Av and I stayed for the first time at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. It's on the 300 block of Bourbon Street, and it's really lovely.
The bed was a really comfortable pillowtop, and there was a large flat-screen television in the room, too.
One of the nice things about our room was that these french doors opened out to the courtyard.
This is downstairs in the lobby:
...and this is the area where the valet brings the car around:
Av and I stayed for the first time at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. It's on the 300 block of Bourbon Street, and it's really lovely.
The last time we ate at Drago's was October 4, 2005. They were on day 24 and we were two of over 47,000 they had served (see on the sign where it says "without FEMA help"?). They wouldn't take our (or anyone else's) money. You know how there are times when you are reminded that the world is just teeming with beautiful, generous people? This was one of those days:
This time, we were all under better circumstances.
Av had their gumbo:
...and I had a half-dozen charbroiled oysters.
Ohmygoodness. They were *amazing*. The best, ever. Ever.
They were so good, I took two pictures!
My entree was the duck:
...and Av had the seafood plate:
...and we had them box up half our entrees so we could nibble on bread pudding:
This was our first time to stay at the Place d'Armes in the Quarter. It's not a chain, and it's supposed to be more...quaint and historic than some of the other hotels around. Rather than just one building, the hotel is made up of five or so separate buildings around a central courtyard. Although Av and I have our favorites in New Orleans (the Ritz, the W, and the Monteleone), we still like to try new hotels. I had high hopes for this one.
Until I saw the room.
The bed was just flat (and so were the pillows). When I changed into my pj's and went around the side of the bed to take the bedspread off the bed, my feet got wet because the air conditioning unit was leaking. Yuck!
Anyway, we decided we could manage it one night (since it was pretty late anyway), but we checked out early the next day.
It's really a shame, because the surroundings are so pretty!
The pool is small but gorgeous:
...and it really has just SO much potential. I mean, can you get much more beautiful than this stairway?:
...maybe we just got one of the last (worst) rooms that evening, since we were so late coming in. Some of the other rooms from their website look so much prettier & nicer!
We had such a great time at the Saints game!
This was a pre-season game, and it was held in Jackson, MS at Millsaps. Traffic was c-r-a-z-y because they didn't have enough people working, but the nice thing was that some of the houses on the street we were on decorated for the game:
We were wondering who we would get to see play, since this was a pre-season game, but Peyton Manning quarterbacked for the Colts most of the game. We got to see a lot of Dante Stallworth, Deuce McAllister, and Reggie Bush for the Saints. I was really hoping that we'd get to see Reggie Bush do something great, but it just wasn't a very good night for the Saints (we lost 27-14).
One of the very neatest things about the game was that the 'Sonic Boom of the South' - the Jackson State band - played during halftime. This isn't a great video (when my camera doesn't know what to focus on in movie-mode, it focuses in and out - but the very best part of this is what the announcer says):
"...and the most delightful and delectable sights and sounds available to any audience any time, and any where. Friends, it's the apex of excellence..."
There's another good movie of Jackson State on their website here, from when they opened the 34th Annual Image Awards.
They were sooo good!
The Saints did better in the second half, but we couldn't catch up in time.
We loved the game, though!
Av and I are big readers. The funny thing is, we hardly ever read the same things. Even with newspapers, Av reads the big-city papers and I subscribe to The Advertiser-Gleam.
I love the A-G. The only news they cover is news from their particular area (Guntersville / Marshall County, AL). If it happened the next county over, you won't find it in the A-G.
On the front page of last Wednesday's paper, there was an article with a picture of a man holding a rattlesnake skin, telling that it would "hang in the Guntersville Public Libary for awhile."
The story starts:
Fred Lanting loves rattlesnakes. He says they're delicious.Then it goes on to say how Fred prepared the rattlesnake.
Knowing that Fred eats rattlers, his neighbor at Parches Cove got out of his car and killed a big one when he saw it crossing the road. He dispatched the snake with a large stick and a blow to the head.
Anyway, I have a crush on this paper. In the classifieds a couple of weeks ago, they had this notice:
The thing that gets me is...they note that the bird was "headed south."
The A-G is known for writing great obits of the everyday citizens of Marshall County. I generally don't read obits, just because I make an effort to avoid bad news, but every now and then I catch one that talks about the idiosyncrasies of a particular person, the things that made them unique and wonderful in life. Those are good.
Back in July, I was reading one of the independent papers from Baton Rouge, and in the editor's letter, he mentioned that he had lost a very dear friend, and he printed the obit. This has to be the best one, ever. It's long, but it's a wonderful account of who the person is.
Ann O’Brien is now playing with my dead dogs, cats, her grandparents, Carmen and Leandre Marechal and Mary and William O’Brien, her Uncle Rene Marechal, her dear friend Elliot Snellings, other family members, my parents, friends, and total strangers, because that was the kind of person she was and still is.
Ann is survived by her wacky but loving husband, John Preble, and sons, Andrew and William Preble, of Abita Springs. She is also survived by her parents Alyce “the storyteller” and Charlie “God-Loves-You” O’Brien of Covington along with her sisters, Christine Lozes and her husband Bill and their children, Brian and Allison, of Covington, Betsy O’Brien of Washington D.C., brothers Michael O’Brien of Folsom and his children Wesley of New York and Chris of New Orleans, and David O’Brien and his wife Lillian and children Maegan and Sean, of Mandeville. She is further survived by her mother and father-in-law, Marie-Louise and Warren Preble, her brother-in law Warren Preble and his friend Lillian, Uncle Paul “Brother Elias” Marechal, and Uncles Willam and Edward O’Brien and their families. And oh-my-gosh so many friends, more friends than anyone I’ve ever known, at least two thousand six hundred and forty-nine of them, including myself, Francie Rich, and my husband John Hodge, and others who can’t be listed because they didn’t pay to have their names listed in this obituary.
Ann O’Brien was born on a really poor sharecropper’s farm in Oklahoma…skip that part, I’m saving that for my obituary. Ann graduated from St. Scholastica Academy in Covington and, as long-time SSA teacher Alyce O’Brien remembered her, she was a “pleasant child, with street smarts instead of book smarts.” Oh, I’m sorry, she was referring to Cathy Deano, not Ann. Ann studied painting and got her BFA at LSU before becoming the famous jeweler she is today. She was a president of the Louisiana Crafts Council, a member of the Rhino Gallery in New Orleans, the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild and a host of other organizations. Her work has appeared in national publications and has been exhibited in fine crafts shops around the country. As Ann perfected her craft she also perfected the craft of helping other artists sell their work. In addition to her own work and helping other artists, she has done extensive volunteer work with children. She also worked as an artist-in-residence in St. Tammany Parish schools and as a tutor at Mercy Family Center in Mandeville. She and her husband, John Preble, founded the UCM Museum in Abita Springs, where Ann loved leading the Push Mow Parade on her bicycle.
She traveled with her grandparents to Europe as a child and made yearly visits to Uncle Paul at the Trappist monastery near Atlanta and to Navarre Beach, Florida. Ann didn’t like to be alone and she never was and isn’t now.
Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year. She never liked going to doctors but ended up caring deeply for her doctors, Drs. Carinder, McCormick, Saux, Suarez, Groves, Seicshnaydre, Ehrensing, Bobrowski, and Torcson. Her hospital room was party central and the place to be. Ann’s illness turned out to be an incredible gift to her family and friends. Her room was always full of laughter, love and joy. Personally I’m not one for large group gatherings, but I loved going to see her in the hospital and at her parents’ house, where her mother would tell fabulous stories and I met old and new, all wonderful people who have enriched my life.
Whenever Ann called she would say, “Hi, this is Ann O’Brien,” as if her thin shaky voice and caller ID didn’t give her away. She didn’t like change, so dying is a major step for her. She laughed easily, could talk about anything to anyone and her only fault was that she never talked ugly about anyone. She is the epitome of a gentle soul even when she got mad at John Preble, which to know him is to get mad at him. She was kind and generous and we are still expecting great things from her.
Ann treasured the trees on her property in Abita Springs. She would often give us plants and trees and office supplies for Christmas gifts. Hurricane Katrina took most of her trees in Abita. Maybe she went to be with them. Many of us will think of Ann when we see camellias, azaleas, and trees.
One consolation of dying young is having a large funeral, and anyone who could figure out a way to sell tickets to Ann’s would be set up for life. John Hodge had a dream at the moment Ann died. Ann was driving a truck in Mexico then riding a bicycle with flowing skirts. He kept thinking, “doesn’t anyone know she is sick?” She fell off her bicycle and everyone “tackled” her with love. When it’s your turn to go, be sure to look for Ann if she’s not already at the entrance waiting for you. My only regret is that Ann didn’t have a goofy nickname.
Please feel free to send flowers, plants, or trees, or send donations in Ann’s memory to the Leonard C. Thomas Hematology and Oncology Specialists Foundation, 339 Starburst Circle, Covington, LA 70433, (985) 892-9090.Relatives, friends and total strangers are invited to attend the Memorial Mass at St. Benedict Catholic Church, 20307 Smith Road, Covington, LA 70435, at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, July 3, 2006. E.J. Fielding & Sons is in charge of arrangements.
..."she was kind and generous and we are still expecting good things from her."
Besides the nightlights I made with Shrinky Dinks last week, I also made some magnets!
What you'll need for ones made on the computer:
Shrinky Dink inkjet paper
computer, software like Photoshop, printer
oven preheated to 300*
paper sack cut to fit cookie sheet
paper towels for sprinkling embossing powder
magnets for the size SD you make
hot glue gun, glue
For complete instructions on making SDs print on the computer, see the previous project I did.
Here, I've printed out some ads for one of Av's favorite beers onto Shrinky Dink inkjet paper:
Cut them out, put them on a paper-sack lined cookie sheet in a preheated 300* oven:
..and once they were done (about four minutes) and cool enough to touch, I put them on a paper towel:
Below, I've sprinkled them all over with clear embossing powder (the embossing powder melts in the oven and makes a nice, thick, clear layer over the top of the SD):
I put them back in the 300* oven, and they came out nice and shiny (it took 3-4 minutes for all the embossing powder to melt in the oven):
So pretty! I decided to put magnets on these so Av can put them wherever he likes:
The next shrinky-dink I did on SD inkjet paper was one based on this crazy chicken El Camino that Av and I saw in Irvington, Alabama:
That car is so funny! I love it!
So I printed it on SD inkjet, cut it out:
...and went through the same process (shinking in the oven, then covering with embossing powder, then back in the oven for the embossing powder to melt). Once it was cool enough to handle, I put a magnet on the back with my hot glue gun:
...and it looks so great & funny!
I also made a SD magnet with a picture I made of our cousin's cat, and I just know that will make her *so incredibly happy* when I give it to her! I think these will be great for no-particular-occasion gift-giving!
This recipe for Summery Lemon Chicken is loosely based on the one in the Foster's Market Cookbook for Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Artichokes, Lemons, and Capers.
Ingredients (for two servings):
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
a little fresh or dried thyme
flour to dip the chicken in
1 14oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 c. drained capers
1/2 lemon, sliced into circles
1/2 cup white rice
1-1/3 cup chicken broth
First, I flattened the chicken to make it a uniform, about a 1/2" thick piece each, by wrapping it between sheets of parchment (or you could use Saran if you like) and pounding with a rolling pin.
Each piece was dipped into flour and shaken to remove excess, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
Over medium-high heat in a large, high-walled skillet, I heated enough olive oil to sautee the chicken in. Once the oil was hot enough, I added the chicken, sprinkled thyme over each piece, and sauteed them on both sides (about four minutes on each side).
Next, I added the lemons, artichokes, and capers and let those cook together for a minute. I took the chicken out of the skillet and put it on a plate to keep warm:
To the artichokes/lemons/capers, I added the 1-1/3 cup chicken stock and brought everything up to a boil. Next, I added the 1/2 cup rice to the pan, put the lid on the pan, and cooked over low heat for 20 minutes:
After twenty or so minutes, the rice was just almost done. I removed the lid and added the chicken back to the pan (leave the lid off). After another five minutes, the rice was perfect and all the flavors had blended really well:
All done! The chicken was really moist and the flavors were nice and bright and summery. Yum!
I received the second issue of Blueprint - the new magazine from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia - yesterday in the mail.
It's so much better than the first issue! It's wonderful!
The first section of the magazine is called 'Perimeter: Personal Style from Every Angle.' It's great. It's just one little find after another - from clever things to buy to clever things to make or repurpose. One of the projects is a simple and neat way to organize and charge cell phones/Blackberries/iPods without having cords show everywhere. That one I'm definitely going to do.
My favorite sections were: a section on putting houseplants in large see-through glass containers, a skin-care expert's recommendations (I love that one of her picks was the huge jar of Cetaphil moisturizing cream), healthy choices (like the nutritional differences between dairy and soy, red and white wine, olive oil and canola), and ideas for a wine tasting party.
The least helpful section is maybe the etiquette feature. Doesn't everyone know not to, at the gym, "dangle your gym duffel from one handle of the elliptical machine, your two-foot-wide work tote from the other. Drop your coat, scart, umbrella, and paper shopping bag in a heap resembling a snowman."?
Overall, the contents are great...especially at the wine tasting party where they make a red wine glass stain at each (brown paper) placesetting, with a guest's name written inside, rather than the usual card. Love that!
I got an email last week from John Ciba, who just released a compilation of rare soul recordings from Birmingham - it's called "The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill, Vol. 1." and he mentioned that he thanked me (thanked me!!!) in the liner notes of the cd for Deep Fried Kudzu. He said that DFK helped him with his travels here in the South, and that he hoped I would be okay with that.
Um, of course that's okay!!
I got my copy at a local independent record store (it really is a record store - it's been there forever and they have tons of vinyl!), and when I looked for it just now online, I could only find one copy at Amazon. I'm not sure about the distribution at the big stores, but any independent shop can get it if they don't have it stocked - the label is: The Rabbit Factory, Inc. and the ASIN is: B000HQ2NRA.
The cover story in Birmingham Weekly this past week was "Soul Revival: With a Little Help from Chicago, Birmingham's Soul is Back" and it's about the first show in Chicago:
In Chicago, Otis Clay climbed on stage to thrill the crowd with a hilarious rendition of “Baby, I Love You,” that he and Robinson sang back and forth to each other, softer and softer, until, finally, Robinson deadpanned “pucker up your lips.”
The crowd fell apart.
This past weekend, they brought the show home to Birmingham, where they played at Bottletree Cafe (read the MySpace post from Bottletree here about the show). I would have done anything to be there! There are pics on Flickr from the B'ham show here.
I got the cd and it's great - my favorite is the first track, 'Specify':
You take the high road. I'll take the low.
Giving you all of my love, giving you all of my soul.
Day in, day out, I'm trying desperately to do what I can, to be the one you want me to be.
All you got to do...oh baby...
I just found out that Andrew Dietz, author of The Last Folk Hero, is at Folk Fest in Atlanta right now signing copies of his book.
Back in June, I wrote about TLFH - if you have the chance, definitely get it. If you're anywhere close to Atlanta, this weekend is a great opportunity to see the work of many of the people in the book, and to meet the author and get a signed copy.
The AJC has another article about Folk Fest here and here (where they mention that there will be no new works by either Mose T or Jimmy Lee Sudduth shown this year). This article mentions the market value of the two artists' work.
Origins makes some of the most wonderful body scrubs...I got started on the Salt Rub and then the Ginger Salt Scrub, and now I like the spreadable scrubs! This is also my favorite part of getting a manicure or pedicure...and it's so easy to make it at home.
This is a two-part project - the first is making the scrub and the second is embellishing the jars.
This is the recipe I made up:
Organic Brown Sugar
Turbinado (it's a brown sugar that is "crystallized from the initial pressing of sugar cane")
Organic Safflower Oil (or you can use avocado, soybean, olive, or your favorite oil)
Essential Oil (I used grapefruit for this batch, but use whatever scent you like. I got mine at Whole Foods (in New Orleans) where they have a good selection, or you can buy them online too)
Jars - any size. I got mine at Hobby Lobby (see pic, further below)
Depending on how much you feel like making, here are the proportions I use:
1 cup of brown sugar to 1 cup turbinado. As much safflower oil to make it come together but not be overly oily, and as many dashes of essential oil to make it as strong or as subtle a scent as you enjoy. Take a little of the first batch to the bathroom and rub on hands/arms/elbows. If it's a nice texture - buffs and leaves your skin glowing and soft - it's perfect. You can tell if it needs a little more or a little less of something.
I make one small batch at a time - this is one cup brown sugar and one cup turbinado:
The nice thing about these two sugars together is that the turbinado is a larger grain, which is good for buffing:
Once I've added the safflower oil and essential oil and have it to the consistency I like, I get out my jars. I like these jars because of the way they seal (and the Origins salt rub containers are like this, only bigger, and they are great). I got these at Hobby Lobby for $1.33/ea and they hold about 1/2 cup of sugar scrub each. This is the perfect size for gift-giving:
Here's my first one:
...and a bunch of them - I just think the brown sugar makes it so pretty:
Now they're just missing some embellishment:
Scrapbook paper in any design(s) you like
Round Hole Punch (my 2-/18" punch was perfect for these jars)
Embroidery Thread, and Needle
Pen or Fine Marker (to write on tag)
...I punched out the scrapbook paper - put some Mod Podge on the lid, added the circle:
...then added more Mod Podge on top (I used the glossy MP). I get a little crazy with MP, but I love it! I dries perfectly clear, so you can go overboard a little if you like!:
Here are the jars, dry - now I just needed to make tags for them. I got out my tag punch and more scrapbook paper:
...cut the tag shapes out. Now is a good time to write what's inside and who you're giving it to on the tag:
I took my needle and puched a little hole in the top of the tag, then threaded a little embroidery thread on and through:
...tied it to the opener, and it was all done!