Do you have a ritual that always works to get you out of your blues? Is there a book, movie or a spa treatment that will get you to turn your frown upside down in no time? I wanted to start a list of my favorite feel-good flicks. Here are my top 10 fav’s. Can you pick this up by adding a few of yours?
- True Lies (1994)
- Bridget Jones (Part 1 and 2)
- Big trouble in Little China (1986)
- Rocky (1976)
- He’s just not that into you (2009)
- Far and Away (1992)
- Miss Congeniality (2000)
- The Holiday (2006)
- Wedding Crashers (2005)
- How to lose a guy in 10 days (2003)
New Orleans had been on the top of my bucket list for so long that I almost did not believe my ears when my husband suggested visiting New Orleans for his Birthday in May 2015. We stayed at a hotel which was walking distance to the French quarters.
The first thing we wanted to do after the long flight was to stop at French Quarter and grab a drink. But the moment we stepped out of our hotel room it started to rain. Although I was hesitant to step out in the rain at first, I must admit it was the most amazing rain I have experienced in a long time. It made the muggy weather a tad cooler, but the rain felt warm and inviting to the touch. And when it stopped raining we dried up almost instantly.
I fell in love with the old style architecture; the cobbled roads and the old-fashioned houses with ironwork balconies painstakingly decorated. For a while, I felt like I was on the set of Midnight in Paris, where a nostalgic Owen Wilson (a screenwriter) finds himself going back to the 1920’s every night. Most of the French quarter’s architecture was built in the 18th century. There is so much going on here in terms of restaurants, shops, dive bars, concerts and more.
You really do not need to rent a car here. You can walk the entire area by foot. A lot of people chose to ride Rickshaws or horse pulled carriages. There are several musicians and artists performing as well as painters and artists selling their artistic works on the street side.
Jackson square is a famous landmark situated in the front of the French Quarter and throbbing with visitors, artists and musicians. On the opposite side of the square from the River are three 18th‑century historic buildings; St Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo (museum), The Presbytere (museum).
The Katrina exhibit at the Presbytere is an absolute must see. They have done an excellent job of making an honest and a heart-breaking exhibit of what happened during Katrina. They had snippets of personal stories both inspiring and shattering throughout the museum. I absolutely loved their video and the interactive map with a minute by minute demonstrations of which levees broke when and where.
New Orleans is famous for its Voodoo culture. You can see the French Quarter is full of Voodoo shops, tarot card readers, and palmists. Needless to say, Voodoo is different from palmistry and tarot, but I love everything occult. If you are into the occult as well, you will find plenty opportunities to try your hand here (pun intended)! I did visit the famous Marie Louveau’s place. I had absolutely no expectations but some of the stuff the palmist told me about was surprisingly true and there is no way he could have known it by simply meeting me. So thumbs up!
We took a bus tour around the city and showed us some of the worst hit areas during Katrina as well as some of old and archaic cemeteries. Here are some pictures from the 9th Ward and the neighboring wards. The 9th ward is closest to the Mississippi River and worst hit during Katrina. You can still see a faint yellow line on the light posts demarcating the levels that the water had reached during the outpour.
My favorite experience in New Orleans would have to be the Jazz performance at the Preservation Hall. The hall is a tiny place that seats no more than 70 people roughly. Be sure to stand in line an hour before show time. This place is always full! But I promise the wait is well worth the time. Preservation Hall is open for nightly concerts from 8 pm to 11 pm, seven nights a week, with the exception of certain holidays and special events.
New Orleans is nothing without its Art and music. And music literally pumps life into its arteries. You will find more talented street-side musicians and artists here than anywhere else! And you do not have to be an aficionado to enjoy it. New Orleans will somehow engulf you in its unique style. There are few moments in life when you feel you are standing in the face of something larger than life… something great. Being in New Orleans will definitely bring you face to face with one of these moments. It is a dream destination for anybody who loves History, music, art, wine, food, festival and loads of fun.
Sometime early this year, I decided to start a completely new exercise routine that I had been hearing raving reviews for; Tracy Anderson Method.
It all started with an innocent if at all a bit vain google search that read like “Body Metamorphosis”. As you can expect Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis popped up in the top 3 search results.
Tracy Anderson’s method is broken down in 4 DVD’s (1 dance video and 3 Muscular structure workouts). You even get to choose the Method based on your body type: omnicentric, abcentric, hipcentric or glutecentric. I decided to choose Omnicentric because I honestly could not figure out which body type I am… *gulp* :(
I started the routine like I start almost everything; full gusto…The DVD’s come with a small pamphlet of food plan with menu items that would fill your appetite if you were a bird …a sparrow to be precise! It also comes with a pamphlet to track your progress (which I actually loved).
Tracy wants you to do 30 minutes of her dance routine followed by 30 minutes of the Transform DVD. Each Transform DVD has 3 unique workouts and is supposed to be completed in 30 days after which you move on to the next DVD and so forth. Here is my honest unequivocal review of her method.
1) Dance Cardio: I really enjoyed the dance DVD the first few weeks. The first time I tried it I absolutely loved it. I was jumping around like a little girl in my living room and all the movement got my blood pumping and my mood elevated. The choreography is fun although difficult to follow at first, but Tracy does mention that if you cannot follow along you can freestyle it. I always believe that any exercise is better than no exercise and had no issues with free styling a large part of her moves. In the end, I was sweating like a dog and felt really happy almost euphoric.
2) Any exercise is better than no exercise. This is also true for Tracy’s method. Tracy wants you to get a combination of cardio and body transforming muscle conditioning exercises on a daily basis (6 days a week) in order to make the change happen. In that, it is pretty effective. Both the 30-minute dance and 30-minute muscular workouts got me sweating and my muscles exhausted. Her workouts are constantly changing which causes sufficient muscle confusion so you do not plateau and continue seeing results.
3) Muscular Transformation exercises are really good. This is not your typical High-Intensity Jillian Michael workout. These moves are mostly stationary done either standing or on your hands and knees. The focus is on intensity, repetition and muscle confusion. In just 30 days of working out to her routines, I did notice a definite muscle conditioning and my arms and legs felt stronger and looked more toned.
1) Dance Routine: Now for the cons. While I loved her dance routine the first 2-3 weeks, I started to tire off within a month of the same dance routine. The idea of using the same routine for an additional 2 months was really wearing on me. I even tried muting her audio and playing my own numbers, but I do enjoy variety. Also by the 3rd week my knees were really starting to buckle and hurt and I needed a break.
2) Muscle definition Transform 2 DVD. Tracy is the queen of creating hard to follow exercises and really does not provide sufficient instructions during the routines. What’s more each week her workouts got not only harder but I feel: quicker and jerkier. What I mean is that she does not give you enough time to move from one sequence to the next, and I almost always ended up jerking my neck and back. I really did not enjoy her Transform DVD 2 and for a couple more weeks went back to her Transform 1.
3) Diet Plan: I cannot speak enough on how dangerous, amateur and irresponsible her meal plan is. The fact that I tried to follow it for a couple weeks is something I am really not proud of. To start with I was not doing her workout to lose weight but to tone up. Her meal plan assumes that you are either a sparrow or you are working out to lose tons of weight. The truth is even if you are trying to lose weight, if you are exercising as much as she wants you to, it is essential to give your body wholesome nutrition so it can sustain the new and strenuous exercise routine. Her meal plan clearly lacks detailed research. I felt it was loosely put together without making sure that you get a good combination of proteins, minerals, carbs and fat required to sustain a healthy body. In just 2 weeks of following her meal plan I lost 4 pounds (which I did not need to) but I also lost tons of hair (which I definitely did not want to). I have since thrown away her diet plan and continued eating a balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Overview: Even though I only lasted on Tracy’s method for a Month and a half in all honesty her workout cannot be completely dissed. Her muscle-conditioning routines are good and you do feel the burn in a very short time. I would have continued with Tracy Anderson’s workouts if the moves weren’t too fast, jerky and complicated for me to follow. I am taking a break from her workouts and am instead doing Piloxing by Viveca Jenson which I absolutely love and will soon do a review of. In all honesty if you are able to follow Tracy’s moves you will see results but be prepared to be really patient and expect little instructions during the program.
To me beauty is not just about being attractive or following the latest trends in fashion. Beauty comes from feeling good and being confident and that happens when you are comfortable with who you are and how you look. It may be a cliche but beauty starts with beautiful skin and having a beautiful skin takes time and consistently following a good skin care regime.
Over the years my choice of beauty products has evolved, but one thing I would never do is go to bed without removing my make up and having a squeaky clean face. After cleansing I apply a moisturizer with Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. But If you cannot do anything in the very least never go to bed without removing your make up. Some women swear by just applying olive oil or coconut oil as a deep moisturizer. For me, I need something more potent; something with Retin A, Vitamin C, Glycolic acid and a great delivery system to allow it to penetrate into the skin to do its magic and bring about the change.
If you are looking for a new skin care regime then visit me on my Mary Kay website. For a limited time I am offering free make up remover, 20% discount, free shipping and tons of product samples on all your purchases.
But you don’t have to buy my products to have beautiful skin. Remember the secret to beauty is cleansing>exfoliation>moisturizing and doing this consistently until the end of your life or until you chose to have beautiful skin.
You can count the perfect patterns of her expression
in the creased symmetry of her blue-green curtains.
Measure the dimensions of shadows or flashes of smile
that rise and fall on the contours of her face.
You can trace the magic inside the creases of her bed.
Even capture her colored energy in the pale peach taffeta ribbon
lying on her dressing table.
Admittedly, the color of her skin is harder
and more fleeting to taste
like eclairs au chocolat melting in your mouth.
Everything in the room is where it was when she left.
She took nothing with her
but the lily-white brilliance of her eyes.
India is famous for its ancient monuments and their unrivalled architecture. Here are some pictures of old temples some of which are well preserved and others in ruins. Yet even the ruins are a great testimony to how incredible these monuments must have been in their day. It makes me proud to see the mettle of mankind when properly channelled! I hope you enjoy the intricate craftsmanship of these old pillars and ruins.
Weekly Challenge: Motion
True … Spring is not officially here until March 20th this year, but these specious blossoms are a welcome reminder that she is ready to wake out of her slumber any moment and stretch out fully revived into her majestic splendor.
I loved this week’s Photo Challenge posted by Cheri Lucas. I must admit I never before gave a thought to how we are intrinsically attuned to decorating our walls with the best life has offered us; be it scenic paintings, pictures of friends and family or decorative items that we have collected over the years. We love to deck our walls with beautiful things!
Walls can divide neighbors but they can also reveal our emotions and feelings. They can be a statement of who we are. Here is an assortment of pictures taken randomly over the years. Agreed they are not necessarily all walls but sometimes things are are loudly present in their absence. Enjoy!
Goa’s 63 mile long coastline offers a long expanse of exotic beaches. The water is always lukewarm and the sand is soft to touch. The beach is studded with tiny sea shells and starfish. I found it best to enjoy the beaches early in the morning at dawn or around sunset because during the day time the heat is almost unbearable.
Unless you are staying at one of five star hotels don’t expect to find the shacks to be glamorous. Personally I loved their rustic beauty. I was never disappointed with the food and the amazing scenery for pennies on the dollar.
A local shack
I enjoyed going to the local market with my dad and we bought a variety of fruits like passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, gooseberries, dragon fruit, raspberries and many more. The Goan soil is so fertile it is a haven for fruit and vegetable lovers. Goa grows bananas (sweet as sugar), papayas, coconuts, cashew, sugarcane, bamboo, rice, Pineapples, chilies, betel nuts and much more. The locals also sell homemade coconut oil. While coconut oil is said to have many therapeutic qualities one does need to be conditioned to its smell. Some people may find the smell to be offensive. I am into all kinds of organic beauty products and found coconut oil to be an excellent hair conditioner. I applied it at night and washed out my hair the next morning so I would not reek of coconut oil during the day. The results were very satisfying ;)
Given below are pictures of Tambdi Surla a 12th century Hindu Temple one of the oldest temples in Goa, India. The temple is situated in thick forest and there are small villages surrounding the temple. When I visited Tambdi Surla last year (2014) I was greeted by a flutter of butterflies at the very entrance of the temple. The sight was absolutely unforgettable. It was so sudden and unexpected that I could not even take a picture. This year I was especially looking out for the butterflies but did not find any. I did catch a quick glimpse at these birds flying away the moment our car approached.
Shown here are pictures of St Michael Church Orlim Goa one of the oldest churches in Goa. I loved the austere beauty and serenity of this church. Every second Sunday of October, the little village of Orlim in South Goa brightens up with festive fervor at the St Michael Church. The village feast brings together a crowd of around 2000 locals who attend the service and pray to their patron saint. This year, October 13 will see the feast of St Michael celebrated with joy.
Varca is one of the most touristy beaches in Southern Goa. But in the morning you can have the beach almost to yourself. If you are lucky, you will be able to catch dolphins playing by the shoreline. There is a row of wooden fishing boats seen on the beach that belong to the Christian fishing community.
Popular beach resorts in Varca include the Radisson White Sands Resort, the Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, and Serenity Residency. On the way back there are plenty of small stores where you can shop for clothes, Indian Jewelry, carved furniture, brassware and other souvenir type items if you so choose. Be prepared to bargain. As far as clothes are concerned I found some name stores such as Fab India and Biba to have the best quality products. I enjoyed the Tulsi Chai Masala and sampled some of the beauty products at Fab India (I am a bit of a skin care fanatic and always try out local beauty products everywhere I go!)
Here are some pictures of Miramar Beach, one of the most populous beaches in the capital of Goa: Panjim. This beach is situated at the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. Boat rides offered at very reasonable prices will take you through a pleasant boat ride where you may be able to capture some beautiful coastal scenes as well as water life.
While Goa is beautiful because of its rich history, beautiful beaches, exotic cuisines, lush greenery it is not void of faults. Be prepared to see a lot of trash and waste carelessly discarded by people all over the state. I was surprised to see that the beaches did not even have a single trash can to allow people to discard their waste. I also noticed that visitors carelessly throw their beer bottles on the beach which is a big safety hazard. The government is implementing a much needed “Swach Bharat” (Clean India mission).
But if you are open to an adventure and an exotic vacation on a tight budget then definitely consider beautiful Goa as your next stop; a haven of natural beauty, a vibrant culture, peace and spirituality.