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:

Goodreads
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, 29-95.com:
http://www.29-95.com/restaurants/story/uchi-tastes-perfection

Katharine Schilcutt, Houston Press:
http://www.houstonpress.com/2012-09-06/restaurants/uchi-sushi-houston/ 

Uchi
904 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77006
713-522-4808
Sun-Thurs 5-10
Fri-Sat 5-11




Monday, July 30, 2012

Houston Real Estate - tips for buying a home in Houston's inner loop

It may seem strange that, in these tough economic times, I'm writing about how fantastic Houston Real Estate is right now, but, then again, when has Houston ever been a follower? I've always considered this fabulous town to be a leader. The latest write-up in Forbes magazine is proof of Houston's ability not only to weather the storm during tough times, but, come out ahead!

With that being said, I feel it is necessary to give a heads up on buying in Houston today - particularly if you choose to buy inside the loop. Here's the scoop - things move quickly. This is especially true if you are one of a large number of buyers who is searching for the same house: a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage on a full sized lot with a yard, priced around $350K. This is the standard request I get from almost every first time home buyer looking to purchase inside 610. The inventory for this home is extremely low, and the demand is remarkably high. What does that mean? When one of these comes on the market, you will need to be prepared for a multiple offer scenario. You will also need to be prepared to place an offer on it the same day it hits the market, and, likely start your bid at full list price. For example, the houses I list have, for the most part, all gone "option pending" (meaning a contract has been executed) the first day they've hit the mls. This includes listings outside the loop - in Pearland, Friendswood, etc. - which shows that the upswing in buyer interest is not exclusive to the inner loop.

If a buyer is willing to sacrifice on certain criteria such as lot size, garage, number of bedrooms or baths, then it will open up options, and, perhaps level the playing field. If the criteria simply cannot be changed, then it would be a good idea either preparing to pay over list price, or purchasing a home that could use some work. Homes that have an odd layout or are in need of some tlc are typically priced a bit lower. Keep in mind, purchasing a home with an odd layout will likely affect its future resale value, as layouts are difficult, if not entirely impossible, to change. In that case, depending on time and budget constraints, considering the purchase of a home that fits all the requested criteria but is in need of some "refreshing" could be beneficial. Depending on what a homeowner does to spruce up the home, updates can increase the resale value. Also, if you are one of several bidding on an already updated home, then you could end up paying at the top of market value, or, in some cases, over market value, which means you could end up with the home you want right now, but a potentially difficult future resale.

If you find yourself in a multi-offer scenario, consider these options to make your offer more appealing:
  • Include a personal letter to the seller - you would be surprised by how often this can push a buyer ahead of the pack, especially if there are only a couple thousand dollars difference between offers.
  • Remove any requests for seller's contributions - in any scenario this is a negative, but it will especially work against you if you are up against other potential buyers.
  • Request a shorter closing date - in today's market, people will request 45-60 day closings. You can make your offer more appealing with a 30 day close.
  • Increase earnest money - The higher your earnest money offer is, the higher your risk. This shows the seller you are serious about the house.
  • Pay cash - this removes the lender required appraisal which is appealing to a seller, however, a cash purchase is not an option for most,
Most importantly, be prepared to move on if you lose the bid. Another house will always come along. Being emotionally tied to a home you are bidding on can put you in a particularly vulnerable position. Decide what is the absolute highest you are willing to pay for the property and stick to it.

Danelle Reed, ABS, GREEN
Martha Turner Properties

Friday, July 6, 2012

Houston's best Ann Taylor store

I have always appreciated it when I receive good service. If an establishment I frequent goes above and beyond to make my visit special, then I will absolutely be a loyal customer. I can tell you that Abby Coatsworth, an employee at the Ann Taylor store on West Grey, has made me a lifetime client of hers, as well as the store. She is friendly, always impeccably dressed, helpful and a smart sales-woman.

Here is Abby at the counter, isn't she adorable?


I visited the store on a few occasions trying to find the right outfit for a charity function. Abby went the extra mile to pick out a dress for me and then locate it at another store, in another state, and have it shipped to me in time for the function. She was spot-on in her choice of dress for the event. Since then, I've become a dedicated client. Abby will pull items she thinks I'll like because my size sells out quickly. She'll hold them for me and call me to come take a look and try them on. She remembers my clothes and tries to select items that compliment my wardrobe. She understands that my schedule is crazy and I don't have a lot of time to shop, which I appreciate. She doesn't pressure me in any way to buy the items, either. I feel very at ease with her. If I don't like it, it's no big deal. She has such a great eye for fashion and is so genuinely nice that I felt compelled to write about her.

Also, this particular Ann Taylor seems to have the widest selection of items in stock. If you like great service, stop by the Ann Taylor store on West Grey and ask for Abby Coatworth. You'll be happy you did!

Ann Taylor
1987 West Grey
Houston, TX 77019
(713)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday Harbour



I recently learned about Friday Harbour at a meeting for Houston Beer Week whose proceeds will benefit Live It Big: a non-profit that raises money for charities, one of which is Friday Harbour. This charity, in particular, holds a special place in my heart because I can identify with those whom it is assisting. My Father passed away from brain cancer 10 years ago. He was in Florida when he died, and when he was diagnosed, which made it difficult for myself and my sisters to physically be there for him. But, we did so as much as we could. His particular form of cancer made his time with us very short after diagnosis, because it was such an aggressive cancer. Thankfully, we all had the financial capacity to be there with him as much as possible before he died, but it was hard.

I cannot imagine what that would have been like if we didn't have the means to see him. It would have been terrible. There are so many families that stop their lives and set up temporary residence in Houston to be with loved ones who are being treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Cancer treatment is costly and can drain the resources of both the patient and their loved ones. Friday Harbour's mission is to "provide free temporary housing for cancer patients and their caregivers as they seek cancer treatment at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas." This is done through the support of hotels, corporate sponsors and individual donors. If you or someone you love has ever fought this disease, you can understand why this type of assistance is so meaningful and much needed.

Learn about Friday Harbour and how you can help.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thai Sticks Modern Thai Cuisine


I recently made a trip to a little place that I used to frequent, but hadn't been to in quite some time. That place is Thai Sticks on Montrose. I'm so glad I did! The food was as good as I had remembered. Also, because it's quiet and you can actually hear your other guest, it's a great restaurant to go to if you want to have a conversation with someone.

Here are some pics, taken from the Thai Sticks website, of the dining room and patio:



For an appetizer, we ordered spring rolls with peanut sauce. So good. The veggies in it were fresh and the sauce was one of the best peanut sauces I've had. Obviously I was enamored with it because I chose the chicken and veggies with peanut sauce as my entree. The chicken was tender and juicy and had no traces of weird fat or veiny stuff. Although, I think I actually preferred the sauce cold, as it was when I had it as a dip for my rolls. Either way, the whole meal was satisfying. I'd say the wine list leaves a little bit to be desired, but the food makes up for it, in my opinion.

Some of the dishes at Thai Sticks (pics are from their website):



Here are the deets:

Thai Sticks
4319 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, Tx. 77006

Phone: 713.529.4500
Fax: 713.529.3139
Email: info@thaistickshouston.com

Lunch:  Mon-Fri 11:00-2:30pm

Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5:00-10:30pm
              Fri & Sat. 5:00-11:30pm 

 
Sunday  5:00- 10:00pm

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Houston Botox, Houston Dermatology, Houston Spine Surgery

Houston Botox - Bella Rosa 

If you've read my blog at all you will know that for quite some time I have been unhappy about my wrinkled forehead. Thankfully, I have rectified the situation. I will say, without a doubt, the best experience I have had with Botox has been at the Bella Rosa Clinic (Dr. Mark Schusterman) with Nurse Practitioner, Melanie Frye. Trust me when I tell you that this clinic is amazing. I have had more than my fair share of Botox, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. My forehead can look like a Pug without it. Melanie does an amazing job of not only injecting it with little pain, but also making the final product last. And, I mean it lasts! Some places I have been to have given me wrinkle relief for only a month. With Melanie I can go almost 6 months before I need to have injections again. She is also incredibly sweet, friendly and is really knowledgeable. I feel very fortunate to have found this clinic. If you need Botox and are tired of paying an arm and a leg every other month, call the Bella Rosa Clinic (713-383-7672) today and make an appointment with Melanie.

Houston  Dermatology - Nigro Dermatology - Dr. Reena Jogi

I cannot recommend this place enough. They are so professional, courteous and Dr. Reena Jogi is amazing. I have been for medical and cosmetic appointments and each time Dr. Jogi has far exceeded my expectations. She is quite possibly the most personable doctor I've had the pleasure of meeting and she takes finances into consideration when she prescribes treatments. If you are looking for a Dermatologist call Dr. Jogi and make an appointment. Whether you have a weird mole, wrinkles, a crazy vein in your leg (not me, just giving suggestions...) or anything else skin related, Dr. Jogi can treat you and will do so while making you smile. Her nurse is pretty awesome too! To make an appointment call Nigro Dermatology at (713) 333-1770.

Methodist Neurosurgery And Spine Associates - Dr. J. Bob Blacklock

You might recall that I wrote about Dr. Blacklock a few years ago after my sister had a cervical fusion. I still stand by that review. Dr. Blacklock, in my opinion, is by far the best Neurosurgeon in Houston. I would not trust my family, nor myself, in the hands of anyone else. I've referred my mother, my sister and friends to him. I really hope that anyone who has ever been told they needed spine surgery will at least let Dr. Blacklock take a look at them. He is honest, will not do surgery unless it is absolutely needed, and is incredibly skilled. He has an amazing bedside manner and is an all-around genuine person. Call his office and speak to Kay for an appointment: (713) 441-3800.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Karen Steele's Red Carpet Party

Don't forget to buy your tickets today. This event sounds like a blast!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Karen Steele's Red Carpet Party

Looking for something fun to do that also helps out a great cause? Try the Karen Steele Red Carpet Party, organized by the Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation, and held at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Galleria on March 30.

The Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation was founded by Dr. Franklin Rose and his wife, Cindi Harwood Rose, in 2005. The foundation was founded after Cindi's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and was told she had only 3 months to live. That was 7 years ago and she is still going strong, however, the idea that more than 45 million Americans are without health insurance drove the Rose family to help those who have been diagnosed with this disease and cannot afford proper post-care. The Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation "provides free reconstructive surgery to post-cancer patients who are not able to afford health insurance".

Tickets are $125 and benefit the Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation. Reuel will perform live at the event at Saks. At the after-party Nashville country singer Allan Duhon will sing with award winning artist Kristine Mills at Deborah Colton Gallery at 9pm. Come on by, don your best duds and walk the red carpet with some of Hollywood's rising stars! Details can be found on the party's Facebook page.

This event is on the heels of another charitable event, Broadway Belts for Pulmonary Fibrosis, that benefited the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, which was founded by Dr. Rose's father, the late Albert Rose. Dr. Rose's brother, Daniel Rose, MD is the current head of the foundation.

Dr. Franklin Rose and Cindi Rose at the Broadway Belts for Pulmonary Fibrosis event with broadway star Andrew Rannels:
Photo Credit:  Chris Owyoung


Monday, February 27, 2012

Current obsessions

Here are some links to a few things I'm obsessed with right now. I can't help but think that if I love them then EVERYONE must love them, too. Right?

My new necklace my sister and her hubs bought for my birthday. It's just like the one in my most recent post that I loved from The New Adventures Of Old Christine:


These jeans (AG Adriano Goldschmied) I just ordered from Shopbop.com (funds courtesy of my mom for my b-day):


MAC's 'Ruby Woo' red lipstick (another b-day gift from a different sister, it was a good birthday):
This book (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) as well as the movie coming out that has been made based on it:


The Kate Spade 'Anchors Away' bracelet:
Mockingbird Bistro (some of the best food I've ever had)
My Michael Kors gold watch, also found at Shopbop.com
And, lastly, Hint of Sea Salt Almond Nut-Thins. I could eat only these for the rest of my life and I'd die happy.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Clemente Javier - Long hair specialist

There are many things I don't particularly like about myself: my wrinkled and currently un-botoxed forehead, my body (I'm a woman for pete's sake), my broken pinky and my inability to carry a tune, to name a few. My hair is not one of these things. Although, in the past I could not say that. My hair had always been a huge problem. It's thin, but I have a ton of it. It likes to frizz out as soon as moisture hits it and it never seems to fall properly in place. My views about my hair have changed drastically ever since I started going to long hair specialist, Clemente Javier.

As with most things I love, I found out about him through Twitter. And, I'm so glad I did! He has helped me to learn the best way to style my hair, protect and care for it, as well as help me to understand what looks best on me. Typically, when I visit a salon they cannot wait to grab the clippers and remove a foot off the length of my locks. I appreciate Clemente because he will cut the hair that's necessary to keep it healthy, but he will do his best to keep the length.

He also taught me what products are absolutely necessary versus trying to up-sell me on a product line that is expensive but useless. I cannot tell you how much I loathe the "up-sell" at salons. The fact that Clemente does not carry a line of products is a huge bonus for me. I never feel pressured to buy product and I know if he recommends one it isn't because a manager is staring at him intently to make a sale.

Here is a picture of my hair from my last trip to see him, I love this picture because I can honestly say I love my hair and I love my stylist :-) (taken with my iPhone, photo untouched, hair is highlighted):


Make an appointment with Clemente:
713.364.9551
clemente@clementejavier.comhttp://clementejavier.com/contact/

On a sidenote, here is a picture of a necklace that I have been obsessed with for over a year now. If you love the show "The New Adventures Of Old Christine" like I do, then certainly you are as much in love with this necklace as I am!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kroger carries Perfect Fit Meals and Trevor likes Arian Foster

Something fantastic has happened to our Kroger Signature stores in Houston, folks. They have started carrying Perfect Fit Meals! If you are like me and love the convenience of pre-packaged healthy meals, but hate the inconvenience of making a trip to the Perfect Fit Meals storefront and another trip to the grocery store for your produce, then you will be super excited about this. I know, the idea that I find making two trips to two different stores cumbersome totally reeks of laziness. I can't help it, I despise shopping (I do not carry the girl-shopping gene).

I have a few tips on food choices: The egg omelet? Go ahead and skip it. Not a good one. The chicken salad? So darn good. The jury is still out on the Vegetarian chili. I can't decide if I love it or hate it. The stackable enchiladas are pretty good as well. Keep in mind, it's healthy food. Please don't expect it to taste like Chuy's.

I believe, based on my conversation with one of the Perfect Fit Meals employees, that they are rolling this out to a new Kroger Signature store each week. I know it's currently at the Kroger on 11th/Shepherd in the Heights, on West Gray and on Westheimer/Voss.

Here is a picture of the Chicken Salad I love...Keep in mind, some of it is missing...oops! If you look below it, I tried to include some of the tag so you could see the nutritional info and how their meals are labelled.



And, here is a picture of it next to the Caribbean style beef filet kebobs. I haven't tried that one yet, but you get the idea. These pictures should give you an idea of portion sizes.

The cost averages out to about $7-$8 a meal. I buy them to take with me to work once or twice a week.

Now, for my favorite part of this post. I was with my sweet nephew Trevor at Chuck E Cheese a few weeks ago and I asked him who his favorite football player was and why. Thankfully, I had my camera phone turned on. He loves Arian Foster (who doesn't?), but his reasoning might be different than most. It's so cute, although I wish he'd not explained his adoration for the football player while eating a mouthful of pizza...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Haven Restaurant and SNL's Weekend Update

 
There are two things I love dearly, food and SNL's Weekend Update. Therefore, I've decided to combine both in one post!

Recently, I dined at Haven with my good friend, Catherine Couturier (owner of John Cleary Gallery). Actually, I've been there with her twice and both times were amazing. We visited Haven during lunch and I was surprised to see how affordable the menu was for what I consider to be an upscale restaurant. Chef Randy Evans has put together a delicious menu "using the freshest local ingredients...with food that reflects the flavors of the Lone Star State". I can't think of a better way to describe it! From the deviled eggs to the gulf fish, every item on the menu has been thoughtfully prepared and cooked to perfection. While you're there, stop by the bar and say "Hi" to Adrienne. She's the best and goes out of her way to make you enjoy your visit.

Shrimp Corndog:



Haven Restaurant:





Haven Restaurant
713-581-6101
2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX 77098
M-F 11am-10pm
Sat 5pm-11pm
Sun 11am-2pm

***Logo and images taken from Haven website***

Lastly, I adore SNL's Weekend Update and I've been meaning to post my favorite one for awhile now. I know that there is always controversy surrounding Alec Baldwin, but I don't care. I love his imitation of Tony Bennett so much. This keeps me laughing all day:


From NAR: Homeowner's Insurance Annual Check-up

Here is a great article that outlines how you might be able to save money on your homeowner's policy:

Homeowners Insurance: Time for an Annual Check-Up

Published: August 28, 2009
An annual check-up on your homeowners insurance can result in a healthier policy and a healthier pocketbook.
What type of coverage do I have?
The most effective type of coverage is known as “replacement cost,” which covers, up to your policy limits, what it would take today to rebuild your house and restore your belongings, says Jerry Oshinsky, a partner at Jenner & Block in Los Angeles who has represented homeowners in litigation against insurers.
“Extended” replacement cost coverage provides protection to your policy limit, say $500,000, and then perhaps another 20% of the cost after that. Percentages vary, but in this example you could recoup up to $600,000 on a $500,000 policy, assuming your losses reach that high. Extended coverage can compensate for any unanticipated expenses like spikes in construction costs between policy renewals. Now harder to find due to the industry shift toward extended replacement coverage, “full” or “guaranteed” replacement coverage covers an entire claim regardless of policy limits.
A less attractive alternative is “actual cash value” coverage that usually takes into account depreciation, the decrease in value due to age and wear. With this type of policy, the $2,000 flat-screen TV you bought two years ago will be worth hundreds of dollars less today in the eyes of your claims adjuster. Kevin Foley, an independent insurance broker in Milltown, N.J., favors replacement cost coverage unless you can save at least 25% on the premium for going with actual cash value coverage instead.
Even if you have replacement cost protection for your dwelling and personal property, don’t assume everything is covered. Structures other than your home on your property—such as a detached garage or swimming pool—require separate coverage. So too do luxury items like jewelry, watches, and furs if you want full replacement cost because reimbursement for those items is typically capped.
How much coverage do I really need?
OK, now that you’re clear on what type of policy you have, you need to figure out how much policy you truly require in dollar terms. Let’s say you purchased your home five years ago and insured it for $200,000. Today, it’s worth $225,000. Simply increasing your coverage to $225,000 may nonetheless leave you underinsured. Here’s why.
The key to determining how much dwelling coverage you need isn’t the value of your home but the money you’d have to pay to rebuild it from scratch, says Carlos Aguirre, an agent for Liberty Mutual Insurance in Arlington, Texas. Call your local contractors’ or homebuilders’ association and inquire about the average per-square-foot construction cost in your area. If it’s $150 and your home is 2,000 square feet, then you should be insured for $300,000.
There’s no rule of thumb for how much your homeowners insurance should cost. Insurers use numerous factors—age, education level, creditworthiness—to determine pricing, so the same policy could run you more than your neighbor. In recent years the average annual premium was $804. Oshinsky advises against scrimping on insurance because big increases in coverage probably cost less than you’d think. He recently purchased a liability policy that cost $250 for the first $1 million in coverage. Adding another $1 million increased his premiums only $12.50 more.
How can I lower my premiums?
The higher your deductible, the amount you pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in, the lower your premium. Landing on the appropriate deductible level requires remembering that insurance should cover major calamities, not minor incidents, says Foley, the independent insurance broker. Most homeowners should be able to absorb modest losses like a broken window pane or a hole in the drywall without filing claims. If you can, then you’re wasting money with a $250 deductible.
Foley’s rule: If you’re a first-time homeowner and don’t have a lot of savings, moving up to a $500 deductible will probably stretch your budget. However, if you live in a ritzy home and drive an expensive car, then you should be able to afford a $1,000 deductible. In Milltown, N.J., for example, the premium for a $200,000 home with a $500 deductible would be $736, according to Foley; moving up to a $1,000 deductible drops the annual premium to $672. That's $64 in savings.
Every major insurer offers discounts to various groups, such as university employees or firefighters. Figure about 5%. Ask which affiliations would entitle you to a discount and how much. If an AARP membership would result in a $50 savings, pay the $16 dues and pocket the $36 difference. Many insurers also offer discounts ranging from 1% to 10% or more for installing protective devices like alarms and deadbolt locks, for going claim-free for an extended period, or for insuring both your car and your home with the same carrier.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Material Girls

One of my newest obsessions is Pinterest. Actually, this is a growing obsession for many (mostly woman). I have found so many cool new blogs through Pinterest, most notably my new favorite design and lifestly blog, Material Girls.

Material Girls focuses on all things beautiful in a range from affordable to outrageous. The blog has different authors from different cities including Houston. Lauren Haskett, founder and managing editor of Material Girls is also the Houston contributor and she is fantastic. She is a great design resource and I read her blog religiously.

Here are a couple of pics of her baby's first birthday party. I love how she incorporates design into her personal life and shares it with her readers:



And what a cute way to store presents as a showpiece during the festivities:


Hop over to the Material Girls today and let me know what you think. You won't be disappointed!