Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival

March 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The second annual, Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival 2011: Wines From Around The World, officially begins April 14th. Pour into bliss this April and join us for a special springtime event that transforms Galveston Island’s Uptown Entertainment District into a food and wine lover’s paradise. With specialty food items, culinary events, sophisticated parties, and live musical entertainment, it is sure to be the event of the year. Enjoy wines from around the world paired with delicious local foods, and learn first-rate tips from popular chefs and renowned winemakers.

April 14
Chaîne Dinner Rudy & Paco’s

The Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival, 2011: Wines From Around The World will officially commence with a Chaîne dinner at the famous Rudy & Paco’s. This is an event for La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs™ members who will be lending Galveston their palettes and picking the festival’s Grand Champion wines.

April 15
Premium Wine Tasting and Gulf Seafood Showcase

The Premium Wine Tasting and Gulf Seafood Showcase will be making its debut. Located inside the beautiful Old Galveston Square Gallery in the heart of the uptown historic Strand District, this tasting will feature premium wines from over 20 vineyards around the world, with decadent gulf seafood hors d’oeuvres and exclusive art exhibits.

April 15
Wine Pairing Dinners at Galveston’s Favorite Restaurants

The successful restaurant and vineyard paired dinners from last year will return. Some of the participating this year are Luigi’s, The M&M, Bernardo’s at Hotel Galvez, Olympia Grill at Pier 21, Shearn’s at Moody Gardens, and 901 Postoffice! The Island’s finest restaurants will pair each course of epicurean perfection with a different wine from their chosen vineyard. More menus and Vineyards will be posted soon.

* Hotel Galvez & Spa Featuring Spanish Wines
* Shearn’s Restaurant Featuring Alexander Valley Wines
* 901 Postoffice Featuring Esprit Du Vin Wines
* Luigi’s Ristorante
* The M&M Restaurant
* Olympia Grill Pier 21 – Menu Coming Soon

April 16
The Grand Tasting In The Park

The Grand Tasting in Saengerfest Park is the highlight of the festival. Patrons will embark on a tasting trip through vineyards from all around the world. While getting their wine passports stamped revelers will be able to taste food from the finest restaurants on the island. The fantastic live music and the barrage of artisan exhibits along the park will complete this afternoon of indulgences. Advance Tickets to this event are $45.00 or $50.00 at the gate if available. Guests may also purchase an All Tasting Ticket for $110.00 that will include one ticket to The Grand Tasting In The Park and one ticket to The Premium Tasting and Gulf Seafood Showcase. All attendants of this event will be entered into a Build Your Own Cellar drawing, a bottle of each wine offered at the festival.

April 17
Wine & Champagne Brunches

The final day of the festival invites visitors and locals alike to brunches around the island at famed hotels and restaurants. You can’t go wrong with choices such as the Hotel Galvez, Moody Gardens, or the M&M. The brunches will be paired with wines and champagnes from the festival and will be the perfect last call for the weekend.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

Taha’a, Tahiti

March 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Taha’a, Tahiti

Few paradise-esque destinations match the intimate seclusion and lavish luxury of the island of Taha’a.

Located on its own little Polynesian islet, or motu, Le Taha’a Resort and Spa sits off the coast of Taha’a. A short flight from Moorea to Raiatea and a private water taxi ride take you to this extravagant resort. The grounds are exquisite—expertly manicured sand and tropical vegetation flourish. Top-of-the-line guestrooms, decadent restaurants, and extravagant bars pepper the picturesque landscape. The lobby resembles an outrigger with a large sail extending two stories. On the second level, you’ll find the bar—the central point between the two signature restaurants. The spa’s treatment rooms are little huts over looking an inland lagoon. Snorkel through the coral gardens to neighboring motus for an unparalleled adventure; just sitting back and enjoying the view in this Polynesian paradise is hard to beat.

If your ultimate Tahitian fantasy is an over-the-water experience, you’ll adore the striking water bungalows. Constructed of bamboo with thatched roofs overhead, the bungalows have tribal carvings etched into the woodwork and canoe-shaped bathtubs. Two glass panels let you watch the fish from inside the privacy of your bedroom. One large glass box spans the width of the queen size bed; another is next to the bathtub—both open for you to feed the fish. Each hut is strategically positioned so you cannot see any other man made structure. At least a hundred yards from shore the view consists of crystal-clear water, uninhabited motus, and the big island of Bora Bora. The spacious patio has lounge chairs and a little outdoor hut, or fare pote to take in the view.

This distinctive part of Tahiti is best explored through an island tour. Pearl farms, vanilla plantations, and rainforests are hidden throughout the island. Head out on the muddy, slippery roads in a four-wheel drive, open-air tour truck decked out in flowers.

Dine at Chez Louise for an unexpected culinary indulgence. You may be the only customers in the small restaurant. But owner Louise, her husband, brother, and 22-year old son—none of whom speak English—will take care of your every need. When you ask for a wine list; a bottle of white wine will appear. You won’t receive a menu, but the rich aroma of delicious food will overwhelm your senses. Soon over-flowing platters of lobster, shrimp, tuna steaks, slaw with raw tuna, rice, and bread are on the table. You’ll leave the restaurant contented by delectable fresh seafood and smiling at your discovery of a rare lost gem.

For an exceptional romantic destination visit Taha’a for an island escape of uninterrupted blissfulness.



Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa

(689) 60 84 00


Vaipoe Tour

(689) 65 60 83

-Laurette Veres
photo: Tom Flynn

The Ties That Bind

March 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE CLOSET – Every decade we all need to go through our closet and clean out the unused stuff. My rule of thumb (and waist) is that if I haven’t worn something in the last 10 years I probably won’t wear it in the next 10, so out it goes — to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or the next horde of refugees from Louisiana.

Take this sweat shirt reading “Fred Thompson in ’08.” It goes. And my T-shirt, “Disco Rules!” But not this baby — polyester leisure suits may come back. The same with my Nehru jacket. How about spats? Their days are probably gone, and I only have one, anyway. My Marine dress blues? The way things are going, the Pentagon may get desperate. Levis with holes in them are all the rage, but I’m not sure if this includes buckshot.

Now here is the worst part: neckties. Bow ties, string ties and just regular ties, some with soup stains. Ties are going out of style in many workplaces. Between hungover Mondays, hump-day Wednesdays and casual Fridays, bosses are lucky to get their employees in shoes, much less ties. In the Texas summer heat, ties are seen less and less. Fancy restaurants with a clothing code are bending to tie-less male clients.

Elderly judges have even come around. They once insisted that male lawyers showing up in court must wear dark suits, white shirts and bland ties, looking appropriately drab and nothing fancy — remember “My Cousin Vinny.” The women in court were prohibited from wearing pants suits. Of course, there was no way of knowing what the judges were wearing under their robes, maybe nothing.

Bermuda shorts are following the same path of acceptance in Texas. By April, note in any store, family restaurant or police line-up, Bermudas and sandals are de rigueur (French for white trash). It was not always this way. My mother gave my father  Bermudas shorts several years ago, but wouldn’t let him wear them out of the house. Once in high school, as a joke, a few friends and I showed up in Bermuda shorts and were sent home to change. Last month I spoke at that self-same high school. Both boys and girls were wearing shorts.

The Brits, being more clothes-conscious than the colonials — including those cutting-edge white wigs — have long worn shorts, especially in the military. World War II newsreels of North Africa showed all the Brit soldiers wearing shorts, but the Americans were trudging across the hot dunes in complete battle rattle. Even today on the sweltering sun-stroked plains of Iraq and Afghanistan our troops are dressed for the Yukon. Can’t we issue them Miami shorts and Hawaiian shirts?

In tie-land, Americans are so behind the times. Notice photos of cabinet meetings in, say, Mexico or Israel or the Philippines. All those leaders are sitting around a long table covered with the obligatory flowers, pitchers and glasses of water, scattered papers, and – please note — none of the men is wearing a tie. Women like a man in a tie. Of course, women also like a man in a tux. It is payback for childbirth.

My own collection of the ties that bind include these from Hermes, each costing more than my first car. Next is a nice number with Santas and Christmas trees. I get to wear it once a year. This one is tied in a noose. How was I to know the Libyan–American League no longer celebrated Moammar Gadhafi’s birthday? Here is my stable of narrow ties. If “Mad Men” sets a fashion trend, I’m ahead of the curve. The old school tie, which didn’t go well at my Muffle Repair & Manicure Tech 10th reunion. The same with my regimental tie – they still remember the mutiny. This is an extremely wide tie. Oh, it’s actually a bib. Never mind.

It is trendy on TV that guests not wear ties. They all have open dress shirts clearly showing that they came to the interview wearing a tie and were told to take it off before show time. Does anyone on TV but Tucker Carlson still wear a bow tie? Have you ever seen a priest in a tie? No, they take their lead from the Pope, who sets the fashion pace and goes tieless.

Incidentally, do you know how to tie a Windsor knot, or a Half Windsor knot? Then there is the Pratt knot and the Dimple. Can you tie a four-in-hand or a bow tie? Neither can I, so I prefer to wear turtle necks, although they do get a little gamey after a week, depending on the turtle.

Ties have their place in history. In 1548, King Clarence the Impotent decreed that “everyone muss tithe.” King Clarence, obviously the last of his dynasty, had a bad lisp, so all his subjects assumed he meant they must wear ties. This situation lasted until 1549 when the king’s brother, Duke Doofuss the Incompetent, pulled off a coup and sent Clarence (or “Clarenth,” as he called himself) to “the thouth thide of thivilithathun.” Apparently the speech impediment was a family trait.

Around 1900, Texans strolled the Galveston beaches in the heat and humidity of summer. Photos show the women wearing dresses that go from neck to deck. The men are wearing white linen suits, starched collars and – of course — ties. They all look miserable. Oxford Don William Archibald Spooner often sang, “The Ties of Exes Are Upon You.” The students thought he was referring to the neckwear of UT alumni until it was pointed out that Prof. Spooner created spoonerisms. Railroads have ties. Bangkok has Thais. The NFL used to have ties, but now use some implement to break them, which is fine with me.

But neckties are useless — the appendix of apparel. A wise person (me) once said, “A man without a necktie is like a gift box without a ribbon.” Sometimes I’m wrong.


Ashby is knotted at






Barcelona: An Architectural Paradise…

March 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Even for the Architecturally Challenged Tourist

by Sheryl Fairchild & Sue-Ella Mueller

Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and the capital of the Catalonia region, is a Mediterranean coastal town encircled by beautiful beaches and lush mountain tops. For footballers, or rather soccer enthusiasts, it is best known as the home of one of the top European teams, FC Barcelona. The cosmopolitan city boasts of its incredible restaurants, shopping, tapas bars and nightlife. However, without a doubt, this is a city for the lovers of design, engineering, building and art deco; it is an architectural paradise.

Indisputably, the 1992 Summer Olympics breathed life back into this town which can be traced back to more than 2000 years. The original glory to some of Barcelona’s oldest and most famous buildings including several built in medieval times was restored as facades were scrubbed and renovated. Equally important were the buildings, facilities and stadiums needed to be constructed for the many venues. Planners and designers were careful to maintain the architectural integrity of the city. Together, the old and the new structures of the City of Barcelona encompass a wealth of eye pleasing sights that envelopes tourists into the deep culture and traditions of the community.

Admittedly, I am not well-versed on the history of architectural styles or the artistic relevance of structural design. But even I was blown away by the pure majesty of La Sagrada Familia, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Barcelona. The massive Catholic church has been undergoing construction since its inception in 1882 and not expected to be completed until sometime in the first third of the 21st century. Built entirely from privately donated funds, La Sagrada Familia represents the work of more than 40 years of renowned architect Antoni Gaudi.

Hovering above the church, there are currently eight spires or bell towers with ten more yet to be built, representing the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, the tallest spire, Jesus Christ. The artistry created by Gaudi in the spires, the moldings, the archways, but especially in his depiction of the Nativity façade truly left me breathless. The joy in Gaudi’s stone-carved faces at the birth of Christ was as moving and emotional to me as the anguish and pain depicted in the second façade, Passion. A third façade, Glory, is currently under construction and, for me, will be worth a trip back to see.

Tearing our group away from La Sagrada Familia was not an easy undertaking and was only done so amidst promises of seeing other works of Gaudi’s (a name I had never heard of before coming to Barcelona, but now the essence for my awe of the city). Among my favorite stops along the Gaudi tour was the Park Guell. There, we were greeted by a colorfully-tiled, water-breathing dragon guarding the entrance to this amazing park. From the gatehouse, which to me resembled a Dr. Seuss image come to life, to the Salon of the Hundred Columns (there are really only 84) seemingly growing straight up from the ground, and finally to the curved, mosaic-tiled benches allowing for the perfect view of the entire city of Barcelona, this is worth the effort that is needed to walk the many miles of the park. Filled with brilliantly colored tiles throughout, the park is a feast for the eyes.

Working my way towards becoming an art aficionado, I made the jump from Gaudi to Picasso quite easily. Pablo Picasso, while not a Barcelonian native, spent a portion of his youth here and returned later, splitting time living in Barcelona and Paris during his adult life. His love of Barcelona was evident in his desire to establish his art museum here, a dream which was fulfilled after his death by his secretary Jaume Sabartes and with donations of his work by his widow, Jacqueline Roque. Walking among his creations, including work from his Blue and Rose periods, instead of just seeing them in a book, and reading the exhibit on his personal life, I felt as if I had gotten a glimpse inside the mind of the famous Picasso. There is something to be said for looking at art through your own eyes instead of that of a photographer’s.

The Gothic tour of Barcelona was another one of my favorite events for this trip. Many of the buildings along the narrow streets of this area are from medieval times. With a mind geared toward historical fiction, it was easy for me to step back in time among the flying buttresses of the Gothic churches and the ornamental facades of the stone buildings that now house tapas bars and quaint cafes. The cobbled roads were just one more escape path for me from modern reality to the days of the Counts of Barcelona.

Hoping back in to the future, our group garnered a ride in a TRIXI, a bicycle cab and popular form of transportation, and made our way along the beach fronts to prime shopping on the Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a pedestrian friendly avenue and is probably the most famous boulevard in Barcelona. The outdoor vendors and supermarkets leave your mouth watering for a taste of the local culture. Beware though, while we were not hit, we heard many a tale of pick pockets looking for prime targets among the many tourists.

As night descended upon the ancient city, we were drawn to the beautiful light show of the magic fountain. As a traveler, a lighted fountain with dramatic water effects is not a new spectacle, but the sheer size of this fountain along with the fact that I am a kid at heart, made this an enjoyable way to pass a few hours before heading off to one of the many fabulous restaurants of Barcelona.

Among our many other adventures in this Mediterranean metropolis were visits to the Olympic stadium, the National Art Gallery of Catalunya, Passeo del Born, Santa Maria del Mar Church, Santa Caterina Market, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, Casa Mila and La Pedrera. Finally, over-dosed on architecture, art and Barcelona history, we made our way to one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Basking on the golden sand, bathing in the minimal surf and soaking up the perfect temperature, I knew then and there why this was the beloved city of both Gaudi and Picasso. Barcelona is a Spanish treasure whose worth can only be known through experience.

30 Get Fit Tips

March 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

Maintain a Healthy & Active Lifestyle

by Amanda Altman

  1. Be completely honest with yourself when keeping a food journal or exercise log.
  2. Pack goji berries for a snack boost that won’t spike blood sugar.
  3. Sneak in “bonus” exercise sessions. Do squats and bicep-curl cans of soup when waiting for water to boil. Do five push-ups during TV commercials. At your desk, do Oblique Twists in your chair.
  4. Make your own electrolyte water by adding 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1/3 teaspoon of salt to each liter of water. (Yep, that’s all it is!)
  5. Beat exercise ennui by doing three, 20-minute segments on different cardio machines instead of 60 minutes on just one. In between, lift a few sets.
  6. Remind yourself that exercise like biking, hiking and walking aren’t just means to an end. Immerse all your senses in the beauty of nature.
  7. Remember that a healthy body is more than skin-deep. Thin isn’t fit. You can be fit and carry a few extra pounds.
  8. Avoid H20 boredom by adding raspberry-tea drops to sparkling water or cucumber slices to still water.
  9. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, remembering to drink even before you feel thirsty.
  10. Fidget! Chew sugarless gum, tap your foot or squeeze a stress ball while reading to burn calories.
  11. Sit down to meals without your laptop, TV or newspaper. You’ll pay more attention to how much you’re eating (and how delicious your food tastes).
  12. Add a packet of Emergen-C to your water bottle for a tasty serving of vitamins B and C.
  13. Keep an extra workout outfit in your car or office so you’ll have everything for an impromptu session.
  14. Sleep! Aim for eight hours a night. You’ll think more clearly and work out harder—plus, it’ll be easier to lose weight!
  15. Dial back the drinking. Alcohol is a six-pack killer: Its sugar is stored in the body as fat.
  16. Limit intake of caffeinated drinks to one a day to avoid dehydration.
  17. Remember the RICE rule for injuries: rest, ice, compress, elevate.
  18. Eat whole, nutritious meals every day. Stuff yourself with junk and you’ll have junk in the trunk.
  19. Find classes conveniently located near your home or office where you can build relationships and stay motivated. Camaraderie is key in a class setting.
  20. Prevent muscle soreness with 10 minutes of postworkout stretching, holding each stretch for at least 20 seconds.
  21. Reprogram how you think about exercise. Eliminate the word work; tell yourself that you’re doing something very good for yourself.
  22. Soak up 20 minutes of sunlight and fresh air every day to take in essential Vitamin D and improve your mood.
  23. Never skip breakfast! It’s the meal that breaks the overnight fast and awakens your metabolism for the day.
  24. Burn fat and condition your heart and lungs with interval training (elevating your heart rate for short bursts of time). Try walking up a hill quickly and then strolling down.
  25. Take out a nutritional “insurance policy” by taking a good daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Can’t bear the thought of swallowing any more pills? Ask your natural-foods vitamin-counter folks to recommend a good liquid version.
  26. Take computer breaks every hour: roll your shoulders up, back and down, and bend your fingers back from the tips and forward from the knuckles to reduce repetitive stress injuries.
  27. Rely on these easy, healthy cooking methods: baking, steaming, blanching, stir-frying, sauteing and poaching.
  28. Go a little nuts. For breakfast, sprinkle almond slices on yogurt and sweeten it with agave syrup. Sprinkle pine nuts over asparagus or add ground flaxseeds to pretty much everything.
  29. Talk to yourself like you’re your own best friend. Do you really want that bag of chips or third slice of pizza? Take as good care of you, as you do everyone else.
  30. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love. Have a treat every other day and train yourself to savor every bite.

Foul Play News, Don’t You Snooze, Car Wrecks, Fires, Plus Sex and Booze

March 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Why is our 10 o’clock TV news so bad?

Local TV’s nightly newscasts begin with “Good evening,” then proceed to tell you why it isn’t, someone once observed. Here in Houston, the 10 o’clock news is filled with death, destruction, convenience store stick-ups and car wrecks. Indeed, if you just arrived in town and turned on the TV, you probably wouldn’t unpack.

Houston needs a good, encompassing 10 o’clock TV news program because most people are still stuck in traffic during the 6 o’clock broadcast. We need information on what’s happening everywhere — Austin, Washington, Kabul — but we are forced to watch shallow, quick-and-splashy headlines (graphics are cheaper than journalists).

Our 10 o’clock news should reflect the interest of most Houstonians. Tonight, no kidding, the lead on KPRC is that River died. River is a dog that mysteriously went to doggie heaven at a PetSmart. When Peter Marzio died, the long-time and well-respected director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, there wasn’t even a mention in the local news show I was watching. Marzio got a lengthy obit with a photo in The New York Times. But on TV news, we see only stories about Bulls Eye the Wonder Pigeon and, “Is there poison in your celery?” (The answer is no.) In fact, our news stations are so out of touch, you rarely see the lead story on the 10 pm news as the lead story in the next morning’s newspaper.

Actually, much of our local TV news comes directly from that morning’s Houston Chronicle and other community papers, which are occasionally credited. Years ago, I walked into KPRC, and news director Ray Miller – a legend in the biz – was neatly clipping out stories from the Chronicle and The Houston Post (I said that this was years ago) and handing them out to reporters with the order: “Follow up.”

This piggyback syndrome is even more prevalent on the national scene. If you read this morning’s New York Times you already know what’s going to be on the 5:30 network news. Don’t take my word for it. “It’s infuriating. If it wasn’t for The New York Times, network news would have to shut down.” — Andy Rooney, CBS writer and news producer for almost 50 years.

In an industry of turnovers, the Houston TV scene is different — we like familiar faces. Remember Ron Stone and Steve Smith? They were around for decades. Today, KPRC’s Bill Balleza (a former Marine sniper in Vietnam) has been on since 1980 and Dave Ward has been the face of KTRK, Channel 13, for 44 years. “As best as anyone can determine, I’ve been doing the same news show on the same station longer than anyone in the history of American television,” Ward once told me. The new kid on the screen is a nice looking guy with a deep voice; Greg Hurst has been on Channel 11 for 14 years. Hurst came to us via NYC, but like Balleza and Ward, is a native Texan. The three musketeers have competent co-anchors — Dominique Sachse, Gina Gaston and Len Cannon – but they are not the voice of the stations.

I bet they inwardly grimace as they report on twin snowflakes, but Houstonians should be proud to have good, professional journalists anchoring our nightly news. More specifically, I admire them because:

They don’t smack. Have you ever seen newscasters smack? Watch ABC’s Diane Sawyer; she’s the worst. When cameras focus back on her, after feature stories or commercial breaks, she begins with a loud smack. Jeffrey Brown on PBS is almost as bad. It’s a most annoying distraction. Thank goodness Houston’s professional anchormen spare us from “Smack Attacks” and “Smack Downs.”

A problem here is that on Channels 2 and 11, anchors often stand, Ward often doesn’t. Why do so many anchors stand while delivering the news? Can’t they afford a chair? Walter Cronkite never stood while giving us the inside skinny; neither did Edward R. Murrow. Today Brian Williams often stands as does Wolfe Blitzer; Diane Sawyer sits, but she smacks.

The men don’t wear ties. I suspect consultants told the anchors to stand, and believe the same consultants discourage wearing ties – except for sports segments. It’s clear many guests and anchors arrived on set wearing a coat, dress shirt and tie, and were told to go on stage tieless. Maybe the consultants think an open collar makes them appear relaxed. No, it makes them look like they were told to take off their ties.

Tonight, I’m watching the 10 o’clock local news, but I’m not getting the news. I am eavesdropping on a private conversation among beautiful people. I get annoyed when anchors giggle, laugh and toss witticisms back and forth. It’s happy talk, a time killer some consultant came up with that stuck around like Swine Flu. OK, a light look at light news is fine, but this forced, cheery give-and-take is a needless distraction from in-depth reporting and 30-second sound bites. Can you imagine Huntley and Brinkley tossing bon mots? It’s more than happy talk that irritates me.

If it bleeds, it leads. A Houston convenience store owner was shot by two gunmen; the crime is taped by the surveillance camera. As grainy video shows two alleged perpetrators entering the store our anchors say, “If you have any information as to the identity of these two, CrimeSlime4 is offering….” The two guys in baseball caps, putty noses and dark glasses could be my brothers as far as I can tell.

My biggest irritation is the lack of real news. Where are the probing inquiries into criminal doings at City Hall? The lengthy investigations of HISD’s corporal punishment policies (thumb screws and iron maidens). Does anyone cover stories which require time, talent and money? It seems mother corporations don’t like shelling out paychecks to reporters who take time to dig, interview and research. Maybe they’re worried reporters won’t come back with a story. Or, in today’s superficial environment, maybe they don’t.

Four More Irritating Things About the News

  1. Pointlessly “being on the scene.” A reporter stands in a parking lot in the dark—remember it’s after 10 pm—reading from notes about an unfortunate gun shot victim who is inside the hospital behind. Actually, that building could be a BP office. This meaningless, live shot also occurs after court cases that ended earlier in the day. Seven hours later some lonely reporter is telling us about the verdict while standing in front of a vacant and locked courthouse.
  2. They talk in silly segues. “There was a near-hit plane crash at Hobby today, but no one of importance was killed. And speaking of importance, how important is your mother? We’ll have that story tomorrow night.” “Speaking of weather, we wonder whether the Rockets can….”
  3. Sensationalized weather reports. A joy of watching Houston’s local news is weather people (some are card-carrying meteorologists, most aren’t) going ape at the slightest hint of a hurricane. Potential hurricanes make weather (and the weatherman, weatherwoman, weatherperson, weather map) the lead story, “Stay tuned for further devastating developments.” Such sensationalism scares the bejezus out of us, so we stay tuned. If a storm does actually make it here, the weatherperson gets to stand in the wind and driving rain as the storm rolls ashore and warn us not to stand in the wind and driving rain.

    Many of these reporters suffer from “I’d Rather Be a National Anchor” syndrome. Dan Rather was a TV reporter on KHOU in September of 1961. He reported live from the Galveston Seawall as Hurricane Carla approached. CBS executives were so impressed, they hired him. Since then, every TV journalist, weatherperson or not, strives to be on national TV, maybe even land a network anchor, by playing the sturm und drang card while standing in a storm.

  4. Sports speak. “Today the Killer Bees stung the Pin Stripers 5-zip. In pro hoops, the Great Wall may be going to La-La Land and SloMoJo could turn up the Heat. Meantime, among the leatherheads, America’s Team is switching to a 3-4 Red Dog defense while the Wrecking Crew has signed Marvelous Marv to dance with Norm the Arm.” Jeeze Louise! Can anybody decode that?

Today’s many stations have freelancers who prowl the nitty-gritty streets at night while listening to fire and police monitors and react to reports of burning chicken coops, or perhaps crime scenes with dead bodies barricaded by yellow police tape in a cantina parking lot. Sometimes there are overturned 18-wheelers spewing toxic fumes. Or even better, burning chicken coops containing dead bodies set ablaze when an 18-wheeler overturned and spilled toxic fumes. The trifecta! Oh, and don’t forget meaningless aerial shots from the station’s TransJamCamBam helicopter showing little figures standing around cop cars.

We might better appreciate our local stations if we look at how they got here. There are several stations in town, but let’s stick to the majors. KPRC first broadcast on January 1, 1949, as KLEE-TV. The station was owned by hotelier W. Albert Lee. KLEE was the first television station in Houston and 12th in the entire nation. For four years, it was the only TV station in town.

In 1950, KLEE-TV was purchased by the Hobby family, owners of The Houston Post, who changed the call letters to match their radio station, KPRC (Kotton Port, Rail Center). KPRC hired Houston’s first female TV reporter. She seemed like, and was, a nice UT Pi Phi. She is now U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Channel 2 is owned by the Washington Post, and is the local NBC affiliate, but Comcast is trying to buy the network, so some changes may be coming.

KHOU, Channel 11, the local CBS affiliate, started out in 1953 in Galveston as KGUL (the GUL standing for either seagull or Gulf of Mexico, take your pick). The station went through a number of owners including actor Jimmy Stewart. In 1959, KGUL was moved to Houston and became KHOU (K-HOUston). Today it is owned by Belo of Dallas, whose main property is the Dallas Morning News. In 1998, it was the first station to sign on with a high-definition signal. Channel 11 was the launching pad for Dan Rather along with Linda Ellerbee, Jessica Savitch and sportscasters Jim Nantz and Ron Franklin (Ron was fired by ESPN in January).

KTRK, Channel 13, the ABC affiliate, is usually the highest rated local news show. Their consumer watchdog, the late Marvin Zindler, broke a story that became the basis for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Not many local news programs can say their work inspired Broadway and Hollywood. KTRK has also been through many owners including the Houston Chronicle, and for years it called itself “The Houston Chronicle Station.” KTRK was a one-letter variation of the paper’s radio station, KTRH. Today Channel 13 is owned by ABC/Disney which is based in Burbank, CA.

Channel 26 KRIV (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News), began in 1971 as KVRL, and since then has changed ownership and call letters numerous times. From 1975 to 1978 it was KDOG, and its slogan was, “KDOG, Where Every Dog Has His Day.” This station struck fear into Houston with its nightly panic attack, “City Under Siege.” Reeks of professional journalism, doesn’t it? Don’t unpack.

Channel 39, now called CW which is also KIAH, is owned by the (Chicago) Tribune Co., which is in bankruptcy. A while back, the parent company announced the creation of a new local news format in which there would be no on-air anchors and few live reports. The newscasts would rely on narration over a stream of clips, which would require fewer bodies to produce. Unfortunately, the guy who thought of this and was to implement it was fired after a scathing magazine article about his boorishness, so who knows what will happen? Both Channel 26 and 39 give Houston something it needs: their late news runs at 9 p.m. That’s a great help to those who have the dawn shift at the refinery.

Our local PBS station, KUHT, was the very first PBS station in the nation. The station threw out its first tote bag in 1953. And they say Texans ain’t got no couth. The station is owned by the UH System and is housed on the UH campus. My wife and I like to watch the PBS NewsHour each weeknight, especially the left-vs-right opinions of Shields and Brooks. Unlike their shouting, interrupting counterparts on Fox News, this duo gives out knowledgeable and calm opinions, usually on Fridays. Because we watch KUHT, we give during its weekly fund drive, sometimes anonymously since once you get on the station’s donors’ list, you get hit up constantly. KUHT spends more money trying to get more money from me than I give.

Currently, laziness and lack of money are contributing to shallow news coverage. The nation is in an economic decline with massive cutbacks, so it is ridiculous to think the vast wasteland should be any different, but some station owners never spent much in the first place. This brings us to ownership. Notice Houston’s major TV outlets are owned by absentee landlords. Think of these stations as giant vacuum cleaners sucking money from Houston to a pipeline ending elsewhere, just like the Chronicle’s profits go to the Hearst family members wherever they are, but not here.
We can watch about 500 TV channels via cable. If I wish to pay for them all, I would have a choice of nine HBO channels, another nine Showtime, plus channels dealing with food, golf, tennis and game shows, Penthouse, Playboy and Sexsee. There are 44 in Spanish (oops, make that 45 – KNWS just became KYAZ broadcasting Azteca America). Others speak Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, East Indian, Arabic, French and/or Italian. Four more are “South Asian.” We do have a choice of what we watch. I am a news addict, so I choose news.

Lynn Ashby stands and delivers at


March 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

Our sincere apologies to Rudy Avelar. In the winter issue of H Texas, a quote from Mr. Lastname was printed incorrectly. On the subject of customer service, Mr. Avelar said, “‘No’ doesn’t exist. ‘Can’t be done,’ are words and phrases never uttered by me. ‘Let me see who can help you’ is as bad as it gets. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness.” The corrected version of the story is below.

by Fran Fawcett Peterson

College football and opera don’t appear to have much in common. However, they both are spectacles, usually grand spectacles! Rudy Avelar is an avid fan of both.

Avelar is Houston Grand Opera’s prince- he makes things happen. After 33 years at Houston Grand Opera (HGO) he has garnered worldwide recognition among opera aficionados, not only because of his knowledge and enthusiasm for opera, but how his extraordinary attention to patron services makes each and every HGO donor and patron feel like royalty.

The position of Director of Development and Patron Services was created for Rudy in 1986 when he was former Executive Director David Gockley’s assistant. HGO’s new General Director, Anthony Freud, knows what a gem they have in Rudy. It’s no secret arts and opera companies throughout the country have tried to steal him. Fortunately, Rudy is happy here.

Rudy does whatever he can to make sure HGO’s patrons feel appreciated, comfortable, celebrated.

“Our donors have enough stress in their lives without having to worry about their opera tickets,” he says.

Be it changing the seats, the date, finding extra seats, getting tickets in Milan, Vienna, Paris or wherever in the world the HGO patron wants to go – Rudy will make it happen.

“‘No’ doesn’t exist. ‘Can’t be done,’ are words and phrases never uttered by me. ‘Let me see who can help you’ is as bad as it gets. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness,” Rudy tells me in his trademark bow tie over turtle soup at the new Brennan’s.

Rudy knows patron services from the ground-up. His HGO career began in the ticket center in 1977. Under Gockley’s tutelage, he learned the fine details. When the opera season begins, Rudy’s job is 24-7 by his own choice. He views the job as a sort of concierge service. Indeed, you will see him at the valet station helping to greet patrons and solving last minute glitches. If there is an HGO breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner or after performance party – Rudy is at the door. If there is a problem he solves it quickly and effortlessly; the patron may never know there was a problem in the first place.

It is a mystery how Rudy finds time to travel to college football games during opera season. But one doesn’t get to be a prince without the ability to make things happen. He says the most beautiful college football stadium is the University of Washington, “People arrive in boats!” Even so, their tailgating, or boatgating, can’t beat the sumptuous feasts of Ole Miss fans. Rudy also gives the University of Mississippi thumbs up for best dressed, and Auburn fans are the greatest.
Rudy knew he wanted opera to be part of his life after seeing Norma, his first opera in 1971. He began volunteering, became an employee and was honored in 2005 with the Masterson Award at an evening called Bravo! Rudy. Now Rudy is being honored again as he chairs the 2011 Houston Grand Opera Ball. Themed “My Fair Ladies,” it is a personal thank you to so many ladies who have helped him in his career and his life.

“It will honor all the ladies who have been my constant support and inspiration. Not just with HGO but from the Symphony, TUTS, the Ballet, MFA, all of them. It will be their night.”

Richard Flowers & Events will transform the Wortham foyer into a rain forest. Think parasols and lots of surprises. Be there for the April 9, 2011, white tie event catered by Jackson Hicks.

For more information email or call 713-546-0277.

Nation’s First Home Product Theme Park Set to Break Ground

March 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Slated to break ground March 30, 2011 on a 14-acre site on Interstate 45 North is MainStreet America® (MSA), a multi-million dollar new home and home product theme park. MSA is one of the most unique venues of its kind and the culmination of years of study and research by owners Michael and Barbara Feigin.

“MainStreet America® will be the only perpetual showcase of homes in the country,” says owner and CEO, Michael Feigin. “But it’s more than a showcase of new homes; it’s an educational, shopping and entertainment destination centered around the home.”

Twelve superbly appointed showcase homes along with a two-story, 44,000 square foot Guest Center will undergo construction throughout the coming months with a projected grand opening date of summer 2012. A wide range of architectural styles, interior décor and square footages will be represented by the group of showcase homes. Styles scheduled to be included are: Old World Mediterranean, Spanish Courtyard, French Hill Country, Coastal Plain, Greek Revival, Texas Hill Country, Contemporary Modern and Traditional.

Visitors to MainStreet America® will begin their experience at the Guest Center. Here, they will be greeted by an MSA Concierge who will provide them with a schedule of events along with directions to their location within the MSA complex. Housed within the complex will be a cooking demonstration studio, a custom home building office, a home remodeling center, mortgage financing services, an interior design studio, a specialty café and a childcare area. Visitors will be able to engage in a number of year-round activities including home product demonstrations, how-to workshops and home-buying seminars. They can even be a part of the Better Home Show – a Saturday call-in radio program that will be broadcast live from their studio located within the Guest Center.

The MSA park concept combines many new elements with several familiar ones. Guests will be able to take a self-guided tour throughout each showcase home to view, touch and experience interior and exterior building products. “One of the unique highlights of the tour is that each guest can access instant information on desired products in each showcase home through their use of our specially designed hand-held Technological Education Device (TED),” states Feigin. “TED can be described as online browsing merged with in-store shopping – taken to a whole new level.”

Utilizing RFID technology, TED will allow users to wave over a product’s RFID “hot spot” to initiate audio and/or visual feedback. “If you’re interested in a specific brick exterior, swimming pool accessory, surround sound system component, kitchen appliance, or even the radiant barrier found inside an attic – TED will access its brand name, list of features, provide buying information and create a virtual shopping list,” states Feigin.

Upon completion of the tour, guests will be able to download their virtual shopping list to their own personal device or email address. And for those wishing to purchase home furnishings such as a sofa, dining table or lamp, they can do that also. “Unlike traditional model home parks, just about everything in our showcase homes can be purchased onsite at MSA,” says Feigin.

MainStreet America® will be a destination the entire family can enjoy. The park will change with the seasons and feature activities such as: Christmas on MainStreet, with winter holiday lights and strolling carolers; a Fall Festival, providing a safe place for Halloween trick-or-treaters; Spring will boast flowers bring Easter egg hunts, and Summer nights will feature fireworks displays.

“Areas of the MSA park can also be rented for private functions, football block parties, corporate events, and any number of special occasions,” states Feigin. “We’ll have a continual rotation of home products, activities, and themes to ensure that guests will want to return to see what’s new on MainStreet.”

MSA is attracting some of the top brand name products within the building and remodeling industry. With the ability to interactively display their products in the showcase homes, many local and national companies are partnering with MSA for the chance to promote, demonstrate, test, and debut new offerings in a unique atmosphere.

A January 2011 report published by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington DC ranked 150 cities in a global study to determine the level of recovery from the recession. Houston landed at 15th in the United States and 61st in the world. In times of trying economic conditions, especially in the housing and retail industry, Houston has always stood resilient. Over the long term, steady job and housing growth in Houston helps the city to remain an entrepreneurial testing ground for new businesses of all shapes and sizes. That makes it perhaps a perfect locale for unveiling a new beacon of hope symbolic of the promise that the American dream is alive and well.

Michael Feigin’s positive outlook for the city is evident in his enthusiastic approach to MainStreet America®. “There’s no doubt Houston is leading the recovery in housing and job creation,” continues Feigin. “The role of MSA, within the recovery and in the future, will be to inspire people to move forward with their dreams.”

Spring Happy Hours at Houston Pavilions

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Spring Happy Hours at Houston Pavilions

Who Houston Pavilions and McCormick &Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant

What Spring Happy Hour Series

Where Houston Pavilions Center Courtyard

When 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday in April 2011

Why Come enjoy spring time Happy Hours on the patio with McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant on Friday nights in April starting April 1st and happening April 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th!

Celebrate spring weather with drink specials, great food, pretty people, DJ spinning, and lots of pretty weather.

Friday, April 1st: Happy Hour
Friday, April 8th: Happy Hour
Friday, April 15th: Happy Hour
Friday, April 22nd: Earth Day Celebration
Friday, April 29th: Lemonade Day Fundraiser- mixology event with lemonade and various liquors

9th Annual Ice Cream Sunday Carnival to Benefit the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


Here’s the Scoop! THE CENTER is thrilled to announce that plans are underway for the ninth annual “Ice Cream Sunday” Carnival. The event is being chaired by the dynamic duo Andrea Soper and Elizabeth Vail. This fun family carnival will be held on Sunday, May 1, 2011 from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00p.m. at Autrey Park located on the grounds of THE CENTER at 3550 West Dallas. Besides carnival rides, there will be a rock wall, moonwalk, petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, clowns and more. There will be an abundance of hotdogs, snow cones, and cookies. The grand finale, of course, is the decadent ice cream sundae bar with every topping you can imagine.

Proceeds from this event will benefit THE CENTER, a private not-for-profit agency, provides residential, vocational, and day services that promote individual choice, personal growth, and independence for persons with developmental disabilities.

Ticket prices begin at $40, which includes food, drinks and unlimited games and rides. For more information regarding this fun family event please contact The Center Foundation at 713/525-8484 . For tickets online:

“Kissed by an Angel” – Girl’s Night Out

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


“Cuffs for Care,” by Houston Exotic Handbag Designer Alexandra Knights will be featured

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer will host its “Kissed by an Angel” Girl’s Night Out event, themed “Pretty in Pink,” on Wednesday, March 30, 2010, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Memorial home of Amy and Peter Shaper . Women in the Greater Houston area are invited for an evening of food, fun, and cocktails in the Shaper’s elegant home. The event will feature a silent auction of luxury items and Cuffs for Care by Alexandra Knight.

Sisters-in-law Raquel Segal and Jennifer Segal, M.D., have joined forces to co-chair this year’s event. Attire for the evening is “girls-night-out chic”-think pink. Complimentary Valet parking will be provided. Tickets are $150 per person in advance or $175 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Clayton Dabney Foundation Houston Headquarters at 713-737-5139. Out of each ticket purchased, $75 is considered a charitable contribution and will go to the Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer to help ease the emotional and financial burden for families facing terminal childhood cancer.

“The Kissed by an Angel event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer and its important work on behalf of families facing terminal childhood cancer,” said Raquel Segal, event co-chair. “This will be an incredible party, in a gorgeous home; but most of all, the funds raised will have a real impact in assisting families at the end of their fight with childhood cancer, allowing them to spend precious time together and create memories that will remain with them.”

Highlights of the evening include champagne by Moet, great auction items from Lisa Freede, Polo Ralph Lauren, Pratesi, Past Era, and designer Michael Lupardo. Kissed by an Angel has for purchase Houston designer Alexandra Knight’s custom alligator cuffs in the colors of the season, pink and white. The cuffs, which retail for $165, are available for $100, and with each cuff purchased the buyer will receive a chance to win a chic Chanel purse that will be raffled the evening of March 30. Cuffs for Care may be purchased on line prior to the event or at the Kissed by an Angel event.

Created in memory of Clayton Dabney, a Dallas child who lost his battle with cancer in 1995, the Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer helps grant anonymous gifts, last wishes, and financial assistance to families facing the last stages of terminal childhood cancer. Clayton’s parents founded the nonprofit with a desire to provide the financial and emotional support that many parents need when faced with the terminal cancer diagnosis of a child. These gifts allow families to fulfill last wishes and simply be there with their children at the end of life.

Since 1995, the Foundation has served over 1,600 families throughout the United States and has distributed over $3 million in gifts, wishes and financial assistance. More than 300 of those requests have been fulfilled in the Houston area since 1998, and more than $500K in financial assistance has been distributed to families in the Greater Houston area. Whether it is a wish from a child for a party, trip, or shopping spree, or a request from a family for assistance with rent, utilities, or time off from work, the Clayton Dabney Foundation fulfills the request, anonymous to the child.

“Peter and I are incredibly excited to host `Kissed by an Angel’ for such an incredible organization that works tirelessly on behalf of families facing terminal childhood cancer,” said Amy Shaper, event hostess. “We are grateful to contribute to the Clayton Dabney Foundation’s mission of make devastating circumstances more bearable for families and their children. We look forward to opening our home to women in the community, and we thank our sponsors and contributors for their generous support.”

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Kissed by an Angel event, please call the Clayton Dabney Foundation Houston at 713-737-5139 or visit

# # #

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1995, that provides needy families with children in the last stages of terminal cancer with assistance in creating everlasting memories. This assistance is arranged through the parents and is anonymous to the child. Since its inception, the Foundation has served over 1,600 families throughout the United States and distributed over $3 million in gifts, wishes and financial assistance. The Clayton Dabney Foundation Dallas headquarters is located at 6500 Greenville Ave. Suite 342, Dallas, TX 75206. (Phone) 214-361-2600. The Houston headquarters is located at 12335 Kingsride #347, Houston, TX 77024. (Phone) 713-737-5139. For more information, please visit the Clayton Dabney Foundation Web site at or call the Dallas headquarters at 214-361-2600.

Matter of Food, Round 34

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Miller Outdoor Theatre – March/April 2011

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Miller Outdoor Theatre
March & April 2011 Performance Calendar

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value. Admission is FREE!
For a complete schedule, visit

Please note important change in Tickets and Seating policy and procedure this 2011:
***ALL performances except for movies and the daytime children’s performances require tickets for assigned seating under the canopy.
Free tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m.—1 p.m. for assigned seating under the canopy. If tickets remain at 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.
Under normal circumstances, all unoccupied/unclaimed seats are released 5 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin. We encourage all patrons to be in their assigned seats at least 10 minutes before showtime to insure that their seat is not released. Again, there is NO charge for tickets. Tickets may not be reserved by phone. Only four (4) tickets per person. At managements’ discretion, all unoccupied seats may be released at any time for any reason.


Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance
March 23, 11 a.m.
Dance of all styles and eras from the 1930s to today explode onto stage to engage, entertain and enlighten students of all ages.
Produced by Houston Metropolitan Dance Company

The Aluminum Show
March 24 and 25, 8 p.m.
Houston debut of Israel’s hottest theatrical sensation! Industrial materials are brought to life in this tour de force production that combines movement, dance, visual theater and plenty of humor.
Sponsored in part by the Consulate General of Israel
Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Noche Caliente featuring Bobby Valentín
March 26, 8 p.m.
The legendary “El Ray de Bajo” (King of the Bass) Bobby Valentin performs with Houston’s hottest Latin youth ensemble “Caliente”.
Produced by Diaz Music Institute

Carnival Connection
March 27, 7 p.m.
A celebration of exciting Gulf Coast and Caribbean music and dance, kicked off with a screening of the film “Carnaval Dominicano.”
Produced by Houston Institute for Culture


(Captioned performance April 8; Audio description April 15)
April 7-9 and 14-16, 8 p.m.
The big hair, big hearted Tony Award-winning musical addressing the complex societal issues of 1962 Baltimore.
Produced by HITS Theatre

Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance
April 20, 11 a.m.
Dance of all styles and eras from the 1930s to today explode onto stage to engage, entertain and enlighten students of all ages.
Produced by Houston Metropolitan Dance Company

The Princess and the Pea
April 22, 11 a.m.
A bilingual (English/Spanish) adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic. Will the Princess pass the test and marry her Prince?
Produced by Express Children’s Theatre

Celebrate Earth Day at Miller
LUMA: The Human Light Show

April 22 and 23, 8:15 p.m.
The ingenious LUMA returns for two illuminating Earth Day performances! The stage is darkened and all ambient lights turned off, proving we can save energy and have fun! Interactive and informative Earth-friendly displays on the plaza nightly beginning at 6:00pm.
Sponsored in part by CenterPoint Energy and Momentum Luxury Cars.
Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Robin Hood
April 26, 11 a.m.
Follow Alice down the rabbit hole and into a land like no other! Children will delight in this fresh adaptation that brings them right into the center of the action.
Produced by InterActive Theater Company

In the Mood…for Dance!
April 29, 8 p.m.
A swinging evening of contemporary dance set to music of the Big Band Era.
Produced by CORE Performance Company

East Meets West IX
April 30, 8 p.m.
Some of the best dance from the east and the west – featuring contemporary, modern, hip hop, ballroom and Chinese dance.
Produced by Dance of Asian America

Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Culinary Stars From Coast to Coast Spice Up Texas’ Biggest Wine & Food Party
Rising Star Chefs Join State’s Best at Festival Culinary Showdown

A bevy of celebrated rising star chefs will join Texas’ top chefs in a four-day culinary showdown at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, the state’s premier celebration of wine, food, brews and spirits, March 31 – April 3.

Celebrity Chef John Besh will headline the Stars Across Texas Classic, Thursday, March 31, a supreme tasting event showcasing 25 top chefs from the Lone Star State set to the tune of fine wines and spirits-both Texan and international. Besh’s benchmark New Orleans’ fine dining restaurants extended to Texas last fall with the opening of Lüke San Antonio River Walk. His list of culinary accolades includes the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast, Top 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, finalist on the Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and the winner of “Iron Chef America,” besting renowned TV Chef Mario Batali.

Another television favorite, Season 3 Top Chef finalist and fan pick Casey Thompson, whose culinary career began at Dallas’ famed Mansion on Turtle Creek where she became sous chef under Texas legend Dean Fearing, will take on other guests and local chefs in a battle of beef in the festival’s new signature event Live Fire! Beef Supremacy Over Flames at the Texas Disposal Systems Exotic Game Ranch on Friday, April 1. Thompson is currently chef at Brownstone in Fort Worth.

“This is one of the most exciting lineups of cutting-edge culinary talent the festival has ever brought together,” said Cathy Cochran-Lewis, festival president. “With the unequaled talent of these Texas chefs coming together with some of the most highly celebrated chefs in the nation, there’s no doubt that festival attendees will have the opportunity of a lifetime to experience extraordinary culinary craftsmanship.”

Considered among the country’s top restaurants, L.A.’s Animal restaurant will be represented by renowned chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. The chef duo was awarded Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2009, received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant and named Rising Star Chefs by Star Chefs. They were hand-selected by actor and winemaker Kyle MacLachlan to join acclaimed local chefs David Bull of Congress + Second, and Josh Watkins of The Carillon to present dinner under the stars at Star Power: An Evening with Kyle MacLachlan & Animal Restaurant in the courtyard at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center on Saturday, April 2.

Celebrated for his creative, global approach to cooking, Chef Brad Farmerie of Michelin-awarded, James Beard-awarded Public restaurant in New York City, will turn his attention to mastery of beef at Live Fire! just after capturing the 2011 title as pork champion at NYC Cochon 555. Extending his culinary reach as executive chef of Double Crown and Madam Genera, Farmerie was spotlighted on Iron Chef America and Food Network’s Next Iron Chef America in 2009.

From behind the stoves at Portland’s famed Pok Pok Restaurant and his second restaurant, Ping, comes Chef Andy Ricker to show his own beef prowess at Live Fire! Ping was named one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America 2009 by GQ Magazine and Ricker captured the title of Rising Star of the Year 2009 by the Oregonian newspaper.

Well-known Australian adventurer, chef, cookbook author and television host Andrew Dwyer brings his rugged culinary adaptability to showcase his brand of campfire cooking at Live Fire! He will also teach a cooking class, Australian Unleashed: Fine Wines & Rogue Cookery, at the Whole Foods Market® Culinary Center on Saturday, April 2.

As the executive chef at Portland’s Castagna Restaurant, Matt Lightner reigns over one of Portland’s most esteemed restaurants known for its commitment to locally grown ingredients. He was selected as Food & Wine Magazine‘s Top 10 Best New Chefs for 2010 and was a finalist for the Rising Star Chef award by the James Beard Foundation in 2010 and 2011. Castagna received the Oregonian‘s 2010 Restaurant of the Year award. Lightner, who has cooked at some of the world’s top restaurants including Mugaritz, a two-star Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian, and Copenhagen’s Noma, currently regarded as the top restaurant in the world, will present a cooking demonstration at the festival’s culminating party, Sunday Fair, on Sunday, April 3 at the Mexican American Cultural Center.

Other prominent guests include Rodney Muirhead of the nationally celebrated Podnah’s Pit Barbecue in Portland; Josh Ozersky, James Beard-winning food columnist for TIME Magazine and renowned meat expert; and Andrew Knowlton, restaurant and drinks editor at Bon Appétit magazine, James Beard award nominee and a judge on The Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef America” and “Iron Chef America” as well as on NBC’s “Chopping Block.”

Additional Texas culinary celebrities participating in the 2011 festival include Jason Dady, Jason Dady Restaurants, San Antonio; Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin; Tyson Cole, Paul Qui & Philip Speer, Uchiko, Austin; Larry McGuire, Perla’s and Lamberts Downtown BBQ, Austin; Kent Rathbun, Abacus, Dallas; Rebecca Rather, The Carillon; Rene Ortiz, La Condesa, Austin; Randy Evans, Haven Seasonal Kitchen, Houston; Shawn Cirkiel, Parkside and Backspace; Elmar Prambs & Javier Franco, Trio, Austin; Katherine Clapner, Dude Sweet Chocolate, Dallas; Aimee Olson, Le Cordon Bleu, Austin; Tony Sansalone, 1886 Bakery, Austin; Deegan McClung of Jeffrey’s, Austin; Jeff Blank & Kelly Casey, Hudson’s on the Bend, Austin; John Bullington, Alamo Drafthouse, Austin; Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin; Jon Gelman, The Driskill Grill, Austin; Gerard Thompson, Rough Creek Lodge, Glen Rose; Steve McHugh, Lüke San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio; and Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Buffalo Gap.

Purchase tickets now at
For more information or to sign up for email updates about the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, visit the website or call 512.249.6300. Follow the festival on Twitter at txwineandfood and become a fan on Facebook at texashillcountrywineandfoodfestival.


About the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

Founded in 1986, the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival is one of the country’s largest epicurean events, attracting thousands to celebrate the multi-cultural, culinary and agricultural achievements of Texas. The mission of the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival has remained consistent since 1986, and that is to bring together innovative culinary artisans and wine producers to celebrate the rich traditions that influence Texas wine and food. The Festival’s purpose is to promote Texas wine and food and to increase appreciation of Texas’ impact on food and wine throughout the world. The festival is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

Trattoria Il Mulino Opens in Houston

March 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining

Now Open: Trattoria Il Mulino

Amuse Bouche

On Thursday, March 24th, Houston welcomes a touch of New York’s West Village with an exciting, new restaurant: Trattoria Il Mulino.


An off-shoot of the famed Il Mulino New York, Trattoria Il Mulino offers a casual, family-friendly dining experience in a lively atmosphere with a menu emphasizing classic Italian cuisine from the Abruzzi region of Italy.


The amuse bouche was the most flavorful eggplant with garlic, basil and sun-dried tomatoes.The interior design of Trattoria IL Mulino, as its’ name implies, creates a fun, come as you are atmosphere for guests. The open concept and large exhibition kitchen make dining here fun for all. Our group decided to share our dishes family style so we could taste the most options.




The prices here will not break the bank. Most entrees were under $30.   We split a margarita pizza, and enjoyed the veal parmesan – it is huge – it takes an entire plate.  We also had veal piccata and cantelloni.








One of the specialties of the house at Trattoria Il Mulino is the house-made Grappa which has been a tradition in Northern Italy for centuries.  At the bar, you can chose from  a variety of house-made, infused grappas such as Pear, Blueberry, Strawberry, Fig, Raspberry, Apricot, and Raisin. The process consists of taking the distilled spirit and fermenting it with the fruit of your choice. We allow time, Mother Nature, and a little love to create these delectable digestifs. As a finale to your meal, we serve a complimentary pour of house-made Limoncello.

Trattoria Il Mulino is in the new Westin Houston Memorial City and open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 945 Gessner at I-10. For reservations, please call (832) 358-0600.

Writers In Schools

March 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

The Houston chapter of Writer’s In Schools held a fundraiser at the Junior League of Houston on Nov. 4th. The message of WITS is simple, engage students in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. They teach creative writing to under served students in schools. hospital, community cents, parks, hospitals and more.

Mayor Annise Parker was honored for being a strong advocate for public education. Her lifetime involvement in literacy and the arts included her co-owning a bookstore, developing a civics art program, and underwriting the Houston Poetry Festival where she participated as a poet.

Jeannette Walls author of the New York Times best-seller “The Glass Castle” entertained the crowd with hilarious stories of her childhood.

To make a donation or get involved log on to:

Love Makes You Do Stupid Things

March 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Edit

“I did not marry you to be married to a bartender!”

I should have paid more attention to the truth of her words, they clearly stated that she did not love me for who I am. In retrospect, it was the most obvious red flag she ever waved, but I was young, naive and in love, and the real meaning went right over my head.

“I’m not a bartender; I’m a writer,” I replied defensively.

“You’re not a writer; you’re not published.”

It was a sucker punch! She knew I was writing eight hours a day, five days a week, and had for years. She knew I had completed dozens of short stories and two novels. She also knew… I had a stack of rejection letters to show for each.

My wife of three years was saying the same sort of things that my father had said. It was a sore spot for me, and a fight we would repeat many times.

A short time later, she asked me to become a partner in her business. She explained that she wanted to expand the business into several new states, and needed help to do it, but couldn’t afford to hire someone. She said my experience in advertising would be beneficial to the company.

I was already feeling guilty that I was not more a of success in her eyes; and thinking I could win her love for good, I acquiesced. My decision meant working up to sixteen hours a day in an industry I hated. It meant traveling alone all over the southeastern United States by car, selling a product I didn’t understand or believe in. Worst of all, it meant giving up writing full time. It was the biggest sacrifice I have made in my life. And, in the end, it went completely unappreciated.

Four years later a change in the industry caused us to close the business. By that time, I’d lost the momentum of writing fiction. On the other hand, I had learned so much from the experience of marketing my own company that I was able to take that knowledge and assist other companies in growing their business. But, the biggest benefit I gained from the experience wouldn’t come until years later when we divorced.

As our marriage deteriorated and the fighting escalated, one day she yelled at me, “You’ve never done anything for me.”

“Are you kidding me?” I cried. “I gave up my biggest dream for you! I quit writing fiction to help you build your business, and I’ve never been able to get fully back into it.”

She said, “That was a long time ago. I’m talking about now.”

I was shocked, my loving gift had meant nothing to her.

Love is a powerful motivator that drives us to do all sorts of things. It puts a spring in our step, and at the beginning will even make us believe we live in a perfect world. Too often, however, we fail to begin the process in the right place.

The good news for me is that my divorce started me asking questions about myself. I needed to understand why my marriage didn’t work. And, what my part had been in its demise. Surprisingly, I was eventually led to the wisdom of William Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

I learned that in order to win true love, that you must love yourself first. When you love yourself, that is, take care of your needs and dreams, you develop the self-confidence to attract a lover who will respect you. And, while there may be compromises, there will never be sacrifices.

Nowadays, when I find myself acting all goofy around an attractive woman, I start singing these words from rocker Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace:

“Chantilly lace had a pretty face; And a pony tail hanging down.
That wiggle in the walk and giggle in the talk; Makes the world go round.
There ain’t nothing in the world like a big eyed girl;
That make me act so funny, make me spend my money;
Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose. Oh baby that’s what I like!”

Then, I laugh myself back to reality.

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit

On the Table

By Lynn Ashby 21 March 2011

At the first budget-cutting meeting the Dems declared, “Everything is on the table.” The GOPers agreed that it’s all there – on the table.
“Right,” said the Tea Party members. “Medicare, Medicaid, the defense budget, NPR – especially NPR – plus DNA testing on the Unknown Soldier, food for prisoners….”
“Everything is on the table,” the GOPers said again, “including the Defense budget, except, of course, for the Boeing contract — that 35-billion dollar gold mine for Air Force tankers.”
“Why does the Air Force need tanks?” asked a new Tea Party member, who had previously worked as a shepherd in Utah.
And so that first meeting went smoothly. At the second meeting it was agreed to keep Medicare on the table, but to table Medicaid. The Dems agreed to Republican demands to abolish the EPA, destroy its headquarters building in Washington and sew salt in the ground where it had stood. In return, the GOP agreed to merge NPR with the Voice of America and to only broadcast from 3 to 4 a.m. — in Swahili.
The negotiators found common ground to cut funding for lighthouses (“They’re mostly foreign-flag vessels anyhow.”), but the motion to cut Congress members’ salaries by 1 percent died for lack of a second. The members agreed that such a cut would make little difference in the overall budget since the salaries accounted for only one-tenth of 1 percent. “Hardly worth the bother,” the Congressmen agreed.
Before the next meeting, demonstrators blocked the doors to the committee room with John Deere Drawn Planters and Bushwacker Rotary Cutters, demanding no reductions in farm subsidies. “You’re trying to kill Mom and Pop farms,” said a lawyer for ConAgra. This was echoed by the lobbyists for Monsanto. The demonstrators left when the negotiators agreed to limit farm subsidies to 200 percent of the current amounts. “We’ve got to take a stand somewhere,” the GOPers said in a press statement. This was echoed by the Dems, who added, “If it weren’t for farm subsidies, Americans would be paying far less for food. What are we, some third world country? Besides, what goes on the table should be taken off the table. This includes elbows.”
While the negotiators were dealing with farms, they agreed that ethanol is vital to our national interest, and should continue to be heavily subsidized. Noted a senator from Iowa, “Some day someone will find a practical use for ethanol, and we must be ready. Besides, the ethanol subsidy is only two-tenths of 1 per cent of the budget.”
After Medicare was taken off the table, an aide pointed out only left 18 percent of the budget was left to cut. A Tea Partier asked, “We don’t really need meat inspectors, do we? Or air traffic controllers? And how often does anyone drive on interstates in North Dakota? I have a list here of other possible cuts. Let’s see. Have any of you actually been rescued at sea by the Coast Guard? We already have a navy. This is government redundancy at its worst.”
Foreign aid was on the table since polls show many Americans think that’s a good place to cut. But it was pointed out that if, say, aid to Poland was cut then all the Polish-Americans would be mad. Same for aid to Italy, Ireland and Israel. Soon all that was left was Greenland and Lichtenstein, which didn’t receive any foreign aid. It was suggested that the two start receiving foreign aid so it could be cut. All other foreign aid was off the table.
The cost-cutters returned to the military budget after one negotiator asked the Unknown Soldier, “What are you bringing to the table?” More suggestions were trotted out: several billion dollars could be saved by making the Pentagon a square. We have too many generals, whose numbers should be reduced, except for General Motors and General Electric, which are generous campaign donors. When it was noted that the military has more musicians than the State Department has diplomats, the budget-cutters were appalled at this discrepancy and voted to increase the number of diplomats. “Introduce coin-operated machineguns,” it was suggested. “We’ll just pay the troops in quarters.” One member questioned why the U.S. Surgeon General dresses like an admiral. All agreed it had something to do with don’t-ask, don’t-tell.
There was a move to cut Part D of Medicare which covers pills except for those who fall in the doughnut hole. The pharmaceutical lobbyists threatened to halt campaign donations, so everyone agreed to exempt doughnuts. An adviser from the Congressional Budget Office suggested abolishing Congress’s expense and travel accounts. The negotiators unanimously approved abolishing the Congressional Budget Office. A senior GOPer suggested, “We can cut the budget of the SEC to zero because, as we have seen, Wall Street can police itself. Same for HMOs. Also, I always thought keeping the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in those big glass cases was a bit ostentatious. And can we privatize the Smithsonian to Disney?”
The next gathering began with a Tea Partier asking, “Who’s going to chair this table?” A Dem brought up taxing the top 2 percent of income earners. Republican members banned him for life. Immigration came up for discussion. The negotiators agreed that illegal immigration is bad for the economy except when it involves nannies, gardeners, waiters and anyone who works cheaply but avoids going to school or to a hospital. A compromise was reached to tax the top 2 percent of illegal immigrants.
A Dem argued that this would still be only one-tenth of 1 percent. A GOPer shouted back, “Everything in the budget is only one-tenth of 1 percent. Canteens are only one-tenth of 1 percent. So are mops for VA hospitals, a secretary’s salary, Tom DeLay’s Congressional pension! It may be symbolic, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. So everything’s on the table.”
A Tea Partier asked, “Do we really need this table?”

Ashby chairs at

Rouge et Blanc in Lake Charles

March 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Bottle of Red, Bottle of White
Bacchus, the God of Wine visits Lake Charles, LA
By Laurette M. Veres

The highly anticipated food and wine festival Rouge et Blanc brings heartfelt goodness to the heart of Cajun country.

Wine pairings, seminars and dinners take place throughout Lake Charles, Louisiana all week as partiers, food coinsures and wine aficionados anxiously await the main festival on Saturday. When lovers of food and wine get together, only goodness can happen.

The Golden Ticket
Wine dinners abound during the weeklong celebration of red and white. One of the most anticipated takes place at La Truffe Sauvage. The evening begins with the N.V. Charles Heidsieck, Brut, Reserve paired with the escargot and salmon Crostini. According to co-host Jared Cocke of Republic National Distributing Company, the first champagne reached Louisiana in the 1800s. Other highlights of the meal include: Fresh Tagliatelle pasta and alba white truffle paired with light colored, full bodied 2004 Barolo; Pan roasted wild Alaskan Halibut served with a fire roasted pepper risotto and 2007 Louis Jadot, Beaune, Les Avaux. It’s a treat to dine at one of the finest restaurants in town. It’s more of a treat when the chef and wine supplier are given creativity carte blanche.

Eat, Drink and Be Happy
Welcome to the big show. Rouge et Blanc offers more than bottles of wine – you’ll find, champagne and bites from local restaurants. The grounds in front of the historic city hall are closed to motorized vehicles so pedestrians can roam freely among nearly fifty tasting tents. This is a great place to get your fill of Atchafalaya, gumbo, etoufee, prime rib, lamb chops, and more; plus lots of wine. The Clock Tower at City Hall is a beacon for dessert lovers. The building is overflowing with cupcake displays, bread pudding and other confectionary delights.

The Celebration Continues
Bubbles for Banners wraps up the week’s activities. This new, upscale champagne brunch takes place at L’Auberge du Lac. The award-winning chefs work their magic in live cooking demonstrations and the scent of truffle popcorn wafts through the ballroom. In this casual setting, attendees compare notes and re-live the previous day’s revelries as they enjoy made to order salmon, eggs Benedict, quiche, fruit and a plethora of desserts. Proceeds go to the Banners program, a cultural program at local McNeese University.

Local Color
Firm up your Fat Tuesday facts at the Mardi Gras Museum. Brightly colored “Krews’” (groups who participate in Mardi Gras parades) costumes fill this historic schoolhouse. Mardi Gras’ theme changes each year and designers strive to outdo the previous year’s garb. It’s bad luck to wear a costume more than once, so the museum has a constant flow of new displays. You will also find float replicas that makes you feels like you’re on a parade float.

For the best accommodations in Lake Charles, head to L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort located on Contraband Bayou. The luscious grounds, winding pool, multiple restaurants and casino are the closest to Las Vegas style you’re going to find on Interstate 10.

If you love food and wine, you’ll want to attend the next festival. Tickets are on sale now for the main event on October 15th.


Technology Gives New Meaning to How Moms Communicate

March 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place

By Christina Moreland

Technology and moms are quickly becoming best friends. In the Information Age, where 100,000,000 new Twitter accounts were opened in 2010 and there was a 14 percent increase in the number of internet users last year, and Facebook riveted the world with unique user accounts estimated at more than 500 million, the way moms interact with technology today – and even the reasons why they choose certain gadgets – really sets a profound landscape for how they communicate with and on behalf of their children.

With the introduction of new tech gadgets, such as SmartPhones, the ipod and ipad, and now ipad2, moms, an extremely powerful consumer group, are opting to purchase many of these gadgets and use them as tools to interact, entertain and communicate with their children – often in lieu of purchasing toys, entertainment and educational tools specifically designed for children.

For example, Emma Prettejohn purchased the original Apple ipad last June in an effort to entertain her then 22-month-old over 40 hours of travel from Houston to Canberra, Australia. Now her son is two and a half years old, and apps on her gadget include, ABC Phonics, Preschool Counting, Flashcards, story books, Sprout and Kideos, which is an app that offers online videos that have been vetted to ensure age-appropriate content. Think of it as a kid-friendly alternative to YouTube. Prettejohn says her initial motive in the ipad purchase was purely centered on her son’s entertainment and education. The adult content she enjoys, such as the Weather Channel and Huffington Post, came later.

“We find that people aren’t very tolerant of children during international flights, so we try to keep him focused and quiet wherever possible,” she says. Unlike some children his age, Prettejohn’s son is not in a Mother’s Day Out or preschool program, so he goes everywhere with her, including doctor appointments, eyebrow waxing, and the grocery store. “Having him calm down and focused while using the ipad is really helpful.”

Another local mom, Eva Pappas, whose son is 3, uses educational toddler apps, such as Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, The Wheels on the Bus, and Feed Me!

Although she uses the apps primarily for entertainment purposes for her son, Pappas still purchased the Leapster reading pen for him at Christmas.

Anna Jones uses her iphone and ipad as entertainment devices for all three of her children, ages 2 to 12. She uses the technology while waiting in a doctor’s office, at restaurants and at home on occasion.

“I don’t regularly carry the ipad with me, but I always have my phone which carries the same technology,” she says. “The kids routinely ask to play on my phone.”

Jones agrees with so many apps available and at no cost or for very little cost, the ipad, tablets and SmartPhones are having an impact on how parents spend their technology resource dollars on their children.

“[Parents] used to try and keep our children busy with DVD players, games, Leapsters, paper and colors, but now there seems to be an app for everything with access to movies and television all on one machine.”

It appears Jones and Prettejohn are right on trend with a late 2009 Google Analytics study which revealed some of Google’s own statistics regarding moms online: The study said out of 34 million moms online, their top three purchase categories were apparel and accessories (36%), books, music and video (31%), and toys and games (24%). Additionally, moms today are using social media more than ever, and BabyCenter, LLC, the leading online global resource for expectant and new moms, revealed moms’ use of social media is up 462 percent within the last three years.

Natalie Johnston, whose daughter is 21 months old, agrees social media is connecting moms, with accessing resources to answer their child-related questions.

“I think parents see all that technology has to offer and are willing to spend a bit more on it if it will benefit their kids,” Johnston says. Her initial motivation in purchasing the iphone 4 was to get a handy mobile camera with good image quality so she could use to take snapshots of her two little girls.

“I upgraded from the 3G because I wanted a faster phone and better camera quality,” says Johnston. “I had not initially thought of my phone as something for my older daughter to use, but she loves to watch videos on it, and sometimes when she is super fussy or we go somewhere and I need her to sit still, I’ll let her use my phone. She loves scrolling through all of the pictures I have on it.”

Despite the many benefits and conveniences updated technology allows, a cautionary tone emits from the very moms who embrace it:
“Technology is great, but our kids still need to be kids,” says Jones. “Kids need to turn off their computers and go outside and run and play. I didn’t grow up in a texting world and I worry that our children are not learning enough about how to really develop relationships since they prefer to text instead of having a real conversation most of the time.”

Johnston agrees. “I don’t mind TV and technology to an extent, but you can’t beat playing in a park or running around with your own imagination. Those cannot be replaced.”

According to, a nonprofit organization that provides public data statistics, (, here are some technology stats that will have your head spinning:

• There are an estimated 1 billion computers in use.
• There are an estimated 2 billion TV sets in use.
• There are more than 4 billion cell phones in use; about 3 million cell phones are sold every day.
• Google handles about 1 billion search queries per day.
• About 20 percent of videos on YouTube are music related.
• 24 hours of video viewing is uploaded every single minute to YouTube.
• People view an estimated 15 billion videos online every month.
• Flickr hosts about 5 billion photographs; Facebook hosts more than 15 billion.

Christina Moreland Bio:
Christina Moreland, an H Texas Magazine contributor, is the mom of a growing newborn and a bright, spunky 4-year-old. She is passionate about all sorts of parenting and childcare issues. Her goal with this column is to equip families with good, sound information so they can be well informed and create healthy homes. Her writing has been featured in numerous Houston publications. Contact Christina at

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