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.