OctoBEARfest, Magnolia, Texas

BearsEtc_(1)Bears Etc.’s second annual OctoBEARfest is ready to roar!

Join them on October 12 from 10am-4pm in Montgomery’s historic district located off of Texas 105 and Liberty Street to help raise funds for a bear sanctuary in Montgomery County. The children’s area, crafter’s market, and bake sale will be back again this year, along with several new attractions.

Last year’s inaugural event raised over $4,000. The goal is to raise $200,000 to support the vision for a new Bear and Exotic Animal Rescue Sanctuary  in Montgomery. Bears Etc. was founded as a nonprofit organization in 2017 to provide permanent, community-based, self-sustainable refuge as a home for displaced exotic and wild animals and to educate others about the natural world.

As with last year, there will be a BBQ cook-off. Buy your taster’s ticket early and enjoy some premier Texas BBQ – and get to vote on which is the best!

 

This year will also see a lawnmower race, and a wide assortment of information and crafts booths to browse and learn from. The cottage industry was well represented with tons of tasty items available for sampling and sale.

 

Last year’s information booths included Bear’s Etc., Safe Haven – a large animal rescue service, and a raptor rehabilitation team.

 

Hope to see you there!

— Ann Cathey

“My Magazine Sharing Network”

You may have seen some sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter concerning My Magazine Sharing Network. This is a program connected to Kroger and affiliated stores offering free goods and coupons supporting trying new things. This might be recipes, how individuals handle suggested items in creating a meal or dessert, and photos of what folks have done with the various challenges in the program.

So far, it’s been interesting and fun. I’ve been able to take Kroger products into my kitchen and see what I can do with them. Don’t worry – I won’t be keeping the ideas all to myself. As I finish projects, I’ll be writing about the experiences and sharing photos of my creations, and possibly some guest creations as well.

I hope you will enjoy this aspect of our blog as much as I will, and that some of you will check out the My Magazine Sharing Network program.

— Ann Cathey

Spring Book Sale! – Conroe, TX

The Library Friends of Conroe is hosting their annual Spring Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas.

The Library Friends of Conroe is a volunteer organization benefiting the Montgomery County Library System. Among the many projects they organize and run, they host a twice yearly Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas. All of the books, dvds, VHS tapes, puzzles, music cds and other goodies available at the Book Sale have been donated by members of the community in the hopes that they will recirculate and bring needed funds to the local library system.

If you have never been to one of these extravaganzas, it is an experience. There are three large rooms and an entire hallway filled with tables that are covered in books of all types. I have been able to find the most remarkable cookbooks dating back into the 40’s at these tables, as well as out of print books, hard-to-find items, and am always willing to go back and check for more.

Beginning on Thursday, March 1st, from 4:30pm to 8:00pm, is First Choice Night. There is no entry free and everyone is welcome. This is the first view of the items for sale and your chance not only to preview, but to make some awesome purchases for your own reading enjoyment and edification.

Please note that accepted payment methods are by cash or check only!

Continuing on Friday, March 2nd, from 9:00am to 4:30pm, and Saturday, March 3rd, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, the sale continues in all sale areas.

The famous $2 Bag Sale is on Saturday from 9:00am to 12:30pm in the large meeting room only. The Library Friends will provide you with a bag that you are allowed to pile as many books into as you wish – for only $2. All other areas remain at regular price.

Join us at 104 I-45 North, Conroe, Texas 77301, March 1st – 3rd, for a Texas-sized Book Sale!

If you happen to miss the Spring Book Sale this year, remember that here is another one in the Fall, and Vicki’s Book Nook at the Central Library which is open whenever the library is.

For more information, please call 936-788-3888 or email lov2read@consolidated.net. You may also visit the MCLS website.

Clean and gently used donations are accepted all year at the  Book Nook at the Central Library.

–Ann Cathey

Book Musings and Sale – Conroe TX

Having been raised in the Uinited States, I can understand how British literature and fiction can be difficult for some American born readers. There’s enough difference in style and syntax to drive a mind sideways. if you haven’t practiced at it, you may get bored and put the book down and walk away. Such heresy!

“But I’ve read the Harry Potter books!” you might say. In all liklihood, you’ve read a version edited for an American reading population. yes, they do that. Publishers want YOU, the audience, to by their books and they figure you won’t do it if the text bores you to tears.

How does this issue get fixed? Either an editor takes a manuscript in hand, you you the reader learn to read for yourself. I decided as a child that I was missing out on things and learned to read Chaucer and Shakespeare in the Queen’s English before in American English, quite stubbornly. I even worked my way into the Middle English on my own.

How many people bother with that in this day and age of mass marketed, easy to assimilate, romance novel pap who are not seeking higher education at university?

Try a book sale that handles gently used and new books, many of which come from area estate sales. It’s amazing the number of treasures that are hidden away in the boxes of offerings at one of these events.

The Library Friends of Conroe is a volunteer organization benefiting the Montgomery County Library System. Among the many projects they organize and run, they host a twice yearly Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas. All of the books, dvds, VHS tapes, puzzles, music cds and other goodies available at the Book Sale have been donated by members of the community in the hopes that they will recirculate and bring needed funds to the Library.

If you have never been to one of the extravaganzas, it is an experience. There are three large rooms and an entire hallway filled with tables that are covered in books of all types. I have been able to find the most remarkable cookbooks dating back into the 40’s at these tables, and am always willing to go back and check for more.

Beginning on Thursday, October 5th, from 4:30pm to 8:00pm, is First Choice Night. There is no entry free and everyone is welcome. This is the first view of the items for sale and your chance not only to preview, but to make some awesome purchases for your own reading enjoyment and edification.

Also Thursday evening, a silent auction of themed baskets and books will begin at 4:30pm and run through Friday at 4:00pm.

Continuing on Friday, October 6th, 9:00am to 4:30pm, and Saturday, October 7th, 9:00am to 3:00pm, the sale continues in all sale areas.

The famous $2 Bag Sale is on Saturday from 9:00am to 12:30pm in the large meeting room only. The Library Friends will provide you with a bag that you are allowed to pile as many books into as you wish – for only $2. All other areas remain at regular price.

Join us at 104 I-45 North, Conroe, Texas 77301, October 6-8, for a Texas-sized Book Sale! Remember, however, it’s cash or check payment only – no credit or debit cards at this time.

If you happen to miss the Fall Book Sale this year, remember that here is another one in the Spring, and Vicki’s Book Nook at the Central Library which is open whenever the library is.

For more information, please call 936-788-3888 or email lov2read@consolidated.net. You may also visit the MCLS website.

Clean and gently used donations are accepted all year at the  Book Nook at the Central Library.

–Ann Cathey

Cruise Cuisine – Last Night in Sapphire

Due to an unexpected fog which kept the Port of Galveston closed, we were treated to an extra night on board the Carnival Breeze. One more night of fine dining in Sapphire – who was complaining? Certainly not our group!

 

Appetizers

This is a sample of the bread basket that was served every evening in Sapphire. It consisted of baguette pieces, ciabatta buns, and whole wheat rolls.

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Bread Basket

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Shrimp Cocktail

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Candied Salmon

 

Main Course

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Swordfish over Pilaf, with Lemon Reduction and a side of Ratatouille

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Fried Shrimp and Shrimp Fried Rice with Baked Macaroni & Cheese

 

Desserts

Some of the delightful desserts we had encountered previously were again available, so we availed ourselves of the chance to enjoy them once more before the trip ended.

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Nutella Tiramisu

 

The Date & Fig Pudding was a light and fluffy sort of cake, with a passion fruit custard. The intent was to poke a hole in the top of the pudding and pour the creamy custard into it. not only was I able to partake of the dessert, I also had a chance to play with my food in a socially acceptable manner.

There are several of us who can’t wait to cruise again!

–Ann Cathey

Cruise Cuisine – Sapphire Sea Day

On our third “sea day”, a day not in port, but on the open waters, we went along to dinner in Sapphire thinking it would be our last day to experience such a luscious repast. More on that hint in the next installment of this series.

Appetizers

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Beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmesan, Arugula, and Lemon Vinaigrette

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Baked Onion Soup

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Steamed Mussels with Garlic Toast

 

Main Course 

The prime rib was wonderful, shown here with and without the reduction.

 

The creole was billed as being “Caribbean Style” and turned out to be full of shrimp and  veggies, and very mild in heat.

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Tiger Shrimp Creole with a scoop of Jambalaya

 

Dessert

The cherry pie was a bit of a surprise, being very dense, but it was quite tasty with a sweet/tart combination that pleased the palate.

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Cherry Pie a la Mode

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Carrot Cake with Candied Ginger and Caramel Sauce

 

Among all the birthdays we celebrated on this cruise, we were surprised when our anniversary was also brought to light.

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Chocolate Panna Cotta

 

 

— Ann Cathey

Cruise Cuisine – Sapphire after Cozumel

The Sapphire dining experience rarely showed off any dish twice. There were some standby dishes, such as the flatiron steak and the shrimp cocktail, but even those were not available ever single night.

After our wandering about in Cozumel and having lunch in the trade market, we weary travelers came back aboard the Carnival Breeze to find sumptuous dining awaiting us once again.

Appetizers

The appetizer board featured a dish new to several of us, and so it had to be tried. While consisting of ground oyster mixed with the other ingredients rather than a whole one with a topping, the Oysters Rockefeller seemed to very much please all the gentlemen who gave it a try.

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Oysters Rockefeller

 

My choice was the seared Ahi tuna. It was topped with a bit of caviar and plated over a cucumber salad dressed with a Romanesco vinaigrette.

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Seared Ahi Tuna

 

 

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Romanesco Vinaigrette and Cucumber Salad

 

Entrees

There were so many enticing choices that our group ordered several things instead of copy-catting one another.

 

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Pork Chops bedded on caramelized onion with Mashed Potato

My choice for this evening was the lamb shank. What looked and tasted like mashed potatoes turned out to be roasted cauliflower.

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Rosemary Lamb Shank with Roasted Cauliflower and Root Vegetables

One of the other ladies indulged in Veal Parmigiana over pasta, and reported it to be perfectly tender and tasty.

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Veal Parmigiana over Spaghetti with Tomato sauce and a side of Steamed Broccoli.

 

Dessert

The dessert menu was, as ever, fully loaded, though for tonight several of us chose to stay on the lighter side of the list. We chose th lower calorie, no added sugar option: Coconut Cake.

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Coconut Cake with Coconut Creme and Lime Jam

 

When we were done with our repast, we all had to take a walk around the decks to give our stomachs a little time to process everything!

— Ann Cathey

 

Cruise Fun – Towel Animals

Every cruise line seems to have some version of folded-towel animals for housekeeping to leave on guests’ beds. It’s a charming bit of fun, and the creativity seems to be endless.

It’s also apparently a thing to photograph the fuzzy sculptures, then hide them from the staff so that a group photo may be taken just before the cruise ends. We managed to get photos of each critter, though housekeeping managed to take one away before the big group shot.

We came on board a little too late for a towel critter on our embarkation day, so this little hound was there to surprise us after supper on the second day.

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The next several days were met with enchanting little towel animals awaiting us each evening.

 

This one we never did figure out. We know it’s supposed to be an animal, but not what kind!

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This guy got away form us, sadly. our elephant was only with us for a day. We forgot to hide it with the rest and housekeeping took it away.

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This cheeky rabbit really caught us by surprise.  We came in to find him not only hogging the bed and the remote, but watching cartoons!

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Our last official evening we were greeted with this heart on the bed.

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Of course, we had to take the obligatory group shot of the survivors, in this case watching whatever the remote-hog rabbit wanted to watch while we were out.

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In the end, we left them all lined up along the top shelves of our stateroom to surprise our housekeeper. Sadly, I did not manage to capture that memory, but I will certainly do my best to do so next time.

— Ann Cathey
Additional photos by Christopher

Cruise Cuisine – Pancho’s, Cozumel, Mexico

 

In the duty-free marketplace on Cozumel, our intrepid fellows insisted that we have lunch at a local establishment they were already aware of. It’s called Pancho’s, as might be expected in the tourist area, but the food was not typical tourist fare. It was delightful to have real Mexican cuisine instead of the Tex-Mex hybrid dishes so profligate in Texas.

I started off with a coffee, while some of my fellow travelers indulged in frosty adult beverages as seen in a previous blog. The coffee was a locally grown blend, dark and rich, and served with heavy cream. it was so good I almost didn’t order food.

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My empty cup.

 

 

My partner wanted to try a Mexican beer in Mexico. Upon finding out that Dos XX was available on tap, he chose to make that his beverage experience.

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for the meal itself, we went with a couple of dishes we are quite familiar with, wanting to know how they would be served in their homeland. He went with the queso flameado (as we had previously learned to call it), while I settle for the chicken flautas.

The queso came all melty, as we know it, though it came in a shallower dish, and covered in a mild green sauce. It was served with flour tortillas as we are also used to. Somehow it tasted better than anything we had experienced back home.

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The flautas were just as I had been told to expect in Mexico. There was nothing added. Roasted chicken was rolled into tortillas and fried. The chicken was flavorful, but without all the crazy spices Tex-Mex utilizes. The sauce it was served with was a little sweet and a lot spicy, just as I had hoped it might be. There was even a large spoonful of guacamole to help cool my tongue after the first taste of that sauce.

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We were fortunate to be able to get a table on the “beach” as the hostess referred to it. It was outside on a built up bit of sand, with palm fronds for a ceiling and a view of old coral coastline and sparkling blue water.

 

We thoroughly enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and the chance to sit and do relatively little for an hour or so. We hope to be able to revisit Pancho’s and try some of the more adventurous items on the menu.

–Ann Cathey

Cruise Cuisine -Another Sapphire Evening

Our group was assigned two side-by-side tables in the Sapphire dining area. We were able to sit down each night with variations on seating, often being able to taste and share bits of our meals with one another.

Each encounter in Sapphire was as satisfying as the first.

Appetisers

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Mushrooms stuffed with spinach, Romano, and fine herbs.

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Chesapeake crab cakes with an herb remoulade.

 

 

Main Courses

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Duo of Filet Mignon and Short Rib in a red wine reduction with sautéed green beans.

 

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Spanikopita with couscous stuffed bell pepper on a bed of stewed tomato, with fired eggplant and a dab of Greek yogurt.

 

 

Desserts

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Grand Marnier Soufflé with orange crème anglaise.

 

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Chocolate and Amaretto Cake

 

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Key Lime Mousse, low calorie with no added sugar.

 

— Ann Cathey