Life · travel

September At Last

In my last post I expressed all my disdain for cranberries, chronic pain, and depression. Let’s talk about some positive things this time, shall we?

It’s finally September! You know what that means! I’m sure a few of you are yelling “Back to school” and while you’re technically right, it’s way more exciting than that. (Although, I’m not a parent. Maybe back to school time is a huge relief for you. I’m not judging.) September is the beginning of Halloween season!!! Those who have been following my blog for a few years now know that I am obsessed with Halloween. Why, you ask? BECAUSE IT’S THE GREATEST TIME OF THE YEAR. Over the next 2 months I’ll be posting lots of Fall/Halloween reading recommendations, as well as other related topics.

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…Consider yourselves warned.

In other exciting news, Boyfriend and I are going on a much needed vacation next week. It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of months with all that’s going on at work and my mental health dragging me down. I am more than ready to get away for a while. We were originally trying it plan a trip to Paris, but, alas, the stars (and prices) were not aligning, so we will be going to Portland and Seattle instead. I loved my first visit to Portland and can’t wait to get to explore more if it this time. I promise, there will be lots of pictures from the stacks at Powell’s, mountain views, and delicious food when we get back.

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Lastly, I have a very important announcement that I need to share with you all: My cat, Merlin, is adorable.

You’re welcome.

Books · food · Life · travel

New York/BookCon 2019 Weekend (part 2)

Earlier in the week I told you all about the amazing time I had at BookCon this year, but I didn’t get to tell you about the rest of my fabulous weekend in New York. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I love New York City – the sights, the sounds, the people, the endless amount of things to see and do, and (most of all) THE FOOD. I could have easily spent the rest of my week there and still wouldn’t have been ready to come home.

I arrived Friday morning and made a beeline for Chelsea Market, which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best food/shopping halls in the country. While I was there I downed a huge bowl of delicious, thick hand-pulled noodles with cumin-lamb sauce, immediately followed by a black-and-white cookie (a childhood favorite of mine). Definitely not a bad start to my trip.

After checking onto my AirBnb I spent several hours wandering the streets of the city, hitting up old favorites and new places that I wanted to check out. One of my favorites was a bookstore called Kinokuniya. The bottom floor was filled with nothing but books in Japanese and a huge selection of stationary and Asian-themed gifts. The second floor was packed with English books of every genre, including tons of Japan-focused books (the cookbook section was amazing!). The top floor was packed with nothing but English and Japanese language manga, graphic novels, and anime. If there weren’t a dozen other places I wanted to visit, I would have easily spent half of my day in that store.

That night I ate Japanese curry and paid a visit to one of my favorite bakeries, Bibble & Sip, where I got a white chocolate-matcha cream puff, plus Totoro and Lucky Alpaca macarons.

BookCon took up most of my days on Saturday and Sunday. When I wasn’t hanging out with all the other book nerds, I was eating more delicious food and simply enjoying my surroundings. By the time Monday morning rolled around I was tired from all the walking and adventures, but it was worth every minute (and calorie). 🙂

Books · travel

Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 2)

It’s time for another round of overdue bookish wanderlust. 🙂

Libreria Acqua Alta (Venice, Italy) – The name literally translates to “bookstore of high water.” Due to the high rising waters in Venice, the shop owner decided to pile all of the shop’s merchandise into bathtubs, canoes, and various other types of waterproof containers so that the his precious books would not be destroyed. I imagine it’s quite difficult to actually find things this way, but I’d still love to check it out someday!

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Buenos Aires) – A bookstore in an old theater! Tell me this doesn’t look like a dreamy place to get lost for an afternoon.

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Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee) – Definitely not the most visually stunning on my list of bookstores, but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about author Ann Patchett’s shop. They do lots of events showcasing well-known and local authors, carry a large selection of fiction and non-fiction titles, and even have a bookmobile that delivers books to the community. (I wish we had a mobile bookstore like that!)

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Need some more bookish wanderlusting? Check out Part 1!

Books · food · Life · travel

How YOU doin’?

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It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, so I thought it would be good to check in. I’ve been super busy lately with work, as this is our busiest time of the year. Between the extra hours worked and the stress of it all, I often come home and act like a giant slug in the evenings. Fortunately, we only have about two more weeks of this nonsense and then things should be returning to normal.

Despite the craziness at work, I’ve actually been feeling a lot better lately. I’ve been incorporating some alternate forms of medicine into my routine, plus more daylight hours means I have more capability to get outside and exercise. Winter is a rough time for people with depression, but fortunately I think I’m pulling myself back out of it again.

Boyfriend and I took an overnight trip to Raleigh this weekend for some exploring and shenanigans. The majority of the trip was spent consuming ridiculously delicious food (Morgan Street Food Hall is amazing!) and going to the Museum of Natural Science. Of course, we also paid a visit to one of my favorite independent bookstores, Quail Ridge Books.

 

What I’m currently reading:

Books · Life · travel

Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 1)

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a wanderlust post. Don’t worry, it’s not because I’m losing my sense of adventure or desire to travel. I’ve actually been planning and researching for the upcoming trips I’ll be going on this year.

There are two things I look for first when considering a place to visit: the culinary scene and how many bookstores they have. As a proclaimed foodie and bibliophile, these are the things that speak most to me. They call me late in the evening and whisper in my ear whilst I’m asleep. “Come to me!” they say. And I listen.

Perhaps I will do a future series of posts about all the foodie destinations I plan to visit someday, but for now, since this is primarily a book blog, I’ll focus on the bookstores.

Eliot Bay Books (Seattle, Washington) – There isn’t much history to this one, but I’ve heard it’s the best bookstore in Seattle.

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Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France) – This one has been around since 1919. The apartment upstairs housed several famous authors over the years, like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Boyfriend and I will definitely be visiting this one when we visit Paris in the Fall.

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Livraia Lello (Porto, Portugal) – One of the most stunning bookstores in the world, the neo-Gothic building was said to have been the source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts.

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The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles, California) – Lots of quirky character packed into this store, in addition to a quarter-million new and used titles. I can’t even imagine how many people go here every year just to take pictures under the tunnel of books.

Books · food · Life · travel

New Orleans: Where you Beignet All My Life? (Part 2)

My second day in New Orleans was an early one. I woke with the eager anticipation of a child on Christmas morning, only it wasn’t presents I was looking forward to. It was something better: Beignets! Cafe du Monde had been on my list of places to try for about 15 years now. Yes, it sounds touristy of me to say that one of my favorite things about NOLA was Cafe du Monde, but I don’t care. If there’s something wrong with eating hot, crispy French doughnuts covered in powdered sugar than I sure as hell don’t want to be right.

Strolling around the French Quarter in the morning is quite a different experience than it is during the afternoon/evening. There are less people about, making things a little more laid-back and quiet, which is always preferable. I loved strolling along the canal early in the morning, watching the ferries in the distance while the smell of beignets fresh out of the fryer filled the air. I could certainly use more mornings like that.

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Mid-morning I hopped on a streetcar and rode out to the Garden District. The Garden District has quite a different feel than the Quarter. It’s more of quiet, residential area, with picturesque homes, tree-lined streets, and old cemeteries. The first (and probably my favorite) cemetery I visited was Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. I’ve mentioned before how I’m a little obsessed with cemeteries, especially ones with lots of character. Lafayette was by far one of the coolest cemeteries I’ve ever visited. I took so many pictures that it’s hard to pick out just a few to share!

I even made a friend while I was there. 🙂

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After the cemetery, I paid a visit to another local bookshop, Garden District Books. It was a great shop with a nice variety of genres to choose from. Small as it was, I still probably could have spent a few hours wandering around there. I ventured a few  blocks over to Magazine St., to check out the shops, art galleries, and (of course) the food scene. On my way there I paid a visit to author Anne Rice’s house. (I now realize that I should have gone in the evening to see if I could catch glimpse of any vampires.)

That evening, I took part in a Haunted History tour that took us all around the Quarter, pointing out various locations that were rumored to be haunted by ghosts. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but it was still fun, nonetheless. I enjoyed learning more about the history of the city and hearing about some of the creepy/disturbing things that have happened along the way. (For all you American Horror Story fans: Part of the tour was the infamous Lalaurie mansion, which just so happened to be a couple of blocks from my hotel.) I definitely thought about sleeping with the lights on that night. Hehe.

My last day was filled with more wandering, both in and outside the French Quarter. I was truly amazed that even on day 3, I still came across places I’d yet to discover. There were street performers, musicians, and all manners of folks out and about, simply enjoying the weekend. After spending a few days eating and sight-seeing my way across the city, I was quite sad to leave. I realize now that my original perception about New Orleans was not entirely accurate. New Orleans isn’t just a city where people go to get drunk. It’s a place to celebrate beauty, culture, and the art of being alive.

food · Life · travel

New Orleans: Where You Beignet All My Life? (Part 1)

Greetings, friends! After three exciting, fun, and exhausting days in New Orleans, I am back home.

I’ll be honest with you, I was a tad nervous my first day there, as I always am when arriving in a new city by myself. I wasn’t about to let fear ruin my trip though! After a quick check in at my hotel, I took a stroll around the French Quarter to combat any doubts that had been lingering. Within minutes I was in awe of the beautiful sights the city had to offer and immediately felt more at ease. Everywhere you look in the French Quarter you’ll find stunning architecture and art. Every building, whether a small business or large mansion, is resplendent with balconies and galleries framed in cast iron railings, colorful facades, and arched windows. There are hidden courtyards with tables and chairs, elaborate fountains, and classical statues. Every nook and cranny has as much art and beauty as you’d find in any museum. It’s like stepping back into a piece of history every time you walk down the street.

 

I spent most of my first day just exploring and people-watching. I took a ten minute stroll down Bourbon St. (the famous street in New Orleans where everyone goes to get drunk and party) and quickly decided that it was not my scene. Even while avoiding Bourbon St., I found plenty of things to keep me busy. There’s so much to do in New Orleans, that it’s impossible to even make a dent during just one visit.

 

I paid a visit to Faulkner House Books, the former home of William Faulkner, where he wrote his first novel. It was a tiny little shop, but it was packed floor to ceiling with classics and rare editions. They didn’t have much in the way of the genres I like, but it was still cool to check out anyway. I discovered lots of other fun and quirky shops, the French Market (an airy, outdoor market that was half specialty stalls and half flea market), Jackson Square, the wharf, and, of course, restaurant after restaurant.

For me, no trip is ever complete without me sampling as much of the local cuisine as I can. One of the biggest reasons I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans is because I’ve heard how amazing the cuisine is. “Amazing” doesn’t even cover it. The food I had there was probably some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not all about the fancy restaurants either, even a po’boy from the corner deli is carefully crafted and packed with more flavor than you can imagine. I ate SO much during my trip and it was worth every freaking calorie. 🙂

Part 2 to follow!