volume 2 issue 4 | NovemBeR 2009 | theVIPmag.

VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 | December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
o f s o u t h e a s t t e x a s
Is Santa
Clause real?
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Everything you
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Holiday sweaters,
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on the cover
At 25 years old, Beaumont Fire and Rescue Engine Operator Justin
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Photography: Lacie Grant; Styling: Larena Head
c o n t e n t s
vip magazine
06 vip style
06 Holiday sweaters: Bad
taste or fun?
09 Outerwear fashion to
warm your winter
13 food&drink
13 12 holiday drinks with
seasonal ingredients
18 Vietnam's famous Pho
22 vip home
22 Christmas decor for
your table and mantle
28 VIProperties
29 Outdoor fre pits
32 vipersonality
32 3 hunky fremen ready
to save you
35 vip worthy
35 SE Texas' R&R Alpaca
38 vip spotlight
38 SE Texas events
44 vip adviser
43 5 ways to reduce holiday
stress with heat
46 VIPFab Finds
47 5 great dates this month
48 Calendar
49 Crossword puzzle
50 vip voices
50 Is Santa Claus real?
inside december
4 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
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text by GUY TREBAY
hen did
it frst
start, the
when the
holiday sweater morphed from
seasonal horror to cultural touch-
stone, an article of outrageously
bad knitwear as popular among
Williamsburg beard farmers as the
Metamucil set?
Was it when the Mistletoe
Conspiracy caroled about the ugly
Christmas sweater in a YouTube
video? (“It’s ugly and it’s itchy,
it’s frightening to children, Andy
Williams wouldn’t touch it with a
10 foot pole.”) Was it when Ugly
Sweater 5K runs became regular
events in big cites across the U.S.?
Was it when the multibillion-dollar
Urban Outftters got into the act,
selling their own line of Ugly
Christmas sweaters?
“There’s certainly a hipster
trend contributing to it,” said
Fred Hajjar, president of TV Store
Online and UglyChristmasSweater.
“The tackier the better, the more
lights and bells and overall ugli-
ness. You see celebrities like Justin
Bieber, Taylor Swift, Kanye West
and Cee Lo Green caught in ugly
Christmas sweaters, and it’s almost
like, ‘Oh, no they didn’t.’ ”
h o l i d a y s w e a t e r s
vip style
Yes, they did.
Five years ago, a stay-at-home
mom from a Vermont ski town
decided to put her prehistoric
computer-science degree to use,
gaming Google trending algorithms
to start a business.
“I was looking for something
to sell on eBay to put my kids
through college,” said Ann Marie
Blackman, the owner of MyUg-
lyChristmas Sweater. “I did re-
search on what was trending. Ugly
Christmas sweaters were it.”
The frst big hit from Ms. Black-
man’s start-up was a sweater she
created from mats sewed together
and adorned with stitched-on plas-
tic Christmas trees lighted from
behind by winking bulbs.
“I sold a lot of them,” said Ms.
The trend Ms. Blackman tapped
into inspired a kind of ugly-sweat-
er gold rush. Now, on e-commerce
sites like Skedouche, UglyChrist-
masSweater, MyUglyChristmas-
Sweater, Butt UglySweaters and
Tipsy Elves, consumers can choose
from motifs as tame as candy
canes, birds in berry branches,
mistletoe and happy kittens to
raunchier themes like overexcited
When Stacie Laufenburger, a
demand planner for Moët Hen-
nessy, began hosting Ugly Christ-
mas Sweater parties three years
ago, it was as an ironic tribute
to the holiday sweaters she had
received as a girl growing up.
“It was always your grandmoth-
er or aunt who gave you that crazy
sweater that you looked at and you
were like ... really?” Ms. Laufen-
burger said.
“You never got a receipt and
anyway they were holiday based,
so you couldn’t take them back,”
she said. The challenge is much
greater now to unearth the in-
nocently kitschy sweaters of Ms.
Laufenburger’s girlhood. Hipster
pickers have scoured the thrift
shops for the best of the worst and
posted it all on eBay. Mainstream
manufacturers like Coldwater
Creek, Talbots, Quacker Factory
and Berek long ago abandoned
demented-elf clichés.
“We don’t do sweaters that have
cats and Christmas trees,” said
Jerome Jessup, chief creative of-
fcer of Coldwater Creek. “We had
some of that in our past, but we
work diligently to create relevant
holiday sweaters for the customer
who’s 50, and that’s now how the
50-year-old wants to be presented
Yet for Ms. Laufenburger, 36, a
tasteful Nordic cable-knit sweater
in a rich holiday color doesn’t
6 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
stand a chance when pitted against
a knitted red cardigan covered
with giant, sequin embroidered
felt teddy bears. She wore that
one recently to a Ugly Christmas
Sweater party.
Her husband’s sweater was, she
said, even more “heinous,” a black
knit embroidered with a bronze,
green and silver gift package and a
plump teddy bear.
“It had the same teddy bear em-
broidered on the back, but it was
the bear’s backside,” she said.
Ugly Christmas Sweater
parties develop stealthily, vi-
rally and mainly on the Web. “If
you look online, the parties are
everywhere,” said Mr. Hajjar of
UglyChristmasSweater. “Once
that started to come in, everyone
wanted to one-up and it got harder
and harder to fnd a real ’80s or
’90s look that’s over-the-top.”
At the San Diego-based Tipsy
Elves, the sweater of the season
features a pair of what, for the sake
of politeness, we’ll call amorous
reindeer. “Two things people are
going to try to do is to go ex-
tremely tacky or very funny,” in
designing ugly Christmas sweaters,
said Evan Mendelsohn, a founder
of Tipsy Elves. “We’re more funny
than tacky.”
Trained as a lawyer, Mr.
Mendelsohn quit his job last year
to found Tipsy Elves with Nick
Morton, a college friend who
helped raise a modest grubstake
for a Christmas sweater company
with no distribution network and
no design staf. In its frst season
Tipsy Elves sold over 1,000 sweat-
ers. It has already sold 14,000 this
season and is nearing $1 million in
sales, Mr. Mendelsohn said.
“Our best sellers are the racier
ones,” he added, citing the design
featuring two reindeer with one
back. A bucktoothed parody of
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
is also a big seller as is a sweater
depicting yellow snow.
“Christmas, in some senses,
is so serious, and for the younger
generation, it’s a chance to make
light of it and lessen the heavi-
ness of it as a religious holiday,”
Mr. Mendelsohn said. “For a little
older age group, it’s probably the
one appropriate time to dress up in
costume that isn’t Halloween.”
That was probably true, even
in the days of Andy Williams’s
Christmas specials, where not only
the crooner but his pretty wife,
Claudine Longet, and his guest
stars wore clothes that drove home
the seasonal thematic with angora
snowmen, zigzag tree shapes and
sequined Christmas ornaments. NYT
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 7
dry cleaning
Present with incoming order.
Trusted for over 85 years
(409) 832-1417
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w i n t e r c o a t s
vip style
inter is a great time to show off
your fashion sense. Whether girly,
glam, or classic, use the cold
weather as an opportunity to ex-
press your individual taste through
the perfect outerwear piece.
text/styling by Grace Mathis
photography by renÉ shepard
modeled by Karin & Kristin shinn
just for fun
Bright colors, interesting
details and a fattering
cut make this perfect
for the little girl at heart.
Share a little sunshine
wherever you go. Yellow
coat by Lauren Moffatt,
Posh & Co., $514
boldly feminine
Who says that feminine has to be demure? Speak
volumes with a daring orange color and a bow in just
the right place. Orange bow quarter-sleeve jacket,
Gaudie & Co., $86
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 9
50 shades
of beige
Whatever shape, style
or shade of beige you
choose in your outerwear,
make sure it refects your
personal fashion sense.
Whether a sharp, unique
trench or cozy shearling,
keep it a little sexy and
not-so-bland. Black and
beige trench, Steve Mad-
den, Dillard’s, $89. Faux
shearling jacket, Yaya Club
$70. Long black tank,
Yaya Club, $25
go for
the olive
The newest neutral
shade looks great in
casually blinged out
camo or with a touch
of fur. Either one will
stand the test of time.
Camo jacket, BCB-
Generation, Dillard’s,
$188. Fur collar
jacket, BCBGenera-
tion, Dillard’s, $168
10 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
glam, meet rugged
Who says Swarvoski crystals are for formal events
only? A timeless cape allows you to bring together
contrasting elements any time, anywhere. Black tie
cape, Bella Bella, $120. Boots, Posh & Co., $304.
Swarvoski evening clutch, $664
femme fatale
Show them you mean business in this
no-nonsense number. Remember,
black will always be the new black.
Waterproof quarter-length trench,
BCBGeneration, Dillard’s, $158
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 11
A toast
to the
Use seasonal fruit- and
spice-infused drinks to
get you and your guests
into the holiday spirit
text by Betty HAllock
fter last-minute shopping at two
malls and a side trip to fnd wrapping
paper only to come home and dis-
cover you've run out of Scotch tape,
nothing makes the holidays happier
than a good stif drink. It's even better if it's one that's
easy to concoct and uses what's in season.
And now that we're just days from turning the
corner to 2013, sharing a cocktail or three with friends
and family is imperative — in a convivial setting, may-
be with James Brown's "Soulful Christmas" playing,
some mistletoe hanging or even balloons and stream-
ers. (Happy New Year!)
Speak-easy trends may celebrate esoteric tinctures
or rare liqueurs, but, fortunately, the success of a holi-
day cocktail doesn't rest on whether you've stocked up
on unusual spirits or ingredients. You're likely to have
on hand whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, tequila.
The favors of the season also happen to make
fantastic drinks. So to help you celebrate, a dozen mix-
ologists contributed recipes highlighting four seasonal
favors: pear, persimmon, cranberries and dried spices
such as cinnamon, nutmeg or star anise. Enjoy!
h o l i d a y d r i n k s
food dining
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 13
Bloody Holiday
Total time: 25 minutes, plus cooling times
Fresh cranberry puree
4 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup water, or as needed
¼ cup agave nectar
Place the cranberries in a small pot. Add
water to cover. Cook over medium heat until
the berries are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour
the cranberry mixture into a blender. Blend
on high speed and slowly add the agave
nectar. Strain, then cool. This makes about 1
2/3 cups. It will keep, covered and refriger-
ated, up to about 1 week.
Spiced black tea syrup
2 bags black tea
3 cardamom seeds
Pinch of coriander seeds
Pinch of fennel seeds
3 tips broken from whole star anise
3 whole cloves
1 cup sugar
Zest of half an orange
Tiny pinch of cinnamon powder
Tiny pinch of allspice
Brew 1 cup of tea by quickly steeping
two bags of black tea in 1 cup of hot water
for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, in a medium pot
over medium heat, toast the cardamom,
coriander and fennel seeds, star anise and
cloves just until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Into the pot, add the cup of tea and sugar.
Add orange zest and bring to a boil over high
heat. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, stir
in the cinnamon and allspice. Remove from
heat and cool completely before straining.
This makes about 1 cup. Keep refrigerated
up to about 1 week.
Cocktail assembly
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces fresh cranberry puree
2 teaspoons spiced black tea syrup
½ ounce ginger beer, or to taste
Lime twist, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka,
cranberry puree and black tea syrup with
enough ice to fll a rocks glass. Shake vigor-
ously to combine. Pour into the glass, fol-
lowed by a foat of ginger beer and garnish
with a lime twist.
Santa's sidecar
Total time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time
for the compote
Cranberry compote
½ pound fresh cranberries
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 to 2 ounces fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp loosely packed sage leaves
1 ounce peeled ginger, chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the
cranberries, orange and lemon juices,
sugar, sage and ginger, with enough
water to cover (about 1½ cups). Cover
and bring to a boil, then remove the cover
and simmer until the berries are softened,
about 15 minutes. Remove from heat
and cool completely. This makes about 3
cups. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Cocktail assembly
Sugar, for rimming the glass
2 ½ ounces brandy
¼ ounce orange liqueur (Bates uses
1 heaping tbsp cranberry compote
Rim a martini glass with sugar.
(Moisten the rim with water or lime juice
and dip into sugar.) In a shaker with ice,
combine the brandy, orange liqueur and
compote. Shake; strain into the glass.
Nuit Rouge
Total time: 40 minutes, plus cooling time
for the syrup
Cinnamon-allspice syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 to 1½ teaspoons allspice
1 (4-inch) vanilla bean, split
1. In a saucepan, combine the water,
sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Scrape the
vanilla seeds into the pan; drop the pod
in. Heat on medium-high, stirring, until
the sugar dissolves.
2. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to
low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Cool, then strain. Makes 1
cup. Keep refrigerated up to 4 weeks.
Cocktail assembly
2 oz bourbon or Jamaican dark rum
½ ounce cinnamon-allspice syrup
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce organic apple juice
Cranberry ice cubes
1½ to 2oz Bundaberg ginger beer
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine
the bourbon, syrup and lemon and apple
juices. Shake; strain into a glass flled
with cranberry ice cubes. Top with ginger
All recipes make one serving
Hemingway's nog
Total time: 5 minutes
Note: To make vanilla simple syrup,
place 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1
vanilla bean, split and scraped, into a
small pot; boil until the sugar is dissolved.
Strain and cool before using. This makes
1 cup; it will keep, covered and refriger-
ated, for up to 2 weeks.
1½ ounces dark rum
¾ ounce vanilla simple syrup (or
vanilla liqueur such as Licor 43)
1 ounce creme fraiche
3 dashes bitters
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine
the rum, vanilla simple syrup, creme
fraiche and bitters. Shake vigorously and
strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish
with freshly grated nutmeg.
Hot cider toddy
Total time: 10 minutes
Note: For the apple juice, peel and
core any type of apple and feed through
a juicer. Strain and store, covered, in
the refrigerator. Alternatively, unfltered
fresh apple juice can be found in the
refrigerated section of well-stocked
1½ ounces bonded Apple Jack
¼ ounce maple syrup (or more as
desired, depending on the tartness of
your apple juice)
6 ounces hot fresh-pressed apple
juice (heated in a tea kettle)
3 slices crab apple for garnish, very
thinly sliced
Grated cinnamon for garnish
Cinnamon stick for garnish
Into an 8-ounce glass mug, pour the
Apple Jack and maple syrup. Top off with
the hot apple cider, and stir gently with a
spoon. Garnish with slices of crab apple,
freshly grated cinnamon and a cinnamon
14 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Sterling daiquiri
Total time: 20 minutes, plus steeping and
cooling times for the agua de jamaica
Note: Dried hibiscus fowers and canela
(Mexican cinnamon sticks) are available
at Latino markets. Edible silver leaf fakes
are available at select baking and cooking
supply stores.
Agua de jamaica
3 2/3 cups water
1 2/3 cups dried hibiscus fowers
Peel from ½ Valencia orange (or the
whole peel of a small orange)
½ lemon
2/3 cup sugar
1 large stick canela
3 star anise
1. In a large plastic container, combine
the water, dried hibiscus and orange peel.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the
mixture, and drop the peel in too. Cover
and refrigerate for 12 hours to steep, then
2. In a small saucepan, combine the
sugar with 1 cup of the strained hibiscus
tea. Bring to a simmer, stirring or whisking
the sugar until it is dissolved. Add the
canela and anise, and continue to simmer
for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set
aside to cool.
3. Strain the cooled mixture into the
container with the remaining cold tea,
discarding the spices. This makes about 3
cups, more than is needed for the recipe.
Store it, covered and refrigerated, for up
to 2 weeks.
Cocktail assembly
1/2 ounce spiced rum
3/4 ounce ginger liqueur
1/2 ounce agua de jamaica
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 dashes bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Edible silver fakes, optional
In a cocktail shaker flled with ice,
combine the spiced rum, ginger liqueur,
agua de jamaica, lime juice and bitters.
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe
glass. Garnish with a fresh orange twist.
Add a sprinkling of edible silver fakes, if
desired. >>
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 15
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Orders taken thru Dec. 21st • Pickup orders on Tues., Dec. 24th between 9am and 12 noon.
All orders packaged cold • We will be Closed Christmas Day
2530 W. Cardinal Dr. • (409) 840-9051
We also offer side items, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, homemade rolls & pies, etc.
Smoked, Baked, or Fried Turkey Packages
Petite Turkey Pkg.
Grand Turkey Pkg. Moncla’s DeLuxe Moncla’s Élite
1 Turkey Serves 12-14
2 qts. Cornbread
1 qt. Giblet
1 Turkey Serves 20-22
4 qts. Cornbread
2 qts. Giblet
1 Turkey Serves 12-14
2 qts. Cornbread Dressing
1 qt. Giblet Gravy
1 10" Pecan Pie
1 pt. Cranberry Sauce
1 doz. Moncla Rolls
1 Turkey Serves 20-22
4 qts. Cornbread Dressing
2 qts. Giblet Gravy
1 10" Pecan Pie • 1 10" Pumpkin Pie
2 pts. Cranberry Sauce
2 doz. Moncla Rolls
$! &
$! &
The Last Mohican
Total time: 6 minutes
½ very ripe Hachiya persimmon
¼ lime
5 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
¾ ounce agave syrup
2 ounces bourbon
Pinch of ground Italian espresso (optional)
In a shaker, muddle the persimmon,
lime and mint leaves with the agave syrup.
Add ice and the bourbon. Shake and strain
over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig. Add an
optional pinch of ground Italian espresso.
Persimmon margarita
Total time: 12 minutes
2 to 3 ripe Fuyu persimmons
½ ounce simple syrup (or to taste)
Ground cinnamon, for rimming the glass
Fine salt, for rimming the glass
Lime wedge, for rimming the glass
1¾ ounce tequila reposado
1 ounce lime juice, fresh-squeezed
Lime wheel, for garnish
1. Make the persimmon puree: In a
blender, puree the persimmons (with skins),
adding simple syrup to taste. This makes
about one-half cup puree. The puree will
keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1
2. Prepare a martini glass by placing 1
part cinnamon and 3 parts salt (taste and
adjust ratio as desired) on a small plate, wet
the rim of the glass with a lime wedge, then
dip it in the mixture. In a cocktail shaker
with ice, combine the tequila, 1 1/2 ounces
of persimmon puree and lime juice. Shake
vigorously and strain into the rimmed glass.
Garnish with a lime wheel.
Diospyros Cup
Total time: 7 minutes
Note: To make the ginger maple syrup,
stir 3 parts Grade B maple syrup with 1
part fresh ginger juice. Summers uses
chocolate persimmons when in season.
½ Persimmon, cut into pieces
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce ginger maple syrup
½ ounce bitter lemon soda or club
Thin slices of persimmon, for garnish
Place the persimmon into a shaker
and muddle. Fill with ice and add the
gin, lemon juice and ginger maple syrup.
Shake vigorously and strain over ice in
a double old-fashioned glass. Top with a
splash of bitter lemon soda or club soda.
Garnish with thin slices of persimmon.
Persimmon Champagne
Total time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
for the syrup
Persimmon syrup
1 ripe Fuyu persimmon, cut into
½-inch cubes
½ cup water
Fresh grated nutmeg
1 sprig rosemary
1 cup brown sugar
In a medium saucepan heated over
medium heat, cook the persimmon until
the pieces caramelize, 5 to 10 minutes.
(The persimmons may stick to the bottom
of the pan. Gently scrape them from the
pan, and continue to stir to keep them
from burning.) Stir in the water and rose-
mary, then grate one-fourth of a nutmeg
into the pan. Bring to a boil over medium
heat, then add the brown sugar and stir
until dissolved. Remove from heat, strain
and set aside to cool. This makes about
1 cup syrup, more than is needed for the
recipe. It will keep, covered and refriger-
ated, for up to 1 week.
Cocktail assembly
1 ounce orange liqueur
½ ounce persimmon syrup
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
4 ounces dry Champagne
Small sprig of rosemary, for garnish
1 cranberry, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine
the orange liqueur, persimmon syrup
and lemon juice. Shake and strain into
a Champagne fute or saucer. Top with
Champagne. Garnish with a sprig of
rosemary and a cranberry. MCT
Papi Pera
Total time: 12 minutes, plus steeping time
for the syrup
Cinnamon syrup
4 (3 ounces) cinnamon sticks
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Muddle the cinnamon sticks until
broken. In a saucepan, combine the cin-
namon, water and sugar, and bring just
to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, remove
from heat and cover. Set aside for at least
3 hours to cool and allow the favor to
develop. Strain. This makes about 1 cup
Cocktail assembly
1½ ounces blanco tequila
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce cinnamon syrup
¼ ounce pear eau de vie
Club soda
Thinly sliced pear, for garnish
Into a cocktail shaker with ice, pour
the tequila, lime juice, cinnamon syrup
and pear eau de vie. Shake, then strain
into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and top
with a splash of soda. Garnish with three
slices of pear on a pick.
Pearfect Asian
Total time: 8 minutes
To make pear puree, peel and core a
ripe pear, preferably a Bartlett. Puree the
pear in a blender with 1 ounce water. You
can add a little lemon juice to keep it from
oxidizing. This makes about one-half cup
1½ ounces vodka
¾ ounce pear puree
½ ounce simple syrup
Juice of ½ lime (about 3/4 ounce)
½ ounce ginger liqueur
Sliced pear, for garnish
Into a cocktail shaker with ice, pour
the vodka, pear puree, simple syrup, lime
juice and ginger liqueur. Shake, then
strain into a martini glass. Garnish with
pear slices.
16 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Vietnam's gift to the world — a noodle soup called pho built with spiced broth
and add-your-own garnishes — is taking America and SE Texas by storm
p h o
food dining
18 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
text by Jane McBride
ick a country
— any country
— and you’ll
fnd at least one
soup for which
it is known,
though the rec-
ipe will vary by
region. While Israelis love matzah ball
soup, Americans claim chicken noodle
and Mexicans have pozole, perhaps
only Vietnam has a soup so beloved that
entire restaurants are built around it.
Meet pho.
Pho (pronounced fuh) originated
in North Vietnam in the mid 1880s,
where it was a staple of families who
couldn’t aford much else. By the 1920s,
Hanoi restaurateurs were creating the
complex stock with favor derived from
hours of slowly simmering beef bones
to extract the full favor of the marrow.
Rice noodles, charred onion and ginger
(another French infuence) and spices
were added to the broth.
When the Geneva Accord split
the country into North Vietnam and
South Vietnam in 1954, many North-
ern Vietnamese moved south to escape
communism. They took with them the
recipe for pho, which South Vietnam-
ese cooks altered by adding spices like
star anise, cardamom, coriander seed,
fennel and clove. While Northern pho
usually is served with sliced ginger and
green chilies, South Vietnam style pho
is accompanied by a side plate of bean
sprouts, fresh basil, lime slices and per-
haps other herbs. Meat choices usually
are rare beef, cooked beef, fank, tendon
and ofal, though pork and meatballs
often are on the menu.
It’s likely the word pho is a derivation
of the French pot au feu, a beef stew. The
spices showthe Chinese infuence, while
adding beef came fromFrench chefs.
Pho Tau Bay
Ngoc M. Truong, owner of Pho
Tau Bay in Port Arthur, learned how
to make pho from the restaurant's
previous owner when she came to Port
Arthur from South Vietnam in 1996 to
work as a waitress. In North Vietnam,
her husband Van Son Truong explained,
pho was the primary diet of the poor.
“In Vietnam, it’s eaten for breakfast
because the weather is so hot there
and pho has lots of liquid to help keep
you hydrated. It’s easy to swallow and
doesn’t stick in the throat. The beef
bones add protein to the soup. It’s a
very healthy dish,” he said. “Families
would eat it all three meals.”
In their restaurant, pho with tripe
and tendon is the most popular with the
Vietnamese customers, who make up 50
percent of their business.
“About 30 percent of our business
is with Mexicans,” Van Son said, “and
they love pho. The remaining 20 per-
cent is other nationalities.”
While the children of the frst
Vietnamese who began arriving in
the United States in the '50s and '60s
Americanized their diet, he has found
the third generation returning to tradi-
tional Vietnamese food.
Pho Four Seasons
At Pho Four Seasons, the emphasis
on pho the way the customer wants it
drives owners Dac Tran and Ngat Tran
to ofer an extensive menu that matches
the complexity of its namesake dish.
Manager Ha Nguyen said her parents
brought their desire for a restaurant with
themfromCalifornia when they moved
to Southeast Texas more than 20 years
ago. Her mother simmers the broth from
beef bones for at least 8 hours before
adding her special blend of spices and
herbs. The soup contains the thin rice
noodles that are served almost every-
where in the States, while the noodles in
Vietnamcan be wider and thicker.
The Trans top the steaming soup
with onions and cilantro.
“Our pho is a little sweeter than
most, she said. “Each person can create
his or her own favor, adding sriracha
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 19
sauce, hoisin sauce, nuoc mam
(fsh sauce), soy or any of the spic-
es on the accompanying plate of
fresh greens: basil, bean sprouts,
lime juice, jalapenos. When we
opened in 2009, we didn’t have
many American customers at frst.
Then it just exploded. Americans
frst stuck just to the beef pho, but
they began to branch out to expe-
rience the favors. Now, they eat it
the way we do at home.”
It’s hard to defne just produces
the “Wow” factor for the ubiqui-
tous Vietnamese meal in a bowl,
she said. But it’s defnitely there.
Uyen’s Vietnamese Cuisine
When Mai Le left Saigon in
1990, she used her restaurant
experience and opened Uyen’s
Vietnamese Cuisine in Port Arthur
in 2011, buying the restaurant
from a previous owner.
Although she occasionally pre-
pared pho for her family in Saigon,
it is her husband, Dang Huynh,
who is the chef.
Quyen Le, Mai’s sister and the
restaurant’s manager, said Huynh
guards the recipe, refusing to
share it with anyone.
The South Vietnamese palate
prefers a complex pho, she said,
adding many more spices and
herbs than North Vietnamese use.
It’s hard to translate the name of
some of the spices to English, she
said. “You can’t fnd them at Wal-
Mart or H-E-B. You have to shop
in Vietnamese grocery stores.”
Nyen’s pho menu choices in-
clude raw beef, meatballs, tendon,
tripe, brisket or chicken. VIP
Where to get it
Pho Four Seasons
3690 College St., Beaumont
(409) 212-9755
4374 Dowlen Rd, Beaumont
(409) 896-2898
Pho Tau Bay Restaurant
710 9th Ave, Port Arthur,
(409) 984-9719
Uyen’s Vietnamese Cuisine
3708 Gulfway Drive, Port Arthur
(409) 982-5191
Pho Ha
3324 Nederland Ave., Nederland
(409) 729-8899
Pho Hots
3622 Gulfway Dr, Port Arthur
(409) 982-7771
20 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
©2013 All Rights Reserved.
• Christmas Strolls - View dazzling light displays beginning Dec. 13, 2013.
Stroll admission is $3 or bring a non-perishable food item & get in free.
409.670.9113 • shangrilagardens.org
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
Visit each location for special activities and
events on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
For information visit starkculturalvenues.org
• Green Day’s American Idiot - See this smash Broadway hit and two-
time Tony Award® winning performance on Dec. 16, 2013 at 7:30pm.
Tickets start at $35.
409.886.5535 • lutcher.org
Lutcher Theater
Start a new holiday tradition
in December
Strolls • Santa • Hands-On Art • Music & More
409.883.0871 • whstarkhouse.org
The W.H. Stark House
• Christmas Tales - Tour holidays past to see rooms featuring great
historic objects. Begins Dec. 3, 2013.
• Drop-In Art Activities - Take part in fun, hands-on art activities for
the entire family. Dec. 26-28 and 31, 2013.
409.886.2787 • starkmuseum.org
Stark Museum of Art
• Treasured Possessions - See rare books, including hand-made
Medieval prayer books & a first edition of A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens. On view through January 11, 2014.
• Drop-In Art Activities - Create fun, holiday art inspired by Museum
objects. Dec. 26-28 and 31, 2013.
3308 HWY. 365
4010 N. DOWLEN
4031 NELSON RD., STE. 300
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 21
When a diagnosis can affect your life, how far would you travel for
the best? As one of the best hospitals in America, according to *$+$
0%/" . ')#,& -%()#!, Houston Methodist is the choice of patients
from around the country for their critical health needs.
That’s why we offer complimentary medical and concierge services
for out of town patients, making it as easy as possible for patients to
access the best. For appointments, trip-planning assistance and more,
call 877.790.DOCS.
nationally ranked in 12 specialties.
the difference between practicing
medicine and leading it.
Christmas Glow
renda Ramsey, the foral
designer at Ellis Home and
Garden in Beaumont, wanted
to go non-traditional with her
design, so you won’t fnd any
bright reds or greens in her table center-
piece. Instead, she chose a copper, silver
and champagne palette. “It’s not overstat-
ed,” she said. “It’s subtle.” But there’s no
mistaking it’s all about Christmas.
The champagne-colored, glittery poin-
settias were her inspiration and starting
point. From there, she added pine cones
and a leopard-print ribbon “just to bring a
little funk – a modern twist to it.” An old-
world Santa and a gold reindeer preside
over the table with a sparkling copper
Christmas tree standing tall between
them. On either side of the table are larg-
er, silver Christmas trees. Below the main
table, birds nest in a champagne-colored,
feathery garland on a silver tray table.
ress your home for the holidays
with warmth and good cheer. VIP
asked some of our favorite décor
specialists to help with ideas for
decorating freplaces and holiday
tables. Their fabulous creations
will inspire you!
photography by LEE E. STiNSON
vip home
22 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 23
4190 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas
Juliska Winter Frolic Dinnerware
• Minimal wait time
• 24-hour availability of all service
• Emergency Trained Physicians 24/7
• New state-of-the-art facility
• Friendly professional staff
o create a
bright look
for her holi-
day setting,
Julie Burns
of Burns
Antik Haus
in Beaumont painted her dark
oak mantle magnolia white
with crème de menthe trim.
She also chose to go non-
traditional and focused on her
favorite sparkly pieces and
garden touches. “I was trying
to make it warm and glowy,”
Burns said.
The top of the mantle is
lined with various pieces of
reproduction mercury glass.
In the center area of the man-
tle, an antique glass cookie
jar is flled with mercury
glass balls on one side while a
silver English biscuit warmer
balances out the other side.
In the center is an ornate tray
from Italy. Instead of hanging
stockings, Burns trimmed the
mantle above the freplace
with handmade Belgian lace.
A large stone urn flled with
garden greenery sits in the
freplace while a garden statue
of a little girl adorned with
a satin ribbon and a vintage
necklace looks on. “It’s about
creating warmth and display-
ing some of your favorite
things,” Burns said. “It’s the
time of year to be opulent and
24 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
12 must-have homes for sale
in Southeast Texas this month
8280 Evangeline Ln, Beaumont, TX
3/3/2 Luxurious Italian villa located on .83 acres
$875,000 Contact: Albert Nolen (409) 860-2900
115 Norwood, Lumberton, TX
4/2.5/3 Beautiful home, park-like setting, heart of Lumberton!
$284,900 Contact: Ann Scoggin (409) 673-7301
4883 Keith Road, Lumberton, TX $1,800,000
5/3/3 Custom built, gorgeous home on roughly 12 acres just inside Lumberton Contact: Scarlett Brekel (409) 658-7640
924 Southwind, Port Arthur, TX
4/3.5/2 The ultimate in Pleasure Island living
$495,000 Contact: Sam Trahan (409) 718-8818
4615 Regina Lane, Beaumont, TX
5/3.2/2 Wonderful well maintained home on corner
$410,000 Contact: Neil Spiller (409) 880-1142
5 must-have homes for sale
in Southeast Texas this month
26 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Elegant Woodlands
lara Downs and Latisha Sodolak, the
mother-daughter team of Nickolina’s in
Beaumont, created an elegant woodland
landscape on the mantle and hearth
of Judy Brocato’s bold brick freplace.
Because of the large size of the area with
its 10-foot, black-stained oak mantle, they
had a lot of space with which to work and were able to
incorporate large pieces. “Decorating any mantle, it’s all
about the scale,” Sodolak said.
It took the team less than an hour to create the woodsy
look. Gold deer rest on the mantle among sparkly, golden
poinsettias and snow-kissed holly. Tall candles add height
to one end of the mantle while a Mark Roberts Santa
Claus balances out the other end. “The balance is impor-
tant,” Downs noted. Sodolak added, “It doesn’t have to be
perfectly symmetrical or matchy-matchy.” Festive ribbons
add color and texture and tie the look together.
On the hearth, a copper bucket holds pine cones,
holly-berry branches and a bird’s nest. Narrow faux pine
trees potted in burlap add to the greenery. A holly wreath
accented with a gold poinsettia and gold ribbon adorns the
freplace screen.
erri Hayhurst
of Balimports
in Beaumont
asked her
friend Gayle
ter for help
designing a table center-
piece, and the ladies had a
great time doing it. “We just
wanted to make it fun,” Hay-
hurst said of the project that
took several days to assemble.
“When I think about Christ-
mas, I think of my grandkids.
To me, Christmas is all about
the kids. They are amazed by
this piece.”
And there’s plenty about
which to be amazed! This
fanciful winter wonderland
starts with a Styrofoam base
covered with pillow batting
for a snowy look. Glitter mesh
cascades and encircles the
design. Holly berries, pine
cones and ornaments nestle
amongst the fuf. The focal
point is a wood and metal
miniature sled led by a papier
mache reindeer donned with
a berry-wreath collar and
jingle bells. Who’s driving?
Santa Clown! Behind the
porcelain antique doll is a box
stufed full of toys for all the
good little girls and boys. VIP
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 27
28 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Integrity from the Ground Up
7770 Gladys, Beaumont • 409-860-3133
We design spaces tailored to
our customers. We create ideal
environments for husbands, wives,
children, and guests. In these
havens, architecture and interior
design are never purely aesthetic;
but always have a functional role,
helping to make life more enjoyable
for the people who live there.
At Generac, we’re happy to talk about how we invented the
home standby generator category, how we make them right here
in Wisconsin, and how we’re available by phone 24/7/365 if you
need assistance. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to what our
satisfed customers have to say. After all, they’re the ones who
made Generac the #1 selling brand of home standby generators in
America. They’ll tell you that Generac home standby generators
give them peace of mind and the power to live. And that just about
says it all.
American Air Systems offers full services on portable and
home stand-by generators.
All work is completed by factory trained and licensed personnel.
Carrier air conditioning and Generac: A Quality Companion.
Phone 409-842-2402
Website www.amerair.com
1050 S. 23rd, Beaumont, TX 77707
David Panzarella
Come see and hear the newest
musical artist from Southeast Texas.
Party starts at 8:00pm,
LIVE show 9:00-10:15pm
CD Release Party
Friday, December 27
Madison’s on Dowlen Rd.
Harrison Swift
Fire pits evolve to
offer light, warmth
and gathering place
on an
open fre
text by Jill Draper
ince ancient times, man has been
drawn to fre for food, warmth
and comfort from the dark. That
attraction is still going strong,
and options for gathering round a
backyard circle of dancing fames
with family and friends are more
numerous than ever.
Whether you're looking for a small, portable fre pit in
the $100 range or a large, outdoor freplace for $10,000 or
more, you'll want to consider the full range of possibilities.
“It can be a daunting task for the homeowner to sort
out,” says Andy Wright, a landscape designer. “The market
is really evolving. We're on the verge of many possibilities.”
Wright begins by asking clients how they entertain
and what goals they have for the space. Are they trying to
screen something? Do they want built-in seating? What is
the budget?
f i r e p i t s
vip home
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 29
High-end installations
Ron and Amy Mertz met with
him about building an outdoor
freplace in their spacious yard.
First he helped them select a
basic design using various widths
and colors of pavers from a local
hardscape company. Next the fre-
place was constructed at a factory
in Wisconsin. It was delivered by
truck six weeks later in two pieces
and assembled on a concrete pad
in about two hours.
Wright suggested attached
benches on either side of the fre
box, but they could have chosen
built-in wood-storage boxes, or
mini-waterfalls fowing over the
sides or a pizza oven.
While the modular construction
is slightly cheaper than a freplace
constructed block by block (about
10 to 20 percent less), the main at-
traction is the ease of installation.
“The level of detail in this project
would have taken lots of man
hours to fabricate on-site,” he says.
The freplace was an immediate
hit. “We went from never hang-
ing out in the backyard to being
outside every free weekend,” Ron
Mertz says. His children, under a
watchful eye, use it frequently as
well, and it has been the scene of
many hot dog and s'mores parties.
Mertz also likes the way the
pavers tie in with the materials
used for their patio, steps, walls
and deck.
At a nearby home, Craig and
Peggy Schwartz were considering
purchasing a traditional fre pit
when they noticed a fre boulder at
a nearby model home. They were
intrigued and thought it would add
character to their yard.
Jared Barnes, a landscape
designer, steered them to browse
predrilled limestone and sandstone
“The main thing to consider
with these is placement,” Barnes
says. “Once you plumb a gas line
and set a 1,200-pound boulder,
you don't want to move it.”
He situated the rock at one
end of the Schwartz's patio with
a water feature behind it. At the
other end, his crew used pavers to
build a rectangular bar with a fre
tray running along the middle. Gas
fames ficker through smoky black
glass beads, while the fre boulder
holds lava rocks.
The unique combination has
drawn the attention of neighbors,
Peggy Schwartz says.
“People are always coming by
to see what's happening and saying
how pretty everything looks. One
guy who was driving by at night
saw the fames and called up to
say, ‘I think that bar is on fre!’”
she says laughing.
While the Schwartz home has a
custom-built fre bar, patio-furni-
ture stores often sell manufactured
fre tables ranging from traditional
to contemporary designs. At the
upper price range — $1,200 to
$2,500 — the tables feature granite
tops and come in various heights:
chat, dining and bar.
Some have interchange-
able tops so the fre tray can be
switched to a solid granite center
with a small hole for an umbrella
or a larger hole for an ice bucket.
These tables can weigh up to 1,000
30 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Ad Name:
Size: 2.00 x 5.00
Customer: PROMOTION/
Galveston Furniture
& Flooring
Galveston Furniture
& Flooring
Specializing in
Furniture, Flooring, Remodels,
Draperies, Shutters, & Blinds
Delivery to Crystal Beach for
Only $95
4214 Broadway, Galveston
Custom Sofa
Starting @ $899
Window Fashions
pounds, so again, placement is
Less expensive options
For the smaller pocketbook,
there are many inexpensive,
lightweight choices for fre pits
ranging from stainless steel and
copper to ceramic and stone. For
true portability, a wood-burning
fre cart (with wood storage below)
has wheels and a handle.
Another option, especially good
for decks, is a faux stacked-stone
column with a small fre bowl
attached on top. A disposable pro-
pane cylinder inside the column
provides spark-free fames. These
items retail for $100 to $350.
What's next in the world of
fre? Wright is a big fan of frewa-
ter combinations, now becoming
popular in the Southwest. Such
combinations include a stone
bench encircling a fountain en-
circling a fre bowl, and fre pots
perched along the edges of pools
so the fames refect in the water at
night. There's also an inches-wide
ground-level fre bar that curves
halfway around a hot tub.
"I don't know if I'd recom-
mend that one for my clients," he
cautions. "You'd have to be careful
where you step."
Whatever the market brings in
the future, it seems likely that fre
will continue to be a focal point in
the home landscape.
“Everyone says they like the
warmth it puts out, but that's not
the main attraction,” Wright says.
“They really like the drama of
watching the fames dance.” MCT
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 31
Call Us Today
Creating Dreams…
;-9 A# ==:! 6:# '%,7ECD:& 4/ 8889-
G%FB 6,5% 4!% )DIE,F<
*2&1%, !$.(,3- /('' ",.,(0,
+#)@$ )FF >?C+%%(<
4?%% @?D,E%D:< ,BB?C2# <I0% "J *=9#99 H *=.#99
!#!&%)" '$(
Three frst responders
who are hot on the trail
of emergencies
text by CHERYL ROSE photography by LaCiE gRanT
hen there is a
crisis – smoke
detectors going
of in the dead
of the night or
someone col-
lapsing – count
your blessings
that there are brave men and women willing to run
towards the unknown, staying calm and taking risks
to help strangers. These three representatives from
Beaumont Fire and Rescue suited up to share about the
responsibilities of their jobs, the importance of ftness
and life outside the fre station. As it turns out, fremen
like to cozy up to fre even when they aren’t working.
f i r e m e n
styling by LaREna HEad
32 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Engine Operator
t 25 years old, Justin
Guynes is focused on
self improvement.
Constantly training,
studying and at-
tending conferences, Guynes was
recently promoted to a driver for
an engine crew, responsible for get-
ting the personnel and apparatus
safely to the scene of an emer-
gency with all required equipment
and running the water-pumping
Guynes, also a certifed
paramedic, worked for the fre
department in Lufkin for a year
before joining the Beaumont team
three-and-half years ago. “There is
no other career I wish I’d chosen,”
he said. “I enjoy the adrenaline
rush and I like that it’s physically
demanding so that you have to
live a healthy lifestyle. You need
to have a lot of patience to work
in a stressful environment. For
example, when bystanders are yell-
ing at you, staying calm, cool and
collected is a huge factor.”
Working in the feld as a fre-
fghter requires physical strength
and stamina to wear the heavy gear,
tote hose lines and carry victims.
To stay in shape, Guynes is a big
proponent of the Crossft exercise
program and even entered his frst
Crossft competition this fall.
The frst callout Guynes at-
tended as a trainee was a major
auto wreck that was fairly har-
rowing. It caused him to doubt his
career decision, but he came to
realize that he had what it takes to
keep his head and help people, in
both big and small crises. “I enjoy
helping people,” he said. “Getting
up at 3 a.m. to help an elderly lady
up who has fallen is just as much
an emergency.”
Guynes also works as a fre-
fghter instructor, teaching classes
for his colleagues and new recruits.
Sorry, ladies, you’re too late –
Justin married his wife, Amber,
two years ago. They live with their
miniature Chihuahua in Lufkin.
His perfect winter evening is
snuggled up with Amber on the
couch under a blanket in front of
the freplace watching a movie.
Jay B. Jones
Dispatcher, Communications Offce
ay Jones of Pine Forest has the perfect voice for radio —
mellow, deep, confdent and patient — exactly the kind of
voice you would cling to if you needed someone to verbally
coach you through CPR or an evacuation. Jones is one of
the voices at the other end of a 911 call — the frst respond-
er on the scene, albeit virtually.
Jones’ frst job as a teenager growing up in Fort Worth was
working in an emergency veterinary clinic. He went on to become
a lifeguard and certifed swim teacher during college. When he
moved to Beaumont and hired on to the fre service 21 years ago,
he had already discovered he could work in crisis situations.
“I like the rescue aspect of the job, being there for someone
who needs it,” he said. “I can put myself in someone’s position. I
can empathize. I’ve always had an afnity for helping any living
Jones worked seven years in the feld and now 13 years as a
dispatcher. He’s felded a huge range of calls from the serious to
the silly. The most unusual one he remembers is a 911 call from
a small aircraft fying over Beaumont that had lost power. Jones
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 33
Engine Operator
escue work is a family
tradition for Dennis
Pellerin, a 19-year
veteran with Beaumont
Fire and Rescue. His
brother is a police ofcer, his in-
laws (mother, father and sister) are
all paramedics and his nephew is
also a freman.
“I couldn’t think of anything
else I’d rather do,” Pellerin said,
noting he was attracted to the fre
service because it sounded like
a “fun” job. “You have to enjoy
meeting diverse people. You meet
quite a few diferent personalities,
not only among the public but at
the fre station. I still enjoy getting
up every morning and coming to
Now 44 years old, Pellerin grew
up in Port Neches and volunteered
for the Port Neches Fire Depart-
ment for two years before com-
ing to Beaumont. He worked as a
dispatcher for 12 years, then went
back in the feld seven years ago.
He’s a driver with responsibil-
ity for all the engine’s safety and
equipment. He is also a member of
Southeast Texas Search and Res-
cue, a team that responds within
200 miles of the Beaumont area.
Pellerin is proud to do an
important job, but doesn’t think it
is for everyone. “It takes a special
type of person to come to this job
every day and see people at their
worst, although most people are
happy to see fremen,” he said.
“People feel intimidated by police
ofcers, but it’s a relief when fre-
men show up because they know
help has arrived.”
Pellerin and his wife, Sarah, live
in Buna with their three sons, ages
8 to 14. Cade, Coy and Kyler are all
Boy Scouts. Pellerin spends much
of his free time volunteering with
their pack. The family also enjoys
traveling, putting 3,700 miles on
their travel trailer this past sum-
His other “family” is his engine
crew. Pellerin estimates he spends
as much time with his brother
fremen as he does with his real
family, even spending time of the
job hunting or fshing together.
Pellerin brings his propane fre pit
to the station in the winter. The
men enjoy sitting under the stars.
“Everybody likes to stare into a
campfre, especially when it’s a
little chilly,” Pellerin said.
guided them to Jeferson County Airport, whose
personnel were able to talk the pilots through a safe
Sitting in an ofce, Jones had packed on pounds.
He hadn’t realized how much until a fellow freman
teased him about it the same day he weighed in
at his annual checkup. “I put my shoulder to the
grindstone and lost 100 pounds the good old-fash-
ioned way with diet and exercise, blood and sweat,
no potions, pills or gurus,” Jones said.
At 45, Jones runs, lifts weights and does yoga
multiple times a week and has maintained a taut
physique for three years.
Currently single, Jones has a daughter attending
the University of Virginia. He lives with two res-
cued dogs he intended to foster, but being a softie,
ended up keeping. Jones’ idea of a cozy winter
night is sitting by his woodburning stove, cuddled
on the couch with a warm body — either his pup-
pies or a lady friend. VIP
34 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
here’s a little ranch in
Little Cypress that’s not
quite what one might
expect in Texas. There
are no longhorn cattle
and no horses. Instead, long-necked,
fufy-bodied alpacas nibble the grass and
frolic in the pastures.
Ruth Hall got the idea of raising alpac-
as, a smaller relative of the llama, after
watching a 30-minute infomercial that
touted the animals as easy to care for and
a good investment because of the quality
feece from their coats. “I thought they
were cute,” Hall said. “I was thinking
of it as a retirement investment.” After
researching alpacas and learning
as much as she could about them, she
and her husband, Robert, bought some
land and started R&R Alpaca Ranch
Fluffy alpacas at this Southeast Texas ranch
provide fne feece for warm and fuzzy products
Alpaca Facts
• An alpaca is a domesticated species
of South American camelid (a mammal
in the camel family). It looks like a
small llama.
• Alpacas were frst imported to the
United States in 1984.
• According to the Alpaca Registry
based in Lincoln, Neb., there are
6,611 registered alpacas in Texas.
The registry shows the primary color
of alpacas is white. They also come
in variations of brown, black and gray,
with light rose-gray as the rarest color.
• There are two kinds of alpacas, suri
and huacaya. Suris have fber that
grows long with silky dreadlocks while
huacayas have a very woolly, dense
and crimped feece. About 90 percent
of all alpacas in North America are
• The lifespan of an alpaca is about
20 years and gestation is 11.5
months. Adult alpacas are about 36"
tall at the withers and generally weigh
between 100 and 200 pounds.
a l p a c a s
vip worthy
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 35
with the purchase of two preg-
nant alpacas in 2004. Their
investment soon doubled
when two babies, called crias,
were born. The ranch is now
home to a herd of 27 alpacas.
Fine feece
When Hall got into the
alpaca business, the emphasis
was on breeding and selling.
Now the emphasis is on the
feece and feece products. She
still breeds a few alpacas each
year. (It takes about 11 months
for a cria to appear.) The
purpose of breeding is to mate
animals with high-quality
feece to produce ofspring
with even better feece. “The
idea is to try and improve the
feece,” she said.
According to the Alpaca
Owners and Breeders Associa-
tion based in Nashville, Tenn.,
alpacas, which originated in
South America, produce one
of the world's fnest and most
luxurious natural fbers. Soft
as cashmere and warmer,
lighter and stronger than
wool, it comes in more colors
than feece from any other f-
ber-producing animal – about
22 basic colors with many
variations and blends. This
cashmere-like feece was once
reserved for Incan royalty but
is now used by spinners and
weavers around the world.
Hall notes that the fnest
feece comes from the ani-
mals’ backs – that’s the feece
for sweaters, scarves, hats
and gloves. The feece from
the other areas of the alpacas
is used for blankets, rugs
and sturdier products of that
There are mini-mills
around the country, Hall
explained, that will take
customers’ feece, make it into
yarn and send it back for them
to sell. Alpaca owners might
send their feece to a manufac-
turer who will make products
out of it, including rugs and
blankets. The manufacturer
sends the fnished products
back to the customers for
them to market themselves.
This is what she does with
her Creole Criations on her
Creating crias
Prices for top show-quality
36 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
and breeding-quality alpacas run about $8,000 to
$10,000 at R&R Ranch. Peruvian June Bug, a fawn-col-
ored female, is tagged at $17,500. “She is a nice alpaca,”
Hall explained. “She has maintained the fneness to her
feece.” Hall notes that the prices have fallen over the
years for alpacas. You can buy one of her pet-quality
animals for about $500.
R&R Ranch also ofers stud services for $750 for
two males and $1,200 for a white alpaca named Hobby
Horse Peruvian Jaguar who has several champion blue
ribbons from alpaca shows on his resume.
Some people who have bought Hall’s alpacas have
wanted them as an investment. Others have bought
them as pets to keep the grass in their pastures
trimmed. “Most are looking for pet-quality,” she ac-
knowledged. She emphasizes that, since they are herd
animals, it’s best to get two or more since they don’t do
well alone.
Alpaca personalities
Hall reminds people that alpacas are prey animals,
so they are very cautious. “They like their space,”
she confrmed. But some are friendlier than others.
“They’re all diferent,” she said. “They all have their
own personalities.” She has one that wants kisses all
the time. “I have to push her away,” Hall noted.
Alpacas do spit like llamas. “They don’t do it as
much as llamas,” Hall observed. “It’s usually amongst
each other. They’re mad, or they’re wanting their food.”
The creatures are usually quiet but make some
sounds. “They make a humming noise when they’re
stressed,” Hall explained. One of her males alerts the
herd to danger by braying like a donkey.
Easy keepers
Alpacas, which can live about 20 years and weigh
between 100 and 200 pounds when fully grown, don't
have incisors, horns, claws or hard hooves, but instead
have two toes with a pad. Alpaca owners say they are
gentle and easy to handle.
For Hall, feeding is not a problem since 80 percent
of her alpacas’ nutrition comes from hay and pasture
grass. She gives them each a half-cup of specially made
alfalfa-based pellets two times a day.
The alpacas might think the R&R in the ranch’s
name stands for rest and relaxation. They have a pole
barn in which to take shelter from the summer heat
with fans and an evaporative cooler. Sprinklers that run
on timers are also a favorite of the fuzzy beasts.
Hall hires an alpaca-sheering team that travels the
country and comes to her ranch once a year in the
spring to sheer her herd. Even though she leaves the
sheering work to others, she gives her alpacas their vac-
cinations and clips their toenails when needed.
The cuteness factor
Hall likes to watch the babies “pronk” – a kind of
stif-legged hopping that alpacas do when they are play-
ing or excited. “It’s very relaxing to watch them,” she
She does have her favorites among her herd. “I have
a fondness for June Bug,” she admitted. “April is my
kissy-face girl.” Then there’s spot-faced Captain Jack
Sparrow. “He’s a cutie,” she confrmed.
Overall, Hall is glad she got hooked by that infomer-
cial on alpacas those many years ago. “They keep me
active,” she said. “They’re fun.”
Some alpaca
feece products
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 37
s e t e x a s e v e n t s
vip spotlight
Art of Beer
Christie and Mark Lewis
Chuck Harris, Summer Lydick
Brieanna Fiorenza, Randy Edwards
Ana Fernandez, Ashlynn Ivy T.J. Henderson, Kayla Harris Haley Dickerson, Clayton and Ashley Manzer
David Dishman and Adrienne Ryherd
Kelly McLaun, Elias Sarkis
Josh Crawford, Christina Delgadillo
Marcia Cavett, Deborah and Sam James
John Adair, Amber Lummus and Austin Williams
Dave Burns, Stacy Matoula, Kyler Keith and Nancy Borne
Joan and Michael Kirkpatrick
38 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Girls' Haven
Stars Dinner
Linda and John Troquille Sherrene Cook and W.L. Pate
Lisa Chapman and Mark Sparks Shonta and Darnell Smith
Elena and Juan Iribarren
Ronnie and Cindy Jones
Jody and Cory Moss
Chad Teller, Madison Trahan, Dr. Nina Leifeste, Jared Weaver
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 39
BRA-vo! Project
Gallery Opening
Paul Anka
Irma Silvernail, Mary Brieden and Lois Rutman Rufus Mark and Amanda Daigle
Randy Trahan, Joyce Philen, Farrell Menard Judy and Buddy Johnson
Abigail Eaves, Hope Swain,
Caroline Meadows
Sandra and Thomas Abbage
Roy Wood, Sherrene Cook and W.L. Pate
Karen Fontenot, Joette Reger
Anne Breitenstein, Ania Bender and Gloria Seligman Sharon Friedra, Cindy Maggio
Barbara Speed, Carol Ann and Donnie Schirafs Susan and Ross Schultz
Alesha Wells,Melissa Balka, Shirley Rise,
Josephine Baker and Gloria Baker
Linda Robinson, Beth Krohn, Gloria Frazier
lacie grant
40 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
DOG-tober Fest
Anie Zarzosa, Andrea Llamas Erica and Ben Sherrod
Terrel and Delphine Dean, Krystal Hough Taylor Harrington, Sandra Wright
Monica Kattner, Kate & Lucas Leforte, Hal Ross Judy Galaviz, Brittany Bowes
Chris Flanagan, Mallory Cooper, Denice Romero, Cambrie Thomas
Jake and Megan Guidry, Morgan Adams Rebekah, Annabelle and Scott Shaw
lacie grant
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 41
Experience the resort feeling without the price!
Te Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
Beaumont Plaza
Te Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
Beaumont Plaza
Let us share in planning your next event!
Contact our professional sales department.
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Beaumont, TX77705
Phone: (409) 842-5995 Fax: (409) 842-7810
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3430 Harrison Ave.
Beaumont, TX 77706
Chef's Delight
Beaumont Chamber of
Commerce Banquet
Marilyn Brown and Julie Kahla Kent and Davilyn Walston
Ronnie Husbands, Krista Leblanc Pam and Mark Mouton
Jim and Paula Broussard
Sally Broussard, Brandy Mouton
John Pascal, Patti and Pat Calhoun
Tanya Lee, Mayor Becky Ames
Jay Jenkinson and Evelyn Gerber Cliff and Brandy Allensworth
Rodney Graves, Tim Hebert Ken and Paula Nichols
Ronnie and Barilyn Brown, Brett Kahla, Connie Barry,
Julie Kahla, Franny Berry and Kris Goodman
Clint Woods, Joanne Brown, Jim Mehaffy, Maris Mehaffy
renÉ sheppard
lacie grant
42 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Making Strides Against
Breast Cancer Walk
Shelton Boyce, Tammie Sampson,
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Nevaeh, Theresa and Kloey Miller
Stacey Harley, Susan Hart, Tisha Stephens, Jada Granger,
Ashley Greiner, and Kristin, Jackson and Ava Stephenson
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theVIPmag.com | December 2013 43
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Warm ways
to reduce
holiday stress
he December holidays, love ’em or hate
’em, cause a lot of tension. Here are fve
ideas to escape for an hour or just a few
moments of blissful comfort.
Infrared Saunas
ny type of sauna will make you sweat,
but an infrared sauna is more comfort-
able and outs more toxins for your time.
Bill Yeary, a biblical naturopathic
doctor at Getting Well Naturally in
Beaumont, explained that an infrared sauna only
warms up to 130 to 150 degrees, a more bear-
able temperature than a typical dry sauna.
“The infrared rays are some of the same type
we get from the sun, but don’t cause sunburn;
rather, they bring forth a healing effect,” he said.
The rays penetrate the skin releasing toxins,
improving circulation and making the body sweat.
In a 30 minute session, clients burn 200 to 600
calories while relaxing in the peaceful cubicle,
resting, reading, meditating or even drowsing.
Yeary said that when studied, the sweat induced
by an infrared sauna was shown to hold about 20
percent toxins. Compare that to sweat released
from an activity such as mowing the lawn, which
only shows a three percent toxin count.
Yeary said people enjoy infrared saunas for re-
laxation, weight loss, detoxifcation and pain relief.
He cautioned that anyone with a heart condition
should check with a physician before experienc-
ing the sauna. All clients need to keep up their
electrolyte intake as they sweat.
Though increasingly popular for home pur-
chase, Yeary’s clinic has an infrared sauna that
can be booked in 30-minute sessions for $35. The
sauna provides an easy way to detox and can feel
very rejuvenating and peaceful, he said.
Hot Stone Massage
n this modality of relaxation massage, small,
fat, heat-retaining stones are applied to
specifc points on the body to warm and loosen
tight muscles, increase circulation and bal-
ance energy centers. As the heat relaxes the
muscles, the masseuse can often work deeper into
the muscles.
At Getaway Day Spa at the MCM Elegante in
Beaumont, hot stone massages run for 60 minutes
($90) to 90 minutes ($125). Stones are heated be-
tween 95 and 120 degrees. The masseuse rubs the
client’s muscles and extremities with warm oil and
distributes the stones over the body. “After a hot
stone massage, clients will have a general feeling
of relaxation, their muscles will be looser, their skin
will feel hydrated and they should sleep really well
that night,” said Kelly Coffee, the spa manager.
This gentle type of massage is not recom-
mended for people with high blood pressure or
diabetes or for pregnant women. After any variety
of massage, it is important to hydrate, drinking 8
ounces of water for every half hour of massage,
Coffee recommended.
r e l a x a t i o n
vip adviser
44 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
Steeped Teas
he association between tea and relaxation
dates back centuries. A study done in 2006
by University College London showed that
stress hormone levels fell by nearly twice
as much in tea drinkers compared with
those given a tea-like drink, after they were put under
stress. Just why tea drinking is so relaxing remains a
nutritional mystery, as tea is chemically very complex.
Whatever the chemical components, tea is the
second-most consumed beverage worldwide behind
Jude Tortorice, one of the owners of Rao’s Bakery,
said that tea sales are exploding around the United
States, though more slowly locally. Texans like their
tea iced and sweet, but some are waking up to the
pleasures of steeped hot options, especially in the
winter months. About four years ago, Rao’s began
French pressing loose-leaf teas for patrons to ensure
their preferred version is steeped properly for maxi-
mum favor.
“Tea” can mean white, green, oolong or black
varieties. Herbal teas aren’t made with actual tea
leaves. Tortorice said Rao’s has about 28 varieties on
hand. Customer favorites include chai tea, a black tea
blended with aromatic spices such as cinnamon and
clove. Moroccan mint green tea is one that Tortorice
recommends for people with sniffes or sore throat.
Also, he suggests a red tea called Rooibos that he
mixes with vanilla tea leaves for patrons with a cold.
He also suggests chamomile tea, an herbal tea used
for relaxation and as a sleep-aid for centuries.
Restorative Yoga
darkened, warm, quiet room,
unplugged from sensory stimulation.
Here, participants can fnd a space for
stillness and rest by performing yoga
poses supported by bolsters, pillows
and blankets. Unlike a typical yoga class that
might move fuidly through 30 to 40 poses in an
hour, a restorative yoga session might only have
three position changes in an hour.
“As Americans, we don’t really know how to
rest,” explained Jessica Depew, owner of Golden
Triangle Yoga in Beaumont. “Our idea of rest is
sitting in front of the television with a glass of
wine. This may be relaxing, but it isn’t true rest.
True rest is a mental state hovering just above
Using the supportive props, participants hold
a single position for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Throughout the class, participants keep their
eyes covered. This form of yoga is for everyone,
no matter age or level of ftness, even for those
with injuries or limited mobility. No previous yoga
experience is necessary. Anyone can drop in
and try a restorative yoga class at LoveYoga in
Beaumont at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesdays for $15.
Tiffany Maloney, ERYT-200 and the owner of
LoveYoga, said the goal of restorative yoga is
to get deep into the muscle fascia and con-
nective tissue, letting natural body weight and
gravity do the work. “It works on the level of the
parasympathetic nervous system, moving to
rest-and-digest rather than fght-or-fight,” she
explained. “When you leave, you will feel the
effect immediately, as if you had a massage. You
will feel very relaxed and will sleep better.” VIP
warm bowl of soup in winter time is
synonymous with comfort food. Eating
is often a way to cope with stress and
exhaustion, both abundant during the
holidays. Soup represents a two-fer return
option of being both warm and comforting, but also a
potentially healthy source of vegetables, proteins and
whole grains. As examples, toss in barley, kale, beans,
pumpkin, turnips or spinach and you’ve amped your
nutritional intake while enjoying the steamy goodness.
Katharine Carmichael, the owner and chef of
Katharine & Co. in Beaumont, also notes the com-
pound carnosine in chicken soup helps the immune
system fght colds. For her favorite chicken soup, she
covers two bone-in chicken breasts, carrots, onions,
celery and garlic in water. Once the chicken is done,
she removes it from the pot, separating the meat from
the bone and setting the meat aside. She then puts
the bones along with a tied bunch of cilantro into the
pot to cook for another 20 minutes. Then she strains
the vegetables and bones and adds brown rice to
the broth. She covers the pot to bring the broth to a
boil, then reduces the heat to a simmer until the rice
is done. She adds the cubed chicken and a can of
tomatoes with green chilies. When thoroughly heated,
she serves the soup garnished with avocado, cilantro
and lime juice.
“When the weather gets cooler, warm soup seems
just right to feed the soul as well as our bodies,”
Carmichael said.
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 45
McManus Company Handmade Glass Crystal
Artwork. These beautiful pieces are made
with vintage glass and Swarovsky’s crystal.
Each of these traditional crosses make their own
unique statement. Sizes range from 6" to 36".
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“Change is natural” with
sterling silver Kameleon
Jewelry from Nickolina’s.
This interchangeable jewelry
makes the perfect gift for all
ages. Nickolina’s now has
exclusive holiday jewel pops,
so you can change your pop to
change your mood!
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Main Street Market
December 5-7
Don't miss the most popular holiday
shopping event in Southeast Texas!
Vendors offer jewelry, accessories,
clothing, shoes, handbags, toys,
home and holiday décor, food,
wine, a children’s workshop with
arts and crafts, pictures with Santa
Claus and a fun run. Admission $5,
children 12 and younger free. 5-9
p.m. Dec. 5 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec.
6-7 at the Beaumont Civic Center,
Beaumont. (409) 832-0873. See
the complete schedule at www.
great dates in december
Dan Rather
December 3
Come hear one of the last great
broadcast news journalists from
the era of the "Big Three" networks
as part of the Distinguished Lecture
Series of Lamar State College-
Port Arthur. 7 p.m., Carl A. Parker
Multipurpose Center, Port Arthur.
The lecture is rescheduled from
Oct. 22. Free. (409) 984-6291.
Beaumont Holiday
Tree Lighting
December 5
Create ornaments for the tree
and to take home. Santa will
greet children and the United
States Postal Service will be on
hand to help children mail letters
to Santa. There will be arts and
crafts activities before the tree is
lit at 6 p.m. 4-6 p.m. Dec. 5 on
the grounds of the Art Museum
of Southeast Texas and the Texas
Energy Museum, Beaumont.
Free. (409) 832-3432 or www.
Event Submissions
Do you have an event you would like to promote? Do it with VIP for FREE! Please send us details-dates, times, location, contact phone, web address
and a brief description-to kmoujaes@beaumontenterprise.com. Information should arrive at least 60 days in advance of the event.
Christmas at the
McFaddin-Ward House
December 19
If you haven't enjoyed Christmas
at Beaumont's historic McFaddin-
Ward house you are in for a treat.
1-4 p.m., Refreshments, museum
and carriage house tours, a visit by
Santa and Mrs. Claus, children’s
activities and more. Free. Also,
on December 19 don't miss their
Eggnog and Christmas Light Ride
from 5-7 p.m. (409) 832-1906 or
December 5-7, 13-14
We can't think of a better way to
spend time with your family this
holiday season than watching the
Beaumont Community Players
present this popular musical comedy,
7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 13-14,
and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, in the
McFaddin-Ward Auditorium of the Betty
Greenberg Center for the Performing
Arts, Beaumont. Tickets $12, $23
and $25. (409) 833-4664 or www.
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 47
c a l e n d a r
vip magazine
December 1
John Jay French Christmas
Candlelight Tour
1-4 p.m., John Jay French Museum,
Beaumont. The museum celebrates
a mid-19th century holiday season
with fresh greenery, candles, light
refreshments, music evoking an old-
fashioned Christmas and self-guided
tours through the museum and
grounds. Free. (409) 898-3267, (409)
898-0348 or www.jjfrench.com.
Lamar University’s A Cappella Choir
and Grand Chorus
Handel’s “Messiah” and other
selections of sacred music will be
performed, 5 p.m., St. Stephen’s
Episcopal Church, Beaumont. Free.
(409) 880-8144.
December 2
Industrial Carillon Concert
7:30 p.m., Mobil Oil Federal Credit
Union, Beaumont. Lamar faculty and
student composers ofer modern,
classical, electro-acoustic and multi-
media music. Free. (409) 880-8144.
December 3
Art Museum of Southeast Texas
Annual Meeting
5:30 p.m., Art Museum of Southeast
Texas, Beaumont. A recap of the past
year’s events, preview upcoming
exhibitions and events and recognize
its volunteers. The public is invited.
(409) 832-3432 or www.amset.org.
December 4
Movie Night: “Surviving Picasso”
Anthony Hopkins, Natascha
McElhone and Julianne Moore star in
the story of Francoise Gilot, a lover of
painter Pablo Picasso, 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at
the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar,
Beaumont. Free. (409) 880-8959.
December 5
First Thursdays on Calder Avenue
5-9 p.m., along Calder Avenue,
Beaumont. The monthly event
features food, live music, sidewalk
vendors ofering clothing, jewelry, art,
photography, recycled and handmade
items and more. (409) 833-9919.
48 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com
December 5-6
Babes in Toyland
Southeast Texas Ballet Company, 7
p.m., Julie Rogers Theatre, Beaumont.
(409) 838-3435.
December 5-7
Gingerbread House Auction
Gingerbread House competition and
silent auction to beneft Buckner
Children and Family Services of SE
Texas. Houses on display for view and
bidding at the Beaumont Civic Center,
Beaumont. (409) 866-0976.
December 6
H-E-B Feast of Sharing Holiday Dinner
4 p.m., Ford Park, Beaumont. The
event includes holiday music, arts
and crafts, children’s activities, an
appearance by Santa and more. (409)
951-5400 or www.fordpark.com.
Beaumont Council of Garden Clubs
Holiday Fundraiser
6-10 p.m., Beaumont Botanical
Gardens, Beaumont. Cocktails, dinner,
entertainment by Britt Godwin, silent
auction and rafe. Tickets $50 per
person. (409) 842-3135 or bcgc@
Senior Thesis Exhibition
Graduating seniors display their
work through Dec. 13. Reception
6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Dishman
Art Museum at Lamar University,
Beaumont. Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Monday-Friday. Free. (409) 880-8959,
December 6-8
Larry’s Old Time Trade Days
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 6-8, 14902 FM
1663 Road, Winnie. Antiques,
collectibles, arts and crafts, home
decor items, plants, clothing, jewelry,
purses and more. (409) 296-3300 or
Dickens on the Strand
A Victorian Christmas Festival
along the historic Strand District,
Galveston. Hours: 5-9 p.m. Dec. 6; 10
a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 7; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Dec. 8. (409) 763-7834 or go to www.
December 7
Holiday Shop-O-Rama Extravaganza
Grand sale noon-4 p.m., opening
reception 7-10 p.m., Art Studio,
Inc., Beaumont. One-stop shopping
for unique, funky, artistic and
inexpensive gifts created by local
artisans. Shopping hours: 2-5 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday through Dec. 20.
(409) 838-5393 or www.artstudio.org
Habitat for Humanity Jingle Bell 5K
8 a.m., Tyrrell Park, Cost $25 for the
5K; $10 for the kids 1K. http://register.
Christmas in the Big Thicket
Booths, a lighted parade and more, 9
a.m.-6 p.m., Silsbee Public Library
parking lot, Silsbee. (409) 385-4831.
Barefoot Christmas Market
Noon-6 p.m., Golden Triangle Yoga,
Beaumont. (409) 861-0003.
Holiday Bazaar
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,
Beaumont. The event gumbo, used
book sale, crafts, art, baked goods,
a used clothing boutique and more.
(409) 866-0002.
“Beary Merry Christmas Market”
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Little Cypress
Intermediate School, Orange.
Breakfast with Santa, 9-10 a.m. (409)
988-1130 or (409) 313-7461.
Gingerbread House Workshop
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Art Museum of
Southeast Texas, Beaumont. (409)
832-3432 or go to www.amset.org.
Christmas Twilight Tour
Heritage Village Museum, Woodville.
(800) 323-0389, (409) 283-2272 or
December 8
“Home for the Holidays”
The Symphony of SE Texas and the
choirs from First United Methodist
Church, Beaumont and St. Jude
Thaddeus Catholic Church, present a
concert of seasonal favorites, 3 p.m.,
Julie Rogers Theatre, Beaumont. For
www.sost.org or call (409) 892-2257.
December 8-9
Road to Bethlehem
6:30-8:30 p.m., Wesley United
Methodist Church, Beaumont. Visit a
full-size Bethlehem village with live
animals, working shops and things to
touch and taste. Free. (409) 892-7733.
December 10
Christmas Parade
The Nederland Chamber of Commerce
Annual Lighted Christmas Parade, 6
p.m., along 21st Street and Nederland
Avenue, Nederland. (409) 722-0279.
Greater Orange Area Chamber of
Commerce 2013 Banquet
Sunset Grove Country Club, Orange.
Social hour 6 p.m., awards dinner,
recognizing the 2013 Citizen of the
Year, Non-Proft Community Service
Award and the Business Community
Service Award, 6:30 p.m. Admission
$40 per person. (409) 883-3536.
2290 IH-10 S
@ Washington
Beaumont, TX
Happy Hour Mon-Fri 4-7pm
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1 World record holder in the 100 and
200 meters, Usain ____
3 2009 BCS National Championship
8 “Deja Vu,” star, ___ Kilmer
9 “___ Woman” starring Halle Berry
10 Former Sun, now Laker
11 Commodores singer, Lionel ____
12 Play __ the book
13 ___ Sharif of “Doctor Zhivago”
15 British princess
17 70’s rocker, ____ Cooper
18 Baseball’s ____ Series
19 Famous deer
21 Talk a lot
22 ____ Witherspoon
24 Notre Dame team name
26 Computer department
27 “P. Diddy” frst name
28 NASCAR racer, ____ Gordon
1 Daniel Craig role
2 Elvis’s daughter’s name (2 words)
3 Golfng great, ___ Player
4 “I am the greatest” boxer
5 Young Mexican golfng star, Linda
6 Bollywood superstar, Aishwarya
7 “Tragic Kingdom” lead singer, Gwen
12 “___ Jones’s Diary,” starring Hugh
14 Last word of the Pledge of
15 ____ Harry, the lead singer from
16 Trophies
20 State in the northeast of the U.S.
23 “____ City.” movie starring Jessica
25 Playboy king, for short
Find answers on page 4
c r o s s w o r d
vip magazine
December 12
Movie Night: “We’re No Angels”
Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov
and Aldo Ray star, 6:30-8:30 p.m.,
McFaddin-Ward House Visitor
Center, Beaumont. 6 p.m. Free.
December 13
Kevin Fowler
7 p.m., Whiskey River, Beaumont.
(409) 832-2999.
Texas Strikers Soccer
Texas Strikers take on the Monterrey
Flash, 7:05 p.m., Ford Arena,
Beaumont. Tickets $9, $15, $18
and $25. (409) 951-5400 or www.
December 13-14
“A Whimsical Christmas”
Dance by the Mid County Performing
Arts Company, 7 p.m. Dec. 13, and
2 p.m. Dec. 14, Performing Arts
Center at Nederland High School,
Nederland. Advance tickets $10; $12
day of show. (409) 724-6567 or www.
December 13-15
Orange Trade Days
9 a.m.-5 p.m., Orange Trade Days
grounds, Orange. Flea market,
farmers market, food and music.
Free. (409) 883-4344.
“Happy Holidays Collection — 7
Christmas Comedies for Children”
An all kids cast perform a holiday
musical, Port Arthur Little Theatre
Playhouse, Port Arthur. (409) 727-
7258 or www.palt.org.
December 14
Color Vibe 5K
9 a.m., Event Centre, Beaumont. Get
blasted with color at every station
throughout run. Cost: $40-$50.
Register at www.thecolorvibe.com
Port Arthur’s Lighted Parade
6 p.m., along Procter Street,
downtown Port Arthur. After the
parade, area bands and a mass choir
will perform on the steps of Port
Arthur City Hall.
Christmas with Shoji Tabuchi
Broadway and movies selections
and classical, country, pop, rock and
western music, 7:30 p.m., Lutcher
Theater, Orange. (409) 886-5535 or
Texas Country Music Show
7:30 p.m., Palace Theater, Kirbyville.
Adults $7, children 7-12 $3, free
for children younger than 6. (409)
December 14-15
“The Nutcracker”
Beaumont Civic Ballet, 2:30 p.m.,
Julie Rogers Theatre, Beaumont.
Tickets at the Beaumont Civic
Center Box Ofce and Ticketmaster
December 15
Empty Stocking Fund Beneft
Barbecue chicken dinner, 10
a.m.-2 p.m., Knights of Columbus
Hall, Beaumont. Proceeds go to
the Beaumont Enterprise Empty
Stocking Fund. (409) 659-5892.
December 16
“American Idiot”
Musical based on Green Day’s rock
opera about three lifelong friends
who are forced to choose between
their dreams and the safety of
suburbia, 7:30 p.m., Lutcher Theater
for the Performing Arts, Orange.
(409) 886-5535 or www.lutcher.org.
December 18
Walt Wilkins
7 p.m., Courville’s, Beaumont.
Tickets $30 advance only, includes
bufet and show. (409) 860-9811 or
email bigrich@cajunfavors.com.
December 20-22
“Happy Holidays Collection — 7
Christmas Comedies for Children”
See previous listing.
December 21
“Together Again at Christmas”
Beaumont Charlton-Pollard-Hebert
Scholarship Fundraising Gala,
semi-formal event, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.,
Beaumont Civic Center. Tickets $15
per person. (409) 898-2655
Yolanda Adams and Willie Brown
Christmas Concert
8 p.m., Julie Rogers Theatre,
Beaumont. Tickets at the Beaumont
Civic Center Box Ofce and all
Ticketmaster outlets.
December 27
Aaron Watson
7 p.m., Whiskey River, Beaumont.
Tickets at all Florida Tans or at
www.whiskeyrivertexas.com. (409)
December 31
Bag of Donuts
Special guests Pirate Radio, 7 p.m.,
Nutty Jerry’s, Winnie. Tickets $20.
(877) 643-7508 or www.nuttyjerrys.
theVIPmag.com | December 2013 49
g u e s t c o l u m n
vip voices
Dear Children,
’ve never written something
for such a “little” audience,
but I thought it was impor-
tant that I share a special
secret with you, particu-
larly during this time of year.
Many of you might have heard
some rumors at school that have
caused you to doubt something
you’ve believed your whole life.
Right at this very second, you
might be telling yourself that you’re
getting older and should start view-
ing the world from a more practical
perspective. After all, no one wants
to be the last to know something
so epic.
Maybe you just wish someone
would level with you — tell you the
cold, hard truth.
Well, I’m that someone.
I’m going to tell you the truth
about Santa Claus.
About 21 years ago, I was a little
child weighed down by this very
same worry.
My class at school was divided
between believers and non-believ-
ers, each more staunchly devoted
to their conviction than the next.
I was of the uncertain minority,
never having had any experiences
to sway me one way or the other.
On one hand, I had my doubts.
After all, how did one man traverse
the entire globe in a single night?
But, deep in my heart, I wished for
him to be real.
I approached that holiday with
a bit more trepidation than usual,
looking for clues that might awaken
me from my youthful fancies.
That Christmas Eve, I hap-
pened to burn my hand while
making Christmas cookies with my
mom. The pain of that experience,
coupled with the excitement of the
evening, made for a particularly
restless night. At some point, I
woke up, looking for my mom to
help ease the pain.
As I plodded along our dark
hallway, my heart raced with terror.
The only thing worse than fnding
out Santa wasn’t real was fnding
out that he was by accidentally
catching him on the job.
Luckily, my search didn’t reveal
Santa Claus, but I couldn’t fnd my
parents either. I wandered around
our darkened house before fnally
fnding them in our dimly lit living
room, happily munching on the
very cookies I’d left out for Santa.
I immediately crumbled into a
heap of tears on the foor.
I told them I was crying because
my hand hurt, but the truth was
I was heartbroken to discover the
proof — or so I thought — that
Santa was a fgment of my imagina-
tion. Feeling grown up suddenly
didn’t feel so great after all.
It was months before I gathered
the courage to discuss my feelings
with my parents, very matter-of-
factly, as I recall. The jig was up, I
said. I knew the secret.
My mom was appalled.
Of course Santa was real!
How could I possibly imagine
that parents could create all that
Christmas magic without help? In
fact, my mom confessed that the
older she got, the more obvious it
was that Santa was indeed real.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve had
the time to really put her theory to
the test.
And, I have to be honest with
you, she was right.
Santa IS real.
Did you know that the most
beautiful, magical, miraculous
things happen at Christmas all the
time and no one — not even adults
— can explain them?
One time, it happened in my
You see, many, many Christ-
mases ago, my daughter wanted
a special gift. It had been a rough
year for our family and we weren’t
sure how we would be able to make
her wish come true. No one knew
about the stress we were under and
how our hearts ached. We just kept
praying for a Christmas miracle.
And, a few weeks before Christmas,
an unmarked package arrived with
just that gift inside! It was exactly
what my daughter wanted, down
to the very color. Now, who could
have known that but Santa?
The miracles don’t stop at pres-
ents. Sometimes Santa fxes things
that are broken. Like, maybe a fam-
ily that’s had a really terrible year
of fussing and fghting. They might
get together around Christmas, out
of the sake of tradition. Before you
know it, years of discord and anger
are untangled with just a little
laughter. Well, you know who’s
behind that, right? They don’t call
him jolly for nothing!
It’s a bizarre phenomenon, but
when people start to grow up they
get preoccupied with silly things
like details and facts. They think
that if they can’t see something, it
doesn’t exist.
But, Santa is sorta like love. I
don’t know what color love is or
what shape and size it comes in,
but I still feel it in my heart when
I snuggle my babies or give my
parents a big hug.
We can worry about facts and
fgures and details all year long, but
at Christmas, it’s enough to just be-
lieve. Don’t worry what anyone else
may say or think. It’s okay to still
believe in Santa Claus. I promise
he’s real.
Holli Petersen, a forever believer
Is Santa Claus real?
50 December 2013 | theVIPmag.com

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