While researching and writing NOLA, my great friend Lisa posted a link on my Facebook page for a cookbook. Not just any cookbook, mind you, but a cookbook from New Orleans, with recipes compiled by Ms. New Orleans 2014 Lindsay Reine. How much better could things get? A little bit better. Because of my affinity for all things NOLA, I explained this to Lindsay and she agreed to send me an extra autographed copy for this giveaway. She also became my friend on Facebook, and a huge source of information for my book.
Lindsay confirmed an idea I’ve had from the very beginning- “Most people (in New Orleans) are good people who love and care for everyone, even if they don’t know ya.” There will be a cookbook review/giveaway on my very next post, but first, I want you to meet her.
I love this photo Lindsay sent me for the blog. It shows the woman I know- fun, pretty, and not afraid to work.
Lindsay graciously sat through hours of emails and questions so I could interview her for this post. Here are her answers:
- MoJo: Tell me about yourself, whatever you want to share.
- Lindsay: I’m 32 years old, the youngest of three girls. I live in Slidell, Louisiana which is about thirty minutes from New Orleans. With the exception of college, I have lived here my whole life. I love Slidell, I love the people, the city and mostly I love being so close to my family as most of us have stayed here. My grandparents built this town in various ways and the values of family, charity, and tradition have been passed down to all of us as we continue to serve our community today.
I attended Southeastern Louisiana University where I graduated with honors holding two degrees, one in Management and the other in Marketing, but as you will learn, I did not stop there! I have been a Louisiana real estate agent for eight years as well as being a dental assistant and insurance manager for seven years, where both my sisters and brother-in-law work as well.
I am also the reigning Ms. New Orleans. While all these things keep me pretty busy, I would not have it any other way. I am so honored and excited to have each and every opportunity that has been presented to me so far!
- MoJo: Talk about the Pageants you’re involved in. How long have you been doing Pageants? What do you like/dislike about them? Which titles have you won, and which are you going for?
- Lindsay: Pageants…..well….until the Ms. New Orleans pageant in December 2013, I had not done a pageant in about 28 years. My family has been doing pageants for as long as I can remember and when we were little my parents took me and my sisters to quite a few. My Mother holds a few titles herself so it seemed pretty normal growing up for us to do pageants and stay to watch her compete. In addition to many other titles, my mother was Miss. Crescent City, and holding the title of Ms. New Orleans means so much more to me because I feel like I am carrying on a legacy, different title names, but the same great city.
- Lindsay: I credit my ability to confidently stand in front of a crowd and also my ease of public speaking, to having the pageant experience when I was young. I fully believe those skills have carried me though many group presentations and in everyday life. Pageants are meant to be confidence builders and to get people involved in their community. I really enjoy being a beacon of self-acceptance and giving women a reality check. So many women have come up to me and thanked me, which I never understood until one said “Lindsay, you’re 32 years old, very little pageant experience, a few extra pounds and a lot of personality. You went out there and you did it. It made me reevaluate how I see myself.” I was not offended, not in the very least.
While I was volunteering at a Children’s hospital function a beautiful girl told me her story of how she gained weight after her chemotherapy treatments, she was so excited to see me because she felt like if I was a princess she could be a princess too. ABSOLUTELY she can be a princess, but until that day she didn’t have the confidence to even dream of becoming one. Her mother was in tears after we spoke, she changed my life more than I could ever hope to have changed hers. A few little girls have run up to me and I can see how excited they are, it makes everything worth it and it makes me want to work even harder to show everyone. “If I can do it, so can you.” Participating in the pageant system opens doors and gives you so many more opportunities you may not have had before.
To me, the worst thing about the pageant is the spray tan and the fear of falling on stage! During the Ms. New Orleans pageant, my heel went in a crack on the stage and I almost fell…twice.
I am currently filling out the application to compete for Ms. Louisiana State in August. It is going to be a tough competition as all my competitors are intelligent and beautiful but I am going to get out there, smile and hope for the best!
All that being said, competing in Ms. New Orleans happened by accident. I had no intention of competing; honestly, pageants were the furthest thing from my mind. Then, in usual fashion, I was motivated in the most common way, someone said some awful things to me and I got mad. I was made fun of for my weight, my skin, my accent, my background, even my height, (like I have any control over that) and I was tired of letting it happen. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t enough and like I needed to change, quite frankly I liked myself and was content. I stirred over the comments, texted friends who gave their support and I love them dearly for it. This wasn’t the first time they had to come to my rescue, nor will it be the last, of this I am sure. My nieces and nephews are the light of my life and I started thinking “Would I want this to happen to them? Do I want them to ever be mistreated and have someone say demeaning things to them? What kind role model am I to let them see me accepting this behavior as normal?” Not going to happen, I will not allow them to be taught these things and I understand this person is just one of millions and they will have their own battles to fight. However, as far as I am concerned, the days of letting people walk on me were over.
Then a friend messaged me about the pageant -boom- life changer. I participated in the pageant for the most important reason, me. Win or lose, I was going to get up there and prove to myself and everyone who needed a flare of hope, it could happen and if you want it bad enough, it will happen.
- MoJo: How did the cookbook come about? What was your inspiration for it?
- Lindsay: I come from a long line of excellent cooks and I am Southern. Gathering around good food is tradition. Holidays and gatherings are always centered on what is cooking in the kitchen and what is set on the table, so to me, it just made sense.
The big joke is that I do not know how to cook for less than 20 people at a time, and it is true, I don’t. I love cooking big meals and sharing with friends and family as often as possible. It is a small way to show them I care and that they always have a place at my table and in my home, any time or day, no matter the circumstance.
The cookbook was originally a way to raise money for me to compete in the Ms. Louisiana State pageant and ended up becoming a family heirloom for quite a few people. So many people graciously donated their family recipes to me and the book grew a life of its own, it became a piece of history for families to treasure. Every recipe has a story and I was so blessed to hear a few of them along the way. My boyfriend, Michael, and I hand-typed each recipe to submit to the publisher and I could not have done it without him. Some of the recipes were handwritten and very old, it was an adventure to decipher a few but we got through it. There are 150 recipes filled with love and yummy goodness in the cookbook and I am so proud of how it turned out.
- MoJo: I did notice a few typos in the cookbook. For instance, in one recipe instead of “simmer” it’s typed “sinner” which I found humorous since it originated in New Orleans. Another typo instructed me to bake biscuits for 10-152 minutes. That’s quite a time difference!
- Lindsay (laughs): I knew there were a couple, the publisher was supposed to check and by the time they sent it to me to edit I was burnt out! Mike and I typed in all the recipes ourselves to save money, it was an adventure!! Some of the recipes were so old it was hard to read (the mayo biscuits was one of those recipes). It was fun but I’m glad it’s over.
- MoJo: Tell me about being a real estate agent in NOLA. I imagine the properties you have access to are a bit different than standard cities.
- Lindsay: Being a real estate agent is a really tough job. People are asking you to help them invest a very large amount of money into something they expect to shelter and protect them and they have no idea what they are looking for. There is a lot to playing detective and research involved but I love it. My grandfather, father and uncles are all contractors and are custom builders for commercial and residential. My mother and father both held real estate licenses for 30 years so real estate runs in my blood, which may explain why I love doing it. As far as the properties, each one is unique in its own way. We have to pay special attention to flood zones, swamps, Mardi Gras parade routes, historically protected homes, and elevation here so it is probably very different from places outside of the Gulf Coast.
- MoJo: Tell me about NOLA.
- Lindsay: New Orleans, to know her is to love her. The city of mystery, magic, ghouls, spirits, love, laughter and fun all rolled into one. The history and structure of New Orleans is amazing by itself but when you add the people, there is no other city that can compare. There are so many cultures here everyone can find a place to fit in and it feels like home, no matter where you are from. Everyone, at least once in their lifetime, should experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans or one of the surrounding cities.
There are so many things I love about New Orleans but there are also things I wish would change. It is my wish that the economy in New Orleans would continue to pick up, with all the movie producers coming in and other businesses interested in relocating to New Orleans, more jobs are steadily becoming available. There have been some really positive changes happening around the Parish and surrounding areas giving people hope and uplifting spirits.
- MoJo: Since my novel is set in New Orleans, I’m researching a lot about the culture and events. Katrina is a big part of that. What can you tell me about hurricanes in NOLA?
- Lindsay: If you want to visit New Orleans, avoid hurricane season. Seriously, hurricanes are scary. If you are not prepared you are in more trouble than you know. When the water rises and the wind howls, it is like nothing you have ever experienced before. You feel the wrenching of your organs in your insides and your mind goes in to preparation mode before you even realize what is happening. We have been taught and trained for hurricanes since the day we are born on the Gulf Coast. All the elders make sure you know every story of “the big ones”, not to scare you but to make it a reality. There is nothing you can do to stop the water once it decides to come your way.
Every part of the country has its share of Mother Nature’s choice of wrath and as ironic as it sounds, I would prefer to face hurricanes over mudslides, earthquakes, blizzards or tornadoes. Not only because that is what I am used to but because we do have a little bit of warning and time for preparation. While a hurricane will cause mass destruction and devastation, at least we are given a chance to prepare and evacuate if necessary.
Everyone asks about hurricane Katrina and when I talk about it I feel grateful, grateful it was just material possessions that got washed away. Not everyone was as blessed and lost loved ones who, for whatever reason, could not or would not evacuate. I had six feet of water in my home, as did many people. While I cannot understand why people were looting televisions, I do understand people taking food and necessities that they needed to survive, heck, I even understand the guy who took a bucket Heineken beers. I came back home three weeks after Katrina and it was a mess, buildings were gone, trash was everywhere and the spirit of the people was broken. As always, New Orleans came back better than ever, the Saints even won the Super bowl and the city continues to build and thrive today.
- MoJo: If you couldn’t do pageants or sell real estate, what would you be doing?
- Lindsay: If I had to choose a job other than the ones I have, it would be in Public Relations. I love meeting new people and do not mind speaking in front of people; it would be a great fit for me.
- MoJo: Most people want to travel to NOLA but you live there. What places do you want to travel to?
- Lindsay: I am a Disney fan, my favorite character is Sleeping Beauty, and while I have been to Disney World a handful of times I have never made it to Disneyland! I would love to see Aurora’s Castle! I also want to see more of Europe. I was able to travel to various cities in Italy and I loved traveling abroad, and the Italians know how to have a good time. Niagara Falls and an Alaskan cruise also top my list of travel destinations.
Lindsay has continued to share her NOLA life with me. Her insider tidbits are essential to adding more meat to my story. She’s a great source of not just tourist information, but history as well. One of her favorite drinking holes is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, purported to be the original building (with a few upgrades).
We also talked about the myths and darker side of New Orleans. It’s filled with Rougarous and violent crimes. But as she says, “For the most part the crime is kept amongst those who are involved in ‘that life’.” Every city has its good and bad parts. New Orleans is just more colorful than most.
With the rich history of New Orleans, her strong family background, and her go-getter attitude, it’s no wonder Lindsay is ready to conquer the world . . . and already has, in part.
So are you ready for the flavors of New Orleans? Read on to the next post for my review and your chance to win.
In addition to working at a dental office and in real estate, Lindsay has several online shops. Check out her links:
On Facebook: Ms. New Orleans 2014
On ebay: Shopgirl05
Mail order invitations and stationary: Carlson Craft
In need of a great NOLA dentist? Lakeshore Family Dentistry
In need of a great NOLA realtor? Top Agent Realty
And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!
[All photos in this blog post are property of Lindsay Reine, used by permission, with the exception of “My NOLA Cookbook”, property of Molly Jo/New Inklings Press.]