Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to Do in New Orleans This Weekend for the Cowboys Game

Jackson Square in New Orleans, New Orleans for Families
Jackson Square, March 2013
New Orleans is usually a good idea.

During the summer when it's 98 degrees with 100% humidity?  Not so much.

During football season?  Always.

Visiting New Orleans for a Saints game is a blast.  The city is always alive but the spirit is even livelier when the Saints are playing.  

When they play the Cowboys this weekend it will be electric.  Because of New Orleans' proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth, you will see Cowboys fans throughout the city.  

In fact, some Cowboys employees will fly commercially to New Orleans so the team charter can accommodate the sponsors who will be making the trip.

I will be there with my family and friends celebrating my husband's birthday.  A friend who works for the Cowboys asked me about taking my daughter, Jordan, to New Orleans.  He wondered how the city is for kids.

In a word: FABULOUS.

This will be Jordan's second trip to New Orleans.  We were there in March and had the best time.

Storyland New Orleans City Park
New Orleans for Families
What do you do with a kid in New Orleans?  The same things you do without a kid.  She didn't impact our trip one bit.  She enhanced it.  New Orleans is a great city for families.  Here are some ideas:
Granted, we're not out hanging from balconies in the French Quarter until 4am with a toddler.  We will still visit our favorite restaurants, watering holes and shops, though.  Here are suggestions I share with friends any time they visit the city. 

Hotels - if you don't have a room, you will find the availability sparse and the prices high this weekend:
  • Ritz Carlton Hotel - great location on the edge of the Quarter on Canal.  This is one of the most affordable in the Ritz chain.  My go-to.
  • Marriott on Canal - nice Marriott with a Starbucks in the lobby.  I stayed here during the NBA All-Star Game where I stalked Mark Cuban for an interview outside a men's restroom following the Jason Kidd trade. 
  • International House - great boutique hotel located in the Central Business District.  We stayed here during Mardi Gras.  Very chic.  
  • W Hotel - there is one in the Quarter & one near Harrah's Casino.  Both are "W-esque" but the Quarter location has more charm.  I have stayed at both but prefer the one in the Quarter. 
  • The Saint Hotel - a gorgeous, Marriott-owned boutique offering next to the Ritz.  
  • The Windsor Court - near the casino.  Many NBA teams stay here. 
Restaurants - if you have a bad meal in this city, it's your own fault:
  • Antoine's - claims to be the oldest restaurant in America.  Gorgeous building in the Quarter  that is full of history.  Go, if only to check out the building & see if you can get a tour of the wine cellar.
  • Pelican Club - serves delicious local cuisine, nestled in Exchange Place.
  • GW Fins - popular, local seafood spot in the Quarter which is consistently voted one of the best.
  • Bayona - a foodie fave that is worth the wait, price and more. Located in the Quarter.
  • Nola - in the Quarter near Jackson Square, one of Emeril's more casual spots.
  • Emeril's - popular but good.
  • Gautreau's - located in Uptown.  Great seafood.
  • Vizard's - in Uptown on Magazine, good local cuisine. 
  • Herbsaint - in the Central Business district, serves French-inspired cuisine.
  • Domenica - in the Roosevelt hotel, great pizza & roasted cauliflower.
A classic Pimm's Cup at the Napolean House/Courtesy
Watering Holes - I'm not a bar person anymore but I definitely have some NOLA faves:  
  • Napoleon House - for a Pimm's Cup or Dixie to go.  The bartender, Mario, is quite salty but nice once he knows you. 
  • Bombay Club  - a martini spot in the Quarter that is full of character.  It reminds me of a British smoking club. 
  • Pat O'Brien's - a legend with a legendary patio, piano bar and signature Hurricane cocktail.  Go. If anything just to say you went.  
  • Carousel Bar - in the hotel Monteleone.  The name speaks for itself.
  • Bulldog's - sports bar with an awesome, dog-friendly patio on Magazine.  Get a spicy bloody Mary to go and continue strolling the shops on Magazine. 
  • Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - in the Quarter.  Is it haunted?  You tell me. 
  • Old Absinthe House - on Bourbon street, see if you can find my business card on the wall.
  • The Sazerac Bar - good cocktails in the Roosevelt Hotel.
  • Bar in the Ritz Carlton - more than anything it's a good scene. 
Pirate's Alley
Lagniappe - a little something extra: 
  • Shopping on Magazine - head Uptown and check out the fun shops along Magazine.  I like Hazelnut (great home stuff), Storyville (cute t-shirts),  Probst decorating (LOVE her fabrics) as well as the slew of antique shops.
  • Saturday Morning at the Frenchmen Art Market - just off the Quarter, fun Farmer's Market vibe. 
  • Antique shopping on Royal Street
  • Cemetery Tours or French Quarter Walking Tour- these are popular.  I have never done one. 
  • Pirate's Alley - the inspiration for 1,000's of street artists.  
These suggestions barely scratch the surface.  Writer Rudy Maxa created an enlightening New Orleans walking tour on iTunes.  It takes you past Jackson Square, Truman Capote's old home and more.  Definitely worth a download. 

If you will be there this weekend, get lost in the French Quarter, have fun, stay safe and don't drive! Taxis are your friend. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Diet Tricks You SHOULDN'T Do

There are all sorts of diet tricks out there.   I shared 25 of the best diet tricks of all time last year plus a few of my own faves:
  • Putting your fork down between bites.  It works, promise.
  • Leaving two bites on every plate when you dine in a restaurant.  Another winner.
What about so-called diet tricks that don't work?  The Huffington Post's Anna Almendrala offers "7 Diet Habits You Should Drop Now" and the suggestions are pretty logical:

  • Don't skip breakfast - good advice but if you're not hungry, don't stress over it.  Do what works for you.  I love breakfast.  If I'm not hungry, I will at least try to get something in my system like my green smoothie
  • Cutting out entire food groups - I mean really.  Who can live without bread or cheese fries the rest of their lives?  It's ridiculous.  It's about moderation and occasional indulgences. 
  • Filling up on diet soda drinks - this is a game changer.  From a pure hydration standpoint, you will feel so much better if you avoid diet soda (as well as regular) and quench your thirst with plain water, sparkling water, water infused with fresh fruit or cucumber slices or iced tea.  
  • Thinking about it as a "diet" in the first place - TRUTH!  
Your "diet" is your overall approach to eating.  If you think about a "quick fix" it won't work.  You will fall right back into those bad habits once your calorie-reduced diet ends.  Sure, you can jumpstart your weight loss by restricting calories and dropping a few pounds quickly but you must consider how you will MAINTAIN that weight loss once you resume "normal" eating.

The "Diet" That Works For Me
I've said it repeatedly and will say it again: that Mediterranean "diet" is the BOMB.  Fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, olive oil, feta cheese, red wine and chocolate.  There is nothing "diet" or restrictive about it.  It's abundant in its bounties.

The Great Green Smoothie Recipe
Looking for a great way to get some fruit and veggies in your system first thing in the morning?  Try my great green smoothie.  This one features Almond Breeze almond milk, a banana, frozen berries, spinach and chia seeds.

Kids love it, too.  You can hear my daughter, Jordan, saying "Yummy! Smoothie!" in this video.  Or at least a 2-year old's version of those words. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What to Do AFTER Your Internship to Ensure Success for Years to Come

We have focused on what to do during an internship.  What about after you have completed your term?  

There are certain steps you should take to remain a "former intern in good standing" and stay connected with your colleagues. 

Brazen Careerist outlines "7 Things Smart to Do After Your Internship Ends."  All of it is great advice.  First and foremost author Ashley Mosley reminds us the importance of the thank you note.

"As your internship comes to end — or even if you’re already gone — it’s your duty to personally thank everyone you worked with during that period. Recognition is important, even if you didn’t thoroughly enjoy the working experience.

Verbal thank yous aren’t enough, either. Go with the handwritten thank you note. For each person you write, provide specifics about what you appreciated. Maybe they showed you the ropes on a new project or made your lunch break more bearable by sharing a table with you. Whatever it is, avoid a canned response."

Smart words from Mosley.  Thank you notes are HUGE.  Not only do they express your gratitude for the experience but they also serve as a reminder of who you are to the people you worked with while you were interning.

Again: Those thank you notes are important in more ways than one. 

I also like Mosley's suggestions about keeping in touch and being honest about your experience.

Don't follow up with a former intern supervisor when you need a referral.  Drop an email or tweet every so often just to say hello.  

Internship of the Week
ESPN is looking for a Statistics and Information Intern for Fall 2014.  Note that ESPN is posting this position in the Spring.  You should remember this: start looking for an internship a season or two in advance of the actual time frame in which you hope to do the internship. 

Professional Thank You Cards
Here is small collection of Thank You cards.  Any of these are perfect to serve as your professional thank you notes. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is Eating a Low-Fat Diet Making You Fat?

When it comes to dieting to lose weight, I believe you ultimately have to experiment to find what's right for you.  Not every diet works for every person. 
Remember these?
Trust me, when I was 50 pounds heavier, I tried the then-popular Atkins diet only feel lethargic, constipated (sorry) and just blech.  Following a fake-food, low-fat diet full of sugar made me hungrier for more crappy low-fat food.
Staples of the Mediterranean Diet
What Helped Me Drop 50 Pounds
Ultimately, no magic diet works for me.  I do enjoy the Mediterranean approach to eating but I try to eat real food, most of the time.  I focus on fruits, vegetables and avoid saturated fats.  I love fish, dark chocolate and wine.  I have a sweet tooth that I am always battling and I enjoy indulging in what I love.  I had my once-a-year basket of Snuffer's Cheese Fries  Sunday after the TX/OU game and loved every calorie of the fat-bomb without an ounce of guilt. 

There.  That's it.  

Snuffer's Cheese Fries

If I want to drop weight quickly or balance out an indulgent weekend, I might juice for a few days or live on watermelon and vegetables.  That is NOT a good way to sustain weight loss but it's a quick fix which I sometimes, yet rarely, incorporate into my regime.  

Does Low-Fat Make You Fat? 
There's an interesting article in Britain's Daily Mail that bucks the theory that all calories are created equal
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is Buying a Car Really Like Getting a Root Canal?

I recently read a story equating the car buying process to getting a root canal.  The only difference is that car salesman don’t give you laughing gas or novocaine to numb the pain.  They seem to inflict more of it.

As it relates to me, I am a car flipper.   I have never kept a car more than a few years.   I would buy a vehicle, get bored with it after two years and want to trade it in for a new one.  While I was never “upside down” in my car, I don’t think I made smart purchase decisions.

Friends consistently asked why I didn’t lease a car.  Frankly, I never thought leasing was an option.  I am someone who puts 15,000-plus miles on my car per year traipsing from Frisco to Arlington to Downtown Dallas to Fort Worth and beyond covering sports in DFW.  I thought I would get tripped up in the mileage game.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How To Turn An Internship Into A Full-Time Job

Derek Harper, me, Cody Winstead
For some a successful internship means parlaying the experience into a full-time job. One of the best producers I have ever worked with was Cody Winstead who did exactly that.  He was a CBS11 sports intern, became a full-time (and outstanding) sports producer for CBS11 & TXA21 and is now a sports producer with Silver Chalice productions in Chicago.

How Did Cody Do It?
It sounds simple: he was smart, creative, proactive, eager to learn, kept his ego in check and was always willing to do whatever it took not just to get the job done but to kick ass while doing it.  These are all essential elements for success in not just sports media but any industry.

Unfortunately, too many interns seem to drop the ball when it comes to mastering these simple steps that seem like common sense.

Let's dive a bit further. In a guest post for, Ashley Mosley, the Community Engagement Manager for InternMatch, outlines specific things interns can do to turn their experience into a full-time job.

Here's an excerpt:
  • Become irreplaceable: How do you add value to the company? It’s your duty to go above and beyond to ensure your coworkers and manager can’t imagine how things would run without you around. While you may still be at the bottom rung as an intern, there’s still a lot you can do to find your niche within the company and seize opportunities to move up.
  • Network: Kickstart your networking efforts by making a point to attend all company events. Introduce yourself to coworkers at lunch, or invite some full-time employees to coffee for an informational interview during which you can learn about their professional experiences and goals.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity: Standing out at your internship often means becoming a “yes” man or woman. If there’s a seminar or training opportunity available to you, adjust your schedule to make sure you’re in attendance.
Great advice for any industry. These principles work. Trust me.

Want More Internship Scoop?

For more internship advice, check out the internship section of my blog for advice on what to do, what not to do, what to wear and more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Cut Calories, Fat and Sugar with 10 Simple Recipe Swaps

You probably know that applesauce is the perfect swap for cooking oil.   But how do you eliminate cooking oil when you're sauteing yet still retain a recipe's flavor?  Easily. 

There are certain tips and tricks that can help cut calories and fat while cooking.  Many of these are well-known while others might be new to you.

The applesauce swap is one of my favorites.  I use it in place of oil in a brownie recipe.  The double bonus is that it makes your freshly baked goods moister than if you used oil.

The cheat is simple for sweet recipes:
  • When a recipe calls for fat in the form of butter, margarine or oil, use applesauce in a one-to-one ratio.  Yep.  Simple as that.  
  • You could also cut the amount of fat in half and use applesauce for the other half.
Here are some other great swaps from The Program by Kelly Traver and Betty Kelly Sargent.  That book doesn't seem to be in print in any more but you can get their updated book, The Healthiest You: Take Charge of Your Brain to Take Charge of Your Life.