Treasures Mom Will Love

Top Treasures for Mom
Something Shiny- Stop by Cassio Creations in Hughes Landing to surprise mom with a stunning piece of custom created or existing jewelry to dazzle Mom and thank her for all of her many sacrifices.

Pampered Perfection– Make an appointment to spoil Mom at the Beauty Lounge for a fresh new look or to relax with a luxurious mani/pedi at Plush Nail Bar.

Shop ‘Til You Drop– Take Mom out to Market Street where she will have her pick of fabulous stores including Tory Burch, Club Monaco, J. McLaughlin, and Vineyard Vines among others, then enjoy a tantalizing brunch and “MOMosa” at True Food Kitchen.

Take a Trip– Getting away is good for the soul and helps to recharge the mind. Consult our friends at Fox Travel for the perfect getaway for you and Mom to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Capture the Moment– Make an appointment for a special family portrait. We aren’t promised tomorrow and the children change every day. Derrick Bryant Photography can capture your family in a picture that will become a treasured family heirloom.

Take a Hike or Swing through The Trees– We are blessed with amazing trails in The Woodlands, including the new trailhead in Creekside Park off Dr. Ann Snyder Way. For the thrill-seeker Mom, take her out for a day to the new Texas TreeVentures ropes course behind the Rob Fleming Recreation Center in Creekside Park.

Special Celebration Brunch– Enjoy a special brunch and day out for Mom while making a difference at the Fair Trade Fashion Show at Lord of Life Church, or take in a performance at The Glade Gallery Foundation with world-renowned pianist, Matthew Kent. Both are events moms and daughters alike are sure to cherish.

Gorgeous Gifts– From candles to clothing and everything in between, Tumbleweeds and Notions has the perfect gift for every occasion. Mother’s Day is no exception, check out their custom-illustrated Woodlands Prints just in time to celebrate Mom.

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles– The fun atmosphere, tasty cupcakes, and champagne at Cupcakes and Bubbles are a treat any mom will love, for added fun, sign up for one of the cupcake decorating classes or go out as a group and reserve the private party room!

For the Mom Who Has Everything– Visit the elegant and luxurious Post Oak Motor Cars and surprise mom with a breathtaking new ride. Post Oak Motor Cars is Houston’s only authorized Bentley dealership, Texas’ only Bugatti and Karma dealership and the Gulf Coast’s largest authorized Rolls-Royce dealership. The class and sophistication of the vehicles coupled with the unparalleled customer care experience would be the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. Bow included!

Coffee Talk in The Woodlands

Coffee with a friend is like capturing happiness in a cup.” – Unknown

Coffee has been described as a hug in a mug. I definitely need a few of those caffeine-infused hugs each day. There are now a growing number of quaint locally-owned, coffee shops popping up in The Woodlands. Whether you need a cup of java to jump-start your morning or end your evening, one of the many neighborhood offerings can fill your cup. Thankfully, just as we all have our double pump preferences for our coffee, each of the locations has its own personality and “perks” to satisfy your caffeine craving.

Levure Bakery & Patisserie– Now with 2 locations in The Woodlands. This coffee shop with a European atmosphere is known for amazing pastries and freshly baked bread.

Try: Cappuccino and the amazing croissants


Blue Door– A philosophy close to our heart…building community. Located on the Waterway, Blue Door offers seriously good coffee and is perfect when you are out for a stroll – you may even bump into a celebrity! Brad Paisley did an impromptu acoustic set at The Blue Door on his last trip to The Woodlands.

Try: Iced Latte or Café Mocha


3rd Gen Coffee– An urban-industrial feel with incredible coffee selections for the serious coffee connoisseur. Definitely the hippest cup in town.

Try: Espresso Macchiato, Cortado or the Nitro Cold Brew


Momentum– Millennials and hip moms both regularly make the trek here off the Grand Parkway for their attention to detail and love in every cup – and the avocado toast!

Try: Latte with one of their special syrups


Copper Coil– Featuring drive-thru craft lattes and BYOM specials, it is the perfect spot for your joe-on-the-go. Located on 1488.

Try: The Beloved or The Flannel


Hebrews Community Coffee– The coffee that comes to you. The Hebrews Community Coffee vintage café trailer can be found regularly at Deacon Baldy’s, local congregations, and your own special event. They recently provided amazing coffee for the staff at Interfaith.

Try: Cold Brew


The Kitchen– Perfect for a business meeting or a quick cup with a friend. The central location, spot-on joe, and excellent service make The Kitchen a constant in the rotation.

Try: Latte with Oat Milk


The Wheel Kitchen– If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, The Wheel Kitchen is a lovely spot on the outskirts of Creekside Park (off Hufsmith-Kuykendahl Road). The farm-to-table food and outdoor patio in a beautiful, serene setting is worth the effort.

Try: Bullet Coffee or the Iced Matcha

So the next time you are procaffeinating (the tendency not to start anything until you’ve had a cup of coffee), or just want to catch up with a friend, check out one of these local options for your caffeine fix.

Texas Tree Top Adventure in The Woodlands

Just in time for spring, a new outdoor aerial adventure taking advantage of the beautiful, natural wooded setting of The Woodlands is set to open. The high ropes course, TreeVentures will offer nature lovers and thrill seekers alike an unparalleled physically and mentally challenging adventure up in the “canopy” of the trees.

Families, teens, scouts, and team building groups are all likely to find this a welcome addition to the numerous hiking and biking trails available in our area, several of which pass directly by the course. TreeVentures is not meant to be a quick trip, rather a destination excursion or a day trip, that will entice guests to stay and linger in the serene setting of The Woodlands after the 3-hour block on the course. Located on the campus of The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park, the course is nestled among 1,800 acres of the George Mitchell Nature Preserve. The location includes an entertaining wooden playground structure (free for families), and large picnic grounds complete with cornhole and horseshoe games.

Guests enter the course by crossing on an elevated boardwalk, check in and get fitted for the safety equipment at the treehouses, then head out on the four-story wooden structure complete with rope netting, 55-gallon drums, etc. Various levels of difficulty are presented as participants traverse a series of poles, cables, and other elements. The Woodlands Township has invested heavily in the safety features and training of the staff as well as the structure itself.  With a maximum capacity of 73, they are focused on the quality of the experience, rather than the number of individuals that come through the course. “Our goal is not to get as many people as we can into the park. We hope to provide an outstanding outdoor experience that will leave guests delighted and eager to return for another adventure,” shared Christopher Nunes, Director of Parks and Recreation, The Woodlands Township.

While they believe TreeVentures will be a local favorite for Woodlands residents, they are also hoping to use the park to lure visitors from other areas, “we are hoping to attract and extend the stay of visitors to the area. We see Tree Ventures as a potential new draw to the area that will benefit the businesses and the community as a whole due to additional tax revenue from visitors,” stated Nunes.

Texas TreeVentures is a wonderful embodiment of George Mitchell’s vision of blending nature with development for The Woodlands.  Don’t miss your chance to try out the course that is set to open this month!

Details :

Open Year-Round

Reservations Advised

Weight limit- 275 lbs


Cost- $40 online, $45 on-site (prices are discounted for younger children)

More details are available here:


Wedding Trends

Whether you want your occasion to be large or small, simple or elaborate, traditional or contemporary, creating a personalized wedding experience for your guests will leave a lasting impression. Now more than ever, couples are spending their time and money on creating surprising, memorable, and Instagram worthy moments. Making sure guests leave with just as much elation as the couple in love is now the biggest wedding trend of all. We spoke with several wedding- and party-planning experts around The Woodlands to get the insider scoop on what fun new ideas couples have been seeking out in entertainment, food, decor and style.


Nestled inconspicuously amongst 17 wooded acres just north of The Woodlands is the Spanish meets English Madera Estates. Ian Ramirez, who runs the family owned and operated wedding estate, graciously walked us around, the very morning they happened to be hosting a wedding showcase. The lush property was built by his family as an all-inclusive wedding venue and was the perfect backdrop for showcasing several Houston area wedding vendors. Madera hosts weddings year-round, as it has the capability to provide both indoor and outdoor events.

As soon as we walked through the property, we noticed an impressive, 17-foot, custom stone fireplace. Ian explained they had designed it based off a 1930s postcard from Central Mexico. The fireplace provides the perfect backdrop for nuptials as well as entertainment. Further back on the property, he showed us a large teepee adorned with fresh flowers. Unique items like these are a huge draw for the wedding planners of today.

Wedding entertainment is traditionally rooted in creating a romantic backdrop for the celebratory dances and lively bands, whose focus is to get the party started. While the wedding band isn’t going anywhere, Ian, a professionally trained opera singer himself, says, “Entertainment is no longer limited to one band or a DJ after dinner. It tends to be a continuous stream of unexpected entertainers.” He has hosted sketch artists, opera singers, magicians and astrologers—just to name a few.

He said there is also a big call for casual entertaining before or after the reception. Lawn games, family entertaining areas and al fresco lighting, within an overall chill garden party, has made its way in addition to or in place of the more formal reception. When entertaining your guests throughout the big day it seems there are no longer any rules; to guarantee a wow factor and a smile, the less expected, the better.

Food as Theatre

When it comes time for choosing the meal, less emphasis is being placed on the seated option. The formality of the event is still there, but couples are choosing theatrical food stations with non-traditional cuisine that speaks specifically to the couple’s journey. Couples are requesting smaller plates and adding courses. Jennifer Coyle, an event planner and owner of Fete, says she gets requests for “sushi bars, build your own slider bars and taco bars.” In other words, “taking street food and making it gourmet.” At Madera Estates we saw a signature, vintage popcorn cart strategically placed adjacent to the bar. Offering guests make-your-own food and drink stations, like coffee bars, mimosa bars and prosecco bars, seems to be part of enhancing the experience. “Couples are opting out of party favors and choosing snacks and late night bites so guests can have more fun in the moment,” says Coyle. Smaller bites throughout the event allows the couple to get creative and have fun with a lighthearted menu. Annemarie McKay, the Private Events Director at The Woodlands Country Club, said she doesn’t see this trend going anywhere. “Donuts were the big stars last year, but pretzels seem to really be making their way into the spot light,” Mckay says. “In this particular area, you are seeing couples add their personalities here. A bride and groom may share the love for brunch food and while it might not be ‘traditional’ to serve a meal of chicken and waffles to the guest for a dinner entrée, you are seeing them embrace the idea of serving mini chicken and waffles for a late night bite instead.”

Flower Power

Trendy color palettes come and go, but lately we are seeing couples more interested in creating an overall personalized vibe. We added florists to the list of vendors who, in general, are being tasked with creating more moments that add to the overall guest experience. Based out of her boutique Tomball storefront, Maggie Baily is the owner at Bramble and Bee and a wedding and special events florist. Maggie says, “We are getting a lot of requests for wow factor moments. Our clients would rather forgo the floral centerpieces and instead focus our energy on creating large photographable moments.” Think big, personalized floral walls that act as backdrops for the cakes, place cards, or photobooths. “Brides with a limited budget can now focus on one or more statement centerpieces in the middle of the room, have flowers draping down length of the table, or even have an epic floral arch.” Anne McKay at The Woodlands Country Club also uses budget-friendly balloons to make an impact with flower power. “Not just regular balloons, but the very large, big balloons. People are using them as backdrops for photo areas, ballroom drops and even small, custom-design elements.” Bridal bouquets are trending towards understated and often are compiled using local flowers. Prince Harry hand-picked Meghan Markle’s bouquet from their private garden, escalating the trend to use meaningful blooms to honor loved ones or create a new family tradition.

Something Borrowed

The Royal Wedding has come and gone, but Meghan Markle made a lasting impression last spring with her simple and understated Givenchy wedding gown. Wedding dress minimalism was a huge trend seen during the 2019 Bridal Fashion Week. Simple, modern shapes with very little adornment made their way through bridal gowns and bridal accessories. On the runways, we saw classic styles in light shades of subtle silver and lavender, accessorized with removable shawls and capes. Brides want to show their unique individuality, expressed by way of subtle color tones or stylish accessories like a capelet. As trends come and go, jewelry actually lasts a lifetime. John Robichau is an owner of Robichau’s Jewelry, a family-owned-and-operated jewelry store that has been an institution of The Woodlands for over 30 years. We are not surprised when John says couples are still most interested in classic and timeless jewelry. He echoes the minimalism trend and says he is seeing couples now mix old and new materials. Brides and grooms are weaving the story of their life together with meaningful accessories, such as layered necklaces that are engravable for future children.

Photography Courtesy Derrick Bryant Photography

Getting Fit for Glam Wrap-Up

To close out our series on Getting Fit for GGG, we thought our models deserved a little hydration and recovery session for all of their hard work! Thank you to THRIVE Drip Spa in Market Street for pampering our models and helping restore their energy and glow for GGG. Both models, Amy Torres and Perisha Burnham had recently been traveling, over multiple time zones – so the timing of the visit couldn’t have been better.

The THRIVE Intravenous (IV) Drips deliver vitamins, minerals, and amino acids directly to the body for maximum absorption. All of the drips are administered by registered nurses and you receive the same hydration from one 30 minute drip as drinking 2 gallons of water.

Here is what Interfaith Community Model Amy Torres shared about her experience:

We were greeted and immediately taken back to their beautifully decorated IV area. The RN explained our IV drip options which ranged from benefiting the immune system, weight loss, beauty, muscle recovery and more. I decided to go with the Myers Drip which helps boost the immune system. The entire process took about 30min and almost immediately I felt significantly less fatigued and energized. This feeling lasted all day…no jet lag for me!

In addition to IV vitamin therapy, Perisha also received a cryo treatment. The Cryo Chamber is cooled to temperatures between -160℉ to -220℉. Sessions range from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Cryotherapy gives your metabolism and immune system an immediate boost, burning 500-800 calories per session.


Here is a little about Junior League Community Model Perisha Burnham’s results from her trip to THRIVE:

First things first: Yes, it was cold. Lol! However, it was not at all unbearable.
The chamber begins with warm air and slowly the temperature declines giving your body time to adjust to the cooler air.

I suffer migraine and tension headaches. The evening before our trip to Thrive, I had a terrible migraine and woke with some symptoms still lingering. My cryo session helped to relax my tense neck and shoulder muscles and by the end of the day, I was back to normal.

This is probably the quickest recovery I have ever made from a migraine–mine usually last a few days.  I believe the Myers IV and Cyrotherapy session had everything to do with me feeling better so quickly.

If you want to look, feel and perform better, you definitely need to visit our friends at THRIVE! Also, don’t forget to get your ticket for Giving Goes Glam to see these fabulous ladies walk the runway for fashion and philanthropy on April 5, 2019, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel!

To learn more about THRIVE Drip Spa please visit: or call 281.343.DRIP

Picture Perfect Bluebonnets

If you are a Texan whether native or newly relocated, you learn quickly that Texas bluebonnets are a must have a backdrop for photos of your family! Working as a professional photographer for over a decade I have seen many do’s, and don’ts when it comes to grabbing that perfect portrait for your kids during this popular Spring season.

Here are seven tips when planning your next Wildflower shoot.

1. TIMING – Bluebonnets typically bloom around late March. Though a word to the wise, I know you may be eager, however, I encourage you to resist the urge to photograph when you see the first blooms. In my experience, the best crops are most abundant towards the END of the wildflower season. I know it’s tempting, but hold off as long as possible when planning your picture time. It will be worth it when you grab a full field!

2. LOCATION– This one is critical, while the majestic hill country roads boast beautiful patches of flowers, avoid pulling over and attempting to take shots off of busy roads or highways. While we can thank our former first lady and native Texan Lady Bird Johnson for these bountiful roadside treasures, for the safety of your family scout a location that’s off the backroads and more secluded when possible. Not sure where to begin? Check out social media for local photography clubs or moms’ groups to share great spots that are safer than off a busy road. (Be aware – It is illegal to take photos on private property so be respectful of boundaries when searching)

3. WILDLIFE! – Most of our images we’re aiming for are our little ones. When I shoot professional photos in wildflower fields often, I ask my clients to wear rubber rain boots. It is very realistic to come across Texas wildlife such as snakes and fire ants while trekking through fields.

This sweet Mom ran to rescue my clients from ant bites.

4. PRESERVATION! This is my most important tip. Once you find your glorious field, be kind and allow those blossoms to stay alive by avoiding trampling, stomping, or sitting directly on top of the flowers. Very quickly you can position your child or family either on a stool (Bonus to avoid “wildlife from tip #3) or alongside the flowers. This is a courtesy to all of us who wish to enjoy these flowers through the spring season long!

5. LIGHTING – Bluebonnets are tricky when it comes to lighting. They can become over-saturated with the high sun, so avoid shooting mid-day. Early morning (before 10) and late afternoon (after 4) are the peak times when shooting.


Now that you have your location and shooting tips here are some handy tips on what to wear!

6. CLOTHING. I always suggest solids. Your eye will want to be drawn to the busiest pattern so let it focus on the backdrop of the flowers and your child’s face. Keep the outfits simple — coordinate outfits with soft solid colors.

7. PROPS – Stools and Boxes are great props to avoid crushing the flowers and to keep tiny bodies off the ground (see wildlife!) though keep the props to a minimum. Many a time I’ve seen a new mom or budding photographer lug multiple props, and accessories out to the field. Again, just like clothing, in my opinion, less is more and I just want to see the flowers and faces! (Keep in mind blankets flatten bluebonnets, try a wooden chair or old crate instead!)

I hope these tips will help you with making this Spring bluebonnet season a success! Remember you don’t need a fancy DSLR to shoot the perfect photo- a great location, happy kiddo, and a safe environment are all you need to make your memory picture perfect! Save the date for the Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival on April 13, 2019. 


Jen McDonald has worked as a photographer and graphic designer for over ten years. She lives locally in The Woodlands where she enjoys shooting her favorite subject, her ten-year-old son.

Round Top is Calling…and I Must Go

If you have been looking for a reason to sneak away with your friends for a “Girlfriend Getaway”, we have the perfect excuse…Round Top Spring Antiques Fair is happening April 1-6. Conveniently located only 90 minutes from The Woodlands it is quick enough for a day trip, but also offers plenty of options to shop and linger for multiple days. Whether you have made the trip before or are a Round Top rookie we have some tips to make this an unforgettable trip for you and your gal pals.

Round Top is home to one of the largest antique fairs in the United States and features more than 350 dealers. The fair spans over 11 miles and happens twice per year (Spring and Fall) with the most well-known spot being Marburger Farms. In the past few years, Round Top has become a household name due to the popularity of Joanna Gaines and the TV show phenomenon Fixer Upper. I have ventured to Round Top twice previously, but have always found it a bit overwhelming, so much so that the first time I left without making a single purchase…and my husband will attest to the fact that doesn’t happen often. So this time I enlisted the help of several seasoned Round Top veterans to guide us all to the locations and the sights filled with the best finds and the tastiest bites.

What girlfriends in the know say…


For higher-end pieces and fun experience, the following are a must:

Market Hill offers an amazing upscale “cafeteria” style lunch and dinner as well as a fun option to grab a bottle of wine or champagne to accompany the excursion!

A small tent of French antiques, jewelry, and amazing hats! This is where the Frenchie guest houses are located. Last year they offered charming lunch boxes that you could pre-order to shop and eat on the go!

Marburger is more European and high-end pieces, so if you are looking for “deals” save your time and money and hit the stops like Paul Michael, Blue Hills and La Bahia (the first stop). I have always had good luck scoring some unique, reasonable finds there.




For amazing food, don’t miss Royer’s. It is incredible and there will definitely be a wait, but it is worth it! If you want the best pie (and coffee!) in the world, they have Royer’s Pie Haven around the corner.




The Vintage Round Top also has really helpful information and suggestions:

For More Information!

Getting away with girlfriends offers advantages beyond pure entertainment. According to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, “medical studies show that the bond between women is critical to mental and physical health.” So if you can’t escape for a week to the beach or Vegas with your girlfriends, a quick trip to Round Top may just do the trick.



The Woodlands Weddings – Ben and Cassi

As the gorgeous spring flowers begin to bloom, love (and weddings) is definitely in the air! We can’t help but swoon at a beautiful love story. We will be featuring occasional weddings with ties to The Woodlands on the website of The Book The Woodlands. Enjoy our first story, Ben and Cassi. 

Photography Courtesy Jenna McElroy

Connections to The Woodlands 

I graduated from The Woodlands high school; my parents still live in the Woodlands. Ben is from Iowa!  

How it all Began 

We met through work at Ben Taub county hospital in the Med Center. We are both medical device reps and were working for the same company at the time. Ben moved from D.C. to Houston and was visiting his accounts in the territory. We met in the Urology Operating Room during a procedurenot the most romantic place in the world ? 

We officially started dating a few months after meeting and have been inseparable ever since! We dated for almost a year and a half before we got engaged.  

Proposal & Engagement 

Ben proposed to me on the beach in Galveston, a place that was very special to us. We spent a lot of time in Galveston with my family, and one of our first dates was a day down in Galveston. We had a Friendsgiving with some of our friends and family at a beach house, and Ben and I went on a walk before everyone ate dinner. He gave me a beautiful card, got down on one knee and made me the happiest person on this planet. When we walked back to the house my family and friends from out of town were all there.  

We were engaged for 11 months. Wedding planning wasn’t stressful at all because our event planner,  Jen Lowrance took care of EVERYTHING. It flew by! 

The Big Day- Wedding & Highlights  

We got married at Chapel in the Woods at Woodlands Church. Our reception was at Chandelier Grove. It was the most beautiful, incredible day of our lives. It was beyond my dream wedding.  

A memory that was so special was our last dance. The guests went outside for our sendoff, and we had one last dance just the two of us in the barn. It was really emotional and probably the only time all day we got to slow down and take in everything. 

It was incredibly moving to get married in the church where I grew up. My family has found a home and a church family there since we moved to The Woodlands in 2006.  

Honeymoon and Happily Ever After 

We currently live in the Heights in Houston, and we went to Antigua for our honeymoon at a beautiful place called Cocos Hotel.  


If you would like to have your Woodlands Wedding featured on the website for The Book The Woodlands, contact 


Philanthropy, Fashion, and Fitness: Gearing Up for GGG!

I am so excited to be walking the runway as a community model for Giving Goes Glam next month. I believe the foundation of every fashionable ensemble begins with fitness—a blended balance of physical and mental wellness.

Our inner strength shines through in everything we wear and how we interact with others, so when I began this fitness journey, I decided my goal would be increasing my confidence. I’m happy to report visiting the following fitness studios provided me with an opportunity to reach that goal a thousand times over!


Wicked Core:

Low Impact, Mega Sculpting

The Wicked Core studio is based on the large fitness method which combines strength-training, Pilates, and cardio. At the start of each class, each participant selects a mega-reformer machine for the 45-minute workout. Deb, our instructor, was a motivating machine! Throughout the entire class, she was our champion—cheerleading, checking each person’s form, and offering modified versions of each exercise.

I love that Wicked Core is a low impact, yet high-intensity program. The focus is to use slow and deliberate movements to lengthen and strengthen your muscles. You can feel the burn, irrefutable proof that you are challenging your body to change. At times, I even felt my muscles twitch (in a good way, lol!). In fact, one of the Wicked Core mottos is “Embrace the Shake!”

What is extremely unique about Wicked Core is the vast array of exercises that can be performed on the mega-reformer. A participant in my session shared that she had attended over 100 classes and found each to be unique and challenging. This is exciting news for me because my body easily adapts to workouts. It’s critical for me to change my routine if I am looking to trim down, firm up, or simply build my endurance.

What I Love About Wicked Core:

  • It’s beginner friendly! It takes no time at all learn to adjust to using the mega-reformer.
  • Wicked Core has two locations: Creekside and Spring Creek. Your membership includes access to both!
  • The Wicked Core App makes it easy to select the class that best suits your schedule.
  • The variety in exercises, instructors, as well as modifications to decrease/increase intensity = you and your body, will never get bored.



 Personal Goals, Group Support 

Located in the heart of The Woodlands, Orangetheory fitness studio seamlessly combines personalized coaching in a supportive group atmosphere. From the moment I booked my initial class, my personalizedprogram began—I received a call from my Coach Jessica welcoming me to the studio!  First timers are asked to arrive a few minutes prior tothe start of their first class for a complimentary program tutorial. Jessica created a workout program based on my fitness goals and taught me how to operate the three stations used in class: treadmills, rowing machines, and the weight room. While working out, my performance was trackedwith color-coded heart rate technology. Every participant’s first name and heart rate, and zone color appeared on a big TV screen in the fitness area– along with every other class participant. The colors correspond with your workout intensity as follows:

  • Blue zone: the living is easy
  • Green zone: trying but not dying
  • Orange zone: challenging and uncomfortable
  • Red zone: all-outmax!

The “theory” behind Orangetheory Fitness is that if you spend 12 collective minutes in orange or red zones during class, you’ll reach the threshold for an afterburn effect, where you “keep burning” additional calories for a day after the workout.

What I Love About Orangetheory:

  • The ability to create a personalized program based on specific fitness goals.
  • The Orangetheory heart rate monitor is a visual reminder to try your best.
  • The positivity from the trainer and class participants created a cohesive atmosphere. We’re all rooting for each other to make it to “orange”!
  • It’s fast and efficient–you get an amazingworkout done in an hour.


RIDE: Indoor Cycling

Sheer Excitement, Cycling Bliss

From the moment I walked through the door of RIDE, I felt like a member of their tribe.

The staff members and Ambassadors led the check-in process, greeting everyone by name and at times referencing a detail from the participant’s last studio visit. You immediately got the sense that they knew their people—and wanted you to become one of them!

Rideis a rhythm-based indoor cycling studio. Each class features a curated playlist with various beats per minute and aligns with the principles of high-intensityinterval training (HIIT) which trains different muscle groups and switches between fat burn, endurance, and metabolic conditioning. HIIT produces an “afterburn” effect – allowing your body to continue to burn calories after you have completed your workout.

There are a variety of classes on the weekly schedule to select from, including themed “rides” like Hip Hop Hump Day, Rodeo, Drake vs. Travis Scott, All The Feels Friday, and more.

Each participant must wear cycling shoes with either SPD or LOOK Delta cleats. If you are like me and do not own a pair, no worries, shoes are available to rent at the front desk. After check-in, each cyclist places their personal belongings in a locker and heads to the studio. Staff members are on-hand to help with making adjustments to your seat, handlebars, and to helpyou snap your shoes onto the pedals. I was also pleased to find that in advance each bike had been draped with clean towels and dumbbellsfor the arm workout. These may seem like small details, but I reallylike how they removed the guesswork and setup for locating all the extras. We were able to get straight to our workout. A+ client service!

My class was on a special day—my instructor Taryn’s birthday! Taryn was an amazinginstructor, andher love for spinwas infectious. I honestly did not think I would be able to pick up the skills required to have a dance party on the bike, especially in the first class. However, the music selection, instruction, and soft DJ style ambient lighting makeit easy for riders to feel the beat.

What I Love About RIDE:

  • Neither spin class experience or a sense of rhythm is required. Seriously, don’t be scared. As a matter of fact, Ride is a great way to learn those skills.
  • Great location in Hughes Landing! Easyparking and great places to hang out before or after class. (Yes, after class! There is a dedicated shower for use at the studio).
  • The sessions are so engaging and interactive; Ride does not feel like exercise; it’sjust fun. I could not believe I was in the studio for 45 minutes!
  • The company culture is amazing. The staff works as a cohesive unit, andother members are genuinely kind.

-Perisha Burnham

Perisha has lived in The Woodlands with her husband and two children for five years. She has a passion for community service and enjoys volunteering with several local charities and organizations. Perisha will be representing the Junior League of The Woodlands on April 5, 2019, as a community model for Giving Goes Glam

Destination 30A- A Woodlander’s Guide to the Emerald Coast

If you live in Texas or really anywhere in the South, you have probably seen the iconic round blue and yellow “30A” sticker adorning cars. Many know exactly what it stands for and some may wonder what this place called “30A” is all about and why it has a strong enough following for people to slap a sticker on their car to showcase their love for it.

30A is a 19.1 mile stretch of beach communities along the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle, arguably the most beautiful span of beaches in the U.S. The pristine blue and green waters rival the Caribbean and the pure white sand is like no other in the world. The iconic 30A is a gem in its own right and offers unique and quaint communities throughout. Each one of these communities stand alone with their own distinct personalities, yet will always share one common denominator, the magical blue and green waters that fade into the white powder sand.

Many potential 30A visitors are overwhelmed by the decisions to make before booking their trip due to the numerous options including how to get there, where to stay, what to eat and what to do. Good news! I have some great insight to help you make your 30A experience memorable enough to slap a sticker on your car when you leave!

How to Get There…

If you choose to fly, 30A is a quick 1.5-hour flight from Houston to Panama City.  Once in Panama City, you have a 30-minute drive to 30A. The airport is small and easy to navigate. There are plenty of Ubers and rental cars available at Panama City Airport.

If you decide to make the 9.5-hour drive to 30A from The Woodlands, you know that a few stops will be necessary. However, they don’t have to be painful. Most rentals along 30A are from Saturday to Saturday which means the traffic coming and going during the peak season is a sure thing, especially as you get closer to your destination. So for most of you renting during that period, this information can make your trip just a bit easier.

Leave early and make it to Baton Rouge for an early lunch. There is a great spot just off the interstate, rightfully named City Pork (Hollydale location). Call ahead and order lunch to go. They offer easy lunches that meet Louisiana flavor standards, trust me, I’m from New Orleans, and I approve. They will conveniently package it for you to take on the road.

Once you arrive in Mobile, you are guaranteed to feel the “beach traffic.”The mobile tunnel is a dreaded landmark for many seasoned beachgoers. It is slow moving and can add up to an hour to your trip if you get there at the wrong time. Avoid rush hour and try to plan your trip to arrive in Mobile as early as possible. If you choose to split the trip, I suggest staying overnight in Mobile at The Battle House Hotel and doing a quick tour of the U.S.S Alabama in the morning (you can’t check in to your beach house until 4 pm anyway). The battleship deserves a walkthrough. We took our kids to this museum last year, and our kids still talk about it today and bonus, our kids can’t ask what that ship is all about every single time we pass it.

The upside…once you get through Mobile you are only 2.5 hours from your happy place! To ease the last leg of the trip, Texas’ beloved destination/gas station, Buc-ee’s is in your future as they just opened their first out of state MASSIVE establishment about 30 miles east of Mobile so HOLD IT!

And before you know it, there it is…the highly anticipated exit 85! The last leg of your trip! You are only 30 minutes away from your vacation. Your kids are hungry, and you are thirsty. Don’t bother with the grocery stores on Saturday because everyone else is. We order pizzas from Pizza by the Sea (there are several locations) and pick it up on our way in town. You’re welcome!

So now you know how to get there. The other big question is, “where am I staying?” While 30A offers endless options that are sure to provide everyone with their “perfect spot,”it is helpful to be well versed on your options.

A Few of the Popular 30A Communities

Watercolor Beach

This resort planned community is ideal for the active lifestyle. Here you can take advantage of the miles of walking and biking trails that preserve the nature and beauty of the woods. Western Lake, the county’s largest natural dune lake calls Watercolor it’s home offering stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Additionally, there are several beautiful wooden footbridges that crossover Western Lake and are a photographer’s dream come true! Watercolor also offers a children’s summer camp, five community pools, a lazy river and a beachfront beach club that is currently under renovation and is slated to be complete this summer. Be sure to stop at Fish Out Of Water for an ocean view lunch or dinner and make sure you order the warm pimento cheese!

Grayton Beach

The local vibe is alive and well in this eclectic community. Here, the locals will welcome you with open arms, sandy feet, and a cold beverage! This beach allows permitted vehicles to drive right on the beach adding to its laid back attitude. A coastal dune lake borders one side of this town offering the chance to jump on a paddle board and cruise through the still waters that often connect to the Gulf of Mexico. Off the beaten path, you can enjoy the unique Shops at Grayton Beach. Stop in for breakfast at Black Bear and treat yourself to a piece of art from one of the local galleries. Grayton is home to Chiringo, a fun and festive beach bar and restaurant that has been known to turn into an energetic nightlife scene. On rainy days, grab the kids and head to Shards for a fun glass art project that you can take home as a souvenir.

Blue Mountain Beach

Considered one of the less-developed communities on 30A, Blue Mountain Beach still attracts many visitors for this very reason. This area happens to have the highest elevation along Florida’s Gulf Coast, allowing breathtaking views. The famous Blue Mountain Creamery is a must for an afternoon treat.  Grab dinner at Stinky’s Fish Camp for the perfect family-friendly night out. If there is a wait, head over to Stinky’s bait shop for a drink and live music to pass the time. You can’t leave Blue Mountain without visiting the ultra-popular Justin Gaffrey art gallery. Here you will discover the vast mediums Justin uses to express his vision. His work is truly unparalleled.


This cozy community is picture perfect. The quaint cottages wrapped with white picket fences, cobblestone streets, and unique storefronts give you the feeling you are walking through a movie set, and you are! The famous Truman Show starring Jim Carrey was filmed here and released in 1998. Seaside offers a surreal environment that has its visitors coming back for more year after year. From the movies under the stars to the unique book store (Sundog Books) and the town grocery (Modica Market), one can’t help but be drawn to this town. Breakfast at Great Southern Cafe and dinner on the rooftop deck at Bud & Alley’s is a must!


Alys Beach

Here, the brilliant-white homes and villas are what allows Alys to hold the bragging rights as being the most striking community along 30A. A stroll down this iconic stretch flanked with tropical palms will stay with you forever. Lunch at Georges is always a good idea. Finish off your evening poolside at one of the most beautiful outdoor restaurants in the area, Caliza with luxurious cabanas and where coastal cuisine is taken very seriously. Alys Beach has high standards, and it shows.


Rosemary Beach

Flickering lanterns and wood planked pathways guide you through this charming community. Rosemary offers one of the larger shopping experiences on 30A including the popular hidden Lantern Bookstore, Willow Clothing, and Patchouliesto name a few and of course, the obligatory visit to the Sugar Shack will be on your daily agenda. New to this area is Pescado that offers highly sought after seats on their deck with breathtaking views. Be sure to plan ahead to partake in this unforgettable experience as reservations are almost always necessary and it is an adult only establishment.


Wanting more?


30A truly is a way of “vacation” life, and for some, it’s a way of “real” life. If you decide you want a piece of this paradise to call your own, the local realtors are as warm and welcoming as the beaches that drew you here. Stop by The Beach Group and ask for James Watts. His team is the best in the area and can help you find your happy place.

Other 30A “Must Do’s”

Take a surf lesson with Austin Magee at Austin Magee Surf School in Seaside.

Hike through the Point Washington State Forest.

Visit Eden State Park and Plantation.

Charter a deep sea fishing trip off of Grayton Beach.

Take a paddleboard yoga class at the Boathouse in Watercolor.

Visit one of the many Farmers Markets.

Book a trip during Songwriters Festival, Seeing Red Wine Festival and Watercolor’s Christmas festival.

Grab a blanket and head to the beach for the sunset…look for the green flash.

Rent bikes and explore the towns around you.

I hope this helps to make your 30A experience an unforgettable one that will keep you going back for more and when you go, you will understand why most people can’t say they have only visited 30A once.   There is a reason why my family and 3.5 million visitors call 30A their vacation spot every year…go find out for yourself!


Courtesy Christine Mitchell Photography

Nicole Murphy

Owner, Mersea Watercolor

Nicole Murphy has lived in The Woodlands with her husband and two children for 14 years. She is passionate about giving back to several local charities where she is highly involved. Nicole enjoys traveling to her beach home in watercolor Florida with her husband, children, and friends.

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