Ten Things To Do in The Woodlands, TX

December 6, 2017

This post is sponsored by The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

If you’ve been around the blog for a while now, you’ll remember that Nick and I moved back to the Charlotte in 2016. Before that, we lived in and around the Greater Houston area for about five years. Part of that time was spent in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands, Texas. Located about 30-ish miles north of Houston’s center, the suburb was recently named one of the best cities to raise a family in the country. And while we are a bit biased, we have to say that we definitely agree with that ranking. The Woodlands is a family-friendly community bursting at the seams with fun things to do, both indoors and outdoors.

A couple of weeks ago, Nick and I went to The Woodlands to celebrate the marriage of two of our very dear friends, Sarah and Jeff. While we were there, we did a sort of “greatest hits” style trip and made sure to visit all of our favorite haunts and even some places we missed during our time we lived there. Whether you live in Texas or not, a trip to The Woodlands is well worth it for a weekend getaway or even just a day trip from Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio.

During our trip I took a bunch of videos, and put together a little recap of our trip! It’s the first video I’ve ever made for this here blog that actually required editing. I’m moving on up!


Ten Things to do in The Woodlands Texas - The Observant Turtle - Lifestyle Blog

1) Concerts at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

In the interest of full disclosure, I had the pleasure of calling The Pavilion my employer for most of my time living in Texas. However, don’t just take my word for it. Pollstar magazine recently ranked The Pavilion as the number 1 outdoor music amphitheater in the WORLD. Yes, you read that correct. There’s a world-class venue located in The Woodlands. Some of my favorite acts I’ve seen there include James Taylor, Elton John, Paramore, Bruce Springsteen, Fall Out Boy, Heart… really the list just goes on and on. If there’s a big tour, it’s likely that The Pavilion will host that artist. The Pavilion’s season runs March-November, and while the Texas summer heat is brutal, it’s well worth the visit. (Not to mention that the venue holds FREE events with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and Houston Grand Opera throughout its season!)

2) Hiking/Biking Trails

One of the things I loved most about The Woodlands is found right there in its name: the woods! The town has over 160 miles of hiking/biking trails woven in throughout the town limits. It’s easy to ride your bike from place to place, though you may get a bit tired if you’re as out of shape as I am. We often used the trails near our house and having all of the trees and brush around me made the walk even more relaxing. The best part? There’s tons of wildlife in The Woodlands, and it’s likely that you’ll stumble across it on your walk. On our most recent trip, we saw multiple turtles, an entire family of ducks, tadpoles, snakes, and rabbits!

3) Spa Day at The Woodlands Resort

Nick and I had the pleasure of staying at The Woodlands Resort for part of our trip, and while it wasn’t our first time staying there, it was an experience we will never forget. The team there gifted me a 50-minute massage and guys… I could barely stay awake afterwards, I felt so relaxed! If you pop in for a spa service, you’re able to use the sauna, steam room, showers, and jacuzzi. I definitely hit those up after my massage because I just couldn’t stand to go back out to the “real world” just yet! Whether you’re a guest at the resort or not, you should definitely schedule some time at the spa.

4) Bowling at Bowlero

If bowling takes you back to your days as a middle schooler, you will be floored when you walk into Bowlero. This place is a bowling alley, but on steroids. We never made it there when we lived in Texas before, so we had to check it out this time and we were not disappointed. They have a full bar, individual servers to help you at your lane, ping pong, pool tables, arcade games and giant TV screens where they play everything from family friendly movies to whatever sports are currently in season. Be sure to check out their website for specials – if you go on an “off night” like we did, they will likely have specials like unlimited bowling and shoes for a set price!

5) Shopping at Market Street

Your significant other might be like mine and run the opposite direction when I mention the word “shopping” but Nick was a great sport and agreed to walk around Market Street with me on our trip. They have high-end stores like Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Johnny Was, and Trina Turk, but also favorites like Kendra Scott, LUSH, Lululemon, Madewell, J. Crew, and Francesca’s. In addition to amazing shopping, they have some of the best restaurants in The Woodlands, including Jasper’s and Tommy Bahama, and an amazing movie theater that shows movies that range from the latest indie-flick to chart-topping blockbusters.

(credit)

6) Ice Skating at The Ice Rink

Open from November-January and located at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Ice Rink is (you guessed it) an indoor ice-skating rink for the whole family. For many years the rink was held inside a giant tent across the street from its current location, but last year was opened for its first full season at The Pavilion. We know that Texas isn’t known for white Christmases, so this may be the closest thing you’ll get.

7) The Lazy River at The Woodlands Resort

If you ever have the opportunity to stay at The Woodlands Resort, we highly recommend it, not only for its exceptional service and immaculate grounds, but also for the awesome lazy river! It’s fairly new – only a few years old – and it was a highlight of our last trip to the resort. I’m just sad that it wasn’t open for our trip just a few weeks ago! The entire pool area is just insane, but the lazy river is good for all ages.

8) TopGolf

Okay, so TopGolf isn’t “technically” in The Woodlands… but it’s just a ten minute drive! Located in Spring, TopGolf is a three-story indoor driving range that is fun for golfers and non-golfers alike! Much like Bowlero where you have a dedicated server, TopGolf’s friendly staff is there to serve you delicious drinks and house-made food while you play. We took family and friends there whenever they visited and they always had a blast! There are multiple “games” you can play, but typically I just swing to see how far I can get the balls to go. TopGolf is an international chain, and there are two locations in the greater Houston area.

9) Explore The Woodlands Waterway

Located right in the heart of Town Center, the Waterway is one of the most iconic features of The Woodlands. You can rent kayaks and float along the Waterway into Lake Woodlands, or you can take a river cruise! Our favorite thing to do was to park at one end and walk along the side of it, usually heading to a restaurant or bar on the other end. If you go at night, there are some particularly gorgeous lights to enjoy! The Waterway isn’t deep, but keep an eye on the little ones so they don’t take a tumble into the water.

The Observant Turtle - The Woodlands Waterway - The Woodlands, TX

Holiday Photo Shoot 2014 at The Woodlands Waterway (credit)

10) Dinner at Robard’s Steakhouse

There are many fine steakhouses in The Woodlands, but for me, none of them compare to Robard’s. Not only is the food exceptional, the decor is the restaurant is my favorite. Much of The Woodlands, including the resort, is owned by The Howard Hughes Corporation. Yes, that Howard Hughes. Being the movie buffs that we are, Nick and I love the old Hollywood style of the restaurant and the movie posters and memorabilia hanging on the walls. We enjoyed some happy hour bites while there on our trip recently and I can say that they easily have the best calamari I’ve ever eaten, and the baby bisque (with hunks of succulent lobster) was to die for. The restaurant overlooks the 18th hole at The Woodlands Resort, and has a beautiful patio where guests can enjoy a drink or two (or three) after golfing.

Robard's Steakhouse - The Woodlands, Texas - The Observant Turtle

There you have it! There is so much more that I could have included, it’s hard to narrow it down! Have you ever been to The Woodlands? What is your favorite thing to do, see, or eat there?

Planning a trip to Houston? Visit The Woodlands, just 30 miles north of Houston's city center!

Feminist Gift Guide

November 20, 2017

I don’t know about you, but there are so many gift guides floating around right now and sometimes I think, “wow, none of this stuff is me!” So, I decided to make my own style of gift guides, starting with my Harry Potter Gift Guide last week.

Over the past year, my already “girl power” attitude has turned into a full-fledged feminist and I want to literally wear it on my sleeve… or chest… or mug. If you’re like me and want to spread the good word, check out these awesome gifts from some super rad ladies (and there may or may not be coupon codes below!)

Feminist Gift Guide - The Observant Turtle

Feminist AF Phone Case $15.99 – Rose Gold Rebel is one of my favorite shops for sassy gear on the internet, and it doesn’t hurt that it is headquartered right here in Charlotte! This phone case is right up my alley: not too bulky, pink, and a kick-ass message. The best part? You can get 15% off using the code “FeministAF15” because RGR is just that awesome.

Fierce Feminist Sweatshirt $30 – The first of many items on this list from Everyday Unicorns, this sassy sweatshirt is perfect for anyone: male or female! Valery has some AMAZING Black Friday deals, so make sure to head over to her website and sign up for the email list for the latest details. She is offering free shipping to y’all ’cause she’s my girl. Use code “TOTFREE.”

Feminist Poster $18-32 – To me, feminism is helping all women of all colors. Building other women up is something I try to commit myself to every single day. This poster would be perfect in my office as a reminder to myself and a statement to others.

Feminist Note Pad $10 – I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly having to write things down. I have a terrible memory and have to keep lists all the time. I love this notepad and the yellow color is awesome!

Blooming Uterus Pin $10 – I’ve been super into pins recently and I love this uterus pin. Now I just need to figure out a place to put all of them!

Barrel Rolls Not Gender Roles Mug $12 – This mug is for the feminist old-school gamer. (Star Fox anyone?) As soon as I saw this mug, I knew I had to have it. This design is also available as a sweatshirt or hoodie! It’s also from Everyday Unicorns, so make sure to use the code “TOTFREE” for free shipping!

Feminist Embroidered Baseball Hat $14.99 – I love wearing hats on the weekends, especially one that has such a bold statement. Definitely hoping to get this one in my stocking this year!

Intersectional Feminist Lapel Pin $12 – I love Scrabble, I love gold, and I’m an intersectional feminist. Need I say more about why I love this pin? (Check out this article if you’re not familiar with the concept of intersectional feminism)

Set of 6 Pencils $10 – The feeling I get when I write with a freshly sharpened pencil is ridiculously soothing. You can buy these individually, or in a set of 3, 6 or 10!

Female Symbol Handstamped Necklace $20-36 – I’m a huge fan of understated hand-stamped necklaces, and this Venus symbol is perfect!

Ladies Don’t Start Fights Mug $13.99 – Real talk: I’ve been a fan of Marie from The Aristocats has been one of my favorite Disney characters ever since I saw this movie when I was a kid. This is totally a

Intersectional Feminist Sweatshirt $30 – Another awesome sweatshirt from Everyday Unicorns that’s also available as a t-shirt, long-sleeve tee, tote bag, and phone case! (Don’t forget to use code “TOTFREE” for free shipping!)

Who would these gifts be perfect for on your list? Any other items you’d add to the list?

 

 

Harry Potter Gift Guide

November 9, 2017

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m absolutely obsessed with everything Harry Potter. I’ve been a fan of the books and movies since I was 13 and now, 15 years later, I still love the magic behind it all. And I know I’m not alone!

If you’re looking for a gift for the Harry Potter lover in your life, check out these 12 items that are sure to enchant any of the witches or wizards on your holiday shopping list.

“It’s Real for Us” Charm Necklace – $18

Any Harry Potter fan will tell you that it’s more than a book or movie series. We’re over here still waiting on our Hogwarts letters… (This necklace is made by a local Charlottean!)

Hogwarts Crest Ceramic Mug – $18

This red clay mug looks like it belongs in the Great Hall. Fill it with pumpkin juice or Butterbeer and it’s the perfect gift for any thirsty wizard.

Hallmark Resin Ornaments – $7.99 each

We have a tradition in our family to buy at least one “nerdy” ornament for our tree each year. We have a TARDIS and multiple Star Wars characters, so I think it’s time to add some Harry Potter love to our tree this year.

Constant Vigilance Tee – $25

Take heed of this warning from our dear friend Mad-eye Moody! If you’ve never purchased a tee or tank from Jordandene, you’re in for a treat. These shirts are the softest on the market – I promise you! And just because Jordan knows and loves my readers, she’s offering 20% off any purchase using code “TOT20” (be sure to order by Dec. 19 for delivery before Christmas!)

Marauder’s Map Scarf – $19.99

While this map won’t come to life or tell you where to find your friends, you can show your love for Messrs. Moody, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs with this scarf. Mischief managed!

Harry Potter Spells Coaster Set – $16

Since we don’t have magic to clean up water rings on tables, we have to rely on good old Muggle tricks. This coaster set is absolutely going on my wish list this year! It’s such an easy way to inject a little magic into your home without going overboard.

Hogwarts Letter Zip Wallet – $29.99

We may be too old to get our Hogwarts letters now, but imagine the joy on your (and your friends) face when you pull out this wallet. It won’t replace seven years of good memories at wizarding school, but pull out that cash and make your own memories!

Hogwarts Express Print – $27-32

If you ever dream of passing through Platform 9 3/4 to head across the countryside for Hogwarts, this print is the perfect way to bring that dream to life. I love that this print could easily be confused for a real travel poster. (I mean, Hogwarts is real, but shhhhh)

Yer a Wizard Tee – $25

Another favorite from Jordandene. We love Hagrid and this quote from his first interaction with Harry is just the beginning of the adventures for our young Mister Potter. This tee also comes in tank form! Don’t forget to get 20% off any purchase using code “TOT20” (be sure to order by Dec. 19 for delivery before Christmas!)

Harry Potter Makeup Bag – $22-27

Carry your love for the series wherever you go! This makeup bags comes in two different sizes, and can even be purchased as a set. You even get to pick the color of the lining.

Deathly Hallows Water Bottle – $19.99

I’m trying to stay in shape, and with Quidditch season coming up, what better way to stay hydrated than with this Deathly Hallows water bottle?

Golden Snitch Pin – $12

Pins are coming back into style and I absolutely love it. Grab this golden Snitch pin and show off your super stellar Seeker skills!

Which of these items are you dying to find under your tree? Anything you’d love to see appear at the foot of your bed?

 

November 2017 Goals

November 7, 2017

It’s been quite a while since I did a goals post, but I really enjoyed doing these a few months ago! Not only did it help to write them and get my head in line for the coming month, it helped to put everything out there. I felt accountable, especially when I checked in with my goals the following month. Have you tried writing out your goals for the month? Did it help?

 

Here’s what I’m working on for November:

School –

Complete my research paper. I’m almost done! Just need to add in my Works Cited page and I can submit before Friday’s due date.

Complete my process portfolio. This one is easy, I just need to upload all of the assignments I’ve done to my Google Drive.

 

Home –

Organize and store all Halloween decorations. I’ve moved all of our decorations into our spare bedroom. Now I need to organize them!

Evaluate current Christmas decoration inventory. This is our second Christmas in our new house, but we didn’t really decorate last year other than having the tree up. I need to get a ~*~look~*~ going on.

Purchase a new Christmas tree. I’m looking for something that’s at least 7.5 feet tall and less than $150… think that’s possible?

 

Advocacy/Community Engagement –

Attend at least one event with Moms Demand Action. I signed up to attend an event Nov. 16… I’m putting it out there so that I don’t back out.

Research my ballot and vote in the Nov. 7 election. It’s important to me to vote in all elections, whether they’re local or national level.

 

Life – 

Make a list of everyone that I need to purchase Christmas gifts for and start researching gift ideas. I’m bad at waiting until the last minute, so I want to get a jumpstart on this in case I need to order things online.

Work out at least three a week. This should be easy since I have a membership to Orange Theory Fitness. Really I should be working out more than this, but this is a good start.

 

Blog/Social Media – 

Blog at least twice a week. Trying to hop back on the bandwagon and pump out some regular content is daunting!

Post on Instagram at least twice a day. Sometimes I go days without posting, so I want to be more consistent.

Grow my new Facebook group (Southern Influencer Network) to at least 100 members. If you live in the southern US, I hope you’ll consider joining our group! It’s laid and a way for us to connect with other influencers across the region!

 

What are you trying to accomplish this month?

 

My Girls – Partnering with Elaine Turner for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 18, 2017

I consider myself extremely fortunate: I have multiple groups of girlfriends from all from different points in my life.

In high school, I hung out with four other ladies. We bonded over our love of school (we were nerds), reading (particularly Harry Potter) and world events. We participated in Model UN and hung out on the weekends going to skating rinks and shopping malls. Each Christmas, we get together for brunch and swap gifts and life stories. We live all across the globe but when we’re together, it’s like no time has passed.

In college, I joined a sorority and quickly bonded with a handful of girls in my new member class. We experienced things alongside each other from our days of living in the freshmen dorm on campus to crush parties to mountain retreats. The years went on and we remained close. Now we text each other almost every day, go on yearly mountain trips together, and have welcomed a total of 5 little boys and one soon-to-be born little girl into our circle.

When I moved to Houston, I met the most incredible group of women through blogging. We kept up with each other through social media (and still do) but met up for monthly brunches, blogger events, and conferences. They supported me when I was missing my other girls who were over a thousand miles away (or more). I try to see these women at least once a year since I moved back to the Carolinas.

Lately I’ve been thinking about these women in terms of our experiences. We’ve laughed together, cried together, gotten into (mild) trouble together, attended each other’s weddings and baby showers. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs.

Then I start to think about my friends in terms of statistics.

Out of these fifteen women, including me, it’s likely that two of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer in our lifetime.

Breast cancer is something that we have heard about for years. I won’t spout facts or figures off because I know we’re well-aware of the effect it has on women all over the world.

Today I wanted to share with you about a brand that I love, Elaine Turner, and their fundraiser this month. 20% of all proceeds from two custom jewelry pieces purchased online, in stores or with your Elaine Turner Elite Stylist will benefit National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission of providing help and inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. Through partner and donor support, NBCF provides free mammograms across the country. Elaine has decided to take on this cause because of her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, so it’s something close to her heart.

I’m wearing the Peggy Bracelets, and wore them to see one of my high school friends get married just last weekend. It was a reminder to embrace the moments we have together, however fleeting they may be.

I received this bracelet as part of a partnership with Elaine Turner. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!