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-19 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 Harris Photography

 

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 11

Recipes from the Ferester Collection

The holiday season is the perfect time to share and try new recipes. From special breakfast items to holiday cocktails, we’ve picked a few of our favorites from years past to share with you. We’ve included a champagne punch, a fun drink to share at your next holiday party…apricot strudel and cinnabons rolls, just as good for breakfast as they are dessert…and protein porridge, which can be prepared ahead of time, perfect for this busy season when breakfast needs to be easy to prepare and packed with protein. Enjoy!

Champagne Punch

3 bottles ginger ale

1 large can lemonade

1 pint peach brandy

2 bottles Champagne

The night before making the punch, freeze 1 bottle of ginger ale in a bowl. Mix lemonade, peach brandy, and remaining two bottles of ginger ale. Pour into a punch bowl and add two bottles of champagne. Add frozen ginger ale.

Apricot Strudel

2 cups flour

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup sour cream

10 oz. jar smooth apricot preserves

Combine flour, butter and sour cream and knead into pastry dough. Divide into 4 even portions, place on a plate and cover in cling film. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. Roll out one portion of dough on a floured tea towel till 12 x 14 rectangle, using lots of flour as the dough is thin and sticky. Spread with preserves. Roll up like jelly roll. Repeat with the other three portions. Bake on an ungreased pan or cookie sheet at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely and slice.

Cinnabon Rolls

½ cup warm water

2 pkgs. active dry yeast

2 Tablespoons sugar

3.5 oz pkg. Instant vanilla pudding mix

½ cup butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

1 Tablespoon salt

8 cups flour

½ cup butter, melted

2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

 

Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon milk

 In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved, then set aside. Yeast should bubble. In a large bowl, make pudding mix according to package directions. Mix until slightly thickened. Add ½ cup melted butter, eggs, and salt and mix well. Add yeast and blend. Gradually add flour and knead until smooth. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm draft free place until double in size, about 1 hour. Punch down and let rise again, about 45 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 34” x 21” rectangle. Spread ½ cup melted butter over the surface.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle this mixture over top of the dough. Starting at the long edge of the dough, roll up very tightly. With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1 or 2 inch rolls  depending on how large you want your cinnamon rolls to be. Place rolls onto foil-covered (for easy clean-up) baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Remove when golden brown.

 Combine all frosting ingredients and mix until smooth. Spread on warm rolls. Serve warm.

Jamie Oliver’s Protein Porridge Mix

This is a fantastic porridge mix. Make up a batch, store it in a sealed glass jar, and have it ready to go whenever you want a quick, wholesome meal!

For the mix:

2 cups rolled oats

¼ cup dry quinoa

⅓ cup flaxseeds

¾ cups walnuts

¾ cups pumpkin seeds

¾ cups almonds (whole or sliced)

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

To make the porridge:

 ⅔ cup milk or your favorite non-dairy milk

¼ cup berries, mashed if desired

Nuts for topping

Honey for topping

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until consistency is like a coarse almond meal. Store mix in an airtight container until ready to use.

To make a serving of porridge, combine 1 ¾ cup of the mix with ⅔ cup milk of your choice in a small pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Take off heat and add berries, nuts and honey as desired.

 Nearly 40 years ago, these recipes and more made up a cookbook…a cookbook that marked the beginning of Beth Ferester’s real estate career. Before the world of social media marketing – Beth went door to door hand delivering these books as a way to make personal connections with people in the neighborhood. Beth is now seen as a matriarch in real estate – ranking in the top 25 realtors in the Greater Houston area every year since the early 2000’s. In the past year, Beth has brought some of these recipes back to life through her giving back coffeehouse next door to her real estate office, Lovebeans. The team makes these homemade cinnamon rolls every weekend, and the full version of this cookbook is available in the merch store. Come out and visit us in Creekside!

8522 Creekside Forest Drive Suite D-101, The Woodlands, TX 77375
www.Ferester.com
www.LovebeansCoffeehouse.com
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CollaborEIGHT Dinner Series Features Two Powerhouse Chefs in The Woodlands

The last CollaborEIGHT dinner prior to the pandemic brought together two powerhouse chefs in The Woodlands, Chef Austin Simmons of TRIS and Cureight, and relative newcomer to the area, Chef Stefano Ferrero of Zanti Cucina Italiana, for a remarkable evening of spectacular food and atmosphere.

Jo Anne and Troy Johnson

Butter Poached King Crab

As Chef Austin stated when the meal began, “If you leave here hungry tonight, it is your fault.” I think it is safe to say, no one left hungry and not a single person could consume another bite by the time the evening concluded. As is the format for each of the CollaborEIGHT dinners, both chefs present four courses served with wine pairings. The meal began with a refreshing Shellfish Ceviche with Shrimp Cracker by Chef Austin that was absolutely sublime! The Langoustine Caviar Risotto paired with “Artesis” Cotes du Rhone Blanc by Chef Stefano was out-of-this-world and another highlight of the evening. There was no shortage of meat either as Chef Simmons, recently named “Best Chef” by the Houston Press and who has become a local expert in the field of meat aging and exceptional cuts of beef, showcased his knowledge and skills.

The savory Dry Aged Beef on Truffle Ravioli by Chef Austin, and Braised Beef Cheeks by Chef Ferrero left guests needing to adjust their belt buckles. Each course delivered titillating flavor combinations that delighted the taste buds. The obvious respect and mutual admiration between the chefs was a wonderful complement to the outstanding display of food and technique.

Chef Austin puts the finishing touches on his Dry Aged Beef on Truffle Ravioli

Braised Beef Cheeks

“While The CollaborEIGHT Dinner Series helps highlight many well-acclaimed chefs to our guests at TRIS, our team benefits the most from these events,” stated Chef Austin. “Providing an eight course dinner experience to a large crowd is always a big task, that we achieve working as a team. We all see these collaborations as an opportunity to learn from each other in the kitchen.”

Jonathan Hitchcock; Alejandro & Majo Pelaez; Elvira Graham; Lonny Soza; Matt & Christin Allphin; Silvia Gonzalez; Pedro Cajiga; Santiago Pelaez, Zanti Founder & CE0; Haydar Kustu, Director of Business Development & Marketing, Black Forest Ventures/TRIS

Chef Austin looks on as Chef Stefano prepares the Langoustine – Caviar risotto for service.

Chef Stefano Ferrero, originally from Piemonte, Italy, has fond memories of cooking with both his father and grandmother prior to attending and graduating with a degree in gastronomy from SPAI University of Lugano where he had the opportunity to work with distinguished chefs from different backgrounds. Chef Ferrero comes to The Woodlands as Head Chef at Zanti, the namesake of Founder and CEO Santiago Paleaz. Chef Ferrero and Zanti Cucina Italiana are already making their mark on The Woodlands culinary scene in spite of opening only a year ago, and were thrilled to be invited to collaborate with Chef Austin.

Pistachio Profiterole

Key Lime Tart

Do not miss the opportunity to attend a CollaborEIGHT dinner when they resume, although I have a hard time imagining how it could top the collaboration between Chef Austin and Chef Ferrero.

Chef Austin Simmons and Chef Stefano Ferrero

For more information or to make a reservation at TRIS or Cureight: triswoodlands.com; cureightwoodlands.com, and for Zanti Cucina Italiana:  zanticucina.com.

Article by: Janelle Romano

From The Woodlands to Broadway

Straight from suburban Houston to New York City, Mallory Bechtel began living her dream on the Broadway stage at the youthful age of 18. And she always believed she would be there, because she simply loved the art of musical theater. “For me, because I started out so young – I don’t remember not considering Broadway as an option,” Bechtel shares.

Raised in The Woodlands, Bechtel experienced a traditional childhood and education, but at a young age she began taking classes at a local theater company, Class Act Productions. She performed in shows in the heart of Houston at Theater Under the Stars in elementary school through their youth program, Humphrey’s School of Musical Theater. “I have always loved singing. All of my idols were on Broadway – that’s what we listened to in the car,” she recalls. As a professional actress and student, young Bechtel spent countless hours training with instructors, attending rehearsals and auditioning while still attending The John Cooper School, and would participate in her school productions when she was able. “They were always willing to work with me, to help me pursue my dreams,” she says.

Chairman of Performing Arts at The John Cooper School and Bechtel’s high school theater teacher, Mary Rotella, believes that Bechtel’s professionalism and humility made a huge impact on her success. Watching her grow as an actress, Rotella says, “Mallory is interesting in that she is pretty low-key and takes things in stride, but she is intense in her approach. She’s a smart actress that pays attention to detail and understands the importance of authenticity when acting.” Continuing to be involved as both a student and performer at school, Rotella recalls it was important for Bechtel’s overall well-being. “With her talent and credits, Mallory could easily have been intimidating to her peers, but she was always supportive and encouraging. She truly lifted her fellow actors up and helped them to reach their fullest potential on stage,” remarked Rotella.

Her first love was singing, and she always seemed to connect to singing as a character in musical theater productions. She recalls that acting and nailing auditions didn’t always come easy to her, however, Bechtel was willing to work hard to improve in those areas. As she continued fine-tuning her skills with the help of Houston area instructors and theater venues, her status as a triple threat with unique talents in singing, dancing and acting sent Bechtel on her way to making her dream a reality. “Houston has such a great theater scene. I feel lucky to have grown up so near it,” Bechtel says.

Bechtel had the vision of making this her career, but she never dreamed she would be quite so young when she entered the Broadway scene via Tony award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. At 17, she auditioned to be a vacation understudy for the lead role of Zoe and was offered the job. However, the opportunity never arose to perform on stage as the understudy. But in 2018, just after high school graduation, Bechtel was thrilled to accept the full-time role of Zoe at New York City’s Music Box Theater.

The two-show days can be tiring, but she is kept energized by her fellow actors who have so much passion for what they do. She claims it has been exciting working alongside such amazing talent. “It’s always fresh, always new. People are always changing it up. It’s just what I love to do so the best part of it is getting to do it every night,” states Mallory.

Dear Evan Hansen began with quite the buzz when it debuted in 2016 and was a Tony Award winner for Best New Musical in 2017. It has continued with a strong fan base and began conversations of meaningful themes presenting both an entertaining and emotionally complex musical. “It’s about a teenager dealing with anxiety and depression which is very relevant right now. I feel very lucky to be a part of a show that has helped a lot of people,” she says. Following much hype and success, the show began touring in the fall of last year, making the award-winning musical available to far greater audiences. After completing her performance in Dear Evan Hansen ending her contract this summer, Bechtel has chosen to pursue other outstanding opportunities after her success with the musical and her debut on Broadway.

Raw talent alone didn’t get her to where she is. She only realized her dream of making it to Broadway by devoting countless hours and effort, not to mention the support from her family including her parents and three siblings. “They never doubted me. And they did force me to do things that maybe I didn’t want to. They are very supportive. I’m grateful for that,” Bechtel says.

Her plans for the future? “For actors, it’s hard to say. I would love to stay in New York, but it depends on what comes along.” No matter what lies ahead, Bechtel has paved her way with plenty of hard work and grit, and it seems she’ll continue in that direction. There is no easy route, she claims, but her passion for music and theater made the ride more enjoyable. Bechtel’s motto for pursuing any dream is revealed in her own path, “Put the time in. Take advantage of every opportunity. Keep putting yourself out there.”

Article by: Mindy Jones

The Woodlands Arts Council

When conceiving The Woodlands as a master-planned community, its founders envisioned a place where art was highly valued. They succeeded in creating a vital and robust presence of artistic expression in the area. The vehicle that provides support for the arts and sustains the founders’ goal is The Woodlands Art Council, Inc. (TWAC), a not-for-profit corporation, whose primary objective is to provide cultural enrichment through several community events that promote the performing, visual and literary arts, primarily through The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival and in the schools with numerous projects and scholarships for those students interested in pursuing art studies.

TWAC strives to create a better community through the arts. Dr. Maria Holmes, recently appointed as President of TWAC Board of Directors, believes that by experiencing the creative arts in the community, the quality of life is enhanced for all residents. “It creates another way for people to build community, it’s another way for citizens to have purpose and meaning in their hometown, no matter the age, heritage, or where their original home is; it brings us all together,” Holmes stated.

The Council establishes and supports meaningful art and cultural programs throughout The Woodlands, including youth mentoring and support programs, student art scholarships, art programs in kids’ schools, interactive workshops for seniors and retirees, special needs programs and sponsorship of public arts. TWAC continues to grow and gain recognition by coordinating The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival and the Art Bench Project.

The Art Bench Project

The Council is responsible for twenty Art Benches that have been commissioned and installed throughout our community, in partnership with The Woodlands Township as well as with the funding and vision of art patrons who sponsor each bench. Designed by local, national, and international artists, the Art Benches are permanent outdoor collections around The Woodlands Mall, Town Green Park and Hughes Landing. Currently, Phase IV of this project will feature three new Art Benches that will be located along The Woodlands Waterway.

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival is an annual and premier attraction. It is one of the top-ranked fine arts festivals in the country. The festival is made for the community by the community, and all the proceeds go back into the local arts, impacting the community while benefitting upcoming local artists.

“The festival is very competitive,” said Kelly Batterson, Event Director of the 2019 Festival. There are 800 to 1,000 artists that submit applications each year providing the community with the most beautifully creative art to select from. The review and final picks are made by a blind jury. The art pieces are judged solely on merit. Art teachers, art professionals, community members and volunteers constitute the jury and collectively choose over 200 artists for each festival. “It is a well-thought-out process, a fine-working machine,” added Batterson.

The members of The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival Committee worked hard to deliver a wide variety of artistic mediums including paintings, pottery, glass pieces, photography, jewelry, digital, furniture, clothing and much more. The attendees at the two-day outdoor festival were able to meet the artist, discuss and learn about their work, hear their stories and their artistic perspectives. That was possible because, as part of the festival’s requirements, the artists have to be present in their booth for their exhibition, making the experience for the visitors more dynamic and personal.

In 2019, TWAC added a new feature to the festival called, Spotlight on Mexico. This gave an element of freshness to this year’s 14th event. Holmes mentioned, “We want to have a more global presence in our arts festival. Each year, we are going to select a country and bring attention to their arts, their food, and music providing education of other cultures to our citizens.” An interactive living museum was set up inside the main gate of Town Green Park, capturing the richness and beauty of Mexico in every art form. Asociación Amiga was in charge of curating the exhibit; they are a nonprofit formed by female Latin American entrepreneurs with a broad sense of commitment for the community. Diana Ontañon, President of the organization said, “Art has no language, barriers or frontiers, the Spotlight on Mexico was a way of sharing our authentic Mexican culture and artifacts, and representing our country the best way possible.”

The festival is a family event; everyone enjoyed the artists’ displays, live music performances and exquisite food offerings. Younger attendees participated creatively in The Woodlands Children’s Museum special exhibits. “We have a little something for everybody, making or having art is the main focus. We are proud of it; we love our mission and want to cultivate it,” concluded Batterson. The next Arts Festival is scheduled for October 17th–18th, 2020.

Article by: Ana Beatriz Priego  |  Photography: Derrick Bryant

Farm Fresh Foods

The farm-to-table restaurant culture is bursting onto The Woodlands culinary scene with wholesome food and the freshest local products in high demand. 

Food lovers are savoring the inventive fusion of local and seasonal goodness from the abundance of quaint bistros and cafes that are popping up all over The Woodlands area. Whether you’re in the center of town or keen to explore the wider countryside that surrounds us, a healthy, farm fresh bowl of goodness awaits.  

From boutique cafes to the more established culinary names in the area, all of these restaurants embody the belief that healthy food can be delicious and flavorsome. They pride themselves on using only locally sourced ingredients and the freshest seasonal products.

And what’s more, these eateries continue to build on a cause close to our hearts too – community involvement. As well as sourcing as many products from the nearby area as they can, many of these homegrown diners know what it means to give back to the community by using small, local businesses to handcraft much of their décor. These restaurants also aim to be as environmentally conscious as possible by composting and recycling.

Each of the cleverly crafted menus will help you on your way to becoming a seasoned health foodie, while respecting the community and environment that allows us to enjoy the healthiest fare to our hearts desire.  

Here is our list of the top farm-to-table and ranch-to-fork fare in The Woodlands area that will satisfy any palate and keep you coming back for more.

TRIS 

TRIS sits in the heart of The Woodlands and is the definition of fine dining incorporating the ranch-to-fork philosophy. Executive Chef Austin Simmons and his talented team at TRIS treat loyal customers and new guests with the perfect experience through upscale food and drink, artful service and finely tuned hospitality. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual business lunch or a high-end dinner, you can rest assured that you are in good hands at TRIS with an artfully crafted menu featuring some of the finest cuisine in Texas.

TRIS honors its passion for true ranch-to-fork fare by partnering up with Unique Meats, a family-owned business and premier provider of exotic meat from the best ranches across South Texas. The team at Unique Meats pride themselves on the quality of their meat, which starts with free-range ranches where the deer are raised on grass and free of steroids and medications. Unique Meats ensure their meat is delivered humanely from the field direct to the table.

TRIS now has a new exclusive steak program with HeartBrand Ranch,  a beef company specializing in bringing 10-year-old beef to consumers. Heartbrand Ranch, recently featured in Texas Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, is carving out a market for cuts from more mature animals. The ranch, headquartered in Harwood, Texas, is an Akaushi cattle ranch dedicated to breeding superior beef. TRIS was one of only a handful of restaurants nationwide to receive a portion of the first 10-year-old cow and is now proud to be bringing Woodlands consumers an exclusive steak experience.

Try: Chef’s Burger. Two smashed Akaushi Wagyu patties, bacon jam, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, English muffin

The Wheel Kitchen

Serving up farm fresh food since October 2016, this charming eatery is set on a lush area of farmland on the outskirts of The Woodlands and has become a top favorite on the farm-to-table scene.

Serving and catering for both breakfast and lunch, the menu items feature only homemade, organic or farm-raised ingredients. It’s easy to feel right at the heart of the real food movement here with plates that change with the seasons and beautifully crafted dishes bursting with the freshest local products. 

Try: The Wheel Buddha Bowl. Seasonal roasted vegetables, a spinach blend, organic brown rice, quinoa, roasted chicken breast and an herbed chia yogurt sauce.

True Food Kitchen

With a philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse, True Food Kitchen ‘celebrates a passion for better living’.

Featuring a passionate team of chefs, restaurateurs and a doctor of integrative medicine, the True Food philosophy envisions healthy, fresh food that packs a whole lot of punch without ever sacrificing an ounce of flavor and taste.

The central Woodlands location offers an extensive menu that caters for all lifestyles including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

Try: The Ancient Greens Bowl. Miso sesame glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow pea, grilled Portobello, avocado, hemp seed. With your choice of any protein. 

 

Flower Child

A vision of ‘healthy food for a healthy world’, Flower Child burst onto the fresh food dining scene, opening their Lake Woodlands location in April this year.

Flower Child offers dine in and takeout options, with a promise to nourish mind, body, and soul.

Beautifully crafted plates and organic drinks made from scratch help bring the concept of a happy plate to life. Using only farm fresh ingredients from close to home, the restaurant aims to cater to all tastes from paleo and vegan to kids and just plain hungry!

Try: The Glow Bowl. Spicy sweet potato noodle, bok choy, zucchini, onion, jalapeno, shiitake mushroom, coconut milk and sunflower butter.

Herb & Beet

Head on over to Herb & Beet’s new Sawdust location for a true taste of Texas. Its handcrafted menu changes seasonally to offer the best of the area’s produce all year round.

This fast-casual restaurant has partnered with dozens of local farms to bring the freshest farm food to The Woodlands area. With a three-tiered focus on food roots, sustainability and staff appreciation, Herb & Beet honors its environmentally friendly approach from the ground up, from its expansive patio garden to its efficient kitchen equipment. 

Try: Hickory Smoked Cobb Salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, house smoked bacon, tomato, blue cheese crumbles, deviled egg, and smoked poblano dressing

The Kitchen

Another popular choice in The Woodlands culinary scene is The Kitchen. Formerly known as Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen, the restaurant first began serving meals to Woodlands diners back in November 2010.

Kick back in a relaxed, casual setting as The Kitchen brings its executive chef Austin Simmons’ culinary vision to life. Offering hot and cold sandwiches, live oak wood grilled meats, burgers and farm fresh vegetables, The Kitchen also offers a 65 item salad bar and eight homemade soups daily. 

Try: Oak Grilled Mahi Mahi. Ginger soy glazed, butter whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, arugula and cilantro.

Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar

A firm fixture in The Woodlands Village of Creekside Park, Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, is a popular restaurant known for its quality of local-sourced ingredients. Working with 44 Farms in the Houston area, as well as small wineries and craft brewers, the restaurant is the epitome of farm-to-table creativity. 

The impressive, ever-changing menu features steaks that are hand cut and beef that is dry-aged on the property. The kitchen makes its own pasta and bakes all of its breads and pastries daily. 

The restaurant also pays homage to the environment from which it receives its array of succulent ingredients, having been built using as many repurposed and energy efficient materials as possible. Part of its bar is made of reclaimed whitewashed wood and all booths and bar stools are recycled leather. They even have a filtering water system for cooking and drinking water.

Try: 12oz 44 Farms, Texas
Prime Ribeye. Dry-aged 40 days. 

Bellagreen

Hailing itself as ‘the greenest restaurant in Texas’, Bellagreen is an American bistro for the new age. Every item is made from scratch in their kitchen, located on Research Forest. Bellagreen aims to deliver the most flavorsome tastes as possible by using the freshest and finest local ingredients. The kitchen is more than happy to modify items on an individual basis to align with any dietary choice whether it’s gluten or dairy free, to vegetarian, keto and paleo.  

Bellagreen also reinforces its Green Philosophy by focusing on reducing its ecological footprint through water-saving devices and alternate power sources. By practicing exactly what they preach, Bellagreen’s green practices keep them in harmony with the environment. 

Try: Honey-Fried Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad. Baby arugula, fresh jicama, almonds, raisins, shaved carrots & mango, tossed with mango ranch dressing & topped with parmesan cheese & a honey-fried goat cheese medallion.

HOPE Under the Stars 2019

This past Winter, 600 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of The Woodlands Resort to raise funds and share the message of HOPE for The Will Herndon Research Fund at the 11th annual HOPE Under the Stars event. The guests experienced a genuine glimpse into the world of Will Herndon, a 16 year old Woodlands resident that has been battling a rare degenerative brain disease called juvenile Batten disease. The evening’s theme transformed the ballroom from black and white to a world full of color and HOPE. The transformation represented the hope and optimism personified by Will and his love for life. The event honored long-time supporters, Dr. Scott and Amy Young and corporate honoree, Waste Connections for their overwhelming support.  The event raised over $570,000 for research and funding for the anticipated clinical trial to begin in early 2020.
“The Woodlands community embraced Will as their own son and stood by our family, funding research and sharing prayers to help save our boy,” said Missy Herndon, Co-Founder of HOPE: The Will Herndon Fund. “After 11 years of support, awareness and fundraising, we are excited to share Will will be in a clinical trial in the coming month.”

For more information on juvenile Batten disease and the fight to Save Will visit www.willherndon.org or www.beyondbatten.org

Photography Courtesy Derrick Bryant & Jen McDonald

Elevate your Holiday Décor

Courtesy of Charbonneau Interiors, Nancy Charbonneau

Typical holiday colors are always nice to use in your holiday décor, but incorporating a mix of beautiful metallics can add a touch of glamour and sparkle that will make your home feel more lavish this holiday season. Copper, bronze, warm gold and antique silver are beautiful metallic tones to bring in to complement autumn colors. Adding in metallic elements adds to a surface for subtle reflection, warmth, and sophistication.

This table highlights warm colors of bronze, copper and antique silver. Candles immersed in metallic glitter set the tone for a beautiful table of fresh greens and flowers in the season’s colors.

This mantle, done in silver, gold and a metallic champagne are a soft reflection of the season. A touch of crystal was brought in to reflect the metallic surfaces. Adding in metallic ribbons and the lights from the garland enables the mantle to sparkle even more brilliantly. Take metallic accents outdoors also! This outdoor living mantle garland was adorned with silver metallic leaves and a fun metallic banner.

A Christmas tree adorned with silver and gold is a classic pallet for a beautiful reflection of the season, and can tie into other metallic elements in the home such as furniture pieces and lighting fixtures. Layering a combination of metallics together on a tree adds dimension and depth to the tree by providing a reflective source for light to play on.

We hope your season Sparkles!

Nancy Charbonneau is an award winning ASID interior designer who is passionate about connecting who her clients are to how they live in a beautiful and personalized way. Nancy has been involved in the field of Interior Design for over 25 years and has worked on numerous design projects around the world with her talented team. Nancy calls her trademark style eloquent, and is passionate about weaving grace and ease into every design.

Woodlands Weather Dude

I enjoy weather forecasting and communicating weather risks to people and I have made a career out of it over the last 25 years. In late August 2015, almost on a whim, I started posting about local weather interests on Facebook and Woodlands Weather Dude was born. At that time, the closed group contained only a few dozen members. Now over three years later, the group has grown to over 9,000 followers spread out across The Woodlands and Montgomery County. Although I would like to take full credit for the popularity of the group, I believe there are some larger things at play here that are responsible for this growing popularity.

 

First off, whether we know it or not, the weather touches our lives on a daily basis.

According to a recent Power Research Center study, weather far outpaces other daily news topics on a local level. Over 70% of adults in the Houston area say that the topic of weather is “important for daily life”. In second place was the news topic involving Traffic & Transportation at 52%. Even Government and Politics were only at 26%. Let’s face it; people want to know if the weather is going to have an impact on their kid’s birthday party, commute to work or on their weekend camping trip. Having a cell phone with weather apps or social media, including Woodlands Weather Dude, makes it easier than ever to have access to current and future weather at your fingertips.

 

Secondly, the weather hasn’t exactly been boring around here. In my 27 years of living in Houston, I believe the most active stretch of significant weather occurred here recently over the last few years. Hurricane Harvey (2017) and the two 2016 Floods both had huge impacts on our community and has stirred even more personal interest in the weather, especially during the tropical season.

Finally, I believe the popularity of the WWD Facebook page may also be an unfortunate byproduct of storm anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Dr. Asim Shah, a Baylor College of Medicine mental health expert, “Close to a year after Harvey, we are still seeing [patients with] depression and anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as well”.  Although I don’t interact directly with most of my followers, I have had many conversations with fellow co-workers who have been directly (or indirectly) impacted by Harvey or prior storms.  Some of them still suffer from insomnia and storm anxiety and have admitted to becoming obsessed with the weather, especially during thunderstorms.

Weather in Texas can be very scary for many in our area. What I attempt to do on my Facebook site is to provide my own unfiltered view on how a certain weather event is going to pan out.  And I always try to do it without any needless hype, although I have to admit some of our recent weather events over the last couple of years warranted some more serious weather language. During quieter times, I sometimes like to have forecasting contests. So if you have a good idea on when we will see our first 100-degree day or when we encounter our first freeze of the year, give me a follow! If you are a successful forecaster, you could even win a small prize. -WWD

Jeff Royed graduated from the University of Oklahoma where he received his B.S. in Meteorology. Jeff has lived in The Woodlands with his wife and two boys for over eight years. In his spare time, he enjoys running and biking on the local trails. He also likes taking his boys on short camping trips.

 

 

 

 

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