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May 21, 201409:42 AM
Bon Vivant

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

Summer Rituals

Lemonade, terrifying cleanses and road trips

A few Sundays ago, I was inspired to whip up a batch of fresh squeezed, homemade lemonade. Thinking back, I’m certain the inspiration came from this charming essay on the beverage by my colleague Sarah Ravits, editor of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles. In fact, the entire spring issue of the magazine is an inspiration, so I encourage you to buy a copy, but not until you finish reading this blog entry. First thing’s first!
That day, I went with good old-fashioned lemonade made using the juice from six lemons (about a cup), a half cup of sugar (or a little less or more, depending on if you like it more tart or sweeter) and five cups of water. 
My juice detoxing pals and readers likely have been clutching their grandmother’s pearls since the word sugar entered into the story. Don’t worry; I have two more lemonade recipes with honey replacing that villainous sugar. 
On a related note, while everyone is certainly welcome to torture him or herself as he or she pleases (Who am I to judge?), don’t look for juice cleanse articles on Bon Vivant. My version of good living centers on moderation and eschews anything so restrictive. Days on end without a piping hot cup of Community Coffee? The horror. Forgoing a delicious ploughman’s lunch of cheeses and meats from St. James Cheese Company? Punishment. No Champagne? No thanks. 
Additionally, seemingly everyone and every magazine and blog touts detoxes (check out this Vogue piece about Austria’s Viva Mayr Clinic). Which made me doubt all I had ever learned in high school and college anatomy and biology classes about the handy function of organs such as the liver, kidneys and skin. So, being the ever-devoted journalist, I did a little research on the efficacy of detoxing. 
According to an article by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. on the Mayo Clinic website,  “…there's little evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body. Indeed, the kidneys and liver effectively filter and eliminate most ingested toxins. The benefits from a detox diet may actually come from avoiding highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar.” 
Thank heavens. Now I can go on with my life, sans some horrifying thing called the Master Cleanse. Shudder. 
But I digress, one Sunday evening of sipping homemade lemonade on the porch has lead to three and well, it has become a much-anticipated ritual. The following Sunday, I had two kiwis that needed to be eaten, so I blended them up with a cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, a quarter cup of honey and five cups of water. It was delightful. 
This Sunday, we had friends in town from Texas. From Friday through most of Sunday we hit Uptown, the French Quarter and everything between. Sunday afternoon our guests explored on their own, discovering the sculpture garden at City Park and enjoying the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Upon their return, I greeted them with a glass of chilled, homemade strawberry lemonade (Combine a cup of chopped strawberries, the juice of six lemons and a quarter cup of honey in the blender, pour blended mixture into pitcher, add five cups of water and chill for 40 minutes).  We sat in rocking chairs on the porch sipping the refreshing beverage and chatting about their adventures. This Sunday ritual is fast-becoming one of my favorite simple pleasures of the summer and I intend to enjoy it with abandon … moderately, of course. 
Speaking of summer, it’s road trip time. Jaunts to Gulf Shores, visiting family in Kentucky and quick trips to Mobile for showers and the wedding of my dear friend are all on my agenda. So, when I read about the Routeshare app, I quickly downloaded it. This app is great for road trippers like me, especially if you sometimes travel solo. Share your route with a trusted friend, family member or significant other. Updates of your progress and an alert when you arrive at your destination are sent to your person, who also can check your whereabouts at any point during your trip in case of emergency or for fun. Happy — and safe — travels this summer! 

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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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