Goin’ Up on a Tuesday…

Mardi Gras is my absolute favorite time of the year.  The smells of burgers and chicken wings sizzling on the grills, the smell of jambalaya and gumbo simmering in the cast iron pots, the sounds of King Kooker burners heating up the crawfish pots, children, laughing,  and street vendors calling out, “Hats! Clickers! Glow Toys!”.   It is the one time of year that we come together as a city.  We all have one thing in common.  The love for a big party and big beads.  Whether it is a party with a family atmosphere or a little bit on the wild side, it is a time for traditions.  It is a time when we all come together with great appreciation for costumes, beads, parades and King Cakes.

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We own a home that is one block off of the St. Charles Avenue parade route.  This allows us to invite all of our friends over to catch all of the parades on the biggest weekend of the season, the weekend before Mardi Gras Day.   But, the excitement begins way before that weekend.  We all cook and we cook a lot.  The first step is getting a list together of what everyone is bringing from the drinks to the food.  We have everything from water to jello shots (yes), chipsand muffalettas to pastalaya (it is just like jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice). I always try to throw in some fruit here and there, but the Nonna Randazzo King Cake usually beats out the fruit.  Can’t blame a girl for trying…

Next, we shop.  We shop for food, clothes (always trying to out do each other and our outfits of choice from the year before), decorations, and household necessities (i.e., tp, paper towels, hand soap, cups, ibuprofen, first aid, paper plates, etc.).  Once the shopping is complete then we head to the house, to unload, decorate and organize.

Once we have completed the shopping we lay down floor protection in our house.  This year we decided to follow our Lowe’s salesman’s advice and use Ram Board to cover our floors.  This floor protection tough and durable.  It is a heavy duty temporary floor covering that protected our floors completely from all of the elements and hard soled shoes.  The price was very reasonable, $29.98/roll.  We only needed 1.5 rolls which covered the walking paths to the kitchen and all of the bathrooms (approximately 225 sqft).  We even had a couple of hours of rain here and there and my floors stayed dry! We secured the the Ram Board with 3M Self Release Painters Tape .  The tape stayed put even in our humid environment!  After we finished with the flooring I hung up my friendly reminder signs in the bathroom and kitchen regarding where and where not to dispose of items.

On the Wednesday before Mardi Gras weekend, all of the dads brought their family’s ladders to store at our home so that they would not have to bring them and dump them quickly on the day of parades (parking is very limited).  We also use as many as we can to hold our spot on the parade route.  Yes, you heard me correctly, we hold our spot.  Beginning on Wednesday morning around 3 a.m. our dads show up and walk to St. Charles to find the perfect spot on the neutral ground side.  (For those of you who do not know what I am referring to: The neutral ground side refers to what other states call the median.  It is the neutral area between the two directions of traffic.  It is also the area where our streetcar line runs.).  The trick here is that the streetcar doesn’t stop running for Mardi Gras until Thursday afternoon.  So when staking out your spot it is very important to remember not to block the track.  In order to make sure that you have sufficient space for all of your people you must put items such as, ladders, chairs, tables, folded tents on the ground space in front of the tracks, in the middle of the two separate tracks and behind the tracks.  Then the dads take turns staying at the house and checking on our spot beginning Wednesday until Sunday.  That’s called dedication!

On the day of the first parade we hand out keys to our housed gate to a few of our close friends.  This way there is always someone available to walk others back to the house for a bathroom run.  When we arrive for the first parade the folding tents are set up, the chairs are set up, the tables and food are set up, but most importantly the ladders are set up.  The ladders are for the sole purpose of catching the best beads.  When children are small their parents either purchase or build a seat that bolts to the top of the ladder.  The seat has a bar that goes across the front to help keep them safe.  Some parents have seat belts added as well.  The parents of the children stand behind their children to help them yell, “Throw me something’ mister!” and help catch their loot.  I love the ladders because it gives me the perfect birds eye view for great photos! We our very excited to have been invited to join the Krewe of Tucks and that next Mardi Gras season we will be riding on our favorite parade day! If you see me, let me know and I will throw you somethin’ for sure!  Happy Mardi Gras Y’all!

Lakeshore Landing

We are always up for an adventure.  Originally this past weekend we were all going separate ways with our plans.  We had one competing with his soccer team in Dallas, one competing with her team in Jackson, MS and then the other was planning on just hanging out at home.  Well, thanks to Hurricane Harvey all plans were changed.  So we canceled flights and hotels and pulled out an invitation that we had received a few weeks prior.  I made the call to our friends, apologized for our last minute R.S.V.P. making sure we were still able to attend and it was a Yes!

So, this past weekend we were invited to a special preview event at the newly developed Lakeshore Landing in New Orleans near the Lakefront Airport.  The Lakeshore Landing is a re-developed area on Lakeshore Drive that has plans to have many features such as bars, restaurants, entertainment areas, shops, and an amphitheater for entertainment.  I was so excited to see all of the work that has been completed so far.  So we loaded up the Suburban with our kiddos and their friends and headed that way.

Our friends , Otto and Kelly Dinkelacker with Atelier Orleans are the architects for this project.  They have been working with the developers Mary and Roland Von Kurnatowski , founders of the Tipitina’s Foundation, owners of the venue Tipitina’s and partners in the renovation of the Orpheum Theater.  Honestly, how could they go wrong?  This is definitely going to be amazing!

When we arrived we were already impressed just with our drive up to the venue.  We have lived in the New Orleans area for 26 years and had no idea that there was a marina near the Lakefront Airport.  It was a beautiful backdrop for this project!  When we walked up to the entrance I was afraid we were a little too early, as we were arriving exactly at the start time of 3:00p.m.  To my surprise there were many people ahead of us.  The bars were open selling local beers, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.  There were lots of natural and modern wooden and metal elements that fit the nautical theme.  There were plenty of areas to sit and enjoy the views of Lake Pontchartrain and the breeze from the lake was a great relief from the summertime heat.  We found our way to a set of tables that had large renditions of what’s next for this development hanging on the walls.  There was a stage with live music playing and some people were even up dancing.  Our friends arrived with their family and we walked down a winding sidewalk between the outdoor area and the marina that led us to a beautiful shaded area that I instantly thought would be great for a wedding.  It  was open to the water and the ceiling was reminiscent of a pergola, only very modern.  We sat for a minute in this area and again the breeze and views were so nice.  Our friends then led us down the walk way to find a boathouse that was showcasing the National WW II Museum‘s fully restored PT-305 boat.  This was a very impressive site and will definitely be a great attraction for this venue.  Because the restaurant area has not been completed, they had food trucks outside of the boathouse.  We ate some yummy food from Frencheeze Food Truck!  We shared a Percvial Sandwich.  The Percival consisted of very tender and full of flavor Hoison glazed brisket, bright flavors from Razz Jam, creamy goat cheese, pickled onions (we gave those to Otto…not a fan of pickled onions), on toasted french bread for just $9. We couldn’t pass up Frencheeze’s Truffle Fries that were topped with Parmesan and Rosemary Aioli for only $5!  The food was fabulous!  After eating we made our way back up to the main staged area and enjoyed time with our friends and then headed home.

We are so impressed with the areas that our friends have designed!  Can’t wait to go back and see the next phase complete!