A Southern Jewel

I am talking about Amelia Island.

We were in search of a weekend getaway before I start back to school. After finding a nice little place to stay on short notice and considering we had never been here before it seemed like a good choice.

Yes, it was plenty hot, but we sought refuge either poolside or in the cool shade provided by the beautiful oak trees that surrounded our property.  A good beach book and a cool drink was all we needed during the hottest part of the day.

We also enjoyed exploring the island during the day and saw The Ritz Carlton and the Omni Plantation have beautiful locations on this small island.  There appears to be five golf courses as well.  Amelia Island is only 13 miles long and 4 miles wide.

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Most of the streets, on the part of the island where we stayed, were shaded and cooled by majestic oak trees.

      Morning walks on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean was a wonderful way to start our day!

We spent two of our three evenings in the charming and very walkable downtown area of Fernandina Beach. We browsed in unique upscale shops, dined on delicious seafood and was treated to live music each evening at the Green Turtle Tavern.

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On Saturday morning we wandered through a local farmer’s market.  The atmosphere was pleasant as the crowd mingled to the eclectic sounds of a guitar player. A local resident would often steal the show as he played bluesy tunes on his harmonica. Vendors proudly displayed fresh baked goods, homemade jewelry, lots of fresh vegetables, homemade jelly and marinades, gorgeous fresh flowers, and other whimsical items to highlight a few of the booths here.

We could not resist this lovely plant and carefully brought it home with us in the car! It survived the long car ride home and now our fingers are crossed it will continue to thrive in our soil.

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The lack of crowds and traffic usually found in beach destinations this time of year was a huge hit for us.  We enjoyed our time in this lovely area of the south and so glad we visited!

Either I am getting older or I am not as young as I used to be! ~ Wine Snark

Change is good, but enough is enough!

Each time I look in the mirror I cannot believe the older face and body reflecting back. The person inside this body “feels” the same as younger days, so how come sometimes I don’t even recognize myself?

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When did this happen?

When did I suddenly get …… old?

Menopause with its hot flashes, weight gain, and insomnia came on gradually at first, and then began to roar like a lion.

My hair is getting thinner and my waist line is getting chunkier.  A little more exercise, fewer sweets, and not so many in-between snacks would probably help.

Brown spots are popping up in various locations on my body, which my dermatologist said was caused by sunburns attained during my ignorant youth when I chose not use sunscreen.  In my younger days, I actually thought I wouldn’t care about my looks as I got older.

Wrinkles have crept in. Have I waited too long for the”anti-aging” creams I am using to work?  Still waiting on those results!

Injecting my skin with products to smooth wrinkles or alter my appearance is something that not only frightens me, but just doesn’t seem natural; it’s like going against nature. Going gray seems pretty trendy at the moment, but I cannot embrace that idea just yet.

In spite of all these natural “aging” occurences, I am actually very thankful to experience this phase of my life.  Changing my mind set and not focusing on the negatives of the natural aging process is getting a little easier.  Having the opportunity to maintain a healthy diet, exercise more, keep up with what is going on in my community and the world around me, and simply laugh more (especially when I look in the mirror) are just a few of the things I am beginning to appreciate more each day.

“Things will never be the same, that’s just the way it is.”  Tupac Shakur

The Beauty in Differences

The dinner party was fun! There was soft music, much laughter, lively conversation, delicious food, fine wine, and a superb dessert.  When it was over ~ I was pretty worn out.  I could not understand why as I had not over indulged in anything that evening.  Then I had a very interesting discussion with my daughter.

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The beautiful table our hostess set!

My daughter and I have had several discussions about introvert and extrovert behavior. She seems to have a better grasp on this whole topic, but here is my takeaway from our discussions as well as personal observations.

As I reflect back on the couples dinner party, I began to mentally identify the introverts and extroverts.

The extroverts were good at capturing and maintaining the attention they received. They were a delight to be around and I enjoyed their lively and quick witted humor. They were masters at keeping the conversation flowing.  As they shared experiences, I marveled at how many other friends and acquaintances they have and how often they seem to stay connected with these friends.  I can see why this personality type is often viewed as a positive trait by our society.  I am truly thankful for friends like these.

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From the introvert perspective (speaking for myself) I was more comfortable when I was engaged in one on one conversations.  It was an opportunity to express myself better and got to share what I wanted to say.  Otherwise I tend to sit quietly and do what I do best…listen.  I did my fair share of listening that evening but, still had fun laughing, listening, and talking to the other guests.

This introvert enjoys the company of other people, I just need to recharge with some alone time after being with them!

Surprise is often the reaction when people who don’t know me well find out I have said or done something out of introvert character.  I tend to act differently around different people. My comfort level with the situation as well as the people involved are the main reasons. I act differently around family, very close friends, and the children in my classroom than I do in my book club and social situations where there is a large group. Is it possible to possess qualities of introversion and extroversion simultaneously?

I found the following quote and think it is a beautiful way to contrast extroverts and introverts:

Extroverts are bright and colorful rainbows, immediately capturing people’s attention with their beauty and shine.”

“Introverts are the gentle wind in the trees that touches your soul in profound, contemplative and peaceful (though less visible) ways.”

How enjoyable is it to embrace all of the beautiful rainbows and gentle winds that enter life.

 

Savoring Salt?

My husband and I love to grill and enjoy trying creative ways to savor the flavor of food. The Himalayan Salt Block has been an interesting addition to our outdoor cooking although it can be used inside too. We already use the Himalayan salt grinder version (Trader Joe’s) every day to flavor our meals, so we decided to purchase the large salt block for the grill. It is suppose to have health benefits, but we like it mostly for the delicious flavor it adds to food.

The photo below was the very first time we cooked on the salt block, so it is nice and pink. Over time, the heat and permeating juices darkened it and now give it a rich glow.  It is hard to see but the kabobs and the salmon with vegetables are cooking on the salt block that has been used many times. I was afraid the food would taste extra salty, but the flavor is delicious!  I bought M. the book “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman for Father’s Day last year and it has taught us the many uses of the salt block and inspired us with a variety of recipes. Can’t wait to fire up that grill again!

I love the evenings when we grill outdoors!

Savoring Healthy Eating

M. and I eat pretty healthy, but his doctor told him he should make some changes in his dietary choices.

We took a closer look at what we were actually eating on a daily basis and decided to make a few alterations. I am happy to say we have done a good job sticking with our updated plan. Some of our changes include:

  • Buying as many organic fresh fruits and vegetables as we can find.
  • Eating grass-fed beef that has been ~ key word: grass finished as often as possible.
  • Eating chicken, eggs, and pork that have been pasture raised.
  • Limiting our sugar intake.  (From what I have read, this is the source of a lot of health issues.)
  • Very limited GMO products. (This was strongly suggested by the doctor. I am currently trying to learn more about these products. We have quite a few of those brands in our home, so we are gradually weeding them out and replacing them with the non GMO products.  Just hope the information I find is accurate.)
  • Limiting our portion sizes. We don’t want to eat as much as we use to, so smaller portions are our preferred way of eating these days.  We will often eat on our salad size plates so it mentally makes us think we are eating more since we see a fuller plate.  When we eat on our dinner plates we try to fill it up with fresh vegetables and a protein.

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I have worked very hard locating local farms that raise the type of beef, pork, poultry, and eggs we desire. I must say, everything we buy from these farms has been delicious! Grass-fed-grass finished beef cooks just a little differently, and has a delicious flavor! It cost a little more, but the health benefits, the quality, and the taste are worth it!

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We have learned to be very cautious and read labels. Not everything marked organic, natural, and cage free is the real deal.

Holleman Farms, Greenville, TX ~  An excellent choice for pork, chicken, and eggs if you live in Texas.

I have some friends who own a very successful ranch in Palo Pinto, Texas ~ the 2S Ranch. They continue to educate me to the value of “knowing your rancher” to ensure you are getting the best quality possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If I lived in Texas, they would be my ranch of choice for beef.

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The 2S Ranch in Palo Pinto, TX

M. and I will definitely enjoy a few splurges and understand we can’t always control what we eat outside our home.  But, here is to continued success in reading labels, buying fresh, and knowing my rancher!

Prayer Shawl

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I have never heard of a prayer shawl (aka comfort shawl or peace shawl).

Not too long ago I was submitting a personal prayer request to various churches when I kept seeing the words Prayer Shawl Ministry appear on some of their websites.  My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to investigate.

I am so glad I did!!!

I learned that shawls can be used for ~ someone undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss or in times of stress; during bereavement; prayer or meditation; nursing a baby; during an illness and recovery…there are endless possibilities!

After some research, I located a church nearby that had one of these ministries and emailed a request to purchase one of their shawls.  I quickly heard back from one of the ladies on the shawl ministry team and was invited to their meeting a few nights later to pick it up.

When I arrived I was shown several different colors, textures and sizes.  I wound up choosing a smaller very soft, silky shawl that had various hues of blue, with some green and a touch of white.  When I held it to my face I knew immediately that was the one by the warm feeling of comfort and peace.

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The ladies asked me to select a charm to attach.  They also told me that each stitch represented the prayers said for the unknown recipent while the shawl was being created. They invited me to pray over the shawl with them before I left for the evening.  I was so moved and very honored.  They would not take one cent for this lovely shawl stating with a smile it is “just what we do”.

One other thing ~ While everyone was arriving for the evening, one of the ladies walked over and gave another lady in their group a large, beautiful pink shawl.  Tears came to her eyes and they gave each other a huge hug.  The lady in this group looked at me and shared that she had just endured two rounds of chemotherapy and was battling breast cancer for the second time.  We talked for a little while and I shared that a friend of mine just found out a week ago she had breast cancer.  This lady immediately insisted I take a smaller knitted scarf she had just recently completed to my friend.

Since I cannot physically be with either recipient of these lovely prayer shawls, I hope in some way they can feel my love, care and support during their personal journeys.

But most of all, I hope they feel safe, warm, and cared for as a result of the prayers to our heavenly Father that surround them as they wrap themselves in these shawls created by the godly women of this ministry.

I also found this bit of information as to how these shawls got started: “In 1998, Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut gave birth to a ministry as a result of their experience in this program of applied Feminist Spirituality under the direction of Professor Miriam Therese Winter, MMS. Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.”

REaD Threads

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. ~ Chinese Proverb

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These are some of the lovely, intelligent women in my book club (two others were absent when this photo was taken).

The inspiration for our book club name is based on a wonderful children’s book The Red Thread written by, Grace Lin.  The story is based on an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects those who are destined to be together. The story is about adoption, but we thought it would be a great name for our little group.

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We celebrate Christmas.

We have quite diverse backgrounds ~ a former actress, an artist, teachers, and a realtor to name a few.

We hail from New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Oklahoma, California, Alabama, and both Virginias.

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We celebrate births!

We all love to read which is why we were attracted to each other in the first place.

We actually talk about the book that was chosen that month. Several of these books have caused us to step completely out of our comfort zone. (Which is a good thing.)

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We have lively book discussions.

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We do lunch and shop.

We have shared many things together over the past few years ~ deaths, births, joys and sorrows, much laughter and even a few tears (some of sorrow, but mostly laughter ~these gals are hilarious!)

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We play trivia, attend plays, and go to concerts.

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We celebrate our friendship.

This is a treasured time in our lives.  We all know that it will end one day, but for now we anticipate and enjoy this monthly meeting.  I am so very thankful that one of my red threads connected me with these absolutely wonderful women.