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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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

 

 

From Farm to Market Fresh

Is there anything more exhilarating than visiting a farmers market to start off your day!

 

 This may be a bit of an overstatement, but I do enjoy waking up and hitting the farmers market early in the day.  I love the bright colors of the delicious produce, the aroma of the spices, and the enchantment of visiting a fresh produce market as if we were far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

 

My favorite farmers market to visit is Canino Produce, a family owned business operating in near downtown Houston since 1958.  Canino Produce is a favorite spot for local chefs to purchase the freshest of produce.  Behind Canino’s is a wealth of open air produce stalls selling their wares flea market style.  Along with fresh produce, you can purchase nuts, beans, spices, herbs, plants, Mexican pottery, cooking utensils, and more.  Visiting the open air part of the market feels a bit like stepping into little Mexico.  It makes shopping feel like more of an event than an errand.  

 

It’s a bit of a trek into the city from Cypress to visit this market, but it is so worth the journey!  The produce that’s sold at the farmers market taste so much better than our local chain grocery store.  It’s so much fresher and I quickly found that it stays fresher longer than our grocery store produce.  Since most of the food is grown from local farms across Texas, not only are we getting fresher, better tasting produce, we are supporting local farmers, and cutting back on energy costs to ship food from all parts of the country!

There is word on the street there are changes to come.  Some investors are planning on expanding the market bringing in more food services, fresh coffee vendors, a flower market, possibly cheeses…..I believe the idea is to make it something like the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle.  I look forward to these changes with eager anticipation mixed with apprehension.  Perhaps it’s time for a change.  It will certainly bring more people to the market, along with more traffic, more tourist….  However, there is another part of me that feels like I will miss the quaintness of this market if these changes occur.  

I had the opportunity to visit Pike Place Market a few years ago and it was fabulous!  It was exciting to stroll through the many vendor sites, enjoy the tasty treats, and of course visit the amazing Pike Place Fish Market.  The fishmongers throw the fish around that have been recently purchased and a crowd gathers quickly to see!  It is definitely a place not to miss if visiting Seattle!

Where ever you live, if you are not in the habit of shopping your local farmers market I encourage you to try.  Along with the obvious reasons of fresher produce, better taste and a greater variety, you’re supporting your local farmer who is struggling in today’s global economy.  

Why buy produce from a chain grocery store that’s traveled an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate, when your local farmer has fresh produce that is fresher, better tasty and more nutritious.  Not only is the food better for you, it’s fun to shop your local farmer’s market, visit with the vendors, and connect with your community.

Oh, and by the way,  I visited Canino’s Produce last Thursday and I’m pleased to report it is doing well and thriving after the rains of Hurricane Harvey!  Unfortunately, many in southeast Texas continue to struggle to get their lives back to normal after flooding and my heart is with them.  Today, I’m also praying for the state of Florida as Irma is barreling down on that the beautiful sunshine state. 

Thank you so much to all of you for your tremendously kind comments and prayers for Texas.  I hope wherever you are today, you are safe and the sun is shining down on you.  xxoo – Gerri

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

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.

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“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