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.  – Gerri

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.

                                                                                   – Henry 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 – Gerri 

 

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

Countdown to Cozy

While many places in the world are bracing for winter’s chill, in Texas we are just beginning to see subtle changes that some might call fall!  With the recent time change,  darkness descends upon us by six o’clock.  The recent cool front as encouraged my sweet husband to light a fire to take the chill off the house.  With soft, jazz playing in the background the atmosphere is definitely cozy.  The cooler temperatures have inspired me to make some homemade vegetable soup.  It has been simmering on the stove all day and the smells wafting from the kitchen are delightful.  As evening approaches I plan to light some scented candles to complete the cozy setting.  

Gray skies and cooler temperatures definitely inspire cozier times at home.  It’s the time of year to enjoy a crackling fire, grab some comfy pillows, a warm blanket and curl up with a great book. Or perhaps you prefer to spend your evenings snuggled up to someone special and watch a favorite movie together.

I’ve always found the cooler, winter season an excellent time to slow down the busy pace of life and recharge my battery.  The darker days encourage me to “just stay home”  and enjoy a cozy atmosphere, and even crawl in bed a little earlier than usual to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation.

I’m sure that come spring I will be anxious to leave the cooler days behind and enjoy soaking up the warmer rays of the summer sun, but for now,  I am content to light candles and curl up in blankets and enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with this time of year.

So Surround Yourself with Pillows and Blankets and Enjoy the Cozy Days Ahead!

Stay Warm and Cozy – xxoo Gerri

 

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…

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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

Hurricane Harvey – Waters Rising

I truly never believed this could happen to our city!  

I’ve been through Hurricanes Alicia, Allison and Ike.  I thought I knew what to expect.  I’ve been through hurricanes with the wind howling and the rain pouring down. I’ve stayed in my home and watched the pine trees bend down and almost touch the ground.  I’ve been through storms where we’ve lost power and were lighting candles and lanterns to see in the dark.  

This storm was different. It was sneaky.  Just a bit of rain. No howling wind.  No bending pines.  Over time the rains began to come down harder.  Pounding.  Constant.  

Over the past few days, our neighborhoods have become a collection of islands.  The news reports 95% of our roads have high water or are impassable.  However, through all the rain, many of us have never lost power.  We’ve watched the news to see what’s happening across the city.  We see the people standing on rooftops.  We watch the helicopter rescues. We text our family and friends “Are you okay?”  We pray.  And so many citizens have come out to assist those in need.

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Even in their own distress, so many people have turned to help their neighbor.  I’ve known people who offer their warm, dry homes to strangers that were left at a holding station in the rain.  I’ve watched people that were evacuated return to be sure their neighbors were  out and safe.  I’ve seen others come volunteer in the shelters or bring whatever supplies they can offer, anything they can do to offer assistance.

I am so proud of our city officials and first responders.  I am so amazed by the entire Houston community! People helping people.  People leaving their own comfort behind to assist those that are in trouble.  There are so many volunteers coming from smaller communities outside of Houston bringing their boats to assist in the evacuations.  The Cajun Navy is coming from Louisiana to assist.  Volunteers are on their way from Lubbock bringing food, bottled water and supplies.  Volunteers from Oklahoma.  Thoughts and prayers from all over the country.

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As I watch the people of Houston being rescued, they are smiling and their hearts are filled with gratitude.  Houston you are truly setting an example for the rest of the country.  You are showing the world not only how to handle a catastrophe, but also the way to live each day, hand in hand, helping each other, hearts filled with love for one another.  

In every cloud there is a silver lining.  Our silver lining is the compassion that is being shown for the well being of our fellow citizens.  

If your looking for a way to help and show your support in the wake of Hurricane Harvey:

Feeding Texas – coordinates with the state and other providers for quick relief to those in need

Food Bank of Corpus Christi – click on the link donate

Houston Food Bank – they are currently closed due to flood waters and will reopen as soon as possible, they do have a link where you can click to donate