Saturday, June 30, 2012

Frisco, Zack and ZZ Top

Frisco, Zack and ZZ Top

I was in another state when I met Denise Stokes of the Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau and she encouraged me to visit “Texas’ Rising Star.” I realize not everyone gets a personal tour, but hey, she made this city sparkle. What isn’t historic in the downtown area is brand-new and shiny in the corporate, shopping and hotel world. Frisco is up in the Dallas area and it seems the city had a very rapid growth around 2009. Residents are focused on their children. The gleaming, modern city hall houses an appealing public library and hundreds of free tickets go fast for story hour.

Stokes took me to see the snow cone lady, who put her kids through college selling icy treats, and I got a taste of a little piece of tasty art from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Kenny’s Burger Joint caters to the customer. You can order a single onion ring, and it’s worth it.

Zack and history

I got an e mail reporting that, inspired by the hit show "American Pickers," the History Channel just wrapped up its inaugural Pick and Tell competition, where students nationwide were challenged to find historical items, and then write an essay describing their treasure. It says Alexander “Zach” Lyons, a Port Arthur 5th grader, won second place for extensive research to uncover the story of a hand-crafted Haida spoon, which he discovered at a local market. The announcement reports he is to get a scholarship at a Washington, D.C. ceremony.

Groves Chamber touts ZZ Top

For $10 bucks you can outfit yourself in a ZZ Top T-shirt sold at the Groves Chamber of Commerce. It refers to their Town House club beginnings in Groves. Ronnie Boneau, director, says the shirt is a popular topic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Soothing and cinching keeps you stylin' in summer

Soothing and cinching keeps you stylin’ this summer

Women listen to Oprah, and when she mentioned on her show that some of us who spend big bucks on clothing often let our foundation garments slip into disrepair, if we have them at all. Our mother’s girdles are now smoothers and such. Leonisa zips us into a shape that looks like we’ve already spent time eating better and working out at the YMCA.

Leonisa is Latin America’s No. 1 intimate apparel line and offers help for men, too. If the fellows want to say that it’s for their back and posture, not to lift and control the stomach, hips, thighs, waist and lets, then that’s okay, too. I’ve inspected this well-made garment designed for every-day wear. Makers say it can also help you feel better after surgery and delivery and works with your circulation. Talk of compression-type garments is all the rage and you can find Leonisa in several styles that use what the call a “lipo-transportation effect that helps redistribute” fat.

My embarrassing anecdote regarding this product involves another brand of shapers whose name has become generic, like Kleenex. My daughter was a bridesmaid and at the dinner rather loudly announced that she’d borrowed my Spanx to look better in her gown. To give Leonisa props, I wanted to correct her just as loudly, but decided that giving the circumstances, to keep quiet. I’m now, ironically, sharing the info with whoever reads this.

They “nailed” itWho knew New Zealand sheep’s wool would make our nails become a Head Turner orange crème for summer? Dermelect does it again with a beauty product that’s good for nails. My sister is crazy for Luxurious, a confident lilac while my daughter went right to the Above It sky blue. Provocative is as fuchsia as I’ve ever been and this could be the most high-quality polish I’ve ever used. The high-gloss shine promised in promotional material is for real. I don’t even have space for all the other perks, from the pure protein peptide extracted from the wool to the strengthening aspects. A pedicure this good calls for new shoes.

I’m in the Elegance Stage

I’ve mentioned Stages of Beauty before and it’s line of skin care geared toward different age groups. In our 40s, our skin becomes more susceptible to environmental and photo-aging effects, like freckles, sun spots and spider veins, reads the Elegance stage. I’m a sucker for face scrubs. The one in this line features soft beads that feel so much more penetrating than the home version I make. Elegance puts jojoba, bamboo, mulberry and licorice root in a blend to preserve collagen and elastin. Scrubs are a summer must-have and this one also has monk’s pepper berry extract and more good stuff to plump up skin’s thinning surface. It’s pricy, but the label reminds you that you just need a dime-sized squeeze a few times a week, so this tube will take you into the fall season and beyond.

For stress, unrest or anxiety

The directions in this headline are printed on Sheevaun Moran Soothing Spray, billed as a natural blend of essences to soothe the mind, body & spirit. Spray into your hands, rub them together, cup them over your face and inhale. This gives me energy. In a double duty move, I can spray my bed and pillow for “peaceful sleeping.”

Moran is in the business of “facilitating miracles” and is an author and speaker. She says it takes more energy to have negative thoughts than positive ones, and believes in changing “I can’t” attitudes into ones of overcoming challenge. She thinks we should meditate, not medicate and advocates creating the space of having. Visit for her details.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Basketball and Cajun food

Lance Madison, the new Seahawks basketball coach, seems like a keeper. At the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce reception at Stone Creek Apartments, he recalled an interview at Larry’s French Market.

“It sold me on the spot,” he said.

Madison revealed he’s loves cooking and is hooked on food shows. Welcome Coach Madison. I think you’ll be well fed in Port Arthur.

From Cayman Night to Southern Summer Night

I hope the area’s Cayman-connected residents will head out to Southern Summer Night. It’s a transitional year for this annual fundraising party from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 30 at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center on the Lamar State College-Port Arthur campus.

The Greater Port Arthur chamber of Commerce and the International Seafarers’ Center will host the first edition of this party, which replaces Cayman Night.

Paige Snyder of the chamber, event coordinator, said the Golden Triangle Chef’s Association will surely put a twist on the all-you-can eat food for the night. Look for a chip and dip station, salad station, barbecue, hot dogs and ice cream. I will.

Trout Fishing in America will perform. These guys are funny. When my daughter was young, we listened to one of their youth tapes until it wore it out. Our favorite was about pico de gallo, don’t get it in your eye-o. In September of 2010 they released a folk/rock album “Lookin’ at Lucky,” with the most recent release being a children’s book/CD called “Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important.” These “fishermen” are four-time Grammy Award nominees.

Classics Recovered Band will open with traditional country and rock tunes. They have opened for legends such as Charlie Daniels, Ronnie Milsap, John Anderson and Daryl Worley. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for ages 5-13. For information, call the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce at (409) 963-1107 or visit

Courtyard Café

Karen Theis is as busy as usual filling the buffet at Courtyard Café in Groves. I was there recently and once again marveled at the varied crowd her eatery draws. There were club women in one corner, a bunch of women from an office in another area and a table full of refinery workers trying out the Parmesan-crusted chicken at another table.

The Ausisie at Kizmet

While I have been charged by the people of Kizmet in downtown Groves, I’ve never had a sandwich there. If by the “The Aussie,” you thought I was referring to Mr. K, then let it be known, it is the name of a menu item featuring mango habanero sauce, avocado and pineapple.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Orleans always offers a new adventure

New Orleans always offers a new adventure

Oyster poor boys, an ironic silent movie on a jazz performer and a man intent on sharing his medical records with me in Jackson Square were among highlights of my whirlwind tour of New Orleans. I also met Beignet, a dog sporting a sombrero. Don’t judge him. It was Cinco de Mayo, and it was Bourbon Street.

I was also wearing a chapeau I’d just scored at Wicked Orleans, or what I’d call Home of the $12 Fedora. Everybody and their mama was browsing for hats in the midst of a shop featuring a sexy mannequin in fleur-de-lis lace stockings, leather and horns. The grandmotherly-type sales woman wore a long denim skirt and had her white hair piled high atop her head. She seemed out of place, but the French Quarter has a way of mixing things up. She said she couldn’t wear the fedoras, as they’d mess up that hairdo.

Here’s more of what I experienced:

* Ever seen Frank Sinatra Christmas ornaments? Santa’s Quarters featured baubles resembling the singer’s name on a marquis with extra wording such as “Ol’ Blue Eyes” and “Confidence is King.”

* My splurge meal was at The Court of Two Sisters, under a wisteria bush the waiter said was about a hundred years old. I don’t recall what wonderful things I ate, because I began with a sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans. Okay, it tasted a bit like cough syrup, but cough syrup in The French Quarter is a pretty good thing.

* The National Park Service offered a lecture on a jazz musician. I took a break from walking the Quarter and heard a great talk and saw a silent film on the jazz player. How ironic. You could tell who else in the crowd were tourists. Visiting women like me had sunburned feet.

* The ferry to Algiers is free and fun. I rode it in the daytime and again in the evening. The lights in the city were beautiful.

* Saturday evening Mass at St. Louis Cathedral was memorable.

* We were plucked from a long line at Acme Oyster House and told we could get seats at the bar, if that was okay. Mais oui, it was. The fried guys were great. Restaurants offered a lot of char grilled-on-the-halfshell options. That seems safer than raw, and nearly as delicious.

* What’s New, a shop on Decatur Street, had a window display of actual plates that looked like cheap paper plates and mats that looked like newspaper. The effect was a common man’s crawfish boil with a classy flair. It was kind of cute, but aficionados will eat crawfish right out of the box.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Bourdain view

I’m sure I’m not the first to wish they didn’t have to bleep so much of Anthony Bourdain’s language on his Travel Channel shows. I’ve never actually caught an entire episode of “No Reservations,” but I succumbed to his irreverent charm while watching him eat and dole out sarcastic observations around the globe. I saw the middle part of countless episodes from the YMCA’s treadmill and bike monitors. I always miss the beginning and end. I’ve caught just a few of his newer show, “The Layover,” but now I’ve secured a DVD of the first season, billed this way: “He is high octane, gritty, caffeinated and traveling with a sense of urgency. Why? Because he has only 24-48 hours to unleash an unpredictable story about a place, a people and their food. Tony will travel through the US, Asia and Europe, and reveal insider tips that only the most seasoned traveler would know.”

I skipped over the Singapore and New York episodes and headed with him to Rome where I learned the Italians go for a foamy cappuccino for breakfast, and save the calories for the good stuff later in the day. He folded his tall self into a little red sports car for a whirlwind dining and architectural tour and I got to come along without having to go through security. Disc 2 holds more treasures: Montreal, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Los Angles and London.

Sunday treats

Sunday grillers take note of 2012 spice blends from Teeny Tiny Spice Co. of Vermont. I think they got Cajun Spice right, judging from the sprinkling I added to popcorn. This company’s blends smell fresh and amazing. It could make you sneeze. It’s not like opening a jar from your pantry that could have been sitting there for years. Go fresh with Harissa, a rub with Tunisian flavors that you can use as a paste lie mustard. Add some to boiling water and let it stand. You don’t have to wait for something to rub, sprinkle it on something like eggs. I did, and did the same with Jamaican Jerk. West African Curry could have been my favorite. Makers suggest tossing with shrimp or scallops, meats or baking into a curry with coconut milk and tomato. It’s a winner either way. Any one of these will spice up your steak.

And for that steak. . .

For years my aunt complained that she needed new knives until relatives got her a great set in a block. She’s cutting up a storm.

I also got my first block full of reliable knives at a reasonable price, made by Ronco, of As Seen on TV fame. They’re handy and they work and they’re numbered with cool names, so there’s no excuse for not keeping them in order. The company reports that “Ronco Showtime Rocker knife will cut cleanly through vegetables, meat and poultry. Use it like a chef's knife to dice, slice or chop. The “Ronco Rocker” knife comes with a set of 4 steak knives.” They referred me to:

The summer entertainment season calls for cutting everything from watermelon and steaks to little fruits to garnish those umbrella drinks. Get some and get cutting.