The DUALing Cavalier

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new year…….and I’m feelin’…….reflective. I was going to write a post called My kNIGHT In Shining Armor which would have related first to New Year’s Eve and getting dressed up into something sparkly/shiny to party the night away. Which is what I usually do on NYE (party the night away). Explaining how this glittery ensemble that I speak of is like my coat of armor to wear as I say goodbye to the past year and head into the new with an energy similar to that of a kid on the first day of school, or better yet feeling alive and excited like an adult heading out on his/her summer vacation. However, that is not quite how this NYE went. It was very low key, low energy and I was a bit under the weather. Heading into the new year without a big bang left me feeling a bit underwhelmed about 2017 and unfocused on new goals and ventures. So on this last day of the first month of the new year I’m still feeling rather pensive.

With a number of changes in the air and in my life, I feel a bit uneasy and off-kilter. As I sit down and really think about this transitional time I realize that all of these big events and shifts are good things. Milestones that will project me into the next phase of my life. The real adult phase, if you will. Wink. The phase where decisions are bigger and have more meaning to me and the people around me. It’s a pivotal time where I feel I’m molding myself and creating the life I want to live now and in the future. Which brings me to the second comparison of my previously imagined post, My Knight.

People come in and out of your life for many different reasons; to encourage, to teach life lessons, to push you outside of your comfort zone, to love you, etc. My beau currently does all of these and then some. He is my “knight in shining armor,” my protector. It’s funny that when I first met him I didn’t think he’d have such a huge impact on my life. But, because he and I are polar opposites I am learning a ton. Not just about him and relationships, but also about myself. Mostly about myself. There are some hurdles and growing pains and I’ve definitely danced outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve also come to appreciate things and people that I probably would have never crossed paths with. Opening yourself to new ideas, people and places can be scary. Feeling the changes and growth within yourself and then looking back at who you were can be eye opening. Dueling not only with yourself, but with the idea of where you thought your life would be compared to the reality of it all can sometimes be an uphill struggle. But if you throw on your suit of armor, whatever that may be, take a deep breath and soldier on past the little battles that pop up within, you’ll find a whole new beautiful world waiting on the other side.

Inspired by and dedicated to the beautiful and talented Debbie Reynolds. 

Dress: BCBGMAXAZRIA

Boots: Forever 21

Bag: BAM FOREVER

Lips: MAC Ruby Woo

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

The LAYERs Behind the Smile

Hey hobo man, hey Dapper Dan…………

Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it”, or “smile and the world smiles back?” For some reason these two lead me to this one: “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” These little mantras have played in my head from time to time, however, that last one can be a difficult pill to swallow when that man is the one who’s caused you pain.

Being a nurturer by nature, a gift passed down from generation to generation, I always seem to befriend the wounded lambs that need a little extra TLC. It’s happened time and time again. I meet someone who come to find out is at their lowest, we become friends, I put all my positive energy into them in hopes that this will help them see their self worth. In time, whether it’s my love and nurture or not, there comes a moment where they become stronger and fly away out of my life. In reflection, this is what I wanted all along, for that person to believe in themselves, however, it can leave you there feeling a bit empty and alone (if I’m honest). In other scenarios those wounded lambs can fall back into their old patterns of self-destruction and completely betray you in the process.

If the separation was because of the latter, the pain and bitterness can be all consuming. The anger can put you in a place of darkness that no one wants to be in. Having been through the process of loss before I know that there is brightness on the other side. Some days it’s the only thing that can get you through. Eventually, with the help of friends, family and your own self-talk, you have to give yourself a swift kick in the arse and get back to the land of the living. You have to be strong enough to rise above the pain, put a smile back on your face and keep moving forward one foot in front of the next.

I’ve always been fascinated with how people present themselves to the world. What is their decision process behind the outfits they choose for a special occasion, a job interview, night on the town or just everyday living? Does it make them appear to have self-respect, self-worth? Do they even care? There are many layers to this onion, some having nothing to do with style or fashion. You never know what a person is going through on the inside. Are they having a bad day, a bad week, or, in some people’s cases who can’t seem to rise above, a bad life?

Someone recently posted these words on Facebook: Leave a person happier than you found them. Some days this is easier to practice then others, but remember the following: keep your heart open to the weak and the strong, know your self worth and don’t let it waver for anyone and in the words of that famous freckled redhead, “You’re never full dressed without a SMILE!”

Jacket: Forever 21

Dress: Target

Handbag: Alexander Wang

Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell/Free People

Necklace: t+j designs

Rings: Noir and Forever 21

Hair by Fay Bayard of Revive The Lakeview Hair Salon

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

The Great Girlfriend CAPErs

Do you ever feel like you have super powers; that you wear an invisible cape and could conquer the world? This is exactly how I feel when I’m with my gals, my ride-or-die chicks, and in my case, some special guys fall into this category as well. We always seem to have a blast wherever we go, whenever we get together. From dinner parties to birthday celebrations, spring break beach days to impromptu midnight dance parties, fundraisers and galas and most importantly from tough love to unending support; these people have my back no matter what.

Since it is the season of the cape it’s easy to choose one for any occasion with my pals. Play around with this trend, swap with friends and have fun with it. Wearing a cape does make you feel as though you could “save the day” or at least feel like a badass trying. But most importantly get out there and spend time with those people who bring out your best. Girlfriends (and guy friends) are a gift to be enjoyed over and over again.

I dedicate this post to all you ride-or-die chicks out there and especially to a beautiful soul and one of my mom’s ride-or-die gals who was taken from us way too soon. 

Cape: WAYF

Shirt: Living Doll

Denim: Mossimo

Shoes: Schutz

Ear Cuff: Ishayra

Bracelet: Baublebar

Rings: Isharya and Vintage 

Clutch: Mokamoda

Hair by Fay Bayard of Revive The Lakeview Hair Salon

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

Dating My Way to INDEPENDENCE

I recently had dinner with a good friend visiting from NYC. We, of course, caught up on all of the latest gossip, but then she moved on to a more somber topic: her recent break-up. They had been together for a while, lived together. I had never seen her so happy. Things were great, until…they weren’t. So I asked how she was coping with the aftermath. She said, “Well, I’ve decided to date myself.” Hmmm, I thought and asked,  “Date yourself? How do you do that?” She said, “I take myself on vacations, explore new cities or just put on my party dress and take myself out to dinner.” Well, that sounds easy enough to me.

This reminded me of my mother’s friend who ended up marrying herself. Growing up I always thought she was such a cool lady. After her divorce she would take herself on exotic vacations across the world, cool, had exquisite taste and was oh so stylish, cool, and then to marry herself, uber cool. To me it seemed like such a strong statement. I am an independent woman hear me roar; I can do life on my own; I am the most important person to make happy.

Well, at the time of that reunion dinner I wasn’t quite there yet. I was somewhere between I am woman hear me roar and actively searching for someone to share my life with. In fact, I had recently joined an online dating site. I know, yikes. Friends who had success with the site had been telling me to do it for years. I could never bring myself to do it until one day I thought, “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Why not try something new?” So I put myself out there, met some interesting people, was stood up a couple of times (come on guys, where are your manners?) and actually gained a little confidence to move forward with this game we call dating. For me, though, the most fun was styling myself for the dates. Choosing my #oftd (outfit for the date) was a blast. Whether it was lunch by the water, hanging in the French Quarter or a day in the park I wanted to choose things that were fun and flirty but still comfortable and not over the top. Outfits that made me feel good about me and who I am.

In the end, I did not have success with the online dating thing. I did not find “the one”. And then I realized, “the one” was here all along staring back at me in the mirror. We all have the power within to make ourselves happy, to go after what we want on our own and create a life that is fulfilling. It’s funny how things work out though and how one event leads to the next. That once you open yourself up the thing or “person” you’ve been looking for comes into your life. ; D Here’s to a fabulous 2016! Happy New Year.

Top: Topshop

Skirt: Bar III

Shoes: Steve Madden

Earrings: Isharya

Rings: Isharya & JewelMint

Bracelet: Baublebar

Clutch: Vintage

Hair by Fay Bayard of Revive The Lakeview Hair Salon

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

Back to BLACK

Do you ever feel disconnected, frozen in place, off balance? Well, I definitely do. Whenever this happens, as strange as it may sound, I always go back to the thing that makes me feel the most comfortable. It’s a chance to regroup and re-evaluate in a protected environment. I know, you may not get this, but for me it’s what works. Oddly enough, one of these comforting things is to wear black. In a way it’s like putting on my armor, maybe shutting certain people/circumstances out and gearing up to attack the day with a new outlook.

There have been a few significant occasions in my life where this definitely reads true. Leaving college to move home only to regroup and move to NYC. Leaving a job in NYC only to go back to work for a former employer where it did feel like I was working with family every day and to find great success there. We’re all individuals trying to find our way. Everyone goes through his/her own struggles. If you’re looking at someone else’s life thinking how easy they have it…if only you could have that, then you could be doing great things too. Just think and realize that everyone has some obstacle that they’re trying to overcome. While life is an amazing gift that we should all relish in, it doesn’t discount that some days are tougher than others. But in the end, “it’s all good.”

I’m trying to figure out my place in the world just like everyone else. We all have it within ourselves to steer our lives in the direction we want. Take on new challenges, push yourself to higher heights. And when you fall down get back up, take a step back to “your basics” (back to your BLACK) to re-evaluate and make a new game plan. And then, move forward with a new strength and confidence. But most of all BELIEVE in YOURSELF, give yourself credit for getting this far and keep moving forward. It always works for me!

Hat: BP.

Jacket: Forever 21

Tank: BCBG Max Azria

Skirt: Forever 21

Boots: Forever 21

Rings: Ishayra & Noir

Bracelet: Ishayra

Hair by Fay Bayard of Revive The Lakeview Hair Salon

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

The Wrong or WHITE Way

Do you play by the rules, or break them every chance you get? Do you dance to the beat of your own drum, or stand at the back of the line hoping the next song will move you? Do you care what others think, or race forward carefree and independent?  Do you wear white after Labor Day?

Wait, what?

Oh yes, the infamous “should I wear white after Labor Day” question. This one stumps me lately. After living in NYC for so many years I have to say this question never crossed my mind. Why? Because I pretty much only wore black. On occasion some denim was added to the mix, but otherwise, black, black and more, black. Now, here in the south, that’s a different story.

As I began to do the whole closet seasonal switch over I ran across a few items that in my old life back in NYC would’ve definitely been the first pieces in the summer storage box. Who am I kidding? I would’ve never had these pieces in NYC. But, as we head into the final days of September and the thermometer outside reads 94°, I feel that I can still squeeze in one more wear.  Adding colorful accessories and a current fall/winter trend (suede & fringe) you can move your summer style flawlessly into the next season.

So whether you agree with me or not, if it’s something you feel good in, wear it!! Break the rules and accept where you are on your journey in life. Sometimes we get off track, sometimes we break the rules and sometimes we dance to our own beat. And the funny thing is, most people (except the fashion popos) don’t really notice. We make more out of it than we need to. Wear it with confidence and accept that for you this is the WHITE way!!

Dress: ASOS

Shoes: Steve Madden

Clutch: Maslinda Designs

Ring: Isharya

Bracelets: Baublebar

Earrings: Ethereal Boutique (LIC, NY)

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

The OCCASIONal Yin & Yang

Another weekend, another couple of days chock full of fun. That’s the life I’ve become accustomed to in NOLA. I’m fortunate to have been born into a social family (we have parties to plan our parties) and a city that loves to have a good time.  Every weekend is packed with another exciting event or four. Whether escaping with cousins on a boat, jetting off to a condo on the beach, pool parties, grabbing drinks in the Quarter or, my fave, the fancy dress up occasions, we definitely try and fit all the fun into 2.5 days.

For me, my NYC experience was quite the opposite. Dare I say the Yin to my now NOLA Yang! My family in NYC was my friends/co-workers at Broadway Dance Center. We worked hard during the day and then would play most every weeknight. From work related dance events, happy hour at the neighborhood bar, supporting our friends’ artistic endeavors, girl’s night on the Highline or nachos and margaritas at Blockheads. Let’s be honest that last one happened at least twice a week! But once the weekend would hit everyone would scatter to his/her respected borough for some downtime not to be heard from again until Monday morning.

So after moving back to NOLA I was a little shell shocked to realize that most people, well, most of the people in my inner circle, do not go out during the week but instead load up their weekends with activities. This took a while to get used to (many nights skyping with NYC friends or hanging out in Barnes & Noble ‘til midnight just to feel like I “went out”) but now almost 3 years later I’ve fallen into the Nola groove. I now love my weekend adventures. Love getting dressed up, meeting new people and most importantly wearing heels whether it’s a “taxi” night or not. Ha. So, cheers to your weekends and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Skirt: Gianni Bini

Shirt: Thalia Sodi

Shoes: ASOS

Earrings: Vintage

Ring: Isharya

Bracelet: Banana Republic

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

SHORTSummer

I’ve always been lucky to work in an environment that’s more on the casual side, give or take a few years. As an employee of a dance studio I have freedom with what I choose to wear. Never corporate, which makes this girl a happy camper. As someone who loves to get dolled up, it’s rather awkward to show up and be the only one in heels and a dress as everyone else is in sweats and dancewear.

Life was pretty much the same working in NYC at Broadway Dance Center. In the beginning of my time there I felt strange wearing “real people clothes” as dancers call it. But as the years progressed and so did the popularity of the industry due to reality television, I knew I had to step up my game. Basically speaking, I kept my heel collection lined up on the floor next to my desk. You never knew when you’d have to do a meet and greet with someone important from the industry, a random interview or when the reality tv cameras would come storming in, but that’s a story for another day. When these occasions arose I would simply pull a Mister Rogers and presto chango, professionalism at its best.

Not much has changed in the South, except for having to keep all of my shoes at work. Since I now drive it’s easy to grab the pair I’ll need for my happy hour fun. Which brings me to my point. Even though I don’t have to be super dressy for work it’s fun to play around with different looks. It being the sultry summer here I’ve become obsessed with wearing shorts, which I was mostly “allergic” to in NYC, and the many ways to style them. And, if you know me, you know that I’m a huge fan of a blazer/leather or denim jacket as a staple of my ootd. So I get the best of both worlds. I can now sport the shorts, mix and match the jacket of my choice (the studio where I work is freezing) and dress the look up or down with heels and accessories for work or play, all in the same day.

Shorts: GAP

Blazer: GAP

Tank: LOFT

Booties: Steve Madden

Neclace: Baublebar

Rings: Ishayra, Stella & Dot, JewelMint, Charming Charlie

Bracelets: Banana Republic, Stella & Dot, Charming Charlie

Sunnies: Steve Madden

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperature Photos

HIGH, low. Bye, LOW.

I think it’s pretty apparent to most that with the good you get the bad, there is always calm before the storm and with the highs come the lows. We’ve all been there, on top of the world either waiting for the other shoe to drop or oblivious to the fact that things don’t usually stay the same. The view is always the best from up there, but then it happens. The rug is pulled out from under you and you’re left thinking, hey, how’d I get back down here? Like most I’ve had many highs and lows throughout my life. At the time, the lows can seem pretty devastating, scary and your forever reality. But now looking back at those low times, I’m amazed by some really awesome highs that followed, or as I call them “my epiphany moments.”

One of my first memories of such an event was in college. As a dancer all you really want to do is dance. Well one morning at an early rehearsal my dance days came to a screeching halt. I had fractured my ankle and spent the rest of the semester on crutches. LOW. With all of that time to sit around and think a light bulb went off. “Why am I here at college in Small Town USA, when I could be in NYC possibly getting dance jobs.” So there it was, I went right to my parents and said, “Hey guys, I’m moving to New York.” Well after they picked their jaws up from the floor and felt my forehead for fever the decision was set. HIGH. There have been many other moments in my life similar to this. It’s comforting now to know that things will get better, usually better then you could’ve ever imagined. If you feel alone you’ll be surprised by the outpouring of love from people you may not have even known the day before. I have met some of my best friends in a similar situation. Now it’s crazy to imagine my life without ever having had those experiences or my life without ever having met them.

Now, it’s not as serious as life, but fashion is similar in a lot of ways. Well, at least for those of us on somewhat of a budget. You cannot have those higher priced items without the balance of the more affordable ones. I’m a huge fan of the high/low outfit. I love spending more on that specialty handbag or those “to die for” shoes and then saving a bit on the actual “ensemb”. I’m all for wearing something more basic and accessorizing it for the drama of it all.  Designer bags with thrift store t-shirts, runway shoes with a DIY piece. You see where I’m going with this. So the next time you see that one item that you just have to have but are having difficulty convincing yourself of the splurge just remember that with the HIGHS come the LOWS and then back around again. You only live once, so splurge a bit and save a bit. It all comes out in the wash!!

Shoes: BCBG MAXAZRIA Runway

Outfit: Old Navy

Watch: Michael Kors

Rings: Isharya, Jewelmint

Necklace: Jewelmint

Bracelet: Baublebar

Clutch: Ecoté

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

 

The Red, White & Blueprint of US

Claiming your independence can be a bumpy road filled with numerous pot holes and rest stops. I feel as humans we're always trying to define things. Define a moment, define a relationship, define who we are. Throughout different stages of my life I've struggled to hold onto my independence. In my teens I thought I knew everything, knew who I was and what I wanted. I didn't. In my 20s, especially after moving to NYC, things got a little tricky. It was the first time I stepped back and said, "wait a minute, I thought I knew everything, this is different." I really had to get in there and do some soul searching. "Who am I, what do I want, how do I want to be treated and how am I representing myself to the world." In my 30s, knowing a bit more, I was still eager to define myself. "I'm this person's girlfriend, I have this job, I wear this, so I must be this." In each of these phases I wanted to set in stone who I was, what I wanted and what I stood for. I remember thinking if I can just figure out who I am, then I can be done with that part of my life and move on. Well it doesn't work that way.

Now in my 40s, I realize that, yes, I know way more than I did in my 20s. I'm quicker to know who I am and who I'm not, what I like and don't like, quicker to know how I want to be treated and if I'm not being treated properly to get out of that situation. I see now that we should be looking for our independence within all of our characteristics and not just one specific one. Take all of your traits, hobbies, loves and realize that these are all expressions of who you are. Embrace them all and express your independence through your style, art, writing, crafts, friends, etc.

On this Independence Day I relish in the fact that we live in a country that allows us to freely express who we are, what we believe in and who we love. There are so many attributes that make up the U.S. and make up us. We are all works in progress. Our blueprint is constantly changing and being redefined.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and safe 4th! So blessed to be living in the land of the free because of the brave.

Skirt: Thalia Sodi

Shoes: Zara

Top: Old Navy

Clutch: Vintage Etienne Aigner

Necklace: Stella & Dot

Bracelets: Stella & Dot, Vintage, Banana Republic, Macys

Ring: Vintage

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

Putting the EX in Trends

When we're young we'll pretty much do anything, wear anything and say anything to fit in. Most people want to feel that they're part of a group or special to someone, even if it means not being true to yourself. I hate to admit that even as an adult, I recently fell into this trap. I didn't even realize it was happening at the time because I felt nothing but bliss. I believed that I was in a really great relationship that was going places. Sadly, now I see that we were both trying to "Make it Fit." I've pretty much felt this same way about Trends in regard to myself. 

Many years ago two of my male friends came to me and said, "you're not very trendy, you have a great sense of style, but you don't follow the mold." At first I was offended, but the more I thought about it the more I realized they were right. I've never been one to really follow along with the trends. I seldom find that the trend of the moment can actually enhance "what I got!" And isn't that what it's all about? Being the best you. After having to work with my ex all week and not really being the proudest of my behavior, I realize just as with clothes, you want to be in a relationship that enhances "what you got." You want to be with a person who brings out the best in you, not the worst. 

These are all lessons I thought I had learned years ago. So to be back in this position feeling the ugly aftermath of a break-up threw me for a loop. But when a friend of mine said the following it stuck with me: "you live, you learn, then you live some more and learn some more." It's all a process. We're all put on this earth to learn lessons, keep growing and hopefully bring some love and joy to each other. In the end, just as in relationships, if that hot trend of the now doesn't fit, don't force it!!

Gauchos: Forever 21

Leather Jacket: Ann Taylor

Tank Top: LOFT

Shoes: Free People (Jeffrey Campbell)

Ring: Yves Saint Laurent

Earrings: Isharya

Clutch: Street Level

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

 

InSTYLEspiration

Individual style has always fascinated me. It's an evolving fingerprint, ever growing and changing, yours and yours alone. We get to choose everyday what message we want to send out into the world. The messages can change daily depending on your mood, your energy, an event you're attending, your age, etc. The statement you make with your personal style can be a very powerful one. It has the ability to inspire, excite, ignite passion or even bring a smile to someone's face. 

This past week I had the pleasure of judging for Stage One's National Dance Competition. The energy and passion for creativity that I've experienced is mind blowing. From a particular studio's style to individuals who were living life on stage doing what they love, to my friends and colleagues who sat on the judges panel with me. That inspiration has opened me up to a plethora of opportunities, new friends and creative fulfillment. I found myself having amazing conversations with strangers thinking, "why have I not done this sooner?" Meeting new people is a gift that we should all take advantage of. I look forward to living this way from now on. Just think of the possibilities we could all experience if we're putting our best foot forward with confidence and excitement for what life has to offer. Meet new people, open yourself up to new ideas and adventures, live with compassion for others and kindness in your heart. If we're all inspiring each other what a better world we'd be living in. 

Put on something that makes you feel great about you and get out there and start InSTYLEing the world!!

Top: Forever 21

Jeans: LOFT

Shoes: Adidas Stan Smith Originals

Handbag: Meli Melo

Watch: Michael Kors

Arm Swag: Honeypot Vintage Store (Asheville, NC), Baublebar, Eve Bari (NYC)

Rings: Isharya, American Apparel, JewelMint

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

 

Happy RE-BIRTHday!!

Break-ups, Birthdays and Blogs!! It's been a busy June.

It's interesting how some people come into your life and are just a blip on your radar. A nudge from the universe that says, "Hey, girl!! What's going on here? Wake up. It's time to shake things up and take it to the next level." For me it's never a nice and easy transition. There's always an uncomfortability involved. Change is seldom a welcome friend to most. But the older I get, the quicker I'm able to identify the universe's "kind" greeting.

First came the ever so pleasant (painful) break-up. Ugh. It pushed me to reflect on my past. Past relationships, past behaviors and past patterns that I want to put an end to. While these are all unpleasant things to have to think about and relive in your mind it also brought me to a place of trust. Trust in myself to listen to my gut and get the hell out.

Once you get over the heartbreak of it all you can move on to nurture yourself. A renewed energy came over me. "Hey, remember you're an awesome person, talented, caring and have a lot of love to give. Pull it together and put your energy into something for you!!"

Which brings me to this blog. I've always been a lover of style and fashion. From the time I was young, I remember endless arguments with my mom about what I wanted to wear. My older sister was able to pick out her clothes, but because I was still young my mom insisted that she had to pick my outfits. Well, this infuriated me because I just knew that those cords I wanted to wear were so much cooler than the pleated cotton pants that she layed out. Ha!

Back in NYC, as my professional dance career started to fade away, my passion for all things style was reignited. I attended F.I.T. for Styling and loved every minute. After moving back to NOLA a couple of years ago I never quite felt fulfilled in the creative aspect of my life. I still work at an amazing dance studio (dance has and will always be in my blood) and also style some friends, but I am thrilled that this blog has somehow taken shape over the past week!!

With the realization that we are two weeks into June and I just added another glorious year to my life (Happy Birthday to me), I went out bought myself a party dress and was able to let go of the past, rejoice and focus my energies on the dazzling future!

Dress: BCBGMAXAZRIA

Heels: Schutz

Rings: Isharya, Stella & Dot, Charming Charlie

Photography by Kirsten Waguespack of Aperture Photos

Hope you enjoyed my post! I look forward to sharing styling tips and tricks, my jewelry and shoe obsessions, fab finds, "what to wear", introductions to guest bloggers, art inspiration,  activities and festivals that can't be missed around NOLA and much, much more!!