Woodlands Wedding – Smouse & Martin

Taylor grew up in The Woodlands after moving to the area in the third grade, and remained in the area until going off to College Station to pursue her degree from Texas A&M University. Cullen first became familiar with The Woodlands during college when he traveled to the area to meet Taylor’s family. Together, they spent many weekends in The Woodlands during their courtship.

How did you meet?

Cullen and Taylor met through mutual friends near the end of their senior year at Texas A&M University. Their first date was an interesting one. It was Chilifest weekend and Taylor decided to come home early. She then proceeded to ask if Cullen would cut his workout short, leave the gym, and take her to get Chick-fil-A. He said yes. It was on that night that they knew there was potential. The rest of the night they spent watching Taylor’s favorite movie and talking about their future together. As a very tall girl, it’s not often you meet such a tall man!

From then on, Cullen and Taylor made it a point to see each other as often as possible and attend the remainder of their date parties together. Upon graduation from A&M they had some decisions to make because they knew the rest of their relationship would be long distance. Initially they decided to end things and focus on their careers, but it didn’t take long to rekindle their love and see how the long-distance relationship would work. It worked out!

 

Courtship/ Adventures:

After graduation Taylor moved to San Antonio, TX to work for H-E-B as a recruiter, and Cullen moved to Quantico, VA for Marine training. In the 7 months Cullen was in Quantico, they were only able to see each other twice! Taylor visited for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, and they were able to explore Quantico, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. It was during those tough months that they grew closer and began to realize this was leading to marriage. After Cullen completed training in Quantico, Taylor hopped in the car, and together they drove to his next duty station in Pensacola, FL. While Cullen was in Pensacola, they were able to see each other more often. They took trips to Destin with Taylor’s family, spent time on the beach in Pensacola, and were even able to go to the Austin City Limits Music Festival back in Texas. After Cullen’s nine months in Florida, he was stationed in Corpus Christi, TX. Finally, their cross-country relationship became just a 2-hour drive. While Cullen was in Corpus, they were able to see each other almost every single weekend, often taking trips to Austin, San Antonio, The Woodlands, and Dallas. After a year of bliss, Cullen moved again and was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, in North Carolina. Cullen and Taylor bought a house together in the small town of Sneads Ferry, NC (population 9,000), which is just a stone’s throw from the beach (her choice) and even closer to the golf course (his choice).

Proposal:

Cullen and Taylor planned to spend a weekend in Austin, TX to attend Austin City Limits (ACL) for Cullen’s 24th birthday with Taylor’s brother, Tucker, and his girlfriend, Abby. After staying out late Friday night at the festival, Cullen woke everyone up early on Saturday to go meet his family at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Following a battle with rain, Cullen was finally able to show Taylor around to a beautiful (yet muddy) archway under the trees overlooking the gardens. Both Taylor and Cullen’s families came out of hiding and watched as Cullen got on one knee. With tears in her eyes Taylor said yes!

Engagement:

After getting engaged, Taylor was excited to start planning the wedding of her dreams. She only visited two wedding venues. The first venue was beautiful, but was not part of her vision. Then she drove on-site at Balmorhea with her parents, she knew this was the perfect venue almost immediately. At the time, Cullen was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, so Taylor was able to give Cullen a virtual tour of the property to get the thumbs up, and we booked right on the spot. After this, it was time to start planning the details. There were three big things that Cullen and Taylor really wanted for their big day: a live band, great food and a great videographer to capture the big day. COVID caused their engagement to last longer than planned, but in the end, it was all worth it.

Wedding:

Cullen and Taylor planned their wedding for May 23, 2020 (the weekend of Memorial Day). A few months before the wedding, COVID-19 rocked their world, as they had to navigate through re-planning the wedding for a new date. Cullen and Taylor were able to manage getting all of their vendors (except one) on their second wedding date, August 29, 2020. Taylor and her bridesmaids got pampered by the hair and make-up team and drank champagne while getting ready. Cullen and his groomsmen were able to grab brunch at the Toasted Yolk, before getting ready at the venue. One hundred and sixty-seven of their closest family and friends joined them to celebrate their unity. This was by far the most magical day that they still cherish to this day. It truly was the best day of their lives.

 

What were the most special highlights for you of your wedding?

The most special highlights of their wedding day were the simple moments that they will cherish the most. They did a first touch where they shared personal letters to one another. The few moments that they spent together right after the ceremony when it really set in that they were married! Plus, the ride to the hotel in a getaway car where they reminisced on the magical night. Getting to see all of their closest friends and family come together under one roof to celebrate our marriage was truly the best experience ever. The live band and beer burros were a hit also.

What memories/highlights include a connection to The Woodlands?

Cullen and Taylor have many memories in The Woodlands. From many golf outings at The Woodlands Country Club to exploring many of the restaurants in the area or the car shows. One of their favorite memories was the first Christmas they spent together with Taylor’s family. They traveled through The Woodlands looking at Christmas lights sipping on some hot chocolate and traveled to the Houston Zoo lights. The Woodlands is where Cullen really got to know Taylor’s parents and brother. The Woodlands is at the top of their list of locations to settle down and start a family.

 

Where will you go on your honeymoon?

Due to COVID-19, Taylor and Cullen were unable to honeymoon following their wedding. They are currently planning a tropical honeymoon in the summer of 2021 to celebrate one year of marriage.

Where will you reside?

Taylor & Cullen currently live in a small beach town in North Carolina called Sneads Ferry. Cullen is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, so this is where they will reside for the next few years, until they move onto a new duty station. Eventually, after the military, they do have plans to settle down in The Woodlands to start a family.

 

Local Vendors:

J Low Events

Donut Junkie

C&S Transportation

Striking Stems – Tomball

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Griffiths Photography

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 1

Get Giving Ready with Holiday Home Florals and Thoughtful Gifts

It’s that time of year when you are frantically running around to different places to get gifts, while also striving to make your home festive and holiday ready. Multiple stops to the craft or department store, only to see everything picked over with no luck of finding anything that would truly fulfill your Christmas dinner table dreams.

The team at Piney Rose wants your holiday season to be as stress free as possible, and that is why we aim to make our store a one-stop-shop. The first step to making your elegant Christmas set-up would be to order your arrangements on our website and let us do the rest. Our new collection, Holiday Cheer, has four staple holiday arrangements that are artfully handcrafted with the freshest flowers in The Woodlands. We strategically designed each arrangement differently so that you could find which one would fit your home and décor inspiration the best.

Our box arrangements from The Holiday Cheer Collection come in rustic wooden boxed vases, perfect for long dining table settings or coffee tables. Included is a photo of our Grande box arrangement, which pairs nicely with white and red place settings.  This arrangement was designed for the big family holiday gatherings spent recollecting memories from previous years, laughing, crying and watching the kids run around with their cousins outside. We know it’s probably been months or maybe over a year since you last saw your extended family. Let this arrangement be there to welcome the regathering of your loved ones.

Aside from our Grande box, we also have a classic arrangement that is simple, yet still provides a beautiful staple to your home.  Add a Classic to your coffee table next to Santa’s cookies, or by a windowsill to bring warmth and cheer to your home. When your kids wake you up before sunrise to see if Santa came, let this arrangement be there next to your hot coffee while you groggily admire their pure excitement.

For those of you that are all about glamorous grand entrances, we have just the piece for you. Our Grande Tall arrangement will compliment any front door. It will also add the perfect touch of Christmas magic sitting next to your fireplace under your stockings or mantle garland. Don’t forget to add a little holiday cheer to your office as well, this piece will spice up any work setting!

Our fourth arrangement in the collection comes with a unique metallic glass vase that has engraving running through the entire thing.  This arrangement would make the perfect gift for the holiday party host, someone you haven’t seen in a while, or just to bring holiday cheer to someone’s day. Add this lavish arrangement to a cocktail table or nightstand to add extra holiday elegance to every room in the house. Now that you know the perfect places to put our arrangements in your home, make sure to visit us to preorder your arrangements today!

In addition to your staple pieces, it’s important to have the rest of your table looking inviting and fun. Interactive place settings for the kids are a great way to get them excited to sit down with the family. Add a piece of fresh garland or greenery to each place setting to keep the table looking fresh and enticing. To personalize each setting, a handwritten name tag that is festive adds character to the table and compliments your holiday theme. If you have an artist in the family, have them write your guests name in fun lettering to spice up your table’s personality even more. Adding a few colored glasses that correlate to the rest of the table is a great way to add color and wrap everything together nicely.

The secret to a great gift is to get something that seems personal to that person and looks like thought was incorporated into the gift. Piney Rose has a huge variety of gifts that range from toys, skin care, candles, home décor, crafts, outdoor accessories and more. Give gifts that are interactive and fun to do like a paint by numbers kit or a plant you can grow yourself.  We promise that you can’t go wrong with a gift from Piney Rose.

Piney Rose is a full-service floral design studio that takes pride in every colorful detail of each arrangement. We strive to make our customers happy and believe in curating moments and seasons of memories that will last a lifetime. We offer daily deliveries in the local area for all occasions as well as flower subscriptions for local flower lovers and companies. You can order through our website at www.pineyrose.com and contact us with any questions at 936-524-1540.

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 2

Festive Holiday Recipes from the Team at Jo Anne Johnson Real Estate Group

Appetizer:

ADB’s Fabulous Green Salad
Assorted Greens
Grape Tomatoes cut in halves
Mini cucumbers sliced
Sugar Snap Peas cut in thirds
Avocado diced
Orange Bell Pepper cut up
Toasted Pine Nuts
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Dressing:
1 Cup of Olive Oil
1/3 Cup of Red or White Wine Vinegar
2 tsp of Dried Oregano
1-2 Garlic Cloves minced
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Pepper
½ tsp. Mustard Powder

Side:

Sweet Potato Gratin with Gruyère Cheese
1½ Cups Heavy Cream
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 pounds Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1½ teaspoons Chopped Fresh Thyme
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
¾ teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small pot bring cream and garlic just to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Butter a 9×13-inch shallow casserole dish or gratin dish of similar size and set aside. Stir the cooling cream occasionally to help prevent skin from forming.
  2. Build the Gratin: In the buttered casserole dish, spread one quarter of the sliced sweet potatoes out in a single, overlapping layer. Sprinkle the potatoes with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme and then about ½ cup of the grated cheese. Using another quarter of the sliced sweet potatoes, build a new overlapping layer. Again, sprinkle with 1/3 of the seasonings and ½ cup of shredded cheese. Using half of the remaining sliced sweet potatoes, make another layer and sprinkle the last third of the seasonings and another ½ cup of cheese (you should have about ½ cup cheese remaining). Use the last of the sweet potatoes to make one final layer on top. Stir the garlic cream mixture then pour it evenly over the top of the gratin, being sure to cover the top layer of sweet potatoes. Shake the dish gently to distribute the cream. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  3. Cover with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, move the gratin to the top 1/3 of the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. You may also place it under the broiler for a few minutes if you wish the top to be a deeper brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Dessert:

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan-Gingersnap Crust
Crust:
1 3/4 C gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6T real butter, melted
3 T brown sugar
3/4 C ground pecans

Filling:
3 8oz blocks cream cheese
3/4 C canned pumpkin puree
6 oz melted white chocolate = 1 C white chocolate chips
1 C sugar
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves

 Topping:
–  1 C whipping cream
– 1/3 C roughly chopped pecans, caramelized
– 2 Tablespoons caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of heavy-duty foil, securely wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan. This will prevent leaks when using the water bath.

For Crust: Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then do pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch. To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs). Pour mixture on top of the crust.

Place cheesecake pan inside of a larger pan. The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth. Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. It will finish cooking while cooling. When it’s done, remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.  When ready to serve spread sweetened whipped cream on top, drizzle caramel sauce over it, and sprinkle with pecans.

 

About Jo Anne Johnson Real Estate Group, Compass

 

Jo Anne Johnson knows The Woodlands real estate market. She has been building her residential real estate business, hyper-focused on The Woodlands, Spring, Magnolia and Conroe, since 2008.  Jo Anne and her team credit their success to the ongoing mission of service to their community and the company mantra of:  Faith, Integrity, Relationships. Giving back to the community and others who have so graciously supported Jo Anne and her business is engrained in her business model.  Helping their clients move forward with the greatest care and expertise drives their business, and is reflected in over 500 HAR 5-Star Client Experience Reviews.  The team has consistently ranked in Houston Business Journal’s Top 25 for Small Teams since 2013. Jo Anne Johnson Real Estate Group proudly supports Interfaith of The Woodlands.

 

 

JoAnneJohnsonRealEstateGroup.com
25511 Budde Rd., Ste #1701
The Woodlands, TX 77380
713.703.3316

Countdown to Giving: Day 3

Students Spread Cheer and Make an Impact with Operation Christmas Child

NJHS and NHS students at The Woodlands Christian Academy, in keeping with the school’s mission and vision, led the way in organizing a massive school-wide fundraiser in support of Operation Christmas Child. An initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child is an annual campaign responsible for mailing shoeboxes to thousands of underprivileged young people around the world.

NJHS students hosted a donation collection drive, calling on the entire student body to participate. Donations included everyday essentials — toothbrushes, socks, bar soap — as well as school supplies and age-appropriate toys — crayons, coloring books, and Play-doh — in an effort to give these children practical items as well as something to smile about during the holiday season. All students in Pre-K through 12th grade participated in assembling the shoe boxes. Donations made toward an on-campus car wash and spirit nights at local restaurants helped support the $9 shipping cost incurred for each box.

Middle school teacher and NJHS club sponsor, Jennifer Russell identified opportunities for students to learn valuable lessons in servant leadership, global citizenship and empathy, and to truly grasp the hardships recipients of the boxes could be facing on a daily basis. For example, lessons in sustainability were introduced with the instruction to remove all plastic casings from the products as many communities around the world would not have a place to dispose of the wrappers. Middle school and high school students were told to imagine what life might look like for the recipient of their shoebox, how they were similarly a child with hopes and dreams, then write a letter to that child.

 

In total, students at Woodlands Christian packaged 607 shoeboxes. These will be distributed worldwide at outreach events where children will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel message and join a discipleship program. Every year, thousands of churches are started as a result of Operation Christmas Child. Who knew one small act of giving could have such large and lasting implications?

 

Established in 1993, The Woodlands Christian Academy is a PreK – 12th grade college preparatory school that integrates learning with biblical faith and challenges students to reach their highest potential – spiritually, academically, physically and socially. The school is committed to raising servant leaders who will impact their world for Christ.

Woodlands Christian offers a rigorous academic program with an individualized teaching approach. Small class sizes and a large campus make social distancing possible. Woodlands Christian is now enrolling grades PreK – 12th for the 2021-2022 school year. For more information visit twca.net.

Countdown to Giving: Day 4

Perfecting Your Holiday Smile!

If your smile isn’t all that you wish it were this holiday season, it can leave you lacking self-confidence and dreading those annual Christmas card photos.  Given the year we are finally leaving behind, one of the most important investments you can make in the new year is in your mental health. This includes your self-confidence. Dr. Scott Young can help build your confidence and self esteem by designing and creating the smile makeover you have always dreamed of. In just two simple visits, any imperfections you dislike about your smile can be permanently corrected.

Training and experience are paramount when it comes to creating natural, aesthetic smiles. Dr. Young has been a sought-after cosmetic dentist in The Woodlands and surrounding areas for over 17 years. He has completed tens of thousands of cosmetic restorations and brought back the self-confidence of thousands of patients from all around the country. Having trained at the world-renown Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), following graduation from The University of Texas Dental Branch, Dr. Young learned the most contemporary techniques and technologies offered in cosmetic dentistry and has since built upon that foundation for many years.

“Smiles by Dr. Young”

From all-porcelain veneers to full smile makeovers, single dental implants to full mouth restorations, the team at Scott Young, D.D.S. is trained and equipped to provide these procedures with the skill, technology and perfection you would expect from cosmetic dental professionals. Along with Dr. Katy Akers, a highly skilled board-certified periodontist, and Dr. Leah Zils, a long-time associate of the practice, your complete smile makeover can all be done under one roof. You can take comfort in knowing the dental professionals working on your case are all in the same office utilizing the same highly skilled team and state-of-the-art technology, without the necessity of visiting multiple offices for multiple appointments,

An amazing new feature that Dr. Scott Young now offers is virtual consults. With just a few clicks on your phone or computer and the submission of just a few selfie shots, Dr. Young will send you a personalized complimentary video discussing how he thinks he can improve your smile. In the age of digital technology and the demand for virtual visits, this service has been incredibly popular for those individuals who feel more comfortable consulting from home.

If you have been considering upgrading your smile, there is no better time than now. If you are searching for an exceptionally luxurious experience and unparalleled care, you can entrust your smile to Dr. Scott Young and team. Follow them on Instagram at @scottyoungdds or give them a call and get started today!

Scott Young, DDS
6769 Lake Woodlands Dr, Suite G
The Woodlands Texas 77382
scottyoungdds.com
281.367.5559
Instagram @scottyoungdds

Countdown to Giving: Day 5

Canopy: Your Second Family During the Holidays, and Year Round

“You have cancer.” Three words that will forever change your life and thrust you into a world of shock, confusion and fear. We hope the next three words you hear will change this, allow you to exhale, and feel a sense of hope and comfort: “Welcome to Canopy.”

Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center is a caring community of optimism, healing and empowerment, nestled on the campus of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. A first-of-its-kind cancer survivorship center in the greater Houston area, Canopy enhances the quality of life for individuals affected by cancer and for those who support them during their journey. When you walk through the doors of Canopy, you are no longer fighting cancer alone. You are greeted with warmth, and the wisdom and compassion of so many who have battled cancer before you.

Every visitor to Canopy is referred to as a guest. Regardless of where a person is in their cancer journey, or where they may be receiving medical treatment – a patient, a long-time survivor, a friend, a relative, or a care provider – everyone is a guest at Canopy and welcome to receive support and services.

Canopy offers an average of over 50 programs every month to hundreds of the guests, and at no cost to the individuals receiving the services. Cancer treatment is costly, complex and time-consuming. Canopy eliminates barriers by providing all services free of cost, in one location, and by professionals who are knowledgeable about the cancer treatment spectrum. The unique variety of programming and services seamlessly work together to fulfill the wellness needs of the guests – emotionally, physically and socially.

Canopy operates solely on philanthropic funds. Community support is critical for Canopy to ensure that services and programs continue to be provided to the guests that need them the most.

Certainly, 2020 has been a year where we have all been encouraged to keep our distance. It’s become easy to feel disconnected and isolated, especially during the holiday season. This year, more than ever, we hope that people seek and find comfort at Canopy. We have some fun holiday activities planned for guests and their families virtually, and guests are always welcome to come by and visit us to see the Canopy Christmas tree and decorations, and to pick up their annual Christmas ornament that brings comfort to so many during the season.

Teresa Jarbor, a guest at Canopy, has used several of the programs and services, and thinks of it as a safe haven and second family, especially during the holidays. “During the holidays, it’s the chance to be with people that understand how you feel and celebrate another year. I’ve met so many people during this process,” she shared. “I’m going to miss the festivities and getting together. It was the support of being around other survivors that gave me so much encouragement – some of these women are 20-year survivors! I knew I was not alone, that’s what I love about Canopy. We are all survivors and fighters, together.”

Want to learn more about Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center? Interested in making a donation to help make programs and classes possible for community guests and cancer survivors? Simply visit cancer.memorialhermann.org/canopy or call 713.897.5939 to get started.

 

*All photos taken prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 6

Safe Air Travel for the Holidays (and beyond!)

Commercial air travel has become more cumbersome and challenging in recent years due to additional safety measures, space constraints and shrinking amenities. The added complexities caused by the novel COVID-19 Pandemic have made private air travel all the more appealing this holiday season and beyond.

Wing Aviation mid-size cabin Citation Latitude taking off from the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport, with the Galaxy FBO facilities in the background.

A few of the notable advantages of flying Private vs Commercial are (and will always be):

  • Ability to fly directly to over five thousand public-use and private airports in United States, which may be closer to your departure point. There are over ten times more airport options to choose from compared to commercial airports. In addition, all airlines have modified their schedules, offering less direct flights out of Houston.
  • Fly on your own schedule; depart whenever you want and manage any delays or itinerary changes more efficiently.
  • You can select the right aircraft for the right mission; Wing Aviation features the largest Texas based Jet Charter Fleet; offering light-jet, mid-size cabin to large cabin options. Depending on your passenger size and destination, we can find the aircraft for your travel needs.
  • Spend less time at the airport – no check-ins, no baggage claims, no TSA security checkpoints – be in the air in minutes! Wing Aviation utilizes fixed base operations, such as the Galaxy FBO at the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport (CXO). As a result, you can be up in air, from your home in The Woodlands to the clear skies within 30 minutes. U.S. Customs at the CXO Airport make international arrivals seamless.

    Wing Aviation’s Embraer Legacy 600 Large Cabin Private jet offers ample seating for 13 passengers, with a transcontinental range.

    Perhaps most enticingly, flying private allows you to have the entire aircraft to yourself! A Washington Post article outlined how the airlines lack space, comparing a Boeing 737 fuselage to a typical New York apartment. While the Boeing 737 has been around since the 1960s, and has now adapted many next generation technical capabilities, this popular single aisle domestic airliner confines passengers to less than seven square feet of space.

    Wing Aviation offers the largest Gulfstream Jet Fleet for charter in Texas. These ultra-long range private jets are capable of going anywhere in North America or Europe non-stop.

Overall, chartering a private jet (or owning one), provides the optimal peace of mind and flexibility for your travel needs; for the holidays, 2021 and beyond!

Visit wingaviation.com/charter to learn more about our Houston area private jet charter offerings.

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 7

Make Your Home A Showstopper for the Holidays

The holidays are all about bringing joy and warmth to the home. We strive to create an environment filled with gratitude and wonder that invites loved ones to feel at home.

Making your home a showstopper isn’t all about the tree. Adorn your mantles by arranging fresh cedar and plush roses. Not only will your home be filled with a warm festive scent of the holidays, it will also make a fresh and natural statement throughout the New Year.

Drape your stairways in cedar and magnolia garlands, bringing in that deep red or snowy white from roses that make you long for a cozy fire and warm hot chocolate.

Veer from the usual and enhance your décor with the fresh earthy tones of pine and evergreen around a white candle or clear hurricane. The glow will seem much cozier with fresh scents in the air and warm light illuminating every corner of your home.

From the living room to the powder bath, all spaces can feel natural and beautiful, creating scenes that you can enjoy throughout the entire winter season. Friends and family will sense and feel the warmth and love of your hospitable touch.

We wish you a warm and bright Holiday Season and the happiest of New Years and hope that all of your family and friends will feel the true warmth of your love and gratitude.

Donna’s Home Furnishings, 2 beautiful showrooms of collected finds for your home, and GIFTS for you and yours.
Donna’s Home Furnishings
Conroe Location: 5629 W. Davis St. Conroe, TX 77304
The Woodlands Location: 27702 I-45 N. The Woodlands, TX 77385
936.828.3788
Dhfonline.com

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 8

Walkin’ in a Waffle Wonderland

Fun ways to incorporate this unique treat into all of your holiday festivities.

  1. Waffle Wednesday Date Night

Think waffles are just for breakfast? Think again! When the weather turns cold and the nights get long, head out mid-week with your sweetheart to enjoy a warm waffle, a scoop of your favorite ice cream, and a steaming cup of hot chocolate to kindle the holiday spirit.

  1. Challenge Yourself

Have you ever had a Belgian waffle? No, like a real Belgian waffle? When frozen waffles and boxed mixes leave something to be desired, try your hand at a scratch recipe. Our recommendation? No waffle is more worthy of your time and energy than the glorious Liége style waffle. Made from brioche-like dough (not batter) and loaded up with caramelized clusters of Belgian pearl sugar in every bite, this waffle reigns supreme. But beware, it is no easy task to master the Liége style recipe. Need some help? Head over to Press Waffle Co. and we will give you our handcrafted recipe to try at home.

  1. Bring the Family Together

Icing Cookies? Building gingerbread houses? How about Decorating Waffles?

Start a new Christmas tradition that is sure to please the whole family. Colorful sprinkles, melted chocolate, fresh fruits, and crushed candy canes are just a few of the endless possible toppings that go well with waffles! Don’t forget the whipped cream!

  1. Not Another Cheese Plate

Want to be the hit of this years’ Christmas party? Bring waffles! You’d be amazed at the number of savory toppings that go well with waffles. Create your own bite sized appetizers with waffles instead of crackers or toast. Need some suggestions? Try these winning combinations:

Brie + Fig Jam

Bacon + Honey

Gruyere + Prosciutto

  1. Santa Loves Waffles Too!

Forget Milk & Cookies, give Santa the treat he really wants with some chocolate covered waffles and an ice-cold glass of milk. You’ll be on the ‘nice list’ next year for sure!

Now Open in Creekside Park West!

Press Waffle Co. specializes in fully customizable authentic Belgian waffles, savory waffle creations, milkshakes & ice cream, and locally roasted coffee.

www.presswaffleco.com
346-808-7874

Countdown to Giving: Day 9

A CHRISTMAS HEARTH STORY- Holiday Celebrations Around the World

As I lay on the rug in front of the crackling fireplace, squishing up with Dante, my Saint Bernard, I stare at the ceiling, breathe in the sweet scent of our newly decorated Christmas tree, and wonder what my friend, Jose, is doing to celebrate Christmas this year in Mexico. He once told me the story of the Posada (inn), which honors the bible’s story of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter to give birth to baby Jesus. Lasting nine nights, each night focuses on a character trait such as humility, trust, joy, and generosity. He said the fun part is being in a procession with family and friends, and visiting someone’s house which represents the Posada, and is adorned with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns. I can almost feel the energy and see the vibrant colors of their celebration; and I imagine my friend, running and yelling “Feliz Navidad”, singing traditional songs, striking pinatas, eating tamales, and wrapping up the festivities with prayer. It would be so cool to be there with him.

For many of my friends, including Carlo in Italy, Christmas is a religious celebration. Italians celebrate ‘Epiphany’ (Jesus’s baptism), and children receive gifts from the Three Wise Men; although in some households it is Befana, an old lady, who fills children’s stockings, and Babbo Natale who brings gifts. Katharina told me that in Germany they celebrate ‘Advent’, the coming of Christ, on Christmas Eve, and children are visited by Nikolaus, who places chocolates and small gifts in children’s shoes on December 6th. Krampus (half goat, half demon) may also visit, punishing or takes naughty children away. I shudder when I think of Krampus. I reflect for a moment, and feel pretty good that Krampus wouldn’t visit me, thankfully.

I’ve always been curious about my friends Levy, Jafari, Sergy and Akihiro’s celebrations. They live in Israel, Africa, Russia and Japan. Levy celebrates Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, which lasts for eight days and celebrates the historical uprising against their Greek-Syrian oppressors, and rededication to the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Each night Levy lights a candle, recites blessings, and sings hymns with his family. Jafari also lights candles, seven of them, representing principles such as self-determination, purpose, unity, and creativity. Jafari’s celebration, Kwanzaa, celebrates and gives thanks to his black culture and community. In Russia, where Christmas was once banned, Sergy said people celebrate on New Year’s, when Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter, Sneguorchka, bring children gifts. Akihiro says that they give gifts to each other to spread cheer and happiness; and their special day is Christmas Eve when they celebrate romance, like our Valentine’s day. My friend, Arjun, says in India they decorate banana or mango trees; in Singapore, trees are decorated with candy and teddy bears; and in the Ukraine, they add spiders – eek!

As I reach for one of Santa’s cookies, only because I put too many out, Dante rolls over, pinning me down, and stares at me with that “Are you going to share?” look. Of course, I share, and lay back and imagine the foods my friends all around the world eat during their celebrations. The gingerbread tingles in my mouth, and I think about panettone in Italy, Israel’s latke’s, France’s bûche de Noël, Russia’s sochivo, England’s Christmas pudding, and even Finland’s salt-fish, which I am not sure I would like more than turkey! Oh, and did you know, in Japan they eat fried chicken for Christmas! When I think of my friends and their families gathered around their dinner table in celebration, what I realize is that food is often at the heart (or belly!) of all the celebrations, bringing people together.

Dante drools on my leg, but his head is too heavy to move and I don’t want to wake him as he could bark and scare Santa, who I’m quietly waiting to greet. I stay put, anticipating the sound of reindeer hooves.  My Finnish friend, Kaapo, told me about all the reindeers, more than 20,000, that the people look after for Santa. I hope I get a glimpse of one tonight. As I lay here in anticipation, I know there is so much more to the rich history of my friends’ unique celebrations, but the common thread we all share is the celebration of life, family, and community!

Hyvää joulua, Śubh krisamas, Chag Molad Sameach, Buon Natale, and Meri Kurisumasu! Cunae International School wishes everyone a safe Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Cunae International School is a small, independent private school, that has, for 15 years, engaged in developing smart minds and warm hearts, through a relevant and challenging curriculum, and a compassionate and supportive culture of community. To learn more, visit www.DoorToMyschool.com, or call 281.516.3770. Location: Creekside Park, The Woodlands.

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