Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Positively HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015


by Mauverneen

 It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about those resolutions. Like Janus, the Roman god with two faces who looks at both past and future, we tend to do the same. Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, war and peace; the doors of his temple open in time of war and closed to mark the peace. A god of transitions, journeys and exchange.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Positively Christmas 2014

by Mauverneen

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas – this is for those who do.

Most people love decorating their homes for Christmas, from a simple tree or a candle in the window to a full blown ‘Griswold’ effect. Some are over the top, cluttering the yard with every plastic snowman, blow up santa, candy cane and gingerbread man ever made. Some are simple. Some are thrown together and some are meticulously put together, with every bulb in line. Driving around in the evening to check them out is always fun.
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Positively YIKES!

by Mauverneen


 YIKES! Christmas is a week away. A WEEK AWAY!


I’m not ready. I haven’t shopped, I haven’t baked, I haven’t  - well, I really haven’t even thought much about it.
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

POSITIVELY ILLUMINATING - part 2

 by Mauverneen

It's back for a second run! If you are anywhere near the Morton Arboretum between Nov. 21 and January 3 - This is well worth the trip! Mesmerizing and delightful, it's a great Christmas time event! Great for the family, a romantic evening out, or just to bring out the kid in yourself.


Christmas is right around the corner and malls, parks, zoos and individual homeowners are putting up holiday displays.  Trees, nativity sets, plastic snowmen – what have you.  And lights.  Lots and lots of lights. 

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois is putting on a very different kind of light show this holiday season. Called Illumination, it is a show of lights that celebrates trees in a very festive and totally different way. It is a one-of-a-kind lighting event and the first ever for the 91 year old arboretum.

 
Visitor Center and outdoor sitting area

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Positively NOLA - Beyond the Quarter

by Mauverneen


One can spend hours just circling Jackson Square and days exploring the French Quarter, which by far attracts the largest amount of tourists in New Orleans. But the city is more than that. Far more.

Frenchman Street is on the edge of the quarter and is especially busy at night when crowds spill in and out of clubs and bars where the music is good. The crowd there is young for the most part, and what might be called ‘hippies’ tend to congregate on the sidewalks in spots. But they are friendly, and fun for the most part.
 
Frenchman Street

Then of course, there is the Garden District, home to Commander’s Palace and the many mansions of the rich and sometimes the famous (such as author Anne Rice).


Gorgeous mansions
 
Commanders Palace has an excellent Jazz Brunch on weekends. If you’re in the mood to splurge this is the place. My first trip to New Orleans I took a streetcar ride down to Washington Avenue where the restaurant is a short walk off St. Charles, their blue and white striped awning an easy-to-spot landmark.
The St. Charles Streetcar

Tours of the Garden District are offered and are a good idea if you are into history and architecture. Admiring the beautiful homes is one thing, but having a little background thrown in is a definite plus! Shopping and dining options in the District are plentiful and Magazine Street is where you’ll find it.

There are plantation homes too, just outside the city. Tours are available to visit a number of them. If you have a car, a good map will get you there.

Ante bellum plantation
 Artists and writers have found inspiration in New Orleans for years. Some have lived here - Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, John Kennedy Toole, Anne Rice - to name just a few.  Many others have found the city to be the perfect setting for their novel or movie.

Food is also an art here in the Big Easy. Home of so many specialty dishes it’s mind boggling. From Beignets to Bananas Foster to Oysters and Crawfish to Eggs Benedict to Poboys to Muffalettas to Jambalaya and Gumbo to … well, I could go on and on. But you get the picture. I had the ‘Redneck Eggs’ for breakfast at Elizabeths one morning - poached eggs on Fried Green tomatoes with Hollandaise Sauce and a side of Praline Bacon. Oh. My. The Bananas Foster stuffed French Toast is delicious as well, but, um…. You’d better have a H U G E appetite if you order that!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



And although I know it won’t taste the same I had to buy a jar of olive relish to try and make Muffalettas at home. The friendly guy behind the counter at Central Grocery gave me an impromptu history of the place while he fixed and heated my sandwich. It made a mighty fine lunch with a glass of white wine.

The Gumbo Fest was in full swing the weekend I was there. Louis Armstrong Park was filled with artists, food vendors and an entertainment stage – all Free! The smoked gumbo was outstanding as was the shrimp and crawfish mac and cheese. The entertainment – from the Cajun and Zydeco to the high school marching bands – had crowds dancing. It was early November and it felt like summer, being outdoors, sampling good food and listening to good music.


And of course I have to mention the cemeteries. They are spooky, yet beautiful, and spark a wildfire in the imagination. I have driven out to Metairie and spent hours perusing some of the most beautiful tombs. This trip I stopped in at Lafayette Cemetery, across the street from Commander’s Palace. It’s not hard to see where Anne Rice likely got some of her inspiration!

Scenes in Metairie

 
Tombs in Lafayette Cemetery


Stones in a heart shape - makes me wonder -is someone paying respect or is there a little voodoo going on here???
There are other neighborhoods and other tourist attractions I have yet to see – and I can’t wait to get back and check out a few more.

Although I did not get my fortune told in Jackson Square while I was there, I think I see another visit to the Crescent City in my future. Soon. Very soon!

As always, words and photos are my own, and require permission to reprint.
However, feel free to share the blog in it's entirety. In fact, I encourage it!
 
Interested in photo prints? Contact me! maureenblevins@yahoo.com
and visit my website: http://mauverneen.com