Friday, August 28, 2015

A Friday Photo and Natural Beauty

Today's Friday photo was taken a few days ago here in Wiltshire. This was the view as we drove home. It was a gloriously beautiful day! I love the wide open fields and the curvy roads.

It was a wonderful day :-)

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Spotlight: Being In Oneness

We live in a world that seems to get louder and more frantic daily. That's why it's really wonderful to find ways to calm our minds and find peace within. We can find that peace in a variety of ways such as through music, prayer, meditation, reading, or even taking a walk in nature, just to name a few.

In the new book Being In Oneness by Suresh Purushothaman, readers can find a wonderful motivational source that contains uplifting short phrases that can inspire readers in their day-to-day lives. The book focuses on varied themes such as happiness, fear, success, achievement, and much more. Being in Oneness is filled with positive affirmations that gently encourage readers to reflect upon their own lives and open their minds to new ways of thinking.

Suresh Purushothaman was born in Pondicherry, a Union Territory of India that was once a French colony. His childhood and most of his life was spent there. For the last sixteen years, he has been living with his wife and son in London. He has always wanted to put his thoughts on life and happiness in a book to share with others. Two years ago a potentially life changing illness inspired Suresh to finally put pen to paper and complete this little book to share with others.

He has definitely done a wonderful job of offering his sincere insights on a variety of subjects with the ultimate goal of inspiring readers to find inner peace. After reading this lovely book, I came away with the feeling that these short phrases and reflections shared by the author come from a place of real truth. There is a simplicity that is refreshing and I found great comfort from Suresh's words. As a reader, I could sense that this author has been on a journey in his life and these are the lessons that he has learned along the way.

“I have seen success and failures in my life. I have experienced many emotional and financial challenges and I have come out unscathed. I have written this little book to share my thoughts with people seeking happiness in the truest sense”.
  - Suresh Purushothaman

A couple of my favourite passages from the book are:

"Believe in your oneness. That's the roadway to your happiness."
(From Being In Oneness - p. 40)

"Trust yourself and follow what comes naturally to you. It's the key to your happiness and a fulfilling life."
 (From Being In Oneness - p. 66)

Being In Oneness comes in a handy pocket-sized paperback form so it's very easy to carry around with you every day. It is also available on Kindle with beautiful photography that enhances the experience of enjoying the wisdom in these pages.

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book and I would recommend it to anyone who is seeking out something inspirational or calming. I certainly found myself fully engaged. One thing that stood out very much for me about this book was how it made me think and to think in a way that I had not done before. I will definitely be revisiting this little book again and again. This was a wonderful read!

Being In Oneness can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Tale of Two Notebooks

My weekend was good. We went into town to run a few errands and then we headed home and did a bit of our ongoing decluttering. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'm really enjoying this purging of things and rediscovery of things that had become lost in the shuffle. You can read about that here and here if you'd like to. I'm still enthralled by the rediscovered pink hand. Lol. I'm easily amused.

The photo above is emblematic of my weekend. The grey and white notebook on the left is my new beautifully inexpensive notebook that's just the right size...on the medium side of things. As you know if you've visited me before, I love to jot things down, so having a fresh place to do that is everything. I'm going to try to be a bit more organized with my jotting down with this notebook and not have little pieces of paper scattered everywhere. Fingers crossed ;-)

The other half of this photo is the date book on the right from 2013. It's in that category of rediscovered things. I love the happy cover first of all, but looking inside was a treat too. I love the time capsule nature of date books or journals because you can see what you were up to day-to-day. Often it's just some little thing that jumps out at me, not the big things in life. However, in the end, I've found that those little things are the real stuff of life. Who knew that decluttering and rearranging things would be so rewarding.

Have a great week! :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Friday Photo and Pre-Blue Moon Quiet

Today's Friday photo is a continuation from the last couple of Fridays. I guess that it's turned into a series :) Anyway, this is the last of the group taken on July 31, 2015. 

As I mentioned in my previous posts here and here, we went to watch the full blue moon rise on that evening and saw a fantastic sunset and the beautiful blue moon. It was a glorious evening and one that I won't forget for a long time. The awe-inspiring beauty has definitely stayed with me. 

The photo above is the midpoint of the whole experience. I had just cast my eyes upon the wondrous power of the setting sun in the west and then I turned my attention the other way to the east and saw this haunting lull between the stars of the show...the sun and the moon. 

When I see this photo, I can "hear" what I heard that evening...the quiet, as a slight wind blew across that Wiltshire hill as we waited.

As with the sunset and the full blue moon, I'm grateful to have witnessed nature's grandeur in this quiet moment. And I'm glad that I can share it :)

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Delicious Bacony Rice

This is my first food post for a while. I used to post photos of my culinary creations a lot, but I must admit, I don't cook as much from scratch as I used to. I'm trying to get back to it as much as I can. I just don't have the time like I used to. But I'm trying :)

Anyway, as we take a trip down blogging memory lane, let's stop here and gaze at the photo above. All I have to say first is BACON! Mmmmmm!!! I love bacon. It's probably my favorite food...I think. Lol.

Let me stop veering off the topic at hand. Okay, this photo above was taken on Sunday right before I dived in like I had no good sense ;-)

This is something that I came up with in trying to use the foods that I had on hand. Let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! I'm no great cook, but I cook well enough that I won't starve or anything. Here's the thing, I'm not really good at cooking from recipes for some reason. When I cook from recipes my food turns out weird. Lol. So I guess that I'm a non-recipe type cook. Works for me :)

This rice dish has bacon, onions, peas and various spices that I just kind of threw in here and there. The strength of this dish is the slight sweetness of the peas contrasting beautifully with the saltiness of the bacon. The onions and spices give it that zing. Yum! I thought about this bacony rice for hours after we finished eating. In fact, I'm salivating thinking about it now. Lol.

Next time I'm gonna have to make a bigger batch so I'll have some leftovers now that I know what I'm making. I hope I can remember everything I put into it :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Television Spotlight: The Unshakable Hagia Sophia

There are many fascinating places on our planet. Some are created through nature and some have been created by the imagination and skill of human beings. One subject that intrigues me is architecture and how that expression of creativity and function is all around us. I'm always enthralled by wondering how different structures came to be, from the idea through to the completion.

I was recently was given the opportunity to see the documentary, The Unshakable Hagia Sophia by Gary Glassman, which looks at one of the world's most magnificent structures, the Hagia Sophia. I was fully absorbed by the film as experts investigated how it has remained standing for 1,500 years.

The Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul and is one of the most visited sites there. It was originally commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 532 AD. The building remained a Christian basilica until 1453, when it was converted into a mosque after the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Since 1935, it has been a secular museum. It is open for all to experience its remarkable dome and glorious art.

Photo courtesy of PBS America

Istanbul sits precariously close to a major fault line and has withstood many earthquakes over the centuries. One question for experts and visitors has has the building survived so many threats from various earthquakes?

A team of architects, engineers, and scientists have been studying the structure in order to uncover its secrets of longevity. They have used radar, laser, computer technology and various other techniques to discover what is continuing to hold up the walls of this massive building. I found it very interesting to watch the team build a model from bricks and mortar and then place it on a hydraulic platform in order to put the structure through various tests. The painstaking detail was fascinating because they had to get the dimensions just right after scaling down the model to a workable size. Their challenges were a lesson in trial and error.

Istanbul may very well face more earthquakes in the future and scientists are doing their best to understand how they can help the Hagia Sophia last for another 1,500 years. Nothing is immune to the destruction of natural disasters, but this team's research can hopefully shed some light on the future of this magnificent structure.

Photo courtesy of PBS America

This documentary has certainly made me very interested in learning more about the Hagia Sophia. The architecture is truly extraordinary to behold.

The Unshakable Hagia Sophia will be shown on Tuesday, August 18th on PBS America in the UK at 7:50pm and 11:40pm. It will also be repeated on Wednesday, August 19th at 12:25pm and 5:30pm. PBS America can be viewed on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media channel 276.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this film for review. I received no compensation. All opinions are mine.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Friday Photo and Blue Moon Beauty

Today's Friday photo is part of a matching set from my experience of seeing a glorious sunset and the beautiful blue moon on the same evening. This photo was taken on July 31, 2015. You can look back at last week's photo here if you'd like to see the sunset that I saw.

As I mentioned in that post, the sunset photo turned out fantastic, but the full blue moon photos didn't turn out as well. They were a bit fuzzy for the most part. Lol. This one is probably the best of the lot. It was definitely a case of the real view and the real experience being better than anything that I could capture :-) Still, I like this photo because it reminds me of the serenity that came over me as I saw that beautiful moon inch its way up into the eastern horizon. I love blue as you know if you've visited me here before, so I loved the blue tinge of the sky. The whole evening was a gorgeous display of colors with the fiery oranges, purples, and golds of the sunset in contrast with the cool blues surrounding that pearlescent moon. I love how the moon's light is seeping through the grass along the edge of the field.

What a beautiful sight!

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rediscovering Forgotten Things

As I mentioned in my previous post, we've been doing our spring cleaning a little late and have been doing a bit of summer cleaning around here. It's been very cleansing in a physical and spiritual way and I have to admit I've enjoyed it quite a bit. The energy is definitely changing because we are getting rid of things that we no longer need and it's freeing. We're donating whatever we can.

Another side of this little project of ours is the finding of things that we've forgotten. It's truly like opening a time capsule to my first years of living here in England, which began in March 2006. Rediscovering these various pieces of my recent past has most certainly put me in a reflective mood.

Last weekend when I went through some things that were in storage, I came across this beautifully quirky pink hand thing shown in the photo above. It's funny...I don't remember when I got every single thing, but I remember this hand vividly. I bought it in 2006 for about £5 (roughly $8). It's supposed to be used as a place to hang jewelry, but I remember just thinking it was so weird-looking and I had to have it. I love me some weird. Lol!

It got put in storage with the intention of making a special place for it, but the days and years flew by and it got lost in the shuffle. Well now that I've found it again, I'm gonna have to find a place for it. It's not my customary blue, but the deep pink works for me too. They didn't have a blue one ;-) In case this is your first time visiting, you can read about my love for the color blue here if you'd like.

I'm intrigued to see what I rediscover next! :-)

Until next time...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spring Cleaning in the Summertime

How was your weekend?

Mine was pretty good. I didn't work on my book, but I got some reading in which was good. The only other thing of note is the ongoing cleaning that me and my other half have been doing around the house. It's spring cleaning in the summertime. Lol.

I do my best to stay on top of day-to-day ongoing cleaning, but we decided a few weekends ago to do a bit of deep cleaning. We've been purging things that we no longer need and I must say it's felt good. We're doing things in sections so it hasn't been overwhelming and it hasn't taken up the whole weekend...just a couple of hours on Saturdays. There's definitely something to be said for the energy in a space changing once you rearrange things or get rid of clutter. I never thought I'd say this about cleaning, but it's been quite fun. Who knew? ;-) Hey...we know how to have a good time. Lol!

I hope that your weekend was great and that you have a great Monday!

P.S. This picture above is hilarious to me...her mouth is open like she's either sighing from exhaustion or cussing somebody out who isn't coming to help her carry all of that stuff. Lol!

Until next time...

Friday, August 07, 2015

A Friday Photo and Glorious Shows in the Sky

Today's Friday photo was actually taken last Friday on the very last day of July 2015. My other half and I went out further into the Wiltshire countryside because I wanted to see the blue moon unobstructed. I love seeing the full moon as often as I can when it first peeks above the horizon. It's always a beautifully moving moment for me to see it like that. It looks so much larger at that point and it looks so much more tangible. Also, seeing the beginning of its rise just strikes something within me that makes me feel so connected to nature and to our universe.

So we were out waiting for the blue moon to rise in the east...minding our own business, when the sun decided to show out! Lol. Isn't this a beautiful sunset? The colors were just breathtaking and my camera didn't do it justice, but I hope you like taking a look.

Seeing this sunset reminded me of how lucky we are to live on this beautiful planet. With all of the turmoil that we hear about daily, it was so glorious to be reminded that no matter what...some things, like the sun and the moon, are just timeless, constant, and amazing! They remind me to continue onward always.

I was so grateful that we were there to witness the day ending with the golden light of the magnificent sun in the west, as the cool and luminous beauty of the gorgeous full moon came up in the east. What a beautiful experience!

My moon photos didn't turn out as great, but I'll share a couple of those next Friday, so I hope you'll visit me again.

Have a great weekend wherever you are! :-)

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Book Spotlight: Butterflies Dance in the Rain

I love reading poetry and I often think that those who are gifted with the heart and soul of a poet are blessed indeed. I'm always enthralled by the way that poets weave words into something beautiful that can touch us so deeply.

In her new poetry collection, Butterflies Dance in the Rain, poet Colette V. Paul gives readers a moving testimony which covers the subjects of love, tragedy, self-discovery, racism, the environment, and a variety of universal themes. Ms. Paul definitely has a way with words. She offers readers an opportunity to see the world through her eyes, while still striking a chord of recognition in us, as we relate to what she is saying. This is a very personal collection that unflinchingly explores the poet's innermost thoughts and as a reader I came away very appreciative of her candor and realness.

This collection begins with "Dear God Letter", which is a very personal plea that many of us can relate to in our own lives. Ms. Paul asks for more guidance and clarity in her life in this simple and honest poem.


Dear God Letter

God, speak to my spirit
Show me how to reach my purpose
Help me to be an open channel to filter stories and poetic words
God, show me how to balance my life 
I need to hear you clearly
Turn my restlessness into focused energies 
Help me to excel as a successful, prolific writer
And give me the courage to walk the path and make it happen.

(excerpt from Butterflies Dance in the Rain by Colette V. Paul)

In "Music is the Life" the poet takes us on a journey with her through her love of music and lets us feel how it has elevated her life. Ms. Paul's writing skills are on full display in this lyrical poem as her words have a musicality to them. There is of course no musical accompaniment, but the music is still there laced within her words.

"Mystical Nights" is another atmospheric poem that recalls the romance associated with trains and the unknown destinations to which they travel. Ms. Paul beautifully describes the sights and sounds and ponders these mystical trains as vehicles to her own destiny.


Mystical Nights

On a crisp February night I’m in a foreign land of mystical trains inviting me to step into my destiny
The new moon and stars shine as they witness
The sounds of the engines stir my spirit as busy streets sleep

Some trains are colorful as a Ferris wheel while others shine like spinning kaleidoscopes
Others are red as the Georgia clay baked by the sun
Men stick their heads out from time to time
As they work on the great machinery as they carry their lanterns
The trains will take me to my dreams on a world-class ride.

(excerpt from Butterflies Dance in the Rain by Colette V. Paul)

A very compelling selection is the aptly-titled "For What?". This is a poem that is haunting in its narrative about the injustices suffered in America throughout our history and it's timely because of the continued injustices that we witness in the news each day. It is an account of a mother who wants to protect her son from the noose by sacrificing herself to no avail. She calls her tormenters out strongly and drops some truth on them that echoes through the ages. This is a powerful poem.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole collection. There are so many high points within these pages that it is hard to pick a favorite. This is a beautifully written collection that will be a pleasure to revisit over and over again for years to come.

Colette V. Paul will be signing copies of her debut poetry book on Saturday, August 22nd from 3pm to 5pm at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Culture Center in Atlanta's Historic West End. Please go by and pick up your very own autographed copy!

If you're not able to attend the signing, Butterfiles Dance in the Rain is available on Amazon here.

You can find out more about Colette V. Paul at her website
She can also be found on Facebook , Twitter , and YouTube

And here's a special treat...Ms. Paul performs selections from her book. Enjoy!