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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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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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

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

Gratitude for My Home

If nature is my happy place, then home is my sanctuary!

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On Sunday, temperatures dropped to a chilly 37 degrees.  Since we hadn’t turned the heat on in the house, it was a bit cool inside when we first awoke.  Although it turned out to a be a simply gorgeous day with the sun shining bright, we did light the fire to help take the chill  out of the house.  Our first fire of the season.

There is something about having a fire going that makes you just want to relax and stay close.  We kept the fire going all day, not because it was terribly cold outside, but because it was so nice to have the cozy ambiance of the fire going again. We didn’t leave the house at all, except to walk the dogs of course.  That’s an event that can’t be missed or our schnauzer will definitely let us know about it!

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To me, these are the best kind of days.  The weather was cool, but gorgeous. We puttered around the house, I cooked! and my son stopped by for dinner.  It was a great day to shut out the rest of the world and simply enjoy being at home together.

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These kind of days remind me of why my home is so special to me.  I need that break from the real world to relax and spend time with the people who are most important to me. My home is not a place of grandeur with everything in it’s place, although I do try to keep it tidy.  It ‘s a cozy place to gather with family and friends, to share a meal and conversation, and on a chilly day we can gather around the fire.

This week we will be hosting Thanksgiving in our home.  We will be breaking bread with a collection of family and friends, some that we have known forever,  some that we have yet to meet.  It will not be a quiet day, but a day filled with joy and laughter, sharing and relishing the time we have to spend together.

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In a world filled with stress and negativity, I’m grateful to have the sanctuary of my home to retreat to.  It gives me a place to slow down and savor a quiet day with just my husband. On other days we open our home to share with others and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this.

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It’s easy to allow the stress and negativity to take over your life.  However if you stop and pause and allow yourself to embrace gratitude for your blessings, it does help to relieve the stress and anxiety that we all face in our everyday lives.

I’m wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving and hope that you will face the day with gratitude in you hearts!  xxoo Gerri

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

Gratitude for My Country

Today, in America, we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to honor all men and women who have served in the armed forces to fight for and protect this great country.  Where I live, elementary schools are having parades and celebrations to honor our veterans.  Each class has made flags or banners to decorate the halls for the parade.  American flags are lined along the drive to welcome our veterans to the school.  A special breakfast will be held in honor of the veterans.  The students are excited to have mothers, fathers, and grandparents come to school to be honored in the celebration!

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It is somewhat ironic that this day of honor and celebration comes on the heals of one of the most controversial presidential elections that I can remember.  Sadly, even though the election is over, the controversy continues.

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Have we forgotten how fortunate we are that we live in a democracy where we have the right to choose our elected officials?  What kind of a message are we sending to these young students who look up to us and our example?

It is time for us to put our differences aside and come together and share our gratitude for the freedom that we too often take for granted and to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifices.  Let us remember today and everyday what a great nation we live in and let us UNITE and give thanks for our great country we live in.

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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