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Little Cigar Shop in Key West

When I was a little girl my grandma kept things in cigar boxes.  I thought they were so neat, magical if you will.  They were a little hard to open if the lid was mashed in but you never knew what sort of treasure you were going to find inside.  They don't make boxes like that anymore, they make a more modern kind that just don't seem as magical to me, perhaps it's the fact that I'm a grown up now...nah, it's the box.  Anyway, I'm talking about cigar boxes because on a little jaunt to Key West the other day, as we were walking down the street we were about to pass a cigar shop and as I turned around Hubby had stopped to peruse.  Well, at least I though he had just stopped to peruse because as far as I was aware of he didn't smoke cigars.
I followed him inside and he was actually looking at the cigars seriously as I was looking at the way they had the cigars displayed.  I thought they were artfully arranged so I pulled my camera out and snapped a few pretty neat photos.

                                          Welcome to The Island Cigar Factory in Key West!

 Look at all of those cigars!  I love the way they are displayed.  The red coupled with browns and blacks.
                                These wooden boxes that the cigars are displayed in are so cool.
                                                     Each cigar is individually wrapped.
                                         And this sign on top of these cigars says it all; Cuba!

So, as I finished up taking photos I looked over at Hubby who was now seriously talking to the gal in the shop about cigars.  Huh?  Next thing I know he's buying three of them.  I think well, I guess he's maybe getting them for a friend, perhaps a souvenir?  But when we got home, I went to get dressed for dinner and walked out of the bedroom looking around for Hubby.  I glanced out on the balcony only to find him smoking a stogie.  Oh my dear goodness...he's taking this "When in Rome" thing a little too far I think.

Fishing in The Florida Keys & Reese's Book Club Reading

We are settling in here in Cudjoe Key.  Got all unpacked and bought groceries.  Right now our lazy days consist of Hubby fishing and me reading.  For now that's just fine with me.  Yesterday as Hubby was leaving for fishing I called out, "Bring dinner home!"  And he did.



So while he was fishing, I was reading.  I usually only use my Kindle to read on but I decided I wanted to hold a real book in my hand so I grabbed a few to bring along with me.  I was walking through Marshall's one day before I left and came upon A Wrinkle in Time just laying there.  It's one of the books I never read when taking a children's literature course in college but always wanted to.  I picked it up for just a few dollars and yes, I know it's a movie now but there is just something about the written word AND there are follow-up books that I can read too!

And then I found out that Reese Witherspoon has a book club...What?!  How did I not know this?  Anyway, as I was scrolling through Instagram one day I noticed that she was holding up a book and mentioned that it was her new book club selection.  So I googled it (of course...) and found an entire list of books that she had recommended on Instagram which all sound great (and several I had already read).  There are 15 that I'm really interested in so as I was shopping in Sam's Club one day I found a copy of The Light We Lost and am currently reading it AND A Wrinkle in Time simultaneously.  FYI, if you are looking for great children's books and adult novels go to Sam's Club; they have the BEST books at great prices!  Now is the perfect time to start making your summer reading list so check out Reese's picks!

Life in The Keys...I could sure get use to this!


Arriving in Cudjoe Key

We drove for 2 days and finally arrived in Cudjoe Key Sunday afternoon late.  It was a long drive from Louisiana with bouts of heavy rain along the way.  But well worth it to wake up to sunshine in the sky, a warm breeze and soul soothing water within eye's distance from our balcony.

It is so peaceful here; the quite and solitude.  Not even a lot of noise as I sit outside.  I can hear the fronds of the palm leaves being blown by the wind; occasionally the hum of a car as it passes in the distance.

I was totally at odds whenever we booked our trip for 2 months this year because my mother was either dying or had just passed away.  I can't remember which because I seemed to have drifted around in a daze for well over a month after her death.  But Hubby knew.  He knew that this would be just what I (we) needed.  A calm in the storm so to speak.  And for his intuitive foresight, I am thankful.

Often times it takes me a while to settle into a new place but this place felt like home instantly and I sleep well during a rainy night and awoke to the sun shining brightly.  As I try to make it through this grieving process, I am attempting to take care of myself, almost habitually if you will.  I'm trying to set new patterns and habits that are good for me.  Thinking of the good instead of dwelling on my sadness.  So, I got up and fixed myself a cup of warm lemon juice that I have been drinking every morning and then settled into a session of yoga (I brought my mat so that I could do this daily either here, by myself, or in a studio nearby.)  The soft music coupled with the flow had me feeling really pretty good.  That is until I laid completely still during savasana.  The words and music began to play and for some reason my mother's face popped into my head and tears began to flow down my cheeks.  It's the first time that has happened during yoga for me, although others have said it's happened to them; deep emotions being pulled to the surface.  I told myself it was OK; that grieving is just a normal process.  Just move with the ebb and flow of it.

I got up and grabbed a cup of coffee, my Bible and study books and made my way to the upper deck where I sat reflecting.  And truth be told, I could sit up there all day long with the gently breeze blowing its warmness across my face.  And I may just do that some days.  Well, at least while Hubby is either fiddling with his fishing gear or fishing.  But I must say that I do believe that this place is pretty perfect and I intend to soak up every bit of it for the next couple of months.

Blueberries, Butter and Lickin' the Bowl

Whenever I got married and moved away from home, it wasn't long before I was right back next door to my mother...for about 13 years.  You see, we didn't have a lot of money and had a baby on the way.  We wanted to move out of our apartment so we purchased a mobile home and plopped it down on portion of the land my mother owned.

Living next door to my mother had it's advantages for sure.  She and my step-father grew several huge gardens every year.  There were always fresh vegetables to be had and a hot pone of cornbread on the stove.  My kids grew up eating out of those gardens so they ate pretty healthy for the most part.  Along with the gardens, my mother had a fruit orchard.  There were all sorts of fruits to be found growing out there but one of my favorites were the blueberries.  

There were always a lot of blueberries each year, so many that my mother gave me her homemade muffin recipe and we would fold those fresh blueberries into the mixture to make the most delicious blueberry muffins you have ever tasted.  Last week as I was looking through my cookbook, I came upon that recipe and was so excited because you see, it had been years since I made those muffins.  I'm pretty sure all of the kids were still at home and that was back when I wasn't so worried about consuming carbs or my weight in general.  But whenever I found that recipe...nothing else mattered except making a batch of them.

Now, the blueberries weren't blooming yet so I went to the grocery store and bought some.  I waited until Sunday afternoon when everything was slow and lazy and I began to take all of the ingredients out.  Hubby, who was watching The Masters, kept looking over toward the kitchen and finally asked, "What are you making?"  I asked him if he remembered those homemade blueberry muffins I used to make and he nodded.  "That's what I'm making", I said.

I thought perhaps I should share the recipe with y'all but first there are a couple of things you must do if you decided to make these muffins:
     .You must use fresh blueberries.
     .You must lick the beaters and bowl after you pop them in the oven.
     .You definitely must eat them hot, right out of the oven with a big ole pat of butter on them.
Now, if you think you can abide by all of those musts, then let's get to it and make some of the yummiest blueberry muffins you will ever put in your mouth!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (5 1/3 T.)
1/2 cu milk
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

 Rinse the blueberries and leave to drain while  pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees and mixing the    
 other ingredients.

Beat the butter and sugar together.

Add vanilla and egg.  Beat well.  Then begin to add flour and milk alternately a little at a time.

Before folding blueberries in gently with a spoon, toss them in sugar.

 Spray the muffin pans and bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven until golden brown.

Pop them out on a plate while still hot.

Slice them open and put butter on them.
YUM!








FREE Downloadable Kitchen Prints

I don't know about you, but I am always on the lookout for unique decorative items for my home.  With the farmhouse trend these days, I have found some great prints to purchase and frame.  There are a variety of themes to be found:  holiday, family, religious.  Today, I am offering a look at the most adorable kitchen prints!  There are a total of 28 to choose from and one for every type of home decor out there.  And...they are absolutely FREE to you!  Here are a few of my favorites:
These prints of herbs are just lovely.  Each printed separately can make a great collage for the kitchen and I'm thinking of printing them off on watercolor paper to add some texture to them.

Are you a wine lover?  Possibly have a wine rack in your kitchen?  How unique would this print be to frame and put above it?

Coffee Bars are the latest trend for homes and this print would be ideal to include with a collage of other farmhouse items.

I don't know what it is about lemons.  Perhaps it has something to do with my maiden name being Lemmons or the fact that I love lemonade on a hot summer day or that lemons have such a refreshing, clean scent.  Whatever the reason, I LOVE anything to do with lemons!  This is definitely a must-have print for me.

Another great idea for these prints is to download them and have them framed for gifts.  Mother's Day is coming up and what about a birthday present or even putting them away for Christmas gifts?  The possibilities are endless and I'm so excited to have such an awesome opportunity at the click of my fingers!

How To Help Your Kids Make Healthy Choices

Henry Moore from Fit Well Traveler  is back as a guest blogger today with such a great article on how to get your kids to make healthy choices.  With obesity being such a problem these days, not only with adults but children as well, it would only make sense that we teach our children at a young age how to make healthy choices so that bad ones don't become instilled in them.  Henry offers some really great tips which if turned into habits could serve the next generation well  as prevention for not having serious obesity-related health issues.



As a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. It’s your responsibility as the adult to raise your child to make great choices. When helping your child live a healthy lifestyle, it comes down to diet and exercise. Below, we’ve listed some tips on how to help your child stay healthy and active throughout his childhood and into adult life.

Eat breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We know that mornings can be busy while you get ready for work. Aim for a couple of days a week to try and make it fun with some healthy delicious options. Instead of oatmeal or a bowl of cereal, try whipping up some scrambled eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast. Or, you could teach your kids to use a blender so they can make their own smoothies in the morning. They can add in fun fruit such as strawberries, bananas, blackberries or blueberries. 


Limit sweetened beverages

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 30 percent of kids in the United States consume two or more sugary beverages a day. When kids consume that much sugar on a daily basis, they are more prone to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cavities and high cholesterol. Watch how much sugar your child has on any given day. Beverages including sodas, juices, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened teas and coffees can contain a high amount of sugar and should be limited. Instead, try having your child drink more water or milk to help them stay hydrated without all the added sugar.

Don’t put a television in their bedroom

Is your child performing poorly in school or not sleeping well at night? The television in their bedroom may be the culprit. When your child watches TV in his or her bedroom, you aren’t aware of what they’re watching and for how long. To curb this unhealthy habit, take the television out of their room and only allow them to watch it in the living room. This will encourage them to pursue other healthy hobbies or interests at night, such as reading. 

Serve fruits and vegetables daily

The amount of fruit and vegetables your child should consume on a daily basis will depend on their age. Toddlers need approximately one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables every day, while 9-13-year olds need about one and a half servings of each a day. Fruits can include apples, bananas and grapes. Vegetables can include broccoli, peas, carrots and corn. The more color, the better. 

Exercise regularly

Your child should try to get at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis. While this may seem like a lot, your child is probably already achieving this. Exercise can include bike riding, gymnastics, playing soccer, or riding around the neighborhood on their Razor scooter. If your child isn’t getting enough exercise, try and take them outside more often. Go to the park and throw a Frisbee around or sign them up for a sport after school, such as tennis. Getting them used to physical activity is the important part, but remember to have fun! 

If you follow the above recommendations, you can help your child grow up to make the best choices for themselves. By introducing regular physical activity and a good diet early on, it will help them live their best life.


Photo: Unsplash

Hop On Over To Get Free Fun Themed Spring Worksheets!

Spring is here and boy am I happy about the warmer weather!  Spring Break for teachers and students is either over or almost over and those kiddos are beginning to feel restless as they can surely feel that summer vacation is only months away.  Keep them interested in learning by offering something new.  Having fun and learning can be achieved by using themed activities.  That's why today I am offering a FREE SPRING activity page for kids that teachers, parents AND kids will love!  Children can practice their spelling skills with this fun word search activity and you can also visit Education.com for more awesome themed activities to keep your child interested and engaged in learning throughout the entire year!






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