Two Big Days of Art!

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Friday March 2–3

Suzanne Buckland’s Mesoamerican Series will be shown twice this weekend. Don’t miss the show at Watson Gallery, 716 W. Alabama on Friday, March 2, 6-10pm.
Also showing in March…
The Goddess of Filth flies through The Heights and can be viewed at Heights Art Gallery located at 3203 White Oak. Opening reception will be on Sat. March 3, 6-9pm.
See you there!

Yoga Studio Aids Houston Drought Relief

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Bellaire Yoga studio open house benefitting Trees For Houston

 February 27, 2012

On Friday, March 2, from 4:30 to 7:00 PM, the Bellaire Yoga Center will host an open house benefitting Trees For Houston. Guests will enjoy light refreshments, music, and a tour of the studio. “We’ve invited people to come and ‘get their tree on.’ We hope they’ll wear tree-inspired costumes,” said Annette Raj, owner of Bellaire Yoga Center. During the open-house, beginners will learn how to do the “tree pose.” Experienced yogis are included, as well. “We hope that our guests will have fun with the idea of “Trees for ‘Trees For Houston,’” Raj continued. Photos taken throughout the event will be uploaded to social media, and later compiled into a video montage to bring continued awareness to the mission of Trees For Houston. Trees For Houston Executive Director, Barry Ward, will welcome the guests with brief remarks around 6 p.m. In addition to the tree fun, live music will be provided by Pam Hobart and Gary Babineaux. Light refreshments will be provided, along with a studio tour. Guests who donate $10 or more to Trees For Houston at the event will receive a free class at the studio.
Despite the recent rains, Houston and surrounding areas are still under drought conditions. Trees For Houston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting, protecting and promoting trees.

Since their beginning in 1983, Trees For Houston has planted and distributed over 420,000 trees and seedlings along Houston’s residential and commercial streets, in parks, along bayous and trails and on school campuses.
Bellaire Yoga Center is located at 5221 Bellaire Blvd. The studio offers Iyengar, Hatha, and Slow Flow Yoga, along with Feldenkrais movement education, massage, and a variety of personal-development programs. To RSVP, go to Check us out online at and ###

Deer Lake Lodge

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs

Deer Lake Lodge: 50-Acre Holistic Retreat & First Detox Spa & Wellness Resort in the Southeast US to Open Summer 2012

All-natural resort built with 100% eco-friendly construction  

HOUSTON (February 27, 2012) – Deer Lake Lodge & Spa, an exclusive destination health spa and wellness resort, will promote enhanced living through holistic cleansing and other therapeutic approaches in a relaxing, secluded environment. Scheduled to open early in the summer of 2012, Deer Lake Lodge & Spa will provide guests with a one-of-a-kind experience by being the only spa in the Southeast to offer all four services of juice fasting, colonics, body works and energy works.

Located on a 50-acre rustic-chic oasis, only 40 minutes from central Houston and 15 minutes from The Woodlands, the green-construction health haven is a country mile away from stress.

Deer Lake Lodge and Spa’s ideology is to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit through organic spa treatments, juice-fasting programs, colonics, yoga and spiritual enrichment workshops in a tranquil, private setting surrounded by nature. Through these holistic services and treatments, guests of Deer Lake Lodge and Spa will return home not only feeling cleansed and relaxed, but energized and educated about living enhanced and healthier lives. Most participants tend to lose weight during their stay; others simply come away feeling clean, stabilized and invigorated.

Spa amenities include a fasting lounge, heated saltwater pool, jetted spa, infrared sauna, and scenic countryside walking trails. The cleansing program consists of a combination of semi-fasting and therapeutic treatments targeted towards detoxification and elimination. Guests have the option to participate in yoga and attend a variety of seminars on meditation, relaxation, healthy living and other similar topics. In addition, patrons can enhance their experience with the purchase of luxury organic spa accoutrements including:

  • Stimulating hair wash/scalp massage
  • Therapeutic body massages
  • Detoxification body treatments
  • Dry brush massage
  • Body splash massage
  • Organic facial
  • Organic pedicure and exfoliation
  • Organic manicure
  • Foot detoxification
  • Cellulite and skin stimulation
  • Colonics

Every element of the resort is carefully selected and made from all organic or natural materials. From the recycled asphalt and gravel walkways, to the exclusive green-construction facility which includes eight rooms made from repurposed shipping containers, Deer Lake Lodge & Spa is committed to leaving behind the lightest carbon footprint.

The spa uses rain harvesting, low-VOC paint, natural insulation, re-utilization of building materials, FCS lumber, all LED lighting, and low-EMF wiring to promote energy and water conservation efforts. Organic and biocompatible cleaning supplies, spa products and bedding have been chosen to promote optimal health for your body and the earth.

Co-founders of Deer Lake Lodge & Spa, Tracy Boulware and her sister, Dr. T.C. Hughes, N.D., decided there were more sensible ways to improve health rather than simply masking symptoms with solutions that are often toxic to the body. The sisters began to notice a lack of holistic approaches in the market, and after extensive research, they expanded on the concept of a place where spa-goers could enjoy a multi-faceted detoxification program in a resort atmosphere.

According to co-founder of the spa, Tracy Boulware, “We are excited to introduce a new, holistic and relaxing environment for people to reenergize and cleanse their bodies and minds. With the spa located in such a beautiful and natural setting, it was important to me to be as environmentally friendly as possible during construction, and I am thrilled with the end-product.”

Initially, Deer Lake Lodge & Spa will offer one program from Thursday through Sunday; and the resort allows no more than 22 guests at a time, ensuring the highest level of care for each guest. The resort will also be available Sunday-Wednesday for private corporate events and seminars.

Deer Lake Lodge and Spa is located at 10500 Deer Lake Lodge Road, Montgomery, Texas 77316. To make advance accommodations for a weekend getaway, and for pricing options, call 713-590-3771.

For more information, visit:



February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Jose Antonio Navarro was a member of the landed gentry from San Antonio who was captured in 1842 by an old school chum, Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. As Navarro had been a father of Texas independence, Santa Anna was overjoyed with his catch. Navarro was taken to Mexico City and tried for treason. He was found guilty, and was ordered executed.

However, he was promised that his life would be spared and he would get a prominent government job if he renounced Texas. But Navarro, replied, “I have sworn to be a good Texan, and that I will not forswear. I will die for that which I firmly believe, for I know it is just and right. One life is a small price for a cause so great. As I fought, so shall I be willing to die. I will never forsake Texas and her cause. I am her son.”

So wonderful a statement of personal pride, so much courage displayed and so widely quoted that the last part of it (“I will never forswear Texas and her cause. I am her son.”) is literally chiseled into stone — the lobby wall of the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin.

But the quote is also wrong, so made up, so flowery as to come from a bad movie. In Dallas recently I ran into Dr. James E. Crisp, noted author and an expert on all things Texas who discovered the inside skinny. According to Crisp, who was also quoted by Kent Biffle in the Dallas Morning News, the Navarro message was totally made up by Daniel James Kubiak (1938-98) of Rockdale in Milam County. Kubiak was an 11-term state legislator, high-school math teacher and football coach who created the quote in Ten Tall Texans. The statement was picked up in another book, often quoted (including by me) and ended up on the museum wall. A spokesman at the Bullock museum said they know about the mistake, but “you can’t just plaster over it and carve something else.” Donations for the job are welcomed.

This story shows again much of Texas’ history is too good to be true. Take the old story that Texas, having been a nation, can leave the U.S. any time we wish because that right is part of the Texas Annexation Treaty.Gov. Rick Perry has alluded to that. Even in “Travels with Charley” John Steinbeck writes, “Texas is the only state that came into the Union by treaty. It retains the right to secede at will.” Wrong. We didn’t get married by treaty, but by joint resolution. We even tried to leave once, with devastating results. See: “War, Civil.”

Here’s another: “By federal law, Texas is the only state in the U.S. that can fly its flag at the same height as the U.S. flag.” Not true. But we do have a much-ignored law that says all trains going in or through the state have to display the Texas flag. On the other hand, Texas really can divide itself into as many as five different states. The division also creates a problem with what your children recite every school day: “I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.” The students should recite, “one and divisible up to four times.”

We entered the Union with the stipulation that we would keep all our public lands, including six leagues out into the Gulf, and we did. Why should anyone care? Because a few generations later oil was found under some of that land and water. The royalties go to educate our school children. There is another myth, or at least a misconception, in other states that the official state song is “The Eyes of Texas.” It certainly should be, but it’s the almost unsingable “Texas, Our Texas.”

Here’s a good myth to mull, if it is a myth. Did Travis draw a line in the sand with his sword at the Alamo, asking those who wanted to stay to step over? Indeed, the term “drawing a line in the sand” has become part of our national vocabulary. The biggest Texas myth is: How did Davy die? Was he killed fighting or captured and executed? One version is the truth and the other is clearly a myth. The nice thing about Texas history is that some of it is true and the rest should be.




Ashby’s myth is





Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog


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It takes a full day of travel to arrive in French Polynesia.  It is worth the trip.  Part of the prestigious Relais et Châteaux collection, Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa transports you to another world.  Stay in a villa on stilts over lagoon waters, snorkel from your back patio and swim to a private motu (island).  When you want to relax, the spa is a well-being haven.

What’s Hot Now?

Vanilla, an important crop in this area, is also an important ingredient in spa treatments.  The Vanira Noa Noa starts with a flower and vanilla foot treatment and is followed by a full body and scalp massage with warm Vanilla oil.  The healing properties penetrate the skin leaving you relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to swim with the sharks (and stingrays).


Rodeo Uncorked

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs

We’re Serious about our Wine

Rodeo Uncorked helps Houstonians appreciate great wine

A cart of unlabeled wine is wheeled into the room. Participants taste and sip; swirl and rate. The criteria: How does it hold up against other wines in the sampling?  Should it be top seller?  How does it taste?  Everyone offers a score. The scores are tallied and turned into the committee. Blind judging events just like this one go on for two full days during the Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition.

Rodeo Uncorked is a nine-year-old series of events promoting the love of wine. Besides offering wine lovers an excuse to gather, the events spotlight great wines and bring new audiences to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. And, of course, raise money for charity.

Setting up the season is no easy task. There are hundreds of volunteers and numerous committees driving Rodeo Uncorked’s success. The Winery Relations and Publicity committee gather wine entries. The wine sales committee sells event tickets, sampler cases of winning wines and tickets to educational seminars.  The events committee hosts multiple soirees throughout the year.

All of the hard work has paid off; the wine industry has taken notice. Since inception in 2004, the competition has grown to nearly1,800 wines from 583 wineries around the world. Paul Bonarrigo of Messina Hof Winery and Resort in College Station has taken home many awards.  “The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition is important because it is a world class stage presenting our wines to a world class audience,” he says.


The Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition kicks off the rodeo with one fun-filled evening of great tasting food and award winning wine. Here, winning wineries are celebrated as they receive custom-made saddles, chaps and buckles. Standing room-only crowds enjoy signature dishes from restaurants and sip award-winning wines.

2012 Best Bites Winners

Best Bites Popular Choice Awards

1st – Royer’s Round Top Café

2nd – Hasta La Pasta Italian Grill

Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée Award

1st – Valentino Vin Bar – Slow Smoked Flank Steak with Fregola and Smoky Tomato Demiglace

2nd – Straits Asian Bistro and Lounge – Braised Singaporean Spice Short Rib Rendang

3rd – Beaucoup Bar & Grill – BBY Shrimp and Grits

Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese /Dessert Award

1st – Veldhuizen Cheese – Raw Milk Artisan Cheese

2nd – Ooh La La Dessert Boutique – Blackberry Pie Bars

Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction and Dinner is an auction to be reckoned with.  Heavy hitters enjoy an evening including cocktails, dinner, and silent and live wine auctions.  Each year, the auction raises more money than the previous.  Last year’s Grand Champion Best of Show was Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS, Alexander Valley, 2006.  It was sold for a record price of $210,000 to The DeMontrond Automotive Group; John Eddie and Sheridan Williams; Raye G. White; and Robert and Michelle Marsh.

Rodeo attendees can enjoy the Champion Wine Garden located in Carruth Plaza in the northwest corner of Reliant Astrodome. By the glass or by the bottle, the garden is a great place to enjoy some of the best wines from across the world.  “We feature 55+ winning wines at all price points and all varietals,” says Stephanie Baird, Rodeo Uncorked chairman.  “This year we’ll have live music every single day.” Meet friends before a concert and raise your glass in support of the wine committee.  “It takes all of these hardworking dedicated volunteers to pull this off,” she says of her thousand people strong committee.  It’s not everyday you can drink in the name of scholarships.

International Wine Competition

Nearly 1,800 wines will be competing in this year’s International Wine Competition. Each category has two winners, a grand champion and a reserve champion.  “In addition, there is a competition within the competition where a Texas wine is also named grand champion and reserve champion” says Baird.


TWRC Wildlife Center initiated the Baby Bird Program

February 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

The program provides on-site care for approximately 2,000 baby birds. The program this year will run from April 30th through August 3rd. With spring just around the corner, we are looking for volunteer bird feeders. Bird feeders prepare special diets, feed the birds, clean cages, wash dishes and includes general maintenance of the bird area. This is a very exciting and educational opportunity for anyone 12 years of age and older. Youth between 12 and 14 must be accompanied by an adult to participate (ratio of 1:1).
Our volunteers can choose shifts any day of the week, Monday through Sunday, starting from 8:00am to noon, noon to 4:00pm and 4:00pm to 8:00pm. We ask our volunteers to sign up for a minimum of five shifts to ensure the best care possible for the baby birds.
If interested in volunteering, you must take a training class and pay a $15 registration fee.  You will receive a TWRC t-shirt which you will be required to wear when working shifts.   The first training class  is April 7th.  Check our website calendar for more training dates.  You can register online at
Have some fun while helping our native Texas birds. With your help, in spite of the fact that these babies don’t have their mothers, they will grow up and be released to live out their lives in their natural habitat. It’s exciting to watch the changes in the birds from week to week!
If you have questions, you can send an email to Marvin Starkey at or call TWRC Wildlife Center at 713-468-8972 ext. 157.

TWRC WILDLIFE CENTER, 10801 Hammerly Blvd., Ste. 200, Houston, 77043.


February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby


Quick. What was the last picture show in “The Last Picture Show”? What’s the best wood for barbeque, is high school football a religion or a cult, and why this sudden interest in things Texas? Answers: “Red River,” whatever wood they use at Dozier’s in Fulshear or Bill’s Barbeque in Ingram, and cult. As for the sudden interest in things Texan, it isn’t sudden, only now you can get college credit for studying our front porches and “Giant.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, the “idea of Texas” — in literature, culture, politics and even food — is the focus of courses in college campuses around the state. Texas A&M offers 10 Texas-flavored courses covering everything from anthropology to art history. One seminar is devoted to the intricacies of Texas barbecue. (Don’t laugh. Barbeque is a major industry in Elgin.)

UT-Austin offers courses in “Writing Texas,” which dissect the “premise that Texas is both a place lived in reality and a cultural phenomenon,” and “Texas State of Mind,” an interdisciplinary examination of geography, journalism, music, high school football and death row. Sam Houston State, Rice and others are getting in on the movement. McMurry University may have the most far-reaching study program: the “Texas Semester,” a chance to “study abroad — in Texas.” Students study the state’s vastness and diversity, culminating with a three-week waltz across Texas.

This being academia, we have to have those pointy-headed liberal profs with their cynical view of anything good and decent, like smoked ribs, cheerleaders and death row (where there are no more smoked ribs for a last meal, Mister Put-Down Prof.). So a number of de-bunking seminars are offered, too. But there are still a few more courses our young Texans need to take:

Baylor University has a new studies program: Texas Culture from Waylon to Willie. The Lyndon B. Johnson School at UT-Austin has a new seminar on “Elections LBJ Style,” where attendance will be taken – several times. Windmill Tilting 101 — Taught by Dr. Ron Paul, includes the medicinal benefits of marijuana, an expose of the Federal Reserve, plus field trips to Monaco and Macau to check on U.S. foreign aid (tuition must be paid in gold). SMU’s Tom DeLay School of Political Ethics offers Beginning Gerrymandering, although there may be a three-to-five year delay, so to speak, depending on the appeal.

Ooops 391 – A former Aggie yell leader teaches how to embarrass his state before the entire nation. The class meets a dozen times, with a final exam on the 10th and last session. This same professor explains how to be guarded by DPS troopers in Paris while an arsonist burns your mansion in Austin because there aren’t enough DPS troopers to guard it, with its ever-popular spin-off lecture series, Charge It to the Taxpayers.

Sul Ross University’s Home Economics Dept. now has Accounting 101. Future CPAs learn how to cook the books, turn portfolios into toast and butter up the SEC. This same department offers gourmets a special foodie’s study: Road Kill Under Tire and Glass. Includes on-the-job training lab near US 90 outside of Alpine. Texas Woman’s University is considering a remedial class: It’s WOMAN’s University! Singular possessive! A Texas A&M professor of lenguesticks teaches Speeleng Fur Beginurs in which Aggies learn how to spell SEC.

Myths of Texas — Unicorns, Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman lecture on the last sighting of a Texas Democrat. The University of Phoenix depends on several offices in Texas not to mention 12-million home computers which serve students with such fields as Hot-Wiring Made Easy, Earn Big Bucks as a Bus Boy, Your Future as a Valet Parker and All You Need to Know About Resume Writing From A to B.

UTEP’s Bernie Madoff College of Business offers a seminar on how to run your own company into bankruptcy: Enron for Dummies. It’s an on-line course you can take right in your own cellblock. UTSA’s College of Liberal Arts proudly presents Math for Meth — a combination calculator and lab class. Also: A River Runs Through It – A new look at Texas’ immigration policies. In-state tuition approved for illegal aliens (English sub-titles).

The Texas State Board of Education unveils several new required courses for college-bound students. The Wheel – Is It Really Necessary? Evolution – Fiction or Fiction? Did God Mean for Man to Fly? A Fresh Look at Hieroglyphics, and for those future co-eds: Fashion Trends in Burkahs. All courses on animal husbandry were banned as “they sounded kind of kinky.”

The Texas Legislature has authorized Abstinence Makes the Crowd Grow Larger 102 – Students explore any link between abolishing family planning clinics and birth control programs with Texas having the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. Extra credit for linking mandatory sonograms with the vast increase in Medicaid and Food Stamps.

Rice University launches Student-Athletes 303: Do we really need athletes as students? The University of Houston launches its Student-Athletes 303: Do we really need students as athletes? Sam Houston State University’s Dept. of English has a new offering: Bushisms 303, in which students learn actually true and memorable quotes from our 43rd president including: “We ought to make the pie higher.” “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” and, “It’s clearly a budget, it’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

We spoke earlier of those liberal profs who are teaching how overblown, right-wing and backwards we are. They have classes entitled Mess With Texas, Rednecks and Gun Racks — No Place But Texas and Santa Anna Was Right (the proposed parallel course, A Fresh Look at Occupy the Alamo, has been postponed due to lack of police protection).

As we can see, there are still ample opportunities for our college students to be totally immersed in the state’s culture. Just remember, a Texas intellectual is someone who can listen to “The William Tell Overture” and not think of the Lone Ranger.


Ashby teaches Texas at

Bayou City Outdoors InfoSocial

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

March 27, 2012
Bayou City Outdoors InfoSocial
Sherlock’s (West Grey)
1952 W Gray St Houston, TX 77019

It’s Spring! Do something good for yourself and find out what Bayou City Outdoors has to offer. We’ll help you get out, get active and get social!

Members, non-members and guests – join us for an information-packed fall social and get to know Bayou City Outdoors. This is a great chance for new members to get acquainted and non-members to get the scoop. Already in the know? Just come hang out with your friends!

You can also stop by our BCO info table for:

    * New Members – come to the new member table and we will help you with any membership questions or show you how to work the website
* Non- Members – stop by the membership table and ask questions, get information – you can even join and get a special discount
* Events – Meet our Event Leaders and find out about upcoming events that may not be on the calendar yet!
* Gear – don’t have your ultra fashionable BCO t-shirts & jerseys?  Get them here
* Travel – Get all the information on travel dates coming up in 2012
Note, Sherlocks offers Bingo on Tuesday! Free to play and you could win a free bar tab!

6:30pm to 8:30pm My Fit Foods is providing snacks and there is a full bar with a  happy hour. Sherlocks—West Gray, 1952 W Gray St Houston, TX 77019. For more information call 713-524-3567 or

The Ritz Carlton Club and Residences

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Vail, CO


The Ritz Carlton Company continues to push the envelope by appointing Tom Hays as the first and only Wellness Concierge at the worldwide company. From his home base at The Ritz Carlton Club and Residences in Vail, CO, he says, ”wellness is very high on people’s list of what’s important to them.” The seed of the Wellness Concierge concept is to anticipate needs. There are so many trends, from hot yoga, Pilates, P90X to the Tracy Anderson Method, active spa goers can have their own, favorite routine. “We cannot provide all of those things internally, so our concept is to provide solutions,” he says. “I do not teach Pilates, but I will schedule it for you.” And so it goes, Hays offers consultations on nutrition, allergies and diet restrictions. “When you come to the Ritz, you should not have to change the lifestyle you are in the course of living,” he says. At the same time, Hays and his team help guests explore new healthy options.

What’s Hot Now?

Poolside Yoga “Sun salutations should take the cue from the early morning sun,” says Hays. When the sun is low in the sky, the temperature is cooler. “We salute the sun with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.”

Body Sculpting An older crowd attends this class because the focus is not on lifting weights, but using your own body weight to provide resistance. The class is filled with push-ups, pull-ups, planks and balancing on the stability ball. This low-key class doesn’t result in high sweat; rather, it focuses on neuromuscular training, injury prevention, toning and definition as opposed to physical, functional training.

Sullivan’s re-opens Thursday

February 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs

From Zaidi Syed, General Manager, Sullivan’s Steakhouse of Houston:

Less than 48 hours after a small grease fire caused minor damage to the Sullivan’s Steakhouse kitchen, located at 4608 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77027, the restaurant has re-opened for business. The fire, which occurred shortly before midnight on Valentine’s Day, caused no structural damage and resulted in no injuries. Repairs in the kitchen began immediately and the restaurant has been cleared to resume normal operations.

Dinner service will run as normal from 5:30 to 11 p.m. this evening, Thursday, February 16, 2012. Ringside, the lively lounge located inside of Sullivan’s Steakhouse will also swing into action tonight featuring the Buck Yeager Band from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Performances on Friday, February 17th include Nobody’s Fool from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m and on Saturday, February 18th a Mardi Gras party from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

About Sullivan’s of Houston Steakhouse:

Sullivan’s has been a local Houston mainstay for the last 10 years. Sullivan’s 1940’s styled steakhouse features the finest steaks and seafood, hand-shaken martinis, and great live music inside the Ringside jazz lounge. With 20 locations across the U.S., Sullivan’s offers comfortable fine dining in a lively atmosphere.

The bar boasts live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday and is graced with a beautiful baby grand piano, high-end cognacs, single malt scotches, and an incredible wine selection. Whether it’s for business, pleasure or both, Sullivan’s is quickly becoming Houston’s favorite local steakhouse.

Zaidi Syed serves as Sullivan’s General Manager along side Sullivan’s of Houston Executive Chef Teli Trikilis.

Sullivan’s offers lunch service Monday – Friday; 11a.m. – 2 p.m. and dinner service Monday – Saturday; 5:30 p.m. – 11p.m., and 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Sundays. Ringside is open Wednesday – Saturday; 8:30p.m – 1p.m. To make advance reservations for dinner or special events in the wine room, call (713) 961-0333.


Ten Thousand Villages hosts 6th Annual Rug Event

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Fair Trade Rugs are Coming to Houston!
Ten Thousand Villages hosts 6th Annual Rug Event
March 7-11

The always popular Fair Trade Oriental Rug Event returns to the Houston Ten Thousand Villages
store on March 7-11. For 5 days only, more than 300 luxurious hand-knotted Bunyaad rugs will be
on display and available for purchase at this unique annual event.
From intricate florals to hand-spun natural dye wool tribals, every Bunyaad rug has been designed
and hand-knotted by highly skilled and fairly paid adults.
“When artisans know they are paid for every knot they tie, they are empowered to focus on the fine
details of intricate rugs that will last for generations,” says Yousaf Chaman, Bunyaad Director.
Bunyaad works with over 850 families throughout 100 villages in Pakistan.
An Introduction to Oriental Rugs seminar will be held at the Houston store on Thursday, March 8 at
6 p.m. The one-hour seminar is ideal for anyone considering an Oriental rug purchase or who would
like to learn more about the art of Oriental rug making, rug care and even room design.
Refreshments will be served and admission is free. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
“It’s a win-win situation” said Cassie Martin, store manager. “Artisans in Pakistan earn a living wage
and North American consumers get an excellent quality rug with an excellent mission behind it.
Home decorating was never more beautiful!”
To make a reservation or for more information about the Ten Thousand Villages Oriental Rug Event,
please contact Cassie Martin at 713-533-1000 or visit

Federal Workers

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby


As long as there has been a federal government, we have heard that, while the pay is not real good working for Uncle Sam, there are wonderful health care and retirement benefits that even up the total package, so just don’t pay attention to the pay. However, we now find out that things have changed. These days the average federal non-military worker earns about 2 percent more than a private sector worker in a comparable job.

If we tack on the feds’ generous pension system, our government (or “gub-ment” as we say in Texas) civilian workers are making out like bandits – 16 percent more pay and benefits than the rest of us. Overall, the average benefits package for federal workers, including health insurance and a defined benefit pension plan, costs the government about 48 percent more than for private sector workers in comparable jobs. (To me, it is unclear how these workers are making 16 percent more but cost the government 48 percent more. Maybe they get annual bonuses or overtime on weekdays.)

These figures are an over-simplification; of course. We can’t really make sweeping statements about our 2.3 million civilian federal government workers, or 1.7 percent of the U.S. workforce. But in a nutshell, starting at the bottom on the federal pay scale, you are doing better compared to your cousin who works for Exxon. But when you get to the upper scales, like engineers and doctors, you could make more in the private sector.

More precisely, lower-skill federal workers with a high school diploma or less make 21 percent higher wages — about $4 more an hour — than private sector employees in similar jobs. What’s more, the federal worker-bees have far better health and pension benefits than their comparable colleagues in the private sector. Moving up to the mid-pay scale, for workers with a college degree, private and public sector wages – just wages — are about the same, but the government’s benefits package means overall compensation is about $7 more an hour, on average.

Looking at the tip-top of the federal pay ladder, the government has difficulty competing for highly qualified workers like doctors and engineers because federal pay isn’t as high. Indeed, federal workers with a professional degree or a doctorate earn, on average, 23 percent less than private sector employees. However, the government offers far greater job security, especially in these days of down-sizing, layoffs and firings. (We learn all of this from a study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which, by the way, is itself a government agency. Hmmm.)

The easiest way to spot the disparity in private vs. public pay at the top levels is watching federal trials. Bernie Madoff or some Wall Street slime-ball has those high-powered attorneys with their alligator-skin briefcases and $2,000 Armani suits facing some poor just-out-of-law-school lawyer making Food Stamp pay. No wonder we the people lose most of these trials. The Dept. of Justice is simply a training ground for future lawyers who can jump over to the private sector. Those who are left wear alligator-skin suits.

Total compensation for civilian federal workers costs roughly $200 billion a year. Their pay has been frozen for the past two years because of our useless attempt to balance the budget. President Obama proposed lifting the pay freeze next year but limiting the increase to a small 0.5 percent hike. However, the House voted to keep the pay freeze for another year. Congressional pay stays at $174,000 a year plus benefits such as travel allowance, office expenses and campaign contributions, aka bribes.

It is considered cute to dump on our government workers at all levels, but these sweeping put-downs — usually by pols running for office so they, too, can be a government worker – are cheap shots, if you can consider $200 billion cheap. Most of us have little directly to do with the federal government. My only one-on-one is my postal delivery person, who is excellent. Incidentally, the U.S. Postal Service does not – repeat, NOT – get any of our tax money, unlike Newt Gingrich’s pension.

The key to these comparisons is, of course, “comparable jobs.” I made $80 a month as a Marine infantryman. Is there a civilian position that entails the same skills with comparable pay? Maybe those of a Mafia hit man. We pay the president $500,000 a year. The job has perks — Air Force One leaps to mind – and drawbacks, as Lincoln told Kennedy. Could the CEO of our federal government pull in more as a hedge fund chief?

We need to determine the civilian equivalent of an FBI undercover agent or lighthouse keeper before we can compare pay. You’re a DEA agent, armed with a government-issued cap pistol, waiting all night behind a cactus along the border to apprehend 24 drug smugglers armed with howitzers. Is there a private rent-a-cop equivalent? Wal-Mart doesn’t hire moles to hack the Kremlin’s laptops. GM apparently doesn’t have anyone to cook the books, like Congress does. Even our largest companies don’t do what our feds do. We can’t compare Apple to Agent Orange.

Studies show no child ever said he or she wanted to grow up to be a bureaucrat, but if we like those Social Security checks, Medicare payments and some guy in a white lab coat inspecting dead chickens for e-coli, it’s a good thing somebody scratches our itch. So it appears our ire at Washington is misplaced. It should be directed towards those hypocritical dirt bags we elect, and re-elect, to Congress. But we mistake their incompetence for those of all federal employees.

I always wanted to print up a bumper sticker: “The Alamo Was Defended By Gub-ment Workers” or maybe: “Man on the Moon — Close Enough For Government Work.” Here’s one: “’Fed Up’ Was Written By a Loser.” “Where’s the Tomb of the Unknown Whiner?” So, Mr. Wannabe Congressman or Miss Talk Show Radio Screed with your daily put-downs of our federal employees, deliver your own damn mail.


Ashby governs at








Bayou City Outdoors Meet & Greet

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

March 22, 2012
Live Oak Bar & Grill
10444 Hempstead Highway. Houston, Texas 77092
6:30 – 9:00PM

By popular demand, Bayou City Outdoors has an awesome Meet N’ Greet planned at Live Oak Grill & Bar. We’ll have the entire deck to ourselves and a happy hour menu for food and drink from 6:30 – 8:00PM. March is the month to get out and get active – our mantra! So join your fellow BCO members for a cool happy hour at Live Oak Bar & Grill.

6:30 – 9:00PM. Live Oak Bar & Grill, 10444 Hempstead Highway. Houston, Texas 77092. There is plenty of parking in the lot. Details and RSVP at or call 713-524-3567

The Spa at Four Seasons Provence

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog


Var, France



The luxury, five-star resort is continuing to reinvent its wellness initiatives by offering a six-day, all-inclusive package.

What’s Hot Now?

Personalized Well-Being Program This six-day experience focuses on daily fitness regimens, slimming spa treatments and healthy cuisine. The package also enlists a nutritionist to create a balanced and complete plan for each person. Three hours of fitness instruction and one hour of guided meditation per day are included. Some of the fitness programs include Pilates, Body Sculpt, Aquafitness, Stretching, Fitball and Posture and Aquagym.

Untermeyer to receive AJC’s human relations awar

February 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

with special guest George P. Bush
Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11:30 am Omni Houston Hotel

Ambassador Chase Untermeyer will receive the American Jewish Committee’s Houston Human Relations Award on Monday, April 23 at a luncheon where George P. Bush will speak. Honorary chairs of the luncheon at the Omni Houston Hotel are President George H.W. and Barbara Bush.  Ambassador Untermeyer has worked and befriended the Bush family since he interned on President George H. W. Bush’s first congressional campaign.
Chairs for AJC’s Human Relations Award luncheon are past award recipients Charles Foster and Ned Holmes, along with Bobby Lapin.  Untermeyer will be honored for his life-long commitment to public service and engagement in public affairs along with his professional and volunteer achievements.

AJC’s executive committee and past president’s council noted in Untermeyer’s selection that he personifies the values and ideals of AJC – namely, his devotion to community service, and his sense of responsibility to the community.  He is an inspiration to us as he continues to successfully balance his dedication to family, public service and professional life.

Untermeyer has invited George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and grandson of former president George H.W. Bush, to speak.  Bush returned from serving in Afghanistan last year and is deeply engaged in public service.
Untermeyer has been an international business consultant since returning in 2007 from Qatar, where he served three years as United States ambassador on appointment of President George W. Bush.

Ambassador Untermeyer has held both elected and appointed office at all four levels of government – local, state, national, and international — for more than 35 years, with work in journalism, academia, and business as well.

He is a 1968 graduate of Harvard College with honors in government. During the Vietnam War he served as an officer in the United States Navy aboard a destroyer in the Western Pacific and as aide to the commander of US naval forces in the Philippines.

Returning to Texas, Ambassador Untermeyer was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle for three years before becoming executive assistant to the county judge (chief administrative official) of Harris County, Texas, the jurisdiction surrounding Houston. In 1976, he was elected to the first of two terms as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

He left the Legislature in 1981 to go to Washington as executive assistant to then-Vice President Bush. Three years later, President Reagan appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs. When George Bush became president in 1989, Mr Untermeyer returned to the White House as Director of Presidential Personnel, responsible for advising the President on his appointments to federal office. In 1991, President Bush appointed him Director of the Voice of America, the overseas broadcasting arm of the US government, where he served until the end of the Administration in 1993.

Back in Houston, he was director of public affairs for Compaq Computer Corporation (since merged with Hewlett Packard) and vice president for government affairs and professor of public policy at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Ambassador Untermeyer is a member of the Texas Ethics Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a member of the boards of the St Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities and of Harris County Precinct 1 Street Olympics. In previous part-time public service, he has been member and chairman of the Board of Visitors of the US Naval Academy, a commissioner of the Port of Houston, president of the Houston READ Commission, a member of the board of National Public Radio, member of the Defense Health Board, and chairman of the State Board of Education, appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush.

During his tenure as education chair, Untermeyer traveled with other Texas political officials to Israel with the Jewish Federation’s CRC.
Reservations for the luncheon may be made by calling AJC, 713 439 1202.


February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

So these three Texas ranchers are sitting around a saloon and one says to another, “What’s the brand of your spread?”

“Double Bar T. What’s yours?”

“Rocking Y.” He turns to the third rancher. “And yours?”

“Double G Rocking E triple O Bar J running 6.”

“How many head you got?”

“Not many. They don’t survive the branding.”

Those days may be over as the feds are trying to get ranchers to stop branding and start ear-tagging. What’s next? License plates on our stagecoaches and inspection stickers on our saddles? Get a rope. Wait, before you become irate about Washington interference and micromanaging the back 40, let me explain. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is proposing that adult cattle which are moved across state lines start wearing ear tags with an ID number instead of, or in addition to, a brand. Rustlers think twice about stealing that cow with those fabulous earrings, plus if any disease breaks out among the cattle the feds can easily spot the ranch, lot, owner, etc.

Some ranchers already use ear tags and they are increasingly important in exports to other countries, which account for about 15 percent of American beef and just over $5 billion in sales. Japan and South Korea both require electronic identification tags that verify the animal’s age and place of birth. The tags, which are stapled into an animal’s ear, are also less painful for the cow. OK, now you can get irate.

Some ranchers already are. An earlier federal proposal met with heavy flak and was shelved in 2009. This time the department received close to 1,600 comments on the proposed regulation, many of them negative. “Pilgrim, you’ll get my branding iron when you pry it from my hot, dead fingers.” Opponents note that rustlers can easily snip off the tags, but brands, like diamonds, are forever. Even if the brand is changed, the inside of the skin shows the change. Of course, you must skin the cattle to find out, which definitely lessens its value.

Here in Texas we have the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), a 134-year-old organization which rides herd on brands. You probably have seen those association signs on the gates of ranches, just next to the hanging tree. There are more than 15,000 beef cattle producers, ranching families and businesses in the association who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle (Texas has 13.3 million) on more than 51 million acres of range and pasture land. That’s a lot of horns and hoofs.

It is the only private organization I know of with its own official and authorized police force: 29 peace officers are commissioned by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Those rangers stationed along the Red River are dually commissioned to investigate agricultural crime in both states. Each year they investigate some 1,000 cases and recover an average of $5 million in stolen cattle and assets. Their job description is neatly ticked off by the TSCRA including, somewhat ominously, “keep the peace.”

You might be surprised to know there is no official state branding registry in Texas. It’s all done by the counties (at one time the office of hide and cattle inspector was an elective county office), but the TSCRA knows everything brand-wise. Now let’s learn branding. First, hold the cooler end of the iron. Where on the cattle you put your brand is just as important as the brand itself. The most popular spot is on the back left side. I recommend anywhere that the bull can’t gore you, and use a 45-foot handle. Brands can be handed down through the generations if you have proof Uncle Oscar wanted you to have his brand. They have to be re-registered every 10 years, and right now is the window of opportunity — the re-registration period began Aug. 31, 2011, and closes Feb. 29, 2012. You have to register in person because it’s hard for the county clerk to read rocking Js and flying Zs on his Dell.

This brings us to brand-speak. If you want to fit in with Luke, Slim and Pea Eye at the campfire, take notes: a leaning letter or character is “tumbling.” In the horizontal position it is “lazy.” Short curved strokes or wings added at the top make a “Flying T.” Short bars at the bottom of a symbol make it “walking.” Changing straight lines into curves makes a brand “running.” There are also rocking, bars, rails and slashes. Some ranchers were more inventive. A picture of a fish marked the cattle owned by Mrs. Fish of Houston. A. Coffin of Port Lavaca used a picture of a coffin with a large A on it. Bud Christmas of Seminole had his XMAS brand.

We all know the stories of the XIT brand, and the famed Running W of the King Ranch. Don’t forget the ranch with the unlisted logo: the Mavericks. There must be brands for ranches such as the Flying Dutchman, the Lazy Susan, the Rolling Stone and the Double Dipper. I knew a Jewish rancher who owned the Bar Mitzvah. Does Rupert Murdoch own the Fox CEO?

But the feds are trying to strike down what J. Evetts Haley called “the heraldry of the range.” I’d hate to see an end to the sizzle and smell of burning hide and the squeals of delight from joyful calves. Besides, it’s hard to make a James Avery pendant in the shape of an ear tag. Just doesn’t have the same pizzazz.

This Texas rancher is driving down roads in rural Vermont and spots a farmer leaning on a fence. The rancher pulls up and asks, “How big’s your spread?”

“Ten acres.”

“Son,” says the Texas rancher, “I can drive for three hours and not get to the end of my land.”

The Vermont farmer replies, “Yeah, once I had a car like that.”


Ashby brands at





February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog



Spas across the country are offering their own version of B & Bs. But, at the MOKARA spa at the Omni Hotel in Houston, B&B stands for Brow Designs and Blow Outs. Typically, you would have the brow boot camp and the blow out simultaneously.  The brow boot camp is completely customized based on the state of your brows. The blow out bar styles can be customized based on your lifestyle, or whether or not you are on your way to a special event.

What’s Hot Now?


Brow Boot Camp According to Spa Director Laura Latronico, “The brow design experience is a definite way to enhance any woman’s face, in a fashion-forward, non-invasive atmosphere.” First, meet with a brow specialist who leads “boot camp” for unruly brows. The shape of your face and brows are analyzed and shapelier brows are designed. She pencils in your new shape, showing proper angle or arch. If applicable, a “no-tweeze zone” is identified.

NuFACE Facial Toning True magic happens via “NuFace.” Some call this handheld device a “Pilates trainer for your face.” The tiny machine delivers small electronic pulses to the forehead, eyebrows, and upper and outer eye, re-educating muscles and giving tired eyes a lift.

Blow Out Bar Treat yourself to a shampoo and blow dry. We all know our hair looks best when coifed by an expert. This is a perfect pick-me-up for active spa goers.

Armani Collezioni Pre Fall/Fall 2012 Trunk Show

February 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

March 29th-30th at Elizabeth Anthony / Esther Wolf (1180-08 Uptown Park Boulevard, Houston, 77056)

THE SKINNY: The iconic Italian brand, Armani , has developed an exclusive line of ready-to-wear pieces called Armani Collezioni  . The line was launched by designer Giorgio Armani, and features stylish products with loads of contemporary appeal. The luxurious ready to wear garments are made with precious fabrics that are perfect for leisure-wear and work. This collection stands out for its elegance, attention to detail and fine finishes.

For more information, please visit or call 713-622-1331.

FOTINI Trunk Show **Designer Personal Appearance**

February 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

March 8th-9th at Elizabeth Anthony / Esther Wolf (1180-08 Uptown Park Boulevard, Houston, 77056)

THE SKINNY: FOTINI is passionate about creating garments that have intricate finishes while reflecting her love of corsetry in an assortment of pieces. Using the finest Italian fabrics and French lace, FOTINI brings body-skimming collection of dresses, suiting and evening clothes to the fashion forward consumer.

For more information, please visit or call 713-622-1331.

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