Movie Review: Outlaw King

The Scotsman Robert the Bruce, also known as the Outlaw King, began his reign in 1306 as a fugitive. This historical man is the subject of a new Netflix film, which released Friday on the network.

As one with Scottish ancestry, and a deep love for the country, I couldn’t wait to watch this biographical drama.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Outlaw King

Outlaw King stars Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Billy Howle, Tony Curran, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Josie O’Brien. David Mackenzie directed the film, which carries an R rating, for violence, language and brief nudity. Outlaw King has a run time of 2 hours and 1 minute.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Oppression and Civil Skirmishes

This story takes place immediately after William Wallace’s efforts to thwart the English by uniting the Scottish nobles against them. King Edward I (Dillane) of England seeks to control the Scots, and any desire to place a king of their own on the throne, by demanding taxation, pressing men into armed service, and creating alliances with nobility.

During this time of unrest and uncertainty, Wallace is killed by the English, inciting rage throughout Scotland.

Robert the Bruce (Pine), a descendant of Scotland’s King David, decides to challenge Edward I. First he eliminates a powerful rival for the throne, then he has himself declared king, becoming Robert I.

Robert the Bruce and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (Pugh) are inaugurated King and Queen of Scots at Scone on March 25, 1306.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fugitive King

The news immediately sends a ripple through Scotland and England. King Edward sends his son, Edward (Howle), Prince of Wales, to handle the upstart. Most of the Scottish nobility don’t recognize Bruce as king and fail to support him.

Robert the Bruce narrowly escapes capture when an English army attacks during the Battle of Methven. He sends his wife and daughter Marjorie (O’Brien) to safety while he becomes a fugitive. Not only is Robert trying to establish an independent Scotland, he’s also facing a civil war.

Surrounded by a small group of men led by his friend Angus Macdonald (Curran) and wild man James Douglas (Taylor-Johnson), the outlaw king strategizes. As they seek to draw more men to their side, for the battles that will come, the group seizes one castle after another. The Bruce makes the decision that every castle he takes is to be destroyed because for King Edward to win Scotland, he must garrison Scotland. And he can’t do that unless he has castles to seize.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fight With Me

As more of Scotland’s people rally to the new king, England’s Prince of Wales closes in. King Edward I dies en route to battle the usurper. His son, whom many see as a weaker man, assumes leadership of the troops.

Robert I uses ingenious tactics to overthrow the superior military force that approaches. He arms hundreds of men with 20-foot-long spears that they hold, straight out in front of them. And he takes advantage of the boggy, marshy land that will become the battlefield. The Bruce deliberately chooses an area where the strength of the English troops can’t be brought into play. The English are knights in armor on horses, and the Scots are men on foot. They lead the unsuspecting English into the mire of the marshes where they become trapped.

Robert’s first victory as king comes in that place, on May 1307, at what is known as the Battle of Loudoun Hill.

Movie Review Outlaw King

My Thoughts on Outlaw King

I appreciate the attention to detail and the authenticity in this gritty action packed film. Fact checking is one of the things I do with historical movies and this one is extremely accurate in the telling of Bruce’s story.

I watched the unfolding of Outlaw King with teary eyes. This was a difficult time in Scotland’s history. Robert the Bruce sacrificed much to keep his country independent. The Scottish people suffered. As the English searched for the fugitive king, they ransacked and burned villages as they went, killing the men, sending the women and children to England.

Bruce’s wife and daughter were taken captive as well and sent out of the country. Fortunately they were recovered, unharmed, later. The King and Queen of Scotland raised a family together. Their descendant, James VI, later became king over both Scotland and England.

Movie Review Outlaw KingThe actor portraying James Douglas, who would become known as Black Douglas.

My Gratitudes

It’s easy to come up with five gratitudes, in connection with Outlaw King.

I’m grateful for this movie, which is in my favorite genre, historical drama. I especially appreciate its accuracy. My Scottish blood thrills to the fierceness of the people, and their desire to live in freedom. My own fierce independence is surely a result of my Scottish ancestry. And finally, seeing the mountains and rivers and lochs of Scotland pierces my heart and creates such a desire to “go home”.

Outlaw King drew from me hearty cheers for battles won, and a sigh of longing for Scotland. I’ll be there again soon. And when I next stand on Scottish soil I will pause to express gratitude for Robert the Bruce, who did so much to unite this beautiful country.

Movie Review Outlaw King

The Art of Snuggling

This cold day, with hints of winter’s impending arrival, encouraged me greatly to stay indoors. Not only did I spend the majority of my time in my creative studio, I practiced the art of coziness, the fine art of snuggling. What I love about practicing gratitude is that I can be aware of what I am thankful for, no matter where I am and what I am doing.

The Art of Snuggling

Snuggling Myself

Although snuggling would seem to imply it is not a solitary experience, I see it as a form of self care. The word can mean “cuddle up”, however, its primary definition is “to settle or move into a warm, comfortable position, protected from the cold.” Originally, the word was a nautical term used for preparing for bad weather. Even though I spent the entire day in my studio, except for a brief excursion into the garden, I did indeed practice snuggling and protecting myself from the cold.

Star Trek Short – Calypso

While I alternated back and forth today, between real estate work and blogging tasks, I paused and snuggled in to watch a Star Trek related short on my computer. I am a life time Trekkie, and I appreciate all things connected to this franchise. The new Star Trek Discovery series, streaming on CBS All Access, is marvelously good. Since the new season doesn’t begin until January 2019, the writers and creators are keeping us in anticipation by offering a monthly Short Trek. With a run time of about 20 minutes, they are easy to watch and oh…so…good.

The second short released last night. Titled Calypso, the story is set 1000 years into the future. An injured man, who calls himself Craft, is picked up in his damaged ship and transported aboard the Discovery. He wakes up in sickbay, alone on the ship. The crew left a millennia ago and never returned. Eager to find his way home, after fighting in a war for a decade, Craft nonetheless gets to know the ship’s AI, Zora.

Stay With Me

She is nothing like other artificial intelligences, that evolve and become a menace. Left alone for so many years, she has become self aware, humorous, kind and eager to please. She has also discovered what it means to be lonely. Zora is delighted to have a companion on board Discovery. She charms her guest with foods such as waffles, and a Taco Tuesday meal, even though Craft doesn’t know what a taco or a Tuesday is.

Zora shares her favorite thing in all the universe with her new friend…a 1957 film Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Craft and Zora discover they can share a dance together…and perhaps even share feelings.

In Greek mythology, Calypso lived on the island of Ogygia, and kept Odysseus there for seven years, to ease her loneliness. There are definitely Calypso elements in this short. Overall, it surprised with its depth of emotion, from lighthearted and funny to sweet and poignant. Calypso represents why I am so grateful for this boundary breaking sci-fi show.  I can’t wait for the next two shorts…and the return of Discovery.

The Art of Snuggling

Heading Off a Cold

There is more than one way to ward of the cold. I awoke this morning feeling a bit sniffly, a bit congested in the chest. When I don’t feel my best, I’ve learned exactly what to do. I shift into the deepest of self care modes.

My first line of defense, against a sniffle or an out and out cold, is to up my supplements. I added an extra dose of elderberry sugar free syrup, took a big spoonful of raw organic honey and added more ester C, a powerful form of the vitamin. Read about how these supplements support the immune system HERE. I’m grateful that I am aware of how my body works, and how to best support it when I need a little extra care.

Art of Snuggling

A Pot of Tea

My next line of defense against a cold is to brew not a cup of tea, but a pot of herbal goodness. I added two teaspoons of fennel seed, two teaspoons of lemon balm and two teaspoons of nettle to a large mesh tea ball, and steeped the tea for 15 minutes.

My tea cup was never empty, as it sat within reach on my writing table. That combination of herbs is particularly potent in dealing with allergies or the onset of a cold. Nettle is my go to remedy for the sniffles or a scratchy throat and it works every time. After a day of sipping on hot tea, I feel so much better. The sniffles are gone and so is the congestion in my chest. I’m thankful for nature’s bounty and its healing properties. I feel snuggled and cared for.

Art of Snuggling

Bringing the Outdoors In

With temperatures dipping into the teens tonight, I am not the only one in need of snuggling. I stopped working long enough, during the warmest part of the day, to bring in several plants that would not survive the night’s frosty bite.

Most of my annuals will show the effects of the cold tomorrow, signaling the end of the growing season. However, I moved a leggy houseplant in from the front porch, relocating it to the living room. My cat Rilynn sat and studied it for a long time, working out I suppose why I brought this plant inside. Also moving in from the front deck is a jasmine plant in a large ceramic container.

In the backyard garden, I deconstructed my Fairy Garden, with a bit of sadness, moving the resin pieces indoors and transplanting the miniature spruce tree into a container. The little tree, the jasmine plant and a copper pitcher housing an oregano plant all now occupy my creative studio. I’ve turned to look at the little arrangement several times, lured by the faint scent of oregano and spruce. I have to admit, I’ve smiled every time I look at those plants. My fairy garden pieces are grouped in a new way with these growing living reminders of summer. That corner of my studio feels very cozy and inviting. I will be extremely thankful for these lovely additions in the deep of winter.

Art of Snuggling

Snuggling Buddy

To remind me of the advantages of snuggling together, two of my three cats joined me in the studio, taking turns curling up on my lap. Cats are famous for seeking out the warmest place in a home, and making it their napping spot.

The cold today has kept the felines indoors as well. They snuggled on beds and draped themselves over heater vents and found brief patches of sunshine streaming in this afternoon. Although they make it more difficult to type…insisting on having their ears scratched while I work…their unconditional love and snuggles are welcomed.

I am finally about to leave my studio, after hours and hours creating and working and learning within it. There is a Netflix movie tonight, about Scotland’s Robert the Bruce calling my name. It’s time to take snuggling up a notch and cuddle up in bed with a cat or two…and immerse myself in Scotland’s colorful history.

Art of Snuggling

An Enchanted World

I currently dwell in that overlapping space created by the remaining weeks of 2018…and the alluring possibilities of 2019. It’s an enchanted world, which serendipitously, aligns perfectly with my new word for next year. Most of my gratitudes today flowed from this sense of enchantment.

An Enchanted World

An Enchanted World

I’m grateful for memories that pop up on Facebook. A quote from Thomas Moore appeared, one that I saved several years ago. Moore’s book, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, is the source of the words and a must read as I enter the new year. I was charmed by the book when I first read it, long before I knew that “enchanted” would be my word for 2019.

The queen chess piece, next’s year symbol, has appeared daily since I received that image. However, the words “enchanted” or “enchantment” have appeared less frequently, albeit often enough to capture my attention and warm my heart with anticipation. Seeing Thomas Moore’s beautiful words set the tone for the day, and promised so much for the months ahead.

An Enchanted World

Creating a Mood Board

One of my assignments in a 30 day blog challenge is to create a mood board on Pinterest. The purpose is to select images and colors that draw me and inspire me, and connect to my desires for the blog. I have two blogs, so I started with this one, pinning photos to a private board that I named Mood Board for Cindy Goes Beyond.

As I thought about what Going Beyond means to me, and what I want to offer to others, I realized I was drawn to the colors turquoise, green and blue. Suddenly vintage Volkswagen vans began popping up in my searches. I love the idea of creating a new logo featuring a vintage…think hippie…VW van. That imagery works for me on so many levels!

An Enchanted World

Living Life Beyond the Edges

I’m grateful for the exercise and I’ll be developing this idea further. For now, I played around with the colors and concept, using Canva to try out various fonts with VW vans.

The van represents adventure to me, going beyond my boundaries, exploring the world, and freedom. I’m excited to see where this simple exercise ultimately leads me.

An Enchanted World

Cranberry Vanilla Tea

I carried a mug of hot tea into the creative studio, to sip on as I completed computer work. I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but a display at Natural Grocers appealed to me on this cold, overcast day. I couldn’t resist purchasing a holiday blend tea.

Creating my own enchanted world means I bring in the magical elements that are crucial for me. Hot herbal tea is my drink of choice, and one I indulge in every afternoon. The cranberry vanilla tea was delicious, fragrant and the perfect antidote to a gray day.

An Enchanted World

Do You Like What You See?

As I “woke up” my laptop, Microsoft randomly selected a background photo for the screen’s wallpaper. I was immediately transported back to Italy, as an image of Venice appeared.

How perfect. I’m thinking today about creating, living in and engaging with an enchanted world…and Venice appears, with its gorgeous canals and bridges. This city has to be one of the most enchanted places in the world.

Across the top of my computer screen, the words appeared: Like what you see?

Tears filled my eyes and I got goosebumps. The Divine might as well have posed the question, and may indeed have done so.

Yes…yes I like what I see, and not just the lovely photo on my screen. I like what I see in this enchanted world, and I love this big, bold, enchanted life.

“Starting from the premise that we can no longer afford to live in a disenchanted world, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life shows that a profound, enchanted engagement with life is not a childish thing to be put away with adulthood, but a necessity for one’s personal and collective survival.”

It’s necessary for my survival. Bring on the enchantment.

An Enchanted World

Order Thomas Moore’s book below. And enjoy it with a cup of hot Cranberry Vanilla tea!

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Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

I’m taking a slight departure from the 5 Daily Gratitudes. Today I’m at last sharing the movie review for Bohemian Rhapsody, the musical biopic of Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury. I’ll combine all five of today’s gratitudes with appreciation for this film.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

This film stars Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Tom Hollander and Mike Myers. Directed by Byran Singer initially and later by Dexter Fletcher, Bohemian Rhapsody carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes and language. It has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

From Smile to Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody is based on the true story of the rise of the legendary musical group Queen. Initially called Smile, the band has just lost its lead vocalist when a young unknown singer, with the self-given name of Freddie Mercury (Malek), boldly asks to step in as the replacement. The other band members, Brian May (Lee), Roger Taylor (Hardy) and John Deacon (Mazzello), reluctantly agree to let Freddie join the group.

It’s a good decision. Freddie’s gifted voice, high energy dance moves on stage and unwavering sense of self, launches the band onto the road of success. Freddie’s girlfriend at the time, Mary Austin (Boynton), encourages him to find his own sense of style, which he does, outlandishly.

“I love the way you move on stage. The whole room belongs to you. Don’t you see what you can be?” Mary Austin

As they rise in popularity, the band changes their name to Queen, at Freddie’s insistence. They acquire a team of managers, a label deal overseen by Ray Foster (Myers) and a legal advisor, Jim Beach (Hollander), who later assumes the role of sole manager.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

Meteoric Rise

Freddie shatters stereotypes as the band gains an extraordinary following. With his showmanship and ability to connect with audiences, and the group’s unconventional and revolutionary sound and lyrics, Queen garners recognition and incredible success. Feeling the need to continually create fresh songs and sounds, the band presents the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” to Foster, eager to release it as a single from their newest album, A Night at the Opera. The six minute long song, with its mix of hard rock, ballad and opera, is deemed too strange and too long by Foster.

The band decides to go out on their own and promote their song…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Live Aid Concert

At the height of their rise to stardom, influenced by people with darker motives,  Freddie strikes out on his own for a time. But in trying to launch a solo career, he suffers greatly.  Cut off from the band members he considers family, and from Mary, whom he declares is the love of his life, Freddie flounders. He becomes caught in a cycle of drugs, alcohol and outrageous parties that last for days. Ultimately, Freddie returns to Queen and to the friendship with Mary, who has been his anchor throughout his adult life.

The band reunites in time to perform at the Live Aid Concert in July of 1985. Even though he has just received an AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads Queen onto the stage and through one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.

Movie Review Bohemian RhapsodyRami Malek as Freddie on the left, and Freddie at the real Live Aid Concert, on the right.

My Thoughts on Bohemian Rhapsody

I’ve appreciated the band Queen since my late teens. I have not really understood why, other than I loved their quirky lyrics on some of their songs. They performed a wide range of music, however, from songs with operatic overtones to classic rock to ballads. I’ve turned to their songs over and over again, during my life, and thrilled to movie soundtracks that included “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. When I learned there would be a movie depicting Freddie Mercury and Queen, I was excited.

And I was not disappointed. It’s fun to see how the band came together and hear the beginnings of songs that later inspired the whole world. Those “behind the curtain” type of scenes made me smile.

One of the taglines of the film, however, is what drew me.

“The only thing more extraordinary then their music, is his story. The music you know, the story you don’t.”

Learning about Freddie’s story, I finally discovered why I have always been drawn to Queen.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

A Bohemian’s Story

I was inspired by Freddie’s story. Yes, there are dark bits, and sad parts, and his crazy, over the top antics….and there is brilliance, and that powerful sense of self, and his desire to make people, especially people who live on the edges, feel connected. Freddie defied labels. If he called himself anything, it was a misfit. And he wanted other misfits to feel that they belonged to him, to Queen. He had a marvelous way of bringing people together and creating a family.

Becoming Freddie

Rami Malek brings Freddie back to life in amazing ways. He wore a mouth piece, to duplicate Freddie’s endearing overbite. And his singing voice, through the power of technology, was merged with Freddie’s and Canadian singer Marc Martel, whose voice is very similar to Mercury’s. Rami had a movement coach who helped him to duplicate every nuance of Freddie’s mannerisms. All that work shows. Rami becomes Freddie.

The man who shows us who Freddie was, has a wonderful quote that sums up what inspires me about the Queen lead singer.

“Freddie was a revolutionary. He was a defiant human being who refused to be segregated and marginalized in any way. You couldn’t put a label on him and what he wanted to do is live his most authentic self. And I think that’s what he preached with his music, and his relationship with his audience…to be exactly what you want to be. I hope people can sing as loudly as Freddie did and own every truth of theirs, and not feel like they have to hide anything…and to enjoy exactly who they were meant to be.”  Rami Malek

Yes, those words, that’s it. He shone brightly, Freddie Mercury did, and for too brief of a time. I wished I’d known more about him while he lived.

And so my gratitudes today are these: I am grateful for movies like Bohemian Rhapsody that give me a deeper glimpse into an extraordinary life. My appreciation for Freddie Mercury has expanded. I’m thankful for his music, for his life and most of all, for his desire to be who he knew he was created to be. He offered himself to the world through his music. And my bohemian spirit connects with this man, this self proclaimed misfit, and joins his rhapsody, his enthusiastic, ecstatic expression of being.

Movie Review Bohemian Rhapsody

 

 

 

Beautiful Gratitudes

It’s been a full day. Beautiful gratitudes swirled around me as I moved from privilege to task to tea time to a special Girls’ Night with my mom and sister. Take a peek.

Beautiful Gratitudes

The Privilege of Voting

After my discussion with my grandson yesterday, I was ready to vote this morning. Rather than seeing my participation as a duty or an obligation, I felt gratitude for the privilege of making choices.

Others appeared to feel the same way. The lines were long at the voting place and yet people were cheerful and patient. I was happy to add a selfie to my grandson’s Facebook post, letting him know, “I voted!”

Beautiful Gratitudes

Create a Video

One of my blog related tasks today was to create a promotional video to add to one of my social media pages. I write two blogs. This video was for Journey With Healthy Me. Using an app called Videoshop, I put together a short video featuring 14 supplements for general health and wellbeing, as recommended by Anthony William in his new book Liver Rescue.

Technology can be a challenge for me. However, one of my character traits is determination. When that determination is coupled with the strong desire to succeed, I most often do. I’m thankful for fun technology and that I am a continual learner. In a short time I had a cool visual aid.

Check it out HERE.

Beautiful Gratitudes

Thai Welcome Tea

The beautiful gratitudes continued, as afternoon teatime approached. My niece Ashley recently gave me a package of dried Butterfly Pea Flowers. When brewed, the flowers create a dark blue tea. I did research as water boiled, and discovered that in Thailand honey and lemon juice are added to create Thai Welcome Tea. Adding lemon or lime juice causes the liquid to change colors. Intrigued, I made the Welcome Tea.

I poured boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried butterfly pea flowers and covered the mug, allowing the tea to steep for 10 minutes. The water immediately turned cobalt blue. After removing the blossoms, I carefully sipped the hot tea. The earthy flavor is similar to high quality green tea. I stirred in a tablespoon of raw organic honey, with no detectable change in color. However, when I squeezed in a few drops of fresh lemon juice, the color shifted to a rich purple.

I appreciate the gift from my niece and the gorgeous and tasty drink. Read more about Thai Welcome Tea, including its health benefits.

Beautiful Gratitudes

Salad Supper

My sister Linda volunteered to prepare a healthy dinner tonight, at our mom’s house. Of course I said yes!

She combined an assortment of chopped veggies and apples in big bowls, and placed containers of avocado, cucumber, cilantro, black beans, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, salsa, and non-GMO tortilla chips on the dining table. I brought my own salad dressing that I had made at home, and Mom stirred up her own blend. Our stepdad joined us for a satisfying feast. We added additional toppings from the choices on the table while we discussed food and being the healthiest versions of ourselves.

I’m grateful for my sister who blessed us with this great meal.

Beautiful Gratitudes

Girls’ Chat Births a Book Club

After our delicious meal, my stepdad left us girls so we could chat. We covered a wide range of topics, although our conversations primarily centered around family and health. All three of us purchased Liver Rescue, by Anthony William, a truly life changing book about detoxifying and healing the liver and the body.

We’ve decided to get together once a week…perhaps we can take turns providing healthy meals…and discuss the book as we read though it. I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to learn together and support each other on our healing journeys.

Family and wellbeing are two of my most beautiful gratitudes. I love when blessings flow and when they overlap!

Beautiful Gratitudes

Order your copy of Liver Rescue below.

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The Blessings of Grandchildren

Today’s gratitude centered primarily around my grandkids. Other Yayas, Nanas, Mimis and Papas will immediately understand how rich and precious are the blessings of grandchildren. We grandparents store these memories up and treasure them.

Three of my grandchildren were out of school today, providing an opportunity to hang out on this cool and rainy fall day. And I spent a short time with my oldest grandson this morning, before he heads back to the university tomorrow. To the other grandson, who was not out of school, I sent a text this evening, to set up a time to connect. He responded promptly with a sweet reply.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Discussing Politics

For many people, politics is not a popular topic to discuss right now. However, my college aged grandson loves world and current events, international cultures, geography, and all things political. In our brief time together, we had a wonderful conversation about what’s on the ballot tomorrow.

There weren’t any arguments between us or defensiveness. I enjoyed an informative back and forth conversation and gained insights from Dayan’s perspectives. My gratitude for my grandson and his knowledge and political passion continues to deepen. And I am ready to vote tomorrow in this crucial midterm election.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Together We Build

Joey, Oliver and Aubrey are fun to spend a day with. They are close enough in age to connect well and relate well to each other, and at the same time they’re utterly unique individuals. The weather encouraged us to stay snug inside. I enjoyed lively conversations, humorous stories and watching the three of them create in the game Minecraft.

The split screen allows each child to monitor their own progress and also interact with each other. I’m impressed by their building skills. And I’m grateful for the way these kids form a family unit that is grounded in love. Sure, they bicker occasionally, as siblings do. But they have each other’s backs, in virtual realities and in real life.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Spoons Card Game

After Minecraft and game controllers, the kids opted for a good old fashioned card game. I’ve never played Spoons before and my grandchildren were excellent teachers. It’s not a reflection on them at all, that I lost!

Spoons, also known as Pig or Tongue, is a fast-paced game of matching. It is played with an ordinary pack of playing cards and several kitchen spoons or other objects. We used plastic knives.

The game is played in multiple rounds, and each player’s objective is to grab a spoon. No spoon may be grabbed until one player has collected four of a kind, but once the first player to get a four of a kind grabs a spoon, all players may immediately reach out to attempt to grab one. No player may grab more than one spoon at a time.

As in the game musical chairs, there is always one less spoon than there are players, so one player will always be left without a spoon. Depending on the variety of game being played, that player either loses the game and is eliminated, or continues playing but loses a point. When two players are left and one person gets four of a kind, it doesn’t matter who gets the spoon. At that point, whoever gets it the fastest wins.

This was a fun game, easy to learn and yet challenging to quickly get four of a kind as cards are rapidly passed around to the players, and no one knows what set of four the others are trying to collect. I appreciate the kids alternating between their video games (are they even called that anymore?) and group games we could all participate in.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Who Wants to Make a Logo?

At one point in the afternoon, all four of us were on our phones, sharing photos and info. I introduced the kids to the Canva App, and let them study the logos and graphics I’d made. In a short time they each had Canva downloaded on his or her phone.

We had fun discussing ideas and playing creatively. In a few minutes the kids had mastered techniques that took me multiple sessions to get the hang of. Oh, the power of a young brain! I’m grateful for their sharp minds and also their artistic abilities.

I love their eagerness to try new creative projects. Joey put together a Kansas City Chiefs meme, complete with a short poem he wrote. Oliver, whose nickname is Bear, created a bear themed wallpaper that he edited with special effects. He added his completed project to his phone, as a background graphic. And Aubrey texted her finished work to me as I drove home. She came up with a darling logo.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Thrive, the Art of Entertaining

This last gratitude has nothing to do with grandchildren. I received a magazine in the mail that I paused to thumb through, after I arrived home this evening.

Thrive is a plant based magazine, full of recipes, articles and gorgeous photos. The Nov/Dec issue features The Art of Entertaining. There are ideas for the holidays and gatherings and sumptuous meals. I’ll read through every page soon, however this evening it was wonderful to preview the magazine with a quick scan. I’m grateful for publications that focus on health and wellness without sacrificing beauty.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

These kids, these smart, funny, clever, creative blessings called grandchildren, certainly brightened my day and enlarged the boundaries of my mind and heart. I treasure each one. I value each child and look forward to seeing all that they accomplish in their lives.

The blessings of grandchildren are as varied as the kids are, as endless as their possibilities, and as beautiful as their soulful eyes. I am richly blessed indeed. And I am honored to be their Yaya.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

Sunday’s are self care days, special times set apart for focusing inward and on things that bring me joy. Occasionally I work on a Sunday afternoon or at the least do a bit of real estate online. And I always write on this day, no matter what else I do to care for my body, emotions, and spirit.

Today was no different, except that I was very mindful of blessings throughout the day. Because a definite food theme came together, I thought of the day’s gratitudes as a smorgasbord of blessings, with so many delightful choices. And then suddenly, an invitation threw in a bit of rhapsody.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

Aloe Vera

The first gratitude arrived as I stepped through the doors of Joplin’s Natural Grocers. I love this health conscious store. The aroma of fresh herbs and produce greets me and makes me so thankful that I have this shopping option in my city.

I selected an aloe vera leaf and dropped it into my cart. Check out the health benefits and then you too can appreciate why it is a blessing that Natural Grocers carries these huge leaves. I can’t find them anywhere else in town. A two inch section of fresh aloe vera gel goes into my fruit smoothies each morning.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

Milk Thistle Display

The next gratitude in my smorgasbord of blessings occurred before I got out of the store. I’m reading Liver Rescue by Anthony William. Greg noticed an end cap display featuring the supplement Milk Thistle. This herb benefits the liver by expelling old red blood cells and detoxifying toxins and debris from the hepatic veins.

It makes me smile and feel gratitude to see this healthy grocery store in sync with what I am learning. Plus they have Milk Thistle, in capsules and tinctures, on sale.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

Comfort Food, Healthy Style

Continuing an emphasis on a plant based lifestyle today, and self care, Sunday lunch featured one of my favorite meals, Broccoli & Peas Macaroni Bake. This easy to prepare one pan meal pairs the satisfaction of a comforting meal with the health boosting nutrition of veggies and gluten free pasta in a yummy cashew based sauce. Find the recipe HERE.

I am truly thankful for healthy pasta options. I buy the Natural Grocers house brand of brown rice macaroni. It cooks up just like regular pasta and tastes the same. And I don’t suffer ill effects from gluten.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

A New Dark Chocolate Bar

No smorgasbord, blessings or buffet, is complete without a bit of dessert. I don’t indulge in traditional desserts, preferring healthy versions without the refined sugar, eggs and dairy products. I do, however, occasionally enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate.

As we headed to the check out, I spied a new-to-me line of dark chocolate bars, with a twist of unusual flavor combinations. I chose a dark chocolate with blackberry and sage to sample. The Endangered Species Chocolate Company has this mission statement on their website:

“10% of our net profits are donated annually to current 10% GiveBack Partners;  each is guaranteed a minimum annual donation of $10,000 and is free to use the funds on projects they deem most important. With over $1.3 million generated in the past three years alone, each chocolate purchase adds up to big support that helps wildlife thrive.”

I am thankful that my purchase of a treat supports endangered species and other organizations that help wildlife and the planet. For afternoon tea I ate a few small squares of the dark chocolate and sipped on an herbal tea from Yogi. The treat was pure bliss.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

Bohemian Rhapsody

Lest I get into a rut today, an invitation came this afternoon from my grandson Dayan, who is home from the university this weekend. The film Bohemian Rhapsody released in theaters Friday and Dayan invited me to join his mom and him for an evening viewing.

I am a big Queen fan, having appreciated their incredible music since my late teens. I’ve been excited about this upcoming movie that tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the formation of the band that would shatter stereotypes and expand musical boundaries. I’ll post a review of the film tomorrow.

Tonight I am grateful for Freddie’s willingness to unwaveringly be who he was, and to offer to the world the gifts he was uniquely created to give. He inspires me and I am still experiencing a range of emotions from the movie.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

What a delightful day, this smorgasbord of blessings. Gratitude flowed for a place to purchase healthy food and supplements, great comfort food and a surprising flavor combo in a treat, and the power of a musical film experienced with my grandson and daughter.

Blessings abound, but they don’t pile up. They flow…to me…through me…and beyond.

A Smorgasbord of Blessings

The Colors of Autumn

This was a perfect fall day, cool without being cold, breezy with a promise of rain cloyingly in the air. And everywhere, the colors of autumn awakened the senses.

It’s easy, on such a glorious day, to find much to be grateful for.

The Colors of Autumn

Anthony William Live

I just happened to be on Facebook when my health mentor popped up with a brief live video. Anthony spoke, with enthusiasm, about several foods that are extremely beneficial for liver health. Among those was dragon fruit, also known as pitaya.

My interest was piqued because I’ve felt drawn to purchase dragon fruit and try it for the first time. Now I know why! I noticed the fruit in the produce section at Walmart recently. I’m looking forward to trying it by creating a dragon fruit smoothie. The fruit’s deep magenta color certainly fits in with the colors of autumn.

The Colors of Autumn

Restoring What Was Broken

I have a mug that I use often for brewing tea. A mesh infusion basket holds loose dried or fresh herbs and fits within the mug. The ceramic lid caps the mug so the tea can steep properly.

Back in May I tried unsuccessfully to find the same mug for my mom. The kitchen store I purchased mine from had closed. I could not locate a similar mug anywhere, at that time, and bought a different type for Mom.

Every time I use the mug I mutter that I hope I never break it, as it seems irreplaceable. The inevitable happened. I dropped the lid and it broke into two pieces.

Rather than tossing the broken lid, Greg glued it back together for me, using a non-super glue type of Gorilla brand adhesive. I’m so grateful! And beyond that, he found a similar mug online, when I could not last spring. I’ll be ordering a “just in case” replacement!

The Colors of Autumn

Bloggers Helping Bloggers

I’m very thankful for a new Facebook group I joined. Founded by Sasha Cristina, her intention is to encourage other bloggers who self host on WordPress.

If you have a blog, or you are thinking of starting one, check out Sasha’s FREE 30 Day Hustler’s WordPress Challenge, on Eat, Travel, Hustle. I’m on Day 3 and even though I’ve been blogging for five years, this info is helping me take my blogs to a higher level.

The Colors of Autumn

All the Colors of Autumn

After spending several hours on the computer this afternoon, I surrendered myself to the outdoors. The grey clouds piling up provided a neutral backdrop for the brilliant foliage and tall, waving grasses.

Greg accompanied me. We chose to walk in the neighborhood. Recently work was completed in this area, after months of labor, resulting in new sidewalks and curbs, and the resurfacing of the streets. Finally, the neighborhood is looking finished, after the tornado of 2011. It won’t ever look the same…that old neighborhood is gone. However, it looks inviting with blocks of new houses, young trees and signs of life and activity.

I’m grateful that the twigs planted seven years ago are maturing into trees and that children laughed and played in yards today. And I appreciate that I can walk the neighborhood again without concern about stumbling over broken, uneven sidewalks.

The Colors of Autumn

Wearing the Colors of Autumn

The cooler weather invited me to don a hoodie. I love the colors of autumn and I love jeans and boots, hoodies and layering on clothes. Fashion wise, this is my favorite season. Perhaps because of my hygge tendencies, being cozy is so centering to me.

Today, in honor of the season, I wore an orange hoodie that my friend Cate gave me a couple of years ago. She gifted it to me because Journey was my word for that year.

Wearing the hoodie brought back memories of my dear friend, who has since moved away, and appreciation for how far I have journeyed in the last two years. I am deeply grateful for Cate and my progress.

As the rain moves in, I am snuggled beneath a blanket. The wind is scattering the colors of autumn as the leaves let go of branches and dance wildly.

“Autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen.”

The Colors of Autumn

Counting My Blessings: 5 Daily Gratitudes

Working in my creative studio today, appreciating the sunlight streaming in and my little gratitude pumpkin, I realized I was counting my blessings, literally. November brings with it Thanksgiving, a holiday grounded in being grateful. I’m inspired this month to practice intentional gratitude, in a new way.

In the past I’ve kept a blessing journal, writing down five or ten things daily that I’m grateful for. If you’re never kept a gratitude journal, it’s harder than you think to come up with new lists of blessings each day.

This year I choose to use the blog to chronicle five blessings a day, five things I am thankful for, and capture them by way of photos and a few words.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5 Daily Gratitudes

This exercise raises my awareness of the many blessings in my life. When I keep a journal, I may write down things I’m thankful for that are unconnected to the day I just experienced. Mountains may go on the list, or Scotland, or walking in nature.

The difference this year is that I’m taking a photo of each person, thing, place or experience that I’m thankful for. These will be real time blessings, encountered throughout my day. Such a game keeps me mindful, engaged, in the flow and open to receive, since I can’t plan every blessing in advance.

Today’s blessings:

1. Appreciation for My Creative Studio

I recently cleared this room of clutter, again, and added inspiring items to keep me motivated and moving forward toward my dreams. I’m dearly loving this space, and spending a great deal of time in this pretty little room. In the afternoon sunlight filters in through the six windows, enchanting me and reminding me to take a break and have tea time.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

2. Hibiscus Lemonade

I made this healthy, easy to prepare drink this afternoon instead of hot tea. The recipe comes from Anthony William, and it’s included in his new release Liver Rescue. I’m grateful for the delicious tart flavor and the healing benefits of this lemonade.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons dried hibiscus or 2 hibiscus tea bags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes at least. Strain tea into a mug and place in fridge to chill.

In a small pitcher whisk together 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 4 tablespoons raw organic honey, until honey is dissolved. When hibiscus tea is cooled, stir into lemonade. Enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

Read about the health benefits of hibiscus.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

3. Liver Rescue

I just received this new book on Tuesday. The fourth by author Anthony William, this book focuses on healing the liver, which in turn heals a host of health issues including aging problems, brain fog, cancer, eczema, psoriasis, gallbladder disease, gut problems, hormonal disorders, inflammation, insomnia, mystery hunger and many more.

I’ve learned so much about my body and what’s going on within it through Anthony’s books. I’m grateful for the incredible healing I’ve experienced as well. The information within Liver Rescue will take my health to a new level. I’m taking notes as I read.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

4. Sweet Potatoes from My Garden

As cooler weather arrives, my garden is slowing down. Last week I dug up the sweet potatoes in the raised bed veggie garden. What a treat it has been to prepare baked sweet potatoes. Tonight I felt such a sense of accomplishment as I washed up a batch of these little blessings, in preparation for trying a new recipe featuring sweet potatoes. I grew this food!

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

5. Chili Sweet Potato Fries

I checked out a plant based cookbook from the library. The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook, created by Melissa Costello, offers planet-friendly fare that is easy to make and so delicious, while boosting health as well.

Chili Sweet Potato Fries

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick lengthwise fries.

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons chili seasoning

Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cut potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle fries with with chili seasoning and salt. Toss potatoes to cost evenly. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until fries are browned on outside and tender inside. Let cool 5 minutes.

I served the sweet potato fries with:

Lemon Dill Aioli Sauce

In a blender (I used the smaller attachment) blend 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, 1/4 cup vegan mayo, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 garlic clove, finely minced. Makes a little more 1/4 cup of sauce.

The sweet potato fries and aioli were so good! The chili seasoning adds just a touch of spiciness that pairs well with the sweetness of the potato. And the lemon dill aioli…yum!

I buy Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, from Natural Grocers. It’s made from aquafaba, the water off of cooked chickpeas, and it is vegan, non-GMO, and egg, soy, gluten and sugar free. And I promise, it tastes like mayo! I use it as a base for several sauces.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

Let’s Play a Game of Blessings

The idea for the 5 Daily Gratitudes came to me this afternoon, as I paused to appreciate the sunlight streaming in and expressed my gratitude aloud. The Dream Giver whispered to me, “Do you want to play a new game?”

I always do. I’m always ready to play games that teach me new truths as I learn and grow and have fun.

Play along with me, during Thanksgiving month. Find one thing, or five, or ten, to be grateful for each day. Write them down in a journal, make lists, draw pictures, take photos…keep some kind of record of the things you are thankful for. Count your blessings, one by one. And I’d love it if you shared some of them with me.

Counting My Blessings 5 Daily Gratitudes

Order Liver Rescue and dried hibiscus by clicking links below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

It’s the day after Halloween, and Black Friday promotions began showing up in my inbox today. I get it and I enjoy taking part, in a limited way, with the after Thanksgiving shopping kick off. However, my focus, during the month of November, is on gratitude.

To start off a month of expressing gratitude and focusing on blessings, I created a fun little craft. Gratitude pumpkins are easy to make, with materials available at home. This is a great activity for kids and offers the opportunity to come up with eight things they are grateful for.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Eight Easy Steps to Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

The body of the pumpkin is made from four strips of paper, cut from a standard 8 1/2 x 11 or larger sheet. Any color can be used. Let kids be creative. Purple pumpkins with orange leaves are fine!

Step 1

I used a light gold sheet of heavy paper for the body of the pumpkin and a light green sheet for the leaves and curling vines. Cut the paper for the body into strips, using a paper cutter or scissors. Only four strips are needed, per pumpkin. One sheet of paper makes two pumpkins.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 2

Write gratitudes on the ends of the four strips of paper, expressing eight things you are thankful for. Line up the strips and write four gratitudes and then flip the strips over and write four “upside down”, so that when joined, all the words are going the same direction. See photo below. Leave some space at either end, as those edges will be joined together.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 3

Using tape, join one strip at a time, making a circle. Add each strip, completing the circle and joining the loops together, until all four strips are connected. Carefully flip the pumpkin over and add double-sided tape, or regular tape folded over, to secure the loops at the bottom of the pumpkin.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 4

Draw a pumpkin leaf on a second piece of paper. I looked up a pumpkin leaf online and drew a simple heart shape and then slightly flared out the sides. Heart shaped leaves work well too. Cut out the first leaf and then trace around it to create a second leaf. I drew the second leaf slightly smaller within the outline, to create variety.

On one leaf write “Grateful for…” and on the other leaf, write your name and the year.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 5

Cut three narrow strips of paper, the same color as the leaves, or in a contrasting color. Tightly wrap the strips around a pen or pencil, then slide the coils off, creating pumpkin vines.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Step 6

Attach the curly pieces of vine to the top of the pumpkin, with tape or glue. I used double-sided tape. Finally, attach the two leaves, also with tape or glue.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin

Display Gratitude Pumpkins

Find a place to display the gratitude pumpkin, where it can be seen each day. A group of pumpkins, made by a family, would be so cute, and also serve as a great reminder that there are many blessings to be thankful for.

Another idea is to make a pumpkin out of gratitude quotes. There are amazing quotes available. Simple google “gratitude quotes” to come up with ideas.

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.”

Gratitude is an attitude shifter. It brings me into the present moment as I reflect on all that I am thankful for. And expressing gratitude draws more to me, to be grateful for. A grateful heart literally changes everything, and spending the next 30 days focusing on my blessings is a great way to enter the holiday season, and wind down another year.

My gratitude pumpkin is sitting on my writing table, in my creative studio. I’ve already looked at it many times, and reached over to pick it up. I am grateful for its simple beauty, and for all that it represents.

Create a Gratitude Pumpkin