Monday, October 31, 2016

Why I Love Houston: Downtown Explorations!

Houston is Inspired Mural by GONZO247 on the corner of Preston and Travis
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. 

I'm a big fan of Houston's Downtown Theater District and Historic Market Square Park where you can watch concerts and movies under the stars and visit old school favorites like Treebeards for comfort food lunches and La Carafe for a glass of wine and a possible ghost-sighting. Don't forget to get a photo in front of the nearby Houston is Inspired mural by Houston's own street art ambassador and artist, GONZO247. Here are some future events and sights to add to your downtown explorations!

The International Quilt Festival kicks off Wednesday, November 3 and runs through Sunday, November 6th. Every year visitors from around the world head to the George R. Brown Convention Center to witness the showcase of quilts from traditional to cutting edge. Special exhibits include quilts celebrating the Christmas season, Wild West motifs, Japanese patterns and quilts commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk. How appropriate for Space City! Exhibitors offer the latest in quilting and embroidery equipment along with classes to inspire professionals and beginners. Wind down with happy hour at the Grove in Discovery Green Park across the street for a sunset finale. 

Sidewalk chalk scenes from past Via Colori Festivals
Downtown's Hermann Square at City Hall is the canvas for the annual Via Colori Street Painting Festival held on Saturday, November 19th - Sunday, November, 20th. Come early and check out the artists as they use the pavement as their palette to create the most amazing works of (temporary) art. The festival also features live music, a family zone and photography center where experts will teach you to capture the works of art for excellent Instagram pics. Houston Via Colori benefits The Center for Hearing and Speech, a local non-profit that serves children with hearing loss. Take advantage of the B-Cycle Station near City Hall and rent a bike for a ride around downtown! 
Downtown's Art Block installations 

For a splash of color, visit the Art Blocks at Main Street Square featuring a variety of installations including Patrick Renner's Trumpet Flower, climbing the side of a building while acting as a shady shelter for pedestrians. The artist also created the Funnel Tunnel which welcomed drivers as they made their way along Montrose. The Main Street Marquee hosts a rotation of murals, including one paying homage to Houston bluesman, Lightnin' Hopkins. Turn the corner on Main and McKinney to experience the vibrance of Color Jam Houston. If you're going to show at House of Blues or the Toyota Center, the art blocks are a delightful detour to add to your downtown Houston outing.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trends and Tech for Today's Bathrooms

According to a recent Houzz & Home survey, homeowners are investing more on bathroom renovations than in previous years, largely due to outdated designs and finishes. What types of upgrades are they spending money on? Here are some of the latest trends and tech updates being used in bathroom design.

Aesthetic Additions
You don't have to tackle a full overhaul to make a big impact in the bathroom. Smaller changes can often bring big rewards, both from a resale perspective and by adding value to your daily experience.
Cosmetic favorites, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association's 2016 bathroom trends, include polished chrome finishes and neutral colors like white and gray. And bathrooms are becoming more streamlined with floating vanities, open shelving and undermount sinks. When larger changes are made, homeowners are incorporating amenities such as no-threshold showers and higher vanity heights that allow for aging in place.
Tech Touches
When you consider updating the appliances in your home, you may automatically think of doing so in the kitchen, living area or laundry room. Many, however, are quickly adopting technological advances in pursuit of the smart bathroom
Some of the more popular add-ons available include:
  • High-tech toilets: The most basic bathroom appliance now has seat-warming options, LED lights, motion sensors and automatic dryers.
  • Accessorized soaking tubs: You can take a basic bath, or you can soak in a chromotherapy tub with mood-enhanced lighting. Or enjoy an air bath, with massaging bubbles similar to a hot spring.
  • Digital faucets and showers: Along with reduced flow, which conserves water and money, faucet features also include touchless technology and programmable settings like a timed shower option.
Which market trends and tech updates appeal most to your family? When done well, these upgrades can improve your quality of life and increase the value of your home.

Friday, October 21, 2016

4 New Must-See Listings! Open Houses Sunday 2-5 pm!

Make this beautiful Heights property your new home sweet home. Situated on a large 4,675 sqft lot, the oversized front porch welcomes you to this beautifully updated home with hardwoods, high ceilings, crown molding, spacious kitchen and black and stainless steel appliances. Living room just off kitchen overlooks large backyard -perfect layout for entertaining. Home is just minutes away from bike and walking trail- a move-in ready gem!

Stop by the Open House this Sunday (10/23) from 2-5pm! 

Welcome home to this picture-perfect lovingly remodeled ranch in one of Houston's most charming and convenient communities close to the Medical Center, Galleria, and Downtown! With formal living in front and a large den in back, the floor plan is great for families. No neighbors behind - just green space for a private school! Super quiet street at the back of the neighborhood - let the kids can play in the street out front worry-free! Make this your your new home today!

Stop by the Open House this Sunday (10/23) from 2-5 pm! 

GORGEOUS 4-bedroom family home on a large corner cul-de-sac lot. Chef's dream kitchen with granite counters opens to sunny breakfast room, large dining room, and huge great room. This beautifully maintained showstopper is truly a home sweet home! Make it yours today!

Stop by the Open House this Sunday (10/23) from 2-5 pm!

Check out the phenomenal 3 bedroom and 2 bath gem just a short distance from local shops and restaurants! Open floor-plan features tile floors and built-in shelves in living areas. Kitchen is a chef's dream with granite countertops, Stainless Steel appliances, and tons of storage. Retreat to your cozy master suite with spacious bath and closet. Spacious outdoor patio is perfect for entertaining.

Stop by the Open House this Sunday (10/23) from 2-5!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mini Mural Inspired Outings Around Houston

The Mini Mural Project is continuing to beautify the city one utility box at a time. As the proud sponsor of the first one to appear in the Heights - right on the esplanade of Heights Boulevard - I love seeing all the new Mini Murals popping up all over Houston.

Explore the new artworks by creating your own Mini Mural inspired outings around the city. Use the handy online Mini Murals map to locate your favorite murals and pair with a nearby Houston destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Feel the dragonfly love at the corner of Waugh and Allen Parkway before hitting the Buffalo Bayou Hike and Bike Trails to spot your own lovebugs among the native trees, grasses and wildflowers lining the paths. Be sure to download the "Buffalo Bayou Revealed" audio tour to serve as your soundtrack as you view Houston's city skyline and the bayou.

Admire the portrait of Barbara Jordan, who served in US House of Representatives from 1973-1979, before heading to the nearby African-American Library at the Gregory School where you can learn more about Barbara Jordan and other notable African-American Houstonians. The exhibits at the Gregory School are a great introduction to the history and heritage of the area. Meditate on your visit in the recently completed Historic Freedmen's Town Labyrinth with a downtown skyline view.

Take in the quadriptych of art history masterpieces, from Michelangelo to Mondrian, before touring the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. There you can find Kees Van Dongen’s painting, The Corn Poppy, aka Girl with the Red Hat, a portrait just as intriguing as the mural’s take on Vemeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Imagine the mural's Van Gogh’s Starry Night as you walk through the James Turrell neon and ambient light-filled tunnel.  

Time travel with the ode to the cassette tape at the corner of 19th and Yale before you browse the bins at Vinyl Edge Records, located just down 19th St. You might even find a cassette or two to take home! 

Find your literary inspiration at my favorite Mini Mural on Heights Boulevard before taking a trip to the historic Heights Neighborhood Library. Research local history and learn more about the trolley that used to run along Heights Boulevard, as pictured in the mural. 

Be sure to share your own Mini Mural inspired outings on my Why I Love Houston Facebook Page!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

6 Tips for Preventing a House Fire

Devastating house fires can happen in an instant, and many begin due to human error. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that cooking tops the list of residential building fire causes (50 percent), followed by heating equipment (12.5 percent) and electrical malfunction (6.3 percent).
  1. Keep flammable items at least three feet from heat sources. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, 56 percent of fatal home heating fires ignite from items being placed too close to heating equipment. Make sure everything is a safe distance from heat sources, including the furnace, space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves.
  2. Check smoke detectors frequently. Approximately 60 percent of house fire deaths happen in structures with no working smoke alarms. Test your home's smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries each year.
  3. Have a family escape plan and practice it regularly. All household members need to know all exit strategies in case a fire breaks out, as well as where to meet once they're safely outside. Have a semiannual drill and practice at different times of the day.
  4. Cook safely. Never leave the room when boiling, frying or baking, keep pot holders and dish towels away from the flame, and immediately turn off appliances when not in use.
  5. Be mindful of holiday decorations. If you choose to decorate with strings of lights, always check their condition first. Throw out those with exposed electrical wiring, and be sure to read over the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. Houston Fire Department Safety Tips. Make use of our local resources with these downloadable PDFs full of helpful information on fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why I Love Houston: Kids Day on Buffalo Bayou!

10th Annual KBR Kids Day on Buffalo Bayou, Saturday October 15h, 11 am - 3 pm
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. 

The 10th annual KBR Kids Day on the Bayou is just around the corner! On Saturday, October 15th, families will flock to The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park for a day filled with nature activities, pontoon boat rides, live music and food trucks. Buffalo Bayou is celebrating its 100th birthday this month and the park just keeps getting better and better with beautiful trails for biking, hiking and wildlife watching from birds to bats! 

The Kids Day performance schedule includes storybook opera, dance troupes, a Halloween costume parade and birds of prey show. Be sure to let the kids explore the nearby Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area with a boulder rock scramble, climbing logs and a 33-foot slide. In addition, the downtown skyline backdrop along Sabine Street is picture perfect for family photos and Instagram pics! 

The Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area in Buffalo Bayou Park

See you on the Bayou!