WHAT IT MEANS TO BE TEXAS STRONG

Houston─It’s been home to The Arrangement since 1992. If there is one thing we know by now, it’s that Texans take care of each other. We are strong. We are generous. And we will overcome this crisis. Texans join together in times of need.

We are devastated by the ongoing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and all along the coast. Our concern is the safety of all our friends and family, as well as those connected to us via business. I feel a sense of helplessness and have had to educate myself very quickly on charities poised to make the biggest difference.

What I do know is this: we will do more as good samaritans in this great state of Texas than anyone could imagine. Whether it’s opening our homes to folks that cannot return to their own or lending a hand to the cleanup and rebuilding when it’s time, we WILL go above and beyond to come to the aid of our neighbors. To all those outside of Texas, we welcome and appreciate your help too.

Do your best in the coming weeks. I know I will be.

With love and support,
Katherine

In times of crisis, how we come together to help each other is what makes all the difference. There are so many people who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey and are in desperate need of assistance. Thanks to Forbes and SBNation for compiling this comprehensive list. Here are a few ways to contribute aid and lend a helping hand:

EMERGENCY RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS*

Traditional charities that provide the basics—water, electricity, clothing, and food—are ‘king’ during natural disasters, but you can get relief efforts moving faster by giving cash donations. These tax-exempt charities have indicated they are accepting Hurricane Harvey-specific donations:

  • AMERICAN RED CROSS: Visit their website, call 1.800.RED CROSS, or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.
  • CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF USA: Visit CCUSA’s disaster-specific website or text 71777 to make a donation.
  • GLOBAL GIVING: Visit their website or text HARVEY to 80100 to donate $10 to Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
  • HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF FUND: Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, has established this fund within the Greater Houston Community Foundation. To make a donation, visit GHCF.
  • SALVATION ARMY: Visit their website, call 1.800.SAL ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.

LOCAL CHARITIES*

If you prefer to donate directly to local charities, here is a list you could consider:

  • CENTRAL TEXAS FOOD BANK: Donate here.
  • COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS: This umbrella organization coordinates shelters and organizations across Houston—donate here.
  • SAN ANTONIO FOOD BANK: Many displaced Houston residents will be relocated to San Antonio—donate here.
  • SOUTH TEXAS BLOOD & TISSUE DONATION: Local residents can donate blood in person—donate here.
  • SPCA OF TEXAS: In addition to financial donations, the organization is accepting in-kind donations like cat litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, large wire crates, toys, treats, pet beds, newspaper, and gas gift cards—donate here.
  • TEXAS DIAPER BANK: Donate here.

For a longer list of local food banks, visit here.

IN ADDITION TO FINANCIAL DONATIONS, YOU CAN…

  • FOSTER A PET: The SPCA of Texas has put out a call for foster homes to help care for the animals already in shelters and those coming from the Gulf Coast. You can sign up here. Austin Pets Alive is also seeking families that can foster cats and large dogs as well as cash donations and in-kind donations. Learn more here.
  • DONATE BLOOD: Donations of blood are also needed, and while you can’t claim a tax deduction for giving blood, it’s a terrific way to help. Find your nearest donation center.
  • WRITE A HANDWRITTEN NOTE: Kindness is always appreciated. A handwritten note or two, offering your thanks and good wishes to those who are on the front lines of these disasters (like police and fire departments, schools, churches, etc.) is a unique way to give your support.

OTHER RESOURCES FOR THOSE HELPING OR THOSE AFFECTED

*Please note that these are not endorsements of any specific charity. If you’re not a fan of these organizations listed, there are many other charities that would welcome your support. Please check the credentials of any potential charitable organization before you donate. Charity Navigator is useful for gathering information about existing charities and has a Hurricane Harvey specific section.

The King of Belt Buckles

Belts as works of art

The 44-year-old craftsman Jason Maida owns Maida’s Belts & Buckles right here in Houston, which is a cross between a museum and a cabinet of curiosities. Maida is a slightly eccentric and knowledgeable guide to such topics as the intricacies of alligator skin to Republic of Texas currency and, yes, buckles.

In 1906, Maida’s great-grandfather, originally from Sicily, found a position repairing shoes at a downtown Houston shop, and a few years later established Maida & Cuccia Shoe Repair. Jason was trained in the family shoe repair shops, with three generations of skill and craftsmanship as his foundation. But Jason had much more than shoe repair in mind. “In high school, I made a belt and put a buckle on it, and a friend liked it and asked me to make one for him,” he says. “I did, and he paid me $50 for it. That was that. I knew what I wanted to do.”

His grandfather told him to go see a man who dealt in buckles, who in turn told Maida to scour antique shops, flea markets and garage sales, where buckles of myriad styles and vintages were hiding in plain sight. Maida studied the designs and their construction, learned to identify the silversmith markings, and developed an intuitive sense of an item’s provenance. He learned to identify whether a buckle was made in Louisiana or Chicago, and committed to memory the histories of the companies and craftspeople behind the buckles. In 1990, Maida, then 19, took his knowledge and opened Maida’s Belts & Buckles, setting up shop in a corner of his uncle’s store in Clear Lake, a mile from NASA’s Space Center Houston.

His collection includes nearly 2,000 vintage and modern belt buckles fashioned from gold, silver and bronze; rare, one-of-a kind buckles, giant, bold buckles that would make a cowboy proud, as well as more refined and intricate examples – not to mention necklaces, bracelets and earrings made of of turquoise and silver and gold, cuff links crafted from gold-filled quartz mined in Australia, and money clips studded with historic currency and diamonds.

Jason Maida’s workshop is a clean and well-lighted place.

“I keep the Western tradition alive though buckles. Some do it through studying and collecting saddles or spurs or boots, but buckles speak to me.” They speak to his customers as well, among them Robert Duvall, Kid Rock and myriad oil executives who trade in Zegna for jeans, boots, and cowboy hats for weekends on their ranches. “Now I have the experience of welcoming long-time clients and their children or grandchildren into the store and helping them pick out graduation and wedding gifts,” Maida says. “It’s the best part of my job, because I can see that something I designed and made is on the way to becoming a family heirloom.”

Jason Maida is a curator, a keeper of the past.

Maida is a people person, full of genuine excitement about places and things. Ask him about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and his response — which will go on for nearly 10 minutes and should be trademarked by the rodeo marketing committee — makes one ready to learn cattle roping. When he takes an interest in something, he doesn’t stop until he has learned as much as he can about it.

The King of Belt Buckles

Post and photos courtesy of Paper City.

W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch

Stan Kroenke — who pulled off the $3 billion-plus deal that no one else could to bring NFL football back to Tinseltown — has bought this historic Texas mega ranch listed for $725 million. Kroenke owns L.A.’s NFL team and one of the most storied soccer teams in the world (Arsenal), as well as some other more “minor” professional sports franchises, including the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, but this Texas W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch clearly becomes one of his most impressive possessions of all.

At 510,527 acres, it’s larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. There are 58 houses, three lakes and 1,000 working oil wells scattered across the property, which has land in six different North Texas counties.

“This is an incredible opportunity and an even greater responsibility,” Kroenke says in a statement. “We are honored to assume ownership of the Waggoner — a true Texas and American landmark — and are deeply committed to continuing the proud legacy of W.T. “Tom” Waggoner, his family and his descendants.”

The ranch’s history dates back 166 years. There are even tombstones of some famous cowboys on the spread. In 2014, a judge ordered that the ranch be sold after warring factions of the Waggoner family couldn’t agree on what to do with the property after two decades of legal battles.

Bernard Uechtritz — the Dallas-based broker who handled the sale — says that a dozen serious buyers showed interest in the property, but insists there was a commitment to selecting a buyer who would keep the ranch operating and honor the place’s history.

The people of St. Louis might quibble with the idea of Kroenke being a great caretaker, but there are few men on the planet who can afford a $725 million ranch. Kroenke is something of a ranch man, as he owns giant ranches in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and British Columbia. Now, he owns the biggest — and most expensive — ranch in the world.

Photos and post courtesy of Paper City.

Ready to Sail?

This 164-Foot Expedition Yacht Is Long on Luxury and Ready to Roam

McMullen & Wing’s 164-foot Y/N 1016; Photo by Tom Kirkpatrick

Ready to ply the world’s waters with panache, McMullen & Wing’s 164-foot Y/N 1016 expedition motor yacht is sailing through its sea trials. The commissioned cruiser is the largest yacht built to date by the New Zealand boat builder and the second in the company’s Diamond series—designed by Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect—which debuted with the award-winning, 147-foot yacht Big Fish in 2010. McMullen & Wing’s latest wonder is sure to excel at global exploration.

McMullen & Wing’s 164-foot Y/N 1016; Photo by Tom Kirkpatrick

Currently still carrying the name of its shipyard number, Y/N 1016 divides luxurious interiors across three decks. An additional two levels, the sundeck and crow’s nest, are dedicated to outdoor pursuits. Accommodations for up to 12 passengers include 4 guest cabins, a multi-use cabin that can be easily converted for entertaining, and the owner’s suite (sequestered on the bridge deck) with its own private outdoor lounge area. A lowered aft cockpit (ideal for fishing and sunbathing) flows into the aft deck, which is positioned close to the water for easy recreational access.

McMullen & Wing’s 164-foot Y/N 1016; Photo by Tom Kirkpatrick

A range of 6,000 nautical miles (traveling at 10 knots) and a maximum cruising speed of 14 knots is made possible by two 1,000 hp Caterpillar diesel engines with ZF gearboxes and five-blade ZF propellers. Ready for a sail? (mcmullenandwing.com)

See more at: Robb Report

Vintage Southern Postcards

A new book showcases more than 200 postcards from the 1930s and ’40s.

Linen postcards were the original social media. Printed on textured paper with bright inks, they cost a penny a piece and became so popular in the 1930s & 1940s that American travelers snapped up nearly a billion of them. For the first time, they could easily share an image of moss-draped oaks in North Carolina, a dark passage in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, or a sweeping vista from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee with friends and family back home. A new book, Postcard America, by collector and University of Texas professor Jeffrey L. Meikle, showcases more than 200 of these iconic souvenirs—in all their colorful nostalgia.

The South’s Top Gun

Photography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

If you want to learn the art of British driven shooting—and shotgun shooting in general—there’s no one better to see in the States than Chris Batha. Just don’t let him catch you aiming

Shooting a shotgun accurately is the easiest thing in the world if you remember two things. First, you must never “aim” the gun. You especially shouldn’t look at the bead at the end of the barrel, which was apparently put there to tempt you into using it. Nothing makes you miss so predictably as aiming. Second—to the extent that you do aim, which, as you know, you shouldn’t—it’s paramount that you try to miss the target. Unless you are shooting at empty air, you’ll never hit anything.

After explaining these principles, Chris Batha, acknowledged to be one of the world’s best and most experienced shooting coaches, looks around the table for questions. He’s a big friendly bear of a man who has been in love with shotguns and shooting all his life. He’s usually smiling, as if after thirty years he still can’t quite believe that he gets to shoot and hunt, teach shooting, and mess around generally with shotguns for a living. He seems to have every certification possible for a shotgun instructor—right up to the Olympic level—and is a master gun fitter for E. J. Churchill Guns. He has shot game birds on three continents and in fourteen countries. He shot competitively—and successfully—for years and still does when he has the time, which is never. He represents a number of fine gun companies and owns one himself, Charles Boswell Gunmaker. He designs sporting clay courses and is a noted authority on fine guns. He is one of seven people in the world who have qualified at all three levels of the British City and Guilds program. If it involves a shotgun, Batha is your man.

Top-Gun-Elizabeth-Lanier-and-Chris-Batha-4Photography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

At twelve he was already shooting birds and selling them to local butchers. At fifteen he joined the Merchant Navy. He became a London firefighter, which required that he be able to carry someone of his own weight across his shoulders. Only a small percentage of such candidates were accepted into the London Fire Brigade. He became a London taxi driver, the exam for which is regarded as the world’s single most difficult geography test, entailing the memorization of twenty-five thousand streets and twenty thousand landmarks. He studied catering and once owned two pubs. He was shooting competitively, instructing, and hunting at the same time. He considers one of his highest accolades that he is a member of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers—a great title for a prayer breakfast—which was founded by Royal Charter in 1637.

Top-Gun-Purdey-and-Sons-shotgunPhotography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

Right, then, Batha says, moving on to the finer points of shooting. The way you mount the gun to your shoulder and eye is everything. You want it to be automatic, so deeply grooved in the brain that it becomes instinctive. This is a simple matter of practicing the mount ten thousand times before a mirror, your gun empty, your eye focused on itself in the glass. He makes this sound like a minor detail, easily accomplished in just over three months. “You do five repetitions of ten mounts in the morning, five reps of ten in the evening, and then you’ve got it.” Onward. The moment you see the bird (clay or feathered), you point at it with your leading hand (the one holding the forend, the wooden grip below the barrel) and track its line of flight with the leading hand and muzzle. Many people grip with the index finger pointing straight down the forend so that you really are pointing at the bird. As you track its line of flight, you bring the gun up and into your shoulder so that your cheek presses into the comb (the top edge of the stock) and your eye aligns with the barrel. Which you never look at, of course. You’re accelerating the speed of your swing as you do all this. As the gun touches shoulder and cheek, you accelerate the swing even more so that the gun moves ahead of the bird. You want to fire into empty space ahead of it. “They do not fly backwards!” Batha says. You pull the trigger and continue the swing through the shot, just as you would with a golf club or a tennis racket. And, depending on the composition of the bird, you have just transformed it into a little cloud of black dust or an inert feathered object even now plummeting from the sky.

Top-Gun-British-Driven-Game-Shooting-Academy-11Photography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

The French nobility of the seventeenth century were evidently the first to shoot birds on the wing for sport, walking in step with a line of “beaters” to drive the birds into flight. In 1660, when Charles II returned from France after his unfortunate exile (which we shan’t discuss here), he ignited a passion for the sport in England. It was soon found to be more effective to have the line of beaters driving birds toward a line of hunters, or “guns,” as they are called. Further, a line of pickers-up positioned forty yards or so behind the guns was a handy thing, saving you from finding and retrieving the birds yourself.

Top-Gun-shells-14Photography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the English gentry had a great deal of money and very little to do. Wing shooting—which required considerable outlays of cash, time, and work, done by other people, naturally—was the ideal outlet. The upper class became passionate and competitive devotees of the sport. They competed to see which estate could shoot the most birds, the tally being published in London newspapers. They competed to see who could acquire the best grouse moors, which was a particular coup (pheasant and partridge can be raised in captivity, grouse can’t). As tweed clothing became popular, estate owners went to great lengths to commission “estate” tweeds, patterns unique to a given property. Many aristocrats did little but hunt, becoming, in effect, professional shots. Their insistence on the best quality guns drove the development of the modern shotgun, which needed to handle the hundreds or thousands of cartridges shot over a day’s hunt without malfunction.

Top-Gun-Chris-Batha-3Photography from Peter Frank Edwards from Garden & Gun.

See post here.

Happy Hour: Rose Rickey

Who says you have to wait until the weekend to have a fun Happy Hour?

There will be a Happy Hour today somewhere and we want you to enjoy a delectable Rose Rickey cocktail! Why do you need to try this scrumptious cocktail? The Combier Rose and Elderflower Liqueurs add the perfect flowery spin-off to the classic gin and tonic. Just make sure to bring someone to share this lovely drink with! Enjoy!


Photo Courtesy of NMBlog.

You’re Not Nuts, Squirrels Are Fat!

If squirrels have seemed a bit chunkier this winter, it’s probably because they actually are.

According to experts in North America and Britain, unseasonably warm weather has given squirrels in both regions more time to find food, leading to localized populations of double-wide nut hunters in cities like Toronto and Cardiff. “We have had a really warm November,” David Sugarman of the Ontario Science Centre told Metro Toronto. “Naturally, if you’re an animal that’s got to make it through the winter with little or no food, you want to pack in as much as fat as possible.” In the United Kingdom, last month wasn’t just the warmest December on record but also the wettest, resulting in increased production of squirrel favorites like acorns.

“It’s been a very odd, unusual year,” naturalist Iolo Williams told the BBC. “Squirrels will eat anything, they are omnivores.” Luckily, squirrels self-regulate their body weight and this year’s extra ounces are unlikely to have any lasting health effects. “If the squirrel were able to stay chubby all year round, it might decrease its longevity,” said Sugarman. “But eventually the snow is going to come, the cold weather will increase and they’re going to burn off some of that extra fat.”

In the Southern United States, however, this winter has actually been colder than usual due to El Niño. So if southern squirrel watchers spot an impressively pudgy specimen, it’s probably just because everything’s bigger in Texas.

Decluttering For the New Year

Decluttering creates a sense of control in our lives, and it opens up a space to start fresh. This guide gives you a simple way to invite energy into your home in the new year.

You’ll Need:

– Space to focus your efforts
– Boxes or bins for sorting
– A good sense of humor about yourself!

You’ll Do:

– Start with WHERE to focus, taking only one space at a time
– Designate a box or bin to put the stuff you don’t want
– Set a timer to one hour
– Hold everything and ask if it’s a pick-me-up or let-me down (see below for what category an item falls into)
– Actually stop when the timer ends
– Sort/donate the stuff you don’t want

Sorting the Pick-Me-Ups from the Let-Me-Downs:

Clutter is anything that no longer serves a purpose in your life. Keeping something “just in case” you’ll need it in the future sends a subconscious message of scarcity and anxiety to your mind. It manifests in different forms, but there are a few examples that occur fairly frequently, and usually point to a blocked area in someone’s life. When you’re sorting through your stuff, hold each object and ask yourself it’s a pick-me-up or a let-me-down. Common drains include: things that need to be fixed, extras or multiples you don’t really need, gifts you don’t like but feel guilty getting rid of, stuff you’re just tired of seeing, stuff you’ve been hiding from yourself because you hate seeing it. Energizers are things you love and use: stuff you use almost every day because you love it so much or super-special stuff that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when you hold it.

Figure Out Where to Focus

Pick a place that feels stuck, but not something that’s so big it feels overwhelming. You should be able to sort through it in one hour. No garages or basements or big projects like that; we’re starting small here.

1. Your Closet

Our closets reflect how we feel about ourselves and how we present ourselves to the rest of the world. When you’re sorting through things, hold each piece and ask yourself if you love it and feel good when you’re wearing it. If you don’t, let it go. When we hold onto stuff because of the future or the past, we’re not accepting ourselves in the present moment. It’s a total self-esteem-booster to open your closet and love everything in it.

2. Your Junk Drawer

Junk drawers are the places we put everything we don’t know what to do with. Start here if you’re feeling pulled in different directions and you need to find some focus. You’ll discover so much stuff you didn’t really need or want, and you’ll feel so much more centered afterwards.

3. Your Bookshelf

Bookshelves are tied to the ideas we live with, our interests and the things that excite us. People with cluttered bookshelves usually have a million ideas buzzing around in their heads, but they might have trouble focusing or picking top priorities. If you want to clear real head-space, start with your shelves.

4. Your Desk

Our desks usually represent our careers, since they contain paperwork and the practical things we need to sort through to get ‘back on track’ financially or within our jobs. Remember, you’re starting small here…don’t plan to file all your taxes from the last ten years. Just grab the recycling bin, take a handful of papers and start sorting. Files are great, but piles are fine, too — keep your categories broad and clip papers together to file later if you need to.

What to Do with Your Unwanted Stuff

Put everything you don’t want in a box, and put everything you do want back in its place. When you’re done decluttering, sort through the box. For anything you can donate, put it in a box and put it either outside or just inside your front door (so you’ll see it and have to deal with it promptly). Either take it out and donate it now or schedule a date to drop it off or have it picked up.

Happy decluttering!

Rescued Terrier Experiences a Bed

This 7 year old bull terrier was rescued recently by her new foster parents. She is 7 years old and FULL of love.

Here, she experiences the comfort of a bed for the very first time. She was given the chance to feel the luxury of warm blankets and comfortable cushions for herself. She totally lost herself in the moment, rolling back and forth, and her adorable reaction is priceless.

If you’ve ever taken relaxing in your bed for granted, we guarantee you won’t after watching this video. Now this is the definition of pure bliss!

If you’ve already fallen in love with the adorable canine, adoption information is available at Pibbles & More Animal Rescue.