Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated

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

In southwest Missouri, August is typically hot and humid, or what we call “muggy”. This year, the last half of the month offered cooler days that hinted at the impending arrival of fall. I welcomed those below average temps.

When my fall Decocrated box arrived, I determined to begin the switch to autumn decor…now! How exciting to open up that box to see what lies tucked within.

The theme for fall is “Fall back in love.” I love that! Most of us spent more time at home this year. With vacations canceled or changed and safety protocols in place at many attractions, it just makes sense to create an environment in our own homes, that supports us and brings us joy.

For this post, I’m adding a few words to the theme:

Fall back in love with your home with Decocrated.

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated title meme 2

 

 

The Decocrated Fall Box

The Decocrated subscription boxes ship out at the beginning of each season, offering fresh decor pieces to incorporate into any decorating style. Each box contains seven to eight curated items appropriate for the season.

I find it easy to mix my own pieces in with the Decocrated items. And each season’s decor pieces work well with the future boxes.

The fall collection builds around a palette of burnt orange, dusty teal, black and white. The decor in this box combines warm wood tones with black metal and cozy textiles.

This season’s featured artist is Emily Doliner. Emily is a designer and illustrator based in North Carolina. She loves pattern design and brings a sense of mischief and wonder to the fall box.

Before enjoying my new fall vignettes, take a peek at the unboxing!

The Entry Table and Vintage Wooden Chair

Here we go, my fresh fall vignettes.

Entry Table

The little chippy entry table, that I change up seasonally, received a complete makeover.

On the table top, a black and white buffalo plaid linen provides a fun foundation for the tiered tray from the Decocrated Summer Box. Let me just say that I love buffalo plaid. I began bringing it in for Christmas, in red and black, a couple of years ago. This fall it’s my fun core pattern. I’ve got big plans for this plaid for Halloween decor.

On the top tier of the tray rests a light teal pumpkin, that lights up, and a framed Y, for Yaya, that my grandchildren gifted me with this summer. The lower shelf holds an orange THANKS sign, a wonderfully scented spicy candle from the grandkids and a teal and black autumn mug. I tucked a few cinnamon sticks into the mug. A wooden black and white sign, with the word GATHER on it, completes this vignette.

The bottom shelf of the entry table holds the gold planter from the summer box, filled with artificial eucalyptus, and two gold canisters from the Decocrated Spring Box. Each canister holds a faux succulent plant.

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated entry table
Fall back in love with your home with Decocrated – entry table top
Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated lower shelf
Fall back in love with your home with Decocrated – lower shelf

Vintage Wooden Chair

The vintage wooden chair next to the entry table provides another space for me to decorate. And trust me, I need all kinds of flat spaces for decor!

The little round seat perfectly holds a small vignette. The mirror from the summer box remains, with a little black and orange fall pillow hanging from one corner. An orange linen covers the seat. On top rests a teal ceramic bird while the black lantern from the spring box houses a stack of pumpkins.

Next to the chair, my grandfather’s old metal army trunk holds a stack of quilts and pillows, including the reversible pillows from the summer box, turned to the textured side, and an autumn pillow I bought for a dollar at a discount store.

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated chair
Fall back in love with your home with Decocrated – chair vignette

Bookcase Shelf

The top shelf of the dining room bookcase received a complete makeover as well. A nubby textured striped rug, in warm fall colors, provides the foundation for this vignette.

The framed wooden print from the fall box certainly inspires cozy feelings. It makes me smile reading the words, as it perfectly captures fall. Resting in a stand, the print anchors one corner, while on the opposite corner, the woven basket, also from the fall box, balances out the display.

The basket is woven from water hyacinth, a natural material that gives each basket unique colors and textures. The hyacinth basket has a wonderfully earthy, slightly sweet scent that I love. I tucked a white linen with the word Thankful on it into the basket, then added a fall arrangement. A simple wreath with black berries goes on the wall.

Two black and white buffalo plaid cloth pumpkins rest next to the basket while the Our Happy Place wood and metal sign completes the vignette. I love how this mostly monochromatic display turned out!

Fall Back in Love With Your Home with Decocrated shelf top
Fall back in love with your home with Decocrated – shelf top

Dining Room Table Vignette

As I’ve mentioned previously, I never eat at my little round dining room table. Rather, I decorate it seasonally. I consider it my “feature” display area. I walk through this room many times a day and I enjoy the vignettes that occupy that space.

Black Metal Candle Ring

From the fall box, a black and white table runner, adorned with leaves, sets the stage for the vignette.

On the left, rests a black metal candle ring from the fall box. Six burnt orange candles dance around that ring. (Tip: use double sided tape, wrapped around the candle base, to create a snug and secure fit.) I stepped out of my comfort zone, when I went looking for a garland to decorate the ring. You could easily leave it bare and the candle ring would still look cute. I decided to go with something very different…a felt garland in dusty blue gray, orange, white and yellow. I love it’s uniqueness and playfulness.

The small double sided print is from the fall box as well. The side shown features a recipe for pumpkin spice latte while the reverse side is perfect for Halloween with the words…Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. I love the little photo holder I found at Hobby Lobby. It echoes the theme for the season!

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated candle ring
Adorable black candle ring with fun felt garland and print card.

Wooden Crate and Pumpkins

I love wooden crates and this one from the fall box offers plenty of room for all kinds of items. The crate comes with two wooden signs, “Autumn Harvest” in white and orange and “Harvest Moon” in black and white. I chose to use the Harvest Moon sign as it looks great with my black and white buffalo plaid.

In fact, I lined the crate with a black and white plaid linen and then filled the interior with soft mini pumpkins in dusty blue gray, burnt orange and white. Those little pumpkins match the felt garland around the candle ring.

In front of the crate rest the pumpkins from the fall box, in burnt orange and dusty teal. These pumpkins are so nicely done. Made of resin, the covering on the outside feels like velvet.

The little photo holder with the pumpkin spice latte print is nestled close to the wooden crate.

I’m already enjoying this vignette and indeed, all of the Decocrated inspired vignettes I created today. I have more fall decorating to do, on the front porch and on a few other surfaces and in containers. However, what a wonderful start to the season.

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated harvest moon
Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated – wooden crate and pumpkins

Ready to Fall Back in Love?

Are you ready to fall back in love with your home? Maybe there’s one room in your house you’d like to fall in love with again. Or perhaps, like me, you want to spread the love around!

I can help with that.

If you’d like to receive the fall box, which will sell out I’m sure, use this link DECOCRATED FALL BOX. And, type in my code CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE10 to save $10 off a seasonal box. OR use CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE30 to get $30 off a yearly subscription. That way, you won’t miss a box.

If, like me, you enjoy decorating and connecting with others who share that joy, then you will love these subscription boxes, delivered right to your front door. Plus Decocrated members have perks such as private Facebook groups, additional items to purchase in their online store and specials like Halloween and Christmas boxes. Those sell out very quickly.

I’ve now received a full year of Decocrated boxes and I love this company and the quality items they offer. It’s fun to open each box and feel my creativity ramp up. During this year of staying home, my house has become my sanctuary, my playground and my creative studio. Decocrated has played a big role in helping me fall back in love with my home.

This feels like the perfect season to say, “I am grateful.”

Fall Back in Love with Your Home with Decocrated dining table
I am grateful for Decocrated.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy

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Exploring the small town of Orvieto, Italy ranked as one of the top highlights of my trip to Italy in 2017. On the last day of our 12 day tour, my daughter, grandson and I soaked up the gorgeous views and fascinating culture of this gem in the Umbria region.

Read the highlights of that day HERE. Then read on for fun facts about Orvieto Italy.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy title meme

Getting to Orvieto Italy

Orvieto rests on a rock cliff formed from a volcanic butte, 1000 feet above the valley below. Considered one of the most striking towns in Italy, Orvieto sits in the middle of the country, less than 90 minutes from Rome.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy

This ancient city of about 21,000 people features an old and new town. Visitors arrive in the new town where they leave their cars or exit their tour buses. To gain entrance into old town they must ride an escalator up or take a funicular (trolley type car) to the edge of town. There buses transport guests up into the city.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy cliff top
Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy – the city perches on a cliff 1000 feet above the valley.

Etruscan Roots

The Etruscan civilization predates the Romans. Orvieto, known as Velzna then, was the most important town in the Etruscan territory. The Etruscans inhabited Orvieto until the 3rd century BC, when the Romans invaded.

The Duomo

This magnificent cathedral, one of the finest in Italy, took 300 years to complete. Think about it. The United States, founded in 1776, has yet to reach its 300th birthday. Generations of builders worked on this masterpiece.

Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the Duomo on November 15, 1290. Completion occurred in 1591.

Inside, visitors appreciate the tall ceilings and black and white striped columns. Within the Duomo is the Chapel of San Brizio, featuring Luca Signorelli’s paintings, Day of Judgment and Life After Death. Some find the works of art creepy, with their depictions of hell and flying demons, while others declare them stunning.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy chapel
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the Duomo took 300 years to complete. Interior view.

Papal Residence

Outside of Rome, only Orvieto and two other cities contained papal palaces. During the sack of Rome in 1527, Pope Clement VII sought refuge in Orvieto.

Fearing the water supply might not last, if the city went under siege, the pope commissioned a 62 meter deep well. The Pozzo di S Patrizio, or Well of St Patrick, contains a central well shaft surrounded by stairways in a double helix design. The staircases allowed one way traffic, with empty water jars going down one set of stairs and full ones coming up the other.

Visitors may climb down into the well and toss coins into the water.

Underground Labyrinth

Beneath Orvieto lies a labyrinth of Etruscan caves and tunnels. The underground city boasts 1200 passageways, galleries, wells, stairs, cellars, cisterns and rooms.

Noble families living above were equipped with escape tunnels that wound from their homes through the labyrinth below, emerging at safe exit points outside the city walls.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy street
One of the gorgeous streets in Orvieto.

Oldest Church in Orvieto

San Giovenale claims the title as the oldest church in the city. Built in 1004, on the site of an Etruscan temple, the building contains many 13th century frescoes.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy oldest church
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the oldest church was built in 1004.

Etruscan Necropolis

Orvieto contains one of two Etruscan cemeteries in Italy. This one is 2,500 years old and located on the northern side of the cliff face. The tombs resemble houses, neatly arranged in rows.

Middle Ages Fortress

Built in the 1300s, Albornoz Fortress stood at the edge of the city on the site of an Etruscan temple. It’s purpose was to keep the city secure. Today it’s mostly in ruins and used as a public garden with an amphitheater for performances.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy fortress ruins
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the fortress was built on the site of an Etruscan temple.

Torre del Moro

The 47 meter tall clock tower in central Orvieto contains 236 steps that visitors may climb for spectacular views of the city and valley below. Originally built in the 13th century, the tower belonged to the pope. Today its clock and bells tell time.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy clock tower
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the clock tower is the tallest structure in the city.

White Wine

The soil around Orvieto contains rich minerals, producing grapes that give wines a clean, crisp finish. Orvieto is known for its white wines and Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.

Fall in Love with Orvieto

We loved this beautiful old city at the top of the world. We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering the narrow streets and taking in the sights. Cafes, shops, historical buildings and attractions offer much to visitors.

I’d love to return and spend a long weekend there, experiencing more of the people, the history and the culture.

Have you visited Orvieto, Italy?

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy Dayan and Yaya

 

More Tales from Italy:

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy

Lions of Venice

Things You May Not Know about Michelangelo’s David

Bridge of Sighs

 


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

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace

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

Buckingham Palace, home to Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family, serves as the centerpiece of the monarchy and a venue for many functions. The massive structure is often the focal point for celebrations and commemorations.

On our girls’ trip to the UK in 2017, we stopped by for a visit. We discovered when we arrived in London that Buckingham Palace was open to the public, since the Queen was not in residence. Unfortunately, no tour times remained available.

However, we enjoyed walking around outside the black iron gates and snapping photos. I’ve since learned fun facts about this palatial residence.

Check out these 10 things you may not know about Buckingham Palace.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace title meme

Buckingham Palace Background

The palace didn’t begin life as one. In fact, a village once occupied the spot. Edward the Confessor owned that plot of land and the village. Henry VIII claimed the land for the Crown in 1531. In the 1600s James I intended to raise silkworms there. He planted mulberry trees on the property, however he planted the wrong variety of trees and his plans failed.

John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham, built Buckingham House on the land so that he had a place to stay during his visits to London. In 1820 the house received a palatial makeover by architect John Nash. Buckingham fired him for going way over budget!

George III paid 21,000 pounds for the palace in 1761, as a gift for his wife, Queen Charlotte. She birthed all but one of their 15 children there. However, Queen Victoria first named it as her official residence when she moved there after her coronation in 1837.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace

A Sneaky Visitor

Teenager Edward Jones, known as “the Boy Jones”, sneaked into the palace multiple times during Victoria’s reign. He stole food and the Queen’s underwear…naughty boy…and boasted about sitting on the throne.

Eventually authorities caught him and sent him to Brazil. After he escaped and returned to London, they imprisoned him on a ship for six years and then packed him off to Australia. Jones died there on Boxing Day, 1893.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace queen victoria
10 things you may not know about Buckingham Palace – Queen Victoria attracted  a determined admirer

It’s a Palace, It’s a City

While the Royal Family calls Buckingham Palace home, many other people live there as well. Over 800 staff members dwell within the palace. With a post office, pool, police station, cinema and health clinic, Buckingham behaves as a town more than a palace. It even has its own zip code.

One of the residential staff members, a clock maker, maintains over 350 clocks and watches. Two horological conservators wind the clocks up every week.

The Largest Room

In the palace, the largest room is the Grand Ballroom. It measures  36.6 meters long, 18 meters wide and 13.5 meters high. A party celebrating the end of the Crimean War in 1856 marked the first event held in the grand ballroom.

When electricity came to Buckingham Palace in 1883, the ballroom received illumination first. It took four years to wire the entire structure. Now over 40,000 light bulbs shine bright in the palace.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace
10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace – it possesses its own post office and zip code

So Many Windows and Rooms

Buckingham Palace features 775 rooms tucked within 77,000 square meters of floor space. The palace’s 760 windows get washed every six weeks.

Of the rooms, there are 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms and 19 state rooms.

The Royal Family famously uses the balcony, located on the East Front, to greet large crowds that congregate outside the palace. Queen Victoria first stepped onto the balcony, making a public appearance in 1851. What a tradition she started!

Is the Queen Home?

When the Queen’s royal standard flag flies above the palace, the Queen is in residence. When the Union Jack billows in the wind, this signals that the Queen is elsewhere. She typically spends summers in her castle in Scotland.

The Union Jack indicated the Queen’s absence when we visited.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace flag
10 things you may not know about Buckingham Palace – the Union Jack means the Queen is away

Why Do the Guards Wear Red?

The iconic red uniforms that the guards wear were chosen intentionally. When first created, red for the uniforms proved one of the cheapest dyes to manufacture. Concerning military strategy, red is the most difficult color to distinguish from a distance. The enemy experienced difficulty identifying the number of soldiers present.

King Henry VII made the Royal Body Guard a permanent fixture of the Royal Family over 500 years ago.

Secret Tunnels

A series of secret tunnels runs beneath Buckingham Palace. When King George VI and the Queen Mother explored the tunnels, they discovered a man from Newcastle living in them.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace seal
10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace – symbolism on the gates

Symbolic Gates

In 1905 the  Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts received their most important commission to date…building the wrought iron fence that surrounds the palace and the beautiful gates.

Those gates do more than create a barrier. They tell a story.

On the gate is the Royal Coat of Arms, featuring a crowned Lion symbolizing England and a Unicorn symbolizing Scotland. Diagonally opposite each other on the shield, three walking lions represent England, from the reign of King Richard I. The harp symbolizes Ireland and the upright, or rampart, lion stands for Scotland.

At the bottom of the crest St. George battles the dragon, a mythical nod to King George V.

Party Time

Queen Elizabeth II hosts at least three parties every year at London’s royal residence. Forget fine dining. Guests consume about 20,000 sandwiches at each of these parties, typically held in July.

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace gates
Buckingham Palace gates

First US President to Visit

On the way to a Paris conference, President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson visited the UK in December 1918. King George V threw a banquet in their honor at Buckingham Palace, beginning a long tradition of entertaining US heads of state at the royal residence.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter infamously broke protocol by giving The Queen Mother an unexpected kiss on the lips!

Where to Find Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is located between Green Park and St James’s Park in Central London. This iconic structure doesn’t have an actual street address. Rather, it’s located at the juncture of two processional roads, Constitution Hill and The Mall.

The nearest London Underground stations are Victoria, Hyde Park Corner and St James’s Park.

We took the underground and walked across Hyde Park to reach the palace and then visited nearby Piccadilly Square afterward.

Although sad that we couldn’t go inside, we enjoyed seeing Buckingham Palace. It’s a landmark checked off my list of “must sees”.

Besides, I feel like I’ve seen inside the palace, thanks to the series, The Crown! Another fun fact…The Crown never actually filmed inside Buckingham Palace. Instead they recreated the palace in several estates throughout England.

Perhaps on my next trip to London I’ll get a tour.

Have you visited Buckingham Palace?

10 Things You May Not Know About Buckingham Palace group
Group shot in front of the gates.

Check out other Tales from England:

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

The Tower of London Ravens

 


 

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

 

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon Movie Review

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

One thing I’ve missed this year, during shut ins and shut downs, is watching movies. My local Regal theater closed its doors last March, as did the little indie movie house.

Typically I write 30+ movie reviews a year and share them on the blog. This year? My film reviews number five and the year is far gone. (Read my last review on Emma.)

Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a variety of newer and older releases. And yet, I’ve watched very few films. My disappointment with the theater closures transferred to watching movies anywhere it seems.

It’s time to remedy that!

This week I created a list of films I’m interested in reviewing. First up, the sweet comedy drama The Peanut Butter Falcon.

The Peanut Butter Falcon title meme

The Peanut Butter Falcon Cast

Newcomer Zack Gottsagen headlines this film. Other cast members include Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, Thomas Haden Church, John Hawkes, Yelawolf and Bruce Dern. Pro wrestlers Jake Roberts and Mick Foley make appearances as well.

Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz wrote the screenplay for The Peanut Butter Falcon and directed the film. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes, language, mild violence and the depiction of smoking, and has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

The Peanut Butter Falcon received 21 awards from a variety of indie and film organizations, including the Seal of Authentic Representation for the casting of Zack Gottsagen in the authentic representation of a person with a disability.

The Peanut Butter Falcon poster
The Peanut Butter Falcon movie poster.

Zak Escapes

Zak (Gottsagen) is a pleasant and sincere young man with Down Syndrome. Abandoned by his family, he resides in a senior care facility because he has no where else to go.

Passionate about professional wrestling, Zak and his elderly roommate Carl (Dern) watch the same VHS tape multiple times a day. It features colorful pro wrestler Salt Water Redneck (Church), who ends his video with an enthusiastic invitation to join him at his wrestling school in Ayden, North Carolina.

More than anything in the world, Zak wants to attend that wrestling school and become a pro wrestler like Salt Water Redneck. His failed escape attempts earn him a “flight risk” status and the watchful attention of his favorite caregiver, Eleanor (Johnson).

However, when you deeply desire something, you don’t give up.

Carl helps Zak escape one night, through the bent bars of their window. Wearing only his whitey tighties, Zak experiences exhilarating freedom as he flees.

The Peanut Butter Falcon escape
The Peanut Butter Falcon – Zak contemplating escape

Traveling Buddies

Zak discovers an old fishing boat moored on a river estuary and seeks shelter for the night beneath a tarp.

The boat belongs to Tyler (LaBeouf), another young man on the run for different reasons. Alone as well, after the death of his older brother, Tyler struggles to play by the rules. He resorts to poaching crab pots until the owner, Duncan (Hawkes), and his sidekick Ratboy (Yelawolf), threaten him. When Tyler responds with the destruction of Duncan’s fishing equipment, he’s forced to flee in the old fishing boat that Zak innocently sleeps in.

Although he’s sympathetic toward Zak, Tyler has no intention of helping him. However, a kinship grows between the two. The poacher on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely training coach, traveling companion and ultimately his friend.

Tyler sees Zak as someone who can accomplish his dream. And Zak responds to that belief by trying new experiences and going beyond his comfort zone. When Tyler suggests that Zak create his own wrestler name, he comes up with the Peanut Butter Falcon.

The Peanut Butter Falcon travelers
The Peanut Butter Falcon – kinship
The Peanut Butter Falcon Eleanor
Eleanor

Never Give Up

In a Mark Twain like twist, Zak and Tyler construct a raft and travel by river toward the wrestling school. They are joined on their journey by Eleanor, who is searching for Zak to return him to the senior facility.

Tyler helps Eleanor see Zak differently. Her concern for the young man causes her to coddle him and view him as not capable of caring for himself. Zak shows her just how capable he is.

Initially Eleanor accompanies the pair of adventurers to keep an eye on Zak. As her fear lessens, she continues with them to see Zak’s dream of reaching the wrestling school realized.

When the trio finally arrives in Ayden, they discover that circumstances have changed for Salt Water Redneck. The VHS tape is at least ten years old and the school no longer exists.

But dreams nurtured and carried for that long do not easily wither and die. And the spirit of the dream carrier is as strong as his determination to wrestle. There comes a time when one must stop running away from things and instead, run toward what’s most wanted.

Will the Peanut Butter Falcon earn his chance to appear in the ring?

The Peanut Butter Falcon PBF
Zak as The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon friendship
The Peanut Butter Falcon – the power of friendship

My Thoughts on The Peanut Butter Falcon

This is a beautifully presented film, for many reasons. The cinematography captures the feel of the deep south, with most of the action taking place along marshy rivers.

The relationship between Tyler, Zak and Eleanor seems like an extension of the friendship that developed between the actors. Their bond perfectly exemplifies Carl’s sentiment, at the beginning of the film, that “friends are the family you choose”.

The heart of this enchanting movie, however, is Zack Gottsagen and his outstanding performance.

This movie came about because the directors met Zack at a camp, where he expressed his desire to be in a movie. They wrote the script around him, turning Zack’s dreams into a reality while creating a similar journey for the character he played.

Zack Gottsagen stands squarely on his own talents as an actor, giving a sincere and thought provoking performance that made me laugh out loud and sniffle through tears. He moved me and I look forward to seeing him in future films.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Zack
Zack Gottsagen

Watch The Peanut Butter Falcon

You can watch this endearing film for free on Amazon Video if you have a Prime Membership. (Snag a free trial HERE). Or click the image below to purchase it.

 

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

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

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

This month, my Friday Road Trip became a Weekend Getaway, at a unique destination 1.4 miles from my home in Joplin.

My sisters joined me for an overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

And here’s how this interesting weekend came about. Wanting to include local sites of interest on my blog, I checked online to find the owner of this historical building in my city. Intending to gain permission to take photos in the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout, I instead discovered the apartment over the garage is an Airbnb available to rent.

Perfect!

My intention to take photos for a story turned into a fun overnight experience.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout title meme

The Barrow Gang Comes to Joplin

The Joplin connection is a vital one, in the saga of Bonnie and Clyde.

This infamous couple, Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, traveled the lower Midwest between 1931 and 1934. The pair’s life of crime began with robberies of small stores and gas stations and escalated to bank heists and murder.

Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife Blanche and the youth WD Jones completed the Barrow Gang. During their years of crime, they killed nine police officers and four civilians.

On April 1, 1933, the gang rented an over the garage apartment in Joplin, Missouri. Located in a quiet, affluent neighborhood, the upstairs apartment’s many windows provided vantage points to watch for the approach of law enforcement.

For 13 days the group hid in the apartment while committing a series of robberies in Missouri and neighboring states. They slept late into the day, partied heartily at night and cleaned weapons in the garage.  A variety of stolen cars appeared and disappeared from the property. Their unusual activities drew suspicion from the neighbors.

On April 13, 1933, police arrived, expecting to find bootleggers. Instead, a furious shootout occurred. Joplin police detective Harry McGinnis and Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman lost their lives. McGinnis died from his wounds in a nearby hospital while Harryman died instantly, his body falling into the garage.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout 1933
Bonnie and Clyde apartment 1933. Photo taken by Blanche Barrow.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout 2020
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout in 2020.

The Importance of the Joplin Hideout

Bonnie and Clyde, Buck and Blanche and WD escaped, however they left all of their belongings behind. Police discovered a camera and undeveloped rolls of film. The circulated photos from those canisters allowed law enforcement across the lower US to see what the outlaws looked like. The brutality of the shooting in Joplin helped to change the public’s opinion about the gang.

Buck Barrow died as a result of gunshot wounds from a raid at Platte City, Missouri on July 29, 1933.

Blanche Barrow eventually served six years in prison for assault. After her release she remarried and lived quietly for the rest of her life. She died December 24, 1989.

WD Jones, who was only 16 when he joined with Bonnie and Clyde, received a 15 year sentence. He was paroled after six years. WD died August 20, 1974 from gunshot wounds, after an altercation.

And Bonnie and Clyde’s crime spree came to an end on May 23, 1934 on a rural road in Louisiana. A posse of Texas rangers and Louisiana officers set up an ambush, firing more than 100 rounds into the car carrying the duo.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout duo
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – photo of the pair found in the camera left behind in Joplin.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bonnie
One of the most famous photos of Bonnie Parker, found in the camera left in Joplin.

Spending the Night at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

I reserved the apartment through Airbnb. My sisters and I, along with our mother, arrived at 3:00 pm sharp. We checked ourselves in through the access keypad on the door.

The apartment, which is registered as a historic site, contains a living room, full kitchen with a dining area, two bedrooms and a bathroom. One of the bedrooms is set up as a parlor without a bed.

Saundra, the owner and host, offers charming and meticulously clean accommodations with an authentic 1930s feel. The rooms contain photos, newspaper articles and books detailing the lives of the Barrow Gang. And guests can watch the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, on the television hidden in a cabinet in the living room.

Join me on a photo tour of this unique apartment.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout stairs
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – stairs leading up to the apartment. The door to the garage, lower right, is locked.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Ferni
Ferni’s first photo op. Check out our last adventure.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Kitchen

I love Airbnbs with kitchens. We toted in groceries for our evening meal, snacks and breakfast the next morning. The kitchen in the Bonnie and Clyde apartment offers a full sized electric range, a small refrigerator with freezer and an assortment of cooking pots, dinnerware and utensils.

A small dining table and two chairs provide a spot for meals.

With its windows and cozy decor, the kitchen became my favorite space in the dwelling. I enjoyed preparing aloo matar for dinner and fruit bowls for breakfast. A black tea kettle inspired me to prepare cups of peppermint tea.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout kitchen
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – love this cheerful, bright kitchen.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout making tea
Making tea. The full sized stove made cooking easy during our stay.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout dining area
My favorite spot in the apartment.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Living Room

The living room, with its original wood floors and wall of windows, provides the perfect place to gather. The four chairs offer ample seating. We enjoyed thumbing through the books about Bonnie and Clyde.

Because Mom and my daughter Elissa joined us for dinner, we used this space for eating as well as lively discussions and watching the Bonnie and Clyde film together later.

Tucked into a corner is a large cupboard where the gang stashed their guns. There’s a bullet hole within it, from the spray of bullets that came through a window.

I also enjoyed looking through the guests books in this room, where visitors record their appreciation for this apartment.

 

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout living room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – comfy living room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout book
Copy of Blanche’s book, My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, available to read. We all read the Joplin chapter while there.

The Bathroom

The bathroom off of the short hallway still contains its original bathtub. However the rest of the bathroom is updated for convenience.

I love the black and white theme and the clean, bright space.

Saundra provides soaps and towels for her guests.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout bathroom
Cute and classy black and white bathroom.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bedrooms

The original floor plan of the apartment shows two bedrooms, one at either end of a short hallway.

Although Saundra set up one room as a parlor, it’s easy to determine which bedrooms members of the Barrow Gang utilized.

The front bedroom, overlooking the street, is currently the parlor. Blanche and Buck Barrow slept in this room.

Bonnie and Clyde used the back bedroom. I read that WD Jones actually slept with the couple most of the time although in this apartment it’s possible he also claimed the living room as his space.

For our overnight, my sisters slept in Bonnie and Clyde’s room while I slept on an air mattress that I brought along, in the front bedroom.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Blanche and Buck's room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – Blanche and Buck’s room, now a parlor
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bonnie and Clyde's bedroom
Bonnie and Clyde’s bedroom.

Our Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

We loved our overnight in this lovely apartment.

The neighborhood is indeed quiet and the windows in the upstairs apartment let in plenty of sunlight. After settling in, we savored our evening meal and snacks and chatted until early in the morning.

I enjoyed preparing tea for me and one of my sisters. And imagine the surreal experience of watching a movie about these notorious outlaws while actually sitting in the space they lived in for a short time.

With my sensitivity to energy, it was not hard to sense Bonnie, Clyde, Blanche, Buck and WD moving silently about the hideout. And while many romanticized this couple during the height of their crime spree, Bonnie and Clyde lived a life outside of the law. The consequences of their actions and lifestyle resulted in pain and death for innocent people. And yet, I recognize their humanity too and I’m willing to learn from their stories.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout tea time
Tea time during our overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

Sleeping Well

When I first arrived at the apartment, I felt some of that residual pain empathically. After all, two men died during the shoot out. Because of that lingering energy, I honestly didn’t know if I could sleep in Blanche and Buck’s room. However, by bedtime I’d made peace with the energy there, which mellowed out during the evening.

We slept well in the Bonnie and Clyde hideout, my sisters and I.

Awaking early, with sunlight streaming in through the windows, I curled up on the chaise lounge in the parlor and read in Blanche’s book. Taken from her diary, the book provides an intimate glimpse into life with the famous outlaws. Gratefully, I’m picking up the book at the Joplin Public Library tomorrow, to finish reading it.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout reading
A lovely spot to start the day.

Visit the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

I highly recommend this Airbnb! Saundra is a super host, providing a unique experience for her guests. My sisters and I would definitely stay here again.

The apartment is located at 3347 1/2 Oak Ridge Drive, in Joplin, although the building actually faces 34th Street. There is a historic landmark sign in the yard.

If you appreciate unusual buildings, enjoy history or want to experience a space where famous outlaws once resided, book this outstanding Airbnb using this link. New to Airbnb? Save up to $65 off of your first stay with this link!

When you visit, soak in the history and the stories within those walls…and tell the Barrow Gang I said hello.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout sign
Historic landmark sign at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

Purchase the movie and books below from Amazon:

 


 

 

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The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny

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I first toured Edinburgh Castle in 2014, with my cousins Mindy and William. On that dreich day in August, we stood huddled around our tour guide Jonathan as he spoke passionately about Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, housed nearby in a room of the castle.

With his long red hair blowing in the wind and fire in his fierce blue eyes, Jonathan epitomized the proud Scots warrior, ready to defend his beloved country. I shivered as he spoke in his heavy Scottish brogue and it had nothing to do with the cold. He shared how the stone left Scotland for a time…a very long time…and eventually returned home where, he declared vehemently, it will remain.

And he intrigued me with a tale of the infamous theft of the Stone of Destiny.

When my cousins opted to leave the castle complex to attend a whiskey tasting, I chose to stay behind and see this Stone of Destiny that stirred such passion in our guide.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny title meme

The Stone of Destiny Backstory

The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone and in England, the Coronation Stone, is an oblong block of red sandstone. This rather ordinary looking block of stone served for centuries as the coronation stone for the monarchs of Scotland.

The Scone Abbey near Perth, Scotland originally housed the artifact. Historian Walter Hemingford described the stone as “hollowed out as a chair on which future kings were placed for their coronation, according to custom.”

The stone measures 26 inches by 16.7 inches by 10.5 inches. A roughly etched cross decorates one surface while embedded iron rings aid with transport. It weighs 335 pounds.

In 1296 the English king Edward I took the stone as spoils of war and moved it to Westminster Abbey. A special wooden coronation chair became the stone’s resting place. Edward sought to claim status as the “Lord Paramount” of Scotland with the right to oversee its king.

All subsequent English monarchs sat in the chair, above the stone, when crowned. Queen Elizabeth II last used the coronation chair in 1953.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny coronation chair
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – illustration of the Coronation Chair with the Stone

A Daring Rescue Plan

In 1950, more than 650 years after the stone left Scotland, a group of Scottish college students concocted a bold plan…steal the Stone of Destiny and bring it home.

A law student at the University of Glasgow, Ian Hamilton joined with Alan Stuart, Kay Matheson and Gavin Vernon to break into Westminster Abbey and recover the stone.

Ian read everything he could find about the Abbey and scouted out the building several times. On one visit, he deliberately stayed past closing time, hiding near the Coronation Chair. A janitor discovered him and thinking the young man drunk, offered him a coin and let him out a side door.

During these surveillance trips, Ian found the side doors made of pine, making them easy to break into after hours.

On Christmas Eve, 1950, Ian and his companions drove to London in two separate cars. Arriving early on Christmas Day, the group parked near the Abbey. Kay remained in a running car, ready for a quick get away, while the boys stealthily entered the Abbey. That’s when the plan began to fall apart.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny top view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – top view

Stealing the Stone of Destiny

The heavy stone rested in a chair made specifically for it. The young men found it difficult to remove the stone and ultimately broke part of the chair. Tugging the stone free at last, it fell to the floor, breaking toes on one of the men’s foot. More alarming to them, the stone broke in two.

Ian quickly grabbed the smaller piece and carried it to the car where Kay waited. He stashed the stone segment in the back seat. As he re-entered the Abbey, he heard a police officer approaching. Dashing back to Kay, Ian took her into his arms and kissed her. Questioned by the policeman, the pair claimed to be a couple searching for accommodations for the night.

Once the officer left, Kay drove off with the smaller stone segment hidden beneath a blanket. When Ian returned to the Abbey, he discovered the other men had fled. With great determination and ingenuity, the lad used his coat to laboriously drag the heavier stone segment out of the building.

As he heaved the stone into the trunk of the second car, his comrades returned. They all left together.

The theft discovered, roadblocks sprang up on all streets out of London. Kay did not draw suspicion, as a single girl driving a car. She made it through and crossed the border, taking her part of the stone to her family’s farm in Scotland.

The young men chose to hide the larger segment in England, fearing they could not make it across the closed border. They buried the stone in an empty field in Kent. Eventually they returned for the stone and successfully transported it to Scotland.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny side view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – side view

Back to England

With the help of the Scottish National Party leader, the courageous college students had the stone repaired by a stone master. The theft made international headlines and brought a united sense of joy to the Scottish people.

As the investigation into the theft of the Destiny Stone came closer and closer to the perpetrators, the four decided that they had accomplished their purpose. By stealing the Stone of Destiny and bringing it home they raised awareness of Scotland’s subordination to England.

The four contacted two Arbroath town councilors and turned over the stone.

On April 11, 1951, the councilors helped the college students set up the stone on an altar in the abandoned Arbroath Abbey and called the authorities. The English got the stone back and returned it to the Coronation Chair. The students disbanded and never met again. Ian completed his studies and became a criminal lawyer.

The way was paved, however, for the stone to return to its rightful place in Scotland. In 1996 the English handed over the Stone of Destiny, on the condition that they may “borrow” it for any future coronations.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny Robert the Bruce
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – statue of Robert the Bruce

Viewing the Stone of Destiny

Twice I’ve viewed the Stone of Destiny in Edinburgh Castle. Both times I felt deeply moved.

The stone rests within a plexiglass case along with the Crown Jewels of Scotland. I can’t touch it yet I feel the hum of sacred energy that flows from it. My Scottish DNA responds, causing my eyes to fill with tears and my heart to beat faster. Photographs are not allowed so I spent several long minutes studying the stone, searing its image into my mind and soul.

What an amazing history this stone possesses. I love the courage and resourcefulness of the four young adults who accomplished what no one else dared. They took back what was rightfully theirs. That feat ultimately resulted in a permanent return of the stone and the Scottish are extremely protective of it now.

As an older adult, Ian said:

“When I lifted the stone in Westminster Abbey, I felt Scotland’s soul was in my hands.”

What a marvelous representation of Scotland’s hardy, warrior soul is the Stone of Destiny. Long may it remain in Edinburgh.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny group photo
Group photo at Edinburgh Castle, September 2017

Want to watch a fun depiction of this true story? Check out the Stone of Destiny film, available through Amazon Prime. Click on photo to rent.

Not a Prime member? Click HERE

 

Or purchase the book by clicking on the photo below.

 

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

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy

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Every country has their own culture. Delving into that culture is one of the reasons I enjoy travel. And every country has their own superstitions.

On my trip to Italy in 2017, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan, I experienced one of Italy’s good luck traditions first hand. That funny and somewhat startling event inspired me to discover more.

Here are 10 good luck traditions from Italy.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy title meme

The Importance of Learning Culture

After doing my research, I wish I’d known more about these Italian superstitions before my trip. Why? Because knowing them prevents inadvertently offending with my actions or inaction. Or at the least, keeps me from appearing insensitive or ignorant.

Superstitious traditions are woven throughout culture, even if they are no longer perceived in the same way that ancestors believed. The United States observes many superstitions that have become part of our culture. Knocking on wood, beginner’s luck, and find a penny, pick it up all come to mind. Some superstitions are almost universal. Black cats can’t catch a break anywhere because of their supposed association with witches long ago.

The following good luck traditions from Italy are fun to know and carry importance because they teach us more about the Italian people.

Pooped on by a Bird

This is the superstition I had the honor of experiencing!

While our wonderful tour guide Fabiola completed purchases to surprise us with later, the group settled on benches outside the gate of the medieval village of San Gimignano. A large leafy tree provided ample shade as we chatted about our exploration of the village.

As Fabiola strolled toward us with her bags, we gathered our belongings and prepared to board the bus. Suddenly I felt something hit me, on the shoulder and arm. Looking up, I spied a bird directly above me in the tree. Glancing back at my arm, I realized that bird pooped on me.

I made a sound of disgust. However, Fabi and some of the others cheered and clapped their hands.

When a bird poops on you in Italy, it is a symbol of good luck. It means you’ve been singled out for good fortune. Visiting a casino is considered the next best move after such a blessing from above.

People came up to me and rubbed my shoulder, to transfer my good fortune to themselves. One dear woman handed me a package of wipes. Bless her.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bird poop
10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy – bird poop

Tocco Ferro – Touch Iron

In the US we knock on wood for good luck. In Italy, they touch iron. Some even carry a nail with them so that iron always remains within reach. A rusty nail is especially lucky. And like Americans, a metal horseshoe hung on or above a door, with the open ends pointing up, brings good luck to the household.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions form Italy - cornicello
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello charm

Carry a Cornicello Charm

A cornicello resembles a small horn or chili pepper. It represents the horns of the Old European Moon Goddess. Cornicellos are sold predominately in the Naples area, although they are available throughout Italy.

Carrying or wearing a cornicello protects from the curse of the Evil Eye, which is the look a jealous or envious person gives, and from bad luck in general. The charms also hang from the rearview mirrors of vehicles, based on the older custom of using them to protect draft horses, and in houses.

Cornicello also refers to a hand gesture in Italy, used similarly to ward off evil. Gold and silver hand charms are sold as well.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello hand charm

Lucky Number 13

The Italians consider 13 a very lucky number. It is associated with the Goddess of Fertility and represents prosperity and abundance.

However, the Italians have their unlucky number too. For them, the number 17 is extremely unlucky. The Roman numerals XVII rearrange to create the word VIXI, an Italian word for “I have lived”. That phrase is commonly used on tombstones and therefore, connected with death.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy - 13
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lucky number 13

Bocca al Lupo – In the Mouth of the Wolf

The Italians don’t like to say the words “good luck” to each other. Similar to the American expression “break a leg” which is another way of saying good luck, the Italians say “bocca al lupo”. This expression means “in the mouth of the wolf”. The correct response is “crepi”, which means “let it die” or “wolf, die”.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bocca al lupo
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bocca al lupo

Spilling Salt or Olive Oil

Many cultures believe the superstition that spilling salt brings bad luck. One origin story suggests that at one time, salt was a valuable commodity. Spilling it created waste and perhaps bad luck followed such misfortune.

And consider da Vinci’s The Last Supper. In that painting Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, is portrayed as knocking over the salt container. And no one wants an association with Judas.

In Italy it’s considered unfortunate if you spill salt OR olive oil. To counter the effects, one must toss the spilled salt over the left shoulder and dab olive oil behind each ear.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy salt
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – tossing spilled salt over the shoulder

House Blessings

Speaking of salt, Italians may bless their homes by putting salt in the corners. Salt cleanses the house by absorbing any negative energy or toxins.

Leave the salt for a few hours and then vacuum  or sweep it up.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy San Gimignano
Good Luck Traditions from Italy – salt in the corner of houses, like these in San Gimignano

New Brooms

This tradition connects to houses as well. Sweep away old bad luck when moving into a new home, using a brand new broom. Just don’t sweep over the feet of a single person. If you do, he or she may never be swept off their feet by love.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy broom
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – new broom

Good Luck Herbs

In Italy herbs assist with creating good luck.

Bay laurel leaves protect wearers from bad luck while helping them fulfill their dreams. Graduates often still wear laurel leaf crowns to represent good fortune. The bay laurel leaf symbolizes acquired wisdom as well.

And basil wards off poverty, which many consider an evil.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy laurel leaves
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bay laurel leaves

New Year’s Eve Traditions

These two Italian New Year’s Eve traditions sound intriguing!

After Christmas, red underwear, for men and women, goes on sale. These garments, worn on New Year’s Eve only, bring good luck for the upcoming year. Red is the color of fertility as well and important to couples hoping for a baby in the new year.

And the Italians eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. The coin like shape of the lentils represents money and prosperity for the upcoming year.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy lentils
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lentils on New Year’s Eve

Favorite Good Luck Traditions

Did you know about these superstitions, popular in Italy? I enjoyed learning more about them. The warm, friendly people of Italy sprinkle many expressions throughout their language, that beautifully capture life. I love their perspectives and their traditions.

I know I have readers from around the world. What good luck traditions do you practice? I’d love to know!

Researching Italian good luck traditions for this blog post brought fortune my way. Inspiration compels me to write another post, perfect for the end of the year. Perhaps the bird poop blessing continues…

The gate into San Gimignano
The gate into San Gimignano, Italy.

Check out these other Tales from Italy posts:

Lions of Venice

The Bridge of Sighs

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo’s David

 


 

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

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

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

A change I’ve observed this year, for many people, is the desire to simplify their lives. The months spent at home, the extra time with family, growing gardens and cooking at home more created…or perhaps satisfied…a longing for simplicity.

The first week in August brings with it National Simplify Your Life Week. This holiday encourages us to refocus our lives by decluttering and eliminating anything that causes stress or anxiety. The decluttering isn’t just physical. Clearing space happens on an emotional and spiritual level as well.

Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It can feel challenging to follow through with making changes in our lives, even changes that ultimately bring greater joy and deeper peace.

Here are 20 ways to simplify your life, to get you started. Most of these changes require little effort beyond putting practices into place. Some you probably already do.

 

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life title meme

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Perhaps you find yourself longing for a more simple way of life. Or perhaps you are enjoying the new simplicity that you’ve adopted this year and feel ready for more changes. Try a few or all of these suggestions.

Set Monthly or Weekly or Daily Goals

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions or crafting a long list of goals for the year, break them down into more manageable goals. Try setting one to three goals for the month. Then add actions steps for the week. And finally, prioritize what’s most important, daily, to accomplish.

These shorter range goals help you accomplish more, creating satisfaction while developing new habits and practices that bring you greater joy.

Create a Daily List of your Most Important Things To Do

If you are a list maker, like me, you might enjoy adding everything for the day to your list, just for the joy of crossing it off.

If list making isn’t your thing, try jotting down your top three priorities for each day and focus on those. Nothing else gets done, until those three priorities are crossed off. Once those big items are completed, you have time and energy to focus on other things, if you want to.

Create Systems

You can create a streamlined system for just about anything and put it into place. This might include a cleaning schedule that’s simple yet effective. Or a food prep system. Whatever you find yourself doing repeatedly, streamline it with a system to free up time for other things.

As a blogger, the best system I’ve created thus far is to plan out and schedule all my blog posts and social media posts a month in advance. I’ve been doing this since last October and I’m amazed at how much time it saves me. As each month draws to a close, I create the next month, filling in a notebook page for both blogs and their corresponding social media pages.

What tasks could you streamline by creating a system?

Use Your Phone’s Calendar to Set Reminders

That smart phone is a handy way to keep track of appointments or tasks. I use mine to schedule everything from meeting with people to turning in assignments to listening to a podcast. You can set an alarm too, five minutes to an hour before the event, so that you don’t miss it.

I also use the notes section on my phone for all kinds of things such as capturing ideas, saving info or dictating a blog post. Sometimes I wonder about something, as I’m driving. I’ll ask a question and save it in my notes until I can check on it later. Often the answer arrives to my question without any further effort on my part. I love it when that happens!

Anything that you can move from your brain to paper or a electronic device frees up the mind to then focus on other things.

Unsubscribe from Emails and Create a Follow Up Folder

This is something I am currently working on. An overwhelming number of emails flood my inboxes every day. I’m talking about hundreds of emails daily. I can’t keep up with them and sadly, most of them are not important to me anyway.

I’m currently unsubscribing from anything that I’m no longer interested in or never signed up for anyway. It’s a slow process however Google is now assisting me by showing me emails from companies that I’ve not opened in the last 30 days and asking me if I want to unsubscribe. Yes. Yes I do.

For emails that I want to come back to and respond to I have a Follow Up Folder that I move them to. It’s easy then to find them rather than having to scroll through lots and lots of emails.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life list
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – make lists and systems and follow them

Declutter Your House One Room at a Time

Clutter clogs energy. As clutter accumulates in a room, it changes the flow of energy. Soon you’ll find yourself avoiding that room or tossing more stuff in there and then closing the door on it.

Free up the flow of energy and feel better in your own home by systematically decluttering a room at a time. Start with one room and don’t move on to the next room until that room is finished. Use the three piles method as you clear the room: throw away pile, give away pile, keep pile. Then throw away, give away and find a place for everything in the keep pile.

Organize Your Closets and Drawers

After you declutter a room, tackle the closets and drawers in that room too. Use the same three pile method of dealing with all that’s in those closets and drawers. I love Marie Kondo’s method of holding items to see if they spark joy. If they do, keep them. If they don’t, give them away or throw them away.

Marie offers wonderful suggestions for organizing closets, drawers and spaces. Pick up her book HERE.

You will LOVE the way your rooms and ultimately your home feel after a good decluttering and re-organization.

Have a Place for Everything

And put everything in its place. A recent study suggests that we spend the equivalent of 12 days a year, looking for things we can’t find. Bring simplicity into your life and stop wasting time searching for lost items. When everything has a place, it’s easy to locate it, use it and put it back.

Simplify Your Wardrobe

How many of your clothes do you actually wear? Simplify your wardrobe by eliminating all the clothes you no longer wear, for whatever reason. Donate clothing to shelter closets or organizations that resell them. Or sale them yourself through apps like Poshmark.

Using Marie’s “does it spark joy?”, sort through clothes and keep only those that bring you joy. If you haven’t worn it in a year, will you ever? Create a capsule wardrobe of pieces that work well together.

I love the sustainable clothing movement that encourages us to buy less throw away type clothing, focusing instead on quality pieces that last for years. Buy less. Buy sustainable. Purchase clothing from second hand shops. Repurpose clothing. It’s all better for the pocket book and it’s better for the planet as well.

Buy Less, Consume Less, Waste Less

Beyond clothing, in what other areas can you spend less, waste less, consume less? I’m working on eliminating single use plastics from my home and life by using more glass and metal items.

I’m also finding ways to reuse and repurpose items so that I’m buying less throw away materials. These practices not only simplify life they benefit the environment and the planet.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life plastics
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – eliminate plastics

Eat More Whole Foods

Eating more whole foods, such as fruits, veggies, simple grains and herbs simplifies life and improves health at the same time. Trust me, an unhealthy life is complicated and time consuming.

Eating healthier meals can be as simple as veggie bowls, fruit smoothies, stir fries and chopped veggie salads. I can make a meal on a bowl of watermelon!

Prep Food

Food prep once a week streamlines the cooking process, freeing up time for other things. Spend an hour on Sunday afternoon washing, chopping and preparing food, then store everything in the refrigerator. I love the ease and convenience of having foods ready to go in the fridge.

Invest in an instant pot and a slow cooker to make meal preparation easier.

Carry a Water Bottle Everywhere

We all know we need to drink more water. Make it simple to get enough water by having it with you, always. Invest in a metal water container to eliminate plastic use. Check out these colorful choices below! Click on the photo for more info or to purchase.

 

Stop Hanging Out with Toxic People

Make room in your life for people who are in alignment with who you are and who encourage you. None of us have time for people who are toxic, who berate or belittle or disrespect who we are.

In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle compares setting boundaries to living on an island. No one comes onto your island unless you allow them to. Don’t allow toxic people to bring negative energy into your space.

Slow Down

If you find yourself rushing through a day filled with back to back appointments and events, slow down. Create space in the day to catch your breath and take a break.

Simplicity means you become present in the moment and notice what’s going on around you. It’s pausing to bring yourself back to yourself. My favorite way of building breaks into the day is afternoon tea time. That 30 minute break restores me.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life breaks
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – take a break

Practice Self Care

One aspect of a simple lifestyle is self care. We cannot offer to others when we are running on empty. Do what you must to care for yourself, then you can offer to others.

Meditate, go for walks, do yoga, practice a healthy lifestyle, give yourself a manicure, read a book, do absolutely nothing for an hour. Whatever restores you…body, mind and spirit…do that. Build me time into your day.

Use More Ecologically Friendly Products

Try using more ecologically friendly products in your home. Laundry products, cleaning supplies, shampoos, shower soaps and toiletries are all available in plant based or chemical and dye free versions. These products are cleaner for the environment and better for us as well.

Check out stores like Natural Grocers or health food stores to discover the vast variety of ecological products available.

I love my alpaca wool dryer balls. Used in place of fabric softener sheets, they are an easy item to incorporate into your simple lifestyle.

Watch Less Television

I enjoy watching an occasional show or browsing through Netflix on the weekends. However, television qualifies as a huge time waster. Spending too much time playing electronic games or scrolling through social media do also.

There’s nothing wrong with watching tv or looking at Facebook. My blogging tasks include time on social media. It’s part of my job. However, hours and hours spent watching tv or scrolling through Instagram means less time to do other things you might enjoy.

Disconnect from electronics and rediscover the joys of outdoor play, reading a book or deep conversations with family or friends.

Create Morning and Evening Rituals

These simple routines start and end the day well. Spend 10 to 30 minutes gearing up for the day and preparing for a good night’s sleep at the end of it.

Write out your ideal morning and evening rituals and begin practicing them, modifying if necessary, until they become habits. Your morning routine might include reading, meditation, juicing or a run. Evening rituals might include music, a hot bath, writing and making tomorrow’s to do list. Customize your routines for you.

Say No to the Things You Don’t Want to Do

A major component of a simplified life is to not cram too much into the day. I love saying yes as often as I can, however I say yes to the things that I want to do. New opportunities and creativity and joy inducing activities receive a resounding yes from me. I say no to others’ expectations and events that are not in alignment with who I am.

This was a challenging area for me, for many years. I’m such a people pleaser. Now I focus on pleasing myself first.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life night routine
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – night routine

Living a Simple Lifestyle

Living a simple lifestyle means different things to different people. It begins with the process of identifying what’s most important to you and eliminating everything else.

When asked how he created the beautiful David statue, Michelangelo answered that he simply chipped away all the stone that was not David.

That’s how we create a simplified life. We chip away all that is not who we are and what we love to do.

Write down what is most important to you. List three to five things. Use those to create a Simplicity Statement. Then make room for the simple by eliminating the excess. Keep your Simplicity Statement where you can see it and refer to it often.

If you need ideas, return to the list above, of 20 ways to simplify your life. Then go, and enjoy that life.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life joys
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – simple joys

 

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Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

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The Tower of London, located in the center of the city, is a fascinating place full of history and intrigue. In 2017 I spent hours touring the complex and learning its stories with my sisters, mother and niece. And, I discovered the “tower” is a series of towers and buildings that form an impressive fortress.

William the Conqueror built the White Tower that now forms the core of the complex in 1078. That tower, considered a symbol of oppression against London by the Norman ruler, served as a prison from 1100 until 1952.

Although the complex housed a royal residence early in its history and  contains many other buildings, the Tower became synonymous with the prison. The thought of imprisonment in the Tower created fear, for many who went into the Tower never came out. However, a few ingenious prisoners managed to break out of this formidable place.

These are the tales of some of the most daring escapes from the Tower of London.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London title meme

Five of the Most Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

During its 900 plus year history, more than 8,000 people experienced imprisonment in the Tower. About 400 died there, with many of those losing their heads. A few captives refused to remain within those seemingly impenetrable walls, preferring to escape or die trying.

These are five of the best escapes.

Ranulf Flambard

The first official escapee from the Tower was a Bishop, the king’s tax collector and a builder. Ranulf oversaw the construction of the stone London Bridge, Westminster Hall and the curtain wall around the Tower of London.

When Henry I ascended to the throne, he removed Ranulf from official duties, charged him with embezzlement and imprisoned him.

For six months Ranulf patiently built up trust with his jailers, entertaining them frequently with banquets. On February 2, 1101 Ranulf hosted another elaborate banquet, offering an abundance of wine to his guests.

As the jailers lay drunk, Ranulf used a rope he smuggled into his cell and rappelled down the curtain wall he built. Although the rope was too short, he dropped the last 20 feet to where a horse awaited him, left there by friends, and disappeared into the night.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London white tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – the White Tower in the center of the complex

Alice Tankerville

Alice is the only woman who attempted to flee from the Tower. Imprisoned during the reign of Henry VIII, Alice faced a death sentence for stealing 366 gold crowns. Considered a charming woman, Alice befriended one of her jailers, John Bawde.

Bawde fell in love with Alice and agreed to help her escape. Planning their escape through the Traitor’s Gate, Bawde secured rope and cut a second key to one of the Tower’s outer doors.

On a dark night in 1524, Alice escaped with the help of Bawde. After tying the rope to an iron hook,  the pair of lovers lowered themselves down the parapets of St. Thomas’ Tower. Exiting through the gate, they rowed a small boat across the moat, then disembarked and crept down a road toward the spot where two horses waited.

Alas, their plan failed. Tower guards lived along the road they walked on. The night watch apprehended Alice and Bawde, returning them to the Tower. On March 31, 1534, Alice was left chained to the wall along the river during low tide, to meet her fate as the tide rose.  John Bawde experienced the rack and then suspended in chains over the outer walls of the Tower, he died of exposure and dehydration. Officials never found the gold pieces.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London gate
Daring Escapes from the Tower of London – the Traitor’s Gate where prisoners were brought in via the Thames River

Edmund Neville

Edmund holds the distinction of making three attempts to escape from the Tower. Accused of plotting against Elizabeth I, he first experienced the Tower in 1584. Using a small file, he worked loose the bars of his cell window until he could squeeze through and climb down the wall.

Edmond actually fled London, however the odor clinging to him from his swim across the Tower moat alerted a horseman, who turned him in. After his capture, he returned to his Tower cell.

Two years later, the man attempted the same escape, through the same window. This time, using a rope smuggled in to him by his wife, Edmund carefully lowered himself down. However, his rope too short, Edmund dropped into the moat with a splash, alerting the guards.

Six years later, he made his third attempt. This time, he created a mannequin out of straw and dressed it in his own clothes. He then dressed as a blacksmith, complete with fake tools, and waited for his jailer to enter his cell. Unable to overcome his guard, the plan failed. Happily for him, he gained his release from the Tower two years later and was exiled.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – one of the towers in the complex

John Gerard

A Jesuit priest, John experienced imprisonment in the Tower in 1597 due to his Catholic faith. During the reign of Elizabeth I, those associated with the Catholic Church faced persecution.

Torture did not force John to denounce his faith. In spite of the torture, his jailers showed kindness to the priest, allowing his friends to send him gifts such as clothing and oranges. John shared his oranges with the guards…while using the juice to write secret message. The juice dries invisible but appears when heated.

After enlisting help through those secret messages, he escaped on October 4,  1597 using a rope strung across the Tower moat. John even arranged for the escape of one of his jailers because he knew the man would be held responsible for the escape.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London bridge
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Thames River near the Tower. That’s the Tower Bridge in the background.

William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale

This escape story is my favorite, told to us last year while we toured Traquair House in the Borders of Scotland.

Taken to the Tower for his part in the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, William might have died there if not for his wife, Lady Winifred. After trying to secure her husband’s release through legal means, and failing, Lady Winifred concocted an ingenious plan.

On the day before his scheduled execution, she and her maids visited William in his cell. Beneath their dresses they smuggled in layers of clothes. William walked out of the tower with the maids, wearing a dress and the “nithsdale cloak”, which is still held dear by his descendants.

Lady Winifred remained in the cell and pretended to talk to her husband, before making her own escape. She joined William in Paris and they lived out their days together.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London Lady Winifred
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Lady Winifred used ingenuity to help her husband escape. I took this photo while in Traquair House.

No Longer a Prison

After centuries of use as a prison, the Tower no longer serves that purpose. The drained moat is now the Tower ditch and the torture dungeon is a tourist attraction.

The stories live on though, and walking around the complex, one can easily imagine the life and death dramas that played out here within these intimidating walls. Of the 8,000 plus prisoners held captive here, only 40 successfully escaped.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London, would you try to escape?

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London group photo
Group photo in the Tower. Fortunately, we could walk out of the complex!

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Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo’s David

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My daughter, grandson and I toured Italy in 2017, checking many destinations and sights off our “must see” list. The colosseum and Sistine Chapel in Rome, Venice’s canals and the Leaning Tower of Pisa were on the list, along with Michelangelo’s David in Florence.

To see those places, structures and statue, after years of reading about them and studying photos, was both surreal and wondrous.

In Florence, our tour guide, Andrea, shared stories about David, one of the most amazing sculptures in the world. Andrea’s reverence and passion kept us spellbound and listening to every word as he shared from his wealth of knowledge.

I learned much that I did not know that deepened my appreciation for Michelangelo and his incredible sculpture. These are things you may not know about Michelangelo’s David. Perhaps you will learn something new as well.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David title meme

Where is the David Statue?

David is located in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. Considered the most famous statue in Florence, and perhaps the world, this magnificent work of art was created between 1501 and 1504 by a young Michelangelo, who was about 26 years old when commissioned for the statue.

The museum features other works of art by Michelangelo and art by great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pontormo and Orcagna.

We spent a couple of hours in the museum, as part of a day in Florence. One could easily spend a whole day there, studying the exhibits.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David Andrea
Our amazing tour guide while in Florence, Andrea, which is a common male name in Italy. And that’s my gorgeous daughter in the foreground.

Things You Probably Do Know About Michelangelo’s David

First, the things you probably DO know about this famous statue.

David is a depiction of the Biblical David, who killed the giant Goliath with a slingshot and a stone. Goliath taunted the Hebrew army daily…think bullying to the extreme…and because of his size, no one wanted to fight him. Although David was a youth, he accepted Goliath’s challenge to fight, one on one. Foregoing armor and a sword, David instead relied on his faith in God to help him defeat Goliath.

David is presented in all his glory, meaning the statue is naked.

The marble statue is 17 feet, 6 1/2 inches tall and weighs more than 12,000 pounds.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David first view
My first glimpse of David in the museum.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo’s David

And now for the things you may not know. I love learning facts about well known places and things. The stories add interest and depth.

Commissioned to Decorate the Roofline of a Cathedral

David was originally commissioned to stand along the eastern roofline of the Florence Cathedral. Because of the impressive quality of work, David ended up instead in a public square, the Piazza della Signoria, where it was unveiled on September 8, 1504. To protect it from weather and vandalism, the statue eventually took up residence in the Accademia Gallery in 1873. A replica of David replaced the original in the piazza.

And in 2010 another David replica graced the cathedral roofline, carrying out the intention from hundreds of years ago.

Carved From a Single Block of “Rejected” Marble

Michelangelo carved his masterpiece from a single block of Carrara marble. Two other sculptures began work on the block. Both stopped due to the poor quality and brittleness of the marble. Additionally, the marble contained strong veins running through it while pinholes riddled the surface.

When Michelangelo began his sculpture, the block of marble had sat abandoned for 40 years.

It took 40 men four days to move the completed sculpture from Michelangelo’s studio to the piazza.

A Unique Portrayal of David

Michelangelo broke with tradition in his portrayal of David. Other sculptures created a triumphant David, holding aloft the head of the giant after the battle. Michelangelo chose to show David before the battle, vulnerable and trusting in his nudity, his gaze analyzing the situation. A sling rests over his left shoulder and his right hand grasps a rock, indicating David was a leftie.

Michelangelo based David’s pose on Hercules, a hero with strong connections to Florence. Hercules appeared on the Florentine seal for centuries.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David full statue
Things you may not know about Michelangelo’s David – his pose mimics Hercules

David’s Hands and Head are Disproportionately Large

People have wondered if Michelangelo made a mistake, creating David’s hands and head larger than they should have been. However, even at a young age, Michelangelo was not a beginner artist. David was not his first sculpture. Additionally, Michelangelo studied anatomy, dissecting dead bodies to learn how muscles, bones and tissues worked.

One theory is that the large hands are a nod to David’s nickname, manu fortis, which means “strong of hand”. Our tour guide Andrea suggested another possibility. Because David originally intended to stand high above the ground, on the roof of the cathedral, Michelangelo enlarged the hands and head so that when people looked up, the proportions appeared correct.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David hand
Things you may not know about Michelangelo’s David – the hands and head are intentionally large

David is Suffering From Stress Fractures

More than 8 million visitors a year walk through the gallery to view David. All that foot traffic creates vibrations that are causing stress fractures in the marble. Frequent inspections reveal where repairs and restorations are necessary.

Blushing Queen

Queen Victoria of England received a replica of the David statue as a gift, in 1857. Shocked by David’s nudity, she ordered a plaster fig leaf made, to cover his privates. Leaf in place, the statue went on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David profile
Things you may not know about Michelangelo’s David – he’s portrayed as a leftie

Court Case

Although David has been a Florence resident for more than 500 years, the Italian government recently asked courts to determine whether David belongs to the city…or to Italy. No decision has been made yet.

Appreciation for David

My tour group spent about 30 minutes with David, as Andrea spoke passionately about him. Seeing Michelangelo’s statue was definitely the highlight of our time in Florence.

I felt strong emotions, circling the incredible sculpture. I admit that my eyes filled with tears several times.

He truly is beautiful and the artist’s genius is evident. David’s muscles show Michelangelo’s familiarity with human anatomy. The rib cage shows definition. And David’s face is extraordinary. The eyes appear to gaze intently toward his challenger. A tiny furrow creases his brow, making him seem deep in thought. His body appears relaxed and confident and powerful.

Andrea shared that Michelangelo believed God gave him the gift of releasing figures from the marble. When asked how he created David, Michelangelo reportedly replied that he simply chipped away all the stone that was not David.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to see David and learn things I did not know about him. I hope you’ve learned new things about David as well!

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo's David in Florence
Our Florence selfie.

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