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:

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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…

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…

Mardi Gras Time!

Submitted by Christi

It’s official – the Mardi Gras or Carnival season has begun here in New Orleans. As Cindy said in the earlier post, the Mardi Gras season officially kicks off with Twelfth Night or the Epiphany. All of the Christmas decorations are now put away and it is time to start the celebrations leading up to Mardi Gras.

At our house, we started with decorating and then having and Epiphany brunch with our church and our friends. Let’s take a look at the decorations.

Here is the front porch all decked out and ready to become the seasonal header for A Southern Life.

Read more…

Mardi Gras is on the Way

Submitted by Cindy

January 6 to most people is Epiphany, but in New Orleans it is Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Carnival season.  We are going to be talking a lot about Mardi Gras in the next couple of weeks, so I wanted to give you some background.

Although they are often used interchangeably, Carnival is a season culminating on Mardi Gras day.  The dates are determined by the church calendar – Mardi Gras is always the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  (Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Easter excluding Sundays.)  Since the date of Easter varies according to moon phases, the possible dates for Mardi Gras also vary, from as early as February 3 to as late as March 9.  It falls on the early side this year, February 12.

“Mardi gras” is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the last day of eating rich foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.  In New Orleans we take this concept to the exponential, having a blow out period of celebration before retreating to a more subdued pace.  The most public aspect of the Carnival season is the parades, which generally start two weekends before Mardi Gras.  (We are hosting the Superbowl this year, which falls on a parade weekend, so the schedule is a little different.)  But a lot is going on in the background, with many organizations hosting carnival balls and other events.  We’ll give you a peek into some of these.

Enough background – let the party begin!  Read more…

It’s Mardi Gras Time!

Submitted by Christi

Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras, 2011! Thought I would go back and visit some Mardi Gras party tables (along with a few party pics) from the past. Enjoy!


with Between Naps on the Porch

with Between Naps on the Porch

The main table was spread with a gold toned spread and the centerpiece is a glass hurricane that is filled with green and gold ornaments and then draped with Mardi Gras beads. As you can see, pretty much everything was draped with beads!

The main table

The main table

Please excuse the hand with the drink in the pic below 🙂 Just wanted to show you the purple, green and gold napkins. The traditional Mardi Gras colors. There is also a tray of glasses just waiting to be filled with a delicious drink.

More of the main table.

More of the main table.

Lots of great food on the table.

Good food and good fun.

Good food and good fun.

There was another table in another area with a punch bowl full of mint julep punch. YUMMY!

The Mint Julep Punch

The Mint Julep Punch

In the kitchen, we draped the kitchen bar with another gold cloth and created a little platform for the King Cake. You can see the pretty blue pitcher on the end is even draped with beads. Oh, and yes, that is a gaudy, lit up coconut tree in the background. There was another one on the front porch so everyone would know where the party was.

Kitchen Bar

Kitchen Bar

Serving the King Cake.

King Cake

King Cake

There was also another drink table set up on the kitchen island. Didn’t get a picture of that. On the stove we had a pot of gumbo and a pot of jambalaya.

There were beads for everyone!

Lots of beads.

Lots of beads.

Add some blues/jazz/zydeco music and some fun people and it made for a really good time for all.

Today’s Lagniappe: Crawfish Pie
Yes, you have to have a little Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie and File Gumbo!

3/4 medium chopped bell pepper
1 large onion chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
3/4 cup butter
6 tbsp crawfish fat (optional)
1 1/2 pound crawfish tails
1/2 cup each minced parsley and green onions
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
cornstarch to thicken
Dough for double crust (pie crust)

In a medium saucepan, saute bell pepper, onion and celery in butter until tender; add crawfish fat and simmer 10 minutes. Add crawfish tails, green onions, parsley and seasonings. Thicken if necessary, with a little cornstarch; let it cook long enough to thicken gravy.

Place half of the pie crust dough in a nine-inch pie pan. Fill with cooled filling. Place top crust on pie, moisten edges and seal edges. Cut two or three one-inch-long slits in the top crust.
Individual tart/pies can be made and baked using muffins in pan with large cups. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees; lower oven to 375 degrees and cook for 35 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown.

Easy Southern Gumbo

Submitted by Christi

One week to Mardi Gras! Can’t wait. We love gumbo around here, however on a weeknight, it is a bit much to get it all together. So, we take a shortcut!

Luzianne GumboWith a little help this gumbo in a box from Luzianne this can be a really tasty dinner! We start with some andouille sausage then follow the directions from there with a few minor changes.

When adding the mix, we omit the cayenne but add additional garlic powder, some Cajun seasoning (like Emeril’s Essense or Slap Yo Mama), and some hot sauce (I add Chrystals and then my husband adds additional Tabasco when just before he eats). We also cook it longer than it calls for by about 10 minutes so it gets a little thicker. About 5 minutes until it is done, we add Gulf Shrimp.

You can add other seafood like crab meat and crawfish at this point. Up here in our neck or the woods it is hard to find these kinds of products that are not from Asia. We occasionally special order these products but remember, don’t be bamboozled!

Anyway, we have tried different mixes and this tastes the closest to the way I make it homemade and it is quick and easy. Gotta love that!

Did you know that Luzianne also makes Blue Plate Mayonnaise?

blue plate mayonnaise

My friend Christy Keirn over at Miles to Go is from Mississippi and she swears Blue Plate Mayonnaise is her secret to making the best pimiento cheese. Check out her blog for her recipe.

Get in the Mardi Gras mood and make some of gumbo this week. With this easy shortcut, there is no excuse not to 😉

Laissez les bon temps rouler

Today’s Lagniappe:  Salade De Tomatoes Avec Sauce Re
If you’re going to get some Blue Plate mayonnaise, you may as well have another recipe to use it in. This is from the Luzianne website.

Makes approximately 1 ¼ cups

1 cup Blue Plate Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons minced scallions
½ tablespoon dried tarragon leaves

In a small bowl stir all ingredients until smooth. Keep refrigerated. Serve over sliced tomato arranged on a bed of lettuce leaves.


Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday