Monday, January 28, 2013

Wooden shades and waiting for dessert

Red Envelope
Wooden sunglasses? I’m rocking them. What could say “road trip” more than classic “Buddy Holly” shades reminiscent of the wood paneling in a vintage station wagon? What says 2013 more than sustainable bamboo and recycled polycarbonates worked in to your specs and a purchase that comes with an eye exam and prescription glasses for a person in need? Red Envelope, home to “unique and personalized gifts” online, will hook you up with these Panda brand shades that come in a bamboo holder (that I have recycled into a makeup brush stand). I was already a Panda fan and these ecofriendly glasses, which I think make me see rainbows, are a great addition to the line.
Red Envelope has Valentine gift ideas on every page, but foodies should keep a look out for wood and ceramic windowsill kits for herbs or flowers. There’s a simple, peaceful look about the wooden frame holding three white squares of soil, and the landscape changes daily. Basil, oregano and parsley are popping up and I can’t wait to run to the window to check on them. They’ll soon end up in a sauce, but I shall plant again.

Soap for the dictionary
The big block of fragrant Mediterranean Jasmine soap  - I mean Luxury Bath Bar - from Agraria put me in mind of the fine paper scrap collection my mother had when I was a child. She’d save scraps of patterns, foils and textures and work them into linings for crafts that are still eye-catching decades later. This soap was wrapped up beautifully, and the aroma penetrated. You could smell the soap, and the Crystal Cane perfumed candle of the same fragrance, for days without even opening the wrapping. The soap then sent me to the dictionary for research on sea fennel and kukui nut oil, two ingredients that make this soap magic. The Golden Cassis candle’s complex scent is rivaled by unique textured pattern of the clear holder and silver lid. It’s a cut above. I also took to the Internet for definitions on agraria and Cassis, and feel like I’ve had a little trip around the globe. These are the makers of TasselAires, a beautiful way to scent your home through d├ęcor.

Can you wait for dessert?
A baking dish and trivet can help you make your slow cooker do dessert duty. Jonnie Downing has some amazing selections in “Slow Cooker Desserts: Hot, Easy and Delicious Custards, Cobblers, Souffles, Pies, Cakes and More.” Could waiting for dessert take longer than saying that title? Jonnie makes it sound worth it. Who wants cheesecake? Bread pudding? Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars? Okay, I’m in. I want it all. “Slow Cooker Desserts” is going to my daughter with pages marked as my requests. I love the idea for Preacher’s Delight: While you’re at church, it’s cooking and ready for when the preacher comes to dinner.

Preacher’s Delight
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Spoon in the cherry pie filling. Combine the cake mix with the butter make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over the pie filling in the slow cooker and top with the chopped nuts. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Healing stories

Business Exchange
Ryan Dews of Holiday Inn Express in Port Arthur has a free deal for businesses. Call him at 853-4114 to ask about being part of the first Business Exchange at the hotel, set for 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28.
“Spread the word,” Dews said.
His business group is inviting area reps to set up and share how they can exchange commerce with each other and support the Port Arthur region.

Healing stories
Butterflies, pennies and angels… I knew it! Don’t forget rainbows. “Touched by the Extraordinary Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope” is Susan Barbara Apollon’s collection of signs people have received regarding healing after the loss of a loved one. As you can imagine, rainbows are big, but I love the discussion of family members in different places seeing them at the same time. Coincidence? This book is even a comfort to hold in one’s hands. Puffy clouds in a blue sky are on the smooth cover and raised letters provide texture. Read it with hot tea and surrounded by puffy pillows.

Been to Bastrop
To those who know I love to find pennies, here’s a bit about one I found in downtown Bastrop. I found a cute charm on a chain with the word “happy,” and turned it over to find it was fashioned from a real penny. Good luck you can wear. It was at Wild Thyme Herb Shop, which also offers teas, balms, oils and tinctures.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Almanac has the PA facts

Remember almanacs? I’d say bring ‘em back, but they never left. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2013 has color images we should never forget, that shaped our year and our world. My husband was surprised at some of the recent news that got in there, plus there’s Olympian Gabby Douglas and myriad cool stuff. What I love is that the 1,000-plus pages include mention of Janis Joplin and Hurricane Rita have have that famous image of Jack Brooks as LBJ is getting sworn in. There’s serious stuff, like how Texas was named for being friendly, and relatively frivolous stuff, like the cover photo of Anne Hathway with her hair “Le Mis” short. Get your self a 2013 and keep it out all year long.

Bayou Bauhous
I love Joey Blazek’s painting of vessel’s chugging and sailing in Galveston Bay, and I also love Albert Faggard’s  bluejay staring down an orange pumpkin. The Southeast Texas Arts Council announces Bayou Bauhous, a site to unite area artists with buyers. Check it out at

BBB turns 50
I made my first Better Business Bureau Morning Mix Tour at Summer’s Abbey Flooring in Port Neches and enjoyed how business owners shared a bit on their workings and made new contacts. The BBB turns 50 this year and will make its presences known everywhere, Debbie Bridgeman, services and communications director, said. For more on Lunch & Learn or other BBB programs, contact

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hammers and tamales

I heard that Nederland’s famed La Suprema Mexican restaurant set up a space at M&D Supply on College Street in Beaumont. This hardware stop is already my favorite for soda and popcorn, and now this! I don’t know what my husband went to the store for, but he came back with tamales, which he froze for a special occasion, so I haven’t had the pleasure of tasting them yet.
I needed a paint roller, so I got to see this really cute set up outfitted with a colorful serape and metal walls. Viva M&D.

In position
Some women are very good with home pedicures and will love RadaPro’s portable nail station. Those of us who are clumsy will love it even more. The softest cloth covers the little hand and foot station that puts your nails in the perfect position for tending. I like how the little polish holder swivels out and tilts the bottle to where you need it. I love how you can put your cotton ball over a top-pumping dispenser to have the remover saturate that waiting ball. There’s a You Tube video that shows you what I’m telling you. It’s a New Year, new you kind of treat.

Winter skin
So we’re fortunate to have warm winters on our Gulf Coast, but once those whipping winds get you, it can do a drying, itchy number on your skin. Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream and Foot Therapy Cream are part of my preventative care program this season. The healing cream has no aroma to me and is designed for relief associated with arthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, and work and sports-related trauma injuries. Makers say the synergy of its 11 natural medicines work together help to achieve overall health, vitality and vibrancy to the skin by naturally detoxifying and stimulating blood flow to increase and enhance oxygenation of the skin make Topricin the ideal formula for taking care of winter skin. Coconut oil helps do the trick. Try it within three minutes after getting out of the shower to seal the water in the skin so it stays hydrated longer. There’s a Junior version for bumps, bruises, sprains, bug bites, etc. Other winter tips makers support:
* Drink lots of water. Keeping hydrated helps plump skin up and makes it healthier.
* Skip harsh soaps. The soap you’re using – even if it says ‘gentle’ on the package – might be leaching your skin of its lipids. All-natural, oiled-based cleansers like castile soap are a better choice for dry skin.
* Shower in lukewarm water. Long, hot showers and baths are tempting when the temperatures drop, but hot water is hard on your skin and strips it of its natural oils.
* Don’t rub! After bathing or showering, quickly and gently pat the skin partially dry with a towel.
*  Exfoliate regularly. Help your body shed the dead skin cells that can build up visibly when your skin is dry. Use a loofah or body scrub made with coarse ingredients to buff your skin so it becomes soft and smooth.
* Don’t forget to use sunscreen. It is just as easy to get sunburn in February as it is in July. Slater on a natural sunscreen and you’ll prevent damage and dryness.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A good steer, Irwin’s book and PA’s Loup Garou

I devour the January “Texas Monthly” for the hilarious Bum Steer awards. (I’m always glad when Southeast Texas is not featured.) In this issue, Beau Reve restaurant is a recommended pick. The update notes this observation: “Turning into the long drive and seeing the stately old mansion sets certain expectations. And Becky Bellard and her staff deliver, with unhurried service and food that makes the travel time worth it.” After mentioning some tempting food offerings, there’s a contemplation for a nap on the veranda. I’m in.

Author Irwin
Charles Irwin of Port Neches is releasing his new book, “The Creed Taylor Story,” about a Texas patriot.
Irwin has also published “The Unheralded Texas Heroes.” 
“I like history because I’m a San Antonio native and I grew up in all that history. It interests me for many reasons,” Irwin told me. 
He said he’s working with the Windmill Museum in Nederland to offer copies of his new book. For more information, call 722-3235 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Irwin is also working on another release, “Peerless Texas Empresarios.”

Port Arthur’s Le Loup Garou
Curses like “tarnation,” Buddy Holly’s music, a needle and thread from an agave plant and East Texas Bigfoot are a few topics “East Timers and Old Timers: The Texa Folklore Society Fire Burns On.”
“Monsters in Texas” is the chapter noting that down near Port Arthur and Sabine Lake, older Cajun fishermen and drillers still speak of Le Loup Garou – the werewolf that patrols the swamps and preys upon folks that get lost. J. Rhett Rushing, who writes this chapter, reports his professional opinion is that there can’t be many a Bigfoot between the Sabine and the Neches, simply because his relatives would have eaten or married them a long time ago.
Kenneth L. Untiedt edits this book of publications from the Texas Folklore Society LXVIII from University of North Texas Press.