King Coconut

Yesterday was a good day! There are a bunch of fruit trees growing in our yard and we have a guy come and climb them to cut down the fruit for us. It’s always exciting to see the fruit growing and ripening and we can’t wait for the perfect day to try them. Yesterday was king coconut : )

You cut off the top of the coconut and create a small hole where you can pour out the sweet, delicious water. Or just stick a straw inside, like how you get them on the side of the road. After you empty the water you can cut the coconut to expose the smooth, juicy coconut meat. Use a spoon to scoop it out and you have tasty snack in seconds!

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Photo editing apps I love

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Mango tree in our backyard

I LOVE editing photos. It gives me such a thrill! I enjoy taking a regular photo and seeing it transform before my eyes : )

I love using the basic Instagram editor but I get a kick out of really taking it up a notch! Check out my favorite apps below and let me know what you think!

Trippy

Moonshadow

Lens Distortions

Defqt

Glitch photo

Glitch Cam

Leak.Ly

Photo Mirror Effects

Mirrorly

SplitPic

Canva

Momento GIF maker

PrismScope Lite- Kaleidoscope Camera

Kaleidoscope drawing pad

Forge of Neon- game of lights

 

 

Trip to France

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In the spring of 2009 I went on a trip of a lifetime. It was my Junior year at Arizona State and my teacher was taking a group of students to France for a nine day photography workshop. I HAD TO GO.

My bff Nicole told me she was going on the trip. I was so excited I COULD NOT contain myself. This trip is where I realized my passion for photography and travel. The whole time I was on cloud nine and everything was so refreshing and beautiful! The old architecture and churches were mesmerizing. We survived on croissants, espresso, pizza, wine, and chocolate. It was so fun.

I think I took over four thousand photos that trip. We explored Paris and the south of France. Versailles was amazing and everything was covered in gold and was pristine! I couldn’t believe the details in all the buildings. I wanted to stay there forever.

 

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Nicole and I loving life

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Versailles, France

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Gates around Versailles

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The Louvre

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Yasss so good!

 

 

Healing from digestive issues and eczema

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To be honest, last year was difficult for me. I knew something wasn’t right with my health about six months before I left for Sri Lanka. I was stressed out trying to sell our house and also wrapping my head around the fact that I was leaving everything I’ve ever known to move across the world.

During the six months before I left, I started having intense panic attacks, anxiety, and feelings of general tiredness. I knew a lot of this was stress, diet and nerves. I wasn’t eating the healthiest at that time and I know that was a major contributor.

Things slowly started to get a little better a few months after the holidays. I wasn’t having the panic attacks but I was still not feeling normal. I decided to get a food intolerance test done at one of the holistic colleges in Tempe. I received the results back in about two weeks and found out I had twenty-one food intolerances! I was shocked.

A friend of mine suggested that I might have something called “leaky gut”. I had read a lot about this before (I am a health and nutrition nerd lol). I talked to a doctor about my test results and I asked if I had leaky gut and she said most likely yes. I was devastated. I was also relieved because I finally knew what the heck was going on!

For those who don’t know, leaky gut is when you develop small openings in your small intestine where small particles of food and toxins can leak into your bloodstream causing major inflammation and a reaction from your body due to ‘foreign invaders’. Not a good thing. What’s crazy is that more and more people are finding out that they have this because of the typical ‘Western diet’ that we all grew up on.

My next plan of action was to avoid all the foods on the list that I had intolerances to. I did this for almost six months. The doctor told me that this would give my body a break from the foods that were triggering inflammation.

During this whole time I was also experimenting with my diet doing no carb, low carb, no fruit etc. I did this because I started having major digestive distress every time I would eat. I had pain in my stomach and lots and lots of bloating. I never had any issues like this before in my whole life. After doing a six week Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) cleanse I seemed to get a little better but then my symptoms returned.

It was also during this time that I developed eczema on my hands. I started learning a lot about the gut microbiome and how we need to have a balance of good bacteria in order to be healthy. I desperately wanted to get better and I remembered about the healing benefits of vegetable juices and greens in general. I started eating lots of salads, cucumbers, and was making one to two fresh vegetable juices a day. Things started to get better.

Around this time I was talking to a new friend and she told me she healed her digestive issues with Mastic Gum. I started taking this right away and started to feel so much relief. As soon as I started taking it I noticed that I didn’t have stomach pain and the bloating was going away. Mastic gum is the sap from the Mastic tree. In Greece they use this in many food items including candy, gum, and tooth paste. It helps to ward off any harmful pathogens in the stomach, intestines, and even the teeth. It’s amazing stuff!

I’m happy to say that after all the pain and suffering I am so much better! I am finally able to eat normally and I have no issues anymore. Dealing with something like this has helped me be much more in touch with my own body and to know what I need on a daily basis. It’s also helped me have compassion for people who are going through the same thing and might not know what’s wrong with them. I want to encourage people to keep going and to cleanse the body on a regular basis, as that is what can really keep your health in tip-top shape!

 

 

 

US road trip

 

Before we came to Sri Lanka we went on an amazing two-week road trip. I’ve been several places in the US but it was so refreshing to go places I wouldn’t normally have chosen- like Montana. I was pleasantly surprised!

We started off in Arizona with all our suitcases in the car (packed and ready for our flight to Sri Lanka). First stop was Utah, then Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Banff, Canada. We spent two nights in Banff (which was so amazing). If you have never been- its definitely a sight to see! It’s a small little ski town with good food, friendly people, and beautiful scenery.

On our way up to the northern part of the country we went through several National Parks: Zion (Utah), Yellowstone and Grand Teton (Wyoming), and Glacier (Montana). We went in June but there was snow on the Teton mountains and it was definitely chilly in Banff.

After Canada we traveled back through Montana, over to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and finally Michigan. By this time we were exhausted and ready to relax! We stayed two more weeks in Michigan and spent some time with our friends at their lake house. This was such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do another road trip!

 

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Lake Michigan

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Somewhere in Montana

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Maple leaves in Michigan

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Gizmo

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Road to Zion, Utah

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Friends in Zion

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Teton mountains

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Glacier Natl. Park, Montana

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First trip around Sri Lanka

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Rambutan fruit

 

I love traveling. Anything to get me out of the house. Don’t get me wrong- I am also a homebody. I’m always trying to find a balance between both.

When we first landed in Sri Lanka in June 2016 we stayed one night in our new apartment (which we had never seen except for pictures) and left the next morning for a road trip. We traveled around the island for four whole days.

Everything was so vibrant and exciting. There were tiny two-lane roads all around the city and through the countryside. There were cows grazing freely on the sides of these narrow roads.  People also drive on the right side of the car and left side of the road! This was very shocking to me lol.

All along the streets there are people selling fruits and veggies and also toys in some places. We stopped and grabbed mangosteens, rambutans, sliced mangos, bananas, and fresh coconut water. This was paradise to me.

As you are driving down the winding roads you might see a truck with an elephant in the back. Or monkeys hanging out in the trees with their babies. I’ve seen a monkey take a two-liter of coke that someone set on the ground and run off with it!

In the mornings at the hotel you have a choice between Sri Lankan breakfast or English breakfast. Sri Lankan breakfast usually comes with milk rice (rice soaked in coconut milk and formed into a square shape), seeni sambol (sweet onion relish), chicken or fish curry, and fresh tropical fruit such as papaya or mango.

 

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Hatton, Sri Lanka

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Hatton, Sri Lanka

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View from our hotel room in Kandy, Sri Lanka

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Pit-stop at a tea house

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The Buddhist monks next door

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We live next door to a bunch of Buddhist monks. Literally the next house over. Early in the morning they can be heard singing their prayers over their loud speaker . This happens about 5:30 am and can last all day long. Like today.

They do this specifically on “Poya” days. Poya is a public holiday which occurs every month on the full moon. Lots of people get the day off and they even stop selling alcohol. I thought this was SO interesting. I was like “people really get the day off for the full moon?”

I think going to a Buddhist temple is one of my favorite things to do in Sri Lanka. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. They have sacred Bodhi trees that they adorn with Buddhist flags and tapestries. “Bodhi” translated to English means “enlightened” or “awakened”. It is said that Buddha became enlightened while sitting under this tree.

When you go to a Buddhist temple you are quickly overtaken by the aroma of freshly lit incense. Its heavenly. There are also lots of candles lit from ghee (clarified butter) in small pots which you can purchase before entering the temple. You can light these little pots and give them as an offering to the Buddha and say a prayer. You can also purchase fresh flowers for offerings including Jasmine flowers.

 

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Bodhi tree (aka Fig tree)

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Athugala Buddha Statue

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Candle offerings

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Flower offerings to the Buddha

 

 

Moving to a new country

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A friend’s engagement in Sri Lanka

I’ve always dreamed about living in a different country. I wanted to study abroad in College but it never happened. So when my boyfriend asked if I wanted to move to Sri Lanka I was totally game.

We talked about our plans for the next couple weeks and a month later he was off to Sri Lanka to start working with his friend. I knew that this was about to be the biggest adventure of my life!

Over the next year we sold our house, both our cars, and most of our belongings. We were away from each other for nine months since I was still in Arizona. I was so excited to leave but had to wait until our house sold. This part was frustrating but I had hope that we would be together soon and be able to start this new chapter!

It was an exciting day when our house sold and my boyfriend booked a ticket to come home. Over the next three months we sold all of our furniture and packed our boxes with dishes, pots, and pans. We shipped about fifteen boxes full of kitchen supplies across the world (you can tell where our priorities are lol). We brought nothing else besides what we could fit in our suitcases and a couple personal boxes. It was liberating.

When we left Arizona in June we decided to take a two week road trip through the US. We went up to Banff, Canada and then back down through Montana and over to Michigan where we stayed for another week. This was the best (and longest) road trip I’ve ever been on.

By the end of our travels we were getting antsy to start our next journey. We spent time with my boyfriend’s family in Michigan and then hopped on a plane from Detroit to Sri Lanka. It took us over twenty-four hours and three planes to get there. I was definitely exhausted but so excited!

Iv’e been here for a year and a half now. To say that my whole life has changed would be an understatement. It feels like its been three years because of all the growth and change that I’ve been through since we moved. I’m not sure how long we will be here or where we will go next but I’m enjoying every day and learning as much as I can on this adventure!

 

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Our first apartment in Sri Lanka

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7:30 am heavy rain (I was so excited!)

 

 

Now

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Flower of life from my sketchbook

 

I started listening to “The Power of Now” audio book today. I think I tried listening to it in High School or College and just couldn’t do it. I truly believe we are ready for certain lessons at specific times.

I also tried reading the book at that time and only got about half way through. I so badly wanted to find this “peaceful” feeling that the book promised. My mind was in another place I guess.

This time is different. So much has happened since then and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way which have helped me be more “present”. Like working in the corporate world where you can’t make big mistakes and have to be on the ball. Being a waitress allowed me be more present and helped me develop LOTS of patience.

Anyway, this time I feel it’s gonna stick. Listening to Eckhart Tolle’s voice I’m easily transported to the peaceful place that I so desire. He embodies it.

Another thing that I thought about was yoga. You are forced to be in your body while you try to hold the yoga poses and your chattering mind just disappears. Its lovely. Makes me want to get back into a regular practice because all you can feel the rest of the day is some serious ZEN.