CELEBRATING & DISCOVERING LIFEâ€™S FINEST
A Christmas Pony December Happenings Homemade Soup for Supper UltraMagTexas.com
EDITOR Tamara Abel
ASSISTANT EDITOR Nancy Moreland
ART DIRECTOR Adra Stafford
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Ann Greer
CONTRIBUTORS Byron Barclay Karen Bunch Julia Davila Newt Harlan Ahmad Khan Bobby McCallitt Anice Shelton Susan Scott Watts Reader correspondence, editorial submissions and advertising inquiries are welcome.
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Let Us Hear From You! editor@UltraMagTexas.com
Check Out All the Fun Things to do in December
Anice Shelton Cooks Four Fabulous and Easy Soups
Honest Lies and Other Misguided Thoughts Newt Harlan Remembers his Christmas Pony
Healthy Pets Make for a Happy Holiday
Texas A&M Veterinarians Highlight Pet Nutrition Options
What Are We Going to do About Mom? Hard Questions for the Sandwich Generation
Hearing Aids Can Help at Family Gatherings
BABY BOOMERS Communication Strategies for Enjoying the Holidays
Texas High School Football Playoff Time! Bobby McCallitt
ULTRA Magazine is published monthly. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced by any means whatsoever without written permission from the publisher. Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. The magazine is not responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented. Advertisers and their agencies assume all liability for advertising content. We encourage our readers to support our advertisers. Have an event that you would like to let ULTRA readers know about? To be considered for publication, the information must be received two months prior to the issue date. Please email the 100-word write up to editor@UltraMagTexas.com. Be sure to include the event name, date, time, venue, cost and website information. Please send high-resolution jpeg photos in a separate email.
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Holiday Luxe Décor BY KAREN BUNCH
Professional Installments From Set-Up to Take Down Front Doors, Mantels, Staircases, Christmas Trees, Patios
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Fiesta, Birthday, Baby and Bridal Showers, Graduation
Karen will use your existing decorations or purchase new decorations.
By Nancy Moreland
boats anchored throughout the lake. The parade features more than 100 brightly decorated power and sailboats that will traverse the Clear Lake channel from the South Shore Harbour Marina and the Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay.
HOLIDAYS AT THE GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CENTER
Nov 17th – January 8th Southern Methodist University BushCenter.org/holidays A season of merriment and melody: Christmas at the 2004 White House. Enjoy classic holiday music, take a family photo in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree, and experience the original 2004 White House decorations, behind-the-scenes photos and more.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
Dec 10th, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Austin Statue at Hwy. 288 and Hwy. 35 979-864-1541 Enjoy a fun-filled evening set in antebellum times as the park celebrates the Father of Texas. Clothing of the 1860s is encouraged. Features include children’s games, period music and dance, best-dressed ladies and couples, Stephen F. Austin impersonator contest, sample period food, adult games, storytelling and more.
PEARLAND HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS December 2nd – 3rd Pearland Town Square PearlandParks.com The traditional lighting of the tree, carriage rides, snow, and a visit from Santa all begins at 7 p.m. on Dec 2nd. Come back on December 3rd to stroll the holiday gift market, watch live entertainment, enjoy milk & cookies with Santa and much more.
Nov 22nd – Feb 19th Discovery Green DiscoveryGreen.com Discovery Green® captivates downtown visitors this winter with Enchanted Promenade, ten colorful, giant peony bouquets by TILT, a French light and art design studio. Enchanted Promenade is set along the majestic Brown Promenade. Enchanted Promenade comes to life through color-changing LED lighting. At night, the stamens grow brighter with a blazing red light that emanates through its petals and scatters warm light throughout. Below the soaring stems of the plant, diffused lighting subtly enhances an inviting seating area for visitors to lounge and enjoy the view. Illuminated from dust to 11 pm however hours are subject to change during Super Bowl LIVE, January 28th – February 5th.
55TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BOAT LANE PARADE
December 10th Clear Lake 281-488-7676 clearlakearea.com/events/boatparade.asp Ring in the holidays with this Clear Lake tradition. More than 100,000 people traditionally enjoy this event from land and from hundreds of UltraMagTexas.com
MAGICAL WINTER LIGHTS & LANTERN FESTIVAL
Nov 18th – Jan 8th Gulf Greyhound Park MagicalWinterLights.com The 2016 Magical Winter Lights and Lantern Festival will return to Houston at Gulf Greyhound Park from November 18, 2016 to January 08, 2017 including all holidays. This year’s festival will feature six fascinating themed sections including Magical Wonderland, Holiday Market Square, Dinosaur Land, Mystery of the East, Man and Nature, and Landmarks of the World. There will be an expanded interactive dinosaur exhibit with dinosaur rides, 3-D art installations, acrobatic performances, arts and crafts created by skilled Chinese artisans, amusement rides and games, and live entertainment.
December 10th West University Baptist Church wubc.org Come enjoy Handel’s Messiah directed by Jonathan Ware from the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin. Pre-concert recital starts at 7:00 and Handel’s Messiah begins at 7:30. continued on page 10 5
Bon Appétit FOUR EASY AND DELICIOUS WINTER SOUPS
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by Anice Shelton
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As I pondered which recipes I would like to share in the December issue, I thought about all the celebrations with rich and decadent foods and our holiday tables laden with the bounty of the season. So, this month instead of holiday food, I want to share some easy comfort food that will get you through the rest of the month. When I write these articles, I imagine having a friend in my kitchen while I am cooking and then eating what I just cooked. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup, except my son. For some crazy reason, he doesn’t consider soup a meal but to me nothing is more wonderful and satisfying than a delicious bowl of soup. So let’s cook some soup!
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Four of my favorite winter soup recipes are hearty and delicious and not necessarily the healthiest soups (they all contain dairy) but you can modify to cut back on the fat. I’ve given you a head start by using milk and not cream. Two of the soups are meatless, vegetable-based soups, yet still have protein because they are cooked with milk and the addition of cheese and bacon. The Cauliflower Soup can be lightened up with 1% milk and is the low-carb counterpart to the Mashed Potato Soup.
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My Chicken Pot Pie Soup and Texas Ranch Soup are rich, hearty and a full meal in a bowl. I took two of my favorite casseroles and turned them into soups that remind me of my childhood.
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As always, add or subtract ingredients to make these soups to your family’s preferences. Add more of your favorite veggies or throw in a vegetable that isn’t listed in the recipe. When I cook, I constantly scan my fridge for what I can use. Also, I taste as I cook so I can add in seasonings and flavors. Soups are particularly forgiving (except for excessive saltiness) so just make it your own by using ingredients you and your family love. Think of these recipes as a roadmap but make your own side trips and stops along the way.
Let’s start with the Mashed Potato and Cauliflower soups. Basically they are the same soup just with a different vegetable. Both are cooked in milk, but seasoned just slightly differently. I use whole milk but feel free to use 2% or 1%. I don’t recommend using skim milk as it can lead to a grainy texture. I puree the soups with my stick blender right in the pot but if you don’t have one just use your regular blender taking care because the liquids are very hot. The Cauliflower Soup has a velvety texture and lightness and the Mashed Potato Soup is my version of a baked potato soup. The real magic comes from the toppings you serve with them. It’s fun to set out a bunch of toppings and let each person decide how to garnish their bowl of soup.
Mashed Potato Soup Note: I prefer a mix of white and Idaho potatoes for this but really any variety will work. If using white potatoes, I leave the skin on. If I use red, Idaho or gold potatoes, I peel them to keep the soup from turning a not-so-pretty grey color. I don’t have measurements for this soup because potatoes come in all sizes. So, I estimate how many potatoes I need by figuring each person will eat about 2 large white potatoes or 1 large Idaho and then add extra because we always want some leftover.
INGREDIENTS: Potatoes Salt Milk Pepper Garlic cloves (about one per person, smashed a bit) TOPPING OPTIONS: cheese, chives, bacon, sour cream, thinly sliced ham strips, crispy fried onions, sliced green onion, cayenne Peel and cut potatoes into chunks roughly the same size. Place in a pot with the garlic. Use one small garlic clove per person for the servings. Cover the potatoes and garlic in milk until the milk just covers the potatoes but they are not “swimming” in milk. Turn heat to high and bring ALMOST to a boil but not quite. Then turn the heat down so the potatoes gently simmer in the milk until they are fork tender. Once the potatoes are tender, blend them with the milk you cooked them in (may need to add a little more milk) and season with salt and pepper. Add a dash of cayenne if you want a little spice. Serve in bowls and garnish with the toppings you like!
Velvety Cauliflower Soup INGREDIENTS: 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped ½ onion, chopped Garlic (give it a smash with the side of a knife but no need to chop) Milk to cover Agave nectar Salt Pepper Cayenne Optional: leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme TOPPING OPTIONS: cheese, green onion or chives, bacon, fried crispy onions, cayenne, dash of Worcestershire (to bring out the umami flavor) Note: I usually just throw the onion in with the potatoes and garlic but if you wish, sweat them in a bit of butter first for an even richer flavor. Place cauliflower, garlic, and onion into a pot or Dutch oven. Add milk until it just covers the vegetables. Turn heat to high and bring to just under a boil (do not let it boil) and then reduce heat until it gentle simmers. Simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat and take out about 1 cup of the milk and reserve it. Blend the cauliflower, garlic and onion and milk until smooth. Add in additional milk until you get a velvety soup consistency. I like to then add in a few TBS of agave nectar to bring out the sweetness of the cauliflower. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Serve topped with whatever you like...my favorite is chives and a bit more cayenne.
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stocking with horse manure and switches rather than presents and goodies. (This was Texas and ULTRA HUMORIST kids had no idea what coal even was, so lumps of coal didn’t make much sense.) Billy’s reply was always, “no sir Uncle Dode, I’ve been a good boy and Santy’s gonna bring me a pony for Christmas.” Back in those days getting a pony was as important to a boy as getting a bicycle is to boys today. Uncle Dode fully intended to get Billy a pony and he and Billy had even picked out the one for him. Dewey Cadwalder had two, which his boys had outgrown that were just right. The trouble was Dewey’s asking price was $20 apiece for them. Uncle Dode knew that Dewey was just taking advantage of the Christmas season to jack up his prices, so he planned to wait until a few weeks after Christmas and buy Billy’s pony for half the price. He figured that on Christmas day he’d tell Billy some kind of story about Santa not having room on his sleigh for the pony and that they were going to have to pick it up later. While making their daily rounds, everywhere they went someone would ask, “Billy what’s Santa Claus bringing you for Christmas?” And By Newt Harlan Billy would always answer, “I’ve been a good boy and Santy’s gonna bring me a pony.” And Uncle Dode would say, “No you’ve been bad Billy was six years old and an orphan. His mother had died at his birth and his daddy had passed away from complications from appendicitis the previous summer. His mother’s sister and her husband, Aunt with your Aunt Emma and Santa’s bringing you a stocking filled with horse manure and Emma and Uncle Dode, who were childless, had taken in Billy and his two older sisters. Uncle Dode was a cattleman and Aunt Emma a housewife, and while they weren’t affluent, they were fairly well off switches.” This exchange continued daily until finally it was Christmas Eve night. thanks to Uncle Dode’s family land being a part of the Humble oil field. As was customary, Aunt Emma and Uncle The arrangement worked out fairly well for everyone as the kids attended school and the girls helped Aunt Emma with household chores and Billy was Uncle Dode’s running mate and constant shadow as Dode entertained friends with eggnog and he went about the business of taking care of his cattle and other livestock and the various other things Christmas cheer until along about 9:30 or so, the friends all sang one last carol, drank involved in his daily routine. a final toast, and departed for their homes. It was a few days before Christmas and the tree had been selected, cut and decorated. Aunt Emma and The kids hung their stockings on the fireplace the girls were in the middle of cooking up all kinds of Christmas treats. The kids’ presents had all been mantel and went to bed and before long, when Aunt Emma checked they were in dreamland purchased and were wrapped and safely hidden awaiting Santa’s Christmas Eve visit. The kids were on their best behavior lest Santa see them misbehave and place them on his “naughty list”--that is the anticipating the thrills of Christmas morning. girls were on their best behavior, Billy was still being a normal six year old boy and getting into enough Aunt Emma and Uncle Dode went to work trouble to merit a switching from Aunt Emma about every other day. retrieving Christmas gifts from their various hiding places and putting them under the Billy’s antics amused Uncle Dode and when Billy was out of earshot, he enjoyed relating Billy’s latest Christmas tree. Then they filled each child’s misadventures to his friends at the feed store or when stopping by the tavern for a cool one--things like the time Billy tied Aunt Emma’s two favorite cats’ tails together or the night he brought two puppies and stocking with the stocking stuffers. There were a week old pig in to spend the night in his room because they were cold. Of course, to Billy he had to be combs, brushes, hand mirrors and handkerchiefs for the girls and marbles, tops and a pocketknife the stern adult and tell him that if he didn’t straighten up and act right Santa Claus would be filling his for Billy, plus fruit, nuts and hard candies for all.
CHRISTMAS PONY Honest Lies and Other Misguided Thoughts
After the stockings were filled, Emma and Dode were enjoying one last cup of eggnog before retiring when Uncle Dode decided to play a little joke on Billy. He removed Billy’s stocking from the mantel and hid it in the kitchen pantry. Then he got another and went out to the barn and proceeded to fill it with fresh horse manure and on his way back to the house, he cut four or five switches from the willow tree growing by the water trough, which he also placed in the stocking. Over Aunt Emma’s objections, he hung this stocking in place of Billy’s, spilling some of its contents onto the hearth below and vowing to clean it up in the morning. Then they toasted each other one last time, finished the eggnog, turned out the lights and retired for the night. Uncle Dode, being an early riser, arose about 4:00 on Christmas morning. He quietly dressed so as not to disturb the others and went downstairs. He stoked up the fire in the fireplace and put his morning coffee on the stove to percolate. The coffee had only been made for a few minutes and as Uncle Dode was “saucerin’ and blowin’” it, he heard the noises as Billy awakened and dressed, and then the clomping of his boots on the stairs as he ran down to check out his bounty from Santa’s visit. Uncle Dode listened as Billy ran from the foot of the stairs into the room where the Christmas gifts under the tree and gift-filled stockings hung on the mantel, awaited. He listened as the steps stopped in front of the tree as Billy checked there and then started again as he walked over to the fireplace and saw his stocking on the mantel. He heard the boy say, “uh oh!” and the steps began running toward the kitchen. Billy ran into the kitchen and only glancing at Uncle Dode, continued on to the back door, stopping only long enough to unlock it, and then was through the door and outside. Uncle Dode thoughtfully sipped his coffee, a little puzzled by Billy’s behavior and wondering if his little joke had been a bit much and was about to backfire. He was just about to get up to go find Billy and confess his trick, when Billy burst in the door shouting, “Uncle Dode! Uncle Dode! You’ve got to come quick and help me right now! Please hurry up--we’ve got to hurry! Dode saw the tears streaming down the boy’s cheeks and began to have pangs of guilt about the stocking trick. He was about to confess when Billy tugged at his sleeve and said, “C’mon Uncle Dode, let me show you.” Dode rose and followed the breathless boy to the fireplace where he knew the stocking stuffed with horseshit and switches hung. He was really feeling guilty and dreading the hurt feelings and crying that he was sure he’d have to deal with from the boy, when Billy said, “Just look here Uncle Dode, just look here,” pointing at the droppings on the hearth that had spilled from the stocking the night before. “Just look here, Santy left me a pony, but it must’ve got away and we need to go find it right now.” Epilogue: Uncle Dode and Billy “found” the lost pony. They arrived at Dewey Cadwalder’s place just after sunup and there it was. Of course old Dewey, having the true Christmas spirit and all, only charged Uncle Dode $35 for holding the $20 runaway pony. This story is true-- Billy was my daddy.
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JINGLE BELL FUN RUN & KID’S 1K
December 10th Gilruth Center and Johnson Space Center apm.activecommunities.com/starport Jingle Bell Fun Run and Kid’s 1k on Saturday, December 10 at the Gilruth Center presented by the NASA Exchange-JSC. This holiday-themed event will bring out the spirit in us all! The event will feature a fun run for adults and kid’s 1k. This family-friendly event is open to the public and allows participants to run/walk on site at NASA Johnson Space Center. Special guest appearance by the one and only Santa Claus! Kids also have the opportunity to write letters to Santa. Remember to dress in red, green, and white and be sure to spread that holiday cheer! Registration is open now and required.
EIGHT HOLIDAY ATTRACTIONS AT MOODY GARDENS
Now – January 8th Various ticket options available. MoodyGardens.com As one of the largest holiday celebrations in the region, Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition for families and groups alike. Enjoy more than one million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment. You can also skate around on the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink, try out the Arctic Slide and take pictures with Santa. Another attraction is ICE LAND Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas. A skilled team of master ice carvers has charted your course for the ultimate Caribbean Christmas! Embark on a breathtaking undersea journey made of two million pounds of ice!
courtesy of moodygardens.com
November 25th – December 31st (select days) Schlitterbahn Galveston Schlitterbahn.com/Galveston Enjoy the Bahn Borealis Light Show, Surf with Santa, Ornament Craft Factory for kids, Holiday Characters, Snow Globe Tube Float and Reindeer Games. An all-you-can-eat catered meal Grill&Thrill option makes this a great way to get the entire family out of the house and into the fun! Check the website as some of the events are offered only at specific times and the meal option must be purchase online in advance.
November 25th – Dec. 27th Wortham Center HoustonBallet.org Snowflakes. Sword fight. Dancing dolls. And a Christmas tree that reaches the sky. Stanton Welch’s opulent new production promises everything you love about The Nutcracker, brighter and more splendid than ever. In this most traditional tale, Clara and Herr Drosselmeyer travel together to the Land of the Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy is reunited with her prince – and where the magic happens. With grand sets and stunning costumes, The Nutcracker features the entire company of dancers playing hundreds of fun and exciting new roles.
INTO THE WOODS
December 6th – 18th Theatre Under the Stars tuts.com Into The Woods is about Cinderella, a Baker and his Wife, Jack (of ‘beanstalk’ fame), Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, a Witch and a couple of Princes and a host of fairy tale companions as they journey into the woods and face wolves, giants, and what really happens when wishes come true! James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless yet relevant piece and rare modern classic. The Tony Award winning book and score are both enchanting and touching. The story follows a Baker and his wife who wishes to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to attend the King’s Festival, and Jack who wishes his cow would give milk. When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results. One of Sondheim’s most popular works, Into The Woods is a musically sophisticated show with fantastical elements of a magical word.
Nov 18th – January 15th Houston Zoo Tickets required HoustonZoo.org TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights takes you on a journey throughout the zoo to see all the holiday displays and lights. The zoo will be illuminated with more than 2 million lights. Stroll through the front plaza and around the Reflection Pool, where musical performances and the majestic oak trees covered in lights set to holiday tunes will delight your senses. Next, follow the trail to wind through the Enchanted Forest, the African Forest, the Watering Hole and more and all the magical displays. You’ll wind up back at the Reflection Pool for another chance to enjoy this majestic area. There’s so much to discover along the way, including plenty of photo opportunities! The zoo is closed December 24th and 25th.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Nov 19th – Dec 29th Alley Theatre Ages 6 and Up AlleyTheatre.org A seasonal favorite returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve.
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DEGAS: A NEW VISION
Ends January 16th The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Ticket required mfah.org Degas: A New Vision offers the most significant international survey in nearly 30 years of the work of Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917). The reputation of this celebrated French artist has often focused on his ballet imagery, and yet Degas’s rich, complex, and abundant oeuvre spans the entire second half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th. The MFAH is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition, which assembles some 200 works from public and private collections around the world.
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LORETTA LYNN December 18th The Grand 1894 Opera House thegrand.com The coal-miner’s daughter from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, is making her first appearance at Galveston’s opera house. Loretta Lynn has a new album “Full Circle.”
Have an event that you would like to let Ultra readers know about? To be considered for publication, the information must be received 2 months prior to the issue date. Please email a 100-word-maximium synopsis to editor@UltraMagTexas.com. Be sure to include the event name, date, time, venue, cost and website. Please send high-resolution jpeg photos in a separate email. Email Your Event to Editor@UltraMagTexas.com 12
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and balanced and if they will be a good choice for your pet. The same considerations exist for diet foods,” said Zoran. “In general, diet foods are fine if they are high quality and fed in the proper amount. However, there is nothing magical about weight loss diets; if you feed them too much they will still gain weight or at least fail to lose weight.” Consulting with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist is important if you are unsure about the quality of the food you are selecting. Although it may be tempting to slide your leftovers under the table and let them eat and eat to their heart’s content, there are many “human food” items that are unhealthy, and even dangerous for your pet. “Chocolate, grapes, raisins, and onions are examples of common foods people eat that can have disastrous consequences for pets, such as seizures, kidney failure, or anemia,” Zoran said.
Healthy Pets Make for a
Happy Holiday College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University
ULTRA PETS The season for indulging in holiday feasts and festive snacks has finally arrived. However, while we try to be cautious of our own health and nutrition throughout the season, it is just as important that we care for our pet’s nutrition as well. While you’re out grocery shopping for the perfect holiday meal is a good time to reevaluate the foods that you’re feeding to your pet. “Foods should be individualized for the pet, not chosen based on what one pet needs and then given to all of the other animals,” says Dr. Deb Zoran, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “The key is to feed a diet that is complete and balanced.” Dry food for dogs is typically preferred due to its lower costs, especially when supplying food for
“In general, it is best not to feed dogs or cats anything spicy, fatty, or not in their typical diet,” Zoran said. “However, small pieces of cooked meat or a vegetable can be okay. For example, feeding a small piece (it should not be more than 10% of their total diet) of cooked chicken thigh with no bones or skin is completely fine and a reasonable treat.” When the first of the year rolls around, fitness centers become filled with people beginning their New Year’s resolutions to get in better shape. But what about when our pets need to shed a little excess holiday weight to keep healthy?
larger dogs. However, for both cats and dogs, wet foods are perfectly acceptable as well. As long as you know what to look for, the decision of which to feed your pet should be based on which they prefer. “Wet food has a high water content (about 80% water) and can also be high in protein and low in carbohydrates, all of which is good for cats,” Zoran said. “Dry foods can be quite acceptable as long as they are high in protein (at least 40%), low in carbohydrates (less than 15%), and fed in meals, not by free choice on the part of the pet.”
“Just like with us, weight gain is a combination of genetics, metabolism, what we are eating, how much we are eating, and how much we are exercising,” Zoran said. “Any of these can have a major effect on body weight, so it is important to feed your dog or cat good food, the right amount of it, and keep them active. The ideal situation is not to let your pet get overweight—you can help prevent this by weighing them often and then adjusting how much food they are eating up or down accordingly, and asking your veterinarian for help if you have questions or concerns.”
As for “all natural” or “diet” dog and cat foods, it is again most important that the food is balanced and has all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. “All natural pet foods are like commercial wet or dry (processed) foods in that you can’t always be sure whether they are a high quality, highly digestible product that is complete
During the holiday season, keep in mind that most of the treats we enjoy are not good for our furry friends. Instead of sneaking them the leftovers as a holiday treat, stuff their stockings with pet toys that will keep them active and healthy.
Bon Appétit continued from page 7
These next two soups are truly meals in a bowl. They are rich and hearty and quite satisfying on a cold winter’s night.
Chicken Pot Pie Soup One of my favorite things to eat when I was a child was a Swanson frozen chicken or turkey potpie. I loved the filling and the delicious crust and I would beg my mom to buy them when we went to the grocery store. I still love chicken potpie to this day! This recipe can be served as a potpie rather than a soup. Just cut the milk and stock in half. Spoon into a pie shell or ramekins and top with piecrust or puff pastry. It’s that easy! This recipe calls for roasted chicken but you can also use leftover holiday turkey. I like to use frozen peas and carrots because my knife skills aren’t up to making those perfectly, square-cut carrots that are part of my nostalgia with this dish. Feel free to add more or less of the vegetables and add in corn or small-diced potatoes (blanch first) if you wish. I use whole milk but you can use lower fat milk or a fatter version using half & half or even cream. If you want it lighter use more stock, if you want it richer use more milk.
INGREDIENTS: Onion, small dice Garlic, minced Butter 4-7 crimini mushrooms, sliced Roast chicken meat, cut into bite-size pieces 1 package (12 ounce) frozen peas and carrots ¼ cup plus 2 TBS flour 2-4 cups chicken stock 2-4 cups milk (just not skim) 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 TBS chicken base or powder 1 tsp. thyme leaves Salt and pepper “TOPPER”: pie crust or puff pastry cut into rounds or “sticks”, brushed with butter and baked until golden brown.
Debone chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces (save those bones for a chicken stock later!). Melt a few TBS. of butter in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Cook the onion, garlic, and mushrooms over low heat until soft. Stir in the flour and cook on high heat for a minute or two. Slowly, add in 2 cups chicken stock taking care to break up any lumps of flour and making sure it is well mixed. It will be the consistency of a heavy gravy at this point. Add in 2 cups of milk. (If you want to make this as potpie, use half the liquid but add in more if needed.) Cut heat down to low and add in frozen peas and carrots, chicken meat, thyme leaves and the chicken cubes or base (this will make for a richer, more flavorful soup). Lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes taking care to not let it boil. Add more milk or stock if needed if it is too thick. Adjust seasonings and serve in a bowl with a crust or puff pastry round on the bottom of bowl or on top to give you that “pie” flavor.
Texas Ranch Soup H-E-B sells an amazing version of this soup in their produce department (it is all premeasured and contains fresh ingredients) but it is not always available. So, I created this version to satisfy my craving for this delicious soup. Think of it as King Ranch Casserole as a soup (see my recipe in the Oct 2016 issue ultramagtexas.com.) I like to serve this with crushed tortilla chips, minced jalapenos and some chopped cilantro on top. For the milk, you MUST use whole or 2% milk or you run the risk of the soup “breaking.”
INGREDIENTS: 3 TBS butter, divided 1 cup diced sweet onion ½ cup diced bell pepper 5-6 crimini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 jalapeno, finely minced (seeds and veins removed if desired) 3 cloves garlic, minced ¼ cup flour 4 cups chicken stock 1 tsp. cumin 1-2 TBS chili powder 2 cups (plus extra if you like it cheesy) shredded Velveeta 2-3 cups milk 1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped 1 can Rotel 1 package frozen seasoned chicken fajita strips Salt Pepper In a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and optional minced jalapeno in two TBS. butter until soft. Add chili powder and cumin and let cook for 30 minutes to toast the spices. Add in additional TBS. of butter and stir in the flour and allow to cook for one minute. Slowly add in 3 cups of the stock, one cup at a time. Add in 2 cups milk and the can of Rotel. continued on page 18
What are we going to do about Mom? Hard questions for the Sandwich Generation Courtesy of Byron K. Barclay
Adults with kids in college and aging parents are sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation,” struggling to deal with their “almost adult” children while balancing the interests of their aging parents.
Late night phone calls can be Junior who lost his phone in an Uber in New Orleans to the lost television remote control that Mom “hasn’t seen in weeks.” An aging parent suffering from dementia can compound the problems and the urgency with which the advice of an elder lawyer can pay great dividends; however there are some real ethical concerns for the child (you), the parent (Mom) and the lawyer (me). One of the most common scenarios for an aging parent is competency, particularly because by the time you notice Mom is slipping, the situation can be more dire than you know. A power of attorney signed by Mom in favor of their child can be helpful; however that power of attorney creates
a special relationship in the law, called a “fiduciary relationship,” requiring the child to use “the highest degree of good faith and fair dealing.” As an example, it is quite common to minimize a parent’s assets to qualify the parent for Medicaid, sometimes referred to as a “Miller Trust.” This can be done with planning, allowing the parent to qualify 60 months later for government assistance. The problem comes however in competency of the parent, and whether the parent truly understands the extent of their estate and what the transfer of these assets, (usually to their children, i.e. YOU) means. More importantly, if you are helping your parent transfer their assets to you, are you serving your parent’s interests or your own? continued on page 21
Hearing Aids CAN HELP AT FAMILY GATHERINGS ULTRA BABY BOOMERS
Holidays are for reuniting with friends and family. These are times full of love and joy, but can also be full of stress. If you have hearing loss, these large gatherings can be even more challenging because hearing loss occurs more often at the higher pitches than the low. Low-pitch sounds like the car engine, or speech sounds such as “ah” or “ooh” can generally be heard more easily than high-pitch sounds like bird chirps or speech sounds such as “s” or “f.” As a result, people rely on hearing the low-pitch sounds in speech in order to understand the conversation. People with hearing loss also rely more on non-verbal cues to help them fill in the gaps, including the context of the conversation, body language, facial expressions and lip-reading. Unfortunately, in large gatherings, all the cues those with hearing loss rely on to help them understand speech become compromised. In these situations, there is usually a variety of different background noises, such as people talking and laughing, music and cutlery clanking. Noise generally tends to be low pitch. In louder environments, the background noise can drown out the remaining speech sounds those with hearing loss need in order to understand the conversation. There also tend to be instances where more than one person is speaking, and the speaker may not always be facing the listener. As a result, those with hearing loss have to pay extra close attention. Unfortunately, they too often just catch fragments of words and sentences they have to piece together. This process requires so much mental effort these individuals are often exhausted after a few hours of trying to keep up with the conversation. As a result, loved ones with hearing loss tend to become withdrawn and socially isolated, and will even leave the conversation to watch TV or be on their own. 16
HEARING AIDS CAN HELP Modern digital hearing aids are designed to improve these stressful situations. Wearers are able to differentiate speech from noise, and the hearing aids suppress noise to enhance the sound quality of speech. In new smart hearing aids, these noise reduction algorithms are completely automatic and can target a variety of different sounds, such as machinery, car and traffic noise, impulse noises such as clanging cutlery and clinking glass, and even wind noise. They can even work fast enough to reduce the brief pockets of noise between natural pauses in words and sentences. By reducing the overall noise level, hearing aids make listening in difficult situations more comfortable and less stressful. Smart hearing aids with directional microphone technology also help wearers hear better in large gatherings and parties. Instead of picking up sounds equally from all around the wearer, modern hearing aids are able to pick up sounds primarily from the front direction. Since you’re most likely facing the person you’re talking to, directional microphones pick up speech from your conversational partner while reducing the noise coming from behind you. In more advanced hearing aids, directional microphones are able to able to activate automatically in the presence of noise (i.e., when you join the party). They also adapt to various sound environments to give you the best performance in these dynamic listening situations. Most impressive of all, when some hearing aids are fit as a pair, their directional microphones can communicate and work together to sharpen the directional focus even further, so that sound (including speech) that is not immediately in front of you is reduced. In really challenging and noisy conditions, such as crowded restaurants or cocktail parties, this technology has been clinically proven to allow wearers to understand speech even better than listeners with normal hearing.
USE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES Advanced hearing aid technology can help tremendously, but some simple strategies can make communicating in these situations even easier: If the location of the event is within your control, minimize background noise (e.g., forgo background music or limit it to one area of the house). If you have a say in the restaurant where a gathering is taking place, consider one that is relatively quiet and request a table in a more secluded area. Consider choosing a time that is off- peak dining hours. Remind people to get your attention first and face you when speaking. Position yourself in a well-lit area. If there are windows, sit with your back to them so that the light is on your partner rather than in your eyes. Being able to seem the person you’re talking to clearly makes it easier to use visual cues to help you understand the conversation.
Finally, relax and appreciate these special times with your loved ones. Remember, in these difficult listening situations, even those with normal hearing often miss a few words or phrases. Don’t get stressed or discouraged if you don’t understand everything. Focus on enjoying the company of your friends and family, just as they enjoy yours. (BPT)
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Bon Appétit continued from page 14 TEXAS RANCH SOUP Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Then add in the chicken and the chopped tomato. Continue cooking over low heat for about 20 more minutes taking care not to let the soup boil. Be sure it is heated through and at a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, ½ cup at a time, letting the cheese fully melt before adding more. If the cheese needs more heat to melt, place pot back on low heat and allow it to warm back up for a few minutes. If you like a “cheesier” soup, add in additional shredded Velveeta. TOPPING OPTIONS: crushed tortilla chips, cilantro, cheese, jalapenos
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December is a month full of sweets, treats, rich food and celebrations. I hope that these simple soup recipes give you some warm, comforting, hearty meals to enjoy between all the parties and family gatherings. These soups go from the cutting board to the table in less than an hour and are simple to put together so that you can focus on other things like making sure the cat doesn’t get into the Christmas tree or remembering where you hid the presents from your children. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year. MEMBER FDIC
Try my recipes and post them to social media! #ultracookingwithanice or tag me @ultracookingwithanice
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TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL
Football Play-Offs ULTRA SPORTS By Bobby McCallitt
It’s December, which to most of the country signifies colder weather, holiday shopping, and the end of another year. However to many in Texas, December means we are deep into the high school football play-offs!
Dawson will compete in Division 2. So Pearland will be 1 of 128 teams fighting for the Division 1 State Championship and Dawson will be 1 of 128 teams fighting for the Division 2 State Championship.
Texas has six (6) size classifications – 6A thru 1A – determined by total student enrollment. The state is divided into four (4) regions. Region I is geographically huge, ranging from Amarillo down to Lubbock, from El Paso thru Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and all the way to Ft. Worth. Region II includes the greater Dallas area, south thru Waco and Austin, east to Tyler and Longview, and actually includes Conroe and The Woodlands. Region III is basically the greater Houston area including Beaumont along with Galveston and Ft. Bend counties. Region IV comprises all of south Texas, to include San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the entire valley.
Nearly all the Region 3 Championship games will involve Houston area teams, and thus these games will take place in and around the greater Houston area. This year those games will be held on the weekend of December 2nd & 3rd and quite likely many of the games will be played in NRG Stadium. It’s always perfect weather inside the stadium and the games are competitive and fun. You should go.
Now in addition to having six class sizes (1A-6A) and four regions (I-IV), each region is divided into eight (8) districts within the region. As you might expect, Region I consists of Districts 1-8, while Region II has Districts 8-16, Region III is made up of Districts 17-24, and finally Region IV is comprised of Districts 25-32. For football, four (4) teams from each District qualify for the play-offs. That is a whopping 256 Texas high schools qualifying for the state play-offs! Of these 4 qualifying teams from each district, the two larger schools (by total school enrollment) compete in what is called Division 1, and the two smaller schools (again by enrollment) compete in Division 2. I know, it’s all very confusing, but try to stay with me. These play-off teams battle it out during the last three weekends in November with the Regional Championship games taking place during the first weekend in December. In 6A, Region III, District 23, both Pearland & Dawson qualified for the play-offs, and because of their enrollment size (along with the other 2 schools from the district that qualified for the playoffs) Pearland will compete in Division 1, while
Region III winners advance to play the winners of Region IV, our neighbors to the west and south in the semi-finals. These semi-final games typically are played in Houston or San Antonio and the winners advance to play for the State Championship against the Region I versus Region II winners. All the Texas High School State Championship games will be played at AT&T Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, on December 15-18, 2016. Texas is so big that it clearly needs more than one State Champion. In fact, it needs several. Each size classification – 6A thru 1A – will will have 2 State Champions; a Division 1 State Champion and a Division 2 State Champion. So we could actually have 2 State Champions right here in Pearland! When all is said and done, Texas will have a total of 12 schools that can claim the title of “State Champion” in football. Considering the competition, to earn that title is quite an accomplishment and as any high school coach will tell you, extremely difficult to achieve. As many of you probably remember, Pearland earned the crown back in 2010 with a thrilling victory over Euless Trinity. They returned to the championship game again in 2013 only to come up short to Allen. Congrats to everyone that began the journey and especially those that finished it. Let the celebrations begin!
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This question does not even BEGIN to contemplate the ethical issues for the lawyer, in deciding who the lawyer represents: the parent, who likely is paying the lawyer, or the child, who likely is making the decisions about undertaking this transfer of assets.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT MOM? continued from page 15
This ethical issue has given rise, at least in Texas, in an effort to provide a new legal relationship which the elderly can use to designate a third party to aid them in making decisions, without petitioning the court for a guardianship, which involves a court determination of incompetency on the part of the parent and the appointment of a full time guardian for the incapacitated adult (Mom). This new legal relationship would beestablished by a “supported decision-making agreement,” wherein an elderly person can designate a third party to “assist them in understanding and making decisions about their life, and communicating these decisions to family members and third parties, such as caregivers, healthcare providers and estate lawyers.”The supported decision-making agreement became law in June 2015, allowing elderly Texas to use a trusted individual, a network of individuals or an entity to aid him or her in making personal, financial and legal decisions that must be followed by third parties. An experienced attorney can guide you and your older parents in setting up this kind of an arrangement.
BIOGRAPHY & DISCLAIMER
Byron K. Barclay is a Houston, Texas attorney and Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law. In addition, Mr. Barclay handles estate planning matters and is regularly appointed to serve various courts in Harris County as an Attorney Ad Litem for the estates of persons who have died without a will. Mr. Barclay also handles commercial litigation, divorces, family law and child custody issues. The foregoing article is offered only as a public service to this community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site and column should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author. Nothing in this column or on any website where it may be published is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted by Mr. Barclay constitutes legal advice.
BYRON K. BARCLAY BKBarclay@lawyer.com www.BarclayLawFirm.com 713.224.2334
Should you have questions, you may forward them via email to Mr. Barclay at BKBarclay@lawyer.com. Questions may be edited for length or clarity. Mr. Barclay will choose questions submitted for brief answers and possible publication. Mr. Barclay reserves the right to choose which questions to answer, and submission of a question does not guarantee that he will provide an answer.
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