Saturday, August 29, 2015

A love letter to New Orleans

Dear New Orleans,

The nation has turned its attention your way because ten years ago Hurricane Katrina tried to wipe you off the map. Presidents, current and former, visit and tour and speak amid reminders of the city's uneven recovery. Media outlets create splashy features. Everyone seems to have something to say.

I've written about you on many occasions but today I'm writing to you. My beloved New Orleans, how can I possibly express what you mean to me? From my first glimpse of you as a new bride I've been in love. Love is never entirely rational but there are many reasons to love a city like New Orleans.
  • Hurricane parties - We attended one on Bourbon Street the Saturday before Katrina. We had made what plans we could so what else was there to do but dance with new friends?
  • Mardi Gras - This annual celebration is anticipated each year with a fervor beyond reason. Your people never seriously considered skipping it that first year post-Katrina and it served as notice to the rest of the nation that New Orleans would rise again.
  • Courage - It takes courage to live in a place below sea level. And it took courage to come back to neighborhoods totally wiped out, rebuild and plant flowers when no one else was back yet. 
  • Rhythm - Life in New Orleans ebbs and flows, with an occasional crescendo that will leave you breathless. 
  • Louis Armstrong International Airport - You've just gotta love a city whose airport greets you with New Orleans jazz (sometimes live) and the smell of Lucky Dogs.
  • Costumes - Dressing up isn't just for children and Halloween. It's also for random Tuesdays. 
  • Living in the moment - Life can be rather unpredictable in a city like New Orleans. Best enjoy each moment as it comes and not worry too much about the future. Sip cocktails with friends in a courtyard, watch the boats on the river, spend an afternoon listening to live music in a dark bar, stroll the Quarter with absolutely no plans or direction, say "yes". To everything. 
  • Acceptance - Differences aren't just tolerated; they are embraced. 
  • Food - Oh, my goodness! What can I possibly say about the food that hasn't been said a million times before? Let's just say that New Orleans has forever ruined me. Never again will I be happy with bland, poorly seasoned food. 
  • Parades - Any day, any time, any reason. Or no reason at all. 
  • 25 cent martinis - At lunch. 
  • Music - "Without music, life would be a mistake." New Orleans takes this Nietzsche quote to heart and the world is richer because of it. 
  • People - You can't know New Orleans if you don't take the time to know her people. Friendly, generous, accepting and joyous. The people of New Orleans will call you darlin' and remind you that life is best lived in community with others. 
So today, as the world remembers Katrina, I'll be thinking about you. You stole my heart so long ago but I've willingly given you my soul. Take a moment to remember but then shake it off. Sackcloth and ashes are not your style. 


Previous New Orleans posts:

Friday, August 28, 2015

French Friday ~ Living the Good Life

I have no idea where my interest in France came from but I do know why I've maintained my passion for it. There's just something about the French way of life which speaks to my soul. I've read about it for years and finally experienced it for myself this past fall when we took our first trip to Paris. Notice how I said "first trip". I am determined it won't be my last.

Here are a few of the reasons I admire the French way of life:

  1. Appearance - The French are known round the world for their personal style and this reputation is well-deserved. David and I spent many an hour sitting in cafés people watching. I've since heard David tell many friends that the Parisians are the most beautiful people he's ever seen - even the men. It's hard to explain just how they manage to look so stylish but I the stereotypical scarf is certainly part of it. Almost everyone we saw was wearing one. There is something adorable about a two-year-old with an expertly knotted scarf. And the elderly men managed to look quite debonair in their well-fitted clothes, a scarf casually tossed around the neck and perhaps a hat or fancy cane. No one looked overdressed or fussy...just casually attractive. 
  2. Appreciation for simple pleasures - A tiny cup of espresso sipped slowly at a sidewalk café, strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg, watching the boats on the Seine, walking arm-in-arm with one's lover, three-hour lunches...these are things which make life pleasurable. 
  3. Conversation - I don't think I ever saw anyone staring at their phone in a Parisian restaurant. Rather, everyone seemed to be engaged in enthusiastic conversation. The French do seem to enjoy engaging discussions. 
  4. Priorities - Few of us can have everything, no matter where we live. The key to a life well-lived is to make deliberate choices. The French seem to have a knack for this. The average French person lives in a smaller home or apartment than the average American. They have fewer clothes and in general, less "stuff". But they tend to choose quality over quantity. The French also value time spent actually living. As a nation they have decided that fewer hours spent working each week and taking a month of vacation each year are important and they guard their rights with passion. And strikes. 
  5. Food and Wine -  France is justifiably famous for their cuisine and wines. From the flaky breakfast croissant to the perfect potatoes served with dinner, everything we ate in Paris was delicious. And the bread! Oh, my goodness. It was sheer perfection. The wine was wonderful, too. A glass of table wine is cheaper than a soft drink and so much better. We indulged in a glass with each lunch and shared a bottle with our dinners. There is truly not much better than a three-course meal and a bottle of wine shared with the love of one's life in a Parisian restaurant. 
I miss Paris almost every day but I'm working on bringing a bit of the French way of life into ours. And I'm dreaming of our next trip! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

My birthday weekend get-away

My birthday isn't until Thursday but David and I did our usual "weekend at the Skirvin" celebration this past weekend. We went up Friday evening after David got off work, stopping in Norman for dinner at Panera Bread so we could also buy cherry danish pastries to take with us. Because...CHERRY DANISH PASTRY! 

After we checked in to the hotel, we changed clothes and went to our favorite OKC hangout - the Red Piano Lounge in the Skirvin. We know most of the bartenders there and always have a good time chatting with them and people-watching. Mostly, we just tried to relax and decompress from the busy weeks we've both had recently. 

We generally don't make any plans in advance when we take these little get-aways but this time I had a couple of things in mind. If you follow me on Facebook you probably know that David and I love to stargaze. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that there is a small planetarium at the OKC Science Museum. After lunch at The Garage Burgers and Beer (quite tasty, by the way) we headed to the museum. The planetarium is included in the general admission to the museum and since we had about a 40 minute wait until the next show we decided to walk around and check out the museum. It's a cool, hands-on place. We had taken our kids a few times but it's been YEARS since we'd been there. Yeah, it's kind of for kids but we still had fun. 

The planetarium show was really interesting and the young woman who did it was quite humorous. We both really enjoyed it.

After the show we spent another 45 minutes or so checking out the rest of the museum. We especially enjoyed the train and space exhibits. David has always loved model trains and I love riding on real ones. I think we need to plan another train trip soon. 

We stopped at a Sonic for a Butterfinger Blast (David) and root beer float (me) then headed back to the hotel. We relaxed a bit then got dressed up for dinner. One of the other things I wanted to do was to eat dinner by water. I've really been craving the ocean but since a trip to the coast isn't in our near future I figured the next best thing would be a large lake. I had read excellent reviews for Redrock Canyon Grill on Hefner Lake. We called for reservations but they don't take them. It was after 8 p.m. so we figured it probably wouldn't be that long a wait. We were wrong. They told us it would be a 70 minute wait! Ordinarily we would have gone somewhere else but it was a gorgeous night, we weren't very hungry yet (thanks to the late afternoon stop at Sonic) and the restaurant has an outdoor patio with a bar. They also had live music. 

We spent a very contented hour listening to music, sipping our drinks and admiring this view:

It was totally worth the wait. I had the rotisserie chicken, glazed carrots and the best mashed potatoes I've ever had. This may very well be my favorite restaurant in OKC now. 

Back at the hotel, we settled in at the bar which was pretty empty for a Saturday night. However, that didn't last long. There were four weddings that night and the place filled up quickly with a crowd that provided good people watching, to say the least. Over the course of the evening, there were at least seven glasses broken. The all-female team of bartenders and servers kicked it into high gear and it was like poetry in motion. Or, as I said to David, it was like watching a ballet behind the bar and a 4th grade playground on the other side. Truly entertaining. 

We never seem to get up in time for breakfast at the hotel but this time we did. Well, it helped that they serve breakfast until 11 on Sundays. We had just about finished eating when a man with several guitars set up his gear right next to our table. Turns out this was Edgar Cruz, an amazing guitarist. (You can read more about him on my Well-Groomed Hippie blog.) We stayed and listened to a few songs and had a short chat with him about getting him a show here in Ada. 

We checked out of the hotel and then went to the final destination on my list for the weekend - the OKC Museum of Art. I've been dying to see the Fabergé exhibit.

When we bought our tickets we found out that there would be a tour starting in about an hour. David wisely suggested we go look at the exhibit ourselves first which turned out to be an excellent plan. There must have been 100 people in the tour and it would have been impossible to get a good look at everything while in that crowd. The tour was absolutely fascinating and the exhibit items were stunning. Now I'm on the lookout for documentaries on the Romanov family and Fabergé. 

We stopped in Norman on our way home so I could pick up some groceries at Natural Grocers. We got home late afternoon, ate an early dinner, unpacked and watched the final episode of Astronaut Wives Club. Oh, how sad I am that the show has ended! We then tried to work in a little stargazing before bed. It wasn't exactly cloudy but the moon was bright and there was so much humidity that we couldn't see many stars. After a few minutes of looking at pretty much nothing we decided to call it a night. We were both yawning by that time and David had to be up by 5:45 a.m. Today it was back to the rat race but oh, what a nice weekend we had! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Shooting stars and fried green tomatoes

The older I get, the more I treasure those simple, yet special moments. Often, they don't sound like a big deal but if you truly focus on the experience they begin to weave the tapestry of a life well-lived.

Yesterday a dear friend drove from the city - an hour and a half away - simply to have lunch with me. We have a history of "lunch" turning into a four hour gab fest so I cleared the entire day in preparation. Good thing, too. We set a record...our personal best...clocking in at about six and a half hours.

We met at a local restaurant which has some of the best fried green tomatoes anywhere. We split a half order as our appetizer and both of us thoroughly enjoyed this Southern treat. A little over an hour later, our lunch finished but our conversation barely begun, I suggested we head over to a local coffee shop and continue our visit.

It was a surprisingly nice day coming on the heels of several excruciatingly hot ones. We sat on the shady patio and enjoyed the cool breeze as we caught up on one another's lives. I honestly can't think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon.

Finally, we had to say goodbye so Roz could head for home. But not before we made tentative plans for a trip to San Francisco sometime in the next several months. A few years ago we took what we fondly refer to as our "Thelma and Louise road trip".  It was such fun and we are both looking forward to another little trip together.

I made a quick stop at the grocery store for a few items and got to talk to my niece who works there and was excited to tell me about her new dog, then went home and quickly whipped up a nice little supper. By the way, if you'd like the recipe I made - Hawaiian Ham and Cheese, click here. I cut up a fresh pineapple to go with it and we watched the final episode of "The Daily Show" while we ate.

We had heard that it would likely be a good night to see the Perseids meteor shower so after we ate and cleaned up the kitchen we dragged our zero gravity chairs way out in our backyard. We reclined in our chairs, Shiloh between us, and began to scan the night sky. The temperature had dropped to the low 70s which felt almost chilly after days of highs reaching the high 90s and the occasional 100 degree day.

Sitting out there together, listening to the cicadas, chatting occasionally but mostly just's one of our favorite things to do. It's a quiet little respite in a sometimes too noisy world. And it's one of those little moments in our day which we have come to treasure. We saw perhaps 10 "shooting stars" during our time outside last night. Not quite as dramatic as we might have hoped but still pretty special.

And that's the way life can be if we live it intentionally and make a point to savor it. Time spent with people we love doing something simple makes life special. It's not so much the big, exciting events that lead to happiness. Family, friends, shooting stars and fried green tomatoes - these are the components of a life worth living.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A new website for me!

I've got some rather exciting news. If you follow me on Facebook or receive my newsletter, you already know this but it occurred to me that I had not shared the news here. I am in the process of building a website which will be called:

All of the content from this blog, as well as my food blog, "Dee's Kitchen" will be integrated into the new site. In addition to my usual Tea With Dee and Dee's Kitchen posts, the new site will include curated content on these topics:
  • home and garden
  • food (recipes, menus, guest posts, etc.)
  • French-inspired living
  • travel
  • New Orleans
  • music, film, books (including reviews)
  • fashion and style
  • green living
  • current events
  • TEA! (of course) 
I have also lined up several passionate writers who will be doing feature posts and I am really excited about sharing their writings with you. 

If you follow Tea With Dee and/or Dee's Kitchen on Facebook, here is the scoop over there. I have changed the name of the Tea With Dee Facebook page to "Life With Dee". I'm beginning to share my usual Dee's Kitchen posts there and will eventually shut down the Dee's Kitchen page. I'm trying to streamline things a bit. I'm also working on consistency across all social media platforms so if you follow me on Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram you may notice some minor changes in name/avatar/website link.

Some of you subscribe to my Tea With Dee newsletter. I began writing it back in February of 2009 but allowed it to languish last year.  I am reviving it but in a different format via Mail Chimp. It is currently still called "Tea With Dee" but I will be changing that to "Life With Dee" so it corresponds to the website. I haven't decided how often it will be sent - probably monthly at first but hopefully weekly at some point. You may sign up for it here: 

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So, that's what's going on around here right now. I'm in frequent conversation with my lovely and brilliant daughter, Lisa, who blogs at Retro Housewife Goes Green and owns the Green Oklahoma website. She is building my site for me and every day I am reminded that I did a good thing homeschooling/unschooling that girl and letting her spend a LOT of time on the computer. She's extremely busy with her own projects but is graciously working in time for her mother. We *hope* to launch my site the end of this month but it all depends on how smoothly the migration of my old blogs into the new site goes. Cross your fingers!
*Note: If you read my other blog, The Well-Groomed Hippie and/or follow the corresponding Facebook page, there are going to be some changes. After I get the website up and running smoothly, I'm going to turn The Well-Groomed Hippie into a newsletter instead of a blog. The corresponding Facebook page will remain. I haven't been posting much except Music Monday posts in the past year or so but that will change. In addition to writing my own content, I have arranged for a well-respected history professor to write some features on social justice issues. I'm looking forward to this project but it's going to be a little farther down the road as I will be focusing on the new website first. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Happy birthday, Lucy!

I've been a fan of the I Love Lucy show since I was a little girl. Over the years I have seen every single episode numerous times. I've been collecting and watching all the episodes on DVD, too. For me, it just never gets old.

Happy birthday, Lucille Ball!

Follow Deanna Piercy ~'s board I Love Lucy on Pinterest.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

What I'm Into (July 2015 edition)

I haven't done one of these in ages. Seems like a good time to get back in the habit. Since it's been so long, I'm going to include a bit from the last of June, too. 

  • July, for our family, always begins with our daughter's birthday. Isn't she gorgeous?

  • We celebrated the 4th of July at the home of our niece, Leslie, and her boyfriend, Will. 

  • Chris hosted a going away party for his friend, Eli, who is moving to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. We had about 25-30 people here for a campout, music and karoke.

The last weekend of June we attended a wedding in Tulsa then spent the weekend there celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary which was the weekend before. 

Around My Home

We've been busy but still made time for several nights of stargazing. Last night we took the telescope outside and looked at the blue moon. Shiloh likes to join us for these quiet evenings under the stars.


The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story  by Julia Reed

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing  by Marie Kondo

Watching - Movies and T.V.
  • T.V. -
 I bought the first two seasons of The Donna Reed Show for a little old-fashioned entertainment for myself but it turns out that David loves the show, too. Just so long as he doesn't expect me to start wearing heels and pearls around the house! 

We are also enjoying The Astronaut Wives Club. The history is interesting, of course, but I'm also loving the fashions and home decor. 
  • Movies - 
The kids took David to see the new Terminator movie to celebrate Father's Day. Absolutely not my thing so I watched Magic Mike XXL instead. 

Last night we watched My Old Lady on Netflix. We both really enjoyed it.

Listening - Music and Podcasts

Our city has been hosting "Music in the Park" several Sunday evenings throughout the summer. I was asked to schedule the musicians. So far we've been able to attend two of these and really enjoyed them. 

Food - Recipes, Restaurants and Grocery Hauls
  • While in Tulsa we looked for a sports bar where we could watch Women's World Cup. We found Fat Daddy's where I also had one of the best Reuben sandwiches I've ever had, as well as delicious onion rings. 

I don't have any recipes or grocery hauls to share this time but I will next month. Promise!

Out and About - Trips and Events
  • While in Tulsa we enjoyed a show by Let's Zeppelin, a tribute band. 

Featured Blog Posts
Special Moments

  • Karoke in my backyard:

I think that about wraps things up for July. If you write "What I'm Into" posts I'd love for you to leave me a link in the comments so I can read yours. I'm linking up with What I'm Into on Leigh Kramer's site.