Category Archives: marigny

All on a Mardi Gras Day

 

Mardi Gras Day is always a fabulously magical experience, and this year was extra special. My brother and his boyfriend were in town for carnival for the first time since 2009, so we went all out. It was also our tenant’s first Mardi Gras as a New Orleans resident, so I felt obligated to help her navigate the crazy. We ended up doing four nights of Uptown parades, hosted a pre-Bacchus party at our house replete with Chris’ Get Your Life Right Gumbo, cornbread and Jello shots (lololol), caught the Red Beans Parade on Lundi Gras, and left the house at 8 a.m. on Fat Tuesday to wander the French Quarter and Marigny.

Highlights from Tuesday include getting a choice downtown parking spot, seeing Solange walk past us as if she was gliding on a glitter cloud, running into a ton of friends, seeing a grown man naked on Frenchmen St. (not a highlight, but truly memorable), and getting five people home all in one piece. No one got lost, shit faced, or misplaced their pants. Mardi Gras Magic.

Okay, on to the costume details.

Crowning glory: I bought my hat back in 2011 but never figured out what to do with it. The colors are so vivid I knew the outfit needed to stand up to the topper. I made Thomas’ hat from scratch to complement mine. His hat looks fancy but it was relatively easy to make. All I needed was a buckram hat base (I used a cadet style), metallic blue fabric to cover the base with, a piece of foam board, and a metric ton of feathers and Mod Podge.

The shoes: I usually don’t get too hung up on my shoes since 1. comfort is paramount and 2. no one is going to notice them. Thomas, however, opts for matching shoes. I had a pair of lace-up boots that lost their luster but were still comfortable, so I spray painted them blue and glittered them up. The glitter/Mod Podge layer started to break at the stress points, but Thomas’ loafers managed to hold up.

His costume: My cardinal rule is to never repeat a costume on Mardi Gras Day. This year, we broke that rule by reusing his pants from last year’s getup. They were too perfect not to and it saved time and money. I added blue fringe and gold sequins to the back pockets to incorporate in the blue from the shirt. He bought the metallic blue shirt on Amazon and I found the vintage beaded belt at The New Orleans Costume Center. I added gold stretch fabric to the back so it would fit him properly. I like the cummerbund effect this had and it added interest and variety to what is otherwise just a t-shirt and tuxedo pants.

My costume: I bought the gold sequined bra from Trashy Diva, the crop top from Swap Boutique and the gold shorts from ASOS. Those shorts, by the way, were hideous when I first got them. They looked like glorified boxer shorts and did nothing for my legs. I took them in, added ruching and blue fringe on the sides and created a peplum with red and orange trim to hide the cheap looking elastic waistband. I originally wanted a gold ballgown skirt similar to the hot pink one I wore for our flamingo costumes back in 2012. I went with shorts because I like showing my legs and the shorts were inexpensive. The only ballgown skirts I found either looked cheap or cost more than I wanted to spend. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a skirt from scratch.

How much our costumes cost:

Total cost this year: about $320

Trim, etc…: about $170 for all the trim, feathers, his hat form, foam board and an X-acto knife

My costume: $33 bra, $20 shirt, $15 shorts

His costume: Shirt: $25, Evil eye applique: $35, belt $20

Where we saved money: I already owned my hat, the red fishnet stockings, the blonde wig and my necklace. We already had both pairs of shoes and his pants. I have a stockpile of thread, needles, and pins,  so I didn’t need to purchase sewing supplies. I also had some leftover sequins and gold appliques from last year, so I just used those. I tend to overbuy trim in case a piece needs to be repaired. I like to repurpose pieces for other costume events; I also loan costumes to friends on occasion, so it’s important to me to be able to reuse these things.

How we could have saved more money: Uh, it’s Mardi Gras. We go big or go home, and our asses never stay at home on Fat Tuesday. For me, it’s important to feel like I’m contributing to the splendid frenzy that it Fat Tuesday. See y’all on the parade route next year.

 

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

 

Breaking news: Gertrude’s begonias are blooming. Since I started writing home and garden features for Nola.com | 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.

 

Mardi Gras 2016

spray painted shoesThomas FewerChristy LorioMardi Gras 2016Mardi Gras costumesWell that was fun.

Mardi Gras 2016 came and went. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I’m a very busy lady during carnival season. I marched with the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band again this year.  My friend Missy (flag corps) said it best: “This is like having a part-time job.” The band started practicing before Christmas, with the bulk of rehearsals in the weeks leading up to carnival. Then there are the parades. I marched in five of them this year, which was great fun but also physically and mentally draining. Walking at a snail’s pace across half the city while playing an instrument, coupled with the intense stimulus of thousands of eyeballs on you, takes its toll. Needless to say, it’s bittersweet that marching season has come to an end.

Oh yea, so y’all wanna talk about these costumes? This was the first time in three years that I didn’t have to balance Mardi Gras with school, which meant I had more time to get busy with the details. I think the official appliqué count was 28– all hand stitched by yours truly. And that’s not counting all of the sequin and feather trim work.  I started on our costumes a month ago, but as usual Lundi Gras night was spent at home with a needle and thread. Thomas was on shoe duty this year, and he did a great job dazzling up his pair of thrift store penny loafers.

After sifting through multiple costume boxes (we have enough to practically open our own costume store) to pull out my trust metallic gold body suit, I’m going to sit down after Ash Wednesday and put my old retail management skills to use. Each box is getting an inventory sheet, sorted by themes and color schemes. Our wigs (I lost count years ago) will get stored in their own separate box. A true #MardiGrasProblems situation.

All on a Mardi Gras Day: Mardi Gras Costumes

It goes without saying that Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. Some years are better than others (remember how cold and rainy it was last year?) but the 2015 carnival season was as an epic one; I marched in four parades with Gris Gris Strut‘s marching band and Fat Tuesday was downright magical. The costumes, the partying, and the energy all added up to a firm reminder why I love my hometown so much. Mardi Gras never gets old.
Oh yea, and our Mardi Gras costumes were rain clouds. I used car sunshades and foam board to create the base for the hat. It was so windy there were times our hats would blow right off our heads. Navigating crowds was also challenging. At one point I popped into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to grab two purple drinks (yes, that’s the actual name) but the crowd was so dense that I had to take my hat off and thrust it upwards to try to gain clearance over everyone’s heads. Fortunately I didn’t piss anyone off. In fact, it seemed that most of the bar patrons gave kudos to my decision to limit my own mobility for the sake of costuming. That’s the best part about Mardi Gras, especially in the French Quarter and Marigny. Most revelers respect everyone else’s costume game, even when cumbersome accessories get in the way and make the streets hard to navigate. It’s all part of the Mardi Gras magic and I’m so grateful that I get to partake in it year after year.
 Check out my Tumblr for more Mardi Gras photos.

What I Wore: Mardi Gras 2013

Mardi Gras always passes a little too quickly for my liking. This year was a good one, with not so impromptu dance parties in the street, run ins with friends, and a heck of a long bike ride home. Even though it was overcast, dreary skies couldn’t dampen spirits. And though I’ve already packed up the costume box, I already have my hat for Mardi Gras 2014 picked out. See y’all on the parade route next year.

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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 http://neworleans.craigslist.org/ats/3194148695.html

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