, too. I can’t blame him – the food was delicious!!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Hank Schrader's house Albuquerque New Mexico

My last stop before setting off toward Oklahoma was Hank and Marie Schrader’s home. Tread lightly.

Road Trip Day 11 - Texas road sign

I passed through the little box on top of Texas on my way to Oklahoma City…

Road Trip Day 11 - Oklahoma City suite

And I was pleasantly surprised to remember I had booked myself a whirlpool suite that night. I really needed a nice, long soak!

See all of my road trip updates here:

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Road Trip Update 4: California

From Moab, I drove northwest through Salt Lake City and spent an uneventful night in Elko, Nevada.

Road Trip Day 7 - Front bumper damage

On Thursday, June 26th — just before making it into California — a strong gust of wind blew a huge chunk of shredded tire (I suspect from a tractor trailer) into my front bumper. It actually tore off my front plate mount and left a nice big scuff and a crack down the middle of the bumper, but no major damage. I was upset, but recovered quickly. If that was the worst that would happen to my car during my two-week stint on the road, I was lucky! I made it to California a few hours later.

Road Trip Day 8 - Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Friday was a very busy day. I woke up early and took a slightly roundabout route into San Francisco so that I could cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently, I found myself in the middle of “June Gloom,” which is what locals like my uncle call the early summer fog phenomenon in California. Fog will roll in for a day or two and settle over the costal cities of California and just hang out, making it near impossible to take good photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. :(

Road Trip Day 8 - Pier 39 Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

I paid way too much for parking, then walked to Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf to eat and browse through the stores. It’s a nice area, but crowded. And the clam chowder is not nearly as good as Boston!

Road Trip Day 8 - Alcatraz San Francisco

I didn’t have the time required for a proper Alcatraz tour, so I admired it from the Pier. See all that fog? Gah!

Road Trip Day 8 - Brit + Co Makeshop San Francisco

As a Brit + Co freelance writer and avid maker, I had to stop at the Brit + Co MakeShop, right next to their headquarters on Sutter Street.

Continue reading…

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