Hello from New York City!

New York skyline

Hello everybody!

Today, I am writing to you from New York City, at a lovely little coffee shop near my sister’s apartment called the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

The weather outside is sunny, cool, and breezy…so different from the New Orleans summer!

I am in a dizzy whirl of catching up with family and friends, and trying to squeeze more than 24 hours out of the day here. It’s never enough time in this city!

But in the meantime, I wanted to send you a few photos from my first days here.

This is me trying to hail a cab at 3:00 am in SoHo. Not really though, I’m posing for the camera while I make my sister’s friend be my impromptu photographer :) Thanks Ralph!

NY hailing cab

Enjoying a birthday celebration in Brooklyn..my fav part of the city!

NY BK hotel

Taking a beautiful ralk (run/walk) on the East River. I just made that up.

NY East River run

Smiling ear to ear after an amazing yoga class with Tara Stiles at Strala Yoga.

NY Strala Yoga

Learning that Lola is NOT a city dog. This girl misses the burbs.

NY Lola laying down

But she is finally warming up to it a little bit :)

NY Lola

I’ll post more photos soon, and I have to tell you about what I have coming up that I’m so excited about, some really neat products that I tried, and some super cool events that I attended last week. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

I hope you’re having a fabulous summer, where ever you. xo

The beautiful skyline photo above was taken by Caroline Crigger.

Love,

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My Letter to LeBron James

Summer in The City

Dear LeBron 2 resize

Dear Lebron,

You did it. You won me over. And you didn’t do it with your phenomenal basketball skills. You did it with your writing; just the way to this journalist’s heart. I have to admit that I was not a fan of yours, even long before you made “the Decision”. I was a Chris Paul for many years, before he left New Orleans. But that’s another story. I often rolled my eyes at the all the fanfare around the “Big 3”; even though the sound of Dwayne Wade’s voice makes me smile like a giddy schoolgirl. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping the Spurs would take the championship home this year. However, I have had a big change of heart, after reading your letter on Coming Home (as told to Lee Jenkins).

Your letter on Coming Home deeply resonated with me, and you have gained my utmost respect, not for your incredible talent on the court, but for your character off of it. Your story inspired me, uplifted me, reassured me.

I know that the NBA was your lifelong dream, like so many young men with a love for the game. You dreamed of being there your whole life. You worked hard to get there. And when you got there, you wanted to win titles. I was a journalist on the brink of an exciting career with CNN, when I fell terribly ill two years ago and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Rare–I’m talking House type stuff here. Working at CNN was like making it to the league. It was my NBA, and writing great stories was like winning championship titles.

I know how hard it must have been for you to leave Cleveland, but you had to leave home to grow and to learn. It’s hard to leave the place that makes you who you are, but deep down you know that you have to . When I left New Orleans, I set out to tell great stories. It was hard for me to leave all the people and things that shaped who I was too. Just as Cleveland raised you, New Orleans made me who I am. It gave me the ability to appreciate culture and diversity, and to relate to different people from all types of journeys…something that has served me well as a journalist.

I witnessed stories of loss, tragedy and triumph. I learned how to tell great stories at CNN. I watched history unfold right before my eyes. Miami was to you, what CNN was to me. I gained my independence, my grit, and my character there. Just as you’ll always see Miami as your second home, I will always consider Atlanta as my second home.

When I got sick, I imagined that’s how an athlete who’s made it to the league, only to be injured soon after must feel. I made a heart-breaking decision. I left CNN and returned home to New Orleans.

Like you, I always believed that I would return home. But I didn’t imagine it would be this soon. I could have returned to CNN, just as you could have stayed in Miami.

But I also felt I had a greater calling here at home. I knew I’d had a unique experience, and that my life was being guided by divine design. I felt that I could use my experience and passion here in New Orleans and have a far greater impact. I felt I could better serve here. I believe that sometimes we are called to certain places or experiences at certain times in our lives for a purpose. We can’t always explain it. Sometimes, we just feel it in our core, and we know it’s right. I think you share in that understanding with me.

I am writing this letter to say that I commend for you making what I know was a difficult decision. My city, like yours, has faced so much adversity. And it needs people who are willing to rise up to the challenge and do the tough jobs. It needs people who deeply care about what the future looks like here. Our kids here need to be lead, inspired, and we have a responsibility to use our God-given talents to go serve others. So, it’s time for you and I to get to work. We’re at home, right where we belong.

It’s been said that in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. You work for what you have.

In New Orleans, when life calls us to a challenge, we fight back boldly.

I hope that you’ll enjoy good health, (no injuries), much success, and long-lasting happiness at home.

I’ll be cheering for you here in New Orleans. I might even wear that number 23.

Love,

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A Dream Dinner: The Yellow Table

You know those picturesque dinners that you see in magazines where the ambiance is magical, the food looks so delightful, and the guests are all so contented?

the yellow table dinner

I went to a real dream dinner last month hosted by Anna Watson Carl, the brilliant mind behind The Yellow Table. Anna is driving across county and hosting dinners for her soon to be self-published book, The Yellow Table Cookbook. How neat is that?

the yellow table watermelon

the yellow table french quarter

As a trained chef, Anna has always dreamed of writing a cookbook, so she decided to do it without the backing of a big publisher. There are countless cookbooks out there these days, but there’s something special about Anna’s. What I love about her work is that it is centered by her belief in the community of gathering around the table at home for dinner. I was so inspired by Anna’s story. In her own words, “You can make a wish, or you can make it happen.”

the yellow table salad and bread

Anna prepared a wonderful meal for us, and Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, who is a brand new to the city, was gracious enough to host us in her lovely French quarter home. And treat us to the delicious dessert below. I had a chance to meet Juley Le of the fabulous Upperlyne, artist Rebecca Rebouche, Hannah McSwain who took these beautiful photos, and Elise, who’s been Anna’s road warrior on their cookbook road trip!

the yellow table Anna 2

It was truly a magical night. I was both uplifted and inspired by the story of every woman there, each one who went against the grain, took a chance and chased a dream, or pursued a passion. For the first time since I began this journey back home, I felt like I had finally found a place where I belonged. It felt like a gathering of old friends, rather than perfect strangers. I am so grateful to have met and shared the company of these lovely ladies. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I had been feeling weary about many things lately. A little bit of divine guidance, if you will.

the yellow table strawberry crostata

Yesterday, Anna reached her goal on Kickstarter to self-publish her book. Yay! And while I am so happy and excited for her, I am not one bit surprised. When she shared her story with us, I had no doubt that she would reach her goal, because her passion and sincerity beamed. You can read about her journey and rally behind The YellowTable Cookbook too.

Here’s to all the women brave enough to answer when their hearts’ call!

the yellow table group toast

Photos by Hannah Swain / Dinner c/o Anna, Joy & Elise / Menus by Rebecca Rebouche

Love,

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barre3 giveaway + a new look

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July!

It was my first 4th here at home in New Orleans in years. I had a quiet weekend relaxing at the pool with friends. I also went to Essence festival for the first time, which is always an exciting time in the city.

I watched Jill Scott perform live, and she was A-mazing! She is an incredible writer.

I also finally decided on a new theme for my blog over the holiday. Yay! I’ve been searching for a new one for quite some time i.e. driving myself crazy with indecisiveness. I’m still tweaking a few things, but I am so happy with the new design. I hope you enjoy it too! With that in mind, I thought today would be the perfect day to kick off my next giveaway!

barre3 tees 2

I’m teaming up with barre3 to give away a special summer treat! Our fearless leader, Kendall, designed these sweet NOLA Skyline tees.

I got so many compliments on mine, so I want to give one away! You can enter to win this super sweet tee and a complimentary class card, so you can see why I love barre3 so much! The giveaway starts this Monday, and you can enter to win right here on my blog! Good luck and I hope you all have a great week following the holiday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What did you do this 4th of July? Let me know!

Love,

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15 Reasons to Love Figs

One of my favorite fruits of the summer are figs. My parents have a fig tree in their backyard, and figs always make me think fondly of summers past. Figs, or tin, in Arabic, are a highly regarded fruit, native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

My dad always told us that figs were good for you, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I wanted to find out about all the health benefits. Besides the fact that they’re so yummy, figs are jam packed with all the good stuff. Here’s 15 reasons for you love them even more this summer.

15 Reasons Figs Are Good for Your Health

1. They’re Delicious

No further explanation necessary :)

2. Help Prevent cancer

Coumarin, found in figs, may help reduce the risk of Prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.

3. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fiber found in figs called, Pectin, helps reduce blood cholesterol.

Figs 2

4. Help Prevent high blood pressure

The content of Potassium, Omega 3 and Omega 6 in figs help maintain blood pressure and prevent coronary heart attacks.

5. Help treat diabetes

Decoction, found in fig leaves can help patients with diabetes reduce the amount of insulin intake.

Figs 1

6. Fights fatigue

Figs can help reduce fatigue, improve brain memory and prevent anemia.

7. Helps relieve constipation

Because of the high content in fiber, figs can act as a laxative and help treat chronic constipation.

8. Natural Anti-Inflammatory

When applied to the skin, baked figs can cure inflammations like abscesses and ulcers.

9. Natural Skin Cleanser

Due to its high water content, mashed figs are an excellent skin cleanser and can helps prevent and treat acne.

10. An Alternative to Dairy

Figs are rich in calcium, which can be a great alternative if you are lactose intolerant or prefer to be dairy-free.

 11. Helps Aid Digestion

Figs contain prebiotics, which help support the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut, and improves digestive wellness.

12. Can Aid in Weight Loss

Fig fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which makes them very effective for weight loss.

13. Helps Fight Osteoporosis

The calcium and potassium in figs helps prevent bone thinning and increase bone density.

14. Helps you Sleep Better

Figs contain Tryptophan, which helps induce sleep.

15. It’s a Natural Sweetener

Because of their sweetness, figs were often used as a natural sweetener, and they still can be. In the summer, I like to keep a bowl of figs in the kitchen, and have a couple when I feel a sweet tooth coming on instead of going for the bad sugar.

 

15 figs health benefits

1. Prevent cancer
Coumarin content of the figs, may also reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer. Eating figs regularly can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
2. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fiber found in figs called Pectin helps in reducing blood cholesterol.
3. Prevent high blood pressure and heart attack
The content of Potassium, Omega 3 and Omega 6 on fig fruit helps to maintain blood pressure and coronary heart attacks.
4. Help cure diabetes
Figs leaves have healing properties. Decoction of fig leaves can help patients with diabetes reduces the amount of insulin intake.
5. Consume figs can reduce fatigue, improve brain memory and prevent anemia.

- See more at: http://healthfame.blogspot.com/2013/03/15-figs-health-benefits-nutrition-facts.html#sthash.XqSsSU9V.dpuf

1. Prevent cancer
Coumarin content of the figs, may also reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer. Eating figs regularly can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
2. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fiber found in figs called Pectin helps in reducing blood cholesterol.
3. Prevent high blood pressure and heart attack
The content of Potassium, Omega 3 and Omega 6 on fig fruit helps to maintain blood pressure and coronary heart attacks.
4. Help cure diabetes
Figs leaves have healing properties. Decoction of fig leaves can help patients with diabetes reduces the amount of insulin intake.
5. Consume figs can reduce fatigue, improve brain memory and prevent anemia.
6. Because laxative effect, consume the fruit is very helpful for treating chronic constipation.
7. Daily consumption of figs is an effective drug for the treatment of hemorrhoids cure.
8. When applied to the skin, baked figs can cure inflammations like abscesses and ulcers.
9. Due to its high water content, mashed figs acts as an excellent skin cleanser and helps in preventing and curing acne.
10. Figs are rich in calcium and calcium is an excellent alternative for the therapeutic treatment of people who are allergic to dairy products.
11. Figs are rich in natural Benzaldehid as Phenol and Anti-Tumor Agent and Micro-organisms can kill pathogens, fungus and virus in the human body.
12. Fig fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which makes them very effective for weight loss program (Obesity).
13. Content of Calcium and Potassium in figs prevent bone thinning (osteoporosis), and helps to increase bone density.
14. Content of Tryptophan in figs, induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleep disorders such as insomnia.

- See more at: http://healthfame.blogspot.com/2013/03/15-figs-health-benefits-nutrition-facts.html#sthash.XqSsSU9V.dpuf

1. Prevent cancer
Coumarin content of the figs, may also reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer. Eating figs regularly can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
2. Reduce cholesterol
The soluble fiber found in figs called Pectin helps in reducing blood cholesterol.
3. Prevent high blood pressure and heart attack
The content of Potassium, Omega 3 and Omega 6 on fig fruit helps to maintain blood pressure and coronary heart attacks.
4. Help cure diabetes
Figs leaves have healing properties. Decoction of fig leaves can help patients with diabetes reduces the amount of insulin intake.
5. Consume figs can reduce fatigue, improve brain memory and prevent anemia.
6. Because laxative effect, consume the fruit is very helpful for treating chronic constipation.
7. Daily consumption of figs is an effective drug for the treatment of hemorrhoids cure.
8. When applied to the skin, baked figs can cure inflammations like abscesses and ulcers.
9. Due to its high water content, mashed figs acts as an excellent skin cleanser and helps in preventing and curing acne.
10. Figs are rich in calcium and calcium is an excellent alternative for the therapeutic treatment of people who are allergic to dairy products.
11. Figs are rich in natural Benzaldehid as Phenol and Anti-Tumor Agent and Micro-organisms can kill pathogens, fungus and virus in the human body.
12. Fig fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which makes them very effective for weight loss program (Obesity).
13. Content of Calcium and Potassium in figs prevent bone thinning (osteoporosis), and helps to increase bone density.
14. Content of Tryptophan in figs, induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleep disorders such as insomnia.

- See more at: http://healthfame.blogspot.com/2013/03/15-figs-health-benefits-nutrition-facts.html#sthash.XqSsSU9V.dpuf

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Dress for Success Power Walk in New Orleans

This past weekend, I did a Dress for Success power walk with our barre3 team.

Dress for Success is a non-profit whose mission is to “promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”

In other words, they get women ready for career independence. And you know I’m all about my independent woman thang! See I’m a Grown Woman.

My barre3 boss, Kendall, who is just as lovely as could be, served on the board for the Dress for Success Power Walk in New Orleans. When she invited us to join her for the walk, I jumped at the chance.

The Power Walk landed on the first day of Summer, and it was plenty hott out there!

On Saturday morning, we started off with a warm-up led by Kendall and demonstrated by some of our barre3 instructors.

Dress for success Kendall leading stretch

Dress for Success stretch

Kendall’s husband, Clayton, came out to show support, even though he’s on crutches from a recent injury. Love a guy who’s down for his lady no matter what! Shout out to Clay Clay :)

Dress for Success Clayton on crutches

Dress for success Clayton and Kendall

Betsy and Lauren, our barre3 clients, joined us for the walk too.

Dress for success group shot medium

I found out that I’m definitely not as fit as I thought I was. By the end of the walk, I was winded! It’s time for me to up my cardio. Don’t be fooled by my smile. I was sweaty and tired.

But it was great to be at City Park on Saturday morning and walk it out for a good cause.

Dress for Success me at end

You can find out more about Dress for Success here.

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21 Things I Love About Summer

summer

Hello everybody!

I hope you enjoyed the first few days of Summer! I had a lot of work to catch up on this weekend, but I still managed to celebrate a little.

To mark the beginning of Summer, which landed on June 21 this year, I thought it would be fun to do a ’21 Things I Love about Summer’ post. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading, as always. Here it goes!

1. The heat-Some people can’t stand the New Orleans summer months, but I LOVE the heat. I guess I am a warm-bodied creature. I’d rather be sweating than freezing my butt off.

2. Snowballs-A New Orleans favorite. These always make me reminiscent of my childhood summer days. They’re so yummy and one of the best ways to cool off. My go-to flavor: Strawberry drizzled with just a little bit of condensed milk. Mmmmm!

Snowball

3. Longer Days- I love summer because the days are long, and the nights are warm. And who doesn’t love more sunlight? The longer the days, the more I like to stay out looking for trouble :)

4. Swimming–One of my favorite Summer past-times. When we were younger, I’d spend all day and night swimming with my cousins. That was the life.

5. The Beach–My favorite place in the whole, wide world. The sun, the water, the sand. Some people like to go on vacation and explore cities and the outdoors. I’ll take the beach any day, hands down.

6. Watermelon–My favorite summer fruit. Need I say more?

watermelon

7. Lemonade–My mom makes a mean mint-lemonade. I do LOVE strawberry-lemonade too though. And it’s a delicious, healthy alternative to soda.

8. Movies–One of those things I can never seem to find enough time for. But in the summer, I love to watch more movies at the theater. Nothing like sitting back with a big bucket of popcorn (with butter please) and waiting for a movie to begin.

9. Traveling-Summertime is when most people travel, and I always love having a new place to visit to look forward to in the summer. It’s so exciting to have something to look forward to.

10. Music–Doesn’t it seem like the best songs come out in the summer? You know when you hear a song, and it makes you think of a certain time in your life. Ohh like, a summer love?

11. Bar’b’q’s-As healthy as I like to be, I love a good bar’b’q, especially with steak! Summer is so right for bar’b’q’s.

corn on the grill

12. Patios–One day, when I own a home (hopefully) I’ll have a patio and host a party every summer. That’s how much I love patios. There will be lights, soft music, delicious dips and treats, and sangria.

13. Pool parties–What’s not to love about sunbathing and relaxing by a pool, perhaps with a refreshing drink-in-hand? Pool parties always have been, and always will be my favorite kind of parties. Plus, I get to wear less clothes. See #15 below.

14. Rainy Days–Some people find the rain to be such a bother and inconvenience. But I don’t mind the rain at all. All the beautiful things that we love about nature and being outdoors grow from the rain, so I appreciate rainy days just as much as I do sunny days. And rainy days are perfect for writing!

15. Wearing less clothes–The less clothes, the better, if you ask me! I love to be free and wear short shorts and short skirts.

16. Gardens-I love to see all the fresh vegetables and fruits and flowers that grow in the summer. My dad has a fig tree, orange, lemon and mint. In the summer, I love to watch him tend to his garden. It’s warming and comforting to watch him care for things that feed and nourish us.

17. Reading--I love to get a good reading list going in the summer. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time reading online, but not many books. I need to get back to my books. Nothing beats holding a good old fashion paperback in your hands.

18. Sandals–My closet is currently overflowing with toppling boxes of sandals. I can’t really wear heels for very long, but I applaud the ladies who can. I love a jazzy pair of sandals.

19. Bright Nail Polishes-To wear with those sandals! I love all the wonderfully bright colors of the summer. On Sunday evenings, after I prepare for the week ahead, I love to sit down and paint my nails. It’s a stress buster for me! My favorite colors right now are Mint Candy Apple by Essie and Orange’ ya jealous by Loreal.

Polish

20. Outdoor Fitness Activities–My favorite way to workout is outdoors. Walking, biking, swimming, hiking, rowing (lightly) are all made for the summer. I’ll take a trail over a treadmill ANY day.

21. Long Walks-You know I’m not a runner, guys. But I love a good, long walk. The summer time is perfect because the days are longer (see # 3)  and it’s easier to get a walk in at the end of the work day. Nietzsche says the best ideas are conceived while walking.

What do you love about Summer?

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November Project in New Orleans

Happy hump day everybody! I am feeling great today after a rough past couple of days. And I’m doing my favorite thing today…writing.

Have you guys heard about November Project? It’s a free boot camp style work out for the community that started in Boston to help people stay fit during the brutal, New England winters.

It’s grown to seventeen cities, and we’re lucky to have them here in New Orleans. On Wednesday mornings at 6 a.m. (yes, 6 a.m.) volunteer trainers lead a community workout at Champions square. People of all ages and fitness levels are welcome!

November project skyline

I somehow managed to drag my butt out of bed super early one Wednesday morning and make it out. I still can’t believe I did it. It was SO worth it. Here’s a sneak peek of what it’s like.

November project stairs 3

I’m writing about it this week for my Nolavie column, and you can read the full write up this Friday if you’d like.

November project champions square running

Hope you have a great day! xo

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Houston Highlights

I like how they get down in H-town! Last week, I took a spontaneous trip to Houston. Even though it’s just next door to us here in LoUisiana, I’ve never been before.

So, I booked a last minute ticket on the Megabus, and off I went!

It was just a couple of days, and sadly it wasn’t enough time to see all my friends and family there, but I hope to go back again this summer. Here’s a few photos from stay.

I snuck in a workout in at the gym nearby my friend’s house. I used to always travel with a pair of heels..now I never leave without my running shoes. It’s still a little weird for me too. haha

Shoes in Houston

After all I’ve heard about the Galleria, I FINALLY got to see it for myself. And out of all the things to see there, this is what caught my eye…a fresh juice bar! Yum!

Houston fresh bar

No shopping for me this go-round :( It wasn’t in my budget. But I did get a real treat on our way out….

Houston’s Breakfast Club!

The Breakfast Club Houston

I have to say, this was my favorite part of the trip.

Chicken and Waffles Houston

I considered ordering a light, healthy meal, but how could I when I had THIS staring me in the face?!

Chicken and Waffles close up Houston

Houston is about a five hour ride from New Orleans, and we made a couple stops along the route. Just enough time for me to stretch!

Stretch Break 2 Houston

Stretch Break 5 Houston

Stretching helps fight fatigue and keep your blood flowing on long trips.

Stretch Break 6 Houston

And it feels sooo good.

Stretch Break 7 Houston

I hope I can get back soon and explore the city a little more. It’s such a huge, sprawling city and I only got a glimpse of it, but it’s true what they say…everything really IS bigger in Texas!

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Summer in the City: A story about living healthy & happy in New Orleans

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Happy Friday everybody! Aren’t you so glad it’s the weekend?!

I’m so excited to share something special with you today…

My first column published today on Nolavie, a website that covers life and culture in New Orleans. It is my story about living healthy and happy in Nola.

I’ll be writing a column twice a month, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Here it is:

Summer in the City: A story about living healthy and happy in Nola

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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