12.28.2012

Amazing Perry Farrell/Danny Clinch GIVEAWAY!!

-THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED-

Hey everyone,
I have an amazing giveaway for you. It ends soon so have a read below and be sure to enter asap! It could make a great belated holiday for someone... or yourself!
We are giving one lucky U.S. reader a high end leather bracelet and a special edition photography book from legendary music industry photographer Danny Clinch featuring amazing photographs shot at the inaugural Lollapalooza Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil with Perry Farrell.


 
To enter for the giveaway, please be 21+, and live within the United States, and sign in via Facebook in the widget below. Only individuals that “Like” Maestro Dobel Tequila will be eligible.
All entries MUST be submitted by midnight on January 7th.   The final recipient will be chosen at random.
And don’t forget, once you have “liked” the Dobel Facebook page, you can then download Jane’s Addiction’s latest album, The Great Escape Artist, FOR FREE courtesy of Dobel Tequila and the band’s legendary front-man Perry Farrell.
Good luck!

12.27.2012

How Was Your Holiday?

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. We got a little dusting upstate Christmas Eve so it was a nice little surprise. No snow in the city now, but it looks as though other areas got a lot more. Would love to see your holiday pictures, please leave a link the comments if you blogged your day. And what was your favorite gift?


12.21.2012

BBQ's are not just for summer gatherings!

A great guest post about BBQ's and other ways to enjoy them other than a typical summer get-together! 

I love gathering my friends and family round my BBQ in summer, as it's often one of the only chances we can all get together, enjoy good food and catch up on the latest happenings. However, I've come to realize I have more opportunities to do this.

Whenever there's a special occasion, such as a significant birthday or a christening, I'm going to suggest we celebrate by getting out my Weber gas BBQ and piling on the food. That way, we can all chat to one another and mingle, rather than being tied to a table in smaller groups.

It can sometimes be tricky deciding what to have at formal three-course meals, not to mention expensive. I know from organizing a wedding that the cost of everyone to have starters, mains and desserts (not to mention drinks and canapes!) can run into thousands of pounds/dollars.


There's also sorting out who eats what. While the bride and groom should undoubtedly pick dishes that they like, all too often you can become too focused on what your guests will want - and when paying a fortune for each individual, the pressure is on to get it right.

However, when browsing our catering options I noticed an increasing number of companies offer things like hog roasts and barbecues. I think that's a fantastic option, as this caters to all tastes and ages. Even those who do not eat meat can enjoy things like goats cheese and vegetable kebabs, as well as all of the side dishes that are part and parcel of a BBQ.

Rather than pouring over dish after dish, as you would for a formal meal, a barbecue is a lot easier to deal with. Aside from having enough veggie options, simply pick around 3 different meats that can be carved on to sandwiches.


It gets easier still if the wedding reception - or perhaps the christening or significant birthday - is held in a marquee in someone's field or back garden. This means you aren't tied to a specific caterer, allowing you to push down the cost of your party even more.

Get everyone to bring their favorite homemade puddings or side dish, as well as a bottle or two of drink, and you have a ready-made celebration! I also think socializing around a Weber grill is a lot more personal, and you might even decide to do away with the seating plan - one more thing not to worry about!

A BBQ can also be easily tailored depending on how many guests you invite. If it's just a small gathering, one joint of meat or a large bird, a few side dishes and a main dessert might be all that you need. If you've got more guests coming, simply increase the amount, but stick with the basic menu.
Special occasions can be stressful enough, without having to worry about whether your guests are enjoying the food. This is why I think a BBQ is a fantastic idea - everyone loves the food served up, and there's usually too much, rather than too little. That way, you can be sure no one will go hungry, giving them plenty of energy to dance the night away.


Have you attended a special event where there was a BBQ, instead of a sit-down meal? If so, leave your thoughts below.

12.20.2012

The BEST Hotel in johannesburg

Our very last adventure in Africa was in Johannesburg. I know what you are thinking, "What about the Safari?! You haven't posted about it yet!!" Well, I am technically saving the very best for last, so my South African post today is all about the hotel in Johannesburg.

We were just staying in this city for two nights before the big flight home to NYC, so we wanted a place to rest and recuperate from the Safari. And let me tell you, we could not have picked a better place to stay than The Residence, which is currently the number 1 hotel in Johannesburg on Tripadvisor. Like the food in Franschhoek... we did not feel worthy!  Look at this room and terrace... right out of a Bond film!



Once again, we felt very awkward at how lavish this hotel was, knowing quite well that not everyone lives this way in Africa, let alone other parts of the world, let alone ourselves! I mean, look at this place. It's gated and just a few blocks away from Nelson Mandela's mansion!

There was not much to do in Johannesburg, other than walking around Nelson Mandela square and the malls, so if anyone has any advise on what to do here please let me know. We were not very keen on taking a tour of Soweto, mainly because when we eventually do go we want to help out. We don't want to tour around in a town car taking photos. What good does that really do?

Back to the hotel... Usually hotel food (especially room service) is nothing to scream about, but the below Calamari dish was the best I've ever had in my life. It was like a Piccata version of Calamari: lemon, butter, capers, wine, and more butter. How could you go wrong with that combo? And the Calamari itself was tender and cooked to perfection. Just look this amazing spread. The chef there is a genius!

Pesto Bruschetta


The Best Calamari


Phyllo Filled with Mushrooms and Cheese
(how cute is that cap on top?)


Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese


Lovely Creme Brulee- Panne Cotta Style


Fresh Coffee with a shot of Amarula


We really had a magnificent time at this hotel. The staff was so nice and accommodating and I highly recommend it for a nice layover in Johannesburg. They also have a heated pool, a cold pool, a tennis court, a piano room, a boat room, beautiful flowers and gardens, a sky bar, a koi pond, and complimentary cold AND hot breakfast.












Getting artsy in the evening...



What better way to get ready for a 16 hour flight than to sip some wine in a hot tub among everything else? Now back to reality in NYC. No hot tub in sight. But there is wine!

What is the best hotel you've ever stayed at?


Amp up your holiday look!


We all love looking good. It gives us that confidence to go out and give our best. Looking good boosts up our confidence to work. To look good, is an art, it is actually that aesthetic sense. It is a hard work that should be done and maintained throughout, although there are various tips that might make one look pretty just in some minutes.
Having a party at the office, or a function to attend or may be going for a vacation in all these cases we always wish to look better, here are a few tips that might prove helpful :

Credit
1. Exfoliation of the skin
Exfoliating the skin regularly would help prevent removing the dead skin, dust trapped between pores, black-heads, white-heads and oils, however exfoliation is a must for dry skin but due to excessive pollution it is perfectly suitable for other skin-types as well.
2. Moisturizing
Exfoliation often leads to tightening up of the skin, hence moisturizing the same soon after exfoliation is a must. This is the ultimate food of the skin, would restore the water balance of the skin. While moisturizing do not only concentrate on the face but also hands and legs followed by the nails. Plastic gloves should be worn while doing the dishes that would help prevent the nails from chipping, acetone and formaldehyde-based nail polish-removers should be avoided as they happen to dry up the nails excessively rather acetate ones should be used.
3. Smoking, tanning, and salons should be avoided
Doctors say all three of these prove harmful for the skin and hair. While going out in the sun always use a sun-block with a good SPF or sunlight protecting factor, this contains calamine, zinc-oxide, and titanium-oxide that would prevent the one from getting darken, however only a little bit of sun-rays provide us with vitamin-D the rest is extremely dangerous, especially the ultra-violet rays , they are extremely carcinogenic in nature. Salons must not be visited on a regular basis, it might hamper the skin due to excessive torture on the same. Smoking is terrible for skin, it will only worsen the colour of the lips, make one bald, and turn one extremely dull, followed by cancer and many other deadly diseases.
4. Managing the hair
The scalp should always be kept clean, adding an egg with the shampoo, while doing so, would provide protein to the hair and would add that mirror-shine followed by soft and silky look. This would condition and moisturize the hair and there would not be any need of applying any other conditioner available in the market.
5. Cold cream, should be applied to face and neck on a regular basis, this in turn would help retaining the moisture balance of the skin. One can even apply rose-water and glycerine to serve the purpose.
These were the essential and readily available beauty tips that can be followed anyhow and anywhere, cost-effective and would provide the best of the results. If followed on a regular basis, one can always look his/her best.
About The AuthorKelly is a writer/blogger. She contributes to Infurn.

Keeping your bathroom tidy

I often find (and I'm sure I'm not alone) that one of the biggest problems I have in my bathroom is clutter. There are always cosmetics, moisturizers, toothbrushes and a host of other things littering the side, which often makes it look untidy.

It's especially frustrating if you've just fitted a new bathroom suite that looks fantastic, but is detracted from by the paraphernalia that's used every day in this part of the home and often left out.
Of course, one of the biggest battles is remembering to put all those bottles away when you've finished with them (and encouraging everyone else in your household to do the same), but I think it is certainly easier if you've got plenty of room to store them in.

Bathroom furniture can go a long way towards helping with this; here are a few of the most useful storage products on the market.

Under-sink units

I often think that the space underneath the sink is wasted in bathrooms, but it's the ideal location for storing all kinds of things. If you fit a cupboard below the basin, you can put everything from tubs of moisturizer to cleaning products in here, allowing you to reduce the amount of things cluttering up the sides.

Even if your basin is only small, there are plenty of units designed for this size of fixture, including handy corner cupboards that will make sure every bit of space in your bathroom is used effectively (which is particularly great if you have a small washroom).

Washstands are another option if you've got a counter-top basin, with a host of products on the market providing cupboard space or open shelves, depending on your preference. These can also help make a feature out of your basin, which is ideal if you've gone for one with a striking design.

Wall-mounted cupboards
When floor space is at a premium in a bathroom, wall-mounted units can be a more appropriate choice. They are also excellent for family homes, as they allow parents to keep things like medication and makeup out of the reach of little hands.

I think it's sensible to combine your wall-mounted bathroom furniture with a mirror, by choosing a unit that features a looking glass on the door. That way, even if you only have a small room, you can still fit in everything you'll need to make it practical and attractive.

Solutions for small bathrooms

If you really don't have much space for bathroom furniture, one of the best options is probably a tallboy unit. As their name suggests, these are tall cupboards, allowing you to make the most of the vertical space.

As they are slim, they are ideal for cramped washrooms where you need extra storage space for cleaning products, cosmetics and bath products. There are a host of designs on the market, some of which feature multiple cupboards and others that comprise one main closet with several shelves inside.

They are available as wall-mounted and freestanding units, so you can pick a solution that's the most suitable for your bathroom. I think one of the best ways to use these cupboards, if you have room, is on either side of your sink. They create a fantastic frame for the basin and give you loads of storage close at hand - in my experience, sinks are one of the places that get cluttered most quickly.

What tips do you have for keeping a bathroom neat and tidy?

12.19.2012

Holiday Cheer and Some Blog Changes

Hello everyone,

Over the past few months this blog has been filled to the brim with guest posting and content articles. Moving forward, I will no longer accept guest posts UNLESS the author has their own blog on BLOGGER or WORDPRESS, or if the inquiry is in regards to a giveaway or product review. I cannot accept content articles any longer. I apologize.

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading and posting all of these wonderful articles in the past, it has been too much work for myself to keep up with. So much so that I put my own personal blogging aside as it took so long to post and format other posts.

That being said, I still have so much to share with you all on a more personal blogging level. With the holidays right around the corner, things will be slow, but I assure you it's my goal to have a more personal presence here in the very near future. Like our safari adventure. More to come!



And with that, I'll leave you with some holiday cheer.

12.17.2012

Family Things to Do in Paris

Paris is often recognized as a place of romance, passion, lights and beauty. Hence it is often considered as a best place for couples but at the same time, it is also a perfect and wonderful place for family fun. In fact, the families, who consider their first trip to Europe do not miss visiting Paris and keep this city as their most preferred place to visit. The reasons are simple, you could find a number of children activities hubs and parks all across the city. The flat kinds of streets are simple to walk with a stroller or any tired kid. You could also find a very good public transport options fit for families to move. So, once you plan a family trip at Paris, you could try doing the following things with them.

Visit Museums:


photo credit: Panoramas via photopin cc
Paris has a number of attractions for kids. You could find a number of museums for them, which attract them to educate and entertain them. The best choice could be Paris Science Museum, which is a bit educational and at the same time entertaining for kids. It is basically a massive size interactive playground, which encourages kids to experiment and explore a number of things along with so many options to play and entertain. You could also think of visiting The Cité des Enfants a children’s museum, which is the favorite place for kids all around the world, where everything so smartly designed for kids to entertain and educate themselves.

Visit Children’s Parks:


photo credit: Paul-W via photopin cc

There are so many children’s parks in Paris, which remain the best attraction for children and families. For instance, Parc de la Villette, which was basically a reclaimed industrial landscape converted into futuristic park. You could find a number of playful park structures here, which were designed keeping in mind the kids’ psyche and requirements. The favorite spots here include the bamboo maze and the massive dragon slide. The other similar place worth visiting for families includes Jardin d’Acclimatation, which is also a children’s park. Although, it was designed during the 19th century, yet it has come up with number of updates and cool rides. The favorite places include Petit train, a sprinkler park, a zoo, jungle boat ride etc. which is not only suitable for children for people of any age group.

Visit the Paris Plage:


photo credit: Ol.v!er [H2vPk] via photopin cc

The term plage means beach. Though Paris has no natural beach, yet the artificial beach called the Paris Plage happens to be a great attraction for families coming for a holiday in this city. It is created by dumping loads of sand along the river Seine simply to create some urban beach for tourists. It has a number of food stands, concerts, bouncy houses and cool games. Some of the favorite annual activity for small children’s parent is to chase small children while they fling themselves in the river. Here you could find a number parents participating in this event.

Try Ice Skating:


photo credit: jpbourque via photopin cc

If you visit Paris somewhere in between December to March, you could find a number of ice rinks over several strategic locations. These include near Montparnasse tower and the other one is Place de l’Hôtel de Ville near City Hall, where you could go for ice skating at these locations along with enjoying cool winter days in the city.

The Context Paris’ Family Program:

To catch up the perfect family place for family programs, don’t forget to visit places like Gothic Paris, Montmartre and Louvre for kids. Here you could find loads of fun for your family along with getting some painting lessons for your children.

Paris is not only suitable for couples but also a great place for a family holiday. Right from visiting a number of children’s park to museums, you have several other options for you to enjoy with your family. The above are few of the things, which you could do with your family in Paris.

About The Author: Kelly is a writer/blogger. She loves writing travelling and reading books. She contributes in Homes By Vanderbuilt. Her contribution can be also found here Homes By Vanderbuilt.

12.14.2012

Caring for antique jewelry

It's really lovely being given antique jewelry or buying some for yourself, but to make sure your precious possessions last many more years, it is important to look after them carefully. Cleaning and taking care of your jewelry is a must - so here are some of my tips on how to do so.

photo credit: muohace_dc via photopin cc

1) Keep them safe

The best way to make sure that antique jewelry continues to stand the test of time is to store it somewhere safe. Unless you plan to wear it every day - perhaps it is your engagement or wedding ring - put it in a lined box that will keep it protected from dust and dirt and away from other pieces of jewelry that might scratch it.

I find that the best place to store your rings, earrings, bracelets or necklaces is in the box they originally came in - but this isn't always possible with antique pieces. If you can't get this container, the next best thing to do is to put them in a soft pouch. Or, you can simply use a zip-lock food bag as these are excellent at keeping jewelry safe.

If you're looking after necklaces, make sure you fasten the chains - if you've ever tried to untangle a delicate necklace, you'll know how difficult this can be, so it is best to avoid this situation. In terms of where you should keep your jewelry boxes, do not put them in the bathroom. Metals and gemstones are particularly prone to damage when they're damp, so place them somewhere dry, such as a drawer instead.

2) Look after the stones

Of course, you will want to keep your gold, silver or platinum in as good a condition as possible, but I also think it's important to pay special attention to the stones in your jewelry as well. I regularly look at the stones of my rings and chains with a magnifying glasses - this doesn't just help because I have poor eyesight but also they are great for seeing if any tiny stones are loose or missing and if the claws are eroding or breaking.

Be careful when cleaning your jewelry - or indeed yourself - with soapy water, as this tends to cause gemstones to fade or discolor. If you're planning to clean your jewelry, it is worth using a gentle brush to softly scrub at the stone so any dirt can be removed from it.

If you have pearl jewelry, you'll have to treat this differently, as these gems are particularly susceptible to damage. Firstly, you shouldn't get any chemicals on your pearls and, as they are soft, simply wearing them every day or putting them in your handbag could see them getting scratched, so you might want to rethink how often you wear them!

3) Clean it regularly

Obviously the best way to care for your antique jewelry is to make sure you clean it regularly if you often wear your pieces - if you don't, you should just clean them before and after you want to put them on.

How you clean your jewelry will depend on what metal it is, as there are different methods and cleaning fluids for silver, gold and platinum. It is a good idea to buy the right detergent to really make sure your pieces last a long time. But if you just want to add some shine to your antique items, you can rub them with a soft cloth to remove any dirt, perfume or hand creams.

It is also wise to get your ring, necklace, earrings or bracelet regularly valued. Not only will this enable you to put accurate quotes on your high-value contents insurance policy, but you will also see whether the value of your pieces are depreciating because you are not taking adequate care of them. If I found this out, it'd definitely encourage me to pay more attention to my jewelry and look after it more!

12.13.2012

Beautiful lingerie for all women from Dublin, Ireland


It is no great revelation that when you look on a lingerie site, or at lingerie adverts, the figures of the female models do not reflect the reality of most women’s figures. Apart from the freakishly thin figures that are an industry norm, another problem is that, as New York cartoonist and graphic novelist Art Spiegelman once said, “Photoshop has replaced the camera as the greatest liar”.

Recently we have seen more and more bikini or lingerie shoots ‘outed’ with a telling set of ‘before and after’ shots. The last I recall was for Victoria’s Secret back in July. Both alarming and sometimes funny, these show us how the model’s (rather skinny) figures were reduced with Photoshop – hips, arms and buttocks go under the pixel knife. And often enough we all laugh at how they accidentally removed a limb in the process of ‘perfecting’ nature.

But it is a serious issue that the beauty industry sells women ideals that do not occur in nature, making many women feel inadequate because they cannot obtain these figures.

Things are starting to change, albeit slowly. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign, launched in 2004, was groundbreaking in its use of ‘real women’. In March of 2012 the state of Israel introduced new legislation banning underweight women from catwalk shows or publicity material. The ‘Photoshop Law’ as it is known also forces agencies to state where digitally enhanced images are used.

And there are more and more companies catching on to the idea that not all women want to be sold completely unrealistic ideals of beauty. One such example, The Dublin Lingerie Company, hails from Dublin in Ireland, where they run an online store for real women.


Their slogan ‘with every woman in mind’ sums up their belief that pretty and sensual lingerie should be for everyone, and you won’t see any photoshopped models on their website. The DLC only stock specialist brands reflecting their ethos, and specialise in certain areas to make beautiful lingerie available to all women. These are:

Plus size - it is a well known fact that 70% of girls/ladies are now more than a C cup, so the majority of the collection covers C cup upwards. As well as cups AAA to KK, you will find back sizes 28 to 58.

Mother and baby – there is a lot of helpful information on the site about choosing and using maternity and nursing bras, and why these are important to protect and preserve the shape of your breasts during and after pregnancy. Plus of course a wide range of maternity and nursing bras that look and feel great.

Sportswear – like maternity and nursing bras, using a good sports bra is a really important way to protect your breasts, and should be an essential part of your sports kit. The DLC stock some great ladies sports brands.

Mastectomy – nowadays there are some beautiful post operative and post surgery bras on the market and caring lingerie companies should be offering these.

Also check out their YouTube channel for a really great measuring guide, as well as helpful advice on sports bras, shapewear and post operative bras. And not a photoshopped model in sight!

12.12.2012

Shark Diving in South Africa

Whether you are staying in Cape Town or in wine country, taking a day trip out to Shark Alley in the Western Cape of South Africa is a an experience that you can't miss. We were woken up at our Cape Town apartment around 5am to hop in a car that would drive us out to the ship. It was a long ride, so I actually recommend doing this while you stay in wine country instead to shave some time off the back and forth. But, seeing the countryside is nothing too taxing!

Once you arrive at Marine Dynamics (note there are quite a few boats that do tours, but this one is Eco-friendly and gives back to the sharks!) you pick out your wet suit size and sign in. I should have gone with my instincts, knowing what I'm packing on my backside, and picked a large. Maybe they were trying to be nice with recommending a medium size but on the boat I could not even get one leg of the wetsuit over my calf. So that was nice and embarrassing. So go with your gut! No pun intended. Then an old man got all pissy because I was taking too long in the bathroom dealing with the debacle. Don't they change naked in the gym anyway? I digress...

After you pick out the wetsuit you can sit down for a nice breakfast that they serve (included) while they give you a rundown of the day. Then it's a quick walk to the boat!

While we were on our way out to Shark Alley, we saw some whales.

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This photo reminds of The Goonies!

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More great shots of the coastline:

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And now for the great whites. The staff lure the sharks over to the tank with bait so that you can go under the water in the cage and see them. You just have a mask on. No scuba gear which was a relief to me. Every time they instruct you to go underwater, you'll see the shark coming towards you! It's also fun to keep your head above water to see the sharks leap out at the bait.

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This is how close they get! Amazing!! 

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Other tips: Don't forget a bathing suit (guilty) and warm clothes to change into for ride back (not guilty), don't go hungover (guilty- good move on my part- don't drink and shark dive), make sure your go-pro camera is charged and the button didn't get pushed in your bag so the the battery died the moment you were in the water (guilty), and don't forget Dramamine (not guilty)!


Coming soon... our safari experience!
Previous South Africa Posts: