A Magical Morning

It’s a rarity to have snow in Cypress, and when it happens it’s beautiful and amazing no matter how quickly it passes. 

It was around midnight when I peered out my front window on the night of the great snow.  I was mesmerized by the beauty of the falling flakes.  When I realized the snow was actually sticking to the ground, I grabbed my jacket and boots to step outside my home to capture a few images while I could.  I knew the magical white covering wouldn’t last for long, and wasn’t sure if it would still be there when I awoke in the morning.

 

 

All night long I awoke every couple of hours to see if the snow was still there.  The next morning I was thrilled to see the snow still on the ground.  Again, I donned my boots and jacket and immediately headed to the pond to be amazed by the beauty.  No coffee needed this morning, as I was so excited to see the snow.  

The brief walk to the pond was amazing as the snow clung to the trees, bushes and rooftops.  Perhaps a half an inch of snow left a beautiful white blanket on the lawns. 

 

 

When I arrived at the pond, the beauty did not disappoint.  Although there was not much snow on the ground, the trees were resplendent with white.  The mix of fall colors with the new fallen snow made the scene all the more glorious. 

 However, even as I walked around trying to capture every bit of the sublime beauty, the snow was dropping from the branches of the trees.  I knew it would not last for long.

 

 

By the end of the day, there were only sparse lingering patches of snow on a few rooftop corners that hadn’t gotten much sun on this heavenly day.  As quickly as it appeared, the snow faded away leaving only a hope that perhaps if conditions are just right it will come again sometime.

In a year of catastrophic hurricanes, devastating fires, and destructive earthquakes God has graced us with a brief moment of wondrous beauty of nature.  It’s fleeting passing reminds us to savor each precious moment of it’s glory.  

As the resplendent colors of fall fade into the often dreariness of winter days, there is still beauty to be found in a bright, clear day filled with sunlight, or the beads of ice on shrubs and branches that glimmer like crystal.

If you truly love Nature, you’ll find beauty everywhere.

 – Vincent Van Gogh

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The Spirit of Holiday Entertaining

With the holiday season upon us, many are planning special celebrations with family and friends.  Opening your home to share with others is one of the great joys of the season.  However, with so much to do this time of year, sometimes big celebrations can create stress. 

When planning your holiday party, it’s important to minimize the stress so that you can truly enjoy your guest.  You don’t want to run yourself ragged and feel frantic rather than fantastic!  When hosting a holiday celebrations, your spirit will set the mood for a successful celebration.

With these thoughts in mind, today I am sharing ideas that I like to keep in mind when I open my home to share with my family and friends. My hope is that these thoughts will allow you to approach your holiday entertaining with joy and avoid some of the stress that can be overwhelming this time of year. 

  1.  Let Go of Perfection  –   Setting yourself up for perfection will do nothing but create anxiety and stress.  Instead of worrying about creating the “perfect party”, concentrate on the comfort of your guest.  When you put the focus on doing for others, you think less about yourself.  Nothing is more welcoming than a hostess who really cares about the comfort of her guest. 
  2. Set Your Priorities  – Remember often less is more.  Plan for what you know you can handle with grace and ease.  Stick with what you know and are comfortable with.  No need to have a multi-course meal.  Plan a few amazing appetizers instead.  Serving buffet style is simpler than a sit down affair.  Keep it casual and fun!
  3.  Make a list and check it twice!  –  Planning is a key ingredient to successful entertaining.  Begin planning your party preparations as soon as possible.  Try making a manageable daily schedule assigning yourself a small task for each day.  Begin with decorations and nonperishable items that are easy to stock and purchase in advance.  Order items on-line whenever possible to save time.  Shop for grocery items a few days in advance and plan to prepare a few items the night before.  Even better, prepare a few dished you can freeze in advance.   
  4. Delegate Whenever Possible  –  Don’t feel like you have to do every little thing on your own.  Enlist a good friend or your spouse to help.  Consider ordering desserts from a bakery or appetizers from your grocer.  Do not feel like you have to prepare all food items from scratch!
  5. Plan a Beverage Station  –  Consider serving a premixed beverage for your guest like a Sangria or Champagne Punch.  Have these drinks in containers in the frig and ready to go.  Set out glasses and and ice bucket in a convenient location and have guest serve themselves.
  6. Be Ready!  –  Prepare the table and all the decorations the night before.  You can even do fresh flower arrangements a day or two in advance.  Nothing says “Welcome to my home” like having simple fresh flowers and candles burning filling your home with delightful aromas.
  7. Make a time schedule  –  The day of the party, make a time schedule for whatever tasks need to be completed.  Make sure in your schedule you allow yourself some time to relax and refresh!
  8. Relax and Enjoy!  –  Greet your guest with a smile and a hug!  Remember to put the focus on their comfort and enjoy!

True hospitality consists of giving the best of

yourself to your guest.  

–    Eleanor Roosevelt

Wishing you all great joy this holiday season!   –  xxoo Gerri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown to Cozy

While many places in the world are bracing for winter’s chill, in Texas we are just beginning to see subtle changes that some might call fall!  With the recent time change,  darkness descends upon us by six o’clock.  The recent cool front as encouraged my sweet husband to light a fire to take the chill off the house.  With soft, jazz playing in the background the atmosphere is definitely cozy.  The cooler temperatures have inspired me to make some homemade vegetable soup.  It has been simmering on the stove all day and the smells wafting from the kitchen are delightful.  As evening approaches I plan to light some scented candles to complete the cozy setting.  

Gray skies and cooler temperatures definitely inspire cozier times at home.  It’s the time of year to enjoy a crackling fire, grab some comfy pillows, a warm blanket and curl up with a great book. Or perhaps you prefer to spend your evenings snuggled up to someone special and watch a favorite movie together.

I’ve always found the cooler, winter season an excellent time to slow down the busy pace of life and recharge my battery.  The darker days encourage me to “just stay home”  and enjoy a cozy atmosphere, and even crawl in bed a little earlier than usual to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation.

I’m sure that come spring I will be anxious to leave the cooler days behind and enjoy soaking up the warmer rays of the summer sun, but for now,  I am content to light candles and curl up in blankets and enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with this time of year.

So Surround Yourself with Pillows and Blankets and Enjoy the Cozy Days Ahead!

Stay Warm and Cozy – xxoo Gerri

 

Chacchoben Ruins, Costa Maya

If you are a lover of nature and history, the Chacchoben Ruins are surely not to be missed!  Located about 100 miles from the Costa Maya port, south of Cozamel,  these three excavated pyramids are surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle filled with an amazing variety of trees and plants.

You can follow a well maintained circular path that leads you to these ancient structures, while a guide gives you a wealth of information about the Mayans ancient religion and customs.  You cannot climb the pyramids, but there are stairs to climb to a raised area with a very impressive view of the area below.

Truly, I was as fascinated by the beauty of the massive trees and lush jungle as I was by the ancient pyramids.  The Spanish moss and Palm trees not only offer inviting shade, but also enhance the majesty of the pyramids.  The combination of nature and history creates an awe inspiring harmony that leads you to imagine what life would have been like for the Mayan civilization of so long ago.  

I think I would have been content to just wonder the path and relish in the magnificence of this amazing, tropical, jungle.  I am not aware of the age of some of these trees, but by the size of the trunks, I would think they had been there quite awhile.

If you choose to visit these amazing ruins, remember you are in a jungle and you might want some bug repellent for the mosquitoes.  There is some walking involved, and I think it would be rather warm and humid in the heat of summer.   Our visit was in October, and while there were a few mosquitoes, I found the weather to be fairly comfortable.  

Being an avid nature lover, history buff and photography fan, this magnificent archeological site turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.  

“Wherever you go, Go with all your heart.”   –   Confucius

Hope you all have the opportunity to satisfy an adventurous spirit.  –  xxoo Gerri

 

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

 

 

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.

 

 

Liebster Award

 Thank you to The Robin’s Nest for nominating me for a Liebster Award!  If you are not familiar with Robin’s blog, I suggest you stop by for a visit.  She shares lovely and encouraging posts about life in general.

The Liebster Award is a virtual award passed from blogger to blogger to show support and to help promote fellow bloggers.  Who doesn’t need a little support and encouragement now and then!

Here are the rules!

Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.

Answer the 11 questions the person asked you.

Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog and let them know)

Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions.

Here are my questions from The Robin’s Nest:

Why do you blog?

  • Blogging gives me a creative outlet for writing, photography, and self-expression.

What are your top 3 traveling destinations and why?

  • I would like to go to Europe, Nova Scotia, and South America.  I hope to see as much of the world, it’s beauty and it’s cultures while I can.

If you were granted 3 wishes what would they be?

  • World peace, an end to cancer, and that all children have a safe and loving environment to grow up in.

If you could go back in time to your younger self, what advise would you give?

  • Stay calm in all situations.

What is your favorite food/cuisine?

  • I prefer fresh fruits and vegetables….and a little bit of chocolate!

What country/culture inspires you the most?

  • Umm… I think mabe the French for their artistry and creativity.

What are you passionate about?

  • My family, art, creativity, and travel.

What is your biggest weekness?

  • Procrastination.

What is your favorite movie or book?

  • It’s hard to limit myself on favorite books.  I’m going to go with The Nightengale  by Kristen Hannah.

If you could change something in the world, what would it be?

  • I would like to see hatred be replaced with love and understanding.

What is your favorite pass-time hobby?

  • Just one!   Reading, writing, photography, painting, traveling, spending time with my husband and family, laughing……

And now….the nominees are….

  1.  Rainy Day Reflections
  2.  Design and Style Report
  3.  Sixteen Miles Out
  4.  Linneaurea
  5. Guadalupe Cedars
  6.  Oregon Girl Around The World
  7.  Typewriter Girl
  8.  Reviving Charm
  9.  KHK Designs Interiors
  10.  AngelineM’s Blog
  11.  Rambling in the Garden

These are all beautiful and inspirational blogs!  I hope you will drop by and visit them!

Now, if you accept the challenge, these are your questions!

  1.   What is your favorite part of blogging?
  2.   What country, city, or continent would you most like to visit and why?
  3.   What was the most inspirational time in you life so far?
  4.   What are you most passionate about?
  5.   What is your favorite book and why?
  6.   What is your favorite time of year?
  7.   What are other interest you have besides blogging?
  8.   Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
  9.   Where did you go for your most memorable vacation?
  10.   Do you prefer a sunny or rainy day?
  11.   If you had a day all to yourself, how would you spend it?

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the challenge and make a new friend!  xxoo Gerri

A Rainy Summer Day

As I look at the sky, I notice the gathering of dark water-laden storm clouds and wonder will we actually get some rain.  A bit later, I hear the patter of gentle raindrops as they slowly begin to fall.  The thunder rolls and the lightning strikes….. and, it has begun! A much awaited summer storm!

I know we equate summer days with lounging by the pool, relaxing at the beach, or perhaps a backyard barbeque. But one of my favorite summer events is when the rain begins to fall!

With summer temperatures rising into the nineties, and the blazing summer sun beating down with brutal strength,  the summer rain brings as much excitement to me as the first cool autumn breezes blowing in.

I embrace the summer rain much as I would a winter storm.  A chance to power down, choose a good book, grab a cuppa tea and hide from the world.  Believe it or not, I even have a favorite blanket (more for comfort than for warmth) that I pull out as I escape to a quiet corner with my awaiting summer read.  There I immerse myself in whatever novel has recently piqued my interest as I know the rain is continuing to fall just outside my window.

I don’t always read during a summer rain.  Sometimes I take cover on the back porch and luxuriate at the musical sound of the raindrops pounding the roof.  I have to position my chair just so under the breezeway as not to be splattered by the rain falling on either side of me.  From this vantage point I can watch the thirsty plants gobble up the falling drops.  It’s as if I can hear them chanting to the sky, “Thank you so much for this magnificent rainfall!”

Eventually, the rain will pass and the sun will come out again.  The temperatures will again rise and I will do my best to hide from the midday sun.

But until then, I will enjoy this refreshing break from summer’s heat with this delightful summer rain.

 

What do you like to do in a summer rain?

Have a lovely summer day! – Gerri