Five years ago today I found what would become Bedford Manor. For over a year I’ve been writing NOLA, my murder mystery set in New Orleans.This week an article I wrote for my Writers Club was solicited to be featured in a larger, Southern California-wide publication. This morning, The Unemployment Cookbook was released for Kindle at Amazon. And tonight, one of my favorite shows, NCIS, has a spin-off series debut with NCIS: New Orleans.

Naturally, I have to celebrate.

Mardi Gras at Bedford Manor

Mardi Gras at Bedford Manor

With the great food that Zatarain’s sent me a few weeks ago (look for the product review post in a few days), I declared September 23 the official “NOLA Day” at Bedford Manor.

The local Dollar Tree had all I needed for decorations, including the requisite beads and masks. I was delighted to find that although Mardi Gras is half a year away, people choose to celebrate it often enough that supplies are always available.

Mardi Gras Decor

Mardi Gras Decor

The menu was planned around my Zatarian’s Care Package and Ms. New Orleans 2014 Cookbook:

Mayonnaise Biscuits

Garden Vegetable Brown Rice

Jambalaya Brown Rice with Garlic and Herb Shrimp

Blackened Salmon

Sweet Tea

Hurricane Mocktail

Easy King Cake

After spending a few hours in the kitchen, it was fun to sit and enjoy good food with good company. The lagniappe (“lan-yap”, meaning “that little something extra”) is my Pandora station built around “St. James Infirmary” by Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Bedford Manor is five years old, and oh! the changes we’ve made! Paint and repaint, repair, clean, and clear. Add, subtract, embellish and all the wonderfulness that goes with being a home owner.

Paint and Repaint

Paint and Repaint – Ceramic Beige

We’ve been through a lot, Bedford Manor and I. At times, I thought of selling. I couldn’t do the maintenance. I couldn’t afford the bills. But I always went to bed with a roof over my head, and when I’m anxious, coming through these doors makes things better. When I’m sick, it’s these walls that comfort me. These appliances that I cook on. This place that I write about. This is where the cats live and love.

Where else in the world could an off-shore hurricane over a hundred miles away bring me a great writing atmosphere?

Under the Influence of Hurricane Norbert

Under the Influence of Hurricane Norbert

And of course, this is where my office is.

Desk and chair set with old typewriter

My “new” workspace ~ a real desk!

I realized a few months ago the mantra my now-defunct relationship taught me is applicable to every aspect of my life.

Don't Leave. Period.

Don’t Leave. Period.

Staying is more than feeling like it. Staying is a commitment to doing the right thing. So no matter what struggles I have, I know I’m blessed with a big house and a small mortgage. When I need help, it’s here. Want to know something funny? It took me almost five years to fully commit to staying. To not find a reason to pack up, leave, walk away. It’s not that I have a propensity for instability. But prior to buying a house, life was full of uncertainties. Since I made the mental commitment to stay, no matter what, I’ve been more comfortable. I’ve met more neighbors. I’ve enjoyed more company.

I like my life.

Now that’s worth celebrating, isn’t it?

Celebrate with King Cake

Celebrate with King Cake

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
My Interview with Ms. New Orleans 2014, Lindsay Reine
It’s Complicated, Part One: My Relationship
How Bedford Manor Got Its Name

#DoingTheWriteThing Recap: August 24, 2014
Sweeten my tea and share: