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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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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

Estes Park Beauty

After being home in Cypress for two weeks, I am still reveling in the delight and memory of our Rocky Mountain getaway.  Today I am sharing photos with you from the town of Estes Park.

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Estes Park is nestled at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park and is surrounded by the most auspicious views everywhere you turn.  Mountain Peaks rising around you range in height from 8500 feet to 14,000 feet.  Mix this backdrop with the beauty of changing fall colors and you have a recipe for beauty that is hard to beat.  The town hosts numerous cabins, condos and hotels all sharing amazing views of the glorious Rocky Mountains.

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Estes Park offers an abundance of shops, galleries, boutiques and restaurants to enjoy during your visit.  Main Street has a small town atmosphere where you can enjoy the beauty of the Riverwalk while browsing the many shops and local artists galleries. You can even throw a line in and try your hand at fly fishing.

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One of our favorite dining spots while visiting Estes Park was Ed’s Cantina and Grill. Although we had a bit of a wait ( they do take reservations ) the food did not disappoint. The menu is diverse and flavorful with plenty of fresh ingredients featuring items such as Squash Stuffed Poblano Chile and Bison Tacos. My personal favorites included the Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas and the Veggie Taco Salad. The diversity of the menu satisfied both the vegans and carnivores traveling in our group.

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When you step outside the backdoor of Ed’s Cantina, you are greeted by the surprising beauty of the riverwalk that meanders through the town.   Here you can enjoy a stroll or simply sit and take in the peaceful beauty of the river.  Many restaurants offer outdoor seating to take in the glory while you dine.

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I have been fortunate to visit the wonders of Colorado a few times.  Each time it has left me in a state of awe and wonder at it’s incredible beauty.  There is so much more to see and experience in this great state that I look forward to hopefully many more trips!

Hope you are enjoying the beauty that surrounds you                                     where ever you may be today!

xxoo  Gerri

 

Rocky Mountain High!

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As an elementary art teacher, I rarely have the opportunity to travel in the fall. But when our dear friend’s daughter announced her wedding would be in Estes Park, Colorado, my husband and I jumped at the chance to share their special day and to visit beautiful Colorado in the fall!

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From the moment we headed north on Highway 25 from Denver to Estes Park, the astounding beauty of Colorado  began to fill my soul with a peace and serenity that is often difficult to find.  The beauty of the fall colors mixed with the Rocky Mountain backdrop was everything and more that I had hoped to see.

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Our friends recently bought an amazing cabin ( really it’s a beautiful home ) just at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The views from their back porch are simply stunning!

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The first morning after our arrival we were awoken by the sound of bugling by the “Great Prince” elk as he kept his “harem” together.   Imagine walking onto your back porch to find some 50 odd elk passing by about 50 feet away.

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My husband took this photo of a “Great Prince” elk in town.  October is rutting season for elks.  The male elk ( or as we like to call him the “Great Prince” ) gathers as many female elks as possible into his “harem”.  The “Great Prince” is clearly in command and does not easily welcome any “competitors” near his “harem.”

Before the wedding, we had a day to explore Rocky Mountain National Park! The only word I know to describe the views is breathtaking!  I have had the good fortune to visit this incredible place before and I promise it never disappoints.

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Travel Tip:  October is an incredible time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. The air is crisp and the birch trees are turning a beautiful yellow gold.  It’s hard to miss the harems of elk as they travel into town and inhabit the local golf course.  The crowds of summer have begun to thin, but there are still many visitors to the park on the weekend.  We arrived on a Tuesday and were able to take advantage of the park before the many weekend visitors.  The weather was cold the day of our arrival, so pack you jacket,  but warmed up to a very pleasant 70 degrees over

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 Many happy travels to you!  Gerri xxoo

How to Build a Raised Bed for Your Garden – part 2

 

I am so excited that we have completed our garden and I wanted to share with you the final steps!  This really has been a relatively simple project.   This is really easy for me to say since my husband did most of the work.  However, the time involved in this project was only a few hours.  This could have been done in a day.  We broke it into to two separate afternoons simply for our own convenience.

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Step 2 really just includes laying the ground cover, adding the soil, and the exciting part is adding the plants!

For our ground cover, we chose Vigoro Weed Block Fabric from Home Depot.  We simply covered the ground with this fabric and stapled it to the sides of the cedar boards.

Then came the mulch.  We used an inexpensive mix of topsoil and composted manure to layer the ground.  For our top layer of soil we used 6 bags of Kellogg Raised Bed and Potting Mix.                                                                                                                                                                                                      image

The best part was adding the plants.  After some research about the best place to purchase vegetable plants, we headed off to a lovely little nursery near us called Plants for all Seasons.  I seriously could spend all day in this place wandering around and exploring the wide variety of goodies for your garden.  As usual, my husband attempted to keep me on task.

One of the main things we wanted in our garden are tomatoes.  We decided on Celebrity Tomatoes because they are the best selling tomato.  We also purchased summer squash, basil, rosemary, and oregano.  We wanted to plant some seeds as well, so we purchased Kentucky Wonder Green Beans, and cucumbers.

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We actually finished planting a couple of weeks ago, but as to frequently happens, life gets busy and keeps me away from posting. I am amazed how much the plants have grown and the seedlings that we planted are already popping up!

I will definitely keep you posted on the progress of our little garden.  Hopefully, we will be slicing up fresh tomatoes and cooking summer squash for dinner in no time!

                                                                                                        xxoo Gerri