Houston Press Artopia® 1.30.2016

Disclosure: sponsored post.  All opinions are my own. 

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This Saturday, January 30th Houston Press will be hosting their 8th annual Artopia! Artopia is a celebration of Houston Culture & Art that incorporates food, drink, art, music and fashion into one evening. This one-night fete celebrates the exciting, vibrant Cultural scene in Houston. It’s a sensory overload full of culture, fashion, visual arts, performing arts and so much more.

It’s an event with a cause as the Houston Press is awarding local artists with monetary grants for service to the Arts and the Community. These individuals were chosen from a panel of local cultural denizens, philanthropists and community-organizers. Houston Press will donate over $6,000 in grants to our Mastermind Awards winners.  The winners will be featured as the Cover Story on the Houston Press, and will be honored at the event on January 30th.    

Tickets On Sale Now at ticketfly.com

General Admission:
Includes Food, Wine & Beer & Cocktail Sampling Plus Entertainment

Jumper Maybach VIP Admission:
Ticket includes entry into the event, complimentary valet, access to the VIP Lounge with seating and private bar, food sampling, as well as access to all general admission areas and entertainment. Presented by Jumper Maybach

Featured Artists:
Fab D’aroma, Jim Hudek, Katherin Mason, Marco Torres, Nicole Gavin, Sergio Garcia Rill AND MUCH MORE!

Fashion Shows:
ModChic | Pardon My Fash-Uhn | Samo Dinero I Chester Roberts
Models Provided by: Neal Hamil Agency

Live Performances:
Catch Fever, Say Girl Say, Gio Chamba

Complimentary Food Provided by:
BB’s Café, Cumbia Coffee, Pollo Tropical, dgn Factory, KUU, The Tipsy Dessert Bar, Harvest Organic Grille, Cajun Shop, Eculent and MORE.

Check out last year’s Artopia video

All Guests must be 21+, with a Valid I.D.

More information at houstonpressartopia.com

I am incredibly excited to celebrate Houston’s artistic niche with Houston Press! Make sure to stop by to say hello and use the hashtag #ArtopiaHOU so we can all see your awesome pics! Thank you for stopping by!

Love,
Sirene

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The Sunflower Bakery & Café- The Sunflower of Galveston

Little gem in Galveston, Texas! The Sunflower Bakery & Cafe

Recently, my boyfriend and I had the opportunity to brunch at the delightful Sunflower Bakery & Café, located on Galveston Island.  We were in G-town for one of my dear friend’s wedding (beautiful wedding, btw), and being the opportunists we are, we made the event a mini get away for us.

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Look at all those goodies!

We live in Houston, so naturally we have been to Galveston often, but never on a staycation. We both know of Galveston’s gastro reputation; we know there are plenty of big chain restaurants, as well as local gems, such is the Sunflower Bakery & Café.  The bakery/ café was established in 1999 (rebuilt in 2008 due to IKE) and has been serving fresh food created from scratch ever since. They take pride in making and baking all of their menu items from scratch, and specialize in making their dishes and desserts using local and seasonal ingredients.

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Sunflowers every where!
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Their own pancake mix! Yum!
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Sunflower Granola Mix

The experience:
When we walked in to the restaurant, I was a bit confused because there’s the restaurant sitting on the right side and a cool small shop on the left side- the Bacon Farm. This small, unique shop carries all kinds of cool stuff! Anything from antiques, to furniture, to great collectibles.  Nevertheless, after some re-orientation, we were welcomed by the hostess who proceeded to sit us right away. We were fortunate to get a table in front of the dessert pantry.  Like kids in the proverbial candy store, we were both gawking over the pastries tugging at our eyes and hearts. Soon enough, we were greeted by our polite and agreeable server, Serghei, who was very knowledgeable about the restaurant.

One of the things my boyfriend and I pay close attention to when visiting a restaurant for the first time is the menu selection. If a restaurant has one too many items on their menu, it makes us wonder what can they cook really well, since they have so many dishes to focus on and prepare “well”.  Can they focus on cooking all dishes deliciously without having a few of them being cooked half-heartedly? What is their specialty dish when they have so many dishes on their menu?  Not to our surprise, the Sunflower had a good handful of items in their brunch menu: not too many, not too few. And they are all brunch-relatable items that align with the culture of the restaurant- A cozy, home-cooking type of place.

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One of the sweets pantries.

Our food:
We ordered the Big Breakfast and the Eggs Benedict. Both dishes were served in a timely manner, they were both very delicious, and were both hot and right out of the kitchen onto a plate. The Big Breakfast included freshly made pancakes from the Sunflower’s own pancake recipe. I personally don’t fancy pancakes much, but my boyfriend does. Let me tell you, he was in pancake heaven. The pancakes were steaming, soft, and cooked thoroughly. Not to mention they tasted delicious. He claims they make Le Peep pancakes…weep, and IHOP pancakes drown in their own syrupy sorrow.  Our Eggs Benedict was worthy of a Michelin star (if Michelin ever gave stars for breakfast); eggs perfectly poached and the sauce culled from the Hollandaise gods. The coffee was proper and so fresh; a perfect accompaniment to our perfect breakfast foods.

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Eggs Benedict, Big Breakfast & Coffee
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Season greetings
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Life really is SWEET!

Over all:
We loved The Sunflower Bakery and Café! For as long as it’s been in operation, my boyfriend and I couldn’t believe we hadn’t made the trip to dine there sooner. It’s evident that they care about who they hire and what they cook. The food was peerless, coffee was spot-on, and customer service was 5 stars.- thanks Serghei!  The Sunflower Bakery & Café is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny seaside brunch whether you’re a flip-flopped, vapin’ bohemian or a hungry hungover sailor.  We encourage all Texas visitors to make the trip to dine here, you will not be disappointed!

Till next time!

love,
Sirene

The Art of Gifting This Holiday Season

Five suggestions to a more thoughtful gift.

I think we all have that ONE family member that we don’t know what to buy for during Christmas. Yea, stores will suggest tons of ideas for gift giving, but let’s face it, they just want you to spend money on their store… makes sense. Besides, that flashy reindeer sweater Macy’s is pawning off on you is one even uncle Fred wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.

Unfortunately, you can only give someone that same paisley scarf X amount of Christmases in a row. Same goes for wallets, purses, shoes, etc. I think Christmas shopping is a bit more difficult because you are shopping for your entire family, not only one person.  Of course you don’t want to give the same gift to two different people. I am very lucky that I have a tiny family (five people + pets). But for those of you who have 10-30 family members to shop for (bless your heart.. and your pocket), buying gifts can be stressful. Even if you have a small family, gift shopping can get complicated if you don’t do your research. Let’s check out these gift giving strategies that might make Christmas gift giving a bit easier and more fun!

My mother’s handmade “Santa & Friends” wall decor

1. Utilize conversation/text topics/Facebook stalk:
Think about an ongoing theme in conversations or text threads you may have with that person. Sometimes an inside joke said in a text can turn into a great gift idea. Also, I am sure if you are considering getting a Christmas present for someone, you are more than likely their Facebook friend. When it comes to gift giving, you gotta get creative and maybe a do a little bit of FB stalking. This is something I have done before in order to pick up on someone’s interests. Here’s how: 1. Look into the pages that they like. 2. Match those page likings with their FB feed. Remember, FB feeds are constantly updated with someone’s latest topics of interests. Page likes? Not so much. But if you find a topic on a person’s “liked pages” and also on their fb wall, then you know that person is genuinely interested in that one thing. Also, you can always have one of their FB pictures printed onto a mug/t-shirt or simply frame it.

2. Peek in to their bedroom
This one only applies if you know the person closely. Lol. Not if you’re shopping for a co-worker or something like that. Also, when I say peek into their bedroom, I don’t mean psycho-search their bedroom lol. All I say is to look around for maybe movies laying around, posters, records, work out gear, or any undergoing theme. If this person has a set of movies of a certain genre, you may gift him/her a new movie of the same genre or a missing movie from a trilogy. P.S. If you are shopping for a co-worker, look at their desk. What are some things he/she has hanging around? Do they like stationary items? Do they have a plant in their desk?

3. Ask them to put together a Christmas list of 10 items:
Okay, if all comes to worse, have the person put a Christmas list together of the things he/she needs/wants. My family and I started doing this last year and it make Christmas shopping a lot easier. You know you’re getting the person something they want or need. The only disadvantage of this “tip” is that it takes away the element of surprise. That doesn’t mean you can’t put your twist on an item though. If someone asks for, let’s say, a pair of shoes, you can order a pair of socks with pictures/relatable quotes imprinted on them to go with the shoes.

4. Gift a want, not a need:
These are things that people talk about, but won’t ever buy for themselves because they feel morally obligated not to purchase something they don’t need. How do you pick up on a cue of what that “want” may be? Refer to suggestion 1.

55. Pick a special moment with that person and bring it to life:
That one is self-explanatory. But here is an example: During one of my favorite shows, “The Office”, Jim gives Pam a tea pot full of little gifts: a year book picture, a hot sauce package, a small pencil, among other things. All of those little trinkets mean something to Jim and Pam. In the same way, you can pick something as random as socks, and stick little trinkets in them that remind you of certain inside jokes or special events you and that person shared.

Some may say these “tips” may require too much work or are a little bit “too much”. I say that if you’re gonna gift someone something, might as well do it with care and with love. After all, Christmas is the time to give. I am sure that even if a gift isn’t considered “thoughtful” by you, it will still be meaningful to the other person. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Happy Holidays, beautiful people!

Love,
Sirene

Chimney Decor

Minority Owned Business Summit by Verizon

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored event.

On Tuesday November 17, 2015 Verizon Wireless held their first and only Small Business Summit in Houston for 2015 at JW Marriot Hotel in Westheimer – and it was an awesome gathering indeed!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Houston leads the nation in generating non-farm employment in the nation! With that in mind, small businesses must have a clear understanding of how to achieve profitable outcomes through their endeavors while also inspiring employees to uphold their companies’ core values- Especially in such a multicultural city such as Houston.

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Verizon gathered a handful of successful business professionals who have been in the “business owner” game for years and who have gone through trials and tribulations in order to be where they are today. We had the opportunity to listen to Linda Alvarado, president & CEO of Alvarado Construction and Co-Owner of The Colorado Rockies. The only word I can think of to describe her and her words to us that day is extraordinary. Linda talked about being a business woman in an industry dominated by men. One of the things she talked about that struck me was something her parents said to her as young girl- “don’t let your heritage define you”. I believe that being a woman is part of my heritage, as it is for her because she is a woman. In an industry that is primarily dominated by men, she did not let her femininity or Latin roots get in the way of her success and determination, she never “looked for excuses” but found reasons to succeed.

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Alvarado’s speech was followed by the minority-owned businesses panel that included Emilio Gonzalez- Executive Director For Strategic Alliances at Verizon, Alex Davidson-CEO at Securranty, Carol Guess- General Counsel at The Guess Group, Inc., Alex Lopez Negrete- President/CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications, Laura Oldaker- CEO/Executive Director at By Your Side Senior Care, and Nelson Reyneri- Senior Vice President, Sales & External Affairs at Liberty Power Corporation. All of these leaders shared insight and anecdotes about starting and maintaining their own businesses. The recurring theme throughout all of their experiences was to “do good business”.  As Mr. Negrete inferred, it is important that business owners are driven by a “higher order” or “higher reason” to be in business- that is to do good business. Big or small, any business must align with their core values. When the business takes on a new business partner or client, “if the conversation is about growth, then you become a different type of partner”, says Mr. Lopez Negrete. It’s all about building relationships and genuinely offering a two-way-street business with clients.

Last but not least, we talked about blogging and social media. This was also one of my favorite parts of the summit because, hello, new blogger over here! lol. I was delighted to meet and listen to Eric Tung, Byrdie Franco, and Monica Vila who are all blogging gurus and know what works best for bloggers and for business who maintain blogs. Blogging enables your business to build trust and adds value to your brand. The beauty about blogging and social media is that it’s almost like the nucleus of the business cell. Blogging and social media allows the blogger and the audience/customers to be “friends” and share a conversation. This is crucial for any business because at the end of the day, you want to treat your clients like a person/friend, not just a cash opportunity.

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As a new blogger, I am always looking for tips and tricks on how to better improve my blog. Eric Tung gave a great tip that I would have never thought of: When you want to write a blog on a topic, but don’t know where to start, google questions that you may be asked in the future about that topic. This is a great tip because 1. it will improve traffic to a blog post and 2. it makes the blogging experience an easier one by unlocking lots of questions about one topic- meaning I won’t be stricken with writers block. lol

In a city where diversity is part of its charm, it is vital for Houston small business owners to consider themselves as part of the Latino community. I am very content and vitalized with Verizon’s Small Business Summit because it enhanced the importance and the necessity to address the Latino market through an amazing, inspiring handful of multicultural speakers. Thank you, Verizon!

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Did I mention we had amazing food? Here’s a snap of the dessert by Jihane Rodriguez

Thoughts? Share bellow! or share them on my Instagram at @sireneworld!

Thank you for stopping by,

Love,
Sirene

More beautiful than scary, Mt. Raineir

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Mount Raineir is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range in Washington. This 14,400+ Ft. tall, active mountain is one of the world’s most massive volcanoes. Although this may be the main attraction in Mount Raineir National park, it is hardly the only one. The park is filled with fields of wildflowers and wildlife. We spotted three deer within a few feet from us as well as different species of birds and a pool of tadpoles (and yes, i became extremely excited to see animals i can other wise find here, in Houston). May I also add that the smell of this place is magnificent. It’s a combination of floral, rainy, icy, warm and piney scents within each breath. Simple, pure, raw and clean.

As I stood right in front of this place, I repeatedly said how it felt like a gorgeous, well-done wallpaper behind all the pine trees. The beauty of this place is breath taking and dreamlike. Enjoy the photos!

-Sirene

About Me

 

Hi everyone! Thank you for popping in! 😀

I am Laura Irene and I am a native Tica! PURA VIDA! I moved to the USA 16 years ago and I am happy I have the opportunity to live the way I do today in a really cool city, Houston! 😀

The purpose of my blog is to help others identify the essential in their daily lives through my thoughts and experiences. My goal is to encourage people to seek experiences to identify what is essential to their lives.

Sireneworld.com started as an outlet to talk about my adventures, curiosities, and everything in between. However, it has evolved into an outlet to help individuals find what’s essential to their daily lives. Through this lifestyle blog, I aim to identify what modern day essentialism is for any person who wants to live an adventurous life filled with experiences that make them happy.

Welcome to Sirene World! Where we seek adventure in modern-day essentialism.

Questions? Email me: sireneworldblog@gmail.com!

Stay groovy!
Sirene

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high-quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”- Linda Breen Pierce

The Pie Goddess

If you are ever in Enumclaw, WA, you must make a quick stop by The Pie Goddess! The pies were home-made tasting, fresh, and reasonably priced considering each slice of pie can feed up to three people. Customer service was friendly and fast.  Everything about this bakery makes it a fun place to stop by. They have fun little trinkets too! From pies, to raw honey, to book bags with with their The Pie Goddess logo. I made sure to stuff my face with pie and take several small souvenirs home.

Strawberry Rhubarb & Coconut cream pie
Strawberry Rhubarb & Coconut Cream pie
Fixes everything
Fixes everything
Did you know?
Did you know?
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Enough is when you run out of pie!

-Sirene