Mother’s Day Makeover

May 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Edit

Ah, the beautiful bond of mother and daughter! A mother and daughter have a special relationship. They share each other’s secrets. They share each other’s trust. And, in hair designer Mario Romero and fashion master Todd Ramos’ world, they share each other’s colorist. In honor of Mother’s Day, Ramos and Romero decided to rescue a mother and daughter duo from fashion exile. They decided that Donna McKenzie and her daughter, Sophia, had been in fashion Siberia long enough.

As the mid-day DJ at KHJZ 95.7 “The Wave,” Donna’s career is really her voice, not necessarily her looks. Although she does public appearances all the time, including hosting the “After Work Escape” party every Wednesday night at Montrose’s Sky Bar, she can get away with being a “jeans and T-shirt” kinda gal. Neither Donna nor Sophia, a 14-year-old high school sophomore, had really thought that their low-maintenance, natural look needed updating. That is, until Romero and Ramos came along.

“Her hair was all one length,” exclaims Ramos dramatically and finally, clearly indicating that no further explanation is needed. “It was just – odd,” Romero says, searching for a world to accurately describe the confounding phenomenon.

And to make matters worse, incredibly, Donna didn’t even own a hair dryer. “Who doesn’t own a hair dryer?” marvels Ramos. “It’s almost Amish!”

Donna and Sophia’s day began at Romero’s Avant Garde Spa Hair and Makeup Studio for cutting, coloring and general pampering. Coif master Romero – or as Donna prefers to call him, Edward Scissorhands – got to work on Donna’s long red hair, working in long, flowing layers and perking up her natural red with bright highlights.

Donna had never had highlights before. She was a “highlight virgin” confirms Romero discreetly, and her natural red hair immediately brightened up in Mario’s expert hands. Sophia’s hair cut took a little bit more work – not due to Sophia’s hair, but due to Sophia. “Girls and their hair!” exclaims Ramos dramatically. “It would have been easier to pull out a tooth!” The style crew wanted to take about three inches off; Sophia didn’t want to let go of more than one. “We prevailed,” Ramos coos. Go figure.

With newly-layered and highlighted locks, it was time for massages, facials and makeup lessons. Sophia, Avant Garde’s makeup expert, banished their all-natural look in a hurry. Within minutes, mother and daughter were shaded, shadowed, bronzed and ready for some sassy new ensembles.

At Ramos’ boutique, Couture, he decided they needed fresh, pretty, spring colors. He popped Donna into a Cynthia Steffe trench coat and Sophia into a hot-pink tank top with a bright orange skirt. “It just fit their personalities,” he explains. “They are both so light and happy. They needed light, happy clothes to match.”

And what do mother and daughter think of their new looks? “I can’t stop looking at myself!” enthuses Donna. “My hair is gorgeous. It’s like a brand-new outfit that I get to wear everyday!”

And Sophia confirms that she’s never had a hair style turn out exactly the way she had envisioned it. “It’s just perfect,” she says matter-of-factly. “Total strangers are complimenting me. I love it!”

Or as Ramos puts it, “They are very “feeling it.” They know they look good, and they’re enjoying it. When a woman is feeling it, I know I have done my job – and I don’t mean it the naughty way.” H

Clearly One of the Best

May 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Edit

This former fishing community has blossomed into a bustling center of recreation, technology and commerce

As one of the largest cities in the world, Houston boasts a pretty diverse landscape for residents and visitors alike. With towering pines to the north, farmlands and crawfish paddies to the east, the hill country to the west, the Gulf to the south and an urban paradise smack dab in the middle, adventurers driving around the Houston area may come to the conclusion that the city is as varied and vast as a state in itself – actually, it is rumored to be bigger than some states.

Located between the concrete of Houston proper and the sands of Galveston lies a family-friendly area known for its boating, its ballooning and its aerospace intelligence. Yes, the Clear Lake area is home to many a suburbanite and destination to many a tourist, whether they call NASA an office or an intellectual amusement park.

The Clear Lake area, or as some call it, the Bay Area, is made up of parts of both Galveston and Harris County. The network of parts of Houston and Pasadena, as well as Clear Lake City, Clear Lake Shores, El Lago, Kemah, League City, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Taylor Lake Village and Webster combines to form this lakeside suburb. Many reside in Clear Lake for the outstanding recreational boating; while for many others, it’s the close proximity to NASA. Formerly an economy based on farming, cattle raising and fishing, and then oil with the Humble Oil Co., the economy of Clear Lake has flourished with the inclusion of NASA. In 1961, the Clear Lake area became home to the Manned Spacecraft Center, later renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center – thus, labeling Houston “Space City, USA.” Houston was the first word spoken from the moon, and the families of engineers and astronauts that have flocked to the Clear Lake area since the early ’60s have transformed it into a bustling destination to inhabit and visit. Many small- and medium-size companies have sprung up to support the population of the area and the thriving tourist industry.

The economy of the Clear Lake area is supported largely by the technology industry. The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership cites aerospace, biotech and chemicals and plastics as some of the top large company employers, as well as independent school districts of the area. After all, those engineers have children that need to be molded into our future scientists and astronauts.

Speaking of education, the public school system in the Clear Lake area is ideal. The children of Clear Lake regularly score above average on the SAT with a median score of 1061, and more than 90 percent of the students enrolled in the public school system graduate. There are several math and science programs set up within the area to encourage focused study for students from elementary through high school, many of these programs dealing with the omnipresent NASA down the street.

In addition to primary studies, Clear Lake offers many technical schools and community colleges in the area, including the College of the Mainland and the San Jacinto College District. The area is also home to University of Houston-Clear Lake, a bachelor’s degree-granting institution that also offers masters degrees in more than 40 fields of study.

With a multitude of waterside views, piers and boat docks, the Clear Lake area is a great mix of master-planned communities and seaside retreats. Builders and developers have masterfully kept up with the demands of middle-class and upper middle-class home buyers, transforming parts of the Clear Lake area into a beautiful, gated, cul-de-sac-filled suburb. In addition to this, many of the smaller communities of the Clear Lake area have kept their seaside charm and fisherman’s mentality. With a comparable price-per-square-foot to other Houston suburbs, many residents have moved here happily and then commuted into the landlocked city of Houston.

Recreational boating here is a huge draw for residents and visitors alike. With lakes, creeks, a channel, bayou and bay traversing the area, Clear Lake is the perfect place for those looking for their sea legs. From sailboats to yachts to charter fishing boats, the Clear Lake area has the water covered. In fact, the area is the third largest recreational boating center in the United States because of its 7,700 available boat slips. There are a number of restaurants and resorts that allow boat people to tie up to their docks and enjoy their outdoor dining and hospitality. Boat tours are available of the area, or simply sit outside on the Kemah Boardwalk and enjoy the passing boats on the channel.

Once a small cluster of restaurants for boaters to stop and eat when cruising through, Kemah is now a tourist destination. In 1997, Tilman Fertitta, owner of Landry’s Seafood Inc., acquired the Kemah Boardwalk, and by 1999 and the boardwalk’s grand opening, he had transformed the sleepy area into a bustling attraction. Now the Kemah Boardwalk is home to a number of restaurants and shops, as well as a Ferris wheel, kiddie train and boardwalk-style games and rides. The Boardwalk Inn, a 52-room boutique hotel, offers rooms in the middle of the action. Families make Kemah a day-trip getaway or part of a complete vacation.

The Armand Bayou Nature Center is a nature preserve that houses more than 370 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. As a stop on the Central Flyway, the largest migratory bird route in North America, many visit the Armand Bayou Nature Center to view the multitudes of birds on their way through. With family activities, educational programs, eco adventures and camps, as well as the chance to observe animals in the wild, the center has become not only important to wildlife, but a popular destination for people as well.

For more information about the Clear Lake area, call the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce at (281) 488-7676 or visit or call the Bay Area Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 844-LAKE or visit H

Hiatus: Scottsdale, AZ

May 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Blogs, Edit, Travel Blog

If the last time you watched the sun rise you were stumbling back to your condo in Mexico during spring break, it’s been way too long. As the sun rises over the outline of mountains, turning from a bright yellow and red spotlight into a plethora of color filling the sky, a 6:30 a.m. breakfast at the CopperWynd Resort and Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. is the perfect place to enjoy this early-morning experience.

Nestled among the beautiful Arizona rocks sits this boutique hotel where every customer counts and the service is top-rate. Championship golf and tennis will fill your days while your nights are filled with the sumptuous treats from Alchemy, one of Scottsdale’s most romantic restaurants. The accommodations at CopperWynd are quaint with a rustic feeling, a fireplace in each room and a large, luxurious bathroom. You’re free to hike the perimeter of the grounds and work leg muscles you forgot you had or head downstairs to the spa for a steam, Jacuzzi and massage.

There really is no reason to leave this resort; but if you do, head for Old Town Scottsdale, an area filled with art galleries, shops and fun restaurants. The Cowboy Ciao is the perfect mixture of upscale eatery and cantina. The margaritas are a treat made with fresh fruit juices and served on the rocks. The sea bass selection is huge and juicy with fresh mango chutney that complements the margaritas perfectly. H

CopperWynd Resort and Club
(480) 333-1846
Cowboy Ciao
(480) 946-3111
Different Point of View
(602) 866-6350

Insurance Professionals

May 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Edit

Home Plates

May 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Edit

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Wondering what Roger Clemens craves for a midnight snack? Dying to know Craig Biggio’s favorite restaurant? Well, wonder no more. The Astros’ Wives have gotten together to share their husbands’ favorite recipes, including some fun facts about the players. Co-chairs of this project, Irene Hunsicker, Christi Ensberg and Jennifer Everett, have been gathering and testing recipes since last August. This project, however, also serves to support a much more serious cause which has personally affected the Astros family.

“I’m a four-year survivor of uterine cancer,” says Irene Hunsicker, wife of Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker. While researching treatment alternatives to this cancer, the Hunsickers discovered that uterine cancer was not very heavily researched or funded. “We decided that we’d like to raise money for uterine cancer; and we liked the idea of a cookbook, since we hadn’t done one in 12 years,” says Irene. This grassroots project aims to raise awareness of uterine cancer.

Some lucky fans have already tasted some of the recipes. Andy Pettitte’s no-bake cookies were served at Fan Fest, and Aramark served Debbie Clemens’ rigatoni at their opening luncheon. Stepping up to the plate, two corporate sponsors, Everyones Internet and Academy Sports and Outdoors, underwrote all costs of the book, ensuring all proceeds from the sale will benefit the MD Anderson Uterine Cancer Research Program.

The cookbooks are $20 including tax and are available at area Academy stores and at the ballpark.

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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

May 1, 2004 by  
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Would you like your home to have a waterfront view? Just wait until the next big rain; it;ll probably happen.

A wise man once said, “Houston is a nice town – at low tide.” Yes, to be perfectly honest, we do sometimes have flooding problems, like after a heavy dew. So former Mayor Lee Brown had an idea: Each household would pay an extra $3.75 a month drainage fee to cover the cost of alleviating our flooding. The idea was met with such strong opposition that it died. A couple of months later, the new Mayor Bill White had an idea to alleviate our flooding: We would all pay an average of 9 percent more a month on our water and sewer bills, which breaks down to about $4 more a month per household. Everyone loved the plan. Go figure.

At least we are finally doing something about this problem, and it’s about time. Houston is the only city where building inspectors use glass-bottom boats, the animals in the zoo line up two by two at the hint of a thunderstorm, and our TV weathercasters have a 20-percent chance of rowing to work. Where else do city buses have periscopes?

To aid us in our quest for dry land, new federal maps are producing exact measurements to show precisely which parts of the county will be flooded during a storm. These new maps are the result of advanced scientific technology including laser beams from airplanes and, of course, dipsticks. To determine whether your home or office needs to bring in a supply of sandbags and whether you need to unload your property without telling the unsuspecting prospective buyer about your submergible information, go online to

The new flood program will require developers to put in retention ponds to hold excess rainfall. Actually, we already have some retention ponds. They’re called “the Katy Freeway,? “basements” and “the Texas Medical Center.” There will be new restrictions for building in the 100-year flood plain. The “100-year flood plain” means that one year in every 100 it doesn’t flood. If someone is stupid enough to build in the flood plain even after checking the new maps, then federal flood insurance is required. This way, the owner of the inundated property can do as many others in Houston have done: about every three years receive a big payout for flood damage. Hey, it beats working for a living.

When it comes to buying flood insurance, timing is everything because hurricane season starts June 1 when the Red Cross throws out the first doughnut. But we can’t wait for a hurricane to come up the Ship Channel before rushing out and buying flood insurance. There is a waiting period before the insurance kicks into effect – the waiting period usually ending Dec. 1 when hurricane season is over. Today in Harris County there are 103,657 flood insurance policies in effect while the city of Houston has 99,471 policies. Generally speaking, about 90 percent of the policies are for single-family dwellings, 5 percent are for nonresidential dwellings, and the remaining 5 percent are renters.

(Incidentally, carefully check the names for this season’s storms because last year Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said the names given to hurricanes are too “lily white” and she wanted a better representation of names reflecting other ethnic groups including African-Americans. Here comes Hurricane Sheila Jackson.)

Anyway, Houstonians know the importance of getting ready for a storm: buying flood insurance, programming the Coast Guard emergency rescue service into their speed dial and knowing that their car’s air bag can be used as a flotation device. We only have to recall Tropical Storm Allison in June of 2001. That’s when parts of Houston received almost 37 inches of rain, Tanglewood became beachfront property and West U looked like Venice without the gondolas. For days and nights the rain poured on Houston and we flooded, but no one could find the drain plug. Allison was the first named storm of the year and the earliest major storm to hit the upper Texas coast (June 5) since a Category 1 hurricane moved inland west of Galveston back in 1871 (June 3). Allison did some hurt: 20,000 houses damaged, 90,000 vehicles totally or partially damaged, 22 people killed and $5 billion in destruction. When all the bills are in, it might be the costliest tropical storm to ever hit the United States. (Remember, Allison was a mere tropical storm, not a hurricane. Its winds never got above 60 mph with gusts to 70 mph). After the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, paid 9,247 claims for $360,143,609 in Harris County and paid 10,577 claims for $493,921,740 in the city of Houston. Given what we know, $4 a month should be worth the cost. Otherwise, Venice anyone? H