Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heights Happenings: March 31- Apr 6, 2010

Friday, April 2, 5-7 PM: Driving for Danes at The Shady Tavern
  • Lauren and Harley the Dane are bringing their road trip to Lauren's hometown.
  • Stop by the Shady Tavern, 1206 W 20th, to support Great Dane and animal rescue organizations.
  • Happy hour, live music by Dogs On Parole and donations accepted at the door.
Saturday, April 3, 10AM- 3PM: Scout's Honor adoption event

  • Scout's Honor Rescue will have a pet adoption at 1128 Heights Blvd. They will also be looking for foster parent volunteers. 
  • For more info visit their site (link in title). 
Saturday, April 3, 8:30 PM: The Listening Roon at Studio Nia Moves presents Jon Dee Graham with John Egan

  • Jon Dee Graham has been inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame three times, in 2000 as a solo artist, in 2008 as a member of the Skunks, and in 2009 as a member of the True Believers. In 2006, the readers of the Austin Chronicle named him Austin Musician of the Year. 
  • Tickets $17.50 in advance online
  • Click here to purchase tickets online
  • Tickets $22.00 Cash ONLY at Door

Plan Ahead:

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. 
2010 is the 100 year anniversary of the Sunset Heights Neighborhood!
  • In honor their Centennial, the Sunset Heights neighborhood association is planning a celebration for September 25, 2010. 
  • The first thing they're doing is reaching out to the community for a theme.  Have any great ideas for this celebration? Know anyone with some ideas they would be willing to share? Please send all theme ideas  If your theme is selected, it will be used in promotional materials such as banners, emails, posters, and t-shirts!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heights Snapshot: The Prettiest View

Sunday, March 28

3:30 PM

The view from the Taylor overpass at I-10

I love this view. In fact, I love the view from the whole stretch of I-10 from Taylor to Shepherd. This is my favorite part, though. I often imagine interstate travelers driving the length of I10, spanning the whole southern portion of our country. Driving, they see this park on a sunny Sunday and they think What a pretty neighborhood. On this day, they would see joggers and bike riders, a softball game, a birthday party, frolicking dogs and kids climbing all over a cool piece of outdoor art. As they head out of Houston, they'll see the same things you can see off any stretch of highway, in any other city. Costco. A mall. An outlet mall. And then the country and truck stops. I hope in the slice of our city these travelers see, they remember this picture. The prettiest view of Houston from Interstate 10. A picture of the Heights. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Healing House

I can see you now. You're sitting on the patio at Onion Creek, enjoying a cold St Arnold's and across the street you see a green house. The house has a sign with a colorful tree and the words "Heights of Health." You sip your Texas Wheat and think I wonder what that house is all about?

I kind of thought I knew what it was all about. When the business first opened a couple years ago, there was some chatter about it and I was left with an impression that they sell vitamins. I was mistaken. 

Over a decade ago, Tracy Southwick was young, just married, living in Fredericksburg, TX. After returning from her honeymoon, she became sick. Bedridden. She saw many doctors and they concluded that she had a viral infection that couldn't be cured. She would be, they said, in and out of bed for the rest of her life. At 23, they told her she would never be able to hold down a job and never live a normal life. There was nothing they could do, they said, outside of some Prozac to help her deal with seeing her life shrink before her eyes when it was really just beginning.

Luckily for Tracy, she was open minded and when a friend suggested she visit a health food store in Marble Falls, she decided there was nothing to lose. That trip changed her life and, subsequently, the lives of the many people she has helped since her own experience. With a combination of dietary changes and homeopathic remedies, Tracy's situation took a 180degree turn. Within two weeks Tracy felt the best she had ever felt and she has been healthy ever since, never confined to bed in pain and not on Prozac. She is plenty happy with the way things turned out.

After her own experience, Tracy became very passionate about traditional medicines and homeopathy. Understandable. She decided to make it her work as well as her passion. More than a decade and several certifications later, Tracy works to help people in all aspects of their life, starting with their health. her job, she says, is "to empower [people] to take charge of their own health." She gives them the tools to help make changes, make a difference and effect how they "experience life everyday." Everyday, she says, she sees "miracles."

Tracy was living and working in Fredericksburg until 2003, when she returned to Houston with her family. She grew up in Houston and upon her return, settled in to Montrose but eventually life brought her to the Heights (sounds familiar, no?). She wanted the family aspect but also desired a walkability and wanted to be in a place where the people are "interesting." Living here, Tracy loves the multi-generational aspect of the neighborhood and that "people who live here take pride in the Heights."

For a few years she was doing what she had always done- working out of her home. However, with a young toddler at home and working 50+ hours a week, she needed her own space. She didn't even consider anywhere but the Heights and in 2007, Heights of Health opened.

When I talk to people about their businesses in the Heights, I always ask "How has the neighborhood supported you and your business?" Tracy is one exception where the great majority of her clients are actually from outside of the Heights. Still, the Heights works for her and her business. Her work is "out of the normal range of experience" and she feels that being in a less mainstream sort of area helps her. Clients coming from the suburbs or even farther have an easier time accepting "alternative medicine" in an alternative neighborhood. They find it "charmingly appropriate." Oh, I know it's a little strange but, you know, it is in the Heights... Plus, Tracy says she loves bringing people from all over to the Heights, showing it off a little. I know that feeling.

So, what do all these people come to see Tracy for? She is certified in nutritional counseling, is a traditional naturopath and a certified herbalist, among other designations. People come to see her to find out "what is out of balance" in their body and get it back in working order. One of the tools of her trade is an amazing machine called CoRe, which is a bioresonance machine. Based on the technology used by NASA to determine what moon rocks were made of, the CoRe (one of several biores machines on the market) can detect vitamins and minerals in your body. It produces a read out that can give Tracy an idea about what might be out of whack, like a vitamin deficiency, and what kinds of changes, dietary or other, may help get someone back in balance.

One of the interesting things that really got me interested in the CoRe is the fact that it is supposed to detect things like food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. Both my sons had lactose intolerance as infants (meaning that as a nursing mom I had to be the one to give up cheese and ice cream) and my younger son still has some GI issues. Come to find out, a similar experience is what got Tracy working with kids on food allergies as well. Her daughter had a severe lactose sensitivity and Tracy knew that there had to be a way to help her. She travelled to LA and worked with a well known doctor out there who also works with alternative- sometimes called 'complimentary' these days- medicine. When the treatments she did for her daughter worked, she expanded her practice and allergies have become the biggest part of her business.

Toward the end of my chat with Tracy I was so amazed by her stories that I started to run through my whole family's list of ailments and see what she knew about them. From food allergies to headaches to GI concerns, she had suggestions for many of the issues I threw at her. However, she said it's really hard to say "this means that" since each body is so different. Because each person's needs can be so different, Tracy's methods differ for each client. Treatment plans are highly individualized; there is "no one answer."

I actually did return to see Tracy with my Wee One. He held the wand of the CoRe machine and it said a couple of interesting things about him. I am as cynical as the next person but I a good friend in the neighborhood who has taken he daughter to see Tracy and sings her praises. Wee One has so many tummy issues and my pediatrician hasn't really had any answers except a severe elimination diet for me. What Tracy does is actually work with the body, through things like acupuncture points, to help retrain the brain to not have a negative reaction when substances you're intolerant of enter the body. She teaches the body to react differently. I thought "If she can figure out what is wrong with the Wee and make life easier for us, why not try it?" Sure enough, one of the things she determined was that there was basically yeast in his GI system. This made perfect sense after being on antibiotics for ear infections for 5 months. She gave me some very stinky drops to give him and warned that it would get worse before it got better. That night and the next, he barely slept... but we were used to that. The 3rd night he slept the longest he had since he was 3 mos old and got his 1st ear infection. We have had consistently better sleep since he has been taking the drops (and probiotics) she suggested. So, no it wasn't a total fix but yes, we are in a better place than we were.

I think that it's so wonderful that we let modern medicine and traditional medicine work side by side. As I mentioned before, traditional medicine is sometimes called "complimentary medicine" these days. This is what MD Anderson called it when my grandmother was being treated there. As far as I am concerned, there has to be something to it if one of the top cancer research and treatment facilities in the world uses traditional medicine to compliment their modern treatments. It's nice to know that a leap of faith in a different direction may help when other methods are exhausted, or even before then.

Have questions? Stop in and see Tracy at her little house of healing. I'll meet you for a beer at OC.

540 Frasier Street

Houston, Texas, 77007 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heights Happenings: March 24- March 30, 2010

Easter Egg Edition

There is no shortage of things to do as we welcome spring to the Heights!

Saturday, March 27, 9AM: Proctor Park Easter Egg Hunt

  • This Easter egg hunt is community supported as the park has little funding for this kind of event. Each year, community members donate plastic eggs with treats from candy to Playdo.
  • This year Proctor Park has also invited a large group of kids from Depelchin Children's Center to participate, along with an open invitation for neighborhood kids.
  • Help support this event by bringing eggs or candy by the park, W Temple @ Julian. Someone staffs the club house weekdays from 9-5.
Monday, March 29, 10AM: Milroy Park Easter Egg Hunt
  • Eggs full of stickers will be hidden all around Milroy!
  • If you want to join the fun, consider bringing snacks or drinks to share with the other families.
  • This is also an "official" Heights Kids Group event, so if you have been wanting to join the group here is an opportunity!

Saturday, April 3, 10AM-3PM: Easter Kids' Fair at Heights Presbyterian Church
  • Since taking the reins at Heights Presby, Reverend Mark Downs has been working hard to make his church more than just a place of worship, but also a community resource. From hosting the Slow Food Potluck luncheon to providing a space for other denominations without a place to worship, Heights Presby cares and reaches out.
  • For Easter, Rev Downs is busting out the bouncy house and tons of fun Easter crafts for the whole Heights community.
  • 240 W 18th Street

Friday, March 26- Sunday, March 28: Bayou City Arts Festival Memorial Park

  • One of the best annual events in Houston!
  • Remember: No public parking at Memorial Park:  Park & Ride FREE on the BCAF Shuttle!  New and improved comfort shuttle service from NW Mall and Downtown Theater District. CLICK HERE FOR PARKING & BUS INFORMATION.
  • For more information about the Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park, please contact the Art Colony Association.

Friday, May 7: Spring Fling on 19th St
  • Spring Fling is coming back and it's going to be better than ever. This year, 19th Street merchants are giving back to the community. 
  • "SHOP   CARE   SHARE" is the theme for 2010's event. Each business will have an adopted organization for the evening and a portion of sales will be donated.
  • Mark your calendars and then check back for participating merchants and which local organizations they will be supporting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Farewell Post (from Sara, not Viula!)

Dearest Neighbors,

First, I have to apologize for being absent from this blog for the past several weeks. I won't bore you with too many details, but suffice it to say that I have been over-committed (e.g., neighborhood newsletter had to get produced, funeral had to be attended, spring break trip was taken, consulting was done in New York, etc.).

The problem is that my general busyness over the past month is reflective of my life. Put very simply: I am over-committed.

I need to make a clearing in my life, so I can focus on a few major projects (like my family, my job in the Montessori program at Garden Oaks Elementary, the Houston Heights Time Bank, my blog about weddings, my personal blog, daily exercise, and healthy eating).

However, I am so, so confident that Viula will carry on this blog with gusto. She is the perfect neighborhood blogger: so curious, so informed, so connected, and so courageous. I look forward to popping in from time to time with guest posts.

If you need to contact me for any reason, feel free to e-mail me. I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood!

Wishing you the very best,


Nova Beads

Last week, during the week of perfect, San Diego-like weather, I spent a lot of time pushing my Wee One around in his stroller. He really enjoys being out and about in the neighborhood, and it gives me a chance to check out some places I haven't been in awhile or places I've never been.

On a stroll down White Oak, we decided to pop in and visit Cathy at Nova Beads. The funny thing about Nova Beads for me is that her little shop has called the Heights home for a decade, but it was only about a year ago that I knew it was there. The reason this is funny is because my wedding photographer used to be in the space right next door. How did I visit his studio a dozen times and never see this cute bead shop right next door? That's the thing about the Heights: there is so much to search out that sometimes I miss the obvious.

If you've never been in to Nova Beads, here is some of what you're missing:

All kinds of beads- every color, so many styles. For the most part, they come in a string. Even if you're not crafty, you can usually find a great style of bead you like and string 'em together for an inexpensive alternative to store-bought jewelry.

Many of the strings are in the $3-6 range. Two of them together to make a whole necklace is a bargain. I have a friend who used to buy fun beads in glass, wood, ceramic, whatever, and string them on a heavy duty elastic. It was cheap, easy and she could slip them on and off without having to mess with a clasp. You can't use super heavy beads for this for obvious reasons. Also when you put this minimal effort and cost in, you can take them apart and remake them as often as you want.

Cathy also has a lot of decorative beads sold individually. For the less crafty, you can also get a custom piece done. Cathy makes everything from necklaces to rings to brooches. You can give her a color scheme, pick a main bead for her to design around, or pick all your beads and have her execute your vision.

Individual beads in every color and many styles

Great glass beads from $2 each

Cathy can make your jewelry for you, but she can also teach you how to make your own. There are classes on a regular basis. Classes range from a Beading 101 to more advanced, like a class last month where attendees learned to make wire wrap rings like these for sale in the shop:

Nova Beads has a lot of pre-made jewelry for sale, as well as all the assembly supplies you need like wire, cutters, clasps and more. It's a one-stop shop for creating something unique for yourself. There are also great gift items, for beaders or not. Stop in and say "Hi" to Cathy, another person making the Heights a special place to live, play and shop!

Handmade earrings

A large selection of clasps and fasteners

Nova Beads
3518 White Oak Dr.
Houston, TX 77007

Retail Store Hours:
Tues. - Sat. 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Friday, March 19, 2010

Heights Snapshot: Sad

Yes, this is technically 2 pictures... I realize that.

Saturday, March 6

10:30 AM

Waverly at 8th

If you ever ride the Nicholson Bike Trail, you've probably seen this sad state of affairs: 2 rows of townhomes with only the street side units complete. I honestly don't have any idea how long the others have been sitting in that state, but I hope the whole back group meets the same fate as the one pictured in the second photo. The weekend after these were taken we were on the bike trail again and noticed the last unit on the street side was being dismantled. As you can see from the picture, at the start of the month it still had a sale sign in the yard. I can't imagine how. My heart really goes out to the people who bought the other units. Hopefully all the incomplete units can come down and these people can have a significantly improved view, even if it's of nothing.

Now it's actually 3 pictures. I just remembered I had a picture of the dismantling on my phone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Heights Happenings: March 17- March 23, 2010


Shamrock sugar cookies from Dessert Shoppe

I really don't have a lot going on for this week, but if you have something email us and I can edit the post. Otherwise, I just wanted to give a heads-up on the Houston Heights Association Home & Garden Tour that's coming up Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11, noon - 6:00 p.m. each day. 

In conjunction with the home tour, there is a cool raffle but apparently I can't say anything else about it because State law prohibits talking about raffles on the internet. Sad. But if you already saw the details, tell your friends and neighbors where to go and what to see!!

Home tour details from the Heights Assoc website:

Themed Now Showing…The Houston Heights, the event will showcase six distinctive homes in the area, dating from 1903 to recent construction, each reflecting the unique character and architecture of one of Houston’s most cherished and eclectic neighborhoods.  

Shuttles will be available for boarding at the Heights Fire Station at 107 W. 12th and Yale St., where parking is also available. Tour goers are asked not to park at the tour homes. 

TICKETSHome Tour tickets are $17 in advance, available on the site  and beginning March 6 at Another Place in Time, the Artful Corner, Buchanan’s Native Plants, Eclectic Home, Jubilee and Waldo’s Coffee House. Day-of-tour tickets are $20 and may be purchased at Buchanan’s Native Plants, Another Place in Time, Heights Fire Station, and at each home. Tickets include all six homes and bus shuttles. Tickets for individual homes are $5 each.

A note on another cool thing happening in the Heights:

Sunset Heights resident Becky Seabrook is heading up an effort to create a new garden at Field Elementary. The principal and newly formed PTA are interested in moving forward with a garden on the SW corner of the campus.  The garden, which will be used for core curriculum as well as after school programming, will be completed in phases as funding is available.  If you're interested in volunteering to help build the garden or make a monetary or in-kind donation, please contact email me (link on the left) and I'll forward your information to Becky.  Here are some plans from the Sunset Heights website.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting Our Piece of the Pie

You know what we are? We are a neighborhood of stalkers. You know it's true. Any and every building that so much as has a work permit attached to it is routinely investigated by neighborhood residents. Because I write this blog, I am always getting emails asking "What's going on here? When is that going to open? Who is doing this project?" Because I write this blog, I feel obligated to try and answer. This means I may be one of the worst stalkers of all.

Of course, when you paint your building lime green, it's not too hard to catch a stalker's eye. And when we hear you are going to serve food, well, the whole neighborhood wants to know about it. 

This is how I ended up being the 1st dinner customer at Pie In The Sky Pie Company. I wish I could boast that I was the 1st customer at the Heights location altogether, but I missed lunch. It wasn't until after I fetched the big boy from school and found out my husband wasn't going to be home for dinner that I took the boys on a ride and we cruised down 19th. I had watched the building get painted, the Pie sign go up, the interior turn orange, and more recently a "Now Hiring" sandwich board placed on the sidewalk. When that sign only remained outside for a couple of days, I knew we would be having our pie soon enough...

So, last Friday I was going to take the boys to Lola for burgers, but it was too early and we decided to go for a ride around the neighborhood.  That's when I saw the new sign: Now Open 7 am - 10 pm.

It was only 5 pm so it was pretty quiet inside. I was greeted at the door by Daniel, who would also be my waiter. He lives in the Heights and is about to start culinary school at the Art Institute. Being a stalker, I had to ask! We had our choice of tables and selected one near the back, close to the kitchen. There are banquet seats against each wall, with predominantly 2tops and a few center tables. I laughed when I saw the stack of 2 highchairs. Sorry, but anywhere casual and affordable with decent food is going to need more than 2 highchairs in the Heights.

Daniel gave me a menu and explained that I would just write down my order on the small pad in the center of the table. Each pad has the table number on it. This seems like a quirky way to do things  and that it probably leaves a lot of room for errors, but this is not their 1st location so I am guessing it's what works for them in Conroe.

I wrote down my order and gave the pad to Daniel. I was immediately excited to see a Buffalo Chicken Wrap that had BLUE CHEESE! I don't know how, when or why restaurants started thinking that "buffalo chicken" anything is supposed to have ranch. It's not. Buffalo chicken gets blue cheese. The sky is up and 1+1=2 and buffalo chicken things get blue cheese. So, when I saw that Pie In The Sky had acknowledged this fundamental truth, I had to order it! My older son likes cheeseburgers. My other son eats babyfood. However, he does like to gnaw on something now and then, so for him (not at all for me) I ordered fried green beans.

When my wrap came out, I was kind of taken aback by the size. It was giant! The tomato tortilla was eye catching. Inside was deliciousness. Ripe tomato, crisp green lettuce, lightly fried white meat chicken and creamy blue cheese dressing. So far so good. And then I bit in and it got better. There is an unmistakable taste that is Frank's Red Hot. I was in spicy, chickeny, buffalo heaven. $9 included a side of fruit, but I feel pretty confident I could have substituted fries or chips if I wanted.

The $3 basket of fried green beans is a good deal and was great for sharing. They weren't as flavorful as I would have liked but that didn't stop the baby from gnawing a few down. The big boy just ate off all the breading and left the beans behind. He's 3 so that really shouldn't be taken as commentary though. I ate a couple and found myself wishing I had the ranch dressing I was so scornful of earlier. Oddly, what stopped me from asking for it was the fact that I had sent Daniel back and forth a couple times already for things I had forgotten to write on my order pad. It was his 1st night and I was his 1st table. I didn't want to add to the stress by running him ragged. The decade I spent as a server still has quite the hold on my conscience when I eat out. I will order the fried beans again and I will ask for ranch at the outset. After all, most fried veggies are just a vehicle for some kind of sauce anyway. Makes us look more civilized than if we eat ranch with a spoon.

My son's burger was a kid's burger and doesn't warrant too much description. It was a good size- that is smaller than some places serve for a child- as was the side of fruit. It was about 1/2 of what I got with my wrap, which is appropriate for a child and none went to waste. At $4, including a drink, the 6 items on the kids' menu are sure to cement Pie as a family destination in the Heights.

One adult dinner and one kids' meal make it hard to really tell a story about a restaurant. However, the food was good and the service was great, especially for opening night, so it won't be very long until I go back. In fact, Friday night is as good a night as any! Sure, there was a little on-the-job-training and Daniel had to ask the kitchen a couple things for me, but they have their system in place. By the time I left there were 5 more tables full and, as predicted, 3 had kids with them. If we do make it up there tonight, I'll be curious to see if they added to their highchair inventory.

More and more restaurants are opening around the Heights. It was only a couple years ago I debated whether or not this would ever happen on a local message board. "The Heights is dry and that is why no one will open restaurants here." Wrong on both counts. Glasswall, Berryhill, Stella Sola and Big Mamou all operate in a wet zone. Pie is in the dry zone, though. I asked if we would be permitted to bring wine and they said sure. There will be a corkage fee of $1/glass, meaning you can have 2 people drink 4 bottles of wine (and take a cab home!!) and the fee would be $2. Make sense? 

Lest I forget, in addition to dinner they also have... PIE! Cherry streusel, chocolate peanut butter, sour cream raisin and Southern pecan were just a few on the list that appealed to me. However, I let the late-working husband dictate the pie choice and he selected Starwberry Rhubarb. I ordered a slice of pie to go. You can get a slice, a 9" or a 6" pie. They have some sugar free options and you can pre-order lemon or chocolate meringue. They also have sweet breads. I sampled the blueberry streusel and orange-cranberry. They were just bites but wow- so moist and light and packed with flavor. I can definitely see getting one of these to-go on a Saturday morning for the family. As far as the slice I brought home to my husband: After dinner, I left the kids with Hubs and headed out to my neighborhood's monthly happy hour. I got home about an hour later and asked how the pie was. Hubs said, "Go have a bite right away because if you wait much longer it will be gone." Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Tooth says "thanks!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heights Happenings: March 10- March 16, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 1-8 pm: GGallery presents My America for Fotofest
  • Featuring new photographs from Bryan Kuntz, this show runs in tandem with the citywide Fotofest
  • There will also be an additional show opening, GWall Gallery for Fotofest 2010, featuring photographers including Chuck Ramirez, Todd August, John Lienhard, Joe Aker, Alfred Goodman, Toby Kamps, and Everett Taasevigen
Reminder: Sunday, March 14, Noon-3 pmPets Across America book signing & fundraising event at A Peaceful Pet
  • This is a wonderful opportunity to have family fun (kids and polite pets are welcome) and support a good cause at the same time. Do it for the homeless pets, do it for fun. Meet some nice people. Hug some cute Pugs. Refreshments will be served.
  • 2726 White Oak Dr
Tuesday, March 16, 6-8 pm: Mom's Night Out at Occasions
  • An opportunity for area moms to take a break and socialize with other moms while enjoying a glass of wine and good music at the Occasions Gifts.
  • Attendees will receive 20% off their total purchase
  • 301 W 19th (at the corner of 19th and Rutland). For more info call Barbara at 713-864-6900

Plan Ahead:

Saturday, March 20, 9-11am: Green Your Yard Event
  • The City of Houston's new Compostable Bag Program goes into effect in just 4 weeks! Council Member Ed Gonzalez invites you to attend an event where you may learn more about grass-cycling, compostable bags, and composting.  Representatives from the Parks and Solid Waste Departments will be on hand to demonstrate techniques.  
  • See the event flyer for additional information.   
  • Proctor Plaza Park, 803 W. Temple St. 77009

Saturday, March 27, 4-6pm: Poetry Reading at Heights Books-Libros

Sunday, March 21: BBVA COMPASS TOUR DE HOUSTON Benefiting the Houston Parks and Recreation Dept. 

  • Mayor Annise Parker and Senator Rodney Ellis will ride along with participants in the sixth annual BBVA Compass Tour de Houston. Cyclists will line up at City Hall on March 21, as the bike ride kicks off to benefit the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.  The route will take riders on a journey through Houston’s historic districts and parks.
  • “I’m excited to host this annual Houston tradition,” said Mayor Annise Parker.  “Thanks to BBVA Compass for their generous commitment, Houstonians will continue to enjoy the city’s premier recreational biking event while supporting our parks system.”
  • The 2010 Ride is scheduled for Sunday, March 21, 2010.
  • Start Location is City Hall, 901 Bagby. Ride lengths are 20, 40, and 70 miles
  • You can now Register Online or Register by Mail (.pdf)
  • Online Registration closes on Wednesday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m.

Monday, March 8, 2010

That One Tooth

It used to be hard to satisfy Tooth in the Heights. You know Tooth: the one in your mouth that makes you blow your diet, that craves sugar and butter mixed together with flour and more sugar. There is DaCapo's, but their hours aren't the most convenient. There is El Bolillo, but it's hard to walk/bike there, especially with Main under construction and it has to be the destination. You rarely hit El Bolillo on your way to somewhere else.

These days, however, Tooth is finding it easier to get its way. First, Jennifer Diaz started Porchswing Desserts here in the Heights, baking cakes and pies that are to die for. She started selling them at Antidote and I have satisified my Tooth several times because of it.

Now, Dessert Shoppe is open on 19th between Colina's and Penzey's Spices. Conveniently located off the Nicholson Bike Trail, you can satisfy your cravings on foot, by 2 wheels or by 4. They are open at 7:30 AM for that croissant on your way to work and are there until 8:00 PM if you want to treat your Tooth after an early dinner.

I stopped in last week to see how many ways the 4th generation Heights sisters could satisfy my large and very demanding sweet tooth.

As I was surveying the cases, I noticed 4 large, square cakes along the bottom. They call them "Log Cakes" and they are, indeed big logs of cake which you can buy by the slice. On the day I was there the offerings included Red Velvet with Cream Cheese frosting, Italian Cream Cake, Chocolate/Vanilla stripe with pastry cream filling and Chocolate/Chocolate. I opted for a slice of the stripe to eat there.

An entire Log Cake, available by the slice

I worried about my slice being dry because it was on the end of an already cut log but I was so wrong. It was moist and delicious. The pastry cream was smooth and the chocolate frosting was rich. Oddly, there was something nice about a rectangular piece of cake over a wedge. Maybe it was the equal amounts of cake:frosting:filling? Obviously they bake these logs for a reason! I actually lost my receipt somewhere in the bottom of my black hole of a bag, so I can't quote you an exact price for this little slice of heaven, but I think it was around $3...

Digging in to my slice

After I ate my cake, I was in a serious predicament. I couldn't do a post about 1 dessert! I just had to buy a few more for the road. Plus, I have an Official Tasting Assistant (or OTA) at home.

For the house I picked up a decorated cupcake. They had blue or pink flowers, as well as some puppies and Elmos. Know this ahead of time if you think you're going to get your child a plain, old cookie. Elmo is an eye grabber! Since I was taking it to go, I opted for the blue flower. It got a little squished in the box, but that didn't bother my OTA. He found the frosting quite nice and the cupcake itself was moist and just sweet enough. There are some other more well known places in town that specialize in cupcakes. This was simpler but it was better than any I've had at one well known location.

Partially smooshed doesn't matter when it comes to taste

My OTA gives the Dessert Shoppe cupcake a solid "A"

I also brought home 3 cookies, a bag of Shamrock sugar cookies and an eclair. Oatmeal raisin is my husband's favorite and he really enjoyed this one, but he found he liked the peanut butter even better. I ate the chocolate chunk. I found it soft without being too mushy but it lacked that little salty after taste that I really enjoy in a Triple C (which is how we refer to chocolate chip cookies in our house). It wasn't great but it wasn't bad. At $.85 each, Tooth can't complain though. The cookies are a great grab and go treat.

The Shamrock sugar cookies were nice, solid cookies. Firm and sweet with sugary cookie frosting (which hardens like a glaze). Hubs and I each ate one but I wasn't compelled to chow the whole bag. Yes, I am known to do that. The force is strong in Tooth. 

There was one major disappointment, though. It was the eclair. These have been one of my fave treats since childhood and something I just don't see offered as much here as they are back East. I was giddy with excitement but when I bit in, it was very dry and brittle with not enough cream in the middle. Also, it had been sliced in half the long way. I'm guessing this was to put the filling in but all the best eclairs I've ever had always filling piped in. The one from Dessert Shoppe slid apart while I was eating it. Bummer. Two bites and the rest went in the trash bin.

Luckily, the very pleasant memory of my log cake sustained me and I know that there will be something I can indulge in when Tooth starts to act up. Next time I go, I'll be trying another long time favorite: the cream puff! The giant muffins (blueberry, blueberry/cranberry, chocolate chip) looked amazing, with crusty, sugary tops. I can see my OTA happily digging in to a blueberry.

When the family rode our bikes up to the 1st Saturday Arts Market, Hubs popped in for a couple bottles of water and a peanut butter cookie. He was pleasantly surprised that the water was only $1/bottle. Good to know for those rides when you forget to bring H2O; being able to get Tooth off your back at the same time is an added perk.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Heights Happenings: March 4- March 10, 2010

Friday, March 5, 6pm- 8pm: Italian wine tasting at Nundini
  • Join the Heights' little Italian market for a wine tasting featuring wines of Italy.
  • Nundini has a great selection of Italian foods & wines, plus a great deli counter and gelato.
  • They also have free Wi-Fi.
  • 500 N Shepherd, just north of I-10. For more information, call 713-861-6331
Saturday, March 6, 11am- 6pm: 1st Saturday Arts Market 6th Anniversary
  • 1st Saturday Arts Market is always wonderful, but this weekend marks the 6th Anniversary for Mitch and crew.
  • Find the market in the parking lot of Wind Water Gallery at 548 W. 19th St. at Lawrence St. – fifty artists will showcase their paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and handmade wares in as many white canopied tents. Two market favorites will return to entertain patrons and the lawn chair wielding public that has started to gather on first Saturdays in front of the music tent. They are Houston's self proclaimed soul rocker Kenneth Scott, and later in the day Robin Kirby.
  • The first art market was held on an unused lot behind the now defunct Kaplan's Ben Hur department store. A couple of dozen excited artists greeted close to a thousand curious shoppers. Today many artists at that first market still attend frequently.
  • Parking will be tight due to a Heights Association crawfish boil right next door, so consider walking or taking the bike trail!
Saturday, March 6, 1pm- 3pm: Buchanan's Native Plants opens a new addition, Buchanan's Bungalow gift shop

  • Spring is the time for new beginnings; to sow the seeds to bring in a bountiful harvest come fall. At Buchanan's Native Plants - this spring welcomes Buchanan's Bungalow.
  • Right in the middle of Houston's largest garden center devoted to Texas native plants and organic gardening, something new has blossomed. It is an oasis of charm – a retail store that seemingly breaks the laws of physics with the vast variety of hip, cool new products spread throughout its refurbished walls.
  • Buchanan's Native Plants invites you to enjoy the grand opening of the shop. Refreshments will be served 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. while you enjoy perusing the new Bungalow.

Saturday, March 6, 7pm- 9pm: Lovestreet Coffee House "Sneak Preview"
  • Free coffee and menu samples will be served, and art by featured artists Carolyn Bertrand, Bettie Donovan, Heather Howard, Bonnie J McConnell, Pen Morrison, Carrie Olsen, Yucha Pak, Amanda Smith, Jet Whitt, & Julie Zarate will be available for sale at this one night only show.
  • The Grand Opening is expected to be late summer of this year. 242 West 19th St.
  • Houston native Katy Whelan has been dreaming of opening her own coffeeshop for the past 15 years. She will be incorporating sustainable and green practices in the business, and will focus on showcasing music and art by Houston artists.
  • The name was inspired by Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine, a Houston club open in the late 1960's that had psychedelic music with bands like the 13th Floor Elevators and The Moving Sidewalks.

Plan Ahead:

Sunday, March 14th from Noon -3pm: Pets Across America book signing benefitting Pug Hearts
  • A Peaceful Pet is proud to host a book signing to benefit Pug HeartsHouston. PugHearts of Houston is a non-profit rescue dedicated to giving unwanted and neglected Pugs a second chance.

March 26: Opening weekend of Opera In The Heights' production of La Boheme
  • Oh! has saved the best for last, as they end their 2009-10 Season with Puccini’s masterpiece. Maestro William Weibel will present the opera in its truest form, and has enlisted Associate Professor at the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance,Brian Byrnes to join the production as stage director.
  • “La Boheme is an incredibly character driven opera, wherein Puccini focuses his story on everyday people, true friendships, and real passions,” explains Byrnes. “Full of a zest for life itself,” he continues, “the characters continually move forward with a positive outlook, even under trying circumstances, and in true Bohemian form, they appreciate the tiny details that make life and living so precious. I feel this kind of perspective serves as an inspiration for us all.”
  • This final Oh! production will expand the run to eight performances at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. Opening the weekend of March 26th (Friday and Saturday performances), La Boheme will continue the next two weekends (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) though April 10th.
  • All performances will be at 7:30pm and will be presented in Italian with English surtitles.