Making Kindness the Norm

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February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the US. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, founded in 1995, is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Random Acts of Kindness Day originated in New Zealand in 2004.

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the global need for kindness. This unique holiday encourages us to practice kindness in random ways with friends, family, strangers and animals.

The Foundation’s mission is to change schools, the workplace, families and society through kindness. This is the Foundation’s Random Acts of Kindness Week with the theme of Making Kindness the Norm.

I love the emphasis on kindness, defined as expressing friendliness, generosity and consideration. And I appreciate that practicing kindness is not limited to one day out of the year. Consider making kindness the norm every day, with these tips.

Making Kindness the Norm title meme

Kindness Provides Health Benefits

This morning I followed curiosity down an interesting trail. Aware of Random Acts of Kindness Day, I wondered if expressing kindness towards others offers any health benefits to the giver. It does!

Kindness and empathy help us to relate better to others and develop positive connections with family, friends, animals and even total strangers that we encounter. Beyond improving relationships, kindness can make us healthier in these ways:

  • releases the “feel good” hormone serotonin
  • eases anxiety and boosts self esteem
  • releases the hormone oxytocin, which benefits heart health by lowering blood pressure
  • reduces stress by helping us get outside our own lives while we focus on others
  • produces oxytocin which also lowers inflammation in the body, a condition linked to disease
  • prolongs life by helping to strengthen relationships, which in turn supports heart health and positively raises mental outlook

We don’t practice kindness to create better health. We practice kindness to better the lives of others, in small and large ways. The health benefits are a wonderful “perk”! Energetically, what you put out into the world flows back to you. Kindness does good and produces good in the body.

Making Kindness the Norm with Animals
Making Kindness the Norm with Animals
Making Kindness the Norm Now
Making Kindness the Norm…Now

Making Kindness the Norm

Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website  for lots of activities that promote kindness. They offer a fun challenge that promotes kindness as the norm at home and in communities. The challenge involves completing a series of kindness activities to fill in 60 hearts. Activities are worth one, two or three hearts, depending on how challenging they are.

Activities include random acts of kindness, writing prompts, self care and even coloring pages.

“Imagine a world where we can succeed by being nice, where we all look out for each other, where we pay it forward and where kindness is the norm.”  Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Additionally, the site offers classroom activities, quotes, posters, inspiration and an extremely cool 2020 Kindness Calendar with a suggested act of kindness for every day of the year. I absolutely LOVE that. All these resources are free and downloadable.

Leaving Encouraging Notes
Making Kindness the Norm – leaving encouraging notes
Be Kind
Be Kind

Ways to Practice Kindness

On this day, on every day, these are simple ways for making kindness the norm:

  • volunteer at a animal shelter, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a school
  • ties scarves around trees in cold weather and tuck gloves into hats and place on benches
  • donate your time, your money, your wisdom
  • walk the neighbor’s dog
  • babysit for free for a single mom or dad
  • carpool to work
  • smile at everyone
  • high five a stranger
  • shop for a shut in
  • call your grandparents
  • clean house for an older family member
  • send an encouraging text
  • mail a card to brighten someone’s day
  • give out hugs
  • in a drive through pay for the person behind you
  • leave change in a laundry mat or taped to a vending machine
  • hide encouraging notes in random places
  • allow a car to cut in front of you in traffic
  • run errands for someone who is ill
  • invite a lonely person out for tea or coffee
  • give groceries to a shelter pantry
  • donate clothing to a community closet
  • give garden produce away
  • pick up trash in parks and neighborhoods
  • use less plastic
  • compliment a stranger
  • visit a nursing home
  • write reviews for local businesses, organizations you care about, products you love
  • practice cyberkindness to counteract cyberbullying
  • BE KIND to EVERY KIND
Making Kindness the Norm Helping Children
Making Kindness the Norm – helping children
Kindness is Love
Kindness is Love

Be Kind

Scott Adams said,

Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

Let’s create ripples that circle the globe, on this day, during this week and throughout the year. Join me in making kindness the norm, every day.

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Check out these related posts:  Random Acts of Kindness Week 2018

Kindness is Contagious – Pass it On from 2017

Kindness Find on Amazon:

 


 

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Best Picture Winner

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

The 92nd Academy Awards show is over and the winners in 24 categories chosen, including the Best Picture winner. I enjoyed a week of watching all of the Best Picture nominated films ahead of the Oscars. All nine films showcased extraordinary talent while offering unforgettable stories.

Which movie became the Best Picture winner? Read on. And discover why all of the nominated films are worth watching.

Best Picture Winner title meme

Best Picture Nominees

An amazing selection of movies received nominations for the Academy Awards’ top prize. Several focused on historical events or particular time periods. Others explored human nature. One examined the challenges of dissolving a marriage. All contained unique twists within their plots.

The nominees included: Joker, Ford v Ferrari, JoJo Rabbit, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Women, The Irishman and Parasite. Rather than write a full review of each movie, I chose to present them as a group with a brief summary for each and my thoughts about why these films are important.

Joker

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 2 minutes

Written and directed by Todd Phillips. Nominated for 11 Oscars, it won two, a well deserved Best Actor for Joaquin and Best Original Score.

Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy

In Gotham City, clown performer Arthur Fleck feels his purpose in life is to make people laugh and bring joy to others. Society sees him differently. His uncontrollable laughter and awkwardness in social situations brings Arthur cruel taunts and acts of bullying. Fed up, the wannabe comedian strikes out. A crime committed in self defense leads Arthur down a path that ultimately births his new identity as Joker.

My Thoughts

My favorite among the nominees, this film is so much more than a nemesis story. Yes, we witness the events that created Batman’s enemy, Joker. However the story examines much deeper issues including mental illness, bullying, acceptance, compassion and the role society plays in helping or harming someone who has lost his way. The twist in Joker is seeing him as an anti-hero rather than just the “bad guy”. We care about what happens to him and recognize the freedom he feels as his alter ego emerges.

This film moves me deeply. Some scenes are violent, however look past that. Allow this powerful movie to stir compassion for everyone and especially those who feel invisible.

Best Picture Nominee Joker
I wanted Joker to be the Best Picture Winner!

Ford v Ferrari

Rated PG-13  Run time 2 hours 32 minutes

Written by Jez and John Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller. Directed by James Mangold. Nominated for four Oscars, Ford v Ferrari took home two, for Film Editing and Sound Editing.

Stars Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas and Tracy Letts

Set in the mid 60s, Ford v Ferrari follows American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles as they journey toward the grueling 24 hour Le Mans race in France. There they hope to take their modified Ford to the finish line ahead of the mighty Ferrari.

My Thoughts

Although I’m not an avid race car fan, the sport holds a special place in my heart because of my dad. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Don’t let the race car theme deter you from watching Ford v Ferrari. The pleasant twist is, it’s not primarily a movie about fast cars. Rather, it’s about the best things in life…doing what you love, being who you are and traveling through life with good people by your side.

You might cheer during the exciting race scenes. You’ll definitely applaud the friendship and loyalty between Shelby and Miles.

Best Picture Nominee Ford v Ferrari

JoJo Rabbit

Rated PG-13  Run time 1 hour 49 minutes

Screenplay by Taika Waititi, based on the novel by Christine Leunens. Directed by Taika Waititi. Nominated for six Oscars, JoJo Rabbit won one for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson.

JoJo is a 10 year old boy living in Germany with his mom during WWII. More than anything he longs to be part of Hitler’s Nazi Army. Indeed, JoJo’s imaginary friend is Der Fuhrer himself. The earnest boy finds his world turned upside down, however, when he discovers a teenage Jewish girl hiding in the attic, secreted away by his mother.

My Thoughts

This film, like Joker, impacts me strongly. I expected a quirky comedy. JoJo Rabbit is that, and so much more. What a performance Davis gives, as a lonely boy who wants to belong to something bigger than himself. This coming of age story twists the film’s dark humor into something profound, piercing the heart as JoJo grasps that people are more alike than they are different. You’ll laugh…and cry…and cheer this little hero on as he understands the sacrifices the goodhearted make, to create change in the world. Watch for a full review of this thought provoking movie from me soon.

JoJo Rabbit

Marriage Story

Rated R  Run time 2 hours 17 minutes

Written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Nominated for six Oscars, the film won one, for Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern.

Stars Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Scarlett Johannson and Alan Alda.

Marriage story is a powerfully insightful look at how a marriage can come apart while a family stays together. The players in this story involve more than the distressed couple. Other key roles belong to the couple’s son, extended family members, friends, co-workers and attorneys whose tactics sometimes seem contrary to what Charlie and Nicole want.

My Thoughts

Anyone who has been married for more than a minute knows this truth: marriage is challenging. Yep, even the best marriages experience  gripping sorrow and pain along with great joy and intimacy. Marriage Story often feels like a punch to the gut, so raw are some of the scenes. And yet, watching the growth the characters undergo as their relationship unravels feels so authentic. The wonderfully redemptive twist in this story is this…all that chaos and emptying of emotions and soul searching can result in a different kind of relationship. Does it require work too? Absolutely.

Best Picture Nominee Marriage Story

1917

Rated R  Run time 1 hour 59 minutes

Written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns and directed by Sam Mendes. Nominated for 10 Oscars, 1917 won three: Cinematography, Visual Effects and Sound Mixing.

Stars Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch

On a battlefield in Northern France, two young soldiers are selected to carry an urgent message to an isolated regiment. The message revokes orders to attack German troops that are supposedly retreating. It is a trap. At risk are 1600 men, including the brother of one of the young men. Time is of the essence and the journey harrowing as the two soldiers cross dangerous territory to reach the regiment.

My Thoughts

War movies are one of my least favorite genres. I was tired when I plopped into my theater seat and hoped I’d stay awake. Truthfully, 1917 kept me on the edge of my seat. Cleverly shot in such a way that the camera never leaves the boys during their perilous journey, this film deserved the Cinematography Oscar. The effect is stunning and makes the viewer feel a part of the trek through enemy territory. Inspired by the stories of Mendes’ grandfather, a WWI veteran, 1917 is hauntingly beautiful. Its focus is on friendship, determination and courage. I intentionally had no idea what happened on the shared journey or how it all ended. Therefore, a surprising twist in the story caught me off guard. See if it does the same to you.

1917
I felt like this was the likely Best Picture Winner

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rated R  Run time 2 hours 41 minutes

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned 10 nominations and took home two Oscars, one for Production Design and the other Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt.

Stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Mike Moh, Luke Perry and Al Pacino

A fading television actor and his aging stunt double attempt to capture fame in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. As a subplot, Cliff the actor lives next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. He and his stunt double friend unwittingly tangle with the Manson Family.

My Thoughts

As a child of the 60s, I found much to enjoy about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I love the references to popular shows on television during that time and the portrayals of so many familiar celebrities. The huge twist in this film is the Manson Family/Tate element. I had no idea it was part of the story and its inclusion created tension during the movie. As the infamous and horrific incident involving Sharon Tate approaches, that tension increases drastically. Let me just say, the ending of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood surprises and at first left me full of questions. Tuck this hint away: remember the title of the movie. It is an important clue when you reach the final moments.

Brad Pitt is a charming actor who easily assumes roles. He deserved the Best Supporting Actor award.

Best Picture Nominee Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Little Women

Rated PG  Run time 2 hours 15 minutes

Screenplay by Greta Gerwig, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Directed by Greta Gerwig. Nominated for six Oscars, Little Women took home one, for Costume Design.

Stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern and Timothee Chalamet

Jo March reflects on her life as she tells the heartwarming story of the March sisters. Each girl desires to live life on her own terms and develop her gifts.  In a post Civil War era, independence is not accepted in young ladies and certainly not encouraged, except in the March household. Jo finds her voice through her writing and seeks to publish her work.

My Thoughts

This film is, I believe, the 7th adaptation of Alcott’s much loved story. The actresses perfectly captured their characters. The bond between sisters…and sometimes the rivalry…propels this beautiful film. Scenes alternate between an earlier and a later time period, which is a bit confusing initially. The girls do not change much in appearance, in that relatively short span of years, so one is forced to identify which time period the story is in by the situations in the girls’ lives. I got the hang of the back and forth narrative about half way through the movie.

The marvelous twist in this version of Little Women is the ending. Interpretation is left somewhat to the viewer. However, Greta Gerwig intentionally gave Louisa May Alcott the ending the author wanted for her story…and did not get, due to publisher demands. Taking to Google to fact check a few things, I appreciate Greta’s gift even more. If you enjoy period pieces and authentic costumes, you’ll love this film. And I’d like to know what you think about the ending.

Best Picture Nominee Little Women

The Irishman

Rated R  Run time 3 hours 29 minutes

Screenplay by Steven Zaillian based on the book by Charles Brandt. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Nominated for 10 Oscars, The Irishman didn’t take home a single one.

Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Ray Romano.

Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran looks back on his life and the many hits that defined his career with the mob. Connected to the Bufalino crime family, Sheeran claims a part in the disappearance of his friend, and the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa, who mysteriously vanished in 1975, has never been found. Sheeran shares the story of what really happened and how the friendship with Hoffa affected him.

My Thoughts

I’m not a fan of mob movies. However, I enjoyed watching De Niro, Pacino and Pesci flesh out their respective characters and interact with each other. Through the wonders of de-aging technology, we even get to see these amazing actors as they were in their 40s.

The movie is long. I’m grateful that it’s a Netflix production. I watched The Irishman in two sittings. While I often flinched over the violent ends that many characters met, by the end of the film I felt invested in the outcome. And that is the twist for me. I genuinely wanted to know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa and The Irishman. Curiosity led me once again to Google to research the movie’s claims. If you appreciate historical films, curiosity will grab you by the hand and run with you through this one, to the very end.

Best Picture Nominee The Irishman

Parasite

Rated R  Run time 2 hours 12 minutes

Written by Bong Joon Ho and Jin Won Han. Directed by Bong Joon Ho. Nominated for six Oscars, Parasite captured four of them, including Production Design, Film Editing, Best International Film and…ta da…it earned the Best Picture winner title.

Stars Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, So-dam Park, Jeong-eun Lee and Hye-jin Jang.

Kim Ki-taek, his wife and two adult children are all unemployed. Living in a musty basement, the family barely scrapes by, using their wits and wily schemes to bring in small amounts of money. And then through an unexpected opportunity each family member finds employment with the wealthy Park family. As the Kims  ingratiate themselves into a different lifestyle, feeding off of the trust and generosity of the Parks, a secret arises that threatens everything.

My Thoughts

Parasite is an astonishing film that highlights the division between classes of people, in this case, the rich and the poor. What begins as a story with comedic overtones shifts into something much darker and grittier, with sinister elements. There are oft repeated words spoken about “not crossing the line”. At first it’s implied that the line represents personal space or even morals. But the division is stronger than that, more complex and more difficult to cross. The comedy becomes a tragedy with an unforgettable message. Parasite haunted me for days after viewing it.

Best Picture Nominee Parasite
The Best Picture Winner

Best Picture Winner

What an amazing group of strong films. Although 1917 held a slight edge as the projected best picture winner going into the award show, anything seemed possible. I wanted Joker to take home the Oscar. I predicted 1917  as the winner, and yet, Parasite seemed poised to claim the ultimate prize. After seeing Bong Joon Ho’s film, I left the theater thinking “Best Picture Winner” right there.

Parasite won, amid cheers and applause and a standing ovation from the audience. History was made. Parasite is the first non-English film to win the Best Picture Oscar. Bong Joon Ho and his cast and crew received the award with grace and genuine surprise and humble words. The news made the front page in South Korea, and well it should. The world is shifting.

Love these films or hate them, viewing them is like placing a finger on the pulse of the world. Do you want to see the shifts occurring around the world? Do you want to gauge the health of humankind? Watch these nine best picture nominated movies. You’ll know…

Oscar
Oscar goes to…the Best Picture winner, Parasite.

Check out the full list of Oscar winners HERE.

And purchase or rent these films below at Amazon:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Kitchen Herbs to Grow in Water

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We typically associate gardening with digging in the dirt in a dedicated garden space. Or perhaps gardening is tucking plants into pretty ceramic pots. However, there are gardening tasks to do year around, even during the winter months. And gardening can move indoors to the kitchen.

Try these 10 kitchen herbs to grow in water. No dirt or green thumb required! And the convenience of snipping fresh herbs for a cup of tea or cooking is wonderful.

10 kitchen herbs to grow in water title meme

Set Up

Any waterproof container works for growing herbs in water. If it holds water, it is suitable. Line up a row of mason jars. Try vases in various sizes. Or browse your favorite flea market for one of a kind containers. Additionally, you need a window sill, bench, table or counter top near a sunny window.

Before frost nips the garden, bring in herb clippings to root in water. Or simply visit the produce section of the grocery store and purchase your favorite fresh herbs. Cut stems six to eight inches long and remove leaves from the bottom four inches. Before placing stems in water, make a fresh diagonal cut across the bottom of the stem.

Fill containers with fresh water. Do not use distilled water, as plants need minerals. When using clear glass containers, change the water frequently to prevent algae growth. Opaque containers don’t require changing as often.

Add prepared stems to water in containers and place them in a sunny location. Growing these plants in water creates a steady supply of fresh herbs. Snip leaves as they reach full size, to encourage new growth.

10 Herbs to Grow in Water

These 10 kitchen herbs are perfect for rooting in water in your kitchen.

1. Oregano

Oregano spices up pasta, sauces, soups and broths. This herb loves growing in water and can get big fast so keep it cut back. It loves sunshine.

2. Peppermint

One of my favorite herbs for tea, peppermint is perfect for relieving an upset stomach, soothing tight muscles and calming the body. Chew on a few fresh leaves for a quick energetic pick me up. Peppermint thrives in a partially shady window as well as a sunny one.

Peppermint in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – peppermint

3. Thyme

Thyme is another great herb for adding flavor to Italian dishes, soups and sauces. I also enjoy thyme tea. And it is one of the herbs I use in my DIY Vegetable Broth. Thyme prefers six to eight hours of sunlight a day.

4. Basil

Fragrant basil is a wonderful addition to pasta, sauces and soup. Plus it is the key ingredient in fresh pesto. Basil is another prolific herb that thrives in water. And it enjoys plenty of sunlight.

Growing Basil in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – basil

5. Chives

Chives are very easy to grow in water. This member of the onion family flavors a variety of dishes from soups to stir fries. Change the water every couple of days and make sure the herb receives lots of sunlight.

6. Lemon Balm

Another favorite of mine, this member of the mint family has a distinctive lemon scent and flavor. Lemon balm tea relieves indigestion, calms the body, soothes anxiety and allows the body to relax into sleep. Check out this lemon balm, fennel and thyme tea.

Lemon Balm in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – lemon balm

7. Lavender

This herb is worth growing in water just for its marvelous fragrance. Simply inhaling lavender’s scent calms the body. As a tea it eases depression, relieves migraines and promotes a good night’s sleep. Dry the leaves and tiny flowers and make sachets for drawers and closets.

8. Rosemary

I love inhaling this herb’s magical scent as well. Rosemary flavors rice and lentil dishes, roasted potatoes, soups and sauces. It makes a wonderful tea as well. Rosemary will tolerate partially shaded areas although it thrives best in full sunlight.

Rosemary in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – rosemary

9. Marjoram

This herb does well rooting in water although it is slower to grow. Use this fragrant herb in soups and sauces or combine with thyme or rosemary for a powerful tea. Marjoram prefers full sunlight.

10. Cilantro

Cilantro thrives as a water plant although it needs plenty of sunlight. Use this herb in homemade salsa and Mexican dishes. Or for powerful health benefits, add cilantro to juices and morning smoothies.

10 Kitchen Herbs to Grow in Water cilantro
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – cilantro

Other posts in the Backyard Garden Series

Gardening in Winter

Spring Garden Tips

Containers for Rooting Herbs

 

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

Creating Digital Vision Boards with Canva

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’ve created vision boards for many years. I make a new one every January, from poster board, magazine cutouts and glue, and hang it in my creative studio. Looking at it daily inspires me and guides me toward my goals and desires.

Recently my friend Rose shared about creating digital vision boards. I loved her idea and immediately created one on the free app, Canva. That digital version is now the wallpaper on my iphone. I’ve shared it on social media as well.

Today another idea popped into my head. Why not create a digital board for my current, unfolding opportunities? These are mostly short term plans and goals that are in development. I enjoyed making that second board so much that I decided to share the step by step process of creating digital vision boards with Canva, with you.

Creating Digital Vision Boards with Canva title meme

Why Create a Short Term Goals Board

Here are my reasons for creating another digital vision board.

Making any kind of vision board sends a message out into the universe that I am open to receive and to create. It’s an invitation for muse to play and co-create with me. For that reason it is important to achieve clarity on goals and desires so that the message I am sending out is clear.

The board hanging in my studio focuses on writing, blogging, travel and the continuation of my healing journey. My first digital board, pictured below, affirms those goals in a simplified format. That board also contains my word for 2020, curiosity, my symbol the key and a reference to my song for the year.

Following Curiosity
First digital vision board

I’m already seeing powerful shifts around my goals and desires for this year, which is another excellent reason for making a short term goals board. I want to keep several time sensitive opportunities in my awareness. Creating new boards around fresh opportunities and goals is a great way to generate that top of the mind awareness.

The process is simple, fun and offers an artistic outlet. I’m all for playing as a high form of creative expression.

I believe that the energy we put out there attracts like energy. As I play and create and release my intentions, desires and goals, similar energy flows back to me. Manifesting is working with that energy to create what you desire. Creating digital vision boards with Canva puts that energy out there.

The Step by Step Process for Creating Digital Vision Boards with Canva

I’ve been using Canva for a little over a year. This amazing design site offers a free version, which is all I’ve ever used. I initially experienced a time of a learning, as I explored this new creative app. However, I love Canva now and use it daily to make pins and graphics for my blogs and media posts.

Check out Canva online or download the app. And then let’s create!

Choose a Design Template

For digital vision boards, use the instagram story template. There are many pre-made templates to choose from. However, for our purposes, choose the blank instagram story template.

Tap the background to begin editing. We want to start with a colored background. I use teal, blue and green colors with Cindy Goes Beyond. I started the process by adding a soft teal color. You can save colors that you use often. Don’t worry about that today. Snap a screenshot, if you want, capturing the color code for future reference.

Adding color

Add Text

After selecting a color, add main text. Click the + symbol in the lower right corner. That brings up options such as text, images, videos, illustrations and shapes.

Adding text

There are many fonts to choose from. I use the same fonts in my digitals, just as I do colors, for branding consistency. My favorite fonts are aileron and playlist script. Type the text first, then select size, font and color.

I added the title to my board, changed the font to playlist script, changed the color of the words from black to a darker greenish blue and increased the size of the letters.

Changing the font color

Adding Pictures

For me, this is the fun part, adding visual representations of my desires. One of the desires going on this board is visiting the Christmas Market in Edinburgh, Scotland in December. I clicked on the + symbol then chose illustrations.

I typed Christmas into the search bar. Scrolling through free Christmas drawings, I felt drawn to an old fashioned sleigh and a wreath. I added those to my digital board. Reduce the size of the image or make it larger. Change the colors. Move them around. See the squares with the arrows, up at the top edge of the screen? Those buttons allow layering the images. I placed the wreath behind the sleigh.

Adding images

In the other corner I added a castle, to represent Edinburgh Castle and added the words, “Edinburgh, Scotland, Christmas Market, December 2020”.

A cool feature on Canva is adding frames, into which you can add your own photos. Click the + symbol, click on illustrations, then type the word frames in the search bar. A variety of frames pop up.

Adding Frames

I chose one that looks like a computer and added an actual photo of a travel writing opportunity I’m currently working on. Canva offers the option of choosing from your own photos stored on the computer or phone. Accompanying illustrations and words describing the opportunity complete that section.

Computer frame

Using frames

Continue Adding Words and Visual Representations

I added two more frames, one for a writer’s fellowship I’m applying for and one that holds a mock up of the book I am writing. I made that book cover on Canva as well. To create space, I easily moved the title words lower on the page.

More frames

I found the words “live your dream” and added them, changing the colors to better match my theme. At first I added July 2020 to the writer’s fellowship opportunity, then realized the words are printed on the photo in the frame.

On the photo below you can see that I typed the word writing into the illustrations search bar, looking for a pen to add to my board. I found one.

Adding symbols and words

The Completed Board

It took me approximately 30 minutes to create this digital vision board. Adding specific words is important. Those details solidify goals and give depth to dreams. I identified the opportunities and included the dates that I know.

Finally, I added the tag lines from my blogs. The words, living life beyond the edges and healthy at every age, guide me daily. They provide perspective and insight and challenge me to live the words I use to encourage others. They also shape the posts that I write.

To save a completed piece, touch the down arrow in the upper right corner. The work is saved on your device. Then touch the horizontal arrow in the upper left corner. Your work is saved on the Canva site or app. It is easy to edit the digital at any time.

Taking Action

It’s crucial as well to take action. I can look at these opportunities on my digital board multiple times a day, however to birth them or something like them, I must take action steps. For two of these opportunities, there are deadlines to meet and packages to put together and writing to do.

Whether those opportunities bear fruit or not, the practice of acting on what I am given brings more such opportunities to me. This isn’t weird woowoo stuff. It’s energy. It’s positive re-enforcement.

Image taking your small daughter to her first ballet. She responds well, enjoys the ballet, enrolls in a class, practices at home. You’d do all you could to encourage her desires and dreams by offering her more ballet opportunities.

If your wee girl didn’t like the ballet, appeared bored and disturbed people around her, you’d decide she wasn’t quite ready for this opportunity. Perhaps later, when she showed interest in something else, you’d offer encouragement in that area to see how she responded.

That’s a simple illustration, however life is like that. Energy is like that. What we put out there, we get back. What we move toward, moves toward us. When we fail to act on inspiration, it goes elsewhere. The question is, what are you putting out there and what are you moving toward and what is inspiration offering to you?

A vision board sends a strong signal out into the world and beyond. And a digital vision board reminds you of your desires, as you look at your phone or social media sites multiple times a day. What a great tool.

Are you ready to create a digital vision board?

Creating Digital Vision Boards with Canva

If you have questions, ask them in the comments!

 

Want to make a vision board to hang in your home or office? Click the photo below to check out this kit.

 

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Decocrated Subscription Box Review

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Thank you to Decocrated for sending me the Winter 2019 subscription box for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

Subscription boxes are a fun…and popular…way to try products from different companies. For a set fee, boxes are delivered right to your front door. And the possibilities are endless.

Do you have a pet, love beauty products, enjoy the latest fashions? There’s a subscription box to meet your needs or further your interests. In fact, it’s estimated that in the US alone there are more than 500 different kinds of subscription boxes. Subscriptions vary in price and frequency of delivery, providing affordable options for everyone.

When Decocrated contacted me about trying one of their boxes, I responded immediately. This opportunity offered a fun first experience and created anticipation for receiving a box full of products, curated for the home.

Decocrated Subscription Box Review title meme

What is Decocrated?

Decocrated is a subscription box company that offers carefully selected home decor items. The boxes ship every three months, coinciding with the change of seasons. The company’s mission is to create a beautiful story every season and deliver it to your front door so you can focus on important things, like creating memories.

The pieces all work together, and easily mix with what you already own, creating a fresh look without spending hours shopping. Each box typically contains six to eight pieces, worth approximately $200 total, for a quarterly fee of $79.99.

Included in the box is a booklet filled with decorating tips and ideas for incorporating what you have on hand, so that you can create your own personalized look. A Decocrated subscription box is a fun way to transform your house into a home and tell your unique stories.

Decocrated Subscription Box
Who doesn’t love to receive a box full of goodies?

The Decocrated Subscription Box – Winter 2019

I felt extremely excited about receiving my first subscription box. Mine arrived the third week in December, giving me an early Christmas! I’m especially fond of home decor and creating vignettes, which do indeed tell stories.

Here are the beautiful items from the winter box:

Double Sided Art Print

This 4×6 inch art card is printed on both sides. One side features iconic winter items while the other lists the memorable elements of the season. Pop the card into a frame, clip to a board or simply attach it to a mirror or the refrigerator.

I placed mine in a 5×7 frame, using a piece of festive scrapbook paper behind it. I love that it works well during the holidays and then remains suitable for the entire winter season.

Decocrated Double Sided Art Print
Decocrated Double Sided Art Print, framed.
Two Double Sided Pieces
The two double sided items…art card and tabletop sign.

Double Sided Tabletop Sign

I also appreciate the double sided tabletop sign. It works wonderfully well with some of the other Decocrated winter decor. And flipping the sign over, it becomes an inspirational quote for the rest of the year. I love the versatility of such pieces.

Decocrated tabletop and ceramic trees
Decocrated tabletop sign and ceramic trees.

Ceramic Trees

I have a thing for trees. In nature they draw me. At home I group them throughout the house, using real trees in pots and an assortment of tree-shaped decor pieces. I love this ceramic set from Decocrated.

These beautiful pieces mixed well with my Christmas decorations, however, I enjoy trees year around. I’ll find fresh vignettes for them with every seasonal change.

Decocrated Holiday Vignette
Holiday vignette with Decocrated pieces.

Winter Pillow Cover and Woven Throw

These textile pieces create such cozy vibes. The pillow cover fits standard 18″ or 20″ foam pillows. I used an 18″ pillow that I already own. The colorful print on the pillow looks great on a bench or sofa, paired with the soft woven throw.

I created a cheery holiday vignette with the pillow, throw, tabletop sign, tray (included in the Decocrated subscription box as well) and ceramic trees. After Christmas the pieces combined in fresh ways with other items.

Cozy Decocrated Pillow
What a fun print on this pillow cover!
Soft woven throw.
Soft, woven throw is large enough to snuggle under.

Holiday Tray

I love using trays to create vignettes on. This tray has a stamped metal base and walnut finished sides, with metal handles. It’s the perfect size to hold decor or a stack of books or an afternoon snack.

This adorable…and functional…tray will remain in use throughout the year.

Tray with metal base
Sweet tray with stamped metal base.
Decocrated Tray
And it’s perfect for afternoon tea.

Metal Envelope

Metal items add such interest to decor. I use metal pieces in my garden and in my home so I ooohed and aaaahed when I opened this box. The galvanized metal envelope hangs on the wall or tucks upright into a wooden box, holding mail, floral arrangements or keepsakes.

I hung the envelope in my creative studio. It currently holds artist cards that I purchased last summer in Edinburgh, Scotland. With a bit of artificial ivy added, it pairs cozily with an inspirational metal sign.

Decocrated Metal Envelope
I enjoy metal pieces, such as this envelope.
Metal Envelope holding artistic cards.
Decocrated metal envelope holding cards from Edinburgh.

Wooden Tags

These fun tags are just the right size to hang on the tree as ornaments or attach to gifts. Sorry, family, I kept all of mine! I hung the messages of joy and peace on a small artificial tree in my studio. Daily they remind me of all that I am grateful for.

Wooden tags
Wooden tags…
Decocrated tags
…adorn a small tree.

My Thoughts About the Decocrated Subscription Box

I am delighted with the quality of this subscription box. The pieces are fun, versatile and charming. They mix well with any style decor and work with a multitude of other pieces. Although the winter theme is definitely coziness, I love that most of the decor items transition from the holidays to other seasons.

As the seasons change, I enjoy switching up my decor without having to buy a lot of additional accessories. I like to primarily use the vintage pieces I own, in fresh ways, creating vignettes that tell unique stories.

That makes Decocrated a perfect match for my decorating style. Their pieces allow me to create more with what I have and to freshen any room in my house.

Check out their website by clicking the link below. The winter box is currently on sale for an amazing price. I’m excited to see what spring beauties Decocrated offers!

Winter Subscription Box

How Exciting
Oh how exciting…to open a Decocrated Subscription Box!

 

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Gardening in Winter

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Gardening in winter may seem an impossibility. What about freezing temperatures, lack of sunshine and snow? However, during winter the garden goes dormant, resting before the growing season ahead. This makes January through early March the perfect time to prep.

Check out these tasks to do now, to get the garden ready for spring.

Gardening in Winter title meme

Gardening in Winter

I leave dry plant stalks and ornamental grasses up during the winter. Today perfectly illustrates why. My area received a light snow overnight, turning my beautifully messy garden space into an enchanting work of art.

I must add that I laughed over this occurrence. I plan my blog posts a month in advance. Today’s scheduled post, Gardening in Winter, benefited from the snowfall. It offered me the opportunity to snap wonderfully appropriate photos. Of course I did not know in advance that my post and snow would coincide but I happily accept this marvelous gift.

Six Tasks to do Now

Transplant Trees and Shrubs

These woody plants slumbering during the winter months can be moved while they aren’t growing. Dig up the tree or shrub, leaving a ball of earth around the roots. Move it carefully to the new location.

Replant the tree or shrub at its original depth, water thoroughly and tamp in dirt around the root ball. Water regularly during any dry spells, to help lessen shock from the transplant.

Trim Back Ornamental Grasses

Leave dry ornamental grasses up during winter, to add interest and beauty to the garden. Before spring, trim grass stalks back, to within six inches of the ground. February is a good month for this task in most zones. Ideally, trim grasses before any new green growth appears.

I use a large metal barrel to burn the dry stalks after trimming the plants back. A calm day with no wind is necessary when burning garden debris.

Now is the time as well to dig up any stray ornamental grasses that popped up in the garden in late fall. The plants are easy to spot, due to their tall stalks and it is simple to dig them up while they are small.

Gardening in Winter Grasses
Gardening in Winter – almost time to trim back ornamental grasses

Work the Soil

As the ground warms, prepare the soil for spring planting. Using a tiller or spading by hand, incorporate several inches of compost or shredded tree leaves into the soil. Remove dead weeds from the garden and cut dry perennials and herb stalks back to the ground.

Add a layer of mulch. Or you can wait until spring plants barely poke through the ground and then mulch heavily around them. Mulch reduces weeds, holds in important moisture and protects the plants.

Trim Back Evergreens, Flowering Shrubs and Vines

Now is the time to tidy up flowering shrubs and evergreens. Prune back branches, for healthier growth in the spring. Vines tolerate a good cutting back. I sometimes cut my clematis vines back to the ground although a less severe pruning is fine too.

Don’t prune crape myrtle however. If the plant gets too large for its location, consider moving it.

Gardening in Winter Cranes
Garden cranes stand guard over straggly clematis vines.

Check Garden Containers and Equipment

During those cold wintry days, walk through the garden frequently and check for needed repairs. I leave many of my containers outside during winter. Now is the time to inspect those metal tubs and buckets, clay pots, plant stands, trellises and wheelbarrows. Remove dried flower stalks or weeds from all containers, to prepare for spring planting.

Clean and sharpen shovels and hand trowels. Clean rakes. Inspect garden hoses for splits or cracks.

I have two metal cranes and a rabbit statue in the garden. I check them for damage and remove any garden debris from them.

Dream and Plan

This task is perfect for days when the weather prevents outdoor work. Grab a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate, a notebook and a pen and sketch out the garden. Dream up a new feature. Plan a border. Add a water fountain. Dream really big and create a whole new garden.

Research plants. Think about trying something different. Visit online nurseries, such as this one.

Winter is not just a time for gardens to rest and prepare. This season is a wonderful time for gardeners to dream, plan and prepare as well.

Gardening in Winter Rabbit
Rabbit statue in winter

Ready to Get Ready

I’m looking forward to getting into my garden to carry out these winter tasks. On the next mild day you’ll find me in my backyard garden, pruning, weeding and preparing for spring.

Admittedly, I have much to do. My garden suffered last year from too much rain. The excessive water affected herbs and flowers and encouraged rampant weed growth. By the end of summer, my garden looked wild.

No worries though. Hard work, heavy pruning and weeding will set things right. I don’t mind a bit of wildness, after all. It suits me. It’s that balance of beautiful order and barely contained wildness that so delights and inspires me.

Gardening in Winter Stalks

Check out these other posts, in the Backyard Gardening Series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden

 

Gardening Help from Amazon:


 

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Unpacking My Song for the Year

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I enter into each new year with a guidance system of sorts. For the twelve month journey ahead I carry with me a word, a symbol and a song. Those may seem insignificant. After all, wouldn’t a map be better? Not for me. Those three tools lead me onward wonderfully well providing insight, awareness and direction.

My word for 2020 is curiosity. It is already leading me down exciting paths. The key, my symbol, represents how curiosity unlocks doors of adventure and opportunity. And my song “How Far I’ll Go” is from the Disney film, Moana.

Today I’m unpacking my song for the year. I’m sharing how this tune found me and why it is significant to me.

Unpacking My Song for the Year title meme

 

How Far I’ll Go

I first heard this song in 2017 while flying high above the earth. As the plane carried me back to the US from Italy, I tried to lull myself to sleep by watching the Disney film Moana for the first time. I did not sleep. Instead, Moana captivated me with her thirst for adventure and desire to explore the unknown. I liked the song “How Far I’ll Go” so much that I downloaded it on my iPhone.

Have a listen to the song. Does it stir something in you, like it does me?

Choosing a Song for 2020

As I’ve mentioned before, typically my word for the new year comes to me first, then the symbol and finally the song. This year followed that pattern. As the end of the year approached, I felt drawn to two songs: Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” and Disney’s “How Far I’ll Go”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I think I leaned toward Jack’s song for two reasons. The lyrics contained my word, “curiosity”, and it wasn’t a Disney song. I’ve nothing against Disney at all…it’s just that a couple of my previous songs for the year came from their animations.

Those reasons proved not valid and because of my resistance, I came close to missing my true song for 2020. Fortunately, I decided to listen to both songs before declaring one the winner. I like “Upside Down”, from the Curious George film. It’s catchy and it’s about curiosity.

However, when I listened to “How Far I’ll Go” I immediately responded to it. My heart rate increased and tears filled my eyes. Those are strong indicators that I’ve learned to pay attention to. Once more I listened to both songs, with the same results. “How Far I’ll Go” is my song for this Year of Curiosity.

Unpacking My Song for the Year Moana
Unpacking my song for the year…How Far I’ll Go from Moana
See that line where the sky meets the sea
See that line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.

Unpacking My Song for the Year

That song inspires me…and here’s why.

In the movie, Moana is an island girl, the daughter of the tribe’s king. She’s in training as the next ruler. Moana wants to please her father and be the perfect daughter. Surely stepping into her role on the island is enough to create the life she longs for. Or is it?

For as long as she can remember, the ocean has called to her. A sense of adventure overflows her heart and soul, creating an intense desire to set sail and see where her curiosity takes her.

I’ve carried a similar longing all of my life. Moana’s familial duties initially kept her island bound. My fears waged war with my desires.

The words from the song that make my heart beat faster are these:

“See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me. And no one knows how far it goes. If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I’ll know. If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.”

And these words brought the tears:

“See the light as it shines on the sea? It’s blinding. But no one knows, how deep it goes. And it seems like it’s calling out to me, ‘so come find me…'”.

Unpacking My Song for the Year So Come Find Me
Unpacking My Song for the Year…so come find me.

So Come Find Me

As a child, I often heard my name called. That’s not an uncommon childhood experience, except the calling to me came when no one else was around. From a young age, I climbed to the tops of trees and onto the roof of my house, seeking solitude. In those moments of aloneness and reflection, the voice called my name.

No matter how much I searched for the source, I never found one. The voice seemed distant and yet right there next to my ear. I couldn’t even tell if the voice was masculine or feminine, but it knew my name and it called to me.

I’ve heard that calling throughout my life.

In 2016 my song for the year was “Just Around the River Bend”, from another Disney film, Pocahontas. A line in that song moved me as well:

“Should I choose the smoothest course, steady as the beating drum? Is all my dreaming at an end? Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver, just around the river bend?”

Those dreams that are just around the river bend, that line where the sky meets the sea…they call to me. They whisper my name and say, “So come find me…”

I’ve slain my fears. Nothing binds me. My heart is whole and free, my spirit untethered.

My song for the year reminds me that an adventure calls to me. With the “wind” of courage and hope and anticipation filling my sails, I am discovering just how far I can go.

“Are you brave enough to leave the safety of the shore and set sail?” asks the Dream Giver.

“Yes,” I answer, “yes I am. Going beyond…this is what I am created for.”

“So….come find me.”

“I am on my way. Keep calling to me…”

Dreamer
I am a Dreamer.  I am an Adventurer. Keep calling to me….

I am a Dreamer t-shirt from Solgave Clothing

 

 

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Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

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Oh, the interesting places curiosity is leading me to. Yesterday I learned about the German word fernweh, which literally means “far sickness”.  Fernweh is the strong longing to visit a far away place.

Today I learned more about practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv. I discovered this concept last year, however it recently popped back into my awareness. Curiosity led me down the path of discovery this evening as I learned why reconnecting with nature is so important.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

What is Friluftsliv?

The Norwegian word friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) literally means “free air life”. Coined in 1859 by Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian poet studied the healing effects of nature. He led a national movement to spend more time outdoors.

Practiced today throughout Norway, Sweden and Denmark, friluftsliv powerfully impacts physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Hygge, another Scandinavian custom originating in Denmark, encourages people to get cozy and enjoy social interactions. Friluftsliv on the other hand, gets people involved in uplifting interactions with nature. The custom goes beyond a walk outside, although that is part of it. Friluftsliv is about mindfulness and connecting to a larger whole.

Studies show that mental and physical wellbeing elevate when we engage with nature. That connection pulls us outside ourselves and the small worlds we create. It raises awareness of the largeness of the world and of life.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv on the Tanyard Creek Trail, Bella Vista AR
Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv in the Botanical Gardens of northwest AR.

Benefits of Friluftsliv

We know that walking outside is good for us. However, it goes beyond exercise. Getting outdoors and immersing ourselves in nature centers the mind and the body and resets our emotions. This is especially important during the winter months, when many people react to the lack of sunlight. (Read more about seasonal affective disorder here.)

Additionally, practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv releases the feel good hormones, endorphins, into the body. It improves blood circulation and mood and reduces stress. The practice not only increases creativity, it helps to eliminate mental blocks. And friluftsliv even helps relieve a hangover!

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv at the Botanical Gardens, Springfield MO
Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
And increasing wellbeing at Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

Practicing this centering custom is easy. Get outdoors. In Norway, people regularly spend time outside, even in winter. In fact, many companies there encourage their employees to practice friluftsliv by designating 90 minutes a week for group activities outside.

You can practice friluftsliv too. Start by scheduling a time for outdoor activities. Then disconnect from electronic devices and eliminate distractions. This isn’t the time for chatting with friends as you walk. Friluftsliv is about connecting with nature, not with each other. Group activities are permitted as well. However, let the beauty of nature engage your senses and capture your attention.

Try these activities, to deepen the connection with nature:

  • walk in the woods, along a beach, through a park
  • run
  • hike
  • picnic at the park, in a meadow, alongside a creek
  • meditate or sit quietly outdoors
  • swim, ski, sail or surf
  • explore a forest, a cave, that mountain, a valley
  • camp
  • visit a farm or vineyard
  • garden
Mercy Park
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv at Mercy Park, Joplin MO
Gardening
One of my favorite ways of practicing mindfulness outdoors, gardening.

My Intention

I find myself repeatedly drawn outdoors. Gardening is a favorite hobby and nature speaks deeply to me. Although I’ve connected those longings to my Scottish roots, my DNA results shed light on another possibility. I have Scandinavian ancestry as well, with links to Sweden especially. My desire to practice hygge and now friluftsliv may be in my blood, literally.

That draw I feel, to walk outside even in winter, is not an oddity. It is a calling to get outdoors and center myself, stir my blood and awaken greater creativity.

I am delighted to discover more about this healing practice. As a writer, I spend hours online. It is vital that I disconnect daily from social media, computers and my smart phone and lose myself for a time in nature.

Have you heard of this Norwegian custom? What is your favorite way of spending time outdoors?

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Frilutsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv on my solo retreat. The deck overlooked a gorgeous little lake. The cold didn’t keep me indoors.

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This post is linked to Wellness Weekend 2020

 

 

 

Knives Out Movie Review

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Knives Out is my first movie review for 2020. It’s a fun film. Fans of whodunnits or the game Clue will enjoy this wild twisty turny story peopled with outrageous characters.

Check out the spoiler free review and catch this comedy mystery in the theater before it’s gone.

Knives Out title meme

Knives Out Cast

Knives Out stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel, Riki Lindhome and K Callan. Rian Johnson wrote and directed the film. It carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and moderate profanity, and has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Knives Out is nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay.

Knives Out Movie Review

The Family

Head of the family Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is an eccentric, wealthy crime novelist. For his 85th birthday, he invites his entire family to his mansion to celebrate and then receive important news.

The family arrives, full of expectations. Daughter Linda (Curtis), the real estate mogul, fawns over her father, fusses with husband Richard (Johnson) and frets about their rebellious son Ransom (Evans). Daughter-in-law Joni (Collette), wife of Harlan’s deceased son Neil, brings along her daughter Megan (Langford), eager for monetary handouts. And younger son Walter (Shannon), ever in his father’s shadow, rounds out the family group with his shrill wife Donna (Lindhome) and teenage son Jacob (Martell). The family continually circles around their patriarch, not with concern and care but like predators watching for weakness.

And weakness is present with advancing age. Harlan employs Marta (de Armas) as his caretaker. She not only administers his meds and ensures his rest, she listens to Harlan’s stories and plays a complicated board game called Go with him every evening. Their relationship is more meaningful and genuine than any of the familial connections.

Knives Out Marta
Marta the Caregiver

The Mystery

The morning after his birthday party, with all of his family spending the night in the house, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. Although his death is initially thought a suicide, the household is turned upside down when the police arrive.

As Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) and Lieutenant Elliot (Stanfield) question every family member, the complete truth floats just out of reach. Reality shifts with each interview. Relationships aren’t what they seem. Motives are uncovered. Greed and fear of missing out create a desperation that causes “knives to come out”.

Blanc calmly and methodically sorts through the deceptions, ever closing in on the truth. He combines shrewdness with keen observation to uncover what really happened on the night of Harlan’s birthday party.

Knives Out the Caretaker and the Detective
Knives Out – The Caretaker and The Detective

My Thoughts on Knives Out

In spite of the darker subject, this is a fun movie. Much like in the old Columbo television series, the viewers know more about the situation than the characters in the film do, including Detective Blanc. And yet, there are plot twists that make the story a true whodunnit for the audience as well. As I watched, my mind sorted through stories and statements along with Blanc, puzzling out who was who and how motives drove each person.

Daniel Craig surprises as soon as he opens his mouth. His character speaks with a deep southern drawl, which honestly took me a few minutes to get used to. How do actors master those accents? He is a delight, in a role that differs greatly from his portrayal of James Bond and yet makes use of some of those attributes. He is clever and charming and ever watchful.

One of the more comedic roles comes from K Callan, who portrays Harlan’s mother. If he’s celebrating his 85th birthday, how old is she? No one in the family knows! The dear lady isn’t senile, just invisible to her family. One of the more touching scenes in the film involves her too and a conversation between her and Blanc.

Knives Out The Family

I Love a Good Mystery

Knives Out is funny, playful, thoughtful and satisfying in its conclusion. I love a good mystery. In fact, a whodunnit is one of my favorite film genres. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express too.

Have you seen Knives Out yet? Or do you have a favorite whodunnit? I want to know. Maybe you’ve seen one that I’ve missed!

The Patriarch
Harlan Thrombey, the Patriarch

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End of the Birthday Celebrations

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It’s officially the end of the birthday celebrations. My 62nd birthday was January 9, marking the culmination of 62 days of celebrating by randomly drawing activities from a jar. It’s been fun! It’s been challenging. I’ve learned so much.

Read the post that started the fun romp toward my birthday HERE. And then check out the last activities.

End of the Birthday Celebrations title meme

Final Week of Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper, back in early November. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I drew out an activity and did what was written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations

As the slips of paper dwindled, these are the last activities that I drew.

Shop for an Outfit at a Thrift Store with a $20 Budget

The idea behind this activity was not just thriftiness. Buying gently used clothes instead of new reduces my impact on the world’s resources. Have you ever thought about the energy and resources consumed by the clothing industry? Read this great article about the subject.

I found this activity an outlet for my creativity too. I chose to shop at my local Goodwill Store with a $20 bill tucked into my pocket. Could I do it?

Yes!

I purchased a cute jacket, a simple black top and skinny gray pants….for a total of $16. Thanks to the jacket’s half price tag, I stayed under budget. I love the way things work out!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Thrift
End of the Birthday Celebrations – thrift store outfit

24 Hour Liquid Fast

I changed this activity from a water fast to a liquid fast. Nutritionally, the difference felt important. I think it made the activity easier and I benefited more from it.

My mornings are always liquids. I don’t eat solid food until noon. On this day, however, lunch was a huge glass of apple celery juice. By mid afternoon my empty stomach rumbled a bit. But by evening, my hunger completely disappeared and I felt energized. It’s good to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Throughout the day, I consumed freshly prepared juices, fruit smoothies, lots of herbal teas and a brothy soup.

I ended up completing a 36 hour liquid fast and felt wonderful as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Liquid Fast
Refreshing apple celery juice for lunch.

Write Chapter One in House H(a)unting Book

This activity felt SO GOOD to complete. I’ve had a book idea for many years. After quickly writing the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start this project. The reason, I decided, is because I wasn’t ready.

The years of crafting blog posts helped me hammer out my own particular writing style. And I’ve learned much this past year about trimming away the excess and keeping my writing tight and more focused. Now I’m ready.

The first chapter in this non fiction book came together extremely well. I’m excited to continue the work, chapter by chapter.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Chapter One
Chapter One…

Visit a New Place, Within 100 Miles of Joplin AND Hike a New Trail

It made sense to combine these two activities. I’m thankful for Google! How simple to type in “fun activities within 20 miles of Joplin” and scroll through the list. I considered options farther away from my hometown, however it gets dark early this time of year and this was a solo adventure.

I ended up near Galena, Kansas at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Located in Schermerhorn Park south of the town, the nature center provided the perfect opportunity for visiting a new to me place. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes looking at animals, reading through info about southeast Kansas and opening drawers containing hands-on activities. I stood for a time watching bees in an indoor hive. I’ve never seen a hive up close. The glass walls allowed viewing without disturbing the bees. A short tunnel to the outdoors enabled the insects to easily exit the building and return to the hive.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Southeast Kansas Nature Center’

Hiking

Conveniently, down the hill from the nature center a couple of trails that I’ve not hiked before snaked through the woods. Alone in the this part of the park, I first walked along the Roos Trail.

I then returned to the parking lot and headed west toward the Schemerhorn Cave. Only vaguely aware of the cave’s location, I veered right onto the trail branching off of the main track, hoping my sense of direction guided me well.

Perhaps because I was alone, I felt mildly uneasy. Or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Dark, in which paranormal activity occurs in a cave. As I approached the cave though the uneasiness grew. I felt creeped out. By that I mean I picked up strange vibrational energy. I paused on the trail and considered turning around. However, these activities are meant to challenge me and move me beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t sense danger. I sensed something otherworldly.

When I found the cave, I didn’t linger there or enter it. Distinct, negative energy haunts that area. Returning to the car I turned around twice, looking back along the trail, sure that something followed me.

In the car, with the doors locked, I looked up info about the cave. There are accounts of paranormal activity there. People have reported hearing ghostly voices and phantom gunshots in the area. The outlaw Jesse James supposedly hid out in that cave. My intuition was spot on.

Hike at Schermerhorn Park
I much preferred this merry little stream over the foreboding cave.

Do a Vlog in Place of a Blog

This is the last activity I drew from my jar, on my birthday. How perfect. This video came together more smoothly than my last one! Check it out.

Truly the End of the Birthday Celebrations

That’s a wrap! During the longest running game that I’ve yet created, I completed 62 activities. I swapped out several. Interestingly, the activities that I tried to pre-plan for specific dates…a play, a book signing and a movie…didn’t work out. I learned it’s better NOT to try to schedule random activities!

Allowing the activities to choose me works much better.

Here’s what else I discovered. I can do challenging things. Many of the activities pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I contacted brands and companies to work with, most of which have not yet responded. That’s okay. I learned how to better craft a pitch. And other opportunities came to me, including a paid sponsorship with another brand that sought me out. This game created around me an energetic space of openness and receptivity. I’m a magnet…for all kinds of deeper wonderment.

I’m still working on the submission packet for the writing fellowship. And I have a couple of activities to put finishing touches on. Overall, what an amazing time of trying new things, having fun and growing. This might be my best birthday ever. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than expressing creativity and upping my life game. The experience launched 2020 in a powerful, magnificent way. I am excited to see what happens next!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Empty Jar
End of the Birthday Celebrations – empty jar

Here are the other weeks of activities:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Want to create your own fun game? It begins with ideas, strips of paper…and an empty jar.

 

 

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