Trip to New Orleans

Back in the fall I took a blogging break. During that break, my youngest son got married. Yes, my baby. He and his bride married in New Orleans, Louisiana at a small private wedding in the courtyard of the Place d’ Armes hotel. The newlyweds boarded the Carnival Dream cruise ship the following day for a 7-day Caribbean honeymoon Cruise which they thoroughly enjoyed. We were thankful that the very busy hurricane season that we had been eyeing so anxiously for many weeks did not affect their wedding or honeymoon cruise at all. Whew!

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The newly married couple

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Honeymoon bound on the Carnival Dream.  On the Mississippi heading towards the Gulf

carnival-cruise-line-carnival-dream-exterior-02-galleryMy husband, oldest son, and I flew to NOLA for the wedding with a couple who are dear friends of ours and who travel to New Orleans about twice a year. They love it there. I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans and so I finally got to. I had been told that everyone needs to see New Orleans at least once. While it was a good trip and I’m glad I got to see it, I guess you could say New Orleans was not quite what I had visualized in my mind. My oldest son and I had thought there would be more jazz bands and jazz music everywhere but surprisingly, there wasn’t. And hey New Orleans, what’s up with not having sweet tea?!

I did not read or research much about New Orleans before I went since the couple we traveled with both go there so often and know it well. What I did keep reading over and over was how hot and humid it was going to be (yes, even at the end of September). And  it most definitely was. The hottest day was of course the wedding day! But you know what? It was not one bit hotter or more humid there than it was in dear ole Tennessee where I’ve lived all my life. I’m very used to heat and humidity and though I don’t particularly LIKE it, I’m quite used to it. In fact, it was hotter and more humid in Tennessee when we returned home. So yes, New Orleans was blazing hot and humid but not really any more than Tennessee was.

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DSCF8465Though others had tried to give me fair warning about New Orleans and its ahem… variety of smells, that was something I just had to experience for myself to truly understand what they were talking about. Yes, New Orleans is a smelly city. It smells mostly like hot garbage. And vomit. And marijuana. And urine. And horse manure. After a short stroll down Bourbon street the first night there, I asked my friend if marijuana was legal there and he laughed and said NO! You could have fooled me! Bourbon street was all torn up as they were rebuilding the street’s infrastructure to help with drainage, flooding, etc. So there was fencing up on both sides of the street with black barriers obstructing the view to the opposite side. The fencing narrowed the sidewalks (which are ordinarily quite narrow anyway). After 2-3 blocks of strolling down a very crowded Bourbon street and having more than one inebriated individual fall into me as they struggled to walk, I decided I had seen enough. I’ll just say Bourbon street is not the life for me. I’m glad I saw it, have always wanted to see it, it but I didn’t care for it. And yes, it’s true that you do have to watch where you walk in New Orleans. What? You’ve never heard of the vomit strewn streets of New Orleans? Google it if you don’t believe me.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t always feel real safe walking around in New Orleans at night. Seeing the following video of two tourists getting violently sucker punched and robbed on our local news just weeks before we traveled there sure didn’t help matters much. I constantly looked over my shoulder and I didn’t feel safe carrying a purse there.

Our friends told us you just have to be vigilant and careful as to where you go at night, stay alert, and stay with crowds.

We stayed in the French Quarter for the four nights we were there. When you’re strolling the sidewalks and look up in the trees lining those sidewalks, you see lots of Mardi Gras beads. That was interesting to me and quite festive. You could tell that some of those beads had hung there for many, many years. I kinda liked seeing those.

mardi-gras-2606491_960_720I loved seeing the St. Louis Cathedral, both inside and out. It is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. The first night there we walked around Jackson Square. I was surprised by all the soothsayers who had set up shop right in front of the cathedral. I was also surprised at the number of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. The second night we were there, we walked to the backside of the cathedral and saw the statue of Jesus with His arms outstretched. The floodlights at night project the shadow of Jesus onto the cathedral which was pretty amazing to see. If you ever go to New Orleans, don’t miss that. I thought the inside of the cathedral was just beautiful. I have to say, seeing the cathedral and the Jesus shadow at night were two of  my most favorite “things” about New Orleans.

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St. Louis Cathedral

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Jesus Shadow on back of St. Louis Cathedral

I’ve always heard that some people travel to New Orleans just for the food. We definitely ate good while there. We enjoyed Antoine’s, The Court of Two Sisters, The Gumbo Shop, Mr. B’s Bistro, Royal House, Acme Oyster House, Cafe Maspero, and Cafe Beignet. There were a couple of other places that we ate lunch at but their names have left my brain. I didn’t have a bad meal while there and had some scrumptious bread pudding a couple of nights. I have a shellfish allergy so I didn’t dare try the oysters but my son and husband did and liked them. I had a killer Po Boy at Acme Oyster House for lunch and tasted my son’s Jambalaya and it was delicious as well. I had every intention of going to Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets and coffee (our hotel was just down the street) but somehow I never made it and I’m still kicking myself for that. My oldest son braved the lines the last morning we were there to get some beignets.

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The night of the wedding our friends took us to The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone for Hurricanes. That was one busy place. The hotel was lovely. We did hear some live jazz music there.

Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
The rotating Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone

We visited the aquarium which was fun and educational. Another day, while my friend and I shopped on Royal street and the French Market, her hubby and my hubby and son visited the WWII museum which they really enjoyed.

We stayed at the Historic French Market Inn which is in the central French Quarter of New Orleans and dates back to the 1800s. It’s old people, but that’s what made it interesting to stay there. Yes, interesting to say the least. I learned after we returned home that The French Market Inn is rumored to be haunted and I decided it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know that little tidbit of information when I was staying there. But then again, isn’t just about everything in New Orleans haunted? At nights we enjoyed sitting and soaking our tired feet in the little garden pool in the quaint little courtyard. At night the courtyard is lit by gas lanterns. Oh how I loved those rustic little lanterns!

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French Market Inn Lobby

French Market Inn lobby

French Market Inn Courtyard garden pool

Garden pool in the courtyard at French Market Inn

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Loved this little pool.  My friend and I decided we want one just like it in our backyards. Girls can dream can’t they?

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The Courtyard at French Market Inn (This is where we spent late evenings before bedtime)

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Gas lantern by the pool

We couldn’t leave New Orleans without getting pralines, so we went to Southern Candymakers as my friend assured me they had the best pralines in all of New Orleans. I do believe she was right! We sampled the original creamy pralines (made fresh every day) and it was like eating a little bit of heaven. So good! Needless to say we came home with a box of those. And unfortunately, they didn’t last long. They also had delicious praline ice cream which yours truly enjoyed tremendously. If you’re ever in New Orleans, don’t pass up this candy store!

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Original Creamy praline at Southern Candymakers.  There are no words.

So that was my trip to New Orleans. It’s a lively place and the people there are friendly. What about you?  Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your experience like?

Gail ♥  

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My Top 5 Favorite Christmas CDs

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This time of year, I usually listen to my favorite radio station which plays nothing but Christmas music from Thanksgiving through Christmas. When the radio isn’t on, I usually have a Christmas CD playing. I’m one of those who never gets tired of listening to Christmas music.

Celine Dion: These Are Special Times

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Josh Groban: Noel

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Barbra Streisand: A Christmas Album

 

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Amy Grant:  A Christmas Album

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Tennessee Christmas is my favorite of course!

Michael Bublé: Christmas

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Gail 

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Bliss

Tonight my two sisters and I had our annual Sister Christmas outing, something we’ve tried to do every year since our mother died. We’ve been to Christmas plays, concerts, musicals, ballets, and The Rockettes.

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This year’s outing was to the Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, which is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee. This beautiful Victorian Gothic style cathedral was built from 1887-1894.

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It was pure heavenly bliss sitting in that cathedral tonight listening to that beautiful pipe organ and the choir sing those glorious carols. I had a serene calm feeling as I felt my body relax and unwind from the hectic hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.

After the Lessons and Carols, we dined at The Old Spaghetti Factory on 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville. Good food in a good atmosphere. Although we were told there would be a wait time of about an hour, we only had to wait about 35 minutes. And I’ll mention that The Old Spaghetti Factory is always worth the wait!

Gail ♥ 

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Sunday Glory- Third Sunday of Advent

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Third Sunday of Advent

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent, BCP

Gail 

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Things I’m Loving These Days

 Nativity

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I bought this nativity from a school fundraiser catalog many, many years ago when my nephew was in elementary school (he’s 32 now). It’s plain and was low-priced, but you know what? I love it. It brings me peace at Christmas time and it signifies what this season is all about. I haven’t put it out since getting my kittens three years ago for fear that they would break it, but I’ve missed it and so this year I got it out. So far so good. For many years now, I’ve wanted to buy myself a bigger and more elegant nativity set, but as the years go by, I think I’m kinda attached to this little one.

Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea

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This is like drinking hot spiced apple cider. Yum! It warms a body up on a cold fall night!

Celine Dion and the Canadian Tenors singing Hallelujah 

This aired on the Oprah Winfrey show in February of 2010. Love the song, love the Canadian Tenors and LOVE Celine Dion (in case you haven’t noticed).

Finding Peace: God’s Promise of a Life Free from Regret, Anxiety, and Fear– by Charles Stanley

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This has been the perfect book for Advent reading. I came across this book in a Goodwill and snatched it right up. It’s the second book I’ve read by Charles Stanley and I love his writing. I’ll admit, peace has alluded me lately, with all the political unrest going on in our world today, as well as what seems to me an unfortunate increase in the spewing of hatred all over the Internet. This book is helping me find much-needed peace. Highly recommended!

True Lemon/True Lime

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I recently had an experience with a small kidney stone (lucky me) and so I’ve been drinking lots more water. I came across this product in the grocery store and decided to give it a try. It’s packets of crystallized real lemon/lime (it also comes in orange and grapefruit). One packet is equivalent to one citrus wedge. It makes water taste so refreshing with that fresh-squeezed taste.  And it’s all natural with no additives and zero calories. I’ve been drinking a lot more water since discovering this product. And I need all the help I can get in that regard.

Gail ♥ 

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Magical Moment

I could never tire of listening to this duet between Celine Dion and Josh Groban singing the song, “The Prayer.”  It has to be one of the most exquisite duets ever performed.  They have a definite voice chemistry together.  SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL.  I like the Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli version too but this one moves me more for some reason.

Gail 

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What My Cats Love Most About the Christmas Season

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It’s all about the paper and boxes people.

Gail 

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