Event Review: Escape Zombie City

I’m offering a departure tonight from the Fall Hygge Challenge, because today I got to experience a first. I’ve heard of escape rooms but I’ve never participated in one before. Ten family members met at Escape Zombie City, located downtown at 106 S Joplin Avenue.

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Zombie Apocalypse

An escape room, also known as an escape game, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete objectives. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secrets hidden within the rooms. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as prison cells, dungeons, and space stations, and usually the various puzzles and riddles follow the theme of the room.

Tonight’s fun escape scenario involved zombies invading the city. The building we were in is a warehouse repurposed into a mock police station. So rather than escaping a single room, our task was to work our way through a 10,000 square foot building, divided into multiple rooms.

This is the story, as posted on the group’s Facebook page:

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Event Review Escape Zombie City

First room in the challenge. Photo from event Facebook page.

Zombie Escape

I don’t want to reveal any of the clues or the supplies that need to be found to escape the zombies. I will just say that we had so much fun as we worked out an escape. The storyline was well thought out and developed as we played, the props were wonderfully realistic and the clues challenging. We thoroughly enjoyed the edgy experience.

We screamed and ran in circles in the darkened rooms. Zombies were shot. Ultimately our group of ten came together, working well to solve clues and locate supplies. Laughter rang out as often as shrieks.

We didn’t escape. Time ran out. But we had such a great experience. Hours later we are still talking about how much fun Escape Zombie City was. The event runs weekends through the first week of November. It’s recommended for ages 12 and above.

Can you escape the zombies?

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Check out the event’s Facebook page

Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Today I came so close to skipping the hygge challenge activity. After an extremely long and full day, I stood staring at the covered dish that holds the slips of papers. I had not even drawn one out yet and my phone showed a time of 6:30 PM. I hesitated, feeling how weary I was.

My hesitation was warranted. I know what activities are within that dish. Some require more preparation and time to complete than others. This game teaches me trust, however. I stirred the folded papers, and drew out this activity:

Make a new soup recipe.

Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Finding a Soup Recipe

I was happy with the “random” selection. Although I felt it was too late to make up a pot of soup, finding a new recipe was very doable. Saturday is already full however by Sunday I could make time to cook.

I gathered several plant based cookbooks and thumbed through them while eating a simple veggie roll for dinner.

Soups are among my favorite meals and fall is the perfect season for creating big pots of soups, stews and chilis. Suddenly a recipe caught my attention. Chunky Red Lentil Stew had a relatively short list of ingredients and two wonderful spices: garam masala and curry.

I had found my soup recipe. And remarkably, the cookbook happened to be Vegan Pressure Cooking. Prep time – 10 minutes. Cook time – 6 minutes. I could do that. With a cup of hot lemongrass tea to fortify me, I made soup.

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

Here is the easy recipe:

2 cups + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon curry

1 tomato, cut into large chunks

1 cup dried red lentils

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt to taste

In uncovered pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable broth on high. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Stir in carrots, garam masala and curry and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add tomato, lentils and remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

Cover and bring to pressure. Cook for 6 minutes. Use quick release.

Remove lid and stir in lemon juice. Taste and add sea salt as needed.

Soup, it Does a Body Good

As the soup cooked in the pressure pot, I cleaned up the kitchen. The incredible aroma of garam masala and curry teased my nose and energized me. I am grateful that I did not let weariness keep me from today’s hygge activity.

Preparing and eating simple, nutritious food is foundational to the hygge lifestyle. And soup is such a warm, comforting and healing meal. Today fall appeared in the form of cool rainy weather, and I can’t think of a better way to practice coziness than preparing a pot of flavorful soup.

I only had a spoonful of the Red Lentil Stew, since it was quite late, however it tasted as wonderful as it smelled. A beautiful soup sits in the fridge, ready to reheat this weekend. Day 5 of the Fall Hygge Challenge turned out to be a rich blessing.

Day 5: Make a New Soup

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

After a full, fun day, I was grateful for the hygge activity I selected this morning. I drew this slip of paper:

Spend an hour coloring.

Coloring, especially for adults, was a hot trend a couple of years ago. I don’t hear as much about it currently, however, it is a meditative art form that I still enjoy. I brewed a cup of hibiscus tea, sliced up an apple and gathered supplies.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

A Coloring Book and Page Chooses Me

In keeping with the game I am playing, I picked up the first coloring book that I saw as I walked into my studio. Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Bradford, snagged my attention. Perfect. My word for 2019 is Enchanted.

Holding the book in both hands I opened to a page, randomly, and laughed. A variety of feathers filled the space. The feather quill is my symbol for this year.

What an accurate portrayal of where I am at this very moment…poised between two worlds. I inhabit that shifting space of overlapping energy as this year ticks down and the next year invites me in.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Spend an Hour Coloring

Tonight I took my task very literally. With my hot tea, apples and Crayola colored pencils arranged nearby, I glanced at the clock and began a countdown. I didn’t feel hurried. I knew I would not complete the coloring page in 60 minutes. That wasn’t the point of the activity.

The point was to lose myself in the gentle art of coloring. I enjoy selecting color combos and laying the color down on the page. Shading is something I’ve always done, even when I was a child with a box of waxy crayons. I build color up, and smooth it out, highlighting a section here, shading a bit there.

As I color, my heart rate slows, as does my breathing. My soul expands, my mind quiets and then ponders deeper mysteries.

Da 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Exchanging Time

My mind focused in on my choice of words, written on the slip of paper. Spend an hour coloring. Spend… Why did I choose that particular word, spend? Why not Color for an Hour? I almost changed the title of the post to the simplified version.

But my mind kept turning over the word spend. The word comes from the Latin expendere, which literally means pay out. I paid out an hour of my time this evening, an hour out of the 24 I was allotted today, in exchange for the simple and satisfying pleasure of coloring.

That realization gave me a fresh perspective. I’ll exchange more of my time, to explore and develop this line of thought. Tonight as I closed my coloring book, and took a deep breath, I declared this:

May I wisely spend the hours and days and months that I have, creating the life I most want to experience. My currency is precious. And it is limited in this life although my soul is boundless. Coloring was worth an hour of my time, in part because of the truths uncovered. May all that I pursue be counted as worthy.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

I confess that when I drew out a hygge activity this morning, I was hoping for a particular one. I already knew what I would do to carry out that action. And of course, I could have simply fished around in the dish and found the activity I was thinking of. But that’s not the way this game works.

I closed my eyes and drew this action;

Switch bedroom to fall décor.

That’s not the paper I had hoped for, however it was the perfect fall hygge activity for me today.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Clean Sweep

This afternoon, I began the task of removing the summery bedding and décor from my room. With my iPhone playlist on shuffle, I hummed along as I said goodbye to summer and a hearty welcome to fall.

In moments, I was thoroughly into the seasonal switch. With items cleared from surfaces, I could easily dust so the activity became about cleaning and tossing and gathering stuff for donation as much as redecorating.

I love how the energy in a room rises in connection with removing clutter and tidying up. Even though the fall colors in my bedroom are darker, the space felt lighter and brighter.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Fall Décor

I swapped out blues, greens, pinks and light yellows for reds, golds, rust and orange, with black accents. Beginning with the vintage suitcase, I reset vignettes and arranged fresh displays as I moved around the room.

Fall colors are my favorite. The rich vivid hues create warmth and a strong sense of coziness, which is what hygge is all about.

It’s too warm still for flannel sheets and blankets on the bed. However, I traded the lightweight summer quilt for a vintage coverlet that Greg’s grandmother made many years ago, and topped it with a quilt my younger daughter Adriel gifted to me 17 years ago. She made the quilt and matching pillow shams herself, with a little help from my mom. As I smoothed the quilt onto the bed I smiled as I thought about Adriel.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Next Change, Holiday Décor

Candles lit, I surveyed my finished work. It might be 93 degrees outside however in my bedroom it is fall. The temperatures outside will agree with this inner declaration soon enough.

The soft glow of candlelight revealed gleaming surfaces and favorite seasonal items. I recognized the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that welled up within as a sure signal that this activity was the right one for today.

My room is warm and inviting, peaceful and joyful, and it provides the ideal backdrop for restful slumber and lofty daydreams.

I realized too that the next reset that I do will involve holiday décor. How quickly this year has flown by. And how eagerly I anticipate the new year. Great things are in motion. The Dream Giver is calling to me, just around the river bend.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

An important aspect of hygge is being outdoors and enjoying nature. For every hygge challenge that I do, I make sure to include outdoor activities.

This morning I randomly selected this folded slip of paper:

Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Walking in Nature

I selected the river path, in Wildcat Park south of Joplin, as my destination late this afternoon. A stroll along the river, on this warm day, was inviting even if it wasn’t any cooler by the water. Hearing the gurgle of the river as I walked was soothing and grounding.

I carried a canvas bag, brought home from Edinburgh, Scotland, to collect treasures in. I was open to finding seeds, nuts, leaves, twigs, rocks and feathers.

Instead of bagging them, I collected treasures through my iPhone camera.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Collecting Treasures

In spite of the heat, there were hints of fall evident. Leaves littered the path, grasses waved their tassels, and acorn pieces were scattered in the grass. The squirrels were busy feasting and gathering.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures The river was one of my companions as I walked. Greg was the other.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Beauty abounded.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Wildflowers are still in bloom.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures These Canadian geese have not headed south yet.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures A golden afternoon.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe sunbathing turtle proved skittish, but this water snake continued to bask in the sun. He’s non poisonous.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe trees along the path were festooned with delicate webs. Fat brown spiders patiently waited.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThis huge old sycamore tree stood as a sentinel at the head of the path.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresMetal treasure.

Leaving Nature Where It Is

By the end of my nature walk I had placed two treasures in my canvas bag…a nut and a small odd piece of metal that was half buried in the ground. Greg pried it loose for me. I fancied the rectangle of metal and I convinced myself that I likely prevented someone from tripping over it.

Instead of carting items home, I chose to leave nature where it was, outdoors, so that others could appreciate its beauty. I have my photos.

Day 2 of the 7 day fall hygge challenge is finished. I am enriched by the stroll through nature and by the treasures I collected in my heart.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

In spite of warm muggy weather today that belies the fact that fall begins this weekend, I excitedly drew my first hygge activity to welcome in the new season.

For this game that I play, I randomly select a folded slip of paper from the container, and follow the directions. This morning I picked this action from the little ceramic nut dish.

Create a new fall vignette.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Starting Afresh

After retrieving my box of fall decorations, I selected the vintage wooden sieve on my dining room table as the focus of my reset. This old sieve is not a family heirloom. I purchased it five years ago at an antique store. However, I love this unique piece. It makes a great container to create vignettes within.

I cleared away the summer items from the table and the sieve, and opened to possibilities. My rules for creating fresh displays are simple: use what I already have on hand, try new combinations of items, and have fun.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Creating a Fall Vignette

Color sets the mood for each vignette. Gone were the blues and greens of summer. I brought in a richly hued table runner, and swapped out green plates for yellow ones. A gold cloth provides a backdrop within the sieve. Pumpkins surrounded by miniature wreaths rest beneath the wire cloches.

I knew I wanted to include the nut dish that belonged to my grandparents. This is the fun part, then. I try out various items as I create the vignette, studying combinations and effects. Digging through my fall storage box, I gathered several pieces and set them on the table.

I keep the display simple, using the “rule of three” to prevent overcrowding the space. As I shifted pieces in and out of the sieve, the vignette came together quickly.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Vignette Pieces

The mercury glass vase, which when twisted around, has a Christmas motif on the front, does fall duty here. Sprigs of autumn berries decorated with tiny rusty metal stars fill the vase. A footed enameled metal dish holds a small spice scented candle, encircled by wooden acorns.

A garland of red, orange and clear beads completes the interior of the sieve. Resting nearby is a rust colored votive holder, adorned with a wooden cut out leaf, and two more acorns. Light is a very important element in my vignettes. I always include at least one candle.

I’m happy with this vignette, the first acknowledgement of fall in my house, and the first hygge activity of the season. The cozy display makes me smile, and it reminds me that cooler weather is coming!

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Oklahoma Scotfest 2018

My Scottish blood got to sing today, and rejoice in the soulful sound of bagpipes, in neighboring Oklahoma. Greg and I joined my sisters, nieces, nephews and their children at the Oklahoma Scotfest 2018, in Broken Arrow.

OK Scotfest 2018

OK Scotfest

This annual event, which draws more than 25,000 participants, is a celebration of Celtic heritage, music and history. The festival features Scottish clans, set up in booths, athletic competitions, drum and pipe bands, Scottish and American food, and vendors selling a variety of Scottish wares. Traditional folk music as well as Scotrock is performed throughout the three days of the event, in stages set up in tents.

For the first time my Scottish clan, the Maitland Clan, set up a booth. My family and I had the pleasure of meeting another clan member, Annette. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know her.

OK Scotfest 2018

Photos from Scotfest

Here are highlights from the fun day:

OK Scotfest 2018The clan tartans on display.

OK Scotfest 2018Doing genealogy research, Greg has discovered a Scottish connection to the Buchanan Clan.

OK Scotfest 2018We enjoyed watching border collies compete to herd sheep. The dogs respond to whistled commands from their owners.

OK Scotfest 2018Look at these cuties! Weston and Lola arrived in kilts.

OK Scotfest 2018These handsome boys purchased their kilts at the event. Later Ethan and Kaleb wore their kilts to a Cub Scouts meeting and used the experience as a teaching opportunity to explain what a kilt is.

OK Scotfest 2018Athletes from around the world competed in Highland games.

OK Scotfest 2018Pipers and drummers preparing to perform. I absolutely love the sound of bagpipes.

OK Scotfest 2018The band Wicked Tinkers performs in the main tent.

Scotfest Opportunities

The festival provided wonderful opportunities to step into Scottish culture, in the middle of the US, and learn more about my heritage. It was especially fun to share the day with family and make new friends.

I loved the busy and rowdy atmosphere, the many colorful tartans on display, and the ever present wail of bagpipes. That sound stirs a deep response in my soul and calls to me. It is an invitation to return home, to Scotland.

Soon, I whisper. Soon.

OK Scotfest 2018

Fall Hygge List

This afternoon, I googled to see when fall begins. It’s September 22, in case anyone else wants to know. This year I have practiced a week of hygge activities, to welcome each new season. Thinking about the two weeks ahead, I wondered when I would have time to focus on the Danish custom of hygge, which is by definition a lifestyle that celebrates living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity and nurturing yourself and others with coziness.

The fact that I considered not welcoming fall with a week of hygge showed me just how much I need to slow down and nurture myself.

Fall Hygge List

Fall hygge list

Continuing the tradition that I began in the spring, I cut 16 strips of paper and wrote a fall appropriate hygge (pronounced hue•gah) activity on each one.

My list includes cozy inducing actions such as:

• create a fall themed front porch • choose a new book/author to read • create a cozy reading nook • go on a nature walk and collect treasures • make apple cider • wear a neck scarf all day • enjoy an outdoor fire with healthy snacks and a hot drink • plant bulbs in the garden • make a new fall soup or chili – plant based of course

Fall Hygge List

Fall Hygge List

 

Hygge randomness

Another tradition that I instigated with the summer season involves creating more than a week’s worth of activities. The slips of paper, 16 for fall, are folded and dropped into a container. Each day during Hygge Week I randomly select an activity and carry it out.

I enjoy this form of creative play. The Divine plays along with me and I always select the perfect action for the day, even if I initially think otherwise. This game grows my faith and my trust.

As I considered which container to use for these slips of paper, desiring something “fallish”, one popped into my mind. I dug the ceramic container out of the closet and smiled. The squirrel nut dish belonged to my maternal grandparents. Grandma kept mints, nuts or candies in the dish, and Pop continued that tradition after her death. After he too stepped into eternity, the dish came home with me.

The sassy little squirrel atop the walnut brings me joy. Looking at him I am reminded of my grandparents, who would surely approve of creating more coziness, simplicity and nurturing in my life.

The fall hygge list, cut into strips of paper, rests within the vintage covered dish. I’ll begin Fall Hygge Week on Monday and count down the days to autumn, which begins next Saturday. I’m grateful for hygge and that I am honoring my own tradition, especially when it feels like I am too busy to do so. It’s going to be a great week.

Fall Hygge List

55 Years Cradling Plants

I use a variety of interesting containers in my backyard garden. Along with standard clay flowerpots, I make use of metal buckets, wash tubs, tree stumps, and even a toolbox. One of my favorite containers is a green and white pot handed down to me from my mom. It has spent 55 years cradling plants.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Container for house plants

I’m not sure what the exact age is, of this vintage container. As a small child the southwestern style flowerpot sat in various corners of our Tulsa, Oklahoma home, and I am 60 now. My mom always grew a species of plant within it commonly known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. This tough house plant is easy to grow and thrives with little care.

First cultivated in China, the snake plant was treasured because people thought it bestowed eight virtues on those who grew it. Those virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health, and strength. The plants were kept near the front doors of the home so that the eight virtues could circulate throughout the house.

I wonder if Mom knew this? Our snake plant most often resided in the foyer.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Cherished flowerpot for my plants

When we moved, this flowerpot moved with us, to fresh houses and new towns in different states. Eventually the container came to me. Mom knew I would keep green beauties growing within it.

And I have.

I switched out the snake plants for colorful portulaca, also known as sun roses or moss roses. These plants are just as easy to grow and care for. For years the old pot sat on my covered front deck or rested solidly among flowers growing in beds around the house.

Five years ago, when I created my backyard paradise, I moved the container to the area just inside the garden gate. It lends color with its spill of blooms and it anchors the area, filled primarily with ground covers such as creeping jenny and phlox. It’s an anchor for my heart and soul as well. Every time I see the now vintage container, or water the plants tucked inside, I think of my mom and my childhood. This pot has stood as a silent witness to many events and changes. It is dear to me.

55 Years Cradling Plants The container’s most recent home. Photo taken before the ground cover filled in the area.

New location new plants

As I watered and pulled weeds this evening, I knelt down next to this vintage container and rested my hands upon it. The setting sun kissed the rounded sides, warming them and creating a soft reflective glow. Energy hummed beneath my hands.

Because of its age, I made the decision to relocate the flowerpot indoors this fall, where it will be protected from the cold weather. And just as suddenly, I knew what to transplant into the pot.

How appropriate it feels to grow snake plants in the container again, bringing the flowerpot full circle. Inspired by my research tonight, I’m delighted to plop my freshly planted container near the front door where, feng shui style, the eight virtues can be unleashed within my home. I’m smiling already, thinking of this change. My old container…55 years cradling plants…and counting.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Michelle’s Love Letter

Several years ago I came across a delightful organization. Its purpose is to contribute to the betterment of the world by sending out love letters to strangers. Instead of texts or emails the sender handwrites an old fashion letter and sends it to a person who collects the mail and delivers the bundle to the recipient.

The organization, More Love Letters, send out requests throughout the year. And they run a special campaign during the holiday season, mindful that it is a difficult time of year for many. Their solution for seasonal sadness? Offer more love.

Michelle’s Love Letter

Meet Michelle

I received an email from More Love Letters with a request for mail for a young girl named Michelle. My heart was touched, as it always is when a child is sad or hurting.

I happily wrote Michelle a note and drew hearts on the envelope that I then colored in. The thought came to me to use this post tonight to request more love letters for this dear soul.

Here is Michelle’s story, sent in by her sister:

“My little sister, Michelle, is eleven years old. She has been diagnosed with depression and separation anxiety, and is having a super rough time. My parents are getting divorced and they fight constantly in front of her. Michelle is doing poorly in school, has been antisocial lately, and she often has to take a side in conflicts. She doesn’t want to eat, go anywhere, or talk to me. She has also been making dark jokes lately–I think to try to make herself feel better about her situation.

I want Michelle to know she’s not alone, and there are many people whose parents separate or get divorced. I want her to know that it’s okay, and that she is still loved, and that this is not her fault.”

Let’s join Michelle’s sister in telling her that she is not alone, we’re right there with her!

Letters are welcome in English, French and Spanish!

Michelle’s Love Letter

Michelle’s Love Letter

Michelle’s Letter

I wrote an encouraging note to Michelle, telling her that she is amazing, thought of and loved. As I searched for a pen in my writing table drawer, I found a box of Sneaky Cards. These game cards are made to be passed on to someone else, who completes the task on the card and then passes it on to another person, and so on.

Inspiration struck and I selected a fun card to include with the note. I don’t know if Michelle likes to bake or make treats. However, this card drew me. I’m trusting that intuition and the Divine are guiding me.

Michelle’s Love Letter

More Love Letters

If you feel compassion for this child, and want to brighten her day, please join me in sending Michelle a love letter or note. It does not have to be a long letter nor do you have to offer advice.

Just let your heart dictate the words that your hand writes. Send her sincere encouragement, tell a short story, or simply mail a greeting card with your signature. Every letter arrives with love and good intentions and positive, life changing energy.

Send letters to:

Michelle’s bundle

℅ Denisse C.

8118 Albacore Drive

Apt 16

Houston, TX 77074

PLEASE HAVE ALL LETTERS IN THE MAIL BY SEPTEMBER 30, 2018

Make a difference in Michelle’s life. And check out More Love Letters and get on their notification list, if you would enjoy making a difference in the lives of others.

There are so many hurting people in the world. The world needs more love letters, and kind hearted writers to send them.

Michelle’s Love Letter