Culinaria Restaurant Weeks in January to support local eateries

Culinaria Restaurant Weeks will be a month long promotion to support local eateries. Photo: Culinaria San Antonio, used with permission.

Culinaria Restaurant Weeks’ bi-annual event to promote local eateries begins January 2 and runs through January 31, 2021 and is offering three course lunch and dinner menus for both dine-in and to-go.  Due to the current situation limiting capacity to 50% for dine-in, Culinaria encourages to-go and curbside pick-up. Three course lunch menus are $20 and dinner menus are $35 and $45, and most also offer bar beverages for take-out. (Culinaria, 2020) 

Guest safety and satisfaction is a priority. All participating restaurants are enforcing safety procedures and protocols when it comes to sanitizing and service. 

Reservations are required for those preferring to dine-in. For a complete list of participating restaurants and to view menu options visit Culinaria online. While there, visit the Hospitality Fund tab for information on how you can help furloughed workers and businesses on the financial brink. 

“Restaurants are continuously adapting, so keep in mind that hours are subject to change along with availability of some menu items. Restaurant teams are working hard to provide the best experience and service while working under unusual circumstances,” says Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, president and CEO, Culinaria. 

“The mission of Culinaria has always been to promote San Antonio as a culinary destination, and, to support the restaurant and hospitality community when they need us in times of financial hardship or family emergencies, as they have been there for the community in times of hardship – natural disasters, flood and hurricane relief. So, we ask the community to give what you can to help restaurant owners keep their establishments operational. Donations are 100 percent tax deductible.” – Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge.


Junker Blues Series honored by The Book Publicists of Southern California

Lon E Varnadore was awarded the 2020 Irwin Award for Best Science-Fiction Series. Photo: amazon

Long Beach resident and acclaimed author Lon E. Varnadore is the winner of the 2020 Irwin Award for the Best Science-Fiction Series for his Junker Blues Series.  The announcement was made during the 26th Annual Book Publicists of Southern California Awards, a virtual event held earlier in December. (Black Château, 2020)

The Book Publicists of Southern California award began in 1995 and is named after Irwin Zucker, a legend in the book publicity and promotions industry, and founder of the BPSC.

Lon E. Varnadore has been a self-published author since 2015 with the sci-fi noir “Mostly Human.” He continues working on his award-winning space opera series Junker Blues, a sword-and-planet series called the Known World Series, and additional 4Pollack novels.  His other works include urban fantasy noir with “Janus City,” space Opera with “Blood for the Empress” and even military sci-fi with “I.S.S. Starkiller.”

The Junker Blues Series is a thrilling space opera set against the background of stunningly detailed universes and built around gruff heroes. In “Mars,” the first book in the series, Marcus Redding, a bold junkologist, is forced to flee trouble and flies straight into the crosshairs of the Martian Defense Force’s artillery. Crashing hard on the sandstorm-ravaged Red Planet, Marcus fights for survival alongside the mind-penetrating co-pilot he is still not sure he can trust. In the second book, “The Belt,” Marcus is challenged to use his skills and intuition to navigate not only the space but also the threats posed by new acquaintances and old friends.

“I am thrilled and honored to receive the 2020 Irwin Award for the Best Science-Fiction Series. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction, and getting recognition in the genre I adore makes it even more special. I’d like to thank Irwin Zucker and the competition judges for making me this honor and congratulate the other winners.” – Lon E. Varnadore.

New release: ‘The Mystery of Mrs. Christie’ by Marie Benedict

‘The Mystery of Mrs. Christie’ by Marie Benedict is out today. Photo: amazon

Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms, who found her calling unearthing the hidden stories of women. Her mission is to unearth the most important, complex, and fascinating women of history and bring them to present day to unlock the depth of their contributions. She is the best-selling author of “The Other Einstein,” “Carnegie’s Maid,” “The Only Woman in the Room,” and “Lady Clementine.” Her new book “The Mystery of Mrs. Christie” is out today and reconstructs one of the most notorious events in literary history: Agatha Christie’s mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926. (amazon, 2020)

After Agatha Christie disappears, investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond. The only clues include tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car — strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away. The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. In “The Mystery of Mrs. Christie,” with her trademark historical fiction exploration into the shadows of the past, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings readers into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such murky historical mysteries. What is real and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play and what was he not telling investigators?

Whataburger Spicy Chicken Sandwich and BBQ Bacon Burger are back

Whataburger’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich is back for a limited time. Photo: Whataburger, used with permission.

Whataburger’s long-requested Spicy Chicken Sandwich was such a big hit when it was introduced in September that they decided to keep it around a little longer – and it is now on a new brioche bun. Also back is the BBQ Bacon Burger, perfect for BBQ lovers everywhere. Both items are available now for a limited time and prices vary by market. (Whataburger, 2020)

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich starts with a perfectly marinated, crispy chicken filet, topped with a fresh, cool leaf lettuce, pickles, and mayo, on a new delicious brioche bun. The BBQ Bacon Burger has three slices of savory bacon, smoked cheddar, and Monterey Jack – paired with two of Whataburger’s 100% fresh, pure beef patties, and a smoky tangy BBQ sauce, all atop a five-inch bun.

Whataburger has been making burgers since 1950 when Harman Dobson opened a humble hamburger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He wanted customers to take one bite and say, “What a burger” so he named his stand on Ayers St “Whataburger.” Whataburger now has over 800 locations across the country and continues to deliver fresh, made to order meals every day with superior customer service.  Community support includes charitable giving and volunteerism to nonprofit organizations that focus on children’s charities, cancer research, hunger assistance, disaster relief and military support.

Reconnecting with my home town: Veterans Park

Veterans Park in Brownsville. Photo: Sandra Cruz

Part one in a series of posts meant to help me reconnect with my home town and the areas around it while educating the public about the numerous places to see and experience. First of is Veterans Park in Brownsville. Last week I took a trip to see it for myself since I have never been here before, having been gone from the area for almost 20 years. What I found was a respectful and educational memorial to the areas’ veterans.

Veterans Park is located next to the city library and shares an entrance drive and parking.  It consists of veteran memorial walls and placards, a multi-purpose lawn, a walking path, and landscaping. Celebrating the rich heritage of veterans from the Brownsville community, this park is a beautiful living memorial. (City of Brownsville, 2020)

The park focuses on large concave concrete slabs that include the names of Brownsville area veterans from World War II to Afghanistan with each slab holding 40 names each. Currently there are more than 50,000 names of both living and deceased soldiers native to Brownsville. The center of the memorial contains three large flag poles centered on a concrete base with a start embedded within it. There is also a memorial to Medal of Honor Recipient, and Brownsville native, Sergeant Jose M Lopez.

The monument honors veterans from World War II to current conflicts, including the Afghanistan War and its Operation Enduring Freedom. The American Legion aimed to make the park an educational extension of the library by creating two murals showing the locations of conflicts on world maps from the 18th century to present.

If you decide to visit a park or trail, please abide Second Amended Emergency Order guidelines.  Protect yourself and others. Make sure you are wearing a face mask (face covering) and always practice social distancing.  Maintain distance–Stay 6 feet away from other people.  Avoid mass gathering. No crowds, no groups

The DoSeum celebrates with Virtual Countdown for kids

The DoSeum’s new year countdown will be virtual this year. Photo: The DoSeum, used with permission.

This year, The DoSeum is keeping its annual New Year’s Noon countdown tradition alive with a virtual celebration for the whole family to enjoy at home. Families are invited to join from home for a fun-filled Facebook LIVE event on Thursday, December 31 at 11:45a.m. with a hands-on celebration.  (The DoSeum, 2020)

Everyone can make their own Confetti Poppers to prepare for the noon countdown for kids. Creating a confetti popper is a fun activity the whole family can do together with easy to find supplies: balloons, four-inch-long cardboard tube (e.g., from a roll of toilet paper), scissors, tape and glue, colored paper, stickers, markers, and confetti (pre-packaged or cut some paper into small pieces). No registration is required for this event.  Families are encouraged to use #TheDoSeum in their social media posts to connect with and engage with other families participating in this fun virtual event.  

The DoSeum is a place where interactive fun and hands-on learning come together—a place where minds are always at play. The DoSeum offers exhibits, programs, camps, classes, and field trips designed for all learners, encouraging young minds to explore the joy of learning through connections to STEM, the arts, and literacy. Originally founded as San Antonio Children’s Museum, The DoSeum has grown over the past 25 years to become a premier leader in informal education, while still staying true to the mission of connecting families and transforming communities. As a 501(c)(3), The DoSeum is committed to accessible and free programming to low-income San Antonio-area children, with a goal of serving 10,000 kids from Title I schools annually.

Book review: ‘Greatest Love’ by Dr. & Master Zhi Gang Sha

‘Greatest Love’ by Dr. & Master Zhi Gang Sha with Master Maya Mackie.

Dr. and Master Zhi Gang Sha is a world-renowned healer, Tao Grandmaster, philanthropist, humanitarian, creator of Tao Calligraphy and an eleven-time The New York Times bestselling author.  In 2016 Master Sha received rare and prestigious appointments as Shu Fa Jia (National Chinese Calligrapher Master) and Yan Jiu Yuan (Honorable Researcher Professor), the highest titles a Chinese calligrapher can receive, by the State Ethnic of Academy of Painting in China.  A Master Teacher personally trained by Master Sha, Master Maya Mackie is dedicated to empowering humanity.  As one of the top trainers at the Tao Academy, Master Maya teaches people how to apply soul power to every aspect of life, including health, relationships, finances, business, pets, and more.  In “Greatest Love: Unblock Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day with the Power of Unconditional Love,” they show readers how to use unconditional love to receive blessings and melt all blockages to enrichen their lives.

“Greatest Love” begins with an Introduction that explains the purpose of the book: “to share with you sacred wisdom and powerful yet simple practices that can empower you to help your loved ones, humanity, and Mother Earth through this challenging period of time.”  These include simple ancient techniques such as chanting powerful mantras and revolutionary new techniques using Tao Source Calligraphies to empower readers to enhance and transform all life. Chapter 1 defines greatest love as unlimited and unconditional.  The top ten qualifies of this love are ‘greatest’: love, forgiveness, compassion, light, humility, harmony, flourishing, gratitude, service, and enlightenment. Chapters include: The Power and Significance of Greatest Love (Da Ai), What is Tao Source Calligraphy?, Apply Tao Source Calligraphy to Enrich and Bless Your Life, and Chant and Trace Tao Calligraphy to Serve Humanity and Mother Earth.

One school of thought states that we create our own karma, whether good or bad, depending on our actions. “Greatest Love” makes that point when describing “Shen,” which includes the soul, heart, and mind, which can become polluted or blocked. Simply put, bad karma blocks the soul, good karma unblocks it: “Karma is the root cause of success and failure in every aspect of life.” This is the underlying message that the authors successfully are putting out there and the exercises, chants and meditation techniques all strive to help create good karma and positive flow to help readers change their lives.  It is a small book, made to be carried everywhere as a source of constant enrichment. The language is simple to understand and whenever necessary, the terms and practices used are defined, since it references spiritualism and Taoist philosophy. “Greatest Love” contains positive messages of self-healing and improvement and is recommended for readers who appreciate alternative methods of self-help and spiritual guidance.

“Currently, Heaven and human beings are not joined as one. They are not in alignment. We believe this is why we are seeing so many natural disasters, economic and political challenges, war, diseases, and more.”

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Upcoming release: ‘The Commander’ by Kevin Groh

The US version of ‘The Commander’ by Kevin Groh releases on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Photo: amazon

Kevin Groh is an author born and raised in Hesse, Germany who has been imagining stories and other worlds since early childhood. He visited the United States often and fell in love with the openness of Americans and the non-judgmental environment that accepted him for who he was — a gamer and a nerd. Passionate about the English language, Kevin mastered it by reading, watching movies, playing video games, and traveling. He holds a bachelor’s degree as an industrial engineer with a focus on electrical engineering but by his early 20s, became a sensation in the German sci-fi market with his highly imaginative stories. His Omni Legends book series includes the best-selling subseries, “The Commander,” “The Black Wanderer,” and “The Shadow Guard.” Kevin was an Amazon Kindle Select All-Star in sales every month from August to December in 2019. The young author is now ready to entertain a US readership looking for its next page-turner as the first book in the series, “The Commander” is releasing in the United States on January 5, 2021.  It is young adult fiction for young men and sci-fi lovers filled with adventure, suspense, and action and now available for pre-order on Amazon. (Black Château, 2020)

“The Commander – Guardian of Utopia” is the first book in the US version of the epic New Adult military sci-fi fantasy Omni Legends series. Welcome to Utopia-humanity’s second home for over two centuries. It is a world controlled by the military and corporations, waging war with advanced alien races, but 18-year-old Carter Sanders is about to change the rules of the game. Freshly recruited into boot camp, he needs all his brains and ability to survive skirmishes and develop allies among his fellow-recruits who resent his privilege. Training exercises in weaponry, close-quarter combat, strategy and tactics, and missions test his bravery, while female recruits test his moral fiber in close situations. When bionic upgrades for soldiers become mandatory, Carter feels he needs to take a stand. Can he and his mismatched fellow-recruits get their message about preserving morale through to the top brass? Will they survive sadistic drill sergeant Banes before they are sent off to battle giant, scaled Lorgans on unknown worlds?

Whataburger makes childhood wishes come true

Whataburger delivered on childhood dreams for a selected group of fans. Photo: Whataburger, used with permission.

As a year, 2020 has been more Scrooge than Santa, more coal than cookies, more “no, no, no!” than “Ho, Ho, Ho!” But for some of Whataburger’s biggest fans, it was the year that their childhood wishes came true.  Whataburger asked fans across its social channels “What’s the one thing you asked Santa for but never got?” Then, Whataburger surprised 15 lucky fans across the United States from Arizona to Florida with their childhood dream gifts. These included retro game consoles, action figures, model cars, Legos, light sabers and more.  Santa even hand-delivered gifts to two lucky fans in his orange hot-rod sleigh, a 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe.  His gift bad also included their favorite Whataburger meals and Whataburger-For-A Year gift basket. (Whataburger, 2020)

Whataburger has been making burgers since 1950 when Harman Dobson opened a humble hamburger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He wanted customers to take one bite and say, “What a burger” so he named his stand on Ayers St “Whataburger.” Whataburger now has over 800 locations across the country and continues to deliver fresh, made to order meals every day with superior customer service.  Community support includes charitable giving and volunteerism to nonprofit organizations that focus on children’s charities, cancer research, hunger assistance, disaster relief and military support.

Book review: ‘Act of Revenge’ by John Bishop, M.D.

‘Act of Revenge’ is the third book in the Doc Brady series. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

John Bishop M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon, keyboard musician and author of the beloved Doc Brady mystery series. The series includes “Act of Murder,” “Act of Deception,” “Act of Revenge,” “Act of Negligence,” “Act of Fate” and “Act of Atonement.” Jim Bob Brady, the protagonist, is an accomplished orthopedic surgeon with a talent for solving medical mysteries who also moonlights as a blues musician. The series is set in the 1990s and features Houston and Galveston locales. In “Act of Revenge,” Jim Bob Brady is once again helping in an investigation, this time in regards to Lou Edwards, one of his colleagues, who is the prime suspect in the murder of Paul Thompson, the CEO of an insurance company.

In “Act of Revenge,” Doc Brady and his wife Mary Louise are in Colorado for a combined continuing education conference and ski getaway when he crashes into another skier. That skier turns out to be Lou Edwards, a plastic surgeon from Houston and a colleague of Jim Bob Brady. Once back in Texas, Lou has knee surgery and while he is in the hospital, Mary Louise spends time with Mimi, Lou’s wife.  As it turns out, Mimi has lupus along with other health issues brought on by leakage of her breast implants, which were inserted by Lou.  Lou is being sued multiple times for other faulty silicone breast implants and because of that, his medical malpractice insurance has been cancelled.  Days later, he shows up at a protest downtown at the office of that insurance company and while being interviewed, he threatens Paul Thompson live on the air.  Later that same day, Paul is found murdered in his luxury penthouse and Lou, being the main suspect, disappears. Since he has successfully helped before, Jim Bob is brought into the investigation and with the help of his son J.J., he follows the paper trail to uncover the real killer.

In “Act of Revenge,” John Bishop M.D. once again takes his real-life knowledge as an orthopedic surgeon to give his writing an authentic voice even though the medical aspect of the story is not the mystery. Jim Bob Brady is once more lured into an investigation that puts him in the crosshairs and this time he is trying to find out who killed Paul Thompson. He is almost run off the road: “As I slammed on the brake and ducked down into the seat, the sound of a sonic explosion, followed by shattering glass, deafened me” and towards the end, he is held captive at gunpoint. Descriptions of the author’s native Texas are spot on, especially Houston and the characters are familiar, believable, and relatable. Except for the sections explaining plastic surgery and medical insurance, it is an easy read and the story is entertaining and light-hearted. The language is poetic at times: “The evening was spectacular, an unusually clear, starlit night with a half-moon shining through the cloudless sky” and acts as a transition between the dialogue. The extensive backstory on Felicia Edwards (Lou Edwards’ daughter) and Annie Harrison makes it seem it seem like revenge was a motive in Paul’s murder so the plot twist at the end came as a surprise. Even though this is the third in the Doc Brady series, it stands perfectly fine on its own and should not dissuade readers who have not read the previous books. A definite page-turner, “Act of Revenge” is a must-read for fans of murder mysteries who appreciate the intricacies of the medical profession as background and want to learn more about the different types of plastic surgeries.

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.