Pancakes and Pillowforts

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It’s time for another adventure, thanks to The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition book. I look forward to these fun adventures. Since I don’t know what the activity is, until I scratch it off in the book, there’s always a thrill of excitement along with a sense of entering the unknown.

This month’s adventure perfectly suited the day and my mood.

I randomly selected Adventure #2, Pancakes and Pillowforts.

Pancakes and Pillowforts title meme

The Adventure Challenge Solo Edition

The Adventure Challenge books contain scratch off adventures, suitable for adults, families and individuals. Each hardbound book contain 50 fun and unique challenges to experience with a partner, spouse, friends, family members or on your own.

The challenges encourage you to get off your phone and electrical devices and connect with each other…or more deeply with yourself. The challenges are the perfect way to explore your city or the great outdoors, try something new, reconnect with your inner child or make new friends.

The keepsake book makes it easy to document the memories, with snapshots and a few words about the experience.

There’s a catch though. The challenges are hidden. You don’t know what the challenge is, until you scratch it off. If you’ve followed me for very long, you KNOW I love playing games built around randomness. The Adventure Challenge books are like the games I play, where I draw random slips of paper out of a jar, and do the activity I select. There are no “do overs”, in those fun games I make up or in The Adventure Challenge.

Pancakes and Pillowforts

My instructions for this activity:

“Make yourself your favorite breakfast items, grab all the pillows and blankets in your house (yes, all of them) and look up some old school radio online, preferably 60s and 70s.

Feast on your breakfast in bed, surrounded by all your blankets and pillows. When the food is gone, dim the lights, close your eyes and immerse yourself in a world where TV and phones don’t exist.”

I smiled big time over this activity. As a child, I loved making pillowforts. And as an adult, I love piling pillows and extra blankets on my bed.

For my meal, with my taste buds already primed for Spanish Rice with black beans, THAT became my breakfast. Because sure, I could definitely enjoy this dish for breakfast! And I didn’t need to purchase anything since my pantry contained all the ingredients for the meal.

Pancakes and Pillowforts
Pancakes and Pillowforts – Adventure #2 in the Solo Edition

Setting the Stage

While the Spanish Rice simmered on the stove, I prepped for my evening adventure.

Two soft, cozy blankets joined nine pillows on my bed.

I lit a dozen candles scattered around my room.

Gathering some dried herbs, including lavender from Scotland, I lit a small charcoal briquette placed in my ceramic burner and let it get ashy.

A woven wooden tray provided a surface for my bowl of Spanish Rice and black beans and a cup of hot peppermint tea, steeping in the kitchen.

And finally, I selected a 70s station on Amazon Music, for easy listening after my meal. (Get Amazon Music for 30 days free HERE. Play it through the Echo Dot or an app on your phone.)

Pancakes and Pillowforts candlelight
Pancakes and Pillowforts – candlelight

Enjoying the Adventure

I carried my meal into my room and after snapping a few photos with my iPhone and the Instax camera, the adventure began.

Dried sage, lavender, cedar and sweet grass burned on the charcoal briquette, releasing their sweet, cleansing scents into the air. I dimmed the lights, enjoying the flickering candles around the room as I dined and sipped my hot tea.

Snuggled into the pile of pillows and soft blankets, I remembered building pillowforts with my sisters and later with my children and grandchildren. This experience felt perfect.

After the meal, I started the playlist called Rediscover the 70s. For the next hour, I closed my eyes, relaxed into the coziness surrounding me and listened. Queen, Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon, AC/DC, The Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye and Bruce Springsteen charmed me with their songs.

I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and a relaxing hour listening to music from my teens.

Pancakes and Pillowforts playlist
Pancakes and Pillowforts – 70s playlist

Pursue Your Own Adventures

Do these adventures sound fun to you?

Challenge books are available in solo, family and couples editions. Each book contains 50 scratch off challenges. Check out the various books and the camera/book kits HERE. Use my code GOINGBEYOND to save 10% off of your order.

You can also purchase the camera HERE, from Amazon. The instamatic photos add to the fun, plus there’s a spot to add them in the book as you document the challenges.

I’m enjoying the book full of challenges. Although I originally thought I’d do one a week, it’s more naturally worked into one a month. And that’s fine with me. I’m looking forward to another adventure next month and to experiencing an adventure while on my trip in May.

If you purchase a book, let me know which adventure you do first!

Pancakes and Pillowforts solo adventure


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, all at no extra cost to you.



Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022

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

I have a paid affiliate partnership with Decocrated. All opinions are my own.

It’s officially spring, the season of rebirth and new beginnings. I love this time of year as my sleeping garden wakes up and the trees bud out. It’s important to me that my home reflects this beautiful season.

The Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 Boxes helped me reset my vignettes and freshen up my décor. Take a peek at how I incorporated these delightful pieces into my home. And take advantage of an AMAZING offer from Decocrated, at the end of the post. If you’ve been interested in this fun home décor subscription box, NOW is the time to grab a box at an incredible discount.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 title meme

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022

If you are new to Decocrated Curated Home, check out my initial review HERE. This subscription box company specializes in curating home decor that mixes beautifully with what you already own and use. The boxes arrive to your front door four times a year, in time for each new season.

Plus Decocrated members have access to the online Decoshop and add-on boxes that come out around holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter and 4th of July.

Spring Box 2022

The new spring box celebrates the joy of the season with floras blooming and birds chirping. It features dark natural woods, black metals and dusty sky blue along with hints of rose.

Easter Box 2022

This holiday add-on box, available to Decocrated subscribers only, adds Easter icons such as bunnies and eggs. It features dark natural woods and black metals, to coordinate perfectly with the spring box, and a dusty blue, soft rose and light green color palette.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 easter box
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – Easter Box

Top Shelf Vignette

All of the new Easter goodies and several from the 2022 Spring Box landed on a top shelf in my dining room. Confession: my “dining room” is actually the room I decorate the most, rather than eat in. It’s situated in the center of my 120+ year old house and I walk through it multiple times a day. Years ago, Greg removed the wall and French doors separating the living room and dining room, creating a large space full of light from the huge windows. I love the flow in these rooms and the natural light.

Look what came together to form this charming vignette.

From the 2022 Spring Box

The wooden pedestal with the bird cage is so versatile. I’m using them together here, with a fat light pink candle and spring candle ring inside. However, you can use the pieces separately too, as a stand to hold anything from cupcakes to collectibles, and as a metal cloche to cover a flower arrangement or a trio of candles.

The adorable blue ceramic birds add a whimsical touch to any vignette. I love birds and own five…so far…sets of ceramic or metal birds. They grace so many of my vignettes, year around. I love this pair of blue birds. And the strand of blue beads is one of two from the Spring Box. The other strand is part of another Easter display.

From the 2022 Easter Box

All of the items from the Easter box are grouped together here.

The long wooden tray with black metal handles forms the foundation for the sweet ceramic bunny holding the pale pink egg, the wooden whitewashed egg with the delicate floral design and the two sided art card in the clip frame. That handy clip frame comes from the Spring 2021 Box. I love it for holding the art cards. On the other side of the Easter card is a collection of colorful eggs. When Easter is over, I’ll go back to the spring art card.

Beneath the pedestal and cage is the pillow cover from the Easter Box. With its blue and white striped pattern, I chose to use it as a runner in this display. I’ll pop a lumbar pillow in it for summer. The cute…and inexpensive…fabric carrots came from Hobby Lobby. You’ll see two more in another vignette.

And hanging on the wall above this fresh vignette is the wooden BUNNY TRAIL sign.

I love how this vignette turned out. It makes me smile every time I walk by it.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 bunny trail
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – top shelf vignette

Dining Room Table Vignette

On the table I never eat at, rests another grouping from the the Spring 2022 Box with a few of my own décor pieces. I love how I can create something new from what I already own, and the items from Decocrated.

This simple grouping features the glass vase with jute details and the faux lamb’s ear stems, from the 2022 Spring Box, on one end. Accompanying it are items from my collection: a light green votive holder and a pale pink bowl filled with speckled spring eggs.

On the other end, the white wire and metal cloche holds more speckled eggs. And the ceramic bunny and candy dish were made by Greg’s mother in 1961. I’m ever so careful with these vintage handmade items. However, I don’t want to keep them bubble wrapped in a box, never seen or enjoyed. They remind me of my mother-in-law, who passed away in 1999.

The pieces rest on the wooden table runner, from the Decocrated 2021 Spring Box. That runner is my all time favorite item. I use it to hold vignettes and for photo shoots for brands that I work with. I love it so much.

And beneath all is the new fabric table runner from this year’s Spring Box. I love how neutral the checked print is. I can use this runner year around.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 table top
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – dining table top

Metal Wall Hooks

This black metal wall hook arrived in the 2022 Spring Box. After careful consideration for its location, I settled on the old wooden door in the dining room. Yes, the 120+ year old solid oak door has a crack in it. For me, that’s part of its charm.

The hooks currently hold a vintage Easter egg that came from Greg’s mother, spring wreaths and two more of the fun fabric carrots.

Beneath the hooks sits a short bookcase, holding more spring vignettes. The wooden ladder, perpetual calendar and candle holders are all from Decocrated. The white frame holds a photo of my youngest grandchild, Finley Grace, and art work created by her. And the little white rabbit comes from Hobby Lobby.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 hooks
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – metal wall hooks
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 top shelf
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – short bookcase top shelf

Refreshed Hot Tea Bar

Although no items from the Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 Boxes are here, I refreshed the hot tea bar. Other Decocrated items landed here though.

The wooden bee cutout sets the theme for this cute redo in the kitchen. I chose a yellow, gold and white color theme for spring/summer. The sled shelf stays up all year with the items on it changing with the seasons. And the tiered tray is perfect for my ceramic teapot, cups and more seasonal décor.

Other decorative items are from Hobby Lobby and Michael’s while the adorable gold snail was a gift from my daughter Adriel and granddaughter Finley. Adriel purchased it from Target.

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 tea bar
Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 – hot tea bar

Get Your First Decocrated Box at an Amazing Price

Are you decorating yet for spring or Easter? If you enjoy decorating as a creative way of expressing yourself, like I do, then I have such a great deal for you!

Save a whopping 50% on your first Decocrated box. Use my code CINDYM50 at checkout to purchase the Spring Box. Hurry, because this amazing offer ends on April 21, 2022 at midnight. Click this LINK to order your box and save BIG.

Then, you can purchase the Easter add-on box, as a Decocrated member. Additionally, you can shop from their online store that contains hundreds of cute items for your home. I recently purchased two fun travel themed pieces from the online shop and a wonderful two tiered round wooden tray (pictured below).

What do you love most about spring?

Decocrated Spring and Easter 2022 tiered tray


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.



10 Fun Facts About Vatican City

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On the first day of our 12 days spent exploring Italy with Globus Tours, we started at Vatican City. To be honest, I knew very little about the Vatican, other than it housed the Sistine Chapel with its famous Michelangelo painted ceiling and the Pope. Other than looking forward to seeing that magnificent chapel, I had little interest in touring the rest of the Vatican.

Silly me. That was my ignorance talking.

I had no real idea what lay behind the those tall Vatican walls. A delightful surprise awaited me.

Check out these 10 fun facts about Vatican City, so that you know more than I did on your visit.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City title meme

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City

Visit Rome, Italy and you’ll likely see the walled Vatican City, completely surrounded by Roman neighborhoods. Home to the Pope, the Sistine Chapel and incredibly beautiful architecture, this is not a sight to miss while exploring.

There’s so much more to the Vatican than the Pope’s home though. How many of these fun facts do you know?

Smallest Country in the World

Vatican City covers 121 acres, making it 1/8 the size of New York’s Central Park, and it is entirely surrounded by the city of Rome. It’s an independent city state, making it the smallest country in the world.

Vatican City is governed as an absolute monarchy, with the Pope as the head. The Vatican mints its own euros, prints its own postal stamps, issues passports and license plates, has its own flag, anthem, newspaper and radio station and operates media platforms.

The population of Vatican City numbers about 800. To gain citizenship you must work there as an employee. Lose the job, lose citizenship. There isn’t an official language.

Vatican City is the only entire country to receive the UNESCO World Heritage Site classification.

St. Peter’s Basilica Sits on a City of the Dead

During Pagan times a Roman necropolis…city of the dead…existed on Vatican Hill. When the great fire leveled Rome in AD 64, Emperor Nero accused Christians of starting the fire. He executed them at the base of the hill, in horrible ways, including Peter the apostle of Jesus. Peter was buried, supposedly, on Vatican Hill.

By the 4th century, Emperor Constantine began building the original basilica on top of the old burial grounds, with the tomb of Peter at the center. The present basilica, constructed in the 1500s, sits over a maze of catacombs.

More than 100 tombs exist inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Ninety one of these hold past Popes. However Queen Christina of Sweden rests here along with James Stuart, the pretender to the British crown.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City st peters basilica
10 Fun Facts About Vatican City – St Peter’s sits on a city of the dead

The Obelisk that Stands in St. Peter’s Square Came from Egypt

Emperor Caligula of Rome built a small amphitheater at the base of Vatican Hill, where charioteers trained and Nero martyred the Christians. He transported an obelisk from Egypt, that once stood in Heliopolis, to the center of the amphitheater.

The obelisk, made of red granite, was built to honor an Egyptian pharaoh more than 3,000 years ago.  It moved to St. Peter’s Square in 1586.

The Swiss Guard Protects the Pope

The Swiss Guard, dressed in colorful Renaissance style uniforms, serves as bodyguards to the Pope. Founded in 1506, they are the world’s smallest standing army, with 135 members currently. Although also ceremonial, the soldiers are highly trained marksmen. Members of the guard must be Swiss, Catholic and undertake basic training with the Swiss Armed Forces.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City swiss guard
10 Fun Facts About Vatican City – Swiss Guards

The Pope Owns a Telescope in Arizona

The Vatican owns one of the oldest astronomical research institutes in the world, the Vatican Observatory. However, because of light pollution in Rome, the Observatory purchased a top of the line telescope and installed it on a hilltop in Tucson, Arizona, in the US. It’s called the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, with a primary use of conducting astronomical research.

There’s a Secret Passageway

A half mile long elevated covered passageway, constructed in 1277, connects the Vatican with the fortified Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the Tiber River. It served as an escape route for the Pope.

In 1527, Pope Clement VII used the passageway to safely evade the forces of Emperor Charles V as they murdered priests and nuns throughout the city. The Swiss Guard held back the throngs long enough for Pope Clement to escape to Castel Sant’Angelo although 147 of the guards perished.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City secret passageway
10 Fun Facts About Vatican City – there’s a secret passageway…but this isn’t it!

Vatican City Has Its Own Soccer Team

Vatican City has a soccer team, called the FC Guardia. All of the players are Swiss Guards. In 1972 the city founded the Vatican City Championship. Eight teams, comprised of workers from the City’s various state departments, compete.

Vatican City Has the Highest Wine Consumption in the World

Because of its small population, the country earns the title of highest wine consumption in the world. Most of the residents of Vatican City drink wine…averaging 54 liters each per year…plus it is used in religious ceremonies.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City wine consumption
10 Fun Facts About Vatican City – highest wine consumption

World’s Shortest Railway

Vatican City opened a railway in 1934. At just 300 meters long, with one station, it’s the world’s shortest national railway. The train is used primarily to transport freight and occasionally for ceremonial purposes.

The Vatican Palaces are Enormous

Although it’s a small country, the Vatican palaces are huge. The palaces consist of connected buildings with more than 1,000 rooms. Inside is the Pope’s residence, plus museums, meeting rooms, chapels…including the Sistine Chapel…residential apartments and offices. Additionally, you’ll find nine miles of gorgeous artwork on display.

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City palace
10 Fun Facts About Vatican City – nine miles of artwork to view

Have You Visited Vatican City?

I’m grateful that our tour of Italy began at Vatican City. Had I made my own travel decisions, I know I would have skipped the Vatican. And what a shame if I had. We spent all morning there. I felt amazement over the rooms and rooms of art. St. Peter’s Basilica is truly beautiful and mysterious. And the Sistine Chapel did not disappoint.

My advice: don’t skip seeing Vatican City. It’s worth spending half a day or more exploring all that this interesting place has to offer.

Have you visited Vatican City? And did you learn any new facts about it in this post?

10 Fun Facts About Vatican City first look
First look at Vatican City, from our hotel room window.



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, all at no extra cost to you.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films

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

The Academy Awards air this month, on Sunday, March 27. As is my custom, I enjoy watching as many of the nominated movies as possible, plus the short films. Pre COVID, more opportunities existed to watch the films. My local theater brought in all of them for special viewings during Oscar Week.

However, for the second year in a row, that didn’t happen. Instead, for the first time ever, I caught all ten of the 2022 Best Picture Nominated films at home, on various streaming services.

It’s not necessary to see all of the films before Oscar night. But in my experience, it gives extra meaning to the award show plus I end up watching movies I wouldn’t otherwise.

Check out my brief, spoiler free summaries of each film and my prediction at the end of the post.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films title meme

Ten Movies Nominated for Best Picture

It’s a large group of films this year and they are extremely diverse, ranging from sci-fi to biographical to satire to off beat. I’m listing them in the order I watched them.


Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Screenplay written by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth, based on the novel by Frank Herbert. Directed by Denis Velleneuve. Nominated for 10 Oscars,

Stars Timothee Chalomet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Stellan Skarsgard.

Promoted as part one in a two part series, Dune tells a hero’s  journey story about a gifted young man born into a destiny beyond his imagination and understanding. He must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to guarantee the future of his people. The hostile desert planet contains an exclusive supply of a rare resource that has the ability to propel humanity to its greatest potential…if it is in the right hands.

Fun fact: Director Denis Villeneuve read the Dune novel at age 12 and saw the first adaptation in 1984. His lifelong dream to do a new adaptation came true after he did two other science fiction films, so he possessed sufficient experience for the project.

Dune is available to watch on HBOMax.

Don’t Look Up

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 18 minutes

Screenplay written by Adam McKay and David Sirota. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry and Timothee Chalamet.

This comedic drama…with sci-fi overtones…has been called satire at its best. Two unknown astronomers discover that an approaching comet is on a collision course with Earth. However, no one…from those in highest government positions to religious leaders to scientists…seems to care. The pair embark on a whirlwind media tour, trying to convince those with the power to make changes to do something before it’s too late. What does it take, to get people to look up?

Fun fact: Jennifer Lawrence filmed most of her scenes with a broken tooth. Due to COVID restrictions, she couldn’t get it fixed. In post production, the missing tooth was added in.

Don’t Look Up is available on Netflix.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films don't look up
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – Don’t Look Up

The Power of the Dog

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 6 minutes

Screenplay by Jane Campion, based on the novel by Thomas Savage. Directed by Jane Campion. Nominated for 12 Oscars.

Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Durnst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

In 1925 Montana, the Burbank brothers carry on the ranching legacy handed down to them by their parents. Phil is charismatic, cruel and manipulative while George does damage control in the wake of Phil’s brutality.  When George marries and brings a new wife and her teenage son to the ranch, Phil takes great pleasure in bullying both. However, when the abuse abruptly shifts to befriending the boy and teaching him about ranching, concerns grow even more. (Read a more in depth review HERE.)

Fun fact: To get into the character of Phil and stay there, Benedict Cumberbatch did not bathe for two weeks and adopted chain smoking. He did not speak to co-star Kirsten Dunst outside of filming.

The Power of the Dog is available on Netflix.

Nightmare Alley

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Screenplay by Guillermo del Torro and Kim Morgan, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham. Directed by Guillermo del Torro. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

Stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman and Mary Steenburgen.

An ambitious carnival worker with the ability to easily manipulate people, learns to perform as a mentalist. He hooks up with another performer named Molly, to develop their own two person act. They experience success on the road, until greed drives him to con a dangerous tycoon, with the help of a mysterious female psychiatrist.

Fun fact: COVID suspended production of the film after some of the scenes were shot. Bradley Cooper used that time to lose 15 pounds so as to appear younger for scenes at the beginning of the film.

Watch Nightmare Alley on Hulu and HBOMax.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films power of the dog
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 36 minutes

Screenplay written by Tony Kushner, based on the stage play and book by Arthur Laurents. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Nominated for 7 Oscars.

This adaptation of the 1957 musical stars Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno.

West Side Story explores the threats of two warring gangs and the city’s wrecking ball in a decaying neighborhood in Manhattan. While the two gangs fight for supremacy, an unexpected and forbidden love develops between one of the gang members…and the sister of the leader of the other gang.

Fun fact: In spite of the 60 year gap between adaptations, three actors who appeared in the original musical play different roles in this new film: Rita Moreno, Harvey Evans and David Bean. Sadly, David passed away two weeks after this film’s release.

Watch West Side Story on HBOMax.

Drive My Car

Unrated  Run time: 2 hours 59 minutes

Screenplay written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, based on the short story by Haruki Murakami. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Nominated for 4 Oscars.

This Japanese film stars Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura and Reika Kirishima.

Two years after his wife’s unexpected death, a well known stage actor and director agrees to direct a production of Uncle Vanya at a theater festival in Hiroshima. The young woman assigned as his chauffeur helps him face his grief and confront painful truths from his past.

Fun fact: This film is also nominated for Best International Feature Film, at the Academy Awards.

Watch Drive My Car on HBOMax.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films drive my car
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – Drive My Car


Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. Nominated for 7 Oscars.

Stars Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds.

Set in the 1960s, this historical drama tells the story of Buddy and his family as their working class neighborhood experiences increasing turbulence and violence. Nine year old Buddy does his best to understand “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland as friends and neighbors flee Belfast and his own family faces life altering decisions.

Fun fact: This film is based on the true events from Kenneth Branagh’s childhood.

Rent Belfast on Prime Video HERE. Start your FREE Amazon Prime trial.

King Richard

Rated PG-13  Run time: 2 hours 24 minutes

Written by Zach Baylin. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. Nominated for 6 Oscars.

Stars Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton.

This biographical drama follows Richard Williams, father and tennis coach of Venus and Serena. Armed with a clear vision and a bold 78 page written plan, Richard is determined to write his daughters into history. His commitment, balanced by his wife’s grounded perspectives, defies the odds against his daughters as they pursue their dreams of being the best female tennis players in the world.

Fun fact: Saniyya, who portrays Venus, is left handed and had never played tennis before. She trained five days a week, followed a strict diet and exercise plan, and watched hours of Venus, who is right handed, playing in major tennis tournaments.

Rent King Richard on Amazon Prime HERE.

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films king richard
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Rated R  Run time: 2 hours 13 minutes

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Nominated for 3 Oscars.

This romantic comedy stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman and Sean Penn.

In 1973 San Fernando Valley, 15 year old Gary meets Alana when she arrives to take photos at the high school. With a wide age gap between them, Gary and Alana form a friendship that takes them through various start up businesses and brief romantic relationships with others. However, is there more than friendship developing between them?

Fun fact: Alana Haim’s on screen family members are all played by her actual family members. The Haim sisters have a Grammy nominated rock band. Paul Thomas Anderson met the Haims when he was a young boy. This film is inspired by the crush he had on Donna Haim, the mother of the girls.

Purchase Licorice Pizza on Amazon Prime HERE.


Rated PG-13  Run time: 1 hour 51 minutes

Screenplay written by Sian Heder, based on the previous motion picture “La Famille Belier”, written by Victoria Bedos, Stanislas Carre de Malberg, Eric Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain. Directed by Sian Heder. Nominated for 3 Oscars.

Stars Emilia Jones, Marlee Martin, Troy Kotsur, Eugenio Derbez and Daniel Durant.

Ruby is a CODA…Child of Deaf Adults. She is the only hearing person in her family of four. From early childhood, Ruby interprets for her parents in the hearing world while helping her dad in his business and helping her mother and brother communicate with the community. Ruby’s passion is music and singing. When she joins the high school choir, her teacher encourages her to apply for college, on a musical scholarship. How can Ruby share her love of singing with her family, when they have no place for music in their world? And how can she leave them and go away to college?

Fun fact: Ruby’s deaf father, mother and older brother are all played by deaf actors. Emilia, who played Ruby, spent nine months learning American sign language, taking singing lessons and learning how to operate a fishing trawler.

Watch CODA on Apple TV+

2022 Best Picture Nominated Films coda
2022 Best Picture Nominated Films – CODA

My Prediction

I think this was the most interesting group of best pictured nominated films ever. Often, in past years, I like one or two of the films and can barely watch others in the group, usually due to extreme violence. You perhaps noticed that many of this year’s films are rated PG-13. The captivation lies not in the shock value of these films but in powerful stories, clever satires and real life inspired tales.

I enjoyed all ten of these movies. Don’t Look Up made me laugh the most.  Drive My Car, at almost three hours long, appealed to me more and more as the story unfolded. And ironically, my favorites were the last three I watched. King Richard is inspiring. Licorice Pizza is so quirky. And CODA is an incredible film…funny, insightful and heart touching. It’s the movie I loved the most.

However, I’m selecting The Power of the Dog for the win on Oscar Night. It is such a layered, complex film with a gripping storyline that stays with the viewer for a while. The Academy loves such weighty films.

How many of the 2022 Best Picture nominated films have you seen? Do you have one you are cheering for on Oscar Night?



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, all at no extra cost to you.







Ten Most Irish Cities in the US

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



March celebrates National Irish American Heritage Month by honoring the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the US. Choosing March was intentional, to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th.

To add to the celebrations and fun, discover where the ten most Irish cities in the US are located and why they are at the top of the list.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US title meme

The Criteria for the Ten Most Irish Cities in the US

Lawnstarter compared the 200 largest US cities based on the following criteria:

  • the size of their Irish population
  • availability of Irish restaurants and pubs
  • number of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and other Irish cultural events
  • number of Irish cultural groups and organizations such as Irish dance schools, cultural centers and networking groups.

As the saying goes, “everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day”. And many of us, me included, do claim Irish ancestry. According to my AncestryDNA results, I am 9% Irish. Some cities have a large concentration of descendants from Irish ancestors. Check to see if your city made the list, based on the criteria above.

1. Boston, MA

Unsurprisingly, Boston ranks as the top Irish city in the US. Irish immigrants began arriving in Massachusetts during and after the potato famine in the 1840s.

Today slightly more than 20% of Boston’s population is made up of Irish Americans, making it the city with most concentrated Irish population. Irish American Bostonians celebrate big with an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. And the city boasts plenty of Irish inspired restaurants and pubs featuring Guinness.

Fun Fact: The influx of Irish immigrants resulted in the distinct Bostonian accent heard today.

2. Chicago, IL

Chicago is the fourth largest Irish city, population wise, and claims the second spot on the list due to holding the most Irish community events…143 of them. The McNutty School of Irish Dance also began in this city.

The Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago is a non-profit organization that offers programs featuring Irish dance, literature, heritage, music and cultural contributions to the US.

Fun Fact: The city dyes the Chicago River green for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. This year the river begins flowing green on Saturday March 12.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US chicago green river
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – green river in Chicago *Unsplash photo by Benjamin Rascoe

3. New York, NY

New York takes the third Irish city spot. They rank high for number of Irish restaurants and pubs.

And the city holds the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the nation. The six hour long parade features Irish dancers, pipers playing bagpipes and other performers marching down the street with more than 2 million spectators in attendance. They also host many other Irish celebrations.

Fun Fact: New York sponsors the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” Saint Patrick’s Day bar crawl.

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Coming in at #4, Pittsburg’s first Scots-Irish immigrants arrived in the 1700s with Catholic Irish arriving 100 years later. The potato famine brought thousands more, many of whom found work with the railroads. Today nearly 11% of the city’s population list Irish as their ancestors.

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh educates its members and the community about the Gaelic culture. It hosts lectures, classes, arts and crafts, music, drama and dance as well as social and athletic events to preserve the city’s Irish culture.

Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is one of only three cities in the US that boasts a chapter of the Knights of Equity. The club promotes traditional Irish dance and folk music.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US new york parade
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade *Unsplash photo by Johnny Cohen

5. Naperville, IL

Naperville ranks 5th with a high Irish population of about 14%. They host an annual family oriented Saint Patrick’s Day parade that celebrates Irish American heritage and culture.

West Suburban Irish is a non-profit organization headquartered here that promotes, nurtures and strengthens Irish culture in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Fun Fact: Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville serves up classic Irish fare. The West Suburban Irish calls this pub home, holding their meetings there once a month.

6. Philadelphia, PA

In Philadelphia, 12% of the city’s residents claim Irish heritage, with most of those living in the suburbs. Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn, was part Irish on his mother’s side. The Society of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick was founded in Philly in 1771.

Today the city boasts a large number of Irish pubs such as Isabella Barry’s Faithful Irishman and The Jolly Irishman. Philadelphia celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day big time with a parade and a bar crawl.

Fun Fact: The Philadelphia Fleadh is a one day Irish American festival held annually in May. It features local and international traditional Irish music plus dance, shopping, food, spirits and activities.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US philly fleadh
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Philadelphia Fleadh

7. Denver, CO

Leaving the East Coast and Midwest, we head to Denver, #7 on the top ten list. Irish immigrants headed west after the discovery of silver. When the silver boom ended, the Irish moved to Denver.

Today the Mile High City ranks high in Irish food and drink locations and hosts multiple Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Fun Fact: The famous unsinkable Molly Brown raised funds to build the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Denver. Through her legacy, the Molly Brown House, Colorado’s rich Irish heritage is preserved.

8. Spokane, WA

In Spokane, nearly 14% of the population lists Irish ancestry. Irish settlers arrived in the area in the mid 1800s, eager to claim land and take advantage of the many opportunities the northwest offered.

Spokane often plays host to Irish musicals and theater performances.

Fun Fact: Spokane is the sister city to Limerick, Ireland and encourages the appreciation of Irish and American cultures between the two communities,

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US denver molly brown house
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Denver’s Molly Brown House

9. Syracuse, NY

Irish immigrants came to the Syracuse area between 1778 and 1910. While some came from Ireland, others came from Canada and other countries they previously immigrated to. Currently 1/6 of the population claims Irish ancestry.

Syracuse hosts a yearly parade and an Irish Festival that features music, dance, folk songs, genealogy, culture and activities.

Fun Fact: Early Irish immigrants settles in a far west neighborhood called Tipperary Hill, named for County Tipperary in Ireland. It’s still proudly Irish today. The neighborhood has a traffic light from the 1920s with green at the top instead of red, as a strong identity with Ireland, the Emerald Isle.

10. Worchester, MA

Coming in at 10th place on the list, Worchester received its first Irish and Scottish immigrants in 1718. However it was the building of the Blackstone Canal, connecting Worchester with Providence, RI, that caused the growth of the Irish population. Between 1826 and 1828 1,000 Irish immigrants moved to Worchester to help construct the canal. Today nearly 1/3 of the small city’s residents still claim Irish ancestry,

The community offers several Irish pubs and on Saint Patrick’s Day, a parade and an Irish Festival.

Fun Fact: To mark the 150th anniversary of the Irish settlement in Worchester, the Irish American community erected a Celtic Cross on Worchester Common in 1977.

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US celtic cross
Ten Most Irish Cities in the US – Celtic Cross in Worchester

Celebrating Irish American Ancestry

How many of these cities have you visited? On this list, I’ve visited Philadelphia and Denver. Boston and Chicago are on my Adventure List. I’d love to create a second list with some of these cities on it.

And I traveled to Dublin, Ireland in 2017 with four other family members. What a fun time connecting with my Irish roots there. It’s a beautiful country with a rich heritage.

Pop over to see LawnStarter’s study post HERE on Irish cities. They have other fun studies too such as Best Cities for Cat Lovers and Best Cities for Carless Weekend Trips.

LawnStarter is a startup company that makes lawn care easy, affordable and reliable. They have a blog for lawn care…and these fun studies.

How do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and your Irish ancestry?

Ten Most Irish Cities in the US dublin
The Temple Bar Area, Dublin Ireland

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Benefits of Brain Dumping

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Have you ever had these things happen?

You wake up ready to tackle your “to do” list however your attention flips from idea to reminder to replaying yesterday’s less than stellar day. Nothing on the list gets checked off.

You feel paralyzed by worry about some as yet unrealized situation.

Or you go through your nighttime routine, flip off the light and crawl into bed at a decent hour. Immediately your brain goes into overdrive, flooding your awareness with brilliant ideas, stubborn fears or regrets you can’t do anything about. Hours later you still haven’t slept.

Our brains continually receive and process information. It does an amazing job of sorting through all those bits and pieces of information and bringing into our awareness what is most important. However, like a room full of too much stuff, the brain can become cluttered with too many thoughts, ideas, fears, anxieties, regrets, dreams and tasks. That clutter of thoughts creates overwhelm, making it difficult to focus and prioritize tasks.

The benefits of brain dumping are many and yet it is so simple to do.

Benefits of Brain Dumping title meme

What is Brain Dumping?

A brain dump is a transfer of thoughts to a journal, digital notes app, notebook, white board or piece of paper. It’s a way of capturing all those ideas, worries, questions, or sparks of creativity that are swirling in the mind in one place.

I think of it as a movement of energy from my brain, down my arm and out through my hand, onto paper. If I don’t move that energy it continues to circle in my mind, distracting me or keeping me awake. Brain dumping serves as a reset button.

Benefits of Brain Dumping beliefs
Benefits of Brain Dumping – examining beliefs

Benefits of Brain Dumping

The benefits of this exercise are many. They include:

  • clears the mind of clutter
  • stops worry about unimportant things
  • breaks the loop of replaying an incident over and over
  • brings clarity to dreams and visions
  • uncovers deeper truths
  • clarifies beliefs
  • helps you let go of regrets
  • organizes tasks so you can see what is most urgent
  • helps you decide what is most important to you
  • moves energy so that it is not continually circling in the mind
  • provides “ahas” and insights
  • shifts negativity
  • highlights gratitudes
  • creates a safe place to write out feelings and process them
  • encourages creativity and problem solving
  • keeps track of things you don’t want to forget
  • improves memory and recall
  • makes it more likely for follow through and taking action on goals
  • strengthens focus and productivity levels
  • reduces stress, anxiety and depression
  • expands perspective and “big picture” thinking
Benefits of Brain Dumping fears
Benefits of Brain Dumping – declutters the mind

When to Do a Brain Dump

To receive the most benefits from brain dumping, practice it every day…or at least once a week. You can start the day with a brain dump, to help organize a “to do” list, capture creative ideas or tackle a problem that needs solving.

Or, end the day with a brain dump to make it easier to fall asleep without all those thoughts, ideas and nagging worries tumbling about. I’ve turned on the light after getting into bed to do a brain dump. Otherwise, I can kiss that good night’s sleep goodbye.

Any time of day is appropriate for a brain dump. If your mind feels cluttered with thoughts or repetitive loops or anxieties, pause to get them out of your head.

Benefits of Brain Dumping to do
Benefits of Brain Dumping – create a better to do list

How to Brain Dump

Grab a pen and a notebook, open your phone’s notes app or create a document on your computer and find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes.

Free write all the things distracting you:

  • troubling thoughts
  • creative ideas
  • to do lists
  • important and not so important tasks
  • items to purchase
  • big dreams and goals
  • irritations
  • travel list of what to pack
  • negative thoughts about yourself or anyone else
  • fears
  • anxieties
  • that bad dream from last night
  • what makes your heart come alive
  • what makes your heart sad
  • celebrations to plan
  • past regrets
  • anything you don’t want to forget

Truly, the things you can write about are endless. The key is to allow whatever is cluttering your brain to appear on paper. If it’s bothering you, write it down. When a thought keeps circling back around, jot it on the paper.

Write until it feels like you’ve captured what’s disturbing your peace, making you anxious, filling you with ideas or keeping you from focusing. You can do more brain dumps as necessary.

Benefits of Brain Dumping anxieties
Benefits of Brain Dumping – calming anxieties

What’s Next?

When you finish, look over what you wrote.

Organize tasks into lists and make action plans…for now or later. You can always return to a written out brain dump.

Put stars next to big ideas you want to develop.

Go for a walk and leave your thoughts behind on the paper. Enjoy breathing fresh air and relaxing the mind. Or enjoy a long soak in the tub or go to sleep. Return to the brain dump if you want…or never look at it again.

If something you wrote down warrants further thought, write it at the top of a blank page for future consideration. This is where insights can appear, as you dig a little deeper.

As you organize your brain dump, check off items or scratch through them.

It’s okay if the same things keep showing up in brain dumps. That just means there’s deeper work to do. Watch for patterns. Is there someone to forgive? An unpleasant task you need to conquer and move on from? Something you need to release? A daily planner, meal planner or calendar to purchase? Eventually your brain will let go of these reoccurring thoughts as you deal with them.

How I Use Brain Dumping

I have a collection of notebooks that I use for everything from blog and social media post ideas to travel destinations to big dreams and goals. I also capture fears, worries and regrets on those notebook pages and then let them go. In fact, I often burn those pages as a symbolic way of releasing everything written on the paper. I joke that I carry my brain around in notebooks and that’s no lie!

When driving I dictate ideas and thoughts into my iPhone notes app. Or I’ll verbally make lists or capture thoughts I don’t want to forget.

I’ve used sticky notes and a large white board to capture ideas for projects or brainstorm ideas.

And I frequently do a quick brain dump if thoughts, plans or creative ideas are keeping me awake. It’s a wonderful way to calm my mind. Plus I know I have my notes for the next morning, when I wake up. I don’t have to keep thinking about them.

Brain dumping is very helpful for me.

Have you tried brain dumping? Tell me about your techniques!

Benefits of Brain Dumping notebook


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Origins of Common American Expressions

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Common expressions…we all use them. I grew up repeating phrases I heard my parents and grandparents say. I understood the gist of the meanings even if the strung together words seemed bizarre. Occasionally I wondered where such interesting expressions came from.

Have you?

Wonder no more. Check out the origins of common American expressions and see if your favorite made the list.

Origins of Common American Expressions title meme

Once in a Blue Moon

Meaning: something that happens rarely

Scientifically, a blue moon is the term for a second full moon that occurs during a single month. We typically have only one full moon every 30 days. About every 2.7 years, two full moons fall within the same month.

Although a similar phrase appeared in a book in the 19th century, the phrase as we use it today began later, around 1946, with a reference in the Maine Farmer’s Almanac.

Riding Shotgun

Meaning: riding in the front seat of a vehicle next to the driver

In the Old West, the person who sat next to the driver on a stagecoach frequently carried a shotgun to shoot any robbers who might attempt to stop the coach and steal from the occupants.

Today kids often shout out, “I call shotgun” as they race toward a car.

Origins of Common American Expressions riding shotgun
Origins of Common American Expressions – riding shotgun

Flying Off the Handle

Meaning: unpredictable or sudden anger

Before items were mass produced in factories, they were handmade. Some items might exhibit better craftsmanship than others. This expression comes from poorly made axes, crafted during the 1800s, that came apart too easily. The axe heads literally flew off their handles. Such an accident could induce surprise and anger!

Under the Weather

Meaning: not feeling well…feeling sick

Originally, sailors at sea used the expression “under the weather bow”, referring to the side of that ship that caught the brunt of wind during storms. To avoid feeling sick during rough seas, sailors bunkered down in their cabins…literally under the bad weather…and allowed the storms to pass.

Origins of Common American Expressions under the weather
Origins of Common American Expressions – under the weather

Close But No Cigar

Meaning: not quite winning or achieving success and therefore not getting the reward

Today carnival games hand out stuffed animals or trinkets as prizes for winning. However, in the late 19th century adults played most carnival games. Prizes included cigars. If someone almost won, but fell short they were “close, but no cigar”. By the 1930s the expression extended beyond fairgrounds to other types of near successes.

Bite the Bullet

Meaning: performing an unpleasant task or enduring a difficult situation

In the 1800s, patients literally bit down on a bullet to cope with the pain of surgery or medical procedures, without the benefit of receiving anesthesia.

Get Your Goat/Gets My Goat

Meaning: to irritate or annoy someone or become irritated or annoyed by someone

This expression originated at horseracing tracks. Jockeys placed goats in the stalls with their prize race horses to relax them. Competitors removed the goats of their rivals to spook their horses, hoping to win the race as a result.

Origins of Common American Expressions got your goat
Origins of Common American Expressions – get your goat

Pull Out All the Stops

Meaning: do everything possible to make something successful

This phrase originates from the musical instrument, the organ. When all the stops are pulled out, the organ plays loudly with a lot of different sounds all at once.

Cost an Arm and a Leg

Meaning: very expensive

This phrase originates from the 18th century. When famous people such as George Washington had their portraits painted, they did so without showing all of their limbs. The more limbs painted into the portrait, the more the painting cost.

I have to admit…this is my favorite origin!

Let the Cat Out of the Bag

Meaning: to accidently reveal a secret

During the 1700s, a common fraud involved secretly replacing more valuable pigs with less valuable cats and selling them in bags. When the cat was let out of the bag, the secret was revealed.

Do You Have a Favorite Common Expression?

Did you learn the origins of any of your favorite expressions? I love the study of words and origins. It’s a fun way to learn a bit of history as well.

Check out my other posts sharing common sayings from Scotland, England, Italy and Ireland.

Do you or your family commonly use an expression? Share it below.

Origins of Common American Expressions cat out of the bag
Origins of Common American Expressions – let the cat out of the bag


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2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films

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With the 94th Academy Awards airing on Sunday, March 27, we are deep in award season. I try to watch as many of the nominated films as possible, before Oscar night. For the third year in a row, my local indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema, offered showings of all of the Oscar nominated short films…live action, animated and documentary.

I enjoyed a day at Bookhouse, watching the shorts and savoring vegan food.

If you haven’t seen this year’s nominated shorts, no worries! I have you covered with a brief summary of each short. No spoilers. I also give my predictions on which shorts take home the Oscar.

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films title meme

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Live Action

The following five live action films received nominations:

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run

Country of origin: Switzerland

Writer and director: Maria Brendle

A young Zyrgyz woman named Sezim is kidnapped and forced to marry a man she’s never met. Sezim struggles with her desire to study at the university and pursue her own dreams and the loss of freedom dictated by the Kyrgyz culture she’s grown up in.

My thought: It’s shocking and eye opening that this practice still occurs for thousands of young women every year.

On My Mind

Country of origin: Denmark

Writer and director: Martin Strange-Hansen

In this gently humorous short, Henrik arrives at a bar shortly after it opens, with a strange yet urgent request. He must sing the song “Always On My Mind” while the sympathetic barkeeper films the performance. Although he’s reluctant to say why, it’s a matter of life, death and karaoke.

My thought: This short is sad, funny and sweet with a hint of the supernatural. I loved it a lot.

Please Hold

Country of origin: USA

Writers KD Davila and Omer Levin Menekse, diretor KD Davila

A young man’s life is inexplicably turned upside down when he’s arrested and jailed by an automated justice system. He knows he’s innocent…if he can just find an actual human to talk to.

My thought: This one made me think about our current justice system and where it’s heading.

The Dress

Country of origin: Poland

Writer and director: Tadeusz Lysiak

A lonely woman working in a dead end job in rural Poland feels hope when a truck driver shows interest in her. Before they meet up for drinks in four days, she must find the perfect dress to wear…and work through many conflicting emotions.

My thought: Ahhh…this short tugs at the heart, in painful ways.

The Long Goodbye

Country of origin: UK

Writers Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia, director Aneil Karia

A typical day for a close knit British Pakastani family goes horribly wrong when the chaos playing out on their television screen arrives at their own front door.

My thought: Wow. While it’s the shortest live action film, it packs the most powerful punch. I’m still thinking about this one.

Predicted Oscar winner: The Long Goodbye

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films - the long goodbye
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – The Long Goodbye

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Documentary

Not usually my favorite short category, this year’s documentaries all impressed me. I enjoyed watching each one and had a hard time picking a projected winner.


Country of origin: USA

Director: Matthew Ogens

Maryland School for the Deaf football player Amaree and his teammates attempt to preserve their years long winning streak while coming to terms with the tragic loss of a classmate and friend.

My thought: I loved this look at how Amaree and his teammates learn to thrive in the hearing world while creating their own unique ways of perceiving it.

Lead Me Home

Country of origin: USA

Directors: Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk

This documentary follows several people living on the streets of three West Coast cities. We not only learn their stories but see the challenges they face in changing their homeless situations.

My thought: I am still thinking about this documentary. My city is currently working to do something to help the homeless in my area and this doc shone a stark light on the growing epidemic.

The Queen of Basketball

Country of origin: USA

Director: Ben Proudfoot

Lucy Harris is one of the greatest living basketball players. She led her college team to three national trophies, scored the first basket in women’s basketball at the 1976 Olympics and received an invitation to play in the NBA.

My thought: This is a fun, heart warming documentary about an amazing woman who followed her dream.

Three Songs for Benazir

Country of origin: Afghanistan

Directors: Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

Shaista is a young man newly married to Benazir. The couple lives in a camp for displaced people in Kabul. Shaista struggles with wanting to be the first in his tribe to join the Afghan National Army and wanting to care for his growing family.

My thought: I appreciate this inside look at what life is like living in a displacement camp. People struggle with pursuing dreams and building security while simply trying to survive.

When We Were Bullies

Countries of origin: Germany and USA

Director: Jay Rosenblatt

A series of amazing synchronicities leads a documentary maker to track down his fifth grade class and teacher back in Brooklyn to examine a memory of a bullying incident the whole class took part in against one boy.

My thought: It’s so interesting to see what people remember about the bullying incident that they all took part in and how they react 60 years later. Plus I loved how Jay followed sychronicities to unravel the past.

Predicted Oscar Winner: I’m torn between Lead Me Home and When We Were Bullies…with the latter edging ahead for the win.

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films when we were bullies
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – When We Were Bullies

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated

Although animated, these shorts are not intended for children. In fact, three of the animated shorts came with warnings about nudity, violence and/or disturbing images. Like the live action and documentary shorts, these films look boldly at humanity in all of its conditions.

Affairs of the Art

Countries of origin: UK and Canada

Writer Les Mills, director Joanna Quinn

This quirky animation features Beryl, a female factory worker past her prime with strong artistic inclinations…and her lovable, eccentric family. Their obsessions range  from drawing to conspiracies to taxidermy.

My though: This humorous look at the eccentricities of artists is indeed quirky and beyond the edges! I laughed…and also cringed.

Bestia – Beast

Country of origin: Chile

Writers Hugo Cavarrubias and Martin Erazo, director Hugo Covarrubias

Ingrid works for the Chilean Intelligence Directorate in 1975. Her bizarre life, intertwined with relationships with her dog, her own body and her fears reveals a fractured mind and the atrocities that damaged a country.

My thought: This dark film is difficult to understand completely, without doing some additional research after viewing.


Country of origin: Russia

Writers Anton Dyakov and Andrey Vasilyev, director Anton Dyakov

Talented ballerina Olya encounters tough, rough boxer Evgeny, An incredible relationship begins between these two opposite personalities that goes beyond philosophies and perspectives.

My thought: There’s sweetness in this unexpected pairing.

Robin Robin

Country of origin: UK

Writers Daniel Ojari, Michael Please and Sam Morrison, directors Daniel Ojari and Michael Please

When an egg falls from its nest during a storm, a family of mice raise the baby robin that hatches as one of their own. This sweet tale follows Robin’s journey as she discovers who she really is and what she can do.

My thought: This is the only animation in the group that children could watch. It’s a heart warming tale of self discovery and family.

The Windshield Wiper

Country of origin: Spain

Writer and director, Alberto Mielgo

This film offers a beautiful collection of scenes featuring the complexities of love, after a man sitting in a café asks the greatest of questions, “What is love?” As the vignettes and situations show, it’s not an easy question to answer.

My thought: This animation made me smile. Not all of the situations portrayed are ideal and yet they showcase the many facets of love in today’s society.

Predicted Oscar winner: Although Robin, Robin is a sweet, feel good film, I’m going with The Windshield Wiper for the win.

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films the windshield wiper
2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films – The Windshield Wiper

See Which Short Film Wins at the Oscars

I so appreciate that Bookhouse Cinema brings in all of the shorts for viewing. I love these unique perspectives of life and humanity, as seen through the creativity of talented writers, directors, artists and film makers.

In between film sets, I enjoyed a vegan lunch, a vegan afternoon tea and a light, vegan dinner at Bookhouse’s pub. What a fun day for me, a film buff who looks for the deeper messages within those stories on the big screen.

I’ll update this post with the winners, after the Academy Awards airs. Watch for my upcoming Best Picture Nominations as well, with brief summaries of each film.

Have you seen any of the Oscar nominated short films?

2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films bookhouse cinema
Bookhouse Cinema and Pub

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