Friday, August 21, 2015

Cosmic bowling, Clifton Steamboat Museum and Indian romance

Dress up and bowl.
I had a memorable time judging this past year’s Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Cosmic Costumed bowling tournament and now’s my chance to gather up a team and have your own blast. Companies worked together for themes that blew me away, like the Beverly Hillbillies. It’s a fundraiser that will bowl you over and the silent auction will be fabulous. To register your team for this event, Oct. 27 at MaxBowl, call Paige Snyder at 409-963-1107.

The Clifton Steamboat Museum (8727 Fannett Road, Beaumont, TX 77705) is hosting book reading and signing of Evangeline and the Mysterious Strangers, a new book by Phoebe Hambright Dishman, on Thursday, Sept. 10, from 6-8 p.m., in the Audubon Gallery of the Clifton Steamboat Museum. Evangeline and the Mysterious Strangers will be available for purchase at this event.

About the Author
Phoebe Hambright Dishman of Beaumont, Texas, is an avid birder and observer of natural life. She is also an essayist, poet, and certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church. The cover of the book features a red-shouldered hawk, a photograph she took on Christmas Day, 2009.

About the Book
Who are the mysterious strangers that regularly visit this quiet and unassuming street in Southeast Texas? Careful now. Things may not be as they appear. And the world you live in may be more mysterious than you think. In this collection of essays, the author expresses her amusement and enchantment with the enigmatic creatures in her own back yard on Evangeline Lane. For more information contact: or (409) 842-3162.

Contact: Sarah Wells at or (409) 842-3162.

 “The Accidental Wife”
Dal, kheer and paneer are words I already knew from “The Accidental Wife,” an Indian romance novel from Simi K. Rao. It’s no wonder, these words have to do with food: dal is a lentil I like made into a stew; kheer is a sweet rice pudding; and paneer is a cheese that melts in your mouth to calm fiery spices.
In this book a handsome, skilled and rich doctor feels family pressure to marry and arranges a wedding, but not the surprise he finds after nuptials. This book is so desi. That means means Indian, I learn from the glossary. This wife is chaloo, or very sly.
Action takes place in New York City, India and the suburban home of the doctor’s very involved family. It’s funny and very romantic. Here’s part of the promotional blurb:
“According to him wives and girlfriends are annoying accessories that one can do without. But when his mother dangles the sword over his head in classic Bollywood style, he succumbs, and sets out in search of a bride who would fit his ‘requirements’. But can Rihaan deal with what he gets instead?”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tenors and dressing for the Pecan Festival.

Lend Me A Tenor

Days later I’m still laughing from the Orange Community Players’ production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” one of those hide-in-the-closet, identity switch, slam-the-door classics that I’d heard about but never seen.
OCP’s cast was all-around great, but I’ll take a moment to brag on Jacob McMullin as the bellhop. Don’t let the fact that my daughter is related by marriage get in the way that he was hilarious as one of the characters willing to do anything just to meet the famous opera singer who has come to town.
In one scene a gaggle of people are being chased around a couch so that we forget who is circling who. The bellboy stops to take a photo of those behind (or was it in front of) him, and they vainly pose for a moment before resuming their antics.
Call (409)882-9137 for information regarding the Sunday, Aug. 23 matinee. 

How do pecan lovers dress?
Fashions in a Nutshell may have some boho chic looks for fall. Norma Jordan and Linda Foster of the Gulf Coast Sertoma Club say they’ve noted the look is trending as they’ve rounded up looks for this annual show. The club will present the Groves Pecan Festival’s fall style show at a new luncheon time. Get your $15 tickets from The Courtyard Café in Groves or call 963-8786. The show is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Café, 4321 Lincoln Ave., Groves.
Fashions will be by Hannah Bay’s, Shoogz, Oliver Maxwell’s and Dressin’ Up. Proceeds help the club offer scholarships and lend support to the Capland Center and Fetter’s Center. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Get into "girltrunks"

I wonder what actual percentage of the American female population actually enjoys shopping for and wearing swimsuits. Okay, let’s narrow the search to those over 25.
But hey, it’s summer in Southeast Texas and we have stuff to do. Sure there’s the resort pool, but there’s Sea Rim State Park and kayaking in Village Creek and boating up to the Neches River Wheelhouse. We have to look good!
Now women can get liberated with “girltrunks” that are lined like men’s trunks. Get out, I mean it. Get over to www.girltruks.comand see how simple a stylish, colorful suit can get. We deserve this. The shorts in different lengths snap shut, dry quickly and allow all sorts of modest movement. Girls just want to have fun, and these printed tops in great cuts pair with the basic black shorts. This brand gets women out and into the water (or deck chair or jet ski or sandy beach).

Leftover paint?
Have you ever heard of the Paint Quality Institute? It’s a real thing, and News reporter Mary Meaux tipped me off that readers of this quirky column might like the institute’s ideas for fun uses of leftover paint. I think she’s right. Let’s go with these:

*  Colorize some flowerpots.  Paint them one solid color, or embellish them with pattern for more panache.

* Dress up a dresser.  Have an old dresser that’s tired-looking? Spice it up with paint.  Use different colors on different parts for added visual interest.  Do the same with an old stool, table, or cabinet.

*  Rejuvenate “junk” furniture.  Check out your attic or your neighbors’ discards.  You might find hidden treasure in the form of a unique piece just pining for a fresh coat of paint.

* Put a stamp on your walls.  Add pizzazz to painted walls with a handcrafted patterned border.  Fashion a “stamp” out of an old sponge in the pattern of your choice, then dip it in the leftover paint and dab new color onto the walls.  Voila!  Custom design.

*  Speak with an accent.  Express your home’s individuality by adding accent color to a door, doorway, or an entire wall.  The unexpected color will make your interior something special.

*  Stencil something.  Using a homemade or commercial stencil, apply paint to just about anything – a piece of furniture, a wall, or even the floor.  It can render the ordinary, extraordinary.

* Make like an artist.  Why buy art supplies, when you already have a handpicked palette of colors you like?  Use them as is, or mix them as needed to create murals or fine art.
* Frame your artwork.  Repaint the frames on your prints, paintings, and drawings to give them a fresh appearance.  Or, paint a simulated “frame” right on the wall to draw attention to favorite objects or sculpture.

Most of these projects take just a small amount of paint, but they can make a big difference in your home décor. For how-to information on these and other paint projects, visit the Paint Quality Institute blog at

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to Feed a Flock of Seagulls

How to feed the seagulls 101
         I was so sad when I heard people in Houston don’t ride the ferry to Galveston. I just didn’t know.
         As a kid, that ferry ride was at least as much fun as the island. Feeding the birds was the tops. Going with my family was fun because Grandma would be so funny about holding her hand just so in case anything decided to jump off of her into the water.
         Later I went with my high school friends and it was always fun to toss your bread so that maybe a seagull would try to eat it from the top of their head. Now that’s free fun, folks.
         This is a memory of seagulls all along our beautiful Texas Coast. I ran into some in the Bolivar area who followed me down the block, from the highway to the water. The thing is, I didn’t want to feed them in front of someone’s cabin driveway if that was not considered kosher. Maybe people who live there don’t find a flock of seagulls as much fun as I do. So, I tried to coax them a little at a time. It worked.
         When I felt I could feed freely, I pulled out my secret weapon. A bag of tortilla chips my mom sent with me from her Mexican take-out. Here’s the lesson, if you didn’t know:
         Tortilla chips can sail with the wind for amazing catches.
         Also, you can crumple them up to make one chip become dozens of chip dust that will send those birds into a frenzy. Fun!
         If you haven’t been to the beach yet this summer, may I suggest Sea Rim State Park. While you’re at it, vote for it as your favorite state park on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation site.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bread box full of recipes cooks up memories

         Esther Macha from The cherry Tree Florist in Port Neches told me she got a metal box full of recipes at an estate sale. Since several Port Arthur News cookbooks were inside, she thought I’d enjoy perusing them.
         I did. I picked them up at the store on Port Neches Avenue. If you haven’t been down there in a while, go shopping at all the interesting shops. It’s a trip back in time, just like opening this bread box was.
         Several Clarion-Ledger  “Women” sections were in the stacks. These Mid-‘70s editions featured about 20 pages heavy on recipes and club news. Consider homemade croutons for a holiday hostess gift was one tip. Top-Value stamps were one store’s premium and Falstaff Beer was just a tiny amount for a six-pack. Why pay $1.69? asked the ad.
         The Bicentennial was coming up in one February section and patriotic cherry dishes were encouraged. A story focused on Dutch apple cake in these times of rising food costs. There was a reduced amount of high-cost sugar in this one.
          When I was young my mother said she enjoyed reading recipe books. I considered recipes to be measures and methods. While I liked to cook and eat, I didn’t figure how she got pleasure from cookbooks. Later I realized the notes around the measures make the recipe into a story of the times, the bounty or scarcity of the ingredients and the people who season it all. These clippings told me about the writers, the shoppers and the people who would have tried these recipes decades ago. They certainly told me about the woman who saved them in a bread box.
         I hope she made the great majority of them, and didn’t just save them for “someday.”
         For several years I ran the News recipe contest, a happy task I inherited from Jill Hathaway who got it from Jane Covington. I saw those bylines in the clippings and then my own. In the 1995 recipe book, Janet M. Doyle is on the cover for her winning Sea-Creamed Peas recipe which featured shrimp and whipping cream.
         I know several people have told me they saved the recipe books made from the yearly contest. I hope they are still creating the winners for their families and friends.
         Maybe nowdays many of your recipes are gleaned from Facebook. No worries, as long as you keep cooking. The hearth is where the heart is.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Adapting and being a dad

My bad school supplies
Debbie Lynn has MS and all the problems that come with it. When her Godmother suggested that as long as she needed crutches they may as well be cherry red, then Lynn started thinking of solutions and adaptability and came up with Adaptolution. Now she thinks everyone should decorate their personal space. So you have fine line markers, giant erasers that say “my bad,” giant paper clips, nose shaped pencil sharpeners and tacks with “googly” eyes. Did I mention winky face sticky notes and how vivid the oolors are? Go to to learn more, read her blog and start decorating.

* “Just Be A Dad”
George Cave, Ph.D., is basically telling fathers that they have to “know when to fold them.” Why talk to a teen with some “why” questions when you actually want some different answers.
This book is full of good advice for being a good, listening husband and father and it would make a great gift for a brand-new father. Unfortunately those who may need it most may not be willing to get all into it. There comes that listening part again.
Try to hear what a child is trying to say and then allow that child to make his or her own decisions as much as possible.  That’s just a tiny bit of thinking from this author. It’s a Tignor Publishing issue.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why We Love Port Arthur

Diann Bayes of TTIA, left, presents Darragh Doiron Castillo with a Certified Travel Executive certificate.
Why we love Port Arthur
         A Judice’s burger on the seawall, Pleasure Island views and pink Pompeiian Villa are some of my favorite Port Arthur things. I want to share them with everyone and now I have a certification to help me do it better.
         First of all, Port Arthur fans, I’d love you to put down The Port Arthur News for just a moment and dash to your computer to like the Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau Facebook page. Your payoff? Beautiful views and news of fun in our city. Like and comment on the postings and share them with friends and family who are headed our way and who love Port Arthur, too.
         My “real’ job is promoting the area through the Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Bureau’s website,, has blogs on our great offerings, such as kayaking at Sea Rim State Park and Museum of the Gulf Coast exhibits. There’s also hotel and restaurant listings, fishing guides and things to do to keep our visitors coming back. Look into it if you’ve never seen it. Sign up for our newsletter.
         Four years ago I changed roles. After reporting at Port Arthur News for 23 years,  I now represent the bureau and promote our assets  to visitors and potential guests. They come to our area to fish, bird, work and dine.
         Thanks to The News for keeping my Culinary Thrill Seeking and Sounds Good columns running. I love hearing how readers use the information.
         The PACVB website is to encourage residents to love Port Arthur and realize what great coastal options we have. This summer, call up friends and family to come down for vacation and again, like the bureau Facebook page and be a part of sharing our good news.
         I’ve attended Travel & Tourism College over the years and graduated as a Certified Tourism Executive. The Texas Travel Industry Association organizes this “college” as a coming-together of professors, travel professionals and experts who make presentations  in everything from trends and markets to positively outrageous service.  I’ve stayed in Denton dorms and other destinations and learned how other Texas cities attract visitors. I believe everybody already loves Texas, and there’s always more to learn and see.
         My capstone project focused on community ambassadorship. I’m also proud to wear the bright blue jacket of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. I know our spirit and know y’all can help spread the Port Arthur love.  We’ve got Cajun food, festivals, music, fishing, birding and boating. What’s not to love?
         Now, if didn’t already do it, go like the Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau page and follow us on Pinterest and Twitter.  Sea ya in Port Arthur!

About Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA)
The Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) is a non-profit organization made up of businesses, organizations, associations and individuals dedicated to developing Texas tourism to its fullest potential. TTIA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Texas by strengthening travel and tourism. For more information about the Texas Travel Industry Association, visit or contact the office in Austin at (512) 328-8842.