Pet Adoption Clinics, Vaccination Clinics and other Cat and Dog Things Happen All Over San Antonio Each Week

Dogue, собака, Perro, Hund, 狗, Chien, 犬, Cão, Dog


There is a saying which has been kicking around in the back of my mind for years, to the effect that you do not find your pets – they find you. In some cases, usually those of the feline persuasion, they are the ones who actively pick you, by moving in and making themselves at home. Now and again, dogs have also been known to do this: most recently in my case, the little black dog that I nick-named ‘the little shadow’ which my daughter found running around in the street in front of a highly trafficked neighborhood yard-sale a number of weeks ago. A nice little black dog, very affectionate, well-behaved and clean, of a certain age in dog-years, and giving evidence in the fact that he had been neutered, tail-bobbed and taken to a groomer within a few weeks of being found . . . all of this indicated to us that he had simply become separated accidentally from a doting owner, and returning him would be a piece of cake.

There is a world of difference between a dog who is a beloved pet, and whose people are frantically searching, and that the sort of dog who has been dumped, but it seems that lately that difference has become sadly narrowed. All the usual and familiar avenues of returning a lost dog were explored and came up empty in this case. Eventually, all we could think was that perhaps his owner had died, or become incapacitated, and whoever was sorting out the household couldn’t be bothered to do any more than drive to a nice neighborhood, open the car door and boot him out.

In any case we became quite fond of him. We had an assortment of small-dog accessories and necessities left after the sad passing of Spike the Shih-Tzu, and little dogs don’t eat that much, so . . . well, why not? So, there he is, curled up underneath my desk as I am writing this. We named him Connor, because he was found near our San Antonio home close to Stahl and O’Connor, and a judicious application of tasty treats has taught him to respond to it . . . so he is one of the lucky ones, as the fates of rescued dogs are measured.

For every thrown-away dog on the streets who doesn’t find a likely sucker through their own charm and devices, the next-luckiest make it to a shelter; to Animal Rescue, or any number of the animal shelters, rescue services or to various specialty-breed foster care organizations. All of these institutions take a great deal of care with the lucky cats and dogs who are fortunate enough to make it to them. They are shown off at every opportunity and every possible venue: Spay-Neuter-Inject-Protect of San Antonio (SNIPSA), just to give an example is regularly at the Pearl Market on certain Saturdays, showing off the most amiable and appealing of their charges. There are so many dogs like Connor, like the dogs we saw a couple of weekends ago at the Pearl – they deserve a home for real.

VIsit DOGtoberfest on Bandera Road. Saturday, October 29, 2011 Family fun from 10-1! Including: Adorable Pet Adoptions, Costume Contests, Amateur Agility Run, Face Painting, CIV Vaccination Clinic, and more! Benefitting Helotes Humane Society.


German Influence in San Antonio

Cross-Cultural Curiosities

by Celia Hayes

So, whoever would have thought that there was historically such a strong German influence in South Texas, being that in the popular imagination, Germans, Southern good-ol-boy types and Hispanics could not be less alike? The mind boggles, upon first consideration, and then it starts to make sense. While Texas has never exactly been a cultural melting pot . . . but the three different ethnic groups have certainly melted a little around the edges and certain aspects of each have flowed into the other – in some cases, almost imperceptibly.

This has a long history in Texas, beginning when the German entrepreneur combine, the Mainzer Adelsverein, begin transporting German farmers, craftsmen, technical experts and intellectuals wholesale into what had theretofore been a strictly Anglo and Hispanic concern. By 1855, when journalist and future park designer Frederick Law Olmstead visited San Antonio as part of a long ramble through Texas, he observed that there were three very distinct cultures, living side by side: the Anglo-Southern, the Hispanic . . . and the German. Three languages, three different sets of customs, singular preferences in music, amusements, drink, dress and even styles in building.

The German element in San Antonio contributed much in early commerce and business life: The Casino Club, whose building is still a San Antonio landmark, was also the first social club and theater venue – organized by twenty German-Texans in the late 1850s. The historic King William district was the first upscale suburb – and named for King William of Prussia, because so many of the well-to-do merchants of San Antonio built their homes there. The Pioneer Flour Mill, the Menger Hotel, and the newspaper which became the San Antonio Express News were all established by German immigrants, also one of the first photographic studios, the first breweries . . . and the first bowling alley, which still exists in the historic Southtown complex which is home to the Beethoven Maennerchor. Which one can easily see, just by checking them out every First Friday in Southtown, and for events like Oktoberfest and the upcoming Christmas Market – is more than just a men’s glee club. The Maennerchor was and is still so much more than a singing society – like the Casino Club; it was a social and entertainment center.

The 19th century German element in Texas was very much in favor of cultural and social pursuits, and pursued each with determination, occasionally to the horror of the more straight-laced and hard-shell Anglo community. Beer gardens and bowling alleys were looked upon with prim disapproval in the 19th century, especially on Sundays, but the German Texans remained undeterred. The Maennerchor’s historic 9-pin bowling alley has the distinction of being the oldest existing in Texas, and the third-oldest in the United States. They would like very much to restore the alley and the low, single-story building housing it, which stands at the bottom of the shady garden which is their outdoor venue – and according to the people who told us about it at Oktoberfest – is ramshackle in the extreme. I couldn’t get any pictures of it . . . but next month is Wurstfest in New Braunfels. They might not have a bowling alley there, but they do have plenty of that Texas-German Gemütlichkeit and to spare!

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Social Media Reviews Expand Your Brand Recognition

Real Estate Agents: Expand Your Brand Through Reviews

Guest Blog Post by Matt Brown

As social media becomes the norm for any business trying to expand its clientele, real estate agents have another very important way of networking. This industry thrives off of referrals and leads of satisfied customers. Now, these leads and referrals are happening online through local data providers and review sites. From the customer’s standpoint, their best referral may be from a satisfied stranger that you helped find the home of their dreams. With this in mind, real estate agents should prompt every happy customer to log in and sound off.

New advances in smart phone technology have made review sites incredibly relevant again, particularly the popular review site Yelp. Apple’s newest creation, the iPhone 4S, has a built in program called Siri that helps its users find everything they are looking for with a quick press of a button and a voice command. When it comes to a local search, the user will simply have to say “Find me a real estate agent in San Antonio”, and Siri will instantly return with a shortlist of Yelp’s best matches. These returns are based on a few different factors.

First and foremost, and hopefully most obvious, is having a Yelp profile. In the real estate industry, it is a great idea for the sponsoring brokerage and the agent to each have their own page, such as this one. Yelp profiles have space to recommend other businesses, and an agency can help its agents by placing the link to their profiles on their page storefront. It is easy to claim or create your business page on Yelp, and you’ll want to make sure you’ve filled out every available editable space with content, photos, messages, etc.

Once the page is established, encourage your customers to review it. If you have helped someone find the apartment or home they were hoping for, you have done something none of the other agents have been able to do. You’ve done the research, helped them negotiate, and set everything up for them. Yes, this is your paying job. But if they appreciate what that takes, ask them to review your performance on your Yelp page. It takes but a few minutes to create an account and give you feedback. Hopefully the feedback will be positive, but it is good to have a variety on your page. Siri will be pulling results due to proximity and pages with traffic. For growth’s sake, it’s a good idea to respond to these reviews. It makes you look very involved, and this can help in terms of new potential clients.

There is other game in the review business outside of Yelp. Yelp just happens to be in the spotlight right now.  In terms of growing your business and putting yourself in front of potential customers, there are several other local directory and review sites that may have the same opportunity as Yelp one day, so why not get yourself set up on these as well?

As some seasons yield more traffic and new customers than others, take advantage of the slower periods to build your personal brand online. As a real estate agent, you are really working for yourself. You are in charge of getting yourself out there and finding new leads. However, if you can take advantage of the great technology tools at your fingertips, you can have the leads come to you.

Guest blog post by Matt Brown
Matt is the founder of Evolving Interactive, a Chicago SEO firm. Evolving Interactive provides small and medium businesses with internet marketing services to help businesses nationwide increase their presence and reach online. Since 2008, he has developed marketing strategies to help clients achieve their marketing goals. For more information contact Evolving Interactive by email at: or call 312-454-4550

Texas Dominates Forbes 2011 List for Best Big City for Jobs

Texas Ranks Tops for New Jobs by Forbes in 2011

Written by Randy Watson

Texas Comptroller reports Forbes’ 2011 Best Cities for Jobs ranking in large cities. Texas came in tops in all three size of city categories. San Antonio was ranked 4th by Forbes for best big city for jobs.

Best Big City for Jobs

  1. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
  2. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.
  3. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
  4. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
  5. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX

Best Mid-Size City for Jobs

  1. El Paso, TX
  2. Corpus-Christi, TX
  3. Anchorage, AK
  4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
  5. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO

Best Small Cities for Jobs

  1. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX
  2. Bismarck, N.D.
  3. College Station-Bryan, TX
  4. Midland, TX
  5. Dubuque, Iowa
  6. Odessa, TX

Yes We Have Tomatoes

Reviving the Garden: Tomato Victory

by Celia Hayes

The curse on growing tomatoes in my garden has definitely been lifted: we have ripe red tomatoes on the vine, and promising clusters of green ones – and although they are not all very large, they are tasty. So the Topsy-Turvys do the trick as promised; even if they haven’t resulted in simply bushel-baskets of tomatoes, they have indeed tomatoes, which is about three steps farther than I have ever been able to go before. Next spring we will try out some of those heirloom varieties, and if my daughter, the queen of all garage sales, manages to score a few more Topsys at marked-down rates, we’ll soon have so many suspended from the tree in the back yard that it will be more than your life is worth to walk out there in a stiff wind without a hard-hat. Just consider it the marvelous hanging gardens of Spring Creek Forest, one of the seven wonders of suburbia.

The Cayenne peppers are bountiful and some of them are just beginning to turn red. I expect that when they are ready, I will pick and dry them, and turn them into pepper flakes, or pepper powder, which will keep us stocked for the foreseeable future, since that is one of those things that get used rather sparingly. My grandmother had a little tin box of Ben Hur brand cayenne pepper which lasted her forty years; no, she was not the most adventurous cook in the world. There are some bell peppers also coming up to ripening too, although the biggest is so heavy and the stem of the plant bearing it is in danger of toppling under the weight.

In other garden news, the two butterfly and humming-bird Topsys are thriving; the plants in them are, although since they are hanging in direct sunlight, the plasticized fabric they are constructed from is fading entirely. At some point, we might have to move the plants in them to the ground, if the sun disintegrates the fabric entirely. The plants that I bought in Wimberly at the beginning of summer are all doing extraordinarily well, especially the vine-thingy which is well on it’s way to taking over the trellis, and the pink-leafed potos which is . . . well, in the pink.

We hit the SA Herb Market two Saturdays ago, and added some more replacements for what was killed by last winter’s brutal cold snap: a pot of parsley, which is something I always like to have on hand, ditto some patchouli, a scented geranium . . . and a pot of sorrel, which I always used to have luck with, since I liked to make this particular dish with it.

This is from Sunset’s French Cookbook: Roast Chicken with Sorrel Stuffing

Clean and pat dry one 3-4 pound whole chicken, reserving liver, which should be chopped and sautéed in 3 Tbsp butter for about 2 minutes. Remove liver, and add 2 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions, and ¼ pound sliced mushrooms. When mushrooms are limp and lightly browned, add ¼ cup fine dry breadcrumbs, ¼ cup whipping cream, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp each salt and basil, and ¼ tsp each pepper, rubbed sage and thyme. Blend well, remove from heat and add 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley and 2 cups finely chopped sorrel. Fill body cavity of chicken with it, place on a rack in a 375 degree oven. Baste after 20 minutes with melted butter. Bake for about an hour, until leg moves easily when jiggled. Cut into quarters, and serve with stuffing, and pan juices to spoon over.

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What is Wurstfest

Wursfest, New Braunfels, Texas

Wurstfest is a unique celebration rich in German culture and full of Texas fun located in beautiful New Braunfels, Texas! Enjoy good fun, food, special events and the finest in Alpine and Bavarian Style Entertainment. During the 10-day festival, you’ll find a variety of entertainment, food and fun on the Wurstfest Grounds in Landa Park and many special events throughout New Braunfels and Comal County. The following information is provided to help answer the many questions our visitors have.

When is Wurstfest? Wurstfest always starts on the Friday before the first Monday in November.

 Future Wurstfest Dates

2011: November 4th – 13th
2012: November 2nd – 11th
2013: November 1st – 10th
2014: October 31st – November 9th
2015: October 30th – November 8th
2016: November 4th – November 13th

Lastly, where is Wurstfest? The Wurstfest festival happens in New Braunfels, Texas. Take I35 South from Austin or I 35 North from San Antonio… you can’t miss it.

From I-35 take the TX-337 Loop/TX-46 W exit.
Drive north on TX-337 Loop/TX-46 W approximately 1.5 miles to Common Street.
Turn left on Common Street.
Turn left at S Union Ave.
Take the 2nd right onto E San Antonio Street.
Turn right at Main Plaza and take the 1st right onto N Seguin Avenue.
Festival grounds will be on the right.
Parking is on the left.
For your San Antonio real estate needs, contact Randy Watson of Mission Realty

Looking Up in Late 2011

San Antonio Real Estate Looking Up in Late 2011

by Kala Bell

With the fall months dragging on, the San Antonio real estate market has seen some steady times recently. With the summer months ending, area numbers for September were pretty encouraging. The sales volume for the area was to be expected because of the economic situation of the country; however the San Antonio area boasts a different outlook than many of the markets across the nation.

San Antonio has a great job market, at least in comparison to the rest of the nation. The unemployment rate in San Antonio right now is 7.3 percent, as the national unemployment rate hovers around 9.1 percent. In fact, San Antonio was tied with the Columbus, OH market and the Pittsburgh, PA market for having the 11th best unemployment rate in the nation in August at 7.8 percent. With the percentage dropping to 7.3, the San Antonio area would possibly rank in the top five.

With the oil and agricultural industry have supported the area recently, the area has been a haven for jobs. Also, San Antonio is home to an excellent stable of military, science, medical and financial opportunities. With the numbers looking good for September, combined with a steady employment market, San Antonio looks primed to start strong in 2012. September was fruitful overall for the area as housing sales were up from 2010 and San Antonio apartments also saw an increase in sales and rentals.

For sellers, a decreased inventory is a good sign as the area is down about 2,000 homes in comparison to October 2010. The sale price in the area has been pretty steady, sitting near $188,000 for the past year. While this isn’t necessarily a good sign for sellers or buyers, it does show that the San Antonio market hasn’t really crashed as other areas have in the past year.

For San Antonio home buyers in the area, houses are staying on the market longer, which is a good sign. Even though inventory is down for buyers, they have an extended amount of time to commit to buying and make sure that a house is right for them. Interest rates are hitting national lows and the San Antonio area is no exception. The low interest rates are another factor that could drive potential home buyers back into the market in late 2011 or early 2012.
While the area isn’t exactly primed for a total resurgence, the numbers from the first nine months of the year are telling. An eight percent increase in total sales for September could help to kick start an often tough winter for the San Antonio realty market. With benefits for both buyers and sellers, the market could please both groups in late 2011.


Old Banners Become Ladies Handbags

We’ve Never Wondered About That . . .

by Celia Hayes

We did our usual ramble through the yearly San Antonio Herb Market this last weekend; It used to be much more down-home and funky when it used to be held under the oak trees in Aggie Park, but a couple of years ago it moved to tres upscale digs at the Pearl Brewery, which allowed us to hit the weekly Saturday farmer’s market as well. It’s been at least a year since we did the farmer’s market at the Pearl. To our delight there were many new venders, and some of our old favorites, including the Kitchen Pride folks from Gonzales who sell mushrooms. My daughter loves mushrooms, and indulged in a whole bag of baby portabellas, we sampled some gourmet mozzarella, while she lamented once again her capacity for making ricotta when she really, really meant to make mozzarella. (It’s a gift, I guess.)

Anyway, we hit the farmer’s market first, and walked back through the Full Goods building, and curiosity led us into one of the offices, where there were a great many tables set out, piled with colorful scraps of this and that, and a table of handbags, market bags, purses and aprons set out.

It turned out that this was where the volunteers working to revive the Women’s Pavilion in HemisFair Park had set up one of their projects, which was to make these bags and things out of used advertising banners. It seems that these enormous all-weather banners and things are one-time-use only; for sports events, conventions, street displays, to hang outside and indoors to advertise or ornament special events and all. The material they are made of is not only indestructible; the used banners can’t be buried in a land-fill, or incinerated because of all the stuff that would be released in burning, and it’s not like they can be painted over, like a billboard. So, what to do – what to do? Well, recycle them into something useful and ornamental, and what about bags and aprons?

So, the ladies of the Women’s Pavilion had worked up a number of patterns – easy to use, especially if one is of an age to have taken home economics – and solicit volunteers to come and cut out the pieces for the various items from a bale of banners made available, which would be sewn together by experts . . . and sell the resulting items to fund the restoration of the Women’s Pavilion. Some of the finished items were amazing, and ingenious – and of course the original banners had been extremely eye-catching and colorful as well. One couldn’t not make something dull, given the original material, and they certainly would be durable enough.

The San Antonio building originally was paid for almost entirely by donations and subscriptions, and designed to fit the site: lots of light and air, multi-level and flat-roofed, in a classic 1960’s modern style. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair after the HemisFair was over. The eventual hope is that the restored building being so convenient to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center and an integral part of HemisFair Park in downtown San Antonio, Texas, that it would work as an event venue: a place for classes, an exhibition space, and for civic and private events. It will take a great many bags and aprons to get there, I am sure – but the supply of raw material is nearly inexhaustible, and so is the determination of the women to make it so.

And we had never really thought about what happens to those old banners. Now we know.


Habits of Frugality Part 2

Frugality – Part Two


There are any number of ways to exercise second-hand frugality in San Antonio; one of our very favorite and every-day resources for second-hand books and movies is Half Price Books, which has several locations in San Antonio, although I’ve always been very fond of the location on Huebner. For extreme book frugality, though, nothing beats the regular library book sales, or the huge North East Independent School District PTA book sale, which is usually held in the spring, at the Blossom Athletic Center: acres of books, at 50 cents for paperback, $1 for hardbound.

San Antonio Neighborhood garage sales are a sometime thing – but a venue like Bussey’s Flea Market in Schertz is open every weekend: basically, Bussey’s is a three acre yard sale on steroids. Given unlimited funds and the use of a pickup truck, I could probably fit out an entire household with every necessity of comfortable, if not gracious living: furniture, linens, pots and pans, household décor – the lot, in a single weekend from combing the various regular and irregular vendors at Bussey’s.

In between weekends, there is always and of course the various Goodwill stores – especially the Goodwill off of IH-10 in the Medical Center area. Thrift stores located in well-to-do locations can on occasion be gold mines for the budget-minded but discriminating shopper. One of our very favorite thrift stores is the honestly-named Thrifttown, in the shopping center at Thousand Oaks and Perrin-Beitel. Quite often Thrifttown has new merchandise on the clothing racks – I presume from stores disposing of unwanted items or from the store closing entirely. Now and again, we have found top designer labels, all mixed in. For pure up-scale second-hand, though, nothing beats Too Good to Be Threw: I used to check regularly when they had a shop in Alamo Heights. Now they have four locations for clothing and furniture – all of them scattered the length of Blanco Road.

For those who simply cannot bear second-hand, there are other options to exercise frugality. These can basically be divided into two groups: one of them is the massive outlet mall in San Marcos, which seems to have quadrupled in the last fifteen years. They even added a canal with a gondola in it, in an attempt to look like Venice, I think. (It doesn’t much: I’ve been to Venice. But on the up-side, at least it doesn’t smell like Venice.) The other non-second-hand choice for frugality is the Tuesday Morning chain, of which there now seem to be ten in San Antonio alone: very, very upscale merchandise, generally. If I want to give a very posh-appearing and high-quality wedding present and not spend a bundle on it, Tuesday Morning is the very first place that I would head towards.

And finally – for the every-day frugality: the grocery store. Our local HEB has a marked-down rack, tucked away in the back of the dairy and cold-juice corner, for out-of-season seasonal items – like the Topsy-Turvy hangers that we planted tomatoes in – and for bottled sauces, spices, herb teas and other items approaching their best-if-sold-by date. One never knows what is going to be there, but it is certainly worth checking it out. We have been able to sample a great many gourmet sauces and salsas that we otherwise would never have purchased at the regular price.


2011 Annual Herb Festival At Pearl Brewery

20 Herbs to Remember

Written by Randy Watson

The 20th Anniversary of the San Antonio Herb Market presents the “20 Herbs to Remember” … at the Pearl Brewery Complex, 312 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, TX. Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

The 2011 San Antonio Herb Market. The free SAWS-sponsored event features cooking demos, lectures, and activities for the kids! Purchase fresh herbs and other plants, handmade soaps, olive oils, books and other products to delight your herbal senses. Visit with experts on organic gardening, and choose from an array of handmade gardening items to purchase for your patio, deck or yard.

The Herb Market is free and open to the public. Mark your calendars for this very special event!