BayouLife Magazine December 22

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Cozy up this holiday season with a mug of orange and clove hot chocolate. Delicious seasonal spices take center stage in this Christmas cocoa.



Popcorn is an inexpensive and playful Christmas garnish. Use popcorn to informally drape around an evergreen garland, or string and hang on your Christmas tree. Gather the family around a large bowl of popped kernels and trim the tree together.


Wake up Christmas morning to these delectable dishes from local restaurants. From pillowy croissants to luscious egg bites, this brunch spread is seasonally-inspired.



For over 100 years the Princes Theatre has served as the lifeblood of downtown Winnsboro.



This holiday season snuggle up in winter’s finest looks. Find flirty dresses and luxurious layers from local boutiques. b




Because of his business success, his “always glad to help” attitude, and his willingness to support this region, Sonny Panzico is our December Bayou Icon.

APRIL 2018

We’ve asked some of our favorite Northeast Louisiana bakeries to spruce up their best Christmas tree confections for our annual Holiday Bake-Off. Gather around the Christmas tree and enjoy these creations.



The elegance of Catherine Tonore’s formal décor has also extended to her adornments for the happiest time of the year, making Christmas at the Tonores an extravagant nod to traditional aesthetics and fostering a spirit of merriment.



Betty Crouch picked up pottery at 67-years-old. This hobby turned career has given Crouch purpose, something she was desperate for when she began devoting more of her time and energy to it over a decade ago.



Nestled between the diverse antique shops lining the Cotton Port Historic District of Downtown West Monroe stands a delectable scratch bakery and coffee bar named Sweet Loves.

172 86 76 DECEMBER 2022 32

One of my favorite things about the holiday season are the scents. I can’t wait until November rolls around so I can light up my Frasier fir candle and sprinkle everything with cinnamon and spice. As a child, I remember my mom making spiced tea. She’d grab a big bowl and mix in the ingredients and divide it up in mason jars. It was a great gift idea for our neighbors and her fellow teachers. I looked forward to sneaking some for myself and could usually find a stash in our cabinets, perfect for chilly days or when I felt a cold coming on. I was super happy to find a similar version of my mom’s tea at Butter Bakery. It’s a simple thing like a childhood memory that really makes holidays special.

This year I’m not sure where I’ll be spending Christmas. I do know that I want to have a tree up, but I have no idea which house it will be. I try to remember a post my friend made recently, and to be thankful for what we have and not what we don’t. I know that I will be with my family and that is the greatest gift.

After 47 years in the business, this fellow knows his plants, chemicals, and hardscape better than just about anyone. His body of knowledge built on experience -- which he freely offers to his customers -- is worth more than anything he sells. Because of his business success, his “always glad to help” attitude, and his willingness to support this region, Sonny Panzico is our December BayouIcon. Read his story on page 142.

Nestled between the diverse, antique shops lining the Cotton Port Historic District of Downtown West Monroe stands a delectable scratch bakery and coffee bar. Not only is it ready to fill your holiday season with holly jolly sweets, but it may just transport you to fond childhood memories. From

golden-crusted pies, layered cakes, and warm, gooey cookies, ‘tis the season to treat oneself and those we love at Sweet Loves Bakery. Read about this month’s BayouEats on page 172.

Looking for the best gifts this holiday season? Our comprehensive gift guide has something for even the most difficult person on your list. Find it on pages 192197.

We’ve had some amazing accomplishments this year, especially with the number of changes that we’ve faced. Our staff, writers, photographers and advertisers are truly the best and we couldn’t do it without each and every person involved. I want to send out a special thank you to my staff for all their hard work: Nathan Coker, Katelyn Tolbert, Sarah McElroy, Courtney Thomas, Taylor Bennett, Cindy Foust, Kelly Moore Clark, and (honorary) Meagan Russell. This holiday season, let’s let the peace of the season shine throughout the community and goodwill be done everywhere.

With all my love and thanks, we truly hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of BayouLife Magazine. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and happy holiday.


1201 Royal Avenue Monroe, LA 71201 Phone 318.855.3185


PUBLISHER & OWNER Cassie Livingston




Katelyn Tolbert

Courtney Thomas

Sarah McElroy

ART DIRECTOR Taylor Bennett



Darian Atkins Dr. Mohamed Bakeer

Dan Chason

Kenny Covington

Tom Faber

Cindy Gist Foust

Starla Gatson

Kerry Heafner

April Honaker

Heather Land

Paul Lipe

Erin Love

Meredith McKinnie

Guy Miller

J. Preston Parry, MD

Georgiann Potts

.Delia Simpson

Beatrice A. Tatem

Vanelis Rivera

Judy Wagoner

Danelle Ware

Robert Wright


Kelly Moore Clark

Curtis Hilbun Prajal Prasai


Mallory Kirksey wearing gown from Eleven 26 Boutique. Special thanks to Jennifer Zimmerman for use of her car. Hair and Makeup by Meka Bennett. Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark.Art direction by Taylor Bennett. Thanks to Nathan Coker and Abby Gifford.

BayouLife Magazine is published and distributed by Redbird Publishing, LLC. Postal subscriptions ($30) can be ordered online at BayouLife Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited photographs, manuscripts, or other materials. Opinion columns do not represent the views of the publisher. Reproduction of contents without express written permission is prohibited.

50 Cassie

Bruyninckx Medical Clinic

Homegrown Healthcare From Dr. Kyle Bruyninckx

DOCTOR KYLE BRUYNINCKX, OR DR. B AS HE IS affectionately known by most of his patients, was born & raised in Richland Parish and there is nowhere he would rather practice medicine. Bruyninckx Medical Clinic was founded in Rayville and opened its doors in March of 2021. While launching a new business in the middle of a global pandemic might not have been the most highly recommended venture, Dr. B wanted to better serve the people of northeast Louisiana in a more comprehensive way in unprecedented times.

With a focus on homegrown healthcare in a setting where the practitioner-patient relationship can thrive, Bruyninckx Medical Clinic (BMC) is a dream come true. Dr. B graduated from Riverfield Academy in Rayville, followed by Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, completing both medical school and his dual residency of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport in 2012. On the home front, Kyle is a husband to his wonderful wife, Jodee and a father to their 4 precious blessings, their children – Joe, Mary Rose, Becca and Sam. His faith and family are the foundation on which he has been able to accomplish his goal of opening this clinic.

When asked why he wanted to come back home to start his practice, Dr. B said “the people from this area are some of the finest people I’ve ever met and I wanted to spend my time helping make their lives better.” After having the privilege of working with Dr. Ralph Abraham for several years and seeing what an impact a personal relationship with patients can have, it inspired him to try and replicate that type of environment. BMC specializes in treating patients from newborn to grandparents in the kind and compassionate way that we would want to be treated. The clinic in Rayville offers in-house X-Ray, IV treatments, lab including covid/flu/RSV PCR in under an hour, diabetic and elderly footcare, Kid-Med and adult/pediatric vaccinations. We offer help with smoking cessation, treatment of a variety of acute and chronic conditions and wellness programs. The clinic also offers an electronic portal with easy access to all test results and the ability to message nurses and providers without having to call and wait. BMC strives to cover all your clinical needs under one roof to get you on the road to health as quickly as possible.

The provider team at BMC is rounded out with two excellent providers, Nurse Practitioner Mikala Ramirez and Physician’s Assistant Bailey Woodward. Mikala is from central Louisiana and is a wife to Paul and a mom of two sweet little ones. Mikala sees all patients but especially love’s seeing “her babies” in the Kid-Med program and doing wound care. She

is a bright light to BMC and to her patients, serving them with the utmost professionalism and joy. Bailey Woodward, PA was raised in Richland Parish and is excited to provide patient centered care to her hometown and surrounding areas. She enjoys diabetic management and women’s wellness but provides care for all patients. Her compassionate nature and attention to detail provide patients with kindness and thoughtful treatment. Bailey is a wife to Duane and a mom to two adorable boys.

The clinic also boasts a wonderful team of nurses with Mrs. Rhonda and Mrs. Kristie keeping Diedre, Angie, Jadah and Trish organized. BMC has a caring and personal front office led by Mrs. Tasha, and including Bri and Joyce, and a joyful group of medical assistants who keep the clinic running. Our lab technicians have years of experience and look to provide as painless a blood draw as possible and our x-ray technician, Jessica, does an excellent job getting films on everyone from infants to grandparents. Everyone on the team has deep roots in the area and want to provide personal and professional care to all our patients.

Now more than ever it is imperative to stay up to date with your primary care provider, who is your partner in healthcare. Regular check-ups, bloodwork and wellness visits can help in maintaining your health, as well as preventing, detecting, and treating acute and chronic diseases. The providers at BMC work together in an integrative approach to provide you with the best care possible.

Being board-certified in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Dr B has the capacity to treat the whole family in a single setting with personalized and professional care and to partner with parents to prevent, detect and manage physical, behavioral and developmental issues that can impact ages newborn through adulthood. Your health is your lifelong focus, and you should have the continuity of care with providers focused on your whole life health. This is exactly what BMC does best for you and your whole family.

While providing health care for our patients is our main goal, we feel at BMC that trying to show God’s love and grace to anyone who comes into the clinic is of the utmost importance. We recognize that our best efforts can only provide temporary relief and comfort while God’s healing provides an eternal cure. During these difficult times we pray daily for God’s intervention and help in everything that we do and ask for his guidance in all of our care and treatment.

Dr. B, Mikala and Bailey all know that the best care is right here at home and would be happy to see you! Call today to make an appointment or walk-ins are welcome.


Marsala Beverage Company

Budweiser Introduces Holidays Can

AB INBEV’S BUDWEISER BRAND IS KICKING OFF THE holiday season by unveiling 2022 Limited-Edition Holiday cans along with a program aimed at celebrating people who have to work over the holidays. The cans feature the Budweiser Clydesdales and warm, traditional holiday colors, and will be shown in out of home and social media ads throughout the holiday season.

Budweiser’s Clydesdales were introduced to the U.S. public in 1933 and have long been used in marketing materials by Budweiser. The regal horses have proven to be effective at invoking nostalgic feelings toward Budweiser and its long history as an iconic U.S. brand. Kristina Punwani, Head of Marketing, Budweiser USA at Anheuser-Busch, confirms that this year’s holiday cans were inspired by nostalgia. She states, “Everything about this year’s limited-edition holiday cans was inspired by nostalgia. The cans feature the Clydesdales, who have a longstanding tradition of being front and center on these cans, as well as Budweiser’s vintage bowtie design which evokes a sense of nostalgia, especially from our longtime fans. We want our cans to remind consumers that Budweiser has been a part of their holidays for years and we are excited to continue sharing in those special memories.”

The nostalgic feel of the cans, which include Budweiser’s vintage bowtie, is designed to evoke the comfort that people associated with the holiday season over their lifetimes. As part of the campaign, Budweiser is running a sweepstakes for those who have to work on holidays they celebrate that offer gift cards up to $100 for the purpose of having follow up meals with loved one or to enjoy a beer on Budweiser. Beginning on November 15th, consumers 21 and over who have to work on the holidays can enter the sweepstakes by replying to Budweiser’s social posts with #BudForHolidays and #Sweepstakes.

Adolphus Busch, journeyed to America from Germany in 1857, determined to make his dreams come true. Adolphus wasted no time once he landed in St. Louis, and started work at a brewing supply company. Among his clients was Eberhard Anheuser (the name might sound familiar), who owned what was then known as E. Anheuser & Company. Adolphus married Eberhard’s daughter, Lilly, in 1861.

Adolphus was drawn to St. Louis because of the city’s large German population. But a large German population meant a lot of beer, which in turn meant a lot of competition for Adolphus and Eberhard’s brewery. Luckily, Adolphus was a talented salesman with an eye for innovation. He wasn’t about to be discouraged by competition.

Recognizing the need to expand outside of St. Louis to places with a less-crowded beer market, Adolphus stayed close to emerging technologies and developments that could make expansion possible. One major development was pasteurization, which increased the shelf life of bottled beers by up to four months, and allowed for further shipping. In fact, Adolphus pasteurized his beer before America pasteurized milk.

Refrigerated rail cars also helped Adolphus ship his beer across long distances, but they were expensive. He took matters into his own hands and started a company to build the rail cars faster, and for less money. A network of rail-side ice houses followed shortly after, and before long, Anheuser-Busch was taking the entire country by storm.

Before Budweiser was introduced, many Americans were drinking heavy, dark ales. But St. Louis summers were hot – perfect for a palatable, crisp lager. So Adolphus jumped on the opportunity to create and brew a beer that would be perfect for those hot summers. And he always knew a great beer when he tasted one.

Budweiser’s smoothness and drinkability was a success. Thanks to Adolphus’s expansive shipping network, Budweiser quickly became wildly popular not just in St. Louis, but in America. And we’ve stayed true to the recipe ever since.


Known as “The King of Beers,” Budweiser was first introduced by Adolphus Busch in 1876 and it’s still brewed with the same high standards today. Budweiser is a medium-bodied, flavorful, crisp American-style lager that is 5% ABV. Brewed with the best barley malt and a blend of premium hop varieties, it is an icon of core American values like optimism and celebration.

Marsala Beverage is a locally-based company that employs about 100 full -time employees, which all live and support the community of Northeast Louisiana. Each employee bases his or her success on never losing sight of delivering what is really important – quality products, timely service and a genuine concern for our customers’ needs.

Please find us at or follow us on social media: Facebook: Marsala Beverage Twitter: @marsalabeverage1 Instagram: @marsalabeverage


Alumni Spotlight

ULM Alums: Joe and Linda Holyfield

JOE AND LINDA HOLYFIELD ARE DEVOTED TO OUR community and committed to ULM’s vision for the region.

Though they met at Ouachita Parish High School, the power couple solidified their commitment to one another while attending ULM. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in southern California, Linda Holyfield was a Monroe transplant and attended ULM on a President’s Scholarship for academic achievement. Joe Holyfield was born and raised in this area and decided to attend ULM because of the institution’s convenience and affordability. As college freshmen excited to spread their wings, Joe and Linda wrestled with paths of study. Joe initially chose marketing but was better suited for construction, as he worked odd carpentry and painting jobs while in school. Linda originally considered education but ended up in the nursing program where she encountered the now-retired Nancy Albright Lowery. The professor’s standards raised the bar for nursing students, as Lowery insisted ULM nursing students be uniquely qualified to serve in healthcare positions. Linda and Lowery became friends after Linda graduated and remain close today. The college experience was a time of building relationships for the Holyfields, for their future careers and with each other.

After graduation, Linda accepted a staff nurse position in the St. Francis ICU. With the benefit of her intense nursing school training, Linda continued to learn on the job. She grew into a managerial role where she has spent the rest of her career. After running the ICU emergency department, Linda was approached by St. Francis to develop several healthcare services. She thinks in systems and was well-suited to the challenge. Mrs. Holyfield developed the first Community Health Center, the Northeast Louisiana Cancer Institute, and the Hill Clinic on Jackson Street for the underserved. Linda developed the initial open heart program and then became the CEO of P&S Surgical Center, a position she held for the next 20 years. She has spent her entire career advancing healthcare services in this region. As part owner in Alli Management Solutions, Linda now does consulting for other healthcare entities in the region.

Joe Holyfield founded Holyfield Construction and then Holyfield Inc. He began building homes and expanded into upper-end, custom commercial projects. The company is responsible for several

noteworthy designs and building projects in this region, such as the ULM President’s Home on Bon Aire Drive that was constructed during Dr. Cofer’s tenure. Joe notes that the home is the prettiest presidential residence in the state of Louisiana. Holyfield Construction oversees 99% of the projects on the Tower Drive Corridor. The Holyfields also own CC’s Coffee and Delta Biscuit Company on Tower Drive. The company developed Egret Landing, an upper-end subdivision behind Lumen Technologies in North Monroe and the 172-unit apartment building called The Reserve on Bayou Desiard. Holyfield Construction has been awarded the Bayou Buzz Award for Best Builder for the last several years. Mr. Holyfield is proud of the development in this company, particularly leaving behind a physical legacy for the community to enjoy.

The Holyfields’ children followed in their parents’ footsteps. Chris Daniel Holyfield graduated from ULM in biology and is now the vice president of Holyfield Construction. Lisa Marie Holyfield also graduated from ULM in business and serves as the vice president of Holyfield Inc. Their grandson Christopher Holyfield is now attending ULM as a construction major. Mr. Holyfield claims his children have taken the companies to another level, providing innovation and a fresh vision.

As chairman of the Ouachita Economic Development Corporation, Mr. Holyfield helped secure the existing real estate from State Farm’s move out of Monroe. The funds acquired from its sale provide economic development opportunities when new companies come to the area. Mr. Holyfield serves as chairman of the Biomedical Research & Innovation Park, the grant-funded independent corporation that will support the growth of the biotechnical industry in this region. Linda served as past president of the ULM Alumni Association, and is now serving a second term on the ULM Foundation Board. She appreciates seeing how the funds directly impact faculty enhancement, student scholarships, and building projects. Mrs. Holyfield insisted ULM is “the community’s best kept secret,” as the quality of academics and the institution far exceeds other schools of its caliber. The Holyfields continue to look forward, encouraged by the sterling leadership at ULM.


Holiday Cheers

Share a Bottle of Wine or Dram from Washington Wine and Spirits

CHRISTMAS IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER AND WE know many of you will be searching for a great gift for the whiskey lovers in your life. In this article we are once again going to focus on our private selections we’ve made throughout the year. These whiskies offer incredible bang for your buck and can only be purchased here at Washington Wine and Spirits. Each one of our barrels that we select must meet our high expectations of quality and value.

Our Blue Note Uncut Juke Joint Bourbon has an interesting story to tell. In June of 2019, the rickhouse that stored much of Blue Note’s inventory collapsed in a terrible summer storm, spilling thousands of barrels and millions of dollars into the muck and mud. Most of the barrels were destroyed by the incredible force of nearly 10 million pounds crumbling six stories to the ground. For the next four months, the barrels were left exposed to the elements before the wreckage could be properly assessed and cleaned up. After the wreckage was cleaned up and every barrel was assessed, the company found that indeed some had survived. Our selection of Juke Joint Uncut is bottled at 117.9 proof or 58.95% and opens with a nose of candied caramel popcorn, peanut brittle, and salt water taffy. On the palate we get buttered toast, Smacks cereal, and salted caramel popcorn. The finish is sweet with notes of salty buttered toast, a touch of oak tannin, and a wisp of cinnamon and brown sugar.

Next we have a bourbon we selected from Wilderness Trail while at the distillery earlier this year. Our selection of this bourbon mashbill (64%corn/24%rye/12%malted barley) from the distillery is bottled at cask strength and is only a touch over 100 proof making for a rich and smooth sipper. The inviting nose of sweet vanilla bean, black Cavendish, rich and salty caramel, and sassafras beckons for you to take a sip. The silky mouthfeel has a slight tickle to the edge of the tongue. The taste of sweet pipe tobacco, vanilla, birch root, chewy caramel, and a dash of cinnamon are a delight. The finish is luxurious, sweet, and ever so slightly spicy. The subtle spice from old school root beer mingles with the rich vanilla and caramel giving the impression of an old fashioned root beer float, in a glass of bourbon.

The next whiskey is another selection we made while visiting Wilderness Trail. This 5 year old rye is bottled at 104.68 proof (52.34%) and has a mesmerizing nose of rich caramel cream, baked apple pie with a buttery crust, spiced vanilla, and a touch of cigar box. In the glass it is the color of golden honey and has a buttery smooth mouthfeel. On the palate you’re met with sweet French toast, a touch of vanilla, sweet orange marmalade, and whisper of spearmint. The finish is surprisingly gentle for cask strength rye with a lingering tingle. The tingle dissipates after

some air. The finish leaves behind flavors of honeyed vanilla caramel and baked apples. This is a great rye to try for those of you who haven’t cared for rye in the past. This is a bourbon drinker’s rye.

As many of you know we are big fans of Barrell Craft Spirit s and our newest Private Blend is a combination of 8 and 14 year old light whiskies with a touch of bourbon that is then finished in Armagnac barrels. For those of you who haven’t heard about light whiskey, it is a 99% corn and 1% malted barley mashbill. It was developed by MGP in the 1970’s to find an alternative to gin and vodka, which had begun to dominate the market. This mashbill was discontinued at MGP in 2012 and since then the older barrels have started getting bought and bottled at advanced ages by different companies who saw the potential for some amazing and forgotten whiskies. The incredible nose leads with a punch of caramel fudge, milk chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and layered vanilla. The palate is rich, exploding with creamy vanilla custard, white chocolate, and pralines. The finish is long and creamy! Flavors reminiscent of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and melted vanilla bean ice cream linger with pleasant sweetness. Bottled at cask strength(128.72 proof) the flavor profile makes for an easy drinking experience.

Our selection from RY3 Whiskey which is a Single Barrel 14 year old Light Whiskey. Whereas the selection highlighted above is a blend of light whiskies, this is just a straight single barrel. This is bottled at 129.6 proof (64.8%) and though that number sounds scary, this drinks as if it were bottled at a much lower proof. On the nose you’ll get butterscotch, brown sugar, milk chocolate, and fresh baked bread pudding. On the palate you’ll get a touch of vanilla and subtle baking spice. This is followed by sweet cinnamon, rich butterscotch, and toasted oak. These flavors carry over to a soft and easy finish. This will shock you with how easy it is to drink as it is the definition of higher proof doesn’t mean more “burn.”

Our 7 year old selection in our vertical series from Pinhook Bourbon has arrived! This whiskey is bottled at 118 proof (59% abv) and is a deep burnished copper in the glass. The nose opens with brown sugar, cherries, honeyed flan, and fresh roasted coffee. The palate opens with sweet vanilla butterscotch, followed by cinnamon raisin bread, and toasted almonds. A long finish is warming and inviting with notes of French vanilla latte, sweet red berries, toasted marshmallow, and bitter dark chocolate. If you have last year’s 6 year old, this is a great opportunity to see the progression of flavor in the barrel over the last year. We know you’ll want to grab one to set next to last year’s.


Seasonal Staircase

MAKE A STATEMENT WITH A BEAUTIFUL BANISTER Taylor created a timeless staircase by draping a Magnolia garland down the rails securing the ends with black and white striped ribbon with a chartreuse bow. Experiment with colors that pick up accent pieces in your home.



Cozy up this holiday season with a mug of orange and clove hot chocolate. Delicious seasonal spices take center stage in this Christmas cocoa.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat and add oranges. Cook and turn frequently until charred. Let cool, then zest oranges and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat. Add cream and whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, cloves, orange extract, salt and charred orange zest. Whisk in milk and 2 cups of water and let simmer until thoroughly heated. Garnish with whipped cream.

WHAT YOU NEED: 2 navel oranges

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

6 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate, orange curls


Birdseed Ornaments


2 cups birdseed

2 packages unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 cup water

12 cookie cutters

3 drinking straws (cut into 2" pieces)


Add 1/2 cup cold water to a large bowl and pour the gelatin on top of the water. Add 1/2 cup boiling water to the mixture and stir until dissolved. Next, stir in corn syrup. Add birdseed and mix. Place bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the liquid firms. Set your cookie cutters onto parchmentlined baking sheet. Fill with birdseed mixture making sure to firmly press to fill gaps. Press the drinking straws into each shape (leave around 1/2" of space between the hole and edge of shape). Place ornaments in refrigerator overnight. Gently pull the ornaments away from edges and push out of cookie cuttters. Next, pull out the straws. Thread twine through the hole and tie in a knot. Hang the ornaments from tree branches.


The Gift of A New Career

Pharmacy Tech and Paramedic Program at Louisiana Delta Community College

ACOMMUNITY COLLEGE EXISTS TO RESPOND to the needs of its communities, hence “community” college. Louisiana Delta Community College prides itself on being responsive to the requests of our regional business partners. It’s our mission! It’s not a hard sell when businesses are thriving; communities are also thriving. When communities are thriving, so are the members of those communities. That’s the space where every town, city, and state wants to be-having skilled laborers in the pipeline, be attractive to new businesses, and have thriving educational systems.

When LDCC learned pharmacies would no longer be able to train their own pharmacy technicians because new laws demanded students to be enrolled in an accredited program, LDCC stepped up to help fill the demand. Immediately, the college’s faculty went to work to get a certification program up and running. Students can now obtain a Certificate of Technical Studies in Pharmacy Technician, which prepares them to secure a job in various settings in the healthcare field. Potential employment includes such places as retail pharmacies, hospitals, specialty pharmacies, long-term care pharmacies, compounding pharmacies, and mail-order pharmacies. The program includes classroom/lab instruction and supervised/preceptor clinical activities. Upon successfully completing this competency-based program, students may be eligible to take a national certification exam and apply for registration as a pharmacy technician with the Louisiana State Board of Pharmacy. The inaugural class has a 100% pass rate on their certification exam and are all currently employed.

The next cohort will start in the spring 2023 semester. Kierra Woods, Pharm Tech completer, says she began college as a nursing major but had to drop out of school. Then, she saw an advertisement about the pharmacy technician program. “I knew I wanted to be in healthcare, so I figured, let me try this out. It’s kinda like being in the medical field, but without touching people, shares Kierra. Passing the certification test wasn’t easy, and the program takes you being focused. You have to put the time in.” Kierra says she plans to return to nursing in a year or so because that’s what she really wants to do. Pharmacy Technician Program Coordinator /Instructor, Misty Moore says all her students were hired before they went to clinicals. “I literally have pharmacies calling me all the time asking me if I have students ready,” says Misty. “We can take about twenty students in a class.” A certified pharmacy

technician’s average salary is between $15-$20/hour. Some students find additional potential for higher wages through other certifications. For instance, being certified to give shots can increase your hourly rate, as well as further education. The pharmacy technician program is three semesters long.

Another stellar program turning out a much-needed skillset is the paramedic program. The LDCC Paramedic Program prepares students to provide advanced prehospital emergency care to patients who have experienced traumatic or medical emergencies. The program curriculum adheres to the National Emergency Medical Education Standards. Upon completion, students will be prepared to take the National Registry written and practical examinations necessary for national certification and licensure as a paramedic in the State of Louisiana. The last cohort boasts a 100% pass rate for their certification. Lizzie Hill completed the requirements to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in 2019, and she returned for a year to complete her paramedic certification. Lizzie says, “I am a single mother of two toddlers, but my instructors worked with me and helped me with what I needed. The program was difficult, but it was doable.” Lizzie is “loving” her new career and is excited that she and all her classmates are employed. Kayla Raines, director of the EMT/Paramedic Program, says that students can get the 45-credit hour technical diploma in EMT or the associate of applied science, which is 60 credit hours. “If they ever want to do anything off the truck, having that associate’s degree will help them,” shares Kayla. The paramedic program will be taking new students in the spring. Kayla says students must be hardworking, determined, self-motivated, and empathetic. When asked about the program’s flexibility to students’ schedules, Kayla said they work with students as much as possible to help them reach their goals.

Both pharmacy technician skills and paramedic skills are in national demand. Both career tracks require focus in the classroom and in the field. Should these careers interest you or someone you know, call Louisiana Delta West Monroe Campus at 318-397-6100 or go online at LDCC congratulates these students on a job well done! Clay Dumolt, Allen Michael Emfinger, Lizzie Hill & Tristen Street (Paramedic) & Molly Barton, Gladys Bridges, Shaqueena Winn & Kierra Woods (Pharmacy Technician)


Holiday Magic

Savoring the True Spirit of the Holiday

WHEW! WE MADE IT TO THE HOLIDAYS. THIS WAS MY initial reaction to this year’s arrival of the holiday season. My reaction to this time of the year is associated with thoughts of comfort and joy to the world, all that is bright and calm, silent nights, peace on earth, and wishes of good tidings. I was talking to a good friend the other day and she said, “Girl I am so ready for the holidays I think I am going to put my tree up.” Mind you it was the first day of November. She went on to say, “Maybe I feel this way because this is the first year in two years when we can really move about.” December and all the holidays within the month are often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. For many people this phrase is tied to Christmas. This year let us not forget Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas. The holiday season means numerous things to many people. For some the holiday season is a time of the year for savoring feelings of merriment, awe, love, delight, amusement, contentment, gratitude, and times spent with family and friends. Some get caught up in the excitement and get carried away with overspending, overeating, overindulgence, and overdoing. For others the holidays can be a stressful and challenging time reflecting loss, disappointment, loneliness, unsavory and unmet expectations. In the rush to prepare ourselves for the holiday is the chaos of societal occurrences and as a result has lessened for some the magic of the season. I encourage all to try something different this year. My thoughts are to start the holiday with the intent of savoring every moment and every aspect of the holiday that is good to you and good for you.

Savoring the holiday spirit is not a mood or emotion itself, but a way we can approach and navigate emotions. Savoring, a practice known to boost happiness levels, is linked to increased well-being, life satisfaction, reduced stress, and decreased depression. Admittedly, when I think of savoring, I think of food. As I have written in the food edition of Bayou Life, I am a “foodie.” The Latin root of the word savor means “to taste.” In this instance I use savoring the spirit of the holiday in the way you might appreciate your favorite dish. Savoring is about being present and conscious in the moment, which can be a challenge amid the numerous distractions in our lives. It means taking in good things, holding on to the experiences captured through interactions and connections. It means taking the time to allow our senses to be awakened by the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the holiday.

Throughout my life, the holiday has been a favorite time of the year …it simply feels magical. During the holiday season people tend to be more generous, more forgiving, more peaceful, and more thoughtful.

Although I look forward to this time of the year, I am reminded others may react differently. The holiday season for many this year is being met with mixed emotions and reactions. When conversing with a young client he made the comment, “Wow, Dr. Tatem, how do you do it, how do you experience joy, how are you so positive when life is not? These days it is hard to look forward to the holiday when the state of humanity is failing, Dr. Tatem we are failing each other right now.” Impressed with his candor I acknowledged there have been troubling events occurring across the world that have affected humanity deeply, especially during a time meant to be joyous and filled with love. I admitted that I too have witnessed a lot of hurt and pain in the world, and at times it seems overwhelming and too much to bear. I shared with the youth that I intentionally savor the positive to insure the bad does not supersede the good.

The holidays can be stressful, and that can make the magic of the season somewhat elusive. To counteract these feelings, allow the holiday to tap into all five of your senses. Soak up emotional, relational, and sensory aspects of pleasant interactions and hold on to them for as long as you desire. When possible, practice the art of savoring, to train your brain to savor even amid hectic or challenging times. Have a self- nurturing holiday. Transform the stress and overwhelming and unsavory aspects of the holiday into delightful experiences. Write a letter to your younger self about your most magical holiday moment. Be mindful, people express love, money and possessions do not... make time for others. Cherish the spirit of the season by cuddling together. Savor your meal, take your time, and enjoy each bite, (hint, hint this will aid in portion control). Create your perfect holiday and savor your experiences.

Ideally, the true spirit of the holiday shines from within -all year long. As a society we end the year in celebration, and we begin the New Year in celebration. The holiday season, regardless of the holiday you celebrate, is a time to let those close to you know you love them unconditionally, to allow the unfamiliar to be comforted by your understanding and to send positive energy into the universe. There is no better time than the holidays to come together and share with others the magic of the season, one you can savor and make special for others. In the spirit of the holiday let us go large with kindness and full force with respect for differences. May you have unwavering peace and unending joy this holiday season and throughout 2023. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous Kwanzaa.

For more information on counseling and outreach services contact Dr. Beatrice Tatem at Wellness Initiatives, LLC, 2485 Tower Drive, Suite 10 Monroe, La 71201, 318-410-1555 or at


The Dixie Center for the Arts

Ready to Entertain North Louisiana in 2023

MICHAEL JACKSON ONCE SAID, “ENTERTAINMENT is about taking people away from the regular order of things when there is some chaos and pain and stress.” The Dixie Center for the Arts in Ruston is doing just that.

In the early days of the twentieth century, before the advent of television and the internet, most towns had a venue that offered entertainment for the community. In 1928 Ruston that venue was the New Astor Theater, which later became the Rialto, then finally in 1937 the Dixie Theater. Still known as the Dixie today, what began as a silent movie house and Vaudeville play theater the Dixie has morphed into so much more. Decades of entertainment have come across the movie screen and stage to thrill the residents of North Louisiana until newer and more modern movie theater options pushed the Dixie out of the movie business in 1978. There were, however, the weekly Joe Wood’s Wildwood Express Show (which still happens yearly as a benefit show for the Dixie), the Dixie Jamboree, and other small plays and events that continued in the 1980s through the 1990s. In October 1993, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, a distinction held by few buildings in Downtown Ruston. By 1994, the theater was in such a state of disrepair and out-of-date with the current codes that it was shut down by the Fire Marshal. The Dixie Center for the Arts, a nonprofit formed by a group of caring citizens, feverishly took on the task of renovating the old building on Vienna Street in Downtown Ruston in 1996 and began restoring her to her former glory (a work in progress), and continues to nurture the building and entertain the community today. One of the fun features of the Dixie is the huge historic chandelier that graces the auditorium with over 15,000 crystals on it. The stunning art deco piece has shined brightly for many years inside while the recent addition of a mural on the north side of the building shines equally as bright on the outside and will grace downtown Ruston for generations to come. The mural sponsored by Valspar and their #bebright initiative was thanks to Sam Burns 2-time winner of the Valspar Championship PGA tournament choosing Ruston and Dixie Center for the Arts to receive this treasure.

In 2006, the Dixie Center for the Arts opened its doors to the Ruston Community and has become a rallying point and home for the arts in Ruston, and North Louisiana. Now the North Central Louisiana Arts Council houses its offices there, the Ruston Community Theatre players

host shows there, and the building is open to rentals for concerts, meetings, and other special events. Fast becoming known as North Louisiana’s premier concert destination, the Dixie Center is excited about the 2023 spring season lineup, with acts sure to please even the most discriminating music lover and such a wide variety of genres that everyone is bound to find something they will enjoy. January has four concerts including Louisiana’s LeRoux on the 14th, world-renowned guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, CGP on the 15th, The grandchildren of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn in a Salute to Conway and Loretta on the 26th, and one of the most sought-after cover bands in the nation Creedence Revived on the 28th. On March 3rd the “Joe Woods Wildwood Express” will take place at the Dixie. This annual tribute show is a popular event at the Dixie and features music from many local artists and several who travel from out of state. The Wildwood Express offers laughter, entertainment, and fun while sharing memories of Joe Woods. On April 15th the Dixie will host Travis LeDoyt who is said to be the World’s best “Young Elvis” in his “Tribute to the King”. On April 21st & 22nd, in Robert King Jr.’s thought-provoking musical “The Voices of Donny Hathaway, he introduces us to a side of Donny Hathaway we’ve never seen before. April 29th will feature the incomparable “Texas Guitar Quartet.” Then May 19th, Yesterday and Today an “Interactive Beatles Experience” will take to the Dixie’s stage to perform the hits of the Beatles.

In October 2022, The Dixie jumped back into the movie scene with a Halloween double-feature of Hocus Pocus and Sleepy Hollow playing on the big screen in the auditorium. Now as the holiday season is upon us, the Dixie is ready to present more movies with a Christmas movie series sponsored by Garden Baby of Ruston. It will feature five movies in five nights for only $5 for each show, including popcorn and a drink. Also, thanks to a grant from Jonesboro State Bank Pledge 10, the Dixie will be hosting a “Summer Matinee Program” from June through August 2023 showing a different movie once a week on Tuesday afternoons free of charge to the community in an effort to expose the Dixie and the Arts to everyone within our community.

To stay abreast of everything happening at the Dixie, you may visit and follow the Dixie on Facebook and Instagram.




Capture the spirit of the season by making time for fun activities with your kids. One of our favorite BayouLife traditions is decorating gingerbread houses. Find a premade kit or bake it yourself, and let the kids decorate with gum drops, peppermints, jelly beans and piped icing. Christmas is something anticipated all year long. Carve time out of your busy schedule and give tender attention to those that mean the most. Set your attentions and make memories that will last a lifetime. Special thanks to our precious exterior decorator Lennon Davidson.

styling by TAYLOR BENNETT photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

Pop Into the Season

Keep popcorn hot and crisp in slow oven (300° to 325°). Butter sides of saucepan. In it, combine remaining ingredients except vanilla. Cook to hard-ball stage (250°). Add vanilla. Pour slowly over hot popped corn, stirring just to mix thoroughly. Butter hands lightly; shape balls. Make 15 to 20 balls.

On the next few pages, we use our favorite grain to create seasonal decorations and holiday treats . WHAT YOU'LL NEED: 5 quarts popped corn 2 cups of sugar 1 1/2 cups water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 teaspoon vinegar 1 teaspoon vanilla

Popcorn Trash

Microwave popcorn and remove any unpopped kernels. Place popcorn in a large bowl. Chop the pecans in half. Combine pretzels, pecans and popcorn. Melt the white chocolate in the micowave, stirring every 20 seconds until it's melted. Pour the white chocolate into the bowl and coat ingredients. Add the M&M’S® and serve.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: 1 bag of microwave popcorn 1 cup pretzel pieces 1 cup pecans 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 1 cup M&M’S®


GarlandPopcorn is an inexpensive and playful Christmas garnish. Use popcorn to informally drape around an evergreen garland, or string and hang on your Christmas tree. Gather the family around a large bowl of popped kernels and trim the tree together.


Make popcorn in microwave and discard burned pieces. Make sure not to use buttered or salted popcorn. Leave the popcorn out for a day so that it stiffens.

Measure about an arm’s length of sewing thread or waxed dental floss. Thread a needle with the wire and tie a knot at the end.

Thread the popcorn through the center of the kernel and pull it all the way through. For a fun twist, mix in a few slices of dried orange slices.

If decorating a tree, make sure to string the lights before the garland. Tie your strings together and then drape around the outer edges.


The Brunch Bunch

Wake up Christmas morning to these delectable dishes from local restaurants. From pillowy croissants to luscious egg bites, this brunch spread is seasonally-inspired.



This beautiful bubble bread is filled with gooey pepperjack cheese, pineapple and scrumptious sausage.



These mini croissants are filled with Deck the Holly - a perfect blend of cranberries and jalapeños. Make sure to grab their grape salad for the table. This dish combines seedless grapes with a cream cheese mixture and brown sugar.

sweet cupcakes
Smallcakes has
for holiday parties. Find Chicken and Waffles, Candied Pig, Cinnamon Roll and Caramel Macchiato – these mouthwatering bites are so satisfying.


These egg bites are made with a blend of farm fresh egg white and premium ingredients.


This seasonal favorite should be a brunch staple. The maple pecan braid is the perfect pastry.


This Bananas Foster Pain Perdu combines house made french bread with caramelized bananarum caramel sauce topped with vanilla creme custard.

styled by Taylor Bennett photography by Kelly Moore Clark



Get ready to start your day with Chicken and Waffles from Restaurant Cotton. This dish combines fried chicken, Belgian waffles, local syrup, cane butter, powdered sugar, fresh strawberries and fruit.


This sparkling wine is bursting with notes of peach, pineapple, mango, mandarin, and watermelon that lead into a bright and fresh palate laced with green apple.

THE MARKET ON JULIA Stone ground cheese grits are smothered in an authentic Cajun cream sauce and perfectly seasoned grilled shrimp.


This charcuterie board is layered with salami, pepperoni, ham, mozzarella, yellow cheddar, grape tomatoes, artichokes, grapes and olives. Served with creole mustard, pesto and crackers.




A salted caramel apple pie cake is made with apple pie compote sandwiched in a vanilla cake topped with caramel cream cheese icing, a salted caramel drizzle and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt. Also pictured is a rich buttered pecan cake topped with luscious vanilla cream cheese icing and studded with spicy sugared pecans.

styled by Taylor Bennett photography by Kelly Moore Clark

Jolly Florals

Lindsey Clark Lowe of Fine Folks was tasked with creating an arrangement to represent a “Holly Jolly Christmas.” This arrangement combines the simple beauty of tapered candles nestled among Playa Blanc roses, spray roses, Delphinium, and holly. Bay leaf and eucalyptus are added to a brushed brass container.

styling by LINDSEY LOWE photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

White Christmas

Clint Downing of Revival Design and Consign created this elegant arrangement that is layered with a pavé of white carnations and creamcolored roses below the surface of the container and around the edges. Babies breath and Scabiosa pods are layered with mini disco balls to create a snow light, snow bright effect. The florals are designed in a crystal compote to mimic ice.

styling by LINDSEY LOWE photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

Cranberry Cocktail

This colorful cocktail is both sweet and spicy, and everything nice. This Christmas cocktail combines seasonal ingredients with whiskey, for a cocktail crafted for holiday parties.

inspired by The College Housewife


2 ounces cranberry juice

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 ounces of whiskey or bourbon

1 tablespoon of rosemary simple syrup


Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to shaker. Fill with cranberry juice simple syrup, whiskey and ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into glass and serve with rosemary and sugared cranberries. (To get the sugar to stick, dip into water and then sugar and let dry.)


Back to Their Roots

A Chic, Tavern-like Hideaway Aesthetic

TWO YEARS AGO, TRIO’S HEADED WEST OPENING UP their second location at Ruston, Louisiana. Proprietor Jenifer Johnson implemented some of her personal style there, resulting in a modern, spacious dining area flushed by ambient lighting. Meanwhile, the Monroe location kept its chic, tavern-like hideaway aesthetic. But that shouldn’t suggest that she wasn’t concocting ideas for the original establishment. Johnson took her time, letting intention and introspection reveal the concept that would welcome a new chapter of the restaurant’s twenty-seven years of serving the Northeast Louisiana community. Currently, Johnson and the Trio’s team is excited to reveal a reconceptualized space inspired by family and culture.

“We went back to our roots,” Johnson says, explaining that the Monroe Trio’s, curled up on the corner of Oliver Road and Forsythe Avenue, was originally a bar and grill. “More like a dive,” further explains Johnson, adding, “I ended up taking it up to a different level.” Though she was tempted to create a version of the Ruston location’s glitz, she eventually realized that the hold of the original location is its small-scale, enclosed feel. Using that as a guide, she thought of the building and the property. And following that trail of nostalgia, she arrived at a memory of her parents. “Their presence was very much here, all the time,” she recalls when thinking of Trio’s first grand opening. That, coupled with a new menu, led her to consider culture by way of food and design. Wanting to evoke the relaxed environment of a lounge mixed with a New Orleans “funky vibe,” the once hideaway now feels like an upscale tavern. Brighter hues, dark walls, pops of color, and whimsical wall accents, provide diners with an intimate and stylish hangout to eat well, have cocktails with friends and connect with loved ones.

“All of our food is housemade,” beams Johnson, who is just as enthused about the new menu items as the interior changes. Though she kept the top ten dishes of the former menu, new appetizers and main dishes have been added, a mix of bar favorites with a twist and savory staples. Johnson’s son, Lleyton Walker is responsible for most of these items. With eight starters on the menu, it’s easy to take a tapas approach to a night out with friends. From baked feta (feta cheese topped with spices, olive oil, garlic, onions, and capers served with French and pita bread) to their steak bites (5. oz filet cooked to your preferred temperature, served with a horseradish dipping

sauce and topped with onion rings), there’s a little something for everyone. Not to mention, one of the new starters was created by one of her longest-employed cooks TJ James and is quickly becoming a customer favorite. The Bloomin’ Truffle Onion is an elevated twist on the blooming onion—deep-fried onion, topped with truffle oil and parmesan cheese. “We’re selling out a lot,” enthuses Johnson.

While loyal customers should expect pizza and pasta selections, the entrée section has a few nuanced dishes that are already gaining traction. The Smash Burger, as the title suggests, is two “smashed” patties with your choice of cheese, house-made sauce, and chopped pickles served on a toasted bun. In the Lleyton’s Chicken Sandwich, diners choose from a mild or “atomic” fried chicken breast made with house spices, topped with a housemade sauce, and served on a brioche bun. For seafood enthusiasts, the fried shrimp poboy is a goto—Louisiana fried shrimp with a spicy habanero mayonnaise and topped with spicy remoulade coleslaw, served on French bread.

“It’s been a rough five years,” she says, recognizing that the challenges have taught her the importance of family’s role in her personal and professional life. While reconceptualizing and revamping one of Monroe’s favorite eateries, the whirlwind was eased by the presence of her two sons Lleyton and Michael Walker, and longtime staff members like manager Paxton Hancock and kitchen manager Darius McCall. “Trio’s has always been a family restaurant,” emphasizes Johnson, whose family is honored in the new space in the form of two large commissioned paintings by Amy Simmermaker. Originally, the paintings were meant to encompass New Orleans vibes, but Simmermaker surprised the Trio’s owner by painting the portraits of Johnson’s mother and father.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Monroe Trio’s has received the update it deserves. Johnson and her dedicated team are ready to share a space that carries the same gusto as the original, all while creating a livelier, more vibrant atmosphere meant to celebrate family and community. In this way, going back to their roots has meant returning to what matters most.

Visit the new snazzy digs at 2219 Forsythe Ave, Monroe, LA. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday between 11 AM to 11 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM. Visit their website or visit their Facebook page for more information on what’s to come.


When Is the Right Time?

For Memory Care Living Assistance

FROM AGE 50 ON, IT’S NOT UNUSUAL TO HAVE occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things. But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs of something more serious.

Dementia is a term used for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. It can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. Dementia can also make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and can even lead to personality changes.

If someone is showing signs of dementia, it’s important to see a medical expert who can conduct tests and come up with a diagnosis. Several, often treatable, conditions — from infections to a vitamin deficiency — can cause dementia-like symptoms, so it’s necessary to rule them out first. Some people who experience memory loss or have difficulty with attention, decision-making language or reasoning may have a condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The condition causes a noticeable decline, but the changes are less severe than with dementia and a person can still perform normal daily activities, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

When your loved one is displaying troubling symptoms, a trip to a primary care physician is often the first step. But to get a definitive diagnosis, you may need to see a specialist.

If it is dementia, you’ll want to plan how you will manage care, especially as the condition progresses. Here are some symptoms to watch for:

1. Difficulty with everyday tasks. People with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimer’s Association says. They may also find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.

2. Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

3. Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.

4. Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.

5. Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious, or who becomes upset easily and seems depressed is cause for concern.

6. Confusion about time and place. If someone forgets where they are or can’t remember how they got there, that’s a red flag. Another worrisome sign is disorientation about time — for example, routinely forgetting what day of the week it is.

7. Misplacing things. Someone with dementia may put things in unusual places and may have difficulty retracing their steps to find misplaced items, the Alzheimer’s Association notes.

8. Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.

9. Loss of interest. Not feeling especially social from time to time is one thing, but a sudden and routine loss of interest in family, friends, work and social events can be a warning sign of dementia.

10. Forgetting old memories. Memory loss that becomes more persistent is often one of the first signs of dementia.

If you find that it’s time to seek assistance for a loved one, the dedicated staff at The Gardens of Georgia Tucker Memory Care will be pleased to provide a tour of our facility and answer questions about our specialized daily care.

In your search, evaluation of the atmosphere, caring culture, helpful activities, and essential services all weigh in as important factors. We’ve taken carefully planned steps to ensure provisions of a gracious lifestyle for adults who need assisted living, and for adults who require care taken a step further with memory care services which includes all the expected amenities along with an individualized plan of care to maximize quality of life. Full accreditation and a certified staff ensure proper attention. The unparalleled comfort, convenience, and amenities of The Gardens At Georgia Tucker Assisted Living and Memory Care assure residents of an environment that can truly be called home.

Deciding when the timing is right to relocate a loved is not always easy. Finding the right community takes time, and that’s why the Georgia Tucker administration staff is pleased to show you around, answer any questions, and provide helpful information for you or a loved one. Call 318-538-0040 to schedule a tour appointment and visit for more details.




Indulge in the season with these gorgeous gems from local retailers. Make her melt with stunning sapphires, dazzling diamonds and more.


Chill the martini glass. Place1/2 ounce dry vermouth and 2 1/2 ounces of gin in shaker. Shake for 30 seconds and strain into cold martini glass. Garnish with olives or lemon peel.

Ring in the New Year with these beauties from FLAIR JEWELERS. Sapphire and Diamond Flower Ring (2.20 ct sapphire - .54 ct round Diamonds); Ruby and Diamond Ring (1 ct Ruby - 1 ct diamonds); Oval Emerald and Diamond Hole Ring with split shank (Emerald 1.20 ct - .60 ct diamond); Ruby and Diamond Band (.78 ct Rubies - .26 round Diamonds); 5 strand yellow gold bracelet (.81 ct diamonds); Diamond and London Blue Topaz Vahan Bracelet; Diamond and Amethyst Vahan Bracelet

styling by TAYLOR BENNETT photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

Aperol Spritz

Add ice until wine glass until nearly full. Pour in 3 ounces Aperol, 3 ounces Prosecco. Top off with a splash of club soda. Add a orange wheel to garnish.


18 K white gold Emerald and Diamond cocktail estate ring (1 ct tw of Diamonds); 14K yellow gold pear shaped ring mounted with Swiss Blue and London Blue Topaz surrounded in a Diamond halo; 14 K yellow gold traditional 3 stone ring with Emerald and Diamond; 14K yellow gold oval ring with London Blue Topaz and bezzle set Diamonds on band; 14 K yellow gold oval Morganite ring surrounded with double halo of Diamonds; 14K yellow gold cocktail ring with marquise Opals with Diamonds; Designer yellow gold, Emerald cut imitation Aqua Marine surrounded by Diamonds; Colorful gemstone bracelet linked.


Apple Pie Cocktail

Muddle three slices of apple and 6 mint leaves in shaker.

Add 1.5 ounces Crown Royal Regal Apple, 1 ounce cinnamon simple syrup, 1 ounce apple cider and splash lemon juice to shaker. Fill with ice. Shake then strain into glass with ice.


14K white gold Diamond and Aqua tennis bracelet; 14K white gold Diamond and Sapphire bangle bracelet; 18K white gold Diamond and Ruby bangle bracelet; 18K white gold Diamond and Emerald bangle bracelet; 18K white gold Diamond and Emerald tennis bracelet; 14K white gold Diamond and Sapphire tennis bracelet; 14K yellow gold Diamond Lemon Quartz ring; 18K white gold Diamond and Emerald ring; 18K yellow gold Diamond Agate ring; Sterling silver and 18K yellow gold Amethyst ring by Konstantino; 14K white gold Diamond Amethyst ring; Platinum Diamond Aqua ring

styling by TAYLOR BENNETT photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

Haven’s Holiday Gift Guide

Haven Has Selected Some of Their Favorite Gifts to Make Your Shopping Easy

WITH HAVEN’S NEW EXPANDED SPACE, THEY ARE the ultimate gift destination this holiday season. They have created a beautiful new shopping environment. Haven has such a wide selection; you are sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list.

1. BATH ACCESSORIES: Lovely small batch hand soaps, body wash, and bar soaps are a delight to receive. Beautiful packaging, and they offer scents that appeal to everyone.

2. DESIGN ACCESSORIES: A large variety of accessories for your home are showcased in their newly expanded design space. Beautiful acrylic knots, bowls, and trays just to name a few. A welcome add for any home.

3. LAFCO CANDLES: The ever-popular LAFCO candle line is always a good gift. Many of the scents have lotions, hand soaps and diffusers available.

4. TODDLER GIFTS: Jellycat stuffed animals for the little ones is a must! Add a new book, puzzle, or matching game to make a fun present to open!

5. MEN’S GIFTS: So many choices for the man in your life. Select a great cookbook and pair it with a new grill accessory for a hit. Or choose a Barefoot Dreams robe, a leather toiletry bag or even a fun bow tie for your favorite guy.

6. PAJAMAS: PJ Harlow loungewear has long been a staple at Haven. Whether you prefer neutrals, blue or the new lavender, these heavenly pajamas are comfortable and beautiful. Need a new robe? PJ Harlow’s robes are stylish and roomy in the sleeve.

7. BARWARE: Saban wine glasses are hand blown and no two are alike! A colorful assortment and the ultimate choice for the person who has everything. Other barware such as ice buckets, accessories and new cocktail books are a great find.

8. RIEDEL GLASSES: A new debut this season! Riedel wine glasses and decanters are perfect for the wine lover on your list. Bar glasses are also in stock. Riedel Crystal has been produced in Europe for over 260 years.

9. RELIGIOUS GIFTS: Gifts of hope and gratitude are always welcomed. New Devotionals or books paired with a gold cross by Sarah Cashio, or a Saint Candle will provide that reminder during the year of what is important.

10. BAREFOOT DREAMS: Always a customer favorite! Bamboo throws are the perfect gift to give. Cozy, warm and machine washable! Pajamas, new cardigans, and tops have also just arrived.

11. ART: Give a pop of color this season. Baton Rouge artist Jennifer Poe has created these small wonders for Haven in your choice of canvas or paper. Perfect for a bookcase! Large pieces of art are also showcased at Haven.

12. DESIGNER THROW PILLOWS: Beautiful velvet, linen and cotton pillows come in stunning colors this fall. Pair any of these with one of the new Matouk throws and you have an amazing look.

13. JEWELRY: Texas designer Deborah Grivas has stunning statement necklaces and earrings with beautiful stones and gold accents. Several other jewelry lines, such as Hazen are always nice to receive.

14. BOOKS: Give a fantastic book this holiday season! Whether you are looking to accent a coffee table or just enjoy a good read, Haven has an amazing book selection. The latest in fashion, interior design and scenic books are all there.

15. PURSES: Vegan leather bags have always been a great find at Haven. Larger bags like the Hobo, and side pocket bags, as well as smaller stylish bags are a great present or a fun find for yourself.

Haven’s Holiday Hours provide more shopping time! During December, Haven is open Monday through Friday 10:00- 5:30, Saturday 10:00-4:00 and Sunday from 1:00-4:00. If you need gift ideas or are in a hurry just call the shop at (318) 398-3298 and their helpful staff can suggest something with your desired price range and get it wrapped and ready for you to pick up! Continue shopping local after hours on Haven’s Website at and they can ship your gifts to friends and family with such ease!

Shop with Haven this holiday season and you will be glad you did. Personalized customer service and remember beautiful gift wrapping is always complimentary. As Monroe’s premier shopping destination, the gift you give from Haven will be the best one under the tree, so stop by today!



With a population of roughly 5,000, Winnsboro, La., is the quintessential small, southern town. In fact, Louisiana Travel has called it the closest thing to Mayberry in Louisiana. One of the keys to maintaining that small-town feel is preserving its history, even as the world changes around it.

Located at 714 Prairie St., the Princess Theatre is part of that history. For over 100 years the Princess has served as the lifeblood of downtown Winnsboro. Operations Manager Amy Thornhill said the location would have been the main gathering point for downtown when the theatre was built and for much of its history. With the exception of two brief periods of closure, the Princess has been a hub of reliable

entertainment in various forms for residents and visitors since its doors first opened in 1912.

At that time, the theatre was a vaudeville house. By introducing this new form of entertainment to the region, the Princess drew patrons from throughout northeast Louisiana. Vaudeville was a type of variety entertainment that originated in France in the late 1800s. The typical North American vaudeville show comprised several distinct acts on a shared bill.

Although the acts tended to lack an overarching story or theme, they kept ticket holders coming back. With everything from musicians, singers, comedians, and dancers, to trained animals, magicians, ventriloquists, and jugglers, vaudeville


dominated the world of show business in North American and in Winnsboro well into the 1920s.

Then, in 1925, silent movies made their way to Winnsboro and onto screens at the Princess, where a hired pianist infused life into their stories. At the time, silent movies were considered cutting-edge technology. They were in vogue across the country, and people were excited once again to see a new form of entertainment reach their small town.

For the next several decades, the Princess continued to evolve with her patrons and eventually showed sound films, which kept the seats filled and doors open for several decades. In fact, Thornhill said she remembers seeing the original “Star Wars” at the theatre with her dad when she was a kid.

The Princess functioned successfully as a movie theatre until 1988 when it could no longer compete with the increasingly popular movie complexes with multiple screens. The doors of the Princess then remained closed until 1992, when owner Rowena Ramage gifted the inoperative theatre to the town of Winnsboro.

Following restoration of the theatre to a live performance venue, the Princess reopened two years later in 1994. Despite the many changes the Princess has gone through over the years, she retains some of her original features, and movies are still shown there on occasion throughout the year.

Thornhill described the Princess as a black box whose dimensions are comparable to the black box theatre at the University of Louisiana in Monroe. Today, the Princess’s stage continues to have several trap doors. Some used to flip up with lights to shine onto the stage. Others led beneath the stage where

performers went to prepare for performances and for costume changes as needed. Thornhill said she’s unsure what the original height of the space under the stage was, but now it’s not really high enough for the average person to stand fully upright. However, the original theatre did not have a dressing room.

Another striking, original feature of the theatre is its ceiling, which is covered in large, pressed-tin tiles. Tiles like these originated in America as a cheaper, lighter, and more durable alternative to the elaborate plaster ceilings that were popular in Europe at the time. They were designed to last and give a high-end look without the expensive price tag and became very popular between 1890 and 1930.

“Preserving venues like the Princess–which bring the arts to rural communities–is more important now than ever,” Brooks said. “The arts inspire and institutions like this theatre provide a necessary public service and a convenient location to experience live entertainment. Supporting the preservation of historic venues like the Princess Theatre in my home state is something I’m incredibly passionate about.”

In 2017, when work was done to repair a roof collapse at the Princess, every effort was made to preserve the original ceiling tiles, and those efforts were successful, making it possible for more generations of Princess patrons to enjoy their original, shiny splendor.

Today the historical theatre remains in use as a live performance venue and enjoys landmark status. Both the Princess Theatre and the adjoining Princess Room, which was originally a pharmacy, hold this status and are also available to rent for events. Having landmark status provides a measure of protection for these spaces. The status is not only an honor but can also be useful when it comes to saving historic buildings because people tend to hold landmark properties in high regard.

Although the Princess Theatre has lived a long and productive life, that life

photo courtesy of Curtis Hilbun

has not been without hardship and a couple near-death experiences. Thornhill said the Princess was almost lost when the roof collapsed in 2017. At that time, the theatre was truly in crisis, but the community pulled together to save not only the remaining performances in the series but also the roof and the building itself.

A local church, Life Church, provided a temporary performance space. “Of course there were challenges,” Thornhill said, “but Life Church was so kind and gracious to us. We appreciate their generosity.” Because of that generosity, the Princess was able to carry on with its shows uninterrupted.

Also, during this time, several fundraising efforts took place to save the theatre, including a charity concert by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, which remains the best-selling duo in country music history. Born and raised in Shreveport, Brooks has roots in Louisiana and owns a farm near Winnsboro.

But his ties to the area are not the only reason Brooks chose to support the Princess. “Preserving venues like the Princess–which bring the arts to rural communities–is more important now than ever,” Brooks said. “The arts inspire and institutions like this theatre provide a necessary public service and a convenient location to experience live entertainment. Supporting the preservation of historic venues like the Princess Theatre in my home state is something I’m incredibly passionate about.”

If it were not for Brooks and the community’s support, the Princess Theatre might not have gone on to live another day. “It was really a community effort and a desire to not lose it,” Thornhill said. “It came down to people who really put in the time, effort, and energy to save it.”

Although Rowena Ramage gifted the building to the town of Winnsboro, the Princess is its own nonprofit. “The theatre was gifted to the community for a purpose, and it’s serving that purpose,” Thornhill said.

Fortunately, that support is deeply rooted. “Many people in the community have memories centering around this building,” Thornhill said, “watching movies and that being part of the lore. They remember buying popcorn here and who sat where. It was a big deal. My parents grew up going to the movies here.”

performance photos courtesy of Curtis Hilbun

Today, the Princess works hard to continue helping people create special memories by spreading a love for the arts, especially live theatre. “We have events for people of all ages,” said Thornhill. “We try to have a wide variety of shows, and we’re working on making sure that our shows appeal to a wide variety of audiences.”

Through a grant from a generous sponsor, the Princess also provides a free summer theatre camp to approximately 60 children a year. The camp focuses on music, movement, and speaking on stage. At the conclusion, the children participate in a performance to showcase their newly learned skills.

“We’re really working to give kids in the community a place to come if they’re interested in the arts,” Thornhill said, “because they don’t have access to that in school here. They have a band, and that’s it.” At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Princess also supported children’s literacy by providing free digital access to storytime recordings that they planned and produced. Supporting the community’s youth is definitely key to the mission of the Princess.

“By giving to our students, I believe that we’re giving to their

families,” Thornhill said, “because you can’t sow into their lives without sowing into their families.”

In addition to providing five to six shows in their annual series, including shows that provide performance opportunities for youth, the Princess brings in outside performers and aims to provide educational opportunities that appeal to a broad spectrum of the community as well. “We’re doing our best to bring shows that our older community likes as well,” said Thornhill, “such as music that they are asking for. It just really makes it feel like there’s something going on down here.”

The Princess is limited by the fact she is only a single stage, but Thornhill said, “We’re working really hard to put as much on our stage as we can and still manage it.” In December, the Princess will be getting new seats throughout, so those attending shows in the 2023 season will enjoy a new level of comfort. The 2023 season will kick off with “Red Velvet Cake Wars” in February.

Thornhill said, “Being a part of the Princess feels like you’re part of something larger than yourself–more than just you. Not only are you a part of the history and everything that the Princess represents. It also feels like you’re a part of this community. It feels like you’re part of something larger than just the individual. It’s like you find your place in the whole.”

Everyone who has ever been to the Princess or has a connection to the theatre has a story to tell about it. Thornhill said, “Being a part of the Princess is like you’ve found your place in the story.”

When grown people come back to participate in a show after being away since they were kids, or when people who grew up participating in shows watch their kids participating in shows, it’s really moving. “It’s like a continual flow. It’s like you’re part of the flow of history,” Thornhill said. “To the community as a whole, I think that we represent a piece of history, so for those that are really oriented to the past, we represent something that is part of bygone era, but it’s still functioning, and that probably feels really good, and for people who are concerned about the future, we’re working to bring diversity to our stage and to make shows enjoyable to all people.”

The organization is working hard to balance the old and new. Thornhill said, “We’re constantly trying to keep things fresh and new and exciting while also honoring the past, which is important.”

Winnsboro is a small town, and there are not many things to do, but Thornhill believes the visual and performing arts add value to the community. “We offer people the opportunity to laugh, cry, and think together,” said Thornhill.

The Princess provides residents of Winnsboro and beyond an opportunity to be part of a shared goal, shared experiences, and a shared history. Everyone who has ever set foot in the Princess is a part of her growing legacy.

photos courtesy of Curtis Hilbun

Finishing the Warhawk Race

I Was a Businessman and Said I Never Needed a College Degree

THIS MONTH MARKS TEN YEARS OF BEING a college educated man in America. On December 8, 2012, I graduated from the University of Louisiana Monroe with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Dr. Nick Bruno was the president and it was a pleasure to walk across the stage and shake his hand, completing the challenge I undertook in 2009. But my race to the finish line began in 1996 at Northeast Louisiana University.

I enrolled as a freshman at NLU and majored in physical education. I decided to join the track and field team after never participating in sports throughout my childhood. I trained for the 200 meter relay and surprisingly ran the 40-meter sprint in 4.5 seconds, a speed that exceeded some of the team members that were recruited with scholarships. However, my time on the team would be brief as I was not in school on a scholarship and found it difficult to continue without funding. Because I wasn’t a recruited athlete, the coach said that funds for a walk-on were not available. I chose not to continue training and later decided I was done with the whole idea of college. I decided, however, to join the Marines.

For thirteen years, I ran away from college. Even after a few attempts to try again, all of them were met with decisions to drop out and try something else. I engaged in business pursuits with photography and graphic design. However, subconsciously, I knew I needed to finish the race. I was defensive in my unwillingness to finish the degree saying “I’m a businessman. I’m making money without a college degree.” Then one day during those collegiate denial years, one of my high school friends, Katrina Jackson, advised that I shouldn’t hustle all of my life, for one day I’d want to retire. My mother even said for years “It’s better to have it (degree) and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

So in 2009, at the age of 31, I gave in and submitted to the task. Unfortunately, ULM was not going to make the challenge easy for me. The University reminded me that I had debts on the books and I could not re-enroll without paying those debts. So, I sold my car, furniture, and many other items to pay off the debt which was a few thousand dollars. After the debt was cleared, the Registrar allowed a one-time GPA wipe of my previous classes, which resulted in me repeating 12 hours of coursework. So it was back to the starting blocks for me.

During that three year residency at ULM, I found my passion for history. With professors like Dr. Horace P. Jones and Dr. Monica Bontty, I was able to see the finish line clearly and made running the race a little easier. I completed the entire Bachelor’s Degree in three years.

At my commencement in 2012, the commencement speaker for the ceremony was then Louisiana State Representative Katrina Jackson. The theme of her commencement address was to “Dance with Time.” She spoke about the many graduates who made sacrifices to complete their educational requirements. She even called my name, to my surprise, and spoke of my prior military service. I thought it was sensational.

Since graduation in 2012, I did exactly that. I continued running the Warhawk Race. I didn’t just stop at the Bachelor’s Degree. I was persistent for as long as it took to get the Master’s Degree as well. In 2020, during the middle of a global pandemic, I completed the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in History. Because of social guidelines, the commencement was virtual and instead of walking across the stage, I waited for my name to flash on the computer screen. Virtual or in-person, it didn’t matter, the Warhawk Race had been won and it was final.

What began as a desire to be a runner on a track found me in a race against myself. We can tell ourselves what we choose to shield us from the need for proper education and education will still be there waiting on us. “Not everyone is cut out for college.” “People need other options than a four-year university.” “I can’t afford it.” “I don’t have the time for it.” “I can make more money without a degree.” The list of excuses continues. From someone who was adamant about not needing a college degree, who had technical skills and could work well with my hands in a vocational field, the college experience I enjoyed at ULM changed that mindset. Education is for you. It’s not for a job; it’s not to make your family proud; it’s for you…and you alone.

My talons are out and I’m not on the ground running anymore. I’m flying high excited about the next ten years of adventure as an educated man in America.


Fishing With Kenny


Louisiana’s weather patterns leave a lot to be desired. One week it will be brutally cold, another it will be mild and almost spring like. I can remember a Christmas when the temperatures were down in the teens, but I also remember a Christmas when we were wearing shorts with temperatures climbing into the 80’s. As confusing as it is to us humans, imagine what Mother Nature’s creatures go through.

I have always made it a habit to keep an eye on the weather systems as far in advance of a tournament day as possible. While I will admit I have an open and honest skepticism of our weather “experts,” I do find it helpful to monitor and prepare for what might could be. Contrary to popular belief, most winter weather systems do not the negative impact on a bass than anglers have longed believed. To understand the concept of this month’s Bayou Life article, you need to understand wherever a bass decides to spend the cooler/ colder months, is where they will stay until the upcoming spring when they begin preparing for the spawning ritual. A bass may move from a flat to a ditch or a creek channel if the cold front is severe enough to create a severe drop in water temperatures, but for the most part they will stay in the same areas this time of year.

A common question I have heard is, “Well, if the water is cold and getting colder, don’t bass move to the deeper sections of the lake?” To answer this question, yes, some bass do move to the deeper areas of your

favorite body of water, however a lot of fish will stay in water less then six foot deep. I have probably won more tournaments fishing shallow water in December than I have fishing ten foot or deeper.

Here are the things I consider when preparing for a December fishing trip or tournament. First I want to see what the previous week’s weather consisted of. Did it rain and how much? What about daytime temperatures? Were the nights especially cold? With this information, now I can turn my attention to the upcoming days forecast and what kinds of weather to expect.

At this point in time, I shift my focus to the lake I am going to. What type of lake am I going to; is it a bayou or river system, a natural cypress tree lake or a manmade impoundment. What kind of water clarity is the lake noted for? If I am going to Caney or Claiborne, I know I will be fishing mostly a clear water environment; however if I am going to a Mississippi River oxbow like Bruin or Lake Providence, I will probably have off colored water to deal with. It is this combination of weather and the fishery itself that allows me to determine what my best opportunities are to be successful.

One thing I have forgotten to mention that I have found especially important to consider is the personality of the lake. Some lakes, regardless of the weather and water temperature, the fish will be caught in less than five feet of water. All the Mississippi River oxbows have this tendency. In clear water lakes, even in colder water situations,

if there is cloud cover, manageable wind or rain, fish can be caught shallow. On Darbonne Lake, there is always a certain number of fish that can be caught fishing the creek channels. Each lake has its own niche, and in the month of December, it is important to remember that.

So, now that we have discussed the many variables of December bass fishing, what are some things to look for that will make for a productive day on the water? My number one rule in bass fishing has always been, “if a lake has grass in it, you better be fishing it” and it’s always the first place I begin fishing. Our lakes have many types of grass with an abundance of coontail moss, hydrilla, milfoil, and lily pads to name a few. If I had to choose my favorite and most consistent grass producer, it would be coontail.

If I am fishing a lake with a large abundance of Cypress trees, I must be a bit more particular about the ones I choose to fish. A single foot of difference in water depth from one tree to the next can mean everything to your success or failure. Bigger trees, clumps of trees, or anything out of the ordinary can hold fish. One thing to remember about fishing Cypress trees; never overlook how shallow the fish can be even in colder months of the year.

December is a month where fishing boat docks comes into play. Not all boat docks are the same and on lake where there is an abundance of them, it can be an intimidating process trying to find the right ones to fish. A good rule of thumb when seeking out productive docks, remember “the older, more broke down a dock looks, the better its fish potential.” I have found this to be true no matter what body of water I am fishing. One final note about our December fishing adventure is do not get too hung up on lure choices. No matter what lake I am on, I will have the following on the deck of my boat: a 3/8 black/blue finesse flipping jig, a ½ shad colored spinnerbait, a Rat L Trap style lure, a ½ green pumpkin chatterbait, a Carolina Rig and a squarebill crankbait. I can go to any lake in our state, effectively fish the available cover and catch fish on these lures.

Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space again for another month. I assure you I will be keeping a close eye on the weather channel in the coming weeks as I prepare for the last of my tournaments this year. Remember, hunting season is in full swing as well so please be careful no matter if you are out in the woods or on the water and if possible, catch one for me!

See you next month!


“In every family, at some point, there must be someone who feels like an outsider: the one always standing or sitting a little farther from the group in pictures; the older sibling when a new baby comes along; the child from a previous marriage, sometimes with a different last name. Suddenly, I was all of those.”

Natasha Trethewey’s love affair with language is so palpable that as a reader, I sometimes feel I’m witnessing something I’m not supposed to see. Her command of words and their implications and sentence structure and composition, not to mention the lyrical cadence of phrasing, reverberates beyond the last page. This memoir could easily be a song, a heartbreaking beautiful song that would captivate the audience and silence the room. To hear Trethewey’s story is a privilege, the bravery it took her to tell it, is astounding. The memoir cna be easily consumed in one sitting, though the message lingers like the haunting melody of the ballad we can’t forget.

As a young girl, Tretheway straddled two worlds in rural Mississippi. Her black mother and white father formed a love bubble that sheltered her from outside judgment, but as their relationship struggled, the exterior started to crack. After their divorce, Natasha and her mother Gwen moved to Atlanta, a growing mecca for the black community. While finding her footing, Gwen marries a

controlling man who uproots any hopes of freedom with his mental, verbal, and physical abuse. Shortly after Natasha leaves for college, her stepfather murders Gwen outside her home, and Natasha is left with her mother’s fading memory.

Trethewey constructs this memoir in the before and in the after, the two opposing worlds in which she must now reside. Returning to her mother’s memory means confronting the reality of what happened, a tragedy too unfathomable at the time of its occurrence. Trethewey weaves in and out of reality and dreams, the mother she remembers and the one left behind in relics of the past. She asserts poetry as her savior; to understand what happened, she had to tell the story. This memoir is the culmination of years of soul-searching and soul-avoiding, of denying her history and embracing her past, of loving her mother in the flesh and loving the soul left behind. In the search for the truth, Trethewey finds herself, the pieces scattered in the evidence left behind. The duality in the prose and poetry of this masterpiece channel the parallel nature of two lives converging into one woman’s lived experience.

Natasha Trethewey was named the US Poet Laureate for 2012 and 2013. Her poetry collection Native Guard won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.

“For as long as I can remember, my father had been telling me that one day I would have to become a writer, that because of the nature of my experience I would have something necessary to say.”


Wrapped Up

Wrap your gift with care this holiday season. Whether sophisticated or whimsical, embellished gifts make holiday giving more thoughtful. Taylor used beautiful ribbons in jewel tones and gold monograms to add a touch of personalization to these perfect presents.

styling by TAYLOR BENNETT photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK


Historical Impressions

On December 25, 1968, Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders set a record. They became the persons the farthest distance ever from their homes and families on Christmas Day- 234,474 statute miles (or 377,349 kilometers). Borman, Lovell and Anders were orbiting the moon.

Borman, Lovell, and Anders were the crew of Apollo 8. Jim Lovell had flown in space twice before on Gemini VII and Gemini XII. Frank Borman had been the commander of Gemini VII and that seniority made him chosen as commander for this mission over the more experienced Lovell. Lovell would be the first commander of a previous mission (Gemini XII) who flew as a noncommander. Anders had never flown before but had extensive training as a Lunar Module pilot.

Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and head away from our planet. All prior American and Soviet spaceflight missions, including the first manned Apollo missionApollo 7, had remained in orbits around the Earth. Apollo 8 was also the third flight of a Saturn V rocket and the first crewed launch. Of all its “firsts” the most important for Apollo 8 was becoming the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon.

Apollo 8 was originally planned to be the second crewed Apollo Lunar Module (LM) and Command Module (CM) test flight. As such it was to be flown in an elliptical medium Earth orbit. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the crew, production of Apollo 8’s LM had fallen behind schedule. The delay and expected time to fix all problems endangered the NASA’s goal as established by President Kennedy in 1962 of a landing on the moon before the end of the decade. George Low, the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft

Program Office, proposed changing Apollo 8’s mission to sending a crewed CM to the Moon and entering lunar orbit before returning to Earth. In order that the spacecraft would have the correct weight and balance, Apollo 8 would carry a LM test article, essentially a nonfunctional full size model. Adjusting this and subsequent missions would allow the plan for lunar landing in mid-1969 to remain on schedule. After discussion of the changes among senior personnel at NASA, James E. Webb, the NASA administrator, authorized the mission.

Borman’s crew had to replace their planned Lunar Module Earth orbit training with translunar navigation training and also do so with two to three months’ less training and preparation time than originally planned. Apollo 8 would be the first crewed spacecraft to orbit more than one celestial body. The crew had to learn had two different sets of orbital parameters – one for Earth and one for the Moon- and a translunar injection maneuver. Moving from an orbital velocity of 25,567 feet per second to the injection velocity of 35,505 feet per second would set a record for the highest speed relative to Earth, that humans had ever traveled. Although less than the Earth’s escape velocity of 36,747 feet per second it would place Apollo 8 into an elongated elliptical Earth orbit that would come close enough to the Moon to be captured by the Moon’s gravity.

The crew wanted to name their spacecraft Columbiad which was the name of the giant cannon that launches a space vehicle in Jules Verne’s 1865 novel “From the Earth to the Moon.” NASA did not allow any name for this capsule but the later Apollo 11 CM was named Columbia partly for the same reason.

The basic design of the mission patch was developed by Jim Lovell. Lovell

reportedly sketched it while riding in the back seat of a T-38 flying from California to Houston shortly after he learned Apollo 8 would be re-designated as a lunar-orbital mission. The mission patch was triangular like the profile shape of the Apollo CM. The red figure 8 looping around the Earth and Moon on the patch is both the mission number and the course of the circumlunar flight for the mission. On the bottom of the 8 are the names of the three astronauts.

Apollo 8 launched on December 21, 1968. It took the Apollo spacecraft 68 hours to travel the distance to the Moon. The crew then orbited the Moon ten times over the course of twenty hours. The three astronauts were the first humans to see and photograph the far side of the Moon and an Earthrise.

On Christmas Day, 1968 Apollo 8 performed the Trans Earth Injection (TEI) maneuver that put the spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit. The Apollo 8 CM splashed down in the northern Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968 - bringing its crew safely home. Apollo 8’s successful mission paved the way for the Apollo 9 and 10 missions; and, with Apollo 11 in July 1969, the fulfillment of President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

While they were in lunar orbit, the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program in history. In their broadcast each astronaut read a section from the Biblical creation story from the Book of Genesis. Borman finished the broadcast by saying “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”


Meredith’s Musings

Friday afternoon my girlfriend sped into the driveway and hopped out of the car with a magnanimous “Whoop!” We were hitting the road, headed to Fort Worth for the Judds Final Tour. My mother pulled in shortly after, and we loaded her bags into the Ford Explorer, stuffed to the brim for a 48-hour trip. My friend’s mother couldn’t make the trip, so it was just us three headed to stay with my husband’s parents in Texas for the concert the following evening. Mom is a fervent reader, often starting and finishing a book on a long car ride (We joke that she prefers her characters to us.) So, my friend and I had the radio to ourselves, the Judds’ music on repeat for the last few hours of the trip. We laughed. We cried. We seized those soulfilling moments of time spent with a best friend absent the daily distractions.

The next morning while Mom and my mother-in-law caught up, I took my friend to all my favorite Fort Worth hot spots. After a brief nap that afternoon, we loaded up in the car and

headed to Dickies Arena. As I mentioned in last month’s article, Mom is no concert goer. She has mentioned enjoying live music in her youth but purchasing a ticket and traveling to see a show - no. My husband’s mother goes frequently since she lives so close to a popular tour spot, and my friend follows all the country singers on the road. This trip, at least for me, was about Mom. I wasn’t sure how she would react to tons of people in a loud space, but I was anxious to find out.

The relatively new venue is gorgeous, reminiscent of an old opera house with carpeted spiral staircases leading to the second level where we perched for the show. Martina McBride opened the show, and Mom was glued to the action down below. I was sitting to her right, further away from the stage. I eyed her responses, looking for signs of joy. I could see she was enamored, rarely looking away from Martina. Before Wynonna’s entrance, we scurried to the bathroom - at the same time everyone else did too. The line wrapped through the halls. A funny gentleman came out of

the men’s bathroom (with no line) and started swinging his arms, encouraging the women to use the vacant stalls. My friend and I leaped, though Mom resisted. When we took off, she reluctantly followed, embarrassed by our willingness to break social norms.

A few minutes later, my husband’s mother pointed out the security team circling the tiny stage toward the back of the venue. She predicted Wynonna would pop out there soon, and she did. Her euphonious voice echoed throughout the venue, seemingly wrapping itself around all of us and holding us tight. She shortly made her way through the crowd to the main stage, shaking fans’ hands along the way. She established a personal connection with the audience on that walk, thanking us for showing up for her in Naomi’s absence. She carried her mother on her shoulders that night, bellowing every song as if her mother was standing beside her. Throughout the two hours, Mom and I sat transfixed, cheering when it was appropriate and wiping

tears when the lyrics moved us. I couldn’t help but be acutely aware of sitting next to my own mother while Wynonna entertained the crowd without hers. There was nowhere else I’d have rather been at that moment. I thought about the joy of being able to share her talent with an adoring crowd, compounded by the price of fame. I thought about the sacrifice of feeling each of those lyrics, especially as videos of her mother played behind her as she sang.

That evening and the next day, we were still high from the experience, grateful to have witnessed such a show among people who shared a love of the music. We felt fully at peace in that arena among strangers. Mom went on about how much she enjoyed the show; I knew it was money well spent. Dad called me a few days later, insisting Mom loved the trip and thanking me for taking her. We had the kind of time that makes one crave more of the same. I’m trying to seize more of those opportunities while I still can. Life goes so fast, and we don’t want to miss it.

From L to R: Charlotte Smith, Debbie Smith, LorrAine McKinnie, Meredith McKinnie, Crystal DuBose

Louisiana Pain Care

Welcoming Dr. Brandon Banks

THE MEDICAL PRACTICE THAT WOULD LATER become Louisiana Pain Care, LLC opened in 1994 to address a burgeoning medical need in the northeast Louisiana community and the ArkLaMiss area. Founder John L. Ledbetter, MD, said he first began to realize the need for a clinic devoted to non-surgical pain treatment while working with Anesthesia Associates in Monroe. “I was regularly being asked by spine surgeons to help with patients who continued to have pain after having spine surgery, and it became clear that there was a definite need for interventional pain management,” he explains. Dr. Ledbetter took a leave of absence from anesthesia practice to complete a pain management fellowship at University of Texas, Health Science Center San Antonio. He would later return to open what is now Louisiana Pain Care in 1995. Dr. Vince Forte and later Dr. Hardy Gordon were recruited and have become an integral part of the growing practice. And most recently, Dr. Brandon Banks joined the team at Louisiana Pain Care.

Dr. Banks is a West Monroe native who decided to come back to his roots after doing his medical training and working in Tennessee for the last 10 years.

After graduating from the University of Louisiana - Monroe with a degree in Biology, he attended LSU Shreveport where he received his Doctor of Medicine. During his anesthesiology residency, he realized his passion for pain management. Instead of treating a patient with the goal of momentary relief, Dr. Banks wanted to make a bigger difference in their lives.

The ability to take care of a patient and through minimallyinvasive procedures that can provide a long-term solution was attractive to Dr. Banks and steered him in the direction of pain management.

Dr. Banks offers his patients the majority of conventional interventional pain treatments and has a strong interest in Spinal Cord Stimulation. Spinal cord stimulation is generally used after surgical and nonsurgical treatment options have failed to provide sufficient long-term pain relief. He also provides Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation therapy that can relieve pain in a specific area. Because the spinal column has a number of different DRGs, each of which is associated with different areas of the body, DRG stimulation therapy can target the specific area of the body where a patient experiences pain. In this way, DRG therapy has the unique ability to help manage

pain in targeted parts of the body where pain occurs, and is especially helpful for patients who live with isolated chronic pain in the lower parts of the body.

Dr. Banks has certifications from the American Board of Anesthesiology in both Anesthesiology and Pain Management. He will primarily practice in the Louisiana Pain Care Ruston clinic. “We were looking for a way to better serve our patients and prospective patients in the Ruston, Jonesboro, and El Dorado areas. This Ruston location is more convenient for those who live west of us,” said Mallory Sanchez, Physician Liaison and Director of Marketing. “Dr. Banks‘ expertise and genuine care for patient’s well-being will be an asset to our clinic and the community.”

When he is not practicing medicine, Dr. Banks enjoys spending time with his kids, Nolan and Kylie, and watching them dance and play sports. Now that Dr. Banks is back in Louisiana, he is excited to get back to hunting and fishing. He and his wife, Erica, look forward to getting involved in the community they grew up in.

Louisiana Pain Care offers the only board-certified, fellowshiptrained pain management physicians in northeast and north central Louisiana. They primarily serve patients suffering from back or neck pain from bulging, herniated or damaged discs or from arthritic or muscular conditions. The doctors also treat failed back surgery syndrome, fractured vertebrae, neuropathies, shingles pain and cancer pain. The doctors agree that God continues to bless this practice with an incredibly talented and devoted nursing and administrative staff, most of whom treat their position with LPC as more than just a job.

Louisiana Pain Care’s size and services may have grown and changed over more than 25 years of operation, but the vision and purpose remain the same: to provide the highest quality and up-todate interventional and clinical pain management care to patients in Northeast Louisiana and South Arkansas.

Louisiana Pain Care accepts patient referrals from other physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, chiropractors, physical therapists, insurance adjusters, case managers, and attorneys. They also schedule patients by self-referral. Louisiana Pain Care is located at 210 Layton Avenue in Monroe, LA and 1809 Northpointe Lane in Ruston, LA. Call 318-323-6405 to schedule an appointment or go online at


T.P. Outdoors Monroe

Memories of a Great 2021-2022 Hunting Season

IAM WRITING THIS WHILE ON MY last hunt of the season. I’m hunting with Justin Wilson and his grandfather. Justin was shot in the neck 13 years ago and has been wheelchair bound with little motor skills in is hands or legs.

The 2021 season was set to kick off with renewing our two annual handicap hunts at Mercer Whitetails. After missing the 2020 Mercer hunt because of fears from Covid, the 2021 hunt was set with handicap hunters the first weekend of October and Wounded warriors the second weekend. These hunts are always something special for all of us volunteers and for the men, women and kids that get to hunt. Just two weeks before the first hunt Mr Mercer has to make the difficult decision to cancel the hunt because of renewed outbreaks of Covid.

My season began with a yearly tradition of heading west to New Mexico chasing bull elk. Only this year I was bringing along my best hunting buddy/son-in-law Brad Bell. I decided to be camera man and guide until Brad takes a bull then hands the camera over and lets him film my hunt. After four days of walking 10 plus miles , many failed attempts to get into range of screaming bulls , a miss or two Brad finally harvested a large 6x6 bull.

Now with only one day left to hunt it was my turn. Well after several close encounters the day ended without me getting a shot on a bull. Even after me not getting a bull the hunt was a huge success with great memories I will cherish forever.

By the time we returned from New Mexico it was only days until Louisiana archery

season opens. After seeing and passing on several huge bucks a 150” 9 pt with 22” wide spread made the fatal mistake of coming in to try the Bills Big Buck Crunch!

As the season rolled I was seeing lots of good quality bucks but was letting them walk, for some unknown reason. Then on Nov 10 I received a text from Jeff Mercer that he had a special handicapped hunter that wanted to hunt and wanted to know if I wanted to help. The hunter he had is blind and has not been hunting since the home invasion three years ago that left him blind. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this hunt.

My mom had been going to physical therapy and one of the therapists, Don Hanaker, asked if she thought I could help him take one of his blind patients deer hunting. I thought the Mercer hunt would be a great opportunity for these two men to get to know each other and feed off each other during the hunt.

With the help of several volunteers, within a week we were at Mercers Whitetails sitting in blinds with both these men hunting. Josh Butler was blinded from a home invasion where he was shot in back with a bow, his head crushed with butt of gun, stabbed 26 times and he and his wife were left for dead just three years ago. Our other hunter is Dillon Brown that was blind in a duck hunting accident 10 years ago where he was shot in the head a point blank with a 12-guage shotgun. Josh is hunting with Jeff Mercer and me while Dillon is hunting with Chris Porter and Don Hanaker. Josh and I didn’t see any deer but Dillon was able to take a very nice 8-point.

After a couple of more hunts at Mercers, Josh was finally able to take a 4-pt buck. I really believe it was divine intervention that kept us from taking a deer until the third hunt. Because the time spent in blind together I got to know Josh and ended up hiring him to be editor of the “TP Talk” monthly newsletter.

Josh and I made another hunt together on Davis Island but I’ll save that story for another time.

One night while eating dinner, my oldest granddaughter Bristol said she wanted to kill her first deer. I have taken her on several hunts over the years but never pushed her to shoot. Hoping the day would come that she asked I was surprised and overwhelmed when she said she was ready! We made several hunts waiting one one particular buck I wanted her to take. We played lots of cards and ate lots of snacks. I have a great story about our hunts, but they will have to wait until next months article also.

The year 2021 was also a very difficult year with loosing one of my son-in-laws, Nick Green, in a freak accident while at work at TP Outdoors Monroe. I also lost several friends to Covid including Louis Robinson who help organize many of the handicapped hunts you have seen on TP Outdoors Advertures.

If I’ve learned anything in 2021 it’s has to be the following:

Pray often and hard, Live everyday like it’s your last day, Spend time with family, Serve others, Until next month stay safe and be happy!



NUDE NOMAD Mallory looks stunning in this pleated ruffle mini dress from Nude Nomad. Accessorize with a precious hand-beaded Champagne bag, large pearl necklace and Champagne earrings.


This holiday season snuggle up in winter’s finest looks. Find flirty dresses and luxurious layers from local boutiques. Models: Camden Shivers and Mallory Kirksey. Hair and Makeup by Meka Bennett. Photography by Kelly Moore Clark.


Ready to celebrate a white Christmas? This vegan leather blazer and pant is paired with a black sateen cami. Accessorize with Sue Sartor’s silver leaf earrings.


This outfit is perfectly suited for a night on the town.

This ruched satin blazer is worn with matching pants and a sequined top. Accessorize with rhinestone cuffs and earrings.

Look dapper this holiday season in this Tulliano turtle neck paired with a gorgeous blue plaid blazer with coordinating square. Complete the look with slim straight jeans from Fidelity.


Celebrate the season in this gray suede moto jacket worn over a black v-neck bodysuit. Complete the look with dark mid-rise jeans with distressed hems. Accessorize with black booties and gold hoops.


Camden is on-trend in this denim button-down with pearl snaps worn over a classic long-sleeve gray tee. Pair with dark denim jeans from Flag & Anthem.


This super chic two-piece set pairs a scalloped sequined skirt with a mock neck cropped top. Pair with sparkly rhinestone heels, a shimmering black and diamond purse and rhinestone statement earrings.


This jacket is what all retro fantasies are made of with its psychedelic print. If you’re ready to channel that effortlessly cool style, rock this long line jacket with this set featuring blue luxe satin pants and matching spaghetti strap crop top. Accessorize with pink clutch with matching bow and coordinating shoes.


Sparkle this season with this sequined button-down from Dusty & Company.

Accessorize with silver cowboy boots, a tassel necklace and stackable bracelets.




I REMEMBER, how easy it used to be to do Christmas-gift shopping. That was before my wife succumbed to her battle with cancer. Prior to that, for over 50 years, all I had to do was to give her a credit card and she did the rest. Regularly, now, I am discovering numerous ways in which I depended on her to handle, or to help me handle, all sorts of things that needed to be done. I miss her a bunch, and Christmas shopping magnifies my loneliness. As much as I dislike paying off my credit card expenses, I would gladly exchange that for the giftpurchasing responsibility she managed for years. Besides, I still have to settle up with the credit card company! Blessed is the man who has a spouse to cope with the decisions relative to which gift is “right” for which recipient.


Another way of coping with my dilemma would be to give gift cards or money. I’ve been told that young folks can always use a little extra cash, and I have gone that path a few times, but I cannot get over the feeling that such an approach borders on a way of thinking that is unworthy of my family and their importance to me. They deserve better!

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not adverse to buying and giving gifts. To the contrary, I WANT to give presents to my loved ones; I am just so inept at making decisions about what to give. When my wife did the search for the “just-right” gift, the responses to her choices made it evident that she had made the right decisions. With my selections, not so much! So, what is a fellow to do?

As I see it, there are not a large bunch of options available to me. One possible path would be not to bother with shopping for my family – to just forego the custom of giving presents. However the more I ponder that route, the less appeal it holds for me. I cannot bear the thought of seeing the pained expression on the face of my youngest granddaughter should she find no gift from me under the Christmas tree. The older grands might hide their disappointment, but I dare not take a chance with sweet Lilly. That rather foolish possibility must be discarded.

Perhaps I ought to revive the practice of furnishing the credit card and getting someone more capable than I am to make at least some of the selections for me. The one who comes to mind is a very experienced shopper who can hold her own against the best “purchasers” in the whole world. She learned from her mother (my wife), and she not only had the best teacher, she was a very able “student!” With her as my partner, I can be confident that all will go well and that all will be pleased on Christmas morning. So, “daughter of mine,” just let me know when you are ready for the credit card!

While our focus is on Christmas gifts, let me encourage us to give some thought to the very best Christmas Gift ever – the Gift of Jesus, the Savior for the world. Of all the Christmas gifts that have been given, absolutely none can compare to this first Christmas Gift. The impact of that Gift has been, and continues to be, incomparable. Listen to what the Scripture says about Him: “The wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). The good that has come to millions of those who have placed their faith in Him cannot be measured. “Thank God for His unspeakable Gift.” (II Corinthians 9:15)

Have a Merry Christmas and may God’s gift add to the joy of this special season.

article by PAUL LIPE opinion expressed is that of the writer


oh, christmas tree

We’ve asked some of our favorite Northeast Louisiana bakeries to spruce up their best Christmas tree confections for our annual Holiday Bake-Off. Gather around the Christmas tree and enjoy these creations.



These petite petit fours are inspired by a classic Christmas favorite, Little Debbie Christmas trees. A white cake layered with almond butter cream and covered with white chocolate shaped in a Christmas tree makes for the perfect few bites of Christmas cheer!

oh, christmas tree


Show your love for the game with this LSU-themed cake made of chocolate sponge cake with chocolate cream filling and decorated with Thurman’s signature icing. This cake is perfect for the sports enthusiasts in your family!

oh, christmas tree


An assortment of macarons (pumpkin cheesecake, praline, wedding cake, king cake and cookie butter) spiral up the tree to create this whimsical sweet treat. Allow this dessert to be a statement piece in your holiday spread.


oh, christmas tree


These chocolate and vanilla cupcakes form the perfect Christmas tree. A cupcake cake, or what we like to call a pull-apart cake, is sure to be the star of the holidays!

Strong Support for Belton for AG

John Belton’s Record of Fighting Crime as a Prosecutor has Earned Him Statewide Support


event hosted by Brian Woodard and Jenifer Johnson. The turnout for this event for Belton exceeded expectations. So many people were in attendance that the food provided by Trios ran out before the event concluded.


More and more people are saying John Belton can win the Attorney General’s race, not just because he’s the candidate with the south/ north geographic voter advantage, but more importantly because of his leadership and experience advantage as a prosecutor, district attorney and businessman who has served on boards of higher education, health care and presently serves on a financial institution board of directors.


John was born in South Louisiana and grew up in Acadia and Evangeline parishes.

John could not run and play like other kids because he had leg braces. With the support and prayers of his parents, his hard work and faith in God, he not only learned to run, but to play sports and was named a high school football defensive All-State MVP at Basile High School in South Louisiana. John played college football at McNeese State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. He received his law degree at Southern University Law School.


John attributes his strong faith and perseverance to his mother, Maudie Belton, a school teacher and his father, Willie Belton, a decorated veteran of the Korean war, a small business owner, and a civil rights leader. Willie Belton was shot and wounded saving another soldier during the Korean war and was highly decorated for his bravery, but when he returned home, his own country denied him certain rights.

Regardless of the lack of equality, his father was never bitter. “He always said that America is still the greatest country on earth regardless of its issues of inequality and that one of the greatest things about America is its constitution,” Belton said.

“My parents taught me the importance of our freedom of religion. They taught me not to use obstacles as excuses but to work hard through faith to achieve my goals. I would not be here today if it were not for my walk of faith,” John continued.

Alana and John met in Baton Rouge and married in1991. Later that year, they moved to North Louisiana where John began his career as a prosecutor, working with law enforcement as an Assistant District Attorney in the Third Judicial District, which includes Lincoln and Union parishes.

Alana and John live in Ruston and have two children. Daughter, Alexis, was a successful collegiate golfer and is now a professional golfer. Their son, Jon Randall, played college football at Louisiana Tech. He worked in recruiting at Louisiana Tech and the University of Virginia. He is the new Director of Recruiting for LSU football.


This is John’s 31st year as a prosecutor, and in 2014, he was elected as District Attorney of the Third JDC and re-elected without opposition in 2020. He is the past president of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and is currently vice president of the National District Attorneys Association.

John and Alana own the Belton Companies, which have a portfolio of six restaurants, plus residential and commercial real estate and timber land holdings.

John served on the board of the University Medical Center Management Corporation, which is a key partner of LSU Health Science Center New Orleans, Tulane University School of Medicine, and other academic institutions.

From 1999 to 2005, Belton served on the Southern University Board of Supervisors. In 2001, he was unanimously elected as Chairman of the Board and re-elected to a second term in 2002 by a unanimous vote of his peers.

He has served as a member of the board of Life Choices North Central Louisiana, Lincoln Health Foundation and Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.

He presently serves on the Board of Directors of Louisiana National Bank, the Eddie G. Robinson Museum, and Teach One to Lead One mentoring program. He is a co-founder and board member of the North Central Louisiana Boys & Girls Club. John recently received the McNeese State University 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

John is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment, pro-justice and pro-law and order. He is the candidate with the most experience in the race for Attorney General.



Toasted Marshmallow in my London Fog? Chai in my coffee? Yes. And yes, please.

Make a batch of simple syrup and then steep a bit of CHAI SPICE in it before adding a splash of vanilla, and bottling it up for the holidays approaching.



whisked into a batch of simple syrup is the perfect addition to your winter mix. Allow the mixture to sit and separate before straining through a fine mesh strainer. Finish with a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Mix either in your coffee, cocoa, cocktails or with maple syrup for pancakes or waffles…or into your buttercream frosting and holiday glazes.

Pair the two together and make Christmas magic. Oh, Mr. Gingerbread Man!


The Christmas Holidays are a time to sit back and take stock of this past year’s accomplishments and run through a seemingly endless list of possibilities for next year’s gardens. What did you grow in 2022 that was new and exciting for you? For me, it was the assortment of new heirlooms we grew in the Louisiana Kitchen Garden Exhibit at Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. Case Knife pole beans, Roseland Small White Pickling cucumber, Pitre’s Red Bush okra, Montelaro Family eggplant, Calhoun Gray watermelon, and several very old LSU tomatoes were very successful! At home, it was Red Ripper peas lining a section of fencing and producing all through the hot, dry summer! Hopes for next year include growing the Red-N-Sweet watermelon out again. Maybe there will be enough to share with local restaurants! And, there is still a list of beans I want to grow next year. High on my list is the “Ma Savage” pole bean from Tiger Bend Road in Union Parish. “Ma Savage” was Mrs. Ruby Jane Green Savage, and her famous bean was used by Dr. J.C. Miller of LSU in pole bean breeding trials! What’s on your priority list for next year?

But, don’t forget to enjoy a little holiday horticulture in the here and now. Camellias are what I look forward to every fall and winter. Sasanquas (Camellia sasanqua cultivars) start us off with colorful blooms when just about everything else is on the way out for the year. Japonicas (C. japonica cultivars) pick up in mid to late December and take us over to early spring, just as warm season color is getting underway again. Camellias are right at home in all areas of Louisiana. They perform best in areas that receive either part shade or dappled sun, and that have acidic soil with good internal drainage. “Leslie Ann” and “Shishi Gashira” are Louisiana Super Plant selections and will perform beautifully in the home landscape if properly planted and cared for. Feel free to deck your landscape with boughs of holly, too! Several species of holly are native to our part of the world. Among them, American holly (Ilex opaca) may reach heights of between 50 and 70 feet in native habitat. Yaupon holly (I. vomitoria) is widely scattered in upland woods in our area, and Deciduous Holly (I. decidua), also called Possum Haw holly, will retain its red fruit after leaves have fallen away, as botanical name suggests. Hollies are dioecious trees and


Camellias are right at home in all areas of Louisiana. They perform best in areas that receive either part shade or dappled sun.

< Feel free to deck your landscape with boughs of holly, too!


shrubs, meaning there are male and female plants. Male plants will produce only male flower for pollen production. Female plants will produce the familiar berries (drupes, to be botanically correct). Hollies are now available commercially with a wide array of leaf shapes and berry colors range from red to orangish yellow. Hollys are great options for those interested in installing natives in their landscape. The small, white flower are insect pollinator magnets, the berries are consumed by birds, and the trees and shrubs also provide good bird habitat.

Now, let’s go indoors where most holiday horticulture happens. Don’t forget that, as the holidays start earlier and earlier, plants used for festive, indoor décor will need TLC all season long to make them not only aesthetically pleasing but also safe. Floral departments of grocery stores have various holiday potted plants for sale, and they are usually in pots wrapped in a decorative foil. When watering these plants, remove them from the foil wrappers so excess water can drain out. Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) should be situated in a sunny location where room temperature ranges from 60 to 70 F. Water only when soil is dry and do not fertilize while it is flowering. The bright red, leaves (bracts) are actually not the flowers. The poinsettia’s flowers occur in small, yellow clusters in the centers of the red bracts. Poinsettias can be moved outdoors during next year’s warm weather, too. Once poinsettias start fading after Christmas, allow the potting medium to dry out but not the point that the stem shrinks. Either repot in March or April, or move to an outside bed once temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees F. At repotting or planting outside, cut the stem back to about 4 to 6 inches above the medium level. New growth should begin in 2 to 3 weeks.

Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.) should be kept between 70 and 80 F. Water only when soil is dry and keep watered indirectly much like for African violets (Saintpaulia sp.). Fertilize only with a low nitrogen fertilizer (less than 10 percent N) and pinch off new growth in spring for rooting. Both can be put back

outside in a shaded area once warm weather returns.

Are you using a real Christmas tree this year? If so, chances are it’s either Fraser fir, Scotch pine, Leyland cypress, or Eastern red cedar. With its Christmassy scent, Frazer fir (Abies faseri) is the most popular Christmas tree species used in the southern United States. Unable to tolerate the heat and humidity of Louisiana, Fraser firs are farmed in many counties of the Southern Appalachians and trucked all over the country. Keep your live Christmas tree well-watered and away from fireplaces or space heaters. When the holidays are over, remember that used Christmas trees make great habitats for wildlife. If you live near a pond or lake, sink the tree with cement blocks to provide structure that fish and other aquatic wildlife will use for habitat. As many of our native game fish ambush their prey, the tree will provide them a good hiding place. Next spring, when the bite is on, you’ll be glad you put your used Christmas tree to good use. If you don’t live on or near a body of water, then consider using your Christmas tree in your backyard as a way to attract birds. Treats made from suet, peanut butter, birdseed, and like material can be hidden among the branches for our feathered friends that overwinter in the area.

Finally, as we say goodbye to 2022, I want to thank each of you who tune in every Tuesday at 4:30 for “In The Garden on Louisiana Living.” If there is a gardening topic you would like to hear about, just let me know! I also want to thank everybody at KTVE NBC 10/KARD Fox 14 for making the last six years such a joy. I look forward to Tuesdays!

Tune in to Louisiana Living every Tuesday at 4:30 for In the Garden with Kerry Heafner of the LSU AgCenter. Poinsettias can be moved outdoors during next year’s warm weather, too! All of us at the LSU AgCenter wish you and yours a festive Holiday Season and a prosperous 2023.



He was born in the fall of 1958 in a non-descript town in rural Tennessee.

His parents were devout and he was raised as the son of a evangelical minister and a teacher wife. His childhood was memorable with his whole life being spent in and around the church. When he was 2 years old, he welcomed a little brother. Both of them were “two peas in a pod” with days spent roaming the fields and woods that surrounded their home. He was a good kid. Mischievous and boisterous, the two boys discovered the secret of the woods and water where any outdoor activity was a daily competition. As he grew into a young man, he avoided things of the “world” as he never tasted alcohol or tobacco and lived the life that his parents laid out for him. He left home at 18 and traveled to a “biblical college” where he hoped to find the right kind of girl to make his parents happy. He married and was blessed with a son. And that is where our story begins.

He worked in a textile plant where he soon found his calling as a safety engineer. He worked long hours but still took the time to spend quality time with his family. He taught the ways of the church and the outdoors where the son became a noted angler and hunter. Many memories were made in those trips but none came close to when the man bought a small farm that held a 50 acre track of woods where he and his son constructed a deer stand. It just wasn’t any deer stand. He chose Cypress to construct it and the sturdy oaks that anchored it sat on a hill where a food plot was carved out. It was their place where hours were spent taking in the sounds and sights of nature.

Not long after the son graduated high school, they decided to place another stand nearby as the son wanted his own deer stand. This stand was identical but there was a distinction between the two. You see every time the father harvested a deer, he would take a knife and carve the day and what was harvested into the wood on the interior of the stand. The inside of the stand showed great success as there were dates back to the origin of the stand and farm. It was Dad’s spot and he proudly looked at that wall with memories of the past. In the spring of 2018 the father began to have what he called “sick headaches.” The headaches became too much to bear and he finally broke down and went for a checkup from the local doctor he had used for years and a man he considered to be a good friend. The checkup was complete and the news was blunt and life altering. The doctor came in and told his friend that there was a tumor, golf ball size, and it didn’t look good. The father took it in stride and plans were made for a biopsy. It was confirmed a week later... glioblastoma. Brain cancer. His doctor referred him to a specialist who confirmed that it was the most dreaded and deadliest cancer and surgery was scheduled. After the surgery, he was told to get his affairs in order and that he had roughly a year to live. The summer was long, chemotherapy, radiation

and pills that made him so sick he could barely get out of bed. But as summer became autumn, he felt good enough to venture into the woods in early October. His wife secretly had the son follow his dad to assure he was okay. The son watched the old man who now was a shadow of his former self. He watched as the old man struggled to mount the Farmall tractor and sow seeds of hope for his last hunting season. Day after day, the old man would go to the deer stand and nurture the seeds he had sown. He fertilized and worked the area in a manner unlike any year. And by early November, the hard work showed. The old man would take his four wheeler and sit at the edge of the field, reliving all of the memories that were etched into that deer stand.

The night before opening day, the father and son met at the aging farm house and talked about the possibilities that tomorrow would bring. They set up a time to meet and both trudged off into the darkness well before daylight the next morning. They took with them their snack bag that the mother had prepared and the faithful thermos of coffee for the cold solitude that awaited them. The morning started as expected. A good frost hung over the meadow he had planted as the old man watched the woods come alive. He was for once in a long time, completely content. He watched a bear slip through his food plot and shortly after the first deer moved into the field. When the doe suddenly alerted, he saw another larger deer slip in from the woods. It was a good buck and he slowly gripped his rifle and looked into the familiar scope.

The son heard the shot and the familiar hit of the bullet. He smiled as he knew the father was hunting horns. He looked at his watch... 7:15. Deciding to sit until the agreed time of 9:30 the son sat and thought in thanks to the heavens that his father had been awarded the chance to take another deer. He remembered his first buck and thought that this could very well be the last deer his dad would take. He eased out of his stand and slipped over to the food plot and the old familiar deer stand. There was no greeting or movement in the stand, so the son climbed up. He found his dad sitting in his chair, coffee cup on his knee with the steam still rising. No movement, no response. Just a last cup of coffee still there where it was just poured. As he looked around the stand, he looked at the carvings of hunts of old. The one that caught his eye as he wiped away tears of grief was the newest one, freshly carved with today’s date. His dad made that last hunt and the tears turned to laughter amid his grief. His dad had died happy and would suffer no more.

*Although this story is partly fictional, and most is true from all these men, it is a tribute to the men I’ve known who no longer are with us. Dedicated to my brother, Steve Chason and friends Allen Butler, Dana J. Walker, Doyle Machearn and Gary Yelverton. Love your friends and family while you have them. Happy Holidays



We all experience them. Those moments that come out of the clear blue and leave us feeling like the sleigh is in a downhill spiral because everyone has stopped believing.

I’d been tending the fire all evening, the embers seemingly fluorescent when the girls walked through the door. We were supposed to shoot for the Christmas issue - this issue.

While it was to be posed for the purpose of shooting, it’s story was authentic. The girls are the ones who coined “Family Friday” for this clan. They are the ones who continue to guard it and honor it - even at 15 and 13. It would be nothing out of the ordinary for us to sit around the fire and roast marshmallows or string garland and chat all things Christmas. Together.

They’d just come in from being with friends and were warming up by the fire roaring with fresh logs as though it had anticipated their chills. Perhaps, even now, maybe it was me who flicked the first ember that caused the blaze; I did interrupt the chatty details of the night with “Did you hear our conversation yesterday? I would like for you…” 15 and 13.

Do you know the scene in the movie “Brave” where mother and daughter are at an empasse, and Merida, the daughter, slashes the tapestry of her family that her mother had been carefully weaving since she was born. This is that scene. You don’t even need to see the movie to imagine that one. Tale as old as time. Conflict of parent and child.

Now, I sit here, pondering how it is that I will be able to teach them all that I need to before the world eats them alive or at least tries. A world that

is seemingly splitting in two. I am in a race with Father Time even though I know he need not participate to win. I am a mere mortal - a modern day mother trying to hold fast the truths while simultaneously delicately unraveling the lies of the worldall the while juggling my dignity and their respect on the toes of the one foot balancing on solid foundation. If this all sounds immaculately dramatic, you must either not have kids, have not reached teenage years or have not had conversations with your teenagers. Or, perhaps you have existed under a rock. We have all been the teenager - paradoxically all knowing and knowing nothing at all. Pair that with the last few years of the Conjuring and you have yourself a mighty fine doomsday cocktail.

My girls, they are independent - both by nature and my doing. I gave them permission years ago to respectfully call me out and debate should they feel me to be out of line. This has proven very humbling to say the least. As much as I would like to regret it, I see it’s benefit tenfold. Debate is not for the faint of heart. It can certainly make a brave man cower and a passionate woman unleash. For a teenager and their parent, it can drive a wedge.

It can throw a dust storm in our faces and sling rocks at our hearts. It is where we go from there, though, that counts.

Enter the Mediator. The Peacemaker. The First Born. The Sister. She is there to tell me to take a breath. She is there to tell me she hears and sees me and even agrees with me - “like, for real.” She is also there to tell me she hears and sees her sister - who is young and still trying to form her own opinions and needs me

to give her space to do that so she can, in fact, come to the podium with a shred of confidence.

And in that moment, I know she is the one that has it right. Each of us was actually debating our insecurities and fears under the guise of the true issue now buried under rubble.

Crystal clear. I felt a giant smile taking hold of me (even though pride still had its hand on my strings) and I wrapped my arms around her - “You are going to be alright.” To that she responded with confidence, “I know. And I also know that I am not going to even try to talk to her about any more of this tonight, and neither should you, but don’t worry, she will come around, just give her space.”

What of the rest? Left to her own space, my previous “opponent” came to me shortly after, herself as humbled as I, sat on the foot of my bed, and we conversed. There was emotion

and there were hugs. me: “I am terrified of turning around and you are too far for me to reach. I am your mother.”

Her: “I feel like you say your frustrations are not aimed at me but it certainly feels like they are. I don’t disagree with you. It’s that I don’t care about all of these issues right now. I am 13. I don’t want to have to.”

Aaaaawwwwwwlllllllll that for a simple Truth, you ask? Yes. Every. Single. Time.

`“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

Merry Christmas to you, readers, and may even the hardest conversations be worthy of a good fire.



the gift that keeps on giving

For the plant lover in your life - yes, even the ones who long for a green thumb but haven’t found it yet - put a little something unexpected under the tree or make a special delivery on their doorstep.

Choose a plant like the Kalanchoe shown here, “Mother of Thousands,” that forms baby plants on the ends of their leaves for easy propagation. The tiny plants grow with exposed roots and detach easily - perfect for nestling in a tiny pot to gift.

Plant Shown: Kalanchoe (kal-un-KOH-ee) or Brophyllum gastonis-bonnieri (Mother of Thousands)

Common name: Donkey Ear


Let It Glow This Season

The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group - Upcoming Events

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON WE HAVE SOME GREAT DEALS for you as we celebrate with the Twelve Days of Christmas this month. The Medical Spa’s Twelve Days of Christmas celebration will run from December 1st - 16th, with a featured special to be announced daily. Let it GLOW this season, whether you’re treating yourself or gifting to someone special! All who purchase during the Twelve Days event will be entered into a drawing for product giveaways!

December 1: We’re Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree with 25% off radiofrequency treatments

December 2: Don’t have a Blue Christmas-Receive 15% off Botox purchase

December 5: Fa-la-la Facials – Oxygeneo Facials and Retail Masques 25% off

December 6: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas! Purchase a $100 gift card for $75; limit 5 per customer

December 7: Making Spirits Bright with Vitamin C serums at 20% off December 8: Wishing you a Merry Christmas with 25% off laser hair removal

December 9: Let it snow with 20% off corrective products

December 12: On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 25% off Microneedling sessions

December 13: Santa Claus is coming to town with cleansers, toners, and moisturizers for 20% off December 14: Deck the Halls with luscious lashes and defined brows - NuCil Serums are buy one, get one 50% off

December 15: Santa Baby - NuDerm Kits 20% off

December 16: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Take advantage of ALL Twelve Days of Christmas!


As the colder temperatures approach, dry air, cold winds, and constant exposure to indoor heat suck the moisture from your skin, stripping it of oils essential for healthy skin barrier function. These conditions can cause skin sensitivity redness and irritation, so it may be time to switch up your routine by using products that help with moisture retention:

SkinCeuticals Emollience – Intensive, restorative cream containing a blend of natural extracts and oils. This cream is ideal for dry/dehydrated skin.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 – Anti-aging corrective cream, containing ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This restorative cream reinforces the skin’s barrier, improves dryness, appearance of smoothness,

laxity, pores, and radiance. Obagi Hydrate – Moisturizer that provides 8-hour moisture with natural ingredients such as shea butter, mango butter, avocado and glycerin. Hydrate Luxe – Provides moisturization and rejuvenation for extremely dry skin. This comedogenic moisturizer contains hydromanil, which captures water and assimilates it into the skin both immediately and over time.

Phyto Corrective Essence Mist – A hydrating facial mist that is clinically proven to strengthen the skin’s barrier and immediately reduce visible redness. A botanical blend of cucumber, thyme, olive leaf, and rosemary extracts soothe and calms the skin, while a blend of hyaluronic acid and glycerin helps draw and retain water in the skin. This essence mist can be reapplied throughout the day, even over makeup, for all-day hydration!


Legend Pro by Lumenis offers TriPollar Radiofrequency Technology. Radiofrequency triggers regeneration of collagen and elastin fibers by applying controlled heating to the deep dermis layer of your skin. This technology can be applied to areas of laxity on the face and neck. What sets the Legend Pro apart is the equipment offers a combination treatment as well with VoluDerm (radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling). RF microneedling encourages the generation of new healthy skin by applying RF-assisted thin electrodes and creating controlled micro wounds. These micro wounds also trigger the production of new collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Your treatment is completely customizable. TriPollar and RF micro-needling can be completed separately, or you may choose a combination treatment, depending on desired results. Downtime is very minimal. You may experience mild redness which can last from a few hours and up to a few days. We recommend not wearing makeup for 48-72 hours post treatment to allow for better healing. Results are best with a course of 3-5 sessions, with the sessions being 4-6 weeks apart. You can take advantage of this amazing treatment during our Twelve Days of Christmas specials! Contact us today at The Medical Spa to schedule your consultation.

Be sure to come by The Medical Spa this month to take advantage of our specials, events, and to find out more about the medical grade skincare products offered here! We are in the James R. Wolff Building (also known as the P&S Building) in downtown Monroe. Our address is 312 Grammont Street Suite 406, across from St. Francis Medical Center. Also, be certain to follow The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group on Facebook and Instagram to stay up today on our weekly specials, sales, promotions, and giveaways.



Instead of waiting for January and the new year, consider decluttering and refreshing your home in December. Afterall, December is the month of getting, giving, and hosting, so there will be many more “things” coming in and going out of your home during this month than almost any other time of year. Let’s get ready for it. Below is a list of 15 things, or spaces, that I recommend decluttering in December.

THE TOY ROOM. December is the time to get rid of any toys that your children are not using anymore to make room for the new things they will be receiving. If you have an organizing system, refresh it to make sure everything is in its place. If you do not have a system already, do not take the time to do that now. Move on the next thing instead.

THE PANTRY. During December you will have more food than typical in your pantry. Maintain order by decluttering expired and ruined items.

THE REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER. The same thing that is true for the pantry is true for the fridge and freezer. There will be more food coming in and going out of it, so getting rid of any expired or ruined items is a must. You will have enough room for all of the ingredients for your famous Christmas casserole. No stress.

YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. Do you decorate your home and tree the same way year after year? Most of us do not, so you will find things that you no longer use, nor want to use, in your current decoration inventory. I suggest weeding out the old to make room for the new. If you have keepsake pieces that you are holding onto for posterities sake, I suggest creating a storage solution that is separate from your current decorations. Not only will this keep them safe from accidental breakage, but it will make holiday decorating faster and easier.

YOUR GIFT WRAP AND SUPPLIES. Now is the time to take stock of what wrapping paper, bags, gift tags and such that you will need. Get rid of any small pieces of wrapping paper that you may have saved “just in case” and toss the crumpled, overused gift bags that you have been using for years. There is nothing like receiving a neatly-wrapped gift, COOKBOOKS. I bet December is one of the only months that you even think about pulling out a cookbook. With that in mind, this is also the month to throw away or donate any cookbooks that you no longer need, use, and/or love. Getting rid of cookbooks is difficult for some, but don’t hold onto them for no good reason. For instance, if there is only one or two recipes that you use, I suggest making copies of them and placing them in a recipe binder or simply writing them on note

cards. Fewer cookbooks will make cooking easier and faster because you will have only the most important books and recipes in your kitchen.

THE MEDICINE CABINET. Your medicine cabinet should be cleaned once a year, and December is the best time. For most of us, it is the coldest part of the year, not to mention, flu season. Get rid of anything expired and replenish tissues, cough drops, and other oft-used items.

THE GIFT CLOSET. If you do not have a gift closet, or basket, you definitely should. How many times have you needed a last-minute gift? My household has been spared unneeded stress more times than I can count because of my “gift area.” You can find small gifts that can be combined to make the perfect package for a teacher, child, parent, or neighbor. December is the month of gifts, so making sure your gift closet is fully stocked and operational is a must.

THE CAR. Now, please don’t wait until December to clean out your car. This should really be a weekly task, but I wanted to mention it here because your car will be used for so many different things than usual during the month of December. For instance, you will be hauling gifts, coats, winter sporting equipment, and probably more people than usual, too. Clean out the back seat pockets and the trunk so there is plenty of room. December is also a good time to check that all supplies and tools are in working order and are where they are supposed to be. Don’t forget to add a few cozy items, such as blankets and snacks.

YOUR PLANNER SUPPLIES. Do you use a paper planner? If so, now is the time to start looking forward to January and the new year. What worked for you and your planning system this year and what didn’t? What do you need to rethink and/or repurchase?

YOUR COUPON DRAWER OR ORGANIZER. This is also something that should be done monthly, but if you haven’t kept it up, do it this month. Get rid of anything expired or anything you no longer need.

COINS – So, how many pennies and quarters have you accumulated from your husband’s pant pockets this year? Now is the time to cash them in! Woohoo!

OLD BEDDING. Go through your sheets, comforters, and blankets and toss anything that has seen better days. You, and your Christmas guests, will enjoy crisp, new sheets more; I promise.

THE COAT CLOSET. This is most important if you have little ones who grow quickly! Get rid of any outgrown or worn-out jackets and sweaters.

STORAGE CONTAINERS. There will be a lot of leftovers kept during December, so freshen up your storage container drawer now. Make sure everything has a matching lid and bottom and toss anything that is stained.

Did I leave out anything? Can you think of something else that would be perfect to declutter in December? Please share with me on Facebook (panachebyerin) or Instagram (erinlovedesigns).


Make This Christmas Magical

With A Gift Of Beauty and Wellness

CHRISTMAS IS the one day of the year when you really need to pull out all of the stops and get it right. No one wants to be in the dog house for the festive season, and with so many amazing gifts to offer, there’s no excuse not to get it right.

Why not give a gift certificate that keeps on giving? A gift that can reverse aging and restore wellness. Professional Laser Center has an array of nonsurgical aesthetic services and procedures to help with your gift-giving.

Botox and Hyaluronic Acid Fillers, such as Restylane, Versa, and Juvederm, are two of our most requested services. Botox addresses fine lines and wrinkles, whereas fillers plump the lips, cheeks, nasolabial folds (smile lines) and marionette lines (puppet lines).

If aging or weight loss has caused your skin to sag, a PDO Thread Lift is a perfect choice. These safe, dissolvable, barbed threads pull the skin taut, giving an immediate lift to the skin, anywhere on the face, neck, or body. There is little to no downtime, results are immediate, and can last 18-24 months.

If too much sun damage is a problem, Intense Pulsed Light can take years off the appearance of the skin by removing unsightly pigment, brown spots, facial spider veins and Rosacea in less than three weeks.

Laser Hair Removal can permanently remove unwanted hair on the face or body, in as little as eight months.

PinPointe Foot Laser, the first FDA cleared laser to treat nail fungus, is another popular service.

Dermapen Microneedling induces the production of new collagen through the delivery of tiny needles into the skin. You can expect a tighter and fuller appearance to the skin, as well as better texture,

especially for those who suffer from scarring. We incorporate new technology that optimizes this procedure. AnteAGE MD serum, an FDA cleared product that contains stem cytokines, is microneedled into the skin or hair to restore its youthful states. Plus, AnteAGE MD also offers a complete skin care line to improve the health and appearance of your skin in just two steps. Our AnteAge MD Holiday Box makes a perfect gift. It includes $100 worth of free skin care products. We have a limited number of these gift boxes, so hurry and purchase yours today.

This month, we celebrate our 19th year in business. Since that time, Professional Laser Center has grown into more than just a laser center. For the last decade, we’ve been deeply involved in Integrative Medicine, which integrates natural medicines with traditional ones. This includes Bio-identical Hormone Replacement, which is now our most popular service. We’ve changed lives and relationships by restoring the exact, natural hormones we made in our youth. This is achieved with pellets inserted just under the skin, or with creams, gels, troches, shots, etc.

Make this Christmas magical by giving a unique gift or gift certificate from Professional Laser Center. For more information, or to order your gift certificate by phone, call 318-361-9066.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.


Your Hometown Urologist

Robert Marx Specializes in Vasectomies


home for the holidays, this is the perfect opportunity to schedule your vasectomy. With minimal downtime, you can be back at home the same day and simply resting for two days. Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of met deductibles, and “Shelf Your Elf” this holiday season.

A vasectomy is a medical procedure in which two tubes (the vas deferens) that carry sperm from the testicles to the urinary tract are tied and sealed. This prevents sperm from passing into the seminal stream and fertilizing a woman’s egg. Although it is permanent, it is surgically reversible in most cases. Reversibility is dependent upon time elapsed since the vasectomy. When it comes to forms of permanent male birth control, a vasectomy is the ideal permanent surgical procedure available to men. The procedure carries a very low risk of complications and is available to be performed as an outpatient procedure with localized anesthesia. Dr. Marx performs a no-

cut technique, which is the least invasive. The patient is sedated and local anesthesia is used in order to achieve a painless procedure.


Prior to a vasectomy, patients may be asked to prepare by:

• Washing the scrotum to prevent infection

• Not shaving the area

• Bringing a pair of tight-fitting underwear or athletic support to the surgery to support the scrotum and minimize swelling

• Arranging for transportation home to prevent extraneous movement

• Avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs prior to and following the procedure, which thins the blood and can cause excessive bleeding


After the vasectomy is completed, patients are advised to rest for two days in order to reduce swelling and allow the vas deferens

to heal. Discomfort may last for up to a week after the procedure, with patients often being prescribed anti-inflammatory or painkillers for pain. Patients are encouraged to avoid heavy lifting, straining or squatting for 1 week. If you do any of these activities for work, you may need to take off work or arrange for light duty. Dr. Marx can give you an excuse. Also, keep the area dry for a week as well.

If you are considering a vasectomy, call today to discuss your options with Dr. Marx.

Robert D. Marx, M.D. is this community’s hometown urologist. He was born and raised right here in Monroe, Louisiana. He graduated from NLU, now ULM, and graduated from medical school and completed his residency at LSU Shreveport. Dr. Marx has traveled extensively working with the leaders of the field in order to keep up with the latest and most successful techniques in incontinence. He has been in practice for over thirty years and conveniently operates at Glenwood, Monroe Surgical and P&S.


The elegance of Catherine Tonore’s formal décor has also extended to her adornments for the happiest time of the year, making Christmas at the Tonores an extravagant nod to traditional aesthetics and fostering a spirit of merriment.


Decorating is a matter of attitude. Like personal style, you can’t go wrong as long as you are true to yourself. Such is the design compass that Catherine M. Tonore, CEO of Primary Health Services Center, has embraced in her French chateau-style house. With a personal style that she describes as “very formal,” her interior draws on deep resplendent hues, sparkling lights, and festive aromas. This elegance has also extended to her adornments for the happiest time of the year, making Christmas at the Tonores an extravagant nod to traditional aesthetics and fostering a spirit of merriment.

When the Tonores moved into their home three years ago, they had their work cut out for them. “I totally redid the whole house,” says Catherine. The many alterations included repainting the walls, glittering the ceilings with grand chandeliers (each accented with gold finish ceiling medallions), and redoing the kitchen cabinets which are characterized by wood appliques of her own design. Inspired by a traditional French aesthetic, Catherine has curated her space with antique wood furniture, a stunning collection of porcelain pieces, deep-toned Persian rugs, and even Scalamandré wallpaper (the same designer that Jackie

Kennedy Onassis used in the White House).

Each room of the Tonore’s two-story home—which includes three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a dining room, parlor, living room, sunroom, patio, and courtyard—has a majestic feel to it and is fashioned around a color. On the first floor, the simplicity of the cream interior walls and cabinets balances with the rich red furnishings and hardwood floors. “I love jewel tones,” says Catherine, whose favorite color is undeniably red, a color radiating warmth. Catherine opted for emerald green when tailoring her sunroom to offset this powerful hue. “I always loved Gone with the Wind and they use that beautiful emerald color,” she says, referring to the famous green, curtain dress that Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) wears to visit Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in jail. “I thought I really made a mistake,” admits Catherine, at the time, desiring to lean into her comfort color. “You have enough red,” her friends reminded her. Though she agreed, her decision to go green was solidified on a trip to Dallas where she eyed crystal chandeliers with green accents. Now, the cozy space is marked by velvet green curtains lined with gold fringe and matching furniture, all facing one of her favorite spaces to occupy—the patio and courtyard.

As a CEO, Catherine has a lot to meditate about, and the patio and courtyard—fully furnished, complete with an outdoor grill and kitchen, and decorated with accent tables and some of her prized porcelain vases—is just the space to commune with


something greater than herself. “It’s the Spirit,” she says, adding, “It’s asking God to give you the strength to do things that you need to do, and that is bigger than you can ever achieve yourself.” Comfortable, soothing, and relaxing, her time outside is made even more enjoyable when her bird family joins her. “They seem like they keep growing,” she laughs, referring to the community of sparrows chirping madly from one of the trees occupying the serene space surrounded by travertine stone on the walkways and flooring, stone urns with Christmas decor, lots of red twinkling lights, and even a New Orleans style lamp post. “The birds help soothe me. And I guess they listen to me,” she says, explaining that her outdoor time sometimes takes the form of taking several work calls.

Another source of communion for Catherine is her family, so the rooms on the second floor are reserved for her oldest grandchildren, Alex and Morgan. There, cool tones and shimmering fabrics brighten, providing a regal atmosphere. Sapphire blue emanates from plush pillows, bedding, and additional crystal chandeliers. Gold accents further emphasize this calming shade alongside wood-framed beds, bedside tables, and antique, upholstered armchairs. The primary bedroom, located on the first floor, follows a similar design, adding opulence by way of a canopied bed fit for royalty. Eggplant purple sheets, upholstery, and glimmering, thick curtains further provide this space with a monarchical vehemence.

“I love traditional things,” says Catherine, who enjoys beauty and elegance. “I really enjoy walking through my home and just admiring the things that I have collected throughout the years,”

Bottom right: Three Christmas trees are on display. The first tree graces the parlor and is a Valentino tree. The flocked red velvet makes for a stunning appearance and is complimented by the metallic gold from the lush poinsettia ornaments and limited edition collectible elves by Mark Roberts.

she says, making mention of the pieces that have been passed down to her, particularly by way of her mother. One of her favorite pieces of furniture can be found in the parlor and was inherited from her husband’s parents—a wide-seated plush armchair with quality, red floral upholstery. In the same space hangs her oldest piece of furniture which she found at an antique show. Hailing from Syracuse, New York is a tall, ornate wood-frame mirror from the mid-1800s. “It had the invoice and everything,” she says, mentioning that the paper was so old that it fell apart when touched.

Catherine’s penchant for pretty things is a year-round endeavor, and even more so during Christmas time which, for her, begins as soon as October ends. “I guess I brought Christmas into the neighborhood,” she laughs, referring to her vibrant decorations which took about a week to complete. Outfitting holiday cheer begins outdoors with Christmas ball garlands lining the Juliet balconies and entrance of her home, outlined with travertine and Bird of Paradise ironwork. Giant ornaments rest over stone urns, red string lights hang over ceramic potted evergreens, and gold and red bows accent ornate wreaths hang from the first-floor windows. “Christmas has always been in my heart,” she says, emphasizing that it is the spirit that brings the family together.

With the help of Kelly Taylor’s eye for design, the Tonore household is a stunning display of seasonal glam. Three Christmas trees are on display.

The first tree graces the parlor and is a Valentino tree. The flocked red velvet makes for a stunning appearance and is complimented by the metallic gold from the lush poinsettia ornaments and limited edition collectible elves by Mark Roberts. The sunroom holds an even livelier tree specifically fashioned for her five-year-old grandson, Will. It is jampacked with joyful, lanky elves, nutcrackers, shiny lollipops, and a jovial elf tree stand. The main Christmas tree is the tallest, most heavily decorated, and towers adjacent to the fireplace which is lined with large gold and red poinsettias, decorated stockings, and Mr. and Mrs. Clause figurines. The dramatic tree topper of glittery, curly ribbon picks is to be expected, as the tree is a burst of red and gold ribbons, more poinsettias, and the occasional elf.

Above: Another source of communion for Catherine is her family, so the rooms on the second floor are reserved for her oldest grandchildren, Alex and Morgan. There, cool tones and shimmering fabrics brighten, providing a regal atmosphere. Sapphire blue emanates from plush pillows, bedding, and additional crystal chandeliers, poinsettia ornaments and limited edition collectible elves by Mark Roberts.

“We’re kind of running out of space,” says Catherine, whose Christmas cheer immediately grabs visitors as they walk into the foyer—lavish St. Nick figurines top large vases, a family of porcelain carolers huddles in the entryway of the dining room as well as the staircase quarter space landing, while a lavish garland lines the handrail. “I think decorations are more challenging to purchase now,” she says, commenting on the influences of modern tastes which often play with color palettes, keep to minimalist displays, and embrace colossal front yard inflatables. “You may have to shop early if you want to get anything unusual,” she adds, explaining that most of her holiday finds come from her trips to Dallas. Though she is true to her style in fashion and decor, she understands that the formal is not for everyone. Even then, to stand in any room of her home is to appreciate the splendor of sophistication.

Catherine’s dedication to designing an interior befitting the festive season comes from reverence for gathering family. “We share wonderful things,” she says, eagerly revealing that this year her family will be wearing Christmas pajamas chosen by her youngest grandson. Without a doubt, tradition is at the heart of the Tonore household and is meant to be passed down, starting with her children. “I hope they’ll carry the tradition on, and have plenty to share with each other.”


Leadership Ouachita


graduated from the Monroe Chamber and Leadership Council’s 2022 Leadership Ouachita program at Bayou DeSiard Country Club. This was the Leadership program’s 34th graduating class. The purpose of Leadership Ouachita is to develop and empower the emerging leaders of Northeast Louisiana to transform the region into a place recognized as one of the best places to live and do business. Class members engage in a series of sessions focused on education and workforce development, economic development and infrastructure. The program also provides insight on public decision making, practical and in-depth discussions on public issues pertinent to Ouachita Parish, an expanded knowledge and understanding of the community in which we live, and the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with growing and established leaders in a neutral environment. Since the class inception thirty-two years ago, over 850 people have graduated from the program.

During the ceremony, Amy Sawyer, with North Delta Title, was named the 32nd Annual James M. Shipp, Jr. Memorial Young Business Leader of the Year. This prestigious award is presented annually to a young man or woman in Ouachita Parish who has displayed outstanding leadership and service. The award was named in honor of James M. Shipp, Jr. Jim was the IMC general manager that was tragically killed during the explosion at the IMC plant in Sterlington in 1991. He was a Monroe Chamber board member and an active leader in the community.

Past recipients of this prestigious award include: Brent Henley, Tom Nicholson, David Cattar, George Cummings, Harvey Hales, Ed Major, Debbie Sawyer, Mike Ryan, Bruce Hanks, Dr. David Uth, Terry Baugh, Jerry Daigle, Taylor Cagle, Jim Crotwell, Judge Wendell Manning, LJ Holland, Aimee Kane, Christian Creed, Stephen Harrison, Kevin Woods, Stewart Keyes, Michael Echols, Laura Kilpatrick Marchelos, Ashley West, Jeff Laudenheimer, James Moore, III, Matt West, Alberta Green, Jeremy Harrell, Damon Marsala and Alan Brockman.

Sponsors for the 2022 program are: Etheridge Pipeline & Conduit, Ochsner LSU Health Monroe, Specialty Management Services of Ouachita, St Francis Medical Center, City of Monroe, First Horizon Bank, Progressive Bank, Strauss Interest, KTVE/KARD, Stephens Media Group, The Radio People.

1100 N. 19th in Monroe | 318.387.1100 | Whether it’s your first home, or your last, North Delta Title Company is sure to make your closing experience the best.
Amy Sawyer Named 32nd Annual James M. Shipp, Jr. Memorial Young Business Leader of the Year
for the holidays.
Amy Price Sawyer, Attorney Kirby O Price, Attorney

Holiday Orthopaedic Injuries


This special time of year brings together family and friends to make lasting memories. Unfortunately, the holidays also bring specific types of orthopaedic injuries. One of the most frequent causes of holiday mishaps is the ladder. From the seemingly benign step stool to the large extension variety, the ladder throws even the most careful user. A fall from the last-minute rush to hang the mistletoe or the long stretch to reach the big baking pan can compromise a wrist or bones in the forearm. If the legs or feet become entangled, a serious ankle or knee injury can occur. With outdoor ladder use, falls from higher heights generate enough force for serious trauma. Additionally, if the mechanism on an extension ladder is not appropriately locked, the ladder can collapse and cause a significant crushing injury. The rule is always better safe than sorry. If a question exists regarding a fracture from a

ladder mishap, do not hesitate to get an x-ray.

Related to ladders is the holiday pastime of hunting. Many a catastrophic fall has occurred, and faulty equipment can lead to injury, so always use caution. A critter who decides to make its home in the blind or stand may rattle or sting the unsuspecting hunter. Varied orthopaedic injuries can happen due to the presence of unwelcomed visitors. Winter ground cover turns the wrong step into a twisted ankle. A painful injury develops when the prize is finally found but lifting it into the truck undermines the back. Always be aware of good body mechanics even in the excitement of the moment! But traveling to and from the stand or blind in the side by side or ATV produces the most serious injuries. Everyone has heard a story of someone who has suffered great harm in one of these vehicles so use precautions and give the transportation the respect it deserves.

Respect leads to the final frequent holiday

injury – respect the new toy! From hover boards to a Nine-Bot, to an old-fashioned trampoline, to an Inmotion, to a treadmill, to virtual reality goggles, to looking skyward at the drone, to Big Wheels, to Barbie cars – if Santa can bring it, the consumer can injure themselves. Nothing is worse than spending Christmas day with the new bicycle parked in the driveway and a crying child and parent in the ER. Don’t let the enthusiasm of the new (or the neighbor’s new) outweigh common sense and caution.

At the North Louisiana Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, never hesitate to bring us your holiday story because trust us, we have heard some holiday tales. We really want to wish you well this holiday season and do not want you to need our care, but should you find yourself on the unfortunate side of a holiday mishap, we are here to provide the help you need. Happy Holidays, and don’t forget to take care while carving!

We Are Here to Provide the Help You Need

Gardens of Somerset

5 Essential Benefits of Socialization for Seniors


“seasoned” citizen or taking care of an aging parent, socialization is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is essential for both mental and physical wellbeing. Many seniors find that as they age, their social circles begin to dwindle. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as retirement, loss of a spouse, or limited mobility.

The holiday season can be a particularly difficult time for seniors who live alone due to the increased focus on family gatherings and celebrations. They may feel left out or even forgotten. The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, decorating, and parties can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel left out when everyone else seems to be busy with their own plans.

At the Gardens of Somerset, we understand the importance of socialization for seniors and offer a variety of ways for our residents to connect with others so that they can enjoy all

the benefits it has to offer. It’s one of the many reasons why our community is such a great place to call home.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five essential benefits of socialization for seniors:


Reduces Loneliness and Isolation

One of the most important benefits of socialization for seniors is that it helps to reduce loneliness and isolation. Loneliness can have a significant impact on mental health, causing feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression. It can also lead to physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and a weakened immune system.

2. Increases Life Satisfaction and Happiness

Seniors who are socially active tend to have a higher quality of life and are generally more satisfied with their lives than those who are not. They also report feeling happier overall. It’s no wonder that socialization is often referred to

as the “elixir of life” for seniors. Many of our residents at the Gardens of Somerset say that socializing with their neighbors and friends is one of the best parts of living in our community.

3. Provides Mental Stimulation

Socializing can help to keep your mind sharp and provide mental stimulation. It has been shown to help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Seniors who stay socially engaged are also less likely to experience a decline in cognitive function.

4. Lowers stress levels

Socializing can help to lower stress levels and improve coping skills. When you interact with others, your brain releases oxytocin, a hormone that has stress-reducing and antianxiety effects. It can also help to take your mind off of whatever is causing you stress.

5. Boosts immune system

Seniors who have an active social life tend to have a stronger immune system. Socialization has been shown to increase the production of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that helps fight off infections. Immune system function declines with age, so this is an important benefit of socialization for seniors.


Christmas at the Oaks

Saturday November 19th, Ivy & Stone and New Beginnings of Ruston hosted “Christmas at The Oaks.” A day full of exclusive specials, holiday drinks, live music, food and shopping. Just a few of the vendors present were Forever Linked, Traveling Chic Boutique and Rachel Huber.

On the BayouScene

1 Courtney Riley 2 Ragan Barnes and Julia Northbick

Frankie Antis and Jennifer Daniel

Alexis and Blake Bosely

Rory and Emory Beckham

Stacy Dotson and Jackson Dotson

Celeste Holley, Lucy Douglas and Jerrilyn Frasier 8 Emily Maples, Claire Sholar and Elise Burch

1 4
7 8 5 6 2 3

State Representative Michael Echols

Fundraiser in Honor of Representative Michael Echols


and family joined State Representative Michael Echols Thursday, October 20th for a fundraiser in his honor. The event, which took place in The Exchange Room of Restaurant Cotton, recognized Echols for his support of Telehealth, growing primary care doctors and his overall support of healthcare in the Louisiana Legislature..

“Representative Echols understands the critical role physicians and all healthcare providers play in serving and protecting the citizens of Louisiana,” said Dr. Greg Sampognaro. “We want to support and thank him for both understanding our issues and the leadership he provides in Baton Rouge.”

Echols was also honored in August 2022 in New Orleans by the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians (LAFP) and was presented the 2022 LAFP Legislative Champion Award at their annual meeting. “Much of my career has been spent in the healthcare industry,” Echols said. “Our doctors and healthcare professionals play a huge role in our state in a very challenging and changing business. Louisiana must maintain a friendly healthcare environment to recruit and retain the physicians of tomorrow.”

Representative Echols assumed office in January 2020 and represents District 14. He serves on the House of Representatives

Republican Executive Committee, House Health and Welfare Committee, and the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. His professional experience includes serving as Director of Business Development for Vantage Health Plan.


Dr. Ralph Abraham – Dr. James Altick – Dr. Raj Bhandari – Dr. Blaine Borders – Dr. Kyle Bruyninckx - Dr. Justin Haydel - Dr. Miles Hilbun – Dr. Hill Hinkle - Dr. Dan Holt – Joe Holyfield - Dr. Gary Jones –Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians - Dr. Lee Miller - Dr. Paul Murphy – Dr. Arthur Richert - Dr. Teresa Ross – Dr. Greg Sampognaro - Dr. Ross Smith – Dr. Andrew Waldo


Dr. Joseph Barron - Dr. Blaine Borders - Dr. Daniel Cordas - Dr. Bonita Dyess – Exxon Mobile - Evans Oil Co. - Dr. Vince Forte - Dr. Sumatha Ghanta – Dr. Hardy Gordon - Dr. Lee Humble – Kilpatrick Funeral Home - Dr. Anti Maran - Dr. Stuart Melton – James Moore Jr. - Dr. Bob Raulerson – Randy Russell - Dr. Justin Tarver – Regina and Doug Wood


Creating Meaning and Forming Lasting Connections

We Build Families

CHRISTMAS IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE holiday, with Thanksgiving a close second. Surveys show that other favorites vary a lot based on the age, gender, and other factors for whom you ask, but Christmas and Thanksgiving continue to top the list for everyone. What is it about these two that reach us so powerfully? Hope, family, events, and meaning bigger than oneself all contribute to why these two holidays resonate on a deeper level, though vacation and great food aren’t bad reasons either.

If these values are some of the most important that connect with us on a deeper level, what does it say for our society in a time where we are more alone? From declining church membership and shared events to greater political partisanship, Americans spend less time together, and when they do, it is often people who are very similar. Even our social media is becoming less communal and more

competitive. Yuval Harari recently described Twitter as less like a town square, and more like a gladiator arena, where violence and brutality are rewarded.

I’m fortunate in that as a fertility specialist, I often see the reverse of that loneliness, and instead experience the best of what our world has to offer. While we celebrate Jesus’s birth this season, I actually get to see miraculous conceptions all the time. (A lot prayer and love coupled with a bit of technology seems to go a long way.) Renewed hope, love, and wonder— children can bring out the best in us (or at least when they aren’t pulling their brother’s hair for the seventeenth time.) My favorite day of the year isn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving— it is baby reunion day. This is when babies conceived through our clinic come back and we get to celebrate them. If you have never struggled with infertility, talk with someone who has about that amazing moment when

they heard that first heartbeat or saw waving arms and wiggling legs on the ultrasound.

Being a parent isn’t for everyone. But we have to recognize that we are often at our best not just when we are connected to ourselves, but to others. I, and all of us at Positive Steps Fertility, hope that this season is a time of connection and meaning for you. We hope that you experience family, not as some unrealistic Norman Rockwell painting or traditional ideal, but that in all its messiness and reality, it is still a chance for renewal and purpose and joy. If you know a couple where biology isn’t letting them achieve their family on their own terms, we’d love to help. However, we should all also support them in the path they choose, even if we would want to go beyond granddogs for ourselves.

In short, we hope you feel the love of others in this season and for generations to come. Merry Christmas!


The Market On Julia:

A Local Gem


Parish, Dawanna Sanders has created the White Gold Capital of the south, something else to brag about. She’s been a friendly smile with a giving heart in the community for nearly sixty years. The type who would do anything for anyone and enjoys making others happy. She’s raised her children alongside her husband Randy, owner of Traco Distributing, and now enjoys nothing more than spoiling her grandchildren.

For many years, Dawanna has found pure joy in cooking for her family and always packing a bag of snacks for the ballpark so that no one is ever hungry. In the summer of 2022, she envisioned a “specialty market” that would bring an assortment of grab-and-go food options along with a full salad bar to serve the community. She quickly hit the ground running and found the perfect location nestled downtown in the heart of Rayville. A quaint little house in the Garden District that takes you

back in time when you walk through the front door. From the original wood flooring, antique fireplace, buffalo plaid curtains, and the smell of fresh pecan muffins, you will feel right at Grandmother’s house as you step inside. She wears her apron daily, a symbol of homemaking, motherhood, nurturing, and servitude.

For many years, she and her husband Randy have offered nothing but the finest selection of wholesale food items from Traco in Bee Bayou, LA. Now, she is able to provide options that are packaged smaller than case size. Come in, grab a cup of coffee while you shop, and browse what all she has to offer. You will find spectacular items from local vendors such as Panola Pepper, All of Us Old Plantation Soups and Dips, Ole Homestead jelly, Cookie’s Creations jelly & marinara sauce, homemade jelly made by Wende’s Kitchen In The Bend, Parish rice, For the Luv of Chicken Salad, Porter’s boil in the bag peanuts, Gambino’s French bread, Italian olive salad, Fit Chef meals

for healthier options, homemade pasta salad, potato salad, dips and so many more goodies. Don’t forget the BBQ sandwiches, boudin egg rolls, jambalaya, and signature crawfish Julie over bow tie pasta in the warmer most days.

The Market can seat over twenty if you choose to fix your salad and dine in. Cooler weather brings more options for soup, gumbo, red beans and sausage, and chicken and dumplings. Can’t leave out the shrimp and grits, a true Southern favorite! To satisfy your sweet tooth, grab a cake ball or six-inch cake made by Babe’s Cakes. They are truly delicious! We’ve also stocked the shelves with pecan or peanut brittle by Taste and See Candy Company. So yummy! Aside from the main dining area, The Market offers a separate dining room for your private family lunch, business meeting, or party of your choice.

Since the opening of The Market in October 2022, there has been tremendous support from the community and The Sanders could not be more thankful. Come by and see Dawanna, she would love to chat with you and show you around! The Market is conveniently located in downtown Rayville on 828 Julia Street, next door to our sweet neighbors at Bayou Family Care, open 8-2 Monday through Friday. Remember, good food and good company are two of life’s simplest yet greatest pleasures!




After 47 years in the business, this fellow knows his plants, chemicals, and hardscape better than just about anyone. His body of knowledge built on experience -- which he freely offers to his customers -- is worth more than anything he sells. Because of his business success, his “always glad to help” attitude, and his willingness to support this region, Sonny Panzico is our December Bayou Icon.



Sonny Panzico is a busy man. He’s been a busy man his entire life, and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. An entrepreneur who has built a phenomenal business literally from the ground up, Panzico is recognized today as one of this region’s premier businessmen. From a small start when he bought Johnny Bayle’s Garden Mart 47 years ago, to today when his “Sonny Panzico’s Garden Mart” stores are meccas for gardeners throughout north Louisiana and south Arkansas, Sonny’s is an enviable success story. He describes himself as a “simple man”, but don’t be fooled by his easy-going manner. After 47 years in the business, this fellow knows his plants, chemicals, and hardscape better than just about anyone. His body of knowledge built on experience -- which he freely offers to his customers -- is worth more than anything he sells. Because of his business success, his “always glad to help” attitude, and his willingness to support this region, Sonny Panzico is our December Bayou Icon.

When Sonny Panzico was growing up on Monroe’s southside, he spent a lot of time talking with his father. Remembering those conversations would become even more precious to Sonny later in his life as he began developing his own career. His father was his mentor and taught Sonny both by example and through those conversations. When Sonny was 15 years old, his dad suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Sonny began working when he was just 12 years old, selling groceries in his dad’s store, Leon’s Place on Jackson Street. Sonny’s dad was also in the livestock business, so the young boy would accompany his dad to the sale barns. Sonny’s minister, Brother Charles Littleton at Central Baptist Church, became a father figure for the young teenager. Through both his dad and Brother Charles, Sonny learned to respect everyone and to treat people with honesty and fairness. That has been a guiding principle throughout his life and career.

Sonny was born at home, the next to the eldest of seven children. He was the oldest boy with a younger brother and five sisters. Sonny has lived in Monroe for his entire life. He went to Lida Benton Elementary and then started high school at Neville. When the family moved, he transferred to Ouachita Parish High School to complete his high school studies.


After his high school graduation, Sonny enrolled at Northeast Louisiana State College (now ULM) and majored in speech education. He graduated in 1965, thinking that he would have a career as a teacher. He took a position teaching Distributive Education at Ouachita Parish High School and taught one year there. He loved teaching and working with the students, but the pay ($265 per month) simply was not enough with which to support a family. Sonny learned important lessons about himself from this brief stint in teaching. For one, he learned that he had a gift for teaching others how to do things. For another, he learned that he loved interacting with people. Interestingly, he has spent the rest of his career doing both.

Sonny next took a job as a sales representative for Proctor & Gamble selling in their soap products division. His experience working in his dad’s grocery store paid off! He held this position successfully for five years, during which time he further developed both his people skills and selling skills. He then took a position selling small package chemicals (Ortho products) for Chevron Chemical Company. He sold to the chain stores and independently-owned hardware stores, all the while learning all he could about the products he was selling. For five years, Sonny immersed himself in this area of the business, making important contacts in the process and gaining knowledge that would help him succeed in his own nursery adventure.



“After calling on all of these stores during those years, I knew that I needed to go into business for myself,” Sonny explains. “I always thought I could be successful if I had an opportunity because I said no one could outwork me.” That opportunity came when Johnny Bayle’s Garden Mart next to TG&Y in Northgate Shopping Center on Forsythe Avenue came available for sale. Sonny saw the possibilities and bought the business. This was 1975 and marked the beginning of Sonny’s nursery business.

Armed with a good working knowledge of chemicals and fertilizer, Sonny was all set – except for the fact that he really knew very little about plants. He had no experience to speak of with them, so he did what every smart businessman does – he found someone to fill that gap. That “someone” was Mrs. Buick. Sonny had met her when he called on her at Sears where she worked. While he was there selling Ortho products, he noticed how good she was at her job and how knowledgeable she was about plants.

As luck would have it, he ran into Mrs. Buick one day soon after buying Johnny Bayle’s Garden Mart and he asked what she was doing. She said she was looking for a job. He hired her on the spot. “One day not long after, the plant suppler arrived with his big 18-wheeler filled with plants for me to choose from to stock the nursery,” Sonny says. “I found Mrs. Buick and asked her to climb in there and tell me what I needed to buy that would sell. Based on her experience, she carefully selected what would live in our climate and what would likely sell well in our market. She saved me in those early years!”

Through the years, Sonny has learned everything he can about plants. Today when a customer asks for a particular plant, he will not hesitate to draw from that store of experiential knowledge and gently suggest an alternative that would grow better in the environment that customer envisions. He can give the common name for the plant (Dumb Cane Plant, for example) as well as its “official” name (Dieffenbachia) together with where it will grow best, how much sunlight and water is required, and the plant’s overall hardiness. That’s a kind of customer service that is rarely found anymore. And it’s the kind of customer service that has been a hallmark of Panzico stores from the very beginning.


Sonny’s Northgate Nursery grew quickly and business was great – but that growth meant that gradually the business was limited by lack of parking and store space. He loved the location as did his customers, but his future growth there wasn’t feasible with only 2,000 square feet of space. After checking out several locations, Sonny bought three adjacent lots on Forsythe Avenue and built his first building. This location, too, proved to be an excellent one. However, over time it also became too small to handle parking and nursery stock. Once again, Sonny had to move and expand.

In 1984, Sonny built a new building on Arkansas Road in West Monroe and opened a second Sonny Panzico’s Garden Mart there. The following year he opened a third garden center – this time in Lake Shore on DeSiard Street. All of these proved to be excellent locations.

Even as he was developing these stores, Sonny was becoming increasingly aware that he was going to have to go bigger still, or get out of the business altogether. Among the factors influencing him was watching the growth of garden centers as part of the chain stores. These centers provided plants, but often ones that would not thrive in this climate. In addition, many of the sales persons did not even know what the plant was that they were trying to sell. In other words, there was almost no support for the customer. Seeing that void, Sonny began looking for property on which to build his dream – a garden center superstore!


In 2012, Sonny and his son-in-law, Mark Lindstrum, acquired 9 acres of land on Highway 165N. The location was ideal – handy for customers from north Louisiana and south Arkansas, and located on a major highway. With careful planning based on four decades of experience in the business, Sonny designed and built his superstore. The 40,000 square foot facility is divided roughly into thirds – one third is chemicals, one third is fertilizer, and one third is hardscape --- a huge selection that includes fountains, outdoor furniture and kitchens, statuary, umbrellas, garden flags, birdhouses, grills, and countless other items just ready to go home with a customer. “Being in business for myself has been both professionally and personally rewarding to me because my dream has come true,” Sonny says. “I have accomplished my goals of owning and building my own business. The bonus? I love what I do every day!”


When a customer walks in Sonny Panzico’s Garden Superstore, one thing that he may notice is an easel that holds a large framed “Thank you!” to four very special individuals who helped Sonny during his career. There are pictures of each with a small label giving their names and specific store location where they worked and for how long. “I have always surrounded myself with the best people I could find,” Sonny says. “Because of that, I have to say that my

business success has been a real team effort.”

When Sonny speaks of these four, it becomes apparent that they are like family to him. Jeff Gooden (32+ years), Jack Essex (26 years), Kathryn Holloway (10 years), and Cheryl Lowe (32 years) were pillars who helped Sonny build the business to what it is today. Sonny is visibly moved when he talks about the difference each made both in his life and his business.

For example, when Sonny was approached by customers wanting to buy flocked Christmas trees, he needed someone to handle that job. In stepped Jeff Gooden, who learned how to flock and then flocked trees every year for Sonny to sell. “I remember one time when we had put all of the trees outdoors for overnight. Early the next morning I was awakened by rain falling. I hurriedly got dressed and went to the store to rescue as many trees as I could. When I got there, Jeff had already gone to the store and moved them all indoors,” Sonny remembers. “That was Jeff – always doing what needed to be done without being asked.”

At the beginning of his business, Sonny hired Jack Essex to grow plants for Sonny to sell. Over time, it became cost-prohibitive to grow his own, so Sonny asked Jack to come to Forsythe to work in the store. “Jack was a natural with customers,” Sonny says. “They loved him! At his funeral, the majority of those attending were customers of his.”

The two ladies honored, Cheryl Lowe and Kathryn Holloway, were equally instrumental in their leadership at Panzico’s. Lowe ran the West Monroe store for Sonny, and Holloway made sure his plant stock was up-to-date. “When I had this team together, it was the best team I ever had – but I didn’t realize it at the time,” Sonny explains. “One of the biggest challenges I face today is finding people like them to work for me. It isn’t like it used to be.”


Not only does Sonny have cherished workers he considers to be “family,” he also has a strong traditional family. Twenty-five years ago, he married Alyce Smith – “the love of my life!” Alyce had been a customer and worked for Sonny at both the Monroe and West Monroe stores. Alyce shares with him an extended family that includes 3 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren (and there’s another on the way). Sonny adores them all, but his three daughters --- Cindy, Lori, and Lee Ann --- hold a special place in his heart.

So far, none of Sonny’s grandchildren have shown any interest in coming into the business and eventually taking it over. “I know I can’t take anything with me when I’m gone, but I’d like to think that someone in the family would carry it on,” Sonny explains. “I think the reason that they don’t recognize this as an opportunity is because they’ve grown up seeing how hard I work every day. That doesn’t appeal to young people today.”

When asked about what he enjoys doing outside of work, Sonny laughed and said, “When you own a business and you want to be successful, you don’t have a lot of hobbies.” He does admit to sneaking away before sunrise on occasion during hunting season so that he can get into the woods, watch them come alive, and have some quiet time to himself to sort through his thoughts. He did try golf once, but quickly decided that chasing a ball around a course just wasn’t his “thing.” Sonny also doesn’t belong to any organizations. He prefers to spend any free time that he has with his family.


When Sonny was young and working as a sales representative, he saw many businesses that were unsuccessful. Their owners and workforce weren’t committed to the business, and that doomed them to slow- or no-growth. Sonny knew that he could do better than that, and he has. There have been challenges, of course. Financing business expansions, finding good people with both experience and a


“Being in business for myself has been both professionally and personally rewarding to me because my dream has come true,” Sonny says. “I have accomplished my goals of owning and building my own business. The bonus? I love what I do every day!”

strong work ethic, and looking to the future in order to make good business decisions that will promote future growth – these are issues that must be addressed to ensure success.

A businessman must also be prepared to meet the unexpected challenges that life brings. Like everyone else, Sonny was impacted by the pandemic. Today he continues to adjust to the changes in the economy and general business climate. For example, for years he ordered his Christmas trees from Oregon, the best in the business. Today, however, because of freight price increases, his Christmas trees are coming from North Carolina. “When the charge to ship the trees from Oregon rose from around $5,000 per season to over $12,000 per season, I had to make a change,” Sonny explains.

With his goal firmly in mind and a determination to build the finest business he possibly could, Sonny hasn’t drawn a regular paycheck from his business in 47 years. Any extra that he had was invested back into the business so that it could grow. It takes courage to start a business, grow that business, and make enough money to pay workers, bills, and bank notes! “I know my obligations so I don’t take many vacations,” Sonny says with a smile. “I have to make enough money to pay my people and my suppliers.”

Usually casually dressed in gently-worn jeans, a comfortable t-shirt, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap, it’s easy for new customers to mistake Sonny for one of the “hired help.” Truth is, he probably works harder than anyone else to keep his business successful. Sonny Panzico is many things, but a “simple man living a simple life” doesn’t begin to describe him! Bayou Life proudly salutes this remarkable businessman and looks forward to watching his continued success.


Holiday Open Houses

On Thursday, November 17th, several local businesses kicked off the shopping season with a holiday open house. The evening started at local Monroe businesses with shoppers enjoying shopping local and buying early for Christmas, with refreshments and spirits. The evening concluded with a stroll in Downtown West Monroe held by the Antique Alley Association. It was a lovely night filled with great shopping, food and beautiful friends.

On the BayouScene

1 Amanda Smith, Georgie Brown, and Sara Jones 2 Ashley Joiner and Magen Mckoin 3 Breanna Bass, Jessica Pollard and Maleigh Lindsey 4 Hannah Briggs and Gardunio 5 Chris and Sarah McElroy 6 Hester Jane Burnside and Belle Joiner 7 McKayla Daves, Sandy McMillan, Sydney Meek, Analise Kelly, Sofia Amador

8 Jessica Duncan, Lacey Kennon, and Courtney Watson

1 4 5 6
7 8 2 3
9 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 10 11
On the BayouScene
Jansen Harvey, Heather Rogers, Margaret Moses, and Maddi Maxwell
Jordan McWhorter and Joey Haddad
Mollie Epinette
Kacey Watson and Allee Clark
Lori Sherba and Lisa Miller
Maddie Taylor, Addie Bell Coody, and Anne Marie Walters
Madison Guerriero and Rene’ Cascio
Taylor Joplin and Laura Taylor Wright
Melissa Saye, Rhonda Neal, and Leigh Ann Goff
Piper Stovall, Samantha Crawford, and Chat Collins
Kerri Phillips and Courtney Riley

Our View on a Great Holiday

Waterview Casino & Hotel in Vicksburg, MS

AS THE END OF 2022 APPROACHES, it’s a great time to take a quick look in the rearview to see how far we’ve come!

At WaterView Casino and Hotel in historic Vicksburg, MS, there’s a lot to look back on. There is a lot to be thankful for even if things are a little different lately. As you prepare to celebrate the holiday season, we hope you have more joy than anything else to look back on for 2022.

At WaterView, 2022 began with some hotel rooms being prepared for their close-ups as we wrapped a complete remodel of our hotel. Once that was done, we opened the first new slot area in Mississippi that anyone can recall in years. We installed so many of the newest, hottest slots available that we had to move some to other locations in the casino because there were just too many to show off! We added three EV chargers to our parking lot, remodeled the lobby restrooms, and now we’re working on our restaurants. Be sure to visit us in the early days of 2023 to see the finished product (and

sample the new menus).

WaterView’s hotel recently became the newest member of the Trademark Collection by Wyndham. This designation is for Wyndham member hotels around the world that are designed for everyday travelers seeking distinctive, attainable accommodations in sought-after destinations. If you haven’t visited us yet, there’s no better time to see everything we’ve done to make WaterView your destination.

So many of us missed live musical performances during 2020, so for 2022, we brought live music back to WaterView! We kicked things off in September with the phenomenal Christone “Kingfish” Ingram whose instrumental guitar version of “Purple Rain” blew everyone away. Then, we welcomed the talented hilarity of Rita Brent in October. From songs and stories to dancing “Hoochie Daddies,” it was a rip-roarin’ good time. There’s more to come in 2023 so stay tuned! Our first show of 2023, scheduled for January, will warm

things up for sure.

As always, WaterView offers the best, newest slot games in Mississippi, a sportsbook where you can choose a human or electronic bet, your favorite table games, a safe and comfortable hotel, homestyle meals, and the best customer service in town. If you are planning a quick getaway, a relaxing stop on your travels, a well-deserved night out, a girls’ trip, or a few hands of blackjack, WaterView is closer than the coast and, as we’ve noted here, has lots to offer.

Has it been a while since you crossed the Mississippi River to visit our fair city? (If so, stop when you get here and take a few photos of the river’s historically low levels to show your grandkids, even if you don’t have any yet.) Then head inside and let us show you that when it’s chilly outside it is warm and welcoming at WaterView Casino and Hotel. For more information, please visit our website at


Do You Have Gallbladder Disease?

Dr. Bakeer Explains What to Watch For and When to Seek Help

THE GALLBLADDER, A SMALL, PEARpear-shaped organ, can cause big problems.

Approximately 3-4 inches in length, the gallbladder stores bile, a digestive fluid that helps the body absorb fat. When we consume fatty foods, our gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine, breaking apart the fat. A healthy gallbladder accomplishes this without challenges.

Gallbladder pain occurs when the gallbladder is blocked or stops functioning correctly. Gallbladder disease is commonly caused by gallstones, which block the bile’s flow through the bile ducts, creating inflammation and pain.

Some of the most typical gallbladder disease symptoms include nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, heartburn, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, and jaundice.

While pain is one of the most prevalent symptoms, you may experience some lesserknown signs. Some examples:

• Feeling feel full or lacking an appetite.

• Because bile is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, you may lack crucial nutrients; Vitamin D deficiency causes fatigue, and Vitamin K deficiency causes bruises.

• Dark urine, caused by a bile duct blockage.

• A change in bowel habits is a commonly overlooked symptom.

Typically, a patient experiences a consistent, sharp ache in the abdomen’s upper right area near the rib cage; it can travel to the upper back and behind the breastbone. The pain can also appear in the back, shoulder, or right side. The discomfort may last several minutes or a few hours. Some face frequent and severe pain, while others experience mild, temporary discomfort. And some may not suffer any pain

or symptoms for a while.

Risk factors include a high-cholesterol diet, obesity, and a family history of gallbladder disease. Females are at a higher risk.

Without medical intervention, gallbladder disease can be life-threatening. You may have a blockage that allows intestinal bacteria to enter the gallbladder and cause an infection that spreads. An accompanying fever could indicate your gallbladder is in danger of rupturing.

If you suspect gallbladder disease, remember the diagnosis is relatively easy; it involves imaging and a blood test. The Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana uses the most current technology in gallbladder surgery, such as minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic techniques.

In addition to Dr. Mohamed Bakeer, the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana houses surgeons Dr. Walter Sartor, Dr. Bart Liles, and Dr. Patrick Smith.



The Final Step in Detoxification: Where it all Begins


YOUR LIVER PLAYS A VERY LARGE, ESSENTIAL ROLE IN detoxification. It’s working overtime to continually process all substances from your digestive tract and the rest of your body throughout the day. One of the most important things you can do to encourage healthy detoxification by the liver is to lighten its work load.

Constant exposure to household cleaning chemicals, synthetic fragrances (including those holiday candles), skincare and beauty products that contain synthetic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, excess sugar, and highly processed foods, etc, all contribute to the liver’s heavy work load. Removing exposure to as many of these as possible is important. Trying to “detox” without working on removing toxin exposure is like trying to save a sinking boat by scooping water without plugging the leak. Opt for “cleaner” cleaning products, like vinegar and baking soda. Check the health of your body care and store bought cleaning products before purchasing, using apps like the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living, or Detox Me.

Removing harmful substances is a must, but going as far as also removing nutrients helpful for the detoxification process isn’t a good idea. This is why, personally, I’m not a fan of water or juice fasts for the purpose of cleansing. It’s a great way to eliminate the toxic burden on your liver that can come from unhealthy or highly processed foods, but it also robs your body of important nutrients needed for the detoxification process.


The liver’s detoxification process happens in two phases. In phase one, fat soluble toxins are broken down into raw materials that are more easily eliminated. However, these raw materials are even more toxic and damaging to the body than they were in their original form, so they need to be neutralized as quickly as possible to reduce their damaging effects. Antioxidants are very important for this. This is where a juice cleanse can have its benefits; because it does provide antioxidants needed to neutralize those damaging raw toxins. It doesn’t, however, provide everything needed for the detoxification process.

Important nutrients required for phase one of the detoxification process include vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12, folate (B9), glutathione and flavonoids. The B vitamins are found in red meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and dark leafy greens.

Glutathione is one of your body’s most potent and important antioxidants, but you can’t easily get it from your diet. Spinach, avocado, asparagus and okra are food sources of this antioxidant, but it’s poorly absorbed by the human body. Your body actually makes its own glutathione, but you do need to ensure you’re eating the nutrients required for creating it. These include sulfur rich foods, which are primarily from proteins such as beef, fish and poultry, as well as cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and mustard greens. Allium containing vegetables also contain sulfur, and these include onions, garlic, and shallots.


Other important nutrients needed for creating glutathione are selenium (found in beef, chicken fish, organ meats, cottage cheese, brown rice and Brazil nuts) and vitamin C (bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, papaya and kiwi), and the amino acid cysteine (pork, beef, chicken, lentils, oats, eggs and dairy).

Although the highly toxic materials have been neutralized by antioxidants in phase one, they aren’t completely harmless. They may be less toxic but they’re still damaging and need to be eliminated as quickly as possible, so they move on to phase two of the detoxification process.


In phase two, a new substance is made from the neutralized raw materials by attaching them to other molecules. This allows them to be transported out of the body in phase three. If the nutrients required for this process aren’t present, and the molecules that need to be attached to the toxins aren’t available, a back-up in the system can happen. Even though there’s a back-up in the second phase, the first phase doesn’t slow down. This is like having a clog in the plumbing while the water is still running. The nutrients required to keep phase two running smoothly must be provided by the diet, and they mainly consist of amino acids from protein rich foods. Ensuring that you’re eating adequate protein is a vital part of this process, which is why the water and juice fasts are not a good idea, in my opinion. Phase one may be humming right along, but a back up can happen when those toxins reach phase two without adequate protein consumption.

While protein is provided by certain plant foods and plant based meat substitutes, the human body isn’t good at assimilating it. We just aren’t efficient at digesting, breaking down, and absorbing plant protein. A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared the protein absorption from a plant-based chicken substitute with real chicken. Only 50% of the protein from the plant based substitute was absorbed, while 85% of protein from the chicken was absorbed.

Animal sources of protein are much more readily available to the human body, and the best sources come from animals raised in open, green pastures. All forms of meat, dairy and eggs are good sources of bioavailable protein. If you’re choosing to get your protein from plant sources, just keep in mind that you need to consume about double the amount of protein you’re trying to assimilate. For example, if your goal is to get 90 grams of protein daily, you’ll need to consume approximately 180 grams of plant protein to achieve that.

Keep in mind that “cleansing” or “detox” programs have the potential to do more harm than good. Often, they can encourage the release of toxic material from the cells but don’t adequately support the entire process of eliminating them. Instead of ridding your body of accumulated toxins, you’re simply releasing them into circulation where they’re able to do more damage.

A healthy body will take care of detoxifying itself, but there are things you can do to support it. First, avoid exposure to environmental and dietary toxins as much as possible. Next, make sure you’re supporting healthy elimination (refer back to the first three articles for this part). Lastly, support the detoxification process by nourishing your body with nutrient dense plant and animal foods that were grown and raised in sunny, healthy, conditions.


Get the Sleep You Deserve

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME of the year, and it’s also one of the most stressful seasons for many. At American Mattress Outlet, we realize that while Christmas is filled with holiday cheer and genuine joy, it is also a time where many are stretched thin with lists to be completed, presents to be be wrapped and holiday festivities. Getting a good night’s sleep should not be one of the things put on the back burner this holiday season.

American Mattress Outlet carries several lines of mattresses including: Signature by Southerland, Thermo Balance, Scandinavian Sleep, American Sleep, American Bedding, MD Mattress, and Wellsville. With a range of mattresses in all feels and sizes and several styles of adjustable bases, there is something for everyone at American Mattress Outlet. Stepping into the store offers customers a “whole sleep experience.” Not only will owner Robby Compton and his team fit you for the perfect mattress, they will help you make the

best choices to improve your sleep experience. Compton says, “We see people that have horrible sleep experiences and by guiding them to a better pillow, a mattress that fits their sleep positioning, we can improve someone’s life, and that is what makes me so passionate about this business. Our tag line is ‘We are American Mattress Outlet, where you don’t have to go into debt to get a great night’s sleep’ and I mean that. The difference is we can find the perfect mattress for your needs and budget without sacrificing quality for price.”

Whether your in-laws are coming in for the holidays, or you need to spruce up the deer camp, this holiday season is the perfect time to update worn-out mattress sets. Here’s what one of their customers said about their experience with American Mattress Outlet:

“The staff, and of course Robby himself, were so helpful. It also made the process very laid back due to them being such fun and lighthearted people. They knew we were looking for something for our camp and steered us

quickly in the right direction. The prices were on-point, and all of the guys were so easy to work with. We have recommended and will recommend them again to anyone that’s in the market for a new mattress.” ~ Elizabeth Rials

Looking to the future, they have plans to open a second location at 208 West Alabama in downtown Ruston. “We plan to open the store in January. It’s been a goal since 2020 and something we’ve prayed about, and now it’s happening.”

Don’t be a scrooge this holiday season, get the sleep you deserve. Visit American Mattress Outlet at 2200 North 7th Street, Suite A in West Monroe. Call them at 318.366.5565 or visit their website at You can also find them on Facebook.

American Mattress Outlet Offers Customers a “Whole Sleep Experience”

A Local Family Business

AUTOMATED ALARM IS A LOCAL veteran owned company that has been committed to serving Northeast Louisiana for nearly three decades. We specialize custom designed systems that focus on security and life safety systems for residential and commercial applications. Our staff has industry led training in system design and installation standards. We provide free consultation to aid you in assessing and mitigating your security and life safety vulnerabilities. We understand that every customer has specific requirements and are committed to align best practices, top-shelf equipment, and professional installation to bring you the most value.

Studies have shown that homes are 300% more likely to be burglarized without a security system. Most burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 pm, average time in the home ranges from 90 seconds to 12 minutes. Commonly sought-after items are firearms, prescriptions

drugs, electronics and jewelry. Past studies by the Justice Department revealed that burglary victims knew the burglar 30% of the time and the burglar was a stranger in 24% of the crimes. Most of the time (46%), the burglar’s identity was never established.

Camera systems are becoming more common at residential and commercial locations as affordability increases. They aid in deterrence, assist in monitoring activity at entry/exit points, blind spots, and avenues of approach on site. Camera systems have become invaluable to law enforcement in solving burglary cases that currently have a solve rate just over thirteen percent. Most burglars live within 2 miles of site. Video doorbells reduce burglaries up to 55% as a third of burglaries occur through the front door. Check with us to see how you can remotely view live and playback footage.

Automated Alarm Co maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Automated Alarm is in compliance with all known state regulations for employee licensing and insurance through the State Fire Marshall’s Office. We are proud members of the Northeast Louisiana Homebuilders Association and Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association.

Automated Alarm wants to remind you that security starts with a hard target mentality. Light up your location, lock your doors, remove objects that restrict visibility, and have a trusted agent check your mail and pick up your newspaper if you are out of town. If you have a security alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them. We look forward to the opportunity to serve as your security and life safety company.

Automated Alarm Co. 210 Kansas Lane, Monroe, LA 318-345-2378




Betty Crouch picked up pottery at 67-years-old. This hobby turned career has given Crouch purpose, something she was desperate for when she began devoting more of her time and energy to it over a decade ago.


’m a jack of all trades but a master of none,” Betty Crouch remarks. The “jack of all trades” part is the truth; the 84-year-old dabbles in multiple creative endeavors — painting, cooking, crocheting, and playing guitar, to name a few. But the success she has found in pottery contradicts the “master of none” portion of her comment. Crouch’s pieces, many of which depict things like crawfish, oysters, flowers, and leaves, are the Bastrop resident’s primary means of supporting herself. What’s more is that this hobby turned career gave Crouch purpose, something she was desperate for when she began devoting more of her time and energy to it over a decade ago.

“When I was 67 years old, I prayed,” she says. “I was crying. I was very sad because I had raised my two children and didn’t feel like I had any more purpose. I said [to the Lord], ‘You have opened and shut many doors in my life. I’m asking You please to open another door for me.’ I left it at that.”

Little did Crouch know, the door the good Lord would open led to a classroom at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Upon learning about the Special Non-Degree Academic Program


That’s why she and her pottery are so bright: to bring joy to others and promote positivity. “I love colorful things,” she explains. “That’s the inner me. Maybe I’m a ham or something. I love beautiful colors, and I love excitement. We’ve got to have fun.”

(SNAP), Crouch enrolled in a pottery class at the University, and what was initially intended to get her out of the house and around people soon blossomed into something more.

It turned out Crouch had a knack for pottery, and people thought her creations were worth buying. “I did fantastic,” she says, recalling her first time selling her work. “People thought it was different.”

Her art was so well-received that she was selected to represent the state of Louisiana at an event at Disney World’s EPCOT, and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce purchased one of her pieces to gift then-newly elected governor Bobby Jindal during one of his visits to Ouachita Parish.

“[Governor Jindal] used me as an example that you’re never too old to learn,” Crouch recalls.

And what an example of that principle she is. Crouch’s educational background looks different than that of many other professional artists. She doesn’t have an art degree to speak of, nor does she have high school art courses to look back on. She left school in the sixth grade, as was the norm in her hometown of Golden Meadow, Louisiana, at the time.

“Education wasn’t important,” she explains. “We were raised to get married, bear children, and make a home. That was it.”

So, that’s what she did. Crouch married at 18, had two children, and focused her

energy on maintaining the household while her husband worked to support their family. Still, Crouch was learning, especially about creating things. She wasn’t necessarily doing much “book learning,” she explains, but regardless, she was gaining knowledge.

“I tell young people, ‘Learn everything you can so when you grow older, you’ll be able to do something with your life instead of just sitting and watching TV,’” she says.

The evidence of all Crouch learned is all around her home, from the side table she constructed from sewing machine drawers sitting in her living room to the handmade shawls displayed in her bedroom. Crouch eventually earned a GED, but beyond the SNAP courses she takes at ULM, she has no formal art education. Like Clementine Hunter, a black folk artist from Natchitoches parish, she is mostly selftaught.

“[Clementine Hunter] had no clue of art, who [the popular artists] were or anything,” she explains. “It came from her heart, so she put it on canvas. I see things finished in my mind and put them in the clay. I don’t know how else to explain; it’s just there, and it comes naturally.”

It isn’t surprising that Crouch is naturally creative. Yes, she spent time teaching herself how to do the things she wanted to do, but creativity and the ability to make things seem to run in her family. Her father’s side of the family was very talented, she says, and her mother was gifted in the kitchen. The items made or upcycled by her family members placed about her home are also proof that creativity is a family affair.

Natural talent, an inherited skillset — whatever you want to call it, Crouch doesn’t take her artistic abilities, especially her talent for pottery, lightly. Not only did honing this craft give her a sense of purpose, but it also provided a means of taking care of herself financially after her husband passed away. At age 46, Crouch found herself widowed and thrust into the workforce for the first time. She started cleaning houses, and after more than a decade of doing so, pottery came along to offer a welcome respite from scrubbing baseboards and mopping floors.

“It helped me be able to survive,” she says. “People loved my work, they bought it, and it helped me.”

Now, Crouch’s one-of-a-kind pieces are in personal collections all over the world, in locations like New York, Germany, Ireland, England, and more. The work has given the artist a bit of notoriety, and she and her work have been featured in several publications.


“I didn’t think of it [as a way to make money],” she admits, remembering her early days of hand-building platters, cups, bowls, vases, and more from clay. “I was so happy that I could go and be with other people. I needed to have the comfort and friendship of other people and to feel like I belonged.”


Her positive reputation and financial security have certainly been perks of picking up pottery, but Crouch says the biggest blessing has been the connections art has brought her through the years.

“I didn’t think of it [as a way to make money],” she admits, remembering her early days of hand-building platters, cups, bowls, vases, and more from clay. “I was so happy that I could go and be with other people. I needed to have the comfort and friendship of other people and to feel like I belonged.”

Crouch says no matter how hard she tries, she can’t fully express how grateful she is for the community of which she is now a part. “The friendships and the people that I have met in my life, they’ll never realize what they meant to me and [how much] I appreciate their friendship and their love of my pottery,” she says.

On the surface, it may seem that, after nearly two decades of being a potter, the steps in Crouch’s art journey seem to have fallen into place seamlessly. However, she assures BayouLife that isn’t the case. The good — the sense of purpose, the community, and the income — haven’t come without the bad. But not even the worst of it, like breaking a shoulder or becoming so ill she wasn’t sure she’d survive, made Crouch want to give up. After all, she declares, “If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. You don’t quit.”

Crouch credits God for every ounce of her perseverance. Without Him, she wouldn’t be who she is or make the work she does, she says, adding, “I believe [God] inspires us. He’s always there to give us a helping hand.” She even thinks God is the reason pottery is her favorite creative outlet, explaining, “Feeling of the clay and molding it is [how] God created us. He molded us in the clay.”

Besides, she goes on, quitting means focusing on the negatives, and that’s something Crouch tries her hardest not to do.

“I like to see people laugh,” she says. “I like to see people not sad; we have enough sadness.”

That’s why she and her pottery are so bright: to bring joy to others and promote positivity.

“I love colorful things,” she explains. “That’s the inner me. Maybe I’m a ham or something. I love beautiful colors, and I love excitement. We’ve got to have fun.”


Holidays with the MSO

Annual Celebration of the Season

ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10TH, 2022, THE Monroe Symphony Orchestra (MSO) presents the “Holidays with the MSO” annual celebration of the season concert. As part of the Monroe Symphony 2022-23 season, this performance showcases the full symphony orchestra with all the beauty, power, and inspiration it brings to our community. The concert begins at 7:00pm, hosted by North Monroe Baptist Church in their Main Worship Center that is always so beautifully decorated for the season. Their address is 210 Finks Hideaway Road, Monroe.

Maestro Joshua Zona is no stranger to the Monroe Symphony and returns to lead the orchestra through a fun and uplifting program sure to put you in the Holiday spirit! On the program are works that include “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “O Holy Night”, and the classic “Sleigh Ride”, which are only a few of the holiday favorites that everyone will enjoy.

This performance is perfect for lovers of instrumental and vocal music alike and features soloists Kristen Anderson Oden, soprano, and Blake Oden, baritone. Well known for their musical gifts, Kristen is recently retired from the music faculty at West Monroe High School after decades of teaching, adjudication activities, and performances with many regional orchestras and opera companies. A Monroe native, she earned a Bachelors of Music Education degree from ULM in addition to a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance. Blake graduated from ULM with a degree in Nursing and has performed lead roles in many musicals including the Phantom in ULM’s production of Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, and “Frederick” in the Pirates of Penzance. Additionally, he has performed in many prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall (NYC), St. Mark’s Basilica (Venice), and St. Peter’s Basilica (Rome), and has been a featured soloist for the Miss Louisiana Pageant. His most recent appearance was as soloist in the Monroe Symphony’s Broadway Pops concert this past May. We are certain that this mother/son duo will be sure to delight!

Don’t miss this performance! Grab your family and friends to join you and your favorite hometown orchestra for this wonderful holiday celebration filled with music guaranteed to make your holidays bright!

Tickets are available for purchase ahead of time by going online to Eventbrite, or at the Monroe Symphony website: www. Tickets are $25 for adult general admission and $5 for students with a current student I.D. For more information, contact the Monroe Symphony by email at or by calling 318-812-6761.


Dupont Jewelers



on Forsythe has been open for ten years. My father started our jewelry business in 1952. I grew up working in the jewelry store as a thirteen-year-old, then when I was sixteen, I went to my first jewelry school, Holland School for Jewelers in Selma, Alabama. Later after high school, I attended Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas, where I studied jewelry design and gemology. The thing I enjoyed the most at school was hand-fabricating jewelry from a flat metal plate. This technique, which I am known for in my jewelry designs, ensures the finest quality jewelry possible because the metal has structure. The metal is dense and hard, making it much less likely to tear when worked. Jewelry you will find in a jewelry store is mass-produced by a process called lost wax casting, but this process produces a product where the metal has no structure and is much softer.

An example is when a ring bends easily

on the bottom. Fabricated metal doesn’t bend, dent, scratch, or wear out like commercial jewelry. It also takes a higher polish than cast jewelry because it is so much harder. Handfabricated jewelry will last for generations, whereas a cast piece typically lasts twenty to thirty years. I have exclusively been constructing handmade jewelry for the last ten years, customizing jewelry to my customer’s tastes. I enjoy nothing more than creating a unique one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry made without a model or mold tailored to the specification of my customer. Over the last ten years, I have designed hundreds of engagement rings, wedding bands, and jewelry commemorating special occasions like the birth of a child or an anniversary. If you come in soon, we may have time to make that special handmade one-of-a-kind gift of a lifetime before Christmas.

This Christmas, we will celebrate seventy years since my dad, Edwin Dupont, opened our

jewelry store in Rayville with an Anniversary Sale. Our inventory has never been more extensive or unique. Customers can save up to 50% on select purchases from our stock, and everything is discounted by at least 20%. So now is the time to take advantage of our 70th Year Anniversary Sale while the selection is the best. We have tennis bracelets, stud earrings up to two carats, beautifully designed pendants, and rings. Layaway available!

From a customer: Molly says, “The most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen! Thanks, Mr. Dupont, for your exceptional talent and creativity for my 24th Wedding Anniversary! I’m still in tears and shock over the magnificent brilliance and clarity of every stone! 8 carats of eye-popping diamonds! God is good!” facebook/dupontjewelers

Celebrating Our 70th Year Anniversary Sale

Bayou Buzzworthy

After 7 years of waiting, Braylon (featured in “People Who Inspire” November 2022) and his family finally got to meet his BNT donor, Felix. Felix and his wife flew in all the way from Germany to meet this beautiful family that he got to help. Family and friends met at 2 Dudes Brew and Que in Monroe on Saturday, October 8th for a memorable meet and greet that they will never forget.

Destination Downtown is coming to the Twin Cities in 2023! Monroe Main Street Director Nirali Patel and Adrienne LaFrance-Wells worked to bring this tri-state Main Street conference to downtown Monroe and West Monroe. This conference will allow the Twin Cities to share their story of ongoing revitalization with hundreds of visiting community leaders from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

After receiving the most nominations for the 56th annual award show – with six – Lainey Wilson was crowned Female Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year.  She got to share these memorable moments with her father. This girl sure is making North Louisiana proud.


The Family that Plays Together

Stays Together

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, because it’s still 50 degrees and un-delightful, I wish we had a place to go, where it would snow, and snow, please Mother Nature let it snow!” That’s it. That’s all I got. We have in fact, had a temperature “dip” and are enjoying some cooler temperatures, but gosh, I wish we would have a white Christmas. Just once in my life. But who are we kidding? By the time Christmas actually gets here (magazine production is a month ahead so it’s still November for this writer), we will likely be shopping for bikinis (an item of clothing that hasn’t been in my closet in, like, well, never) and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil.

With the promise of rain on this middle of November day, however, I am optimistic that the pending rainstorm will bring some cooler weather, because let’s face it, cooler weather does spark the Christmas spirit, right? Instead of singing “Let it Snow,” I should be more like Cindy Lou-Who and sing “Where are you Christmas?” and maybe that would help. But, like the many other holidays I have written about, I look forward to this time of year in my columns because I get to advocate for families spending time together.

You know the saying “the family that plays together, stays together.” I am a huge proponent of this parenting philosophy, because, well, my family has always played together, we are a family that has stayed together. I have to admit, I overshot myself last month when I said I was going to go to the trenches and interview some of our Bayou kids about what they wanted for Christmas. Well, yeah, so, you know how my son’s getting married next weekend and I’m very busy at work and well, I ran out of time. That very point, “running out of time,” really got me to thinking about the whole Christmas season and how valuable our “time” actually is.

I have written in columns past about the importance of “allocating”

time (that sounds like we are meeting with our CPA to divide our assets) that you spend with your family, quality time that is. It’s no secret that families today operate their homes and their lives at breakneck speed. From work, to school, to extra-curricular activities, we spend our lives racing from one obligation to the next, present company guilty as charged. So often, and I don’t know about you, but I just get tired of the race, which is where I find myself on this Saturday morning, and on the cusp of the holiday season.

Sometimes, I just want to stop the mania and pull my family in close, and soak up that time together (I honestly think I’m on the verge of writing another Hallmark card.) Perhaps it’s because my son is about to get married (have I mentioned that, did y’all know he was getting married?) and that’s why I’m feeling more overly nostalgic this Christmas, because I know my family dynamic is about to change, in a way that will never be the same. And even though that creates an ache in my chest and a lump in my throat that feels like I have swallowed a Buick, it will never be the same, but in a good way… because I’m getting a lovely, wonderful daughter-inlaw. With that new dynamic, I want to savor every moment, every day and do some things together this holiday season, as a new #foustfamilyof6.

The trick, as in most families, is that allocation of time I referred to already. As most families know, making the time is the absolute hardest part of this initiative (I swear I sound like I work at the White House and I’m promoting a tax credit.) But, as I said, there are fewer things more important than putting your family first.

So where do we start? I can tell you where I’m starting this season. First, we are having a movie night, and not the kind at home, that is too easy. I’m putting the five of us in the car and head to Tinseltown. I’ve


noticed a few Christmas movies that will be out this season, so our family will be like the Griswalds (minus ugly Christmas sweater and white SAS loafers) and hit the theater together.

Next, and dare I mention, Christmas card night? Does anyone else out there ever feel like the single hardest accomplishment during the holidays is getting your Christmas cards made and then mailed? Sometimes I think it would be easier to qualify for the Olympics! So this year, I am starting a little earlier, making it a little easier on myself and we are going to sit down one night with a bowl of chili, around the breakfast table (I feel another Hallmark card coming) and we are all going to sign our cards. I’m thinking it will be really easy for the picture, we can just use one of the beautiful wedding ones we will have. Did I mention we were having a wedding in our family? That way, everyone is involved and they can even help me get them addressed.

On to our next Walton’s Mountain moment, we are baking cookies. Last year we did gingerbread houses and it was a lot of fun, but this year, we are going all out and dusting the flour off our aprons and breaking out the cookie cutters. When my son was a little boy, he and I used to make gingerbread cookies and hang them on the tree. I will be happy to remind him that these were some of the best of

times, with a good Christmas movie playing and his family all gathered around the island decorating cookies.

Our next family outing will include visiting the “Holiday Light” display in downtown Monroe and West Monroe. My good friend, Alana Cooper, and her team, do a brilliant job of organizing the Christmas on the River and it truly makes you think you’ve gone back in time. There’s something for everyone from the parades, the lights, the fireworks, and the live entertainment, and it’s right here in our backyard.

And finally, and this one is easy, we are all decorating the Christmas tree. In years past, we did this as a family, but as time marched on, and everyone got so busy (and older and perhaps outgrow the tradition a little), I ended up being the one who decorated it. Well folks, the tradition is about to be back at our house, and again, this is such an easy night to plan for your family. We might even make a few homemade ornaments, but what fun, especially when you have younger children, to make family ornaments that you will cherish for the rest of your tree decorating lives. Some of my favorites are the homemade ones my kids made when they were in grade school, and their little toothless faces are on plastered on a Christmas

tree ornament. Makes me smile just typing this.

So, there you have the Foust Family Christmas 2022… as we gear up to let our first chicken leave the nest, like many of you have already had to do. And if you are those grandparents, like my children’s grandparents, who have already had your children leave home to start their own families, some of these traditions can even be started and enjoyed with your grandchildren. The simple truth is that these precious days pass so fast. Savor them, readers. Stop and make time to “play together.” It’s a little work. It takes a little time to organize activities. It especially takes effort to carve out the time to do it, but you won’t ever look back and regret the memories you made (It’s official, I’m applying to Hallmark to write their cards for them.)

And thank you readers, for allowing us in your homes this season, and all the seasons of the year. It is a privilege to write for you, to encourage you and to parent with you. May your holiday season be filled with love, thanksgiving, family and friends. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.


Blush by Elle Boutique

Merry Christmas

GRAB YOUR GIRLS AND head to north Monroe’s trendiest boutique, located at 214 NorthPark Dr. just half a mile from OCS. Here you’ll find women’s clothing, jewelry, gifts, and Swan Creek Candles. Some of our favorite pieces come from Judy Blue Jeans, Mia Shoes, and Taylor Shaye Designs. There are plenty of finds here, not only in clothing but so much more.

Owned by Ellie Dyess, Blush by Elle came to life in December 2018 as an online only boutique. You might have also seen us at numerous pop ups locally. Over the past several years, this dream has become a reality which led to opening the doors to our storefront in September 2021. Since then, I have focused on adding so many fun finds to our collections and I can’t wait to share them with you.

When entering Blush by Elle you will be greeted with the sweet smell of one of our

holiday candle collections. Friendly staff will be ready to help you find the perfect outfit or gift and make your shopping experience enjoyable. Our quaint little storefront will be filled with our newest arrivals & personal shopping assistance. When you leave, you will already be thinking about your next trip back!

As Blush by Elle came to life one thing, that was very important to us, was to support small, local, and women owned businesses. I am proud to say that over half of our vendors check these boxes and we are continually adding to this list.

As Christmas nears, we are extending our hours for the month of December. We want to make shopping hours convenient for all customers. Come shop with us Tuesday –Friday 12-6 pm and Saturday 11-4. You will find gift ideas and stocking stuffers for men, women, teens, and kids! And yes, we gift wrap! Need a last minute gift? We will be

open Christmas Eve, stop in and say hi. We can make your night merry and bright!

We also have a mobile app. Just search Blush by Elle in your App Store, find our newest arrivals posted weekly. You can also find us on all the social media platforms. Open the app and leave a comment; We love to hear from our customers!

Save the date for our end of the year blowout starting Monday, December 26December 30th. You don’t want to miss this sale! Happy Holidays from Blush by Elle. We hope everyone has a Happy New Year!


Maintain Mental Health

Three Ways to Manage Stress During the Holidays


Here are three insights to manage your stress and curb your feelings of depression around the holidays.

Have you ever heard that, because they feel depressed around the holidays, more people die by suicide than at any other time of the year? Not true, explains Raymond Tucker, PhD. This is a myth he often encounters while counseling patients and students as an assistant professor at LSU.

First, the suicide rate tends to go down this time of year — it is highest in spring and summer. And second, depression is not an accurate predictor of who kills themselves, Tucker says. There are 16 million episodes of major depression every year in the United States, while 50,000 die by suicide. However, examining those misconceptions reveals useful insights that can help curb feelings of stress and depression during the holidays.

INSIGHT NO. 1: To feel better, focus not on

what you must do, but on what you probably stopped doing in response to stress.

Many people have reported gaining weight during the pandemic. They also report feeling more stress and greater isolation from friends and family. But blaming stress-eating for weight gain or quarantine restrictions for feelings of isolation are overly simplistic. In fact, in many cases people gain weight because their meal routine is disrupted or they stop doing physical activities they enjoy. People feeling isolated may have simply abandoned vital social contact as soon as they started to feel stressed out.

The remedy? Recognize the value of healthy daily routines — consistent meal times, regular exercise, regular sleep schedule, fulfilling social connections. They are the very things that curb those feelings of depression.

INSIGHT NO. 2: You don’t have to wait for motivation to take action.

“It’s a myth that motivation comes before action,” Tucker says. “Motivation sometimes

doesn’t come until after a behavior.” People cite the absence of a motivational spark as a reason not to eat better, exercise or keep in contact with loved ones. “If you feel unmotivated, give yourself a break,” Tucker says. “Recognize you feel off, and that by getting up and doing the activity you will feel better and be more motivated in the future.”

INSIGHT NO. 3: This holiday season, embrace change rather than scrapping favorite activities. Although Christmas may look different, don’t cancel it, Tucker says. Identify the things you enjoy about Christmas, and start discussing plans now so you can figure out how to celebrate them while making any necessary accommodations. “Try to live in line with your values and the things you hold important,” Tucker says.

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: If you or anyone you love maybe struggling with thoughts of suicide, or if you want to know more about how to help somebody, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or text 741741.

Primary care providers are trained to assist patients with depression, stress and other mental health conditions, including making referrals to specialists or connecting patients with helpful resources. Visit


ULM Honors Program

Presents at Annual National Meeting

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUSIANA MONROE HONORS Program attended the annual meeting of the National Society for Minorities in Honors on October 13-15, in Wilder, KY. The theme of the conference was “Breaking Down Boundaries: Disrupting Honors and the Future of Honors Education.”

Dr. Joshua Stockley, Director of the ULM Honors Program, was accompanied by two students –Caitlyn Cullen, a junior political science major and president of the Honors Council, and Hannah Habisreitinger, a freshman biology major and freshman representative of the Honors Council.

Dr. Stockley and Caitlyn Cullen co-presented, “Breaking International Boundaries in Honors Education.” They shared with participants the steps taken by the ULM Honors Program to increase international student participation from 10% to 40% of the program.

“The ULM Honors Program values the ability to include every student from every major, every organization, every place, and every walk of life because the program is dedicated to inclusion and enriched by an exposure to diversity,” said Dr. Stockley. “We still have challenges. We still have boundaries to break, but participating in NSFMIH is an opportunity to see that our challenges are others’ challenges and to learn how other honors programs are overcoming these challenges,” he added.

“Attending NSFMIH was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to reflect on the ideas of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Hearing from presenters of diverse backgrounds on how to better represent diverse communities will help me to move forward in being a better leader, global citizen, and person,” said Caitlyn Cullen. “I learned different avenues for more inclusive outreach efforts as well as ways to create safe spaces for underrepresented groups. Additionally, I was able to hear how other student leaders overcame diversity issues within their own programs, preparing me to foresee and prevent similar issues that may arise within our own.”

Hannah Habisreitinger said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the NSFMIH conference. This gave us the chance to hear firsthand experiences from people of different backgrounds, to receive input from other schools about how they overcame issues related to diversity and inclusion, and to brainstorm solutions. Overall, this was a great experience for me. Thanks to this conference, I feel prepared to implement the tactics to promote change and diversity within the ULM Honors Program and our campus as a whole.”

Attending the conference were honors students and administrators from colleges and universities across the United States.

The National Society for Minorities in Honors (NSFMIH) was founded in 2015 to bring together and advance discussions and action in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education. The organization holds an annual conference, hosted by institutions around the USA, and promotes the wide dissemination of ideas and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education - through its annual conference, through national and international seminars and electronic events, and through publications.

For more information about the Honors Program, contact Dr. Joshua Stockley at or 318-342-3216 or visit ulm. edu/honors.


Give the Gift of Confidence

DermaMediQ Offers a Variety of Services

THE TEAM AT DERMAMEDIQ CAN HELP you regain some confidence and put your best self forward in 2023. DermaMediQ offers the best in skin care, hair removal, and more, focusing on quality one-on-one care and techniques with demonstrated success. They provide a variety of different services at the same level of considerate care consistintly demonstrated by Dr. Sowma and her staff.

One process that is popular with women of all ages is Morpheus 8, which improves tone and texture of the face and body by combining micro needling with the power of RIF thermal technology. Morpheus 8 combines the two technologies of microneedling and RF to deliver the thermal energy of radio-frequency waves to deeper layers of the skin and tissue with adjustable microneedles. This combination allows RF energy to reach both the dermis and epidermis for maximum results. It treats acne scars, poor skin texture, sun damage, deep lines and creases, mild sagging or jowls and enlarged pores. Morpheus 8 works well with arms, abdomen and legs as well. The skilled staff at DermaMediQ can assess your needs and let you know if Morpheus is right for you.

DermaMediQ also offers Emsculpt. This is the first device to build muscle and sculpt your body. Through the high intensity electromagnetic therapy procedure one can enlarge current muscles, as well as grow new muscle fibers. The Emsculpt procedure is currently FDA cleared to treat abdominals, buttocks, arms, calves and thighs and is a great non-surgical alternative to the brazilian butt lift. It is based on high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy and a single Emsculpt session causes thousands of powerful muscle contractions which are extremely important in improving the tone and strength of your muscles. These powerful induced muscle contractions not achievable through voluntary contractions. The muscle tissue is forced to adapt to such extreme condition. It responds with a deep remodeling of its inner structure that results in muscle building and sculpting your body.

A new procedure that has been added is called Evoke. Evoke is a revolutionary, hands-free facial remodeling platform. This proprietary non-invasive technology is an industry first, delivering hands-free thermal facial and submental remodeling. The remodeling of these areas produces results that are associated with a youthful appearance.

This holiday season, you can give the gift of confidence to others with a gift certificate to DermaMediQ. Or you can treat yourself with one of the many services they have to offer including skincare, Botox, Fillers, Morpheus 8, Fractora, Hair Removal, Microneedling and more! Check out DermaMediQ’s website to find out more information on all of the procedures they have to offer and make an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Sowma and her staff. Put your best self in the new year with DermaMediQ!


55 Indian Mound Road

Make This Your Home for the Holidays

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME FOR THE holidays, reach out to the broker of Cypress State Realty, Anna Earl Romero. She is a native of the local area and can help you discover the hidden gems that are waiting for you.

This beautiful, country accented home is located in Start, LA. This Acadian beauty features 4 spacious bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and boasts a state-of-the-art kitchen overlooking the living area. This home includes a study/den with area for additional seating and access to a back patio. The master suite is located in the rear of the home, which is ideal for solitude and relaxation. There is a sunroom located off of the master overlooking the pool area, which could easily make a wonderful office, nursery or home gym! The large master closet is located just above the bedroom, which gives excellent use of extra space. The master bathroom features a large garden tub, with a vanity area, custom walk-in shower and large cabinets offering extra storage. The roof, insulated windows and water heaters have all been installed within the last 2 years. This home also comes with a 2-year old Generac generator that automatically kicks on once power is lost. No more being in the dark!

There is something for everyone inside, but this exterior is the real showstopper! This home overlooks a gorgeous custom pool, with a waterfall and a splash area for the little ones! There is plenty of room around the pool for lounge chairs, but also a covered area for cozy nights watching the game near the gas fireplace. For even more entertaining options, the carport adjoins the pool area, and easily converts into more lovely outdoor living space!

The carport also has a storage room tucked away with easy access to approximately 1000-square foot of attic space. The rear of the property features a remarkable 40 x 60 insulated shop with a separate driveway entrance and 3 bays to bring in any type of equipment you need. The shop also features a 12 x 85 overhang for parking or outdoor projects. Also located in this building is an awesome office with full bathroom and loft. It’s basically the perfect mancave!

The property also offers a lovely guest house featuring a living area, kitchen, a spacious bedroom and closet. It also includes a full bathroom. This house is perfect for getting away from the crowd or entertaining a crowd. Not only will the grown-ups have a great time, the kids will have plenty of space to run around and be entertained. This property will be able to meet any of your needs - call today to schedule your tour. Make this your home for the holidays!


Greetings of Gratitude

Unique Furniture, Art, Lighting and Gifts


Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or Diwali, it’s during those times of merriment and remembrance that we reflect on the year that has passed and the coming year ahead. We are reminded of those we lost since the latest holiday season, and we feel the impact without their presence. We wish they were still with us but find ways to keep their memories alive. Just as some have left us, the gift of new life appears in our families and friendships. While those new lives will not replace the ones we lost, they do bring amazing joy and light to our lives.

I have a lot of new angels watching over me this year. My parents, Ron and Jan Downing, my grandmother, Jean Downing, as well as my dear friends; Deanie Baker, Dianne Cage, George Snellings, Pat Stewart, Frances Giovingo, Mike Swallow, Amanda Coburn, Sue Breard, Ken Breard, Jorenda Stone, Sam Henry III, Joan Payne, Lynn Cohen, Alice

Bennett, and Dr. Mabel John. I am told that when you love big; you lose big.

Gifts of love come in all shapes and sizes. We offer these tokens of appreciation to those in our life as a symbol of their importance to our lives. They bring us as much joy as the receiver. The sheer joy from their smiles and the twinkle in their eyes makes our hearts happy.

I’d love to thank my support staff of Jaxon Downing, Terrie Chisholm, Joy Felder, Christina Downing, Leesa Patterson, Sarah Downing, Julie Byrd, Jeffrey Knight, and Bryce Leonard for keeping Revival going and me on my toes this past year.

We are very thankful for our amazing group of Neville Seniors, Paxton Ponce, Garrett Cameron, John Stewart Ewing, Keith Johnson, Ryan Walker, Christopher Pettis, and Chandler Pettis for making time in their schedules to bring extra customer satisfaction to our clientele with our pickups

and deliveries. Your parents have done an amazing job raising you. I know you all have bright futures ahead of you and always have a place with our Revival Family.

As we count down the days to holidays, we are making our lists and checking them twice to ensure we find our friends and loved ones something nice.

At Revival, we have a great selection of gifts for that perfect someone in your life. We have an array of candles, barware, ornaments for small tokens as well as my newly released Delta Roots “Santa Claws” collection is the perfect happy for that pre-holiday gift.

We also have a wonderful collection of original art by Courtney Wetzel, Monti Sharp, Malva Rutledge, Hank Holland, and me, Clinton Whitney Downing.

Pop in and see us for that holiday cheer and perfect gift for someone or even yourself. Revival is located at 300 Walnut in historic Monroe. Our December hours are MondaySaturday 10 am – 5pm and Sunday 1pm- 4pm. 318-381-8191. We wish you the most wonderful holiday season yet and a prosperous and fulfilled New Year in 2023.


Sweet Loves Bakery


NESTLED BETWEEN THE DIVERSE, antique shops lining the Cotton Port

Historic District of Downtown West Monroe stands a delectable scratch bakery and coffee bar. Not only is it ready to fill your holiday season with holly jolly sweets, but it may just transport you to fond childhood memories. From golden-crusted pies, layered cakes, and warm, gooey cookies, ‘tis the season to treat oneself and those we love at Sweet Loves Bakery.

“This kind of started as a child,” says Molli Crain Eppinette, who knew she wanted to own a bakery at an early age. She imagined working alongside

her mother and grandmother in a space buzzing with satisfied customers. That vision was most likely fostered when spending time with her grandparents during the summer. “We would make tea cookies every week and she would have this huge cookie jar.” Admittedly, the most enticing part of the process was sneaking into the refrigerator for the cookie dough which had to be set overnight. Of course, there was also something magical about seeing delicious bakes come to life from scratch.

Around the time that the Monroe Downtown Rivermarket first launched, Molli was working for the Housing

Authority and attending college. Even then, she was still baking. Her boss, noting her passion, mentioned that the boardwalk event could help launch her business. Alongside her mother, they had a banner made and stayed up all night making six hundred cupcakes. “We were so delirious the next day,” she laughs. When they sold everything they had, she knew her childhood dream was in the process of fruition. “It was unbelievable.” Though she only participated for a few weekends, she swiftly built her brand.

The push she needed to open up a storefront came from her husband, Corey. One night, she mentioned her desire to have somewhere in town that made the kind of sweets she grew up enjoying. “My big thing was Christmas candy,” she says, explaining that between her mother and father’s family, she was accustomed to pralines, divinity, and fudge. As she mused enthusiastically, her husband interjected his support: “Okay, well, it’s now or never.” While compelled, this sudden nudge was surprising since they recently had their second child. But she agreed. Though the planning period was daunting, she knew she wanted to find a space in downtown West Monroe, one of the area’s epicenters of charm, history, and exclusive rarities.

After a year of construction, Sweet Loves Bakery opened its door in 2021. “When we opened, it was the week before Thanksgiving. So there was no room for trial and error,” she says, adding, “When we opened the doors, it was like diving headfirst into the swimming pool and hoping that you swim.” Though the first months were hectic, Molli happily admits that meeting the challenges of owning a bakery is everything she worked for and hoped to build upon—“This is why I’m doing what I do.”

It’s hard to miss the pop of baby blue marking the exterior of Molli’s bakery. Over a black awning lined with string lights, a white stencil logo features a latte cup and icing on top to symbolize cake. “Sweet Loves” is painted in black, cursive font with a rolling pin icon at its base. The overall design is inviting and promises a cozy, whimsical atmosphere. “I have an obsession with Hallmark Christmas movies. They are my absolute favorite,” beams Molli, whose interior aims to recreate the warm, fuzzy feels of the light-hearted, family-friendly

Nestled between the diverse, antique shops lining the Cotton Port Historic District of Downtown West Monroe stands a delectable scratch bakery and coffee bar.

seasonal films. “I want people to love the food, but I want them to also come back for the atmosphere that they feel when they come because that means a lot to me,” she says. The interior accents successfully create an ambiance fit for comfort and connecting to family and friends over delectable sweet loves— vintage kitchenware on display on shelves and over the display window, wool felt ball garlands, a dreamy wood beam light fixture, and a motley of vintage armchairs.

Filling the baby blue display counter is an array of treats ranging from seasonal favorites to the unexpected. Molli’s tea cake cookies are one of her most popular bakes which many customers consider a taste of home. “Younger people don’t really know what they are,” she says, informing that these lightly sweetened, fluffy Southern staples may be straight from grandma’s kitchen, but the spiced butter flavor is sure to please any dessert aficionado. She is always thrilled to hear that her tea cakes bring back memories of a beloved grandmother. “That makes it worth the long hours and days that you spend because you brought back memories to somebody else,” she enthuses. Another everyday bake is chocolate chip cookies. “They sell out every day!” While most stick to traditional comforts, Molli encourages customers to lean into her more complex bakes, like her Cherry Bombs cookies—bits of cherries, white chocolate, and coconut. “It’s so good!”

As a Christmas enthusiast, Molli enjoys filling her shop with the kind of candy prevalent during her childhood. Divinity is often at the top of her list. This confection is made from egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar, and closely resembles a meringue. Pair these sweets with any of her fudges like chocolate with nuts or white peppermint. Though an obscure treat, Martha Washington Balls are a classic Christmas must-have. Made with coconut, pecans, sweetened condensed milk, and covered in milk chocolate, these yummy bite-sized treats are meant for gifting (just like any of her candies).

Of all her delectable sweets, Molli’s favorites are the Coconut Pie Babies. This adorable twist delivers everything we love about pie in bite-sized portions. Currently, she offers ten pie flavors whole, by the slice, or bite-sized, including chocolate, pumpkin, lemon, pecan, and cherry. For those seeking complete indulgence, her dessert bars and cakes are just as scrumptious. You can order dessert bars like lemon squares, Carmelitas, Hello Dollies, and brownies by the pan or slice. Cakes can be bought whole or by the slice, and include fan favorites like red velvet, chocolate, pound cake, and more intricate flavors like coconut, carrot, and the hummingbird cake which is a banana-pineapple spice cake with origins in Jamaica.


Below: For those seeking complete indulgence, her dessert bars and cakes are just as scrumptious. You can order dessert bars like lemon squares, Carmelitas, Hello Dollies, and brownies by the pan or slice. Cakes can be bought whole or by the slice, and include fan favorites like red velvet, chocolate, pound cake, and more intricate flavors like coconut, carrot, and the hummingbird cake which is a banana-pineapple spice cake with origins in Jamaica.


ABOVE: Though an obscure treat, Martha Washington Balls are a classic Christmas must-have. Made with coconut, pecans, sweetened condensed milk, and covered in milk chocolate, these yummy bite-sized treats are meant for gifting (just like any of her candies).

Regardless of your sweet tooth leanings, make sure to wash down the richness of Molli’s bakes from any drink listed on her coffee menu. Expect familiar options like French press, pour-overs, lattes, cold brews, frappes, and cappuccinos. On her “Fall Coffee Specials” menu are six enticing choices including Autumn Night (white chocolate, hazelnut, and vanilla), Candied Marshmallow (toffee and marshmallow), and Pumpkin Praline (pumpkin spice, caramel, and butter pecan.)

Molli prides herself in curating a space aimed to make customers feel welcome and catered to. It is in this that her staff comes through. She takes care of them and they take care of her, but ultimately they have fun together. “Which is a big thing,” she says, referring to the importance of keeping an easygoing ambiance in a business that can get quite busy, especially during the holidays. “I’ve told them, you know, there’s nothing that prepares you for the holiday season,” she says. Even with the anticipated rush, expect the ladies of Sweet Loves to be donning Christmas sweaters and greeting customers with a smile and kind words.

Just one visit to this inviting space affirms that sweet dreams are made of everything available at Sweet Loves Bakery, especially because it comes from a place of passion and perseverance. “Obviously, the first year is always the hardest,” admits Molli. Regardless, her spirit of pushing through difficult times was kindled by a vision to provide her community with edible moments of joy, “something that brings everybody back to the table.”


Happy Pawlidays from Sit, Stay, Play

Pamper Your Pets This Holiday Season

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, LET YOUR furry friends have a vacation, too. From boarding options that let your pet enjoy their days without you in luxury, to our grooming menu that offers spa retreats for your furry friends, we have multiple services to keep you best animal friends happy. Have to work late to make holiday deadlines, or just need a day to get your home ready for guests, drop off your pets for a fun day at doggy day care.

BOARDING Taking a holiday vacation? Don’t leave your pets out, give them a vacation at Sit, Stay and Play! They will enjoy plush amenities and fun in the yard during daycare. Don’t worry, we have condo life available for our cats, too. Felines will enjoy their time staying in our condos where they can play all day and perch up in our windows. They will have the opportunity to have fun and run around in our cat centered room. In addition, they will receive their daily afternoon tuna treat.

Canines have numerous options for accommodations at Sit, Stay and Play. Check out our various style of accommodations. All include plush bedding, with daily turn-down service and a happy treat hour during the day. Furry friends will enjoy sumptuous dining during their stay with us. Your pets will love the one of kind service they receive at Sit, Stay and Play.

GROOMING Pamper Your Pet! Sit, Stay & Play offers full-service grooming by appointment only. Grooming can take extended time and pets are welcome to play in our daycare until their grooming appointment if requested by the owner.

The Tune Up (Clean-Up Groom)

• Soothing Bath

• Relaxing Massage

• Trim-Bottom, feet and Face

• Mani and Pedi (No Paint)

• Anal Glands Expressed

• Bow/Bandana

• Refreshing Spritz

The Overhaul (Full Groom)

• Full Cut

• Soothing Bath

• Relaxing Massage

• Mani and Pedi (No Paint)

• Ears Cleaned

• Anal Glands Expressed

• Bandana/Bow

• Refreshing Spritz

DAY CARE The best play your pup will get today. During the day, let your dog be a dog at Sit, Stay and Play. We will show your furry friends love and attention throughout the day and they will come home as one tired and happy pup. Participating in daycare will help eliminate the feeling of loneliness and boredom while you are away. Canines participating in our program will enjoy many events throughout the day with their new friends!


CAKE, A Modern Southern Bakery

A Celebration, A Centerpiece, A Statement

EVERYONE AT CAKE WOULD LIKE TO thank all of our customers for another amazing year! We have continued to follow our desire to exceed every customer’s expectations and provide North Louisiana with “big city style” right here at home. This holiday season we’re adding our European Drinking Chocolate that takes your family’s celebrations to another level. The Polar Express hot chocolate doesn’t hold a candle next to ours, so come by and give it a try! Take some home for your family and friends to enjoy around a cozy campfire. Heat up some delicious hot chocolate while watching the kids open presents and lounging on the sofa with the Christmas tree shining bright.

True to our French techniques, we have expanded our weekly offering of macarons this year. A macaron is a light and delicate French cookie. It sandwiches unique flavor combinations that both catch the eye and the taste buds! Chef Becky creates a wide variety

of flavors such as cookie butter, champagne, Oreo, pistachio, and wedding cake. Some favorite seasonal flavors include strawberry, lemon, and berry, during the spring and summer. We also offer flavors such as: king cake, Creole cream cheese, and praline during Mardi Gras. Pumpkin cheesecake, short bread butter, and gingerbread flavors are favorites and must tries during the holiday season.

The macaron has origins in Italy but it was French chefs in the 16th century to the present day that have perfected this delightful confection. Not to be confused with macaroons, a haphazard collection of coconut haystacks that are dipped in chocolate, the macaron lifts its regal head to proclaim, “It’s macaron not macaroon!” No matter your choice of pronunciation, make sure to have these wonderful treats at your holiday gathering or just as an afternoon distraction!

As you make those important decisions on gifts this year, let us help you find that

perfect gift for teachers, friends at the office, church, neighbors or a highly contentious Dirty Santa gift! We offer gift sets for dozen or half dozen macarons. Our Cake sampler boards offers a variety of delicious cookies. Don’t forget our spicy sugar pecans and gift cards for that special person.

If you’re looking for the perfect centerpiece that will make a statement of elegance and style at your event in 2023, contact us soon to secure your custom order—it is never too early, our books fill up fast! We’re looking forward to an exciting and delicious new year! From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Richland Therapy Services

Dry Needling: “Knot” Your Average Treatment


(TDN) is a safe and effective treatment provided by a certified dry needling physical therapist. It allows for the precise targeting of deep tissues that cannot be reached by traditional massage or other deep pressure techniques. It is called “dry” needling because the needle is not injecting a fluid – unlike a needle used to inject a vaccine. TDN treats muscular pain with the insertion of a very thin and fine stainlesssteel needle into well-defined trigger points within the affected muscle. Trigger points are hyperirritable spots in your muscle that can cause tenderness, chronic pain, and even restrict your range of motion. When properly inserted into the correct trigger point, the dry needle will trigger what is known as a local twitch response: an involuntary contraction of the band of tight muscle fibers within the muscle. This precise intramuscular stimulation can be very effective in promoting

healing, relieving pain, and improving range of motion, all without the use of drugs or medication. Let’s say you’re suffering from shoulder or neck pain; a physical therapist will insert needles into detected trigger points. The needles will release tension, inflammation, chemicals, and pressure in the muscles that has caused the pain. The results will lead to a decrease in muscle spasm and often immediate pain relief.

Dry needling can be a great alternative treatment for patients who are sensitive to pain medication or whose pain levels have not improved after multiple sessions of physical therapy, rest, exercise, or surgery. TDN is also effective among patients with chronic conditions that have resulted in lingering pain.

Similar to how dry needling relieves tension and pressure in trigger points, this process can also help improve overall movement and prevent further injury. If you

are an athlete who is constantly on the move, having fluid movement and full range of motion is key to your success. If you are a baseball player, having full range of motion in your shoulder is important when successfully throwing a baseball. By constantly throwing a baseball, you put a lot of stress on your shoulder so it is important to relax your muscles and reduce tightness. Dry needling can help reduce this tightness and improve overall function of your shoulder so you will not feel constant discomfort in your shoulder or reduced range of motion that could lead to other injury.

So whether you have a new musculoskeletal injury that has resulted in pain or tightness or an old chronic injury that you just haven’t been able to find any relief, you may want to give dry needling a shot!


J y

The holidays remind us of joy. We see the three-letter word on Christmas cards, outside front doors in bold letters, and on Christmas pajamas in red and white. Tis the season! But it begs the question - why do we only hear about joy during the holidays? With the hectic pace of the last two months of the year, joy can be easy to miss, or for some, a foreign concept. The season is a time for family, friends, and merrymaking, a chance to reflect on the year that’s swiftly ending. Is joy something we can find? Does joy find us? Can our lives get in the way of us recognizing joy? And more specifically, how do we even define joy, and might its meaning differ from person to person? My friend James Pettit defines joy as a “settled peace and contentment at one’s core, quite independent of outward circumstances. Happiness, on the other hand, is more driven by outward circumstances.” Perhaps defining or finding joy has less to do with its actual definition and more to do with recognition, intentionality, and gratitude.


PRESENT Joy in the

When I pause to think of a moment that brought me joy, my girls’ faces pop in my head. Just last week, I was busy organizing backpacks for the next day, checking schedules, and contemplating dinner, when my oldest said something surprisingly funny. I paused and looked directly in her eyes as the smile slowly spread across my face. Her eyes twinkled. She lit up at the recognition, the focused attention from a mother whose attention is often elsewhere. I did that conscious thing where we freeze the image in our minds, hoping it will return in the future. I describe that moment as joyous because it surprised me. I wasn’t looking for it, but I knew it when I felt it. I believe joy is a series of moments, the little surprises that suddenly manifest. It makes me wonder how many I’ve missed when I wasn’t paying attention.

Vanelis Rivera, BayouLife contributing writer, describes joy as “experiential,” something one can tap into. Joy is cultivated in the spirit. It appears when we pay attention, when we live in the moment, when we pause and notice the flowers. The American obsession with busyness for the sake of busyness distracts us from the opportunity to recognize or cultivate joy. I think of those people who don’t rush life, who stray from stressful situations, who don’t freak out when a to-do list is not created and systematically checked off. I imagine those people as being able to locate joy, to seize pleasure whenever possible. To be fully present means to remain aware, not constantly on the run. Joy can be found in the little things, the self-fulfilling pursuits that are sought only for the purpose of pleasure. To be present is to be mindful, to seek connection with one’s spirit, to know oneself. Honoring ourselves must be adjacent to finding joy. The practice clears space for the pleasurable.

A good cry is a long way from joy, but a good cry is cathartic. It frees the pent-up emotions; it honors one’s feelings. I often feel relief when the first tear trickles down my cheek. I know relief is on its way. In giving in to that emotion, I honor my sadness, my disappointment, even my rage. Expression is recognition and release. People say to listen to our gut, to trust the knowing inside of ourselves. That feeling of discomfort, the origin of which might be unknown, guides us. We can lean into joy the same way we lean into comfort. Paying attention to the good, to the feel good, to the soul-filling, should garner the same effort. We often hear about “the pursuit of happiness,” that to be happy, you must choose to be happy. A pursuit suggests happiness is something that can be bought or stumbled upon; whereas joy is something that lives inside of us, something we can tap into at will if only we stay in conversation with ourselves. We have to listen as much as we instruct. We must wait for directions, tolerate the silence, let the self lead the way. Being present insists we stay open to what is around us, to the spirit of gratitude. It demands we recognize that we have all we need, that wants are much different than needs. Staying strong in spirit means having faith in yourself, keeping an open heart and an open mind. Perhaps joy is found in the present and we’re often running several feet in front of it.

“You have to work hard at being happy, just like you have to work hard at being miserable. I wake up every day expecing all to be good and right. And if it’s not, I set my mind to making it so by the end of the day.”

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness”


ROUTINE Joy in the

The mundane nature of daily life can be all encompassing. Weren’t we just here yesterday, or was that five minutes ago? In lives that feature multiple moving parts, routine can provide the structure that brings comfort, the simple joys woven into a long day. Business owner Alberta Green finds joy in commanding her day, in taking time for herself before the world awakes. Pulled in several directions, parents can sacrifice the important “Me Time” for “Them Time” - wash, rinse, repeat. In carving out time for us, in choosing ourselves first, we create the space for recognizing the simple joys in our day.

The fault of routine is when it becomes a crutch, a conveyor belt without an off ramp. We have to be mindful that life changes, that we have to adapt. Recognizing when to alter one’s routine is paramount for avoiding stagnation. We often feel we don’t have time for that trip or can’t possibly skip a workout. The schedule becomes the master. Retaining control is knowing when to step away from the rulebook. When the routine lacks comfort, when the day becomes a list of duties, the joy gets lost. Rigid adherence to structure does not allow the light in. I think we forget that routines are created by us, for us. They can be changed, and we have to be willing to say when.

HOME J oy in the

Our homes are spaces where memories are made, where life comes to lie down. Homes should provide comfort, solace, and bring a smile at the end of the day. Designer Jan Strickland created a space synonymous with joy. Around every corner of her home is a family photograph or sentimental object. When she looks around, her environment is pleasing. I think many of us assume creating a joyful space requires a professional eye, but even small changes can have an impact. Much like being present, creating a space attuned to your own pleasure is making room for joy. Jan says, “A home is a reflection of your story.”

Our homes should be full of reminders of what we are thankful for. Leaning into gratitude, choosing to see the blessing rather than the chore, is essential to gratitude. Life is full of menial home tasks necessary to keep our lives in motion. In Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, she ruminates on gratitude, on staying connected to the practice regardless of life’s struggles. Mindfulness requires us to ponder perspective. Is what we’re doing so terrible? Are we missing the privilege of getting to do this thing for ourselves? Positivity demands a rejection of despair. We too-often link positivity to naivete, as if positive people are unaware of hardship in the world. Choosing a lens through which to view the world is a mindful selection of perspective. Creating a home space that brings us joy is a version of the same.



To recognize and receive joy, we must first believe we deserve it. In Beatrice Tatum’s family counseling practice, she reminds patients that they are worthy of joy just as they are. There is no test to prove one deserves pleasure. We are capable of knowing and manifesting joy. If you find joy absent from your life, ask when was the last time you felt joy. Who was around? What was involved? We must actualize our joy. We must put in place the permission to feel good. Beatrice finds joy in a sunny day, in solitude, in relaxation. She finds joy in the children she counsels, in the little quips they express in therapy. She asked a little boy what made him happy. He simply responded, “My blanket, my toy box.” His expectations were simple; his scope was within reach. While our identification of joy may change over time, staying attuned to the little things that provide comfort and pleasure is a way to prioritize joy.

Negative emotions like sorrow serve their purpose. They remind us of the alternative good things, the reasons to smile. We often know something by knowing its opposite. Acknowledging pain and sadness means eventually letting it go, turning the other way toward another emotion, another feeling, a brighter place. Sometimes that comes in doing for others, in providing someone else comfort and bringing the gift of joy. Christmas reminds us that it is better to give than to receive. Sometimes the quickest way to find joy is in ensuring it for others, seeing the emotion bloom in another’s eyes. Moments of joy are fleeting, yet everlasting. They are abundant and waiting to be appreciated. We had the power all along. Believing can be the hardest part.


Crook & Marker

Zero Sugar Organic Cocktails

IN 2009, BEN WEISS SAW AN OPPORTUNITY IN THE soft drink market. People were searching for something without sugar or artificial sweeteners, but something that also tasted great. From this, Bai Brands was born. The company offered a line of lowcalorie soft drinks including sodas, bottled water, iced tea, and noncarbonated fruit flavored drinks which are sweetened with all-natural sugar alternatives. It was a brand that changed the way people looked at soft drinks. They now had a healthy option without sacrificing flavor.

But Ben wasn’t finished. He decided to take his uncommon approach to the world of alcoholic beverages. The result is Crook and Marker. The proprietary brewing process, called Basebrew, turns ancient grains and tropical root into a new, one of a kind zero gluten beverage made with organic alcohol. Each batch is finely filtered and perfectly polished to create a distinctively smooth and satisfying alcohol base. Luscious fruit flavors are added to bring Crook and Marker beverages to life.

The ingredients really are the key – from grain to glass. Clean, organic, and natural are all words that come to mind. The main ingredients in Basebrew are cassava root, quinoa, amaranth, and millet. Cassava root extract comes from the tuberous root of the cassava plant, which has been grown for thousands of years in tropical regions of South America. Quinoa, a staple food for generations in the Andes region of South America, has high protein and all nine essential amino acids. Amaranth, which is naturally gluten-free and high in protein, was a native staple whole grain of the South American Aztecs. Millet, a gluten-free, small-seeded grass also known as “the grain of the gods,” has been consumed for ages.

So, why the name Crook and Marker? A crook is a shepherd’s tool for controlling his flock. A marker is the black sheep who refuses to be penned in. Crook and Marker is a standout in a sea of sameness. It’s a beverage that refuses to go with the flock. Crook and Marker is out to prove that people can feel better about what they drink while still having a good time. A spiked and sparkling drink with zero sugar, zero gluten, and made with organic alcohol, it’s like nothing else out there.

“Our goal was to create an alcoholic beverage that was as beautiful on the outside as the ingredients inside,” said Crook & Marker Chief

Marketing Officer Daniel Goodfellow. “More than ever, today’s consumers are extremely conscious of what they are putting in their bodies, so with our move to a fully USDA Organic beverage portfolio they can enjoy bold, refreshing flavor from transparent ingredients they can feel good about.”

“We don’t believe people are running to hard seltzers because of the flavor, they are running away from the sugar, carbs and calories found in other alcoholic beverages,” Goodfellow said. “Seltzer helped introduce people to the fact that ‘better for you’ alcoholic drinks exist. We are taking that one step further to prove good ingredients and great taste can also coexist and in a wide range of beverages perfect for every occasion.”

Crook and Marker Espresso Martini


This 10% ABV Zero Sugar Espresso Martini is made with organic alcohol that’s carefully brewed from the finest ingredients, so you can sip infinite flavor with zero guilt. This classic cocktail includes bold organic coffee plus flavor made with premium vodka & a hint of vanilla for a kick that’ll make your good times even better. Espresso Martini is available locally in 4 pack slim cans.

Crook and Marker Classic Lime Margarita


Sugar kept showing up uninvited to the flavor fiesta. So, Crook and Marker showed simple syrup the door and said, “Don’t let the blender hit you on the way out.” With zero sugar, real lime juice and beautifully refreshing natural flavors made with organic tequila, this Margarita tastes like a turquoise-hued sunset shimmering on the horizon. Cue the mariachi and take your taste buds on a south-of-theborder adventure that’s as simple as crack, sip and repeat. Classic Lime Margarita is available locally in 8 pack slim cans.

Be sure to like Choice Brands on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with new product releases. Feel free to message us for information on where to find your favorite brands. Find us at facebook. com/thechoicebrands,, and choicebrands.


Origin Bank’s Own Ryan Kilpatrick

Receives 2022 Louisiana Young Banker Impact Award


Association (LBA) has announced Ryan Kilpatrick of Origin Bank as a recipient of the 2022 Louisiana Young Banker Impact Award. Given by the Louisiana Bankers Education Council and the Louisiana Bankers Association, this award recognizes young bankers in Louisiana who are making significant contributions to their bank and the banking industry. Kilpatrick, who serves as the bank’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer, will be recognized with his fellow winners at an awards luncheon on December 7, 2022, in Baton Rouge.

“I’m thrilled that Ryan is being recognized as a 2022 Louisiana Young Banker Impact Award winner,” said Origin Bank President and CEO Lance Hall. ”Origin’s core purpose is ‘to enrich the lives of people in our community.’ Ryan lives out this purpose daily. He inspires his fellow Origin teammates to make a difference in the lives of others and is respected for his innovative leadership throughout the banking

industry. I’m so proud of Ryan and am grateful to the Louisiana Bankers Association for bestowing this well-deserved honor upon him.”

In his role as Executive Vice President, Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Origin Bank, Kilpatrick oversees the bank’s brand strategy, corporate communications, corporate culture and governmental affairs. Since joining Origin in 2006, he has been responsible for business development, building a strong corporate culture devoted to employee engagement and community involvement, strengthening relationships with customers and shareholders, and managing communications and governmental affairs.

Kilpatrick earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Louisiana Tech University and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. He is community focused and currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Louisiana Tech Foundation. He has received many community awards including Ruston-Lincoln Parish Young

Business Person of the Year, Louisiana Tech Young Alumnus of the Year and was recognized as a Northeast Louisiana Top 40 Under 40 honoree. He is married to Sarah Kilpatrick and together they have three sons.

The Louisiana Young Banker Impact Award recognizes up to five young bankers who have made significant contributions to their bank and the banking industry as a whole. LBA member banks are eligible to nominate candidates who are 45 years or younger, who have worked a minimum of five years in banking, who serve as a bank executive or senior officer and who are considered rising stars who exemplify teamwork, initiate innovative programs and/ or processes, and exemplify acceptance and inclusion of others. To learn more and to purchase tickets to the 2022 Louisiana Young Banker Impact Award luncheon, visit

Origin Bancorp, Inc. is a financial holding company headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana. Origin’s wholly owned bank subsidiary, Origin Bank, was founded in 1912 in Choudrant, Louisiana. Deeply rooted in Origin’s history is a culture committed to providing personalized, relationship banking to businesses, municipalities, and personal clients to enrich the lives of the people in the communities it serves. Origin provides a broad range of financial services and currently operates 59 banking centers located from Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas and Houston, across North Louisiana and into Mississippi. For more information, visit


Momentum for Belton

You can measure the success of an event when the attendance exceeds expectations and running out of food is a great indication of a successful event. The tenderloin with horseradish sauce, fried shrimp with remoulade sauce, tuna nachos, fruit and cheese board and deviled eggs were provided by Trio’s. The petit fours were from Crumbs Catering of Ruston. Beverages were also provided by Trios courtesy of Jenifer Johnson. The beautiful floral arrangements and decorations were provided by Lauren Roebuck.

On the BayouScene

1 Brian Woodard, Jenifer Johnson and John Belton

2 Todd Davison, John Belton and Jim Davison 3 David Chrisman and Coach Wilbert Ellis 4 Jerry Lewis and Jan Moss 5 Steve Gatlin and Robert Bordelon 6 Kevin Sly, John Belton and Vendall Venton 7 Willie Washington, John Belton and Coach Wilbert Ellis 8 Dr. Allen Herbert, Josie Herbert, Dr. Gary Stokley and Sandy Stokley

9 Lynne Oneal, Dan Oneal and Reggie Skains

10 Rickey Burton and Aaron James

11 Kelsea Dearmon, Will Dearmon, Hannah Bowman and Chris Bowman 12 Ron Barron, Rodney Manning, Kerry Banks, Jennifer Banks and Gwen Barron 13 John Kyte, Cheri Sciro, Alana Belton and Jan Murphy 14 John Belton and Ginger Robinson 15 Eric Mahaffey, Rosie Bromell and Deanna McCallum 16 John Belton, Frank Cordaro and Brian Ardoin 17 Bruce Rushing and John Belton 18 Cathy and Charles Couch 19 Adron Hester and Veda Emerson

Support Illustrates
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To Our Children with Love

THIS YEAR, UNITED WAY OF Northeast Louisiana is giving the community an opportunity to provide holiday gifts and necessities to local foster children through a partnership with Louisiana Foster Care Support Services and Royal Family Kids for Northeast Louisiana.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit to fill out the form. This volunteer wrapping event will involve sorting and wrapping Christmas gifts for local foster children as part of our “To Our Children, With Love” project.

Through the link listed above, you can select your preferred time slot for volunteering. The volunteer event will be held at Victory Baptist Church (740 Finks Hideaway Road in Monroe). A member of the United Way of Northeast Louisiana team will be in touch with additional information, once the form to volunteer has been submitted.

If you are interested in being a mindful giver, visit to scroll through the options of items needed by local foster kids. Just like shopping for yourself, select the item(s) you wish to purchase, add them to your cart and check out.


Royal Family Kids for Northeast Louisiana is a non-profit organization that serves children in foster care in the 11 Department of Children & Family Services parishes for Northeast Louisiana. We are asking for sponsors to help create a magical Christmas for foster children by providing toys and necessities through an online giving platform. Upon shipment, all purchases will be processed and gift wrapped by a team of Louisiana Foster Care and United Way NELA volunteers, then delivered to foster children

in time for the holidays. All donations are tax deductible. We appreciate your heart for the children in our community!


United Way of Northeast Louisiana envisions a community where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability, and healthy lives.

United Way of Northeast Louisiana is focused on helping people and improving communities. We rely on experienced volunteers, loyal donors, effective partner agencies, and dedicated staff to help achieve our vision for a better Northeast Louisiana. The purpose at United Way of Northeast Louisiana is helping people and improving community. The values are inclusiveness, integrity, compassion, respect, dignity, and positive impact.

Provide Holiday Gifts and Necessities to Local Foster Children with United Way of Northeast LA

aFORDable Truck

Don’t be the last one on the lot! Truck on out to Banner Ford and grab your new ride.

Oh, Deer

These golden deer are a great addition to your home. From holiday mantels to everyday décor, these make the perfect gifts. Find this and more Ivy&Stone Ruston.

These soy candles found at Eleven 26 Boutique make wonderful gifts for anyone on your list. Fill your home or space with the joy and smells of Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Cozy Up to Johnny Was

Your furry friend no longer has to steal your favorite Johnny Was blanket! The Nude has expanded its holiday Johnny Was collection to include chic and cozy blankets, Sherpa dog beds, and gorgeous wine totes. For a limited time only.

Pamper Yourself

Give the gift of skincare this season with the SkinCeuticals Anti-Aging system kit that improves the appearance of damaged, aging skin available at Center for Women’s Health in West Monroe.

Catch Me Outside

Love the cold weather and a nice fire outside? This fire pit is the perfect size to warm up and get cozy. Make s’mores with family and fond memories. Pick this up at Sonny Panzico’s Garden Mart before they are gone!

Christmas in the Air

Fill up your gathering room with the encapsulating aroma of a Saint candle that is sure to have your family and guests feeling the warmth of Christmas in the air. Find this at Walsworth & Company

Let’s Get Blitzen

This Milagro tequila will sure spice up any holiday gathering or event. Perfect for sipping and making your favorite margarita, this tequila is top-of-the-line.

Bling in the New Year

This bracelet features all the magic and majesty of the multi-pave setting. Highlighting VAHAN’s unparalleled craftsmanship, the various-sized diamonds are meticulously set by hand to create an effect that is exquisitely ornate and exceptionally impactful. This bracelet and many more styles can be found at Flair Jewelers

Skin Bright

A patented daytime vitamin C serum that delivers advanced environmental protection and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, and brightens skin’s complexion. Find this and more at Spa Nouvelle

Come Fly With Me

These Pink Reef oversized butterflies are hand painted perfection found at Hemline Monroe

Two hand painted florals are layered for a gorgeous effect. No two are alike.

Cup O’ Cheer

CC’s Coffee House not only has a menu full of hot and iced coffee, they have plenty of travel mugs and cups that any Java Joe on your list will love.

Off the Cuff

Be sure to buy this gift for your significant other at Southern Creations in Rayville. This Ronaldo engraved, silver and gold cuff is sure to reflect your love.

Get the Glow

This non-invasive OxyGeneo Hydrate Facial offered at The Medical Spa by St.Francis Medical Group gives you that instant glow everyone loves especially in these cooler months. Geneo works from the inside out to refresh dull skin, reduce fine lines, and improve overall skin texture and appearance.


Don’t be a Grinch this Christmas, instead pick up these Grinch earrings and strut around the room with your favorite holiday character. Sneak into Blush by Elle to snatch these earrings

This Gift is Money

This billfold is constructed from full grain, vegetable tanned leather and features two full length billfold sections, five interior credit card slots, and an I.D. window with a discrete metal-mesh window. Find this gift and more at Max Porter Provisions in West Monroe.

Cold Shoulder

Give the gift of the cold shoulder this holiday season. With this carbon cool shoulder cut pillow, you will get a cool night’s sleep. Find this great gift at American Mattress Outlet

See Me Now, Not Later

Grab this perfect Louisiana decorative golden alligator at Revival Design and Consign. Don’t wait until its too late, every Louisianian should adorn their home with this gator year round!

Merry and Bright

Give your skin the tender love and care that it deserves this holiday season. Zo Skin Health found at The Woman’s Clinic is perfect for your skin to recover from all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Pillow Talk

This pillow found at Eleven 26 Boutique is the best way to make a statement on a sofa or sidecar. Rep your zip in the most fabulous way.

Sugar and Spice, and Everything Nice

This Christmas box of 4 hand-painted cupcakes from SMALLCAKES would be the perfect sweet treat on Christmas morning.

Treat For Your Feet

Beat the chill off your feet with the most festive and cozy socks around! Pick up the World’s Softest socks at Blush by Elle

The Reason for the Season

The Nude Nomad’s Abalone Cross Necklace is the perfect gift for someone who loves timeless and classic designs.


Okay, unfreeze and run to T.P. Outdoors Monroe and grab this 3-pack of Muddy Pro Deer Cameras. See that big buck walking around your stand, first!

Turn Back Time

Step into Professional Laser Center and grab this new AntiAge Holiday Box from AntiAge MD. Time travel back to a younger appearance.

Golden Girl Boogie into the new year in these fabulous gold crocodile western booties found at Herringstones in Monroe.

Best Face Forward

Sippin With Santa

Sew Special


Things in Monroe is excited to offer a variety of sewing machines, including the 95Q, one of the best on the market. If you have a sewing enthusiast on your list, they will love this comprehensive computerized sewing machine under the

Spice It Up

This Sazerac de Forge Cognac found at Washington Wine & Spirits is rich and floral, distinctly creamy in texture, showing hints of exotic spice on the palate, with a long soft finish and a hint of natural sweetness. Perfect to spice up any party this holiday season.

Need to relax after the hustle and bustle from holiday shopping? Grab these colored, handmade Murano glasses at your very own Palette House & Plume

Picture Perfect

A collection of rooms by Jan Strickland. ‘Interiors for Living’ showcases Jan’s portfolio. The book is meant to inspire those who love the beauty and function of homes that are designed and decorated for everyday living. Can be found at eight locations or

Game Time

This Life on Earth Eeboo Memory and Matching Game sold at Haven promotes memory and matching skills while teaching children about flora and fauna and other wild life from around

Reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles with this SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum from

Organize This Don’t pack your travel bag without this jewelry organizer. Save yourself the headache and be prepared and organized on all your holiday traveling. Shop and grab this gift at Southern Creations

Tote-ally Stylish

Carry on or carry around with this chic Consuela tote found at Walsworth & Company. Not only does it have plenty of room for all your essentials, it is trendsetting and stylish.

Joyful Jewels

These river turquoise huggie earrings found at Palette House & Plume are here for the party!

This pair can be dressed up or down and add a pop of color to your look.

Not Your Basic Basket


Cozy Christmas

Food Factory

a variety of gift baskets full of specialty themed items. You can choose from an Italian theme with pasta and spaghetti sauce or Louisiana with Cajun seasonings. You can even have them customize a basket for anyone on your list.

Christmas Spirits

Grab some friends and family and enjoy a spirit made with this delicious Batch & Bottle Lazy Old Fashioned pre-batched cocktails.

has amazing robes and pajamas in luxurious satin, bamboo and cotton. New robes for men have also just arrived.

Get Toasted

The Nude Nomad’s Johnny Was Holiday Wine Tote is a fun and fashionable gift with its gorgeous print, soft material, and pom pom detail - $30. Pair it with your favorite bottle of wine or champagne for the gift that keeps on giving.

Sparkle and Shine

These rhinestone western booties are the perfect booties kick up a good time this holiday season. Find this and more at Dusty and Company.

Chef’s Kiss

Step inside Cake on Antique Alley and take a deep breath of the sweet aroma in the air. While you are there, pick up a pack of macarons as a gift to that special someone, or for your own delight.

Cheers to the New Year

These colored champagne glasses from Estelle will be the toast of the town. Grab them in red or green, or various other colors. Find this and Parterre Home

Sock It to Him

Monroe’s men’s clothing store, Ron Alexander Clothiers, carries a great selection of men’s apparel and accessories. These St. Croix socks are a great gift for any guy on your list.

Throw It On

Running to the store, deer stand, to grab a bite to eat? Throw on this Mossy Oak flag hoodie from T.P. Outdoors Monroe. This hoodie comes in several colors and it’s on sale!

A Glowing Gift

This Fir candle from Cire Trudon is a classic holiday pine fragrance. The oldest French manufacturer that produces the world’s most prestigious candles of the highest quality with hand blown glass and pure vegetable wax. Find this and others at Material Things.

Pump Up the Holidays

Make a statement at any holiday party in these fabulous pink Billini heels with rhinestone bow found at Herringstones in Monroe.

Fa-La-La Fountain of Youth

Give the gift of skincare this season with any of the Zo Skin products, available at the Woman’s Clinic. This product improves the appearance of fine lines and uneven tone and texture, perfect for the woman on your list this year.

Sun’s Out

The sun still shines in the wintertime and these cool shades from Max Porter Provisions are the best sunnies in town. Find this and other great men’s gift ideas.

Jelly of My Jelly?

Snag your own Cookie’s Creation Crawfish Jelly at The Market on Julia in Rayville. Add some jelly on top of cream cheese and enjoy on your favorite cracker!

Wrap It Up

This ivory and latte Double sided, ultra-soft faux fur blanket from Hemline Monroe will be sure to keep you warm through the holidays. Paired with these astro slippers that features a molded rubber sole that is flexible for comfort and durable for wearing inside or out.

Shine bright

Shine as bright as these diamonds with your gift giving. These diamond station necklaces are available in 14k white and yellow gold with diamonds ranging from .5 to 1.5 carats. Visit Dupont Jewelers to add this gift under the tree.

Giddy Up

It’s All About the Brows

The Obagi Nu-Cil Eyebrow Boosting Serum that can be purchased at The Medical Spa by St.Francis Medical Group is clinically proven to fortify brow hair for fuller, denser, darkerlooking brows in as little as eight weeks!

Saddle up and head out to Banner Ford and wrangle you in a new Bronco for the perfect Christmas ride.

Call Me Old Fashioned

This 7-year old selection in the vertical series from Pinhook Bourbon found at Washington Wine & Spirits is the perfect gift for your bourbon lover. The nose opens with brown sugar, cherries, honey flan and fresh coffee.

Good Morning Gala at ULM

On Saturday, October 8th a homecoming celebration was had at ULM. Recipients John and Debbie Luffey were honored as the Golden Arrow Award and Morgan Livingston was honored as the Rising Young Alumni Award. The 2022 Homecoming Court were introduced and all other alumni returning back to the bayou were recognized. Guests celebrated the day with a DJ, photo booth, brunch, grits bar, and a bloody mary & mimosa bar.

On the BayouScene

1 Anne Lockhart, Bruce Hanks and Lisa Miller

2 Maggie Generoso, Keith Beard, Monica Butler, Laurie Payne, Mary Linda McCann and Missy Amy 3 Dr. Christine Berry and Dr. Ron Berry 4 Callie O’Bryant & Debbie Luffey 5 Cindy Foust and Jenifer Armstrong 6 Morgan Livingston and Debbie and John Luffey 7 Tag & Melissa Rome

8 Michael Echols and Ethan Estis 9 John and Debbie Luffey

10 Ken Ford and Laurie Payne 11 Laurie Payne and Monica Butler 12 Johnny Max, Morgan and Belinda Livingston 13 Dr.Otis Drew, Antwan Holmes and DJ Davis 14 Miss Louisiana Gracie Reichman and Miss ULM Asja Jordan 15 Sandy & Chad Leboeuf 16 Ahmaad Solmone and Brittany and Vivi Ray Coughlin

17 Cindy Foust, Sarah Sierveld, Renee Hebert and Keith Beard

1 3 6 9 8 12 14 15 16 17 13 10 11 4 5 2 7

Lip Sync Battle

Thursday, October 27, Twin City Ballet hosted their 2022 Lip Sync Battle and it was EPIC. It was definitely one for the books! The winners were, 3rd place: Usher, Coach DJ Davis; 2nd place: Rhianna, Patience Talley, and coming in 1st place was Bruno Mars, Taylor Washam. Guests voted for a crowd favorite and Carrie Underwood, Cassie Bruscato took home the title. This was definitely a night to remember and we can’t wait for 2023 Lip Sync Battle!

On the BayouScene

1 Krista Underwood, Kelli Hulsey and Carol Parker

2 Alyssa Allen, Claire Buffington, Madeline Mills, Anna Kaye Robertson, Kellie Ensminger, and Avery Dabbs

3 Margaret Moses and Jansen Harvey

4 Hannah Salsbury and Tiffany Terra

5 Kenneth and Diane Tabulog

6 Kennedy Bullock, Taylor Seale, Shannon Embanato, Lissa Dumas, Angela Byrd, Lauren Perry and Cassidy Burns

7 Amanda Elias, Sherill Mayeaux and Anne Marie Sisk

8 Maggie and Ken Generoso

9 Laurie Payne and Whitney Jackson

10 Madeline Gebhart and Erica Johnson

11 Kaitlyn Mitchell, Alyson Aulds, Brooke McCoy, Ruthie Crowder, Laura Beth Southern, and Sydney Nicholas

12 Lindsey Morrow, Lark Brothers, Ellen Mckoin, Szu Domingue and Robin Johnson

13 Desirae Trappey and Haley Holley

14 Lauren Smalley and Sophie Barksdale

15 Emmy Johnston, Mandy Shipp, Jayme Garvin, Cassie Wade and Jennifer Guerriero

16 Cydni Hanks, Courtney Thomas, Shelby Kelmell, Ashley Johnson, Lauren Smalley, Haley Holley, Melinda Minniefield, April Hammett and Jennifer Fox

1 3 6 8 11 13 14 15 16 12 9 10 7 4 5 2

Homemade for the Holidays

OSL Holiday Food Favorites

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND there’s nothing quite as good as homemade! As I got a little giddy with the Christmas Spirit, I decided I would ask all the physicians at Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana what their very favorite thing about Christmas was. The resounding answer was spending time with family. Dr. Val Irion put it beautifully when he said,“I love spending time with family and relaxing at home with them whether it’s watching football, building fires, or watching movies. I love seeing all the joy, all the holiday cheer around at the clinic and all around our community… and, of course the feasting.”

Yes indeed -the feasting! When I asked Dr. Irion what his favorite holiday feasting included, he replied, “Pumpkin Crunch is my all-time favorite.” Dr. David Googe chimed in and really got the conversation going saying, “I can’t imagine Christmas without broccoli and cheese casserole- you know-like the not so healthy one, but the one with Velvetta and cream of mushroom soup. Dr. Googe’s team agreed with him on the homemade broccoli and cheese casserole and added buttermilk pie. As we continued down the halls of the clinic, we had other top picks including spiral ham, green bean casserole, pecan pie and sweet potato casserole… some with a praline pecan topping and others with a marshmallow top. Dr. Neal Cooper said, “Nothing beats tenderloin and au gratin potatoes.” The front office added cornbread dressing (most saying it had to be their mom’s recipe), pound cake and deviled eggs and Dr. Andrew Patton quickly professed, “Kentucky Derby Pie.”

After I took down some favorite holiday dishes of the docs and staff on paper, I headed across the street to my office and decided as a deep-rooted southerner with a love of good food and great believer that there is always a reason to gather… made better when Christmas, food, family and friends are involved simultaneously. I decided that instead of asking one of the docs to write an article for the December issue of Bayou Life on the musculoskeletal system, I would send a companywide email asking the entire staff to reply by answering the question: What is your favorite Christmas dish and/or sweet? I shared my favorite Christmas treat in my email…. The Eggnog Daiquiri from Tony’s Liquor in Shreveport, Louisiana. This is quite literally Christmas spirit in a foam cup… that spirit being more specifically rum. I was glad to have a few of my colleagues agree! In addition to this delightful beverage, the list grew and included: Cajun fried turkey, apple dumplings, homemade macaroni & cheese, chocolate buttermilk pie, corn casserole, Swiss bean casserole,

pecan pie bread pudding, New York Cheesecake, Zwolle Tamales, pumpkin loaf, sufganiyot (jelly donuts), collard greens, candied yams, sweet potato pie with Cool Whip, peanut brittle, cornbread dressing with chicken, not turkey, pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate éclair cake and lemon icebox pie. I’m sure if I had not had a deadline for this article, the list would be longer. It was so fun to see the OSL family get excited about the upcoming holiday season, and I think this year, we might just have the best potluck ever. We decided we would share the recipe of the favorite holiday dish that started this conversation.

Southern Broccoli and Cheese Casserole


• 6 cups chopped, fresh broccoli florets

• 1 (10 3/4-oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

• 1 cup mayonnaise

• 1/2 stick butter, melted

• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

• 1/2 medium onion, finely diced

• 1 1/2 cup grated Velvetta cheese

• 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers

• Salt & Pepper, to taste


• Place broccoli in a steamer basket over simmering water. Cover and steam for approximately 5 minutes. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• In a large bowl, combine broccoli, soup, mayonnaise, butter, eggs, onion, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

• Add 1 cup of cheese and mix again.

• Place mixture in a medium buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese and crackers on top.

• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes and let stand for 15 minutes before serving All of us at Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana want to wish you the happiest holiday season filled with family, friends, and good food! For additional recipes or to share your favorite Christmas treat, please visit:

Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana is home to (10) fellowship trained orthopedic surgeons and a host of excellent holiday cooks and connoisseurs.


Holidays in CedarTown

Holidays in CedarTown provided guests with three days of unique holiday shopping along with an opportunity to enjoy several special events. In its 33th year, the market opened with Opening Night Preview Party Holiday After Hours. The private shopping event featured appetizers, beverages, music, door prizes and early shopping. On Friday evening Tinsel and Tailgate offered guests pregame shopping and tailgate complimentary hot dogs, nachos and desserts. Santa’s Cookie Crew on Saturday morning treated the little ones to a visit and breakfast with Santa along with storytime with Mrs. Claus.

On the BayouScene

1 Karen Taylor and Claire Jones

2 Emily and Jim Wilkerson

3 John and Marisa Gleason, Wendy Lasuzzo, Kiley Flowers and Mollie Mikel

4 Ashley Rabb and Maggie Boudreaux

5 Elizabeth Turpin and Tara Stone

6 Alex Delgado and Sidney Fulco

7 Taryn Davidson and Staci Faulkner

8 Valerie and Rob Owens

9 Kelley Hodland, Amy Keifenheim and Lissy Compton

10 Katie Bonnette, Sarah Katz and Mellissa Watson

11 Erin Rabb and Velissa Rollins

12 Natalie Ingle and Lauren Kelly

1 4 3 7 10 11 12 9 5 6 2 8

Calendar of Events

For a full list of event happenings in Northeast Louisiana, see our website at

December 1 - 23

Holiday Wagon Rides

Take a wonderful wagon ride through the festive twinkling Christmas lights in downtown West Monroe! The rides begin at 5:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night beginning November 25th through December 23rd. The wagon ride pickup is every 30 minutes in Alley Park.

Hours: 5 - 9 PM

Cost: Adults $10.00. Kids $5.00. Address: Alley Park 250 Trenton St, West Monroe Phone: (318) 396-2600

Santa's Christmas Village

Don't miss out on Santa's Christmas Village at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum! Santa's Village Includes: Cookie decorating, Visits with Santa, model train village, Make and Take holiday ornament, Snow Shows, Festive light display, Rides down Mount Sneaux, Photo ops, the new giant snow globe, and all exhibits.

Cost: $10.00 Address: NELA Children's Museum 323 Walnut St, Monroe

December 1- 25

Christmas at Kiroli Drive through a wonderland of Christmas lights at Kiroli Park beginning Friday, November 25th! Season passes will be available to purchase online that allow unlimited trips through the park at night during the holiday season.

Hours: Thurs - Sun 6 - 9:00 PM

Cost: $10.00 per vehicle. $20.00 per commercial bus or large van.

Address: Kiroli Park 820 Kiroli Road, West Monroe Phone: (318) 396-4016

December 1 - 31

Freedom Trees

Check out the Freedom Trees at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum. These patriotic themed trees honor veterans and those currently serving in all branches of the military.

Hours: 5:30 PM

Cost: Free

Address: Chennault Aviation & Military Museum 701 Kansas Ln, Monroe Phone: (318) 362-5540

Candy Cane Lane

Candy Cane Lane is a mile-long wooded drive decorated with over one million Christmas lights. There is even an interactive musical lights display!

Hours: 6 - 10:00 PM

Cost: Family Vehicle-$20.00. Commercial Vehicle- $40.00. Address: Candy Cane Lane 170 Hwy 151 North, Calhoun Phone: (318) 801-0670

Land of Lights

Check out all the light displays in Downtown Monroe & West Monroe beginning at 5:30 pm each night!

Cost: Free Address: Downtown Monroe & West Monroe

'Tis the Season to Sparkle

'Tis the Season to Sparkle at the RiverMarket! Take a peaceful walk under the sparkling Christmas light walk-through at the RiverMarket this holiday season!

Cost: Free

Address: RiverMarket, 316 South Grand Street, Monroe Phone: (318) 329-4947

December 1 - January 7

A Cast of Blues Exhibit

The exhibition includes 15 color photographs of blues artists and the colorful juke joints in which they played.

Hours: Tues-Fri 10 AM - 4 PM.; Sat 10 AM - 2 PM

Cost: Adults- $5.00 (18 and older). Seniors- $3.00. 17 and under- Free.

Address: Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, 1051 Chennault Park Dr, Monroe Phone: (318) 342-8889

November 26 to February 4

Loren Schwerd Exhibition

Loren Schwerd’s work repurposes found materials and

traditional craft techniques that reside between the pliant categories of sculpture and textiles.

Cost: Free Address: Masur Museum of Art 1400 South Grand, Monroe Phone: (318) 329-2237

December 1

Downtown Gallery Crawl

It's time to Crawl! Come and celebrate and experience the work of talented local artists while enjoying the warmth and charm of locally-owned shops, businesses and eateries in Historic Downtown Monroe and West Monroe.

Hours: 5 - 9 PM Cost: Free

December 1-3

Christmas Open House at The Biedenharn

Santa, festive decorations, bright lights, trees, shopping, CocaCola, and Christmas galore! Christmas Open House at The Biedenharn is a wonderland of fun. Hours: 5 - 8 PM Cost: Free Address: Biedenharn Museum & Gardens of Monroe, 2000 Riverside Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

Through the Kaleidoscope

This holiday display of artwork is by Monroe native, Monti Sharp. Look through the kaleidoscope into the whimsical details of this artist's work and life.

Hours: 5 - 9 PM Cost: Free Address: Revival Design, 300 Walnut Street, Monroe

December 1-3

Lincoln Lights Up the Pines

Enjoy Ruston’s premier drivethru Christmas lights display at the beautiful Lincoln Parish Park from the comfort and warmth of your vehicle. Hours: 5:30 PM -10 PM Cost: $10 per vehicle/ $20 per bus Venue: Lincoln Parish Park, 211 Parish Park Rd, Ruston Phone: (318) 255-2031

December 1-4

Elf the Musical Ruston Community Theater presents this fun, family-friendly classic on the Dixie Center for the Arts stage.

Hours: Dec 1-3, 7 PM; Dec 4, 2 PM Cost: Adult: $20/ Student: $10 Venue: Dixie Center for the Arts 212 N Vienna St, Ruston Phone: (318) 255-1450

Magical Madrigal Dinner

Join the royal court of King Henry CMXLII for a night of frolic and fancy you won't soon forget.

Hours: Dec 1 - 3, 6:30 - 8 PM; Dec 4, 2 -3:30 PM

Address: Strauss Theatre Center, 1300 1/2 Lamy Lane, Monroe Phone: (318) 323-6681

December 1 - 6

ULM Holiday Art Sale

Join ULM for their Holiday Art Sale hosted by Kappa Pi, the Honorary Art Society. Handmade items ranging from paintings, prints, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, ornaments, and more will be sold.

Hours: M-F 8 AM - 6 PM; Sat. 9 AM-4 PM.; Sun 12 PM - 5 PM

Cost: Free

Address: ULM Bry Hall Art Gallery Room 113, 700 University Avenue, Monroe Phone: (318) 342-3811

December 2

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Join the City of Monroe as they come together as a community and hold the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Hours: 5:00 - 7:30 PM

Cost: Free Address: Monroe Civic Center, 401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expy, Monroe

December 3

Christmas on the River 5K & Walk

Get your jingle on at the Christmas on the River 5K & Walk in Alley Park! This fun race kicks off the Christmas on the River Festival


day that includes the Kiwanis parade, fireworks, and live music in Alley Park!

Hours: 8:30 AM - 9:30 am Cost: $30.00

Address: Alley Park, 250 Trenton St, West Monroe

North Louisiana Makers and Producers Christmas Market

All items, livestock, and produce are homemade, handcrafted, or hand raised. There will be items such as jewelry, woodworks, coffee, pottery, candles, and so much more!

Hours: 9 AM - 3 PM

Cost: Free

Address: Paramount Healthcare Consultants, 1905 North 7th Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 372-4753

Holly Jolly Breakfast

Enjoy a tasty holiday breakfast with character's from Santa's Spy with Twin City Ballet! You also get to make reindeer food to put out for Santa's reindeer, create crafts, and more.

Hours: 9:30 AM - 12 PM

Cost: General Admission $15.00 Address: Monroe Civic Cente, 401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway, Monroe Phone: (318) 388-3011

Bawcomville Redneck Christmas Parade

Celebrate Christmas Redneck Style! The parade rolls down Smith Street from Riser Elementary School to Jonesboro Road.

Hours: 10:00 am

Address: Smith Street, Bawcomville Phone: (318) 388-5858

Market Noire

Market Noire is presented by the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana. Shop black-owned products from local and regional artisans, vendors, and craft makers.

Hours: 10 - 4 PM

Address: Dazzle Dance, 830 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 953-3673

A Crimson Winter in Paris Holiday Brunch

The Monroe Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presents A Crimson Winter in Paris Holiday Brunch. Enjoy live entertainment from violinist J. Brown, the cast of

The Color Purple, Spoken Word Artist, and more while sipping on bottomless crimson mimosas!

Hours: 11 AM - 2 PM

Cost: $30.00 Per Ticket

Address: Monroe Civic Center, 401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway, Monroe

Kiwanis Club of Greater Ouachita Christmas Parade

Come enjoy the holiday floats, bands, dancers, and more at the annual Christmas Parade!

Hours: 3:30 pm

Cost: Free

Address: Downtown Monroe & West Monroe

Christmas on the River Fireworks

Don't miss out on the Christmas Fireworks on the river! Best viewed from either downtown Monroe or West Monroe, the fireworks will be shot from the Endom Bridge. Hours: 6 PM

Cost: Free Address: Downtown Monroe-West Monroe

Jesse Dale Middleton Band

Join the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1809 Rodney J Hobbs for some great music by the Jesse Dale Middleton Band! Hours: 7 - 11 PM Cost: $10

Address: VFW Rodney J Hobbs Post 1809, 1499 Hwy 594, Monroe Phone: (318) 345-4185

Twin City Ballet Christmas Gala

You must see Twin City Ballet's Christmas Gala performance! The gala will feature a performance of Santa’s Spy as well as a new piece set by local choreographer, Leaia Alsup, which will be sure to fill you with peace and joy.

Hours: 7 PM

Address: Jack Howard Theater, 401 Lea Joyner Expy, Monroe Phone: (318) 388-3011

December 4

Gingerbread House Workshop

This annual Gingerbread House workshop at Children's Museum will become a new family tradition. It includes a gingerbread house, all decorating supplies, and admission to Santa's Christmas Village. Hours: 1 - 3 PM Cost: $40.00

Address: Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, 323 Walnut St, Monroe

Phone: (318) 361-9611

December 8

Flying Tiger Pub Run

Join Fleet Feet at the Flying Tiger Brewery every 2nd Thursday of the month for a free 5K Fun Run / Walk!

Hours: 6 - 7 PM

Address: Flying Tiger Brewery, 506 N 2nd St, Monroe Phone: (318) 855-3146

Holiday Sip and Stroll

Extended shopping hours and specials.

Hours: 5 - 8 PM Cost: Free Venue: Downtown Ruston Phone: (318) 251-8647

Holiday Sing-along Community chorus caroling. Hours: 6:30 PM until Cost: Free Venue: Railroad Park, 101 E. Park Ave. Ruston Phone: (318) 251-8647

December 9-11, 17-18

Strauss Youth Academy for the ArtsA Christmas Carol

Join Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts this holiday season for their Christmas show! This year they are turning Charles Dicken's story, A Christmas Carol, into a thrilling musical!

Address: Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts, 1300 Lamy Lane, Monroe

December 9

Children's Lighted Parade

Light up your bikes, trikes, wagons and battery-powered cars for a parade under the Christmas lights in downtown West Monroe!

Hours: 5 - 8 PM

Cost: Free

Address: Alley Park, 250 Trenton Street, West Monroe

Christmas Gala Night

The Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum is hosting its Christmas Gala Night. Purchase tickets now and celebrate this holiday season immersed in local art and heritage!

Hours: 7 - 9 PM

Cost: Free

Address: Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, 1051 Chennault Park Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 342-8889

Dec. 9-11

Big Creek Trade Days

Big Creek Trade Days are held monthly on the weekend before the second Monday with over 100 indoor and outdoor vendors, food trucks, and fun for all ages!

Hours: Fri. & Sat., 9 AM - 5 PM; Sun., 10 AM - 4 PM

Cost: Free Venue: Big Creek Trade Days Grounds, 327 California Plant Rd, Dubach Phone: (318) 680-1304

December 10

MCDA Cowboy Christmas Classic

The MCDA Cheer and Dance Championship Cowboy Christmas Classic takes place on December 10th starting at 8:00 a.m.

Hours: 8 AM

Cost: Adults- $20.00. Ages 5 to 10$10.00. Ages 4 and Under- Free.

Address: Ike Hamilton Expo Center, 501 Mane Street, West Monroe Phone: (618) 530-7948

Pet Photos with Santa

Go to the Biedenharn Gardens to get your pets' photo taken with Santa Claus! All well behaving pets are welcome. Dogs must be on a leash and other pets should be in a carrier.

Hours: 9 AM - 12 PM Cost: $15.00 per pet Address: Biedenharn Museum and Gardens, 2006 Riverside Dr, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

Ruston Christmas Parade

Floats, trucks, and Santa.

Hours: 10 AM

Cost: Free Venue: Downtown Ruston Phone: (318) 251-8647

Layton Castle Tour

Tour Layton Castle and learn about its revolution from creole cottage

Hours: 10 - 11 AM

Cost: $15.00 Per Ticket Address: Layton Castle, 1133 South Grand Street, Monroe Phone: (318) 322-4869

2022 Calhoun Christmas Parade

This year's theme is Christmas Movies - Old and New. Get ready to see some of your favorite classic movies brought to life on parade floats!

Hours: 11 AM

Cost: Free

Address: Calhoun, Highway 151, Calhoun Phone: (318) 914-1221

Cookies with Santa Cookie decoration station and Santa pictures.

Hours: 11:30 AM - 1 PM

Cost: Free Venue: Historic Fire Station, 200 E. Mississippi Ave. Ruston Phone: (318) 251-8647

Holiday Outdoor Movie

Bring blankets and chairs to enjoy "Home Alone" in Downtown West Monroe's Alley Park, presented by Centric Federal Credit Union. Hours: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Cost: Free Address: Alley Park, 250 Trenton St, West Monroe

Holidays with the MSO

Celebrate the holiday season with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra.

Hours: 7 - 9 PM

Cost: Adult Ticket- $25.00; Student Tickets- $5.00

Address: North Monroe Baptist Church, 210 Finks Hideaway Rd, Monroe

December 11

Santa in the Park

Santa in the Park will have live entertainment and food trucks, with appearances by Santa and his friends. Take photos with Santa for a small fee.

Hours: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Cost: $1.00 Per Person

Address: Kiroli Park | 820 Kiroli Road, West Monroe Phone: 318-396-4016

December 11

Night in Bethlehem

Experience the sights and sounds of the little town of Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. Stroll through the tents and hear amazing testimonies, enjoy baked bread, and work on a craft.l

Hours: 5 - 7 PM

Cost: Free

Address: Whites Ferry Road Church, 3201 North 7th Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 396-6000

December 13-17, 20-22, 27-29

Winter Wonderland

Ruston Sports Complex opens its gates to holiday cheer! The iceskating rink is back this year and open to the public.

Hours: Dec. 13-16, 5-7 PM; Dec. 17, 12-3 PM, 5-7 PM; Dec. 20-22, 5-7 PM; Dec. 27-29, 5-7 PM

Cost: Free Venue: Ruston Sports Complex, 2001 Champions Way, Ruston Phone: (318) 255-5800

December 16

The Frozen Kingdom Ballet &

Coronation Ball

Louisiana Delta Ballet presents "The Frozen Kingdom." Reservations are required, so call to reserve your spot now!

Hours: 6:30 PM

Address: Monroe Civic Center Jack Howard Theater, 401 Lea Joyner Expy, Monroe Phone: (318) 381-7489

December 17

Jingle Bell Run

This year the Monroe Jingle Bell Run will consist of a 10K and 5K with a 2-fold mission. The first is to encourage the community to embrace a more active lifestyle and the second is to rally the community to come together and support the community and its local non profits.

Hours: The 10K run starts at 8:00 a.m. and the 5K Run starts at 8:30 a.m. The Fun Run/Walk begins at 9:30 a.m Cost: 10K Run- $40.00. 5K Run$30.00. Run/Walk- $10.00. Address: Forsythe Park | 2300 Sycamore St, Monroe Phone: (318) 325-4634

Jungle Bells

Don't miss Jungle Bells with the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo for amazing animal encounters, a visit from Santa, bike giveaways, $3.00 train and boat rides, food vendors, shopping, and more! Hours: 10 M - 3 PM

Address: Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, 1405 Bernstein Park Road Phone: (318) 329-2400

Christmas Market on the Alley

Downtown West Monroe presents Christmas Market on the Alley! Don’t miss out on an artisan market with live music and food trucks in Alley Park. Hours: 11 AM - 3 PM Cost: Free Address: Alley Park, 250 Trenton Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 396-2600

December 19-23

Christmas Movie Marathon at the Dixie

Classic Christmas movies every weekday.

Hours: 7 PM

Cost: $5/Ticket Venue: Dixie Center for the Arts, 212 N. Vienna St. Ruston Phone: (318) 255-1450

December 21

Coca-Cola Truck Night Bring the whole family and enjoy some Christmas fun at the Biedenharn with the lighted CocaCola Christmas Truck!

Hours: 4 - 8 PM Cost: Free Address: Biedenharn Museum & Gardens of Monroe, 2000 Riverside Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

December 31

New Year's Eve Party at the VFW Say "Goodbye" to 2022 and "Hello" to 2023 with Mike McKenzie and band at the Monroe VFW!

Hours: 8 PM

Cost: $20.00 Per Ticket

Address: VFW Rodney J Hobbs Post 1809, 1499 Hwy 594, Monroe Phone: (318) 345-4185

A Night Under the Pearls

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Mu Tau Chapter is collaborating with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Omicron Iota Omega Chapter to host a New Year's Eve Ball, The P&G Experience: A Night Under the Pearls. This is a formal/semi-formal ball with a live band, DJ, cash bar, and hors d'oeuvres. Happy New Year! Hours: 9 PM - 2 AM

Cost: $50.00 Per Ticket

Address: Monroe Civic Center, 401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway, Monroe

Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Ruston Farmers Market Shop, eat and support local producers and creators every Saturday morning! Hours: 9 AM - 1 PM Cost: Free Venue: Ruston Farmers Marketplace, 220 E. Mississippi Ave. Ruston Phone: (318) 957-1305