Birthday Weekend in D.C.

A week ago I celebrated my 24th birthday. It was my first birthday being away from my family and friends down south, but I had a wonderful weekend. Ever since we moved to Arlington, we have been busy traveling most weekends and haven’t spent much time in Washington D.C. So, for my birthday all I wanted to do was hang out in D.C.  

For Thursday, June 8, my actual birthday, we stayed in and grilled steaks in the backyard. We made twice baked potatoes and had broccoli on the side. If you need a delicious and simple steak rub recipe CLICK HERE.

I also tried to do the “squat your dog” challenge, but Bear weighs 100 pounds and I couldn’t do it by myself. It was a fail needless to say. Excuse the grass, our lawn mower broke. The other dog is Bear’s friend Gus! 

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On Friday we had a sunset picnic by the Reflecting Pool. It was the perfect weather. And where we sat we had views of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. We pack our backpacks with cheese, meats, grapes, and wine! You have to be very very careful about drinking. We brought plastic cups and poured the wine out of the backpack. We felt a little awkward because no one else seemed to be sitting down on the grass in this area, but we had no problems. The rest of the National Mall was crowded with people playing games or relaxing in the sun. I would definitely recommend having a picnic over here to anyone that likes picnics. It was so relaxing and we got to people watch the whole time. 

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The ducks by the Reflecting Pool are very friendly. They kept coming us to us and begging for food like dogs. They went away though and we were not bothered at all. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed their company.

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After our picnic we walked around by the White House and caught some fireflies. And we passed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.  I had never seen or heard of it before but it is a beautiful building. It was built between 1871 and 1888 and originally built for the State, War, and Navy Departments . It is now used as the offices for the White House staff.

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We ended the night with a drink at The Bottom Line. It’s a dive bar, but I love dive bars because the drinks are always strong and cheap. And there’s no BS here. It’s just a bar that serves drinks. And some great appetizers. Our first round of drinks was only $14 for a beer and vodka soda. That’s cheap for D.C.!

On Saturday we went to a Nationals game. But it wasn’t just any baseball game. They were doing Pups in the Park. I’m obsessed with my dog, so anytime dogs are allowed anywhere, we do it. It was amazing. The tickets for Matt and I were only $30 each and Bears ticket was $10. Yes, that’s right. Bear had his own chair! The whole outfield was surrounded with dogs. It was arguably the happiest place on Earth. Pups in the Park is presented by Budweiser and the proceeds benefit the Human rescue Alliance. Most major league teams participate in Pups in the Park across the country, so check it out and see if it is in a ballpark near you! Bear made tons of new friends. And we got to eat hots dogs, french fries, and drink beer. Bear had french fries too. Oh, if you ever go to a Nationals game get the Goose Island IPA on draft. It is the best deal on beer. The cans are 16oz and the drafts are 20oz but they are the same price!!! And this IPA is stronger than the average beer but very light and drinkable. I am not a huge baseball fan, but this was one of the most fun days of my life. I think it is because of the dogs though. 

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To see more photos of Washington D.C. CLICK HERE

 

Memorial Day: Ocean City, NJ

Memorial Day is the celebration of the men and women who have lost their life serving in the armed forces. Many celebrate by visiting cemeteries or memorials around the United States, but Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of the summer. School is ending and June is beginning. There is an excitement in the air about what summer could bring. New friends? New opportunities? New places to see?

Summer is the time of longer days, colder drinks, and fewer worries. I celebrated Memorial Day by visiting Ocean City, NJ. My boyfriend’s family has a beach house there and it is only a three and a half hour drive from us. I have visited Ocean City plenty of times over the past years, but we have always had to fly into New Jersey. On my very first trip to the Jersey Shore I had some doubts. Of course, when you think of the Jersey Shore, the first thing that pops into your mind is that awful reality show The Jersey Shore. I was told by my boyfriend several times that it “was not like that at all”. Over the past few years of visiting, I have learned that the Jersey Shore is a large piece of land with many different beach towns, and each town has its own little culture. Seaside, where The Jersey Shore was filmed, is the only city of the Jersey Shore that represents the party aspect of the show. But even then, the characters of the show poorly represented the area as a whole. Most of the other cities are very nice, clean, family-friendly towns.

Ocean City is just the cutest little beach town. The beaches are absolutely beautiful and clean. You have to have own a pass to be on the beach during the high season, which is Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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It rained on and off all weekend, but was still able to go out the beach on the first day. When we went to the beach, the lifeguards weren’t on duty yet and we could bring out our dog Bear to the beach. He loves the sand because it is the one place he loves to dig holes (he learned real fast not to do that in the backyard).

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My favorite part of Ocean City is the downtown area. There is this amazing store called B&B that carries all the best summer brands, such as, Billabong, Izod, Tommy Bahama, and Quicksilver. And the prices are very affordable. Besides the shopping, downtown also holds one of the greatest treasures of Ocean City, the boardwalk. There’s tons of restaurants, shops, and activities to do. It is fun for the whole family. The boardwalk even has concerts at night. When we were there KC & the Sunshine band was playing that night. We didn’t go because we were attending a party that night, but that would have been so much fun.

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The main goal of our  to the boardwalk was for food. We got crab fries from Chickie’s & Pete’s, pizza from Big Slice, and ice cream from Kohr’s Brothers. The crabs fries are my absolute favorite. So much so that I did not even think to make a picture of them, I just ate. The pizza is exactly what it sounds like, a huge slice, but at only $5 a slice this deal can;t be beat. You have to either fold it up or get it cut in half to eat. And the ice cream! Kohl’s Brothers has been around since 1919 and it a staple in the Ocean City community. Even though they are famous for the original orange and vanilla custard, I had to get my favorite, a chocolate and vanilla swirl dipped in sprinkles. 

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It was a full on eating festival. You really cannot go wrong with boardwalk food. And the best part about being with a group of people is that you do not have to decide on one place to eat, everyone can go and get what you want to eat. Just be careful of the seagulls! They will try to steal your food and it is illegal to feed them so don’t even try.

We also stopped at Playland’s Castaway Cove. This amusement park has games, rides, and mini golf! My boyfriend, his mom, and his brother played a few games but for the most part we just walked around and looked at all the rides. The flying swings made for a great photography opportunity.

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Bottom line. If you are looking for a family friendly beach town that has a lot to offer, Ocean City is your place. An added bonus is that if you want to leave the family-friendly atmosphere of Ocean City for something a little more upbeat, Atlantic City is only a 30 minute drive away. Atlantic city has casinos, restaurants, bars, and shopping.

We also visited one day this little town 20 minutes away called Avalon, NJ. There is this great bar & restaurant there called The Whitebrier. I went last year for the first time and again this year and it is always a good time. The age range is about 21-29 year olds. There is ample outdoor space, as well as, indoor bar space. There is also a full service food menu and a sushi bar! Great food, service, and atmosphere. This place cannot be beat if you are looking for a young place to hang out.

Memorial Day is always an exciting weekend. It unofficially begins summer. But let’s not forget the men and women who have died so that we can still have a summer of freedom to look forward to.

Since Memorial Day marks the start of summer cookouts and BBQ’s I have decided to share my mom’s classic chili recipe. I absolutely love to cook chili. You can use it in several dishes and it freezes well. I always make huge pot and freeze half and use half. The best part about chili is you can add whatever you want to it. You can follow this recipe to a tee or you can adapt it to your own by adding different vegetables or using a can a beer. My mom is a very talented cook. When I asked her for her chili recipe she laughed and said “I have never written it down.” So, we made it together and I wrote down each step and ingredient as we went along. Hope you enjoy!

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For Mom’s Classic Chili Recipe CLICK HERE

For more photos of Ocean City CLICK HERE

Shenandoah: Rose River and Hawksbill

When I made the decision to move to Arlington, VA I was most excited for one thing, and that was being close to the mountains. My whole life I have lived in New Orleans where it is very very flat. Below sea level to be exact. In fact, the highest point in New Orleans is this place called Monkey Hill. Monkey Hill is man made hill for kids to play on in Audubon park at this area called “The Fly”. Sure, as a kid it was awesome. We had the levees to run up and down too, but NOTHING beats the mountains.

As a child, my dad took my sister and I on several hiking trips and I fell in love. But hiking was always something I had to travel to do. Plan a whole trip to do. But now? I live two and half hours away from some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the United States. I cannot believe that in two and half hours from my house I can be in Shenandoah National Park.

This past weekend Matt and I took our dog Bear for our very first of many to come hiking trips. It wasn’t the prettiest of days but there was only a 20% chance of rain and we had a free weekend so we went. It was a foggy, misty day, but it felt amazing outside and we never broke a sweat.

We arrived at the park around noon. Yes, I know that it’s kind of late, but we woke up later than we wanted and made the best of it. Honestly, we still had plenty of enough time to explore the park. We entered through the Thornton Gap entrance. It cost $25 to get into the park, but it is worth it. Also, your pass is good for 7 days, so it is a great deal. You can tell they put the money to good use keeping the park clean and maintained. Through this entrance you can either head north or south on Skyline Drive, the main road that runs through the whole park. We headed south because we had done some research beforehand and chose two trails we wanted to do: Rose River and Hawksbill. Since Matt and I live so close, we are trying to come the park at least once a month and eventually explore almost the whole thing.

Our first stop was Hazel Mountain Overlook. It sits at 2770 ft and the view is beautiful. The day started out sunny and eventually became mere foggy. So when we stopped here, we still had a decent view.

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Next we headed to Rose River. Rose River is south of Hawksbill, so we decided to start there then head back north to the exit. If you are looking on the map of Shenandoah, Rose River is not clearly marked. You can see the river, but there is no black dot marking the start of the trail. To get to Rose River Trail, park at the Fischers Gap Overlook and walk across the street. You will see a sign guiding you to Rose River. Rose River Loop Trail is 3.7 miles long. 

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One of the wonderful things about this trail is that it is a loop and you follow along the river almost the whole time. When you get to the entrance, you can either go right or left. It really doesn’t matter because it is a loop and you will end up at the same place. We chose to go right with the sign River Rose (the other way you can start is labeled Horse Trail). Either way you go, you start off going downhill then back uphill.

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The first part of the trail is very flat and an easy walk. You are not following the river yet at this point so do not worry, you will get there.

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We saw this cool tree and I climbed it for a photo opp.

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We stopped for a moment to talk to this older gentleman and he said he saw Black Bear cubs and their mom! So, for the rest of the trip we kept our eyes out. Next, we came across one of the first waterfalls along this trail. It is beautiful.

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The trail continues into two different trails. Make sure you take the one that follows the river and is going downhill.

We absolutely loved this trail. We were able to stop off at certain points and we let Bear (our dog) off the leash and let him swim in the river. We stopped a lot to take photos too. It is a very easy trail. There were people every age on this trail, so it is perfect for children or grandparents.

A little less than halfway through the trail you see another amazing waterfall. And it is safe to say Bear really enjoyed the view. 

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Shortly after we passed this waterfall we saw the Black Bear cubs! They were running up the side of the trail to get away from people. Black Bears call Shenandoah home, as long as you ignore them and keep moving they will ignore you. Bears tend to only attack if they feel threatened. We have a black lab mix named Bear, and we always joke that he is an actual Bear. I’m not gonna lie, our Bear looked very similar to the baby Black Bears, but awe are thankful our dog did not notice the cubs because knowing him he would have wanted to play with them. Unfortunately, we could not capture any pictures of the cubs because they were moving too fast. 

For the first half of this trail you are heading downhill following the river. And then you cross this bridge at the halfway point. Once you past this bridge you start to head back uphill to the starting point and you vere off following the river. Shortly after the bridge, we stopped off to have lunch. We found this sitting area you have to walk at about 70 degree angle to get up to it. But it doesn’t go anywhere except to a nice place to sit, listen to the birds sing, and eat some lunch. We packed turkey sandwiches.

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After our lunch we headed back on the trail. The trail is clearly marked with blue paint on trees every so often.

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The way back was mostly uphill but not a sharp incline, it is still very easy to do. There was a tree that had fallen across the path we had to climb around, but hopefully the park has picked that up. We ended up back where we started and walked back over to our car parked at Fishers Gap Overlook. It was very foggy at this point so the view from the overlook was not that great but I’m sure on a clear day it is beautiful!

We got in our car and started heading back north. We had just enough time to do Hawksbill before we had to start heading home. Hawksbill is the highest peak in the park sitting at 4051 feet. There are two parking lots with two different trails that lead to the peak. You can park at Upper Hawksbill parking and take that trail or you can park at Hawksbill Gap parking at take that trail. We parked at Hawksbill Gap. This trail is moderately difficult only because you are walking at a sharp incline the whole way up. Hawksbill Gap parking sits at 3365 feet and Hawksbill peak sits at 4051 feet, so you are hiking up 686 feet. The trail is beautiful. It was later in the day and was more foggy than when we began our day. But it gave this trail an eerie but magical feel. 

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The whole way up was hard. Matt and I kept saying to each other how out of shape we were because the whole way up we were huffing and puffing. Bear did not miss a beat though. In fact, we traded off holding his leash because he would help pull us up the mountain. Once we reached the summit, we realized it was probably the worse day to go to Hawksbill because it was so foggy we could not see the view at all. But it was a very rewarding hike and we felt amazing after. This Hawksbill trail is 1.7 miles. 

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After this hike, we got in our car and headed home. It was an amazing afternoon and we cannot wait to go back to back and try out different trails. Also, we will definitely be hiking Hawksbill again to see that view on a clearer day. It is a quick hike up and down. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about our first adventure through Shenandoah. If you would like to see more photographs CLICK HERE.  

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my website! I graduated from LSU last year with a degree in marketing. After graduation, I spent the whole summer traveling. I went to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I traveled around the states. And I ended the summer in Europe. My dad took me to see Italy and France. It was a dream come true and I was able to put off the job hunt for a few more months. It was a win win.

After my travels I moved back home to New Orleans, where I tried finding a job. I went on a handful of interviews, but the job market was proven to be tough. I began freelance marketing for some amazing companies,  including Rixen Jewelry, Bryan’s United Air Conditioning, and River Beats. I gained self-taught experience and was able to expand on the marketing skills I learned in school all while using my creativity. I currently still work with Rixen Jewelry.

Fast forward to May 2017. My boyfriend, Matt, received a promotion, and we made the decision to move from Louisiana to Arlington, VA. I am so happy to be in a place like Arlington. Everyone here is friendly and motivated to be successful. There is so much opportunity for me here. There is the big city of Washington D.C. and the mountains of Virginia. Being from the flat state of Louisiana, I am beyond excited to be by mountains and cannot wait to go hiking.

I developed this website solely to teach myself how to use WordPress, but now I find how much I enjoy creating content. So this website is a way for me to share my photographs, recipes I develop, trips I take, and much more. I hope you enjoy this page, and enjoy watching it grow.

I recently added some recipes to the site! Check them out —>

About my cooking:

My family owns a restaurant in New Orleans, Pascal’s Manale. It was established in 1913 and has stayed in my family for all 104 years. My dad is the chef and I have grown up working in the kitchen. Moreover, my sister is a chef in the making. She graduated from Chef John Folse culinary school and has studied under Chef Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France. Although I am not classically trained in cooking, I do have a background and a passion for it. I love to cook and want to share with you the recipes I make, tips on being healthy, and simple recipes anyone can do.