Saturday, March 12, 2016

Visit Heritage Village, after your Touch coffee

   Yes, the Pickett House in Woodville is still serving legendary fried chicken and heaping bowls of chicken and dumplings. It’s still boarding –house style, so you may make some new friends with similar tastes.
Be sure you and the family walk around the spread to visit Heritage Village, stable, post office, blacksmith shop, etc.
       I think the very best trip to this area would include some older and wiser folks – who may recall some of these vintage tools and such – and some younger children who need to know about these things.
Spend the day and eat all your greens.

Touch Coffee, taste coffee. Fast
       Makers are calling the Touch® T526S coffee system “ground-breaking,” no pun intended. My favorite part is that in addition to brewing up your favorite K-Cup, you can use the mesh cup included to make a cup, or larger carafe, or travel mug, of you own loose grind. That’s good for the environment and your smooth, tasty morning.
       You’ll be making your own coffee memes for Facebook about how much you love it.
       It’s a handsome machine, compatible with “any cup 
at all—from existing Keurig K-Cups® to generic cups, in 

addition to Touch's ground-breaking  XBold Cups™, 

XLarge Cups™ and reusable Refill Jumbo Cup.”  
Got 20 seconds? Here’s what the makers say:
 According to the National Coffee Association USA, the 

brewing water temperature for a good cup of coffee is 
"between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal 

extraction." The Touch® T526S brewer reaches  this 

ideal temperature by using its Flash Heating system and 

starts brewing in under 20 seconds after being off all 

night. Plus, Touch heats just enough water for the 

selected  cup size as opposed to the entire tank of water, 

and the machine turns itself off after using, making it 

more energy efficient than its competitors.”

       I’m trying this with Touch L.A. Coffee, in Sunset 

Strip roast. These cups allow up to 30 percent more 

coffee from each capsule. All this coffee talk has its own 

language. I’m just speaking the delicious-convenient-

efficient dialect.
 Look it all up at

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Is your wedding tree still up?
Dozens of “Christmas trees” are set up all year long at R.A. Smith Gifts in Dayton.
If you haven’t put yours away yet, after turning it into a Mardi Gras tree, then consider a stop at this shop, 4984 FM 1960. She’s got your ornaments.
Some are covered with ‘50s diner baubles, others with Halloween colors. Smith says is one of her biggest sellers is the wedding tree, popular at showers. Themed ornaments include a celebratory Champaign bottle.

Once you’ve gaped at this huge selection for a good while, roam around the rest of this big space for other sorts of gift items you can wear.

Lipsticks do more
In 2016, make your lipsticks work for you. Dermelect Cosmeceuticals has launched Multi-Targeted 4-in-1 Lip Solution, which I’m enjoying in Iconoic, a toned-down-for-me nude color that offers argan, jojoba, sunflower seed and camellia oils in addition to green tea, grape seed and pomegranate extracts. This demure look comes with anti-aging balm, hydration and the “all-day staying power of a stain.”
Dermelect is known for combining good looks and healthy concepts into nail polish and much more. Smooth + Plump Lipstick is another hit with peptide-infused, anti-aging formula and plumping technology.
If you want your “feathering” restricted to your Mardi Gras costume, try this. I’m hitting the festival with Rebelle, a rich fuchsia sure to blend into the Sweet Soiree candy theme. I can feel the luxury as it glides on. Learn more about lip lusciousness at

The "dish" on Texas

When I saw Port Arthur featured on the metal Texas-shaped dish, I couldn’t resist. A family nestled under a beach umbrella is etched near our city, near a big fish for Galveston and the San Jacinto Monument for Houston. The Lone Star State’s story goes all the way to a cattle drive in El Paso and a crown for King Ranch at the tip of Texas. Our flag, capitol building and a bluebonnet rim the shape, which seems a little cheated in the panhandle. It’s marked “Made in Japan” and the woman at Dovetail Antiques figures it’s a ‘50s piece.
I got this fabulous kitsch at one of the stores in the Liberty town square and there’s more waiting for spring road trippers.
A cold day had me passing through Liberty I ventured one block over from the main road to find a courthouse with a thriving square around the plaza de mercado. I spent 20 minutes in Liberty and I’m planning to head back when there’s more time, and sun.

Fun in Southeast Texas
         In one week I attended an educational Orphan Train presentation with live banjo and guitar music; an emotional production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in concert at Beaumont Community Players and an inspiring opening of Carlo Buceme’s “Relentless” opening at The Art Studio Inc.
         Hope you’re not one of those people staying at home because there’s nothing to do. Look for adult coloring at Texas Artists Museum, Big Thicket educational treks, salsa dancing, you name it.
         Now that we’re getting more daylight, it’s time to explore. See you out there.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Grapevine is "chill"

Wine charm at Off the Vine. Photo by Darragh Castillo

Cilla Hultin's card reads "Wine Lover!" She represents Off the Vine, one of the fun shopping stops in historic Grapevine. I picked up a blue glass and metal wine charm at there, a tourist-themed shopping bag at a co-op and visited Cowgirl Swag, where Ricky creates crochet embellishments and soda can pop-top collars on fancy T-shirts. 
Walk around downtown Grapevine every day of your visit and you will notice something new among the shops, farmers market, museums and of course, wine shops.
Double entendre wine sayings are on towels, T-shirts, coasters, you name it.
The visitors building is in a beautiful building downtown, and representative will refer you to the Settlement to City Museums next door, and of course the glockenspiel that reenacts a would-be train robbery.  
Walk around the Great Wolf Lodge and Gaylord Texan for fun off Main Street and make sure to get a view of the lake. 
Don't worry, there's plenty of modern shopping, too. Their botanical gardens are about to pop into bloom. 
Ready to go? Check out

Art Museum has family fun; wake up early

Art Museum of Southeast Texas
The most recent free family arts day at Art Museum of Southeast Texas was bustling with activity and I’m so glad I rounded the corner where I got a lump of clay to create my own little bowl.
Everybody’s creative, but you can also purchase someone else’s festively painted little bowls in the museum gift shop.
Check out the museum in downtown Beaumont any time, and the next family day on Saturday, May 21, featuring a Birds in Art theme. All the birders who “flock” to the Port Arthur and Beaumont area should love this one.

No more snooze button: The 5 a.m. Miracle
 Waking up early to run is what Jeff Sanders calls a double kick in the pants. Yet it’s kind of the whole concept he’s trying to pitch in his book “The 5 AM Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast.”
This is bout being a rock star in your work and home life by maximizing your productivity and perfecting your schedule.
The results sound good, but do we want to wake up early for it? Sanders gets a “no way” response much of the time, but just read through. He can guide you through some tips and he promises that you don’t exactly have to begin at 5 a.m. – that’s a guide to committing to make the good stuff happen. It’s all up to you. He’s got plenty of motivation, and here’s just a bit of it:

1.   Bounce out of bed bright and early.
2.    Hydrate like you life in the desert: He says your body is thirsty after sleep and he drinks a liter before his morning espresso.
3.    Quiet time is essential: develop a calm, inspirational habit.
4.    Fruit for breakfast: his green smoothie fits right in.
5.   Consume inspirational and informative content: Successful people do this.
6.   Pump your blood: Even 10 minutes of exercise can help. He’s a runner.
7.   Plan your day like you mean it: It puts you in the driver’s seat.

Drop some love on people, pets and protect yourself

This Love Drop bag does good for the environment and helps Living Waters International. Photo by Darragh Doiron.
Begin forwarded message:

Love Drop
Have you ever heard someone say they were addicted to bags? That sounded nuts, until I realized I had bags to hold my bags.
But here’s one suitable to recycle your others for: Love Drop Jumbo Canvas Shopper Tote ($17) Loving your planet looks good with this canvas tote that can stand up like a paper sack and slings over your shoulder. Keep it in the car for shopping, so you don’t have to waste another plastic bag from the rocer. The 100 percent natural cotton canvas features an original design by Scott Erickson. Mine has skyscrapers, an old-fashioned school house, a bike with a basket, produce, a yellow rose and other natural images designed into a water droplet, to remind us of how to use our resources responsibly. Living Water International makes sure prodeeds from sales give back to other projects. It can be purchased online. Now, read up on their good works.

This simple device looped to your wrist is a retractable claw that means business. When you’re headed to your car, keep it ready in your palm to squeeze out claws that can capture valuable DNA when used.
It’ s a little rectangle of plastic that works like this: Simply put the strap around your wrist, place in the palm of your hand and squeeze the device to extend 3 claws.
The company sent me one so I could share the information with you. Here’s how to get more in formation:

Link up your dog
Chipped nail or lost pet?
While I don’t wear nail polish or own a pet, I hate the tedious task of changing out keys on a ring. I just heard someone talking about the urgent need/difficuluty of getting a new ID tag for a dog. The very next week I was invited to discuss LINKS-IT.
These colorful bits were designed by a pet owner and team of veterinarians to make attaching tags simple and painless. Just pull back the locking crossbar, snap apart the LINKS-IT, slide tags onto the bottom half and the collar ring onto the top half and then lock the LINKS-IT in place.
I asked my contact if her dog would look best in purple or red and forwarded a LINKS-IT to try. Word is, it does what it says:
  • Easy to open and close without breaking your nails or needing tools
  • Strong and sturdy for active dogs: Tested to hold 58 lbs and open and close over 50,000 times
  • Match color to fit your pet's personality and style.  Select from Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow colors.
  • Quiet and lightweight (lighter than a dime)
  • Made in the USA
  • Weatherproof and will not rust

Big Thicket adventure in Southeast Texas

Big Thicket adventure
We were on our way to a bed and breakfast when we got the text. Our contact wanted to make sure we knew how cold the weather was getting, and how old houses are and if we wouldn’t like to reschedule.
Now that’s customer service. We did reschedule, but had a plenty nice day in right where we were when we got the text, the Kountze area.
We trekked the inner loop of the Kirby Nature trail in the Big Thicket National preserve and had big fun doing it.
The 1.5 miles boasted bridges, boardwalks, cypress knees in the water, a slope forest and woodpeckers.
While walking, I did some tourist-style wondering how many people who live right by this beauty had ever done the hike.
I got a chance to test that theory when we stopped at a Dairy Queen for a Blizzard. That’s a very Texan thing to do on a road trip. We had also shopped the “mile-long flea market” on U.S. 69 in Kountze, which is run out of a strip of mini storage sites. I recognized other DQ customers as a couple who were vendors. I told them how much fun we had in the Big Thicket and asked if they’d ever hiked it. They said they lived in the area and had never done it. We should all get out more.
As soon as it gets warmer, I’ll get out to that B&B.