Mom Time!

Back to school time is a great time to celebrate you! Busy moms, congratulate yourselves on keeping the kids entertained and out of trouble all summer by treating yourself to a day of peace, quiet, and a little pampering. Put the home business, grocery list, and cleaning supplies aside and spend some time at a nearby oasis – you’ve earned it!

Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa in The Woodlands is a highly-rated day spa offering hot stone massages and other treatments to relax and heal tired, sore muscles. They also have special facial treatments and provide personalized services and recommendations to improve the appearance and health of your skin.

When you look and feel good, you have more energy and patience to be the best mom you can be. Spending some time at Radiance Advanced Skin and Body Care, which offers a wide variety of spa and beauty treatments as well as medical procedures and body sculpting, can help you feel your best. Take advantage of their Monthly Specials to save on procedures like laser hair reduction and CoolSculpting in August.

Getting a mani/pedi is a Mom Day staple, but if you haven’t stopped in at Palace Nails Bar on Rayford Road you’re missing out! This salon is one of very few in The Woodlands area with a 5-star rating on Yelp and their clean, welcoming facility is a place you can relax and enjoy. Not only are free drinks offered, but a fresh fruit plate will perk you up while you’re pampered. The technicians are meticulous and kind and will get your nails looking fabulous.

After all this pampering, meet up with some friends for a glass or two of wine. Envy Wine Room located in Old Town Spring, is situated inside of the Why Not Envy Me boutique – what a perfect combination! You can sip your wine while you shop or just relax in their lounge. Cellar twenty four is another great location with a relaxed atmosphere and specialty wines. They also offer several different craft beers and their menu includes specialty pizzas along with traditional wine bar fare.

It’s OK to take a day for yourself every once in a while, Mom, so go out and enjoy it!

Last Minute Summer Fun Ideas

Schools in The Woodlands start up on August 16, but others in Montgomery County won’t begin until September 6. Whether you’ve got two days or three weeks to go, here are some great ideas to make the most of the end of summer break!

• Hit up a water park. Nothing says “summer” like a day at the water park splashing in a wave pool and screaming down the slides. Fortunately for us in north Houston, there are several within a reasonable driving distance to choose from.

o The closest is Wet ‘n’ Wild Splash Town in Spring and it has recently been renovated to include more activities for toddlers and younger kids.

o A quick drive down Grand Parkway will take you to Typhoon Texas, the new water park next to Katy Mills Mall. In its second year, Typhoon Texas features “slide boarding” – a video game that you play as you splash down the tube waterslide – along with many other thrilling slides, pools and a lazy river.

o Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark is enormous and has something for everyone in the family, including an indoor section in case the weather isn’t cooperating. Group raft slides, a whitewater river, and boogie boarding are highlights at this park.

o A little farther west you’ll find Splashway Water Park where speed waters slides and mat racers are all the rage. Toddler splash pads and shallow pools are great for little ones while older kids and adults will love the brand new Riptide 4-person raft thrill slide.

• Bowling can be a fun way to amp up your competitive spirit while keeping cool in the air conditioning. Visit the website kidsbowlfree.com and sign up for free passes for up to two games per day per child all summer! 300 Bowl in Conroe participates in this program, as does Tomball Bowl in Tomball.

• Get creative at Painting with a Twist in The Woodlands where you and your kids can have fun making a masterpiece worthy of some wall space in your home. The two hour class walks you through the techniques and tricks to make your artwork look professional with a little help along the way. Kids will love getting messy with the paint and be so proud of their finished products.

Get out and enjoy these last moments of Summer 2017 because it will be gone before you know it!

School Safety

Back to school is just around the corner. Are your kids ready? Here are some safety topics to discuss with them before they hit the bus, car, bike or walk route.

If your child rides the school bus, review rules like staying seated at all times unless loading or unloading. Some busses have seatbelts, but most do not, so it is important to remain sitting for the entire ride. Several busses, especially those for elementary schools, have assigned seating.

And while the school will help children get on the right bus at the end of the day, make sure your child knows which one they are assigned to and what their stop is, just in case. Other bus safety rules include not walking behind the bus, waiting on the sidewalk until the bus doors open, and not rough housing on the bus.

Car riders have a bit of an easier time, but still children should be reminded to only walk in front of the vehicle when they exit in the morning. Be sure your child knows what your car looks like and inform him/her who will be picking them up each day. Go over the list of neighbors or friends who are authorized to give them a ride and instruct them not to get into a car with someone they don’t know well.

Bike riders should always wear helmets and have backpacks secured to their shoulders using both straps. One-shoulder wearing can cause the rider to be off balance and could lead to an accident. Check tire air pressure and go for a ride a few days before school starts to make sure bikes are in good condition. Instruct children to ride slowly and watch out for pedestrians and to use a bell or warning sound when approaching others from behind.

In turn, walkers should be instructed to look out for bikers. Stay to the right side of the sidewalk or path so bikes can easily pass. Both bikers and walkers will probably be crossing the street, so a review of safety – like stop, look, and listen – is in order. Point out crossing guards, crosswalk markers and signals and teach children how to follow them.

As drivers, be extra careful when going through school zones and look out for bikers and pedestrians, especially during morning and afternoon hours.

Let’s have a safe and happy back to school time!

Disaster Preparedness

Living in Southeast Texas, you’re likely to encounter severe storms, drought, flooding, and even wildfires. Any number of other disasters, whether natural or manmade, can cause you to leave your home or be confined to it for several days at a time. Being prepared is more than half the battle when it comes to these types of unfortunate events.

Be ready at home with a first aid kit, flashlights, and a stockpile of batteries and fresh water. In addition to these basic items, other necessities to have on hand include: box or can food and can opener; extra cell phone batteries; zip-close baggies and wet wipes; plastic sheets or a tarp and duct tape. Since it is almost always hot in north Houston, a battery powered fan is also a good investment.

Have a plan in place to evacuate your home if necessary. Figure out friends or family in driving distance that you could stay with, or scope out hotels online and choose one in advance. Keeping in mind that you might not have access to cellular or internet services during a disaster, print out directions to these locations and place in your vehicle’s glove box. Keep a full can of gas in reserve as well.

If you have pets, be sure to consider their comfort and safety in your planning. Keep extra pet food and stock water for them, too. Place a pet rescue alert sticker near your home’s front door so first responders will know to look for them in the event of a house fire or other home emergency. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you and check ahead to see if shelters will allow your pets inside. If not, make a plan to drop them off at an emergency pet shelter until you can safely return and retrieve them.

Practice evacuating your home, especially if you have children. Point out the safest and shortest exit route from their bedrooms and include an alternative if that route is blocked. Place a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and another in an upstairs common area. Plan your meet up location and walk there with your kids in both daylight and at night – be very specific about the spot.

Being prepared in advance, not trying to scramble during a tragedy, is key to your safety and comfort during any time of distress.

Houseplants: Which Are the Best for Your Health?

Houseplants offer many benefits in addition to their aesthetic value. Here are some tips on what types of plants to choose and the healthy reasons to do so.

The most common reason to have houseplants, aside from adding to your home’s décor, is to help purify the indoor air. As homes and workplaces become more energy efficient, sealing off the indoor space from air leakage and drafts, this can also cause indoor pollutants to become trapped inside.

Plants are a very efficient natural air filter, helping to clean out those pollutants and generate oxygen. If this is your goal, grab a couple of peace lily plants, named by HGTV as one of the best air filters. Pothos plants, a type of ivy that comes in various colors, are well known for their ability to help purify indoor air, as well as being one of the easiest houseplants to care for.

If you suffer from insomnia or have difficulty falling asleep at night, think about adding a houseplant or two to your bedroom. Snake plant is perfect for non-gardeners, as it can go long periods without watering and requires little direct sunlight. It filters formaldehyde and benzene contaminants from the air, giving your bedroom (one of the places you spend the most amount of time) purified air. The increased oxygen it will produce can aid in restful sleep. Aloe plants, jasmine, spider plant and gardenia are also great bedroom plants.

Just as pondering great works of art can reduce stress levels, so can gazing at flowers. Keeping flowering plants in your home can contribute to lowering your stress, so consider such plants as the popular African violet or anthurium. Christmas cactus plants do well even when neglected, so they are an easy one to start out with as long as you place them in direct sunlight. Peace lily plants also thrive on neglect. Other blooming plants include the red-hot cattail with its fuzzy, long blooms, orchids, and lipstick plant.

Another surprising emotional benefit of having houseplants is that they can help people heal faster from injuries. So, next time a friend or family member is down for the count, consider sending a plant instead of the typical bouquet of flowers.

10 Quick Household Fixes

We all have those little things around the house that we wish we could get to, but just don’t make the time. Here are some quick fixes for common household annoyances that you can handle in about 10 minutes.

• Grease squeaky doors and windows with a shot of WD-40 or petroleum jelly. Grab a jar of lubricant and a rag and walk around your house, spraying door hinges, window skids, cabinet doors and drawers. Your sleeping spouse will thank you next time you get up in the middle of the night and don’t wake him/her with a creaking bathroom door!

• Wipe the baseboards. Get a folded towel to kneel on and put an old sock on your hand dampened with warm, soapy water. Slide around the house and give all the baseboards a quick swipe. This will remove the dust and dirt buildup and give your house a fresh look.

• Get an extended-handle duster and clean off ceiling fan blades. Also scope out cobwebs in ceiling corners and behind toilets or other usually out-of-reach places.

• Run the tub cleaning cycle on your washing machine and dish washer. This probably only takes two minutes (thanks, modern technology!).

• Drop in a toilet bowl cleaner so you don’t have to scrub. Many products on the market will clean your toilet for you, you just have to remember to replace them every so often. Take a few minutes and replace the cleaners in all your house’s toilets. Be sure that the one you choose won’t corrode the inner-workings of the tank – products that go directly in the bowl are best.

• Use your vacuum’s extension handle to clean out air vents, returns and exhaust fans. OK, so this one might take a little longer than 10 minutes depending on how big your house is, but it is a great way to get rid of the dust circulating through your home’s HVAC system.

• With a damp paper towel, wipe out the inside of your oven to remove crumbs, ash and dust. Next, apply a self-cleaning oven spray according to the product’s directions. Then, set your oven’s self-cleaning function and go sit down and relax for the four hours it takes for the cycle to run. When it’s done, wipe away any residue with a wet cloth.

And voila – now your house is spruced up and all it took you was 10 minutes!

Leaving on Vacation

Inevitably, summer travel time is when things go wrong in your house. From a burst pipe to an invasion of ants, here’s how to minimize your chances of Murphy’s Law taking over while you’re relaxing on a beach.

The big things:

• Shut off the main water supply to your house. This will likely disable your sprinkler system as well, so weigh the pros and cons of having your lawn watered versus a broken toilet leak in your house.

• Set your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting, or turn the temperature down. This will save electricity while you’re away.

• Set your thermostat to 82 degrees. This, too, will save electricity. Setting any higher than 82 may allow too much heat and moisture to accumulate in your house and could cause other problems, such as warping of wood floors and cabinets, spoiling food contents in your pantry, and could even damage electronics.

• Clear out your refrigerator as much as possible and turn the setting one notch warmer. Since you won’t be home opening the door, the unit will stay cooler and with fewer contents it won’t have to work as hard to keep things cold.

• Put a hold on your mail. If you will be gone for more than a few days, ask the post office to hold your mail. An overflowing mailbox or packages left on your front doorstep are sure signs to potential intruders that you’re away.

• Contact the local police department and ask them to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone.

The little things:

• Water all of your houseplants before you go.

• Vacuum your house, especially areas where you’ve eaten, including windowsills and corners of countertops to get up any crumbs that could invite ants or other bugs. Wash counters and tables for the same purpose.

• Hire someone to mow your lawn if you’ll be gone for longer than a week. Another sure sign of an empty house is an unkempt yard.

• Unplug electronics – the TV, power strips, computer, toaster oven, etc. This will help prevent an electrical short, potential fires, and damage to these appliances.

• Set a timer on one or two lights to help your house look “lived in” and ask a friendly neighbor to park their cars in your driveway occasionally.

• Take out the trash – the kitchen, bathroom and office cans should be empty. Again, to prevent pests but also to prevent bad smells.

Talk with a trusted neighbor about your travel plans and ask them to keep an eye out for any unexpected package deliveries or issues with your house while you’re away. Leave them with your emergency contact information and travel itinerary. You’ll have peace of mind that your home is being watched so you can relax and enjoy your trip!

The Woodlands Country Club

The Woodlands Country Club has just completed a total reinvention of their facilities and added numerous amenities for club members to enjoy. If you’ve ever considered a membership to a country club, this one is worth checking out!

When you think of a country club, golf is probably the first thing that comes to mind. At The Woodlands Country Club, 63 holes on three courses, plus a brand new short game area, are waiting to challenge your skills. With a new fleet of golf carts last year, a revamped driving range and updated equipment, this is a player’s dream. The Palmer course features intricate water hazards and winds around the serene, tall pine trees. The Tournament course is host of the annual Insperity Invitational and is set amongst the Village of Grogan’s Mill. The Player course is the newest and has large landing areas and greens with water features on 11 holes.

The three clubhouses adjacent to each course have been updated, with the most major overhaul at the Palmer Clubhouse. A brand new Legends dining room and bar is the perfect place to relax after a day on the links or at the office. Outdoor dining complete with firepits and comfortable seating form a welcoming gathering place, and the Palmer Library offers a quiet event room. For larger parties, the Legacy event venue can hold up to 300 people. The Tournament Clubhouse has gorgeous views of the golf course and an updated lounge area, and the Player clubhouse has a new shaded patio.

Tennis is another big draw for a country club, and The Woodland’s doesn’t disappoint. With just-added hard courts and freshly resurfaced clay courts, you’ll be sure to find the perfect place to play. New court lighting now allows for late evening matches as well.

The pool complex has been renovated to be more family-friendly with a basketball hoop and over-water climbing wall. Eight new cabanas offer privacy and shade while you relax in the upgraded pool furniture. The just-opened poolside bar offers drinks, snacks and a place to sit and chat while the kids play in the separate baby pool. A party room that can accommodate 35 guests is adjacent to the main pool and is a great spot for your next outdoor event.

Get your daily workout in at one of two fitness facilities at the Club. The new fitness center at the Palmer Clubhouse has state-of-the-art cardio and weight training equipment, plus new virtual training. The Tournament Course fitness center has group exercise classes including pilates, Zumba, yoga and TRX Suspension Training.

Stop by for a tour and check out all of the enhancements at The Woodlands Country Club. It just may become your new favorite spot!

Barton Creek Getaway

Looking for a weekend (or longer!) escape that’s not too far from home? The Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is a Texas Hill Country oasis for anyone looking to relax and unwind. Located just outside of Austin on the west side, it’s only about a three hour drive from The Woodlands.

Barton Creek is well known as a golfer’s paradise, with four courses on the property, and has bragging rights as the number one golf resort in Texas. Each unique course, designed by pros Ben Crenshaw, Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio, have beautiful views of the Hill Country, tall trees, challenging fairways and even picturesque glimpses of Lake Travis.

Three Springs Spa offers holistic treatments including massage, skin therapies and guided meditation sessions. The luxurious environment can take you to a new level of relaxation as you de-stress with spa packages designed just for you. An onsite salon offers nail and hair services to get you ready for a night out after your day of relaxation.

While the adults unwind, the kids can play at Barton Creek’s Kids Club open to all guests daily. Special activities, games and interactive fun await children from 6 months to 8 years old. Reservations are required, so call ahead. Summer Camp is also an option from now until August 11 through KECamps. Kids will enjoy tennis and golf along with super science projects, arts and crafts, martial arts lessons and swimming.

Austin is known for its music scene and that tradition is continued here with Barton’s Unplugged and Barton Creek Live. Relax and unwind with a cocktail in Barton’s Lounge while enjoying live acoustic performances every Friday and Saturday evening. Full bands perform at the Pavilion for the summer music series, Barton Creek Live which is only open to resort guests. Check the schedule for country and red dirt music artists Cody Canada, Tracy Lawrence, Bruce Robison and more!

Don’t let your workout routine slide while you’re at Barton Creek – visit their fitness center, open daily, and exercise with state of the art equipment and fun group fitness classes including yoga, Zumba and boot camps, among others.

Lounge poolside at one of three swimming areas while wait staff deliver your favorite frosty beverages. The main outdoor pool has beautiful rock features and is situated near a secluded hot tub area. A special kids pool is perfect for families to splash and play, and the indoor pool is heated and available year-round.

For more information and to book a stay, visit https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/austin-barton-creek.

Landscaping: Tips for the Heat

The hot Texas sun can do a number on your landscaping if you don’t protect it by watering properly and choosing the best shrubs and flowers to withstand the heat.

Watering your lawn and flower beds is best done in the early morning hours – between 5 and 9am. This allows ample time for the water to soak into the soil before the hot sun causes it to evaporate. Also, you don’t want your grass and plants to be damp for long periods of time (i.e. overnight) as this can let fungus and disease creep in.

Set your irrigation system or turn on your sprinklers and time how long it takes for one inch of water to accumulate. You can do this by setting out an empty can and measuring how full it is after you water. You should water your grass twice per week, a half inch of water each time. This infrequent, deep watering will promote healthy root growth. Flower beds may require more frequent watering to keep plants perky – just set your irrigation system to only water the beds and not the grass on off days.

The best flowering plants that can withstand the heat, sun, and dry conditions are the African Daisy, Butter Daisy and Fanflower. The Dusty Miller plant, though it doesn’t make blooms, has a nice, slivery-gray color that can bring a garden together. Dakota Gold is another profusely blooming plant that can take up to 100 degree heat with little watering, as can Lantana (which also makes an excellent ground covering).

Scope out how much sun your flower beds actually get. If an area is shaded for part the day, some of these plants may do better: Dahlia, Impatients or Begonia.

Keeping your flowerbeds and gardens well-mulched will keep the moisture from watering in the soil and help the plant’s root system. Placing organic matter in your soil before planting will also help retain moisture as well as provide nourishment.