Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver

 “New Orleanians have long memories and a high tolerance for eccentricity.” – Randy Fertel
If you’re a New Orleanian, you have an intimate relationship with the city. You lovingly talk about its nuances the same way you’d describe a lifelong friend, or a close relative. They might drive you nuts sometimes, but their faults only add to their charm. From decadent recipes to French influenced décor, Debra Shriver tells her tale of embracing the Big Easy lifestyle in Stealing Magnolias, a coffee table book that is not only comprised of her favorite haunts, but her adoration of the culture.

Alabama born and bred, this New Yorker fell in love with the city and found a quintessential French Quarter residence to call her own just weeks before Hurricane Katrina. While the photography alone is worth a glance, Shriver weaves an intimate tale, sharing her NOLA love notes with us as she discovers her neighborhood and decorates her home.  When we hear so much about spikes in crime, increasing property taxes, hurricanes, and crooked politicians (I’m looking at you C. Ray Nagin), it’s a necessity to take a moment to dwell on the positive details that make this city so special.

Stealing Magnolias would make a wonderful gift, or purchase a copy (via Octavia Books) for yourself and be prepared to reconnect with New Orleans. Already have a copy? Be sure to read Valorie Hart’s review of Shriver’s latest book, Spirit of New Orleans on Visual Vamp.
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Giveaway: NOLA Eats King Cake Tasting Party

My NO Prop wifey Leslie Almeida is at it again. Celebrating 5 years of sugary bliss, her annual king cake party is the largest public tasting in the New Orleans area. In fact, I’m just now coming down from last year’s sugar high. With over 20 king cakes, including a home baked category, you might want to start your Lenten fast a little early to prepare for the doughy gluttony that will ensue. My personal favorites from last year ranged from Haydel Bakery’s classic cake, Domenica’s “so good it’s not even fair” concoction of bananas, mascarpone, and salted caramel, and Cake Cafe’s goat cheese stuffed variety. In addition to all of the cake cake cake cake cake,  there will be live entertainment and raffle prizes, all wrapped up in the beautifully renovated Little Gem Saloon.

Slow Southern Style is giving away two free tickets to one lucky random winner. Contest runs through January 31st, winner announced on February 1st.

 All you have to do to enter is:
1. Comment below what’s your favorite place to buy king cake and
2. Like Propaganda New Orleans on Facebook.

 Can’t wait to find out if you’ve won? Buy tickets online here and receive $3 off with discount code SSS.

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It’s New Orleans Happy Hour: Days of Wine and Meatballs

Last week I was asked to be a guest on It’s New Orleans, an online radio station with a slew of interesting programs. Every week they do a show called Happy Hour that highlights intriguing people in the city.  I had a lot of fun talking about Marrero (ahh suburbia), Slow Southern Style, and my long standing love for fashion.  I also played flute in front of an audience for the first time in about 9 years- that’s what I get for listing it as a hobby in my bio. I’ve already picked apart my 1.5 minute performance and noted every single flaw, but you be the judge. Listen to the show online by clicking here.

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Frenchman Art Market: Nighttime Shopping For New Orleans

Hourglass Productions- purchase it online here

Made & Made- custom handmade millinery 

I love strolling through a good art market, discovering little handmade treasures from local artists. But most of them are daytime outdoor events, which means slathering on sunscreen and sweating it out during the summertime. And since I’m working weekends now, my work schedule doesn’t always align, and the tables are packed up long before I’m punching the clock. Frenchman Art Market founder Kate Gaar is helping fill the need for an alternative time slot every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5:00pm-1:00am. The market is located in the midst of Frenchman Street, New Orleans’ venerable hot spot for good eats and live music when the sun goes down. Tucked into an empty lot across from D.B.A. and next to Spotted Cat, it’s easy to catch your favorite band, then stroll across the street with beer in hand to scope out another form of local talent-handmade crafts. There’s plenty of art, jewelry, re-purposed vintage clothing, housewares, even twinkling fleur-de-lis topiaries and a documentary film maker were out on my last visit.

John Dyer, a friend and co-organizer, explains how the Frenchman Art Market came to fruition.

“Basically this was a pop-up market that started during Jazz Fest weekends this year. Kate just has a passion for art and artists and has basically single handedly (excluding yours truly) put this together.  We are seeking a very diverse group of art vendors.  We don’t really want food/drink vendors and we definitely don’t (can’t have) musicians because it’s already on Frenchmen and there’s plenty of other places for that.

This is a venue strictly for diverse local artists and we want to gear it towards festivals/conventions that are in town. Meaning we want to have a strong base of artists that we can book according to what’s happening in the city that weekend.  As of now we are leased through January and hoping we can sign longer.  We have started a petition at the market and are trying to get as many locals to sign it in show of support to the city.”

Keep up with the Frenchman Street Art Market on their Facebook page. If you’re an artist interested in participating

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What I Wore: White Linen Night

I tend to hibernate in the summer, which means a lot of  missed social events on account of the sweltering heat and/or rainstorms. This past Saturday, I decided to get off my lazy ass and head downtown for White Linen Night, an annual art event. As the name suggests, patrons don white clothing while traipsing through art galleries.  I dressed the part by wearing a white button down with a blush chiffon bottom, paired with my favorite pair of cream colored jeans. I fit right in, but looked a little more creative than just buying a white linen dress and calling it a day. Wearing jeans to an outdoor event in August? Not the smartest idea, but at least I complied with the dress code- sort of.

Blouse: Sparkle & Fade via Buffalo Exchange
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity via Buffalo Exchange
Cross body bag: Kate Landry via Buffalo Exchange
Flats: Melissa via UAL

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Sinnin’ and Feudin’: Southern Contests

I grew up Catholic, or Cat’lic if you’re going to properly pronounce it wrong. So I know all about sinning- and may or may not have done a little myself. The Creative Nonfiction Foundation (CNF) wants to hear all about your repentance worthy behaviors for their Southern Sin Essay Contest. Your story can be serious or humorous but you have to tell the truth- after all lying is a sin. Deadline is July 31st, selected essays will be published in Creative Nonfiction #47 and one lucky writer will win $5,000 for Best Essay. To submit, visit:

From their press release:
“Creative Nonfiction (CNF) and the Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference & Workshop are looking for essays that capture the South in all its steamy sinfulness–whether you’re skipping church to watch football, coveting your neighbor’s Real Housewife of Atlanta, or just drinking an unholy amount of sweet tea. Confess your own wrongdoings, gossip about your neighbor’s depravity, or tell us about your personal connection to a famous Southerner headed down the broad road to Hell. Whether the sin you discuss is deadly or just something that would make your mama blush we want to hear about it in an essay that is at least partially narrative–employing scenes, descriptions, etc.”


If your group of friends are feuding like a modern day version of the  Hatfields vs. the McCoys, you might want to take it to reality t.v. A well known cable network wants to share the blood bath with a national audience, so they’re putting out a casting call in the New Orleans area. If your group of friends is age 21+ and have a score to settle with a rival group, e-mail with the following info.

⋅ Name
⋅ Where do you live?
⋅ Occupation
⋅ Phone
⋅ Email
⋅ Describe your group of friends in three words
⋅ How long have you known each other?
⋅ Who are the members of your crew?
⋅ Describe your enemies:
⋅ Why are you enemies?
⋅ How long have you been feuding?
⋅ Have you ever had a confrontation?
⋅ Please include a photo of you and your friends.

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A Frugal Freret Street Fashion Show

Come join me for a night of fashion on Freret Street this coming Sunday as part of Yelp’s Passport to Freret Street promotion. I’ll be judging a special frugal fashion challenge alongside Missy Wilkinson from the Gambit Weekly. Contestants will be asked to purchase up to $25 worth of clothing from Bloomin’ Deals Thrift Store, which supports the Junior League. The theme is cruise wear and anything from “castaway chic” to “pool side fabulous” goes.

The best Gilligan or Skipper impersonator will receive two tickets to Tales of The Cocktail and the after party. For more information, including rules of the contest, visit the Yelp event listing, get your best outfit together, and may the best thrifter win!

What: Passport to Freret Street: Thrifty Fashion Show/Contest
When: Sunday, May 13th 9:00 pm
Where: La Nuit Comedy Theater, 5039 Freret Street
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Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook: Shrimp Destin

Whenever I have friends come to visit, I plan their trip around meals. I tend to err on the side of strategic over planning. I’ll pencil in a day of sight seeing, but the main attraction will always be breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So when Southern Living sent over a copy of Southern Living Heirloom Recipe Cookbook, I was eager to thumb through it.

The recipe I tackled was Shrimp Destin, a fairly easy one.  Given my penchant for the tasty crustaceans (I’ve got a shrimp tattoo after all) it was an obvious choice. I’m definitely not a by the book cook- I prefer to improvise if I don’t have all ingredients on hand. For example, Shrimp Destin called for dinner rolls or rice, so I substituted what I had on hand. In this case it was jalapeno bread. I’m sensitive to gluten, but trust me you’ll want something to sop up the aromatic butter with. Aside from the generous helping of carbs, this recipe is one of the lighter ones in the book. Since my husband and I try to eat fairly healthy, we used Earth Balance instead of real butter. The dish turned out great- we both snuck seconds.

Many thanks to Southern Living for the gift! Pick up your own copy on Amazon.
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French Quarter Festival

Sunglasses & dress, Buffalo Exchange
Melissa shoes, Nordstrom Rack
It’s fest season y’all! What the hell does that mean? Eating your weight in fried food, humidity, throngs of people, bike rides, live music, slathering on sunscreen, day drinking, running into old friends, and having lots of fun. We went to French Quarter Festival this weekend, what did you do?
My friend Kasimu Harris of Parish Chic

How we roll. Not my bike but I wish it was.
My sweet friends Corey and Hattie Collins.
Fish tacos from G. W. Fins

A lush French Quarter balcony 
Life imitates art imitates life- painter creating art via her marionette puppet

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Campus style, what’s yours?

This post was written by Rachel Gulotta.
  Can a college campus have a specific style? On campus tours prospective college girls, maybe even some guys, pay attention to the buildings, curriculum details, and members of the opposite sex. Most girls, when not comparing the cuteness level of every boy they pass to those of other schools, are actually paying attention to what the college ladies are sporting to class. Davidson College is a small liberal arts college just north of Charlotte–– by geographical definition it’s a Southern school. I expected Lilly Pulitzer, cowboy boots, lots of blond hair, and Polo. I visited the campus for the first time as a sophomore in high school. It was a beautiful summer day to see such a mesmerizing campus; I was hooked when I saw a swing hanging lightly from the branch of a water oak. The only thing I didn’t see much of that day were the students–– the campus’ personality, lifeblood, and style.

Since my freshman year I’ve developed a personal sense of style that is a resulting combination of my time spent abroad in France and my more recent addiction to fashion/food blogs. My family back home in New Iberia has owned a store since the late-nineteenth century. What was once a closet-sized shoe repair store grew into a western wear/work clothes megastore. My uncles are keeping up the family tradition, and they help to keep my boot collection interesting.
Davidson is a rigorous school and students tend to spend one too many all-nighters in the basement of our library. They emerge bleary eyed from the morning sun usually wearing the famous Nike short/white tee combo, or if it’s cold the more appropriate legging/Ugg/white tee with a vest combo.  Both outfits seem to be mainstays on college campuses these days. I like to think that if you put on athletic shorts but have absolutely no thought of running, frolicking, pole vaulting, etc. then a cute dress or some jeans are a better route. Although Davidson is a Southern school, we have lots of New Englanders and Californians who like to sport some interesting outfits. The Northerners love the novelty of almost year-round hot weather, so they try to make spring and summer last as long as possible by wearing shorts. Who says you can’t change the weather with some cute gladiator sandals? The west coasters love the sun already, but what they have yet to experience are the seasons. So they get really excited for scarves and snow. I fall into the latter category (I have a not so guilty drawer filled with Roy G. Biv coordinated scarves, can’t get enough).
Rachel and her best friend, Whitney
Being one of so few from Louisiana I got to introduce all kinds of new things to this place. Mardi Gras Perlis polos, King Cakes, the concept of Mardi Gras and why it exists, Cajun expressions, alligator leather belts (Did you know that the tannery in Lafayette has a Christmas sale every year? It’s worth it!), FleurtyGirl tees that say things like, “Neutral Ground Side,” and gumbo. They love the gumbo. I’m still convincing a few friends that it’s a praline and not a pray-line. That’s what we call confession.
Davidson has been a great place for me to experiment with personal style, what works and what doesn’t. North Carolina is also an interesting mixture of beach, mountain, and city style because they have it all. Davidson is a town of around 7,000, and when the 1,800 students are around this town bustles. We have an adorable Main Street filled with restaurants, a coffee shop, multiple bike shops, a gnome museum (the guy who designed the roaming gnome is from Davidson), a boutique called Monkee’s, and an art gallery/classroom. North Carolina is filled with eco-friendly agricultural and fashion options, which means that there are plenty of local food and boutiques waiting to be discovered. Asheville is one of my favorite cities to visit for both reasons. Tupelo Honey’s biscuits are worth the two-hour drive.  
The crossroads between New Iberia and Davidson is one of good times and the kind of sweet southern stillness you can find in the mountains of North Carolina or the Cajun country bayous of Southwestern Louisiana. Davidson College’s campus is filled with tulips and green worms amidst the red brick buildings and towering Corinthian columns these days. The ladies and gents who walk the halls of Chambers building everyday may not have a definitive groupthink style, but it’s a good place to let your personal flair shine or blend into the scenery as it were. If you’re a campus-dweller, do you fit in or do you stand out?    
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