Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer Storytime Fun in Houston

My commissioned Mini Mural on Heights Blvd celebrates my love for reading. Artist: Shelbi Nicole

Summer reading programs are underway in Houston. From the city's amazing public libraries to independent bookshops, there are so many opportunities for kids to enjoy reading - a great summer pastime for adults too.

Here's a sampling of free reading events for the young bookworms in your life!

  • Brazos Bookstore offers a Saturday Storytime session at 10:30 am for ages 2-9, plus crafts and snacks. Introduce the young ones to a literary classic, Moby Dick, when Brazos Bookstore hosts a party for kids with ocean-themed games, trivia, and food on Saturday, July 7th at 2 pm. Teen writers share their work with a public reading on Friday, August 10th at 7 pm. 
  • Blue Willow Bookshop treats toddlers and preschoolers to storytime every Thursday at 10 am. This cozy store in the Memorial area is also throwing a Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Party on Saturday, June 30th at 3 pm. Come prepared to receive your house assignment from the Sorting Hat before you enter the store, plus your very own Harry Potter name and name tag. Come dressed to impress - there's a costume parade at 3:45 pm!
  • Rienzi, maintained by the Museum of Fine Arts, is a River Oaks mansion dedicated to decorative arts and lovely gardens. A Storytime Tour of the picturesque grounds is available on Wednesdays at 10 am for ages 3 and up. (Through July 25th) 
  • The Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire hosts a Nature Storytime every Wednesday at 4 pm for ages 3-5. After enjoying books on nature, the group takes part in crafts and nature walks. 
  • Check your local Houston Public Library for reading activities ranging from storytime hours and teen book clubs along with puppet performances and wildlife encounters. 
  • Downtown's urban park, Discovery Green, has a Summer Reading series on Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30 am. In addition, the park hosts a Young Writers Workshop on Saturdays from 10:30-11:30 am. The class is limited to the first 25 students. 

In the words of Dr Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Have fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Home Maintenance Checklist

Cleaning the gutters and weeding the garden are tasks that come with regular, visible reminders. But how do you keep up with other necessary maintenance that might not be as noticeable? 

Here are some essential home maintenance tasks that are often overlooked:

Appliance upkeep: If you want your fridge, dryer and other appliances to last you for the long haul with fewer repair calls, they need regular care and tuneups:

  • Change and clean the refrigerator drip pan
  • Wash your dryer lint screen
  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator
  • Change the water filter on your ice maker
HVAC care: Your heating, cooling and ventilation systems need consistent upkeep for better performance, which can help keep your energy bills lower throughout the year:

  • Clean the ducts and vents 
  • Clean or change your AC filters
  • Replace weatherstripping to help keep cool air in
  • Test your thermostat to ensure it's sending a signal 
Plumbing: Snaking the drain for a few hair clogs isn't enough to keep your plumbing system in working order. Be sure to also take care of these things:

  • Flush the water heater
  • Check your pipes for leaks
  • Test the water pressure on your sprinkler system
  • Check water levels on boilers
Safety systems: To ensure your loved ones and belongings are safe in the home, do the following:

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test your security alarms and codes
  • Inspect your fence or gate for holes or vulnerabilities
Keep this checklist handy and run through it every six months to keep your home in top condition and your loved ones safe. 

Get in touch today if you'd like to discuss other home maintenance activities that will safeguard your financial investment. 


Monday, June 4, 2018

Houston's Best Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts!

Nothing beats a scoop (or two) of  Hank's Ice Cream! 
Here's the scoop on the sweetest way to combat Houston's hot summers - from ice cream parlors to snoball stands. 

  • Hank's Ice Cream on South Main is an old school ice cream parlor that's been serving Houstonians for over 30 years. The ice cream case is filled with approximately 16 of their 100 flavors - including classics like butter pecan and chocolate and their signature scoops of banana pudding and Grape Nut! The walls at Hank's are covered with photos from celebrity visitors, including Beyonce. 
  • Amorino in the swanky River Oaks District shopping center offers traditional Italian gelato artfully shaped into a flower with the cone as your edible bouquet holder! Their menu also has milkshakes and crepes. 
  • The Chocolate Bar lives up to its name with flavors pairing chocolate with peanut butter, brownie chunks, espresso, and oreos. They've also created a summer spin on hot chocolate called frozen hot chocolate - an icy concoction topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. 
  • MAM's House of Ice makes New Orleans style snoballs with fluffy ice drenched in homemade syrups and add-ons like condensed milk or a scoop of Blue Bell for a decadent duo.  
  • Steel City Pops has a popsicle menu featuring fresh ingredients with an emphasis on all things local and organic. You can select from fruity, creamy, or even a cookie combo. Along with their storefront in the Heights, be on the lookout for their mobile stands often set up at the Houston Zoo and Buffalo Bayou Park. 
  • Nu Cafe's Snowflake Ice is a secret recipe from Taiwan that's piled high like a creamy mountain on a plate. Flavors range from vanilla to green tea with a variety of toppings available. 
Stay cool Houston! 


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

5 Common Contract Contingencies

Purchasing a home is one of the largest financial commitments you'll ever make, and it's understandable to want to protect your investment throughout the purchase process. When you're ready to make an offer on a home, adding a contingency to your contract can give you time to assess the property and feel confident that it is a sound investment. Here are five contingencies that can safeguard your investment:

1. A financing contingency ensures you're not on the hook if something goes awry with your loan. If you're unable to secure a mortgage or the terms and conditions change significantly during the contingency period, you can back out without any penalties.

2. An inspection contingency gives you a set time frame to have a professional home inspection done on the property. Should issues be found, you can negotiate with the seller to make repairs or adjust the sales price to account for the home's condition. 

3. An appraisal contingency protects you if an appraisal comes in below the sales price. When this happens, it's up to you to make up the difference, either by securing additional financing, paying it out of pocket or renegotiating the deal. If none of these methods work, the contingency allows you to back out without losing your earnest money.

4. A home sale contingency is crucial if you're selling an existing home while buying a new one. Essentially, it says your purchase relies on your ability to sell your current home by a specific date. If you haven't accepted an offer in that period, you can withdraw and get your earnest money back.  

5. An occupancy contingency protects you should you need to move into your new home by a specific time. It gives you possession of the home on the date you specify. 

It's no secret that today's housing market is a competitive one, and bidding wars can be intimidating. Get in touch today to ensure that your bid stands out and your investment is protected.