Mother’s Day redux

Published on Monday, May 10th, 2010

The holiday was first about my killing myself to get my mom’s gift to Mississippi in time for the exalted day. In spite of the fact that Joel from Brown’s Fine Art and I had conspired in the fall of last year to deal with this issue, I did not find the time to do anything about it until, oh, Monday before Mother’s Day. I painted this canvas awhile ago, but it never naturally found its home. My mother collects very fine art, so when she casually mentioned that she would like to have the painting I was very excited. I’ve painted quite a few works, and the one other painting she really liked was lost in Hurricane Katrina. I was quite eager to get this to her – but in classic fashion, I had to make it extremely complicated. First, the painting is quite large – three feet by five feet. And I didn’t really want a frame for it so much as I wanted a nice fastener to complement the provencial French antiques in her bedroom – there was enough hardwood in the room already. The solutions? Send Joel the unstretched rolled canvas. Buy thick gallery stretchers for the canvas and have them sent directly to Joel. Buy fabulous two inch wide cotton velvet ribbon and send directly to Joel. Send Joel directions for the perfect bow to festoon the top of the painting. Buy one and a half inch nailhead to attach the ribbon around the edges of the stretched canvas in a wonderful hand gold leafed finish. Great!

Not great – there is no such nailhead finished off in this way, so I have to find the size and then do it myself, since you know I am an expert at gold leafing techniques (not). When it dawned on me that I had exactly two days to arrange purchases and deliveries, get the nailhead finished and get it all to Joel with time to spare for his work. I called Troy, the concierge of my mother’s condo building, to ask him if Joel could access my mom’s condo when she wasn’t at home, and he was enthusiastically helpful in playing our little spy game to surprise her.

At this point you may wonder why I would go through all this when I could have just sent a lovely card and flowers, but the designer in me had go ahead and finish this mission. I realize most people don’t care how many steps go into a thing hanging on the wall in someone’s house. But I knew it would be fabulous and Mom would love a surprise! So I surrendered to my project addiction and got it all together.

Mission accomplished per Joel at 4:30 PM central Saturday before Mother’s Day. The Eagle landed Sunday evening when she returned from visiting friends on the Coast. In these photos you can check out the process of leafing the nailhead, and the photos of the painting installed in her bedroom. My Mississippi conspirators pulled this off without a hitch and I can’t thank them enough!

Part two of Mother’s Day here in the ‘hood focused on relaxation, snuggles, kisses and a killer two hour mani pedi with massage. Accents of the day were flowers, tear inducing cards, and a fun three way conversation with my mom and my brother. It was perfect – thanks honey xoxo

How About a Little Arty DIY?

Published on Friday, July 10th, 2020

Remember the super secret surprise Mother’s Day maneuvers I pulled to get a painting hung in my mom’s house? I use nailhead in many applications – upholstery, decorative objects, and in framing large works of art. I never can find large nails in high quality finishes that I like, so sometimes I do the finishing myself. I love a ribbon frame in certain styles, this one in particular being appropriately feminine with Mom’s French antiques surrounding her silk and velvet sleigh bed. I was talking to Randy about creative ways to hang art, and I found this post to show him about how I managed to create a ribbon frame and have it assembled remotely. I imagine with so much time at home, some of you may be looking for a little DIY. Here’s how it’s all done

Below you’ll see the steps:
Start by finding great antiqued cotton or grosgrain ribbon in a width that matches the depth of your canvas. Keep in mind this method is very much like like the gold leaf techniques at Versailles. It’s fancy enough for Versailles and Beverly Hills, so…
1. Set up a large brick of styrofoam with a piece of parchment draped over it to make the messy part disposable. Pierce the parchment with the nailhead (find on ebay or amazon), leaving the heads easy to paint
2. Brush the heads with liquid acrylic gesso and allow to dry. It will dry with a chalky patina.
3. Paint a thin layer of matte medium onto each nailhead, then sprinkle with leaf flecks – the flakes fly everywhere, be careful! You can also use sheets if you want a more perfect leaf, but that’s a whole other DIY.
4. Before matte medium dries, sprinkle gold leaf powder over the leaf flecks and allow to dry.
5. Using a clean dry flat paintbrush, brush the loose powder and flecks away from the heads until smooth and gesso is peeking from underneath
6. If you are not confident in choosing supplies like gesso and mediums for a project like this, a good starter kit is the Sepp Basic Gilding Kit. If you try this, tag me in social media so I can see your creativity!

Triple Attraction in ATX – Friends, Fun, and PBS Kids

Published on Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

I love that my married life and motherhood have begun to have annual traditions. The springtime months are always a whirlwind – April brings Easter and My Perfect Husband’s birthday with the Critter’s birthday immediately after, then Mother’s Day, and then I travel to a different city every year for the PBS Annual Meeting. I always am energized by the wonderful networking and programming I am able to preview, and the fun I have with my fellow PBS Kids VIPs and friends from PBS SoCal. It’s also become a tradition now that my Mother’s Day gift to myself is to take some extra time off and explore the city after the meeting has ended.

When I discovered that this year’s meeting would take place in Austin, Texas, I immediately thought GIRL TRIP! I had just reconnected with my best best best friend from high school (thank you Facebook), and she lives in Austin. My BFF Debra, who was my first roomie here in LA is now happily married and living in Houston, so I announced we would get together as soon as my meetings ended.

A huge thank you to the folks at PBS and PBS Kids for making our visit completely awesome! In the realm of tradition, our PBS Kids Very Involved Parent group have now attended three Annual Meetings, and now here we were at the fourth – we now have connected as friends and had a terrific time catching all the moments together – the highlights this year included: a special performance at the venerable Austin City Limits by the up and coming Peterson Brothers, hilarious and inspirational breakout sessions with the creators of the latest PBS Kids programming Ready Jet Go! and Nature Cat, and a fun informative cook’s tour of the pristine new Whole Foods Market. I learned (and ate) more in these few days than I have room to share, but stay posted for a more information as the premieres of the new shows come nigh, and a trip to the JPL with the folks from Ready Jet Go!

I hugged goodbye to all my VIPs and before I knew it Bianca was there to pick me up, just like when we were in high school! We talked so much and caught up on the last twenty years, and it was like no time had passed at all. We talked kids, husbands, history, food, drinks, politics, fashion, and I don’t know what else over lots of great food in several different locations. I got to meet her super creative smart kids and see where she lives, and it was all good. She is still a raving beauty who can make me belly laugh, and I can’t wait until our next rendezvous.

Debra rolled in from Houston on Friday afternoon, giving me a chance to lie around binge watching Grace and Frankie, (which was perfect, considering that it’s a show about old friends), and then get my act together, because she was looking fabulous from H-town. We figured out that we have now been friends for twenty years! It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since we were roommates near the Farmers Market for my first summer working for Wilson and Associates – we were instant gal pals and have never wavered in supporting and cheering one another on, and it was so good to be together in this funky fun town to do nothing but gab, eat, drink, and take in local culture. Taking pity on me as a mom who has to keep up with everyone’s schedules, Deb had sussed all the cool stuff to do, so all I had to do was be ready to go, and go we did. She found some terrific hot spots for us to do our apps and cocktails thing, and some fantastic music venues that took me back to my college days of hitting the Subway Lounge and the Delta Blues Festival. We even managed to do a power walk and do a little shopping. I have to say that Austin is a really cool place – great culture, sophisticated quality dining without pretense, and an all around good time, in fact, I really want to go back as soon as I can! Check out my photos to see some of our highlights and for information on the venues – it was a perfect place to have me-time with my girls and come back to Beverly Hills revitalized.

Thank you again to my sweet friends and the wonderful staff at PBS Kids for making this such a special trip – next year: Chicago! I have to get on Facebook and see who I know there…

Reality, Rabbits, Royalty, and Rolls Royces – So much fun to have; so little time!

Published on Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I have decided that from now on I will take a mulligan on January and February of every year because the whole family including the dog gets sick, then March kicks off a craaaazy schedule for all of us until Memorial Day. Late April through May brings – Easter, the Perfect husband’s birthday, the Critter’s birthday, Mother’s Day and the annual visit from the Grandmother from Missisippi.

You can see that I joyfully embrace any event that causes me to have to dress up, meet interesting people or decorate something. The last two weeks have been jam packed! During this time I have baked and decorated four dozen eggs, four dozen shape cookies, raised money for LLS, attended a fabulous event teaching me how to pack light, had brunch twice, had Easter egg hunt at home, attended one at the Montage, attended the RealityRocks Event, filmed reshoots for a reality pilot, and this weekend is going to be more excitement!

Tomorrow morning after I drop the Critter off at preschool a car is coming to whisk away my friend Tara and I to Newport Beach to have a luxurious champagne brunch and Bulgari showing with my friends Catherine, Casper and Barrie. I am SO excited to hang out with my friends and hear Catherine’s take on the wedding – she’s related to the royal family, so I’ll have the scoop! Stay tuned for some live blogging and tweeting of the fun.

Saturday is the arrival of the Grandmother, then since we have free babysitting, my Perfect Husband and I are going on a date to see fabulous classic cars at the Concours d’Elegance at Greystone Mansion. The luxury event is sponsored by brands that include Tiffany and Company and Mercedes Benz –click here for ticket and more sponsor details – hope to see you there!

Rockin Out at the Rocket Room

Published on Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Every year we rush through from my husband’s birthday and then to my son’s birthday, to Mother’s Day, and all this happens around end of school year activities which all have special programs and events to schedule. This year has been no exception, and I found myself precariously close to the Critter’s big day with no plan! So, even though it’s taken me awhile to post, I couldn’t get too far into summer before I made sure I gave a huge thank you to the folks at the Rocket Room at RocketFizz in Westwood.

As my Critter (I know, I know, he’s getting too big to call a Critter, but later for that) gets older, the main things he likes are video games and candy. I was so excited to find out that RocketFizz, which is known for its INSANE stock of every kind of candy imaginable, has a party room upstairs that has a video game WALL. I met with Yasmine, the events manager and she walked me through the whole event. It was so easy – all I had to do was show up with cake and have pizza delivered from Ronis.

The staff greeted our guests under a custom banner with the Critter’s name on it and escorted the kids up to the Rocket Room, so there was no worry for me or the parents that they were dropping off at a safe location. The party room is like a lounge for kids and had air hockey, foosball, and a huge wall with four video game screens so that they could fulfill all their old and new gaming fantasies. In addition to these activities, there was a cotton candy machine, and the staff took the kids down to “shop” for their goody bag, which the staff wrapped up in really cute gift packages.

Two hours flew by, then the staff escorted the guests one by one to their parents, and we went to dinner. I think this was the most relaxed I’ve ever been after a party. Thanks again to Yasmine and the Rocket Room / RocketFizz staff for making it so easy!

Remembering Katrina – Ten Years Later

Published on Saturday, August 29th, 2015

On this weekend in 2005, I had just met my husband. I had just started back up with a beloved client again to finish more of what we started. I also had just finished designing my mother’s new Gulf Coast house and was there in Gulfport, enjoying the sultry breezes, a few cocktails and amazing gulf seafood, catching up with family and friends. We knew a hurricane was out in there, but we consulted with all the neighbors who were, along with us, veterans of Hurricane Camille. We even knew where the water went up to in our neighbor’s house, and the storm surge wasn’t going to be that high. We would probably hang out upstairs with the shutters closed and the worst that could happen would be six inches of water on the newly refinished pecan wood floors. We scoffed at the idea that we would need to evacuate – there had been so many false alarms in the past, here and when I lived in New Orleans. In a flash flood one day in the early 90s I was stuck on the interstate for nine hours within spitting distance of my Garden District exit, so there was no way we were joining an exodus of people onto Highway 49 to get out, only to be turned away.

And then it got serious. My new almost boyfriend (now husband, who had been in the U. S. Navy) called and asked the address of mom’s house, and when he found the place on the map, he started getting emphatic. “Do you realize how serious this is? You have got to get out of there!”. So the denial slipped away, and we called Robby’s mom who still lives in the old nighborhood that was well out of the storm to see if we could stay the night, then packed up the supplies we were going to use for the storm and headed over. The last thing my mom said about the house was “do you think we should get sandbags for the windows? If there are only a few inches of water reaching the house, they may stop it – I am so worried about ruining the floors…” I think I rolled my eyes or something and told her that it’s time to go. I had become sufficiently convinced that the storm was going to be bigger than we thought.

Robby’s family was fantastic – they had all sorts of systems for survival in place for once the water and power inevitably went dead, and in between watching the wind in the trees predict how close Katrina was coming we ate a lot and watched the news on the solar powered tv, took naps then awakened to ride the storm out in the wee hours of the morning. The storm proceeded to pummel the Coast for an entire night and day, many hours longer than Camille did. We all sort of went into a type of shock, because we didn’t need to see the news to know that there would be nothing left. It took a while for us to get back to the beach, because the destruction from the storm had blocked streets and intersections. We did arrive at what was left of our house just before the National Guard, the press and the looters got in, the latter two before the former. All of a sudden, there we are, talking to Harry Smith standing on the pecan floor, and noticing women rifling through the massive debris that was now our neighborhood.

The reality then became that we needed to get the hell out of there, because it was crushingly obvious that there was nothing to be done or saved. We managed to get up Highway 49 over countless downed trees and power lines, shocked by how far inland the destruction was all the way back to Jackson, where my mom’s primary residence is. We noted what a luxury it was that her building had a generator so we were able to be cool and get clean, after almost three days of hurricane experience. We were very fortunate to have that luxury, as it was not so for so most. Our friends and family suffered extreme hardships and many lost everything. People died during and in the aftermath from the stress and fear and seeing the world look like the apocalypse had happened. None of these are happy memories.

I am very grateful for the few days before Katrina ruined everything, because my childhood hometown looked more beautiful and lush and graceful than ever before, and I got to relive the best parts of my memories by driving down Highway 90 with my mom, commenting on every house that we loved to talk about since I was old enough to say veranda. They lined the beach drive like beautiful ladies in a row, having an afternoon cocktail and watching the water. It hurts to know that they are not there anymore – gone along with the surge of the tide of a natural disaster. I only wish I’d taken a “before” video.

Summer Wedding Weekend in New Orleans

Published on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Since I have been missing New Orleans an awful lot lately, I was thrilled to receive an invitation to a wedding from my friend Danette and her longtime love Randy. Met through mutual friends in Los Angeles, I’ve known Danette since I lived in New Orleans, where she brought her musician friend Phil (who plays nine instruments) to stay with me in the Garden District and play around town in order to launch her cd in the early 90s. Randy and Danette are bonded in their love for music so they would bond as man and wife at the historic Preservation Hall in the French Quarter and take us on a Second Line to my favorite cocktail spot the Carousel Lounge.

I immediately bought my plane ticket, made arrangements to stay at the Omni Royal Orleans, which has been my goto hotel in the French Quarter since I was five, and started figuring out how many friends I could visit in between wedding festivities and if I could fit in meals at all my favorite places.

First on the list was to have lunch at Galatoire’s, which is always especially lively on Fridays and did not disappoint, which included a table for twelve wedding guests I met and befriended that day and my dear friend Lori Mac, with whom I was a fledgling art dealer when I first moved to New Orleans in 1994. The wedding guests were charmed like everyone who ever had lunch at the French Quarter institution, and we cocktailed and ate amazing creole seafood dishes like one does in the Big Easy.

Up the next day was to have breakfast at Cafe du Monde, stop by the French Market for the Creole Tomato Festival, and go by Fifi Mahony’s for something unique in a wig or hat, which I managed to accomplish in time to get back to the hotel in time to dress for the wedding. My friend John, who has been escorting me to weddings since we were in high school picked me up and we were off to the Hall. The wedding was a music lover’s dream, packed with the love and personal touches that I have come to love from the bride. I made many short clips of the wedding because I knew it would not be easy to find words for it. A couple of hours later, we were lined up to parade in our Second Line. My gift to the couple was a few gross of pearl Mardi Gras beads, which were flung by the guests from our moving block party through the Quarter into the cheering crowds – it was truly the BEST Second Line I have ever participated in. People were joining in and dancing to the fantastic band Danette and Randy chose, parading with us all the way to the Carousel Lounge. Note that I have not complained about the heat yet, but it was hotter than Hades. Being (very) damp did not dampen our spirits – we partied at the lounge, then John and I grabbed po boys to go from Felix’s and I went back to the Royal Orleans to take my third shower of the day and rest up for the brunch and reception the next day.

I was so happy that my sweet friend Marcie and her husband David (and son Max!) made the drive from their home on the Gulf Coast so that we could visit and have brunch at the Palace Cafe’ which will now be on my list of favorites. I started drinking Bloody Marys and that became my drink o’ the day. It was hugs all around and then off to the reception, held at my friend Michael’s mother’s home in Uptown – the perfect place to have more Bloody Marys and eat more – corn muffins, summer salad, hot boiled crawfish and two kinds of wedding cake! I stayed in the air conditioning and we had our traditional sing along where Michael shows that he can play anything on the piano and we sing along. It was so much fun to be in the familiar and share it with new friends. Back at the hotel I had another shower and called it a day.

My last day came too soon, but not so soon that my friend Hal whom I adore personally and professionally, as he is the best designer I know and has the most gorgeously decorated historic home in the Garden District. We had so much fun catching up on New Orleans, our families, the work, and of course we had an amazing meal complete with brandy milk punches at Antoine’s. More hugs and then I had to do one last thing before I left.

I had one hour before the taxi picked me up to walk the Quarter one last time and say a little prayer for my friend Robby in all his favorite places. The anniversary of his death was near, and it was the perfect place for me to do my last goodbye to him and to get my creative and emotional mojo back. I hopped into the taxi and hugged the wonderful bellmen at the Royal Orleans goodbye, and from that point on couldn’t WAIT to get back to my sweet husband and the Critter.

Remembering Elizabeth Glaser

Published on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m so glad that my wise beyond her years friend Jamie posted about Elizabeth Glaser today. I remember the first time I became aware that there was this terrible disease called AIDS. It was the Sunday before classes started back at Millsaps after Christmas break, and my roommate and I were at the local gay bar for Beer Bash. For those who aren’t gay heteros like myself, Sunday is beer bash day. For a college freshman, Beer bash=cheap beer and fun guys to dance with. We got there really early so there was only other person at the bar with us. He was kind of scary to us because he was shirtless and had rings through his nipples. Piercings like that were pretty unheard of in those days and we struck up a conversation with him regarding whether those things hurt and why on earth would he do something like that.

He was very good natured, answered our questions, and then pulled several flair buttons out of his pocket that had different designs on them in pink and black. One said AIDS=Death. He said that he was selling these buttons to raise money for research on “the gay cancer”. I was really worried when I heard this, because I had some really good friends who were gay, and I definitely didn’t want them to get cancer. He explained that it was a disease that gay guys were getting and no one know why and that lots of guys in New York were dying. I bought the buttons and pinned them on my Calvin Klein denim jacket (also racy for Jackson at the time), but I didn’t think much more about it.

And then my friend Buff’s brother died. And the most talented florist in our town. In 1985, five minutes into watching one of my favorite movies Pillow Talk, an emergency breakthrough came on the television announcing that my heartthrob Rock Hudson had just died. And then Willie Smith, Perry Ellis, Keith Haring, Ricky Wilson and Halston. It was as though there was a punishment for being gay, people were starting to feel desperate about catching a virus that ensured you’d die a really ugly death WITH pain and suffering. In 1988 I heard from my best friend the neonatal nurse that she was attending to a set of twins who were born three months prematurely, crack addicted and HIV positive. Her words and tears over the futility of the situation still haunt me as I think about the phone call I got when the babies died.

After seven years of sadness and trepidation I can remember feeling SO relieved when I watched a program that showed Elizabeth Glazer behind the scenes on the set of filming the PSA for AIDS research with Ronald Reagan. It was an enormous leap in AIDS awareness for the mother who contracted and passed the HIV virus to her two children to convince the former president whose dismal record on helping the disease to say “I’m not asking you to send money. I’m asking for something more important. Your understanding. Maybe it’s time we all learned something new.” . Because she worked every connection she had in Hollywood and beyond, Her statement that “Every person with AIDS is somebody’s child. AIDS is not a political issue. It’s a virus and it kills people, no matter who they are.” , had opened the door to lift the stigma of AIDS and finally get people on board to find a cure. It is because of this brave woman that a national treasure like Magic Johnson is still alive after a diagnosis twenty years ago.

Since watching the video above, I have been randomly bursting into tears because toward the end I saw that her son Jake is still alive. This is a person who was born with HIV and is now approaching his third decade on this earth. As a mother I just can’t wrap my mind around what it must have felt like in the early days of their story and how terrifying that must’ve been to have this mysterious illness, to lose a child to it, and to know that another could die as well. Jake’s mother’s fortitude so profoundly affected medical science so that at least one of her babies could go on – to see him there on the screen smiling and handsome like his daddy just breaks my heart and inspires me at the same time. That’s one amazing legacy. I want us never to forget her.

Being Elmo is Love and Inspiration

Published on Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Update March 31, 2012 – You can now see this wonderful film on PBS’s Independent Lens! Check your local listings for air time on April 5th and April 8th. Spread the love xoxo

I’m always amazed at how things in life connect. I went to the movies by myself for the first time in my life when I was a junior in college to see a movie called Labyrinth, a Muppet kids’ movie, as David Bowie , with whom I was obsessed, was the star. Even though many in my crew thought Bowie was hot, he wasn’t hot enough to get them to see the show with me. I enjoyed going alone so much, I preferred to see movies solo thereafter. I also can vaguely recall crowds losing their minds over a tickle-able Elmo doll as I watched the old Rosie O’Donnell show, and that’s the first time I remember being cognizant that Elmo existed. I just started my interior design career in New Orleans, and as adorable and clever as I found him I was on to other things that really didn’t involve kid stuff and little red monsters.

Flash to 2011, which finds me at the PBS Press Tour where I meet Kevin Clash and Constance Marks. They are there to promote Constance’s new documentary Being Elmo, which is all about Kevin, who is the creator of Elmo – that fuzzy little guy that didn’t interest me too much back in the nineties. By now I’m a mom and and designer/artist/writer. I am inspired by both of them – Connie for the labor of love that pushed her along a seven year journey to create Being Elmo, and Kevin for the amazing talent he has fostered over his entire life, simply because he loves making people happy. Kevin made the video for me you see above so that I could play it for the Critter any time we liked – something that we will always cherish. After seeing clips of the movie, I told Connie and Kevin that I wanted everyone to know how wonderful I thought the film was going to be. I was so thrilled when I she wrote to me that she and her CoDirector Philip Shane would be in Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend. I delightedly accepted her invitation to screen the film, and in turn asked her to brunch at Scarpetta and to please bring along Philip so I could get to know the people behind the movie about the man behind the monster.

I took a couple of friends who are in the business of making movies to the screening and we all loved it. There was a Q and A after, and the question that was burning for me was “How was it that Kevin’s parents were so secure that they took his vocation seriously from the very beginning?” I think about my childhood in the 70s and I can’t imagine that most people would have encouraged their child to make and work puppets. In fact, I was certain when I saw in the film that Kevin cut up his mother’s coat (without her permission, I might add) to make a puppet that some terrible punishment would befall him. That is a very interesting aspect of the film, which takes us down Kevin’s road from making puppets and performing for children in his mother’s home day care to present day as an Emmy award-winning Senior Puppet Coordinator and Muppet Captain at Sesame Street as well as Sesame Workshop’s Senior Creative Consultant – I was so prepared for a story that would have sadness and strife, but what I found was – love and happiness.

I connect with Being Elmo on so many levels. As a creative person and a parent, I marvel at Clash’s fantastic parents – how they somehow knew that he was very special and even though they had no entertainment savvy, seemed to know just how to encourage him from the very beginning. There were people all along the way who knew that Clash was special, and these terrific stories are told through archival footage of his first job at the local affiliate, to his work on Captain Kangaroo, to tales from such solid entertainment legends as narrator Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Cheryl Henson, Joan Ganz Cooney and others you will definitely recognize. As a native Mississippian, I was already proud of Jim Henson for his amazing contribution to the world with Sesame Street, but I love him even more for seeing the same special something in Kevin and mentoring his early career. Sesame Street clearly had an impact on Kevin upon its debut, and Henson saw that he had a home with the Muppets. Kevin has paid forward every kindness and bit of encouragement, as one ca plainly see, by mentoring an aspiring young puppeteer in addition to his taking Elmo to children who are ill who just want to love on the monster.

Remember that movie I went to by myself? As it turns out, Labyrinth was Clash’s first piece as master puppeteer, and after watching it with my four year old again twenty five years later – it still holds up beautifully. The Critter was still and quiet and wondrous for the entire movie – a power not something just any movie can claim. I also love Connie Marks for her fortitude to complete this jewel of a film, and for recognizing that spreading happiness and love is very important for all of us. And I love Philip Shane for his fantastic arrangement of her images and direction that leaves one feeling, well, really…GOOD!

Being Elmo is a testament to creativity, constant honing of one’s craft, parenting and mentoring. I recommend it so much that I really MUST point out that the Los Angeles theatrical release is on November 4th and nationwide after that. Click here to purchase tickets for the film for the Los Angeles release. I strongly encourage everyone to see it and be inspired. Elmo loves you!

I know, you came here to read about Beverly Hills, but…

Published on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Mardi Gras 2006, on my way the the Hermes Ball; Royal Orleans Hotel lobby

…I used to live in New Orleans and frequently I am asked about my recommendations. I recently compiled this list for a friend, and for those of you who may visit the Crescent City, please tell them I sent you!

Alexandra’s Do’s and Dont’s for New Orleans

DO – General

Good Neighborhood over view Map – you probably barely have time to explore the French Quarter (aka Vieux Carre’), The Central Business District (aka CBD or Warehouse District). the Garden District and Uptown. I have lists for other areas but no one ever has the time to do everything I want them to. You may find that you love one particular area and you can spend your whole vacation exploring it!

Great map of restaurants in French Quarter( see list of favorites below):

List of the best antique stores on Royal Street – my favorites are M.S. Rau and Ida Manheim – if antiques aren’t your thing, it’s fun to window shop them at night, too

Great map for walking in Garden District – try commander’s palace for lunch or Casamento’s before or after your walk – get off the streetcar at Washington Ave, and follow the map~if you see anybody coming or going from Colonel Short’s Villa – say hello – my friend owns that house now and it’s FABULOUS!

Good Listing and map for the Magazine Street galleries and shops, the most unique gifts, art and antiques will be here. A couple of my faves on the list are Cole Pratt Gallery, Mignon Faget, Blue Frog Chocolates, and Williamson Designs – links are on the list!

List of Cemeteries

Museums at Jackson Square with terrific exhibits including Mardi Gras

Listen to radio station 90.3 in your room and check listings for music around town.

Off the hook fabulous hats and perfumes way up at the end of the streetcar stop – the best milliner in the USA!

The Audubon Zoo and Park are wonderful too – you can see some ancient oak trees with Spanish moss

Best taxi – seriously, this matters – I took a ride down the freeway one night with a drunk and blind idiot from the airport – I should’ve taken a United

Best place to get a funky New Orleans costume or wig – well, I need them frequently whether or not you do:
Fifi Mahony my very favorite – for real girls and wanna be girls!
Little Shop of Fantasy – best masks you’ll ever see
The most counterculture clothing and shoes will be found at the end of Decatur Street near Esplanade –usually buy at least one thing around there each trip to treat my inner Goth

French Quarter Food:

Acme Oyster Bar great po boys, seafood baskets and shucked oysters

Bayona best gourmet cuisine -tell Regina and Susan I said hi : )

Galatoires – Best creole seafood – go for Friday lunch – they don’t take reservations; just get there as early as you can and wait for a table – try to get table downstairs

Cafe du Monde is the ONLY place to get a beignet, the creole donut, with café au lait – great site for people watching too.

Johnny’s Po Boy will deliver if you’re hung over

Central Grocery – have the original muffeletta sandwich and a Barq’s root beer; in fact, make sure you drink Barq’s with everything 🙂

Southern Candymaker Best pralines in town!

French Quarter Cocktails ( keep in mind you can get them in a “go cup” and walk around or stay and soak up some atmosphere):

The Carousel Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone – fun to sit and spin at the bar, or people watch from the windows

I always stop by Napoleon House for a Pimm’s cup cocktail which is very refreshing on a hot summer day

Pat O’ Brien’s Don’t have the hurricane – you might throw up, but it’s fun to sit in the courtyard by the flaming fountain and have a party pic made – they also have a great piano bar

Stop at any daiquiri joint you might pass – they help beat the heat – just keep in mind they are much more powerful than you think – It’s like Jamba Juice with 151 proof!

Central Business District Food:

Emeril’s Great restaurant from Emeril LaGasse eclectic –

The BonTon Cafe – definitely the best creole food in town with the best seafood – odd hours, but don’t miss it!

Mother’s Killer po boys and best gumbo in town (the ONLY gumbo in town, really)

Uptown / Garden District Food:

Casamento’s best po boys, fried crab claws and shucked oysters uptown

Commander’s Palace -a Nola institution – great brunch; try the turtle soup – great cemetery across the street

Franky and Johnny’s great juke joint WAY uptown – awesome poboys, onion rings, daily specials and alligator pie!


DO NOT EAT/SHOP HERE (tourist traps):
 Court of the Two Sisters
 Anywhere on Jackson Square or in the French Market, except for Café du Monde and Central Grocery
 Anywhere on Bourbon but Galatoire’s or Desire Oyster Bar
 Your hotel ;), unless you’re staying at the Windsor Court or The Omni Royal Orleans
 The Riverwalk
 Do not go off the beaten path in uptown – stay on or close to the mapped area above and on the main streets
 Do not engage in conversation with anyone who wants to guess where you got your shoes, who wants to show you a timeshare, or wants to tap dance for you.
 As a pedestrian stay on streets that are more crowded

Laissez les Bontemps Roulez!