Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heights Happenings: April 28- May 5, 2010

Hi, everyone! I'm back from Charleston, SC. I have to tell you that Charleston is not anywhere I would have necessarily picked on my own for vacation, but having been I would definitely go back. It's beautiful and there was so much good food. I also loved their sense of history, what they have done to preserve the positive aspects of it and how seriously they take it. It was refreshing to see that at work.

Charlestonians are also huge advocates for local food; even menus at restaurants have "Certified SC Grown" designations. Taking it one step beyond farmers' markets, there were several farms between the city and where we stayed on Kiawah Island where you can go and pick produce daily. A tour guide told me that many restaurants actually send their servers to pick veggies for the service before their shift starts. Anyway, I digress (but it was wonderful) and am now gladly re-entrenched in life in the Heights.

Thursday, April 29, 7:30- 9:30 PM: Open House at 226 Recordings
  • 226 Recordings is a full service recording, mixing and mastering facility located in the heart of the historic Houston Heights. We specialize in recording, mixing, mastering, voice over/ADR, and post production. Our goal is to make every client’s experience with us a positive one.
  • Owner and chief engineer Paul Cox prides himself on combining top of the line equipment with 12 years of solid recording experience. In addition to running 226, Paul is also a certified Digidesign instructor at Mediatech Institute in Houston, teaching mixing and mastering.
Thursday, April 29, Assorted times: Dining Out For Life, Houston
  • This Thursday, restaurants across Houston will unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Each participating restaurant will generously donate 33% of food bills all day long. In 2009 with the help of great Houston restaurants, AFH raised over $70,000 in support for their programs and services such as housing, case management, and food assistance for nearly 5,000 HIV+ men, women, and children.
  • Heights area restaurants include: The Boom Boom Room, Carter & Cooley, Lola and Pink's Pizza.
Saturday, May 1, 6:30 PM: Perez Gallery for the Arts presents An Evening of Art and Music
  • Join the gallery for a house concert featuring chamber compositions by Elliot Cole and Doug Balliet, performed by Danielle Reich, vocals, Elliot Cole, harmonium, Amanda Witt, clarinet, Melody Yenn, cello, and Mollie Marcuson, harp.
  • Come early and view the current art exhibition, BetweenSpaces!
  • 1603 Courtland
  • Doors open at 6:30 pm, music commences promptly at 7:00 pm. Hors d'oeuvres will be served. Bring your favorite beverage!
  • Suggested donation, $20.
Saturday, May 1, 10 AM- 5 PM: The 3rd Annual Burnout Houston
  • Burnout is a grass roots Houston car show that aims to showcase Texas built pre-63 Hotrods, Customs and Traditionally Styled Choppers. It also aims to promote Texas musicians from various genres.
  • The event is chock full of Live Music, Cool 50s style Vendors, pin-up girls and classic styled hot rods and bikes.
  • Location: Chandelier Ballroom, Lodge 88, 1435 Beall, 77008
  • Cost: Spectators - $10 (kids under 12 FREE); Vehicle+Driver - $20; Bike+Rider - $15

Sunday, May 2, 11:30 AM- 4 PM: Celebrate Houston Lemonade Day at Proctor Park
  • Lemonade Day is a community wide, educational initiative where neighborhood kids learn to start, own and operate their own business. Kids of all ages learn to set goals, develop abusiness plan, establish a budget, seek investors, provide customer service, and give back to their community.
  • Money from the Proctor Plaza event will go to park improvements and events like the annual Fall Festival and Easter Egg Hunt.
  • 803 West Temple Street

Friday, May 7, 6-10 PM: Spring Fling on 19th Street
  • SHOP + CARE + SHARE at over 30 merchants on 19th as they celebrate the neighborhood and support local organizations that make it better.
  • There will be live entertainment and food as well as great shopping!
Saturday, May 8, 9 AM: Art Car Parade!
  • Cars line up at 9am at Taft and Allen Parkway, parade rolls at 1pm
  • Did you hear this awesome news??? Comedian Dan Aykroyd is set to stir up good times at the 23rd Annual Art Car Parade. Acting as official Grand Marshal of the parade, Dan Aykroyd will start the parade in style - and hang out in the VIPit area for meet and greet opportunities.
Saturday, May 15, 5:30- 10 PM: Great Taste of the Heights

Monday, April 19, 2010

Heights Happenings: April 21- Apr 27, 2010 (Sort of)

So, there is actually more going on but these events were saved as a draft a few days ago. I am posting them because I had them, but I am about to go out of town tomorrow morning and I am not even packed yet. It's 9:30 pm. Scary! So I am pretty confident you guys can find things to do without me. *wink wink*

I won't be posting for the rest of the week. I am taking an actual vacation with my husband, so I'll be eating and drinking and thinking about my poor mother and my poor inlaws, all of whom have had to come to Houston to take care of my 2 crazy, high maintenance kids.

Hope you all have an amazing week and enjoy all the good stuff life in the Heights has to offer!


Every Saturday in May: Hold A Tree Pose with the Trees

  • Samadhi Studio will offer outdoor yoga for $5 Saturdays at 10:15 am.
  • On the sunny porch of the Samadhi Gazebo, yoga practitioners can commune with the trees. Outdoor yoga offers Houstonians the opportunity to reach out to the natural environment while finding your inner strength. In this Saturday morning Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga class, teacher, Turkan Aydogmus, offers students the opportunity to embrace Houston’s complex mix of urban and natural beauty.

Saturday, May 8, 4-7 PM: Join Friends of Jaycee Park in Timbergrove Manor for the Hartman & Associates PARTY FOR A PLAYGROUND fundraiser!

  • There will be live music by the Jubilee & Bayou Banjo Bands (www.jubileebb.com), food, trackless train, face painting, balloon artist, field day games, carnival games, inflatable climbing wall, silly string arena.
  • All activities are $1-3. Also, shop for Mother's Day at the silent auction: dinner cruise on Clear Lake, night at the Houstonian, landscape design by AJ's Landscape Design, Texan tickets, Astros tickets, Houston Symphony tickets, membership to the Fine Arts Museum and much much more! Even if you don't have kids stop by and listen to music, grab a bite to eat and bid on great items.
  • 100% of the proceeds go towards the renovation of Jaycee Park.
  • Directions take 11th street to Seamist (just east of Hempstead) and turn right (north). You will see the park on your right side, at Grovewood.
  • Ileana Desalos, Friends of Jaycee Park, 713-922-6742

It's For Us!

There has been a lot of chatter around the Heights ever since people started to hear that another restaurant was coming to the neighborhood, going in to a little bungalow across from Berryhill. The rumblings got louder and the anticipation more palpable when word got out that it was being opened by Jamie Zelko of Lancaster Bistro and Jeb Stuart, who we all know and love from his time at Shade.

Of course you would be right to assume I stalked the progress, walking by, window peeking and google searching. I follow Jamie Zelko on Twitter, but she was either very tight lipped or just too busy (probably the latter) to spill many details. Finally, the food writers started to come out with more and more information and then Allison Cook finally gave me (and the rest of Houston) what I was waiting for: an opening date!

Water with no ice. Thank you! Yummy chunks of herbed bread with shaved parmesan to nibble.

I woke up last Wednesday giddy with excitement about my lunch date. But you know what- I have never been to Lancaster Bistro. I really didn't know anything about Jamie Zelko until I started reading about her in relation to this project. What I read was stellar and enough to excite anyone even moderately interested in eating. However, it was something subtle about the sign that hung out front of the bungalow during renovation that really excited me. It said "Coming Soon For the Houston Heights." "FOR" the Heights. Not "to." 

The bruschetta with amazing Mediterranean flavors- tangy olives, feta, roasted peppers and hummus.

I love that people from all over Houston come to our neighborhood to hit our big (and nationally known) destination restaurants. I don't even mind the traffic that gathers around Studewood and 10th. However, I like us to have things that are "ours." I want those places where I can take my out of town friends and family, where in one dinner they know a little about what it feels like to live in the Heights. Shade gives me this and has been my go-to for the last 5 years. These days, though, everyone who is inclined to come visit me has and now I need somewhere else. From the small and comfortable space to the staff of almost entirely Heights residents, I think Zelko Bistro really speaks about the Heights. Yes, it's going to get a lot of foodie press and people will come from all over the city for the wonderful food but in the end, I hope it is as I see it- as a place where we walk on a balmy summer night, as an early dinner with the kids when we don't want to stray too far from home, as a couple hours away from the kids for a glass of wine at the bar.  I see it  for the Heights, not just in the Heights.

Fried pickles with house made ranch. What's not to love? Simple and flavorful, left us wanting to eat the ranch with a spoon.

Short ribs (which weren't this blurry in real life!!) were deliciously tender from being braised in St Arnold's Root Beer. As good as they were, the cheddar polenta under them really stole the show for me. I could eat nothing but a giant bowl of it without batting an eye.

My husband had the "Homeless Joe" which translates to meatloaf cooked in a can. It was moist and had perfect consistency with a spicy kick that really snuck up on us. Served over yukon gold mashed potatoes, this is comfort food at its best!

Our lunch companion had the Farmhouse Melt. With multiple cheeses, bacon and prosciutto this sandwich is so good it actually made him laugh when he bit it. Thin, crispy fries remind me of the ones at Cafe Rabelais, which can be taken as a huge compliment.

After shared appetizers, a couple glasses of wine and licking our lunch plates clean, there was no room for dessert. I did spy plenty of other people ordering it, though, and look forward to enjoying the Banana Split on my next visit. Rest assured, it will be very soon.

ETA: My hubs just read this post and wanted me to add a little something: Zelko Bistro had only been open a couple of hours when we rolled in for lunch. Even though this was the "soft opening" our server was well versed in both the menu and the wine list. We didn't make a very challenging order but everything was right. There were plenty of people bustling about and checking to make sure we had what we needed. Our food could have arrived a little hotter from the kitchen but the place was to capacity and I have had worse at more established restaurants. I have worked a couple of soft openings in my life and they are stressful beyond compare in the industry. If every service has this day as a launch pad, the experience of eating at Zelko will be a pleasurable as the food being served.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Squashing a Rumor

I was having lunch with a friend here in the Heights a couple weeks ago and she casually dropped a bomb on me: Behind The Garden Gate was gone. For the casual 19th Street shopper, this might not mean a lot but Felix is one of my favorite people to visit. I also think he has a kind of unique niche with his handmade preserved flower arrangements. I was in a state of disbelief and had to get to the bottom of how and why.

To get to answers, I dropped by the old space that Felix used to share with CODA to visit with Frank, another of my favorite Heights merchants. Sure enough, Felix was not there. Luckily, Frank was and he was the bearer of good news: Felix was gone from this space, but not from 19th Street.

The view of 19th Street from the window of Behind The Garden Gate's new location

Behind the Garden Gate has continued the recent trend of space shuffling on 19th, moving down near Gen's Antiques. The space is smaller. Rumor has it that was what Felix wanted- to be able to downsize just a little bit. He wasn't there the day I went in, so I haven't had a chance to get the story from the horse's mouth. It's a great little spot, though- cozy, warm, and packed full of special pieces. He is still carrying candles and some books. It's the same store, just more intimate. If you blink you might miss the new store front, so make a point to look for it! (Address pending since I neglected to write it down and google only turns up the CODA address. Roughly 238, which is the address for bespokebyGJCD.

A table top arrangement

Preserved flowers for the wall

Beeswax candles

As far as the old space, Frank and CODA have exploded in to it. He has super expanded the selection of gift items and added all kinds of housewares. The merchandise is as eclectic as the Heights itself. Modern, traditional, country, funky. No matter what you like or who you're buying for, there is something here for you.

A hugely expanded selection of candles, lotions and other products from Tyler, TX's own Tyler Candle Company

Expanded home accessories collections for every taste

A little bit of whimsy never hurts

Overall, these changes represent more good for the Heights and 19th Street. Our store fronts are staying full and merchants are doing what they need to do to stay focused, stay happy and stay in business. Remember that our small business owners do so much for this neighborhood and they need our support. Support local, grow together!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heights Happenings: April 14- Apr 20, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 6-8 PM: Perez Gallery presents Between Spaces in their new location at 1603 Cortland Street


Saturday, April 17, 9 AM- 4PM: The Great Bellaire Paper Shred
  • The Great Bellaire Paper Shred is a FREE community shredding event, the first Saturday after federal income tax deadline to help area citizens protect themselves against personal ID theft.
  • Community National Bank (CNB) and the Bellaire Police Department will sponsor the free public event, which accepts up to 100 pounds of paper per vehicle for on-site shredding in the Iron Mountain® Secure Shredding Unit.
  • For further information, call (713) 664-4777 or visit, www.commnatlbank.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Down on the Corner

I recieved an email from a reader a couple weeks ago, suggesting I stop by The Artful Corner. Like many places around the Heights, I've always seen it, known it was there. I wanted to stop in. I just didn't get around to it. I needed a push and I got one. A big thank you for that email. Stopping by and meeting Margarete was a pleasure in and of itself and I ended up buying a great item from a Heights artist in the process.

Like most artists, Margarete Sanchez-Ripps has had her hands in art as far back as she can remember. In her adult life, she studied pottery at U of H and traveled the southwest selling her creations at art fairs and festivals. She spent some time in New York, working as an art director for an ad agency, but eventually came home to Houston and settled in the Heights.
Margarete bought the bungalow that houses her gallery in 2000, several years before she won the Heights Association's "Renovation Award" and opened a business in it, using it as a rental/income property. This was also several years before White Oak would be any kind of real destination in the Heights. She was just taken with the beauty of Heights Boulevard and decided to forgo the more popular area of 19th Street to have her gallery in the heart of the neighborhood. A gallery of their own is what Margarete sees at the goal for most artists and she feels so lucky that she has been able to realize it.

In the years that she travelled around the southern US, Margarete met and befriended many artists. She knew, when she opened The Artful Corner, that it was specifically these American artists she would want to represent. TAC sells many mediums, but all items have Margarete's 4 important qualifications: artful, fun, happy and well crafted. Certainly you can feel the fun and the happy as soon as you walk in the door- bright, cheery and full of color!

Colorful vases for $39-40

Floral felt pillows and hand felted lariats (front- meant to be worn) priced in the $120 range

Currently, Margarete's inventory represents the creativity and hard work of around 98 American artists and 2 Canadians; roughly 40 of those are Texans, 30 of the Texans being Houstonians and four of the Houstonians being Heights residents. From the Heights, you'll find handmade scarves from Denise Martin, mixed media art boxes by Gloria Sanchez, crocheted earrings by Lisa McCord and a special FotoFest photography exhibition by John Henry Childs.

Heights artist John Henry Childs' wonderful Midnight Constitutionals: Walks with Lucy through a neighborhood at rest are mostly sold. One of them to me!

As for her own art, Margarete hasn't thrown a piece of pottery since she opened the store. Being a small business owner is hard, especially when you're the only employee. Margarete doesn't mind though. She prides herself on offering a special level of customer service that you can't get at a mall store. She loves being the spot you can call at 5:55pm (she closes at 6) when you're in a pinch for the birthday gift you forgot to buy for the party you have to be at in an hour. I have to add that it's not like she never takes a day off. Margarete still enjoys traveling to art shows to source new work. At that point, it become a family affair with her sister, Heights artist Gloria Sanchez, stepping in to help man the store. As much as it's hard work, what's most important to Margarete is staying entrenched in the arts community.

Delicately crocheted earrings by Leisa McCord $78-92

Multicolor earrings and peace signs in silver average in the $24 range

She also really loves being a part of the small business community in the Heights. I love how often I hear shop owners talk about supporting each other, never competing with each other. She does as much as she can to support and promote the work of local artists and drive business to local stores. Margarete was part of the group who started the "Shop Local" section in the Heights Pages and is always at the front of the line for events that benefit the neighborhood. Her commitment is evidenced by her strong local following, with 75% of her mailing list being in 77007-77009.

Decorative doorbells are a best seller

Gold thread jewelry starts at $45 (silver pieces also available)

And here I want to add a story that I think really speaks to the difference between a small business and a national chain:

A couple of months ago, my young son was asleep in the back of the car. It was raining and I wanted a snack, so I went down to the Starbuck's drive thru on W Gray. When I pulled up in the drive thru lane, I could see a man in a wheel chair just outside the book store. It was pouring and he had a broken wheel. He was trying to wheel himself with the one good wheel, holding on to the broken one. In the windows of Barnes & Noble and Jamba Juice, employees could definitely see him. No one helped. I had a baby in the back of my car and was sandwiched in between 2 other vehicles but I was devistated. I could see people in Jamba Juice watching him. Finally I put my car in park and just as I was about to get out and help him, someone finally emerged from the Jamba Juice and pushed him in to the store. I was mortified that it took so long but happy that he finally got help.

This relates to my post about Margarete because as I was photographing felt pillows on her window seat, 2 women were walking down the sidewalk. One fell and scraped her knee very badly. Margarete didn't hesitate to leave me alone in her store (maybe I seem honest, but still...) and help this woman out. She brought them in to the store and gave them 1st aid supplies and a place to sit. She didn't even hesitate; she was practically out the door before I even knew what happened. To me, it just spoke volumes about someone who lives and works in a community, who wants to make where she spends all of her time a better place for all of us to live. Yes, the art she sells is happy and cheery but none of it is as happy and cheery as Margarete, herself.


3423 White Oak Dr. I Houston, Texas 77007 I 713.426.4ART (4278)

You can also see additional photos from The Artful Corner on The Heights Life's Facebook page

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heights Happenings: April 7- Apr 13, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 6-8 PM: Join Hello, Lucky for the opening of Word! Holler! A text based exhibit
  • Work by artists Randall Garrett (Santa Fe), Sara Huffman and Teresa O'Connor
  • Hello, Lucky has a facebook page. You can become a fan HERE
Saturday, April 10, 11 AM- 3PM: Hamilton Middle School Spring Thing
  • This annual event is a day of fun, games, food, great music and local entertainment.
  • SPRING THING provides a great excuse to get oudoors, enjoy the spring weather and to see Heights neighbors and friends. They'll have inflatables and booths to entertain kids of ALL ages.
  • All proceeds from the Carnival go directly back to the teachers and school groups for student education and enrichment, as well as school improvement projects.

Thursday, April 15, 7-10PM: Screening of Food, Inc at Heights Theater
  • Sponsored by Whole Foods Market this local screening of Food Inc. at the Heights Theatre will benefit Keep Heights Green, a local tree planting and reforestation initiative focused solely on the Greater Heights area.
  • Tickets are currently available through the Whole Foods Market Bellaire Concierge, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily or at the door the day of the event. Just $8 for the movie, goody bag, entertainment and light hors d'oeuvres.

The Houston Planning Commission is examining off-street parking issues and whether changes to Chapter 26 of the Code of Ordinances are needed. Some of the topics that will be discussed include, but are not limited to shared parking, parking management areas, types of occupancy and intensity of use (i.e. bars, types of restaurants, etc.), parking incentives for development along transit corridors or for restoration of historic buildings, lifts and valet parking, just to name

a few.

The community meetings are as follows:

Wednesday, April 7 from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Havens Center

1827 W. Alabama, Houston, TX 77098

Wednesday, April 14 from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Judson Robinson Jr. Community Center

2020 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004

Wednesday, April 21 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

United Way of Greater Houston

50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX 77007

You may access the existing parking ordinance at

http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=10123&stateId=43&stateName=Texas; choose Chapter 26 in the left window.

If unable to attend one of the meetings, comments and ideas may be submitted by email toparkingcomments@cityofhouston.net or by mail to Dipti Mathur, City of Houston Planning Department, P.O. Box 1562, Houston, TX 77251. The process may be followed on the Planning and Development Department's website at www.houstonplanning.com.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Heights Snapshot: Morning Music

Friday, April 2

10:30 AM

White Oak at Oxford

Many mornings you'll find John McKay sitting outside Montrose Skate Shop. After all, he is open 10 am - 10 pm every day. More often than not, John has several friends or lingering customers joining him at this table. This morning, it was just starting to get warm and John was out alone with his guitar. I stopped and chatted with him after I took this picture. He was telling me that he has still high hopes for the vacant space next to his shop. Since the whole Lonnie Allsbrooks situation,  the space has sat. John hopes someone will come along and put in a healthy eatery, maybe smoothies or a juice bar, that can cater to families using the bike path. I hope so, too, John!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The Heights is definitely the most charming neighborhood in Houston. While there are other words that also describe it, many of those words are equally shared with other areas. Example: someone may refer to the Heights as "artsy" and, while true, that term can be applied equally to another neighborhood like the First Ward; it could be called "funky" but that applies at least as much, if not more, to Montrose. Of course we don't mind sharing these attributes with other neighborhoods. Houston is a great city with a little bit of everything. Whatever you want, you can find it here and loving the Heights is loving Houston, too. Whatever positive thing you can say about one neighborhood is even better when you can say it about two or three. But where "charm" is concerned, there really is no match for the Heights.

Clearly the old homes (and even some of the new ones) are the primary reason for the charm. I think the walkable nature of the Heights also adds to the feeling. Now that the weather has become more like Houston and less like, oh, Oklahoma or something, I have been doing my share of walking to absorb this charm before the heat really hits and melts it away. One of the best things about being out and about right now is the color. The Heights is totally in bloom.

The Heights in bloom adds another layer to our little charm cake. Because many of our backyards are small or non-existent, residents put a lot of color right out front for public consumption. This might seem kind of obvious- we all watch some HGTv. It's curb appeal, right? Back east, though, a lot of people's planting is in the back. People keep vining green beans out of the public eye, tidy rose bushes in prim back yard gardens or plant tiger lilies around their back deck. The front of the house is often simple, clean, practical (practicality is a very New England thing). Out back is where they enjoy getting their hands in the dirt and it can be a very personal thing.

So, as I walk the streets of the Heights I am really taken by the color. I appreciate all the hard work it takes for homeowners to offer me something prettier than just grass and bushes. I adore and appreciate flowers planted on the curb and the head of cabbage growing right out on the street for the whole world to see. 

Vegetables grow in a small garden on the corner of my street.

It wouldn't be the South without azaleas. I would guess some of these bushes have been here as long as the homes.

While they're not the most "colorful," white flowers are so crisp and springy to me.

Many residents turn to bright snapdragons to give the yard, or even the curb, a little punch.

Fences are covered in flowering vines (although my own jasmine has yet to bloom).

Another Southern staple, crepe myrtles aren't in color yet but once they bloom we can enjoy their color all summer long.