November 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining, Travel Blog

BODY, Santa Fe

An emphasis on healing and wellness has always attracted people to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Trend-setting BODY is a destination for well-being and health, offering massage, classes and an organic café and boutique. Massages are customized to individual needs by the healers who deliver them.

What’s Hot Now?

Eat Raw If you have been afraid to jump on the raw food train, BODY’s organic café is the perfect place to tempt your palate. The menu pushes the envelope with tantalizing vegan, raw and organic options. Don’t miss the raw enchilada; it is surprisingly enchilada-like. A tortilla is created from a dehydrated puree of veggies. Amazingly spicy, the red chile sauce will trick your taste buds into thinking they are in the Mexican Riviera.

Nia Short for “neuro-muscular integrative action,” is a mixture of martial arts, yoga and dance. Sessions begin with deep-breathing exercises set to soft music. Movements are slow and steady. As the music gradually speeds up, so do the ballroom dance-type steps (heel-toe-slide-dip). “Sometimes you vocalize,” says Spa Services Manager Lynse Rubin. During a Tae kwondo-style kick, you might be asked to emit a “huh!” or shout “yes” while throwing your arms skyward. “It’s touchy-feely and playful,” comments Rubin, who adds that this is their most popular new class.

BODY;  505-986-0362



November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Where was I? Oh, yes. Page 2. “Lord Smyth-Smyth will never harm you again, my dear,” young Lieutenant Geoffrey Holcomb-Tarleton, Sixth Duke of Anchovy, said, his muscular chest heaving with desire.

“Don’t say anything, just hold me,” replied Angelia-Mary Westminster-Dowling, her muscular chest heaving with….” This is terrible. So why am I reading it? Because I broke one of my chief rules in the writing biz: I agreed to read a friend’s manuscript which was accompanied by the dreaded command, “Tell me what you really think.” What I really think? As Yogi Berra said, I think I made the wrong mistake, and there is no way out of this predicament. Remember, don’t play cards with a guy named Slim, don’t eat at a diner called Mom’s and don’t agree to read and thereby judge a friend’s writing.

If I tell him the truth, that his efforts are dreadful, I’ll lose a friend for life. If I am an enabler and say it’s a work of art alongside Beowulf, Hamlet and the ingredients list on a Triscuit box, then this poor soul is confident his masterpiece will wind up on the best-seller list. Then he says goodbye to his old job at the pig fat rendering plant and hello to a villa near Nice with days spent writing the next mega-bux winner and nights at the cafe with Grisham, le Carre and Rowling.

My own first brush with book-fate was when a friend was having an operation, and his nurse said she had written her autobiography, “32 Years of Bedpans” or something like that. My friend said he knew someone, me, who wrote – mostly ransom notes — and maybe I could take a look at the book and make a judgment. So I received this brown paper package containing a 400-page typed manuscript. It was dreadful and, silly me, I gently wrote back that particular sentiment. I received a scalding diatribe from the nurse, including, “There must be something wrong with you!”

Yes, there was something wrong with me: I had agreed to judge this person’s life work, her baby. Come to think of it, judging babies and books are much the same. Don’t do it. There are some people who make their wretched living reading and judging books. They are called “editors” or “publishing house underlings” or “masochists.” Each day they come to work and see, piled up on their desk, the next contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The entries come in the aforementioned brown paper packages or boxes or binders with coffee-stained pages that are typed or hand-written in blood. These days we must suppose most author wannabes send in CDs or by iPad or tom-tom. If the work shows promise, the editor can contact the author and nurse him or her along in hopes of giving birth to a baby worth the advance fee. But most are awful and are rejected. Bennett Cerf, editor of Random House publishers, once returned a manuscript to the author with a note saying that Cerf didn’t think the tome would sell.

The author wrote back that he knew Cerf hadn’t read the entire book because the writer had glued two pages together towards the back of the book and, upon its return, the pages were still stuck together.

Cerf replied, “I don’t have to eat the whole egg to know it’s rotten.”

Besides authors in waiting, there are also professional scribes who can make a good living as anonymous ghost writers, giving all honor and credit – but not all the money — to the semi-literate NBA player who makes $4 million a free throw but couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the c and a. And we have the “as told to” or “with” followed by the name of a nobody, which means the famous person whose name and face are on the cover didn’t write a word but sat down in front of a tape recorder and mumbled his life story so an out-of-work English major (is that redundant?) could whip the memoir into shape, leaving out all the profanity, the ya’know’s and drug dealers by name.

If you are working on the great American novel or just spilling the beans on your company’s criminal behavior, there is good news. First, go into any Barnes & Noble and witness aisles of books. Every one of them was written by someone whose work was probably rejected several times. And, two: remember how many authors got insulted, ridiculed and run out of the office before hitting the best-sellers’ list.

One publisher rejected George Orwell’s submission, “Animal Farm” with: “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” After John le Carré submitted his first novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” one publisher sent it to a colleague, with this message: “You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.” J.K. Rowling, the second richest woman in Britain behind QE II, submitted “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorcerer’s) Stone” to a dozen publishers, but was rejected by every one. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book. We might suppose that the daughter is now the third richest woman in Britain.

As we can see, rejections are a way of life for authors. It goes hand in hand with poverty. One of the editors of the San Francisco Examiner rejected a short story with the put-down: “I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” was rejected 38 times before finally finding a publisher. And a publisher sent this sent this rejection letter: “Good God, I can’t publish this!” It went to William Faulkner.

Back to the book. “I’m sorry, Miss Westminster-Dowling, but I can’t publish this junk.”

“Don’t say anything. Just hold me.”
Ashby is rejected at









November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog


The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas

340-775-3333ext 8606

St. Thomas is an American territory offering stress free travel to the Caribbean. A hop, skip and a jump across this small Island lands you in the lap of luxury: The Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas. Not your grandfather’s Ritz, you don’t need a tie as you enjoy the glorious grounds, infinity pool, world-class spa and superb accommodations.

What’s Hot Now?

Babymoon Always ahead of the curve, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas is focusing on an underserved target market, expecting parents. The Resort Reconnect® package for moms-and dads-to-be is designed to give them some alone time before the baby arrives. This exclusive offer includes overnight accommodations, breakfast, spa credits and a menu of spa experiences tailored specifically for mothers-to-be. She’ll love the Mellow Mamma and Yummy Tummy treatments.

Anniversary Celebration December marked the resort’s 15th anniversary and you can enjoy the commemorative Crystal Anniversary Celebration package. “We are delighted to share this significant milestone with our guests. The Crystal Anniversary Celebration package captures the very essence of the resort with an experiential vacation that exudes the magic of the islands,” says Marc Langevin, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, St.Thomas. Enjoy the Presidential Suite and Seaside Cabana couples massages, and the signature CrystalRain Therapy that revitalizes your skin with organic exfoliating crystals while a seven-head Vichy shower warms your body.

HEB Feast of Sharing

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


Greater Houston invited to join H-E-B for a free holiday celebration at the
George R. Brown Convention Center

In the spirit of the holiday season, H-E-B will host the Sixth Annual Feast of Sharing, an open-invitation and festive event where all Greater Houston residents can enjoy a free holiday meal and live entertainment.

Hundreds of H-E-B and community volunteers will collaborate on serving more than 10,000 holiday meals.  In addition to a free meal, a full evening of fun will be at hand, with a children’s area featuring activities and crafts; a visit from Santa Claus and live on-stage entertainment.

Sunday, December 11, 2011
at 1 – 4 p.m.

George R. Brown Convention Center
Exhibit Hall E
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, Texas 77002


Feast of Sharing is a tradition started by Florence Butt more than 100 years ago when she hosted community dinners in her home.  It is now part of H-E-B’s Helping Here initiative designed to improve the quality of life for residents in the communities it serves. Feast of Sharing has grown to 31 locations that serve more than 250,000 hot meals to people throughout Texas and Mexico.

Jason Boland

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

JASON BOLAND of Jason Boland & The Stragglers




Jason Boland will play a very special acoustic set in Houston on Wednesday, December 28 at Blue Moose Lodge in support of his newest album Rancho Alto with The Stragglers. Rancho Alto released on October 4th through Boland’s Proud Souls Entertainment (APEX Nashville/Thirty Tigers). Rancho Alto was produced by  Grammy Award-winning producer Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Flatlanders, Robert Earl Keen) and features 11 new songs, 8 written or co-written by Boland.

Texas Monthly says “‘Rancho Alto’ features simple but evocative storytelling and an elevated sense of songcraft…there might be hope for country music yet.” Boland is a country purist whose music has much more in common with Waylon, Merle, Willie, and Jamey Johnson than what is heard on the airwaves these days. He clings onto the notion that the fundamental values of the genre are soulful, blue-collar, defiant, truthful, and real.

Formed in 1998, Jason Boland & The Stragglers built a name for themselves through five studio albums, two live albums and most notably, their amazing sold out live shows. To date they have sold over 500,000 albums independently. Their 2008 release, Comal County Blue was one of 2008’s most successful independent country releases, debuting at #2 on the Billboard National Heatseekers chart, #30 on Billboard Country Albums, #1 on iTunes country albums, as well as their first debut on the Billboard Top 200. Rancho Alto debuted on Billboard Country Albums at #26 and the single “Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse” is currently #1 on Texas Radio.

Jason Boland & The Stragglers are Boland (vocals/guitar), Roger Ray (steel/lead guitar & dobro), Jeremy Watkins (fiddle), Grant Tracy (bass), and Brad Rice (drums).   With one foot firmly in the past and the other in the present, Jason Boland & The Stragglers make country music for people who love real country music and for people who just love great music.

Cabaret For A Cure

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Legacy Community Health Services

Legacy Community Health Services

Cabaret For A Cure

Saturday, January 21, 2012
6:30PM Cocktails
7:30PM Show

Hilton Americas
Houston, Grand Ballroom
1600 Lamar

Martha Turner and Glenn Bauguss, Kathryn and Jeff Smith, Anita and Gerald Smith, Tena and Tyson Faust, Trini Mendenhall Sosa and Frank Sosa, Beth Madison and Paul-David Van Atta

Honorary Co-Chairs:
Beth Sanders Moore and Jess Moore

Shannon R. Schrader Humanitarian Award – Margaret Alkek Williams
Visionary Award – Julie Eberly

Al Jarreau

Individual Tickets $500, Tables begin at $5000

Contact Information:  
Zulema Franco

Toys for Tots

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Build-A-Bear Workshop
Holds Toy Drive for Toys for Tots

Build-A-Bear Workshop and Toys for Tots

All Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the United States

Friday, Dec. 2 through Sunday, Dec. 4 (during store hours)

Give the gift of a teddy bear hug to a local child this holiday season by donating a toy to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.  Visit any Build-A-Bear Workshop ® store location nationwide between Friday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 4 to drop off a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. You can also make and purchase a furry friend to donate to the toy drive at the store.  Throughout the weekend, volunteer members of the U.S. Marine Corp will be on hand at stores at select times to collect the toys. The toys will be distributed to children in need in your community this holiday season.

For store hours and locations visit:

For more information contact:
Shannon Lammert                        Jill Saunders
314-423-8000 ext. 5379          314-423-8000 ext. 5293
314-556-8841 (cell)                 314-422-4523 (cell)

Upright Citizens Brigade

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company Bringing Comedy to UHComic Act to Perform Nov. 18 in UH’s Cullen Performance Hall, Student Troupe Glaundor Opening Show

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine…even when you’re not sick. Audiences can fill this prescription at 8 p.m., Nov. 18 when the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company performs at the University of Houston’s Cullen Performance Hall.

The improvisational comedy troupe will present 90 minutes of improvisational comedy featuring rising comic actors from New York and Los Angeles. Opening the show will be UH’s own student improv act Glaundor.

Sponsored in part by UH’s School of Theatre & Dance, this performance is free for UH students with ID and $10 for non-students.

Founded in 1990, Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) got its start in Chicago. After a string of successful improv and sketch comedy performances in the Windy City, the group relocated to New York, where it launched the UCB Theatre. This performance space also serves as a training center for writers and comedians. A Los Angeles branch of the UCB Theatre was founded in 2005.

Among the notable comedians and actors to emerge from UCB’s ranks are Amy Poehler (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”), Horatio Sanz (former player on “Saturday Night Live”), Neil Flynn (ABC’s “The Middle”), Adam McKay (writer and director of “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy”) and Rob Riggle (“The Daily Show”).

Glaundor is comprised of students from the UH School of Theatre & Dance. Influenced by UCB, the Second City and iO (formerly ImprovOlympic), the group has performed at Houston nightclub the Mink and 2016 MainStage.

“Glaundor is a fast-paced comedy team that takes a sugestion from the audience and never looks back,” said student member Jason Ronje. “It started out as a group of guys goofing around and evolved in to a full-fledged improv troupe.”

For ticket information, call 713-743-2929 or visit

Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company with opening act Glaundor

8 p.m., Nov. 18

UH Cullen Performance Hall
Entrance 1 off Calhoun Road

University of Houston

The Great Truffle Hunt

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


The Great Truffle Hunt offers fresh truffles, fantastic recipes, and in-store tastings. Starting November 11, come by the store and experience the allure of this gourmet delicacy.


Central Market Houston

Join Central Market Houston as we celebrate truffle season with The Great Truffle Hunt! We will offer fresh black Oregon truffles and Italian white alba truffles in our produce department along with recipes to highlight the earthy flavors of these rare mushrooms.

Stop by the store to watch demos and sample featured truffle fare, including:

·         Mesclun Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette
·         Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese & Truffle Oil
·         Truffled Mashed Potatoes
·         Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Truffle Oil

You will find more than 30 delicious truffle items throughout the store, including truffle cheese, truffle salt, and truffle oils. There will also be fully prepared truffle dishes at the Chef’s Corner, such as truffle macaroni and cheese, truffle popcorn, truffle risotto cakes, and roasted cauliflower with truffle & parmesan.

As part of the festivities, Houston’s own Araya Artisan Chocolatier will feature a deluxe chocolate truffle and a special Trentino chocolate truffle hazelnut gelato will also be available.


Friday, Nov. 11 – Sunday, Nov. 13, 2010


Central Market
3815 Westheimer
Houston, TX  77027


November 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Regardless of our political feelings, our loony right- or left-wing tendencies, all Texans must pull for Gov. Rick Perry to win the presidency. Why? Money, of course. Is there any other reason? You see, if Perry takes over the Oval Office we will make big bux because of the Defense budget. It alone accounts for nearly half of discretionary spending, and we need to get our share before the vault door slams shut.
Right now there is a lot of loot in the vault. Annual US military spending has doubled since the 9/11 attacks, from $316 billion to $688 billion, with 1.4 million men and women currently in uniform. Even excluding the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the base budget has increased 78 percent in 10 years.
Our baby continues to grow. Last year the world spent $20.6 billion more than the year before on the military. Of that $20.6 billion worldwide increase, how much was America’s share? Almost all of it: $19.6 billion. Who says we aren’t big spenders? Depending upon who’s counting, the US now accounts for between 43 and 49 percent of the entire world’s military spending. That’s more than the next 22 countries combined. Example: We have 11 aircraft carriers, 20 if you count the Marines’ helicopter carriers. The rest of the world has a total of 10, which are one-fifth the size of ours. We’ve still got 268 installations in Germany and another 124 in Japan.
To be fair (and balanced), Texas already gets more than its quota in defense funds. Federal spending in Texas more than doubled over the last decade to more than $200 billion a year. Over the past three years the Army has relocated about 14,000 troops to Fort Bliss, outside El Paso, and plans to permanently relocate an additional 6,000 troops there in the few years. The base proclaims: “Fort Hood is the largest single site employer in Texas, directly inserting nearly $3 billion annually into the Texas economy.” When Johnny comes marching home again from Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve got to make sure Johnny comes to Texas.
We’ve got 17 military installations here, including three in San Antonio, which has reaped roughly $3.3 billion just on military construction from 2006 to 2011. Operating those installations annually pumps hundreds of millions more into the Alamo City’s economy. Defense-related activity accounts for 4.9 percent for San Antonio, but even more, about 5.3 percent, for Fort Worth. Cow Town makes lots of warplanes.
All told, Texas is home to almost 246,000 active duty personnel, reservists, National Guard personnel, and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian workers. Texas hosts more active duty military personnel than any other state — one out of every 10 US soldier is based at Fort Hood — and ranks third in DoD civilian employment. In addition, we have tens of thousands of workers in defense related businesses. In 2010, more than $30.8 billion in defense contract spending was awarded to 13,056 contractors within Texas.
Feeding off the military is an old Texas tradition. Prior to the Civil War, 15 to 30 percent of the entire U.S. Army was stationed in frontier forts in Texas. The US Army logistical routes across Texas were longer than Napoleon’s supply line from Poland to Moscow in the 1812 campaign. Texas was the army’s largest — and most costly — engagement, absorbing up to 30 percent of the annual total operating budget. In the 55 years from Texas’ annexation in 1845 until the turn of the 20th century, the $70 million expenditure of the Army’s Quartermaster and Paymaster was double – DOUBLE — the total value of real and personal property in 19th century Texas.
“The whole state of Texas counts on the expenditure of money for Army supplies, and when a Congressman tackles the appropriations bill he joins issue with the whole state from Dan to Beersheba.” — Dr. Samuel Smith, U.S. Army, Camp Charlotte, Texas, July 4, 1879. This only makes sense. Texas had the nation’s longest war with the Indians – longer than any other state, 50 years.
But we may be in for a tumble. Among the many cost-cutting proposals before Congress is a reduction of the Pentagon’s budget. Our new Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, has been told to cut $450 billion in defense spending over 10 years. If a new Congressional debt committee cannot forge a deficit-reduction agreement by Thanksgiving, Panetta faces what he calls a “doomsday mechanism” mandating an additional $500 billion in cuts.
We’ve got to make sure other, less deserving, states get hit while we make a fortune in arms. How does Camp Dallas and Fort Houston sound? The Waco Naval Base has a ring. We had two Presidents Bush, why not two Bush Air Force Bases? There’s always talk of putting troops along our border with Mexico. I propose the Rio Grande Missile Range five miles wide from Brownsville to El Paso. Put the “Fort” back in “Fort Worth” and the “Camp” back in “El Campo.” If Honda can build pickups in San Antonio, Honda can build Humvees in Hondo. “Stewart Beach – watch out for Marine amphibious landings.” Let Secretary Panetta cut all the budget funds he wants – just not ours. It reminds us of the Texas rancher who said, “I’m not greedy. All I want is my own land…and that next to it.”
Look, it’s about time we got more camouflaged bucks, because this current administration hasn’t been doing us any favors, nor should we expect it to. Obama didn’t even win the Texas Democratic primary and got his clock cleaned here in the general election: McCain won by a landslide. Obama won the presidency without us, and sure doesn’t owe Texas any favors. As a result, Sealy lost the multi-billion dollar Army truck contract with 1,300 workers laid off and Houston couldn’t even land a lousy used spacecraft. Get over it, and do so by putting a Texan back in the White House.

Ashby enlists at

Owen Daniels at Morton’s

November 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

Houston Tight End Owen Daniels and Friends 2nd Annual Celebrity Server Night at Morton’s was a huge success.