Sunday, December 29, 2013

Let's talk about this new year...

I got that “clean sweep” feeling the day after Christmas. Out with the old, in with the new; get in shape (after the egg nog is gone); and do nice things for others. Also, I can’t wait for Mardi Gras. Here’s some good stuff for 2014:

Clock this
Doesn’t the New Year put you in the mind of clocks? If I told you I’m looking at a clock that runs on water, you might make fun of me. That sounds like both old school and modern technology mixed together. I’m truthing you, eying my little round purple clock with a “digital” display. It’s Bedol’s Battery-Free Eco-Friendly Water Powered Clock. It even has an alarm. Watch a video for a very cute jingle that will get stuck in your head and a little lesson on proprietary metallic plates inside the semi-transparent water reservoir that channel the ions in the water into a current that powers the clock and alarm. Got that? This is the kind of gift that is sold through museum gift stores because it is so cool. Bed Bath & Beyond can hook you up, too.
Leg Magic X
If I can get an unidentified member of my family to like Leg Magic X as much as I do, I’ll be so happy. And this other person will hopefully get more balance.  The photos show older adults using this to their advantage. This little exerciser folds out into a small space that you can go by several times a day for a 60-second workout. That kind of routine is my kind of heaven. Leg Magic X is designed to exercise the lower body large and small muscle groups according to their natural movement, while standing in an upright position.”  I’m loving it. Makers say the magic is that “it increases muscle activity up to 400% and increases blood flow in the legs by as much as 77% in only 60 seconds.   The 9 degree slope uses body weight for a low impact workout as it helps strengthen legs, lower body and the pelvic floor without putting strain on the hips, knees and ankles.” That’s some technical talk and ladies, makers say this 20-pound wonder works the Kegel muscles. Seriously, go to to learn more.

Got a guitar for Christmas?
The topic of guitars keeps coming up and I have been promised a Beatles song guitar solo as an upcoming birthday gift. Not from Paul.
If you are learning how to play as your New Year’s resolution, this book will inspire.
“Guitar Aficionado: The Collections” is an oversized book of photographs and interviews of “The Most Famous, Rare and Valuable Guitars in the World.” I liked reading up on the pawn shop history of  Texas legend Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar, the Mickey Mantle autograph on the back.
Some pages will make you go “wow” and others nearly cry at the memories the music invokes. If those guitars could talk…. Well, Tom Beaujour and Christopher Scapelliti are making them talk about as much as the guitarists who played them did.
Get ready for stories from guitar greats including Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, James Hetfield of Metallica, Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe and more.

Cook like a food truck
What’s trendy now is noted community chefs taking it to the road with gourmet creations. Let this be your food truck road trip year. “The Southern Food Truck Cookbook” is Heather Donahoe’s trip that does more than open the way for one of these traveling kitchens to roll into your life. This guide to discovering the south’s best food on four wheels lets you get right to it. Let’s start with Louisiana, because Heather didn’t make it to Texas. Learn how to fashion the celebrated crab cakes of Bon Repas or ginger lime shrimp salad from Freshjunkie in Baton Rouge. Keep going for honeysuckle gelato in Atlanta, where they also make Bloody Mary watermelon pops and coconut rice in Nashville. Heather hits Kentucky, The Virginias, North and South Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee as well.
This is a beautiful book with shots of fun trucks, like Wrapper’s Delight; mouth-watering food spreads; recipes you’ll love; and the author’s good anecdotes.
Mission Savvy of Charleston, West Virginia is a raw/vegan kinda place. Here’s one of theirs, that goes with raw Thai spring rolls:
Almond Dipping Sauce
Gather it up: 1 cup almond butter
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 half tablespoon tamari sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 seeded jalapeno pepper
2 cups water
Make it happen:
Add ingredients to bowl of food processor or blender and mix thoroughly.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fish Bible is the gospel

Pat A. Riley Jr. is back in town and I spotted him at the Nederland Historical Society’s Christmas party at the library. He was at the door, because a live performance was happening. As I was pulling in the lot, KVLU’s radion station personalities were speaking of the Southeast Texas Dulcimer Friends. When Mr. Riley opened the door for me, that’s who was playing. Great timing.
Al also met Sonya Willis of Nederland, who says if anyone is interested in meeting with the historical group, give her a call at 722-2831.

Read the fish Bible
Cajun tales that warm the soul are as important as dishes that tempt the palate in “The Louisiana Seafood Bible: Fish Volume 2.” You may have heard or collected Jerald and Glenda Horst’s editions. Pelican Publishing puts out this sixth and final volume of the beloved series.
Panko Trout and Catfish Eggrolls sound as revolutionary as the Figs and Fins recipe with snapper and a pint of fig jam. Ever stuff your peppers with fish? You may have grilled your garfish cake.
Get your mouth set for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, Feb. 27-March 2, with this book. The photos, the feeling, the history and “new” concepts make this a gospel of good news.

New Year’s Beauty Resolutions:
Beauty Spatula
My mom and aunt have always joked about packing a tiny spatula in their bags to get the last drop of a delicious meal. Boy, did they ever have a laugh at the new Every Drop Beauty Lip Spatula, a teeny scoop to reach the bottom of  lip gloss, lipstick and more. The just slightly larger Every Drop Beauty Spatula gives you “access to hard to reach product,” such as foundation and lotions. The spatulas don’t absorb like cotton swabs, are flexible for use with several sized bottles and can be used as an applicator. Frugal women, and those relishing the final applications of an out-of-production item, will wonder where Every Drop has been all their lives. Visit for info on One-of-a-Kind Cosmetic Tools.

Double Duty
Could you imagine a product that exfoliates and lightly hydrates for radiance? I’m impressed with Gylcolic Expert Moisturizer by Exuviance. It can tingle a bit and you should wear sunscreen. Those who are “into” skincare info know these are hallmarks of “the good stuff” and may actually be familiar with Doctors Van Scott and Yu, patent holders of the “lunchtime” glycolic peel who work with the powers of Alpha Hydroxy and Polyhydroxy Acids. Exuviance has more skin wonders in its line. I think this one has been perfect at taming my discomforts of winter skin. Glad to have found it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Who's your Patron?

Who’s your Patron? Yurman.
Google David Yurman jewelry and you’ll see a lot of glamorous women wearing his rings and bracelets, and sometimes not much else. Now there’s something that I’m guessing men will enjoy as much as women: A impressive bottle stopper simulating the hilt of a sword. It has gold-toned heft, is accurately described as having “meticulous craftsmanship and masculine elegance” and it is only available this holiday season. This stopper goes on a Patron Anejo bottle, which is already an impressive sight. Get yourself a bottle and “stop.” Come on, buy it now. You’ll be sorry if you don’t and should have to waste a moment hunting it down later. It’s a limited edition item by Evan Yurman, design director for David Yurman Men’s Collection.
More to drink:
Angelini Estate Sangiovese is a turkey and duck kind of wine with beautiful legs and elegant structure. It says that right on the label. It was dark, so I didn’t check out the legs for myself, although Port Arthur’s Shawn Bruno, now a Sour Lake wine maker, taught me how. I enjoyed this wine and Angelini Pergola Rosso so much that I’d say it was good for any special occasion or will make any occasion special. There’s the aroma of lavender and rose petals in the latter. Please people, read your labels!
Georges Doboeuf just released their 2013 Beaugolais Nouveau, the first wine of the harvest. He and Franck Duboeuf tell us there was wonderful weather in September and the Indian Summer produced a harvest that is mature and rich in sugar, along the lines of the 2011 vintage. Remember that one? I don’t, but hey, it’s fun reading up on your wine history. It’s like you’ve made a friend and maybe you’ll find it a little hard to drink it all up because then your friend will be gone. Don’t worry. There’s plenty more on the shelf. This is a casual wine for $10.99.
Unicum Plum is fun to say. Ever heard of plum liqueur? It’s a far cry from juice from a dried plum, which is what we used to call a prune. I tried a sample and it is as rich and fruity as I imagined. It takes me right back into a figgy pudding Christmas in London. Well, from books I’ve read on that. Here’s how you experiment:

Plum Toddy
Created by Joaquín Simó

1 and one half ounces Unicum Plum Liqueur
1 dash Aromatic Bitters
Hot Water for Top
Cinnamon Stick for Garnish

1.         Combine Unicum Plum Liqueur and aromatic bitters into a glass mug.
2.         Top with hot water.
3.         Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Ideal Serving Glass:
Glass Mug

1 drink, no drinks contains more than 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol

Pumpkin trending update
Pumpkin Vanilla Crème is my latest experience in this crazy-for-pupkin season. It was a crazy cup of flavored coffee from  Crazy Cups: A Bit Obsessed With Flavors. These recyclable individual coffee pods work with Keurig machine and work with your passion for aromatic, pleasurable coffee. Mix and match for gifts with flavors like
White Christmas, Italian Chocolate Cheesecake and Peppermint Chocolate Mocha. I’m working my way through. You can also make Crazy Cups of tea and hot chocolate. Heard enough? One more thing. There’s 35 percent more coffee in every capsule. I can’t wait to get more work done because it means it’s time for more coffee. Pick your flavors at

Why won’t anyone invite me to a tacky Christmas sweater party? I’m ready. My closet doesn’t have a section of ‘80s clothes for no reason. Skedouche claims to have made those sweater parties hip, and they’re cranking holiday fare out. Could you believe a Chanuka sweater with light-up candles? Or a similar version in a wine sweater? Don’t stop there. They’ve got more holidays and more “fashions” for you with boots, vests and glasses. I’m sporting a Kosby hat from the collection, but I don’t find anything “tacky” about it. Gotta say, it won’t go unnoticed with a red knit design that pulls down over my ears, a tassled string to tie under the chin and a faux fur pelt lining keeping my ears warm as can be. We don’t often get too cold in Southeast Texas, but when we do, we can Get everybody lined up  and lighted for a family photo!
It’s important to know how to pronounce Cicciabella. It’s CHEE-CHA BELL-AH, and means pretty little one in Italian, according to this line of  charming slippers. They’re original, stylish and warm and they just might flash through your mind in the day, when you think how great it will be to be wearing them later, when you are relaxed. I tried Kwilts, which look like they’re knit by hand, with a button over the buckle, and lined with soft, fuzzy stuff. Cicciabella calls them playful.

Monday, December 9, 2013

From Rather to a Little Black Dress

What an honor for a journalist like me to meet Dan Rather at the Lamar State-College Distinguished Lecture Series. His talk at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose  Center was humorous, educational and emotional. The event was well attended and it seems I’m not the only one who would like to thank Lamar for bringing us speakers of such caliber. Rather mentioned he had spent time in Beaumont as a youth, cutting brush for a pipeline path. He caught a Beaumont Exporters game. He also spoke of the passion that virtually consumes dedicated reporters who work to be brokers of the truth.

You’ve got mail… and gifts
Even the napkins are fun at Flagship Mailroom on FM 365. While sampling fruity jams with crackers, I scooped up one with a quote from Phyllis Diller. The photo shows a “vintage” scene of a woman visiting Santa. The quote: “What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
You can have a much milder holiday with gifts like inspirational bracelets, hats that cover your ears and little figurines of birds with hats that cover their… whatever they call ears. Clothes candles, and the means to ship them deck these shelves. I know someone is getting a Texas-shaped dinner bell this season.

Exercise Freak
If the title of the pink Denon wireless fitness headphones intimidates you, substitute another word. They’re called Fitness Freak, but don’t worry if you don’t think you walk or run enough to earn the badge. If you are a gadget freak or accessory freak, you’ll love on these plenty. There’s nothing but Beatles on my phone, and I can now go on a wireless jam on my afternoon break. The pink in-ear headphones support Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the music sounds amazing. Maybe you have a tangled hot mess of little wires for your phone. Switch ‘em all out for these beauties and you’ll “freak” over the performance, which incudes Bluetooth 3.0 wirless connectivity with integrated amplifier, sweat-proof design and a rechargeable battery with up to seven hours of music. Does your workout last that long? Load the Denon Sport App to map and track your action.

Little Black Dress Wines has released Divalicious Pink Pinot Grigio 2012, which made a hit at a party we hit. It’s a composite: 75% Pinot Grigio, 13% Muscat, 10% Chardonnay and 2% Viognier. Who wouldn’t look good in that?  The color and flavor is a great fit for the holidays. Here’s how they put it together: “To make Divalicious Pink Pinot Grigio, Zidanelia “Z” Arcidiacono, the winemaker behind Little Black Dress Wines, lets the grapes to macerate on their skins for a limited time, resulting in a wine that’s a delicate and appealing shade of pink.”
So, this Little Black dress goes with anything, for just about $11.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stocking stuffers keep you well fed, warm footed

Here’s word on some completely random gift ideas that someone in your family might love. I sure had fun with the research:

 “Did you make that?”
If you’re wearing a “store-bought” shawl or scarf, this is a major compliment. If you can’t knit or crochet, Indigenous can get you into that original look, offering a “premier brand in affordable eco-luxury fashion.” This means your purchase helps indigenous artisans with while you rock very urban styles. This season I’m getting attention on a blue scarf with a twist: the fringe runs the long edge of the scarf instead of the ends. It’s both back-to-basics and cutting edge. Visit to learn more about their mission.

Mardi Gras Socks
Fuschia Heat Holder socks are making me think ahead to Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas. They’ve got the color and the warmth to live up to their label of “The Warmest Thermal Socks.”  Advanced insulating yarn, long looped thermal pile and soft brushed insides are designed to keep warm air inside and keep your tootsies seven times warmer than a basic cotton sock. I’m no scientist, but the moment I felt the inside of the sock, I wanted a body suit of this soft blend. I give it a 10 for style and comfort, but those scientists give it a 2.3 TOG rating. What’s that? It’s a thermal overall grade. Don’t wait for Mardi Gras. Visit for your color.

See. Make. Eat.
Drawings of tomato, cucumber, onion and garlic are sailing into the blender drawing, which cuts to shake. Now the pitcher is pouring what into a bowl? We’ve just made gazpacho. Check out that cheese getting graded for Hungry Enchiladas. The little bowl has legs to indicate “let stand” in the Panzanella recipe.
What world have we entered? Katie Shelly’s, and, it’s a tasty one. “Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat,” is her collection of recipes and illustrations of how to make them happen. All ages can benefit from this basics guide. Finally, a step-by-step for how to handle an avocado. But long timers, don’t get all cocky. I got plenty ideas from sections titled such as “Thoughts on Tacos.” Sketches take us through add-ins like red cabbage, roasted butternut squash, quinoa, bacon, diced mushroom and kimchi.
I like the take on Rustic Hummis, which is chunky style.

On the dotted line
If dreams and plans for the New Year are bigger than you can contain, put them all down in a Leuchtturm1917 journal, now with dotted lines. They’re designed to sooth the eye and all. The writing down of things, transcribing from your mind to paper, is designed to soothe your soul, and that’s up to you. But I’m telling you, this German line with the “lighthouse” name is a guide to orderly plans and wild dreams. Just “petting” the smooth purple cover of one of these blank canvases is enough to make the ink start to flow. A tiny investment into something that will be with you so long is inspiring. Why not start the new year out with the best?

Are you ready?
There’s a lot of math involved in surviving disaster, but you can be enjoying French toast and enchiladas with proper planning from “Prepper’s Food Storage.” Julie Languille’s book offers 101 Easy Steps to Affordably Stock A Life-Saving Supply of Food. How to calculate how many calories your children need now and as they grow? Covered. Tips on rotating stock? Done. Recipes? Whirl some olive oil into those canned beans for a great tip while help is on the way or bake some pumpkin bread. This author has great tips for a time you don’t want to think of. We now know we live in the path of hurricanes and we’ll want to be ready. Investigate with this Ulysses Press publication.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

TAM hosts Christmas workshop

For just $10, children can go craft crazy while parents get in some shopping time. Texas Artists Museum is planning a Christmas Workshop with activities including cookie decorating, making ornaments and a paper gingerbread house and fashioning a wreath pin.
“You can drop them off and go to the mall,” said Janice Terrell, organizer.
Santa’s little helpers aged 6 to 12 can also get a cookie snack. The event will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 7, at the museum, 3501 Cultural Center Drive. Register by calling TAM at 409-983-4881 from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or by calling Terrell at 409-985-3769. 

Charmed by Madil
Is it better to look great or have more closet space? Sparkly heart and star charms switch up the new neutral with Madil offerings. We Southeast Texans wear flip flops throughout the year with our humid temps. Classic design in a neutral base gets different looks with colored bands and some serious bling charms. Change your look with “shoe jewelry.” Got to love that.
Now I’m forced with another decision: Madil sandals have a little texture that’s like a mini massage. Should I keep them as my pristine indoor shoes or show them off to the world outside?

Flavored soap?
You still can’t wash your mouth out with Chandler Farm soap, but that firm block of pomegranate smells heavenly. Coconut banana smells like a bakery and cranberry and mandarin body butter goes on smooth. This Colorado-based company goes all-natural with pride and the labels tell you what you are getting and what makers are proud is not going into their bottles and onto your body. Live a little with Chandler Farm goodies like natural lavender body wash. It’s the kind of thing mothers and daughters will love together.

Lift your utensils above the germs
I’m still praising “modern” spatulas that withstand high heat and are formed in one piece so that germs don’t hide in the section between the spoon part that crumbles and the wooden part that splinters.
Now, get that image out of your head and replace it with sleek Core Kitchen’s Modern Lift Brights Collection. I’m handling a yellow and gray nylon turner that resists stains and odors and takes up to 400 degrees of heat. The best part?  Nub on the back of the handle that lifts up the surfaces that touch your food off the counter. It’s a built-in spoon rest for a range of tools in a modern rainbow to match your moods and kitchen. This little bit of info is already enough to send clean cooks to Look for more options designed to help you enjoy your time in the kitchen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bless This Food

Bless This Food
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit. – Robert Burns (1759-1796) “The Selkirk Grace”
Are we thankful at Thanksgiving only? “Bless This Food: Ancient & Contemporary Graces from Around the World” is Adrian Butash’s blessing for us all. Time travel to days and situations where these graces were said over a rare chunk or meat or a small bowl of gruel, or perhaps a sumptuous feast of fruit and fish.
Dozens of prayers, even in sign language, help readers feel the deepest gratitude in a book that could take a year to digest. It could be the “meat” of your table, or the best hostess gift for someone who has offered you hospitality.

Your Best Life
Can you fit Your Best Life in your purse? Initials Inc. has a Stylebook of amazing, colorful options so you can personalize any sort of travel or handbag. The little YBL case can hold your makeup or sunglasses in a snazzy snap cover that will make you smile whenever you pull it out. Some funds from sales go to NOW, No One Without, which helps children who want forever families. Make it your own and name all your family members, too.

Zap your immune system
I didn’t exactly single out the black pepper or cumin, and I’m not even sure what vasaka and parpataka taste like. But all those herbs and more that tumbled out of an Herbal Zap packet help with immunity, digestive and respiratory issues. Who doesn’t want that? The info suggests you may want to take this when you travel. We all want to be healthy to eat all that turkey.

Chocolate tea
Pu-erh is pronounced Poo-air. Insert chuckle here. It’s an ancient healing tea from 500-year-old organic, wild tea treas in the mountains of Yunnan, China said to give forth “chi,” or life energy. Sound yummy? It smells like chocolate and Numi adds organic cocoa nibs, nutmeg, orange peel and cinnamon. What do you get? Chi tastes pretty relaxing. It’s subtle and very rewarding to reach for over a high-calorie gulp.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kemah has it going on

I was just in Kemah and figured that name must mean something, probably native American. I read online the name is from the Karankawas and means “wind in my face.”
Appropriate for a beautiful marina town. I saw some boats come in on the boardwalk and fed some seagulls who weren’t afraid of the screaming riders whizzing by on the wooden roller coaster.
Some friends from my husband’s class at Sharpstown High were meeting for lunch in Webster, and I noticed we’d passed a Steak ‘n Shake. I asked one of his friends, a furloughed NASA employee, if he’d ever been and he said he wasn’t impressed with the steak burger, but did like the shake. Since I’d just heard Roger Ebert’s book read, and he said that if he ever had to take someone like the Pope or the president to dinner, it would be to Steak ‘n Shake, I was curious. It was crowded, so we got a salted caramel pretzel shake to go and shared it. We give that one two thumbs up.

Y’all come to Texas
Lonely Planet released Best in Travel 2014, with lots of lists and travel trends. In true Texas fashion, we get to brag we made one of those lists. Here it is:

Top 10 Regions
1.       Sikkim, India
2.       The Kimberley, Australia
3.       Yorkshire, UK
4.       Hokuriku, Japan
5.       Texas, USA
6.       Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia
7.       Mallorca, Spain
8.       West Coast, New Zealand
9.       Hunan, China
10.   Ha’Apai, Tonga

Stocking Stuffers
Boys and their toys was a header on information on Laser Peg Runners, and it’s true, boys (and girls) can still get excited about lighted toys that run  on batteries and imagination. They look a lot like Legos, so any fan base there is sure to get “charged” by seeing Laser Pegs toys run as a block with an LED bulb. Your creation lights up in reds, blues, greens and yellows. I’m watching one that looks like a tank go all around the table and I gotta say, it is fun for any age.

New “flavors” in skin care
This pumpkin trend is nuts! There’s pumpkin seed extract in
G.M. Collin Bio Organique Energizing Mask, and there’s apple extract in their eye patches.  I have not tried, this but I’m telling you, I love the scent of resveratrol in a sample of Vine Vera’s Merlot Collection Moisture Day Cream.
What’s good about mulled wine can be good for your skin. It doesn’t exactly smell like wine, but it is a daily pleasure to hydrate.
It’s not your grandmother’s skin cream, thought I was just talking to a man who owned a package store, and he said doctors used to “prescribe” Mogan David wine for various complaints.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bayou Something

Bayou Something
Beau Revé  is now a shop and dine stop, just in time for the holidays. Rebecca Bellard has moved vendors of jewelry, bags, scarves and clothing into the seafood restaurant. Sounds like heaven for women, but men are enjoying antler wine bottle holders, Jana McKinney said. She and Jackie Allgood work the restaurant and show wares at Southern Comfort Home Décor & More, their area of the restaurant’s entry way and showcase. 
Guests can still dine in the home, but lunch goers now have a speedy option of her “surf and turf” buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. She said the staff gets everyone fed with fried fish, a salad bar and sweet things.

Duck bacon?
Frank D. Henley of Nederland carves pens out of sunken cypress, olive and palm wood. Hunters, he can also make you a pen from a bullet. I thought he was saying that what comes out of the pen, as in your thoughts, could be “manure,” but he says he can make a pen from cow manure, or antlers, too. I enjoyed meeting Mr. Henley at the Better Business Bureau senior celebration. He tells me his son is manager of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and is looking into something called duck bacon.
Marcus Henley has contacted me and writes this:
“It is interesting that we just got back from an event in Houston. In Texas we work with Martin Preferred: We were showing smoked foie gras, which is very cool. Sear it, side it with a nice steak and it is heaven.”
For more information, visit

Duck for wine
Bodegas Franco Esapanolas Rioja Bordon Reserva is wine for duck, and turkey. Spicy and balsamic aromas dominate a blend of noble Rioja grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuleo It’s a product of Spain that has come to America to help you entertain over the holidays. It’s the kind of red I like, described as “long on the palate” and each slow sip can bring images of the vinards where this aged wine originated. Rioja Bordon with Tempranillo and Garnacha is splendid for hearty pasta, meat and fish dishes. This is another blend that can last all afternoon because each sip is to be savored.

Dark stuff
Okay, just as I’ve trained myself to read wine labels to learn tasting notes, I get this “trick” bottle. The 2012 Apothic Dark promises to mix Old World intrigue with modern sophistication. What’s that? I don ‘t know. But I like it. “The taste of the unknown is even more dark, decadent and delicious than that which is known. Apothic Dark is a secret blend being kept locked away in the vaults of the Apotheca,” is what I’m getting from this Modesto, Ca. company. More power to them. I’ve crossed over to the dark side. But still, I got a hint that there is coffee, dark chocolate, blueberry and blackberry notes in the dark.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wear your Oiler Pride

It happened again. We were out to breakfast with my aunt in Katy and a little boy came in with a Dallas Cowboys shirt. Well, she said to us in mock seriousness, the boy was under his parents’ influence, and unable to make his own decisions in clothing. As he was nestled into his high chair, she expressed her dismay with the Cowboys and harkened back to the days she had seats for Houston Oilers Games.
Since then, we have lost Bum Phillips. But, I acquired a “new” Oilers shirt for Aunt Anne through a company specializing in people like her. I mean, those who pine for a sports team that is no longer.
Prep Sportswear says they offer the largest array of custom fan apparel for football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and more -
Now, there was no way when the Oilers played that we dreamed of the electronics we have now, but fans can sport that logo on hoodies, iPad, iPhone, Kindle skins and backpacks, blankets, scarves, towels and more. Personalize further for a just-for-you statement.
Go teams!

Going Pink and Sexy
If you want big, sexy hair, have you tried the product “Big Sexy Hair?” It’s in those super-tall red cans, but now, limited editions have a pink Ombre design to support breast cancer awareness.
Powder Play made my big hair bigger (I won’t vouch for the sexy claim) and Root Pump Plus has a little spout that looks like a fog horn for the same kind of look. My favorite is Soy Renewal, that puts a bit of smoothing power into my crazy curls. Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Harder keeps it all in place, even during a walk on the breezy Port Arthur Sea Wall. Look good while you are helping out.
Five percent of net proceeds (up to $40,000) from sales of the special edition cans will benefit Look Good Feel Better (LGFB), a national public service program that helps patients struggling with the appearance-related challenges of cancer treatment. 

Now that’s a welcome
Years ago I saw a square wreath in a Martha Stewart magazine and every year since then I thought about making one. I haven’t. Thank goodness Creekside Farms can create goodness from lavender, sage and herby things that are hanging on my mom’s door now, providing an amazing fragrance and a peaceful view. Want a fall look? There is art in they way they arrange artichokes, magnolia pods and apple quince in bursts of color that welcome holiday guests. This California company can make lavender sachets for weddings and corporate gifts that won’t get passed on.
While they work the unexpected into their crafts, don’t worry, they can make a classic circular wreath, too.
Visit for a peek.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Industrial Lunch Box Goes Whole Hog

Industrial Lunch Box goes whole hog
Van Choate caters Cajun flavors to hungry refinery workers, and he can cook you up a whole hog. Or a gator, he says.
“Do I have to furnish the gator?” I asked while enjoying some smoked boudain.
“No, I’ll go get you one,” he reassured me.
Hush Puppy’s Industrial Lunchbox is new on Savannah Avenue in Port Arthur. Choate says he offer his rice dressing, smoked pork and fried fish in an “interesting atmosphere.” Nestled between refineries and a car wash, the venue offers an outside deck and music from Jack Flash on Fridays. Flash plays classic rock on the keyboards and sports a rockin’ eye patch.
Choate said he wanted a site where he could get a couple of hundred hot meals out fast. He said the restaurant was “so cute,” that he decided to get a little steam table going to boot. He’s proud of his spices and “to the bone” flavoring for chicken as well as molasses blackberry chipotle sauce he soaks into meatballs. He aims to stick with what works, but could be inspired to add liver to the menu.
“I want something simple with good taste,” Choate said.
He’s from Orange, but his people are from Crowley, La. Choate says he has run Tuffy’s, Cajun Cookery in Orange, Catfish Kitchen and currently has Hush Puppy Seafood in Vidor. Industrial Lunch Box is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Trump jewelry
I ran in for a quick look at new pieces of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry available at Alter’s Gem Jewelry in Beaumont. My favorites are delicate circles of diamonds in a pendant that are at once modest and flashy. A representative asked if it was something I might like as a Christmas gift. I don’t know any women who would say no to it.
The people in Trump jewelry communications have let me know that women who buy Trump’s jewels will be in the company of “red-carpet style icons such as Demi Moore, Oprah, Lindsay Price, Ginnifer Goodwin, Brooke Shields, Natalie Portman, Emmy Rossum and Blake Lively.

Spanish Olive Oil
I’ve read you should stock the best olive oil you can afford. Carbonell, which I’m told is Spain’s top brand, has a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from Italian “extra virgen” varieties (that I also love). The lovely lady on the label looks like she’s enjoying it as much as I do. I use olive oil for lots of things that I used to use butter for, like cooking eggs, and Carbonell is a flavorful option that is affordable and has some flair. This bottle was so good that I began craving new ways to cut back on every other seasoning so I could taste the oil even more. For recipes like the following, visit

Apple and Mango Marinated Chicken

1/2 cup Carbonell Extra Light Olive Oil
4 cleaned free-range, boneless chicken breasts (cut into 3-inch strips)
2 cups fresh apple cider
2 cups mango juice or your favorite equivalent
(guava, pineapple or blend)
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
additional kosher salt and
black pepper for seasoning after the marinating process


1. Remove any fat and cartilage from the chicken breast and cut into small 3-inch strips.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together juices, salt, pepper and Carbonell Extra Light Olive Oil.
3. In a glass baking dish, container or resealable plastic bag, lay the strips of chicken in the marinade and let them sit overnight for maximum results.
4. Remove the chicken from marinade and season both sides of the chicken with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper (50/50 blend).
5. Heat outdoor or indoor grill to high and place strips on it, quickly grilling each side. Do not overcook the chicken as these little strips will cook in about 3-5 minutes total cooking time (remember some of the acids from the juices have broken down the chicken already).
6. Remove cooked chicken from the grill and place in a new clean container.
7. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and let chicken rest (it will continue to cook slightly). Serve over a simple salad or roasted corn salad.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Need help tippling in the French Quarter?

Ever wonder how your tattoos will fit in at, say, Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street? Something tribal or floral ought to blend in fine, but don’t fret, you won’t run into locals.
Fleur-de-lis and celtic tats may mark you as a local at Kerry Irish Pub, where they’ll pour you a Guinness.
No one will even be peeking for ink at The Rib Room bar, where a specialty cocktail should set you back $10.
What to swill, who your drinking buddies will be, a musical heads up and best features are outlined in “The French Quarter Drinking Companion.”
With lalugh-out-loud reading, very useful tips and the occasional photograph that makes you miss New Orleans, Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce and Richard Read decipher the libation scene of “America’s most eclectic neighborhood.” You’ll get both a “been there” and “gotta try that” vibe.

These three have courageously and generously outlined neighborhood, Bourbon Street, high-brow hipster and beer bars, as well as those that fly the rainbow flag.
Grab a bitters and soda or pop open an Abita beer and settle in for a cozy night’s read. You can snuggle in a blanket as you prepare for your next crawl through the French Quarter. It’s a Pelican Publishing Co. thing.

Your mama’s crafts
Back in the ‘70s we made our crafts from scraps. Moms sent salad empty salad dressing bottles to school, potato crisp cans became canisters and one of my teachers saved her air freshener cones for a science lover to make rocket ships.
Later crafters headed to stores where sealed bags of tiny accessories were sold for big bucks.
Alison Caporimo is bringing the spirit of making something from nothing back in “Instacraft: Fun & Simple Projects for Adorable Gifts, Décor and More.” ShalI I begin with bricks painted to look like classic books, to prop up your real books? How about a ripped lace stocking covering your basic clay pot to fancy up your aloe display?
This author wants to make every surface sparkle, as evidenced by the Master lock done up in nail polish. I get her. One quickie is to decorate a cloth bag with markers and sprits it with alcohol for a run-together of colors. This book will create hours of bonding time with parents and kids and older girlfriends. We all need more of that.

Mangos and Mimosa
Sea salts are a natural luxury we are familiar with, or should be. Ever had loofah in your scrub? Kanshi Salted Mango Hand & Body Scrub (Repê comes from a jar you’ll be happy to see at the end of a rough day. What an aroma, what a soothing feeling to go on, and what a conditioned feeling for the rest of the evening. Oh well, might as well start the day with another scrub.
Kanshi makes a Mimosa Natural Soy Candle to burn for more than 36 hours. Does a lead-free wick excite you? The smooth amber tint of this votive pairs well with fall evenings.

 Dark calcium
Ever thought you’d have to hide your calcium supplements? I’m keeping Adora premium all-natural dark chocolates are 30 calories a serving and provide up to 50 percent of the daily value of calcium plus vitamin D3 and magnesium. Adora acknowledges supplements aren’t “sexy” and thinks these, also available in milk chocolate, could become your “BFF,” that’s best friend forever. Thompson Brands, chocolatiers with a heritage since 1879, have made these supplements into something else. They look like a candy and come wrapped up like one. I keep them with Kisses and consider them a daily treat.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall road trip to Woodville

Been itching to hear some dulcimer music? The 25th annual Harvest Festival at Heritage Village Museum in Woodville is set for Oct. 18-20. Blacksmithing, flintnapping, soap making and bobbin lace making are also on the program. Not enough action? Stay for the Western Shoot Out and square dancing.
Fall is a great time for a Texas road trip and I made hit Woodville in time for a big fried chicken lunch at the Pickett House Restaurant. This family-style destination has still got it, with heaping bowls of chicken and dumplings and watermelon rind preserves. They said that even people who don’t  like greens like Pickett House greens. I’m one of those people, and it’s true, I loved these greens. The walls are outfitted in vintage circus posters that I’m told were once part of a Port Arthur collection.
In related road trip news, Stark Museum of Art in Orange will host Illustrated Family Day on Saturday, Oct. 19. It’s free.

Circle of Friends
Mirasol has curly hair like me, so her Shine Serum Lustre, in melon is also good for controlling frizz and preventing tangle for me. But the little girl in ethnic costuming on these labels are designed to appeal to children. She wants to quiz you about her country, where her uncle weaves reed boats. Okay I’ll spill the beans. She is from Bolivia. And her serum smells so good.
The Circle of Friends line features herbal products like chickweed, aloe leaf and guava with with other illustrated children: Jenny’s Root Beer shampoo; Bonita’s Banana moisturizing shampoo, and Makwa’s calming cream. This boy is dressed like a doctor. Georgee is dressed for the beach, because he has swimmer’s shampoo to battle chlorine green.
Because of this product, I have looked up information on Lake Titicaca, totora boats and the plant rosa canina. Now Mirasol is in my Circle of Friends.

Rise Above with Love: Campaign Bright Future
Nobody minds looking good for a good cause. Jane iredale – The Skin Care Makeup launches Bright Future to celebrate six years of partnership with Living Beyond reast Cancer. A rose-colored Swarovski Crystal dots an already too-cute tiny silver compact filled with wee portions of Peach Sherbet, Pink Glaze, Red Carpet, Pink Cloud and Dusk eye shadow. The little box is like a tiny charm on a chain that also harnesses the capped brush. Why pop $30 on this little beauty? A full 100 percent of profits go toLiving Beyond Breast Cancer. Call 800-762-1132 to learn more about why plastic surgeons and dermatologists think so highly of this mineral makeup line based in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

Texting Leopard, Texting Cheetah
We don’t often have frigid weather in Southeast Texas, but when we do… Jeanne Simmons has got style wrapped around warmth for all ages. Guys want some furry looks? Kids looking cute with an animal head hat? Ladies hip to the Dagney hat? Done and done. I recently stayed dry in a gully washer in a Dagney, a brimmed, gray wool and polyester classic that would have fit right in at Dick Dowling Days. Another find to highlight is texting gloves. I’d heard that texting caught on later up north because of everyone needing bulky gloves. Available in both leopard and cheetah prints, these stretchy wonders have the index finger in both the right and left hand glove tipped in a fabric that lets you maneuver your touch pad phone or electronic reader. This is what they thought of after someone said, “What will they think of next?”,

Need the Skinfo
You might expect Skinfo Mint Mask, 20 Minutes Cooling Clay, to be green. Mint is green, right? This made-in-USA product is earthy is green in that sense. It’s also earthy, as in made of kaolin clay and hectorite, so I wish I’d been using it when I studied geology at Lamar University. I love a good mask and this one, cleans and tightens pores while absorbing oil and can control breakouts.
Skinfo Shine Control is an efficient compact to slip in your purse to keep the shine off your nose. It comes with the thinnest “puff” I’ve ever used and it feels so light and good on the skin. It’s the
jojoba oil esters, biotin and niacinamide that work to conceal redness.