BayouLife Magazine February 24

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Get creative this Valentine’s Day by making wax paper crayon hearts – a fun and colorful activity that will bring joy to your kids.


Get into the festive spirit of Mardi Gras by whipping up a delectable batch of Bananas Foster, where ripe bananas are caramelized and flambéed.


Celebrate romance this Valentine’s Day with a signature drink. The La Violetta is a beautifully balanced blend of créme de violette, gin, lambrusco and lemon juice that creates a refreshing and floral drink that will sweep you off your feet.


Taylor Bennett brings the vibrant spirit of Mardi Gras to life with a stunning centerpiece composed of hydrangeas, white garden roses, eucalyptus and ornamental cabbage.



Create a heartfelt Valentine’s day arrangement by artfully combining roses and tulips with eucalyptus and wrapping the bouquets in a Valentine’s paper tied with a charming ribbon.


Like her artwork, Haven Harrod has a calming energy. Her voice is quiet and soft as she answers questions between sips of iced coffee, mirroring the less intense colors — sage green, slate gray, and white, for example — that often show up in her paintings.

APRIL 2018


Let your kids add a personal touch to their Valentine’s Day celebrations by using rubber stamps to create unique and heartfelt homemade cards.


Because of his lifelong commitment to working toward making a brighter future for generations to come and because of his 27 years of faithful pastoral work, Rev. Ike Byrd, III is our February 2024 Bayou Icon.


West Monroe local Chris Lewis is pushing the bounds of his classic american diner, both in and out of the restaurant, Coney Island Connections.


Step into the spotlight this Valentine’s Day with chic looks from area boutiques. Whether it’s a date night or an evening with friends, these dresses are all pretty in pink.


Since we all want to look and feel our best, BayouLife spoke with three local experts on how to minimize and/or reverse the visual effects of aging. We explored surgical and non-surgical options at various price points.


EBRUARY IS A TIME TO recognize those we love, recognize the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history and gather together to celebrate Mardi Gras and prepare for the Lenton season. It’s a month that the Livingston family celebrates in a big way – both of my girls have birthdays this month, as well as my mom. It’s a party all month long at my house. By the time this issue comes out, the Krewe of Janus and Krewe de Riviere will have already come through the Twin Cities, but things will just be ramping up in New Orleans. My family always makes the trek to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras... especially because my friend, Lauren Davis, and I tend to shower them with beads as we ride with the Krewe of Iris. I love the idea of homemade Valentine’s gifts. On pages 12 and 56, Taylor Bennett takes us through making wax crayon hearts and personalized Valentine’s Day cards. He also pulled together some simple bouquets that are sure to impress your sweetheart. So, this Valentine’s Day, carve some time out with your children, get creative, forage for greenery and give mom/dad the ultimate homemade and thoughtful present. Just about everyone who knows Rev. Ike Byrd, III has something good to say about him and his work at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Monroe, West Monroe, and Ouachita Parish. Rev. Byrd is a compassionate man, committed to his faith and his family – and to the quest for unity among us all during these turbulent times. Although as a young fellow he had dreams of becoming a professional football player or an electrical engineer, God had other plans. I had no idea when we planned this profile that Reverend Byrd was married to Angela Byrd, but we were incredibly fortunate to have her as a


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PUBLISHER & OWNER Cassie Livingston teacher in the 3rd grade. After reading Geogiann’s article on page 74, it seems this power couple is worthy of being this month’s BayouIcon. West Monroe local Chris Lewis is pushing the bounds of his classic American diner, both in and out of the restaurant. his expansive donations and heart for service is why Coney Island Connections is a service-centered cornerstone. Read this BayouEats feature on page 86. Like her artwork, Haven Harrod has a calming energy. There’s confidence in the things she tells BayouLife, and that comes through in her artwork. I first noticed Haven’s beautiful canvases when visiting The Trove last month and bought a small piece to add to my collection. Her calming energy translates easily through her artwork. Read Starla’s interview with Haven on page 96. We hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of BayouLife Magazine. We are your only locally-owned, nonfranchised, home delivered publication in North Louisiana. Thank you for your continued support of local businesses.


COPY EDITOR Cindy Foust GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nathan Coker ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVES Lindsay Adams Katelyn McAllister Courtney Thomas ART DIRECTOR Taylor Bennett LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER Kelly Moore Clark

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dan Chason Kenny Covington Shannon Dahlum Cindy Gist Foust Starla Gatson Paul Lipe Erin Love Meredith McKinnie Georgiann Potts

Delia Simpson Beatrice A. Tatem Vanelis Rivera Guy Miller Kerry Heafner Dominique Beaudry, MD J. Marshall Haynie, MD Rev. Bette Kauffman, PH.D

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Kelly Moore Clark ON THE COVER Rev. Ike Byrd, III and Angela Byrd photographed by KELLY MOORE CLARK

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. 6 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Help Your Heart In February With Ochsner LSU Health BY DOMINIQUE BEAUDRY, MD


VEN BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS CANDY HAD CLEARED from store shelves, Valentine’s Day candy was already making an appearance. While we often focus on love and relationships in February, you may want to consider a new love: your heart. According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana ranks fifth among all states for heart attack rates. The Louisiana Department of Health further revealed that Morehouse Parish in Northeast Louisiana had one of the highest death rates from heart attacks in the state in 2020. Why is Louisiana such an unhealthy heart state? In part, we can blame our lifestyle. If it isn’t fried, we don’t eat it. The food we eat tastes great, but it is not good for our hearts or health. On top of our unhealthy eating habits, we tend not to exercise often. The lack of exercise can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, which rank among the top risk factors for heart disease. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the heart. The reduced blood flow causes heart muscle cells to lose oxygen and die. Subsequent damage to the muscle may result in further cardiac conditions, including arrhythmias and congestive heart failure. It only takes 30 minutes for irreversible damage to occur to the heart muscle from a complete blockage. What should you do if you think you are having a heart attack? Call 911 immediately! The faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage to your heart muscle. Symptoms might include chest pressure or tightness, and pain that radiates to the arm or back. However, not everyone experiences these typical symptoms. Women and diabetics may exhibit more atypical symptoms, such as gastrointestinal discomfort, fainting and shortness of breath. When you arrive at the emergency room, you will likely undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) to help doctors determine if additional tests are warranted. A blood sample may be analyzed for proteins called cardiac enzymes that indicate heart damage. If you have evidence of heart damage or heart attack, you might undergo a procedure called cardiac catheterization to assess your coronary arteries and to open a blocked artery, if necessary. Doctors may also prescribe medications like statins to reduce cholesterol formation in your veins. Beta-blockers might be used to reduce further cardiac 8 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

events. Blood pressure and blood-thinning medications may also be recommended. Heart attack patients are often put on a daily aspirin regimen to prevent dangerous blood clots. There are preventive steps you can take to help avoid a heart attack. First, know your numbers and your risk factors. Your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight significantly affect heart health. Most adults should aim to keep their LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL. Those with certain risk factors (such as established coronary disease and diabetes) should strive for an LDL of less than 70 mg/dL. Achieving a higher value of HDL (good) cholesterol greater than 60 mg/dL can be protective. Other targets include systolic blood pressure below 120, diastolic blood pressure under 80 and a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5-24.9. While medication can help manage high cholesterol and blood pressure, positive lifestyle changes (such as adopting a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, eliminating smoking and limiting alcohol intake) can also make a significant difference in lowering your risk for a heart attack. Managing stress and prioritizing quality sleep help keep your heart healthy. When we feel stressed, we tend to overindulge in unhealthy foods, smoke and drink excess alcohol. Instead, incorporate regular exercise or social visits with family and friends into your routine for stress relief. People with sleep apnea have a higher risk for heart attacks. If you snore loudly or feel exhausted during the day, make an appointment for a sleep evaluation by a sleep specialist. Take good care of your heart, not just in February but every day! Dr. Dominique Beaudry sees patients at Ochsner LSU Health Monroe Medical Center. For more information visit

Celebrate Your Favorite People With Doe’s Eat Place & Beef and Barrel


T’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR WHEN WE FIND THE perfect way to celebrate those perfect people in our lives. If you like to stay in on Valentine’s Day we have some sublime ways to make it a special day. We find that a great Valentine’s Day always starts with a great meal so that’s where we will start. If you want to keep dinner simple but delicious, we highly recommend the Healthy Gourmet Kitchen Tuscan Tortellini and pairing it with the best stop smoked pork sausage with garlic. Brown the sausage and follow the directions included on the package and you’ll have an amazing Tuscan dinner. We have a big variety from Healthy Gourmet Kitchen that can make for an awesome, easy, and inexpensive dinner. We also suggest trying our bone-in pork chops. Our pork comes out of Kansas and is a cross between Duroc and Berkshire for incredible marbling and tenderness. Pair those pork chops with a lighter style red and a twice baked potato for a meal that will have you feeling fat and happy. If you like a great movie on Valentine’s, try out the Amish Country popcorn in either the whole kernel to pop the old school way, or microwave ready bags. The flavor of these popcorns is beyond comparison. If you and your sweetheart like to have wine on this special day we have a few great suggestions. Saint-Hilaire sparkling wine is right at $20 a bottle and punches above its weight in value. Bright and effervescent with flavors of apple, pear, and a touch of sweet citrus. If you need something on the sweet side we suggest the Nicchia Lambrusco. This sweet sparkling red from Italy is a perfect sweet and refreshing treat for the holiday. If you’re not into bubbles, but still want some sweetness, give the Silk Road Alazani a pour. This traditional wine from the country of Georgia is rich and dark with a bright and sweet finish. It isn’t too heavy, but won’t leave you wanting for something bigger. On the dryer side if you like to have pasta on Valentine’s, you should take a peek at the Pastafarian. This is a wine that is perfectly structured to pair with tomato based sauces and pizza with its profile of crushed red berries, pepper, thyme, and currants. For those with loved ones into whiskey, we have some incredible options. First, we have the newest addition to the line from Barrell Bourbon in Foundations. This is a 5-year-old product bottled at 100 proof. For those unfamiliar with Barrell, all of their products


have been bottled at cask strength, this new expression is bottled at a lower proof and has a lower price point to offer a new way to experience their incredible blending prowess. On the palate it has gorgeous notes of caramel, cherry, and vanilla with a smooth and pleasant finish. Next we have the Bywater Bourbon from Seven Three Distilling in New Orleans. This bourbon is a unique blend between a high rye Kentucky bourbon and the proprietary mashbill of corn, wheat, and malted wheat distilled at Seven Three Distilling. The bourbon has a smooth mouthfeel with flavors of honeyed vanilla caramel, and touch of rye spice to give it depth and balance on the finish. If you like a sweet treat a great option would be an adult root beer float. Our suggestion is to combine Buffalo Trace’s Freddie’s Root Beer with Ballotin Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream and some ice cream. This will blow you away and satisfy that sweet tooth. Another sweet delight is Gennessee Candy Land Moose Plop, which is chocolate covered cookie dough bites. We also have a wide variety of their fudges from Reese’s chocolate to cookies n cream. If you like an easy cocktail that is ready to drink you should give the line from Tip Top a shot. They offer 10 different flavors from an Old Fashioned to an Espresso Martini. Their Espresso Martini is one of the best ready to drink coffee cocktails we’ve tried and can be used by itself or as a base for other cocktails. We love their Bee’s Knees with its bright and refreshing flavor of lemon and honey. If you and yours are beer lovers give a little love to the Prairie Artisan Ales Tiny Esses. This kettle sour tastes just like Skittles. This is truly the best way to describe this unique and tasty beer that will have your mouth watering. We hope that you have an incredible celebration of love and happiness this Valentine’s Day and hope that we can make it easier, delicious, and joyous. As always, thank you for letting us be your Spirits Guides here at Beef & Barrel.



Get creative this Valentine’s Day by making wax paper crayon hearts – a fun and colorful activity that will bring joy to your kids.

Fold a sheet of waxed paper in half along its length. Sprinkle wax-crayon shavings (that you make with pencil sharpener) across one-half of the page. Fold the clean half over. Place the waxed paper with shavings on top of kraft paper and lay another piece of kraft paper over the top. Using an iron on medium heat, iron the papers until the crayon is melted. Once the wax is completely melted, trace out hearts of various sizes and cut out. To finish, glue a piece of ribbon on each heart to hang or add to homemade Valentine’s Day cards. ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK




Get into the festive spirit of Mardi Gras by whipping up a delectable batch of Bananas Foster, where ripe bananas are caramelized and flambéed.

WHAT YOU NEED: 1 ounce butter ½ cup light brown sugar ¼ tsp cinnamon 1 ½ ounces banana liqueur 1 ½ ounces aged rum ½ banana per person

Combine butter, sugar and cinnamon in a flambe pan. As the butter melts under medium heat, add the banana liquor and stir to combine. As the saute starts to cook, peel the bananas and add to the pan. Cook the bananas until they begin to soften (around 2 minutes). Tilt back the pan to slightly heat the far edge Once hot, carefully add the aged rum, and tilt the pan toward the flame to ignite the rum. Make sure to stir the sauce to ensure that all the alcohol cooks out. Serve cooked bananas over ice cream and top with sauce in the pan. Add pecans on top. *Recipe from ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK


I Got Love On My Mind The Effects of Love on Our Mental Health BY BEATRICE A. TATEM, PH.D., LPC-S, NCC, ACS


HESE DAYS I GOT LOVE ON MY MIND. IT IS JANUARY 15, 2024, Martin Luther King (MLK) Day, I am sitting in front of the fireplace under ice covered skylights. I am staying in and embracing what nature has provided … a calm, still, snowy, uncharacteristically cold (for Northeast Louisiana) environment. With scented candles burning, a bottle of alkaline water, a bowl of grapes along with a bag of popcorn I am committed to staying in to begin writing this article. I am writing with love on my mind and in my spirit. Why am I writing about love? These days I believe we can all use more love and affection. Research shows that when love is part of our being, our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls are healthier. This article is about love being fundamental to personal health, wellbeing, particularly our mental health. Last month I wrote about getting and being on track, making positive changes, after challenges derail us. I used the train symbolically for being on track in life physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Getting and being on track means different things to different people. For some it means exercising, eating clean and healthier foods, working smarter and less while resting more. For others it has meant reflecting, slowing down, taking a pause to focus on one’s mind, to sit with self, to self-care to love self. In my opinion slowing down is healthy and beneficial, yet admittedly difficult, due to the busyness in life. Many at the end of 2023 and the start of 2024 slowed down, by choice, and in response to occurrences in life resulting in both necessary and desired change. It is now February the month society sets aside to show love. It is the time of the year when society intentionally focuses on all that is associated with love: affection, admiration, happiness, connections, intimacy, romance, social support, trust, acceptance. When people think of love, they often think of romantic love especially during February. Most would agree that love is a powerful force beyond reason. Love has been defined in several ways: deep affection, unconditional positive regard, great interest or pleasure in someone or something. As part of the human experience love can heal, and the loss of love can deeply hurt. Love is a feeling that is known, felt, individually interpreted, and usually experienced on a spectrum. Love can exist alongside other emotions including mutual support, understanding and respect whether the relationships are friendships, familial, with self or romantic. Loving relationships take time and effort but can be developed into fulfilling connections that thrive. This year, February is a special month for me. It marks a career symbolic of my love for the mental health profession, the services provided, and the people served. After many years of practicing in the university setting the decision to practice privately was made. It has been a decade 16 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

since Wellness Initiatives welcomed its’ first client. At Wellness Initiatives, LLC it is believed everyone can use a bigger dose of genuine love. This has been my motivation to take a closer look at love, its meanings and how it has been incorporated into a treatment and healing approach to mental well-being. My clients remain at the heart of what I do professionally. Some may ask what’s love got to do with mental health? Through work endeavors I am reminded frequently that the mental health benefits of love and social connections are vast. Science shows that love is more than just an isolated feeling. Science reveals love involves multiple neurotransmitters and hormones that affect our physiology and mental health. Studies have shown love lowers rates of anxiety and depression, while impacting our level of happiness and our state of mind. What does this psychologist say about self-love and self-care? I have learned that taking care of one’s mental health is an act of self-love. Self-love motivates us to make healthy and sound choices in life. When we hold ourselves in high esteem, we are more likely to choose things that nurture our well-being. With love on my mind and in my heart this lover of life, believer in the benefits of good mental health recommends the following. Be open to giving and receiving love. Love all. Follow your heart when feasible and go into each day with love. Love your mind and seek therapy when desired. Taking care of your mind allows you to be your best loveable, loving self. Hug it out with a friend. Love your mental health not as a resolution but as a routine you incorporate into a lifestyle. Always, be mindful love equals affection, interest, appreciation, and respect. When giving and showing love to others make sure you give some of it to yourself. Feed your mind, soul and heart with a feast of loving gestures. Live longer and stronger with love. Look for healthy love and avoid sleepwalking through unhealthy relationships. Strive to live a mentally healthy life with real authentic love. Where is the love? I believe where there is love there are feelings of hope, joy, peace, optimism, support, and security. With the knowledge and awareness that love has power on the mind, we must all work towards a greater understanding, appreciation of love for self with self and love for one another. When we choose to act kindly and lovingly towards ourselves or someone else, were choosing health, wellness and improved quality and quantity of life. The thought of love ignites my imagination for living better and helping others to live better and more deeply. From my heart to your heart, give love, be love, share love and help to spread love. For more information about counseling services and outreach programming contact Dr. Tatem at Wellness Initiatives, LLC, 2485 Tower Drive, Suite 10, Monroe, La 71201, 318-410-1555 or at


Elite Care for Your Heart At St. Francis Health


HEN IT COMES TO MATTERS OF HEART HEALTH, your heart’s in the right place at St. Francis Medical Center. Our cardiovascular experts are committed to preventing heart disease and providing patients with the latest and most effective treatments. St. Francis is accredited as a Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). We’re the only recipient in Northeast Louisiana for the ACC’s Platinum Performance Award thanks to our high standard of heart attack care. Our highly skilled team provides care that includes: • Patient-focused, collaborative surgical treatment • A customized care plan for patients’ unique health needs • Northeast Louisiana’s most advanced hybrid operating room, with innovative technology and imaging capabilities that help to improve patient outcomes and quality of care • The region’s first and only provider of the left atrial appendage closure procedure for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation • Percutaneous (through the skin) valve replacements or repairs, such as the innovative transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and MitraClip • The region’s leader in cardiac catheterization and coronary interventions for high-risk patients • Traditional open-heart surgery REGION’S BEST HEART ATTACK TREATMENT At St. Francis Medical Center, we know what’s at stake during a heart attack. That’s why we’ve brought together the most advanced emergency heart care technology and a dedicated team ready to respond at a moment’s notice. You and your family can take comfort knowing your heart is in the right place with our ACC-accredited Chest Pain Center. Through seamless coordination between our emergency physicians and paramedics at the scene, we’ve dramatically reduced the time to treatment — saving many more lives along the way. If you think you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive to the hospital. Survive, don’t drive! STATE-OF-THE-ART ENDOVASCULAR PROCEDURES These innovative procedures use a catheter inserted through the skin to diagnose and treat vascular disease. Endovascular procedures include: • Endovascular repair of aortic aneurysms in the abdomen or chest (EVAR, TEVAR) 18 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

• Endovascular repair of aortic dissections • Stent-graft implantations • Endovascular treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD) with angioplasty and stenting, • Embolization of visceral artery aneurysms and vascular malformations and hybrid (part open and part endovascular) intervention to treat complex vascular problems UNIQUE STRUCTURAL HEART PROGRAM Structural heart disease is a relatively new subspecialty in cardiovascular disease care. Structural heart disease refers to abnormalities of the “larger structures” of the heart, including the heart walls, valves and muscles. These abnormalities can be present at birth (congenital) or can develop later in life. These conditions are evaluated, discussed and treated using a multidisciplinary team of cardiac specialists, including cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists and advanced cardiac imaging specialists. The evaluation process usually includes cardiac imaging technologies such as ultrasound, CT scan, X-ray and MRI. Many structural heart diseases were traditionally treated with open heart surgery. Today, technology has allowed for less invasive strategies to treat many of these conditions using catheter-based devices delivered via a peripheral vein or artery, usually via “groin” access. These diseases can include: • Aortic valve stenosis • Mitral valve stenosis and insufficiency • Tricuspid insufficiency • Pulmonic valve stenosis • Paravalvular leaks • Atrial septal defects • Patent foramen ovale • Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy • Atrial fibrillation unable to take oral anticoagulants • Ventricular septal defects • Pulmonary vein stenosis COMPREHENSIVE CARDIAC REHABILITATION Our Cardiac Rehab program is conveniently located at the St. Francis Community Health Center on Tower Drive. This medically supervised program helps patients recover quickly and provides resources and education to prevent future heart issues. For more information on our care for your heart visit


La Violetta

Celebrate romance this Valentine’s Day with a signature drink. The La Violetta is a beautifully balanced blend of créme de violette, gin, lambrusco and lemon juice that creates a refreshing and floral drink that will sweep you off your feet. ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK

WHAT YOU NEED: 1 ounce Boodles London dry gin 1/2 ounce crème de violette 1/2 ounce lemon juice 1 ounce lambrusco Dehydrated lemon wheel Add gin, créme de violette and lemon juice into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a coupe glass.Top with the lambrusco and stir gently. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.




etting rid of clutter and organizing the essentials isn’t just about devising a new storage system. It should be about figuring out why you are holding on to the stuff in the first place. You might have tried to get organized many times, but you find yourself eventually reverting to chaos. That is because you have not figured out why! I have said many times – being organized is a permanent lifestyle change. Just like a diet, a business, and even our hairstyles, if they are not maintained on a permanent basis, they will inevitably take a downward spiral. Being organized and clearing clutter will have an immediate and permanent effect on you and your family. Less clutter means you won’t have so much housework, which means more family time. You will also be much healthier in the long run. What makes your home look better also boosts how you feel physically. • Increased immunity – Clutter makes it tough to really get in there to disinfect and scrub spaces. The mess can result in dust, germs, and even mold. • Brain boost – There have been numerous studies that show a cluttered area can cause unneeded distractions and cause brain fog and procrastination. Organize and immediately receive a brain boost! • Energy surge – Clutter leads to fatigue. Specifically, decision fatigue. Decision fatigue occurs when everything you look at, and therefore think about, is calling out for attention and action. When many things compete for our visual attention, it takes much more energy to stay on task. Now, let’s get onto why you are holding onto items and remaining cluttered. You could suffer from one, or all, of the hang ups below. But don’t worry! These are all completely natural and I will give you actions to take to combat them. 1. Guilt – The number one reason you may be holding on to items is guilt. When you hold onto Grandma’s chair and Dad’s old records, but they are hogging much needed space, you are confusing belongings with relationships. You are most likely thinking that if you let go of these items, that you are letting go of the memories themselves. You can most certainly retain memories and let go of unusable items at the same time. If you can’t display or use something, let it go. It

may sting just a tad, but you will recover and be happier for it in the future. Here are a few ways to retain the memories, but let go at the same time: • Write a few memories that you have about the item, take a picture of it, and frame the note and the picture together. • If the collection is large , keep only one or two pieces. For instance, one of my clients inherited her grandmother’s china, but had no way to store it, much less use it. She chose to keep one set of the teacups, and she uses it religiously to enjoy her nightly cup of tea. That one teacup means more to her than the entire set ever would. • Let’s say the things you are holding onto are pictures, letters, or papers. Purchase or utilize a bin with a top. Label it keepsakes and fill it with whatever your heart desires. The trick is to let go of everything else that will not fit into the bin. So, choose wisely and go into the process knowing that some things will have to go. You may also want to leave room for “future things.” 2. Indecision – You don’t want to expend the brain power to make decisions on items, so you procrastinate and the situation gets worse. This is indecision. You feel like you are giving yourself a break. but you are actually making it harder on yourself for the future. Below are my tips for combating indecision. • Just start! Take one stack, drawer, or space, set a timer for ten minutes and take action immediately. If you feel like doing more after the ten minutes is up, keep going; otherwise set a date to go through these motions again and again until the area is organized. • Stop adding to or creating new piles immediately. For instance, when you go to the mailbox today, go straight to the trash can and toss trash mail, place items in a “todo” folder or tray, and do not add anything to a pile. Creating a new habit and system will make it easier to control the current chaos and prevent it in the future. 3. Procrastination – Simply put, you are neglecting your responsibilities. For instance, not putting items back where they go after using them is simply procrastination. Procrastination breeds clutter. This can be a simple habit to break, too, so don’t fret.

• Starting today, when you take your shoes off, put them up. • Create a drop zone for backpacks and schoolwork. Point the direction immediately upon entering the house. This will become habit for your kids, too. • Create a habit of clearing trash from your vehicle while pumping gas or at the end of each day. Add a deep clean to your Sunday to-do list. • Save ten minutes just before bed to make a clean sweep through the house and return any items to their home. 4. Unrealistic Expectations – Maybe you are holding onto clothes that haven’t fit for years or you are holding on to projects that you have no plans of starting. This is wishful thinking. also known as unrealistic expectation. We all suffer from this trap, including me! I frequently have to schedule time to complete a project or ditch it altogether. Here are a few more options for combating unrealistic expectations: • Old clothes that are too small are probably making you feel bad every time you look at them, so ditch them now and dress the body you have now. If you get down to your ideal weight, reward yourself with new clothes! • Keep a “donate” bin in your closet. When it gets full, take it to your preferred donation location. • Limit the number of craft projects you take on unless you have the room to store them all. Set deadlines for each one and buy only what is needed for that particular one. • Do you have a lot of kitchen appliances and utensils but don’t like to cook or bake? That is me 100%! That is why I limit the items in my kitchen to necessities only. • Do you have a ton of books but no time to read them? Pare them down and purchase a kindle or visit your local library. I love books and have a good collection. Once I read a book, I donate it or, if I want to refer back to it, I keep it. I also make time to read daily. Once you know why you are holding onto items, it is so much easier to develop a plan of attack. As you tackle each project. you will gain clarity, confidence, and momentum! But, as always, if you have any trouble. don’t hesitate to contact me!


Refresh Your Home This Spring Material Things Features Home Decor & More Along With a 25% Discount During February


S I AM TYPING THIS, WE ARE homebound because of a somewhat rare ice and snow storm here in Northeast Louisiana! So, I am taking this time to get my thoughts together for the coming months ahead. If you are like me, when Christmas is over and all of the decorations are put away, there is a sense of wanting to change something in your home and this is the ideal time to start that process. Spring is just around the corner and with that comes a sense of rebirth and renewal. This is the perfect time to add some new life into your home. During the month of February, we are excited to offer 25% off of all special order items including: Fabric, Trim And Wallpaper: From Scalamandre to Fabricut and everything in between, I have access to anything you are looking for, for all of your home décor needs. In my work space/design area of the shop, I have numerous books and fabric swatches to fulfill all tastes and styles. I offer modern, as well as the tried and true traditional wallpaper swatches and books. If I don’t have the swatch of something that you are looking for, I’m sure that I can source it for you. Drapery Hardware: Drapery hardware company selections include Antique Drapery Hardware, Paris Texas Hardware, The Finial Company, and Graber. These companies offer an endless array of styles, finishes, sizes and options that will compliment anyone’s personal décor. The Antique Drapery Hardware Company is typically my go to company to order from-they offer the super popular French return drapery rod, this is the rod that I would say I sell 90% of the time. It’s sleek yet traditional and deletes the need for 24 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

separate brackets and finials. Upholstered Furniture: The MT Company is my number one company that I order from for upholstery. They are made in High Point, NC and offer a full lineup of options and standards that you expect from American made furniture. In my design area, I have their full selection of fabrics to choose from. And, if they don’t have what you are looking for, then I can order any fabric and have it sent to them to use on the piece of furniture that you have selected. Gabby is another upholstered line that I frequently use and they also have the same wonderful US standards. And, I actually just got an email from The MT Company saying that they are definitely back to their normal shipping timeframes! As long as fabrics are in stock, their turnaround time is 6 weeks-which is phenomenal. Window Treatments: Not everyone can use the standard length ready made drapery panels that are available online or off the shelf. My workrooms can fabricate any window treatments. This is where Material Things comes in and can measure your space, help pick your fabric and fabricate them. I also offer installation on any product that my workrooms make. I use several different workrooms and each of them are wonderful. Bedding: I offer several different bedding lines including Traditions Linens, Lili Alessandra and Libeco. Traditions Linens has been the company that I order from the most-they have so many different styles and looks to choose from, including matelasse coverlets, printed and solid linens, vintage washed velvets as well as sheets and bath towels. TL items are washer and dryer safe. Lili Alessandra is a “touch of glamour yet

practical” company that offers an extensive lineup of washer and dryer safe items as well. Libeco is the ultimate destination for Belgian Linen of the highest quality. They offer cut yardage of their fabrics as well as finished goods such as bedding, table linens and tote bags. Shades: Graber offers a shade line, Tradewinds Natural, and they are phenomenal. I have these in my home and love them. They can be unlined, privacy lined or blackout lined as well as have cord or no cord. My workrooms can also fabricate Roman shades that are made from the fabric of your choosing. We also offer installation on these. Case Goods: This may not be an area of home decor that you are totally familiar with. Basically what this refers to would be your small pieces of furniture such as side tables, chests, benches, sofa tables, cocktail tables and such. I access many different companies for pieces like this. Here are just a few-Uttermost, Port Eliot, Port 68, Worlds Away and so many more. If you are looking for something from one of these companies, then let me know and I’ll get it ordered for you! Not only does Material Things offer many options when it comes to fabric, custom drapes, furniture, bed linens and more, but I have a large selection of gift items, lighting, along with antique and vintage finds. From designer showrooms to hidden markets, Material Things has treasures from all over the world! So, stop in and let’s get your home refreshed just in time for spring!

XOXO - Joyce




“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”


hristmas is a time for reading the classics, or so I believe. I kept Betty Smith’s novel on my shelf for the last few years, waiting for the perfect moment to indulge. The story is set at the turn of the century in the poverty-stricken and immigrant-populated Brooklyn. Dominated by the Irish, Germans, East European Jews, and Italians, all vying for the American dream, this area is rife with hardship and the pressures of generational poverty. We meet little Francie Nolan, a young girl sitting on the steps of a tenement, glancing at a tree pushing its way through the concrete, a metaphor for our heroine and her journey in this little neighborhood of Williamsburg. Francie is not the favored child. Her determined, laboring mother Katie has little time for emotion and believes the family’s best financial bet is supporting the pursuits of Francie’s young son. Being illiterate, Katie wants more for her children and insists on one day owning property, the sign of prosperity. Francie’s lovable, yet wayward father Johnny struggles for long term employment. As a singer, Johnny overindulges in alcohol and spends what little money the family acquires to support his habit. When tragedy strikes, the family must find a way to survive. Francie learns to read and escapes in her books. As many

children do, Francie expresses herself in tall tales until one teacher advises her to save the exaggerations for the page. Francie composes stories and tidbits from the world around her, chronicling the lives of people the literature often ignored. The women are the backbone of this American novel. Besides Francie and her mother Katie, Francie’s aunt Sissy experiences heartbreaking loss and countless romantic scandals that isolate her from the community. Sissy ignores the ramblings on the block and keeps believing in love and chasing it with all her follies. “I know that’s what people say-- you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him.” As Francie ages, she must choose between school and work, between the chance to better her life or keep her family afloat in the meantime. Betty Smith’s impeccable attention to detail carries the novel, as the story is based on her own experience growing up a second-generation immigrant in Brooklyn. The story is a time capsule of a time long past, yet oddly still present in the human experience. “Sometimes I think it’s better to suffer bitter unhappiness and to fight and to scream out, and even to suffer that terrible pain, than to just be... safe. At least she knows she’s living.”




Alumni Spotlight ULM Alum: Kandice Hunter Sanders


ANDICE NICOLE HUNTER SANDERS IS A NATIVE of Monroe, Louisiana. She is the daughter of Herbert and Jennett Hunter. She is happily married to Dr. Bret Sanders and has 2 adorable Yorkies–Bruno and Jax. Growing up as an only child, Kandice had a strong desire to build meaningful relationships. After graduating from Ouachita Parish High School, Kandice considered moving away for college. However, both her mom and dad stressed the practicality and benefits of staying close to home. Her mother, having received her bachelor’s and advanced degrees from Northeast Louisiana University, was able to share firsthand with Kandice how having a familiar environment and family support enhanced one’s ability to successfully navigate college. Kandice cheered throughout high school. Another key component that influenced Kandice in the direction of ULM was her high school cheer coaches, Trey Griffin and Jennifer Ivey, as they were also the cheer coaches at ULM. They strongly encouraged Kandice to consider continuing her love for cheer at ULM. It was becoming clear to Kandice that all the positive roads and potential successes led to her attending ULM! Kandice dove into the ULM campus experience wholeheartedly. She joined Maroon Platoon, a freshman student spirit support group for ULM athletic teams. Along with serving as freshman maid on the 2005 Homecoming Court, she was also a member of the ULM All-Girl Cheer team. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience of cheering on the Warhawks! What could have been a challenging academic experience was made easier by Kandice feeling a sense of comfort at ULM. Her academic achievements soared in this familiar environment. In the fall of 2007, Kandice was initiated into Theta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Incorporated which was the same chapter and sorority that her mother was initiated into in 1979. The community service component that AKA provided further filled her need for connection. Kandice appreciated the opportunity to give back to her community. Building relationships extended to her on-campus employment at the Office of Recruitment and Admissions. Now ULM Vice President Lisa Miller took Kandice under her wing, involving the freshman student in new networking opportunities, campus tours, family visits, and assisting new students with the application process. 28 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

When it came to academics, Kandice searched for the right field of study. She eventually found her fit and graduated in the first class with a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies. This degree would allow Kandice the opportunity to pursue her dream in a career field that would allow her to help and serve others. Her initial career plan was to attend physician assistant school. Although that journey did not go as planned, she still had a strong desire to pursue a career path that would allow her to help and care for others. She prayed for guidance and sought the advice of former professors. One suggested nursing, insisting that Kandice’s compassionate and enthusiastic nature would be a perfect fit for nursing. Kandice returned and graduated from the Kitty Degree School of Nursing in 2013. While it was a challenging academic journey, Kandice knew she was well-prepared to work in healthcare. The relationships Kandice built with her nursing professors continue to undergird her career trajectory. She still calls on her professors for advice and encouragement. ULM School of Nursing helped Kandice transform professionally and academically. After working in the nurse residency program at St. Francis Medical Center, Kandice accepted her first full time RN position as a med-surg nurse and then moved to the ICU. Eager to expand her knowledge, Kandice enrolled in the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nursing Practitioner Program at ULM and graduated in the first class in 2017. She later obtained a Family Nurse Practitioner certification. After working in primary care, urgent care, and OBGYN, Kandice yearned to return to the inpatient side of medicine. Kandice currently works as a Hospitalist Nurse Practitioner at Ochsner LSU Health in Monroe and as a Nurse Practitioner for Compassus Hospice. As a freshman student at ULM, Kandice didn’t understand the impact ULM would have on her life. She now appreciates ULM’s investment in this community, and how the institution prepares the next generation of healthcare providers thus ensuring our community exceeds quality healthcare standards. Being a ULM graduate is a source of pride for Kandice. She is well-educated, well-connected, and serving in a familiar environment that is professionally and spiritually gratifying. The momentum continues as she is a proud Lifetime Alumni Member as well as a ULM Alumni Association Board Member.


Fishing with Kenny Old Tricks of the Trade article by K E N N Y COV I N GTO N


ass fishing is an ever-changing game. Every year, there seems to be new lures, techniques, anything under the sun to help us catch more fish. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and easy to get lost and confused by all the new ideas and products that seem to be continuously introduced. Sometimes, so much we forget just how effective we were or are, fishing lures and techniques now thought to be old. In this month’s Bayou Life “Fishing with Kenny” article, I want to revisit some older lures, techniques and tips that, to be honest, seem to have gone by the wayside. I have said on many occasions, there is nothing really “new” in our sport, just some things are redeveloped and made to be better. Or is this really the case? My first example on the “old but still effective” list is the family of Bomber crankbaits. I can remember when a 6A Bomber was a staple in any serious angler’s tackle box when fishing our area lakes, especially the Ouachita River and its tributaries. The Bomber 4A was great for early springtime and the Flat A was deadly when the water temps got into the 40’s. I few years ago I did well in a February tournament with a chartreuse colored 4A, slowly reeling it around seawalls. I honestly believe I did well in that tournament because I was showing the fish a lure they had never seen before. When was the last time you saw anyone throwing a Carolina rig? With the introduction of the Drop Shot and Shakey Head, a lot of anglers don’t even consider a C-rig to be a viable option, even though it still catches a lot of fish. It maintains its effectiveness by simply switching the soft plastic of choice to match the season. In the wintertime, I like a Zoom Centipede or a 4-inch finesse worm. In the early spring through the beginning of summer I wills switch to a 6-inch Lizard. Once summer begins I will most likely go with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. In the fall, once the fish become baitfish oriented, I like to use a shad imitation like a Fluke. When the Chatterbait was introduced several years ago, I looked at it as another variation of a spinnerbait. I learned that due to the fish catching effectiveness of a Chatterbait, less fishermen are using a spinnerbait, especially the single blade models, which I believe are the most overlooked version of a spinnerbait. My favorite times to fish the single Colorado blade models, is when the water is 55 degrees and below, and has a good stain to it. Another version of a spinnerbait I can honestly tell you I have never seen another angler use is a single willowleaf version. A single #4 willow leaf on a 3/8 ounce spinnerbait with a shad colored skirt is deadly around submerged grass from April through November. Now that I think about it, when was the last time you Texas rigged your favorite plastic worm and simply “worm fished” an


area. With the number of soft plastic stick baits, creature baits and everything else in between, I can’t remember the last time I saw an actual plastic worm tied on in someone’s boat. Guess what folks? It still catches fish. I have found it is especially effective on heavily pressured lakes, simply because they don’t see one very often. Here is a good example of what I am talking about…. Years ago, while practicing for a tournament on Lake Darbonne, I saw an elderly gentleman methodically work an area covered by flooded willow bushes, swimming a weightless 12-inch worm through the cover. I can still hear the windbreaking cast of his Lew’s Speed Stick and the whine of his Ambassdeur 5000, but I also hear the four-pound bass that exploded on his swimming worm. What intrigued me the most was I had already fish through this area, believing I had left no stone unturned. All it took was age, experience and open-mindedness to prove us wrong. When I got close enough to have a conversation, I asked him if he minded explaining what he was doing. With a chuckle, he said, “I catch them a lot bigger than that last one you saw me catch. No one ever fishes this way and figure if I am just patient enough, I will catch and find fish no one else is fishing for.” His logic has held a place in my tackle box ever since. Do you own a grub or a Lil George for winter time fishing? When was the last time you tied on a Norman Little N crankbait? What size monofilament line do you spool up these days? When was the last time you turned off the thousands of dollars of electronics on your boat and just went fishing? Years ago, the sport of fishing was much less complicated and never give a second thought to what we might be missing. As anglers, we were more in tune with the fish, their environment as well as our own. My how things have changed. Recently I began sorting through my lifetime collection of fishing tackle and much to my surprise, I have found a few “gems” from days gone by. I found a box of floating Rapala’s I once religiously used in the springtime. I found a large collection of Slug-Oh’s, still new in the packages, I had kept. Also, much to my surprised, I found a zip lock bag full of Herb’s Dilly’s, one of the original buzzbaits from back in the early 1970’s. All these lures will still catch fish, all I need to do is add water! Well, it looks like we have run out of space for another month. I hope we were able to share a few “out of the box” ideas that will help you put more fish in your boat on your next fishing trip. Be careful out on the water and make sure you catch one for me! See you next month!


Heart Healthy Eating St. Francis Dietitian Shares Recipes


T CAN BE HARD TO LISTEN TOYOUR HEART IFYOUR STOMACH is growling too loudly. Nourishing your body well is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. Jen Bay Avis, MEd, LDN, RD, CDE, outpatient dietitian with St. Francis Medical Group, shares some heart-healthy recipes; two that will make great dinner options and two to tempt your sweet tooth while sticking to your nutritional goals. But first, let’s look at some of the basics of heart-healthy eating: 1. Eat less saturated fat. Cut back on fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. Foods like pizza, burgers and creamy sauces or gravy shouldn’t be a big part of your diet. 2. Cut down on sodium (salt). Read the Nutrition Facts label on food products to help you choose foods that are lower in sodium. Items like canned soups, canned vegetables, packaged meals and snack foods can often be high in sodium, so look for labels like “low sodium” or “no salt added” on these products. 3. Get more fiber. Eat vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains to add much-needed fiber to your diet. Check out our outpatient dietitian’s delicious heart-healthy recipes below: EASY CABBAGE CASSEROLE • 1 head of cabbage or 2 bags of angel hair shredded coleslaw mix • 1 pound ground meat (93/7), deer meat or turkey meat • Chopped onion • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes • Seasonings: Garlic, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, 1 teaspoon beef base (no need to add salt when using beef base) • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese Place the cabbage or coleslaw mix in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Brown the meat with onions and seasonings. Pour meat mixture over the cabbage. Season the tomatoes with garlic, black pepper and additional dill weed to taste. Pour that over the meat, cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour at 375 degrees. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese after the mixture has cooked for 1 hour and allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes. This can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and baked the next day. Nutritional information for different meat choices based on six generous servings: Meat Calories Carbs/Fiber Fat/Saturated Fat Sodium


93/7 Ground Beef: 199 28 gm 7gm/5 gm 7.0 gm/3.5 gm 206 mg Ground Turkey: 175 21 gm 7gm/5 gm 7.0 gm/2.0 gm 250 mg Ground Deer Meat: 123 24 gm 7gm/5 gm 3.0 gm/1.5gm 193 mg LASAGNA SOUP • Serves 4 – 6 as an entrée • 8 ounces lasagna noodles with curly edges, broken into pieces • 12 ounces grass-fed beef (get the lowest fat available) or deer meat • 12 ounces Italian sausage, bulk sausage • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed • 1 small onion, finely chopped • 4 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic • 1 quart chicken stock • 1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes • 2 cups tomato purée • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn • 1 cup fresh ricotta • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or freshly grated Parmesan cheese • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese • Fresh parsley for garnish Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles approximately three minutes shy of the total cooking time recommended on box directions. In a soup pot, cook the meat until done. Add seasonings, onions and garlic. Cook for approximately five minutes. Add chicken stock and whole tomatoes. Use a spoon to smash the tomatoes. Cook approximately 15 minutes until the flavors combine. Add the noodles to the soup. Allow to cook until al dente. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan and mascarpone cheeses. Season with a little black pepper. Serve in soup bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of the cheese mixture. Optional: garnish with parsley. Nutritional information based on 1 cup serving with 1 tablespoon cheese: Meat Calories Carbs/Fiber Fat/Saturated Fat Grass-fed Beef: 225 Cal, 15 gm Net Carb, 11 gm fat/5 gm SF Deer Meat: 214 Cal, 15 gm Net Carb, 9.5 gm fat/4.5 gm SF It takes more than healthy eating to protect your heart — and your overall health. Annual checkups with a primary care provider are the place to start. Connect with one at



Taylor Bennett brings the vibrant spirit of Mardi Gras to life with a stunning centerpiece composed of hydrangeas, white garden roses, eucalyptus and ornamental cabbage. White tapers are tied with green, gold and purple ribbons while beautiful napkins from Material Things create a festive and enchanting atmosphere. ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK

Special thanks to Cecilia and Cole Sullivan for letting us use their home. Sources: Florals from Carlstedt’s, plates from Walsworth & Company, stemless glasses from Haven, chargers and napkins from Material Things.





Here we have some strong foes that I REMEMBER something of the stand in the way of my granddaughter anxiety that plagued me in the fall and her fiancée establishing the kind of 1962 as the day of my marriage of marriage that would please their rapidly approached. I was scared Lord and that would be fulfilling to almost out of my senses as I their Christian desires. contemplated what lay ahead for me. Does this mean that there is, then, I was engaged to a young lady who no hope that we can find to help in was highly qualified to be the wife this attempt to please God in our of a pastor. My concern was the fear families? By no means! Just as there that my qualifications for the role of are obstacles to building a Christian any kind of a husband were hard to home, there are also graces that are find! I was challenged already with our allies. It is true that each of us the task of being a pastor; now I was has a sinful nature, it is also true that to be a husband, too. every person who trusts Jesus for This month, marriage is back on salvation has been regenerated and my radar. Thank the Lord, it is not is a new creation with the potential of a wedding for me, such a thing is denying self and of living for Christ nowhere near my radar! The wedding – this new nature dominates the old, in mind is the up-coming marriage THERE ARE SO MANY FACTORS THAT MILITATE giving victory to the believer as he of one of my grand-daughters. The AGAINST THE SUCCESSFUL ESTABLISHMENT seeks to “walk” in harmony with the anxiety level is nowhere near that Savior. of our wedding, but is more of a OF A BIBLICAL HOME IN TODAY’S CLIMATE Countering the negative impact concern that there are so many factors of our culture, is the powerful that militate against the successful establishment of a Biblical home in today’s climate. Both the bride and encouragement of our church families. Within those families are couples her intended are committed Christians, but the task ahead for them who have been successful in implementing the Lord’s pattern for a offers some strong opposition. Below are a few of the things I hope to Biblical home. These can provide encouragement and support to the newly weds who are just beginning their lives together. Their positive say to them as preparation for their exciting journey ahead. First, there will be obstacles in the path that could work in examples can counter the efforts of those who battle against a Christian opposition to their desire to establish a Christian home. The first foe will home. Finally, the devil himself, though much stronger than any of us be provided by the bride and groom, themselves. You see, each one of us is a sinner, even my adorable granddaughter! And it is the nature who are humans, is dominated by the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of sin to be selfish. We want things to go our way, and when the groom Christian. “Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.” pushes for one way and the bride contends for another, that is not good. With His help, the help of the Church family, and a disciplined exercise A second opponent to the formation of a Christian home is the current of the spiritual gifts God has given each of us, our marriages can be full trend in our society. We are not living in a time when being a follower of hope for success and joy. I pray this for my granddaughter and her of Christ affords one much acceptance. The homes usually depicted in intended! Incidentally, my fears way back in1962 were soon overcome as God movies or on TV are not the kind that Christians strive for. The strongest foe facing newly weds comes from the devil himself. Obviously, he does made our marriage a 59-year long adventure of joy and ministry to the glory of Him who gave us one another. God is good! not want homes that welcome Jesus and do their best to please Him.

ar t i c le b y PAU L L I PE o p in io n e x p re s s e d is t h a t o f t h e w r it e r





“Shrines of Gaiety” by Kate Atkinson

“Some people were complete in themselves, as if born from the earth or the ocean, like some of the gods. Which was not a compliment. The gods were ruthlessly indifferent to humanity.”


ritically-acclaimed author Kate Atkinson had evaded me to this point. I had never heard the name nor recognized any of her previous titles. But as historical fiction has surfaced as my passion of late, I was intrigued by the novel’s promise of indulging the underbelly of 1920s London. Soho’s ruthless nightclub Queen Nellie Coker is just released from prison. Swept into her iconic Bentley and escorted to one of her five nightclub establishments, Nellie’s presence shakes the foundation of her six adult children who’ve evaded their mother’s watchful eye. The dysfunctional family persists due to a steady flow of cash funneling through the clubs that offer London’s elite and well-connected a place to cut loose. Nellie knows her nightclub empire is on the brink of collapse, either from the local officials who smell blood or the business partners who want nothing more than to dethrone the Queen. When new detective Frobisher sets his sights on the Coker family empire as the source of a string of murders of young women, Nellie and the detective play a lurid game of cat and mouse. Gwendolen, a former librarian and nononsense woman, comes to town in search of her friend’s daughter Freda and her friend Florence, one of many provincial girls who steal away to London for a chance at


stardom. Dodging the groping hands of the powerful and the pangs of hunger, Freda and Florence are willing to endure it all to not have to trudge back home and admit defeat well, one more so than the other. Gwendolen teams up with Frobisher, agreeing to spy on the Coker family in hopes of finding Freda and Florence. Atkinson shows the lure of the den of iniquity is strong in post World War 1 London, as any feeling of security was zapped by the former conflict. It took me a minute - okay several chapters - to get into this book. As I rarely condemn a novel to DNF (did not finish), I kept trudging and like Gwendolen and Frobisher, the lure of temptation got me. Atkinson’s wordplay is astounding, as she layers significant detail into a single phrase. The book can be read quickly or methodically studied - an impressive authorial feat. The character development is a slow build, as no one seems especially likable initially. It reminded me of the HBO show Succession, where I kept starting the series over wishing for someone to root for. Nonetheless, I sped through the second half of the book, thoroughly immersed in this centuryold world far removed and am still finding delightful specks of literary grime. “Life was for absorbing, not recording. And in the end, it was all just paper that someone would have to dispose of after you were gone. Perhaps, after all, one’s purpose in this world was to be forgotten, not remembered.”



Historical Impressions

b y G u y M i l l e r, V i c e C h a i r E m e r i t u s , C h e n n a u l t Av i a t i o n a n d M i l i t a r y M u s e u m


n the night of February 15, 1898 the USS Maine, a battleship of the United States Navy, lay anchored in Havana Harbor, Cuba. At around 9:40 PM, a thunderous explosion ripped through the Maine. The ship was torn asunder and sank rapidly into Havana Harbor. The detonation claimed the lives of 266 American sailors and plunged our nation into mourning and shock. The subsequent events that unfolded would set the stage for a war that would redefine global dynamics. At the end of the 19th century Spain’s grip on its colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific began to falter. Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were among Spain’s most prized possessions but nationalist movements within these territories seeking independence from Spanish rule were gaining momentum. Cuba, in particular, became a focal point. The Cuban War of Independence (18951898) had been a brutal conflict as Cuban revolutionaries fought for autonomy from Spain. Reports of Spanish atrocities against Cuban civilians during that war, circulated by American newspapers, fueled public outrage in the United States. While the American public was getting war fever, the business community had just recovered from a deep depression and feared that a war would reverse the gains. Accordingly, most business interests lobbied vigorously against going to war. President William McKinley initially ignored the exaggerated news reporting and wanted a peaceful settlement. He sought accommodation with Spain on the issue of independence for Cuba but was unsuccessful. The USS Maine had been dispatched to Havana as a display of American presence and to safeguard U.S. interests amidst escalating tensions between Spain and Cuban rebels. The sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, however, just intensified tensions even further. Though the cause of the explosion was unclear, the American public, fueled by sensationalized reports in the press, swiftly pointed fingers at Spain; attributing the disaster to enemy sabotage. Investigations into the cause of the explosion were launched immediately. Initial reports suggested an external mine or torpedo as the culprit, affirming the narrative of Spanish aggression propagated by the press. Newspapers across the country advocated for swift retaliation against Spain for the loss of American lives. The rallying cry, “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!” resonated throughout the nation and resulted in mounting pressure for the President William McKinley to take action. Ultimately the U.S. ended up declaring war against Spain on April 25, 1898. McKinley cited not only the USS Maine incident but also America’s desire to support Cuba’s fight for independence. The conflict wasn’t limited to Cuba alone, however, it spanned across both the Caribbean and the Pacific. This multi-front war showcased the naval prowess of the United States and marked its ascent as a global power. Admiral George


Dewey’s legendary victory at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, saw the complete destruction of the Spanish Pacific fleet in the Philippines and secured American dominance in the region. Simultaneously, a U.S. fleet comprised of two squadrons under Rear Admiral William T. Sampson and Commodore Winfield Scott Schley blockaded the Spanish fleet in Santiago de Cuba and eventually sank all six of the Spanish ships. The decisive land battle of the war occurred on July 1, 1898, at San Juan Hill in Cuba. Led by future President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, American forces in collaboration with other units achieved a significant victory over Spanish troops. The relentless pressure on multiple fronts weakened Spain’s resolve, leading to its eventual surrender after a brief but intense conflict. The war officially concluded on August 12, 1898 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The treaty marked the end of colonial rule over the once-vast Spanish empire and accelerated that country’s decline as a major world power. Spain was required to relinquish control over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The loss of key territories dealt a significant blow to Spain’s prestige and global influence. Conversely, the acquisition of these territories dramatically transformed America’s global standing. It marked the beginning of its emergence as a global superpower. The acquisition of overseas colonies set up American involvement in future global conflicts and its eventual rise to a dominant position in international affairs. While Cuba gained independence, it was placed under the supervision of the United States through the Platt Amendment, effectively granting the U.S. significant influence over Cuban affairs. However, beyond its immediate consequences, the war also stirred debates regarding American imperialism and its role as a colonial power. Critics raised concerns about the ethical implications of annexing foreign territories and the responsibilities that came with governing diverse populations. Discussions arose about the role of media in shaping public opinion and influencing government decisions during times of crisis. It also highlighted the complexities and challenges of ascertaining the truth behind events that were clouded by conflicting narratives and interpretations. Even today the exact cause of the explosion of the Maine remains unresolved. Despite extensive research and modern technological advancements, conclusive evidence pinpointing the exact cause of the explosion has remained elusive. While the prevailing theory at the time pointed fingers at Spanish sabotage, subsequent investigations offered alternative explanations such as an internal accident caused by the ignition of ammunition stores or coal bunker fires. The lingering uncertainty that the sinking of the Maine may have been a tragic mishap rather than deliberate enemy action has kept this February incident a topic of historical fascination and debate.


Bayou DeSiard Country Club

Cotillion 2023

Cotillion 2023


he Bayou DeSiard Country Club Cotillion was held on December 29, 2023. Twenty young ladies were presented to the Club’s governing board and to family and friends. The Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Steve Taylor. The Presentation Coordinator was Taylor Cain. Special thanks to event planner, Gregory Hudgins, Rhyan Emory Taylor of Albritton Photography, Karen Brewton, General Manager of Bayou Desiard Country Club, and the Cotillion Committee.


Amelia Joy Thomas Louisiana State University

Annabelle Kate Shively Louisiana Tech University

Anna Grace Hansen Louisiana State University

Anna Elizabeth Harris Louisiana State University

Anna Katherine Barnes Louisiana State University

Cameron Sage Oglesby University of Notre Dame

Camille Claire Burkett Tulane University

Elizabeth Coley Loftin Tulane University

Kaia Ann Kudlas Louisiana State University

Larkin Bell Morris Louisiana State University

Lela Kathryn Hansen Louisiana State University

Logan Dalton Foote University of Mississippi

Madison Virginia Mae Dickerson Louisiana Tech University

Margaret Claire Barham University of Virginia

Philippa Catherine Morstead Louisiana State University

Katherine Grace Emery Louisiana State University

Rebecca Ruth Robertson Texas A&M University

Sallie Jayne Snellings Louisiana Tech University

Sarah Elizabeth Shipp Louisiana State University

Sarah Grace Loftin Texas Christian University


The Little Farmer A Haven for Little Ones and Local Businesses


N THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN RAYVILLE, LA, A charming children’s boutique named “The Little Farmer” is a haven for parents seeking unique and stylish clothing for their little ones, and especially their little boys. Founded by Amy Chapman in November 2022, this boutique stands out not only for its adorable Louisiana themed apparel, but also for its commitment to supporting local and small businesses. Amy Chapman, the owner and visionary behind The Little Farmer, was born and raised in Monroe, La. She married her husband, Patrick Chapman in 2016 and in 2021 welcomed their son, Fisher. Amy was a respiratory therapist at the time, and had been since 2014, After the pandemic and having her son though, Amy was feeling the burnout and knew she didn’t want to keep working those long 12-hour shifts and be away from her little one for that long at a time. After having Fisher, she started to realize the lack of little boys clothes locally and entertained the idea of opening an online boutique because she would still have to keep her full-time job at the hospital. Opening a boutique, was the perfect solution to spending more time with her new baby while providing our community with a new place to shop. Motivated by a desire to cater to this specific need, she decided to establish a shopping experience that would focus on providing a range of clothing options for kids. The online boutique was in the works when she met Skyler Starks, her hair stylist, who offered to rent her a boutique space in her salon. Amy knew then, her dream of owning a storefront was about to be made into a reality. Because of her son and husband, who is a farmer and farm equipment salesman at Progressive Tractor in Rayville, The Little Farmer Boutique was born. Amy quotes, “It made sense we both put down roots in Rayville, and this new space was the perfect place to start my boutique!” The Little Farmer reflects this Louisiana region and The Chapman’s passions and values- Jesus, hunting, fishing, and farming. Amy tells us that she and her husband have also always had a love for Louisiana marsh and offshore saltwater fishing. So when shopping at The Little Farmer, a shopper might notice the south Louisiana vibe and coastal fishing feel, as well. Something that sets The Little Farmer apart is its unwavering dedication to supporting local businesses. Amy’s passion for the 48 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

community reflects in the boutique’s collection, predominantly featuring brands from Louisiana. Louisiana brands carried at The Little Farmer are; Velvet Fawn, Southern Slumber, Magnolia Mudbugs, and Maison Nola. Amy also takes pride in showcasing items by other small business moms. As a mom and small business owner herself, she knows how important it is to support local, and shop small. Saltwater Boys is another favorite coastal brand from a small business mom shop in Georgia. One can also find Properly Tied apparel from Oxford, MS in The Little Farmer Boutique. As far as the future for The Little Farmer, Amy hopes to eventually add more baby inventory to the store, and hopes to start doing baby registries for expectant mothers in the near future. She also would love to introduce more matching “father and son” clothes into the store! When asked about her experience so far, Amy states, “This has been the best decision to put down roots in Rayville. I have met so many amazing people from Rayville and even though I’m not from here, everyone has had welcoming arms and showed so much love and support. I’m so proud to be a part of the Rayville community. They are truly amazing!” The Little Farmer Boutique is a sweet, Louisiana oriented, and heartwarming boutique unlike any other in our area, and is ready to dress any little one for any occasion or holiday.. and of course, The Little Farmer boutique has your little one covered for all things Louisiana themed! You can also find the latest looks from The Little Farmer by visiting their Facebook and Instagram. Look for The Little Farmer Boutique at this year’s 2024 Spring Market at the Monroe Civic Center on March 14th-16th.



lright, y’all, lots to consider and lots to do this month, so let’s get started! Lawns, where to begin? How about here: turfgrasses are plants, too. They have roots, stems, and leaves just like other plants. And, they’re green, meaning they photosynthesize to manufacture their own food. All of our Deep South turfgrasses (Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysia) carry out C4 photosynthesis. This means the first stable carbon compound formed in this biochemical binge is a four-carbon molecule (oxaloacetic acid then malic acid, if you’re keeping score at home). C4 plants are adapted to hot, high light environments where atmospheric carbon dioxide is at higher concentrations than in other places. Other well known C4 grasses include corn and sugar cane. Some non-grass plants are C4, too, like the familiar spotted spurge, a weed that seems to materialize out of thin air. C4 plants thrive in our summers, are more efficient at assimilating carbon dioxide, and use water more efficiently than plants that carry out C3 photosynthesis, which is most others. But, our lawns are not actively growing during the winter months. They go dormant. Or try to despite Mother Nature sometimes. As the number of daylight hours increases in spring and temperatures warm up, lawns come out of winter dormancy and resume growth. The point of all this is: lawns are most vulnerable to being stressed when they’re going into and coming out of dormancy. Last year, lawns were stressed by 1) the Arctic blast in December, 2022, 2) the late freeze in spring, 2023, and 3) a very hot, dry summer of 2023. Lawns in many areas of the state, including the ArkLaMiss, were still in the process of going dormant when the December arctic blast hit. Then in spring of 2023, lawns were snapped by a late freeze as they were coming out of dormancy. Both cold weather events stressed lawns. Record heat and drought last summer added insult to injury. Lawns that could not be adequately irrigated were stressed even more. Stress on top of stress. In some cases, lawns died down to bare soil. I looked at an untold number of stressed, dead, and dying lawns last year and some patterns emerged. We can’t control Mother Nature. She has the final word. Here are some tips to keep in mind and some steps to take that should help your lawn perform like you want it to in 2024.


< Don’t fertilize lawns this month. Managing weeds is fine. But no fertilizers.

> This rotisserie chicken container is perfect for starting seeds in.

Seeds for spring and summer crops, like these banana peppers, can be started this month

Good seed starting medium should stay moist without becoming saturated.

Don’t apply fertilizer to your lawn this month. Wait until it comes fully out of dormancy. This includes “weed and feed” products and lord knows what else lawn services want to start applying this month. Our lawns are still dormant in February. Most of the green you’re seeing this month is either weeds or ryegrass if the lawn was over-seeded back in the fall. Applying fertilizer this month may force lawns out of dormancy prematurely. New growth will be susceptible to a late freeze. In February, weed. Don’t feed. If employing a lawn service, obtain a list of chemicals applied to your lawn at each visit. Make sure the list has both brand name and chemical name of each product. If problems arise and I’m called to look at your lawn, which I will gladly do, one of my first questions will be “Has anything been applied to your lawn?” That will be helpful in diagnosing the problem(s). Also, never let someone who doesn’t hold a current commercial pesticide applicator’s license from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry apply commercial-grade chemicals to your lawn. Any lawn service worth their salt will be glad to present their license number. • There is a world of difference between a corn field and a residential lawn. Never use a product not specifically labeled for use on residential lawns. Local garden centers stock plenty of products that are perfectly suited for private, residential use. Products labeled for use in big agriculture situations are not the way to go for a home lawn. Ironically, rice is not a C4 plant. What’s up with that? SEEDS Question: What do yogurt containers, supermarket salad containers and rotisserie chicken containers have in common? Answer: they all make splendid containers for starting seeds of spring and summer crops. If you’re new to gardening and on a budget, fear not. You’ll be amazed at how cheaply seeds of your favorite spring and summer veggies can be started and how easily seedlings can be transplanted to the garden when you get them off to a good start. February is the month we start seeds for spring vegetable crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. Every season, it seems much ado is made over what type of light to use indoors when seedlings emerge. I see novice gardeners spend exorbitant sums on light rigs that seem better suited for the International Space Station than a home gardening situation. It’s nice to see garden nerds on social media, but the whole light thing gets taken way too far. Here’s the deal. With light, both quality and quantity matter. Of all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum, peak light absorption in chlorophyll occurs in the red and blue wavelengths. Green wavelengths of light are reflected

by chlorophyll and not used for photosynthesis. This is why we see plants as green. For quantity, light can be thought of as a particle of energy called a photon. The quantity of photons per unit leaf area is important. Without getting into all the “gobbledygook,” full sun plants, which is just about everything in the vegetable garden, require about 3,000 lumens per square foot of growing space. A full spectrum, low heat output shop light adjusted to three or four inches above the seedlings should work fine for most seedlings. LED lights are also available. Ambient light in a greenhouse works best. Even on cold days, sunlight will penetrate and warm the greenhouse. Most seeds germinate under the soil surface in total darkness. The light is for the seedlings. There are some seeds that require light for germination, like celery seeds. A sunny window is sufficient for these. A number of seed starting mixtures/media are available but I find they are overpriced and difficult to initially wet. Seeds germinate more readily in a moist medium that is free of debris like twigs and chunks of bark. My favorite medium for starting seeds in is a 1:1 mixture of screened, homemade compost and Premier Pro-Mix®. My grandfather, who supplied the community back home with ‘Better Boy’ tomatoes, turned me on to Pro-Mix back in the 80s. He swore by it, and always had a bale in his greenhouse. He also had a germination box for his tomato seeds that was, shall we say, “homemade.” His personal record for tomato seeds was four days. I can still hear him, “Reece, look here!” If you can’t get Pro-Mix, any generic potting medium will work fine. Make sure it contains either perlite or vermiculite so it drains well but stays moist. Medium that stays too wet or even saturated will result in fungal issues like damping off. Also, make sure that whatever container you’re using to start seeds in has holes in the bottom for drainage. Very important. The seed packet should give the appropriate depth at which to sow the seeds. In general, anywhere from a quarter of an inch to and eighth of an inch is fine but this also depends on the size of the seeds. The smaller the seed is, the shallower it needs to be sown. Carrot and celery seeds, for example, can simply be sprinkled onto the surface and lightly pressed in for good contact, then covered with no more than an eighth of an inch of soil.

Tune in to Louisiana Living every Tuesday at 4:30 for In the Garden with Kerry Heafner of the LSU AgCenter.




Create a heartfelt Valentine’s day arrangement by artfully combining roses and tulips with eucalyptus and wrapping the bouquets in a Valentine’s paper tied with a charming ribbon. Your Valentine will love this simple and elegant gift. ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK


Marsala Beverage Company Bud Light Leverages New Partnerships


S BUD LIGHT GEARS UP FOR the Super Bowl, they would like to bring some familiar faces and a new face to join the Party. Bud Light, the Official Beer Sponsor of the NFL, is tapping Super Bowl Champions and Pro Football Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith ahead of the 2023-2024 NFL Playoffs. With its new ad, Bud Light shows the Super Bowllevel excitement of throwing and receiving a game-winning pass, while also kicking off the brand’s biggest Super Bowl ticket giveaway ever, where the more fans show their love of Bud Light, the more chances they have to win. With Super Bowl tickets in extremely high demand, we are proud to be the sponsor bringing the most fans to the stands with Bud Light’s biggest Super Bowl ticket giveaway ever, Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith are two players who know exactly how much energy fans can bring to a game; working with them was an incredible experience and we’re thrilled to continue our relationship with Peyton for years to come. As well as welcoming those two NFL greats to the Bud Light team, we would also like to welcome country super star Zach Bryan to the Team. A few weeks ago, Bud Light announced a partnership with country singer/songwriter, Zach Bryan, as the brand continues its expansion into country music. To launch the partnership, Zach Bryan will headline the brand’s concert event taking place Super Bowl LVIII weekend. Bud Light, the Official Beer Sponsor of the NFL, will kick off the second year of the Bud Light Backyard Tour with ‘The Bud Light Backyard Tour Presents Zach Bryan.’ 54 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Additional partnership initiatives will include promotional giveaways and an integration with Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to the families of fallen and disabled service members and first responders. “Bryan is known for connecting with and bringing fans together, and we can’t wait to put on a great show for fans ahead of the Super Bowl.” UFC Bud Light and UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization announced a new multiyear marketing partnership. Effective January 1, 2024, the brewer became the exclusive “Official Beer Partner of UFC.” With this sponsorship, in the U.S., Bud Light will bring easy enjoyment to 21+ fans with 360-degree programming, including custom social and digital content, broadcast integration, on-site presence, and more. UFC CEO Dana White said, “AnheuserBusch and Bud Light were UFC’s original beer sponsors more than fifteen years ago. I’m proud to announce we are back in business together. There are many reasons why I chose to go with Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, most importantly because I feel we are very aligned when it comes to our core values and what the UFC brand stands for. I’m looking forward to all of the incredible things we will do in the years ahead.” In 1982, Anheuser Busch introduced Bud Light nationally. Bud Light, the most popular beer in the country, is a light bodied lager

with a fresh, clean and subtle hop aroma. Its delicate malt sweetness and crisp finish provide the ultimate refreshment. Bud Light is brewed using a blend of premium aroma hops, both American frown and imported, and a combination of barley malts, water and rice. Its superior drinkability and refreshing flavor make it the worlds favorite light beer. Bud Light contains 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV.) Brewing an American Light Lager, like Bud Light, is hard. The style is so clean and clear that any imperfection can come through. That’s why we believe in brewing the highest-quality light beer on earth using the finest ingredients that come from the Earth. and that’s why we pay special attention to every step throughout the brewing process to ensure the Bud Light in your hands is the best it can be. We believe you, the light beer drinker, deserve the very best with every single sip. We work hard to make sure that’s exactly what you get with every Bud Light. 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




Let your kids add a personal touch to their Valentine’s Day celebrations by using rubber stamps to create unique and heartfelt homemade cards. ST YLING BY TAYLOR BENNET T PHOTOGR APH BY KELLY MOORE C L ARK






y two least favorite months are February and August. Okay, I said it. I used to love the month of February as it meant pre-spawn bass fishing and deep water crappie fishing, squirrel and rabbit hunting and of course the age old tradition of breaking down deer stands, cameras and feeders for next year. I guess old age has changed me as I no longer wish to tolerate cold weather. I can remember one late January years ago when I entered the Angler’s Choice fishing circuit and our first tournament was on Toledo Bend. It was a twoman, team circuit and my partner and I woke up at 4:30 a.m. with the temperature at a blazing 21 degrees. There was ice on everything. The boat deck was a skating rink. It was so cold we had to defrost the trailer’s wheel bearings with de-icer just to be able to move the boat. Icicles hung from the trailer from our practice run the day before and I had on every stitch of clothing I had brought, and I was still cold. We did get launched and watched several trucks slide into the water on the iced over ramp. I definitely had second thoughts about participating but we had put up our entry fee and I was a die hard. Well, at least I was until my partner R.D. Lewis fired up that 200 Mercury and we began the idle through the stump fields. Our first location was 27 miles up Toledo and I can honestly say I have never been that cold in my life. R.D. had placed his rods inside the rod box of the 20 foot Ranger, and I had mine strapped beside me in the single console boat. It was on that day that I swore I would never ever again own a boat with a single console. I tried facing the rear, laying down and would have crawled inside the rod box had there been room. My moustache was pure ice. Upon arrival, I reached for a rod and reel only to discover that my rods were literally frozen together. The eyelets were solid ice and the morning would be spent sloshing them in the lake to be able to cast. Much to my surprise, R.D. pitched a jig (which he did most of the time) and set the hook on a 8.3 lb bass on his first pitch. To make a long story short, we caught a load that day. I pitched a Bulldog spinnerbait all day and R.D. stayed with the jig. He had one bite all day while I caught 14 fish with my largest being on the last cast before the long ride back which weighed in at 7.12 lbs. Our total weight was 25.02 and we missed winning the tournament and an additional $10k by just 4 ounces. It was a day to remember but I learned some valuable lessons. The first was not to skimp on good clothing. I had a set of big overalls but they were not


high quality. The second was my choice of tennis shoes over boots. The third was my failure to purchase a “Little Buddy” heater. The last was having an ample supply of “Hot Hands.” When it is cold, your body loses heat through your extremities. Head, feet and hands are so very important to keep warm as that is where you lose heat. I can remember many trips after that in similar weather where I was amply prepared. The day was not nearly as long and I assure you that no amount of fish in the livewell is worth risking hypothermia, it just takes all the fun out of it. Call me weak, a sissy or whatever but you will not catch me in the deer stand or on a boat without proper attire or the listed items to keep my head, feet and hands warm. Such was the case back in my early days at the age of 18 when I was invited on a duck hunt at Corney Lake by my friend Doug Jerome. I was working but not making much money and when Doug told me we would be wading, I knew I had to have some chest waders. I visited my local Walmart and after getting sticker shock on the price of chest waders, decided to buy a rain suit bottom (they looked the same) and a roll of duct tape. My thoughts were to put on the rain suit over my knee boots and tape them onto the bottom of the rain suit. Simple enough, huh? Upon arrival at Corney Creek, there was ice on the ground. We had decided to camp but abandoned the tent and ended up in the public restroom and literally built a fire on the floor inside. It was absolutely miserably cold. Just prior to daylight, we suited up and off to the honey hole we went. As I waded out into the timber, I found out that duct tape was not nearly enough to stop the rush of cold water that engulfed my legs. We broke ice and I hugged a tree to keep from collapsing. After only about an hour (and I don’t know how I tolerated it that long) my partner, Doug looked over at me. I had not fired a shot and was still embracing this pin oak tree. “You alright buddy?” was all he said and my response was “I cannot feel my feet.” With his help I made it back to dry ground where he had to cut the boots and rain suit off of me. I was covered in ice, my feet were almost blue and I literally could not walk. I’ve said that to say this, I hate the cold and nothing is more dangerous than not being properly prepared. Take the necessary precautions and remember a duck, deer or fish is not worth risking life or health. Been there, done that. And that is why, my friend, that you won’t find me afield in those situations ever again without the proper equipment.

Valentine’s Day Specials Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group


EW RESTYLANE FILLERS! AS WE AGE, WE LOSE FAT, collagen and bone, causing hyaluronic acid (HA) levels to decline. This can lead to visible signs of aging like wrinkles, folds and diminished volume. Dermal fillers are injectable treatments that can help to diminish the appearance of wrinkles while restoring volume and fullness to the face, or to reshape features to meet aesthetic goals, such as achieving a fuller lip, providing contour or structure to the cheek, or correcting the appearance of a recessed chin. The Medical Spa is now offering the Restylane fillers portfolio. Restylane’s unique injectable gels are formulated to act like your skin’s own HA. Each filler in the Restylane portfolio is engineered for a specific area and purpose to help achieve subtle natural-looking results. During the month of February, The Medical Spa is featuring Restylane Kysse. Receive $50 off one syringe and receive a LIP FLIP add-on for free! So, pucker up this Valentine’s Day with kissable lips! LASER HAIR REMOVAL Say goodbye to unwanted hair and break up with your razor this month with laser hair removal! Splendor X is laser hair removal for all skin types. Splendor X is powered by BLEND X technology, utilizing the ND: YAG and Alexandrite lasers. This technology offers unprecedented power, speed, versatility and coverage rate. Treatments are fast and comfortable with the cryo-cooling system and require no downtime. We have two packages available this month that offer incredible savings! Start getting ready for summer now — purchase your bundles this month! • Laser Hair Removal Legs 4 sessions - $1,200 ($2,000 value) • Laser Hair Removal Underarms and Bikinis - $600 ($1,200 value) MEMBERSHIPS AND REFERRALS Enjoy exclusive perks, pricing and discounts with a Medical Spa VIP membership. With three different VIP levels, there’s something for everyone! Monthly membership fees are deposited into your account and are yours to use toward treatments, products and services at The Medical Spa. In addition, members will also receive exclusive pricing and discounts.


We love building long-term relationships, so we’ve created a referral program to make it easy for you to share your knowledge about The Medical Spa and get rewarded at the same time. For every friend or colleague you refer, you’ll earn $20 once they make a qualifying purchase! Treat yourself and save money this year with either of these programs. To find out more information, call The Medical Spa at (318) 966-3772. TOX TUESDAYS The Medical Spa is now offering Tox Tuesdays! Every Tuesday will feature special pricing and discounts. Pricing will only be available during your appointment, no pre-purchasing. These spots fill quickly, so don’t wait to book. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram where we’ll announce that week’s specific featured discounts! ZO SKINCARE Take your skincare relationship to the next level with ZO Skin Health. There’s nothing like consistently enjoying healthy, radiant skin to make you look and feel your very best. If you’re looking to take those first steps to healthy, glowing skin, we’ve got you covered. We work exclusively with ZO Skin Health medical-grade skincare, and all our team members are ZO expert-certified to best guide and recommend a customized regimen. Reach out and schedule your complimentary consultation today and learn how ZO Skin Health can help you regain that youthful glow. Call or come by The Medical Spa this month to find out more information about any of our specials, or to schedule a consultation. We are in the James R. Wolff Building (also known as the P&S Building) in downtown Monroe. Our address is 312 Grammont St., Suite 406, across from St. Francis Medical Center. Follow The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all current events, promotions and new services.


Meredith’s Musings THE WHITE BOX



e gathered at the funeral home - me, Mom, Dad only one day after Sister’s passing. We huddled around the table, exchanged pleasantries with the funeral home director, and pieced together the people we knew in common. Turns out, the funeral director had gone to school with my brother, though he didn’t know the Sister we were there to bury. The wound was still fresh, the news still settling, the reality too horrific to fathom, but the endless questions and immediacy of planning a funeral forced reality upon us. “How old was she?” the director inquired.”36...she would be 37 tomorrow,” Mom replied. The director winced, Dad sniffled, Mom nodded, and a tear escaped down my cheek. Dad kept asking the director if he knew random people. “What about ‘fill in the blank’? You know him?” Mom and I wanted to be anywhere else, and attempted rushing through the questions. As Dad refuses to hurry anything, he kept distracting himself by seeking personal connections, ties to the still living. In retrospect, I wonder if he was making sure he could entrust this man with his little girl, the one he never expected to bury. She was to be left to his care - Dad was searching for proof that he’d care. In an adjacent room, we considered several coffin options. Dad veered toward a mauve box with hand-carved roses weaving 62 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

throughout. It looked like what Dad imagined for a little girl. At that moment, I remembered that to him, Sister was probably still a little girl - his little girl. Mom and I spotted the bright white box with silver handles. It looked like an over-sized jewelry box, clean and simple, yet elegant and sophisticated. It looked youthful, still in its prime. Bonnie was never one for dramatic color or large fashion statements. She preferred clean lines, classic silhouettes. She didn’t need embellishments to stand out. We chose the white box and selected a red rose spray to be lain on top - quintessentially classic. On the way out, I joked with Dad that with the cost difference, the mauve box being more expensive, he got the rose spray for free. Dad smiled, patted my back, and left his hand on my shoulder - his way of saying thank you. During the service a week later, the white box shined from the front of the church. I have mixed feelings about a coffin being present at a funeral. It symbolizes death, and we want to celebrate our loved ones having lived. But it sure was pretty. Sister would have said so. At the grave site, the now-smaller crowd hovered around the white box, half under the tent and half standing in the bright sun, though the January day was chilly. Seated on the family row, I stared into my reflection in the silver handles. The crowd behind me appeared distorted and distant. I thought about the

funerals I’d attended before, how Sister would often be standing close by, no doubt lightening the mood with some irreverent comment. She always forced me to laugh when it was most inappropriate. I wanted to laugh then, to commemorate her presence. I settled for a smile. I imagined she would have leaned in and said, “You look pretty today, Meredith.” I’d worn a long navy dress with butterflies throughout the print. When I pulled it out of my closet the night prior, I knew I was choosing butterflies to remind me of my Sister for the rest of my life. I think I made the right choice. As the crowd dispersed, each person walked by, hugged the family, and placed a flower on the white box. Some slightly grazed it with one hand; others tapped it with a closed fist. The motion says goodbye to someone not there to respond. The box stood so gallantly above the overturned red dirt. I kept thinking it was a shame to get that pretty box so dirty. It felt wrong to just leave my Sister there, alone in the ground. This ritual, so often practiced, felt not enough for such a full but short life. What could we do but take her out in style, to give her the dignity of a classic box with clean lines and fresh red flowers. I don’t know how much all the accoutrements matter, whether the details signaled the love we still hold for her. But we hold it nonetheless. We made the choices we hoped she would have made. We wish we had never had to make them at all.


Abita Brewing Company Culture On Tap



OUISIANA IS KNOWN FOR SO MANY THINGS. FROM Mardi Gras to music, cuisine to architecture, our enthusiasm for life is second to none. We are a true melting pot of cultures that cannot be experienced anywhere but here. But did you know that Louisiana is also an integral part of the evolution of craft beer? Abita Brewing Company was one of the first craft breweries in the industry, and still brews every drop of their beer in Abita Springs, Louisiana. The Abita Brewing Company, founded in 1986, is nestled in the piney woods 30 miles north of New Orleans. In its first year, the brewery produced 1,500 barrels of beer. By 1994, they outgrew the original site (now a 100-seat brew pub) and moved up the road to a larger facility to keep up with demand. Abita’s lagers and ales are brewed in small batches, hand-crafted by a team of dedicated workers with only the highest ideals of quality. This pride, along with their brewing process, is what creates such great brews. While they still brew their lineup of perennial favorites (think Amber, Purple Haze, AndyGator, and Strawberry, to name a few), they have been shaking things up with their seasonal and limited series. Check out what is on shelves now and what we have to look forward to! BEERACUDA, 5% ABV, 15 IBU* Originally released as a seasonal, Beeracuda was so popular, it is now brewed year-round. Despite its ferocious behavior & appearance, this Beeracuda is perfect to sip on when relaxing in or out of the water. This crisp Gulf Coast Cerveza will cool you off even on the hottest of days. So, get ready to set the hook with this refreshing brew. Beeracuda is available locally in 6 pack bottles. MARDI GRAS BOCK (SEASONAL), 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU Mardi Gras Bock is the first seasonal offering of the year. Abita Mardi Gras Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. This bock is similar to German maibocks with its rich malt flavor and full body, making it a perfect choice during Carnival season in New Orleans. Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss are nice cheese choices with Bock and it is great with roasted beef or pork. Try it with Mexican food, too. Mardi Gras Bock is available through February (if it lasts that long) in 6 pack bottles and on tap at select locations. BARNEY (SEASONAL), 6.1% ABV, 20 IBU As the weather starts to warm up, we welcome Barney to the mix. “The Barney” has been a longtime favorite in pubs, made by combining


Purple Haze and AndyGator on tap. Now you can get this bold fusion of raspberry lager and Helles Doppelbock at home too. It is the ideal blend to take you into spring and summer. Barney will hit shelves locally in 6 pack bottles in late February, early March. BLUEBERRY WHEAT (SEASONAL), 4.4% ABV, 16 IBU Blueberry Wheat makes its triumphant return this year! This crisp wheat beer has the aroma and flavor of fresh blueberries. It’s brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and hopped with German Perle hops, then the juice from local blueberries is added to complement the toasty malt flavor. Blueberry Wheat will be available in 6 pack bottles starting in May. VANILLA TRIPLE DOG (LIMITED), 8% ABV, 30 IBU Turbodog is the inspiration for this robust, dark ale. This velvety ale is brewed with generous amounts of pale, caramel and chocolate malts and Willamette hops. It is aged with whole natural vanilla beans for the natural flavor and aroma of creamy vanilla. This combination provides a rich body and color with chocolate, vanilla and toffee-like flavors. Vanilla Triple Dog is available locally through March (while supplies last) in 6 pack bottles. CREAMSICLE IPA (LIMITED), 7% ABV, 25 IBU A nostalgic twist on a summer classic, Abita’s Creamsicle is a fullbodied IPA with orange citrus flavors and hints of vanilla for a subtle, sweet finish. The newest addition to the Limited Series, Creamsicle 6 pack bottles will hit shelves this April. VANILLA CREAM SODA (NON-ALCOHOLIC) We all know Abita Root Beer, but did you know Abita makes Cream Soda too? Taste rich, creamy caramel, sweet vanilla and hints of butterscotch in this all-natural Vanilla Cream Soda. This hand-crafted soda is lightly carbonated and has a golden color. Made with pure Louisiana cane sugar and artesian spring water, it is naturally caffeine & gluten free! Vanilla Cream Soda will be available locally in 6 pack bottles later this year. For more information and to find Abita beers near you, visit Abita. com. *ABV= Alcohol by Volume, IBU=International Bitterness Units Be sure to like Choice Brands on Facebook and follow us on 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 and


The Healthy Way to Wear Heels Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler… Not Your Ankle! BY J. MARSHALL HAYNIE, MD


F YOU GREW UP IN LOUISIANA,YOU MORE THAN LIKELY ARE familiar with the phrase- Laissez les bon temps rouler- let the good times roll. We love parties, family get togethers, and just about any viable reason to pass a good time! Having gone to a few parties recently, I noticed several party goers in fancy dresses dancing the night away to a great band in their bare feet…their perfect pair of heels for their outfit have resulted in mild torture and they gave way to the music and tossed the fancy high heels to the side! Let’s face it- most high heels are uncomfortable and over time can cause significant damage to your feet and your ankles. Wearing heels causes your heel to be elevated leading your body to naturally shift forward which puts added pressure on the ball of your foot. The higher the heel means a greater tendency to shift more of your body weight forward, creating even more pressure on the ball of the foot and often causing you to hyperextend backwards to counterbalance the weight that has been shifted forward. This counter balance act not only affects your feet and ankles, but also can cause knee, hip and back pain. Common Foot and Ankle Problems Resulting from High Heels • Hammer Toes, Bunions, Corns and Ingrown Toenails Over time, wearing high heels with a narrow toe box can cause the foot to take the shape of the shoe, causing hammer toes, corns, bunions and ingrown toenails. High-heeled shoes place tremendous pressure on the fat pad under the ball of the foot, forefoot. The higher the heel the more pressure on the ball of the foot and a higher likelihood for injury. • Ankle Sprains and Tendinitis Repeatedly wearing high heels can cause all sorts of painful problems. Straining your ankles and other tendons surrounding the foot can lead to tendonitis. When your foot is elevated and the weight goes forward, a lot of tension gets taken off the Achilles tendon and it shortens over time. Women who are a bit older and have worn heels consistently, often complain that flat shoes are uncomfortable. This results from the the tendons tightening from continuous wear of high heels their whole lives and it becomes uncomfortable when they’re stretched to their original length. Extra weight and pressure on the front of the foot can even cause a stress fracture and heels are more likely to exacerbate clumsiness that can lead to imbalance and twisting or straining the ankle.


• Morton’s Neuroma High-heeled shoes have been linked to the development of Morton’s neuroma due to the weight shifted forward to the ball of the foot from the elevation of the heel. Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb. So, what do you do? Do you forgo the perfect shoes for your perfect outfit because they sport a high heel? Not necessarily… my wife and many of my patients would be the first to tell me that they were not willing to give up their favorite shoes because they have a heel. I offer a compromise, choose better – lower heeled- shoes for day-to-day wear, so you can bring out the high heels for special occasions. I do have a few suggestions when choosing your footwear that can help preventing unnecessary pain and strain: • Choose a shoe with a wide toe box and two-inch or lower heel. If higher heels are preferred, shoes with a platform under the toe box decrease the overall stress on the foot. • Stretch your feet and calves in the evening. At the end of the day our muscles and tendons need a bit of relief- don’t forget your toes and ankles- they bare the brunt of your weight all day! • Get rid of worn out shoes or shoes that hurt your feet. Worn out shoes do not support your feet properly and if shoes hurt your feet today, they could have a negative impact in the long run. If foot and ankle pain persist, it may be time to consult with an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon. Don’t let your high heels get in the way of your good times… moderation and saving the heels for a special night should keep you dancing and keep your feet and ankles strong and healthy. J. Marshall Haynie, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle/lower extremity as well as general orthopedics. To schedule an evaluation with Dr. Haynie, please call his clinic, Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana: 866.759.9679 or visit:

Spa Nouvelle Has Moved

Come Visit Our New Location on Roselawn


E’RE THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE the grand opening of our newest spa location at 1813 Roselawn Ave in Monroe, a serene haven designed to elevate your spa experience. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we invite you to explore the perfect gifts for your loved ones, ranging from indulgent spa treatments to rejuvenating gift cards. Along with the new location, our team has also expanded to include two new talented massage therapists who are dedicated to providing unparalleled relaxation and healing. Meet McKenzie Dent, our skilled therapist who embarked on her journey in early 2020 with a passion for delivering restorative and stress-relieving bodywork. McKenzie received her certification from Unitech Training Academy and offers a range of services, from soothing relaxation with hot stones to targeted treatments addressing specific client concerns. Immerse yourself in her expert touch as she creates a calm atmosphere, leaving you feeling

comfortable and revitalized after each session. Also joining McKenzie is Kylie Flowers, a seasoned massage therapist also certified through Unitech Training Academy since 2020. Kylie’s passion lies in the healing power of massage. Whether you’re an athlete seeking recovery or someone yearning for a moment of relaxation, Kylie is dedicated to helping her clients achieve balance and alleviate pain and tension. Her holistic approach ensures a personalized experience that caters to individual needs, leaving you with a sense of well-being. Alyssa Vanlandingham is our newest aesthetician. She is originally from Arkansas, but has been residing in Monroe for five years. She has several years of experience in understanding skin health and diseases. Alyssa takes pride in her success with helping clients select products and treatments that suit their skin type. In the spirit of love and self-care, consider our spa gift certificates as the perfect Valentine’s

Day present. Available for purchase online, these certificates grant your loved ones access to a world of tranquility and indulgence. Give the gift of relaxation, allowing your special someone to choose from our array of luxurious treatments or customize their spa experience. At our new Roselawn Avenue location, we have meticulously crafted an environment that exudes tranquility and sophistication. This includes the addition of our new infrared sauna. From the moment you step through our doors, you’ll be enveloped in a sense of serenity, setting the stage for an unparalleled spa journey. Indulge in the ultimate spa experience at 1813 Roselawn Ave in Monroe. Unwind, rejuvenate, and celebrate the art of self-care with our expert team. Discover the perfect Valentine’s Day gift with our online gift certificates, ensuring a memorable and blissful experience for your loved ones. Join us in creating moments of tranquility and well-being at our new spa destination.





know it’s only February, so spring allergies aren’t yet on your radar. If the pollen count tends to do a number on you, though, getting ahead of it now may be the best approach for making the spring more enjoyable for you. Histamines are chemicals produced by your immune system to help eliminate invaders your body deems as toxic. When the body senses that it’s been invaded by a foreign substance that it doesn’t want, mast cells in the lungs, skin, nose, mouth, gut, and/or blood release histamines. Histamines will boost blood flow to the area of the body in which they’re released, which increases inflammation and triggers more immune activity to neutralize the threat. The histamines then dock onto receptors, and this is when you feel their effects; runny nose, itchy throat or eyes, cough, etc. High histamines can also contribute to many symptoms that you may not correlate with allergy symptoms, like dizziness, brain fog, and migraines. Your body produces an enzyme, called diamine oxidase (or DAO) that degrades histamine. It’s counterbalancing effect

on histamine prevents those histamine levels from getting too high and creating those familiar allergy symptoms. It’s when there isn’t enough DAO being produced to neutralize the production of histamine that things get uncomfortable. When this happens, histamine becomes elevated and we typically reach for the antihistamine medications to ease our symptoms. Having these available over the counter is really convenient and can make life so much more comfortable during allergy season. However, antihistamines don’t decrease histamines in the body; they simply prevent those histamines from docking onto receptors, so we don’t ever feel their effects. Although they don’t dock, the histamines do remain in the body and can continue to build up over time. This is why, if you rely on antihistamines on a daily basis, it can be difficult getting off of them. You’re likely to experience a rebound, in which all the histamine that’s built up is finally able to dock onto receptors and you’ll experience the symptoms of all of those histamines at once. Instead of focusing on eliminating the symptoms of elevated histamines, it may be more helpful in the long term to take a more proactive approach by increasing the body’s natural histamine degrader; the DAO enzyme. Your body produces DAO in your gut. The wall of your intestines is lined with finger-like projections, known as the brush border. These “bristles” greatly increase the surface area of your intestines, which enhances your ability to absorb nutrients from the food that passes through. It’s in the valleys at the base of the brush border,

between each individual bristle, that the body produces DAO. Over time, from inflammation in the gut due to stress, poor diet, medications, alcohol, microbiome imbalances, etc, the brush border can get worn down. The bristles essentially get worn away and the surface of the intestinal wall becomes smoother. Without those valleys between the bristles, the body can’t produce DAO, and the balance between histamine and DAO gets thrown off. Histamine goes unchecked, it remains higher in the body, and now it doesn’t take as much to trigger a histamine attack. This is a common reason why more allergies tend to develop, or worsen, as we age. It’s not a result of age; it’s a result of inflammation in the gut. Healing the gut and recovering healthier DAO production is absolutely possible, but it may require the guidance of a practitioner to help you uncover exactly what’s going on in your gut so you know how to address it effectively. Generally speaking, though, cleaning up the diet by eating nutrient dense foods as they’re found in nature, avoiding highly processed foods made in factories, eliminating alcohol, etc, is a big piece of the puzzle. In addition to having a healthy intestinal wall, there are a variety of nutrients required for creating DAO. These include copper, vitamin C, iron, vitamins B6 and B12. This is another nod to the importance of a well rounded diet. If you’re regularly consuming a variety of vegetables and proteins from animal sources, you’ll be getting these nutrients. Replenishing gut health can take some time. If you start now by really

focusing on cleaning up the diet, supporting healthy digestion, and diminishing your stress load, it may make an impact on your experience of allergy season this spring. In the meantime, there are some other things you can do to diminish the impact of the increase in histamines, too: Taking a supplement that includes DAO enzyme Supplemental DAO will degrade histamines in the gut that enter from food sources, but they won’t necessarily help degrade histamines made in the body from the exposure to environmental allergens. This may still be helpful, however, as it diminishes your body’s overall histamine load. Decrease consumption of high histamine foods or DAO blocking foods Speaking of histamines from food, there are foods that contain high levels of histamines, and these alone can set off a histamine reaction in your body. As mentioned, they also contribute to your body’s overall histamine load, and it’s when that histamine bucket overflows that symptoms become unmanageable. Foods that are high in histamine include fermented foods, aged cheeses, alcohol, avocados, citrus foods (not high in histamine, but they trigger a histamine response), dried fruits, processed meats, and legumes. Foods that block DAO production should also be avoided, and these include alcohol, black and maté teas, and energy drinks. Include natural antihistamines in the diet Foods and nutrients that naturally stabilize mast cells (which diminishes histamine release in the body) include the herb stinging nettles, quercetin (most notably rich in apples, but also onions, parsley and sage), bromelian (found in pineapple and payaya), and turmeric. These are likely most impactful when you consume them regularly before allergy season begins. Now is a great time to begin incorporating them! Thymus gland supplement Another supplemental option is desiccated thymus gland. It’s been said that consuming thymus organ (from healthfully raised animals) provides your own body with the nutrients needed for boosting the health of your thymus gland. The thymus plays a very important role in immune system function and controlling allergy responses. Anecdotal evidence supports the use of thymus gland supplements for diminishing allergies. If you’re a long time environmental allergy sufferer, or even if allergies are something you’ve only recently begun to struggle with, knowing what’s actually going in your body can help you make informed decisions about how to manage this issue. Of course, how you choose to support your body is always up to you and your doctor. I hope that being armed with this information empowers you to take control of your health and enables you to enjoy the beauty of spring without the pollen count dragging you down.

Now is a great time to begin incorporating natural antihistamines into your diet. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 69

Discover the Heart of Gypsy Soul A Unique Haven for Gifts and Home


ESTLED ON THE CHARMING stretch of 4150 Old Sterlington Road in Monroe, Louisiana, Gypsy Soul transcends being merely a store; it embodies the spirit of its visionary owner, Ann Ryland. Established in 2015 as Vintage Veranda, Gypsy Soul stands as a testament to Ann’s passion for reviving forgotten treasures through the art of upcycling. Now, after seven transformative years, Gypsy Soul has become a haven for those seeking distinctive gifts, furniture, and a touch of Louisiana charm. At the core of Gypsy Soul’s offerings is the art of upcycling furniture using Dixie Belle products, available for purchase in-store. Ann’s dedication to transforming discarded items into beautiful pieces creates an eclectic and enchanting atmosphere throughout the store. Gypsy Soul extends beyond furniture, featuring architectural pieces and a captivating dedication to Louisiana-themed gifts and decor. Local artist Linda Durr’s creations add


a personal touch, embodying Louisiana’s rich culture and artistic community. With Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras approaching, Gypsy Soul becomes a treasure trove for thoughtful gifts. From handmade jewelry and festive linens, to platters for entertaining and LSU-themed items, the store offers a diverse selection. Ann can even craft beautiful gift baskets featuring local delights for a curated gift experience. Beyond gifts and decor, Gypsy Soul caters to those seeking unique apothecary items, offering a sensory experience with wax melt warmers, handmade goat’s milk soap, and hand-poured creations. Ann envisions expanding the store to include a garden area with live plants and garden furniture, creating a haven for gardening enthusiasts. Gypsy Soul is not a solo venture; Ann has brought together 12 vendors, creating a collaborative space where diverse talents converge for an unparalleled shopping experience.

The store’s warm and inviting atmosphere, complemented by Christian music, creates a backdrop for laughter and camaraderie. Ann expresses gratitude for the relationships developed over the years, highlighting the importance of small businesses in every community. Despite challenges, including the impact of Covid and personal loss, Ann’s resilience and community support have been unwavering. Gypsy Soul adapts to the times with live sales on Facebook Live every Tuesday night, showcasing Ann’s commitment to connecting with the community. Beyond its physical location, Gypsy Soul takes to the road, participating in events and renting booths in neighboring areas. Ann’s commitment to her craft and community is evident in her efforts to connect with people beyond the store. As a mother and grandmother, Ann pours love and dedication into Gypsy Soul, creating a space where people find joy, connection, and treasures that resonate with the soul. Ann extends a heartfelt invitation to support Gypsy Soul and the spirit of small businesses that form the backbone of every community—a place where stories unfold, friendships are forged, and the journey of transformation continues.

Patient Loses 110 lbs in Less Than a Year Patient Says Dr. Bakeer “Listened to Him From Day One”


ANIEL ALANIZ, 53, NOW HAS THE blood pressure of an 18-year-old, is no longer pre-diabetic, and no longer suffers from sleep apnea. And what does he enjoy now more than ever? Breathing. Dr. Mohamed Bakeer, a surgeon at the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana, performed a robotic-assisted sleeve gastrectomy on Daniel in February of 2023. Since that time, Daniel has lost 110 pounds. Daniel said, “As odd as it may seem, breathing better has been a game changer. One day, I was feeding my dogs and moving their 40-pound bags of food. I sat there in awe and realized my body carried more than two of these bags before losing weight. Even putting on socks or shoes is different now.” Excess weight has been a struggle for Daniel all of his life. “As a child, I remember being too big to ride toys or being too overweight to keep up with my friends. My classmates called me obesityrelated names. It was hard to be teased like that at such a young age and throughout high school.”

Daniel knew he had to act when his father passed. “My father passed away a few years ago due to complications from a major stroke. I had a stroke at age 46. I had the same health problems as my dad. I knew then if I wanted to live, something had to change. I was running out of time.” After the surgery, Daniel experienced positive mental health improvements in addition to physical ones. “I had just about fully recovered and had lost about 60 pounds when I showed people a picture of myself pre-surgery, and they didn’t believe it was me. They laughed and thought it was photoshopped. It was then I knew I did something great.” If he could tell future weight loss surgery patients one thing, it would be to “not be scared.” Daniel said he had “little to no pain.” He said Dr. Bakeer and the rest of the Surgery Clinic team made Daniel’s experience unforgettable. “Dr. Bakeer and his staff were fabulous with my care before and after surgery. He listened to me from day one and then developed

a plan. He was caring, understanding, and personable. He and dietitian Marci Parker clarified they were available day and night. They continued to check on me at home long after the surgery. And nurse Tori Douglas was amazing and caring. She would listen to me, laugh with me, and make me feel at ease.” The Surgery Clinic’s team approach impacted Daniel. “That’s just how the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana team handles their patients. They are one; they act as a ‘team.’ Dr. Bakeer, Dr. Bart Liles, and the front desk staff—they are a team who cares.” Losing excess weight will reduce your risk of high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infertility, depression, and more. To learn more about the Surgery Clinic’s bariatric program, visit The Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana, home of Delta Vein Care, houses surgeons Dr. Walter Sartor, Dr. Bart Liles, Dr. Patrick Smith, and Dr. Mohamed Bakeer. Contact the clinic with questions about general surgery, vein care procedures, and weight loss surgery.


Lola Jane Boutique

Michelle Wilson Unveils a Store Front: A New Chapter Begins


HE LATEST ADDITION IN THE heart of West Monroe’s historic Antique Alley is Lola Jane Boutique. Under the ownership of Michelle Wilson, Lola Jane Boutique embarks on a new chapter as it proudly opened its doors to the public in January 2024, a few doors down from their previous location. As you step into Lola Jane, you’re greeted by a tastefully designed space that blends modern aesthetics with a cozy atmosphere. The boutique reflects the owner’s commitment to creating a welcoming environment where customers can explore the latest trends in fashion. Michelle’s vision for Lola Jane is classic style, at affordable prices. She wants to share her love of clothes with other moms that want to be stylish, but need pieces of their wardrobe that could go from day to night with minimal effort. Michelle believes buying a selection of products that work for her, will work for her shoppers, as well. She states, “I buy what I like!


So, when I am looking for things, I need it to make me smile.” Michelle says when shopping she asks herself these fashion questions: How many ways can I style this? Can I wear it to work? Date night? Brunch? She states, “If something makes you feel good then you are going to radiate with confidence and that is the most beautiful thing a woman can wear!” That is what shoppers will find when they go into Lola Jane Boutique. As far as facing challenges as a boutique owner Michelle tells us that fashion is a very saturated market, and that finding your niche in the market is tough. “Changing trends and learning to adapt to changes is key to building a successful business.” She listens to her customers and builds relationships, and that is what keeps her going in the small business world. What sets Lola Jane apart from other boutiques is that while others are catering to a younger demographic, she looks for things that could be worn by any age group while still

looking stylish. Her hope for Lola Jane is that her shoppers are both moms and daughters who find staple pieces for their closet. Lola Jane is also known for its commitment to supporting local designers and artisans. The boutique proudly features a range of locally crafted products, providing customers with the opportunity to embrace unique pieces that showcase the talent within the community.This chic boutique promises a unique shopping experience for fashion enthusiasts seeking curated collections and personalized service. In addition to its fashion offerings, Lola Jane plans to host events and collaborations with local artists, creating a space that goes beyond retail and fosters a sense of community. With its prime location on Trenton Street, Lola Jane Boutique is poised to become a go-to destination for those who appreciate quality fashion and a unique shopping atmosphere in West Monroe. Make sure to pay Lola Jane Boutique a visit on Trenton Street – your wardrobe will thank you!

Look and Feel Your Best Louisiana Center for Women’s Health


HEN YOU DON’T LOOK YOUR best, you’re not going to feel your best. Over a period of decades, our clinic has acquired the equipment and expertise to offer a palette of state-of-the-art procedures to maximize your appearance. We strive to offer our cosmetic services and procedures at affordable prices, which represent real value in today’s world. These various hightech services can be obtained at our private clinic here in the Monroe area for a fraction of the charge for the same procedure in other cities. We are aware that our patients are interested in getting the best value, and we are structured to deliver this. HYDRAFACIAL Everyone can benefit from the Hydrafacial procedure. It is inexpensive, gives immediately noticeable results, only takes about 30 minutes, and has no social downtime. The procedure is extremely pleasant and relaxing. We have the latest Hydrafacial equipment and a dedicated

technician to perform it in a private setting. The procedure minimizes skin discoloration and brightens skin tone, instantly minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Your skin is saturated with antioxidants and peptides to maximize skin glow. Uncover a new layer of skin with exfoliation and resurfacing. VASER LIPOSUCTION We are among the earliest adopters of Vaser Liposuction in the world. In fact, we have taught and demonstrated this unique procedure for doctors from as far away as Seoul, Korea. Vaser liposuction uses a very small incision of less than 1/4 inch to emulsify and remove fat. The procedure is performed in the office under local anesthesia, saving the expense of a hospital or surgery center. The results are immediate, unlike various non-invasive treatments which may or may not work. HORMONE PELLETS Hormone pellets have helped thousands of

men and women achieve hormonal balance for restoration of their health. We offer hormone pellets and hormone testing in our clinic. The pellets look much like a grain of rice and are placed under the skin where hormones are released as they dissolve over a period of months. For most people, this is the easiest way to replace missing hormones. If you have fatigue, depression, anxiety, decreased sexual performance, muscle wasting, insomnia, or weight gain, it might be appropriate to have your hormones checked. STATE-OF-THE-ART LASERS Our clinic has state-of-the-art lasers for the treatment of numerous medical and cosmetic problems. Unfortunately, this involves too much information to include in this space but will be detailed in future articles. BOTOX, FILLERS, COSMECEUTICALS We also offer Botox, Juvederm fillers, and various cosmeceutical beauty correcting formulas, all priced competitively. PURE PLASMA REJUVENATION Pure plasma for skin is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that harnesses the power of plasma energy to rejuvenate and improve the skin’s appearance. This technology involves the controlled delivery of plasma energy to the skin’s surface, stimulating a range of beneficial effects.





Just about everyone who knows Rev. Ike Byrd, III has something good to say about him and his work at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Monroe, West Monroe, and Ouachita Parish. Rev. Byrd is a compassionate man, committed to his faith and his family – and to the quest for unity among us all during these turbulent times. Although as a young fellow he had dreams of becoming a professional football player or an electrical engineer, God had other plans. Because of his lifelong commitment to working toward making a brighter future for generations to come and because of his 27 years of faithful pastoral work, Rev. Ike Byrd, III is our February 2024 Bayou Icon. ARTICLE BY GEORGIANN POTTS PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY MOORE CLARK

hen talking with Rev. Ike Byrd III, it doesn’t take long to realize just what a happy, dedicated fellow he is. Byrd is comfortable with his life, absolutely committed to his work, and determined to do whatever he can – wherever and however he can -- to make lives here better for everyone. As pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church, Byrd is always busy caring for his flock, building and maintaining relationships, and finding ways to give comfort – material and spiritual -- to those in need. Looking back over his life, Byrd remembers that working in a church was not always his career goal. Even so, Byrd also remembers being told by his pastor Dr. A.T. White when Byrd was just a young child that White believed “. . . that the Lord had a call upon my life and that one day I would be a preacher.” To understand Byrd’s path to the pastorate, it is important to discover where he came from and who most influenced his life. That journey was not always easy, but it was always filled with love and faith.


A BLENDED FAMILY Ike Byrd, III was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and lived with his parents in Kenner for a few years. His father, Ike Byrd, Jr. was from the Loamland community in Tensas Parish. His mother, Ruby Mae Hunter was from Clayton. When Byrd’s parents divorced, he moved with his mother to Clayton where his grandmother Mollie Lee lived. After time, both of Byrd’s parents married others. Byrd loved the blended family that evolved. His mother and stepmother became close friends as did his father and stepfather. The two men taught Byrd the importance of work. Although both have passed away, Byrd remembers them both with love. It was Byrd’s mother who gave him the Christian foundation of worshipping and serving God. She taught all of her children to recognize the gifts that God had given them and to use those gifts to glorify Him. She understood God’s gifts at a very personal level. When she was 15, Byrd’s mom became ill and doctors told her that she would never be able to have children. “By the grace of God, I am one of 9 children that my mother gave birth to. I was the only son, and I had 8 sisters,” Byrd explains. His younger sister Ranessa passed away a few years ago. Today five of his sisters are older than he and two are younger. Byrd insists that even though he was the only boy, he was not spoiled growing up. “On the contrary, all of my sisters in their own individual way helped me to become the man that I am today,” Byrd adds with a smile. “All of my sisters are extremely active in serving 76 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

On January 1, 1988, Byrd and Angela began their life together. Over time, they had 3 children, Aneishia, Andrae, and Iketria. All three graduated Neville High School and have active careers of their own.

the Lord and His people, and three are in the ministry.” CHILDHOOD MEMORIES Byrd remembers his childhood revolving around family and the church. These two were his greatest joys. “We weren’t wealthy, but we didn’t know we were poor because everyone in our little community shared what they had,” he remembers. “I sang in the choir from the time that I knew what singing was!” Byrd spent many happy times with his maternal grandmother, Mollie Lee. She lived near Clayton and next door to the Mullins, a Caucasian family. The Mullins had 3 children who were Byrd’s frequent playmates – either at his grandmother’s home or at the Mullins’. “During those years I learned not to make perceptions of people based on the color of their skin. Even at times when there were acts of racism, unrest, and bigotry around us, we never allowed that to cause divisions between us,” Byrd explains. Byrd’s father’s family owned an 80+ acre farm in Tensas Parish where the young boy got to enjoy horses, cows, pigs and tractors. In Clayton, Byrd was surrounded by his mother’s large family and he remembers that there was always something going on. A

special memory was the way they would all gather on Sundays after church to eat and talk together. Byrd attended Clayton Elementary, but went to junior high and high school in Ferriday. He enjoyed many things, especially when public speaking and singing were involved. His mother kept him busy in a number of school, church, and community activities. Early on, Byrd loved science and math. He loved the science experiments and working with numbers. “I loved algebra!” Byrd says. “Even after I went to college, algebra was easy. I tutored algebra for several semesters.” It was his cousin, James Lee, who introduced Byrd to Scouting. Lee was the Scoutmaster. “I loved Scouting. Even today I remember the Scout motto (“Be Prepared”) and the Scout slogan (“Do a Good Turn Daily”),” Byrd says. “James believed in those words and pressed upon us the importance of applying them to our lives. These words have been instrumental in shaping my life.” COLLEGE DAYS AND FIRST CAREER Three of his siblings had attended Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM) so Byrd enrolled there, too. He initially thought he would major in radiological technology. He was part of the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) thinking he might have a career in the military. Neither of those worked out, but he became increasingly involved in Christian activities. God’s plan for Byrd was being worked out slowly. Byrd had always worked, beginning at an early age working with his father. His dad took him to work on electrical jobs, and because he also owned a dump truck business, he let Byrd ride along on those jobs, too. During high school, Byrd worked in a hardware store. His stepfather worked for a natural gas pipeline company, so during the summers Byrd would work with him learning how to cut right-aways and paint line stations. After college, Byrd began working as a laborer at Sunbelt Plastics. He worked his way up to managing the shipping and receiving department, spending 20 years with Sunbelt before he retired in 2004. ALONG THE WAY, LOVE HAPPENS While Byrd was working his way upward at Sunbelt, love happened. The first time he saw Angela Denise Ellis she was walking near where her sister lived. Byrd noticed her, but didn’t ask her out. Sometime later, Byrd saw Angela again and invited her and others to his birthday party. She accepted, and they began dating. “I actually asked her mother if I could marry her a couple of months after we began dating,” Byrd says. “Her mother laughed and said I could.”


“These were the most memorable trips that I’ve ever taken. The people were absolutely amazing – not because they are overflowing with the creature comforts of this world, but because they celebrate and everything that God has blessed them with,” Byrd explains.

One month after asking Angela’s mother for permission to marry, the couple married. There was little time, but the families got together with members of the church where Angela attended to make it happen. On January 1, 1988, they began their life together. Over time, Byrd and Angela had 3 children, Aneishia, Andrae, and Iketria. All three graduated Neville High School and have active careers of their own. Just 10 years into their marriage, one night Byrd asked Angela how she would feel being married to a preacher. He could no longer deny his destiny. “She was speechless,” Byrd says. “Our children were frightened beyond belief.” Byrd quickly adds that the entire family adapted – and thrived. “I believe that wives are called into the work of ministry along with their husbands. Wives are to pastors what Angelo Dundee was to Cassius Clay,” Byrd explains. “They’re the ones in the

corner when their husbands come home after being hit by the many blows that come with the ministry. Angela has been my Dundee.” LIFE AND LOVE CONTINUE When the two aren’t working (Angela teaches 3rd grade math at Sallie Humble Elementary), they can often be found in the kitchen cooking together. Both love cooking, with Byrd especially enjoying experimenting with new dishes to which he adds his special Southern flavor. They share a number of other interests – movies, traveling, and spending quiet time with family and friends. After they married, their first family vacation was to Detroit and across Canada to Niagara Falls. The travel “bug” first bit Byrd when he was a junior in high school. His sister Molly and her husband Robert were living in Detroit and took Byrd back home with them for a visit. ‘I had never been anywhere outside

of Louisiana, but that summer I had the time of my life!” Byrd says. “I honestly fell in love with traveling. We spent time on the beach and had a picnic over in Canada. That was my first taste of pizza or Asian food. I was hooked.” Of all of his travels, Byrd says that two trips to Kenya are his favorite travel experiences. He went with some of his closest ministry friends to Chembulet, a village just outside of Nairobi. “These were the most memorable trips that I’ve ever taken. The people were absolutely amazing – not because they are overflowing with the creature comforts of this world, but because they celebrate and everything that God has blessed them with,” Byrd explains. A third trip had to be canceled because of COVID. That trip was not the only thing that had to be changed because of the pandemic. Byrd – together with everyone else – had to quickly adapt. He needed to find new ways to “connect” with his flock. It was very hard to go into church on Sunday mornings and preach, but there was no visible audience. It was even harder not being able to visit families who were experiencing trauma. “Ministry is more relational than anything else, and to lose that relational aspect because of social distance/ quarantine/isolation created a wound that I pray will heal,” Byrd explains. “At the same time, we were able to learn different means to minister. FaceBook allowed me to connect with people from all across the country – even with folks stationed overseas. Frankly, I think COVID has helped me appreciate the gift of life and ministry all the more.” WORK AT MOUNT ZION AND BEYOND Byrd has been pastor at Mount Zion Baptist church for years. The church is wellWWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 77

B A Y O U I C O N : R E V. I K E B Y R D , I I I known for an amazing list of ministries that impact thousands. Many of these have been in place for a very long time, but there are three that Byrd is especially thankful to have begun there through a combination of his vision and the Lord’s guidance. “Our Feast of Hope ministry prepares food and feeds the homeless population in our community. Our Senior Saints ministry is a fellowship for senior members of our church and the community. Begun years ago by partnering with the Ouachita Council on Aging, when that partnership ended the church decided to continue it,” Byde explains. “The third is Koinonia which began as the first men and women retreat hosted by an African American church – ours. It moves throughout the community, transforming lives and celebrating eternal relationships.” It is difficult to comprehend all of the many areas in the community that have benefited from Byrd’s efforts. He began working with the United Way over 40 years ago. Through that association, he became aware of other community agencies about which he knew nothing. The Twin City Community Welfare, the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity – all have been impacted by his work. Today he is serving as a member of several boards: the Mount Pleasant Community Development Corporation, the United Way of Northeast Louisiana, St. Francis Hospital, and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. He also works with the Ouachita Workforce 81 Board to help mentor young people. Not surprisingly, Byrd had been recognized many times for his leadership. Among the many awards that he has received is the Annual Barack Obama Award for service and support of Granny Goins Soup Kitchen that was given by Martin Luther King Foundation. He has been listed as one of 50 most influential leaders in Ouachita Parish. He has also received the Legendary Senior Pastor award from Pastors and Ministers of Ouachita Parish. Byrd believed that the greatest challenge that we face today is just the times that we find ourselves living in. “There seems to be so much working against what many of us grew up believing,” he explains. “Even if people weren’t truly saved, there was a fear of God. The world seems to have lost that fear. We live in an ‘anything goes’ society. Social media has cost the church some of its relevance.” Byrd’s prayer is that during whatever time he has left in this lifetime, and with whatever influence he might have, that he can be an agent to bring our community – all of Ouachita Parish – closer together. “That is my heart, to see us truly united not just in words, but in our deeds also. To live in a place where there are no sides, no north, no south, no east nor west. Only then will we truly be our brother’s keeper.” Proverbs 19:21 reads: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Certainly the plans for Rev. Ike Byrd III’s life were made long before he even knew them.



Is Your Child Ready for Preschool? Here’s How You Can Help Them Get Ready BY THE REV. BETTE J. KAUFFMAN, PH.D.


Y TWIN GRANDBABIES JUST turned two. I have officially joined the ranks of parents and grandparents everywhere wishing they could keep them from growing up so fast! But, of course, that wouldn’t be good for the kids. They must learn and pass milestones just like we did. Today, preschool is an important option. Are you and your child ready? The first thing to consider is age. Most kids enter preschool between 3 and 4 years old, but some kids are ready at two and a half. Grace Episcopal Day School has a PreK 2 class for those who are ready. Potty training is high on the list of things to consider. Most schools, Grace included, require children to be completely potty trained to enter PreK 3. They must be able to tell the teacher they need to go and manage their clothing and wiping on their own.


The curriculum for PreK 2 at Grace includes continuation of potty training. However, children should be well into potty training and wearing pull-ups rather than diapers when they enter PreK 2. Following directions is an important preschool skill. Preschool teachers are experts at teaching kids to follow directions by making them fun and memorable. One of the things I hear around Grace Episcopal Day School a lot is “crisscross applesauce.” It’s a reminder to the children about how they are to sit on the rug in their classroom for story time, circle time and music enrichment. You can do a lot to prepare your child for preschool by teaching them to follow directions at home. Make the directions simple and be very consistent in how you use them. Asking them to sit at a table of appropriate size while eating or to put toys away as soon as they are finished with them

are simple directions children can learn to follow. Asking your child to sit in a certain place for a certain activity at a regular time also introduces the concept of routines. Preschool runs on routines and your child will need to learn to function within those routines. Therefore, introducing them to following directions and establishing routines at home will help them be ready for preschool. You can also help your child be ready for preschool by making sure they are introduced to playing with other children. If they have no siblings, arrange play dates. Sharing and cooperating skills can be introduced through play and your child will need them to transition to preschool. Preschool is about gaining an academic foundation by learning letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Just as important is learning to follow directions, participate in routines, and interact with peers. If you would like to discuss the readiness of your child for preschool, make an appointment with us here at Grace Episcopal Day School & Nursery. Please call us at 318-322-5837 to schedule a tour and make an appointment with a teacher.

The Clinic at Gardens of Somerset Maintaining Heart Health: Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle


T THE CLINIC AT GARDENS OF Somerset, we prioritize your overall well-being, and one crucial aspect is heart health. Taking care of your heart is essential for a long and fulfilling life. Hearthealthy living involves understanding your risk, making healthy choices, and taking steps to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, including coronary heart disease, the most common type. By taking preventive measures, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease that could lead to a heart attack. In this article, we’ll explore some key tips to ensure your heart stays healthy.

Stay Physically Active Regular exercise is a cornerstone of heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. This can include activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet Start by incorporating a balanced and nutritious diet. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals. Reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to maintain optimal heart health.

Maintain a Healthy Weight Being overweight puts additional strain on your heart. Work towards achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Manage Stress Chronic stress can take a toll on your heart. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to promote relaxation and emotional well-being.

Monitor Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels Regular check-ups are crucial for monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol can contribute to heart disease, so it’s essential to address these issues promptly.

Quit Smoking If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Smoking damages blood vessels and can lead to heart disease. Seek support and resources to help you quit. Limit Alcohol Intake While moderate alcohol consumption may have some cardiovascular benefits, excessive drinking can harm your heart. Limit alcohol intake to promote heart health. Your heart is a vital organ, and taking proactive steps to care for it is essential. By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, you not only reduce the risk of heart disease but also improve your overall quality of life. The Clinic at Gardens of Somerset is here to support you on your journey to a healthier heart. If you have specific concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated healthcare professionals. Here’s to a heart-healthy future!


The Perfect Wedding Venue A Historical Venue To Start Your Future


HAT IS ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING TIMES IN your life? Getting engaged… planning your wedding… having the fairytale that every girl and guy dreams of. Over the years, this story will be a memory that is told to all of your friends and family and one that will never be forgotten. After all, one of the first and most important steps in wedding planning is choosing the right venue. Let us be part of your dream wedding with our exceptional venue here at Park Manor. When looking for the perfect venue for your big day, there are some things you want to keep in mind: the venue size, location, parking availability, bathroom availability and so much more! The venue sets the tone for the entire process and is the backdrop of the whole event. Park Manor is one of the most elegant, breathtaking venues in North Louisiana. Located on Hwy 165 and minutes from local shops, the plantation is accessible for those last minute wedding snaffoos. Our property includes a fully furnished two-story plantation home with an amazing brick walkway and a one of a kind bridal cottage with a dressing room. The enclosed reception hall can be used rain or shine. It is perfect for entertaining over 200 guests. This stunning venue has all the modern amenities one would want with 150 acres of rolling hills and rustic woodlands to set the backdrop for your day. The reception hall can host your wedding guests for the ceremony


and double as the dance floor for the reception. It is spacious and accommodating. Weather will not be a factor, as our grounds can hold an in door or outdoor ceremony. Beautiful and designed to be easily decorated, the reception hall has the perfect floor plan to serve food and drinks, dance and entertainment. Park Manor has designed the reception hall to go with all types of wedding decor. Three windows center the reception hall, each designed and built in the 1850s and installed as the focal point of this grand space. If you are looking for a more traditional wedding, the front of the 1860’s plantation home is the perfect backdrop for a southern wedding. The house is adorned with large white columns, a balcony and a grand doorway - all can be easily decorated to match each brides particular style. The brick pathway leads from the bridal cottage all the way to the front steps and up to the house, making a fairtytale setting for a trip down the aisle. Pristine landscaping around the grounds provide a plethora of opportunities for bridals and wedding photos. The plantations home is easily accessible and has plenty of parking for guests. These are just a few of the wonderful amenities at Park Manor. To schedule a private viewing of the estate and a list of available packages, contact Tammy Warner. Her number is 318.791.3659 or you can email her at


Community in Grief Supporting a Family Through a Loss of a Child article by Cindy G. Foust


appy February readers...because January certainly flew by in a snap. That snap can also be referred to as a cold snap, an ice snap or simply put, snowmageden. Except we mostly got ice and really cold temperatures at our house, which makes it not quite as fun to play outside. Well, if you’re 57… because the “young” people on my street, my good friends, the Coles, had several days of family memories in the winter blanket that Mother Nature left us. Sadly, January also left with us with some pretty heavy hearts, wouldn’t you say, as a community, I mean. For my readers who share in my grief, you know the heaviness that still exists as a dull ache in my chest. The loss of a young life in the Neville community has affected us all, even though I didn’t have the privilege of know knowing Tarver or his family. What I do know, is in this inexplicable loss, something happened to a community that spoke volumes about this family, about this young man, and quite frankly, gave us a glimpse of what real community looks like. As the tragic news spread across social media platforms, and people were called on to pray, that’s exactly what we did. In fact, and entire community fell to their knees in more ways than one, certainly in prayer, but also in heartbreak. We watched as differences were put aside and rivalries were buried and adversaries became friends. We watched as what looked like thousands gathered for a prayer vigil. We watched as students at area schools wore black and gold. We watched as Neville flags were flown around our community as a way to support this family, this school who had lost one of their own. We watched and we ached. I know this all too well, readers, and while I write about silly adventures in my life,


or what camping trip to take with your family, or feeding my donkey, I cautiously tread near the subject of losing my son. It’s hard, friends, to write about something that is so personal and makes me so vulnerable. Still. You see, it was a little over 20 years ago that Scott and I were given then news that our baby would not make it. That’s still, very hard to write, and quite honestly, as I do, hard to read the screen of my computer through my tears. Some people say that the further you get from their death, the easier it gets. I say that’s a personal experience and for me, while the raw pain has certainly eased, the loss in your heart, the loss in your life, the loss that can never be voided, is still there. Which is why I have ached for this beautiful family, in the loss of their son, their brother, their nephew, their grandson, their cousin, their friend. Because it’s true, as time begins to fly by, just as the month of January has, the ache does subside, but it never goes away. So, as I sat on my couch this week with the conviction to write about the thing that is most vulnerable in my life, I searched for the words to say. What introspect could I give to a community that might by chance, read the words of my column in hope of feeling even a thread of comfort? So, I reached down deep and the words began to flow…actually leap to my screen. For I already know what’s in the mind and on the hearts of many, many people in this community, because it’s a shared sentiment. “What can I do?” First, you can hold this family close, close in your prayers and thoughts. Lift them up in a way that they will feel the daily support that they will need to move forward. Next, being there for them sometimes simply means “sitting” with them in silence. There will be times when they will want to talk, and some days when they

“And my prayer for them, is that they feel the love, the prayers, the thoughts of an entire community, young and old, as we continue to wrap our arms around them.”

won’t want to utter a word. Allow them the space for both. Make it safe, so they feel the comfort in knowing that both is okay. I lost a few friends during those first few years after we lost Samuel, because I “wasn’t myself” and I “didn’t take their calls” or when I did take their call I “didn’t want to talk.” Thankfully, we found our way back to one another, but the black abyss that you are in is so encompassing and overwhelming that you don’t want to worry about making conversations about someone’s vacation or what color they are painting their kitchen. The best thing you can do, is let them be what they need to be in that one moment. Because there are days when you are simply trying to get from one moment to the next. Also, and this one is big, let them talk about their child, as much and as often as they want. I had someone tell me that talking about Samuel made her uncomfortable. After that comment registered with me and I called her a name that rhymes with itch, (just kidding, don’t anyone panic that I’m going to use the first curse word in my column in 11 years…I’m just trying to lighten this heavy, heavy mood), but I simply told her that talking about him made it feel like he was still with me. In retrospect, the truth is, Samuel will always be with me, whether I talk about him or not.

I have found ways through the years to keep him close and his brother and sister (who never got to meet him) have been very intentional in keeping him close as well. It will be so very important, so critical in the healing process, to be able to talk about memories, to laugh, to cry, to scream, because all of those emotions, while they are very normal, may come all at one time. And that’s when it will be just okay... let them come. We will never understand this senseless tragedy. We won’t. And we will spend all of our days trying to make sense out of something that just doesn’t make sense. We want answers, right? We want to know why…it’s human and it’s the one thing that all tragedies have in common. But while we don’t have an answer, we do have the capacity to lock arms and move forward in a way that will honor Tarver’s life. We can do things and say things and commit ourselves to holding this dear family up that allows them the time and the capacity to heal. It may feel, right now, and likely does, that healing isn’t possible. How long those feelings last just depends on the person…grieving is such a personal process, and everyone goes through it in their way. Allow them to. It may look different, or seem different or feel different, but respect the way that they are moving forward, because the most important thing, is that they do. And my prayer for them, is that they feel the love, the prayers, the thoughts of an entire community, young and old, as we continue to wrap our arms around them. 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.




Passion for People

“I’m a people’s person. I love people. I would say the best part about owning this restaurant is I get to meet new people every day,” he says, adding, “I treat each and every customer the way I want to be treated.”


Coney Island should elicit images of quaint fairground rides, an emblematic, one-hundred-year-old boardwalk, and the promise of enjoying one of America’s most favored chili-topped dishes, the Coney Island hot dog. While many historians credit the origin of this distinctly topped sausage and bun to the Brooklyn seaside neighborhood, outside of the Tri-State area the name stirs up a much different hot dog setting. Across the country, Coney Island diners have been surfacing as early as the 1900s, most likely by Greek and Macedonian immigrants. Each diner maintains the tradition of classic American diner grabs while adding personal flair and regional favorites. One such Coney Island, located on North 7th Street in West Monroe, is pushing the bounds of Coney Island diners, both in and out of the restaurant. Before buying Coney Island Connection from Scott Sanders, West Monroe local Chris Lewis was busy running a successful semi-trailer truck company hauling wood chips for clients. “All I knew was work, work, work,” he says, adding, “I’ve never in my life had intentions of even owning a restaurant.” Be this as it may, he has had his share of restaurant experience. He landed his first restaurant job at just eleven years old, a place that went by the name of Zipps. Then, at around fourteen, he got a job bussing tables at Gravy’s, a restaurant where his mother was employed. “I remember I used to get paid every Wednesday, sixty bucks, and I thought I was the richest kid,” he recalls fondly. During high school, his last fast-food gig would be at Coney Island Connection, a place his mother had been working at, and would be for almost twenty-five years. Her consistent work ethic caught the attention of Sanders who offered her his business when he was getting ready to move out of state. Though she declined, she encouraged her son to meet with Sanders. “The rest is history,” he says. “And still, to this day, I’m thanking God for it.” On June 22, 2019, Lewis proudly announced the reopening of Coney Island Connection, much to the exhilaration of a loyal customer base. “Almost cried when they shut down. Just opened a few days ago and 88 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

it’s our third time this week to eat here,” confesses one customer on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Though it had good bones, Lewis wanted to personalize the space and the menu. As a proud West Monrovian and a product of its education system by way of Riser Junior High School and West Monroe High School, he wanted to honor his roots. As an homage to his high school stomping grounds, he began by changing the interior’s original yellow and red aesthetic to blue, red, and white. “I loved West Monroe High

School,” he asserts, going as far as to have the portrait of legendary West Monroe football coach Don Shows painted on one of the restaurant walls. “He was like a father to me and the community,” says Lewis. Adjacent to the painting hangs a tribute to West Monroe’s defeat of Ruston (32-14) at the 1998 State Championship Games. The vintage frame is replete with classic football imagery and Rebel-themed emblems including the familiar West Monroe helmet, mascot, and the Confederate Battle Flag. In

addition to honoring a personally significant local landmark, the space is decorated with a handful of patriotic signs that read, “Proud to be an American,” “God Bless America,” and “In this Place We Always: Salute Our Flag…” Many diners find the aesthetic nostalgic and memorable. “We also changed the menu,” says Lewis emphatically. Of course, most Coney Island staples remain on the menu, like burgers, tamales, po’ boy, and their chili cheese dog, voted Best Chili Cheese Dog in the ArkLaMiss. Currently, the menu also features fried pickles, fried green beans, specialty burgers, steak fingers, funnel cake fries, frozen lemonade, and Blue Bunny ice cream. “If I go to a restaurant, I would like my food to be hot and fresh. And it’s why we cook to order here. I truly believe that a customer has no problem with waiting four to five minutes for some fresh food versus waiting one to two minutes for some cold food,” he says, attributing this additional effort to how successful his business has gone. Lewis’s favorites include the ham and cheese po’ boy, served on Gambino bread, dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes, and served with fries and gravy. For dessert, he tends to lean the brownie route. Customers are not shy about voicing their go-to menu items on the business’s Facebook page. One reviewer admitted to cheating on her diet with a turkey and cheese sandwich, which gave her the feeling of “life with no parole.” Another gleamed at the nostalgia it brought her saying, “I was brought back to eating way back to my grandma’s house.” Other posts listed the dive’s sweet potato fries, “famous” patty melt, and Western Burger (topped with fried onion rings, barbeque sauce, bacon, and Swiss cheese). A larger menu has also meant a larger lunch rush. So to meet this rapid growth, Lewis decided to extend the left wing of the restaurant. As a result, the intimate space, which used to seat approximately thirty-two people, now can hold almost seventy. Great for birthday parties or meetings, larger groups can rent the room and privately enjoy classic American staples done right. Despite the restaurant’s success, Lewis admits he never intended to own a restaurant. His initial pull was to build and expand the community. “I’m a people’s person. I love people. I would say the best part about owning this restaurant is I get to meet new people every day,” he says, adding, “I treat each and every customer the way I want to be treated.” Many customers can attest to this, and many of their Facebook reviews emphasize impeccable customer service. “The way I was raised is when you come into the presence of someone, I was raised to speak,” he emphasizes. The WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 89

“If I go to a restaurant, I would like my food to be hot and fresh. And it’s why we cook to order here. I truly believe that a customer has no problem with waiting four to five minutes for some fresh food versus waiting one to two minutes for some cold food.” ~ Chris Lewis


second someone walks into Coney Island Connection, they are welcomed. “That’s what we’re big on here,” he adds, revealing that treating people like family is his way of establishing the kind of connections that turn a restaurant into a community and service-centered cornerstone. “When God blessed me with this restaurant, it allowed me to expand a whole lot more, like Wi-Fi,” says Lewis. While he had already been providing service to his community, owning the restaurant allowed him to increase his outreach. Once a month, Coney Island Connections feeds a local business for free, as well as local sports teams. Occasionally, he will invite high school kids to clean tables on Saturdays, which helps them make some extra money and keeps them motivated. Recently his team packaged over 200 boxes for local seniors in need. During Thanksgiving, the restaurant gave away free turkeys. Also, Lewis is a supporter of veterans, periodically providing them with free meals. His expansive donations and heart for service seem to know no bounds. In fact, during January’s winter storm, he posted his number on the restaurant’s Facebook page offering road assistance or a ride to work for anyone in need.

“I’m a worker here,” says Lewis, who doesn’t see himself as a boss. “I sweep, I mop, I get on the grill. I do everything they do. You can go out and ask them right now.” His dedication stems from strong family ties, as well as the spectacular circumstances of his success. “Where I come from, this is a miracle,” he says referring to the socio-economic climate of his upbringing. “My mother and father were living paycheck to paycheck, trying to pay the water bill. I remember my mother and father only had one vehicle,” he says. He is grateful to the people of West Monroe, Monroe, and the surrounding areas for choosing Coney Island Connection versus big chain restaurants. The restaurant business has been a challenging learning curve for Lewis. And while there have been times when he has wanted to give up, questioning what he has gotten himself into, he followed his values to where he is now—put God first, give one hundred percent, and treat people the way you want to be treated. Some doubted his endeavor. “They told me that I was young, and I was black. And I was not going to make it in West Monroe.” But Lewis is a living example that perseverance is key to success.

Now Offering PDO Thread Lifts

A Minimally Invasive Procedure to Get the Face You Love BY JUDY WAGONER


HE LAWS OF GRAVITY TELL US that “what comes up must also come down.” Sadly, the same can be said of our skin. As we get older, skin begins to sag as a result of a natural loss of collagen and elastin — two proteins that provide the foundation of skin’s tautness and elasticity. And, thanks to gravity, our skin loses its firmness and shape over time… causing our skin to sag. But now, there’s a way to counteract those effects on the face and body…with a non-surgical aesthetic procedure. PDO Threading may sound intimidating, but this popular treatment is an exciting, lifting and collagen-boosting procedure that will leave you feeling and looking younger. PDO threads are hypodermic needles, preloaded with a synthetic monofilament, barbed suture containing Polydioxanone. Once placed in the face or body, these barbed

threads have 3 amazing effects on the skin: Instant skin lifting, instant skin tightening, and collagen stimulation. Polydioxanone is FDA - approved and is some of the safest material that can be used in the body. Over a period of 4-6 months, your skin will fully absorb the PDO threads (sutures) without leaving any scar tissue. Then, the body’s inflammatory response continues to produce even more collagen for up to two years. The procedure is minimally invasive and is usually performed in less than an hour, with little to no downtime. Our patients love their results. Tens of thousands of treatments have been performed for decades with minimal reports of sensitivity, allergic reactions, or severe side effects. It’s a great alternative for those who don’t wish to undergo traditional lift surgery. It’s versatile, allowing us to treat practically

all areas of the face and body, including neck, abdomen, inner thighs, knees, buttocks, hands and more. Our Nurse Practitioner, Wendy Wilkinson, can help identify areas on your face and body that would benefit from this procedure or maybe another. Professional Laser Center also offers Botox, Filler, IPL, Laser Hair Removal, PinPointe Foot Laser, Microneedling, BioSculpt EMS Body Sculpting, Shockwave for Cellulite, and Bioidentical Hormone Replacement. If you’re looking for a safe and costeffective treatment to lift, tighten and rejuvenate your skin, a PDO Thread Lift may be just what you’ve been looking for. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, call 318-361-9066. We would love to turn your dreams of beautiful, youthful skin into reality.


Wound Ostomy Care Clinic Wound Ostomy Care in West Monroe


N THE HEART OF WEST MONROE, LOUISIANA, LIES A small-town gem - the Wound Ostomy Care Clinic owned and operated by Karen Stansbury, FNP-C, CWOCN. Established on January 1, 2018, this family-owned clinic has become a pillar of support for the local community, offering specialized care for individuals dealing with wounds and ostomy concerns. Karen Stansbury, along with her husband and daughter, embarked on the journey of opening the Wound Ostomy Care Clinic to bridge the gap in specialized care for patients in the area. Karen was eager and motived to provide ostomy services due to the lack of this specialty in the area. Ostomy means a stoma or opening surgically created on the abdomen that allows stool and urine to be evacuated from the body. The most common reasons patients receive an ostomy/stoma is because of colon or bladder cancer, ruptured diverticuli, crohns/ulcerative colitis or trauma. When asked about her ostomy patient care, she says “There is no need for a patient to suffer when they can return to a “new normal” and have a great quality of life without the ostomy being the center focus in control of their life.” The first 6 months of starting the clinic were marked by unexpected tasks when Karen’s father passed away. Navigating the delicate balance between personal loss and professional commitments proved to be an immense challenge. In reflecting on this period, Karen acknowledged the crucial role played by her husband, family, staff, friends, and colleagues, who provided unwavering support. Their collective strength helped Karen find the motivation and drive necessary to continue providing quality care. Fast forward and the first three years were particularly challenging for the clinic, given its reliance on referrals. Karen realized that having an exceptional service wasn’t enough; awareness was key. This involved attending meetings and seminars, leveraging social media, utilizing local businesses, and even going door-to-door to healthcare providers to educate them on the clinic’s services. Karen’s mantra throughout this journey has been simple yet powerful: “Be positive, be kind, and have good outcomes.” This philosophy became the guiding force behind the clinic’s success. Karen believes that maintaining a positive and compassionate approach not only enhances patient care but also fosters a welcoming environment. Patients can sense the warm welcoming feel and are set at ease from their very first visit. Over time, the Wound Ostomy Care Clinic gradually built a reputation for excellence in West Monroe. Karen’s commitment to providing quality care combined with strategic marketing efforts paid off. Karen also says that without the help from her supportive family and staff, the clinic would not function as well as it does. When asked about her services, Karen states, “I think one set back is people thinking I only do ostomy care. Ostomy care is only one portion of my practice. Wound care plays a large part as well. Some of the detailed wound services offered are Diabetic, Arterial, and Venous Leg Ulcers. The clinic also treats Abdominal and Trauma wounds, Pressure Ulcers/Injuries, and even Post Surgery Wounds. Karen Stansbury’s journey is one of determination and a commitment. The Wound Ostomy Care Clinic stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedicated healthcare professionals who go above and beyond to ensure that every individual receives the care they deserve.


Conversation Hearts

Start the Conversation About Your Fertility


OVE IS IN THE AIR WITH Valentines Day approaching; the shelves are filled with chocolates, flowers, cards, and conversation hearts. Naturally, many celebrate love in the month of February and 9-10 months later the product of that “celebration” arrives (November birthdays anyone?). As February comes and goes, how do we turn from the conversation hearts of Valentines Day to opening up about a conversation close to our hearts at Positive Steps, fertility. For those experiencing infertility, opening up about the journey can be hard, some citing fear of judgement, embarrassment, or privacy as the reason(s). With 1 in 6 people affected by infertility, it’s much more normal than most realize, so how do you start the conversation with your doctor and with each other? The Who (do you turn to?): When talking about fertility, trusted friends and

family can often be a source of support, but when needing real answers and solutions it is important to look to a specialist to guide you through the fertility journey and help you reach your goals. The What (is important?): How do you weed through the vast amount of available information to find “what” is real and relevant to your fertility and what is nonsense? Looking back to the “Who,” the right “fertility specialist guide” can help you decipher and streamline what is actually important to your specific fertility journey. The When (do I need to start the conversation?): Anytime can be the right time to start the conversation and, particularly, for those where pregnancy has not occurred in 1 year without prevention (6 months for those over 35 years old). The Where (do I go?): Positive Steps Fertility of course! With offices in Madison, MS and Shreveport, LA, as well as several satellite locations in surrounding cities, we may be closer than

you think. We also invite you to join us for our private, online support group at 6pm the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month, follow us on Facebook for the link (or give us a call to set up a consult). Finally, The Why: This is often a very personal answer and can be different for everyone but is often centered around love. We love what we do at Positive Steps Fertility, and we would love to help you build your family. Wherever you are in your journey, we are here to help; we encourage you to start the conversation about your fertility. Happy Valentine’s Day from Positive Steps Fertility.


Pop & Posie Party Planning

Balloon Design, Luxury Rentals, and Event Styling


AYLYN POLAND, A LOCAL entrepreneur with a passion for creating unforgettable moments. In January of 2022, she took a leap of faith and started Pop&Posie Party, an event design and balloon decor business. Armed with a deep love for celebrations and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Kaylyn turned her vision into reality. The past two years have been a whirlwind of excitement, growth, and countless moments of pure joy. Let’s take a closer look at her story, where creativity meets the everyday hustle of turning dreams into reality. One of the cornerstones of Kaylyn’s success has been her passion for creating memorable experiences. From intimate birthday celebrations to grand events, Kaylyn pours her heart into every detail, ensuring that each event is a true reflection of the personalities and stories being celebrated. The joy Kaylyn experiences in her work is contagious. She shares, “Every event is so


unique. I love the challenge of turning dreams into reality and seeing the joy on my clients’ faces. It’s incredibly fulfilling.” The community response to Pop&Posie has been overwhelmingly positive. Through social media and word of mouth, her reputation for creating magical moments has spread, leading to a steady stream of clients seeking her expertise. Kaylyn’s dedication to quality and customer satisfaction has resulted in repeat business and glowing testimonials, solidifying her place as a trusted event designer in North Louisiana. While the road to success has been paved with hard work and dedication, Kaylyn emphasizes the importance of enjoying the journey. “Building a business is not just about reaching milestones; it’s about truly being present for the process and celebrating the small victories along the way. It hasn’t always been easy, but knowing that I am going to be the one to help create such incredible memories keeps me going.”

As Kaylyn looks back on the last two years, she is grateful for the support of her clients, friends, and family who have been instrumental in her success. She remarks, “I am very diligent in reminding myself and others that I would not be where I am without the support of my clients. I get emotional every time I think about the wonderful people that I have had the opportunity to work with. I am so thankful for every person who has given me the ability to be a part of their special days.” With a heart full of gratitude and eyes set on the future, Pop&Posie continues to evolve, bringing joy and beauty to countless celebrations. In a world that often yearns for moments of joy and connection, Kaylyn’s journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of passion, creativity, hard work, and the simple joy of celebrating life’s special moments.

Huck Outdoors Lifestyle Apparel Celebrate the Outdoors in Style


N THE HEART OF WEST MONROE A FAMILY-OWNED outdoor apparel business has been crafting its legacy for the past five years. Meet Huck Outdoors, a local business that has become popular with the outdoor lifestyle and apparel scene. As the company gears up to celebrate its 5th anniversary, we delve into the story that began in the Huckabay living room one evening after a hunting season had come to a close. Join us on this journey with Huck Outdoors, where the spirit of family and a passion for the outdoors create a brand that’s not just clothing, but a way of life. Owner Chris Huckabay says that the idea of creating a brand called Huck Outdoors comes from everyone calling him and his sons “Huck” for years. The Huckabay’s have been deeply rooted in the outdoors their entire lives and wanted to share their love for the outdoors with others. When asked how Huck Outdoors started, Chris states, “I slept on the idea but it just kept coming back day after day, so I decided to give it a go.” Once Chris decided to pull the trigger, with the support from his family, it took off. Family values are important to the Huckabay’s, and Chris says as a family owned company the greatest value in guiding Huck Outdoors forward is just to remain a positive light in the outdoor hunting world so that people can enjoy the values that the great outdoors and the good Lord gives. As far as merchandise that Huck Outdoors carries, Chris says every

design comes directly from the family/team. As far as items carried, Huck Outdoors has everything from hats, t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, cups, coolers, etc. Huck Outdoors is also heavily involved in giving back to the community that has played a large role in their success. Chris says, “The first year of business we created an Autism Awareness product that helped raise funding to support local awareness groups.” Also, every month of October the Huckabay family creates a product that is wrapped around cancer awareness. Chris says they never know who they want to help next, but they know God will point them in the right direction every time. Most recently, Huck outdoors teamed up with a local foster system to create Huck Toy Drive for Christmas. Proceeds helped fill a trailer and deliver those gifts to a church that made sure the families received them. As we enter this new 2024 year, Chris says they have hopes of seeking out more retail space for wholesale opportunities across the country for other retailers to carry their brand. Chris believes the outdoor market is stronger than ever, and for that he is grateful. Chris says, “We are constantly watching the market to see where it’s headed, but at the same time we do what we feel is best for Huck Outdoors.” This locally grown and nationally known brand is a staple in the outdoor world, and the sky is the limit for the Huck Outdoor family. You can shop online at and visit their Facebook or instagram to keep up with their latest products.







arrod may be young, but the 19-year-old Louisiana State University sophomore is certain she is meant to be an artist — “I found my calling, I guess you would say.” However, she hasn’t always felt that way. As a child growing up in Arkansas, Harrod spent much of her time drawing and coloring. However, she didn’t begin to take art seriously until she and her family moved to Monroe during her sophomore year of high school. In fact, she admits, “I didn’t know fine art or mixed media art or anything like that was a thing until I moved here. I definitely didn’t see myself in this world at all.” Harrod credits Robin Hamaker, a local interior designer and artist, with ushering her into painting and the North Louisiana art scene. Now, thanks to Hamaker’s guidance and encouragement, “working artist” is a title Harrod can claim. She’s settling into the professional art world quite nicely, having had her pieces included in the 13th and final Tish Miller Design Studio Sweep art sale in November, 2023, and available for purchase at The Trove on Tower Drive and Woodstock Monroe in the Garden


District. Harrod also has expansion on the brain, and she’s currently making plans to get her work into more shops in Monroe and beyond. Harrod says the success she’s experienced so far has been rewarding overall. But the journey doesn’t come without obstacles, and one she often finds herself having to overcome is selfdoubt. “Sometimes, I think I’m not good enough to be compared to all of these amazing artists that have years and years of experience,” she says. “But over the past few months, I’ve had a lot of reassurance that my art is good.” That reassurance, much of which has come from Hamaker — “She has helped me in so many ways, more than she knows,” Harrod shares, — helps motivate her to push through the self-doubt and intimidation. But even without it, Harrod would probably find a way to put herself out there anyway. “What’s going to happen,” she muses, “they tell me my art’s bad? Everybody has an opinion.” Claiming her space among more experienced artists, some of whom have been making and selling artwork since before Harrod was born, is scary. But it has to be done, or no one will know her work. And that, she declares, is the ultimate goal: “I want people to know me and my art.” How exactly people will know her art is still unclear. Harrod is still ironing out the more immediate steps of her journey, let alone the long-term goals. She tells us that right now, she’s pondering things like whether she’ll transfer to another university and change her major from interior design to art and when she will begin hosting her own Painting with a Twist-style class in the area. For now, though, she remains open to opportunities as they come, hoping they’ll result in a wider reach and a larger audience. “I strive to be somewhere other than Monroe,” she shares. “I

PAINTING PROGRESS “My art tells my story when I can’t,” Harrod explains. And, like everyone else’s, her story is made of more than just light, happy parts. There’s depth and darkness, including the loss of her mother when she was just 13 and a close friend last year, and those elements are woven into the paintings Harrod creates, too.

want to spread [my art] elsewhere and have my art in different locations across the U.S I’m grateful for the opportuniy my community has given me, but my dream is to have my collection all over the country.” The art Harrod creates and one day hopes to share with patrons across the nation mostly consists of mixed media on canvas. Occasionally, the artist likes to switch things up and experiment with painting on other surfaces, like wood, candles, or paper, but she says she mostly sticks to working on a canvas — “It’s what I was introduced to first, and it’s what I’m comfortable doing.” Regardless of what she’s painting on, Harrod wants the finished product to achieve a certain goal, and that is to create a sense of peace and calm for anyone who sees it. An advocate for mental health, Harrod knows that a person’s physical space can affect their mind more than they realize. So, keeping that in mind, Harrod sets out to create pieces that can add a sense of calm to a room. That’s why she sticks to such a light color palette, she says, adding with a laugh, “Intense colors scare me.” Harrod hopes that when people see one of her paintings hanging in a room, it feels peaceful, like a breath of fresh air. After all, she adds, a person’s home is their resting place and safe space; if they choose to decorate it with her artwork, she wants it to add to the calm energy, not fight against it. “I want someone to look at my art and be able to take a deep breath and be relaxed by it,” she says. That’s how Harrod feels as she’s creating the work — calm and relaxed. The 2022 Neville High School graduate says painting is a peaceful escape from reality, adding, “I’ll sit in my studio for hours on end and not even realize.” No matter how peaceful she feels after a few hours-long painting session or how relaxed the final product makes someone else feel, Harrod says there’s more to her artwork than just a soothing color palette and a series of masterful brushstrokes. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 99

“My art tells my story when I can’t,” Harrod explains. And, like everyone else’s, her story is made of more than just light, happy parts. There’s depth and darkness, including the loss of her mother when she was just 13 and a close friend last year, and those elements are woven into the paintings Harrod creates, too. She reveals the last year has been a significant journey for her, filled with plenty of ups and downs. The things she’s experienced and overcome during that time only leave her more motivated to tell her story in her work. Not that Harrod particularly needed the extra motivation. She shares early in the conversation that she has plenty of support from loved ones, and while she appreciates the reassurance, she is her primary motivating force. She is naturally driven, and coupled with her self-discipline, her desire to make art pushes her to put herself out there, continue creating, and work toward her goals. “I want [art] to be something to keep me going,” she says, “and it has been. It’s helped a lot, pushing myself to keep doing it even when my confidence isn’t great. I love doing it. If y’all like it, great. If y’all don’t, great.” And that — pushing yourself to keep making art, regardless of whether anyone else likes it or not — is the advice Harrod has for other artists, particularly those who, like her, are just beginning their careers. “Just keep doing it,” she urges. “Don’t listen to what others say about you or your work because art in any form is art. It will always be beautiful in some way, whether it isn’t or it is. Just keep going. It’ll all come together in the end.”


ULM Kappa Delta Sorority Hosts Annual Color Run


N A VIBRANT DISPLAY OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST CHILD abuse, Kappa Delta sorority invites everyone to join their annual color run at Forsythe Park in Monroe, Louisiana, on March 16, 2024. This lively event not only promises a colorful experience for participants but also aims to make a meaningful impact on the community. The 5k color run will kick off at 9:00 a.m., preceded by registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Additionally, this year’s festivities include a 1k Fun Run at 11:00 a.m., ensuring a fun and inclusive atmosphere for participants of all ages and their furry friends. The heart of the event lies in its noble cause – all proceeds from the color run will benefit Prevent Child Abuse America and the local beneficiary, The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home. Kappa Delta sorority, recognizing the destructive impact of abuse and neglect on confidence, passionately strives to build confidence in others. This commitment is reflected in the event’s purpose – preventing and ending child abuse. An admirable 80% of the funds raised from this year’s Shamrock event will directly support The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, a local organization serving the community. The remaining 20% will contribute to Prevent Child Abuse America, one of the oldest and largest organizations dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurs. The significance of this dual support demonstrates the sorority’s commitment to both local and national efforts in the fight against child abuse. Expressing gratitude for the generosity and kindness of each participant, Kappa Delta sorority and the benefiting organizations extend their appreciation to those who sign up or contribute to this important cause. The event not only seeks to raise funds but also aims to increase awareness and understanding of the critical issues surrounding child abuse and neglect. Participants are encouraged to come prepared to leave more knowledgeable about these causes, as well as more colorful than they arrived. For those interested in becoming vendors or with any other inquiries, the sorority has provided the email This open invitation emphasizes the sorority’s desire for community engagement and collaboration in their mission. In a thoughtful touch, participants can secure event shirts with their registration, available until February 29, 2024. After this date, shirts will be distributed based on the order of registration, adding an extra incentive for early participants. As the date approaches, the Kappa Delta sorority looks forward to uniting the community in a joyous and colorful event that not only promotes physical activity but, more importantly, supports the crucial cause of preventing child abuse and neglect. Visit the shamrock website or scan the QR code for more information and to sign up!




Step into the spotlight this Valentine’s Day with chic looks from area boutiques. Whether it’s a date night or an evening with friends, these dresses are all pretty in pink. Don’t shy away from rhinestone accents, bold sequins and effortlessly chic cardigans – these looks have everything you need to sparkle this February. MUAH by Meka Bennett Photo by Kelly Moore Clark Model Kelli Savoie

LO L A J A N E BOUTIQUE Sparkle this Valentine’s Day in this mosaic sequined dress from Lola Jane Boutique. Accessorize with rhinestone hoop earrings for a look that shines.

Special thanks to Layton Castle for letting us use their beautiful location and Pop&Posie Party Planning for the creative balloon display.

H E R R I N G S TO N E S This pink dress with a rhinestone ribbon and neckline is a show-stopper. Pair it with rhinestone heels and statement earrings for a look that will light up the room.


HEMLINE MONROE We adore this baby pink micro mini! Featuring a flattering square neckline, wide straps, and a figure-skimming fit, you can’t go wrong with this faux leather mini. Pair it with a striped cardigan, heart bag and cream suede heels. (The silver metallic booties from page 103 are also available at Hemline).




Megan Gimber, FNP at The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group As certified ZO Skin Health experts, the team at The Medical Spa suggest the medical-grade products for baseline skin care. ZO products are available for all skin types and help restore skin to a healthy state. During consultations, The Medical Spa experts look deeply at your skin and the results of a skin quiz to determine your wants and desires. Then they customize a skin care regime tailored specifically to each patient. Typically patients begin with a low-dose retinol, which comes in all different types and strengths. When it comes to retinol, patients may walk, jog, or run - depending on skin sensitivity and tolerance. Naturally, using a heavier dose of retinol results in more visible effects. Those with sensitive skin typically start with a lighter dose and adjust as needed. Taking baby steps by applying retinol only a few days a week and in certain spots can help desensitize the skin. During a consultation, be specific about what skin issues you are noticing. Some examples include: skin elasticity, wrinkles, pigment changes, neck area changes, and jowls around the mouth - this being a common one as we begin losing bone density and collagen and gravity starts pulling downwards. Consultations are always free and include a plan of care that considers your price range. Plans can be structured around a 12-month time frame or even as short as a 6-month period. Moving beyond baseline skin care, The Medical Spa offers a variety of treatments at various price points to target a range of existing skin issues and preventative care. Some patients elect to do a 3-step chemical peel which

requires a few days of downtime. The inoffice treatment can improve the signs of aging and combat skin discoloration. Microneedling is a popular procedure that stimulates collagen production. It works by creating micro wounds all over the face and neck areas which allows collagen to repair and regenerate. Microneedling helps with skin texture, pigmentation, and treats the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. One option is Legend Pro which has radio frequency (RF) built into the treatment. The procedure uses TriPollar RF thermal energy and RF-assisted ultra-thin electrodes to tone the muscle layers of the face and neck. The second microneedling option is Rejuvapen, which also stimulates collagen production but without radio frequency. Similar to SkinPen Microneedling, though not as aggressive as Morpheus 8, Rejuvapen involves some red light therapy. Both Legend Pro and Rejuvapen treatments involve one day of minimal downtime meaning no products should be applied to the face. The Medical Day Spa team recommends microneedling in a 3-series session for the most visible results, with one session every four weeks. Again, the procedures are catered to each patient’s preferences and skin care needs. The Legend Pro can be used alone for RF for a volumetric application to tone and tighten loose skin and to reduce sagging and cellulite. Using a glycerinbase conductor on the skin, the heat waves stimulate the collagen to rebuild. Patients are able to target specific areas. The procedure can be performed on the arms, legs, and abdomen or wherever cellulite accumulates, though the most common areas treated are the neck and jowls. As

for results, patients can expect tightness and firmness from the treatment which The Medical Spa experts compare to a hot stone massage. The team recommends 4-6 sessions for optimal results, followed by two maintenance treatments over the next six months. One session lasts about 20-25 minutes, and patients can expect before and after pictures. Other treatment options include Botox and Dysport, which are neurotoxins used to diminish wrinkles. The noninvasive injections temporarily relax facial muscles and smooth the surface of the skin. Botox and Dysport are primarily used to treat lateral canthal lines (crow’s feet and laugh lines), forehead wrinkles and frown lines between the eyebrows. If a patient is medically approved, Botox can be used to treat headaches. Other treatment results with Botox and Dysport include slimming jaw lines, unclenching jaws, lip flips, and lifting eyebrows. Fillers are popular procedures at The Medical Spa as well. Juvederm and Restylane, both facial fillers, use gel made with hyaluronic acid that can be placed in the lips to add volume or placed in the upper face (cheek area) to fill in from lost bone density. The gel can also be placed in the chin, the jowl area, nasolabial folds, or in the jawline to create balance in the face, to lessen sagging, and sharpen the jawline. Though the effects are not permanent, the changes can last for several months up to a year. In January, The Medical Spa is offering new products like SKINVIVE, a microdroplet injectable that hydrates the skin. Using hyaluronic acid, SKINVIVE creates a glowing effect while addressing texture changes and dullness, as well as improving skin smoothness and hydration. The procedure is minimally invasive and specifically targets the cheeks and jowl areas of the face. Another new product is Sculptra, an FDA approved collagen stimulator that is injected in different areas of the face to build collagen over time, with the effects lasting up to two years. Sculptra can reverse visible signs of the aging process and is comparable in price to traditional facial fillers. For more information about The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group, follow the company on Facebook and Instagram. You will find giveaways, specials, and new product announcements. Alle’ products (Botox, Juvederm, and SKINVIVE) and Aspire products (Dysport, Restylane and Sculptra) offer reward points that can be used toward the purchase of additional products. Call Megan Gimber, FNP and The Medical Spa team today. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 107

Dr. Timothy Mickel, MD, FACS, BoardCertified Plastic Surgeon at Mickel Plastic Surgery Audrey Hepburn once said, “beauty is being the best possible version of yourself, inside and out.” And just as the inner beauty of spiritual health requires discipline and long-term commitment, so does looking your best on the outside. Since 1990, Dr. Timothy Mickel and the rest of the team at Mickel Plastic Surgery have specialized in doing just that helping you look your best. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach - age, skin type, sun exposure, concomitant medical problems and the patient’s desires all play a role. That’s why training, expertise, and decades of experience matter. To address these individual needs, Mickel Plastic Surgery offers a full range of services from non-invasive medical aesthetics to injectables like Botox and fillers to minimally invasive office procedures to surgical facial rejuvenation. But no matter the patient’s age or needs, Dr. Mickel feels that the foundational step in turning back the clock is simple. It all starts with good skin care. Natalie Todd, a licensed aesthetician who has worked with Dr. Mickel for her entire 25-year career, spearheads medical aesthetics at Mickel Plastic Surgery and is a certified expert in the ZO Skincare program. Natalie and Dr. Mickel introduced the ZO program to this area in 2007 because it offers medical grade products centered around retin-A and its cousin, retinol - basic building blocks of skin health that should be part of everyone’s skincare regimen. Moreover, the cleansers, toners, pigment equalizers, skin brighteners and sunscreens that make up the rest of the ZO line are all designed to complement each other, working together to give your skin a radiant, youthful glow. In addition to Natalie, almost everyone at Mickel Plastic Surgery - Dr. Mickel; his office manager, Hope McLemore; his Patient Care Coordinator, Rachel Spires; one of his nurses, Ashley 108 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Haynes, RN - is a certified ZO “expert.” They understand the products and will not only take the time to explain why they work and how to use them, but will be available to answer questions, help you through the adjustment phase of the new regimen and fine tune it as necessary to give you the best result. At the initial skincare consultation, Natalie will aggressively exfoliate your skin and cleanse the debris from your pores by performing a Hydrafacial, a procedure that essentially power washes your face. She then examines your skin under magnification, stripped clean of make-up, dirt and dead skin cells, and can more accurately determine the products and services that will best suit your needs. These other aesthetic services might include microneedling, dermaplaning or laser hair removal. And since Natalie has worked under the direction and supervision of Dr. Mickel for over two decades, she has become highly skilled at more aggressive treatments such as Fraxel laser resurfacing, which addresses fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture and mild laxity; and Lumecca IPL, which not only improves skin texture, but also treats uneven pigmentation and broken capillaries on the face.

But no matter the patient’s age or needs, Dr. Mickel feels that the foundational step in turning back the clock is simple. It all starts with good skin care.

Aging, however, is more than skin deep. It involves laxity of all the tissues of the face, allowing gravity to eventually make everything go south. There is also a tendency to lose some of the fatty fullness of the face as we age, compounding the effects of gravity. Fortunately for us, Dr. Mickel has a range of options to help us address these typical, predictable aging changes. For patients in their late 30’s up to the early 60’s who desire an aggressive approach but are not yet ready to have a facelift or eyelid surgery, Dr. Mickel offers several other non-surgical options. Some treatments use radiofrequency energy to heat the collagen in the skin and underlying fatty tissue, causing it to thicken and contract which results in skin rejuvenation and tightening. These

include Morpheus8, a microneedling radiofrequency technique used on the skin surface, and Accutite treatments, which apply the radiofrequency energy to the fatty tissue and underside of the skin, melting fat and tightening the skin from the inside out. While the skin tightening and textural improvement of Morpheus8 treatments can stand alone, the combination of Morpheus8 and Accutite is synergistic and is much more powerful. These treatments can improve the face, neck, jawline and in some patients even the lower eyelids. Dr. Mickel personally performs the Accutite treatments under local anesthesia with light oral sedation. The first of three Morpheus8 treatments is done at the same time as the Accutite treatment, with the subsequent two treatments done at six to eight week intervals by either Natalie or his nursing staff. Ellacor is a procedure that has been nicknamed the “non-surgical facelift” because it actually removes skin. The concept is similar to microneedling, using a device with hollow needles that removes thousands of tiny cores of skin with each of three treatments spaced two to three months apart. These tiny holes heal without a scar, resulting in skin tightening and improvement of the cheeks, jowls, jawline, and neck. As with Accutite, these treatments are done by Dr. Mickel under local anesthesia with oral sedation. Ellacor is a great option for someone who is not ready for, or who simply does not want, a surgical facelift. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) or exosomes, both of which contain growth factors and other substances that facilitate healing and rejuvenation, are frequently

So having read this far you can appreciate that navigating the sea of options for facial rejuvenation can be challenging. Having an expert, well-trained guide who has decades of experience with the full range of procedures and techniques is invaluable in charting the course that is best for you. To learn more about surgical and nonsurgical options to combat aging, contact Dr. Mickel and his staff at Mickel Plastic Surgery.

applied after Ellacor, Morpheus8, laser resurfacing or microneedling to enhance the results. For patients who are ready to have surgical rejuvenation, Dr. Mickel has 33 years of experience with upper and lower eyelid surgery, browlift and face/ neck lift. Over the past several years, he has added fat grafting to most of his facelift surgeries to enhance the results by restoring facial volume and by providing an additional rejuvenative effect from the stem cells contained in the injected fat. Most people think that facelifts and other facial cosmetic surgical procedures are for older patients, but Dr. Mickel says that it makes sense to consider surgery as soon as you begin to be bothered by extra skin or muscle bands in your neck, jowl fat collections that interrupt the flow of your jawline, loss of fullness over your cheekbones, skin excess of your upper eyelids or any of the other typical changes of age. For some patients this is as early as the mid 40’s, for others it may be the early 60’s - mostly depending on your genes. The overriding concept is the younger you take the surgical plunge, the better. Younger patients are healthier, have better skin quality and heal more quickly. Furthermore, the result will not be as obvious to everyone if you have your facelift at age 49, when aging changes are early, as it would be if you wait until you are 69, when aging changes are full-blown. Surgical anonymity may or may not be an issue for you, but either way, Dr. Mickel feels strongly that the goal is to give you a fresher, younger, rejuvenated look - not make you look pulled, weird, or operated on.

Caitlin Robinson, MD, FAAD, FACMS at Louisiana Mohs & Skin Surgery Center As a double board-certified dermatologist and Mohs micrographic dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Caitlin Robinson has been expertly trained in how to keep your skin healthy and looking its best. She stresses 3 musthave components to a skin care regimen to prevent the effects of aging and sun damage: an antioxidant serum, sunscreen, and a topical retinoid. Other products may be beneficial as well, but these three are crucial to maintain skin health and beauty over a lifetime. Starting in the morning, the first step is to apply an antioxidant serum to clean skin. Antioxidant serums consist of various components, such as Vitamin C & Vitamin E, to prevent free radical damage to your skin. These serums can help prevent environmental damage caused by UV radiation & pollution and can help make the skin appear more radiant and youthful. However, not all antioxidant serums are created equally. Dr. Robinson recommends the Skinceuticals line of antioxidant serums, as these have been thoroughly scientifically tested for effectiveness. There are three serums to choose from — CE Ferulic (for most skin types), Phloretin CF (for skin prone to discoloration), and Silymarin CF (for acneprone skin). After applying an antioxidant serum, one should apply sunscreen to the face,

neck, ears, chest, and all other exposed areas. Dr. Robinson recommends a minimum SPF of at least 30 or an optimal SPF of 50 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied daily, even in the winter and on days not spent working outside. One should also remember to reapply regularly. On a regular day where one receives a minimal amount of sun exposure, she recommends reapplying sunscreen at least once at midday. Powder brush-on sunscreens can be helpful for this midday application. The third important step in a skin care routine is a topical retinoid, typically applied in the evening. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and work by increasing cell turnover rate in the skin. In doing this, they can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of pigmentation, and decrease pore size. Importantly, regular use may also decrease incidence of skin cancer. Retinol is a certain type of retinoid found mostly in over-thecounter products. To ensure potency and effectiveness, Dr. Robinson typically recommends obtaining a prescription retinoid from your dermatologist. Retinoids can initially cause peeling of the skin, so it is important to incorporate this product gradually and alongside an effective moisturizer, such as Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore. It’s never too early to start caring for your skin. Dr. Robinson suggests sunscreen daily for all age groups and retinoids/antioxidants as early as teenage years. While budgetary concerns can keep people from investing in skin care products, Dr. Robinson insists you can get started without spending a lot of money. Board-certified dermatologists are highly qualified to answer questions about skin care and can provide recommendations for all budgets. In addition to skin cancer treatment and surgeries, Louisiana Mohs & Skin Surgery Center offers non-surgical cosmetic skin treatments to keep your skin healthy and beautiful. Besides injectables, the office offers chemical peels, intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, and microneedling. Each of these treatments targets and treats the skin in different ways to provide rejuvenation that will help to fight effects of aging and can help prevent the need for surgical intervention later in life. Chemical peels, a time-tested dermatological procedure, offer a versatile solution for skin enhancement with minimal downtime. This treatment involves the application of a chemical WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 109

It’s never too early to start caring for your skin. Dr. Robinson suggests sunscreen daily for all age groups and retinoids/ antioxidants as early as teenage years.

solution to the skin, causing controlled exfoliation and encouraging the regeneration of new, healthier skin cells. The benefits are extensive, ranging from improved skin texture and tone to the reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, acne, and certain types of dark spots. Dr. Robinson tailors the treatment to each patient, ensuring a personalized approach to achieve optimal results. Peels can range from superficial to deep. Most patients will start with a superficial to medium-depth peel. Dr. Robinson uses slightly deeper peels to treat acne scars and for prevention of skin cancers in heavily sun damaged skin. When patients come in for a chemical peel, they can expect a few layers of chemical peel agents to be applied to the face in stages to see how the skin responds. Patients will experience some tingling and maybe a touch of discomfort, but overall the procedure is typically tolerated quite well. After the procedure, one can expect minimal redness and swelling. Peeling starts approximately 48 hours afterward and can last for several days up to a week. The results can last for months following the procedure but are sustained and improved with repeated treatments. Dr. Robinson offers intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy to treat sun damage, age spots, and blood vessels in the skin (such as rosacea), promoting a more even skin tone. IPL works by filtering an intense beam of broad-spectrum light to target either melanin (pigment) or hemoglobin (red blood cells) in the skin. The procedure involves minimal discomfort, with most individuals describing a sensation akin to a rubber band snapping against the skin. Downtime is typically brief, characterized by temporary redness or mild swelling that subsides within a day. The versatility of IPL makes it a great option for those seeking a gentle yet effective approach to address common skin imperfections and to boost collagen production. Dr. Robinson also offers microneedling using the highly effective MicroPen EVO device. Microneedling involves the use of fine, sterile needles to create controlled micro-injuries on the skin’s surface, with the primary aim of stimulating collagen and elastin production. The treatment leads to improvements in skin tone, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall smoother complexion. Following the procedure, patients typically experience mild redness and swelling for a day or two. This minimally invasive approach is helpful for those interested in a non-surgical method to enhance skin texture and tone. Dr. Robinson recommends regular microneedling sessions to promote continued collagen and elastin production over the years. Regardless of the treatment type, Dr. Robinson recommends a series of at least three treatments for maximal results. She also stresses the importance of having a well-trained, experienced provider guiding these types of treatments to ensure effectiveness and safety. With her years of extensive training in procedural dermatology, you can trust Dr. Robinson to help you make the best decisions for the continued health and vitality of your skin. For a dermatologic consultation, contact Dr. Robinson at Louisiana Mohs & Skin Surgery Center. 110 FEBRUARY 2024 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Join Us For Shindig 2024

A Night of Celebration & Support for Ouachita Council on Aging


ET READY FOR THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON! Ouachita Council on Aging is thrilled to announce the return of Shindig, our biggest fundraiser, taking place on Friday, March 15, 2024, from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the picturesque MBH Farm in western Ouachita Parish. This spectacular evening promises a delightful blend of great food, live entertainment, a live auction, and the opportunity to honor a distinguished figure in our community. Lisa Spann and Company will set the stage with a lively mix of dance music, spanning genres from rhythm and blues to country and rock ‘n roll. Renowned in the community, Lisa guarantees an unforgettable night of entertainment. Catering for the event will be provided by Catfish Charlie’s, offering a mouthwatering spread of catfish, chicken, and all the trimmings. As the auctioneer for the live event, Tommy Jackson will guide us through a thrilling “Live auction with great items.” Don’t miss the chance to bid on fantastic offerings and contribute to a worthy cause. Director, Loretta Hudson, invites everyone to immerse themselves in a night of “great food, good friends, and fabulous entertainment.” Shindig has become the “Social Event of the Year,” and this year, we are honored to pay tribute to Wyche Ashcraft. Mr.Ashcraft served on the board of the Ouachita Council on Aging and worked hard tirelessly on the Shindig fundraiser. The event takes place in the beautiful rustic barn at MBH Farm,

surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and magnificent horses, including the resident Clydesdales, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere. Ouachita Council on Aging, celebrating its 54th year of serving seniors, has become the Area Agency on Aging for Ouachita Parish since 1980. With 11 dining and activity sites and 15 Meals on Wheels routes, OCA serves the entire parish, ensuring seniors have access to Congregate Meals, Meals on Wheels, and Non-Emergency Transportation. Your support for Shindig helps sustain over 22 programs available for seniors in Ouachita Parish. Despite federal and state funding, the ever-growing senior population requires additional support. Shindig revenue, along with contributions from local businesses and individuals, plays a crucial role in filling the budget gaps. Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana proudly supports Shindig as the premier sponsor. Billy Justice, board member for Ouachita Council on Aging, emphasizes the importance of this fundraising event for OCA, stating, “The Shindig is their main source for raising additional dollars to fill the budget gaps and meet the needs of our seniors.” Tickets for Shindig are available at the Ouachita Council on Aging office, located at 2407 Ferrand Street, Monroe, LA, or by calling (318) 3870535. If you can’t attend but want to contribute, visit the OCA website at and click on the “Make a Donation” button. Join us for a night of celebration, community, and support at Shindig 2024!


Calendar of Events

For a full list of event happenings in Northeast Louisiana, see our website at Through February 3 Blanket Songs Exhibition This exhibit is full of beautifully handcrafted pieces that you have to see for yourself! "Blanket Songs stands as an immersive testament to the intersection of tradition and innovation, weaving together a rich tapestry of media to narrate a deeply personal story rooted in indigenous heritage. Time: Tues-Fri 9:00 AM to 5:00 pm; Sat 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM Cost: Free Address: Masur Museum of Art | 1400 South Grand Street, Monroe Phone: (318) 329-2237 Through February 25 Biedenharn Mardi Gras Gown Exhibit Mardi Gras season is upon us and to celebrate, the Biedenharn is displaying gorgeous Mardi Gras ball gowns of of the past! View the gowns and outfits of former Krewe of Janus Queens and Kings until February 25th. This exhibit is included in the general tour admission. Time: Tues-Sat 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Cost: Adults $7.00. Military/Senior $6.00. Students $4.00. Address: Biedenharn Museum and Gardens | 2006 Riverside Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

February 1, 10, 22, 24, 28

LA Tech Women’s Basketball Cheer on the Lady Techsters at this home game! Hours: Various times Cost: Varying ticket prices Venue: Thomas Assembly Center, 201 Mayfield Ave, Ruston, LA 71272 Phone: 318-257-3631 February 1 Downtown Art Gallery Crawl The Downtown Art Gallery Crawl is held bi-monthly on the first Thursday of that month in Downtown Monroe and West Monroe. This is an evening of art, food, music, and fun with friends! Time: 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM Cost: Free Address: Downtown Monroe and West Monroe Phone: (318) 512-2131 February 3, 10, 17, 24 Ruston Farmers Market Enjoy local produce and handmade

products at this farmer's market downtown. Hours: 9 am-1 pm Venue: 220 E Mississippi Ave, Ruston, LA 71270 Phone: 318-957-1305

February 3 Krewe of Janus Children's Mardi Gras Parade Laissez les bon temps rouler! The Krewe of Janus Children's Mardi Gras Parade will be held Saturday, February 3rd at Pecanland Mall. Watch children roll by in decorated mini Mardi Gras floats throwing beads, candy, and other throws! Lineup is at 9:00 AM and the parade will roll out at 10:00 AM in the Center Court. Time: 10:00 AM Cost: Free to attend Address: Pecanland Mall | 4700 Millhaven Rd, Monroe Phone: (318) 388-2323 February 3 17th Annual Krewe of PAWS Mardi Gras Pet Parade The 17th Annual Krewe of PAWS Mardi Gras Pet Parade, in conjuction with the Krewe of Janus, will roll through Antique Alley on February 3rd! Watch as dressed up animals make their way through the streets in decorated carts. Time: 1:00 PM Cost: Free Address: Antique Alley| 100-400 blocks of Trenton Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 323-0230 February 3 Jester Jog Color 5K Run or walk a portion of the Krewe of Janus Mardi Gras Parade route and back through downtown West Monroe in your Mardi Gras-themed outfits! Powder Mardi Gras Colors will be thrown throughout the run/walk in celebration! The first 250 finishers will receive specialty beads, a drink token from Flying Heart Brewing & Pub-West Monroe, and a silicone Mardi Gras cup. Time: 2:30PM Cost: $35.00 Sign-Up Fee Address: Downtown West Monroe | Corner of Wood & & Commerce February 3 Twin Cities' Krewe of Janus Mardi Gras Parade This year's theme is Jammin' with


Janus. The Twin Cities' Krewe of Janus Parade has entertained revelers since 1984 who eagerly gather along the 3.8mile route through West Monroe and Monroe. The parade includes nearly 50 units featuring several High School bands, as well as ULM's Sound of Today Marching Band. Time: 6:00 PM Cost: Free Address: Monroe & West Monroe Phone: (318) 614-8572

February 3 Hands On Band at the VFW The Hands On Band is live at the VFW! Sing along or dance along all night long. The $10.00 cover includes a ticket for door prizes. Time: 7:00 PM Cost: $10.00 Cover Charge Address: VFW Rodney J Hobbs Post 1809 | 1499 Highway 594, Monroe Phone: (318) 345-4185 February 3 Enchanted Carnivale: Light up the Night The Monroe Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. invites you to their 33rd Mardi Gras Gala & Scholarship Benefit, an Enchanted Carnivale. Formal attire is required. Celebrate Mardi Gras in the Twin Cities! Time: 7:00 PM Cost: $50.00 Address: Monroe Civic Center- BD Robinson Hall | 401 Lea Joyner Memorial, Monroe Phone: (318) 267-4139 February 4 Cal Presley Band Live at Flying Heart Cal Presley is performing live at Flying Heart! He will be taking the stage at 6:00 PM. All ages are welcome. Jam out while enjoying a New York style pizza and craft beer! Time: 6:00 PM Cost: No Cover Charge Address: Flying Heart Brewing & Pub | 204 Commerce Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 367-0888 February 5, 19 Creative Meetups Unleash your artistic spirit in an inspiring environment where fellow artists gather to create together. Hours: 6:00-9:00 pm Venue: Creative Exchange, 301 N Trenton St #1, Ruston, LA 71270 Phone: 318-202-3202 February 7, 15, 17 LA Tech Men’s Basketball Cheer on the Bulldogs at this home game! Hours: Various times

Cost: Varying ticket prices Venue: Thomas Assembly Center, 201 Mayfield Ave, Ruston, LA 71272 Phone: 318-257-3631

February 8-11 2024 Cajun Collision Ball Tournament The 2024 Cajun Collision Ball Tournament is taking place at the Sterlington Sports Complex February 8th-11th. Cheer on and support the teams as they compete! Time: Game times TBD. Address: Sterlington Sports Complex | 1290 LA-136, Sterlington February 10, 12 Grambling Men’s Basketball Cheer on the GSU Tigers at this home game! Hours: Various times Cost: Varying ticket prices Venue: 100 North Stadium Drive Grambling State University Grambling, LA 71245 Phone: 318-274-2629 February 10 Landry Love Run 5K Love is in the air and wine is in our glasses! This exciting new 5K walk/ run will take place through the beautiful scenery of Landry Vineyards on February 10th. Whether you are looking to walk, run, or just enjoy a glass of wine, the Landry Love Run 5K is sure to be a great time! Time: 9:00 AM Cost: $30.00 Address: Landry Vineyards | 5699 New Natchitoches Road, West Monroe Phone: (318) 557-9050 February 11 Clara Rae Live at Flying Heart Clara Rae is performing live at Flying Heart! She will be taking the stage at 6:00 PM. All ages are welcome. Jam out while enjoying a New York style pizza and craft beer! Time: 6:00 PM Cost: No Cover Charge Address: Flying Heart Brewing & Pub | 204 Commerce Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 367-0888 February 16-17 Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre - "I Love You to Death" "It's a wild night at the speakeasy and the password is "mystery." A boxer, a gangster, a rival, a tortured vaudevillian, a woman on the prowl, and a pair of star-crossed lovers enter the Irish Lyon Social Club. Who will leave the speakeasy alive? Enjoy a three-course meal and entertainment brought to you by Twin City Entertainment, all to benefit the Downtown West Monroe Riverfront

Marina project. Time: Doors open at 6:30 PM; Show starts at 7:00 PM Cost: $60.00 Address: West Monroe Convention Center | 901 Ridge Avenue, West Monroe Phone: (318) 396-2700

February 17 FORGED: Men's Conference Don’t miss the men’s event of the yearYou’ll hear from pro football player, Jonathan Evans; avid outdoorsman and Pastor of First Baptist, Haughton, LA, Gevan Spinney; Pastor Jarrett Stephens of Champion Forest Baptist Church; and tv personality and professional duck hunter, Jase Robertson. Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Cost: $35.00 Address: First West - West Monroe Campus | 311 Mill Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 322-5104 February 17 Firebird Experience the enchanted power of Stravinsky's Firebird, the virtuosity of Prokofiev's Piano Concert No. 3 and refreshing, youthful elan from Mozart and Stephanie Berg. Philip Mann will be the conductor and Richard Seller will be the pianist. Time: 7:00 PM Cost: Ticket Price $25.00. Student $5.00. Address: ULM Brown Auditorium | 700 University Avenue, Monroe Phone: (318) 812-6761 February 18 Texas Hold 'em Poker Tournament The Texas Hold 'em Freeze Out Tournament is held the next to last Sunday of each month. All proceeds benefit the Krewe of Janus Mardi Gras Parade. Time: 3:00 PM Address: Krewe of Janus Float Den | 901 Louisville Avenue, Monroe Phone: (318) 348-3237 February 18 Will Maranto & The Usual Suspects Live at Flying Heart No cover charge and all ages are welcome. Jam out while enjoying a New York style pizza and craft beer! Time: 6:00 PM Cost: No Cover Charge Address: Flying Heart Brewing & Pub | 204 Commerce Street, West Monroe Phone: (318) 367-0888

every third Tuesday of the month. Bring your own projects, help each other out, encourage creativity, and enjoy community discussions! Time: 6:00 PM Address: Biedenharn Museum and Gardens | 2006 Riverside Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

February 23 Dancing with the Louisiana Stars Local celebrities will be paired up with dancers to compete with a choreographed routine for the championship title. Food will be catered from local restaurants. The crowd can pay to vote for their favorite contestant. Don't miss out on this exciting night! Time: 7:00 PM Cost: Ticket prices vary. Address: Monroe Civic Center | 401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway, Monroe Phone: (318) 345-1155 February 24 Tour of Layton Castle Explore Layton Castle and learn about its evolution from a creole cottage to a castle. Learn about Swiss immigrant Judge Henry Bry and his role in helping to develop Northern Louisiana and beyond. What role did he play in Fort Miro changing its name to Monroe? One of the few historic homes in the United States still lived in by descendants of the first European settlers to the area. Cost: $16.00 Address: Layton Castle | 1133 South Grand Street, Monroe Phone: (435) 691-3271 February 29- March 2 Trey Altick Louisiana Prep Baseball Classic The Trey Altick Louisiana Prep Classic includes dozens of teams playing in eight different venues throughout the area. All the proceeds from the gate and concessions are put back into each of the local school’s baseball programs that host the tournament. Facilities: Embanato Field, Ouachita Parish High School, Ouachita Christian High School, Sterlington Sports Complex, West Monroe High School, and West Ouachita High School. Phone: (318) 267-8711

February 20 Biedenharn Craft Circle Join creative minds, local crafters, and artists at the Biedenharn's Craft Circle WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2024 113

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