Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Orleans

Dylan and I went to New Orleans at the beginning of November for a little vacation and early (one year!) anniversary present to ourselves. I've been to New Orleans once before this, but it was only for a long weekend and I didn't get to do any of the things I really wanted to, so I was especially excited to head back. It's such a cool, lively city, and I think everyone should visit at least once.

There is so much to see and do (and eat and drink) in New Orleans that it's easy to get overwhelmed, so we focused on exploring just a few neighborhoods rather than trying to see the whole city. I figured breaking down my favorite spots by neighborhood would be the best way to share.


FRENCH QUARTER

→ One of the first things on my list for New Orleans was a ghost tour, and Lord Chaz's Ghost and Vampire Tour did not disappoint. Unfortunately, Lord Chaz himself was sick, but Master Thomas stepped in and did an awesome job. (If you've never been on a ghost tour, don't worry—they're not scary! It's basically like a walking lesson in local history and lore. I promise you'll have a good time.)

→ If you feel yourself slowing down after a long day of walking (and probably drinking), stop in at Molly's at the Market and get their frozen Irish coffee for a quick pick-me-up. Pay the extra $1.50 for the large. You'll regret it if you don't.

Faulkner House Books, the former home of (you guessed it) William Faulkner, is a charming little bookstore tucked away down Pirate's Alley. Duck in there for a quiet escape from the bustle of the Quarter.

→ Anything covered in powdered sugar deserves your attention, so you have to stop in at Cafe Du Monde. Service moves fast here, so don't feel discouraged by a long line or full tables. You can get an order of beignets and two cafe au laits for less than ten dollars, and it's totally worth it.


BYWATER & MARGINY

→ We ate Sunday brunch at Elizabeth's Restaurant and even though the wait was half an hour longer than we were originally told I would totally do it all over again. Dylan ordered the duck waffle, I had the eggs florentine (with shrimp instead of oysters), and we split an order of the fried boudin balls. It was all to die for.

Crescent Park stretches along the riverfront for over a mile with a nice walking trail, cool industrial spaces, and swings to sit on and watch the boats pass by.  (There's an entrance to the park right across the street from Elizabeth's, which is perfect because you'll need a place to walk off that delicious southern food.)

→ Our first night we ate at St. Roch Market, a beautiful and super cool food hall that hosts twelve local food and drink vendors, and walked St. Claude Avenue, stopping in neighborhood bars along the way. (After a couple of drinks, you might feel brave enough to belt out a song at Kajun's Pub's nightly karaoke. I may or may not have sung "Breakaway" with the help of three Maker's and Cokes.)

→ We originally decided to go to Sólo Espresso because it was a short walk from our AirBnb, but we enjoyed it so much we went two mornings in a row. Get there early so you can grab a biscuit and their fig earl grey jam to enjoy with your vanilla latte.




MAGAZINE STREET

→ There are so many great shops along the six-mile stretch of Magazine Street, but my favorite was probably Zèle NOLA, an indoor market with art, clothes, jewelry, and more all crafted by local makers.

Sucré is an amazing sweet shop with macarons, gelato, chocolates, and other delicious desserts that are almost too beautiful to eat. They have several locations around the city, but we went to the one on Magazine Street (twice) and I think about their raspberry and cookies and cream gelato every day.

→ We stopped in Hey! Cafe to take a break from all the walking (and shopping), and I'm so glad we did because I had literally the best vanilla latte of my life. It was so good that I pretty much immediately got back up to buy a bag of their Hello Espresso roast (which you can also buy online) and a mug (just because).

Octavia Books is a cool little bookshop tucked away off the far east end of the street. I always make a point to buy something from (at least) one local indie bookstore wherever I travel, so I finally picked up a copy of Truly Devious (so good!) and a purple fountain pen when we stopped here.


ELSEWHERE

→ I love visiting museums when I travel, and the New Orleans Museum of Art is the perfect size with a diverse collection and a sculpture garden. It's located in City Park, which is perfect for reflecting after a couple of hours wandering the museum.

→ For our anniversary dinner, we dressed up and went to Cochon in the Central Business District. Most of the plates are meant to be shared, so we ordered quite a few and all of it was delicious. My favorites were the fried alligator with chili garlic mayonnaise and all the cocktails I drank. (Cochon Butcher, the butcher shop and sandwich counter next door, was also recommended to us by several friends, but we sadly weren't able to make it back. You should probably go though.)

-Maggie

Saturday, December 1, 2018

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing


A big perk of working at BookPeople is having access to a room full of ARCs—but it's not something I'm very good about taking advantage of usually. I either forget to check or I'll grab one and never get around to reading it before the book is actually published (which really defeats the purpose). It also doesn't help that I typically only work at BookPeople once a week, so the ARCs I'm interested in have usually already been taken.

But when it came to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, I was determined to get my hands on a copy and read it before its release date. I enlisted my dear friend Christina to watch out for ARCs since she works full-time at BookPeople, and she found one for me by the end of July! (Get you a Christina in your life.) I read it in a week and it was so fun. Below is the tiny synopsis and review I wrote for BookPeople's monthly newsletter and holiday catalog.*

It's 2:45 A.M. in Manhattan, and April May has found (what she believes to be) a giant robot sculpture standing in front of a Chipotle. She and her friend Andy make a silly video with the sculpture (dubbed "Carl") and upload it to YouTube, unaware that other Carls have appeared overnight in dozens of cities around the world and their lives were about to change forever.

In An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, author Hank Green takes a look at the idea of fame in the age of viral videos, YouTube stars, and social media influencers—but more than that, it is a declaration of his belief in humanity. In such a turbulent time, when it can be so easy to only see the bad in the world and in each other, Green reminds us that humanity is overwhelmingly good. April May's story will make you proud to be a human.

-Maggie

* Speaking of the holidays, BookPeople is teaming up with thirteen local nonprofits and hosting give-back days throughout December. It's a great way to support your local independent bookstore and these amazing organizations this season!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Lately

As much as I like to label myself as a "blogger" on every social media profile I have, I am really bad at it. Truly awful! And I'm not sure there was a time I was ever good at it—but then again, the definition of what makes a "good" blogger is relative. It's all relative!

So here I am again, after months away, just to say a quick hello and give an update to the one or two people that might read this blog and not actually know me in "real life." (Hello, imaginary people!)



At the end of March, while randomly scrolling through a local shelter's adoption page, I found the saddest dog I had ever seen in my life and thought, I must have her. I brought her home a few days after my birthday and named her Edie.

She is scared of most things, but seems to be scared of less things as time goes on. She is always cold, so she really loves blankets and wearing sweaters and sitting in the sun. She is pretty much always asleep, and she would probably never get out of bed as long as I was there too. She is the sweetest puppy in the world! I love her so much!



Our BFFs KaCee and Kyle (and Gretel) moved to Portland in July. We threw a goodbye party for them the night before they left, which was fun until I started crying towards the end, which made Melany and KaCee start crying too. (To clarify, this was not the first time we'd cried.) We went for one last breakfast at Snooze the next morning where we cried some more and attempted to smother our feelings with pancakes.

The four of us had so much fun living together and we were so sad they were moving out, but we were excited for them too. And it was also exciting because Dylan moved into their room.



Speaking of Dylan, we have been dating for nearly a year (our anniversary is on Sunday!), which is crazy and exciting and a lot of other feelings. He is so silly, sweet, and thoughtful, and I feel very, very lucky to have him in my life. Living with him (and Melany) has been so much fun, and I'm really looking forward to the next year.

There are few more things that I missed blogging about within the last year (namely my trip to San Francisco and my birthday weekend), as well as a few things sitting half-finished in my drafts, that I might go back and post. (They're months old, but who cares! It's my life and it's now or never, you know?) We'll see—but for now, that's all I've got.

-Maggie

Saturday, May 19, 2018

6 Before 27



On every birthday since 2012, I've made a list of goals I want to accomplish before my next birthday, starting with 20 Before 21 and going up each year. But I've always been really bad at completing these lists. It's not only because there were so many goals to begin with, but I had to come up with more every year and ended up filling lists with goals that were either unrealistic or not that important to me.

I wasn't going to make a list this year, but then I realized that, well, I really wanted to, but also there's not a rule that says I have to set 26 goals. I'm going to cut down the number so I can focus on a few things I really want to do. So, without further ado and even though my birthday was over a month ago, here are six goals I hope to accomplish before my 27th birthday.

01. READ 30 NEW BOOKS.
I got so close this past year! So close! I always set my goal for thirty and can never seem to crack it, but this year it's going to happen.

02. MAKE IT TO 100 CHECK-INS AT CAMP GLADIATOR.
Last year, I set a goal to go to Camp Gladiator twice a week, which was optimistic, to say the least. I thought it might be easier to set a goal I could actively work towards, so I'm shooting for 100 check-ins. With where I'm at now, that averages out to just one workout a week, which is totally doable!

03. PAY OFF MY CAR.
I was hoping to pay off my car last year, but soon after I set the goal I ended up having to pay for $1500 worth of work–so let's hope that doesn't happen again! If I'm able to put a little extra towards the principal each month, I should be able to pay it off by next April!

04. OPEN A ROTH IRA.
I contribute to my 401k through my job at the credit union (and just increased my contribution from 6% to 8%–you should do this too! You won't even notice the difference in your paycheck!), but I want to start contributing to a Roth IRA as well.

05. TAKE A TRIP SOMEWHERE NEW.
This past week I devised a plan to maybe hopefully visit Washington D.C. and Philadelphia in September! It's still very tentative, but I'm already planning all the museums and bookstores I want to go to, so cross your fingers for me.

06. GET ANOTHER TATTOO.
I've known for awhile now that I want to get a floral tattoo inspired by a needlepoint my grandmother made, but I've had trouble finding an artist whose style I liked (who wasn't in Australia). I think I've finally found the right person, but if you have any recommendations for Texas tattoo artists specializing in florals, let me know!

-Maggie

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017

True to form, I'm more than two weeks late with my yearly recap post (take comfort in the fact that some things never really change), but I was bound and determined to finish this damn post, so let's get to it.

The year before last was a really tough year for me personally, so I went into 2017 with a "something's gotta give" sort of mentality and, well, it was... something. Somehow, things in 2017 were both better and worse than 2016. I'm not going to expound on the worse things because, honestly, I'm tired of thinking about them (and I'm sure you're tired of hearing about them, too).

So here are the better things, the bright spots from my 2017, in no particular order and in bullet points and pictures because you deserve a break.


• I marched for equality with some of my best friends and thousands of other people in Austin and millions more across the world.

• I caught a couple of plays at the Austin Playhouse and saw four musicals—Mamma Mia!, Kinky Boots (on Broadway with Brendon Urie!), Fun Home, and Rent. All of them made me want to cry.

• My roommates and I moved out of our apartment and into a very cute house.

• I finally watched Parks & Rec and discovered I am the worst combination of Leslie Knope and Chris Traeger. (Melany, my faithful friend: "I wouldn't say the worst combination... Both of them are passionate people and can be... a lot sometimes, but Leslie went on to be president!")


• Natalie, Dillon, and I spent a super fun week in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. (#ohsayVANyouSEA), which was my first time outside of the U.S. I loved Vancouver and hope to go back sooner rather than later.

• My book club moved to BookPeople, read eleven new books, and consumed a lot of cheese and wine.

• There were a ton of great BookPeople events that I either worked and attended, including but not limited to Zadie Smith, Joy Wilson (a.k.a. Joy the Baker), Lemony Snicket, Samantha Irby, John Darnielle, and Chelsea Clinton (again).

• My friend Rachel invited me to see John Mulaney in San Antonio, and I laughed so hard my head hurt.

• I hung out with Tom Hanks while he signed 1100 books at the Texas Book Festival. He was absolutely lovely and exactly what you imagine him to be. We share an inside joke about tacos and he called me "Mags," so we're best friends now.


• After years of putting it off, I took the GRE (twice) and applied for graduate school. It's still a work in progress, but dammit at least I finally started.

• For my birthday, my best friends and I spent a weekend exploring New Orleans. I'm hoping to go back at some point this year because we barely scratched the surface of that super cool city.

• In October, I watched the Astros win the World Series with my BFF and ultimate Astros' fan Christina and dressed up as Lizzie McGuire for Halloween.

• I stood next to Hillary Clinton for three and a half hours while she signed books and gave people high fives. At one point, someone said the words "Maggie, we have to go upstairs to get briefed by Secret Service" to me. It was a weird day.


• My high school friend Mary visited from Portland with her two little girls, Whimsy and Glory. We babysat one afternoon and took them for their first ever sno cones. They were big fans.

• We hosted the third annual Friendsgiving and everyone really liked my mashed potatoes.

• My roommates and I went to a trampoline park for Kyle's 30th birthday where I hurt my knee and almost drowned in a foam pit.

• Melany and I met a few of my favorite bloggers in New York City (#bfgtnyc) where we explored, ate a ton of good food, got very little sleep, and walked so many miles.

• I got to see a few of my favorite bands again, including Quiet Company (of course), Two Door Cinema Club, and Les Hay Babies. I wore my red cowboy boots for the first time (thanks, Emmy) to the Les Hay Babies show and three different people asked if I was in the band.


• I downloaded Tinder only to almost immediately delete it again, like, five different times—but the sixth time I downloaded it, I met a very surprising boy. (Hi, Dylan.) He's so sweet, thoughtful, and silly, and has me feeling both terrified and excited... but definitely more excited.

• I drank some bourbon and sang karaoke for the first time by myself at the BookPeople holiday party. ("Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" by Aaron Carter, in case you were wondering.)

• Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent with my mom and siblings (and Uncle Kim for Thanksgiving) in Albany where I watched a lot of movies and pretty much didn't ever leave my house or change out of my pajamas.

• Also, it SNOWED TWICE in AUSTIN a few weeks ago. SNOW! IN AUSTIN! (Also, Austin was cancelled today due to an ice storm (which is why I'm home now and able to finally finish this post), so this winter has been a little crazy as a whole.)


I know I said this last year, but I'm hopeful for 2018. Yes, in ways 2017 was both better and worse than 2016, but I think it was mostly better. For me, at least. The first few weeks of the new year have been really good to me, and I'm hopeful the trend will continue.

-Maggie

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