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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.

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.

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!
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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!

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

Three Delicious Recipes to Celebrate Eid al-Fitr!

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

We Turned A Long Distance Relationship Into A Wedding

“Once in awhile, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” J. B. Jeffrey

Summertime means beautiful weather, sunny skies and, the most popular wedding season of the year. With elegant sunsets, and tantalizing views bursting with stunning plants it’s no wonder so many couples want to tie the knot this time of year. With love in the air, we just had to share one of our favorite romantic stories with you.  Take a moment and let it inspire you to be more romantic, a little spontaneous, and encourage you to show your nearest and dearest (and maybe far away) sweetheart how much you love and cherish them!

Picture a couple: 5 years ago and oceans apart. He was from the US, She was from St. Petersburg, and their love just didn’t care. He was desperate to make the 6-month anniversary of their first meeting special, and wanted to send gifts to Russia, but the distance was proving to be something made to ruin surprises. Long nights of browsing the internet for the perfect way to show his love and devotion ended in nothing but frustration. He was constantly warned away: gifts would be shipped internationally, and the delivery date something that could only be guessed at. As you know, for anniversaries the day after just doesn’t cut it.

But his persistence paid off, though he couldn’t have known at the time. Uncertain and frustrated he placed a call to the GBO customer service team. Touched by his determination and love, this order quickly became personal not only for him, but our employees. His first order was simple: a delicate long-stemmed red rose with mouthwatering chocolates, something sweet and elegant for the woman who captured his heart. By the time he called it was already Sunday morning for his love, and the surprise had to arrive Monday, or not at all. With a little luck, a lot of hard work, and a devoted GBO team, his gift made it to his love on time and absolutely overwhelmed her with joy.

Barely a month passed before he decided he had to surprise her again, and then again, and again. Each and every time he came back to the company that had made the impossible not only possible, but easy. The gifts he chose were personal and thoughtful. Sometimes he sent sweet fruit baskets to Russia, just to make her smile. Another time, a handmade shawl to keep her warm while she was away from his arms. He spared no effort working with GBO to track down custom and unique gifts that were near (but not quite) impossible to find in Russia. Truly their love was a fairy tale. He showered her with designer clothes, rare books, a Blackberry, and even an iPhone 5 to help them keep in touch.

Other times the gifts were more interactive. He treated her to days at the spa, her favorite restaurants, even the opera, and even made sure a limousine was there to pick her up and drop her off each and every time.  Each gift came with his unique signature, a bouquet of red roses with a stunning white rose in the middle, a symbol of hope that theirs was a love that could stand up to any test.

He didn’t stop there! He knew that if he was to be lucky enough to marry this woman, he had to win over not only her, but also her family. Her mother (in Armavir) and her grandmother (in Tolyatti) were also spoiled by his generosity. Like a true gentleman, he spared no expense sending them both flowers for all occasions, and sometimes simply as a reminder of his affection. Finally, years later, the time was right, and he was ready to ask them if he could marry the wonderful woman they had both raised. He set the mood by treating them to a fancy dinner at the best local restaurant, again complete with a limousine to take the women to and from. He also wrote a beautiful letter to ask them both if they would give their permission to let him make the woman of his dreams his wife.

Of course, they said yes!

Five years of a fairy tale romance, the distance almost forgotten, and hundreds of gifts later, his one-time sweetheart became his fiancé, and then finally his happy wife who made a home with him in the US.  Even though he no longer needs GBO to send his wife surprises across the ocean (now he gets to do that in person), he still keeps surprising his mother-in-law in Russia with beautiful gifts and bouquets on all major occasions.

We’re happy to say, they truly have their happily ever after.  Thank you for inspiring us to give a little more often, to love a little harder, and to never forget that even the smallest of gifts can go the distance and bring us all just a little bit closer.

Wedding Image by: [Rich Bowen]

Where Mother’s Day celebrated on May 8, 2011 Around the World

International Mother's Day gifts
The Mother’s Day is celebrated on a second Sunday of May not only in the United States but also in the following countries:
Anguilla,  Aruba,  Australia,  Austria,  Bahamas,  Bangladesh,  Barbados,  Belgium,  Belize,  Bermuda,  Bonaire,  Botswana,  Brazil,  Brunei,  Bulgaria,  Canada,  Chile,  China,  Colombia,  Croatia,  Curaçao,  Cyprus,  Czech Republic,  Denmark,  Dominica,  Ecuador,  Estonia,  Ethiopia,  Fiji,  Finland,  Germany,  Ghana,  Greece,  Grenada,  Honduras,  Hong Kong,  Iceland,  India,  Italy,  Jamaica,  Japan,  Latvia,  Liechtenstein,  Macao,  Malaysia,  Malta,  Myanmar,  Netherlands,  New Zealand,  Pakistan,  Papua New Guinea,  Peru,  Philippines,  Puerto Rico,  Saint Kitts and Nevis,  Saint Lucia,  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,  Singapore,  Sint Maarten,  Slovakia,  South Africa,  Sri Lanka,  Switzerland,  Taiwan,  Trinidad and Tobago,  Turkey,  Ukraine,  Uruguay,  Vietnam,  Venezuela,  Zambia.
Additionally it’s always on May 8th in South Korea and Albania.