Auctions, Estate Sales and Antiques Treasure Hunting

Auctions, estate sales and antiques treasure hunting expeditions write the latest chapter of my how I spent my summer vacation story.

Auctions, estate sales and antiques

Antiques auctions are my thing.  From start to sold, I love the workings of the antiques auction machine.  Dave the Builder and I have clocked many an hour in old barns, metal buildings, old storefronts and convention halls in hope of acquiring antiques and vintage furniture and accessories up for auction.  When live and in person isn’t in the bid cards, absentee bids are in order.  One of my very favorite auction houses, Gallery Auctions, Inc.  invites absentee bidding, offers quality merchandise and is known for superb customer service.


In the market for an antique bread or cutting board, I searched the listings with gotta have it success. I placed absentee bids on several boards to cover the spread, and was thrilled to receive the phone call that I won the bid I really, really wanted.  The board is big, aged, perfectly worn and rich in patina and provenance.  Score!

bread-boardAttending the highly anticipated local estate sale recently held less than one block from the Places In The Home abode turned out to be a good decision.  This particular estate sale was a treasure hunting must- one where quality meets quantity.  The bamboo light fixture immediately caught my eye, piqued my interest and held my attention.


First day sale prices can send a wave of sticker shock throughout the antiques dealers, estate sale aficionados and interior design and decorating community.  The word on the tree-lined street signaled high prices ahead.  The price I was comfortable paying did not square with the sellers initial asking price.  I told myself if it is meant to be it will be, and waited for the next day price negotiations.  Holding firm with an offer does not always work out for the best, but in this case it did.


Dave the Builder rewired the fixture, applied two coats of gloss white lacquer spray paint and here we are.  You’ll see this image again in a post I’m working on detailing more decor updates.


Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel and Casino

He said, “I need a vacation.”  She said, “Can we go auctions, estate sales and antiques treasure hunting?”

dare-day-clubDo we dare take a gamble on basing our vacation destination on past antiques inventory buying successes?  I’m willing to roll the dice if you are, Dave. He said, “make the reservation.”  She said, “win, lose or draw, I’m ready to go.”


The who, when, where and what anticipation of discovery is the common thread between vacation getaways and treasure hunting .


First stop on the treasure hunting train: Kings Antique Mall.  The gotta have it list for our auctions, estate sales and antiques treasure hunting trips includes requests from clients as well as items for my personal collections.  A hold tag on the two drawer chest dashed my hopes for ownership, but it gave me an idea for a piece already in inventory. Inspiration is everywhere.




I am always fascinated by the nouns of life and how we draw home decor inspiration from them.  Violets remind me of my maternal grandmother, and memories drive the antiques business.

violet-plate1I almost overlooked this small violet adorned dish while shopping at Antique Shoppes at 1100 Barksdale, but luckily spied it sitting pretty atop a dusty shelf.  It currently resides on my bedside table as a holder for my reading glasses.



Hitting the copper jackpot at Antiques on Gladstone.


I love when an entire city block is home to antiques shops.  Kid meet candy store.  Finding the hotel silver dome put the cherry on the treasure hunting cake.


face-vasesWe are home sweet home again.


Now comes the fun part.

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A Most Fetching Friday: The Summer Vacation

Today’s A Most Fetching Friday is all about the summer vacation.


Tourism thrives on it, houses are built to entertain around it, school teachers wait all school year long for it to get here, kids of all ages celebrate it, and memories made on the summer holiday road stay with us for a lifetime.


Texas Hill Country


Lake Keowee Lake House Cabin, South Carolina

Palm Springs Hotel

Summer In Color at The Saguaro Palm Springs

the summer vacation

What story will your summer vacation tell?

sea shells

Sanibel Island, Florida

Dave the Builder and I have been on a mini vacation for a little over a week.  Reality will soon call us back to our normal routine, but for now the pace has slowed and the summer vacation life is good.

luggage tag

Tagged for Travel


Get Your Kicks and Your Gas on Route 66


Sunny Days and Cool Waters

Summer Sounds

Have a lovely weekend.


Not Too Far But Far Enough Away From Home: Travels to Small Southern Towns

August was a busy month of celebrations and milestones around Places In The Home.  Our son’s graduation from Louisiana State University, commencement ceremony and subsequent celebration(s) made for a busy first part of the month. When Dave the Builder suggested a regroup and recovery getaway for two I could not make reservations fast enough.  I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the not too far but far enough away from home travels to small Southern towns.  These travel gems brimming with history, old houses, antiques and townsfolk who invite you to take in and be a part of the local flavor make a great weekend getaway destination perfect for recharging one’s battery.

St.-John's-Episcopal-ChurchSt. John’s Episcopal Church – Washington, Louisiana

Our long and winding road travels (well, our straight line I-49 travels) placed us center stage among the small Southern towns of Washington, Scott and Lafayette, Louisiana.  I learned a long time ago not to categorize our close to home jaunts as a non-vacation.  Trust me, these  just roll with the flow discovery excursions can pass a good time and pass for a real vacation.

Travels to Small Southern Towns

Washington, Louisiana is as sleepy as it is Southern, a small town full of history from steamboat days gone by.  Narrow streets shaded by mature oaks, magnolia trees, historical architecture, quintessential Southern homes ranging from the wow to the weathered, and an old high school full to the gills with antiques and vintage goodies seasons the local flavor.

old-houseBeauty does not always strike a pristine pose. This abandoned abode on a shaded street in a small Southern town piqued my interest, struck an architectural chord and became the subject of a subjective experience.  

You know you love antiquing when the indoor temperature almost matches the oppressive outdoor temperature ( 95+ degrees).  Note to self: antiquing in old buildings, warehouses, outdoors and in old high schools is an activity best enjoyed in the fall.  On this particular Louisiana summer Saturday, the Old Antique School Mall was full of hot air and hot finds priced fairly and in shop or home ready condition.  I didn’t have a clue what I was looking for, but something told me I would know it when, and if, I saw it.


Our visit to the school was timed just right for a super sale.  I have been working on a kitchen gallery wall, and no respectable kitchen gallery wall is complete without the all important touch of copper.


I couldn’t resist the lidded copper pan and mold.  Grand total: $10 for both.


That ladies and gentlemen is a copper bargain of the very best kind.

PM-corbel Dear Santa…

The method to my retail madness is simple- pop into shops, boutiques, markets and retail outlets not available in the retail deficient corner of the world I call home.

The Haul~


A familiar sign became a beacon of biscuits and cornbread in the South Louisiana night.

Cracker-Barrel-signIt was a biscuit and cornbread kind of evening. 

I planned our next trip the Southern life fantastic on the drive home. November can’t get here soon enough.

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An Admired Treasure Comes Forth From The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour

The door has opened on Part III of  The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour : Inspiration, History and Mystery.  The final portion of our story involves history, haunts and Houston.   Here we go!

myrtles-plantationThe Myrtles Plantation ~ Tara Marie Photography

The furnishings inside The Myrtles Plantation include four-poster tester beds, crystal chandeliers, ornamental frieze work, and ornate English, French and Italian architectural attributes. Most impressive to me was the backstory, explanations, insights, legends and lessons of lifestyles, customs and ceremony of the period.  Miss Hester told of how etiquette and ceremony were heavily emphasized.  It was considered in poor taste and bad manners to broach the subject of how long guests would be staying at The Myrtles. When the owners decided the time had come for their guests to be moving on, the center bed finial would be removed while the guests were out of the room.  An immediate departure was expected.  Another story of interest revolved around the main staircase.

antique spindles and newel

A mortgage button (decorative plug) in the newel post of the foyer staircase proudly signified the mansion mortgage was completely paid off. It is believed the property note would then be rolled up, placed in the hollow post, and capped with a decorative plug.  Some historians totally debunk this theory. There are others who say the practice of the time would have been to burn the  property note, therefore, placing the ashes in the hollow post.  Of myth and mystery comes tales that may not be long on historical accuracy,  but make for interesting and intriguing parts of the evening.  The history of The Myrtles and its legend of murder, mystery and sightings is detailed in this short video from The Travel Channel.

I was really into the spirited vibe of the evening for the sake of  the adventure. Far be it from me to discount the tales of tugs and ghostly reflections that others claim to have felt or seen. Miss Hester took me to the side and told me that the children like to show themselves to other children.  She told me of the pull described in the video, and that our son could be visited during the tour.  Dave was freaking out, our son was prepared for paranormal activity with a ghostbuster attitude, and I was dead up (pardon the pun) in the middle of all the mystery and mischief. Could this be what was in store for us this evening?


Everyone on the Mystery Tour was hanging on Miss Hester’s every word, braced and ready for impact. Between the ghosts and the thrill of what could happen I almost forgot I was on silver lazy susan lookout. When we entered the dining room I immediately saw the lazy susan prominently displayed in the center of the dining table.

Myrtles Interior Dining Room

Even though we immensely enjoyed every moment of the Mystery Tour, I’m sorry to report that  no sightings, tugs, pulls or sounds emerged from the house or the grounds.  We gave it our all trying to get that ghostly feeling, but it was a no-go.  We met a couple from Baton Rouge who were staying in the General David Bradford Suite on the first floor of the main house.  We stood on the back porch comparing our Mystery Tour notes. They invited us to join them for a post mystery tour spirit.  We all got to laughing at the very animated Dave the Builder.  Dave mustered up a shot or two of liquid courage, and in doing so was quite determined to wake the dead.  I reminded him it was probably best to let sleeping spirits lie.


Of course my brother could not wait to find out how we liked St. Francisville, New Roads, and The Myrtles. The conversation began with two to the point questions.  “Did you see the lazy susan?”  Yes.  “Can you find me one?”  Yes I can.  I filed his request away for a future antiquing trip.  Three months after our Myrtles excursion my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and another road trip of a very different kind was the plan.  We moved to Houston, Texas for six weeks for my mother to receive cancer treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  My mother successfully completed her treatment, and thankfully remains cancer-free.

Antique Center of Texas

One afternoon while my parents were resting, Dave and I set out to explore the Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway area of Houston. We lunched at  La Madeleine in Highland Village (now closed) and did an abbreviated version of a shop crawl beginning at Pottery Barn.  I called to check in on the parents,  who informed me they were rested and heading out to have dinner with a dear Houstonian friend of ours.  That’s a go for more shopping.  Three guesses what king of shopping I wanted to do!  Oh, boy, is this great!


Carolyn Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas was hopping, and the finds and deals got my attention. I was thrilled to find a Pheasant mount, a black and brown English riding derby, and a large copper bowl.  I was shocked when I flipped over the price tag on the bowl to see a super responsible price.  The reason for the great price?  The entire center of the bowl was covered with a poorly done free handed inscription.  Where one person sees a problem another sees a solution. I simply hung the bowl with the center facing the wall. It is one of many items still packed in storage from the move, but as soon as I locate that bad boy I will post a picture.  On our way to the check out Dave happened to spot a booth brimming over with vintage silver pieces. Well, well, well, what do we have here?  We simultaneously spot the silver lazy susan and make a beeline for it.  The dealer approached us with a smile and a dealing mood. I put my best broker face on and played the will you take $$$ game for right under one hour.  Now comes the dance.  I call my brother with the price, he would counter, Dave would pace, I would shop some more, Dave would continue to pace, the dealer would counter- it all goes with the territory.  A fair and final figure was agreed on by all,  and everyone came away a happy camper.  That’s the true definition of a good deal.

silver lazy susan

I hope you have enjoyed the tale of  how an admired treasure came forth from The Myrtles Plantation Mystery Tour.  All roads leading to the lazy susan hold a special meaning to me. In the middle of the fun, the fright and the fight stood family.  Speaking of family, can a brother get some silver polish?


images via Southern Living,  Flickr


A West Coast Treat, A Turquoise Chair, A Designer’s Tips, And One Sensational Tenor: A Dallas, Texas Vacation

Do you trip report?  I like to keep the fun and memories of a memories of a getaway alive with a trip report.  Long before Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I was reduced to archaic methods of recording and reporting trip buffoonery.  A 35mm camera, a honking huge video camera, and a written trip report got the job done.  I definitely don’t miss the the video camera, kinda still like the pics from my 35mm camera, and will keep on keeping on with the trip reports.

Dallas, Texas vacationCity-Data

After running across pictures from our trip to Dallas last year, listening to one of my favorite singers on Spotify, and getting a big old Texas kick out of the new Dallas on TNT,  I’ve got memories from last year’s Dallas trip on my mind.

American Airlines Center

Our son called from the Great White North to inform us he was coming home for a visit.  We will now be three for the trip over to Dallas to see the performer I refer to as  “the voice”  in concert at American Airlines Center.


The son quickly informed the mother he would be sitting this one out- the concert, not the trip.  In spite of how health conscious and diet minded he is, he had his taste buds set for a west coast treat recently new to Texas. More on that later.


“The Voice” is the incomparable Josh Groban.


On our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Las Vegas,  I had the pleasure of being introduced to the beautiful song “February Song” by Josh Groban.


Chill bumps!  When he announced he would be touring in 2011, I kept my eye out for the dates.  I zeroed in on a Dallas, Texas vacation, waited for the tickets to go on sale, and starting planning the trip.


The concert was fantastic!  The pictures not so much, but you get the general idea.

I discovered a love of turquoise cowhide chairs while we were in Dallas. When in Rome and Dallas, as they say. While watching Good Morning Texas, I learned Vern Yip of HGTV’s Design Star and Bang For Your Buck was in Dallas on a promotional tour.  Our schedule was not permitting me to attend, but my ever handy notebook and pen got an early morning workout.  I sipped strong Texas coffee, paid close attention, and jotted down his home decor advice, suggestions, and tips.


From my notes :

Design don’t: do not buy things in sets.

Trend: vintage salvage.

Hot colors of summer 2011 will be turquoise and honeysuckle.

Curtain lengths should hit the floor.

Hang pictures at eye level.

Good interior design and home decor information. I knew I liked that turquoise cowhide chair.

California based In-N-Out Burger was the reason for our son’s excitement about our Dallas trip. Yes, they are that good!  One of our favorite Saturday night Vegas traditions was seeing the show Mama Mia at Mandalay Bay, followed by a gourmet dinner fit for a dancing queen and her man at In-N-Out Burger.

Our trip to Dallas satisfied our son’s In-N-Out Burger craving, marked seeing Josh Groban live in concert off my bucket list, and gave Dave the Builder the opportunity to brush up on his tour guide skills.  Load ’em up! I’m ready to hit the holiday road to the Big D again.



Antiques and Home Decor Accessories: Hitting The Antiques Inventory Shopping Trail

Finding antiques and home decor accessories and quality fabric made for a successful inventory shopping trip. Nice digs, good food and great company rounded out the fun.

Horseshoe Bossier City

Mixing business with pleasure makes for an excellent start.  We arrived Sunday evening to warm temps, flowing fountains and our favorite North Louisiana home away from home,  Horseshoe Bossier City.  Dave the Builder and our son were immediately taken with this eye candy~

hotel lobby

Jaguar XKR

and I with this~

crystal chandelier

Strong Louisiana coffee began a shopping Monday morning.  With portfolio in hand we hit the antique and accessory inventory shopping trail.  I suggested we shop accessories first and maybe, just maybe, throw in Marshall’s, Belk and White House Black Market for good measure.  Looking good while inventory shopping and selling is an essential part of the equation, plus it is a point hard to argue with!

wing chair

Red Door Interiors did not disappoint.  I was pulled to this display as soon as the nailhead accents of this wing chair and gold rope detail of the gorgeous accent mirror caught my attention.

antiques and home decor accessories

Accent accouterments hold the decorative power to actually define the piece.


A melange of characters and themes~ Under the Sea with Mr. Peanut and one seriously cracked up flying pig.

home decor

club chair

The next shopping destination we happened upon was new to our shopping haunts.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you a fashionably appointed window display will not capture ones attention as they are motoring down the heavily traveled main shopping corridor of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Dave the Builder is used to my occasional and often sudden “stop here!” outbursts and bless his mad driving and maneuvering traffic skills.

houndstooth upholstered chairUniquely Yours of Shreveport is an upscale consignment shop I enjoyed finding and browsing in.  The twig chandeliers and black and white houndstooth upholstered spot chair are under consideration for future purchase.


Antique shopping from this dealer’s resale eye is not rocket science.  Pieces reasonably priced, full of character, shop ready or easily able to be, and those that possess a unique attraction catch and hold my eye.  Some pieces have an unexplained attraction, a “I don’t know what to do with it, or why I love it, but I’m buying it anyway” quality. I absolutely love those pieces! Unfortunately, this set of “Men at Work” masonry statues at Timeline Antiques and Collectibles was priced out of my resale comfort zone.

King's Antique Mall

I always find a treasure or two at King’s Antique Mall.  With all the antique buying excitement I forgot to snap a pic of the shop.  The above image is borrowed from their website.

Victorian chair

My decorative imagination went wild when I spotted this deconstructed Victorian chair with lion’s paw feet.  Dave the Builder was consulted, a phone call was made to the upholsterer, and the decision to continue to decide was made.  I love a decorative design challenge!

primitive corner cabinet

I like to pick up a “memory piece” from our combination business with pleasure shopping trips- just a little remembrance keepsake.  I found a particular dealer’s booth at King’s Antique Mall quite intriguing on both the merchandise and sale price front.  I hit the vintage restaurant china and antique creamer jackpot and added R.S. Prussia and Versailles Bavaria plates to my ever growing personal collection.

Antiques on Gladstone

wooden box

An exciting “eyedea” inspired me this trip.  I have the pet project lined up to share with you all in the next few weeks.

fabric samples

antique spool cabinet

This antique inventory buying trip resulted in making one of my clients very happy, and the good deals made us all very happy.  Summer sales are in full force in all of the shops we visited, and the discounts are shopper friendly.

antique desk

Our antique inventory shopping trip was a success all the way around. Happy sellers, happy buyers, happy clients, and happy trails back home.

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Natchitoches, Louisiana: A Historical Town of Steel Magnolias, Clementine Hunter, Meat Pies and Best Southern Small Town Distinction

Today’s Natchitoches, Louisiana post is an updated version in tribute to Natchitoches being chosen Best Southern Small Town by USA Today readers.  Visit Natchitoches once and you will come to know why this comes as no surprise to me. 

It’s the time of year for travel.  Vacations, staycations and day trips refresh our recreating souls, renew connections and give us ideas to implement into our home decor.

Natchitoches, Louisiana is a small town rich in history and bragging rights.  Natchitoches (NACK-uh-tush) is located about one hour south of Shreveport and five hours north of New Orleans. Natchitoches was established by the French in 1714 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the 13 state territory Louisiana Purchase.

French and Spanish forts, historical homes, national historic landmarks, bed and breakfasts, antique shops, and fantastic restaurants line the original brick Front Street.  The thirty-three block National  Historic District and plantation district along the banks of Cane River Lake is made up of 100 historic homes and buildings.

One of my favorite shops to visit on historic Front Street is Kaffie-Frederick, Inc., General Mercantile.  Kaffie-Frederick is the oldest general store in Louisiana. The front door swings open to a blast from the past decor full of charm, hardware, tools, classic toys and utensils all in I remember these splendor.

Natchitoches is the hometown of  writer, producer and film director Robert Harling.  Robert Harling is best known as the writer of the play, Steel Magnolias.  Rooted in location and hometown authenticity, Natchitoches was the star of the South for a brief period of time in 1988 when Hollywood came calling.  The excitement surrounding the filming was a statewide topic of conversation, and the memories of the stars and their time spent weaving in and out of the local landscape a souvenir program in Louisiana film history.

The Taylor-Cook home, better known as  The Steel Magnolia House, remains one of the most recognizable and popular historic homes in downtown Natchitoches.  As a surprise birthday gift to me, Dave the Builder purchased tickets to the Natchitoches Fall Pilgrimage Candlelight Tour of Homes.

Travel Channel

The evening tour of  Taylor-Cook aka The Steel Magnolia House was a candlelight and cocktails themed party not to be forgotten.  Several hundred guests strolled the grounds and toured the home filled with period antiques tastefully paired with stylish accents while sipping cocktails by moonlight, music and magnolias.  Natchitoches throws a good party.

Clockwise from top left: Taylor-Cook House, Front Street, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Melrose Plantation

Roque House

Big_House_at_Melrose_Plantation_-_east_elevationBig House at Melrose Plantation

One of my favorite artist, African-American folk artist Clementine Hunter (late December 1886 or early January 1887 – January 1, 1988), is closely associated with Natchitoches.  Miss Hunter was born near Cloutierville, Louisiana, moving to Melrose Plantation when she was fifteen years old. Clementine Hunter (pronounced Clementeen) was a self-taught artist who painted from memory.


Clementine was encouraged to paint and locally promoted by Melrose plantation curator, François Mignon.

Clementine_Hunter_-_The_Wash_-_91.88.2_-_Minneapolis_Institute_of_ArtsThe Wash ~ Clementine Hunter

The subjects of her paintings portray plantation life as it were in the early 20th century.  Although most of her works are untitled, the subject would be verbally described by the artist herself when asked.

Clementine_Hunter_-_Picking_Cotton_-_91.88.1_-_Minneapolis_Institute_of_ArtsPicking Cotton ~ Clementine Hunter

In the early days of her painting dating to the 1940s, Clementine Hunter sold her works for a quarter.  Her paintings can now sell for thousands of dollars.  It is estimated Clementine Hunter painted between four and five thousand paintings in her lifetime.  Miss Hunter continued to live in Northwest Louisiana until her death in 1988.

I was extremely fortunate enough to have the opportunity to purchase my Clementine Hunter painting in 1986 before forgeries of her work hit the market.  The local couple I purchased “Outdoor Cooking”  from were actual friends of Clementine Hunter.  To authenticate the painting the couple took a photo of Clementine Hunter actually holding the finished painting.  They gave me photo to keep when I purchased the painting, and I cherish her photo as much as I do the painting.

natchitoches louisiana

Cane River runs through downtown Natchitoches.  There is not an empty spot to be had on the banks of Cane River on the first Saturday in December.  On the first weekend of December, Natchitoches illuminates the Southern night sky in a festive Christmas festival firework spectacular. Approximately 150,000 visitors descend on the small town to experience this annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights, a tradition of lights and holiday merriment. 

Oprah Winfrey made an unannounced and very surprising  visit to Natchitoches in 2002.  The visit was prompted by an on-air invitation from Peggy Plunkett who was in the audience at a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Oprah came, saw and declared Natchitoches the “Best Little Town in the Whole USA!”  Now that’s an endorsement!

Another wonderful festival (and there are plenty of those in Natchitoches) is the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival.  The origin of the meat pie dates back to the late 1700s.  Natchitoches Meat Pies are deep-fried pastries filled with ground beef and ground pork seasoned with onions, peppers, and garlic.  The Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival is a two day festival celebrating the regional delicacy and the festival also has its very own official recipe courtesy of Mrs. L.J. Melder.

Official Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival Meat Pie Recipe

1 teaspoon shortening

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork meat

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 head garlic, minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste

1 tablespoon flour

Meat pie crust:

1 quart plain flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1⁄2 cup shortening plus 1 tablespoon

1 cup milk


Melt shortening in heavy pot. Add meat. Cook until the pink is gone.

Add vegetables and season to taste. (Season well, as meat will lose seasoning during frying.)  When the meat is completely done and the vegetables glazed, remove from heat and drain excess liquid. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour.

For the crust:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening.  Beat egg and add to milk. Work gradually into dry ingredients until proper consistency to roll. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Break into small pieces and roll very thin. Cut into rounds using a saucer as a guide.

To assemble:

Place a large tablespoon of prepared meat along edge and halfway in the center of round dough.  Fold the other half over, making edges meet and seal with water.  Form edges with fork.  Refrigerate again for 30 minutes. Drop in deep fat and cook until golden brown.  Drain and serve hot.

Serves: 18 pies

Southern hospitality flows through the town like the Cane River and the welcome mat is always out.  Natchitoches, Louisiana is a sportsman’s paradise and home to Northwestern State University, festivals, historic homes and plantations, bed and breakfasts galore, quaint shops and excellent restaurants.

Natchitoches, Louisiana is a great destination for day tripping, a weekend getaway or a stay for a week or two visit.  USA Today readers know what they are talking about.

Love your style!

images via Natchitoches Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rotary Club of NatchitochesWikipedia, FlickrExplore NatchitochesCenLamar, NOLA, Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights, The Landing Restaurant/Photo by Lisa Gresham, Purzuit

Rivers Deep and Mountains High Vacation Memories: Sunny Las Vegas,Nevada and Snowy Gatlinburg,Tennessee

The calendar says January, but it seems Louisiana did not get the memo. As I write this it’s a dreary and cloudy day with drizzle in the air.  The temperature is registering a balmy, muggy and humid 68°.  By the time I post it may possibly be 36°.  I popped over to to verify the info, and the question on their homepage reads, “Where is winter?”  Well, it’s not in Louisiana, Jim Cantore!  I never know if it’s going to be allergy medicine and hot tea with lemon or iced tea with lemon and flip flops kind of day.  I like a climate that can make its mind up.

Las Vegas Temperature Paris

Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

It just so happens that two of my favorite vacation destinations deliver in that area.  In an effort to convince my internal thermometer it is not loosing its mind, I’m going to take a couple of trips down vacation memories lane.  Come on, we’re going to fabulous and sunny Las Vegas and Gatlinburg, Tennessee via Places In The Home.

Bellagio fountains

Las Vegas, Nevada plays a big role in my family’s travel portfolio. We’ve been going out to our favorite desert oasis since the mid-’70s.  For most of the year Las Vegas definitely lives up to its reputation as the great blow dryer in the desert.  We quickly acclimate to the temps and keep moving. We have great memories from over the years. Remember this guy?

Dan TannaRobert Urich as the handsome and smooth private eye, Dan Tanna

Circa 1979~ My mother was approached by Robert Urich, who starred as private eye Dan Tanna in the television series Vegas$.  My parents were staying at the Desert Inn where the series location was set.  He invited her to be his guest on set for the day.  Talk about a memory!


My lovely mother and Robert Urich on set together at the Desert Inn ~ 1979

We’ve seen the glitz and glamour of days past and the shorts and sandals scene of the current Vegas. We have stayed in fabulous hotels, witnessed hotel implosions, and marveled at the reinvention of the strip.  We’ve seen fantastic entertainers and shows, attended prize fights, met many wonderful locals, and dined at gourmet restaurants, retro coffee shops and all night cafes.  We do like to Vegas. 

Caesars Palace Las Vegas

One of the best concerts we’ve ever seen was the Sheryl Crow and James Blunt concert at Planet Hollywood, August 2008.  I am listening to Pandora as I type this and guess what song is playing?  “Favorite Mistake” by Sheryl Crow.  Love it!

Sheryl Crow

Seeing a Don Rickles performance in Vegas is classic.  Dave the Builder begs me not to put us on the first four rows.  He fears Mr. Rickles will choose him as subject matter.  The first time we saw his show was in 1990 downtown at the Golden Nugget.  We were running late for the show which caused us to be seated in the very back of the showroom.  Dave was thrilled!  On our 2010 trip, Mr. Rickles was in town performing at the Orleans.  I placed a lucky phone call to the showroom box office and scored second row seats dead in the center of the showroom.  Poor Dave, he was a nervous wreck until right before show time.  Thankfully,  two guys were seated directly in front of us.  Did Rickles pick them out? Picked them out and plucked their good-natured bones clean.  Don Rickles is a class act.

Don Rickles

Tipping our hats to The Hangover.

I took this photo of Treasure Island from the underground valet pick-up area at Palazzo after seeing Jersey Boys.  Another excellent show.

Treasure Island Las Vegas

Lunching at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Seafood.  I love the idea of a bread basket presentation.

bread basket
Dave the Builder ordered Joe’s famous scallops and roasted corn.  The reviews are in- fantastic!

Joe's scallops

I went with Joe’s classic filet and grilled tomato.  Delicious!

filet mignon

Scenes from Sunday brunch at Border Grill.  Carne asada quesadilla for me.

Border Grill Las Vegas

Fish tacos ensenada for Dave.  This dish rendered him speechless.  That’s a nice way of saying he did not utter one word during the meal.  He was busy stuffing his face with the best fish tacos he’s ever eaten.

fish tacos

Now we’re talking!  Two half slices of dessert heaven- pineapple upside-down cake and tres leches.

tres leches

The breakfast of neon champions!  Note to self: make it a point to find out who is responsible for coming up with the brilliant and convenient concept of room service and send them a thank you note.

room service


In and Out Burger

Without a doubt, The Beatles LOVE is one of the most entertaining and touching shows on the strip.  The musical tour of the Beatles biggest hits celebrated in Cirque du Soleil splendor is magical.

Mirage Hotel

The view of the mountains and the runways at McCarran Airport are as beautiful to me as the neon lights of the strip.

McCarran Airport

We are now leaving the 100+ temps of the desert for Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Wintertime in the Smokies guarantees brr it’s cold! fun at a relaxed pace.

Ober Gatlinburg

We spent an entire afternoon driving through Cades Cove.  The deer and turkeys came out in record numbers and the cameras were in hand.

Cades Cove

Smokey Mountains

wild turkey

These two very vocal and confrontational geese hang out in the parking lot at the Apple Barn Cider Mill.  These two stay busy greeting the visitors.

Apple Barn Mill

The roaring waters throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will command your attention.  They are as beautiful as they are swift, and a breathtaking sight in person.

Our tranquil home away from home.

Johnson's Inn

These signs line the road home to Tennessee.  For over forty years, as soon as we would spot a “See Rock City” sign we knew we were getting close to our grandparents house.  Good memories.

See Rock City

Vacations serve a wonderful purpose, and our Las Vegas and Gatlinburg, Tennessee vacations deliver fun.  They give us a break from our normal routines and comfort zones, an opportunity to reconnect with each other, step away from worries, and time to create lasting memories.  I heard a commercial for Pure Michigan that says, “When we get to a place where no one knows us, we become most ourselves.”  That about sums it up.

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