Savoring the Last Weekends of Summer

Although I am ready for a change in temperatures I will truly miss the days of summer.  In spite of my complaints about how hot it gets, the mosquitoes, flies, and the endless humidity, I feel so blessed that I have been able to experience another summer.

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Summer is full of activity. Eating outside at restaurants sharing chips, cheese dip and margaritas with friends is a favorite.

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Nothing says summer like an afternoon baseball game at a new ball park stadium…

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Relaxing poolside, toenails painted in fun colors, grilling out…

Spending the day on a nearby lake with good friends on their boat was a generous and relaxing way to enjoy the end of this summer.

Evening dinners and early morning breakfast on the patio…

The charcoal smell in the air, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh fruit (especially sugar kiss cantaloupe), lighting bugs flickering in the dark, watching fireworks, picnics, star gazing while sitting on the drive way on a moonless night and spending time with grandchildren are times to be treasured!

As Chaucer said, “All good things must come to an end.”  The plants that were once so vibrant, welcoming, and full of color are now tired and overgrown.

Saying goodbye to summer is bitter sweet because my absolute favorite time of the year is almost here ~ Fall!!!

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Summer Blessing

“Good Morning Mimi” “Good Morning Chunks”

Precious words uttered with a smile by my 5 year old grandson every morning as he walked down the stairs and planted a sweet kiss on his baby sister’s adorable cheeks. Oh how I miss hearing his sweet voice each morning!

A new granddaughter joined our family a few months ago and I am so in love!
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I had the unique opportunity to spend most of the summer with my daughter and her family.  The experience of having a peek in to their day to day lives and forming a closer bond was such a blessing.

The energy level of five children in the home is constant. Daily swim practice, bed time stories read aloud, the glorious sound of children’s laughter, out door play, board games, and snuggles on the couch was paradise! We even enjoyed s’mores around the fire pit one evening in spite of the heat! I treasured every moment.

As Lois Wyse wrote, “If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.”

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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!

Attitude

Once upon a time this quote was hanging in a spot where I could see it everyday. Over the years I lost track of it, but my dear husband came to the rescue and sent me a copy he had hanging in his office.  I think it is an excellent read for people of any age and felt it worthy of sharing.

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Savoring Salt Block?

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.

When you first start cooking on the salt block it is nice and pink. Over time, the heat and permeating juices darkened it and now give it a rich glow.  I was afraid the food would taste extra salty, but the flavor is delicious!

I bought my husband 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

fullsizeoutput_1a17My husband 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.

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 this farm has been delicious! Mountain Valley Farm

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

My husband 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!

The Good Shepherd

Someone extremely special to me is going through a very difficult time.  There are people of various ages affected and they all need prayer support.  If you pray, it is with a sincere heart I ask you to say a prayer for this person with me.

The other day I was in church for some quiet prayer time.  I was praying in particular about this situation. I suddenly stopped praying which is very unusal for me. When I have my prayer time, I often talk the whole time.  If I stop, I get distracted or feel awkward like I need to say something.

I find it difficult to just sit and listen for some inner voice to speak to me while I am praying.  I am never sure if it is me talking to myself or if it is God talking to me.

But this time I suddenly stopped praying and just sat there.  I looked at all of the things on the altar and the surrounding walls as if searching for something. My eyes were drawn up to the rose window at the front of the church.  It is a stained glass rose window which shows Jesus surrounded by lambs and He is holding one of the lambs lovingly in His arms.

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It became clear to me that this extremely special person is that lamb.  Emotions flooded my eyes and heart at the realization Jesus is carrying this person through this time.  The other lambs surrounding Jesus are those of us drawing closer to Him and walking this path as well ~ staying close by and ever watchful. The lamb in His arms may not realize it just yet, but if they could just stop wiggling and trying to get down, maybe they could see whose loving arms are around them.

It got me to thinking that so often Jesus is seeking to rescue us out of difficult situations.

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He is constantly looking for us when we become lost or choose the wrong path.

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His hands are always reaching out to us, inviting us to draw near to Him, wanting us to let Him take care of us and nurture our needs.

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1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always.

Note:  Images are not my own.  They were taken from free images on Google