And people and places all looked a little different as the veil between worlds thinned for the night...
And of course we decorated!
Until next time.... Y'all stay Charming!
And we were all able to meet up for a few days together in West Virginia! We even managed to visit the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant (more on that later!)
We were also Charmed to come across this guy (we named him Lafayette) on a shopping trip, and had to buy one for everybody!
We're also planning adventures in travel, cooking, (it's getting on toward Gumbo season!) and holiday get-togethers.
So come spend a bit of your autumn wandering down some Charming Southern Trails!
Y'all stay Charming!
Spring time in south Louisiana...ah...it's spectacular!
We found a true treasure while visiting Hammond.
If you have never stayed at a bed and breakfast, check one out! Stay in a room at a home of someone who knows the area you are visiting.
With free wifi and complimentary parking -- add the concierge service -- and I have just created a reason to choose this bed and breakfast over an area hotel any day of the week!
This family lives at Michabelle, shops and works locally and has a wealth of knowledge about the Hammond area. They are very happy to share the best restaurant list for the area -- and boy is there a list!
A short walk out the main house, down the leaf filled brick road, and past the wonderful flowers led to an exercise room--with a hot tub/pool!
Seriously! A glass dome ceiling! Yeah, I'm in! Let's exercise!
We did not have the traditional continental breakfast where we head through the line, pick up the premade muffin to pop into the microwave to be placed on the styrofoam saucer to be eaten and washed down with a cup of coffee made in a commercial coffee pot...
None of that here!
We had a delicious homemade breakfast served on heirloom family china presented in this lovely dining area...
Oh yeah...the coffee was served from a beautiful side board with real cream poured from a silver creamer!
A step back in time...the home owners' attention to detail made the home uniquely warm and inviting.
Located right off the home entrance and to the left was this lovely room--the library...
I truly did want to sit awhile and ponder over and discover the books on those shelves.
With free wifi, I noticed a guest working from this great room.
I also observed the owner and a bride to be planning her big day! This place apparently specializes in creating wonderfulness for that special time in a gal's life.
The views from our balcony...
The Michabelle was a great treat! We will be back. Michabelle.com
You don't need a giant Hay-Bale Bunny Rabbit to know it's Easter time! We just look out our windows. Nature does most of our outdoor decorating!
Of course we decorate inside too!
Well, one of those isn't really decoration... It's just cupcakes. But let's be honest, food is at the center of basically every holiday in the South!
Wishing you and yours a very happy Easter!
With love from Charming Southern Trails. Y'all have fun and stay Charming!
Y'all remember a couple of weeks back we were telling you about our trip to the Alien Gravesite in Aurora, Texas? Well, after we finished up there, we kept wandering and discovered the lovely little town of Decatur. I guess what really happened was that we were hungry-- hunting down the interred remains of extra-terrestrials will build up an appetite! And as you might have heard, we LOVE to eat!
So imagine our excitement, when, just as we got back on the highway, and were starting to get a little snippy with hunger (H-angry, as Polly so succinctly phrases it) we saw this sign:
Traveling across Texas, we'd all seen the Sweetie Pie's sign for years. This was the day we finally stopped.
And it was delicious!
Another monument to Sweetie Pie... if she was the original ribeye, she did not die in vain.
The food was spectacular! Like I said, we were hungry. We happily gobbled down a famous ribeye as well as giant baked potatoes with all the fixin's! We whole-heartedly recommend it for the next time you're within a hundred miles of Decatur. Just check out their reviews on TripAdvisor.
We managed to stop chowing down long enough to enjoy the local entertainment. The beautiful and talented Lauren serenaded us as we ate lunch. Take a look:
From Sweetie Pie's we continued wandering around Decatur. We looked all over the lovely town square and the unique courthouse at it's center. We stopped in and ogled the goodies of the local shops, then we drove around a bit and encountered this:
Turns out this nice guy (who declined our requests for photos) is the owner. His in-laws built the Petrified Wood Station in Decatur in 1927 and he and his wife loved the property so much that they held onto it. They don't operate it as a filling station and motel anymore, but he still uses one of the buildings as his office.
Over the years, the Petrified Wood Station has seen some interesting things. Bonnie and Clyde stayed in the middle room on the way to meet their fate along a lonely road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
The friendly proprietor told us that while they were here, Bonnie and Clyde were quiet and pleasant guests. Obviously that was an act. They checked in under assumed names and thankfully, left in a couple of days, causing no problems. It was not until much later that the owners learned who their infamous guests had actually been.
The Petrified Wood Station has also been used as a backdrop for a Faith Hill music video and in the movie Pearl Harbor.
Stop by and maybe you'll be lucky enough to meet the owner and get the personalized tour we were treated to!
As we were leaving, one contributor snarkily asked "While your in-laws were doing all this, just what were you doing?" Snark. It seldom pays dividends. The charming proprietor was a nuclear engineer at the Naval Yard at Newport News, Virginia.
Well bless his heart!
'Til next time,
Y'all stay Charming!
Recently, two Charming contributors found themselves in Dallas and one said to the other, "So, what do you want to do?" Well, at Charming Southern Trails, that can be a dangerous question.
We're a somewhat eclectic group, and it was decided that we should definitely check out the Alien Gravesite at Aurora, Texas!
In 1897, long before the UFO craze of the 1940's and 1950's, a "spaceship" (as described by the historical marker!) crashed in Aurora and its "pilot" was killed on impact. The towns-folk, being earnest and thoughtful Southerners, held a small ceremony and buried the creature in the local cemetery.
Here's a copy of the original report from the Dallas Morning News:
Jennifer had heard this little-known bit of Texas lore on Coast-to-Coast AM, and when we realized how close it was to Dallas, we, naturally, had to go!
On the way there, we got a little distracted. Signs like this are pretty much traps for us:
Undeterred, and with a few extra pieces of Blue Willow for Jennifer's collection, we got back on the road, headed to Aurora!
Google helped us find the cemetery which is still used today. We wanted to be respectful of the area and the people resting there, so we tried to leave our silliness and ballyhoo in the car. Which is kinda difficult for us. We have a policy of having fun no matter what... Even at the local graveyard!
Guidebook in hand (we picked up a book called Unexpected Texas that had a section on the Aurora, Texas Alien Gravesite here) we began our search at the main gate.
Following the directions from the book, we started looking around.
Susan's Better Half diligently stalked around until he finally found it!
Notice the tree? This is just the spot pictured in this photo that includes the original grave marker.
Because we're superstitious, we said a cleansing prayer before we left the cemetery. We don't need anything scary following us home!
It was definitely a fun afternoon. After we'd located the Alien Gravesite, we spent a few minutes looking around the historic cemetery.
By the time we'd finished up our hunt, we were hungry...
We can't wait to tell you about the rest of our Texas day trip, Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes, and Decatur, Texas, coming soon!
Until next time,
Y'all stay Charming!
Wishing everyone a fun and exciting Fat Tuesday!
Happy Mardi Gras from Charming Southern Trails!
Just came home to find this exciting delivery at the door:
Oooooh Yes! Y'all already know it's Mardi Gras! We're all from Louisiana and we get pretty excited about Mardi Gras!
And King Cake! For those of you who missed Louisiana History in the 7th grade, the King Cake is the traditional treat eaten on the Twelfth Day of Christmas or Epiphany (January 6th) which marks the beginning of Carnival season or the time between Epiphany and Lent-- what we in the South call Mardi Gras season. King Cakes were named to commemorate the Three Kings who visited the Baby Jesus.
In Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a big deal. Basically every town has a parade and in the mostly Catholic, southern part of the state, most people take Fat Tuesday off and everything closes down.
Now, everyone has a favorite bakery for King Cakes. There's plenty of debate, but I'll tell you, Bailey's Bakery in Leesville makes a damn fine King Cake. Our relatives in Shreveport prefer Tubb's. Unfortunately, neither of these lovely King Cakin' establishments will ship to our Yankee climes, so those of us who live away had to find other options.
A few years ago, we discovered Joe Gambino's Bakery. Gambino's is kind enough to ship King Cakes year-round! Last year, a family member who shall remain unnamed ate an entire King Cake herself, thus upsetting every other family member who was not even offered a bite. I won't shame her further, but seriously, if you want a whole one for yourself, just order a couple extras!
King Cakes are the essence of wonderful celebration. Jennifer orders them for Christmas and her Better Half requests them as his birthday cakes. They taste like a giant, soft, wonderful donut filled with little bits of heaven.
We REALLY love King Cake! In addition to eating them for numerous celebrations other than Mardi Gras, we also send them to everyone we know. Polly reported ordering two for herself, two for her Better Half's office, one for family in Chicago, another for in-laws in West Virginia, as well as random orders for friends as far away as Oregon! Oregon?! Is that even in this country?!
Some people will tell you that the party is the best part of Mardi Gras. They're wrong. Obviously it's the King Cake!
Order a Gambino's King Cake here and tell them you heard about them right here at CharmingSouthernTrails.com!
Y'all stay Charming!
A couple of weekends back, Better Half wanted to go to Gettysburg. While we're in Washington D.C. he really feels the need to get his history on... I really feel like I'm spending way too much time in museums...
Anyway, Better Half LOVES Civil War history. He could literally teach a class on it. So when he realized that the battlefield at Gettysburg was only a two hour drive, he got really excited. In anticipation of the trip, he wanted the whole family to watch Gettysburg the movie (really?!... not exactly an upbeat film) and Lincoln (also) the movie (and also not upbeat). Thankfully, I managed to get really busy and avoid the Gettysburg foreplay.
So we hopped in the car and headed north, deep into the Yankee land of Pennsylvania. One of the first things we noticed about Gettysburg is that there's definitely a theme....
They feel pretty strongly about Lincoln. Seriously. Everything in the town of Gettysburg is something Lincoln-related.
We arrived Friday night and settled into our hotel, which boasted a giant painting of Abraham Lincoln facing an equally giant painting of Jefferson Davis across the foyer. It was weirdly tense walking between those paintings...
On Saturday morning we naturally had to visit the Lincoln Diner for a tasty breakfast before heading out to the Gettysburg National Military Park to tour around. The Museum was amazing! It was neat, clean and beautifully arranged, with an awesome gift shop (the best part of any museum trip)!
The Museum also features an amazing cyclorama (a huge panoramic painting) of the Battle of Gettysburg. The painting was done in 1882 and depicts Pickett's Charge. It stands 42 feet tall and 337 feet wide. It's so huge that it's housed in this special building:
Initially, the cyclorama was painted and installed in Boston, by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux. It was so dramatic that veterans of the battle wept when they arrived to see it. You can see below how realistic the painting is. The battle field today is on the left, and a photo of the cyclorama is on the right:
There was a section of the museum dedicated to items recovered from the battlefield. The battlefield was actually the site of several family farms and homes, many of which were destroyed. I was struck by the tea set. Can you imagine the horror of having a civil war roll through your house?!
Well, that got a little morbid...
And on another morbid subject we also did this:
We had a great trip! The next time you have the chance, spend a couple of days in Gettysburg. Sure, it's a yankee town, but you'll have a lot of fun!
Y'all stay charming!
Holy Moses, it's been cold! Y'all all know we're a bunch of Southern ladies, so cold weather is a rare and unpleasant experience for us. Polly and Jennifer live along the eastern seaboard right now and are directly in the path of Snowmageddon 2016 (not that any of us are freaking out... Although we did take a moment to ransack the Target, though... just in case).
So it's looking cold... Time for some hot, tasty, Louisiana comfort food!
This Jambalaya recipe is based on the one that our Grandy used to make. She was from way down in New Iberia, Louisiana, and boy, could she cook! Polly will tell you this particular Jambalaya recipe tastes almost exactly like Grandy's, but it doesn't look like it. We can't quite figure out how to make it look right...
Even so, this is a spectacular recipe that will warm up even the coldest winter days! It's one of Polly's most requested dishes for tailgating season!
Here's how you make it:
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
1 to 2 Tbsp shortening
2 Tbsp flour
1 lb Cajun seasoned smoked sausage, cut
3 cups raw chicken breast, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
5 cups of peeled and diced tomatoes, drained if canned
2 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups raw rice
About 4 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
In a large Dutch oven, melt shortening. Add flour and stir until blended to make a simple roux. Cook to a light tan color, then add sausage and chicken. Sauté for five minutes or so. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and parsley. Continue sautéing until onions are translucent. Stir in tomatoes and water, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, cayenne pepper. (Add optional hot sauce). Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 mins, or until rice is tender. Stir frequently. Serves 8 to 10.
Let us know how your batch turns out!
Y'all stay Charming! And warm!