Carnival Dinner

Submitted by Christi

Since we are taking a timeout for the Superbowl, I thought I’d take a look back at a Carnival table from the past. Even if you aren’t in New Orleans, you can create Carnival wherever you are!

Let the Carnival begin!

Let the Carnival begin!

The beads, the masks . . .

The beads, the masks . . .

all the Carnival colors.

all the Carnival colors.

Add a little candlelight.

Add a little candlelight.

Oh my, there is snow in the background :(

The fun and frivolity

Ready for the fun.

Ready for the fun.

Who is that behind the mask?

Who is that behind the mask?

Baubles and beads.

Baubles and beads.

And, the Mardi Gras tree.

And, the Mardi Gras tree.

More decorations to come! Thanks Susan for hosting:

Tablescape Thursday with Between Naps on the Porch

with Between Naps on the Porch

Today’s Lagniappe: Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice
Something warm and yummy to start the celebration.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage (or regular smoked sausage), cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups dried red beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 quart water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot cooked rice (about 3 to 4 cups)

In a slow cooker, combine the onion, garlic and sausage. Stir in the beans and water and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat until the beans are tender, about 7 1/2 hours (on high it takes between 3 1/2 to 4 hours). Remove 1/4 cup of beans from slow cooker. Mash until smooth, then sir them stir back into slow cooker. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes on low or 15 minutes on high. Remove the beans from the cooker to a serving bowl. Serve over cooked rice and enjoy!

Walk in the Hood

Submitted by Christi

The weather has been gorgeous lately. The first weekend of Carnival parades was beautiful and now we are getting a brief break before the big Superbowl weekend before resuming with Carnival. Stay tuned for more posts about that. In the meantime, it was nice to just get out in the beautiful weather and enjoy. Here are a few things that visitors to New Orleans might see if they get out of the Superbowl “zone” and on to a streetcar and come up to the wonderful neighborhoods  here.

Beautiful blooming tulip magnolia trees . . .


that roll out, or rather drop a lovely pink carpet, just for you.

And . . . that is just the beginning.

Click for larger images and captions.

Welcome to New Orleans!

Outdoor Wedenesday

Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer

Deck the Halls with Carnival Color

Submitted by Cindy

Carnival parades start in earnest this weekend, so I figured it was about time to decorate the house.  Purple, green and gold (especially purple) tends to clash with my décor, so the challenge is to achieve a festive look that you can live with for a couple of weeks.

Here is the dining room centerpiece, using ceramic masks that were favors at a formal dinner we attended, and beads in a cut glass bowl.  The gold “dubloons” are parade throws that typically reflect the year’s theme.  These are from Rex.


I did the pillow years ago to display pins given as “krewe favors” by maskers after a “callout” dance at a carnival ball.  Now, every king sends his lady friends a custom designed pin to mark his reign, and I have a whole drawer full of memories of various big nights.

Read more…

Dancin’ to the Mardi Gras

Submitted by Cindy

Music is the essence of Mardi Gras – you can’t have a parade, a carnival ball, or even a party without it.  Our carnival music reflects our joie de vivre spirit, our desire to let the good times roll.  The classic hits range from funk to R&B to brass band, but they have one thing in common – they make you want to dance.  To get you in the mood, I’m going to let you listen to some of them.

Perhaps the epitome of Mardi Gras songs is Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras”.  Can you hear the parade coming down the street?

Next, try Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time”.  His one hit was big enough to propel him into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Here’s “Mardi Gras Mambo”, by the Hawkettes.  This little known group would evolve into the Meters, the standard bearer for New Orleans music.  The lyrics are great.

Finally, there is “Second Line” by Stop, Inc.  If you’re actually part of a parade, you’re the first line; if you’re just dancing behind it, you’re in the second line.

There are many other classics, such as the Meters “Hey Pocky A-Way”, “Iko Iko”  (originally by Sugar Boy Crawford but popularized by the Dixie Cups), and, “Big Chief, Pt. 2“, also by Professor Longhair.

Are you dancing?

Masquerade Ball

Submitted by Christi

Carnival Season in New Orleans is a wonderful time. Then entire season assaults your senses with colors and sound. One of the most sensational events, for me, is the Nyx Myx Masquarade Ball. It is invitation only and formal tux and floor length gowns and masks are required.

I have lots and lots of pictures to share, but in this post, I’m going to concentrate on the tables and atmosphere of the room.

The colors, the lights (notice the stars on the ceiling and the colored uplights on the walls) everything sparkled and glittered, including the people.

This ball was held at the Hilton Riverside in their grand ballroom and, grand it was. Read more…

Report from the Rex Den

Submitted by Cindy

The central command post for the Rex parade is housed in a nondescript industrial building.  For most of the year it just serves as a workshop for float construction, but really comes alive with activity as Mardi Gras day approaches.  I recently attended “Ladies Day at the Den”, and wanted to share some photos with you.

The theme for this year is “All Creatures Great and Small”, a line taken from an 1848 poem by Cecil Alexander.   I can’t show you the floats for this year, but they always beautifully and artistically develop the chosen theme.  Since they are built on the chassis of old cotton wagons, they shimmy down the street, adding to the magic of the presentation.  Tractors now replace the mules that originally pulled the floats.

Read more…

Costume de Rigueur

Submitted by Cindy

Invitations to old line Carnival balls invariably contain the phrase “costume de rigueur”.   You may know the attire for men under such terms as “full dress”, “white tie”, or “tails”.  For ladies it means a floor length evening gown – no tea length or dressy pants permitted.

Ladies have it easy, but the process of getting dressed for men can be a bit daunting.  I’m going to walk you through it.  Here is the end result that you are after.  (The mask is normally not a part of the attire, but my model is shy.)


Read more…

Mardi Gras Centerpiece

Submitted by Christi


Some people have asked about the centerpieces that I used at the recent Epiphany brunch.

mardi gras centerpiece


These were very easy to put together and you can use the same idea with materials that you have available for whatever holiday you are celebrating.

Here is what I used:

Centerpiece materials

Greenery from my yard (you can use whatever is available in your area), a pile of Mardi Gras beads, a large glass hurricane (I have a set of 6 of these that I’ve had for years and use all the time), a brass charger, a vase that is more narrow than the hurricane and some leftover ornaments that are in Mardi Gras colors. Read more…

Mardi Gras Pink!

Submitted by Christi


As we get closer to Mardi Gras, Krewes are busy attending their Mardi Gras balls, gathering throws and making plans for their parades and parties. I am a member of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx. We parade at night on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras. We recently had a membership meeting/party to hear the latest about our parade.

We were invited to wear our favorite Mardi Gras costumes and we found got to see our Krewe costume for 2013 and also found out our parade theme. This theme is kept secret until we roll. What I can tell you is that it is a great theme and it will be a fabulous and fun parade!

Float Leiutenant

When we arrived at the meeting, it was a challenge to find other members who were riding on the same float. Our float lieutenant, Kim, said, “I’m the one in the pink wig.”

ping wigs

Hmmmm, looks like she was everywhere! LOL!

We had delicious king cake and lots of fun and I can’t wait for the parade! Here are some more pics from the party. In the next week, I’ll show you some pictures from our fabulous Nyx Myx Masquerade Ball.

Pink Saturday

Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound


No Bake King Cake

Submitted by Cindy

Have you ever wanted to make a Mardi Gras king cake but were turned off by the complicated yeast bread recipes?  Here’s a quickie recipe with beautiful results – and no cooking necessary.

I attended a presentation today given by Cindy Pagragan of Cindy’s Sweet Sensations.  She showed us slides of her exquisite novelty and wedding cakes – have you ever seen one in the shape of a castle?  She taught us some fascinating things about cake icings, such as the trade-offs of transfat vs. smoothness and stability.  But what I really want to share with you is her creative king cake recipe.  This is the secret ingredient:

Read more…

Mardi Gras Tablescapes (and Valentine’s Too)

Submitted by Cindy

New Orleans is in for a busy holiday period, with Valentine’s Day coming just two days after Mardi Gras.  My friend Sherry, a talented designer, gave an inspiring presentation today on festive table ideas.

Sherry had great advice for us novice decorators.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Shop from your closets and attics first, and think of new uses for your old objects.  Discount stores such as Target and Tuesday morning – or even drugstores – can be inexpensive sources of novel accessories.  Let’s look at some of her tablescapes to get the creative juices flowing.

Mardi Gras décor does not have to be gaudy – astromania and lilacs combine to provide a pleasing purple theme for this table.

The same principal is seen here, where pastels carry out the purple, green and gold theme.  Note the crown, one of our favorite carnival symbols. Read more…

Winter Gardens

Submitted by Christi

In late December, my husband and I took a walk around a garden district neighborhood in New Orleans. We took pictures of a lot of the Christmas decorations, but I also enjoyed seeing all of the things that were in bloom here in New Orleans. The things that bloom change from month to month and I’ll have another post showing you what is in bloom soon. Here is what we saw that beautiful winter day: Read more…

Comfort Food Cook-a-Thon

Submitted by Cindy

I’ve been craving simple, home cooked food lately.  I’m still paying for the eating excesses of the Christmas holidays, and the less than nutritious fare of parade parties is just around the corner.  I devoted a dreary Sunday afternoon to restocking my freezer.

I’m sure the gourmands are rolling their eyes right now.  I’d love to cook an exquisite meal every night, but who realistically has the time?  Plus, most of my comfort foods are of the slow simmering variety – not the type of project you want to tackle after a long day unless your gang likes to eat at midnight. Read more…

Mardi Gras Gumbo

Submitted by Christi

It’s been pretty rainy around here for the past week. The perfect time for gumbo. Okay, really any time is the perfect time, but today, it chased away the gloominess from the sky and helped restore the Mardi Gras mood.

Okay, so I took a few shortcuts on the gumbo. Don’t judge me for being smart enough to not try making this for guests on a weeknight when I’ve been working all day without cutting some corners. 🙂

So, here is my “hurry up version.” Read more…

Epiphany Brunch

Submitted by Christi

Last Sunday, January 6th, we had an Epiphany brunch here with people from our church and friends. Church members provided food and it was great fun. My contribution was a king cake and a sausage and hash brown egg casserole (see the recipe in today’s lagniappe).

Here is the table:

The King Cake sets the mood for the celebration.

The tradition of the king cake is that it is shaped as a crown (to represent the crowns on the wise men who visited the baby, Jesus). A small plastic baby is inside one of the pieces of cake. If you get the piece with the baby, you are supposed to bring a king cake to the next gathering. Read more…