Friday, July 31, 2009

Where Will You Be On White Linen Night?

We know you all know WHITE LINEN NIGHT is this Saturday, Aug 1st. While most people flock to 19th Street, don't forget there will be a lot of specials and entertainment at some of the great businesses along Studewood.

Oo La La will once again host St Arnold's Brewery (free beer, people). They will have an onsite henna artist, Pop Squad Animal Rescue and Sonny Boy Terry providing the soundtrack live. There will also be a huge sale, so get yourself some great stuff by local artists and designers and support Heights businesses!

Antidote will have live music from one of Houston's most talented musical mishmashes, I Am Mesmer . Put together by local musician Geoffrey Muller, aka Uncle Tick, who plays Banjo, Cigar box Guitar, and Musical Saw, I Am Mesmer is "a super group of banshee pilgrims" including Jo Bird (viola), Kelly Doyle (Electric guitar), Hilary Sloan (Fiddle), Lukas Aberer (Gypsy Jazz Guitar), Wilhelm Van Horn (Banjo),Robert Ellis (Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin), Mike Whitebread (Stand Up Bass), Kirk Surddreath (Percussion).

The Big Mamou will have live music, beniets starting at 10am in the parking lot, special appetizers, draft beer and their regular lunch and dinner menu.

Also, Heights Life friend Soniya from The Original Henna Company (over at 1130 Yale) is going to have Indian Food and drinks. That should be a treat!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Heights Happenings

In conjunction with this weekend's White Linen Night festivities, Young At Art is hosting a KIDS NIGHT IN!

  • Drop off your kids (ages 5 & up, please) for a fun night of pottery painting, PAINT ME t-shirt fun and pizza while you enjoy cruising 19th Streetages
  • 6-9:30, $60 (+ tax).
  • Pre-registration is required (simply send an e-mail via their website or call to reserve your spot... Payment due at drop off).
  • 244 W. 19th, 713-862-0900
Monday, August 3, 6:30 pm: Houston Heights Association Land Use Meeting
  • The Land Use Meeting will take place at the Fire Station.

Outside The Heights:

Friday, July 31 @ 8pm: Outdoor Movie at the Menil

  • Aurora Picture Show partners with the Menil Collection to present a free outdoor series of Western screenings in the park. High Noon is an American 1952 western film starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film tells the story of a town marshal who is forced to face a gang of killers by himself. Somewhat controversial upon its release in 1952, High Noon, has been described as an “existential Western”. Bring your blankets and picnics for a western film screening under the stars.
  • Free admission

Saturday, August 1, 10 am - 3pm: Welcome Home for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Be a part of the Welcome Home Event for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.
  • Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray Street
  • All veterans of the Post 9/11 era, their families, community organizations, elected officials, local businesses and military supporters are invited to attend a day of FREE food, games for kids, entertainment, music, adaptive sports demonstrations and so much more!
  • The event will also feature a resource fair focusing on GI Bill and Hazlewood education benefits, employment networking and services, as well as important updates on VA healthcare, home loans, pension benefits and entitlements. If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, please e-mail or call 832-393-0992 for further assistance.
  • If you would like to volunteer to help make this event a success, please contact John Boerstler at
  • For all inquiries regarding business or organizational sponsorship information or resource fair table information, please contact Bryan Dyck at

Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2, Gates open at 4pm: 19th annual Houston International Jazz Festival at Discovery Green

  • Presented by Jazz Education Inc. (JEI), which was founded by Jazz artist Bubbha Thomas, who saw a need to fill a void where music education and youth were concerned.
  • As of a week ago, was selling general admission tickets to the event for $12 — a savings of $8 off the full price. Quantities were limited but it might be worth checking...
  • Additional information (performances, etc) found HERE

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Maintain Wood Siding

Ah, wood siding. It's one of the things that gives our Heights homes their character. It's also one of those things that requires regular maintenance...

I talked with our neighborhood carpentry guru about how to fix small problem areas in siding, such as peeling paint. He gave me this run-down:

Step One: Scrape off loose paint
  • This initial step involves two different types of scrapers: a small one and a big one. The bigger one is useful for large, flat areas, while the smaller one helps with the more intricate detail areas. This step is an integral part of preparing the surface.
Step Two: Sand the area
  • After all the loose paint has been scraped off, it's time to sand the area with a coarse sandpaper (like 60 grit). Depending on the tools available, as well as the size of the area you're refinishing, you can sand by hand or use a machine. Again, this step is an integral part of preparing the surface.
Step Three: Secure the nails
  • Another aspect of preparing the surface involves hammering any loose nails as well as re-nailing any loose siding. During this stage, it's important to use a nail set which allows you to apply force to each nail more precisely and prevents the wood from getting dented.

Step Four: Prime the area
  • Once the area has been scraped, sanded, and re-nailed, it's time to apply primer. Check the weather before applying the primer to ensure that it won't rain for at least twelve hours. In total, you'll want to let the primer dry for an entire day or two.
Step Five: Caulk joints or openings
  • This step is not the place to skimp on materials! Avoid being lured in by a $2 tube of caulk. It's worth a few more dollars to ensure that you get a good caulk that won't fail you. You'll want to caulk areas where the siding boards come together, as well as around doors and windows. Pay special attention to the area on top of windows!
Step Six: Sand primed areas
  • The final preparation stage involves lightly sanding (approximately 120 grit) the areas you primed to give it a nice, smooth finish.
Step Seven: Paint
  • The final step is to paint over your repaired area (with at least two coats of paint). And--voila!--you're finished!
Don't be fooled by the seeming simplicity of these seven steps. An area that is a couple feet wide by a couple feet tall can take anywhere from 6-10 hours. However, the time and effort is worth it in the end. It's a lot easier to maintain our homes proactively rather than reactively! Taking care of our siding (and especially the areas around our windows!) can keep wood rot at bay.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things That Make You Say "Oo"

One of the coolest old buildings in The Heights has to be the one that houses OoLaLa. And OoLaLa has to be one of the coolest shops in The Heights. It's a great place not just because of the cool building and all. More than any other shop in the area, Oo La La represents what The Heights offers.

Six or so years ago, Judy Pfardresher wanted to open a shop. She was living outside of Houston, around 290 and the Beltway. She could have opened her shop out there but would the neghborhood want what she wanted to sell? She wasn't sure. Judy has family in The Heights, though, and felt with great certainty that an area like this would buy what she was planning to offer- funky and eccelctic merchandise from as many local artists and ccraftspeople as possible. She knew here she could offer unique items and they would be appreciated. She loved the small town feel of The Heights and, even if it couldn't be her home, it would be a great home for her store. Six years later, she feels she made the right decision. Fans of her wide array of handcrafted items have suggested neighborhoods all over Houston where they would like to see OoLaLa, but she is comfortable and feels at home in The Heights. The neighborhood has supported her business and by doing so has also supported its own.

I popped in this week to check on what Heights-made goods Judy was offering up these days:

Heights jewelry maker Dorie Kerr has some wonderful pieces available. These were my faves but there was something for every taste. From big and bold (my style when it comes to jewelry) to delicate and refined.

This bad, bad picture really doesn't do the beautiful jewelry of Vanessa Parker justice. Vanessa is giving the Houston art scene a good name by being featured on HGTV . If you click on the picture, it will expand full screen and the photo quality improves. Hey, I'm an amateur blogger, not a photographer ;)

Heights resident and Mom, Paula Wells makes these great coasters and Heights t-shirts. However, she has stopped producing the t-shirts so if you want one, OoLaLa has about 6 left.

There is some great pottery by Elizabeth Wells, who also made these wonderful necklaces:

I looove these retro aprons that Judy makes. So cute!

And more fun stuff (including photography by Christoph Eicken):

And, of course, here is Judy herself at the helm:

As anyone with kids in The Heights knows, last year Tulips & Tutus moved from it's 19th Street location in to the OoLaLa building (in to the space which originally housed New Orleans transplants Kaboom Books"). As a mom of a boy (now 2 boys), I stayed away from the overwhelming pinkness of T&T for the most part. However, since I do try to buy as much as I can from local shops, gift giving has brought me in to T&T more recently. Low and behold, a wonderful thing has happened!! T&T, owned by another Judy (Myers), has seriously expanded their selection for boys!!

Judy still only carries boys' items up to 24 months, but is open to customer suggestions. She says area moms have asked for her to carry larger sizes, but the things she brought in went unsold. She is still to listen and provide what customers want and no mega-store or retail chain will do that as readily. This fall she has a lot of fun boy stuff coming from lines like Deau Par Deax, Zutano and Kicky Pants. I looove the eco-friendly and super soft bamboo clothes from Kicky Pants for my wee one and can't wait to see the new stuff!

I may have to go back and buy this awesome raincoat for my toddler!

And, Tulips & Tutus is the only place I have seen where you can buy these incredible Aiden + Anais muslin blankets individually. They are perfect for swaddling (they're HUGE) but I use them for anything and everything in the summer- to cover the stroller, keep the sun off, protect from bugs without over heating.

Of course, the store is still bursting at the seams with girl stuff so sweet it will make your teeth hurt! Luckily for me, I have 4 nieces.

One good Judy deserves another. Judy Myers of Tulips & Tutus:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heights Happenings

Friday, July 24, 7pm: Heights Time Bank Potluck
  • Are you interested in learning about a time exchange system that builds community? The Heights Time Bank is holding its monthly potluck this Friday. If you live within the Time Bank boundaries (south of 610, north of I-10, west of I-45, and east of Shepherd) you are welcome to attend! 1134 Jerome Street
Friday, July 24, 7pm: Aurora Boot Camp Film Premiere
  • For the grand finale of our first Aurora Boot Camp, join us for the red carpet premiere of short films created by the campers, ages 9-12. Throughout the week campers will have been working with professional filmmaker, Mike Akel, to learn how to develop, produce and edit their own short films. This is their chance to show off all their hard work!
  • 1524 Sul Ross
  • Free

Outside The Heights:

Thursday, July 23, 6-8 pm: Opening for PerezCohen Gallery presents SIX

  • One of the newest galleries in Houston, PerezCohen Gallery concept was founded by Heights Realtor Margot Perez and Saturday Arts Market owner Mitch Cohen.
  • This unique gallery concept showcases artists' works in homes rather than traditional gallery space.
  • This exhibit will be in the Hyde Park neighborhood at 2308 Elmen, just 2 blocks north of Westheimer.

Saturday, July 25, 5-10 pm: Fundraiser to support GRASSROOTS: Art in Action

  • Please join GRASSROOTS: Art in Action for an evening of food and fun downtown at Tacos A Go-Go. Proceeds from the event support GRASSROOTS' mission to improve art education in Houston.
  • There will be a silent auction and raffle.
  • Simply mention Grassroots when you place your order to ensure that a donation is made.
  • Kids are very welcome!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shade: I'll Seek Refuge from the Heat Elsewhere

I have to preface this review by confessing that I'm not a big fan of expensive restaurants. In general, I find the atmospheres intimidating and overly bourgeois, the portions excessively small, and the prices unnecessarily high.

However, I insisted that my husband accompany me to Shade because a) the restaurant I wanted to review, Asian Market, was already closed and b) I want to fully experience our neighborhood. I don't want to drive by restaurants and wonder, "What's it like?"

I'm glad I got to experience Shade, but I'm also glad that my curiosity has been satiated and I can move on to better restaurants.

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a bad experience; it just wasn't worth the money (maybe that's just my Hoosier/Protestant background talking?).

First, I found the physical space underwhelming. It's essentially a big, rectangular room that is only aesthetically pleasing because of the furnishings. I like the way it looks inside; I just prefer my restaurants to have a little character.

The restaurant immediately scored major points when they served us free pre-food. I love this trend (a la Chicago Pizza and Thai Spice). They served a bountiful basket of bread with two options from which to choose. Although the bread was tasty enough, I found the whipped butter to be rather insipid. I would have preferred some olive oil and spices. I also appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly wait-staff.

As soon as we glanced at the one-page menu with only 9 entrees to choose from, I immediately felt guilty for having forced my husband to accompany me on our little excursion into the high life. He's vegetarian, and there wasn't a single option for him. Even the two soups of the day (they had run out of the third option) had meat. Fortunately, the server was a very affable and welcoming chap, and he explained that the vegetable platter could in fact be modified to be vegetarian (they have to grill the asparagus rather than fry it).

As a pescetarian, I had a lot more options and was quite excited about the grilled king salmon with "Texas peaches, cucumber salad, arugula, roasted fingerling potatoes, balsamic reduction, olive oil, and toasted almonds."

However, I have to say that I was disappointed with the result. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I shouldn't expect a meal that costs $25 to be divine. The grilled peaches were delectable, but everything else was just hum-drum. The potatoes were dry, the "cucumber salad" consited of approximately five slivers of cucumber, and I could only taste the "balsamic reduction" in three or four bites.

I will say that I stole three bites of fried polenta from my husband's plate, and the crisp exterior and soft interior did a little happy dance in my mouth.

In the end, we paid over $45 for two entrees and two waters. The previous night, we ate twice as much food at a sushi restaurant in Montrose for half the price.

I'll continue to search for restaurants that offer twice as much food (gotta love leftovers!) for half the price.

I'm eager to hear your opinion of Shade. Our fellow diners certainly seemed to like the place, and the restaurant has 46 internet reviews with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars. It seems I'm quite the aberration. Please share your thoughts!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Supplemental: Win Stuff!

This Monday 13 Heights merchants are giving away a $350 19th Street Shopping Spree and 15 other gift certificates valued from $25 - $50 via an email blast from The Houston Press. This is part of 19th Street's "Summertime Blues" promotion to ecourage folks to shop The Heights this summer. Our Heights small businesses are such a HUGE part of our neighborhood. We shouldn't need to win free stuff to give them our business, but winning is still nice.

If you would like to register to receive the email blast, click Houston Press Promos link

On Monday The Press will send out the email blast where you can enter for one of the 16 prizes.

Businesses participating are Replay on 19th, 18 Hands Gallery, Eye to Eye, Contents, Casa Ramirez, Shade Restaurant, Gen's Antiques, Bliss on 19th, Chippendale Eastlake Antiques, Carter & Cooley Deli, Eclectic Home, Wind Water Gallery, Friends For Life

Now, winning is nice and all BUT our Heights small businesses are a HUGE part of what makes our neighborhood so special. Even if you don't win, take a stroll (maybe on your way to grab a snoball from MAMs) down 19th and see what your friends and neighbors have to offer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Great Right Lane Debate

My husband and I rarely disagree but there is something that happens in The Heights that we are currently at odds about. I think The Heights Life readers can help end the debate in a "majority rules" kind of way. We have differing opinions about the etiquette governing the right turn only lane on Studewood at White Oak. I don’t want to color your opinion, so I won’t tell you who thinks what. I just have to hear some other opinions on this and see where the majority lies.

I was unable to get a good picture of the intersection. Thankfully Google makes everything in life easier and you can click here to see the street view and refresh your memory if needed:
Studewood at White Oak, travelling North

Background- Three kinds of drivers:

With no hard numbers we can't say for sure, but for the sake of argument (and from driving the route daily) we will say most people who drive north on Studewood know that after this intersection, the right lane ends and becomes a right turn only lane. They approach the intersection in the left lane on Studewood and either proceed through the intersection or wait at the light. The majority of drivers will remain in the right lane if they intend to turn right on to White Oak at the intersection.

Occasionally, there are drivers who don’t know that the lane ends or becomes right turn only after you cross White Oak. These people will wait in the turn only lane until they can get back in the main lane and continue north on Studewood.

The third group of drivers is people who know that the lane ends after the intersection but will stay in the right lane to beat the traffic waiting in the left lane, cutting in to the left/main lane after the intersection. There may not be a lot of cars waiting at the light and drivers may opt to stay in the right lane to jump the light and be the 1st through the intersection, moving back in to the main/left lane after the intersection.

The Debate:

The debate between the husband and me is regarding this 3rd type of driver- one who knows the lane will end.

Viewpoint 1:

The right lane does not end at the intersection. The right lane on Studewood before White Oak is not right turn only, so people can choose to go forward from that lane. If they beat the traffic, good for them. They are not breaking any traffic law. Everyone who drives north on Studewood hasthe option to use the right lane or the left lane. If you choose to stay in the left lane and someone else drives in the right lane, you really shouldn't be annoyed. You could easily do the same thing.

Viewpoint 2:

People know the lane is going to end and using the short lane on the north side of the intersection is rude even if it doesn't break the law. Being a courteous driver means not intentionally speeding through the intersection to cut off people who did the right thing and waited. It's annoying when they zip through and then cut off drivers who are simply going forward like they were supposed to. They knew the lane was going to end and should have stayed in the left lane if they wanted to continue north.

So, lovely readers, it’s as simple as that. What do you think when you see people go straight through in the right lane, obviously knowing it's going to end, and then cut in to the main/left lane?

The curiosity is overwhelming me! I can’t wait to read your answers!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heights Happenings

Saturday, July 18, 1-4pm: High Heel Boot Camp at NiaMoves

  • I definitely prefer flip-flops to high heels, but for those of you who do wear heels but want to wear them with more confidence, this workshop might be just the thing.
  • Here's what NiaMoves says about it: "Beautiful high heels are SEXY. However, wearing them makes you more prone to bunions, as well as foot, ankle, knee, and back pain. Maybe you've already traded in those beautiful pumps for sensible flats.Good news! All is not lost! You CAN be fashionable AND comfortable.No more limping and wincing, or wearing shoes like your grandmother wore. This workshop will use the Feldenkrais Method to teach you how to walk safely, gracefully, and without pain, in those fabulous high heels."
  • $35 in advance, $40 at the door

Saturday, July 18, 7 pm: Kolanowski Studio Presents - BettySoo: a Studio Concert

  • BettySoo shakes it up with Heat Sin Water Skin, adding some welcome edge and grit to the heartbreaker ballads and bell-pure vocals she's come to be known for. Teamed with seasoned producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves), her vocals are striking, the players strong, the sound gripping, and the lyrics compelling.
  • Please RSVP!! The Studio can accommodate approximately 60 people. They always want to maximize the audience for the performer, so payment in advance is appreciated and will assure you of a seat the night of the performance.
  • The cost is $15 per person, with all proceeds going to BettySoo. You can pay by cash or Paypal. If by check, make the check payable to BettySoo. If using Paypal, is the email address for payment. Also, please include a $0.50 per ticket processing fee (as well as necessary information about your reservation).
  • Performances are presented at the house of Greg and Kim Kolanowski, located in the Houston Heights. All proceeds go to the performing artist. CDs are usually available for sale at the concert.
  • Please arrive between 7:00 and 7:45 p.m. for socializing and snacks. Greg and Kim will provide soft drinks, but please feel free to bring your choice of beverage should you prefer something else. Music will begin at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19, All Day: Grand Opening Heights PetSmart

  • I know it's not technically The Heights, but since they are calling it the Heights location we might as well take advantage of the door prizes and giveaways they'll be having for the Grand Opening.
  • Located in "Sawyer Heights Village" at 1907 Taylor Street, the new 20,000-square-foot PetSmart store will offer an array of products, professional services and advice to care for the needs of pets.

Now through August 8, 2009: Leslee Fraser at Apama Mackey Gallery

  • Artist Leslee Fraser makes her Houston debut with In the Absence of Empathy, a show brought to you by Apama Mackey Gallery in The Heights and ArtHouston2009.
  • Fraser uses figurines, arranged and altered, to create "preposterous tableaus" that can be funny, dark, and poignant.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Have An Impact. Maybe.

Sorry. I am just a little skeptical about city government. Still, I am glad to see Mayor White (who is an outgoing mayor, no less) is wondering what we all think about our fair city. File it under Who knew? The City of Houston is actually interested in your opinion!

In the City of Houston's ongoing efforts to provide better customer service, you can take a moment to fill out a detailed Citizen Survey

Houston City Controller Annise D. Parker is gathering the data and once the results are tabulated, they will be available at

Through both random telephone surveys and online participation, the goal is to have at least 200 respondents in each of the city's nine geographic city council districts, for a minimum of 1,800 completed questionnaires; please forward this email to others to give their feedback also.
Take the Houston Citizen Survey by visiting HERE

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yard Art in The Heights

If you were playing trivia at a bar, how would you answer this question: "Which neighborhood in Houston has the most yard art?"

I'd wager it's The Heights.

A quick jaunt around the 'hood unearthed these gems:

This piece of yard art is located in the spacious yard at 18th and Harvard.

This piece of yard art is actually a bed turned into a planter (with a flamingo? added). You can check it out near the intersection of 12th and Harvard.

This piece of art can be found near 14th and Cortlandt.

It certainly feels hot enough to sustain cacti in our neighborhood. This one is located near 15th and Cortlandt.

This piece is near 8th and Columbia.

Have you seen any other pieces of yard art in your neck of The Heights?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Henna in The Heights

I have to admit, I drive a little too fast up and down Yale. I think part of the reason is that I am never going anywhere actually on Yale. It’s not a destination for me. It’s a route. As I zip up to 19th Street or head south, avoiding the train on Heights, I miss things. I never used to think I did. There are the “antique shops” and the crazy, bright green real estate office. I thought I had a handle on what was happening on Yale. That was until I went down Yale as a passenger. And my husband doesn’t drive nearly as fast as I do.

We were driving along, and as I stared out the window all sorts of things popped out for me- most notably a store front tucked in to a spot that had never drawn my eye before. What grabbed me was not just the bright turquoise trim of the building, but also the poster of a hand decorated with traditional Indian henna tattoos. What was this all about? I was curious and couldn't wait to investigate.

The Original Henna Company store front on Yale, just over the fence/north of the newly renovated building that houses Anytime Fitness

As luck would have it, shortly after I was Freecyclinga bunch of stuff, I recieved an email from a woman named Soniya regarding an item I was unloading. That was luck, you see, because Soniya’s email signature says “The Original Henna Company, 1130 Yale St.” A HA!!

I popped in to her sort-of tucked away shop on Yale a couple weeks ago to get the scoop. I was delighted by all the gorgeous pictures of henna tattoos she had done. Some simple. Some elaborate. All beautiful. Before going by Soniya’s shop, I was aware of henna tattoos and their traditional use for Indian weddings, but I had no idea how many different reasons there are to get henna done. Soniya told me that she has a lot of people who just get it just because it’s pretty. People will come in with their own art work and she will duplicate it in henna for them. She has done heads of cancer patients and written scripture across people’s backs. One woman had her do a design down the entire length of her body. Just because it’s pretty. I can see that. She also has women come in to get henna on their pregnant bellies. One of Soniya's favorite belly tattoos is a gorgeous tree with the symbols for strength and patience on each side and the baby’s name written in Hindi on the trunk. I was bummed I had missed that opportunity to do something like this, having just had a baby less than 2 months before. Maybe next time (Did I really just say next time?).

Traditional wedding henna

Pregnancy henna

Another great customer base she has is people considering real tattoos. Henna is like a try-it-before-you-buy-it option. People who are considering something large or conspicuous can test drive their design by living with it for a couple of weeks before getting the needle. Parents have brought in teenage kids who think they want to have a tattoo. Brilliant. Henna gives you a real sense of what it’s like to have a tattoo without the permanence.

Some examples of henna as temporary tattoos.

Of course I wondered how Soniya and her henna came to The Heights from Sugarland. Was there a demand here for her services? Soniya is a 3rd generation henna artist and started training in India at the age of 5. She and her family moved to Houston (actually Sugarland) when she was 13 years old. Her mother and sisters still have a successful henna business of their own down there. Soniya’s years of training and experience in the family business are certainly obvious in the beauty of her work. Soniya said she and her husband were looking for someplace they could live and work and also raise their family. They found the building the shop is in and liked it, but knew nothing at all about The Heights as a neighborhood. She says she just got a good feeling about the neighborhood. She said it “was calling me.” When it feels right, it feels right. Of course, in traditional Heights fashion, neighbors were very welcoming. Sometimes people just pop in to say “hi.” She likes that it is a neighborhood that understands and appreciates all kinds of art. It’s a place where “ideas are communicated” and “people share.” Like me, she has had a lot of support from the local parents group, Heights Kids, as well.

Despite loving living here and having support from locals, the neighborhood doesn’t drive her business. You see, Soniya is not just an everyday good henna artist. She was telling me about all the events she goes to- trips to Mexico and Florida. She told me how Beyonce’s parents have her do henna at their big Christmas party every year. She has regular clients from sports teams locally and around the country. I was especially curious about this. “Are henna artists uncommon?” I asked. No, she said. They are very common, but Soniya has something special- skill and speed that come from years of experience. In fact, she was supposed to be trying for the Guinness Book World’s record for henna tattoo speed this year (She is able to easily do 50 tattoos an hour for events like wedding parties)! Guinness is going to have to wait though, since she is welcoming a new baby this fall.

Who needs jewelry?

When I was growing up, I can remember my mom putting “henna” in her hair. That henna, as I remember, was a powder. Henna dye used for the tattoos is the same base and concept but in a paste. It’s an all-natural recipe of ground leaves from the henna plant, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, lemon juice, red tea and water. All these things together make the paste, which is applied to the skin and allowed to dry. In a short period of time, the paste will fall off and the skin will have absorbed the stain. It will look orange at first but deepens to a dark brown. Soniya makes her own henna paste using henna plant imported from India from a company her family has been buying from for 50 years. Apparently it has a very low allergen possibility and is even used in other parts of the world to help heal skin conditions. Cool stuff.

The natural aspect of henna is important. Apparently, there is something out there called “black henna” and it is not something to mess with. This is the kind of thing you’ll find at places like spring break locations and tourist traps. The reason Soniya felt the need to make sure I knew about this was not just because it isn’t real or traditional henna. It’s actually dangerous. Rather than taking the time to make the labor intensive henna paste, these quickie henna shacks use a chemical dye, like hair dye. As you can imagine, this can cause a pretty nasty skin reaction. Watch Soniya’s interview with Click2Houston to see an example of what can happen and how to prevent it.

Soniya, who is expecting her 2nd child this fall

My 12 year old niece is coming to visit in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to take her to see Soniya for henna tattoos. You should really pop in to her shop sometime for a visit. It’s so comfortable and relaxing. If you think henna is pretty but aren’t inclined to get a henna tattoo, Soniya has beautiful canvasses of her own henna designs. She also sells traditional Indian jewelry and clothing. They have some upcoming expansion plans for the shop as well, and Soniya’s sister will be able to be able to offer additional aesthetic services like hair henna by the end of the year. I have a feeling that once I get one, Soniya might be seeing more of me.

Soniya is at the shop most days and appointments are also available.

Some of the artwork the Soniya creates with her own henna designs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Heights Happenings

Tonight Wed, July 8, 8 pm: Jeff Strahan at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar
  • If it's been a while since you've popped in to Dan Electro's, why not go tonight for some good Texas music?
  • Jeff Strahan, musician turned trial lawyer turned musician, will be serving up some Texas Red Dirt Music for your listening pleasure
Saturday, July 11, 8 am- Noon: Central City Co-op Benefit Garage Sale

  • Central City Co-op works hard to keep their prices low, making organic foods affordable for everyone. Because of this, they have to work hard to raise money when they need things like new refrigerators and necessary repairs. They support local growers, so let's support them!
  • The garage sale, located at Fixer's Automotive on 11th Street, will have an abundance of toys, clothes and household items, as well as a large collection of donated plants for sale: mature ferns in clay pots, kalanchoes in red and yellow, impatiens, swamp lillies, and gingers.
  • Also available for sale will be Bubbles Car Wash tickets. Bubbles donates $4 from each wash to the Co-op. Why would the Co-op want to partner with Bubbles? They are eco-friendly as far as carwashes go, recycling and filtering water to wash multiple cars. Who knew?
Saturday, July 11, 8 pm-12 am & Sunday, July 12, 4 pm-12 am: Absinth Art Show at Big Star Bar
  • AbsinthArt is a grassroots group of rotating, independent artists from the Houston area. The show provides exposure for smaller, unknown artists in various mediums, but mostly oil, ink and acrylic.
  • The group travels to different locations in the city's art and bar scene, this weekend setting up shop at Big Star Bar on 19th St.
Sunday, July 12, 1-2pm: Popcorn Kids Workshop with Aurora Picture Show

  • The Striking Viking Story Pirates will present a special workshop at the Aurora office for 12 children where they will bring a story to life right before the kids’ very eyes!
  • Location: Aurora Video Library, 1524 Sul Ross
  • $15 per child of members; $25 per child of non-members
  • Maximum of 12 children (ages 8-11)
  • Advance ticket purchase required for Sunday workshop. Please call 713-868-2101.
Monday, July 13, 7:00 PM: Houston Heights Association General Meeting

  • This month's topic will be “Recycling – Green Ideas for Everyone!”
  • Mike Palmer, recycling educator for the City of Houston, will outline the basics you’ll need to get started and how easy it can be to participate.
  • For those already recycling regularly, Palmer will review ways to improve your contribution to the Houston Recycling Program.
  • Additionally, the City of Houston’s has a new pilot program that started this spring using single-stream recycling! Attendees will learn about this program and projected timelines for expansion into other neighborhoods. It is certain that increasing the Heights participation in the current curbside recycling could put us in line for this exciting program.

Friday, July 10: Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day

  • After all, if anybody in Houston has a cow costume sitting around, it's someone in The Heights!
  • Free Combo for Wearing Cow Costume- wear your favorite cow costume to Chick-fil-A and get a combo meal for free.
  • Important: for the whole shebang the costume must be head to toe! Just a cow part or accessory will garner a free entree.
  • Don't have a cow costume? Well, luckily for you Chick-fil-A is generous and will even offer you a Starter Kit
This and Every Friday, 7 pm: Molly & The Ringwalds at The Continental Club