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Holiday Recipes: Rosh Hashanah Essentials

23 Sep

If you are one of those people who’s always looking for food inspiration from different cultures, here are some delicious, traditional Jewish recipes inspired by Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), which is just around the corner.

One of the holiest days in Judaism, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world. It traditionally features sweet foods to symbolize the cycle of life and people’s hope for a “sweet” new beginning. Special challah bread, along with apples, honey, and pomegranate, makes the centerpiece of the celebration and becomes a tangible symbol of the holiday’s deeper meaning.

Challah, a rich, golden loaf related to Russian and Polish babka bread, came to Jewish cuisine from Germany and quickly became one of the most popular traditional dishes. Though you can always buy challah from a bakery, making it at home is a wonderful way to connect with tradition and create a perfect loaf that will be a big hit with both children and adults not only on Rosh Hashanah but any other celebration.

We are always hunting for new authentic recipes that are easy to make at home and this one hits the mark. If you want to surprise your loved ones and receive tons of compliments this delicious 6-ingredients Challah will do the trick in 5 easy steps:

Jewish Challah Bread

What you need:

1 1/2 Cups water
4 Teaspoons yeast
2/3 Cups sugar
2/3 Cups oil
4 Eggs
1 Egg yolk (or more if needed)
3 Teaspoons salt
2.5 lbs. flour

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil, eggs, and half the flour with a cake beater. Add salt.

Step 2. Add remaining flour and thoroughly knead with the dough hook or by hand. Let the dough rise for one hour.

Step 3. Divide the dough into 3 equal-sized pieces. On a floured surface, roll the small dough pieces into ropes about 1-2 inches thick and 10-12 inches long. Pinch 3 ropes together at the top (it will be easier to do so if the ropes are thinner at the ends) and braid them. Let the braided challah rise for 30-45 min. If the dough is a little sticky, lightly grease your hands.

Step 4. Whisk 1 yolk (or more if needed) with a little water and about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Brush the top of the challah for a sweet crust.

Step 5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake until the top browns to a rich golden color, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with a spoon (about 25 to 35 minutes). Let it cool before cutting and enjoy!

Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” Because of this, there another tradition of serving fish for this holiday, often with the head still on. An old symbol of fertility and wealth, fish dishes are quite popular on the Rosh Hashanah table. Having tried many holiday recipes featuring fish, we’ve agreed that the one below is one of the most delicious and simple among them. With only 4 ingredients and 4 steps to follow, you’ll have a healthy Jewish inspired dinner and still have plenty of time to spend with your guests.

Baked Fish Fillets with Honey-Lemon Butter 

What you need:

2 1/2 Cups honey
3 1/2 Cups butter
3 1/3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
150g (5 to 6 oz.) White fish fillets
Lemon slices (optional)

Step 1. Beat honey, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Set aside.

Step 2. Arrange fish fillets on a greased baking sheet. Lightly season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Step 3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Bake fish until opaque and firm, about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4. To serve, top each portion with 1 Tbl. Honey-Lemon Butter (see step 1) and a slice of lemon (optional).

 

Check Out GBO’s New Checkout

10 Sep

GiftBasketsOverseas.com upgrades its payment system with Payssion to be more user-friendly and accept more types of payments around the globe.

ARLINGTON, Mass., Sept. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-iReach/GiftBasketsOverseas.com (GBO), the experts in international gift delivery, announced today that its checkout systems is now fully integrated with Payssion a leading global payment processor. GBO customers can now enjoy an even wider array of secure options to pay for their orders. The most recent upgrade to the company’s allows customers to use local payment options in Latin American, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and more. Customers will be able to seamlessly use bank transfers, e-wallets, or even cash payments with certain local providers for all of the GBO sites.

CEO Dmitriy Peregudov states “This is just another level of security and ease for our customers that has been a long time coming. We work with a lot of customers who are in rural areas, and who don’t necessarily use the major banking and credit card industries we’re used to seeing in the US or UK. I didn’t want that to be a barrier anymore.”

The Payssion partnership allows customers to use the major payment methods of their country such as OXXO in Mexico, MOL Pay in Southeast Asian, Boleto or Hipercard in Brazil, iDeal in the Netherlands, and many others. Customers can view a full list of the payment methods Payssion works with here.

This is just the most recent step that GiftBasketsOverseas.com has taken to make sure the company does all it can to make gifts available around the world, in the customers’ language, compatible with the customers’ preferred device, and now able to work with a number of payment options more familiar to customers everywhere.

Mr. Peregudov has made it clear that the company has no plans to stop growing and innovating. “The more we can put technology to work for our customers without removing the comfort of our excellent customer service staff, the more we will.” He went on to boast that the site wasn’t the only thing that has changed. The entire GBO staff has undergone an overhaul as well, improving existing customer service skill sets, and hiring new employees to cover a larger variety of languages. With the holiday season fast approaching, GiftBasketsOverseas.com is already going full steam ahead to prepare the company for what the team believes will be their biggest year yet.

About www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com

GiftBasketsOverseas.com is an A-ranked, BBB-accredited company based in the United States that specializes in delivering superior quality personal and corporate gifts to over 200 countries.  GBO strives to provide online ordering convenience, excellent multilingual customer service 24 X 7, and secure payment options. Learn more at www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com, like GBO on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter

 

Celebrate Eid-al-Adha: Give Back With 3 Tasty Recipes!

09 Sep

Did you know there’s a whole holiday devoted to paying it forward? That’s right, long before that movie taught everyone the phrase, the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha (or the Festival of Sacrifice) was encouraging people to celebrate sacrifice and accomplishment for the common good. Starting on the evening of September 12th and ending the evening of September 13th, celebrants around the world will spend the day in lively celebration of their accomplishments, and the joy of sharing their success with everyone around them.

It is said that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at God’s request – although God stepped in and prevented it, replacing Isaac with a lamb. Eid-al-Adha celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice for God’s plan, and it is a tradition to re-create the event on this holiday. Muslims who can afford it humanely sacrifice an animal, and no part of it goes to waste. Usually, the animals owners keep one-third of the meat for themselves, offer one-third as a gift to family and friends, then give the final third away to those in need. When those who can afford it give back, no one can go hungry.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to give back on Eid-al-Adha if you don’t happen to live on or near a farm, and one of the best ways is with other kinds of delicious foods! To help you get in the spirit of giving back, we’ve put together 3 recipes that are easy to make in bulk so you can cook up enough food to share with your friends, family, and the less fortunate.

First, an easy to customize Granola! This a great treat to have on hand for a quick breakfast, or a light snack. Make a batch to share at the office. You can also keep a baggie or two in your purse or car in case you see someone on the street looking for a helping hand. Giving out money can be a bit risky, but handing out a delicious snack is a safe and easy way to make sure that at least today that person got fed.

What you’ll need:

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup cashews
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried fruit of choice (I like ½ sliced dried apricots and ½ raisins)
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ Teaspoon salt

Step 1

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148 Celsius). As the oven is preheating, mix the oats, nuts, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the oils and salt, make sure they blend well. Pour the oil mixture over the oats and nuts, then stir them making sure to get everything evenly coated.

Step 2

Spread the mixture out over at least 2 non-stick sheet pans. The key here is to make sure there is one thin, even layer so the ingredients can dry out and bake properly.  Place the trays in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure you stir the mixture every 15 minutes or so it browns evenly.

Step 3

Once the mixture is browned, remove it from the oven and put it into a large bowl. Now mix in your dried fruit until it is evenly distributed. You can enjoy it right away for a warm and delicious treat, or add it to ice-cream or yogurt for something extra decadent.

For sharing, make sure the granola is cool before putting it into separate zip-lock bags (or mason jars). This granola will keep for about a month if kept dry and properly sealed.

The next recipe is a delicious Flatbread. This is a great go-to recipe for large family dinners, as you can easily make a tray of meats and cheeses to go on top of it.

round-and-flat-bread-from-turk-1329773

What you’ll need:

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water

Step 1

First whisk together the salt, sugar, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Let this mixture sit until it begins to froth and bubble, then slowly add the flour and mix until it is fully combined. If you notice the dough is very dry you can add a little more water, but make sure to add it very slowly as the dough should be moist but not sticky. Once it feels right, cover and let it rise on the counter for an hour.

Step 2

For the best results you’ll want to grill this bread either on an outdoor grill or an indoor grill pan. It provides a crispy and unique outer texture, while allowing the bread to rise to a delicious light, fluffy texture inside.  While the dough is rising, preheat your grill of choice.  If you are using an outdoor grill make sure you move the rack so it is a few inches off of the flame.

Step 3

When the dough has risen, move it onto a well-floured surface and knead until it is soft and smooth.  Then, cut the dough into manageable portions (I recommend 8-10) and roll each one out until it is a good size for your grill pan (no more than 6 or so inches in diameter). Brush one side with olive oil and place it on the grill; as that side cooks make sure to brush the other side with olive oil. You can put more than one piece on your grill (or grill pan) but make sure not to crowd them too much as they will puff up.  When the bread is a nice light brown and begins to puff up, flip it. When the second side is browned remove from the grill and get ready to enjoy!

You can enjoy this bread all on its own, or with delicious toppings. I recommend tomatoes and herbs with a light drizzle of olive oil.

The last recipe is a delicious spin on an overlooked food: Crunch Roasted Chickpeas with Za’atar! Za’atar is a delicious Middle Eastern spice mixture that is quickly catching on around the world as a spice blend to dip snacks in. You can easily find it at most ethnic food markets, or make it yourself at home.

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What you’ll need:

2 cups cooked chickpeas if they are canned make sure to rinse them well
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons za’atar
½ teaspoon salt

Step 1

The most important step is to spread your chickpeas out onto a paper towel. Pat them dry, and let them continue to air dry for an hour.  Then, heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Step 2

Spread the chickpeas evenly over the pan and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, or until crunchy. Make sure to rotate every 10 minutes, and keep in mind that if they aren’t completely crunchy they will continue to dry out some as they cool.

Step 3

Put the hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, za’atar, and salt. Enjoy right away, or when cool. Make sure to only store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container. Will keep up to a week.

Image #3 by Maggie Hoffman

For more Middle Eastern Recipes please go here.

To send a gift to any Middle Eastern country or worldwide please visit  www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com

 

GBO Celebrates 4th Year of Growth in International Gift Delivery

23 Aug

GiftBasketsOverseas.com is included on the Inc. 500|5000 list after constant site updates and hard work

ARLINGTON, Mass., Aug. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — GiftBasketsOverseas.com, the experts in international gift delivery, announced today that it is honored to be included once again on the Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, ranking #3954 for 2016. After three years of growth at 74%, this is the 4th year in a row the global gift basket company has appeared on the list. Owner Dmitriy Peregudov said his business owes it all to its employees. “After all,” he explained, “ranking in a list that has included international sensations like Microsoft and Zappos takes a level of passion and devotion that can only come from truly believing in the company you work for.”

GiftBasketsOverseas.com’s business model has always included making everything about the company personal – from assigning dedicated gift specialists to corporate customers who order in bulk, to making sure individual questions and concerns are answered quickly, and even scaling back some types of automation to ensure that each order receives personalized attention – GBO is working to maintain a balance between speed and customer attention that many companies cannot match.

The company’s business model doesn’t only include attention to customers, but also attention to the development and well-being of its employees, which means a better overall experience for the customers too. The GBO team works 24/7, but each employee enjoys a flexible schedule, telecommuting, and opportunities for professional development.

In addition to its friendly work environment, the company has also been improving the ways gift orders are processed. With its website and software development team, GBO is paying special attention to streamlining the gift ordering and tracking process, while also being careful not to remove the personal attention each gift basket has always received.

GiftBasketsOverseas.com also takes pride in keeping its gift selection in 200+ country catalogs up-to-date, adding new selections and a wider variety regularly. Over the past few years, GBO has used customer feedback to improve its selection of Kosher gifts, gifts for Muslims, and American gifts for worldwide delivery.

Specializing in helping family, friends, and companies, keep their connections strong, GBO is looking forward to another year of growth, and (hopefully) its 5th year on Inc 500|5000’s list.

About www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com

GiftBasketsOverseas.com is an A-ranked, BBB-accredited company based in the United States that specializes in delivering superior quality gifts to over 180 countries. GiftBasketsOverseas.com is renowned globally for providing online ordering convenience, multilingual customer service, and secure payment options. Check out the company’s Inc5000 Profile, and learn more at www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com.

 

Top 3 Most Unusual Gift Orders We Delivered

19 Aug

Think you have an unusual gift idea? Here’s how other people like to impress!
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Working in a company like GiftBasketsOverseas.com (GBO) is like visiting Disneyland for the first time. Every day is something new and exciting, you never know who you are going to meet or what is going to surprise you. Perhaps the most interesting part of being a GBO team member is dealing with customers with unusual, or sometimes even mind-blowing, order requests.

Our customer support members have seen and heard it all, literally. From customers asking to organize a surprise concert with their recipient’s favorite band to delivering a coffin with a single rose inside. We took a vote and are excited to bring to you the 3 most usual orders our team has had the privilege to handle: so far!

Starting with third place: a STEAK! But not just any steak, no this customer wanted to help their loved one celebrate their birthday with a juicy birthday steak.  We really went the distance with this order, down to the small detail of making sure there were birthday candles sticking out of a mouth-watering 16 oz, medium rare slab o’beef – perfectly seared, of course.

Honestly, while unusual, we’re pretty sure this birthday steak thing could catch on!

Coming up in a close second place: a DRUM. But not just any drum, this one had to be covered with a skin of a young goat. The client made it clear the goat had to be young and there was no room to argue. We don’t know exactly why it was so important, but we do our best to always deliver what the customer asks for as closely as possible.
When you deal with global gift delivery, you’re bound to get orders that seem a little weird to you. That’s the beauty of our business! We get to learn about new cultures and traditions. It really helps our whole team keep in mind that what seems like a normal gift to us may be a huge no-no in another part of the world.

And finally first place – a MALTESE PUPPY. This might not sound that exotic, but delivering a live animal as a gift anywhere in the world is tricky. Finding a specific breed of dog, in good health, from a reliable seller that is ready and able to be safely delivered is a very tall order.

In the end, the logistics of the order, as well as the request itself, made this our most memorable and unique order to date! But really, getting a cute pet sent right to you, we admit it, we were jealous!

We can go on and on with the list of unusual custom orders we receive and successfully fulfill every month. The ability of our team members to go above and beyond at work only makes such requests more popular among our customers. Stay tuned and we’ll continue sharing our unusual experience with you!

 

GBO & NBCF Gifts Against Breast Cancer Campaign is a Success

18 Aug

GiftBasketsOverseas.com completes its donation to NBCF and looks to future campaigns
ARLINGTON, Mass., Aug. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — GiftBasketsOverseas.com (GBO), the experts in international gift delivery, announced today that its Gifts Against Breast Cancer campaign ended strong and raised over $1,500.00 to donate to National Breast Care Foundation (NBCF). The campaign was a first for the gift company, but it is hoping to learn from, and expand, similar campaigns in the future.
GBO featured a number of the gifts on its website with a pink ribbon from Mother’s Day through the end of June, and pledged to donate 10% of the retail cost of each gift to NBCF. NBCF specializes in the battle against breast cancer, especially through prevention and education. It has founded and maintains programs that include the National Mammography Program (NMP) – which provides free diagnostic services; Beyond The Shock® (BTS) – NBCF’s global guide to facts about breast cancer on the web; and Early Detection Plan (EDP) – an interactive tool that organizes a patient’s breast health action plan.
GBO has achieved a lot of growth in the past couple of years, and has been looking for ways to give back that can impact the global community. “We’re just getting started with events and campaigns like this,” said Dmitriy Peregudov, CEO. “But we know that we’re only going to get better, and in the future be able to donate even more to such important causes.”
When asked if another campaign with NBCF was in the works, a representative from the company’s Marketing and Relations Team responded, “We’ve enjoyed working with NBCF very much; they are incredibly positive and easy to work with; we have tons of reassurance that they’re doing great work with the funds, so we definitely want to try for something again in the future. That having been said, we may not only focus on work with NBCF, we’re also keeping our eyes open for other great non-profit organizations who are having an impact on global issues. It’s a very exciting time to be giving back.”
No matter what charitable campaigns GBO is organizing however, the company assures its customers that it will not forget about its most important priorities: providing exceptional delivery services around the world, along with the top-notch, 24 hour service that every customer deserves.
About National Breast Care Foundation, Inc.
Recognized as one of the leading breast cancer organizations in the world, NBCF’s mission is to help women now by providing help and inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services.  A recipient of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for 12 years, NBCF provides women Help for Today…Hope for Tomorrow® through its National Mammography Program, Beyond The Shock®, Early Detection Plan, and breast cancer research programs. For more information, please visit www.nbcf.org.
About GiftBasketsOverseas.com
GiftBasketsOverseas.com is an A-ranked, BBB-accredited company based in the United States that specializes in delivering superior quality gifts to over 200 countries.  GBO strives to provide online ordering convenience, excellent multilingual customer service 24 X 7, and secure payment options. Learn more at www.GiftBasketsOverseas.com, like GBO on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. 

 

6 Great Ways to End Summer Before Going Back to School

05 Aug

Whether you’re starting a new semester at college or your children are going back to school after a summer break, you always want to make the most out of those last few days away from school. No matter how long your vacation lasts, it never seems enough and by the end of it you always wish you had couple of extra days. The panic of the vacation coming to an end usually rolls in about a week before; that’s when you start stressing out and frantically trying to finish all the plans you had for the summer. But that can leave you with nothing but anxiety and a headache. We know there’s no magic wand that can turn the last 7 days of your summer break into 7 weeks, but here are some helpful tips to make each day full of fun relaxation.

Option 1: Staying In

Going back to school often means spending most of your time away from home, that’s why turning into a home body for a few days seems like a smart idea.  If you do so, you can not only enjoy time with the kids, but also finish all the little things around the house you’ve meant to fix for months. Get your DIY on and paint a wall in your living room, move the couch, organize a bookshelf, or finish putting together that scrap book you started three years ago.
If you enjoy cooking, this is the perfect time to make a delicious homemade meal for a romantic night in with your spouse or for the whole family. Open up that dusty cookbook of yours that’s been sitting on top of your bookshelf since time immemorial and create an amazing dinner that will fill your loved one’s stomachs and hearts with joy. While you’re at it, you could get some cooking done in advance and pop some quick and easy to heat-up meals in the freezer. You’ll thank yourself once school starts.
Option 2: Go shopping
If you’re a shopaholic or simply enjoy shopping every now and then, vacation is the perfect time for this guilty pleasure. Take your best friend and go to your favorite mall. You can finally make it a day trip with no rush or pressure. Just take your time and enjoy. By the way, the end of summer is a sale season which makes it another great excuse to buy yourself a little gift, renew your wardrobe, buy home appliances, or new get gear for your hobbies.

Option 3: Pamper yourself
Wasn’t shopping part of pampering yourself? Well, it was and it wasn’t. When we say pampering we MEAN pampering and that includes treating yourself to a massage, taking your time at a nail or hair salon, doing a beauty treatment you’ve always wanted but couldn’t find time for or simply spending the whole day relaxing at the beach.
Or, if you see getting a haircut as a chore why not try some more adventurous things. Go explore a bar you’ve always wanted to try, go fishing, or try a new sport. With that said, just go ahead and do whatever makes you happy, even if it’s just another day in reading a good book. The whole point of pampering is to doing what you enjoy guilt-free!
Option 4: Enjoy time outside
Before you or your kids are surrounded by school walls once again, make sure to enjoy the warm weather to its fullest! Moving any activity you would normally do at home outside is a great way to start. Go out to do your morning exercise instead of staying in, grab a blanket and eat your lunch at a local park, or finish your day with an evening run in the neighborhood.
For those more adventurous, we suggest spending a day at an amusement park, going for a hike in the forest or mountains, or even camping. If you prefer less active leisure, plan a weekend getaway and explore the nearest town. Fresh air and lots of positive emotions will make you forget about everyday problems and help appreciate every second of the last days of your vacation.

Option 5: Don’t mind being practical
This tip has nothing to do with fun but trust me, you will thank yourself for it later. It won’t take much of your effort, but can become a real lifesaver during hectic times at school. It’s simple. Next time you go food shopping, make sure to grab as much of your favorite ready-made food as possible and stock up your freezer. It will come especially in handy on those rainy days when you don’t feel like going out, or need to finish your paper and eating out is not an option.
You can also get a head start on packing school snacks. Pack carrots and celery for a mid-day pick-me-up. Try your hand at homemade granola, or make a meal plan for the next few weeks. You should also take a minute to get everyone’s school bags ready, and maybe even plan out first-day outfits. Nothing is worse than realizing that must-have item to complete your look is in desperate need of a wash! Have faith, being practical will pay off!
Option 6: Spend time with loved ones
Whatever you do, the most important thing is spending some quality time with those you love! Finding time for this simple pleasure might be difficult when your kids are back to school or you’ve started a new semester. So, whether it’s your friends or family you want to be with, get as much time in with them as possible during the last few days of your vacation. Once school starts, you just won’t be sure when you’ll be able to do it all again!
Image #1 by Ian Burt

Image #2 by Izabela Pawlicka
Image #3 by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

 

The Mythical, Legendary Creatures of Christmas

27 Jul

Around the world, different cultures have different Christmas Eve traditions. Here you’ll discover some of the characters or creatures who, legend has it, may come calling on children…depending on if they’re naughty or nice.

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Santa Claus vs. Krampus
Santa – He’s a “jolly spirit” who travels around the world delivering Christmas gifts to good children.

Krampus – This half goat, half demon creature carries a bundle of birch sticks and a burlap sack with chains to punish the naughty kids on Christmas.

There’s more to Christmas folklore than just Santa and Krampus.  If you are looking for the other mythical creatures, here’s a few that can be good, evil or somewhere in between.
Good creatures:
Reindeer – These loveable flying creatures help Santa make his magic trip around the world. Good children hear the reindeers’ footsteps on their roofs. This lets them know they’re about to get a gift.

La Befana (Italy) – Although she may be ugly, the children love her.  This witch hands out presents to all of the kids who have been good throughout the year.

Elves (US, Britain, Canada) – Unlike the greedy scarecrow seen on the right, these handy helpers make sure the toys are ready and may even help deliver them with Santa.

Sinterklaas (Spain) – This happy creature travels by steamboat every Christmas to give treats and snacks to good boys and girls.

Olentzero (Basque Country) – This friendly giant hands out gifts to all of the good boys and girls while eating tons of food and drinking wine.
Evil creatures:
Jólakötturinn (Iceland) – This evil cat eats children who don’t finish their chores.  If you get new clothing for Christmas, he’ll leave you alone. If you don’t, you’re cat food!

Frau Perchta (Germany and Austria) – This evil witch tends to the forest all but the 12 days of Christmas. During this time she comes to human villages and rips out the intestines of the bad children replacing them with garbage.

Hans Trapp (France) – This evil and greedy man dresses as a scarecrow and hides in the forest to capture, punish, and eat naughty kids who wander by.

Kallikantzaroi (Greece, Turkey, Serbia) – These goblins play pranks and cause mischief. They’re also known to make your food rot. Be cautious because if you have a child born on one of the 12 days of Christmas, there’s a chance that they could turn into one of these.

Gryla – Mother of the Yule Kids and evil Ogre.  She loves causing mischief and will lure bad children to her cave where she tortures and eats them.
Neither Good Nor Evil:
Belsnickel (Pennsylvania Dutch) – This spirit comes wearing tattered clothes and will frighten you with his whip if you were bad or reward you with candy if you’ve been good.

Jólasveinar – The Yule Lads started out as evil but eventually discovered good. Although they still cause mischief, if you’ve been good during the year, they may leave you a gift.

No matter where you live, if people celebrate Christmas you’ll have your own unique traditions and mythology.  If you need to send gifts overseas, let us be your delivery “sleigh”.  We can help with Hannukah gifts too so all your Jewish friends can rejoice too!

 
 

4 Things you Think you Know about Long Distance Relationships

08 Jul

Long Distance Limbo, Pt. 1 – Your Relationship Isn’t Real! Myths and Misconceptions
– Sempronia Hobgood GiftBasketsOverseas.com

Long Distance Relationship – the “blind date” of the modern age: no other relationship “phrase” has the potential to make people react like you’ve recited the chant to summon Cthulu, except perhaps, “We need to talk.” If you can get past the funny cats and even more questionable content on the internet, you’ll find virtual oceans of questions about the legitimacy of long distance relationships. We’ve seen everything ranging from “It’s not a real relationship,” to “How do you make it work?”  We’re wondering where all the confusion is coming from.
Has the media hyped up the idea that relationships must be tactile and clingy or they are nothing at all? Worse yet, have we bought in?
To help get some answers, here are 4 things you need to know about long distance relationships before you pass judgement:
1. You Can’t Handle The Truth!
You’ve heard this one: people have long distance relationships because they can’t handle “real ones.” We’re here to tell you that some towns are so abysmally out of candidates for real companionship, that looking elsewhere is actually the better option. We don’t have to name names, you know if you live in one of these.
Seriously, even if your town if is full of look-alikes of your idols, why limit yourself? In this day and age of instant connections, easily obtained webcams, free international communication, and even ridiculously fast international delivery services, chances are better than ever that you’ll find someone who fits you. Someone who piques your interests, shares your values, and expands your horizons if you increase your pool of potential friends and love interests to include connections you can make on the web – responsibly and safely.
The fact is, long distance relationships of any sort (and there are many) can be just as complex, fulfilling, rewarding, and even fun as the types of relationships society is more ready to accept.
2. You Can’t Possibly Know Each Other
Not living next to one another means you have tons more to talk about. You don’t have the same friends, you likely don’t run across the same things, maybe you’re countries apart and have different cultures. In this way, distance can be a perk. Distance gives couples the opportunity to explore every tiny detail of a partner’s life, and, in turn, to come up with fun ways to spill theirs.
While “normal” couples often spend time turning into vegetables watching their show of choice cuddled next to each other in silence, those who live apart learn to fill the distances with discussions, meaningful messages, heartfelt romantic gifts, creativity, and honesty.  It can mean admitting the dark things you’d rather hide, learning to take the time to treasure each moment you can connect, and finding creative ways to remain a part of each other’s lives, even far away.  If we’re brutally honest, cuddles would be great, but they aren’t everything, and living without them is doable.
3. It Can’t Be Real…(you’re not doing ‘it’)
Another misconception is that long distance relationships are sexless, depressing things for those who can otherwise not “get any.” Wrong! Suffice it to say there are ways around such things, and, believe it or not, despite our severe lack of teleporters, it is not impossible to visit one’s far off love.
Plus, while love-making for many traditional couples can become routine, couples that are separated have to become inventive to keep the fires of romance burning. They get flirty, they learn the art of intellectual foreplay. If you didn’t know, pictures are fun, presents don’t have to be mundane, and phone calls don’t have to be about talking.
For the record, when separated loves do come together, they have drawn up ideas nearly as complex as battle plans for what they’ll do when they’re together. The moments apart make the ones together sweeter. And despite the myth, after months of only talking, long distance couples certainly have more tactile things to do.
4. Long Distance Relationships are all Romantic  
Here is the grand-daddy of Long Distance Relationship myths. You don’t need Cupid to be involved in a long distance relationship. If you’re interacting with someone on a regular basis, you’re in a relationship with them. Whether it’s a business relationship, a family relationship, a friendship, or something else. Keeping up with your school buddies from home on Facebook? Or enjoying weekly raids with your WoW guild? These modern activities have sparked awesome, long-lasting, healthy, relationships that were at one point in time long distance only.
But it’s not just computer and video game enthusiasts, even businesses are jumping onto the long distance relationship bandwagon.  Are you Skyping or emailing with team-members from departments in other states, or working on international issues with co-workers or customers across time zones? You’re in a long-distance relationship.
And don’t forget about the circumstances that can bring distance to families – both joyful and sad. Sending your overachiever for a semester overseas? You’ll be doing the long distance dance. Or maybe your family homes a hero who’s deployed overseas. Yep, that’s a long distance relationship too.
And of course, there’s one of the most common kinds of long distance relationship – the ones where family members or friends have simply moved to other cities, states, or countries. In fact, there are so many types of long distance relationships, we’d be surprised if you aren’t in at least one.
Long distance relationships are nothing new. Ever since civilization started people have developed ways to connect with each other from afar. Messengers on foot, packages and gifts in ships, carrier pigeons, smoke signals, telegraphs, telephone, even Twitter. Why? Because there have always been long distance relationships, and we’re just getting better at them.
Image #1 by Dvortygirl

Image #2, #3, #4 by Brightdrops.com

 

Three Delicious Recipes to Celebrate Eid al-Fitr!

05 Jul

It’s the final day of Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem! And tomorrow is a delicious celebration of Eid al-Fitr. If you’re looking for some last minute recipes to sweeten up your Eid al-Fitr meal, or you want to try something new and scrumptious for your next celebration, there are some easy, mouthwatering recipes below.

Start your celebration with a refreshing drink that’s family friendly, and that will definitely leave your family and friends asking for another pitcher. Here’s our recipe for Mint Lemonade (or Lime-ade).
You’ll need:
3 Cups of Sugar
1 2/3 Cups of fresh lemons (or limes) quartered and de-seeded, but leave the skin on
1/8 Cup of fresh mint leaves
4 ¼ Cups of Water
Ice cubes to serve
Add the water and sugar to your food processor, process on high until the sugar is dissolved completely. Then add the mint and lemons – almost whole. Pulse until everything is chopped as small as possible and the flavors are infused into the liquid. Strain the liquid well, and chill. Serve over ice.

For the next recipe, you can really get creative. Mahshi is a great favorite across the Middle Eastern world, especially in Egypt. These will take a little time, but your friends and family are going to love the succulent vegetables stuffed with rice and herbs; you can even add your favorite meat to the mix to make them heartier. You can mix and match your favorite veggies for stuffing, and play with the spice profile, but the recipe below is traditional Egyptian version of Mahshi.
You’ll need:
1 Cup white, short grain rice
1 Large onion, diced
1 Large onion cut into thick rings
½ Cup of tomato sauce
A half-bunch of parsley, cilantro, and dill (you don’t have to use all of these, and can substitute your favorite herbs here)
½ Cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
A serving of any of these vegetables: 8 zucchini (particularly short, fat ones); 8 eggplants (again look for small, finger length ones); 20 cabbage leaves (parboiled and with the middle rib removed); OR 20 grape leaves, parboiled
Start by sautéing the diced onions (NOT the onion rings) in oil until they’re wilted. Combine the pepper, salt, tomato sauce, cinnamon, and allspice. Simmer for three minutes. While the onion mixture is simmering, rinse the rice, finely chop the herbs, and add the rice and herbs to the onion and tomato sauce mixture.
Core the vegetables (or prepare the leaves for stuffing); when coring be careful to keep them as whole as possible. When you’re using eggplant, make sure to put it in a bowl of water after coring, but before you get to stuffing it.
Carefully stuff your vegetables with the rice mixture, but leave the top ½ an inch empty because the rice will grow as you steam it.
Add a ½ teaspoon of oil to a non-stick pot, cover the bottom with your onion slices – these will make a tasty barrier so your vegetables steam without touching the bottom. Place your veggies on top so that they’re standing up (and your rice stuffing doesn’t escape). Add ½ Cup of broth, and simmer on low until the rice is tender (usually about 15-20 minutes, but be patient and check each one for doneness). When they’re done, serve the stuffed mahshi and discard the onion slices.

And finally, a recipe that tops off the celebration with something sweet, of course. Your whole crew is going to love this decadent treat that looks a lot more complicated than it is. Impress them this Eid al-Fitr with a luscious Kunafa.
You’ll need:
1 Cup of water
1 Cup of sugar
1 can of sweetened, condensed milk
2 Cups of heavy cream
7 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 Cup of butter
1 package Kunafa Dough
First, boil the water and add the sugar. Dissolve the sugar thoroughly and boil for 3 – 4 minutes, until you have a simple syrup. Turn off the heat and set it aside. Whip the cream until it’s foamy, and set it aside as well. In a big mixing bowl, start working with the kunafa dough by pulling it gently apart. Slowly add melted butter and pull the strands apart, moistening them. Sprinkle the dough with the rest of the powdered sugar, mix thoroughly, then separate the dough into two halves.
Press the first half into an oven tray, press it into the edges, and pour the foamy cream over it evenly. Press the second dough half on the top, and flatten it gently. Bake this in the oven at 360 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, or until it’s golden brown on top. Pour the sweetened, condensed milk over it, then add the sugar syrup. Cut whatever sized chunk you want and serve while it’s warm, creamy and delicious!
Images
Lemonade: Rob Bertholf
Mahshi: Gozamos
Kunafa: stu_spivack