Dinnertime during the week can sometimes be completely chaotic. You’ve had a long day at work (or maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent, which that comes with its own challenges), the kids are cranky, there’s homework to be done, and everyone’s hungry!
Fast-food is not an option in my house, we have the occasional pizza take-out night, but for the most part, everything is home cooked.
We don’t always have a lot of time to spare during the week to make dinner, so I teamed up with Joy to share her favorite (and some of my favorites from Joy, too) go to meals that take under an hour to prepare and cook. -Virginia
SESAME CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI SHEET PAN DINNER
This recipe requires a marinade. You can easily prep it the night before, so when you’re ready to cook dinner the next day, it’ll be soaked up in deliciousness!
HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER
Y'all, I used to love hamburger helper. I thought my mom was getting fancy when she whipped out that box and threw together this meal! Here is my version so you won't have to use anything out of a box. It will bring back childhood memories for you, and your kids will be happy too!
This is a classic around these parts. It's in almost every restaurant you go to. Back in the day, when I didn't know much about food, but knew you couldn't mess up pasta (or so I thought at the time, wink wink)- this is what I would always get.
I love spice and love pasta. This dish brings both to the plate. Don't be scared of crawfish if you haven't tried them! Just be sure to buy the ones that aren't imported.
Okay... No secret here, I love pasta. And this pasta has everything I love in it! Veal, briny capers, mushrooms, cream oh my! Anytime I can make pasta into a main dish,
I'm in heaven!
Celebrating the birth of a child is a joyous occasion. Birthday celebrations come in all sizes and budgets. Some people throw lavish parties and others gather in an intimate setting with just cake and ice cream; both are okay! Who says that you can’t throw a party how you want to, if it makes you and your child happy then do it!
There is no written rule that says, “This is how you must host a birthday party.” The only thing I can do is give a list of suggestions and tips that will help you along with your planning. Remember that most children will just be grateful to have just cake.
But none the less, your child still deserves to have some type of birthday celebration, whether it be a big celebration or just a small gathering.
Here are a few tips to help:
Being a stay-at-home-mother is probably one of the hardest jobs ever! It’s truly like 3 full-time jobs rolled into one and it’s probably the most under-appreciated job in the world, too. It’s not for every mother and that’s okay! Not all moms are able to stay home with their children and some chose not to and return back to work whenever it is time.
After interviewing several SAHMs, we found Jodi Devore.
Tell us a little about yourself and family.
Justin and I have been married for 4 years; we have 3 AMAZING babies. We knew we wanted at least 3 babies, but were surprised with each pregnancy. Jase is 3 - he's our go-with-the-flow kid, energetic, and autistic. Tucker is 2 - stubborn, silly, and super busy. Adelyn is 1 - she runs the show, sweet and sassy! We just added a puppy to the mix - a mini Goldendoodle names T-Rex.
We live in St. Amant, LA. Justin is a biologist and works in costal restoration. I have been a stay-at-home mom since Tucker was born.
What's the biggest challenge about being a stay -at -home -mother?
OK - so every day presents it's own challenge.
I think the biggest challenge is the juggle. Keeping all your balls from falling. You've got to set up your routine that incorporates everything in this small amount of time - cooking, cleaning, activities with the kids that promote every kind of learning under the sun, outside play, potty training, etc etc. Learning to make priorities and letting go to the not so important things. Laundry - let that go! The kids won’t remember having to dig out the clean clothes basket to get dressed - they'll remember the time spent with them... playing outside with mom & mom coloring with them.
Some days the struggle is knowing that you are doing enough, and that what you are doing is important.
Other days, the struggle is being a "person" that's separate from being a mom. OK - this I understand and I don't understand. So, we went to one of those indoor play places not too long ago. All I could hear were moms talking about the same topic... like 5 different sets of moms talking about the SAME THING! It completely threw me off. One mom was talking about how she didn't know who should would be without her career, I'm thinking "a mom, DUH". Don't get me wrong, I completely understand having an identify and a sense of self- but MOM is #1. I take most pride in the person as I am in being a mom. You know, I see it like this. This is my season to be a mom and to put all my blood sweat and tears to raise good people - I'm going to make it my B!
What is the biggest reward for being a stay -at-home-mother?
Experiencing all of their firsts; teaching them new things and them mastering it. Being able to comfort and take care of them when they are sick.
Being home with your children can have its challenges, do you have a "system" in place that makes life easier at home?
Heck yeah. So we do not run on a strict schedule - but we do the same things daily.
I make a meal plan for the month (ideally) - best thing ever. There's no thinking involved in what we will eat on any given day, it's more cost effective making one big grocery trip, I know what meat to take out in the morning to thaw for dinner lol. So much less stress!!!
The dishwasher is ran every day during nap time.
Laundry is washed and dried - I fold it when I can. This is the most time consuming task that just isn't worth it to me.
What advice do you have for other stay-at-home-moms?
Don't be so hard on yourself.
Let it go - the housework, the laundry - let that go. It'll be there tomorrow.
Please share with us anything else you would like the community to know about SAHMs!
It's hard. It's exhausting - you don't have sick days, vacation days, or even a weekend. It doesn't stop. It's the most rewarding, special job in the world. And if there is a possibility that you can stay home with your kids - TAKE IT!
Kids thrive in an environment that is structured. No, I’m not a child behavior specialist; however, I am a mother and a person that has been around my fair share of children to know that children perform better throughout the day when they have a good, set bedtime routine at home.
Children who do not have a good bedtime routine are more apt to have mid-day meltdowns, tantrums, and may even fall asleep in class. I’ve been around children in schools of all different age ranges throughout various times during the day and have witnessed a variety of differences in children who do not have a set bedtime routine.
What works in one home, may not work for others; especially due to work and extra curricular activities, but keeping on a schedule will benefit your child, trust me! Here is an example of our week day morning and nighttime routines :
5:30 a.m.—I wake up and get ready for work while sipping on a cup of coffee.
6:00 a.m.—Get breakfast started for kids
6:30 a.m.—Wake kids up for school.
6:30-7:15 a.m.—Kids get ready for school.
7:30 a.m.— Off to school for kids and off to work for me.
5:00 p.m.—Arrive home from work with kids from day care.
5:10 p.m.—Start homework, if they have not done so already.
5:15 p.m.—Get dinner started, while also helping with homework.
6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.— Eat dinner and start after-dinner chores or get ready for extracurricular activities depending on the day of the week.
7:30 p.m.—Bedtime Routines Start, , unless it’s an activity night then bath time starts once we return around 8:00 p.m
Baths start for the 1st child as I assist in bathing them. After baths/showers for all 3 kids, they brush their teeth, clean their ears, brush their hair, give night-night sugars, and climb in bed to wait for a nighttime story. All 3 children are in bed no later than 8/8:30 p.m. depending on the night; ages range from 4-10 years of age.
Even when my children were babies, I kept them on a good routine for their naps to avoid getting too much sleepy time close to bed time; after their first birthdays, they slept through the night—thank goodness! Again, what works for my family, won’t necessarily work for yours, but creating a good schedule –and sticking to it—is key to getting your kiddos on a good bedtime routine!
Not to mention the fact that I get some much needed alone time every night around the same time! Self-care is important, y’all! We all thrive better when everyone in the household is well rested!
Today's Southern bride wants to create a statement with her bouquet, especially if her wedding dress doesn't have a lot of embellishments on it! From the bold and beautiful to the unique and whimsy, we want to inspire every type of Southern bride!
Above photo credits: Florist: The Sentimental Petal | Photographer: Collin Ritchie | Bride: Reiley N.
Above photo credits: Florist: The Sentimental Petal | Photographer: Lens of Lane | Bride: Faye S.
Above photo credits: Florist: Attention to Details Weddings & Events Flowers, LLC |
Photographer: Angela Jeanette Photography
What was the design inspiration?
Great Marsh Estate, a Georgian style Mansion, is a luxury wedding venue about an hour's drive from the Nation's Capital. It's serene grounds and symmetrical architectural design lends itself to the perfect backdrop for this elegant styled bridal portrait session, photographed on both Porta 400 medium format and 35mm film as well as digital imagery.
In keeping with the vision, the stunning bouquet provided by Lisa of Flowers by Lisa successfully weaves Fall into Winter, creating a timeless neutral palette with pops of yellows, toasty taupes and cascading greens. The vintage heirloom items are framed in a lay flat design to compliment the found ring along with a Mrs. Box and vintage tintype gutta percha case. Each design element is intended to draw on the nostalgia of the architecture while embracing the modern bride.
Our model's Justin Alexander Dress combines vintage charm with contemporary elegance with an illusion neckline, detailed beading and a fit and flare silhouette. Her updo and pop of lip color both work to pull the model's frame forward in the light of golden hour at the mansion. Golden hour at the Great Marsh Estate is a stunning affair and these bridal portraits are intended to showcase the possibilities of a stand alone bridal session months prior to the wedding. These are the types curated images a bride could share with her groom as a special surprise on their Big Day!
About that dress....
The 2019 Justin Alexander Dress #88037 combines vintage charm with contemporary elegance with an illusion neckline, detailed beading and a fit and flare silhouette.
Magnolia Manor (circa 1868) is a charming Greek Revival home originally built by the founder of Osyka, Mississippi. With 14' ceilings, five original fireplaces, gleaming hardwood floors, cypress shutters, and crown molding, this stately house combines historical charm and architectural integrity in grand fashion! Located right over the Mississippi State Line and just six miles from The White Magnolia; Magnolia Manor is perfect for your rehearsal dinner, shower, or party. The house includes one full size apartment, and two bedroom suites with separate entrances, one of them in the main house and furnished with beautiful antiques from the 19th century.
The courtyard is perfect for intimate outdoor celebrations!
Y'all! This dessert wall is absolutely the best thing.....ever!
More About Magnolia Manor:
Magnolia Manor is nestled on a beautiful lot inside the town of Osyka, MS. Surrounded by graceful oaks and a huge Magnolia tree, its shaded porches and huge brick patio, are perfect for your outdoor event. The wide front to back hallway is central to three cozy dining rooms in case of inclement weather.
Three separate entrances welcome you into the separate overnight accommodations.
The full size apartment is beautifully furnished and provides a full kitchen, living room with a sofa sleeper, master bedroom with a queen size bed, and a bath and a half.
The upstairs loft apartment sleeps two in a full size bed and has a bathroom with a shower.
The Master Suite in the main house is beautifully furnished with a full tester bed and canopy, claw foot tub, and fireplace which will bring you back to the magical era of the nineteenth century, while enjoying modern amenities.
Planning a wedding can be quite stressful, especially when you haven't set a budget.
There are many different elements that go into planning a wedding and the amounts can be mind-boggling.
If you've recently gotten married or are in the planning process now, help us out by completing the form below, so that we can create an up-to-date editorial about the costs of weddings.
Art deco with a 1920s flair was the perfect theme for this newly renovated speakeasy in Savannah, Georgia.
St. Augustine, Florida
From the Photographer:
"Emily & Clint met through a mutual friend- when she spoke of Emily she told Clint "that will be the girl you marry" and well, there you have it! Downtown St Augustine was really special for them, they had their first date there & eventually where Clint would propose. It was obvious this was the location for their engagement session. Our plan was to start in Downtown and make our way to the beach. Downtown was so busy and we found ourselves literally chasing light to the beach."
How did you meet?
"It was the beginning of my junior year at Florida State, in Tallahassee FL, when my parents’ neighbors (who just happen to be very close friends of ours) back home began mentioning him to me. “Emily, you HAVE to meet my cousin, y’all would be so perfect for each other”, they’d say. I was just beginning nursing school at the time and was pretty focused on putting all my energy into that. I also didn’t really think they were totally serious about setting us up. I’d come home for weekends and all I would hear was, “You would compliment each other so well, he’s your future husband, we’re telling you!” They would show me pictures of him which got me thinking, “well dang, I certainly hope my future husband is as handsome as that guy” and “he’s totally out of my league!” Months went by and I continued to hear about Clint from my neighbors. Little did I know, Clint continued to hear about me from his cousins as well. Fast forward to April, that school year was finally coming to an end for me and I was home for a weekend hanging out with the neighbors. They texted Clint my number, where he responded by saying “is this a joke?” Guess we both didn’t think they were being that serious LOL. He eventually began texting me and the rest is history. We texted everyday, talked on the phone for hours, and came to find out that we actually did compliment each other really well. At the time, he was living about 6 hours away from where I was going to school. In June, he made a weekend trip up to where my family lived and we had our first date. Our first time hanging out alone, without family, was actually at Planet Fitness haha (we both have a love for fitness- at least we got a good workout in!). He decided to actually take me on a real “first date” after that to downtown St. Augustine, where we walked around for hours, sat by the fort, and enjoyed each other’s company. After we met for the first time and he came away on vacation with my family, we knew the distance wasn’t an issue and that we would do anything to make it work between us. And that’s what we did. It only took about one month into us dating for me to know Clint was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He has the most genuine, sacrificial heart that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He is everything and so much more I’ve dreamt of having in a husband. I thank God everyday for bringing us together and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for this next season of our lives together! After all, his cousins were SO right and we owe them big time!"
What is your proposal story?
"It had been about a year and a half of mostly long distance dating, yet I had never felt a stronger connection than the one I have with Clint. We had talked about marriage multiple times and we were clearly both in this relationship for the long run. This past October, I moved to North Carolina to pursue a job as a nurse, which made the distance even greater, being that he has to stay in Florida until this coming August to finish up an internship. I was planning on going home to my family and Clint in Florida for the week of Thanksgiving. It was the weekend before my trip and my 2 friends from work, who I also went to college with, mentioned that we should go watch the Florida State football game and get our nails done. Have a nice girls day. Wanting to stick to a spending budget, I said I’d skip on getting my nails done since they’d get ruined at work anyways and I had just spent money on getting my hair done that week (getting my nails done just isn’t really my thing anyways). My friends insisted on me joining them for nails- said the money will continue to come, and even offered to pay for me! At that point I was like “uhhh ok guys I’m not THAT broke, I’ll join y’all, but don’t worry about paying for me!” I was also a little confused as to why they were so reluctant to letting me say no to joining them for a manicure. I mean, it’s just a manicure. I mentioned to Clint my plans for the day and that I didn’t feel like joining them for a manicure. He actually went ahead and venmoed me money for it and told me to treat myself. I should’ve caught onto something here. Anyways, I got them done and went on my trip back home. The Nights of Lights festival was going on downtown St. Augustine that week, so Clint asked me out and we went back to where we had our first date. The entire car ride downtown I was talking his ear off about random stuff and he would give me one word or half thought out answers, which was very unlike him. He was inattentive and seemed distracted. Maybe he’s just hungry, I thought. We got downtown and started walking around the fort, where he starts talking about our first date. In that moment I started putting some pieces together and thought, “No way, this can’t be happening”. He brings me over to a little dock and begins his “speech”, telling me how grateful he is for my love and how he wants nothing more than to spend forever with me. He got down on one knee and asked the question I had been waiting to hear ever since a month after our first date. I cried tears of joy and couldn’t believe what was happening. I really get to spend the rest of my life with this guy? How did I get so lucky? I still ask myself these questions. He’s the type of guy I never thought existed. Funny thing I came to find out later was that he was behind the planning of the “girls day”. He had messaged my friend on social media, told her he was planning on proposing, and asked if she’d insinuate that we get our nails done. He told her to expect push back from me (he knows me too well) and that he would Venmo her the money if she offered to pay for me. Well, all I can say is that his plan worked and I sure am glad I went along with that manicure lol. Clint Kelly, I can’t wait to be your wife. January 19, 2020 can’t come fast enough!"
This color combination is seriously the best! The bold emerald with pops of mustard yellow and the use of copper work so well together!
Macarons are such a versatile dessert! They can be customized to match your celebrations colors and your baker can get very creative with flavors!
Creative cakes are our jam!
I know, peaches aren't in season until at least June, but sometimes you just have a craving for a certain food and you don't want to wait any longer!
The weather had been quite funky out, so I really didn't want to go to the grocery store for anything; I opened my pantry and saw a can of peaches. What in the world could I make with a can of peaches?!
I dug around even more in my pantry and refrigerator and found several items that could work, so I went to my computer to search the internet for a peaches and cream tart recipe using the ingredients that I already had on hand, I was determined to not go to the store in the rain.
I placed my items on the counter and told myself, " I can make this work and it will taste amazing! " Confidence is key here and my husband and kids were my test subjects!
Lucky for me, I love good food and have a pretty good idea of what kind of ingredients it takes to make certain things.
PEACHES & CREAM MINI TARTS
with a drizzled peach syrup
(yields 6 mini tarts)
Peach Simple Syrup: (optional)
For the Crust:
For the Cream Filling:
**If you want to drizzle peach syrup on top when your peaches & cream tarts are ready, simply combine the 3 ingredients into a small sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to simmer until your desired thickness and drizzle over tarts when ready to eat. Syrup can be refrigerated up to 4 days.
Featuring styled inspirational shoots are seriously our jam! There are so many elements that you can become inspired with, for not only a wedding, but any celebration really!
Styled Inspirations allow each Creative to really get creative in their services or products that they offer.
Outdoor lounge areas are such a haute trend that we're loving!!
Melanie McCullough, owner of MLM Photography, Favorite Moments From the Shoot:
"I loved the spring feel that all the beautiful flowers added. The cake...OMG everything about it was just perfect for a spring southern wedding. I thought the use of classic cars in this shoot fit in perfectly. The grounds of The Mackey House are busting with the smell of spring with all the beautiful blooms and they enhanced the beauty of the day. "
You had us at food! Food is a very important element in every celebration! I cannot stress that enough! You want your guests to remember not only how the food tastes, but how it looks. Styled dishes at inspiration shoots allow readers to think about the different food elements that they can have at their future celebration!
Hello! Doesn't this pastel green cake scream SPRING!!
Always love a colorful twist on tradition.
This dreamy tablescape is a Spring dream that can work for any celebration!
I love Spring in the South! What I don't love is the fact that I kill most plants! It's true; while my mother and sister may have inherited the "green thumb", I did not.
In fact, for many years, I had a "black thumb"! Anytime I attempted to grow something indoors, it would do fine; however, the minute I transferred it outside, the plants would sadly perish. It became quite embarrassing for people to joke about the fact that I would kill so many plants every time I bought new ones.
A few years ago we purchased a deep purple rose and kept it in a whiskey barrel planter because our yard at that home didn't keep much of anything alive. The rose would sprout the most beautiful blooms ever! Sadly, someone in our neighborhood would clip the beautiful blooms and take them. We never did find out who. We eventually sold that home and purchased our current one. The previous owner had this beautiful, pink Double Knockout Rose bush planted in the front yard! To my surprise each Spring it came back with beautiful blooms. I decided to look up care instructions for knockout roses because I was determined to not let this rose bush die! I prune the plant each year and give it plenty of rose food, and I remember to water it in the dead heat of Summer when there's barely any rain falling! Kudos to me, because I either over-water or under-water, there is no happy medium! LOL
Since my Double Knockout Rose has managed to come back for four Spring seasons, I thought that it was time to expand to more rose bushes, because let's face it......who can resist beautiful rose blooms!? But let's not forget about the fact that I still, technically, have a "black thumb"! Just a few months ago I had to replant my succulents, that I somehow managed to keep alive for 10 years with minimal intervention, hey had quit growing and were in fact dying. After replanting them in fresh soil and giving it a new pot, they've sprouted and look healthy!
I found myself stopping at Clegg's Nursery one afternoon and browsed for what seemed like an hour! I finally committed to buying a beautiful white rose inspired by an upcoming wedding, it's an Iceberg floribunda. It has beautiful clusters of white, honey-scented flowers!
Not to be discouraged, I returned to Clegg's Nursery to buy two more roses: Ink Spots, a hybrid tea rose that has an alluring and mysterious near-black flower. It has a black pointed bud and it gracefully opens to a velvety dark red bloom!
The third rose bush purchased is called a Double Delight hybrid tea rose, that has a cream color center and strawberry painted rings on the outside of the petals as they unfold.
To spread my novice wings even further, my garden haul also included a La Feliciana Peach tree with the most beautiful peach blossoms! Ms. Feliciana Peach won't produce peaches this year, although research shows within 1 -3 years.
And finally, I planted seeds of Poppy, Baby's Breath, Snapdragons, and Tall Double Mix Strawflower! I'll update in a future Novice Gardner Series with their outcome!
Styled Inspiration | Featured in Volume 8
"This vintage styled shoot is very special to me on a very personal level. The inspiration behind this shoot was my grandmother. She loved vintage style and collecting antiques and you would often find her strolling around flea markets. I didn't understand it as a kid, but after she passed and I grew up, I realized I have the same love of vintage antiques and I also realized that it came from her. The suitcases used in this shoot were hers, given to her by her mother (my great-grandmother) when she graduated high school. If these suitcases could talk, oh the stories the would tell. The teal suitcases and the bright red school house really laid the groundwork for the color palette and provided the perfect pop of color for the shoot. Muted versions of teal and red are seen in the candles, the vintage china plates, depression glass goblets, soft pink flowers & the bride's shoes. The handwritten stationery has an aged look and vibe of an old love letter. My vision for this shoot was that it prompt brides to think about their grandparents and their family's legacy of love while also giving them inspiration for how they could incorporate their special family heirlooms into their wedding day. " - Sarah Folsom, Gracious Company
What's not to love about Small Town USA?! Living in a big city isn't for everyone, neither is living in a small town, but we want to know what your favorite small town in the South is and why!
Fill out the form below for a chance have your favorite southern small town featured in an upcoming issue of Southern Celebrations Magazine.
Written By: Kimberly Lehman | Photography: Stacey Long Boudoir, a divison of Stacey Long Photography | Models: Lauren Simpson, Monyca Tamang, Megan Palko | Event Planner: Kimberly Lehman, Love, Laughter & Elegance: Wedding & Event Planning | Venue:Courtyard by Marriott, Canton, Ohio | Makeup: Monyca Tamang | Cake/Cookies: Sarah’s Sugar Cookies | Jeweled Art: Susie Kays Design | Veil: Over the Moon Bridal | Lace Boots: House of Elliot | Invitation: A Pink Sunset | Select Attire & Accessories/Linen/Décor: Lorili Design
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! There are many events that will take place during your engagement and wedding planning, and one of them might include a bridal boudoir photo session. What is a boudoir session, one may ask? It is a photo session, in which you are posed by a professional photographer, wearing pretty lingerie. Often, professional hair styling and makeup are also included in a boudoir session. This photo session may take place in a photography studio, hotel room, or one’s own home. Sometimes photos are taken in outdoor, urban, or unexpected, non-traditional settings. The photos are then often given to your future spouse as a gift before the wedding, or as an anniversary gift.
That’s the basic definition of boudoir photography. But it is so much more than that! Photography is an art form, no question about it. Boudoir photography is that same art form, elevated. It is sensual, soft, cozy, romantic, lush. It can also be edgy and raw, blatantly sexy, and badass. As Patrick Swayze once said in a famous movie, “it’s a feeling, a heartbeat.” Nothing could be more true about this artistic medium. An experienced boudoir photographer can pose you in ways that will bring out curves that you never thought you had, and will show your inner goddess off to perfection. It will leave you feeling glamorous, sexy, and empowered in a way that will keep you (and your significant other) smiling for years to come.
So, what can you expect to happen during a boudoir session? During your initial consultation with a boudoir photographer, you can discuss what you like to wear, whether it is lacy and daring, or soft and sweet. Some of the best boudoir photos I have ever seen have been with the model in an oversized, slouchy sweater, with one bare shoulder, and a pair of warm and cozy socks that reach above the knee. You may prefer to don the bridal undergarments that will be worn on your wedding day. Add your veil for a soft, timeless romantic look. If you or your intended are sports fans, why not go for a playful look with a favorite team jersey? Perhaps you would prefer a button-down shirt and a tie for a classic, professional vibe. Or would you like to go for an all-out bombshell look? The options are endless, as are the wardrobe choices. Play around with different types of looks to see what complements your figure. Don’t forget to consider the shoes, stockings, jewelry and other accessories that will complete your ensemble. A few props can also enhance your photos, like an antique hand mirror, or a soft blanket that feels amazing against bare skin. If you want to feel like a queen, by all means, bring along a tiara. It’s your day! Anything goes!
During your consultation, your photographer will also talk about posing, and how many settings and wardrobe changes you will utilize. You will want to schedule your photo session a few months before your wedding or anniversary, so that your photographer has enough turn-around time for editing your photos, and to place your order for prints or an album.
It’s perfectly natural to feel a little bit nervous about an intimate photo session like this. You will relax once the camera starts clicking, I promise. If you would feel more comfortable with having a gal pal to accompany you to your session, definitely ask. Perhaps they would like to participate in a session as well. Always more fun! Also, go easy on the alcohol and salty foods a few days prior to the photo shoot to prevent bloating. Be sure to drink lots of water, to stay well hydrated, and set your skin to glowing. Enjoy being pampered by a hair stylist and make up artist prior to your photo session. This is your moment to shine, and revel in all of your womanly glory.
I highly encourage all women to schedule this type of photo session for themselves, at least once in their lives. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or size. All women are beautiful in their own unique shapes, and skin tones. The overall experience is amazing, and one that you will never forget! You will come away with quite the boost in self-confidence. You will feel very empowered, and ready to take on the world, in this next chapter of your life. Enjoy!
More images are featured in Volume 8.
A celebration without cake is merely a meeting and one of the biggest celebrations in south Louisiana is Carnival Season and the symbol of Mardi Gras is the best cake ever: the king cake!
What exactly is a king cake?
In short, a king cake is made up of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle with a glazed topping sprinkled with colored sugar. They come in a variety of flavors, fillings, and colors. Traditionally they are colored purple to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power. (Scroll down for a history about Mardi Gras.)
Who has the best king cake?
To date, I have tried dozens of king cakes from all over the southern region of Louisiana that spans over several decades. I've tried the good, the bad, the moist, and the dry. I'm slightly critical of food, so I won't list the bad, instead I'll tell you about the BEST king cakes I've ever had and they both hail from Sucré in New Orleans, Louisiana; the first one is the Sucré signature King Cake - a rich, braided, buttery brioche dough sweetened with cinnamon and sugar, filled with whipped cream cheese, and finished with Sucré’s signature glaze. The second best is the Sucré Sugar + Spice King Cake! It's the beautiful partnership of Sucré and Tabasco and is their newest flavor. If you like a little heat, you'll love the flavors of the Sugar + Spice, a braided, buttery dough sweetened with cinnamon and sugar, filled with a single-bean Swiss chocolate whipped cream cheese filling, and accented with TABASCO® Habanero Sauce, that has a surprising hint of mango, papaya, and banana!
For History Buffs: A Brief History About Mardi Gras
ORIGINS OF MARDI GRAS
According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.
Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.” The word “carnival,” another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, may also derive from this vegetarian-unfriendly custom: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat.
MARDI GRAS IN THE UNITED STATES
Many historians believe that the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana, just south of the holiday’s future epicenter: New Orleans. They held a small celebration and dubbed the spot Point du Mardi Gras. In the decades that followed, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rowdy rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.
On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed while visiting Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats, setting the tone for future public celebrations in the city. Since then, krewes have remained a fixture of the Carnival scene throughout Louisiana. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake.
Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama and Mississippi. Each region has its own events and traditions.
Why does Mardi Gras season start on Jan. 6?
(as told By Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune )
In the Catholic world, Jan. 6 is called Epiphany or Twelfth Night (since it's twelve days after Christmas) or Kings Day (hence the King Cake tie-in, right?). It marks the moment in the Bible that the three kings, having traveled over field and fountain, moor and mountain, arrived in Bethlehem to behold the baby Jesus. Traditionally, Epiphany is considered the last day of the Christmas holidays.
Traditionally Kings Day, aka Epiphany, aka Twelfth Night, is a time of feasting. So, back in 1870, one of the very first Mardi Gras clubs decided to have a parade and party on that night. They called themselves the Twelfth Night Revelers.
According to a 2009 NOLA.com story titled "A History of Mardi Gras" by Becky Retz, The Revelers employed jesters to serve king cake to young ladies at the party. Back then, king cakes had a gilded bean hidden inside (because pink plastic babies were very, very scarce in those days). Whichever young lady got the lucky bean would be crowned queen of the Revelers. But, according to Retz, the Revelers' jesters went off the rails.
"It seems the fools were drunk," Retz wrote, and instead of presenting the cake, they either dropped it on or threw it at the women."
Oh you guys!
And there you have it. Since the Twelfth Night Revelers' fateful drunken king cake party, New Orleans has apparently begun the Mardi Gras season on Jan. 6. At least that seems to be the answer.
Your Jan. 6 rights and privileges
Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, you are free to say "happy Mardi Gras" to the bus driver, in the same way you might start saying "Merry Christmas" on the first day after Thanksgiving.
Starting Jan. 6, you are also free to wear purple green and gold, the ghastly colors of Mardi Gras. But start out slow. In the workplace, your fellow employees should not be asked to endure your purple, green and gold bowtie or scarf until, say, Endymion Saturday (Feb. 25).
Starting Jan. 6, you are free -- obliged, even -- to eat king cake (round pastries with ghastly purple, green, and gold sprinkles) whenever you encounter it.
Truth is, these days you'll see king cakes for sale pretty much all year round. However, purists view purchasing king cakes before Jan. 6 as a demonstration of gauche impatience. Sort of like shooting off fireworks on July 3. Or opening the Christmas presents a day early.
It's no big deal. A cultural misdemeanor.
Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate romance and love, which is why I choose to celebrate it with my husband and not my children. Does that make me a horrible mother; absolutely not! And you shouldn't feel horrible or made to feel guilty from others either.
If you have young, school-aged children, teachers will send home notes about Valentine's Day parties that require you to give a Valentine's Day card to every student. So, as parents, we go along with it and send cards and candies to school.
I draw the line at that. I do not give my children gifts or cards for Valentine's Day at home.
In my opinion, it is not a holiday that was meant for children to celebrate. If you look back in history, the true meaning of St. Valentine's Day was a time of courtship between men and women. Some even say that it was the start of mating season for birds, hence where the saying "two love birds" originated.
It's okay to show and teach our children love and affection, just designate St. Valentine's Day for our significant others! Show them how special they are to you. Give them gifts and cards and candies. Tell them why you fell in love with them.
But what if you have children and can't get a babysitter? That's okay, too. We all can't get sitters when we need them; however, we can still set aside time with our significant other, without our kids:
Wedding trends change year after year; some stay the same or change slightly and other trends are complete opposites of the previous years. It's not that new trends erase old trends, they just add to it!
Each celebration is as unique as each couple celebrating it is, many couples are inspired by trends, but make it their own in the end.
2019 is the year for personality, creativeness, and purpose; and we're looking forward to seeing more of these trends at your celebration!
Today's lifestyle quick tip is brought to you as I get into cleaning mode! I'm not really sure what day of the week it is; I know we're somewhere between Christmas and New Years and it's time to clean my house and the kiddos are still out of school for Winter break!
If you have leftover citrus fruits that may be going bad (the skin will be hard), put them to use in your kitchen for a natural and fresh cleaning solution. Here's a few suggestions on how to use your leftover citrus fruits:
Some kids just love junk food and run away at the sight or sound of vegetables! We've taste tested quite a few recipes and have come up with our 3 favorite recipes for faux snack foods! And the best thing is: they're kid approved!
Heat the oven to 275°F. Set a wire rack on a large baking sheet and set aside.
Thinly slice the sweet potato on a mandoline about 1/8-inch thick. Toss together the slices with olive oil in a bowl, making sure each slice is coated well. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the slices on the wire rack in a single layer. Bake for about 50 minutes, flipping the chips halfway through baking, until golden and crisp. Cool for a few minutes before serving.
Recipe credits: Wishful Chef
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Cook broccoli according to package directions and chop into small pieces.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.
Add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well.
Shape into 1 1/2 inch nuggets and place on the baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping the nuggets over half way through the cooking time.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture.
Stir in zucchini, oatmeal, and your choice of an optional add-in.
Roll balls of dough and place 2 inches a part on greased cookie sheet, press down slightly to flatten.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
The Christmas holiday season can be extremely stressful. Between the work parties, school parties, and family get-togethers the overload of constantly being on the go and feeling obligated to buy gifts for everyone can leave you in a funk. I know because I've been there, am there now, and will probably not listen to my own advice and be there again! However, each Holiday season I do get better with not beating myself up over not buying everyone gifts and learning how to say no to invitations when I'm already feeling overwhelmed.
I've came up with a few tips, that hopefully I'll listen to in the future:
REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
At times, we get super wrapped up in pleasing everyone, that we forget why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. I know I'm guilty! The Christmas Holidays is not about the presents; it's about spending quality time with the people you care about. It's about the gathering of friends and family. It's about celebrating the birth of Jesus. One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Three Wise Men
DON'T GO BROKE TRYING TO PLEASE OTHERS
Something I'm guilty of again. I'm getting better at it though! But it's hard to not buy gifts for those that you love. A few years back, we decided to quit going overboard on gifts for our children. We limited it to 3-4 gifts a piece. That's it. We also stopped buying gifts for others. Do I feel guilty for not giving when I'm receiving? Of course, I do! But, again, something I struggle with, is that when you don't have it to give, you don't have it. You just simply cannot go broke trying to impress others. Well, what about your kids, you might say? Well, if we've taught them the true meaning of Christmas, they won't be disappointed when they don't get everything they wanted. We get so wrapped up in the outside world, that we forget about our world in front of us. I guarantee that children are more impressed and grateful in the long run to experiences and time spent with each other, than the latest toy or gadget or the amount of gifts they did or didn't receive.
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH COMES FIRST
For the sake of your sanity, you do not have to visit or invite everyone in your family for the holidays. Sometimes, it's just not worth it. Some family members are toxic to your health. The holidays are a time to relax and enjoy the season, not a time to be stressed. Don't use the holidays as a time or place to try and mend broken relationships, it can turn sour fast. IF you find yourself in a situation where you are around toxic family members, limit your timeframe on how long you'll be visiting. If you are not in control of the transportation, simply excuse yourself from wherever the toxic family member is and go elsewhere in the home, like outside if weather permits. Don't ever feel guilty for avoiding toxic family members during the Christmas holidays. Not everyone who is in your life was meant to stay there and family is no exception. It doesn't matter if they are parents, aunts, siblings, or grandparents; your mental health is more important.
CREATE JOYFUL MEMORIES DURING YOUR WINTER BREAK
If you have children, create joyful memories with them. You don't have to have a lot of money to create memories, remember that!! You don't always have to be on the go with your kiddos. Save money by making memories at home! Bake cookies, make crafts, watch Christmas movies! Because let's face it, running the roads everyday with cranky kids is not fun; they don't like being trapped in cars! Don't go on a two hour drive to go look at Christmas lights either, visit local neighborhoods that have Christmas light displays. Again, it's the whole traveling with kids thing that makes a joyful memory experience, a not so joyful experience.
This blog post has been sponsored by The Sentimental Petal.
We love small businesses and our Southern communities! To give back we are giving away a quarter page ad in our Family Edition, launches May 2019!
Yes, you heard right! We are giving away a quarter page ad, a long side bar ad to the Home page of SouthernCelebrationsMag.com, and a Vendor Listing (if not already listed, if you are already a valued vendor, your listing will be renewed for another year; to one very lucky small business! Advertising Giveaway is valued at $2450.00, we'll even design the ads for you!
HOW TO ENTER:
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Giveaway ends Tuesday, December 18, 2019 at 10:00 a.m cst.
A winner will be chosen at random Tuesday after 2 p.m. cst in a live Facebook video.