Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hankering for Home

I think that I officially know what retirement might be like, I am not so sure I like it. Granted I am sure it will grow on me, but this not going mach fifty all day everyday, is hard! Call me crazy, but I am a doer and shaker and some days I really am struggling with the current leisure aspect of my life. I honestly miss working and this not having to get up every morning with a plan of attack is tough for me, I don't like to be still and I sometimes feel like I am lacking that purpose that I had before we embarked on this journey. I know, first world problems and I really am grateful for the awesome experience of getting to see this country, its just some days, I really miss home; our family, our friends, work, my clients and today is one of those days, it was a day that I seriously considered loading up the car and driving home!

We are just over two months into our trek, and it seems like this week, the loneliness has kind of hit me like a brick. I don't know if is the adjusting to having Tom traveling for work again after having him all to myself for nearly two months, or the fact that when you have a dog in a new place, especially one that suffers separation anxiety, it really limits what you can and can't do with your free time. For the most part I try to take Ethel with us on our adventures, she doesn't tend to do so well when left to her own devices; in fact yesterday when I left Ethel to go to the market I came back to partially torn apart foam dog ramp and a lovely gift in the middle of the floor to let me know she was less than pleased with me; it's these things that either make it easier to take her with me or just stay home with her, instead of going out on my own. It's not like I can get mad at her either, I have completely taken her out of her element and she now has a new place that she must acclimate to every month, and Tom and I are her only steadiness right now, so being left alone in a place she doesn't know, is tough and like I said getting mad at her for a situation I've put her in isn't fair to her. So we make due and sometimes our adventures just constitute a walk down a new street for the day, a drive to see something new and/or a run for me in the park while Miss Ethel goes for a ride in the dog stroller; which by the way, gets a lot of stares, but is awesome and is saving my sanity right now, the being able to exercise and being able to take her with me to do so!

I don't think we realize how much we value those friendships and relationships until you can't just call them up and say, "hey, meet me for a drink after work" or "lets go get a pedicure on Tuesday." I am missing those moments with my girlfriends and the torturing my classes and clients and my bonkers work schedule! I know, most would relish to get to do what we are doing, and I am not discounting the awesomeness of our adventures at all, I just miss those kick ass people in my life and I had to share it!

And I really, really miss not having a doggie door! Like really miss it!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creole Cooking

Creole and Cajun cooking are a way of life in New Orleans, and they love their unique cuisine down here and if the Compagno's are to truly know this place, we needed to understand the food and its roots; so Saturday we took to the stove in order to immerse ourselves into true New Orleans food culture. If we are going to discover what being local is all about, we had better learn to cook the part, some may say a daunting task, but Tom and I say fun, we both love to cook, so this was a real treat for us.

We spent the morning at the New Orleans School of Cooking, learning to make Gumbo, Jambalaya, Bread Pudding and Pralines! All delicious, well what I ate anyway; Tom would be able to tell you about the meat aspects much better than I could, but it looked really good and he said it was spectacular! Which with me being a vegetarian, the chef, Kevin, was awesome at giving recommendations on what to add and/or change as far as making a vegetarian version of these Nola classics, you know for us crazy non-meating eating folk! I can't wait to give them a go in the kitchen!

I am including the Jambalaya recipe here that we got at the cooking school, I've had a few people ask for it; word to the wise we loosely followed it, so I would recommend adding your own flare to it, but it gives a great baseline as to the basics.


Makes 12 Serving

¼ C. oil
1 cooked chicken, cut up or de-boned
1½ lbs. sausage

2 heaping tsp. Joe’s Stuff or Creole seasoning
4 C. chopped onions
2 C. chopped celery
2 C. chopped green pepper
2 C. chopped green onions or tomatoes (optional)
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
4 C. long grain rice
5 C. stock or flavored water
For brown jambalaya: 1 – 2 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet
For red jambalaya*: 1/4 cup paprika (*You may also use 2.5 cups stock and 2.5 cups tomato juice instead of 5 cups stock/flavored water.)

Season and brown the chicken in oil, lard or bacon drippings over medium to high heat. Add sausage to pot and sauté with chicken. Remove the chicken and sausage from pot, leaving the drippings in the pot.
Saut̩ onions, celery, green pepper and garlic in the drippings until tender. Return chicken and sausage to pot. Add stock and Creole seasoning and bring the mixture to a boil. (If using Kitchen Bouquet for brown jambalaya, add 1 Р2 tbsp. For red jambalaya, add approximately 1/4 cup paprika, stock and tomato juice.)
Add rice. Stir and return to rapid boil. Stir again and remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let the jambalaya rest for 25 minutes. Remove cover and quickly turn rice from top to bottom completely. Add green onions and chopped tomatoes if desired.

For seafood jambalaya, add cooked seafood when rice is turned.

So there it is, I highly recommend you give it try, it won't disappoint!  Bon appetit!

An Almost Infestation

Ethel got fleas, and we aren't talking Red Hot Chili Peppers here, we are talking the pesky, disgusting things that bite and lay eggs on poor little doggies! Imagine my freak out when I discovered one while I was giving her love scratches behind the ear, now take this freak out and trap me in a car in this situation for eight of the longest hours of my life! I was beside my self with panic and trying so hard not to vomit; this isn't an ideal situation for anyone, especially a clean freak! The discovery was made on the drive from San Antonio to New Orleans, trapped inside a moving vehicle with a dog that had fleas and me with nowhere to go! My first reaction, was to wrap her in a plastic bag, but how would she breath? Needless to say, I was somewhat rational and didn't go with my first and or second response of holding her outside of the car, because I love her and I really felt bad for her and I was mostly pissed at my naivety for not even thinking this, that these fleas would ever be part of our lives!

We were about thirty minutes out of Houston when I made the unfortunate discovery, so I pull out the phone immediately and Yelp dog groomers that were close by to see if anyone can get us in; at this time it is almost two, I get a hold of PetSmart and awesome they can get her in at 3:00; we will wait it out and get her bathed before heading back down the road to New Orleans. We arrive at PetSmart,  I start checking her in and Tom is off to search for flea control products; as I am checking her in I ask how long they will need her for, I'm thinking thirty to forty-five minutes, and then they tell me four fucking hours. Seriously, what the hell, why would I even bother to make an appointment if you aren't going to get my dog washed and cleaned anywhere close to the appointment time? The first thought in my head, besides wanting to punch the lady in front of me, was what the hell am I going to do in Houston for four hours and second, that this isn't going to put us into New Orleans until after one in the morning, yeah, not going to work! So I take my poor pitiful dog, find Tom and we are back on the road, fleas and all!

Four and half more hours in a car and every inch of  me is itching, I can't even begin to imagine what poor Ethel feels like and now I hate Texas because it gave Ethel fleas! On a positive note, we have a pretty amazing vet in Salt Lake, so I call and they approve a medication for her so that I can order it from PetMeds and have it mailed overnight; now why couldn't they send it to me, well because they don't carry it, because Utah is awesome, unlike Texas, and poor little dogs don't have to worry about fleas there! We also got awesome news while talking to the vet, the last time I was in, in November getting Ethel's teeth cleaned and checked out before we left on our journey, our vet switched out her heart worm medicine to Sentinel, why because Dr. Silkman was thinking ahead, unlike me. So what does this mean, Ethel can still get adult fleas, but it breaks the cycle by destroying eggs, so really she just had a few adult fleas to deal with and I was beyond relieved to find out that we didn't have to worry about a total outbreak of baby fleas everywhere! Woo Hoo!

Upon arrival at the New Orleans house, Ethel went straight to the bath, the laundry commenced and the washing machine did not see any reprieve for an entire week! Everything laundered and then repeated! Not to mention poor Ethel got a bath everyday until the flea medication, that kills adult fleas within thirty minutes of landing on her came! Yay Comfortis and mixed with the Sentinel, Ethel now has a magic flea fighting cocktail once a month!

So lesson learned, the South, regardless of how clean you are, will give your pet fleas. Don't pull a Bonnie and plan ahead! And huge thank you to Dr. Silkman and the crew at Jordan River Animal Hospital for planning ahead for me when I told you what we were doing, because I was oblivious and didn't even think about it! Truly saved my skin and good Lord, I don't even want to think of the nightmare that might've existed had you not changed her medication in advance!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Home Sweet New Orleans!

January flew by and I can't believe we are already over one month into our journey, time goes by too quickly! Which means we are onto our next location and new home for the month, and NOLA it is, whether or not it's ready for the Compagnos! We are so excited to be here and we can't wait to see what this city holds for us over the next month, especially with Carnival in full effect! This is a city we have been to before and loved, but experienced as tourists the last time we were here and this time we are looking forward to seeing it from a locals perspective, seeing the neighborhoods and the day to day life that really make New Orleans one of a kind, a city like no other in the world!

Our new place is so charming and so much more than we expected; seriously, the pictures don't do this place justice! We are in are fantastic neighborhood, Carrollton, just off of Oak Street and everything we need is within walking distance. In fact, the Bikram Yoga studio is literally like walking three houses down, Audubon Park and its amazing running trails within in a mile, and we are just a five minute walk to picking up the street car to the French Quarter. I get all this amazingness in exchange for no dishwasher! That is right, I am hand washing dishes, I am channeling my younger self, before I knew the magic of this fabulous machine. I am not going to lie, it's hard, really hard to not have amenities one is so accustomed to, but I'm taking it in stride and the pros so make up for the cons at this place!

So here it is, our little Oak St. Charmer rented again from airbnb and loving it, dishwasher or not!

How cute is this to store your silverware?
A vanity station, I've never had one of these before!

And the adorable neighborhood that is literally just out our door! 


So anybody that has recommendations of must do's off the beaten path in New Orleans, we are up for suggestions and ideas, so throw them at us!