Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mardi Gras

It's almost Mardi Gras!!

Nel and I took a trip to New Orleans last year with our best friends during Mardi Gras. 

I have been wanting to visit New Orleans since I was a little girl and when I finally did, I fell in love...

with the culture, 

the food

the French Quarter

and the swamps.

We were a bit disappointed that we would be missing out on the festivities this year during Mardi Gras, so we decided to make our own celebration!

To give you a little background, Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday".  As a Catholic tradition, it is a celebration of the Carnival season and the last day before Lent begins.
(This is the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in the U.S.)

In New Orleans, At 12:00am on Ash Wednesday, police clear the streets of the French Quarter on horses declaring "Mardi Gras has ended.  Lent has begun."  It is then time to sacrifice until Easter.  But in the weeks before the Lent season, New Orleanians sure do celebrate life.

People of all ages and backgrounds are literally dancing in the streets in costume.

The atmosphere is lively and welcoming.

Colorful beads are in full abundance, whether they are generously thrown from the grand floats or dangled along street car and electrical lines. 

Cajun spices fill the air.

The French Quarter is decorated with green, gold, and purple, which are the colors of Mardi Gras.  (Green signifies faith, gold signifies power, and purple signifies justice.)  Mardi Gras is even an official state holiday in Louisiana!

For our own little celebration, Nel and I made some delicious cajun cuisine: Gumbo, Jambalaya, and a festive King Cake

King Cake is made only during the Carnival season and is perfect for small or large parties.  It is deliciously moist and sprinkled with the colors of Mardi Gras.

The cake was created in honor of the three wise men who came to visit Jesus when he was born.  The tradition involves hiding a plastic "Baby Jesus" somewhere in the cake and whoever receives the piece with the Baby, is in charge of making the next cake or hosting the next King Cake Party.

If you are interested in making it, please follow this link.  We used this recipe, and ours turned out très bon (very good)!

Traditional New Orleans King Cake Recipe 

For our gumbo, we used a recipe from Paula Deen, and it was AMAZING!  We just threw all the ingredients into a crock pot.  Here is the link in case you would like to try it:

Paula Deen's Gumbo 
Our trip to New Orleans not only reminded us to Celebrate Life, but it also gave us new creative ideas and traditions to adopt.

Happy Mardi Gras!



Ingeborg van Zuiden said...

Hi Jess,

What an interesting post this is! First thing I thought was 'What is mardi gras', lol, but you explained it further in your post and then of course I remembered. It's funny how much traditions are weaved through the world as we have 'carnival' here till wednesday. People dress up and party and indeed on Wednesday they are supposed to get that ash cross. I doubt if people are still doing that here that much though. But I do know whe have the same kind of celebrations here in the Netherlands. It's so interesting to see the pictures of New Orleans! I didn't knew those colours were used and about those necklaces I didn't knew either. I wonder if 'lent' is like spring? Here when spring starts we say in Dutch that the 'lente' starts lol. So I wonder if that has something in common. Anyway, it sure seems like you had a nice trip to the south! Happy mardi gras ;-)


Calico Child said...

Hi Ladies thank you so much for your lovely comment on my valentine post last week :)

Sorry its taken me so long in replying.

Well your Mardi Gras post is very colourful that cake is very sparkley & look so yummy I bet you had a great time. I would love to get there one day:)

Brenda said...

That last photo is at Pat O'Brien's! I have tried their Hurricanes. I must say, only one is enough or even too much...LOL. I have spent many days there myself for New Orleans is a favorite. I love the artists and the performers and people dancing in the streets.
Thanks for the recipes! They both look awesome!
Such a wonderful post that makes me homesick.

Rustic Vintage Country said...

Wow, what colour and style and vibrance.....lovely. Suzy x

Ricki Treleaven said...

We are staying home this in-laws live on St. Charles Avenue, right on the parade route in the Garden District!

LOVE your photos and this makes me want to say,
"Throw me somethin', Mister!"


Enjoy your week!


Trisha said...

Visiting New Orleans and going to Mardi Gras is definitely on my bucket list! I may just have to try your King cake this year!


Monica said...

hi dear!! Thanks for visit my blog, I like yours very much! So..I'm your new follower now!! kiss

Deborah said...

Wow thats some celebration!!
Love all your photos ..and telling us just what this celebration is all about.
The cake you made looks fabulous!

Deborah xo

Barbara F. said...

What a great post. I wish I had some of your gumbo and King's cake. I have never been to New Orleans, hope to visit one day. We would always have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Louis Armstrong sounds so good, too... xo

Mimi and Tilly said...

What a fantastic post! It was really interesting to learn about what lies behind the traditions of mardi Gras. Thank you for sharing, and for your lovely comment on my blog. Em x

Kaipiroska said...

From what I see in the movies, Mardi Gras is a very crazy time in New Orleans. Lucky for you that went there. It must be lots of fun :)


I LOVED this tutorial on Mardi Gras. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. Got serious about it the week Katrina hit. A family crisis here at home changed my plans at the last minute and I'll be forever grateful. Though I am still imensely sad about what happened to all the folks there. thanks for making the city come alive for me with your photos and memories.

Gigia&Gigio said...

Beautiful ;o)


I love New Orleans! Hope someday I'll get there on Mardi Gras time. Great photos you've shared. Thank you for your lovely visit. Hugs,

Kim @ Bluebirds and Butterflies said...

Happy Fat Tuesday!
I have been to New Orleans when I lived in Houston and have very fond memories of this visit. We stayed at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. I love the homes in New Orleans and, of course, the great jazz music! I can still taste those delicious flavors at Cafe Dumonde. I am Catholic, so I always celebrate Lent and Easter. You did a wonderful job on your Mardi Gras blog today! Thanks for sharing your memories of you visit to New Orleans! Love ya, Kim

romance-of-roses said...

This was fasinating, very interesting post. Love all the colors. Placing the baby in the cake reminded me of the Greeks and what they do for New Years. They place a quarter in the bread and who ever gets it will prosper in the new year. Oh how delicious that cake looks, yummy. Hugs...Lu

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I came over to browse around. I love all of your photos. This post makes me want to make a trip to New Orleans. It is such a beautiful city and you have done a great job showing it off.

Gigia&Gigio said...

Here I'm back,
I follow with pleasure, then you look among my followers.
Have a good day.

Jill said...

Thank you so much for your sweet comments on my blog and for following me. You have a beautiful blog and I am thrilled to follow you back!

Special 'K' said...

Wow! A great celebration. Looks like amazing fun for all. Adored the balcony greenery. Thanks for sharing a wonderful post! Cheers SpecialK XoXo

Anonymous said...

Jess! Wonderful posting. Even though I'm not much of a party gal these days, I've always wanted to go to Mardi Gras just to experience the culture, music, food and festivities. I hope to visit New Orleans and the French Quarter one day. I would love to visit the Garden District too. Thanks for sharing Mardi Gras with us!


Anonymous said...

I've never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I've heard nothing but good things. I sure would love to try that cake. Thanks for sharing.

Celestina Marie said...

Just love this post and all the wonderful traditions for Mardi Gras.
Your tribute is excellent and great info shared for those who are not really sure what this is all about. On your KING cake looks so delish!

Thank you for sharing Jess and Happy Mardi Gras.

Hi Sherri, So nice to see you over at my blog too. Thank you for your kind words dear friend.
Hugs and smiles, XO Celestina Marie

Cindy Adkins said...

Wonderful post and beautiful photos! I enjoyed it very much. I've always wanted to visit New Orleans, too. My niece is there visiting right now! Thanks so much for sharing. Also, thank you for the sweet comment on my blog about my pink tag!
Hugs, Cindy

Kim said...

OK, so how the heck have I been missing out on this blog for so long? I'm here now and gonna go back and have a look see. You guys are all rockstars! SO happy to have found you.

Two Cottages And Tea said...

Hello Jess,
I've enjoyed your post so much and learned alot! I've always wanted to go to New Orleans, but so far no luck! My new friend at the RV resort we are at had us over for King Cake just a few days ago. A first for us. Yummy!!
Thank you so much for your lovely comment you left me and for following my blog. I just signed up to follow you too. I will be back soon to view some of your older posts.
Have a good day,

Doll in the Looking Glass said...

Jess, it has been much too long since I've been to New Orleans. Never been there during Mardi Gras -- cannot imagine the crowds! The streets are filled with people on New Year's Eve and you inch your way walking to your destination. Great trip down memory lane!

Thank Sheri for the sweet comments she left on my Teddy Bear post.


Unknown said...

How festive and wonderful this post is. I hope one day to visit New Orlenes and I hope it's during
Mardi Gras..looks like you had a wonderful time there.Life is good!

tea time and roses said...

Lovely post! Oh my how I dream someday of visiting New Orleans! My parents have visited on several occasions and always have a wonderful time there. Though I have not been, I can make a yummy bowl of gumbo!

Thank you so much for your visit and sweet comment left on my blog. I am always excited when someone new and wonderful drops in. I will certainly be adding your lovely blog to my side bar for sure! Continue to enjoy a lovely week.



Maaike said...

thank you for explaining this and sharing the pictures! Perfect way of celebrating at home :)


Stella said...

Nice post!
I liked your photos!
Miss Starshiny

Mireille said...

Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog!
I immediately take a peek on your blog,
It's very nice as well
Have a nice day!

karen - Simply Inspired said...

Such fun, Jess! Thanks for sharing the celebration, history (and recipes!)...

Julie G. said...

You blog posts are always filled with good cheer, color and beauty. This one is no exception. Reading your narrative and viewing the wonderful photographs makes me want to head down to New Orleans and celebrate. Oh my, those recipes sound delicious. Your King Cake looks delectable! Thank you for sharing this glorious, spirited, festive post. Always a pleasure to visit your blog!

Bettina said...

Hi there,

Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for a very kind comment. I'm happy you like it. :)

Your blog is very nice and I'll be happy to follow it.

I love what you wrote about New Orleans, I so want to go there. I visited the US a few years ago but the first place on my "agenda" was the Californian coast. So we drove from San Francisco, down to San Diego and further through Death Valley, Las Vegas and finally Yosemite. I loved loved loved the California 1!

Am I guessing right to place you in California?

Hugs, Bettina.

Ps. What date is he born? I'm on the 16th. ;)

♥ Miss Tea said...

Interesting and at the same time very informative post with lovely photos! now i know Mardi grass is french for fat tuesday! i've seen on tv and it looks soo fun! people dancing on the street wearing costume and i love the food! thanks for sharing the king cake recipe, it looks delicious! sorry that you and Nell missed this year's mardi gras..

xx susan

Hayu Maselli said...

Wow, beautiful place New Orleans.
They are doing like carnival?
the cake looks so yummy with the glittered sugar.
for sure mardi gras is a nice city.
thanks for sharing Ladies.
have a nice day