Friday, February 26, 2010

For Every Occasion

I was making my usual rounds on Monday afternoon, baby asleep in the back seat, checking progress on the neighborhood- new houses going up, old houses coming down, checking for cars in the Happy All Cafe parking lot, etc... I have been stalking Pie In The Sky Pie Company as well. Last week they had a "Now Hiring" sign up for a couple days, then it was gone. I have seen a lot of work happening, even over the weekend. I am thrilled to have another breakfast and casual lunch option in the Heights.

Anyway, as I cruised down 19th I was actually trying to catch a glimpse of the sign for the new coffee shop about to go in a couple doors down from Shade. I could see an 8.5x11 piece of paper hanging in the window but I was going the wrong way to really get close (I'll probably do that tomorrow). As I turned around for a different view, something else caught my eye.

On the little standalone house that used to sell Persian style rugs and lamps and such was a new sign: OCCASIONS.

Well, a coffee shop coming soon is one thing. A new shop that wasn't open when I drove by a week before is entirely another. I pulled up out front, grabbed the baby from his carseat and headed in. It could not be more different inside. Everything is so bright and eye catching. I headed toward the back of store where I saw jewelry galore and was greeted with "We have coffee if you'd like some."

A case of chocolates is all any store needs to get me in the door.
And apparently my 9 month old feels the same way.

Barbara Guerra-Grainey may be familiar to some of you if you shop 19th Street regularly. For the last couple years Barbara has been operating a booth out of Grace Hart and Company, the miscellany store where vendors can set up booths to sell pretty much anything. The success of the Occasions booth lead Barbara to start a catalog of gift items and eventually she knew it was time to expand out of her booth space and in to a retail location of her own.

Get ready for RODEO!

Barbara lives in Montrose, so I was curious about why she chose the Heights for her store. Barbara said "I really spent a lot of time searching for the right location for retail space. After doing primary demographic research, I'd drive around to different areas and walk around, ask questions, and just get a feel for each area. When I visited 19th Street for that purpose, I got a really good feeling right away. I loved the diversity of the businesses on the street and the friendliness of the existing merchants. I knew that this was the place for my store." She also took note of the pedestrian traffic on 19th.

Barbara has developed a lot of love for the Heights. During her time at Grace Hart, she was always impressed by how the neighborhood really turned out for events like White Linen Night, Holiday on 19th and 1st saturday events. She "noticed right away that the community is really involved in this area and supports local merchants. I love that, and thought that I really wanted to continue my involvement in this area." When she saw the "For Lease" sign go up at 301 19th, she called right away. Incidentally, it's a day she'll never forget because she signed her lease, but it was also a day when it was snowing in Houston!

Men's novelty gifts, which are often overlooked in the girlie shops of the Heights

Barbara looks forward to being more involved in the neighborhood now that she has her own storefront. She wants and needs neighborhood support to succeed and hopes it will be "a synergistic relationship, realizing that she does "need the community's support to succeed, but I also think it's important to give back to the community- both from a financial perspective and also by becoming actively involved." She has a couple different ways she plans to make this happen:

The first is a donation/fundraiser program. Any school, charity, or organization can participate. A participating organization schedules a week during which the organization's members/family/friends shop at the store. They will mention they are "shopping for 'X' organization" when they checkout. After the week is up, sales related to the organization are tallied and the store will issue a check for 20% of those sales to the organization.

The second is "Mom's Night Out at Occasions". Barbara looks forward to this being a great opportunity for area moms to take a break and socialize with a glass of wine and good music at the store! Attendees will receive 20% off their total purchase. The first "Mom's Night Out at Occasions" is planned for Tuesday, March 16th. If they have enough participation, Barbara hopes to make it a monthly event.

Bucking the "Closed Mondays" trend of our little town, Occasions will be open 7 days a week. Great news for peoplw who always find themselves buying a gift at the.very.last.minute. While it's always the most fun to stop in for a visit, you can also check out Occasions' website. If you have any questions about the fundraising programs or Mom's Night Out, email Barbara

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heights Happenings: Feb. 24-Mar 3, 2010

Friday, February 26, 6 - 8pm: Join Hello Lucky for the opening of Found
  • New Work by Lisa Marie Godfrey (aka LittleCloud), Christine West
    and Frances Trotter
  • For the opening Lisa Marie Godfrey will present live music on the sidewalk out front from "Air Castle Mystery Solved"
  • This quarter, Hello Lucky is proud to have proceeds from store sales go to support Urban Harvest
Thursday, February 25, 7 pm: Sunset Heights Neighborhood Association monthly meeting
  • This meeting may be of interest to people outside SSH as well. The topic will be the TX Dot project to change the feeder road at I-10 and Yale.
  • Houston Brethren Church (Main and E 23rd).

Sunday, February 28, 2:30pm - 4:30pm: Mommy & Baby yoga at The Vitality Center

  • 507B Roy St, 77007
  • Casual gathering with light snacks, baby playtime, parent baby yoga class taught by Michelle Ananda, and music sing-a-long with baby instruments! Great opportunity to meet more new parents and relax together, and learn some fun things to try at home with baby to keep you both in your bliss!
  • Bring a baby blanket, and if you have one, a musical instrument for baby! Some instruments will be provided.
  • Yoga class is designed for babies who are not yet crawling but children of all ages and dads are also welcome to attend!
  • $10-$20 donation warmly accepted


Saturday, March 6, 11:45 am- 2:45 pm: Unstuff Your Life at Nia Moves
  • Andrew Mellen, also know as VirgoMan, will be presenting his Unstuff Your Life program.
  • Arguably the most organized man in America, Andrew J. Mellen aka VIRGOMAN® has developed simple, easy and lasting techniques for streamlined living, bringing order out of chaos to a client list that includes award-winning filmmakers, psychologists and harried soccer moms alike. Andrew has been on Oprah, among other shows.
Heavy trash days: March 15 for 77008 and March 12 for 77009. Tree waste will also be picked up at this time.

April 10, 2010: "A Night in Monte Carlo" to benefot Travis Elementary
  • Join parents and staff from one of Houston's best elementary schools at The Villa in the Heights and help raise funds for exciting programs such as Writers in the Schools, enrichment classes, and improved technology in the classrooms.
  • Live and silent auction, casino gaming tables and fabulous dinner.
  • For more information or to donate items to the auction, please contact, Terri Guerra, Auction Chair at 713.598.3043; or visit the website and click on the auction logo.
  • The Travis Elementary School PTA is a 501©(3) non-profit organization; donations to the auction are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Heights Snapshot: Wild Weather

Monday, February 22

5:30 PM

Heights Boulevard at 7th

Sunny and 60 degrees, yesterday's spring-like weather got many people out on the Blvd. Hard to believe they are predicting snow possible for today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Classes at Studio NiaMoves

Photo courtesy of Studio NiaMoves

Early last week, I received an e-mail forward from a friend about a stress management class being held at Studio NiaMoves on the upcoming Sunday. I thought, "Yes! That's exactly what I need." I was happy with the $25 cost of admission, as well as the convenient location on Pecore Street.

The class was officially called the "Tao of Stress Management with The Axelrad Wellness Clinic." I didn't know what to expect, but I was hoping for some concrete strategies to help me reduce stress in my life.

The facility on 508 Pecore Street is simply lovely. The class was held in a beautiful home-like environment with wood floors and built-in bookshelves. There was even organic, Kiss-My-Face Soap in the restrooms and hand towels (it doesn't take much to excite me!).

There were a dozen or so of us there, and we represented a diverse age range. Some were already patients of the clinic, and others of us were completely new.

Although the presenter had technical difficulty and wasn't able to show his PowerPoint, he gave us a handout with all the slides. He first talked about the importance of eating fewer processed foods because of the internal stress they can cause to cells. He specifically railed against things like refined sugar and flour.

Then he talked about how each of us needs to accept personal responsibility for our own stress levels. He emphasized that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to it. He identified a few primary sources of stress, such as being hard on yourself, wanting to control things you can't, escalating stress instead of managing it, blaming things on other people, and ignoring your intuition.

He addressed the serious medical ramifications for subjecting your body to a lot of stress. Then he moved into a discussion of how to curb stress in your life, with techniques such as breathing all the way into your abdomen (it feels great!), drinking more water, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating better foods, and getting enough vitamins and minerals. He briefly touched on acupuncture as a way to "turn up your body's healing response."

He concluded with the idea that, in short, we should "breathe more deeply, eat more simply, and move more frequently."

I definitely learned some good stuff and feel so fortunate to have such opportunities right in our neighborhood. I love that our neighborhood has a little something for everyone. I will definitely take classes at Studio NiaMoves in the future.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Your Neighbor Can Paint Your House

People come to the Heights for many different reasons and from many different places. Knowing my own journey (a Yankee born, raised and educated. Tried to get to New Orleans after college to volunteer and party but ended up in Dallas instead. Thought I was very close to leaving Texas, until I met and married a native. Now I'm here for the long haul), I am fascinated by how and why other people are here. I find that many are like myself: Accidental Houstonians who have come to embrace the city, to realize it gets the short end of the stick in a lot of National conversations and that it is far better than Dallas, even though The Weather Channel often thinks their city deserves a spot on the map and ours does not.

Cartoonist Mary Lawton is an Accidental Houstonian as well. Born and raised on Long Island, she came to Houston via NY, Boston and Berkeley. Her road to being a published cartoonist was almost just as accidental.

After graduating from high school, Mary headed to Europe. While she had always been an artist, Mary's travels veered her toward another art form: food and cooking. During her European travels she was eating and "learning about the world of food" by experiencing a lot of foods she hadn't been exposed to growing up. When she returned to the States, Mary started apprenticing in French restaurants in Boston. She was quickly moving up in culinary circles there, cooking for a living, but she would continue to draw at night.

In Boston, Mary found herself in a social circle that was dominated by cartoonists. At the time, cartoonist Lynda Barry was up and coming and they were all obsessed with her. Barry and another guy who you might have heard of, Matt Groening, were exposing the cartoon world to a "cool and novel" genre, one where it was ok, even cool, to be the outcast. Mary and her friends wanted to emulate the style of Barry and Groening. Mary practiced writing in Lynda Barry's style, letting her own style evolve in to something that was personal but also commercial.

Being a totally self taught artist, Mary's work continually grew and changed and she learned more about herself and her art. She submitted cartoon after cartoon to publications, waiting to see what one would hit the mark. In 1983, Mary had a cartoon published. Getting paid was a great motivator and she continued to hone her art and her humor, getting better and better.

Life pressed forward and eventually Mary left Boston and ended up in Berkeley. While she was there, she reconnected with someone she had met on the East Coast and a relationship developed. During this time, Mary also found herself picking up a paint brush pretty regularly. She had painted in high school but in Berkeley it was more a hobby than anything. She was teaching herself about it. She found she loved the act of painting and the process of self-teaching was exciting.

A collection of birds in her signature style decorates a wall in Mary's house

Then, as often happens, the relationship moved Mary again. Her husband was offered a job at Baylor and they came to Houston. Mary had never been to Houston and didn't know much about it. While her husband visited Baylor, she was given tour guides to show her the city. In a week, Mary saw every neighborhood in the city. That was all they had to make their decision. They knew they wanted an old house, something to remind them of places they had been before. Mary was actually attracted to the West University area, but the prices were well out of their range, even 15 years ago. In the Heights, Mary found a nice sized, partially renovated bungalow. Realizing that this neighborhood offered more house for her money, they bought the bungalow and never found a reason to leave; 15 years later they still live in that same house.

Mary's lovely bungalow, where she and her family have lived since she settled in Houston 15 years ago.

I feel that a fascinating story lies behind every door in the Heights. I fell in love with the beautiful, original door at Mary's house.

Mary and her husband proceeded to do some work on the house, personalize it. She has always worked from home so having a space that reflects her life and her work is important to her. They also expanded their family by 2 sons, raised in that same house. Now that the boys are a pre-teen and teenager, Mary can already see the way this house will work for her and her husband as the two boys eventually head off on their own. As life evolves, so does a bungalow.

Mary's sunny living room, where she paints while looking out at the goings on in the neighborhood

A portrait of Mary's mother based on a photograph from the 1940s

Having a family helped Mary expand her material for cartooning, but she also found that the market for cartoons has shrunk- and it was small to begin with. About 8 years ago, she was still cartooning and getting published, selling her cartoons to magazines and printing greeting cards but started to paint more and more. She was painting pictures of friends and family, eventually also painting the homes they live in. Word of mouth spread the news about her delightful, colorful and personal paintings. A local Realtor heard about it and even commissioned small home paintings from Mary as gifts for clients.

These days Mary's professional life focuses on painting people and the places they call home. She especially enjoys painting the beautiful homes of The Heights. If you would like an amazing keepsake of your home, she can do simple paintings of just a house or more elaborate pieces with you, your family and pets. She takes commissioned projects regularly and can work with all kinds of budgets.

I discussed having Mary do a project for us with my husband. I think we are going to go for it. We are getting cramped in our little bungalow and wonder if more space isn't in our near future (in the Heights, of course). It will be nice to have something special to always remind us of our 1st house in The Heights, the one we bought when we were first married and where we had our children.

A Heights painting Mary did several years ago for friends of hers who live in the neighborhood. Friends and family were the impetus for her to begin painting people and their homes.

If you are interested in finding out more about having your own home painted (or giving one as a gift) email Mary for information.

Photo courtesy of Mary

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heights Happenings: Feb. 17-23, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 6 pm- 8 pm: City of Houston Capital Improvement Plan meeting (District A)
  • Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) meetings are held every year to inform citizens of upcoming projects scheduled in their respective communities. The meetings also afford citizens an opportunity to voice their concerns and address their respective City Council member and City of Houston officials.
  • Presented by District A Council Member Brenda Stardig. Unsure if she represents you? This is primarily the west side of the Heights. Check this map for exact boundaries of the district.
  • Candlelight Community Center, 1520 Candlelight 77018
Friday, February 19, 8:00pm:
Pay What You Wish at Upstage Theater
  • Opening Night is just a few nights away! Make your reservations now for our 10th Anniversary Celebration production, Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. Opening Night is "Pay What You Wish" so come help us celebrate and laugh til it hurts!
  • Buy your tickets online.
Friday, February 19, 7:00pm: Houston Heights Time Bank Monthly Get-Together
  • People interested in time banking in the Heights will meet at 1134 Jerome Street at 7pm to carpool to Star Pizza and bowling. Families, friends, and neighbors are welcome! E-mail Sara Cotner, the Heights Time Bank Coordinator, for more information.
Saturday, February 20, 1:00pm: White Oak Pub Crawl
  • The Texas Together Education Fund pub crawl will begin at 1pm, and participants will "crawl" from bar to bar on White Oak. At 5pm, Spain Colored Orange will perform at Beer Island. All participants will receive a swag bag and be entered to win a one-week stay at a Pot Aransas condo.
  • Teams will consist of six people, but individuals are welcome to join the crawl. Entry fees may be purchased online.

Also, remember that this Friday is 19th on 19th. 19th Street merchants will be open late and have drinks, entertainment and discount! Shop local!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Presidents' Day

Photo courtesy of

While I'm taking a day off from posting to enjoy the holiday, please feel free to leave a comment about what posts you would like to see. Is there a specific restaurant you would like to see reviewed? Business? Organization? Park?

Your input is always welcome!

(You can also e-mail me, if you don't want to leave a public comment.)

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Heights Date Night

I like to look at the Heights as a self-contained unit. While I am definitely a "city girl" I like to think that the Heights could be enough if I needed it to be. And someday I might. If the empty lots on Yale and Studewood develop the way the rumors say they will, I imagine traffic so rage inducing I may rarely venture south of I-10.

My husband I tested this self-containment this past weekend with a Heights date night. One of the great things about Houston is the easy access to amazing performing arts. Seeing a show in Houston is a great date night, but parking downtown can be a pain and, honestly, there aren't as many restaurants close to the performance venues as there could be. You end up parking twice and it can be an expensive inconvenience. Plus, when your babysitter punches in for the night, you want as little travel time as necessary.

So, can the Heights offer a similar experience with in itself? Oh! Oh, yes it can! With a plethora of restaurant choices, the dinner part has become easy. And with Opera In The Heights, the show is easy as well. Sure, "Oh!" is much smaller than the Houston Grand Opera but it is so completely in scale with the size of the Heights versus the size of Houston proper. Where the HGO is indeed grand, an organization well respected in the Opera world and on par with the country's other Opera companies, the Oh! is also well regarded in opera circles. Oh! is, however, regarded as a launching pad for up and coming talent. According to their website,"This season three of our young stars moved on to the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera. Over 40 recognized singers credit us as instrumental in their advancement." That is big stuff.

To sit through an opera, you must have a full belly. Even though the doors opened at 7, Hubby and I knew we would need to eat before hand. We also knew it would have to be quick, taste good and have wine. Luckily for us, Glasswall is right down the road. We love Glasswall for several reasons: the food, the proximity to our house, the atmosphere, the amazing wine list, and for nights like our date night, the ability to get in early, have a real meal and be out with time to spare. We walked in the door, no reservation, at 6 (they open at 5:30) and were out by 7 without feeling like we were ever in a hurry.

The seasonal menu had changed since the last time we were there and we were thrilled by some of the new choices. Hubs decided to start with the soup, a nice Black Eyed Pea that was "spicy and piquant." I had the only salad option on the menu- Boston and spinach with a creamy dressing and pistachios. Excellent. We enjoyed these with a couple glasses of Bird In Hand sparkling pinot. I discovered sparkling reds a few years ago in Australia and am giddy like a school girl at their increasing popularity here. This one was more pink than red, but delicious.

For dinner, we switched roles a little. I always get a steak when we go out, while my husband is usually attracted to things like duck, rabbit, lamb. He'll surely get an Osso Buco if it's on the menu. He also loves a good short rib. This night, I found I really wanted the short rib. However, we believe 2 people at one table should never have the same dish. I asked what he was going to have and when he came back with "the strip steak" I knew fate was steering me to the short rib! As always, both meals were fabulous but there was a stand out: the blue cheese onion that accompanied the strip steak. Oh my! It was so simple but the taste was out of this world. I will be experimenting with onions and blue cheese at home in the very near future!

Check out that gooey, melty blue cheese onion right there. Nom nom nom.

Perfectly tender boneless short rib, just sweet enough to stand out against the awesome gratin potatoes. Oh yum!

Even within the hour we had to eat, we still found time for dessert. Plus, we both had some stellar August Briggs pinot noir left in our glasses (but none in the bottle). I'll pretty much always order whatever bread pudding they have on the menu. It's always a perfect ending. Hubby got the pear tart. He was jealous of mine. All that goodness in an hour and free valet right outside the door.

Bellies full of good food and warm from good wine, we headed ever so slightly north west to Heights Boulevard and historic Lambert Hall, home of Opera In The Heights. The show was Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. To be honest, I had never heard of this opera before, but then again I am not a fan of opera in the sense that I know anything about the individual operas. I am more of an I-like-to-go-to-any-live-performances-I-can kind of opera fan. I like exposure to a little bit of everything. The great thing about opera these days is there are screens above the stage where you can read a translation and keep up with the story. It makes it so much more accessible to everyone (although I still get that image of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, red dress, leaning over the edge of the box and crying, even though she had no idea what anyone was saying).
The gorgeous architecture of Lambert Hall
Once Heights Christian Church, the hall is on the National Register of Historic Places

When we pulled up to the building, we found that we could not park in the small lot adjacent to the hall. No fear- unmetered, ample street parking was available. We walked up to "Will Call" which was a table under an easy up at the bottom the handicap ramp in to the hall. Our tickets were in a small envelope with our name written on the front. Walking up the steep steps of the old church, the whole thing had a very community theater feel about it. It was nice, that feeling. Everyone was happy to be there. It wasn't tony or uppity. It was welcoming and, yes, felt very accessible.

We passed the "concession table" where volunteers were selling soft drinks, coffee and bottle water. There were baked goods on a tray. Everything was the same price. The Starbucks franchise that donated the coffee had business cards out on the table and you got free coffee with the purchase of an Oh! mug. Did I mention the quaint community theater feel already?

Volunteers sell beverages and goodies in the entrance to the hall

Row J, Seats 14 and 15. In a large downtown performance venue these would be great seats, very close to the front. In Lambert Hall, they are the next to the last row on Orchestra level. But they are still great seats. This is the kind of intimate space where there are no bad seats. You're right there, up close and personal. The orchestra is with you on the floor, almost like part of the audience itself. The stage is small and sparse but opera is more about the people than the scenery. A simple desk, a couple of chairs and a small chest of drawers were all that were needed to set the scene for each Act. And the sound system. Yeah, there isn't one. The intimacy of the hall renders amplification completely unnecessary.

View of the stage from Row J

The orchestra sits at the bottom left corner of the auditorium

Now, again, I am no opera aficionado but I thing I can judge when a performance is good- sounds good, looks good, well acted. With opera, the acting is as important as the singing because there really isn't a lot of dialogue. The expressions on the performers faces tell as much of the story as the words they sing. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances and I think, when you do not know a lot about opera, your comprehension of the story when you leave is a testament to the performers. John Roger as Riccardo and Lara Tillotson Joyal as Amelia were brilliant. Lara, Soprano, was outstanding and captivating. John, Tenor, had the acting skills to really make his Count believable. I left with an understanding of the story, having laughed and cried by the time it was over. The laughing was, in large part, due to the wonderfully quirky performance of Soo-Ah Park as Oscar, Riccardo's page. Her voice was amazing and it almost functioned as a punctuation mark for every scene she was in.

The beautiful stained glass windows of Lambert Hall

My husband, who first introduced me to Opera on a date to see La Boheme at the Houston Grand Opera, is giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing opera more regularly. With tickets starting at $20, Oh! makes opera date night doable for pretty much everyone. The best deal going is the season ticket package for the last 2 rows of the balcony: $68! Four amazing operas for $68. Where else can you get this caliber of performance for that amount of money?

Opera in The Heights is a great starting point for people who don't know much about opera but would like to check it out. It's accessible, with a great community feel (Did you know residents in the Heights offer room and board to performers who come from out of town?) and a really wonderful way to experience our neighborhood at its finest. While Oh! is going strong, with 2 shows of Un Ballo in Maschera sold out, it's still a small operation and can use all the support it can get. And it's ripe for a next generation of budding opera lovers to join. La Boheme is coming up at the end of March and beginning of April, with 8 total performances. Tickets start at $28, with $10 special for students. Make it a date!

Heights Happenings: Feb. 10-16, 2010

Outside the Heights

Plan ahead: Deadline- March 9: Chili Cook Off at The Coffee Groundz to benefit Noah's Kitchen
  • Noah's Kitchen is a small non-profit "meals on wheels" type of organization providing meals daily to those in need. The project launched in January of 2010 and they hope to be fully operational by January 2011.
  • Join Noah's Kitchen and Coffee Groundz for a chili cook off fundraiser!
  • Check this page for details as the planning progresses.
  • Event date: March 28
Also, Discovery Green has finally updated their entire 2010 Calendar.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday Brunch at Dry Creek

I've been hearing good things about the breakfast at Dry Creek for a while now, but I haven't had a chance to make it over there until this weekend.

Usually, I'm willing to make the trek to Montrose for my cheap-n-tasty breakfast favorites: Baby Barnaby's or Christy's Donuts. (Sometimes we hit up both restaurants on the same morning if we anticipate a really long line at Baby Barnaby's and stop by Christy's to pick up a small appetizer...)

However, I would prefer to stay local, so I've been eager to try the breakfast at Dry Creek. I'm happy to report that the experience did not disappoint.

Due to yet another sickness this year (maybe because I'm exposed to the germs of 22 kids in my classroom every day?), I went to bed pretty early on Saturday night. That meant my husband and I were up early for breakfast on Sunday. When we arrived at Dry Creek, it was so empty we were afraid it might not be open yet. Apparently, however, they open at 7am for breakfast every day of the week. We were just ahead of the sleeping-in crowd.

We helped ourselves to a seat in the quaint, indoor portion of the restaurant and were immediately greeted by a welcoming and calm server. Although the breakfast choices are not as varied or exotic as the choices at Baby Barnaby's (I love the eggs with spinach and artichokes!), I easily found something that looked good: Big Mama's Breakfast.

I'm the kind of person who has difficulty choosing between egg options and dough options (you know: pancakes, waffles, etc.). That's why the Big Mama was the perfect compromise. I got three scrambled eggs, potatoes, a waffle, and a side of fruit (which they happily gave me in place of the meat option).

The meal was definitely deserving of the moniker "Big." I had plenty of food and some left over to share with my appreciative husband. The potatoes were just like the yummy ones they serve at Baby Barnaby's: crunchy and tasty. The three eggs were a generous portion, and the waffle was cooked to fluffy perfection. The fruit was a good mix of pineapple (not the canned stuff), strawberries, blackberries, and cantaloupe. They didn't even use honey dew as a filler!

All of that for $8.

My husband was equally pleased with Joe's Huevos: scrambled eggs, pico, avocado, sour cream, and refried beans for $8. He added a serving of three tortillas for a dollar.

Other option include a variety of omelets, crab cakes and eggs, migas, lox plate, sweet and country granola, etc. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday from 7am-12pm and on weekdays (with a different menu) from 7:00-10:30am.

With the relaxed atmosphere, generous portions, inexpensive price tag, nearby location, and friendly wait staff, Dry Creek is definitely a great option for a weekend brunch.

What about you, Heights Lifers? Have you tried the breakfast at Dry Creek? What was your experience like?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Not what I expected...

First I have to say it's good to be back on line. My computer curled in to fetal position and gave out on me a couple weeks ago. Thanks to Sara for keeping us up and running. I finally bit the bullet and switched to a Mac, which presents its own set of challenges but so far, so good. Anyway, I hope it will be a long time before I have to resuscitate this guy. Now where was I before my old computer died? Oh yeah! Loving life in The Heights!

Unfortunately, this post is going to be something of a non-post (to start, the pictures for it are on my old computer). I had, for the 1st time, a disappointing experience visiting a local Heights business. Bummer.

Part of what I really enjoy about writing this blog is how it forces me to explore- to actually make those stops at places I have walked or driven by 1000 times and never gone in. Ja-Vi Boutique on Yale is one of those places I drive by all the time and always wondered about. It made it to my list of "Places to explore for the blog" and 2 weeks ago I actually made it my destination. I always thought they probably had Mexican imports. This was loosely based on the sign and the rustic furniture shop in the back. I thought rustic Mexican pottery and maybe some silver, plus furniture and gift items. Clothes would probably be guayaberas and pretty embroidered dresses. I expected knock offs, too. I also expected to be greeted with that typical Heights friendliness and the kind of customer service I always claim you can only really get at a local shop.

Well, it was not at all what I expected. Let's start with service: as I walked in, camera and mini-cards in hand, the woman manning the store was sitting at the front desk on the phone. I wish I knew if she was the owner, manager or just an employee but I never got a chance to find out. You see, she was on the phone. When I opened the door, she looked at me and then got right back to her conversation. Didn't even bother to cover the mouth piece of the phone and give me a "let me know if you have questions" type whisper. I meandered around the front room for a while as she told the person on the other end "well, I don't think he would say that if he knew...." and "you should tell him you want [this and that]..." I looked in her direction a couple times but she didn't seem to care what I was there for- shopping or otherwise.

I walked in to the adjoining rooms, perusing the goods. I must have been in the store for a good 15-20 minutes and she never paused her phone conversation. Is it wrong that I sort of expected a "Hey, I have a customer. I'll call you back"? No such luck. I broke out the camera and snapped some merchandise photos. I'm a #shoplocal optimist, after all.

Finally, there was nothing more to see or do. I walked, intentionally slowly, to the front door and exited. Not even a "Thanks for stopping in" or "have a good day."

So, that was a big, fat fail. The store itself was not at all what I expected either. As far as merchandise, not Mexico. More like the standard imports from India and China. Knocks offs. There was some baby stuff, lots of jeans around the $65 range, tons of costume jewelry and big, pleather handbags with stuff dangling off of them. A couple of random bathing suits, 'spa' stuff, soap and candles, and some shoes. A couple pairs of shoes were nice looking- real leather, stylish. I don't know how much they were. By the time I found them, I was over it and on my way out. 15 minutes had gone by. The phone conversation continued "When did they find out? Did they take the car? Blah blah blah"

Then, weirdness. As I was backing out of my parking spot to turn south on Yale, I see a bright orange head coming my way. It was the owner, manager, worker bee, whoever. No, she wasn't talking on the phone anymore (I only had to leave for that to stop) but sho'nuff she had that cordless phone in her hand. She walked across the parking lot and it was obvious she was coming for me. I had already backed out so she was on the passenger side of the car. I rolled down the window, ever optimistic that she was going to apologize and see what she could help me with.

Again, what I expected to happen couldn't have been farther from the reality. I rolled down the window and she asked me, no greeting of any kind, "Did you have to take pictures for The Leader?" Huh? "No," I said and fished for one of my cards. "So, you weren't taking pictures for The Leader?" I handed a card, she looked nonplussed. I introduced myself and said "I write a blog about The Heights, actually, and one of the things I focus on is small businesses in the neighborhood." "Oh, well," she waived her hand with the phone in it "we're in The Leader and that other 002 magazine." "Oh, ok..." and before I could say anything else, she was shuffling back toward the store.

So, yeah. Nothing about my trip to Ja Vi was what I wanted or expected it to be. Oh well. Luckily the Heights has no shortage of great places to explore and great people to meet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heights Happenings: Feb 3- Feb 9, 2010

Saturday, Feb 6, 11AM- 6PM: Heights First Saturday
  • I know this is a monthly occurrence and you would think something everyone knows about, but sometimes we need a reminder!
  • Don't forget to stop by for local arts, crafts and food items
Saturday, Feb 6, 6-9 PM: GGallery opening reception for SPARKLING RELEVANCE: Art by Werllayne Nunes and Colin Johnson
  • Show runs from February 6, 2010 thru February 28, 2010
  • 301 East 11th Street
Saturday, Feb 6, 10 AM- 6PM: Grand Opening of bespoke by GJCD

  • Gilbert Joseph Perez, owner of Bungalow Revival and Gilbert Joseph Custom Design & Interiors offers Houston his third creative venture; a home d├ęcor boutique. The accomplished interior designer has spent over 15 years creating some of Houston’s most remarkable interiors. In the last few years he has focused his efforts on salvaging and restoring a number of historic bungalows in the Heights.
  • The high-end boutique will also serve as headquarters for Gilbert’s thriving interior design company. Bespoke by GJCD will be open Wednesday through Sunday and also by appointment.
  • 238 W. 19th Street in the Heights.

Thru Sunday, Feb 7: "Swap Clothes, Save Lives" at Contents on 19th
  • "The earthquakes in Haiti have left many wondering, 'what can I do that will make a difference?' It may be as easy as cleaning out your closet! Join CONTENTS as we attempt to do our part to help. Pack up those clothes that you forgot you even had and bring them to CONTENTS."
  • To reward everyone for their donations CONTENTS will extend a 25% DISCOUNT on all regular priced items