[PLACE] Common Bond

I first heard of this place on the news. I mentally added it onto my list of Places to Go in Houston, but I never got around to it until sometime around two months ago. My sister and I decided to drop by at around 1 PM on a weekday only to find out that their display case of pastries (what we were going for) was completely empty. Completely sold out. We left empty handed.

What is this place? Common Bond.

Common Bond

My birthday was this past week and one of my friends insisted on meeting up. I suggested this place and – awesomely enough – it was on his list of places to visit as well! So we went. I did a little bit of research and found out that the place was particularly busy for brunch, which is served from 9 through 3 on the weekends. We decided to meet right when they opened to get good parking spots (they supposedly have a small lot) and to finally get to see these pastries of theirs, hoping that first time was a fluke.

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[PLACE] Guru Burgers and Crepes

I like burgers. I like crepes. However, I never thought I would ever find the two in one place… until now.

I’ll be heading off to Korea soon for my one-month-long escape from the States, but not from work. Nope, I’ll be traveling and working while abroad at the same time. I’m not quite sure how this will actually work out, but I’m willing to give it my best. Before then, however, one of my friends called me up in an effort to catch me before I go off on another adventure. We ended up going to Guru Burgers and Crepes, which took me off guard for half a second. Burgers.. and crepes? What the heck – let’s do it!

I got there before my friend because of my awesome driving skills and unusually cooperative traffic. I was seated by the hostess (they have a hostess stand, as well!) and then relocated myself to somewhere closer to the floor to ceiling wall-windows with another door that leads onto the patio area. I loved the jar they used as a cup and then I perused the menu. The possibilities were endless since you could choose options for almost everything. Sure, I saw the concept before (i.e. Which Wich, Chipotle) but those weren’t sit-down restaurants with waiter service. For example:

Burgers: 13 choices with 3 different sizes (sliders, regular, double) and choice of bun (twist roll, whole wheat, gluten free, bunless)

Sides: 3 different fries and homemade beet chips with your choice of seasoning (salt+pepper, parmesan, sweet+salty, and truffle oil) in 2 different sizes (regular, share)

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[PLACE] HRW: Uptown Sushi

The first time I heard the name of this place, I thought about how utterly unimaginative it was; it was located in the Uptown/Galleria area and it served Japanese cuisine of the sushi variety. I love sushi as it is my one big weakness which is why I’m essentially a sushitarian, but I never thought I would get the chance to go; I don’t usually eat out and it’s a bit on the expensive end of the spectrum. However, this changed when I learned about Houston Restaurant Weeks.

Basically, over 100 fine restaurants (and 1 cooking school) in the Houston area signed up to offer a 3 to 4-course meal for the month of August for only $35 per person. On top of that, $5 of that amount will go to the Houston Food Bank. Even though my diet is a little more flexible than the strict vegetarian, the exception of raw seafood still limits my choices, so after one of my foodie friends told me about HRW, I had to look up each and every restaurant that was participating and I made a list of restaurants that served vegetarian-friendly dishes or sushi. From that list, my friends decided upon Uptown Sushi and a reservation later, we found ourselves there enjoying their great food.

We arrived a little after six. There were a few seated tables, but it was barely halfway full, though this changed by the time we left when almost every table was occupied. The interior was clearly up-scale, which made me feel slightly self conscious after I launched myself at a friend for the biggest hug I could give a split second after the door closed behind us, but they were professional about it, though I can’t say the same for what they were thinking. A hostess led us to our table; a booth with comfortable seating along the wall. There was also an elevated seating area. Half of the walls were tiled and the other half, curtained.

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[PLACE] Patisserie Jungle Cafe

I’ve heard of this place several times – mainly how delicious their desserts are and how utterly expensive it is. As someone with a sweet tooth, I decided that I would give it a go one day. When one of my friends got me a slice of cake for my birthday from there and my entire family gathered around it and exclaimed over its beauty and taste, it cinched it: I was going to go very soon.

And so I did.

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Yoga Lin’s “Forced Happiness”

Yoga Lin.

If you haven’t heard of him, shame on you. Okay, I’m joking. You probably haven’t heard of him unless you listen to contemporary, Chinese-language music, but I hope I made you feel just a little bad. Yoga (yes, very original name – I approve even though he probably got it from his Chinese name, but way better than Fish.. no offense intended as I do like some of her music) is a Taiwanese singer who began his singing career in 2007 and he’s only a year older than me. This is when I think of what I’ve accomplished in my life so far and ultimately decide that I really shouldn’t. What makes me like him is how he dabbles a bit in various music genres, not limiting himself to just one, including the usual hip-hop all the way to rock and even swing – not to mention his voice. I’ve always found it unique and soothing. In short, he’s awesome.

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HANNA, The Movie

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see the name “Hanna”, I think of the various variations that come with it: Hannah, the name of my childhood best friend, and Hana, the name of my coteacher back in Korea. Then it reminds me of “Anna”, my cousin’s name, but my mom occasionally adds an ‘h’ to the beginning, just for kicks. I’m sure it was unintentional, though.

In reality, though, this “Hanna” has no relation to the Hanna(h)s I’ve met in real life, because this one’s an awesome assassin in a European-American joint film production and is, therefore, only a temporary character. It seems pretty random, but it isn’t. While teaching elementary school kids in Korea, I amassed a good amount of films and other visually-stimulating files for them and myself. This one, however, I never intended to show any of my students. Anyway, I finally got to watch it last night when my Internet crashed and I only had my external hard drive to save me from insanity (I admit it: I’m addicted to my Internet).

Title: HANNA
Other Links: official site, imdb, wiki
Trailer: click here
Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): action, revenge thriller, smidge of mystery
Year: 2011
Starring: Saoirse Ronan (Irish; The Lovely Bones, Atonement), Eric Bana (Australian; Hulk, Troy, Star Trek [2009]), Cate Blanchett (Australian; The Lord of the Rings, The Aviator)
Synopsis: A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

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[PLACE] Tiny Boxwood’s

Earlier today, I had a brunch date with a new friend I met off of Couch Surfers, an awesome site that allows people from around the world meet each other and travel together. In addition, people can travel and “couch surf” and get to know new friends. An excerpt from their About Page —

With millions of members in over 230 countries and territories around the world, CouchSurfing is blazing the trail towards a better, friendlier world where people who are different from one another can find their similarities. We are a community, and we are a movement. If you believe that all types of people can share fun, trust, and friendship, then you belong here.

When you join CouchSurfing, you tap into our network of welcoming people worldwide. You can share your hospitality and experience your city through new eyes by offering travelers a place to stay on their journey. You can bypass the typical hotel experience by staying at the home of a local and learning about their culture. You can join cool and interesting people for anything from a bike ride to a party using CouchSurfing Activities. And you can meet up with new people, whether at home or while traveling, for inspiring experiences and new friendships.

I’m a recent member of this awesome community, but I love the idea. 🙂 Anyway, my new Couch Surfing buddy and I decided to meet over a meal at a cute little place called Tiny Boxwood’s at the intersection of Saint and Alabama.

I had gone there once or twice before a couple of years back and I had good memories and food to go with it, so it was about time I returned – with my camera. The cafe is open with wide windows and despite the overcast weather and sprinkling of rain, the atmosphere was still welcoming and had that little something. Tiny Boxwood’s also has a large outdoor seating area (my last visit was on a sunny, weekend day and the lawn was full of people – families, couples, friends, and coworkers alike) and is connected to a nursery. On the weekends, they also have a special brunch menu. I went on a Tuesday and arrived at 10:45 am, so there were several occupied tables, but as lunch time neared (and the precipitation ceased), the outdoor seating filled up as well.

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