Saturday, February 23, 2013

Panhandle, here I come


Road trip anyone?
I’m about to travel to a place I’ve never been before: The Texas Panhandle. I love the Lone Star State but it’s so big, some of its dwellers haven’t yet made it to the other side.
Wish me well on this long, long road trip. I hope to collect some stories for y’all.

Salt Lick to-go tip
I’ve enjoyed catering from the famous Salt Lick barbecue in the Austin area and finally got to dine at the Round Rock location. I arrived at just the right time for amazing ribs and fresh bread. The menu said onions were available upon request and I told that waiter that I wasn’t kidding around. I requested, quote, “a crazy amount of onions,” which I received. I felt I could eat them all, but a different server brought more, and I felt compelled to eat the bulk of them, too. I’ll just say, that was a spicy meal.
But the tip is this, that came from a guy I met. He warned how crowded The Salt Lick can get. There are picnic tables outside where one can wait for a table. He sits there while he waits for take-out, and quickly gets that famous Q to go.

Hello beautiful
Jasmina Aganovic has a degree in chemical and biological engineering from MIT, beautiful skin and a manifesto peppered with thoughts of happiness, inspiration and opportunity. In 2010 she launched Stages of Beauty, a line of age-specific skin products I shared in this column. Now she’s behind Bona Clara, a home-based Brand Rep program offering age-segmented scrubs, toners, serums, etc. I’m enjoying the for-40s goods designed to aid skin that begins to age and become more sensitive. Some of my seasoned readers will go for the 50s+ goods to help as the skin’s moisture barrier weakens. The feel of all the products I’ve been enjoying is “rich.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten loot

Lenten Loot
Those readers observing Lent may be doing more good or giving something up. I’m continuing my tradition of giving away at least 40 things during the 40 days. It’s good to see how much you can do without. On the flip side, The Mission’s Attic shoppers will be getting rounds of donations to put in their store. Double good.

I was so glad to see the News feature on Dwight Wagner and his new cd, “Blessings.” I’ve heard him sing “What Do You Say to a Lady?” in person and Port Arthur is known by his song, “City by the Sea.” Recordings on “Blessings” include “Joy is Coming in the Morning” and “Be Thankful.” Sounds like good listening for the Easter season. Get your copy by calling 983-2558.

“7 Years Younger”
Want to look younger? Drink more water, move around more and follow some guidelines from the editors of Good Housekeeping. I have a whole book about it that they’re letting me give away. Keep reading this column for more information, but if you want to be the one to win it, do this: e mail me telling me why you want it, by March 17. Put YOUNGER in the subject line. If you don’t have an e mail, drop me a note at the Port Arthur News. I’ll pick a winner. Here’s the address:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Foating through a great Mardi Gras

I got to see my “Newsies” on the Mardi Gras float on Saturday making what I believe is my 20th MGSET parade experience of 21 years. As always, it’s amazing to see the community show up and support the festival and it’s a special pleasure to get a bead to someone you recognize, calling your name from the crowd. Nancy and Chris Lamson of Popfamily Popcorn on Dowlen Road were among Port Arthur News guests and they tossed packages of king cake flavored popcorn that I told here tasted better than actual  king cake. “Everyone says that,” “Ma Pop” said.
Some of their more unusual flavors include Carrot Cake and Blackened Shrimp. I remember when Elsa Holton brought some to the Texas Artists Museum and those art lovers went nuts for Red Wine popcorn.
“Eat, Paint, Meow!”
The words above refer to the artistic, green, art- and animal-loving life of Atlanta artist Amy Pugh –Campos and Salvador, a cat born in her studio who crawled in her lap and stuck his paws in the paint. Her logo for Salvador Kitti shows a cat with a thin, curled moustache in the fashion of the Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali.
That’s already an interesting story. Now let me tell you about the product: Images from original paintings pop with color on water-proof microfiber, so Salvador’s mom’s flora-sniffing bear, dancing penquins, curious frog, playful cat and perched animals of the wild pop with color. Totes, purses and cases show your personalitly and a portion of proceeds go to wildlife conservation. Pencil bag and coin purse are styles you know, but Amy knows today’s women are likely stuffing charging cords and music players into models like mine, a mama elephant with her trunk protecting her baby, as they do their elephant thing on a grassy field under blue skies. The zipper pull is a heart. It’s sporty and girly at the same time. Got to meet this Kitti.
I love going gaudy with leopard skin, so I love that the crystal nail files I tried by the artistic woman who is Ghislaine go a step further, with jewels. After a precise filing from these tools that feel good and weighted in your hand, just clean them with soap, water and a soft brush. You’ll be fine filing for a while. I’d never used a rounded file that’s like a sharpened pencil, so you can really reach those corners. Bling is a category at, and there’s a sparkly little something called a princess hair clip, so you know you are in for a pampering experience. Other clips are peacock fashioned, so I’m also loving the pink peacock. I guess showing off wasn’t good enough for this bird, he had to make his crystals pink, too.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's there to do in New Orleans?

Free stuff in New Orleans
I hope you have enjoyed Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas right here in Port Arthur. But if the experience has made you crave New Orleans, here’s a few tips to help you save your doubloons. Look at this blog post from, for some ideas. Here are a few from the selection:
1. New Orleans Museum of Art
 - Museum admission is free on Wednesdays, making this landmark a must-see midweek. You can spend the better part of the day perusing art and artifacts ranging from modern to impressionist, to downright puzzling.
2. Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum - 
It's a shame to miss Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but thankfully you can soak up some of the magic by visiting the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum. Filled to the brim with masks, costumes, vintage photos and more, its collection is nearly as cumbersome as its name.
3. Crescent City Farmers Market
 - Though you can't score fresh produce au gratis at the Crescent City Farmers' Market, you can watch a cooking demonstration for free. Local chefs will share their secrets using local fare, making it almost impossible to avoid buying a few items for munching.
4. Jackson Square
 - Street performers often congregate at Jackson Square because the striking architecture of the St. Louis Cathedral provides a theatrical backdrop. Visitors can treat themselves to these impromptu performances or decide which of the three statues of Andrew Jackson is the best.
5. St. Charles Avenue
 - When people think of the South, visions of colonial-style mansions and porch swings inevitably arise. St. Charles Avenue is the place in New Orleans to see these 19th century homes "in the flesh," and you can walk the area for free.
6. Bourbon Street
Though there's more to New Orleans than this French Quarter staple, you can't visit the city without strolling Bourbon Street at least once. Prepare yourself for hustlers, street performances and tempting pleas from store and bar owners.

The Meat Market
I was headed to the center of Texas with barbecue on the mind when I braked for the Bellville Meat Market sign, reading “Meat” is our middle name. With three words, and “meat” being the word in the middle, they were right. I had my meat stuffed into a baked potato and enjoyed it on a long wooden bench with other carnivores.
Some kiss
There’s more to Tequila Partida  than a beautiful bottle. Inside is authentic, ultra-premium Tequila, made from 100% blue agave in the heart of Mexico’s historic Tequila Valley. Sounds like some valley. I tried a “pure” recipe, then got jealous about the sweet one, so I kind of combined the two and made my own with cream and chocolate.
The Spirit Journal rated Partida Reposado "the best Tequila in the world" and one of the top five spirits in the world. For Valentine’s Day, consider this one:
The Anejo Kiss
1 1/2 oz. Partida Anejo

1/2 oz Creme de Cacao (white)

1 oz. Amarula
Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Did you know that Feb. 22 is National Margarita Day, according to Tequila Partida? I tried this recipe with home-grown lemon instead of lime and pronounce it purely delicious:

The Partida Margarita
1 ½ ounces Partida Tequila (Blanco or Reposado)

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice (the juice of one whole lime)

¾ ounces Partida Agave Nectar (to taste)

¾ ounces pure water
Shake all ingredients with ice in standard bar shaker.

Taste. Add additional lime juice if you prefer more tartness; add more agave nectar for more sweetness.
Serve in glass on rocks. No garnish, no salt.