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Apr 23, 201411:41 AM
Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer

On the Move

With the right tools, even moving day can be infused with little luxuries.

The "action bag," which is filled with necessities and luxuries for a first night in a new house.

Whether it’s one mile or 1,000 miles, one of the most mentally and physically exhausting endeavors in life is moving to a new house. Having moved more than 20 times, for reasons as varied as moving with my parents as a child, then for college, jobs and larger or smaller apartments, I’ve become an accidental expert on the topic. In February, my hubby and partner in this previously nomadic existence, Mark and I moved (for what God-willing is the last time), from Texas by way of our home state of Kentucky to the city that stole our hearts — New Orleans. (We also briefly were in exile in Ohio, but would prefer not to talk about it, thank you very much.)

In my previous life, as a tourist in New Orleans, my No. 1 choice of places to go, eat or just be was Café Amelie. But now, that lush, tucked away haven has been bumped down a notch. Instead of sitting at a bistro table in the restaurant’s verdant courtyard or cozy carriage house, I relish the opportunity to sit on our own plant-adorned porch with a cocktail or to light a scented candle and sink into the sofa to get lost in a book. Our new abode is light-flooded, airy, on the parade route and by far my favorite place in the Crescent City. This preference began the day we moved into the building, because over the years, and the moves, I’ve developed a little something to make the first night and following morning in a new home and city not only bearable, but also down right luxurious. I call it the Action Bag.

The Action Bag came into existence about seven moves ago, when Mark and I left Kentucky for Austin, Tex. We knew we’d arrive a day or two before the moving truck, so beyond the clothing and toiletries one would normally pack, there were a few other essentials, such as a hand towel for the kitchen and coffee making goodies, that would ease the transition. In the days leading up to our move, we kept the bag near the door and whenever one of us would think of something we might need, we’d toss it in.

Subsequent moves have shown that the Action Bag works even if you’ll have all of your furniture and boxes the day of your move. Because, who wants to dig around in countless packing tape-bound containers to locate the hand soap or that celebratory bottle of Champagne? So, if you are planning a move to a new part of town — or to a summer retreat or a friend’s house for a few days — here are a few things that will help the first 24-hours seem downright decadent:

Your favorite tote bag or beach bag (use one that is fun, pretty or from a fab trip)
Champagne, wine or your favorite booze
Champagne glasses or the appropriate glass for your beverage
Cheese board
Wine key
Your favorite coffee
Your favorite coffee cups
French press or your preferred coffee-making contraption
Your best, big fluffy towels and a kitchen towel
Paper towels
Toilet paper
Wonderful smelling hand soap
A deliciously scented candle

Also recommended are a couple of items from your toolbox, including a screwdriver, hammer and utility knife. Feel free to experiment, add and subtract until you come up with the items that work for you.

Put that Champagne in the refrigerator as soon as you arrive at the house. Once the truck is unloaded, make a quick trip to the nearest grocery store for a couple of cheeses, meats, fruit and a crusty loaf of French bread. Create your spread, light that yummy candle and have an easy, but lovely little feast among the boxes to celebrate the first night in your new home.

Oh, and welcome to the first post of Bon Vivant, another new home of sorts, where together we’ll explore the myriad ways one can make each day a little more luxurious and a lot more fun. From design and entertaining to fashion and food; beauty and books to travel and tales; etiquette and events to well, everything between, my hope is that this blog will be a little corner where we focus on the finer side of life in New Orleans and beyond. As the 20th-Century British philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” It’s a passion of mine to discover and create small, daily rituals that add up to a rich and joyous existence filled with love and celebration — otherwise known as the good life.

How do you celebrate the good life?

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Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer


Melanie Warner Spencer is a native Kentuckian, but says she got to New Orleans as fast as she could. For more than 16 years, Melanie has covered lifestyle, design and entertainment at various publications, serving as the design columnist at The Austin American-Statesman, a senior staff reporter at the Houston Chronicle and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Houston Brides magazine. Her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and Reuters in the United States and across the globe. In her spare time, Melanie is an award-winning fine art photographer and has been honored by the Texas Press Association for her editorial photography. She also has been honored by the Press Club of New Orleans for its Excellence in Journalism Awards and is currently serving as a media member of the board of directors. Cooking and eating fabulous food and taking road trips with her spouse of 16 years, fellow writer and filmmaker Mark Patrick Spencer however, is at the top of her list of favorite pastimes. Click here to like Spencer's Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @MelanieSpencer. 


You can reach her at melanie@myneworleans.com.




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