The first order of business was to get Mom's Christmas tree up. My sister and I bought a little tree on sale last year, knowing that Mom would want something that wouldn't take up much space. Sis and I got the tree up and decorated in no time. It was so much fun looking through all of the homemade ornaments she has kept from when we were little. Mom was feeling uncharacteristically festive after that, so she had Chuck decorate the front porch with lights! We're pretty sure it's the first time she's ever had outside lights. It looked so cute.
I spent a couple of days helping Mom get some things organized. She won't be happy that I'm telling you this, but she has a "junk room." We got it all nice and organized for her a few years ago but there's a part of the room where things tend to pile up. Let's face it, who doesn't have a place (or two) in their house like that? Anyway, I helped her straighten it up and then I worked on some other projects she had, like putting loose photos in albums and getting her Christmas cards addressed. We were feeling so productive!
You may remember that I had planned to go to the movies and get some reading done while I was away. I started reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, but I limited my reading so it wouldn't interfere with family time. I'm only about 150 pages into the book.
We actually took in two movies last week. I finally saw Twilight! My family was so excited to see it, but we felt like it didn't live up to the books. I didn't feel like it was a total flop but I found some of the dialogue to be cheesy. I've heard that watching it a second time (after the hype has worn off) is much better. Later in the week I went with my mom, sister, and brother to see Australia, which I thought was great. It's a long movie but you really don't notice so much. The plot, history, scenery, and acting were all good. (Hugh Jackman=great!)
If I had to sum up the whole week in a word besides family I'd have to pick food! Oh boy, you just can't beat good ol' Louisiana food. I love Cajun cooking and I love rice and gravy! I think I had rice at least 5 days while I was there. We ate a lot of rice when I was growing up and it's still a favorite of mine. Mom cooked chicken and okra gumbo, which is one of my most favorite things to eat in the world!
Now, usually when I go home for a visit it's on the weekend. I've been hearing my mom and sister talk about the plate lunches at a little diner in Mom's neighboring town for months and months and I couldn't wait to try it for myself. I took advantage of being there during the week and Mom and I picked up lunch from there 3 days in a row! It was unbelievable. My favorite was the round steak, rice and gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
Ok, one more thing about food. (Is anybody else hungry?) Please promise me that if you ever find yourself passing through Louisiana along Interstate 10, that you'll stop and eat at Steamboat Bill's in Lake Charles. I absolutely love to eat there. The best thing on the menu in my opinion is the crawfish etouffee. I rarely order that in any restaurant because it's just never as good as my dad's, but Steamboat Bill's has the right stuff. I love to get a crawfish pistolette as an appetizer (a pistolette is a fried roll - they stuff it with etouffee and it is divine). During this trip I was in the mood for fried shrimp, but I had no regrets because I ordered a cup of crawfish etouffee on the side! My mom and sis seem to think that the shrimp etouffee is even better. I snapped a pic of sis's bowl to show you how scrumptious it looks. Man, is my stomach growling now.
At the end of the week we made a trip over to Mom's hometown to visit my grandmother. My grandma is a pretty unpleasant lady, but her sister is one of the sweetest people on the planet (you can see a pic of her on an older post here). We had a good visit with them, and I kept them talking about what it was like when they were little. I absolutely love hearing old family stories.
Another special thing about the week was celebrating my nephew's 6th birthday. He wanted a Scooby Doo party this year. Isn't it funny that kids still like Scooby Doo? We always have a party for him at Thanksgiving (and this year was no different) but I never get to see him for his actual birthday of December 3rd. We met up with them for dinner at a restaurant after school and it was great to be able to share his big day with him. It's hard to believe that it's been six years ago that I watched him come into the world.
It was great to be away but it's great to come back to my husband and my home (AND my computer! I missed all of you!). I'm sure my brother is glad to have his bed back too, after bunking on the sofa bed all week.
This has been long and rambling, but I just love Louisiana and I love all the lagniappe that goes along with going "home."