King Cake Rules!

Submitted by Christi

So like New Orleans. . . in most places, people have put away their Christmas decorations and started their New Year’s diet. In New Orleans, while the Christmas decorations may have been put away, we have put up the Carnival decorations and everyone is eating king cake! So many traditions, so much yummy goodness.


Now that Twelfth Night is past, Carnival is in full swing. So… it is king cake all the time. King cake is traditionally a brioche dough that has a cinnamon filling and is rolled up and shaped into a ring, which represents the crowns of the kings (wise men). Today, the king cake may be filled with anything from cream cheese to fruit and nuts. They are drizzled with frosting and sprinkled with colored sugars. The three colors of sugar are Purple (representing Justice), Green (representing Faith) and Gold (representing Power).

Even before Twelfth Night, we began seeing king cakes for sale in our favorite stores.


The king cake parties begin on January 6th and continue through Mardi Gras. In each king cake, a small plastic baby is hidden. Whoever gets the baby is bound by tradition to furnish the king cake for the next king cake party (or at least supply the next king cake at the office). In times past, the baby may have been made of porcelain, or even gold. In some places, the baby is replaced by a simple bean.

If you can’t run to your local grocery and pick up a king cake, you can always make your own. Here is a recipe in a past post for a no bake king cake – a tasty short cut!


There is also a great king cake mix available here that you can use. When I lived in Arkansas, I got one of these mixes online and made it for my Mardi Gras party, and it was a huge hit.


Happy Carnival everyone . . . hope you get to enjoy some king cake this year! If you would like to purchase the king cake mix, click on the picture above.

Foodie Friday

With Designs by Gollum

Let Carnival Begin!

Submitted by Christi

So this Wednesday is January 6th which is the date of Twelfth Night, also known as Epiphany. In New Orleans, it is the official beginning of Carnival season and we kick it off with a few parades and parties and the consumption of King Cake. Twelfth Night is the end of the Christmas season and it is when, traditionally, the Christmas decorations come down – and the Carnival decorations go up.

Here are some scenes from around New Orleans on Twelfth Nights past . . .

The Phunny Phorty Phellows start their party at the streetcar barn and then take the party on the tracks as they roll down St. Charles Avenue. Thirty years ago, a group revived an old organization that had been active from 1878-98.

by David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune

by David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune

The King Cake is decorated with the traditional colors of the Carnival season. Purple represents justice; green, faith; and gold, power.


The parties begin . . .

The King Cake sets the mood for the celebration.

The King Cake sets the mood for the celebration.

and then their are the balls . . .


Here is one of my favorite centerpieces:


Here is how to make it:

So, it begins . . . here we do – Carnival 2016!

Want to celebrate Carnival where you are? Get some King Cake mix and throw a party. There is a baby hidden in the cake and whoever gets the baby throws the next party and you just keep it going until Mardi Gras which is on February 9th this year.

Wondering where to get your Carnival supplies? Starting Wednesday, January 6th, check back here at I’ll have king cake mix, beignet mix, carnival pins, beads, masks and more here for you to purchase. Can’t wait to open the new estore at A Southern Life!

What’s new where you are? I’m linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch today.


Sugar Bowl 2016

Submitted by Christi

Lots of people visit New Orleans for various reasons. One of those reasons is to watch your favorite team compete in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. This year, we will be welcoming fans of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Ole Miss Rebels.


It looks like the weather will be a bit cool (50’s – 60’s) with the possibility of a little rain. That shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this beautiful city! There are plenty of things to see and do while you are here. There are many events planned for the Sugar Bowl and also events that are not related to the Sugar Bowl. You won’t even have time to notice the weather.

There will be fireworks over the Mississippi River and you can watch the fleur de lis drop over Jax Brewery at the NOLA New Year’s Eve 2015 event. It begins at 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public. It includes live music from: Like Winslow King, Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk and special guest Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.

There are plenty of options for watching the fireworks as well as many other events going on. Check them out at

Also, be sure to check out the French Market and Jackson Square and the obligatory beignet and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde.

There is a great little bookstore on Pirate’s Alley where Faulkner used to live. If you love bookstores, be sure to stop by there.

One of my favorite places on Chartres Street is Lucullus. It is a culinary antique shop. So much fun to browse. I have a great absinthe spoon that I bought there years ago.

This list could go on and on and on. New Orleans is a city that saturates the senses. There is music everywhere you turn. The smell of amazing food is everywhere, albeit, occasionally interrupted by some not so great smells. Have fun, and follow some of these tips:

I recommend that you just avoid Bourbon Street altogether, unless you are going to Galatoire’s.

If you are going to Galatoire’s, jackets for men are highly recommended. This is the case for many of the lovely dining options in New Orleans. There are also many casual options as well. Just be prepared.

If you are drinking (and even if you are not), PACE YOURSELF! New Orleans has brought down many with its carefree attitude towards libations. Really, just pace yourself. ‘Nuf said.

If you are in the French Quarter, you will be approached by panhandlers. I always refer them to the New Orleans Mission or Ozenam Inn. They already know about these places where they can get food and shelter and help, but they would rather have cash instead. It’s your call, but giving them cash is not helping them… just sayin’.

Get out of the Quarter – take the St. Charles Streetcar and see the Garden District and Uptown. Take the Canal Streetcar out to City Park. It is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States. The New Orleans Museum of Art is located there. Check out Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo.

Check out the Pontchartrain Lake. Lakeshore Drive on the lake offers some great dining options with views of the lake.I recommend The Blue Crab.

Uber is a great way to get around the city for places that aren’t easy to reach by foot or streetcar. No need to carry cash. You sign up in advance and everything is handled without money changing hands. You can choose our driver based on reviews by other riders. If you haven’t signed up with Uber, you can use my code –  christiw103ue – to get your first ride free (up to $15), and I’ll get a free ride too!

Hope everyone has a fabulous time! If anyone would like to add other tips, places to see or ask questions. feel free to do so in the comments.

Love ya,





Christmas Around the House

Submitted by Christi

It seems that I never “finish” decorating for any holiday. I am constantly moving things around and adding and taking away. Do you do that? I’ll probably be doing that until it is time to take everything down. Oh well, I am definitely feeling the Christmas season! We have had beautiful weather here.

With the help of CaliCat, we have been busily decorating for Christmas in New Orleans. Welcome to my home . . .


We decorated the tree:



Something pretty on the top:


Wreaths and greenery were added:


A little on the mirror. . .


And, some on the doors to the porch . . .


Then a little decoration on the dining table . . .


The weather has been mild which allows us to spend time on the porch, so of course, that has to be decorated as well . . .





When the evenings are warm, we can enjoy the lights on the porch .  . .


Time to sit back and enjoy the season! Hope you enjoyed the tour. Wish you could join me on my porch.




New Orleans Halloween

Submitted by Christi

New Orleans is a city that embraces the macabre. Not just on Halloween, but all year long. Our cemeteries are tourists attractions. Any day (or night) of the week, you can take a haunted history tour or a ghost tour or a vampire tour. Some of the properties for sale even feature “Haunted” or “Not Haunted” signs along with the other information.

Photo courtesy of Realty Today

Photo courtesy of Realty Today

On any given day, you can find people in costume – people in tutus, vampire costumes and Mardi Gras Indians are common sights.

Mardi Gras Indian


I personally believe there really is spiritual warfare going on, so I’m not really looking to hook up with any “spirits” or the “undead,” whatever that is. That being said, it is certainly fascinating and even mesmerizing to see the decorations that pop up this time of year.

Here is a sampling (click for larger pics):

Here is a spooky boneyard:

Rosemary for Remembrance

Submitted by Christi

Shakespeare said, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.” The saying “rosemary for remembrance” is obviously taken from this quote, but interestingly enough, science shows us that rosemary and memory do have a connection. Several studies show that rosemary actually stimulates memory and may preserve some cognitive function. Who knew?

I love rosemary. One of the things I found fascinating in New Orleans is the number of people who use rosemary as an ornamental shrub. Maybe, they use it to snip for culinary uses as well. I hope so. I have actually been known to snip a bit off some of these shrubs as I’m out for a walk (don’t tell anybody).



My own pot of rosemary is pretty sad. I think it is actually a creeping rosemary rather than the upright plant I thought I was getting.


Well, as luck would have it, rosemary is easy to propagate so I decided to add a little upright rosemary to my already creeping pot.

I snipped a bit of rosemary from an upright shrub, removed the leaves (or needles) from the lower 2/3 and put them in a small vase of water. This is the way I usually try propagating everything at first because it is so easy. It doesn’t work for everything, but actually is pretty reliable on a lot of plants (at least the things I propagate). You can also put the cut stem in a rooting hormone and plant it in potting medium and cover until new growth appears. I may have rooting hormone around here somewhere – I think.

Here is the pot with the creeping rosemary and my newly rooted shoots. Hopefully, they will grow in harmony with the creeping rosemary and fill up the pot. I’ve got some more rooting in my kitchen window to add as well – can never get enough of a good thing.


My Grandmother, Johnnie Lloyd

My Grandmother

I learned to propagate plants this way from my grandmother, who was always snipping cuttings. At one time, she lived on a farm and I think she could grow anything. I will have this rosemary in remembrance of her.

French Quarter Fest

Submitted by Cindy

The French Quarter Festival is the intro to New Orleans’ jam packed spring season, and of course we were there!  In its 30th year, it’s the largest free music festival in the southeast.  We hit the event rather late on its Saturday afternoon.  With rain the day before and more predicted, a whopping 303,000 people were enjoying the beautiful day.  Our strategy was to avoid the crowds by patronizing the smaller bands, and we discovered some gems.

cathedral (640x477)

We love our festivals for the quirkiness, especially the people watching.  But music is the heart of the event, so here’s some samples.  Sorry I can’t give much attribution to the “unofficial” groups who play for the love of music and the occasional tip.

Here’s Doreen’s, a Dixieland band with soul.  The trombone player was a character!

Read more…

How to Boil Crawfish

Submitted by Cindy

Crawfish boils are a rite of spring in New Orleans.  They combine two of our favorite activities – eating good food and visiting with friends.  We recently spent a picture perfect Saturday afternoon in a beautiful setting eating to our heart’s content.  Here’s the star of the show.

closeup (640x366)

We are lucky here to have boiled crawfish readily available.  You can buy a few pounds, still hot from the pot, at a lot of groceries this time of year.  There are specialty caterers who will bring their equipment on site to cook for larger parties.  But it’s a lot more fun to cook them yourself.

crawfish in pot (640x504)

My friend Chris, a master crawfish boiler when he’s not behind his desk at an investment firm, shared his cooking secrets with me.  It’s as much an art as a science, and the results are delicious!

my first serving (640x407)

Read more…

Caring For A Dining Table

Submitted by Christi

I have always enjoyed entertaining. It is a great way to get together with friends and family and show them how much you care with a beautiful table setting and wonderful food. However, occasionally, when you entertain, a dish gets broken or a water ring or heat ring is left on your beautiful wood dining table. Don’t fret. Dishes are created to be used and breakage is just a part of life and . . . you can’t take it with you anyway. 🙂 The table is another matter. With the right supplies, you can fix that table right up.

I did that just recently with my dining table. After a dinner party, I noticed some heat marks and a few water rings. No problem, just got out my supplies and added a little elbow grease and took those marks right out of the wood. Here is how I did it.

Wood Care Supplies

These are the product I used.

I started with the Restore-A Finish product. You apply it with a cloth in the direction of the wood grain. For stubborn heat or water marks, you can use a fine grain steel wool (0000). Read more…

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Submitted by Christi

This beautiful spring day with its gorgeous blue sky and soft Southern breeze was screaming for us to get out and enjoy, so . . . we did. We grabbed our kite and string and headed out to the Mississippi river levee area in New Orleans called “The Fly” which is located at the river end of Audubon Park and enjoyed a lovely afternoon.

Getting the kite ready to fly.

Getting the kite ready to fly.

Up, up and away . . .

kite above the trees

High into the sky!

kite flying

Higher and higher . . .

kite flying

With my fist holding tight, to the string of my kite 🙂

kite flying

A day that just made me smile . . . so, I wanted to share it with you!

Outdoor Wedenesday

Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer

Spring on the Porch

Submitted by Christi

The weather in New Orleans tends to be mild, year-round. However, this past winter brought many cool/cold days (though no frost or freezing – it’s all relative). Now that Spring is officially here, it is wonderful to get outside and enjoy the front porch.

We spend so much time on the porch that I am constantly changing up the look for the newest season. You may remember how it looked during the Carnival season:

mardi gras porch
A purple cloth and Mardi Gras beads adorned the table and the columns were adorned with purple, green and gold bows and ribbons.

Here is the Spring look:

Gardenia on the porch

A new look on the swing and table: Read more…

City of the Dead

Submitted by Cindy

As Easter approaches our thoughts turn to loved ones who are no longer with us.  I made a trip recently to Metairie Cemetery, where my family is buried, to place flowers on the tombs.  While newer than a number of the city’s cemeteries, it is one of the largest and most historic.

View - Metairie Cemetery

It was previously the site of a horse racing track, Metairie Race Course, founded in 1838.  During the Civil War it was used as Confederate Camp Moore.  The track went bankrupt during reconstruction, and the site was chartered as a cemetery in 1872, with its design influenced by the oval layout.  In 1991 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cemetery is the resting place of over 9,000 people, including 9 Louisiana governors, 7 New Orleans mayors, 49 kings of Carnival, and 3 Confederate generals.  With the largest collection of elaborate marble tombs and funeral statuary in the city, the artistry alone is well worth a trip.

Confederate monument

Read more…

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Submitted by Cindy

On a recent Sunday morning 16,000 runners from all 50 states and 23 foreign countries took to the New Orleans streets.  My running days are over, but I can’t resist going to cheer them on, and sympathize with their pain.  It was a perfect, cool winter day, with the sun peeking over the oak trees as the runners filled both sides of St. Charles Avenue.

In New Orleans we can turn any event into a party!    A jazz band from Tulane University started up at 7 AM.  Cheerleaders from a local high school sang their encouragement, waving big records as part of their routine.  Neighbors lined the route just as for a parade, though most were drinking coffee rather than the typical beer.  We brought our coonhound to cheer them on, and she provided a welcome distraction to the monotony of 26 miles. Read more…

Throw Me a Cabbage!

Submitted by Cindy

We have lots of folks of Irish ancestry in New Orleans.  Irish immigrants in the 19th century dug the canals that drain the city, and we will forever be grateful for their backbreaking contributions.  It is no surprise that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with not one, but four parades – Uptown (starting in the Irish Channel), Metairie (an adjacent suburb), and two in the French Quarter/Downtown area.  Yesterday I put on my green T-shirt and fuzzy headband with shamrocks on springs and headed for a party in the ‘burbs.

These parades are not known for their artistic merit.  They are a great place to watch the antics of the marchers (who typically have consumed a bit of beer), hang out with friends, and most importantly, to catch the complements to your corned beef.

Read more…

Cream Soup a la John Besh

Submitted by Cindy

I attended a program last week featuring the noted chef John Besh as speaker.   A native son, he is “dedicated to promoting the foodways of Southern Louisiana”.  Chef Besh owns nine restaurants and hosts a syndicated TV show, but he gets equal satisfaction from cooking for his wife and four sons.   He prepared cream cauliflower soup for us, a simple dish in line with his latest book – My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking. 

This is my kind of cooking – no firm recipe, just throw in a bit of this or that.  Use ingredients that you have on hand, and feel free to make substitutions.  (I doubt if my creations would turn out nearly as tasty as his!)   Of course, a couple of non-staple items can add a special pizzazz.  While the soup was cooking, Chef Besh gave lots of cooking tips, and entertained us with stories from his cooking career. Read more…