Skip to main content


Tales of the Traveling Tote: September 2023

Friday, September 1, 2023


Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  Welcome to another edition of Tales of the Traveling Tote!

If you'd like to learn more about these posts and our group, please click on THIS LINK.  La Countess de Monet and I have been super-busy this summer traveling back and forth to Lake Martin and Louisiana for events.  In today's post I will feature our trip to New Orleans for a very special group birthday party: Mr. Bookish and a few of his childhood friends had a birthday party at Commander's Palace.  We also had fun visiting a few of our favorite haunts as well during our trip to his hometown.

We spent one afternoon at the New Orleans Museum of Art gazing at their permanent collection.  This field trip deserves its own post, and I plan to write it soon.

Wayne Thiebaud
Salmon Rose, 1966
Oil on canvas

Close-up of a beaded costume on the Grand Staircase.

La Countess felt special because she got a sticker!

Mr. Bookish also took me shopping.  We went to three shops: the Tasc Store,  Aux Belles Choses, and Octavia Books.  Tasc sells the most comfortable active wear in the world.  Most of their clothing is made from sustainable bamboo.  I love their yoga pants, and I purchased several pairs of them and coordinating tops for summer and winter.  Although we're fortunate to have a Tasc store here in Birmingham, it's still fun to shop at their original store in New Orleans.  Aux Belles Choses lives up to its name because the shop offers the most beautiful French and English treasures for home and garden.  Their vintage linens are stunning, and I always purchase French soaps to bring home.  Octavia Books is one of my favorite indie bookstores, and the sweet booksellers there never disappoint.  I purchased a book for myself and a few cute bookish things for our daughters.

Octavia Books is on the upper left, and Aux Belles Choses is on the upper right.
We started our day at District Donuts (bottom).  
La Countess met a friend there.  Check out the first graphic in this post at the top of the page.  She loves making new friends! 

Not only does Aux Belles Choses sell beautiful things for the Anglophile and Francophile in your life, they also sell pretty Mardi Gras gifts and decor all year.  I love their king cake and Mardi Gras float porcelain boxes:  They make the cutest gifts!

All the shopping made us a wee bit peckish, so Mr. Bookish wanted to go to the very best place in the world for snowballs:  Hansen's Sno-Bliz.

I ordered a strawberry one.  They are famous for their nectar flavored ones and some of the cream ones, too.  What makes Hansen's Sno-Bliz snowballs so good is their ice pulverizing machine: It's the only one like it in the world!  

We always enjoy Audubon Park, and our hosts live right by the park.  What I love most are the gorgeous live oak trees.  Did you know that there is a Live Oak Society that registers and names these beautiful and ancient trees?  We found one on St. Charles Avenue that had lots of personality.

Called "Open Arms," it was registered by the Live Oak Society on August 14, 2001.

As I was saying...Open Arms has lots of personality!

Speaking of personality...

Mr. Bookish in the Garden Room at Commander's Palace.
Virtually everyone there was an LSU fan.
Roll Tide Roll!

Please visit the other Tales of the Traveling Totes posts by using the links below.  Jackie @ Purple Cocolat Home is hosting a giveaway for the pretty Courtly Check To Go tote.

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader (You're here!)

Mr. Open Arms would like to invite you to join us for the next episode of Tales of the Traveling Tote which will be live on December 1, 2023.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. I love this post and I'm taking notes! We've never taken time for the NO Museum of Art so I look forward to your post. I love the magnificent oaks in NO, like no others. Your summer sounds like you and Trip had a great time. I have to check out the Tase shop in Birmingham next time I'm there. RJ, the garden shop at the beach is Clay garden and pottery. You'll love it. Happy September sweet girl........

  2. Ricki Jill, I need a return to NOLA. My last visit was a wedding weekend, so time for museums, etc was limited. Saving your travel notes. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed this trip and had a good summer. Happy September, my friend!

  3. What a fun trip, but wasn't it awfully hot? I love to go to NOLA, such a fun city to visit! Love that Open Arms tree! I've never heard of Tasc, but I looked it up and saw it is in Mountain Brook too. I showed it to my daughter and she's going to check it out, she loves that kind of clothes. Mr. Bookish was brave to wear an Alabama jacket among all those LSU fans! Please do write a post about the art museum {Wayne Thiebaud is one of my favorite artists!} Happy September Ricki Jill and I hope your Fall is full of adventures!

  4. Ricki Jill, it has been a long time since I visited New Orleans. Your post told me I need to return. Happy birthday to your hubby and Roll Tide!

  5. I love seeing pics and reading about a place I have never been! Maybe someday! That tree is so awesome! Happy to hear you have been out and about enjoying life and travels! Happy end of summer!

  6. Such a fun time for you and Mr. Bookish. The Open Arm tree is lovely. Love those cute faces. The museum of art looks interesting. We missed seeing that when we visited New Orleans. Shopping is always fun. Definitely need a sno blitz on a hot summer days. I have also never heard of Tasc. Always a pleasure to see where your travels took you.

  7. We went to a 60th birthday celebration in NOLA and it was fun! Your blog is perfection, kudos to you! Glad you are traveling, and I hope September is good to you.

  8. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bookish! It looks like a very fun trip. I love those blue shutters, what a great color. Love that tree, too. It certainly does have personality!

  9. This looks like such a good time, Ricki Jill. Happy Birthday to Mr. B! That oak tree -- wow. And I think I'd just love that book store!

  10. I enjoyed my travels with you to New Orleans, Ricki Jill. I sure would love one of those Sno Cones right about now. Happy Birthday to your hubby!

  11. Happy Birthday to Mr. B ... love the photo. And I enjoyed your post.

  12. First, Happy Belated Birthday to Mr Bookish. Your trips to NOLA and Lake Martin sound like salve for the soul. I love the little shops you shared and described. That oak tree appears to be having its way with the fence it's engulfing. A very storied tree, judging simply from the looks of it! I'm looking forward to your post on the NOMA also. Miss Countess was probably wanting a photo op with the sequined and beaded gown.😉 Happy September, and many more tales!


Comments are friendly!


I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

Follow me on Instagram