27 May, 2020

Eternal Kiss #WordlessWednesday

This photo is from Carlsbad caverns national park in New Mexico.

This formation is called Eternal kiss as both the upper and lower stones just touch.

Can you believe that this formation is completely natural and formed million years ago underground?

Until next time, 

Linking this post to #wordlesswednesday hosted by Natasha and Esha.

26 May, 2020

The Sword - Ponni's Beloved Volume 3: An English Translation by Sumeetha Manikandan - [Book Review]

“Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these”

Read Book Reviews of Part 1 and Part 2

Book Details :

Title: The Sword - Ponni's Beloved Volume 3

An English Translation of Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan

Author of Original Novel in Tamil: Kaliki Krishnamurthy
English Translation: Sumeetha Manikandan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Print Length: 387 pages
Source : A Kindle copy


Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. 

Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice, and pure love.

Purchase Link:

All Volumes : Amazon

My Review :

Volume 3 has less story covered when compared to 1 and 2. The story threw more light on some characters like The Prime minister, Prince Madhuranthakan, and Samudra Kumari (it's so tough to write the name of her character :p).

The respect towards the Prime minister character grew a lot after understanding the tactics people have to use in high positions in a kingdom. Even though Vandiya Devan has good intentions,  he always gets caught in some or the other trouble and gets rescued by Vaishnavan. So, I was doubting his capabilities while reading.

It's good to read about Kundavai pouring her feelings out to Vandiya Devan before sending him to Kanchi. This part also delved deep into Vanathi's character. The transformation from a faint-hearted girl to a brave lady is amazing.

The flashback of Madhuranthakan's mother, the plan revealed by Nandini to Ravidas, and, the meeting of Kundavai and Ponniyan Selvan are the highlights of this part.

The pace of the story is fine but thought this part has less story and more conversations. The English translation as usual maintained the nativity of the story. There are a few minor grammar mistakes and typos though which might have been avoided.

My Rating: 4.5/ 5

About the Author:

Sumeetha Manikandan is a freelance writer and an author who loves to write and base her plots on the tambrahm community of Mylapore, Chennai. She is the author of ‘The Perfect Groom’ that has been a bestselling ebook on the top 50 charts of Amazon India ever since publication.

An avid reader, she loves to read across different genres – romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, mystery, fantasy, etc. A history buff to the core,
she is currently translating Ponniyin Selvan – the evergreen Tamil classic epic history by Kalki Krishnamurthy into English.

Married to filmmaker K.S. Manikandan, Sumeetha lives in Chennai, along with her six-year-old daughter.

Until next time,

24 May, 2020

Roswell and Bandelier National Monument #NewMexicoTrip #Day3

This post may contain affiliate links, clicking on those links may earn some commission to us without any additional cost to you.

The First day of our #NewMexicoTrip started with White Sands National park.

After our day spent completely in Carlsbad National Park on #Day2, we drove to Roswell and stayed there in the night. 

New Mexico Trip with kids

International UFO Museum and Research center

Roswell, as you might know, is famous as the Land of Aliens, which is a fun place to spend a half-day. As many blogs suggested as this is a must-visit, we went to the International UFO Museum and Research center

The museum has a lot of information and collection of facts about UFO sightings, aliens spotted at different places across the world, Voice recordings, and paper clippings of UFO sightings in Roswell, movies that were taken on this theme etc., The Entrance fee is $5. 


The museum is mostly focused on the 1947 Roswell crash and the UFO sighting event. The museum also has a gift store with souvenirs and books related to UFO.

Roswell UFO museum

Roswell UFO museum

Bottomless Lakes State Park

While we were driving Roswell from Carlsbad, we found the signs to Bitterlake National wildlife refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park, but we couldn't stop by due to lack of time. 

I suggest that you check Bottomless Lake state park if you get time. Bottomless Lakes State Park has 9 small and deep lakes which are around 18 miles from Roswell in Pecos river valley. There are options to hike around the lake.

Downtown and Alien Stuff

The whole downtown is filled with pictures of Aliens, almost before every store. McDonald's and KFC's also changed their architecture with Space and Alien themes. 

Alien Zone (Area 51 museum) and UFO Space Walk are worth a visit if you want to take a selfie with Aliens :p

We started from Roswell to Santa Fe around noon and by the time we reached Santa Fe, the weather was pleasant. So, we decided to visit Bandelier National monument before signing off for the day.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National monument protects around 33,000 acres of land with ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. This is a fun and educational place for kids to hike and learn. 

Bandelier National Monument


The ancient Pueblo people lived here around 1150 CE in dwellings constructed from Volcanic tuff. The cliffs of Frijoles Canyon were created from the ash of massive volcanic eruptions from the Jemez mountains. 

A million years ago, A volcano erupted spewing a lot of Volcanic ash. After the magma is emptied, it collapsed down to a circular depression called Caldera. Bandelier is located near this caldera known as Valles Caldera. After the ash is cooled, it became a soft and light rock called tuff. Ancestor pueblo people used these tuff rocks to build their dwellings. 

Bandelier National Monument

Hiking in Bandelier National monument with kids

I have read in multiple articles that kids will surely enjoy hiking in Bandelier. We took the 1.2-mile main ruin trail. This trail takes 45 mins to 1 hr, covering around 21 numbered stops and some of them are Big kiva, talus house, and Longhouse. 

There are some ladders to climb and see cavates (small human-made alcoves). Kids enjoyed climbing them and this trail is good and easy for kids.

Bandelier National Monument

We wanted to take 2.9 mile Upper falls trail to watch waterfalls, but couldn't do as the trail is closed due to icy conditions. The alcove house trail seemed tough with kids due to 140 ft. vertical ladders. 

The drive back to Santafe is also beautiful from Bandelier National monument. We saw many burnt trees on the way. Fire danger seems to be high here.

Bandelier National Monument

I suggest you visit Valles Caldera recreational area and Jemez falls if you can. We couldn't do them as we were tired and it was becoming dark. Anderson Overlook, White rock overlook, and Bradbury Science museum are worth a visit if you have time. 

We reached the hotel by 7pm itself and we could taste the awesome dosas from "Paper Dosa" restaurant. This restaurant has become our favorite in Santa Fe and we are going to visit this every time we travel through Santa Fe from now onwards.

Paper Dosa

The Plan for the next day is to hike the famous tent rocks. More details in my next travelogue. 

This is our second visit to Santa Fe and so, we have already visited some good places here. Read this travelogue to know more about the best places to visit in Santa Fe

Until next time,

Pin it for later!

Roswell and Bandelier National Monument

Accommodations near Roswell, NM

22 May, 2020

5 Free Financial Planning Tools You should know!

I am not a financial planning expert, but I am always conscious of my earnings, savings, and I follow a budget plan. 

In these times of Covid-19 where job security is not that good and the global economy doesn't feel much stable, it becomes very important for us to look into our everyday expenses more closely and use any financial tools to make better decisions when it comes to Personal Finance.  What do you say?

I used to sit with my dad in my childhood from around 10 years of my age or so, to understand the everyday expenses of our family, the budget planning, the extra expenses that we can cut, etc., Nowadays, I think of the different ways to save money for our first home, for children's education, emergency fund, health insurance, and savings. 

Fortunately, we have many free financial tools available like Calculator.me

Pin it for later!

Budget Planning:

When I checked this Budget planning tool, I felt, it is super simple to use. You just enter the Net-income for which you want to create a budget like monthly or annual income. It calculates the minimum and maximum values you can spend on multiple things like Savings, utilities, housing, loans, insurance, etc., 

This tool calculates the percentages based on suggested guidelines by Dave Ramsey, the author of Financial Peace. 

Budget Planning Calculator

Life Insurance Needs :

Life insurance ensures that our family is protected financially even in our absence. It is really important to know how much we should set aside for Life insurance needs. If we are not sure, this tool might help to calculate how much life insurance is enough to provide financial security for our family.

Retirement Planning :

We often tend to ignore about retirement until we reach the age of 40 or so. We usually spend luxuriously and enjoy life in our youth. Of course, there is nothing wrong with enjoying our early years of work, but it becomes easy, if we start retirement planning a bit early.

This Retirement Planning calculator lets us decide on how much amount we should put aside now to have a comfortable life after retirement. The good thing is - it even allows us to consider inflation in the future!

Savings :

Keeping something aside as savings is a basic financial plan that everyone does. But, we also need some knowledge on how interests are calculated, how to earn high-interest rates, how compound interest is calculated, and the best ways to deposit/ invest money to get great returns.

I am a novice in this field and have to rely on good savings calculators like this.

Savings Calculator

Frugal Living:

We can change our lifestyle to avoid unnecessary expenses if we can find better alternatives. For example: Taking lunch from home is better than relying on take-outs regularly. We can cook fresh vegetables and can improve our health instead of relying on takeouts, whose quality of nutrition is doubtful.

Even though we tend to lean towards branded products, sometimes it makes sense to try local and generic store brand products without any judgment. Some store-brand products are equal in quality when compared to branded ones and might cost a bit less than them. Check out more ideas about frugal living.

What do you think of simple ways to save money and what are the best Financial tools that help you in day-to-day life?

Please do let me know in the comments. I would love to know more about Financial planning.

Until next time,

15 May, 2020

The Storm - Ponnis' Beloved Volume 2 - English Translation by Sumeetha Manikandan - [Book Review]

“Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these”

Book Details:

Title: The Storm - Ponnis' Beloved Volume 2

An English Translation of Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan

Author of Original Novel in Tamil: Kaliki Krishnamurthy
English Translation: Sumeetha Manikandan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Print Length: 389 pages
Source : A Kindle copy


Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

Ponni's Beloved - The Storm is the second volume in these series. Here we follow on the footsteps of Vandiya Devan all the way to Sri Lanka in search of Ponniyin Selvan. Does he fulfil his mission? Is he successful in bringing the Prince back to the Chola Kingdom? What happens to the murderous assassins that Nandini sends after the Prince? Read volume 2 to know all the answers...

Purchase Link:

All Volumes : Amazon

If you love reading audio books,

My Review:

Ponnis' Beloved - Volume 2 is better than Volume 1 and I gave Volume 1 5/5 stars rating,  so you can imagine how good this book is!

While I loved the environment and cultural descriptions and character introductions in Volume 1, I  loved the plot and twists in the story in Volume 2. This Volume covered a lot of stories from the perspective of different characters and so, it increased the clarity in the reader's minds.

As the book title goes - The Storm,  most of the story takes place on the Sea and we get to directly see/read more of The Ponniyan Selvan (hero). We also get to know the cunning plans of queen Nandini Devi and her husband. The flashback of the King Sundar Cholan and the character of deaf and mute woman are really interesting.

This book is more focused on Ponni's beloved and Samudra kumari,  their inner feelings, love, ambitions,  and their responsibilities.

In addition to the characterization, the narrative is always the best in both volumes. The pace is perfect. Whenever I read, I couldn't put the book down even when I have some important personal work. It's gripping and immersive.

My Rating : 5/5

About the Author:

Sumeetha Manikandan, a freelance content writer is an English literature graduate with a journalism and mass communication diploma. She lives in Chennai with her husband and daughter. After a decade long career in dotcom industry, she started working as a freelance writer from home. She wrote her debut novel, ‘The Perfect Groom’ as a script for a serial, which she converted into a novella for Indireads.

Until next time,

13 May, 2020

Angel on the window #WordlessWednesday

At Bishop castle,  Rye, Colorado 
Last summer

Until next time, 

Linking this post to #wordlesswednesday hosted by Natasha and Esha.

05 May, 2020

Gratitude List - April 2020 #GratitudeCircle

Love, Happiness, and Gratitude.

We need all of these in this crucial and tough time that we are all going through. 

Due to COVID-19 Many might have lost jobs, many are in the danger of losing their income in the future, many businesses already facing losses due to closures, students lost the last quarter of their school year, stocks are going down, Many going into depression.  No one can ever sum up all the impacts of the Corona Virus yet.

As of today, globally 2.5 lakhs people lost their lives for COVID and there are 36 lakhs of confirmed cases. 

If you have a job right now and are not afraid of you and your family's financial needs, consider you are some of the luckiest. Be kind and grateful more than ever!

I am deeply grateful for my current situation and here is my Gratitude List for April 2020:

Dance School:

I have never thought of establishing a dance school and becoming a teacher myself. Never in my dreams or future plans. 

But it happened with my Guru's blessings. My teacher or my parents might have given more blessings and wishes which made this happen. I don't know. 

I named it "Kala Deepika Dance Academy". I know only one thing - everybody has a purpose in their life and one of my purposes is to teach dance.

Health :

I am not in pink of my health but I am grateful for having an active lifestyle, being a vegetarian, and having a supportive family.

Due to working from home, I am getting time for evening walks. On some days, I get time to watch tv and relax. I know that many women are not that lucky with a lot of work to do at home and also take care of children. I wish they take care of their health too.

I successfully stopped taking daily coffee. Green tea never suits my body, so have to plan for some good beverage without milk. 


Office work increased in the last month so much but I cannot complain, right? when many are losing jobs now. 

Even though work-related stress is more, I am grateful for the learning opportunity that I am getting. I could learn some new skills in the last month and complete Agile SAFE certification as well! 


I am never a foodie, but staying at home and eating home food for a long time is a bit boring. 

So, I tried a few dishes which I usually don't try. Successfully baked strawberry muffins, snickerdoodle cookies, prepared gulab jamun twice, learned the technique of making good masala chai, etc.,

A pat on my back as I don't enjoy the cooking space much :-)

Strawberry Muffins


Last, but not least! 
Every year I get tempted to take A2Z blogging challenge. this year too.. 

But, the situations were not that good to take part in the challenge. More work daily stretching beyond office hours, the stress of guiding kids, and helping them in online learning while office work is going on etc ., making me super tired by 6 PM. Then, cooking follows, eating, and sleeping.

But, every blogger gets an itch for writing, right? I couldn't resist that itch. Just on April 1st, I made a quick list of places to visit in Colorado for each alphabet, registered for the challenge, and jumped into the bandwagon. 

I have spent just 30 to 40 mins a day to quickly write a post, add photos, links, review, and publish. I could complete the challenge! 

You can check all my posts of A2Z Challenge here.

So, that's it from my side! Of course, a lengthy post. We are all longing for a friendly , face to face talk right?

How about your April? How did it go? Did COVID impact you a lot? Do let me know your comments.

Until next time,

Linking this post to #GratitudeCircle blog hop hosted by Vidya Sury.

Pin it for later!

02 May, 2020

Down the Memory Lane..

The Red roses meant Passionate romance to me. But, not after this...

   PC: Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

It was after my first child's delivery. The joy of giving birth to a beautiful boy couldn't dominate the pain that I had to endure due to postpartum problems
Within 7 days of delivery, Doctor told that I have to undergo minor surgery.

I was already in pain and depression, but there was no other option. The minor surgery that doctor said was not that minor anyways, another wave of pain, and recovery ahead. 

The surgery was done on our 4th anniversary. I had plans to celebrate our anniversary with our baby. But, I was in the hospital and in pain, that can't happen, right?

When my husband got the bunch of red roses to wish for our anniversary, tears rolled down my cheeks and we just hugged and didn't talk anything. May be from that day, red roses remind me of the support and love of my spouse.

PS: Years passed, we celebrated our 11th anniversary in February with 2 kids :-)

Until next time,

Linking to Booksnista for the creative writing prompt Red roses.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...