Author / Al Stevens

Community

Getting Ready to go Back to School

Summer break is winding down in most school districts, and Darling Homes’ residents in Dallas and Houston communities are preparing their children to go back to school for the year.  

From getting ready to do homework to preparing for early mornings, the school year can bring big changes in the daily routine for all of your loved ones, but PBS offers a series of tips and tricks that can help everyone feel prepared for the new schedule.

Think Ahead

Meeting the teacher, touring the school, getting any necessary books and school supplies ahead of time is a great place for students to start.

Go Shopping

From pencils and notebooks to textbooks and locker decor, each child’s school list will vary depending on the school, grade and specific classes. Setting aside time for a shopping trip is a fantastic way to meet individual needs before the semester starts.

In addition, shopping for nutritious snacks, signing up for extracurricular activities and planning ahead for difficult classes or subjects can make a large difference heading into a new year.

Another important tip is to take time to adjust to the new schedule. A steady timetable for each day can help children feel more ready for the year.

Setting aside time for exercises at home like reading, writing or other educational activities can also help students get back into the swing of everyday learning.

Heading back to school with the proper materials and preparation is made easy by all of the incredible schools and shopping areas surrounding Darling Homes’ communities in Dallas and Houston.

 

Community Music

Celebrating Jazz in Houston Style

Fans of jazz music in the Houston area will delight in the chance to attend the annual Houston International Jazz Festival on August 4, near many Darling Homes Houston communities.

Held at the House of Blues, this event brings together musicians and jazz enthusiasts eager to celebrate various styles of the music. The 28th annual event has tickets ranging from $45-$60 and features international, regional and local jazz musicians.

With two-time Grammy Award nominated artist Mindi Abair performing with the band The Boneshakers and other artists including Althea Rene and Ashleigh Smith, this year’s festival is bringing in talent that jazz fans won’t want to miss.

Doors open at the House of Blues at 7 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m., with options including standing room and cabaret tables. While this annual event draws some big acts to Houston, the local jazz scene continues throughout the rest of the year.

Jazz Houston offers locals of all ages music lessons throughout the year and hosts events and concerts to help connect city residents to jazz as well. Restaurants and bars, including the House of Blues, help spread the music through the city.

At Catbirds, visitors can enjoy cocktails and scrumptious bites while indulging in jazz events. Martini Blu, a jazz cafe, not only offers up drinks, food and incredible music, they also hosted their first Jazz & Wine Fest earlier this year and continue to host music events.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a jazz lover or a local wanting to explore more of Houston’s concert scene, the city’s restaurants, bars and festivals provide plenty of opportunities to explore the area and its culture.

Community

Discover the Best of Texas at Local Museums

Looking for an escape during the hot summer months in Texas? You don’t have to travel far from your Houston or Dallas Darling Homes communities to find fun, educational and entertaining venues at local museums.

Houston

One can’t-miss museum in this region of Texas is the Space Center Houston. Known as the gateway to the NASA Johnson Space Center, this incredible space allows people of all ages to get a firsthand look at space exploration, with attractions including a Mission Mars exhibit, opportunities to meet astronauts, historic mission control and artifacts from trips to outer space.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers visitors an incredible range of interesting and educational displays. From an exhibit showcasing Sherlock Holmes artifacts to Death By Natural Causes and wildlife photography, this museum provides unique perspectives on the world with its wide-ranging, fascinating content.

Last, but not least, art lovers living or visiting the area will enjoy touring The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. With changing content, current exhibits include selections of Indian art from nearly four centuries, European art from 1500-1800 and designs from the digital age. Fans will delight in seeing fresh displays and art pieces as new artwork comes through the museum throughout the year.

Dallas

Dallas is rich with presidential history, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is the perfect place to kick off an educational tour of the city. With archives showing millions of records from the Bush administration to 9/11 Memorial materials and a replica of the Oval Office, take a dive inside the office of the president at this incredible museum.

A piece of American history is commemorated in Dallas with The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, marking the assassination and surrounding events of President John F. Kennedy. Materials center around JFK, painting a picture of his life, death and ongoing legacy in the United States.

Museum-goers of all ages will revel in the exhibits at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. With Ultimate Dinosaurs as the current temporary exhibit and permanent displays including gems and minerals, dynamic earth and engineering, this museum is sure to pique any visitor’s interest.

Don’t miss out on the chance to visit a local museum in Houston or Dallas this year!

At Home Community

Soaking up the Sun at Darling Homes Communities

Splash pads, resort-style pools, clubhouses, lakes and trails… what more could you ask for? At various Darling Homes communities throughout Houston and Dallas, residents can make the most of sunny days by indulging in all the communities have to offer.

Houston

Connect with Nature in Cypress

The Bridgeland community is a part of the natural Texas area surrounding it, with over 900 acres of lakes and waterways woven between more than 400 acres of parks. This community was built for those who love the outdoors with activities and opportunities to spend time outside around every corner.

Amenities worth highlighting:

  • Trails for hiking and biking
  • Opportunities for water sports such as kayaking
  • Resort-style swimming pool with an accompanying spray park
  • Disc golf
  • Tennis courts
  • Basketball courts

Active Lifestyle Awaits in Missouri City

In Missouri City, in Avalon at Sienna Plantation, adult and youth residents have the chance to be a part of sporting leagues in this community, which places an emphasis on outdoor recreation.

  • Miles of hiking and biking trails along the water
  • Lit tennis courts
  • Resort-style pools
  • A sports complex, soccer and baseball fields
  • 16 playgrounds
  • A semi-private golf course

Dallas

Lakeside Living in The Tribute

At The Tribute community in The Colony, residents are never far from a scenic space. Stationed on a peninsula, lakeside living is a staple of this community, with paddle boarding, kayaking and more. Intertwined with miles of picturesque trails for exercising and playgrounds throughout the community, residents have no shortage of outdoor activities. This gorgeous community also features a resort-style pool and a splash park.

The amenities at The Tribute are continuing to grow, with future plans including:

  • Volleyball court
  • More lakeside activities
  • Event lawn

Preserving Nature

In Allen, a sustainable and natural feel can be found throughout the expansive Montgomery Farm community. Near the Connemara Conservancy, Montgomery Farm is filled with relaxing greenways and trails. Residents will delight in walking along the peaceful creekside areas and open spaces. Montgomery Urban Tree Farm has over 100 acres of natural preserved space, adding another element to this community, which provides a unique opportunity for locals who enjoy living close to nature.

Whether you like to wander along nature paths or spend a day splashing in the pool, Darling Homes’ communities in premiere locations give residents the chance to enjoy life to the fullest in the outdoors.

Community Lifestyle

Staying Fit Indoors During the Summer

From cycling to barre to boxing and group classes, fitness trends are ever-changing. Gyms and other exercise spots near your Darling Homes community in Dallas and Houston help residents stay fit indoors during the hot summer months.

This article from Self helps break down the results from the American College of Sports Medicine’s survey that identifies some of the top exercise trends of 2018. One of which is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Companies like Orangetheory Fitness  focus on high intensity workouts in a group setting, providing an effective and efficient way to get fit.

Classes at local gyms and boutique fitness hotspots, provide a fun and upbeat way to exercise indoors. Group fitness classes are a big point of interest this year, including everything from yoga to barre and kickboxing to spin.

Bodyweight training and strength training are also seeing a surge in popularity this year. Because bodyweight training doesn’t require equipment, it’s an easy way to stay fit at home with push-ups, crunches, squats, lunges and more. Strength training helps boost muscle mass and provides a fairly simple way for fitness fans to stay in shape in the gym or potentially at home. Darling Homes has a variety of home designs with flexible spaces that could be converted to become a personal gym.

Personal training is also seeing an uptick in interest, with people hiring trainers to help them reach their goals and train them on the best exercises and practices for indoor exercise.

Another fitness trend that continues to grow is to follow progress and activity on wearable tracking devices. With well-known options including Fitbit and Apple Watches, more and more technology is being developed every year. Items like the Motiv ring, an activity tracking ring, and technology in your clothing to track heart rate, motion and more, continue to gain traction.

No matter what activity piques your interest and keeps you active, there are plenty of indoor options near your Darling Homes community in Dallas or Houston to keep you cool while staying fit.

At Home Lifestyle

Getting your Texas Home Ready for Vacation

Summer is an ideal time to explore a new city, visit an old favorite place or see family away from your Darling Homes community in Dallas or Houston. But homeowners often lose precious R&R time worrying about the security of their belongings while they travel and the chores they left undone. Fear not. There are some steps you can take before your next trip to ensure you return to a safe, secure and clean space.

Getting ready for vacation is a great time to clean your home and leave a blank slate for you to ease back into your daily routine after your travels. Unpacking and returning to work and school will seem less stressful if you have already taken out the trash, thrown out expired or perishable items from the refrigerator and have the pre-vacation laundry done.

When it’s time to leave, turning up the thermostat in summer or turning down the heat during cooler months can help save on energy bills during your vacation time.

Beyond getting your spaces cleaned and prepped, HGTV detailed a variety of miscellaneous to-do items you might not have considered. For example, prepare a simple breakfast for when you return, and prepare to leave pets with a sitter or boarding facility. Consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to water plants and collect mail to maintain your home and make it look occupied while you are away.  

While traveling, you want to relax and not worry about keeping your dream home safe. State Farm created a checklist for travelers looking to make their homes appear occupied and busy during their absence.

Consider turning lights on daily timers, locking all doors and windows and double checking that all appliances are turned off to ensure your home stays secured during your absence.

Other key ways to protect your belongings include securing your valuables and making sure your security system is armed when you leave. Following these tips prior to departing can help your peace of mind during your absence and when you return to your Darling home.

Community Lifestyle

Best Staycations Near Your Darling Homes Community

There’s nothing quite like a summer vacation, but that doesn’t mean you have to travel far. These are our top picks for a fabulous and exquisite staycation near your Dallas or Houston community.

Dallas

Vacation close to home with amenities for all ages, including adults-only zones at the Hilton Anatole. Jadewaters, the hotel’s resort-style pool area, strikes the perfect balance of relaxation and luxury featuring Leisure Cove Pool that is adults-only on weekends as well as a swim-up bar, two water slides, a lazy river and a splash area for children. Elevate your poolside vacation with exclusive guest offers like picnic packages, cabanas, American Girl packages and more.

Situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, the Four Seasons Resort and Club showcases high-quality accommodations and offers a broad range of amenities including babysitting services. With indoor and outdoor tennis court options, access to an award-winning golf course, fitness classes, boutiques and a choice of three pools (must see: the Agave Pool & Bar), guests will have no shortage of options for relaxation and entertainment.

Houston

The Marriott Houston Marquis, near Discovery Green Park, creates a charming, luxurious oasis in the heart of the city. A rooftop infinity pool and lazy river set the scene for soaking up a Texas summer. Other hotel features include the PURE spa and multiple dining locations ranging from a coffee house to tapas and Mexican. The hotel’s central location is ideal for those looking to explore their city for a few days.

Hotel ZaZa, in the Houston Museum District, has unique room designs and services to delight its guests. With concept rooms including a Rock Star Suite, Fatal Charms suite, Soho Loft and Villa Champagne, guests may never want to leave their room — unless, of course, they want to head to the ZaSpa. The spa offers guests a choice of salon services, sauna, body wraps and exfoliation treatments. The Monarch restaurant, with views of the Museum of Fine Arts, has different menus of creative, fresh cuisine for every meal of the day.

Finding staycation options near your Darling Homes’ community is an easy and fun choice for you and your loved ones to enjoy a weekend away from home without having to travel far.

Community Fashion Lifestyle

Explore Local Texas Boutiques

Darling Homes’ communities in Dallas and Houston are known for their proximity to employment centers, restaurants and recreation options, but some communities are also close to charming, local boutiques and shops.

Dallas

Both Frisco and McKinney are home to local shops and artisans near incredible Darling Homes’ communities. From home decor to baby gifts and clothing, these boutiques have something to offer every shopper.

Frisco

The Charlotte Jones Collection at the Omni Frisco offers tourists and residents access to carefully curated goods including clothing for men, women and children as well as home goods. This shop, located by the Ford Center at the Star, also offers Dallas Cowboys merchandise.

The Blue Door Boutique, a Frisco favorite, gives shoppers a unique and tailored experience with stylists offering advice for customers sifting through clothing, jewelry, gifts and antiques.

McKinney

Update your summer wardrobe with a stop at Cotton Hearts in McKinney, where merchandise includes a beautifully manicured collection of clothing and accessories. Shoppers will find the perfect balance of elegant yet casual attire

For true Western Style, look no further than Orisons Boutique. From glittery cowboy boots to chic dresses and menswear, Orisons’ motto of “We Dress Texas” rings true.

 

Houston

The Woodlands

Residents of The Woodlands can stop by Marta’s, where jewelry, gifts, shoes, accessories, beauty supplies and more are well-stocked.

Diva Boutique puts a focus on women’s clothing, with tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes and accessories to find your complete outfit close to home.

Sugar Land

The summer season is in full swing at Anything Bling in Sugar Land. This boutique offers a mix of fun and classy sundresses, adorable tops and the accessories to compliment any outfit.

For a true Texas selection, head over to Fabulous You where you’ll find hand-selected items including unique tees, trucker hats, turquoise jewelry and boots.

Do you have a favorite boutique near your Darling Homes’ community? Let us know where you love to shop locally!

Community Lifestyle

Celebrate the Fourth of July in Texas style

In Dallas and Houston, near Darling Homes’ communities, residents are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July with live music, good food, parades and more.

Dallas Celebrations

July 3

Head to a Texas Rangers game against the Houston Astros on July 3 or 4 for an all-American good time. After the game, the audience will experience an Independence Day treat with a fireworks show.

In downtown Arlington, Light Up Arlington is bringing in live entertainment with a beverage tent, food and activities including train rides with fireworks starting at about 9:45 p.m.

Red, White & Boom fireworks will light up the Dallas skyline from the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, with the festival running from 6 to 10 p.m.

Fourth of July

Darling Homes residents in Frisco will have convenient access to the Frisco Freedom Fest at Toyota Stadium, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Live entertainment, local vendors and more fill the afternoon with fun before fireworks after the FC Dallas match is over.

In McKinney, another celebration titled Red, White and Boom! Starts at 10 a.m. with a parade followed by a block party in downtown. At Craig Ranch in McKinney, beginning at 5:30 p.m., live music, kids’ activities and other festivities will keep the party going until the fireworks show at 9:45 p.m.

Houston Celebrations

Celebrations of our nation’s independence continue in Houston, where the stars and stripes will be on display at a number of local events.

July 3

At the Miller Outdoor Theater, experience Independence Day with a free concert by the Houston Symphony at 8:30 p.m. followed by a fireworks show.

Residents of The Woodlands can catch the symphony’s show the day before at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at 8 p.m.

Fourth of July

Looking to escape the July heat? Take your loved ones out to the Snow & Ice Celebration at Memorial City Mall from 1 to 4 p.m. and cool off while playing in 30,000 pounds of snow while indulging in frozen treats and enjoying live entertainment.

Missouri City is hosting its own series of events from 6 to 9 p.m., with activities, food and entertainment leading up to its traditional fireworks show at Buffalo Run Park, with seating available at Thurgood Marshall High School.

Keep your Fourth of July traditions and explore your community events by checking out one of the incredible opportunities to mark the holiday near your community.

At Home Food Lifestyle

Making the most of your Texas Garden

This summer, many Texans and Darling Homes residents in Houston and Dallas are planting gardens as a way to experience delicious homegrown food from their very own backyard.

Houston and Dallas are in different planting zones, meaning different types of produce grow better when planted at different times, but both zones grow a variety of fruits and vegetables well throughout the hot summer months.

In Houston, June and July create the perfect planting season for eggplant, melon, okra, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon and pumpkins, according to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar. For summer cooking, these Houston-friendly crops make great side dishes to any meal. Peas, watermelon and peppers are perfect for seasonal salads.  Harvest Green, a community in the Houston area, is labeled as an “Agri-hood” where residents have access to goods grown in a community farm, making agriculture a central theme of the neighborhood.

Similar to Houston, the Dallas planting calendar lists okra, onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, eggplant, melon, peas, peppers and pumpkin as ready to plant. Harvesting all of these in both Texas cities continue throughout the fall months as vegetables become ripe, though the growing time is different for each one.

To help your plants grow and increase your yield, there are a few tips and tricks for beginners that can help gardeners of every skill level. These delicious crops can be kept in separate pots or in one communal garden, depending on how many different plants you’d like to maintain throughout the year. Depending on how many different plants and what types you’d like to grow, creating a designated space for a garden bed for items such as watermelons or pumpkins, or planting in a series of pots for smaller items including herbs and peas, can create a manageable garden space in your backyard.

HGTV put together a list of tips for gardeners, including helpful guidance on cleaning pots, how to use garden tools and even how to get dirt out from underneath your fingernails after tending to the plants. From start to finish, gardening requires a lot of patience and care to produce healthy, flourishing plants.

Gardening can also have unexpected health benefits, including mood-boosting, decreasing risk of dementia and combating loneliness.  

Do you have a Texas garden or want to start one? Check out our list of Lone Star State-friendly recipes and garden spaces for Houston and Dallas and let us know what recipes you love to make with your home-grown food.