Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Simply Novelli - Quick & Easy French Classics

As some of you may know, I like to cook even though I'm not the best cook in the world. I would say that I'm a fairly good cook and I enjoy it so that's all that matters to me. I'm also a person who loves to learn new ways of cooking or new recipes. I'm an adventurous eater so I love trying things that I've never eaten before.

So when I received the book Simply Novelli by Jean-Christophe Novelli, I was so excited to take a look and try my hand at some delicious French classics. I've always been in awe of French cuisine but it always seemed very daunting for someone at my skill level. However Mr. Novelli's book makes learning these French classics very accessible to all of us everyday regular type of cooks. The subtitle of the book is "Quick & Easy French Classics" and Mr. Novelli has written this book in a style that makes the recipes easy to follow.
Cassoulet de Cabillaud - Cassoulet of Cod

Visually, the book is stunning! It's a hardcover of medium size and it's very easy to keep the pages open as you are following a recipe. The photographs are amazing! They look as if you could just reach right into the page and have a taste of this delicious food.

I was intrigued to try my hand at one of the recipes so I made the Tomato & Bread Soup. It was delicious! It took a very little time to make and the ingredients were easy to find. Some of the ingredients were things that I already had on hand and the others were easily accessible.

Tartiflette - Creamy Oven Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

The ingredients list for this tasty soup are as follows: extra virgin olive oil, one leek, garlic, tomatoes, stale bread, vegetable stock, basil, parmesan cheese, and salt & pepper. This soup serves 6-8 and the total time needed to make it is about 25 minutes including prep time.

There are so many amazing dishes in this book and I plan to try a great number of them if not all of them. They all look delicious and nothing seems to be beyond a regular home cook like me.

Poire au Vin Rouge - Pears Poached in Red Wine

Christmas is only a week away now and I think that this book would be great for any of the foodies in your life. Or if you'd like to try your hand at some French cuisine you should get it for yourself. To me it's more than a book, it's an experience!

Simply Novelli by Jean-Christophe Novelli, is available at Amazon .

Monday, December 02, 2013

Book Review: Better Body Workouts for Women


Recently I was sent a book for review called, Better Body Workouts for Women, by Dean Hodgkin and Caroline Pearce. It's described as a complete guide to fitness, weight loss & performance on the cover. When I picked up the book that line got my attention because it struck me as an all encompassing idea of fitness. Well when I read the book I found out that this was definitely the case. I wondered beforehand how motivational a book would be versus a DVD or some other vehicle of delivery and I found the book to be very effective.

This book is very user friendly and boasts a variety of step by step color photographs to show readers the correct way to perform the various exercises. Along with each photograph there is a note about the exercise focus so that readers can know what each exercise is targeting. There is also short paragraph to describe the exercise, along with a note about whether any equipment is needed. Many of the exercises do not require any equipment in order to be effective. Some exercises use a medicine ball, Swiss ball, weights or simply a chair. I am no athlete or a dedicated exerciser yet, but I found the exercises very accessible and there is room for progression definitely.
Better Body Workouts for Women is an excellent book because it has programs for increasing strength, endurance, power and agility as well as strategies for accelerating muscle development. The book also concentrates on breaking through those plateaus that we all hit in fitness programs. The instructions and tips are easy to understand and it makes for interesting reading before you try out the exercises.

I love the first couple of paragraphs of the introduction page. They are as follows:

'Warning! This book contains advice for women who are serious about fitness. If you are not looking to dramatically change the shape of your body and your outlook, put this book back on the shelf and walk away!

Okay, so that's a bold statement to make, but it's only fair you know that this is not just another tome to sit alongside other titles in the fitness genre. Rather, this book is for the woman who is exercising regularly but who feels somewhat in a routine rut, or the one who has found that the law of diminishing returns has begun to apply, whereby she stops seeing results despite sticking rigorously to her routine.'

I liked that the book started off like this because it shows you what the aim of the book is and it helps the reader decide if this book is for them. I like the honesty that is presented in the introduction.

The chapters within the book highlight a variety of subjects and are as follows:

Chapter 1 Training Essentials
Chapter 2 Fitness Assessments
Chapter 3 Nutrition Matters
Chapter 4 Warming Up and Cooling Down
Chapter 5 All In Aerobics
Chapter 6 Go Anaerobic
Chapter 7 Going Strong
Chapter 8 Power Up
Chapter 9 Get Agile
Chapter 10 Personalise Your Programme
Chapter 11 Sample Workouts and Programmes
Chapter 12 Training Diary


I really enjoyed reading this book and trying out some of the various exercises. As I mentioned earlier, I am not one who works out regularly like I should, but I do believe that Better Body Workouts for Women is a good tool for me and I hope that it can be for some of you.

We are getting close to Christmas soon and this is a great gift to give to someone who is wanting to get into shape. Or it can be a great gift that you give to yourself if you want to get in shape in the new year.

I am going to continue to use this book as a guide in my own fitness goals because it is very accessible and offers a wealth of information between its covers.

Visit humankinetics.com to purchase your copy of this new and helpful book.



*Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Light Switch Timer Review

Recently I was sent a product to try out in my home. It is called the Light Switch Timer and I really like it. The Light Switch Timer is the first automatic light switch timer to easily fit over your existing wall light switch and you don't need to do any wiring with which is excellent.


With 4 out of 5 burglaries occurring when there's no one at home, the police and security professionals often advise homeowners to fit some type of timer lights for those times when the house is empty or in darkness. It acts as a burglar deterrent.

It's so easy to install, just slide the cradle over your wall light switch and slot the control unit into the cradle. In no time, you can program your main lights to turn on and off whenever you decide. And the best part is you don't have to call out an electrician to install the timer. It acts as a programmable light switch.


Here's a short video that demonstrates how simple the installation is:



The Light Switch Timer can be purchased for £27.99 at lightswitchtimer.co.uk

I installed the Light Switch Timer for purposes of review, but it is still installed in my home and it is now a vital part of it. It's an excellent timer light switch. This is a great product and I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity to try it out for myself.

Friday, November 08, 2013

How to Have a Relaxing English Country Weekend on a Budget

Today I have a guest post by Marcela De Vivo once again and this time she is sharing tips on how to enjoy visiting the English countryside on a budget. Enjoy!

There are few landscapes richer than the English countryside; although England is small enough that you can easily travel the width of the island on foot, there’s enough history, culture, and scenery in between that it could take you a lifetime to truly experience it all.

The royal green fields bordered by hedgerows; the rolling dales and seaside moors; and the countless, quaint country villages of thatched roof cottages and wooden pubs seemingly frozen in time: this idyllic countryside is the perfect place for a quiet weekend getaway from the buzzing metropolis of London, or the overcrowded tourist spots like Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon.


relaxing1
Image courtesy of Flickr
 

The best part, of course, is that if you know how to travel savvy, a trip through England’s countryside won’t break the bank.  All it takes a little planning and, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be on your way to your dream trip, on budget, in no time!

Log Off

Keeping yourself connected while travelling abroad can be VERY expensive.  This is especially true in England, where it is common practice for most places, even high-end hotels, to charge hourly for wifi, regardless of it’s speed. International smartphone plans can get pricey, and there are a lot of hidden charges to be wary of. And, if you’re journeying deep into the countryside, it’s not like there’s going to be a Starbucks on every corner for you to catch a few free Mbps.

If you are in desperate need of a steady internet access and plan on bringing a computer, go local and buy a Wifi Dongle from a UK provider. That will provide you prepaid wifi on-the-go, and you can choose your data plan based on your budget.

However, question first if you do actually need that connection. If the aim of your vacation is to have a relaxing weekend, why get yourself bogged down by technology? Spend your time enjoying what you came to see: take in the beautiful scenery, breathe in the fresh air, and spend time exploring local sites or just mingling with the locals over a pint at the pub.


relaxing2
Image courtesy of Flickr
 
Leave the laptop at home. Bring your smartphone, but turn off data roaming and leave it in Airplane mode. You’ll save yourself the hassle—and some expensive charges when you get back home.

Cut Down Travel Costs

There are several ways to cut down travel costs during your trip. If you have your trip planned out beforehand, look into whether or not it would be more cost-effective to travel by rental car or public transportation. England has a great rail and bus system to get you from city to city, but if you plan on visiting multiple destinations in one day, or if you want to venture deeper into the countryside, having a car is a great asset.

At the same time, consider your accommodations. Do you need to stay in a nice hotel or bed-and-breakfast in each town? Do you even need to sleep in every town you visit? As mentioned early, England is a small country and the perfect place for making day-trips around a central location. In most cities with a tourist connection, there can be found a hostel that’s part of the YHA, the Youth Hostel Association. You don’t have to be a “youth” to rent a bed for a few nights, and these hostels are inexpensive, well-kept and great places to spend a few nights and meet new people.

Most rooms are male or female, containing six beds (three bunk beds), but if you want a little privacy you can book 1 or 2-bedroom rooms. These often need to be booked in advance, however, as opposed to be the bigger rooms, which often have a few beds open reserved every night for the playing-it-by-ear travellers.



relaxing3
Image courtesy of Flickr
 
As for visiting historical sites (and trust me, almost everything in England has some sort of historical tie), be economical in choosing where you visit, and HOW you want to visit it. For some of the bigger sites, like castles or forts, you can enter the grounds for free, but entry to the actual site could set you back up to 20 pounds. Usually the grounds of a landmark building are amazing all on their on their own.

If you are a history buff looking for a history-rich trip, however, look into getting an English Heritage Membership, which could cut your costs dramatically. 48 pounds will get you access to over 400 historic landmarks like castles, manors, Roman ruins and abbeys. Not to mention you get free access for your kids.

Eat Responsibly

Food is one of the biggest parts’ of any travellers budget. Eating out for every single meal can get expensive, so again having an idea of where you’ll be going each day and what you’ll be doing will help you keep a tight leash on your spending.

When possible, consider making your own meals. For example, if you plan on driving or hiking for a few days, stop by the local Tesco’s and buy sandwich and snack food that will make several good, on-the-go meal. This will keep you from having to stop for a big, costly lunch—because the truth is, in England, most of the meals you get will be big! Traditional breakfasts, lunch, AND dinner all contain hearty, fried foods that can be delicious, but also taxing on your wallet (and waistline!)

Having brunch or afternoon tea instead of lunch is another great way to cut down the cost of meals. Avoid eating at a restaurants or cafes attached to tourist attractions, too. These will most likely charge much more than the little pub or tea house down the lane.                                                                        



relaxing4
Image courtesy of Flickr
 
               
And finally—relax! If you’ve planned ahead and gotten a good sense of your budget, you won’t have to sweat the small details once you’re on the road. You can enjoy the full experience and immerse yourself in the quiet beauty of the English countryside.

And even if things don’t turn out quite the way you expected them to… remember this: there’s no such thing as a bad travel experience, only great travel stories to tell when you get home!

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California. She enjoys traveling with her family and knows that although it can be very expensive, there are definitely ways to cut back on your budget. She contributes to the Bellezza Spa blog, where you can read more of her work here. Follow her on Twitter today!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Save the Blow Dry Review

Recently I was asked to review a product called Save the Blow Dry. It's the moisture eliminating queen of shower caps. It promises to protect your hair from frizz when you go into the shower with your beautifully blow dried hair.

We all know how it is to go through all of the trouble to get your hair blown out only to then take a shower and have all of that effort go to waste. It can be really annoying!

So the folks at Save the Blow Dry have come up with a way to save our blow dried hair from the humidity of the shower.


The Save the Blow Dry shower cap was sent to me and I tried it out and I have to say it worked very well for me. I don't blow dry my hair out every day, but when I do it'll be great to know that I can count on this shower cap to keep my hair from going frizzy.

It's a generous sized cap so even if you have thick hair it will cover your hair well. It also has a good fit. When I've used shower caps in the past, the elastic bit is usually not snug at all so water and humidity can definitely get in. Well that's not a problem with this shower cap. The Save the Blow Dry shower cap fits snugly without crushing your head. It fits just right.

It also comes with a cool pink bow design that's slightly retro and I just love it! It has an internal layer of super-absorbent micro-weave toweling that protects the hair from frizz.

The Save the Blow Dry shower cap is priced at £14.95 and is available from selected retail and salon partners and at www.savetheblowdry.com.

A big bonus to purchasing this great shower cap is the opportunity to help others by your purchase of this product. Save the Blow Dry has partnered with Khandel light, a charity that works to greatly improve the lives of communities in and around Khandel, Rajastahan, India. Every Save the Blow Dry sold through the website, directly funds two weeks worth of safe drinking water for a family in this desert region, making a basic, but vital difference to people living with constant drought, where temperatures soar to 45 degrees Celsius. I love it when companies lend a helping hand to others!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

War of the Worlds Review

Orson Welles during the broadcast in 1938 - Courtesy PBS America
 
Recently I was given the opportunity to view a documentary courtesy of PBS America. The documentary tells the story of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that took place on October 30, 1938. Today marks the 75th anniversary of this legendary broadcast that alarmed millions on the night when it was heard.

For those of you who don't know about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, I'll give you a bit of background. On a Sunday evening millions of listeners were tuned in to listen to the radio as was customary in those days. And then at 8:15pm a report interrupted the broadcast and listeners were told that Martians had landed in New Jersey.

Immediately people were alarmed and called in to newspapers and others wondered what could be done to take on the invaders. Panic broke out all over the United States as people heard the report. Of course it was a masterfully executed hoax courtesy of Orson Welles, but many thought that it was truly the end of the world.

The documentary about the radio broadcast will be shown tonight at 9pm on PBS America (Sky channel 534 & Virgin Media channel 243) in order to coincide with the 75th anniversary.

I really enjoyed this documentary as I had heard about this broadcast by Orson Welles, but never knew the story behind it. This film does a very good job of giving a back story and lets us know what the times were like when this broadcast was done. This is an excellent study of the power of radio at the time and looks at how disasters being reported in real time such as the Hindenburg disaster made the times ripe for this hoax.

I really enjoyed this documentary and it is perfect timing since tomorrow is Halloween. It has just that right amount of spookiness if you put yourself in the place of the listeners back then. We have to remember that those were times without the internet and television and such, so finding out information was a lot tougher. People relied on their radios and the newspaper, so when the report came people thought that it had to be the truth.

I'd definitely recommend having a look at this documentary tonight because it's good fun. It was a pleasure to watch and I learned quite a few things.

Friday, October 11, 2013

London for the Ladies: A Guide to Having a Hen Party in London


The name hen party doesn’t exactly sound like the best time out for girls. Unlike stag parties for men. The stag is a majestic animal, something men are definitely not when they’re going out. 

Us ladies are left with the common hen. If only we could call them cat, bee or panther parties, the whole thing would look so much better. But what’s in a name, right? Hen or not, bachelorette parties could definitely be the sole reason for getting married in the first place.

London ladies know how to party, whether it’s on Brick Lane, Shoreditch or Stoke Newington. So if you’ve decided to travel to London with the girls, expect the time of your life.

Where’s the hotel?


Get that map out and start planning. London is the place where there’s something happening almost everywhere. So pick your favorite local color and you’ll be fine. If you’re looking for high street, super central fun, check out South Kensington and Victoria. If you’re an indie girl, the east is your best bet.

London is not cheap, so if you were planning a budget escape, this will not be it. Hotel rooms go at about 100 to 300 pounds per month, although you can find cheaper options in the trenches of the internet. To save up money, travel by tube and skip the cabs, which can leave a big hole in your budget. Everybody takes the tube in London and you know what they say, when in Rome.

The coolest hotel find is definitely Shoreditch House. This retro super-classy biscuit factory turned hotel features beautiful rooms, a rooftop pool, gym, spa and bowling alley, not to mention a restaurant with an extensive list of bespoke cocktails.

Where’s the party?


While you’re in Shoreditch, make sure to grab your girls and hit the clubs. This is the fashion-forward gem of London, so if you’re feeling creative with your outfit you’ll blend right in.

For some serious dance and house beats, visit Dalston Superstore and expect table dancing, carnival gone wrong masks and sudden explosions of breakdancing.

If your idea of fun is more Ibiza than underground bar, take the tube to Victoria station and immerse yourself in the mood at Pacha. This almost anti-London club is located in a historical 1920s building and will bring you DJs, two dance floors, a summer terrace and a dress to impress kind of crowd.

And if you’re into the hipster scene and want to explore that, Stoke Newington has what you need. Vogue Fabrics knows its house music, its fashion and its dancing. This is the place to be yourself (or an improved version of yourself) and let loose. Who said a hen party can’t be alternative? Especially in London.

How about bonding with the girls?


Hen parties are not just about clubbing and epic hangovers. They’re also about catching up with the most important people of your life and bonding in geeky, funny or strange ways. This is why bachelorette and hen parties are so fun, right? London is where eccentricity was born, so if you’re looking for that, you’re in the right place.

You might start slow and steady, at The Ginstitute , where you’ll learn to make your own cocktail and take a whole bottle of it home. Plus you’ll get back to your future husband with a skill he’s sure to appreciate more than anything else.

Now that you’re warming up, how about a sexy private party? Too fast for you? I don’t think so. Bordello, the decadent lingerie boutique, hosts super awesome hen parties where you can try on lingerie, learn sexy dance move from legend of striptease Jo King or make your own nipple tassels.. There’s also a little bit of male skin involved, but we won’t spoil the surprise for you.

If you and your girls are more like the girls of Sex and the City than anyone else, Midnight Movies, Martinis & Manicures at Berkeley Hotel will make you gasp with excitement. This is the classy version of a pajama party. You get overnight stay, rooftop fashion film screenings, popcorn and ice cream. Sounds like a treat, right?

No hen party is complete without a striptease. But if you’re not into that, you can bring a dose of cheekiness with Life Drawing Classes. This Full Monty-infused hen party idea features a naked male model, your hotel room, paper, pencil and a lot of hidden smiles. You can take photos and have a drink while you’re at it. The best artists do, right?

That’s London for you. It has everything you need. What you need is time, money and your girls. Oh, and a good enough reason to go out there and have some well deserved girls-only fun! Planning your great escape to this vibrant city does not have to add to your already stressful wedding planning, there are tons of great party planning services such as RedSeven that can create the perfect hen party weekend for you and your best girlfriends.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles whose writing covers a variety of subjects from travel to fashion. As an avid visitor of the UK, she loves making a stop in London to check out the latest entertainment that the exciting city always has to offer!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

My Graduation Weekend

So I'm finally here to talk about my graduation weekend a week late. Sorry about that :-)  I'm getting caught up slowly but surely. Anyway, it was a great weekend and it was a big moment in my life. It was also just a lot of fun!

We took the train into London on Friday around eleven o'clock and we had a good journey. I love taking the train!  It's a great way to travel and only takes half of the time that it would for us to drive to London. We ate something quick at the train station when we arrived in London and then we headed to our hotel to check in.

Once we got checked in we decided to get out and enjoy the city. We walked around a bit and did some people watching and then decided to go the O2 complex to have an early dinner. You know how I love taking pictures of food, but I forgot because I was feeling greedy and went ahead and ate. LOL. We ate at a place called Nando's. They have really good spicy food and it's right up my alley.

After we left Nando's, we walked around the O2 Arena. That is one thing that I love about the O2...there are loads of restaurants and things surrounding the arena so you can do everything there. On that particular night there was a Rod Stewart concert getting ready to happen, but we got in and out of the restaurant before the rush.

After we left the restaurant area of the O2, we went outside and walked around. This is a picture of this cool structure that's outside the O2 and I love the way that it was catching the evening light. It's called the Peninsula Spire.


Next to that is this interesting building called the Ravensbourne. It looks like a big toy to me. It seemed to glisten that day.


The next day was the Saturday and it was my graduation day :-) We had to get up really early in order for me to be there to get robed up and everything. Everything was very well-organized and The Barbican where it was held was lovely inside. It's a nice size...not too big, but not tiny. Before the ceremony, there was a mini concert given by the Westminster Brass band. They played about five songs and then the faculty marched in. Here's a slightly blurry picture of the band onstage.

My graduation ceremony was the last one that the chancellor of the university was going to preside over, so it was a special ceremony. The chancellor was David Putnam and he has had an amazing career within many arenas. The thing that I was so impressed by was that he produced the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire, along with many other films. He was so genuine and inspiring when he spoke. I just loved it! There were two honorary degrees given out. One was given to Anthony Barnett, who is an activist and the other was given to the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. It was so wonderful! I truly felt this was a milestone in my life...I really felt it and I'll have that memory forever :-)

After graduation, we headed back to the hotel so that I could change out of my uncomfortable outfit ;-) And then we headed to our favorite place to eat....Sophie's. I was feeling so good that I got a cocktail and it was so good! It was called a Frozen Sicilian and it had vodka, lemon, and raspberry in it. Check it out!

And here's my appetizer. It was calamari and it was so good.

I forgot to take a picture of the main course because I was greedy again. LOL. But I had a peppered steak salad and it was great too.

After we ate, we decided to take a good stroll around London. Here's the thing, I don't drink much so that cocktail had me feeling beautifully fuzzy. LOL. I was fine, but just laid back as heck ;-) I was so relaxed and everything.

We walked all around and eventually ended up in Trafalgar Square. It was really buzzing with people, but it didn't seem overcrowded at all. I got free hugs from these two girls who were dressed up like two cats. I've often seen them or others like them there, but I never joined in. Well this time I did and it was great! :-) I just felt in love with the world that evening! Here's a picture that I took across Trafalgar Square and if you look in the center and in the distance you can see Big Ben.

It's always a hive of activity there and there are always sidewalk performances or something going on. There is this section of Trafalgar Square with this pedestal called the Fourth Plinth and it features an ever changing display that lasts for a particular period of time. Currently there is a huge blue chicken called Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch. Here's a picture.

That weekend was one of the best I've ever had and I'll never forget it. I saw so much, I did so much, and I loved it all!

P.S. ~ I just realized that I didn't tell you about my broken heel. This post is already long enough so I'll save that for another post :-)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Quick Note

Hello there. I just wanted to let you know that I'm currently working on my post about my graduation and I will be posting it next, on Tuesday. Thanks for being patient with me :-)

I hope you're having a great weekend!

Makers: Women Who Make America


I've been a lifelong PBS viewer, starting with Sesame Street when I was a kid. For those of you who don't know, PBS stands for Public Broadcasting Service and it is a non-profit public broadcaster based in the United States.  In 2011, a British pay-tv version of PBS, called PBS America, was created and I was thrilled when I found out that one of my favorite networks was coming to the UK. I've been able to pick back up with my loyal viewership now and that's enriched my television experience greatly.

Several days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by PBS America and I was asked if I would give my take on their upcoming documentary series called Makers: Women Who Make America. I jumped at the chance to preview the series before it airs. So the series was sent to me and I really loved it!

Makers: Women Who Make America is narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep and it features such women as Gloria Steinem, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, and many more women from all walks of life. I love that even though it features many well-known women of our time, it also features women whose names we may not know, but they definitely have paved the way in the women's movement.


The series is broken down into three parts: "Awakening", "Changing The World", and "Charting A New Course". Each part highlights how the movement has changed over the decades.


Part 1: "Awakening" looks back at the 1950s and 1960s, in the postwar years when America began to emerge from its male-dominated comfort zone. Along with many other events during this time, it highlights the publication of the groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. This book challenged the roles that women were forced into playing in society and it raised questions in women's minds about what they wanted out of life. Since this era was before my time, I can only look back in amazement that women were so marginalized during this time. I've learned about some of this, but the documentary really depicts the time period very well. I found out something that I didn't know as I watched this part of the series...the fact that there were separate classified ads for those seeking employment. Women were not allowed to apply for 'jobs for men' whether they were capable of doing them or not. That just floored me. I knew that discrimination was rife, but I never knew about this blatant segregation between the sexes in job ads even though I knew there was segregation by color. There is so much contained within the first part that I'm sure viewers will be amazed at all of the happenings of this era.

Part 2: "Changing The World" picks up the story from the early 1970s and explores how the feminist movement affected every corner of life. The influences were clear from popular culture to politics. During this section of the documentary we are shown the impact of events such as the "Battle of the Sexes", which was a tennis showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Also the impact of the pill on women's lives is explored along with many other societal changes that occurred, such as Roe vs Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment.


When I watched this section of the documentary, I thought to myself that even though the 70s are a while ago now, they aren't that long ago. It is so incredible to think about how heavy of a price these women have paid for me and all of us women who came after them. They dealt with this stuff so that life would be a lot more equitable for us and I can't thank them enough.

The final episode, Part 3: "Charting A New Course" starts in the 1980s and shows how women were making their way into corporate boardrooms and areas not accessible to them a few years before. This section highlights the stories of Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Sally Ride, and Geraldine Ferraro in her time as the vice-presidential candidate. There are a wide selection of voices represented in this section as they were in the previous parts. Even though things were changing for women, there was still a mountain to climb for many of them as they fought for equity in pay and opportunities. There is so much to learn from the whole of the episode, but among many things, a quote from Maria Shriver stuck out to me. She said that her mother told her years ago that, "Life is a marathon". And what I took away from that is that the fight for equality is not something that you do and then wash your hands of it. This quote reminded me that we must live our lives every day and relish them whilst we keep doing the work that needs to be done.

All in all I truly enjoyed viewing this series. It was very informative and yet it wasn't so heavy that it took away from the viewing enjoyment. I would highly recommend that everyone watches this series, especially women and young girls because it can open the eyes so much. Even if you think you know a lot of this stuff, you may be surprised to find out things that you didn't know.

Here in the UK, Makers: Women Who Make America will premiere on Friday, 4th October and will be shown each Friday through 18th October at 9pm on PBS America, channel 534 on Sky and channel 243 on Virgin Media.

I hope that you'll watch and enjoy. If you do watch, please come back to this post and let me know your thoughts on the series.

*Photos courtesy of PBS America

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Graduation Post Coming

Hi :) I just wanted to check in to let you know that I'll be posting about the London trip and my graduation this past weekend in the next couple of days. I'm a bit behind with things...aren't I always? Lol.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I'll be sharing my experience here complete with distinguished people, broken heels, and cocktails ;-) My life is like a sitcom sometimes. Lol.

I'll be back....  ;-)

Living and Working in Australia

Today I have another guest post from my friend Archie. In this post he gives some great tips for those who are thinking of living and working in Australia. It's great to have some guidance on things to think about before making a big move to another country. Enjoy!
 
 
 
You’ve reached a point in your life where you are ready for a change. After talking with friends and family, you’ve decided you need to relocate for a fresh start. You’re seriously considering Australia, but is this the right decision for you? What do you need to know before take this major step in your life? Where do you even start? The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make this major decision.

How’s the Climate?

Australia runs the gamut of the climate rainbow depending on where you choose to hang your hat, so choose wisely. This is mainly due to its large size. Here’s a bit about what you’ll find:

Seasons. The summer season is from December to February. Australia’s autumn is from March to May. Their winter season is from June to August, and spring is from September to November. One season that is often overlooked is Cyclone season, which is from November to April.

Climate. Like hot weather? Head north to Western Australia, the Northern Territory, or Queensland. In Northern Australia, you’ll experience tropical and desert-like weather. Don’t care for the heat? Consider the southern states, like Tasmania and Victoria.

The Visa Process Demystified

First, figure out what kind of visa you’re going to need. Will you be moving on your own or as part of a job transfer? If you’re moving as part of a job transfer, you’ll need a valid Australian visa that provides you with “work rights”. Your employer will be your sponsor and, as such, handles that bit of it. If for any reason you change employers while there, that’s okay. It’s just a matter of changing your sponsor.

Is your move a temporary choice, or are you looking to make Australia your home of permanent residence? If you’re looking into permanence, the process is a bit more complicated because you have to do the work yourself -- unless you hire a professional, of course.

Necessary Tasks to Live in Australia

In order to live in Australia, you’ll first need to obtain a Tax File Number. It’s their way of keeping track of any money earned from things like your salary and wages. Don’t delay applying for one.

You’ll also need an account. Open one within six week of arriving in Australia. You’ll only need your passport to serve as identification. Procrastinating can cost you. After six weeks, you will be required to present additional identification. Don’t risk having to pay unnecessary fees or missing work because you can’t get motivated enough to take this step on time.

It’s also important to obtain an Australian driver’s license. Like in most areas, look forward to taking a written and eye exam along with a driving test. Pay extra attention to staying on the right side of the road!

Find housing. It’s not easy to locate a place to live in Australia, so it may be easier to use an agent local to the territory you choose to reside in. Once you pick an agent, decide together whether it makes more sense for you to rent or buy. Australia offers something called the First Home Owners Grant to help with the purchase of your first home. Ask your agent if you qualify.

Obtain proper immigration paperwork. If the thought of delving into the waters with the Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship scares you, consider hiring an immigration agent. In Australia, an immigration agent is called a Migration Agent. In order to find a qualified agent, contact the Migration Agents Registration Authority. You’ll find that it can benefit you immensely to have guidance for this process.

Learn the law. In order to avoid unintentionally ending up in legal trouble and possibly losing your visa along with your freedom, make sure to educate yourself on the local laws.


This post comes from Archie, an Australian expat living in Thailand. He has been compiling a list of nearly every Australian destination for his commercial travel website, Skedaddle Car Hire.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Graduation

 
On Saturday, I'll be reaching a milestone in my life. I'm going to be graduating. I've completed my bachelor's degree after lots of studying and I can't believe that it's done. This is something that I've wanted to complete for a while and now the end of this chapter in my life has come.

I went to university when I first graduated from high school, but I left because I got bored and I just started working. I was lucky because things worked out for me. However, always in the back of my mind, I thought that someday I'd go back and complete what I started. It's been an interesting journey and I'm glad that I made the decision to go back to study.

I'm finding that it hasn't sunken in yet that this moment has come. I guess that it'll feel real when I'm there walking across the stage. I'll surely be thinking of my mom and dad at that moment and I'll be wishing that they were there. But I know that I carry them with me in my heart always, so they will be there.

We're on our way to London today in preparation for Saturday and I'll let you all know how it goes when I return home. It's always interesting to go to London, so I'm sure I'll have a story to share.

Until next time...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Broome: Australia's Pearl

Today I'd like to share a guest post from Archie. This is an interesting look at an area of Australia that not too many tourists have discovered yet. It's so gorgeous though, so I know that they'll soon be discovering all of its charms. Enjoy!

There’s nothing quite like the sense of discovery that comes from visiting a hidden pearl of a travel destination. Outside of the intrinsic value of experiencing a new place for the first time, there is the delicious benefit of bragging rights. One can say, casually, to friends: “We spent the summer in Broome, have you heard of it?” with a dreamy and nostalgic gleam in the eyes, gracefully pitying the uninformed.

Broome, Australia
 
Broome, Australia is the perfect destination to bring about this twofold pleasure. It is not yet a ubiquitous travel destination for beach-seeking world travelers yet has the goods to contend with the perennial summer hot spots. Additionally, its local culture is some of Australia’s most diverse, at once the native ground for the indigenous Yawaru people, and a melting pot for many world cultures that were represented by pearl divers that flocked to the town in the late 19th century. Japanese culture is one of the most strongly represented influences in Broome: every year Broome unites for the Shinju Matsuri (Festival of the Pearl) which is a favorite for tourists and natives alike.

Japanese Cemetery in Broome
 
While taking in the striking Japanese cemeteries or researching Broome's harrowing experience in World War II can be intellectually rewarding, nothing is more beloved and recommended in Broome than to hire a car and take a leisurely drive to one of its white sand beaches. Cable Beach is one of Broome’s finest, stretching fourteen perfectly flat miles beside the sweet blue tide. Four-wheelers are available for ambitious beach combers, and sunset camel rides are also offered daily. For those seeking to truly let loose and shake off the material burdens of home, Cable Beach also hosts one of Australia’s most famous nudist spots north of the main access road. Also, close at hand is Minyirr Park, a coastal reserve area ripe with exotic vegetation and wild life for the enterprising explorer.

Broome, Australia
 
Roebuck Bay is another of Broome’s most-prized beach offerings. Situated on the Eastern shore, the waters extend from Port Drive to Sandy Point and offers more white sand and idyllic ocean views. One of the most spellbinding attractions in Broome occurs here on “Staircase to the Moon” nights – when a receding tide and a rising moon collaborate to engineer one of Nature’s finer spectacles. On these special nights, there is a charming food and craft market operated on Town Beach, contributing further to the charged air. Bird watchers also rejoice in Roebuck’s incredible diversity of migratory shorebirds. Many tourists hire a car and head straight to the Broome Bird Observatory on Roebuck’s northern shore to take in the vast array of East Asian species.

Although the beaches are serene and scenic enough to justify a visit, Broome also offers immaculate golf courses, charming dining and endless local flavor. Already one of the fastest growing towns in Australia, Broome will continue to attract more and more international visitors. There’s no better time than the present to book a flight to Broome International. Get some culture, take in some sun, and notch an experience that will be the object of envy for years to come.


This post comes from Archie, an Australian expat living in Thailand. He has been compiling a list of nearly every Australian destination for his commercial travel website, Skedaddle Car Hire.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Catching Up

Hello there. I can't believe that it's been two weeks since I wrote anything here. Wow time flies! Well, never fear I'm going to get back in the saddle in the new week ahead. I've gotten some things out of the way in my life, so I can now make this site the priority that I want it to be again.

I guess that I'll offer a preview here, kind of like a movie trailer. Okay, well this week I'll be having a guest post on a great place to experience in Australia. Also, I'm going to resurrect a series that I've long ago let lag behind here. I don't know if anyone still reading remembers when I used to talk about foods that I eat here, but I've got a short post about that. And also I'll be sharing an achievement that is coming full circle next weekend.

So hopefully you'll come back again to see what I'm talking about. I hope that everyone is having a good weekend. Talk to you in the new week.

Until next time :-)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Balloon Crowns

Today I had to walk up to the High Street because I had to visit the post office. I went up first thing this morning and it was good to get a chance to get some exercise along with running my errands. It's quite a workout because the walk to the High Street is uphill all the way. And let me tell you, in the past I used to be huffing and puffing when I finally got to the top. LOL. But now it's all good.
 
Anyway, I went up to mail a package off and I saw that they had cookies and candies set up on a table inside the post office. There was also an older gentleman there who was making balloon shapes and animals. All of this was because the post office in our town recently reopened after being closed for a few weeks for renovations. So they were celebrating. The post office is a combination kind of a place. It's a post office, newsstand, general store type of place.
 
So when I left, I passed by the older gentleman who was making the balloon animals and shapes and he says, "Would you like a crown?"
 
This is my crown below :)
 
 
 
I gladly took it and thanked him. I stuck it on my head for a minute, but then I thought it might pop or float away, so I carried it down the hill and back home again. I thought that it was so sweet of him to give me my very own crown first thing in the morning. It made me feel like a kid again. Who knew that I'd trudge up the hill this morning like any other day, but come back down the hill a newly crowned queen ;-)
 
P.S. ~ I just looked at this picture again and maybe it's just my dirty mind, but the balloon looks kinda rude too. LOL.
 
Until next time...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream


As many of you already know, today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others took a stand that day and I am grateful to them all every day.

 
 
 
I wasn't alive when the march happened, but I know for sure that I have definitely reaped the benefits of the work of Dr. King and so many countless others whose names we will never know. I have seen the 'I Have a Dream' speech many times as I'm sure many of you have and it never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It reaches deep and it continues to resonate in ripples through the generations.
 
I think that growing up on the outer edges of metro Atlanta was a blessing in my life. As I was growing up I was able to visit many sites that hold significance in Dr. King's life and it was so great to have that education right in my backyard. If you are ever in Atlanta, please visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. You will be able to visit the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, The King Center, and Dr. King's birthplace. I highly recommend having a visit, because it truly makes Dr. King's work come alive and with every visit I always come away with thoughts of how I can do more.
 
So as we commemorate the March on Washington today, I hope that we can all reflect on how much progress has been made and put action towards making this world a better place for all people. The work continues onward.
 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adventures and Daydreaming


I have another picture to share today. I took this one a few days ago when I was having a walk further out in the countryside. The sky was so blue and the trees were so green. Notice the little white streak in the sky? Well that was the trail of an airplane passing overhead. I wonder where it was going? When I see an airplane passing overhead, I always wonder where the people are headed and what adventure awaits them. It's fun to daydream about that sometimes :-)

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Clouds


This is a random picture that I took yesterday. I love taking pictures of clouds. They are so dreamy.
 
Have a wonderful day!

Moving Things With Ease

Recently I was having a phone conversation with a friend who lives in Brighton, which is several miles away from where I live. Brighton is in the southeast of England and I'm in the southwest. I told her that I'm in the process of clearing out the clutter around here and mentioned how much I wanted to get rid of my treadmill since it's just using up space at this point. Well, she says out of the blue that she'd love to buy it and this was all without me even trying to sell it to her. So I was elated when she offered to buy it on her own.

Then the reality set in. How was I going to get it to her? The treadmill is big and heavy and there's no way that I could fit it in the car. So I had a look online and found out about this great site where you can describe what you need to have moved and then you receive quotes from companies. The site is called ANYVAN.

Here's a video that describes how it all works.




I love that you can save money and time and this service gets you in touch with rated companies. Also I love that it's free to use and there's no obligation to accept any bid.

This all sounds like a good option to me, so I think that I'll give it a try!

Friday, August 09, 2013

England for the Music Lover

Today I have a great article from guest blogger Marcela about the English music scene. I'm a big fan of seeing shows when I get to London, so I really enjoyed her fun post. She gives some great tips on where to see some good music. Enjoy!

When most people think of English music, they immediately think of the Beatles. While the Beatles will forever be an unforgettable band, England is a country with quite a long musical tradition, and there’s more to know than just “Hey Jude.”

In modern times, England is quite the bustling music scene, though certain parts of the country have always been popular destinations for musicians and music fans alike. Whether you want to see an intimate club gig or a huge arena-style concert, England has something for every music lover.



Abbey Road

Almost everybody knows the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, and for good reason. If you’re in England and you’re a music lover, visiting the real Abbey Road is pretty much a rite of passage.

Abbey Road is located on St. John’s Wood in London, and the nearby tourist traps should let you know when you’re close. Don’t forget to snap a picture to take back home with you. If you don’t want the cheesy “crossing-the-street” picture, find the Abbey Road plaque on the actual building that’s still intact and take your picture there.

While you’re doing your Beatles tour, make sure you check out the place where they performed their last show. At the time – January 30, 1969 – the Beatles had office space for Apple at 3 Savile Row. They performed their last show ever on the roof right there, which was filmed and released as part of Let It Be.

Want to Catch a Live Band?

If you’re interested in checking out the live music scene in England, it should be pointed out that almost all of that is focused in London. It’s been that way for some time, and while you might catch a gig outside of the city limits, it’s a lot easier to find good live music in London than anywhere else.

Talking to locals, you’ll find that everybody has their own favorite venue; however, you would be hard-pressed to ask five locals about their favorite venues and not hear about The Windmill in Brixton, The Half Moon in Putney and The Old Blue East, just a couple of blocks from the Shoreditch tube stop.

If you’re looking for a bigger show, check out the calendar at the O2 Academy Brixton. Shows don’t happen there every night, but the venue usually hosts well-known mid-level touring acts from all over the world.

Don’t forget to check out The Marquee Club on Charing Cross Road either. It’s where The Rolling Stones played their first show in 1962.

Depending on the time of year, you can also check out music festivals like the popular Glastonbury Festival.

Royal Opera House

If you’re interested in checking out some of the finest classical music or ballet that England has to offer, you absolutely must get tickets to a show at The Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House may not be the oldest venue in England, or even London, but it’s widely regarded as one of the best.

You’ll also be able to get a ticket in most cases. The Royal Opera House is located in the Covent Garden area, but tickets can be purchased all over the city. Buy in advance whenever possible.

Whether you’re interested in rock-and-roll history or seeing a performance of Swan Lake, England has something to offer pretty much every night of the week. When visiting England, pick up a guidebook to learn more about music venues, and don’t be afraid to ask locals about more hidden places worth checking out.

Marcela De Vivo is a writer, music enthusiast and business owner who works with Arena to educate others about the history of music. She loves traveling around the world with her family to discover other cultures, music and food! Follow her on Pinterest today.

Book Lovers Day

Book Lovers Day 


Today, August 9th is Book Lovers Day! I LOVE reading, so this day is right up my alley!

Every since I was a kid I've always loved going on adventures through the pages of a book. Books can help us learn and grow and offer us a chance to see the world through someone else's eyes. I love that!

So here's to Book Lovers Day....and here's to books :)