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Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Crèche a little broken, like me

I never met my wife’s Aunt Pat, who died long before I entered the family. But I connect with Pat each Christmas when we unpack her crèche and place it under the tree. My wife inherited the nativity scene from Pat, which makes it an heirloom, I suppose, although nothing so grand as what you’d see on “Antiques… Continue reading →

Today, big broods draw odd questions for puzzled parents

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Big families, like Aaron and Bridgett Quinn and their six children, are becoming more unusual. Since 1970, the percentage of households with five or more people has fallen by half. The Quinn youngsters are Nathan, 9, bottom; from left Alexander, 7; Haleigh, 2; Makenna, 3; Evan, 6, and Brayden, 4.

In a grocery store, Rebecca Braun and the children with her encountered a young boy and his mother. “Mommy, she has a lot of kids,” the toddler remarked. The mother was not amused. “She has too many kids,” the woman said, then turned an ugly glare to Braun. “Are you serious?” the mother said. “Are… Continue reading →

Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Crèche a little broken, like me

I never met my wife’s Aunt Pat, who died long before I entered the family. But I connect with Pat each Christmas when we unpack her crèche and place it under the tree. My wife inherited the nativity scene from Pat, which makes it an heirloom, I suppose, although nothing so grand as what you’d see on “Antiques… Continue reading →

Who was that man in red?

Christmas Eve lends an air of magic to the hustle and bustle of holiday happenings. Children nestle down for the night, hoping Santa will bring gifts, while adults tend to concentrate on the positives in people and places. When my brother and I were in college, our parents began the tradition of hosting a bountiful celebration on… Continue reading →

Pam's Party Line for Dec. 21, 2014

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat …” and parties galore are filling the calendar leading up to the big day. If you have no plans tonight, join us in Kenilworth subdivision for luminaries. It starts at 6, and I promise it’ll put you in the holiday spirit. Gingerbread Tea The ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel was abuzz the afternoon of… Continue reading →

Comics how-to, family drama, past and future of jazz

?Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels? by Brian Michael Bendis

“Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels” by Brian Michael Bendis. Watson-Guptill, 2014. $24.99. Writers, do you want to break into the comic book industry? “Words for Pictures” can help you. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, one of Marvel’s best selling writers,… Continue reading →

Exhibit showcases top prizes, different styles

Photo provided by the Louisiana Art and Artists' Guild -- Robert Willis' watercolor painting,

Perhaps she saw the fork, knife and spoon at a Mother’s Day party. Maybe she was so intrigued by the scene that she had to sketch it, or at least snap a photo. But the title really isn’t as important as the universal appeal of her painting,… Continue reading →

Patrica Gannon: A true Christmas carol

Christmas came early this year, judging by the stores stringing lights before Halloween and Black Friday shoppers stepping out before the turkey thawed. “You see it and grab it before anyone else can get to it,” said one shopper in The Acadiana Advocate. “I don’t need two TVs, and I don’t plan on giving my kids… Continue reading →

Dads and their children build mangers for Christmas lesson

Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Sawyer Earnest, 7, pounds in the nails to hold the legs on a manger she and her father Todd built during a Manger Build family-bonding activity at Parkview Baptist Church.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe… Continue reading →

Facets of Faith: Christmas music

For many people, the Christmas season is about music. This is true in my household. Our eclectic Christmas albums range from Handel’s “Messiah” to Dr. Demento. There are a few albums I return to when I want a dose of the Bible Christmas story with my music. Here are some… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Dec. 20, 2014


CLOTHING GIVEAWAY: 10 a.m., Greater Beulah Baptist Church, 955 E. Polk St. Free clothing in various sizes. FESTIVAL OF LESSONS & CAROLS: 5 p.m., St. James Episcopal Church, 205 N. Fourth St. Music by the St. James Treble Choir, a… Continue reading →

35 years in the making, Kenilworth yard is bursting with Christmas decorations

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  From nutcrackers guarding to front door to snowmen and candy canes, Norman Borne fills his yard with decorations.

For Norman Borne, Christmas starts in September. That’s when he plans the outdoor display for his Kenilworth home, deciding where to place the hundreds of wooden figures he has crafted over the past 35 years and continues to make today to create his Christmas scenes. “Everything is handmade,” said Borne, a CPA and chief financial… Continue reading →

Community column for Dec. 19, 2014

Photo provided by EUGENE RHEAMS -- East End Masonic Lodge -- East End Prince Hall Masonic Lodge 209 assisted the Twin Oaks Elementary faculty in providing 20 families with a Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 18. The lodge provided the turkeys and the faculty completed the meals with holiday fixings. Shown are, from left, Maurice Stacker, Jerell Walker, Melvin Beverley, Vice Principle Charlotte Britten, Trouman Morrison, Greg Ridgle and Cardarro Cloy. Not shown is Eugene Rheams.

Southern Mississippi graduates announced The University of Southern Mississippi held fall commencement exercises Dec. 12 on its Hattiesburg campus. Area graduates are: Amy Lynn Enos, Baton Rouge, master of science; Andrea Ellen Hill, Carencro, bachelor of science; Shelbee Marie Rodgers, Greenwell Springs, bachelor of arts; Ellen Elizabeth Bailey, Hammond, master… Continue reading →

Garden News: Force paperwhites for blooms indoors

Photo by RICK BOGREN  Paperwhite bulbs for forcing should be planted in pots with the tips of the bulbs just above the top of the soil.

Along with amaryllis, paperwhite, also called narcissus, is a spring bulb popular for “forcing” during winter. Forcing bulbs means growing them to bloom earlier than they would under normal landscape conditions. Paperwhite bulbs are commonly available now, and forcing them to bloom during winter is not difficult. And the results are beautiful, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan… Continue reading →

Bites of History: Christmas sweets have a long history around the world

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles  --  The no-bake Nanaimo Bar is common on Canadian Christmas cookie platters and is inextricably tied to the City of Nanaimo.

Let’s all climb on board Santa’s sleigh and take a trip back in time to learn the origins of some of those sweets we love scarfing down this time of year. One of the oldest Christmas cakes is the much maligned, calorie-dense fruitcake, which fueled the Roman army, as well as the armies of Europe during… Continue reading →

Cangelosi Dance presents its 10th holiday season tribute

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- The Cangelosi Dance Project dancers rehearse on Saturday for an upcoming Christman program.

Not every song in the Cangelosi Dance Project’s Holiday Mix has a holiday theme, but they all connect to the spirit of the season. Sometimes it’s a favorite Christmas carol, other times a song about family and friendship. Then there’s the moment when mermaids spin seasonal magic. It’s all part of… Continue reading →

Pam’s Party Line for Dec. 17, 2014

Photo provided by TIM ELDER --- 'hOLLIday Party' --- At the Lagniappe Chapter of OLLI at LSU's 'hOLLIday Party' Dec. 3 at the Main Library are, seated from left, Karen Link and Jeanette Marino; and, standing, Karen Egedy, Delores Dyer, Camilla Stevenson, Brenda LeBoeuf, Linda Gray, Frances Billeaud and Connie Smith. Members and guests were entertained by a bell choir directed by Kay Hawthorn and a men's quartet under the direction of Randy Gurie, of University Baptist Church.

Looking for some fun holiday experiences to share with friends and family? Check out The Advocate’s new app, BR 24/7, and start a new tradition. Follow Pam on Twitter @pamspartyline. Items for Pam’s Party Line must be received by 9 a.m. the Monday preceding the run date. High-resolution digital… Continue reading →

Common Ground: How’s your Web IQ measure up?

I wrote my last old-fashioned letter on a Hewlett-Packard typewriter about 25 years ago. That machine is now tucked away in the attic along with its dinosaur cartridges and accessories. Today, we use sleek laptops, wireless printers and handheld tablets stocked with apps, photo wizards, WiFi and all kinds of stuff that can make shopping,… Continue reading →

BR lawyer Rubin debuts his first novel, ‘Cottoncrest Curse’

Baton Rouge attorney Michael Rubin's debut novel, 'The Cottoncrest Curse'

Lawyer, adjunct law professor, nationally known legal ethicist, humorist, author, musician — those are just a few of the adjectives that describe Michael Rubin, managing partner at McGlinchey Stafford. “The most important, though, are husband, father and grandfather,” says the 64-year-old, smiling. It’s his role as author that’s put him in the… Continue reading →

‘Flip My Food’ visits Darrow


“Flip My Food” host chef Jeff Henderson visits Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow on Wednesday’s episode. Henderson, whose syndicated cooking series focuses on making favorite dishes healthier, will be in the kitchen with Houmas House chef Jeremy Langlois to flip some of his Creole and Cajun recipes. Henderson also will tour the antebellum… Continue reading →

Patricia Gannon: Ring-a-ling

Jeigh Stipe, Sister Betty Lyons, Elizabeth Arnold, Darlene Lovas

It’s Christmastime in the city. The Palmetto Club hosted Silver Bell Soiree 2014, complete with Champagne and sleigh bells at the door. The annual fundraiser benefits the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic and proceeds go to provide much-needed services for the working uninsured. Doing their share: Terry and Jan Cromwell, Sangeeta and Anil Shah, Elizabeth Abdalla, Jeigh Stipe, Sister… Continue reading →

Routh family puts its own Cajun spin on the holiday cards

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The Routh family started making Christmas cards in 1994, and its Denham Springs business, The Routh Collection Greeting Card Co., has grown to include the whole family, plus one. In their workshop next to framed prints of their work and garden flags are, from left, Andrew Routh, Tracey McFearin, Brandon Routh, parents Leslie Routh and husband Craig Routh andCraig's parents Stan Routh and Lee Routh.

Way down here in Louisiana, with no snow, ice or reindeer, Christmas looks a little different. For 20 years, the Cajun version of Christmas cheer has been spread by Denham Springs’ Routh family, who craft Louisiana holiday cards with bayou-touched whimsy — gators pulling Santa’s sleigh, crawdads wearing Santa hats… Continue reading →

Wearable activity trackers are among the hottest presents for fitness-minded

Photo provided by Fitbit-- Activity trackers can track how much you move, allowing you to easily monitor your energy expenditure and decide how much exercise you need to lose weight or maintain a healthy size.

In the battle against the couch, wristbands and clip-on computers that track your activity have become popular weapons. Among the hottest Christmas gifts for two years running, these wearable activity trackers can monitor how many steps you take, how many calories you burn and even how well you sleep. Bracelets and small,… Continue reading →

Health Calendar for Dec. 15, 2014

WHAT: Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group meeting WHEN: 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15 WHERE: Jones Creek Regional Branch, 6222 Jones Creek Road, Baton Rouge DETAILS: Dianne Miller will lead an information-sharing meeting with caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area sponsors this free and public program.… Continue reading →

BRBT brings Tchaikovsky down the bayou with La. flavored take on ‘The Nutcracker’

Photo provided by the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre --  Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre's annual production, 'The Nutcracker -- A Tale from the Bayou,' presents the classic Tchaikovsky ballet with a Louisiana theme.

A real warmth comes into Alison Stroming’s voice. She’s just finished performing the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time with the New Jersey Ballet Company in Newark, New Jersey, and she feels like royalty. “It made me feel so beautiful,” she says. “I really do feel like a queen.”… Continue reading →

Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: A dog’s view of Christmas

From beneath a quilt on these dark December nights, I occasionally sense what sounds like sleigh bells, the music of Christmas faintly guiding me to sleep. But what I’m really hearing is what I hear throughout the year — the jingle, from the next room, of my terrier’s vaccination tag as he rolls over in his… Continue reading →

Christmas ‘do-it-meself’ gone awry

I love having a flocked Christmas tree. In 1978, I went to several tree lots looking for just the right one. They were pretty but cost more than my budget could handle. While attending an early Christmas party, my friend Faye said she had flocked her own tree. I… Continue reading →

About Town for Dec. 14, 2014

WHAT: Baton Rouge Concert Band concert WHEN: 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20 WHERE: Perkins Rowe shopping center, Baton Rouge INFORMATION: WHAT: Toy collections for U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program WHEN: Through Saturday, Dec. 20 WHERE: CC’s Coffee House locations… Continue reading →

Pam's Party Line for Dec. 14, 2014

. The holidays are a time of tradition for many. Several of my holiday traditions took place last week, putting me in the Christmas spirit. Christmas Tea The holidays means it’s time for my annual trek across the river for the Plaquemine Garden Club’s annual Christmas Tea, which I did Dec. 5. This year marked my 21st visit with this talented… Continue reading →

Manning’s ‘Batman’ details crusader’s development

'Batman: A Visual History' by Matthew K. Manning

“Batman: A Visual History” by Matthew K. Manning. DK Publishing, 2014. $50. Batman fans, rejoice! The visual history of the caped crusader is here! A foreword by Frank Miller, “The Dark Knight Returns,” is a fitting opening for a book that takes you from Batman’s humble beginning… Continue reading →

Book Events for Dec. 14, 2014

Book events HONEYKY HANUKAH STORYTIME: 11 a.m., Barnes & Noble Perkins Rowe, 10156 Perkins Rowe, Suite 150. A fun-filled story celebrating Hanukah with an accompanying CD. ANNUAL HOLIDAY FAMILY STORYTIME: 7 p.m., Jones Creek Regional Library, 6222 Jones Creek Road. Christmas books, stories songs… Continue reading →

Manship Marquee Award to be presented to Scherer

The 2014 Manship Marquee Award will be presented to Katherine Scherer at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday before the “Cool Winter Nights and Hot Jazz” performance in the Manship Theatre in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St. The award is presented each year to one person for extraordinary service to the Baton Rouge community through the… Continue reading →

Arts Calendar for Dec. 14, 2014

Here’s what’s going on this week in the area arts and cultural scene: The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s final Holiday Arts Market will be 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, Dec. 20, at Fifth Street near Main Street, downtown Baton Rouge. Admission is free. For more information, call (225) 344-8558. The Baton… Continue reading →

Patricia Gannon: Announcing 2014’s ‘Naughty List’

Society has always been my favorite crime, and 2014 was a very good year. Like the foreign gentleman who approached my daughter at a local restaurant. In our society, women may venture out alone and this does not spell loose. They are often waiting to have lunch with their American mothers, who make D-Day look like a… Continue reading →

Christmas kettle bells work hard to meet needs

Advocate photo by Mark H. Hunter -- This sign explains how donations to the Salvation Army help the needy.

The Christmas season is probably the most challenging time of the year for many families trying to pay the bills and feed the children and still put some gifts under the tree. That’s why the Salvation Army rings bells and collects donations in red kettles all across America to help. Capt. Brett R.… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: Walking with God through challenges

Stephanie and Phillip Robinson

Stephanie Robinson never expected her husband to die before her. Born with a hole in her heart 62 years ago, she wasn’t expected to live past age 36 and even today requires an oxygen supplement 24 hours a day to breathe. Her husband, Phillip, was a bodybuilder and plant worker who took yearly physicals and had no… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Dec. 13, 2014

The Chancel Choir of University United Methodist Church will perform a Service of Lessons and Carols with orchestra accompaniment at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the church sanctuary, 3350 Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge. Complimentary childcare will be provided.For more information, visit or call (225) 344-0343.

A NIGHT OF INTERCESSION & WORSHIP ... THE EXPERIENCE!: Shepherd’s Gate International Ministries, 6867 Van Gogh Ave. “THE ONLY CHRISTMAS PAGEANT IN TOWN”: 3 p.m., Jefferson Baptist Church, 9135 Jefferson Highway. An original holiday production by Jefferson Baptist. Free. DETERMINED OF BATON ROUGE MUSICAL: 6 p.m.,… Continue reading →

French-Creole cottage in Brusly shares roots with family way back to 1835

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR --The Hebert House, the Brusly home of Walter and Lucy Landry, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lucy Landry knew she lived in one of the oldest homes in Brusly, but it was only after abstractor Drew Gaudet researched the origins of the home did she discover that her roots to it go back more than 200 years. The home, known as the Hebert House, was built about 1835 facing… Continue reading →

Garden News: Treat Christmas trees as cut flowers

Photo by RICK BOGREN  Many Christmas trees are cut well in advance and shipped in, so choose carefully when shopping for a tree.

When you look around, you’ll find Christmas trees for sale in a variety of places — on lots, in nurseries and at big box stores. With so much emphasis on the Christmas tree as the centerpiece of holiday decorations, choosing the right tree is important. Fraser firs are quite popular these days. They have blunt needles… Continue reading →

Community column for Dec. 12, 2014

Photo provided by MELVIN KELLY -- Twilight Lodge -- Twilight Lodge 166 of Prince Hall Masons donated food to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank on Nov. 24. Shown are, from left, Past Worshipful Master Percy Jackson, Johnny Turner, Secretary Melvin Kelly, Worshipful Master Derian Demery, Henry Allen, J.B. Jackson and Treasurer Andrew Spears.

Franklin graduates from Army basic training Army Pvt. Davonne D. Franklin has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. Franklin is the son of Takita Franklin and grandson of David Franklin, of Baton Rouge, and is a 2014 graduate of McKinley Senior High School. Rucker graduates… Continue reading →

Volunteer column for Dec. 12, 2014

To learn more about these volunteer opportunities provided by Volunteer! United at Capital Area United Way, contact the listed agency directly. HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY, Volunteers of America — Greta Patterson, (225) 408-3781: Make someone feel special by engaging with the residents of our senior facility for a birthday… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Give the gift of cookbooks

Photo provided  --  Book jacket of Southern Living's 'Christmas All Through the South.'

Don’t panic — yet — if you haven’t decided on gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. If one (or more) of those names on that list belongs to an enthusiastic home cook or someone who likes to read cookbooks, you’re in luck. A wide variety of outstanding cookbooks and coffee table books featuring recipes are available this… Continue reading →

Wind Ensemble, choirs gather for Southern University holiday concert

Advocate staff  photo by JOHN OUBRE -- The Southern University Concert Chori will perform in the university's fourth annual

Everyone has their favorite Christmas tune, and for Southern University’s director of bands, it’s the Donny Hathaway classic “This Christmas.” Nathan Haymer so loves the song, he’s added it to the program for the Southern University Wind Ensemble’s fourth annual “Yuletide Gift of the Spirit” concert at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13.… Continue reading →

Pam’s Party Line for Dec. 10, 2014

There are 14 shopping days until Christmas and only 21 days left in the year. That means folks are starting to plan events for 2015. To make it easier to avoid conflicts, be sure and check out Pam’s Party Calendar online at Once you get your event date chosen, be… Continue reading →