Hot Weather Tips from the ASPCA

July 1, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

HOT dog!

Hot Weather Tips

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, ASPCA experts warn.

“Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets,” said Dr. Camille DeClementi, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun.”

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs
Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Make a Safe Splash
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Screen Test
“During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured,” says Dr. Murray. “Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions.” Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Avoid Chemicals
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.

The History of Father’s Day

June 14, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

History of Father’s Day Festival as seen today is not even a hundred years old. Thanks to the hard work and struggle of Ms Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Washington that just as we have set aside Mother’s Day to honor mothers we have a day to acknowledge the important role played by the father. However, some scholars opine that Father’s Day history is much older than we actually believe it to be. They say that the custom of honoring dad’s on a special day is over 4,000 years old. There are a few more claims about the Father’s Day origin about which we will learn in this page.

Earliest History of Father’s Day
Scholars believe that the origin of Father’s Day is not a latest phenomenon, as many believe it to be. Rather they claim that the tradition of Father’s Day can be traced in the ruins of Babylon. They have recorded that a young boy called Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay nearly 4,000 years ago. Elmesu wished his Babylonian father good health and a long life. Though there is no record of what happened to Elmesu and his father but the tradition of celebrating Father’s Day remained in several countries all over the world.

History of Father’s Day in US
Modern version of Father’s Day celebration originated in United States of America and thereafter the tradition spread in countries around the world. The world owes thanks to Ms Sonora Louise Smart Dodd a loving daughter from Spokane, Washington as it is because of her struggle that Father’s Day saw the light of the day.

The idea of Father’s Day celebration originated in Sonora’s mind when she per chance listened to Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Fairly mature at the age 27, Sonora pondered if there is a day to honor mother then why not for father? Sonora felt strongly for fathers because of the affection she received from her own father Mr William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Sonora’s mother died while childbirth when she was just 16. Mr Smart raised the newborn and five other children with love and care.

Inspired by Ms Anna Jarvis’s struggle to promote Mother’s Day, Ms Dodd began a rigorous campaign to celebrate Father’s Day in US. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) supported Sonora’s cause. As a result Spokane celebrated its first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Though there was initial hesitation the idea gained gradual popularity all over US and Fathers Day came to be celebrated in cities across the country.

Looking at the heightened popularity of Father’s Day in US, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge too supported the idea of a national Father’s Day in 1924 to, “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations”. After a protracted struggle of over four decades, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day in 1966. Then in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World’s Fair in Spokane in 1974. Mrs. Dodd died in 1978 at age 96.

Other Theories of Fathers Day Origin

There are several theories behind the origination of Father’s Day.
Some believe that the first Fathers Day church service was held in West Virginia in 1908.
Others opine that the ceremony was first held in Vancouver, Washington.
The president of Lions’ Club, Chicago, Harry Meek is said to have celebrated the first Father’s Day with his organization in 1915 to stress on the need to honor fathers. He selected third Sunday in June for celebration, the closest date to Meek’s own birthday. In appreciation for Meek’s work, the Lions Clubs of America presented him with a gold watch, with the inscription “Originator of Father’s Day,” on his birthday, June 20, 1920.
Some historians honor Mrs. Charles Clayton of West Virginia, as the Founder of Father’s Day.
In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote Congress that, “Either we honor both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honoring either one. But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable.”
In countries where Catholic Church holds greater influence Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19).

Present Day Celebrations
Father’s Day Festival has gained amazing popularity over the years. The festival is considered to be a secular one and is celebrated not just in US but in a large number of countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and India though on different dates. World over people take Father’s Day as an opportunity to thank father and pay tribute to them. On this day children present Father’s Day cards not just to their dads but also grandfathers, uncles, stepfathers or any other person who commands the position of a father in their life. There is also a trend to present Father’s Day gift to dad, most popular of all being necktie. Other popular gift being roses, the official Father’s Day flower. Many people rue that the trend of presenting gifts to fathers has led to over commercialization of the festival relegating the noble idea behind Father’s Day celebration.

History of Mother’s Day

May 2, 2013  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

Contrary to popular belief, Mother’s Day was not conceived and fine-tuned in the boardroom of Hallmark. The earliest tributes to mothers date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities, and to the offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ. In England this holiday was expanded to include all mothers and was called Mothering Sunday.

In the United States, Mother’s Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it “Mother’s Work Day.”

Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Legend has it that young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.”

Anna began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna’s mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother’s favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day. In 1914 Anna’s hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.

At first, people observed Mother’s Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity associated with Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day’s sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother’s group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother’s day tradition.

Despite Jarvis’s misgivings, Mother’s Day has flourished in the United States. In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.

Spring Festivals in Houston

April 24, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments


Houston Children’s Festival
Houston’s official family celebration is held annually in downtown Houston. Benefiting Child Advocates, Inc., the event offers a dazzling smorgasbord of exciting activities, including six entertainment stages, more than 350 games and 10 family adventure areas. (281) 363-0900. April 6-7, 2013

Japan Festival
This annual event in Hermann Park’s beautiful Japanese Garden draws more than 20,000 people. The Japan Festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Japan with two stages showcasing music, traditional and folk dance and martial arts, as well as demonstrations of Ikebana flower arrangement, tea ceremony, origami and bonsai. (713) 963-0121. April 13-14, 2013

WorldFest: Houston International Film Festival
WorldFest brings a blend of feature films, shorts, screenplays, TV commercials, music videos and documentaries to viewers throughout the area. Founded in 1968, past winners include Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, George Lucas and David Lynch-all early in their careers. (713) 965-9955. April 12-21, 2013

San Jacinto Day Festival & Battle Reenactment
Texas families can celebrate the battle that won Texas’ independence during the annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment, which features music performances, kids’ activities, games, and living history camps. April 20, 2013

Houston International Festival
More than one million people attend this annual multicultural celebration. Downtown will be filled with ethnic food booths, arts and crafts, kiosks, interesting exhibits and 1,800 various performers. (713) 654-8808. April 20-21 & 27-28, 2013

Texas Crawfish & Music Festival
The 27th Anniversary of the Texas Crawfish & Music Festival, the largest and most established crawfish festival in the South, returns for two weekends of family-friendly fun featuring live music on three stages, tons of bands, hundreds of vendors, carnival rides, interactive games and activities for kids of all ages, as well as 25 tons of the best Cajun Crawfish. (800) 653-8696. April 19-21; April 26-28, 2013


Keels and Wheels Concours d’Elegance
One of the most anticipated annual events in the Clear Lake area. See hundreds of classic cars and antique wooden boats at this unique show. 713-521-0105. May 4-5.

Houston Dragon Boat Festival
The Texas Dragon Boat Association, in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, presents its 11th Annual Houston Dragon Boat Festival. The festival will showcase 30 teams competing along the banks of Buffalo Bayou at Allen’s Landing, and will feature Asian cuisine, music, arts and crafts, and cultural performances for the whole family. (281) 381-7154 May 4, 2013
dragon boat fest for page
Dragon Boat Festival

Art Car Parade
More than 250,000 spectators line downtown’s streets to view this parade, which showcases Houston’s most outlandish folk art creations on wheels. The Fruit Mobile, a 1967 Ford station wagon, started the craze in 1986. Truly a sight to see, the parade is produced by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. (713) 926-6368. May 11, 2013

Pasadena Strawberry Festival
A barbecue cook-off, a beauty pageant, arts and crafts, live entertainment, teen battle of the bands and the world’s largest strawberry shortcake are all part of the Pasadena Strawberry Festival. (281) 991-9500. May 17-19, 2013

Comicpalooza is a three-day sci-fi and fantasy extravaganza in Downtown Houston. Join celebrities such as Star Trek’s George Takei and Hercules’ Kevin Sorbo for this multi-platform event that brings together comics, fantasy, horror, steam punk, New Media, movies, film, gaming and of course sci-fi. May 24-26, 2013.


Free Press Summer Fest
The Free Press Summer Fest is an annual two-day music festival held at Buffalo Bayou’s Eleanor Tinsley Park. The third annual event featured more than 160 national and local acts on eight stages with a weekend attendance of 60,000. This year’s installment will feature bands such as Snoop Dogg, Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson, Young the Giant, Primus and many more. The festival was started to emphasize local musical performers, visual arts, and artists. June 1-2, 2013

Juneteenth Summer Celebration
The Juneteenth Summer Celebration is the flagship event of the Texas Black Expo. This annual event celebrates African-American culture–showcasing business development seminars, entertainment, shopping and fun for the entire family. The Juneteenth Celebration attracts more than 20,000 attendees from across the country. (832) 200-0540. June 19, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

April 2, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Origins of the Rhyme

“April showers bring May flowers.” We’ve all heard this rhyme at some point, usually having been taught it at an early age by our parents or teachers. It’s a popular thing to say and hear around the springtime, but one thing you might not know is where the rhyme originated from. It can be traced back to the mid 1500s, although earlier use of “April showers bring May flowers” may have existed.

In 1557 a gentleman by the name of Thomas Tusser compiled a collection of writings he called A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry. In the April Husbandry section he wrote:

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers

As you can see, the rhyme was originally a short poem. There is meaning behind the words, as well. “April showers bring May flowers” is a reminder that even the most unpleasant of things, in this case the heavy rains of April, can bring about very enjoyable things indeed – in this case, an abundance of flowers in May. “April showers bring May flowers” is a lesson in patience, and one that remains valid to this day.

Many of life’s greatest things come only to those who wait, and by patiently and happily enduring the clouds and damp of April you can find yourself more easily able to take in the sights and smells of May. After all, it’s easier to love something if you begin with an optimistic outlook! Here’s some more in-depth information about the meaning of “April showers bring May flowers.”

April Showers Bring May Flowers – The Science Behind the Rhyme

“April showers bring May flowers” isn’t just a rhyme. It’s an example of the spring cycle of renewal that many parts of the Earth go through, and can be scientifically analyzed. There are actually several contributing factors to the appearance of flowers in May:

· Rain – The trademark of April showers bring May flowers, the rain is definitely at the forefront of positive stimuli bringing about floral displays in May. Increased levels of moisture in the soil help plants to grow faster and healthier. The water can also help nutrients reach the roots faster as well, which is another side of the coin as far as rain is concerned.

· Temperature – Another contributing factor to making “April showers bring May flowers” reality is the temperature. As the days grow warmer, plants find it easier to grow. They are genetically hard-wired to begin growth as the soil thaws and the frost becomes more distant. This combined with the rain is a perfect signal to the plant that it’s time to return to life (or begin life in the case of a seed or bulb).

· Wildlife – The springtime sees the return of many animals, birds and insects. The renewed ecosystem involving things eating and being eaten provides nourishment for new plants in the form of fecal matter and decaying organic compounds. The presence of insects also helps to pollinate the plants, which in turn allows them to reproduce. This combines well with the April showers to Bring may flowers we can all enjoy.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Things to Help Pass the Time

If you’re having a hard time enduring April showers, bring May flowers into your home early by purchasing bouquets and arrangements from your florist. If you’re finding it difficult to wait for the growing season, this is a good way to secure a sneak peek of things to come. You can use the florist’s online shop to browse various pre-made arrangements or to get ideas for customized ones.

You can also make purchases and arrange for delivery this way, saving you from having to go out in the middle of a storm. It works well with gifts, as well, since you can send a taste of spring to friends and family without needing to leave your home (perfect if they need a reminder about how April showers bring May flowers as well).

You may wish to use this time to plan your garden for later months, or to do some basic maintenance on the nicer days. It’s good to get ahead of schedule, because then it lets you do some experimenting.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Sources of Information

If you’re bummed out and waiting for the April showers to bring May flowers, why not spend some time researching various species of plant, landscaping techniques and general gardening advice? There are plenty of resources at your disposal, including your florist, the internet, and books at the local library. By studying this material you can come up with great ideas to work with after the April showers bring May flowers.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of waiting for the April showers to bring May flowers are great. May heralds the beginning of the warmer months and leads into summer, when the highest concentrations of plants can be found blooming about the world.

So next time you’re gloomy about the weather, keep in mind the classic rhyme, April showers bring May flowers.

Originally published by Ken Bolt.

Tulips at Hotel Granduca – Houston

History of Easter

March 14, 2013  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

What is Easter?:

Like pagans, Christians celebrate the end of death and the rebirth of life; but instead of focusing upon nature, Christians believe that Easter marks the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected after spending three days dead in his tomb. Some argue that the word Easter comes form Eostur, the Norse word for spring, but it’s more likely that it comes from Eostre, the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess.

Dating Easter:

Easter can occur on any date between March 23rd and April 26th and is closely related to the timing of the Spring Equinox. The actual date is set as the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after March 21, one of the first days of spring. Originally Easter was celebrated at the same time as Jews celebrated Passover, the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Eventually this was moved to Sundays, which had become the Christian sabbath.

Origins of Easter:

Although Easter is probably the oldest Christian celebration aside from the Sabbath, it wasn’t always the same as what people currently think of when they look at Easter services. The earliest known observance, Pasch, occurred between the second and fourth centuries. These celebrations commemorated both Jesus’ death and his resurrection at once, whereas these two events have been split up between Good Friday and Easter Sunday today.

Easter, Judaism, and Passover:

Christian celebrations of Easter were originally tied to Jewish celebrations of Passover. For Jews, Passover is a celebration of deliverance from bondage in Egypt; for Christians, Easter is a celebration of deliverance from death and sin. Jesus is the Passover sacrifice; in some narratives of the Passion, the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples is a Passover meal. It is argued, then, that Easter is the Christian Passover celebration.

Early Easter Celebrations:

Early Christian church services included a vigil service before the Eucharist. The vigil service consisted of a series of psalms and readings, but it is no longer observed every Sunday; instead, Roman Catholics observe it only one day of the year, on Easter. Aside from the psalms and readings, the service also included the lighting of a paschal candle and the blessing of the baptismal font in the church.

Easter Celebrations in Eastern Orthodox & Protestant Churches:

Easter retains great importance for Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches as well. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, there is an important procession which symbolizes the failed search for the body of Jesus, followed a return to the church where lit candles symbolize Jesus’ resurrection. Many Protestant churches hold interdenominational services in order to focus on the unity of all Christians and as part of a culmination of special church services throughout Holy Week.

Meaning of Easter in Modern Christianity:

Easter is treated not simply as a commemoration of events that occurred at one time in the past – instead, it is regarded as a living symbol of the very nature of Christianity. During Easter, Christians believe that they symbolically pass through death and into a new life (spiritually) in Jesus Christ, just as Jesus passed through death and three days later rose from the dead.Although Easter is just one day in the liturgical calendar, in reality preparations for Easter take place throughout the 40 days of Lent, and it plays a central role in the following 50 days of Pentecost (also known as the Easter season). Thus, Easter can rightly be regarded as the central day in the entire Christian calendar.

There is a deep connection between Easter and baptism because during the time of early Christianity, the season of Lent was used by catechumens (those who wanted to become Christians) to prepare for their baptisms on Easter day – the only day of the year when baptisms for new Christians were performed. This is why the blessing of the baptismal font on Easter night is so important today.

Flower Power by David Brown

The History of Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2013  |  Holidays, Uncategorized  |  No Comments

The History of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

In addition to a bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women’s names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration.

While this pairing of couples set the tone for today’s holiday, it wasn’t called “Valentine’s Day” until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.

After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.
What’s Cupid Got to Do with It?

According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid was known to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows. But Cupid didn’t just cause others to fall in love – he himself fell deeply in love.

As legend has it, Cupid fell in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but Venus, jealous of Psyche’s beauty, forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche, of course, couldn’t resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three hard tasks, the last of which caused Psyche’s death.

Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Pysche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul.
Fun Facts

Approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. Half of those are sent through Care2 (OK, maybe not HALF… or even half of half… but we are growing fast!)
In order of popularity, Valentine’s Day cards are given to: teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, Koko the gorilla.
The expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from a Valentine’s Day party tradition. Young women would write their names on slips of paper to be drawn by young men. A man would then wear a woman’s name on his sleeve to claim her as his valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It's Tea Time Houston!

It’s Tea Time Houston!

January 31, 2013  |  Dining  |  No Comments

As the pace of society continues to hasten, it is rejuvenating to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the company of good friends.

At Hotel Granduca, afternoon tea is a cherished tradition where you can indulge in an elegant afternoon within the beautifully, intimate areas of the hotel. Whether you choose to savor your tea in the Conservatory, The Library or Ristorante Cavour, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget. In order to prepare you for afternoon tea, we wanted to share with you the history of tea and a short lesson in tea etiquette.

HG Afternoon Tea Conservatory

History of Afternoon Tea

During the 19th century it was common for people to only have two meals during the day, breakfast and dinner in the evening. It was the 1840s that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, began having a light snack and a pot of tea in the late afternoon to prevent the fatigue she was experiencing. Later she began inviting friends to join her for afternoon tea and soon other hostesses of the time followed suit.  Before too long, it was fashionable to enjoy sandwiches and tea in the afternoon.*

What are the differences between Afternoon Tea, High Tea, Low Tea and Royal Tea?

Afternoon tea or “low tea” is the traditional tea served in the afternoon around 3pm to 5pm. It has been referred to as “low tea” based on the height of the table at which it was served. This usually consists of three courses to include small sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries.*

Royal Tea includes the same offerings as an Afternoon Tea with the additional of Champagne or Sherry.

Whereas Afternoon Tea or Low Tea was a tradition amongst the upper class, High Tea was enjoyed by the middle and lower classes. It derives the name from it being served on a dinner or kitchen table and includes a full, family-style meal. It was often served at 5pm or 6pm and replaced the late evening dinner.*

HG Afternoon Tea Close

Afternoon Tea Etiquette 101

As Afternoon Tea is an uncommon and lovely experience in US society, we wanted to help guide our readers through the experience with a short lesson in tea etiquette:


  • Only fill your cup ¾ full to avoid spills and allow room for milk if desired.
  • Keep your cup near your saucer. If you are standing up, keep your saucer in your left hand while holding the cup by it’s handle in your right hand.
  • Pour your tea in the cup first before adding lemon, sugar or milk so that you can judge the strength of the tea.
  • Always stir gently and place your teaspoon behind your cup on the saucer.
  • If you spill tea in your saucer, politely ask for a new saucer.


  • Don’t add lemon and milk to your tea as it will curdle the milk
  • Don’t swirl the teacup as if it were wine
  • Don’t cradle the cup with your hands
  • Don’t raise your pinky while drinking tea
  • Don’t scrape the bottom of the cup and hit the sides while stirring

Now that you have had your tea etiquette lesson for today, are you ready for Afternoon Tea? Hotel Granduca in Houston, TX serves an exquisite tea menu including savory sandwiches, fresh scones and delectable pastries. We hope to see you at our afternoon tea soon! Call us at 713-418-1104 for reservations or more information.



*Source for Afternoon Tea History:

*Source for Tea Etiquette:

5 Big Steps in Planning Your Houston Wedding

5 Big Steps in Planning Your Houston Wedding

January 21, 2013  |  Weddings  |  No Comments

You’re deep in engagement bliss when you suddenly realize what comes next…you’re wedding day. It may seem like a faraway dream, but once that date is set the clock is ticking. At Hotel Granduca, we love weddings! Here are 5 of the most important pieces to planning your Houston wedding.

Step 1: Smile.

This may be the simplest step but it will be the most important. Enjoy each moment of the wedding process. There will be stress and anxiety, but you’re planning a day to commemorate your love for one another. The truth is you have a choice, even in the most stressful of situations, so smile your way through it and it will be much more fun.

Step 2: Find the location.

Houston is a vast and dynamic city. Houston wedding venues cover the spectrum on style, capacity, features and price. Find the venue that offers you all that you need and desire for this day. Whether it is a formal gala or a more intimate affair surrounded by lavish décor, you will find the space to tell your wedding story. At Hotel Granduca, we offer Old World elegance for the new American bride with our refined surroundings including Salone Rialto, a stunning wedding reception venue in Houston. Salone Rialto is a 1,500 square foot ballroom with stunning hand painted ceilings that is names after the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy.


Or if you would prefer an outside wedding venue, Hotel Granduca offers exquisite wedding ceremonies in the tranquil gardens surround the sparkling blue pool.

Step 3: Get Professional Help

As the bride, you will find that you are quickly overwhelmed by the immensity of planning the wedding of your dreams. With a little help from a professional planner, your anxiety will be quickly relieved, as you gain an understanding of the special role of the planner. The planner will help you from start to finish, whether it’s hiring a band, planning the menu, orchestrating your bridesmaids, etc. Hotel Granduca’s wedding professional understands the needs of a Houston bride who wants a truly elegant affair. Each detail will be discussed and planned to perfection.

Step 4: Find Your Dress

Hotel Granduca is just minutes away from upscale, shopping galore. Whether you are looking for a small bridal salon, or you want the finest in bridal couture, you will find it in Houston. Experience fine bridal couture at Casa de Novia Bridal Couture or Joan Pillow Bridal Salon. These are just a couple of the endless bridal salons and boutiques in Downtown Houston. You are certain to find the dress that will express your personality and fulfill that dream of your dress.

Step 5: Breathe… Ok, there are many more steps than 5 but these are the main steps to start the wedding planning process. It is going to be a crazy time for you and your husband-to-be, so take deep breaths and remember that you are planning this as a celebration of your love. Imagine your wedding day and feel the love of your family and friends embracing you and your husband. Then return to the planning process renewed and ready to tackle each challenge.

If you would like to chat with our wedding professionals at Hotel Granduca, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 713-418-1036.

Special Holiday Moments with Granduca's Staff

Special Holiday Moments with Granduca’s Staff

December 24, 2012  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

Granduca’s wonderful and international staff spent a few moments sharing how they celebrate the holidays and their special family traditions. We would love to hear how you celebrate the Holidays with your families. Please share in the comments box at the bottom of the page. Happy Holidays!

Every day in December is so exciting. I wish it could be Dec. 1st through the 15th the entire month. Christmas Eve is my favorite time. It is so calm and peaceful. Everything is done, and if it is not done, it’s not going to be done. As a child my family would put up the handmade ceramic nativity early in December; each Christmas Eve after dinner and midnight mass we took turns placing the baby Jesus at the nativity. It is the simple things that matter most at the holidays; a cup of tea shared with a good friend remains a cherished memory.

– Mary Grace Gray, General Manager

After work is my children’s time and during most of the year its filled with football practice, swimming, etc. but through the holidays they decide how they want to spend this time together with me. It is our tradition to open a gift on Christmas Eve and cook soul food listening to my favorite childhood holiday songs. Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorite times of the year as I think of my childhood growing up in Chicago.

– Nakia Holmes, Executive Assistant

My mom’s family is from Louisiana so we have Gumbo on Christmas Eve. I love all the lights and pretty stuff.”

–Heather Hickman, Sales Manager

My kids are my world. My boys are 9 and 10 years old. They know I work long hours, but the most important thing for me is to give them a kiss when I come home. Love from my kids is the most important thing to me. We celebrate 2 Christmases with our Ethiopian holidays with dorowet. Dorowet is traditionally very spicy and perhaps the best known food from Ethiopia. It’s often referred to as the country’s national dish.”

– Fekade Wolde, Director of Food & Beverage

Christmas Eve is my baby boy’s birthday so I cook chicken and Korean bbq for him. My baby boy is actually my dog Yanni, who is a Maltese.”

– Grace Kim, Human Resources Manager

“On Christmas Day we prepare lots of food. I learned from my Mom in China that from Christmas until New Year’s no one works, we just enjoy our time. We cook Peking duck, chicken, spring rolls – enough food for twenty people when there are only four of us. We also follow the Asian calendar.”

– Jeremie Heng, Maitre D’, Bar and Wine Manager

“I have two kids that are adopted from Russia. Christmas morning is extra special to watch them run down to see what Santa brought them.”

– Jane Whatley, Executive Assistant to Mr. Borlenghi

“I leave my Charlie Brown Christmas tree all year long. It’s Christmas all year at my house as the person who gave it to me is very special.”

– Ray Guyton, Director of Sales & Marketing

“A good feeling black and white movie. A roasted chicken with chestnuts, nice selection of cheese and wine of course…and end it all with a buche de Noel or “Christmas log”.

– Christine Bayol, Director of Operations

“My family is all back in Italy. I still decorate my house and go buy my Panettone and all the typical Italian Christmas desserts. My nativity set is important to me. As a child our nativity set was huge. We would build mountains out of cardboard and use fresh moss. On Christmas Day we would put the baby Jesus in its place. Then after Christmas we would start to move the three kings closer to the nativity every day.”

–Renato de Pirro, Executive Chef