Christmas Amid the Oaks

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     It’s Christmastime in New Orleans, and while that doesn’t bring forth images of snow covered driveways and chimneys thick with smoke, it does conjure images of mighty oak trees adorned with lights. The sound of a small train horn reminds locals that the holiday season is once again in full swing as City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks opens its gates to invite visitors to bask in the magic of the season. Complete with Santa Claus, hot chocolate, and the light display of a Cajun Night before Christmas, Celebration in the Oaks combines all of the elements of a perfect New Orleans Christmas.      Every season, thousands of park visitors gather to embrace the joy of the season in what has truly become a New Orleans tradition. The beautiful carousel that...

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How Prepared Are You?

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     Anyone living on or near the coast understands the internal tension that comes from hearing weather professionals declare that hurricane season is upon us. Every June 1st, meteorologists turn their eyes to the oceans and await the development of a circular pattern of stormy weather that may eventually become a hurricane. They create tracking maps and use historical models to predict the storm’s ultimate destination. Unfortunately, despite the high level of technology available, Mother Nature is unpredictable. In order to alleviate some of the stress that comes with the hurricane tracking, it’s a good idea for individuals to develop a plan for their families. That way when a storm does pose a threat, it’s a smoother process to prepare. When hurricane season begins, it’s imperative to confirm that you have the appropriate supplies...

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Seasons of the South

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     Living in New Orleans, I actually had to check my calendar to verify that summer had ended. There are no colorful trees with leaves of bright orange, yellow and red. No gently flowing cool breeze brushes my cheek to usher in the change in seasons here in south Louisiana. No magical environmental changes symbolize the transitions from season to season in our warm, often unbearably humid climate.      Now that fall has officially made its annual debut, the countdown begins to my favorite season, the Christmas Season. As soon as there are fewer than 100 days until Christmas, the shopping pressure is on. Every year I tell myself that if I diligently plan ahead, I can have all shopping done by the first week in November. As many times as I have tried to instill...

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Middendorf’s Restaurant

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     Fresh seafood accented by a waterfront view is the best way to describe the dining experience at Middendorf’s Restaurant. Opened in 1934, this family restaurant has been a staple in Manchac for nearly 78 years. After Louis Middendorf lost his job in the 1929 stock market crash, he and his wife moved to live with her family in Manchac, LA. With a minimal amount of cash and a small loan, they opened a café in its current day location. When the interstate highways opened, business began booming. A mere thirty minutes outside of New Orleans, people from all over seemed to find their way to this thin-fried catfish capital of the south.      Fast forward to present day and this restaurant is still providing the homemade personal recipes of Louis’s wife. Delicious fried...

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Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery

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     Moonshine is often considered a taboo subject, especially in the mountains of East Tennessee. Having spent years making their whiskey illegally by only the light of the moon, moonshiners are slowly making their way out of hiding and into the open air. With the recent change of legislation, distilleries are making their presence known in the Smoky Mountain area and meeting the overwhelming demand for customer requests.      Located on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is pulling back the veil of the hidden art of whiskey making. As the first federally licensed distillery in East Tennessee history, Ole Smoky is giving visitors an up-close, taste-and-see approach to their processes.      In the late 1700’s, Scottish Irish settlers brought their knowledge of whiskey making to America. Living in an area of...

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