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St. Patrick’s Day is NOT About Irish Cocktails

16 Mar

St. Patrick’s Day is NOT About Irish Cocktails: Here are Some Anyway

I want to make it clear that St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is NOT about drinking Irish cocktails half the night (the Irish do that other days of the year). And it’s certainly not about green beer – there is NO green beer in Ireland – and it would probably be considered an insult to great beer.

Irish Cocktails aren't only for St. Patrick's Day

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is more like Thanksgiving in the US. Families go to church together to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland (that’s Saint Patrick). Afterward, they often enjoy a big family meal and a day off to relax. There might be Irish cocktails, but that’s more about Irish people making a drink than it is about a holiday tradition.

That having been said, I know some people are preparing for their St. Patrick’s party by stocking up the liquor cabinet. So, I thought I’d share some of the authentic Irish cocktails and drinks I actually had while I was in Ireland during Holy Week once upon a time. Keep reading…

 
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8 Useful Lunch Box Life Hacks for Kids and Adults

10 Mar

If you wonder if packing your lunch is worth it, try it and find out! You’ll save on buying lunch every day, and you’ll enjoy delicious and healthy options you actually like. Plus, if you have children, you’ll be able to pack lunch for the whole family in one very rewarding session. We have 8 simple lunch box tips for grown-ups and kids that will help you pack your own lunch easily every day. Besides, March 10 is a National Pack Your Lunch Day, and it’s the perfect reason to have your lunch box ready to take to work, school, on a picnic, or where ever you spend the day.

Save money, save time - pack your lunch! Keep reading…

 
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Healthy Pancake Recipes for Your Family

07 Mar

If weight gain wasn’t an issue, then we’d probably eat pancakes for breakfast and lunch, and maybe between meals. For those folks who are addicted to fluffy pancakes, with melting butter and a decadent drizzle of syrup, we have good news! Since we’re in love with pancakes, but not the extra pounds, we’ve got healthy pancake recipes just in time for International Pancake Day on March 7th. It’s the perfect excuse to dive into a stack of steaming hot pancakes! But there’s no need to stick with the classic buttermilk version. It’s a hearty option for breakfast, but not the healthiest way start to your day.

Tips for Gluten Free and Healthy Pancakes

People who are allergic to wheat gluten, or who have other dietary restrictions, can’t include traditional pancakes in their diet! But our healthy pancake recipes make sure they too have options. Pancakes do not have to be full of carbs, or calorie guilt. When you learn these recipes, you’ll be able to indulge in heavenly homemade pancakes while on a diet, and it will be as easy as making regular buttermilk pancakes. These healthy pancake alternatives are low fat, delicious and absolutely guilt free. See for yourself! Keep reading…

 
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What is Purim? A Time For Joy and Giving

01 Mar

What is Purim?

For many people, Jewish holidays are shrouded in an air of mystery, and Purim – since it’s lesser known among non-Jewish people – can be even more enigmatic. It can be intimidating or awkward to figure out the best way to approach someone and ask what their holidays are all about. So, we’re here to shed a bit of light on Purim: a holiday that you may have never heard of, and certainly, have some questions about.

Purim Celebration Decorations

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How to Welcome Spring Into Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

17 Feb

In like a lion, out like a lamb, the first spring month is almost here, which means we made it through the coldest season and it’s time to shed our winter layers in favor of the lightness of spring. While it may still be a few weeks until we can put away heavy jackets and sweaters for good, it’s perfectly fine to start preparing your home for the big seasonal transition. Brighter hues, fresher scents… it’s time to bring the warmth indoors, and the warmth outdoors will follow sooner than you think!

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5 Creative Valentine’s Date Ideas

03 Feb

Valentine’s Day is nearly here and we’re sure many of you haven’t planned a date yet. This is bad news if you want to book a reservation at the most popular restaurant in town. But you probably don’t want to do that; after all, you’re a free spirit, an innovator, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person who likes to go against the rules and do things last minute. Or, maybe more honestly, you’re reading this on February 13th and won’t for the life of you be able to do any of the more traditional things and that’s okay.

Just for you, dear romantic voyager, we’ve put together some of our favorite date ideas that aren’t the typical Valentine’s Day package. Some cater to those who “plan” last minute, some cater to those who like adventure, and all can be enjoyed by couples, singles, friends, and family alike. After all, Valentine’s Day is a day we think should celebrate love in all of its many amazing forms.

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The Year of the Rooster: How does Chinese Zodiac Work?

23 Jan

The start of the lunar year is getting closer, and millions of people around the world have already started getting ready for one of the biggest celebrations: Chinese New Year. This January 28th denotes the beginning of the Year of the Red Fire Rooster, as defined by the Chinese zodiac cycle. But what does it really mean to all of us?

Chinese astrology has been around for thousands of years and it is deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy and culture. It’s based on the belief that both living things and objects have a purpose in this world, and achieving harmony is the most important among them. The Chinese also believe that everything has its own energy which can be either male – vibrant and outgoing called “yang”, or female – quiet and subdued, called “yin”. Yin Yang energy plays a key role in Chinese astrology and determines common traits and potential for compatibility between the animal signs.

How does Chinese Zodiac Work?

Image by IQRemix

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7 Bizarre Cheeses From Around the World

19 Jan

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January, 20 is a National Cheese Lovers Day and a perfect excuse to talk about our favorite food, cheese!

There’s so much more to the amazing world of cheese than your typical grocery store can offer. There are a lot of great affordable cheeses out there, don’t get us wrong, but none of them made it to our list today. Thousands of artisan cheeses are produced through their own intricate and labor-intensive processes, creating complex varieties with unique flavors. Join us as we explore the most unusual (and expensive) cheeses around the world, because we’re going to give the term “indulgence” a whole new meaning!

Stilton – golden cheese from UK

Let’s start with a fancy cheese.  This delicacy, believe it or not, would be served to you as a dessert! The most expensive cheese in the UK, White Stilton Gold, is made by Clawson who is known as ‘The King” of the British cheeses. With only six creameries in the world, it’s no wonder the prices for this luxury “gold” is so high. Creamy and crumbly White Stilton Gold is made with real edible gold leaf and gold liqueur. It will cost you around $500 per pound and will certainly make an amazing gift for any cheese connoisseur you know. Rumor has it that celebrities and oil sheikhs are already in line for a sample of the golden cheese.

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Pule – donkey’s cheese from Serbia

Another option for those who don’t mind spending a fortune on good cheese is Pule. Even more expensive than Stilton (around $600 per pound), Pule is made outside Belgrade, Serbia and only available on demand. So, even if you’re a millionaire you will still need to go to Serbia and wait for the cheese to be made, which might actually take a while. To make 1 kilogram of this cheese requires 25 liters of smoked donkey’s milk (or 3 gallons per pound) collected by hand from 100 donkeys who only produce 200 ml of milk per day, each!  But this cheese may just be well worth the wait, not only because of the unique crumbly taste, but also due to its health properties. Pule is low in fats, rich in proteins and vitamins (60 times more vitamin C than cow’s milk), and is known to strengthen the immune system.

Moose Cheese from Sweden

Moose cheese? The main reason you probably have never heard of it is that there are only three moose on the planet capable of producing milk. Their names are Gullan, Haelga, and Juna and they all live in Bjursholm, Sweden.

The process of making moose cheese is long, expensive, and tricky. Moose only lactate 5 months a year and require the most tender handling in complete silence otherwise they can get unsettled and dry-up for good. Each moose can produce about 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of milk per day if you’re lucky, which means the farm can make no more than 300 kg (660 pounds) of cheese a year. So if you’re looking to surprise your friends and have $400 to spend on a pound of cheese, pick yourself up some of the world’s rarest moose cheese. Although, instead of actually giving them this cheese, you can always go the cheap route, and just say, “Did you know you could make cheese from Bullwinkle?”.

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Epoisses – stinky cheese from France

If smelly cheeses aren’t a problem for you, then Epoisses should be on the top of your “to try” list.   As a hand-washed rind cheese, it is considered among the stinkiest in the world. Of course, cheese-lovers know that’s a sign of potent, delicious flavor.  Made from raw cow’s milk with its rind washed with pomace brandy, this cheese has a flavor and texture as unforgettable as its smell, which has made this cheese a culinary treasure. Some liken its scent to gym socks, and it has even been banned from public transportation all over France. I wonder what made Napoleon love it so much?

Casu marzu – flying maggot cheese from Italy

For the extreme foodies out there, here’s a cheese that will horrify you. Casu marzu literally means “rotten cheese.” It is one of the most disturbing cheeses out there, and here’s why. To make it, you start with regular sheep cheese and basically leave it out to attract flies until it’s infested with thousands of live larvae. This cheese is only made in Sardinia, Italy and is quite popular with locals. They prefer to eat it while the maggots are still alive (they think it’s unsafe otherwise). Some people get rid of them before consuming, while others leave them in but cover the cheese with their hands while eating because the disturbed maggots can jump up to six inches high! Soft and liquidy, Casu marzu has an aftertaste that lasts for hours and is definitely one of those foods that require a certain courage to try.

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Milbenkäse – cheese with mite excrement from Germany

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Italian maggot cheese, along come the Germans who take cheese-making to another level. Their Milbenkäse is made by allowing quark (a fresh dairy product much like yogurt) to sit amongst thousands of dust mites that transform it into a highly sought after delicacy. The mites excrete an enzyme that ripens the cheese for about a year until it turns to a blackish lump with a bitter and zesty flavor. Is there anything more to this cheese rather than the unique process and high price? They say by consuming Milbenkäse you can rid yourself of a host dust allergies. That might be a question worth asking some aficionados who’ve already tried it.

Yak – everlasting cheese from Tibet

Are you one of those people who wish good cheese never ended? They have a solution for you in Tibet! Hard like a piece of resin, Yak cheese is so hard it could break your teeth, but at least you can suck and gnaw on it for hours. Made by wrapping the curd from yak’s milk in cloth, then pressing and drying it over a wood fire to give it a distinctive earthy taste, this cheese variety can only be found in Tibet, India and Nepal.

Do your friends love cheese as much as you do? Click the share buttons below to make sure they read this too. Or even better. Surprise them with a gourmet gift basket filled to the brim with delicious cheese delivered to USA, UK & 200 countries.

Image #1 by Yoane Carle
Image #2 by Simon Doggett
Image #3 by Ewan Munro
Image #4 by JohnPickenPhoto
 
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10 Tips to Jump Start Your New Year

08 Jan

The Ball has dropped, the last of the party is finally cleaned up, and your New Year’s Resolutions might have accidentally gotten tossed out with the trash. Don’t worry, we all say things we don’t mean when under the influence of champagne and party hats. But if you are really looking to make some real positive change in your life for 2017, the best advice we can give you is start small, and do something that resonates with you are and who you want to be.

If you need a little bit of help thinking of things that will make your life better and make you feel good while doing it, we just happen to have a list ready.

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  1. Clean out your pantry!  No really, this is going to make you feel better. We all do it, buy something because we forgot we had it and next thing we know there’re 4 unopened tubs of peanut butter in our cabinet that we are never going to eat. Go through each space, and keep what you know you are realistically going to use. For the rest, make sure they aren’t expired and bag them up. Donate them to shelters, food banks, or even college campuses (which often have a location where they accept donation for students in need). New year, new you, new food! It’s a great motto to live by.
  2. Clean out your closet. We promise this isn’t all about donating to charity. But if you have some things that you can give away, that’s great. The point of going through your closet is so you know what you have, what fits, what doesn’t, and so on. You’d be amazed at how many people buy a shirt or dress and put it in their closet only to forget about it. You may find so many hidden treasures that you won’t need to use all those gift cards your family gave you on clothes.
  3. Finally match your socks. While you’re surrounded by your wardrobe anyway, take a minute to pull out all your socks and actually match them. This may sound silly, but we know you’ve had more than one morning where you could not find a pair of socks. This way, the first few weeks of the year, you can get up late for work confident that the battle to find socks won’t slow you down. Plus, we’re betting you’ve got some socks with holes, stretched-out tops, or no more partners. Set these lonely socks aside – they’re perfect for wearing on your hands when you dust hard to reach places, for DIY sock puppet projects with the kids, OR they can even make great toys for your pets.
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  4. Make a calendar you can use. We aren’t talking a paper calendar, but you can use that if you want. Pick whatever phone app you like. Google calendar seems to sync with everything.  If nothing else, make sure you have reminders set up at least a week in advance for things like birthdays, anniversaries, and even a reminder for the movie you saw advertised that doesn’t come out until summer 2017. It’s a little thing that will help you remember to buy gifts and make plans.
  5. Learn to make at least one new dish. It’s as simple as that. Promise yourself you’ll learn one dish this year. If you’re really into cooking, one a month. They don’t have to be complicated or fancy, just put some new flavor and a little variety into your diet. We know you have about a thousand saved in your bookmarks.
  6. Treat yourself.  Yes, you can use the New Year as an excuse to get yourself that thing you always wanted. Want a weekend away? Make plans to travel somewhere! Learning guitar? Take some time to replace the old strings and really clean up your baby. A moment to spoil yourself after months of planning to give to others can be very emotionally and mentally relaxing.
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  7. Take inventory of your holiday haul.  There are always a few things that don’t fit quite right, or need to be in a different color, or came out of the box broken. Most stores stop accepting holiday gifts returns at the end of this month, so make sure you take some time to go through what you got and take care of what needs to go back.
  8. We’re not saying take down your tree, but you may want to dust it.  For a lot of people, holiday trees stay up until…Whenever. And that’s okay! But if you’re leaving yours up, take a moment to dust it, and change up the decorations. Keep that beauty – and holiday spirit – in tip-top shape with a little TLC.
  9. If you made a resolution and you’re finding it too hard to stick to, try taking baby steps.  You don’t have to totally give up on your resolution if you’ve already broken it.  If you want to do something like to learn a language, try learning a new word or phrase a day. You can slowly build that up to more and more, and before you know it you’ll be picking up whole sentences and having basic conversations.
  10. Make sure your home is ready for anything!

This is a good time to:

  • Check batteries in alarms;
  • Check batteries in remotes;
  • Do a little of the deep cleaning you swear you’ll get to;
  • Make sure you have at least one flashlight in an easy to reach place;
  • Make sure you have candles;
  • Get a bottle of water and some dry food for “just in case;”
  • Check your emergency supply kit, renew/update/add items as needed;
  • Go to the car, make sure it’s ready to start fresh and prepared too;
  • Make sure your basic medicines/vitamins are in stock and not expired.

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Whatever way you start off 2017, don’t forget that it is okay to stumble. You won’t get to everything on your to-do list, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you’re trying and doing just a little bit more than the year before. Let us know what you plan to do and how in the comments! You might inspire someone else to greatness.

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

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

22 Dec

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. You know exactly where you want to celebrate New Year, but you just can’t decide on a hotel. The place needs to be fun and fit your personality down to the letter, because as they say, ‘the way you meet the New Year is how you’re going to spend it!’ We want your upcoming year be full of adventures, breathtaking experiences, and unforgettable emotions.  Going with a traditional hotel room just can’t guarantee you any of that, no matter how fancy it is.  That’s where Airbnb comes to the rescue. This website is a priceless resource of the most unique lodging rentals around the world, and it will tempt you with the vacation of your dreams. Still skeptical? See for yourself, but don’t hesitate too long because these incredible locations around the world are already filling up.

 

Bamboo House (Bali, Indonesia)

If you’ve ever dreamt about an exotic place where you can enjoy fantastic panoramas of the jungle, you’ll be amazed to find out that such a place actually exists. This luxurious bamboo house set on the sacred Ayung river in Bali, Indonesia is nothing but unique. Dreamers and celebrities alike are mesmerized by its fabulous settings and incredible views, keeping the Sunrise House busy since 2010. Though it is located in the middle of the jungle, the villa has a lot to offer. The Bamboo House comes fully equipped with luxury amenities including a plunge pool and private garden. This incredible four-story, all bamboo construction comprises 3 bedrooms, a lounge area, a kitchen, a media room, and a work space all furnished with exquisite bamboo furniture. With so much to offer, it is an easy pick for a family or group of friends who want to escape for the holidays together.

If you’re interested, here is what you need to know:

The Bamboo House is priced at $335 per night and comfortably accommodates 6 guests. This seems like a more than reasonable price to pay for a once in a lifetime dream location you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. Let the Tarzan in you enjoy the amazing sceneries of the dense jungle waiting to be explored!

 

The Seashell House – Casa Caracol (Isla Mujeres, Mexico)

If you want to spend New Year’s Eve like a mermaid or Neptune, this eccentric Seashell House is a perfect fit for you! Located on the most beautiful Caribbean island, Isla Mujeres, it looks (and feels!) like something out of surrealist paintings or the pages of Zeus’s children’s books. Built in 1994 by a famous architect Eduardo Ocampo for his brother, the unique building was inspired by a seashell. Every little detail inside and outside of the house is themed around shells which makes you feel like you’re one with the ocean. Which is a great transition since the ocean is the view just outside of the window.

Casa Caracol accommodates 4 people and has all the amenities for a comfortable and enjoyable stay with family or friends, and costs $308 per night. It is easy to get to and from Cancun International Airport, making this Caribbean gem the place to escape to for those who believe that crowded pools and touristic attractions aren’t part of a perfect New Year’s getaway.

 

Cabana Floripa (Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil)

You may be looking for something that puts you totally out of your element. A real adventure! Perhaps something that is part Oz adventure, an all eco-friendly, artsy tree house.  Cabana Floripa captures all of that and much more. Made of colorful recycled glass artwork, this one-of-a-kind cabin is an incredible place to explore for both kids and adults.  If you desire a vacation filled with emotions over luxury, Cabana Floripa is a truly unique and special experience for romantic getaways or family vacations alike.

The price may just be the best part at only $73 per night! As an extra bonus, you’ll have beautiful white sand beaches at your disposal only a walking distance away.

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King of the Castle (Galway, Ireland)

Who doesn’t want to start a new year like a king? Well, you can make that dream come true and start your year off like royalty in an actual castle!  This restored medieval building is full of character and looks exactly the same as it did 600 years ago when it was first built. Though now it has a few modern conveniences to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Just imagine yourself sitting before a huge fireplace wrapped in a blanket, looking at crackling wood and raising a toast to a new year. Don’t forget to top the experience off with delicious festive meal and a little pinch of snuff, just like the nobles who stayed before you. Yes, in a castle!

Your loved ones or friends can join you on this adventure since the castle accommodates 5 guests and costs only $161 a night. For a castle that price is an absolute steal!

  

Elqui Domos Astronomic Hotel (Paiguano, Coquimbo, Chile)

For couples looking to spark love on the New Year, what could be better than gazing at a breathtaking view of stars in the comfort of your own bed?! The only astronomic hotel in the Southern Hemisphere, Elqui Domos is a unique place that offers just such an evening. Located deep in the wilderness of Elqui Valley in Chile, these rooms were designed to be an absolute dream for stargazing. The resort offers two-story geodesic domes; each with a living room and a bathroom on the first floor, and a comfortable bed with a detachable roof over it on the second floor.

If you’re looking to get out and adventure you will find exciting tours, nighttime horse rides, and plenty of gorgeous vineyards in the area to help you make the most out of your getaway. At $196 per night we know these rooms will be all booked in no time.

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

  • Schedule your gift now, so you don’t forget. Browse New Year gifts to USA, UK & 200 countries, and make sure your gift is delivered on time!
  • Start the upcoming year with these Tips to Jump Start Your New Year. Or learn your horoscope with the Chinese Zodiac.
  • You’ve read this far, we’re sure you have a friend who’d like to see this too. Click those share buttons below.

All images courtesy of airbnb.com

 
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