Category Archives: Living

Relais & Chateaux World Tour: “Europea”

Me and my hubby indulging in Europea's 12-course chef's dinner
Me and my hubby indulging in Europea’s 12-course chef’s dinner

I recently traveled to Quebec in Canada and fell in love!  The whole Province is French speaking and everything about Quebec is simply charming.  The architecture, rich history, food, art, and culture, it is not what I expected for Canada.  My first stop was to the city of Montreal , and on the first night my husband surprised me with a romantic dinner at a renowned Relais & Chateaux restaurant.  I did not research for this trip at all (and on purpose) and had zero expectations, and I had no idea what was in store!

europea relais and chateau foodWe pull up to Europea in a charming neighborhood.  I am immediately drawn to the old world look of the building.  When we enter they take us upstairs to an intimate table for two.  As I look around I see a few couples, some business people, and all looked very entertained and pleased.  I glance at the menu (in French) and before I had to make any decisions my husband said “Let’s have the chef’s tasting dinner!”  Lo and behold, a 12-course meal was in queue plus wine pairing!  Celebrity chef Jerome Ferrer and his team of highly trained and engaging servers certainly put on a show.  An almost theatrical kind of affair one would say.  Each course had a surprise.  Courses were served in books, boxes, clay pots for us to hammer open, there was steam, and fire, and grand finale cotton candy trees.  Every plate was a work of fine art and tasted delicious.  They love their fois gras in this town and their dessert too.  Plus, the wines they chose were absolutely exquisite and the perfect enhancing match for each entrée it was served. We were overly stimulated I must say but in the best way and they even sent us home with wrapped gifts!

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Homeownership: 7 Reasons To Take Action Now

Hello Trende Friends,
2717 University Blvd frtN3_1
This year is well under way and I hope you are excited for the Spring!  This means Spring cleaning, Spring wardrobe, Spring decor, Spring landscaping.  Minus the allergies, what’s not to love about the Spring!

If you have a friend or family member who is not quite ready to “Spring” into home ownership, I thought I’d share 7 GREAT reasons why they should consider taking the investment plunge NOW.  Interest rates are only going up, just ask the Fed.

7 Reasons to Own A Home

  1. Tax benefits. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.
  2. Appreciation. Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.  The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.
  3. Equity. Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
  4. Savings. Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.
  5. Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.
  6. Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.
  7. Stability. Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.

1606 fowler extThanks again for the continued support.  For each referral I have something special to send your way! When they are ready please have them email me at nicole.brende@sothebyshomes.com. I can assist buyers & sellers anywhere in the world with my Sotheby’s network and in all price ranges.  I do appreciate the referral and I will take great care of them.

Your neighborhood Realtor,
Nicole Brende a.k.a. “Trende Brende”

“Champagne & Caftans”: An Engagement Soiree

lori_bridal_shower-7group-poolWords cannot express our enthusiasm for our bride-to-be Lori Lemon-Geshay!  She is a lovely lady inside and out and what a privilege to be her friend and be able to help her in celebrating her new chapter in life—marriage!  Our group could not wait to spoil her with all of the things she loves….friendship, bubbly, caftans, pool-side, hydrangeas, Parisian + Italian decor, the color blue, lemons too.  Stop the madness!

lori_bridal_shower-67-lori-eiffel-towerA few weeks ago Houston’s “Blonde Mafia” hosted Lori’s first engagement soiree at the Manhattan Lofts in the Galleria area.  Private room and poolside we sipped champagne, played, danced, and celebrated the gleaming bride.  A group effort from catering, to decor, flowers, sentimental touches, and good old fashioned game time…it was an epic evening full of fun and love for our dear friend.

The Girls:  Lori Lemon-Geshay, Lisa Bridle, Hollie Wells, Liliana Cuellar, Anna Kaplan, Marina Kaplan, Laura Cernock, Joanna Podsiadlik,  Melissa Back McAlpine, Lissa Goldsmith, and me…Nicole Brende!

lori_bridal_shower-53-saladHollie thank you for preparing your famous salad and other healthy and sumptuous goodies!  Liliana and Lisa the champagne kept flowing….a BIG thank you!  Marina and Anna those cupcakes were so cute and loved the gluten-free option!

My hubby and I whipped up lemon lori_bridal_shower-48-dessertchocolate and macchiato desserts for our Ms Lemon…soon to be Bergeron!

Laura the sentimental touches from the photo eiffel tower plus other goodies really set the scene.  Joanna the flowers were blooming with beauty. Melissa thank you for the yummy empanadas. Lissa the bridal game was so much fun!  Learned much more about our Lori!

lori_bridal_shower-104-ring-pop-kissesMore festivities to come!  This is only the beginning!!  As you can see we all adore our Lori Lemon-Geshay. Keep on sparkling up the room my friend! Bisou Bisou!

 

Let’s RIDE!

ride cyclingThis year is well under way, and don’t let these oil prices put you in a slump!  How many of you have a resolution to get back in shape?  I think this is my recurring wish.  Anyway, always accepting to new ideas a friend of mine challenged me to join her for a spin class about a month ago. I loved it so much and now I am addicted (at least on Mondays).

Hillary, Kathryn, Will, Me, and Anna. What a crew!
Hillary, Kathryn, Will, Me, and Anna. What a crew!

There are spin studios all around Houston but the one I am enjoying is called RIDE off of 19th street in The Heights.  The instructor has an awesome playlist and I find myself dancing in my seat for the full 45 minutes!  Not to mention, the lighting changes as if I am at a night club….ok, I sometimes miss those days but sweating it off in a spin class is a much healthier option!  If you’ve been thinking about trying something new, I wanted to share with you my success.  I have since recruited 4 additional friends.  Perhaps I can fill up a class one day with all of my peeps?  What a ride that would be!  Admittedly, after class we go eat lunch, but it’s at Zoe’s Kitchen which offers calorie friendly options.

ride studio mapBack to RIDE.  Your first class is FREE including shoe rental.  Signing up is so easy, just do so on their website.  You also get to select your bike so you are guaranteed a spot. When you do try it out, bring a bottle of water or you can purchase one there. They also provide a locker for your belongings and a clean towel because you WILL SWEAT your tail off!

For more information on the studio and class schedule please go to www.ride-indoorcycling.com or call 281-888-9772.  FYI, my Monday fix is at Noon with Will as the instructor.  He mixes things up so it is never a dull moment!  Remember, first class is FREE! No excuses now.  Feel free to let them know your friend Trende Brende sent you. As they say, RIDE ROCK REPEAT!

It’s Crystal Clear. Say YES to Baccarat!

baccarat hotel signMy recent Sotheby’s top producer award trip to NYC was simply off the charts! Perfect weather, living in luxury at the Waldorf Astoria, and enjoying private art exhibit events at the Sotheby’s auction house, a Broadway performance, fancy dinners, shopping on 5th Avenue, and bike strolls in Central Park and around the city. In the middle of our great adventure we were introduced to the ultra new and ultra luxurious Baccarat Hotel.  This place is my dream! Surround me every day with crystal chandeliers and luxurious decor. All I can say is more more more!

124Baccarat Hotels & Resorts translates the perfect craft and noble heritage of the legendary, 250-year-old French crystal maker into an elegant lifestyle. Combining this rare legacy with modern elegance and elements of unexpected magic, each of the brand’s hotels and resorts has been conceived as a gracious hôtel particulier, welcoming guests with impeccable service and distinctive amenities. Baccarat Hotels & Resorts launched in March 2015 with the opening of its flagship New York property.  Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York will be followed by Rabat, Morocco, in 2016, with additional openings in Dubai and Doha over the course of the next several years.  Rumor has it, add Miami to the mix!

119Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York is a contemporary Manhattan take on a classically elegant Parisian hôtel particulier. It blends influences past and present to create sumptuous spaces, both grand and intimate that inspire wonder with their enchanting surprises and carefully considered details.  Although one night’s stay can range around $1000, in my opinion this is an opportunity of a lifetime.  In the bar area, I enjoyed a negroni cocktail served in a Baccarat crystal glass.  Only the finest dahling! Even the bartenders and cocktail waitresses wear Baccarat crystal jewelry.

baccarat hotel fur chairTheir lounge is set up like a custom home with beautiful seating arrangements and private rooms for entertaining and meetings.  I found my favorite “fur” chair too.  It’s the Texas chic in me :)  Sought after Paris-based design duo Gilles & Boissier created nearly every piece of furniture  in fact for the hotel’s soaring salon-style public spaces, as well as the 114 light-filled rooms and suites of the hotel. Weaving artisanal Baccarat crystal elements throughout, they lavished attention on each surface, be it a sparkling mica-covered vaulted ceiling, silver-leafed wood paneling, pleated-silk walls or a monumental marble table. New York design masters Tony Ingrao and Stephen Sills, respectively, handled the 60 residences and the ground-level contemporary French restaurant, Chevalier.

123The next time you go to New York City indulge in some Baccarat elegance because you are worth it! After this experience I think I need to add Baccarat to my wedding registry list.  Move over Waterford, Baccarat has a hotel! Located at 20 West 53rd Street , New York , New York , 10019 across from the Museum of Modern Art, enjoy the radiant glow of this 50 story masterpiece.  You are welcome my friends! Trende Brende has you covered.

 

Bunnies & Beer = Brende Easter Bash!

Brende Easter Eggstravaganza
Brende Easter Eggstravaganza

One of my favorite family holidays is Easter time.  Each year we celebrate at my uncle’s home in the Hollywood hills with perfect weather and picture perfect views.  The traditional prayer, food, egg decorating contests and egg hunts take place.

My favorite event is the adult beer hunt.  Forever kids at heart my cousins and siblings line up with buckets in hand in anticipation for our big hunt.  The goal is

Cousin Steve claiming his prize!
Cousin Steve claiming his prize!

to pick up 5 beers with attached poker cards, any beer with nothing on it is free game, and we must find one Mexican coke bottle usually containing a $2.00 bill on it.  Once we gather back on home base we play poker.  Whoever has the best hand wins first prize. The good news is that the prize table is full and all of us walk away winners.

Now, I have shared this tradition with friends before.  It’s amazing how this concept can grow with creative input!  Alterations to this idea may

Caroline & Alan Brende
Caroline & Alan Brende

include champagne and wine in lieu of beer.  Or, maybe more money is attached to the bottles! However you spin it, this activity is a hit and it will live on for generations to come in the Brende family.

And poor Easter bunny, he always seems to end up in the pool! LOL. Nonetheless he always manages pick himself up and stop by the house for the festivities year after year.

A very dapper Jan-Oliver Schmidt
A very dapper Jan-Oliver Schmidt

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trende Brende scores big!
Trende Brende scores big!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Floating Easter Bunny
Floating Easter Bunny

Put your pedal to the metal at Hermann Park!

Hermann Park pedal boats!
Hermann Park pedal boats!

Fall is the best time of year in Houston.  In order to maximize this great weather here is something fun to add to your outdoors activity list!

Hermann Park near the Medical Center is not just known for its green space and choo choo train.  It is neighbor to the Houston Zoo, Japanese Garden, Miller Outdoor Theater, and several area museums.  However, recently I discovered McGovern Lake and their pedal boat rentals.  What fun!  Rentals are $10 per boat for a half an hour. Up to four people per boat, so it’s a great trip for kiddos too.  It’s open from Monday through Sunday from 11am to 4pm.  It is required to wear one of their ultra chic orange life vests.  Make the best of it!  The water appears to be extremely shallow but good viewing for some little fishies and lots of turtles!

Nicole & Jan-Oliver taking it all in!
Nicole & Jan-Oliver taking it all in!

Pedal boat tickets make great gifts for friends and family who love to come to Hermann Park!  Order gift packages online or in the Conservancy Gift Shop.  Hermann Park is located at 6102 Hermann Park Drive in Houston, TX 77030.  Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen!

The Estate Life in Houston

1 E. Rivercrest Drive
1 E. Rivercrest Drive

I just acquired my dream listing in my dream neighborhood.  Let me introduce you to a little piece of heaven called Rivercrest Estates.  At any time imagine seeing peacocks, rabbits, horses, and other creatures.  In the massive pines, live oak trees, and vast lawns, this neighborhood offers the country life with the city amenities.  By neighborhood code all properties must be at least 3 acres and with at least a 100 ft set back from the street. Here is your exclusive video tour of this luxurious estate: http://youtu.be/v2kkjQ1QW8I

DCIM101GOPRO“Rivercrest Addition” was created in 1946, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. This neighborhood originally totaled 367 acres with 95 estates. In the early 1950’s Rivercrest became part of the City of Houston and in the late 1950’s part of H.I.S.D. The first property owners in Rivercrest wanted to be able to keep horses, which allowed them to saddle up their horses, hitch up their buggies and maintain the simpler things in life. The street began as a quiet horseshoe shape with a tail called Crestbend, which follows the curve of Buffalo Bayou. As development progressed west, Briar Forest was cut through, in 1988. For a quaint neighborhood full of lush landscape just imagine it is minutes from The Galleria and City Centre!

1 E Rivercrest E 1 plN1There is a vast variety of homes situated here today from Ranch style to Mediterranean, Traditional, and French.  My new listing seen here is 1 E. Rivercrest.  This home was designed by famed architect Robert Dame Designs.  This 7500 square foot beauty offers immaculate detail throughout, dome ceiling, winding statement staircase, formal study, media room, game room, and plenty of entertainment space with its summer kitchen and butler’s pantry.   For complete details on this $5.7 million listing view my other website at www.NicoleBrende.com .

1 E Rivercrest E 1 drvN1E Rivercrest nicole and peacock