Big Freedia’s weekly Garden Cookout in City Park is more about Freedia than food | Keith Spera

The focus of Big Freedia’s Garden Cookout is, in descending order of priority, Big Freedia, the garden and the actual cookout.

Since July, Freedia, the multiplatform Queen Diva of Bounce, has presided over a weekly cooking-themed webcast at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park’s Kitchen in the Garden pavilion. The Friday night events are livestreamed on Freedia’s social media outlets.

The Garden Cookout expands on Freedia’s popular Sunday morning at-home cooking webcast and replaces some touring income lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Forty spectators seated at socially distanced tables each pay $90, or $120 to sit at one of the front tables. Tickets must be purchased through EventBrite in blocks of at least two, to fill tables with self-contained groups.

Freedia’s cottage industry, built from the ground up after years of toil on the New Orleans club circuit, encompasses recording, touring, an autobiography, branded bubbly and aprons, collaborations with the likes of Beyoncé and six seasons of a Fuse network reality show, alternately titled “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” and “Big Freedia Bounces Back,” from 2013 to 2017.

If the Oct. 2 Garden Cookout was typical, chatting and cutting up take precedence over actual cooking.



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Fans “wiggle” to Big Freedia’s music during Big Freedia’s Garden Cookout at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.




Early arrivals, wearing mandatory face masks, were escorted through the lovely Botanical Garden — it’s even more enchanting at night — to the brightly lit Kitchen in the Garden. Completed last fall, the open-air kitchen pavilion hosts culinary-themed educational and social events.

From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., attendees patronized a cash bar while DJ Juane Jordan spun music. Freedia appeared in a sequined facemask, glittering purple pants and a custom chef’s coat bearing the image of his late, beloved mother, Vera, going quickly from table to table to pose for pictures.

And then it was show time. As cameras streamed the action on Facebook Live, Freedia, whose charisma translates well to the small screen, held court from behind the stove. A trio of friends, including longtime sidekick and dancer Tootie Tootz, provided running commentary from a corner of the countertop.



Big Freedia on her City Park cooking series and live-streaming from the kitchen

Big Freedia’s “Garden Cookout” series continues on Thursdays at City Park through August. The Queen Diva also live-streams the cooking demonstration on social media.

Freedia’s sister, Crystal, was in attendance with her young daughter. The Oct. 2 show celebrated the 60th birthday of Vera, who died of cancer in 2014, as well as the birthday of Devon, Freedia’s boyfriend.

(Freedia, who is fine with both masculine and feminine pronouns, recently wrote in the online magazine The Root, “I was born male and remain male — physically, hormonally and mentally. But I am a gay male. Some folks insist I have to be trans, but I don’t agree. I’m gender nonconforming, fluid, nonbinary. If I had known the ‘queen’ in Queen Diva would cause so much confusion, I might have called myself

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Transgender interior designer Felycya Harris shot to death in Georgia park / LGBTQ Nation

Felycya Harris

Felycya HarrisPhoto: Facebook

A 33-year-old transgender interior designer was found shot to death this past Saturday in Augusta, Georgia.

Felycya Harris’s body was found after 1 p.m. at a city park with one gunshot wound. An autopsy on Monday classified her death as a homicide.

Related: US Marine who murdered a transgender woman was just pardoned

“I went outside and we were just sitting in the car, laughing and talking and jiving on each other” before her death, her friend Ricola Collier told WRDW.

She is the 31st known transgender or non-binary person killed this year in the U.S., according to HRC, in what has become one of the most violent years on record for transgender people. The number is believed to be higher as many murders are not reported in the media and many victims who are transgender or non-binary are misgendered in media reports.

Most of the victims this year have been Black and latina transgender women.

“With news of the death of Felycya Harris, we have hit a grim milestone: we have now matched the highest number of transgender or gender non-conforming people who were victims of fatal violence in one year – and there are three more months left in the year,” said HRC President Alphonso David.

According to the organization, Harris ran her own interior decorating business and said she could do “just about anything with decorating” to make people feel better in their living spaces. She also worked at a furniture store and taught dance.

Her friends said they will remember her “laugh. The smile – the smiles. The talks. The arguments. The attitudes. Everybody is going to remember who Felycya Harris is.”

According to the Augusta Chronicle, friends and family are sharing “Justice for Felycya” posts on Facebook. Police have not yet said if they have a suspect.

At least two other transgender women were murdered in the past two weeks. Mia Green, 29, of Philadelphia, Louisiana was found shot in the neck on September 28 and later died at the hospital.

Abdullah Ibn El-Amin Jaamia, in whose car Green’s body was found, has been arrested in connection to her death.

In Los Angeles, 42-year-old Daniela Hernandez was stabbed in the throat Sunday night after she was surrounded by a group of men in a park who told her “something to the effect of, ‘We don’t want gays in the park,’” according to LAPD.

“We don’t know exactly why, but we know it was simply because she’s trans,” said TransLatina Coalition President and CEO Bamby Salcedo.

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Farmhouse Kitchen makes its Peninsula debut with new Menlo Park location

Thai restaurant Farmhouse Kitchen has found a new home in Menlo Park.

On Wednesday, chef-owner Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang and co-owner Ling Chatterjee launched their soft opening, where they have begun to offer indoor and patio dining in addition to takeout and delivery.

An imaginative interior has been set up inside the space at 1165 Merrill St. where golden chandeliers hang over a long dining table and colorful flowers adorn the walls.

ALSO: We shadowed a restaurant server for a full shift. This is their new normal.

Regulars of the Oakland and San Francisco locations know that the attention to detail inside the restaurant transfers over to the food itself. The Menlo Park location will have a similar menu to the Oakland and S.F. locations; you can find its vibrant blue rice served with the popular Hat Yai fried chicken.

The Farmhouse Kitchen in Menlo Park will be the fifth restaurant for Saengsawang and Chatterjee. They also have a location in Portland and a Farmhouse Kitchen Express in San Leandro. According to Palo Alto Online, owner Saengsawang plans to be present at the Menlo Park location after recently moving to the area.

ALSO: After selling $6 sandwiches for 21 years, this Lower Haight deli needs help


The opening also comes about a week after San Mateo County moved into Tier 2 of California’s four-tired color system. Indoor dining has been reintroduced to the county after banning it earlier this summer. Restaurants can now accommodate diners indoors at 25% capacity.

Farmhouse Kitchen will be open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch. Dinner service begins Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend hours are Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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San Francisco’s Farmhouse Kitchen opens glitzy Thai restaurant in Menlo Park, indoor dining included | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany

San Francisco Thai restaurant Farmhouse Kitchen has opened a glitzy new location in Menlo Park, offering limited indoor and outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.

Farmhouse Kitchen has revamped the 4,000-square-foot space at 1165 Merrill St., across from the Caltrain station, decking it out with opulent decorations (including handmade gold Thai chandeliers and flower wall), a private dining room, a lounge area with velvet chairs and gleaming full bar. The restaurant opened barely a week after San Mateo County announced that indoor dining could resume at 25% capacity or with 100 people, whichever is fewer.


The ornate dining room at Farmhouse Kitchen in Menlo Park. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

But the “new normal guidelines” for dining in at Farmhouse Kitchen includes a health screening, temperature check, masks required when diners aren’t eating or drinking and parties of no more than six people with reservations capped at 90 minutes. The restaurant also charges a $3 “COVID-19 sanitation fee” per table.

Kasem Saengsawang, a native of Thailand, opened his first Farmhouse Kitchen in San Francisco in 2015. The restaurant was inspired by the food he ate and cooked growing up in Loei, a rural province in northeast Thailand, but he spent much of his adult years in Bangkok.

Saengsawang now runs five restaurants, including one in Portland, Oregon. He recently moved to Menlo Park so plans to be a frequent presence at this location.


A Farmhouse Kitche appetizer: sesame-crusted ahi tuna with cucumber, seaweed salad, lemongrass and spicy chili lime. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

Saengsawang describes his cooking style as “contemporary.” The Farmhouse Kitchen Menlo Park menu spans Northern and Southern Thailand, including dishes like pineapple fried rice, lobster pad thai, 24-hour beef noodle soup and slow-braised short rib served with panang curry, a dish the menu says is “reminiscent” of the large childhood meals Saengsawang would cook in Thailand for his family.


The “Little Lao table set,” a $120 chef’s choice meal set that includes numerous dishes and drinks, is available at the Menlo Park location. Photo courtesy Farmhouse Kitchen.

Desserts include mango sticky rice, Thai tea crepe cake and the very Instagrammable “Thai vacation,” a halved coconut filled with sticky rice, coconut ice cream, coconut cream, peanuts and sesame, garnished with a brightly colored drink umbrella.

The Menlo Park restaurant also serves cocktails, beer and wine.

Farmhouse Kitchen is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

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DEP sets public hearing date for Liberty State Park ‘interior’ plan

The state Department of Environmental Protection has set 6 p.m. Oct. 20 as the time and date for the public hearing on its proposed plan for 234 acres of currently fenced-off land in Liberty State Park.

The hearing will be conducted virtually. Anyone wishing to attend must register by Oct. 15 by going to njdepcalendar.com/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=654.

Registrants will receive more details and a link to the virtual meeting.

Designers who have been working on a proposal for the land, known as the park’s “interior,” are at the 30 percent complete mark, triggering the need for the hearing. There, the DEP will present the preliminary design proposal, and attendees will be able to submit comments and ask questions. The DEP will also accept comments via an online survey.

In a news briefing last month, DEP officials gave a broad overview of its plan to remediate the contamination that exists in the interior and restore its wetlands with passive recreation and trails to improve access to the park.

The plan has already generated heated debate over the extent of contamination cleanup envisioned and the design.

Once the public comment period ends, the DEP will be tasked with deciding the next steps.

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Garden of the Gods receives donation for park advancement | Colorado Springs News

Improvements to the Garden of the Gods are on the horizon after the park received a hefty donation earlier in September, a city news release announced Wednesday.

The Garden of the Gods Foundation, a local nonprofit that oversees the betterment of the park by collecting money and distributing it to support the park’s needs, gave $367,826 to enhance public safety, visitor experience and restroom construction.

“This is such a great example of community organizations working together toward a common goal, which in this case, is enhancing and protecting Garden of the Gods Park for the enjoyment of generations to come,” Karen Palus, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director, said in the release.

A chunk of the donation, $102,000, will go toward the park ranger program such as staff salaries, John Stark, the parks manager said.

Park rangers are key to protecting the park and its environmental philosophy, Stark said, as well as providing educational programming and services for visitors.

Another portion of the donation will go toward restroom construction within the park, Stark said, although more fundraising is needed before construction can begin.

A bulk of funding came from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, including money generated from the park gift shop and café, Stark said.

The visitors center was shut down from mid-March through May because of the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened to the public in June.

Despite the temporary closure, the nonprofit was still able to give back.

“We’re really fortunate to have the relationships with the Garden of the Gods Foundation,” Stark said. “They’re just such wonderful partners for the city.”

 

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Annual NARI Home & Remodeling Show starts Oct. 16 at State Fair Park

The annual NARI Home & Remodeling Show will be slightly smaller this year as the coronavirus pandemic keeps more people at home and interested in making improvements. 



a person standing in front of a building: Trent Kosik from Window Select in Menomonee Falls paints the doors of a 'She Shed' that will be on display at the Nari Milwaukee Spring Home Improvement Show at Wisconsin State Fair Park this weekend.


© Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Trent Kosik from Window Select in Menomonee Falls paints the doors of a ‘She Shed’ that will be on display at the Nari Milwaukee Spring Home Improvement Show at Wisconsin State Fair Park this weekend.

NARI Milwaukee is hosting its home and remodeling show Oct. 16-18 at State Fair Park. 

Around 70 NARI Milwaukee members will host exhibit booths. Last year, more than 100 members staffed exhibit booths. The home and remodeling show has exhibitors for all types of remodeling and home improvement products and services. 

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“We’re excited to connect homeowners who are eager to get their home improvements underway with local contractors. By hosting a safe and accessible show, we’re helping reopen the economy and support area small businesses,” said Diane Welhouse, executive director of NARI Milwaukee, in a news release. “Nearly 80% of our members are small businesses with fewer than 10 employees so the annual show is important to them.” 

With people staying at home more during the pandemic, NARI members have said that business is good even though some segments of the economy are seeing significant declines as a result of COVID’s effect on business.  

“Today’s home is working overtime as adults and children are using it as their restaurant, office, classroom, entertainment spot and vacation destination,” Welhouse said in the release. “NARI Milwaukee members report many homeowners are looking to improve, repurpose and expand their space due to these increased demands.” 

Changes if you plan on attending

The show will have a limited capacity with one-way aisles to enforce social distancing. All exhibitors and attendees will be required to wear face coverings, in compliance with a statewide mask mandate. 

“As a premier trade organization, we’ve always been a leader in the community and are, once again, taking the lead by demonstrating we can host a safe, in-person Home & Remodeling Show this October,” Welhouse said in the release. 

NARI Milwaukee will also host a few events on Facebook live for people who would rather attend the show virtually. 

The NARI Home & Remodeling Show is in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion at State Fair Park Oct. 16-18. Tickets are $5. Admission for children age 17 and younger and people with a military ID is free. 

Sarah Hauer can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @HauerSarah and Twitter @SarahHauer. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter Be MKE at jsonline.com/bemke. 

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Annual NARI Home & Remodeling Show starts Oct. 16 at State Fair Park

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Theory Design completes interior for Monterey model in Talis Park

Theory Design’s Vice President of Design Ruta Menaghlazi has completed the finishing touches for the interior design of Seagate Development Group’s Monterey model in the Isola Bella neighborhood at Talis Park in North Naples that is now open for viewing and purchase.  One of Talis Park’s most coveted neighborhoods, Isola Bella is 4.5-acre enclave of 17 single-family waterfront homes being developed by Seagate.  Thirteen homesites remain available.  Seagate is offering a full golf membership worth $97,500 with new home purchases and newly constructed custom residences at Isola Bella for a limited time.  Ruta also created the interior for Seagate’s completed Sonoma model in Isola Bella that is now under contract.  The neighborhood’s homesites can accommodate custom estate residences from 3,500 to more than 5,000 square feet.



a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Theory Design’s Vice President of Design Ruta Menaghlazi created the interior design of Seagate Development Group’s Sonoma model that is now under contract in the Isola Bella neighborhood at Talis Park in North Naples.


© Submitted
Theory Design’s Vice President of Design Ruta Menaghlazi created the interior design of Seagate Development Group’s Sonoma model that is now under contract in the Isola Bella neighborhood at Talis Park in North Naples.

Before entering the Monterey model, visitors are greeted by a cascading entry water feature.  Once inside, they will be welcomed by a stunning Steinway piano.  Priced at $3.995 million furnished, the two-story, 4,414 square feet under air model includes a foyer that leads to a sitting area, a wine room, a powder bath, a VIP guest suite, and an elevator.  Beyond the sitting area, the plan features a great room, a dining area with a  wet bar and built-in cabinetry, and an island kitchen with a walk-in pantry and laundry area.  The living area opens to an outdoor living space with a view of a lake, oak trees, and a dramatic bridge. The outdoor space features a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, an outdoor kitchen, covered conversation and casual dining areas, a pool bath, and a multi-level deck with a spill-over pool and spa.  Upstairs, the master suite and a loft opens to a sundeck showcasing a scenic view.  The master suite features walk-in closets and a bath with separate water closets, separate vanities, a free-standing tub, and a walk-in shower.  Two guest suites with private baths and a second laundry room are included upstairs.

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The Monterey presents a modern coastal feeling with soft neutral grey and white backgrounds, dark walnut, natural oak and ebony accents, and warm wire-brushed oak flooring.  The clean-lined interior features reversed-soffit ceiling details with cove lighting in the living areas. The staircase includes cable and iron railings. The home’s landscaped entry sequence features a soothing water feature.  A double door opens to a foyer with a two-story ceiling, an open staircase leading to an open loft, and an elevator.  The foyer also provides points of entry to a VIP guest suite, a walk-in pantry and laundry room with built-in cabinetry and a refrigerator, and the three-car garage.  A sitting room situated between the foyer and the great room features a reverse soffit ceiling and a view of a glass encased walk-in wine room. 

The Monterey’s first floor living area includes a

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A Rotary Moment: Lorrie Parker Garden, Morris Garden 2 additions to Montgomery’s Memory Park

September rains bring lots of green grass and lush foliage in Memory Park!

Memory Park in Montgomery, located behind the Charles B Stewart West Branch Library, is a beautiful site at any time, but particularly so after a rain. The birds are everywhere, the fish are jumping and the plants enjoy the drenching. I’m wondering if the family of rabbits who were there at opening still reside on the east side around Rainbow Bridge Garden – mom, we’ll have to check that out.

There have been several additions to the park this year. We’ll highlight two of them today and save the others for next week.

Rotarians Lorrie and Gary Parker, who were among the first to purchase bricks in the Rose Garden prior to opening day in 2005, recently saw work on their family garden completed. They created the “Lorrie Parker Garden” in memory of Lorrie’s dad, Wilbur Rowe and her mom, Geraldine “Jerry” Rowe. “I am from Ohio” said Lorrie, “as were my parents, and when my dad passed, of course, he was buried as was my mom, in Ohio. I wanted to have a special place here in Texas just for my parents. Memory Park is the perfect place because not only does it have a lake but it also adjoins the library. Growing up, our summers were spent at our lake house cottage in Michigan. During my high school years, my parents and I were visiting colleges back when I was trying to decide which school to go to. At each school, my dad insisted on going to each of the school’s libraries. The bench that was placed at my parent’s area faces the library. I hope that the special place at Memory Park brings some peace to those who have lost a loved one or maybe going through a difficult time. I know it does for me. Just walking around Memory Park lifts the weight of any burdens I may have and a sense of calmness wraps around me like a warm blanket in a cold winter.” The view of the park and the library from that location is beautiful indeed, and when the flags are up, their reflection in the water adds an additional breathtaking dimension. The garden includes a “witches cauldron” that belonged to Lorrie’s mom. Gary helped installed drip lines to the pots to water the plants. Also in the garden is a stone for Lorrie’s Dad, which declares “He Sang It Like He Lived – With All His Heart” followed by the words to the beautiful “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

The second garden is called “The Morris Garden” and is the creation of Christina and Bill Rathbun. Jack Morris, Christina’s ex and the father of her two sons, passed away earlier this year after battling a chronic condition for a long time. Six months later, the family lost Jason, the older of the two sons, from a sudden heart attack. Jack was great friends with Bill and remained a

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Bancroft Park becomes finalist in bathroom competition | Colorado Springs News

The TikTok-famous, $300,000 self-cleaning public restrooms in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park are once again gaining attention after placing as a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest.

Among 10 finalists, The Bancroft Park bathrooms includes ADA-compliant options, lights that indicate stall availability and hand-wave activated appliances. Plus, park maintenance is alerted by an app when supplies are running low. But above all, the bathrooms are automatically self-cleaned after every 30 uses.


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Not only are the restrooms tidy, the doors open with the push of a button. But be ready — once you enter you have 10 minutes to do your business before the door starts a final countdown and automatically opens.

Other finalists in the competition include restrooms across the country at hotels, airports, and restaurants. 


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“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of clean restrooms to the forefront, we’re proud to spotlight these unique and well-maintained restrooms that provide comfortable spaces for guests,” Sean Mulcahey, marketing manger of Cintas, the competition’s organizer, said.

The competition’s winner, which will be decided by a public vote at www.bestrestroom.com/us, will receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom service and $2,500 in cleaning services from Cintas.


Colorado Springs installing new meters downtown where parking had been free

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