Sunday, April 29, 2012

z is for... Zapatos and Flying Zapatos

Thanksgiving Weekend 2010, Loch Ness

 Zapatos - or shoes - have been a fascination of ours... well - taking pictures of them at all of the cool spots we have been. 

On my way up to the top of Mt. Vesuvius

It started with my dad.  Several years ago I was looking at some of his photos from a trip, and there were his feet with a cool bay in the background.  He said he always takes a 'foot shot' wherever he's been, so he knows that he was there!

Zapato-less - the Alabaster Mosque, Cairo
Needless to say, we, as a family, have adopted this philosophy...

and for the Flying Zapatos....

Over the Tuileries Garden, Paris

...and this completes my A to Z Challenge.... YAY!  I did it!

thanks for going along with my crazy posts


Saturday, April 28, 2012

y is for...Yin Yang

If yin and yang do not exist, the One (the Great Ultimate) can not revealed If the One cannot be revealed then the function of the two forces will cease, Reality and unreality, motion and rest, integration and disintegration, and clearness and turbidity are two different substances. In the final analysis, however, they are one. 

If you look at the Taoist symbol of Yin Yang, you see that there is a seed of one in the other.  You will also notice that it is in constant motion, flowing from one to the other, as life should be - balanced!

Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites, unseen (hidden, feminine) and seen (manifest, masculine), that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time. 

The Sun is yang while the Moon is yin. 

Female is Yin while Man is Yang. 

Mountain is Yin while the river is Yang. 

Intuitive is Yin while Logical is Yang. 

Winter is Yin while Summer is Yang.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday HodgePodge #1

Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 75

I am a little late to the party, but saw this on one of the blogs I visited for the A to Z Challenge.  It sounded like a lot of fun... so 
                                          Here I go....

1. William Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated on April 23rd...when did you last read Shakespeare? What's your favorite Shakespeare play? 
I read a sonnet or two within the past year... I think.  I was helping with homework, and got lost in the sonnets.  Favorite play?  Haven't read/seen too many of the plays, but I would have to go with Twelfth Night, for several reasons.  1 - We had the opportunity to see this in a Cambridge University Garden (yes, in England) - on a Summer's night.  2 - The movie, She's the Man is based on it, and I love this movie, and 3 - In Shakespeare in Love, Queen Elizabeth asks Shakespeare to write a play for Twelfth Night, and that is how the movie ends!

2. What food(s) would you recommend a foreign visitor try when they visit your home country?
Being in the American Southwest, I would have to make a Mexican Feast!  We did this for some British friends, while living in England.  The gentleman was 45 years old, and it was his first time to eat a taco!  They weren't too sure about the 'spicyness' but loved the guacamole!

3. What's a lie you often tell yourself?
I have already seen this one on a couple of blogs that I have visited, but it holds true for me too... I will start exercising tomorrow! I really do want to, but one thing or another prevents me - the stars are aligned so - why should I fight it?!?

4. What's something you're good at that might surprise us? Remember this is a family friendly blog!
I would have to go with cooking.  I don't know if that is surprising, especially for anyone that truly knows me.  But I love to cook, and I am in the process (another lie? - I really am in the middle) of writing two cookbooks!

5. Who is your favorite animal character from a book?
Easy - Einstein in Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee.  He cracked me up!

6. April showers bring May you have a green thumb?
It may have a green center, but have to get passed the brown edges!  More watering, I am sure...  I love philodendrons as they are very hard to kill, and very forgiving!

7. Speaking of rainy days...which one of the following activities would you most want to spend time doing on a rainy day-

sort photos and create albums
bake cookies
read a good book
hold an all-day movie marathon
organize closets, cupboards, or bookshelves
try a new recipe
fix something that needs fixing
Let's see, I will bake cookies (maybe a new recipe) while reading a good book... then will give my arms a break by watching a couple of movies... is that cheating?!  It would be a perfect way to spend a rainy day!  
Definitely NOT a closet cleaner or fixer-upper!  And no patience to do photo albums, though I have a ton of photos that need to be organized!

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
Random is as Random does!  I have really enjoyed doing this A to Z Blog Challenge.  It has been completely off-the-cuff and a lot of fun to be creative.  Plus, I stuck with something (well, for at least 24 days so far) - which gives me hope that maybe tomorrow IS the day to start exercising!

x is for... Xanadu

no, silly, not the movie, but what the word actually means...

Xanadu - a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment

What is your place of great beauty, luxury and contentment?

Besides being with my family - being near the ocean is a great start!  It has to be a rocky coastline, as that is what I grew up with, and that is true ocean beauty to me!  None of this flat, endless beach for me!

Then there is the house... rustic, massive windows (that some one else cleans often!) and very comfy furniture everywhere, with handmade quilts and afghans.

Then there is the library!

Something like this.... but I would have to redecorate!

And a fantastic kitchen...

          don't forget the king sized bed to fall into every night...

                                    and the two-person claw-footed tub with a
                                        hot water heater large enough to fill it

                                                    an awesome sound system...

and room for my family to be all together!

That's my Xanadu

(oh - and everything completely paid for so we don't have to worry about money!  We would get our 'pin' money from our organic eggs and our hydroponically grown vegetables and herbs that we sell to local restaurants!)

What's yours....

and for those who wanted to see ONJ sing Xanadu...
 here's a little 80's magic for you! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

w is for... my Wish for you!

Haliewa Beach, O'ahu

“This is my wish for you: 

                                 comfort on difficult days,  
    smiles when sadness intrudes,       
                                                          rainbows to follow the clouds, 

                            laughter to kiss your lips, 

hugs when spirits sag,
                                                sunsets to warm your heart,

                           friendships to brighten your being, 

    beauty for your eyes to see,   
                                                       faith so that you can believe, 

                    confidence for when you doubt, 

                                            patience to accept the truth, 

            courage to know yourself,

                                         love to complete your life.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

v is for... Versailles

 Walking towards the gilded fence, one is struck by the magnificence of Versailles, most well-known as the palace that housed Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.  As we were going through the grounds, I tried to think of what it must have been like to be a courtier there - walking with my massive wig and huge 'hips' through the various pleasure gardens.  It would be quite the exercise, that is for sure.

The mobs had quite a trek before them to get to these gates as Versailles is 20 km away from Paris.  During the period when court was in session there, it was a full day's carriage ride to get to Versailles from Paris.

The opulence has been slowly restored since 1789 - when the king was deposed and the state took over.  It wasn't until the 1950s that Versailles was truly made in to a museum - yet it is still used today for certain political functions - and it's not hard to see why.  The famous Hall of Mirrors is still used to welcome various heads of state.

The ceiling in the Hall of Mirrors
If you go through Versailles, and don't look up - everywhere - you are missing out on the best art.  The ceilings are truly incredible, and include picture frames!

The gardens are amazing, and we were there on a chilly day in April last year.  They are also quite extensive. 

The beautiful 1,300-room building is more than a quarter of a mile long, with paintings and sculptures by major European artists, all set in a 250-acre garden-park with pools and plantings and fountains laid out in geometric patterns.  - Versailles Interesting Facts

We actually rented a golf cart to drive all through the gardens, as we had a time limit (needed to be back in the city for a very unique dinner experience!) - but it gave us a chance to see many of the private areas, lakes and fountains.

I would highly recommend, that if you go to Versailles, go for the entire day.  It is well worth it as there is too much to explore.  Our trip there was too fast, and I would love to go back when the fountains are actually on, as well as be able to see Trianon - the mini-palais of Versailles.

Here are some more websites on Versailles
Fun Facts

Monday, April 23, 2012

u is for... Unusual

the very word is a bit odd, isn't it?!


[uhn-yoo-zhoo-uhl, -yoozh-wuhl] - adjective
not usual,  common, or ordinary; uncommon in amount or degree; exceptional: an unusual sound; an unusual hobby; an unusual response.
1575–85; un-1  + usual

extraordinary, remarkable; rare, strange, singular, curious, queer, odd.

I love Google - I clicked on it to find unusual things, and what do I find on google, but a giant zipper down the middle of the screen!  And you type in 'unusual' and here are a few unique links I want to share:

Unusual & Unique Hotels of the World 
40 Unusual Websites you should bookmark (a bit dated - but cool nonetheless)
16 Unusual facts about the Human Body  
Unusual Life - unique website that features Unusual Homes, Amazing Architecture, Strange Places 

Look closely - there is a person that is part of the painting...
The above picture is one still from the movie 'Where the Heart is' with Dabney Coleman and Uma Thurman- I love this movie for the artwork pieces that are in it!  

"A sane person to an insane society must appear insane"
 - Kurt Vonnegut

top ten Favorite Characters

Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters in Books

Featured Meme from The Broke and The Bookish

     1.      Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride &Prejudice - Lizzy Bennet is the ultimate in perfect characters - she's intelligent and has a sharp wit, she's human and doesn't mind acknowledging that fact, and she fell for a man because of his house!
     2.      Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion by Jane Austen (they make such a wonderful couple and didn’t want to list a book twice!) - I love this tale of second-chance love.
     3.      Anne Frank in Diary of a Young Girl - This story has stayed with me for years - what an amazing girl in the face of such horror!
     4.      Einstein in Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee - This quirky dog was great and made me wonder what my dog thinks.
     5.      Merlin in Once and Future King by T.H. White - Hey, I want this wizard on my side, teaching me how to be a better ruler - and a better person.
     6.      Evie, or Evelyn Green, in the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White - She's sassy, she's smart - she's a teenager - and she carries a pink taser with rhinestones!
     7.      Mr. Bear in Edith and Mr. Bear – The Lonely Doll Series by Dare Wright - He's a wise bear with a big heart!
     8.      Bubbles Yablonsky in the Bubbles books by Sarah Strohmeyer - When I need a giggle, I turn to Bubbles to make me laugh!
     9.      Winnie-the-Pooh created by A.A. Milne - Who doesn't love a cuddly ol' bear all stuffed with fluff!
     10.   Warwick Lawton in A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly - He made the story!

     Looking forward to seeing who your all-time favorite book characters are!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

t is for... Tall Buildings

Whatever city we find ourselves in, if there is a tall building, we go UP!  And this from a person afraid of heights!  But you have to give props and pay homage to those who have created these great edifices. 

When we visited Paris, we waited in line for about 2 hours just to get up into the Eiffel Tower... and the tippy top was closed, there were so many people there that day.  But we were able to get up to the 2nd etage right at sunset... and it was a full moon night...truly magical!  And we gagged lollies long enough that we were there for the lights to come on!  Very cool!  (note...just because it is on the way down.... walking down over 700 steps still hurts your legs!)

In no particular order, I have been in the Seattle Space Needle, Tower of Americas in San Antonio ( and really expensive drinks!), the Empire State Building - twice!

I still wonder how they fit both a staircase AND an elevator, rocking chair thing, up in the St Louis Arch - or is it one of those things that you think you go up, but it's just a hoax!

The Washington Monument doesn't look that big... until you get up close!

I loved how they light up the London Eye and the surrounding park in the winter!  Very Cool!  We actually went into the Eye three times - different times of the day and the year.  I know it's not really tall - but it is super hip!  Did you know that it was originally going to be a temporary exhibit - just for the Millennial Celebration?

Then, of course, we had to do the Ferris Bueller in the Sears Tower...

The one tower we did not get a chance to ascend was in South Korea - the Seoul Tower.... simply because they would not accept an American Dollar Bill - which was worth about 5 times the actual price of the ticket in the Korean Wan currency.... but, hey, we got to see dried squid on a clothes line and a guy making cotton candy using a bicycle to spin the sugar!

I think that about does it.... What tall buildings have you been in?  Any recommendations?!

review: Supernaturally

Title by Author: Supernatually by Kiersten White
Series (if applicable): Paranormalcy series, book 2
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2011
Page Count:  336
Source: library
Blurb: Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.

My Interest in this book is: I loved Paranormalcy that I had to read the next one… and love the cover!

My Review:

Evie has learned a little more about the creature that was killing off the paranormals, but is in for a shock when she learns more about herself.  The first thing being that being ‘normal’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Her boyfriend is at college, and she is living with an emo vamp who wants nothing more than to be a fashion designer.  Evie also learned that the IPCA did a little more harm than she thought.  But that doesn’t stop her from taking a few side jobs with the IPCA, as it has changed since the attack.

This second book in the series was filled with the same great characters, plus some new ones.  It is also filled with more action, and typical teenage behavior on Evie’s part…. Well, typical Evie, that is… doing what she wants and then thinking about what she’s done.  She’s smart and sassy, but begins to doubt herself a bit as she learns more of what she is and what she can do.

One thing that did bother me was that Lend was a bit more non-understanding of what Evie was doing with the IPCA.  He didn’t support her in what she was doing, and the main part of that was trying to find out more of who she was and where she came from.  There is also Jack, a human raised by faeries, so he could travel the Faerie Paths – and would take Evie along to different places, to do questionable things.  I was kind of surprised at Evie for going along with Jack… kind of like “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

Even though there seemed to be more action in this story, it didn’t knock my socks off as much as the first book did.  It’s a bit darker, understandably, but did not have as much of the ‘fun’ as the first one.  I am, however, looking forward to the last book in the series to see how the battle between the faerie courts is fought, and will Lend be by Evie’s side for the battles that will be sure to ensue?!   

Favorite Quotes:
“Gorgeous and smart.  I’m a lucky girl.  But, umm, it’s kind of creeping me out to be attracted to you when you look exactly like your dad.  Glamour shift?”

“What, shattering my one remaining fantasy wasn’t enough?”  Faeries didn’t have wings and bordered on evil; pixies were dirty, feral, and tended to bite; and mermaids had neither glorious hair nor seashell bras.  Now this about unicorns.  Sometimes reality sucked.

After a frustrating half hour, I finally caught sight of a glamoured corpse head in the middle of a crowd waiting for the Ferris wheel.  He had his arm around a pretty young thing in an incredibly weather-inappropriate outfit that showed off her very slender, very blood-filled neck.  She stared at him in that vapid, intoxicated way employed only by women under a vamp’s control.  Or the way I sometimes get when faced with cupcakes.
Mmm. Cupcakes.

When I finished this book, I felt: Slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as humorous as the first, but it was still a very good story and now I have to wait for the conclusion!
Rating: 4 Stars
Other books to read by this author or theme:  Make sure to read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  A good parody on the whole paranormal genre.
Tag: paranormal, humour, romance, teenager, mystery
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