Inspired by Life

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Delhi, India

In 2007, I traveled to New Delhi quite often for business. Having just landed in India three days before, after having been gone for almost 10 years, the culture shock was quite tangible. I was a tourist in my own country and it felt surreal - the thoughts and feelings that were flowing through me were hard to process, but I just soaked it all in. The crowds, the utter lack of personal space, the dust, the heat, the smells, the colors, the food, the transportation, the clash of western and traditional concepts - all of it. Back then, I did not have the nice camera I do now, so some of the pics may not be the best quality. Here are some photographs of my travels in New Delhi and the surrounding areas. I will do my best to explain them but some may just not have any words to describe them :)

This is at the entrance to the Qutb-Minar. I love that the couple in this picture is actually holding hands when 10 years ago, this was taboo. It still is to some extent in some parts of India.

A young girl, brightly dressed, working a construction job.

The Qutb-Minar - the highest stone tower in India, was built in A.D 1230. Yep, that's right! 

Me, at one of the buildings on the grounds of the Qutb-Minar. Notice the intricate carvings on the walls! And also notice that I look like a tourist, in my capris and denim purse AND high heels! What was I thinking?!?!

A park/mini-garden right in the middle of a very crowded street!

The India Gate.

Two local girls who were begging me to get a henna tattoo. So colorful!

A roadside furniture store.

Entrance to the Qutb-Minar. What do you think of this???

An old, mini temple building on the grounds.

Parts of the walls are crumbling. Considering that they are hundreds of years old, that is impressive, that the building is still standing.

A typical roadside in Delhi - don't you love how colorful everything is???

A Bahai temple. India is really, and quite literally, a melting pot of religions. Notice the crowds around the building and the lines snaking their way all over the place.

Raj Ghat - the burial place of Mahatma Gandhi. 

India's own Eternal Flame.

Mahatma Gandhi's grave site.

A poster of Gandhi at a small, local bookstore in Raj Ghat.

I hope you enjoyed your little trip through some parts of Delhi!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20 Bags in 20 Days

I realized that I am the happiest when I am organizing, planning, decluttering, cleaning, creating, etc. One of the blogs I follow - Clover Lane - inspired me to start this spring cleaning method. The writer of the blog decided that for the Lenten season, she would take on a project titled 40 bags in 40 days. And for each day, she armed herself with Magic Erasers and black garbage bags, and went around the house to each designated area, decluterring the space. She assigned the keep, toss, or give away piles and just tossed the give away bags in the back of her van, and drove it to Goodwill every week. Her method has inspired many of her readers to do the same or some version of it, and I am one of them.

Since it is just Aaron and I, the goal will be half of hers - hence 20 bags in 20 Days. I will use the same process she has used and I know I will definitely appreciate this chance to spring clean, when it is all over and my home looks simple, classic, clean and cozy.

Here is how I divided up my areas:

I am on my way to simplify my life and surround myself with what's important! What are some of the methods you use to spring clean?

First Ladies at the Smithsonian

Last summer, I was certainly a tourist in DC, and thinking I may never get a chance to come back here again, I hit the road, touring as many of the national monuments and Smithsonian museums as my tired feet would allow me. One of these self-guided tours included the First Ladies at the Smithsonian - this is an exhibit in the National Museum of American History.

This exhibition was first opened in 1914 and quickly became the most popular of the exhibitions. Over a period of time, the exhibition grew to include Period Costumes, personal accessories, and Inaugural Gowns of every First Lady.  This link takes you to the website that has about 52 pages of information about the exhibition and gives you a visual tour as well. I am just going to post some photographs that I had taken during my trip there. Enjoy! (P.S. The picture quality is real bad due to the fact that everything was encased in glass, and there were tons of tourists around, so the combo made it a bit difficult to take the best pics, but I still enjoyed the exhibition, and I hope you do too!)

How to Downsize Your Wardrobe

Do you have a closet packed with clothes and still feel like you have nothing to wear? Do you always find yourself reaching for the same pair of jeans and ruffled t-shirt? Do you always look at that one thing on the hanger and tell yourself you are going to wear it soon, as soon as you can find another thing to complete the look? Well, let me tell you are not the first one to be found standing in front of your closet, looking perplexed, and feeling like you are about to rehash your worst relationship!

I have been trying to simply my life, and one of the areas I knew I had to address was my closet. I had jeans in a size that I will no longer be, or it may take an eon to get to again; I had a stash of old, big t-shirts for that time when I would do some community service like painting a fence in a park (has not happened yet); I found a pair of pajama tops that had no bottoms (no idea where they went). The sad thing is that this is what I found after already donating three boxes to our church clothing swap! I mean, really?

So I started rehashing, and although I don't think I have fully purged my closet of all that I could purge, I think I made some headway. I am now the proud owner of 5 short sleeve t-shirts, 5 long sleeve t-shirts, 3 tank tops, 4 light cardigans in my dresser. I also reorganized all the clothes that are on the hangers and it ended up looking like this:

To me, that is a great start! Still a long way to go, but I thought I would write down some tips and advice I have gathered from all my reading about the topic.

1. Identify what works for you: Amy E. Goodman, author of Wear This, Toss That, says, "Pull out the five things you would wear every day if no one was keeping track." Take a look at what you just pulled out and ask yourself a few questions: What image does it project? Is it soft and ruffly or crisp or tailored? What parts of your body does it accentuate? Is it comfortable?

2.  Analyze your choices: Take out five things you wish you hadn't bought and ask yourself this: Did you buy it for the thrill of a bargain? Is it good or bad quality material? Did you buy it because it was trendy? Was it a last minute purchase? Is it high maintenance? Do you have anywhere to wear this? Your wardrobe should reflect who you are now.

3. Any missing pieces?: Once you start ridding your wardrobe of those old, overused, faded, too tight, etc., clothes, you may realize that you now have some holes to fill. Take a good look at what you have left and see if you need any key pieces that could work with several of your outfits. But wait, don't just run out and buy them immediately. Based on what you have learned about your wardrobe choices, do the next step.

4. Shop Smarter: Before you open your wallet and swipe that plastic, run through a checklist in your head. Will it work with your lifestyle? Where will you wear it? Does it coordinate with at least four other pieces in your wardrobe? Can you wear it year round? Is it good quality? Does it flatter you and does it fit well? And when you take them home, don't cut off the tag yet. Try them on in natural light with other pieces in your wardrobe as well and see if it matches well, etc.

Understanding how I shop for clothes makes me a better shopper in the future and I don't end up throwing some stuff out and then going out and replacing it. I also realize that my tastes have changed and that I gravitate more towards fewer pieces of clothing but better clothes. Maybe I don't worry too much about what other people think of me anymore, but I lean more towards classic and not trendy. My dream would be to someday, have a wardrobe the size of what I would take on vacation. Scary, right? But it really is so liberating to see those cardboard boxes fill up with stuff that I can donate to the local thrift store!

Have fun waltzing through your wardrobe and see if it is time for you to downsize!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stroll through Old Town Alexandria

A couple of Sundays ago, Aaron and I decided to explore Old Town Alexandria, with our friends who were visiting from Chicago. After taking the tour through the Washington Masonic Memorial ( in a previous blog), we took the famous King Street Trolley, and went all the way down King Street, to the waterfront of the Potomac River. We got off, wandered over to the Torpedo Factory Art Center (also in a previous blog), we decided to walk through Old Town on our way back. We are so glad we did this because we got to really appreciate the city we live in. I am sure you will agree that we live in a really cool, quaint, historic and trendy part of town.

Fun Facts:

1. Alexandria is George Washington's hometown and part of the original Washington, DC.
2. Robert E. Lee, Civil War General moved to Alexandria with his family, when he was only 4 years old.
3. It served as one of the largest slave trading ports prior to the Civil War.
4. Alexandria was occupied by Union forces from the beginning of the Civil War, serving as a transportation and hospital center for the nation's capitol.
5. The Edmonton Sisters became famous figures of the anti-slavery movements as they tried to escape and were caught.
6. Alexandria's Old Town District was established in 1946.

The rest of this blog entry will be more like a photo blog, allowing you to experience a part of Old Town and draw your own conclusions.

I hope you enjoyed your stroll with us and loved our Old Town as much as we did!