Friday, May 25, 2018

The Reflection of Shadows: Letting Go

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Letting Go

Lessons learned standing at the edge of hospital beds:

Holding on is for you.
Letting go is for them.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Littering in Space and Other Musings

Society6Yael's Colors

Guys, I'm having one of those weeks (decades, possibly) where my brain just cannot. So I'm going to do some rambling and you can take it or leave it. *insert creepy 70's wink*

The Things We Do

Elon Musk launched a car into space recently. I'm sure you heard about it. Pretty jaw dropping, right? That was my first thought. My second thought was, "I wonder if aliens (assuming they exist and spy on us regularly) think we're a bunch of jerks for shooting a car into space for absolutely no reason other than that it could be done."

My last thought was this: "Did we just litter in outer space?" Those aliens would really think we're assholes then. I'm told things eventually disintegrate out there, so I feel better about it now. But still. Maybe we should shoot up something the aliens would really enjoy (and be able to share) like ice cream.

Just a thought.

Astral Projection

*Spoiler Alert for Magicians fans*

The hubs and I were watching an episode of Magicians where Penny had died, sort of, but not really because he had astral projected himself during the moment his physical body died. I started thinking about all the things we don't know about death and the after life. About all the various beliefs and ideas that we have yet to prove.

I came up with this very random thought: what if when we die our spirits/souls astral project into a new body in some other dimension? We might retain, to a certain degree, muscle memory (so to speak). This is why when we meet someone brand new we feel like we've known them forever because maybe, just maybe, we did know them at some point prior. Maybe this is why child geniuses are geniuses. They've remembered a past life where they excelled at something, where they mastered something.

I'm still cool with the whole heaven and hell gig, but I like to think about other possibilities every now and then. Ultimately, I believe there must be infinite possibilities we've yet to discover.

This Is Us

I'm a late comer to This Is Us but I am fully addicted now that I've discovered it. There are numerous things to love about the show, but my favorite is the way they portray marriage. There's such an endearing committed quality they loop through every storyline. Personally, I feel like it's hard to come by that in TV these days. There always has to be drama and scandals and chaos. I like how this show makes everything about the family, about the experiences, about honesty, and, primarily, about quality over crazy.

Jack's commitment to his family is beautiful. In one episode, where he's purchasing a car and telling the car dealer all about why that car is going to be important to his family, he reminded me of my husband. My husband is a husband. He's Jack in a lot of ways. He's involved in our life. He cares. He is loving and committed and dedicated to us in every way possible.

I have no point I'm trying to make here, I'm just bragging. What we have together is unlike anything I've ever experienced or thought I'd ever find and I feel infinitely blessed.

OK, enough mushy stuff. Sorry guys.

Bayou with Love

Nikki Reed is my spirit, you guys. I LOVE her. Not long ago she opened a company called Bayou with Love and they just started making the coolest recycled jewelry using gold that was being thrown out (gold being thrown out, can you believe that?!) in old computers. In partnership with Dell, they're addressing an issue and opportunity others have overlooked. You can read all about the awesomeness here and you can find all the cool things they've just rolled out here.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Reflection of Shadows: Say Something

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Say Something

Her eyes told a story of despair,
Of secret longings never shared,
Of things she held inside at night
Except when tears fell at her side.

Her ears took in words of anger, hate;
The rapid beat her heart would make
Each time a 'right' turned out a 'wrong'
For reasons she had never known.

Her lips held in doubts, secrets, fears,
Tightened together all those years.
Silent and steadfast, not one slip
Of all the things she should admit.

Her body betrayed her; warning signs-
Black and blue bruises she couldn't deny.
Damages that refused to be hidden
By sweaters and scarves, glasses and mittens.

Then one kind stranger changed her fate,
Saw those bruises, knew the pain.
Showed her courage, showed her hope,
Gave her the strength to leave her home.

Her heart: it will heal, it will learn, it will live.
Her mind will empty and forget.
Her life will start afresh and new
Because someone said something when they needed to.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gluten Free Tater-Tot Chili

Busy night, folks? I know. Me too. This recipe is easy (you can multitask for most of it) and yummy. Plus, when was the last time you had a tater-tot? I mean really. They're the funnest version of potatoes.

Tater-Tot Chili

 - 1/3 bag of Ore-Ida Tater-Tots (they're gluten free!)
 - 1 can of Amy's Organic Chili - Medium
 - 1 can of Amy's Organic Chili with Vegetables - Medium
Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people)

1. Follow baking instructions on the Ore-Ida bag: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake tater-tots for 20 - 25 minutes.

2. Go do something productive for 10 of the 10 - 15 minutes. See? It's a multi-tasking meal.

3. For the last 10 minutes of the tater-tots baking, combine both cans of the chili into a large deep pan or pot and stir until nice and hot. I like to add extra seasonings to the chili sometimes, like ground mustard, chipotle pepper, and some Italian herbs.

4. Once everything is done, serve it up! Pretend you're making a trifle in a bowl. One layer of tots, one of chili, repeat.

5. Go sit down and eat before you have to move on to the next task for the evening.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Reflection of Shadows: Control

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments


Let go.

Find a way.

Give it up,
Set it free,
Break away.

No more.

Say goodbye.

This will help,
It won't hurt,
Let it fly.

Monday, May 7, 2018

All Around the World: One Week In Dubai (and one night in Abu Dhabi)

Dubai, UAE

My desire to go to Dubai has increasingly grown over the years. As I'm sure you're aware by now, I'm game to go anywhere, anytime, for basically any reason, but the thing that kept drawing me to Dubai, in particular, was the architecture. That and the giant palm island they created in the ocean. What the...?!? How...?! I was dying to see all of it in person.

It was an amazing trip full of giant malls, amazing architectural feats, delicious food, and one very magical Christmas tree. You'll see...

Things To Do in Dubai

Dubai Mall
I'm not one to travel half way around the world just to go to a mall, but let me tell you, this is no ordinary mall. There's a gigantic water fountain, an ice skating rink, a tea house, what appears to be a shoe palace on the bottom floor, and many, many, many stores. While we hadn't planned on going to the mall for more than a moment to see what it was all about, it ended up being our central hub for pretty much everything we did. You can grab the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus there (see more on that below) and get a good meal (gluten free, too).

The mall is so big that if you need to grab a taxi you have to get in a Disneyland ride sized line. If you have dinner plans or a certain time you need to be somewhere, bake in at least 20 - 30 minutes for the taxi line during peak times. It. Is. Serious.

Dubai Fountain (at the mall)
The fountain was promoted rather heavily as a thing to do, but if you've ever been to California Adventure and saw the World of Color water show, you'd realize the latter is more impressive by far. That being said, it was still fun to watch. If this is a maybe on your list and you've got limited time, skip it.

The Walk at JBR
Beautiful beaches, cool stores, and yummy food = my kind of place. You have everything you need right here including some pretty impressive 3D murals. I highly recommend making this a stop on your list for a morning or afternoon of fun.

Burj Al Arab Hotel 
Holy rainbow architecture awesomeness! This hotel is so fancy you can't even go see it unless you have a reservation to stay or dine somewhere on site. The guards blocking the entrance will confirm your name, at which point you are allowed to enter...and enter you must, my friends. This place is ridiculously awesome.

Since we're not millionaires and can't afford even one night there, we instead opted for the most magical tea time ever at their on-site restaurant Sahn Eddar. It wasn't the cheapest tea time ever, but we unanimously agreed it was worth every penny.

While we're talking about amazing buildings, let's not forget the Burj Khalifa. Wow, is that sucker tall! We didn't go inside because we didn't feel like we needed to; the views of this baby from all over the city were excellent.

The Palm Islands
This was somewhat of a disappointment, only because the truth hit me hard once I was on the ground. It looks super cool from aerial pictures, obviously, but in person it just feels like any other normal place. I thought at least the palm frond sections would be cool to check out, but those are private houses and they don't exactly want a bunch of tourists hanging out in their front yards.  Those fronds, by the way, are massive in person. Giant stretches of land with huge houses all along them.

As for Atlantis, which is located on the The Palm, there wasn't a whole lot to see or do unless you were actually staying there or going to the water park, aquarium, etc. Our main goal was simply to see what we could, for free, so it was somewhat boring. That being said, we ended up having a great lunch on-site (more on that below), so all in all, it was a good adventure.

Shopping Souks
A souk is a shopping market, and you better believe Dubai has all kinds: spice, gold, old, new. You name it, they have one for it.

The Old Souk: Avoid this at all costs unless you want to be harassed A LOT. We had been checking out all the new, more touristy spots but I wanted to immerse myself in the culture a little more, so I thought this was a great way to go about it. I was wrong. So wrong. So, so, so wrong.

Yes, they offer some items (like local art work) that I hadn't seen elsewhere, but holy cow-OMG-arghhh! It is nearly impossible to even get through the place. Within 3.6 seconds of stepping into the souk we were bombarded by people trying to sell things. Do they take no for an answer? No, they do not. Do they leave you alone when you decline or ignore them? Nope, nuh-uh. Do they take a scarf they're trying to sell you and wrap it around your neck, then pull you into their store? Yes, yes they do. Persistent doesn't even begin to describe what we went through, you guys.

It was exhausting.

Now, for the good.

Souk Madinat: A newer, more modern-ish market. This is the place to be. It's gorgeous, there's a ton of great shopping for all kinds of things, and it's right on a beautiful water way where you can go on a boat ride and have amazing views of the Burj Al Arab hotel. For the most part, no one hassled us here. Only a couple folks tried to get me in their stores, in very polite ways I should add. I found amazing gifts to bring back home, delicious turkish delight (they let me sample everything and yes, it's gluten free), and the coolest Christmas tree ever! I could've watched that thing until the end of time. (I tried, actually, but my husband made me leave. Something about having jobs and responsibilities back home and stuff.)

Dubai Miracle Garden
Flowers: Bazillions of flowers everywhere you looked. On giant teddy bears, in the shape of hearts, on life sized adorable ant statues, on a real airplane. Ohmygoodness, wow, was this place incredible. Nothing I say can fully explain the flower magic, so just scroll on down and look at the pictures for yourself.

Dubai Global Village
Like Epcot center, but with way more countries. The Global Village wasn't even on my radar, you guys, but we got stuck in some epic traffic and our taxi driver recommended we detour here and enjoy ourselves vs. sitting in the car going nowhere. It was an excellent recommendation even though there weren't any rides or characters running around greeting you. It's more of a "get to know these countries" experience. You can walk into Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, China...the list is long. Inside each massive building are stores, food, and shows- all of which are local representations of the country you're visiting.

Just a smidge of the giganticness that is the Dubai Mall
A beach near The Walk at JBR
Amazing street art at The Walk
Burj Khalifa
Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Global Village

Gluten Free Dining in Dubai

Hit this baby up for a yummy, right by the beach breakfast. Not only was the gluten free breakfast sandwich wonderfully awesome, but the restaurant itself is super cute. When you're done, go for a stroll on the beach. And after that, go for a stroll on the main shopping strip (The Walk at JBR) because there's a boatload of awesome to check out.

A super cool tapas style dining service with so many gluten free options I was in food heaven! I highly recommend the chicken anticuchos.  *wink wink*

This uber chic Japanese restaurant impressed the heck out of us. The calamari and the black cod are musts, you guys. If you go here, order those. You will not be disappointed.

Burj Al Arab Afternoon Tea at Sahn Eddar
This seven course afternoon tea was the highlight of our trip. Not only did we get three hours of eating, drinking (tea), and relaxation, we got to see the gorgeousness that is Burj Al Arab. A win all the way around.

The majority of my gluten free items were amazing while there were some flavors that I didn't personally enjoy, like the saffron pudding/gelatin. All in all, it was pretty doggone awesome. One of the most significant differences between this afternoon tea and others we've tried is that you get endless tea. You can order a new pot, a new flavor, over and over and over and over. The service here was also excellent. These folks were on top of everything, every minute of the experience.

Bread Street Kitchen and Bar
Located at Atlantis at The Palm, this huge and superbly decorated restaurant offered some great gluten free options along with seriously delicious gluten free bread. You know, like the bread "normal people" get in a bread basket when they sit down at a table. I haven't had a bread basket in years. It was legit exciting to be treated like a "normal person." (Technically, it was a bread plate, but whatever. You get the idea.)

Arabian Tea House
This adorable outdoor tea house felt like a true nod to authentic Dubai cuisine. I was a little concerned they wouldn't have any gluten free options, but the waiter was helpful and I was able to try a couple different dishes. Plus, the house tea is worth trying. The outdoor setting was relaxing and pleasant, making the overall experience quite enjoyable.

Mmm mmm calamari
Arabian Tea House

Dubai Helpful Hints

Getting Around: Tram vs. Taxis vs. Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

The Tram
When it comes to getting around Dubai, the easiest thing to do is take the tram. It is by far the cheapest, fastest route to just about anywhere. One thing to be aware of is the section on each tram that is for women only. My husband accidentally got in there and a nice woman helped us understand that was a no-no. Don't worry, it's labeled once you realize what you're looking for.

Most do not accept credit cards (as of this post), so be prepared to have cash on hand. They are quite convenient and a must if you're going to places like the Dubai Miracle Garden or Global Village.

Hop-on Hop-Off Bus
Skip it! Normally, hop-on hop-off buses are excellent ways to get around and see everything, but not in Dubai. The traffic situation is terrible. It will take you HOURS to get around on the bus. You'll waste half your vacation sitting in traffic.

Cover yo'self. That's the rule of thumb if you're traveling to this part of the world. In hotels, restaurants, and yes, even malls, knees and shoulders should be covered (for both men and women). Pack lightweight clothing because it is nice and toasty, even in December. And pack your best digs. They have very specific dress code rules for basically everywhere, so expect to be dressed up all the time out of respect for their culture.

One Night in Abu Dhabi

I have been wanting to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for years, so it was a true miracle when our flight schedule allotted one evening in Abu Dhabi. While I would have enjoyed spending more time here, the two hour window we had before the mosque closed was all I needed.

The mosque is free of charge, but does have a strict dress code. I was covered head to toe and still had to put on one of their traditional burqas, which they also provide free of charge at the entrance.

For the one night we were there, we stayed at the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan. Luckily, this hotel is very gluten free friendly. I was able to get sliders (sliders, you guys!!!) for dinner. It was a great end to an awesome trip!

SLIDER heaven!

(Photos from Dubai posted to my Society6 page)

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Reflection of Shadows: Battlefield

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

(written to a tune)

Let's go to war.
Let's pick a side.
We'll widen the divide...

We'll live in doubt.
Doors shut, minds closed,
No room for building hope.

It's a battlefield!
It's all out war.
Love doesn't live here anymore.
It's a battlefield!
We're keeping score.
We're going to war.

No compromise.
So high, the cost.
Nothing is gained when everything is lost.

Words cutting deep,
Weapons of choice.
We launch grenades with each raised voice.

It's a battlefield!
It's all out war.
Kindness doesn't live here anymore.
It's a battlefield!
Resting in pieces...
We'll never reach
An agreement.

It's a battlefield!
We will not kneel.
This is the deal.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Reflection of Shadows: Each Day

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Each Day

Each day, with each breath I'm taking,
Is a moment I am faking.
I am smiling.
I am laughing.
I am perfect in the passing.

In the stopping, seeing, knowing,
I am breaking and unfolding.
I am gasping.
I am lying.
I am living through my dying.