Decocrated Subscription Box Review

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Thank you to Decocrated for sending me the Winter 2019 subscription box for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

Subscription boxes are a fun…and popular…way to try products from different companies. For a set fee, boxes are delivered right to your front door. And the possibilities are endless.

Do you have a pet, love beauty products, enjoy the latest fashions? There’s a subscription box to meet your needs or further your interests. In fact, it’s estimated that in the US alone there are more than 500 different kinds of subscription boxes. Subscriptions vary in price and frequency of delivery, providing affordable options for everyone.

When Decocrated contacted me about trying one of their boxes, I responded immediately. This opportunity offered a fun first experience and created anticipation for receiving a box full of products, curated for the home.

Decocrated Subscription Box Review title meme

What is Decocrated?

Decocrated is a subscription box company that offers carefully selected home decor items. The boxes ship every three months, coinciding with the change of seasons. The company’s mission is to create a beautiful story every season and deliver it to your front door so you can focus on important things, like creating memories.

The pieces all work together, and easily mix with what you already own, creating a fresh look without spending hours shopping. Each box typically contains six to eight pieces, worth approximately $200 total, for a quarterly fee of $79.99.

Included in the box is a booklet filled with decorating tips and ideas for incorporating what you have on hand, so that you can create your own personalized look. A Decocrated subscription box is a fun way to transform your house into a home and tell your unique stories.

Decocrated Subscription Box
Who doesn’t love to receive a box full of goodies?

The Decocrated Subscription Box – Winter 2019

I felt extremely excited about receiving my first subscription box. Mine arrived the third week in December, giving me an early Christmas! I’m especially fond of home decor and creating vignettes, which do indeed tell stories.

Here are the beautiful items from the winter box:

Double Sided Art Print

This 4×6 inch art card is printed on both sides. One side features iconic winter items while the other lists the memorable elements of the season. Pop the card into a frame, clip to a board or simply attach it to a mirror or the refrigerator.

I placed mine in a 5×7 frame, using a piece of festive scrapbook paper behind it. I love that it works well during the holidays and then remains suitable for the entire winter season.

Decocrated Double Sided Art Print
Decocrated Double Sided Art Print, framed.
Two Double Sided Pieces
The two double sided items…art card and tabletop sign.

Double Sided Tabletop Sign

I also appreciate the double sided tabletop sign. It works wonderfully well with some of the other Decocrated winter decor. And flipping the sign over, it becomes an inspirational quote for the rest of the year. I love the versatility of such pieces.

Decocrated tabletop and ceramic trees
Decocrated tabletop sign and ceramic trees.

Ceramic Trees

I have a thing for trees. In nature they draw me. At home I group them throughout the house, using real trees in pots and an assortment of tree-shaped decor pieces. I love this ceramic set from Decocrated.

These beautiful pieces mixed well with my Christmas decorations, however, I enjoy trees year around. I’ll find fresh vignettes for them with every seasonal change.

Decocrated Holiday Vignette
Holiday vignette with Decocrated pieces.

Winter Pillow Cover and Woven Throw

These textile pieces create such cozy vibes. The pillow cover fits standard 18″ or 20″ foam pillows. I used an 18″ pillow that I already own. The colorful print on the pillow looks great on a bench or sofa, paired with the soft woven throw.

I created a cheery holiday vignette with the pillow, throw, tabletop sign, tray (included in the Decocrated subscription box as well) and ceramic trees. After Christmas the pieces combined in fresh ways with other items.

Cozy Decocrated Pillow
What a fun print on this pillow cover!
Soft woven throw.
Soft, woven throw is large enough to snuggle under.

Holiday Tray

I love using trays to create vignettes on. This tray has a stamped metal base and walnut finished sides, with metal handles. It’s the perfect size to hold decor or a stack of books or an afternoon snack.

This adorable…and functional…tray will remain in use throughout the year.

Tray with metal base
Sweet tray with stamped metal base.
Decocrated Tray
And it’s perfect for afternoon tea.

Metal Envelope

Metal items add such interest to decor. I use metal pieces in my garden and in my home so I ooohed and aaaahed when I opened this box. The galvanized metal envelope hangs on the wall or tucks upright into a wooden box, holding mail, floral arrangements or keepsakes.

I hung the envelope in my creative studio. It currently holds artist cards that I purchased last summer in Edinburgh, Scotland. With a bit of artificial ivy added, it pairs cozily with an inspirational metal sign.

Decocrated Metal Envelope
I enjoy metal pieces, such as this envelope.
Metal Envelope holding artistic cards.
Decocrated metal envelope holding cards from Edinburgh.

Wooden Tags

These fun tags are just the right size to hang on the tree as ornaments or attach to gifts. Sorry, family, I kept all of mine! I hung the messages of joy and peace on a small artificial tree in my studio. Daily they remind me of all that I am grateful for.

Wooden tags
Wooden tags…
Decocrated tags
…adorn a small tree.

My Thoughts About the Decocrated Subscription Box

I am delighted with the quality of this subscription box. The pieces are fun, versatile and charming. They mix well with any style decor and work with a multitude of other pieces. Although the winter theme is definitely coziness, I love that most of the decor items transition from the holidays to other seasons.

As the seasons change, I enjoy switching up my decor without having to buy a lot of additional accessories. I like to primarily use the vintage pieces I own, in fresh ways, creating vignettes that tell unique stories.

That makes Decocrated a perfect match for my decorating style. Their pieces allow me to create more with what I have and to freshen any room in my house.

Check out their website by clicking the link below. The winter box is currently on sale for an amazing price. I’m excited to see what spring beauties Decocrated offers!

Decocrated Subscription Boxes

How Exciting
Oh how exciting…to open a Decocrated Subscription Box!

 

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Gardening in Winter

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Gardening in winter may seem an impossibility. What about freezing temperatures, lack of sunshine and snow? However, during winter the garden goes dormant, resting before the growing season ahead. This makes January through early March the perfect time to prep.

Check out these tasks to do now, to get the garden ready for spring.

Gardening in Winter title meme

Gardening in Winter

I leave dry plant stalks and ornamental grasses up during the winter. Today perfectly illustrates why. My area received a light snow overnight, turning my beautifully messy garden space into an enchanting work of art.

I must add that I laughed over this occurrence. I plan my blog posts a month in advance. Today’s scheduled post, Gardening in Winter, benefited from the snowfall. It offered me the opportunity to snap wonderfully appropriate photos. Of course I did not know in advance that my post and snow would coincide but I happily accept this marvelous gift.

Six Tasks to do Now

Transplant Trees and Shrubs

These woody plants slumbering during the winter months can be moved while they aren’t growing. Dig up the tree or shrub, leaving a ball of earth around the roots. Move it carefully to the new location.

Replant the tree or shrub at its original depth, water thoroughly and tamp in dirt around the root ball. Water regularly during any dry spells, to help lessen shock from the transplant.

Trim Back Ornamental Grasses

Leave dry ornamental grasses up during winter, to add interest and beauty to the garden. Before spring, trim grass stalks back, to within six inches of the ground. February is a good month for this task in most zones. Ideally, trim grasses before any new green growth appears.

I use a large metal barrel to burn the dry stalks after trimming the plants back. A calm day with no wind is necessary when burning garden debris.

Now is the time as well to dig up any stray ornamental grasses that popped up in the garden in late fall. The plants are easy to spot, due to their tall stalks and it is simple to dig them up while they are small.

Gardening in Winter Grasses
Gardening in Winter – almost time to trim back ornamental grasses

Work the Soil

As the ground warms, prepare the soil for spring planting. Using a tiller or spading by hand, incorporate several inches of compost or shredded tree leaves into the soil. Remove dead weeds from the garden and cut dry perennials and herb stalks back to the ground.

Add a layer of mulch. Or you can wait until spring plants barely poke through the ground and then mulch heavily around them. Mulch reduces weeds, holds in important moisture and protects the plants.

Trim Back Evergreens, Flowering Shrubs and Vines

Now is the time to tidy up flowering shrubs and evergreens. Prune back branches, for healthier growth in the spring. Vines tolerate a good cutting back. I sometimes cut my clematis vines back to the ground although a less severe pruning is fine too.

Don’t prune crape myrtle however. If the plant gets too large for its location, consider moving it.

Gardening in Winter Cranes
Garden cranes stand guard over straggly clematis vines.

Check Garden Containers and Equipment

During those cold wintry days, walk through the garden frequently and check for needed repairs. I leave many of my containers outside during winter. Now is the time to inspect those metal tubs and buckets, clay pots, plant stands, trellises and wheelbarrows. Remove dried flower stalks or weeds from all containers, to prepare for spring planting.

Clean and sharpen shovels and hand trowels. Clean rakes. Inspect garden hoses for splits or cracks.

I have two metal cranes and a rabbit statue in the garden. I check them for damage and remove any garden debris from them.

Dream and Plan

This task is perfect for days when the weather prevents outdoor work. Grab a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate, a notebook and a pen and sketch out the garden. Dream up a new feature. Plan a border. Add a water fountain. Dream really big and create a whole new garden.

Research plants. Think about trying something different. Visit online nurseries, such as this one.

Winter is not just a time for gardens to rest and prepare. This season is a wonderful time for gardeners to dream, plan and prepare as well.

Gardening in Winter Rabbit
Rabbit statue in winter

Ready to Get Ready

I’m looking forward to getting into my garden to carry out these winter tasks. On the next mild day you’ll find me in my backyard garden, pruning, weeding and preparing for spring.

Admittedly, I have much to do. My garden suffered last year from too much rain. The excessive water affected herbs and flowers and encouraged rampant weed growth. By the end of summer, my garden looked wild.

No worries though. Hard work, heavy pruning and weeding will set things right. I don’t mind a bit of wildness, after all. It suits me. It’s that balance of beautiful order and barely contained wildness that so delights and inspires me.

Gardening in Winter Stalks

Check out these other posts, in the Backyard Gardening Series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden

 

Gardening Help from Amazon:


 

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Unpacking My Song for the Year

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I enter into each new year with a guidance system of sorts. For the twelve month journey ahead I carry with me a word, a symbol and a song. Those may seem insignificant. After all, wouldn’t a map be better? Not for me. Those three tools lead me onward wonderfully well providing insight, awareness and direction.

My word for 2020 is curiosity. It is already leading me down exciting paths. The key, my symbol, represents how curiosity unlocks doors of adventure and opportunity. And my song “How Far I’ll Go” is from the Disney film, Moana.

Today I’m unpacking my song for the year. I’m sharing how this tune found me and why it is significant to me.

Unpacking My Song for the Year title meme

 

How Far I’ll Go

I first heard this song in 2017 while flying high above the earth. As the plane carried me back to the US from Italy, I tried to lull myself to sleep by watching the Disney film Moana for the first time. I did not sleep. Instead, Moana captivated me with her thirst for adventure and desire to explore the unknown. I liked the song “How Far I’ll Go” so much that I downloaded it on my iPhone.

Have a listen to the song. Does it stir something in you, like it does me?

Choosing a Song for 2020

As I’ve mentioned before, typically my word for the new year comes to me first, then the symbol and finally the song. This year followed that pattern. As the end of the year approached, I felt drawn to two songs: Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” and Disney’s “How Far I’ll Go”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I think I leaned toward Jack’s song for two reasons. The lyrics contained my word, “curiosity”, and it wasn’t a Disney song. I’ve nothing against Disney at all…it’s just that a couple of my previous songs for the year came from their animations.

Those reasons proved not valid and because of my resistance, I came close to missing my true song for 2020. Fortunately, I decided to listen to both songs before declaring one the winner. I like “Upside Down”, from the Curious George film. It’s catchy and it’s about curiosity.

However, when I listened to “How Far I’ll Go” I immediately responded to it. My heart rate increased and tears filled my eyes. Those are strong indicators that I’ve learned to pay attention to. Once more I listened to both songs, with the same results. “How Far I’ll Go” is my song for this Year of Curiosity.

Unpacking My Song for the Year Moana
Unpacking my song for the year…How Far I’ll Go from Moana
See that line where the sky meets the sea
See that line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.

Unpacking My Song for the Year

That song inspires me…and here’s why.

In the movie, Moana is an island girl, the daughter of the tribe’s king. She’s in training as the next ruler. Moana wants to please her father and be the perfect daughter. Surely stepping into her role on the island is enough to create the life she longs for. Or is it?

For as long as she can remember, the ocean has called to her. A sense of adventure overflows her heart and soul, creating an intense desire to set sail and see where her curiosity takes her.

I’ve carried a similar longing all of my life. Moana’s familial duties initially kept her island bound. My fears waged war with my desires.

The words from the song that make my heart beat faster are these:

“See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me. And no one knows how far it goes. If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I’ll know. If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.”

And these words brought the tears:

“See the light as it shines on the sea? It’s blinding. But no one knows, how deep it goes. And it seems like it’s calling out to me, ‘so come find me…'”.

Unpacking My Song for the Year So Come Find Me
Unpacking My Song for the Year…so come find me.

So Come Find Me

As a child, I often heard my name called. That’s not an uncommon childhood experience, except the calling to me came when no one else was around. From a young age, I climbed to the tops of trees and onto the roof of my house, seeking solitude. In those moments of aloneness and reflection, the voice called my name.

No matter how much I searched for the source, I never found one. The voice seemed distant and yet right there next to my ear. I couldn’t even tell if the voice was masculine or feminine, but it knew my name and it called to me.

I’ve heard that calling throughout my life.

In 2016 my song for the year was “Just Around the River Bend”, from another Disney film, Pocahontas. A line in that song moved me as well:

“Should I choose the smoothest course, steady as the beating drum? Is all my dreaming at an end? Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver, just around the river bend?”

Those dreams that are just around the river bend, that line where the sky meets the sea…they call to me. They whisper my name and say, “So come find me…”

I’ve slain my fears. Nothing binds me. My heart is whole and free, my spirit untethered.

My song for the year reminds me that an adventure calls to me. With the “wind” of courage and hope and anticipation filling my sails, I am discovering just how far I can go.

“Are you brave enough to leave the safety of the shore and set sail?” asks the Dream Giver.

“Yes,” I answer, “yes I am. Going beyond…this is what I am created for.”

“So….come find me.”

“I am on my way. Keep calling to me…”

Dreamer
I am a Dreamer.  I am an Adventurer. Keep calling to me….

I am a Dreamer t-shirt from Solgave Clothing

 

 

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Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

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Oh, the interesting places curiosity is leading me to. Yesterday I learned about the German word fernweh, which literally means “far sickness”.  Fernweh is the strong longing to visit a far away place.

Today I learned more about practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv. I discovered this concept last year, however it recently popped back into my awareness. Curiosity led me down the path of discovery this evening as I learned why reconnecting with nature is so important.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

What is Friluftsliv?

The Norwegian word friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) literally means “free air life”. Coined in 1859 by Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian poet studied the healing effects of nature. He led a national movement to spend more time outdoors.

Practiced today throughout Norway, Sweden and Denmark, friluftsliv powerfully impacts physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Hygge, another Scandinavian custom originating in Denmark, encourages people to get cozy and enjoy social interactions. Friluftsliv on the other hand, gets people involved in uplifting interactions with nature. The custom goes beyond a walk outside, although that is part of it. Friluftsliv is about mindfulness and connecting to a larger whole.

Studies show that mental and physical wellbeing elevate when we engage with nature. That connection pulls us outside ourselves and the small worlds we create. It raises awareness of the largeness of the world and of life.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv on the Tanyard Creek Trail, Bella Vista AR
Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv in the Botanical Gardens of northwest AR.

Benefits of Friluftsliv

We know that walking outside is good for us. However, it goes beyond exercise. Getting outdoors and immersing ourselves in nature centers the mind and the body and resets our emotions. This is especially important during the winter months, when many people react to the lack of sunlight. (Read more about seasonal affective disorder here.)

Additionally, practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv releases the feel good hormones, endorphins, into the body. It improves blood circulation and mood and reduces stress. The practice not only increases creativity, it helps to eliminate mental blocks. And friluftsliv even helps relieve a hangover!

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv at the Botanical Gardens, Springfield MO
Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv
And increasing wellbeing at Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens.

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Friluftsliv

Practicing this centering custom is easy. Get outdoors. In Norway, people regularly spend time outside, even in winter. In fact, many companies there encourage their employees to practice friluftsliv by designating 90 minutes a week for group activities outside.

You can practice friluftsliv too. Start by scheduling a time for outdoor activities. Then disconnect from electronic devices and eliminate distractions. This isn’t the time for chatting with friends as you walk. Friluftsliv is about connecting with nature, not with each other. Group activities are permitted as well. However, let the beauty of nature engage your senses and capture your attention.

Try these activities, to deepen the connection with nature:

  • walk in the woods, along a beach, through a park
  • run
  • hike
  • picnic at the park, in a meadow, alongside a creek
  • meditate or sit quietly outdoors
  • swim, ski, sail or surf
  • explore a forest, a cave, that mountain, a valley
  • camp
  • visit a farm or vineyard
  • garden
Mercy Park
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv at Mercy Park, Joplin MO
Gardening
One of my favorite ways of practicing mindfulness outdoors, gardening.

My Intention

I find myself repeatedly drawn outdoors. Gardening is a favorite hobby and nature speaks deeply to me. Although I’ve connected those longings to my Scottish roots, my DNA results shed light on another possibility. I have Scandinavian ancestry as well, with links to Sweden especially. My desire to practice hygge and now friluftsliv may be in my blood, literally.

That draw I feel, to walk outside even in winter, is not an oddity. It is a calling to get outdoors and center myself, stir my blood and awaken greater creativity.

I am delighted to discover more about this healing practice. As a writer, I spend hours online. It is vital that I disconnect daily from social media, computers and my smart phone and lose myself for a time in nature.

Have you heard of this Norwegian custom? What is your favorite way of spending time outdoors?

Practicing the Norwegian Custom of Frilutsliv
Practicing the Norwegian custom of friluftsliv on my solo retreat. The deck overlooked a gorgeous little lake. The cold didn’t keep me indoors.

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This post is linked to Wellness Weekend 2020

 

 

 

Knives Out Movie Review

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Knives Out is my first movie review for 2020. It’s a fun film. Fans of whodunnits or the game Clue will enjoy this wild twisty turny story peopled with outrageous characters.

Check out the spoiler free review and catch this comedy mystery in the theater before it’s gone.

Knives Out title meme

Knives Out Cast

Knives Out stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel, Riki Lindhome and K Callan. Rian Johnson wrote and directed the film. It carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and moderate profanity, and has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Knives Out is nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay.

Knives Out Movie Review

The Family

Head of the family Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is an eccentric, wealthy crime novelist. For his 85th birthday, he invites his entire family to his mansion to celebrate and then receive important news.

The family arrives, full of expectations. Daughter Linda (Curtis), the real estate mogul, fawns over her father, fusses with husband Richard (Johnson) and frets about their rebellious son Ransom (Evans). Daughter-in-law Joni (Collette), wife of Harlan’s deceased son Neil, brings along her daughter Megan (Langford), eager for monetary handouts. And younger son Walter (Shannon), ever in his father’s shadow, rounds out the family group with his shrill wife Donna (Lindhome) and teenage son Jacob (Martell). The family continually circles around their patriarch, not with concern and care but like predators watching for weakness.

And weakness is present with advancing age. Harlan employs Marta (de Armas) as his caretaker. She not only administers his meds and ensures his rest, she listens to Harlan’s stories and plays a complicated board game called Go with him every evening. Their relationship is more meaningful and genuine than any of the familial connections.

Knives Out Marta
Marta the Caregiver

The Mystery

The morning after his birthday party, with all of his family spending the night in the house, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. Although his death is initially thought a suicide, the household is turned upside down when the police arrive.

As Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) and Lieutenant Elliot (Stanfield) question every family member, the complete truth floats just out of reach. Reality shifts with each interview. Relationships aren’t what they seem. Motives are uncovered. Greed and fear of missing out create a desperation that causes “knives to come out”.

Blanc calmly and methodically sorts through the deceptions, ever closing in on the truth. He combines shrewdness with keen observation to uncover what really happened on the night of Harlan’s birthday party.

Knives Out the Caretaker and the Detective
Knives Out – The Caretaker and The Detective

My Thoughts on Knives Out

In spite of the darker subject, this is a fun movie. Much like in the old Columbo television series, the viewers know more about the situation than the characters in the film do, including Detective Blanc. And yet, there are plot twists that make the story a true whodunnit for the audience as well. As I watched, my mind sorted through stories and statements along with Blanc, puzzling out who was who and how motives drove each person.

Daniel Craig surprises as soon as he opens his mouth. His character speaks with a deep southern drawl, which honestly took me a few minutes to get used to. How do actors master those accents? He is a delight, in a role that differs greatly from his portrayal of James Bond and yet makes use of some of those attributes. He is clever and charming and ever watchful.

One of the more comedic roles comes from K Callan, who portrays Harlan’s mother. If he’s celebrating his 85th birthday, how old is she? No one in the family knows! The dear lady isn’t senile, just invisible to her family. One of the more touching scenes in the film involves her too and a conversation between her and Blanc.

Knives Out The Family

I Love a Good Mystery

Knives Out is funny, playful, thoughtful and satisfying in its conclusion. I love a good mystery. In fact, a whodunnit is one of my favorite film genres. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express too.

Have you seen Knives Out yet? Or do you have a favorite whodunnit? I want to know. Maybe you’ve seen one that I’ve missed!

The Patriarch
Harlan Thrombey, the Patriarch

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End of the Birthday Celebrations

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It’s officially the end of the birthday celebrations. My 62nd birthday was January 9, marking the culmination of 62 days of celebrating by randomly drawing activities from a jar. It’s been fun! It’s been challenging. I’ve learned so much.

Read the post that started the fun romp toward my birthday HERE. And then check out the last activities.

End of the Birthday Celebrations title meme

Final Week of Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper, back in early November. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I drew out an activity and did what was written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations

As the slips of paper dwindled, these are the last activities that I drew.

Shop for an Outfit at a Thrift Store with a $20 Budget

The idea behind this activity was not just thriftiness. Buying gently used clothes instead of new reduces my impact on the world’s resources. Have you ever thought about the energy and resources consumed by the clothing industry? Read this great article about the subject.

I found this activity an outlet for my creativity too. I chose to shop at my local Goodwill Store with a $20 bill tucked into my pocket. Could I do it?

Yes!

I purchased a cute jacket, a simple black top and skinny gray pants….for a total of $16. Thanks to the jacket’s half price tag, I stayed under budget. I love the way things work out!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Thrift
End of the Birthday Celebrations – thrift store outfit

24 Hour Liquid Fast

I changed this activity from a water fast to a liquid fast. Nutritionally, the difference felt important. I think it made the activity easier and I benefited more from it.

My mornings are always liquids. I don’t eat solid food until noon. On this day, however, lunch was a huge glass of apple celery juice. By mid afternoon my empty stomach rumbled a bit. But by evening, my hunger completely disappeared and I felt energized. It’s good to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Throughout the day, I consumed freshly prepared juices, fruit smoothies, lots of herbal teas and a brothy soup.

I ended up completing a 36 hour liquid fast and felt wonderful as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Liquid Fast
Refreshing apple celery juice for lunch.

Write Chapter One in House H(a)unting Book

This activity felt SO GOOD to complete. I’ve had a book idea for many years. After quickly writing the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start this project. The reason, I decided, is because I wasn’t ready.

The years of crafting blog posts helped me hammer out my own particular writing style. And I’ve learned much this past year about trimming away the excess and keeping my writing tight and more focused. Now I’m ready.

The first chapter in this non fiction book came together extremely well. I’m excited to continue the work, chapter by chapter.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Chapter One
Chapter One…

Visit a New Place, Within 100 Miles of Joplin AND Hike a New Trail

It made sense to combine these two activities. I’m thankful for Google! How simple to type in “fun activities within 20 miles of Joplin” and scroll through the list. I considered options farther away from my hometown, however it gets dark early this time of year and this was a solo adventure.

I ended up near Galena, Kansas at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Located in Schermerhorn Park south of the town, the nature center provided the perfect opportunity for visiting a new to me place. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes looking at animals, reading through info about southeast Kansas and opening drawers containing hands-on activities. I stood for a time watching bees in an indoor hive. I’ve never seen a hive up close. The glass walls allowed viewing without disturbing the bees. A short tunnel to the outdoors enabled the insects to easily exit the building and return to the hive.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Southeast Kansas Nature Center’

Hiking

Conveniently, down the hill from the nature center a couple of trails that I’ve not hiked before snaked through the woods. Alone in the this part of the park, I first walked along the Roos Trail.

I then returned to the parking lot and headed west toward the Schemerhorn Cave. Only vaguely aware of the cave’s location, I veered right onto the trail branching off of the main track, hoping my sense of direction guided me well.

Perhaps because I was alone, I felt mildly uneasy. Or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Dark, in which paranormal activity occurs in a cave. As I approached the cave though the uneasiness grew. I felt creeped out. By that I mean I picked up strange vibrational energy. I paused on the trail and considered turning around. However, these activities are meant to challenge me and move me beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t sense danger. I sensed something otherworldly.

When I found the cave, I didn’t linger there or enter it. Distinct, negative energy haunts that area. Returning to the car I turned around twice, looking back along the trail, sure that something followed me.

In the car, with the doors locked, I looked up info about the cave. There are accounts of paranormal activity there. People have reported hearing ghostly voices and phantom gunshots in the area. The outlaw Jesse James supposedly hid out in that cave. My intuition was spot on.

Hike at Schermerhorn Park
I much preferred this merry little stream over the foreboding cave.

Do a Vlog in Place of a Blog

This is the last activity I drew from my jar, on my birthday. How perfect. This video came together more smoothly than my last one! Check it out.

Truly the End of the Birthday Celebrations

That’s a wrap! During the longest running game that I’ve yet created, I completed 62 activities. I swapped out several. Interestingly, the activities that I tried to pre-plan for specific dates…a play, a book signing and a movie…didn’t work out. I learned it’s better NOT to try to schedule random activities!

Allowing the activities to choose me works much better.

Here’s what else I discovered. I can do challenging things. Many of the activities pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I contacted brands and companies to work with, most of which have not yet responded. That’s okay. I learned how to better craft a pitch. And other opportunities came to me, including a paid sponsorship with another brand that sought me out. This game created around me an energetic space of openness and receptivity. I’m a magnet…for all kinds of deeper wonderment.

I’m still working on the submission packet for the writing fellowship. And I have a couple of activities to put finishing touches on. Overall, what an amazing time of trying new things, having fun and growing. This might be my best birthday ever. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than expressing creativity and upping my life game. The experience launched 2020 in a powerful, magnificent way. I am excited to see what happens next!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Empty Jar
End of the Birthday Celebrations – empty jar

Here are the other weeks of activities:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Want to create your own fun game? It begins with ideas, strips of paper…and an empty jar.

 

 

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.

 

Home Stretch

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

I’ve entered the home stretch, doing outrageous activities, as my 62nd birthday is this week. What fun these celebrations sparked. And, not surprisingly, opportunities for growth and going beyond my comfort zone appeared as well. That was the primary intention, playing this game. I’ll be a bit sad to see it end, however what a wonderful way to begin a new year.

Check out last week’s activities as the count down continues.

Home Stretch title meme

Week Eight Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Home Stretch

With my birthday so close, the jar is almost empty. I’m posting last week’s activities today and I’ll do a follow up post Friday to wrap up this two month long event. Here are the last seven activities…with an explanation. I had clients to take care of and non-celebratory but important tasks to do such as creating a vision board for the year. This past week I didn’t complete every activity although I at least began each one. I’ll follow through and finish them in the upcoming weeks.

Create Art Piece for This Year’s Symbol the Key

I started this practice last year, creating a work of art that features my symbol for the year. The idea of creating such art yearly appeals to me. Thus I began my second sketch in this series. The key is my symbol for 2020, representing how curiosity “unlocks” doors of adventure and opportunity.

Because I felt drawn to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I drew him holding a key rather than a pocket watch. The rough sketch is pictured here. I’ll tidy it up and then use colored pencils to complete the art piece. And, looking at it here, I think I’ll make that key larger. I possess a BIG sense of curiosity.

Home Stretch Sketch
Home Stretch sketch – my symbol for the year

Visit a Local Store I’ve Not Visited Before

I frequently drive by Plato’s Closet, located on S. Rangeline and yet I’ve never visited this consignment store. Plato’s Closet buys and resells gently worn name brand clothing. Although they primarily cater to teens and twenty-somethings, they carry a wide variety of brands and styles, in a full range of sizes. Prices are generally 70% off what you’d find at the mall.

When I stopped by, the store was full of shoppers looking for bargains. I didn’t have much time, however I enjoyed browsing through well organized racks of tops, pants and dresses. I saw several women carry in bags of clothing. While they shopped, employees sorted through the clothes, made selections and presented offers. I believe you can receive cash or a store credit.

I’ll certainly return to Plato’s Closet when I have more time to look.

Plato's Closet
Plato’s Closet, located at 1313 S Rangeline in Joplin.

Change Themes on the Blogs

I wrote these as separate activities and drew them the same week, which actually worked out well. It’s time to change the themes on my blogs, prompting me to look through possibilities for Cindy Goes Beyond and Journey With Healthy Me. I felt drawn to blog themes created by Solo Pine, on the site Theme Forest.

My criteria for new themes includes compatibility with WordPress, responsiveness, mobile friendliness and a clean, uncluttered layout. I selected the theme Rosemary for Beyond and the theme Alder for Journey. Watch for the blogs to freshen up their appearances in the next week or so. Because technology is one way I am forced to grow, I will spend time over the weekend uploading these new themes and making necessary changes.

Home Stretch Rosemary
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Beyond with the Rosemary theme
Home Stretch Alder
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Journey with the Alder theme

Try a New Vegetable

I’ve noticed these small green gourds in the produce section at the grocery store. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? When I drew this activity I checked out these new to me foods to discover what they were exactly.

It turns out they are chayote, a type of squash that is common in Mexico. And while this produce is technically a fruit, it is prepared and eaten like a vegetable. The meat of the chayote is used much like zucchini. It can be added raw to salads or stir fried, boiled, mashed or baked.

I purchased a couple of chayotes and found a recipe online to adapt. Although I haven’t prepared my new “vegetable” yet, I will tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Chayote

Have an Afternoon of Silence

I welcomed this quiet activity. However, I didn’t get to experience it on the day I drew the slip of paper from the jar. Instead I  partnered this one with the next day’s activity, Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series. It was an interesting combination…silence for a time then take after take recording a video.

I am at heart a solitary person. When I’m by myself, I tend to speak very little although I may burst into song occasionally. Typically music plays in the background when I’m home alone.

For this activity, I chose complete silence, with no speaking, music, or television. The absence of noise allowed my muscles to relax and my breathing to deepen. I found myself smiling several times, as I worked in my studio. I’d like to practice this activity more.

Home Stretch Silence
Home Stretch – silence

Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series

I followed my time of quiet with a burst of speaking. I ended up doing at least a dozen takes before I got a decent video for this activity…and it was only a five minute recording!

Here’s what I learned. To properly do a series of videos, I’ll need a dedicated space to create in and some essential equipment. I propped my phone up in my creative studio, which seems appropriate enough. However I dealt with too much sunlight filtering in through the closed blinds, my iPhone falling over while I recorded and a cat that just had to check out what was going on. And then there were the flubs as I spoke!

It’s all valuable experience that I’m grateful for. I’m encouraged to keep trying and keep going. I know there is another video related activity still in the jar. I’ll see how that one goes compared to this initial attempt.

Home Stretch Video
Take ten. And it’s a photo of the video…not a clickable video fortunately. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Thursday is my birthday. It’s already been a unique celebration, or series of celebrations rather, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’m grateful that my granddaughter suggested this idea to me. She’s very aware of what I’ve been doing and that precious girl has been my biggest cheerleader the last eight weeks.

I’ll finish this series on Friday, although I expect that the impact from this imaginative game will continue for some time. I’ve given myself a remarkable gift.

Week Eight Activities

Check out the other activities during weeks one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

 

Amazon finds:

 


 

 

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.

 

 

Year of Curiosity

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It’s 2020 and what a year of promise! I’m excited about it already. I love the symbolism that accompanies the auspicious date. The very nature of the number 2020 hints at clarity and vision. For those with the openness to see clearly, 2020 offers opportunities to cast visions and gain personal and business insights.

As is my custom, each new year begins afresh with a word, symbol and song as companions for the twelve month journey. This is my Year of Curiosity and I’m full of anticipation for where it will lead me.

Year of Curiosity title meme

Year of Curiosity – the Word

As is evident, my word for this year is curiosity. I’m thrilled about this word. The definition is “a strong desire to learn or know something; a strange or unusual fact or object”. My intention for 2020 is to follow curiosity, daily, to see where it leads me. I’m curious about everything, and have been since childhood. I love when curiosity nudges me and I begin the “what ifs” or “wonder whys”. Curiosity possesses the power to launch adventures and unlock doors of opportunity, if I will follow where it leads. I am willing to follow.

I looked up the root word for curiosity. It is derived from the Latin word cura. Our words “care” and “careful” come from this root word as well as the word “cure”. At first I found it difficult to see how curiosity and careful can be related. However, I love the connections I perceive with cure, which I suppose could loosely be defined as “take care of”. How amazing to think that we can take care of or cure boredom, stagnation, fear, ignorance and complacency with an energizing injection of curiosity.

I love the paths that curiosity leads me down. This year I’m throwing off restraints and eagerly journeying under curiosity’s guidance.

Year of Curiosity definition
Year of Curiosity definition

Year of Curiosity – the Symbol

As soon as I realized that curiosity was my word for the year (check out this post to see how I choose a word each year), I picked up my childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland. This junior deluxe classic book, published in 1954, has accompanied me throughout my life. I’ve read the story many times. I strongly associate curiosity with Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. As I read through the story again I wondered, curiously, if the rabbit from Wonderland might be my symbol for 2020.

It turns out the key is my symbol. A key unlocks doors so that passage can be gained. Curiosity is the key that unlocks more knowledge and deeper answers and it opens doors to paths that disappear around the bend in the road. Those paths beckon to me. I must follow to see where they lead.

Ironically, after I accepted that the key is my symbol for the year, I happened to glance at the spine of my well worn book. There is a drawing of the rabbit…and a key. That makes me smile. I’ll create an art piece for this year, a sketch of the rabbit holding a key. And throughout the year, the symbol of the key will remind me of my journey and guide me. It serves also as confirmation that I am on the right path by appearing at key times.

Year of Curiosity Alice in Wonderland Book
Year of Curiosity – Alice in Wonderland Book with the rabbit and key on the spine. I believe my younger sister decorated the book for me.

Year of Curiosity – the Song

My song for the year typically arrives last, sometimes months after the word and symbol. Music is important to me and I look forward to seeing what song shows up repetitively, which is my signal that this is the right song.

For 2020 I thought I knew the song…”How Far I’ll Go”, from the Moana movie and soundtrack. And then a Jack Johnson song, “Upside Down” began to show up. That song, from the Curious George movie and soundtrack, even contains the word curiosity in the lyrics. I felt torn between the two songs. When I’m not sure, I wait.

Today, I decided to go ahead and call it, choosing the song “Upside Down”. In the car I listened to the song. It’s a good tune. I like it. Then I listed to “How Far I’ll Go”. Tears filled my eyes. My heart beat faster and I could feel emotions swirling around my heart. I knew. THAT’S my song. The connections between the lyrics and me are powerful. I wrote another post, unpacking this song more fully, and sharing why it impacts me so. Listen to How Far I’ll Go.

A New Adventure is Underway

I’m off, on a new adventure. I have no idea where curiosity will lead me this year or what doors it will unlock. However, I’m here, alert and aware, gazing forward and inward at the same time. Curiosity calls to me, “Come with me…”. I’m eager to do so.

Do you have a word, symbol or song for this year? I’d love to know.

Curiosity Quoye

Check out these Amazon finds:

 


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.

2019 Year in Review

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Wow, what an extraordinary year! I knew going into 2019 that the next twelve months were going to grow me and that I’d exit the year a different person. That’s true for everyone, I think, whether they are aware of it or not. Every day, week, month and year brings opportunities to grow. I definitely experienced profound shifts.

Check out 2019 Year in Review for the highlights.

2019 Year in Review title meme

Focus for 2019

I primarily focused on two things last year, growing the blogs and a planned trip to Scotland. Many joys and some challenges filled in the spaces between those two big goals, creating a year of shifts and letting go.

My word for 2019, Enchantment, inspired me to use my thoughts, words and actions to create the reality that I desire. My symbol, the queen chess piece, came to me through a Divine question:

“Do you want to be the Queen of your own kingdom, or a pawn in someone else’s?”

During 2019, as the Queen of Enchantment, I focused on building my kingdom through writing, sharing, speaking and engaging.

The 2019 Year in Review is very simple as it basically covers two areas.

2019 Year in Review Queen Chess Piece
2019 Year in Review – the Queen of Enchantment

2019 Year in Review Blogs

The Blogs

This year brought huge growth in me as a blogger and in the blogs as well. I began the year by taking an online blogging class. Blogging Blastoff, created and taught by Heather and Pete Reese, is a 30 day course with daily, online classes. I’ve been blogging for more than six years, however, I’ve never taken a class. How helpful this course is. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in creating a blog or monetizing an existing one.

Click this LINK to check out their classes. There’s an excellent free five day getting started course as well.

That class changed the course of my blogs. As a result, I now earn money through affiliate connections, like with Amazon, and through sponsorships with companies and brands. This past year I worked with 16 brands…and counting. I was also featured in two national magazines, Woman’s World and For Women First, guested on my first two podcasts, did a Facebook live for a group and did interviews.

These activities not only helped my blogs to grow, they expanded my abilities as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spend hours and hours a day, working on my writing and my blogs. I love the journey though. And I’ve connected with other bloggers, which was a key component missing from my blogging journey before. There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I’m privileged to call some of them friends. We help each other out and encourage one another, sharing our accomplishments and our challenges.

 

2019 Year in Review Podcasts
2019 Year in Review – Podcasts
2019 Year in Review Magazines
2019 Year in Review – Magazines. My mom and I were in the Woman’s World piece together, which was so much fun.

The Scotland Trip

If you know anything about me, you know this…I love Scotland. My Scottish DNA seems to work as a powerful magnet, drawing me ever toward my ancestral home. The highlight of 2019 was a trip to Scotland, accompanied by my sister Debbie. We made Edinburgh our homebase while we explored that gorgeous, ancient city and met up, for the first time, with Clan Maitland members from around the world.

For me, Edinburgh is home, even though my family originates from Lauder, in the Borders. I’ve never experienced the connection anywhere else, that I feel in Edinburgh. This was my third trip to Scotland and I never tire of wandering the streets and closes of Edinburgh. The energy is amazing there, the sights and sounds exhilarating and the people so friendly. Debbie and I spent many happy hours exploring the city. A couple of vegan restaurants, Seeds for the Soul and Beetroot Sauvage, comped meals for us and a vegan bakery gave us extra treats to take back to our apartment.

I’m grateful that my sister traveled with me. It was a trip to remember. My next Scottish intention is visiting Edinburgh at Christmas time.

2019 Year in Review
2019 Year in Review – Seeds for the Soul Vegan Cafe
2019 Year in Review Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland…my favorite city in the world. That’s Edinburgh Castle in the background.
2019 Year in Review Scottish Lasses
2019 Year in Review – Scottish Lasses. We were at our Clan Maitland Formal Dinner.

Clan Maitland

The second part of visiting Scotland involved meeting Scottish kin. Debbie and I are members of Clan Maitland, which includes those with Maitland and Lauderdale surnames. Early ancestors came from Normandy and settled eventually near Lauder, Scotland in the Borders. The family lineage includes a duke and a long line of earls. Our clan chief is Ian Maitland, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale. And there is a castle in Lauder, Thirlestane, that is occupied by another branch of the family.

What an amazing adventure, to meet Ian, his son John, and family members from New Zealand, the US, Scotland, England and France. As a family we explored places in the Borders connected historically to the Maitlands. Our little group of about 30 people bonded during our days together and truly became family, or kin as Ian liked to call us. We toured Thirlestane Castle and met our in-residence family members there, Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew. They were such gracious hosts. Edward and Ian entertained us with stories about the castle as we toured the rooms and shared afternoon tea together.

Debbie and I left Scotland, reluctantly, but with full hearts and connections with new cousins. Clan means family, Ian reminded us daily. I love my expanded family and I look forward to seeing them again.

2019 Year in Review Clan Maitland
2019 Year in Review – Clan Maitland in front of Thirlestane Castle

A New Adventure Begins

Exiting 2019, I leave with a kingdom that I’ve build with my own efforts, words and actions.  I’ll be leaving real estate by the end of this year, parking my license with Keller Williams.

It is time for me to expand my tiny kingdom. I have a new word and a new symbol for 2020, and big dreams and intentions. I am the Queen of Enchantment still though, the queen of my own kingdom. Creating my reality is my calling, along with helping others to live beyond comfort zones, limiting beliefs, poor health and fears.

Thank you for journeying with me. It means so much to me. I’m excited to see where I go this year, who I meet and what doors open! Join me on this next adventure during the Year of Curiosity.

Curiosity Quoye

Check out these books and products from 2019:

 


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.

I am an affiliate with It’s a Lovely Life and Blogging Blastoff. All opinions are my own.