Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Remember me? I’m finally back home. Actually, my home doesn’t smell very sweet at the moment. It sort of stinks! It’s been a long week and I’ve been the gypsy in Duke Ellington’s blues standard ‘Gypsy Without A Song’.
I remembered to pack the shampoo, dog treats, cell phone cord and numerous other essentials BUT I forgot my iPod charger! For me, a week without my music is a real hardship.

I’ve been slowly moving things back into the house since Sunday and the place is starting to look more like home.
Belgium approves. It's his tenth birthday tomorrow (Feb 6th).
The good news is that the majority of the work is done and all of the wood floors are refinished. They look great-- and, I did dump a lot of stuff, so there was less to bring back in.
The bad news is that the refinishers accidentally broke one of a pair of antique glass shades. The sdhades are on a Mission style fixture that hangs over my kitchen table. A hole mysteriously appeared in one of the windows in my office and there are various wall dings that now need patching.
Despite some residual dust, the refinishers were extremely diligent vacuuming and tiding up. The house really feels clean.
Now, however, I’ve become obsessed with polishing and primping everything I bring back in. Especially in the kitchen where we recently bought several new appliances.
The guys sanded the butcherblock countertops and I refinished them with 7 or 8 coats of mineral oil.
Even the pots are now sparkling! (Disclaimer: I tackled the really small ones first and there are several giant ones yet undone).
Here’s a closer look at the remaining glass shade. I’ve searched thousands of shades on line and apparently mine are not a common pattern (etched grape leaves). It looks like I will have to buy a pair. Has anyone has seen a pair of nice etched antique gas fixture slant shades (4” lip fitter) with a straight (not ruffled) lower edge? If so, please let me know where.I feel like an ingrate. I didn’t get a chance to post a photo of the wonderful mosaic gift sent to me by Brook. They arrived shortly before I had to pack and go. Aren’t they super? You can check out Brook’s romantic letters on eBay. Her ID is decoratingwithroses.

I was lucky enough to be on several photo shoots in New Orleans during the week preceding Mardi Gras in 2005 and 2006 (right after Hurricane Katrina.)
The first time I visited Louisiana, I was in college. I spent a week in New Orleans and saw several parades leading up to Fat Tuesday (parades roll most afternoon and evenings for almost two weeks leading up to the big day) before traveling around the state.
On Mardi Gras Day, I was in Cajun country where centuries-old traditions were very much alive.
Masked revelers on horseback go from house to house begging for ingredients for a communal meal of gumbo.

Even today in New Orleans, Mardi Gras season is more about community than about tourists flashing their you-know-whats for a string of flashy beads."High chairs" --so the kids get a bird's eye view -- range from simple seats atop ladders to elaborate homemade contraptions.(Photo by Phil Mantas)
Marching bands provide a lively soundtrack.
Most parades are family affairs – and communal pots of food are still very much in vogue...even in the French Quarter.
Of course, there are still sequins galore.
Hope you've enjoyed the parades. I certainly did!

Now, no matter where you live, it's the season to stir up a big pot of seafood gumbo. Here's my favorite recipe.
2-3 lbs Shrimp (heads or at least shells on)
12-24 clams
1/2 lb crabmeat
Some oysters
2 bottles of clam juice
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 stalks celery
1 onion
3 scallions or shallots
Handful parsley
1 Cubanelle green pepper
1-2 jalapenos
1 habanero
Tomato paste

SPICES: 1 teaspoon each salt, black pepper, paprika, thyme, onion, garlic

2 more bottles clam juice

In large heavy pot: Cook shrimp and clams in 2 bottles of clam juice mixed with water to cover. When shrimp are barely pink, scoop out. When clams open, scoop them out. Pour liquid into a bowl and SAVE. When shrimp and clams have cooled down, remove all shells and put in a bowl in fridge.

With 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour make a light brown roux in same large heavy pot. Chop veggies and hot peppers in Cuisinart and add to roux. Stir around for about 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste and all of the spices. Cook for two to three minutes. Add reserved shrimp liquid. Add 2 more bottles of clam juice. Heat for 10 minutes, then let sit on stove until needed.

Just before serving add oysters and crab meat and cook for a few minutes on low heat. Add shrimp and clams. Serve with rice.

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***

For photos from this year’s parades visit Bayou Contessa. Scroll down to see some great homes that Contessa Julie Neill loves.


Signature Vintage said...

What a wonderful post! i love the "tea" letters and especially loved the pics of New Orleans....I've always wanted to go there!

Alison Gibbs said...

How wonderful to go to The Mardis Gras in New Orleans. It looks such fun.
The floors look great repolished.

Natasha Burns said...

Welcome back Barbara! Oh how annoying the refinishers ruined your glass shade! I do love your floor though, the border work is divine.
Mardi Gras looks like so much fun, I would love to be there one day. Sounds like you had a great time.
Belgium does look happy to be home though!

Brook said...

Yay you are back like a ray of sunshine in our lives! Your " home sweet home" looks really great!!! Love all the photos!

Shabbyfufu said...

WOW Barbara.......your floors look great. No pain no gain as far as that job goes! So much color in New Orleans....I have been, but not during Mardi Gras~only for the brave:-). Thanks for visiting me earlier today, I just posted a blog giveaway~so come on back! ~XO~ Janet

NAME: CIELO said...

Oh wow to be able to go to The Mardis Gras in New Orleans! You're so furtunate....!!

I love your wooden floors, and Belgium is just tooo cute!

Have a lovely day, Barbara...


karlascottage.typepad.com said...

The floors look great! Although, don't you just hate having one thing done so nicely and in the process have others torn up? That poor lamp shade. It always happens, doesn't it? Dings, or breaks, or gauges or scratches just happen during these things.

Robin said...

What a lovely blog you've got - beautiful kitchen, travel photos, even a recipe. I think I'm in love LOL.

Thanks for visiting Around The Island today, and I know just what you mean about trying to be wordless. I too am a (markcom) writer and editor and the idea of having to post a single photo with no words at all gives me the shakes. Playing was a good challenge for me.

Cottage Magpie said...

Glad you're back to find wonderful refinished floors (so sorry to hear about the shade and the dings, though!). I looooove gumbo, so I'm excited to try your recipe. I usually make the chicken/andouille version, which I also love. Yum!
~Angela :-)

the feathered nest said...

I love those mosaic letters - what a great idea! The floors look fabulous! Mardi Gras looked fun - it's something I've always wanted to do!


Jen r. said...

The floors look amazing!! That stinks though that they weren't more carefulo, reall how hard can that be? Your puppy is a doll, we have a goldie too.. I have a decoupage tutorial you might be interested in if you want to pop by.I'm glad you had a great trip!
Jen R

The Old Painted Cottage said...

Welcome back Barbara!

What a great jam-packed post of wonderful things (as always). Love the wood floors, Mardis Gras looked like an absolute blast, and I just oohed and awwed over your photo of Belgium.

By the way, please stop by my blog again...I'm having a Pampered Package Giveaway!


Gail McCormack said...

What a fabulous post that one was, kept me fully enterained while drinking my morning wake up coffee. Welcome bak home Barbara!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Your Mardi Gras photos ar so fun! I have always wanted to go. One day...one day...

cjan said...

Welcome Home Barbara! Your floors look lovely!! And your new appliances will be so much fun for you to cook up your recipes!! So sorry about the accidents to your home!! I can't imagine them breaking your light shade and a hole in your window?? Pretty rough workers I'd say.. Thanks for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

great photos! I didnt get that much my stupid battery went died:( Thanks for stopping by my blog! come back and join the swap I just started!! bring friends!


PAT said...

Your tea letters are beautiful, Barbara. Great looking floors!

I'll be visiting your Blog Du Jour!

Happy Birthday Dear Belgium!!


Vintage Rose Collection said...

Welcome Home Barbara!!!
I feel like I was on vacation with you, awesome photos! Love hte b& W of everyone, looks like you had a fabulous time...
Your floors look wonderful, too bad about the lampshades..Try scouring some antique shops for a matching pair..or ebay maybe :)
Ill keep my eyes open too.
Love to you sunshine,

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Your refinshed floors look great! I know what a trying time it was, but boy! it really looks worth it! How annoying to have the broken glass shade and hole in the wall though!

I have never been to New Orleans! Mardi Gras looks wild!

Natasha Burns said...

Hi Barbara,
It's me again! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi - I am sure we can work out that we can meet up when I come to the states, especially with your constant travel and the extra options we have. That would be super! I'll be sure to keep you posted once I have firm dates.
Natasha : )

Susie Q said...

Such a wonderful post! I had always wanted to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

Your floors look amazing but I am so sorry about the glass shade. The work will be worth it but it must have been a rough go for a little while. Poor Belgium...but he is happily at home now. Happy Birthday to him! He is such a handsome guy. Please give him an extra hug for me.

Enjoy all your clean, newly done, fresh spaces! They look beautiful!


Antique Paperie said...

Hey there little Gypsy - Welcome Back!! And, Happy Birthday Dear Belgium! 10 years old - my, aren't you quite the distiguished gentleman! I love the photo of him, what a gorgeous animal.

The floors look spectacular! The new Appliances look fab, and the counters look spiffed and polished to perfection! Loved the photos - hated that they broke the antique shade - I cringed when I read that.

So happy you are home - loved the photos of Mardi Gras!
xo Sherri

Siobhan said...

Glad to see you back Barbara and your floors look fantastic...sorry to hear about the damage they made too :(

NeereAnDear said...

Hi Barbara... so glad you are back... I love those floors of yours with the border... tres chic... your kitchen looks like just the place to cook up some of that wonderful gumbo ... a must try recipe for me... How sad that one of those beautiful glass shades ...especially a vintage one... has been broken... an items that is most difficult to replace...

I have never been to New Orleans... at least not before today... but it looks like a wonderful place full of local color...

I am back... not sure for how long... it was not a computer crash... at least not exactly.... however it was something almost as bad... I did a post on what happened because some people ... like me... have no clue about this type of thing..



Ruth Welter said...

Thanks for showing us all those beautiful photos Barbara. Your floors by the way, look gorgeous!! Makes it all worth it I'm sure , when you look at those lovely floors. By the way, happy birthday to Belgium!!

NeereAnDear said...

That should read an item.. not an items...

I had to laugh at your comment... It does sound like there should be a vaccination for that doesn't it?



Mosaic*Queen said...

First of all, those floors look FABULOUS!!! I want new appliances too, but that will have to wait, as I think my air conditioner is getting ready to break down and I can't live without that here in the desert! I love New Orleans! My husband and I went there years ago and we always say that we walked in and rolled out. Yep, the food was that good. We celebrated Fat Tuesday this year with friends at a cajun restaurant in Phoenix called Baby Kay's. It was crowded, but fun and the food was delish!

restyled home said...

What a great post...your life certainly looks exciting, if not a little hectic!! Your floors look wonderful and I love that kitchen.

Good luck with the light shade search!!


Donna said...

Your floors look wonderful! Sorry about the mishaps.
Looks like you had a great time at Mardis Gras, the pics are super!

Lisa said...

What great pictures. What a great opportunity to enjoy the festivities in the Big Easy.

I love the floor, especially the decorative edge. Beautiful.

Too bad about the light, but congrats on finally being back in your home.

Niesz Vintage Home said...

Your floors are beautiful!
Sorry about the broken glass shade. I tried for years to find a match for an antique fixture I inherited from my grandma, to no avail. But you have a vastly greater pool of resources, so I'm sure you'll be able to locate one.

Oh, and thanks for the recipe. I LOVE gumbo!

Kimberly :)

Kathryn Bechen said...

Was fun to see pix of your own home. I love the wood floor pattern! :) Kathryn

Kathryn Bechen said...

Was fun to see pix of your own home. I love the wood floor pattern! :) Kathryn

Rosehaven Cottage said...

I'm so glad you're back in your home again. The floors look wonderful and so do the countertops. It's always a shame when there are mishaps though. :( That's really too bad about the antique shade. I just loved getting all caught up after your little absense.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

A Romantic Porch said...

Your home is beautiful. I love the wood floor.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

The floors look great!

Mary said...

Welcome home! The floors look fabulous. It's always such a big pain to have them refinished -- you were smart to have them done while you were away. Your kitchen looks amazing -- love those butcher block countertops!

Anonymous said...

There's no place like home, and it look fabulous!
Glad to have you back. Roberta

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Looks like you had a great trip!! My hubby is sitting here while I viewed your pics and he spotted the gumbo!! WE LOVE GUMBO and will have to try your recipe! His BF lived in New Orleans for 22 years and left after the hurricaine. They now live in another town close by, but still love going there. Great food and wonderful bignets!

Thanks for the trip!


Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

PS: If I find a lamp shade like that one, I will get it and let you know. Your house looks wonderful and love your new appliances and wood floors!!! Very nice!

Tracie said...

I love your blog, I really have to come here more often. That TEA mosaic is just so pretty and love all the Mardi Gras pictures and the recipe.
Thanks for visiting my ocean view from the weekend.
Barbara, I can't wait for your book - I know a lovely lady in the book, sweet as pie - MM.
Stay warm - your Belgium is a sweetie!