North Carolina's Museum of Art Beautifies Trash for Annual Art in Bloom Flower Festival

Let's talk trash in North Carolina.

In the South, we have a way of making even our trash look pretty. Mid-March is a great time to see Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill get beautified in a very unusual way.

Flower Display in a Trash Can in Raleigh, NC

It's not every day that you see ordinary trash bins become a canvas for beautiful blooms. But, it happens every single March in North Carolina to promote the NC Museum of Art's popular Art in Bloom flower festival.

Floral  Boutiques to Promote Art in Bloom Decorate the City of Raleigh

The vibrant floral trash displays are available a good ten day of public viewing before the festival opens. The 2019 Art in Bloom Event at the NC Museum is scheduled for Thursday, March 21-Sunday, March 24. Art in Bloom is a special museum fundraiser where more than 50 floral designers design floral installations based on works in the NCMA's art collection. Last year, more than 18,000 visitors came to the art museum to see Art in Bloom.

Designers create floral displays to work with pieces of art in the NCMA in Raleigh
2018 Floral Display

The four-day floral fundraiser is packed with floral workshops, lectures, and daily trunk shows in the Museum Store. The Museum will have special extended hours and expanded food options

Art in Bloom in Raleigh NC at NCMA
2108 Floral Display

We love our ice cream in the South, too. Also to celebrate Art in Bloom, Raleigh ice cream company Two Roosters will debut a custom floral ice cream flavor in its storefront this week.  The flavor will also be featured on the menus of the Museum’s Iris restaurant, Sip Café, and Blue Ridge Café during Art in Bloom.

Admission to the NCMA 
During the four days of Art in Bloom, tickets are required for admission to the permanent collection in the Museum’s West Building. East Building and Museum Park will remain open and free to visitors. 

$13 Members
$18 Nonmembers        
Free for children 6 and under
Tickets available at ncartmuseum.org/bloom or (919) 715-5923

Related events are ticketed separately. Additional fees are charged for select workshops, presentations, and other events (schedule below).

Hours for 2019 Art in Bloom Festival Thursday, March 21, 9 am–5 pm; last entry 4 pm Friday, March 22, 9 am–9 pm; last entry 8 pm Saturday, March 23, 9 am–9 pm; last entry 8 pm Sunday, March 24, 9 am–5 pm; last entry 4 pm
During the four days of Art in Bloom, the Museum’s West Building opens at 9 am, an hour earlier than usual. East Building galleries open at 10 am, as usual.

Getting to the museum

Parking is available on the NCMA campus. During this popular event, visitors are encouraged to carpool or take public transportation via the GoRaleigh bus route 27 to the NCMA. Information about the bus is available on GoRaleigh’s website. The NCMA is also home to a Citrix Cycles bike station. For visitors who need assistance, marked shuttle vans will circle the parking lots during Art in Bloom.

Pin for Future Travel in North Carolina 

NC Travel. Art in Bloom Pops up at the NCMA every March.

All photos were supplied by the NC Museum of Art for publication.  However, I will be having a private tour of Art in Bloom on Wednesday before the event is open to the public so be sure to follow me on social media. 

My thanks to Wells Family Dental Group with a new dental office on Leesville Road in Raleigh, for sponsoring my blog and writing. Thank you for keeping me at my desk writing. 


Easy Irish Potato Soup that will Please Little Leprechauns for a Quick Weeknight Meal

This post was originally written in 2011, but updated in 2019.  This soup recipe is also part of an All Things Irish post with Chapter Two Collective, check out their story for other St. Patrick's Day related recipes, decor and travel ideas. 

Easy Irish Potato Soup Recipe Perfect for St. Patricks Day #Recipes #Soups  #EasyDinners

I have very fond memories of a trip I took to Ennis, Ireland in 1998 with my college roommate. We stayed at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis and toured the area for a week. It was an alumni trip with UNC-Chapel Hill and it was spectacular. This getaway was way before social media and cell phone photography. My photos are in an album stored away.

After a quick web update almost thirty-one years later, The hotel still welcomes guests in this Irish town, looks totally refurbished and I would stay there in a heartbeat again. This little town was perfect in every way. It was walkable. It was small. The entire experience was probably one of the best trips I've taken on a tour.

Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, Ireland
Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, Ireland
The Old Ground Hotel is located about 20 minutes away from Shannon International Airport and 40 minutes away from the Cliffs of Moher. I also dined at Durty Nelly's, a four-hundred-year-old pub in Bunratty, adjacent to the castle and I had some of the best carrot soup I think I've ever tasted.

We traveled to County Clare in October, and it was quite cold. I still remember the wonderful soups I had on this trip. I've always been a fan of potato soup so I started making it some upon my return.

I adapted a recipe published in Southern Living in 1999.

Easy Potato Soup Recipe
Photo Credit: Ralph Anderson

Easy Irish Potato Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter.
3 leeks, sliced ( I used frozen from Trader Joes, and I didn't know the amount that three leeks would produce so I used almost two cups of frozen.  I may have used too much, but we liked the soup.)
5 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. (I think my potatoes were on the smaller side so if you have smaller baking potatoes, I would recommend adding one or two more potatoes.  The original recipe called for only three).
3 (14 1/2 ounces) cans of chicken broth
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Toppings: shredded cheddar, crumbled cooked bacon (I used no nitrates added turkey bacon), chopped fresh chives.

Irish Potato Soup in less than Hour on Stove. Instant Pot even less time

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; stir in onion and leek.  Cover and cook 20 minutes.  Stir in potatoes; cover and cook 15 minutes.  Stir in broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat, and cool slightly.

The original recipe says to put the soup in batches in the blender.  Instead, I took a mixer and pureed the soup in the pot.  My suggestion is to let the soup cool though.  I got a little splatter from a very hot potato! Reheat the soup over medium heat until heated.  Serve with desired toppings.

*Budget Note:  The soup cost less than $10 to make, and that includes all the toppings.  You will have enough for several meals.

I made this soup decades before an Instant pot, but this recipe can easily be adapted for the Instant Pot.  Other recipes I've read online also use red potatoes instead of baking potatoes.

I really hope to go back to Ireland one day with my family, especially to this area.   This photo taken on the trip is a favorite of mine.  I would have loved to have brought the sign home with me.  For more information on this tourism area in Ireland, visit https://www.clare.ie/

Leprechaun Crossing in Ireland.

And a little throwback photo from when this post was originally written. My son was five.

This post is made possible by Sims Orthodontics, the best Orthodontist in Pensacola Florida  My thanks to my sponsors for keeping me at my desk writing and updating conent. 


Serve this Cajun Crawfish Etouffee for Mardi Gras

Easy recipe for Lousiana-Inspired Crawfish Etouffee. Perfect for Mardi Gras Celebrations.

With  Mardi Gras celebrations happening in New Orleans, it made me think about an annual crawfish boil that some friends of ours host each year.  The first time we attended their event I was pregnant with my daughter. My adorable friend had all this wonderful food for everyone to eat including this yummy, rich gumbo served over rice.  I think I ate it as if I had not eaten in weeks.  My son, who was then three, loved it and it got two thumbs up from my husband, too. On my second or third helping of the dish (remember, I was very pregnant), I motioned my friend over.

I asked in between bites, "What is this?  It's so good?"

She told me it was Etouffee.  I probably looked at her puzzled and as if I needed to free my ears of wax because I didn't understand her.  I think I  said, "Et tou what?   She told us it was Crawfish Etouffee, and it was her first time making her husband's family recipe.  Her husband was born in Louisiana, and the recipe has been in the family for years. It was my first time trying this type of dish.

In 2011, I asked my friend if I could share it with all of you, and after checking with her in-laws, she said yes. It's been a popular recipe on the blog for years now.

Get ready to make some melt in your mouth, Cajun goodness!  This Crouch family recipe calls for crawfish, but I did some research on Etouffee just for us since I've never personally made it. Here's what I learned.  Etouffee is the French word for "smother".  It is most popular with shellfish, chicken, or a combination of both.  So, if you have difficulty getting crawfish then shrimp would be a great substitute. Or mix it up and try using chicken.  I bet it would be great to cook in the Instant Pot.

Crouch Crawfish Etouffee

3 lbs crawfish tails (peeled)
2 sticks of margarine
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can button mushrooms
1 large onion (chopped)
1 can Rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
1 can beer (light beer, any type)
1 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup bell pepper (diced)
1/4 cup celery (diced)
White Rice (Cooked Separately)

Season to taste with these spices:
Cayenne pepper (you don't need a lot, the Rotel will add spice)
Lots of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (more is better)
Lots of minced garlic

First, melt butter or margarine in a pot. Your heat should not make the butter froth up (you will want to keep this heat going the whole time). Saute bell peppers in butter for about 6 minutes. Now add all the onion. Saute down until onion is soft and yellowish, remember to stir often.

Add cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup,  and the can of Rotel.  Let it come to room temperature. Add celery, button mushrooms, and spices to taste. You will have to put quite a bit of paprika to make it a nice brownish orange color. Let cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

About 10 minutes after you put in the vegetables, pour 1/4-1/2 can of beer into the pot. You may also need to add water if the stew is too thick for you. With about 15 minutes left, add crawfish and green onions.
Let cook for about 15 minutes or until crawfish are done, stirring occasionally.

Remove and pour over white rice.

Enjoy!  And Let the Good Times Roll this week with some yummy Crouch Crawfish Etouffee.

You could also substitute shrimp for crawfish.

This recipe is sponsored by  Harry Martin, Jr. .My blog sponsors make it possible for me to keep at my desk writing. 

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