Historic San Juan

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RH and I have finally returned home from our amazing journey on the Transatlantic Cruise with Royal Caribbean from Galveston to Barcelona and then around the Mediterranean to France, Italy and Monte Negro.  This trip was truly something I had dreamed about for countless years and I promise you, it did not disappoint!

  I have learned so much from this journey and have been awed by the history, beauty, architecture and culture of the many places I have had the great privilege to see.  As we journeyed into each port, I became increasingly fascinated with the amazing history our world has to offer.  

I will begin my account of this journey with the historic port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We arrived in San Juan on the fifth day of our journey  and were quite excited to have a day in port.  We were up early that morning in plenty of time to enjoy our cruise into the San Juan Bay.  As our ship headed to the port, the massive fortress of El Morro is on the left side of the ship and offers quite an impressive view from the sea.  El Morro is the 400 year old walled fortress designed to guard the entrance of San Juan Bay and defend the colonial Spanish port.  The history of this fortress is truly fascinating and takes you back in time to when the Spanish conquistadors were defending the fort.  

The port is located in the heart of what is known as Old San Juan, the oldest European settlement in America.  El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, both a part of San Juan National Historic Site  are a fairly easy walk or a short taxi ride from the port.  Walking or driving, the views of the San Juan Bay along Paseo de la Princesa are simply stunning.   

If you are a lover of narrow, cobblestone streets and charming, colorful colonial architecture, you will delight in strolling the streets of Old San Juan.¬† It’s easy to spend the day wandering the streets and soaking up the beauty and history in the vibrantly colored brick and stone buildings.¬† The buildings are delightfully quaint with elegant doors, balconies and colonial details, an absolute dream for a fan of colonial architecture.¬† I would suggest walking shoes to meander though the cobblestone streets and know that mid afternoons might be a bit warm as the tall buildings block the breeze.¬† There are many museums, shop, and street cafes to visit and enjoy easy going Caribbean vibe.¬† If you tire of walking,¬† there is a free trolley that winds through the area and you are able to hop on and off as you desire.¬† ¬†

This was our second visit to Old San Juan and I was still fascinated with the history and amazing colonial architecture.¬† We noticed that there weren’t the crowds that we saw on our last visit,¬† presumably due to the devastating hurricane last fall.¬† However, Old San Juan is alive and vibrant awaiting your visit.¬† If given the chance, I will definitely return to explore the history and culture of this amazing island.¬†

Blessing to all – Gerri

Cruising to Barcelona

There is nothing ordinary about sailing across the vast Atlantic Ocean!

We are traveling on Royal Caribbean’s ship Vision of the Seas which left Galveston, Texas almost two weeks ago.  Our first stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico where we had a lovely day wandering the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.  After another five days at sea, we arrived in Ponta Delgado, Azores, an island off of Portugal! I have to say this was one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places I’ve ever seen!

The experience of crossing the Atlantic has been totally amazing, relaxing and so peaceful.  There is something so calming about listening to the gentle sounds of the waves as the ship glides through the ocean.  The waves have been mostly between 4 to 6 feet, which our magnificent vessel glides through luxuriously!

Most days the skies have been delightfully blue, with occasional clouds.  The air temperature has ranged between the mid eighties in San Juan to the mid fifties as we travel north to Spain.  

As we traveled from San Juan to The Azores, I was overwhelmed by the unspoiled beauty of this magnificent ocean!  When traveling in the Caribbean, you occasionally see other vessels. Perhaps freighters passing by or other cruise ships as you travel along your journey.  However, in the middle of the Atlantic, we went for days with only seeing the sky and sea, no other vessels!  Water depth was about 15,000 feet or 3 miles deep.  We traveled along at about 20 knots. We have currently traveled 5013 nautical miles towards our destination in Barcelona.  

Tonight we will pass through the Strait of Gibraltar and tomorrow we arrive in Malaga, Spain.

I wish I had more photos to share with you, but I seem to be having some technical difficulty!  I’m looking forward to sharing more with you soon.

Thank you to all for your well wishes for this journey. Р Gerri

 

Dreams Can Come True!

As you are reading this, I am leaving on a ship for my dream of a lifetime trip! This trip has been in the wishing and planning stages for years.  My husband and I have saved our pennies, hoped and dreamed, and it is finally coming true!

We leave out of the Port of Galveston and our destination is Barcelona, Spain!  Some may call us crazy, but we will be spending sixteen nights on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  I have to admit that although I am totally excited about this grand adventure, I am feeling a bit nervous about so many days crossing the Atlantic.

Along the way we will stop in the beautiful and historic San Juan, Puerto Rico before many days at sea.  Eventually, we arrive in Ponto Del Gado, Azores which is a small chain of islands off of Portugal.  Then, three more stops in Spain before we arrive in Barcelona.   After that we will be doing a bit more traveling around the Medeteranian Sea. 

During this time, I will be taking a bit of time off from blogging.  However, I hope to post some pictures for you on my Instagram page @tocreatesunshine.  I also have a Facebook page of the same name.

While I am away, I will be journaling about the experience and look forward to sharing with you upon our return.

Until then, wishing you many blessings…..Gerri

Getting Garden Ready

It seems that Mother Nature just cannot make up her mind!  We have had some perfectly lovely days, but suddenly the rains came through and once again it is cold and damp.
Every time I think Spring is here to stay, another cold blast of winter comes barreling through.¬† I know that I have no reason to complain as there are places that are still getting snow!¬† ( I’m so very sorry. )

Whether it’s cold and grey where you are or if your fortunate and the sun is shining bright, we are all thinking about the same thing…..warm, sunny days and flowers in the garden.¬† ¬†So, today I thought I would share some photos of springs past.¬†

Last May, I attended the beautiful garden wedding of my niece.
As always, I was captivated by the beauty of the garden ( and the beauty of the bride) and captured a few photos to store away for savoring on grey days like today.  


It was a small garden with lots of potted plants and fountains creating the perfect ambiance for a beautiful Spring wedding.

The bride and groom exchanged their vows before this wall of potted ivory, and you can just image how perfect it was. ( I guess I’m a bit of a romantic at heart.)

I’ve always loved a garden wedding.¬† They seem so cheery and bright.¬†¬†

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

Have faith, in no time at all, we will all be singing in the sun.  Blessings РGerri 

Photo Challenge – A Favorite Place

How do you choose one favorite place?¬† I have so many “favorite spots.”¬† Some of those places I’ve only visited once, maybe twice, fell in love with them, but have not had to opportunity to return.¬† There are other places I love and return to them as often as I can

As much as I love to travel, when I saw the weekly photo challenge for a “Favorite Place,” my heart turned close to home.¬†¬†This lovely pond is about a half mile from our home where my husband and I walk our sweet Bear almost everyday, no matter what the weather.

When we visit, we often see turtles basking in the sun and it is also a favorite spot for ducks, egrets and we recently saw a blue heron.  There are some huge coi that we feed tortillas and they will come to the surface so you see how big the are. 

It’s a favorite place for photographers, and it’s a lovely spot for photo ops to mark those special occasions in life!

But the best part of all is it’s the perfect sanctuary to escape the stress that comes in our busy world.¬† It’s peaceful and serene, a great place to meditate, read a book, or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance.¬†

¬†Hope you’ve enjoyed this walk around my favorite place.¬† Blessings to all.¬† – Gerri

 

Today Anything is Possible!

Let your joy burst forth like flowers in Spring!

Spring is a time of new beginnings!  The earth is bursting with colorful flowers and the trees are budding out, showing off their new green color.  The birds are singing their most glorious song and the sky is as blue as the sparkling color of the ocean seas.

¬†¬†It seems that nature is celebrating the return of warmer days with it’s burst of glorious beauty!

He has made everything beautiful in it’s time.¬† ¬†

– Ecclesiates 3:11

Spring makes me feel like anything is possible.¬† The increased light and the warmer air encourages me to get outside more, work in my garden, go for long walks, and just take in the glories of nature.¬† It’s finally time to shake off those winter blues and feel the joy that arrives with spring.¬† ¬†

Spring is a time of celebration! It’s the time to kick off your shoes and run barefoot through the dew sparkled grass.¬† It’s a time to gather with friends and family for picnics in the garden and cooking on the grill.¬† It’s a time for planting and starting with new beginnings.

For nothing will be impossible with God.  -Luke 1.37

My hope for you for today is that you will relish in the glories of spring and lift your eyes in thanks for the beauty of this day.

Wishing you blessings today and everyday.  РGerri

Spring is Upon Us in Tapatio Springs

Fall may come late to Texas, but Spring typically arrives early and we are thrilled with the warmer temperatures and blue skies!  My husband and I have just returned from our semi-annual trip to Lubbock to visit our daughter.  After a fabulous visit with her sweet family, we headed over to  Boerne, in the Texas Hill Country,  to see my brother-in-law and his lovely wife.  After what seemed like a rather frigid winter, ( at least for Southeast Texas )  it was perfect time of year to schedule a little getaway and enjoy the warming temperatures.

The drive through central Texas was fabulous with rolling hills and so green after all the rains. ¬†Although the trees were still mostly¬†bare and brown, there were some Flowering Pear and Redbud trees scattered along the roadside that signify in Texas that Spring is truly on it’s way!¬†¬†

Visiting the Texas Hill Country is always a delight for me.¬† I have been captivated by it’s rustic beauty ever since I was young and I always look forward to returning for a visit.¬† The rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees never fail to soothe my soul and allow me to wallow in the joys of nature.¬†¬†

Of course, while visiting in Boerne, my husband had to play a round of golf at the amazing Tapatio Springs Golf Course.  Tapatio Springs is on 220 acres in the heart of the hill country.  Several years ago an investment group which includes country music star George Strait purchased the resort community and have been making improvements on the property ever since.  You can read more about Tapatio Springs here.  Sadly, the newly renovated club house burned to the ground in early November, but the golf course and other facilities are open and they will be rebuilding the club house in time.

Although I’m not much of a golfer, I do enjoy riding in the cart and taking in the beauty of Tapatio Springs.¬† I always take my camera along with me so I can snap a few shots of the lovely golf course and the amazing homes surrounding it.¬†¬†

To Create Sunshine Tapatio Springs, Texas Hill Country
View from the golf course of Tapatio Springs.

A visit to the Texas Hill Country never disappoints me.  There is so much to see and do in this region of the country.  The Hill Country has something for everyone from antiquing in one of the charming towns such as Fredericksburg, to enjoying the music scene in Austin, or taking in the beauty of one of the many rivers that meanders through the rustic, rolling hills such as the Guadelupe or the Comal.  

As always with out visits to the Hill Country, too soon it was time to make out way back to our home in Cypress, but I look forward to another visit to the amazing Texas Hill Country soon!

Sending many blessings your way today! – Gerri

What’s Up in the Garden

A change of season always brings excitement!  After weeks of grey, cloudy skies the slightly warmer weather definitely has me yearning for Spring!

This past week, in between the scattered raindrops, RH and I have been observing the damage to our garden from the hard freeze.  In southeast Texas, we usually have fairly mild winters.  This year was different.  Temperatures dropped below freezing and stayed there for a couple of days.  Our somewhat tropical garden took quite a beating.  Although all potted plants were stored safely in the garage and we covered the plants that we knew would struggle in a freeze, the cold weather really took a toll on our previously lovely garden.  ( I do realize there are places in the world that would delight in our mild winters and are probably chuckling at our gardening woes.  We are a bit spoiled in this region! )

While I did enjoy the cooler temperatures, it was so nice to see highs peeking into the seventies this week, although we are still being inundated with lots of rain and grey skies.  My husband is truly the passionate gardener, and he has begun trimming away and hauling off branches filled with ugly, dead leaves.  After surveying the bleakness of our garden, we ran out and purchased a few Daylilies and Lavender in an attempt to bring some life back into the space.  I know that the Daylilies will thrive as they love our hot and humid climate.  However after purchasing the Lavender I learned that they prefer a less humid climate.  Well, I do love Lavender so I want to at least make an attempt. We shall have to wait and see.

Everyday day, with sweet Bear close on my heals, I walk around the garden searching for bits of green sprouting through.  The tulips I planted last Fall are slowly pushing through the ground and I can see bits of green around our Mexican Heather. However, I’m afraid it’s going to be a long, slow process though.

To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow.

– Audrey Hepburn

The garden is my place of delight, peace and contentment.  I look to my garden to be a retreat from the busyness of the day.  A special place to relax, enjoy and simply breathe.  However, as with most things worthwhile, gardening is a process.  So for now, I will simply wait, nurture and believe in tomorrow.  

Wishing you blessings as we await Spring. – Gerri

**The photos shown in this post are from last summer’s garden. Hopefully, I will have new photo’s for you soon.


One Word – Simplify

Simplify ……this has been my goal in life for oh, so many¬†¬†years.¬† I crave simplicity …. in my home, in my mind, in all that I do.

I have an inherent belief that if I can simplify all aspects of my life.¬† I’m not sure that this is truly possible as we live in an extremely complex world.¬† However, it has been my goal for quite awhile now, so I will continue to strive for this.¬† I believe that if I can truly simplify my life then I will find the peace and serenity that I truly desire.¬† I believe that I’m not alone in this pursuit.

With my goal being to create a simple life, each day I begin with a vision of what this simple life will look like.  For me,  the first step is to start with my home.  I want my home to be as clean, simple and clutter free as possible.  I am currently going through every nook and cranny to eliminate any items that I no longer need or desire.   I don’t want possessions to create complexity in my life.  Clutter makes me anxious.  So, I am striving to eliminate anything that restricts my idea of freedom and joy. 

Another step in the process is how I spend my time.¬† It’s important to me that my time is spent doing what brings me joy and satisfaction.¬† As I go through this process,¬†I have found that I am now eliminating¬† activities that are not as meaningful to insure I have time for the activities that I most enjoy.¬† Life is full of choices.¬† It’s important to me to choose activities that bring joy. Sometimes, I have to really stop and consider my goals and what brings me the most joy in making decisions.¬† I am not as quick or impulsive in agreeing to do some things as I once was.¬† Often times, I prefer staying home to read a good book or spend time in a creative pursuit rather than filling my time with an activity that has less meaning for me.¬† The added bonus is that I’m not spending money on something I don’t really want or need.¬† This allows me to save for those things or activities that are most important!

Several years ago,¬†I heard of the concept of choosing a “word of the year.”¬† The idea is to choose one word that will guide your life choices for the year.¬† It’s similar to making a new year’s resolution, but more……simplified!¬†¬†At the time I thought it was a great idea, but there wasn’t one word that seemed significant to me.¬† This past year, I ran across the idea in several blogs that I follow.¬† Again, the idea really appealed to me, but what word to choose!

Well, I suppose this idea has been rolling around in my head for a while now, but I have finally decided to choose simplify as my word for the year. I know that it is already February and that I am behind in this process, but I am not one to make a commitment lightly, even if it just involves choosing a word.

Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.

                                                                                   РHenry David Thoreau

I am looking forward to my year of simplicity and eager to learn of the influence it may have on my lifestyle.  I will definitely be sharing along the way.  

If you have a “word of the year,” I would love to hear your word and your thoughts on how your word is effecting your life.¬†¬†

Sending you blessings for a simplified day!¬† –¬† Gerri

 

 

This Crazy Texas Weather!

There is an old saying in Texas that goes….

“If you don’t like the weather, just wait about fifteen minutes!!”

Our crazy Texas weather has definitely been all over the map this year.¬† We have come from the torrential and devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey, to a Fall season of anticipating cooler weather that just didn’t happen.¬† Then, suddenly temperatures dropped and low and behold we had a surprising early December snow!¬†

Now that it’s January, we have had an unbelievable second snow!¬† This time the temperatures dropped into the teens and we did not reach above freezing for three days!¬† This is quite unusual for Cypress!¬† I guess my secret wish came true!¬†

A typical January day in Cypress would be much like today, a sky of blue,¬† full of bright sunshine and hardly a cloud to be found.¬† We’re expecting a high in the mid sixties which is quite normal for this time of year.

However, last week we were huddled around the fireplace as the temperatures dropped below freezing and the city virtual came to a stop as schools closed and people were encouraged by the mayor to stay off the roads.  I know you might laugh at this if you live in the north, but this is really exceptional for south Texas.  Our city is not prepared to handle ice and those crazy drivers need to stay off the roads!

Although I have to say, I’m enjoying the return to normal temperatures, I did love the splash of cold and snow.¬† It was lovely to look at and wasn’t too bad for a winter walk if you bundled up!

I was surprised to find this bit of green palm frond among all the cold and snow!

Well, for now temperatures have returned to normal for us.¬† It’s an absolutely gorgeous day and I won’t have to bundle up for my walk later!¬† However, come August when temperature are soaring into the nineties, I will be treasuring remember these memories of snow days and hoping they will come again.¬†¬†

Wishing you many blessings today РGerri