Anticipating Fall

The time has come to say goodbye to the long, lazy days of summer as we welcome in the coming of fall.  With this change there is definitely an air of excitement and anticipation.   You would think there might be some sadness as the lingering days of summer disappear into fall.  After all, summer is often a time of frolic and play.  But mostly I’ve observed eager anticipation for the change of seasons.

With the coming of fall we say so long to shorts and flip flops as we eagerly don jeans, boots, and sweaters.  Stores are filling their shelves with new fall decor and coffee shops are calling us to come try a pumpkin spice latte.  The beauty of the season is magnificent as the leaves transform from vibrant greens to the cozy red, orange and golds of fall.  As the days grow shorter and the air becomes chillier we anticipate quiet evenings by the fire with a warm blanket and hot cocoa. 

Autumn comes late to Texas, especially here in Cypress. It stays pretty green here until about mid November when a few of the leaves show a glimmer of color for a brief moment before falling from the trees. But even here, the subtle change of fall is in the air as the heat of summer gradually melts into the cooler days.  There is a noticeable difference in the coolness of the  morning and the evenings feel fresh and alive.  With the cooling temperatures, people have emerged from the comfort of air conditioned homes to take in the beauty of the season and enjoy walking, bike riding, and visiting with neighbors.    

Fall in Texas is like no other season.  Along with slightly cooler temperatures, festival season is right around the corner and soon each church will be filled with their own welcoming pumpkin patch.  A favorite fall activity is to attend one of the many festivals occurring either in the city or in one of the many small towns close to Cypress.  If you are a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV television show Fixer Upper, you may have heard Joanna mention the Round Top Antiques Fair that will be open for the next two weeks.  Literally miles of shopping with everything from fine antiques to flea market finds.  

Other popular festivals include Scarecrow Festival in Chapel Hill which benefits the preservation of history and historic buildings in the area.  This event takes place Oct. 14-15 and features gardening, artists, craftsmen, delicious food, live entertainment and activities for the children.  There is no charge for this event other than $5 for parking and is just a short drive outside of Houston.

On that same weekend and one of my personal favorites is the Bayou City Art Festival featuring a wealth of artists from around the country and benefits numerous nonprofit partners.  This event takes place right in the heart of downtown Houston surrounding City Hall and Herman Square.  Tickets are $15 and $5 for children ( children under 5 are free).  

Whatever your plans are for the coming month, I hope you take the opportunity get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.   xxoo Gerri

 

 

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Hurricane Harvey – A Cypress View

I’m sure many of you have seen the news of Hurricane Harvey hitting the Texas coast and the destruction that followed.  As I write this we are into Day 2 of this catastrophe.  I live in Cypress, a suburban neighborhood northwest of Houston, and we are very fortunate here.  Although there has been what feels like an endless amount of rainfall and some flooding in the neighborhood, our street is draining and we are safe.  

 

Hurricane Harvey, Cypress, Texas

However, other Houston residents have not been so fortunate.  In a metropolitan area of six million plus residents, the city is at a stand still.  Businesses are closed.  The buses aren’t running. Schools are cancelled until after Labor Day.  Our church even cancelled services this morning because city officials have asked for everyone to just stay home!  And the worst is that many people are stranded in their homes and neighborhoods and can’t get out!  They are frightened which is understandable.  The streets are flooded and impassable.  The rainfall is hard and constant.  It is as if bucket fulls of water are being continuously poured on this city.  Yes, we get little breaks in the rain, but it is not a long enough time for the streets to drain before they start filling up again.

 

The miracle in all this is how the city residents are coming together.  People helping people.  Not just first responders and rescue teams.  People that own boats are out there offering to assist those in need.  There are no haters.  Just good people coming together to help in anyway they can.

 

Hurricane Harvey in Cypress, Texas

Some have criticized the news media for their hype.  However, I applaud the news media and our city officials.  How do you plan to keep an area of six million plus people safe from wide spread unprecedented flooding?  They asked people to stay home.  They warned people repeatedly of the dangers of driving into flood waters.  You get the word out about the possible dangers and worst case scenarios.  Many people are new to our city and have no idea what a hurricane and Houston streets can be like.  

 

There has been loss of life and I fear for what will be discovered as the days go on….and yet the rain continues.

 

Hurricane Harvey in Cypress, Texas

 

How you can help Hurricane Harvey Victims

American Red Cross  – call 1-800-red cross or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a donation

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services – call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to help

Catholic Charities USA – they have set up a website devoted to Harvey relief

Austin Pets Alive!– they have created a page on their website specific to Hurricane Harvey needs

 

**sources via abcnews.go.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Peaceful Banks of the Medina River

August is upon us, often known as the dog days of summer.  In the southern United Stares, August can be uncomfortably warm with relentless heat and humidity.  Southerners are growing ever so tired of the heat and yearning for the slightly cooler temperatures of fall.

The best place to spend these warm summer days is at the beach or the lake…. or at least in a cool refreshing swimming pool.  Another option is to visit one of the many rivers that wind through the Texas Hill Country. The water can be quite chilly and many rivers offer the cool relief of tubing or rafting.

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While we didn’t get away to the beach or lake last weekend, we did stumble across this pretty spot on the Medina River near Bandera.  It was peaceful and quiet, the perfect spot to take a moment to relax and take in the quiet beauty of the river banks.  Huge Cypress trees lined the banks offering plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun.  Actually, we were quite lucky that the recent rains had brought cooler temperatures, a huge improvement to the mid nineties of most August days. 

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I couldn’t get over the amount of birds that were wondering the banks and frolicking in the water.  I did a little research and to the best of my knowledge they were Graylag and Swan Geese with a few Muscovy Ducks mixed in.  (Thank you RH for your assistance on this!)  I went crazy trying to capture as many photos as I could of these amazing creatures.  

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We came to the river after having a late breakfast in Bandera, also known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”  Why it’s called that I’m not really sure, but I did find some hard to resist western boots in one of the local shops.  Another interesting tidbit about Bandera is that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie visited Bandera while taping their reality show The Simple Life.  If you happen to be a country music fan, Bandera was once called home to country musician Robert Earl Keen

 

We stopped for breadfast at the OST Restaurant in downtown Bandera.  O.S.T. stands for Old Spanish Trail, a route that was designated to improve highway access back in 1915.  The OST Restaurant opened in 1921 and today is one of the last original restaurants along the route.  It features a John Wayne room which features, of course, a plethora of John Wayne memorabilia.

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No trip to Bandera is complete without visiting the General Store.  If you want to experience a bit of Texas history, this is the place to be.  The store is filled with local treasures and there is even an authentic 1950’s ice cream fountain.  we did not sample the ice cream as we had just finished breakfast, but I’m sure it would be a delight!

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Overall, I really enjoyed out quick trip to Bandera, Texas and the Medina River.  Bandera is filled with a rich Texas history and left me with a desire to return and explore a little more. As they say in Bandera…..

When Life Gets Tough,

Cowboy Up…..

Maybe next trip, I’ll wear my boots! – 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

 

 

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

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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