13 April 2009

She Speaks, People Actually Listen

 

image This past week, Cote de Texas was thrilled to speak at her first “professional” engagement.  Yes, readers,  it is true.  She spoke, people listened, and a few actually laughed!  Poor things!   Ok, Ok, I didn’t actually choose to do this – in fact I was dragged to the event by a loyal reader who foolishly thought I might have something interesting to say, believe it or not.  My husband and friends did have trouble believing it, but, in truth, it was a valid invitation.     Last year, the loyal reader Shannon Thompson emailed me asking if I would like to speak at the The City of Southside Place Woman’s Club – their official Civic group.  “Uh...no – not really.”  (Me speak? Just the thought was positively terrifying to me!)  As luck would have it,  I was already booked for that day, WHEW!!!!!  Saved by that really all important appointment with some long forgotten client.  Thank God!!   But Shannon was persistent and asked if I could then speak at the following meeting in April.  “Oh sure – ok,  I can do that.  What, that’s about six months away?”   (She’ll forget all about it by then, I thought – ha-ha, I’m so smart - I’ll get out of this one for sure!)    Except that one week before the event, I received an email from Shannon reminding me all about it and telling me where to be and when.  OY.   Oy-vez-ez-mer, as my Bubbie would have said.   Seriously, this was really serious business.

You think The City of West University Place (it’s official title) where I live is small?  Well, The City of Southside Place is actually much smaller.  It consists of about 8 short blocks bordered by two long streets – with a total of just 430 houses.  By comparison, West U is huge with 5,286 houses!    Southside is surrounded by West U on three sides and by Houston on its 4th.  Both West U and Southside are very similar places and I suspect most Houstonians don’t even know that Southside is a separate town from West. U., unless of course, they have been stopped by the notorious police department for “driving” through either city.   Both cities make their fair share of money off traffic tickets – some would argue “bogus” traffic tickets.  In fact the day I took these pictures I was stopped by the  Southside Police for a broken tail light!    And so, although West U is small and Southside is miniscule, an invitation to speak to the Civic Club was still extremely intimidating to me, being as the only time I had spoken publically before was at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, where both Ben and I were so choked up with tears of pride that Elisabeth actually bent down in the middle of my speech and found some Kleenex in the Rabbi’s podium and dramatically handed it to us – whereas the entire congregation erupted in howls of laughter.

So, there I was the night before The Big Speech, frantically thinking about what in the heck I was going to talk about and why me?   WHY ME?  You would have thought I had just been told I had a terminal illness with all the praying and carrying on that went on that night before.    Yep – I did wait until the night before to write it.   I like to live dangerously.   I had no clue what to talk about, except my blog, which is how the Civic Club had even heard of me in the first place.   The only other viable topic was interior design.   Either one was sure to be a real winner, I thought sarcastically.  WHY ME?????   I ended up choosing to talk about my blog – that’s easy enough for me and then I decided that after the blog speech I would answer any design questions the “crowd” might have.  Of course this was their big chance to have such an esteemed and accomplished interior designer lecture to them!  Oh, the sarcasm.    I even practiced this for Ben:    “You, in the back row, with your hand up, what’s your question, please?”  Or this one:    “OK, people, now this will have to be the last question, I have my Passover Seder to go to tonight – you in the Chanel suit – what’s your question?”     I got pretty good at fielding questions from non-existent people.     Finally, I got down to business.  The speech was written, then said speech needed to be printed out – and of course there’s no ink in the printer.  You know, Murphy’s law.   Rush out, buy new cartridges.   Then I couldn’t get it to print.  Elisabeth was sound asleep at this point.  I shook her.   “Lizzy, please wake up,” I pleaded,  “I need you to print something for me on your printer.   Please.   I am begging you,”  panic rising in my voice.   “If you don’t wake up right this instant and do this for me I promise you, I will NEVER do you a favor ever again!!!!”  I screamed in her ear.   No response.  Boy, that girl can really sleep.   Back downstairs, slightly hysterical at this point, I realized I had put the new print cartridges in backwards, and  finally after untold hours, I had my infamous speech printed out and ready to go.   Except by this time it was 2:00 in the morning and I still needed to practice it at least once to see how long it was.  It looked really long on paper – who knew I had so much vital blogging information to share with Southsiders!   With a house full of sleeping people, including Lizzy’s two friends, I went outside to my car and read it out loud.  Clocked in at just over 10 minutes.  Better check that to be sure.  Read it again, with more inflection and a little humor, hey – the whole situation was hysterical, me sitting in my car in the middle of the night talking to myself about how I discovered The Peak of  Chic and Style Court, all the while hoping a serial murderer wasn’t leering at me.

 

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Cote de Texas and Shannon Thompson at the Southside Woman’s Club meeting.   Don’t worry, that’s just iced tea!

 

In the end, the event went really well – it actually turned out to be a lot of fun.  There were about 20 women there, maybe 30 – I can’t judge that.  Maybe a lot less.  Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the size of the Democratic Convention.    It was at someone’s home, so it was all really casual.   I didn’t know anyone there except the girl who had invited me, Shannon Thompson – though in truth we had only exchanged a few emails!  And there was also Jackie Sharbrough, the girl who owns The Urban Market - she and I had exchanged about 10 emails – so I knew her much better.  Being as insecure as I am (yes folks, Cote de Texas is extremely shy and insecure!)  I stuck to my two email buds,  they were so nice and friendly.   In truth, everyone there was so warm and welcoming.    After a delicious lunch, it was time to give my “speech” and Shannon gave me such an introduction you would have thought I was Arianna Huffington herself.   The speech went off without a hitch.   I think they might have even enjoyed it.   They actually laughed at parts of it and even asked questions during it – it was all really informal.  Thank you God, again!    The questions afterward about design went even better.  Except that I’m getting so bad at quickly recalling proper nouns and  names, there was a lot of this:   “my favorite shop is that one, on, you–know, that street by, you–know,  that shop on the corner of, you-know”  - while my poor 54-year-old brain tried to fire its synapses.  Shannon quickly filled in for me whenever I got tripped up – she’s a lot younger though.   Just wait Shannon – your time will come!   When it was all over and I could finally relax, I realized I had had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed it.   I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be, in fact, while speaking I wasn’t nervous at all.   The biggest thing I was worried about during the speech was if I looked fat, wait – take that back – I worried about HOW fat I looked:  really fat, just a little overweight, chubby, mildly obese, morbidly obese, or hopefully this one – pleasingly plump (pleasingly to whom, I wonder?)    I left, clutching a beautiful thank-you hydrangea plant, wishing that I lived in Southside instead of West U – I would love to be a part of their civic group, they are such a great bunch of women.    If you do live in Southside, I would heartedly suggest you join this club.  It meets nine times a year, and there is a different speaker each time.   If you are new to the area, it would be a really great way to meet your neighbors. 

 

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Moi and Jackie Sharbrough, mistress of the great Urban Market!

 

So, I suppose if I could repeat the same exact speech, Cote de Texas might be ready to go big time, like the West University Garden Club, or maybe the annual alumni meeting of my college sorority – if there was such a thing.  There’s not, hehe.      But yes, if anyone asks, I’m taking it on the road:  Cote de Texas:  A Concise History of The Blog,  followed by a question and answer session about Interior Design! What a winner!   Any takers?

 

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Reading “the speech.”  I wish there were more pictures!  Only four were taken.    I would have loved to get pictures of all the women and the house!  It was so beautiful!!!!!!

 

So what does The City of  Southside Place look like?

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Southside Place is bordered by West University Place on three sides.  The blue street sign is West U’s, while the black one is Southside’s.   West University and Southside both have installed these vintage street lights.

 

The City of Southside Place’s history began in 1925, with just three houses and a swimming pool that was installed at the large park in the middle of the town.   The park and pool remain a major selling point today.   Few of the original bungalows are still standing, having been replaced with new, much larger houses.    Originally, the city was completely barren, so a forest of Chinese Tallow trees were planted because Tallows grow so fast.  Fast growing trees aren’t long living trees, though.   West University also planted multitudes of Tallows – today these trees, now considered “trash” trees, are all on their last limb, so to speak.   The original Southside houses on large lots came with a chicken house out back along with fruit bearing fig trees.  Before air conditioning, the houses were designed to catch cross winds and most had ceiling fans, which are still very popular in Houston.  There was a back porch for block ice deliveries.   During the depression, when generations of families lived together to save money, the houses were built with one bedroom that had its own door to the outside to ensure privacy for the visiting relatives.  Southside opened with all the modern conveniences, some still new for the times:  curbs, concrete sidewalks, and storm and sanitary sewer  systems.  The lots were larger than the typical West U lot – and this was heavily advertised.   The original brochures read:   How many times have you wished for a REAL HOME, one that wasn’t crowded onto a 50 foot by 10o foot lot.   Hint, hint – like those in West U!

 

 

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An adorable original bungalow, which has been added onto on the back, preserving the vintage facade.  Love the picket fence and porch.

 

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This is an example of a larger, older home that has not been torn down.   Great curb appeal.

 

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This original two story house has been very well maintained.   Houses like these are too valuable to be torn down to make room for a newer one.

 

 

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An original style pink bungalow without much updating done, though it still retains its small-town charm. 

 

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The new houses built in Southside are not as cookie-cutter as areas of West U where in the 90s, thousands of red brick Georgians were built on the 50 x 100 lots.  This is a beautiful custom house built with shingles and a standing seam metal roof on its porches. This is a double lot – the owners probably bought the house next door to use it as extra yard space.  You can see a gazebo with its metal roof to the right of the house.  

 

 

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A close up of the extra side lot with its own charming gate.   The architect handled the problem of the double lot really well.  A large porch overlooks the side yard.   Sometimes, when the side lot is purchased after the house is built, the main house is poorly orientated to the extra yard.   Here the problem seems well addressed.

 

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 French stucco, new construction.   Again, a double lot, where the owners bought the neighboring house to increase their yard space.   To the left of the house, you can see another structure built on their side lot.   These additions can be quite awkward unless they are planned for from the start.    Here it looks like they have added a pergola to extend out into the side yard to better orient the house to the space.

   

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This family addressed the side lot issue in a unique way.  Instead of tearing down the neighboring house they recently purchased – they remodeled it and turned it into a media room/party room/pool house.  The two houses were painted the same to create a sense of continuity to the property.

 

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A closer view of the main house where it connects to what was once their neighbor’s house, but is now the pool house.  Must be nice!!!!

 

 

 

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Part Italianate, part French – I think this new construction is really beautiful.

 

 

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Many of the new houses in Southside are unique and custom designed, such as this one, rather than built on spec.   The front garden is interesting here  and quite beautiful.   A front loading garage can be a real eyesore, much less one that has three bays.  The architect handled this one beautifully I think – with custom single doors.   The garage actually becomes an asset here, a rare feat to achieve.  I really like this house, it has an Edwin Lutyens inspirational look to it, don’t you think?!

 

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This type of house is called a Texas farmhouse style inspired by German settlers that populated central Texas.   Native limestone and the metal roof are two hallmarks of this design.  Again, the garage becomes part of the design with the driveway  paved in cobbles, and curved to resemble a country road.   The front yard is planted with mostly native perennials and is quite beautiful. 

 

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Another Texas farmhouse style with native Austin limestone and metal roof.  This house looks a bit more authentic than the previous one.  Many younger people, especially those who attended the University of Texas have a  soft spot for Texas limestone – it reminds them of Austin!

 

 

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This beautiful custom  home has a fieldstone facade and a large covered porch.

 

 

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More contemporary than most – notice the front drive with a pad of stone.  The porches have pergolas instead of roofs.  And again, the roof is a standing seam metal one.

 

 

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This house looks to be an original bungalow that has been extensively added on to,  along with a second story. Very unique!

 

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A beautiful yellow craftsman style house, again, with a metal roof.   So many metal roofs in Southside!!!!

 

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Downtown Southside Place.  City Hall on the right looks like it was once a house that the city took over!   And look, even City Hall has a metal roof.  

 

 

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The original park is still the heart of Southside Place – it is in the middle of the town and is as long as one-half of an entire street and as wide as two  – really huge.  There is a new club house which you can see on the right – with the metal roof, of course, and the large pool is where the blue pavilions are.    Many teenagers who live in Southside work here in the summer as camp counselors and lifeguards.   

 

Thanks again to the Southside Woman’s Civic Club and especially to Shannon Thompson and Jackie Sharbrough for their kindness and friendship.   I had such a great time with y’all and hope to see everyone again, soon!

90 comments:

  1. congrats on your speech! i'm with you on the public speaking fears, though- i'm often the loudest one in the room at a gathering of friends, but in a room full of strangers, i become painfully shy. to speak in front of a group? my worst nightmare.

    love the texas farmhouse style of home- so different then you see here, and thus quite charming.

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  2. Joni, you have got it going on. First, the most interesting blogger there is, and now, an accomplished public speaker. So happy it went so well for you- you deserve it!

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  3. That's all so great Joni! Next thing you know, you'll be on the curcuit!

    Best,
    Michelle

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  4. Love the houses, but where are the walls? How does everyone keep their dogs in? This has always puzzled me.

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  5. Hi Joni, Congratulations for getting through your speech. I felt the same way in the beginning. My husband scheduled me to speak at a conference. When I found out that there would be 300 people and that I would be miked, I panicked. But it turned out well. Now, live TV is another story, that is a bit more nerve racking.
    The homes in your area are beautiful.
    Have a great week
    Kathleen

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  6. Joni, how exciting and congratulations on your speech! I know you did a WONDERFUL job. After all, you are THE GREAT PROFESSOR!!!! :) I would have loved to have been front and center....so much to learn from you! Lucky ladies....beautiful homes.

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  7. Glad the public speaking went well! I knew you could do it.

    I have never heard of Southside. I love the big lots! Sounds like a great place. I can't quite picture where it is, though.

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  8. That's all fine and good but this blogger has a question from the back of the room..... and it's the only question that counts.....

    SWEET or UNSWEET?????

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

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  9. Ahhhh! Thank you for the lovely reminders of my old hometown (H-town, not Southside, alas!)

    So glad to hear the speaking engagement went well, and can't imagine why you'd worry about your appearance - you look darling, and so well put-together. Killer chrysoprase ring! ;)

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  10. Today Southside Woman's Club, tomorrow Oprah! The world is your oyster. (and you are looking quite elegant, by the way)
    All the very best to you....you deserve it.

    Your blog is so fab!

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  11. Joni - you look so beautiful and chic! Love your glasses and your bracelet, especially. Wish I could have been there.

    -Lana

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  12. How great, I would have loved to have been there to hear your speech -you should publish it on your blog, seriously! I want to read it!
    Joni, you are not fat, thats just silly. I'm sure all of those other women were worried about the same thing, haha.
    Those houses are all really unique, it must be a great neighborhood! I like that they're in many different styles but still share common elements like metal roofs and pergolas. Is that part of the neighborhood associations involvement?

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  13. I'm ready to move! I love the houses and most certainly the feel of the neighborhood. And if living there includes an annual speaking engagement by the fabulous Joni I will call the movers right now!
    Congratulations on a job more than well done. And see - it's actually quite fun! I love a good adventure at the speaker's podium.

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  14. Ron ( the Netherlands)April 13, 2009 at 8:27 AM

    Boy, did this bring back my haunting memories. I can only sympethise with you about the speaking in public. I was asked to speak at a big clients event they have every year. I accepted, mainly to see if I could overcome this fear to speak in public. I also was invited 6 months ahead of the deal. I can tell you, it ruined my entire summer. It occupied me inmensly. I bought books on how to. Made summeries of summeries. The big day itself was okay but I will not do this again. I applaud you.
    Love that neighbourhood, do you think they will accept someone from Holland?
    As ever, a great post!
    Yes publish your speech in blog. And I have contacted Oprah and Nate to give you a call!!!!
    Ron

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  15. * Joni~ THANKS! You reeeally had me going, picturing you sitting outside in the car, "animatedly" (is that a word?) talking to yourself" etc... in fact, I'm STILL grinning! (But what I REALLY want to know is, were you wearing that UBER-FAB BRACELET then???)~~~

    I've "been there, done that" (the public speaking, not the "car thing"! I choose the bath!) & always found it amusing that you can't shut me UP, UNLESS I'm "SUPPOSED" to talk, then I CLAM up!!!... Go figure, huh? (I suspect, tho, it just shows one truly cares, "and that's a good thing", for sure!)~~~

    Like so many of your "followers", I sure wish I could have been there~~~ know it was enjoyable, fun n' interesting to boot! (And you DID look SUPER-FINE!!!)~~~

    I still love Texas & wouldn't mind moving back there some day, EXCEPT for the summers~~~ I DO so love the FAB limestone on so many homes there!

    ONCE AGAIN, thank you for a terriffic read, wonderful pics, & taking the time to share your wunnnnaful sense of humor with us!

    Hugs,
    Linda in AZ *

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  16. Ah, I wish I could have been there. I know it was fabulous!! You look great! I love your style!

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  17. You are the cutest thing this side of the Mississippi....


    I'l have the bungalow perty perty- please



    stay in touch!

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  18. What a charming neighborhood! Joni, you looked beautiful...very vogue. Loved the peeps! I'm sure you had them on the edge of their seats.I wouldn't be surprised if some iphone carrying mama doesn't have your speech on youtube even as we speak(:

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  19. Joni, I'm so happy to hear that even you can have brain freeze when it comes to Proper Nouns and Names. I can totally relate to the "You Know it's the one,,," or you start talking about someone only to have their name fly right out of your memory banks, only for it to come back to you in the middle of the night. Gee,, aging is so much fun! NOT
    Great Pic's of some of the homes of Southside and congrats to you on your speaking debut, you brave soul.

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  20. I bet the speech was amazing! You should go on tour for sure :) Next stop- Dallas!

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  21. There is life after a first public speech! Glad you made it and now it's time for the book.

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  22. Jackie Sharbrough/The Urban Market Houston.comApril 13, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    Joni,
    You were indeed fabulous last week! I was lucky to be there in person to see and hear you - and you did a GREAT job! Very entertaining and interesting!
    Everyone loved you!
    Jackie

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  23. Joni, You look great plus yes, come on to Kansas City for a speaking engagement, you have lots of followers here!It would be so fun!

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  24. What a great post! I can so relate to the fear and insecurity. You looked beautiful, you are so funny, and I WANT your bracelet and ring!

    Loved the houses you have shown - great examples of good design in old neighborhoods, unlike the new "McMansions" of so many. Congrats on an obvious job well done!!

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  25. Very well done indeed!! ((take a martini outta petty cash ....LOL!)) Yes -- do print out a copy of your speech and let us "see" it too! And a really lovely area of town! (the photos are wonderful!) Just imagine all of the lovely ladies in towns all over the U.S. thinking of YOU for the featured speaker for their next luncheon! I'd be there with bells on! (and drink in hand!)

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  26. Good for you, Joni! I wish I could've been there to hear you. You look so beautiful! Have a terrific week.

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  27. You are too, too severe upon yourself. You have a marvelous blog and a wonderful(and generous) ability to share all your considerable knowledge and expertise with the rest of us. It sounds like it translated very well to the speaking engagement.

    And you look great! That shade of yellow - it looks FABULOUS on you!!! Go, brunettes!!!!

    xo

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  28. Joni!

    My heart was racing this morning when I saw your post was about our meeting. I felt like you at a Tara Shaw Antiques sale.

    How funny to read about all you went through! You truly were an incredible speaker. I never would have imagined you went through so much angst to prepare. Now everyone will know you are a talented speaker as well as a captivating writer.

    Thank you for such a flattering post about our town. If I had a blog I would write a post about how wonderful you are too!



    Shannon

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  29. How fun! And terrifying! Good for you to accept the challenge! I'm sure you were great... you looked great and that's half the battle won when it comes to public speaking, as far as I'm concerned!
    Thanks for the tour of the town, too. Such pretty homes. Lots of inspiration.
    Happy Monday to you!

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  30. Oh, oh, I do love your bracelet and the influenced German Settler home. Steel roofs though architechurally charming; are a BIG 'no-no' for us in a Northern climate. (Its been known that snow 'n ice build up can be hazardouse to your health when it falls upon ones head...grin.)

    Happy that your speech went so well and thank you Joni for the tour of this beautiful neighbourhood.

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  31. I'm sure you did great - you looked wonderful! Great photos-- love seeing all kinds of houses! but, OMG- I L-O-V-E your turquoise bracelet!

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  32. Oh Joni, the combination of your wit and knowledge is perfect for speaking. I would love to have been there.
    BTW, I want the bracelet!!!!!

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  33. What fun to be asked to speak! I'm glad you had a good time at got over your nerves. You looked great. I especially loved your choice of jewelry. Thanks for the tour around town. Such pretty homes.

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  34. Joni you crack me up. I loved reading about the entire night before your speech -- I can just see you in the car at 2 am reading outloud.
    I'm glad it went well, of course it would - you are such a generous and warm person, how could it not? And you looked beautiful!
    What a pretty area - I love the bungalows and that yellow craftsman... yummy!
    xo Isa

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  35. Good for you! I would have loved to hear you as I'm sure you were wonderful! I once agreed to speak before a large and well-respected garden club. Why? I don't know, but like you, it was several months off so I accepted without really thinking about it. Till the date had the nerve to actually roll around, leaving me terrified and angry with myself for ever thinking I could do something like this in the first place. In the end, like you, I did enjoy it, but I think it was more the relief that it was over more than anything else!

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  36. Thanks for the Houston House Tour.
    I lived in Texas for almost two years and loved it! Most peoplethink of Texas as an"oil town"-but it is true Southern in its roots.

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  37. Ohhhh Joni! When I first opened the post and saw you looking absolutely stunning in your buttah yellow linen and handsome scarf, with those to die for turquoise bling blings, I wished I had been on the front row! I laughed out loud at your expose and picturing you "practicing" in the car and trying to wake up a teenager out of a sleep only an anathesiologist could put us in. How mu;ch fun for you that all went well and you are ready to hit the road! Come to Atlanta!
    Blessings Girl for a super week.
    Renae

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  38. Hee. You had me bustin' a gut. You are such a funny read, Ms. Joni!
    What a great tour of your neighboring town...beautiful old homes!

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  39. You look beautiful in yellow!! Wish I could have heard you speak. I cracked up when I saw that glass in your hand, until I saw the caption about it being iced tea. I might have needed something stronger to face a crowd...

    Thanks for the great house tour!

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  40. First of all, CONGRATS on the speech thing! It takes a ton of courage to do that sort of thing :)

    Second, love the town photos. What beautiful homes.

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  41. Now you are ready for more. It is so natural to feel nervous when we do something for the first time but so rewarding when it is over and we know we were capable of doing it. Learning every day and challenging ourselves is one way of staying young and maintain curiosity for life.
    Congratulations!

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  42. Hahah I was so nervous for you even though I knew you'd be great!!! Sounds like a lot of fun & I'm glad it went so well. :)
    xoxo

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  43. You still don't know you're a design rock star, even after all this time? Add another line to your resume: Public Speaking 101.

    And are you sure that wasn't a Long Island Ice Tea? Mine would've been.

    - Alixe

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  44. My Grandpartents loved and lived in West U for decades. When they passed and my parents sold the beautiful unique house - it was torn down and a huge "McMansion" was built in it's place. Made me so sad...

    When you have time - please come and visit my blog. I posted on a beautiful old home in Oklahoma City that I was honored to visit while I was covering the Oklahoma Centennial horse show.

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  45. Hahaha, Congrads and for the record... you don't look fat at all! I know how you feel though, I just put my first picture of myself on my blog and I was thinking the same thing...do I look fat?? We women are all the same down deep. I love your style !

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  46. Joni, you are so funny! I love how you tell a story about yourself. I'm sure it was all a great time & those women loved your wit.

    Pretty houses in that neighborhood.

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  47. Congrats Joni! You are a braver woman than I. I can certainly understand why you were recruited..who wouldn't want Ms. Joni at their event! I'm glad you had fun.:)

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  48. Congrats Joni! You are a braver woman than I. I can certainly understand why you were recruited..who wouldn't want Ms. Joni at their event! I'm glad you had fun.:)

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  49. I'm sure you were fantastic!

    Loving the pink bungalow!

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  50. Why is it that the term "speech" often leaves us speechLESS?? I had to do these when we lived overseas in Norway and I was the Girl Scouts Neighborhood Chairman (that's what they called it, literally - the liaison between Norway and the San Jacinto group for American girls overseas...) Talk about terrifying - and it was just mothers of scouts and their scouts! So I feel for ya - the lead up is definitely the worst part. The delivery and living through it is the best. :)

    Love to see all those houses - and what folks do to them - ruin them or enhance them. It "do make the world go 'round!"

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  51. Joni, I howled with laughter reading your adventure in preparaing your speech and trying to wake your daughter, finally getting your speech printed and then having to go out to your car at 2:00 a.m. to rehearse it! It could be the pilot for the Joni Webb, Interior Designer/Blogger sitcom! My husband and daughter had to run into the computer room and ask why I was laughing so much. I'm sure many of us can relate. I am more than happy to sing at the drop of a hat. Well, almost -- after a week or two of non-stop rehearsals. But public speaking for longer than 30 seconds? Scary! I know you were a star and you are absolutely gorgeous! Although I had to laugh again at your nagging thoughts of wondering how you look. You can relax because you, my dear, look fabulous! Then to finish off with showing us all those glorious homes in Southside. It's no wonder we love your blog! You are always fun, entertaining, informative and share your vulnerable side. How endearing and charming is that?

    ~~ Victoria

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  52. Joni, you looked so pretty in that outfit, it almost wouldn't have mattered what you said, but I'm sure you imparted great wisdom to those ladies. What a lucky group to have you for a speaker. I enjoyed the tour of the lovely homes. laurie

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  53. Ha, you and me both girl! I have spoken TWICE now in the past couple of months and gone through the same exact feelings of terror and dread. I can tell you for sure though, I MUCH prefer to stay behind my computer where I can hit DELETE if I forget something or say something stupid that I want to forget! :-)

    Thanks for the good laugh! :-) I am sure you were AWESOME!

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  54. Joni, your frantic "night before" story sounds like business as usual for me, but you made it hilarious. You looked great, by the way! I'm certain the speech was wonderful. Loved that you highlighted some of the well-preserved old homes.

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  55. Toi? Shy and insecure? I think not... I suspect you had the entire house eating out of the palm of your hand!!!!
    Congrats on what I am certain will be the first of many many more events such as these to come!!!
    Best regards,
    Toma

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  56. hi - thanks everyone for your sweet comment!!! most appreciated as always - to all the Anons whom I can't thank personally - thank you so much = I wish you would register so I could email you and thank you myself!

    JOni

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  57. Thank you so much for adding me...I feel like I was just listed on at the washington post...lol but I am not kidding!

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  58. Joni -- Agree with all previous comments...funny post, good for you in attempting (and excelling at!) something out of your comfort zone...now enjoy the satisfaction of a difficult job well done!

    On another note...I took your advice and gathered photos into a bowl on the coffee table. During our family Easter gathering this past weekend, someone was constantly going through and enjoying them!

    Jane in Ohio

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  59. I too, wish I could of been there! Loved your story.....and the pics of the houses in Southside.

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  60. You're right, Joni...high time I came out of "anon" mode.

    Jane in Ohio

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  61. Oh bravo to you gorgeous girl! Just give us the nod & you know your Aussie pals would have a round of Down Under speaking engagements organized for you in a heartbeat. Of course Ben would have to come as well, our boys would be delighted to introduce him to the mystical world of Aussie Rules Football.
    Millie ^_^

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  62. Wow! Big congrats to you getting over your fear. I'm the same way. I'll do anything to avoid public speaking. I hide it well but it scares the pee out of me:) You look beautiful in the pics. Gorgeous in your yellow.

    I love the story of the ink. So my house. The homes there are to die for. Bravo.

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  63. It was great fun to hear about the process, steps and stages that you went through for this gathering...So glad it all worked out well. And thanks for sharing the pretty pictues of the neighborhood.

    Tricia - Avolli

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  64. Oy. You're famous now. What are we going to do if you forget about all of us? (Seriously, way to go..congrats..you looked maaavaalous)

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  65. Good for you congrats I bet they loved you, you looked so nice in your yellow...and oh my NOT Arianna Huffington, that women scares me !!!

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  66. Congratulations on your speaking engagement, Joni! I don't doubt that was only the first of many. And I had to laugh reading about your preparation because, as a procrastinator, I can imagine myself in the exact same position.

    I loved reading about the history of Southside Place-- you truly are a wealth of knowledge! While I always love the original bungalows around the area, you showed so many beautiful new builds too.

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  67. lol. I'm sure the speech went great - if it was half as good as your amusing account of it, you can head up Toastmasters!

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  68. Congrats on your first speech. Hopefully, you'll join the sisterhood of design speakers! I love public speaking myself, and do it every chance I get.

    My "secret weapons" are my "index cards on steroids," or 8-1/2x11 card stock with bullet points I want to hit during my presentation -- only one topic per card.

    Good luck with future talks!

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  69. Oh wow. Congrats on doing your speech like the shining star that you are. And for the great Southside home photos - they are very lovely residences.

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  70. I don't want to bore you, but it must be said: I am glad for you, you are funny, smart, well written, style galore and you are recognized, take it, enjoy it, well done!
    Keep it coming, I love your blog!
    Victoria

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  71. Oh I wish I could have been there!
    Congratulations on your first speaking engagements. I am sure it won't be your last.
    First off, you look beautiful (and no, I'm not just saying that!).
    Thank you for the tour. I'm partial to the original homes like that brick beauty.

    xo
    Brooke

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  72. You made me laugh out loud with your stories of the practicing for the speech, and running out of printer ink, etc. I always dread giving speeches and could really relate to that!

    Love your yellow scarf. I'm now convinced I need one, too. :-)

    Great houses! So charming.

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  73. Joni,
    Great post. I know you were fabulous. Can I just say the cuff bracelet you were wearing was also fabulous. The dark brown house with french blue front door was so pretty. Do you think the Lutyens influenced house and the house above it were designed by Kurt Eichler? They both have the simple beauty of his houses.

    I peak in Tara Shaw's windows and admire whenever I am in town at Calico.

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  74. Hi Joni
    I would come and listen to you speak in a heartbeat. I bet you were fabulous and you look beautiful....BTW I love your Tory Burch scarf - it brings back fond memories.
    Patricia

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  75. Joni,

    Beautiful homes - I love how you tell a bit about them.

    I would have enjoyed your talk and what a fun thing to do for your blog friends.

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  76. Enough about you...get back to us!

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  77. Thanks for the tour of Southside Place :-) I enjoy seeing houses that are different from the ones around here. I really like the bungalow in the very first picture :-)

    Good to hear your speech went well and that you enjoyed yourself :-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

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  78. Way to go Joni...I'm sure there will be many more speaking engagements for you. Congratulations.

    Those are nice homes you featured...nice facades.

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  79. Welcome to the world of public speaking! I bet it was wonderful {your speech, probably not your knees shaking} The first time is always the worst. But you did it, and well, who knows what's ahead now?? lol. I bet it was as entertaining and filled with humor just like your writing. And I am ready to ditch my way overpriced miniature California home for any one of those. sigh.
    xo Lidy

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  80. Joni I can't imagine you being nervous, you are always calm, collected and so well spoken. I bet it was a great speech.

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  81. Oh I can sooo relate to this.. I had to do a speaking thing in February and it was REALLY nerve-wracking for me until I got there and started to talk blogging and then I was okay. YOU looked beautiful - love the yellow! Thank you for sharing the fabulous homes too... so many charming ones. I enjoyed reading about your guest room today over at Rhoda's!

    xo,
    Kim

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  82. i want a texas farmhouse !!!

    what an educational tour !!!
    ( and thank you )

    BTW
    you look fabulous my dear !!

    xx

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  83. This fills me with a bit of homesickness, although I am visiting Houston for Mother's Day. Oh, and you look fabulous. Yellow is a great color for you!

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  84. Congrats Joni! All the pics are wonderful !!! Love the way you drape your scarves - you look fab! I have a niece there & Houston is such a great place. Lots of good shopping for sure! Thanks for sharing all those beautiful home & landscaping ideas.....we are working in the yard here.....Bonnie

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  85. Hi Joni! First, and as we all know, most importantly...you look GREAT! I love the scarf and covet that bracelet and ring! omg!!! Congrats on your success as a public speaker! I think a show on HGTV is next!!
    I really loved the neighborhood tour! Such great Texas architecture and style.
    Happy Weekend to you! joan

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  86. Well they say the only thing worse than death is public speaking. :)

    I thought you looked so lovely in the color of the moment~yellow.

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  87. Joni, this was a hilarious article! I am certain your speech went off without a hitch. "You in the Chanel suit – what’s your question?”!! Too funny!! I am sure those ladies loved you.

    I loved seeing the neighbourhood and, wait, is that ICE in your tea?! LOL

    XO

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  88. You are a brave woman! I think public speaking is my absolute worst fear. But if your speech was as amusing as your depiction here, I'm sure it was fabulous! :)

    Thanks for taking the time to show the homes--I used to live in the Med Center and Westbury, and I miss house gawking around town. My 5yo and I hit the AIA house tours when I visited back in October. Man, was that a swell way to spend a Sunday.

    Oh, bummer, now I miss home. :(

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  89. Joni! I am so proud of you! I wish I was there instead of NY.
    You looked beautiful!
    -Linda

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  90. I don't really want to have a "real lot". I like the 100 foot lots. If I were to move to Houston, and that would be over my husband's dead body, I would love to live in West University.

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