Photo courtesy of Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

American first sisters-turned-best-selling authors Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush have a new children's book called Love Comes First in the works, and they're bringing it to Houston for a special event before it's released to the public.

On Sunday, November 5, the two will appear at a special event here at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (11612 Memorial Dr.)

Individual tickets to the event co-produced by Blue Willow Bookshop are $22 (find them here). Each ticket includes admission and a pre-signed copy of the Bush sisters' new picture book.

Importantly, there will not be a signing line at the church event.

Local fans of the Bush sisters and family may recall that the sisters were last in Houston as headliners of The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation's annual A Celebration of Reading. A 28-year Bush family tradition, the event honors the beloved first lady's commitment to fostering childhood literacy and is hosted by Neil and Maria Bush, who co-founded the organization.

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush will also appear at an early-release celebration at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Saturday, November 4. The authors' book tour that also includes Texas stops in Midland, Lubbock, and Waco (November 2-4) before the Houston visit,.

Love Comes First(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $19.99) officially goes on sale November 7.

Its description reads: "As two sisters watch their friends’ families grow, they wish on a star for a sibling of their own… and a younger brother and a baby cousin arrive! The new family members aren’t exactly what the sisters expected, but with time and patience, the group soon becomes fabulously four – and lets their imaginations soar! Together they can be anything, and no matter what, they will always remember that love comes first."

The book is inspired by Jenna and Barbara’s own families, the publisher says, and is a companion to their No. 1 New York Times bestseller Sisters First, "a tender story about the way our hearts can always make room for more."

It features illustrations by Ramona Kaulitzki, who also illustrated Sisters First.

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, the twin daughters of President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, grew up in Dallas, where their parents now call home. The two were frequently seen visiting their grandparents at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, where Former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush called home.

Jenna is a host of NBC’s TODAYwith Hoda & Jenna and the founder of "TODAY’s Read with Jenna" book club. Barbara is cofounder of Global Health Corps, an organization that works to solve some of the world’s biggest global health challenges.

The women appear regularly as guest speakers at fundraising events, but public events together are rare.

In an Instagram post, Jenna expressed excitement about going on a book tour with her "sissy" this fall.

They'll also hit towns in New York, Mississippi, and Birmingham, and will wrap up in a place with special meaning to the Bush family — Kennebunk, Maine.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

The Rustic's co-owner dishes on his Tex-Mex future, plus our visit to Rumi's

What's Eric Eating Episodes 334 and 335

On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” Kyle Noonan joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Free Range Concepts. The Dallas-based hospitality group operates four restaurants and bars in Houston: Bowl & Barrel and The Generic Public in CityCentre and two locations of its concert venue The Rustic in downtown and Uptown Park.

The conversation begins with Noonan discussing his time working for Pappas Restaurants. From there, he partnered with his college room, finance professional Josh Sepkowitz, to open the first Bowl & Barrel in Dallas. The duo then partnered with Texas country music singer Pat Green on The Rustic, which becomes one of the highest grossing bars in Texas.

After discussing the company’s operations in Houston, including plans for possible new locations of both Bowl & Barrel and The General Public, Noonan shares that Free Range is looking beyond Texas. It has already committed to opening locations of The Rustic in Arizona, Denver, San Diego, Orlando, and Tampa and has eyes on potential locations in the Carolinas and Georiga. Any of those cities or states could also become home to Joe Leo Fine Tex-Mex, which is named for Noonan’s grandfather.

“We’re really interested in Tex-Mex outside of Texas, to be honest. I had experience with the Pappasitos brand. There is a real hunger for Tex-Mex outside of Texas,” Noonan says. He notes that the market for such a restaurant would include former Texas residents as well as people who are curious about the cuisine.

“We like to look for opportunities and low-hanging fruit,” he adds. “I see a lot of green space for Tex-Mex outside of Texas.”

Listen to the full interview to hear Noonan share why he likes to visit a city’s oldest restaurants when traveling instead of its hotspots.

On this week’s other episode, Sandler and co-host Michael Fulmer discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the Houston return of Dallas Tex-Mex favorite Mi Cocina and Mexican bakery El Bolillo opening a new location in west Houston.

In the restaurants of the week segment, Fulmer and Sandler discuss their recent meal at Rumi’s Kitchen, the Atlanta-based Persian fine dining restaurant that recently opened next to Uchiko. They also share first impressions of Comalito, the new taqueria in the Houston Farmers Market led by star Mexican pastry chef Luis Robledo Richards. Finally, they describe their recent breakfast at Burnt Bean Co., the barbecue joint in Seguin that earned a finalist nomination in the 2023 James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Texas.

Bun B's next trill food favorite pops up at Sunday's Texans tailgate

get there early

Too often in recent years, tailgating would be the best part of attending a Texans game. While that’s not true this season — AFC Rookie of the Month and Offensive Player of the Month CJ Stroud has the team in contention for a Wild Card spot — those attending the game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 3 may want to get to the stadium a little earlier than usual.

Houston hip hop legend Bun B will use the occuasion to hold a special pop-up for Trill Tenders in the parking lot of NRG Stadium. Texans fans will find Bun B and the Trill Tenders team at the Modelo Golden Lion Tailgate, which is located near the Amegy Bank gate outside the southeast corner of NRG Stadium. Tenders will be served from 9:30 am until kickoff at noon (or sold out). Given Houstonians' enthusiasm for all things Trill, we suggest getting there early.

The first 100 adults (21-plus) will receive free tenders. Minors will be able to purchase tenders at a nearby location outside the tailgate.

A sister concept to his smash hit smash burger concept Trill Burgers, Trill Tenders serves, as it names implies, chicken tenders. The award-winning concept made its Houston debut at the recent Taste of the Texans fundraiser.

Trill Burgers chefs Mike Pham and Fernando Valladares teamed up on the Trill Tenders recipe. Drawing on their French training and experience operating Nashville-style hot chicken concepts in Orange County, Trill Tenders are brined to ensure they stay juicy when fried. It's served with two dipping sauces, dubbed "Soy OG" and "Pink OG," which looks like the chefs' take on the creamy and tangy dipping sauce served at national chicken tender chains.

Trill Tenders chicken tender and friesThat's a tasty-looking tendie.Photo by Golda Valladares

Back in October, the tenders won the ConTender Contest at the 2023 Tenderfest in Los Angeles where they beat out a host of top California chefs such as Burt Bakman of Slab Barbecue, Joan McNamara of Joan’s on Third, and chef Maynard Llera of Kuya Lord Filipino restaurant.

Sunday’s pop-up deepens Trill Burgers’ relationship with the Texans. Prior to the season, the team announced that Trill Burgers would be available at four stands within NRG Stadium. Of course, the burgers are also available for lunch and dinner daily at its brick and mortar location at 3607 S Shepherd Dr.

7 Texas Hill Country towns transformed into twinkling holiday wonderlands

Texas tidings

For Houstonians yearning to escape the big-city holiday bustle for some wide-open spaces and crisp winter air, it's time to head on a Texas road trip. Throughout December, the Hill Country rolls out the twinkle lights and garlands to give city slickers some yuletide razzle-dazzle. Unpack a cozy sweater, cue a playlist, and fire up the sleigh. These seven towns are so Christmas-cute, they could be the settings for Hallmark Channel movies.

Dripping Springs
Though much of the season is geared around kids, the many distilleries, wineries, and breweries clustered around Dripping Springs offer some holiday fun for the adults. Hire a van to bop around some of Texas' most spirited spots, including Jester King Brewery, Vista Brewing, Desert Door Sotol, and Deep Eddy Vodka. If nap time doesn't completely waylay plans, Christmas on Mercer on December 2 is the perfect place for some buzzed shopping.

With its historic buildings and rows of quaint shops, Fredericksburg always seems ready to break into an Irving Berlin ditty. During Christmastime, the streets erupt into a full production number. Through January 7, 2024, the town's market square hosts a daily lighting ceremony showcasing tales of Fredericksburg's German heritage and Christmas carols. The Marktplatz also offers an ice-skating rink and one of Texas' most dazzling selfie spots: a 26-foot tall wooden spinning Christmas pyramid.

Forget Stars Hollow. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's hometown wishes it could conjure up half the Yuletide magic as this Austin suburb. Visit the weekend of December 1 and 2 to catch the annual Christmas Stroll. The town's downtown hosts a family-friendly festival with vendors, live music, a parade, and plenty of festive food each year. And the Snow in the Park event ensures a White Christmas.

Johnson City
Johnson City's reputation as the "twinkliest town in Texas" isn't a mere boast. Its downtown display, illuminated through January 7, 2024, is truly a spectacle with more than 2 million bulbs glittering in the night sky. The Blanco County Courthouse is the sparkling hub of several community events throughout the season. Don't miss the annual chili cook-off on December 9, sponsored by some of the Hill Country's best wineries and distilleries.

Marble Falls
Sure, it sounds like a third grader's fever dream, but bumper cars on ice are actually a thing in Marble Falls — offering slip-sliding fun for those who have never heard of a salchow. Less bumpy are the other activities, from a pop-up s'mores bar on December 1 to weekend market days.

New Braunfels
Maybe it's the easygoing river lifestyle, but New Braunfels has always played by its own rules. That's especially true during the holiday season, when kids are delighted by visits from the chaps-clad Cowboy Kringle instead of good ole Saint Nick. That individualistic spirit carries over to the town's schedule of events, including a one-person telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on December 3 and caroling at the Natural Bridge Caverns.

This charming hamlet has no shortage of holiday diversions like the annual Trail of Lights, a walking tour running through December 26. But before the stroll, expect to open the wallet. Wimberley Square is teeming with one-of-a-kind shops selling everything from boho Western gear to French country home goods. The hospitality scene is no slouch, either. Grab a quick pie at Community Pizza or splurge on shellfish and champagne at RR12 Supper Club.

LBJ Johnson City Christmas lights, tree
Photo courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife

Johnson City earns its reputation as the "twinkliest town in Texas."