Monday, June 30, 2014

Annual Goals: An Update

Annual Goals 2014 UPDATE

2014 Resolutions:

12.  Lose 10 Kilos.  

2.8 kilos down

11.  Do 1 Pay-it-Forward/random act of kindness each month
Completed 1 or more pay-it-forwards each month thus far (sending scarves, chocolate, books)

10.  Improve my Turkish seriously
UPDATE: Excellent course at the Turkish Language Center in Izmir.  Perfect opportunity to improve my ability to make sentences, review vocabulary, learn new vocabulary and grammar, learn how to ask questions, and enjoy a little real-life in Turkey.  Very satisfied with progress and practice.  

9.   Improve my French seriously
no progress! 

8.   Pass 2nd Arabic course/ Continue to improve Arabic seriously
Passed the exam for elementary Arabic!  I am now officially a pre-intermediate student.  Enrolled in American Military University's Arabic 100 class and scored 100% on my first quiz  an second quiz (its a LOT easier learning a multiple language when the instructor speaks English!).  Very happy with my progress.  

7.  Watch 1 documentary/historic film per month (12 total)

January- Jerusalem: Center of the World (recommend- shows the beautiful architecture and features scholars from each of the three main religions present in the city.  Discusses history, sites, and traditions)

February- Islam: Empire of Faith (ok)

March- China's Lost Girls  (short but very interesting story and serious situation)

6.  Learn to cook 12 new things
7 done, 5 to go!
Afghan Samosas

Turkish Coffee

Polish Salad

Swedish Meatball Sandwich

Moroccan Tagine

Potato Dill Salata, Turkish style

Double-layer kofta balls 

5.  Read 120 Books (priority for non-fiction)

70 done-

1.  Lipstick Jihad:  A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America by Azadeh Moaveni (Recommend- great exploration of being bi-cultural, not quite fitting in anywhere, and all the issues that plague Iran.)
6.   The Hiding Place by Elizabeth & John Sherrill (highly recommend)
8.  Sweden- Culture Smart! by Charlotte DeWitt
9.  The Swedish Secret: What the United States Can Learn from Sweden's Story by Earl Gustafson
10.  Culture Shock! Sweden by Charlotte Svensson
11.  Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric by Veronica Buckley (good info, but painfully slow-moving.  First 50 pages were not easy to push through, but it picks up now and again the further along I read.)
12.  What Happened to Sweden?  While American Became the Only Superpower by Ulf Nilson (highly recommend.  honest commentary, great voice- really a pleasant read in terms of a history book.  short, sweet, and informative).
13.  Swedish Lessons:  A Memoir of Sects, Love, and Indentured Servitude. Sort of.  by Natalie Burg (a bit crass, but a funny story)
14.  In Honor of Fadime: Murder and Shame by Unni Wikan (HIGHLY recommend.  Very nice compliment to this book).
15.  Of Swedish Ways by Lily Lorenzen (includes some folk songs and proverbs- nice)
16.  Drinking Camel's Milk in the Yurt: Expat Stories from Kazakhstan by Monica Neboli
17.  Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis  (I didn't like this compilation of stories as much as the volume she did for Iraqi children, but still worth reading).
18.  Untold:  A History of the Wives of the Prophet Mohammed by Tamam Kahn (interesting, but a little annoying- includes poetry the author wrote in addition to the biographies of the women)
19.  Favorite Wife: Escape from Polygamy by Susan Ray Schmidt
20.  My Estonia: Passport Forgery, Meat Jelly Eaters, and Other Stories by Justin Petrone
23.  Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures by Marvin Harris (feels a bit preachy- some interesting ideas but feels very much like an agenda and not so much an honest discussion- Harris is a cultural determinist and makes little effort to balance perspectives)
27.  The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major (Thanks Susan & Bri)
28.  Culture Shock!  Belgium by Mark Elliott
29.  Stories from the Silk Road by Cherry Gilcrest (really lovely illustrations, recommend for children)
30.  I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish (highly recommend for all people)
31.  Quran and Woman: Rereading the Scared Text from a Woman's Perspective by  Amina Wadud (highly recommend for all Mulisms)
32.  Religions of the Silk Road by Richard Foltz (HIGHLY recommend for those interested in the ebb and flow of various religious traditions- Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity)
34.  Strong was her Faith! Women of the New Testament by J. E. Kalas (recommend)
35.  Women in Islam by Nicholas Awade (highly recommend- nicely organized by topic)
38.  The Road From Morocco by Wafa Faith Hallam
39.  Stolen Lives: 20 Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir (recommend)
40.  Journey to Freedom: Moroccan Stories by Sascha von Bornhiem (do not recommend)
41.  Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman (Thanks Amy!- HIGHLY recommend, very informative and compelling)
42.  Culture Shock!  Morocco by Orin Hargraves
43.  Moon Over Marrekech: A Memoir of Loving Too Deeply in a Foreign Land by  Nazneen Shiekh
44.  Hussein & The Nomad by Rahal Eks (very interesting story- slightly graphic- about the gay male experience in Morocco).  
48.  A Year in Marrakesh by Peter Mayne
50.  In Arabian Nights:  A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah (recommend- i love both of his books they include pen-sketches he does.  great story teller and amazing life- survived torture in a Pakistani prison and bought/renovated a villa in Morocco.)
51.  Culture Smart! Morocco: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture by Jillian York
55.  American Sniper by Chris Kyle (recommend)
56.  The Couscous Genie: 3 Tunisian Stories by Mohamed Bacha (interesting folk tales, but poorly translated)
57.  Four Fantastic Tales from Tunisia by Mohamed Bacha (similar to his other book, including some errors-it is a shame, these would make lovely children's books).
59.  Dreaming of a Mail-Order Husband by Ericka Johnson (recommend- compelling perspectives)
71.  Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets, & Songs by David Borgenicht (thanks Mom!)
76.  The Six Great Ideas by Mortimer Adler (layman's philosophy)
77. Night Draws Near:  Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War by Anthony Shadid (recommend- valuable insight into the Iraqi experience of the war)
78.  Eleni by Nicholas Gage (highly recommend- wartime account in the modern history of Greece)
79.  Culture Shock! Greece by Clive L. Rawlins
80.  Bones Washed in Water and Wine by Sydney 
Marangou-White (recommend, short read)
81.  Falling in Honey by Jennifer Barclay (ok, nothing special BUT recipes in the back! )
82.  The Feasts of Memory by Elias Kulikundis
83.  I Was a Child Spy by constantine bouboulis
84.  Culture Smart!  Greece by Constantine Buhayer
85.  After the Rosy-Fingered Dawn: A Memoir of Greece by John Walters (A bit chatty)
86.  Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd (very boring)
87.  Only the Birds are Free: The Story of a War Child in Greeceby Anna Christake Cornwell (worth reading)
89.  Harlot's Sauce: A Memior of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece by Patricia Volonakis (also worth reading)
90.  Things of the Hidden God by Christopher Merrill
91.  Culture Smart! UAE by John Walsh
97.  Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas (highly recommend- funny and fun)
101.   Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the Amira Karmakni
102.   The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists by  Gregory Curtis (highly recommend.  Very pleasant and engaging presentation, builds anticipation of seeing the caves).  
103.  Xenophobe's Guide to the French by Nick Yapp & Michel Syrett
114.  No Touch Monkey!  And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun  Halliday
115.   The Xenophobe's Guide to the Greeks by Alexandra Fiada
116.   Point Your Face at This by Demetri Martin
117. Playing with Words (Greek Idioms) by AIOLOS
118. Greek Proverbs By AIOLO

4.  Volunteer abroad with children for at least a week.
no progress

3.  Go see three new countries:  Sweden, Morocco, Greece.



2.  Take 12 great photos.

6 done, 6 to go.

1.  Add 1 layout to art journal per month (12 total). 

Still no progress in this area.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Greece Day 4: Misc

My blog has hit 60,000 views today.  Here's the break down by country:

This week my audience by individual IP's:

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
Saudi Arabia
United States
United Kingdom

Individual IP's of my auidience for the last 30 Days:

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
Saudi Arabia
United States
United Kingdom

It is always interesting to me to see where everyone is accessing from.  Thanks for reading!  :D  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Greece Day 3: The Greek Kitchen

Chef George Tsaparas explains my two favorites from the Greek kitchen.  

You can contact him at  He is responsible for all the beautiful, delicious, healthy food you've seen in my recent posts.  Very nice combination of classic tastes and modern presentation.  It's worth coming to the island just to eat his cooking.  

Greece Day 3: what's cookin'?

These are the nice people who take care of me in Greece.  They prepare all the delicious things I stuff myself silly with.  The man on the right has 36 letters in his name.  The man on the left is chef George.  As soon as I can I will post video of him explaining the ins and outs of making my favorites from the Greek kitchen.  The woman is the owner.  The three men have been friends since childhood.  Really nice people.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Greece Day 2: no flushing your paper

view from the street

Lucky belts out tunes along with the Greek radio while he makes your wrap.  

Photography was forbidden of course.  Did my best.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Greece Day 1: Santorini

First Flight Finished

Only in Greece would Moussaka be considered fast food.  

Sunrise in Santorini

The beaches are rocky, not sandy.

Stroll through the local grocery store

Sunset in Santorini