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Wiggin' Out

28 January 2012

To celebrate the birthday of a dear friend, we decided to surprise him with a wig party.
Michael turned 40 this year {you'd never believe it looking at him!}
He's a very special soul and I'm so glad I can call him a friend.
M was monk for 8 years, and left the ashram after being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease {or Lou Gehrig's disease as we say in the Good Ol' US of A.}
After suffering from MND for only four years....M has lost movement of every body part except his head, and he can barely speak.  He still has full mental capacity and the use of all five senses...but the brain does not properly communicate with the body's like they are numbed.
Anyhow, we had a wonderful meditation together, a delicious feast, and way too much fun with our wigs :)

Also, a friendly reminder to enter the Valentine's Day Giveaway, if you haven't already!
It's not a sponsored giveaway or any of that jazz...just me spreading the love with an item that's sure to bring love & joy to others, too.

Book Club Friday

27 January 2012

I'm linking up with Heather for Book Club Friday.

I promise this is the last time I'm dedicating a post to The Hunger Games {are we up to 3 mentions now?!?  Eh, who's counting.}
Here's the thing peeps, you've got to read this trilogy.
You'll love them.
It's impossible not to.
To be honest, I'm normally pretty critical of the popular books that everybody and their brother are reading.  I tend to think they are predictable, or lack character development, or don't explore any noteworthy topics.
But that's not true of this trilogy.  Yes, you will get hooked on page 1.
However, the characters are well developed--you'll love them, and hate them, and be scared for them, and hope for them, and cry for them.  The author explores the {not so pretty} realities of children who grow up in war-torn countries.  The story is very beautifully told and imaginative.
The movie will be released in a few short months, so the perfect time to read is now.

Seizing the Day

26 January 2012

Ashley over at The Shine Project put out a challenge to enjoy the small things.
To take time to stop and smell the roses.
To stop thinking about the past, or worrying about the future, and just be present.
So today, when my meeting unexpectedly got cancelled, I decided to do just that.

I seized the day.
You see, the husband & I are members at the zoo,
where they just happen to have tiger cubs.  Three tiger cubs.

The last time we were there, the line was reeeeeeeally long.
But I've been dying to see them ever since.

The weather looked like it could rain any moment.
What better time to go to the zoo and avoid the crowds?
And boy am I glad we did!
Can you handle the cuteness?
 {Mama tiger}

 {Mama tiger making sure I got a close-up}

 {Santa gave the tiger cubs a yellow saucer for Christmas.  It's their favorite play toy.}
 {It's like a one-man seesaw}
 {Until my brother comes along to play}
 {Finally all three together, playing!}
You know what's even better?
It was the cubs' birthday today!
They are five months old.
Weighing in at about 20kg each, they are starting to wean from mama.
To celebrate their birthday, they get a frozen blood treat {yummm} and a weekly weigh-in {oh joy!}
 {Still growing into my big, ol' paws}
 {Pigmy Hippo}

We continued seizing the day when we found out the free bird show was about to start.
Does the view get any better than this?

A visit to the zoo is never complete without the giraffes.
I want a miniature giraffe sooooo bad.
I provided my husband with the relevant information at Christmas time.
See, aren't they awesome?!?!?!
I think he didn't want to spend the money.
So he told me they don't exist.
Then how do you explain the giraffe-cam, mister?

{P.S. I installed a new program for commenting.  All old comments are hidden--but not gone--I promise!  This new program should be pretty rad, let me know what you think.}

Indian Cooking

The hubby and I love Indian food. 
We also love "one-dish" recipes.
So I tried a new one last week....

Aloo Gobi Mattar {aka Cauliflower, Potato, and Pea curry}

I adapted the recipe from here {read, left out ingredients that were hard to find or seemed frivolous.}

1 head of cauliflower
6-8 boiler potatoes
1-2 cups peas
1-2 cups veggie stock

2 Tbsp. ginger, minced {I buy this already done in a squeeze bottle}
5 cloves of garlic, minced {I buy this already done too...can you sense a pattern?}
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. garam masala 
{this is a mixed spice powder, which I had to purchase from an Indian grocery store}
2 Tbsp. ground coriander {read cilantro}
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. lemon juice

You can follow the rest of the instructions for the linked recipe.  The end result was pretty if I were making it again, I'd cut back on the chili powder and garam masala.  Hubby loved the spice though, so I just added greek yogurt to cool it down for me.

If you like tons of flavor, this is a great dish!

Sister Fun

I've been playing 'Words With Friends' with my sister.
Sometimes she creates silly words like turd.
Then I create the word hair.

And then the following conversation ensues...

I love my sisters!

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

25 January 2012

In honor of Valentine's Day
My 2nd Wedding Anniversary

I'm happy to announce a Valentine's Day themed Giveaway!

One lucky winner will win the coolest little kitchen gadget that will help you spread the love to your hubby, kidlets, or anyone else you want to cook for :)
That's right, it's a heart-shaped egg pan.  Does it get any cuter than this?  I think not.

The pan will ship from the US, so you'll get it in time for V-Day.
Here's how you enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Night at the Theatre

We have this really awesome, art Deco theatre {or picture palace, as they like to call it} about 500 metres from our house.  It's a pretty well known landmark, so we always use it to describe where we live.

Have we ever been there?  Of course not.  In seven months of living here, why on Earth would be choose to walk 500 metres to the movie theater.  Instead, we drive to all the "big box" theaters in mall.

However, that all changed last night!

Check out how awesome this place is....

This place is so, so cool.  And they do things like a "Gremlins & Beetlejuice" double feature.  Of course, I'm kicking myself for not taking advantage of this place sooner.  

We saw Hugo in 3D.

In my opinion, this movie was pretty meh.  Apparently there's been quite a bit of hype about it amongst the critics {or so my husband claims.}  It was a cute story for all ages, but the plot moved very, very slowly.  They should have cut an hour out of the movie and sped up the plot, or spent more time on character development.  

The story felt pretty predictable to me, so I was quite surprised when the movie finished and my husband exclaimed "that was awesome!  I couldn't tell where it was going and they told such a good story.  They don't make 'em like that anymore."  So go figure!  

I'm also officially giving up on 3D.  I just don't like it.  The effects don't add anything for me, and at times they are downright distracting and nauseating.  

What did y'all think?  Anybody else see Hugo and have a different opinion?

Introducing....Tuesday Travel Diaries!

24 January 2012

Hi guys, I'm super excited to introduce a concept that's been floating around in my brain for awhile now.  This concept now has a name....Tuesday Travel Diaries.  The basic gist is that each week, I'll have a guest author write about a place they've traveled to...chocked full of pictures, travel tips, food recommendations, etc.  

As much as I love Trip Advisor {and I do love Trip Advisor}, there's nothing better than getting the travel scoop from a person you know, and who you share common interests with.  Hopefully it will inspire all of us to start planning that next great vacation!

So, to kick off Tuesday Travel Diaries and get y'all acquainted with the format, I'm going to share about my trip to India. 

The basics: where, when, & how long?
I traveled through the Northern parts of India {Delhi, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dwarahat, Calcutta, Varanasi, Agra, and Ranchi.}  We began in mid-October 2011, and the trip lasted 4 weeks.

What route did you take?  And how much was the flight?
I flew Sydney-->Singapore-->Delhi on a code share between Qantas and Jet Airways {an Indian airline.}  The flight cost $1,400 roundtrip.

Who did you travel with? 
Part of what made this trip so awesome, is that I traveled with my dad.  He had been to India twice previously, and volunteered to join me when I expressed some interest in going.  It's so rare to get much solo father/daughter time as this felt really special for both of us.  We got so many remarks from people about how sweet it was to see us there together.  However, most of the Indian people thought we were married {shudders} and often tried to give us a room with a single bed {no thank you.}

Tell us where you stayed.
We traveled around a lot, so I won't go into specifics.  Between the seven different locations, we stayed in hotels in four cities, and ashrams in three cities.  The ashrams were definitely a more basic accommodation {sharing rooms, very sparse, bucket bathes}, whereas the hotels tended to be pretty Westernized and quite comfortable. 

{You see a lot of Swastika symbols in India.  Turns out the Nazi's stole it from them and changed the orientation.  It actually has a very sweet meaning in Hindi, that far outdates the Nazi's.}

Did you encounter anything unexpected?
For the most part, our travels were very smooth.  Particularly when you hear the horror stories of people waiting four days before they can buy a train ticket.  All our flights and trains were booked in advance and ran as scheduled.  We did encounter a sweet surprise in Varanasi.  Our tour leader had a personal connection with a family who plays classical Indian music, and he arranged a private, rooftop concert for our group.  It was outrageously awesome! 

How accurate are the stereotypes?
Well, you always hear that India is an assault on the senses--the smells, the sights, the sounds.  I found this to be absolutely true, but in a good way.  It's so interesting to be in a place that is so different from home...I just loved looking at every single sari and piece of fabric.  The colors are so vibrant and so beautiful.  

You also hear about the poverty and hygiene concerns in India.  From my experiences, that's pretty accurate as well.  One-third of India {one-third, people!} is below the poverty line.  So there's quite a bit of evidence of basic housing {many people living together, sometimes no indoor plumbing} and beggars on the streets.  However, I really saw another side to the poverty as well, and that took the form of industriousness.  Indians work very hard, and function as a community.  For what I can tell, they are just has happy, if not more so, than your average Westerner.  

And, yes, I did see people pooping on the train tracks. 

Tell us about the food.
The food was AWESOME!  And dirt cheap!  You could eat your heart out for $2-3.  People are always very worried about picking up some intestinal bug in India.  This is where having a tour guide is so critical.  I went with a guy who's been doing India tours for over 20 he knew exactly where to eat, and reminded us of the simple things {no ice, no raw food unless it's been peeled} that kept us healthy.  In fact, I might have gained weight in India!

{Gotta love Indian advertising...haha}

Were there any must see’s?
The Taj Mahal, for starters.  It really lives up to the hype and is an absolutely stunning building.  Teams of people worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 15 years to construct it!

{Taken at sunrise.  The smog in Agra is starting to ruin the morning view.}

Additionally, there were many "must see's" for me related to my meditation practice and the rich spiritual heritage in India. 

Do you have any regrets?
 None!  I got to see, do, and experience everything that I hoped for {and so much more!}  Well, I suppose I do have one regret....I got a massage at one of the hotels and they gave me a very young {early 20's} guy as a masseuse.  Let's just say, the massage was not very relaxing {cue weird heavy breathing} and a lot of time was spent on unconventional areas.  I definitely won't be doing that again!

{The monks at the ashram setting off fireworks for Diwali...the biggest Hindu celebration of the year, signifying the victory of light over darkness.}

Would you go back?
Yes, without any hesitation.  It's funny, you know, because I wasn't sure how much I would like India. I kind of thought "I'll go once, see what I want to see, and be done."  As it turned out, I loved every minute of my time there and I was not ready to leave, even after 4 weeks.  So I would absolutely go back, if and when I have the time & money.  

Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
I'm normally the girl who loves a relaxing, beach vacation.  I prefer 4-5 star hotels, or a rustic little cabana situated on the sand.  So taking the leap to go to India was definitely outside my comfort zone.  I found the people to be so sweet and so just made the trip wonderful and totally blew away my expectations.

{I gave my earrings to this special girl, Anita.  She had little sticks in her ears prior.}

{Anita loved my camera.  She took about 50 photos that were blurry, upside down, or had a finger covering the lens.  Then she took this beauty.  Amazing.}

Thanks for sharing my India adventure with me.  I hope you enjoyed it :)  If you're interested in sharing a travel adventure for the Tuesday Travel Diaries, please E-mail me at emmyjuneborninmay{at}  
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