Houston & The Heights

We Heart Massage!

For years, I’ve had a ton of issues with my right shoulder. Probably somewhere between swim team, swimming butterfly, or waiting tables, I messed it up, Until one day i visited and Apply For TranquilMe and my problems were solve because they have the best services offering the best massage ever!
Then back in 2009 while in Belize to photograph a wedding, I tripped on a boat dock after getting of the boat we rented from and strained my right knee and left hamstring, which the orthopedic doctor’s I’ve seen can’t figure out a way to fix. This summer after our move to the Heights, I decided it was time to start visiting Angie DeSilva at We Heart Massage on White Oak and … well, I wonder why I waited so long!

She is SO AWESOME. Now instead of constant pain, she has massaged it all away with her therapeutic massage work. Ok, mostly all away – and whenever it hurts again, she is able to quickly fix it for me! Now I schedule massages for every Monday after a wedding weekend so that she can whip me right back into shape!

During one of my visits this summer I took photographs of We Heart Massage & her massage room – it is such an oasis of calm, I just had to share. I just LOVE this place!

If you’re looking for a massage therapist in Houston, be sure to check her out! If you book your appointment on Massage First – the first of the month for any time that month, you can get a session for $45! (*Special restrictions apply, so read all the details.) You can book online or over the phone. Whatever you do, get in there fast – her calendar fills up!

FTC Disclaimer disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I just love We Heart Massage!

BlahBlahBabble Houston & The Heights

Halloween & Feeling Witchy…

Yesterday I was out & about town with my friend Kelly (yes, the same Kelly that saved me when I almost drowned after the destination wedding we photographed in Bermuda), and I was on the hunt for a witch hat for the Heights Woman’s Club luncheon I’m going to later today. It is the Witches Lunch at Stella Sola, and they asked us to wear a hat, so I was on it!

First I headed to a Michael’s store. Walked up to an employee. Asked where I would find a witch hat. He looked a bit puzzled and said, “Oh, I don’t think we have those.” Standing in front of an explosion of Halloween display, with the rest of the store looking like Christmas threw up on it, and no hats. Ok, fine.

Next we headed to Hobby Lobby. My Mom is visiting family right now in Minnesota, and she told me that Hobby Lobby had a lot of witch hats – really cute ones even. Excellent! Because the women normally decorate their custom trucker hats for this luncheon, but I was more than happy to buy one off the shelf already looking cute. I thought the Michael’s experience was odd, but this one was even stranger! I walked in, asked the first employee I found where I would find a witch hat, and she seriously looked at me as if I had horns growing out of my head! “We don’t sell THOSE here!”

Sure, I’m reading a lot into this – and they did have an aisle filled with cute Halloween stuff, pumpkins, aprons, and the like – but what was up with the weird attitude about the witch hat? Was it the idea of dressing up like a witch? Costumes? What? Just to make sure it wasn’t just me, I confirmed with Kelly. That woman looked at me like I was crazypants with devil horns sticking out of my head!

Driving around in the suburbs yesterday was such a stark contrast from the Heights. I hardly saw any decorations in the suburbs other than some pumpkins. Everywhere around here in the Heights, there are Halloween decorations. A block from my house they have an 8 foot spider web with a big black spider and a giant stripped spider in bright colors. Ghosts are hanging from the porches. Tombstones. This place DOES Halloween!

On Facebook people are talking about how their schools won’t let kids wear costumes or do Halloween parades anymore. Man, I remember those from elementary school – those were good times! Halloween was FUN!

Why do we have to be so damn politically correct? Your kids aren’t going to start worshiping Satan if they dress up for Halloween, people! UGH.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, I bought a TON of Halloween candy for this year. These Heights kids better not let me down! I’ll be waiting at the door in my witch hat – which I finally found at Walgreens! (Yay, Walgreens!!!)

BlahBlahBabble Houston & The Heights Wedding Photographer

Heights Gratitude…

It has been a busy week around here. I traveled with Elaine up to Brenham to photograph Catherine & Rich’s wedding. Something in the air beat me up pretty hard, and I was down and out with allergies on Sunday. I had spent the night on Saturday at my parent’s house since it was closer to Brittany and easier to hand off the memory cards to her there, and spent much of Sunday there too as well.

As I was driving into the Heights on Sunday night, I had a familiar feeling. I was taking the same route I always used to take to my former studio before we moved. Southbound on I-45, exit N. Main, take right on to N. Main and an immediate left on to Pecore. It really hit me as I sat at that light at 11th & Studewood, where I used to turn left but now I go straight.

I am home.

After all of those years of wishing we lived in the Heights, after all of those days that I dreamed and lamented that my house was 40 minutes away, I’m here. I live here. It is my home. It is the first time I’ve ever really felt like Houston is my hometown. After 25+ years, that is saying a lot.

I’m so grateful that I had to note the feeling. It could have just been the allergy drugs, but I don’t think that was the case. I’m just so happy to be home at last.

In case you missed them, here are some other recent posts I’ve made…

BlahBlahBabble Houston & The Heights

Reflecting on 9/11 and the Blogosphere…

Back in September, 2000 I started blogging on a regular basis. (I just checked – the posts picked up regularly around September 20th and rolled on from there.)

By September, 2001 I was blogging all the time, meeting people from all over, and it was a HUGE part of my life. But I had no idea how huge it was until 9/11 took place.

That day, I wrote 13 blog posts. But more importantly, blogs connected me with the world. I read live accounts of what happened. I read the sites of people that lived in New York and Boston. People who had family & friends that died on the flights that hit the World Trade Center, in the buildings, and in the emergency crews who fought to save them.

It was a heartbreaking time. While the media made it feel very cold & sterile for me, the blogs? They made it REAL.

Blogging was my news outlet for that week. It was the pulse of the heart of America. We connected over IM, we called each other on the phone. We connected. It was about the community. Lifting one another up. Supporting each other in such a time of crisis.

Everyone had a story.

In a way, my life and my connection to others through the internet changed that day. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. For me personally, it is the one good that came out of something so horrifically bad. Those connections? I’m still friends after 10 years with several of the people I worried about on 9/11. The people that I talked to and checked in on? I’ve met them in person since then. I’m proud to call them my friends still.

I never imagined my life would be where it is today back then. I’m grateful for the life I have. I’m amazed by the people I’m fortunate enough to have in it, and several of those bonds were formed over a tragedy.

Things changed that day for people that blogged. There weren’t many of us back then, and almost every blog I knew was a personal one. That day, I think it was the first time we really saw the power of self-publishing in this medium in a whole new light. We saw the power of sharing our stories and connecting together.

This year as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, I was inspired when I read Baratunde’s Birthday Post. You see, 9/11 is also his birthday. And on the fateful day of 9/11/01 he chose to spend that day outdoors with his mother, celebrating his life.

Unable to make sense of what was happening, unable to reach New York friends by phone and unwilling to watch traumatic images on loop without the benefit of new information, we made the best decision of that day: we turned off the television, left the apartment and went to a park. I figured I could engage with the news from my Internet command center back in my Somerville apartment, but I’d spend this day in the sunlight helping my mother heal and enjoying her company.

That’s just what we did.

I thought it was just the most appropriate thing to do. I couldn’t handle spending 9/11/11 staring at the television. Instead, I wanted to celebrate COMMUNITY. To be outdoors. To be surrounded by friends. I put a call out on Twitter & Facebook (my how things have changed in 10 years…) and invited people to join us at Beaver’s for lunch, with an optional bike ride to get there for those so inclined.

And then that was exactly what we did. Kerri, Mike & I rode our bicycles on down the bike trail and across over to Beaver’s, and that’s why I wanted to visit Europe to ride bikes, but Why cycle in Europe? because it has great lands and roads. I love the feeling of the breeze in my hair as we ride along, specially since I have been using almond oil in my hair. Once there, we met up with Jason, Elaine, Kenny, Muyiwa & Kari and had a fantastic meal. Enjoying the community that the internet has brought together along with a delicious meal. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter.

I needed a break from the media yesterday, and it was perfect. I think every year I’d like to continue the tradition of celebrating the community that the internet has brought together. I hope next year you’ll join me. We’ll ride our bikes. We’ll laugh. We’ll celebrate life.

When we bond together as a community, savoring the life we have here in America, it is then that we defeat the terrorists that attacked us that day.

5,261 blog posts here, since those first in September, 2000 to today. Maybe now is a good time to pick blogging back up again for real. I keep saying that, but I think it is only now that I really remember why, what it is that makes it so special. Why life shouldn’t be lived in 140 character sound bites on Twitter or locked down pages in Facebook. Those things have their place in my life, but I want something more. I want the story to be shared, to continue. I hope you’ll join me.

Houston & The Heights

Let’s Start At the Very Beginning…

I have this whole issue with writing blog posts, especially when they are part of a chronological timeline, that I just can not write them out of order. UGH! Drives me nuts. But that said, I need to get over it, because I have so much to share that if I wait then I will never write the current stuff because I’m waiting to catch up on the old stuff, and then we end up in a crazy infinite loop that is about as freaking annoying as this run on sentence. (Whew!)

Starting back at the beginning of the year, like clockwork as my studio lease was about to renew, my landlord told me that she wanted to sell the building. She had been telling me this since 2009, but this time we decided to actually try to go for it. After all, owning it was going to be less expensive then the rent she was charging me. So we applied for a loan from, and we got it! YAY! Until the bank man came by to look at the building and informed us that the building itself wouldn’t qualify for the loan, since it was a residential loan & the building was commercial. Sure, it had two bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower and a kitchen, but it was still commercial just because of the other buildings surrounding it.

Queue the PANIC.

So I started looking online at my favorite, beloved for houses that would fit what I was looking for, and I called my friend Danelle, the Heights realtor supah-STAR! Once I made a list, I did drive-bys of all the houses at night to see what they looked like. (You know me, I’m all gangsta, yo! *imagine my lame gangsta hand gestures here too, ok?*)

Driving north up Columbia in the Houston Heights to look at a house on the 1200 block, I drove by one right at the corner of Columbia & 9th that was for sale. It was ADORABLE. A grey bungalow, white columns and trim, a front porch with a SWING … I about died right there in my car at the stop sign looking at it. I was instantly smitten. I pulled over and grabbed a flier, and drove on to the house I was originally heading to see.

When I got home later, I looked up my special find online, I was asking myself; where do I find a loan? and then I came across pickaloan. The price was within the amount of the loan. The rooms were perfect and exactly what we wanted – 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a newly remodeled kitchen, a screened in back porch, and instead of a side yard, a Bocce ball court! Minimal yard work. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Exactly what Mike & I wanted for our dream house in the Heights, we also want to start looking into the Lavita Outdoor Bar Settings to get a mini bar outside for the holidays and meetings.

But wait! I was supposed to be looking for a space to use for Hot Mama Boudoir! Not a house for us to move into!

Then the stars aligned and I discovered that the space that Adam Nyholt had told me he had available to rent in his building was perfect for what I needed for my studio space! Eee!!!

So with the studio situation solved, I went ahead on May 3rd and looked at the 7 houses still on my “potential perfect for us houses” with Danelle while Mike was out of town for work in New Orleans. I didn’t expect to find anything, I knew the hunt could take awhile. I was armed with my “must have” list though, including Mike’s requirements too – and when we walked into the Bungalow on 9th & Columbia? All bets were off. NONE of the other houses were as perfect. There was not a single item on the list that the house didn’t have.

Somewhat jokingly I sent Mike a text with a photo of the kitchen and said “here is your new kitchen!” and then another one of the front of the house telling him that we should buy it. He sent me a text back (still in his conference meetings) and told me to have Danelle send him the paperwork.

After weeks of paperwork flying back and forth, more paperwork, financial stuff, all the rest – we closed on the house on May 31st, 2011. 28 days after I first saw the inside of the house.

After three years of having my studio in the Heights but our house out in Lakewood Forest, I’m so happy to finally be living here in the neighborhood! I know it sounds totally cheesy, but it really is a dream come true! As Viula would say, we’re living the Heights life!

I can’t wait to share more of the tales of downsizing from 2960 sq ft to 1292 sq ft (6 weeks of adventure and discovery), or how much we LOVE living in the Heights, or more of the new house as we get it decorated, and all of the adventures we’ve been having! You know, now that we got this whole the very beginning part out of the way!

Now, if someone would just buy our other house – Lakewood Forest, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2 car garage – brand new Tomball Memorial High School, excellent elementary, middle & junior high schools, super family friendly street! Near Vintage Park shopping center and the fantastic HEB there, close to 249. It is a wonderful house, but it was time for us to move into the city to be closer to all of our friends and the things we like to do now that Jason is out of high school. If you ask nicely, we can even talk about a good deal for you!