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2016: My Year In Books

Is it a common problem for bookworms to feel like they're not reading enough, or is it just me?
My perpetually growing list of 'Books to Read' is not helping either.

Fortunately, Goodreads' annual roundup put things in perspective for me.

          Here's what my year in books looked like:

Have you heard about Goodreads yet?
It's the online community for book lovers, with a very handy smartphone app.
Initially, I used my online profile purely for tracking purposes - what I've read, what I still want to read, etc. That was back in 2010. These days, I'm using it to post and read reviews, save or search quotes, find gift inspiration, keep stock of my personal library, follow author blogs, learn about new books published, and set annual reading challenges for myself.
Their app is also quite nifty. My favourite feature is the barcode scanner. When browsing around at book fairs, I can just scan with a quick Bleep!, and then I know whether a book is worth buying o…

First, You Have To Want It

No. Wanting something won't automatically mean that you'll get it.
I believe, however, that you need to want it enough, first. You have to want it so much that you're actually willing to change everything about your life to make it happen.
That's not where it stops, either. From that moment, when you've decided that you want it more than anything else, you still need to want it so bad that you're willing to base your decisions on getting yourself closer to that one thing. Every. Single. Decision.
In the end, the hardest part of wanting anything is to accept right at the start that - despite everything you may do throughout your life - things might still turn out differently. And then, you'll have to just roll with the punches, so make sure that what you want, is really worth all the effort. Don't want anything just because someone else says/thinks that you should.
Looking back, then, I'm exactly where I should be, because most of the decisions I ma…

Who Do You Talk To?

I guess it's safe to say that Deuteronomy is not one of the 'popular' books in the Bible. I also find it difficult to read. Maybe if I was a history buff, it wouldn't have become so monotonous to read about all those laws, rules and regulations...blah, blah, blah...

What made it easier for me, was First5. For example, when I read Krista Williams' teaching 'A Do-Over' on Deuteronomy 1, I realised that Moses tried to warn the new generation against following in the old one's missteps. As a result, God provided them with a second chance.

I was also struck by what I believe the Israelites' biggest mistake was - instead of following His instructions, they started complaining and talking amongst themselves. ['You grumbled in your tents and said, "The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear...' - Deuteronomy 1:27-28…

Happy Holidays!

A lot of you are having holiday fun already, but for the rest of you, who still needs to work this week (like me), here's some festive cheer:

Hornby Lighthouse, Australia

Beautiful, isn't it? With Christmas just around the corner, I'm drawn to its Red and White colouring. So festive!

The lighthouse was built in 1858 near Watsons Bay, now part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, which they started conserving in 1975.

It's an active lighthouse, but there are trails up to it - for more Tourist info, see their website (they even have a link to a virtual tour via Google Streetview for couch potatoes and penny pinchers).

Weekly Quotable on Speaking Out

Oh, sure! Of course it's admirable to fight the injustices of our world. "If you see something, say something," right? Well, then...

Just make sure that you stick to the TRUTH.

The Cheating Effect

If you want saucy details, I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm not at liberty to say.
Right now I'm dealing with a case of dishonesty, which once again reared its ugly head in my life. And once again, I'm not at liberty to reveal details, because I'm stuck with a secret that's been forced on me by inconsiderate assholes. A secret I never wanted to be privy to.

It got the cogs in the ol' noggin' going, though, so I want to tell you why I think that cheating is a lot like drunk driving.

Cheaters always think they can keep affairs and their repercussions safely cushioned behind a multitude of lies. They don't realise that once they get behind the wheel, they no longer control anything. Their sordid dealings crash into innocent people as they speed along without any consideration for the lives of others.

Even young children get run over by the things they see (more than most adults realise). These are great children. Children, who look left and right before…

Weekly Quotable: Honesty

Weekly Quotable: Accept the Mystery

Do You Know How To Eat?

Sea Salt Baked Potatoes

First, let me ask if someone has ANY idea which South African magazine this recipe comes from? I cut and pasted it into a recipe file years ago, and from the looks of it, it might be Fairlady / You? I'd love to give credit where credit is due, but I really cannot remember where I found it.

What I do know for sure about this recipe, is that it's f#$^% amazing!!!

Let's be honest. No potato will ever come close to a hassle back potato, or a traditionally roasted-in-fat potato, but as far as healthier options go, these are pretty low in fat if you keep your butter and sour cream dollops small, they're very tasty and super easy to make (although you do still need about 2 hours to get them done).


Cook's Note: I also found clean-up a breeze. The salt sort of caked together, without sticking to the baking tray. After lightly scraping out the salt with a wooden spoon, the dish just needed a quick soapy wipe and rinse.

Weekly Quotable: Gratitude

Here's What I'm Thankful For...

My Gratitude List is pretty lame this year (Sorry!), but still. It's Thanksgiving in the US on Thursday, and I have to make sure that I use the opportunity to express my thanks to all the important folks in my life.

This week's song is therefore dedicated to:
1. God - you know, for the "little" things, like My Entire Existence.
2. My Family & Friends - and this includes all of you readers out there!


Weird tidbit on today's song is the fact that the entire song basically consists of only two lines.

Breskens Lighthouse, Netherlands

This Dutch lighthouse was erected near Breskens at the NieuweSluis (New Sluice), and its lamp was first lit on 19 January 1868.

The lighthouse was opened to the public in July 2015, so if you're able to make the trip, you can explore the lighthouse over weekends (Fridays to Sundays) from April to October.

P.S. If you want to hear something relaxing, visit the lighthouse's home page.

World Peace

Some First5 teachings make me feel like I just have to tell someone about what I've learnt. That is why I chose to start telling you about them one-by-one.

One of the first few that I thought was enlightening, was Wendy Blight's teaching on Genesis 13, titled 'Choose Humility'.

The chapter tells the story of Abraham & Lot. These two brothers, as well as their growing families, herdsman and surrounding tribes, all stayed on the same piece of land. As you can imagine, this crowded set-up eventually led to "in-house" fighting.['But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herders and Lot's.' - Gen 13:16-17 NIV]
Fortunately, Abraham (with God's guidance, I believe) realised that a peaceful compromise is always possible. He gave Lot first choice, and promised to go the opposite way, believing that giving eve…

Weekly Quotable: I Know Nothing

Beaver Fever

I finally got around to watching Zombeavers and it was surprisingly entertaining.

Granted, the special effects were totally unrealistic (as you can probably deduce from the movie title), but the acting wasn't as bad as expected, and it had us giggling all the way through.

It also provided us with this week's tune:

Morris Island, U.S.A.

Trump-Stumped

By now everyone knows Trump won. #@(*#$#&^*&@*!
It's OK. I'm Ok. *eye twitch*
Inhale.
Exhale.
Instead of thinking about That Man and his cockeyed policies / beliefs. Read this instead - and remember to breathe.

Podersdorf-am-See, Austria

This active lighthouse, which stands at the end of a wooden pier in Podersdorf-am-See on the eastern shore of Lake Neusiedl (Neusiedlersee)*, is a well-known landmark and tourist attraction near the Hungarian border.

*Austria's largest lake.


[20 November 2016 Update: Added Photo to the Left]

How Do You Wake Up?

They say that it's "THE APP THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR TIME WITH GOD", but it turns out that it's the App that changed my life.

I'm a '90s teen suicide and date rape survivor, and after my first failed engagement I was sure that the worst times were finally behind me, but my real run of "bad luck" actually barged in with full force five years ago.

An inauguration into the Dead Dad's Club is nevera welcoming experience. In fact, on Wednesday morning, 13 July 2011, I got sucker-punched into it. No, wait. It was more like I lost a Slap Bet. (It keeps hitting me right in the heart when I least expect it.)

Since then I've lost a cousin to teen suicide, I almost lost my only sister to meningitis, my best friend finally stopped waiting for me to reconnect, and then my mother's stage four cancer diagnosis came at a time when my young marriage was suffering a slow death.

I was so out of it. I felt nothing. I sat across my husband after having visi…

Happy Halloween!!!

Weekly Quotable: Just Visiting

Where Did You Get Those Peepers?

Weekly Quotable: Wild Child

Not only is this week's "mini quote"
Totes Pin-able,
but you can actually buy the Neon Sign for your home/office from Urban Outfitters
here.

Darn Vampar!

Weekly Quotable: Star-tangled manner

Swing with the Dead

A perfect blend of swingy jazz and spooky noises.

Hiatus Report

For an introvert like me, disconnection is nearly as important as connecting.

Not that my internet hiatus was purposefully planned. They never are. They just happen, and before I realise it, weeks have gone by without a single post.

I have come to the realisation that I pull myself inwards for a spiritual breather whenever there's a lot going on, or when I get overwhelmed.

You see, living with anxiety is almost like being constantly baked. You have all these things you want/need to say (or do), but they get blocked in by paranoia (or severe lethargy). By the time you finally decided on how you want to express yourself, it feels like you've missed your moment, or that the topic is no longer relevant. [This vicious cycle is very similar to the one in which you feel fat, then overeat to silence those feelings, which makes you feel fat...etcetera.]

The Bad News is that I still haven't figured out how to break the cycle every time I find myself trapped in it, but the Good News…

Weekly Quotable: Party Time

If you've ever wondered why I sometimes skip over regular post schedules, this is the type of important partying business I'm attending to.

Voyage

If you're into shoulder pads and all the OTT dramatic magnificence of the 1980's, you're going to love this:

Ynys Lawd [South Stack]

Ynys Lawd is actually the small island on which South Stack Lighthouse was built.
As you can see from these photographs, the location is absolutely breathtaking, and if you are adventurous enough to brave 400 steps up and down a cliff face,  you're in luck! This lighthouse is open to visitors all year round (but it's best to check ahead if they'll close it down for scheduled maintenance).
Read all about its history HERE.

SNL Musical Genius!

This Monday feels like it could do with a bit of a giggle, so here are my two ABSOLUTE favourite weird musical skits (first saw them on SNL).




Weekly Quotable: Let Them Eat Cake!

Just FYI: "Let them eat cake" is a phrase widely attributed to Marie-Antoinette, but according to History.com, she probably never even said it.

Donald Trumps Zuma

Before I start commenting on that US Election Candidate, let me first say that Vanity Fair Magazine is my new favourite Monthly.

It's everything any woman could want: yes, it has celeb pieces, fashion advertorials, and pop commentary, but more than that, it also feeds the intellect with well written, in-depth articles such as 'Whose N.R.A. is it?' (Sarah Ellison), 'Snakes on a Campaign' (Nicholas Shaxson) and 'St. George's Hidden Dragons' (Benjamin Wallace), to name a few.

They know what women want (hint: it is more than frilly things, pretty colours and gossip). I am just disappointed that I live way down here, because the most recent issue I could get my hands on, was that of August 2016 - and thanks to the weakness of the South African Rand, I had to pay roughly four times what I would for a local glossy.

As for my thoughts on Ol' Donald...
I am in no mood to rehash the whole Nkandla saga we went through (or the fact that Jacob Zuma is still sit…

You Loved It? Me Too!

Heard about the epic dance vid shot in the Mother City? Here it is:



And according to what I saw on Twitter, no, Meghan didn't mind that they used her song.

Weekly Quotable: Sloth

KENZO World

The song by Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums ("Mutant Brain" feat. Assassin) fits perfectly with the weirdness of the fragrance ad, I think.

Lady of Light, Portugal

Farol de Felgueiras, Porto
Except for the images I found (below), I also think you should check out Gail At Large's Foz Do Duoro post if you want to learn more about Portugal. Actually, just follow her blog - she posts regularly, and each post is complimented by beautiful photographs, most of them her own.


Weekly Quotable: Fear Nothing

Bubble Butt

They must really, really, really, really, really love big butts.

Weekly Quotable: Sorry. Not Sorry.

The Aggressive Bee

*Saturday (20 August) was Honey Bee Day

Weekly Quotable: Denial

Black Forest Cake

Marblehead, U.S.A.

I really enjoyed exploring the South Africanlighthouses with you online, but we have a lot of ground to cover if we want to see the rest of the flashing giants out there.

For our next stretch, I will be taking a more random and visual approach. I'll be jumping back and forth across the globe and you can look forward to feasting your eyes on the breathtaking landscapes and structural beauty the world of lighthouses has to offer!

Marblehead Lighthouse
Lake Erie (Ohio)

Confession Time: Geography has never been my strong point. My sense of direction is deplorable - my boss once joked that I don't need a GPS, I need a driver - and it takes a lot of repetitive reading and map checking before I am able to recall locations and borders, etc.

It was no surprise then, when I read that Marblehead Lighthouse is in Ohio, that I had to go onto Google Maps to see why Ohio even had a lighthouse. Finding out about the Great Lakes, and having a look at where exactly the lighthouse (and Ohio) is,…

Weekly Quotable: Women

We've just finished celebrating women in South Africa*, so when I stumbled onto this empowering message, I just had to pay it forward...





































*9 August is National Women's Day down here.

The Albatross In My Head

I'm loving the sound of this song, but a little confused as to the meaning behind the lyrics.

Albatross is also a term used for something negative, as in a consistent problem you need to overcome, so does she mean that she's going to be a hindrance to the 'little mouse'? Or is she referring to herself as an albatross due to the fact that it's quite a large bird, and couldn't be bothered less by smaller creatures? Or is it due to the albatross' rarity, ie she's one-of-a-kind, and therefore more precious than 'the millions of other rodents'?

Well, there you go - I'll leave you with that little conundrum for the week. Let me know what you think!

Weekly Quotable: Election Day

Election Song

Embedding this week's Weird Music Video has unfortunately been disabled, so please go listen to & view it on YouTube.

It was done by the Newzoids for the UK's 2015 General Elections, but all politicians seem to suck just as much these days, so I think we can identify with its sentiments.

And, if you're a South African, please remember to go vote on Wednesday! Even if you don't think it'll make a difference, I can guarantee you 100% that not voting will definitely change nothing.

Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse

South African Lighthouse No. 23
The Replacement
The Umhlanga* Lighthouse was built in 1954 to replace the 1869 Bluff Lighthouse, which had to be abandoned due to its rapid deterioration.

In addition to the standard automated light, rotating to warn off seafarers, it also has a fixed red light to help ships monitor their position - if the light can be seen, it means their anchors probably dragged and that they've come too close to the shore.
There has never been a lighthouse keeper here. The Oyster Box Hotel, also the first beach cottage in the area, serves as the official warden. Its staff monitor the lighthouse's controls (in the hotel office) and then send regular status reports to Transnet Port Authority's Lighthouse Service.
*Zulu for 'Place of Reeds'

As I wrap up this, the last of the South African Lighthouse posts, I'm painfully aware of the fact that I have never been lucky enough to visit one in real life (we've always resided inland, and rarely get…

Silence Kills

We need to talk about trauma. Kick out all the taboos. Let live, let love, and listen!



Warning: If, like me, you dont' speak French, the subtitles may be frustrating, but push on and watch to the end anyway.

Weekly Quotable: Everyday Miracles

Love Me Just Leave Me Alone

The Hill (Donkin) Lighthouse

South African Lighthouse No. 22
The Story of a Lighthouse and its Pyramid
Well, actually the Pyramid came first. Sir Rufane Donkin had it built as a monument to his wife in August 1820 - Lady Elizabeth, whose name was the obvious inspiration behind that of Port Elizabeth. How romantic, right?

The lighthouse was only commissioned later, on 1 June 1861, but the town of Port Elizabeth's lights behind it eventually started to interfere with its visibility from the bay, so they increased its height in 1929.

With time the town kept growing into a bigger and bigger city, so the lights just kept multiplying, and in 1973 they realised that the lighthouse was no longer effective. Hill Lighthouse was therefore decommissioned, but you are more than welcome to visit it (go to the Port Elizabeth Tourist Information Office, located inside the adjoining building).