Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer looks go natural

I tied Sea Rim sea shells to a straw bag I got at a resale shop. The natural look is a must for summer. Gaiam offers something with even more glamor: a necklace of Equadorian palm, acai and pambil seeds. They come in different colors and look just like some gourmet chocolates. Beads strands are layered with base metal chains and waxed linen string for a textured look that’s bound to make people ask where you got such a stunner. The Unity Necklace is from Andean Collection, a fair trade group. Wear it, and you’ll look like you’ve been somewhere exotic.
Gaiam is known for yoga and fitness products. Check out their casual and work attire, home décor, etc. Other picks: Reflexology Wellness slides, with little nubs that massage your feet, putting me in the mind of the welcome mat at the old Gibson’s department stores; an organic cotton robe ringing in at $124; and a water bell fountain designed by percussionist Garry Kvistad. Talk about a conversation piece.
Bees helped make Beesential with propolis, “The Super Bee Antioxident.” Lemon Lavendar in a beeswax lip balm is packaged with other temptations like honey and peppermint in a tin box that is ready to tuck into your Sea Rim beach bag. It feels good and smells better than a lot of stuff you’ve put on your lips. Keep tubes in your purse, desk drawer and by the bed. Sweet honey and golden beeswax in harvested on a family farm where makers personally tend to the bees. Look onto shower gels, lotions and other Beecology goodies.

That’s sharp
I can’t tell what Razorpit is made from, but it’s working. It’s a rubbery strip that allows your razor blade to last for up to 150 shaves. Soap it down and scrape your blade against it, and the “friction technology” removes built-up hair and skin that makes razors dull. I’ve been keeping a simple disposable sharp for weeks. I’ll bet that the more expensive your razor, the better Razorpit works. I love the opportunity to make things last longer. Go green.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prophets of Smoked Meat have tasted SE Texas

Prophets of Smoked Meat have tasted SE Texas
I keep passing passages of Daniel Vaughn’s “The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue,” to people to read. The writing and passion behind this book is impressive.  He keeps a tally of his tours and totals 35 days, 10,343 miles and 186 BBQ Joints. The photos, tips and tales are great. You feel like you are there eating the good stuff and tolerating the bad.
In A Long Search Through East Texas, he gets to Beaumont’s defunct Pig Stand, and writes about places we know, such as Broussard’s Links + Ribs, Patillo’s, Sonny’s BBQII, JB’s BBQ, Willy Ray’s, Sartin’s Seafood, Butcher’s Korner, Comeaux’s Bar-B-Que, Bar-H Country Store and Stingaree Restaurant are a few he mentioned. I can’t say enough good things about this book and how it fosters love and knowledge of smoked meats. Vaughn is pictured spray painting his Twitter handle on a Cadillac Ranch piece: @BBQ SNOB.

Grilling trends
McCormick Grill Mates & Lawry’s Flavor Forecast 2013: GRILLING EDITION: announces seven flavors to watch:
Sweet Tea
Smoked Tomato
Pecan Wood
White Peach
In the DIY Condiments news: Personalized condiments are shaking up traditional burger, hot dog and sausage toppers. Try Smoky Tomato Ketchup with Poblano Chile.
Get these flavors with McCormick seasonings. The company sent me some to play with (thank you!) and here’s a few things that came out of my kitchen. My winner was a packet of Smokin’ Sweet Tea Marinade on pork, for Mother’s Day. The directions call for oil and apple cider or white vinegar, but I just enjoyed it as a rub. I had more flavors than meat, so I tried other variations
Premium Smoky Montreal Steak: Purple onions sautéed in this sauce, served alongside an over easy egg made a hearty breakfast. There’s also a Premium Montreal Steak Sauce.
A packet of  Savory Garlic & Italian Herb Shrimp seasoning flavored yellow lentil soup well enough so I’m confident it would rank high with actual Southeast Texas shrimp.
Shakers of Backyard Brick Oven Grill Mates and Worcestershire Pub Burger are out. The firs offers a sweet, garlic and pepper tang and the second, with dry mustard smells just like the liquid variety of the sauce. I’ll bet it would be great in Chex mix and popcorn.
I’m saving the Slow & Low packet of Tennessee Smokehouse BBQ Rub for after my upcoming trip to a barbecue mecca.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Texas Rangers bought their own badges

 Texas Ranger talk
“Riding Lucifer’s Line: Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border,” is Bob Alexander’s telling of  the rough and rowdy history of a set of Texas icons. He opens with the Frontier Battalion era of 1874-1901 and notes that many a Ranger over the ages was appointed for a time of crisis, and then returned to the fields. If he wanted a badge, it was ordered from a jewelry catalogue or hammered from a coin.
A new Ranger reported for duty with a personally-owned six-shooter, “Army size,” and a horse, which meant a gelding, not a temperamental, sexually cycling mare or an easily aroused and sometimes hard to manage hormonally stirred-up stallion,” the author writes in this University of North Texas releae.
The photo gallery includes a  1917 letter from Great Southern Life Insurance Company, asking detail of an applicant’s duties. It reads “If this man is subject to call for service on the Border for instance, we would not be able to offer him insurance.

CHSEL art up at TAM
Arnulfo Hernandez started the kids off with animals and still life acrylic paintings, then they went on to boats, until he got tired of them. Then his young Christian Home School Enrichment Labs students, aged 8-18, wanted to move on to angels. A sampling of all these topics is up at Texas Artists Museum in May. CHSEL meets in the First Baptist Church of Groves Family Life Center during the school year on Fridays.

Attic on the Avenue
Mae Terro of United Board of Missions knows I’m a big fan of the resale shops. She made sure I knew about the new Attic on the Avenue on Port Neches Avenue and I couldn’t wait to find myself in that neighborhood. I just did, but not between the hours of 11 and 4:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Seven Sisters Resale is next door, and was also closed when I cruised by. I will look forward to crossing both their doors.

Put a shade on it
I hope you hear it here first: lampshades for your wineglasses are “in.” Di Potter’s collection of translucent shades come flat in an envelope. You fold and tuck them into a shade, get you’re your wine glass and pop in a battery-operated candle and slip your shade on. Classy, fun and a safer than real flames. You now have lighting for your patio, dining room and any where else you party. I’ve impressed guests with blue designs that show off a gentle glow. Smart stuff.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fired-up grilling and polka dots

Jan says polka dots
Lime and turquoise colors, polka dots, stripes, wedge sandals and tops that tie in the front are big for spring and summer looks, Janice Perrell says. She’s the owner of Jan’s Resale Boutique on Lincoln Avenue in Groves. Her shop also has new items and Perrell’s vendor publications keep her in the know. I was just in the store and found lots of cute denim skirts and jeans to pair with those trending looks.

Sass spelled out
It’s no wonder Oprah loves Initial Reaction jewelry. She can get her O in gold vermeil, a pure sterling silver base dipped in 14 karat gold, brightly colored enamel for casual looks even acrylic for the gym. I’m sporting a D acrylic key chain that looks like bone. It would make a perfect graduation gift and presents the “sass” makers promote. Scripts and fonts let you customize your look and charms add more individuality from this line. This site is one-stop shopping for all the women in your life.

Pitmasters share
My mother says her social calendar is full and I propose everyone should be just as active. If you’re not invited to a party (and all decked out in items mentioned above) then throw one yourself. “All Fired Up: Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets from The South’s Best Pitmasters” takes readers from Carolina mustard and vinegar sauces to a Kansas City molasses treat, the white mayo-base sauce I have heard lore of and back home to the wet stuff we like in Texas. Troy Black and editors of Southern Living cover barbecuing, brining, grilling and smoking and photos of the kind of southern living we all like to do help make this book a work of art. There’s more than the Hot Chix, pigging out, beef, tuna and veggies. Grilled bok choy, making sauce of simply ketchup and mango chutney, and a banana pudding with a high fluffy topping are ideas to savor. Here’s something to go on:

Ginger Rub
2 tablespoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Lemon-Dijon Marinade
Makes about 2 ½ cups
Hands”on Time: 10 minutes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
¼ cup grated lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ teaspoon salt
1.   Whisk together all ingredients
2.   Note: to prepare ahead, store in airtight refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and whisk before using.