Impromptu Game Day Fun

Between baseball playoffs and football season, October offers the perfect time to bring family and friends together for some easy entertaining.  Even if you are not a huge sports fan, it's fun to get together with friends and share in the excitement to support your home team.  

Of course the main event will be "the game", so you will want to keep the menu simple and easy.  Choose food and snacks that can be prepared without too much effort.  To keep it super easy, you can rely on some no cook items such as chicken wings with chips and salsa.  These favorite snacks can be purchased ready made from the store and you are simply "plating" the items.  It can't get much simpler than that!  

 

If you would like to add a little more pizzazz to the menu, stick with some favorite recipes that are tried and true.  I usually rely on baked beans that can be prepared early and kept warm in the slow cooker.  I also have an easy coleslaw recipe that I have refined over time and can practically prepare in my sleep.    

 

Always try to do as much preparation as you can before your guest arrive.  Once your friends begin to arrive, you want to be free to visit, relax and even watch the game.   

No fancy china is needed for this casual gathering.  I use some colorful  melamine plates, bright colored napkins, and plastic cutlery all stored in a tray caddy for easy serving.  

Remember. the idea is to bring together friends and family for an enjoyable fun-filled, easy and relaxed day.  Save the all day cooking for another time.  

"Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication."

-  Leonardo de Vinci

 

 

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Hurricane Harvey – Waters Rising

I truly never believed this could happen to our city!  

I’ve been through Hurricanes Alicia, Allison and Ike.  I thought I knew what to expect.  I’ve been through hurricanes with the wind howling and the rain pouring down. I’ve stayed in my home and watched the pine trees bend down and almost touch the ground.  I’ve been through storms where we’ve lost power and were lighting candles and lanterns to see in the dark.  

This storm was different. It was sneaky.  Just a bit of rain. No howling wind.  No bending pines.  Over time the rains began to come down harder.  Pounding.  Constant.  

Over the past few days, our neighborhoods have become a collection of islands.  The news reports 95% of our roads have high water or are impassable.  However, through all the rain, many of us have never lost power.  We’ve watched the news to see what’s happening across the city.  We see the people standing on rooftops.  We watch the helicopter rescues. We text our family and friends “Are you okay?”  We pray.  And so many citizens have come out to assist those in need.

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Even in their own distress, so many people have turned to help their neighbor.  I’ve known people who offer their warm, dry homes to strangers that were left at a holding station in the rain.  I’ve watched people that were evacuated return to be sure their neighbors were  out and safe.  I’ve seen others come volunteer in the shelters or bring whatever supplies they can offer, anything they can do to offer assistance.

I am so proud of our city officials and first responders.  I am so amazed by the entire Houston community! People helping people.  People leaving their own comfort behind to assist those that are in trouble.  There are so many volunteers coming from smaller communities outside of Houston bringing their boats to assist in the evacuations.  The Cajun Navy is coming from Louisiana to assist.  Volunteers are on their way from Lubbock bringing food, bottled water and supplies.  Volunteers from Oklahoma.  Thoughts and prayers from all over the country.

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As I watch the people of Houston being rescued, they are smiling and their hearts are filled with gratitude.  Houston you are truly setting an example for the rest of the country.  You are showing the world not only how to handle a catastrophe, but also the way to live each day, hand in hand, helping each other, hearts filled with love for one another.  

In every cloud there is a silver lining.  Our silver lining is the compassion that is being shown for the well being of our fellow citizens.  

If your looking for a way to help and show your support in the wake of Hurricane Harvey:

Feeding Texas – coordinates with the state and other providers for quick relief to those in need

Food Bank of Corpus Christi – click on the link donate

Houston Food Bank – they are currently closed due to flood waters and will reopen as soon as possible, they do have a link where you can click to donate

 

 

Find Gratitude – Find Joy

Gratitude – the quality of being thankful, showing appreciation and returning kindness.

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Today, I was reminded of gratitude.  I have to admit, I have been slouching around, complaining about the August heat and allowing myself to wallow in my discontent.  Not a good place to be.

But today, I was reminded that I can choose joy!

It was just a simple article on my morning news feed.  The article focused on a woman who had tragically and unexpectedly lost her husband.  But the heart of the article was remembering gratitude in an overwhelming situation.  It made me feel so silly and selfish for allowing myself  to wallow, when truly I am so fortunate.

Then later this morning, I found out that a very dear friend of mine was in a terrible car accident.  Her car was T-boned and the jaws of life were brought out to remove her from her vehicle.  I have to say she is fine, just very shaken up and a bit sore.  But what a frightening event to go through.  Thank goodness for seat belts and airbags!  

Some how, knowing how frightening this experience was for her put everything into perspective.  I remembered the importance of the simple everyday things that usually bring me so much joy, my loving family, the joys of nature, and a faith that sustains me through all the adversities of life.  

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It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.  However, if you remember gratitude each day, it helps to keep you from falling into that rut.  Gratitude can also pull you up when you are in such a rut.

Finding ways to cultivate gratitude in our lives can increase our happiness and joy.  Simply stopping to think about things we are grateful for increases an attitude of gratitude.  Taking the time to acknowledge simple pleasures and express thankfulness for your blessings can increase your joy and zest for life.

To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, here are some things I try to remember to help me through my day.

  • Morning reflection – this quiet time really helps to get my day off to the right start
  • Showing kindness – offering assistance, a kind word or smile, a helping hand to someone in need can mean so much to others. 
  • Say thank you to show your appreciation – those simple words can mean so much, but so often we forget to say them.
  • Share what you have with others – tip that waitress that was so kind an extra dollar – drop off  some groceries at a local shelter – When we share what we have, it not only helps others, it makes us feel better about life in general.
  • Keep a gratitude journal –  make a list of things you are thankful for – or better yet, write 3 things everyday that you are thankful for – start off small – but as you continue, you will be amazed at how your gratitude will grow.
  • Be a good listener – sometimes someone just needs their thoughts to be heard – You have know idea what a difference you might make to someone by simply really listening to their story.

So there you have it.  If you have actually read the words in this article, that shows that you truly care and want to make a difference.  Go out into the world and make that difference.  In our world where there is so much hate, be a product of love.  I believe in you!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness in life.

Blessings to you and yours always – xxoo Gerri

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Finding Everyday Joy

Finding joy in the simple things is my quest.  I seek simplicity, peace and serenity.  I strive to make my days and my surroundings as quiet and peaceful as I possibly can.  I have made a purposeful decision to avoid stress and chaos in my life and I structure my days for calm and quiet.

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I realize this may not be completely possible.  I know that life can be stressful and there are certain times when stress and chaos are hard to avoid.  However, I am making a purposeful choice to turn away from stress and chaos and fill my days with calm and quiet.

This has been a long term goal of mine, however, as with many goals, often we fall short of what we have planned.  Life gets busy, overwhelming, with stressful jobs, raising families, and seemingly endless to do lists of things we believe must be accomplished each day.  It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday stresses of life.  Sometimes so caught up that we become weary, physically exhausted and emotionally drained.  

Finding everyday joy involves finding simple pleasures in ordinary moments.  Finding joy each day involves taking a moment to enjoy small, simple pleasures.

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I know that I cannot completely avoid stress and busyness in my life.  I know would be unrealistic.  But there are things that I can do to bring a stressful day back to calm.

Here are some tips that I follow when I feel my peace and calm is turning into hectic and crazy. 

Start each day with quiet.  I know this can be difficult, but I try to carve a few minutes of quiet into the  beginning of my day for meditation, reflection, prayer.  It truly gets my day started on the right foot.

Flowers, candles, music.  I love for my home to be filled with fresh flowers, the smell of scented candles, and spa music or jazz playing softly in the background.  These things can instantly take the hectic out of my day and bring me back to calm and joy.

Spending time in nature.  A part of everyday for me includes a walk outdoors and some time in the garden soaking up some Vitamin D and enjoying the nature that’s around me.  The simple quiet of a gentle breeze and chirping birds can relieve stress from my day.

Being Creative.  Writing, drawing, painting, photography, arranging flowers…..anything that allows me to simply escape and forge my own way brings me relaxation, calm and rejuvenates my spirit.

Keeping things simple.  I try not to let to much clutter into my life.  This includes physical and mental clutter.  Stuff that takes up space in my home and stuff that takes up space in my brain.  If I don’t need it it in my life, I let it go.

Find the simple moments in your day and you will find joy.   xxoo Gerri

 

 

 

Celebrate Life!

In our family we do celebrations.  We celebrate all occasions, the big and the small.

We celebrate weddings and graduations.  We welcome a new life with great joy and yes, celebration.  We all come together, crowding into the hospital room,  to share the new parents joy and to welcome the precious new life our family has been blessed with. 

We celebrate birthdays, no matter how young or how old. 

We gather in our home.  Sometimes it’s just family. Sometimes we include close friends.  We share a meal together, setting the table with great care, including flowers, candles, whatever it takes to make the event feel special.  The menu is planned with great care to include the personal favorites of whoever is attending. Of course, there is a special desert and presents. 

The goal of the celebration is for those involved to know how much they are loved and treasured as a part of our family. Life wouldn’t be the same if we couldn’t come together and honor them on their special day. 

Not only do we celebrate birthdays.  We celebrate preschool programs, dance recitals, sporting events.

We plan ways to make our time together fun, special, memorable. On hot days we have watermelon,  blow bubbles, fill up a kids pool to splash in.  

On cold days we light a fire, make hot chocolate, bring out the pillows and blankets so we can all snuggle together.

Our celebrations do not have to be elaborate and expensive.  They can be small, simple, filled with things that are easily attainable.  We use our ingenuity as a resource to create an atmosphere of festivity, saving our pennies when needed. 

Sometimes we celebrate for no reason at all, just to enjoy our time together.

The importance of our celebrations is to spend time together in a way that is filled with love and laughter, sharing and caring. 

It’s important that we spend as much time celebrating life as possible. Celebrations enrich our lives, give us purpose, and strengthen relationships.  Celebrations take an ordinary day and fill it with joy and love.

 

 

Early Morning Quiet

Summer has definitely arrived with temperatures soaring into the mid 90’s!  I am a lover of warm weather, but it is truly difficult to enjoy the outdoors when the afternoon sun just beats down on your head and bakes you.

Fortunately for me, one of of my favorite times of day has always been early morning.  (Well, to be completely honest, this probably wasn’t true when I was in my teens and only saw early morning on an as needed basis!)

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However, now that I am older, I feel my best in the morning, refreshed and ready to conquer the new day. Recently, I’ve taken to grabbing my coffee and sitting outside first thing to enjoy my garden and commune a bit with nature.  The sun is not high in the sky and the temperature is pleasant.  I listen to the birds chirping and enjoy the slight breeze rustling the the tall pines.  It is quiet and peaceful.  It gives me a chance to put my mind in order and reflect on my goals for the day.

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I draw my peace and serenity from these early morning quiet times. I gather my thoughts and my energy.  This time alone in the peaceful, quiet early morning inspires me.  It’s in this quiet time that I gather my creativity and think about the possibility of future projects.  Without this time, I feel lost, without focus, unable to attain my creative goals, or to even be sure of what they are.

I have found that if I go too long without this quiet time,  I become depressed, anxious and unsure about my future.  It’s in these quiet moments that I gather my serenity and hold on to my faith.

How about you?

Where do you find your serenity?

What to helps inspire your creativity?

xxoo Gerri

A Surprising Walk

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So often it’s the little things that take place in our day to day existence that make life meaningful.  It’s in the sound of the wind rustling through the tall pines.  It’s in the beauty of the light and shadows as they play across the water.  It’s coming across a special surprise on an ordinary day.

It is no secret that I am a lover of gardens and nature.  I am so fortunate to live in a lovely area filled with gorgeous, tall oak and pine trees.  A favorite activity of mine ( if you can call it an activity ) is to sit on our back porch and listen to the wind as it whistles through the tall pines.

I also enjoy walking on the trails we have and visiting the pond. It fills me with peace and serenity to escape from my home for a bit each day and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.

This morning on my walk I had a lovely surprise!  As I was heading along the path, I came across this sweet friend just coming out of the forest!  You can imagine my delight when I saw him there.  I am tracking my steps so I now walk with my phone in hand ready to capture any special moments.  He was probably scared to death of me, but he did stay still long enough for me to get a couple of photos before he scurried back into the woods.  It made me feel so fortunate to have just a moment to observe him just a few feet away!

I hope you all take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy this beautiful day!  Take in the small details of nature that surrounds you and look for the joy and peace it has to offer.

xxoo Gerri

Remember Gratitude this Christmas

Well, we are closing in on the month of November and fast approaching the Christmas season.  I hope that you have found something inspiring in my series on Gratitude that has assisted you in relieving stress and combating anxiety in your own life.

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Speaking of stress,  remember to include gratitude as you enter the busiest season of the year.  It’s easy to allow yourself to get caught up in the shopping and gift giving, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.  I can feel the stress creeping up on me even as I write this!

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So, with that in mind, I am offering you a few tips to help reduce your stress and enjoy the Christmas season more than ever!

  1.  Let Go of Perfection.                                                                                                                            Make this holiday season about what is right for you and your family.  Stress can be created by the desire to create the “Perfect Christmas.”  However,  Christmas is not about perfection.  In fact, far from it.  There is no need to spend hours baking cookies for a cookie exchange if you detest baking!  Make Christmas about what  is important to you and your loved ones.  That may mean having an simple evening of popping popcorn, getting out the pillows and blankets, lighting a fire and watching old holiday movies with someone special to you.  ( Do you feel your stress level starting to come down already!)  However, if you love to bake, by all means go for it!  The point is to choose the right activity for you.
  2. Set Priorities.                                                                                                                                 Choose the special Christmas activities that are most important to you.  Traditions are great, but not every activity has to become a tradition.  Just because you made a gingerbread house with the kids last year, doesn’t mean it has to be done every year. It might be more fun and exciting to experience a new activity rather than repeating the same one over and over.  Maybe this year take the kids ice skating or have a caroling party. ( Do people still do that! ) The important thing is to what you will enjoy the most.
  3. Remember to Include Nature.                                                                                                   Step outside and breathe the fresh air.  Take a walk.  Take the dog for a walk.   Exercise.  Even a short amount of time spent in nature can help reduce stress and fight anxiety.  If it’s cold where you live, even a brief walk can be invigorating and boost your mood.
  4. Take a Break!                                                                                                                                     What do you like to do that relaxes you the most?  Listening to music.  Soaking in a hot tub. Getting a massage or a mani/pedi.  Having dinner with close friends or staying home and ordering take out.  Don’t forget to schedule time for whatever it is that relaxes you and that you enjoy most.
  5. Remember Gratitude!                                                                                                                       Yes, this is a busy and hectic time of year.  There is so much to be done!  But if you will pause for just a moment to be grateful for your blessings.  Maybe the greatest gift you could give this season is to remember to save thank you, to squeeze someones hand or to give them a hug.

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“It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”  This holiday season share your gratitude with those you love, and maybe even the stranger who is serving you coffee.  Gratitude – pass it on!  xx00 Gerri

The Importance of Gratitude

Do you ever like to wander back in time and think about how your life has changed over the past year?  Hopefully, when you do this, you discover that you’ve grown as a person and gained some wisdom from lessons learned.  This morning as I was reflecting on the changes in the past year, I was reminded of this post from a year ago.  I believe the words continue to ring true. 

A year ago I struggled as I knew I would soon be saying good bye to the person who had the greatest influence on my life, my sweet mother.  As I came to terms with letting her go,  I turned to my faith and remembered to be grateful for all of our wonderful times together.  I was reminded to never let go of the lessons she taught me and to hold close to the values that she carved into my heart as she gently molded my character and spirit.

So, in honor of my sweet mother, and as a reminder to myself of what she would expect of me, I am sharing this post on gratitude.  And once again I remind myself that as we enter the busiest season of the year, it’s not about the presents or the food or the beautifully set table that is important, but the brief time that we share with those who we hold dear.

Love you more, xxoo

 

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Time is simply flying by!  The lazy days of summer are long gone and as we turn the corner into November, I already feel the anticipation of the busy holiday season upon us.  With just three short weeks until Thanksgiving, I am already thinking about the menu and all things that need to be done before the big day!  My husband and I always host Thanksgiving dinner for our family.  We love opening our home to share with others and taking that day just to enjoy being with family and friends.

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However, before jumping into all the preparations that go with the big meal, I feel it’s important to slow down and remember the reason for the occasion.  As much as I love sharing this time with family and friends,  I have to first remember GRATITUDE for all the important things in my life.

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That may seem funny because of course I am most grateful for my family and I love having this time to spend time with them.  However, it is so easy to get caught up in the rush rush of the season.  If I forget to take the time to put GRATITUDE first in my heart, I will become overwhelmed by all that needs doing for the occasion, and the busyness will simply suck the joy right out of me.

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I have recently discovered Positively Present, the blog of author Dani Dipirro.  Here she shares her uplifting and inspirational thoughts.  Her blog has motivated me to participate in a month long photo challenge to focus on gratitude all month long.  For more info on the photo challenge visit her page.  I know you will find it as enticing as I have!

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Along with photos, I will be sharing my own thoughts on gratitude.  The first prompt was color, so today I am sharing some of the beautiful color that nature provides us.

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I am looking forward to a month filled with inspiration and excitement based on gratitude.  I hope you will join me in sharing your gratitude!

 

Grace and Peace to you my good friends!  xxoo Gerri