Sunday, April 27, 2014

No Bad Days

“I’ll have some more of the good stuff,” Bruce Hamilton bellowed at the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Holiday Inn Park Central.
The “No Bad Days” speaker has been packing houses at Better Business Bureau lunch and learn sessions and Chamber members got to hear his ideas on why a positive attitude can make you and those around you more productive. If you’re not excited about yourself, no one else will be, he says.
So wipe off the “permafrown,” remember that attitude determines altitude (how high can you go?) and remember you’re not here to just get through the day, but get something from it. He shared his own personal story that I won’t mention here. Just go hear him speak when you can.
Next time people ask “What are you so happy about?” go ahead and tell them, Hamilton says.

Future Sticks
Don’t take your money out of pork bellies, but maybe you can put it on Future Sticks. Eat Well and Enjoy Life is the motto for a modern take on the ancient instruments. They have “teeth” for those with dexterity issues. Apparently, people have problems with chop sticks. Once I saw it was a “when in Rome” way to enjoy Asian food, I followed the directions on a paper wrapper and learned the lesson. But now Future Sticks break apart to fit in a carrying case, which you can personalize, and help you get those bean sprouts and dumplings into your mouth, where they belong.

Mine are a transparent plastic polymer dubbed ULTEM, a SABIC, USFDA certified food grade plastic, and can stand the heat. They go through the dishwasher and help trees from getting cut down.
Try them out for elegant slow eating on your lunch break.

Toothbrushes come in handy. There’s the household tip about running an old one through the dish washer so that you can use it to scrub in tiny spots, like between the faucets and wall. It’s good to recycle. But you many want get hold of a fresh Woobamboo! They look and feel so good that you’ll be using it for style as much as you are to keep countless nylon brushes out of the landfill. Bamboo is a beautiful, lightweight wood showing up in everything. This use seems a natural. Still glowing from Earth Day? Keep up the good work by supporting products like this.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trinity Heaing and Balance is April Chamber business of the month

Trinity Hearing and Balance is April business of the month

A loved one’s voice and the clock ticking….
It’s the kind of things you’re supposed to be hearing.
Dr. Kelly McConnell, audiologist, said clients served at Trinity Hearing and Balance live up to the office tagline:” Hear what you’ve been missing.”
Patients aged 1 to 100 receive hearing assessments, fittings for hearing aids, plus balance assessments and rehabilitation. Some rejoice at the simple act of being able to communicate on the phone again, instead of just texting, the doctor said.
The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce recognized the office as April Business of the Month the same week Dr. McConnell and her husband, Mark Hanlon, the office manager, were helping organize the Sertoma Club of Port Arthur’s annual golf tournament to support those with speech and hearing disabilities.
Colorful people:
The couple becomes high profile in December for their appearances as Mr. and Mrs. Blue Santa, collecting  funds and new toys for the Port Arthur Police Department to distribute at Christmas. McConnell said Port Arthur’s Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince one day informed the “jolly” Hanlon that the police needed a Santa, and he would be a good one. They’ve been spreading good cheer ever since.
In addition to Blue Santa, the staff cheers up the office by coordinating their scrubs. Visit on Blue Mondays, Purple Fridays and red, pink and orange days.
“Our offices are very homey. We enjoy the staff so much,” McConnell said.
Dr. Rae Lynn Guerrero, audiologist; and Bonnie Borel, patient care coordinator, complete the colorful staff.

PrayFit Diet
Doing good things for your body is a way to worship, says the author of a new “diet” book making the rounds. You don’t have to read far to get to the basic concept: Eat well and right and love God. It’s THE PRAYFIT DIET by Jimmy Peña, an exercise physiologist whose clients have included LL Cool J, Tyler Perry, and Mario Lopez (with whom he coauthored the New York Times bestseller, Extra Lean). The concept is so easy and so logical, it seems like most people wouldn’t be able to wait to start making better choices and feeling and looking better. He thinks readers can make big changes in 33 days. Get the Biblical tie to that number?
The PrayFit Diet maintains a thirty-three percent balance between all three macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fat—allowing the body and brain to capitalize on the many benefits of each.  Look for increased energy. Eating this way can also decrease inflammation, improve cholesterol readings and blood pressure, promote healthy blood sugar levels and more. I have had a few years of practice making better food choices, so this book is preaching to the choir with me. I know many Americans don’t even realize they aren’t making the best choices, and how delicious healthy food can be.
Peña is also founder of the unique PrayFit program (, which stresses the importance of harnessing the power of faith to feed the body, nourish the soul, and pursue a physically and spiritually active life. Recipes include Jerusalem chicken, tuna and olive wrap, vegetable pizza or the following:

Spinach Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranate
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive iol
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or pomegranate juice
Salt and pepper
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 cup diced cucumber
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Protein add on suggestions: grilled chicken, hard boiled egg, cooked shrimp, broiled steak
In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil and vinegr. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and toss to coat with dressing.

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 Cuvée  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.