Lately, I've been seeing a lot of people posting their gratitude on Facebook. Daily, they come up with one or more things for which they are thankful. This is such a fabulous idea, and one we should practice year round, not just during the month of November. I wrote the following blog a few weeks ago, while spending some time at a friend's farm, out in the middle of nowhere. I felt so peaceful and at ease, and so very grateful to my friend for trusting me with her home away from home.
Pond at my friend's farmhouse
Are you happy? So many of us are constantly seeking that one thing that will bring us happiness. Maybe it's several things. But the truth is that once we obtain that one thing, we're in search of the next. And the next. And just one more thing after that. I'm not referring to just material things, like a bigger house, or a new purse, or even something as simple as adding HBO to your cable line up. It can also be your personal goals ~ "I'll be happier when I lose ten more pounds", or "If little Bobby would just practice more, he could be the best football player on the team."
While personal goals are important, and material possessions are nice to have, I believe what will truely bring you closer to happiness is GRATITUDE. Be grateful - right here, right now - for everything you have in your life. This attitude will fill that void of feeling that you're missing something. You can be thankful for anything! From something as vital as your family and health to something as simple as your egg yolk not breaking. There are a billion reasons to be thankful. How many can you think of? Share them in the comments below - writing things out solidifies your thoughts and brings good energy to your life.
Next time you start to think "If only I had..." STOP! Instead think to yourself "I have a wonderful spouse (friends, home, career, kids), and these things bring me great joy and fulfillment. I want for nothing more."
I challenge you to write down one thing for which you are grateful every day for 30 days. Write them on a post it note and put them around your house, your job, and in your car. Surround yourself with good, positive, thankful thoughts. Change your thoughts and change your life!
I am grateful for this adorable chunk of fuzzy love in my life :)
Who doesn't love this time of year? The weather is cooler, the fall colors are beautiful, folks are getting ready for time with family, and all those yummy holiday flavors are out. I think I could make some kind of new pumpkin treat every single day for the next 60 days! I have to be careful with the things I make, carefully planning where they are going (if not for the guests), and the quantity of each because I have no control over sweet stuff. These little goodies were no exception. I was sampling before they were even halfway done!
This is a simple recipe, but a little time consuming, only because you need to let the ingredients chill for a few hours. So plan accordingly, but you really only need seven ingredients.
- 2 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks
- 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
Melt 1/2 cup of the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat or in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir often to keep the chocolate from burning. Transfer to a large bowl. Add gingersnap crumbs, pumpkin, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover and chill until just solid enough to roll into balls, about 2 hours. This is where you'll be tempted to try it. Don't! It will be the beginning of the end!
Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper. Melt remaining 2 cups chocolate and transfer to a small, deep bowl. Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into a ball in your hands, then drop into the chocolate. Working quickly, gently spoon chocolate over to coat. Using a small spoon or fork, lift the truffle out of the chocolate, shake off excess and transfer to prepared sheet tray. Dollop a bit of extra chocolate on any parts that remain exposed, then sprinkle a few gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs over the top, if you like. Repeat process with remaining pumpkin mixture and chocolate, then chill truffles until chocolate is completely set, about 1 hour. This would be phenomenal with dark chocolate also. Next time!
In another lifetime, I worked in the Foreclosure department of a bank. It may seem a strange place to have received the following advice, but it applies to any job in which you deal with people (and really...is there a job that doesn't?). Regardless of the customer's demeanor or emotional status, these tips can be applied and will generally help to calm any situation. If there is no escalated situation, the advice just helps to make life more pleasant and memorable :)
1) Speak to people. There is nothing so nice as a cheerful word of greeting. (We don't do this enough these days because our heads are in our smartphones!)
2) Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown, only 14 to smile.
3) Call people by name. The sweetest music to anyone's ears is the sound of his/her own name.
4) Be friendly and helpful. If you want friends, you must be one.
5) Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a joy to you.
6) Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost everybody if you try.
7) Be generous with praise and cautious with criticism.
8) Be considerate with the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy: Yours, the other person's, and the right side.
9) Be eager to lend a helping hand. Often it is appreciated more than you know. What counts most in life is what we do for others.
10) Add to this a good sense of humor, a huge dose of patience and a dash of humility. This combination will open many doors and the rewards will be enormous.
Nothing to do with the article. Just something to make you smile!
Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well being, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. We are all aware of several factors that can affect our sleep: From anxiety to a snoring partner, dealing with some aches & pains, or an uncomfortable mattress. Even something as simple as old, worn and tired sheets can keep you from getting the best night's sleep possible. Let me tell you about Comphy sheets and how they can make a difference for you. Comphy sheets are soft, luxurious bedding made of a breathable microfiber that feels like 600 thread count. The material is highly recommended for people with sensitive skin and the extra fine weave protects against dust mite allergens. The material is treated with a stain release process and dries in minutes. Research has shown that people sleep two hours longer, fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently when sleeping on Comphy Sheets.
We use these sheets exclusively on our beds here at Coastal Dreams, and people rave about them. While we haven't had the opportunity to use their other products yet (quilted blankets, duvets, shams and saddles), we hope to in the future. For now, the guests enjoy sleeping on them and ordering a set for themselves to enjoy at home. Have you ordered some sheets for yourself or as a gift? Let us know what you think!
While Galveston has had its share of trials and tribulations through the years, one thing always holds true. We are a town of spirit, hard work, and pride. Residents and business owners pull together in the tough times to ensure this beautiful little city is welcoming to tourists. You'll find this most prominently in our "downtown" area. The Strand is a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that houses restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops. Known as the "Wall Street of the South," Galveston was the most prosperous city in Texas and one of the busiest ports in the nation during the 19th century. Wholesalers, commission merchants, cotton brokers, attorneys and the five largest banks in Texas made fortunes from offices along the Strand. The 1900 Storm, still the nation's most deadliest, practically obliterated this area and the rest of Galveston Island. The revitalization of The Strand is a continuing success, and has led the entire downtown area into an era of expanding use as a tourist destination, a place to do business, and to live in an urban setting.
Romantic horse & carriage rides available
In addition to an intriguing selection of shops, restaurants, galleries, and museums, The Strand District is the playground for many fun special events. Every month, it seems there is something going on, from a simple, free "Movie Night on the Strand" (one of my personal favorites!) to 450,000 attendees at the Lonestar Motorcycle Rally, the second largest rally in the United States.
Galveston Mardi Gras
You can read the Houston Chronicle article here
For twelve long years before becoming a B&B owner, I worked swingshift. My hours were 3 PM to 11 PM, or sometimes 3 PM to 3 AM. I loved these hours because I got to sleep in as late as my little heart desired. Most days, it desired to sleep until noon. Maybe it's the getting older thing, or the responsibility of owning my own business, but my body can't do that anymore. 5 AM rolls around, and much as I try to force myself to go back to sleep, I can't do it.
So recently, I've tried to embrace the morning by going outside to work in the yard. I know that others have long ago realized that morning is the best time to have a few quiet moments to yourself. I've always been a bit slow to realize anything, and this is no exception. But the peace and beauty and sounds and light and smells in the morning are something to carry with you all day and help you get through anything thrown in your way. The birds and the squirrels have all been busy for hours, and while they don't appreciate my intrusion, I have work to do also. This morning it was weed pulling and putting in some Mexican Heather that my neighbor brought me (I have the best neighbors!) Since Hurricane Ike, the yard has been a struggle and a wallet buster. So many things needed replacement, and the weeds that were brought in with the salt water have been the strangest looking things. Two hours out there, and there is still much to be done.
Tomorrow is a new day and when that one eyeball peeks at the clock at 5 AM, I hope the other eyeball will open without too much effort!
We have a tradition here at Coastal Dreams on Sunday mornings. We once tried to waiver from this tradition, and make a new recipe for repeat guests, thinking they might like to try something new. Big mistake! I was told, in no uncertain terms, that Stuffed French Toast had BETTER be back on the menu for their next trip. All joking aside, people absolutely go crazy for this dish. I am not sure if it's the "bursts of cinnamon delight" in the Cinnabon bread, or the warm, oozing cream cheese, or maybe (most likely), it's the Apple Brandy Sauce that is THE BOMB when poured on top. One thing is for sure, though. If you're here for breakfast on Sunday, this is what you'll be enjoying. We serve this buffet style, alongside miniature baked eggs, bacon, and a basket of greek yogurt, string cheese, and hard boiled eggs to help offset the carb overload.
Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf cinnamon bread (I use Cinnabon)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 8 oz cream cheese
2 cups milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons melted butter
Put one layer of bread in a 9 X 13 dish. Cut cream cheese into 16 squares, flatten squares, then scatter across bread. Cover with another layer of bread. Mix eggs, baking powder, milk, maple syrup, and melted butter. Pour egg mixture over bread and press down on bread to soak up egg mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (YAY - sleep in!) Bake at 350 degrees, covered with foil for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes longer. Serve with apple brandy sauce (do not skip this step - you will regret it!).
Apple Brandy Sauce
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 large beaten egg
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons apple juice
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Don't overcook or you get cooked egg chunks that are ugly and gross looking.
One of the things I love best about living in Galveston is that there is always something going on! A festival, a parade, free music or movies - there is something fun for all age groups most every weekend. Next weekend, September 27th and 28th is our third annual Galveston Island Shrimp Festival. The Strand District hosts this yummy and fun event, featuring samples from over 60 professional and amateur cook off teams. Guests can purchase a Gumbo Sampling Cup for $8 in advance for a limited time only. You'll want to do this early if you plan to attend. The first year, there was no limit to how many sample cups were sold and the gumbo ran out quickly! Major disappointment!
In addition to the Gumbo Cook-Off, there is a 5K Fun Run, FREE Boat & RV Show, Live Music, Vendors, Children’s Lil’ Shrimp Parade, Kids Area and Strand Merchant Walk-About. A portion of event proceeds will benefit the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Ronald McDonald House.To purchase advance tickets for this Island favorite, check out the Shrimp Festival website. Hope to see you there!
This spring, after many years of stress, mess, fuss and a bit of cuss, I made the decision to convert the chlorine pool to a salt water pool. The primary reason was because there is far less chemical use with a salt water pool. But there are many more benefits. The upfront expense isn't fun, but the savings in not buying chemicals, time spent fighting algae, and the stress of wondering if it would stay clear has been well worth the money.
Not once have I had a cloudy pool, or algae growing on the sides, or had to add extreme amounts of shock to keep it clean. Just one time, after a heavy downpour and heavy guest use, I threw in one pound of shock. In years' past, it was two or three pounds every few weeks. Add to that the other chemicals to offset the heavy chlorine, and not only does it get very expensive, it's just not good for your skin, hair, or mental status! It's stressful worrying about having a nice looking pool for the guests.
I highly recommend Hayward Pool Products and Pentair's variable speed pool pump. Granted, I have not had the equipment for long, but it is pretty idiot-proof as far as any maintenance needed, directions to set the timer, speed, etc. The system is so quiet that I still find myself checking to be sure it's running. The energy efficiency far surpasses what I had before. The pump runs 24/7 at variable speeds to ensure proper water filtration, and uses less electricity than my old pump that only ran eight hours a day. I just can not say enough good things! | |
This is my friend Chris, who was kind enough to take on this task of converting the pool. I would not recommend it for the faint of heart. He put a salt water system on his own pool, so he knew what he was doing, but you can see that it took many hours! I was far more stressed watching the process than he was - even when I discovered him out there at midnight, finishing up! All this free labor for Coors Light and the Easter Buffet at a local historic landmark. You just can't find good friends like this!
Switch out your chlorine pool - it's well worth it. If you live in the Houston area, maybe Chris will come and install it for you!
My guests always ask me what I like to do on the island, and while I don't get out of the house often enough, when I do, I like to do the "touristy" things. My two favorite things to do are The Duck Tours
and Bishop's Palace.
If you've never been on an amphibious vehicle, you must do it! This is a vehicle that can go directly from pavement, into the water. Imagine! Added to the coolness of this thing is the driver/guide that will entertain you for the entire hour long tour with his "quack quacks" at pedestrians and Galveston residents, all while telling of the history of our fine city. The Duck is furnished with enough life preservers for all, and prior to starting, the driver explains where to find them and how to use them. Not to worry, they've never been needed on a Galveston tour! It picks up daily from 25th/Seawall, every 90 minutes, from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM. It is $18 for adults and $12 for children. Pretty cheap entertainment!
The Bishop's Palace was built from 1886 to 1892 and was cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America. Galveston’s grandest and best-known building, the Bishop’s Palace is an ornate delight of colored stone, intricately carved ornaments, rare woods, stained-glass windows, bronze dragons and other sculptures, luxury materials and furnishings, and impressive fireplaces from around the world (including one lined with pure silver!). The docents will tell stories of the people that lived here and how it fared during the 1900 Storm and Hurricane Ike. It is located at 14th/Broadway, and guided tours are given every hour on the hour. The price is $10 for adults, $7 for students, and free for children age 5 and younger.
Galveston has something for everyone ~ from our beautiful beaches to our history, and from our amazing architecture to our exquisite restaurants. Galveston is a magical place, with interesting and unique people making up our little community. Come see what we're all about and play "tourist" with the locals!