Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How I Planned a Corporate Event in 8 hours in a Different City for 150+ People

Now that the holidays are starting to slow down and we are approaching the new year, I thought I would reminisce about one of the crazy work things that happened this past year. Being a concierge company in Houston you get all kinds of unique, fun requests that come through. I have a client that I worked for on an as needed basis because they have someone full time to help them, but shit hit the fan when their full time assistant left and didn't finish an important task, which was planning a party. They called me needing me to plan a corporate party for 150+ people in Atlanta, walking distance from the hotel, including entrainment and food with a $3,000 budget. Oh and it was the very next day on a Friday night.

My first thought was holy shit. That thought lasted 10 seconds and then I immediately got on the internet and phone. Thankfully on the day they called me I had a light load with other clients and could just get right to planning. This happened to be in July, which was my craziest, most stressful month of business. I was insanely busy and constantly putting out fires for clients. I am by no means complaining, just explaining how crazy busy it was.

First I started working with the hotel to see what was available. We went back and forth for a few hours. Since this was a big conference they were at, space and availability was limited everywhere in downtown Atlanta. I found out the food alone would be way past our budget. So I started calling various venues around Atlanta. My client decided he wanted to have a DJ. So I immediately started to call to see who was available the next day for a Friday night gig. Right when I was about to sign the contract my client decided they no longer wanted a DJ, but that DJ was amazing and put me into contact with a girl who was an event planner (I think) and who then put me in contact with various venues. After 5 million calls back and forth to various people and seeing if they could work with our budget. I FINALLY found someone that would work with us at like 6pm the night before the event. The event was at a popular game place, we ordered food for all the guests to enjoy, there was music there, it was a semi private room and everyone had fun!

When everything is all said and done, it's a great feeling to just be able to know you accomplished something great for your clients that they enjoyed. It was literally an insane day. My client probably didn't realize the complete spectrum of insanity I was going through, but that is nothing for them to worry about and that is part of owning a concierge company. You go through great lengths for your clients. This is just a little bit of how behind the scenes things can go crazy when you least expect it.

These are just a few things concierges go through. This is what I do, and beyond, for clients. I love my clients and am SO thankful for them and love the relationships I can build with them.

Lesson: you never know who will help you and be full of connections when you least expect it. For that DJ Simon Rimmer in Atlanta I am extremely grateful for you, even though you probably will never see this. If anyone is ever in Atlanta and needs a DJ use him.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my clients, colleagues, family and friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah to all my clients, colleagues and friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

10 Things That Currently Make Me Happy

Here are 10 things that are currently making me happy. What are somethings that are currently making YOU happy.
  • Getting 99% of my holiday shopping done before going on vacation. 
  • Brene Brown books and quotes.
  • Our amazingly sweet neighbors.
  • Nice, positive people. There is a lot of negativity and the nice, positive people make the world so much better. 
  • Public transportation.
  • Shipley's Donuts because really who doesn't love a warm, glazed donut from there. 
  • Spending time with family. 
  • Going to NYC during December to see all the holiday and Christmas decor. It it was magical!
  • Volunteering the past several months. 
  • Making Christmas cookies with my cousins at my grandparents house. 
(photo from the Macy's window in NYC in December 2016)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Made in the USA: Recycle Bin

I buy recycling items for personal assistant and concierge clients pretty regularly. Even though Houston is a large city, you would be surprised that recycling isn't offered in many parts of the city. This bin in particular was bought for a client whose building does recycle (YAY!!), but they needed a bin inside of their apartment to easily transfer their recyclables. It's not too big, not too small and it is made in the USA! How do you handle your recycling items?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

10 Last Minute Things to Do to Get Organized for the Holidays

Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and you are scrambling to get things done. Here are some small tips to keep you on track and less stressed.
  1. Amazon Prime. Amazon is great for so many things gifts, household items, etc. 
  2. Make a master to do list of thing that needs to get done. Delegate tasks to different individuals in your household. You can't always do everything by yourself, so ask for help.
  3. Create a timeline of what needs to be done and when. This will help you get a grasp on what exactly needs to be done and then you can figure out what things you can get done a what days. This helps you eliminate things that aren't necessary and prioritize properly.
  4. Don't overbuy. When you are stressed and don't know what to do, people often times tend to overbuy. Try hard not to do this by looking at your master list. This will save you many and stress of buying too much. 
  5. Make some food ahead of time and freeze. There many things you can pre chop and freeze, make ahead of time, etc. Pie crusts and cookie dough are common things to make ahead of time and freeze.
  6. Hire professional help. If you have so much to do and not enough time it may be worth your while to hire a professional like Eco Modern Concierge ;). Hiring professionals can often times save you lots of time and money. Houston has lots of options for concierges and professional organizers. 
  7. Set up a gift wrapping station. This way all of your supplies are all in one place and aren't scattered throughout your house. 
  8. Treat Yourself. I know you are probably thinking oh gosh I have to get SO much done, but really take a break and go get a pedicure or go to a park or do something where you can relax. This will help you focus on what you need to do with more clarity.
  9. Focus on the true meaning of the season. It's not always about gifts and being perfect.
  10. Take a Deep Breath. If you don't get everything done that is ok. So what? What is the worse that can happen.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Made in the USA + Eco: Reynolds Heat & Eat Containers

I first bought these containers at Arlan's Market in Galveston either at the end of last year or beginning of this year. I could never find them in other stores and they were overpriced online where I did find them. Recently I found them at Target and I was so happy. I think these containers are great for so many reasons:
  1. They are made in the USA.
  2. They main part of the container is not plastic and is made from plant fibers.
  3. They are recyclable.
  4. They are perfect when friends and family come over and you want to give them a to go box.
  5. They come in 2 different sizes. 

These are perfect for the holiday time and are inexpensive.

Most the containers we use at home to store leftovers in are glass, but these are perfect for guests.

What are some of your favorite to go containers to use?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Concierge Must Have Item: Stationery

As a concierge and just me in general, I write a lot of letters. I know I have mentioned this on here several times throughout the years.  For work I will send thank you notes or just notes in general to clients, vendors, etc. I consider this a must have because people notice when you send a note to follow up, a thank you note, etc. and it is usually appreciated. It let's them know you are thinking of them and you took time out of your day to write them a note.

I have all kinds of stationery. Some of my favorites just for blank cards is Tiffany & Co. and it is not as expensive as you would think. I love the quality of the paper they use. I just call the NYC store to order over the phone. For other cards it is no secret that I love Rifle Paper Co. I also pick up random cards that are on sale, that I see at Trader Joes, that people give me, etc.

Do you have a favorite brand of stationery you use?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Current Organizing Product Trends

Once I do organizing projects I try to use what my client already has, so we don't have to buy unnecessary organizing supplies. More and more lately I am getting asked to use trendy organizing supplies like in these 3 photos I took from The Container Store. You can find these products here and here.

Here are some of my top ones I have been using:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Made in the USA: Christmas Memories Book

I first saw this Christmas Memories Book in a local Houston store and loved it. I love that you can document your memories and keep it simple. The format is easy and meant to last for years and years to come. It is made in the USA! As a concierge and personal assistant, I am constantly looking for unique gifts to give clients and to buy on behalf of clients. This one is perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Utilizing a Personal Concierge During the Holidays

This time of year is super busy for so many people and you can get overwhelmed really quickly. I have many clients here in Houston who use me for various daily tasks and the holidays are no exception. Hiring a personal concierge is easy there are several in Houston and all over. Here are some things that they can help you with.
  • Gift Research. I often times get hired to research various gifts, but have an extensive list of go to gifts that I like to give or that I know are a hit. Here in Houston there are various stores I know that I can find the perfect gifts.
  • Shop. This is one of the biggest things I get utilized for during the holidays. There are so many gifts that get bought and given 
  • Help Decorate. Sometimes you just can't do it all and need help. 
  • Donation Drop Off. There is a ton of giving back during the holidays and I often drop off donations for others.
  • Organize. Since I am a professional organizer, I often help with general organization in businesses and around the home. This really helps clients destress and not worry as much during the holidays. 
  • Gift Wrapping. The key is to find stores like Kuhl-Linscomb that gift wrap for free, but if not then use a personal concierge. I often do this for clients and have so much fun.
  • Shipping. I ship a TON during the holidays. The key is to ship early when lines are not as long. Many of personal concierges charge by the hour, so shipping early can save you time and money. 
  • Write, Address, Stamp and Mail Holiday Cards. This gets outsourced a lot because usually when people send out holiday cards they send out a lot. 
  • Corporate Gift Buying. Lots of companies give gifts to employees, clients and colleagues and this is something they use concierges to assist them with. 
  • Party Prep. This is a big one because so many people host holiday parties. 
  • Book Travel. A ton of people travel during the holidays and a concierge can help with flights, hotel reservations, car rental, booking activities, etc. 
  • Grocery Shop. So many groceries to be bought during the holidays. 
  • Guest Prep. If you have guests coming into town a personal concierge can help with prepping for their arrival from getting rooms organized to arranging pick up for them to buying gifts. 
  • Basic Errands. I help clients with all kinds of basic errands they just don't have time to do. 

Virtual Concierge Help
I have had others hire me to help them with holiday tasks virtually as well. Here are some holiday things that I often get asked to help with virtually.

  • Buy and Ship Gifts. If there are items that can be purchased and shipped online, then that is what I help with.
  • Order and Mail Holiday Cards. This often times can be done anywhere.
  • Arrange for Professional Services. I often help arrange for services like house cleaning, organizing, catering, etc. to come in and help during the holidays. 
  • Book Travel. Just like above this is something that a concierge can help with.
  • Send Alcohol and Flowers. I arrange for bottles of wine and liquor to be delivered for clients. As well as, flowers and plants.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

7 Ways to Use Gold, Acrylic Organizing Containers

When I first saw these gold and acrylic containers, as a professional organizer, I knew clients would love them. They have been a hit so far with many.  If you are local in Houston, you can find them at The Container Store. Below are various ways they can be used. How would you use them?

For business cards.

For coin wrappers.

For new and used ink cartridges.

For stationery.

For pens. 

For post-it notes.

For washi tape.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday Houston

Hey! Today is #GivingTuesday. For those who don't know, it is a global day of giving.  It happens on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. For the past several years I have tried to gather toys for MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. This year has been the best year yet. YAY!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Shop Small Saturday

Today is Small Business Saturday. Today we are going to our favorite tree farm that we go to every year, Holiday Acres,  to cut down our Christmas tree. Are you shopping small and local today?

Photo: Le Zu Photography

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you are having a very happy Thanksgiving! We are spending time with family and eating lots of food.

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide: For Her

HP Sprocket Pocket Printer: My mother in law recently received this and absolutely loved it. It prints mini pictures that are sticky on the back and makes it easy to stick them anywhere. Perfect for scrapbooking.

Cord Keeper: I was browsing on Amazon and came upon the cord keeper and knew it would be perfect for some people on my list.

Domino Book: If you love Domino magazine and their other book, I'm sure this will be a hit.

Spoonk Acupressure: I think this is so cool and have given it as a gift in the past.

John Frida Hot Air Brush: I absolutely love this air brush. I have had it for several years and it can often times give your hair that salon quality look.

Yellow Submarine Lego: This is what I am hoping to get for Christmas!

Tata Harper: I have been a long time fan of Tata Harper and absolutely love this cleanser.

Cast Iron Skillet: If you are a cook, than a cast iron skillet is a must in my book.

Hamilton CD: Theater fans are geeking out over this cd. You bound to get hooked on the lyrics.

Swurfer: How freaking fun would this be?!

Stationery: For the letter writing fan who has a potty mouth. That would be me.

Waterproof Speaker: This speaker is amazing! It is small, but puts off so much sound. Plus, it is waterproof perfect for river floating, camping, by the pool, etc.

Friday, November 18, 2016

2016 Gift Guide: For Him

Good Clean Fun Book: My husband showed me this book and thought it would be great for guys who love to build things.

Stanley Products: Stanley products are always a hit every time we give them to someone because

Beer Foamer: I thought this was a unique idea and different that you will not see everywhere. I got this for my husband for his birthday along with some other things.

French Press: Everyone I know who has a french press loves it!

Compass Cufflinks: These are fun and unique cufflinks.

Pocket Watch: For the men who don't like to wear watches.

Foam Roller: This is great if you have back issues. My husband loves it and I really enjoy it and often use it in yoga.

Nintendo NES: I know a couple of people who would love to use this. Including my self because I LOVE Pac-Man.

Projector: We have had this projector for a little over a year now and it is always a hit when we have outdoor movie night.

Photo Album: Whether it is album full of photos or a book I have made via Snapfish, this is always a hit with my dad. He loves memories more than just random things.

Franklin BBQ Book: My husband absolutely loves this book. Plus, if you are ever in Austin, TX go check out Franklin BBQ it is soooo good.

Jack Black Products: I know several men who love this beard lube by Jack Black. It is always a hit when we give it as a present.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016 Gift Guide: Gifts that Give Back

GlassyBaby: I have had GlassyBaby products and have been giving them as gifts for many, many years. They are absolutely beautiful.

Noonday Collection: Items from Noonday are largely created by women in developing countries and Noonday gives back to various communities and helps empower women.

FEED Projects: I have been a long time fan of FEED products and love their mission that each purchase benefits various causes.

Toms Shoes: Besides super comfy shoes, Toms gives a pair of shoes away to someone in need for each pair of shoes you buy.

Hibiscus Linens: It is no secret that I love Hibiscus Linens. I love their give back collection that they have.

Houston Zoo: Adopt an animal at the Houston Zoo. It is great to give back in the community.

Marie Mae: Each item purchased equals one hour of training in their business school, which is provided to businesses in emerging markets.

FashionABLE: There mission is to purchase items from those in poverty and helping their businesses grow.

The Ethical Silk Company: These eye masks are cute and a portion of the proceeds benefit Jeevan Jyothi AIDS Centre in Theni.

Harry's: These razor's have become popular in the last year or so and 1% of the proceeds benefit City Year's New York chapter.

All Across Africa: These baskets are beautiful. Items are made by artisans usually in rural Africa and AAA helps educate, connects producers and external markets, and helps provide a means of income for the artisans.

One Hope Wine: Besides being good wine, each purchase supports a different organization or cause. Feel good drinking the wine ;)

Monday, November 14, 2016

2016 Gift Guide: Made in the USA

Hibiscus Linens: Hibiscus Linens is a local company here in Houston that makes amazing handmade linens. Mariana, the owner, is amazing and wonderful for to work with if you are in a pinch.

Biscuit Home: I love this local Houston store. They have great bed linens and other goodies inside of their store. I love that their bed linens are made in the USA.

Hedley & Bennett: I bought one of these aprons for my husband a couple of years ago and it is super durable and they come in so many different colors. Plus, you can be them for the littles in your life.

J.W. Hulme: I love J.W. Hulme. They are investment pieces, but are so worth it and have durable products.

Manready Mercantile: Manready is another local Houston store and is my go to for all things manly.

Clare Vivier: I have been a long time fan of Clare Vivier and have given these jewelry pouches several times as gifts. Plus, they monogram them for free.

Sinfull Bakery: Sinfull has some awesome baked goods that I can't get enough of. I love the everything bars and love to put them in the fridge. They are super filling and the perfect on the go snack.

Rifle Paper Co.: Rifle Paper has grown so much since I first started buying their products and I LOVE their stationary. A Rifle gift card is sure to be a hit this holiday season.

Briggs True: Briggs True has some great seasoning and sauces that you should check out.

Pain Train Salsa: Pain Train Salsa is local based in Tomball, TX and they have some awesome green salsa that my husband and I love.

Milk + Honey: I love these natural products and they are made in Austin, TX.

Homemade Gin Kit: If you are a gin lover or know one this could be a perfect gift.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Houston and Surrounding Areas Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets in Houston and Surrounding Areas

Urban Harvest: Eastside
Saturdays 8am -12pm
3000 Richmond
Houston, TX 77098

Urban Harvest: City Hall
Wednesday September 14th - December 21st
11am - 1:30pm
901 Bagby
Houston, TX 77002

Rice University Farmers Market
Tuesdays 3:30 -6:30pm
5600 Greenbriar
Houston, TX 77005

Finca Tres Robles Farm Stand
Wednesdays 2-6pm & Saturdays 9am - 1pm
257 N. Greenwood 
Houston, TX 77011

Westchase District Farmers Market
10503 Westheimer Rd. 
Houston, TX 77042

East End Market
Sundays 10am -2pm
2800 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX77003

Camino Farmers Market
Open Daily 6am - 8pm
2520 Airline Dr.
Houston, TX 77009

Farmers Market on Grand Parkway
Saturdays 8am - 12pm
1225 W. Grand Pkwy S
Katy, TX 77494

Tomball Farmers Market
Saturdays 9am - 1pm
205 W. Main 
Tomball, TX 77375

Woodlands Farmers Market
Saturdays 8am - 12pm
7 Switchbud Pl
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Clear Lake Shores Farmers Market
Saturdays 9am - 1pm
1020 Marina Bay Dr.
Clear Lake Shores, TX 77565

What are some of your favorite farmers markets in Houston and surrounding areas?  Are there any that I didn't mention?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

7 Ways to Have & Show More Gratitude

There are so many ways to have and show gratitude. Being grateful for the small things and really looking at things in a different way is something that I try to do. I am in no way perfect and am always improving myself, but I try really hard to be grateful, even when I am not necessarily feeling it at the time.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal. Last year and this year I started writing down things that I am grateful for. I am not perfect at always writing things down that I am grateful, but try hard because it makes me see and think of what I am really grateful for. There is so much to be grateful for. 
  • Look for the Silver Linings When There are Challenges. Man, this is really hard to do. Overall, you will be a happier person if you look at the positive in things instead of the negatives. As a Houston concierge and personal assistant things can go wrong and you have to look at the silver linings and figure out different solutions to problems. 
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is one of the most gratifying things because you can make such a big difference. I have volunteered for decades and absolutely love it. If I could I would volunteer all my time with various organizations. There are so many organizations in Houston that you can volunteer for. I have volunteered personally and providing my professional organizing services to many different organizations throughout Houston.
  • Spend More Time Doing Things You Love. You can find so much gratitude and joy doing the things you love. Spend more time with family and let them know you love them. Spend more time on that hobby you love because it makes you happy. 
  • Thank You Notes. I try to write thank you notes often. I am so appreciative when someone does something nice for my husband and I or gives us something. So go tell that person you are thankful! Even if you don't write them a handwritten letter, email or call them and tell them.
  • Give Back. Not just by volunteering, but give back in other ways as well. Tell someone you appreciate them, take in your neighbors trash can, pick up that clothing item off the floor in the store, do random acts of kindness, etc. etc. There are so many ways to give back, you just have to figure out what works best for you. 
  • Email Random People. I know this sounds weird at first, but this is something that I have been doing this past year. I will email people and tell them I like what they are doing. There is a person on Tumblr I have been following for years and love her photos and the snippets she says about her family, so I emailed to tell her I love her photos and the positivity she exudes. There is a made in Texas article in Texas Monthly that I love, so I emailed to tell them that I enjoyed it. The list goes on and on. Surprisingly, most of the time the people will respond. Even with people you think are out of touch and don't expect to reply, they usually will reply.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Made in the USA : Hibiscus Linens

I can't believe I have not written about Hibiscus Linens before, but I absolutely love these linens and most are made right here in Houston. Mariana, the owner, does many by hand and also has an awesome give back collection like the ones pictured above. She is a gem as well and sweet as can be. Plus, she has helped me when I have been in a bind with clients who need gifts. With the holidays coming up I think these are the perfect linens to give as gifts or to have around your dinner table. The baby items are so cute as well and I have been giving them to friends who have been having kiddos lately. She also offers classes, which you learn so much in. 

I have given these as gifts on many occasions and they are always a big hit. 

Do you have any Hibiscus Linens items?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gift Idea: The Useful Book

Have any of you read this book yet? It really is useful and full of all kinds of random things from understanding laundry symbols to how to unclog a drain to how to make a pot of coffee. I highly recommend it and think it would make a great gift for someone who is getting their own place, student going off to college or just for anyone. Since the holidays are upon us you may want to do a little shopping early......

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How to Get Organized for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a few short weeks away so now is great time to start planning for it if you haven't already started.
  • Create a Thanksgiving binder. This binder will hold everything you need from to-do list to meal plans. There are all kinds of checklist that you can search for online that will give you time lines of Thanksgiving prepping. I am not going to reinvent the wheel this year ;) and figured you could just do a quick search. 
  • Write a to-do list. Make a list of everything you need to do this includes what you are cooking, linens you will be using, dishes you will be using, decorations, guests, gratitude notes, games, etc.
  • Declutter. If there are dishes or decorations you have been hanging onto for years and you no longer have a use for or you just don't like them. Donate them. Decluttering will help you feel less stressed.
  • Meal Plan. Plan what you will be serving and what dishes guests will be bringing.
  • Create a grocery and liquor store list. Make a list of everything you will need from the grocery and liquor store, this includes food, flowers, beer, etc.
  • Schedule to clean your house or hire a house cleaner. Get it on the books at least 2-3 days before guests arrive that way you won't stress too much about it.
  • Order your turkey and buy non perishable items. Try to get items ahead of time that you know you can get especially canned or frozen items.
  • Plan to finish 2 days before Thanksgiving. Obviously you will not have all of your cooking out of the way, but plan to wrap most everything up on by the Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving. This will give you ample time to think about all of the things you may have forgotten about. Make sure to set the table ahead of time as well.
  • Label. Set out all serving dishes about of time and label what will be going in them. Make labels for the meals if you want guests to know what is in them. Make name tags. 
  • Plan for to -go containers. I love these Reynolds Heat & Eat containers, which are in a blog post coming up. 
  • Accept help. If you someone sees that you are overwhelmed and offers to help you, accept it! It will be a relief in so many ways. 
  • Relax. Go get reflexology, pedicure, a massage or something to help you relax.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Are you doing anything fun this evening? We are staying around the house and handing out candy to the kiddos that come by. Whatever your plan is, stay safe folks!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Eco Issues from 2016 Presidential Candidates

I really don't like to talk about politics, but these are some interesting points in the article link of the 2016 presidential candidates thoughts on environmental and energy issues.

GO VOTE next week!