How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better Than Starbucks!)

Fall, or, as it’s also known as, “Pumpkin Spice Latte Season”, is definitely upon us.  Don’t want to get out of your p.j.’s and head to Starbucks for this tasty beverage?  Here’s how to make one at home and save yourself the trip – and the $5.



Makes 2 drinks

What You Need

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form


  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
  3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  4. Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
  5. Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.


How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better Than Starbucks!) — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn | The Kitchn.

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Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014

star embed

The Pumpkin Spice dust hasn’t even settled, and already the mad scientists over at Starbucks HQ are ready to release another far-out concoction ripe for mass consumption (and joke-making).

The Chestnut Praline Latte will join its Christmas sweater-wearing cousins, the Gingerbread Latte and the Peppermint Mocha as Starbucks’ blood-warming army of three this holiday season.

The new drink will hit Starbucks outposts across the country on November 12. Despite having already tested the drink on selected markets last year, this marks the first time the coffee giant will debut a new bevvy nationwide in five years.

For those of you still scratching your heads as to what exactly makes a praline, here’s the math: It’s essentially a candy made from nuts and sugar syrup. Like most of Starbucks’ holiday-themed drinks, this one is not for the calorie-averse; a grande PSL (with whip) weighs in at 380 calories, so we’d bet the chestnut praline variety wont differ too much.

Does this mean that the CPL (too soon?) will achieve the same ubiquity as the PSL? Both Starbucks execs and professional Twitter wise alecks sure hope so. (USA Today)


Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014.

via Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014.


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Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014 | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen.

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Louisiana man performs ‘Dirty Dancing’ trick with alligators

An online video shows Lance Lacrosse, 29, of Marrero, dancing with the giant reptiles and even holding one above his head as in the classic 1987 film. Lacrosse said he has worked with alligators for 20 years and the worst injury he has had is a bite mark on his finger.

A shocking online video was taken of a man getting very close to alligators in the water and even using dance moves reminiscent of the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.”

The video shows local tour guide Lance Lacrosse, 29, of Marrero, getting very close to the giant reptiles, feeding them pieces of chicken and at one point allowing an alligator to snatch a marshmallow from his mouth.

He also playfully wrestles with the gators that seem calm during the entire performance. At one point, the beast is lifted over Lacrosse’s head -like the famous scene between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.


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Louisiana man performs ‘Dirty Dancing’ trick with alligators | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Captains, pilots, most unique jobs in Louisiana, website reports

Captains, mates and the pilots of water vessels are the jobs most unique to Louisiana, according to the website Mental Floss.

The results were determined using a formula that compares the percentage a particular job makes up in a state’s workforce compared to the percentage that job occupies in the nationwide workforce.

Captains and mates are 17 times more common in Louisiana than they are nationwide. In Mississippi coil winders, tapers and finishers are 11 times more prevalent. The most unique jobs in Texas are petroleum engineers and in Alabama tire builders.

See the full story here.

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Louisiana school performance scores released; steady progress reported

The Louisiana Department of Education released school report cards Tuesday summarizing and evaluating academic achievement for the 2013-2014 school year.

Each school report card includes information used to calculate school letter grades and provides parents and educators information on the performance of schools statewide.

Student achievement results announced in the summer showed steady progress with modest improvements. School report cards and letter grade ratings reflect these modest, steady gains.

According to the report, the percentage of students scoring “mastery” and above on grade 3-8 tests increased by 1 percent in English language arts and 2 percent in math to record high levels; graduation rates rose by 1.2 percentage points to 73.5 percent, a record high; 23,560 seniors earned college-going ACT scores, a state record; and 6,407 Louisiana students earned college credit by passing an Advanced Placement test, a state record. As a result, the number of schools earning a letter grade ratings of “A” increased by 54, resulting in 241 “A” schools in 2014 compared to 187 in 2013.

“School and school district report cards are tools that parents and educators can use to understand what is happening in their schools and what choices they can make in response,” said Superintendent White. “Student performance statewide was steady in 2014, and letter grade ratings reflect this. As the state transitions gradually to higher expectations, it will become more challenging for schools and districts to maintain high ratings.”
The overall performance letter grade was a B for Bossier schools and a C for Caddo schools.

Both districts received the same grade back in 2013. While the Bossier Parish School District’s overall performance score improved by just over 2 points, Caddo’s remained the same.

DeSoto Parish retained the B the district had in 2013, but their performance score rose 2.7 points to 92.0.

The Claiborne Parish School District stayed with a D, although the district’s performance score rose just over 6 points from 60.6 to 66.5.

The Natchitoches Parish School District dropped a few points on their overall performance score, but remained a C.

Webster Parish School District letter grade remained a C, the same they received in 2013. The district’s performance score rose just .20, to 83.0.

Sabine and Bienville Parish school districts were the only 2 in Northwest Louisiana to improve by a whole letter grade, with both going from a C to a B.

2014 State Performance Summary



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Bio-Hack: 5 Reasons Why Everyone is Suddenly Putting Butter In Their Coffee

Have you heard of “bulletproof coffee”?  It involves putting grass-fed butter in your coffee, and it’s becoming quite the new thing.  Check out this article on the health benefits of bullet-proof coffee, and why you should be drinking it, too.  Who knows, maybe it will become the next item added to the Starbuck’s menu.

photo (3)

There’s a new trend going around that may forever change the way you drink coffee. Instead of the usual cream and sugar, many people are now adding butter to their coffee and it’s just about the greatest thing ever.

To most people, putting butter in their coffee sounds skeptical if not borderline dangerous, but not all butters are bad for you. In this case, there is only one kind of butter you should put in your coffee: grass-fed butter. Kerrygold unsalted brand is probably the most common that you can find in stores. But why grass-fed butter?

Most cows are corn or soy fed. It’s cheap and filling, but cows aren’t actually meant to eat that- they can’t even digest it properly- and their milk produces the kinds of fats you don’t want in your body. Grass-fed cows on the other hand commonly produce the best milk and beef, and the butter made from those cows is just as good. Here are five reasons why you should be putting this kind of butter in your coffee (and just using it in general from now on):

1. Only grass-fed butter has the right fats that regulate cholesterol, not add to it. Grass-fed butter has the best ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (which reduces body fat) and is a good source of vitamin K, both of which according to a studies reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. It provides healthy fats for your brain and body to create cell walls (membranes) and hormones. The short-chain fatty acid Butyrate, once thought to be bad for you, has been linked to preventing neurodegenerative diseases, increased energy expenditure, and is also anti-inflammatory, further preventing heart disease.

3. Drinking it each morning puts your body in the routine to burn fat all day, helping you trim down overall. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), found in grass-fed butter, has been shown to reduce body fat mass especially in overweight individuals.

4. “Bulletproof” coffee will give you energy as well as increase cognitive function that you can literally feel when it kicks in for about six hours- and without the crash. Mixed with more healthy fats from coconut oil, this amped up drink will help produce ketones, which are created when your body creates energy from fat rather than carbohydrates.

5. Two tablespoons of butter in your coffee is all you need to replace a breakfast meal altogether, making this a quick alternative for people on the go. Providing your body with essential fats and calories is a higher performance blend than a carbohydrate source like oatmeal.

When you blend it with coffee, what you get is the most pleasantly creamy drink that you can actually feel energizing your body. But why stop there? If you are going to put the best butter in your coffee, you should have the best of everything. According to bio-hacker and entrepreneur Dave Asprey, who formulated this popular blend, the quality of your coffee beans can make a noticeable difference and adding MCT oil will absolutely boost your brain’s focus in the morning. If your coffee isn’t doing it for you anymore, this is one recipe you’ll want to try. Watch the video below to try it or check out Trainer Kim‘s great blog post on it.

Bio-Hack: 5 Reasons Why Everyone is Suddenly Putting Butter In Their Coffee | NextShark.

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▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping

Have you seen the latest in cake decorating?  It’s called “projection mapping” and Disney Weddings explains how it works.

via ▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping – YouTube.


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▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen.

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Gator hunting with a twist | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman

(Source: KPLC)

Gator hunting is a long-standing tradition in Louisiana. But one group put a unique twist to it.

It’s called the Fourth Annual Chute N Gators Fly-in and it attracts people from across the U.S.

They rise early, gathering for a day of gator hunting. But not in the way you might imagine.

They’re called powered parachutes and Lowell Henderson has been flying them for more than a decade.

“It pops up off the ground, inflates overhead, rolls forward and takes off,” explained Henderson, President of Bay Area Recreational Flyers.

About 150 feet off the ground, Lowell explains the birds in the sky keep an eye out for potential gators on the lines below.

“We help each other in flying and gator hunting,” said Henderson.

That’s where the boats come in.

Four years ago, Kelly Precht came up with the idea to combine his love for both flying and gator hunting – hence the name Chute N Gators Fly-in.

“We got people from Oklahoma, Missouri. They travel in and we all camp out and have a good time. I’m doing alligatoring anyway, so they come with me, and those who don’t, fly,” said Precht, founder of Chute N Gators Fly-in.

Lowell admits he’s not much of a gator hunter and prefers to be up in the sky.

“It’s a sightseeing tour for me,” said Lowell.

But fellow pilot Wayne Spring says he wanted to try something different.

“It was a perfect morning for flying but I opted to go in the boat so we could go out and get hands on experience with some of these gators,” said Spring.

His daughter Sarah got in on the action too.

Of course the whole point is to get some gators. And they did.

One after another, the group pulled in nine gators. The largest was seven feet in length.

But the event is more than just gator hunting, it’s also a chance for old friends to get together and campout for the weekend.

And for the event’s founder, Precht says, “it’s a childhood dream come true.”

The group doesn’t keep the gators. They sell them to a co-op who processes the meat and sells the hyde to a tannery.

For more information on B.A.R.F:

Additional information on Chute N Gators Fly-in:


Gator hunting with a twist – KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana.


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via Gator hunting with a twist – KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana.


Gator hunting with a twist | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents

Louisiana ranks #7 out of all U.S. states and the District of Columbia when it comes to giving parents fundamental power over their child’s education, according to the fifth edition of Parent Power Index (PPI), released by The Center for Education Reform (CER). While only six states earn rankings above 80 percent on PPI, Louisiana scores 79 percent, falling three spots from its previous #4 ranking.

Parent Power Index is a web-based report card that evaluates and ranks states based on qualitative and proven state education policies. The higher a state’s grade, the more parents are afforded access and information about learning options that can deliver successful educational outcomes for their children.

Louisiana has adopted parent empowerment measures of national significance in the last ten years that have helped reverse decades of decline. Thousands of children once stuck in failing schools now have access to the private schools of their choice, and a robust charter law serves students in need. However, having an independent charter school authorizer would help encourage growth. Digital learning opportunities are available across the state for Louisiana students, a dramatic change in teacher tenure and accountability for all schools has been enacted, and parents have ready access to information, driving a high Parent Power Index where once no measurable parent power existed.

“While it’s true some states have made progress, it’s not nearly enough to meet demand. Simply put, we need more learning options available to more families, and we need them fast,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform.

“Out of the over 54 million K-12 students nationwide, only an estimated 6.5 million students are taking advantage of charter schools, school choice programs such as vouchers or tax credits, and digital or blended learning models,” said Kerwin. ”With the United States’ school-aged population expected to grow at unprecedented rates in the next 15 years, how will our school system be able to meet demand when we already have wait lists for charter schools and oversubscribed scholarship programs?”

A median PPI score of 67.4 percent (Delaware) shows just how poorly most states have implemented policies surrounding charter schools, school choice, teacher quality, transparency, and online learning, the five main components that comprise state PPI scores. Mississippi, ranked 20, made the most progress, moving up 21 spots and breaking into the top 20 states after being in the bottom 11 states on previous analyses.

“While Louisiana is not one of the 36 states electing a new governor this fall, it’s crucial that current state leaders ensure enacting parent-empowering policies remains a top priority, as only 24 percent of Pelican State eighth graders are proficient in reading and 21 percent are proficient in math. America’s future depends on states’ ability to enact good policy to accelerate the pace of education reform and grow new and meaningful choices for parents.”

CER President Kara Kerwin and CER Executive Vice President Alison Consoletti Zgainer are available for comment on CER’s Parent Power Index. Members of the media should contact CER Communications Director Michelle Tigani at 301-986-8088 or to set up interviews.

The PPI education scorecard reveals state summary data, while full state-by-state details, including methodology, can be found at

This year’s Parent Power Index takes into account CER’s first-ever voucher and tax credit scholarship rankings and analysis, School Choice Today: Voucher Laws Across the States Ranking & Scorecard 2014 and School Choice Today: Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014.

via Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents – – KTVE NBC 10 – KARD FOX 14 – Your homepage for the latest News, Weather and Sports in the ArkLaMiss!.


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Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents | Arlen Benny Cenac – Education.

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Heart of Louisiana: History of Cajun culture


Acadians have been a large part of south Louisiana for more than two centuries. But some of their earliest history in the Bayou State has never been written.

Now, a team of researchers is trying to uncover the mystery and find the birthplace of Cajun culture.

Around 250 years ago, the very first Acadians to reach Louisiana made their way up Bayou Teche, a slow-moving waterway that snakes through southwest Louisiana. The 193 French-speaking Acadians were expelled from their homes in Nova Scotia by the British.

“We want to know how they survived, what they lived in. When they first got here, there was absolutely nothing that we know of,” said Al Broussard.

Broussard is the mayor of the small village of Loreauville, located on Bayou Teche. He has traced his ancestry directly to those very first settlers. He is a 9th generation descendant of leader Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and his brother Alexandre Broussard. But shortly after their arrival, 34 of the settlers, including Beausoleil, died of disease.

“You know, it would be so nice to know that my grandfather’s remains are somewhere on this property near the bayou and go there and kneel and pray and thank him for preserving us and letting us be who we are,” said Broussard.

But where those settlers lived, died and were buried is a mystery.

Researchers are confident that Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and his group of Acadians settled in the general area near the present-day town of Loreauville. But pinpointing the exact site of their homes and their graves is quite the challenge.

Students Maegan smith and Christian Sheumaker of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are searching along the edges of sugarcane fields and cemeteries within a stone’s throw of Bayou Teche.

“That can be kind of difficult, especially around the Teche where there’s a lot, a lot of stuff,” explained Smith. “Not necessarily what we’re looking for, not the specific time period.”

Clues can come in the tiny form of a piece of pottery.

Mark Rees, an archeological anthropologist at ULL, is leading the search.

“The very idea that they are buried in unmarked graves along the Teche somewhere at the first locations, the first settlements and that these places are still unmarked strikes a lot of people who are the descendants as sad, and as something that needs to be corrected,” explained Rees.

Rees believes that the popular Longfellow poem ‘Evangeline’ satisfied some people’s need to know where they came from. For generations, people have visited the Evangeline statue and oak tree in St. Martinville, which are linked to a fictional story of the Acadians’ arrival. Now, the focus is on artifacts and history.

“The priest who traveled with them in 1765 recorded at least 34, maybe as many as 44, burials of the Acadians who arrived here. He recorded the dates, and interestingly, the places and he named these places, the different camps,” said Rees.

The ‘camps’ and burials are believed to be within a four mile radius of Loreauville. Old burial plots are being scrutinized.

“This is, of course, called a Broussard cemetery of which there are many,” said Christian Sheumaker. “But the property owners do have information and paperwork declaring that there are up to six or seven children buried here.”

No one expects a quick discovery.

“I think this is at very minimum a 3-5 year effort to do a survey of this scope and to find the sites,” said Rees.

With each dig, sites are eliminated. Researchers hope each step moves them closer to finding the very spot where Cajun history began.

Additional links: 




Written by: Dave McNamara, Heart of Louisiana

Heart of Louisiana: History of Cajun culture – FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports.


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Study: Which brands people Google the most in Louisiana

Louisianans are a fiercely loyal bunch of people when it comes to their favorite brands. Do you love that chicken from Popeyes or Church’s? Do make groceries at Rouses or Winn-Dixie?

Point Blank, the official blog of financing company Direct Capital, analyzed which brand each state in the U.S. Googled the most.

The top brand searched on Google in Louisiana is telecommunications giant AT&T. Most states favored some of the biggest companies in the nation. Texas searched for Facebook. Arkansas sought out Walmart. Mississippi looked for Chevron.

“Digging deeper into our survey, the #2 favorite brand of each state offers a closer look at regional preferences,” the blog said.

For Louisiana, that was Domino’s Pizza. The third most searched brand might come as a surprise for people in the Pelican state. It is Aeropostale, a company that sells clothing for guys and girls. The company’s shops are usually located inside malls. They also offer online sales.

Direct Capital explained its methodology behind the study.

“We compiled our list of top brands by state using keyword search popularity from Google Trends. The Google Trends tool provides data for the history and volume of Google searches performed for branded terms, as well as the popularity of a branded searches across different cities and states in the US,” according to the blog. “The maps featured throughout this article were constructed by testing a base list of 200+ US brand names and their results in Google Trends. The states were assigned a ‘top’ brand for the brand that was most popular from our list in that region.”


Study: Which brands people Google the most in Louisiana – FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports.


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Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged Louisiana Vets via Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman

Honorably discharged, Louisiana resident veterans will have extra hunting dates on private lands during the 2014-15 Louisiana deer hunting season.

Legislative action initiated by Rep. Jeff Thompson (Dist. 8, Bossier City) during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal as Act 678, provides a special deer season for Louisiana residents who are honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. This season will run concurrently with the open Youth Season in all zones, and will be restricted to hunting on private lands.

“Louisiana has a long and rich tradition of those who serve our nation and protect our freedom. As the Sportsman’s Paradise, it is appropriate we show our appreciation with this special hunting season for these heroes,” said Thompson
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted in June the following dates for a special Resident Honorably Discharged Veterans Deer Season on private lands:

Areas 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9: Oct. 25-31

Area 2: Oct. 11-17

Areas 3, 7, 8, and 10: Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

This special deer season, which is available for youth (ages 17 and younger) and physically challenged hunters, precedes the opening weekend of regular firearms season.

The 2014-15 Louisiana Hunting Regulations booklet contains the complete listing of all deer season dates in the 10 designated deer areas in the state. To view the booklet on line, go to .


via Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged La. Vets | | Acadiana-Lafayette, Louisiana.


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Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged Louisiana Vets | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America via Benny Cenac – My Louisiana

Interesting video report showing the alarming effect coastal erosion will have on Louisiana.



The state of Louisiana is facing an environmental threat because of its unique geographical location and climate change. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana is drowning.

Within the next 50 years, most of the southeastern part of the state, not protected by levees, could be underwater. According to some projections, the southern part of Louisiana could be 1.3 meters underwater by the end of this century. The city of New Orleans could be 83 percent underwater.

The global economic impact could be enormous. This area is home to half of the country’s oil refineries, a major port that 31 states depend on, a gateway for international exports and where more than two million people live.

Global warming would likely only make the challenges more difficult. The state has an ambitious plan costing tens of billions of dollars to divert sentiment and restore marshlands.


Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America.

via Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America.


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Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America | Benny Cenac – My Louisiana.

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Louisiana Wildfowl Festival in Mandeville will feature carving contests, food, and fun

Cal Kingsmill and Gene Hebert at the Louisiana Wildfowl Festival


From primitive working decoys to decorative and collectibles, each piece is unique. The 37th annual Louisiana Wildfowl Festival will be held on Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Oct. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Castine Center in Pelican Park, located at 63350 Pelican Drive in Mandeville. The event is hosted by the nonprofit Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors Guild.

“Like last year, there will be hundreds of competitors from all over the U.S. and as far away as Canada, Oregon, Wisconsin and New York,” said Richard Reeves, who has served as guild president for seven years. “The Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors Guild started over 40 years ago to promote and preserve the unique decoy carving heritage of Southern Louisiana. Since then this organization has evolved to promote not only the carving heritage, but the conservation of Louisiana wetlands and its wildlife. We also promote art programs with schools and Boy Scout troops.”

Hundreds of carvers will compete for more than $40,000 in prize money. Categories include decoys, fish, interpretive art, caricatures and wildlife. New categories include adult wildfowl fine art and photography, a Boy Scouts carving competition and a wildfowl fine art category for school children. There also is a category dedicated to Louisiana antique carvings. Cash awards, trophies and ribbons will be given in every category of competition. Cash donations also will be given to school art programs, Boy Scout troops and to the Audubon Zoo Wildlife rehabilitation programs.

On Oct. 4 (Saturday) at 11 a.m., Audubon Zoo will present a showing of owls and other birds of prey. Boy Scouts will compete in a carving competition at noon. All supplies except knives will be provided free of charge. Awards will be given on Oct. 5 at noon. Prize money will be given to winning competitors and to each troop.

Other features of the festival on Oct. 5 include an auction from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will showcase hand-carved wildfowl pieces, some carved by World Champion Master Carvers, along with paintings by professional artists. A carving demonstration will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., along with a decoy painting contest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a head whittling contest from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The festival also will have vendors with a variety of wildfowl art, antique decoys, wooden miniature carved boats, bird carvings, hand-carved pins and more available for purchase, as well as art and carving supplies. There will be plenty of opportunities for enthusiasts to share information about types of wood, paint, tools and techniques.

Festival food will include seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, shrimp pasta, hot dogs and chili, hamburgers and more. Sports fans do not need to worry about missing the game, because the LSU vs. Auburn game and Saints vs. Buccaneers game will be broadcast on a big-screen television.

This year’s LWCCG Wildfowl Festival will honor Joan Bonner, 2013 member of the year.

Admission to the festival will be $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 6-12. If you mention this article, the entrance fee will be $3 per adult.

Those wishing to join the Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors Guild to help preserve the tradition of carving, can join for $30. The yearly membership includes two free admissions to all guild events, including the festival, as well as a free yearly banquet, a monthly newsletter and free carving advice, if needed. Membership meetings are held the last Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of Piccadilly Cafeteria, located at 2222 Clearview Pkwy. in Metairie.

For information, call Reeves at 985.892.2215, or visit the website at



Louisiana Wildfowl Festival in Mandeville will feature carving contests, food, and fun |

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Louisiana Wildfowl Festival in Mandeville will feature carving contests, food, and fun | | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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8 things you need to know about Jump Start and Louisiana’s career diploma | Arlen Benny Cenac – Education

Louisiana Education Superintendent John White is making the rounds talking up the new Jump Start high school initiative and revamped career diploma for vocational-technical instruction. He says it’s time to “restore the dignity” of career education and to recognize 4-year college isn’t the only path to the middle class.

Here are some key points about the new policies. Further questions? Tell us in the comments section of this article, and we’ll try to get the answers.

1. Career diploma now more demanding; you must participate in Jump Start to earn one.

Almost no one graduated with Louisiana’s old career diploma – 1 percent, according to the Education Department. And students could, if they wanted, graduate with low-paying training in customer service and Microsoft Office. But employers in booming fields want to see graduates who are, for instance, certified as welders by the American Welding Society.

The new diploma requires 9 Jump Start units: a sequence of vocational classes and workplace experiences in a high-demand industry, that earns a recognized credential or certification. Students must also earn 4 units each of English and mathematics and 2 units each of science, social studies and health/physical education, including certain prescribed classes. There is no foreign language requirement. Instead of taking the ordinary ACT, they may take the ACT WorkKeys job-skills assessment.

The career diploma is open to all 2014-15 freshmen. Students in upper grades may choose to earn either the old career diploma or the new one.

2. Jump Start not the same as “dual enrollment.”

“Dual enrollment” means only that high school students take some college courses, for college credit. It could be any course — a foreign language not offered at the high school, for example – and it need not result in a certification or lead to a degree.

However, dual enrollment is one way students may fulfill their Jump Start requirements. In many cases, high schools are sending Jump Start students to local community colleges, such as Delgado’s welding certificate program.

Jump Start classes may also take place at the high school or in industry apprenticeship or training program.

3. Jump Start not available everywhere.

Schools need not “opt in” to the career diploma; it’s automatic. But that key Jump Start component is not yet available statewide. There are 11 Jump Start teams in 2014-15, covering about 50 of the state’s 70 public school systems. They include all of the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.

  • Gulf River Parishes team: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist Parish school systems.
  • Greater New Orleans team: Orleans Parish School Board schools and New Orleans’ state-authorized charter schools.
  • Capitol team: 11 Baton Rouge-area systems
  • Northshore team: Includes St. Tammany Parish.

The Orleans Parish School Board and St. John the Baptist systems are participating in two teams each.

4. Authorized career areas are different in different parts of state.

The goal of Jump Start is to improve local communities by graduating students who can get good jobs in their hometown industries. Some parts of the state have a lot of oil-and-gas jobs; some have film jobs. For that reason, regional teams set the career areas for their local Jump Start participants. These teams are partnerships between K-12, higher education and business.

5. Students won’t be rigidly “tracked” into vo-tech.

Until this year, students had to decide upon entering high school whether to pursue the career diploma, and it was difficult to switch between tracks. Now students need not make the decision until the end of 10th grade, and they may switch after that. State officials and schools are discussing the need for more career counseling to help students make the right decision.

Graduates may also complete both sets of requirements. Several New Orleans students said in the winter they pictured themselves working in a trade while earning a 4-year degree.

6. High schools aren’t penalized for career graduates.

High schools are rewarded in the state letter grade system for successful career graduates just as they are for graduates with college-preparatory diplomas. The school earns more points for students who earn an advanced Jump Start credential, not just a basic one. An ACT WorkKeys score is treated the same as an ordinary ACT score.

7. There is some money for this.

Nine of the 11 Jump Start teams split $450,000 in state grants. A second, $845,000 round of grants is now open. Applications will be judged in October.

In addition, the state doubled the amount of extra money it gives high schools for resource-intensive classes such as welding. Some of the vocational-training programs are being offered through the state’s Supplemental Course Academy, formerly called Course Choice, and schools are given money for them as well.

8. Some New Orleans public high schools still offer vo-tech training.

Booker T. Washington’s cobbler program is a thing of the past (as is the school itself), but vocational-technical education continues at some schools. Landry-Walker High in Algiers offers cosmetology, nursing and welding and process technology. Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High in Treme has a new vo-tech program, NOLA Tech, that’s enrolling about 60 students this year, Clark officials said. The alternative school Crescent Leadership Academy is expanding its vocational options. 

Lagniappe: The college-prep diploma changed as well.

Thanks to a 2013 law, the requirements to earn a college-preparatory high school diploma now line up exactly with what Louisiana colleges require for TOPS money. To earn a TOPS University Diploma, students must take four years each in English, math, science and social studies, including certain prescribed courses; two years in a foreign language and health and physical education; one year in the arts; and three electives.


8 things you need to know about Jump Start and Louisiana’s career diploma |

via 8 things you need to know about Jump Start and Louisiana’s career diploma.


By Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune


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5 Best Restaurants in New Orleans | The Daily Meal

Best Restaurants in New Orleans

There are few cities that are as renowned for their food as New Orleans, Louisiana. The Crescent City has a food culture all its own; insanely delicious po’ boys, hushpuppies, and other specialties that put it on the map beckon around every corner. From French Quarter institutions to restaurants further afield, we’ve rounded up the 5 best restaurants in the city.

To assemble our ranking, we  started by compiling the New Orleans restaurants that were included in our own rankings of the 101 Best Restaurants in America and the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in America, and rounded the list out with pre-existing rankings in both print and online from leading culinary authorities. We then scored each restaurant on food quality, level of renown, service, atmosphere, and overall experience.

#5 Cochon
A serious cult favorite since it opened in 2006, Cochon is the domain of pork-loving chef Donald Link, proprietor of the popular Herbsaint and winner of a James Beard Award for his Real Cajun cookbook. Inspired by Cajun and Creole culinary traditions of his grandparents, Link serves dishes like “fisherman’s style” oven-roasted gulf fish, catfish courtbouillon, smoked pork ribs with watermelon pickle, rabbit and dumplings, and the namesake cochon: slow-roasted Louisiana pig with turnips, cabbage, and cracklins.

#4 Peche Seafood Grill
Peche demonstrates that chef Donald Link can glorify fish just as well as he does pork. Named one of Bon Appétit’s Top 50 New Restaurants in 2013 and the home of James Beard Award winner for Best Chef South, Ryan Prewitt, the restaurant is centered around a coal-burning open hearth. The daily whole grilled fish — no matter what it is — is always a smart choice, but the traditional classics, like smothered catfish, shrimp and corn bisque, and the seafood platter certainly shouldn’t get overlooked.

#3 August
John Besh is one of the most interesting and ambitious chefs in the Crescent City today. The American menu at this splendid eatery shows his love for, and understanding of, French, Italian, and high-level American cuisine; much of it interpreted with a New Orleans lilt. His dishes also always incorporate the finest local food that the Gulf has to offer; for example, his roasted Gulf dorado with house cured lardo, crisp farro, and Swiss chard, or his Chappapeela Farms tête de cochon with crispy pig tail and house pickles.

#2 Galatoire’s
A Bourbon Street landmark, Galatoire’s has been serving classic Creole, New Orleans-style cuisine for many generations. The immense menu has changed little over the past century-plus and is full of things like turtle soup au sherry, oysters en brochette, seafood okra gumbo, a variety of seasonal fish and shellfish, chicken Clemenceau, and black bottom pecan pie for dessert. Anyone can get good cooking here, but go with a regular if you can; that way you’ll be guaranteed good service (regulars have their “own” waiters) and maybe a taste of something not on the menu.

#1 Commander’s Palace
A slice of New Orleans dining history — it opened in 1880 — this culinary landmark has long been collecting accolades for everything from its service, to its wine list and its “haute Creole” cuisine. Two of its alumni, it might be noted, are Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, but with chef Tory McPhail at the ovens for over a decade, Commander’s Palace is still going strong. Come hungry and ready for such dishes as the foie gras and candied pecan beignet with foie gras infused café au lait or satsuma and Grand Marnier-lacquered quail with bacon-braised Vidalia onions.


5 Best Restaurants in New Orleans | The Daily Meal.

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Apple – Introducing iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Are you getting the new iPhone 6?




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See which 6 Louisiana high schools made Newsweek’s national best list

Six Louisiana high schools are among the best public high schools in the United States, according to Newsweek. Four of them are in the New Orleans area:

  • Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, which ranked 63rd on Newsweek’s list of 500 schools honored for overall excellence. Franklin is a selective charter school.
  • Thomas Jefferson High School in Gretna, which ranked 152nd in overall excellence and 42nd on a separate list of 500 high-performing schools with significant low-income student populations. Thomas Jefferson is a selective magnet school.
  • Early College Academy in Lafayette, which ranked 239th on the overall excellence list and 110th on the list honoring schools with low-income students. Its students earn college credits while in high school. They must pass a test to get in.
  • West St. John High School in Edgard, a conventional public high school that ranked 50th on the list honoring schools with low-income students.
  • Sicily Island High School, which ranked 378th on the low-income list. It is also conventional high school.
  • Lake Area High School in New Orleans, which ranked 399th on the low-income list. Lake Area is an open-admissions charter.

It’s the third time in recent months that national publications have honored the state’s high schools. U.S. News and World Report and the The Daily Beast website also recently announced top scorers. Thomas Jefferson and others were featured on those lists.

These rankings do not include private schools. And their methodology matters, as each news outlet emphasizes different aspects of perceived excellence. To recognize overall excellence, Newsweek and the research organization Westat first segregated each state’s schools that performed in the 80th percentile on state assessments. To recognize high-performing, high-poverty schools — a new measure used in this year’s rankings — it first looked at schools where performance exceeded that of their state’s average significantly.

Then, for those schools, analysts crafted college readiness scores based on graduation rates, test scores, counselor-to-student ratios and other factors. Finally, they ordered schools either by their index scores or, for a high-performing, high-poverty school, by how well the schools performed when compared to an average.

Franklin High principal Timothy Rusnak said the results are encouraging, but added: “Quite frankly, we’re not going to be happy until we’re No. 1,” he said. “We believe we are the best high school in the country.”

Further, because methodologies differ, it’s hard to gauge Franklin’s performance by these metrics, he said. And he disputed the latest calculation of his school’s graduation rate; Newsweek lists Franklin’s “rate” at a mere 48.1 percent, but researchers say this is a percentile that weighs Franklin’s actual rate against that of other schools in the list.

Jefferson Parish schools Superintendent James Meza Jr. congratulated Thomas Jefferson High. “It is an honor for the efforts of our students, teachers and school community,” he said. “The high rankings demonstrate the district’s focus on the academic success of all our students regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.”

This is the first time that West St. John has been featured in Newsweek’s rankings. Quentina Timoll, the St. John the Baptist Parish schools system’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, said West St. John is seeing academic gains this year after its principal, Erica Merrick, instituted professional development communities for teachers, among other moves.

Further, Timoll said, “The community is very much involved with that school.” At a recent open house, parents spent the day with students rather than the typical few hours, she said — another initiative by Merrick.

See Newsweek’s full list.

via See which 6 Louisiana high schools made Newsweek’s national

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Program aims to bring fresh, seasonal produce into Louisiana schools

Growing interest in making fresher, more healthful food available in Louisiana communities has led the LSU AgCenter to implement the Louisiana Harvest of the Month pilot program in some Louisiana schools.

Dufrocq Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Andrew H. Wilson Charter School in New Orleans and North Bayou Rapides Elementary School in Alexandria will participate in the program.

Program director for Harvest of the Month Ann Savage said Harvest of the Month is designed to deliver fresh-from-the-farm specialty-crop fruits and vegetables one day each month to each school.

The program is being developed this fall and will be implemented starting in Jan. 2015 by the LSU AgCenter in partnership with The Louisiana Farm to School Network, Fresh Beginnings, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, Slow Food Baton Rouge and other community partners.

The program is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Grant Fund coordinated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Savage said currently, childhood obesity is at its highest rate and in Louisiana, 40 percent of youth are overweight or obese.

Savage said, “Innovative programs like Harvest of the Month aim to connect kids with food and where it comes from. There is no question that the areas where children live, learn and play can have a real impact on their eating habits.”

The program will promote Louisiana’s horticultural diversity and long growing season by highlighting a different, in-season, local fruit or vegetable each month.

Savage said, “We are excited to have the opportunity to pilot the Louisiana Harvest of the Month Program so that we can use this program to create a model for the purchase of local produce and serving it in schools.  By starting on a small scale we hope to develop protocols and recommendations for schools statewide and demonstrate it is possible and adaptable to schools around our Louisiana.”

Savage added in 2012, the National School Lunch Program served 92 million lunches to Louisiana students. If we could buy just a fraction of this food locally, it could be a huge boost for the local economy.

Throughout the year this program will extend from the classroom to the cafeteria to the home and community, promoting healthier habits and futures for Louisiana students.

The pilot program will affect nearly 2,000 students and their families during its first year, Savage said. It will allow students to learn about the various nutritional benefits, history, fun facts and botanical and growing information of fruits and vegetables through educational materials for all involved.

Director of the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University Carolyn Johnson said, “Given that children spend the majority of their day at school, school meals and snacks have a significant impact on youth’s diets. The Louisiana Harvest of the Month statewide program for fruits and vegetables will allow the LSU AgCenter to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and educate youth about the origin of food.”

Louisiana state lead for the National Farm to School Network Katie Mularz said, “The program is a win for everyone – kids win because they are gaining access to nutritious, high-quality, local food while learning the origin of their food; farmers win because they are gaining access to a new institutional market; communities win by reducing carbon footprints of food transportation while stimulating the local economy with local purchases.”

According to Savage a successful farm to school program has three components,  local and regional procurement, education and gardening.

Savage said, “The Harvest of the Month program will work in its pilot stage to target the first two components in a way that provides a sustainable model for continued support when funding ends. We hope in the future we can target the third component of gardening while also taking the model we have created and providing the program to more schools throughout the state.”


Program aims to bring fresh, seasonal produce into Louisiana schools –

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You Probably Never Thought About Food This Way Before

Here’s some food for thought…

Food is pretty great when you think about it. (Although, you probably shouldn’t think about it non-stop like I do.) Luckily, the Internet has been thinking of food since its inception and has you covered. Here are some hilarious and surprisingly philosophical thoughts about food from around the Internet.

How did I never think of any of these?


1.) If you were illiterate, alphabet soup would just be noodles.

2.) Technically, it’s impossible to skip breakfast since the first time you eat during a day is when you ‘break your fast.’

3.) Smoothies are just cold fruit soup.


4.) Chocolate is a type of milk, but milk is also a type of chocolate.


5.) When you cut up your food before you eat it, it’s like your mouth is outsourcing the work of chewing to your hands.


6.) If a 99 pound girl eats 1 pound of nachos, she is 1% nacho.


7.) If I touch my phone in the right places a pizza will show up at my front door.


8.) Beef jerky is like a meat raisin.


9.) If you turn a taco sideways it’s just a sandwich.


10.) Soup is just food flavored tea.


11.) When you toast bread, you get toast. But when you toast french bread, you don’t get french toast.


12.) Rice is great when you’re hungry and you want 2,000 of something.


13.) Everything is or isn’t ice cream.


14.) A lot of people probably died before we figured out which foods we can and cannot eat.

15.) A spoon is a small bowl on a stick used to eat from a larger bowl.


16.) Menus should include prep times so you can order based on how much time you have to eat.


17.) Fettuccini alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults.


18.) We eat pizza from the inside out.


19.) Toasters are like tanning beds for bread.


20.) When you go food shopping you’re buying supplies for this week’s poops.


21.) Everything we eat is processed sunshine.


Pretty incredible, right? Most of my thoughts about food pretty much just come down to “can I have more of it?” so this was a welcome change. Maybe in addition to praying at the dinner table we should read some of these quotes from these brave food philosophers.


You Probably Never Thought About Food This Way Before..

via You Probably Never Thought About Food This Way Before.


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