Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Neighborhood Happy Hour "How To"

My 2019 Goal is "Don't Waste". 
 2019 Goals - Blog Post 
It encompasses many things like money, time, and food. You get the picture. I love to hang out with my friends and have a good time. That can get expensive going out for drinks or dinner. So one way to cut down on the cost of going out for dinner and drinks is to have my own Happy Hour. 

Now that my kids are older I don't spend as much time running them to events or hanging out at school outings like I did when they were in elementary school. Part of my new journey is to simplify my life. One way is saying no to volunteering for events which used to fill my calendar. That means I don't see my neighborhood friends like I used to. 

I love to throw a party and hang out with friends to catch up. So I decided to remedy this by hosting my own Monthly Happy Hours this winter. Which also helps with my "Don't Waste" goal. 

Since going to bartenders school I have become fascinated with mixology. Having a monthly Happy Hour gives me the chance to try out new cocktails and shooters. My neighborhood friends are lucky (or unlucky) as they are my guinea pigs. 

Throwing a party doesn't have to be complicated nor expensive, especially if you host monthly Happy Hours which I hope you will join me this winter and throw your own Happy Hour Parties. 

Top 5 Steps

to Throwing at Home
Monthly Happy Hours

- Plan 2 featured cocktails and 1 or 2 shooters around your theme. 

Holiday Happy Hour Drinks 
Recipes Below 

Candy Cane Shooter
Nutcracker Shooter
North Pole Chill 
Jingle Jangle Punch
Cranberry Margarita

- Invite your friends & neighbors ask them to bring appetizers and the booze (which you can use for the upcoming Happy Hours) You provide the mixers.

- The day of the party pre-make your drinks in pitchers, punch bowls, and shooter glasses. 

- I offered 5 small inexpensive gifts for a drawing for anyone who brought an appetizer. 

I am planning more Happy Hours this winter with a Beach Theme, Mexican Fiesta Theme, and a Millenial Martini Theme. 

Set up your own neighborhood Happy Hour! Share you pictures and add the hashtags

Candy Cane Shooter
Rim shooter glass with crushed candy canes
Mix equal parts, shake with ice & strain 
Peppermint Schnapps

Nutcracker Shooter
Mix equal parts & shake with ice & strain
Peppermint Schnapps
Hazelnut Liqueur 

North Pole Chill 
Mix equal parts, shake & strain over ice 
Hazelnut Liqueur
Peppermint Schnapps

Jingle Jangle Punch
Mix and stir well with ice
1.5 cups Raspberry Vodka
3/4 cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1 cup Lemon Juice
1.5 cups simple syrup

Then with a shaker add 7 to 8 berries (raspberries, blue berries, blackberries) and some of the mixed liquid and shake vigorously and strain into a punch bowl. Do this until all the liquid is shaken.

Right before serving add more berries and 3/4 bottle of a sparkling dry wine

Cranberry Margarita

Mix in 1 1/4 c cranberry juice
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
3/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec 

pour over ice

Last Minute Red Sangria

Muddle 3/4 sliced orange & lemon
1/2 cup Blackberry Brandy
1/2 cup Orange Juice
Muddle then add ice
Add 1 Bottle (750ml) bottle Pinot Noir
Add slice orange, lemon & apple chunks   

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Top 5 Ways My Jeep Changed My Life

I have said so many times, "My Jeep Changed My Life". In so many ways, large and small, my Jeep has changed my life. Here are the Top 5 Ways My Jeep Wrangler Changed My Life.

I found my passion. That passion is my Blog and Vlog. I love sharing my story through my words and video. Photography has been a love of mine since I was in elementary school. 

I became a television videographer, but gave it up to raise my family. Now with my YouTube videos and my blog I am able to use my passion in this new age of social media. 

I have made so many new friends from being part of the Jeep Community. Friends I know will be in my life forever! I may not see them every day or week, but they are some of the best friends I will ever have.    

I never truly had a hobby I could call my own until I discovered off-roading. It is so exhilarating being out in nature with my Jeep tackling the trails. 

Working on my Jeep has given me the gift of empowerment. There is nothing like modifying your own Jeep knowing you did the work yourself. The best part is realizing how capable I really am. 

A new mindset, some people call it minimalism, but I call it Living Simple. It's about what is important to living your best life and focusing on what makes you happy. Living Simple is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentional living. Intentional living is the promotion of the things I most value and the removal of everything that distracts me from it. 

I believe that Living Simple isn't about what I get rid of but more about creating more space for the life and purpose I treasure most.

I found the stuff I had was distracting me. That stuff was taking up my time. Getting rid of the stuff allows me to use my resources better use elsewhere. 

Getting rid of the excess stuff in the basement, back of the closet and shelves in the garage, and all the stuff for the “what ifs” in my life was so freeing. I do not need to pair down to nothing but ditch the excess. 

Living Simple is a guardrail that helps keep me on a course toward a more meaningful life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Goals

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions.  Goals and Bucket Lists is where it's at for me. 

Jeep Momma Blog Post

My 2019 Goal  

Be less Wasteful -- with my time and my money. This is so I have more time and money to do the things I enjoy. One of my goals when I turned 50 was to try different things whether it's food or experiences. I will continue with that as well. 

When I turned 50 I created a Bucket List. I don't always get to check items off the bucket list because the items can be costly. So I have created a mini-bucket list for in between the big Bucket List items. 

Mini-Bucket List

The Soundry
See the Band Reagan Years
Escape Room with Friends
New restaurants in the area - Pub Dog Pizza, Sanford Grill,
More Dancing - Nottingham's Tavern
Find a Good Jazz Bar

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

So Much More To Do

Hanging out in the French Quarter was so much more than I ever expected. So many experiences so little time. We crammed a lot into the short weekend we spent in New Orleans. 

The French Market - originally a Native American trading post along the Mississippi River. Now a bazaar type atmosphere with food, music and shopping. 

Cafe Du Monde is located near the French Market where they serve the famous Beignets, fried dough covered in powdered sugar. Everyone told me I had to try them. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. I went when there was no line. I would have been frustrated if I had to wait in line for the sugary treat, which the lines can get pretty long.   

Trolley Ride St. Charles - a relaxing ride down St. Charles Avenue. If you take the trolley from one end to the other plan on about 2 hours

Hurrah Casino
Walking Tours: Cemeteries, Ghost, Vampires and more. Check out Groupon for great discounts

Plus, so much more we didn't get a chance to do. I am looking forward to my next trip where I can check out all the other coll things to do in New Orleans.   
Swamp tours  ~  Plantations ~ Riverboat Cruise ~ Pirates Alley

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Louisiana VooDoo History

VooDoo has a bad connotation, culturally we think of VooDoo as something evil. Hollywood has sensationalized VooDoo giving it a bad name. 

While I was in New Orleans we took a walking tour and learned about The Queen of VooDoo, Marie Laveau. She was a Louisiana Creole Practitioner of VooDoo. 

Louisiana VooDoo is a spiritual religion brought to New Orleans from the slaves of West Africa along with traditions from the Native Americans. Our tour guide shared that this spiritual religion was similar to Catholicism in certain ways.   

Louisiana VooDoo also used the knowledge passed down from their African and Native American ancestors of herbs, poisons, and ritual creation of charms and amulets intended to protect oneself. 

What I found interesting is how the VooDoo doll story came into effect. Marie Laveau was dedicated to her practice but she couldn't read or write. When she saw her "patient" she would make a doll of them. She would then stick a pin in the doll of where the injury or pain was. New Orleans residents would walk by her shop and see the dolls then see the patient walking down the street looking sickly.

The tour guide shared this is how the rumors started with VooDoo dolls. It was said she would stick the doll "in the knee" and the person would have knee pain. When it was just the opposite. 

I find this story and the story of the Salem Witches very intriguing. These stories are lessons we need to learn from. Especially in this day and age of "Fake News". I wonder what history will tell us in two hundred years about our time. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ghost Stories

The main reason for my New Orleans trip was to experience Bourbon Street. 
And experience Bourbon Street I did! 
Tasty Fruity Drinks, Dancing, Live Music, and Beads.  

However, there is so much more in the French Quarter we discovered. 
Vampires & Ghosts Galore!
There is a wide variety of walking tours from ghosts and vampires to drunks and prostitutes to cemetery walks. 

We picked a ghosts and vampires walk and a walk thru New Orleans' oldest cemetery. Surprised by all the history, I remained mesmerized by the great story telling of the tour guides. The stories weren't made up ghost stories, but based on historical facts. Several times I felt chill bumps overtake my body. Or maybe the ghosts where messing with me? 

We learned about two Vampires that could still be walking the streets of New Orleans, John and Wayne Carter. To this day, there have been many sightings of the Carter brothers, even by the new owner of the apartment building where the Carter's once called home.   

You can even book a stay at local hotels and spend the night with ghosts like at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. Several boys died in a fire there decades ago when it was an orphanage. Patrons share stories of mischievous ghosts during their stay. 

New Orleans has the highest murder rate per capita. Even back in the early days of the French Quarter this was the case as most of the citizens of the area were the dregs of France sent to the area. This is because most people didn't want to live in a hot and humid, mosquito and alligator infested area. 

One such mass murder is said to have happened at one of the luxurious mansion's in the French Quarter. This one could just be a ghost tale but ghosts are said to be seen there. You decide. 

At the Cemetery stories about the Plessy vs Ferguson Supreme Court Case and Marie Laveau the Queen of VooDoo were shared as they both were entombed there. My next blog post will be the story of Louisiana VooDoo. I found it very interesting how gossip can become truth or we tend to believe the gossip and it turns into truth. This is true even in our day and time.   

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Top 5 Must Try Drinks on Bourbon Street

~ The heart of New Orleans, Louisiana ~ 
Known for it's Mardi Gras party all year long

The street is lined with bars, strip clubs, restaurants, shops and "take out" bars. Not only can you party to the wee hours of the morning you can drink in the streets. If you haven't finished your drink just take it with you as you hop on over to the next bar. A lot of the establishments let you bring in the drink from your previous stop.

First thing we did when we hit Bourbon Street at about 10am was find the nearest bar for the first of many drinks we consumed. Most all of these drinks were sugary cold refreshing drinks perfect for those hot summer days in New Orleans.

Here are the Top 5 "Must Try" Drinks on Bourbon Street every first- time tourist must try. 
Note: You must pace yourself and hydrate as you drink the day and night away! You certainly don't want to miss a minute of all the shenanigans Bourbon Street has to offer. 

Our first stop was Fais Deaux Deaux for the Fish Bowl, $10, a super fair price for the amount you get. Since it was our first stop and it was before noon the three of us shared this drink. 

A plastic fish bowl with a lid, straw and strap comes in only one flavor ~ red fruit punch.

It's a version of "Jungle Juice" just like the days of College or High School for some, filled with fruit juices (fruit punch), Vodka, Tequila, Rum, and Everclear.  

Our next stop was all the way at the other end of Bourbon Street, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, known as haunted venue in on Bourbon Street. Also the oldest bar in America since 1722 surviving two great fires. 

The building is a National Historic Landmark. I loved interior atmosphere that transports you back hundreds of years, and the party at night flows into the street. One of my favorites as we ended up stopping at this bar four times that weekend. 

Of course while you are there you have to try the Purple VooDoo Daiquiri. A grape slushy with everclear, $9. Yummy, Yummy for the tummy especially on a hot New Orleans day. 

Next stop the Tropical Isle Bar ~ pretty close to the center of Bourbon Street  ~ for a Hand Grenade. This drink is trademarked and only allowed to be sold in bars associated with the drink. It's a melon flavored slushy with several different clear alcohols and a melon flavored liqueur. You can get it as a slushy or on the rocks. We preferred the slushy. 

It comes in a plastic green hand grenade type cylinder with a tiny plastic hand grenade on top. This was one of my favs. Another refreshing drink on a hot New Orleans day. 

We also made several stops at this bar, which by the way has a balcony you can hang out on to throw beads at the passerby's.  At one point I needed to use the restroom. When I came back to the bar my niece had a surprise for me. I sauntered up to the bar, the bartender started ringing a bell and blowing a whistle really loud. It was craziness as I was trying to figure out what was going on. 

Then the bartender shoved a drink towards me, took a plastic shark and turned it upside down in my drink. The Shark Attack! As the shark was shoved in the drink a red liquid ~ alligator blood ~ poured into the drink. At that moment it was time to drink.

Let's just say it's a very lemony drink.

And of course there is the Hurricane which is one of the more famous New Orleans drinks. There are several places that serve a "Hurricane" but they all have different recipes. Typically a Hurricane is a rum drink. We picked up our Hurricanes at the VooDoo Lounge

It was a buy one get one free, $12,  with the price of our Vampires and Ghosts walking tour ticket. The walking tour starts at this bar and you can bring your drink along on the tour.  

I am sure there are many other "specialty drinks" in the French Quarter. It would take you weeks to try out all the great places the area has to offer. All the streets up and down the French Quarter are littered with bars. And don't forget Frenchman Street with the live jazz. So many stops so little time!  

The one place I wanted to try out but just too overwhelmed was the Old Absinthe House. Another historic place on Bourbon Street rich with American history. This is not your typical sugary-drink glitzy bar. 

So until next time New Orleans, I will be coming back!