Crafts enthusiasts of all stripes connect with kindred spirits at Harmony Stained Glass, where they find supplies and classes for a variety of projects. Customers can create all manner of glass and metal designs with a wide selection of materials and tools, including Aanraku products, dragon-shaped stained glass patterns, and Skutt kilns. Instructors help students learn what they need to begin a new hobby in stained glass, glass-fusing, and wire wrapping, and students can display their handiwork on wrought-iron stands bought in the shop or swiped from colonial re-enactors.
Bubblegum pink. Sugary treats. Rhinestones and glitter. Sweet and Sassy’s stylists pamper moppets during shrunken-down spa treatments spun with these elements. As tots lounge on tangerine pillows, kid-calibrated manicures and pedicures bejewel their keratin shields with sparkly nail art and adorn their favorite digits with rings and toe rings. Facials slather visages with gentle, sweet-smelling concoctions, and ear-piercing services add appropriate glint to kids' facial regions so that they can stop lodging beads in their nostrils. For birthday parties, celebrants can arrive in the spa’s pink limousine before strutting down the runway in Sweet and Sassy’s glittery gowns.
Q&A with Victoria Treadway, Owner of The Music Connection of Pearland
Tell us about your business.
We are a family-owned-and-operated music studio. We teach all styles of music, from jazz and blues to pop and classical. We teach individual lessons and group classes, primarily in piano, for ages 2 to adult. Piano is the most sought-after instrument we offer, [but] we also teach drums and guitar.
What makes your business stand out?
[First of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer group classes. They are more affordable, more fun because of the setting, and create a more independent student. We have our own curriculum, so we are able to give songs that are more well known and fun. [Second of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer Mommy and Me and preschool piano classes. Our program focuses on the piano and teaches theory through characters and different activities. Once the students have completed the different levels, they'll know the notes on the keyboard [and be able to] identify the dynamics of music, find the rhythm and recognize note values, and play beginner songs.
What inspired you to run this business?
This business has been in the family for 15 years. Once I [the daughter] got involved when I was going through college, I saw the potential to move from a business operating from home to a music studio. The reason we started the classes was for the student that wasn't self-motivated. Some students need a more fun environment than one-on-one lessons. I also strongly believe in starting your children in music lessons as early as you can to help children with their fine-motor skills, developing perfect pitch, and loads of other skills.
What is your most popular offering?
Group piano classes—once a week for 45 minutes—[and] individual piano [lessons, held] once a week for 30 minutes. [We also offer] preschool piano classes [and] Mommy and Me piano classes, [both held] once a week for 35 minutes.
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
One of our students [was] in shock over the amazing progress her son had made over the course of a year. He started as a beginner, and the next year he was playing songs like Solfeggietto and Moonlight Sonata. She recommended so many students to us. We called her our biggest fan.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Watching the students' progress and teaching them different styles of music. It's rewarding to see our students develop a love for music.
Anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
We care about each and every student that comes through our door. We never give up on someone who takes a little longer than average to develop their musical skills.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
Surrounded by Winetopia's brick-laden walls, visitors sample a succinct selection of tapas, absorb the notes of live music and karaoke, and explore the flavors of rare wines gathered from around the world. In the dining room, the arched tops of built-in wine cabinets fit snugly into exposed-brick walls, and the chatter of guests clustered around intimate tables syncs with the clinks of wineglasses alighting on a granite-top bar. A menu of small plates romances appetites with everything from light snacks, such as marcona almonds and indian popcorn, to more substantial morsels, including veggie samosas. Plates strewn with various cheeses find companionship in chatty napkins and the sweet notes of fresh fruit or the deep flavor of assorted cold cuts. The rotating selection of more than 200 small-production wines overrides the need for a formal list, so instead sommeliers pilot patrons through vinos imported from New Zealand, South Africa, Oregon, and Argentina. The less traveled can charter entire flights of wine or sign up for a tasting class, or eschew grapey spirits altogether for one of the bar’s 59 domestic or imported beers.
At the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, you might spy budding photographers snapping shots of herons in the wetlands. Situated on the western edge of Memorial Park, the 155-acre nature preserve acts as a sanctuary from the busy city that surrounds it. Visitors can walk along 5 miles of trails, which wind past forest, meadows, wetlands, and ponds.
The nature advocates at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center hope the arboretum serves not only as refuge from the urban bustle, but also as a constantly changing outdoor classroom. In the Discovery Room, for instance, interactive exhibits help young explorers learn about the arboretum?s diverse ecosystems. Classes and workshops range from home composting to breaking into the birdhouse-real-estate market. The arboretum also offers nature camps for kids, as well as other special events year-round.