Twelve things I wrote for | The Times-Picayune in 2016


Breaking news: Gertrude’s begonias are blooming. Since I started writing home and garden features for | The Times-Picayune last January I’ve been privileged to interview and tour an eclectic mix of homeowner’s and renter’s spaces. I’ve covered everything from a charming 400 square foot apartment in the Warehouse District to a grand 10,000 square foot Old Metairie home. Writing about beautiful houses is a delight; not only am I constantly inspired by other people’s beautiful spaces, but I get to meet interesting people while doing it. Here are 12 stories I wrote last year– most of them are house tours, but not all of them. Click on the headline to read the full story.


Would you like a poem with that? Buy a pizza, get some poetry at New Orleans restaurants

Pizza and potholes don’t have much in common (although they both tend to be round), but this month (April) they serve as gateways for youth poetry during National Poetry Month.

Big Class, a nonprofit volunteer-run organization that helps kids ages 6 to 18 with writing skills, started the Pizza Poetry Project in 2014.


Grieving widow finds joy in decorating chic dining room 

Coletha Tucker needed to bring a little joy into her life nearly three years ago so she hired Whitney Jones of Whitney J. Decor to help her revamp several rooms.
Tucker’s husband Alan had just died of cancer. “I got tired of coming home to the same thing. It was miserable,” Tucker said. Hiring Jones proved to be a mood elevator.


How to clean up glitter, the bane of all post-Carnival cleanup efforts

After the last piece of king cake has been consumed and the costumes are packed away, there’s still one tiny reminder of the Mardi Gras season that lingers and lingers. Glitter — the bane of all post-Carnival cleanup efforts.

Traces of the sparkly stuff can be found everywhere: hardwood floor crevices, car upholstery, that favorite hoodie worn to every parade. Glittery dust bunnies can lurk under beds and in corners months after Mardi Gras.


From ho-hum to hip: A cosmetic spruce-up breathes new life into a Harahan home

Heather Smith’s mid-century modern house in Harahan is a study in the transformative power of paint and plants.

Smith moved into her two-bedroom, two-bath house in May 2015, two days after selling her beloved Nashville Avenue shotgun, where she’d lived for seven years. The reason? Smith went through a divorce in January 2015 and, after living in the same two-mile radius for nearly 20 years, she was ready for a dramatic change and a new project.


Honey, I bought a house: Wife surprises husband with serious fixer-upper

The day Elaine Vigne bought her Gentilly Woods home she told her husband she was going shopping, but she didn’t specify what she planned to buy.

“He thought I went shopping to buy a dress,” she said. “He was like, ‘I thought you went shopping today?’ I said, ‘I did. I bought a house.'”


Filled to the brim: A Metairie man’s unbelievable German beer stein collection

Open the door to Randy and Jean Smith’s Metairie home, and you’ll instantly be inundated with beer steins thanks to Randy’s 450-piece collection.

The space feels like a biergarten; steins cover nearly every flat surface of the couple’s living room. A medieval tapestry hangs over a cognac leather sofa, German-themed decor decorates the walls, and ceiling beams have steins dangling from hooks. Randy, an affable man with a white handlebar mustache, even looks like the type to collect beer steins.


A cozy Creole townhouse in the midst of the French Quarter action

Guy Williams knew he belonged in New Orleans the moment a stranger asked him for a bite of his pastry.

Williams, who grew up in Tennessee and lived in Manhattan for many years, was in need of a change. He found himself sitting at CC’s on Royal and St. Philip streets with a cup of coffee and a pastry when the quintessential Crescent City magic happened.


Mother’s Day gift idea: portraits from six New Orleans artists

In this Instagram world, the gift of a portrait on Mother’s Day can feel old fashioned, which makes images of her favorite people — or pooches– that much more special. These photographers, painters and illustrators offer styles ranging from classic to quirky. 


Plant-loving Metairie resident transforms courtyard into private oasis

If you’re looking for “the best kept secret in Metairie,” then look no further than Richard Bienvenu’s backyard courtyard — at least according to him.

Bienvenu and his girlfriend of 14 years, Diana Eubanks, transformed a once “dump” of a courtyard into what could easily pass as outdoor seating at a trendy eatery. In fact, the owner of Quarter View Restaurant (located next door to the couple’s home) jokingly said, ‘How many tables do you think I can fit out here?’


Worldly influences, local art reflects Gentilly renter’s interests: Cool apartment style

The two-bedroom Gentilly house that Charle Washington rents with her boyfriend, Max Lapushin, is filled with work by local and up-and-coming artists, from letterpress posters by Amos Kennedy to framed yarn work by Pottspurls.

“As a local creative, I know how much people appreciate you supporting them, and I love art that has a story,” said Washington, who runs Shop Charle, a vintage clothing pop-up shop. “I almost never paint a space,” she added. “I cover it in framed artwork because the last thing I want to do when I move is paint over it.”


House tour: former schoolhouse filled with hand-me-downs with history

Journalist Helen Rowland once wrote, “Home is any four walls that enclose the right person.” For Hattie and Corey Moll, that quote rings true. They’ve been renting their two bedroom double — an 1854 former schoolhouse in the Riverbend area — for only two months but it feels like they’ve been there for years.


First lady of fashion: Michelle Obama through the years

First Lady Michelle Obama has brought her own brand of class and grace to the White House. We reflect on some of her most iconic fashion moments of the past eight years.


The People I Know: Rebecca

Rebecca Diaz

The third installment of this series is Rebecca Diaz, a friend of mine I met in California but didn’t really get to know until we became coworkers in New Orleans.


I met Rebecca through Monika, a mutual friend, back when I lived in Phoenix and she lived in L.A. (2007-2008ish). We both worked as managers at Buffalo Exchange, albeit in different states. We met when I visited Monika out in L.A.,  and we reconnected when Rebecca moved to New Orleans a few years later and started working at the Magazine Street location. We’ve kept in touch ever since. Apparently she also knew who I was because we frequented the same fashion communities on Live Journal back in the day. And before you try to find it, I deleted my account a long time ago.


Rebecca is a co-organizer for Less Than 100, a pop up shop on Oretha Castle Haley that charges women 66% and men 100% of the retail price. Why the difference in price? Women make just 66% of what men make in Louisiana, and the shop operates on a pay-what-you-earn model. The shop will be in its Central City location until the end of this month.

Rebecca also runs Six Impossible Things, a pop up shop that stocks everything vintage, sequined, and fantastic. Having worked in retail for several years, she has a knack for finding both literal and figurative gems. Catch her at Little Flea NOLA on the regular.


Rebecca is one of those people that you can’t help but like the second you meet her. She’s quirky, hilarious, witty, and looks stylish 24/7. She also has a vintage clothing collection that will make you swoon with delight. But even more important than all of that she’s just a decent person trying to do decent things to better not only herself but the community as well. She’s a rising star and definitely one to watch out for.


Gap’s DressNormal campaign is a cheap attempt to cash in on Normcore

Every time I swear off writing about fashion something happens that sends me rushing to my laptop, fastidiously pounding away on a cat hair covered keyboard instead of starting on my four page paper on British poetry that’s due on Monday. Get your lint rollers and canned air out for this one; Gap’s Dress Normal ad campaign has me feeling all type of ways.  

It’s not a shocker that the Gap has never been considered a fashion forward brand. You’re not going to snag a studded jacket or a minidress with sheer cutouts there, nor would you expect to.  Some might call the brand’s no fuss, simple garments wardrobe staples, or basics, where others might call Gap a snooze fest. 

So what’s the problem with basics? The word basic has taken on negative connotations in our pop culture; “basic” in slang terms means boring and ordinary, not exactly how you want to describe your dark wash jeans and fitted white t-shirt, is it? Enter Gap’s latest ad campaign, Dress Normal, which is riding on the heather gray coattails of normcore. 

Normcore is a “new” way of dressing for the fashion elite- think Adidas slides with tube socks- that rebels against the recent fashion trends of dressing extraordinary- more on that in a moment. Normcore is rebelling against rebelling, but you have to rebel in the first place in order for normcore to make sense. 

The problem with normcore is that it doesn’t take into account what people are wearing in cities that aren’t fashion hubs.  In other words, your average dude from Kenner wearing Adidas slides with socks and a grey sweatshirt and a baseball cap is unintentionally participating in normcore. It’s plain dressing with irony, yet excludes that guy that doesn’t dress hipster cool from the inside joke. 

Over the past few years the outrageous has been considered fashionable; the peacocks showing up at fashion weeks around the globe is a good example of this. Wearing a calf grazing tutu is the new norm, so how does one stand out in a sea of kookiness? The answer, apparently, is to dress “normal”. 

Look, I kind of get it. Fashion celebrates the over the top, the glitzy and the downright bizarre. Iris Apfel is a household name for fashion insiders and Lady GaGa has given everyone carte blanche to dress outside of their comfort zone. When everyone wants to be a rare bird, however, this unique sense of individuality isn’t quite so individual anymore, is it? 

But what is normal? That’s a subjective, potentially damaging word. What Gap really means is to dress simple, a bon chic, bon genre mentality (I’m giving them too much credit, really) that’s seeing a resurgence, albeit a resurgence through the hipster lens. According to Gap’s global chief marketing officer Seth Farbman, “Finding your own version of ‘Dress normal’ is an art. My normal is different from your normal, and that’s the essence of the campaign.” 
Confused? That makes about as much sense to me as trying to explain what normcore is in the first place. 

 The problem with the Dress Normal campaign is that it indicates that anything besides normal is abnormal. It’s a backlash against creative dressing which, let’s face it, has put the hurt on Gap in the past few years, as well as other ubiquitous mall brands. It’s not cool anymore to be average, to fit in, but when everyone is trying to stand out from the crowd, where does that leave us? The best thing you can do for yourself is avoid the pitfalls of trendy dressing altogether and wear whatever the hell you want. Fashion is in a flux right now; I’d rather sit out and just focus on doing me, which is the best, most normal thing I can do.

Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Breaking news: I don’t care about fashion blogging anymore

I started Slow Southern Style in 2009 as a fashion blog that promoted southern fashion. Since then, it’s evolved, or maybe devolved, into something more personal. My focus here has shifted,  but I still heart fashion, even if I don’t talk about it on the internet as much as I used to. I also haven’t been buying clothes as much as I did when I worked in retail. What used to be a $200 a month habit, (a paltry amount for some, an exorbitant sum for others) it now takes me months to spend that much on clothes. Truth is, in order to blog about fashion you have to constantly rotate your wardrobe and quite frankly, I just don’t care about the newest, shiniest things. I’ve never been super trendy, but I’ve quit caring about fads even more and I’m okay with that. I feel like I’m dressing like myself, for myself and that makes me content. 

That said, I started a Slow Southern Style Instagram account to get back to my roots a little bit, but this site will remain just whatever the hell I want it to be. Here are a few iPhone photos I took this past summer. If you’re interested in better quality photos, and I know that you are, follow my Tumblr:
Can’t stop won’t stop with the ostentatious snake jewelry.

I don’t always selfie, but when I do, it’s at the Abita Mystery House

Trying to look all lady like and shit.

UAL’s Covington location was practically giving these cuff bracelets away.

My back patio kiddie pool situation. Equal parts white trash and best idea ever…..

…..but we did splurge and go to Blue Bayou this summer. 

Making an attempt to play flute on a regular basis again. 

My backyard. And by backyard I mean overgrown area behind the house. 

I’m borderline too old for a romper with pom pom detailing but I really don’t care. 

My addiction to Everlane is never-ending. Gotta collect them all!

Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Book Review: Nasty Gal’s #GirlBoss

I’m not gonna lie, I surprised myself when I purchased #GirlBoss, the new book out from Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. (Hash tag as book title? Really?) The book touts itself as a  how-to guide for young female entrepreneurs, chronicling Amoruso’s own success in the process. By now, Nasty Gal is ubiquitous among twenty-something cool girl types. You know, the ones that wear trends before big box retailers snap them up. While I have yet to buy anything from Nasty Gal, I am familiar with Amoruso’s enviable success story: eBay shop owner slinging vintage clothing transforms her little ol’ business into a multi-million dollar company in just seven years. 

I endured so many motivational-slash-business advice books at my former retail management job, most of which where written to strike a chord with the suit and tie wearing, moving-up-the-corporate-ladder types, not a bunch of young women in charge of running a hip clothing store. For this reason alone, it’s no wonder #GirlBoss is a bestseller. Amoruso’s rag to riches tale is relevant to the Nasty Gal customer, told through the lens of a self-made young woman. It’s about sticking it to “the man” and carving out your own path in life, regardless of your lack of experience. “If it feels right, do it” is the unspoken mantra of the book.

 #GirlBoss isn’t short on inspiration, such as Amoruso’s commendable feat of building Nasty Gal with zero debt. That alone is remarkable, as well as her innate ability to stand out in an over saturated industry by tirelessly keeping her brand’s image relevant in the fickle world of fashion. However, she tends to beat the reader over the head with the basic principles of the book. Most chapters simply rehash what’s already been said, but with a hash tag for a book title, perhaps she’s just taking the social media obsessed reader’s short attention spans in mind. 

I found much of the book too idealistic for my taste. Amoruso stresses, for example, that she was a high school drop out, never bothered to go to college, ate bagels out of the trash in order to feed herself, then started an eBay store with stolen goods. As someone who dropped out of college myself, I understand where she’s going with this: you don’t need a fancy degree in order to kick start a career, but how many dumpster diving shoplifters actually turn into millionaires? Amoruso also stresses that she winged her way to success: she busted her ass and just hit the ground running in lieu of doing extensive market research in order to realize her vision. There is something very empowering in just putting in the work versus overwhelming yourself with mapping out a business plan, waiting for the most opportune time to start, which I can definitely relate to. When I started Slow Southern Style back in 2009, I had no clue what I was doing. If I had waited until I had professional photos, a slick blog layout and an ad sales manager, well, I’d still be waiting. However, the chances of creating the next Nasty Gal- just winging it with zero business knowledge- is slim. How many people are disciplined, and lucky enough, to create that kind of success for themselves, no matter how how much work they put into it? There must have been a smidgen of kismet working in Amoruso’s favor. 

At times I wanted a tinge more humility from Amoruso. There’s a scene in #GirlBoss where she is meeting with investors for the first time, with just a small mention that she admittedly feels out of place, like a young, naive girl in an adult world. There’s so much bravado in her writing style that I wanted to see a more vulnerable side to her. We don’t really get a glimpse into those “holy shit, what have I gotten myself into” moments, even when she admits that she was in over her head in that board room. I also felt the book was part Amoruso sharing her knowledge, part trying to prove herself.  Still, you’ve got to hand it to her for saying *$%! the straight and narrow  path by creating her own company on her own terms. 

If you’re looking for a manual on how to start your own company, I’d  hardly call #GirlBoss a guide book to creating your own business. Instead, take it for what it is: a motivational book for young women that hold “bad ass bitch” as the highest compliment paid. 

Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Yeah, You Write

After clocking far too many hours on my laptop this semester, I’m happy to say that I’ve been chosen to read my original work “Blue Laser Beams” at the University of New Orleans’ Yeah, You Write series. If you’d like to listen to me attempt to not stumble on my own written words, check out the event this Thursday night. My non-fiction story is about a teenager whose fashion choices alienate her from the rest of her classmates. She wants to stand out, yet secretly wants to fit in as well. Here’s a sample:


Baker’s neon sign was a laser beam cutting through my fog of teenage angst. I was a product of the 1990s grunge era: a crushed velvet dress, worn with a flannel shirt tied around the waist, and clunky shoes is the look I lusted after. I blended in at school about as well as a duck hunter sporting a safety orange vest on Wall Street. “Sassy Magazine” was my fashion bible, but the clothes featured in the editorial spreads were either too expensive or unavailable to me. Shipping costs were deemed a waste of money in our household, so catalog orders were off limits as well. Little did I know that my shoe fantasies would be fulfilled at Baker’s. And sure enough, tucked away in a forgotten corner of the store were the flashiest shoes I could find and they were seventy-five percent off! Of course they were deeply discounted; no one in my town would be caught dead wearing platform lace ups with the veneer of a diner seat booth. The baby powder blue vinyl, embedded with a million holographic sparkles, reflected the joy I felt in being  one sales transaction away from being just as cool as my rock star idols. The white platform rubber soles with the wrap around faux blonde wood would proclaim my status as someone more worldly than my suburban roots. Everyone I encountered would think “That girl! She listens to Mazzy Star and Nirvana and would pierce her nose if her mother let her!”

Yeah, You Write: UNO Undergraduate Reading
Thursday, March 20 6:00pm
Sandbar at the Cove, UNO Campus 
Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

My 2013 Year In Review: Lose Some, Gain Some

Custom portrait by Maggie Covert | Confused? Look here and read this. All will be revealed.

Oh hey 2014, you crept up on me with the quickness, didn’t you? I didn’t announce it to the world, but Slow Southern Style turned five years old this past year. I know I’ve been neglecting my baby (see below for the reasons why) so here are some of the highlights of 2013:

  • I officially re-enrolled at The University of New Orleans (as a senior!) after a ten year hiatus. If you’re interested in the full story click on over to Propaganda, where I share my experience of entering the academic world as a non-traditional student.
  • I got the courage to quit my job of eight years. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was an important one. While I occasionally miss talking about clothes all day, it was time for me to evaluate my long term goals and make them happen. 
  • After three beautiful years with Nadia, our beloved greyhound, we gave her one last throat rub. We also unexpectedly lost Proteus, one of our cats we had for eight years. 2013 was rough, to say the least. However, the pitter patter of little paws was not absent for long. We welcomed  Izzy (Greyhound), Beignet (Rat Terrier/Catahoula mix) and our two kittens Piper and Lorenzo (formerly Loretta: oops!) as our newest roommates. We still miss Nadia and Proteus, but the newest additions help ease the pain. 
  • I took on the role of Managing Editor of Propaganda New Orleans, which shifted my focus from writing about fashion to editing and writing on a much wider variety of subjects. Food, art, history and travel were just some of the topics I wrote about. Here’s the list, if you’re so inclined. 
  • My brother, sister and I had a sibling reunion after not being in the same room together for two years. My siblings are the world to me. I’m hoping to take a trip to Louisville, Kentucky to visit my brother later this year. 
Things I’m looking forward to in 2014:
  • The biggest, and most important, is my ten year wedding anniversary in August. Yea, we’re getting old. We’re renewing our vows in the same spot we got married: below the rim of the Grand Canyon. 
  • Mardi Gras. Duh. It’s the holiday that trumps all other holidays. 
  • After years of pining for a fancy camera, I bought myself  an SLR. I’m looking forward to signing up for classes so I can figure out how to work the damn thing and stop uploading mediocre photos here. Maybe. 
Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Bangladesh: Who’s Responsible?

While I don’t keep up with a large amount of fashion blogs like I used to, not a single blog that I read on a regular basis has mentioned what’s going on in Bangladesh. For those of you who aren’t aware, a garment factory collapsed, killing over 1,000 people and injuring countless others. Sweatshops are not a new problem, and they aren’t exclusive to the garment industry. However, the atrocities in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza can not be ignored.

3,000 workers were crammed into a building that was deemed structurally compromised only days before the collapse of Rana Plaza. Instead of heeding the warning, laborers were told to show up for work. According to the New York Times, April 24th is quickly becoming known as the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry.

 We live in an era where many bloggers opt to be walking advertisements for big companies vs. whistle blowers, especially in the fashion industry. More concerned with scoring advertising dollars and bagging free clothes, it’s no surprise that so many people have kept tight lipped. You never know who’s listening in, or what PR company will be offended by your opinion and won’t give you a free batch of clothes after publicly criticizing something.

The problem isn’t just one factory with shoddy construction. It’s the entire system. There’s a reason why your Dannijo knock off necklace cost only $6. Someone’s paying for it, and it’s not you. It’s the kid earning $50 a month, working in conditions that most Westerners would find appalling. But we turn a blind eye, so we can blissfully purchase our “affordable” designer knockoff clothes without having to stop and ruin our Pinterest worthy mood. I’m not saying I’m completely innocent either. Personally, I can’t afford to buy everything I wear, from my underwear to my shoes, from small, independent Made In The USA companies. Nor do I have to time to do deep research before every single purchase I make.

So what can we do? While not everyone can afford to shell out big bucks on eco-friendly, fair trade, products, we can make smarter choices when we can afford it. Shop local as much as possible, shop secondhand, shop handmade, and challenge yourself to resist shopping fast fashion, big box stores as much as possible. Be as conscious as possible as to where your clothes come from. Ask questions, and more importantly, demand answers. Don’t support the companies that engage in unfair labor practices. Eventually, they will follow suit.

Essential Reading:

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