If you are driving down 61st street along Offats Bayou, you will see Darlene’s Shrimp Shack (a food truck) sitting pretty next to Aunt Margie’s Bait Shop and a shrimp boat named Darlene. If you are thinking that a shrimp shack next to a bait shop with shrimping boats means that the shrimp in that shrimp shack is fresh- you would be correct!
The shrimp is fresh and locally caught (when possible) and battered as it is ordered. You can get your shrimp battered or “naked” and choose from twelve different seasoning options. The baskets come with 10 shrimp and 2 hushpuppies for about $12.00. The shrimp are huge so reasonably you could share but I am not reasonable when it comes to sharing my food.
These shrimp are contenders for best shrimp on the island. I have eaten there multiple times and have loved each and every bite. Everyone in my office loves this place. The batter is on the light side, so you really taste the shrimp. My favorite flavors are Cajun or Garlic Parmesan. Other flavor options are lemon pepper, buffalo, plain, and more.
If the weather is pretty you can sit out at the picnic tables and watch the sail boats on the Bayou or watch the sea birds come and go.
From the family history I have picked up from talking with the folks who run the bait shop, Margie and Darlene were sisters. Margie was the aunt who kept most of the kids when they were little. When she passed, the family decided to name the bait camp after her. Aunt Margie’s bait camp is a popular spot for bait AND they sell “eating” shrimp in there as well. We have been buying shrimp, squid, flounder and more in there for years. If the seafood is fresh, you don’t have to be a great cook to make great seafood.
Aunt Margie’s bait camp and Darlene’s Shrimp Shack are BOI (born on the island) and as local as you can get. Give them a try, you will be glad you did!
I am a huge fan of soup. It is the first meal I made solo at the age of five. Yes, I was five- you can read all about it here. My mom made this soup frequently and she taught me how.
Soup comes in so many forms ranging from extremely difficult to super simple. What we called homemade soup is super simple. Because I only know how to make soup in a large quantity, I often freeze portions in quart size freezer bags. This soup reheats well making it a great option for daily lunches. This recipe is very flexible making a great way to repurpose leftovers such as pot roast or pinto beans.
Recipe for Homemade Soup
1 lb. of ground meat or ground turkey 1/2 cup chopped onion 3 medium potatoes peeled and chopped 2-3 cups of mixed veggies- any kind you like 1- 13 once can of stewed tomatoes 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning 1 tsp ground sage 1 tsp cumin Salt and pepper to taste
In medium skillet, brown the ground met with the onions.
In an 8 quart stock pot or Dutch oven (you can use a larger stock pot- then you don’t have to worry about over-filling) bring water and potatoes to a boil. Add enough water to boil the potatoes, but not so much that you have to pour a lot off, because the water does have lots of nutrients in it. If you are using fresh or frozen veggies, add them now. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Add the ground meat, stewed tomatoes and veggies- if you are using canned or leftovers. Add seasonings and more water or broth as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes then let cool a bit. This soup is great with cornbread or crackers.
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Words are swirling around us and have been for months. Most of these words are predictions of death, despair, desolation. There is a reason for this- a fearful person is easy to manipulate.
All this talk may make you think that there is nothing good left in this world, nothing good left to look forward, and nothing good to celebrate.
This is not the truth.
Here is the truth:
Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
Yes, there is evil in the world, and death, and destruction but there ALWAYS has been. There are NO good old days, evil walked the earth in 1950, 1850, 850 and even 210 B.C. Evil has been lurking on the earth since God hurled Satan out of heaven and he landed here.
BUT, and it is a BIG BUT- Jesus also came to the earth, righted the wrongs of the first man, Adam, and restored us to right fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit walks with us, fills us, and speaks to us.
There is good, plenty of it, all around us but we have to look for it. When you find the good, SHARE it. Fill your social media feed with the good in the world, your city, your life. Fill your mouth with good reports of what is happening in your life. Find the good and spread it around like sprinkles on a doughnut.
Regardless of what is going on in D.C. or Austin, Texas, my life is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ and EVERY promise made in the Bible is MINE because of Jesus. There is nothing a man or woman can do to change that fact.
So, take heart to day. You are not hopeless you have the power to live a good life, you just have to look for it and put your HOPE in Jesus Christ.
Dead Poets Society- I love this movie. I find it inspiring and heartbreaking in equal parts. John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is attempting to open the eyes of his students to the idea that life can be more than what they have been told or what they have seen. Now, this causes problems but no one is left the same. Anytime someone challenges the status quo, there will be opposition.
Obviously, what some desired for their extraordinary lives others thought was wrong. So what makes for an extraordinary life?
Money? Huge House? Travel? Power?
I would wager that ,while those things above are out of the ordinary, these will not truely be extraordinary.
What I see people hungry for are those things that are not tangible. I feel I have an extraordinary life. What defines that for me is the relationships in my life mainly along with where I live and what I do for work and career.
Can I say that to have a relationship that is healthy and vibrant takes intentional work? These things do not happen by accident. Compatability is key, but compatablility is based largely on your perspective and reactions.
For example, Tony (my husband) is cautious and likes a book’s worth of information and time to think before he makes a decision. I lean towards risk and need only about a page of information and thirty seconds to make a decision. Tony does not love routine and scheduling or budgets. I adore routine and schedules and budgets make me feel secure. As you can see, our approach to just about everything is different. I looked at this as a positive, we balanced each other- and we do.
One evening while headed home from a Pampered Chef Party (about 20 years ago I was a Pampered Chef Lady) I turned on the radio and heard a program on marriage from Focus on the Family. Listening to the guests talk, I thought, “Wow, they sound just like me and Tony.” Because I jumped in the middle, I had not heard the title. Imagine my surprise when the title was announced, “How To Build a Marriage When You Are Not Compatible.”
What a shock, all this time I thought we were balanced. Actually, I did then and still think that is what we are- balanced. This is where perspective and reactions come in. I didn’t react to Tony’s need for more information as if he was wrong. He wasn’t wrong, he was just different. He doesn’t consider my tendency to jump before I look as a weakness. We balance. Our marriage is extraordinary.
I live in Galveston, Texas. I can walk to the beach daily, I watch the waves when I commute to work. Some may not really care about that, the beach doesn’t do anything for them. I find this VERY odd but you know- each to his own. Where I live is something and somewhere I consider extraordinary. Now, I could change my perspective. I could focus on the crazy traffic rules, the tourist that come here and act the fool, or the constant humidity of about 143%. But, I do not. I love this island and all its quirks.
Experiences- from buying ice cream from the ice cream truck on the BEACH (yes, that is a thing) with my grandbabies to snorkeling in Key West with my younger two kids and handsome husband is what makes life extraordinary. God has blessed me and I KNOW it!
What makes a life extraordinary? That is for you to answer. I hope you will pursue those things with all your heart.
Leave what makes your life extraordinary in the comments below- I want to know what it is for you!
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This past weekend, we traveled back to Canton, TX and celebrated Jonathan as he embarks on his new life.
He has chosen to serve and departs for boot camp in less than a week. It was time to say, “See You Later.” Watching him interact with his friends and family was such a gift. Knowing that there wouldn’t be another moment like this was sobering. All of his friends will be very different when Jonathan sees them again. As it stands, we won’t see him again before August. One set of newly married friends will have welcomed their first child, his sister will be in law school and who knows what that much time will bring to the rest of their lives.
So, we soaked it all up. Laughter was in abundance as were smiles. He won’t look the same when he gets back. He will not be the same when he gets back. But, that is a thing to be celebrated, not grieved. Nothing stays the same, he is choosing to become more.
See you later, Big Boy! We could not possibly be more proud of you!
To name a restaurant the Mosquito Café may seem a bit odd, but when you’re in Galveston, odd is pretty common. And usually, odd is tied to a bit of history. This holds true with the tasty local favorite, The Mosquito Café. You will still find the Mosquito Fleet docked in Galveston. These are the local shrimp boats. They were named this because the rigging makes them look like mosquitos.
Your taste buds will thank you for seeing past an odd name because the food that is served at the corner of Winnie and 14th street is out of this world. As you might have guessed, the seafood is local. The breads, including the hamburger buns, are baked locally across the street. Patty Cakes bakery is another perfect spot but that is a subject for another day. You really can’t go wrong when choosing off the menu.
There are many healthy choices that are not lacking in flavor and textures. If you are traveling, finding healthy options is sometimes a challenge, so put the Mosquito Cafe on your itinerary.
Now, if you aren’t so committed to a low carb diet, you really need to get the bacon cheeseburger. It is the best on the island- trust me, I have done my research. You will also like the Island Jammer, made with the above-mentioned shrimp and a freshly baked hoagie roll. On the lighter side, the salmon cooked whichever way you choose is perfect. The turkey chili is fantastic and even better served over the top of a baked potato. There are several pasta dishes as well as comfort food like meatloaf. Really, you can’t go wrong.
Breakfast is something that the Mosquito has down to an art. The cheesy shrimp and grits are 100% southern. Again, best grits on the island. The breakfast bowl is one of the many excellent dishes that will start your day the right way. We usually eat breakfast when we go.
Many of you may recognize this as Mile Marker Zero in Key West, Florida. Which might make you think that this is a travel blog post and it could be. We traveled there this summer, yes in 2020. It was my son’s senior trip, the handsome fellow you see in this picture. All he wanted was to go somewhere where he could snorkel. The Keys it was. What I did not anticipate was this picture.
God like to surprise us with little things that make our hearts happy. When we planned the trip, I know He was like, “This is gonna be so cool. You are gonna love this picture I have planned.” The reason it is so cool is that Jonathan is my fourth and final kid. I am officially done- he is my mile marker zero. It didn’t even occur to me when I took it. It was just a cool picture on a family vacation. But later, when we got home and I was looking at pictures, it hit me. Wow, what a way to wrap it up.
You would think that hitting such a milestone would feel so great. And it does feel great but at the exact same moment, it feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. When the older two left home, I comforted myself with the fact that I had two more kids at home. Then the baby girl left home and that hurt like a mother. But, I still had J. Now, it’s mile marker zero.
So, here I sit. I can’t say I don’t have any regrets. I firmly believe that if you get to the end of your parenting run and don’t have any regrets, you didn’t take the job seriously enough. I may have some regrets, things I would do differently but I have no guilt or remorse. I know that I did the absolute best that I could with the tools that I had. Yes, 48 year-old me could do a few things better than 28 year-old me- I should hope so! But, I gave it my all and I am very proud of the humans I turned lose on the world.
Jonathan has joined the Marines and ships out January 19th. Talk about an abrupt ending. I am going from having full control (that is different from being controlling) to having NO control over anything in his life. I am not going to lie, this is a difficult curve to navigate. I mean, if anyone else talked to him they will talk to him, I would have gone OFF on them. You do NOT mess with my kids.
I realized that I had this narrative in my head that the Core was intentionally going to destroy all that I had built. While talking to my family at Christmas, this came out of my mouth. Thankfully, my dad is a former Marine. He said, “No Honey, its not like that.” On the long drive back to my island, I processed through all of this. I decided to change the narrative. I chose to look at it from a different perspective. I raised a young man who knows his mind, knows himself, above all knows Jesus, and is so strong that no matter was the Marines throw at him, they won’t break him.
It is amazing how a human heart can feel so many big emotions fully at the same time.
I am incredibly PROUD of him.
I am so SAD I won’t get to hear his voice everyday.
I am so HAPPY he is moving into adulthood and following his passion.
I am AFRAID of where that path will take him.
I am so EXCITED to see where that path will take him.
The list goes on. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of raising this boy. So, I will focus on the positive and celebrate my Mile Marker Zero.
Way back when when I was a Pampered Chef Lady, I earned a stoneware gingerbread house mold. My oldest two daughters, the only kids at that time, were 2 years old and 4 years old. That was the first year we made a gingerbread house. We have made one every year since- with the exception of last year.
This year was the first with the grands. The grands are 4, 3, and 2 years old. Their mamas, the two toddlers from the beginning of this story, are 27 and 25 years old. That is a lot of gingerbread houses! That is a lot of really great memories.
Traditions can be a tricky thing. There can be a lot of pressure to continue traditions handed down to you and they can feel like a yoke. Those same traditions can also make you feel grounded, like you know who you are and where you came from. I don’t want my kids to ever feel like the things we do every year are a yoke. If we outgrow certain things, I don’t want them to feel guilty that things needed to change. But, I also want them to have a thread to hang on to that runs all the way back through their history.
The gingerbread house is one of those. It is also my tradition. They can develop new things with their own children, but this gingerbread house mold and this tradition belongs to me and Tony. Mostly me, he was usually at the station when the house was made. My family that I grew up in never made a gingerbread house, we have lots of other traditions. So this is a “new” thing. If someone wants to carry on the gingerbread house when I am gone, that is fantastic. If they don’t want to, that is okay, too. I will have made all the memories that I am going to make by that point and it will be their turn to make the memories they want. But, they will be able to look back at this blog and see pictures and know who I was- at least a little bit. I think that is the best part of traditions- the imprint it makes on family history.
I have included the recipe for the gingerbread just in case you wanted to create a new tradition.
A LITTLE EXTRA FLOUR MAKES THIS DOUGH STURDY ENOUGH TO MAKE GINGERBREAD HOUSES, BUT ALSO WORKS GREAT FOR COOKIES. PLUS, THE SMELL OF GINGERBREAD BAKING IS DELIGHTFUL. (pamperedchef.com)
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1½ tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
½ cup (125 mL) vegetable shortening
½ cup (125 mL) sugar
½ cup (125 mL) molasses
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cloves together in a medium bowl.
Use a hand mixer to beat the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until fully combined.
Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 portions. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for 30 minutes. Use the dough to make cookies with cookie cutters or press into mold.