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.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Library has books!

Goodness knows my husband loves his library for movie rentals. Patrons are always using the computers.
I take lunch breaks reading magazines at the Port Arthur Public Library. Once I read all the way around the rack, the next month’s issues are out and I start all over again.
The other day something caught my eye. Books! Crazy, I know. I’ve always noticed the seasonal displays of books in the center aisle, on my way back to the magazines. I picked one up on hydro gardening and went through that rotation. These got me full of ideas on how to decorate my potted patio garden.
Summer reading clubs were part of my youth and I passed that love to my daughter. Southeast Texas has great libraries in all our cities. Visit one soon!

Summer at the pool
Ever heard of a rash shirt? Or Tom & Teddy, the Australian-based swim wear line? Dads and sons can match in high-quality trunks this summer.
In some cases, the hand-me-down trunks are all you need, but it’s possible the men in your life have never enjoyed the luxury of a Tom & Teddy. Mine hadn’t until the red and blue octopus print arrived. These trunks are sleek and soft and offer these perks:
•  UV protected, salt water and chlorine resistant
•  Quick drying microfiber fabric that's super soft
•  Fresh, vibrant pops of color and adventurous patterns
This is resort wear. Cruise wear. Beach wear. Not planning on any of that? They’re still going to feel and look amazing fishing down the road or in the yard with the sprinkler going. These trunks call for bonding time in the sun and sand.
From looking online I’ve learned that rash tops or “rashers” are what surfers like to wear to protect themselves from the sun. This line of rash tops each have UPF 50+, which protects from 98% of the sun's intense rays. So, when vacation is over, Dad can rash on while mowing the lawn.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Don't Mess with Pleasure Island


This is why you don’t Mess With Texas
Who knew one of the biggest challenges of picking up trash is keeping your bag open?
Tiffany Hamilton of the Port Arthur City Council arranged a Saturday morning cleanup of Pleasure Island. Her family, island residents and others who want to keep the area looking nice picked up water bottles, beer cans, fishing paraphernalia and random items of interest to get the levee and pier area looking good. 
Empty bags filled with wind and fought us until they were partially loaded, there was heat, ants and scratchy plants. There was a lot of love put in there and then there was lunch at Sharky’s Grill. A tasty reward.
Hamilton’s mother, known at Honey, makes an orange safety vest look good. She maintained high energy while working hard. She got philosophical while clamping that refuse with her trash stick and said we tend to get back and give as far as the environment goes. Naturally, we want people to enjoy Sabine Lake for fishing, birding and views, so we should keep it clean.
Carolyn Worsham does her own cleanup all the time. She has sports a vest that says Trash Patrol. Worsham points out that a whole lot of waste was on the ground within a few feet of a provided trash can.
Don’t mess with Pleasure Island.
Hamilton is ready to do this Helping Hands project again. To join in, contact Tiffany L. Hamilton at 409-300-5791,

No.2 in Jet
         Beards go way beyond hipsters, but I sure like that they’ve brought product and grooming back to the facial hair lovers community. Are you into it so much that you need a razor strop? Bison Made has you covered.
         Look up this Phoenix-based studio at to see how they’ve been using aromatic Chromexcel leather tanned by Horween in Chicago.
         I’m holding a sleek No. 2 wallet in jet black that’s designed to stash credit and business cards with cash for a slim fit in the pocket. These may be designed for men, but the look is classic and the bison stamp makes it old-school and timely and classic all at once. Did I mention the rich, leathery smell? This is 100 percent leather with no linings, rubber or glue and a lifetime warranty on stitching. It’s handcrafted in the U.S.A. and ready to use for everything and pass along to future generations. It holds what you need to bring to the pool or the club and won't bulk up your wasteline.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Peggy's on the Bayou

Peggy's on the Bayou
Googling is kind of like today's version of throwing a dart on the map to decide where to go.
That's how we wound up at Peggy's on East Roundbunch Road in the Orange area. The phone indicated it was near our destination and we pulled up a menu offering pistolets. I was soon parking in the shell lot and ordering a soft shell crab poor boy.
After my husband and I shared the piping hot crawfish pistolet, we shared tge sandwich, which I disassembled so as to get a good look at the fried crab. It's legs were like crispy bites of air. Then I got a body bite with the jalapeƱo bread, sauces and my added Tabasco. Heaven.
I was hoping the server would not come around during my final few bites. I wanted no distractions. When she did come to collect a very empty plate, she noted she had enjoyed watching me enjoy that poor boy.
Peggy's really is right on the water and there was some boat traffic. Be sure to go out the back door to the screened-in area, but don't go through the second door or you'll be IN the bayou.

A great Depression read
I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard people recall details of The Great Depression. Betty Reed has written “The Winds of Time,” a “largely autobiographical” work detailing her life and travels through Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. Families were displaces and living whenever they could. I can’t imagine living with relatives who seemed to watch every bite I’d take. Food was just one thing that was scarce.
The author is very good at memories like the texture of a biscuit and the details of ornate silver tableware. Dorrance Publishing Co. has released this collection, that thankfully comes with lots of photos of this woman’s storied life.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lady Bird Johnson's wildflower legacy


Lady  Bird’s legacy
I officially get why artists want to paint bluebonnets. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has made me even more Texas proud, if that is possible. Maybe climbing the tower for a panoramic view was my favorite, or coming across exercise equipment in an open field of flowers, or noting how the visitors center had just-picked fresh flowers so you’d know just what you were observing.
The gift shop is cool, too, and would you believe that way down Austin way, I heard my name called and there was a woman from Orange.

Summer health and beauty
Hope you’re absorbing everything from road trip adventures to the proper amount of fun-in-the sun, with sunscreen, of course. Here’s some summer health and beauty finds to enhance your indulgence time:
* Wet Brush: Just holding the smooth bamboo and evergreen wood of  Wet Brush Earth feels calming. It’s personal time. I could bond with it. A hairbrush is an everyday tool many don’t consider replacing. Inspect yours for age, sanitation and durability. Use Wet Brush in the shower. It’s also good for dry brushing of  you and wigs and extensions. Proceeds go toward Charity: Water – an organization that brings clean drinking water to communities in developing countries. 
            What a brush and what a cause, but wait, there’s more. Wet Brush USA lets you  detangle for the Stars and Stripes. That’s in the press materials, I didn’t make that up. This plastic brush with patriotic markings also has bristles of ease and 20 percent of sales support Wounded Warrior Project. Time to replace your brushes? Take a look at these options.

* Rootology sent me samples of Breathe Free, fast-acting, non-drowsy nasal and sinus relief to help with congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. Rootology makers say they offer a relatively new product, a blend of 13 powerful herbal extracts that are gaining traction within the yoga and fitness communities. Aside from cinnamon twig (for unblocking phlegm in the chest and Magnolia Flower, for 0pening nasal passages and relieving headaches,  many of the 13 extracts are new to me, such as ledebouriella root, for itchy nose and eyes. They come in capsules. When you can breathe again, get moving.

* Whish has added an ULTA exclusive Blue Agave variety and they’ve done a great job with Three Whishes Sugar Scrub, featuring raspberry seed and organic bamboo powder. Well, that’s new. There’s more good stuff in the brown sugar mix you can’t wait to rub in. A body oil with olive leaf extract and jojoba seed oil feels so good on skin that had a tad too much sun. The bottle pumps out soothing moisture. Ever tried Whish Shave Savour Hair Inhibiting Gel? Less Fuzz, Smoother Skin is what they promise. It’s designed for that after sun or after shave and after wax hydration. Organic shea butter is one of the stars, but chapparel extract is what inhibits hair growth. What will they think of next?