November 30, 2013

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Took an early morning tuk tuk ride to Sigiriya, the next UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list. So glad we went early. Not only did we beat the heat, but also avoided the crowds.

The soaring pillar of rock called Sigirya does not disappoint. The entire site is quite lovely, and the views from the top are spectacular.

The frescoes are located in a sheltered gallery in the sheer rock face, and are believed to represent either apsaras (celestial nymphs), or King Kassapa's concubines. One of my fave sites of the trip for sure.

November 29, 2013

Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Spent Thanksgiving visiting the Royal Rock Temple complex in Dambulla. Did not miss the turkey one bit.

The hike up to the caves is steep in parts, but offer superb views of the surrounding countryside.

The caves' history as a place of worship is thought to date back to around the 1st century BCE. There are five separate caves with about 150 Buddha images. Delighted to have visited another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 28, 2013

Mihintale, Sri Lanka

Mihintale is associated with the earliest introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

Started out the day with an early morning thirty minute tuk tuk ride. Good thing we got an early start, climbing those 1843 steps in the heat would have been brutal. 

The views from the top were spectacular. 

November 27, 2013

Rick Hanson on Hardwiring Happiness

I remember reading about how we are negatively biased a while back. A light went on when I read that. It is often so much easier to recall and obsess about the bad than the good. While there is a good evolutionary reason for this bias, it does not help us today. I love this simple way to change our stone age brains.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

November 26, 2013

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Buddhas, Dagobas and Monkeys oh my! Spent the day biking around this ancient capital, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is so much larger than I expected, and incredibly scenic. Am glad that we decided to stay four nights, giving us plenty of time to soak it all in.

November 25, 2013

Recent Reads

128. Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds
This is the second book in the Morning Star trilogy, and the fifth book of the Griffin and Sabine story. Danger, passion, and romance unfolds, but I did not enjoy this book as much as the others. I love Egypt as the main setting, and the artwork is lovely, but the letters were not as interesting. I hope the author finishes strong. Rating: 2 stars.

129. The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated
This is the final book in the Morning Star trilogy, and the sixth book of the Griffin and Sabine story. As much as I love the idea of the story and the artwork, the final two books in the series did not captivate me. Rating: 2 stars.

130. Fables, Vol. 8: Wolves
Book #8 in the Fables graphic novel series is an ode to wolves. Bigby goes on a mission. A beanstalk is involved. I like Cinderella more and more. Action, adventure, a growing litter, and yes, a wedding. Fun. Rating: 3 stars.

131. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Let me start by saying that I am not a Zombie fan - is fan even the right word? If there are Vampires and Lycanthrope, count me in, but Zombies? Nah. So imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed this audiobook. The Zombie Wars almost eradicated human kind, and after the war, the author interviews people from all over the world to record their first person experience of the battle. The author wonderfully captures unique voices with each character, and I would highly recommend the full cast narration version of this book. Rating: 4 stars.

November 24, 2013

Sri Lankan Breakfast

This is my current fave brekkie - bread with coconut sambal, daal, and the best dang fish curry I have ever tasted. Went to Serendipity Arts Cafe in Galle twice to get me some. So good. My second fave brekkie involves string hoppers. I am in foodie heaven.

November 23, 2013

Galle, Sri Lanka

Took the early morning train from Hikkaduwa to Galle today. About a 45 minute ride, which cost Rs. 40 for 2nd class - about 30 cents US. How the heck do you beat that?

The old town is contained in a 36-hectare Fort, and its walls protected it during the 2004 tsunami. New town, the parts outside the walls, was severely damaged with 10,000 dead. 

We walked the walls, watched a bit of a cricket game, and meandered along the little streets of this wonderful place, now recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

November 22, 2013

Opening night at Yula's

A big night for my sister and her hubby. Opening night of their beach bar. Delish drinks in such a lovely place.

November 21, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 45

This is week 45 and I continue to love this project. Still playing the catch up game, but it is fun to go back and look at what stories I want to record for the week. Highlights this week include my baby sister getting married and the good company of friends. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper  by Shabby Princess. Arrow card by Katie. Journal cards by Melissa and Melanie.

November 20, 2013


After about thirty hours of travel arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka last night. Headed down the western coast to Hikkaduwa where we met up with with my sister and my new bro-in-law.

Spent today walking the beach, swimming in warm waters, catching up and sampling local delish food. I might never go home!

November 19, 2013

Recent Reads

124. Fables, Vol. 7: Arabian Nights (and Days)
This is book #7 in the Fables graphic novel series, and this book introduces some of the magic from the Arabian fairy tales. It got me thinking about how fairy tales reflect specific cultures, and reminded me of fun childhood afternoons when I traveled by magic carpets and commanded D'Jinns. Rating: 3 stars.

125. Lonely Planet Sri Lanka
When I'm planning a trip there are certain travel books that are my go-to guides. Turns out that many of my go-to companies do not publish a book on Sri Lanka. Seriously? Been dipping in and out of this guide book, highlighting, planning, dreaming, getting excited. While this is a good overall introduction, it is not of the caliber I expect get from Lonely Planet. Rating: 3 stars.

126. This Moose Belongs to Me
This children's picture book explores some important themes: nature is wild, cannot be controlled, and belongs to everyone. Wilfred thinks he owns a moose, but the moose has other plans. The art is cute, and I can see how kids are captivated by the antics of this moose. Rating: 3 stars.

127. Skim
Two things made me pick up this graphic novel: the cover art, and it is highly rated on GLBT graphic novel lists. This coming of age story, explores interesting themes: sexuality, first loves, teenage suicide, trying to find out who you are at sixteen - usual teenage angst. The sketchy black and art is interesting, but I felt that the story did not dive deep enough. It skimmed (pun intended) these topics, and I did not connect with either the story or the main character. Granted, I am not the intended young adult target audience for this book, so maybe it is just me. Rating: 2 stars.

November 18, 2013

On the road to the Isle of Serendip

My day started with a 2:30am airport pickup. First leg of the trip - Boston to New York. A little bumpy from the leftovers of the storm that spawned all those tornados in the Midwest.

This what I've got with me for a month trip. Carry on bags. Lesson learned many years ago: travel light and fill up on experiences and memories.

Here we are at JFK waiting for our flight to Dubai. 

November 17, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 44

This is week 44 and I continue to love this project, even though I am behind again. Have been focused on other creative projects and getting ready for the trip. No worries. I plan on working on my project life pages for my trip after I get back. I have a goal to be all caught up before the new year, and am okay with that. Highlights this week include my adorable nephew Jonah and enjoying fantastic fall weather. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper and arrow journal card by Katie. Journal cards by Melissa. Halloween card by Cathy. Journal card by Traci. 4x6 collage template by Liz

November 16, 2013

Journal page

We are in the final forty eight hours before our Sri Lanka adventure. This week has been all about collecting, deciding, purging, sorting, figuring it out. We are organized. We have lists. We add and check off items on the list. Progress is being made. Love the anticipation before a big trip.

This page in my journal was so easy to do. I pasted down a colorful napkin that I had in my stash. Used my girl mask, and brushed on some acrylic paint. Easy peasy.

November 12, 2013

On the Road: Photographer proves strangers are friends you haven't met yet

While on the T the other day (that is the subway for all you readers not from the Boston area), I noticed how many people had their eyes directed at something in their hands - books, phones, tablets, etc. In an almost full carriage, I was one of only five people who actually looked about, made eye contact, and smiled at each other. What was even more interesting, the woman across from me was not reading her Kindle. I know this because we shared the entire ride, and she kept peeking at others from under her lashes.

What are the ramifications of this kind of isolation for us a species? I am no Luddite, but there is something strange about being in close quarters with other human beings and not making simple contact no? So imagine my delight when I saw this video (via Pam). Does this not look like a better world to live in?

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

November 11, 2013

Recent Reads

120. Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons
This is book #5 in the Fables graphic novel series, and this one moves the story along. Political changes are afoot, we have a wolf flashback, and babies are due. Fun. Rating: 3 stars.

121. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Here is what I knew going into this memoir - the author's mother dies and leaves her journals to her daughter. And the journals are all blank. Every single one of them. As a life-long journal keeper, this fascinated me. 

The writing is wonderful, and lyrical, and incisive. I found myself copying entire paragraphs into my own journal. But here is what I wish I had known going in. This book is setup as fifty four chapters, but these are not so much chapters as journal entries. Snapshots. Condensed nuggets. Some are only a paragraph long. The author meditates on voice: what it is, how we find it, how we use it, how we lose it. And she reflects on her mother. What do all those blank journals represent? 

Instead of reading this memoir in about three sittings, I wish I had read a couple of the very short chapters and then reflected for a while before diving back in again. So loved her writing, and will read other books she has written. Rating: 4 stars.

122. Fables, Vol. 6: Homelands
This is book #6 in the Fables graphic novel series, and moves the story forward using two plot lines. In the first one Jack heads to Hollywood and into the movie business. In the second one Boy Blue is on a quest to rescue Red Riding Hood and take down the Adversary. I had figured out who the Adversary was a couple books back, and was interested to see how that person came to power. I liked the second story line better, and best of all Mowgli makes an appearance. Rating: 3 stars.

123. Beautiful Ruins
This book weaves multiple stories into a lovely mosaic. Nothing much happens, and yet I was sucked into the lives of these people. How does Jess Walter do it? A story of the lives of ordinary people doing the best they can. Throw in the Italian coast, Hollywood star power, and skilled writing, and you get one heck of a fun read. I've added his backlist to my TBR pile. Rating: 4 stars.

November 7, 2013

One Little Word 2013: November

As part of OLW, I'm pairing up my word with an intention for the month and focusing on three goals. Here is the card I created for this month.

Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

November 5, 2013

Refillable Travel Journal Inserts

I am about two weeks away from my trip. So excited. Here are the inserts I've made for the journal experiment I'm doing this time around.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

Links mentioned in the video:
Refillable Travel Journal.
My Turkey journal.

November 4, 2013

Recent Reads

116. Fables, Vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers
This is book #4 in the Fables graphic novel series, and the series just gets better with each book. This is my fave of the lot so far. Boy Blue and Red Riding Hood? Who knew? Men in black. Goblins. War is in the air. Such a fun read. Rating: 4 stars.

117. How to be Idle
There is this notion that we seek out books that validate things we already feel, and if that is the case, I am guilty as charged. As a person who did not grow up in the States, I have lived in cultures that celebrated two hour lunches and lots of vacation time, and I have never really understood the American work-obsessed culture. Now, I do admit to falling prey to it myself, after all I did not want to seem lazy, but thankfully I realized before I hit the grave that there is more to life than work, and that interesting people do not ask "what do you do?" upon first meeting you. 

This book of twenty four essays might just start a resistance movement. Funny and insightful, with chapter titles like The Death of Lunch, The Nap, and Time for Tea, this is a lovely way to remind ourselves that we are not machines. We are human beings, not human doings. I would recommend this book to every high school and collage graduate as a reminder to take long walks, call in sick more often, and nap as needed.

My fave chapters:
Waking Up is Hard to Do
Sleeping In
The Death of Lunch
The Nap
The Ramble
Time for Tea
The Art of Conversation

Rating: 4 stars.

118. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
If you are creative person, does it follow that you are also crazy? I mean look at the company you keep - Virginia Woolf, Vincent van Gogh, Leo Tolstoy, Emily Dickinson, and my fave boy crush, Michelangelo, among others. Who would not want to be in that company? 

This graphic memoir is a fascinating look inside the author's head after she is newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the episodes of mania and depression that follow. Insightful, informative, and disarmingly honest. The author experiments with a cocktail of meds and behavioral changes in the search of balance, and struggles with the romanticization of the crazy artist. Considering the topic, this is a really fun read. Rating: 4 stars.

119. The Subtle Knife
This is the second book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and while targeted for kids, it is also a fun read for adults. I listened to the multicast audio version, which is wonderful.

Yes, there is lots of action, and witches, and angels and specters, but what impressed me about this story is the exploration of science versus religion, dark matter, and quantum mechanics in a way that is easily understandable by kids. I got my 10 year old nephew hooked, and he gobbled up the trilogy in a couple of weeks. I look forward to seeing how this story wraps up in the final book. Rating: 4 stars.

November 3, 2013

One Little World 2013: October Update

Seriously, am I the only one shocked at how fast time is flying by? At least with daylight savings time I gained back an hour today.

Remember these were my goals for the month:

And how did I do?

It turned out that my focus for the month changed quite a bit from what I had initially planned, and I am OK with that. Things happen, and I am going with the flow. So here are the specifics.

Goal #1: Widen my community. While I did not get around to making this a priority this month, I did make some new contacts. I know for sure that this will make it on my list for next year. Something I read recently has stuck with me: Go stand next to the brightest light in the room. If you are the brightest light in the room, find another room.

Goal #2: Volunteer. Did nothing here, and something that I want to add into my life for next year.

Goal #3: How can I help? This gets to the heart of an interesting issue for me. When I hear people complain/kvetch/etc, my instinctive reaction is to "fix the problem". Sometimes that is exactly what is needed, but other times, what the person wants is for me to simply sit with them while they caterwaul on and on. I am learning to take a deep breath, and ask the simple question, how can I help? This has really changed at how I look at situations for the better, and something that I will continue to incorporate into how I listen and am present.

All in all, am quite proud of my efforts and accomplishments. I hope you had a great month. Let's see what November has in store.

November 1, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 43

This is week 43 and I continue to love this project. The boat projects continue and I for one am hoping for a fun sailing season next year. Highlights this week include successful boat projects, celebrating a friend's birthday, October baseball, and a fun evening with my brother and his family. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

 Left side:

 Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Shabby Princess. Textured card by Melissa. Love this element by Katie. Info card by Michelle. Graph paper by Shimelle. 4x6 collage template by Liz.  Baseball teams from the web.