Shopping in Louisiana

Shopping tips and advice

Month: August 2017

True Blood Party Saved By….An iStockphoto Promo Code?

We had a clear vision and a strict budget: plan a True Blood dinner party with themed foods, costumes and pictures of our favorite stars decorating our house. But there was one problem: image rights! Turns out having a party for people means we needed to pay for images of Eric, Bill, and the crew from True Blood. But that would put us way over-budget!

As it turns out, stock photography was the answer. A quick membership with iStockphoto meant that we could download images of these characters and use them however we wanted, and we wouldn’t get into a trouble. We used an istockphoto promo code and it kept our whole party under-budget!

How To Plan The Perfect True Blood Party

Now that everyone’s favorite vampires are returning to HBO on Sunday nights, what better time to plan the perfect True Blood party? It’s like an Oscar party, but better, because you get to watch the latest antics from Bill, Eric, Sam, Alcide and all the other hotties from Bon Temps with all your friends. So, other than a television, what do you need to throw your vampire inspired party? Some rocking snacks and deathly drink recipes, of course!

Now, there are a few routes that you could decide to go with the food for this little vampire shindig. You could go the ordinary party route, and just pick up some chips and dip from the grocery store. This is the easiest, but it does lack a certain pizzazz. Your second option is to go with the Louisiana flow, and serve up some Southern cuisine. This could be anything from po’ boys from a local sandwich shop, to shrimp cocktails, to homemade shrimp and sausage gumbo! If you’re not into seafood, you could always create something that would fit in with the Merlotte’s menu. Homemade burgers Lafayette, anyone? The key is to give your menu some hometown Louisiana flavor.

Or, if New Orleans style cooking isn’t your thing, you could forget all that human food and focus on a more undead menu. The focus here should be on class and elegance. Just think- what would Talbot serve his guests, if there happened to be a few breathers in the crowd? Instead of his blood bisque, make your own simple tomato bisque. It’s easy. You can even start out with regular tomato soup. Just add some whole cream, some canned or fresh-diced tomatoes, and whatever cheeses or seasonings appeal to you. The side options for your “blood” bisque are endless. You could cook up some gourmet grilled cheese for your guests, or go with a simple cheese platter. Another elegant option is to cut up a baguette and top it with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. Garnish each serving with some basil leaves from the garden, and you’ll have a real gourmet treat. As long as you think of foods that are tasty but delicate, you’ll be on the right path.

Finally, since the real stuff is off the menu, you’ll need some great “bloody” cocktail recipes. To emulate the carbonated blood that Talbot served to Bill during his stay in Jackson, pick up some sparkling cherry or pomegranate juice. You should be able to find this in your local gourmet or natural grocery store. The dark red color of the juice will look gorgeous in a champagne flute. You can either add a bit of your favorite clear alcohol (vodka would be a good choice here), or leave the juice as-is, for guests who don’t drink. Other vampire-inspired drink options include the classic bloody Mary, cherry bomb shots, or maybe even a tequila sunrise. Another choice that is always appropriate for vampire aficionados is, of course, a nice red wine.

Now that you have some menu and drink ideas, you should be all set to plan the perfect True Blood party for your fellow fang bangers. To set the Bon Temps mood, consider buying some fan swag. Many websites sell merchandise like light-up signs for both Merlotte’s and Fangtasia, and shot glasses engraved with logos from the show. You can even find clothing, like Sookie’s waitress uniform, or Jason’s football t-shirt, if you feel like dressing for the part. Either way, as long as you follow these party tips, your friends will love coming over to your place to watch the latest episode of True Blood.

Mardis Gras and Southwest Vacations: A Match Made in Heaven?

The Magic of Mardi Gras

Thanks to an influx of southwest vacations promo codes, a uniquely American festival has now become available to more people worldwide: Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras is the annual weeklong carnival of excess and hedonism celebrated throughout the world in the week leading up to the austere season of Lent.  It’s the last hurrah before six weeks of fasting and sacrifice.  The Mardi Gras celebration culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.   In the United States, Mardi Gras is recognized and celebrated all over but is most popular in the South and no city celebrates Fat Tuesday like New Orleans. 

Owing to NOLA’s rich French and Spanish heritage, Mardi Gras has forever been a part of the Crescent City’s lifeblood.  The traditions of drunken revelry, debauchery and mask wearing have survived over centuries and joined forces with the finest traditions of southern hospitality and generosity. Mardi Gras was not born in the South but it has certainly flourished on the Gulf Coast – southern style!

To the casual observer, Mardi Gras in Louisiana appears to be a tourist-driven bacchanal, but those who have experienced a Big Easy Mardi Gras up close and personal know that it is so much more.  Having once tasted the forbidden fruits, the magic that is Mardi Gras stays with you forever. 

Mardi Gras is so much more than a bunch of drunks on Bourbon Street hanging off the wrought iron balconies. It is that, for sure, but it is also the magnificent parades on Canal Street led by the mighty krewes of Bacchus and Zulu.   It’s the Mardi Gras Indians with their hand-stitched feather costumes.  It’s the hundreds of smaller parades throughout the Garden District, Uptown and the surrounding parishes.  It’s the children’s parades, the masked balls, the floats, and the throws.  It’s the crayfish, the gumbo, and the Creole brews and stews that fill the air.  It’s the dancing in the street and the pure joy and “joie de vivre” of thousands of people coming together for no real reason whatsoever other than the calendar says it’s time to party.

Maybe more than anything else, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the music – the sounds and rhythms that pull you in and seduce you for life.  It starts at the airport where you land in the birthplace of jazz.  The music envelops as you wait for your taxi – jazz, horns, strings, brass bands, Cajun and zydeco.  All of the sudden, you’re a really good dancer!   The cab driver entertains you in that charming accent (a strange combination of Deep South and Brooklyn) and you soon realize that his stories are really lyrics to the songs of life in his city. As they say in the Big Easy, “Laissez les bons temps rouler”. Let the good times roll!

The people of New Orleans move and dance and celebrate life with a rhythm and an energy that is all their own.  Once exposed to the magic of Mardi Gras, the energy and the music will seduce you.  At least for a few days, you manage to escape the hardships and drudgery and exist only for the pure joy of the moment.  Of course, you will go home to face reality again, but a piece of your soul will always wish that every other weekend were Mardi Gras.

Your heart will ache a little every year when you see the news coverage of the world’s greatest party.  Even while you remind yourself that you are busy and can’t afford the trip and it looks too crowded anyway, you will shed a little tear when you hear the horn section calling your name and swear you can smell the beignets.  Then you will remember the magic and, once again, you will know what it means to miss New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras.