I have Joined the A to Z Blog Challange

Starting in April, I will share my new obsession with you. I will explore the wonderful world of food, God given food that grows from the earth and nourishes our bodies. All the colors and textures create their own unique art work.

We’ll talk about everything from avocados to ugli fruit. Any excuse to take pictures. LOL

Why has this become an obsession? In the middle of February I made a commitment to myself that I would live a healthier life. Sitting in front of the computer and sitting in the car has taken a toll on my body and as I approach 50 I realized I had to make some changes. Some things happen to us beyond our control, but I can control what I put in my body and how I use the body God gave me.

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Noah inspired me with his no excuses motto – really how can I argue with him?

Last season of Dancing with the Stars, I fell in love with Noah Galloway. (the inspirational kind of love) I wanted that kind of determination in my life.

I knew I had it. It took will power to finish my master’s degree at forty.  To find ways to inspire students, To write a 60k word novel. To work until I got my story published. To keep writing in order to get more writing contracts. It wasn’t easy with a language disability (dysgraphia). With hard work and focus I accomplished my dreams and reached my goals.

 

Unfortunately at the expense of my health. I now need that drive and focus in order to reach my health goals. In doing so I have discovered the world of smoothies and the wonderful fruits and veggies that can go in them. Arranging the colors and selecting the flavors to combine have fired the creative side of my brain.

Do you have a favorite food that nourishes you, heart, mind and body?

As the sun sets on March I hope you walk along with me through my April journey.

Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Sunrise at the end of my road.

 

A Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving

I thank my parents for raising me as a horse loving Texas Hill Country girl.   Nine Thanksgiving ago my sisters and I lost my mother. We lost our father nineteen years ago. They loved family and every holiday, plus some we were making the rounds to visit loved ones. We were shown through example that family matters.

A few years ago my sisters and I started a new tradition for Thanksgiving. We rented a cabin by the Frio River in Leakey, Texas. (our parents married in Leakey) A cousin from my family and a cousin from my brother-in-law’s joined in and we stay for four days.

The rest of my mother’s family, including her mother, join us. We bounce between 30 to 50 people on Thursday.  In a world that moves fast and people spend more time looking down at a screen than into the face of real people, personal connections with extended family gives  us roots and a healthier life. As humans, the need for relationships with others and nature is built into our DNA. To me Thanksgiving is not  about the food…it’s the people and getting away from the rush of daily life.

Old Giant Oak tree in Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas.

These old trees make me think of how time moves and the world changes, but God is constant. We come and go but the world keeps turning. I love to take time and enjoy the peace these trees give me.

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Roads through the Texas Hill Country
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Taking time to walk off some of our Thanksgiving feast in the Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas

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Enjoying the Frio River even in the rain. Two aunts and uncle and one of my sisters. Leakey Texas
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It helps if you have someone that plays the guitar and maracas.

Play some games! How to have fun at a Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving.

My Grandmother and seven (of ten)of her great-grandchildren from her oldest child, my mother, Cindy French Guinther. She has a total of thirty great-grandchildren.

Longhorn on a  Texas Hill Country Ranch Country
Longhorn on a Texas Hill Country Ranch Country

Since we are on a Texas Hill Country ranch we have to include a Longhorn.

Even thought we had rain we had fun. You have to set your mind to it sometimes but it can always be found. Play in the Rain!

Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!
Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!

Play in the Rain! Life is too short to wait around for the right time. Give thanks for the rain and the sun, the wind and the opportunity to experience it all.

What do you do to connect with people or nature?

 

 

Moon over New York City.

U for Untied States of America all represented in New York……Home of the brave…

U for United States of America
U for United States of America

The United State of America…Home of the Brave…Sometimes they’re just words. Do you ever stop and think what they mean?

For many it was and is leaving everything you know for a hope of something better. In New York City the storyteller in me became enthralled, I felt the shadow of fear, hope and determination left by millions of immigrants. I could imagine them seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time after a long grueling voyage.

Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo  taken by Jolene Navarro
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo taken by Jolene Navarro
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
New York, surrounded by water
New York, surrounded by water. Photo by Jolene Navarro

On 9/11 the fear as they tried to flee on boats that were taking people away from the horrific destruction. The day we all turned to New York, helpless. Just like everything else on this small piece of Earth the 9/11 Memorial is overwhelming.

911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro
911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro

I walk the streets of New York, filled with people from around the world that now make America their home – the history, spirit and feel of America was in every stone, brick, window and steel frame that makes up the city. I have to say man’s ability to create a habitat beyond our imagination is awe inspiring and maybe a bit scary.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

The old reflected in the new.

Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Sensory overload in New York City.
Sensory overload in New York City. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Central Park - Loved this part of New York.
Central Park – Loved this part of New York.
Approaching Central Park
Approaching Central Park
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.
The Financial District.
The Financial District.
View from the Financial District.
View from the Financial District. Photo by Jolene Navarro

Then there is the art…everywhere.

New York Art
New York Art photo by Jolene Navarro

One thing that was suggested to us was to go to the website of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and map out what you want to see and go to those rooms first. This is a must or you might miss the art you really want to see – there is no way to see this museum in one day. They art they house is incredible so go with a plan and when you see the originals up close…well words can not do the emotions justice.  I could do a whole blog on the art of New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies. By Jolene Navarro
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas

To see the textures and colors up close is simply amazing. Even if you can’t make it to the museum, you should follow them on facebook. They share a piece of art each day.

http://www.metmuseum.org/visit

This summer I get to go back to New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. I’m excited to go back to the city. Is there a place you would love to visit again? Have you been to New York? What is your MUST do when you are in the city.

Embracing Failure leads to joy and success!

Below is a link to a blog I wrote for the Craftie Ladies of Romance. What are the three things you need for a successful year? What about embracing failure, creating community and resilience? Hit the link below and read more about it.

All the things I need for a great 2015.

I want to thank my family for such a great year.

Enjoying Life.
Enjoying Life. My Hero Fred.
Bon fire and family
A year ago for my birthday family gathering around the bon fire
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A dream coming true. Lower Manhattan – It amazes me how so many people can live in such a small space. It looks as if it could just fall of the little piece of land.
Times Square with Fred. A dream coming true.
Times Square with Fred. A dream coming true.
June is the West Texas A&M writer's Academy with Jodi Thomas, Alex Sokoloff and Sasha Summers
June is the West Texas A&M writer’s Academy with Jodi Thomas, Alex Sokoloff and Sasha Summers
RWA panel about the truth of the Texas cowboy
RWA panel about the truth of the Texas cowboy
Great times with family and friends at Port A on the Texas coast
Great times with family and friends at Port A on the Texas coast
My parent had three girls who gave them ten  grand-kids - ten grand kids that love each other so much. Annual pumpkin carving slam down
My parent had three girls who gave them ten grand-kids – ten grand kids that love each other so much. Annual pumpkin carving slam down

 

Talking about How We Liove Our Heros at the Rita's & Readers in Dallas. With Jolene Navarro, Jade Lee & Julie Ann Walker
Talking about How We Love Our Heroes at the Rita’s & Readers in Dallas. With Jolene Navarro, Jade Lee & Julie Ann Walker
Best Group of writers an author could hang out with. San Antonio Romance Authors
Best Group of writers an author could hang out with. San Antonio Romance Authors
Family makes the year full of joy even if you only see them on the holidays - maybe because you only see them on the holidays. lol
Family makes the year full of joy even if you only see them on the holidays – maybe because you only see them on the holidays. lol
Here's to many more smiles in 2015
Here’s to many more smiles in 2015

Wow – Looking back on the year and finding my highlights I was amazed at the wonderful people that have been brought into my life. Some long term and had no choice, family is family, others have come in and guided me and came with so much love I have a hard time believing it.  Thank you.

The Tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns has Christian roots.

Why do we carve designs into pumpkins? Did you know it has Christian roots?

The tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns came to the USA from the way of our Irish immigrants. Did you know that the original Jack-O-Lanterns were carved into beets, turnips & potatoes?

Like most traditions it starts with a myth, a story created to warn children to behave or you’ll end up like poor “Stingy Jack”.

“Stingy Jack” was an Irish man that loved playing tricks on people and thought he could outsmart the devil. It all started when he invited Mr. Satan to sit next to him and have a drink. Being the stingy guy he was, he talked the devil into paying for the drinks.

He challenged Satan to turn himself into a coin that Jack would use to pay for the drinks, Coin in hand Jack left the bar tab unpaid and put the coin in his pocket, next to a silver cross. This of course trapped the Devil from changing back.
Jack laughed at his joke. He thought he was so smart for tricking the Devil. Making a deal, he finally allowed the Devil free of the coin, with a vow that the Devil could not claim his soul.

A year later, just to prove how smart he was, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing a tree for a piece of fruit on one of the highest branches. The Devil’s pride once again had him falling for Jack’s ploy. While Satan reached for the fruit, Jack carved a cross into the trunk, trapping the Devil once again.

This time he made the Devil promise not to bother him for ten years. Before the decade was up though, Jake died.
Now the story tells of Jake’s true fate. God, not pleased with how Jack had chosen to spend his life, would not allow him into heaven. If he wanted to play with the Devil than the Devil could have him.

Of course the Devil had vowed not to claim Jack’s soul, so he was left with no where to go. Sent out into the darkness with nothing but a lump of burning coal that he carried in a carved out turnip. Jack wondered the earth looking for someone to play a trick on.

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Classic, Sugar Skull and Astronaut Jack O’Lanterns by Tate Navarro, Jolene Navarro and Jackson Ward

The Irish refer to him as “Jack of the Lantern” of course being Irish, it became Jack O’Lantern. Throughout Ireland and Scotland families started making their own versions of Jack-O-Lanterns by carving spooky designs into turnips and beets.

They placed them on window edges and next to doors in order to keep bad spirits away.

When the immigrants arrived to the shores of the new country they shared their stories and traditions. Soon they discovered that the native fruit, pumpkin, made a perfect canvas for the artistic carvings.

Any good story told has a moral, a lesson to learn, so next time you see a Jack-O-Lantern remember that pride will get you in trouble and never try to outsmart the devil. It will always lead to misfortune.

Cousins & Pumpkins
Cousins & Pumpkins on the doorstep. Katrina Navarro and Jackson Ward photo by Jolene Navarro

Do you have a family story that is told as a warning?

With age, you s…

With age, you see people fail more. You see yourself fail more. How do you keep that fearlessness of a kid? You keep going. Luckily, I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself. – Hugh Jackman

In the A to Z blogging challange we have arrived to the letter  J….uhmm…what do you think comes to mind?  I know an actor that has the last name of Jackman.

Is that Hugh Jackman on my blog again? He really needs to stop following me.
Is that Hugh Jackman on my blog again? He really needs to stop following me.

Another J that brings me joy is Jackson Pollock – “I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”

Jackson Pollock 1946 Eyes in the Heat
Jackson Pollock 1946 Eyes in the Heat

If you have never “dripped painted” before, you should try it…it really is a joyful experience.

Jackson Pollock Number 8 1949
Jackson Pollock Number 8 1949

Now that I think about it – the person that brings me the most joy is Fred, his real name is Jesus. Yes, ironic because that makes me think of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who I give joyful thanks for everything in my life. The word teaches us to live a life without fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(self-control, really? – the whole eating habit thing keeps haunting me.)

What inspires you? How do you get past the fear to be the person you where created to be? Fearless?

F is for Flowers or Football?

The Bluebonnet is the most famous of the all the Texas wildflowers
The Bluebonnet is the most famous of the all the Texas wildflowers

It’s spring time, so here in the Texas Hill Country the wildflowers are blooming. Our most famous flower is the beautiful Bluebonnet.

Blooms at the old homestead at the VanPelt Ranch in Con Can Texas
Blooms at the old homestead at the VanPelt Ranch in Con Can Texas
Bluebonnets in Boerne
Bluebonnets in Boerne

Texas wildflowers are hardy, strong and independent, while maintaining their natural beauty. The people of Texas share many of the traits.
Another of my favorites ways to spend time is watching football. Yes my husband coaches it and my boys play it. My daughters truly enjoyed their time playing power-puff football

Storm's Sr. year - on the line. Ended the game as MVP.
Storm’s Sr. year – on the line. Ended the game as MVP.
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This year was my oldest son’s last year to play, my youngest has at least two more years. So I still have a bit of drama, conflict and excitement for a few future Friday nights.

Friday Night Lights in Texas means High School Football
Friday Night Lights in Texas means High School Football
Tate Navarro Defending the line
Tate Navarro Defending the line

Just for fun I’ll throw in a bit of NFL action.

Julius Thomas running with the ball.
Julius Thomas running with the ball.

So are you more of a flower fairy or a football fan?

E for Eating Habits – Good, Bad & Ugly

We use to know our food – we grew it, we gathered it or we stalked it. I remember my parent’s huge garden. We would eat corn and green beans right off the plant. It was so good.
Now-a-days it seems my family has become separated from the source of our life.

But eating is also the heart of our culture – we use it to celebrate, socialize and grieve. Joy, comfort and grief are wrapped up in our food.
When we are not sure what to do we will reach out with food. It’s no wonder we can develop an unhealthy relationship with the source of our health.
My goal is to become a more conscious eater.

One of my family’s favorites.

Ready to Roast Fresh Brussel Sprouts & Carrots
Open grilled burgers are a favorite at home or festivals

St. Raymond Catholic Church
Open grill at Leakey’s July Jubilee

What is a festival without funnel cake. If you only eat it once a year – that’s not bad is it?

Funnel Cake!
Funnel Cake!
When I was little I couldn't eat asparagus, now it is one of my favorites
When I was little I couldn’t eat asparagus, now it is one of my favorites
How can you go wrong with beacon, cream cheese and a pepper.
How can you go wrong with beacon, cream cheese and a pepper.

Fast food and eating in the car is just about as ugly as it gets. I would put a picture, but I don’t want any evidence that I have ever done that.
Do you have foods you love that are not good for you or do you love the foods that are good for you?

B is for Bergmann Lumber in Beautiful Boerne Texas

From weddings to Homecoming pep rallies, Art & Craft fairs  to live German music it is the heart of our Main Street - Taken by Jolene Navarro
From weddings to Homecoming pep rallies, Art & Craft fairs to live German music it is the heart of our Main Street – Taken by Jolene Navarro

Living is Boerne is a little slice of apple pie with a bit of cheesecake on the side. Over the years it has more than doubled in size, but still has that hometown, main street American feeling.

One of the best things about this Hill Country town is places Like Bergmann Lumber that will help out a friend by keeping her book on their shelves. So if you need a copy of Lone Star Holiday you can stop by and pick one up while your buying those tools and nails.

I want to Congratulate Bergmann Lumber Company on being awarded today the Texas Treasure Business Award!!! Family owned and operated since 1957.

Main Street Boerne Texas, Bergmann Lumber. Family owned for three generations.  Taken by Jolene Navarro
Main Street Boerne Texas, Bergmann Lumber. Family owned for three generations. Taken by Jolene Navarro
Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main Taken by Jolene Navarro
Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main Taken by Jolene Navarro

Do you have a favorite event or place in Boerne. Maybe you have your own favorite small town?

Dancing in the Rain, New York Style.

Our second day in New York and the weather has been a pleasant surprise, cool and sunny. After a day at the museums (picture to come later), we headed to Times Square. Have to say, I felt as if we had fallen into the land of the unknown giants. Image

Everything is louder, faster, and taller. The rain started as we waited for our night tour to start. So we ran to the Hershey Store.

More chocolate than one person can handle at the Time Square Hershey Store in New York
More chocolate than one person can handle at the Time Square Hershey Store in New York

Than the M&M store.

Hanging out in the M&M Store, waiting for our tour to start.
Hanging out in the M&M Store, waiting for our tour to start.
Times Square from the M&M Store
Times Square from the M&M Store

As the rain came down, some people left. Being from Texas we always love the rain. I do have to say it was not cold, so that made it easier to handle.

Time Square New York, - view from the M&M store
Time Square New York, – view from the M&M store
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.

Even with my dead phone and camera – we had a great time dancing in the rain New York Style.

Dancing in the Rain - Times Square New Yourk
Dancing in the Rain – Times Square New Yourk