Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

If you're taking kids Trick or Treating tonight, here are some great safety tips from the Children's Museum of Houston


  • Never trick-o-treat alone. Go with at least two friends. Young children should go with an adult. 
  • Wear something that will reflect light. Carry a flashlight or glow stick so that cars can see you at all times.
  • Plan your route in advance, and make sure your family knows it.
  • Visit only houses where the lights are on or have Halloween decorations.
  • Accept treats only at the door; NEVER go inside a stranger’s house.
  • Be very cautious of strangers and pets you do not know.
  • Always have your parents check your candy before you eat it.Halloween-character.jpg
  • Take a cell phone with you, if possible.

If you're not Trick or Treating yourself or with kids, remember:

  • There will be a lot of kids in the neighborhood. Please drive slowly and carefully!
  • Lights on means you're handing out candy. 
  • Lights off means you're not.
  • If you are handing out candy, please secure your pets. Even if your pet is kid friendly, not all kids can/want to be around animals. Also, costumes and noise can scare a normally friendly pet.

This is a great night and a lot of fun in The Heights! Kids come from all over to Trick or Treat here because it's a safe, family friendly neighborhood. Let's put our best foot forward!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Very "Eh" Outing to Studemont Kroger

I am often talking people away from the ledge when it comes to expectations regarding a new restaurant. I have to explain that a patron must significantly lower their standards in at least the first month. It's a general rule of the service industry. For some reason, no matter how much you train and prep, things will be rocky. You can hire a great staff and have a clear vision, but it still takes time to get it all running in a way that will satisfy the expectations of even the average customer, never mind the picky one. Having been part of a restaurant opening staff, I know the challenges first hand. I was an excellent waitress with lots of experience. I studied my menu and my wine list. I had great people skills. Until opening night... You would have thought I just learned to walk, had a 5 word vocabulary and had never eaten in a restaurant, never mind worked in them for a decade!

Things are not going to go perfectly. This is the very reason reastaurants have soft openings and it is also why I will always always defend the staff until they reach "should have known better" territory. 

I haven't found that this rule applies to many other industries. There is just something about restaurants and what we expect from them. However, after a trip to the new Studewood Kroger, I was left wondering if an establishment like a supermarket deserves the same courtesy? 

Certainly the staff at a store opening is new, although some of the better employees from other locations are often pulled to help get through the opening rush. I wouldn't expect many mistakes in terms of general operations, though, as Kroger has over 2400 stores, including 200 in Texas, according to their Kroger 2011 Fact Book. I would imagine they have it down by now. 

I would be wrong. Here is a little look at what I found inside the new store.

Let's be nice and start with the plusses.

1. It's new. That means everything is clean and sparky and in working order. Who doesn't like that?

2. Many of the aisles are nice and wide. Notice I didn't say "all." I am not going to judge that the aisles are different sizes. Maybe everyone isn't as in to symetry as I am? Still, the wide aisles in frozen food were nice and comfortable even as several shoppers stopped their carts and opened the freezer doors. Why canned veggies don't get as much of a berth, I don't know.

Some aisles are wide enough for 4 carts to fit down comfortably, while others force 2 people to have to jockey to pass.

3. They have price scanners. While I don't use these often, I do see them used and think they are a nice       convenience factor for people.

4. They have lots of little signs that really break down the aisles to even smaller categories. For example, in frozen foods they have frozen meals broken down by type, so there is even a sign for "lite meals" rather than just regular frozen dinners. For a 1st time shopper, these little designations did help.

But this is where the positives stop and the topic of organization gets me to the cons. 

1. This store is not well organized. While I realize it was my first time in, it should not have taken me 15 minutes to find Pace Picante Sauce, aka salsa. I looked at the large, marquee style aisle signs and saw "Salsa and dips." Great. However, that aisle was all full of chips. It did have "salsa and dips" but only the Tostitos brand that goes with the chips. I walked the whole aisle to be sure I wasn't missing something, and finally stopped to ask a woman stocking shelves if she knew where I could find salsa. She said there was some on that aisle but I said I was looking for Pace or other brands of [real] salsa. She suggested I check in "condiments." This made sense because that is where salsa is at the 11th St store. I walked up and down the condiment asile. I looked very carefully at all the shelves. I asked a fellow shopper just to make sure I wasn't missing something that was right in front of me. We saw barbecue sauces and salad dressings and hot sauce and ketchup and marinades. No salsa.

A chain with 200+ stores in Texas should know this is probably not what people are searching for when they want "salsa."

Searching the "condiments" aisle won't yield anything spicy for your tortilla chips, either.

I finally found the salsa, after asking another employee who also didn't know where it was, in the "Latin American" foods aisle. Really? This makes sense at Kroger Corporate? This section had a small sub-section sign reading "salsa & dips" but wasn't under the marquee of "salsa & dips" like the Tostitos brand.

No, this isn't the end of the world. This is just one thing I was looking for, but I could bet that there have been other people looking for things other than salsa that had this same experience. It's grocery shopping. It shouldn't be hard but this was brutally annoying.
Salsa: now found with Latin American, Asian and Kosher foods.

2. The way things are shelved doesn't seem to make any sense. The cooler along the wall in the adult beverage section mysteriously morphs in to kefir and then in to the organic milk and cheese. But not the organic yogurt. You have to turn the corner for that.

All the non-orange juice "Simply" products- lemonade, limeade, pink something- are together. These are wedged between the other real orange juices on the left and and the Sunny Delight and mixed stuff on the right. "Huh?" I say to myself. "Would they really not carry the Simply Orange?" They do, but it's not with the orange juices and the other "Simply" products. It's all the way to the left, after a wall in the cooler. Again, not life shattering or even really news worthy outside of the fact that I am writing about what a disorganized mess this supermarket seemed to be, but it's counter-intuitive and makes a mundane task more frustrating than it should be.

There it is. All the way to left. Not between the orange juice and the other "Simply X" products.

3. But here is the real issue: quality. This is the 2nd biggest complaint I hear about the Kroger on 11th after the rotten customer service. There are always issues with the food. I should have known when I hit the produce department that I wasn't going to be happy with this store. I wanted a bag of butter lettuce. That's all. 

Every single bag I picked up looked like this: Brown. It was gross. And it wasn't just the butter lettuce. Check out 2 different romaines below. Not much else you can say about that.

Generally, it was just a big disappointment. This store seemed to be lacking the variety of the 11th St store in some sections like canned veggies. It wasn't very busy and the employees didn't seem very enthusiastic. There were no samples. The one sample station (for some yogurt drink) had no product and no one manning it.

I worked as a cashier at a Stop & Shop when I was in college and I was well trained on how to pack groceries. Because this has made me particular about how they are packed, I try to put some effort in to make it easy. When I started unloading to check out, I put my reusable bags and an insulate cooler bag on the belt first. I put everything on the belt in an order that should make it be easy to pack (Meat together, fruit together, frozen together, boxes/dry goods together). As I was unloading my cart on to the belt, the bagger put all my frozen stuff in a regular (reusable) bag and then held up my insulated bag and asked "What do you want me to put in here?" Despite putting everything frozen or cold on the belt together, I ended up with one stray frozen item thawing between a box of cereal and Goldfish crackers. The head of organic red leaf lettuce that I paid too much for, because the bagged butter lettuce was so bad, was found squished under a bag of Gala apples. Just like 11th Street, the cashier and the bagger gossiped with each other while I stood there. The cashier told me I saved $7 and some change and then wadded my receipt up and handed it to me. The End.


If you had a better or similar experience, let me know.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heights Happenings: October 27- October 31, 2012

Sorry I missed last week. I had a sick kiddo at home and we spent a lot of time snuggling on the couch and reading books. It was so nice to slow down, but I wish I didn't have to have a sick baby on my hands to make it happen.

Sunday, October 28, 5 pm: Fried chicken madness at Revival Market
  • The neighborhood’s favorite butchery will have tons of seating and the ability to crank out a lot of dinners in a short amount of time. 
  • Jim Beam is also providing some bourbon for delicious complimentary cocktails. 
  • No tickets needed. This chicken is first come, first served till they run out. 
  • $24.95 per plate. 
  • Cocktail on the house, BYOB welcome.
    Dinner Menu
  • ~ Fried Chicken
    ~ Collard Greens
    ~ Jalapeño Corn Bread
    ~ Apple Cobbler with Ice Cream
Saturday, October 27, 6 pm: Heights Progressive Dinner

Monday, October 29, 3:30 pm- 4:30 pm: Arts on Wheels for toddlers at Proctor Park 
  • Arts on Wheels focuses on art projects that promote a toddler's (ages 18 months- 3+) physical and mental development as they explore the world of art.
  • This will be a 5 week course starting this Monday from 3:30-4:30 in the facilities building at Proctor Park
  • 803 West Temple Street
  • To sign up for class (or learn more about the program) please contact Arts on Wheels founder Jamie Holcomb at:
  • You can also visit her Facebook page 

Wednesday, October 31: Halloween
  • Don't forget that Wednesday is Halloween. Keep your porch light on if you're going to hand out candy. Shut it off and keep the house dark if you're not. 
  • Drive carefully. Kids will be everywhere!


Saturday, November 3, 10am -4pm: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Autumn Bazaar 
  • The Bazaar will feature more than 50 area artisans, crafters, and specialty vendors. 
  • Admission to this day of fabulous shopping, food and fun is free.
  • This event is a great place to start your holiday shopping. Items available for purchase will include home décor, jewelry, gourmet foods, purses, handmade quilts, art and photography, toys, pottery, candles, yard art, baby items, home baked goodies, and much, much more!
  • Rain or shine. 
  • For more information, visit
  • 1819 Heights Boulevard

The other news is all about shopping. Must be getting close to the holidays!

Holiday Shopping Card starts today! 
  • It is on sale right now at Buchanan's, and can be used for a 10-day period beginning Oct. 25, ending Nov. 4. THe card gets you 20% off purchases at selected retailers throughout Houston.  Sales of the card benefit the American Cancer Society.  Visit Buchanan’s Bungalow for more information. 
  • Other Heights businesses include Chippendale’s Antiques, CODA, Eclectic Home, Langford Market, OoLaLa, Wind Water Gallery and more

  • This new shop carries retro and vintage clothing for men and women who probably also love their cars, rods, trucks and bobbers!  
  • Everything from t-shirts to jeans and Dickies and more for guys. For ladies, they have baby t's, blouses, skirts, bags and much more.  
  • They are also one of the very few retailers who carry Woverine shoes.  
  • 244 W 19th

Sale at Urban Western!
If Rockabilly isn’t your thing, maybe you swing more country. Urban Western Houston carries country style faves like Miss Me, 7 Diamonds, Corral, Roar and more.  
Be sure to stop in and check out the clearance bargains with items 40-60% OFF original price through 10/31/2012.
550-A Heights Blvd.


Thursday, October 25, 5:30 pm: Evening with Hermann Park Architect Peter Bohlin
  • In celebration of Hermann Park's Centennial in 2014, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and the Hermann Park Conservancy have worked together to enhance the park, with more projects to come. The Houston Garden Center is set to be transformed into the Centennial Gardens, a lushly planted landscape destined to become a favorite spot for Houstonians.
  • Award-winning architect Peter Bohlin has been selected to design the entry pavilion for the Centennial Gardens. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Hermann Park Conservancy will co-sponsor a lecture and discussion with Mr. Bohlin, where he will talk about his design philosophy and the plans for Hermann Park. The discussion will be moderated by Sarah M. Whiting, Dean of the Rice School of Architecture.
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet Street
  • 5:30 p.m. Reception in the lobby of the Caroline Wiess Law Building
  • 6:30 p.m. Lecture and Discussion in the Brown Auditorium Theater   
  • Free printed tickets are required and are available at ("View Full Calendar") or by calling 713.639.7771

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Heights Happenings: October 10- October 17, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 5:30 pm- 7:30 pm: TXDot I45 Project Scoping Meeting
  • If you missed Tuesday’s meeting, this is a 2nd opportunity to have your voice heard regarding this project. This very important project will have an impact on the Heights. It’s up to area residents to decide if that impact will be positive or negative!
  • Hosted at Aldine 9th Grade School, 10650 North Freeway, the meeting follows an “open house format” where you can come and go at your convenience. A short information video will repeat throughout the evening.
  • This is a very important meeting – TxDOT will be presenting their preliminary alternatives for I-45 that should include the consensus of the community (see below).  It is important that residents let TxDOT know if we agree with their proposals. If we do not stay involved, TxDOT will do what they want to do instead of the community wants them to do.  You will have until Friday, October 26 to submit your comments on this meeting.  You are allowed as many comments as you wish. 
  • TxDOT reported all 173 comments from the November 2011 meetings on their website ( However, TxDOT did not organize or summarize the comments. Luckily our neighbors with The I-45 Coalition reviewed all comments from all sources – website, email, comments written at the Scoping meeting and mailed comments.  The results are listed below – please be sure that the TxDOT ‘solutions’ presented at the meeting reflect these results! 
    •  Most people did not directly comment whether they were in favor or opposed the project.
    • Only 23% of the comments specifically mentioned that – of those, 95% opposed the project.
    • 69% - Wants no increase in existing right-of-way
    • 67% - Wants the project to have no negative effect on neighborhood quality of life
    • 51% - Support a tunnel
    • 51% - Wants TxDOT to explore alternative means of transportation
    • 51% - Wants rail
    • 45% - Wants Hardy extended into downtown and/or have TxDOT purchase Hardy & remove all tolls
    • 44% - Wants no negative effects regarding flooding
    • 33% - Do not want the freeway double-decked
    • 6% - Want the freeway double-decked
    • 3% - Want to remove frontage roads, exits and entrances as much as possible
  • 1% - Do not want any toll lanes on I-45
Saturday, October 13, 1pm- 3 pm: Community Cloth: Refugee Women Speak & Loom at One Green Street
  • The Community Cloth is a “microenterprise initiative empowering refugee women in Houston.” Members of the organization create and sell handmade, indigenous arts and crafts such as woven bags, knitted scarves, embroidered linens, baby clothing, and more. Through producing and selling their own wares, the women have an opportunity to both express their culture and learn skills valuable for transitioning to life in the US, plus obtain much-needed supplemental income. All profits from sales go directly to the artisans.
  • Artisans from Community Cloth with be at One Green Street to tell their stories, show their craft, and sell their products- all on the way to a more positive life in their adopted home town, Houston!
  • 3423 White Oak
  • “It doesn’t matter if you’re a young family on the way up, or a senior couple looking to downsize and simplify life, bungalow living in Norhill has something for everyone. The arts and crafts architectural style predominant in Norhill has undergone a rebirth of popularity, not only in Houston, but in historic communities from coast to coast.”
  • Many of the homes in my wonderful neighborhood have been lovingly upgraded with larger kitchens, luxurious bathrooms and extra closet space. Most importantly, many offer the trademark front porches so vital to the sense of community in The Heights.
  • The Norhill subdivision has green parks and esplanades and has been preserved with  more than 90 years of deed restrictions. The end result is a well preserved collection of bungalows.
  • The Norhill Neighborhood Association invites you to visit six outstanding examples of bungalow living at its finest.
Sunday, October 14, 8 am- 5 pm: Friends of Woodland Park “Team Up to Clean Up”
  • Bridgestone Tire’s “One Team, One Planet” spent tire program and Friends of Woodland Park are sponsoring an all day clean-up event at Woodland Park located, 212 Parkview.  The Bridgestone "One Team, One Planet" program is designed to eventually assure that for every tire Bridgestone Americas sells in the United States, one spent tire (a tire that has been removed from use) will be used for a valuable purpose.  For more information go to
  • Volunteers are asked to pre-register on-line and sign up for the morning shift (8 a.m. to noon), afternoon shift (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) or both!  On-site registration for the morning shift will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and registration for the afternoon shift will be from noon to 1 p.m. 
  • The deadline for on-line pre-registration is noon on Saturday, October 13th. Please make sure to register before that time.
  • Bridgestone is providing lunch, water, and refreshments for all pre-registered volunteers throughout the day.  Goodie bags with T-shirts, bandanas and other gifts will be given to those who "team up to clean up".  Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to enter the water.   Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and will not be allowed to enter the water.  Other specific safety information will be provided at the park before you begin your shift.  All equipment will be provided. 
Sunday, October 14, Noon- 6 pm: Beyond Her warehouse sale
  • The sale isn’t in the Heights but the artist is a Heights resident who happens to make amazing textiles. You don’t want to miss this sale on discontinued and seasonal items -- men's and women's apparel,
  • kitchen towels, napkins, table runners, totes, aprons, and much more. Support your Heights artists and get a jump on that Holiday shopping!
  • 8181 W. Hardy Road,  Houston 77022 Click here for map


Thursday, October 25, 6 pm: “'Merica: Cheese of the Union, featuring cheeses of Cellars at Jasper Hill” Cheese Tasting
  • To celebrate the “season of patriotism,” aka election season, the ladies at the Houston Dairymaids are focusing on what brings all citizens together, regardless of political leanings: cheese! Set politics aside and unite around our favorite dairy treat. 
  • We will be serving six delightful cheeses from a range of states across our great country along with samples of tasty beverages. Learn about the history of cheese in America, and vote for your favorite to become President of the United Cheeses of America. 
  • Special guest Zoe Brickley, of Cellars at Jasper Hill, will be present to discuss her cheeses and answer any questions. Dairymaids is thrilled to snag her away from her busy schedule and solidify the cheese alliance between Texas and Vermont!
  • Plan to arrive anytime after 6pm, and the tasting will begin at 6:30. 
  • Click this link to RSVP $43/ticket
Friday, October 26, 6:30 pm- 9 pm: 14 Pews 2nd Birthday Bash for Members
  • Not a member of the Heights micro-cinema and live music venue yet? Here is an additional reason to join: 
  • Their 2nd birthday is being celebrated at a fabulous party hosted by Bill Baldwin and Joe Gonzalez in their amazing home located at 205 Bayland.  The MEMBERS ONLY party is sponsored by Saint Arnold, who has generously donated lots of their delicious local brew. Jenni's Noodle House is the food sponsor and is providing all kinds of awesome appetizers! There will also be dessert, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.  There will be a silent auction and classical guitarists.   
  • 14 Pews is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the diverse cultural needs of our community by providing a forum to experience, discuss and celebrate film, art & music, and to strengthen our community through education and fostering cross-cultural experiences. 
  • Get more details and pay for your membership at this link
Saturday, October 27, 11 am- 3 pm: Helms Elementary Fall Festival
  • The Helms PTA promises this year’s annual Fall Festival will be a Spooktacular time with a Haunted House, Mini-Golf Course, Moonwalks, Face Painting, Cupcake Walk, Sack Races, Dunking Booth, DJ, plus much more.  There will be games & activities for everyone.
  • All funds raised will go towards supporting the efforts of the Helms PTA to provide enrichment activities for the students both in and out of the classrooms, as well as teacher grants, Writers in the School, Helms Wetlands Biodiversity Ecosystem, and Class Field Trips.  
  • This year, Helms PTA is focusing on raising funds to begin a much needed renovation of our Spark Park playground and the surrounding school grounds.
  • Get your child a wristband early for $20 (presale starts October 15th) or for $25 at the gate on the day of the festival.  A festival wristband allows the child to participate in all games and activities at the festival (excludes food, drinks, and photos).   
  • Parents accompanying their children enter free.  Food, drinks, and photos can be purchased separately at the festival.
  • Festival 11am – 3pm; Dance-A-Thon 10am -11am
  • Helms Spark Park, 22nd & Lawrence
  • For more information on purchasing a festival wristband or to donate to the Fall Festival, please contact James Inman at or 281-772-8862.

As you may already know, we are losing 2 wonderful shops this month. 

Write Now! gifts and stationary on White Oak will be gone by the end of the month. This weekend the shop will have 70% off remaining inventory. It is heartbreaking to see a local business close, especially one that was so enthusiastic about the community. I’ll really miss this little shop where I purchased untold birthday gifts, fun cards, and assorted fun items over the last two years. Wishing many good things to Shanna as she returns to teaching. While I am sad to lose her lovely store, a new class of kids will get a teacher who really cares about teaching and their futures.

Also shutting their doors is Heights Beatniks on 11th. This funky shop had a great collection of beautiful Argentinian tango shoes, along with a small but well thought out selection of vintage clothing and accessories. I wish Maria and Diana a lot of luck on their new adventures. I’m sure this won’t be last we hear of them!

In better news, Sparrow & The Nest is now open on Studewood, across from perennial favorite Hello, Lucky. The gray duplex with yellow spots houses at least 15 contributing artists whose talents include jewelry, greeting cards, soaps, origami, textiles, candles, and original works of art. 
Head to the shop and welcome them to the neighborhood!
1020 Studewood, 713-869-6378
Photos courtesy of Sparrow & The Nest

Save the Date for Holiday on 19th
Friday Night's Festivities Include:
  • Live Music from Bossa II, Chaz Nadege, DJ Black Slacks, and Christmas Crooners in the "Laid Back Lounge" in front of Jubilee
  • Red Refreshments, In- Store Sales, Life Size Puppets on the street and Holiday Shopping

Red Revelry continues on Saturday with : 
  • Holiday Shopping 10-8
  • Pictures with Santa
  • Musical performances from HITS Theatre and local school choirs
  • Gingerbread Man decorating at Shade and more


Thursday, October 11, 6 pm- 9 pm: Shopping on the Plaza
  • Join the Plaza Moms (Shepherd Park Plaza neighborhood) for a fun pre-holiday shopping event in the Heights’ backyard
  • Hosted by Plaza Moms Society, this event hosts over 30 local vendors to help get a head start on holiday shopping. Door prizes, unique gifts, jewelry, photography, toys and gifts for kids, home decor, specialty paper & stationery, and more!!
  • Bring your neighbors, friends, and family to support this annual event.
  • Questions? Email
  • 4803 Brinkman St, Houston, TX 77018
Saturday, October 13, 9 am- 1 pm: Rain Barrel/Compost Bin One Day Sale
  • If you’ve been wanting a rain barrel (remember how bad you wanted one for last summer’s drought? Yeah.) come getcha one for $55 (a $120 value) and compost machines for $45 (a $100 value) on a first come, first served basis at the Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington AvenueParking is free.
  • Rain barrels are used to collect and contain groundwater from rooftops, which can be used for watering gardens and lawns. Rainwater conserves water, improves air quality and saves money. 
  • Compost bins are used to store and assist the decomposition of various materials to be used to fertilize garden soil. Composting enriches soil, deters erosion and contaminated soil, prevents pollution and saves money.
  • For more information on the rain barrels and compost bins visit and
  • For additional information contact Katelyn Orenchuk at or 832.393.1066. To learn more about Green Houston, visit

Monday, October 8, 2012

Help your neighbors: No variance for Emes Place development

The folks at Responsible Urban Development for Houston have written a sample letter to make it easy for you. It takes less than 2 minutes and can make a difference for your neighbors who live on the small street that will access this development. Must be sent tonight to make an impact tomorrow.

Dear Mayor Parker:

I am writing to express opposition to the Variance Requests submitted by Gene Carroll and Associates, L.P. for the 84-unit Emes Place condominium development sited alongside White Oak bayou and the existing Heights Hike and Bike Trail.
This development proposes to have a single “private street”, specifically a bridge, accessing the condominiums. The request for “private” designation allows the developer to forgo a safe sidewalk on this vehicular bridge. How will the mobility impaired, children and mothers with strollers access this development? Designating something “private” in order to skirt providing safe pedestrian access puts the public at risk. 

In addition, this bridge over a drainage ditch creates a single access point into the development. The White Oak bayou is flood prone. The nearby Yale Street bridge floods over its deck. What will happen if this bridge floods? How will emergency vehicles access the development? How will residents? If this becomes a known hazard, will residential parking spill over into the neighborhood?

This parcel of land has largely remained undeveloped because of the site limitations and existing conditions. The City of Houston should not approve variances that allow developers to skirt existing regulations that provide public safety protections and reduce negative impacts.

Please deny the Variance Requests for the Emes Place condominium.