Thursday, July 31, 2014

Annual Goals 2014 UPDATE

2014 Resolutions:

12.  Lose 10 Kilos.  

3 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)

86 down,  34 to go!

Last year I decided to read 100 books to try to make a dent in my reeeediculously large wishlist.  Since I essentially read 10 books per month from May 2013-November 2013, I decided I should probably continue the effort to read 10 books a month.
The books listed below are sitting in patient stacks in my living room.  Can't hardly wait!

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.)
5.   The Things They Cannot Say by Kevin Sites (Thanks Paul)
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)
24.  The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart  (Thanks Yvonne!- Recommend- very clear and thoughtful)
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)
36.  The Alevis in Turkey by David Shankland (academic reading,  very  information dense)
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
53.  Nobel Laureates in Search of Identity & Integrity by Hallengren  (nice overview of this selection of Laureates I mostly knew nothing about, but a bit dry)
54.  Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz by Olga Lengyel  (very highly recommend)
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).
58.  Silencing the Past:  The Arab Spring , Israel, & the Tunisian Jews by Rob Boublil (recommend.  informative)
59.  Dreaming of a Mail-Order Husband by Ericka Johnson (recommend- compelling perspectives)
63.  Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune (Highly recommend-insightful)
71.  Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets, & Songs by David Borgenicht (thanks Mom!)
72.  Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (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)
88.  North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage
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
107.  Burqalicious: The Dubai Dairies, A True Story of Sun, Sand, Sex, and Secrecy by Becky Wicks
112.  The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy by Auxier & Seng (recommend)
113.  Church of Lies by Flora Jessop
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 AIOLOS
119.  Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis & Larry Sloman (honest, raw, but mostly about drugs)
120.  The Holy Quran (in support of my friends during the holy month of Ramadan/fasting)
121.  The Caliphs of Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Muhammad Ali Kossaibati (Thanks Youssra!)
122. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (Recommend.  Includes recipes and a section after the memoir about the history of Mennonites)

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.

8 done, 4 to go.

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

Still no progress in this area.

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