Sunday, June 28, 2015

Don't Mess with Pleasure Island

 


This is why you don’t Mess With Texas
Who knew one of the biggest challenges of picking up trash is keeping your bag open?
Tiffany Hamilton of the Port Arthur City Council arranged a Saturday morning cleanup of Pleasure Island. Her family, island residents and others who want to keep the area looking nice picked up water bottles, beer cans, fishing paraphernalia and random items of interest to get the levee and pier area looking good. 
Empty bags filled with wind and fought us until they were partially loaded, there was heat, ants and scratchy plants. There was a lot of love put in there and then there was lunch at Sharky’s Grill. A tasty reward.
Hamilton’s mother, known at Honey, makes an orange safety vest look good. She maintained high energy while working hard. She got philosophical while clamping that refuse with her trash stick and said we tend to get back and give as far as the environment goes. Naturally, we want people to enjoy Sabine Lake for fishing, birding and views, so we should keep it clean.
Carolyn Worsham does her own cleanup all the time. She has sports a vest that says Trash Patrol. Worsham points out that a whole lot of waste was on the ground within a few feet of a provided trash can.
Don’t mess with Pleasure Island.
Hamilton is ready to do this Helping Hands project again. To join in, contact Tiffany L. Hamilton at 409-300-5791, tiffany.hamilton@portarthurtx.gov




No.2 in Jet
         Beards go way beyond hipsters, but I sure like that they’ve brought product and grooming back to the facial hair lovers community. Are you into it so much that you need a razor strop? Bison Made has you covered.
         Look up this Phoenix-based studio at www.bisonmade.com to see how they’ve been using aromatic Chromexcel leather tanned by Horween in Chicago.
         I’m holding a sleek No. 2 wallet in jet black that’s designed to stash credit and business cards with cash for a slim fit in the pocket. These may be designed for men, but the look is classic and the bison stamp makes it old-school and timely and classic all at once. Did I mention the rich, leathery smell? This is 100 percent leather with no linings, rubber or glue and a lifetime warranty on stitching. It’s handcrafted in the U.S.A. and ready to use for everything and pass along to future generations. It holds what you need to bring to the pool or the club and won't bulk up your wasteline. 
darraghcastillo@icloud.com
        





Sunday, June 21, 2015

Peggy's on the Bayou

 
Peggy's on the Bayou
Googling is kind of like today's version of throwing a dart on the map to decide where to go.
That's how we wound up at Peggy's on East Roundbunch Road in the Orange area. The phone indicated it was near our destination and we pulled up a menu offering pistolets. I was soon parking in the shell lot and ordering a soft shell crab poor boy.
After my husband and I shared the piping hot crawfish pistolet, we shared tge sandwich, which I disassembled so as to get a good look at the fried crab. It's legs were like crispy bites of air. Then I got a body bite with the jalapeño bread, sauces and my added Tabasco. Heaven.
I was hoping the server would not come around during my final few bites. I wanted no distractions. When she did come to collect a very empty plate, she noted she had enjoyed watching me enjoy that poor boy.
Peggy's really is right on the water and there was some boat traffic. Be sure to go out the back door to the screened-in area, but don't go through the second door or you'll be IN the bayou.

A great Depression read
I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard people recall details of The Great Depression. Betty Reed has written “The Winds of Time,” a “largely autobiographical” work detailing her life and travels through Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. Families were displaces and living whenever they could. I can’t imagine living with relatives who seemed to watch every bite I’d take. Food was just one thing that was scarce.
The author is very good at memories like the texture of a biscuit and the details of ornate silver tableware. Dorrance Publishing Co. has released this collection, that thankfully comes with lots of photos of this woman’s storied life.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lady Bird Johnson's wildflower legacy

 


Lady  Bird’s legacy
I officially get why artists want to paint bluebonnets. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has made me even more Texas proud, if that is possible. Maybe climbing the tower for a panoramic view was my favorite, or coming across exercise equipment in an open field of flowers, or noting how the visitors center had just-picked fresh flowers so you’d know just what you were observing.
The gift shop is cool, too, and would you believe that way down Austin way, I heard my name called and there was a woman from Orange.

Summer health and beauty
Hope you’re absorbing everything from road trip adventures to the proper amount of fun-in-the sun, with sunscreen, of course. Here’s some summer health and beauty finds to enhance your indulgence time:
* Wet Brush: Just holding the smooth bamboo and evergreen wood of  Wet Brush Earth feels calming. It’s personal time. I could bond with it. A hairbrush is an everyday tool many don’t consider replacing. Inspect yours for age, sanitation and durability. Use Wet Brush in the shower. It’s also good for dry brushing of  you and wigs and extensions. Proceeds go toward Charity: Water – an organization that brings clean drinking water to communities in developing countries. 
            What a brush and what a cause, but wait, there’s more. Wet Brush USA lets you  detangle for the Stars and Stripes. That’s in the press materials, I didn’t make that up. This plastic brush with patriotic markings also has bristles of ease and 20 percent of sales support Wounded Warrior Project. Time to replace your brushes? Take a look at these options.

* Rootology sent me samples of Breathe Free, fast-acting, non-drowsy nasal and sinus relief to help with congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. Rootology makers say they offer a relatively new product, a blend of 13 powerful herbal extracts that are gaining traction within the yoga and fitness communities. Aside from cinnamon twig (for unblocking phlegm in the chest and Magnolia Flower, for 0pening nasal passages and relieving headaches,  many of the 13 extracts are new to me, such as ledebouriella root, for itchy nose and eyes. They come in capsules. When you can breathe again, get moving.

* Whish has added an ULTA exclusive Blue Agave variety and they’ve done a great job with Three Whishes Sugar Scrub, featuring raspberry seed and organic bamboo powder. Well, that’s new. There’s more good stuff in the brown sugar mix you can’t wait to rub in. A body oil with olive leaf extract and jojoba seed oil feels so good on skin that had a tad too much sun. The bottle pumps out soothing moisture. Ever tried Whish Shave Savour Hair Inhibiting Gel? Less Fuzz, Smoother Skin is what they promise. It’s designed for that after sun or after shave and after wax hydration. Organic shea butter is one of the stars, but chapparel extract is what inhibits hair growth. What will they think of next?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don't tell purple. . .


Don’t tell purple
I asked my daughter to please not tell purple – my signature color of royalty-insanity since high school – but I’m kinda into blue right now.
“Me too!” she exclaimed, and I told her of a fashion magazine where a columnist made a blue proclamation herself.
I’m thinking the soft, casual sentiment of blue jeans, crisp cobalt, a peaceful sky and a calming sea. Blue is catching my eye this season.  I don’t think purple should be too jealous. The color wheel is a welcoming space.
Even so, Pantone has announced marsala as the color of the year for 2015. They call it a  deep earthy red with hints of brown, purple and plum, and it brings to mind the fortified wine color. I’d imagine it more for fall, but examples show it paired with bright orange and marsala is set to appear everything from furniture to nail polish. Just last year Pantone’s color was Radiant Orchid. In 2013 we celebrated emerald and before that was Tangerine Tango.

Purple on the Ball
I can’t leave purple for long. I saw purple lids and rings for Ball jars and had to snap them up. Paired with a green jar,  a display of yellow peas puts one in a Mardi Gras color frame of mind.
Gazing into my pantry filled with beautiful jars, instead of a mess of bags and half-used boxes, brings me peace and lets me eyeball what I have on the shelves.

Purple hull peas?
I met Gail Odom, executive director of the Newton Chamber of Commerce and she mentioned the Purple Hull Pea Festival. Everyone stopped talking and wanted to hear more. She had me at purple, and food.
         This second annual event is June 27 in the Shankleford Community. Learn more about area events at www.Newton-Texas.com There’s a Whispering Creek Trade Days in Newton the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month. They’re looking for canners, crafters and antique dealers. Call 409-379-8400 to get in on this deal.
Odom would love to talk Newton with you. If you ever want to visit, call her at 409-379-5527.

Kizmet lovers and diabetics are in for good meals.


Tina and Scott, new owners, will be happy to fill you in on the art gallery, art lessons and white chocolate mocha or waffle sandwiches.
This couple is a friendly pair who love to socialize about Kizmet Koffee’s menu. You’ll love chatting with them and they aim to make every customer feel welcome.
Later, move on to more than a dozen sandwiches based on flavors of the world, from Cajun and Jamacian to Hawiaan and Greek.
But be sure to ask about the chicken salad, with a touch of tropical fruit.  
“It’s amazing,” said Mel Murray, who ought to know.
“I make it,” she said.

Should you be eating that?
Soft Molassas Cookies, Fettuccine with Chili-Mushroom Stroganoff Sauce, Sicilian Beef and Rice and Pinto Bean and Avocado Dip… does this sound like I’m reading from a diabetic cookbook?
A thick and tempting book, the newest edition of 1,001 Delicious Recipes for People with Diabetes (Agate Surrey; 978-1-57284-170-3; $20.99), is a plenty-to-offer collection of recipes tailored to a diabetic diet and lifestyle. 
More perks: This third edition has been enlarged and beautifully repackaged with a sleek, updated cover design and a broader, more useful format that sits flat when open for maximum convenience. Recipes range from appetizers to desserts and each one has been kitchen tested, for simple, reliable preparation. It  is part of the bestselling 1,001 series, which as sold more than 750,000 copies across all titles. 
            The above is with book promoters say. I say I’m thrilled that all these adventurous recipes full of healthy flavors should inspire anyone who needs a diabetic diet or not. The fact that nutritional breakdowns come with each offering, from appetizers to desserts, make it so handy for those keeping track of what is good for them.
            In other words, no excuses. Get one of these books and get the family involved. Here’s an easy one to start with that should make you feel you’re at a nice restaurant:
Curried Scallop and Potato Chowder
This chowder has a lively curry flavor and a bright yellow color. Four servings
1 11-ounce bottle clam juice
one half cup dry white wine or water
one pound potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 teaspoon curry powder
one half teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound sea scallops
1 cup frozen peas
 one fourth to one half cup low-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat clam juice, wine, potatoes, curry powder and garlic to boiling in large saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Process about half the mixture in food processor or blender until smooth; return to pan. Stir in scallops, peas and milk; cook over medium heat until scallops are cooked, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Prince of Peace
Tea can fill you up and fortify you and it doesn’t have to be full of sugar, or even honey for that matter. Someone has shared with me a few bags of Prince of Peace 100 percent oolong tea and one bag makes a pretty strong pitcher. I’m calling it full-on tea. It’s full of flavor and keeps the energy up.

Monday, May 25, 2015

What's your summer bucket list?


Where will your road trips take you this summer? Is there a destination, restaurant, book or shopping experience you can’t wait to get to? Plans for a project around the house? Personal goals?
Let me know what you’re up to, or would like me to find out about and share with others. We can’t get to everything, but we’d sure like to try.

Rustic Door
Have you knocked on the Rustic Door lately?
Get that beach house and patio ready for the summer with fun tropical décor or just decorate yourself with jewelry and goodies from these shops. Letha Ruiz, manager, said some of the merchandise has a religious appeal.
“Crosses are like, the biggest thing, and that’s year-round,” she said.


“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Beaumont Community Players had another winner with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which wrapped up a great season. This  one scored high with acting, costumes and scenery. Musicals are always much fun and I love that this one had so many self-references to Broadway. Can’t wait until next season.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Growing, watching butterflies

photo-1.JPG
Painted lady butterfly. Photo by Darragh Doiron


Watching butterflies
The chrysalis-to-butterfly story is familiar to us. But have you watched it happen? When Insect Lore sent me  a cup of caterpillars to watch emerge in a pop-up net, I had my doubts that those little critters would turn into the proverbial beautiful butterfly.
Oh my, I did it! I collected flowers and dropped sugar water on them and the butterflies became stronger and more beautiful every day. After a time, you must set them free. My family gathered on the patio for the big event. Some could not wait to get out. Others were shy and needed prompting. Eventually all of them went up like little prayers into the sky, many straight for the aromatic magnolia tree.
Insect Lore calls itself the original butterflies by mail company since 1969. I could not have imagined how much fun this was, and we don’t even have small children at home. Look up this company to grow your own fun.


Jude’s Abstract Artwork
Jude is a little kid and also an artist… with autism. And boy is his grandma, Ann Cutshall, proud of him. Texas Artists Museum has some of his abstracts on the wall. Jude’s Abstract Artwork is at Jude & Granny’s Gallery, which also features oil or pencil portraits. Find them on Facebook or call 409-332-6012.

Abstraction
Stop by the Art Museum of Southeast Texas for some “Abstraction.,” selections from the permanent collection, on view through Sept. 6. Three members in my party were attracted to a large abstract that made me want to assemble combs and paint and create something myself. Another work, suspended from the ceiling, dangled in my path and put me in mind of some overworked brooms I’ve known. Got to love art. It’s your own interpretation.
darraghcastillo@icloud.com.