After five years, Houstory heading off to first trade shows!

It’s hard to believe our little company started in early 2007. That seems a long time ago. But here we are.

And now, after loads of research and development — and just plain hard work —  we are excited to be attending our first trade shows, starting this next weekend. This trip will be a lot of fun — kind of like showing off a project at the science fair. The blood, sweat and tears have already been spilled. Now it’s up to the judges. 🙂

Our first stop will be the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show & Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Va. (March 4-6). Attendees from all over the East Coast will be on hand. We’re  looking forward to meeting a lot of innkeepers, and hearing the interesting stories behind their properties.

The following weekend, we travel to Philadelphia for the Designer Craftsmen & Historic Home Show (March 10-11). Check out our profile for the show. If you live in Philadelphia, or will be in attendance, please stop by our booth and say, “hi.”

These are only the first two of many conferences we will be attending in 2012. We’ll write more on future plans at a later date.

Finally, we want to say “thank you” to everyone who has supported us along the way. We couldn’t have arrived at this point without the support of our family, friends, colleagues, vendors and — of course — loyal customers.  This especially goes out to our lovely wives — and much better halves — Tasi and Patty!

As we will be on the road next week, I’m not sure if we’ll have a blog posting or not. I hope to give some updates on how things are going from the road via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, so please make sure to follow us there.

Wish us luck!

POLL: Do you have any significant home renovations planned for 2012?

As we progress into 2012, we at Houstory Publishing are curious: What changes do you have planned for your home this year? Maybe you’ll be painting the bedroom, replacing your kitchen cabinets or putting in new wiring? Or perhaps it will be something even more demanding — such as the addition of a new wooden deck, or a comprehensive living room makeover?

We want to know what your plans are, and so do other house lovers! Make sure to take the poll below, and leave a comment with some specifics.

And if you do have renovation plans, hopefully your project won’t end up being a nightmare.

Renovations are important components of your house’s story, so make sure you are safely recording and preserving them somewhere! Take photos (before and after); log key dates; cite materials used (such as paint colors) and document any other information you think may be beneficial for those who may live there in the future.

They will thank you for your efforts later.


My Hutong Heartbreak: Beijing’s destruction of ancient neighborhoods slowly ending a way of life

Back in July 2004 — while taking a break from my job teaching Taiwanese school children English — I took a trip to Beijing. I remember one day my girlfriend (and now wife) rented bicycles, and were fortunate enough to spend the better part of the morning exploring some of the city’s hutong. For those who may not know what the hutong are, they are old traditional alleyways and courtyard homes that once existed all over the city.  The below video (the first of four chapters) does a beautiful job illustrating their place in the city’s ancient history. Fascinating stuff.

As we pedaled along, I remember women hanging laundry; families preparing food through open windows; colorful doors and a feeling of community. These alleyways seemed to stretch on forever. It was a kind of history — with buildings dating back many centuries — that I couldn’t fathom, being from the relatively “new” Western coast of the United States.

Simply put, I was in awe.

Honestly, the next time I thought of the hutong was just prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hearing that these remarkable communities — so full of life — were being ripped down in advance of the games to develop structures such as office buildings and roads felt like a kick in the gut.

Fast forward to a recent article in the Atlantic on the continuing and devastating destruction of the hutong in Beijing, and the sadness has retuned again. It’s easy to forget that historical preservation struggles happen all the time, all over the planet unless you are constantly reminded of them.

Rainy Beijing --- July 2004

Of course I’m not arguing that all new development is inherently wrong. However, it is important that the decision makers put forth a good-faith effort to acknowledge the development’s impact on the historical, environmental and general welfare of the community in which they are building — and not just trying to make a quick profit or a superficial cosmetic upgrade.

Sadly, from what I’ve been able to find,  it seems as if the latter reasons are the primary motivating factors in the case of the hutong.

While the rise of the Chinese economy and its place on the world stage has been flabbergasting, it has obviously come at a price, as The Atlantic author Jonathan Kaiman shares in the article.

“At the height of the city’s headlong rush to modernity in the 1990s, about 600 hutong were destroyed each year, displacing an estimated 500,000 residents. Seemingly overnight, the city was transformed from a warren of Ming dynasty-era neighborhoods into an ultramodern urban sprawl, pocked with gleaming office towers and traversed by eight-lane highways,” writes Kaiman.

For many, this loss of history is a tough pill to swallow. Some groups, such as the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP), are doing their part to stem this tide.
If you are interested in the hutong, and historical preservation, please see an important video series on the hutong produced by Beijing-based videographer and photographer Jonah Kessel.

— Dan Hiestand, Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

This week, a little less home history and a little more hamburger

By Dan Hiestand — Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

Like everyone else these days, I don’t seem to have  enough time. Which is why this week, I’m taking the ‘easy road’ when it comes to a blog post. Mike —  my brother and business partner — and I are preparing for our first trade shows next month, so I’m having to cut back a little on social media output. I will be back next week, but this week it’s a holiday from home history.

Yes -- I will do this again. Gotta love the jelly oozing out!

And what better way to take a break then with some good food? I recently moved to Austin, Texas to start Houstory operations down south  (although the company is still based in Ferndale, Wash., where Mike lives). It’s been a lot of fun. Last weekend, my parents came and visited me and my wife so of course we had to show them a good time, Texas style. And like any trip down to the Lone Star state, it included a lot of history (tours of the state capitol, a visit to the supposedly haunted and historic Driskill Hotel, etc.) and — perhaps more importantly — food excursions.  Go big, or go home, right?

I’m pretty sure I’ve gained about 10 pounds since moving down there — between all the Tex-Mex cuisine, barbecue and southern cooking I’ve enjoyed. Well, the debauchery continued last weekend with a stop at Smitty’s Cafe and Bakery in Brenham, Texas. With portions the size of human heads, there is plenty of food to go around. I’ve included images of two of their specialities: a hamburger featuring peanut butter and it’s good friend, strawberry jelly — as well as chicken fried steak covered in queso and salsa.

Hanging on the wall at Smitty's...

My parents split this masterpiece. This is just one half!

For good measure, I also included the  “Cowboy 10 Commandments” which was hanging in the restaurant.

Enjoy, and see you next week for more home history. 🙂

Houstory Publishing giving away a Home History Book archival journal

Houstory™ Publishing, LLC, wants to give you a Home History Book Deluxe archival journal. The company is the creator of the Home History Book™ archival journal series, a new, refreshingly simple product line designed to help record, preserve and share a home’s unique past as well as its present stories.

To enter our giveaway contest, simply go to our Facebook page, ‘like’ us and sign up with your name and e-mail.

A 'baby book for the home,' the Home History Book is designed to help record, preserve and share a home’s unique past as well as its present stories.

Houstory is a new company — basically in the “infant” stages — and wants to get the word out about its high-quality product line. What’s the most efficient way to do this? Give it away, of course!

So, not only will you be helping out a new company — started by a couple of brothers — but you have a chance to win a seriously impressive book that should last you a very long time. Hand-bound in the U.S., and made with Forest Stewardship Council®-certified paper and environmentally friendly, deluxe faux leather, the Home History Book Deluxe archival journal is a one-of-a-kind display piece.

For more information on our book, please visit