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Alisa Murray’s Daily Dose of Sweet! #alisamurray #auntieAlivingthesweetlife

Today’s daily is all about work. When we work in a job that we love and are perfectly aligned to the way we spend our day then we are in our best place to shine in the Glory of our Lord. Each of us have special gifts and those gifts are meant to be discovered and then shared… that is essentially the way to finding your purpose in life.

Today’s affirmation comes from Louise Hay: “I affirm that my job is to express GOD. I rejoice in this employment and give thanks for every opportunity to demonstrate the power of my Lord to work through me. Anytime that I am presented with a challenge, I know that it is an opportunity from God, and I quiet my mind and wait for positive words to fill my mind. I know when I hear those words it is the Holy Spirit guiding me. I accept these blessed revelations with joy and know that I am worthy of my just reward for a job well done.

Alisa Murray | Award winning columnist and photographer | Living the Sweet Life | Top 5 Essential oils for you to plant in your garden this fall | November 2016

The  Top 5 Ethereal Oils you should plant in your garden this fall!
I just planted the fall garden and it got me to thinking about just how much I use my garden in both cooking but in practical things around the house. It’s pretty easy even with our crazy hot weather to keep rosemary, basil, lemons,mint and rose year long. There’s countless uses for herbs but I wanted to share a few with you for the autumn months coming ahead!
1. Lavender
Aside form just smelling so wonderful lavender is good for de-stressing yourself or a space in your home. In the oil form in a warm and toasty bath you’ll be guaranteed a better nights sleep. It’s also an excellent way to treat sunburns, and clean pimples and cuts. I like to take a spray bottle of water and add oil to is and then spritz your bed linens in between changes.
2. Rosemary
Again in my garden… and a real favorite with my family when cut directly and placed in 2 gallons of water to just sip on throughout the day. Of course I am using it for so much in my cooking but it also is interestingly effective as a way to concentrate. Burn some in your homeschool space and watch your children’s focus become more directed. Another great way to use is in your bath with epsom salts…this little wonder is great for aching muscles after a day of doing what we do!
3. Lemons
I am partial to lemons because I usually drink my water everyday with a fresh one! Lemons “fix” dry scratchy throats…boost our immune systems and are great for getting a bathroom or a garbage disposal clean and fresh.
4. Mint
Again folks…in my garden! The oils from mint are perfect for making your mojitos most fabulous and their benefits to the stomach and digestion needs to make them a favorite natural go to in your home pharmacy. Feeling nauseated? It helps to boil the leaves and let the air become diffused with it’s aroma.
5. Rose
I love that this oil has the ability to really heal, enlightened and protect. Add a little oil in a warmer and it can help calm the fears of mothers giving birth and also the elderly as they are dying. It can be used to alleviate cramps and as a warm bath a few drops is even safe to bathe a baby! It leaves the skin feeling soft and the mind calmed.

Hopefully you can carve out a spot in your yard and if not my sister has had great success with those indoor aero-gardens where you can grow a few herbs that will become very handy when the time arises to tend to a scratchy throat, draw a soothing bath or make a homemade loaf of bread with some of that rosemary just outside your door!


Living the Sweet Life: August 2016 Coming Home….

IMG_9180Many of you are packing up your teenagers and heading to the universities this month. This will be their new home as they embark on their adventures and begin a new chapter both for their lives but for those off us as parents. I remember such an occasion on a crisp fall day in August in 1987 when I left home for the first time and moved into the all girls dorm at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Daddy’s hugs and what he called my “Big Crocodile Tears” were a part of that day too and at the same time I was excited …I was all grown up….and I was scared to death! My last year of high school would be finished there as would my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. My grandparents were very worried that if I got exposed to a different religion that I would convert over to it. And as funny as that sounds….those Baptists are very particular about how they view other religions. St. Mary’s is an Episcopal all girls school that is relatively exclusive being that it’s private and still today as it was in 1987… the only existing Episcopal all girls boarding school still left in this country. It was converted during the civil war into a hospital for the soldiers and we would find confederate money in her walls during several construction sites during my three years attending.

I loved St. Mary’s and with most things that I love I fall deeply into them. The heart of St.Mary’s was chapel which we attended twice a day and then a Vespers service Wednesday evenings and on Sunday’s if you were not away visiting family. It was at St. Mary’s that I learned Latin, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and became the leading art student in the entire school. SCAD courted me as a result of my art and eventually I went there to continue my studies in Painting, Art History and Interior Design. It was also where I became as my grandparents feared…an Episcopalian.

I have always been very active in the church attending choir and all youth activities. I quickly became a Vestry member before graduating high school and by my sophomore year in college I was made Senior Warden. I remember the very first night after all the parents had gone and we were attending our first service and going over what it means to be a St. Mary’s girl. I remember accidentally saying the “Holy Ghost” and my new roommate glanced over at me and gave me the “look.” I also distinctly remember waiting for something terrible to happen, like for me to spontaneously combust when they passed the Blood and Body of Christ I discovered it was not grape juice but actual wine that they we’re serving!

Many years have passed since I graduated from St. Mary’s and many churches along the way Brian and I attended in both Savannah and in Houston. None were what I felt at St. Mary’s until we found St. Catherine’s. And even St. Catherine’s magic didn’t happen until Father Mike became the priest. We went and we left and we went and we left and then Father Mike came and we go as much as my shooting schedule will allow us to. So after having raised my babies in an Episcopal church I had never actually left the title of my Baptist faith and converted over officially to that of being an Episcopalian. James Edward and I attended the classes and as he discovered the nuances of the faith I felt a sense of peace at having finally found and finished what I had meant to so many years before. It was like coming home.

On a warm yummy day last month James Edward and I became officially Episcopalians. During Bishop’s sermon he mentioned something that I think will stick with Jamesy hopefully for as long as he lives. It’s a message of understanding our place here while on earth is of the walking dead. We are all here doing hopefully what God’s plan and purpose is for our lives but we are not fully living. It is when we live in heaven and are a part of the larger Body of Christ that we are risen and are fully alive. Love is the only thing we must do and Love is most imperative in our lost world full of so much hate and discord.
Thanks be to GOD!

Houston Award Winning Columnist | Alisa Murray| Living the Sweet Life | Bugs for Lunch? May 2016

MAY 2016
Living the Sweet Life : Ants and Grasshoppers for lunch anyone?

For the longest time when I think of a picnic I have that iconic image of a red checkered blanket and at some point a trail of ants trying to invade and haul off any crumbs that they can. Never in my wildest dreams did that vision include making ants be the main entree! What are you talking about you ask? These days in the world of food consumption, one can choose to eat a sandwich and others can just go eat a bug, making your picnics a whole other experience! Yes, folks you read it right…bugs! Bugs you say? What?? It turns out that around the world insects such as ants, locusts, mealworms and grasshoppers are consumed by about 2 billion people.

This both disgusted me and intrigued me. When I was a child one of the fondest memories was spending time in the mountains with my Granny and Big Daddy. We would plan for a day outside and Granny would make a bunch of sandwiches and lemonade. Big Daddy always had a large watermelon and we would set off on a big adventure. Sometimes we would go to a
picnic table in the Blue Ridge Parkway and other times we would go for a jeep ride up into the mountains themselves and spread out a blanket with the trees as ou canopy and while listening to crickets and birds and most often a mountain stream, we would have our lunch. Never in a million years would I have thought to just reach down and grab an innocent little ant and start chomping away. Sounds kinda sorta well actually YUCK!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unites Nations sees consumption of insects as essential to food security. Due to our ever expanding world coupled with mortality rates dropping slightly due to better health and health care advances or food production must increase by 70 percent to feed 2050’s projected 9 billion people. And Insects, a viable source of life sustaining protein; despite your cringing, are sustainable and less expensive to produce than cattle and pork. Even more crazy, since I’ve been feeding mealworms to James Edward’s bearded dragon and not to us at our dinner table, was to learn that mealworms have as much unsaturated omega-3 fat as fish do and a pound of locusts contain more iron than a pound of beef!

I think that for at least during my lifetime I’ll be sticking to dill pickles, ham and swiss sandwiches and berries! It’s not that I don’t want to be hip and all…at this point I think I am just too old to change. They say that the crickets taste like cashews and sweet corn and the ants, well those are really advanced in the foodie world! Who knew? Those little guys come in flavors such as honey and bacon. I think I’d rather have the real thing though. I could perhaps see having a cricket breakfast bar if I live long enough to see my great grandchildren and don’t really know what’s going on around me anymore! At that point I wouldn’t really care and I guess that’d be alright!

Take Care of YOU! shutterstock_324406838

#alisamurray #alisamurrayphotography

Award Winning Columnist Alisa Murray | Living the Sweet Life | Hearing Those Magic Words….| #alisamurray

Recently I went back home and spent a few days where I was as a child and driving the through the back roads that were evergreen with pastures and twists and turns and I found myself at the old pond that I fished in as a child. T Lane and Sally’s fishpond in fact and many memories came flooding in as we walked the property and caught up. T Lane was my Daddy’s partner and as OBGYN’s they did countless deliveries and surgeries together. He and his wife Sally are my Godparents and both were in a flash at my side within moments of my mother’s passing. They watched me grow and they loved my mother and daddy. They gave me my first dog which I named Charlie Red and their daughter Dia was like a big sister to me. They are as I get older cherished more because of their links to my parents and grandparents all of which are now dead.
When traumatic things happen in childhood pieces of memory are left suspended in time. I know this first hand as I have large spaces of my childhood that I can not really remember and I know it’s a protective mechanism (thank you should be granted to the University of Houston and my degree in Child Psychology for assisting me in sorting these things out) meant to keep oneself OK but it can be rather annoying. I’ll taste something or smell something and a flood of new memories will arrive and occasionally it’s overwhelming. Back in 2007 while in Paris, Brian and I ran across a little chocolate shop and there was some orange peels candied. Immediately I remembered mother making that as a child but could not recollect more than just a small yes! I know that! Despite the feelings of disconnection from one’s past it’s always nice when it happens because I am able to “find” something more of myself that I had not been able to grasp before. It’s like finding pieces of my puzzle.
Coming home has been very difficult because home isn’t home any more. Someone else living in your house …parents buried down the street.. the roads are all the same but no one is home. Strangely though I felt very close to Daddy after walking through the woods with T lane and listening to him tell James and I stories of my Daddy. We went back to have ourselves a “Coke A Cola.” The reminiscing, although a wonderful experience for my little one who never knew any of these family members, it was clear from the misty eyes on T lane just how much he loved and missed all of them. It made me miss them more than I usually do too. One thing though he kept saying was “Your Mother and Daddy, Alisa…they would be so very proud of you. Oh, Alisa… Nana was a pistol! Granny and Big Daddy..they were good people. You are such a good person too!” It felt bittersweet.
I was in Mexico a few weeks later and there Joel Osteen started in on his sermon about the father’s blessings. As a child Daddy was a very busy man, a very important man in the community. He was a good father, a provider but he was tremendously caught up in being a doctor, serving as chief at the hospital and participating as a 32nd degree Scottish and York Rites, Knights Templar, Oasis and Shriner Medical staff.
The father’s blessing is a pivotal piece of our puzzles… we have to have that as children as adults and the words I am proud of you must be spoken loudly and often for all of us to feel complete. Daddy I am sure felt this way but I can not ever remember hearing him tell me. Mother, well could have never really known. I was eight when she died and had not really accomplished much in life. I realized as I was walking in those woods and smelling those Carolina Pines and hearing those bird dogs barking and seeing T Lane that Mommy and Daddy had come through him to send me that message. Maybe even my grandparents had too. The message that every child wants to hear no matter how old they get. It is a simple message I love you and I am proud of you. As soon as I figured out what had happened I picked up the phone and texted both our babies. I texted in BOLD from Mexico to Houston… “I LOVE YOU…MOMMY AND DADDY ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!” I hope you’ll tell your children that often because it does matter and it is going to complete their puzzle someday too!
Take Care of YOU!