Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Unusual Homes

Unique Buildings That Have Been Converted Into Homes

Have you ever dreamed of living in a home unlike any other? Thanks to a little creativity and a whole lot of work, what's old is new again with these spectacular home conversions. From former firehouses to built-upon barges, check out these truly unusual residences:
Historic Firehouse -- Artists Vincent Valdez and Adriana Corral converted a 1928 fire station located in San Antonio, Texas, into an art studio and loft-style apartment. The former fire station offered the perfect blank canvas for the artists with its white walls, concrete floors and high ceilings.
Old Water Tower -- An 1877 water tower in London, England, was transformed into a luxury home by homeowners Leigh Osbourne and Graham Voce. The 99-foot tall brick structure required significant restoration before it could be converted into the four-bedroom home with an ultra-modern living space on the ground level.
Barge -- A 1909 barge used for transporting heavy goods is now a floating home in Södermalm, a district in central Stockholm, Sweden. The 1,600-square foot residence features three levels outfitted with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan living room and a dining room.
Schoolhouse-- This Federal-style schoolhouse was built around 1840 in the Catskills of New York. Unfortunately pipes burst and the ceiling fell in one week after closing, so the homeowners had to deal with a complete renovation. After a year of hard work, the schoolhouse was transformed into a colorful and vibrant weekend retreat.
Unique Houston Homes-- For a Houston tour of unusual homes, the Beer Can House is always on the list. The home, located in the Rice Military neighborhood, pays homage to the former owner's beloved brew with woven, intricately patterned aluminum cans welcoming visitors. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art acquired the house and offers tours Wednesday-Sunday, 12-5 pm but you can always drive by for a quick selfie with out-of-town guests!

Minimalist and modern is the look of architect Ronnie Self's St. Emanuel House in the Third Ward neighborhood where most of the dwellings are traditional, wood-framed homes. The California dreamin' style residence perches over the freeway and has dramatic views of the downtown skyline. The home has been featured in the New York Times Magazine as a roadside attraction-right in our hometown!

Be sure to be on the lookout for historic neighborhood and unique home tours offered by Preservation Houston and AIA Houston, the local chapter of the American Institute for Architects, which has a Museum District Walking Tour scheduled for October 3, 2015. If you attend, be sure to pair your walk with a meal at Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen on Montrose for their fresh gulf coast seafood.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Krause Springs Weekend Retreat

Best watering hole in Texas?  Krause Springs in Spicewood near Austin.  Still craving summer memories after school starts?  Take a weekend trip here before the heat dissipates.  You will think you've died and gone to heaven.  Relaxation incarnate.  Almost private until about noon - just what this overworked soul needed to recharge!  Campgrounds too. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

​Houston​ ​Restaurant Weeks​ ​Season

Welcome to my Why I Love Houston Series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town.

Why I Love Houston...Houston Restaurant Weeks Season.

Nothing represents a people and their culture like food. Houston’s cuisine – like the city itself – is diverse, innovative, and accessible. As much as I love to travel, there is truly no place like home for this fifth-generation Houstonian – and food plays no small part in that romance for me and the millions of others who are proud to call Houston home. There’s always a new​ ​place ​to try​ and Houston Restaurant Weeks is the perfect opportunity for plotting​ culinary adventures​ ​while benefiting the Houston Food Bank. Here are some of my favorite picks from this year's list of participating restaurants.

For refined casual cuisine with a Southern flair, I love the flavors and ambiance of rooftop dining at Harold’s Restaurant on 19th Street – housed in the hallowed remains of the landmark upscale department store by the same name. Take advantage of Metro's free bus service through August 22 and catch a ride to your dining destination. The White Oak route in my neighborhood makes a stop near Revival Market where you can also pick up locally made condiments like pickles and jams. Brennan’s famous New Orleans-style dining decadence and Damian’s Cucina Italiana are Midtown musts. In Montrose, ​​sophisticated, ​Mexican cuisine is on the menu at Hugo’s. After a full day of gallery-hopping in the Museum District, make a reservation for a table at the Monarch Bistro ​in swanky Hotel ZaZa (formerly the historic Warwick Hotel) or 
Lucille’s, ​named after the first black female business owner in Texas whose recipes are dished up proudly by her descendants for ​all the Southern comfort​ food​ one art-loving soul could desire. On the weekends, be sure to catch the live Blues brunch, oysters, and fresh fish Texas-style at Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood. Houston Restaurant Weeks runs through September 7, 2015, so be sure to start making those reservations to dine out for a worthy cause.

Bon appetit!


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Clutter Busters

Home Organizing Tips 

Spring may be a popular season for cleaning, but fall is a great time to get your home organized, especially if you have students who are starting school. Clutter creates chaos. Once an area gets messy and disorganized, it becomes the de facto dumping ground for everything else. Here are a few clutter busters to keep the chaos under control.
Start With the Hot Spots -- Clear flat surfaces that tend to accumulate piles on a daily basis. If you find yourself tempted to leave items in those areas, replace the clutter with artful decorations to remind yourself that it's no longer a dumping zone. Build a collection that's full of character rather than clutter at Texas Art Asylum where the shelves are stacked high with odd objects or shop for unique home decor with regional flair at Biscuit Home
Designate a Space for Everything -- Find a home for everything in each and every room of your house, including the garage. If it doesn't fit, consider it a sign that you need to go through and purge the items you no longer use. Declutter destinations for donating items that you no longer use but are in need of a second home include The Guild Shop of St. John the Divine for consignment-worthy pieces or drop off your gently used goods at one of the many Goodwill locations in Houston. You can also schedule a pickup for your "retired" household goods with Purple Heart.  
Arrange by Frequency of Use -- Keep regularly used items near the front or at eye level in closets, drawers and pantry spaces. Store the stuff you rarely use high up or in the back. Head to the Houston Food Bank with non-perishables from your pantry. Be sure to check their list for the most needed food items. 
Compartmentalize to Avoid Clutter -- Use drawer dividers and storage containers to group like items together. Each compartment serves as a placeholder when items are in use, which prevents the space from being overtaken by random clutter.
Zip and Store Small Things -- To keep clutter under control, group small items by category and store them in resealable plastic bags inside a larger storage container or drawer.
Swap out the Extra Stuff -- Rotate clothing, toys and accessories by season so you aren't tripping over winter boots when you're looking for flip-flops and vice versa. This strategy also works for taming the toy room. Turn in your couture for cash with consignment-friendly boutiques, More Than You Can Imagine and The Little Bird. Try Buffalo Exchange for trendier attire. After you've tamed the toy room, Thread offers in-store cash and credit for stylish kids clothing, gently used toys and books, and maternity wear. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mini Murals: Beyond the Box

Welcome to my Why I Love Houston Series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town.

Why I Love Houston...because of its diverse art scene in unexpected places.

Have you seen the amazing street art decorating many of the utility boxes throughout Houston? These works by local artists are part of the pilot phase of Mini Murals, a grassroots arts initiative to beautify the landscape of our beloved city. The successful initial phase of the project has been generously underwritten and supported by City of Houston officials, local government entities and non-profits, and major supporter, City Councilman Larry Green in District K (who has already adorned much of Southwest Houston in Mini Murals). Now it's time to bring Mini Murals to every corner of Houston!

I’m privileged to be co-chairing Mini Murals: Beyond the Box, a gala to commemorate the success of the Mini Murals program to date and kick-off our fundraising campaign to fund the painting of 100 new boxes in 2016. This free event takes place Saturday, September 19th at Sliver Street Studios and is open to the public. The participating local artists will also be in attendance and displaying their works. I hope to see all of you there celebrating Houston's vibrant art scene and community spirit.

I also wanted to let you know about the incredible sponsorship opportunities for the Mini Murals: Beyond the Box gala. Our Presenting and Supporting sponsors will get their very own sponsored Mini Mural utility box! Additionally, you or your company will receive extensive PR and marketing coverage, as this public event will be widely featured by all media networks and we expect a high turn out for the event itself. Sponsors will receive tickets for themselves and clients to our VIP invitation-only preview party. 

We have sponsorship opportunities at all levels and also welcome in-kind contributions. The value of this sponsorship opportunity is immeasurable. I have personally committed as a sponsor and cannot wait to see my own sponsored Mini Mural in the Heights very soon! Our event is approaching quickly, and we want to make sure our sponsors receive all the media coverage they deserve, so please let me know ASAP if you are interested or have any questions. 

Thanks for supporting the Houston art scene,