Here's what the jacket description of Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard says:

In this dreamy and seductive entree into the magical city that is New Orleans, author Debra Shriver, a twelfth-generation Southerner, Francophile, passionate preservationist and jazz devotee creates a book that is part love letter, part scrapbook, and gives readers a rare tour behind courtyard walls and private gates of this enigmatic city, which is often considered the Paris of America.

Yes, yes. Those things are true. This gorgeous book is indeed part love letter, part scrapbook, part courtyard tour. But what you really need to know is that I read the thing from cover to cover. 

The photographs are gorgeous, of course -- and I am usually into coffee-table books like this just for the pretty pictures -- but the text is just as captivating. Each chapter tells a different story of New Orleans -- the Mardi Gras Indians and the Zulu parade; falling in love with the city; choosing and decorating a a house; throwing a magnificent party, complete with recipes; the incredible musical history of the city; and fun sidebars with information about things like correct party attire and local traditions. 

There are quotes from various New Orleans natives scattered throughout. They are all quite charming, but my favorite is the one from Justin Lundgren:

It takes a special kind of person to choose New Orleans over most of America. You have to be the kind who can dance at a funeral and spend thousands of dollars on plastic trinkets just for the privilege of throwing them off a tractor-driven float to complete strangers.

Yep. Sounds about right for me.

And there is, of course, an entire chapter devoted to the monogram, which caused me to stand up and salute my Leontine Linens.

All photos from Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard by Debra Shriver, copyright © 2010, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

I did not need to be sold on New Orleans, of course -- it's my favorite place on this entire planet, and I plan to one day live there. But I leave you with this warning: if you buy this book, you will likely find yourself, one day, as my neighbor.

Posted
AuthorAB Chao
8 CommentsPost a comment

It's Super Bowl weekend, and since a) I love the Saints, and b) Eli Manning hails from the great city of New Orleans, we are making a quintessentially NOLA cocktail: the Sazerac. Now, there are many ways to make a Sazzy -- the always reliable Gumbo Pages details several -- but I prefer the confusing and overly-complicated traditional method you see above. (This recipe heavily based on the recipe from GP.)

Come on, when is the next time you get to use two glasses to make one drink? Your six-pack of Miller Lite can't provide that kind of entertainment, people. So, go ahead: get your Rotel dip and chicken wings ready, then class that noise up with a deliciously complex New Orleans cocktail. DEWIT.

Happy Super Bowl! May your favorite team win, and may your Rotel be extra spicy.

PS. Thanks to the brilliant Mrs. Lilien for the Mr./Mrs. glasses, and for the design inspiration!

Posted
AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdewit
5 CommentsPost a comment

As I said before, last weekend I was in New Orleans for Mom 2.0 Summit. I co-hosted an entertaining panel with the lovely and delightful Helen Jane, where we talked about quick and stylish entertaining, and demonstrated a few tips for making your snappy appetizers look real pretty for your blog. We also served wine. We also made a lot of jokes about nuts (see above).

HJ, who is much better prepared for these kinds of things than I am, has put together a little recap of the photography tips we shared, here. And if you are interested in the slideshow we used, see here. Thank you for your cooperation.

I stayed in New Orleans a few extra days to do some local-client-related work, and finally arrived home Wednesday night. But as Vince, Eliza, and I had signed up a while back for the Crescent City Classic, I found myself in the car again two days later, headed back to NOLA. Which was fine with me -- we took the opportunity to do some poolside lounging at one of my fave hotels. Like ladies (and gentlemen) of leisure.

If you have never had a Pimm's Cup poolside at the Windsor Court in New Orleans, well, I urge you to rectify that situation immediately.

These two think they're pretty fancy. We ended up not leaving the hotel at all until race time the next morning, which was also fine with me.

The race itself was exciting and crowded and hot and ended with free Abita. Our times were all terrible, but who cares? We got fun times and nice tans.

The upshot of the previous weeks of hedonism is that I now feel kind of puffy and gross, so today I am starting a week-long detox. This cleansing diet will include lots of water and tea, and things made with kale and raw almonds, and probably rage and despair.

I'll be back tomorrow with an Easter recap you won't want to miss! (Just kidding. It will mostly be pictures of crawfish.)

Posted
AuthorAB Chao
CategoriesUncategorized
5 CommentsPost a comment
Here is a picture of me squinting into the camera and having a medal and loving you from yesterday, just after the New Orleans half-marathon. We tied our time from last year, which means we ran the race in a little over two and a quarter hours. I was filled with such euphoria from the race that I immediately went to the MGD 64 booth and claimed my two free beers, at which time I downed them from thirst and which -- combined with adrenaline and endorphins -- gave me quite the runner's high. And by runner's high I mean buzz. Afterwards, Vince Chao and I rode the shuttle back, got our car, and went to Parkway, where I ate this. And then I had some ibuprofen and a Strawberry Abita and took a four-hour nap. We love New Orleans so much we decided to make it our valentine. PS, we are going to run the Crescent City Classic on April 23 also, so you should come to that with me and we'll dress up in cute outfits and go for Sazeracs afterwards. It's only 10K! You can do that with your eyes closed. I realize that this has nothing to do with Valentine's Day. I just wanted to say hello, and we ran a fun race, and I love you.
Posted
AuthorAB Chao
CategoriesUncategorized
12 CommentsPost a comment