Summer Reading

Summer is here! Time for books that make you laugh, cry ( just a little bit), and cheer when the good guys win and lovers get their happily ever after.

Check out The Pride of Galveston Series

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Grace and Parenting

Today was an ordinary day. I made Tony breakfast and once he headed off to work I went to my balcony. On my balcony I watch the activity of my little block. I love watching the different flowers bloom across the street, the neighbors walking with their toddler, the mourning dove moving from tree to tree. I also love writing in my prayer journal, reading my Bible and praying over my island, I love Galveston. And I love this morning routine that grounds me and sets my intentions for the day. Yoga is a new addition and the benefits have been so great that it is a permanent addition.

On days with a relaxed agenda, I get to read on my balcony.

Reading on the balcony, Galveston Texas, Pretty legs and flowers on Galveston Island

I, then, sit down to my desk. What comes next is anybody’s guest. Sometimes I get straight to work answering emails and sending docs wherever they need to go. Other days, I create social media content or write. Some days a very vibrant three year-old greets me and climbs up into my lap. This morning she didn’t. She fell back asleep in her bed after being up since 5:30 am.

As I watch Cheyenne and Savannah in this season of motherhood, that season where you don’t really ever feel rested and you answer the same question 452 times, I am amazed. I am amazed at the patience and grace they operate with and extend to their children. They are far more relaxed than I was with them. I was convinced that if I didn’t jump on every little hint of rebellion or misbehavior, they would grow into lewd women who dealt drugs and ran around with strange men- or something of the like. It seems so ridiculous now, but when you are raised with religion as your master and grace is unheard of, these are the things you think. Now, I know that there is no need to fear.

I did learn to relax as the years went by and I spoke of it often. I am so utterly grateful that they listened and God’s grace was and/is abundant. I have watched my girls mother with excellence, not perfection but who even wants perfection? They find joy in their children. I am so stinking proud of them I can’t hardly stand it.

Because of the job they are doing, I can simply enjoy my grandchildren. Tony and I can pick them up and take them anywhere. They are funny and happy and spunky. We laugh at their antics even if it wears us out. I mean, I had forgotten just how much energy it takes to raise children! I can rest knowing that we did a good job and now my children are doing a good job.

God’s grace covers the weak spots and He promised me He would show me his salvation. He also promised me that my children would be taught by the Lord and great would be their peace. I have walked through enough to know that He is faithful, if he made me a promise, He will keep it. I can laugh at the days to come because my God is with me and them.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah 54:13

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Psalm 91: 15-16

I love my ordinary days. They are filled with life- which could be boring or monotonous but I choose to see the beauty and blessing that surrounds me everyday. I pray prayers of gratitude daily, how could I not? I am fully aware of just how blessed I am.

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Kind words are like honey, marriage, romance, love, happily ever after

Where to Eat in Galveston- Koop’s BBQ Kitchen and Catering

Wow, this place is so freaking good and so far from “normal”! Yes, they serve mouthwatering BBQ but that is just the beginning. But whatever they are throwing down, I am picking up- and then stuffing in my mouth.

Hamburger from Koop's BBQ Kitchen & Catering. Great food in Galveston TX, Holly K. Ross. Galveston Island
Cheeseburger from Koop’s BBQ Kitchen & Catering. Great food in Galveston TX,

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

Harriet Van Horne

You can tell that the folks at Koop’s love this food they serve! Everything is made from scratch and you can’t beat the flavors. Not only will you have a huge selection of BBQ in various forms such as tacos, lasagna, sandwiches and more, but on certain days you can find crab and shrimp mac & cheese, chicken spaghetti, and whatever else comes out of the creative minds and talented cooks at Koop’s.

There are two things you need to know:

#1- If you are offered Bacon Jam- say YES!

#2- Come early because they sell out fast- EVERYDAY

Seriously, they do sell out of the day’s specials but they do allow you to call ahead. The best way to keep up with what is available for the day is to follow them on Facebook.

These folks are fun and they make great food. You can beat the local food scene and Koop’s is definitely a star on the island.

Koop’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays, and open from 11:00 am to 4:00pm Tuesday- Saturday. You won’t be disappointed when you put this local eatery on your list.

As I said, you can call ahead and place your order. The only thing better than their BBQ is eating it on the beach which is just a few blocks away.

Koop’s BBQ Kitchen & Catering- 409-539-0059, 1110 Tremont, Galveston, TX 77550

For more good eats in Galveston, go to Texas Travels.

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A Sneak Peak- Compliments to the Chef

As she rolled the last crate in, she shucked out of her black chef’s coat. Hopping out in just her skinny black jeans and black tank, she turned to shut the doors.

“Need any help?” came a deep sexy voice.

Regan screamed, jumped and reached for her gun strapped to the small of her back.  Before she completed the draw, her brain registered that the voice belonged to the very handsome lobbyist.

“You!  Don’t you know better than to surprise someone like that?” she said as she fought to regain her composure.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Can I help you?” asked Regan in a tone that didn’t really sound all that helpful or sweet.

“You can have drinks with me tonight.” he said with a smile that had the same effect on Regan as a hot biscuit has on butter.

Even while melting, her tone was icy, “ I don’t even know your name but it doesn’t matter because I don’t date lobbyists.”

He grinned even bigger, “My name is Chance Blakely.  How did you know I am a lobbyist if you didn’t know who I am?”

Chance Blakely, Regan didn’t know him, but she did know of him.  He was not only a lobbyist but a heavy hitter in Austin.  Anyone involved in Texas politics knew who he was.

“For three years, I have served dinner to the who’s who in Austin.  It doesn’t take long to learn to recognize a lobbyist.”

“You say lobbyist like it’s a bad thing.” he said.

Good gracious, thought Regan, that grin.  Ignoring her girl parts, her brain continued,  “Anyone who advocates for a cause because of how much they are being paid, isn’t not someone who has any core values.”

“So, you are judging me because of my profession without even knowing me.”

“Yeah.”

“Wow, you don’t even feel bad about it.  Just one date, that’s all I ask.  Let’s see if you still don’t like me after one date.”  He was pushing but not in a way that was offensive.  He was smooth as silk, charismatic and not one bit ruffled by Regan’s tone or her words.

“I am not sure what part of ‘no’ you aren’t comprehending.  I would ask if you were always this dense but given the ring on your finger, I already know the answer.” said Regan as she nodded towards the college ring on his hand.

Chance glanced at his hand and looked up surprised.  “Let me guess, you are a Longhorn.”

“Hook ‘em”, Regan made the Longhorn sign of her Alma Mater, University of Texas. “See, we were destined to fail. You’re an Aggie and I’m a Longhorn.  So, we’ll just leave it alone. You go back to your lovely date and I’ll go on with my life.”

“She’s not my date.  No, I don’t think I’ll leave it alone.  How about breakfast?”

Regan couldn’t help but chuckle, he was so charming.

“No.” she said and stepped towards the door.

He moved and cut her off.  Her whole body reacted to his close presence.  He stood a great deal taller than her.  If her gaze were level, she would be looking at the button in the middle of what appeared to be some very defined pectoral muscles.  She had a thing for broad chests.

“Do I look like a serial killer to you?”

“No, what you look like is a heartache looking for a place to happen.  Now, are you going to move aside or am I going to have to pull my sidearm?  Please understand, I was raised knowing that you only pointed a gun if you intended to fire it.”

“No need to go there.  I’ll see you around.” He was still grinning like she was the most fun he had had in a long time.

“No, you won’t.  Have a nice night.” Said Regan as she headed in the staff entrance.

The Pride of Galveston Series, Romance, Love Story, Book, Happily Ever After by Holly K. Ross
Romance

If you think you fall in love with characters as a reader, imagine how the writer feels! I love Chance Blakely and Regan LaRue. Once again, the hero has his hands full with a smart-mouthed Texan- and this one even had a Cajun granny.

You get to Meet them May 7th! You can pre-order now or sign up for this newsletter and get notified when the book goes live.

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Where to Eat in Galveston- Darlene’s Shrimp Shack

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!

Where to Eat in Galveston- The Mosquito Café

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.

Shrimp and Grits
Breakfast Bowl

Where To Eat In Galveston- The Gypsy Joynt

If you like off-beat and funky, Galveston is the place for you.  If you love good food served with a funky vibe, the Gypsy Joynt is the place for you. It’s not surprising to learn that the Gypsy Joynt got its start in Austin.  It’s still one of the best-kept secrets in Galveston. 

Located off the Strand in downtown Galveston, this jewel is tucked away a little further down Market Street than most people go.  And this is okay with us locals because we like not having to wait for hours to get our food!


The great folks are run a wonderful restaurant and really give back to the people of Galveston.  They also source their seafood locally which is very cool.


Speaking of seafood, my favorite dish is the Oscar Ocean. This sandwich has a homemade bun, pesto, balsamic vinegar dressing, veggies, and grilled fish.  the menu consists of a mix of traditional foods like chicken strips and mac and cheese along with crazy combinations of seafood and veggies.  The pizzas are the things dreams are made of- if you dream about food, which I do.  The deserts are AMAZING!


We love this spot!

Galveston Island- A Place of Inspiration

Twenty nine years ago, I started something and didn’t finish it. I hate have something unfinished hanging out there. Because of Tony’s encouragement and a word from God, I went back to school. At this time, I am attending college full-time. College Algebra (read with crossed-eyes) and Art (read with a GREAT BIG SMILE!) are in their last weeks. One of the projects in art was to make a collage. I had so much fun doing this project.

We were instructed to include things that inspire us and explain the meaning behind what we choose. This was so easy for me, all the things that inspire and motivate me are around me everyday. This island holds all my treasures.

The timing of when and how we got to the island is remarkable but no accident. God’s timing is perfect. I had no idea what season we were walking into, but God had a plan. He works all things for our good and answers prayers in ways we never dreamed.

It isn’t a crazy thought that we moved to an island. I am quite sure that my birthstone is actually a seashell, not a sapphire. The water makes me come alive in a way that nothing else in nature does. But yet, it is crazy that we actually packed up and moved. We had lived 23 of our 26 years of marriage in a small town where I grew up. Most of my family still lives in that town. It was a good place to raise children and live. But that season was over.

We were coming out of the most challenging time we had ever faced. Our farm had been destroyed by a massive tornado. We had spent a year cleaning and rebuilding. Every time we were ready to start on the house, God would say just wait. So, we waited. Then, one job opened up for Tony- in Texas City, fifteen minutes from Galveston. Against all odds, this door opened and every other door we needed open, opened. We just kept walking through them.

And here we are, beginning our third year at 1220 Winnie St, Galveston TX. I can walk a half of a mile and have my feet in the saltwater and feel the sand between my feet and the sun on my face. This has been a season of restoration and healing. The trauma of the tornado had left us raw and worn. God has been restoring and healing us day by beautiful day.

Not only was I healing from the recent events in our history, but God had appointed this the season to heal some deep wounds from my childhood. This has not been an easy journey, but is has been good. I am so grateful that God gave me such a beautiful and unexpected place to heal. This island has been a place of restoration.

I began seeing a therapist, who is so fabulous, and she has been a God-send. One day, last summer I was getting ready for my appointment and I prayed, “God, if there is anything you want to talk about, bring it up with Dr. Casper.” In the middle of our session she asked me, “Have you ever thought about being a therapist?” Well, as a matter of fact I had. About three decades ago I was in college pursuing a degree in Psychology. I told her about this and she said, “You should go back to school.” Later that day, I realized what I had prayed and what had been said. I told Tony that apparently it was time for me to go back to school. He said, “I know, I already got your paperwork done.” And so phase two of my college career began. That unfinished thing in my past won’t be unfinished for long.

The past is being dealt with at the same time that new things have begun. I have launched a writing career. I am now owning this as mine. I am a writer. One day in my kitchen talking with all my kids, I said how being a writer would be my dream life. I had already written a novel at this point, but I had not owned that life. I stared at them all and said, “Then why aren’t I chasing that thing down?” Well, here we are. I am running down a dream (I love Tom Petty).

So, when I am asked what inspires me- all I have to do is look around. My husband (My Leading Man), my children, my grandchildren, the sea, the historic homes and my faith. All are held on this one island. Now, the children and grandchildren will come and go. But, I will always have the memories and new memories to be made.

Where To Eat In Galveston: The Black Pearl

The Black Pearl Oyster Bar sits at the corner of 23rd Street and Market.   It also sits at the corner of delicious and amazing.  With seafood favorites and a Cajun Flair, there is no reason not to hit this place when you are in Galveston.

The Black Pearl is located in the historic Strand District and is a Galveston staple.  I, personally, would eat there just because of the name. It makes me think of pirates and given that a bona fide pirate, Jean Lafitte, once called Galveston home- well, what’s not to love.  Thankfully, you won’t be disappointed when you taste the food.

As the full name implies, they serve LOTS of oysters in many different ways. They are definitely a fan favorite.  I, however, am not an oyster fan so that is not why I go there.  They serve the best Boudin balls on the island.  The homemade remoulade sauce that comes with those delightful things is also fantastic.  The shrimp po’boys are amazing and enough for two, also served with that tasty remoulade sauce.

I always have a hard time choosing between the seafood platter and the shrimp po’boy.  So, I recommend going with a friend that way you can share plates and you don’t actually have to choose.  If seafood isn’t your thing, they offer a great hamburger, chicken alfredo, and several great salads.

Another great thing about this restaurant is that they buy the seafood local whenever possible so you are supporting the local fisherman whenever you eat this great food.

So, next time you are on this great island, check out the Black Pearl. You’ll be glad you did!

What is your favorite food stop in Galveston?

What To See In Galveston- Galveston Railroad Museum

Traveling with children is one of the best experiences.  It can also be one of the most challenging.  Galveston is an incredible destination for families.  One of the attractions that make Galveston awesome is the Galveston Railroad Museum.

With 5 acres and over 40 pieces of rolling stock, there is plenty of room for little legs to run.  Many of the cars are open and you can walk though different kinds of cars ranging from dining cars to postal cars.  The different types of engines are on display and open to be toured.

Not only are the cars open, but they are staged with era-specific models wearing clothes or eating a snack from the era in which the train car was in operation.  Its really interesting to see what was considered “luxury” travel at that time.  You can also sit on the benches or take a picture in a berth and imagine what it felt like to travel through the night with the clickity-clack of the train tracks and the sway of the railcars as they rocked you to sleep.

A caboose makes a run down a mile of track most weekends. There is also a Polar Express during the holidays. You can access the website here.

There is also a museum exhibit open that details the history of the railroad in Texas and Galveston as well as how the museum came to be.  The museum is open daily with admission for adults being $10.00 and children ages 3 and older being $5.00.  There are various discounts listed on the website.

So, whether you are looking for an interesting stop on vacation or an interesting field trip while you homeschool, the Galveston Railroad Museum is a great stop.  For more on what to see and do in Galveston, click here.

What is your favorite activity with children?