Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heights Happenings: May 26 - June 2, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 7 PM: Sunset Heights civic club's monthly meeting
  • The speaker will be Robert Gallegos from Precinct 2 who will speak about the new community center opening in the building that used to house Robert Lee Elementary (off Quitman).
  • E 23rd and Main at the Brethren Church
Friday, May 28, 2-7 PM: Sex and The City 2 Party at Contents- Heights
  • Contents on 19th Street will be serving Cosmos and cupcakes in honor of opening weekend of SATC2
  • Join their mailing list for a $25 gift certificate
Saturday, May 29, 6-8 PM: G Gallery, in conjunction with Apama Mackey Gallery and Keep Houston Rich, presents: A Visual Stimulus Plan
  • Preview 11 AM- 5 PM, Reception 6-8 PM
  • Over 50 emerging and established artists from across Texas
  • Free admission with all works $100 or less
  • 301 E 11th Street


Thursday, June 10: Sugarcane Grand Opening
  • Formerly the Corkscrew, Sugarcane offers a unique concept: healthy drinking!
  • Located at 1919 Washington Ave, Sugarcane is an "eco-Friedly bar concept [whose] unique approach to cocktails involves organic spirits, fresh and local produce combined with modern mixology." They hope to revolutionize the bar business by providing a more sustainable environment and healthier drink options by providing a selection of Organic Liquors, Beer and Wines with a focus on locally produced products.
Sunday, June 20, 10 AM- 3 PM: Friends for Life fundraiser at A Peaceful Pet
  • A Peaceful Pet is excited to present their summer charity fundraiser for Friends for Life, the fastest growing No Kill animal adoption and rescue organization in Houston.
  • Sandy will be introducing a new artist into the salon. Jill Stacy, a charcoal and pencil artist, will be on hand at the event to discuss her drawings. Her pet portraits are both captivating and moving. A portion from all of sales of Jill's work will be donated to Friends for Life.
  • A Peaceful Pet believes in supporting local rescue groups. Please help them support “re-cycled” pets in need.
  • Families and pets welcome. Take home some free Solid Gold and Stella and Chewy's pet food and treat samples. They'll be running specials on pet supplies and a portion of those sales will also be donated to Friends for Life. Refreshments will be served.


Opera In The Heights is entering its 15th year! Next seasons shows promise to be the best yet! This season "Oh! reveals its stellar artistic growth and maturity, providing thrilling entertainment and great music as the crystal anniversary season highlights what can happen when men clearly fall for the wrong women."

  • Starting on September 23, The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) by Jacques Offenbach recounts the tale of three unrequited loves, Olympia (the mechanical doll), Antonia (who sings herself to death), and Giulietta (who steals his soul). These performances will be in French with English surtitles through October 2.
  • From November 4 to 13, Oh! will feature Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, one of the greatest operettas ever written. The spoken dialog, including Maestro’s topical additions, is in English, so you won’t miss a single word. Responding to requests, there will be a matinee for the first time on November 7 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Don Carlo, one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most stirring operas, inaugurates 2011. Beginning January 27 and running through February 5, Oh! will present this Italian masterpiece with a half dozen of the best duets in all opera.
  • Finally showing March 24 through April 2, the company will present The Pearl Fishers (Les PĂȘcheurs des Perles) by Georges Bizet, the composer of Carmen.
  • Artistic Director, Maestro William Weibel, returns to Oh! this season with a superstar cast and staff whom Maestro Weibel hand-selected to artistically present these tales of intrigue and passion. Experience these productions in an intimate (300 seat), historic setting, where the audience can enjoy the performance up close! Ticket prices start at $20, with the best seats in the house for only $49 and season tickets (four operas) for as low as $68. Call 713-861-5303 or visit www.operaintheheights.org for more information.

Trash Reminders, courtesy of Sunset Heights Civic Club:

Trash Can
Heavy trash day is June 21 for 77008 and June 11 for 77009. In June the City of Houston will be picking up Junk Waste. (Odd months are tree waste. Even months are junk waste.)

Recycling days for 77008 and 77009 are Thursdays June 10 & 24. Recycling and trash pickup are on the same schedule again.

Curb side recycling accepts plastics with numbers 1-5 and 7, newspaper, cardboard, aluminum cans. Click here for more information about recycling.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lights for the Heights

We bought our house in the Heights shortly after we got married. While there were certainly a million things we could have done to make it our own, as they say, we were short on cash from throwing one hell of a party and needed to pretty much take it as we found it. It was painted in your basic tan in most rooms, cream in the living room. There was a pink bedroom but we knew it was going to be holding boxes of who knows what for a couple years, so that we kept the same until we were pregnant, expecting a boy. We could live with the Corian and sink with seperate hot and cold faucets. We could even live with the imitation wood blinds and absurdly scroll-y ceiling fan in our bedroom. There was one thing, though, that we absolutely refused to live with: above the living room fireplace were two sconces of the worst type. You know them. You've seen them- bright gold-toned brass with a frosted kind of tulip shaped glass, etched with something like grapes or vines.

Can we all say "Ew"?

We dedicated a small budget to finding something more period appropriate which also pleased our more modern personal style. Someone told us that Lighting, Inc on Richmond had the best selection in town, so we took a Saturday to start with the big box stores and eventually reach Lighting, Inc to see what they had. The selection was huge but there were 3 problems: they had little to no customer service for people with our budget, they had little to no options within said budget and they had nothing in a simple, Craftsman style to view on the showroom floor.

The "simple" shopping excursion took all day and was very discouraging. Hubby and I were losing steam, contemplating a life with the abominable brass light fixtures. It was just luck that we spotted Heights Lights & Things on Heights Blvd and decided to stop in. Honestly, we expected the prices to be astronomical after our experience on Richmond, especially at a little neighborhood spot. We were pleasantly surprised. Heights Lights had a huge variety of sconces at all kinds of price points. We worked with the salesman to find something in stock, but it wasn't there. Still, he was very knowledable about the Craftsman style and the kind of sconce we were looking for. We left without buying anything, gun shy about ordering without seeing in person. In the end, we just didn't want to look any further and were content to order from a cute place in our new neighborhood. We ended up with something well within our budget that perfectly complimented the history of our home and our more modern furniture. What more could we ask for?

Heights Lights & Things was one of our 1st great neighborhood finds- local but affordable with the kind of customer service I appreciate from a small business. Unfortunately the nature of the business didn't cause us to stop in again after our original purchase. You can imagine my dismay when a couple years later I drove down Heights Blvd to see the lot empty; the cute bungalow and the great neighborhood business both gone. What went up in its place- parking for the law firm next door.

Fast forward 2 years and a good friend of mine had just bought a home in Woodland Heights. She was shopping for the various things you often shop for when you buy a new home- window treatments, paint colors, lights. One day this friend asks me if I know about Heights Lights & Things. I tell her I do but it's gone. No, she tells me, it's not gone. It's somewhere in the Heights and she was hoping I knew where. I did not but told her to let me know when she found it.

Craftsman style scones for outside or in. Prices range from $33.95, with a solid brass option at $183.95, to an extra large outdoor sconce for $415.95

Sure enough, Heights Lights & Things had not gone the way of the Dodo! It's alive and well, in a new space on Harvard. I was able to corner Don Keck, HL&T's owner, for a brief chat to discuss the move and what's been going on since my sconce hunt oh so long ago.

My first question to Don was "Why the move?" It wasn't something he had planned, he told me. Sure, he needed more space, a bigger showroom, a store front with more visibility and a better parking situation. It wasn't until a partner at the law firm next door offered him a more than fair price for the little bungalow that he realized moving was in his immediate future. It wasn't easy- not only had Don had a business on Heights Blvd for many years, he also lived in the back of that bungalow while his business was getting off the ground. It was his home and his business and he was attached to it. But his business is also his life line and it needed a boost. That was his primary concern at the time and some offers are too good to refuse.

I asked Don what his most popular style was and he said he would be hard pressed to pin point one. However, he did point to this Craftsman style chandelier as one of the more popular among the Heights crowd.

Of course, while the logic makes sense, it can be disheartening to someone like me who loves bungalows. I couldn't help put Don on the spot and see if he was sad to see that bungalow get torn down. "Oh, it wasn't torn down," he told me. "The lawyer who bought the lot moved the house out to Brenham to use as a country home." Well, I'll be I thought. That is just excellent news and a great way to kick off the visit!

Don moved to Houston in the late 70s and opened his store here in the early 80s, mostly because this was also where he lived. When he moved to Houston from Nashville, he needed something affordable. The Heights was rough, especially around his home on 23rd but something about it reminded him of his childhood in Albany, Ohio. He had an elderly neighbor who very much reminded him of the older generation from his youth. She was probably the original homeowner, not wanting to lose her sense of place, but was afraid of what the area had become. She pretty much begged Don to buy the house next door and he couldn't refuse. Sentimentality got the best of him! Don soon joined with a group of like-minded neighbors and worked on projects to make the area safer, like organizing and getting together funds to tear down an old, abandoned grocery which had become a drug den. All of us who enjoy life here now can thank people like Don who loved the Heights before it was cool (or even safe).

These days Don doesn't live in the Heights anymore, but he is close by in a little enclave of bungalows just across 45. Heights Lights & Things has a new home in a commercial building. While it is missing the charm of his old Blvd location, the new building offers more space for more sample inventory as well as ample parking. He was also able to build in a special "light lab" where builders and home owners can see all kinds of recessed or built in lighting in use.

The "Light Lab" where you can sit and work out your lighting needs...

...and see all kinds of lighting in action

Recently these mini-chandeliers have been a huge seller, the trend being using them to dress up bathrooms.

In addition to lights, Don has things. From door bells to ceiling fans, there is a huge selection of hardware for your home. And the prices can't be beat! I was honestly shocked at how affordable some options were and how much less others were than big retailers like Home Depot. Don says there are 2 main misconceptions about his business. Being in the Heights, he says people often think he is an antique dealer. Being a small business, people often think he is going to be very expensive as well. Don says he just can't do it. He's not a "gouger" and he doesn't believe in it. Frankly, he admits, it gets to be too much trouble dealing with "I'll give you this percentage off of these if you also buy these or that much off of those if you buy so many" and so on. It's just easier to offer the fair price so everyone knows what they are getting up front. This has made his shop popular for a couple of area builders, who also appreciate his good selection, high level of customer service and knowledge of the area and the period appropriate lighting (should someone want that, like Hubby and I did).

Heights Lights & Things has around 2 dozen ceiling fan samples on the floor. Prices start at around $68.95 for a basic and go up to $216 for a super modern style with solid walnut blades.

Like most small business owners, Don is dedicated to going the extra mile to please his customers. "Small businesses are solvers," he said. A small business owner will take extra steps to make it work for every customer- from a builder filling a house to a newly married couple with a small budget. Custom orders for 2 lights get the same treatment as 200 lights. And if you need 200 lights, Don will be happy to help walk through your home and create a lighting plan, making sure you get what you need. He can help with scale, style and price. He can recommend trusted electricians and do special orders. Having trouble making it during normal store hours? If you know you are willing to buy from him, Don will stay late or come early to help. There are so many reasons to shop local and when the service, selection and price are there, I can't see why anyone wouldn't?

Heights Lights & Things has 100s of lights, walls of sconces, a ceiling packed with options. However, if you don't see what you are looking for, they have access to 1000s of styles from dozens of manufacturers in these books. While there is usually a minimum order, you are always welcome to make a small order for a fee charged by the manufacturer.

Heights Lights & Things
2515 Harvard St. (between 25th and 26th)
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 861-0607

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Heights Snapshot: MAMs and Moms

Sunday, May 9, 2010

3 PM

20th at Rutland, Home to MAMs House of Ice Snoballs

The Heights Life would like to wish MAM's a very Happy 1st Birthday!

My family remembers fondly when you were new and in walking distance from our home, parked in the Fiesta lot on Studewood. The move to 20th didn't make it that much harder to reach you, though. Now we just use bikes instead of feet! On Mother's Day, we had a great day in the Heights with brunch at Zelko Bistro, baby nap time and lunch at home. After lunch I wanted something cold and sweet. In other words, MAMs was calling. We wheeled up and headed out on the bike path. Apparently quite a few moms were in the same frame of mind!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Heights Happenings: May 19 - May 25, 2010

OK. Before I even start here I want to know why no one emailed me or commented that last week's Happenings post was dated May 12- May 25? I just noticed it now. Wow. Well, you guys are just too nice to not call me out on that -or- no one even noticed and I just outed myself. Hmmm...

Anyway, on to what's coming up. I don't really have a lot for this weekend. Last weekend was so full, I think everyone is just recovering!


Saturday, May 22, 9 AM- Noon: Historic Window Repair and Weatherization Workshop

  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation www.preservationnation.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving historic places, dedicates each May as National Preservation Month to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country's cities and states, and enables more Americans to participate in the growing preservation movement. The theme for National Preservation Month 2010 is Old is the New Green.
  • In celebration of National Preservation Month in Houston, the Education Committee of the City of Houston Archeological and Historical Commission is offering a free and informative window repair and weatherization workshop. Historic windows are vital to the character of a historic house, and in many cases they can be repaired and made much more energy efficient. During this 3 hour workshop, learn the skills needed to keep those old windows. Topics include understanding window elements, weatherization and basic repairs.
  • Join this informative session! Remember, preservation is good for communities and the pocketbook and plays a significant role in fostering development that is more environmentally and economically sustainable. Space is limited. To RSVP or for more information, please contact Joy Tober at Houstonpreservation@houstontx.gov or 713-837-7903.


Friday, May 21, 4- 8 PM: Opening of Paintings/Melanie Millar
  • Heights resident Melanie Millar "incorporates historical ornamental motifs and designs, into otherwise "abstract" paintings." Her next showing will be at Installations Antiques through June 13 with the opening event on Friday, May 21.
  • Installations Antiques, 611 W 22nd Street in the Heights


Saturday, June 5, 7:30 AM: 25th Annual Heights Fun Run
  • The 5K Fun Run starts at 7:30 AM, the 5K Walk starts at 7:35 AM, and the After Race Party festivities begin at 8:00 AM. There is also a fun Kids' 1K that starts at 8:30 AM.
  • Registration information AVAILABLE HERE
  • Race packets may be picked up at Luke's Locker from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Thursday and Friday, June 3 and 4. Final packet pickup will be at Marmion Park just before the race.
  • If you should have any questions regarding pricing or registration, you can email funrun@houstonheights.org or leave a message on the Houston Heights Fun Run line at 713-861-4002, extension 4. If you have an interest in volunteering on race day, please contact Andrea Sharp at andrealsharp@att.net

Friday, June 25, 6-9 PM: Reception for artist Barbara Franklet

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Little Taste

This past Saturday night was one of my favorite events in the Heights: Great Taste of the Heights.

Saturday started out rough. It was raining hard for most of the morning. I called the number listed on the website and asked if things were going to proceed as planned. The woman on the other end assured me the event would happen, rain or shine. The big difference for us at that point was walk or drive? Then late afternoon rolled around and the storm broke. The sun peeked out and it generally could not have been more beautiful. Friends met at our house and we decided to walk the 1/2 mile. I'm very glad we did because parking was already a mess when we walked up at 6 PM, 30 minutes before the food was even going to roll out.

Cars lined Cortland from 11th Street as far south as we could see.

We walked in to the sounds of the fabulous Waltrip High Jazz Band. We had 30 minutes until food, so we went for drinks. Ice cold beer, wine or margaritas.

Waltrip High's Jazz Band, decked out in Hawaiian shirts

Note: About 3 minutes after I snapped a couple photos of the band my camera battery died and I looked in the case only to realize my spare was left sitting on my kitchen counter. Please forgive the rest of the images in this post, as they were taken with my cell phone!

Finally, 6:30 and food! We waited a little while to avoid the crush. Man, it was hot under that tent. Still, you could get in and out with a couple plates, eat and go back. A lot of (brilliant) people brought little trays and someone, somewhere was handing out cardboard boxes to people. I had neither but I do have a decade's worth of waitressing skills which allowed me to carry more food than the average trayless diner.

Here are some of the dishes we sampled:

Ribs from Pizzatola's. No, not technically in the Heights but the ribs were good enough that I am willing to claim them. Yum! A couple of vendors handed out coupons at their booths. Pizzatola's offered a discount on a rack of ribs to go. I am certain we'll be taking them up on that!

One of the dishes a lot of people were raving about was this simple crostini from Lorenzo's on Washington Ave. It had a nice horseradish cream and finely shaved roast beef. I haven't heard much good chatter about this place from friends and unfortunately one little crostini (the plate you see below was a double order, getting 2 boxes checked off at the same time) isn't really enough to give me much of a feel for it. However, they did include a 15% off coupon so that might make it worth my while.

Heights favorite Shade was in attendance, although they were pushing their Montrose restaurant, Canopy, more. Frankly, they can do whatever they want when they serve something this good! Pulled pork on a biscuit with some kind of cabbage salad/slaw. Yum! My hubs and I had an extra ticket, so we had 30 total 'punches' between us, allowing us to try a lot but still get multiples of our favorites. We each had 2 of these and I probably could have eaten more!

Shuck Daddy's isn't some place I've ever been interested in, either. However they offered a super tangy ceviche that I thought was out of this world. My husband isn't much of a ceviche fan so I got to enjoy this all to myself. They were also the only booth we visited that had 2 offerings, one being dessert. The bread pudding wasn't a miracle of any sort, but it was moist and had great flavor. My husband does like bread pudding but I still enjoyed that one all by myself.

As I mentioned, it was pretty hot, sauna-like even, under the food tent. I wanted to try as much as possible but I didn't want to wait in line too long. We left the Wee One home but did bring the Big Boy (who had a total blast). This did put us on something of a curfew, so time was of the essence. A couple stands that I wanted to hit but the lines were too long included the Onion Creek/Dry Creek stand, which I believe had a blue cheese burger.

I *think* Onion Creek/Dry Creek were serving up a burger with blue cheese crumbles. I never got close enough to Cedar Creek to even make half a guess!

My husband had his revenge when he got something from benjy's that I am sure was great, but I never even saw it. I forgive him, though, since he walked away from their booth with a gift certificate for lunch for 2. I don't know if they handed this out to everyone, but I look forward to using it soon!
There were just too many people between me and benjy's!

In the end, one of the 1st dishes I tried was also my real favorite of the night. Carter and Cooley had a simple and simply delicious Muffaletta. The execution was perfect, too. The bread was warm and toasted; the cheese was melty; the olive spread was tangy. I forgot to turn in my "Best Of" ballot, but I would have voted for this one for sure. I've never ordered a muffaletta at C&C (I usually go for the tuna salad) but I think I will next time I'm on 19th for lunch!

A packed tray with pizza from Pink's front and center

Besides the food, the other big draw of the night is the Silent Auction. I've been watching a lot of Hoarders episodes on my DVR lately and was not interested in bringing anything not totally necessary in to my home, so I didn't bid. There was some fun stuff though. I almost wish my liquor cabinet needed replenishing because a couple of the booze baskets were really fun!

One of the high price items of the night was a prime parking spot at All Saints for Sunday services. I snapped a photo of the 12:30 service certificate, but heard after that it was the 8:30 AM that was the big draw, bringing in over $600!

I saw many friends I expected to see and even a few I didn't know were going. There were some Heights celebrities like Heights Life's good friend Margarete from The Artful Corner and Charles Kuffner and his wife Tiffany. There were also more families than the last time I went 2 years ago (skipped last year due to having the Wee One just a couple weeks before). It was fun to see them all eating and dancing. Of course, some adults I know left their kids at home and made it a date night. Overall, it was just FUN and a little taste of the great things our neighborhood has to offer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coming Soon...

I have participated in a discussion on HAIF and also polled this blog's Facebook page regarding food in the Heights. All of us know that we have become something of a foodie destination with the openings of several high profile restaurants. However, there are a couple things we residents want to have without the fanfare or without cause for our wonderful food writers to give us sneak peaks. Just simple things, like decent Chinese food. Perhaps that wish will be granted. Meet Heights Asian Cafe:

Now, you may be skeptical but I have to say, I have always had luck with Asian food in some sort of repurposed fast food building. Could there be a better use for this old LJS on Yale @ 22nd? I think not! I will grant you "Asian" food doesn't necessarily mean Chinese but that is what many people have suggested we are missing so I am just trying to be optimistic. Now, I do recognize that many Heights folks are fans of Empire Seafood. I get delivery from there often and it's good enough but it honestly wouldn't be hard for something to come along and be better. Fingers crossed this might be it.

Back in March we were treated to a sneak peak at what will soon be Love Street Coffee Shop on 19th. Well, looks like 19th St is going to continue to pick up some night life (and by that I mean dinner time). Our good friends at Sew Crafty are getting a new neighbor.

According to a small flyer on the windowsill, Serendipi Tea is going to be a cafe with a focus on... you guessed it: Teas! The flyer says it is locally and family owned and operated, which we all love! I have a message in at the number listed and am excited to get more information. I know some people will be concerned about places like this pulling away from old favorites like Cricket's Creamery and Carter & Cooley. Personally, I think that this area can sustain multiple casual establishments. Plus, it's our job as residents to frequent the places we love. I also think it will just bring more general casual traffic to 19th Street and our wonderful local retailers can use that. With more choices, it becomes more of a destination for people outside of the neighborhood as well. Often Hubby and I will decide where we want to have lunch/dinner with "area of town" as our only criteria.

ETA: A friend posted on the FB page that Seredipi Tea will be open until 4 pm and then reserved in the evenings for events. She questioned if they can sustain with that business model but nothing other than Shade is open on that strip now, so I guess it can work.

I also want to take this moment to remind you guys of a great bubble tea and smoothie place on 20th. Pila Tea House is locally owned and operated with a great, great front patio under some gorgeous trees. Business has been tough for them due to lack of foot traffic in their immediate area but they are great people worth stopping in to say "hello" to grab a beverage.

There has been a lot of talk about Lance Feagan and Shepherd Ross's pending project at Studewood and 11th. Originally, it was going to be called Burgerzilla and be high end burgers and comfort food. However, rumor mill has it that the concept has changed. Whatever it's to become, I hope they get working on it. Shepherd told me at one point that BRC was their priority and that Burgerzilla would get underway in earnest once BRC was up and running. Well, BRC just opened- to good reviews- and I hope this means some action on 11th St. Whatever they will decide will be great. They know food; they know wine; they know the neighborhood.

EDIT: A bit of an update, courtesy of Eating Our Words blogger Katharine Schilcutt at The Houston Press this afternoon:

If you like Glass Wall and the newly-opened BRC Gastropub, we have good news from My Table Magazine. Partners Lance Fegan and Shepard Ross are working on opening yet another restaurant. Details are scarce right now, but My Table reports:

Be on the lookout for Liberty Kitchen opening this summer in The Heights. Same bunch of guys - including Lance Fegen, Carl Eaves and Lee Ellis - but a different concept.

If you have been really, really, really busy or possibly living under a rock, you may not be aware that Jenni's Noodle House is opening their 3rd Houston location on 20th Street this summer. Jenni posted on their FB page today that permits are in hand and they're looking at 8 weeks until opening. Yay! Last I heard, they plan on casual counter service and lots of kid friendly amenities. I know not everyone likes to hear that "kid friendly" part but the reality is this: if you are a casual restaurant in the Heights and you are not kid friendly, you might as well put a sign out front that says "We will turn away 1000 customers at random each month." After all, we all know Heights Kids Group (or The Heights Mommy Mafia, as we are sometimes referred to) has over 700 families and I can tell you from message board discussions, all of them go out to eat with their kids.

Also sure to please adults and children alike will be the summer opening of Jus' Mac, an all macaroni and cheese establishment. They have been pretty secretive about what the menu will be other than many, many types of mac'n'cheese. I'm going to be honest here, too-> I am not 100% sure where the restaurant is going to be. The old Yale St Pharmacy is what I heard but I guess I am just missing something as I drove up and down Yale 3 times yesterday looking for it. Anyone?

Besides some supplement place opening next to Lola, this is all I have on deck for now. If you know something coming soon to the Heights, do tell!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heights Happenings: May 12- May 25, 2010

This weekend St. Andrew's in the Heights will host two great events. For additional information, you can visit St Andrews' Website. 1819 Heights Blvd

Friday, May 14, 69- PM: Gary J. Hernandez School of Art Exhibit

  • The students of the Gary J. Hernandez School of Fine Art will display their works in the Parish Hall Gallery at St. Andrew's.
  • Wine and snacks will be served at this casual event and, as always, guests can feel free to stay the evening or simply drop by for a quick look.
  • All are welcome! A preview of the works to be shown is available at www.garyschool.itgo.com/index.html

Saturday, May 15, 10 AM- 5 PM: St. Andrews Spring Bazaar
  • More than 50 artists, crafters, and specialty vendors will showcase and sell their wares.
  • The event will run rain or shine, and will offer wonderful shopping, food, music & fun! Items on hand will include handcrafted jewelry, accessories and toys for babies and children, unique art and home decor, handmade clothing, purses and accessories, old-fashioned quilts, yard art, photgraphy, gourmet foods, health and beauty products, and much, much more! Music from groups including the Reagan High School Jazz Band will add to the festivities.
  • Admission is free


Friday, May 21, 4- 8 PM: Opening of Paintings/Melanie Millar
  • Heights resident Melanie Millar "incorporates historical ornamental motifs and designs, into otherwise "abstract" paintings." Her next showing will be at Installations Antiques through June 13 with the opening event on Friday, May 21.
  • Installations Antiques, 611 W 22nd Street in the Heights


Saturday, May 15, 2- 8 PM: Houston Art & Culture Art Walk and Scavenger Hunt
  • Betz Gallery will feature "FACES" by artist LORI BETZ
  • Live Music All Day presented by The First Saturday Arts Market Music Stage- Robin Kirby & Myrna Sanders Performing!
  • Beer tasting table hosted by St. Arnolds' Brewery. Margaritas and Tequila tastings by El Gran Jubileo
  • Laurenzo's Restaurant will be offering a taste of the wonderful food from their new restaurant

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On The Spot

I try really hard to make this blog something all kinds of people will like to read. I want it to be informative for people with varying interests. I want to avoid alienating people by talking a lot about my personal politics, religion or other controversial subjects (although sometimes my opinions leak out on Twitter, where I was recently unfollowed and removed from a list after commenting on something in the political arena. C'est la vie!). This week, however, I am going to get personal. Way more personal than politics or even religion. This week, I am going to tell you about my waxing.

One of my closest friends, Sarah, used to live on 12th Street. We used to walk with the kids in the morning- I would make my way down 12th and pick her up. We would proceed down to Heights and walk the path or sometimes just meander up and down the streets seeing what was being torn down, renovated, built; commenting on color choices and large yards with no pools (foolishness, I tell you!)... There is a cute, beige bungalow near the corner of 12th and Heights that was on the market for a while and we watched and waited for someone to move in. Then one day we saw a sign for business hours go up in the window. It was going to be commercial but what? It was a few weeks until a sign for The Wax Spot was hanging from the porch.

Sarah has been living in Canada for over a year so it must be a good 3 years since the Wax Spot was opened by Angelica Cardosa, who has been an aesthetician specializing in waxing for over 6 years. As usual, I was excited to have another service close to home. For many years I have been driving to the Village for waxing but the drive was getting tiresome and it became harder to rationalize the trip with a limited window of time while someone else had my kids. You would think I would have gone to The Wax Spot right away, but I am a creature of habit in some regards and rather than change where I was going, I just stopped going as regularly and forced my husband to accept my legs in their rather Chewbacca like state.

Then a couple weeks ago, a friend from out in the 'burbs emailed to ask me if I knew anything about the place since I lived so close by. I was almost a little embarrassed to tell her I hadn't been there but I had heard good things about Angelica from when she worked in River Oaks. I decided with my vacation pending that I would make an appointment.

Even though they don't technically open until 10, Angelica was willing to let me make a 9 am appointment. This was definitely getting the experience off on the right foot, I thought. When I got to the little bungalow, it was very much what I hoped: a house whose original floorplan was being used to accommodate a business. It hadn't been gutted to be a commercial property. Angelica just moved in as it was. The front has a small reception desk and some casual seating, warm colors and a lot of sunlight.

Angelica's previous place of business was a typical commercial space. She was working for another woman who was "irresponsible" and one day just stopped taking clients in their shared space. Angelica was left there in this sterile office space and as soon as she could, she decided the time was right to strike out on her own and find somewhere that represented what she wanted her business to be. She wanted a house for the character and also for the abundance of natural light that helps with the work she does.

The front room is bright and welcoming with a very homey feel

When I arrived, Angelica was working the front desk. She told me that her sister, Christie, would actually be doing my waxing but she was running late so Angelica would get me started. She did the "light" work- eyebrows and lip. It was quick and painless. I was pleased with the fact that she was unhappy with the shape of my eyebrows. I am too, after so many years of cheap wax job at nail salons. She showed me where there were a couple hairs she was going to leave and what I should let grow in for optimal shape for my face. After we were done with those areas, I went back out front to wait.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. Christie was over an hour late to my appointment. About 30 minutes in, I started to get annoyed but I was leaving for vacation in 2 days and the leg/bikini situation had to be dealt with. It was certainly too late to get an appointment anywhere else I would feel comfortable taking my pants off. So, I continued to wait. Angelica's own appointment showed and I was left in the front to my own devices.

Christie finally showed and was very apologetic but I was annoyed and ready to get down to business. We went in to a second room, where I was given a paper cover and allowed some privacy to disrobe. I asked her "Undies on or off" and she told me it was my choice. I wasn't going Full Monty (told you this was getting personal) but I also hate sticky wax undies, so I got naked from the waist down and covered with the paper. There was a small tv at the foot of the bed and Dirty Jobs was looping on a DVD player. I think this is sheer genius- giving you something to take your mind off the torture you are enduring in the name of beauty. Christie came in and asked if I had ever had a bikini wax and what I wanted/expected. This was a courtesy I haven't experienced before in my many years of bikini waxing and I imagine it can make a difference if you are new to the game.

My friend, we'll call her C, from the burbs who had instigated this visit was a 1st timer when we she went to see Anglelica. I was curious about her experience at The Was Spot as a bikini wax virgin. She was happy to share her experience with me. One thing C said was that the 1st thing that impressed her was "what a cute little place [it was] and so easy to find." The easy location was important since C rarely comes in to town and is "forever getting lost even with GPS." She said she was greeted by Angelica when she walked in and was asked to fill out some requisite paper work "not unlike going to the doctor's office." C says she asked Angelica "half joking half not, that if I cried, would I be the first?" She told her there has been a tear or two "but never full on crying." The fact that no one had been driven to hysterical tears helped C relax a little and she was ready to give it a go.

Bright, clean rooms are warm and comfortable. Each waxing room has a small tv with DVDs that serve as needed distractions for clients.

Angelica walked C into a bright room "with a chair similar to what you would find in a dentist's office only cover in velvet and paper protector." C had a great experience, saying "I was a little nervous at first, but [Angelica] put me right at ease with her friendly personality. She let me know when to breathe in and when to exhale to help minimize the pain. The whole thing took about 30 minutes (Brazilian Wax).My husband loved it and I would recommend her to everyone. She gave me a 15% discount because it was my first time and she also told me if I found any stray hairs in the next 10 days she would clean it up for free and would take less than 10 minutes."

I was so glad to hear that C had a positive experience. I have been to a couple spas/salons that would make a 1st timer think bikini wax is only for suckers. Once Sister and I got started, I was happily having a similarly good experience. They use a great parafin wax for the bikini, which is so much less painful than traditional wax with muslin strips. They do use the muslin for legs, but it doesn't seem to matter as much there. Anyway, she was quick and thorough and I was out the door 30 minutes after we started, no longer a Wookie. She also did my underarms. I hadn't let the hair grow out the recommended time period so we went in knowing it might not take, but Sister was determined and got all the hair, plucking a few strays with tweezers so that I wouldn't have to worry about it while I was away.

When I went to pay, Angelica and Christie both apologized again for the delay. I was given the customary 15% discount for being a new customer, plus a couple of comped services for the inconvenience. I thought this was great customer service and could definitely tell that Angelica cares very much about the reputation of her business.

As I was checking out, I mentioned seeing a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. She said the landlord really wants to sell the property. She is unsure if she'll be able to stay since it is listed as a residential property. Her landlord is working with her on the lease until she finds a new location. She believes she'll end up in the right place and is certain it will be in the Heights. She wasn't familiar with this neighborhood but several of her long term clients told her to look up here when she getting ready to leave the commercial property in River Oaks. She says the more she drove around and explored the Heights, the more she was certain this is where she wanted to set up shop. Angelica hopes to expand the business and she feels this is a great neighborhood for that. She has been really welcomed by residents, word of mouth helping drive the business, and is even more certain that this is where she wants to stay.

Angelica also does make-up applications and lessons at no charge, hoping clients will just make a minimal purchase.

In the end, I had a great experience and I hope the sisters can find someplace that suits them in the Heights. I will love to have somewhere close and convenient that also does a good job. I don't hold the tardiness against them. It was just one visit and my friend's positive experience helps me believe that was a one off. I hope to get to see them again since summer is in full swing, at the bungalow on 12th or on whatever spot they land.

Angelica and Christie