THREE THINGS TO BE TRULY HAPPY

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“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”

– Tom Bodett

Life is good; find something that makes you happy today. Carpe diem, friends……..

A LITTLE BREAK FROM THE ROUTINE WITH A “STAYCATION” CELEBRATION

There are those that live their lives with a great deal of routine, finding that routine is helpful to them to navigate their worlds more more efficiently. There are those that live their lives without a great deal of routine, finding that routine is monotonous, dull, and tedious.

No matter which side of the coin you find yourself, it has been said that “sometimes a break from the routine is the very thing you need.” (author unknown).

So it is with me; I found myself needing a break from all this talk about politics and the pandemic these days. I invited my friend to join me for a mini-break while we stole away for a few hours to the beach. I told her to clear her schedule, and we would eat our lunch at the beach today. Little did she know I was creating the experience in my mind, watching detail after detail flash before my eyes, inside my mind, as we spoke.

I have never had a true beach “picnic”. Each and every time I have eaten lunch at the beach here in Florida, the meal has been a blend of pragmatic and quick. I tend to pack my food in that ubiquitous little red and white cooler with a handle that I have had for many years. Normally, I deliberately choose things that won’t spoil if they get too warm on a hot day at the beach here in the summer. Ice packs on those hot days last only so long after all.

Today would be different. Instead of just sitting on my beach blanket, I wanted to create a beautiful moment in time for our “staycation” at the beach. My friend and I are both longing for the days when travel to far away places with beautiful beach parties and inspiring settings is again a viable option. For now, however, since we can’t change our worlds, we need to change our thinking. What we needed was a “staycation” for the day.

I had seen numerous pictures in the past of instagram-worthy “boho” dinner parties at the beach and had admired all the effort it must have taken to create an experience as beautiful as that. When my friend asked what she could bring to the lunch, I told her nothing at all. She is one of those people who is beautiful both inside and out, always doing something for others. I decided today was a good day to “pay it forward” to her, thinking about all that she has done recently for my family and me while covid knocked at our door, and I respectfully declined her generous and kind offer to bring something to our “staycation celebration”. Within a moment or two, I made up my mind to arrive at the beach approximately an hour before she arrived to set things up. The menu would be good but simple food. I recently purchased a sign that said “Good food. Good Friends. Good Times” and used it as my inspiration. Today would be a good time, but it would be simple. It would be different, but it wouldn’t be so labor intensive or costly, as I wanted to enjoy the day, too. I didn’t want to be too tired from all the preparations as the day gradually unfolded with laughs and good conversation. It all had to start with some sort of table, however, and a comfortable place upon which to sit.

I searched CraigsList for anyone who was giving away free wooden pallets, as I had seen some boho picnics use pallets as a table. Because we are very careful in the pandemic, the table would have to allow for a minimum of six feet for social distancing outside, as neither she or I have had covid yet. Although I love the look of using wooden pallets for beach tables, I quickly dismissed the idea, as it would be difficult for me to carry two wooden pallets on the beach myself. I then considered wooden “orange crates”, which would provide a two purpose approach to simplify things.

two crates in the back of my trunk

The crates would allow me to efficiently carry things onto the beach and once inverted could serve as a table. Two orange crates would suffice, I thought. I purchased them at Michael’s for about ten dollars each. After I set up the crates on my living room floor, they looked small and unimpressive. How could I infuse them with a little life to inspire a break from our routines? Certainly color would play a part. I began to think of all the little things I already had in the house that would dress up the scene unfolding in my mind. I decided I needed a centerpiece that was yellow, my friend’s favorite color. I somehow had to weave more yellow throughout the scene unfolding in my mind, too . I found a turquoise table runner with starfish on it that I had put away in the closet. I also had star fish and plastic coral that played a role in my beach-themed living room at home and a vase of yellow silk flowers. I set those out and decided I needed to create a longer “table” instead of two mini tables for this to work. I began thinking of using 2 x 4 wooden boards to join the two creates together versus a piece of plywood. I decided that neither was the right “look” I was going for in my mind and would be too cumbersome to carry by myself. I finally went back to Michaels and then to Hobby Lobby to find some sort of rustic unfinished wooden piece (maybe a sign) that would join the two crates.

I used my 40 percent off Hobby Lobby coupon for a sign that was almost three feet long to lay across the two tables and decided we would sit upon cushions from my couch.

Next, I went to Lowes to see if they had some sort of bamboo plant stake that I could insert into the sand easily at both ends of the table in order to string some tassel decorations from one end of the table to the other above us as we sat. I found some square six foot stakes with a pointy end for ease of insertion into the sand for about two dollars and fifty cents each and decided I would need four with some twine to lash them together.

Next, I decided I would try the Dollar Tree to get some yellow paper decorations and some plastic tablecloths. I spend four dollars there (two table cloths and two packages of decorations).

The menu would be simple and wouldn’t require much to transport. I thought a sandwich made in a hollowed out bread boule cut into pie-shaped pieces would give me a different look, and I would serve it on a piece of slate that I had previously purchased at World Market. A simple, classic dessert of strawberry shortcake came to mind, but how could I break out from my tried and true strawberry shortcake recipe? I decided I would layer it in a mason jar for easy transport and ease in eating at the beach. This strawberry shortcake layered mini trifle would be attractive to look at as well, and I had been inspired by eating trifle at my mother-in-law’s house this week. The sandwich, biscuits, and strawberries had the advantage that they could be made the night before, and all that I would need to do that morning would be to assemble the dessert after making a fresh batch of sweetened whipped cream. PERFECT! Why serve only one dessert when you can have two, though? I ended up making the strawberry shortcake in a plastic mini shooter glass from the Dollar Tree, as well. I made a peanut butter and oreo shooter, too. Two small desserts would be better than one dessert today. After all, it WAS a celebration.

My friend came onto the beach at the designated time today and was so grateful that I had taken the time to make our day together a little bit more special. Our “staycation” was a hit, and we both enjoyed “whiling away the hours” together and felt refreshed and ready for anything on our separate rides home. The best part was we were able to socially distance from at least six feet away (I used my pink tape measure) by setting up the cushions and tables MORE than six feet apart and didn’t even have to think about the covid distance during the meal, as it was previously set up to those necessary parameters. Total price paid for newly purchased items today: about sixty dollars. Sixty dollars for a new experience. I chuckled to myself at the check out with my purchases. As the television commercial says, “Some things in life are priceless. For everything else, there is Master Card.” A great experience and a little slice of humor to go with it somehow caused me to enjoy the day even more.

Life it good; carpe diem, friends. Try to find something out of the ordinary to do today to have a “staycation celebration” of your own if you can.

“May you live all the days of your life.”

-Jonathan Swift

“LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST”

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY THREE (LAVENDER CAKE)

I can still hear my wonderful father saying to me time and time again in my head: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That was him, “King of the Colloquial Expression”, always finding a teachable moment everywhere. A man of few words but words that meant something. He didn’t speak much, of course, unless he had something to say. No idle banter for him, but a pleasant and funny disposition, a kind and loving heart, a warm smile with a sunny laugh, and a man of few words. Life lived well and lived fully.

I think of my Dad today on day three of a week of lavender recipes I am trying. It comes down to the idea of cut the idea of cutting your losses while you are ahead versus you never know until you try. Go the distance; live without wondering what could have happened. Go the distance; risk disappointment but know you tried. I impart these same words to my daughter, “Teen Traveler” and decide without blinking an eye that the proverbial “show must go on”, another quip from my beautiful days with my father before he passed on. Even though we haven’t really cared for the two lavender recipes we tried this week, we will continue in our quest.

Day Three: Lavender pound cake. Pound cake brings to mind simpler, almost more old-fashioned times, as my beautiful mother adored pound cake and served it to me when I was small like her mother did before her. Pound cake, buttery goodness and sweet confection, just like Mom. Throw in a little lavender, and it HAS to be good, right? This time I am going to decrease the amount of lavender I use to see if that makes a difference and pair it with lemon. How could lemon pound cake go wrong with wise words of advice from my father coupled with sweet memories of my mother……

I decided to use my Mother’s old vintage Corningware loaf pan, complete with the cornflower from a lifetime ago filled with less complication, confusion and without Covid. This was either a very good thing to use my Mother’s pan as fond memories of love and comfort surrounded me while I was baking, or…..it was a bad thing because my mother wasn’t much of a baker. In either case, it was fun to take out my Mother’s old pan again if for nothing other than the sake of nostalgia.

Yesterday my track record for yummy lavender recipes was 0 for 2. I waited with excitement as I watched the cake come out of the oven and cool. I used a vanilla confectionary sugar glaze when it was cool enough as the recipe directed.

And I added sprinkles. Of COURSE I added sprinkles, as I had learned years ago from marrying into my husband’s family that sprinkles on our Italian struffali is the ONLY way to go. LOTS and LOTS of sprinkles. My daughter also taught me that life is better, always better, with a little sprinkles on top.

One person who tasted it said it felt like they were eating a scented drawer liner. My daughter said it would be delicious WITHOUT the lavender. I actually liked it, but I would have preferred the recipe to have a little heavier glaze on the top, as it was almost transparent in the recipe, even though I added even more confectionary sugar to thicken it than the recipe called for.

Day three: 1 for 3. Finally a recipe that tastes good (to some of us). I actually think I’m on to something here with the combination of lavender and lemon. Perhaps tomorrow I will try lavender lemonade. You know how it goes…..”if life gives us lemons, we make lemonade!”

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……..

(photo 1:dreamstime)

PUT A LITTLE COLOR IN YOUR GREY….

Every now and then something crosses my desk that causes me to pause a moment. Today I am sharing something that did just that when my friend in Belgium shared it with me.

“Barely the day started and… it’s already six o’clock in the evening.
Barely arrived on Monday and it’s already Friday.
… and the month is already over.
… and the year is almost over.
… and already 40, 50 or 60 years of our lives have passed.
… and we realize we lost our parents, friends.
and we realize it’s too late to go back…
So… Let’s try to make the most of the time we have left…
Let’s keep looking for activities that we like…
Let’s put color in our grey…
Let’s smile at the little things in life that put balm in our hearts.
And despite everything, we must continue to enjoy with serenity this time we have left. Let’s try to eliminate the afters…
I’ll do it after…
I’ll say after…
I’ll think about it after…
We leave everything for later as if ′′ after ′′ is ours.
Because what we don’t understand is that:
Afterwards, the coffee gets colder…
Afterwards, priorities change…
afterwards, the charm is broken…
afterwards, health passes…
after, kids grow up…
after, parents get old…
Afterwards, promises are forgotten…
after, the day becomes the night…
after, life ends…
And then it’s often too late….
So… Let’s leave nothing for later…
Because in the meantime we can lose the best moments,
the best experiences,
best friends,
the best family…
The day is today… The moment is now…”

-taken from a FB post by Simplement Moi

Life is good; carpe diem, friends….

photo: dreamstime

SAVORING EACH MOMENT AS IT PASSES WITH THE GIFT OF THE HUMMINGBIRD

Today, like any other day, was a gift. Today was the first day I have ever seen a hummingbird, and it took my breath away. I have seen and heard about hummingbirds but have never given them a great deal of thought. Today, however, as I was tending my containers of plants in my backyard here in Florida, I looked up and briefly saw a green and blue hummingbird out of the corner of my eye hovering near my blue salvia, which I later learned has a high nectar content for hummingbirds. I planted it originally as a nectar plant for butterflies, never ever dreaming that I would see such a beautiful blue and green hummingbird as a bonus. I don’t know much about hummingbirds in Florida, but this one looked like it may have been a more tropical variety because of its coloring. It was even more colorful than the hummingbird pictured above. It graced my yard for mere minutes, and I never had the chance to grab my camera in time to take a picture unfortunately.

The hummingbird I saw was more like this one, but I don’t remember seeing the purple on its head.

This is a copy of a scrapbook page I saw on the internet using a quotation from Papyrus Cards and arranged by “Taxed4ever” in Canada…beautifully said and beautifully arranged……

After a little bit of research I found out that hummingbirds live only in the Americas. Watching the hummingbird in my yard for a brief moment, I was fascinated with its ability to fly forwards, backwards, and upside down. The thing that really took my breath away beyond its beautiful color was its ability to hover in mid-air so effortlessly, and this is what first caught my eye. Hummingbirds do not hum, but their name comes from the flapping sound their wings make when they flap it from fifty to two hundred beats per second. Amazing creatures. I found out also that most species can live from three to five years (some larger ones can live over a decade) , but most die in the first year. Another amazing thing about hummingbirds is their fast metabolism, and they need to eat every ten or fifteen minutes from dawn to dusk and might even eat approximately half their weight in food and eight times their weight in liquid during this time. In fact, they can visit between one thousand and two thousand flowers per day to meet this need.

You can encourage hummingbirds to visit your yard by planting salvias, bee balms, day lillies, and other flowers with long trumpet-type shapes along with a humming bird feeder, which contains a sugar water mixture that you can make yourself or purchase at a local garden center. If you get a hummingbird feeder, make sure it has an “ant trap” at the top of it (or you can purchase an ant trap accessory on Amazon), as the sugar will attract lots of ants, and ants can contaminate the feeder and bring disease. Make sure you wash the humming bird feeder every few days, as the sugar water can host different types of bacteria, but it is recommended to empty and wash the feeder with vinegar and not bleach. One other tip is to avoid the inverted bottle type of hummingbird feeder, as I have heard these can leak. If you have more than one feeder, it is recommended to keep them ten to twenty feet apart, as hummingbirds are very territorial creatures.

If you want more information about hummingbirds, you can “Google” them or find information here at the Hummingbird Society website:

https://www.hummingbirdsociety.org/index.php

Also, a review of hummingbird feeders can be found at the Good Housekeeping website here:

Another review of hummingbird feeders can be found here as well:

https://birdingdepot.com/best-hummingbird-feeders/

In Mexico, legend has it that “the hummingbird is the symbol of strength in life’s struggle to elevate consciousness— to follow your dreams” (from NationalGeographic.com), which is somehow appropriate and relevant today during the Covid-29 pandemic.

Life is good. May you “open your eyes to the wonders of the world today” and “embrace all that life has to offer” in order to “celebrate the joy of every day.”

Savor each moment; carpe diem, friends…………..

(photos: Dreamstime)

GOALS: CALL YOUR OWN SHOTS

“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you do not take.”

-Wayne Gretzky, former Canadian professional hockey player and leading scorer of the NHL to date. He was nicknamed “The Great One” for many good reasons, including having more goals and assists than any other player in history.

Life is good; call your own shots.

Carpe diem, friends………

(photo:Dreamstime)

OF COURAGE

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

-Andre Gide

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

-Mary Anne Radmacher

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………….

photo:Dreamstime