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.
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.
This last Saturday, my family celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I am 48 and I still have my grandmother. Not only is she still alive, but she is LIVING. She works in her garden, goes to church, mows her yard- she is still living. We share a lot of interests- gardening, reading, and cooking. I am her oldest grandchild.
She has a sister who also lives around the corner from her. We call her Auntie (said Ain-tee). She makes the best cakes and pies of anyone I know. She also loves to read and for several decades was the librarian at the Junior High School in our small town.
I am her oldest great-niece. I have learned a lot from these two ladies. Mostly, I learned what it looks like to be strong. Both have suffered loss and faced difficulties in their lives. They both raised a large family and loved hard. My Auntie had four boys and my grandmother had 3 girls, 1 boy, and 1 more girl. I had 3 girls and 1 boy- had I had one more I am certain it would have been a girl. My mother and all my aunts showed me what strong looked like, as well. We are all Texan born and raised.
Not only did they live examples of strength but they told stories of the women in our family that handled their stuff. One great-aunt got tired of a drunk and abusive husband. She waited till he passed out, sewed him in a sheet, and took a broom handle to him. Things greatly improved in their marriage. As a kid I thought, “Oh, this is how you handle that situation.” Another great-aunt got tired of her husband running around on her. He woke up with this petite lady sitting on his chest and a .45 aimed at his face. He straightened up. Again, I was taking notes.
Now, I have never had to use any of these particular lessons. I married a great guy who is a faithful man. However, I have tools in my toolbox and this is empowering. As a matter of fact, Tony worked with a guy who didn’t see anything wrong with a little “extra” on the side. He had a very sweet wife who just kept paying for all his toys and putting up with his behavior. One day while they were on duty at the fire station this guy looks at Tony and says, “You mean you would never sleep around on your wife. Why?”
Tony replied, ” Because its wrong. AND because my wife isn’t as nice as your wife.”
Guy, “What do you mean?”
Tony “I mean my wife isn’t a nice as yours. She’ll take a sledge hammer to my knees while I sleep.”
He was not wrong, I am not that kind of “nice”. I come from a long line of women who don’t put up with that kind of mess. Boundaries matter, it’s also good to understand what happens when lines are crossed.
Now, some of you are having issues with my words. I mean how can a decent person advocate such violence. I am a God-fearing Christian, how can I advocate such violence? All I can say is that sometimes, violence is the answer. I know this just seems wrong, but how many times have people needed to get out of an abusive situation and had no help from law enforcement because a crime had not been committed or there was a crime and the abuser paid bail and was back on the doorstep within hours?
Sometimes you have to be your own hero.
Here’s the thing- I have never had to get physical in defense of myself or my family. I even tried once and the girl wouldn’t engage. Some punk beat up my younger sister on the bus. I wasn’t there and the girl, who was close to my age, jumped my sister who was 4 years younger. That would not stand. I chose to ride the bus to school the next morning. We exchanged nothing but words, however she did not hit on my sister again. Bullies know who to target. They target those they can attack without any repercussions. I am not one of those people. I may wear an orange jumpsuit for a time, but there will be repercussions if you mess with one of mine.
This cute little lady in the pictures above drove a school bus for a couple of decades. She drove a bus in the more “questionable” parts of Dallas. When my grandmother married my granddad, she was 5’4″ and weighed 105 lbs. By the time I was riding along on her bus routes, she weighed a little more but was still a small woman. This particular day, she was running a route that was predominately high school kids from a rough part of town. One boy mouthed off at her and I was like “uh-oh”, where I come from you do NOT mouth off to the women. I was also scared because she was going to need back-up and at around 10 years old (when I married I also weighed 105 lbs. and was 5’4″), I wasn’t going to be much help. So she looks up in her mirror at this kid and says, “You think you’re bad? You ain’t bad. I’m bad, now turn around and shut up.” I was in awe. He did it, too. The whole ride was calm and no-one gave her any trouble. Again, I was taking notes in my head and I thought “That is how you handle your stuff.”
So, now here I am at 48 and I write books with strong lead females. I don’t know how to write anything else. The women handle their stuff, they love hard and value their husbands and their families.
I am so grateful to have had my grandmother in my life this long. I am grateful to have been raised by a strong woman and been in the company of strong women my whole life. I am also grateful to have raised strong women, as well. Pictured below is five generations of the oldest daughter having an oldest daughter. The line goes back for seven generations.
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!
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.
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!
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.