Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!!! Have you ever explored the Houston Zoo? Despite the HOT summer days my friend Lindsay and I braved the heat and took our little toddler monkeys to the zoo for the ultimate playdate adventure. Tip #1 – show up early! Parking is free but spaces fill up fast. We hit the ground running right when the zoo opened. Tip #2 – if you have a wagon it is so much easier to tow kiddos and “stuff” around the park. Or, bring a stroller. Tip #3 – wear sunscreen and pack bug spray. Tip#4 – bring snacks and hydrate. The zoo does have concession areas and Moms they sell wine! Tip#5 – know your route. The zoo his huge and you might want to bypass some animals to get to your favorite attractions. Speaking of favorites, we loved seeing the baby elephants, sea otters, and the sea lions. The Houston Zoo has special exhibits and events every day so check the calendar! There is always something new to discover so if you if you really want to maximize your experience then buy the family pass for the year. It’s more than worth it. The Houston Zoo is located at 6200 Hermann Park Drive in Houston, Texas. It is right next to the Med Center, several museums within walking distance, The Miller Outdoor Theater. Definitely take the kiddos next door to Hermann Park to ride the Choo Choo train! All Aboard! For more information head to their website www.houstonzoo.org .
It’s Fall Y’all! For Houstonians, this is the dream season. Weather is picture perfect. Even a pandemic cannot slow us down when it comes to enjoying this special time of year.
Our tradition usually leads us to the St Luke’s United Methodist Church pumpkin patch, but thanks to the COVID-19 times, they opted to not host this yearly event. Another wonderful alternative, which is probably not an alternative to others but their primary, is the Memorial Drive Methodist Church pumpkin patch. They were open for big business and we walked away with the biggest pumpkin we could find! Not only do they have an exciting variety of pumpkin options, but adorable phot-op backdrops for the kiddos, and the most expensive pumpkin you can buy is $25. So, have fun picking both big and small! It was our perfect Sunday activity for today, followed up with brunch at Royal Oaks Country Club.
Stay Safe. Wash Your Hands. Wear A Mask. These are the most common words we hear this year. Thanks to COVID-19 our lives will never be the same. In my world, travel is a huge part of who we are in my family. We love adventure and experiences. Plus, sometimes we just need a little break from every day life. Since hopping on an airplane is not so fashionable, we are now opening our minds up to some convenient road trips. Honestly, since we have a toddler who cannot sit still, short road trips is truly the way to go for us anyway.
First stop this year we chose San Antonio. This is a place we can go to many times and have a different experience each time. Since most large public places are closed such as Sea World and Fiesta Texas, we chose a hotel resort with some amenities to keep us occupied and safe. We tried out the Hyatt Residence Club at Wild Oak Ranch. In a perfect setting, this place has all you can offer to a family. They have a golf course, put put, fire pits, pools, slides, horseshoe games and corn hole, sand volleyball, restaurants, club house, and more. But due to social distancing restrictions the only attractions open were the golf course and the lazy river. We seriously went just for the lazy river! It was awesome!
A Schmidt family trip to Aspen to celebrate our son’s 1st birthday, why not? After all, he only turns one once! We wanted to go BIG for our ONE and only! Even though it was considered “off season” in early October we felt like we got the best of both worlds! Our first few days we caught the Fall golden foliage… then it snowed! It’s like Fall and Winter all packaged in one week! We stayed at the Hyatt Grand Aspen which was centrally located….a perfectly walkable spot and convenient to everything! We felt blessed! Our three bedroom unit had a balcony facing the pool, it had a cozy fireplace in our living room and bedrooms, plus the kitchen / dining / living room was spacious. And, travelling with a kid we were very grateful for the washer and dryer. No joke, out little one blew through 3 outfits just from Houston to Aspen! We made the mistake of renting a car and driving though Independence Pass….that very narrow, winding, high elevation route made our son VERY car sick. Oops…we won’t make that same mistake twice! Gorgeous scenic view, but it was NOT fun.
A treasure in my family for generations is the opportunity to visit Priest Lake, Idaho. My father, keeping tradition alive, rents cabins at Hills Resort during July and again in September and shares this sweet spot with our family and his special guests. From Houston we fly to Denver then to Spokane, Washington then take a 2.5 hour scenic drive to Idaho. Nestled near cities you might be more familiar such as Sand Point and Coeur d’Alene, consider Priest Lake the “Crown Jewel” of the Idaho Panhandle! The history of Priest Lake dates back almost 10,000 years at the end of the ice age. Glaciers once covered this area. Jesuit Priests would eventually settle the lake in the 1840’s and the rest is history! Literally, I tell anyone I know that this is the only lake that I trust!! Ha Ha. The water is crystal clear. I grew up on this lake water skiing, jet skiing, boating, and swimming. I never once felt a fish nibble on my toes. Besides boating, the area lends itself to outdoors seekers for hiking, fishing, motorbiking, skiing, and snowmobiling.
I love Independence Day. It ‘s a time where Americans remember the birth of the United States of America, pay respect to our forefathers, and remember our great patriots and the amazing scarifies they continue to make to keep our country home of the free and the brave. This year was extra special as we got to enjoy July 4th with our +1 , as we like to refer to him as “TOS – The Boss!” Life is truly so much more fulfilling with our little guy in the picture. This year we joined the festivities at the Royal Oaks Country Club and it did not disappoint! The club actually set a record year in attendance with over 400 patrons. On the great lawn they had food stations, cash bar, table set ups, plus exciting games and rides for the kiddos. And my favorite being face painting, because I have limited time in my son’s life to dress him up like my little doll! They even had an area fire department bring their big red truck, which was a true hit for the kiddos.
My husband and I joined the club exactly one year ago and it was fun to see our friends out enjoying the evening with their families and loved ones. I admit, I loved all of the red, white, and blue and patriotic preppy fashion! Also, I have sold some properties in this community too so my extra bonus was to cross paths with my clients who live and love the community! It is such a happy place and the people here are very welcoming and nice.
My love for John Hardy jewelry is so strong I had to fly across the world to Indonesia to visit their workshop! Ok, my husband and I just happened to be honeymooning in Bali and lo and behold the jewelry company has a workshop in the country hills of Ubud on the island of Bali! How convenient and coincidental for us! “Rich in nature, beauty, creativity, tradition and culture, Bali continues to be our universal source of inspiration,” says the folks at John Hardy. It is known as the island of wonders.
Talking about entering a magical land! This place might just be the most zen work environment I have ever experienced. Taking it all in this atmosphere beyond the rice and bamboo fields is enriched with greenery and traditional Bali-style buildings. They have animals onsite such as rabbits for compost and every day over 700 workers are fed a wholesome vegetarian lunch prepared on property using fresh farm ingredients. My hubby and I also experienced the sumptuous al fresco dining experience. It might have been the freshest meal I have ever enjoyed and in the company of the workshop’s senior management! Side note….through John Hardy’s “Jobs for Life Program” they provide vocational training, financial support, and job opportunities to disadvantaged Balinese orphans.
Houston nailed it as host city to Super Bowl 51! Thank you to our Mayor Sylvester Turner, city officials, and to the thousands of volunteers who helped make this all possible! Celeb interviews repetitively mentioned how friendly and hospitable Houston is, as well as organized I should add! For a town known for its traffic, honestly I too can attest I was very impressed with the “flow” of our city.
Starting with Discovery Green as our official ground zero for events and live reports, there could not have been a better place! From carnival rides to the NFL Experience exhibit there was plenty of action and activities for families from day to night. Here is a photo my father took just days before the “BIG DAY”. Every day the grounds were open to the public and at night private parties galore to explore! I think the media scored the highest because after all they were needed at all hours to capture all of the action!
My friends Lori, Lisa and I happened to be at The Houstonian Hotel’s Trellis Spa just days prior to the big game. Little did we know it was media appreciation day and we happened to slip right into the middle of all the action as they sipped champagne and performed live shots post their spa services. We made some new friends that day! When in Rome, right? Thanks for the free bubbly and entertainment!
Then came actual Super Bowl Sunday!! You should have seen the HEB parking lot off San Felipe! We could not find a parking spot so we went around the corner to Rice Epicurean Market. Sadly their lot was pretty much empty but lucky for us they had everything we needed! This being a good Texas steak, potatoes, guacamole, queso, and chips, plus beer and other fixins. You know, football food! Thank God hubby and I walked to True Foods for breakfast hours before off of Post Oak Blvd in Uptown. We drank our nutrients and burned off some much needed pre-game calories.
Wherever you watched the game I am sure it was a blast. My friend Holly had a party bus, my friend Lori invited me over to her house, my cousin Allison actually had tickets to the game….so jelly! I had some options! I am not much of a football fan but after watching the Pat’s lose so bad in the first half then came back historically in a half-time showdown?!?! I could not believe my eyes! I am not the biggest Tom Brady fan, he’s hot and all, and his wife Gisele is cool…but I give him major credit for what he was able to do to ultimately win the game. Sorry Atlanta Falcons. I know you were the underdog. You put up a great fight.
The biggest winner of the evening hands down was Lady Gaga!!! Consider me one of your little monsters my lady! For those who did not even know they were a fan they probably are now! To pull off starting at the top of NRG Stadium then flying throughout her whole performance. True talent deserves the utmost applause. Lady Gaga, you are welcome any time to Houston. We heart you!! And if you missed her performance here it is! This YouTube channel has had millions of hits.
This year is well under way, and don’t let these oil prices put you in a slump! How many of you have a resolution to get back in shape? I think this is my recurring wish. Anyway, always accepting to new ideas a friend of mine challenged me to join her for a spin class about a month ago. I loved it so much and now I am addicted (at least on Mondays).
There are spin studios all around Houston but the one I am enjoying is called RIDE off of 19th street in The Heights. The instructor has an awesome playlist and I find myself dancing in my seat for the full 45 minutes! Not to mention, the lighting changes as if I am at a night club….ok, I sometimes miss those days but sweating it off in a spin class is a much healthier option! If you’ve been thinking about trying something new, I wanted to share with you my success. I have since recruited 4 additional friends. Perhaps I can fill up a class one day with all of my peeps? What a ride that would be! Admittedly, after class we go eat lunch, but it’s at Zoe’s Kitchen which offers calorie friendly options.
Back to RIDE. Your first class is FREE including shoe rental. Signing up is so easy, just do so on their website. You also get to select your bike so you are guaranteed a spot. When you do try it out, bring a bottle of water or you can purchase one there. They also provide a locker for your belongings and a clean towel because you WILL SWEAT your tail off!
For more information on the studio and class schedule please go to www.ride-indoorcycling.com or call 281-888-9772. FYI, my Monday fix is at Noon with Will as the instructor. He mixes things up so it is never a dull moment! Remember, first class is FREE! No excuses now. Feel free to let them know your friend Trende Brende sent you. As they say, RIDE ROCK REPEAT!
It is a dream of mine to travel to Africa and to go on an exotic safari adventure. Until then, I love to explore Texas because it is convenient! Recently my fiancé and I went to San Antonio to meet our wedding officiant. All is good in that department! With our extra time in the day we thought why not check out the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch located between San Antonio and New Braunfels! Okay, the both of us love animals and I personally love zebras (and penguins for that matter). Well, this place allows us to drive though a natural park and feed wild animals and from our vehicle and in their natural setting nonetheless! How cool!! Just roll down the window and go!
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch has taken to heart the care of animals from all over the world for over 30 years. With over 400-acres of pristine, natural, protected, environment, animal populations continue to thrive. Get your explorer hat on because you will find giraffe, zebra, rhino, camel, ostrich, elk, and numerous more exotics! One part education, one part preservation; this is the place to mix it up for a day full of fun and adventure. It’s very family friendly too! I can’t wait to take my nephew and niece!
Come hungry too because on the premises is the Safari Camp Grill. Dive into juicy burgers with peppered fries, cheese nachos, chicken salad sandwiches, and finish off with some ice cream or Zebra a la mode!
Let the shopper in you get the goods and gifts at the Safari Trading Post.
For some up close laughs enjoy the Petting Barnyard with the African Pygmy Goats. Or make your way over to Lemur Island, the habitat of the Ring-tailed Lemur’s native home of Madagascar. Peacocks, Peahens and their offspring roam freely. They know their beauty, and will pose for photos.
We had such a wonderful adventure petting zebra and deer. Their whiskers were soft, the animals were so approachable, and it’s an activity that puts a smile on anyone’s face. Okay seriously, now that I’ve pet a zebra I have major bragging rights!
For more information on The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch check them out at www.wildliferanchtexas.com or call 830-438-7400. Annual passes are available or general tickets range from $10-19. It’s a WILD experience you WON’T want to miss!