Saturday, February 4, 2017

Reading ranks high for Super Bowl's New England Patriot Malcolm Mitchell

This morning my husband told me he finished two books already this year. To some that is a lot in less than two months, and to others they've already left that goal in the dust.

Honestly, I'm jealous. My Goodreads account looks like someone that can't commit. I can't even tell you how many books are still "in progress." Twenty-five, perhaps? I just started on a book on the Galveston Flood of 1900 from last weekend's plane ride, and now I'm itching to get back to a book on Catherine the Great.

As I was casually driving through the hills of Westchester County (I was lost), this story on CBSNews radio came on about New England Patriots' Malcolm Mitchell. I encourage you to read it and hope you encourage children and adults of all ages to keep reading - it's so important.

When Mitchell started college, he only had a junior high reading level! Now, he's an author and wrote "The Magician's Hat," a book for children. Also, thank you to the lady that invited him to be in her book club.

Again, here's the link to the story and maybe it's time for me to sit down and commit to those books more. Heck, maybe someone will invite me to be in their book club?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I'm Reading Today: Decor Ideas, Kozm-ic and Teenage Dreams Revisited

10 Decorating Ideas to Steal from the World's Most Stylish Restaurants (Apartment Therapy)

My immediate thought when I saw this title was, "I wonder if Sketch is in there?" Yep!

If you're ever in London, you just stop in for afternoon tea or in my case, some bubbles. It might set you back a few but it will be worth it especially when you have to go to the bathroom. You're welcome.

Speaking of ladies' rooms....

How Cinnabon President Kat Cole Went from Hostess to COO: 9 Tips for Success

I love reading about successful women and how they got to where they are. And, if you have a Linkedin profile, I will definitely be looking at it. Granted, time has flown this coop to get an MBA without a bachelor's degree for me but there are some insightful points on how to run 1,100 stores of gooey goodness.

Delivery Start-Ups Are Back Like It's 1999 (NYTimes)

Wow, remember Kozmo? I was hoping that it was going to happen especially with living in Austin at the time. I remember seeing signs for it in Los Angeles, too. But, nope.

Having just killed our Plated subscription (the veggies were arriving rotten a few too many times...hope you fix it!), I nearly felt compelled to use Burpy for grocery delivery so I could avoid the inevitable trip. We use Grubhub for very rare food deliveries (c'mon Houston, make food delivery a real thing with a low enough minimum for one person!) And, this whole delivery thing isn't so much about being lazy but about being more efficient and paying for convenience...ahem.

Revisiting Teenage Dreams (WSJ)

Oh, teenage Heather. Sometimes I still wonder about you! Any way, I really think my favorite part is what I've been told all along - you can never have enough education. And, don't look back! Keep moving forward. What would you tell your teenage self?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What I'm Reading Today: Ambition, Tacos, Coffee, Google, Humans

Here are some headlines that caught my eye today in Career, Food, Business and People...and explains the photos on Humans of New York...!

Dads' Housework Inspires Girls' Ambitions (Wall Street Journal)

Photo by vibeke b
More and more I am seeing fathers taking their children out and about than I ever saw before and I'm loving it. With roles in families changing, there's no doubt we are seeing more men in the kitchen, taking out the garbage, and making the beds.

Now, whether or not this really holds true - I still admire the hard work my parents did to raise a family. They both worked and I'm still trying to figure out how my mother always put steaming hot, delicious meals on the table at just the right time despite being at work at 7 a.m. and coming home around 5 p.m.

I'm also posing a thought: that your career can sometimes be pre-determined by what your parents did. What are your thoughts? Do you work in a similar field as your parents?

Taco Recipes from Saveur (Saveur)

I have yet to make a recipe from Saveur but tacos seem easy enough (right? I hope), this could be the start of a beautiful beginning. And, if you love, food, I love g

P.s. If you're looking for some good street tacos in Houston, please check out Tacos La Bala. Bring cash and your hunger.

McDonald's coffee to hit supermarkets (USA Today)

A few weeks ago, I had a cup of coffee picked up for me. They asked if I wanted three creamers in it. Three creamers? That's insane but it was too late.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Be a Houston tourist - How to go on an architectural treasure hunt

After spending a week in the historic Northeast where towns were vibrant before the U.S. was (and with a general fondness for history), I'm happy to have stumbled upon this article in Houstonia magazine highlighting just a smattering of some really great homes sprinkled throughout Houston. The homes featured range from nearly as old as our city to just recently erected.

Despite our city being a little younger than some of our East Coast friends, these walls still have plenty to talk about and there are plenty of ways for you to experience how those before us may have lived and how their caretakers live now. (See below for a list of Houston home tours)

A few tales of my own with some of the homes include:

I had the wonderful opportunity to put on events at Ima Hogg (now MFAH's) Bayou Bend. At the time, a few of her staff that had worked there when she was living would share some stories of the goings-on of Bayou Bend. One included an artist by name of Andy Warhol that was interested in visiting one of the bathroom's on the second floor. Ok...

Being a member of the Menil Contemporaries also landed a few invites to events at the de Menil home which is also one of the homes featured here. Plenty of Warhol's there, too.

Nash home in Westmoreland.
Photo by Ed Uthman
The one that is most memorable to me is the Nash home. For a few years, it looked like it was going into some serious disrepair (or at the least the exterior paint job was) and it was definitely a front runner for the home most likely to house the Addams Family. I'm happy to see it now looking back to its stately former self.

With Houston being a giant treasure hunt in itself, go on a treasure hunt of the city (of course, be mindful of owners/fences. some of them won't be accessible but you can at least get a feel for the landscape). Below you'll also find home tours that will be happy to have you step inside and see some real architectural beauty in Houston.

More ways to enjoy Houston residential architecture:
AIA-Houston Home Tour (Spring)
ArCH Walking Tours (year-round)
River Oaks' Garden Club Azalea Trail (March)
Eastwood Civic Association Home Tour (Fall)
Houston Heights Spring and Holiday Home Tours (Spring and December)
Houston Modern Home Tour (In January)
Houston Preservation Alliance Architecture Walks (year-round)
Rice Design Alliance Home Tour (April)
Southhampton Civic Club Home Tour (In December)

Have others? List them in the comments section!

What's your favorite home?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

6 Tips To Help Your NPO Achieve The Perfect Marketing Email

First of all, these tips assume that you have some sort of social media plan for your non-profit. If you don't, you may really need to hire someone to get you up to speed.

First off, this blog post was spun off 3 instances that occurred to me:
  1. I was on the host committee for a gala ($250 ticket was the min. price). The non-profit did not have capabilities of purchasing tickets online. I called the NPO and the woman on the other line said that the person in charge of ticket sales would have to call me back. What if I wasn't invested in the organization? Plus, she never called me back. Result: if it hadn't been a host committee member: ticket sale gone.
  2. I received an email with only an image in it. The image was not optimized for a mobile phone and it was in a really hard-to-read script.  What if a) I was reading on my phone and images weren't displaying? Info completely lost. No call-to-action available. Result: ticket sale gone.
  3. I receive an email with a From Line that says "unknown sender" - um, sketchy! Result: Subscriber gone.
Let's face it: 129.4 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in January 2013 (up 7 percent since October). (comScore Mobilens Report)

If you aren't optimizing for those people slowly rising from their sweet slumber to check emails, then you're way behind and need to catch up.

Get my 6 tips below!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Something About Mary

Mary Anne Pray said goodbye to the world on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 10:10 p.m. in La Jolla, California. She was born in The Bronx, New York on February 20, 1911.  Yes, she was 102 years old.

I think we all thought Grandma would live forever. No, really...we've all said it. She has physically proven otherwise. And, now we are coping with that fact.

We all have special people in our lives.  And even though we live in such a fast-paced world, I hope we take some time out to think of those people that have come and gone in our lives. If even for only a short time. Even if it is smiling to someone that's a stranger - it's really a wonder what that can do to someone. Or a hello or good morning as you run around the neighborhood.

Grandma is on the left and her sister
Evelyn is on the right.
Back to Mary: She was the only grandparent I really remember meeting. And, people say I look exactly like she did...which when she was around 90, I wasn't so sure...but the picture to the left shows where my dimples come from.

Mary was quite the woman. She was once a child like we all have been. A daughter, sister, wife, mother, widow, single mother, single working mother raising three children, parent that lost a child, grandmother, great grandmother and survivor of all the things life can throw at a person.

She was eight years older than her husband (Go Grandma! Back then, that was pretty unheard of) and bore three children. She accompanied her husband to positions in Holland, Greece and Washington, D.C. You think traveling sucks these days? Try thinking of what it was like when technology as we know it was still in its infancy. They were excited to just have a hamburger and an Elvis film, let alone all of the luxuries we are all accustomed to today. Then add three children on to that. I've seen family movies of those three. She was an angel.

When the centennial of Grand Central Terminal was recently celebrated, I thought, "wow, Grandma was born before it opened!" That was so many different, distinct eras! I know it sounds obvious but ...just think about all that took place in our world from 1911-2013...she saw it all.

She lost her husband in 1960 and never remarried. I honestly don't think she ever dated.  That also meant she needed to provide for her family - which she did - for 25 years at The Columbia University Hospital for Women in Washington, D.C.

She also raised a great man - my father.  She saw him sent off to Vietnam not ever knowing if he was returning. Thank God he did. She taught him to be a very kind, giving person that has given a lot to his country and to his own family. I will never be able to show my full appreciation for it but I will definitely try.

She never learned to drive. God bless her. She still made it to Catholic Mass, the A&P and to get her hair and nails done.

I was so lucky to get to visit her starting at the age of 7 as my parents let me fly up to New Jersey by myself.  Some of my happiest memories are being in New Jersey - it's not that bad, y'all. I still yearn for the trees and streets of Franklin Lakes and Wyckoff. Running down the railroad tracks and away from rabid dogs thinking that my last days would also be spent in NJ.

She taught me what the New York Times was and how to do crosswords. She also introduced me to the National Enquirer.  The lady read EVERYthing. She always knew what was going on in the world, too.

I will never forget her thick New York accent. We would always imitate her by saying, "Would you like some chawwwcolate chips?"  She made some killer chocolate chip cookies and macaroni & cheese.

In 3rd grade, I changed my name to be similar to hers.  First it was Mary Anne and then it somehow became Mary Elizabeth but I just wanted to have two names that went together like hers. 

She taught me to love Nantucket...I was fortunate to get to travel with her when I was 11. The woman was in her 80s and taking two preteens to Nantucket!!! I got to meet her sister, Alberta, see the family home in Beckett, MA, and just really get to know the woman that made this family succeed. I interviewed her, too. She held all of the family history.

She taught me how to love your family and those close to you. She grew up in a time where they didn't express their feelings or say things like, "I love you" as much as I think it should be said. I made it a point, even when she could barely hear, to proclaim it. I always wanted her to know that I love her. I know she felt loved and I'm grateful to my aunt and cousins that have been in La Jolla with her. Thank you, thank you. As time went on and she caught onto my "I love yous," she would say it at the end of the conversation. The last time I talked to her, she said it.

She came to visit us in Houston many times. When asked if she wanted any wine and she said, "No," we would always just say - "Grandma, no means yes!" And she obliged.

She introduced La Jolla, California to me. I'm so glad that was where she spent her final years. She had family there and it is a beautiful place to visit. I'm so glad I took time to go. I wish I had taken more time...isn't that what they say is one of the biggest regrets of the dying? Maybe time to re-evaluate.

Rest in peace, Mary. You were quite the woman and teacher and I will never forget you nor stop learning from you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2 bands to check out this week in Houston

As the next Sofar Sounds Houston approaches, I'm even more ready for great live music.  I'm so excited to see these bands play on the same bill!

They play Fitzgerald's on Thursday, February 21. 

Check 'em out, buy a ticket.

Foxygen - "Shuggie"
This Los Angeles-bred songwriting duo brings some fun to the current music scene. Anybody else think of Aquarius at all? Saw they had to cancel their Vegas show - hope Sam gets better. Yikes! 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)"
I will be wearing flowers in my hair for sure. This Portland, OR-based three piece puts themselves in the Psych genre.

Wampire opens the night. Purchase tickets at