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A Taste of Spain: A Memorable Spanish Dinner Party

10 Most Beautiful

By: Warner Roberts

Traveling to Egypt Top Five Places to Visit in Houston

Leila Perrin

Ben Berg

The Grand Hall At Deer Lake Lodge

Rustic elegance & country charm!

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Top Five Trails in Houston.................... 14 Top Five Places to Visit........................ 20 10 Most Beautiful.......................................24 Investing in Children’s Education..... 30 Egypt...............................................................32 A Taste of Spain........................................38

In Every Issue

Editors Letter................................................ 4


Erica Rose’s Celebration.......................... 7 Bill King Wedding.....................................10 Billboard Bride.............................................17



A Night at Studio 54.................................. 6 The Mission of Yahweh Inaugural....... 8




Celebrating 40 years of bringing engaged couples and bridal businesses together

Attend America’s biggest bridal show! January 20-21 and July 13-14


Photography by WDR Imagery




Wanderlust Ever wondered how many people out there have managed to set foot in all fifty states? It’s a thought that only struck me when one of our colleagues crossed paths with a journalist who was on a mission to do just that. It really makes you ponder, doesn’t it? How many states have I personally checked off the list?

Photo by Ivan Garcia Studio


A Taste of Spain: A Memorable Spanish D i n n e r Pa r t y

10 Most Beautiful

By: Warner Roberts

Traveling to Egpyt Top Five Places to Visit in Houston

Leila Perrin

Ben Berg

ON THE COVER Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell Leila Perrin Ben Berg EDITOR IN CHIEF Laurette M. Veres MANAGING EDITOR Rebecca Palmer COPY EDITOR Angela Ramirez Tom Flynn

Back in the day, we didn’t have the luxury of note-taking apps on our smartphones to jot down these memories. So, was that meeting I attended back in ‘95 in Minneapolis or the state of Minnesota? Did we happen to cruise through Kentucky on that family road trip from Ohio to the heart of Texas when I was just a seven-year-old? And wasn’t I the plus-one at that wedding in Salt Lake City? Here’s a little advice for the young folks out there: Make it a habit to jot down every place you visit, whether it’s within the good ol’ USA or on foreign shores. Just before our recent weekend getaway, my husband realized he’d been to forty-nine states, with Maine being the last frontier. So off we went. The moment you touch down in Maine, you can sense the tranquility enveloping you. Drive in any direction, and you’re treated to the breathtaking sight of trees adorned in the fiery hues of red, orange, and yellow. Along the country roads, you’ll find firewood up for grabs, priced at a mere $3, all thanks to the honor system. As you journey from one charming town to the next, the road signs proudly declare their establishment dates, a testament to the rich history that lies within each. These towns are a picturesque delight, boasting elegant homes, white churches with soaring steeples, and vistas of the sparkling waters. Kennebunkport embodies the quintessential Maine experience. We didn’t catch a glimpse of former President George W Bush, but we did revel in the stunning beach views. There’s this renowned church right by the water, offering an outdoor spot with benches that seem tailor-made for a bride and groom. The marina sits at the heart of the town, and the line outside The Crab Shack, smack dab in the middle of it all, winds around the block. Why, you ask? They serve lobster for just $6.95 a pound! Who wouldn’t be willing to wait for that? And then there’s the Acadia National Forest, perched right on the ocean’s edge. Those colossal rock formations? They lived up to the hype. So did the beach. We whiled away hours exploring both. Initially, the kids wanted to skip stones across the bay. But when they laid eyes on those mini-boulders, it was time for a trip to the bridge. The satisfying splashes and echoes brought smiles that lasted for hours. “Wow, this national park is a blast. Maybe even more fun than a video game. Well, almost as fun as Minecraft, at least.”

CONTRIBUTERS Rebecca Palmer Angela Ramirez Priya Benny Warner Roberts Nikola Meyer ©Copyright 2023-2024



On location Maine’s Kennebunk


Redefine domestic bliss. Nothing compares. S OT H E B YS R E A LT Y.C O M

© 2022 Sotheby’s International Realty. All Rights Reserved. Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark and used with permission. Each Sotheby’s International Realty office is independently owned and operated, except those operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. All offerings are subject to errors, omissions, changes including price or withdrawal without notice. Equal Housing Opportunity. INSIDE HOUSTON


A NIGHT AT STUDIO 54 GALA Photos by: Daniel Ortiz and Wilson Parish

Children’s Museum Houston’s Saturday night fever raises the mercury with $1.1 million! Second time most money raised in Museum’s gala history! Chaired by Katie and Scott Arnoldy and Holly and Steve Radom Underwriting Chaired by Whitney and Ryan Burns and Allison and Ivan Chavez HOUSTON (Oct. 17, 2023) – Children’s Museum Houston (CMH) turned up the funk for this year’s “A Night at Studio 54” Gala presented by Phillips 66, exceeding goal and raising an astounding $1.1 million from underwriting and live auction on Oct. 14, 2023. This groovy evening event, filled with the stardust sparkle of a pulsating disco era, turned back the clock and transformed The Corinthian into the legendary Studio 54. Event chairs Katie and Scott Arnoldy and Holly and Steve Radom and underwriting chairs Whitney and Ryan Burns and Allison and Ivan Chavez invited Houston’s A-listers to turn the beat around and boost CMH’S educational and outreach programs. Nearly 600 guests sporting black-tie or disco-glam outfits (including bell bottoms, platform shoes, boas and funkadelic shades) went beyond the velvet rope, passed the ornate chandeliers, and rejoiced in the likes of “Andy Warhol” and “Liza Minnelli” to take in Bergner and Johnson’s vision of funkadelic-style glamour replete with shimmer and 70’s era red lips iconography. Partygoers dug on a multi-course feast of slamming delicacies catered by Jackson & Company. Then, they celebrated good times by hitting the dance floor and boogying down to the beat of the Drywater Band who turned up the Saturday night fever beneath the shimmer of disco balls.



During the live auction chaired by Mona Sarofim and Brittany Zeplain, guests had the opportunity to bid on exclusive and unique packages, including two rescued puppies which sold for $20,000 each; an overnight stay-and-play at Bluejack National donated by Katie and Scott Arnoldy, which sold for $8,000; an unforgettable dinner party for 24 catered by Jackson & Company inside the historic First National Bank vault in the basement of The Corinthian (donated by Jackson & Company, Bergner and Johnson and The Corinthian) which sold for $10,000, a private overnight birthday party in the Children’s Museum Houston, which sold twice for $15,000 each; an Ultimate Houston Sports Package which included Diamond Club tickets for the Astros, Lower Bowl tickets for the Rockets and 50-yard line club level tickets for the Texans (donated by Mona and Andrew Sarofim) which sold for $12,500 and a 14K white 2.97 carat white gold tennis bracelet from the Zadok Collection (donated by Zadok Jewelers) which sold for $6,000. This past year, CMH welcomed nearly 650,000 on-site visitors and impacted nearly 190,000 children and parents through outreach programming. For the last 31 years, the CMH annual gala has made it possible for the Museum to prepare children to be successful in school and to instill confidence in lifelong learning.

Erica Rose’s Celebration By: Priya Benny Courtesy Photos HOUSTON- Former reality TV star and founder and CFO of the Rose Sanders Law Firm PLLC, Erica Rose is a successful, inspiring attorney. Recently, her achievements were celebrated with a wonderful event at Momentum BMW. Harris County District Judge of 151st Civil District Court, Mike Engelhart, led the event as the emcee and shared an entertaining AI-generated poem about Erica’s personal and professional journey. Guests took their turn on the red carpet to answer questions posed by Brandon Robertson, before posing or taking selfies in front of a stunning wall of beautiful white roses serving as a gorgeous backdrop. Pictures were captured in an amazing 360 photo booth with video by Jamva Events. The flower wall was created by Lexis Florists for an upcoming episode of Erica and husband Charles Sander’s podcast Slaying Down The Law.



The Mission of Yahweh Inaugural

Leaders & Legends – Families on a Mission Gala Photos by: Daniel Ortiz and Wilson Parish

The Mission of Yahweh, a faith-based shelter that empowers, enriches, and restores the lives of homeless women and children, hosted a sold-out crowd of supporters for the inaugural Leaders & Legends Gala on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at River Oaks Country Club.

The gala recognized “Families on a Mission”: The Johnny Carrabba Family and Donna Vallone, who have shaped the Houston community through their commitment and service to others. Co-chairs Samantha Kennedy and Saula Valente, along with Honorary Chair Warner Roberts, were on a “mission” for more than a year culminating in raising more than $600,000 at the “Italian Dolce Vita” themed event.



Guests were entertained by the Strake Jesuit and St. Agnes orchestra led by conductor Guillermo Hernandez-Ching during the reception as they entered the salon through the walkway. Pre-function fundraising during the cocktail hour included surprise items from the Giving Tree, including restaurant gift cards, wine baskets, jewelry, theatre and opera tickets and more. Bidding started fast and furious on the Luxury Big Board led by Houston auctioneer extraordinaire Johnny Bravo for items such as handbags from Frances Valentine and by YSL, Astros Dugout tickets and Diamond passes, a Barbie High Tea for eight at Hotel Granduca, and more coveted packages. Emcee KHOU Great Day Houston’s Deborah Duncan drew guests to the ballroom to begin the program under an Italian veranda of real olive trees and fresh cut flowers of the autumn season from Plant N’ Petals. Centerpieces were curated with a touch of “buona fortuna” - meaning good luck - where delicate white hydrangeas and lisianthus were enhanced by warm golden ranunculus, tulips, and wax flowers. The whole arrangement was completed with wheat, grapes, lemons, and pears — typical fruits of the season, but also symbol of prosperity. The Reverend Mary Gracely, as always, provided a thoughtful and thankful invocation to begin the program.

Bravo kept the bidding going online into the seated dinner and up until he raised the roof with paddles up and the live auction following a moving video that highlighted the accomplishments of the Mission of Yahweh and the thousands of women and children that have received emergency shelter in a faith-based, nurturing environment while providing programs and the support to help them become more independent and lead productive, successful lives. The Mission currently serves 120 residents per day, which is at capacity, and they turn away thousands every year. When their new residential building is completed next year, they will be able to help an additional fifty residents per day. Gala Co-Chairs then took the stage to introduce the evening’s honorees, at which point both Vallone and Carrabba provided moving and at times comical stories of their experience in the Houston community and how much the community has given back to them and their restaurants. Honorees were gifted with handmade gold leaf heart awards by Houston artist Barbara Biel. Guests enjoyed the specially prepared Italian fare of Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Butternut Squash Puree, Braised Short Rib with Basil Pine Nut Risotto, Broccolini and Blistered Tomato, followed by Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta garnished with housemade almond macaroon, fresh seasonal berries and blueberry coulis. Topping off dinner was a surprise operatic performance by the Three Waiters – waiters that had been serving guests all evening, who were actually the entertainment in disguise. Their rendition of “It’s Now or Never” had every guest twirling and waving their white dinner napkins in the air! The Three Waiters, a professional vocal group with over 14,000 performances in 90 countries and winner of 14 International Awards, serenaded the audience primarily in Italian. Bravo took the stage once more to kick off a fiercely competitive live auction that included a package from the Astros Foundation of a first pitch, four diamond tickets, batting practice for four with a meet and greet with Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Jeremy Pena. The live auction also included a “With Gratitude” dinner for 24 at Carrabba’s or Grace’s, along with copies of Johnny Carrabba’s cookbook; a trip for two to Jackson Hole; an Amalfi Truffle Dinner for 12; Champagne, Caviar and Dessert Souffle for eight at Tony’s Restaurant; and an Afarin 18kt White/ Yellow/Rose Gold Intertwined Ovals with Diamonds on White Gold Chain Pendant necklace from IW Marks.

Many thanks and recognition for Niki Smith Little and her team at In Any Event for the exquisite planning, décor, and organization of a successful inaugural event for the Mission of Yahweh. Special guests on a mission included: Brigitte Kalai, Judge Meg Poissant, Kim Moody, Margaret Barradas, Nikki and Benny Agosto, Blanca Jolly, Regina Rogers, Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, Cora Sue Mach, Betty Hrncir, Sybil Roos, Lynnette and Jared Davis, Adrienne Crane, Janelle and Greg Reid, the Hon. Susan Soussan, Scott Evans, Eva and Paul Aruffo, Rini Ziegler, Lara Bell, Francesca Harrison, Texas State Senator John Whitmire, Houston City Council Member Amy Peck, District A, Judge Joe Stevens, Hon. David Medina and Judge Pamela Medina. For more than 60 years, the Mission of Yahweh has focused on restoring hope, transforming lives, and worked tirelessly toward ending homelessness in Houston. Since 1961, the Mission has helped thousands of women and children by providing emergency shelter in a faith-base, nurturing environment while providing programs and support to help them become more independent and lead productive, successful lives. In addition, the Mission provides outreach services to communities in need in the neighborhoods surrounding their facilities. For information visit .

Each dinner guest received a Saks Fifth Avenue Gift Card for a makeup party for five with Prosecco, and those with a special stamp on their program picked up an Italian Pandoro Melegatti cake on their way to valet. The evening was made possible by generous sponsors and underwriters including: H-E-B, Saks Fifth Avenue, Melegatti, IW Marks, Guillory Real Estate, Frost Bank, Danielle and Tucker Burkhart, Susan and Mark Ryan, Nina and Ed Hendee, Melinda Landsness, Kathleen and Pat Wood III, Pam and Ron Sterlekar, Joyce and Gus Pankonien, and Sybil Roos.



Bill King and Cheryl Bobbitt

Written by Sonia Soto Photos by Daniel Ortiz

Bill King and Cheryl Bobbitt exchanged vows at Chapelwood United Methodist Church on May 13, 2023 followed by a reception at the Houstonian. The guests danced the night away to the music of IDT. The beautiful wedding was coordinated by Scott Evans.





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Top Five Trails in Houston By: Rebecca Palmer Photography by: Rebecca Palmer

amby Nature Trail H Par lly e k K

There’s more to visiting Galveston than its charming historical architecture and beaches. Just a mile past the Galveston Toll road, entering Freeport, there’s a short 5.6 acre nature trail right off Bluewater Highway called Kelly Hamby Nature Trail Park. What makes this trail unique from other trails is that the trail leads to a secluded beach. The trail is a dirt ground in between shrubs, trees, and brushes that serves as a natural habitat for birds such as cuckoos. The dirt trail ends and the boardwalk begins the path towards the beach. The boardwalk path is low profile so the long grasses and wild flowers can be appreciated. At the end of the boardwalk, visitors can go to the viewing deck or take the side exit to the white sand beach!

nderosa Walking o P e Par Th k The Ponderosa Walking Park is an important habitat for the wildlife and is a hidden gem on the North side of Houston in Cypress. The moment you arrive, you will notice all the trees towering over the 20-acre park. The trail winds through the grassy areas leading to the forest, lakes and wetlands. The trails that lead to the lakes, convert into a rail-less boardwalk that extends into the lake, making guests feel as if standing on the water. The trees create a border around the lake allowing the guest to be completely surrounded by nature and get lost in the moment. While on the boardwalk, turtles and fish can be seen surrounding the boardwalk and swimming up to anyone who stands there. 14


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Right in the heart of Houston near downtown, the Buffalo Bayou Hike & Bike Trail cannot be skipped! The park is 2.3 mile long trail that offers the most beautiful scenes and skylines of the city. The park runs along the Buffalo Bayou and has several memorials along the paths. This trail is pet friendly for the dog owners in the city! There’s bike stations available along the trail to rent a bicycle and some water stations. The beauty about this trail is everyone can enjoy the nature side of Houston while also enjoying the city side.


On the West side of Houston going towards Katy, this hidden trail is just a little over 10 miles long. The Terry Hershey Park has on-road trails for lighter walks and off-road trails for those who enjoy nature hiking. The off-roads will lead to an adventurous track to the bayou under the bridges. For the kids, there’s a playground and plenty of open grass areas to play tag. Another cool feature of this park is there’s a sundial on the top of the hill that will tell the time with your shadow, (if the sun is out), when visitors stand on the right stone.

wn Nature Cent o t y er Ba The Baytown Nature Center is located in Baytown near the ship channel in East Houston. This is a longer trail for those who enjoy a longer hike! This location is not only a hiking trail but offers a variety of outdoor activities and educational services for the family. Visitors can expect to see protected wildlife such as birds and aquatic species during their visit. The vast land has a beautiful trail to enjoy a walk, four fishing ports, picnic areas and areas to go kayaking! The Baytown Nature Center also has a butterfly garden and a bird sanctuary that consists of 317 bird species. This location is a must visit for everyone! INSIDE HOUSTON















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The Billboard Bride Experience Written by Rebecca Palmer Photography by WDR Imagery

Get this Look:

Gown: Ventura’s Bridal Fashions Make-up & Hair: Donyale “The Makeup Artist” Photography: WDR Imagery Location & Floral: The Heights Villa Sponsor: Bridal Extravaganza Show



Meet our Billboard Bride Michelle Michelle’s Perfect Proposal Michelle and her fiancé Vincent talked about going to Italy to travel all around the country. On June 2023, they went to Sorrento, Italy. On their second day in Italy at Amalfi Coast, Vincent proposed the Michelle. He hired a secret photographer to capture the beautiful, picture-perfect moment.

The Experience Michelle has experienced the bridal show three times playing different roles in a wedding. The first time she went was when she was in junior high. She was going to be the flower girl at a wedding. It was an exciting experience as a young girl seeing all the dresses and beautiful wedding decor. Her second time was 2 years ago because her best friend was getting married and she was the maid of honor. Michelle’s third time was one month after she got engaged. She loved the experience as a bride-to-be because she was made to feel special and able to apply for Houston’s Billboard Bride. Michelle’s favorite part of the show was the fashion show because she was able to see all the beautiful styles of wedding dresses and she began to get ideas on what dresses she would love. She enjoyed meeting the different vendors, obtaining their contact information and taste testing the desserts available. Although Michelle has not begun planning her special day at the show, she had the opportunity to start making note of everything that is needed for her wedding day and is very excited to start planning her special day! When Michelle received the notification that she was chosen to be the Billboard Bride, she was sitting on the couch with her fiancé and she felt like it was an honor to be chosen among all the applicants. For her photoshoot day, she took her mom with her and they were both very excited and enjoyed the lavish experience. From the make-up to the hair, she enjoyed every moment of it. It made her engagement and her future wedding real. Michelle says, “it was an experience I will never forget!” 18


Photo by: Ulises Reyes

January 2025 George R. Brown Convention Center



The Top Five Places to Visit in Houston Written by: Rebecca Palmer

Courtesy Photo



Courtesy Photo

The Color Factory This quirky fun place to visit is definitely a must for anyone to enjoy the beautiful exhibitions of colors! The colorful building houses interactive exhibitions and each one is like stepping into a different world. The entire exhibition is self-paced, and this allows the visitors to take as many selfies or pictures as possible to capture the fun moments. Courtesy of The Color Factory, each exhibit has a couple of photo stations for visitors to take as many pictures as they’d like. The staff are very friendly and provide the best customer service experience as guests walk from one exhibit to the next. One of the best touches during the visit is the treats and souvenirs that are given to each visitor throughout the entire exhibit. There’s also a souvenir shop filled with cute wearables and snacks for purchase. The Color Factory is an exhibit to enjoy whether on a fun date or fun day with the family! Everyone can have a colorful time at The Color Factory!

Photo by: Rebecca Palmer

Photo by: Rebecca Palmer

Houston’s Graffiti Park Houstonians are known to be proud of their city. The city has come up with a creative method to allow artists from local areas or from afar to paint murals on an entire block near downtown! Whether driving around the block or parking to see the art up-close, viewers can enjoy the vibrant colors and unique designs. The murals depict how rich the culture is in Houston and the messages are strong. The most popular murals are of famous Houston rappers such as Paul Wall or Pimp C. The best murals to take pictures in front of are the pair of wings with “sky’s the limit” above them and the city buildings with “Houston” painted across it. There’s plenty more art to see and this is one of the best ways to dive into Houston culture.

Photo by: Michael Bonifaccini

Photo by: Michael Bonifaccini

The Post Take a drive to one of Houston’s historical places in Downtown. The post is a great place to go for a night out, a date night, an event, or to chow down on the wide variety of food available. Take a stroll inside to enjoy the sight of the artistically designed stair cases and open space. For the foodies, the market has delicious food from a variety of cultures along with dessert spots. The Post also serves as a venue for a variety of events, from rooftop concerts to art exhibits and the majority of them are free for everyone to enjoy. As if this beautiful place couldn’t be anymore awesome, it also has an accessible rooftop! The rooftop is a Skylawn with a garden. There’s plenty of tables and chairs for guests to sit and enjoy the front row view of the city. The Post is for everyone to enjoy. I N S I D E H O U S T O N 21

Photo by: Rebecca Palmer

Rooftop Cinema Club

The Rooftop Cinema Club is a one-of-a-kind movie-watching experience and it’s a must visit! The cinema sits on the fifth floor of the Blvd Place parking garage with colorful themes and backyard lounging furniture. Walking into the area, it’s hard to not notice the colorful chairs and backdrops made for picture taking sessions by visitors. This area is the hang out spot to enjoy the weather and views before the movie begins, order food or drinks, or simply socialize. After grabbing a pair of headphones and a blanket if needed, visitors will walk to the screening area, pick their seats and prepare to enjoy the movie. This cinema has a variety of movie showtimes throughout the week and they range from iconic movies to the newest in theaters. Everyone in the family can enjoy this experience depending on the showtime selected!

Photo by: Rebecca Palmer

Z on 23 Rooftop Bar

Z on 23 Rooftop Bar is a hot spot for those who enjoy the city views while relaxing with friends or significant other, having a cocktail in hand. Although the rooftop bar is part of the Le Méridien hotel, visitors can come upstairs to the 23rd floor only for cocktails and lounging. Visitors can come any time during business hours and still enjoy the breathtaking sky views along with the architecture of the city’s buildings. The area has a bar tucked at the end and the lounging area is wrapped on one side of the building, allowing room for plenty of tables and modern low-profile lounging chairs. Along with cocktails, savory food can be ordered if guests get hungry. Anyone looking for a nice vibe or simply a good time, Z on 23 Rooftop Bar is where the music and cocktails will keep you smiling! 22




10 MOST BEAUTIFUL HOUSTONIANs “A thing of By: Warner Roberts

“Beauty, like supreme dominion, is but supported by opinion.”

beauty is a joy “Beauty is in the eye forever. Its of the beholder.” loveliness increases. It e at Inside Houston will never define beauty as the ability to spread joy, lift spirits, pass into encourage and inspire, and nothingness.” we measure it by service to -Margaret Wolfe Hungerford


mankind. With that definition in mind, we present 10 Most Beautiful Houstonians who are not only physically captivating; they make our city more beautiful.

-John Keats

“Beauty is as beauty “Beauty is not in the face; “Beauty is bought does.” -Benjamin Franklin

beauty is a light in the heart!” -Khalil Gibran



by judgement of the eye.” -Shakespeare

-My Mother and Yours

Ann Ayre ANN AYRE is the owner and director of PTO Legal Search, Ltd., and as such partners with law firms and in-house legal departments nationwide to recruit attorneys to fill specialized personnel needs. A cellist during her youth, her love of classical music continues as a supporter of the arts. Ann believes it is important for everyone, especially children, to experience the enrichment music can bring to life. Dedicated to the Houston Symphony, she is a member of the Young Associates Council and served a two-year term as the chair of the YAC Steering Committee. She is a Board member of the Houston Symphony League, Special Events Committee, Collector’s Auction Committee, and the Houston Symphony Legacy Society. She and husband, Jonathan, chaired the Houston Symphony Wine and Collector’s Auction. Ann is a Trustee of the Moores School of Music Moores Society, and she has co-chaired its Music Concerto Competition. Photo by: Gittings

Lara Bell LARA BELL, with a background in television production, promotion, product placement, marketing and sales has moved easily into the role of publisher & editor of SWOON Media, LLC. Her community service work is a major part of her life. She serves on the Board of KidsMeals and 100 Women of Memorial. She is a member of the National Charity League, The Children’s Museum, The Houston Ballet Guild, Houston Symphony, The Houston Polo Club, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Trailblazer and Ranch Rodeo Committee and the Junior League of Houston. She has chaired and co-chaired innumerable charitable events, and her efforts have resulted in raising millions of dollars for Houston charitable organizations. In recent months she co-chaired Cattle Baron’s Ball, which raised over one million dollars for the American Cancer Society. She and husband, Brent Milam, have two children, daughter, Dylan and son, Brooks. 25 Photo by: Gittings


Ben Berg BEN BERG has, with seemingly lightning speed, established himself as Houston’s human dynamo restaurateur with his Berg Hospitality Group. Within a few short years, Berg Hospitality boasts, under its impressive umbrella, The Annie Cafe & Bar, Turners, B & B Butchers, B.B. Lemon, B.B. Italia Bistro & Bar, Trattoria Sofia, NoPo Cafe, Market & Bar, Benny Chows, Emilia’s Havana and The Ranch Saloon & Steakhouse, a first ever pop-up high-end restaurant at The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. During Hurricane Harvey Berg opened B & B Butchers to feed First Responders and for several years has continued to feed First Responders on Labor Day. During the Covid pandemic, Berg Hospitality hosted several drive-through barbeque fundraisers for his restaurant staff. To observe National First Responder’s Appreciation Day, Berg Hospitality and his crew hosted all on-duty Responders to a complimentary 3-course meal during lunch. Photo by: Gittings

Elsie Eckert ELSIE ECKERT is the founder of Elsie Smith & Associates, Inc., a Graphic Design & Branding firm. Her philanthropic mantra began in childhood when she accompanied her mother every week to volunteer at the Salvation Army, the County Children’s Home or at the church. She became a founding and lifetime member of BRASS, (Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists) to support student scientists with scholarships and funding. Elsie has Co-chaired Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Celebration of Champions “Runway for a Cure” luncheon since its inception 15 years ago. She is a Director/Board Member for the City of Houston’s BARC Foundation, as well as other organizations. Elsie acknowledges that it would never be possible for her to serve the community without the support of husband,



Photo by: Gittings

Michelle ‘CC’ Ensell MICHELLE ‘CC’ ENSELL is a third generation Houstonian and she and husband, Scott “Duke” are passionate about supporting organizations that are impactful in the community. She is a Board member of Best Buddies and The Heritage Society, Trustee for Houston Grand Opera, major supporter of Stages Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Performing Arts Houston, Houston Ballet, Hobby Center, Theatre Under The Stars, Citizens for Animal Protection, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Space Center Houston, Shriner’s Hospital and others. Her service includes chairing numerous events or working as a member of many auction committees. The Ensells have a blended family of four, Brandon, Grayson, Jordyn, Dylan and grandchildren Liam and Levi. Photo by: Gittings

Marilu Garza MARILU GARZA is an accomplished fundraising professional who has an extensive history of working with non-profit organizations. Currently, she is the Chief Development Officer for Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services. In the past, she has served as Chief Development Officer for the Center for Pursuit and as Director of Development at the Chinquapin Preparatory School. Marilu’s volunteer efforts are multitudinous. She currently serves on the boards of the following organizations: TEACH, American Leadership Forum and the American Cancer Society. She is an advisory board member of the Latin Women’s Initiative. She has previously served as the chair of the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Spring Branch Independent School District and an Executive Member of VICTORY. She is so proud of her daughter, Melisa Olsen, and grandchildren, Summer and Luke. Photo by: AI Torres Photography



Christine Johnson CHRISTINE JOHNSON is a native Houstonian, a proud Texas Aggie and proud mom to two Texas Aggie daughters, Taylor and Hollianne. Her commitment to creating unforgettable experiences has driven her 30 years of success as an accomplished marketing and media professional, implementing brand and revenue building strategies through the orchestration of highprofile initiatives for global brands, such as CBS Radio, Nabisco and Pillsbury. Christine is a founding member of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Grimes County True Blue Foundation. She and husband, Steve, created and oversee the annual Sunshine Kid’s John Walton Memorial Ride. Christine has served as Gala Chair for the Houston Fire Fighters Rotary Home, Helping a Hero, The Women’s Fund, Houston Achievement Place, the Escape Family Resource Center, and many others. She is a 20-year volunteer with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Photo by: Gittings

Samantha Kennedy SAMANTHA KENNEDY is a Managing Director for the Private Bank of America where she works with net worth families on all aspects of their wealth planning. Giving back to the community has always been a top priority. When a friend introduced her to The Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter for women and children, she volunteered in various capacities before chairing The Mission Gala in 2013. Thereafter she served on the Board of Directors for many years and presently serves on the Advisory Board. This month she co-chaired The Mission’s Leaders & Legends gala which has broken all previous records. Also, Samantha is currently serving on the Board of Directors of The March of dimes. She is a frequent volunteer for the Girl Scouts. She and husband, David, have two daughters, Amelia and Annabelle, and often enjoy volunteering at their schools. 28


Photo by: Gittings

Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell ROSLYN BAZZELLE MITCHELL is the Founder and Managing Attorney of RBM Law Group which she formed to provide personalized legal services. She is a frequent speaker on corporate real estate and intellectual property. Along with her friend, Kimberly Phipps-Nichol, Roslyn created RoKi Designs, which specializes in custom silk scarves and fashionable repurposed products made from vintage luxury materials with a benefit for non-profits. She serves on the Boards of Hermann Park Conservancy, CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), The Downtown Group; and she volunteers for Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program. Soon she will chair the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Concert and next year the Houston Ballet’s “Raising the Barre” dinner. Photo by: Gittings

Leila Perrin LEILA PERRIN retired in 2020 after serving 21 years as regional vice president of marketing for the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas where she was responsible for increasing public awareness and visibility for the 8,000 accredited businesses in an 18-county Bureau service area. For the past decade she has devoted much of her energy, expertise, dedication, resources, and love to serve Houston’s charitable and civic communities. Currently she is a Board Member and Executive VP of the Houston Symphony League, Board member of the American Cancer Society and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce; she serves on the Advisory Board of The Women’s Home and is the Nominating Committee Chair for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Previous board positions include Board President of Passages for Women, Inc. and Board member of Bo’s Place. She is also a 52-year member of the Junior League Houston. Leila has chaired and Cochaired innumerable charitable events and has been honored for her service many times.

29 Photo by: Gittings


Investing in Children’s Education

By: Angela Ramirez

There has been a teacher shortage across the United States. Over the past decade more teachers have been resigning while the number of education majors is declining. According to the Texas Education Agency 9% of teachers left during the 2020-2021 school year and over the 2021-2022 school year the attrition rate in Texas increased to 13.4%. The consequence of this shortage, is the classroom sizes are increasing and existing teachers do not have enough support in the classroom to assist each student with their educational needs. iEducate addresses this problem by providing trained tutors to assist in underserved classrooms. iEducate is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2013. The organization partners with districts in the Houston area to employ and train tutors. They provide support at several underserved schools. Their mission is “to educate today’s children while elevating tomorrow’s teachers.” iEducate hires both high school and college students to help them accomplish this mission. They employ more than 500 students during the school year.



The tutors assist accredited teachers in the classroom and provide one-on-one support to students in the form of small groups. During small groups, tutors go over lessons with the students, ask them if they have any questions, and use formative assessment to track student progress. An HISD teacher said that having tutors in the classroom supports student growth and allows for more one-on-one instruction. “It’s a lot of help,” said the teacher, “there is better discipline and a better school environment.” The program also provides recruits with sources and information on how they can become a certified teacher. The tutors experiencing the classroom setting get an opportunity to learn about different career paths in education. The organization also informs the tutors about potential scholarships available that can be awarded to aspiring teachers.




Egypt Photos and story by: Laurette Veres


rom the bustling chaos of Cairo to the tranquil banks of Aswan, Egypt is a treasure trove of wonder waiting to be explored. Venture into the tales etched in stone at Karnak and unravel the mysteries concealed in the Valley of the Kings. Brace yourself for a journey that transports you back to an ancient world where modernity and antiquity coexist seamlessly.



It was a moment we’d been waiting for with bated breath – we were about to enter the sacred grounds of the Edfu Temple in Edfu, Egypt, and we were the first and only tour group lucky enough to do so. “Hurry,” urged Ahmed, our guide, pushing us to snap pictures quickly. “This won’t happen again.” Throughout our expedition, we had encountered throngs of tourists at every temple, but this was a rare moment of solitude amidst ancient splendors. Our voyage of ancient Egypt and the Nile unfolded aboard the newest addition to the Viking fleet: The Osiris. On the eleventh day of our adventure, we achieved the Holy Grail of travel – a chance to capture a significant image without the photobombing tourists.

can be daunting, and security is paramount. Many of the excursions we embarked on would have been treacherous to navigate without the expertise of the Viking crew. From the moment you touch down in Cairo, the Viking staff takes charge, ensuring your every need is met.

Tick Egypt off your bucket list and see this captivating country through the eyes of your guide, an Egyptologist. Immerse yourself in the daily life of locals, tour magnificent temples, visit serene mosques, and explore intriguing museums. For an expedition like this, a cruise is the ideal choice, as the logistics INSIDE HOUSTON


The adventure commences in the capital city, Cairo, home to the international airport. From the base of the Fairmont Nile City, the pages of history come to life before your eyes as pyramids, citadels, and temples dot the landscape. Here are some of the standout highlights.

Cairo The Citadel of Saladin in Cairo is a UNESCO

World Heritage site, once the heart of Egyptian government until the 1900s. Don’t miss the Egyptian Museum, a must-visit for the infamous King Tut exhibit. At the Pyramids at Giza, you can check a camel ride off your list. Though you can no longer stand at the foot of the Sphinx, you can still pretend to interact with this enigmatic guardian from a distance.

Luxor A quick flight takes you to Luxor on the east bank of

the Nile River. Here, you board the Viking Osiris, embarking on a week of Nile navigation. Along the riverbank, you’ll encounter the ruins of two ancient temple complexes. Karnak Temple stands out, known for its sphinx-lined boulevard that once connected it to Luxor Temple. We were fortunate to witness Luxor in the evening when strategic lighting brought the carvings to life dramatically. Just across the modern-day Luxor lies the Valley of the Kings, a burial site containing tombs dating from the 16th to the 11th centuries BC. In 1922, the world’s attention was captured when King Tut’s tomb was discovered here. You can visit the tomb of the boy king and view his mummified remains. Deir el Bahari, a complex of mortuary temples and tombs on the west bank of the Nile, offers another awe-inspiring experience. In the Valley of Queens, take a private tour of Queen Nefatari’s tomb, one of the largest and most beautifully decorated graves in ancient Egyptian history. Despite being over 5000 years old, the vibrant colors on its walls could pass for artwork created just this year. 34


Qena Dendera Temple is one of ancient Egypt’s most

well-preserved temples and serves as a prelude to a week of temple hopping. Its distinct carvings, including a depiction of Cleopatra, and glorious structures are a sight to behold. Back on the Osiris, a red carpet awaits, and the friendly staff welcomes you with fruit juice and a refreshing towel. As we depart from Qena, we enjoy a drink in the plunge pool. INSIDE HOUSTON


Esna, Aswan, Nubian Village Esna offers a unique stop where you can explore the village on foot without the need for buses, horses, or boats. Witness local artisans crafting clothing and creating local delicacies. The lively market is a fantastic place to purchase authentic fabric.


The Aswan Dam stands as a reminder of the modern side of Egypt, showcasing the Nile’s vastness and the importance of control. If you’re in the market for silk, the souk in Aswan offers countless options. After shopping, hop aboard a traditional Felucca for a scenic sail back to the boat. As we set sail, we’re treated to a breathtaking sunset over Aswan.

Nubian Village

For many Viking guests, a highlight is visiting a local school funded by Viking. We had the chance to sit in a classroom and interact with school children. We also visited communal housing, where the family adds a floor to the house when a daughter gets married. Often, the top floor remains under construction while the family raises funds to complete it. We even had a taste of local culture as we were painted with henna (temporary body art) and sampled local honey. Later in the day, we arrived at Philae Temple by boat.




Viking excels at creating unique travel experiences, and Edfu was no exception. We were transported to the temple in Edfu via a horse-drawn caleche, offering an exhilarating ride through the village streets. A lively group of us watched as fellow cruisers sped past in their horsedrawn carriages.

The final day was a leisurely one, spent sailing down the Nile from Edfu to Luxor. Esna, often called the “land of minarets,” offered a mesmerizing view of mosque features seemingly dancing on the Nile’s reflection as we bid farewell. From here, a swift flight to Cairo marked the beginning of the long journey home. Egypt, with its ancient wonders and modern marvels, had left an indelible mark on our souls. INSIDE HOUSTON




A Taste of Spain:

A Memorable Spanish Dinner Party By Nikola Meyer Photography by WDR Imagery

¡Bienvenido! Step into a world of vibrant flavors with colorful elements as we share the joy and warmth of a Spanish-themed Dinner Party. When I think about Spain, it always reminds me of a summer vacation, hanging out at the beach, enjoying some churros from the street market and enjoying a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant on the beach. I wanted to share with others my wonderful experience by creating a beach-themed dinner party and used sand and seashells to decorate the table. We added a touch of color by having a beautiful vase full of vivid, colorful flowers. The most popular table was our self-serve Sangria bar! The sangria bar had a variety of sangrias to choose from along with different fresh fruits to add into your glass. Inspired by the beaches in Spain and love for Spanish cuisine and culture, let me take you on a journey to experience an evening filled with delicious tapas, aromatic paella, crispy churros and decorations that remind you of having a dinner at the beach of Spain.



Ingredients: • • • • • • •


Sangria White


strawberries lemons green apple club soda 1/3 cup brandy 750 ml bottle Spanish white wine Ice to chill

• • • • • • •

1. Add lemons, strawberries and green apples to a large pitcher and muddle with a muddler or wooden spoon for 45 seconds. 2. Add club soda and brandy and muddle again to mix for 30 seconds. 3. Add white wine and stir. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed. 4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. 5. Garnish with fruits and then it’s ready to serve.


Sangria Red Peaches Oranges Strawberries 3/4 cup pomegranate soda 1/3 cup brandy 750 ml bottle Spanish red wine Ice to chill

1. Add oranges, peaches, and strawberries to a large pitcher and muddle with a muddler or wooden spoon for 45 seconds. 2. Add pomegranate soda and brandy and muddle again to mix for 30 seconds. 3. Add red wine and stir. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed. 4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. 5. Garnish with fruits and then it’s ready to serve.

Rose • 1 bottle (750ml) of Favorite Rosé • 2 - 3 Sprigs of Mint • ½ - 1 worth of Lime juice • 150+ml of Orange Liqueur • 100ml Sweet Vermouth • 300ml quality Lemon Soda • Optional: 75ml Simple Syrup • Garnish: lemon slices, fresh mint, strawberry slices, orange slices 40 INSIDE HOUSTON

Preparation: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Get a large pitcher for mixing. Pour the bottle of rosé into the pitcher, add in mint sprigs, and the lime juice. Muddle thoroughly. Add the orange liqueur, lemon soda, and optional sweetener. Stir well. Allow to rest in the fridge for 4-6 hours.





Tortillitas de Camarones

(Spanish Shrimp Fritters) Ingredients:


• • • • • • • •

150 g fresh camarones (baby shrimp) 3/4 cup of flour 3/4 cup of chickpea flour 1 cup of cold water 1 small spring onion, finely diced Pinch of salt Good quality Spanish olive oil Fresh parsley finely chopped

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, chickpea flour, diced onion, chopped parsley, and a pinch of salt. 2. Add the cup of cold water and mix to form a smooth batter with a runny consistency. 3. Add the shrimp, and mix until the shrimp are covered in the batter. Leave the mix to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (this will help you get the mega crispiness in the fritters!). 4. In a large, shallow frying pan add olive oil to a depth of about 2 centimeters (just below an inch). Place over a medium-high heat. 5. Once the oil heats up, start adding tablespoons of the batter to the frying pan. The batter should expand and crisp up into fritters. Add enough fritters to fill the pan, without them touching each other or the edges of the frying pan. 6. Fry until golden brown, turning over halfway through to make crisp on both sides. 7. When ready, use tongs to remove the fritters from the pan, allowing excess oil to drip back into the pan. Gently put on a plate covered with paper towels. 8. Serve hot, season with more salt to liking. Notes: If you can’t get fresh shrimp, you can use frozen cooked shrimp, but make sure they are completely thawed and dried before cooking. If you can’t find chickpea flour, you can substitute the same amount of wheat flour. Just add a half teaspoon of turmeric to give the light yellow tinge to the tortillita.

Chorizo al Vino Tinto

(Chorizo in Red Wine) Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 pounds of uncooked chorizo • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil • 1 cup of red wine • 1 clove of garlic • 2 bay leaves • 1/2 cup chopped parsley to serve • 1 loaf of rustic bread to serve

Preparation: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Slice the chorizo into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chorizo to the skillet and fry for 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to boil. Swirl to dissolve any sediment from the chorizo, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the wine has reduced to a thick sauce. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley and serve immediately with bread. I N S I D E H O U S T O N 43


Recipe for 15 people Ingredients:

• 35 oz paella rice • Half a celery root • 6 bell peppers • 4 leeks • 4 onions • 25 oz green beans • 8 garlic cloves • 5 packets of Paella Seasoning (paellero) • 64 fl oz vegetable broth • Olive oil • Chicken, cod or clams/ mussels (or whatever fish and meat you like)

Utensils: • •

Preparation: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Grill paella pan

Cut the vegetables and grate the celery root Precook the green beans Sauté the vegetables in oil. Remove vegetables from the pan if using the same pan to cook the fish and meat. Sauté the fish and meat in the pan. Add paella rice with vegetables to the paella pan and mix well Spread meat, fish and mussels on the paella Mix paella seasoning with vegetable broth Pour vegetable broth over the paella until everything is covered Light the grill until it reaches a temperature of 400 ˚F

Once the temperature is reached, place the paella pan on the grill. The paella should be ready after about 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.



Churros Ingredients: • • • • • • •

For coating: • •

1 cup water 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 large egg 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Vegetable oil, for frying 1/2 cup granulated sugar 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation: For the coating: 1. 2.

For the coating whisk together sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Heat up vegetable oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. While oil is heating prepare batter.

For the batter:

1. Add water, butter, and salt to a large saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat 2. Add flour, reduce heat to medium-low and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together and is smooth (a few lumps in it are fine). 3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and let it cool down for 5 minutes. 4. Add vanilla extract and an egg to the mixture. Then blend until mixture comes together and is smooth (it will separate at first but keep mixing until it comes together). 5. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag. 6. Carefully pipe mixture into preheated oil and let fry until golden brown. 7. Transfer the churros to a paper towel to get rid of excess oil, then transfer to cinnamon & sugar mixture and roll to coat. INSIDE HOUSTON


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