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Monday, December 26, 2016

Fontainebleau State Park: A Hidden Gem in Louisiana

Fontainebleau State Park is a 2,800-acre park located on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It is a beautiful place to spend some time with nature, yet close enough to New Orleans for some big city fun.

I have listed nine fun things to do and have include some winter and summer photos so that you can see that it is equally beautiful all year around.

1. Fishing is a popular activity at the park.  Check out the pier or cast from the shoreline for some redfish and trout action.

2. With white sand and beautiful blue water, the beach area is a great place for swimming and catching some sun rays.

3. Gathering shells along the shoreline is fun for the whole family. There are several different kinds and colors of shells, but I only collected the white ones.

4. Explore the cluster of cypress trees along the beach. 

 5. Take photos of and with the giant oak trees draped with Spanish.

6. Visit the brick ruins of a sugar mill built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville.

7. Stay in one of the 12 cabins that sleeps up to 8 people each for $120 - $150 per night.

8. Do some hiking at one of the two trails.
A 4.8-mile hiking trail and a 1-1/4 mile nature trail

Go Sailing.
Sailing is very popular on Lake Pontchartrain. Delaune YachtBrokerage is located just 9 minutes from the park and offers a couple of sailing options.

You can cruise with Captain Rick Delaune at the helm of the aboard the 42 ft. sailboat, "Windward Passage or sign up for private sailing lessons.

I have looked into the sailing lessons and it sounds like so much fun! I’m thinking about setting lessons up for my kiddos. They are all in their 20’s and I think they would have a blast!

1298 Madison St, Mandeville, LA 70448



62883 Hwy. 1089
Mandeville, LA 70448

Entrance Fees:
$2 per person
Free for Seniors (62 and older) and children (3 and under)

Happy Travels! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Making Banana Bread Balls: A Tasty and Easy Recipe

These are amazing! I found a recipe for banana balls that sounded good, but was horrible when I made them. I experimented with different ingredients and amounts and came up with a totally different recipe that is amazing! I have made them three times this week already due to everyone requesting more.

Banana Bread Balls


2 ½ Cups vanilla wafers (about 70 wafers), finely crushed
½ cup ripe mashed banana
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup confectioners powdered sugar
½ - ¾ cup finely chopped pecans (I like to toast mine first)
12 oz. white candy coating (I used Almond Bark)
Yellow food coloring


Mix crushed vanilla wafers, banana, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and pecans in a medium size bowl until well blended.  Place the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Melt candy coating according to directions on package. Put about 1/8 cup into separate bowl and add yellow food coloring to get desired color.

Remove vanilla wafer mixture from freezer. Shape into 1 inch balls and dip in white candy coating. Place onto waxed paper. Drizzle with  melted yellow candy coating and sprinkle with pecans. Allow to completely dry and harden on wax paper before storing. Store in refrigerator.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Exploring the Cajun Riviera: Holly Beach in Cameron Parish, Louisiana

If you love finding tons of beautiful shells on a secluded beach, then you are going to love this southwestern Louisiana beach!

Holly Beach, known as the "Cajun Riviera", is a stretch of coastline in Cameron Parish.  The area was completely destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and hit again by Hurricane Ike in 2008. The area is slowly rebuilding, but continues to be fairly isolated.

My first trip to Holly Beach was totally unplanned. We were getting plants from the nurseries in Forest Hill, Louisiana and were looking for something else to do in the area.  We found Holly Beach and decide to check it out since we had never been to that area of Louisiana. It was a two hour drive, but we were feeling adventuresome.   

We followed interstate 49 to the bottom of the state, and then I’m not exactly sure where we were. Are plans were to see how close we could get to the coast and follow it over to Holly Beach.

 Well….for the most part, the bottom of Louisiana is marsh and swamp!  We drove for about 3 hours looking at nothing but marshy areas on both side of the road. It was getting close to sunset when we came upon the Cameron Motel. It was a nice clean hotel, which was a good thing considering it was the only one within 50 miles.

Address: 531 Marshall St, Cameron, LA 70631
Phone: (337) 775-5442 

We stayed there for the night and caught the ferry to go across to Holly Beach early the next morning. The cost for the ferry was $1 per car. We were surprised to find that the kind gentleman in front of us had paid for our ride. We got out and visited with him as we crossed the channel. I could listen to someone with a Cajun accent all day!  

The area around the hotel is mainly shipping ports. There are a few small places to eat, a Dollar general, a fire station, and not much else.  

We were in shock when we arrived at Holly Beach! We drove out onto the beach and there was not another person anywhere to be seen.

And shells were everywhere! Thousands of them!


We had not even planned on going to a beach on this trip, so we didn’t have anything to put shells in. I don’t remember what we found to carry them in, but we got home with tons of unique shells.

I have been to Holly beach several times now and it still remains one of my favorite beaches for shelling. It is an excellent place for walking on the beach and finding shells. 

It is not a good place for swimming at times because of high levels of bacteria in the water, although, I have seen people swimming on every visit since the first one.

 If you would like to check for swimming advisories before you go, click here.

Happy Travels! 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Capturing the Beauty of Lake Catherine State Park's Waterfall: A Christmas Day Photoshoot

We spent last Christmas on Lake Catherine and had a blast. It was a beautiful warm day, so we hiked to the popular waterfall and took our photos there. I thought I would share them with you for inspiration on finding a unique place for a Christmas photoshoot.

A waterfall is so such an unexpected place and everyone has loved all the photos!

I love catching those little moments that will mean so much to the cousins in the future.

Some of my favorites are the unplanned ones like this. I think we made a lot of hikers happy with all the hats. Everyone we passed was smiling!

Our youngest family was worn out from all the hiking. I'm pretty sure several of the adults were tired from carrying him too! I noticed he was passed around a lot during the trip.

Lake Catherine State Park is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


1200 Catherine Park Rd
 Hot Springs, AR 71913

Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Celebrating an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas

If you are looking for a unique experience this Christmas, visit Historic Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas.

Step back in time with the 30th annual Christmas and Candlelight on December 10th, 2016.

Beginning at dusk, hundreds of luminaries are lit to line the walkways between the buildings.

Enjoy musical performances through the park and tours of historic homes decorated with time period Christmas decor. 

Williams' Tavern Restaurant will be serving a Christmas buffet, including turkey and dressing.

Top your visit off with a horse-drawn surrey ride through the streets of this charming village.

 Historic Washington State Park is located on U.S. Highway 278 nine miles north of Hope, Arkansas.

 Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 12, free for kids under 6.

Happy Travels!