Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heights Happenings: Sept 1- Sept 8, 2010

Saturday, Sept 4 thru Sept 26: g gallery presents "New American Paintings Volume #90"
  • This collaboration with Open Press Studios will include

    the Houston Winners as selected by Toby Kamps,

    Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art for the Menil Collection

  • By the way, g gallery's website is new and improved. It looks great and is full of wonderful information! Linked above.

Saturday, Sept 4, 6-10 PM: End of summer celebration at The Big Mamou
  • The Big Mamou is hosting an End Of Summer party which will include live music and an outdoor market with clothing, jewelry and other crafts.
  • 903 Studewood
Saturday, Sept 4, 6 PM: Final "Evening" show for 1st Saturday Arts Market
  • First Saturday Arts Market is Houston's longest running monthly outdoor fine arts event. Featuring local and regional artists whose offerings include original paintings, photography, jewelry, sculpture, wood and metal arts, ceramics and fiber arts.
  • 548 W 19th Street, in the parking lot for Wind Water Gallery
  • This month's show will feature production artist Jessi Harden
Sunday, Sept 5, 2 - 7 PM: "We Love Sam" benefit party for local artist Sam VanBibber at Hickory Hollow
  • Sam has been ordered by her doctors to stop working while undergoing treatment, so the arts community is rallying around her to help with the cost of getting well again.
  • RSVP, see the schedule for live music and donation information on the Facebook Events Page
Outside the Heights:

Every Monday: Be an "eco-drink critic" at Sugarcane
  • Each week, the "mixologist" (I am kinda over that term. Sorry....) picks a different spirit and tries out 3 new recipes. For $10, you get to try each new cocktail plus complimentary nosh from their "Bites" menu. The night's guests will choose which new concoctions will stay and which will go.

In Other News:

Coming in October, St Mark's Methodist Church in the Heights, together with Christ Church Cathedral downtown, will be offering a new mass for families of children with special needs.
  • "Rhythms of Grace - a place to dance, draw, wiggle, and rest in God!" will be an ecumenical service and playtime for special needs children and their families. The program is being started so parents can have a place where they could worship with their children without worrying about verbal disruptions, distracting movements or gestures. Rhythms of Grace presents Bible stories in an interactive model that uses music and movement, story cards, tactile and kinesthetic activities and opportunities for developing communication skills.
  • For more information contact the Special Needs Coordinator, Martha Lewis, at Christ Church Cathedral: lighthouse@christchurchcathedral.org or 713-220-8455.
  • Information meetings are October 3 at Christ Church Cathedral and October 17 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, both at 1pm. Services begin in November at Christ Church Cathedral on the first Sunday of the month and at St. Mark's on the third Sunday of the month, both at 1pm.

Vendors Needed for St. Andrew’s Autumn Bazaar

  • St. Andrew's will be hosting an Autumn Bazaar on Saturday, November 6, and is currently registering artists and vendors for the event. The bazaar offers a great selling opportunity in the heart of the Houston Heights, just in time for the holidays.
  • To learn more about vendor opportunities, please contact Laurie Hardwick, Bazaar coordinator, at lauriewh@earthlink.net or call the church office at 713- 861-5596.
  • The Bazaar is an outdoor event, and activities will take place rain or shine. For more information, visit www.saintandrewsepiscopal.org.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heights Happenings: August 18 - August 25, 2010

Yes, I totally regurgitated last week's Happenings by changing the date. So sue me...

Saturday, August 28, 8 AM- 2 PM: MD Anderson benefit blood drive at Studio Nia Moves
  • Participants can sign up for a time slot every 20 minutes starting at 8 am. You will be screened and they will confirm that you can donate.
  • To schedule your spot and for any additional questions, please contact Kristie at Nia Moves. (713) 864-4260 or Kristie@NiaMoves.com
Saturday, August 28, 2 PM: Share opinions on the future of 14 Pews
  • We have a new neighbor where Aurora Picture Show once lived. New owner/director of 14 Pews, Cassandra Thibodeaux, is opening the doors and her mind to the ideas of friends and neighbors. A great chance to participate in the future of this wonderful venue and our neighborhood.
Sunday, October 31, Noon- 3 PM: Pug Hearts Halloween fundraiser at A Peaceful Pet
  • A Peaceful Pet is hosting a Costume Contest with all the entry fees going to support PugHearts Houston Pug Rescue. All pets, any species, are invited to attend. $5.00 per pet entry fee will be donated to PugHearts.
  • Refreshments will be served and everyone entered will be offered free samples of pet foods and treats.
  • Prizes? Of course! Categories include: Best Dog, Best Cat,Best Exotic Pet (not a cat or dog) and Best Human and Pet Look Alike. Gift certificates of up to $100.00will be awarded.
  • Please register in person at the salon between now and 3:00p. Saturday, October 30th. For more info call 832-549-1730.

Thursday, August 26, 7 PM: Women’s Interfaith Ramadan Iftar

  • Presented by The Interfaith Women’s Iftar Planning Committee, Brigid’s Place and Christ Church Cathedral, this Ramadan Iftar dinner will celebrate and honor Muslim women’s contributions to the arts, sciences, religious and academic scholarship, politics and everyday life.
  • Muslim women of diverse backgrounds will head tables and discuss their unique life experiences with their guests. Everyone will enjoy traditional Ramadan foods from around the world.
  • Opening Remarks by Dr. Elora Shehabuddin
  • Rice University, The Great Hall of Christ Church Cathedral
  • $30. Tickets should be purchased in advance by registering online here.
  • For more information you may contact Kafah Bachari Manna at 713.231.3874 or womensiftar@gmail.com.
  • View the full size flyer here.

Saturday, August 28, 2 PM- 9 PM: Market Square Park Opening downtown
  • Downtown’s newest green space is located in the heart of Houston’s Historic District and will play a critical role in creating a sense of community for downtown residents, businesses and visitors. Park goers will be treated to live entertainment throughout the year, beginning with the official grand opening on Saturday.
  • Family-friendly activities will be planned throughout the day. Visitors can explore the area with historical tours, be the first to take their four-legged furry friends to the new dog runs, enjoy coffee and refreshments from the new Niko Niko’s Greek Cafe and more.
  • Live music starts at 7.
  • FREE

Sunday, August 15, 2010


One thing I love the most about the Heights is the amazing sense of community. Of all the definitions Merriam-Webster gives for "community," this is the one I feel is most like the Heights:

c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location

You see, we do more than just live around each other. We interact. You can see this definition of community every minute of every day- when strangers say "Good morning" walking Heights Boulevard, chatting with local business owners, random conversations while eating at a neighborhood restaurant. We are also "various kinds of individuals" and in our diverse neighborhood, some have more than others. Nothing is a bigger representation of "community" than people reaching out and helping others.

A small consortium of social service organizations wants to engage the community and see what we can do to continue to build it. Heights Interfaith Ministry, Wesley Community Center, San Jose Clinic, and All Saints Third Age Learning Center, all in the Heights, are having a panel on Wednesday, September 8 to discuss what they are doing to serve our neighborhood and how we, as community members, can help.

These organizations hope presenting what they are doing in the Heights will highlight where the need is and encourage community members to further strengthen our neighborhood by finding a way to help.

Dinner will be provided 5:30- 6:30 pm and Panelists will make a short presentation starting at 6:30 pm. Childcare will be available, with donations will be accepted for the meal and sitting services, going to the 4 community organizations.

This will be an amazing way to learn about the various avenues to help others within the Houston Heights from a panel of representatives from four organizations dedicated to serving this community.

  • Sponsored by the United Methodist Women of St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 600 Pecore, Houston, Tx 77009.
  • Reservations please - 713-861-3104.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Heights Snapshot: Bowling for Yard Art

Monday, August 2, 2010

2:30 PM

Bayland at Michaux

Some times yard art is big and in your face. Other times, you'd hardly notice it. It took several drive bys before I realized this particular installation was a series of bowling balls planted neatly in gravel. Bayland is one of the "jewel of the Heights" type streets with it's large, original homes and canopy of Oak trees. But the thing about the Heights is no matter how fancy some parts of it may seem, this is a neighborhood of individuals. Long before million dollar Craftsmans were being built, artists and academics, "quirky" and crazy, fun and funky were the norm. The Heights welcomes all kinds of people, but that means all kinds of people have to accept those that were here before them. This can mean anything from bowling balls to a giant flaming ball. Welcome to life in the Heights.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Welcome to The Noodlehood

With a lot of anticipation but not a lot of fanfare, Jenni's Noodle House opened their doors last Friday on 20th at Oxford. Immediately they were flooded with families and news came across the Mommy Mafia wire that it was good, affordable and family friendly. My only experience with Jenni's was before kids and even before the Heights, when I once wore a feather boa and ate Pho at the Montrose location. I had only just discovered Jenni's when I headed to the Heights and my experience was limited to that one trip. Still, I was excited for this location to open and bring a little flair to 20th. I love that we are seeing development along that busy street. It's ripe and ready for it. And this casual kind of restaurant is a great use for an old Mrs Baird's store front.

"Noodles rule" at Jenni's on 20th. Eat in or take out.

We went early on Sunday night, arriving just before 5:30 in hopes of getting our family (+ my mom, in from out of town) fed and keeping an early bath and bed time. There were a couple other families with small children and a couple tables of adults, sharing BYOB wine. We were greeted at the door by Jenni's husband, Scott, who I recognized from their Facebook page. He showed us where there were a couple larger tables in the back and left us menus, including a "visual menu" with pictures of all the different dishes. Scott also let us know that there was a section on the back of $5 smaller portions for kids, named after their own son Logan. We sat to read our menus and proceeded to the counter to order.

The menu is fun, with quirky names for some Vietnamese favorites and a lot of dishes based on familiar items but with a twist... or two. We started with Suhn Spring rolls, which are your basic Vietnamese cold rolls: shrimp, vermicelli, lettuce, mint all wrapped up in rice paper. They were pre-wrapped and came to the table quickly, served with some peanut sauce. They were basic, nothing more and nothing less. My husband wanted the Vietnamese egg rolls but I wasn't in the mood for anything fried. Luckily, they have a great concept at Jenni's- "teaser" portions. For $6 you can get the full order of 5 rolls or for $3 you can get "Teaser rolls" which is an order of 2. This is a genius concept in my mind. I can't wait to have this smaller portion with some Pho for lunch one day soon. It also obviously allows for an individual to get an appetizer even when no one else wants the same thing.

"Teaser" portion of Vietnamese Egg Rolls, with lettuce, mint and veggies. Husband says they were "very good." I think the small portion size is brilliant.

There is also a teaser portion for the dumplings. However, the minute my older son heard the word, we knew we would be getting a full order. In fact, we got 2 full orders- one veggie and one pork. The dumplings arrived at the table quickly, served in a bowl with the ponzu sauce in the bottom. I loved this, since I like to drown my dumplings in ponzu anyway. The dumplings were large and dense but not chewy or gummy. Veggie was really only mushroom but I don't even like mushrooms and I ate 2 of these. There is something about the texture of a good dumpling that makes me think you could fill it with cat food and shoe leather and I would still eat it.

Steamed pork dumplings. A good 3-4 inches across, these large dumplings make a hearty appetizer which could even suit some diners as a small meal.

The "veggie" dumplings were all mushroom but still (for a mushroom hater like me) tasty.

For dinner, my mother ordered Stir Me Crazy with chicken. Nice, wide noodles. Not too sticky. Bamboo shoots and a few snow peas with a very light sauce. She thought it was a little bland. I tried it and wouldn't say "bland" but it was more of a light peanut flavor and not that tangy/salty soy I think she was expecting. I told her to just dump the rest of the sauce from the dumplings in, which she did. Whatever she said about it, the bowl was empty at the end and that is testimony in and of itself.

I got the Lemongrass Beef Vermicelli bowl. At $8, I was expecting a small dish but it was the same size as a vermicelli bowl at most other Vietnamese place I've eaten in town. Like the names on the menu, the dish was what you expect in form- thinly sliced meat, veggies, noodles, fish sauce- but with a little something extra. This dish has grilled onions. I'll be honest: at first they thru me off. It was just a weird, kind of steaky taste that seemed to me to be entirely foreign to all the vermicelli I have ever eaten in my life. Honestly, I can see some people not liking this extra but a few bites in my mouth became more accustomed. The fish sauce had time to penetrate the noodles and onions and it all came together for me. I enjoyed it and would order it again for sure.

My husband loves curry. I do not. I know, I know. Shameful. He ordered the Infernal Chicken Curry and had the whole plate to himself. Good thing I didn't want any because he was in love with this dish. He described it as "very spicy but not over powering" and said that the curry was a light broth, guessing it was made that way by not going heavy on the coconut milk. I just now asked him for any additional comments and all he could add was a "very, very good."

Jenni's prides itself on being family friendly and I think it might be the only Vietnamese/Asian restaurant I've ever been to with a kids menu. Logan's $5 menu had a good selection with over 10 available dishes in kid portions. I can appreciate that Jenni and Scott are also trying to appeal to kids' palates but I was a little disappointed that veggies did not figure more prominently in to the kids' dishes. We ordered the Uptown Lauren for the kids to split, knowing they would have already gorged themselves on dumplings. It was the only dish on the $5 menu with multiple vegetables. It was supposed to have broccoli, snow peas and carrots but when it came to the table the carrots were missing. This is important because carrots and broccoli are the only two veggies I can easily get my 3 year old to eat. He actually likes broccoli but he eats carrots because I have lead him to believe that they help him to see rocketships. I could have asked for the carrots, I know. I am 100% sure they would accommodate whatever request. I guess my larger point is that it was a bummer that only one kiddo dish had veg. There was also very little sauce. The kids didn't mind the plainish noodles but I know they would have enjoyed more flavor as well and I really try to keep them away from "plain" lest they start to expect me to make them a seasoned down or alternate version of dinner at home ("I am not a short order cook," I will explain). Still, for $5 it was a generous but not ridiculous portion and they were happy. However, with most adult entrees in the $8-11 range, I might just get them an adult dish to split next time (minus 2 orders of dumplings) in hopes of more veg...

In addition to kid friendly food, Big Boy was given another family focused perk: a chopstick helper. He wasn't the most proficient but he did manage to eat his entire bowl of food with the chopsticks. We all start somewhere, right? Scott returned to check on Big Boy's status and when he saw that he was making his way through the bowl at a good pace, he rewarded both kids with a Jenni's sticker and temporary tattoos.

A chopstick helper for the Big Boy made him feel super cool and very grown up. Too bad they didn't bring one for my mom...

After we ate, we let the boys play outside for a few minutes in the giant concrete tube. Big Boy was excited to scream and hear his echo and of course Wee One likes to do whatever big brother does, so for a good 10 minutes there was a whole lotta high pitched squeeling going on in that pipe. They made their creative contribution with sidewalk chalk and we headed out. We had been there about an hour and the crowd had just about tripled in that time. There were only a couple empty tables left at 6:30. This is one of the benefits of small children who eat early- we always get a table. As soon as we got in the car, Big Boy wanted his sticker and tattoo but I realized I had left them behind on the table. He was pretty upset but I promised we would be back soon and he could get another. And we will.

"It's all good in the noodlehood."