Float lightly

Life isn’t as serious as my mind makes it out to be.

Eckhart Tolle

Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.

G. K Chesterton

Filed under: Be fully present Tagged: balance, Be fully present, Joy, Life, Meditation, Mindfulness

Survivor: Jeff Probst says Devon had to play his (dis)advantage

Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us about the idea for the first time to put a disadvantage into play at Tribal Council where someone (in this case, Devon) thought he had a big advantage, only to then find out the horrible truth that he was not allowed to vote.JEFF PROBST: This is the season of secrets. The idea is to add another layer to the game. The original note was an advantage. Jessica could block a vote. That’s an advantage. The second layer was, if she did not go to Tribal she could block a vote of someone who was going to tribal. This is where it gets really fun. A secret “advantage” (which it is) shows up in Devon’s bag. Anybody would assume this is a good thing. And that’s what Devon assumed. But it’s all about perspective. It is definitely an advantage — for Jessica —  to be used against Devon. She wisely wanted to protect her own and disrupt the others.

So what would have happened if Devon had not stopped you before voting to play what he thought was his advantage? Would everything just have carried on as normal and he would have been allowed to vote since he had not attempted to play it? And if so, does that mean contestants in the future might have to weigh the risks and rewards as to whether to play something?The note very clearly instructs the player on when and what to do, so it’s unlikely we would have that issue. Survivor has been very lucky to have maintained an integrity within the game and that integrity is set by the players. We almost never have a situation where a player attempts to “cheat” the game in any way. It remains one of the unseen hallmarks of our show. We try our best to have very few rules and let the players go play their game and they respond by playing within the implied expectations. But if for some reason Devon forgot, I would have kindly reminded him and it probably would not have reflected well on him as others would have realized he was trying to pull a fast one. So in answer to your question and for future players… um, yes we are paying attention.

Jeff, let me ask you something: WHY CAN’T COLE KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT?!? Once again, here he is blabbing things to people for no reason — in this case telling everyone about Jessica’s advantage. Here’s my question for you: In a game where secrecy is key, how worried would you be aligning with someone like that?This is why Survivor is so fascinating. You think he’s blabbing, but he thinks he’s building trust. I happen to agree with you (and Jessica) on this one — it’s troubling. But I can easily put myself in Cole’s shoes and see that in his mind this is a bonding moment. I would imagine that this is something he may reconsider if he plays again. Cole is a sharp guy, he’s just making some early mistakes. It’s SO easy to backseat drive on Survivor, and let’s face it — it’s fun, too! But we have the advantage of watching the impact Cole’s blabbing is having on others. He doesn’t yet fully realize it. If I aligned with Cole and I saw this behavior early, I would blindside him. I’m only playing to win and he’s a liability.

Do you really think Joe was reading Ashley’s facial expression at Tribal Council before deciding whether to play his idol for Desi or himself, or was he just bragging and being a showman?Oh, yes, 100 percent. I saw it all go down. She gave the slightest reaction and he knew what to do. You can say a lot of things about the way Joe is playing — some of them positive, some of them negative. He’s aggressive and he can be rude and he doesn’t care who he hurts in the process. But Joe is much sharper than people give him credit for. It was one of the most subtle, well thought out plays and she fell right into it.

Okay, tease us up for next week, sir!One of my favorite things about Survivor is that because we put new people on the show we are always “current” with the culture and what is happening in our country. You get a taste of that next week. It’s a small but very powerful moment that I think will resonate with viewers.

Check out a deleted scene from last night’s episode at the top of the post and Probst’s Foo Fighters Easter eggs in last night’s episode in the clip above. Also make sure to read our full episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Choosing the Right Supplements for Your Family with iHerb

This article is sponsored by iHerb. All opinions are our own. More and more families are moving away from a conventional lifestyle. Moms are recognizing all the ways that a natural lifestyle is healthier for their families. With a little research it becomes clear that natural supplements can improve the overall well being of every […]

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October 19, 1781: Victory at Yorktown

Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.

Lord Cornwallis was one of the most capable British generals of the American Revolution. In 1776, he drove General George Washington’s Patriots forces out of New Jersey, and in 1780 he won a stunning victory over General Horatio Gates’ Patriot army at Camden, South Carolina. Cornwallis’ subsequent invasion of North Carolina was less successful, however, and in April 1781 he led his weary and battered troops toward the Virginia coast, where he could maintain seaborne lines of communication with the large British army of General Henry Clinton in New York City. After conducting a series of raids against towns and plantations in Virginia, Cornwallis settled in the tidewater town of Yorktown in August. The British immediately began fortifying the town and the adjacent promontory of Gloucester Point across the York River.

General George Washington instructed the Marquis de Lafayette, who was in Virginia with an American army of around 5,000 men, to block Cornwallis’ escape from Yorktown by land. In the meantime, Washington’s 2,500 troops in New York were joined by a French army of 4,000 men under the Count de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau made plans to attack Cornwallis with the assistance of a large French fleet under the Count de Grasse, and on August 21 they crossed the Hudson River to march south to Yorktown. Covering 200 miles in 15 days, the allied force reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September.

Meanwhile, a British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves failed to break French naval superiority at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his expected reinforcements. Beginning September 14, de Grasse transported Washington and Rochambeau’s men down the Chesapeake to Virginia, where they joined Lafayette and completed the encirclement of Yorktown on September 28. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops carried by his fleet. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 Franco-American troops gradually overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse’s warships. A large British fleet carrying 7,000 men set out to rescue Cornwallis, but it was too late.

On October 19, General Cornwallis surrendered 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships. Pleading illness, he did not attend the surrender ceremony, but his second-in-command, General Charles O’Hara, carried Cornwallis’ sword to the American and French commanders. As the British and Hessian troops marched out to surrender, the British bands played the song “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Although the war persisted on the high seas and in other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown effectively ended fighting in the American colonies. Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally recognizing the United States as a free and independent nation after eight years of war.

One Room Challenge//Week 3, Panic & Harsh Realities

Week 3 is the week I think I almost always start to panic during the One Room Challenge, but this time I think it’s probably totally appropriate.

If you are completely confused about what has got me all stressed, let me explain. Hundreds of design and home bloggers gather twice a year to inspire and encourage each other to complete a room makeover, big or small in just 6 short weeks! We have our friend, Linda at Calling it Home to thank for this brilliant event that is now sponsored by dozens of companies and House Beautiful is the media sponsor. We are now at the halfway point!

So faced with that fact and looking over what was and was not completed this week, I am, like I said a bit concerned. But if there’s one thing I know about myself, I tend to thrive on a deadline and I will very likely find a way to get this room pulled together in 3 more weeks.

Over the weekend we were able to get the panel moulding installed. The moulding was provided by Metrie and is a key component in finishing the room to create luxury and drama in the room. This particular moulding is from their French Curves collection.

Having a bit of experience at this type of project during the Fall One Room Challenge last year in our Master bathroom.  The clean style of long graceful panels definitely simplified the look and the task. With the techniques I used last year in batching my cuts, we were able to complete the cutting and hanging in just one day!

Of course, I still need to fill the nail holes, prime and paint but that should be a fairly quick process.

In other good news, today, Wednesday, was definitely a turning point on several fronts.

  • I made a solid decision on the rug. Now, I just pray that I made the right choice. It arrives on Friday.

I actually ended up wasting most of last week in indecision over a rug I eventually admitted was not only too big for the room, but way out of my budget.  I very much wanted to find a way to make it work, but I could not justify such a large investment when we’ve got two in college and all the expenses related to the rebranding the blog. Sadly, the harsh realities of life win in this case.

But I will share with you a photo of that dream rug in the room because it was quite lovely.

You can see why I wanted to make it work, right? It was so gorgeous!

  • I also decided definitely to paint the chairs.

Several of you suggested that maybe the chairs were not right for the table or the room, but I still hold fast to my design and vision. I actually watched an inspirational talk by Nate Berkus this week for Delta Faucets and National Design Week.  He suggested that design is not about being safe. “It’s never about being concerned with looking over my shoulder for what’s appropriate or what your neighbor is doing or what your mother-in-law thinks, or any of that. It really has always been about what feels fresh, a fresh combination.” He went on to say that he likes to combine disparate elements in a space so that it just “sings”.

Now all that to say I totally and completely loved getting your comments and feedback, but in the end, I need to trust my vision for doing something different and not what is expected.  It may totally fail, but that’s okay by me.  They are just chairs and as my best friend said to me as we discussed them yet again, “You’ll probably want to change them in a few years anyway regardless if they are right or wrong.  So just go for it.”

I do think once I moved the ornate buffet out of the room I was much happier with the way the chairs look in the room. But I still need to paint them and decide on a color which will do once the new rug arrives.

  • I finally had time in the workshop tonight and came up with proper modifications for that pair of squatty chests/nightstands that will be replacing the buffet.

I had to scrap the idea I shared in my design board last week, realizing that my original plan was likely more appropriate for the existing style of the chests.

The goal was to make them taller and add a new tops to replace the existing ones. They were in terrible condition. The wood is all cut and I have started assembling the pieces. These will be painted as well.

I had the great privilege of meeting Annie Sloan today and she talked me through how I could achieve a lacquered finish for them!  I can’t wait to give it a try. I think they are going to be fantastic! She is just a deligh and so very inspirational!

  • My fabric arrived at the end of last week.  I can add sewing curtains to the list of things still left to be done.

That’s quite a list isn’t it? You probably can concur that panic is likely in order.

Let’s hope my track record of rising to a challenge holds up!  Be sure to check out the Participants for the One Room Challenge who post on Wednesdays and the other Guest Participants to see how they are doing with their rooms!  I have a feeling based on Linda’s email this week, that I am not the only one feeling a bit anxious about the impending reveal date, November 9th!

* I received product from Metrie for this room makeover. All thoughts and opinions are my own.






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Another hidden gem Diocletian’s Stadium under Piazza Navona

You may or may not have learned that the Roman Baroque masterpiece now known as Piazza Navona started out as a stadium built by the Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) in 86 A.D. to celebrate the Certamen Capitolino Iovi, a musical, theatrical and athletic performances dedicated to Jupiter. He modeled the new stadium and the accompanying odeon on the Greek model, but Domitian didn’t simply use the terrain of a natural hill to build the multi-tiered stands into the way the Greeks did with their stadia. He had the financial means, the labour and the technology to create everything from scratch, and boy did he. The site he selected was on the Campus Martius, a level field outside the ancient Servian Wall that had served for centuries as a military training ground when Roman law prohibited the presence of troops inside the official boundary of the city.

Measuring about 275 long and 106 meters wide (902×348 feet), the stadium had one curved end and one flat end with two long parallel sides. The entrances were in the middle of the curved end (the hemicycle) and the long side and like all Roman stadia, had meticulously arranged numbered archways and staircases for optimal traffic flow and access to the bleachers. Archaeologists estimate that it could seat around 30,000 people.

It was used temporarily to host gladiatorial games after a fire disabled the Colosseum in 217 A.D., and some years later it was restored by the Emperor Alexander Severus. We know it was still in use in the 4th century because the historian Amianus Marcellinus mentions it. Shortly thereafter it was abandoned and suffered the same fate as the Circus Maximus, Colosseum and other monumental feats of Roman architecture: it was used as a quarry to supply travertine and brick for new construction. As its building materials were stripped away, its entrances and arches were used as shops and stables.

Within three centuries of Marcellinus’ writing, Romans had already forgotten the very name of the stadium, calling it the Circus Flamineus, then the Circus Alexandri, then the Campus Agonis which was corrupted into Navoni and ultimately Navona, which happens to mean big ship. The coincidence of this linguistic evolution led to the birth of the urban legend that the Piazza Navona was named after the naumachia, sea battles staged in an artificial lake inside the Circus. This never happened. It wasn’t that kind of arena.

Once the Piazza Navona was built, following precisely the shape of its ancient progenitor which had been extensively built upon by that point, THEN it was flooded. Roman nobles got a big kick out of racing their carriages, some built in the shape of fantastical sea monsters but still pulled by regular terrestrial horses, poor things, through the flooded piazza every year.

Elements of travertine cladding, masonry and pozzolana structrure in the arches and walls around the staircase.With all the despoilation of Domitian’s original structure, the regular bouts of construction on top of and in the middle of whatever was left, it’s remarkable that any of it was left to rediscover in 1936 when Mussolini’s project to demolish, rebuild and modernize the area’s streets and houses ran into the remains of the cavea, including a large travertine-clad entrance arch from the hemicycle end. A few bits and pieces were known to have survived in the basements of some of the houses along the piazza and under the Church of St. Agnes, but the discoveries from the 30s were more extensive and complete.

Still, nobody gave much of a damn about them. When I was a kid growing up in Rome in the 80s, you could see exactly one part of Domitian’s Stadium from the street, the big entrance arch, and because ground level was so much higher than it had been in imperial times, you really had to look for it at ankle height. That finally changed in 2014 when a new archaeological area opened underneath the Piazza. It is a small, eminently manageable, phenomenally well-lit museum featuring large chunks of Domitian’s Stadium and a handful of statue fragments, inscriptions and building materials discovered during the dig. I didn’t even know it was there until I happened to walk by the sign and followed it like the yellow brick history nerd road it is, and I read about this kind of thing every day. It’s crazy that it’s so little known. It is the only surviving example of a masonry built stadium outside of the Greek world. People should be freaking out about it.

I mean, the rest rooms alone are worth the price of admission:


Mandy Moore for Garnier and Other Celebrity Beauty Campaigns of 2017

Scoring a beauty campaign usually means you “made it” as a celebrity, model, or influencer. And 2017 is already shaping up to be one of the best years when it comes to bigwig beauty endorsements. Read on to discover the ones we’re already excited about!