Fredericksburg – Saturday

We usually try to plan a small getaway over the Fourth of July holiday. This year we met up with family (my parents, the Rosenbergs, and the Hunters) in Fredericksburg, TX. In short, we had a nice, relaxing holiday in the Texas Hill Country. Our days were short in terms of agenda items – and that was just what we needed after several hectic weeks of work travel, life, and social events.

But let’s wind back to last Saturday…

Saturday – I woke up early and made a trip to my neighborhood gym for a quick run and workout. I’m training for a half marathon and I need to get in as many workouts as I can these days.

Post breakfast, I swung by our neighborhood doughnut shop to pick up a special breakfast for George and John.

donuts

While the guys ate, I finalized our packing and got the car loaded.

packed car

But before we hit the road, we took George to Soccer Shots in our neighborhood park.

After soccer, we hit the road and made a pit stop in Katy to pick up some lunch. 4.5 hours later (thanks to traffic) we arrived in Fredericksburg at our rental home.

George and John hit the pool with family while I unpacked and got things organized.

swim

I also made an HEB run with Julie. Afterwards, we laid out an epic snack for our travel weary and pool hangry family.

snacks

Dad played the role of grill master for dinner, and he and my Mom prepared chicken, corn, and sides for everyone.

dinner

We also celebrated Nelda’s birthday with a small cake and party crowns that night.

We all slept like logs that night. I blame the heat, but I was glad for every minute of it.

Advertisements

Celebrating Grand Mimi Emma

John, George, and I happily spent last weekend in Las Cruces, NM, for a family celebration. Specifically, we were there to celebrate George’s Grand Mimi’s 100th Birthday.

Friday – I returned from a two-night work trip to Las Vegas, NV, late last Thursday night, so turning around for a family trip on Friday was tough. However, we made it work. John and I double-teamed on Friday to get packing, breakfast, lunch, work, and George taken care of before we left on our trip. We arrived at IAH around 1:15PM and sailed through security. We picked up some water and a few emergency snacks before settling in at the gate. Before long, we were on board our regional jet and G was pumped.

g excited

G watched videos on his iPad during our 90 minute flight, while John worked and I listened to a few podcasts. The flight attendants were so kind during our flight. They both brought by extra complimentary snacks for George, including gummy bears and salami. He was so excited, and we were very appreciative.

g snacks

Several folks on our flight committed what I consider to be highly offensive acts during our journey – they brought stinky/smelly food on board. In this instance, folks brought on Panda Express, fried chicken, and French fries. Blerg. So rude. So smelly. Anyhow, our flight was uneventful and we landed a little ahead of our expected arrival time in El Paso. Once we were on the ground, we rented a car and made the easy 45-minute drive to Las Cruces, New Mexico.

new mex plane

We checked into the El Encanto Hotel and quickly got settled before driving to La Posta for a casual family dinner.

lp sign

I had the chile rellenos and they were only so-so. Blerg. I’ve been so spoiled with 10 trips to Santa Fe this year, and plates of the delicious chile rellenos from La Plazuela. At least the company was delightful.

dinn

Given the time change, it was an early evening for us and we were in bed before we knew it.

Saturday – I kicked off the day with a quick workout in the hotel gym. Afterwards, it was time for a casual breakfast at Mesilla Valley Kitchen. I had a simple breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, rye toast, and a side of red chile. It was delicious.

break

Afterwards, John, G, and I did a bit of shopping at Nambe and a few other stores in Mesilla.

g btk

Later, once we were dressed for the day, we had a quick lunch at El Sombrero (an Arnold favorite). Our food did not disappoint. These chile rellenos were much better.

es lunch

After lunch, we attended a celebratory mass for Grand Mimi Emma, and then a long reception in her honor.

fam

We had a great time celebrating with family and I am so glad that we were able to make the celebration.

grand mimi

Grand Mimi Emma is still full of life and I am honored that she is able to be a part of George’s life.

g with ee

We were wiped out once the evening rolled around, so we were quick to head to bed early.

Sunday – Sunday began with another workout for me – they help to keep travel/life anxiety and stress at bay. After showers and packing, we visited the nearest Starbucks for an ultra casual Fathers Day breakfast. Then, we drove back to El Paso to catch our flight home.

plane

We ate lunch on board (Subway and Starbucks for the win!), and enjoyed our 90 minute flight back home.

g lunch

Since we landed early in the afternoon, we were able to celebrate John and my Dad with a festive Fathers Day dinner at Pico’s.

dads

Family is everything to us, and we were so fortunate to be able to celebrate both sides of our family last weekend.

arnolds

Hotel Review – The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

During our weekend getaway to New Orleans earlier this month, we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans.

ritz

The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is a luxury hotel with 527 guest rooms and suites. This hotel is widely regarded as one of the “best” hotels in the French Quarter, and is often referred to as the “Queen of Canal Street.”  This was our visit to the hotel, and I am sure it won’t be the last.

Location – The hotel is centrally located on Canal Street in the French Quarter and is a 20-25 minute drive from the airport (MSY). The hotel is literally at the edge of the French Quarter, offering a “close in” feel without being “on top” of the Quarter revelry.

Customer Service – The service at the hotel is beyond exceptional. This hotel offers high-end hospitality – more than you can imagine, and more than we could take advantage of during our short stay.  The hotel gets high-marks from us for communicating with us before our arrival, as well as acknowledging our wedding anniversary in multiple ways. For example, once we arrived in our room, hotel staff sent up a nice bottle of wine, a cheese and fruit plate, as well as a nice note congratulating us on our anniversary.

Accommodations – We stayed in a King Club Floor room at the hotel.

bed

Our large room had a very comfortable king bed, an oversized lounge chair and an ottoman, a desk and chair, a fireplace, a small bar area, and oversized bookshelves. The over-sized master bathroom had an over-sized shower, a generous bathtub, water closet, and double vanities. There was also ample closet space for our luggage and carry-on bags. Our room on the Club floor also granted us access to the Club – a decadent 24-hour lounge with unlimited offerings of food, drinks, and space.

Amenities – The hotel offers far more amenities than we used during our brief stay. The hotel features many lounging areas, shops for souvenirs and high-end luxury items, both a casual and high-end restaurant, a pool, multiple bars, a fitness center, a spa, and lots, lots more. The hotel also has a really gorgeous courtyard.

courtyard

Member Recognition – The Ritz-Carlton brand is somewhat loosely associated with Marriott, so we received some benefits as Platinum Marriott members, namely an upgrade to the Club Floor.

 

NOLA – Sunday

On our last day in New Orleans, we slept in again. To kick off my day, I hit the gym for another workout. Meanwhile, John relaxed in the room.

After a leisurely morning, we walked to brunch at Sylvain.

sylvain

Sylvain was recommended to us by the Rosenbergs and they couldn’t have been more right about this place – it was wonderful. I went with the Sylvain Chicken Sandwich and it was soooo good. Juicy, tender, and perfectly crisp.

chick

This place is going on the list of restaurants I want to visit (again!) the next time I am in town.

central

After brunch, we walked over to pick up muffulettas for dinner at Central Grocery, then it was on to Southern Candymakers to pick up a few more sweet treats.

candy

On the walk back to the hotel, we ran into some friends in Jackson Square, then we popped into the Cathedral for some tranquility.

cathedral

After perusing some antique stores, we went back to the hotel to pack and to check out. We made the quick drive to the airport and sailed through security. Sadly, our flight was delayed due to weather in Houston. We ended up arriving in Houston 6 hours later than planned. Blerg.

rainysky

But, we made it home safely and G was safe and sound (and sleeping!) under the care of my parents.

We were thrilled to get away for our anniversary and we are so thankful that my parents were able to take care of G for us. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

NOLA – Saturday

Uncharacteristically, we slept in on Saturday morning. It was glorious. We exchanged anniversary gifts and had a great time surprising each other. After much discussion, we decided on a two-part breakfast excursion.

cdm

Coffee (John) and a shared order of beignets at Cafe du Monde were part one of our breakfast.

beignets

Part two was fresh mint julep juices from Petite Amelie, a great breakfast spot on Royal.

juices

We did some window shopping on the walk back to the hotel. Such fun!

Once we arrived back at the hotel, John went to our room to relax and I hit the gym for a workout. Later, once we were both officially ready for the day, we walked over to Touchpoint Reflexology for some killer foot massages. Friends, if you should find yourself in NOLA, please make a visit to this place. You won’t be disappointed. I had a 30-minute foot massage that left me feeling AMAZING.

Afterwards, we walked over to Mr B’s Bistro for lunch.

mr bs

The restaurant was bustling and we were excited to be back in a familiar place. We split a salad for an appetizer and I had the Gumbo Ya Ya for my entrée.

mrb salad

It pains me to write this, but my gumbo was only so-so. I am no creole expert, but it tasted as if the roux had been burned. Anyhow, I didn’t really care for it and left most of it behind. What a waste.

mr b gumbo

After lunch, we did some shopping at a few of our favorite NOLA stores – Kids Nola, New Orleans Silversmiths, Luccalulu, Sucre, and French Truck Coffee. After all of the eating and walking, it was time for a nap (for me at least – John watched soccer while I snoozed).

We spent the early part of the evening relaxing before meeting up with friends for a cocktail at French 75 (a bar affiliated with Arnaud’s). We had a great time visiting our friends and I was so glad to see them.

monkey

For dinner, we made the short walk over to another one of our favorite restaurants – Bayona.

bayona sign

Bayona is a quaint restaurant that serves delectable French food.

bayona

We sat upstairs in the wine room – it was a special nook for a rainy night.

soup

We shared some mushroom soup for an appetizer and I had the grilled pork chop for an entrée.

chop

Everything was delicious, friends! For dessert, we shared an order of the chocolate empanadas. Perfection.

emp

On the short walk back to the hotel, we encountered a festive Second Line. Naturally, we had to watch it go by before turning in for the night.

NOLA – Friday

In honor of our 11th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed a quick weekend getaway to one of our favorite cities – New Orleans – two weekends ago. My parents offered to watch George while we were away, so this was a win-win experience for everyone. We traveled to New Orleans together in 2004, 2009, 2010, and had not been back since my sister’s wedding in 2014. In other words…we were overdue for a visit.

Our flight took off on Friday (June 2nd) at 3:00PM from IAH and it was a quick 45 minute flight to MSY in New Orleans. Once we arrived, we rented a car, and made the quick drive to the French Quarter. We checked into the Ritz Carlton New Orleans and were whisked up to the 4th floor club, then to our spacious 8th floor room (more on all of this later). After quickly unpacking, we spent some time relaxing before getting ready, then walking over to Arnaud’s for dinner.

doors

Arnaud’s is a classic New Orleans restaurant (where men are strongly encouraged to wear coats to dinner) with fantastic food.

sign

We were seated in the main dining room and had a great view for people watching (which is always fabulous is NOLA).

gumbo

We shared the chicken and sausage gumbo as an appetizer, and I had the Pompano Duarte for my entrée.

fish

Both dishes were delicious – very flavorful, yet light. For dessert, we shared a chocolate praline bomb cake.

dessert

After our two-hour dinner, we sauntered over to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone for another drink.

drinks

We sat at the rotating carousel bar and had a fun time people watching and catching up.

bar

Later, we walked back to our hotel to settle in for the evening. Along the short walk to our hotel, there was a lot of people watching and activities to take in.

Memorial Day

It was a stormy morning in San Antonio on Memorial Day, so after a quick breakfast, we packed up and hit the road.

break

g

We got home around noon, had lunch, unpacked, and then G and I took a nap. Afterwards, we did laundry, baked some banana bread, and John grilled a nice dinner for us.

We had a great, long Memorial Day Weekend and I hope you did too.