To Create Sunshine

Searching for beauty, peace and serenity in our world through nature, home and travel


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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


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The Beaches of Isla Mujeres

Imagine sitting on the beach and gazing off into the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I can’t think of anything more relaxing and tranquil than doing just that.

While visiting Isla Mujeres, an island across the the Bay of Mujeres from Cancun, I was fortunate to have several days of relaxing on the beach and soaking in the incredible soft hues of the amazingly clear and tranquil waters.

To Create Sunshine beach on Isla Mujeres

Not only is the water an amazing color of blue, the beaches are as pristine and white as you could hope to find.

To Create Sunshine beach on Isla Mujeres

There are a wide variety of beaches to visit around the island, all beautiful. We spent most of our time at Playa Norte, near downtown.  It was easy access for us, just a short five minute drive in our golf cart from our little casita.  It is also just a brief walk from the ferry if you are visiting the island for just the day.

We found during the week, if you go over on the side near Mia Reef Resort, you get less traffic from day visitors.  However, we did not cross the bridge to the Mia Reef Resort.  Although it appears to be a lovely all inclusive resort, it is rather costly for a day visit to their private beach.

To Ceate Sunshine Isla Mujeres

We chose to stay at the lovely Villa San Miguel.  After several years of resort vacations,  we wanted to experience a more authentic feel for staying on the island.   So often when you are in a resort, it is so lovely and relaxing you just stay in the resort.  Not that there is anything wrong with that!  However, our goal for this trip was to get out and experience what it might be like if we were to purchase property on the island.

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We enjoyed zooming around the island in our rented golf cart, and we actually visited the local grocery stores and made our own breakfast each day! ( My husband is a fabulous cook!)  We had hoped to try grilling some fresh fish at our little casita, however, we found the grounds did not provide a grill for us to use.

Renting our golf cart allowed us to explore the island extensively.  The lee side of the island, facing a view of Cancun, has numerous beautiful, sandy beaches.  The east side of the island, facing the Caribbean, is more rocky, but beautiful to gaze upon.  Many gorgeous private homes are on this side of the island.

Breathtaking views can be found at the southern tip of the island.  Here lies the home of Punta Sur and Garrafon Reef Park.  To get there, you must take a taxi or rent a golf cart, but it is well worth the brief journey!  Punta Sur hosts beautiful and unique rocky cliff formations.  For a small fee you may enter the sculpture garden which entry to this allows you a closer views of the rocky cliffs and Cancun across the bay.

To Create Sunshine Isla Mujeres

View of Cancun from Isla Mujeres

If you do make the drive to visit Punta Sur, I highly recommend taking the easterly road back to town.  You get to see the many beautiful villas and the views are amazing!

If you are seeking natural beauty in a peaceful, casual, slower paced island setting, Isla Mujeres should be on your list!  Whether you choose one of the fabulous all-inclusive hotels or choose a quaint villa for your stay, I do not think the Island of Women will disappoint!

Wishing you safe travels wherever you go – xxoo- Gerri

*Original photos by To Create Sunshine – For more photos of the beautiful Isla Mujeres and other amazing places you may follow me on Instagram @tocreatesunshine

 

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From Tranquil Beaches to Majestic Mountains

The month of May has been an absolute whirlwind of travel! It began on the lovely Island of Isla Mujeres with it’s pristine beaches and turquoise waters. I then traveled to a family wedding in Columbus, Ohio and was amazed by the rolling hills and green, vibrant countryside filled with quaint farmhouses and picturesque flower gardens. Finally, I completed the month with a visit to the magnificent Rocky Mountains and Estes Park.

To Create Sunshine Estes Park, Colorado

View of Longs Peak from Estes Park, Colorado.

I am left with amazement and awe for the beauty that surrounds us in our world, and I was thinking, wouldn’t our world be a little better if we could all just stop to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us.  I know it is difficult or even impossible to drop everything and travel to the beach or the mountains.  However,  we can all take a few minutes of each day to step outside and enjoy the outdoors.  Spending time enjoying nature relieves the stress and anxiety that builds in us from dealing with our everyday tasks.

When I’m home and busy,  I try to at least take a walk everyday or spend some time in the garden just relaxing and watching the birds and squirrels romp around.  Taking time to enjoy nature can improve your outlook on life and relieve stress and anxiety.  And it doesn’t cost a penny to open your front door and walk outside to breathe in the fresh air!

I feel totally and completely blessed to have been able to see so much and have so many varied experiences in such a brief amount of time.  I will be back soon to share photos and more about my travels.  Until then,  you can find me relaxing in my back garden taking in the beauty of my own simple surroundings.

To Create Sunshine backyard garden

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

xxoo Ciao  –  Gerri


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The Hills of Tapatio Springs

If you are a lover of rustic charm found in nature, the Texas Hill Country is the place to go.  A few years ago my brother-in-law and his lovely wife moved into the exquisite resort community of Tapatio Springs.  This was a double blessing for my husband and me because not only do we get to visit with them more often, it gives us more opportunity to explore one of our favorite regions in Texas.

To Create Sunshine Tapation Springs, Texas

Tapatio Springs hosts the perfect mix of Texas nature with deluxe resort.  This awe inspiring golfing community is nestled in the heart of the hill country, just outside the charming town of Boerne.  I have to tell you the brief ten minute drive on Johns Road from I-10 to get to Tapatio Springs is just as sweet and charming as the lovely community itself.  Once you exit I-10, the road twists and winds through the rustic and hilly countryside that gives the area it’s name.  As you drive be sure to keep your eyes open for deer, sheep, goats and various other wildlife you might see as you drive.

As you take one last turn around the bend at the top of the hill you get your first breathtaking view of Tapatio Springs. The resort was bought several years ago by the country/western singer George Strait and a group of investors and they have been making improvements to the resort ever since.  The 18 hole golf course has recently been renovated by architect Tripp Davis and Associates and features an amazing panoramic view of the rolling Texas hills that surround the golf course.

I’m honestly not much of a golfer, but I do enjoy riding in the cart and taking in the beauty of the surroundings. I also enjoy photography so this seemed the perfect opportunity to practice my amateur photography skills while Dear Husband practiced his amateur golfing skills.

To Create Sunshine Tapatio Springs, Texas Hill Country

View from the golf course of Tapatio Springs.

As you tour the golf course, you get an amazing view of not only some of the highest hills of the area, but also some of the beautiful homes surrounding the golf course.

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The 18 hole golf course offers a spectacular venue and is filled with auspicious live oak trees, rolling terrain and abundant with water features.  This serene Hill Country Resort offers both a photographers and a golfers delight!

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As always, when it’s time to pack up and return to our busy lives in the city, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have spent some relaxed time in the serene beauty of the Texas Hill Country!

Until Next Time – xxoo- Gerri


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Rustic Charm in the Texas Hill Country

I know that there are many places of awe inspiring beauty in the world. Colorado has the most majestic mountains I’ve ever seen.  I am enthralled by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I have been astounded by the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii.  Thailand fascinated me with it’s exotic culture and charming people. I long to visit and see more of these amazing places.  However unique and fascinating those places are, they are far from my home.

So, when I need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, I escape to the Texas Hill Country. My husband and I load up the Tahoe, along with our schnauzer, Bear, and head west until the flat lands gradually turn into rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees.  Nestled between San Antonio and Austin and encompassing 25 counties, the Texas Hill Country boasts of a rustic charm filled with a a rich Texas history, charming architecture, and a natural beauty that soothes my soul and brings me peace and serenity.

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I have to admit, the weather was less than desirable the weekend of our last visit. After our arrival the fog and rain set in, and temperatures dropped into the 30’s.  No worries though.  We loved being there no matter what the weather.

The Texas Hill Country is known for it’s numerous small town venues, restaurants and antique shops all filled with quaint, rustic charm.  One of our favorite hidden gems is the Welfare Cafe. Located off IH-10, between Boerne and Comfort, the Welfare Cafe is an out of the way kind of place that is not too be missed.

The Welfare Cafe began as a General Store way back in early Texas history opening around 1848.  The local post office was later established in 1880 inside the General Store.  Welfare became a railroad shipping point and the small town thrived. By 1892, the town of Welfare consisted of a whopping 275 residents, along with a schoolhouse, saloon, hotel and cotton gin.

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In 1916, the original general store and post office burned down, but was rebuilt that same year.  As time passed, the small towns population dwindled and bad times haunted the small community.  The boll weevils destroyed the cotton crops, and of course there was the  great depression.  The population dropped to a mere 25 residents.  Through it all, the post office and general store continued to be an important meeting place for the community.  A place to collect your mail and exchange stories, borrow books and talk about the weather. Over time as the population of the small town dwindled,  the local school closed and the few students  that still lived in Welfare would take the bus to the school in Comfort.  At the end of the day the bus would drop them off at, where else, but the general store.  In 1966, the trained stopped running past Welfare and it wasn’t long after that the post office closed, followed by the general store in 1978.

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Today, the fascinating history of the small community of Welfare is being revitalized by Gabriele McCormick and her husband David.  In the early nineties, Gabriele and David were looking for a change from corporate life in the city and fell in love with the charm of the hill country,  as so many of us do.  They purchased the general store, post office, and various barns on about 150 acres.  Slowly, they began to restore the old buildings and began the transformation to what we now enjoy as the Welfare Cafe.  The restaurant has thrived, and over the years, Gabby and David have continued to make improvements on the land.

In 2005, the Goat Barn was built using reclaimed wood from the original barn.  There is now an intimate wine bar in the loft. The Welfare Cafe frequently offers special events and is the perfect venue for a rustic, but charming hill country wedding.

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As mentioned previously, the weather was dreary the day we visited and the charming, rustic gardens were showing the effects of the recent freeze.  I have to admit, I enjoy wandering the grounds almost as much as I enjoy the fabulous cuisine which has a touch of German influence.  The day we were there, we enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch complete with German sausage and strudel, croissants, an assortment of fresh fruits and cheeses, quiche, pancakes and so much more.  Of course, what Sunday brunch is not complete without Mimosas!

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The Welfare Cafe is a delightfully charming venue filled with nostalgia and relics from the past.  This is a delightful spot for a lovely lunch or dinner.  Be sure to check out their website and calendar for special events.  They offer special holiday celebrations and often have live entertainment.

The charms of the Texas Hill Country are endless.  If I had my way, I would spend my days wandering the many small towns and visiting all the lovely shops, restaurants, historical sites, and possibly a winery or two.

I hope that someday you have a chance to visit the Texas Hill Country and explore the many fascinating venues that the area has to offer.

“Texas is a State of Mind.”  –  John Steinbeck

xxoo – Gerri

* I would love to hear a comment from you have visited or plan to visit the Texas Hill Country or the Welfare Cafe and Goat Barn.

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Gratitude for the Beauty of Nature

After an amazing week in Colorado enjoying the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, I would be remiss in not expressing my gratitude for the beauty of the world that we are surrounded by.

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Nature is truly one of our greatest gifts and patiently waits upon us to step outside and experience all that she has to offer us.  Spending time in nature often reduces anxiety and stress.  Sharing gratitude for nature cam replace those feelings of anxiety with calm, peace, and serenity.  Perhaps some of us should try this technique for relieving stress!

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The amazing thing is that you don’t have to venture to the glorious peaks of the Rocky Mountains to enjoy the beauty of nature.  Natures beauty can be enjoyed by simply opening the door and stepping outside.  Take a deep breath.  Stop for a moment and listen to the sounds of nature.  What do you hear? Hopefully the wind rustling the leaves on the trees.  Maybe birds chirping.  Enjoying nature can provide some very positive effects for us.  Taking a moment to express gratitude for nature benefits our bodies and our minds.

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Whenever the world gets me down. I retreat to a green space to nurture myself back to the peaceful place where I long for my mind to stay.  Being outside not only offers me peace and serenity from a hectic world, it restores my zest for life.  After a time outside,  I’m renewed and ready to move on and face whatever challenges lie ahead.

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I can’t always get out of the city, but I am fortunate to live in an area where I take a walk, go to a park, or simply retreat to my own backyard where I can spend time relaxing and enjoy watching the tall pines swaying in the breeze.

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If the world is getting you down today, try to take some time and step outside for a moment to express your gratitude for the wonders of nature!

I promise you will feel so much better! xxoo Gerri

                   “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand                                 everything better.” – Albert Einstein