Gift Giving Ideas – GiftBook by GiftBasketsOverseas.com

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Why Giving Really Is Better Than Receiving!

We’ve all heard people say that it’s better to give than to receive, but would you believe that being generous is tangibly good for you? That’s right, according to Dr. Devin A. Byrd, Behavioral Sciences Department Chair at South University, there are mental health benefits to altruistic behaviors, and gift-giving is definitely among those.

From searching for just the right gift to fit your loved one’s personality to wrapping it and sending it, the very act of shopping for someone else provides “an emotional lift,” according to Dr. Byrd But even more than the ‘feel-good’ quality of giving, your generosity sparks positive memories of the person you’re shopping for which also provides a mood boost. Another bonus is that the gift itself creates a noticeable link between the two of you. Especially in this modern age, when many people will celebrate holidays at a distance from one another, the act of sending gifts when you can’t be there is a way to strengthen bonds. And of course, there’s nothing more important to mental health than your social support network. Gift-giving is a way to help keep it strong even when they’re far away.

You may be saying, “Okay, that’s great – yes, it feels good to send a gift, but it isn’t like it has any physical health benefit, right?” Wrong! There is a ton of research showing that those who are generous on a regular basis (i.e., they help out a charity, they perform random acts of kindness, they surprise people with gifts, etc.) are healthier and live longer. Stephen Post, professor of Preventative Medicine at Stony Brook University, found that regular generosity had a positive impact even on people suffering from chronic illnesses.

You might ask, “How does that work?” It turns out that things like shopping for another person, spending time helping them, and even talking to them during a time of a need, turns your focus from your own day-to-day life, and onto the other person. Researchers think that this reduces internal stress. Stress and the cortisol it produces are major factors in the development of almost every chronic disease you can think of. Reducing stress is directly linked to better health.

But perhaps the best way that giving is good for you is that it generates a sense of gratitude. “Of course it does,” you might say, “when you send a gift or spend your time, the person you give it to is thankful.” And yes, that’s true, but gift-giving also invokes a sense of gratitude in the giver! When choosing a gift, or thoughtfully supporting someone we care for, we’re often also expressing that we’re grateful for that person’s role in our lives. This creates a cycle of contentment, stress-reduction, and even creates a hormone called oxytocin, which is responsible for making us feel connected, warm, and empathetic.

I know the holiday shopping can sometimes seem like a chore, with crowds, planning, and the time crunch, but we hope this little PSA will help you keep in mind that’s not all it’s about. For every gift you decide to send, you’re recalling fond memories, reaching out to the ones you care about even from afar, and you’re preparing yourself a big dose of happiness. So when holiday shopping looks like a mountain of work remember how very true it is that it is better to give than to receive – and science proves it!

Now, You’re Almost Ready to Give – What’s Next? 

  • Schedule your gift now, so you don’t forget. Browse Thanksgiving Day gifts to USA, Canada & 200 countries, and make sure your gift is delivered on time!
  • Start planning your New Year’s with these Unusual Airbnb Spots for New Year’s Eve.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to see this too. Click those share buttons below.

Image #1 by asenat29

Your Guide to Buying the Best Candles for Diwali

There’s a time around the globe when millions of people fill the world with candles, colorful lights, prayers, and gifts of goodness to one another – it’s Diwali, or the Festival of Light, and it’s the most important festival of the Hindu religion. For five days every fall, warm flames big and small shine to represent the triumph of light over darkness, everyone exchanges gifts, and there are great feasts to share. This year, Diwali also coincides with the Hindu New Year, so we’re going to help you celebrate with your complete guide to finding the perfect candles for the Festival of Light.

Our 9 Favorite Haunted Places Around The World

October is here and once again the world is buzzing with people trading ghost stories and creepy tales to keep each other up at night.  You know the kind, the tales you laugh about at first, but days or even weeks later a thought inches its way into your skull “What if. . . .”

Real or not, imagination or something else, scary stories are a thrill and there are none better than those told about real places. Haunted houses, castles, forests, churches, playgrounds, they’re all just a little easier to believe right around Halloween. So what are the best hot spots? A quick Google search will probably lead you to local tales, or a real hot spot of reported activity just a few hours’ drive from where you sit. There’s no real rating system, ghosts aren’t real . . . Right? Just in case, here are 9 spooky locations you might want to avoid!

Aokigahara, Mount Fuji, Japan – Maybe you saw the movie, but the real Aokigahara is too beautiful, majestic, and yes creepy to be portrayed by any film.  This swath of 13.5 miles of dense trees and even denser undergrowth sits beneath Mt. Fuji, and even without knowing its history, just a glance is sure to take your breath away.

Local legend and popular tourist tales tell a different story of people coming to this sea of trees with the intention of committing suicide. The stories have spread and more and more people flock to this forest to see what it’s all about, fewer come out. Rumor has it, you can catch glimpses of the people who chose to spend their last moments here, and it’s certainly easy to see how you can feel like there’s something or someone else with you when you’re standing in the middle of this much overgrown nature.

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Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, Australia – originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, this complex of more than 60 buildings housed the mentally ill for 128 years before closing its doors in 1995.  Like most asylums, Beechwood has a long and complex history that leaves a lot of people with more questions than they started with.

Visitors have reported seeing a figure of a man who shows up near the cellar only to completely vanish once you’re almost sure he’s there. Other tales include the usual bumps, scrapes, and noises you can never quite explain, and aren’t really sure you want to. With such a long history and sprawling landscape it doesn’t take much imagination to understand how anyone could get lost, overwhelmed, and scared out of their minds.

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Paris Catacombs, Paris, France – If ghosts have rules they certainly include something about graveyards. No resting place is quite as ominous and vast as the Catacombs of Paris. These underground ossuaries were made out of the skeletons of collapsing mines in Paris and house the remains of over six million people.

Since the early 19th century, people have been coming to look at this underground wonder. Some to pay their respects, some to seek answers to questions on death, and more still to see if they can find something to make them question what they know of the world.  Whatever draws you there, make sure you go on a guided tour. Not all of the tunnels have been mapped, and even experienced tour guides have to be extra careful to not get turned around and wind up lost forever.

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Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa – Built in the 17th century, this Dutch East India Company fort is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa, and it’s now considered the best-preserved building of its kind. Like most colonial buildings, the structure wasn’t popular when it was raised and it hardly got more popular as the surrounding people were oppressed.

With so many bad feelings and spilled blood drenching the history of this building, it’s understandable that many people feel instantly uneasy as they tour the grounds. Reports even include testimonials of those who see vicious dogs jump at people (although no dogs are kept on the grounds), and men marching around that seem to appear and disappear into nowhere.

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Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennsylvania, United States – This former American prison operated from 1829 until 1971. The wagon wheel design and all of the building’s features were built to minimize privacy, maximize security, and ensure that prisoners never forgot that they were in a place meant to make them to pay for their crimes.

The history of the prison is long and sordid, with tales of misconduct from both the jailors and the prisoners. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of inmates that died, doors closing or opening on their own, having their hair pulled by invisible people, and more. The building tours do little to discourage these rumors, embracing its spooky status and offering haunted tours around Halloween.

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Poveglia Island, Italy – This is a small island that has been used as a dumping ground for centuries. But rather than trash, it was unwanted people that were abandoned.  In the 1300’s, the sick, dying, or dead were brought here to keep them away from people who were healthy.

In the 1800’s, the island was repurposed as a place to care for the mentally ill, and it is rumored that in the 1930’s a doctor was performing weird experiments on the patients there.  After a brief stint as a geriatric center during the middle 20th century, the facility and the island were abandoned entirely.  Tourists and locals were banned from visiting the place, and recent attempts to try to revive the hospital building were abandoned. No one knows why.

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Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland – This historic fortress leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits. The building has been standing since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD) and while the nature of the early settlement is unclear, there is no question that the people who built it were impressively skilled.

The castle has been used, if not as housing for lords, then as a barracks for soldiers, and the history it has built up is impressive. Used to house prisoners during the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War, and others, it is clear that this larger than life structure has seen every side of humanity. Visitors report feeling threatened, seeing shadowy figures, drops in temperature, and even something touching them. Maybe they just read too much about what happened here or didn’t see a small hole that let in a draft. Maybe they ran into a spider web. Or maybe, just maybe, they ran into something else.

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Old Changi Hospital, Changi, Singapore – This hospital was built in 1935 by the British and doubled as barracks. During WWII the facility was overtaken and captured by the Japanese. They went on to use Changi Hospital as a prison camp where they carried on intense questioning of prisoners, even brutal torture.

It seems the screams of these people never managed to escape the walls, as it’s one of the many things visitors report experiencing, along with sightings of bloody soldiers, phantom smells, and crying. With erratic electricity and various other weird events, it’s no wonder many feel uncomfortable entering the building.

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Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada – This hotel was built over 125 years ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a place to entice travelers and help visitors indulge in a taste of luxury. Behind its picturesque landscape and furnishings, though, lies a not-so-pristine history.

A favorite story told by locals is the tale of room 873, where it is said that a family was murdered. The stories of this room grew quickly. Visitors to the room after the supposed murder reported screams, bloody handprints, and more. Eventually, the hotel staff decided it was best to get rid of the room completely and they sealed it off, finishing the brick with drywall to make it – almost – disappear into the rest of the hallway.

The hotel is still functional today, but the staff won’t tell you anything about room 873. However, many visitors still report seeing the family and other mysterious things in the hall.

Now, You’re Almost Ready for Halloween – What’s Next? 

  • Schedule your gift now, so you don’t forget. Browse Halloween gifts to USA, Canada & 200 countries, and make sure your gift is delivered on time!
  • Interested in a very scary vacation? Read about Fall Vacation Spots with Spooky Thrills.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to have a terrifyingly good time too. Click those share buttons below.

3 Fall Vacation Spots with Spooky Thrills

October is here, with longer nights and a chilly wind, and while people in the US are gearing up for Halloween, many others around the globe are also trading ghost stories. What if you could make those spooky stories come to life for you and your family? If you dare to be scared, we’ve got some terrifying travel plans that will keep you and your family on the edge of their seats (in a safe, fun way of course).

One of the best reasons to go on a ghost-hunting trip is that October isn’t a traditional vacation month, so right now flights are cheap. Hotels are cheaper too, and if you’re willing to vacation during the week, you can get some of the best rates ever on a getaway for you and your loved ones. Plan a bonding trip for the company, get out with friends, or take the kids somewhere more adventurous than Disneyland.

If you love all things that go bump in the night, try planning your vacation around these possibly haunted locations. They love tourists and offer the best of haunted (and not) sightseeing. You can go antiquing by day and ghost hunting by night at these scare-tastic locales.

Scary places to visit on Halloween

Aokigahara, Mount Fuji, Japan – Mt. Fuji is a wonder in its own right. Bustling with a dizzying array of local hotels on either side of the mountain, you’ll find staying near this world wonder is easy. There’s plenty of public transportation to help get you to and from major shrines and hot springs. Just remember, if you do travel outside of the climbing season of July-August, you’ll need to plan a bit more carefully since some of the public transportation options stop. Once you’ve got the local travel handled though, you can enjoy a panoramic spa like Yurari. The temples and guided tours are nearly endless, and the local shopping is bursting with options too plentiful to fit in your suitcases, even if you bring a spare.

With so many regular tourist options, there’s already plenty to do for the whole family. But if you’re looking for something unusual, beautiful, and spooky you don’t have to go far. At the base of the mountain sits Aokigahara. With 13.5 miles of dense trees and even denser undergrowth, this forest is sure to entrance you.

Listen to the locals and do a quick Google search, and you’ll find that this forest is a notorious spot for suicides. The more the stories have spread, the more people have come to visit this absolutely haunting location. Rumor has it, many of these people never come out. The forest is such a popular place for suicide attempts that there are signs reminding visitors to ‘Remember your children and family,’ and that ‘Your life is precious.’ If you’re brave enough to go in, you may even catch a glimpse of the yurei: the mournful spirits of those who spent their last moments between these trees.

Whatever you find, you’re sure to walk away with a bigger scrap book and a ton of great stories to tell!

Spooky Halloween destination

Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, Australia – Victoria, Australia is where people go to do a little bit of everything. You will get absolutely lost in your options for spas, and by the end of your trip, you’ll want to visit at least one! There’s also a dizzying array of gorgeous beaches ready to show you the beauty of the world, but we recommend visiting the 12 Apostles Beach for the best views. If you want an all-day adventure, you can go to Wilson’s Promontory where you’re sure to spot at least one kangaroo.

When night falls, and your family is itching to get into the spooky spirit of Halloween, you can take a drive up to Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum. This institution was open for 128 years before closing in 1995, and its history would leave any horror film writer giddy with options.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and see one of the famous apparitions, like the man guarding the cellar. Maybe you’ll feel a playful tug on your hair, or hear things that just aren’t possible. Whatever adventures you have at Beechwood, you’re sure to walk away with stunning pictures of the sprawling estate and 60-plus historical buildings. You’re also in Australia, you really can’t have a bad time there!

Best places to go on Halloween

Last on our list, but certainly not least, is Poveglia Island, Italy. You aren’t actually allowed to get on this island. It has a history of being used as a quarantine zone, home to a mental-institution-turned-geriatric-center that is now closed, and plenty of rumors about things that go bump in the night. In fact, recent attempts to restore the building were unexpectedly haunted.

However, while you can’t go on the island, you can visit the area around it and soak up the culture, local rumors, and plenty of sights. It’s nestled between Venice and Lido so whatever side you choose to stay on you’re sure to have a good time. Between the food, art, culture, and kind locals, you and your family will be spoiled for choice of entertainment and fun.  If you’re looking for something spiritual rather than spooky you might try visiting St. Mary of the Friars, or simply taking in the captivating sound of Musica a Palazzo – a “Traveling Opera.”

Add some shopping, and a boat ride from San Marco Square that might just get you close enough to snap some pictures of Poveglia Island, and your family has a new Facebook album that will be the envy of all of your friends.

Take a trip to one of these spooky spots, or tell us about other haunted vacations on your itinerary. No matter where you travel, in every corner of the world you’re sure to find something wonderful, unique, and inspiring. If you ask around enough you may even find a local haunted spot or two. If you’ve got a spirit for adventure and a willingness to explore you are sure to make any vacation spot a unique adventure for you, your friends, and your family. Just make sure you take plenty of pictures and share with the world the wonders you find. After all, the best part of traveling is sharing the story.

Now, You’re Almost Ready for Halloween – What’s Next? 

  • Schedule your gift now, so you don’t forget. Browse Halloween gifts to USA, Canada & 200 countries, and make sure your gift is delivered on time!
  • Ready for more? Read about Our 9 Favorite Haunted Places Around The World.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to have a terrifyingly good time too. Click those share buttons below.

National Frappe Day – 1-Minute Original Frappe Recipe

October 7th is National Frappe Day, so it’s the perfect time to indulge in delicious frappe drink. With cold weather right around the corner, this might be your last chance this year to enjoy this cold, but oh-so-delicious beverage.

The word frappé comes from the French language, and it means chilled, but the drink itself is a version of coffee that first became popular in Greece and Cyprus. Now, a version of it has spread all over the world thanks to Starbucks’ famous Frappucino, and McDonald’s Mocha Frappe, which actually don’t have a lot to do with the original recipe.

The first frappé was made in Greece in 1957. The story goes that its invention was equal parts accident and desperation for a morning caffeine fix. One of the employees of Nestle Company couldn’t find hot water for his morning cup of instant coffee so he decided to make it with cold water and ice in a shaker instead. The drink turned out to be a hit – it looked gorgeous with its foam topping, satisfied sweet tooths and caffeine cravings, and took less than a minute to make. Before long, all the local baristas were serving it. To this day, the frappé is the number one drink in every cafe in Greece.

In the US, the frappe turned into a sort of coffee milkshake and most westerners have never actually tried the real frappé. But since today is National Frappe Day it’s the perfect opportunity to do just that! As an added bonus, doing it at home is cheaper and easier than going to your local coffee shop!

You’ll need:

  • 1 ½ tsp Instant Coffee (or more if you want more foam)
  • 1 ½ tsp White Sugar
  • Cold Water
  • Milk or Water to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • And any toppings you like!


Step 1 –
Put the coffee and sugar into a shaker or a BPA-free plastic bottle and top with just enough cold water to cover the mix. Then shake quickly for about 30 seconds. If it’s foaming a lot, you’ve done it right!

Step 2 – Pour the contents into a tall glass and add ice cubes along with milk or water to taste. Stir until everything is mixed and enjoy. If you’re looking for something a little extra indulgent, this is where your toppings come in! A little bit of whipped cream, caramel, or chocolate syrup will make it feel just like Starbucks.

You can make this cool-looking, famous drink at home in literally 1 minute! Get fancy with your toppings and you have a perfect drink worthy of an Instagram shot! Impress your friends the next time they visit with your barista skills or pamper yourself and your loved ones with this frappé recipe, but beware, it is highly addictive, and you might not want to go back to your old way of having coffee!

Holiday Recipes: Rosh Hashanah Essentials

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).

Now, You’re Almost Ready for Rosh Hashanah – What’s Next? 

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

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.

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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.

Now, You’re Almost Ready for Eid-al-Adha – What’s Next? 

  • Schedule your gift now, so you don’t forget. Browse Eid-al-Adha gifts to USA, Canada & 200 countries, and make sure your gift is delivered on time!
  • Looking for more Middle Eastern recipes? Check out these Three Delicious Recipes to Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to see this too. Click those share buttons below.

Image #3 by Maggie Hoffman

Top 3 Most Unusual Gift Orders We Delivered

Think you have an unusual gift idea? Here’s how other people like to impress!
.

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!

birthday-steak

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!

drum

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.

Maltese puppy

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!

Now, You’re All Ready For Gift Giving – What’s Next?

  • Start preparing for upcoming holidays and special occasions. Browse gifts to USA, UK & 200 countries, and make sure your gifts are delivered on time!
  • Want to keep reading? Check out our Unusual Yet Romantic Gifts.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to see this too. Click those share buttons below.

6 Great Ways to End Summer Before Going Back to School

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!

Now, You’re All Ready For Fall – What’s Next?

  • Start preparing for upcoming fall holidays. Browse gifts to USA, UK & 200 countries, and make sure your gifts are delivered on time!
  • Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. Find out Why Giving Is Better Than Receiving.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to see this too. Click those share buttons below.

Image #1 by Ian Burt
Image #2 by Izabela Pawlicka
Image #3 by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

4 Things you Think you Know about Long Distance Relationships

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