Thoughtful Thursday – The Magic of Autumn

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Photo taken by Maria Vidaurre

Summer is officially coming to an end on September 22nd as we welcome the Autumn Equinox. Here in South Florida, we don’t really experience a change in scenery. The weather cools a bit but there is no major change in season visually.

This was a photo I had taken while hiking 10 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia with my husband. The air was cool and crisp on the morning we embarked on our hike and the scent of wet leaves permeated the air. Mother nature had graciously painted a stunning canvas of yellow, red, orange and brown for us to enjoy. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking on the trail.

It was a magical hike where I found myself again and remembered what I was made of. There were parts of the trail where I had to dig deep to find courage and endurance to push on. One section had a small brook covered with leaves which were very slippery. Even though I was super careful, I ended up taking a fall but luckily it was nothing major and just ended up with a bruised knee.

The most treacherous part of the trail was a section that was covered with large boulders from an avalanche that wobbled and moved as we crossed them. This part slowed us down considerably and the sun was setting soon.

To say the least, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of getting stuck on the mountain, at night, out in the cold. I much preferred my warm bed that was calling my name back at the lodge. So with all the grit and determination I could muster, I forged on to reach the end of our hike.

As the sun started to set in the horizon, the temperature began to drop pretty fast and darkness was setting in. Just when I thought we wouldn’t make, we came to the end of the trail. I was so happy and soooo relieved. We did it 😅

Looking back on our hike I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. It was quite the adventure and I loved every minute I spent with my husband. Time on the trail renewed my energy and sense of wonder. It was a great recharge for my mind, body and soul.

We’re going on another hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail this fall but it will be at a different section of the trail and a shorter hike. Really looking forward to seeing all the beautiful colors again!

What do you like most about autumn?

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“Notice how autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” ~Freidrich Nietzsche

Photos taken by Maria Vidaurre

Angel of Promises

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My latest angel from my Strathmore 5.5″ x 8.5″ watercolor journal, Angel of Promises. I tried a playing with the wings a bit more. I kind of like how they turned out. What do you think?

Would love to hear your feedback.

Have a wonderful week!

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Thoughtful Thursday – Vegan Chocolate Smoothie

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Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.com

Ok, I confess I’m a chocoholic. But who doesn’t like chocolate? I mean it’s just awesome! There are so many varieties of chocolate out there like white, milk, dark and all flavors in between.

Besides tasting so delicious, studies have shown that dark chocolate, at least 75% or more has some pretty good health benefits too like reducing stress and food cravings, fighting fatigue, improving blood circulation and so much more. It’s even considered nutritious and contains nearly the full RDA of copper and manganese, plus it contains descent amounts of magnesium, iron, fiber, zinc, selenium and potassium.

The 75% dark chocolate has the least amount of sugar as compared to white or milk chocolate. So it won’t contribute to weight gain as long as you don’t over do it. What I have noticed personally is that the more sugar that’s in the chocolate, the more I’ll want to eat it. I find that with the darker chocolate I only need 1 square to satisfy chocolate craving and I’m good to go.

As most of you know, I’m vegan so I’m always looking for vegan chocolates. They do make more of them now and they’re very tasty but a little more pricey than regular chocolate. With that being said I’m always on the hunt for new ways to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

I found a great smoothie recipe online that I tried. It was good but just wasn’t satisfying that rich chocolatey flavor I was looking for so I made changes and came up with this delicious Vegan Chocolate Smoothie that has a rich chocolate flavor and contains about 16 grams of protein:

  • 1 C Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any unsweet non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Gluten Free Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Cacao Nibs or 1.5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (see note below*)
  • 2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp No Salt or Sugar Added Almond Butter
  • 2 Tsp Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Organic Date (pitt removed)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Instant Espresso Coffee
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1 C Ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!

(*) Although I love cacao nibs and all the antioxidants they provide, I found that using Cocoa Powder gives the smoothie a richer and creamier flavor.

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

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“I’d give up chocolate, but I’m not a quitter.” ~Unknown

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Thoughtful Thursday Vision Boards

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Vision boards are a way of putting your goals and dreams into one place so you can focus on them everyday and bring them to fruition. There are no rules for creating vision boards. They can be big or small, neat or messy, on a wall or foam board. You fill them with photos, words or both, it’s entirely up to you. Personally I like to use photos from magazines or the internet. They help me visualize my goals more easily.

Think about what you really desire in life maybe it’s better relationships, a better job, more time with the family, finding love, etc. Then find photos that relate to your desires and put them on the board. For example, if I’ve been dreaming about taking a cruise, I’ll look for an ad with a cruise ship and the destination I want to go to and put that photo on my board. If I want to get healthy and in shape, I’ll find a photo of an athlete and put that on my board.

The vision board will help you to attract the right circumstances in your life to make your desires a reality. It will also help keep you focused and on track. The photos will help you to visualize yourself in the circumstances you desire. But what is even more important is that you feel the positive emotion related to your desires whether it be joy, elation, happiness or any other strong positive emotion. And I don’t mean just think about the feeling, I want you to really feel the emotion in every cell in your body. Imagine yourself attaining your goal and think how good you’ll feel when your desire becomes a reality.

You want to keep the vision board in a place where you can see it everyday so you stay focused and have clarity on your goals and desires. The vision board will help keep your passion and energy fueled so you can attain your goals. Imagine the possibilities. The sky’s the limit so dream BIG!

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“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~Walter Elias Disney

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Thoughtful Thursday – Happy Birthday Chanel

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Chanel

I want to introduce you to Chanel, my other Sable Cocker Spaniel who is turning 9 years old today! She is a very special little girl who is my daily inspiration.

At 3 years old, Chanel went completely blind. At first she was upset and frustrated but a few days in, she mapped out the house by following the walls with her nose. She went around again mapping out where the furniture was and used her sniffer to determine what room she was in.

Chanel maintained her status as the alpha and learned new commands like follow me, stop, turn and listen to name a few. She had every reason to wake up unhappy with the hand that life dealt her, but she chose happiness. You see, Chanel never got the memo that she was blind and life should be over because of her disability. The only thing she knew was that life was going to be a little different from here on out. She still plays fetch but instead of looking for the ball with her eyes, she uses sound and smell to find it. It’s incredible to watch.

I know that if this would have happened to me I would’ve had a very hard time adjusting. Everyday I watch in awe as she navigates her day with courage and a heart filled with love. Chanel has a super wonderful attitude that gets her through life.

I wish we all had more of Chanel’s positive attitude. Life will always throw you curves balls and even knock you down sometimes. But you always need to find the positive in every situation, especially the challenging ones. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it just means it’s time to adjust to something new and see where that takes you on this incredible journey we call life. Remember, it is your attitude that determines your altitude.

Happy Birthday Chanel!

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“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.” ~Joyce Meyer

Rosie Angel Watercolor Journal Page

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My latest angel from my Strathmore 5.5″ x 8.5″ watercolor journal. Her name is Rosie. I tried limiting the colors in this one. I really like the iridescent blue that I used around the stars, in her hair and clothes. It has a beautiful shimmer. But looking at her, she reminds me of an Easter or Spring Angel.

What do you think? Would love to hear your feedback.

Have a wonderful week!

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Thoughtful Thursday – Goals

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At the beginning of the year, most of us set goals, our New Year’s Resolutions. Hard to believe that the first half of the year is coming to a close in another week. Where do you stand on your goals? Are you on track, or did you lose sight of where you wanted to be by now?

Life has a tendency to throw you one curve ball after another. But that’s okay as long as you don’t lose sight of your goals. It can get pretty frustrating when you veer off track and if you go off too far, then you may quit. But I’m here to cheer you on! Don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s been so much going on in the world so staying on track towards your goals can be rather difficult.

I know for me, I’ve had my fair share of curve balls thrown my way. But I decided to go easy on myself, it is what it is and I am where I am. I can’t change the past, nor does it do me any good to cry over spilled milk as the expression goes. So I’m looking ahead and making a few changes to help get me back on track. Here are a few pointers:

  • Start by reassessing where you currently are with your goals and where you feel you should be by the end of the year. What do you still need to do?
  • Next break down your goals into smaller attainable monthly goals. Notice I used the word “attainable.” Be honest with yourself on what you can accomplish in the next 6 months. Don’t set yourself up for failure by piling too much on your plate. For example if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t plan on losing 30 pounds in a month. Realistically, women lose an average of 3 lbs a week (12 lbs p/month) while men lose 5 lbs a week (20 lbs p/month). So be realistic with your goals and set yourself up to win, but at the same time still challenge yourself.
  • Next, take it another step further and break down your monthly goals into “attainable” weekly goals and schedule those into your week. Try to schedule 1 hour every day, more or less to work on your goals.
  • Before starting your day, review your schedule and get your mind ready to tackle your goals and cross that finish line victoriously by the end of the day!
  • At the end of the week, you should have made some progress towards your goals. If you went off course, take a look at the why and take action for the next week so it hopefully won’t happen again.

Your schedule will change because that’s just the way life is. So adjust course and keep going. You’re stronger than you thought and you need to give yourself credit for the wins, however small they may be, they all count!!

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“The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in NOT reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.” ~ Benjamin Mays

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Thoughtful Thursday – Father’s Day

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Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Father’s Day is fast approaching on Sunday, June 20th. It’s a day to remember and celebrate those great dads who are here with us today and also to honor those who may have passed.

It’s been said being a mother is one of the toughest jobs and it is, but it’s not exactly a walk in the park for Dads either. They work hard to protect their families and pass down to their kids the knowledge and skills they acquired throughout their lives. Dad’s also pass on their life long passions and hope that one day, their little ones will follow in their footsteps. So how will you honor that great man in your life?

If you’re stuck on what to do for dad this Father’s Day, here are a few ideas:

  • Make a handmade card with a personal photo.
  • Make a photo collage of memorable moments.
  • Have an outdoor celebration in the park, beach or your own backyard.
  • Take dad out on a sporting adventure of his choice.
  • Go camping for a night.
  • Cook his favorite dinner.
  • Build something fun together.
  • Spend a nice day together talking about fun memories.

“A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.” ~Uknown

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Liza Angel Watercolor Journal Page

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I haven’t posted an angel lately and I really miss my girls. I find such peace within when I paint them. It’s pure contentment and joy when I can get them out of my mind and on paper for everyone to see 😊

This is my latest angel in my Strathmore 5.5″ x 8.5″ Watercolor Journal, her name is Liza. I’m playing with different ideas on the wings to see how I like them.

What do you think? Would love to hear your feedback.

Have a beautiful week!

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Thoughtful Thursday – A Day at Lion Country Safari

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Lion Country Safari located in West Palm Beach, Florida was established in 1967 and sits on a whopping 320 acres. I remember my parents taking me when I was about 8 years old. And no, I’m not telling how many years ago that was, lol. But I remember thinking how cool it was that the animals got to roam free while we drove through the park in our car. They could come right up to us, and many did.

In March of this year, we did a family road trip and visited Lion Country Safari. It’s changed quite a bit since I was there last. Now they have an audio that we listened to through my cell phone that gave information about each group of animals we were seeing. The park is home to over 1,000 wild animals including lions, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, ostriches, and so many more.

The way it’s set up is each group of animals is in a different section, separated by a fence. This way the predators can’t get to their prey and everyone lives happily ever after 😊 Cars slowly drive through on the road and get to enjoy all the animals. As the cars exited the one section, they were all greeted by an ostrich who tapped each car’s windshield as if he were saying good bye. It was pretty funny watching him do this. Apparently, ostriches are attracted to shiny objects and the windshields were reflecting the sun that day.

Once you finish the drive through safari, you can enjoy the walk through section of the park with shops, food and more animals to see. You can even feed the lorikeets which my daughter and I did. They’re so beautiful with their bright colors.

If you have the chance to visit Florida, I highly recommend stopping at Lion Country Safari. It’s a beautiful and unique place to visit!

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“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ~Charles Darwin