Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Post-In honor of Charles "Trey" Kitowski, III.

On this day, I always like to thank all of those serving our country, as well as remember with great respect and thanks, those that have fallen for the sake of our Country's safety and our continued freedom.

Memorial Day became even more special to me after my best friend's cousin, Charles "Trey" Kitowski, III passed away in Afghanistan while on duty.

Trey (as I remember him) was always a special guy.  I have such fond memories of growing up with my best friend, Lauren and her brothers and Trey.  Lauren's brothers would make our lives miserable with constant pranks.

Charles Kitowski But, not Trey.  He was so kind and always so respectful.  Much like his Grandfather (his namesake), Trey was an extremely compassionate and kind spirit always ready and willing to help, not once turning his back on someone in need.  Trey dedicated his life to helping others: 'helping with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, or finding a way to adopt any animal he could find.' So, it was a natural step for Trey to want to protect and serve his country.

And, protect and serve he did.  And, he did it well.  Exceptionally well.  Trey entered the Army Reserves in 2005 and was then assigned to the 345th Psychological Operations Company, 2nd Psychological Operations Group, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; soon after he was deployed to Afghanistan.

Trey would write his family and call as often as possible while he was deployed.  He was so excited about the project he had been assigned to work on, the project that would be his ultimate demise.  'On, August 12, 2007, Sergeant Charles "Trey" Kitsowski, III, age 31, was killed by an IED in Eastern Afghanistan. He died doing what he felt duty-bound to do.'

I write this blog-post with fond memories of the sweet, fair haired kid who always had a smile on his face, respected his Country to the utmost degree and loved his family and his friends with a heart bigger than that of the Country he served.

This Trey, today, is for you.  And, all the other wonderful men and women out there who have risked their lives to allow me the freedom to write this post, to voice my opinion on what matters, to walk down my city streets without fear, to love and to laugh and to know that the Country in which I reside, the Country YOU protected, is the best in the world.

Thank you.


**Excerpts in italics and pics taken from "In Memoriam, Charles Kitowski"** 

Friday, May 28, 2010

So cute I want to kiss my monitor.

Holy Good Deal - Block 7 Wine Company

Got this from my good friend, Stephanie Roman, one of the owners of Block 7 Wine Company on Shepherd.  If you haven't been yet, shame on you.  And, now you have even more reason to go.  Living Social, an internet coupon site with daily mega-deals, is giving away the following deal for this fantabulous restuarant.  However, you can only purchase it one day, and one day only-JUNE 1ST.

I reviewed this restaurant awhile back and gave it an AH-mazing, my highest rating.  Here is the review, in case you forgot or God forbid, didn't read my blog: So Many Things To Talk About


Here are the deets:
Price:
$30.00

Title:
$60 to Spend on Food and Drink

Description:
It doesn’t take a master sommelier to give this deal a high rating. Spend $30 at the Block 7 Wine Company to receive $60 toward your choice of wine, sake, and a full menu of fresh and locally inspired comfort cuisine -- like the artisanal cheese plate with house-made charcuterie and accoutrement. Whether you have a cellar at home or just enjoy a glass or two at the end of a long day, Block 7 wine company will make refining your palate an enjoyable experience. Their expertly chosen small production wine list won’t leave you confused or overwhelmed. After all, the best way to learn about wine is to drink it, so bring your friends to the 35-foot tasting bar and start studying today!

Little details:
Limit 1 per person per visit
• Tax and gratuity are not included; don't forget to tip on the pre-discounted amount

Other deal conditions:
• No cash value/cash back
• Entire value must be used in one visit
• Cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion
LivingSocial Terms and Conditions - livingsocial.com/terms

Redemption locations:
720 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007

713-572-2565

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The tax credit is over, now what?

With so many people taking advantage of the Home Buyer’s tax incentive that ended in April, what does that mean for a potential buyer now?

Well, it can be good news. During the last 2 months of the tax incentive, it was close to impossible for us as Realtors® to a.) find a home that suited our client b.) put an offer on it before 8 other agents did c.) offer less than list price.

Granted, the $8000 credit is a hefty amount of money, but if you were not in a rush to purchase, this could have actually cost you more. During the last few months, buyers purchasing homes OVER list price was not uncommon. The bidding wars were great for sellers, not so great for buyers. So, if you are feeling a sense of “loss” because you missed out on the tax credit, don’t. It might just have been a blessing in disguise. Now you have more opportunity than before to find a house you love and perhaps even get a deal on it!

Two days after the tax credit ended, I was able to negotiate a contract for $45,000 off of the list price for a client because there was no incentive for any other buyer to “rush” to purchase. Now, that’s a lot of money! If you are in the market to purchase a home, or know someone who is, please send them my way and I’ll do my best to make that $8000 credit look like pocket change compared to what they will save with my negotiating skills!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My sweet baby is a Daisy!

So, Miss Taylor, my gorgeous niece, gained the highly coveted title of a Daisy Girl recently.  For those of you who are not in the know, becoming a Daisy Girl is the first step in the process of becoming a Girl Scout.

I was so proud of Taylor that day.  So much so that I made my mother buy flowers and bring them to the ceremony in addition to the massive arrangement I had already purchased.

"Dan-eeellllleee, no one else is bringing flowers, we are going to look so silly!", my mom said.  To which I replied, "I don't care.  She is my niece and if I want to spoil her, I will do so".

Ok, so my mom was right.  We were the only people there who brought flowers to the ceremony, or swearing in as I like to see it.  But, whatever.  Taylor loved them and was happy.

So, apparently my gifted niece earned ALL her patches and she was the ONLY one who got to have TWO parts in the performance portion of the ceremony.  Yes, that is right.  She rocks and everyone else is jealous of her.  I feel it is my genes that are contributing to her beauty, grace, ability to read, write and stand upright, but I guess her parents feel all entitled and like it has something to do with them.

After the swearing in (yes, I still call it that), Taylor was told that in order to have her Daisy Girl pin turned upright on her sweet blue vest, she needed to perform 3 good deeds.  Oh you so know my sweet baby was the first in that group to perform all 3.  Do you want to know why?  Because she is a smart little cookie.  There were 3 of us with her that day: Mommy, Grandma and me, Aunt Nellie.  Once we got through the refreshment line and finished our punch, Taylor offered to throw away our cups.  Oh, but she is a genius.  She took each cup one at a time to the trash can instead of all at once like all the other non-thinking Daisies and achieved her 3 good deeds right then and there!!! She was the first to have her pin turned right side up.  I'm so proud.

Here are some pics of my sweet baby girl, for your viewing pleasure:

Taylor smiling and looking gorgeous right before the ceremony:

 
Taylor singing the "Daisy" anthem:



  Taylor in one of two parts she played, the stem and the petal (seen here):



Taylor being "sworn in":



Flower Frenzy!!!:


Thanks for reading!! Fattycake updates and the birth of my new nephew, Brandon, aka "Chicken Thigh" coming soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eat Here

Eat here and love me later:

Big Red Cock (not a joke), on Shepherd, owned by the same owners as The Glass Wall.

**article from Fork and Cork blog at Chron.com** 


***logo courtesy of BRC website***

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First LEED certified home in the Heights!

Article below taken directly from Houston Heights Newsletter:

LEED Construction In The Heights:


Green and Mainstream information provided by the architects as part of qualification for LEED certification

Nestled among a mix of bungalows, two story traditional architecture, and the ever-present quirky, the new Heights residence at 711 East 19th Street blends with the flavor of the surrounding neighborhood, while still making its own statement. From the beginning, homeowners Darryl & Dawnia Willis dreamed of a home that was healthy, sustainable, efficient, and comfortable, while fitting into the community. With that said, they also wanted a home that was unique with a contemporary flare. 

As part of the effort to create a sustainable home, this Heights residence has been carefully designed and built to achieve a LEED certified rating. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide third-party verification and a concise framework for identifying and implementing sustainable design, construction and operations practices.

Key areas that LEED considers in its rating system are: water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, energy savings, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources. This rating and certification process creates an incentive to build in a more environmentally friendly manner. Homeowners and prospective buyers are assured that a house with a LEED certification outperforms traditionally constructed homes and can significantly increase the market value of a home. With a well integrated, holistic design approach and a committed team of homeowner, architect, builder, and a thirdparty LEED consultant, this home highlights that the means, methods, and benefits of achieving a LEED certification are readily accessible and affordable.

The implementation of this philosophy started with the preparation of the site. When the homeowners purchased the lot, it included a home not original to the site, at that time being used as rental property. Instead of tearing the home down, as so many people do, the homeowners found a buyer to move the home, update it, and repurpose it for low-income housing.

The livability and special features of this home buck the assumption of what most believed to be indicative of a green home, such as expensive energy systems, stark details, impersonal materials, and ugly solar contraptions. Instead, this home is a carefully planned balance between innovative materials, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and luxury appointments. One such innovative and sustainable material is a warm, dark colored wood called IpĂ© used for the front porch flooring. It is a Brazilian hardwood that is naturally immune to decay, insects, and mold and is fire-resistant. More notably, the wood originated from an FSC-certified supplier. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mandates and oversees the responsible management of forest harvesting. 

While the Energy Star rating system exceeds national energy codes by 10 to 15%, this home takes it a step further by substantially exceeding the Energy Star rating. This accomplishment is partly due to the radiant barrier applied to the roof decking. The barrier reduces heat gain and improves energy performance.

Behind the scenes, many steps were taken to ensure the house has greatly improved indoor air quality and ventilation. The home’s ventilation system has a dehumidification mode and dual air filters, with one located at each return air vent and the other at each air unit. During construction, all vents and duct openings were protected from dust with covers, and the air system will be run continuously for a 48-hour flush-out before the homeowners move in. The indoor air quality is also protected from the attached garage pollutants through a complete sealing of the wall from the foundation to the top of the wall. Other indoor air toxins such as dust, mold, mildew, and other allergens are greatly reduced by the homeowners’ choice not to use carpet.

Site elements implemented to support sustainability and efficiency include a high efficiency irrigation system, a permeable terrace, nontoxicpest control measures, and drought-tolerant turf.

Houston, it’s time to ‘green up.’ Interest is at an all-time high and the long-term benefits of green construction are proven. The successful planning and construction of this home proves that the ideas and concepts of building sustainable and green are not just for the homes on the fringe, but can be included in a well-appointed home for fine living.