Monday, December 28, 2009

So many things to talk about!

I visited the most delish restaurant a few weeks ago. It is just a few blocks away from me (which is really helpful to you, I know) on Shepherd. I'm sure by now you have to have heard something about it. Block 7 Wine Company is amazing. I went there for a little get together in the back room they have available for parties. It was so good. First, I love that the owners decided to keep the decor of the restaurant so closely related to what the building's original use was: a warehouse. Block 7 has everything a foodie could ever want. A bar, restaurant, separate store (although in-house, just separated by a door) for wine lovers to pick up a bottle of the fab vino they just had at dinner, an Ah-mazing chef (Miguel Hernandez-former sous-chef for The Rainbow Lodge) and a menu that will make your jaws jitter just at one glance.

Miguel let me try some of the homemade sausage with homemade mustard sauce. I was in the kitchen with the Miguel and one of the owners, Stephanie Roman, because I am very cool. That was some darn good food. They have 21-day dry aged beef burgers with homemade frites as well as truffle popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches, prime rib-eye (aged as well) and rice krispies. In addition to the huge array of special wines that the sommelier would be more than happy to help you choose.

Wanna know something else cool about this place? They have free wine tastings on Saturdays as well as educational classes that you can sign up for to learn more about wine. They have a full service wine tour operator who can set up a wine excursion for you and your loved one(s)-travel and accomodations included.

Lastly, Block 7 is a huge supporter of local artists. Local artists grace the walls of Block 7 with their finery each month for all patrons to enjoy and buy! The best time to get a beautiful piece of art is when the artist is still local.. You'll regret it if you don't buy it now and then you see the same piece you fell in love with for 5 times the price in a few years.

Block 7 has so many wonderful attributes, I can't even name them all. You will just have to go to their website and see. Or, even better, hit up the restaurant for one of their signature dishes. You won't be sorry!

Pic of bar, courtesy of

Pics of restaurant and store, courtesy of Tracy Scott,

Block 7 Wine Company Hours of Operation:
Retail store
Mon-Sat 10am-10pm
Sun Noon-6pm
Mon-Thurs 4pm-midnight
Fri-Sat 4pm-1am
Sun 4pm-11pm
Go there asap, you will thank me later.

So, every year around the holidays, I start to go into full-on panic mode as to what to get my mother. It is the same argument every year. "Well Dan-eeeelllleeee, I don't neeeeeed anything....Having you guys as my daughters' is present enough". Imagine that being said in a very southern accent along with a hint of whining. When I am finally able to get her to give me some type of clue as to what she would like, it usually consists of some weird tool she saw on a DIY show. Like, a jigsaw or something. Ok, my mother is still 29, but she has arthritis, some type of auto-immune problem the doctors still can't diagnose, she's had back surgery, needs help taking out the trash and can barely walk to the mailbox. Why does she need a jigsaw?

Therefore, I took it upon myself to decide what she would be getting for Christmas. Not just from me, but from all of us. So, my sisters and niece and nephew and I got together with a fabulous lifestyle photographer, Tracy Tesmer, and had our first real family portraits made for her. She was clueless to this, so I had to keep my mouth shut forever, which is very hard for me. But, the payoff was worth it. She was so touched. By far the happiest I've seen her in a long time. I must say, if you are thinking of having portraits done, Tracy Tesmer is the best there is. By far. Here are a few of my niece and nephew along with my mom's favorite of me and my sisters:



Dawn, Me and Dee Anne:

This was little baby Trevor's very first experience taking pictures, other than Aunt Nellie shoving a camera in front of him whenever possible. He was such a good boy!! He still runs around saying "Cheeeeeeese" whenever someone picks up a camera, even if they aren't taking a picture of him! He also got his very own camera for Christmas, just like "Miss Tracy", whom he now forever loves.

Taylor, as always, was quite the little ham. She is such a beautiful girl and it freaks me out to see how well she does in photoshoots. She is perfection wrapped up in a tiny little 6 year old body. I love that little sweetie so much it hurts. She is going to be a force to be reckoned with; watch out for Taylor.

Ok, enough boasting on my little sweeties. If you want to have some awesome pics taken, anytime, not just for the holidays, contact Tracy Tesmer. You will not regret it!

Tracy Tesmer Photography

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Har Press Release-MLS November Update

Houston Property Sales and Prices Maintain Third Straight Month in the Black in November

Year-over-year comparisons remain distorted due to Hurricane Ike, but longer-term view continues to show signs of recovery

HOUSTON — (December 15, 2009) — The effects of Hurricane Ike and simultaneous economic downturn affecting Houston’s real estate market in November 2008 continue to distort year-over-year comparisons which reflect yet another month of double-digit increases. However, longer-term analysis aimed at gleaning a more realistic view of market conditions shows November 2009 real estate activity to be comparable to that seen at the cusp of the recession, in the fall of 2007.

November marked the third straight month in which property sales volume and pricing recorded gains. According to the latest monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), November volume of single-family home sales across the greater Houston area rose 32.8 percent compared to November 2008. Total property sales climbed 37.1 percent in November on a year-over-year basis.

In addition to the comparative affects on sales data from last year’s natural disaster and economic recession, HAR member REALTORS® report that at least some of the month’s homebuying activity can be attributed to consumers scurrying to beat the original November 30 homebuyer tax credit deadline before Congress voted to extend and expand the program.

At $150,000, the November single-family home median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—rose 8.7 percent from one year earlier, representing the seventh straight monthly increase in median price. The average price of a single-family home in Houston was $198,948, up 6.7 percent last month versus November 2008. The median price reached the highest level ever for a month of November in Houston.

Foreclosure property sales continued to decline in November, making up 15.8 percent of all single-family home sales in the Houston area compared to 27.4 percent in November 2008 and the 12-month peak of 34.0 percent in January of this year. The median price of November foreclosure sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) rose 9.5 percent to $93,000 on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of all property types in Houston for November totaled 5,353, up 37.1 percent compared to November 2008. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month was $1.0 billion versus $714 million one year earlier, representing an increase of 44.5 percent.

“This is the third month in a row in which a year-over-year comparison exaggerates the local housing landscape because Hurricane Ike continued to hurt the Houston real estate market last November,” said Vicki Fullerton, HAR chair and broker of record at RE/MAX of The Woodlands & Spring. “We are very encouraged that property sales activity appears to be close to levels reached right before the recession took hold, and expect more realistic year-over-year data in the months ahead so we can again compare apples to apples.”

November Monthly Market Comparison
The month of November brought Houston’s overall housing market positive results when all listing categories are compared to November of 2008. Total property sales, total dollar volume and both median and average single-family home sales prices were all up on a year-over-year basis.

The number of available properties, or active listings, at the end of November fell 4.0 percent from November 2008 to 45,452. That housing inventory represents 28 more active listings than one month earlier, in October 2009.

November’s month-end pending sales—those listings expected to close within the next 30 days—totaled 2,741, which was 12.8 percent lower than last year. While such a decrease typically portends a decline in sales volume for the following month, the Hurricane Ike effect and interest in the homebuyer tax credit make it tricky to forecast. The months inventory of single-family homes for November came in at 6.0 months, down from 6.1 months one year earlier, and remains healthier than the national months inventory of single-family homes of 7.0 months, reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

CATEGORIES November 2008 November 2009 PERCENT CHANGE
Total property sales 3,904 5,353 37.1%
Total dollar volume $713,994,683 $1,031,455,912 44.5%
Total active listings 47,354 45,452 -4.0%
Total pending sales 3,144 2,741 -12.8%
Average single-family sales price $186,449 $198,948 6.7%
Median single-family sales price $138,000 $150,000 8.7%
Months inventory* 6.1 6.0 -1.8%

* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity. This figure is representative of the single-family homes market.

Single-Family Homes Update

At $150,000, the median sales price for single-family homes rose for the seventh consecutive month, up 8.7 percent from November 2008. That represents the highest median price ever recorded in a month of November in Houston. The national single-family median price reported by NAR is $173,100, illustrating the continued higher value and lower cost of living that consumers enjoy in the Houston market. The average price of single-family homes in October was $198,948, an increase of 6.7 percent from one year earlier.

November sales of single-family homes in Houston totaled 4,519, up 32.8 percent from November 2008. This is the third consecutive monthly increase in sales volume and, again, is considered an anomaly because of Hurricane Ike’s disruption of thousands of real estate transactions last fall.

HAR also reports existing home statistics for the single-family home segment of the real estate market. In November 2009, existing single-family home sales totaled 3,721, a 34.8 percent increase from November 2008. At $142,000, the median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area rose 13.6 percent compared to last year. The average sales price of $182,883 climbed 12.3 percent from its November 2008 level.

Townhouse/Condo Update

The number of townhouses and condominiums sold in November rose dramatically compared to one year earlier—again, the product of the market interruption caused by Hurricane Ike. In the greater Houston area, 502 units were sold last month versus 286 properties in November 2008, translating to a 75.5 percent boost in year-over-year sales.

The median price of a townhouse/condominium rose 13.7 percent year-over-year to $134,500. The average price climbed 5.3 percent to $162,708 from November 2008 to November 2009.

Lease Property Update

Demand for single-family home rentals fell 9.0 percent in November compared to a year earlier. Year-over-year townhouse/condominium rentals declined by 2.9 percent.

Houston Real Estate Milestones in November

  • Single-family homes sales increased for a third consecutive month, by 32.8 percent;
  • Existing single-family home sales increased for a third consecutive month, by 34.8 percent;
  • Total property sales increased for a third consecutive month, by 37.1 percent;
  • The median price of a single-family home was up for the seventh straight month, reaching the highest level ever recorded in a November ($150,000);
  • Month’s inventory of single-family homes dropped from 6.1 to 6.0 months compared to the national average of 7.0 months

The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 24,000 Realtors® throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties. Residential home sales statistics as well as listing information for more than 50,000 properties may be found on the Internet at

The information published and disseminated to the HAR Multiple Listing Services is communicated verbatim, without change by Multiple Listing Services, as filed by MLS participants.

The MLS does not verify the information provided and disclaims any responsibility for its accuracy. All data is preliminary and subject to change. Monthly sales figures reported since November 1998 includes a statistical estimation to account for late entries. Twelve-month totals may vary from actual end-of-year figures. (Single-family detached homes were broken out separately in monthly figures beginning February 1988.)

Founded in 1918, the Houston Association of Realtors® (HAR) is a 24,000-member organization of real estate professionals engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential and commercial sales and leasing, appraisal, property management and counseling. It is the largest local association/board of Realtors® in the United States as well as the largest individual membership trade association in Houston.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jay (GunsAndTacos) is my hero

EDIT: Try not to read past page four if you read the link provided below. It has gotten a little offensive.

***Pic is profile pic courtesy of GunsAndTacos on twitter***

Oh dear reader, if you haven't seen this, you are in for the time of your life. I follow a fellow blogger on twitter (username=GunsAndTacos) and he has decided to make it his mission to get fellow Houstonian and successful (I think?) rap artist Chamillionaire to follow him back on twitter. At first he would just post to Chamillionaire on twitter asking kindly for a follow back.

Chamillionaire ignored him. You do not ignore GunsAndTacos, ok? He is the reason I know about good taco trucks in the city of Houston and other random important facts such as where I can find a whole cowhead on sale for $24.95, that the Ghost Whisperer is a great show if you turn off the volume (for guys, of course) and where I can find some sweet belt buckles. Seriously, he is hilarious. You should be reading is blog if you aren't on twitter.

Because Chamillionaire chose to ignore GunsAndTacos, he wanted, no needed answers. Therefore, he had to go straight to the source. Chamillionaire's website. Take the time to read this entry on Chamillionaire's forum. Bookmark it and go back to it if you are ever in a bad mood. It is so darn funny.

How do I get Chamillionaire to follow me on Twitter?

GunsAndTacos' blog

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1st Saturday in The Heights + Mistletoe Madness = Tons of Fun!!!

So, because I am so lame and this time of the year is so darn busy for me, I got my good friend Mitch Cohen to send me the press release for this year's Mistletoe Madness in The Heights and 1st Saturday in The Heights. Not that I wouldn't love to go on and on about how fabulous these coinciding events are, I'm just on brain fry. The press release will be more than adequate and give you all pertinent information. I'll be partying it up with Mitch midday on Saturday. Hope to see you there!!

Official Press Release for the 4th Annual Mistletoe Madness in The Heights:

4th annual Heights "Mistletoe Madness" offers visitors fun, food,
festive holiday atmosphere on Saturday, December 5

Houston's Historic Heights knows how to throw a good party. Whether it's "White Linen Night" in August or "Mistletoe Madness" in December, Heights residents, businesses, artists, musicians and organizations come together to put on a celebration worthy of the many accolades they have received over the years. And this December's 4th annual "Mistletoe Madness" will be no exception.

Set for Saturday, December 5, from 12-6 p.m., Mistletoe Madness faithfully showcases the Heights - profiling the people, the shop owners, the artists and the businesses that make the Heights a classy, progressive, and ultimate destination not to be missed.

Art and live entertainment will be on hand throughout the day and retail shops, restaurants, galleries, and sponsor businesses will be open for visiting and shopping throughout the many tree-lined, holiday-decorated thoroughfares that transverse The Heights, including 11th St., White Oak, Studewood, Heights Blvd, Yale St., North Main St., and 19th St.

Billed by organizers as just the right mix of “Eat, Drink, Shop & Be Merry,” Heights Mistletoe Madness 2009 is geared up to make this year's event the best yet.

“Events work in The Heights because of its artistic, diverse, and offbeat ways,” says Karen Mann, one of the celebration's organizers.

And Mann knows what she is talking about. Many “best-of” establishments call the Heights home, including the best chicken-fried steak in Houston, the best new restaurant of 2007, the best plants, the best new store, the best late-night restaurant, the best tacos, best barbecue, and even the best value. Visitors are encouraged to come early, browse, eat, and enjoy the sights and shops not found anywhere else in Houston.

Organizers invite the public to "Stroll the streets or take a shuttle. Tour the Victorian homes. Hear live music. See good art. Vote on the Caroling Contest. Try a new restaurant or funky bar or revisit an old favorite. Enjoy the chill in the air. Hail a pedi-cab or hop a shuttle for a different trip to a gallery, shop, restaurant, or home. Buy really great gifts!"

And indeed Holiday shoppers can choose from gifts not found anywhere else – fresh, original art, jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, antiques, furniture. Lining the streets of The Heights are shops carrying retro, trendy, high fashion, fine leather goods, hand-made jewelry, and showy studded accessories as well as some of the most varied antiques and imports found in Houston.

The First Saturday Arts Market will also be open, featuring original art for sale. Known as the launching ground for many of Houston's most renowned artists, the First Saturday Arts market is approaching its sixth year of bringing art and artists to Houston on a monthly basis.

And art, shopping and entertainment are not the only options for visitors on this first Saturday of December. The hugely popular "Heights Holiday Home Tour" is scheduled for the same weekend. The Heights’ Victorian and Bungalow architecture provides a festive, nostalgic backdrop for the modern crowds and art gallery scene.

Making Mistletoe Madness all possible are many generous underwriters including Spanish Flowers Mexican Restaurant, Buchanan’s Native Plants, Karen Derr & Associates Realty, Wind Water Gallery, Sterling Bank, Harolds in the Heights, Eclectic Home, Glass Wall the Restaurant, The Leader News, Carter & Cooley Deli, First Saturday Arts Market and more.

Mistletoe Madness is free of charge and open to the public. There is ample free parking available as well as free shuttles. Pedi-cabs are also available on a "for tips" basis.

For more information, visit the websites or or contact Karen Mann at 713-703-0520 or via e-mail at

Here are some pics of the fun:

***All pics courtesy of Mistletoe Madness website***