Friday, March 24, 2017

LBJ PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY/TEXAS STATE CAPITOL

After leaving New Orleans, we headed to Austin, Texas. We had originally planned to stay in the Houston/Galveston area for a few days. I say originally because when we couldn't find a place to stay, we discovered it was Spring Break in Texas. Hearing that was enough for us to decide we would just go on to Austin. Finding higher hotel rates in Austin than publicized, we discovered Austin was hosting a film, music, and comedy festival called SXSW ("South by Southwest). We did manage to find a hotel to stay that was reasonable once they gave us a discount we qualified for. We were told parking would be atrocious downtown because of the festival, but the only problem we found was traveling on I-35 through town. It was like a parking lot. We soon discovered side streets to take to avoid it so it wasn't too bad.

The first place we went was to the presidential library of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It is located on the campus of the University of Texas and only a mile from the state capitol and a few more museums. Parking was not a problem there and it was free.



This was my 6th or 7th presidential library to tour. As always I leave amazed and overwhelmed at the accomplishments of the president. 

President Johnson, became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He served from 1963 - 1969. He refused to run for another term and retired to his ranch in Texas. With President Johnson, unfortunately, our involvement in the Vietnam War overshadowed all of his great accomplishments. I took a few pictures of some of these as displayed in the library.









This is a smaller scale version of the Oval Office while he was president.




The view of Austin from the top floor of the library  with the U of T football stadium on the right.



His limousine...



As I said it was only 1 mile to the Capitol, so we decided to just leave the car parked in the parking lot by the library and walk.



Not so far....and we are there at the North entrance....



The Texas Capitol is the largest capitol building in the country. It doesn't necessarily look like it but once you get inside you learn how they dug down 4 stories and have offices located there. The two small buildings on the right are actually elevators that will take you down there and by-pass the main building. On the other side of the street you can see some shrubbery and a wall. There are skylights to below at the shrubbery and it is actually opened to below at the wall. There are two "buildings" on the other side (you can see the edge of one of them on the left side of the picture) that also house elevators.

Even though you can enter the building on each side, we walked around to the other side (the South side) and what is called the main entrance. We only had to wait a few minutes for a tour to start. Unfortunately (because it was Spring break) there were lots of people visiting the capitol that day and our tour group was so big that I missed out on most of what our docent had to tell us. 

Here are a few pictures inside the capitol....


Looking up in the dome
On the floor below the dome

The House of Representatives....






The Senate....




From the gallery

One more look at the floor 



Walking back to the car, we passed the Bullock Museum. We would have toured it, but it was going to close in an hour, so we decided we would wait and do it the next day. (Our plans got changed though and we didn't make it back. I think it would have been a good museum and we would have learned a lot.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

THE FRENCH QUARTERS OF NEW ORLEANS

A few weeks ago my husband and I sat off on a combined trip to see family and friends and do some sight-seeing also. My extended family was first on the route and after that it was sorta my husband's trip. (That's what I told him, anyway.) I basically left it up to him to plan the trip after we left my extended family in Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana. I must admit this was a new experience for me. While he has input when we generally travel, I probably do most of the planning (what we are going to see and do once we get there). I usually make the plane reservations if we are flying and also the accommodations. He does make the rental car arrangements. The one time I did reserve a car, we ended up cancelling it and he got us cheaper rates. Since this was a road trip and I drove some, I generally was the navigator. We settled into those "roles" when we first got married and I think he likes it that way.

After spending the first few days with my extended family, we headed to New Orleans to visit with his cousin and wife, Jim and Alice. It has probably been at least 10 years since we last saw them. Then they were living in Orlando. Now they are in NOLA though. The last time we were there was several years ago when we took a cruise out of there. Jim is retired but Alice is the Director of Religious Education at the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Since she is over all of the Catholic schools in the area, she really knows her way around. She made our plans for the days we went downtown and what a fun day it was. 

I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I took.

Here comes our street car/trolley.

I love the architecture of New Orleans and took several pictures of different buildings.
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Could still see some evidence of  Mardi Gras


Lots of things going on at Jackson Square...



Can't pass up taking pictures of pretty flowers....


One last picture of the busy-ness of Jackson Square.

Across the street from Jackson Square, is the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France. It is one of the oldest churches in the country. You can read about it and its history (plus see more picturesHERE.







Everyone going to NOLA must partake of Cafe du Monde's beignets ("ben-yays"). It was on Alice's list of stops but the line was soooooo long, we would probably still be in it today. At the awning, the line turns and runs down the end of the building and then turns left and runs down the side of the building sorta on the inside the length of the building. Most of the building is seating.


(We did partake at one of their other locations in the area the next day. They were so good. They were our lunch. You get three in an order. After the four of us finished, their was one left. Well, only for a short time. Right after I took the picture, my husband decided he would eat it. We bought a box mix that I plan to make. Also bought a cookbook with a recipe in it that I plan to try and will share with you.)

At the entrance to the French Market...



This was fun to see. While we were in Jackson Square, we saw two different wedding parties wondering around to take pictures. Later we met one of them after the ceremony parading down the street followed by a band. Even the wedding guests were included. Alice said it is called a "Second Line" and is very popular in New Orleans.

We didn't eat here, but this is the Famous Historical Restaurant, The Court of Two Sisters. You can read more about it HERE.

There was so much more I could have photographed, but then this would have been a really lllllooooonnnnnnggggg post.  Not wanting to "wear out the welcome mat", after three days it was time to head to Texas and our next stop. (But that is for another post.)

Until next time....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

COCONUT-PECAN/CREAM OF COCONUT CAKE

We missed the Tasty Bunch gathering this month hosted by Friends Carol and Keith because we were out of town. While the rest of the group was enjoying dinner and then dessert at Carol and Keith's house, my husband and I were walking down Bourbon Street with his cousin Jim and his wife Alice. We hated to miss the fun, but we were having a lot of fun in New Orleans.

I asked Carol to take a picture of her dessert and send me the recipe and being such a good friend, she did. It sounds so delicious.


Coconut-Pecan/Cream of Coconut Cake

1       yellow cake mix + ingredients to make cake following box directions
1       can coconut-pecan frosting
1       14 - oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1       14 - oz can of cream of coconut
Whipped topping and flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the cake mix following the directions on the box. 

Add the can of coconut pecan frosting to the cake batter and mix until well blended.

Spray a 9 x 13 - inch cake pan and pour in batter.

Bake for 45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake.

Poke holes in the cooked cake with a utility fork.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut in a bowl and pour over cake.

Serve with a dollop of whipped topping and sprinkle flaked coconut over top.

Carol said she found the cream of coconut in the liquor department. She said you could also use coconut milk, but she felt the sauce would be a lot thinner. She also used only half of the sauce to pour over the hot cake. She other half she used to pour over Butter Pecan Ice Cream that she served with the cake. Then she sprinkled some chopped pecans over the sauce.

Sounds so yummy.