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Have you ever dreamt about traveling the globe and seeing how other cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday?  Maybe you can not afford the price of the ticket, do not want the hassle of hustling throughout a busy airport during the holiday season, or you just do not have the time in your schedule.  Whichever may be your reason or excuse…no worries I, The Pilot,  will bring you the Christmas Around the World…Holiday of Lights!   As you may not know, “no one does the Christmas Holidays like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)” in Chicago.  The Museum of Science and Industry presents  a-one-of-kind seasonal celebration”.  This event runs from November 14, 2013-January 5, 2014, the Hours are from 9:30am-4:00pm and it is located at  5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637.  This is one of those “don’t miss events!”.

According to the MSI, this event “began in 1942 with a single tree dedicated to the Allies of world War II.”  Now it has developed into quite a dreamy celebration and can turn even the old curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, into a believer of the holidays without the visits (lol) {taken from the novel by Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.}

FYI: Curmudgeon: “a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person (www.dictionary.com).”

FYI: A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens is the depiction of a crotchety stingy man who did not believe in the “holiday spirit”, so he was visited by the spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Future…the old grouch! (lol).  Later, through these introspective visits he transform into a kind, generous and loving person towards his fellow human and learns to LOVE the holidays!

Back in 1942, I am sure the lighting of the tree must have been some awesome affair but now the grand “45-foot Grand Tree with 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments; is surrounded by 50 smaller trees decorated by volunteers by the ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions”.  Have you ever wanted to see how other cultures danced to celebrate the holidays.   Yes, there will be Performers of Choral and Dancers performances on certain weekdays and on the weekends!

Today, I am sure the troops would be awed at this grand presentation…I have no doubt that the troops would love all of the tree displays from around the world and all of their cultures would feel appreciated.

FYI: The Allies was the name used by countries fighting in the Second World War (WWII) against the Axis. The Allies included Britain, France, Russia,  Poland, Nationalist China, Belgium (although it remained neutral), Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway, Denmark, Greece, the British commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, India) and the USA.  The Axis included Germany (Austria) , Italy, Japan, Romania satellites (Hungary and Bulgaria).  Eventually over 50 countries fought on the Allied side. Thus making it a true World War (taken from various sites).

When people are asked what is your favorite holiday of the year, I am sure the majority of responses are “The Holidays”, of which we readily know to mean (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years).  However specifically most claim Christmas as their favorite time of the year!  Why not, with its festive foods, sparkling drinks, joyous music, decorative colors, and gift giving traditions–which makes it one of “the most wonderful time of the year”!

Well my visit to the Museum of Science and Industry definitely placed me into the holiday mood.   I realize, as I type this blog, there are some that do not care for the world “holiday”, and instead prefer for the world “Christmas”.  However, I make great attempts to be cognizant of different cultures and traditions and hope to be “inclusive” and not ethnocentric.  I have come to understand that fear-or xenophobia-makes holidays less “happy” for others if they are not recognized…after all it is about “peace on earth and goodwill towards men”–all men (and in men it meant humankind).

FYI:  According to the biblical scripture of the King James Version: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”, is what the heralding angels said to the shepherds tending their sheep on the day we celebrate the birth  (Luke 2:14).

FYI: Ethnocentrism: Belief in the intrinsic superiority of the nation, culture, or group to which one belongs with the tendency to evaluate other groups according to the values and standards of your own ethnic group; especially with the perception and conviction that your own ethnic group is superior to the other groups.

FYI: Xenophobic: hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers and of their politics or culture which may be different than yours.

After a bit of research I learned that “Beginning in the mid-20th century, as the Christian-associated Christmas holiday became increasingly secularized and central to American economics and culture while religio-multicultural sensitivity rose, generic references to the season that omitted the word “Christmas” became more common in the corporate and public sphere of the United States, which has caused a semantics ( the study of linguistics ) controversy, translation, a disagreement of meaning, that continues to the present.”

By the late 20th century, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa began to be considered in the U.S. as being part of the “holiday season”, a term that by the beginning of the 21st century would become equally or more prevalent than “Christmas season” in U.S. Sources, to refer to the end-of-the-year festive period. “Holiday season” has also spread in varying degrees to Canada and Australia, however in the United Kingdom, the phrase “holiday season” is not widely understood to be synonymous with the Christmas–New Year period, and is often instead associated with summer holidays.  I found this interesting to learn that in the world not everyone celebrates “Christmas” per say.  This could be due to the fact that not all of the world is “Christ”ian.

FYI:  Hanukkah: “The holiday originated when Judah the Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the temple in the village of Modi’in from Syrian King Antiochus IV. The temple was cleansed and prepared for rededication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication.” When the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was relit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. Yet, according to tradition, the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found.  A lesser known story from the Apocrypha tells of the beautiful widow Judith who plied enemy Assyrian General Holofernes with cheese and wine until he fell into a drunken stupor. Judith beheaded the general in his sleep, and his soldiers fled in fear, thus saving her people from the Assyrians. This story is the subject of much renowned artwork.  In remembrance, a candle is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Children receive gifts of gelt (in remembrance of the coins minted by the new independent Maccabee state) or money and play games of dreidel (a spinning four-sided top.) The tradition of receiving a gift on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is fairly recent. Since Christians exchange gifts at Christmas, Jews have come to exchange gifts other than coins at Hanukkah, which comes at the same time of the year (hanukkah-greeting.com)”.

TIP: You will also see this holiday spelled Chanukkah and perhaps even Hannukah due to different translations and customs.

FYI: Kwanzaa: “Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits”, Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Kwanzaa was born out of the whirlwind of social and political changes of the sixties decade. The sixties represent one of many eras during which the African and African-American struggle for freedom and self-identity reached its historical peak, spawning multiple revolutionary movements.  By creating Kwanzaa, African-Americans sought to rectify the cultural and economic exploitation perpetrated against us during the months of October, November, and December (the Christmas season). During this season, corporate America typically ignored the quality of life concerns of African-Americans, yet encouraged participation in the commercialism of Christmas (kwanzaa.123holiday.net)”.

TIP: Kwanzaa Seven Symbols: 1. Mazao: Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables,  2. Mkeka: Place Mat,  3.  Vibunzi: Ear of Corn,  4.  Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles, 5.  Kinara: The Candleholder,  6.  Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup,  7. Zawadi: Gifts.

However, I do give fair recognition of the word Christmas, as well.  Did you know that Christmas meaning is “Christ’s Mass”?  Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.  According to Biblical research, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Biblical verses also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow all biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi,  sometime “after” Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus. The visitors were following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches (wikipedia and other web research sites).

FYI: Feast of Epiphany “One of the oldest Christian feasts (celebrated since the end of the second century, before the establishment of the Christmas holiday), Epiphany (which means “manifestation” or “showing forth”) is sometimes called Twelfth Day, Three Kings’ Day, Día de los Tres Reyes (in Latin America), the Feast of Jordan (by Ukrainian Orthodox), or Old Christmas Day (The Free Dictionary).” “Christians celebrate 6 of January as Epiphany because it’s considered the day the three Wise men (Magi) visited Jesus in Bethlehem  The other reason it’s called Epiphany is because it signified the revelation of God to mankind in human form (Answers.com).”

The song: We Three Kings of Orient AreI shared with you the appropriate lyrics as each King presented their gifts to the baby Jesus!

FYI:  “The famous American carol We three Kings of Orient was written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins. The minister is reputed to have written the carol We three Kings of Orient are for the General Theological Seminary in New York City as part of their Christmas pageant. The lyrics of We three Kings of Orient are are extremely traditional which makes the latter day fashion of referring to the carol as We 3 Kings of Orient are quite bizarre! www.carols.org.uk

FRANKINCENSE

Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nigh Prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high”

MYRRH

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Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb”

GOLD

“Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain Gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign”

The gifts that were presented to the baby Jesus by the Three Kings were a blessing, it is written that with those gifts the family of Jesus were able to flee from danger.

You may ask what is the difference with “gifts” and “presents” ?  Well according to an article I read.  “the word gift has a current common meaning of ‘something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.’ It denoted a specific act of putting something in someone else’s hands, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  Later around the 1300s, the word began to assume a more general meaning of an object freely given to another person.”

Whereas, present  was imported was imported into English from Old Norman also called Old French). Present originally meant the same thing as the adjective present , ‘being there.’ It was used in the French phrase mettre en present, to mean ‘to offer in the presence of.’  By the early 1300s, it became synonymous with the thing being offered. (Present did not acquire the sense of ‘the present time’ until the 1500s.)

Now, we have other terms used from gift giving in the modern era.  For example “re-gifting” is almost akin to recycling a gift, instead of returning a gift to the merchandiser, you instead would gift it to another person…hopefully not the same person which presented you the gift in the first place (lol).

FYI: “Re-gift. A more recent evolution of the term came in the popular word regift.  The word refers  to the common practice of giving away a gift that you received from someone else, like candles, bubble bath, “and ugly sweaters (lol)! dictionary.com

FYI:  In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season.

When can you open the gifts?!

Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day; and January 6, Epiphany; or the day before Christmas, December 26.

How do you say Merry Christmas in…

Season’s Greetings كل عام وأنتم بخير  – Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese) –  祝聖誕節快樂 Chinese (Mandarin) –  祝圣诞节快乐 Danish – Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår Dutch – Prettige feestdagen Fijian – Bula Vinaka Finnish – Hyvää Joulua ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta French – Joyeuses fêtes German – Frohe Feiertage! Hindi – uoo”kZ dh ‘kqÒdkeuk;sa Icelandic – Gleðilega hátíð Italian – Buone Feste Japanese – メリー クリスマス Korean –    즐거운 연휴 되시길 바랍니다. Lithuanian –  Linksmų švenčių! Norwegian – God Jul og Godt Nytt År  Persian (Farsi) تبریکات فصلی  Portuguese – Boas Festas Romanian – Crăciun fericit Spanish – Felices fiestas Swati –  Tilokotfo taKhisimisi Swedish – God Jul och Gott Nytt År, Maligayang Pasko in the Philippines   – See more at: http://www.lingo24.com/useful-phrases-seasons-greetings.html#sthash.0hABZfvH.dpuf

Ways to say “Merry Christmas” or “Season’s Greetings” in such languages    as Afrikaans, Danish, Hindi, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swahili, Thai, and more.

Language Merry Christmas
Afrikaans Gesëende Kersfees
Czech Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny          Novy Rok
Danish Glædelig Jul
Esperanto Gajan Kristnaskon
Finnish Hyvää Joulua
French Joyeux Noël
German Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek Kala Christouyenna
Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka
Hindi Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Icelandic Gledileg Jol
Irish Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian Buon Natale or Buone Feste          Natalizie
Japanese Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu          Omedeto
Korean Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latin Natale hilare
Lithuanian Linksmu Kaledu
Maori Meri Kirihimete
Norwegian God Jul
Polish Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese Feliz Natal
Russian Srozhdestovm Kristovim
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Swahili Kuwa na Krismasi njema
Tagalog Maligayang Pasko
Thai Suksun Wan Christmas
Vietnamese Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh Nadolig Llawen

Happy Holidays[edit]

For other meanings of “Happy Holidays”, see Happy Holidays (disambiguation).

In the United States, “Happy Holidays” (along with the similarly generalized “Season’s Greetings”) has become a common holiday greeting in the public sphere of department stores, public schools and greeting cards. Its use is generally confined to the period between United States Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. American use of the term “Happy Holidays” to replace “Merry Christmas” dates back at least to the 1970s[53] and was a common phrase relating to the Christmas season at least going back to the 1890s.[54] The term may have gained popularity with the Irving Berlin song “Happy Holidays” (released in 1942 and included in the film Holiday Inn).

A Jerusalem bus wishing pedestrians a Hanukkah Sameach, a Happy Hanukkah, in December 2010.

In the United States, it can have several variations and meanings:[citation needed]

  • As “Happy Holiday”, an English translation of the Hebrew Hag Sameach greeting on Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot.
  • As “Happy Holiday”, a substitution for “Merry Christmas”.
  • As “Happy Holidays”, a collective and inclusive wish for the period encompassing Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Winter solstice, Christmas Day (The Nativity of the Lord), Boxing Day (St. Stephen’s Day), the New Year and Epiphany.

Which should I say, that will not offend anyone?

As “Happy Holidays”, a shortened form of the greeting “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

The increasing usage of “Happy Holidays” has been the subject of some controversy in the United States. Advocates claim that “Happy Holidays” is an inclusive greeting that is not intended as an attack on Christianity or other religions, but is rather a response to what they say is the reality of a growing non-Christian population.

Show me the money…when should I start spending?

In the United States, the Christmas/holiday shopping season, during which a quarter of all personal spending takes place, is traditionally considered to commence on the day after American Thanksgiving, a Friday colloquially known as either Black Friday or Green Friday. This is widely reputed to be the busiest shopping day of the entire calendar year.

FYI:  However, in 2004 the VISA credit card organization reported that over the previous several years VISA credit card spending had in fact been 8 to 19 percent higher on the last Saturday before Christmas Day (i.e., Super Saturday) than on Black Friday.

A survey conducted in 2005 by GfK NOP discovered that “Americans aren’t as drawn to Black Friday as many retailers may think.”, with only 17% of those polled saying that they will begin holiday shopping immediately after Thanksgiving, 13% saying that they plan to finish their shopping before November 24, and 10% waiting until the very last day before performing their holiday gift shopping.

According to a survey by the Canadian Toy Association, peak sales in the toy industry occur in the Christmas and holiday season, but this peak has occurred later and later in the season every year.

In 2005, the ceremonial kick-off to the Christmas and holiday season for online shopping, the first Monday after US Thanksgiving, was named Cyber Monday. However, although it was a peak, that was not the busiest on-line shopping day of that year. The busiest on-line shopping days were December 12 and December 13, almost two weeks later; the second Monday in December has since become known as Green Monday. Another notable day is Free Shipping Day, a promotional day that serves as the last day where a person can order a good online and have it arrive via standard shipping (the price of which the sender pays) prior to Christmas Eve; this day is usually on or near December 16.Four of the largest 11 on-line shopping days in 2005 were December 11 to 16, with an increase of 12% over 2004 figures.In 2011, Cyber Monday was slightly busier than Green Monday and Free Shipping Day, although all three days registered sales of over US$1 billion, and all three days registered gains ranging from 14% to 22% over the previous year. Analysts had predicted the peak on December 12, noting that Mondays are the most popular days for on-line shopping during the holiday shopping season, in contrast to the middle of the week during the rest of the year. They attribute this to people “shopping in stores and malls on the weekends, and […] extending that shopping experience when they get into work on Monday” by “looking for deals, […] comparison shopping and […] finding items that were out of stock in the stores”.

In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.  Retailers in the UK call Christmas the “golden quarter”, that is, the three months of October through December is the quarter of the year in which the retail industry hopes to make most money.

In France, the January sales are restricted by legislation to no more than four weeks in Paris, and no more than six weeks for the rest of the country, usually beginning on the first Wednesday in January, and are one of only two periods of the year when retailers are permitted to hold sales.

In Italy, the January sales begin on the first weekend in January, and last for at least six weeks.

In Germany, the Winterschlussverkauf (winter close-out sale) was one of two official sales periods (the other being the Sommerschlussverkauf, the summer sales). It began on the last Monday in January and would last for 12 days, selling left-over goods from the holiday shopping season. However, unofficially, goods were sold at reduced prices by many stores throughout the whole of January and by the time that the sales officially begin the only goods left on sale are low-quality ones, often specially manufactured for the sales. Since a legislative reform to the corresponding law in 2004,season close-out sales are now allowed over the whole year and no more restricted to season-related goods. However, voluntary sales still called “Winterschlussverkauf” take place further on in most stores at the same time every year.

In Sweden, where the First of Advent marks the start of the Christmas and holiday season, continuing with Saint Lucy’s Day on December 13, followed up by Christmas before the Mellandagsrea (between days sell off) begins on December 27 (nowadays often December 26 or even December 25) and lasts during the rest of the Christmas holiday. It is similar to Black Friday, but lasts longer. They last 34–35 days In Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, holiday sales starts in the middle of December and last for at least one month. (wikipedia.com).

Why do we meet under the mistletoe for that  K I S S ?

The mistletoe is a seasonal costume plant by the Gauls. The Druids — for thusly are their priests named – hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it, as long as that tree be an oak…. Mistletoe is very rarely encountered; but when they do find some, they gather it, in a solemn ritual….”After preparing for a sacrifice and a feast under the oak, they hail the mistletoe as a cure-all and bring two white bulls there, whose horns have never been bound before. A priest dressed in a white robe climbs the oak and with a golden sickle cuts the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then they sacrifice the victims, begging the god, who gave them the mistletoe as a gift, to make it propitious for them. They believe that a potion prepared from mistletoe will make sterile animals fertile, and that the plant is an antidote for any poison. Such is the supernatural power with which people often invest even the most trifling things” (Natural History, XVI, 249-251; translation by David Beaulieu).
There is another take that “The variety common in Europe was imbued with religious significance by its ancient denizens. We find the source of “kissing under the mistletoe” in Celtic rituals and Norse mythology. In Gaul, the land of the Celts, for instance, the Druids considered it a sacred plant. It was believed to have medicinal qualities and mysterious supernatural powers. The following reflections from the Roman natural historian, Pliny the Elder is part of a longer Latin passage on the subject, dealing with a Druidic religious ritual:The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”  We moderns have conveniently forgotten the part about plucking the berries (which, incidentally, are poisonous), and then desisting from kissing under the mistletoe when the berries run out!

Most types of mistletoe are classified as hemiparasitical (i.e., partial parasites). They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis. But these mistletoe plants are parasitic in the sense that they send a special kind of root system (called “haustoria”) down into their hosts, the trees upon which they grow, in order to extract nutrients from the trees.

Therefore, forget about creeping on the stairs to take a peek to seeing “mommy kissing Santa Claus“…kiss all year round sans the plant! (lol).

FYI: I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus (This Christmas song by by Tommie Connor was first recorded by Jimmy Boyd and hit the top of the charts in 1952.)

What about the trees!

No one for sure knows when and where the first Christmas tree was created. However the origin of Christmas tree can be traced back to 16th century Germany. From there it spread to Eastern Europe and then to the United States and then soon all over the world (hubpages).

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.”

A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. If real trees are using for decorating purposes care should be taken to look it fresh all time. For this, the cut portion of the Christmas tree should be kept in water.  An artificial Christmas tree, usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a man-made replication of such a tree and is often used instead of a live tree in order to retain the Christmas spirit and decorations without the care and maintenance of a cut tree.  Artificial Christmas trees are suitable for both indoor and outdoor decorations (wikipedia.com).

The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

Alternatively, it is identified with the “tree of paradise” of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.

MSI: BRINGS YOU AROUND THE WORLD IN LESS THAN 80 DAYS! (LOL)

Now back to the trees at the museum…when I visited the MSI, I saw so many trees that I wondered if I was in a beautiful magical forest !

I decided to take photos of the representing country and a special ornament on that tree!  Afterall the trees were all the same size and color’ but what stood out were the unique ornaments on those trees!  I also decided to fastidiously search through copious interesting facts and information about each representing country to supplement the photos.

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(DYK): In India, Christian households, preparations for Christmas begin at least a month in advance. People get their homes whitewashed and indulge in spring cleaning of the house to give it a fresh new look. Ladies start preparations for the traditional Christmas cake which is anxiously awaited not just by the entire family but also by the neighbors!! Christmas Day called ‘Bada Din’ (Big Day) in Hindi is a national holiday in India and people from all religions join their Christian friends to make the most of the joyous celebrations. Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated. Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes. Customs for Christmas celebrations vary in the vast expanse of India.

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(DYK):  In Sweden, the Swedish Christmas celebrations begin with the first of Advent. Saint Lucy’s Day (locally known as Luciadagen) which is the first major Christmas celebration before Christmas itself. Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.   Electric candles and glowing stars are placed in almost every window in December month in Sweden. Families sometimes have goats made of straw in the house to guard the Christmas Tree! Straw is used as a decoration in homes, to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger. Christmas Tree decorations that are made of straw are also very popular.  Although December 25 (juldagen) is a Swedish public holiday, December 24 is the day when Santa Clause Jultomte (or simply Tomte) brings the presents.

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(DYK): In the Netherlands (also called Holland) on December, 5th children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas’s horse, they will be left some sweets. Children are told that Zwarte Piet keeps a record of all the things they have done in the past year, in a book, and that good children will get presents from Sinterklaas, but bad children will get chased by Zwarte Piet with a stick! They organize their St. Nicholas (Sinter Klaas) festival: the old bearded man traveling by boat and accompanied by many black aids, who distributes gifts to good children. Dutch people reserve the big gifts for Kerstmis Time because they profit for some great bargains after Sinter Klaas.  The Christmas season wraps up after the new year with Epiphany, or “Driekoningen”, on January 6. Children dress up as the Three Wise Men and travel in groups of three carrying lanterns, re-enacting the Epiphany and singing traditional songs for their hosts. In return they are rewarded with cakes and sweets.

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(DYK):  Christmas in Puerto Rico is  the period is quite long as  it extends from early December to mid-January. The air is filled with typical songs such  as the Aguinaldos ..People visit friends and family in the asaltos in which they go from house to house singing and partying. Typical instruments such as the guiro,  the cuatro and the guitar are used to make lovely music.The hosts lavish their visitors with food and drinks and later join the group as they move to another house.  Puerto Ricans usually put up a nice Christmas Tree with all the trimmings–a custom  obtained from American influence. As in most things, Puerto Ricans have adapted American  customs while keeping their own in typical celebrations, For the next 5 days Puerto Ricans and children in particular prepare for another festivity of Puerto Rican  culture…The Three Kings’ Day on the 6th of January…the Feast of the Epiphany,  celebrating the visit to the Christ Lord by the Magi bringing presents from the Far  East..The kids will cut some grass and place it in a small box and put it under the  Christmas Tree waiting for the Kings to bring them presents –the Camels will need a lot  of grass to feed after their long trip from the Orient.

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(DYK): In Canada houses, shops and streets are decorated with lights. Canadian people decorate their house with a Christmas tree, a Christmas wrap, a Christmas Crib… After the “Midnight Mass” people have a Christmas Eve with their family. Turkey and the Christmas log are the essential ingredients of a Canadian Christmas Dinner.   At Christmas Canadians eat sweets called Barley Candy and Chicken Bones! They are really sweets made by local candy companies. Barley Candy is usually on a stick and is shaped like Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a tree and other symbols of Christmas. Chicken Bones a pink candy that tastes like cinnamon. You melt them in your mouth and once melted, they reveal a creamy milk chocolate center. “Sinck Tuck” is a festival started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada. Many Canadian families have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season. This celebration consists of dancing and gift exchanging. They send greeting cards to their friends and family who live far away. Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve. Others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day.

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(DYK):  In Thailand It is true to say that no nation likes to celebrate more than the Thais and so it didn’t take long for the seasonal celebration to take hold, this may come as a surprise to some, particularly as over 90% of the population is Buddhist and Christmas is a Christian festival. However, it is worth remembering that the Christmas celebration has ancient roots in the winter solstice, and revelries involving holly, mistletoe, candles, feasts and gift-giving existed long before the Christian tradition.For the Thais, December 25th is not a public holiday and so school and work life will continue on as normal. Some Thai families will give their children gifts on Christmas morning and share a celebratory evening meal – although, this is more likely to be a Thai curry rather than the traditional Christmas fare of roast turkey.

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(DYK): In Greece the Christmas period begins on Christmas Eve and ends at the Epiphany. Christmas is less important than Easter.  On Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing ‘kalanda’ (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Sometimes the will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands.  If the children sing well, they might be given money, nuts, sweets and dried figs to eat.  Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Greece, but they aren’t traditional. Instead most houses will have a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim. A sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross hangs from the wire. Some water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, someone, usually the mother of the family, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house.  The main Christmas meal is often Lamb or pork, roasted in an oven or over an open spit. It’s often served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables. Other Christmas and new year foods include ‘Baklava’ (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavored with nuts and cinnamon), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry). A traditional table decoration are loaves of ‘christopsomo’ (Christ bread). It’s a round sweet loaf and the crust is often decorated with what the family do for a living (if you’re a fisherman there would be fish, etc.).

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(DYK): In Columbia, while Christmas decorations may be put up as early as the beginning of November. The unofficial start of Colombian Christmas festivities takes place on December 7, Día de las Velitas, or “Day of the Candles.” At night, the streets, sidewalks, balconies, porches, and driveways are decorated with candles and paper lanterns, which illuminate cities and towns in a yellow glow to honor the Immaculate Conception on the following day, December 8. In many cities, and even in small rural towns, neighborhoods get together and decorate their whole neighborhood or street, turning streets into virtual “tunnels of light.” Many radio stations and local organizations hold contests for the best display of lights, making the competition for the best light show a serious event.

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(DYK): In Finland the Christmas season starts from December or even in late November, when shops began advertising potential Christmas gifts.  Christmas decorations and songs become more prominent as Christmas nears, and children count days to Christmas with Advent calendars. Finnish people clean their homes well before Christmas and prepare special treats for the festive season. A sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds are tied on a pole, which is placed in the garden for the birds to feed on.  Animals are given their own Christmas in Finland, with farmers sometimes hanging a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked at by the birds. Nuts and pieces of suet are also hung on trees in bags from the branches.Spruce trees are cut or bought from a market and taken to homes on or a few days before Christmas Eve and are decorated.  Christmas gifts are usually exchanged after Christmas Eve dinner. Children do not hang up stockings in Finland but Joulupukki visits the household, maybe with a tonttu to help him distribute the presents.

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(DYK): In Romania Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December to 7th January. The 20th is when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day. It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day. The meat from the pig is used in the Christmas meals., on December 24th, there is a Christmas candle burning until the morning of December 25th. The singing of carols is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivities. On the first day of Christmas, many carolers walk through the streets of the towns and villages, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible. Romanian tradition has the smallest children going from house to house, singing carols and reciting poems and legends during the whole Christmas season. The leader of the group carries with him a star made of wood, covered with metal foil and decorated with bells and coloured ribbons. An image of the Nativity is painted on the star’s centre, and this piece of handiwork is attached to the end of a broom or other long stick.

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(DYK): In Lebanon, over 30 percent of the population follows Christianity, and Christmas is an anticipated affair every year. People decorate their houses and malls with Nativity Cribs and also attend Midnight Mass across various churches in Lebanon. People celebrate Christmas Eve by lighting firecrackers, ringing church bells, and shooting guns off into the air (for similar customs, see shooting in Christmas. Many attend special religious services, such as Midnight Mass. Some churches also hold special concerts featuring Christmas carols on this evening. On the morning of the festival, families get together and meet up for a brunch or lunch. Common elements present at the feasting table are coffee liquor, traditional coffee, mezze platters, sugared nuts and dates are kept on the table as a part of the Christmas feast. Before the meal commences, the young and old sit at the table, join hands and chant a small prayer for the Lord’s wellbeing before beginning to eat.

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(DYK): In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents.Christmas is merely commercial significance in Japan. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day. It is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance! The traditional Japanese christmas food is christmas cake, but it’s not a rich fruit cake, but is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream. Parties are often held for children, with games and dancing. Japanese Christmas Cake is a sponge cake decorated with trees, flowers and a figure of Santa Claus.This festival represents Saint Nicholas and it is an opportunity to offer gifts to small children.  Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th.

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(DYK): In Belgium there are two main languages, Flemish and Walloon (a version of French). The two languages are spoken in different regions of the country. In Flemish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Vrolijk Kerstfeest’ and in Walloon ‘djoyeus Noyé’.  Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages. On Christmas Eve (‘Kerstavond’ in Flemish and ‘le réveillion de Noël’ in Walloon), a special meal is eaten by most families. It starts with a drink (apéritif) and ‘nibbles’, followed by a ‘starter’ course such as sea-food, and then stuffed turkey. The dessert is ‘Kerststronk’ (Flemish) or ‘la bûche de Noël’ (Walloon) a chocolate Christmas Log made of sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate butter cream and made to resemble a bark-covered log. Small family Christmas presents are also given at Christmas too, under the tree, or in stockings near the fire-place, to be found in the morning or opened on Christmas Eve.  The traditional Christmas breakfast is the same as the normal Sunday breakfast eaten throughout the year. This is freshly baked crusty rolls (bakeries do their best trade on Sundays in the Flanders region) with butter & cold meats and/or jam, followed by pastries (like Danish pastries) called “koffiekoek(en)” (meaning coffee cake(s) as they are normal eaten with a cup of coffee!). In Walloon districts (the south of Belgium), a special sweet bread called ‘cougnou’ or ‘cougnolle’ made in a shape that is supposed to be like baby Jesus is eaten for Christmas breakfast.

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(DYK): In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th.   Mexican Christmas festivities start on December 12, with the feast of La Guadalupana (Virgin of Guadalupe), and end on January 6, with the Epiphany. Mexico’s Christmas traditions are based on Mexico’s form of Roman Catholicism and popular culture traditions also called Las Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for a room in an Inn. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns.  Since the 1990s, Mexican society has embraced a new concept linking several celebrations around Christmas season into what is known as the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.  At midnight on Christmas, many families place the figure of baby Jesus in their nacimientos (Nativity scenes), as the symbolic representation of Christmas as a whole. In the center and south of Mexico, children receive gifts on Christmas Eve and on 6 January, they celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, when, according to tradition, the Three Wise Men (3 Wizard Kings) brought gifts to Bethlehem for Jesus Christ. Santa Claus (or Santo Clos, as he’s known in Mexico[38]) is who brings the children their gifts, but traditionally the Three Wise Men will fill the children’s shoes with candies, oranges, tangerines, nuts, and sugar cane, and sometimes money or gold. For the Three Wise Men gave Baby Jesus Gold for his future.

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(DYK): In the Czech Republic Christmas Eve (24 December) is celebrated as Štědrý den, which means “Generous Day”, when the gifts are given in the evening. The 25 and 26 December are Public holidays in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, but Vánoce (Christmas), is most commonly associated with the 24th.  According to tradition, gifts are brought by Ježíšek, or “baby Jesus”. Fish soup and breaded roasted carp with special homemade potato salad are a traditional dish for the dinner. The gifts are surreptitiously placed under the Christmas tree (usually a spruce or pine), usually just before or during dinner. Children have to wait for the ringing of a Christmas bell (one of the decorations on the Christmas tree) – the sign that Ježíšek (little Jesus) has just passed by – to run for the presents. That happens at the end of their Christmas dinner. There is a rich tradition of hard baked Christmas sweets (Cukroví).  Other Czech and Slovak Christmas traditions involve predictions for the future. Apples are always cut crosswise: if a perfect star appears in the core, the next year will be successful, distorted star means a bad year or illness, while a cross may suggest death. Girls throw shoes over their shoulders – if the toe points to the door, the girl will get married soon. Another tradition requires pouring some molten lead into water and guessing a message from its shapes.

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(DYK): In Bulgaria, Christmas (Bulgarian: Коледа, Koleda or more formally Рождество Христово, Rozhdestvo Hristovo, “Nativity of Jesus”) is celebrated on 25 December and is preceded by Christmas Eve (Бъдни вечер, Badni vecher). Traditionally, Christmas Eve would be the climax of the Nativity Fast, and thus only an odd number of lenten dishes are presented on that evening. On that day, a Bulgarian budnik is set alight. On Christmas, however, meat dishes are already allowed and are typically served.  Among the Bulgarian Christmas traditions is koleduvane, which involves boy carolers (коледари, koledari) visiting the neighbouring houses starting at midnight on Christmas Eve, wishing health, wealth and happiness a. Another custom is the baking of a traditional round loaf (пита, pita). The pita is broken into pieces by the head of the family and a piece is given to each family member, a valuable possession, and a piece for God. A coin is hidden inside the pita and whoever gets the coin, he or she will have the luck, health and prosperity in the coming year.

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(DYK): In Ireland it is extremely popular on Christmas Eve to go for “the Christmas drink” in the local pub, where regular punters are usually offered a Christmas drink. Many neighbours and friends attend each other’s houses for Christmas drinks and parties on the days leading up to and after Christmas Day. Santa Claus, often known in Ireland simply as Santy or Daidí na Nollag in Irish, brings presents to children in Ireland, which are opened on Christmas morning. Family and friends also give each other gifts at Christmas. The traditional Christmas dinner consists of turkey or goose and ham with a selection of vegetables and a variety of potatoes, as potatoes still act as a staple food in Ireland despite the popularisation of staples such as rice and pasta. Dessert is a very rich selection of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, and mince pies with equally rich sauces such as brandy butter. Christmas celebrations in Ireland finish with the celebration of Little Christmas also known as Oíche Nollaig na mBan in Irish on 6 January. This festival, which coincides with Epiphany, is also known as Women’s Christmas in Cork & Kerry.

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(DYK): St. Nicholas also visits Hungary on the 6th December. In Hungary he is known as ‘Mikulás’. Children leave out shoes or boots on a windowsill to be filled with goodies! Presents might also be brought by Télapó (Old Man Winter).In Hungary, celebrations begin with Christmas tree decoration and gift packaging during daytime on 24 December, then comes a family dinner with traditional Christmas meals. The day is otherwise a fast-day. In the evening (Christmas Eve, in Hungarian: Szenteste) the Angel or the Little (Baby) Jesus (Hungarian: Kisjézus or Jézuska) delivers the presents.  In some parts of Hungary, a traditional supper called fish soup halászlé is served at Christmas Eve meal, although it is also consumed at other times of the year.  The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called ‘Beigli’.  In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. The Midnight Mass service is very popular in Hungary. Most people go to Church after their Christmas meal.People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree (without the children there), so when children come in and see the tree, it’s a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them!  On Christmas Day people visit their families.

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(DYK):  In Lithuania Christmas Eve (Kūčios) is a more important day than Christmas Day. Kūčios is also the name of the big Christmas Eve meal which families have together during the evening of Christmas Eve. Kūčios is also the last day of Advent, so it is important and special. But before the meal can be eaten, lots of preparations have to take place. The whole house is cleaned, the bedding is changed and everyone washes and puts on clean clothes ready for the meal. Many Lithuanians used to go to the bathhouse to be cleaned before the meal. Some people thought being clean helped to protect them from evil or diseases during the coming year. During Christmas Eve, working men would put away their tools and clean the cattle pens and farmyard, etc.   Stra is a traditional decoration. Is it normally spread on the table top and then covered with a clean, white tablecloth. The table is then decorated with candles and small branches or twigs from a fir tree. The straw reminds people of the baby Jesus lying in a manger. A superstition says that if you pull a piece of straw from under the tablecloth and it’s long, you will have a long life; but if it’s short you will have a short life; and a thick straw means a rich and happy life!

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(DYK):  In Denmark most people go to a Church Service on Christmas Eve about 4.00pm to hear the Christmas Story. When they get home the main Christmas meal is eaten between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. It’s served on a beautifully decorated table. Most people, after dinner, dance around the Christmas Tree before they open their presents.  Most families have a ‘ris á la mande’ (a special kind of rice pudding, made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present. On Christmas day people meet with their family and have a big lunch together with danish open-faced sandwiches on rye-bread. In Denmark, children believe that their presents are brought by the ‘Julemanden’ (which means ‘Christmas Man’). He looks very similar to Santa Claus and also travels with a sleigh and reindeer.  He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding and is helped by ‘nisser’ which are like elves.  Christmas Parties are held from 1st November to 24th December where a good time is has by all.

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(DYK): In Kenya, as in most of Africa, Christmas is celebrated in the traditional style on December 25, and this is a holiday along with December 26. The Kenyans call Christmas ‘Krismasi’ and decorating churches, stores and homes is a highlight along with shopping and gift exchanges. The religious part of Christmas is stronger in Kenya, most people go to church this day. The churches are decorated so, the most used decorations in the country are flower, green plants and balloons. Of course there aren’t too much pine trees in the country, so there aren’t so much Christmas trees, and these some are fake (from plastic) of course. Even where you can see a plastic tree, you will see a few plastic snow too. Houses are decorated with flowers and green plants just like the churches. After going to church, the second important is to have a big dinner with family and friends, roasted goat meat must be eaten this evening. And giving gifts is just the third in Kenya On Christmas Eve there are carolings and church services and children visit homes to perform and are given gifts of goodies or money. The traditional Christmas dinner consist of pilau, puddings and cakes. Look here for more information: http://travel.mapsofworld.com/kenya/christmas-in-kenya.html

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(DYK) In China Christmas Day is not a holiday, Christmas is celebrated in Chinese cities. This festival was imported into this country by foreign missionaries. For the Chinese people who celebrate it, Christmas is a religious event.  A tradition that’s becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called ‘Ping An Ye’ (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping Guo’ which sounds similar.One a few people have a Christmas Tree (or celebrate Christmas at all!). If people do have a tree it is normally a plastic one and might be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns (they might also call it a tree of light). The Christmas Trees that most people would see would be in shopping malls!

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(DYK): In Wales Christmas is celebrated over a twelve day time period (the twelve days of Christmas). Some of the celebrations were religious and others were secular. Before Christmas the tradition was to decorate homes with fresh mistletoe and holly; mistletoe to protect the home from evil and holly as a symbol of eternal life.   The custom in many parts of Wales was to attend a very early church service known as “Plygain” (daybreak), between 3am. and 6am. Men gathered in rural churches to sing, mainly unaccompanied, three or four part harmony carols in a service that went on for three hours or so. The custom managed to survive in many country areas, and because of its simplicity and beauty is being revived in many others. This is also the time of wassailing. A huge bowl would be filled with hot apple cider, mulled wine, spices, beaten egg whites, sliced apples, oranges and currents. To the greeting, “Good Wassail” A mug of Wassail is served to all who enters the house during this time. It is considered bad luck to refuse a mug of wassail.

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(DYK): The Christmas in Belarus is celebrated actually twice since it’s a Catholic country, on the 25th of December and on the 7th of January respectively. Christmas in Belarus is in the middle of winter and therefore the people of Belarus have a traditional white Christmas. Christmas in Belarus has been celebrated in their traditional ways since immemorial times. Christmas tree is decorated in a traditional manner and the various ornaments are gorgeous. Some of them are even hand crafted. Minsk is beautifully adorned with various Christmas lights and other ornaments. There are innumerable Christmas trees with red five-armed stars at the top decorated the streets named after the political leaders. Christmas gift giving is not common. During Christmas festive season in Belarus there are elaborate feasts where boiled rice is taken with raisins and honey, several pies as well as gammon and a goose. Along with these, dishes are also made out of mushrooms; the herring, vereschaka, boiled fruits, oats kissel are the other traditional items in the Christmas feast and to make it more taster nuts and raisins mixed are added to the several dishes. Christmas in Belarus today, is quite an elaborate affair. Kaliady is a pagan festival celebrated at the end of the year. People dress as animals and other beasts carrying the sun and the goat’s head in their hands,  The master of the house visited during Kalyadavanne is supposed to treat the group with sausage, snacks, and sweets.  But today, Christmas in Belarus has come back to stay as many young adults are finding solace in Orthodoxy, Catholic and Protestant belief.

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(DYK):  In Finland, Christmas is celebrated from 24th to 26th December. It is a major festival of the country and people celebrate it on a grand scale. As per the Finnish people, Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi (Lapland), located in the north part of the country. Talking about other Christmas traditions in Finland, they begin much before the actual date of the festival. First Advent i.e. the first Sunday in December marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  The day before Christmas, people clean their homes and prepare special dishes for the festival. They cut the fir trees and take it to home, by sleds. They decorate the fir beautifully, using several decorative ornaments. Finnish people have a tradition of tying a sheaf of grain, seeds and nut on the pole. These things are placed in the garden, for the birds to feed on them.  They also lit candles on the Christmas tree and decorate it with paper flags, tinsel, fruits and candies. On the Christmas Eve i.e. 24th December, Finish people prepare a sumptuous meal. Their main traditional dish for the day is boiled codfish, served snowy white and fluffy. They also have roasted fresh ham and vegetables and roast suckling pig. Some of their other special dishes are kinkku (ham), riisipuuro (rice pudding), piparkakut (ginger bread cookies), kalja (Christmas brew), joulupulla (braided sweet white braid), porkkanalaatikko (carrot casserole), lantuulaatikko (rutabaga casserole) and joulutortut (pastry with cooked prunes).Another popular tradition associated with Finnish Christmas celebrations is the singing of Christmas hymns. People exchange gifts and cards on the festival and wish each other by saying ‘Hyvaa Joulua’, meaning Merry Christmas.

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(DYK): In the Ukraine the central tradition of the beautiful Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.  In the Ukraine, Father Frost visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer. He brings along a little girl named Snowflake Girl. She wears a silver blue costume trimmed with white fur and a crown shaped like a snowflake.  An interesting aspect of Christmas in Ukraine is the bringing of a wheat sheaf into the house as a reminder of ancestors and the long tradition of agriculture in Ukraine. The sheaf is called a didukh. Those who are familiar with Ukrainian culture will understand the importance of grain to Ukraine – even the Ukrainian flag, with its blue and yellow colors, represents golden grain under a blue sky. Christmas is a joyous day which opens for Ukrainian families with attendance at Church. Ukrainian Churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19th, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date.

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(DYK): In Italy, Natale lasts three days, from December 24th till 26th. However, Natale traditions vary from one region to another one and, depending on the region it is Babo Natale (Father Christmas) or the “Gesu Bambino” (Little Jesus) who brings gifts on December 25th. The Italian Christmas dessert is “Panettone”. Having cribs in your own home became popular in the 16th century and it’s still popular today (before that only churches and monasteries had cribs). Cribs are traditionally put out on the 8th December. But the figure of the baby Jesus isn’t put into the crib until the evening/night of December 24th! One old Italian custom is that children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherds pipes, wearing shepherds sandals and hats. Christmas lasts from Dec.16th- Jan. 6th. People do all kinds of things. At first they have a cannon fired in Rome from the Castle of Saint Angelo. They have a large ornamental bowl which is filled with wrapped gifts, and when the families get together they take turn getting a gift until there is none left.

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(DYK): In Guatemala, Most Guatemalans, like other Latin-American counties, plan and build, with the entire family, a Nativity Scene called a “Nacimiento” or “Belen”. Although it is originally a Spanish tradition, many indigenous (Guatemalan) elements are now used in the design and construction of the Nativity scenes. The “Nacimiento” is normally put under the Christmas Tree. One unique characteristic of Guatemalan Nativity scenes is the use of sawdust dyed in many bright colors.On Christmas Eve families celebrate together and eat the main Christmas meal. It is made of several traditional dishes, but it always includes some Guatemalan tamales. In some regions they are made of corn and other of rice or potatoes. They can be sweet or not, and have several different ingredients inside like olives, prunes, peppers, chicken or pork.  Everyone waits until midnight to light hundreds of fireworks or firecrackers to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A family prayer is said around the tree and it is the custom to open the presents shortly after midnight.

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(DYK): Weinhachten in Germany lasts two days. On December 26th they visit their family and their friends. Christ-Kind offers gifts to the children on December 24th families and friends. In some parts of Germany, children write to the ‘Christkind’ (‘The Christ Child’ in English) asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent.Germany has also a Saint Nicholas festival on December 6th.  Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families.  Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents on December 24th. December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening. In some regions of Germany, there is a character called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus” who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December.

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(DYK):  In South Korea, although  Christians today comprise only around 25% of its population, South Korea  recognizes Christmas as a public holiday.  Korean non-Christians who otherwise  go about their daily routine on December 25 may engage in some holiday  customs such as gift-giving, sending Christmas cards, and setting up  decorated trees in their homes; children, especially, appear to have  embraced Santa Claus, whom they call Santa Grandfather. The Christmas carols are the same as those in the United States, only that  they are sung in Korean.  Local dishes such as ddeok guk (rice-cake soup),  bulgogi (barbecued beef), naeng myeon (clear noodles made from  sweet potatoes or green mung beans), and the ever-popular gimchi (spicy pickled Chinese  cabbage) may be served for Christmas dinner along with fruit and assorted  sweets.  Korean Christians celebrate Christmas similar to the way it’s celebrated in the West, but since it’s primarily a religious holiday in Korea, there is considerably less fanfare and presents. Some families do put up Christmas trees, people exchange presents, and stores do put up holiday decorations, but the festivities start much closer to Christmas day. Grandpa Santa is popular with kids in Korea (Santa Harabujee) and he wears either a red or blue santa suit. Kids know him as a happy grandfather figure who gives out presents, and stores employ Santas to greet shoppers and hand out chocolate and candies. People in Korea usually exchange presents on Christmas Eve and instead of piles of presents, one present (or a gift of money) is customary All in all,  there is definitely a strong American influence behind the Korean celebration  of Christmas.

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(DYK)) In Egypt, most Egyptians today are Muslims therefore they do not celebrate Christmas as such although they do commemorate the birth of Jesus, but they celebrate the festivals Eid – ul – Fitr and Eid – Ul – Adha.  On Christmas Eve, Egyptians go to church wearing new clothes and Mass goes on until midnight. Bells are rung to mark the end of the service and people go home after they receive the special bread called ‘qurban’ (meaning sacrifice) at the end of the service. This bread has a Holy Cross in the middle and 12 dots to represent the 12 apostles.  Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday, especially for the Christians. Since Christians believe that Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt for fear of Herod’s plan, the Coptic churches are decorated with candles and lamps on Christmas to remind the Coptic Christians of when Joseph lit candles to keep Mary warm during the birth of Jesus.  Then they eat a special Christmas meal at home called ‘Fata’. This meal uses bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat as its main constituents. In the morning, people visit their friends and neighbors and exchange ‘kaik’ (a type of shortbread) that is eaten with a drink called ‘shortbat’.

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(DYK): In Iceland, there are lots of customs and traditions about Yule in Iceland. The Yule season consists of the following traditions.  In Iceland there are 13 santa clauses called the Jule Lads: Stekkjastaur, Giljagaur, Stúfur, Þvörusleikir, Pottasleikir, Askasleikir, Hurðaskellir, Skyrgámur, Bjúgnakrækir, Gluggagægir, Gáttaþefur, Ketkrókur and Kertasníkir. So Icelandic kids get 13 little presents. One other big Yule custom is the coming of the ‘Jólasveinarnir’ or Yuletide Lads. These are magical people who come from the mountains in Iceland and each day from December 12th to Yule Eve a different Jólasveinn (Yuletide lad) comes. Jólasveinar first came to Iceland in the 17th century as the sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, a couple of child-eating, bloodthirsty ogres!  The Jólasveinar are thought of as playful imps or elves who like lots to eat and playing little tricks on people. They leave little presents for children in shoes placed on the windowsill. If children have been naughty, they might leave a potato or little message telling them to be good. They start going home on Christmas Day, with the last one leaving on Þrettándinn. Presents might also be brought by Jólasveinn (Yule Man). Finally, Icelanders open their Christmas presents on the 24’th not the 25’th.

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(DYK) In the United States, the traditional Christmas tree is held in high regard. It is beautifully bejeweled with Christmas ornaments, candies and a star tree topper that corresponds to the star of Bethlehem. The other things that are used in the Christmas decorations are sprigs of holly and mistletoe, Christmas lights and Santa idols. There is also an exchange of gifts and chocolates between people on this occasion. An exclusive Christmas Day parades with colorful display of bands and dancers makes Christmas special in the country. The carols and are also an inevitable part of the celebrations.  Also, there are several traditions that are uniformly followed by all the Americans. These comprise of the traditional Christmas tree, Santa Claus with this reindeers, Christmas cards, Yule log, and mistletoe.  Christmas is a widely celebrated festive holiday in the United States. The Christmas and holiday season begins around the end of November with a major shopping kickoff on Black Friday, the day after the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, though Christmas decorations and music playing in stores sometimes extend into the period between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many schools and businesses are closed during the period between Christmas and the New Year’s Day holiday, which is a time commonly used to spend time with family, return unwanted gifts at stores, and shop after-Christmas sales. Most decorations are taken down by New Years or Epiphany. Other observances considered part of the season (and potentially included in non-denominational holiday greetings like “Happy Holidays”) include Hanukkah, Yule, Epiphany, Kwanzaa, and winter solstice celebrations. No matter what country, nationality, tribe or kinship the holidays is wonderful for family, friends and mere acquaintances.  My childhood memories about the holidays are warm and happy.  I remember bumbling into the family room Christmas morning with a big smile, yelps, and laughter.  Below is a decorated tree, not as grand as by the Museum of Science and Industry; but just as lovely!

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I KNEW THAT IT WAS OFFICIALLY THE CHRISTMAS SEASON ONCE WE AS A FAMILY WATCHED THE FAMILY CLASSIC STORY TIMEMeet me in St. Louis” with Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien.

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in sweet home Chicago…en blanc…

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Shhh…Le Dîner en Blanc  is a secret…no, not cloak and dagger, just an elegant affair for the “invited”.  How does one get that coveted invite?  Well, get the 411 from an actual member, me the Pilot.  Sit into the Co-Pilot seat next to mine and enjoy the Dinner of the year.  I like everyone else, enjoys a good meal; but Dîner en Blanc is more than a “good” meal, it is the eleganza extravaganza of dining!

About a year ago, after viewing the television program, Top Chef Masters I saw a segment in which the contestants had to prepare a 3 course meal for a dinner party of thousands at an undisclosed secret location.  The event was entitled “Dîner en Blanc”.  It seemed quite wonderful; an event that the invitees came dressed to impress in their “best whites”.  After a bit of research I was able to learn that it was a concept which began in France, of course, one of the cradle-rocks of extravagant elegance.  Last year I published a blog post about Dîner en Blanc, this year I am publishing another post…but this time as an attendee, as opposed to a researcher of classy fashionable events.   This year will be Dîner en Blanc’s 25th anniversary! , It now has events in more than 40 cities, in 15 different countries, across 5 continents.  Reportedly, it hosts the event for over 10,000 members…not invitees, remember each member is asked to invite at least one guest…Wow that is a lot of white or should we say blanc!

Now a little of the history, how did it all begin…well I will type it verbatim, because it is quite an enchanting story:

Dîner en Blanc began by Frenchman François Pasquier, it began as a friends and family affair and later blossomed to an extravagant event.  “in the summer of 1988, Pasquier had just returned to Paris after a few years abroad and held a dinner party to reconnect with friends.  So many wished to attend that he asked them to convene at Bois de Boulogne  dressed in white, so as to be recognizable to one another. Each attendee was also asked to bring a friend. The evening was such a hit that guests wanted more friends to join-in the following year and thus was born the concept of Dîner en Blanc (chicagodinerenblanc.info)

FYIBois de Boulogne is a former hunting ground for the Kings of France, the Bois de Boulogne has become the largest spot for relaxation in the West of Paris.

Pictured on the left:  François Pasquier………………..pictured on the right:  Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi

“Later, following in father’s footsteps, Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi then came together to create Dîner en Bland International, a Dîner en Blanc® organization that would promote the history and philosophy of this event through hosts worldwide, and create an international network of diners and Dîner en Blanc® enthusiasts.  Through the technology (facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) the event may have changed over the years; but the principles fuelling this fantastic event have not; diners continue to gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a high-quality meal with good friends at the heart of one of the city’s most beautiful locations (dinerenblanc.info).

 I decided I want to learn even more; so I researched it further online and signed-up “tout de suite” ( French for “right away”) to be on the waiting list to attend the next event in Chicago.  If you like to attend the next Diner en Blanc with me, whether or not you live or like to visit the beautiful city of Chicago, visit www.dinerenblanc.info, find the country of your choice and use the drop down box linked to your country to select the city of your choice…select “Chicago” and come to visit me, the Pilot:)

Registration to Le Dîner en Blanc ® takes place in 3 phases:

  1. Phase 1: Dîner en Blanc ® members from previous years, and close friends of the organization
  2. Phase 2: Friends recommended during the Phase 1 registration process
  3. Phase 3: Guests who have signed up to the waiting list.

By signing up to this waiting list, you will receive an invitation to register in Phase 3.

In phase 2 and 3:
  • The number of places is limited, and take place on a “first come, first served” basis.
  • Invitations will be sent out
  • ’48 hours” prior to the opening of each particular registration phase.

Chicago’s event was just as beautiful, but to prepare for it we had a lot of work to do…to do it just “right”, or should I write do it just “white”.  First, we had to acquire all of the required accoutrements (personal clothing and accessories) for Dîner en Blanc.

First was “the dress”…

not what I wore, but next year you will catch the Pilot in the one on the left…it is so cute I could do a Arabesque, Pirouette, Releve`,  Frappe`, Grand Plie  (classic ballet moves)!

FYI: When you begin learning the steps and poses of ballet, you will realize that most of them have French names. King Louis XIV of France started the first ballet school, the Royal Academy of Dance, in 1661. Most of the French terms have been carried throughout the years.

A few of the ladies can even can rock a more modern twist to white/blanc “outfits”…just keep it chic, tasteful and elegant at all times.

semi-formal  but fully cool…………………..dashing formal attire …………………….chill causal look

men can be in their “dressed white attire” as well…well, why not, a white “affair” takes more than one it takes two to make an affair complete.

Second cause a little foot traffic with your foot wear.

You will be a “shoe-in” to be invited back if your wardrobe is elegant, so take the time to  select the perfect outfit!

TIP: bring two pairs, one for what could possible be a long walk to the secret location, the other white shoes is when you are there and ready to strut in white!

 Crazy-selling White Color SHOES Wedding Dress shoe Women's Shoes High-Heels shoes Ladies Party shoes

FYI: the pair on your right is priced at $22.73 at goodhappy (dhgate.com),the TOMS crochet espadrilles approximately $70.00 but remember the Toms “With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.  ®”  you can purchase the  (farfetch.com).

Never forget the topper or chapeau (French for hat) or if you are very adventurous transform yourself into Marie Antoinette…didn’t she have a “French Connection” lol!   Next  Dîner en Blanc I plan to wear a fascinator, a fascinator is usually bigger than a barrette, modern fascinators are commonly made with feathers, flowers or beads. They need to be attached to the hair by a comb, headband or clip. The fun, fanciful decoration is often embellished with crystals, beads, or loops of ribbon, and attaches via a comb or headband; some have a small, stiff, flat base that can be secured with bobby pins. They are particularly popular at premium horse-racing events and of course at an elegant extravagant events, such as Le Dîner en Blanc . 

FYI: Marie Antoinette became Dauphine of France. Marie Antoinette assumed the title of Queen of France and of Navarre when her husband, Louis XVI of France ascended the throne upon the death of Louis XV in May 1774 (Wikipedia.org).

fascinate with a Fascinator…………..don on an ostentatious Hat…………wig everyone out with a Wig!

TIP: Fascinated with fascinators then visit ebay.com and toggle through an array of fascinators now, so that it will arrive on time before your next event (unlike my fascinator which arrived a day late; although I paid to have it arrive one-day-air, 3 days before the event)…lesson learned).

After you have your wardrobe prepared, now you can focus about your meal…the dîner.  You can purchase a meal through the official website of Le Dîner en Blanc, and click onto their online store and purchase a meal or you can prepare, yes, cook your own a day prior to the event…remember you will know of the “event” 48 hours before-not of the “location’; but the date and time of the event itself…so be sure that you have saved the contact information so that your “spam box” or “junk box”, is not concealing your invitation in the spam folder.  Do not let Spam treat your dinner of the year like “junk”…that would definitely be “malchance” (French for misfortune).  Remember you need to pack a Table, Chairs (preferably white/blanc, along with the other paraphernalia.  For example as in my September 16th post there are rules you must abide to, it may seem a bit restrictive; but rules were meant to keep the spirit alive of the vision of nuit d’amélioration, or in English,  Night of Enchantment of a true Le Dîner en Blanc!

 I got these rule verbatim from their website so if you do not believe me visit it for yourself…I encourage you to…

1.  Seats are allotted on-site in a very specific manner.

2.  In order to participate, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the official websites’ waiting list.

3.  Once confirmed, the presence is mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as the event is held regardless of weather conditions.

4.  Colour of attire and table setting; white only.

5.  Table setting is symmetrical with men seated on one side and women on the other (Women also have priority on the better view).

6.  Participants arrive and depart at the same time by chartered bus or organized public transportation.

7.  Depart with one’s belongings, leftovers and trash, leaving the place as clean as it was upon arrival.

So, if you think you can adhere to the rules…then go to Neiman’s or another high end department store with elegant attire (I love ebay myself!).  Also, according to the website you must bring a few things…

1)   A table, two (blanc/white) chairs.

2)  A picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.

3)   Wine or Champagne , if allowed.  Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.

4)   Participants must wear white and be dressed elegantly.

Now, you know the rules, what to bring, what to wear, and

5)  Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.

If you are still in doubt…because after all, if you are blessed enough to eke out an invite, you are sure to have HAUTE FUN; then what should you N O T do in order to tag that invite next year.  Here are a few tips I was able to garner:

1. No t-shirts and sports tops

2. No Sports shoes, gym shoes, or caps (baseball-type)

3. Drink with moderation!!!

4. Bring a large white garbage bag for clean up…your place must be clean as it was upon arrival (lets keep Chicago beautiful).

sshhh…you will only know of the exact location of the event until just before it is scheduled to occur! (hush-hush).

NOTE: Since attendance is mandatory once you are invited…you may run the risk of no other invitation being extended if you do not attend …Therefore if  you are not able to attend GIVE THE INVITE TO SOMEONE ELSE INSTEAD lol lol the Pilot..they do however take  attendance meticulously (it is a well organized event).

The organizers of Diner en Blanc’s  main rule is that we should “recall the elegance and glamour of court society.”

FYI: elegance:  el•e•gance: quality and refinement.

FYI: glamour: glam•our: the quality of fascinating, alluring, or attracting, especially by a combination of charm and good looks.

Now you have the rules, the “do’s” and “do not’s”, now I will take you through the process.   After we received our invite we searched for the folding table (24′-30″) and 2 chairs we found a great set from Crate & Barrel (a bit pricey, but I plan to attend next year as well…maybe even in Paris!) , a white table cloth or white sheet (we saved money by purchasing a nice flat sheet from Target).  We delicately bubbled wrapped my mother’s antique crystal cut wine glasses.  We caught a phenomenal sale at Macy’s for the flat ware…remember no plastic allowed, our cloth napkins, all match perfectly with the white flat sheet we used as our table cloth, and we foraged and found in our cupboard a beautiful glass-cut center-piece, our flowers we brought sat charmingly inside…Garden Spray Roses are always a crowd-pleaser!

After gathering all of the  “requested/required”  components you should be getting increasingly excited; and may be getting a little apprehensive, and ask yourself…did I remember everythingwhat if I forgot something; do as the Pilot and crate a checklist!

Plan the three meals, as you would any meal; but this one make sure it is elegant and fabulous…check-out one of my older post on Progressive Dinners for great suggestions and menu ideas.

Appetizers or Starter, may I suggest something tasty and light…make enough to share with your neighboring tables…lets get the conversation started with the “starters”!

Seafood and Avocado / fruits de mer            Chicken/fruits de mer et d’avocat         Vegetarian crostini/vegetarian

Now prepare an Entrée or Main Course: Prepare something scrumptious and well seasoned to add spice into the night:)

From Top left Linguini with fresh herbs, Fennel Chicken & Risotto, or Spiced Lamb with mint Couscous to spice up Diner en Blanc.

Then never forget the well deserved Dessert or Last Course, whether it is a little or a lot, from just fresh fruits on skrewers to a fanciful Fruit Tart…go French it will go well with atmosphere (dj playing French music, jugglers and other performers  entertaining invitees) oh la la  très chic.

FYI:  très chic can translate to mean “very stylish”!

or try a Dessert on the LEFT: something a little more complex like a gluten-free dessert.  I learned that “If you suffer from acne, ADHD, autism, fibromyalgia, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid  arthritis, constipation, or even depression it may be recommended to follow a diet containing no gluten.   Research is also showing that patients who suffer from autism may benefit from a gluten free casein free diet (www.the-gluten-free-diet.com).”

Dessert on the RIGHT: something for Diabetics a Fruit Dessert Recipes www.diabeticlivingonline.com

Nonstick cooking spray

  • 2  eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups assorted fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and/or sliced strawberries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce individual Quiche dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk until light and frothy. Whisk in milk until combined. Add flour and baking powder; whisk until smooth.
  2. Divide berries among prepared Quiche dishes. Pour batter over berries. (Batter will not cover berries completely.) Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, sift powdered sugar over each serving. Makes 6 servings.
Diabetic Exchanges:
Serving Other Carb (d.e.): 1.5, Fruit (d.e.) 05

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

Servings Per Recipe: 6, pro.: (g) 5, carb.: (g) 26, Fat, total: (g) 2, sodium: (mg) 86, fiber: (g) 3, chol.: (mg) 71, cal.: (kcal) 141, sat. fat: (g) 1,

My sister and I ordered the on-line basket, and it was délicieux (French for delicious).  The organizers at Diner en Blanc made arrangements with LM Restaurant Group to provide French picnic baskets for two, which made it convenient for us to select our basket which we purchased, in advance from the online e-store for pick-up at the event (just that less to carry to our secret destination). We ordered a Monceau Basket offering Poulet (French for Chicken) and drank Welch Alcohol-free Sparkling Wine, white/blanc, of course which we got from our local grocery store Meier’s.

TIP: Be sure to use your “google-translate” to know just what meal you are purchasing on-line.  In our case, we have religious dietary restricts and do not consume swine/prok/pig.

FYI: Leviticus 11:7 7 “And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.”  8 “Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.”

Deuteronomy 14:8 8 “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.”

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What is next you ask, after meeting with our fellow invitees also dressed in whites in a designated place, bumbling onto public transportation (CTA), and making a bit of a stroll to the undeclared the secret location.  Then, as the good campers we were, we began to set-up our tables and chairs and then elegantly dressed them with all the flair of any grand event.  As we sat and ate our luxurious meals,  I took note that most tables were lavishly and ornately laid out.  Everyone was quite friendly and gushed at our table as we admired theirs as well, this added to the camaraderie of invitees in white, all part of the great secret.  As we sat back in our white chairs and regaled one another of how we learned of Le Dîner en Blanc: I knew I wanted to come again next year and invitee my closet friends.  I understood why I saw a sea of white clothing lifting their glasses in merriment, I then knew we were at a very special event.

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Below is an outline of the nights event which made for a wonderful  Le Dîner en Blanc

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My assigned group met at Union Station in the Grand Hall which is very grand indeed, it lived up to its name with the marbled floors, walls, and large columned entrance; it was very exciting as we heard the clicking of heels on the marble, as our group size quickly multiplied.

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…as we gathered our “intel” from our assigned Table Leader, the lovely Kim Nelson,  we were just as clueless, as we were at the beginning… however, I would challenge you that this intrigue, is part of  what makes Le Dîner en Blanc so alluring and provocative.  While in Union Station, I loved meeting my fellow invitees and sharing in their experience of as well of feeling apprehensively cautious  and eager simultaneously.

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Since I had not taken public transportation in ages, I had no idea of  the cost of a fare for an Adult…$2.25 (when paying cash).

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as we boarded the CTA Bus many of the invitee were quite helpful and aided those with carts mount the steep bus stairs.   It was fun finding seats on the bus, it reminded me of high school when you would jockey to sit next to your friend or sibling.   In the end, I was just happy to find a vacant seat without toppling over onto the floor or into another passenger (lol).

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As we marched down the streets of Chicago, we were stared at and questioned repeatedly by passer-by curious as to just who we are…I was frequently questioned, “are you in a wedding party, performing for an event, lost a bet…ha ha ha.  I answered all that asked, and eagerly gave them my cards with my website address…whenever they asked “how can I be invited, you guys look soooo nice?”

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 Fortunately, I brought my white sandals as well…because we did have a bit of a trek to our secret destination (…are we there yet? lol)

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Actually, I enjoyed the walk, it did allow me to appreciate just how beautiful Chicago is when the sun begins to set.  The cool breeze of the September evening was perfect for the event.

I must say that we were happy when we arrived at our destination and saw that we were surrounded by so many historical Chicago landmarks!

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The WGN Building, according to Robert L on Yelp, “The offices for the Chicago Tribune and the studios of WGN Radio are housed within the building. The front of the building has rocks cemented into the front from historic places all over the earth including the Great Wall of China. There is even a moon rock cemented in. Gothic style architecture and the history of this building make this another Chicago landmark.

“The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company. WGN Radio broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN’s Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District. (Wikipedia.org)”.

 The Monument to Jack Brickhouse,  which was “created by Jerry McKenna and sponsored by the American Brain Tumor Association, was dedicated on North Michigan Avenue just south of the Tribune Tower in 2000.  Etched on the bottom, in brass, is Brickhouse’s catch phrase: “Hey-Hey” (efreak78 on flickr).

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The biggest, brightest jewel in Chicago’s architectural crown belongs not to some glass and steel skyscraper, but to an historic office building with wedding cake flair and a clock tower. The Wrigley Building is actually two buildings joined by a 14th floor skywalk and a street-level arcade. Its gleaming white façade is an icon of the city, even when the quarter million terra cotta tiles are lit in different colors by banks of floodlights (chicagoarchitecture.info)

As, we finally arrived at our secret location, I agreed that Le Dîner en Blanc kept its promise to be prearranged at a beautiful location!…but no time to lollygag and being awed by the surroundings…setup must begin; afterall we did come to Dîner…en Blanc!

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as my sister elegantly arranged the table with our dinnerware, utensils, and decorations…I trotted off to pick up our meal; this was not a secret-we ordered the chicken!

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As we laid out our meals and popped our corks…we were being entertained as if we were visitors at  Château de Versailles court yards in France with jugglers,  clowns, and angels running around with ribbons as if she was a rhythmic gymnast.

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later we danced the night away with more familiar tunes…every one enjoyed dancing…perhaps it was the sparkling wine;)

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As we feast the night away we  enjoyed every morsel of our chef inspired meal…was it the long wait, the bus ride, or the long walk laden with our tables, chairs and other table settings.  I would say not, the meal was delicious and the company (both new and old friends) was delightful as well.

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As we were eating and drinking we decided to maneuver around all of those tables and meet more people, as we did I took my camera and take photos of the beautiful people and comment on their beautiful outfits.  On a separate note, do you know how difficult it is to find a “blanc” outfit after Labor Day.  I once heard someone say that wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux pas (French for a slip or blunder in etiquette) .

Since I love to research , I learned that there are several possible school of thought of why this apothegm was based on…

FYI:  Climatic Factor: The first logical reason is that white is a color to be worn in the summer. This is because it reflects sunlight. Dark colors absorb light and in turn make you feel hotter. This same theory can be reversed and can be applied to wearing white in winters. White absorbs the cold and makes you feel colder than what you’d feel in darker shades. So basically, darker shades provide more warmth in winters. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html

Symbolic Factor: Another explanation behind this rule could be symbolic in nature. After Labor Day, the Navy swaps its white uniforms for blue ones. Additionally, the affluent class wore white when they vacationed in the warmer regions during winters. Hence, white was considered the ‘color of leisure’. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html
Cleanliness Factor: White is one color that gets dirty very easily. Winters are usually wet and cold, therefore anything white can get very dirty and will take a lot of time to clean. This is definitely a logical reason, but logic doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with fashion every single time. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html

But I met a few ladies that looked white hot in their white/blanc, especially after labor day…take a look at the photos below!

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We met a great  and ever so sweet couple who were our table mates, we laughed and dined all night long.  The couple on the left, were so sweet to pose for me, a perfect stranger.  However, through the enchantment of Dîner en Blanc we are now better acquainted (lol).

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…with lights a glowing into the night we raised our napkins into the air…ahh that is why they specifically asked invitees to bring “cloth napkins”…and not paper (yes cloth made for a more dramatic exhibition when we twirled in the golden lit air!

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at the end of the evening came the long awaited traditions of “sparklers”…no it is not just for kids…

As the night waned away we danced into the night, not so much a star-filled night; but definitely bright white-filled one.

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Every thing sported their blanc  (so appropriately!

FYIThe Dog Days of Summer comes from the the Northern Hemisphere is a period from about July 3 – August 11th.  The name “Dog Days”  comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, was somehow responsible for the hot weather.  Sirius is the brightest star in the Canis Major (Big Dog) Constellation.  Sirius is the brightest star besides the Sun and rises and sets with the sun during the “Dog Days” period, so people believed that it helped contribute to warmer temperatures during this time.

Since I am not into any deity in control of the weather, other than God (who created the earth)., I thank Him for allowing me to be able to attend such a beautiful  event and meeting such beautiful people, and eating such appetizing food.

Also, Thank you to the Chicago Hosts,  James, Roger, Vivian, Lauren, Rebekah, Annette…great job or should I say “merci bons amis” (French: Thank you good friends).  Until we meet again!

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…AND ALL THAT JAZZ…CHICAGO STYLE!


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What is it about the music Jazz that makes it so silky smooth…is it the fact that horns and other musical instruments which are usually involved in its presentation makes for a cool look, swank feel, and chill atmosphere!   Jazz definitely does conjure up a specific aesthetic…the pure emotion of Jazz is soulful, passionate, and stirring.

FYI: Aesthetic:  “Pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality (www.dictionary.com)”.

I can remember my parents listening to Jazz when they immigrated to Chicago from Honduras, and thus I have always had a mild appreciation for the genre, although I related it to “my parents type of music…you know “old folk music” lol.  Also, I have always understood the importance of understanding and knowing the different types of music in the spectrum of music.  Like most of us, I took the compulsory class, Music Appreciation,  while in grammar school and was inculcated as to the “basic” categories.  Music comes in different styles and types, which can be sorted into classification of genres such as Classical, Rock and Roll,  R&B (Rhythm and Blues),  Gospel, Symphony, Hip-Hop, Country, Rap, Opera, Blue Grass, Pop (Popular), Jazz, Blues, Reggae,  Latin, and Alternative.

Further these various categories of music, for example just the genre of  Jazz, have numerous sub-categories:

◾Avant-Garde Jazz

◾Big Band

◾Contemporary Jazz

◾Cool

◾Crossover Jazz

◾Dixieland

◾Fusion

◾Hard Bop

◾Latin Jazz

◾Mainstream Jazz

◾Ragtime

◾Smooth Jazz

◾Traditional Jazz (www.musicgenrelist.com)

Is there an equally  beautiful and cosmopolitan place to listen to Jazz than downtown Chicago…which incidentally has a historical connection with Jazz?  I will let you be the judge…

CROWN FOUNTAIN                                                                                 CLOUD GATE

I was able to visit Millennium Park, one of the many venues of this years  Jazz Festival;  as one takes in all that is Chicago you can easily appreciate the beauty and  innovation of its landmarks.   Later listening to the beauty and innovation of Jazz seems quite apropos!

I was able to stroll by the Crown Fountain, which is an interactive video sculpture.  I later learned it was designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa  and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects.  Initially, the art seemed a bit strange to me; so after a bit of research I learned that the fountain is quite complex, it is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall, and they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces, it intermittently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower’s front face.  Basically, it reminded me of the time when you were a child and you would try shooting water out of your pursed mouth as you drank freely from the garden hose out back  (lol).

Another one of the features of Millennium Park is the Cloud Gate, a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor,. it is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park; the sculpture is nicknamed “The Bean” because of its bean-like shape. I learned that it is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, and its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. (www.wikipedia.org)….”  WOW talk about visual art!  But I remembered I cam for the audio art as well.

I could hear music coming from the Pavilion, so I quickly made it over to the Press Check-in and picked up my press credential.  As I headed over to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is a bandshell, at the center of Millennium Park, I was awed at its architecture.  I learned that it had a  seating for 4,000 and additional lawn seating of 7,000!…and these seats were steadily being filled.  So with little time to waste I made it to the Press area and ready my cameras for a night of entertainment.

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After a bit of research it was written that the building was designed by architect Frank Gehry, it was interesting to learn that the performance venue was designed with a large fixed seating area, a Great Lawn, a trellis network to support the sound system and a signature Gehry stainless steel headdress. It features a sound system with an acoustic design that replicates an indoor concert hall sound experience. The pavilion and Millennium Park have received recognition by critics, particularly for their accessibility; an accessibility award ceremony held at the pavilion in 2005 described it as “one of the most accessible parks – not just in the United States but possibly the world (wikipedia.org) “! It is little wonder why this is the site for so many performances and cultural events in Chicago!!!

After attending the Chicago Jazz Festival 2013,  I fell in love with all types of Jazz with its variant influences.  I felt honored to attend the performances of JIMMY HEATH QUARTET with JEB PATTON, pictured just below.

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This music seemed foreign, but as I noticed men, women, and children swinging to the beat, I sat back to concentrate on the music itself…then I understood the appreciation,  As they played their instruments I could see and hear the skillfulness of the musicians.  Upon close observation I saw how  they looked at one another, as though they had a mental connection, and were being fueled from the others’ performance!

Next on stage was THE ROBERT GLASPER QUARTET…talk about super cool and chill tunes,

Robert Glasper Quartet’s performances were wonderful, and carried with them an unselfishness which seems to be important in music, especially Jazz.  I saw the visual clues (head nods, eye stares, and other expressive gestures) amongst  members of the group, who could  only understand its interpretation….it was like the game of baseball; when the Catcher is signaling to the Pitcher, the Pitcher then nods and throws.  These talented musicians also had their own silent language, and were gratuitous in the transition from their individual performances to that of their Jazz brethren.  Robert Glasper himself,  paused during his performance  to explain just how Jazz can also transition to other more modern genres…such as “Rap”, with a heavy Jazz impact.   Fortunately, we were surprised with a performance from Lupe Fiasco….

The fusion of Jazz and Rap seems to lend itself into a combustion of explosively  charged improvisational poetry!

FYI: Poetry: The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.

As, the applause gradually increased to a crescendo of thunderous clapping the audience was told of the accomplishment of all of the members of the group.  As we listened intently, I saw the staggers quickly began setting up for the next performer.  I gathered that the next group featured a drummer as the premiere lead performer;  as an elaborate drum set was at center stage!  It was then announced that the Artist -in-Residence was to take the stage next.

FYI:  Artist-in-Residence:  In which it is allowed an individual to explore his/her practice within another community; meeting new people, using new materials, experiencing life in a new location. Art residencies emphasize the importance of meaningful and multilayered cultural exchange and immersion into another culture.

Hamid Drake type of Jazz has a distinctive Reggae application.

Percussionist Hamid Drake as the artist-in-residence, lived up to the cultural influence needed in any great performance.  As he rhythmically pounced on his drums, one could wonder he if was influencing the accompanying music being played, or if the music was influencing him as he caught each beat.  There is little wonder how he used his beats to ensnare us all into his type of Jazz with its reggae influence  (all pun intended)..lol

FYI:  Reggae is said to have a West Indian origin and is a type of culture music with a four beats to the bar, the upbeat being strongly accented.

Lastly,  onto the stage came the Jazz Festivals’ headliner for that day,  jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison affectionately called–“Cool Breeze” (we later learned that this nickname was given to him by Lena Horne).  What he does on a saxophone, is nothing short of magical!  I was mesmerized as his fingers nimbly glazed against the keys of his brightly shined saxophone;  with the back-drop of his white suit, the golden horn glistened into the night. as it told stories of the history of Jazz….yes that horn spoke as well as sang to us all!

FYI:  Headliner:  A performer whose name appears most prominently in a program or advertisement or on a marquee; star (dictionary.com).

Donald Harrison surely lived up to his reputation and gave us quite the show.  I was impressed with his ability to “blow” for an extreme long period of time; and then strutted from one instrument to the other with ease  – yeah hit them bongos man.  It is little wonder why he is hailed as the” King of Nouveau Swing”!

Donald Harrison and his Congo Square Nation performed with all of the fanfare and regalia of a true New Orleans style Parade!

…with Special guest, legendary  Maestro Willie Pickens!

Chicagoan Willie Pickens at 80 years old plays with  ever-changing musical notes, after playing for a few minutes you detect that he, with fluidity  transitions from one  pattern to the next…his performance could be the definition of improvisational piano playing!

Donald Harrison is, no doubt, the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group, which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square…Hal-la-lue!  As the evening grew late, I looked over my shoulder and saw the sea of faces of all shades of colors of listeners–Black, white, Asian and all other colors of the rainbow–as they swung to the tune in time; and later they all raised  to their feet and began grooving in step with the Congo Nation!  I really began to understand the Jazz.

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It was right then that I saw that the main ingredient of Jazz, is pure beauty; so as the lights and beauty of the Chicago skyline enveloped around us we were warmed by the music of Donald Harrison, as with the other performers;…we were all imbued with love and loving being in love with the music that is Jazz!

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so grab a friend or family member, a person young or old, a picnic basket or buy food from an outdoor vendor or food truck, and enjoy it all with the crowd… you know…

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…all that jazz they have at the Chicago Jazz Festival…see you in 2014!

“Can do it” in Cancun!


This summer, I, the Pilot landed in a major world-renowned tourist destination.  If you live in the city, Like me, then when you think of ‘Vacations you are probably evoked with visions of beaches and pools too. f you want to visit a place with a “sea” of pools and Jacuzzi(s)…you must take a plunge into the waters of Cancún, Mexico….viva la Mexico!

FYI:  Jacuzzi is a name brand used like Kleenex is to Facial Tissue and Pampers is to Disposable Diapers (Jacuzzi is a brand name for a whirlpool tub. There are many different brands but Jacuzzi was the first and the most recognized).. A whirlpool has jets that shoot the water back in. A hot tub however has no shooting jets and just heats the water. So, there is a difference from a whirlpool and hot tub.

FLAG AND COUNTRY (3 cheers for the Red, White, and Green)

The first time I was in Mexico I was “cozy in Cozumel”; now however I was doing it in “can do” CancunCancún (Spanish pronunciation: [kan’kun] is a city in southeastern Mexico, located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is a major world-renowned tourist destination, as well as being the seat of the municipality of Benito Juarez. This city is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico; it is located just north of Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya (Wikipedia.org).  One may ask why Mexico again?  Answer, Mexico has so many beautiful cities to visit…why not Mexico..so I decided  “tovisitó México una vez más” ! >>>> And this time my friends and I traveled in 1st Class….thank you American Airlines for the considerable special treatment…cheers!

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   FYI: Caribbean Sea:  Arm of the Atlantic Ocean, bordered by the West Indies to the north and east, South America to the south, and Central America to the west  (www.dictionary.com).

   TIP:  The Caribbean Sea’s  clear blue waters make many of its surrounding islands very popular vacation spots for vacationers living in landlocked areas far from warm waters.

MAP (LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION) {map courtesy of Wikipedia}

Country  Mexico
State Quintana Roo Quintana Roo
Municipality Coat of arms of Benito Juarez, Quintana Roo.svg Benito Juárez
Founded April 20, 1970
Government
  Mayor Julián Ricalde Magaña (PRD)
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Highest elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft

       There are many things to do while you are in Cancun, Mexico and I was  blessed to stay in the Moon Palace Golf and Spa resort!  After doing a bit of research on this resort, I was surprised and pleased to learn that there was so much to do while at the resort.  In the past, I have been hesitant to stay at resorts because I was under the impression that I would be limited “resort-only” vacationing, and not experience the beautiful city of Cancún.   Fortunately, I was happily surprised to learn of all of the exciting activities and possibilities at Moon Palace in Cancún (Moon Palace has many locations throughout the world).

  • Outdoor freestyle pools w/6 Jacuzzi                                                                        
  • Miniature golf course                                                                                               
  • Bicycles
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Meditation garden
  • Billiards
  • Ping-Pong
  • Table games
  • Piano bar in each lobby (2)
  • Kids Club (ages 4-12)
  • Children’s playground
  • Andromeda disco
  • Beauty salons ($)
  • Gift shops ($)
  • Spa boutique ($)
  • Golf pro-shop ($)
  •  Jewelry stores ($)
  • Daily activities
  • Theme parties or shows nightly
  • 4 swim up bars
  • Children pool
  • Outdoor pool at Golf Club
  • Dive tank
  • Scuba diving demonstration
  • Water sports marina
  • Beach & pool volleyball
  • Beach soccer
  • Aqua aerobics
  • 2 fitness centers
  • Sauna/steam baths
  • 6 lit tennis courts
  • 2 basketball courts
  • 2 volleyball courts
  • Miniature golf course                        

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As you can read from the above list, yes there are many things to do while in Cancun, if you also decide to stay at a resort like, the Moon Palace, not only is the Moon Palace beautiful; but you can have fun-days and nights!!

FYI:  Although this was an all-inclusive resort; some of the amenities did have cost involved (the symbol  [ $ ] denotes an extra charge is involved…translation, it is not “gratis”).  An “amenity” can be defined as something that has a pleasant or useful feature or features.

I am sure most of my subscribers were wondering when I, as the Pilot, was to make another approach to land her virtual blog-aircraft.  I am glad that this summer, 2013,  I was blessed to visit Mexico once again, further I became more excited, after viewing the beautiful Moon Palace Resort Golf & Spa Resort (Sunrise) in Cancún, Mexico on “youtube.com”, to be staying there!  My personal impression of the Moon Palace is that it is a beautifully spacious and adorned resort.  From the marbled floor and walls, straight up to the intervals of the lustrous stained glass tiffany-inspired colored ceiling inserts.  Yes, indeed Moon Palace is reminiscent of a French 17th century palace (Palace of Versailles) with its ornate décor.

FYIStained Glass is glass that has been colored, enameled, painted, or stained, especially by having pigments baked onto its surface or by having various metallic oxides fused into it, as used in church windows, decorative lampshades, etc.  Tiffany Glass is a brand of iridescent art glass, introduced by L. C. Tiffany c1890 (ehow.com).

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I am a true believer that no matter how opulent the place you visit…once you throw your head back and enjoy the experience…you are the decorative statue in the room enjoying your vacation as you are lol: Living Out Loud!

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At every turn there is gorgeous coloring,  style, and creative designs throughout the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico.  Who would guess that among the beaches and pools there would be nestled a place which is the “haute couture” of resorts!

FYI: Haute Couture:  French means “high fashion”. Basically it is hand made clothing made out of the finest materials with beading and intricate work on it.  It is made to fit a particular customer and is usually made from the best quality materials, with an incredible amount of effort put in by the sewers. Haute couture is always made to order and is sewn by hand.

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The bedrooms at Moon Palace in Cancun are just as stunning, with our rooms laden with all of the comforts of any 5-star hotels!  What comes to mind when you think of “all-inclusive” , usual alcoholic drinks are not on the menu…but at the Moon Palace in Cancun…your mini bar is “your” mini bar and room service is 24/7…YES Cancun is beautiful; but Cancun at an all-inclusive resort is Cancun in HD.  When we first opened the doors we were greeted to a complimentary bottle of wine…and if that did not rock you…a bottle of champagne, and fresh fruit as well…. of course I will recommend drinking moderately and not to the point of being “wasted”.  Remember it is cool to vacation like a   STAR   not a   SLOP (in the case a sloppy drunk)…(lol)!!!

TIP:  Whether you call it soused, plastered, crocked, wasted or ‘three sheets to the wind’; it is never a good look on you!  So stay temperate, self-possessed, sober, and fierce!

FYI:   I read once that it comes from sailing, meaning that the vessel is REALLY moving along because many sails or “sheets” are unfurled and catching the wind.  It means, in the case of someone who has over-indulged, that they are VERY drunk, of course. 🙂 (yahoo.com)

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In the morning we awoke to our marbled rooms filled with the  warm Caribbean breeze in our sunlit infused rooms.  Why not breakfast on the balcony…ahhh that’s a reason to wake up to see the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean depending on how you interpret the world map!

FYI/Trivia:  What is the difference between a “Sea” and an “Ocean”?:  Well, the Sea is generally considered to be smaller than an Ocean.  Many scientist consider sea to be more inland than oceans, this might be related to depth as well. The ocean and sea or basically one, when you consider the World Ocean to be just one and our naming of non-boundary regions of the several oceans and multiple seas it is simply more geographical naming than separation.

FUN FACT: “Seas” are over continental plates whereas “Oceans” are over Oceanic plates  (As such the red sea is actually an ocean)!

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The bathrooms were luxurious too, although the giant Jacuzzi seemed to be in the middle of the room like a decorative monument…utilizing it in a shared room was not practical, unless you traveled with your “significant other” of course…then that large tub would fit two I am sure…(lol)!

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Yes, as far as vacation destination, I would gladly recommend Cancun in Moon Palace.  With its many different Resorts such as: the impeccable 24/7 room serviced suites of the  Sunrise,  the beautifully manicured Golf Villa, the oceanfront awesome view Nizuc, and the luxury spacious suites of the Moon Grand.  Also, guests of Moon Palace has the choice of living in accommodations such as concierge level…not to mention the various restaurants styles of  Caribbean , Asian, Brazilian, and of course Mexican cuisines.   We are not to forget the abundance of activities and amenities for the whole family (Spa Treatments, Flowriding, Night life at Noir, Water Parks and Guided Tours). 

TIP:  At the Sunrise we also had complementary Laundry Services, Chi products and equipment (Flat Iron, Hair Dryer/Diffuser) to maintain our beautiful coiffure (French word for a style of arranging or combing the hair) , Iron and Iron Board ( although who has time to iron)…(lol), a Safe for any of your little baubles.  Also, I was glad to learn that the Mini-Bar was stocked with Juices, and other Drinks besides alcoholic spirits….welcome to my World…the Land of Sedate & Sober and Living Social!

MONEY (SHOW ME THE $$$)

As any world traveling Pilot will tell you in preparing to vacation in other countries is important to know certain facts about the destination you are visiting…for example you should know or get acquainted with the “Exchange Rate” when visiting another country.  Also, whether they accept certain Credit Cards (Debit Cards, Prepaid Credit Cards, Money Cards as opposed to a regular Bank offered Credit Card0 I would further suggest bringing “cash” (especially mucho single dollars bills for leaving tips/gratuities).

FYI: A Credit Card is when you are loaned money by the card company and thereby accessing a credit line and are able to use it before hand; after which you have to pay them back. As opposed to a Debit Card on the other hand is a card with your money on it or directly pulled from one of your accounts (Savings or Checking), and you use it as you wish but once the card has no money left, you have to put more money on it before you can use it again.  To put it simply it is an issue of “pay later or pay now”, respectively.

TIP:  Currently, for every $1.00 United States Dollars (USD) you can exchange it to about 12 Mexican Pesos (MXN)  (one could also ask any store to do it, or do it at an airport/bus station in Mexico itself. it’s better to exchange once you are in the country).

P.S.: Mexican pesos are as colorful as the country…full of fun and flava.

LANGUAGE (…HOW DO YOU SAY?…):

As any pilot would advise passengers and their Co-Pilot, one should learn a few basic phrases before vacationing to a country and make every attempt to utilize those words while in the country they are visiting…

For example while in Cancun, although most individuals will know the English language, or have access to someone on staff who does know the language, it is a savvy traveler that knows key phrases.  Spanish words–not Mexican words; because there is no such thing as speaking “Mexican”, although in Mexico there may be several dialects…Spanish is also spoken in other countries for example, it is the national language in Honduras.  Therefore,  it is called ‘Spanish’; and is spoken in many parts of the world besides Mexico.  One should always educate themselves and not resign themselves to stay wallowed in ignorance and mental un-enlightenment.  As the Pilot’s  believes  “knowledge is the cure for the disease of ignorance”.

The Simple Stuff

English Spanish Pronunciation
Yes see
No no noh
Please por favor pohr fah-BOHR
Thank you gracias GRAH-see-ahs
You’re Welcome de nada day-NAH-thah
No, thank you no, gracias noh, GRAH-see-ahs
“Excuse me.” or “Pardon me.” discúlpeme dees-COOL-pay-may
Greetings
Good morning Buenos días BWEH-nohs DEE-ahs
Good afternoon Buenas tardes BWEH-nahs TAHR-days
Good evening Buenas noches BWEH-nahs NOH-tchays
Good bye Adiós Ah-dee-OHS
Hello/Hi hola OH-lah
See you later hasta luego AHS-tah LWAY-goh
What is your name? ¿Cómo se llama? KOH-moh say YAH-mah
My name is… mi nombre es … Mee NOHM-bray ays…
How are you? ¿Cómo está? KOH-moh ays-TAH
Fine, thank you.Very good, thank you. Bien, graciasMuy bien, gracias BEE-ayn GRAH-see-ahsMOOEE BEE-ayn GRAH-see-ahs
Language
Do you speak English? ¿Habla inglés? AH-bla een-GLAYS
I’m Canadian. Soy canadiense. Soy kah-nah-dee-AYN-seh
I don’t understand. no entiendo. Noh ayn-TEEAYN-doh
Family
Husband esposo ays-POH-soh
Wife esposa ays-POH-sah
Questions
English
Spanish
Pronunciation
Where is/are…? ¿Donde está/están…? DOHN-day ays-TAH  / ays-TAHN
When? ¿Cuando?NOTE: this means “what day?” If you want to know “at what time?” you must say:¿A cuál hora? KWAHN-dohah kwahl OH-rah
Who? ¿quién? keeayn
Why? ¿por qué? pohr kay
What? ¿qué? kay
How long…? (time) ¿cuanto tiempo? KWAHN-toh teeAYM-poh
How much does it cost?  or you can simply say: ¿cuánto cuesta?¿cuánto? KWAHN-toh KWAY-stahKWAHN-toh
How far? ¿A qué distancia? ah kay dees-TAHN-seeah
Can you help me? ¿Puede ayudarme? PWAY-day ah-yoo-DAHR-may
What time is it ¿Qué hora es? kay OH-rah ays
Useful Statements
I (don’t) like it (No) me gusta (Noh) may GOOS-tah
I don’t know No sé NOH say.
I need necesito nay-say-SEE-toh
I’m hungry Tengo hambre TAYN-goh AHM-bray
I’m thirsty Tengo sed TEHN-goh sayd
I’m tired estoy cansado ays-TOY kahn-SAH-thoh
I’m ready estoy listo / listamale / female ays-TOY LEES-toh / LEES-tah
Right now ahora mismo ah-OH-rah MEES-moh
Just a minute un momento oon mo-MAYN toh
Come in! entre / pase EHN-tray / PAH-say
It’s cheap es barato ays bah-RAH-toh
It’s expensive es caro ays KAH-roh
It’s cold (weather) hace frío AH-say FREE-oh
It’s hot (weather) hace calor AH-say kah-LOHR
I’m hot (temperature) tengo calor TAYN-goh kah-LOHR
I’m cold ( ” ) tengo frío TAYN-goh FREE-oh
A little un poco oon POH-koh
A lot mucho MOO-cho
Some unos / unas OO-nohs / OO-nahs
Tomorrow mañana mahn-YAH-nah
Morning la mañana lah mahn-YAHN-ah
Afternoon la tarde lah TAHR-thay
evening / night la noche lah NOH-tchay
Next week la semana próxima lah say-MAH-nah PROHK-see-mah
The Hotel
Bathroom el baño ayl BAHN-yoh
Swimming Pool la albercaThis is the most commomly used word in México for “swimming pool”.  In European Spanish it would be:(See comments)la piscina  lah ahl-BAYR-kahlah pee-SEE-nah
Open abierto ah-BEEAYR-toh
Closed cerrado say-RAH-thoh
Bed cama KAH-mah
Towel toalla toh-AH-yah
Soap jabón hah-BOHN
Pillow almohada ahl-moh-AH-thah
Shower la ducha / el baño lah DHOO-tchah / ayl BAHN-yoh
Iron plancha PLAHN-tchah
Hair dryer secador de pelo say-kah-DOHR day PAY-loh
There are no towels no hay toallas noh eye toh-AH-yahs
I have a problem. tengo problema TAYN-goh pro-BLAY-mah
The Restaurant
Waiter / waitress mesero / mesera may-SAY-roh / may-SAY-rah
I want / I’d like quiero / quisiera KEYAY-roH /  key-SEEAY-rah
The bill please La cuenta, por favor lah KWAYN-tah, pohr fah-BOHR
Breakfast desayuno day-sah-YOO-noh
Lunch almuerzo / comida Ahl-MWAYR-soh / koh-MEE-dah
Dinner  (at night) cena SAY-nah
Knife cuchillo koo-TCHEE-yoh
Fork tenedor tay-nay-THOHR
Spoon cuchara koo-TCHAH-rah
Tea te tay
Black coffee café negro kah-FAY nay-groh
Coffee with milk café con leche kah-FAY kohn LAY-tchay
Milk leche LAY-tchay
Ice hielo EEAY-loh
Mineral water agua mineral AH-gwah mee-nay-RAHL
Wine vino BEE-noh
Beer cerveza sayr-BAY-sah
White wine vino blanco BEE-noh BLAHN-koh
Red wine vino tinto BEE-noh TEEN-toh
Lemonade limonada lee-moh-NAH-dah
Juice jugo HOO-goh
Egg huevo WAY-boh
Scrambled eggs huevos revueltos WAY-bohs reh-BWAYL-tohs
Cheese queso KAY-soh
Butter mantequilla mahn-tay-KEE-yah
Bread pan pahn
Fruit fruta FROO-tah
Salt sal sahl
Pepper (black) pimienta negra pee-MEEAYN-tah NAH-grah
Sugar azúcar Ah-SOO-kahr
Fish pescado pehs-KAH-thoh
Salad ensalada ayn-sah-LAH-thah
Soup sopa SOH-pah
Dessert postre POHS-tray
Ice cream nieve / helado NEEAY-bay  / ay-LAH-thoh
Days of the Week
Sunday domingo doh-MEEN-goh
Monday lunes LOO-nays
Tuesday martes MAHR-tays
Wednesday miércoles MEEAYR-koh-lays
Thursday jueves HWAY-bays
Friday viernes BEEAYR-nays
Saturday sábado SAH-bah-doh
Numbers
1 uno OO-noh
2 dos dohs
3 tres trays
4 cuatro KWAH-troh
5 cinco seen-koh
6 seis sayees
7 siete SEEAY-tay
8 ocho OH-tchoh
9 nueve NWAY-bay
10 diez deeays
 Directions
 straight ahead derecho day-RAY-tchoh
 left la izquierda lah ees-KEEAYR-dah
 right la derecha lah day-RAY-tchah
 north norte NOHRR-tay
 south sur soorr
 east este  ororiente  AYS-tay  oroh-REEAYN-tay
 west oeste  oroccidental oh-AYS-tay  orohk-see-dayn-TAHL

http://www.tripadvisor.com

P.S. Also, ladies you may want to be able to throw-in the phrase: “Hola guapo mi nombre es Jackelin, ¿cuál es su nombre?  (I will not give you the translation…just try it when you eye a handsome young man and see the results! (lol)

WHAT TO SEE AND DO WHILE IN CANCUN (wassup?)

When visiting a different country the first thing a person ask…what should I do, where shall I go, what is there interesting to do in this country, that I will not probably be as able to do when I am at home.  I like to do extensive research whenever I visit a country to see what there is I can do once I am there vacationing.  I consider myself to be somewhat adventurous (I am certainly not an adrenaline junkie) and I do  like to seek fun and exciting things to do while I am there visiting.  This should be scheduled before going on vacation…”google” and find what are the POI (Point Of Interests) or POA (Points Of Attraction), of the places you plan to vacation.

FYI: Adrenaline Junkie:  The term ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ was popularly used in the 1991 movie Point Break in reference to people who favor dangerous activities for the adrenaline rush that accompanies them.  However, you don’t have to be a bank robber, sky diver or other obvious type of danger-seeker to be hooked on the rush that comes from a little stress; adrenaline junkies come in much more subtle forms (e.g. Drama Queens) about.com .

Well, Cancun is no different, I learned that there were places to do things once I was there; like, for example, visiting a dining experience know as Brazilian Steakhouse Restaurant, this bit of fun is where they bring to your dining table spears of  succulent pieces of various cuts of meats (chicken/poultry is also available) to  your table.  This was not only a time for feasting; but a time to socialize with your table and the surrounding tables as well.  Researching where you are to visit is the sign of the well traveled.  Surely you do not want to arrive home and regret you did not know of an exciting new experience you always wanted to try; but did not know you had the opportunity, because you were unaware at the time of your vacation it existed  (sad face).

Feeding at the Brazilian Steakhouse Restaurant, was an electrifying experience of entertainment and dining at the same time.  Secretly, I always wanted to try a Brazilian Steakhouse ever since I began researching it for a prior blog post entitled “Trending Tables…What is Trendy in the Windy City“.

I was able to witness “dance of the waiter”,  as men in tunic white long sleeved shirts, maneuvering about at a fast pace taking heed to all of the patrons needs.  I rather enjoyed the attention which was given to my table of family and friends.  The juicy plugs of meats were cooked to order (my preference is well done…not a drop of blood/ no hay sangre).  I prefer to have my meat cooked so that the sacrificial animal, whose life was taken to fulfill my carnivorous  desires , is not going to bulk & jump off the plate to run away if I slice into it with my “10 blade” (lol).

FYI: The No. 10 blade is the surgical scalpel which has a curved cutting edge and is one of the more traditional blade shapes. It is commonly used for making small incisions in skin and muscle

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little whole grain mustard anyone…

Yes, there are many things to do while in  Cancun, let us not forget what I mentioned earlier, we came here for…splish-slash swimming!!!

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Whether you are spending time with the tykes at the children’s pool area where there 2 inches of water or wading with your friends at the “swim-up bar” in 4 feet of water…oh now I get why the 4′ of water (lol).  Also, you can sip one of many classic tropical drinks at the “swingers’ bar”.  No…it is not what you think…you are actually swinging on swings as you drink a refreshing beverage—weee…careful not to spill (lol)!  My personal favorite is a virgin Pina Coloda with Strawberry Margarita…yummy!

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Later after a day in the sun having fun in the pool…time to dip into the dark waters of the night with your trusted friends for some nighttime adventure…the club du jour, (French literally meaning of the Day), “Noir”

FYI:  Noir (French for the color black)  Also a word used in showing characteristics of a film noir , in a dark plot genre or crime-style drama.

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After a dark night of dance and grown-up chilling with your friends, the following morning called for a little Spa Time!  When you enter an off location Spa facility at Moon Palace Resort, you begin to sense a relaxing-vibe as you enter a aromatherapeutic darken room and are asked to remove your clothing and slip into a soft comfy Waffle Weave Spa gown and thumping in acupressure reflexology massage slippers.

FYI:  Aromatherapy: wherein the use of fragrances is used to affect or alter a person’s mood or behavior

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Yessssssss I was able to relax in a “steam room”, well if you consider sweating your mind, soul and body off as you sit on wooden planks relaxing, than that was my experience.  Hopefully all of the toxins from the night before were extracted from my opened pores.

FYI: According to an article by Rachel Nall addressing the benefits of Steams Rooms, are the  “Removal of toxins and bacteria. She explained that the high  temperatures associated  with steam rooms send the body into a state known as hyperthermia. When the body  is experiencing hyperthermia, toxins can no longer survive due to the high  temperatures, and therefore exit the body through sweat.

Read more:  http://www.ehow.com/way_5278192_steam-room-good.html#ixzz2cO3FGgLr

FOOD (food glorious food {from the musical Oliver Twist]})

Before going on vacation, if you are like me, the Pilot, I usually go on an extreme diet.  Why do I diet and work-out before vacationing?…no not to look “featherweight” in a slimming bathing suit or billowy cover-up; but I diet to make room so I can EAT as much as I like without coming home looking like a heavyweight…translation: oh la la FOOD

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When you vacation at Moon Palace in Cancun…not only do you have a wide selection of Buffet and Specialty Restaurants; but also graze at, outside statically placed satellite beach and poolside grill troughs as well.  Yes, fellow vacationers you can munch on a meal in your swimsuit and sundress without having to have clothes and shoes on…well actually you do need clothing of some kind…(LOL)!

TIP:  Just be on guard for “Montezuma’s Revenge”…so if you are not accustom to very spicy foods “thread lightly”

FYI: This is a colloquial term, which for any case of Traveler’s diarrhea is contracted while visiting Mexico.  Basically it is the effects produced by highly seasoned spicy Mexican cuisine on visitors. …it is NOT a disease-but can be diagnosed  as “stomach issues” , to put it in delicate terms.  Its origin comes from Moctezuma II, a Mexican emperor, the ruler of the Aztec civilization who was defeated  and slaughtered by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador.  The Spaniards then enslaved and obliterate the Aztec people  (urbandictionary.com).

Therefore, Eat, Drink and be Weary/{defined here as cautious}  (lol).

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Later, after noching on grilled Burgers, or grilled skirt steak also known as Marinade Arrachera ( which has a robust flavors of cumin, cilantro, and garlic plus some heat from the jalapenos), French fries and freshly sliced fruit with a tall glass of Lime & Lemon-Aid with soda water.  I think it is appropriate to relax in a covered reclining lounge couch pool front…

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…or even beach front chilling.  No, our day is not done…now for entertainment…dress for a show

Yes the Mexican version of Michael Jackson is showcasing at Moon Palace Resort Golf and Spa…can you yell scream-fest!

WHAT TO PACK…WHAT TO PACK

Basically travelers you will be dinning and swimming… so perform the roll & stuff technique to pack a few Dresses, colorful Shorts & Tees, and Swimwear (Bathing Suits and Cover-Ups) and multiple shades of Flip-Flops (some with bling and others for dipping in the beach & chilling at the pool).  Please do  not forget floppy sun hats, sunscreen/sunblock or sun tanning lotion  (pack into your check-in baggage not your carry-on).  I would suggest travelling with one suitcase if possible…remember the weight limitations for most airlines (check it out online for both arriving and departing if you are utilizing 2 different airlines upon returning from your destination(s).

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Last, but certainly not least…next day adventure>>>a swim in the Caribbean Sea, no not in the pool; but…yes swimming with the fishes (lol) then you must not forget to while at the,  Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort All Inclusive situated in Cancún’s south shores,  go   SWIMMING WITH  YOUR FRIENDS (they are not sharks…or at least they are of the friendly species)!!!

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FALLING IN LOVE WITH FALL

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Perhaps no one loves the changing of the seasons more than I.  The smell of the crisp leaves burning to an ash from your neighbors’ yard, the crunching of the dried fallen leaves under-foot as you kick-step your way down a winding path that is littered with Autumns’ foliage.  Also, the chill in the air that signals to all, that winter is soon to make its  d’ebut into the year.  As this time comes near many of us query to oneself, “why do we get or are so blessed with this bounty of colors?”  I am sure that most of us have learned while in Sabbath School, that God created the earth and all that is therein… But still how does it happen, through what wonderous of creation and  science.

As I am have learned (and I am sure you did too), in Grammar School your teacher taught you that “leaves make food for the trees”.  Then some kid in class probed “O’kay, but why are leaves green sometimes and change colors later?  Another student analyzed, with the mind of only a 7 year-old could,  and queried, “is it because they have finished feeding the trees?”.   The teacher would give a small grin and tilt her head and responded to us, “not quite; but the leaves that do change colors in the fall, do so because of a chemical called “chlorophyll”.  Then as the teacher peered into our inquisitive faces, she knew she captured our interest, and further taught that “chlorophyll is the pigment that turns the green leaves their green color AND makes food for the trees,  during the Spring and Summer the leaves of trees are able to receive more light because the days are longer; then later chlorophyll begins to disappear;  and during the Fall-when the days become shorter, they get less. light…and this is how we get the other colors:  yellow, brown, orange and red.  Our teacher went on to state that “these colors where always there during the summer; but the green covered them up!  Of course, as a child, I thought that my Teacher, next to my mother, must me the smartest person in the whole world! LOL! 

However, if my small trip down Memory Lane, did not help you; here is a poster I found that may help you understanding why we get these beautiful colors in the Fall or Autumn.

FYI:   “According to Wikipedia, Autumn is is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphere) when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier…According to United States tradition, autumn runs from the day after Labor Day (i.e. the Tuesday following the first Monday of September) through Thanksgiving (i.e. the fourth Thursday in November), after which the holiday season that demarcate the unofficial beginning of winter begins..”

YKSD Physical Science Chapter 6 Introduction, “How Matter Changes

(ykonline.yksd.com)

Simple right, or not so simple…well to educate you more. now some Hight School stuff, which I shall attempt to make it as simple as possible.  You heard the term “the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, well there is something to that because sweetness means sugar, and sugar means photosynthesis.   Darker leaves and fruits have more sugar and thus more process of photosynthesis.

In photosynthesis there are three distinct phases. These phases include receiving light, converting it into  nutrients and releasing waste products back into the atmosphere.  According to Dictionary .com, photosynthesis is the complex process by which carbon dioxide, water, and certain inorganic salts are converted into carbohydrates by green plants, algae, and certain bacteria, using energy from the sun and chlorophyll.

1.   Receiving Light:  In the first phase of photosynthesis, a plant absorbs ambient light. The amount of light the plant can absorb depends on its  pigmentation; darker colored plants can absorb more light.

Read more:  Explain the Three Stages of Photosynthesis | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7598064_explain-three-stages-photosynthesis.html#ixzz28uqQk5oj

2.  Converting it into nutrients:  In the second phase of photosynthesis, a plant converts absorbed light into  chemical energy.  According to David Clark, professor of Microbiology at Southern Illinois  University, plants facilitate a chemical reaction involving light, soil  nutrients and water during this phase that includes splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

3.  Releasing waste product back into the atmosphere: In the third phase of photosynthesis, a plant takes carbon dioxide, or CO2, from the atmosphere to aid in the chemical reaction.  Light is not necessary for this process, known as CO2 reduction, and  this phase leads to the production of carbohydrates.  The plant releases a  byproduct, oxygen, back into the atmosphere as waste.

FYI:  The chemical process for photosynthesis: 6 CO2 + 6 H20 + (light energy) + C6H1206 +  602

Photosynthesis means “putting together with light.” In photosynthesis, plants  use the energy of the sun, water and carbon dioxide from the air to make their own food, which they use to grow. In the process, they release oxygen, which is  part of the air we breathe in, as well as sugar, which is the plant’s  food.  Photosynthesis is vital for all living things by maintaining the oxygen level of  the atmosphere.   So take a deep breath! (lol)!

Read more:  Explain the Three Stages of Photosynthesis | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7598064_explain-three-stages-photosynthesis.html#ixzz28ur0GIgf

Leaves on plants and trees can’t change color unless they are exposed to light. Choose a tree with large leaves that changes color in the fall, such as maple  place it near a window that receives sunlight then place another similar in an area that does NOT receive sunlight…notice after a week the growth…that is why we should all take another deep breath and be thankful we have trees with leaves.

Autumn leaves

All the science aside, we know that a leaf changing color is part of a chemical reaction.  Above is an example of how a leaf gradually changes its color from Green to Yellow, Orange, and Brown…then falls when dead and at its darkest color.

Varying fall temperatures and precipitation amounts affect the intensity of colors (Kate Smith).

Leaf color chart

FYI:   Leaves of many plants will vary significantly — from gold to orange to crimson — depending upon the ratio of carotenoids to anthocyanins in each leaf.  carotenoids (which produce yellow, orange and brown colors) and anthocyanins (which provide reds and purples) (syracuse.com).

Finally enough about biology, chemistry and all other sciences…lets get to STYLE;  and how it changes as the season changes…is that a science too!  During Fall you may notice certain things falling away as well as the leaves fall to the ground.  The end of summer signals a time to say good-bye to Tank Shirts, Shorts, and Flip-Flops….and hello to Sweaters, Long Pants, and Boots!  The great thing is that you are covered stylish and cute.  Also, time to take care of your skin and hair.

Falling in Love with your inner Fashionista

Fall is a wonderful season but it is a cooler season…therfore you got to get cool with your fashion!  As Fall falls away, we reflect on the season’s harvest of our lives.   As the leaves turns colors so does our wardrobe. The colors of our wardrobe change to deeper tones as well as autumn’s colors change for the season.   This is the time of the year where the root vegetables become more  abundant, with their substantial nourishment to replenish us from a summer of long sunny days and expansive activities.  Now we turn to indoor activities instead of those that relate strictly to outdoors.

Now is the season of our content and comfort…our comfy comfort that is…  Ladies can swaddle themselves in scarves, hug themselves in oversize sweaters, pull-overs and ponchos.

Blend the traditional Fall colors of  Midnight Black, Chocolate Browns, Smokey Grays and Dark deepest Blues with a POP of color to draw visual appear and flair (much like the photograph to your Right).

or…pair a bright colorful corduroy skinny pant with an oatmeal colored bulky Cable Knit Sweater like the one on the Right!

Whether you wear these bold tones with a Corduroy longer maxi skirt or with a Knit Mini with Bright Tights…this is the look to “fall” for…

…word on the street is…that you stay warm; but look hot in the Fall season.  Remember a woman does not have to show cleavage, legs or any kind of skin to be sexy; her self confidence, security in herself, and intelligence allows her to show that and more!  In other words do not confuse “sexy” with “slutty” (lol)…no one needs to see your boob tattoos–keep it under wraps like a gift (lol).

black, blonde, dark, fall 08, fashion, girl

Rock the look of a Cropped Jacket…whether it is corduroy, wool, or  leather… this look can imbue the colors of fall and elongates your torso (now shorties like me can appear leggy) lol!

whether you wear your cropped jacket with a bright skirt, blue denim or with Shorts & Tights, feel free to add accessories that pulls the look together.  For example a knit cap and scarf is not only whether appropriate; but fashion apropos!

So ladies head on out to T J Maxx, Target, Marshalls and The Rack®  and grab a corduroy Cropped Jacket, Dark-wash Pants, snuggly long scarf, and an oversized slouchy handbag…don’t forget a pair of Dark Brown tortoise-shelled pair of shades…now you got the look of Fall!

However, just before Fall, or pre-Fall sometimes called “indian summer”, you may still get away with cute sweaters with scarves,  gloves and hat to boot!  Just remember besides styling, staying warm should be your main objective.  Because smart and intelligent ladies dress warmly and care more about their health and less about having their chest on display—-but you can still do it with flair and pizzaz!

Think you have to be skinny to wear “Skinny Jeans”; don’t Fall for it…but rock it!

Great thing about Fall, if you are like me and not at your desired weight, Fall allows you to cover-up and “hide-out in the open” (lol)

Now, plus-size comes in cute Fall clothing too.  Psst…grab a flared leather skirt for all parties you plan to attend.  These skirts are so “in” and “hip” at the same time and can be paired with virtually any Top, Shirt. or Turtle-neck Sweater.  Lastly, “stand to attention” with the Military look–but rock it in a different color than green while making the other ladies “green with envy” because of your fall stlyle (lol)!

Grab a Fall fashion plaid shirt in several colors (slip on a lace body shaping tee with it to feminize the look)…and buy a sweater that has a modern construction like the one pictured to your Right.

Luckily accessories see no weight (lol)!

Just as there are colorful pops of color in the Fall…I will suggest to let your accessories pop too!

Large oversized Bags, Purses, Handbags  and Clutches are the look for the Fall season, and the reason:…where else can you store your extra tubes of lotions, creams,  lip balms and mittens, ear muffs, scarf and Hand Sanitizer!

Your handbag or purse does not have to be the only thing that POPS; but your footwear can too (wear this Fall looks above on a causal days with skinny jeans or pants).

…Or put your feet in a dressier shoe, one that fully covers your feet or strap on some boots!

…to heel or not to hell, that is the question….I will let you decide.  As for me being 5′ 3″ I need to heel (well a little heel about 2-3 inches of it)

One look that is in vogue are shoe boots…I suggest purchasing those with traction–since afterall…safety is always best!

Fall into an updated makeup look with vibrant & cool colors for the Fall season!

…bright and vibrant colors is beautiful on any and all skin tones and colors…therefore if you are “white” as a Snowflake to dark brown as a Hershey bar…you can rock the POP!

Just a suggestion…if you POP the Lip Color, you can go easy on the cheeks.  Remember the Lips needs to be at the center stage to truly POP!

However, I am an eye person and I know that the “eyes have it”.  Although the “smokey eye” is still in vogue–it is less smokey and has a bit of sparkle for the upcoming season of shine!

When smokes get in your eyes

FYI:   Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. It was sung in the original show by Tamara Drasin. It was originally recorded by Gertrude Niesen, on October 13, 1933. I remember listening to it sung by Nat “King” Cole (performed in 1946).

~~~~~~Evening Look~~~~~~~~~~~Daytime  Look~~~~~~~Shadow & Sm. Liner Brush

Here is step-by-step diagram on how to get that look…

(glam s.c.a.m. beauty).

May I suggest using quality products like “Nars” or “Bobbi  Brown”.  You can find these great Fall colors for a great price at Sephora®!  Using quality brands allow the look to last longer and not absorb so quickly in your skin as the evening goes into night!

If you have almond-shaped eyes…lucky you–if not–time to do make-up tricks to “get it got it”!

TIP the Nail tip with saturated colors of Fall on a nude nail color bed…may I recommend a new brand I found “Essie ®“…loooooooove it!

This look is eye catching yet professional enough that will not offend the sensibility of your supervisor at work…she may even ask you…”where did you get that look?”

Tips for Fall: Don’t let your skin fall away from its summer glow!

As grasses and flowering plants contract, wither and drop their fruits so do we, we become a little dryer, our bodies’ conserve energy, require more and deeper rest.

1. Wear sunscreen every day :  Yes, in the colder seasons like Fall or Winter the sun is still out there; and although you may not be exposing as much to it as you would in summer, the dangers to your skin are still there (Yahoo).  A dermatologist, Dr. Jeanine Downie, says that: “You should be wearing an SPF 30 every day, not only to protect against skin cancer but to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and uneven skin tone.”It is important not to “forget that applying sunscreen once a day is not enough you should reapply every couple of hours! (Perfect Locks)  Also, “Just because you may not be laying on the beach in the Caribbean it doesn’t mean you can forget the sunscreen for the next 6 months. Sunscreen is a daily essential, so don’t set it aside. (about.com Skin Care).

FYI: Despite the lack of sun some of us might be starting to experience, you still need to exercise caution when it comes to protecting your skin from UV rays.  Winter doesn’t necessarily signal a break from sun exposure, especially for those who exercise or work outdoors. UV rays penetrate through clouds and overcast skies, and reflect off waters, cement, sand, and even snow.  It is important to note that some of the most common sites of skin cancer lesions are the areas of the body that endure year round exposure, such as your hands, face, ears, and the left arm of drivers in most countries (some countries it is the right arm like our neighbors across the pond…e.g Great Britain).  Continue using SPF rated products (vashonorganics.com/education).

2. Body Care:  “You will want to find a shower gel that is “soap-free” as well as hydration.  In the Fall and Winter, I like to put away the gels and bring out a creamy body wash. (about.com Skin Care).  Summertime shower gels are fruity and sweet smelling and we love them.  However, the extra alcohol used to give these cleansers an aroma may be detrimental to your fall skin care. In Fall and winter use products that are gentle and without fragrance. For example, milk bath and creamy shower gels the work best during the colder seasons. Celebrate the season with skin care products that contain oatmeal or pumpkin in them (Yahoo).  “Ditch the soap. Fragrant soapy scrubs might feel (and smell) wonderful after a day at the beach, but they leave your skin dry. When Fall arrives, switch to a soap-free hydrating cleanser. It’s time to put away the gels and bring out the creamy body wash

TIP: Avoid baths and showers that are too hot, and cool the water before you get out. Your skin will retain more moisture this way and you won’t go through the temperature shock so much when you get out (beautytipsonline.com).

TIP: A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy (webmed.com/health-beauty).

2.  Exfoliate regularly: The summer sun and chlorine may have left your skin feeling dry and flaky. Start the new season off with a full-body exfoliation session ( A Womans Health Magazine)   According to Dr. Fusco: “A good exfoliating agent will slough off the dull top layers, minimizing wrinkles, acne, and dry spots to reveal new, healthy, glowing skin.” You don’t have to exfoliate everyday- perhaps only 2-4 times a week.  “I think oily based scrubs are perfect for Fall and Winter because you are getting the exfoliating benefits with the extra bonus of hydrating oils. And when it comes to oily scrubs, the choices are endless! (about.com Skin Care).  Also, it will improve your skin as it brings healthier cells to the surface of your skin. Use an oil-based scrub instead of a salt scrub to protect your skin in the fall season. Avoid massaging your skin vigorously when exfoliating your skin (eCellulities.c0m).  It may look odd and gloopy, but an oily scrub is an excellent product to use for sloughing away dead skin cells and tiny bumps on your legs, arms and tushy.

TIP:  Avoid exfoliators with large crystals or chunks, as they are too abrasive. Use products with the tiniest beads possible to successfully exfoliate without destroying the surface of your skin (sheknows.com/beauty-and-style).

TIP:  Another tip to aid in the removal of toxins from the skin this Fall is to use an exfoliating loofah while bathing. Loofahs help to remove dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface, help to open your pores and can also increase blood circulation, all of which will aid in the faster elimination of toxins exiting through the skin’s surface (vashonorganics.com/education)

FYI:  Harsh soaps full of dyes and fragrance can often strip your skin’s essential oils, leaving your skin dry and cracked (vashonorganics.com/education).

3.   Keep it Moist:  Moisturize EVERYDAY I cannot stress this enough; if you want to keep dry skin at bay, you must hydrate your skin on a daily basis. The best time to apply your lotion is right after you have dried off after your shower or bath. Seal in the moisture that is already been absorbed into your skin ( A Womans Health Magazine).

3.   Switch from lotion to cream. Shower, dry and dress is the summer routine. For good Fall skin care that should change to shower, dry, moisturize and dress. Add plenty of moisture to your body every day (Yahoo) As the air becomes drier, your skin needs a thicker moisturizer. Creams provide a stronger oily barrier, which means they both reduce water loss from the outer layer of skin and provide hydration to this layer of skin at the same time (A Womans Health Magazine).

TIP: When you wash your face with a cream cleanser, you will not have to worry about it stripping the natural oils from your skin (voices.yahoo.com/tips).

4.     What you eat and drink influences the condition of your skin: It is a well-known fact that staying hydrated by drinking water can only do good things for your skin. What you may not know is that adding antioxidants to your skin care and diet will “will help to combat free radical damage, reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation,” says Dr. Jessica Wu. Eat brightly colored fruits, vegetables, and olive oil and use topical products that contain vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E, vitamin C, and coffeeberry on your skin. (perfect locks)

TIP: When you don’t drink enough water and fluid volume becomes diminished, the ability of the body to remove toxins through urination is also decreased. These toxins must then be eliminated in other ways such as through the skin. The increase in body toxin levels can also cause headaches and fatigue.  However, no matter how much water you drink, some toxins will still try to exit the body through the skin (vashonorganics.com/education)!

I read a great article that I will like to share and it reads: “To promote inner harmony and clear skin, the time of the autumnal equinox is a traditional time to adjust our dietary intake and pursue some form of internal cleansing with herbs, juicing, or modified fasting. Eliminating all sugar, wheat, dairy and fried foods for 2 or 3 weeks is very helpful for decongesting your system and cleansing and will noticeably increase your energy and sense of clarity. Drinking burdock (Arctium lappa) tea, an alterative and liver support, is noted for promoting clear skin. I have found Healthy Skin Tonic or Burdock-Red Root Compound very effective for general support of organs of elimination and lymphatic system cleansing. Taking elder flower (Sambucus nigra) tea helps support the skin’s elimination functions, helpful in preventing or eliminating papules, milia and retained sebum in the fall when we generally perspire less and there is contraction of the tissues. Keeping well hydrated internally and humidifying room air will help prevent the tendency to develop chapped skin and dry, uncomfortable nasal passages. Do keep exercising to keep your system from feeling sluggish – Tai chi or qigong are wonderful for staying energized and fit in the dark months (eco-beauty.com/skin-care-fall-winter).”  For more suggestions see “Autumn Health Tips at ElisonHaas.com website.

Because of the onset of dry Fall and Winter, don’t forget about your lips and skin around your eyes in your fall skin care regimen.  The delicate skin around your eyes can be impacted by Autumn and Winter dryness because they do not produce oil or moisture like the rest of the face, so  make sure you’re using a moisturizing eye treatment cream for the skin around your eyes. (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6606899)

P.S. Don’t forget the Lips: Use Lip Balm. It’s good to use a lip balm with SPF as it will protect your lip from the sun, wind, and cold. Usually, the lip skin becomes chapped in colder months. By using a lip balm, you can easily avoid dry and chapped lips. “Use a non-petroleum based lip balm for best results (A Womans Health Magazine).

TIP: To remove any unwanted dry skin off of your lips, you can exfoliate them with your toothbrush when you brush your teeth.  In a pinch, add a dab of Vaseline to protect them (beautytipsonline.com).

TIP:  Good ingredients to look for in lip products are jojoba oil, shea butter, avocado oil, and mango oil. These moisturizing lipids can work wonders to keep your lips luscious  (vashonorganic.om/education).

P.S.  Don’t forget your Hands:  Dead give away of the cooler weather are hands with dry cracked cuticles.  And many times your regular hand cream isn’t heavy-duty enough to tackle those super dry cuticles.   But by investing in a cuticle oil,  you can quickly take care of the cracked skin and avoid that painful condition that is so wide-spread in the colder months.

TIP:  Simply apply oil onto your cuticles and rub in. Do this a couple times a week for best protection.  Be proactive in your nail care by apply a drop of cuticle oil to the nail beds and rubbing the oil into the cuticle at least once a week.

FYI: Hands that may have been damaged from UV rays this summer need extra care to stay soft and moist during the dry season .  Your hands also need special attention and specific products because the skin on the hands tend to be thinner than on the rest of your body, and is often exposed to more drying agents.

P.S. S.S.  Don’t Forget your Feet:  Repeat after me, “I will not let my feet go without proper care this Fall and Winter”.  Say it, and mean it.  Your feet are going to be stuck inside your boots and heals for months to come…no more freedom of the flip-flops,  and if you continue taking care of them and exfoliating them on a regular basis, you will have no problem popping back on your sandals when the time comes.

Plus, having nice feet just make you feel good, so grab a foot scrub and brush and keep it in your shower.  My all-time favorite is H2O Plus: Pumice Foot Scrub.  Scrub your feet 1-2 times a week and you will enjoy soft feet that will not  snag your blanket (lol).  Ouchie!

Oh yes Ladies and Gentlemen treat yourself to a Spa Treatment during the Fall, you and your body will thank me!!!  Your body needs to detox, de-stress, and it is deserving (lol)!

During the dry season of the Fall and Winter you may begin to notice not only a drying of your body; but that of your hair as well…and this can lead to shedding which means more hair is Falling out in the Fall.  Therefore you may want to change your Hair Care treatment like you change your products for your skin (afterall the scalp is skin too).  Rock a new look or Update your old look this Fall

…whether you add length for a longer style hitting your back or keeping it simpler with a just past shoulder length…

or even shagging it out to your neck or selecting a chic look shorter pulled back behind the ear

Hair can be used here to accentuate your gorgeous facial features, illuminate your skin color  and make you smile with approval when you look into the mirror!

MEN,  it is the season to PREP for the Fall PREPPY LOOK!

Now there is a look called “Urban Preppy”..it is has traditional tailored construction with a dash of cool.  Clean straight lines are in style…fabric with tweed, wool, corduroy, and leather.

 

Pull out of he back of your closet…or head out to T J Maxx, Marshall, Target or The Rack® purchase a Cotton button-down Shirt or a Cashmere Turtleneck, Wool Argyle Sweater or Chunky Cashmere Cardigan, Dark Wash Denim Trouser or Corduroy Pant,  Tweed or Houndstooth Jacket, and a Houndtooth scarf with a Leather Jacket or  Pea Coat.

The above is an example of the Argyle Pattern.  (Can be displayed in Pullovers and Socks).

Above is an example of the Houndstooth Pattern (Can be displayed in Jackets and Ties)

Above is an example of Tweed (Can be displayed in Coats and Jackets)

Above is an example of Corduroy (Can be displayed in Pants and Jackets)  Don’t forget the gold framed Aviator Shades or the iconic Tortoise-Shell Rayban® sun glasses to put the look in prospective.

Thank you to the influence of television programs/shows like “Mad Men” and Gossip Girls”; because no more sloppy looking sagging jeans that placed mens underwear on display and over-sized white t-shirts.  Now, men are dressing smart and dapper…so bye-bye super baggy & sagging low riding jeans “hello” Skinny or Straight pants.

FYI:   Sagging began in prison, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent suicide and their use as weapons. The style spread through rappers and music videos, from the ghetto to the suburbs and around the world.

Now, it is cool and laid back…and chilled out!  You can take this look from the College Campus to the Board Room!

don on a Driver style cap:                            cap it with a hunting-inspired Scottish Walking Hat

Harris Tweed Ivy Cap - Credit: MensHats.com                            Borsalino Casual Hat - Credit: DelmonicoHatter.com

..why not try on a Wetherby style hat:             or tip your hat with flair with a Fedora:

Still Life Wetherby hat - Credit: StillLifeNYC.com                               

Only men that are not afraid of looking good can pull off these looks…I find it reminiscent of the 1940s…..all the way smooth as jazz!

Fall Time: Things to do in the Fall without it being a season that is a total fail!

1. Read a good book or better yet “the” Good Book!

…no excuse you can now read a book on your tablet or a kindle®

FYI:  Non readers or poor readers often have low opinions of themselves and their abilities.  Feelings of isolation and have low self-esteem can surface.  As we live in an age overflowing with information, reading is the main way to take advantage of it.  “Reading, like no other medium, can transform your life in a flash, and you never know which book, at which time in your life, might be the one that rocks your world and inspires you to grow in ways you never thought possible.”  Also, another benefit of reading is that it  builds your vocabulary from book reading.  Further,  reading gives you an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs and their lifestyles. You’ll become more aware about different places and their codes of conduct in those places.—Burke Hedges.

2. Start a Scrapbook or Create a “Vision Board”.

FYI:  Vision Board (similar to the one pictured above) is simply a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It consists of a poster or foam board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become. The purpose of a vision board is to activate the law of attraction to begin to pull things from your external environment that will enable you to realize your dreams (By Tristan Loo).

3. Clean /and/or Organize a room in your house.

FYI:   It is said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, although this is NOT a direct quote from the Bible.  According to the fourteenth edition of ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,’ it is an old Hebrew proverb used in the late 2nd century by Rabbi Phinehas ben-Yair. First attested in the United States in the ‘Monthly Anthology and Boston Review’ . The proverb is found in varying forms.”  However, come-on you know that a clutter unkept house is akin to a clutter and unkept mind.  For example in you had a meeting with a lawyer and his or her office was cluttered and disorganized; would you be comfortable with him or her handling your concerns?  I think not.

4. Begin a Work-Out Program and Start Eating Healthier and Drinking more Water.

FYI:  According to studies from the Mayo Clinic ” if you are worried about heart disease? and are  Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.”.

FYI:   Eat healthy to combat diseases like type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a major risk  factor in this disease. According to the American Diabetes Association’s  website, other complications affiliated with type 2 diabetes are heart disease,  blindness and kidney failure.  Decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by consuming food and beverages that are  low in sugar. Eliminate food and drinks  made with high-fructose corn syrup. Substitute with herbal tea and water. These  healthy alternatives help lower calories and are refreshing. Also, eat salads,  raw or steamed vegetables, and whole grains.  Most healthy foods have low to no cholesterol. For instance, fresh fruit and  vegetables have zero cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association’s  website, high cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease. Your arteries may  slowly develop a buildup, which narrows the arteries. Narrowed arteries can lead  to a heart attack or stroke. An active digestive system is another reason healthy eating is important. Avoid  constipation by including whole grains, like whole-wheat bread and oatmeal for  fiber, in your daily eating plan. Other high-fiber foods include fresh fruits  and vegetables, as well as beans, such as kidney, black and pinto.

Read more:  Why Is Eating Healthy So Important? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4696584_why-eating-healthy-important.html#ixzz29CPRJEoZ

Being overweight can be an unpleasant and embarrassing experience. Unwanted fat  deposits on the thighs, stomach, and back may leave you feeling self-conscious  and depressed.

FYI:    How much water do you need to drink? At least twenty percent of the water you need comes from the foods you eat. The rest comes from the beverages you drink. Some experts believe you can estimate the amount of water you need by taking your weight in pounds and dividing that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces you may want to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you might want to drink at least 80 ounces of water or other fluids per day. Other factors include amount of physical activity and the climate where you are located.  The lungs, muscles, brain and blood are all composed of water and they must be  properly hydrated to ensure their functioning. Additionally, water is needed to  regulate body temperature.

Read more:  Why People Should Drink More Water | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_6172398_people-should-drink-water.html#ixzz29CKYft9B

Discussing eating and drinking there are certain Foods and Drinks that are very complimentary to the Fall Season.

What is Falling into the Pot in the Fall Season!

Time to warm-up “ike the spy who came in from the cold”… may I suggest a Stew or Soup!!!

FYI:  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1963 Cold War spy novel by British author John le Carré. It has became famous for its portrayal of Western espionage methods.

Is Chili a stew or a Soup?  After doing a little research I discovered that Stews are heartier, thicker, and more flavorful than soups, with so many ingredients introduced; chili would have to be a Stew in my humble opinion.  Therefore, chillin’ with Chili can take off the chill of Fall (lol)!

I must confess after tasting “Turkey” Chili…I will never go back to beef (and of course swine or pig is out of the question).  Add to Turkey Chili, a sprinkle of 3 shredded Cheeses (namely Sharp Cheddar, Parmesan, and  Gruyère), a tablespoon of  finely chopped Scallion Onions, and a dollop of Crème Fraîche.

do not care for that fowl…then try Chicken…

White Chicken Chili Soup Recipe

                                                White Chicken Chili Soup

Ingredients for white chili soup:

1 pound boneless chicken breast

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion diced,

4 garlic cloves diced,

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon anise seed

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

3 15 ounce cans cannelloni beans

1 cup chicken broth

1 7 ounce can diced green chilis

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup dry white wine

shaved parmesan cheese

chopped cilantro

Instructions for white chili soup: 1. Rinse chicken pieces and remove skin. Chop into 1 inch size pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 2. In a large pan….Saute onion olive oil along with the oregano, cumin, anise seed,and red pepper flakes until slightly softened. 3. Add chicken to the pan and saute for another 5-10 minutes. 4. Drain the juice from the cannelloni beans. Save 1/2 cup of the liquid from the beans. Add this liquid, beans, chicken broth, green chilis, and whipping cream to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. 5. If desired, top with shaved parmesan and chopped cilantro.

While on one of my vacations I visited France and visited my, then boyfriend’s family, his mother prepared a delicious Soup called French Onion Soup (the best I ever had)!

Yes underneath that crisp French Bread and Cheeses is a savory soup that is riddled with onions and other tasty seasonings..so eat it with a “Fork” on top than use a “Spoon” on bottom!

…and for dessert Fall into a pot of Chocolate Fondue…

FYI:  Fondue is Swiss in origin and is a baked soufflé-like dish of hot liquid in which small pieces of food (in this case fruits, cakes and marshmallows) are cooked or dipped: beef fondue; chocolate fondue.

…and it can be quite romantic too ( yet another method to stay warm in the chilly Fall season=Fondue>>>>>>just kidding I meant Romance)!

Now that we have discussed the Science, Skin Care, Fashion, and Dishes of the Fall season…we know it is a time of “coming to the end” as we will “lose an hour” (you remember daylight saving…fall backward and Spring forward),  we know that when coming to any “end” you should look back in reflection and reevaluate your past actions and decisions as you look forward to what is new!

The Beauty of Fall…allows one to easily fall in love with Fall!

So, as you walk through the Fall leaves, drink in the fresh crisp air, think not of chemistry; but of the wonderous of creation and of our God and His beautiful handiwork…think of Fall!!!!

Fall is a great time to settle back and reflect on your life!

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Going on vacations with friends is the best way to travel. For example if you over indulge in any manner you have your friends as your chaperone/safe guard, rather than just an assemblage of party-goers or carousers. Friends can ensure your safety and halt you if you go –just a little too far. Party until daylight, dance the night away into day, then eat savory wedges of Pizza at  3AM.  Only to wake in the morning to revel of music playing for  a parade on the Promenade deck!  Later “dress to the nines” in your best for a dinner in a Dining Room filled with opulence of any Formal affair, white crisp linen table cloths and 3 different forks on your left hand side…you are ready for a festive feast!

FYI: Forks for a Formal Dinner are always set on your LEFT, and the placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in an “outside in” order.  For example, according to Emily Post “Etiquette + Encyclopedia = Etipedia”,  outermost fork is the Fish Fork, then the middle fork is the Dinner Fork (which will be the largest fork), and then the Salad Fork.  TIP:  If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

FYI: Dress to the Nines The term “dress to the nines” comes from England when sailing ships were used.  As the ship would come into the harbor all sails would be flying, all nine of  them. And all the sailors would be dressed in dress uniforms lined up on either  side of the ship. The modern connotation is to have put on your finest clothing  and jewelry, almost as if you were being visited by royalty.

Then later relax with old friends and ready to meet new friends in the  Cantilevered Infinity pool .   When night time arrives see what party is on what deck, or visit more than one.

Friends make the vacations, not only fun; but safer.  There is nothing wrong with having a “roaring good time”, but afterall you came to visit the country or island; not to stay and be a permanent resident on a “permanent vacation” (as Connie Francis sang).

Therefore although you want to cut loose and be open to new experiences and new people you should do it using your commonsensical head as well as your spirited heart.

FYI: Cantilvered Pool:  An overhanging pool in relation to the building structure, it is beyond the wall of the structured piece.

FYI: Infinity Pool: An infinity pool is a swimming pool constructed to look like it extends to the horizon with a zero disappearing edge.

             PROS:                                         CONS:

People that will look out for you and have                    No one there for you if you drink too much…         your back in case you drink way too much!                                                                                                                                           
People that will help you in case you spend too          No one there for you when you are need             much!                                                                                   of a small loan…(lol)              
 
The possibility that you may share another group      There is no one to tell you how you “really” look         members’ size, which can increase your wardrobe     in that outfit…(lol)!      exponentially!                                                                                     
 
However, the most important PRO for your CON is that with a group there is someone who loves you and cares enough about you that they will be there to tell you when to “stop” and “slow down”; even if it means you will be upset with them for their straightforwardness, as often occurs when once truth  is spoken…(even truth that hurts to the core).
 

TIP:  Remember vacations are to have fun on; and be fun for ALL that is joining the entire group!  As the Pilot says…LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE!!

 
 
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1.  Since swimming is going to be one activity that you will engage in quite frequently while in the Caribbean; I would suggest that you bring along:

                                                                                 3         Different Swim Wear Options

   

1)      Tankini (this style will enable you to engage in numerous activities, while maintaining a youthful style, perfect for the beaches, try a neutral color with bling or sparkle edging, a two layered brightly colored suit that can disguise a plump tummy, try a tankini with the visual interest of a keyhole or a suit with a skirted bottom that can conceal the “cottage cheese” (aka cellulite) !

   

2)      One Piece Swimsuit (this option can offer you the peace of mind of movement)…perfect for the pool-side use with colorful nautical poka-a-dot playful prints, geometrical lines to enhance your curves,  floucy one shouldered bright red suit or a daring monokini-suits (one with a peek-a-boo cut out with bling it up to the edge !

3)      Bikinis could be an option if you have religiously stuck to your Workout Routine and Diet Program! (from cowgirl fringed, to the ultra popular animal print, a skirted banned bottom to color blocking (a patterned color on top paired with a solid color on the bottom)…perfect for the hot tub/whirl pool nights.

**TIP: Most cruise lines have an “Adult Only” section…away from the screaming and splashing kiddies! So ready yourself to meet new people with interesting conversations and let your swim suit be the ultimate ice breaker!

2.  Get a cover-up to wear on the beaches; also when you are sojourning to the beach-front the cover-up provides a bit of a surprise when you disrobe to reveal your cute suit…like a “ta da!”

   

3.   When you are not in the water the sun in Caribbean will be super-hot and tend to burn…so protect yourself!  Also, wear something to protect your head and hair so pack: a Hat, a Cap and Scarf/Bandana.  Trust me you will be glad you did…the brim will keep that blazing sun away…why not don on a fedora for a retro look, it is stylish and practical (wear a bold color that compliments your outfit)!

  

4.  Sunglasses (important to get ones with UVA protection lenses). Select a style which will work with the shape of your face.  Protect your vision and get relief from eye strain from squinting so much at the sun.  Also, you won’t be so obvious peeping at the fellows (lol)!

oblong face shapeheart-shaped facesquare face shape

  ROUND FACE:                OVAL FACE:                OBLONG FACE:              HEART FACE:             SQUARE FACE:
(full cheekbones;     (balanced forehead,   (long face; narrow      (wide forehead &     (broad  forehead;    narrow  forehead;    cheekbones & jaw)     chin & checks)             checkbones;             square jawbone        and jaw                                                                                                 narrow chin)
  By Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg Photos: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

1. ROUND:  For a round face, choose frames that are equal to or slightly wider than the broadest part of your face. For example, oversized sunglasses will make your face look longer and leaner. Rectangular or angular shapes offset roundness as well, so square shades, cat eyes, sport sunglasses, or wayfarers are perfect for you! Frames to avoid are shield styles and circular shapes; these will add extra width and softness to a round face.  (Example: Selena Gomez)  * AVOID:  Small frames that are out of proportion;  Short frames that accentuate face length.

2. OVALOval face shapes are ideal, because you can basically pull off any type of round or square frame, as long as you keep proportion in mind! Smaller frames look best on petite faces, while larger frames are suited for bigger ones.  (Example: Sarah Jessica Parker)   *AVOID: Frames that are too large for your features.

3.  OBLONG:   Oblong faces are longer than they are wide, so choose a pair of oversized sunglasses. For example, aviators  can help shorten and soften a long face by adding width and dimension. Square-shaped frames with a bit of softness — like a classic pair of wayfarers  — work well, too.  TIP: Don’t forget to play around with patterns and colors: Wear a pair of glasses with décor on the temples or colored sunglasses that pop to make the ultimate style statement   *AVOID:  Small frames that are out of proportion; Short frames that accentuate face length.

4.  HEART:  A heart-shaped or triangle-shapedface is characterized by a wide forehead and pointed chin. Super popular cat eye and butterfly designs help to balance a narrow jaw line with upswept, wide angles at the top of the frames. Generally, any frames that are wider on the top than the bottom work well, as they minimize the forehead’s width, help balance the face, and draw the eye upwards. Wayfarer and sport frames work perfectly to this effect, too! (Example: Reese Witherspoon)   *AVOID: Top-heavy styles that draw attention upward; Decorative temples that accentuate the broad upper face.

5. SQUARE:  A square face is characterized by a strong, rectangular jaw line, a wide forehead, and wide cheekbones. To soften these angular features, opt for glasses with soft lines or rimless edges, like chic round, classic aviator, or sexy shield frames. Cat eyes also work well on square shapes because they soften and add intriguing dimension to these features (Example: Lea Michele)    *AVOID: Geometric and square shaped frames that accentuate angles of the face; Low-set temples or color accents on the bottom of the frames that draw emphasis to the chin.

* IF YOU ARE STILL CONFUSED AS TO THE SHAPE OF “YOUR” FACE…TAKE A LOOK AT THESE CELEBRITIES…WHICH ONE MOST RESEMBLE YOUR FACE SHAPE?

    
               ROUND SHAPED                                OVAL SHAPED                                   OBLONG SHAPED
 
 
               HEART  SHAPED                                                      SQUARE SHAPED 
5)  Make sure to pack THE SWIM ESSENTIAL FOR FUN:  Swim Goggles (especially if you would like to look underwater in the Atlantic Ocean  and the Caribbean Seas…and that is one thing you would not want to miss).  Pack a large Beach Towel (for you and a guest that may have forgotten that Beach Towel) and Beach Bag to carry your Suntan Lotion/Sunblock, Beach Towel, Bottled Water, Water-proof Camera, and Wallet…when travelling to the beaches. As with most cruise lines to prevent “stow-a-ways you need to show your ID or Set-Sail Card to re-board the Ship make sure this is in with your items.  Also, although the cruise line provides towels while on board…you are on the island beaches now, and they may charge you to carry them when you leave the ship (TIP: the sand will be VERY HOT in July so lay out on a cool brightly colored towel deflecting the rays of the sun.
WHILE YOU ARE ON THE BEACHES IN THE OCEAN OR THE SEA….

USE YOUR GOGGLES TO “SEE” THE “SEA” !             SHOT OF THE BEAUTY OF THE OCEAN  BLUE!      

    

LAYING ON A RAINBOW COLORED BEACH TOWEL..don’t forget the sunblock!

BAG IT ALL UP BEFORE YOU ARE HEADED OFF TO THE BEACH…BELOW ARE A FEW ITEMS

  

Always have a few single dollar bills, your SetSail Pass, Picture ID, and your Compass Pass to see the activities.

6.  Get a few pairs of flip-flops the type that you place between the big toes, (like the picture to your bottom left), for the beaches…the rubber or plastics flip-flops are easier to rinse off the sand after leaving the beach front.  Also, a pair that you can slip at pool-side that is dressier, ones that you can wear with your cute sundresses and at the Causal Dinners (like the pictures in the middle)! This is the perfect time to have fun in water sports.  why not pack footwear that is fun and safe for waterskiing and jetting across the waves!

Time to  invest in a professional manicure & pedicure before you sail…cute shoes are more attractive with cute toes…the more natural colors are so “in” …but you can still add a little bling-bling  or art to have a more festive look while you are on vacation.

Short Nail Designs,nail designs,nail polish,nail art,nails,nails designs,nail design,nail art designs

say peek-a-boo as you show your pretty pedicure coming out of thee blue!

…go for a clean “french manicure”  or dress it up with the details.

French Manicure                    Pastel Gel                                   Black Flower Child

As with anything good…the importance is in the details.  If you are planning to wear light, cute and fashionable outfits you may want to “polish” it up with light and pretty art.  Dark and deep colors may not as appropriate for the tropical. breezy and tranquil Caribbeans!…just look at the photo in the center, bright fresh colors “pop” to the surface in the water (lol)!

7.  Pack a few Lip Balms to protect your lips from the sun (get the type with a least 30 SPF sunscreen).  Healthy lips look nice…sun-dried is good for raisin, but not ladies lips.  Cracked lips are not the style for a woman on one of the top quality cruise lines according Travel Destination Magazine!  It will be the hottest time of the month so your “saliva “is NOT going to work to keep them lips looking supple (#truth)…try Higher End Department Stores  brands:  Kiehls, Philosophy, Nars, Origins, Clinique or some Affordable Drug Store over the counter brands: Neutrogena and Aveeno.

8) Get sun protection for your Face and Body too….you can still get that dark tan look; but you should protect yourself from getting burnt and red (not cool).  Getting deep brown and tanned in a “healthy” manner is not only beautiful but prevents skin cancer and is therefore beautifully “intelligent” too!

9) Get a good set of Cleanser/Exfoliate, Astringent/Toner, and Moisturizer/Emollient for your face. (Don’t cheat your skin, you are worth the investment)! I know you are such a smart ladies so it is time to STOP using bar soap on that pretty face and use a 3-STEP treatment according to whether you have Dry, Oily or Combination skin type … be a woman who is wise about their skin STAYING in good condition for years and years to come).  A woman with BEAUTIFUL skin, unless she is born with it, which is by “nature”, did something to…get it, and keep it that way…which is by “nurture”.  Therefore that care of your skin and invest in a quality sunblock or sunscreen lotion.

                              Cleanse/Exfoilate

Begin by using GREAT products with GREAT tools.   The Clarisonic Skin Cleaning System uses a  patented
sonic frequency or more than 300 movements per seconds to clean, soften and smooth skin. In just 6O
seconds, the micro-massage action removes 6X  more makeup and 2X more dirt and oil than cleansing
with your hands alone. Removing more dirt and oil from your pores also helps products work more
effectively.

                             Astringent/Tone

Try using an oval cotton pad it is the perfect accompaniment for a meticulous cleaned skin.

The fine particles of these oval exfoliating pad removes dead skin cells of the face, neck and
body very gently.  The shape works better than the round or the square.  The absorbancy is
more efficient than the cotton balls.

                             Moisturize/Protect

Leave skin dewy don’t dry too much; Wash hands well.  Open your moisturizer
and gingerly dab (with your left ring-finger) the cream on your forehead, cheek bones,
and nose, then chin.  Massage it in fully until it is absorbed completely.  Chin up and dab the
mositurizer on your neck, ears and shoulders.
11. Get a Body Wash for your body (Body Washes help keeps your skin in good condition: it  looks nice,  smells good, and maintains your healthy skin, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and everywhere in between (lol).  Try the layering approach to skin care…1. Use a SCENTED BODY WASH 2. Apply SCENTED BODY LOTION 3.  Spray a SCENTED BODY MIST these steps gives your body a layered scent try using products from The Bath and Body Shop; the scent you select will linger all evening long. ..yummy!
                         

Try skin brushing. This technique is very simple and relatively inexpensive.  Simply use a loofah sponge or a soft body brush and scrub your hips, thighs and  belly. This not only helps you to exfoliate, but it also stimulates blood flow and  supports lymph functions. This will help to minimize the appearance of  cellulite.  Maintain a daily dry brushing routine for at least 5 months to achieve maximum  results.  Pack a Loofah Puff or Mitt to wash…scrub scrub. A well-scrubbed surface allows you to have a more dark deep even tan faster than with a washcloth.

TIP:  I would suggest that a loofah is better than using a cloth washcloth because loofahs actually exfoliate the skin removing loose and dead skin particles. This makes your skin cleaner and has a healthy radiance.  It also better prepares the skin for applying lotions, creams, and gels!

11.  Be sure to pack a “new” Tooth brush (at a minimum, you should change your toothbrush every 3 months). Don’t forget because poor oral health can have a negative impact on physical health. Toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for germs, fungus and bacteria, which after a while can build up to significant levels. After using your toothbrush, shake it vigorously under tap water and store it in an upright position so that it can air out. FYI: It is known that “soft” bristles are better for your gums, not hard or medium.  Soft circular motion is better than “back & forth” or “up & down”.

FYI: A Cute Comestic bag helps you carry all essentials in one easy carry while in that limited space of the bathroom (I snag the one on the right on ebay for a few bucks!).

TIP: How can you protect your toothbrush when traveling? Answer: A plastic toothbrush case will protect toothbrush bristles from becoming squashed or flattened in your traveling kit. After brushing, however, you should let your toothbrush dry in the open air, to help reduce the spread of germs. (also pack it in a Ziploc/Hefty  bag in case of “accidental spillage…yuck).

12.  Pack deodorant (women’s Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant it comes in different scents, including a hypoallergenic version for those with sensitive skin.  TIP: A waterproof version is also available.) …bring a female razor to keep the hairs in check from your wax job (…underarms, legs, and not to forget the bikini area…after all you will want to have freedom of sitting akimbo on the chaise lounge chair at pool front):

FYI:  akimbo comes from the Icelandic phrase in keng boginn, “bent into a crook”, and creatively used to describe sitting cross-legged.  (…or called sitting “Indian-styled).

FYI: Chaise Lounge a chair that is long enough to support the legs.             FYI: women sitting legs akimbo!

TIP: The brand pictured has the ability to safely shave the bikini area as well!  NOTE: if possible get a “waxing”

               FYI: Pictured is a photo of a chaise lounge

13.  Pack a fragrance for those special times you want to give out a special memory.

Black Cologne for Dinners and going out to the Dances and Parties! (This one has dark and sultry sent that will marry well with those dark and hypnotic Caribbean Nights)!

Heat Rush is a sweet and sugary sent for the daytime or morning (wakes up the sensation of day in bloom)!

14.  Be sure to pack your comb and brush combo…throw in any hair gel, sprays, or creams that help your do survive the humidity of Caribbean weather!  Now that we have the freedom of Cornrows, French Braids, Weaves, Wigs and Hair pieces, and the list can go on and on…my only tip here will be choice a style and color that is versatile in which you can let it flow for the Evening; put it in a chignon bun (A chignon, pronounced “sheen-yon,” is a popular type of French bun)…during the day for water activities  and other sports while staying current and beautiful.  Take the hair off your back during this hot climate but stay chic!  TIP: BRING SCRUNCHIES, HAIR BANDS, HAIR BARRETTES, HAIR SCARVES, ETC

A   chignon  works with any hair texture and any ethinic background

   

Afrian American/Black  Sistas                                                Hispanic/Latina Chicas

   

Asian Chicks                                                                                           Caucasian  Girls

How to RE-create this look…

    • Create a deep side part. Separate one section in the front and split into 3.
    • Start with a french braid toward the back center of the head.
    • French braid until you are even with the ear and braid the rest of the hair  normally.
    • Seal off with a hair elastic. Tie the rest of your hair and hold it into a low ponytail.
    • Use your fingers to make a little opening in the middle, pull the ponytail through it.
    • Grab your tail, pull it again it in the little pocket to making a half loop.
    • Dont pull all your hair down all the way through, letting the end.
    • Divide the end of the hair into 2 section and wrap around the loop and pin in place with hair pin.
    • Pull back the braid and wrap around your chignon, secure with bobby pin in place.

   

  

HairStyles-MakeOver.com

ROCK these looks for most days: relaxed light colored shorts, miniskirts, capris and long flowy skirts that can be paired with colored blouses,

shirts that can be spaghetti straps, t-shits, capped sleeves, short sleeves, quartered sleeves, and long sleeves.   

TIP: Please leave behind the Daisy Dukes and Tube Tops…this is a classy cruise after all (lol).

    Summer Vacation Embellished Shorts and Tank Look

Shorts are the call for the leisurely days while on vacation; great thing is that you can dress than up with a paisley printed
silk blouse and belt with chunky heals pictured to your left), toss on a denim blue jean shorts with a relaxed jersey bejeweled
collar sleeveless shirt or dress it down shorts with a tye-dyed  inspired T -Shirt (pictured right).
   
Bermunda Shorts are always a classic look; wear a linen, denim or cotton pair.  Which ever you select, make sure to wear a crisp
top to compliment.  Also, you can opt to wear heels or flat sandals, depending on the activity of the day of your vacation.  This look is
great for those who have not yet had time to work on those thighs…can anyonw say “cellulite”.
FYI:Bermuda Shorts are shorts that are worn in a semi casual attire by men and women, they sit around one inch above the knee.
 
A pair of Full-Length Pants can be used in many different ways and with many different looks.  Dress up a flared pant
with a chic top and clutch purse.  Also, you can don a bright skinny pants with a bright color to block out the color of the pant.
 Loud and proud colour combinations make for a dynamic, confident look (Middle photo).  For the walk-about throw on a pair
of easy capris pant with a matching graphic tee.
FYI: Capri Pants (capris) are a style of pants usually worn in warm weather. They are designed to end mid-calf or just below the calf.

  

Skirts are ideal in any length as well for your summer vacation wear.  Slip on a striped bright mini skirt with a bold color figure hugging tee;
allow the tee to compliment the mini, then layer it with  a diaphanous top to emphasis your first layered tee.  Why not Shimmy into an above
the knee mid-length skirt that is a bold color and a bright white quarter length skirt, the length and the color will work when you visit exciting locales!
For those midnight cocktails slip into a fluncy long skirt o To me, this dress is the perfect representation of the early Mod era. It is trendy for the time,
but not out date…perfect for a classy relaxed date on deck!
TIP: Purchase a Cross-Over Purse; this allows you an  “arms-free” experience while still maintaining the ability to have cash, passport,                                                                                                                     and
 stateroom key/SetSail Pass, within a quick access if necessary.  Like the first one pictured below (I got it for a steal on ebay)!
       
…the above are the various styles and look o your crossbody purse, as you can see, it can be worn with various styles and looks.
 
 …also consider bringing along an “oversized” bag…or a backpack style purse, which allows you that “hands-free” movement you may need
while going through the martetplaces or towns while meandering downtown or trekking through the wildlife on the islands.

If you opt out of getting a crossover purse…I suggest either a backpack purse or any slouchy bag you can carry your accoutrements (FYI: accoutrements: an accessory or piece of equipment associated with a specific object, task or role.)

Hey all the Single Ladies: yes there will be Night Clubs and Bars and other themed Parties on board to Mix & Mingle and Stir.  So, bring your party gear of party dresses and heels!  No need to show pictures here…you know what I am “talkin’ ‘bot” (sic).

FYI: The adverb sic – means “intentionally so written”. This is used when you want to misspell words. (personally I abhor slang and shorten words)

  

Catch Zzzs in your Short & Tee * Dress down in your Night Dress  *  Say ‘Nighty-Night’ in your Pant & Night Shirt

Psst…do NOT forget the “baby doll” (ooh la la)

there is always a chance for Romance at Seas (lol)

For the Dinners in the Main Dining Room …there will be 3 types

3 Nights for: Causal,   1 Night for: Smart Causal and   2 Nights for: Formal

Remember, shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits are not considered appropriate attire in the Dining Rooms at dinner. Casual dress dining is available nightly in the Windjammer Cafe. And be aware you’ll also need smart casual attire for some of our specialty restaurants.

CASUAL DINNERS

 

1. Casual:     PACK:   Sport Shirts and Slacks for men, Sundresses or Dress Pants & Blouse Outfits for women. Those dressier sandals are apropos for this event!

SMART CASUAL DINNERS

  1. Smart Casual:     PACK:  Sport Jackets and Ties for men, Dresses or Pantsuits Outfits for women. Kitten heels are fine for this dinner (FYI: A kitten heel is a short, slender heel, usually (1.5 inches) to (1.75 inches) high.

FORMAL DINNERS

 

  3.   Formal:     PACK:   Suits and Ties or Tuxedos for men, Cocktail Dresses or Formal Gowns for women

P.S. do not forget to bring your higher heels. (bring along your heels with you when you select your Formal Outfit, this gives you a more real idea of how your gown will fit and drape the floor).

EXTRA TIPS:

1).  Have single dollars bills handy to tip the individuals carrying your luggage and loading them on the Shuttle Bus (remember you can “ check-in” 2 free pieces onboard  and have  1 “carry-on” …TSA approved of course)  according to Southwest Airlines

2) . Bring gum to chew for the decompression on board the Airplane.

3).  Bring extra cash to buy your family and friends’ souvenirs (…Let your memories be theirs too).

4).  Bring a digital camera to take lots of pictures and videos (get a Memory card the standard card is capable of storing a wide range of data files, such as audio and video clips, images, and text documents.  In general, the memory card makes use of flash memory in order to maintain the integrity of the files loaded onto the card.  Now you can get one  from 2 to one with 64GB (gigabyte) of storage capacity (that  is like 12,230 photos or 480 minutes of video taping or 545 hours and 8 minutes.

5).  Binoculars are another often forgotten, yet indispensable travel item. Be sure to pack a pair for magnified excitement onboard and onshore.

6).  Your cell phone will probably not work or the price of sending message may be VERY expensive so check with your Cell carrier.

7).  Check with your Banking Institution to inform them you are on an “international vacation”….for your protection, some banks place a hold on your card as “theft protection” when they detect unusual spending.

8).  You may become ill from eating strange exotic foods and partying the night away; so pack: Alka-Seltzer, Pepto-Bismol, Milk of Magnesia and Aleve Pain Reliever…no time to take a night off to recuperate!

9).  I am not sure what you are looking for on this cruise so bring “protection” too (after all you some of you are  single ladies not currently in relationships,  going to locations with mucho attractive men…so be prepared just in case).

10). Bring one of those Travel Toilette Bags (comb, toothbrush, nail clippers, razor, file, scissors (less than 4”) etc.; that will make you all the more prepared when it is your turn to get ready in the morning, or for Dinner, and not to inconvenient your Cabin mate who you are sharing a room and only 1 bathroom.

11). Purchase s few of those Luggage Tags (this will be invaluable if your bags are lost or misdirected). While you are at it, get a Passport Cover (this makes it more difficult to misplace and easier to identify in a pile).

12). Take a picture of your packed suitcase and keep all receipts of purchases (for insurance purpose or in case you need to file a claim with the Airline).  Place a sheet of paper of your final destination inside of your suitcase, to make it easier to get it to you in case of lost luggage!

13).  If you are sharing staterooms…be a good roommate and do the “courtesy flush” (FYI: courtesy flush is the act of flushing a toilet several times before or after defecation to reduce smells or the risk of clogs or floaters…)

….Please take the advantage of these suggestions that I have offered about these tips…I am living proof that it can help make your vacations that more stress-free (after all vacations are a time to de-stress and have good times; which will make wonderful memories with family, old friends, and the new ones you are sure to meet).

Most importantly bring your fun personality and warm smile.  There may be things that do not go as planned while cruising or someone may get you irritated at times…but enjoy the ride while enjoying your life…life can be short an fleeting!.  Hey, book an Excursion (SOMETHING DIFFERENT) go on the same one as your friends and group, this is a once in a life time experience so experience it to the fullest!!!!  ….as they French would say Bon Voyage!

 FYI: Bon Voyage is a French phrase borrowed into English meaning, literally, “good journey, and usually translated as meaning “have a good trip”!

 

LAST TIP…PLEASE DO NOT PEGGED TO BE THE COMPLAINER OF THE GROUP…EVERYTHING DOES NOT ALWAYS GO AS PLANNED AND THERE MAY BE FOODS, DRINKS AND ACTIVITIES YOU DO NOT LIKE OR CARE FOR;  BUT YOU DO NOT WANT OTHER COMPLAINING, THAT YOU COMPLAIN TOO MUCH (AND TRUST ME THEY WILL…) last last tip: if you love complaining it is suggested that you go on a vacation planned, booked, and coordinated “by yourself”…that way it will ALL be perfect!…LOLOLOL

Link

What is HOT and what is NOT!!..

When you are addressing the ever probing question, what is hot and what is not?; \you really are telling others what you like and what you do not like any longer.  It could mean anything from an exciting place to visit or vacation, to a fashion statement or faux pas.  Therefore, what do I personally think is HOT and what do I believe as NOT is as follows:

However, let us begin with one disclaimer:  This article is written not necessarily to tell one what to do, eat, or wear; but only what I like to do, eat or wear (Therefore,  please do not take offensive if you are committing any of these crimes of “NOTNESS”….

Now, let us begin, for example with the ideal of “ going green what is HOT about the color green?  Other than green being one of the primary colors of the spectrum, it is the mixture of the two primary colors of the spectrum Blue and Yellow, and can be tinted by adding the color white ; it also symbolizes “harmony” and “balance”.  These days, the phrase “going green” is attributed to being ecologically conscious.

FYI: The Colors of the Spectrum was first observed by Roger Bacon, and later in the 17th century written about by Isaac Newton in his book Opticks.

FYI: Did you know that there are over “forty shades of  the color Green” (well according to a song sung by Country singer (song-writer, author, and actor) Johnny Cash; while on a trip to Ireland, he witnessed all shades of green.

One of the best example of “going green” refers to motor vehicles.  The SMART CAR is not only HOT; but literally smart, why is it smart?; because its, according to an article I researched, conscious of the environment.  The “”Hybrid Technologies” plans to sell an electric version of the Smart vehicle in the U.S. starting at US$35,000. It is being called a hybrid car even though the vehicle is all-electric. The electric Smart car will have a range of 120 to 150 miles (190–240 km), a top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h), and charge in 5 to 6 hours using a standard 120 VAC outlet. An electric Smart is currently undergoing testing in the UK and will only be offered to commercial clients as a trial for the time being.[36][37] The electric model is scheduled for a U.S. release for the 2012 model year with some test market cars surfacing in 4th quarter 2010.”

….so does size really matters?  When it relates to fuel efficiency, safety regulations for your family and style ?!  Yes, with the added bonus of the new HOTNESS is to be ecologically conscious as to our green earth….

FYI: Ecologically consciousness basically implies that one keep in mind that their actions, thoughts, and deeds are dedicated to the “Protection of nature and its resources”

As opposed to the Smart car the Hummer is noted to have ” Poor fuel economy, even compared to other heavy passenger vehicles, Hummers without the Diesel engine options have very poor fuel economy. Because the H2 is built to the over-8500-lb GVW class, its fuel economy is neither published by the U.S. EPA nor counted toward Corporate Average Fuel Economy.[38] For instance, H2 in one engine configuration averages about 14 mpg-US (17 L/100 km; 17 mpg-imp) on highways, 10 mpg-US (24 L/100 km; 12 mpg-imp) in the city.  In other words, the Hummer is a gas-guzzler, thereby being not very “smart” to purchase if you are interested in saving money or the environment. In general, cars are bad for the environment because they release bad toxins or fumes into the air. Basically, when a car starts, it gives off exhaust.  Also, many cars use gas, a non-renewable resource, they release carbon monoxide which destroys the environment. They also release carbon dioxide  (CO 2: It consists of simple molecules, each of which has one carbon and two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. ) which is the gas that creates a greenhouse effect trapping the heat in the atmosphere…It pollutes the air, releasing carbon monoxide ((CO) is a colorless, practically odorless, and tasteless gas or liquid. It results from incomplete oxidation of carbon in combustion.), which deplete the ozone layer thus causes global warming.  Therefore, larger cars equal larger damages, to the environment which is definitely NOT HOT!!

Now, that social networking is as popular as texting on your cell phone ( it is almost the equivalent to texting or SMS; but on your computer)…I would say that the new social network hotness is by Google.

FYI: SMS is an acronym for “Short Message Service”.

Now, joining the social media of AOL, YAHOO, MSN and BBM is GOOGLE+ . it is not only fun but a practical method to keep in touch with family, friends, Co-workers, and business acquaintances!

…adding to your circle on Google+” is super cool and thereby HOT;….

       

What is old and woeful is bemoaning about your failed relationships (either of a boyfriend or girlfriend who is just not that into you) on “facebook”  NOT. Now is a good time to become empowered by life & love lessons; use a break-up as a way to place your life into a new perspective.  This is a time to re-evaluate your priorities;  take a new class, begin a new project that will enhance your career, personal life, or family.  Focus on others instead of stressing about “why doesn’t  s/he “love” me anymore, or did they ever truly?!  Get more in touch with the One that loves you GOD (let Him be your primary focus and become even more than ever concerned in making Him pleased and happy)!  Crying about lost love publicly unless it is a poem or “cautionary tale” NOT NOT hot!‎

   
I ask my friends, question yourself honestly,  “is that the same person that will run to you. if they WIN the lottery or some other Grand Prize,  with the same speed as if they needed to borrow something, huh???

Dining on a salad at “Salad Creations” especially a Salmon Ceaser Salad, yummy and  HOT;….eating a salad anywhere with iceberg lettuce NOT as Hot and as healthy for you.

 

Did you know that there is a difference in the nutritional quality of Iceberg and Romaine lettuce?  Iceberg lettuce is the more common type you find in salads, shown below, and is the type used most often in sandwiches. – that is, until now! Romaine lettuce (shown above to your left) is being increasingly used these days. It is darker green in color, and a smaller leaf.  Although, both types are low in calories (8 calories per cup), but when it comes to micronutrients, romaine lettuce has a leg up on it’s iceberg cousin. The following table lists the food facts for a cup of iceberg and one of my all-time favorite, romaine lettuce.   Good health always HOT!   Refusing to change your eating habits over taste NOT!

 

ICEBERG ROMAINE
Calories:        8 Calories:      8
Protein          0.5g Protein         0.5g
Fiber              0.7g Fiber:            1.0g
Calcium       10mg Calcium      16mg
Potassium    78mg                                                                   Potassium 116mg
Vitamin C     1.5mg Vitamin C     11.3mg
Folate           16mcg                                                                Folate              64mcg
Vitamin K     13.3mcg                                                                 Vitamin K      48.2mcg
Beta carotene 164mcg                                                             Beta Carotene 1637mcg
Glutein+zeaxanthin 152 mcg                                                  Glutein+zeaxanthin 1087 mcg

One of my favorite markets for fresh vegetables and Fruits is Whole Foods Market in Naperville, you can find me and my family there around most holidays (lol) !   The wonderful thing about Whole Foods Market is that they are committed to bringing to their customer an extremely wide variety of Fresh, Organic, and Innovative arry of foods both form Local Farmers and International Markets.

Wearing Hudson jeans skinny stretch jeans in any brightly colored wash with wedges wash HOT…wearing daisy dukes shorts with stiletto sandals after the age 31 (especially with Cellulite )  NOT

  

I just love these jeans with their distinctive back pocket design…it helps those with a “not-so” perky booty appear a bit perked (LOL)!

 

…as the story goes there is a time “you got to know when to let go” (LOL)!

 

August Rodin, French – (1840-1917)
“Rodin has been appreciated for decades as one of the pre-eminent Realist sculptors of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century. 
Rodin’s goal, as he put it, was “to render inner feelings through muscular movement.” He achieved this aim by joining his profound knowledge of anatomy and movement with special attention to the body’s surfaces, saying, “The sculptor must learn to reproduce the surface, which means all that vibrates on the surface, soul, love, passion, life…Sculpture is thus the art of hollows and mounds, not of smoothness, or even polished planes.” To this end, his detailed modeling and energetic poses are strikingly vigorous and lifelike…even one hundred years after they were created!”
The Kiss Sculpture was inspired by Dante’s tale of Paolo and Francesca, lovers entwined for eternity in the Inferno, this statue was initially part of Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Of the many couples sculpted during his tumultuous liaison with Camille Claudel, The Kiss is the most sensuous. The poet Rilke compared it to “a sun that rises and floods all with its light.”
One of the original castings of Rodin’s The Kiss resides at The Baltimore Museum of Art. Wrote the poet Rainer Maria Rilke of this masterpiece: “One has the impression of seeing the delight of this kiss all over these bodies; it is like a sun which rises and its light is everywhere.”
By Tom Irvine

What is deliciously HOT Chewing Extra spearmint flavored gum before “french kissing”  red HOT;…smoking or drinking beer before kissing NOT so appetizing (yuke)!

            

on the same note…ROMANCE …always H O T!  Simple sweet pda (Public Displays of Attention) is always so exciting with the

right person who does it tastefully, respectfully and most important playfully (oh là mon chéri)!

FYI: Oh là là mon chéri: Ma chérie/ Mon chéri means Dear, Darling, Sweetheart. [My Cherished one] Cher- means expensive in the  French language .  Further,  mon chéri” if the object of affection is male or “ma chéri” if said to a female 😉  On a personal note, I once had a French boyfriend and I must say that his French expressions of endearment were very beautiful “Oh là là“….EVERSO   H<3T

This Spring nail color that is fresh and almost nude in tone (with American-white tips) trimmed at a functional length–HOT; wearing very long neon colors NOT anymore!

     

 HINT:    tastefully nail art is hot too (the ring finger and thumb are popular fingers to apply your artful expression).

   

or use the technique termed “fanning” if you have “no nail tips”, like me (lol).

FYI: “Fanning” the nail means that you are running the contrasting color (with French or American Tip: white/offwhite) polish across the  area were the nail tip should appear…

TIP: According to Glamour magazine article about Nail Trends:

10 Big Nail Trends to Try From Spring 2012 Fashion  Week

Read More http://www.glamour.com/beauty/2011/09/10-big-nail-trends-to-try-from-spring-2012-fashion-week#ixzz1qcPJeyDS

The soft, whimsical pairing of Demure Vixen & Au Natural complements the delicate and airy creations of Zac Posen is known for,” said Essie manicure Elle. “There’s nothing more chic or lady-like than a natural, nude nail. The multi-dimensional tones in these two shades work in tandem to bring this timeless look to new heights. Matchy matchy is making a comeback in a whole sophisticated new way,” said founder Essie Weingarten.

* new look if you dare… BLINGED OUT NAILS!!!

… and don’t forget the tootsy toes nails too!

What is HOT is traveling to the isle of Rotoan (near Honduras)

 

What is NOT vacationing in the same locale year after year…be adventerous!

    

…if you do decide to go and lay your limbs on the beaches of the Isle (Island) of Rotoan then please try to bring cute swim wear that will not only compliment the beach but your HOT body too!

Wearing a “Tankini” that holds you in place and covers most of your tummy  HOT!  The right Tankini can flatter all figures…Bright bold colors, patterns, or ruffles are all cute options.

wearing string bikinis that can not hide a secrets… NOT…your body may have changed when you were 18…but what should NOT change is your style and taste!!!

…in this sense size does NOT matter…just because you are super thin does not mean that you can wear “whatever” style of bikini on the rack…sorry but we have to see you too (lol)!

I am happy to say that words that you can use in your in your College thesis statement are now HOT and words such as “like” and “OMG” are NOT  for example…

Young Lady: “I had the opportunity to read a book I never normally would have purchased; and I enjoyed it from cover to cover.”

HOT — an Educated woman and one who speaks in an educated manner — always  H O T!  On the other hand if you are NOT challenging yourself in what you read, listen to or watch you will have a difficult time improving your communication skills.

Girl: “…like I read this book and like I thought OMG it is like the best thing I like ever read.”

NOT so hot!

TIP: Begin reading to your children at an early age will help improve “their” reading later in their life.

FYI: The more young children are read to, the greater their interest in mastering reading. Reading out loud exposes children to proper grammar and phrasing. It enhances the development of their spoken language skills, their ability to express themselves verbally  According the U.S. Department of Education:

Why is Reading Aloud to Children Important?

It helps them acquire the information and skills they need in life, such as:

  • Knowledge of printed letters and words, and the relationship between sound and print.
  • The meaning of many words.
  • How books work, and a variety of writing styles.
  • The world in which they live.
  • The difference between written language and everyday conversation.
  • The pleasure of reading.

having a sport or anything to stay mentally sharp and healthy…HOT

 

…most of these pictures I morally refused to post –anyone breeding, using or enjoying dogs for a sport in “dog fights” NOT  ( on some level one must be very mentally and emotionally disturbed to enjoy this as entertainment or sport 😦 VERY SAD FACE.

Love is HOT, and being capable to love and being able to receive LOVE from others…smoking HOT

NOT so hot: HATE………………………………………………………………. or indifference of and to others…

TIP: Love is vital for our survival as a Human race!  Loving others is the way we show charity to those in need, and the tool in which we can use to fight Racism, Sexism, and other forms of intolerance, hate and ndifference….as the singing group  en vogue bellowed “FREE YOUR MIND AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW BE COLOR BLIND DON’T BE SO SHALLOW!”  the words are HOT and the group of ladies are HOTTIES!

What is now HOT are the more demure  and modest makeup application and stylish in vogue hairstyle…what is NOT is heavy handed or “over the top” garish makeup and hair…even in the “club”

When it comes to hair ,what is HOT and what is NOT, can  most often depend on what enhances your face shape and bone structure….other than that; what flatters you is how you can wear your style with confidence and coolness.  Hair can be worn in any lengths whether you decide to “add”; with a weave or “detach”; with a short wig or cut …you are the artist look to the 3 C(s) (Color, Cut, and Curling Iron (lol)!

THE LONG OF IT…

.

..AND THE SHORT OF IT

whether you decide to opt to a simple bob

…or rather you rock a mohawk-afro

do it with confidence…even if you add pieces of weave, extensions, or a wig…stand up tall, chest out, shoulders back”, and smile bright on!….you go girl—you are HOT!!   There is actually nothing that can be considered NOT except if you do “not” want to experiment or are afraid of trying something new that you have not tried before…thus, having low self-esteem and fearful of what other may think of you…NOT !!

YES!!! I am one chica who loves make-up on myself as well as on others.  I understand that a great  “face”  begins with great skin care…but when it is time to application:  “apply with care“.

…although it may look great of Ga Ga, Nicki, and the icon Cher lots and lots of  cosmetics can be striking….but on you….maybe NOT so much; after all that is their shtick therefore keep it “real”.

FYI: A shtick (Yiddish: שטיק) (or schtick) is a comic theme or gimmick. “Shtick” is derived from the Yiddish word shtik (שטיק), meaning “piece”; the closely related German word Stück has the same meaning. The English word “piece” itself is also sometimes used in a similar context. Another variant is “bits of business” or just “bits”; comic mannerisms    A shtick can also refer to an adopted persona, usually for comedy performances, that is maintained consistently (though not necessarily exclusively) across the performer’s career. In this usage, the recurring personalities adopted by Laurel and Hardy through all of their many comedy films (despite the fact that they often played characters with different names and professions) would qualify as their shtick. A comedian might maintain several different shticks of this sort, particularly if they appear in a variety show that encourages them to develop multiple characters, such as Saturday Night Live.

Please do not get me wrong, as I wrote before “I love makeupas well as the next nina.  Also, I am not one of those chicks who believe when a guy utters to a lady “I like it when you don’t wear  makeup…I like that natural look on you”—–PLEASE ladies do not buy this; wear makeup to enhance “your” look not his will!  Trust…when you are not there, and for some ladies–even when you are…he “stares down those women wearing makeup !

  

 

I love love love my Clarisonic Plus in the limited edition “Lavender Blossom” design…it is great tool to cleanse the skin and sloush away those old and dead skin cells lazily sleeping atop your younger newer  skin cells.   I own the Body brush (for the body, on the left middle picture) and the  Deep Pore brush (for the face, neck and décolleté, on the right of the same picture).  I like products that are natural with very little chemicals (Aveeno, bliss, Clarins, Clinique, DDF, Fresh,  Neutrogena, Origins, Peter Thomas Roth,  and Philosophy…just to name a few ROTFL (Rolling On The Floor Laughing)

FYI: Décolletage (or décolleté, its adjectival form, in current French) is the upper part of a woman’s torso, between her waist and neck, comprising her neck, shoulders, back and chest, that is exposed by the style of her clothing. However, the term is most commonly applied to a neckline which reveals or emphasizes cleavage .

Again ladies invest money in GREAT Skin Care products some may be a little expensive; but if you shop on-line at certain sites like www.sephora.com you are likely to find reasonable pricing unlike paying retail at high end department stores like “Neiman Marcus“.   I happily recommend combining products and urge you to use the best of the best skin care system, in my experience Obagi!  After a great cleanse, exfoliation, and mosturizering, it is important to use a great foundation makeup.  Use makeup that will give you a great sheer coverage of those blemishes that are only between  you and God!

TIP: Philosophy’s supernatural with SPF has an almost “airbrush” appearance; although it may be quite difficult to find the right color for the more “chocolatious sistas”.

FYI:  There are more variant shades of “blackness” than there are shades of “whitness”. According to scientific studies, natural human skin color diversity within populations is highest in Sub-Saharan African populations,[2] with skin reflectance values ranging from 19 to 46 (med. 31) compared with European and East Asian populations which have skin reflectance values of 62 to 69 and 50 to 59 respectively.  Human skin color is primarily due to the presence of melanin in the skin. Skin color ranges from almost black to white with a pinkish tinge due to blood vessels underneath.[1] Variation in natural skin color is mainly due to genetics, although the evolutionary causes are not completely certain.   On a personal note; perhaps that is why it seems so difficult to match foundation coloring because there would be just too many to match (lol)!  For example look below.  I think I am number 32!

*

*Skin colors according to von Luschan scale

What is HOT….loving yourself and others no matter what the color is…what is NOT  “not” loving yourself and others due to the fact of skin color!

Speaking, or rather writing, about color…I LOVE makeup colors that compliment the skin tone, regardless of your color!  My personal brands are the ones below…

         

   , Make Up For Ever, Mary Kay, Benefit, Smashbox, Tarte, Cargo, Urban Decay, Revlon,  Anastasia,  

TIP: you can purchase these more High-End products at outlet stores such as Shepora, Ulta, and makeup Outlet Stores.

TO THE MY MEN, yes skin care such be important to you as well, after all skin is skin and “skin is in”.  For almost any female skin care treatment there is those for males!  I know many males that can handle an easy  Skin Care Regimen!

P.S.  men please take care, or have someone else,  of those strong Hands and sexy Feet too…and why not get a facial too—good Skin Care is not gender specific (lol)!!!

Men taking care of themselves and know that “manscaping”is for the STRONG— so HOT…men that believe it is only for ” metro-men” and are fearful and weak NOT!

According to an article entitled “Keeeping it Neat and Trimmed”, by Dave Alexander, the Uber Masculine guys among us may ask, “You want me to trim WHAT?”   The answer  is, of course, everything from the top of the head down.  Trimming the hair on the chest, back, and nether regions is known today as “manscaping” or “body grooming.” Keeping a neatly trimmed chest, back, shoulders, and more will make you appear cleaner and send the message that you care about grooming.  It is many womens opinion that  your body’s musculature and shape are enhanced when the body hair is well groomed  like tha old adage says according to  Steve Nesle, who spearheaded the Philips Body Groom campaign for marketing agency Tribal DDB, “Trimming the hedges makes the house look bigger.” (hint hint)  ‘Nuff said.

HINT: Guys, the ladies think that men that take care of themselves are super HOTTTTTTTTTT!!!

Ladies, leaning on your girlfriends when you need someone to talk with,  laugh with,  and watch television with,  while  just sitting back feasting on Pop Corn or Pizza is HOT…leaning on one another just to hold each other up, after a night of over drinking and debauchery NOT!

…try ordering Garrett’s Popcorn (try the Cheese and Carmel Mix known as the Chicago Mix in the 3.5 gallon tim can.  If it is a Pizza party order from Giordanos!

what is HOT watching televisions movies with your family or friends…what is NOT watching your good friends getting another DUI!  I enjoy “going out as well too;  but in a fun and safe manner.  I really enjoy going out to listen to good music.

what is NOT hot any longer hardcore rap. especially the type that consistently denigrate the female gneder…even if it is a female dj spinning the vinyl!

what is HOT… although it may be old, but it remains HOT  even today,:”ole’ school hip hop

ALSO WHAT IS HOT ARE FEMALE  DJ(s) that are fully in touch with their “feminine identity” as well as their artistry!

Watching the “Shahs of Sunset” HOT….still watching “Keeping up with the KardashiansNOT (sorry Haley lol).

The Kardashians’ shows must be scripted or contrived somewhat…even real life is not that inane!

What is HOT: education and being a source of inspiration to other young ladies to have careers and financial independence!

What is NOT… uneducated and being uninspired; thereby remaining dependent on others (once you are an adult).

Writing as a form of your expression, learning to play a musical instrument, or learning the historical background while cooking foods from different cultures–HOT!

especially of someones’ name

Using your body as a canvas to express your thoughts, and if you ink someones’ name on your skin, it may  at the time seem  like it is  “forever” HOT but what if…NOT!  Try expressing oneself through other modes; such as learning a new Language, Art or Instrument…noe that is HOT!

Getting tattoos and Body Piercing…if you are part of a biker gang or into wrestlemania” and other certain entertainment field…may be apropos..if not —NOT

FYI: apropos: “fitting; at the right time; to the purpose; opportunely” (dictionary.com).

Dating the “bad boy” or “bad girl” NOT so hot anymore…once you are past the age of 21….

dating and getting serious with a “good guy” who is educated,  kind, and playful HOTTTTT!!!

as to my Young Ladies and Gentlemen: “hanging with the wrong crowd“…NOT HOT!

…hanging out with your friends that are positive, fun, and enlighten and sharing  good laughs  always HOT!

Link

The act of taking photos while on a vacation is akin to trying to capture that moment and tuck it away  for proof that it, that experience-thought-image, did once exist.  Remember the last time you took a photo…the way you felt, that adrenaline that charged through your brain.  THE PREFECT SHOT    …no time to call out to others to “come see”, you have to show them before that moment escapes perhaps forever.

Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned photographer you are passionate for that moment.  Well I know that feeling which is why I post so many photos on my blog.  I want that feeling of joy to spread to others!

I may never write the best seller, appear on the most notable Talk Show studio or fill the rafters of a theatre; but I do hope I can one day move someone with one of my photos (move to smile, tears, deep thoughts, but especially laughter!