Year of Curiosity in Review

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Another year slipped by and what a year, right? Writing the 2019 year end review and looking forward to 2020 I knew not what lay ahead. And I’m glad I did not. I’d rather go with the flow of life and learn as I go.

I’ve been writing year end reviews since I began blogging in 2014. This year that’s still my intention…and yet it was such a different year that I struggled initially with what to share. Typically I offer highlights from the past 12 months. Ultimately, I decided to do that this year too, with a slight twist. For the year that we all experienced shaped our journeys. How could it not?

So here it is, the Year of Curiosity in Review, with thoughts about the year in general thrown in.

Year of Curiosity in Review title meme

Year of Curiosity

2020 was my Year of Curiosity with the key as my symbol and “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana my song. I love following curiosity to see where it leads. It truly is the key that opens doors for me to adventures and new opportunities. With my love for travel, I hoped curiosity would lead me on many adventures, both near and far.

I also noted that 20/20 is a term associated with eyesight. Therefore, the year could bring greater clarity and vision with new things to see.

All those things proved true, however not in the way I imagined.

The Unexpected

I certainly saw things I never expected to see: a world wide pandemic, a shortage on toilet paper, the craziest election year I’ve ever experienced, conspiracy theories of all kinds, face masks, people against face masks, people who believe anything they read on social media, misinformation, racial inequality and fear, anger, frustration and loss. Ugliness came to the surface in many as a response to these dramatic and oft time painful shifts.

I’ve shared before that when we get squeezed, what’s inside comes out. I saw that in abundance this year. People turned on each other. Families divided. Friends parted ways. I heard words spew out of mouths that I never thought I’d hear and saw lines drawn in social media posts that created more division. Great clarity did indeed come this year as we all revealed more of who we really are, inside.

The Good

This year brought wonderful surprises too. I welcomed a precious new grandbaby, a child long desired by her parents. Finley Grace brings such joy and hope in the midst of chaos.

I saw people go above and beyond, helping others, being light, offering from whole hearts. Others sacrificed their time and resources. Those in the medical community became front line warriors. Opportunities did arrive, for adventures, expansion and for growth…so much growth. My trust in the goodness of God and in those who do good, in spite of it all, deepened greatly.

And in my dark backyard, I witnessed an event in the sky that had not occurred for 800 years. Standing there I realized how small and temporary we humans are. Time marches onward, in circles that repeat and overlap. Humanity endures, learns and grows through struggles, birth pains and sheer determination.

Year of Curiosity in Review happy couple
Year of Curiosity in Review – happy parents to be, my daughter and her husband
Year of Curiosity in Review Finley Grace
Finley Grace, one of 2020’s greatest gifts

Year of Curiosity in Review

Here are the highlights from this most unusual year!

The Blogs

What a year of growth for the blogs. A simple system that I created, planning out in advance each month’s blog posts and social media posts, proved so helpful. I keep a notebook with the months on separate pages and write out the details for each day. Doing so saves me time and keeps me on track with my goals.

I took a travel writing class in January that I highly recommend, Travel Blogging Blastoff by Pete and Heather Rees. Check out the course here. Although I didn’t get to travel in the way I intended to, due to COVID, I adapted.

Mondays are lifestyle and review posts on Cindy Goes Beyond

What a joy to expand the number of companies and brands I worked with this year. I accept assignments and campaigns from companies I trust and like, while staying open to trying new products. I worked with more than 40 brands and love the experiences. And they seem to appreciate what I offer. Many companies send repeat assignments and make me an affiliate. Check out this post I wrote for Smartr Skin as an example.

I’m happy to report as well that I’ve earned the most income so far, from the blogs this year. I had my first $1000 month from blogging which is exciting and encouraging. It’s onward and upward from here.

Year of Curiosity in Review smartr skin
Year of Curiosity in Review – Smartr Skin campaign on Instagram.

Wednesdays are all things health related on Journey With Healthy Me

I like the schedule I’ve worked out, on posting. Three posts a week are much more manageable than the ten a week I used to do, between the two blogs! Wednesday my focus is on Journey. I continue to share health tips, recipes and personal experiences. Pop over to my other blog, if you’ve never visited before. Check out this post, Vegan Ramen Noodles.

Year of Curiosity vegan ramen noodles
Vegan ramen noodles as shared on my other Instagram site

Fridays are travel related posts on Cindy Goes Beyond

What does one write about, when travel is restricted? I choose to revisit countries and cities, in my memory and in photos, and write fun stories about those places.

In my notebook I keep a list of possible travel stories and topics and add to those as ideas pop into my head. I’ve not run out of things to write about, nor will I. Read this 2020 post Fun British Phrases and What They Mean.

Year of Curiosity in Review British phrases
An example of a travel post

I also go on at least one road trip a month, visiting places in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. My little travel mascot that I adopted this year, VW Van Ferni, accompanies me. I snap a photo of her wherever we go. Greg often travels with me too. We wear masks, except when outdoors, and follow social distancing as we explore.

A trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee postponed until next year and my solo trip to Edinburgh for the Christmas Market canceled. These local road trips help ease my desire to travel while sharpening my travel writing skills. And I enjoy new experiences in my own area. Check out Philbrook Museum Gardens, Ferni’s debut trip.

Ferni at Philbrook Museum
Year of Curiosity in Review – Ferni at Philbrook Museum Gardens in Tulsa, OK

These posts from this year are special to me

The following 2020 posts are worth mentioning.

My Favorite Post: Dropping Keys – I enjoy writing all of my posts. This one, however, is my favorite this year and holds a special place in my heart.

Post I’m Most Proud Of: Fix Her Crown Award – this one means a lot to me as it honors women who walk alongside other women and fix their crowns, without calling attention to their deeds. I created the award because my post Fix Her Crown continually brings in readers.

Most Viewed Post of 2020: This gardening post, Growing Clematis Babies, continues to bring in tons of traffic. I wrote it two years ago and yet it’s consistently my top post. So far it’s had more than 60,000 views. My most viewed post written in 2020 is Dropping Keys followed closely by Fix Her Crown.

Year of Curiosity in Review dripping keys
Year of Curiosity in Review – my favorite post

The Next Adventure

I can’t label this year as bad. Different? Yes. Stressful at times? Yes. Divisive? Oh yes. Full of opportunities, joys and blessings? Also yes. And it did deliver sharp clarity about many things that helped me to cast a bigger vision. I let go of much this year…beliefs, fears, assumptions and people. But I gained some of the most profound experiences of my life. For all of these things, I’m grateful.

Do I feel trepidation about the coming year? After all, the end of the calendar year doesn’t mean an end to COVID or chaos or growing pains or division. However, I feel no anxiety about what’s next.

A new year brings fresh perspectives, amazing opportunities and intriguing experiences. I enter 2021 with an open heart and excitement about my theme, symbol and song. I’ll share more about those in January.

2020, I thank you for the lessons and the blessings. You shaped me and helped me let go of that which no longer serves me. 2021, I welcome you. The Year of the Wild Woman is here.

2021 Wild Woman



Check out some favorite products from 2020:


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It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre

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

Two weekends ago, I needed to visit a place in Oklahoma that I had not visited before. I drew out this unique activity as part of my 63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday celebrations. Check out Holiday Flair to see the date I drew this activity.

Because of snow in the forecast, I decided to stay fairly close to Joplin. I live in southwest Missouri in the four state area, with Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas all within miles of Joplin. Looking for places nearby, that I had not visited before, I came upon the Coleman Theatre Beautiful, in Miami, Oklahoma.

A mere 33 miles from Joplin, the location seemed perfect. And I’d never been to the Coleman Theatre although I’ve always wanted to see it. Perfect again. Checking their website, I found that daily tours are available. Even better, a classic Christmas movie that I love was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, December 12. It was a one time showing. Snow or no snow, I committed to going by purchasing a ticket online.

I was going to It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre.

Its a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre title meme

Coleman Theatre History

Located on Route 66, in the northeastern town of Miami, Oklahoma, the Coleman Theatre Beautiful attracts visitors from around the world. George L. Coleman Sr. built the vaudeville theatre, which opened on April 18, 1929. Opening night packed the house with 1,600 people who paid $1.00 each for a ticket.

The theatre features a Spanish Mission Revival style exterior with an elegant Louis XV interior. One can find gargoyles, cherubs, dolphins and faces throughout the facility. And the theatre is home to the “Mighty Wurlitzer” an organ built in 1928 and delivered for installation in February 1929. The Wurlitzer is the only grand organ of its time that still resides in its original home.

The Coleman eventually transitioned from a vaudeville theatre only to a movie theatre too. In its long history, the Coleman’s door have never closed. Movies still play there and performers take the stage. Stars at the Coleman include Will Rogers, Bing Cosby, Jim Thorpe and the magician Harry Blackstone.

The Coleman’s mission is to provide quality arts and educational programming while maintaining and promoting the historical significance of the theatre. Programs range from ballets and operas to jazz and dance bands. Occasionally they show silent movies with the Mighty Wurlitzer providing the music and sound effects.

Coleman Theatre Exterior
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre – Spanish Colonial Mission exterior

It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre

It did indeed snow on the Sunday of my road trip, however in my area accumulation was very light. I left home early enough to drive cautiously and arrive well before the movie so I could explore the theatre. Masks were required in the theatre and attendees were required to social distance. With so many seats available, on the ground floor and mezzanine, social distancing was not a problem.

Take a tour of this gorgeous building with me.

Celebrity Park

As I approach the entrance to the theatre, I pass the Celebrity Park. This pretty little courtyard features benches and a fountain. On the exterior wall of the building is the Wall of Fame.

This area recognizes people with ties to the community who have achieved high levels of professional accomplishment and who have contributed to the community. I didn’t walk into the courtyard although I pause to take a photo. I believe there are pictures on the Wall of Fame and information about each person honored.

Celebrity Park Coleman Theatre
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre – Celebrity Park

Coleman Theatre Lobby

Walking into the lobby, I am immediately struck by the splendor of the Coleman. The plush, dark burgundy carpet, the sparkling glass lights, the dark wood with gold trim all contribute to the elegance of the interior.

Concessions are sold behind a single counter in the front lobby, at a refreshingly reasonable price. Sodas and popcorn are cheap, as are candy bars. A cup of hot apple cider is $2.00. Homemade cookies sell for $1 each. I pick up a cup of hot cider to sip on during the movie.

The interior is beautifully decorated for Christmas in November and December. I chat with the ticket man and pick up my souvenir ticket. There are photos from the theatre’s early days, models of the building and a guest book to sign. As I slowly walk the long hallway off of the lobby I think of the Paris Opera House and Phantom of the Opera. The interior reminds me of that building’s grandeur, on a smaller scale.

Front lobby at the Coleman Theatre
Front lobby in the Coleman Theatre
Gold Statue in the Coleman Lobby
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre – gold statue in the lobby

The Coleman Theatre Mezzanine

Climbing the stairs to the mezzanine, I look over the railing into the lobby and hallway below. Two entrances lead into the gorgeous theatre room at ground level and two open into the upstairs balcony but I’m not ready to find a seat yet.

There are seating areas on the mezzanine with lamps creating inviting pools of light. I could easily sit with a book and simply enjoy the warm ambiance.

Restrooms for men and women are available on both floors.

Up to the Coleman Theatre mezzanine
Up the stairs to the mezzanine
Looking down from the Coleman Theatre
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre – looking down from the mezzanine
Seating area on the mezzanine
Welcoming seating area on the Coleman mezzanine

The Coleman Balcony

Many people seem inclined to find a seat in the balcony. I climb down to the railing so I can snap photos before the movie starts.

The view from the balcony is indeed magnificent. The stage is grand with its dark burgundy curtains and gold trim. Christmas decorations add a festive feel on stage. These are removed before the movie starts.

That’s the Mighty Wurlitzer on the left. Box seats flank the stage and continue up one interior wall.

Looking up I spy the grand chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Now I’m really thinking of Phantom of the Opera and that Paris Opera House. It’s so beautiful.

Looking down to the stage from the balcony
Looking down from the Coleman Theatre to the stage
Grand chandelier
Grand chandelier in the Coleman

The Coleman Theatre Room

As the time for the start of the movie nears, I choose to sit downstairs in the main theatre room.

I find a seat in the center of the room, near the back. People spread out, in family groups and couples and single viewers, leaving plenty of space for social distancing.

I sipped my hot apple cider and talk with the family sitting several rows in front of me. They have not seen It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart. Their excitement is contagious. I’ve seen the movie many times however it’s been at least six years since my last viewing.

The lights dim, the movie starts….and yet no sound accompanies the film! Someone behind me jokes that perhaps this classic was a silent movie. It turns out that a new sound system was installed in the theatre a few days before this showing. There’s a minor glitch however a tech person comes to our rescue.

While sound is restored, a friendly and knowledgeable staff person provides history about the Coleman. We even get to hear a couple of songs from the Mighty Wurlitzer and the entire audience sings Christmas carols together. I truly don’t mind the delay.

In a short time It’s a Wonderful Life begins, with sound, and I sit back to enjoy the movie.

The Coleman stage from ground level
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coleman Theatre – stage at ground level
My view of the Wurlitzer from my seat
My view of the Wurlitzer from my seat

I’ll Visit Again

What a moving experience, to watch this heart warming Christmas movie in such a beautiful place. I loved it so much that I’ll return for other movies and performances.

The theatre emits such interesting energy. Yes, it’s supposedly haunted. According to stories, at least  three ghosts roam the Coleman: a former projectionist whose bay rum cologne gives away his presence, a whistling spirit in the basement, which once housed a crematorium, and ghosts near the dressing rooms off stage. I did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary. My spider sense only picked up on warm, tingly energy of the good kind. I felt settled and happy in the Coleman, a testament to many years of joyous entertainment and wonderful experiences.

The theatre hosts the Sunny Side Film Festival in March. It’s a competitive event for filmmakers and screenwriters as well as songwriters, musicians, photographers and poets…and their independent films. I look forward to a fun weekend at the Coleman Theatre Beautiful, watching indie films in a lovely setting.

If you live in the four state area, check out the Coleman’s website for upcoming events! I just might see you there.

Enjoying my visit to the Coleman Theatre
Enjoying my visit to the Coleman Theatre Beautiful

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Amazon. Click photo below.



Stories to Tell

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Although 63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday sounds like a LOT of activities to cross off, the time seems to fly by. This year I have a little more than two months of experiences and activities to complete and yet, six weeks in it’s time for my third update.

I’ve noticed that a definite theme seems to arise, around the slips of paper that I draw for the activities. A month ago, the activities centered around Holiday Flair. The last two weeks, the theme is Stories to Tell.

I placed three blog post related activities in the jar…and drew out all three within days of each other. Other activities tell their own stories as well. Come check out the tales these experiences tell.

Stories to Tell title meme

Stories to Tell

As I’ve done in the last two birthday updates, I’m listing each activity on the day I drew the folded slip of paper out of the jar. And I’m sharing some of the activities and adding whether they are completed or in process.

12/8/2020 Pick a song for 2021 (completed)

Every year, I select a word/theme, symbol and song for the year. Or rather, those things pick me. Through repetition and synchronicities, I discover what my word/theme, symbol and song are. This year, for example, my word is curiosity, my symbol is the key and my song, “How Far I’ll Go”.

My word/theme, symbol and song carry great significance for me, especially as I enter the new year. They provide a roadmap of sorts, for the year ahead.

My theme for 2021 is wild woman and my symbol is the moon. I’m very excited about the upcoming journey and I’ll share much more about the theme and symbol soon. The song for the year is always the last component to arrive. When I selected this birthday activity out of the jar, it was more about an increased awareness around what my song for 2021 is, not a search for one.

And the song that revealed itself to me, in multiple ways during the last two weeks is….drumroll….”Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. This song means a lot to me for many reasons and I’m thrilled to claim it as my song for 2021. I’ll explain why it’s the perfect song for me and share the stories in a future blog post.

Stories to Tell Girl on Fire
Stories to Tell – song for 2021 Girl on Fire

12/9/2020 Write a post about a topic I’ve not written about before (in process)

12/10/2020 Plan a solo trip to Edinburgh for Christmas Market (completed)

Sadly, this trip was originally scheduled for this month. My intention to do my first international solo trip to a city I dearly love didn’t happen because of the pandemic. Not only is a flight to Scotland out of the question currently, the Christmas Market AND Hogmanay both canceled.

I spent a fun afternoon, however, planning out a seven day solo trip to Edinburgh during the Christmas season. I’m not sure when I’ll get to enjoy that trip but it’s all planned out! And the stories about the anticipated trip are already spinning in my imagination.

Stories to Tell Edinburgh Christmas Market
Stories to Tell – Edinburgh Christmas Market

12/11/2020 Reach out to one or two older women who shine as their glorious selves for interviews and share on the blog (not completed)

12/12/2020 Only eat fruit for a day (completed)

I enjoyed meals and snacks made from only fruit for a day…and I was also glad to only do that for one day! This time of year I appreciate hot cooked meals! Fruit only for the day was a nice change up and challenge though.

The day started with a huge fruit smoothie. I dined on orange, avocado and green olives for lunch and ate a mixed fresh fruit salad for dinner. Snacks consisted of sliced Honeycrisp apples.

Because my curiosity led me to research which foods are actually fruits and which are vegetables…the answer is surprising…I birthed a fun blog post for Journey With Healthy Me.

Stories to Tell fruit only for a day
Stories to Tell – fruit only for a day

12/13/2020 Write a blog post featuring wild women that I admire (in process)

12/14/2020 Eat the rainbow for a day (completed)

I admit I enjoyed this activity a bit more than the fruit only day simply because I included cooked food. Although I’m plant based and eat a variety of nutritious, colorful food, I focused this day on getting as many colorful foods as possible. Truly, this is an excellent daily intention for these wonderful foods help create amazing stories about my health.

Stories to Tell eat the rainbow
Stories to Tell – eat the rainbow

12/15/2020 Find an Online Art/Crafts Class (completed)

Browsing for something fun, artsy and different, I stumbled upon a YouTube video series called 5 Minute Crafts. These projects are clever and easy to complete in a short amount of time. Although I have not completed a project yet, I did find and watch the series of videos.

Check out DIY Phone Cases to Make in No Time

Online class
Stories to Tell – online art/crafts class

12/16/2020 Meditate for 63 minutes (not competed)

12/17/2020 Request an application for the writer’s residency at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland (completed)

This activity needs little explanation, if you know me at all. The writer’s residency is for 30 days, all meals and accommodations provided, at a beautiful castle south of Edinburgh. I’ll jump at any opportunity or excuse to visit Scotland. Staying in a castle is icing on the cake…vegan cake of course ;-). Imagine the stories I’d craft from the experience.

This residency requires a written request for an application. I don’t know what the requirements are, exactly, however I think the writer must have a published book. All the more incentive to get my book finished!

Stories to Tell writers residency
Stories to Tell – writer’s residency in a Scottish castle

12/18/2020 Design, on paper, a wild woman outfit (in process)

12/19/2020 Wear a temporary tattoo (completed)

One of the easiest and most fun activities so far, I’ve enjoyed sporting a tattoo this week…a temporary one, that is. I ordered a packet of temporary tattoos from Amazon. When they arrived I sorted through the many options and settled on a tiny key. Why? The key is my symbol for this year and represents curiosity unlocking doors to opportunities and adventures.

The application process was simple and I must say I’ve loved wearing this small tattoo on my right wrist. I look at it often and smile. It reminds me that curiosity truly is the key to ongoing journeys and growth. Plus it brings to mind the poem that I love, Dropping Keys. It’s so important to me, to keep dropping those keys to the “beautiful, rowdy prisoners”.

And yes, I’m seriously considering getting a permanent key tattoo.

12/20/2020 Wear clothes backwards for a day (not completed)

12/21/2020 Visit a place in Missouri I’ve not visited before (not completed)

On the Homestretch

As I passed the halfway point, on my way to my 63rd birthday, I paused to reflect. Although they bring extra activities into my day that require thought, time and resources, I value these experiences. They teach me so much about trust and about myself.

The activities stretch me, move me ever beyond comfort zones and show me how much I am capable of. It’s not really the end result that matters so much. For example, my chances of getting into the writer’s residency in Scotland are slim. However it is the putting myself out there, the striving, the trying new things that matters. All these experiences tell stories about me and who I am and where I am headed.

Please, though, if you see me shopping at Wal-Mart wearing my clothes backwards, don’t take any photos!

Temporary key tattoo
Wearing a temporary key tattoo

Fun Finds from Amazon:




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New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World

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

The countdown to the end of the year is on. In less than two weeks, we bid 2020 goodbye and welcome 2021.

In the US the new year is welcomed with the drop of a ball in New York City’s Times Square, resolutions and hugs and kisses from loved ones. However, different cultures embrace different customs.

Check out these New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world and discover new ways to welcome 2021!

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World title meme

New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World

From Spain to Turkey, Russia to Denmark, these New Year’s Eve traditions are unique to the individual countries. In the US, we’ve adopted a few customs from other countries, like singing Auld Lang Syne…a Scottish song. However, I love the diversity and richness from these cultures around the world.


In Denmark, the sign of a good New Year’s Eve celebration is the number of broken plates piled up outside the door. The tradition involves throwing dishes at your neighbor’s, friend’s and family members’ front doors.

The more broken plates, the more luck people believe they will have. The broken china symbolizes leaving ill-will behind before the new year begins.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Denmark
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – breaking plates in Denmark


Sprinkling salt on your doorstep as the clock strikes midnight is considered good luck in Turkey. The tradition also promotes peace and prosperity throughout the coming year.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Turkey
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – sprinkling salt in Turkey


In Spain, residents eat exactly 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. The tradition began in the late 19th century. Vineyards in the Alicante region came up with the tradition, as a way to sell more grapes at the end of the year. The celebration quickly caught on.

Today it’s customary to eat one grape for each chime of the clock at midnight, to welcome a year full of good fortune and prosperity. Packages of 12 grapes, in a clock shaped container, are sold just for this tradition.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Spain
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – eating grapes in Spain


Italians don red underwear, to welcome in the new year. Their culture associates red with fertility and fruitfulness and good luck. Couples hoping to conceive in the upcoming year make sure they have on their red undies as the clock strikes midnight.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Italy
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – wearing red undies in Italy


Bring your appetite if you ring in the New Year in Estonia. People celebrate the approaching year by eating seven, nine or 12 meals. Those numbers in Estonia are considered lucky throughout the country.

And if someone can’t finish their meals, that’s a bonus. People often leave food on their plates to feed family members visiting…in spirit.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Estonia
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – eating many meals in Estonia


When baking bread on New Year’s Eve, in Armenia, bakers add a special extra ingredient…luck. It’s tradition to knead in wishes for prosperity and good luck in the coming year, in every loaf of bread baked on December 31.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Armenia
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – baking lucky bread in Armenia


On the last night of the year, it’s customary for unmarried women in Ireland to sleep with mistletoe under their pillows. Placing the plants under their pillows helps the women dream of their future husbands…and perhaps find them after waking!

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Ireland
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – mistletoe under the pillow in Ireland


Many people in different countries make a toast with champagne on New Year’s Eve. However, in Russia, they take that tradition one step further. People write their wishes for the upcoming year on a slip of paper, burn it in a candle flame and then add the ashes to their glasses of bubbly.


New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Russia
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – toasting with ashes in Russia


In Greek culture, onions symbolize rebirth and growth. People hang strands of onions on their doors to encourage growth in all areas of their lives, throughout the new year.

New Year's Traditions from Around the World Greece
New Year’s Traditions from Around the World – hanging onions in Greece

South Africa

Firm believers of “out with the old and in with the new”, people in South Africa throw old furniture and even appliances out their windows and into the streets on New Year’s Eve. This tradition, which is falling out of use due to pedestrian injuries, symbolizes making space for new things to flow into life.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World South Africa
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – tossing out old furniture in South Africa


Japanese culture welcomes in the new year with a bowl of soba noodles. The ritual, known as toshikoshi soba, translates to “year crossing noodles”. Although the origin of the tradition is uncertain, it’s believed that the soba noodles, which are long and thin, represent a long and healthy life ahead.

Also, the noodles are made from buckwheat, a very resilient plant. People eat the noodles to signify their own resilience and strength.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Japan
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the world – eating soba noodles in Japan


In Germany, people celebrate the new year with a unique activity called bleigieben, also called lead pouring. Using a candle flame, each person melts a small piece of lead or tin in a special spoon and pours the liquid into a container of cold water. The shape that the melted lead or tin forms reveals the person’s future in the upcoming year. A ship signifies travel. A heart shape means love in the future. A pig or food shape indicates plenty.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Germany
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – melting lead in Germany


In Brazil, people wear white for New Year’s Eve. Those near coastal regions place white flowers and candles in the water. Their offerings to Yemoja, a water deity, ensures blessings throughout the upcoming year.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Brazil
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – white flowers in Brazil


Festivities in Ecuador center around bonfires. Each fire burns a scarecrow, called an effigy, that represents a politician, celebrity or pop icon from the previous year. Called ano viejo, “old year”, these bonfires held on the last day of the year represent cleansing all the bad from the past year to make room for the good to arrive in the new one.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Ecuador
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – burning scarecrows in Ecuador


The Scots celebrate the new year in a big way. Due to the Christmas ban that lasted 400 years, festivities in Scotland shifted to New Year’s Eve. The famous celebration is called Hogmanay.

First Footing, which began during Viking times, is perhaps the most well known New Year’s Eve tradition. A first footer is the first person to cross the threshold of the home, after midnight. That person brings good fortune for the coming year. Traditionally, first footers were dark haired, handsome men…dark haired in contrast to blond Vikings, who were NOT welcome in houses…but today friends and neighbors serve as first footers. It’s customary to bring a simple gift such as food or whisky during first footing.

Fire ceremonies play a huge role in Scottish celebrations too as people carry torches through the cities to ward off evil. Street parties and dancing go on all night and fireworks light up the sky.

New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World Scotland
New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – Hogmanay in Scotland

Saying Goodbye to 2020

As I share these New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world, I do so with the keen awareness that many of the festivities and celebrations are different this year, or even canceled. The challenges of 2020 may impact celebrations but they don’t annihilate them. People will find other ways to welcome in the new year while keeping traditions alive.

Scotland, for example, is hosting its first ever virtual hogmanay. You can sign up to take part in their festivities HERE. I’ve already signed up! You see, I intended to be in Edinburgh for the Christmas Market this December and I’d love to experience Hogmanay too. I’m trusting I’ll get that opportunity another time.

Do you have New Year’s Eve traditions? Did you discover a new one in this post to add to your festivities? I plan to create my own Scottish bonfire in my backyard firepit, on New Year’s Eve, and burn my own little effigy that represents 2020. A bowl of soba noodles would be nice too!

I wonder if it would scare my neighbors if I throw china at their front doors?

Happy New Year
Happy New Year!

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Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated

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

This is a paid affiliate partnership with Decocrated. All opinions are my own.

What a wonderful time of year! I love the holiday season that begins, for me, with the beginning of fall and concludes after my January 9 birthday. From cool, crisp weather to seasonal décor to candlelight and festivities, I love it all.

Come take a tour of my holiday decorations, this Christmas wonderland with Decocrated featuring pieces from a year of subscription boxes from this fun company. This is one of my favorite things about Decocrated. The pieces from the spring box work for fall and Christmas. And last winter’s box meshes perfectly with this winter’s items. Two items from the Halloween box are on display in one of my Christmas vignettes.

In my opinion, that brings even more value to the boxes. Most of the Decocrated items remain in use in a variety of ways throughout the year.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated title meme

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated

I received the Decocrated winter box right after Halloween. It was fun to begin decorating with items that can go up before and remain up after the holidays. I liked that transition.

When the Christmas box arrived, decorating for the holidays began in earnest. Check out the fun Christmas box items, in the following vignettes. I’ll also point out items from previous boxes so you can see how wonderfully the pieces work together.

Christmas Hot Cocoa Bar

I’ve always wanted to create a hot cocoa bar. Decocrated inspired me to do so this year with their fun pieces. The two tiered tray is from the summer 2020 box. It holds a cute gingerbread set I’ve owned for years and on the bottom shelf, my teapot, a couple of red and black mugs and a hot chocolate sign. The sled shelf is from the winter 2020 box. It’s the perfect size for my stacking snowman set, a wooden tree, the sweet travel inspired art and a yummy scented candle. And the piece that started this cocoa bar, the sign post, is from the Christmas 2020 box.

In the black wire shelf, containers of loose leaf herbs stand ready for cups of fragrant hot tea. Tea bags rest in the round black and red cannister while healthy hot cocoa mixes and chai latte packets, all from Four Sigmatic, provide the “cocoa” in in this cocoa bar. I’ve enjoyed this festive yet practical set up so much. The sled shelf has a permanent place here in my kitchen where herbs and tea bags will always offer refreshment.


Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated cocoa bar
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – cocoa bar

Dining Room Vignettes

As I’ve stated before, my dining room more properly is my vignette and plant room. I never eat at the little round dining table! Instead, the room changes with the seasons. Currently it features a variety of Christmas décor and festive vignettes.

Snowman Village

I broke up my snowman collection this year, grouping them around the house. On this small table, nestled against the open door into my creative studio, a cheery group of snowmen share space with a couple of Decocrated Christmas pieces.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year framed print (which reverses to a Joy to the World print) and the wooden red truck sign, both from the Christmas box, add to the fun in this snowman gathering.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated snowmen
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – snowmen

More Snowmen

On the dining room table, more snowmen cluster around the black candle ring from the fall 2020 box. It looks so Christmasy with its ring of dark red berries. I’ll definitely use the candle ring for each season by changing what surrounds the base and the color of the candle tapers. The framed snowman print is a drawing my late brother-in-law drew when he was a boy. I love using his art in my home. As an adult Ray became an amazing artist. Sadly, cancer cut his life short. I think he must smile that I framed his snowman.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated candle ring
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – candle ring from the fall box

Christmas Lanterns

After I unpacked the Christmas box, I rearranged this top shelf on my tall bookcase so that the sled shelf could move to the kitchen. The adorable winter village from the winter 2020 box remains, as do the wooden perpetual calendar and the “hello winter” mug. And last winter’s double sided framed art print moved to hang on the wall.

New to this collection is the wooden lantern. I love how versatile this piece is. It looks Christmasy with a silver poinsettia bow. However, after Christmas I’ll replace it with a winter-themed bow. As each season arrives, this lantern will get a new bow or a floral arrangement to freshen it up.

The second shelf remains as is, with its winter theme. The winter village framed print and the large greenery print are from the winter 2020 box while the ceramic trees that I love so much arrived in the winter 2019 box.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated winter village
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – winter village and wooden lantern

Black and White Christmas Vignette

And my new this year black and white Christmas vignette continues to bring me joy. The wooden crate on the top shelf came with the fall 2020 box. I filled it with pumpkins for fall and Halloween. It now holds black and white cloth ornaments. The black lantern on the second shelf, another extremely versatile piece, arrived in the spring 2020 box. And the black lanterns on the bottom shelf are Halloween box pieces. I’ll use them year around.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated small bookcase
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – black and white vignette

Living Room Vignettes

Moving on to the living room, the following vignettes feature Decocrated pieces as well, from boxes throughout the year.


I created this cozy spot on my vintage sofa with these pieces from Decocrated. That metal and wooden tray, that I use ALL the time, is from the winter 2019 box. Working with brands and products, many of my photos feature this tray. The snuggly throw is from last winter’s box also while the tree pillow is from winter 2020. I love the JOY pillow from the Christmas box. It’s reversible. The other side offers a greenery design that matches the large framed print from the winter 2020 box, with the addition of bright red berries. Flipping the pillow to that side, this cozy corner can remain in place until spring.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated joy
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – JOY pillow

Entry Table

On the bottom shelf of my chippy entry table, the gold planter from summer 2020 gets dressed for Christmas with sprays of greenery and berries. It looks classy and festive. The ceramic Santa candle holder adds playfulness.

The top of the shelf features an eclectic group of Santas sharing space with a wire cloche, a bowl of favorite ornaments and a reminder for the season.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated entry table
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – entry table

Explosion of Festivity

I call this next vignette an “explosion of festivity”! I enjoyed creating a burst of color with the gold canister set from the spring 2020 box. If you had asked me last year if I’d ever decorate with gold pieces, I would have said “NO…I’m a silver person.”

I love that Decocrated gently pushes me beyond my comfort zone by introducing new pieces into my décor. I appreciate this canister set and the gold planter. Both remain in use every month. The mirror reflecting all that joyful festivity is from summer 2020.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated gold canister set
An explosion of festivity! The exuberance in this vignette literally makes me laugh.

Bedroom Reading Nook

One more vignette to share, this one from my bedroom. I have many, many more Christmas vignettes, displayed in every room in my house. These featured in this post provide a sampling of how I use Decocrated pieces, from all of the seasonal boxes, to create a cozy, merry and fun Christmas atmosphere in my home.

This is my reading nook, near the windows in my bedroom. The blue and white striped rug, from the summer 2020 box cozies up the glider while the blue pillow, from the same box, adds comfort. My daughter gifted me the warm, snuggly blanket.

That’s a vintage metal tray beneath the cheerful red and white checkered cloth. While I’m reading a good book that tray holds a cup of hot tea and a healthy snack.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated cozy
Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated – reading spot

Do You Love Decorating?

What about you? Do you enjoy decorating and creating vignettes in your home that tell stories?

I love getting the Decocrated boxes each season. They come right to my front door. As you see, the pieces work well with existing décor, no matter your style, and they work well with items from other seasons. And sure, you can shop at places like Hobby Lobby…I still do…however the Decocrated pieces are becoming my foundational items.

If you’d like to try a seasonal box…or go ahead and sign up for a year of decorating fun…click my link I LOVE TO DECORATE. And, type in my code CINDYM15 to save $15 off a seasonal box or a yearly subscription. The yearly subscription is the best value and you won’t miss a box.

There are a limited number of winter 2020 boxes still available. These pieces are perfect for after the holidays and will take you to spring. The spring 2021 box comes available soon, as do the Easter add on boxes.

Merry Christmas, my dear readers and friends. May you experience the joys and blessings of the season. And together we enter into a bright new year.

Christmas Wonderland with Decocrated wooden lantern


Cindy Goes Beyond is an affiliate with Decocrated Curated Home. I may earn a commission for items purchased through my links, all at no extra cost to you.

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland

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Part two in my movies that inspire travel series, this post features films with storylines set in Ireland. (Check out the Italy movies here.)  My connection to Ireland runs deep, with ancestors on my mother’s side originating there. Her mother’s maiden name was McCool and all eight children in the family sported red hair, possessed fiery spirits and displayed playful natures.

Before I ever set foot on the Emerald Isle, I enjoyed movies and characters based there. I smiled over the charming accents, that in reality proved even more delightful in person. And my heart beat faster as I took in the beauty of those green hills and quaint Irish villages that served as backdrops for the films.

Check out these movies that inspire you to visit Ireland and discover the magic.

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland title meme

The Quiet Man  1952

This classic romantic comedy stars John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald.

A retired American boxer returns home to Ireland, anxious to reclaim his homestead and forget his past. He falls in love with a spirited but poor redhead, the younger sister of an ill tempered man determined to keep the two apart. The budding relationship is fraught with complications, one of which arises from the boxer’s shadowy past.

Fun fact: After the credits roll, there’s a scene with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara waving goodbye. O’Hara whispers something in Wayne’s ear that evokes a priceless reaction. Only the two actors and the director know what was said, and none ever revealed the line, even in memoirs. We do know O’Hara at first refused to whisper the words, saying she “couldn’t possibly say that to Duke”. The director insisted, saying he needed a genuinely shocked expression from Wayne. He got it.

Watch The Quiet Man free on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland the quiet man
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – The Quiet Man

My Left Foot  1989

Based on the true story of Christy Brown, My Left Foot stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker and Kirsten Sheridan.

Born with cerebral palsy, into a large impoverished Dublin family, Christy overcomes a difficult childhood to become a painter and writer. The only limb he has any control over is his left foot. Unable to speak as a child, Christy surprises everyone with his intelligence and sensitivity, expressing himself through his art.

Fun fact: Daniel Day-Lewis insisted on remaining in character between takes, and therefore refused to leave his wheelchair. He ultimately broke two ribs from sitting in a hunched over position in the chair during weeks of filming.

Watch My Left Foot on HBO or rent on Amazon

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland My Left Foot
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – My Left Foot

Far and Away  1992

This sweeping adventure drama stars Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Thomas Gibson.

A young couple struggle in Ireland, with family, traditional views and property eviction. They flee to the United States with the dream of owning property in Oklahoma during the big land rush.

However, life in the new country is difficult too. The man becomes a bare hands boxer and his bride’s parents follow them to the US with the intention of taking their daughter home. How long can they keep their dream alive?

Watch Far and Away on HBO or rent on Amazon

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Far and Away
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Far and Away

Michael Collins  1996

This historical biopic stars Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Aidan Quinn, Julia Roberts, Stephen Rea and Ian Hart.

Set in 1916, this historical film explores the Irish revolution against the UK, led by Michael Collins. He develops dramatic new tactics for gaining independence including urban guerilla warfare and assassinations of Irish informants in the UK government. Although the British are willing to negotiate by 1921, Collins returns to Ireland with compromises that threaten to spark civil war in his beloved country.

Fun fact: Due to its historical nature, Michael Collins became the second most successful movie ever released in Ireland.

Rent Michael Collins on Amazon Prime


Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Michael Collins
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Michael Collins

Waking Ned Devine  1998

Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Fionnula Flanagan and James Nesbitt star in this fun comedy.

When Ned Devine wins the national lottery, he literally dies from shock. News of the win, but not of Ned’s demise, spreads through the pretty Irish village of Tully More. As lottery officials arrive to confirm the winning ticket, Ned’s friends scheme to keep the prize money. They quickly discover, in hilarious ways, the difficulties of keeping a secret in a small town.

Fun fact: This sleeper film, shot on a low budget of $3 million, filmed in five weeks and ultimately grossed more than $50 million.

Rent Waking Ned Devine on Amazon Prime


Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Waking Ned Devine
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Waking Ned Devine

Angela’s Ashes  1999

This dramatic biopic stars Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens and Michael Legge.

Angela’s Ashes follows the true story of young Frankie and his family as they struggle to escape the poverty in the slums of pre-war Limerick. The movie includes moving themes of love, suffering, deprivation, family dysfunction, striving and eventually, triumph.

Fun fact: The interior church scenes were shot in Dublin. Because of its controversial content, permission was denied to shoot in any Limerick churches.

Watch Angela’s Ashes free on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Angela's Ashes
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Angela’s Ashes

Once  2007

This musical stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

A young Dublin man is a singer/song writer who earns a living working in his dad’s Hoover repair shop by day and singing on the streets by night. He meets a Czech girl in the city who plays the piano every chance she gets and does odd jobs by day and cares for her mother and daughter by night.

During an eventful week in Dublin, the pair write, rehearse and record songs  together. They hope to create a demo that will land a music contract. What they discover is that their songs document their budding love story.

Fun fact: Bob Dylan was such a fan of the film that he arranged to have the two leads, Glen and Marketa, open for him on part of his world tour.

Watch Once on HBO or rent on Amazon

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Once
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Once

Ondine  2009

Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Dervla Kirwan and Alison Barry star in this romantic mystery.

On the coast of Cork a divorced fisherman discovers a woman named Ondine caught in his fishing nets. His precocious daughter, whose health is failing, believes the woman is a magical selkie. This tender film explores mystery and that powerful human emotion, hope.

Fun fact: The moving song that plays during the closing credits, titled Braille, was only available to subscribers of the artist’s newsletter. It never officially released.

Rent Ondine on Amazon

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Ondine
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Ondine

Leap Year  2010

Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott and John Lithgow star in this romantic comedy.

Anna travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on February 29. According to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on leap year day must accept.

Anna’s careful plans face major setbacks however when bad weather derails her journey to Dublin. With the help of a handsome small town innkeeper named Declan, Anna’s cross country trek just might result in an engagement…but to whom?

Fun fact: The bridge that Anna and Declan stand on while having a conversation about his ex-fiancé is located in St Stephen’s Green, a park in Dublin. (I’ve stood on that bridge!)

Rent Leap Year on Amazon Prime 

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Leap Year
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Leap Year

Brooklyn  2015

This romantic drama stars Saoirse Ronan, Emery Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson and Jim Broadbent.

Set in the early 1950s, the film follows a young woman who leaves her job in a grocery shop in Ireland to immigrate to Brooklyn. Her mother and sister remain in Ireland. All appears to go well in Brooklyn as she finds a job, studies at night to learn bookkeeping and meets a charming young Italian man.

However, she lives torn between two countries, with responsibilities and desires, anguish and emotions, connected to each. Which life will she choose?

Fun fact: The scenes for Brooklyn, New York were filmed in Montreal, Quebec, as the budget couldn’t cope with turning 2015 Brooklyn back into 1950s Brooklyn.

Rent Brooklyn on Amazon Prime


Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland Brooklyn
Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland – Brooklyn

Movies That Inspire You to Visit Ireland

How many of these films have you seen?

I’ve watched them all. And the longing that makes my heart beat just a little faster, as I view these movies, becomes the passion that fuels my trip to Ireland…and beyond.

And since spending time in Dublin, I’m especially drawn to re-watch Once and Leap Year. Additionally, because of actor Alan Rickman’s untimely death, I’d love to see Michael Collins again too.

What movies are inspiring you to travel?

Blessing in a Dublin pub
Blessing in a Dublin pub

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Holiday Flair

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It’s time for a birthday activities update! This year, following on the success of last year, I’m selecting random activities from a jar and completing them as I can. Check out 63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday for more info about this fun game I made up.

I’m posting an update every couple of weeks and featuring highlights of the activities I’m doing or have completed. Because my birthday falls right after the holidays, I include a number of Thanksgiving and Christmas related activities. Check out these fun birthday activities with a definite holiday flair.

Holiday Flair title meme

Holiday Flair

As I did in the last post, I’m listing each activity on the day I drew the folded slip of paper out of the jar. And I’m highlighting a good selection of activities and adding whether they are completed or in process.

11/25/2020 Send an encouraging text or message to 63 people (in process)

11/26/2020 Create a new holiday dish for Thanksgiving (completed)

Thanksgiving was very low key this year. Greg and I ate a Thanksgiving meal with our two daughters, a son-in-law and two grandchildren. With a new baby keeping them busy, I didn’t want my daughter and son-in-law to cook so I ordered a heat and serve Thanksgiving meal from Cracker Barrel this year. Greg and I enjoyed a plant based meal.

I created a roasted veggie bowl that featured vegan mashed potatoes and vegan gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, pecans and acorn squash, and a dab of cranberry sauce. It was delicious!

I’ve never made vegan gravy before. However, it’s so easy. Melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in a small saucepan, stir in 2 tablespoons of gluten free flour until mixture bubbles, add dashes of onion powder, salt and pepper and a pinch of thyme, then stir in 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth. Heat just to boiling then simmer a couple of minutes.

Holiday Flair Thanksgiving meal
Holiday Flair – vegan Thanksgiving meal

11/27/2020 Do a unique Christmas Activity (completed)

Okay, I admit I switched two activities. This one I drew two weeks ago and to fulfill it, I intended to participate in the drive by Joplin Christmas Parade. The parade cancelled, due to COVID and the danger of people gathering to create the floats.

I drew another activity…contact a person I haven’t talked to since childhood (not completed yet) and moved it into the earlier unique Christmas activity slot.

For this activity I instead enjoyed a stroll through my favorite park. Mercy Park offers a Christmas Tree Trail this month featuring 21 trees decorated by area businesses and organizations. There’s also a fun light and music presentation.

Walking after sunset one evening, I loved stopping by each lit and decorated tree and admiring them. Every tree is uniquely beautiful, which is perfect for a unique Christmas activity!

Holiday Flair Christmas Tree Trail
Holiday Flair – Christmas Tree Trail at Mercy Park

11/28/2020 Build a bee house (not complete yet but I’m very excited to create one for my backyard garden)

11/29/2020 Write out 63 memories from my life (completed)

11/30/2020 Adopt a Christmas tradition from one of my ancestral countries (completed)

I’ve enjoyed learning about Christmas traditions from around the world. See my post HERE. I’ll have fun incorporating several of those into my Christmas this year.

Through Ancestry DNA I’ve discovered my countries of origin: Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Nigeria. This Christmas I’m including traditions from Scotland (yule bread), Ireland (red candle in the window Christmas Eve), Germany (St Nicholas Day), Norway (a house nisser) and Nigeria (sparklers on Christmas Day).

Not only do I get to add to my traditions, I connect more deeply with my ancestral roots.

Holiday Flair red candle
Holiday Flair – I’ll place this red candle in the window on Christmas Eve, to honor an Irish Christmas tradition

12/1/2020 Spend an entire day in silence (not completed yet)

12/2/2020 Become a Scottish Lady (completed)

This activity makes me smile. This time of year, especially, several land companies in Scotland sell small parcels of land to anyone who wants to buy one. Based on Scottish custom, owning even one square foot of land makes you a landowner and gives you the right to use the honorary titles Laird, Lord or Lady.

It’s a perfect…and fun…way to connect with the land that I love as nod to my Scottish heritage. I now own one square foot of land in the Scottish Highlands. My certificate arrived with my title. Call me Lady Cynthia Lauderdale Moore.

Plus, every order contributes to the planting of native trees. I’m helping to preserve the Scottish Highlands. Get your plot of land HERE.

Holiday Flair Lady
Holiday Flair – a fun gift to myself that helps preserve the Scottish Highlands

12/3/2020 Have a mini retreat at home (completed)

This time of year, as a new year approaches, I value a long weekend retreat. Typically I find an Airbnb or a cottage where I can spend time in solitude planning, reading, writing and relaxing.

This year, because of COVID, I chose to do a mini weekend retreat in my own home.  My bedroom became my “hotel” room. And from noon on Saturday until about 6:00 pm Sunday I enjoyed retreat activities such as an extended time of reading, journaling, writing on my book (another birthday activity), coloring (birthday activity) and watching a few Christmas movies on Netflix.

As I do while on a solitary retreat, I prepared healthy meals and snacks. I did not do blog or real estate work during my retreat or things like laundry or general housework.

This mini retreat at home was so enjoyable and productive that I intend to do them more often!

12/4/2020 Spend a day writing on House Haunting (completed)

This activity gloved perfectly with my mini retreat at home. I spent Sunday writing on this book that is literally stories from my life.  The chapters are flowing well and accumulating! I’ll check in with publishers soon.

I enjoyed writing on the book so much that I also intend to devote at least two Sundays a month to its completion.

Holiday Flair House Haunting
Holiday Flair – my book is a work in progress

12/5/2020 Learn to Knit (in process)

12/6/2020 Visit a place in Oklahoma I’ve never been to before (completed – Coleman Theatre in Miami OK)

12/7/2020 Do a progressive dinner through Joplin (not completed yet)

Birthday Celebration

I realized an important truth for me this past week. For most of my life, I expected other people to celebrate me on my birthday. And of course, my parents did during my childhood.

However, as an adult I quickly discovered other people don’t always have the same ideas and traditions about celebrating birthdays. I spent many sad birthdays lamenting that fact. And you know what? Somewhere along the way it became less important that others celebrate my birth and more important that I celebrate the day by being absolutely who I am and doing the things I most enjoy.

These extended times of celebrating my birthday with activities are perfectly in alignment with who I am. I’ve made an incredibly fun and engaging game of it, one that I play alone for the most part. And I love this way of celebrating.

On January 9, 2021, as I declare Happy Birthday to me, I’ll mean it with all my whole, joy filled heart.

Holiday Flair mini retreat
Holiday Flair – I loved my mini retreat at home

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Fun Facts About Big Ben

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When visiting London, one of the most iconic structures in the grand old city is Big Ben. In fact, the tower is one of the most recognizable buildings around the world. Big Ben symbolizes the United Kingdom and parliament and frequently graces still shots of London.

We all recognize Big Ben however how much do we really know about it?

Check out these fun facts about Big Ben and discover something new.

Fun Facts About Big Ben title meme

Fun Facts About Big Ben

Before diving into the rest of the fun facts, let’s discuss the name. The most surprising thing about this tower is that its name isn’t really Big Ben! The largest bell in the tower is nicknamed Big Ben. The tower’s official name is currently Elizabeth Tower, changed from Clock Tower in 2012 in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

A hundred years ago the tower went by the name St. Stephen’s Tower. The clock within the tower is known as the Great Clock.

Because everyone refers to the tower as Big Ben, I will too throughout this post.

Big Ben’s Stats

The tower stands 315 feet tall and contains 11 stories with 334 steps rising to the belfry. Each of the four clock faces is 23 feet in diameter and composed of 300+ sections of opal glass. The hour hand is 9.2 feet long while the minute hand is 14 feet long. Twenty eight energy efficient bulbs illuminate each clock dial.

From 1939 to April 1945 the clock faces remained unlit, in compliance with wartime blackout rules.

The Big Bell

Big Ben is the nickname of the largest bell in the tower. It weighs 13.7 tons, stands 7.2 feet tall and has a diameter of 8.9 feet. It’s intended name was Royal Victoria.

The original bell cracked during testing in October 1857. The replacement bell developed a crack too, in 1859. They turned that bell a quarter clockwise and installed a lighter hammer. The bell remains flawed but it works.

When struck, the bell chimes with the musical note E. Four smaller bells rest beneath Big Ben. They ring on the quarter hour and chime in G sharp, F sharp and B.

Fun Facts About Big Ben red bus
Fun facts about Big Ben – it’s currently undergoing renovation and has scaffolding around it

For the Birds

In 1949 a flock of starlings roosted on the clock’s minute hand. As more and more birds gathered, their combined weight slowed the time-keeping mechanism, setting it back five minutes.

On New Year’s Eve 1962, heavy snow and ice slowed time as well. The clock rang in the new year 10 minutes late.


Except for rare instances, such as those listed above, the clock is considered the most accurate in the world. It stays that way with the use of copper penny weights on the clock mechanism. Removing or adding a penny changes the clock’s accuracy by two fifths of a second per day.

They replaced three of the pennies for the London Olympics in 2012.

Keeper of the Clock

The keeper of the Great Clock is Steve Jaggs. He ensures that the clock is well maintained and oversees the changing of the time twice a year. He also heads up a team of clockmakers responsible for all of the clocks in the Palace of Westminster.

Prison Inside

Did you know a prison exists inside Big Ben? One third of the way up the stairs is the Prison Room. MPs, in breach of codes of conduct, were imprisoned there.

It was last used as a prison in 1880 when newly elected MP Charles Bradlaugh refused to swear allegiance to Queen Victoria on the bible. He spent one night in the room. There’s a pub named after Bradlaugh in Northhampton.

Fun Facts About Big Ben Westminster
Fun facts about Big Ben – there’s a prison room inside

Twitter Account

Big Ben has its own Twitter account! It tweets the appropriate number of BONGS on the hour, every hour. That’s all that the account tweets…no replies, no retweets…and yet it has more than 430,000 followers.

Is the Light On?

When the Ayrton Light is illuminated above the clock face, that means parliament is in session.

Latin Inscription

The Latin words beneath the clock face read Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam. The phrase means, “O Lord keep safe our Queen Victoria the First”.

Christmas Bells

Big Ben’s chimes first aired internationally in 1932 during King George V’s Christmas Broadcast.

Fun Facts About Big Ben with the bridge
Canva photo: Big Ben without the scaffolding


Big Ben is often featured in films. The earliest recorded film cameo was Stage Fright in 1950. It’s appeared in many other movies, including 28 Days Later (2003), V for Vendetta (2006), Spectre (2015) and London Has Fallen (2016). Plus the big tower features in 17 Disney films!

Who Can Tour Big Ben?

As of 2010, only residents of the UK can tour the tower. And even the British must be sponsored by a member of parliament. Tourists are no longer allowed inside.

Leaning Tower

During its 161 years, Big Ben developed a slight tilt. The clock tower leans about a foot and a half off center, pointing slightly northwestward. The cause of the lean? The London clay beneath the tower is drying out.


Big Ben is currently undergoing renovations. When I visited in 2017, scaffolding surrounded the tower and remains in place today.

The clock was dismantled, piece by piece, cleaned and repaired. Architects are modernizing the tower, making it more energy efficient and adding an elevator, a kitchen and a toilet. Until that work is completed in 2021, Big Ben chimes only on New Year’s Eve, Remembrance Sunday (a UK holiday) and other special occasions.

Fun Facts About Big Ben - featured in films
Fun Facts About Big Ben – it’s often featured in films  Canva photo

A Must See When in London

When my sisters, mother, niece and I visited London, catching a glimpse of Big Ben was high on our list of must sees. Our first day in London, riding on the hop on/hop off bus, Big Ben suddenly came into view. What a thrill to see it. Even surrounded by scaffolding, it looked gorgeous.

The light rain ceased and as the sun peeked out, a rainbow appeared, arcing over Big Ben. We’d see the big clock tower several more times while in the city, however I’ll never forget my first sight of this iconic structure.

Have you seen Big Ben?

Fun Facts About Big Ben rainbow
My favorite photo of Big Ben. See the rainbow in the sky?

Check Out These Travel Tales From England Posts:

Ghost Stories from London

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

The Tower of London Ravens


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The World’s Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic

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Have you heard of Four Sigmatic? I’ve seen this Finland based company’s products before, most recently at The Veggie Table in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

I’ve tried four of their products now, and I love what Four Sigmatic offers so much, that I became an affiliate with them. This health conscious company makes it easy to add the most nutritious foods on the planet into your diet.

How you ask?

Read on. The world’s most nutrient rich foods in Four Sigmatic are available to you.

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic

About the Company

The founders of Four Sigmatic grew up in Finland, foraging in their backyards and enjoying the benefits of all kinds of mushrooms. They recognized that perhaps the rest of the world didn’t use mushrooms as much as they did and wanted to change that.

From their website:

“Four Sigmatic foods are the 100 most nutrient dense, most studied foods on the planet. And now they’re easy to add to your daily routines. We’re making these foods as easy as possible to eat and use and talk about. Because the world is asking more of you. Of everyone. We’d all feel a lot better doing that work if we got off the hamster wheel of coffee jitters and hangovers and sugar highs.”

Tero birthed the company. He grew up on a family farm in Finland that’s been home to 14 generations…and counting. He deeply respects nature and founded Four Sigmatic with others who do as well. Four Sigmatic products are in more than 65 countries now, including the US. They only use the most studied ingredients from the most trusted sources.

Four Sigmatic includes familiar foods in their products such as green tea, cacao, hemp and coconut. And they included some less familiar, like Reishi, Cordyceps and Ashwagandha.

Four Sigmatic Logo

The Products I’ve Tried

These are the four products I’ve tried so far. And let me just insert this here, because I know you might wonder. The Four Sigmatic products contain medicinal mushrooms, the healthiest kind not the hallucination inducing kind. So do the products tastes like mushrooms?

Not at all. There’s no mushroom taste, just the added benefits that they deliver.

Adaptogen Beauty Shots with Tremella

The first product I tried from Four Sigmatic, these ready to drink shots are amazing. Pomegranate and blueberry juices combine with Tremella mushrooms, biotin and vitamin C to give skin a healthy glow, from the inside out.

Tremella helps to retain moisture, revitalizing skin. Pomegranate, blueberry and vitamin C are antioxidants that fight aging. The shots are vegan, organic, gluten free and very low sugar, with 1 gram. The juices provide a delicious tart flavor that I love.

The shots don’t need refrigeration. Simply twist off the top and drink…at home or on the go. Four Sigmatic also offers Focus shots and Immune Support shots.

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic shots
The World’s Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic – Adaptogen Beauty Shots

Mushroom Cacao with Reishi

I love a cup of hot chocolate, however since becoming plant based, it is difficult to find a dairy free, low sugar one that I like.

This blend from Four Sigmatic is perfect! The decadent drink contains organic cacao, organic coconut sugar (2 grams), organic Reishi mushroom powder, organic stevia and hints of cinnamon and cardamom. It’s refined sugar free, vegan and gluten free.

The Reishi mushroom, called the queen of mushrooms, reduces stress and prepares the body for a restful night’s sleep. That makes this hot chocolate an excellent nighttime drink, especially after a busy day.

Simply add the contents of a packet to a cup of hot water or warmed almond milk. Mmmm. I heat a mugful of almond milk in a small saucepan on the stove, just to the boiling point, whisk in the cacao mushroom mix and serve. It’s such a delicious, warming drink and I sleep well after finishing my cup.

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic hot cacao chill
Get a great night’s sleep with Four Sigmatic Hot Cacao with Reishi

Mushroom Cacao with Cordyceps

This hot chocolate blend makes a great substitute for coffee in the mornings. (And just so you know, coffee lovers, Four Sigmatic sells amazing coffee.) Rich with organic cacao, organic coconut sugar (2 grams), organic cordyceps mushrooms and organic ginger you’ll feel revitalized and ready to go. Like its evening counterpart, Hot Cacao with Cordyceps is vegan and refined sugar and gluten free.

Cordyceps mushrooms provide endurance and help performance, especially during exercise. It also reduces fatigue and boosts strength. Mix the content of one packet in 1/2 cup of hot water or plant based milk, stir well and go!

I heat water in my electric kettle and pour over the blend in a mug. It tastes like dark chocolate to me and gets me going strongly into my day without the jitters.

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic hot cacao with cordyceps
The World’s Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic – mushroom cacao with cordyceps

Chai Latte with Reishi and Turkey Tail

This luscious blend makes a wonderful nighttime drink as well. Delicately sweet, the chai latte contains organic coconut milk powder, organic coconut sugar (1 gram), organic Reishi and Turkey Tail mushroom powders, organic stevia and a wonderfully spicy blend of organic cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and black pepper.

And of course it’s vegan and caffeine free so there’s nothing to interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Reishi helps the body relax and Turkey Tail contains powerful antioxidants that support the immune system. Plus Turkey Tail improves the balance of gut bacteria, which positively impacts immunity.

Mix the contents of one packet in a mug of hot water or plant based milk and enjoy. I’ve tried this with both water and almond milk and I like it both ways. For the first time, I’m considering the purchase of a frother to use with my chai latte blend.

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic chai latte
The World’s Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic – spicy and sweet chai latte

Get Your Four Sigmatic Products

I love this company’s focus on healthy foods…and not just healthy foods but the best of the best! And I love that I’ve found a hot chocolate that tastes so delicious without dairy, refined sugar and additives.

Ready to try something from this wonderful company? They carry an assortment of coffees, hot cacaos, shots, elixirs and plant based protein powders. This is a company I already trust. I know you’ll love them and trust their high quality products too.

Use my LINK to check out their website and their products. Then use my discount code CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE to save 10% off of your order.

Questions? Ask me. And if you enjoy Four Sigmatic products too, let me know what your favorite is!

The World's Most Nutrient Rich Foods in Four Sigmatic products


Cindy Goes Beyond has an affiliate partnership with Four Sigmatic. I may make a commission on products purchased through my links, all at no extra cost to you!