The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience 2016

A couple of weeks ago, the Hubs and I were laying in bed about to doze off when he suddenly said, "Hey, how would you like to go to the Napa Wine, Food and Music Festival"?  Well, I would LOVE that!  Until, that is, I found out it was Memorial Day Weekend and that was only a short time away AND I was pretty sure the flights (and points) would be high if there were any left at all...not to mention being able to find a reasonable place to stay.  So, although that sounded REALLY nice, he searched around and guess what he found?  Our very own state hosts an annual wine and food event too!  Yep...New Orleans was having their Wine and Food Experiencet that very same weekend.  It was within driving distance and there were plenty of rooms available so we made the plan to head that way Friday morning.

Well, it might have only been a three hour drive from our house to New Orleans but the holiday weekend had the traffic jammed up terribly.  That and us getting a little later start that day had me worried that we might miss our first event, which was the Royal Street Stroll.  We actually pulled up in time to check into our hotel, hop in a cab and join the fun down on Royal Street.  There were food and wine venders set up all down the street and along with some music and a little parade, we had a GREAT time!
 Yep, I know it was a "wine" and food event but Stella Artois and a couple other drink companies were there as well.  I don't drink beer but Hubby wanted the glasses so...
 We gave them our tickets and they gave us a wine glass and wrist band, which entitled us to eat and drink to our heart's content!
 Wow was the food ever yummy, too;  It was all provided by local restaurants.  The wines were from vineyards all over and we got to taste some really good ones.  In addition to all of that, the weather was PERFECT for an outdoor event that evening.  WIN, WIN, WIN!

     After we had our fill, we hopped on a bicycle taxi and had him drop us off at our hotel.
As long as I've been coming to New Orleans, I've wanted one of these guys to ride me around on their bicycle taxi and that night I finally got to experience it!  I am truly amazed that these guys can pedal that much weight around...imagine the muscles in their legs!

We called it a night because Saturday was going to be a big day for us.  There were so many events to choose from that we just basically picked a few out of a hat and The Royal Street Stroll was awesome!  Saturday we planned to participate in three separate events, starting with Women, Wine and Wagu.
This event was not just for women, although I wondered at first.  It was the head chef from Brennan's Steak House (a woman) and the sommelier who was also a woman with the local wagu cattle farmer to tell us a little bit about this type of beef and taste some prepared dishes, paired with wines.  As you can see, there were seven different wines we tasted and the beef?  OUT.  OF.  THIS.  WORLD!  Best beef I have ever tasted.  We really enjoyed this seminar and I would definitely do another one like it next year (Yep...I think this is going to be an annual tradition for us!).

Later that evening, we went to The Grand Tasting.  This was held in the convention center and was UNBELIEVABLE!  There were about 1,000 food and wine venders there with SO MUCH for us to taste.  There were tables set up and little lounging areas with live music being played and even a cooking competition going on...
   This backdrop was set up just outside the door before you entered The Grand Tasting Event.
Once we entered the doors, there was so much activity.  Food and wine was set up everywhere and let me just tell you really need to pace yourself here!
           This is dark chocolate covered bacon with nuts on it and a cream filled strawberry.

 Can you see these little plates?  You got another wine glass upon entering this event and this little plate that held your wine glass.  I think I need some of these for my next party!
While I am shellfish allergic and could not try some foods, Hubby could and said they were wonderful.
Here's a shot of the cooking competition.  There was a commentator who spoke while the chefs were preparing dishes.  It was a timed competition and there was seating where one could sit and sip their wine while watching.  Pretty cool since cooking shows are really the "thing" these days.
We made our exit and went back to our hotel (which was just across the street) for the last event we had signed up for:  The Big Gateaux Show.

The Big Gateaux Show was the dessert competition.  It was actually a burlesque show and the cake competition was inspired by four of the dancers.
Each dancer stood on a pedestal next to the cake that was inspired by her.  Then, beside each cake was a table with several cupcakes or cupcake like desserts that we could taste.
                                    This is the cake the above dancer was the inspiration for.

 See that little jar with the coins in it?  Each person entering was given a token to place in the jar of their favorite dessert table.  At the end of the night, a People's Choice Award was given to that pastry chef.

The weekend at The New Orleans Wine and Food Event was great.  Louisiana has so many festivals but I never knew about this particular event that has been going on for years.  I'm really glad that we found it because we now plan to put this on our calendar each year and invite friends along!


My Mother's Daylilies: More Than Just Flowers

Flowers have been my mother's passion for the whole of her life.  It was flowers that helped her grieve the loss of my father. It was flowers that took her through all the different passages of her life.  And now, as I reflect on those flowers, I finally understand what the flowers meant to her; they were more than just flowers.

We all have passions or hobbies in life, or at least I believe one should.  Something that releases your mind from its worries.  Something that puts a smile on your face and makes your heart light.  For me, that is knitting.  I really love to sit down with my needles and yarn and almost immediately begin to feel my mood lighten.  For my mother, it has always been her flowers.

She always had the prettiest yard in the neighborhood.  Almost every single day one could find her on her hands and knees either weeding a flower bed or planting some new cutting she had come across.  And did she ever have a green thumb.  Whatever she put in the ground grew.  Once she took a piece of a rose that my husband brought me from his mother's rose garden when we were dating.  Today it is a beautiful rose bush in her own yard.

I watched my mother tend her flowers and care for them as one would tend to a small child.  She watered them in the hot southern summers, put pine straw around them in the fall and ran out to cover them if a freeze was in the forecast.  I watched her then,  but I never truly understood.  What I didn't understand was that the flowers were her way of dealing with life.  They made stressful situations more calm, long days shorter;  she created something of beauty whenever things were not so beautiful in her world.

As my mother has aged and her physical abilities are now limited,  she often longs to get her hands into the dirt to tend those flowers.  She worries about them; they are constantly on her mind.  Do they have enough water?  Are the weeds taking over?  She thinks about these and many other things as she sits in her chair,  unable to do so many tasks now.  And because of these things, I am so grateful that I now have some of her flowers growing in my own flowerbeds.

Whenever we built this house, about eleven years ago, my mother insisted that I come dig up some of her daylilies and other flowers to put in my own yard.  I did it, of course, but it was no big deal to me at the time.  However, yesterday, before the rain set in, I noticed that my daylilies were blooming.  That's when I took a moment to walk out and look at them.  They were absolutely beautiful!  That's when it hit me.  I won't always have my mother around,  but each year when my daylilies bloom, I will have her with me.  It was a sad, yet comforting moment for me.  Life is funny like that.  It slips up on you and that's when your realize how precious it really is.


Signed Children's Book Giveaway!

If you are here, you can see that I have been working with a designer to update the design of my blog.  How do you like it??  And how about that byline?  I invite you to check everything out, however, some of the sections do not have content added yet since it was just completed last week.

And because I am celebrating having this new design up and running, I am going to do a GIVEAWAY!!  Yep, and it's one that you don't want to miss out on; it's for your little one.  If you will click on "Books I've Written", you will find the children's book I have written.  I am going to GIVE AWAY 3 of these books in hardcover, signed by me to your child!

To get in on this GIVEAWAY here is all you have to do:

1.  Click on "Join this site" and enter you information. (No one will see this information!)
2.  Leave a comment on THIS post telling me that you have joined and are entering the GIVEAWAY.
3.  Tell your friends about the GIVEAWAY...The more the merrier!
4.  Check back NEXT MONDAY, MAY 23rd to see who the winners are.  (I will also announce the

Now, a little more about the book.  There is also a version of the book you can download for your child on the I-Pad and it's pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.  You can choose to read it to your child or there is an option where the book can be read to the child.  There are also color and puzzle pages.  This book is perfect for children who love rhyming and there are lots of concepts that can be taught from a learning standpoint.  It is my first book and I am currently working on another book for a little older child but I really hope that you will join this GIVEAWAY so you can share this book with your little one!



OK, so I have been holding out on you but only because I was sworn to secrecy.  OUR TRIBE will be increasing yet again in late November as Justin, Sarah, Parker Ann and Lila Kate will add a new baby to their family!
And what's more...They have decided not to find out the sex of the baby this time around!  That will be a first for all of us since that hasn't happened since I had my kids.  How excited we are to add NUMBER 8 to our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY!!!