It may be too soon for some to even remotely entertain thoughts of fall, but for those of us who love the fall of it all let the countdown to fall begin.
Anticipating the joy of witnessing the changing of the leaves, trying out a new recipe featuring apple and spice and everything pumpkin nice, tailgating times, fairs and festivals weekends spent in quaint little country towns, Thanksgiving gobble and gather, and Christmas spent with the ones you love celebrations is what makes September through December the most wonderful time of the year.
Measure the length of the mantel- door-wall where you plan to hang the garland, including an estimation of how many loops you plan to hang. Add a half foot to a foot more, per loop, to your final measurement.
Gather the magnolia leaves. It will take approximately 25 leaves per each foot of garland.
Flip the magnolia leaves over to the brown/gold side. Take two leaves and put them together with their front sides facing. Wrap floral wire around the stems. Repeat this step until you have multiple paired sets of leaves.
Cut heavy twine to the length of the space measurement and add another foot. Start at one end of the twine and begin adding leaves. Tie the first pair using a simple knot. Continue to add the pairs by looping the twine under, over, and back around stems to secure in place, pushing them right up against the first pair.
Repeat until the garland is complete, tieing an overhead knot around the final pair.
Newsflash: gone are the days of basic and boring dorm room decorating ideas and decor choices.
Excuse me while I dance the dance of oh happy and stylish day.
Dorm stylish dorm room decorating ideas featuring tasteful and dashing furnishings, accents and accessories come together to transform an otherwise nondescript space into a chic oasis of comfort and personal style.
Natchez, Mississippi is a pack a bag, set the GPS, and let’s get out of town for a day or weekend destination that offers everything from festivals to shopping to art to dining to distinctive mixology to antiquing to gourmet cooking classes.
Jaunting over to this small Mississippi town for a quick getaway from it all is right up our alley.
With a few months still to go until vacation time, reaching back into the trip report archives is my tried and true cure for the are we there yet? blues.
Impressive architecture, antiques shops, mint julep and tiny biscuit lunches at the Carriage House, refreshing cocktail hours, and laid back evenings seal the travel to Natchez deal.
Louisiana to Mississippi rural highways, byways, and parkways give credence to the travel credo always take the scenic route.
Cell phone images of interest along country roads less traveled capture the scene and the herd.
I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve gone to Natchez for a festival, a pilgrimage, to celebrate a milestone, or simply to getaway.
However, some trips do stand out more than others for one reason or another.
Photos from our past Natchez trips will not be appearing in this post due to the following:
It’s 98 degrees in the shade here in Central Louisiana.
Rooting around in a climate controlled storage unit to locate the box they may be in is not my idea of hot fun in the summertime, n’est-ce pas?
I’ll do my best to make this an easy follow with the help of borrowed, credited, courtesy of, and sourced photos rich in travel detail.
Natchez gifts the eye with stunning views of the swift and sprawling Mississippi River and contrasting elevation levels.
Our self-guided driving, riding, and walking tours of Natchez have resulted in the discovery of impressive architecture, outstanding architectural details, off the beaten path and under-the-hill gems, and fascinating people.
Speaking of off the beaten path gems and fascinating people, let’s take a travel show and tell detour for a few paragraphs for the simple reason I like telling this story.
Friends of ours invited us to join them in Natchez for the 1984 Spring Pilgrimage. We booked the guest house at Ravennaside for our party of four, packed our bags, and headed east.
The guest house option works best for us.
You get the bed and breakfast experience with the extra added bonus of privacy.
The owners of Ravennaside at the time, Mr. and Mrs. John Van Hook, kept with the vision and intent of the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. James Fleming, for Ravennaside to be a home for entertaining.
Upon check- in, Mr. Van Hook gave our group a tour of the house and a rundown of the schedule of events planned for that evening and the next morning.
Guests were invited to mix and mingle on the veranda over cocktails and appetizers beginning promptly at 5: 00 pm.
Everyone was encouraged to introduce themselves and indulge in lively conversation and strong libations.
My friend and I took a seat on the large rattan couch, exchanging hellos with our fellow seat mates.
Karen immediately struck up a conversation with the group sitting next to us.
I, on the other hand, was taking a moment to study the interiors, the architectural details of the space, and the cast of characters in attendance at this rather unique gathering.
A quick elbow nudge from Karen brought me back to reality. She leaned in to tell me the scoop discovered while engaged in casual cocktail chitchat.
Turns out our fellow day drinkers happened to be a group of editors from Southern Living magazine.
Thirty-five years later and I can’t for the life of me remember a single name of the three ladies or the single gentleman in their group.
Time has a way of doing that.
That late Saturday afternoon spent Southern sippin’ is by far one of the best travel memories in our Natchez, Mississippi travel repertoire.
King’s Tavern, circa 1789, is the oldest standing building in Natchez. The tavern is believed to be haunted after an expansion to the original building in 1930 revealed the skeletal remains of two men and one woman hidden in a wall behind the main fireplace.
As the story goes, Richard King, the founder of the tavern, had a mistress named Madeline. Madeline disappeared without a Natchez trace soon after Mrs. King learned of the illicit affair between Mr. King and Madeline.
To say the charm quotient overfloweth at 71 Homochitto Street is an understatement.
Our host for many visits over the years was Dr. Homer A. Whittington, a true Southern gentleman if there ever was one.
Ever the gracious host, Dr. Whittington had a distinct and memorable way of making you realize you were experiencing the very best of what Southern hospitality is all about.
We fell in love with the guest house at Twin Oaks. What we would do or where we would dine when we were in Natchez may have been up for debate, but there was never any question as to where where we would stay.
Dr. Whittington joked he ought to just give us our own key to the guest house.
We always felt right at home and a part of the Twin Oaks family.
Unfortunately, the guest house did not age well through the years, and was torn down when Twin Oaks was sold.
The present owner, Regina Charboneau, puts her own unique spin on private accommodations and Southern hospitality as well.
I’ll elaborate more on this in an upcoming blog post.
Back in its B&B heyday, the guest house at Twin Oaks was located at the far end of the gardens just past the staircase to the left of the chapel.
Packed with period antiques and oodles of privacy, the guest house at Twin Oaks was our kind of bed & breakfast.
I’d say the square footage of the guest house came in around 1000 square feet under roof.
A modern bathroom suite and kitchen struck the right balance between old and new.
The full kitchen and fully stocked fridge addressed the what’s for breakfast issue, and the entertainment center churned out the contemporary music of the day.
On top of all that, there was a large working fireplace and a private courtyard that provided all the comforts of home and them some.
On the last day of the trip, we stayed around the guest house for most of the afternoon. The plan was to go to the Post House (currently King’s Tavern) for a farewell to Natchez dinner later in the evening.
Coffee and chicory pairs well with a brisk fall afternoon, serving as the beverage of choice at the guest house coffee and cocktail hour. Dave added a generous pour of Bailey’s to his coffee to spike up the flavor and warm the bones.
Celebrating the moments of our lives in fika fashion over several cups of strong coffee, we found ourselves slightly buzzing from the combination of caffeine, Bailey’s, and the pure excitement of being out of town.
The parking area for guests was at the opposite end of the courtyard. The roosting of what seemed to be thousands of birds in the bamboo trees lining the entire back of the courtyard produced a loud and eerie soundtrack.
One would think in our comings and goings that at least one of us would have noticed the large garden statue standing at the far end of the courtyard.
You would think, but we did not.
With a brisk breeze kicking up and the gift of dipping fall temps, Dave thought moving the car closer to the guest house a good idea. I told him I was almost finished getting ready, and I would meet him at the top of the stairs.
The front door of the guest house was made of solid wood, and was as wide as it was tall. A high pitch squeak at mid open (or close) let you know someone was coming in or going out.
Between the squeak and a strategically positioned full length mirror serving as my make-up mirror, I had both an audible and visual heads up of who was coming in and out of the guest house.
Call it a prehistoric version of the Ring doorbell.
All of a sudden the door swings open so fast it doesn’t even have time to squeak. Dave is in a whiter shade of pale frantically locking the door behind him.
I immediately ask him, “what’s wrong?”
“There’s a headless something or someone standing in front of the car.”
I recall his exact words at this point in the conversation were “I’m not sh#&!ing you.”
Normally the calm, cool, sober and collected one in our party of two, my initial reaction was to diffuse without discounting Dave’s fear.
“Tell me exactly what you think you saw.”
The story goes like this:
When Dave walked up the stairs to the driveway he saw what he thought was Dr. Whittington sitting in his study. He decided to walk by the study window and wave good evening to Dr. Whittington. Turns out there was no one in the study, so Dave continued on down the driveway to the parking area.
He describes the details, telling me the birds roosting in the bamboo trees is deafening loud this evening, and the previously mentioned fall winds had really began to pick up.
He proceeds to further set the scene. The closer he gets to the guest parking area, he is 100% percent sure he sees the aforementioned headless something or someone standing in front of the car
I give him a look of sure you do.
It’s the look I’ve perfected over the years.
“Do you think perhaps the Bailey’s infused coffees are having their way with your eyes, Dave?”
“I know what I saw, Darleen.”
Facing your fear is the only way to conquer it. Taking these words into account, I decide to see what we’re working with here.
Much to Dave’s “don’t open that door” objections, I opened the front door to better assess the situation.
About the time I opened the door the wind gusted and the sound of the birds roosting in the bamboo hit a crescendo.
Looking down the courtyard through over caffeinated eyes, I too see a headless something or someone standing in front of the car
I couldn’t shut and lock the front door fast enough.
Dave gave me his I told you so look- the look he’s perfected over the years.
There was no two ways about it- we were going to dinner regardless of what or who was standing by the car.
We both opened the door for a second look, and yep, it was still there.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson analyze the situation, and devise a game plan of how to get to the car and defend ourselves from the forces of headless evil lurking in the night.
Dave comes up with the plan. He told me to grab the pair of candlesticks on the mantle. “You take one, and I’ll take the other, and it’ll be two against one.”
Dave addressed my concerns over the post battle condition of the candlesticks. They were not antiques, and I was familiar with the brand and the retail store where a replacement pair could be purchased from.
Dave concluded we would simply replace them and throw a Ben Franklin Dr. Whittington’s way if the candlesticks fell victim to battle.
The adrenaline was flowing, we were both armed with decorative accents, and I had a fierce craving for Post House Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Let’s do this.
We carefully locked up the guest house and headed up the stairs. There was no point in slow walking the inevitable, so we picked up the pace and our candlesticks prepared to beat our way into the car.
Cue the roosting birds, the swirling winds, and the building fear.
The closer we got to the figure, reality came into clear view.
Oh, there was definitely a headless figure at the end of the driveway.
At least we got that part right.
There, standing in front of us in all its courtyard art glory, was a life size concrete garden statue.
Failure on our part to notice the statue from the get-go resulted in two complete dumb asses spending the last hour plotting a defense that entailed beating the living daylights out of an inanimate objet d’art with a pair of decorative candlesticks.
It took a second to catch our breath and process what just happened. Dave wasted no time looking around to see if anyone saw us.
The man does have his priorities.
Fortunately for us our reputations remained intact.
I waited to comment until we pulled out of the driveway. I didn’t get an entire word out of my mouth before Dave shut it down with an overly emphasized three word reply.
You. Did. Too.
Goodness knows I would have loved for this to have been kept just between the two of us, but nooooo, Dave. In record post-trip return time, you could not wait to turn our antics into an amateur stand-up comedy show and tell complete with animated gestures and language, exposing our self-humiliation for all the world (well, our family and friends) to know.
We’re all about the show and tell.
One thing is for sure, there’s never been a dull moment in our Natchez, Mississippi travels.
Even when we opt to slow down the pace, enjoy the moment, and roll with the flow of the river, the days and nights are never dull, and that’s why we consider Natchez a favorite getaway destination.
If I had a nickel for every time my grandmother handed us a glass of homemade lemonade and a bowl full of peas prime for the snapping, I’d have enough money to run by Raising Cane’s for a lemonade to enjoy on the drive out to the farmer’s market stand on the bayou to pick up a bushel or a peck of peas.
Revered summer rituals of the past shape the summer activities of the present.
It was nothing for my Dad and uncles to suggest the entire family load up and caravan to the drive-in.
My Mother and my aunts gathered up the aluminum lawn chairs, filled an industrial size ice chest with canned Cokes (it’s the South- we call any flavor soda or pop Coke), and popped several pans of Jiffy Pop.
Ironically, the only trip to the concession stand was for mosquito coils.
Pure summertime fun gold.
I hope you all have a most fetching Friday and a great weekend enjoying some good old summertime fun.
The tropical storm slowly brewing in the gulf is becoming the Barry of bad tidings for the entire state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.
We’re no strangers to storm watching, and we know all too well the warnings and preparations that go with the territory must be heeded.
My initial intention for this blog post was to show you all the treasures I recently found shopping my favorite antiques and gift shop, but between storm watching and grocery store runs that ain’t happening.
Gulf coast themed accents remind me just how beautiful the area is and star in the summer at the coast style show currently decorating the dining room table and sideboard.
We’ll have to see what Barry brings our way, and what, if any, damage we will be left to repair.
In the meantime, we’ve got enough bottled water, non-perishable foods, batteries, and tenacity to hang in there.
Dave is already sweating over the looming loss of air conditioning. We do like our air conditioning.
I feel like the lady in the home warranty commercial. We just got the new roof less than two years ago when the tornado ripped the old one to shreds.
This isn’t our first time at the storm watching rodeo, and we can hang on Louisiana strong for the entire eight minutes, hours, days- you get the idea.
Clear jars, containers, and cansiters aren’t just for food storage. These versatile and affordable entertaining musts prove a clear winner to house and serve anything from utensils to candies to salads.
Clear jars filled with fresh flowers and/or greenery from the yard come in make a simple and lovely display.
Small groupings-stacks-bundles of fresh fruit or summer vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, peaches, cherries, blueberries, or grapes dressed up with ribbon or in their natural state serve a colorful bounty of fresh and sweet summer style.
Red, white, and/or blue fabric is my suggestion for a table runner. This works for dinner napkins, too.
I can’t sew a stitch, but I can work a hot iron and a roll of hem tape like nobody’s business.
Determine the width and length (add one inch to both the width and length), cut your fabric to desired size, fold over each side (fold in the corners to create a 45 degree angle), and either sew sides or apply hem table with iron.
With summer’s official arrival and the 4th of July coming up, happy summer times are here again, friends. Like the summer temps, summer food recipes are a hot topic of conversation.
I really look forward to picking, preparing, and plating traditional summer fare. I’ll put a new spin on an old favorite to spice the taste factor up a bit, but all in all I stay true to the original recipe.
Stir in chopped bell pepper, onion, Kosher salt, fine black pepper and you’ve got a sweet summer treat.
Peel ’em up and pass the sugar.
When I can’t make it out to the local growers, it’s to the farm to market produce section at the local grocery store I go. There’s plenty of summer food recipes out there with an ingredients list of seasonings ready to enhance the flavor quotient.
Today I’m shining the summer food recipes spotlight on traditional and new traditional favorites sure to please.
Classic Macaroni Salad
1½ cup (12 ounces) dry elbow macaroni
½ cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)
black pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, diced
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 whole green onion (green and white parts), sliced
1 cup whole kernel corn, drained
Cook the elbow macaroni in salted water according to directions on package. Drain cooked macaroni, rinse with cold water, and allow to completely cool.
Chop, slice, and dice the tomato, bell pepper, red onion, and green onion.
To prepare the dressing grab a medium mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir all together to incorporate and set aside.
Place macaroni in a large mixing bowl. Add the bell pepper, green onion, red onion, tomatoes, and corn.
Pour dressing over top and toss to evenly coat. Chill salad for at least 2 hours before serving.
Bread and butter pickles recipe from Recipe Girl. Click on over to the delicious Recipe Girl blog for the recipe details.
Layer tomatoes and onions in jar. Sprinkle the pepper and allspice into jar.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, honey, sea salt, and water to combine.
Pour vinegar-sugar-honey-sea salt-water mixture into jar covering the tomatoes and onions. Place lid on jar and seal tight. Give the jar a vigorous shake to incorporate the flavors and to thoroughly coat the tomatoes and onions.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
Firecrackers, chicken, and the summer soiree are part of the recipe for summer entertaining success.
Contrary to summer soiree belief, not everyone grills and barbecues.
Oppressive heat, inclement weather, building restrictions, personal taste preference- you get the idea.
If you’re not on board the grilling/barbecue train, this recipe for oven baked Firecracker Chicken from Jo Cooks has got your name written on it.
Who remembers cranking out homemade ice cream on a hot summer afternoon?
Dave the Builder and I both have done our fair share of cranking over the years of childhood. What complaints we had about having to crank were quickly diminished when the ice cream was ready.
When a good crop of peaches came in at the local orchard, my grandmother would peel and dice a bowl full of fresh peaches to add to the ice cream.
Talk about good!
In the spirit of summer, good memories, and great summer food recipes, this recipe for fresh peach ice cream from Southern Living is deliciously appropriate.
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
5 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
2 cups mashed peaches
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Whisk in the milks. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the peaches and vanilla.
Cool completely (about 30 minutes); cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.
Pour the custard into the freezer container of a 2 ½ to 3-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.) Transfer to a freezer-safe container; freeze 2 hours or until firm.