Mike and Elaine Cammarosano never know who's coming over for Sunday lunch. Or, for that matter, who will show up for Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas or every LSU football game.

And it doesn't really matter.

Life at the Cammarosanos is one big party meal, and their friends have a lifetime invitation.

Everything centers around the kitchen and den.

"Mike does all the Italian cooking. I do the Cajun," said Elaine Cammarosano, a registered nurse who works for the Louisiana State Police. "I don't know how to cook anything that serves fewer than eight people."

Mike Cammarosano has a long career in professional firefighting including serving as a fire chief and assistant state fire marshal. After retiring, he worked for several years in public relations for T.J. Moran at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. 

The kitchen at the couple's Magnolia Woods home is designed for entertaining with a center island, a serving area with seating and a bar handmade in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Elaine Cammarosano, whose father worked for an international oil company, lived there for several years while growing up. 

Adjoining the kitchen is the den, which has a vaulted ceiling with cypress beams, a brick fireplace and wide-plank hardwood floors. There's plenty of comfortable seating when a crowd gathers, which is often.

The dining room also opens to the kitchen and has a New Orleans-style courtyard. 

In the backyard, a deck brings the entertaining outside. There's a table and chairs, a swing and a hot tub.


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Elaine Cammarosano loves color, so each season she plants masses of blooming plants especially in the summer and early fall, when the yard is filled with vinca in varying shades. 

For a long time, the backyard was too shady for such plantings.

"We had a grand oak tree in the center, but (hurricanes) Andrew and Gustav took care of that," she said.

With newfound sun, Elaine Cammarosano started her Easter basket garden.

"Every spring, I put in tons of big, colored flowers," she said. "I plant so they will be in bloom for Easter."

The couple also plants both spring and fall vegetable gardens in four 40-foot rows. The vegetables blend in with the blooming plants.

There are more than 30 tomato plants of several varieties including Roma for making and putting up tomato sauce. They plant enough cucumbers and peppers to make at least 50 jars of bread-and-butter pickles and hot pickles. 

Another bed is filled with cantaloupes, and an LSU purple fig tree thrives in a back corner of the yard.

"I get 90 pints of fig preserves from that tree every year," Elaine Cammarosano said. "We pick twice a day."

One side of the couple's yard is a garden they call "Shangri-La" because it is filled with tropical plants, including bananas and plantains. Two reclining chairs and piped-in music make it the perfect spot for a late-afternoon glass of wine. 

Interspersed among the blooming plants are many fruit trees, including pear, peach, satsuma and a Key lime.

"We plant all of these things to make ourselves as self-sufficient as possible," Elaine Cammarosano said. 

As beautiful as the garden is during the day, it's breathtaking at night with torches among the plants and hundreds of white lights in all of the trees and bushes. At Christmas, they add thousands of more lights.

"I am a bling freak," she said.