Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Help

I'm sure y'all have heard about this summer's movie, THE HELP. It's based on the book written by Kathryn Stockett.Well, I'm extra excited about this movie/book because the story takes place in my new hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Kathryn Stockett is a Jackson native so she mentions a lot of the neighborhoods and local establishments here in town.

I thought it would be fun to give y'all a tour of what Jackson, Mississippi looks like on Saturday afternoon. That way when you read the book or see the film you'll have in mind what it truly looks like.

Mississippi's Capital Building

The Faiview Inn (mentioned in the book)

Driving in Belhaven

Houses in Fondren and Belhaven (two neighborhoods that are mentioned in the book). This is the neighborhood that Ms. Hilly resided.

 This is Fondren. This is the street where they filmed a good portion of the movie. They did a fantastic job stepping back in time. I'll attach a little youtube clip so you can see all of their hard work. Be sure to scroll to the top of my blog and pause the ipod before watching the clip.  

Hope y'all had a fun on my tour of Jackson, Mississippi.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mint Juleps

"If the mark of a great cocktail is the number of unbreakable rules it generates, then the mint julep may be America's preeminent classic, edging out the martini in a photo finish." ~ William Grimes, 'Straight Up Or On The Rocks'

The Mint Julep is probably the most famous Southern cocktail of all time. The aroma of the mint leaves and bourbon is absolutely heavenly. Especially on a hot Southern day. Although, over the years I've noticed that not everyone makes their Juleps the same way. Some of the hotels down in New Orleans often serve them in ordinary glasses. I suppose having the traditional silver cup is probably something they don't keep on hand. Perhaps it's more of a supply and demand sort of thing. Why do I bring this up? A silver cup works like a thermos by keeping the rich liquid from cooling down. Sort of like slushie when it gets too warm it's not really a slushie any longer but a liquid mess. And that's something else I noticed, ice! The ice is a big component of the Mint Julep. Some of the restaurants are serving them without the shaved ice but just plain ice cubes. WHAT?!!!

So, I've decided to share a "jewel" Mint Julep recipe to keep on hand. Just in case you want to do some entertaining before summer ends.

Mint Julep


Crushed Ice
4 to 8 large mint syrup
6 to 8 tbsp. of bourbon
Mint sprigs (optional)

1.) Fill two glasses with crushed ice (I use my blender). Pour 1 tablespoon of minted syrup into each glass.

2.) Slightly crush the 4 to 8 mint sprigs; add half to each glass. Pour half of the bourbon into each glass. Stir. Garnish each glass with a mint sprig.

Mint Syrup

1.) In a small bowl, pour 1/2 c. boiling water over 1/2 c. sugar. Wait until it dissolves. Stir in 1/4 c. lightly packed mint leaves. Cover and chill for about 4 hours. Strain the mixture and discard the mint. Store syrup, covered, for about 3 days. Makes about 3/4 cup.

* I found this recipe online and fell in L-O-V-E with it. Hope y'all enjoy it as well.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I came across some really creepy pictures of Jazzland. Jazzland is the Six Flags amusement park located in New Orleans East. During Hurricane Katrina it was completely under water. The property was owned by the city of New Orleans but was leased by Six Flags.

Six Flags terminated their contract and discussions of building a water/theme park was in the near future. However, in 2010, the contract fell through so the park has been sitting vacant since 2005. Currently, their are no plans of development so it sits as a ghost town.

Before Katrina

Days after Katrina

Friday, July 22, 2011

What are your favorite cookbooks?

I enjoy cooking and love finding great cookbooks with delicious recipes. I'm always on the hunt for a good one. Here are a few of my favorites:

What are some of yours?

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I'm putting the final touches on my dinning room and then hopefully move into the kitchen. I seriously thought that the house would have been completed weeks ago. We have been working around the clock trying to get all of our affairs in order before school starts. We've heard horror stories regarding the first year of law school (A LOT of studying). That means our entire schedule will be eaten up with school activities and running our business. That doesn't leave a lot of time working on the house or anything at all.

My list still has many things left to do on it so I'm trying to fit everything in and my days have been stretching into weeks.This summer has been flying by. And the heat hasn't been helping as it has been making me exhausted. We've been dealing with a heat wave that seems to be bouncing between Texas and the South like an intense tennis match. One week it'll be in Texas and then the next we'll get it. Blah!

With this heat I haven't been spending much time in the yards. However, my husband and I have been working on the lawn. The house had been vacant for nearly 9 months before we moved in. The grass had some serious brown patches. I'm happy to report it is now a normal color of green. It has taken a lot of watering and fertilizer but it finally filled in nicely. I even purchased some gorgeous pots. The really large ones that are pricey at nurseries. This is the time of year to buy things for the yards. Everything is either half price or on clearance. You can save yourself a little fortune if you are willing to buy at the end of the season.

I'm really excited about planting this fall. I've been dying to plant hydrangeas and I found the best place in the back yard. It's perfect! I thought  at first that I missed the cut off to plant them but in the region they do best if I plant them in the fall. I didn't realize that you could plant hydrangeas in the fall. Did you? I have so much to learn but at least I don't have to wait an entire two seasons before I can enjoy them. They are my absolute favorite. I just love the big fluffy pedals. The mopheads and lacecaps are my favorites. What are your favorites and what flower do love to see in your yards?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rosalie Mansion

 This is the Rosalie Mansion. The Rosalie was built on one of Natchez prime real estate overlooking the Mississippi. The views from the veranda are absolutely gorgeous. Can't you just imagine sitting on the veranda sipping mint juleps?
This is the back of the house overlooking the gardens. When you scroll down you'll see pictures I've posted of the lovely flowers that are planted around the property.

The story behind the Rosalie is very interesting. The house actually sits on Fort Rosalie. The French built Fort Rosalie in 1716. Remember the French was settling along the Mississippi River exporting furs and other goods (such as tobacco). Growing tension between the French and the Natchez Indians lead to the Natchez War. The Natchez Indians attacked the French settlers and killed hundreds of men, women, and children. The Natchez Indians took control of the fort until the French and Choctaw forces came in and destroyed the it. Leaving it in ruins.

The French had allied with the Choctaw Indians and captured most of Natchez. They sold them into slavery for transportation to French plantations down in the Caribbean. Then the French rebuilt the fort in the 1730s but lost control of the land after the "Treaty of Paris" in 1763. The land went under British rule and then again under Spanish. Finally we became our own nation and after 1798 it became part of the United States. However, the US abandoned the fort in 1804. Today you can visit Fort Rosalie as it is part of the Natchez National Historical Park.

So, when did the Rosalie mansion come into play? In 1820, Peter Little, migrated from Pennsylvania to Natchez, Mississippi. His purpose for relocating to the area is still a mystery. However, he did build his mansion so I'm assuming it had something do with commerce (obviously he was wealthy). Easy enough to conclude considering that the Mississippi river was a busy highway of water that shipped imports and exports to the Southern region at the time. There are two reasons behind a big move and they usually have something to do with family or work. Since there was no family in the area I'm safe to assume it had something do with work (just my opinion). Many wealthy cotton plantation owners shipped their children to be educated to Pennsylvania. Perhaps he heard of a fortune to be made in the south. It was forty years prior to the Civil War and many cotton/tobacco/sugar plantations were making a lot of money at the time.Things to think about.

Peter was only 17 years old when he found himself in Mississippi. It's amazing when you think of the responsibilities young people had at the time. Can you imagine a 17 year old doing that today? Although, Peter was young I believe he was groomed for business his entire life. His grandfather, Colonel Peter Little, was George Washington's physician. It also states that he was one of the pallbearers at President Washington's funeral. I wonder if he was the physician who bled our poor President to death. Thankfully medicine has come a long way. So, with his grandfather being close friends with the President of the United States you can get an idea where Peter Little came from.

I'm sure he took family money to purchase his property in Mississippi and as well as property across the river over in Louisiana. It is said that Peter would often take the ferry to cross the river back and forth to check on his land. During the years he had befriended the ferryboat owner and his family. Unfortunately the owner and his wife came down with yellow fever and both died. Before the wife passed away she begged that Peter would look after their own only daughter, Eliza. She was 14 years old at the time. He was 25 years old and so he married her. However, it was a platonic relationship at first. He sent her to a boarding school in Baltimore.

When Eliza returned to Natchez as a young woman of great means. She was very well educated, beautiful, and sophisticated. Over the years a closer relationship developed. Although, they never had children of their own. They loved children and help raise Peter's niece (after his sister's death). They were married 45 years. Eliza passed away first from the same horrible yellow fever that took her parents lives.  Peter passed away three years later and the house went up for auction.

In 1857, the new owners, The Wilsons, took possession of the property. They too never had children of their own. However, they took two orphaned sisters in. They became extremely close to one of the girls, Fannie (McMurtry). Fannie married and had six children. They all lived at the Rosalie mansion. Their daughters, Annie and Rebeca remained living at the house even after they sold the house to DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). They sold the house in 1938 (couldn't afford the property tax) and resided there until Annie passed away in 1958. They had made an arrangement with DAR. She was the last descendant due to the fact that none of the six children had children of their own. Isn't that something that not one child had an offspring? It had been the family for 101 years.

The furniture you see in the pictures are from the family's estate.

This is the dining room. The china pattern is referred to as "Old Paris" because it came from Paris but does not have a stamp from the manufacturer. Considering that there isn't a stamp it makes it impossible to know the maker or the date; so they refer to it as "Old Paris." Many of the plantations in this area have the same china but varies in color/pattern. You are looking at the original set. Amazing when you think how old it is and it's still in excellent shape.

You'll notice a picture of a battleship in the picture above. That is the USS Mississippi. The USS Mississippi served in the Pacific during WWII. She earned 8 battle stars. She survived two kamikaze crashes from the Japanese and helped our grandfathers fight in Okinawa. She was anchored in Tokyo Bay and witnessed the signing of surrender (ending WWII).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Longwood Plantation

This is the Longwood Plantation. It is probably my very favorite plantation I've ever had the opportunity to visit. The layout and the design are beyond it's time. I must say that the architect, Samuel Sloan, was a mere genius.

The story behind the Longwood Plantation could have honestly been made into a movie. It's hard not to imagine the family and their circumstances while walking the property and house. The hardships that they endured reminds me of the sacrifices that many Southerner's during the Civil War were faced with. Tragic loss in possessions and life are just a few that come to mind. Of course everyone first thought of the Civil War and the South is slavery. However, it was more about state rights and many families who lived in the South did not want to get involved. Over the years these families have been demonized into racist plantation owners who's only mission in life was to lord and rule over people. Not true. Hollywood has made its fortune on the misfortunes of others for years. Of course, I do not deny that some slaves were mistreated and I do believe all men and women in our nation should be free. But to demonize every plantation owner is just as ignorant and wrong as slavery itself. I hope you find the history of this family as interesting as the house itself.

Dr. Haller Nutt was a wealthy cotton plantation owner. He had cotton fields in Louisiana and Mississippi. He married Julia Augusta Williams in 1840. She also came from a wealthy cotton plantation family. Together they began building their dream home in Natchez, Mississippi in the spring of 1860. They hired an architect, Samuel Sloan, from Philadelphia. Mr. Sloan designed a multistory Oriental Revival style home. It's rather impressive once you step inside. Unfortunately, they frown upon interior pictures so I was unable to take them inside the home. I truly wish I could have shared those with you. The furniture and china are very impressive.

As luck would have it, during the construction of the home the Nutts found themselves right in the smack of the beginning of the Civil War. As word arrived about the war the construction workers had to halt and run home to where they were immediately enlisted to fight in the war. The work men's tools and buckets can be seen as they left them behind in a hurry. The Nutt family moved into this building while they were anxiously waiting for the house to be completed.

One of the builders snuck across the line to come work on the house at night. Everyone assumed the war would be over within three months. If only they knew it would anguishly last for years. The first floor was completed but the war took a toll on Mr. Nutt's health. He had lost many of his cotton fields in Louisiana and the Union army had taken many of his much needed supplies. The Civil War caused such stress on the Haller that his health finally turned for the worse and he died of pneumonia in 1864. Mrs. Nutt and her children remained living on the first floor of the house.

 Most of the family's possessions are on display inside. The artwork of the children and of Haller and Juliana was expected. However, I did see a very expensive painting of a black servant on the family wall. When I asked our tour guide about the painting and who the man was he told us it was their servant. They treated him as if he was part of their family and he had lived with them until his death. He was a very important person in their lives and they paid to have a portrait painted of him and hung on the wall of the study (next to Haller and Julia).

The Pilgrimage Garden Club runs the property, as well as many of the other historical homes in the Natchez area.

Look at this fabulous old buggy parked inside. Can't you just hear the wheels moving across the dirt roads? I wonder what it must have been like to travel into town. I'm sure there wasn't near the traffic, Ha!

Of course you can't survive in the South without a porch or rocking chairs. It just wouldn't be proper.

My husband and I had a debate on what we thought this little basket might be used for. My husband won when I finally stepped inside and asked an employee. It's a baby swing!

I attached two pictures. One the steeple from the outside and a view from the interior. This is what I found the most fascinating part of the house. The dome was designed to capture light and travel it down to the basement. There were holes that were going to be aligned by each floor to reflect sunlight into the house. I only wish they had been able to complete the house. It would have been the best plantation in the entire country.

This is wild when you think of the era this was built. There are shutters inside the walls that run on a track. Considering that we do get harsh rain and winds in the South (mostly from hurricanes) we often see shutters in our houses. Isn't that just amazing. 
The details are so stunning

Thank you for stopping by and viewing my pictures. If you ever find yourself in Natchez, Mississippi there are loads of historical homes that you will be able to tour. I highly recommend a visit to one of our nation's most beautiful cities.