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Year in Review: Roundup of the Best Articles from 2015

Joni Hoffman
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Buzz team at holiday party

The Buzz couldn’t happen without the tireless contributions of our entire team. Every member of The Buzz family is critical to bringing The Buzz to life every month. Pictured: The Buzz team celebrating at our recent holiday party. (Back row, from left) Helen van Rensburg, Cheryl Ursin, Michael Hoffman, John Duboise (next row, from left) Annie Blaylock McQueen, Andy Blitzer, Russell Weil, Dai Huynh, Darsey Swaim, Sharon Brier, Joni Hoffman, Jennifer Oakley, Andria Frankfort, Angie Frederickson, Leslie Little, Cheryl Laird (next row, from left) Amber Lewis, Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld, (front row, from left) Todd Freed, Michelle Groogan, Nikky Lawell, Kim Montgomery, Jay Janecek. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

I confess: Every time a new Buzz issue is delivered to our office, I look through it and declare that it’s the best issue we’ve ever produced. It’s become a running joke here. The truth is that every Buzz issue is special to me, and to our whole team, in a different way. 

But 2015 really has blown me away. I am so thankful for all of the Buzz residents trusting The Buzz to share their stories and impressed by all of our talented writers. So in the spirit of reflecting on another incredible year, I’ve selected some of the articles nearest and dearest to my heart – one per issue. 

Trust me, this list was not easy to compile. Narrowing my “favorites” down was nearly impossible. But here it is – a list of articles from this year that, if you haven’t read yet, are worth taking the time to read.


It felt right to start the new year off with a baby-themed issue, and Cathy Gordon’s Baby Goes Glam: Today’s nursery rocks to a stylish beat didn’t disappoint. The Denenburg home is dazzling, and the photos are incredible. I wish my room looked that “glam” now. It also fit so well to feature a gorgeous nursery in the same issue that Annie Blaylock McQueen premiered the first article in her Buzz Baby column. As a new mom of twin babies, Annie knows all the buzz about babies right now. 


Andria Frankfort's Perfectly Mismatched: Together ’cause opposites attract story shows how and why the phrase “opposites attract” is so true. I’m living proof of it myself (Buzz publisher Michael and I couldn’t be more different), and it was fun to read. And it clearly resonated perfectly with so many readers, as we received a lot of positive feedback on it.  


When I think about the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show, I typically think about the livestock, the carnival and, of course, the barbecue. But Michelle Casas Groogan’s Wine Garden: Bordeaux with your bulls and barbecue showed us all a completely different side of the rodeo. The wine garden is home to award-winning wines plus is a relaxing spot to listen to live music and chat with friends and neighbors. The volunteers who run it are very passionate. (And after reading Michelle’s story, we were so excited about it that the Buzz team visited the wine garden and loved it.) 


It seemed impossible to choose between Andria Frankfort’s Family Cookbook: Lives and memories told through food and Cathy Gordon’s Patmos Paradise: Easter on the sacred Greek isle, so I’ll tell you about both. Carolyn Rosenthal created a book of family recipes – and memories – which is cherished by many family members and will be for years to come. The story includes some favorite family recipes. In Patmos Paradise, writer Cathy Gordon brings to life Patmos, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean Sea, where Buzz resident Carol Senkel visits family. This story clearly touched many, as we received lots of letters from readers, sharing their own stories about visiting Greece. 


By day, Patricia Eifel is chief of the Gynecologic Radiation Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center. During her free time, she works on her home, Foxhall Manor. This home is an incredibly realistic, detailed miniature home. Patricia – and her miniature home – blew me away.

Read Tiny Retreat: A doctor’s respite in miniature by Cathy Gordon, and check out the photos; I know you’ll be amazed too. 


Associate editor Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld got married in March and returned to The Buzz office and immediately went back to thinking about weddings. She interviewed several Buzz newlyweds about the details of their weddings. Whether you’re planning your wedding or just love to read about them, you’ll want to check out the details and photos in Wedding Stories: Memories from the big day.


Our annual Photo Contest in July is always one of my favorite features of the year. I’m not an expert, but I’m always impressed by our talented neighbors. Be sure to browse through the photos in The Buzz Magazines 2015 Photo Contest, and if you love photography, look out for details about this year’s Photo Contest in the spring.  


Once again, I can’t choose a favorite. In my opinion, this August issue was one of the strongest issues we’ve ever produced. Tackling Grief: Living life jelly side up by Cathy Gordon is one of the most emotional, touching stories in Buzz history. Cathy tells the story of the Germain family in such a beautiful way. I won’t give away more than that, but if you haven’t read it already, you need to. Also, we’ve heard that our back-to-school package on school safety resonated with so many parents, teachers and community members. In Playing it Safe: Preventing crime on campus Andria Frankfort interviewed Buzz residents involved with Crime Stoppers of Houston on how to educate kids on school safety. Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers, wrote Safety Tool Box: Back-to-school guide for families full of important tips for parents on talking to their kids about safety. We are so appreciative of our partnership with Crime Stoppers.  


We had decided to feature biking in Houston far ahead of time. The article was done, and the photo shoots were complete. But then there were multiple, tragic biking deaths in our communities. We were so saddened and, for a while, considered pulling the article. Instead, writer Cheryl Ursin reworked her story Let’s Ride: Bicycling in Houston with an emphasis on safety, including tips and routes. Fortuitously, writer Jennifer Oakley approached us around the same time with an idea to feature ghost bikes, white bikes that memorialize cyclists’ deaths and bring awareness to the issue. Her article Ghost Bikes: White bikes memorialize riders includes heartfelt interviews with Buzz residents who’ve lost loved ones and those involved in this movement. Both stories are well worth a read, whether you love to bike ride or haven’t ridden a bike since you were in elementary school.


In October, college seems to be on everyone’s minds. Andria Frankfort’s story Alma Mater: Going to college, keeping tradition story features students who decided to go to the same college as their parents. It’s full of fun, nostalgia and spirit.


I know, I know – I said I would pick one article, but I can’t for November. In my opinion, it’s a tie. Cheryl Ursin’s story, Amazing Place: When memories fade, features a truly amazing place for people with dementia, which affects so many people, plus tips and resources from experts. Jennifer Oakley’s Lovely Like Mom: Mother-daughter beauty tips was so touching to me, as it features Buzz women who have passed beauty tips – inner and outer beauty – through the generations. 


Typically, our photo shoots focus on Buzz residents, not what they’re wearing, but for Jennifer Oakley’s Season of Style: Fashion savvy from your neighbors we rounded up some well-dressed neighbors to model holiday attire from their own closets. It’s such a fun article and packed full of great advice that’s inspired all of us for this year’s holiday parties. And again, I’m “cheating” because another favorite in December is associate editor Cheryl Laird’s College Apps: A parent’s perspective. We’ve all learned so much from her son’s college-application process, and this article is filled with important, helpful advice for parents and students alike. 

I could go on and on about our incredible writers and our columnists – Andria Frankfort on Back Porch, Annie Blaylock McQueen on Buzz About Town and Buzz Baby, The Junior League of Houston with Cooking Buzz, Sharon Albert Brier on Rumor Has It, Todd Freed on Sports Buzz, Angie Frederickson on Sports Buzz, Jr., Dai Huynh and Russell Weil on This Month in Dining, Tracy Barnett on Travel Buzz - but I have to stop somewhere.

Tell us in the comment section below what your favorite stories or columns are from 2015. You can view them all here. Have an interesting story you think belongs in The Buzz? Submit your story.  

Have a happy, healthy and buzzworthy 2015! 

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