Family Thanksgiving Gathering

What a blessed day. Our children, two of our grandchildren, and Greg and I enjoyed a family Thanksgiving gathering. The event was hosted this year by daughter Adriel and her husband Nate in their home.

My five gratitudes were easy to identify.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering


I love when my adult children and their families can gather together. It’s not a simple task, with work schedules. I appreciate the effort each person makes.

Today everyone was present except for grandsons Jonathan, Joey and Oliver. Conversations flowed, laughter rolled, smiles and hugs were easily given. I sat back during dinner and watched my children, who have grown into phenomenal adults. They’ve had their share of challenges and yet they continually rise above and grow through the experiences. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I am grateful for…FAMILY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Good Food

Adriel and Nate prepared a traditional turkey dinner, with family favorites such as Settler Baked Beans, cheesy peas, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Megan made a cheese ball, buffalo wing dip, and cheesecake brownies. It was a feast, indeed!

Greg and I are plant based. We brought along stuffed acorn squash to serve as our main dish. And we contributed black bean & corn salsa, raw cranberry relish, a big chopped salad, vegan pumpkin bread and vegan wacky cupcakes. Coconut cream whip and walnuts were available as toppings.

It was such a pleasant and enjoyable meal. I was full, without feeling uncomfortably stuffed, satisfied with good, healthy food.

I am grateful for…GOOD FOOD.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Mimi’s Olive Dish

I used a vintage dish at the family Thanksgiving gathering, that belonged to Greg’s mother Leta. Mimi Leta served up olives in the dish, during special gatherings or Sunday meals.

I thought it would be fun to use the dish in memory of this sweet lady, especially since yesterday was Bob and Leta’s wedding anniversary. They would have been married 77 years. We piled black olives in the dish and the sight brought back happy memories. I totally failed to get a photo while the dish held olives. Sometimes I take off the blogger hat.


Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Happy Birthday Nate

Tomorrow my son-in-law Nate turns 37 years old. We celebrated him today, which is perfect as we are so thankful for him. Adriel made a spice birthday cake.

Our family is blessed to have Nate. This sincere and kind young man has a generous and loving heart. He and Adriel have built a wonderful life together and I’m excited to see what they accomplish as they journey.


Family Thanksgiving Gathering

MiliLou Styles

Daughter-in-law Megan and her sister Tara have started a side business, making and selling earrings, hair bows and t-shirts. These hard working girls get together a couple of times a week and create.

Megan brought some of her inventory to our family Thanksgiving gathering. Elissa and I purchased earrings. I love the bar earrings with silver trim that I bought. And I found a set of earrings with feathers on them…a perfect representation of my symbol for 2018.

Check out the MiliLou Styles Facebook Page.


Family Thanksgiving Gathering


Thanksgiving is a day set aside for expressing thanks and counting blessings and gathering with friends and family. I love Thanksgiving. And I’m mindful that every day is a good day to express thanks and feel grateful for the rich blessings in my life.

I am grateful…

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

At this late hour, I’ve completed food prep for tomorrow and cleaned up the wonderful messes I make as I cook. I look forward to getting to bed and to a fun day with family tomorrow. The Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes post will therefore be brief, but no less full of joy and thankfulness for the day.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

O Christmas Tree

I took advantage of mild temperatures this afternoon and snagged a Christmas tree. For the first time, I debated whether to purchase a freshly cut tree this year. I have green, living plants in the house, including two small evergreen type trees that could serve as Christmas trees.

However, I really enjoy the scent and the sight of a fresh tree, although I’ve downsized in recent years to trees that stand six feet tall. The thought of not having a tree made me feel sad, and that won’t do. I purchased a little beauty that I’ll decorate over the weekend. I’m grateful for the sunny weather today and for the great selection of trees at Lowe’s Garden Center.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

Free Movie with MoviePass

I’m a member of MoviePass, which means for $9.95 a month I can watch up to three movies per month, for free. This service has changed considerably since I joined last January. I recently wrote to the company and expressed concern about limited movie availability. I received a gracious reply and availability increased shortly thereafter.

When I checked the app today, I saw Bohemian Rhapsody was a free choice. I’ve seen the film, paid for that viewing, and loved the biopic so much that I had decided if it came up as a freebie, I’d be seeing it again. This day was full. However thanks to some planning, and Greg taking care of an errand for me, I was able to squeeze in a mid afternoon show. I’m so grateful for my MoviePass card and another opportunity to watch this incredible movie.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack

After enjoying the second viewing of Bohemian Rhapsody, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I downloaded the soundtrack to my phone. Movie soundtracks are one of my favorite genres. Listening to the flow of songs reminds me of the corresponding scenes from the film.

The Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack features 22 Queen songs. I love to have music playing anytime I’m cooking or cleaning in the kitchen. Tonight as I prepped food for tomorrow, I rocked out to Queen, singing my heart out. Freddie Mercury would either cringe…or be proud! I continue to feel gratitude for this extraordinary man who lived out his truth.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

Thanksgiving Eve Food Prep

Listening to Queen made my cooking tasks flow smoothly. In a couple of hours, I prepared five dishes that will go to my daughter’s house tomorrow. The stuffed acorn squash was already prepped and in the fridge, ready to go.

This evening I made a chopped veggie salad, black bean and corn salsa, raw cranberry relish, vegan wacky cupcakes and vegan pumpkin bread. I’m grateful for vibrant food and healthy treat options, and for the opportunity to gather with my children and grandchildren tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

Thanksgiving Eve Full Moon

I had to slip outside and attempt a photo of the gorgeous full moon. The iPhone camera has a difficult time focusing on an object that is so far away. The photo doesn’t adequately capture the moon’s beauty.

However, I appreciated the sight and felt uplifted. My name, Cynthia, is the Greek form of the moon goddess Artemis. Perhaps because of that, I’ve always felt a connection to the silvery moon. It does not shine with its own light, but reflects the sun’s brilliance. I like that too. My desire is to be a reflector of light and honor my name.

I stood for a moment, gazing up at the moon. My heart overflowed with the gratitudes for this day, and also for the many blessings in my life. As this month of expressing daily gratitudes winds down, I am truly thankful for the heightened awareness and a greater perspective that this journey has brought.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

Thanksgiving Eve Gratitudes

Thankful for Habits of Health

As I prepared for a busy day, two days before Thanksgiving, I was especially thankful for habits of health. In a rush to get out the door, it would have been easier to skip my normal health boosting drinks and just grab a piece of fruit to go. It would not have been better, however. Habits kicked in. I’m grateful.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Celery Juice for Healthy Digestion

Celery juice is a health elixir. It’s the first change I made in my diet, more than two and a half years ago. The difference in my digestive health has been profound. Celery is an alkalizing food that counters acidity in the body, easing stomach disorders and calming the intestinal tract. I feel the difference, if I go without celery juice for several days. Read more about the benefits of celery juice HERE.

On a busy day, I need to take the time to care for myself in powerful ways. Standing in the kitchen, drinking 16 ounces of fresh celery juice was exactly how I needed to begin my day. To prepare, wash one bunch of celery, trim off leaves (juice can be bitter with the leaves) and run stalks through a juicer. One bunch of celery makes 12 – 16 ounces. Drink immediately.

I’m thankful for this green juice.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Detox Smoothie

While I sipped celery juice I prepared my second morning drink. I alternate each day between a fruit smoothie and a detox smoothie. It was a detox day. My 32 ounce drink contained 1 banana, 1 pear, 1 orange, 1 cup of wild blueberries, a handful of fresh cilantro, fresh aloe vera gel, and a spoonful each of hemp seeds, chaga mushroom powder, Atlantic sea dulse and Hawaiian spirulina. Typically I include barley grass juice powder too. I’m out and have more on the way.

I’m grateful for this powerful drink as well. It pulls heavy metals and toxins from my liver, thyroid, and brain. Drinking this yummy mix eliminated restless legs syndrome, something I suffered with since childhood. When I travel overseas, I drink a detox smoothie every day for the 30 days prior to flying. I travel well as a result, without restless legs or leg cramps.

I’m thankful that these strong habits overruled my perceived need to skip my morning routine and get out the door. My body benefitted as did my day.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This time of year people ask me what I eat during the holidays. They are curious. Do I stay plant based?

I do. I know I would not feel well if I spent even one day eating meat or indulging in foods rich in dairy products, refined sugar and eggs. For Thanksgiving, my family gets together. My adult kids prepare a traditional meal. I bring along plant based foods for me and Greg to eat and to share.

I tried out two new holiday worthy recipes, with great success! Find both recipes HERE.

I won’t be eating turkey and all the fixings. Instead I’ll dine on acorn squash stuffed with a delicious rice, pear, cranberry and veggie “dressing”. With something new, I do a trial run. I made enough to take to the family meal on Thursday. The savory blend of veggies with pears and cranberries was wonderful and the squash was tasty as well.

I’m thankful for plant based options that are “fancy” enough for holiday meals.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

In lieu of sugary desserts after the Thanksgiving meal, I’m offering a light, subtly spiced pumpkin bread. Dairy, gluten and egg free, the recipe uses coconut sugar and pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

This was my first time preparing a vegan pumpkin bread. It won’t be my last! The loaf has a rustic look, however it is moist and slices perfectly. I enjoyed a couple of slices of pumpkin bread with hot tea, after dinner. It was so incredibly good. I’ll prepare another loaf tomorrow night, to share Thursday.

I’m thankful for gluten free products and options such as maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Clear Skin Tea Blend

I ended this long day with a custom made tea blend. I’ve been reading Liver Rescue by Anthony William. It’s such an amazing book and I’m grateful for Anthony and all the healing information he provides. I’m excited to experience this next level of health that focusing on my liver will provide.

Reading about how healthy skin is connected to the health of my liver, I realized I had several of the herbs Anthony recommends as supplements. I combined them to create my own clear skin tea blend.

In 2 cups of very hot water, I combined 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm, 1 teaspoon dried licorice root, and 1 teaspoon dried nettle. After steeping for 15 minutes, I sipped my special blend. It was so refreshing, so good. Each of these herbs supports and enhances liver function and heals and soothes an overheated liver burdened with toxins. Cleansing the liver ensures healthy, radiant skin and slows the signs of aging.

I’m thankful for the healing power of foods. I’ll be drinking this tea several times a week.

My day is ending, as it began, with drinks that nourish me at a deep level. I’m thankful that I’ve created health habits that support me and keep me healthy.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Counting My Blessings: 5 Daily Gratitudes

Working in my creative studio today, appreciating the sunlight streaming in and my little gratitude pumpkin, I realized I was counting my blessings, literally. November brings with it Thanksgiving, a holiday grounded in being grateful. I’m inspired this month to practice intentional gratitude, in a new way.

In the past I’ve kept a blessing journal, writing down five or ten things daily that I’m grateful for. If you’re never kept a gratitude journal, it’s harder than you think to come up with new lists of blessings each day.

This year I choose to use the blog to chronicle five blessings a day, five things I am thankful for, and capture them by way of photos and a few words.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5 Daily Gratitudes

This exercise raises my awareness of the many blessings in my life. When I keep a journal, I may write down things I’m thankful for that are unconnected to the day I just experienced. Mountains may go on the list, or Scotland, or walking in nature.

The difference this year is that I’m taking a photo of each person, thing, place or experience that I’m thankful for. These will be real time blessings, encountered throughout my day. Such a game keeps me mindful, engaged, in the flow and open to receive, since I can’t plan every blessing in advance.

Today’s blessings:

1. Appreciation for My Creative Studio

I recently cleared this room of clutter, again, and added inspiring items to keep me motivated and moving forward toward my dreams. I’m dearly loving this space, and spending a great deal of time in this pretty little room. In the afternoon sunlight filters in through the six windows, enchanting me and reminding me to take a break and have tea time.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

2. Hibiscus Lemonade

I made this healthy, easy to prepare drink this afternoon instead of hot tea. The recipe comes from Anthony William, and it’s included in his new release Liver Rescue. I’m grateful for the delicious tart flavor and the healing benefits of this lemonade.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons dried hibiscus or 2 hibiscus tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes at least. Strain tea into a mug and place in fridge to chill.

In a small pitcher whisk together 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 4 tablespoons raw organic honey, until honey is dissolved. When hibiscus tea is cooled, stir into lemonade. Enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

Read about the health benefits of hibiscus.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

3. Liver Rescue

I just received this new book on Tuesday. The fourth by author Anthony William, this book focuses on healing the liver, which in turn heals a host of health issues including aging problems, brain fog, cancer, eczema, psoriasis, gallbladder disease, gut problems, hormonal disorders, inflammation, insomnia, mystery hunger and many more.

I’ve learned so much about my body and what’s going on within it through Anthony’s books. I’m grateful for the incredible healing I’ve experienced as well. The information within Liver Rescue will take my health to a new level. I’m taking notes as I read.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

4. Sweet Potatoes from My Garden

As cooler weather arrives, my garden is slowing down. Last week I dug up the sweet potatoes in the raised bed veggie garden. What a treat it has been to prepare baked sweet potatoes. Tonight I felt such a sense of accomplishment as I washed up a batch of these little blessings, in preparation for trying a new recipe featuring sweet potatoes. I grew this food!

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5. Chili Sweet Potato Fries

I checked out a plant based cookbook from the library. The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook, created by Melissa Costello, offers planet-friendly fare that is easy to make and so delicious, while boosting health as well.

Chili Sweet Potato Fries

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick lengthwise fries.

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons chili seasoning

Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cut potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle fries with with chili seasoning and salt. Toss potatoes to cost evenly. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until fries are browned on outside and tender inside. Let cool 5 minutes.

I served the sweet potato fries with:

Lemon Dill Aioli Sauce

In a blender (I used the smaller attachment) blend 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, 1/4 cup vegan mayo, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 garlic clove, finely minced. Makes a little more 1/4 cup of sauce.

The sweet potato fries and aioli were so good! The chili seasoning adds just a touch of spiciness that pairs well with the sweetness of the potato. And the lemon dill aioli…yum!

I buy Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, from Natural Grocers. It’s made from aquafaba, the water off of cooked chickpeas, and it is vegan, non-GMO, and egg, soy, gluten and sugar free. And I promise, it tastes like mayo! I use it as a base for several sauces.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

Let’s Play a Game of Blessings

The idea for the 5 Daily Gratitudes came to me this afternoon, as I paused to appreciate the sunlight streaming in and expressed my gratitude aloud. The Dream Giver whispered to me, “Do you want to play a new game?”

I always do. I’m always ready to play games that teach me new truths as I learn and grow and have fun.

Play along with me, during Thanksgiving month. Find one thing, or five, or ten, to be grateful for each day. Write them down in a journal, make lists, draw pictures, take photos…keep some kind of record of the things you are thankful for. Count your blessings, one by one. And I’d love it if you shared some of them with me.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

Order Liver Rescue and dried hibiscus by clicking links below.

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Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

It’s the day after Halloween, and Black Friday promotions began showing up in my inbox today. I get it and I enjoy taking part, in a limited way, with the after Thanksgiving shopping kick off. However, my focus, during the month of November, is on gratitude.

To start off a month of expressing gratitude and focusing on blessings, I created a fun little craft. Gratitude pumpkins are easy to make, with materials available at home. This is a great activity for kids and offers the opportunity to come up with eight things they are grateful for.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Eight Easy Steps to Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

The body of the pumpkin is made from four strips of paper, cut from a standard 8 1/2 x 11 or larger sheet. Any color can be used. Let kids be creative. Purple pumpkins with orange leaves are fine!

Step 1

I used a light gold sheet of heavy paper for the body of the pumpkin and a light green sheet for the leaves and curling vines. Cut the paper for the body into strips, using a paper cutter or scissors. Only four strips are needed, per pumpkin. One sheet of paper makes two pumpkins.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 2

Write gratitudes on the ends of the four strips of paper, expressing eight things you are thankful for. Line up the strips and write four gratitudes and then flip the strips over and write four “upside down”, so that when joined, all the words are going the same direction. See photo below. Leave some space at either end, as those edges will be joined together.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 3

Using tape, join one strip at a time, making a circle. Add each strip, completing the circle and joining the loops together, until all four strips are connected. Carefully flip the pumpkin over and add double-sided tape, or regular tape folded over, to secure the loops at the bottom of the pumpkin.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 4

Draw a pumpkin leaf on a second piece of paper. I looked up a pumpkin leaf online and drew a simple heart shape and then slightly flared out the sides. Heart shaped leaves work well too. Cut out the first leaf and then trace around it to create a second leaf. I drew the second leaf slightly smaller within the outline, to create variety.

On one leaf write “Grateful for…” and on the other leaf, write your name and the year.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 5

Cut three narrow strips of paper, the same color as the leaves, or in a contrasting color. Tightly wrap the strips around a pen or pencil, then slide the coils off, creating pumpkin vines.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 6

Attach the curly pieces of vine to the top of the pumpkin, with tape or glue. I used double-sided tape. Finally, attach the two leaves, also with tape or glue.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Display Gratitude Pumpkins

Find a place to display the gratitude pumpkin, where it can be seen each day. A group of pumpkins, made by a family, would be so cute, and also serve as a great reminder that there are many blessings to be thankful for.

Another idea is to make a pumpkin out of gratitude quotes. There are amazing quotes available. Simple google “gratitude quotes” to come up with ideas.

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.”

Gratitude is an attitude shifter. It brings me into the present moment as I reflect on all that I am thankful for. And expressing gratitude draws more to me, to be grateful for. A grateful heart literally changes everything, and spending the next 30 days focusing on my blessings is a great way to enter the holiday season, and wind down another year.

My gratitude pumpkin is sitting on my writing table, in my creative studio. I’ve already looked at it many times, and reached over to pick it up. I am grateful for its simple beauty, and for all that it represents.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin