Happy Lundi Gras, y’all!!

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Tomorrow is Mardi Gras Day in my hometown, New Orleans, which makes today Lundi Gras. The Monday (Lundi en Français) before Mardi Gras used to be a day to rest and recover from the massive parades over the previous weekend. It became its own day of celebration in 1987, and NewOrleans.com has the details on the newer Lundi Gras celebrations.

Tonight’s Parades

Google Maps showing the NOLAcom building about a block and a half down St. Charles St. towards Julia Street from Harmony CircleTonight we have the parades for the Krewe of Proteus and the Krewe of Orpheus. You can watch the parades on NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Parade Cam. They’ll be streaming from The Times-Picayune building just east of Harmony Circle (formerly named for a losing Confederate general) beginning at 5:15 pm Central Time, just keep in mind that it will take some time for the parades to get to Harmony Circle.

Orpheus will have the terrific twosome of Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka as their celebrity monarchs, and I’m going to try to get the stream hosts to shout “Spice up your life!” at Neil. Why, you ask? Because he danced to that song from the Spice Girls in the third 60th anniversary Doctor Whoo special, The Giggle.

Mardi Gras Day

You can stream the Mardi Gras Day festivities from several sources in La Nouvelle Orléans. In addition to several marching groups, there are parades in New Orleans for the Krewes of Zulu and Rex (the King of Carnival) as well as truck parades for the Krewes of Elks Orleanians and Crescent City.

NOLA.com’s Parade Cam will stream Zulu and Rex, and it will be a nice way to watch the major New Orleans parades on Fat Tuesday. Local NBC affiliate WDSU (a sister station to ABC affiliate WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston) will add coverage for some of the marching clubs, black masking indians, and truck parades. WDSU will also cover the parades in the surrounding area for a more inclusive day of coverage. NOLA.com’s stream will start at 8 am Central Time and WDSU will start streaming both on their website and the Very Local app beginning at 6:00 am Central Time. (WDSU is a sister station to WCVB, the station I watch for local news in Boston.)

Do you want some New Orleans-esque food for Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras donuts from Mardi Gras Day 2023My family has two food traditions for Mardi Gras Day. We start with Mardi Gras donuts, which are similar to beignets but without the yeast. The recipe is super simple with just three ingredients. The picture is the donuts I made for last year’s Mardi Gras Day.

Important note: Once again, I forgot that the recipe I got from my aunt doesn’t include any liquid. I’ll have to correct the recipe in the coming months, and when I do I’ll post the update here. I’ll also write a stand-alone article with the corrected recipe for Mardi Gras 2025, which will be on 4 March 2025.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Mix the ingredients.
  2. Roll thin and cut into triangles or diamond shapes. Cut a vent slit or two, depending on the size of the triangle.
  3. Fry till crispy in vegetable oil heated to 3500℉.
  4. Dust with powdered (confectioner’s) sugar.
  5. Bon appetite.

They go great with a nice cup of Community New Orleans Blend if you’re able to get it. I buy it from Amazon and it’s the coffee I brew every day. It doesn’t contain chicory, but it’s the coffee my family made when I was younger. You can add plain chicory to get coffee and chicory, but the brand of chicory I used was discontinued, and I haven’t found a new brand I love yet. If you like cold brewed coffee, I can promise you that New Orleans Blend is delicious brewed cold.

Our other Mardi Gras Day food tradition is a simple lunch to take to the parades: fried chicken. Not only is it a great thing to eat between parades out on the route, but you can also have it for dinner if you have any left. Just serve it with a simple salad, and it’s a (fairly) nutritious meal on a very full day.

I could fry up a batch of air fryer wing dings (I need to post that recipe soon), but I bought a tray of fried chicken while I was making a few groceries.

Have a great Mardi Gras and laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

One more quick note

Thanks to a nice long bit of jury duty, I’m finally getting some gear for recording demos of some of my songs. I’ll be posting a teaser clip for Somewhere Someone Cares in the coming days to YouTube so you may want to subscribe to my channel at @JMHardin and click the bell so you get notified when it drops. I also post cute videos of Babe, my upstairs neighbor’s cat, so if you like cat videos you may have another reason to follow my channel there.

Happy Old Year!

I meant to write a post for the end of 2023, but I didn’t get it finished to share it before the year ended. I have jury duty, and I finally got picked for a trial, so my time for doing things online is a lot leaner than it usually is. Still, I wanted to share a few things before we got too far into January 2024.


I’m still kind of amazed at the fact that my Bois en Bleu, the Los Angeles Dodgers, not only signed Shohei Ohtani but they also won the Yoshinobu Yamamoto lottery. They also got Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot, and Mookie Betts will be the regular second baseman in 2024. Unfortunately, between the new signings and the expected return of Gavin Lux, who spent 2023 on the IL recovering from a torn ACL, it looks like Kiké Hernádez won’t be back in Dodger Blue in 2024. Hopefully, his improved performance back in LA will help him get the contract he deserves.

The next cause of worry is super utility player Chris Taylor. If Miguel Rojas is the everyday starter at short and Teoscar Hernández is the everyday left fielder, CT3 could have to go back to riding the pine most of the season. Chris is always to contribute wherever he’s needed, but I’m disappointed that he’s back to being a backup instead of a starter.

And we still have to see what Clayton Kershaw is going to do. He isn’t as dominant as he used to be, and he’s been spending more time on the IL with each season. I hope he gives one more season to LA and doesn’t retire or, even worse, finish out his career in Texas. It’s rare to have a player spend their entire career with a single team, but seeing Kersh in another uniform would look even more weird than seeing Cody Bellinger in a Cubs uniform.

My Die-With-a-T

In the spring, I got referred to a new doctor who put me on the Mediterranean Diet. I quickly remembered a Garfield comic strip from the 70s where he called a diet “a die-wih-a-t.” I told my doctor that the things I would need to get at the grocery store for the diet are pretty expensive for someone on disability, and I was right. While I did pretty well on it for the first few months, but my budget got stretched so thin that it was hard to get the good food I should be eating all month. Grocery prices may still be going down, but it’s still hard to make sure I have decent food to eat all month, and I’ve noticed myself getting less nutritious food to complete menus for any given month. The fact that I’m still a fiend for good fried chicken doesn’t help.

Social Media

I thought I had found a great social media platform to use after Elon Musk bought (and trashed) the bird platform. After the attacks of 7 October, I discovered that my support of the civilians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank wasn’t very welcome there. I refuse to use any platform owned by Meta due to all the hate and BS, so I’m basically off of social media. It’s good though, because it freed up some time in my days for other things.

Second Life

I still need to reopen my virtual t-shirt store in Second Life, and I’m moving my real-life merchandise back to Spreadshirt this year. If you want to keep up with the happenings with my merch, you can keep an eye on things on the Nanci’s Naughties website. When I get my Spreadshop set back up, I’ll announce it there. With the war in the Gaza Strip expected to continue for several months, I’m considering adding the virtual posters I made to support the Palestinians to my real-world store. I really should have done that a few months ago, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to make money off the Palestinians’ suffering. I simply want to give people a way to show their support for people who are routinely treated like they’re poop that needs to be scraped off a person’s shoe.

As I wrote in May, I am the proud owner of a virtual bowling center in Second Life, the Pride Lanes Bowling Center. It’s not a very busy place, and I need to look at giving more folks reasons to visit. I tried using a machine to give out free Linden dollars (the currency in Second Life) to get people to go to the bowling center, but they only stayed around long enough to get paid. If you like to bowl in real life and you’re in Second Life, I hope you’ll head over to Pride Lanes and see how much fun bowling in Second Life can be You don’t even need to worry about renting bowling shoes, and I’ve even bowled in high heels without twisting an ankle or falling on my arse.


I’ve loved cats my whole life, but my budget is usually so tight that Abe Lincoln has gotten laryngitis from screaming so much. As a result, I haven’t felt I could be a good primary human to a feline. Earlier this year, my upstairs neighbor catsit for someone in the hospital, and Mr. Jack came down often to spend time in my half of the house. When Jack went back to his primary human, my neighbor realized he really liked cats after always preferring dogs. One of my neighbor’s friends heard there was a pair of abandoned kittens in New York, and the kitties moved in upstairs. It was a brother and sister, Tommy and Babe, but Tommy got too aggressive, so he had to go to a new home. It worked out better because Tommy thrives in his new home, and is loved by everyone in his new building.

I’ve become Babe’s “aunt,” and she’s gotten the run of the entire place. She comes down several times daily to see what’s happening downstairs, and I spoil her with treats and toys from time to time. Her primary human doesn’t have a climbing toy upstairs, so I built her a cat condo from cardboard boxes. She now has several places to get a nap, and she loves having a maze and a higher place to sit.

I’ve started posting some videos of Babe to my YouTube channel, and I have a video of her getting introduced to snow that I need to get online. Many felines like the snow, but Babe isn’t one of them. I was surprised at how fast she turned around when she got off the porch.


As I said in May, I started working on a pair of songs I had written years ago. Life got in the way, and neither song has a demo recorded. I finally worked on the second song again last month, and the chord progression for the song’s intro reminds me of the solo section of Del Shannon’s Runaway. The melodies are very different, but the underlying chord progressions are similar. I hope I can share it before it’s time to celebrate Pride Month.

My computer

Last month, I did something terrible to my computer and had to do a clean install of SolydK Linux. I’m not saying what I did because I’m not sure what I did, but I was losing available disk space at a prodigious speed. Having to do a clean install of my daily work computer wasn’t a great thing to have to do, especially since I had to get into Second Life every day to get goodies from advent calendars.

I finally reinstalled some software to record demos of my music, but I still need to get fully set up for recording. The plan is to write an article on what I installed once I have something musical to share with it. I still need to get some gear to make proper recordings, but with my tight budget, I plan on seeing what my current setup can do. I’m going to see if I can use my Fender Mustang Micro headphone amp and my phone to record some guitar tracks. I miss making music, both from the creative and production sides. I was a recording engineer when I lived in New Orleans, but it was hard to get a job at a studio with all the students in Boston when I moved up here in 1989.

What does 2024 have in store?

I hope I can be even more productive in 2023 than I was in 2023. Once the trial I’m on the jury for finishes, I’ll be able to create a decent working routine. I hope to give you more reasons to visit My Two Lives in the coming year. There is a whole heap of question marks ahead of us between the US elections, the war in Palestine, and life’s seeming predisposition to throw more on our plates than we thought we could handle. Remember, you’re better than you think you are. You’re worth more than you think you are. You’re more loved and appreciated than you probably know. The more the haters want to put you down, the higher the possibility that they’re trying to keep you from knowing the full value of your being on this planet.

Do you love salad dressings?

Growing up, my mom and grandmother gave me a love of eating good salads, and in the last few years I’ve started changing from buying salad dressings to making my own. Not only do they not have all the preservatives the stuff on the grocers’ shelves have, they’re also pretty easy to make. I cook for just one, li’l old me, so I’m not going to go through huge productions just to have homemade salad dressing.

Some time back I discovered Rachel Cooks when I was looking for a homemade taco seasoning recipe (there’s also a large batch recipe if you find you want to make it less often but enjoy it regularly). Then I discovered her honey mustard vinaigrette dressing and I became hooked on her recipes.

I’ve since subscribed to her email newsletter, and today’s edition was all about her yummy salad dressings. After tweeting a link I decided to share all of the salad dressing recipes I use. They’re not all from Rachel (sorry!), but they’re so good that I bookmarked them so I could find them easily. I put vinaigrettes into Good Season cruets, and right now I have a bottle of their Italian dressing just to use up one of the packets I got when I decided I wanted a second cruet for salad dressings. My creamy dressings are in repurposed salsa jars, which makes me glad I save my old jars after I empty them. (My taco seasoning is in a reused spice bottle that lives next to my nukeomatic.)

My gateway to homemade dressings was the vinaigrette from The Kitchn’s Classic Salad Niçoise. I don’t remember where I saw the recipe, but I quickly bookmarked it as something to try. I’ve since made it for other salads, and if I didn’t have a bottle of Italian dressing in my fridge the bottle would have balsamic vinaigrette from a stand-alone recipe.

I think I found Rachel’s honey mustard vinaigrette recipe while looking for balsamic vinaigrette recipes, and it quickly became my favorite dressing. I use Grey Poupon’s Harvest Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard in it, and I’m thinking of trying it with Zatarain’s Creole Mustard something that I grew up eating on sandwiches. I could easily use just this dressing on all my salads if I didn’t want to make sure I didn’t get sick of eating it all the time.

Every now and then I want some thousand island dressing and wanted to find recipe, but every recipe I found used a hard boiled egg. Adding the egg sharply reduces how long it will last in your fridge, and when I was ready to make it I wanted something that needed less prep work than Rachel’s recipe called for. I ended up going with a recipe from Simply Whisked, but I’ll give Rachel’s recipe a try for the next batch, but my days of buying bottles of thousand island are over.

When I was in high school, Kraft’s Catalina dressing was my go-to dressing. Since I got older I didn’t like how sweet it was, but every now and then I still want some on my salad. Rachel has a recipe for that, and it’s just what the doctor ordered. I mixed it up in a salsa jar to save a dirty bowl, but my immersion blender clearly wanted more room to work so next time I’ll dirty a bowl to make it. And I know I’ll make it again. The recipe says to run it through the blender, but I really hate having to clean my blender for such a small amount of dressing.

I’m not a big ranch dressing eater, and I rarely buy buttermilk unless I’m whipping up a batch of buttermilk drop donuts so I may buy a bottle of ranch dressing from time to time. There is one other kind of bottled dressing that I used to buy and I had a hard time finding a replacement. I love dipping my homemade chicken tenders in honey mustard dressing, but Rachel’s recipe isn’t what I want to dip my tenders in. In fact, most of the recipes I found weren’t the nice, creamy dressing I was looking for. I ended up trying the dip recipe for The Kitchn’s Turkey Wraps with Honey Mustard Dip and it’s pretty good.

Rachel’s list of salad dressings & toppings includes two recipes I definitely want to try. One is for homemade croutons, and the other is for Caesar Croutons. I really like croutons, and I used to be able to eat them right out of the box, but lately it seems the croutons I buy are bigger than the ones I got in my 20’s. Rachel’s recipes use sliced bread, which will make for the size of croutons I’m wanting. Then the only salad topping I’ll need to make myself is bacon bits, and I need to work on my chopping skills to get good bacon bits. And, of course, I need to not eat the bacon before I have a chance to turn them into bacon bits, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks there’s no such thing as too much bacon.

I’m thankful that I got my mom’s love of cooking, and her desire to do more than your basic American meat-and-potatoes cooking. Maybe it came from living in New Orleans, where your basic meat-and-potatoes meal can be as out of place as a harpsichord at a guitar shred fest. Wherever it came from, I love to cook and the only reason I don’t try more recipes is because it’s rare to find recipes that will only feed one person. That and the fact that so many recipes I’d want to try use ingredients I don’t usually buy, and I’m concerned about being able to use up what doesn’t go into the dish.

Trail Mix, Peng Style

I love to eat, but what I may love more is to cook. Some of the things I cook often are Red Beans & Rice (I am from New Orleans after all, where red beans & rice is a Monday dinner tradition)  and Chicken Piccata, but I have a bookmark folder full of things to make and things to try,

When I was a teenager my grandmother used to tease me saying I didn’t eat three meals a day, I ate one. It started when I got up and it ended when I went to bed at night. I still love grazing but with me being in my 50’s I try to eat better, even when I graze. One of the things I love to nosh on is trail mix, but not just any trail mix. I have my own trail mix that I like to make. more “Trail Mix, Peng Style”