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FEB / MAR 2012

Madonna’s Love Story: W.E.

Chef For You’s


95 to

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Contents February / March 2012 Volume 3 l Number 6


Chef For You’s Marcie McCutchen: The Ultimate in Personal Chefs This Sugar Land based chef has cultivated her passion for cooking and personal service into her business, Chef for You. Since opening in 1994, her business has grown by leaps and bounds allowing her to open a commercial kitchen where she cooks delectable cuisine for families, social gatherings, corporate events and everything in between!

Features 20 An Interview with Madonna Entertainment Editor Nick Nicholson interviews the Queen of Pop about W.E., her multi-layered love story that focuses on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Learn how she, through two years of research and writing, developed the script aimed to capture the essence of their romance and convey her interpretation of one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century.

32 Handcrafted at Your Fingertips: Etsy Local Artisans

Marcie McCutchen.

Handcrafted and vintage items are the essence of Etsy, an online marketplace promoting artisans and their goods. The easy-to-use interface has given artisans the ability to open a store front and allows consumers to gain personal interaction with them. Take a look at a few Houston-area women who have found success marketing – and selling – their handcrafted wares.

38 How Will You Look in the New Year? Susie Ainsworth goes to camp – Boot Camp – in her interview with Sara Oliver. Sara helps you make your New Year’s resolution to get fit come true with Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp. Join others who want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and get to work on your fitness goals!


focus on women

l February / March 2012


Non-Invasive Fat Reduction

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Contents pg



28 The List: Things We Love Fresh finds for fabulous women!

58 9 to 5 Beauty Basics Follow these can’t miss tips on make-up, hair and more for a stylish look that’s always appropriate.

59 Cowgirl Chic Get ready to Rodeo with stylish fashions from Anything Bling Boutique.




23 Eat Something Sexy Turn up the heat with five foods that you can find in your pantry!

chick flicks

19 What My Husband Doesn’t Know 54 absolutely! delicious Meet the restaurateur John M. Carrabba and enjoy a recipe for his delicious tiramisu.

25 Thunder Soul


inspiring women

36 How 2012 is (Apparently) My Personal Year of Service

An inspiring, true story based on the ragtag jazz band from Houston’s Kashmere High.

Tanya Sterling shares her insight into how she began her year by giving to others.

Chef Soren Pedersen uses an extensive selection of sophisticated choices to create a locally sourced menu.

26 W.E.

industry insights

financial savvy

35 Janie Jones

42 Hardee Investment Group Named as RBC Wealth Management’s Exclusive Portfolio Focus – Senior Portfolio Manager Group

Discipline is key in creating and maintaining a solid investment plan.

Follow this rocky journey of a hard-living band member as he learns what it means to be a dad.

Kudos to this exclusive group of advisors recognized for their portfolio management practices.

57 From the Farm to the Table, Ray’s Incorporates Fresh, Local Ingredients

24 Can We Talk?


Sparks fly when a handsome young plumber meets a lonely woman.


focus on women

Madonna’s beautifully crafted tale of romance based on the true story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

l February / March 2012

I chose MD Anderson in Sugar Land - Michelle Williams

When I had breast cancer, the world’s leading care was right here. My team of experts in Sugar Land focused only on me and my cancer. They guided me through advanced MD Anderson treatment options including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, clinical trials, and support services. They customized a plan just for me. Having MD Anderson in my community kept me close to my two boys and close to home. I chose MD Anderson in Sugar Land. Find Your MD Anderson today.

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well woman

44 Free Heart Smart Seminar and Screenings Learn the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes so you can help save lives.


18 Ask the Expert By Kimberly Cress, M.D. Can depression be a symptom of menopause?

48 Woman to Woman By Alisa Murray Build a brand new you by renewing your look in 2012.


30 Great Getaways: Huatulco, Mexico A gem on the Pacific, this relaxing getaway gives visitors a taste of old Mexico with modern amenities.

health & wellness

46 Weight Gain with Aging – What’s a Girl to Do? Eat often and get moving! Change your habits to match the changes your body experiences with aging.

64 The Last Word By Dero Pedero Celebrate life daily – forget saving the china, silverware and champagne for the future – enjoy it now!


50 Romancing Your Décor Set the scene for romance in your home 365 days a year.

stepping out with focus on women

51 absolutely! focus media’s Focus on the Holidays Party


52 Lessons Learned and Values Shared: Careers, Trends and Opportunities Just for Women



focus on women



Do women really get paid less than men for the same job? Find out in this insightful Q & A.

l February / March 2012


girl power

56 Female Educators: Role Models for the Past, Present and Future A look at four influential women who have helped shaped society today.

fine arts

62 The Seagull The Houston Ballet presents Cinderella TAO: The Art of the Drum Mythbusters: Behind the Scenes Tour Bayou City Art Festival The Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers

pearls of wisdom

43 Understanding Substance Abuse and Dependence Teresa Cox Reading, RN




exas Direct Auto, the nation’s largest independent car dealership located in Fort Bend County, is supporting this year’s Fort Bend Junior Service League’s (FBJSL) Charity Ball and Casino “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2012, at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square. Guests will experience “a night at the diamond.” This elegant gala will be an unforgettable evening enhanced by a sumptuous dinner, sensational music and dancing, casino games, a fabulous live auction, as well as a bid board and silent auction. Proceeds from the event will benefit Lunches of Love and the FBJSL Community Assistance Fund. Debbie Buckner, Co-Chair of the Ball stated, “We are excited to have Texas Direct Auto as a Diamond Sponsor of the 2012 FBJSL Charity Ball ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.’ Their generous support, along with that of presenting sponsor Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital and numerous others in the community, will help Lunches of Love continue to provide meals to children in need in the Richmond/Rosenberg area and will enable the organization to increase the number of children they are able to feed.” Lunches of Love, a community outreach program of First United Methodist Church Rosenberg, is committed to helping end childhood hunger in Rosenberg and Richmond by providing a free nutritious sack lunch Monday thru Friday during extended school holidays, including Christmas break, spring break and summer. Lunches of Love feeds children in need and those qualifying for the state’s free or reduced lunch program. Many children living in families facing food insecurity rely on school lunch as their only meal of the day; without Lunches of Love, these children would go hungry when school is not in session. Lunches of Love was launched during Christmas break 2009 and has quickly expanded

during that time, growing from initially feeding approximately 150 children each day to serving approximately 1,100 children each day during summer 2011. Funds from the Charity Ball will be utilized to sustain their current program as well as expand their program to reach even more children. For more information about Lunches of Love, visit Fort Bend Junior Service League

Charity Ball Diamonds are

a Girl’s Best Friend 2012

Come experience the glamour and glitter of the Fort Bend Junior Service League 2012 Charity Ball and Casino “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Purchase your tickets now and help provide nutritious lunches for these children! For your convenience, you may order tickets online at A variety of sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are available from $500 and up. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, to become a sponsor, or to purchase tickets, please visit or contact Charity Ball CoChairs Mandy Boudreaux, Debbie Buckner, Jessica DeMarr or Audra O’Neal at Presenting sponsor, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, has led the way for a growing number of individuals and businesses eager to join the team. Top sponsors include Texas Direct Auto, Ameriprise Financial Services, Shayne & David Newell, and Sweetwater Radiology.

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editor’s point of view I

Patti Parish-Kaminski, Editor in Chief

Dream Girls and Dream Big

W The absolutely! focus media Art Department Goddesses: Grace Belleza, Liz Pace, Patti Parish-Kaminski and Debi Beauregard.

ith the coming of the New Year, many of us take the time to reflect on our lives, our careers, our families, and set goals for ourselves. I, too, take a moment, albeit that’s all I generally have between work, children and family, to think about what I would like to accomplish over the next several months. As I’ve gotten older; however, I’ve changed my strategy. Rather than set goals, I like to envision dreams. I make a list of the things that I dream about doing or being. More than a few years ago, I dreamed of being a writer. I had written all of my professional life pieces for other individuals, but my dream was to write stories that I could share – interviews, insights – whatever was on my mind and whoever I found had an interesting story to tell. I realized that dream by writing for magazines, and today, I’m an editor of several magazines – something I confess I would have never dreamed of but absolutely love! And best of all, I have a talented dream team that I have the privilege to work with every day, and yes, in case you wondered, they’re women. In this issue, we showcase several women realizing their dreams from a woman with a passion for cooking to the material girl to stay at home moms. You’ll meet Marcie McCutchen and learn how without a formal education in culinary arts, she built a successful business as a personal chef and caterer by diversifying, her passion to learn and her can do attitude. “Whatever it takes” is Marcie’s philosophy, and it’s helped her realize her dream. You’ll also see how a woman that we might think has done it all realized her dream of telling one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. Madonna fulfills her dream of writing and directing the real-life adventure of love, passion and power in a film about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in W.E. Madonna devoted two years to researching the lives of Edward and Wallis and realized her dream of capturing their love story to share with the world. In a time of economic highs and lows, you’ll meet three moms who have the most important job in the world: raising their children. And, while they are raising their children, they followed their dream of entrepreneurship by becoming Etsy Local Artisans where they market and sell their handcrafted items online. They’ve realized their dreams of having it all – and doing it all. As we watch the months of 2012 race by, let’s not forget to focus on our dreams. Dream big as big dreams do come true. Perhaps one of the most well-known dreams is illustrated in Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. Dr. King dared to dream big, and his dreams – along with his hard work – affected great, positive change. “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” I still have some dreams, and I hope you do too. Dream big in 2012, and persevere because dreams do come true. Stay focused!



Now issues a year 10

focus on women

Patti Parish-Kaminski

l February / March 2012

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February / March 2012 l


contributors Nick Nicholson is the Entertainment Editor for Focus on Women and the Film and, Entertainment Critic for CNN Radio, the Fort Bend Star newspaper, Fort Bend Focus and Pearland Focus magazines. He is the co-founder of the Houston Film Critics Society and is currently the President of the organization. In “An Interview with Madonna” on page 20, Nick interviews the Queen of Pop about her newest project as writer and director of W.E. The biopic showcases the life of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and shares her interpretation of one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. Nick and his wife, Mikki, reside in Sugar Land, Texas.

Jennifer Babisak has written for numerous regional and national publications. In “Handcrafted at Your Fingertips: Etsy Local Artisans” page 32, Jennifer showcases three entrepreneurial moms who have successful online stores for their handcrafted wares. When she’s not shopping online for home-made finds, Jennifer keeps busy by home schooling her children and squeezing in time for corporate, family and travel writing. Jennifer lives in Pasadena, Texas with her husband and three children.

Tanya Sterling, wife and mother of three, is the founder and director of the JOY Ministry, a special needs ministry at First Methodist Houston, and a freelance writer. On page 36 in “How 2012 is (Apparently) My Personal Year of Service,” Tanya touts the attributes of giving your time and talent to others – no matter how big or how small. Tanya and her family reside in Sugar Land, Texas.

Communications Director of Pearland Focus magazine, Susie Ainsworth gets tried and true advice from Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp’s Sara Oliver in “How Will You Look in the New Year?” on page 38. Susie shares success stories and boot camp basics on how to get in tip top shape in 2012. Susie, her husband and three children reside in Pearland.

DeAnne Pearson, M. Ed. has over 15 years of experience in career coaching and consulting with the Texas Workforce Commission and Lee Hecht Harrison, one of the world’s largest outplacement and talent solutions firms. In “Lessons Learned and Values Shared: Careers, Trends and Opportunities Just for Women” on page 52, DeAnne shares the most commonly asked career questions – along with her answers – by and for women. DeAnne’s articles have appeared in newspapers throughout Texas and in magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Focus on Women. She lives, works and writes in Austin, Texas with her family.

The Food Editor for absolutely! focus media, Claudia Richter brings not only her journalism skills but her extensive culinary background with her reviews of Houston area restaurants. In this issue, Claudia visits Ray’s Gourmet Country on page 57 and learns how Chef Soren Pedersen uses fresh, locally grown ingredients in his culinary creations. With a degree in culinary arts from Horst Mager Culinary Institute, Claudia and her family reside in Katy, Texas.


focus on women

l February / March 2012

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February / March 2012 l


guest columnists Kimberly Cress, M.D. TMS Serenity Center Page 18

Stephenie Cox 18



absolutely! Memorial Pages 23 & 54

Geof Nesossi Nesossi Studios Page 30

Heather Reichert, RD, LD, CDE Team Beachbody Page 46




Alisa Murray

Alisa Murray Photography Page 48

Sophia Vassiliou Spohia Designs Page 50

Jacquie Baly Chaumette

Mayor Pro Tem, City of Sugar Land Page 56




Stevie Benoit

Emmanuel Salon Page 58

Tracie Swonke

Anything Bling Boutique Page 59

Dero Pedero 64

Jewels of the Mind Page 64

February/ March 2012 Vol. 3 l No. 6 4655 Techniplex Dr. Suite 400 • Stafford, TX 77477 To advertise call 281-690-4242 • TOLL FREE 1-888-430-7469 Direct mailed to physicians in the area and to Focus on Women subscribers, and available at demand distribution locations. PUBLISHERS EDITOR IN CHIEF ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES OFFICE MANAGER ART DIRECTOR ART & PRODUCTION CONSULTANT GRAPHIC DESIGNERS WEB DESIGNER


Marcie McCutchen Photo by Nesossi Studios


focus on women

l February / March 2012

Michael & Lisa Fredrickson Patti Parish-Kaminski Nick Nicholson Jessica Kij Susie Ainsworth Robyn Miller Mary Doetterl Norma Loredo Grace Belleza Joey Belleza Elizabeth Pace Debi Beauregard Joey Belleza /

The views and opinions expressed by our advertisers and columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Publishers and their staff. 2012 Focus on Women Magazine. No material from this publication may be copied or in any way reproduced without written permission from the publishers. Published by

absolutely! focus media

cover story By Patti Parish-Kaminski Photo by Nessosi Studios

Chef For You’s Marcie McCutchen:

The Ultimate in Personal Chefs


n today’s society, personalization has become a much sought after commodity. We have personal trainers, personal bankers, personal photos on our credit cards. If it’s just for us, personally, than it’s something extra special. And that’s exactly what personal chef Marcie McCutchen is – and has translated into her business, Chef For You – something extra special.

In 1994, Marcie found herself enrolled in court reporting school. She had worked in restaurants since she was 15 and actually began working at Jeff’s Hamburgers in Stafford. “Back then you get could a hardship license at 15, and I wanted a car,” recalled Marcie. “My dad told me if you get a job, I’ll get you a car. The next day, I had a job.” Always interested in cooking and collecting recipes from a young age, Marcie spent the years before attending court reporting school working in various restaurants. Her friends encouraged her to go to culinary school but her years of working holidays and weekends in restaurants had burned her out. She was going to be a court reporter. That is until she saw a television show that would change her life. “I saw a program about being a personal chef in the winter of 1994 on CBS This Morning,” said Marcie. “This woman had gone to culinary school and had an idea about being a personal chef. She and her husband were successful and had actually developed a program for other chefs to learn how to be a personal chef, how to market themselves, how to create recipes that were freezer ready. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” Marcie began researching the woman and her program. While she was skeptical at first, she traveled to Albuquerque to meet with the woman who was founder of the US Personal Chef Association. She bought the program and by the end of 1994, Marcie had her first client. She worked in a restaurant part-time and within five months was able to quit and concentrate on her dream of becoming a personal chef. Marcie started her business, Chef For You, in Houston where she would actually go into her client’s homes to cook. She would interview her clients to determine their likes and dislikes and create custom menus for their families. “I would bring my own supplies, pots and pans and prepare dinners to last for two weeks. When my clients came home, they had two weeks’ worth of dinners and a clean kitchen.”

February / March 2012 l


“Marcie is very dedicated to her clients, always on top of things and her food is always delicious.”

As Marcie’s reputation grew, so did her business. She had clients throughout the greater Houston area, and in 2001, she took her business to the next level. Instead of cooking in individual client’s homes, she rented a commercial kitchen so she could serve her expanding business. “I needed to figure out how to expand and still provide personalized service,” said Marcie. “So, when I got the kitchen, I stopped cooking in people’s homes which allowed me to personally service more clients. I cooked at my Stafford kitchen and delivered meals to my clients.” The combination of the commercial kitchen and home delivery was key to the growth of Chef For You. Marcie was able to maintain both the quality of her food and her personal service by providing home-made meals of their choice to her clients delivered right to their door. “There’s a lot of trust involved when you cook for someone; you develop relationships,” said Marcie. For the past eight years, Marcie has been cooking for working mom Carol Gardner. Carol picks up food once a week from Chef For You and says it’s a huge benefit during the week. “With our busy schedules, it’s nice to come home and heat up dinner,” said Carol. “Marcie is very dedicated to her clients, always on top of things and her food is always delicious.” Marcie continued to expand her business by allowing clients to pick up their meals and by providing online ordering. “Our e-commerce website really helped with the success of Chef For You because I had no paperwork,” said Marcie.


focus on women

“Today our online orders account for approximately 35% of our business.” With online ordering, Marcie added an additional menu to her traditional Gourmet Home Style: Chef For You’s popular Spa Menu. “I came up with the idea of doing spa meals with a personal trainer,” said Marcie. “I researched what would be considered a balanced, healthy meal and looked at portion sizes.” At the time, Marcie felt the need for these types of meals, and she was at the forefront of a very popular market trend. “Diet Gourmet and Smart Meals were the only ones doing it back then – before it became popular. I believed that people wanted to eat healthy and began our Spa Menu which has been very successful.” Marcie credits much of her inspiration and success to a personal chef who took her

Marcie and Glenn McCutchen at the 2012 Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Gala.

l February / March 2012

Photo by Nessosi Studios.

~ Carol Gardner

Marcie McCutchen in her kitchen at Chef For You.

under her wing. “I met LaVerl Daily when I stopped by her cooking school, Le Panier, one day,” said Marcie. “I told LaVerl that I was a personal chef looking to learn more and that very day she invited me to stay for a class.” Marcie’s relationship with LaVerl led her to serve as LaVerl’s assistant during her Thursday night class. LaVerl offered Marcie the opportunity to take any classes she wanted for free if she would assist her on Thursdays. “It was such an amazing opportunity,” said Marcie. “I met some of my favorite chefs at Le Panier, Hugh Carpenter of Napa Valley, and Terry Conlan from Lake Austin Spa Resort where I actually got a lot of inspiration for my Spa Menu.” Marcie credits Carpenter for her popular chicken salad recipe. When LaVerl retired from her cooking school, she called on Marcie and began ordering food from her. “To this day, I still cook for LaVerl.” A self-proclaimed workaholic, Marcie still invests much of her time honing her craft. She attends an annual catering conference in Las Vegas renowned for showcasing the latest in culinary arts, presentation, tablescapes and events. She has relationships with caterers throughout the country and is constantly investing in new ideas and resources. “I’m passionate about what I do,” said Marcie. “Since I first started as a personal

Customers can pick up their meals at Chef For You’s Sugar Land location.

Individual Beef Wellington with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Served with Rosemary Port Wine Sauce

Visage Photo Studio

joined Marcie as the Operations Manager. “He thought he could take it easy,” laughed Marcie. “He thought holidays were hectic at UPS until he saw the holiday season at Chef For You.” Saturday mornings you’ll find Marcie and Chef For You at the Farmer’s Market at Imperial in Sugar Land, once again, diversifying her business where she sells seasonal baked goods and options for lunch. “Being a part of the Farmer’s Market has really opened my eyes to the many different products available locally that I didn’t know about. Cooking with the seasons really makes sense to me.” Community is very important to Marcie, and since she and Glenn returned to Fort Bend in 1997, she has been involved with several events including the Grand Wine & Food Affair since its inception. Marcie plans on continuing as a chef for the popular brunch and also assists with events for the Cystic Fibrosis Society and the Women’s Shelter. So what’s next for the personal chef who admits to enjoying frozen egg rolls for dinner at times and is an avid listener to talk radio while she cooks? “Since I was 17 years-old, I have wanted to have my own restaurant one day. I would love to have a mom and pop type place that does gourmet breakfast and lunch really well.” In the meantime, you can still get a taste of Marcie’s creations at or by visiting Chef For You at 9920 Highway 90A, Suite B260. Bon appetite!

Photo by Nessosi Studios.

chef, I’ve always wanted to learn more. I’d love to work for the top caterer in Houston when I retire to learn even more.” Marcie’s business has continued to evolve with her location on Highway 90A in Sugar Land allowing for more retail clients. “Being in Sugar Land has increased my business because of the visibility of the location. You have to diversify to stay in the game.” Over the past few years, Marcie has continued to grow Chef For You by providing catering services. “I started getting calls for parties,” said Marcie. “At first, I didn’t want to do anything for more than 25 people. I went from doing parties for 25 to 50 to our largest event to date for 700 people.” “Marcie is so professional, thorough and creative,” said Julia Stoner, one of Chef For You’s catering clients. “She loves cooking, and it shows in her food and presentation. She has so many great ideas.” Today, catering is approximately 60% of Marcie’s business, and she has once again evolved to keep Chef For You at the forefront in the food industry. From full scale event planning to custom menus, Marcie and her staff create memorable, delicious events with her can do philosophy. “Whatever it takes. If a client wants something, I will make it happen.” Fortunately, Marcie’s husband of twenty years, Glenn, shares her can do philosophy. Glenn retired from his career at UPS, and in 2009 with the growth of Chef For You,

Number Portions: 8 Ingredients: 8 6 oz. Beef Tenderloin Steaks, trimmed of fat 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons canola oil 12 oz sliced mushrooms 2 teaspoons garlic, minced 1/2 cup peeled shallots, minced 4 ounces blue cheese (wedge) sliced 4 sheets puff pastry thawed 1 egg for pastry Rosemary Port Wine Sauce: 1 cup shallots, sliced 2 cups dry red wine 1 ½ cup ruby port wine 2 cups beef broth 2 sprigs fresh rosemary Pat the steaks dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Preheat skillet until very hot and add a little oil to it, then sear steaks on very high heat just until browned, not cooked, turning once. The outside should form a good crust, leaving the inside rare. Add the steaks in batches to avoid overcrowding. Chill uncovered in the fridge one hour or longer. Melt butter and oil in same skillet and saute mushrooms, shallots and garlic until mushrooms are lightly browned and dry. Remove to a bowl and cool completely. (Do not wash skillet.) Place the pasty sheets on clean work surface and cut into 8 rectangles. Place steak on top of each sheet, topping evenly with mushroom mixture and 2 tbl. Blue Cheese. Slightly stretch pastry before wrapping each steak decoratively, bundling at top to seal. Brush with beaten egg and store on parchment paper. *Keep covered in refrigerator until ready to bake (can be made 24 hours before serving). Preheat oven to 400 (convection works best). Bake about 22 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve sauce alongside. Sauce: Using same skillet, add about 2 tablespoons butter, add shallots and saute until tender, about 3 min. Stir in wine and port. Boil 5 minutes. Add broth and rosemary sprig and boil until liquid is reduced by a third, about 12 minutes. Strain sauce and set aside. Thicken with cornstarch until sauce will coat a spoon.

February / March 2012 l





C U T T I N G E D G E T E C H N O L O G Y T R E AT I N G D E P R E S S I O N :

Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work for You? By Kimberly Cress, M.D.


Do you have a question about mental health? E-mail your questions to Dear Dr. Cress, I’m 56 and my doctor has diagnosed me as menopausal and has prescribed hormones to help with the symptoms. But the one symptom that I can’t deal with is that I feel very sad all of the time, very depressed. I’m not normally a sad or moody person so this is new. My doctor says it will pass once my hormones get regulated but it’s starting to affect my every day life. Is this common and is there anything that can be done to help with this horrible feeling? - Shelby H. Dear Shelby, Women are twice as likely to have an episode of major depression during perimenopause even if there is no history of major depression. Perimenopause is defined as 2 to 8 years prior to your last menstrual cycle and 1 year after your last menses. It has been speculated that some women may be more vulnerable to developing depression due to intense hormonal fluctuations during this time. Abrupt hormone changes can affect mood and behavior by altering the equilibrium in several neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain. Regarding the risk of depression during menopause, there is less of a risk compared to perimenopause because even though estrogen levels are low, they are stable. If a woman is experiencing intense sadness that is impairing her ability to enjoy life, I would recommend she see her clinician to evaluate for depression. Depression can be effectively treated with antidepressant medication or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Life is too short to not enjoy it. - Dr. Cress



ranscranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a new alternative treatment for individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder without the traditional side effects seen in antidepressants. Dr. Kimberly Cress is one of the first psychiatrists to offer this alternative technology in the greater Houston area.

But does TMS work? Let’s see what one of Dr. Cress’ patients has to say: It was May 2009. My life as I knew it was completely gone. I had no feelings, no emotions about anything. I would see my daughter cry, and there was nothing in me to comfort her. I remember just looking at her and not being able to do anything. I was paralyzed. I could not move. I had severe insomnia, a 50 pound weight loss, absolutely no appetite whatsoever. My senses of taste and smell were affected also. They didn’t exist either. Every last ounce of joy I had had in my life was ripped away from me by the most horrific disease imaginable. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Different antidepressants were tried with absolutely no results at all. Then one day, I was watching the Debra Duncan show and saw a doctor explaining a new treatment for depression. I saw Dr. Cress and the patient she helped. The patient looked great and had been depressed just like me. I wrote down the name and showed my husband when he got home. I tried to think about it for several weeks and during that time, I knew I never had a chance of getting better. I was desperate. I decided I wanted a first meeting with Dr. Cress and so my husband arranged it. Dr. Cress said I was an ideal candidate for TMS. So my sessions started in late November 2010 and continued through part of January 2011. I began to feel different after the first week. After six weeks, I remember the first thing I did was drive to the post office to mail a letter. That seems like a trivial thing to most people, but to me it was a giant step forward. I’m not sure how everything happened, but I started to feel better and was looking forward to the future instead of seeing my life as hopeless and bleak. Something changed in me and today, I have more energy, my sleep is better, and I’m no longer on Ambien or any anxiety medication. I do everything I used to do. But, the old Annette isn’t really back. I’m the new and improved Annette, and she is here to stay. TMS worked to save me from depression. I enjoy life and cannot wait to get up in the morning and plan what I have to do. I enjoy so many things now and see the world completely differently. I look forward to the future instead of dreading it. – Annette K.

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By Nick Nicholson

a n n o d a M An Interview with


Madonna, Director of W.E.


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riter and director Madonna had been developing the idea for W.E. for many years. She had a longstanding fascination with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, yet she was not interested in making a conventional biopic. She sought instead to capture the essence of their romance and convey her interpretation of one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. She says, “Truth is subjective. Everything I have to say about the Duke and Duchess is the conclusion I came to after all my research. I wanted to present a more well-rounded portrayal of Wallis than was commonly known. I created the Wally character because the movie needed a point of view. Wally goes on a journey thinking this is the greatest love story only to realize that it wasn’t such a perfect love and that both of them made huge sacrifices. Strangely enough, Wallis seemed to make more of a sacrifice than Edward did.” Bessie Wallis Warfield was born in Pennsylvania in 1896. Her father died shortly after her birth, and she and her mother were left dependent on the charity of relatives. Her uncle, a wealthy bachelor, paid for her to attend the most expensive girls’ school in Maryland, where she became friends with daughters of some of the wealthiest families in America. A bright and successful pupil, even then she seemed to have been very conscious of appearances, always immaculately dressed and well turned out. Madonna comments, “It’s important to understand the world that Wallis came from. When she was young, the only option for a woman was to marry, and you were only as good as the man that you married. If you married well, you would have a good life, and if you didn’t, you’d have to make do. She grew up without a father. Her mother cooked for people. They moved around a great deal, and she lived in the homes of many privileged families. As a servant’s daughter, she could see the difference between the haves and the have-nots. She did have an uncle who had money and made sure she got an education. But she grew up feeling like

Madonna, Director of W.E. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

She sought instead to capture the essence of their romance and convey her interpretation of one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. she was on the wrong side of the tracks, and she wanted to have a better life.” In 1916, Wallis met and married her first husband, Earl Winfield Spencer Jr. “Win”, a US Navy pilot, but the marriage was not a happy one. Spencer was an alcoholic, and by 1920, the couple had already briefly separated for the first time. They were reunited in 1921 but split again in 1922 when Win was posted to the Far East. Wallis traveled to China in 1924 and joined Win there, but fell ill and returned to Hong Kong. By 1925, she and Win had both returned to the States but had separated, this time permanently. Edward, Prince of Wales, first met

Wallis in January, 1931, at a hunting weekend. Edward was known as a young man game for anything with a reputation for charming women. Despite being involved with another married woman, Lady Thelma Furness, at the time, he was completely enraptured by Wallis. He was entranced by her spark or her “pep,” as she liked to refer to it, qualities which would have been rare for a woman to display in the 1930s, certainly in royal circles. Edward had never met anyone quite like her and called her “the most independent woman he had ever met.” They continued to meet at various social events, and by 1934, Wallis was his mistress.

Natalie Dormer in W.E.

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

In January 1936, Edward’s father, King George V, died, and Edward was proclaimed King Edward VIII. His relationship with Wallis was now a huge problem. At that time (and indeed until 2002), the Church of England did not permit the remarriage of divorced people with living ex-spouses that were

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Oscar Isaac in W.E.

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Andrea Riseborough and James D’Arcy.

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

very much alive. Indeed Wallis was still officially married at the time of Edward’s accession, although she had filed for a divorce, which was granted in October 1936. It was impossible that the King of England, as titular head of the Church of England, could marry a divorcee. By early December 1936, the British press, which until then had remained deferential to the monarchy generally and had not reported the relationship, had broken the news and Wallis fled to France to try and escape the scandal. Although the public perception was that she was an ambitious social climber and the one pursuing Edward for his wealth and rank, at this stage, she was the one prepared to give up the relationship in order to allow Edward to become King. However, he remained adamant that


focus on women

“he would marry Mrs. Simpson on the throne or off.” Despite huge pressure from the Prime Minister, the Royal family and advisers, Edward would not be moved. His position became untenable and seven months later, in December 1936, Edward delivered his famous abdication speech in the presence of his three brothers, ultimately choosing true love over the throne. Madonna comments, “I couldn’t get my mind off of the fact that a man gave up the throne for a woman. From my perspective, men since the beginning of time have fought to get on the throne. Men are power-seeking animals, so why would this man run away from power? Why would he give it up? What drove him to do that? If it was for a woman and it was for love, what did this woman have

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that would inspire him to make such a great sacrifice? I wanted to know more about her.” Wallis and Edward married in 1937 after her divorce was finalized. They spent much of their married life in France, and although they traveled to England on several occasions, they remained effectively in exile. After Edward’s death from cancer in 1972, Wallis, increasingly frail and suffering from dementia, lived the remainder of her life as a recluse. In 1980, Wallis lost the power of speech and toward the end of life, she was bedridden and not receiving any visitors, apart from her doctor and nurses. She died on April 24, 1986 at her home in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Fascinated by this woman and this powerful love story, Madonna spent two years writing her script, and although W.E. is in part a fictionalized story, she also spent this time heavily researching the project. During her research, one element became particularly important. Wallis and Edward wrote to each other constantly throughout their relationship, sometime while even staying in the same house. “I found the letters very insightful because I think people reveal a lot about themselves in their writings.” Madonna adds, “Wally starts off her journey longing for a loving relationship because she is deeply unhappy. It was important for me to create a character that was trapped in a relationship that was not rooted in love. You can’t appreciate true love until you have it.”


Eat Something

By Stephenie Cox

I entertaining

Cinnamon: Among the spices considered useful for producing “heat” within the body, cinnamon has been measured to increase appetite, both physical and mental.

Vanilla: Vanilla’s power is in its aroma. The hypothalamus, the gland that controls memory and emotion, jumps into action, evoking feelings connected with vanilla’s powerful scent. Dropped into bath water, vanilla will transform the body into a sensuous mindtease.

Chile Peppers: Peppers have the ability to release endorphins triggering feelings of pleasure. Each of the hundreds of chile varieties produces a different level of heat and subtly unique flavor. Chocolate: Known as “nourishment of the Gods,” chocolate contains flavonoids – antioxidants from the same “family” as those touted in green tea and red wine. In fact, studies show that the antioxidant activity in one serving of cocoa is higher than that of either tea or red wine. The darker the chocolate, the more potent antioxidants it contains.

Wine: A glass or two of wine kicks off any romantic interlude. Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate our senses. Drinking wine can be an erotic experience…let your eyes feast on the color of the liquid…savor the taste on your lips. All in moderation, of course!

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financial savvy I

Prepared by the Hardee Investment Group and RBC Wealth Management

Girls just want to have fund$

Can We O Talk?

ver the last 37 years, I’ve discovered that the two most hated words in the English language are diet and budget. We talk about both, but never do anything about them. I will not attempt to address the diet issue, that seems to have a life of its own. However, both words have a lot in common. Every time you stray from your diet or budget, you feel stress and guilt and either quit or over-compensate. They both require something we either don’t have or don’t want to do. That missing ingredient is discipline. All things in moderation work but it’s no fun. As humans, we have a tendency to do all or none. Therefore, we go from one extreme to another - over eating then starving; over spending then broke. It always seems there is too much month at the end of the money!! Investing suffers the same characteristics. Just like those nasty words, budget and diet, investing requires discipline. No one said “buy low and sell high” was easy. Making and managing money is very hard to do part-time. Without a doubt, it is a full-time job. Over the next few issues, we will discuss how greed and fear drive our emotions and cause us to make the wrong investment decisions at the wrong time. Don’t snack before bedtime, don’t buy on impulse, and don’t make investment decisions based on advice from T.V. shows. For a disciplined approach to investing, contact the Hardee Investment Group at 713853-0879 or visit us online at 24 hours a day. We look forward to hearing from you. Until next issue, stay disciplined! This article is provided by H. H. Will Hardee, AWM, a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management’s Houston Center office, and was prepared by or in cooperation with RBC Wealth Management. The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making investment decisions nor should it be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security. RBC Wealth Management does not endorse this organization or publication. Consult your investment professional for additional information and guidance. RBC Wealth Management does not provide tax or legal advice. RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC

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chick flicks I

By Nick Nicholson


adonna’s W.E. is a beautifully crafted, passionate tale about the search for true love in the modern world, viewed through the prism of one of history’s most fabled romances. The year is 1998, and Manhattan is abuzz with anticipation about the upcoming auction of the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. But the auction is far more than a diversion for Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), a transplanted Southerner trapped in an unhappy and abusive marriage. Transfixed by the exquisite artifacts of the Windsors’ lives, Wally becomes obsessed with the love story of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), the chic, charismatic American who captured the heart of King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy). As she learns more about the sacrifices Wallis made in choosing to be with Edward, Wally finds the courage to follow her own heart and create her own happiness.

Andrea Riseborough and James D’Arcy in W.E.

Oscar Isaac and Abbie Cornish in W.E.


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This film is very refreshing as it tells the popular tale from the perspective of the American, Wally Winthrop. The decision to present the story from Winthrop, whom many believe to be the antagonist of the story, is quite daring. Tying into the story Madonna’s decision to include the story of arc of a modern day woman’s abusive relationship of the same name takes the film to an entirely new level altogether. This film is a true story that is peppered with so many fictional segments, the viewer begins to question which sections of the film are real vs make believe. But who really cares?  Whether it is the story of true love and the lengths two people would go to achieve it or the story of a woman who yearns to find herself and get out from underneath an abusive spouse, this is a story for and about love and perseverance. Andrea Riseborough’s performance is impeccable, and coupled with the juxtaposition of the thematic material, the chemistry between Riseborough, James D’Arcy and Abbie Cornish and the direction by Madonna, this film will pull at the heart strings of even the most cold hearted of viewers.  There are many positives to take from this engaging story that nearly toppled the monarchy.  The sacrifices, the love and the true representation of a woman in love make you just want to jump up and



Oscar Isaac in W.E.

shout hallelujah! The biggest problem with the film is extolled by the lack of focus. I believe Madonna may have tried to do too much with this film.  It seems as though she worked to fit in so many different angles of the story, rather than just telling the story of Wallis Simpson and how her love for King Edward VIII was so strong; he abdicated his right to the throne in order to marry her. Entertaining to the end and perhaps a bit convoluted at times, the bottom line is this film is well worth watching. You might even be impressed.

Ulises Baltazar, M.D., FACS, RVT


W.E. Starring: Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy & Andrea Riseborough Director: Madonna Company: The Weinstein Company Now Showing: In Local Area Theatres MPAA Rating: R Grade: APhotos Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.


16605 Southwest Freeway Suite 505 Sugar Land, TX 77479 (MOB 3) Phone 281 240 8400 February / March 2012 l



The List: Things We Love Fresh finds for fabulous women! Artisan Chocolate

This beautiful Multilayer Gift Box is filled to the brim with exquisite chocolates handcrafted in Katy, Texas. This isn’t any ordinary sweet treat – the chocolate, fruit, creams and other infusions used are imported from Venezuela and transformed into artistically unique chocolates that are prepared in small batches by hand. With more than 30 flavors, including “Salty Rum Caramel” and “Peanut Butter and Berries,” you are sure to find something to satisfy your sugar craving. Order online for delivery or visit their factory to watch the chocolates being made while enjoying a cup of coffee – now that’s sweet!

Tech Chic

Created with a stylish design and a durable microfiber lining, the ZAGGfolio is an impressively thin multifunction iPad keyboard case for Apple® iPad® 2. The folio is complete with a removable Bluetooth keyboard and a built-in stand system, ideal for onthe-go use. Choose between an ABS hard-shell case wrapped in authentic leather or stylish polyurethane. The easy to connect and easy to use Bluetooth keyboard allows you to stay connected whether your keyboard is in the iPad 2 folio case or not.

Fresh, Clean and Furry!

Fresh and furry, these screen wipes are no ordinary smudge-buster. With its ultra soft chamois tummy, it not only cleans screens from laptops to tablets, but it’ll dust off the old telly too. Add to that its static-reducing materials, and this one wipe also stops dust persistently finding its way back to your screens. There’s one more hidden secret inside this furry friend – it is filled with a light and refreshing lemon fragrance, which when wiped across the screen, leaves a lovely fruity smell to linger subtly in the air. You’ll never settle for a plain old duster again.


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Life’s a Picnic!

Hosting a family picnic or enjoying an afternoon hike is as simple as filling this personalizable backpack with your family’s favorite foods. The canvas pack comes loaded with melamine plates, goblets, flatware and napkins for four, plus a bread knife, wooden cutting board, salt and pepper shakers and a sommelier’s corkscrew. It’s even equipped with a detachable wine cooler and sable-gray felt blanket. The padded shoulder straps will keep you comfortable and an insulated main compartment keeps food cold on your adventure – whatever it may be!

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travel I

By Geof Nesossi


Photos by Nesossi Studios

Great Getaways:

HUATULCO, MEXICO the whole property rather than getting lost in a “mega” resort. Of the hotel’s 120 air conditioned rooms, 41 come with a private pool and all come with ocean view and balcony or terrace. I recommend the splash pool as it’s great after the beach and also for a late night dip to view the crystal clear night sky with stars abounding. Quiet is the word that best describes the Camino Real, so if you are looking for beach volleyball, a swim up bar with Jimmy Buffet music or water aerobics, pick another hotel. There is a spa at the hotel, and the prices are right in line with other facilities in the area. If you elect to use this service, they can accommodate you the same day you


uatulco, the way Mexico use to be. Located in the state of Oaxaca, this gem on the Pacific has no Wal-Mart, and the local folks still speak Spanish. Huatulco is somewhat remote and exceptionally beautiful. The Sierra Madre Mountains stop short to make way for soft beaches of white and light golden sands that stretch out to greet turquoise and light green crystal waters; in some places sharp rock formations from the mountain’s edges plunge into the Pacific Ocean below. The Camino Real Zaashila, located in Tangolunda Bay, has been our home away from home for many years. It has its own private beach, a large pool and three fine restaurants. With only 120 rooms, it’s small enough to enjoy


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The Camino Real Zaashila has 120 air conditioned rooms all featuring a balcony or terrace with ocean views.

book an appointment. The staff seem more like family than, well, staff and make you feel right at home the moment you arrive until your departure. The Camino Real is not all-inclusive; therefore, if you so desire, there are a number of those resorts in the area. The newest is Secrets which just opened in January of this year. Other all-inclusive properties are Dreams, Las Brisas and the Barceló. For a taste of small town Mexican life, there is La Crucecita, which serves as a support community for the area and has a more genuine Mexican atmosphere. It has many restaurants and shops built around a typical Mexican zócalo (town square) - the

Biji Nesossi enjoying the beach in Huatulco, Mexico.

focal point of the community enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. Yes, there are jewelry stores also, and I can attest to that. The beach vendors have everything from dresses, wood carvings, fishing trips and yes, jewelry. I can attest to that also. They offer their wares, and if you decline, they don’t bug you. We’ve actually become friends with a number of these fine folks. Activities like fishing and golf are available and can be shared by husband and wife or he can be sent off so she can have some quiet time on the beach, catch up on reading, or just simply close your eyes and listen to the surf and sea birds harmonize. Some travelers are nervous about visiting Mexico, but Huatulco is very safe, and we felt comfortable walking around town even after a late dinner. All of the taxis are safe to ride in, but if you are so inclined, you can request that the restaurant or shop call the driver that drove you to town from the resort with the number that is on his business card. United Airlines has one flight daily from Bush International Airport direct to Huatulco so travel is not a problem, and once on the ground, clearing immigration and customs only takes about 30 minutes. You can get a local cab or request for a driver from the hotel. The cost is approximately $40.00 to your resort. This was our sixth trip, and the good Lord willing, we will be back in 2013. ¡Viva la Mexico! February / March 2012 l



By Jennifer Babisak

Handcrafted at Your Fingertips:

Etsy Local

fter my children were born, I experienced a shift in my buying habits. Before, I evaluated price as the most significant criteria in making a purchase. But, cuddling those vulnerable babies forced me to consider the health and environmental impact of every item that we brought into our home. Becoming a mother also increased my compassion for those mothers (and unfortunately, children) who slave away in third world factories each day for pennies an hour. So, in the interest of quality craftsmanship and fair-labor practices, I decided to purchase (or make) as many handcrafted items as possible. Back then, when my oldest child was a baby, it was sometimes difficult to find handcrafted items outside of community festivals and church bazaars. But a twenty-five year old guy named Rob Kalin changed all that. In 2005, the furniture craftsman started Etsy, an online marketplace for handcrafted and vintage items. Consumers flocked to the site relishing the personal interaction with artisans and the ability to commission custom pieces. And artisans loved the easy-to-use interface giving them the ability to set up an online shop in mere minutes. Though most of Etsy’s sellers use the online marketplace to supplement another source of income, some sellers have found enough success to jump into handcrafting full-time. The site continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It now boasts over 12 million members and nearly 10 million handcrafted items listed, with over $400 million in sales for 2011. The site’s 800,000 active shops include plenty in the Houston area. And a feature on Etsy called “Etsy Local” allows shoppers to search for items made within a particular geographic area. Using that feature, I found three Houston-area Etsy artisans each offering uniquely handcrafted items.


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Meet three successful “Etsy Local” artisans:

Sugar Land’s Laura Dietz is a brand new Etsy shop owner. She opened Sugar Land Naturals, an organic skin care line, just this past November and though she had been making homemade body scrubs for some time, she had never attempted to sell them. But when Laura unexpectedly lost her job, she decided to take the plunge on Etsy. She was surprised by her immediate success saying, “I listed my products (on Etsy) with zero expectations. After seeing the amazing handmade products listed, I wasn’t sure I could compete. But within one months’ time, I had already sold about a hundred items.” Laura was inspired to use natural ingredients in her skin care line thanks to her fond memories of her grandmother using aloe vera as a salve for cuts and scrapes. “It always felt so good and it worked! It made the burning feeling go away. The same is true of many things in nature….things our bodies are meant to use for health and longevity. For hundreds of centuries, there was no Neosporin for your cuts. There is an alternative in nature to almost everything you can find in a pharmacy.” She now combines natural ingredients such as fruits with natural preservatives to create her skin pampering products. Laura’s bestseller is Hand Saver Skin Putty. She says, “It is a putty derived from an organic fruit and dark sugar base that leaves your hands incredibly moisturized and smooth without any residue whatsoever. It has been popular amongst customers with severely dry winter skin and Eczema.” Laura’s favorite aspect of her job is product development. She spent a significant amount of time formulating her products, but now she enjoys experimenting with new ingredients. “Once I got this

formula down, and it took a while, the rest was all fun with fruits! Everything our skin needs is in fruits, vegetables and the sun.” She also enjoys interacting with her customers and receiving their feedback about how her products have helped them. Laura does admit that there are some Laura Dietz downsides to owning your own business, notably the patience required to wait for sales to increase and profits to build. She adds, “Probably the toughest part for me is the profit and loss side during these early months. I was an accountant before I started this business, but for some reason, crunching the numbers is not something I love to do. Any new business is expected to operate in the red for the first 12 months, so I think being patient and waiting for the profit side to increase is hard for any new business owner.” But Laura isn’t discouraged by the number crunching; she is passionate about her business and only wishes that she had opened an Etsy shop sooner. “I think people long for the quality of handcrafted items and the purity of them. Etsy is made up of people, not corporations. Every item bought, the money goes directly into the hands of a family, not into the hands of a CFO. I think people are starting to see the beauty in an artisan-based online marketplace environment for the same reason, everyone loves a good farmers market. There is a wholesomeness about it. It is good for the buyer, because they get superior products that were made the old fashioned way…one at a time.”

Christy Huh, a Pearland-based artisan, opened Etsy shop Head to Toe in December of 2009. The shop specializes in custom monogrammed tissue box covers, though Christy explains that the shop’s name was inspired by a previous product line. “I came up with the shop name Head To Toe because I first started making hair bows for the babies’ heads and ruffled ribbon socks for the toes.” But business really took off when she decided to make tissue box covers from modern fabrics that she found in her mom’s fabric store. “I noticed in the stores how ugly the tissue boxes looked. Sometimes the tissue box companies would try to come up with Christy Huh pretty designs, which never worked. I thought of using the modern fabrics to cover these boxes. To be able to personalize these tissue box covers makes it extra special for a wedding or housewarming gift.” As a stay-at-home mom of four, Christy appreciates the flexibility and creative outlet that Etsy provides, saying, “I was a stay at home mom and wanted to do something with my creative side. I needed something that I could succeed at besides take care of my kids. I enjoy being able to work from home.” Christy encourages potential Etsy shop owners to keep the proper perspective regarding their business and to prioritize time with family. “Work hard but also make sure you have time for your family. Remember to have fun and to not overwork yourself. Etsy has been a fun adventure for me. If you have an idea, don’t doubt yourself. Go with it because it may be the next biggest thing that everyone has to have. Always love and appreciate your buyers; without them you can’t succeed.” February / March 2012 l


Sugar Land artisan Arika Jordan opened Etsy shop BoyKrazie last July. The shop focuses on knit and crocheted items specifically for baby boys. The mother of three boys explains her reasoning behind a boy-only shop saying, “When you’re surrounded by boys, you can’t help but think ‘boy.’ I have three sons all six and under. When I gave birth to my youngest a little over a year ago, I searched for photo props and found it hard to find shops that focused on boys.” Arika admits that she faced some obstacles in opening her shop – notably the fact that she didn’t know how to crochet or knit! But, she refused to let that little glitch hold her back. She took lessons from her husband’s mother and sister and enrolled in classes at Sugar Land Yarn Company and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft. For advanced skills, she turned to YouTube videos. “I must say that I was a little amazed that I picked it up so quickly. I thought it would take at least year for me to get ‘my idea’ off Arika Jordan the ground but through the grace of God and family, I was able to pull it off in a matter of months,” she says. With her newfound knitting and crochet skills, Arika enjoys working with beautiful varieties of yarn to create lovingly crafted products. “I enjoy beautiful yarn whether it’s from local stores or online sellers. My heart just smiles when I see the finished project. I just love knowing that I made it by hand and that someone else is going to enjoy my creation.” Arika encourages crafty individuals to take the Etsy plunge commenting, “If you have a product to sell – just do it. Opening up an Etsy shop is free and painless. It’s super easy with very few steps involved. The Etsy app is a must. You can manage your shop in one place on all your mobile devices. I also suggest using the extra apps that are provided by third party developers which help promote your shop on Etsy and on your own website or blog.” And Arika believes that it’s a great time to jump on the handcrafted bandwagon, predicting a bright future for the movement. “I think the economy has a lot to do with the momentum of the handcrafted movement. As people become more concerned about the economy, I think you’ll find more and more people making and buying handmade products. ‘Buy Handmade’ is popping up everywhere. Handmade items are more popular now than ever and I love that!”


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ick fl k




e Rel



than Brand (Alessandro Nivola) and his band are on the comeback trail when a former flame (Elisabeth Shue) drops a bomb in his lap: their 13-year-old daughter, Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin). Ethan refuses to believe Janie is his kid, but when her mom suddenly leaves for rehab, the child has no place to go but into the tour bus and on the road with the band. With no inclination toward fatherhood, Ethan continues his hard-living ways, leaving Janie to fend for herself in dive bars and sleazy motels along the way. As Ethan’s self-destructive spiral threatens to destroy his band’s future, Janie uses her own surprising musical talents to help guide him down the rocky road to redemption.

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By Tanya Sterling

How 2012 is (Apparently)

My Personal Year of Service


unday, January 1, 2012 arrived with the usual fanfare and fun always associated with New Year’s Eve. My husband, Jevaughn, and I participated in the festivities by golfing and then dining with close friends until right after midnight. Alas, the next morning was church. After a quick assessment of my sleeping household, I determined I would be the only one groggily attending worship services. A tad late, I rushed to church, screeched into the parking lot and started heading towards the adult women Sunday School class which I teach.


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As I started to climb the stairs, I saw that a little boy, with autism, was giving his mom a bit of a warm time in the hallway. I immediately threw down my purse and books and started to assist his mother. It wasn’t that easy. Mom was trying not to show her frustration, but I understood, so I took control of the situation and sent her off to class. After much negotiation, another teacher and I sat on the floor of the hallway with this precious boy until his regular volunteer came to get him. He immediately slipped his hand into his buddy’s hands, smiled and off they went to class. Slipping my heels back on, the thought crossed my mind that this was my very first activity for the new year – helping to calm down a sweet boy with special needs. It was only 9:35 am. Retrieving my belongings and now almost 20 minutes late for my Sunday School class, I raced up the stairs and busted into my classroom. There was only one lady patiently waiting on me (it was

the morning after New Years’s Eve, after all.) I profusely apologized for being late. She said the extra few minutes alone allowed her to reflect on all her past Christmas seasons, which prompted me to ask if they were all memorable. They were all memorable but in a variety of tragic ways. The last thirty minutes of class was spent listening to this young woman share her experiences with death, lost loves and more personal losses that always seemed to occur around the holidays. Afterwards, we shared a prayer, and I told that this was probably one of the best Sunday School sessions we had ever had! As I sat in my pew, the thought crossed my mind that my first couple of hours in the year 2012 was literally spent in service to others, and now, it was only 10:30 am. Even though I hope to always be of service to others, it’s not always easy. Between family life, work, etcetera, and etcetera, it’s, quite frankly, hard to donate your time to others. But we must. There are far too many people out there in our community who are hurting and need our help. A lot of times, they just need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on or someone to help them out with their child in a church hallway. Have you ever read a philanthropist’s biography? I have often wondered how he or she managed to create an active family life, successfully build their career, nurture friendships, consistently attend church and take up amazing hobbies all while volunteering and serving on multiple nonprofit boards. For the life of me, I honestly wondered how they do it all! The answer is, as I am beginning to find out, a fierce passion to give back some of the blessings (no matter how small) they have received. I submit to you that whether we are part of a volunteer organization or not, try to be of service to others. Help out your neighbor as needed, don’t be too busy to accept your friend’s call when she’s wailing about the argument she had with her hubby. Listen to your parents repeat the same family stories (yet again!) and hold the door to the mall open for the young mom struggling with two toddlers. If you can be of service to others, in your own small way, I say “go for it.” The rest of 2012 and each year hereafter will be even more satisfying. Cheers to you!

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By Susie Ainsworth


Photos by Jessica Pledger

How Will You Look in the New Year? Sara Oliver


he ball dropped on another new year, and we all know what that means ... time to get busy on our New Year’s resolutions. However, many Americans are resistant to making them possibly because the thought of failure is too great. According to Time magazine, most Americans have made — and broken — a resolution or two. Here’s a list of last year’s most common New Year’s resolutions. 1 Lose weight and get fit. 2 Quit smoking. 3 Learn something new. 4 Eat healthier and diet. 5 Get out of debt and save money. 6 Spend more time with family. Greg Durham and Kirsten Villanueva.

7 Travel to new places. 8 Be less stressed. 9 Volunteer. 10 Drink less.


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Does that list look familiar? Even if you didn’t write it down last year, you may have thought about trying to achieve one of those positive changes. Weight loss and exercise are most common because, well after a couple months of overeating, shedding those unwanted pounds is the right thing to do. The National Institute of Health conducted a study and found that on average most Americans only gain about one pound over the holiday season. While that number seems encouraging, here’s another fact that is not. Most of those studied did not lose that pound after the new year, and over time, this slight weight gain each year contributes to obesity and a whole host of diseases related to obesity. If that’s not reason enough to start, here’s another fact to fuel your fire: more than half of all adults in the United States are overweight, according to government statistics based on body mass index or BMI. More than half! So throw out your fear of failure and get busy. Needless to say, it’s time to start mov-

“You only get one body in this life, and I love helping people learn how to take care of themselves the right way.” - Sara Oliver

Cindy Durham, Greg Durham, Sara Oliver and Erin Guerrero.

Donna Feezel and Erin Guerrero.

ing America! In Pearland, there is a new fitness company that will be starting its first boot camp session this year. Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp wants to help you reach your fitness goals and your New Year’s resolutions. “Quick fixes don’t last, and there isn’t a secret to weight loss,” explained Sara Oliver, owner of Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp. “You only get one body in this life, and I love helping people learn how to take care of themselves the right way. We not only lead people through safe, effective workouts, but we teach proper nutrition and health habits. Our big mantra is, diet’s don’t work, good habits do!” Oliver has been a personal trainer since 1997, and she opened Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp in 2006. She started her business in Deer Park, and in just five years has grown into Clear Lake, Seabrook/El Lago, Leauge City and now Pearland. Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp structures its outdoor classes into four weekly sessions Monday through Friday and then one week off. The work they do is paying off, too. “We have seen clients not only lose amazing amounts of weight, anywhere from 10-75 pounds, but we help people lower their cholesterol, gain back lost energy, gain better sleep at night, in-

crease their immune system, find their inner athlete and also discover long lasting friendships with other members,” Oliver said. We’ve all watched The Biggest Loser and have been in awe of the substantial amounts of weight the contestants lose. We have also seen how dedicated they are to losing weight, and the effort they put into exercising and eating healthy. “While we love the trainers on The Biggest Loser, we take a different approach,” Oliver said. “You will not be screamed or yelled at in our program, but you will be taught proper form and encouraged to dig deep and give 100 percent. We know that with proper education and encouragement, you can do anything!” she said. “We will hold you accountable to be in class, but getting there and working hard is ultimately your choice. Again, we teach you the habits necessary to reach your goals.” Bay Area Adventure Boot Camp has classes at two locations: Centennial Park off of McLean Road and at a Silverlake location. If you are interested in joining a Boot Camp session, visit Ultimately losing weight and getting fit are lifestyle changes that start with you.

Sonja Garza

February / March 2012 l


Success Story

The first six months of 2011, I was running three times a week and trained with a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness doing strength training on machines three times a week. I have only been with Bay Area Boot Camp for three months and have achieved triple the success in half of the time. If anything, the machines at the gym bulked me up, and I never really lost weight. Sara and Greg know what they are doing, and my awesome results prove it! Now I have more energy, I’m happier and it is the perfect way to get my day started. If I don’t show up, my day just doesn’t seem right.

Olga Hernandez



When I started Boot Camp, I weighed 220 pounds and could not run a mile. I used to be very athletic at a younger age. Life now just seemed to be about taking care of my children and family. I just stopped taking care of myself and was feeling the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. I tried other types of workouts and diets, but realized quickly that Boot Camp was right up my alley. I jumped right in and worked through the soreness that comes with moving your body after so many years of being inactive. I started incorporating all of the eating tips that Sara taught, and I never missed a day of Boot Camp. I went five days a week, no matter what the weather was. It was not easy but after a period of time, I saw that the pounds just started coming off. I have lost over 60 pounds and recently competed in a 10K. I still attend Boot Camp five days a week, and I have added daily runs in my afternoon workout. None of this would have been possible if it was not for Sara and the Boot Camp. I have made lots of friends that share the same goals as me and most importantly, I have taken my life back and have made myself happier and healthier for me and my family!

Success Story

Bridget Winstead

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Typical Results From

1 3-5% reduction in body fat 2 5-12 pounds of weight loss 3 1-3” decrease in the midsection 4 25% increase in strength 5 25% improvement in endurance 6 Better relaxation 7 Greatly improved posture Before


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Kirsten Villanueva and Sara Oliver.

l February / March 2012

8 100% gain in self-confidence


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industry insights

Hardee Investment Group Named as RBC Wealth Management’s Exclusive Portfolio Focus – Senior Portfolio Manager Group

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Hardee, Senior Vice President & Accredited Wealth Manager, and team in RBC Wealth Management’s Houston Center office, was recently selected as a member of the firm’s Portfolio Focus – Senior Portfolio Manager Group, an exclusive group of financial advisors recognized for their success in building fee-based discretionary portfolio management practices. The Senior Portfolio Manager Group is the highest level of recognition that the firm bestows upon its fee-based discretionary financial advisors. To qualify for the group, Hardee and team demonstrated a commitment to creating and managing customized portfolios designed to meet client’s individual investment needs, enhancing their professional knowledge and portfolio management skills, and maintaining an excellent record of customer service. RBC Wealth Management financial advisors assist individual and corporate clients in selecting appropriate investments including stocks, taxable and taxexempt bonds, and mutual funds. They

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also assist clients with wealth transfer, estate planning, and life insurance. The Hardee Investment Group welcomes you to visit them online at to learn more about their wealth management strategies and excellent client service. About RBC Wealth Management In the United States, RBC Wealth Management operates as a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Founded in 1909, RBC Capital Markets, LLC. is a member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and other major securities exchanges. RBC Wealth Management has over $227 billion of assets under administration and nearly 2,000 financial advisors operating in 200 locations in 42 states. Recently RBC Wealth Management was ranked “Highest in Investor Satisfaction with Full Service Brokerage Firms” in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study.SM For more information, visit

Pearls of Wisdom

By Teresa Cox Reading, RN

Understanding Substance Abuse and Dependence


hen treating addictions, Dr. Reading and I acknowledge anyone can develop an addiction: it just takes the right substance, situation and a matter of time. • People who suffer from injuries, ailments, diseases, dual diagnosis and the like. • People who are young, teenage, middleage and the senior population. • Many are not looking for euphoria, but just a way to manage life and try selfmedicating. Next time you hear that someone you know or love is addicted to a substance, do not judge, but look deeper into the situation and the why and how to the circumstance. Know the difference between drug use, misuse, abuse and addiction as well. Drug (Substance or Chemical) Use is defined as taking a prescribed medication for its intended purpose using proper dosage, route of administration, frequency and duration of use.

Drug (Substance or Chemical) Misuse means taking a substance other than the proper use, dosage/frequency, route of administration, or duration of use. Substance Abuse includes at least one of the following criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-4): • Recurrent use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligation at work, home or school. • Recurrent use in physically hazardous situations. • Recurrent substance related legal problems. • Continued use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by substance. Note: Symptoms must never have met criteria for substance dependence. Substance Dependence includes at least three of the following during one year (DSM-4):


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• Tolerance or marked increase in amount; marked decrease in effect. • Withdrawal symptoms; substance taken to relieve withdrawal. • Substance taken in larger amount and for longer period than intended. • Persistent desire or repeated unsuccessful attempt to quit. • Much time/activity to obtain, use, recover. • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced. • Use continues despite knowledge of adverse consequences. If you or someone you know may be dependent on a substance, contact William H. Reading, MD at 281-4944471 or visit Teresa Cox Reading is a Registered Nurse, Clinician and Practice Administrator for Reading Recovery, Psychiatric and Psychological Services. She is on the board of Mental Health America of Fort Bend County and Committee for Suicide Prevention.

READING RECOVERY, PSYCHIATRIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES Improving the quality of life for families • ADD • Mood Problems • ADHD • Emotional Instability • Adult ADD • Bipolar Variants • Depression • Addictive Diseases • Anxiety Disorders • Impaired School/Work • OCD Performances • Eating Disorders • Temper/Anger Problems • Behavioral Problems

Our TMS MACHINE Is In! New patients now being accepted for TMS Therapy for Depression. To find out more call our office at 281-494-4471.

February / March 2012 l


well woman

Free Heart Smart Seminar and Screenings

Panel of heart experts: Dr. Imran Mohiuddin,Vascular Surgeon; Dr. Sherman Tang, Interventional Cardiologist; Dr. Kesavan Shan, Diagnostic Cardiologist; Dr. Uttam Tripathy, Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeon; Dr. B. Keith Ellis, Interventional Cardiologist; Dr. Earl Mangin, Interventional Cardiologist; Dr. Tapan Rami, Electrophysiologist; and Dr. Mahesh Ramchandani; Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeon.


o one wants to think about the frightening possibility of facing a heart attack or a stroke. But if more people — family members, bystanders and the victims themselves — understood the warning signs better, they may help save more lives. “Both a heart attack and a stroke can send warning signals hours, days, even weeks ahead of time,” says B. Keith Ellis, M.D., board certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Chest Pain Center. “Chest pain that’s triggered by exertion and relieved by rest may be an early predictor of a heart attack. In women, older adults and people with diabetes, symptoms may come and go, are often vague and may not be recognized.” Too many people wait too long to get help, and more damage is done with each passing minute. The good news is new clot-busting heart attack drugs administered within one hour can stop a heart attack in progress. Stroke medication can stop and even reverse brain damage if given within three hours. “If you suspect either a heart attack or a stroke, seek emergency care immediately,” says Dr. Ellis. Methodist Sugar Land Hospital has demonstrated the highest level of expertise in treating heart attack patients. Because of this expertise and delivery of care, Methodist Sugar Land Hospital has received Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the National Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC). The SCPC evalu-


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l February / March 2012

ation focuses on adherence to the following criteria: • Reducing the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment. • Treating patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the heart muscle can be preserved. • Monitoring patients when it is not certain that they are having a heart attack to ensure that they are not sent home too quickly or needlessly admitted to the hospital. A key component of the hospital’s accreditation is the speed with which heart attack patients are treated with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in the Cath Lab. “PCI is critical to opening up the blocked artery and re-establishing blood flow,” says Dr. Ellis. “The quicker that we can identify patients who are having heart attacks, transport them to the Cath Lab and begin the PCI, the better chance we have of saving lives and limiting damage to the heart.” To learn more about heart attack and stroke please join us for a free Heart Smart Seminar and Screening on Thursday, February 23 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital – Conference Center. To register, please call 281-274-7500 or email Refreshments, door prizes and free screenings provided for those attending the seminar. Free screenings include a free blood pressure screening and a lab test gift certificate that includes testing for glucose and lipid profile including cholesterol, triglyceride, HDL, LDL, VLDL and risk calculation.

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Subscribe online 19901 Southwest Freeway, Suite 114, Sugar Land, TX 77479 February / March 2012 l


health & wellness I

By Heather Reichert, RD, LD, CDE/ Team Beachbody Coach

Weight Gain with Aging –

What’s a Girl to Do?


hroughout my 11 years as a registered dietitian, I have counseled numerous clients regarding weight loss who came in saying, “All this weight came on after I hit 40 (or 50).” In fact, many women would even come in prior to having a hysterectomy to get “prepared” for the dreaded weight gain that they had heard so much about. So, why is this such a problem? We aren’t doing anything differently, so why, all of a sudden, does our body rebel? The answer actually lies in the question. The answer is … because we AREN’T doing anything differently. As women age, hormones change. The “change” affects the reproductive system but that is not where it stops. These hormonal changes trigger a loss of muscle, usually starting around age forty. By age fifty, this muscle loss begins occurring at a much faster rate. This sign of aging is known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia actually means vanishing flesh. Nice, right? Women frequently get checked for osteopenia after menopause, but sarcopenia often goes unaddressed. This is a huge problem in our aging population that does not get near enough attention. Weak muscles can cause just as many, if not more, injuries as weak bones. Now, you might be asking, “But, what about the whole muscle weighs more than fat thing? If I am losing muscle, then shouldn’t I be LOSING weight, not gaining it?” The problem is that even though these changes are occurring to our muscles, we are not making changes in our diet. Even though our body is changing, we aren’t changing the way we are feeding it. Did you know that muscle is significantly more metabolically active than fat? That means that it burns more calories at a resting state than fat does. So, if you are still eating the same way that you were when you were in your thirties and wondering why you are gaining weight in your forties or fifties, this is why. You aren’t burning as many calories on a regular basis as you were prior to the loss of muscle. So, those excess calories that are not used, get stored as fat. The fat distribution after menopause is often around the abdominal region. This is what is sometimes referred to as an “apple” shape. This distribution of fat is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. So, now what? Well, if muscle is being lost, then we must work harder to replace and maintain it, right? This is why it is so important to incorporate resistance or weight-bearing activities throughout your life. Lifting weights or using resistance aids in maintaining and/or increasing your muscle mass. This muscle mass is what is going to help keep your metabolism fired up as well as help you to burn more calories and keep your weight under control.


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Here are a few tips to get you through this change:



Eat Often Eat balanced meals and snacks every 2-3 hours. When you eat 3 meals a day and 2-3 snacks, your appetite will be more controlled. Have you ever gone all day without eating? What happens when you actually sit down for the next meal? It is a recipe for disaster. In short, we make poorer food choices the hungrier we are.

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Get Moving Make physical activity part of your daily life. You wouldn’t wake up in the morning and view brushing your teeth as “optional,” would you? Of course not! Don’t let physical activity be optional either. It is simply that important. And don’t forget to add in that resistance training. Incorporating weights/bands into your fitness regimen will work wonders!

So, what  are  you  waiting  for?!?! Heather Reichert,  RD,  CDE Team  Beachbody  Coach 832.971.6278

If you like reading our magazines,

Keep Track of Your Food Intake There are so many wonderful apps out there now for your smart phone that this should really be easy for you to do. If you aren’t tracking what you are eating, then you have no idea what areas need improvement. It can be awfully surprising when you look at your intake at the end of the day.

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Get Help Surround yourself with support. It is often difficult to go through change alone. It is always easier to navigate a new course when you have the support of others.


Don’t Give Up! Obstacles will present themselves, but don’t let them get you down. Stay the course, and you will see results!

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February / March 2012 l




By Alisa Murray

Woman Woman

Building a Brand New You


like big lips, and I cannot lie. Every fashionista magazine these days seems to idealize the Joliesk lip. Even the ladies of The Talk posted a recreated “most beautiful” woman last week featuring various body parts to create a combined “perfect woman.” Admittedly, she looked weird and contrived...more alien than real! My momma’s and I spend a lot of time together discussing the benefits and the possible malfunctions of such procedures. Many of us have had good outcomes from Botox, and it seems with every year, there’s a new “something something” that can fix this or fill that! I have several friends in the biz and have had a few things done. Ya’ll know I do not like to sit still so it’s crazy to have me do a procedure that lasts much longer than an hour, and as for down time... girls, I do not patient well! I usually opt for the “I do not care that you know I am trying to look younger attitude” while sporting a bruised face or a peeling forehead in my daily excursions in Sugar Land. Why lie about it? I say promote the people who make you look younger and everybody wins! Most recently I met with Dr. Nina Desai, my primary caregiver, for lunch (she’s also one of my momma’s) to discuss her latest endeavors. Like me continually growing and expanding my brand, she has begun to expand hers as a practice that will include in her repertoire of services a few skincare and other treatments. I helped her with her marketing and promotions and in naming her new place RENEW “The science of great skin!” The name really works well for exactly all of the things she is promoting and incorporating into her business.

Dr. Nina Desai


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One afternoon, she and I decided to do my lips and fill my fold between the nose and cheeks. Ladies....I must prepare you.... this process looks much worse than it is, but wait for it because the outcome is fantastic. (Almost like plastic surgery, which I’ll explain in a future column!) Remember me saying I usually just go out and not try to stay sequestered? Well, Nina and I did this the week of Thanksgiving. At first, Brian was not exactly happy that “you girls got together and changed my wife’s face.” After a few weeks though .... after the swelling and bruising went away .... and in particular after one of my daddies commented that I looked ten years younger, Brian changed his tune. (Leave it to the men giving attention to the wife to turn a husband around! LOL) The results are a very definite but subtle change. My trainer noticed immediately. My friends, not so much. Will I do it again? Ahhh yes, and yes, and yes! Anything that makes me look ten years younger is automatically on my to do list! My Birthday Bash is coming soon February 24 from 2 to 6 pm, and all of ya’ll are invited. I have put together all of my favorite things to create a lovely day for all of us with over $1200 in swag bag goodies for each of my guests! Nina and many other colleagues will be there to do peels and make-up and really cool stuff! Part of being a successful business woman is having the ability to cross promote others and continually reinvent oneself. Although everyone knows me as a photographer, I am so much more than that. I have dedicated this year to continue to reinforce and build my brand as a writer, speaker, painter, marketer and philanthropist. Each of us has in us multiple passions and opportunities to create a more authentic and multi-faceted self. My challenge to each of you is to allow me to hear what you are most excited about and want to grow into for 2012. Together, we are better in building a brand new YOU! Take care of you!

Check our Catering Blog at for pictures and menus Available for Office and Corporate Catering Monday – Friday Social Catering Holiday Cooking Woman-Owned Business Since 1994

Come see us at the Imperial Farmer’s Market 9am - 1pm each Saturday

We specialize in catering and weekly dinners to go. Order online or call 281-313-2433. | 9920 Highway 90A Ste. B 260, Sugar Land | Closed Mon.; Tue. & Wed. 10-6; Thur. & Fri. 10-7


Waterfront Living

Located in Rockport, Texas on beautiful Copano Bay, this 6.27 acre property boasts an (approx.) 520 ft. waterfront. The (approx.) 5500 sq. ft. home has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths with an attached garage and a 4000 sq.ft. shop. A must see! By appointment only. $1,710,000. Contact Terese Peabody 512-628-8532 office 512-699-7711 cell 866-894-3488 toll free | February / March 2012 l




By Sophia Vassiliou

Romancing Your Décor

Whether Valentine’s or any day, what better time to be inspired by reds, whites, and pinks? You can’t find colors much more symbolic of love than those! Sure, you can do a red pillow here or a pink throw there, but why not go all out and wallpaper a focal wall with a vibrant pattern, paint your walls a striking red, or cover a chair in pink or white fabric? After all, this is the holiday of love and romance, so why not fall in love all over again with your home?

Make a Love Wreath

Gather, wrap, and wire – it’s as simple as that. Look for heart shaped grapevine wreaths at craft stores. Using real or faux berries, cut in six to eight-inch lengths, and bind several short bunches together with Flora tape. Secure the berries to the front of the wreath by wrapping with wire or stick bunches in front of the grapevine wreath. Berries are at their peak now, so welcome your guests with a bright wreath made with love.

Ange Arm Chair

It doesn’t have to be a romantic day to enjoy a great chair. Add a little bit of art and romance to any room or patio with Fermob’s Ange Chair. The seat reads: “Nose to nose, face to face, mouth to mouth, heart to heart” in French. Choose from all 20 Fermob colors. A great gift for someone special, and a fantastic focal chair for indoors or out. Find them at Fermob USA through or

Set the Scene for Romance Try a “Pouf”

One piece of furniture and a pouf – you have changed the look of a room. Design your own romantic pouf using the texture, style and color you desire. offers choices of styles, fabrics, and sizes for this new look in any room. A pouf can also serve as an ottoman, footstool, child’s seat, floor pillow, side table, meditation chair, or just a fun piece of extra seating. That’s what makes a pouf so wonderful - they are multi-functional furniture.

Need a little inspiration for your table setting? Use any great piece of porcelain, crystal, or glass to float one simple flower from the garden or your florist for each place or for the table’s centerpiece. Make it your own creation. Cut out all sizes of hearts from old cards or patterned paper and scatter on the table. Simple white plates work with bold color napkins. Use red or pink candles of any size for added color and voila! – hearts and flowers with a new twist.

Seeing Red

This is a great time to visit pinks and reds, which are synonymous with fun and warmth. A great wallpaper pattern, red shade, or pink door are classics all year long. Accessories in vibrant reds are ravishing!

For more decorating tips, visit Sophia at


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absolutely! focus media’s Focus on the Holidays Party December 21, 2011 The Imperial Theater Sugar Land, TX absolutely! focus media staff members were celebrating the holidays and the addition of new staff family members and contributors with the acquisition of two new publications, absolutely! Katy and absolutely! Memorial. With the Imperial Theater as the backdrop, guests were treated to an exhibit by local artist Veronica Dyer. Musical entertainment ranged from jazz and blues to opera. A selection of wines and appetizers were provided by Lasagna House at Sugar Land Town Square.

Jennifer Elliott & Mary Doetterl

Michael Fredrickson, Nancy & Pete Olson with Lisa Fredrickson

Matthew & Jennifer Babisak

Claudia & Pete Richter

Brent Milam & Lara Bell

Susie & John Ainsworth

Edward Crowell & Timothy Boaz

Michael Epps & Sarah Ware

Robyn Miller & Jacquie Chaumette

May & Lindsey Tape

Jessica & Jason Hodge

Scott & Terri Bieber

Don’t miss out on our next event!

Join Focus on Women’s Ultimate Girls’ Club. Visit Jessica & Jim Kij

February / March 2012 l




By DeAnne Pearson



Lessons Learned and Values Shared: Careers, Trends and Opportunities



ver the years the last fifteen years, I have had many opportunities to lead women as I speak and coach on the subjects that I feel most passionate about: career development and job search. It has been my pleasure to work with thousands of women over those many years and support them toward gaining meaningful and successful careers, and over those years, I have noticed some common themes among the queries. I have gathered the most pervasive and impactful questions and answers that I have been asked in more recent years in this article to share. Is it true that women still earn less per year than their male colleagues, and is being paid less than a man applying for the same position what I should expect as I prepare to interview?


focus on women

Well, I see this question as having two parts. First, let’s tackle, “Is it true that women still earn less per than their male colleagues?” Equal pay has been the law since 1963. Yet more than 48 years later, women are still paid less than men even when we have similar education, skills and experience. Census data shows that women who work full-time still earn, on average 77 cents for every dollar men earn for performing the same work. This is based on the most recent data released September 16, 2010 for earnings in 2009 and shows that there was virtually no change from the previous year. (That number drops to 68% for AfricanAmerican women and 58% for Latinas.) The good news is that Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009, which gives employees back their day in court to challenge a wage gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass the Senate by only a few votes in November 2010. The Paycheck Fairness Act is comprehensive legislation that would have deterred wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and bar retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. The bill strengthens the Equal Pay Act to ensure that effective protection is enacted against sex-based pay discrimination.

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Toward that end, it also allows women to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subject to discrimination based on race and national origin. The Coalition of Labor Union Women has more information on how to support the Equal Pay Act at Now for the second half of the question, “...Is being paid less than a man applying for the same position what I should expect as I prepare to interview?” A woman being paid less is a fact throughout the nation according to the statistics cited above; however, this statistic is based on an average. So, my advice is, “Do not be average!” This sounds obvious, maybe even asinine. However, if you are going to beat the average pay, you need to prove that you are above average. It is my experience that people put more time into planning a vacation, or even where to go for lunch, each year than they do managing their career. So, my advice for women is the same as it is for men: get a clear picture of where you are professionally right this minute, i.e. your knowledge, skills and abilities. Knowledge is easy to inventory and includes the obvious, like degrees, certifications, training and other on-the-

job experiences that led to your current success. Skills are what you can do, tasks or work that you can perform. Abilities are the areas where you really shine. Often, abilities are professional areas where you combine your knowledge and skills to perform at your absolute best or innate talents that come through and put you ahead in performing at a task or in a particular setting. Once you know what you have to offer, prepare to present that clear picture for the interview, to pursue advancement, or to obtain a pay increase, and you will not be average. There are other ways to prepare for the interview as a process, but that is another article. What if I have taken off time to raise my children or to care for a family member? How do I explain that gap in employment, and what if I don’t want to go back to what I was doing before? I get this question a lot. As women, we are much more likely to set our career aside to be the primary care-giver for our children and assume the role of running children to and from doctor’s appointments, play dates, sporting events, as well as coordinating events for schools and religious affiliations. Much of this is also true for women who care for an ailing family member as well. So, how do you get your career back in focus when your attention has been at home? First, get in touch with who you are as person. What is important to you? I believe that through self-reflection, assessments or coaching you will soon find who you are at the core. In my practice as a Career Coach, I have developed a tool called the Values Compass that helps you discover the values that are at the center of your life, your “being” in coaching terms, and this helps you determine where to focus your first step in re-entering the workforce. You can see my Values Compass at www.passionforlifepassionforfood. Then, it is important to build a plan for how you want to re-launch your career. Do you want to work full-time with benefits? Do you want to work part-time and cover your own benefits? Does your experience lead you towards the possibility of working from home? What about taking your previous career virtual? Many


positions can be totally transferred to an online business model. A great example of a career that has jumped on the internet band wagon is the personal assistant. A professional virtual assistant can manage a client’s email, calendar, newsletter, mailings and other tasks remotely and quite well. As a coach, I use a virtual assistant, and the fact that I can reach out by text or email to my assistant as my schedule and my family’s schedule permits is a great benefit and allows me to concentrate on the work I love. So, both my assistant and I have more flexibility. It’s a win-win! How important is an advanced degree now in the world of work? Yes, there are professional fields where not only the type of degree, but the level of degree matter for accreditation or to be considered a professional in that field. After all, you wouldn’t want a tree surgeon taking out your tonsils. Earning a degree demonstrates a knowledge base and a certain amount of resolve and self-discipline.


However, a degree does not always guarantee success. Along with earning that degree comes three other attributes that must line up for success - determination, desire and direction. So, in all, that piece of paper can only be as crucial as you the make it by backing it up with solid experience, clear goals and the ability to learn on your feet. So, I encourage my clients to reach for positions that are not always aligned with their formal education or degree, knowing that determination, desire and direction are also important commodities in the job market to convey to an employer. I have heard all my life that you should do what you love, and the money will follow. Is that true? Now, more than ever, there is an ability to make what you love to do into a profit-making venture. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. First, it is wise to find out why you love your passion. For example, if you love to take photos outdoors because you love


Continued on page 54

How do you get your career back in focus when your attention has been at home? First, get in touch with who you are as person.

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Career continued from page 53

entertaining I

By Stephenie Cox



being alone and having the chance to photograph only what makes you happy because it gives you sense of freedom, that is great. But, if you were taking photos five days a week and the content has to be accepted or edited by a paying client, would that still feel like freedom? If the answer is no, then possibly this is better left as an avocation or hobby. If the answer is yes, and you still feel that photography means freedom, then it is time to check the career out further. Am I saying you should abandon your life, family and responsibilities to pursue a dream career? No, no one should shrug off their responsibilities without a plan. I recommend either researching it on your own or obtaining some guided career exploration with a career coach or counselor. If you decide that being an independent business owner is your dream, there are plenty of small business support groups, incubators and business coaches available to help you hone your skills to make it a reality. If a career passion is really calling out to you, and you discover you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the internet may become your greatest business tool. Through the internet, people are working globally from their home offices with the ability to build profitable niches focused on just about any passion. One example that comes to mind is Rachel Z. Cornell at After finding out that her mother had a very aggressive form of cancer, Rachel totally changed her own life. Seeing her mother’s illness as a sign, Rachel decided to face the many obstacles that had sidelined her from completing a degree in the arts, including being legally blind. In doing so, she learned the steps to achieve her daunting goals and the strength to keep her motivated to reach the dream of a degree. With this newfound knowledge, direction and the internet, she established Pro Nagger. Now, Rachel helps people achieve everything from writing a dissertation to getting their office organized through her online programs, tools and one-on-one coaching. Yes, Rachel reaches people all over the world and encourages them to get their own lives together in big and small ways, incredible! This was just a small sampling of questions and answers that women often bring to me. However, if you have additional questions, you are welcome to reach out to me, and I would be happy to follow up with you. Send me your questions to and let’s move forward together!


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e all know Houstonians love to eat out, so we’ve done the hard work for you! We have perused the mouth-watering menus, tasted the best of the best, and will now introduce you to who’s behind some of Houston’s tastiest restaurants.

Meet the Restaurateur

John M. Carrabba

Janice and John M. Carrabba with daughter Jessica.

Piatto’s Tiramisu (One cake/12 slices)

Ingredients: 4 ½ lbs Mascarpone Cheese 1 cup Sugar 3/4 quart Heavy Cream 4 Tbsp “Myers” Rum 3/4 package Lady Fingers 2 Tbsp Amaretto 2 cups Espresso 2 ounces Chocolate Shavings Preparation: • Place mascarpone cheese, rum, cream, amaretto and sugar in mixer; and beat with flat beater until well blended.


What inspired you to be a restaurateur? Watching the women in my family cook, share recipes and pass them from one generation to the next was my first inspiration. Secondly, to be successful in the restaurant business, you really need to enjoy being around people, to make people happy and to make the atmosphere festive. I have always been a people person and being in the restaurant business, I’m always surrounded by friends, family and longtime customers who have become like a second family to me.


What childhood memory do you think affects your restaurant the most? I remember watching my great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mother all cook together, put elaborate meals together for our large family gatherings, which inspired me to learn how to cook. There

• Separate half of mixture. • Dip each lady finger in espresso mixture for 2 seconds and then place in half-size hotel pan, sugar side down, until bottom of pan is covered. • Pour half of mascarpone mixture over lady fingers, then place 1 ounce of chocolate shavings on top. • Repeat the process with the lady fingers and then spread the rest of the mascarpone cream on top. • When finished, spread remaining chocolate shavings on top layer. John M. Carrabba

was a closeness that could be found in the kitchen that spilled out into every other aspect of our life. I’d like to think that families who cook together, stay together! We have that here at Piatto with my mother handling catering, my daughter working while completing her college degree, and while my wife works behind the scenes, her presence is strongly felt in the restaurant.

Piatto Ristorante ROYAL OAKS 11693 Westheimer at Royal Oaks Club Dr. 281.759.7500 GALLERIA 4925 W. Alabama at Post Oak Blvd. 713.871.9722


Piatto’s will feature a special prix fixe menu in honor of Valentine’s Day in addition to our regular menu. Our award-winning Asparagus appetizer will be part of our prix fixe menu for sure. In addition, we will offer a complimentary glass of champagne to all our guests for the evening!





What flavors do you feature in your restaurant? Of course, we use only fresh ingredients, but the flavors you’ll most find on the menu are garlic, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Our Marsala sauce is the best in Houston, if I do say so myself! Our secret ingredient is the cooking wine used in the sauce. For our readers looking for a romantic night out, what will Piatto’s offer for Valentine’s Day?

What suggestions can you give the at-home chef to pull off an amazing meal? Using fresh ingredients and the KISS method – Keep It Simple Sweetheart! Work within your own comfortable culinary level, and it will be great! What is your favorite aphrodisiac food? I love chocolate, and I love oysters, so maybe one day I’ll create chocolate-covered oysters?! Crazier things have been put together successfully.

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By Jacquie Baly Chaumette, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Sugar Land

Female Educators: Role Models for the Past, Present and Future


Condoleezza Rice. Photo courtesy:


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he educators I admire most are those who remain intellectually curious and professionally vital for decades. They remain vivid in the students’ memories because of their creativity and compassion. I have thought a lot about this because I have been teaching at the University of Houston for almost a decade. I’m also very involved in the education of my two boys. We all know good teachers when we see them and bad teachers too. Below is a short list of famous educators who represent so many of us trying to make a positive impact in the academic field. Maria Montessori was the first woman physician in Italy who began teaching in 1907. Although the conditions were not the best, she found an alternative way to traditional teaching. While working with her children, she realized that they learned using their senses.  She developed games and tools that allowed children to learn subjects like math and language by using different materials. Maya Angelou has always explained that education has been an important part of her life ever since a teacher helped her recover from becoming voluntarily mute. When Maya was eight, she was raped.  She stopped speaking for several years after that crime. At 13, she learned to speak again with the help of a dedicated teacher and family friend who introduced her to classic authors such as Shakespeare, Poe and Dickens. While writing has remained her main passion, she has also taught at a number of colleges, including the University of Kansas, Wichita State University and California State University of Sacramento. For over 20 years, she’s remained a professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Condoleezza Rice was a gifted student and a prodigy on the piano, and she entered college at the age of 15. She was influenced by political scientist Josef Korbel, the father of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  She was teaching at Stanford University and becoming a prominent public voice on international affairs when she was tapped for public office. In January of 2005, after Bush was elected to a second term, Rice replaced Colin Powell as Secretary of State and served until the end of Bush’s term. She then joined the lecture circuit and took a position as a professor at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Anne Sullivan was the tutor, lifelong friend and assistant to Helen Keller, the famous deaf and blind activist. Sullivan lost her own sight as a child and attended Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind where Keller later went to school. Operations restored her vision, and she graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1886. The next year, she was hired to tutor the 6-year-old Keller, and eventually became Keller’s permanent companion and guide. Nearly blind herself, Sullivan used a manual alphabet communicated by the sense of touch to teach Keller to read, write and speak and then to help her go on to higher education. All of these educators have had long-lasting impact on the lives of their students and have inspired others to greatness. They possess inner qualities that encourage eager learners, and they also portray a genuine interest and pride in their area of studies. Though we may no longer be enrolled in school, it’s never too late to learn, and we all could learn something from these female role models.

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By Claudia Richter



Diners enjoying the natural, farm fresh goods at Ray’s Gourmet Country.


nown for their signature fresh game dishes and perfectly prepared fish, the philosophy at Ray’s is to let the natural flavors of the food shine without overly complicated preparations and heavy sauces. By using fresh, locally grown ingredients whenever possible, the menu at Ray’s Gourmet Country has an extensive selection of sophisticated choices that include customer favorites, seasonal specialties and new creations. Chef Soren Pedersen has been at Ray’s since it opened four years ago. Trained in his native Denmark, he has acquired a following of diners from Fulshear and the greater Houston Soren Pedersen is area who appreciate the Danish-born chef his organic take on that opened with Ray cuisine. For him, Salti four years ago. there is no satisfaction greater than a busy night when everything clicks, and he has a dining room full of happy people. The atmosphere at Ray’s is comfortable,

both casual and dressy, depending on the occasion, and exudes a friendly, neighborhood feel that keeps folks wanting to stay put for a really enjoyable experience. This formula has translated into much success for Ray’s as people are becoming more conscious of the environment and where their food is coming from. I have tried numerous dishes at Ray’s and found the food to be exceptionally flavorful and masterfully prepared. I was especially enamored with an exquisite rhubarb tart that I will be watching for Chef Pedersen to include on the menu again. Ray Salti is also a congenial host and makes you feel welcome in his restaurant. On my last visit, I noticed a wonderful selection of Valentine’s Day choices. I would recommend the Lobster Bisque with White Truffle Crème Fraiche or the Frisee and Radicchio Salad with Ray’s own Ceasar dressing and caviar to start, and the Filet Mignon on Wild Mushroom Risotto and Dried Cherry Demi-Glace for my entrée. The other entree that caught my eye was the Gulf Snapper on Lobster Mashed Potatoes with Gala Apple Slaw and Chive Butter Sauce. The sides all sound wonderful. They include: House Fries with Black Lava Salt, White Truffle

Ray’s is located in Fort Bend, a short drive from Katy in Fulshear.

Macaroni and Cheese, Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Asiago, and Butter Steamed local Broccoli. Of course, on special occasions the dessert is just as important as the main course. You might try the White Chocolate Souffle, Orange-Pecan Tart with Sweet Crème Fraiche and Caramel or a Symphony of Strawberries in a variety of Belgium Chocolates. There is also a Prefix menu to consider. Just knowing that the fish you are eating was not farm-raised, and the chicken and other meats and vegetable come from a local farmer’s market add a great component to feeling satisfied that you got a great meal for a great value. I also love the little drive to the country to get to Ray’s and the quaint, quiet atmosphere of the neighborhood in Fulshear. Ray’s Gourmet Country 8502 FM 359 Fulshear, TX 77441 281.533.0099

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By Stevie Benoit

9 to 5 beauty basics Follow these can’t miss tips on make-up, hair and more for a stylish look that’s always appropriate!

hair should be groomed and simple. Stay sleek and polished by using Royal Blow Out by Oribe. Mist this product on damp hair before you blowdry to help smooth hair and keep it glossy. Sleek ponytails, low buns and smooth tresses are runway looks that look amazing at the office. Try Moroccan Oil Hair Spray to keep any loose strands tamed.

make-up should be natural, but that doesn’t mean bare. A quick make-up application can be done in minutes and will help you appear refreshed and polished. Neutral colors such as brown liner, earthy eye shadows and a sheer or nude lip will add a healthy glow without looking overdone. Make-up palettes make your morning routine a snap with all you need in one palette. Try Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful Face Palettes which come in two different complimentary tones. Or, try the new palette by Mi Amore Cosmetics at Emmanuel Salon. Palettes like these make your morning routine easy because all of the choices are made for you, and they are complimentary to each other.

Short hair looks best with minimum teasing and volume to present a polished, chic image.

fragrance should be career appropriate and subtle. Save the heavy florals and strong spicy scents for your weekends. Lolavie by Jennifer Aniston was voted one of the top ten perfumes for 2011 and has a very light fragrance. Romance by Ralph Lauren is another top selling fragrance. Apply your fragrance well before you get to work to allow time for it to settle. To make sure you are not wearing too much, you can mist it in front of you and walk through it. Body Lotion like Jo Malone Orange Blossom is a way to feel refreshed without being overpowering with your fragrance.


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nails look fantastic short and nude. Pick a light color for work. There are so many gorgeous pale pink, taupe and natural colors right now. Bright colors, nail art and sparkle are too much for many offices. Two favorites of mine are OPI Bubble Bath and All Lacquered Up. Shape your nails – usually 1/8 of an inch is a complimentary look on everyone.

By Tracie Swonke



Cowgirl Chic

It’s that time Houston - time to Rodeo! Cowgirl Chic is more than just a pair of jeans and boots. It’s all about style and of course, turning cowboy’s heads!

Casual Cowgirl Cowboy Boots: $242 Jean Shorts: Start at $48 Boho Tunic: $42 Fringe Bag: Start at $48 Jewelry:  $6 to $48

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Rodeo Tough, Cowgirl Smooth Jeans: $42 to $109 Faux Leather Jacket: $68 to $98 Cami Tank Top: $12 Turquoise Jewelry:  $18 to $90 

Cowboys Meet the Indians

Cowboy Boots: Start at $88 Jeans: Start at $48 Cami Tank Top: $12 Poncho: $42 Feather Jewelry:  $6 to $28


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By Tracie Swonke



Girls Night Out to Rodeo Boots: Start at $88 Rayon Tunic Dress: $48 Wood Bangles: $16

Fashions available at: Anything Bling Boutique. Photos by: Rachel Russo Photography Rhonda J Rushing February / March 2012 l


fine arts

february 2012 THEATER

February 8 – March 4: The Seagull. Chekhov created, in his 1895 play that describes the romantic entanglements of a group of actors, writers, and artists gathered on a Russian estate, one of the enduring masterpieces of the world theatre, and a modern classic that grows richer with time. The extraordinary ensemble cast includes James Black as the novelist Trigorin and Josie de Guzman as the actress Arkadina. Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. 
 Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Alley Theater Neuhaus Stage


February 23 – March 4: The Houston Ballet presents Cinderella. Photo by Amitava Sarkar. The story has been a favorite for generations but make no mistake, this is not your childhood Cinderella. More tomboy than princess, Stanton Welch’s title character is a striking woman of substance, determination and spunk. She’s in control, fighting the oppression and will of her evil stepmother with wit and vigor. And, when she finds true love, she grabs it – and wisely holds on with both hands. February 23 & 25, March 2 & 3, 7:30 p.m. February 26, March 3 & 4, 2:00 p.m.


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February 24: TAO: The Art of the Drum. Athletic bodies and contemporary costumes meet explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography in this show that has critics raving about TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy and stamina. The stars of TAO train and live at a compound in the mountains of Japan. The performers reach the highest level of virtuosity only after years of intensive study; however, they each bring nontraditional flair to the group by drawing on their diverse backgrounds: one as a hard rock musician, another as a gymnast and yet another as a composer. They offer a young and vibrantly modern take on a traditional art form. 7:30 p.m. Wortham Center Brown Theater

Photo courtesy of

fine arts

march 2012 STAGE

March 13: Mythbusters: Behind the Scenes Tour. Photo courtesy of The all-new live show will be an unexpected evening of on-stage experiments, audience participation, rocking video and behind-the-scenes stories! For the first time ever, you can join Jamie and Adam on stage and assist in their mind-twisting and not always orthodox approach to science! 7:30 p.m. Jones Hall


March 23 – 25: Bayou City Art Festival Bayou City Art Festival Downtown 2010 Memorial Park. Nestled featured artwork Colleen in Houston’s treasured by Jeannie Maddox. Memorial Park, the Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park is an art lover’s delight. The annual, juried, fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Adding to the festive outdoor gallery are wine cafés, an interactive Creative Zone for children, restaurants, Broadway in Houston’s Broadway Café, and a performing arts stage with on-going multicultural musical and dance entertainment presented by The Houston Arts Alliance. Tickets are $10 for adults, and free for children 12 and under. All proceeds benefit ArtColony Association Non-Profit Partners. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Memorial Park

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March 22 & 23: The Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers Presented by Miller Outdoor Theater. Join Jake and Elwood Blues as they kick off Miller’s 2012 season in a spectacular way! The show brings you all of those amazing favorite moments and songs with a few new twists, a few new moves and a clean, freshly laundered suit. The boys are joined by the sassy Bluettes, three amazing ladies with voices to knock you clean off your perch. All your favorite songs are here, of course! Everybody, Shake Ya Tail Feather, Sweet Home Chicago, Think, Respect, Gimme Some Loving, and loads, loads more! So don the sunglasses, dig out your best pork pie hat, and buff up those dancing shoes because the Blues Brothers cordially request your presence for a night of the best music, the best moves and the best comedy you’re likely to see this side of Chicago. Just don’t tell the police, okay?! This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. 8:15 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre

Photo courtesy of

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the last word I

By Dero Pedero

Bring Out the Champagne NOW!


have a doctor friend in New York whom I visited one spring. The morning after I arrived, he and his wife surprised me with a fabulous breakfast. The table was splendidly set with a glorious floral arrangement, fine bone china, gleaming silver, crystal stemware and mouthwatering goodies. Served on the pristine linen tablecloth were tempting buttermilk pancakes, crisp strips of bacon, generous slices of smoked turkey, a variety of cereals and fluffy poached eggs. On the side were thick slices of wholewheat bread, orange marmalade, butter, low fat milk, orange juice, grapefruits and strawberries. The fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee permeated the entire room. “We celebrate today because you are here!” he declared as he uncorked a bottle of Dom Perignon Cuvée. I was


“We made a vow to celebrate life daily and not save the china, silverware and champagne for some future time we might not even see!”

completely dumbfounded for I have never, ever had champagne at breakfast. After filing up the fluted glasses, he proposed a toast to being alive. Later, I inquired why he and his wife had the positive, uplifting and marvelous attitude towards life. He reasoned, “Being a specialist in one of New York’s most exclusive hospitals, I see a lot of people, both young

and old, die. These are rich people who, even with all their money, cannot buy an additional hour to extend their lives. Yet many of us waste time away. We don’t realize what a precious gift it is. The rich would buy all those extra hours if only they could. “That’s why my wife and I have learned to value time and resolved to always be grateful. We made a vow to celebrate life daily and not save the china, silverware and champagne for some future time we might not even see!” His answer jolted me. I immediately remembered my silverware slowly tarnishing back home, the ‘good china’ gathering dust in the cupboard and the bottles of wine left fermenting in the bar cabinet. They must all be waiting for some important occasion and desperately longing for a chance to participate in a little celebration! Looking back, that spring morning was such an eye opener for me. I realized that I was one of those people infected with the malady called “somedayitis.” Its symptoms show when you catch yourself saying statements like, “Someday, when I have the time...” or “Someday, when I have the money...” Now is the best time for whatever is on your mind because this very moment is your only reality. Yesterday is gone; tomorrow might never come. You have only now, the precious now! Source: Jewels for the Mind

focus on women

l February / March 2012

Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair Formerly The Grand Wine & Food Affair

April 18 - 22, 2012 Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management F e b r u a r y / M a r c h 2 0 1 2 l Producing Partner and Beneficiary

Feb-Mar-2012 - Focus on Women Magazine-Fort Bend County, Texas- Inspire, Educate, and Empower!  

Focus on Women Magazine has been the premier feature magazine serving Fort Bend County, showcasing one of our community’s best and brightest...

Feb-Mar-2012 - Focus on Women Magazine-Fort Bend County, Texas- Inspire, Educate, and Empower!  

Focus on Women Magazine has been the premier feature magazine serving Fort Bend County, showcasing one of our community’s best and brightest...