May is Amira’s birthday month, and we’re thinking cake. Where else would we put the candles? Deciding which cake to go under those candles won’t be easy. There are so many to choose from. Don’t believe us? Take a look.
Pick a Theme
Does your party have theme? Your birthday cake can showcase it. Celebrate baby’s first birthday with these adorable birthday blocks. A unicorn cake will make your next princess party memorable. Star Wars lovers unite around this easy-to-make BB-8 cake. Themed cakes aren’t just for kids. Adult fashionistas will love this designer handbag cake by Make Fabulous Cake.
Feed a Crowd
Expecting a crowd? Ditch the layer cake and serve up a delicious sheet cake instead. You can never go wrong with a Texas Sheet Cake — just add candles. If you love Tres Leches cake but don’t want to get out the round pans, may we suggest this easier version? We love Ina Garten’s Birthday Sheet Cake.
Smaller Can Be Better
Big birthday cakes aren’t necessarily better. Break out these rainbow cupcakes and watch your guests smile. If you like Pina Coladas, you’ll love these rum-infused cupcakes. Kids will be very hungry for this delightful caterpillar cake. Break out the bubbly and celebrate an elegant birthday with these champagne cupcakes.
Have Your Cake and Ice Cream, Too
Ice cream cakes come in all shapes and sizes, but we bet this chocolate chip ice cream cake is a first for you. Incorporating your favorite Blue Bell ice cream into this cake is “da bombe.” If summer has a taste, it’s this coconut-lemon ice cream cake. These ice cream cupcakes are easy to make and fun to eat.
Let’s Get Creative
Have a colorful birthday with this four-layer ombre cake. Serve coffee ice cream with this giant vanilla donut cake. Why light candles when you can light an entire cake? Surprise your guest with a candy-filled cake. Don’t like cake? Try this double-decker birthday pie.
May is all about mothers. That includes Mother Earth. She does a lot for us, so the best gift you can give her is to go green. Doing so doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy. Just follow these tips:
Recycling is as easy as setting up a recycling area in your kitchen or garage. Buy some containers so you can keep separate paper, plastic and glass products. Many communities offer weekly recycling pick-up. An even easier way to keep items out of landfills is to upcycle. That means repurposing items you might otherwise throw away. POPSUGAR has some great ideas for turning trash into treasure.
Skip the Bottled Water
Grabbing a bottle of water after a workout is convenient but bad for the environment. Plastic water bottles take 1,000 years to decompose. While doing so, harmful toxins can leach into the ground ultimately affecting our groundwater. Buy a reusable water bottle and install a water purification system instead.
Organic foods have been steadily decreasing in price making it easier than ever to eat pesticide-free foods and save the environment. How? When you purchase locally grown organic produce you are reducing pollution. Non-organic produce is often trucked hundreds of miles from farms to grocery stores. The more locally grown produce you buy, the fewer trucks there are on the road.
How much stuff do you really need? Keep clothing and other items out of landfills by purchasing less. Buy high-quality items that will last a lifetime instead of less expensive things that break quickly and need to be thrown away — only to be replaced by something equally cheap.
You might not want your gently used items but someone else does. Donating to a thrift store helps less fortunate individuals purchase inexpensive clothes for themselves and their children. Many thrift stores support charitable organizations which in turn helps your community.
Use Fewer Chemicals
From cleansers to fertilizers, we are constantly contaminating the environment with harmful chemicals. Eco-friendly detergents, cleansers and degreasers are available at most stores and cost only a few cents more than their less environmentally friendly counterparts. Compost your leftovers instead of purchasing fertilizer for your garden.
Most of us use our computers, but many of us still print out copies of reports and emails. Do you really need to do that? Store files on the Cloud instead. Use both sides of the paper when you must print.
Turn It Off
Leaving your electronic devices on can add up to 10 percent to your energy bill every month, according to the Department of Energy. You’ll save even more if you turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use.
Try Meatless Mondays
There is no need to go vegetarian or vegan to save the environment, but one meatless Monday a week could save the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles. Less driving means less pollutants in the air.
Opt Out of Junk Mail
Nobody likes receiving junk mail, but did you know it takes 24 trees to produce one ton of the paper most used in junk mail? That’s 96 million trees per year. Save trees and time by opting to receive fewer mailers. Here’s how.
Support Locally Owned Businesses
Small, locally-owned businesses deserve your support. They give back to the community, create jobs and often are environmentally friendly. You’ll also use less gas getting to them.
Purchase a Home in Amira
A new home isn’t an inexpensive purchase but can help save the environment. Beazer Homes has received the 2021 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award six years in a row. It was one of only three publicly traded builders to do so this year. Perry Homes takes extra measures to be environmentally responsible by integrating building materials that are durable, sustainable and/or made from recycled materials. Both builders install ENERGY STAR appliances that are more eco-friendly and energy-efficient.
At Amira, we’re all about the horses. Our community was once home to prize-winning Egyptian Arabian horses. So, it’s no surprise when residents break out the mint julips for the running of the Kentucky Derby. The race takes two minutes to run, but the parties last all day. This year, the derby takes place May 7, giving you plenty of time to plan a Derby Day party of your own. Here are some tips to get you off and running.
Run for the Roses
The Derby’s nickname is the “Run for the Roses,” so have plenty of red roses on hand. Put fresh roses in vases or scatter them around the dessert table. If fresh roses are out of your price range, craft your own out of paper. Throw brightly colored tablecloths on tables to represent jockey silks. When it comes to invitations, julip glasses and banners, check out the official Kentucky Derby Store.
Dress to Impress
People don’t go to the derby just to watch the horses. They go to see and be seen. Invite your guests to dress to impress. Traditional attire for women ranges from colorful shorts and sun hats to brightly colored sundresses. Men wear slacks and button-down shirts or even three-piece tweed suits.
It’s All About the Hats
Hats are a big part of Derby Day. Men content themselves with Panama hats or fedoras. Women go all out decorating their headpieces with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons. Traditionally, women wear wide-brimmed, Southern Belle-inspired hats. You can also ask guests to opt for a smaller “fascinators.” Popular in England, these small woven discs are topped with feathers and netting. They can be found most anywhere that sells hats, but you can make your own.
Serve Up Snacks
When it comes to feeding your guests, small bites are the name of the game. You want something guests can easily walk around with as they hobnob with friends and cheer their favorite horses on. Set out serving dishes full of chicken wings, Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders, grit fritters and mini biscuit sandwiches. We really love these handy Jar-Cuterie snacks. Want to eat like the bigwigs on Millionaires Row? Try your hand at these official recipes.
Don’t Forget Dessert
Mint Julips and More
Mint Julips have been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby since the 1930s. Just bourbon, mint and simple syrup they are easy to prepare and fun to drink. You can stir up a classic Mint Julip or add a twist with muddled berries. This year we’ll definitely try this recipe for cherries and cream julips. If some guests aren’t fans of julips there are plenty of other race-day cocktails you can proffer. An Old Fashioned is really just a julip without the mint. Town & Country has a whole list of race day cocktails. Teetotalers will love a pitcher of sweet tea or these mock mint julips.
Fun and Games
Did we mention the race is only two minutes long? Be sure to offer activities other than the television. Horseshoes is the perfect Derby Day party game. Set up a betting window so guests can place their bets (for money or prizes), host a trivia game with fun facts about the Kentucky Derby and be sure you’ve set up a Spotify Derby playlist. For the kids, set up a craft station and let them make their own Derby Day hats, hold a stick horse race in the backyard or have them bob for apples.
It’s the time of year fans of home design look forward to — Johnson Development’s annual “Best of the ‘Burbs” home tour.
This festival of trending home design runs April through May and features more than 100 model homes throughout Houston — including six beautifully appointed model homes by Beazer Homes and Perry Homes. Two of the models are new, which means you’ll see the very latest in home design. Wonder how to create zones in an open-concept design? You’ll see how. Curious if statement lighting really can transform a room? You’ll find out. Not sure how to stage a comfortable back patio? You’ll spy plenty of ideas.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free, so you can come back again and again. Make sure to visit on a Saturday in April to take part in the model home scavenger hunt. Afterward, stop by The Resort at Amira 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for yard games and yummy food truck fare.
If you want to explore model homes in other Johnson communities, you’ll have plenty of choices. Other North Houston communities include Woodforest in Montgomery and Grand Central Park in Conroe. Also participating are Candela, Harvest Green and Veranda in Richmond; Cross Creek Ranch, Cross Creek West and Jordan Ranch in Fulshear; Edgewater in Webster; Imperial and Riverstone in Sugar Land; and Sienna in Missouri City.
In addition to the model homes, visitors can also tour the approximately 250 available homes for sale in the 13 communities.
Want to learn more and start planning your trip? Tour maps and event details can be downloaded at www.HoustonHomeTour.com.
We can’t wait to see you during the “Best of the ‘Burbs” home tour!
Spring has sprung, and it’s time to clean. We talk a lot about cleaning up indoors but not about our front yards. Yet, it’s the first thing visitors see. Greet them with a spring-ready lawn and driveway with these tips:
Survey Your Lawn
Before you trim the bushes or plant spring flowers, take a good, long look at your lawn. Pick up any debris including leaves, twigs and tree branches. If you plan to rake leaves, wait until the ground is completely dry as raking can tear grass from the roots. Once your yard is debris-free, check for bare patches and add soil mixed with grass seeds. Keep your lawn moist so the new grass can sprout.
Feed Your Lawn
Fertilize your lawn as soon as it’s warm and there is no chance for a freak chill. Remember that weeds and crabgrass flourish, as well, so apply weed killer. You can buy weed killer at gardening centers. If you’d like to go organic, here is a recipe for a weed killer you can make at home.
Mow, Mow, Mow
Professional gardeners recommend mowing every five days for the first six weeks of spring. That’s because grass grows quickly in March and April. Leaving it too long and then cutting it, risks stunting the roots. The grass won’t reproduce properly, and you will be left with bare patches.
Tackle Trees and Bushes
Clip any dead branches you find. This is also a great time to cut back tree limbs hanging over your neighbor’s fence or high-traffic sidewalks. Doing so will keep branches from accidentally breaking. It also allows more sunlight to get to the center of trees and bushes.
Time to Prune
Clip dead blooms. If you have ornamental grasses, snip them as close to the ground as possible. They will quickly come back more beautiful than ever. Don’t overdo it with roses or hydrangeas or you could stunt the growth of blossoms.
Add Mulch (but not too much)
Mulch, either compost or pieces of bark around trees and plant beds, give your front yard a finished look. Mulch also keeps delicate roots warm in spring and cool in summer, aids in moisture retention and adds nutrients. Don’t use too much as the mulch may repel water and cut off air circulation, dehydrating and suffocating your plants. Aim for two to four inches.
Porches and Driveways
Clean any furniture you have on the porch. If you have any sort of wood or fencing, check to see anything is broken and then repair. Check for mildew. A solution of bleach, powdered laundry detergent and warm water should do the trick if you find it. Check your driveway for cracks. You can use caulk to seal them. Concrete resurfacer can be purchased at any hardware store and used to level out any low spots you find. It can also fix damaged concrete.