Monday, February 3, 2014

Chic Lash Boutique

If you wear makeup, and you are anything like me, then putting on mascara can end up being the worst part of your morning routine. I cannot count the number of times I've had a mini-mascara crisis. More often than not, I end up cleaning up a huge smear on my eyelid or trying to overcome the pain from stabbing myself in the eyeball with the wand. In addition, as I've gotten older (yes, I'm accepting it) I have noticed that my eyelashes are shorter and droop downward. Because of this, I decided to seek out an alternative solution that would make my morning routine less annoying and brighten up my eyes, as well.

I started researching eyelash extensions because I knew several women who had them, and they raved about them. In some cases, I did not care for how they looked (way too fake), but others I thought were flawless. My initial appointment was with a well known chain - one that I will not mention by name, but they are all over Houston.

When my appointment time arrived, I had a gut feeling that this was not somewhere I wanted to be, nor was it a place that I wanted to have toxic glue applied to my eyelashes. My gut was correct. They failed to put me with the girl whom I waited (for over a week) to see, and specifically requested (several times). I requested the technician that applied my friend's lashes because she did not make her look like a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race. I was very nervous about having the extensions put on, and I discussed this, in depth, with the receptionist when I booked the appointment. I left without having them applied, and I am so thankful that I did. A few weeks later that same friend had a horrible experience there (lashes glued to her lashline that caused open sores, etc.) from which she is still recovering.

After leaving, I called Chic Lash Boutique and spoke with the owner, Jennifer. Another friend has her eyebrows threaded there and raves about the place. I researched them and after finding that all of the technicians are certified, and have more experience, I decided to book my appointment. Jennifer was so sweet and was able to fit me in for a last minute application. Yes, Chic Lash is more expensive, but I will say that the peace of mind I have with knowing my eyes are in good hands is worth a few extra dollars.

My first visit was with Des. She was amazing and she made me comfortable. My concerns were with what might happen to my eyes as well as being fearful I would walk out of there looking ridiculous. She took my fears into consideration and gave me a very natural first set. Yes, it was noticeable, but not overwhelming. Now, I'm addicted to the time it has saved me, as well as how little eye makeup I have to wear. I am a member of the monthly unlimited refill plan, and Katie is my current technician (my schedule did not jive with Des's). I get so many comments about how good they look, and that they do not look fake. I have been going since November, and I've never had any eye issues. Both Katie and Des are unbelievable - I HIGHLY recommend them. However, I believe any of the girls there would do a great job.

If you are looking into lash extensions, I recommend spending the extra money and heading over to Chic Lash. Your eyes are not something on which you should skimp! Chic Lash offers a variety of services including lash extensions, eyebrow threading, and tinting services (lash and brow).

Call Jennifer to book your appointment and let her know Danelle sent you!

Chic Lash Boutique
Phone: 713.874.0114
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-6:00pm
Address: 544 Waugh Dr. Suite A
Houston, TX 77019

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Train Station - Houston's Personal Training Studio For Women

A few months back I decided that I needed some extra help with my endurance. I was freaking out as my "vacation" (climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro) neared. I knew that I could hike for long distances on flat land, but was not so sure about my ability to deal with inclines for 6-8 hours a day.

Not one to enjoy working out, grunting, and looking disgusting in front of a room full of strangers that include the opposite sex, I decided that I would enlist the help of a personal trainer. I heard of The Train Station on several occasions, always meant to call for information, and now there was a reason to do so. I am so glad I did!

Needless to say, climbing a mountain is not an easy feat, especially when sick for the entire trip (I am blessed with a sweet immune system, and I live at sea-level). I truly believe that the work I did with my two trainers, prior to this trip, is the reason I was able to persevere and get as far as I did. No, I did not summit, but I tried and got farther than I could have possibly imagined.

I find that I respond best to strength training and Pilates. If that's not your thing, there are aqua fitness classes, cardio camps and a lot of yoga inspired moves that can be incorporated. Your trainer will tailor a workout that is suitable, based on information provided in your first consultation.

If you are a woman who is looking for a way to workout without gyms, mass quantities of people, and no waiting for machines, then I highly suggest looking into The Train Station. My two trainers, Christina and Dolores, are amazing. I saw changes in my body within the first two weeks, and I noticed my balance improved within the first couple of sessions. Even though I'm not climbing any mountains anytime soon (OK, maybe next year), I am still attending my sessions at The Train Station. I feel stronger and healthier, and it is nice to be held accountable.
The Train Station
1608 Bissonnet
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 523-9092

Monday, March 18, 2013

Houston BBQ Festival is this Sunday!

The weather in Houston is beautiful right now and it's time to enjoy some delicious BBQ from some of the best Houston has to offer. Mark your calendar and buy your tickets for the 1st Annual (and, the best!) Houston BBQ festival. The Houston BBQ Festival is this Sunday, March 24, 2013 from 1-5pm and is located at the Bayou City Event Center - The Pavilion. Tickets must be purchased in advance--they WILL NOT be sold at the door (per website). This event will likely sell out, so you are well-advised to purchase asap. The participating BBQ vendors will provide samples of their fares. You can purchase all drinks at the festival.

A few of the participating vendors (and, some of my favorites): Gatlin's BBQ, Pizzitola's Bar-Be-Cue, Ray's BBQ Shack, and Fainmous BBQ.

If you love good BBQ, or just love being outside and enjoying this beautiful weather we've been having, then buy your tickets today!

Buy tickets


Venue information

Houston BBQ Festival
Sunday, March 24, 2013
1pm - 5pm
Bayou City Event Center
9401 Knight Road
Houston, TX 77045

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Buying a house inside the loop - Houston Real Estate

From time to time, I like to write about Real Estate, although, this is not a Real Estate based blog. However, I feel compelled to write about the market right now. In a nutshell, it is crazy!

If you are a buyer looking for a home in Houston (specifically inner loop), right now, you probably know what I mean. If you are a seller, you are likely very, very, happy. Buyers cannot find houses and sellers cannot sell them fast enough. If you are a seller with an appropriately priced home (and a desirable location, floorplan, etc.), you can assume you will be under contract by the end of the first day the home hits Moreover, you will likely reap the benefits of a multiple offer scenario, or what some refer to as a "bidding war".

Why is this happening? There simply is not enough inventory available for the plethora of buyers that are looking. With a looming fear that interest rates will increase in 2014, consumers are trying to take advantage of historically low rates--sometimes as low as 3.25%.

When faced with so much competition, how does one take advantage of today's low interest rates and purchase a house?

Here are some ideas of things you can do that can put you at an advantage:

1.) Work with a Realtor who has connections with other Realtors specializing in the area. Typically the listing agent (with seller approval) will share with other agents (who they have relationships with) when they have a listing coming up. In many cases, houses are already under contract before they ever reach mls. Working with a Realtor who has information about unlisted properties could be beneficial.

2.) Have your Realtor set you up on an automatic search. This search will immediately email you when a home that fits your criteria hits the market. You will need to be prepared to visit the house within 2-3 hours and bring along a full-priced (or higher) offer in hand. That might seem presumptuous, but, if you are looking at it, there are probably at least 5 other people who are and who will also submit an offer.

3.) Make your offer desirable. Right now sellers have the luxury of being choosy. If you want to stand out from the rest, remove items from your offer that could be considered negative. Examples of this include long closings, seller contributions to closing costs, requests for appliances or other excluded items, long option periods, etc. In addition, if you have a contingency, you will not be at a competitive advantage. Your best option is to sell  your home and do a leaseback, if possible, or find a temporary residence while you search for your home.

4.) Always have the most recent lender approval letter to submit with your offer. Work with your lender to obtain full credit approval--not just pre-approval--for submission. This shows that you have submitted your documents to the lender and that you are  approved based on a more detailed check of your finances. It is a step further than pre-approval and would put you at an advantage over most buyers who submit with pre-approval only.

5.) Ask your agent to put a deadline in the contract for the seller to respond. I request that the seller respond within  5-6 hours with the caveat that the offer "will be considered void" if they do not respond within the requested time-frame. If you do not, the seller will likely hold onto it while collecting other offers. Inserting a deadline does not mean they have to accept your offer, but it does require the seller to respond in order to keep your offer on the table. This practice can put you in a good position if the offer is strong and the seller is afraid of losing it.

6.) Write a letter to the seller. I've written about this before. It might seem silly, and it does not always work, but it can be beneficial. If there are multiple offers on the table, and your offer is under consideration along with someone else's, then a nice introduction  letter to the seller could be the difference. Sellers have emotional connections to their homes--it is their first house, they raised their first child there, etc.--so appealing to the seller on a personal level could push you in front of someone else who is still only a number on a piece of paper.

These are just some suggestions, and in no way does it  guarantee your offer will come out ahead of the pack. The most important thing to remember is that something will come along, and not to get frustrated. It is a terrific time to buy or sell in Houston!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Draft Festival is this Saturday!

Calling all craft beer lovers - The Draft Festival is this Saturday, November 17. If you have not already purchased your tickets to attend, you need to do so soon...

Besides the obvious (craft beer), there are other reasons one should attend the festivities. The proceeds from Houston Beer Week, including The Draft Fest, will go to Live It Big, Inc., which is a non-profit that supports charities such as Friday Harbour and Stepping Stones Elementary.

Also, this is the only beer festival that includes food with your cost of admission. Some of the food that will be provided are as follows: Ninfa's on Navigation, Antone's, lamb and goat tacos from El Hidalguense, and, lastly, Richard Flores will be roasting 300 lbs of pork meat for pulled pork sliders.

The Draft Festival will showcase a cigar program curated by cigar aficionado/fashion celebrity Teresa Merchant and will feature Stogies World Class Cigars.

There will be live music, a silent auction, and a few other surprises. Don't miss out on the fun, and your opportunity to help out a great cause.

Look forward to seeing you this Saturday at Guadalupe Plaza Park!

The Draft Festival
2311 Runnels St.
Houston, TX 77003
Saturday, November 17,2012
open 11am-5pm

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Things I love, need or am obsessed with...

Below are some things that currently I am either in love with, desperately need, or think that you might need.

Emerald Dry Roasted Almonds
First,  whether you are an acquaintance, friend, or loved one, you know that I am ALWAYS on phase 1 of the South Beach diet. I cannot get past phase one because every time it I complete it, I pig out on a ton of cupcakes (gluten-free, of course) and then I have to restart phase one, again. I need something to satisfy my constant cravings during the two weeks of pure misery that I have to endure the phase of this less than exciting diet. The only thing that works for me are dry roasted almonds. Although there are a million different brands of dry roasted almonds, the Emerald brand is truly the best. Trust me on this, they are delicious.

Handcuff or "Bound" necklace
I have a thing for gold jewelry, at least at this moment. If you will remember from one of my previous posts - "Current Obsessions" - I received a gold initial necklace from my sister. I still adore that necklace, and I get a ton of compliments on it. My newest "must-have" is the 18K gold handcuff necklace from Le Dragon D'or. Search "The Collections" tab at the bottom of the site. The correct collection is the "Bound" collection. I think Krysten Ritter wears one on a tv show (silver or white-gold version), but I'm not sure if it is the same one. I believe that this will be my next splurge. I love the way it sits on the neck, and it would be a delightful conversation piece, needless to say. I'm not sure of the price, as it isn't listed on the Le Dragon D'or website. Ron Herman has a similar one, without the key clasp, on his site for $725. For $725, though, I might have to buy a knock-off. Although, I'm not a fan of fakes...

Here is the Le Dragon D'or:

And, the Ron Herman:

Reading is FUNdamental. I love books. I love the way they feel in my hands; I love the ritual of lying in bed (or a hot bath) with a book I never want to put down, and I love that I can escape my inner voice and immerse myself in someone else's thoughts/words. I cannot get enough of reading. For that reason, I am grateful for Goodreads. Goodreads lets me organize what I've read, as well as make recommendations based on previous books I've rated. You can follow friends and see what they have read that you might enjoy, as well. It is a fun site for anyone - from the casual to the voracious reader.

Frankel's Costume
Now I have a recommendation for the avid Halloween enthusiast. I'm not super excited about the whole Halloween thing - it freaks me out. I had to buy a costume recently, and I happened upon the biggest costume store I have ever seen in my life. It was crazy how many costumes, decorations, etc. this store had to offer. If I need a costume, ever again - and any time of the year - I guarantee I will go to Frankel's Costume to find it. Swing by the store sometime before Halloween to get the full experience. Definitely unparalleled.

Map of Frankel's Costume location:

View Larger Map

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Uchi Houston

I recently visited Uchi after reading that Houston had 3 restaurants listed in Bon Appetit's top 50 best new restaurants in the Nation for 2012, Uchi Houston being one of them. I can see why. Without a doubt, this is one of the best dining experiences of my life. The staff, the food, ambiance are all outstanding.

My understanding is that there is an "everyday menu" that does not change, and a "today's menu" that changes frequently as the chef creates new dishes. If you try something on "today's menu" and love it, chances are it might not be there in the future. I ordered off of both menus, so that I could sample a little bit of everything. The servings are tasting, or tapas, size - just enough so that you leave feeling satisfied instead of miserable because you gorged on too much food.

If you do not order the brussel sprouts, you have no idea what you are missing. Unfortunately, the wagyu beef dish that I ordered (and loved), was on the "today's menu", so it is no longer available. However, the bond roll and peanut butter semifreddo are on the permanent ("everyday") menu, and in my opinion, combined with the brussel sprouts, these three dishes would make the perfect meal. I wish I had pictures to share, but my camera decided to die at the most unfortunate time - during this meal.

The wait staff and hostesses should not go unnoticed. The service was impeccable. This is a vital part of the dining experience, to me. If the service is lousy, I do not care how great the food is, I will not be back. So, kudos to the staff of Uchi Houston.

More in-depth reviews of this restaurant, from 2 food critics I respect, are below:

Alison Cook,

Katharine Schilcutt, Houston Press: 

904 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77006
Sun-Thurs 5-10
Fri-Sat 5-11