Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter wishes and advice for 'big girls'

Easter wishes to all and here’s to what is hopefully a season of new growth and compainionship among friends and family. If you’re celebrating with a big chocolate bunny, eat an ear for me.

“Getting Waisted”
From post-World War II Europe, a move to Canada and then to Beverly Hills, Monica Parker has been funny, and fat. Her book “Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin” shows her writing skills in telling the captivating story of her life. Every cheesy, creamy bite of it and her struggles through pills, meat overload, exercise, liquid diets and more. Good thing she has friends, because family can be tough sometimes.
I hate to name drop, because Parker is so talented on her own, but it is cool to note she and Dan Akroyd had their first TV jobs together in Toronto and Gilda Radner was a guest on Parker’s exercise show. Later in California, Kim Cattrall was her bridesmaid.
I’m loving every chapter as Parker details what works, for a while, and what never works. One usually “reviews” a book when one has done reading it, but I don’t want this one to end.

These girltrunks are multi-taskers
I had a neighbor who mowed the lawn in her bikini, but must of us wouldn’t do that. Enter girltrunks, an alternative to teeny-weeny bikinis that you could wear while walking around the block, to a surfside restaurant or of course, in the water. They’re designed so bottoms won’t ride up and tops will stay down. I’m talking about mix-and-match tops and shorts that come down the thigh to respectable lengths and have a lining sewn in. They’re modest and functional, stylish and comfortable, especially for use larger women who aren’t typically giddy about our swim wear options.
The creator’s vision stemmed from a tankini and men’s swim trunks idea. It works. I’m spending the summer in a black and white striped top and very comfy shorts that dry quickly. They are available at in sizes 4-24 and come in two lengths. Directions: Get wet, get dry, go where you want with no extra cover up needed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lamar press releases Duff’s ‘Memphis Mojo’
When a book looks good, you just get into it.
The first page begins the story in a diner, with “eggs scrambled just this side of too dry,” causing the customer to chew more than he wanted to. Since I’ve recently visited Memphis, the cover caught my eye. I was a few chapters in before I noticed the author’s name, Gerald Duff, and recalled a local East Texas connection. Another of his books was sent to The News for review, and I liked it. Lamar University Press released this new novel, which includes a pair of policemen who razz each other about romance and excess weight as much as they right the wrongs of Memphis. There’s also Jimbo, who’s running a cowboy church. I don’t even want to reveal any more. I’m just glad Duff is at it again. This is a follow up to “Memphis Ribs.”

Herbs that are alive
Erbaviva sounds great in English, and means herbs that are alive” in Italian. The aromas will relax you as soon as they are uncapped and the line is made from what makers say are the highest quality organic and wildcrafted essential oils. There’s a big old product line and you’ll want one of everything. I’ve inhaled lavender, rose and neroli from the Relax Body Wash and am spritzing everything I can with Relax Spray. Those same scents are in Relax Body Oil that are designed for a massage but (and this I love) can mix with the line’s bath salts for a custom scrub. This is the good stuff that goes a long way. It’s a treat-yourself kind of experience.

Bubbles & Bliss for Mother’s Day

Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet CuvĂ©e  at about $12 is the latest addition to the renowned Spanish sparkling wine producer’s Cordon Negro family of bubblies in the black bottle. Yes, I’m saving the bottle, after enjoying the peachy bubbles straight with cheesecake. I seriously enjoyed its contents more than some more expensive Champaign I’ve tried over the years. My mother already enjoyed her taste. The makers suggest their libation as part of this brunch idea for Mother’s Day:
Fluffy Cinnamon French Toast with Macerated Fresh Berries
Serves 4
3 large eggs
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 slices day-old bread such as brioche or challah
2 cups various berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
one half cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice or another citrus juice

Combine berries, sugar and orange juice in a nonreactive bowl and stir until the berries are completely coated in the mixture, then let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Combine eggs, milk and cinnamon in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat together until eggs are incorporated. Dip slices of bread, one at a time, in the egg mixture and let sit for at least 30 seconds to absorb some of the mixture. Reserve dipped bread on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet until ready to use. Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium-high heat. Melt a little butter in the skillet and fry egg-soaked bread until golden on one side, then flip, frying until golden on the other side. Serve hot topped with berries, powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Crustless Quiche
Serves 4-6
3 large eggs
1 and one half cups milk
two thirds of a cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Add-ins, such as chopped spinach, sundried tomatoes, diced ham or bacon, shredded or grated cheeses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk all ingredients together until there are no longer large lumps of flour. Pour batter into pie plate and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the quiche does not wiggle in the center.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vietnamese sandwich talk in Wall Street Journal


Vietnamese sandwich talk in Wall Street Journal
Google “Fifty Sandwiches with a Side Order of Chagrin” and you should find a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Oanh Ngo Usadi, who shares a story about living in Port Arthur in 1984 with a father who made Vietnamese sandwiches.
She and her brothers were “already busy every day of the week folding and delivering 500 newspapers,” so I’m assuming she refers to the venerable Port Arthur News.
Her father created Budget Sandwiches in the far corner of Howard’s parking lot.
“The number of hamburgers we sold the entire first month was in the single digits; the Golden Arches down the street had nothing to fear. The work was relentless as we made almost everything from scratch, roasting our own meat, whipping our own mayonnaise, and shredding and pickling our own carrots,” she writes.
“ From our shop, we watched the seasons and traditions of our adopted homeland unfold around the supermarket. From the sea of red, white and blue of the Fourth of July, to the turkeys of Thanksgiving, the festivities of Christmas and New Year's, the sound of bagpipes around St. Patrick's Day, we loved them all. For each season and occasion, we decorated our stand to match those we saw around us. But given our shaky knowledge of American culture, many traditions still eluded us,” she continues.
The story goes on to tell of the day their small business received a phone order for 50 sandwiches, and how frantic preparation became. No one came for the 10 bags of sandwiches.
Alas, this is the tale of a “holiday” with which the family was not familiar. The writer notes she winces each time the calendar reads April 1.Ngo Usadi now lives with her family in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Calling Crafters to Groves
We’re getting craft crazy around here, and that’s a good thing. Taste of Gumbo, Etc. added crafts to its March show and vendors are asking how to sign up next year.
Now the Kizmet gang in Groves is seeking arts, crafts and food vendors for the city’s big affair.

The Groves Affair of the Arts Committee, and with the Groves Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center will  co-sponsor the 4th Annual Groves Affair of the Art, set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 at the picturesque Celebration Park, 4411 Lincoln Ave. They’re looking for painters,
sculptors, quilters, jewelry makers and others who make pretty, useful or tasty things.
Supervised children will get their own canvas to create their own art. Hey, do I qualify?
It’s free to attend and you’ll get to hear Party Chiefs and Smokin’ Joe & The True Tones.
Vendors, get with the creative people of Kizmet Studio & Koffee Bar at 6039 39th or The Groves Chamber of Commerce office at 4399 Main Ave. Call them at (409) 962-9300 or call The Groves Chamber of Commerce at (409) 962-3631.

“A Streetcar Named Desire”
I just experienced this American classic for the first time through the skilled Beaumont Community Players’ cast. The set was pure New Orleans and the cast will continue to put out amazing theater mojo through April 12. Go see Tennessee Williams as directed by Gina Hinson.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Antiques & Crackers
What goes great on your new/old table imported from Europe? Crackers. Try a spicy treat Original Savory Saltine Seasoning treat while you shop at Snooper’s Paradise in Groves. You can buy this no-cook seasoning there. The staff reports people love that there’s no cooking involved. Spice up your treats by shaking them up in a bag with canola oil. What else is new at Snooper’s? Consignment items. Get there this spring.

Champaign & Ribs
What y’all doing April 10? I suggest you get to Champaign & Ribs under the tent at Cowboy Harley-Davidson in Beaumont where they will be Kickin’ it Cajun Style.
The food is always fantastic at this benefit for Gift of Life Prostate Cancer Program and honorees will be Dr. John Henderson, Charline Dauphin and Judge Gerald Eddins. Call 409-833-3663 for your tickets.

Rain happens. Hood-to-Go in a pouch is like a vest you can keep handy to have a hood with your regular coat. Who doesn’t need that? You can be ninja-stealth in your transformation with this very well-made gear.
Here’s the drill: See clouds, slip on vest with hood, put on your coat and flip up the hood when the drops begin to fall. Then, you’re “Hood –to-Go.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tell the Museum what you want to see


The above message is on my new green T-shirt that Paige Snyder asked me to wear around town. I don’t mind being a walking billboard for Business Development Week, which Southeast Texas Economic Development Foundation will host April 8-10 at Holiday Inn Beaumont Plaza. Seminars and lunch is $35 a day and the speakers are experienced and informative. I can say this, because I volunteered this past year. Lunch only is $25 a day. Snyder, of course, is with the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, a regional partner of this event.
Freebie: Mac Fuller, author of Amazing Face Reading and will read faces at a free-to-the-public session from 5:30 to8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8 at the hotel. Register at or by calling (409) 838-6585.

Off Ramp challenge
“Gone With the Wind” costumes at Museum of the Gulf Coast? Why or why not? Discuss. Pick up the latest Off Ramp Magazine from Southeast Texas Arts Council, featuring an interview with Sarah Bellian, new curator there. She shares her thoughts on what the Museum has to consider in bringing an exhibit, and invites people in the area to contact the Museum staff with ideas about what they’d like to see. Call her at (409)984-6446. Go ahead. I’ve met her and she’s very nice.

Shot glasses made of salt
I’ve  always been a sucker for men in white lab coats. What are they coming up with? I imagine the people at The Spice Lab must be a fascinating when they break for lunch and talk about what they’re “cooking” up.
Around Lent I look to pottery, wood and earthen ware bowls and cups for a back-to-nature effect. I’d have never thought of Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glasses. They’re beautiful veined, tall glasses that look like rose quarts but are carved from food grade 200 million-year-old Himalayan Pink Salt. Yes, you shot gets salty, so you have to drink up and not let it sit around. They’re a stunning conversation piece.
Now for you OCD folks. You are wondering how to care for your new shot glasses. Quickly rinse them under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Don’t put them in the dishwasher. You wouldn’t have, right?
The Spice Lab has a slab of salt you can serve and cook on, so play around. Folks won’t forget your party with these trends.
Look to The Sugar Lab label for makings of crystallized rainbows in a jar. Bright yellow Island Pineapple and a rather lavender Juice Blueberry were a hit with testers who brightened up yogurt and dreamed of rimming beverage glasses with the eye-catching stuff. We’re thinking ahead to purple, gold and green (Key West Lime) to rim a glass of the king cake-flavored vodka we’ve been hearing about. Others in the line include Luscious Pomegranate which should perk up weekday iced tea on the patio and Heavenly Chocolate. Guys, we’re talking about chocolate flavored sugar here. Makers suggest it for cookies or even mole.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Celebrate Nederland in art

Enter your art and photography and celebrate Nederland
One of my first assignments at The News was promoting the Nederland Art Guild’s Nederland Heritage Festival Art and Photography Show.
They’re still going strong, and you can be a part of it.
The show will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Texas Artists Museum, 3501 Cultural Center Drive, near the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center. Enter paintings and photography from 9 a.m. until noon. After noon, entries will be judged and available for viewing. Pick up your art at 5 p.m.
Ribbons will be awarded in all categories.

The fast iron
The T-fal FV4495 Black Ultraglide Iron, available now online and hitting stores this spring, is sleek as a mounted rocket and has been tested to be the most “glideable” iron in the market, beating out its top 20 competitors.
It’s non-stick ceramic soleplate is called “great for beginners.” I still consider myself that in the ironing game. It’s not that I don’t like ironing, it’s just seems so complicated to get the board out for so-so results. This iron is a powerful game change because that steam action and pointed tip gets the work done, fast. When you can see results, you can stick with the program. The extended 12-food cord has an easycord system to keep the cord out of the way during use to prevent re-wrinkling. So it stores well and offers an anti-scale system that helps recollect calcium from hard water. Get this: you can angle the iron to steam clothes, so it’s 2-in-1. Be looking at Walmart so you can glide through your steam cleaning. I was thinking, and the press information confirms it, that this iron is man-friendly. It looks cool and does the job well. Just saying.

Toothbrush safety
The average perso spends 38.5 days of their lifetime brushing their teeth, according to makers of IntelliDent Toothbrush Shield. These are little pockets of cloth to slide over your toothbrush and be 99 percent effective against airborne and surface bacteria, significantly reducing the risk of pathogen-related illness. You don’t want that. I’ve just dressed the family toothbrushes in these disposable barriers that should be replaced every 3-4 days.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mural shows city pride

Style and economy meet at the Port Arthur Transit bus wash. No kidding. Recycled water gets those PAT clean at the refurbished Procter Street site. The building itself is sleek, then there’s the mural. There’s three buses lined up with the Martin Luther King bridge in the background. Look closer and note there are three city bus designs that span through time. Debra Ambrose, transit planner, said she looked up vintage bus photos and worked with artist Jeffrey Szyman, a mural artist in Houston, to represent the past, present and future.
He basically made the image freehand in two days, she said. It looks as nice as the new face on the downtown pavilion. Port Arthur is looking good.

Time change
Who’s on board with the time change and more daylight? The first Monday of this new schedule, I drove home and saw families skating, swinging on front porches and waving at one another on their walks.
Let’s keep up the spirit, energy and friendly attitudes, southeast Texans!

On a boat
Some friends were invited to an event, but had a prior engagement. It seems a relative bought a new boat and the extended family has been invited to sit in the boat in the driveway. Apparently it’s the only way to get everyone to try the boat at once. What a very Southeast Texas slice of hospitality. It sounds pretty fun.