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I am getting ready for dinner with the greatest Mia Farrow...

Thu, 03/31/2011 - 11:44AM by Lilly Lazarus 0 Comments -

It is Friday afternoon and yet another invitation has just landed on my desk. This one is a personal favorite, and close to my heart, The 2011 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award Dinner honoring the wonderful Mia Farrow.

Being a volunteer for different charities , I for years tried to impart that one does not need to be Jewish to support, nor understand the importance of bringing Genocide & Prejudice to an end.

It is really about understanding what happened during the Holocaust and committing to never allowing it to happen again. Not only to the Jews, but to any human being.

Being the granddaughter of a survivor, I feel the commitment and moral obligation to Tikun Olam (perfecting the world) is crucial, and undoubtedly at the top of my agenda.

Holocaust Museum Houston will honor actress, activist and humanitarian Mia Farrow this May with its internationally recognized 2011 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in honor of her tireless years of service as an advocate for human rights around the world.

Farrow will receive the award during the museum’s annual dinner set for Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 7:00pm at the Hilton Americas- Houston.

I felt chills when I heard the phrase “with knowledge comes responsibility”.

Mia Farrow most certainly has done just that. Over the years, her constant efforts have reminded us that once we become aware of the kinds of injustice occurring in places like Darfur and the Congo- we have a moral obligation to act. We cannot be bystanders to hatred and genocide.

Farrow has appeared in more than 40 films, but she is equally known for her role as an unrelenting advocate for human rights. Her Primary focus has been on conflict affected regions in sub Saharan Africa. Since 2004, Farrow has travelled to the Darfur region of Sudan 13 times and has written extensively about the Darfur crisis.

Farrow serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEFF, and has also worked extensively to eradicate polio, which she survived as a child.

She made a major effort to focus public attention on China’s support for the government of Sudan, with a special focus on 2008 summer Olympics that was held in Beijing. Most notably she applied pressure to filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who ultimately withdrew as artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympic broadcast. As a result of efforts by Farrow and others, the international Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir.

Holocaust Museum Houston created the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in 1994 in cooperation with the Johnson family.

The museum is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews, and other innocent victims, and honoring the survivors’ legacy using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides. The museum teaches the danger of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Previous recipients have included activist and humanitarian John Prendergast, US Sen. John McCain, television producer Norman Lear, the Houston Community of Holocaust survivors: the Late Daniel Pearl, Colin Powell, former US Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, former US Sen. Robert Dole, film maker Steven Spielberg and former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others.

Out of all the community and social events I attend, and believe me sometimes I feel a few too many, by far this is one of my favorites!

An educational and inspiring evening in the graceful presence of the wonderful Mia Farrow? Don’t know about you, but I am not going to miss this one out.

Should you choose to join me, our wonderful staff at the Holocaust Museum Houston will help you make the necessary arrangements.

Holocaust Museum Houston- 713.942.8000

I hope to see you there!

Lilly Lazarus


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 9:44AM by Lilly Lazarus 0 Comments -

Fashion marries art

Since I was a little girl I loved lace… I thought it was beautiful and feminine. For so many generations it symbolized wealth, and was actually almost considered a commodity. So it is no wonder why, when I was recently at a collection presentation, and realized that spring and summer 2011 is all about lace, I was so excited.

There is something extremely sensual about lace. It is gorgeous in moderation or combined with other fabrics and elements. I particularly love the fact that I don't have to give up my tattered torn jeans to wear it.

Over the years lace has been used in so many different ways. Interestingly, in the old days lace was even used to cover a dead body while awaiting burial.  Lace was a symbol of luxury and wealth, so this custom was meant to honor the dead.

How do I know that? These are the meaningful tidbits I have learned from my genius artist friend Sam Havadtoy.

Last year while visiting his home I was lucky enough to get the "tour de art".  We went to a lovely room downstairs at the basement of his home where his studio is.

Seeing all the different pieces of lace lying around I couldn’t help but be curious.

Sam explained that lace is used as part of the process of creating his paintings. "Lace is a delicate fabric with an ornamental pattern of holes and threads. For the past five years, I have collected old fragments of lace.  I feel a strange affinity with their condition. They were once loved and pampered, held in a place of honor.  However as they got old, torn and stained, they became useless, and were discarded.  Feeling the same way about my life, I wanted to use the lace fragments to express my own uselessness, hoping that in the process to restore its beauty and give us both a new lease on life.  We are all just fragments of each other." explains Sam.

Sam Havadtoy also known for his long term relationship with Yoko Ono, and years ago with John Lennon too, couldn't help but be inspired by those two icons. Yoko was quoted saying about Sam, "An artist is born. I am touched by the magnificence of his work.  He has dipped into the old Hungarian spirit and culture and created a work that is vey now.  It is very Hungarian, very Sam Havadtoy and it's beautiful".

I can't help but agree with the critics around the world who love this Hungarian born artist.

In November of 2010 Sam opened his exhibit "Beauty is Mystery" at the Tel Aviv Museum of Fine Arts, where he was honored. One of his most sensational pieces was donated by him to the museum.

I am touched and honored in equal measures to know him and consider him a friend.


We hope to see his work in Houston soon, but until than check it out at http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_new=42364&int_sec=2
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Parched No More!

Sat, 03/12/2011 - 4:22PM by Lilly Lazarus 0 Comments -

It is a fact that most of us live in a state of dehydration, which is not healthy at all. We know that we should be drinking more water every day, but we never have it on the go, or we think we will get a glass “in a minute” and then we get busy. The Vapur Anti-Bottle may just be the product you have been looking for to make getting those eight glasses a day a reality.

I saw a clip on the Vapur Anti-Bottle on the Today’s Show, but was drawn to it by the vibrant colors and contemporary edge. After learning more about it and testing it on myself and my children, I loved it for the many unusual features. It truly is a water bottle like no other, hence the name Anti-Bottle.

The Anti-Bottle is reusable and completely BPA-free. It is designed to stand when full and be completely folded, flattened or rolled when empty. You will never be lugging around a bulky, empty water bottle again!

The Anti-Bottle is simple to clean by hand, and dishwasher safe (on the top rack). There is a carabiner attached so that the Anti-Bottle can conveniently be secured to any bag or backpack and even a place to write your name with a permanent marker.

Vapur has thought of everything to make drinking “your 8” easier.

Vapur on the Today show: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41887605#41887605#41887605

**by Ali Katz for L'espace Maison


Its all about personal style!

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 7:54PM by Lilly Lazarus 0 Comments -

I am having a drink at Paris's most stylish "hotspot" Hotel Coste`s with a long time friend.  The kind of friend every girl needs, he is the handbag merchandiser for Hermes.

After a couple of drinks and once we dished out all of our recent sex encounters... mine sadly but a few.... the conversation heats up, we are talking style and what defines ones home, and a person as stylish.

"I am all ears I say", after all he is working for one of the worlds leading luxury brands. He than turns to me and asks "what do you think mon ami"?  for a second I didn't think my opinion would matter.

I say as follows " style is putting your own signature on the things that we wear, posess and the way we live.  People who live a life of style are passionate about how they communicate and live their style.  Fashion nor trend dictates to them.

They love their unconventional wardrobe, home and imperfections.

Stylish people vacation where they want to be rather than where the mass goes.  For they know who they are and what they love.  Stylish people believe in themselves and are willing to take risks.  They have huge sense of confidence, they maintain their beliefs and endure any critisism of who they are.

A stylish person does not blend in the crowd... rather they stand out of it!  Everything from how you eat, sit, give, travel, love, believe, defines your style".

This whole conversation came about because I was merely trying to explain to my darling friend what my business does.  I help people achieve that million dollar look personally and at home without jeopardizing their children's education by spending beyond their means just because they are trying to keep up with the Jones's.

"You pass today test" my dear friend announces with his broken English.   Phew, "good, now can we do more drinking rather than talking, I ask"?




Viva Italia!

Sun, 03/06/2011 - 3:32PM by Lilly Lazarus 0 Comments -

My daughter is yet again nagging and lacking in understanding... "I am on the phone, this is really important" I say as I speak to my friends at the Grand Hotel Miramare in Italy, with the hope (depending on how much nagging goes on) that I will manage to complete my reservations for my annual and may I add well earned retreat- The Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita, Italy.

I have always felt that either my mom must have had an affair with il postino (the postman) , who has been Italian or somewhere along the family line, someone must have been Italian.  How else would you explain my love and passion for anything Italian? Cavalli, Missoni, Portofino, Pesto, gelato, Cappuccino, to name few!

When I go on vacation, perhaps more often than others, I love to be pampered. I love to feel like I am the only guest at the hotel, and have everyone run after me, with a towel by the pool, the sunscreen,  the espresso, actually better even Aperol (italy's most refreshing aperitif).

Several years ago while booking my annual vacation to the South of France, I decided to venture further- Italy. I almost felt like I was committing adultery, and those who know me understand what I mean...  I love anything french. So how could I possibly even entertain the thought of vacationing in Italy?

But when I found under "leading hotels of the world's" website The Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita, even the hotel Byblos in St. Tropez was hardly exciting.

The vacation of a life time (I didn't know that at the time) was only a few keyboard clicks away!

"Grand hotel Miramare bonjorno", just the accent, the language took me back years when I was studying Italian at Dante alighieri, so I thought to myself "hey if this is not going to be as promising as it may appear on the website, I can practice my italian".

Hotel reservations done, flights booked, all that is left for me is to pack my "valigia" (suitcase in Italian) and Alora!

I fly to Genoa, one of the biggest ports in Europe, to be greeted by our driver, of course arrange by, now my friend Bruno- the hotel's biggest asset, the concierge. We are on our way, a 30 minute drive through the beautiful Italian scenery towards the coast. I can't wait!

Qui andiamo (here we go) we arrive at the Italian riviera, also known as the jewel of the Riviera, not incidentally of course, it is breathtaking! from this point all that is on my mind is "I wonder if there is a jewish community here? I wonder if there is a jewish school? and what would a small 4 bedroom sea front of course would cost?" I have discovered my soul mate- his name is Italy!!

We arrive at the hotel to be greeted by the friendly staff.  "ciao signora Lazarus? come esta" says the friendly concierge, yes Bruno. The nagging is starting all over again "mummy I'm hungry, mummy I'm thirsty" Are you guys kiddin'? did you see the pool? did you see the gorgeous purple/ fuchia buganvilla at the entrance? how can you even think of food now? I just want to explore this gorgeous property, I am in Jewish girl central.

At that point since my luggage magically gone to my room, Bruno entertains the girls while I am trying to take it all in. "Signora Lazarus, we have arranged the sitter she will be here shortly" Bruno assures me.  That is one of the things I love the most, hotel staff that gets it, that understands their guests needs.

I arrive at the room, in time to shower change before heading to dinner downstairs, at one of the Riviera's best restaurants, at the hotel of course.  On my way downstairs  I spot the back yard of the hotel, now let me just stop here and tell you, that if you offered me to pitch a tent and live there, I would in a heart beat! (maybe not). This property is surrounded by some of the Mediterranean's most beautiful and lush greenery. I am enjoying the lavender, beautiful bouganvillas and all the colorful flowers.

On the way to the restaurant, Jean Lucca (another lovely concierge) asks me if I would like to have an aperitif on the verandah? "what a question I think to myself, is the pope catholic?" while enjoying the view of the mediterranean bay who boasts some of the most beautiful homes and sunset on this gorgeous verandah, a friendly gentleman (they all are in Italy darling) comes over to introduce himself.

"Ciao, I am Andrea Fustinoni, (owner of the hotel) is everything to your satisfaction madam"?  "oh gosh it is, molto bene" (very well) I reply. After a long, and extremely interesting conversation with Mr Fustinoni, I discover we share many passions, but two profoundly.  One is Israel and Jewish affairs, the other is the arts.

I am always extremely faschinated by non Jewish people who are so interested, informed and passionate in equal measure by Israel. I later find (not from Mr. Fustinoni, being the modest self he is) that his father saved many Jews during the war.  At that point i'm in love! Italian boy, loves Israel and interested in the arts? bingo! I am about to convert this boy..... not really, he is involved.

Mr. Fustinoni (Andrea to me) escorts me to dinner and assures me that if there's anything I need, the hotel will take care of. Tours, shopping trips (high on the agenda), restaurants reservations etc.

After the most simply delicious dinner I am ready for bed, its been a long day and I have a very busy day ahead of me tomorrow.  After breakfast I am running to Portofino, an easy 5km away jog, from there I return by texi boat to the hotel, change and go shopping.

Santa Margherita is a small quaint fishing village that is summer home to some of Italy's elite.  It has a laid back feel, fab restaurants and great shopping.

I am in a rush since Mr Fustinoni has asked me to join him for lunch by the pool.  I am changing into my St. Tropezian kaftan and I am good to go. When I arrive by the pool where the lovely sitter hands me my girls, I notice this amazing buffet.  oops there must have been a mistake, there's a wedding about to start here. Let me get my kids out of here.  But just than Mr. Fustinoni calls me. He shows me around the buffet and arranges for a waiter to take care of us.  Wait a minute I think to myself, I should have jogged after lunch not after breakfast? look at this? its like a greek wedding! I am sitting for lunch with my new BFF and my girls, what can be better? at that moment my girls discover the best Pasta Pesto Liguria in the world, and all my meals planning for the vacation are sorted out.  From now on its only  Past Pesto. fine by me of course.

Now, that we have slowed down to the riviera's beat, I am forgetting about shopping and chilling out by the most beautiful pool over looking the Mediterranean bay.

After a week of the same routine, which we of course loved, (how not?) we are living to go back home.  I am heartbroken! devastation sinks in as my luggage is loaded into our drivers car, and we are saying our goodbyes with tears to the wonderful staff who took care of us.  I hug Bruno, I kiss Andrea Fustinoni and I assure them we will be back the following summer.  How can we not? these people took care of us as if we were not  only VIP guests but as if we were family. A lot to be said about family owned hotels.

On the way to the airport (still in tears) I see Sylverster Stalone and his wife (or one of them) walking on the promenande and I am filled with envy. The town is buzzy, the energy is so amazing I can hardly wait for next summer to be back.

That was (and remains) one of my best vacations ever! We have been friends and regular visitors to this wonderful family owned hotel.  Make sure you get your reservations in before the end of April as they sell out every year. Not surprising.

And if you are there in September, which is typically when we go, Aperol aperitif is on me!