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

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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.

Shop Port Neches, so long rosemary


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Mae Terro at Attic on the Avenue in Port Neches. Courtesy photo by Darragh Doiron


Shop Port Neches
Attic on the Avenue has some resale finds that benefit us all. Mae Terro showed off an array of knick knacks at this Port Neches store, one of many that help local people with United Board of Missions funding. I saw a little red wooden rocker like I used to have, and then there was all the colored plate glass.
This is just one of many fun shops along Port Neches avenue that sell both new and vintage goodies you’ll want to take home. Spring weather is perfect for exploring your area.

So long, rosemary.
One of my favorite bushes has left me. It was actually a set of rosemary bushes and they’re all gone. Who wouldn’t want some healthy bushes with succulent, fragrant green needles inviting them to inhale?
Seriously, the girls were along a path where I have walked for years. Actually, they were a tad off the path, but I took some extra steps to pass by them, brush against them and breathe in the smell of Christmas, of roasted meats and of a holiday home.
I felt a physical loss when I saw they were gone.
I decided to look forward to whatever new plans owners had to have removed such lovely bushes.
I confess, I had started my own tiny specimens from clippings of these bushes, so I suppose I have rosemary’s sisters at my home.
I also have other walks where rosemary has cousins.

Magnolia time
Some have just a few blooms when you pass by, then two days later you see they are full. It’s magnolia blossom time and I’m loving it. Sometimes the first bloom is way up high like a Christmas tree star. I always ask my husband to pick it for me. He always says it’s in someone else’s yard and he’s not going to climb their tree.

Mom at the hookah lounge


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A sampler plate at Al Basha in Beaumont.  Courtesy photo by Darragh Doiron
 
Mom at the hookah lounge
Lemony yogurt, lamb, roasted peppers, and a falafal “muffin” is a sample of the flavors that danced through our heads at Al Basha in Beaumont. We had a Mediterranean feast, sharing and dipping our bread into a colorful mixtures. I couldn’t resist a Facebook posting tagged Mom’s first course at the hookah lounge, the second function of this establishment. We did peek in the window of that area until someone encouraged us to walk in and tour the spacious lounge with cushy couches as seating. It would get busy later, they promised. We went for the food.
"Later" we were at home watching “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” about an Indian family who opens a restaurant across the path from a swanky French establishment. We actually planned to be savoring the spices of one culture as we enjoyed the movie about two other culinary traditions. We loved it all.

McCormick
I cannot contain my excitement over the hot news from McCormick Gourmet shakers. In fact, it makes me sneeze. I pulled out samples of jalapeno pepper powder, then got more excited with basically crushed, red chipotle pepper grounds, then yelped over a sriracha powder. My daughter’s going to fight me over that one. I’ve been liberally dusting these blends over eggs and everything else every morning and can’t get enough.
They’ve also got new grinders with smoked, lemon zest, sweet onion and chipotle sea salt blends. Love it times four.
Burger auce mix-ins they offer include Montreal Steak, Brown Sugar Bourbon, Sweet Mesquite & Carmelized Onion and Roasted Garlic & Sauteed Onion.
This spring McCormic has released 21 new products inspired by flavor trends on the rise. You’ll want to play with these.

Bacon
I’ve got bacon heating very slowly in a covered skillet and plan to rescue the fat for future projects. I’m hoping to spiral partially cooked bacon onto partially cooked sweet potato planks and hope they’ll cleave together for crunchy goodness. Some of that McCormick flavor mentioned above will finish off the flavor explosion.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shop Port Neches, so long Rosemary


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Mae Terro at Attic on the Avenue in Port Neches. Courtesy photo by Darragh Doiron


Shop Port Neches
Attic on the Avenue has some resale finds that benefit us all. Mae Terro showed off an array of knick knacks at this Port Neches store, one of many that help local people with United Board of Missions funding. I saw a little red wooden rocker like I used to have, and then there was all the colored plate glass.
This is just one of many fun shops along Port Neches avenue that sell both new and vintage goodies you’ll want to take home. Spring weather is perfect for exploring your area.

So long, rosemary.
One of my favorite bushes has left me. It was actually a set of rosemary bushes and they’re all gone. Who wouldn’t want some healthy bushes with succulent, fragrant green needles inviting them to inhale?
Seriously, the girls were along a path where I have walked for years. Actually, they were a tad off the path, but I took some extra steps to pass by them, brush against them and breathe in the smell of Christmas, of roasted meats and of a holiday home.
I felt a physical loss when I saw they were gone.
I decided to look forward to whatever new plans owners had to have removed such lovely bushes.
I confess, I had started my own tiny specimens from clippings of these bushes, so I suppose I have rosemary’s sisters at my home.
I also have other walks where rosemary has cousins.

Magnolia time
Some have just a few blooms when you pass by, then two days later you see they are full. It’s magnolia blossom time and I’m loving it. Sometimes the first bloom is way up high like a Christmas tree star. I always ask my husband to pick it for me. He always says it’s in someone else’s yard and he’s not going to climb their tree.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

National Tourism Week: Hit the road

Nacogdoches
I took a recent walk in the “oldest city in Texas” and learned our Spindletop was a baby, because the state’s first oil well was drilled in 1866 in Nacogdoches county. Port Arthur News fans may be interested to know the city claims Texas’ first newspaper set to type in 1813 and the first two-story building, which was the Old Stone House, circa 1779. Here’s my favorite, and it tops their list, too. The state’s first recorded ceiling fans were in a downtown drugstore. A mule-drawn treadmill outside the building turned mule-drawn fan blades.

National Tourism Week  is May 2-10
Travel brings dollars to America and people do love the great state of Texas, for both travel and business.
During this week, thank your hotel, restaurant and attraction workers. Think about taking a road trip and exploring your area. They come to see Southeast Texas for birding and fishing in Sabine Lake.
One of my Texas bucket lists is Big Bend. Hit the road and tell everyone how much fun you had.

Facebook and travel
Here’s another way to promote tourism: Post your trip.
I was tickled to see a friend’s vacation photos looked exactly like mine. She was on the same beach with the same view. I read up and saw she took a cruise with the same route as had just taken. Remember when people used to show slides of their trips at parties? Now everybody can see what you’d like to share and spend as much or as little time as they’d like with it.
The best part is that you can private message friends to get the scoop on restaurants and places they visited. I saw someone had been to New Orleans and not some word on places I want to experience myself.
Always use caution when sharing  personal information. Some don’t post where they have been until they are back home.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I didn’t get the Häagen-Dazs

Why I didn’t get the Häagen-Dazs
A large portion of my Easter Sunday was spent on the couch watching “The Ten Commandments,” which is the norm, but I was feeling rather listless, with one eye swollen from allergies, as if  hadn’t wanted to be mowed or sidewalks blown.
The next day I did something unfortunately rare: Left work early, feeling poorly.
On the way home in my depleted state, I was sure I needed something healthy to cook and eat and restore my vigor. Beef – no, liver – would be my salvation. And an onion, like at Luby’s. No matter that I’ve attempted to cook this just once in all my years. Maybe it was chicken liver at that. I didn’t know what I would be doing, but I knew I’d have to cook it myself and that no one else would want a part of this healing measure.
So I ventured into the grocer and found kidney and chicken liver, but no calf liver. I was just about to ask a woman in the butcher department, but I could see that a shopper had pulled her over for a close conversation. I could hear some of it, but it could not make out the words. As I waited patiently, feeling so cold and undernourished, I figured it out. The shopper was speaking in tongues and had a hold of the butcher woman!
All I could think of  was, she’s speaking in tongues, and I’ll bet there’s tongue for sale on these shelves, but I can’t find the liver.
In short order, the liver was delivered to my cart, I loaded up an onion and headed to the ice cream aisle.
Sure, some ice cream always heals the sick, and I’d had my heart set on a wee carton of Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream since my friend mentioned literally months ago that she considered herself an “ice cream snob” and preferred that brand or none at all.
So there I was, when I spotted the Magnum. You’ve seen the commercials of the pretty girl bounding over cars in a traffic jam to get to these bars. The sound effect of her teeth popping through the chocolate coating is what sells it for me. I’d never had one and so this seemed like the time.
As I was loading up the car, thinking how I was just blocks away from a hot shower and my bed, my puffy eye caught the box of ice cream bars and I thought, why wait? I got a bar, thought it reckless to eat it while driving, and proceeded to walk around the parking lot for a bit with the delicious ice cream.
Wow, I thought, so nice to be able to go home, but wouldn’t it be weird if someone saw me walking around eating ice cream when I’m supposed to be sick. At that moment, someone calls my name.
So there’s an old college friend headed into the store, who says he’s fetching chocolate to cheer his wife, as they were rear-ended in the car this weekend. He’s showing me photos on the phone of this unfortunate situation and I’m truly touched, yet have to keep licking the dripping ice cream bar in the middle of the exchange. This seems frivolous at the least.
Soon I was down to the stick, made it home, napped and got down to the liver. Nothing to it. I was feeling better with each bite when I heard on the stove that my next nourishing meal, a pot of yellow lentils, was about to boil over. I tended to that and returned to the plate of liver, then heard from the stove that the pot of lentils and decided to boil over anyway. I cleaned up a goopy yellow mess and decided the rest of the liver would be fine for later in the day.
So now there’s one more Magnum bar in the freezer for me and I’m thinking I got the almond. I still haven’t tried the original flavor that looks so good on TV. Oh, and I still have that Häagen-Dazs on my wish list.
darraghcastillo@icloud.com