2016 Traditional Home New Orleans Showhouse – Part One

IMG_7820Today I have a big treat for you guys. Last Thursday had the opportunity to visit the 2016 Traditional Home New Orleans Showhouse. This year’s tour house was a million dollar Queen Ann Victorian built in 1895 on St.Charles Avenue one of the most prominent streets in New Orleans. Tours to the 4,000 square foot home closed yesterday but lucky for you I took lots of pictures to share. The house itself was gorgeous even before the designers got to work but now it pretty fabulous.

2016 Traditional Home New Orleans Showhouse

Actually I took so many pictures I think I’ll break the tour up into two posts…  So today we’ll start downstairs.

Foyer & Stairwell by MMR Interiors This Foyer is breathtaking and I have to say one of my favorite spaces in the house.

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Study by Michel Smith Boyd Interiors

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Living Room by Shaun Smith Home I wish I could have captured this better in a photo. This room had high gloss lacquer walls and ceilings that were so amazing. Shaun Smith was at the house and explained the process, seven coats and extensive prep work were required to achieve the look.

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Parlor by Reagan Hayes, Inc.


In the parlor there was more drama on the ceiling mimicking the lines of the light fixture.


and the entire house was full of the most amazing art.


Dining Room By William Rankin McClure IV

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Family Room by Parker Kennedy Living


You know I love this wall, does it look familiar?

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Kitchen by James Farmer Design

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Butler’s Pantry by LCH Interiors The butler’s pantry was another favorite of mine, but who doesn’t want a pantry full of champagne and caviar?

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And that’s just the downstairs! and I haven’t even got to the guest cottage yet…Stop by tomorrow for more of the 2016 Traditional Home New Orleans Showhouse

On the Move – House Hunting in South Carolina

Hello there, did you think I had disappeared? I have tried to blog as much as possible during our big move from Germany to South Carolina but this last leg of the journey has gotten extra crazy. Imagine a husband, a wife, two children, a dog a cat and ten large pieces of luggage in a hotel room on day five. What do you mean that doesn’t sound like the perfect vacation to you?

Okay me neither, so the house hunt is on so we can get the heck out of this hotel as soon as possible.

Since we still have our house in Alabama and since South Carolina will probably be our last stop before my husband retires from the Army we have decided to rent instead of buying.  Other than in Germany we have always bought our homes. We usually go for the fixer uppers because I love doing all the updates and like to be able to get creative. When buying I am looking for potential not a finished product. Rental shopping for me is a little more difficult. I know it will not be a forever home but I still want something nice for the time being. I also know that beyond paint and furniture I am pretty limited to what is already there ( i.e. kitchens and bathrooms are going to have to stay.)

We began the search with lots of driving around to look at all the houses we found online. Some were immediately eliminated because of location, extremely hot looking yards with no trees, busy streets that may take one of the cat’s three remaining legs or maybe a crack house next door. You know, the usual eliminating factors…

This narrowed our search it down to the few we wanted to see on the inside.


I fell in love with this house online, there were no interior shots but the exterior looked perfect and the lot backed up to a lovely lake. The porch across the back had the most amazing view, but the price tag was a little over our budget.



As a seasoned house hunter I know better than take the leap without seeing a houses in person and this one was a perfect example.

While the builder did a great job picking out the lot and finishing the exterior of the house, the inside left much to be desired.

IMG_5177It was filled with strange little things like this odd patch of linoleum in the kitchen, two completely unfinished bedrooms, wood-paneled walls in the two that were finished and a floor plan that just didn’t make sense. These things were not cosmetic! To be honest, I was a bit glad the interior didn’t live up to the exterior because the price really wasn’t in the budget.

The next stop was another house with a lake-view lot and this time way under budget.

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Had I been looking to buy, this house would have been a taker. My husband loved the huge lake lot and the house which looks to have been built in the 1950’s or 60’s was completely original with oak floors throughout.

Unfortunately, completely original also meant a dark original kitchen and original appliances.

IMG_5156Not something I can fix as a renter.

IMG_5162Oh yeah, and this one looked like it may be haunted, just saying…

I guess that means no lake-views for us…

With the first two houses eliminated we were left with the last two houses to choose from.

The first is a rancher, not my favorite from the outside but with a nice big corner lot, in great neighborhood within walking distance to the kid’s school.

exterior 1The interior has lots of space (almost 3000 Sq Ft) and lots of great light.

I just love this room…

interior 1But, the yard is not fenced so we would have to add a fence at our own expense. This would not be a big deal except the house is already at very top of our budget. (My daughter cast her vote for this house because it has two master bedrooms, she is thinking one of them could be her’s.)

The second house is in the same great neighborhood as the first but is farther from the school. That means I’d be dropping off and picking up the kids everyday.

exterior 2This house is slightly smaller than the rancher but still quite large at 2600 Sq Ft. This one gets bonus points for a fenced yard (plus a vote from my son for having a swing set.)

l16914b45-m3xd-w640_h480_q80I give it extra points for the bonus room over the garage which would make a dreamy sewing room.

interior 2On the negative side, I am little concerned that this house does not get a lot of natural light. I asked the property manager if we were free to change the paint colors. She assured me we could so I think some lighter brighter paint could improve the light some.

It also has a nice screened in porch even if there isn’t a lake view.

This house also has a huge garage, while the rancher only had a car port with a storage room.

The biggest perk, the rent is $250 a month less than the rancher.

Now we have two good contenders and a big decision to make. Neither perfect but both have some pretty good pros and only a few cons.This morning we are going to go have a look at the two contender one last time and see if we can come to a final decision.

Which one is your favorite? Feel free to cast your vote!

I’ll let you know later this week which one we decided on and share a full set of “before” photos.

The Tree Of Life, New Orleans

DSC08491Before this visit I had not been home to New Orleans for a whole year. When I am away there are lots of things I miss but one of the things I miss seeing the most are the Live Oak trees.  While I was out taking pictures I was noticing their beauty and it brought to mind one particular live oak that grows way in the back of Audubon Park near the zoo. I guess I remember this tree from grade school field trips and high school hang but it has always stuck with me.  I hadn’t been to the tree in years but I was able to go right to where I thought it grew and there she was.

This tree official name is the Etienne de Boré Oak but is most commonly referred to as “The Tree of Life.” With a base 35 feet in circumference I’d say she has had a very long life. It is estimated that the tree was planted somewhere around 1740 but a live oak with a girth of more than 30 feet could be as old as 500 years or more.

DSC08507The Tree of Life is not alone she lives in park filled with live oaks but none are quite so lovely.

DSC08494I could sit all day and admire her roots bubbling from the earth…

DSC08512The limbs dripping with Spanish Moss

DSC08486and branches dipping deep until some of them actually touch the ground.

DSC08509As I was leaving two children arrived running to the tree and climbing on her huge roots to play. I see that I am not the only one who loves the Tree of Life.

Uptown New Orleans Architectural Details

One of my favorite things to do is walk around the neighborhood looking at houses and enjoying the architecture. In New Orleans my favorite place to do this is an area locals call “Uptown” which includes a more exclusive area known as the “Garden District.” This area was developed between 1840 and 1870 by Americans who were looking to settle away from the French and Spanish in the French Quarter. The area contains everything from sprawling mansions to tiny cottages and includes a variety of architectural styles. With this variety of styles also comes a variety of beautiful architectural details.

Last week I spent a lot of time “Uptown” walking and taking picture so I thought you might like to see some of my favorite details that are common to these New Orleans homes.

Porch Brackets…


Victorian Gingerbread…


Cast Iron railings…


Elaborate Cornices Moldings…


Gable Windows in stained glass…


And if your lucky you might run across them all on a single house!
Now I hope you can see why “Uptown” it is such a great place to take a stroll. If you are ever in New Orleans be sure to check it out either on a guided tour, a self-guided tour, or just wander around to see what you can find on your own.

On the Move – Getting There is Half the Fun!

DSC08374Hello from the other side of the pond! Yes we made it back to the States, finally!

I have been absent for a few day because honestly I needed time to recover. The time change is always exhausting and the trip itself, well that is a whole other story….

I know I titled this post “Getting there is have the fun” perhaps I should have used “being” there is half the fun, because getting there is sometimes a misery. Today I though I would share some of the good, bad and the ugly of getting my self, two kids, two pets and way too many pieces of luggage from Germany to the U.S. via several planes, trains, and automobiles.

Our flight was scheduled for Sunday at 1:50 pm out of Frankfurt which is normally a two and a half hour drive from our house. The plan was to get the house cleaned and pack up the last of our belongings we would travel with Saturday morning. Then we’d drive up in the afternoon have a leisurely dinner, a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast before the flight. My husband is staying in Germany another month so he would be the support team, driving us to the airport, helping with the kennels and luggage, and getting us checked in before heading back.

Since my SUV had already shipped and my husbands primary car is a Mini Clubman the only car big enough to transport our luggage was our 1985 Land Rover Defernder 110. Let me say that this car is my husbands toy and I have never even driven it, he purchased it in the Netherlands about a year ago because they are rarely available in the States. It is a British spec model with right hand steering, no A/C (or any other creature comforts) and tops out at about 65 MPH.  Not my ideal ride to the airport but the weather had been lovely reaching about 70ºF most days and the ride was not too long, plus we had no other choice.


Saturday, after a morning of scrubbing and mopping, we load up the family and the pets and our last worldly belongings and headed out. Just our luck, the temperature is beginning to hit the upper 80’s, one of the hottest days we’ve had in Germany so far. This is the day we have to take the car with no A/C for a 3 hours drive (the ride is longer when you can’t top 65.) Perfect timing!

We set off about 1:30 pm with an estimated arrival at our hotel of about 4:30. Once on the Autobahn with a little wind blowing the heat was tolerable and the kids and pets were getting along. The cat would occasionally vocalize his displeasure at being in the car but for the most part all went well.IMG_4618

That is until about 4pm…

Just 30 miles from our destination a vibration started in the steering. Chuck thought it felt like a flat which was not good because we had removed the spare from the back to fit in all our junk. We pulled to the shoulder but the tires looked fine so we decide to get off at the next exit to have a look under the hood at the power steering. As we pulled off the steering seamed to improve so after taking a break to checked the fluids, hoses and tires we decided to push on. We were so close and we had to get to our flight, we made the decision to stay off the Autobahn and take the back roads the rest of the way. Unfortunately about a mile down the road I glance out at the front tire where the vibration seemed the worst and noticed a terrible wobble. It looked like it was about to come off. Emergency!!!

We pulled off the road and were at a loss, what do we do now? We have a road side assistance policy, but have never had to use it before and when we called all the recordings are in German, not helpful. A friendly bicyclist helped us request assistance but it is Saturday and while some auto shops may have limited hours on Saturday most are not open at all. We noticed just up the road from where we pulled off an auto shop, closed but still right there…

We walked over to see if anyone was around and fortunately the barking of the guard dogs brought the owner out just as roadside assistance showed up. The owner spoke excellent English but the roadside assistance guy did not, thankfully that meant we had a translator but the news was not good. The car needed to be towed but nothing could be done until Monday when the shops opened and we still needed to get to the airport. The train was an option but I had two hot animal, six pieces of luggage, two kennels and no way to get then to the train station 5 miles away.

The owner of the auto shop turned out to be our savior, although he did not work on Land Rovers he knew someone who did. He offered to drive us and all our belongings to the train station. He would also keep the car until Monday morning when the shops opened and help us get the car in for repair.  It is now 6pm. and the next train to Frankfurt left at 6:40 so we load up into his smaller SUV with luggage and the dog in our lap for the next leg of the journey.

This part was a lot more painful than the heat…

Imagine trying to get two animal, six pieces of luggage, and a huge kennel up steep flight of stairs to a train platform and then onto the train while it stops for only a few short minutes. Rough!

We got on the first train only to find it was stopping short of Frankfurt. We decided on a system for getting off and on as quickly as possible with the kids going  first with the animals while Chuck and I unloaded the luggage, handing off water bucket style, until everything was off/on the train. I only wish I had a video of this because I’m sure we looked half crazed. Anyone else trying to get on or off the train at our door was out of luck, we were on a mission!

We ended up having to take three trains and climbed about six flights of stairs with all our piles of stuff, but we made it.

Here we are on the platform poised for the next boarding.


In all this excitement the dog seemed okay with her first train ride, at least once the train was moving.


The kids remained in good spirits, and no one (including myself) cried. Although I was painfully close at times.


Estimated time of arrival to the airport 8:27 pm and we still had to find the shuttle to our hotel.


We made it to the airport exhausted and hungry so we stopped for a dinner break in the terminal before hunting for the hotel shuttle. After missing the first shuttle we finally arrived at the hotel around 9:30pm only five hours late but still early enough to get a good nights sleep before our airport adventure.

We had to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight to get the animals checked in. Good thing, because once we got there we were told both of our kennels were too small (even though those were the kennels they came over in.) This was about the time the tears came, not hysterical tears but I did have to take a break and have Chuck go find the kennel sales to keep from really losing it. The airport generously (I’m being facetious) sold us two new kennels for the bargain price of only 380€ ($400.) Do you get a credit for the two kennels you now have to abandon with them, of course not. But what else can you do?

With the critters in their new extra-large kennels and lots of money paid to the airline we finally get all the bags and pets checked in and I can breathe a little sigh of relief.


Chuck stayed until it was time to go through security and we enjoyed a cup of coffee feeling sad to leave him behind but glad to be done with one more step of the journey.


One last good-bye and we made our flight with time to spare. Meanwhile Chuck headed back on the train to figure out the truck situation and have it towed to a local repair shop. Still waiting on the damage ($$$.)

Thankfully the flights were uneventful with only a few short delay and we arrived at my Mom’s house 24 hours later.

For all the bad luck I’d say there was a lot of good luck too. Thanks to some wonderful helpful people and the family (mostly) holding it together we made it to our destination intact, even if it was a bumpy ride.

Cruising the Western Mediterranean – Spring Break 2015 Part Two


I wanted to split this post into two parts because the next stop on out cruise was Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and it did not disappoint. With a population of over 1.6 million people I was amazed by how clean the city was and the amount of green space within the city center. It is also clear that the city takes great pride in its art and architecture.


The main reason I wanted to visit Barcelona was the architecture, especially the work of architect Antoni Gaudí, which can be seen throughout the city. Guadi’s designs are radically different from those of his contemporaries influenced primarily by forms of nature.

DSC07810Casa Batlló

These buildings with fluid lines, organic shapes and brightly colored tile work are truly original.

Park Güell

DSC07812Casa Milà/ La Pedrera

But the structure I most wanted to see was the still incomplete church La Sagrada Família, it has been under construction since 1882. Gaudí  worked on the church from 1883 until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original ideas. The building is financed mostly from donations and the contributions of millions of people over the years and now has a planned completion date of 2026.


From the exterior La Sagrada Família is highly detailed with stone carvings that remind me of a drip sand castle.


On the inside while the design is still organic (representing trees) it has a much more geometric feel. We were told on our tour that this was so that the interior would not be distracting.


I’m distracted. I think I may like the interior more than the exterior, which is hard to believe.

Gaudí architecture is not the only sight to see in Barcelona, the city is full of beautiful buildings and tile work at every turn.


Barcelona was definitely my favorite stop on the trip.


Our last port was Marseilles, France which we decided to visit on our own, just walking about and seeing the sight.


We strolled the pretty harbor.


Checking out the ancient port


and the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization


and the Cathédrale La Major, which was breathtaking.

We followed our sight-seeing with a yummy lunch at a street side café which was right across the street from a little flea market (I of course did some shopping.) Finishing the day off with a cup of coffee and some WiFi before we headed back to the ship for our final cruise into Genoa.

While Genoa was not technically part of our cruise itinerary we did spend the night prior and the night after our cruise there so we were able to see the old town and the harbor which were quite nice.IMG_3995

For our first cruise experience I would give this one an A+. While we may have only spent a day at each port we were able to see so much and enjoy out time by letting someone else do most of the planning and organization. The excursions allowed us to see places we may not have known to visit if we were planning on our own. If you want to save money you can plan your own port visit but sometimes I find that my time (and worry) are worth the extra money so I’m glad we did them.

Special thanks to MSC Cruises and our awesome ship the Splendida for making this an amazing trip,

And to my children who never tire of having their picture taken.

Blue Steel!

Cruising the Western Mediterranean – Spring Break 2015 Part One

DSC07648Cefalù Palermo, Italy

Hello all, Have you been missing me? Hopefully not too much. I have only been gone a week but it seems like a month. I have missed you but I will admit I have enjoyed the break. Since I have been away a bit, I thought I would share with you what I was doing while I was gone.

This year for spring break we took a seven-day cruise around the Western Mediterranean. One last big trip before we move back to the States this summer. This was my family’s first cruise and overall it was a great success. We chose a cruise for the ease of seeing many places on one trip and because we traveled with another family and the logistics of getting seven people around Europe would have been daunting. My husband who was initially not keen on the idea of a cruise and being “herded,”  loved it. “This is great, we don’t have to do anything!” were his exact words. I am usually the one that does the planning so I’m not sure what he would normally be doing but he was probably just glad not to hear me stress about anything.

The first port on our cruise was Rome, Italy


We made stops at Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square

The Colosseum…


and the Pantheon…

Rome was lovely and we were excited to see some of these amazing monuments but it was also very crowded with tourists. This may have been due to the fact that we arrived the day after Easter which is a peak time for visitors.

I actually enjoyed wandering through the streets and the amazing lunch we had more than braving the crowds at the historical sites.


After spending the days exploring the ports each night we cruised and woke up to beautiful coastlines like this one.


Or next port was Palermo, Italy where we traveled to the nearby town of Cefalù. This little town sits on a rocky coast that could not be prettier.


We spent the day walking around the town, viewing the cathedral, and enjoying the views from the beach.


After another night at sea and a little on board entertainment


We arrived in Valetta, Malta. Malta was one of my favorite ports. This prosperous island nation was bright and sunny, boasting 300 days of sunshine per year.  This means Malta is one of the few places in Europe which are “green” all year round. A bonus for English speakers, Malta was formerly part of the British Empire so it is a great stop for picking up books and magazines in English.


That’s our ship, the Splendida, at the port of Valetta, Malta.


My son is a Titanic fanatic so this cruise was a dream come true for him, fortunately it ended better…


A few shots from St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina, Malta.


and the gates into Mdina.


Most of the buildings in Malta featured these lovely painted bay windows that I could not get enough of.

and of course a little British influence the kids loved.


Hope you are enjoying the photos. I will share the last three ports tomorrow so I don’t overload you.

Paris in Pictures – Part 2

ParisI have so many beautiful pictures of our time in Paris, I hope you don’t mind one more day of sharing. After five days of beautiful sight it is hard not to have some amazing pictures plus Paris has some of the most beautiful architecture and detail I have seen in all my travels. I am so lucky to have had the chance to spend some time sharing this adventure with my family, a perfect Christmas gift.


ParisWe attended the Christmas Gregorian mass at Notre Dame Cathedral and had a friendly tourist take the perfect Christmas picture (too bad I didn’t do Christmas cards this year.)

ParisMusée d’Orsay reminds me why Paris makes me think of home (New Orleans.)

ParisLa Seine River, pretty even on a cloudy day.

ParisAt the Conciergerie, Paris’s oldest clock: erected in 1370.

ParisAlthough it was cloudy most of the week, on Christmas day the clouds parted and presented us with the most beautiful day of our trip. Much of Paris was open on Christmas day which allowed us a chance to ride the Roue de Paris Ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde. The ride is fairly short but the view of the city was spectacular.

ParisAnd then there were the sights of everyday Paris, this colorful gallery entrance…

ParisThe Art Nouveau Metro stops…

ParisCandy colors…

ParisThe fountain at Place St. Michel …

ParisBeautiful tiles at almost every Paris café…

ParisAnd just plain interesting sights…

We spent a day at the Louvre, we couldn’t possibly see it all in one day but we had a plan to divide and conquer. The boys and girls split up so while the girls enjoyed  Napoleon III’s apartment the boys explored the Near East Antiquities.

ParisEven without the art the Louvre is an amazing building…

With details both historic and modern…

ParisWe took in as much as we could in one day and even stopped by to say hello to Napoleon. Honestly you could spend a week at the Louvre trying to see it all and still miss some.

ParisI would recommend anyone who gets a chance to spend some time in Paris even if you just sit on the street and enjoy the view. We had a wonderful trip and wish I could have seen more but maybe another day…

Paris in Pictures

Paris in PicturesMacaroons

Since I arrived in Paris on Sunday, I have been running non stop. Five days are definitely not enough time to see it all but doesn’t mean I can’t try. All this running doesn’t allow for much time for blogging but in the few days we have been here I have seen some beautiful sights I thought I would share. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen a few of these but I figured I would share here too in case you’ve missed the some views of Paris. Enjoy!

Paris in PicturesArc de Triomphe
Paris in PicturesParis Metro Station
Paris in PicturesHotel de Ville
Paris in PicturesLocks on Pont des Arts Bridge
Paris in PicturesNotre Dame Cathedral
Paris in PicturesMosaic tile at a Paris cafe
Paris in PicturesSaint Eustache Cathedral
Paris in PicturesFrench Onion Soup
Paris in PicturesEiffel Tower
Paris in PicturesCatacombs of Paris

Shopping for the Home in Amsterdam

???????????????????????????????In between the sightseeing and miles and encounteredmiles of walking I  was able to do a little shopping in Amsterdam.  All thru the city are amazing home stores of all different styles. I only had a chance to visit a few but there are so many more to be seen. I was overjoyed by all the options and would love to return on a shopping ONLY visit. If you get the opportunity to visit here are a few of my favorites.

Raw Materials
Rozengracht 229
Th perfect place to find unusual furniture, interior accessories and decorations. There is a story behind each product. All products in this store are unpolished, weathered, used, recycled, made from natural materials or simply old. raw materials 1

de Weldaad
Noordermarkt 35-36
Reestraat 1
With two shops in the historic center of Amsterdam you are sure to find something you can’t live without. This shop has a unique ambiance and amazing selection of furniture and interior decorations form around the world. The owner loves the hunt and finds household effects everywhere from demolition firms to antique markets.

Kitsch Kitchen
Rozengracht 8
For a southern girl this store is like visiting Mexico. Home accessories in every color, bolts of oilcloth, tons of kitschy items and party decor including piñatas. This store is just plan fun.

Van Woustraat 4
Rozengracht 204-210
One of my favorites. This store started as a pop-up and has expanded to two locations. Hutspot searchs for new and interesting brands, designers, artists and entrepreneurs and gives them the chance to expose their products in their own space within the shops. Open to new approaches, Hutspot is always on the lookout for unique products that are created with care. Full of beautifully crafted home decor , clothing, accessories, and tons of mid-century furniture this store is a must see. Everything in the shops is for sale even the seating and tables in the coffee shop inside the store.

Hustpot 3Hustpot 2 Hustpot 1
Dille & Kamille
Nieuwendijk 16
This is a chain store with 20+ locations thought Belgium and the Netherlands but it is still a must see. A beautiful store full of lovely displays of functional products, your everyday basics including gadgets for home, garden and kitchen.  From tools to tea each item is simple but beautiful and preferably made from natural materials. Dille & Kamille is also known for living in harmony with the environment, everything they do is with respect and care for nature.