Good Things and Warm Temps: Spring Is In Sight

Our local weatherman just made my day with the forecast that pays- sunny with an expected high of 78 degrees. Can I get a spring is in sight! The first day of spring didn’t necessarily bring spring like weather to some, but let’s look at the iced tea, water and lemonade glass half full.  Good things and warm temps will come to those who patiently bundle up this week.

beverage stationWedding Chicks– Photographer: Fondly Forever Photography

Now that the weatherman and the calendar have established that spring is in sight, one’s thoughts naturally turn to spring break vacation, daycation and backyardcation destination ideas.  There’s places to go, people to see and parties to plan.  I received an email from our friends at Pinterest inviting me to create a place board of my ideal dawn to dusk daycation.  Any guesses where we’re going?

Beach Blanket Bingovia

Times have definitely changed and styles have evolved, but fun in the sun with our SPF50+ on is still highly recommended.

designer swimming poolvia

What colors do you see in your spring into summer color palette future?

tropical entry

This season’s color crush is brought to you by Sherwin- Williams Aloe and Sherwin-Williams Bunglehouse Gray.  I love any excuse to contemplate and coordinate bedding with spring and summer colors and textures.

coastal paint colors

The Barbara Barry Poetical Celadon Collection is about as let’s spring and summer update inspiring as it gorgeously gets. If the color blue had a scent Pure Grace by Philosophy is it.  The fresh and light scent makes a nice linen spray, and it’s my summer in a bottle scent suggestion.

pure grace fragrance

An acquaintance of ours has recently purchased a beach property in need of a decorative update or two.  Too many miles between us and certain time constraints makes this project a prime candidate for my edecorating services. I’ve been perusing shops and sites for furnishings and accessories that say beach chic.  I’ll share the design board with you all soon. Your comments are always welcome!

love your style

Pretty Up Your Travel Plans With Marriott Destinations Information

There’s no place like home, but there’s beautiful places and spaces that do a fabulous job of stylishly standing in.  For the holidays, memorable milestone days or discovering new highways and byways, the gift of travel travels well.

luggage tagsvia

 

Merriam-Webster gives more than one definition of the word vacation, but the general scenario we’re all looking for is:

Vacation:

1:  a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation

2:  a respite or a time of respite from something

world travelvia

 

One of the best and most memorable Christmas gifts I ever received was a trip to Las Vegas.  The window of time from “Hey baby, let’s go to Vegas” to “we would like to begin the boarding process” was super small. Fun in the desert sun details kept me searching, hopping and quite frankly, second-guessing if I had covered the travel information bases.  An informed traveler is a savings savvy traveler of time, money and second-guesses.

suitcasesvia

Where do you want to go on vacation?  Eight lovely words, don’t you think? Marriott does.  Marriott International is a leading hospitality company with over 3,800 properties in over 74 countries and territories around the world. Choosing the destination is only one part of the exploration equation.  You’ve got sights to see and places to go.  Hello, Marriott Destinations information for all things know where to go because being in the destination loop need not be an exhaustive exercise in travel what to dos.  If ringing in the New Year New York City style is on the travel agenda,  this New York City’s Five Boroughs infographic from the team at Marriott New York Hotels is a must read. 

Marriott NYC infographic

New York City’s Five Boroughs – An infographic by the team at Marriott New York Hotels

Bright neon lights of another city calling your name?  Even if you’re on a budget, Las Vegas can be a great destination for a fun, yet inexpensive getaway.  Here’s an example of valuable Welcome to Las Vegas info from the in the know folks at Marriott Las Vegas Hotels.  Planning your trip during the weekdays or the off-season time of July-August results in deals hotter than the desert temps.  Cha-ching!  That’s one way to win in Vegas.  The Las Vegas on a budget infographic gives the scoop on how to get the most out of your trip.

Marriott Destinations information

Las Vegas on a Budget – An infographic by the team at Marriott Las Vegas Hotels

 

From first hand travel experience, destination information saves valuable time (the most important travel commodity) and gives you the all important pre-trip info on the places high on your list of what to see and where to go.  Attention to detail is an important aspect of successful travel plans.  Travel in savvy style and pretty up your travel plans with Marriott Destinations information.

 

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

 

Tour de Mystery: The Myrtles Mystery Tour

Moving on to the second part of our The Myrtles: Inspiration, History and Mystery adventure, we pick up with our party of three filling the afternoon hours taking in local points of interest while counting down the time to The Myrtles Mystery Tour portion of our trip to St. Francisville, Louisiana. This story takes place fifteen years ago,  right around the time I opened Hopefully Classic Antiques and Interiors.  As you can imagine, antique shopping was high on the list of things to do, see and buy.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I love antiquing.  Dave the Builder gets into it, and being the fabulous parents we are we know how to bribe entertain our son while antiquing and attending auctions. We trekked the streets and shops of downtown St. Francisville until we could trek no more.  New Roads, here we come!

New Roads, Louisiana1, 23

In a glowing review of  highlights and attractions not to be missed was the story of Miss Emily.  Miss Emily was a local woman who worked the queue of vehicles waiting to board the ferry selling parched peanuts, homemade pralines and soft drinks from a large basket.  I love it!  Sitting in line waiting to drive onto the ferry goes better with an ice cold Coke, salty peanuts and a homemade praline. We continued our afternoon nosh aboard the ferry as we crossed the Mississippi River. This unique mode of transportation is now closed.  In the name of progress and moving on up, the ferry has been replaced by the  John James Audubon Bridge.  I’m glad we got the chance take a ride on it before it did.

John James Audubonvia

New Roads did not disappoint. I didn’t know what I was expecting in return from this small town, but it delivered lagniappe in a big way.  We found our way to the main part of town and hit up several antique shops.  The first shop (sorry, I can’t remember the name of any of the shops) specialized in clocks and vintage walking sticks.  Dave the Builder was in his height of glory.  We were welcomed into the shop by an older gentleman who was the owner and a lovely, lovely older lady whose greeting came in the form of  my kind of question, “champagne or fruit punch?”

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New Trad Mimosa

Our son put in his request for the fruit punch. I guess she could tell I was a little apprehensive about their comfort level with him in the shop with a goblet full of bright red fruit punch.  I knew this kid was raised in and around the biz and the dos and don’ts in shops and showrooms,  but I also knew she was not privy to this pertinent piece of information.  This lovely and wise woman handled the situation with such grace and tact.  She invited him to follow her to the butler’s pantry to help fix the drinks and slip a cookie or two.  She realized right quick she had made a new friend.  Gosh, what a great memory!  We sipped, shopped and scored two of the most unique antique walking sticks.  I wish I had them both today, but I sold them to a client the following week.  Oh well, the memory is more valuable to me than the walking sticks could ever be.

The Myrtles Mystery TourCountry Living

We found a couple of other shops and enjoyed the local fare before heading back via ferry to St. Francisville.  The timing was just right as it was barking up on sunset and coffee time. We crossed another suggested stop off our list by visiting The Magnolia Cafe.  This place is right up our alley- an unpretentious do drop inn heavy on casual fun, food and drink.

History & Haunting of the Myrtles Plantation

History & Haunting of the Myrtles Plantation

It was about that time to head out for the Myrtles Mystery Tour.  We drove up the winding driveway of The Myrtles, and the setting and timing could not have been better to set the mood and the tone for a mystery tour. The above image says it better than I can. We claimed three of the large rocking chairs on the veranda and pondered what was to come.  While the crowd and the anticipation built, certain imaginations showed signs of running away with the night.  Miss Hester, our tour guide for the evening, casually opened the front door at precisely 7:00 pm and invited the crowd of about twenty to come right on in.  Talk about playing to an attentive and crowded room!  We all gathered together in the foyer with wide eyes and listening ears.  This is where things begin to get interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional image credit: The Kitchn,  Southern Living/Robbie Caponetto

The Myrtles: Inspiration, History and Mystery

In the daily meeting with the Places In The Home creative team (me, myself and I),  quiet and centered thought brings forth ideas. Sometimes it all runs together, and at other times the ideas and interest flow like the mighty Mississippi River. There’s a world of inspiration out there folks!  I love the search, especially when it is right here at home. October is a great month for antiquing, fall road trips and home tours. We took October very serious a few years back and set out on a intrigue packed afternoon and evening fondly referred to as The Myrtles: Inspiration, History and Mystery.

antique sideboard

Working for family is a trick and a treat.  I set the tone for a blissful and professional working relationship right off the bat,  and we’re off and decorating. My brother is once again enlisting my help in redecorating his den and foyer. He didn’t realize he also wants to freshen up his dining room decor until I gently persuaded him to do so.

formal dining room

His circa 1903 home is one of the few Victorian turret architecture examples in the state. Staying true to the period is an absolute must on the exterior for historical purposes however,  I am allowed to blur the lines when it comes to the interior.  Small changes and edits keep the bottom line affordable and in check with current styles.  Changing the neutral color palette is off limits.  He loves it, and it flows with the historical aspect of the home.

table lampsclick on image to enlarge

New lamps for the sideboard and replacing the dining room chairs ( bad, very bad) is first on the list.  He has tried his best to get his hands on the balustrade lamp Dave the Builder made for me.  Dear brother, it ain’t happening.  That is the reason I sourced lamps in a more sophisticated image of  my lamp for his consideration. We will also be paying attention to new curtains or perhaps new trim for the existing ones, a new rug and lowering the artwork and framed photos. I have to consider the twelve foot ceilings, proportion of the space and overall balance when placing artwork.

Placing items and photographing the space for reference reminded me of the details surrounding the silver lazy susan with double turned malachite handles atop the sideboard.  St. Francisville, Louisiana is a charming  town rich in history and historical sites.  My brother is a history buff who really appreciates the architecture of  historical homes.  He enthusiastically believes no trip to St. Francisville is complete without a tour of The Myrtles Plantation.

The Myrtles Plantationvia

The Myrtles Plantation  is not without national media attention. Referred to as one of “America’s Most Haunted Homes”, The Myrtles has been the subject of interest, articles and television documentaries from Veranda, Travel and Leisure, The New York Times and The History Channel to the one I most remember, the visit with cameras rolling from Oprah Winfrey.  As visitors make their way up the winding driveway to the entrance of the circa 1796 Antebellum mansion, distinctive features such as the brick courtyard, double dormers and the lacy wrought iron wrapped front veranda captures the eye. I could sit on the veranda in the large rocking chairs staring out at the moss draped live oaks and lush grounds for hours.  One Saturday afternoon and evening fifteen years ago I did just that.

Photos of Myrtles Plantation, Saint Francisville

Dave the Builder, our son and I went to Baton Rouge for a working vacation.  My brother suggested we drive over to St. Francisville and New Roads to check out the sites and tour The Myrtles.  If we did tour The Myrtles he wanted me to pay close attention to the silver lazy susan in the dining room.  We bounced the idea around, decided what the heck, and off down Hwy. 61 we went.  Our first order of business when we arrived was to have  lunch at The Carriage House Restaurant at The Myrtles Plantation.

The Carriage House Restaurant at The Myrtles Plantationvia

Our waitress inquired if this was our first time to The Myrtles.  She gave us the poop scoop on the town, the shops, and the Saturday evening Myrtles Mystery Tour. The Mystery Tour is held on Friday and Saturday nights,  and is touted as the opportune time for Chloe, the reported ghost known to inhabit the house and grounds of The Myrtles, to make an appearance. Our son was captivated, my curiosity was piqued,  and Dave the Builder thought it would be a fun way to spend a Louisiana Saturday night.  I made reservations for the three of us for the 7:00 pm tour, and we left the grounds highly anticipating our return.

In part two of Three Part Harmony: Inspiration, History and Mystery I’ll tell the tale of Chloe, recount our ferry trip to New Roads and the infamous peanut lady, antiquing,  champagne punch, and the fun and fright of the Mystery Tour.

 

 

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 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 vacationvia

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.  As health conscious and diet minded as he is, he had his taste buds set for a west coast treat recently new to Texas.  More on that later.

Josh Groban concert

“The Voice” is the incomparable  Josh Groban.

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.

Josh Groban Dallas

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.

Josh Groban in concert

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Natchitoches, Louisiana: A Historical Town of Steel Magnolias, Clementine Hunter, Meat Pies and Oprah’s Best Declaration

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.

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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.  Her paintings of  picking cotton, outdoor cooking,  washing clothes, baptisms and funerals portrayed plantation life in the early 20th century.  Although most of her works are untitled the subject would be verbally described by the artist herself when asked.  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.

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. 

In 2002 Oprah Winfrey made an unannounced and very surprising  visit to Natchitoches.  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
Ingredients

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

Instructions

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