Dash for Ireland

If you were to find yourself with the holiday season fast approaching, nowhere in mind to go and you were looking to snap something up at a decent price, you could do a lot worse than choosing to visit Ireland.

With so much to see, do and experience, all wrapped up in that very Irish method of presentation, it’s easy to find inspiration for your eleventh hour getaway. Here are just a few ideas that anyone thinking of last minute deals could take advantage of:

Guinness Brewery
It’s an obvious one but taking a tour of the factory where Ireland’s most famous export is made provides some appreciative insight into the mindset of the Irish: their patience, commitment to craftsmanship and, of course, their love of a cheeky drop!
The Guinness brewery offers tours that can be booked online, which is worth doing to avoid the long queues to get in. In addition, the visit ends with a chance to sample some of the black stuff as you’ll no doubt have worked up a thirst by the time you’ve been shown around.

Blarney Castle
The ancestral seat of the McCarthy clan, the castle is over 600 years old and is one of the most popular sites on the Emerald Isle. Doubtless you’ve heard of the tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone, which is a rock otherwise known as the Stone of Eloquence. Legend has it that all who do so will never again be lost for words for the rest of their lives. It’s a handy skill to have!

Waterford Crystal
More cultural pursuits can be found at the home of Waterford Crystal, the world famous glass makers who will give you a tour of the factory where you can watch the beautiful glass been made in front of you; from the making of the mould, the glass blowing all the way through to the finished piece being cut, sculpted and engraved.

Sporting pursuits
Ireland has its own unique sporting events. They’re an experience in themselves. Hurling and Gaelic football are ferocious games and not for the faint hearted but take some beating as a spectacle.

Nightlife
The Irish nightlife is legendary and attempts to copy ‘the craic’ can be seen worldwide as energetic cities take their cue from Ireland. The best places to visit for evening entertainment are Dublin and Limerick, but every town will have its pubs offering friendly, welcoming fun and plenty of tall tales being told.

Ireland is packed full of things to do, see and places to go. Plan carefully but be prepared to detour to investigate the glorious landscape as you travel through. Yet, the best part of the country is the people, who are warm, funny, welcoming and kind. Their view on the world makes any trip worthwhile.

Cut Costs on a Road Trip by Driving a Motorcycle

Are you looking for a road trip with a greater sense of adventure? Why not try taking a cross-country motorcycle trip? This is a way to really become one with the open road and experience a heightened sense of freedom. Yet in addition to opening yourself up to new experiences, exploring the motorway via motorcycle is a way to potentially save some cash. Motorcycles are both lower in cost and more fuel-efficient than cars or SUVs, which might just leave you with more money in your pocket to splurge on souvenirs or a fancy hotel room along the way! The following are a few reasons to consider living the “Easy Rider” lifestyle.

motorcycle road trip

Image Source: Daniel Peppes Gauer/Flickr

Motorcycles have lower sticker prices.

This doesn’t really apply to you if you plan to rent a car for your road trip, but if you’re looking to buy something you can enjoy significant savings by choosing a motorcycle. You can find new motorcycles for as little as $5,000; or you could choose a higher-end model in this price range by going for a used one. Naturally, price will vary depending on the make and model but overall motorcycles tend to be far cheaper than cars.

Motorcycles can be more fuel efficient.

Some motorcycle models go into the triple digits of mileage, but the average touring vehicle will give you approximately 50 miles to the gallon, which is none too shabby. You don’t have to spend too much more to enjoy 70 mpg or higher, which is miles ahead of many cars. This all translates to less money spent on the road. If you want to maximize your savings, look for lightweight or hybrid models.

Insurance and maintenance costs may be lower.

You’ll need to factor in the cost of insurance and road repairs, particularly if you’re buying a bike to use in your regular life as well as on a road trip. Like cars, luxury models will be more costly to insure or repair. If you choose brands which are particularly known for their reliability, you will find that insurance and maintenance costs are often lower than the equivalent cars. For the lowest rates use bikesales.com.au to look at Japanese brands like Suzuki, Kawasaki or Yamaha, which have a good reputation among insurers and mechanics alike. It’s always worth splashing out on a check-up at the mechanic’s before you hit the road to minimize your chances of a breakdown.

motorcycle trip

Image Source: Photoxpress

You’ll enjoy a minimalist experience.

Even the largest touring Harley-Davidson won’t have as much storage space as a typical car, but is that a bad thing? Driving a motorcycle on the open road is all about freedom, and it forces you to streamline your travels. You won’t have the space to get bogged down in extra pairs of clothing or books that you’re unlikely to read. It provides a cleaner, sparer, and more minimalist travel experience which can be quite refreshing for seasoned travellers.

The Bottom Line

Although they’re not great for family vacations when you need to pack the whole brood into a minivan, motorcycles can be ideal for more spontaneous types of road trips or solo journeys. Finally, as with any road trip, a bit of planning and careful thought before you depart can go a long way into helping you stick to your budget.

Exploring Australia’s Taste of the Tropics Trail

With an internationally renowned wine industry and a growing culinary scene, more and more visitors are travelling to Australia not just for the beaches but for the food and wine. To meet this demand, many Australian regions have started marketing food and wine trails, including the Food and Nature Trail in Tasmania and the Hawkesbury Harvest in New South Wales. North Queensland benefits from a warm, tropical climate and a thriving agricultural industry, which means visitors can enjoy luscious tropical fruit and accompanying wine.

austrailia 1

Image Source: Alan Levin/Flickr

The Taste of the Tropics trail was first launched in 2001 by Australian Tropical Foods to promote the food industry in North Queensland. It highlights all of the exotic culinary sensations stemming from the region, with five food trails to follow. Juicy mangoes, exotic jackfruit, and sweet lychees are all a few examples of the produce available along these routes, used in creative ways in local restaurants and roadside cafes.

Taste of the Cassowary Coast

Starting in Babinda just south of Cairns, this trail takes you through the townships of Innisfail and Tully out to picturesque Mission Beach. Stop and enjoy the Ma-Mu Canopy Rainforest Walk to enjoy the lush scenery, and sample an array of tropical fruits at the roadside stands. Highlights include the imported cheese and prosciutto at Oliveri’s Continental Deli, the local produce at Jagad’s Epicurean Emporium, and the freshly caught fish at the Innisfail Fish Depot.

Taste of the Coral Coast

Drive from Cairns to Australia’s spa capital of Palm Cove alongside lush palm-fringed beaches, and stop off at gourmet destinations including Rusty’s Bazaar Markets with their seasonal produce and exotic tropical vegetables. Gain a sense of Queensland’s diversity by visiting Asian Foods Australia in Cairns for locally made curry pastes and chili sauces, and don’t pass up a stop at Dreamtime Wines to enjoy wines featuring flavours from passionfruit to kiwi fruit.

Taste of the Mountain Tablelands

Venture away from the coast and into the high-altitude southern region of the Mountain Tablelands, which include the Waterfall Circuit and Misty Mountains trails to enjoy. These rolling green hills produce excellent culinary products to sample. One of the most famous is the Mungalli Creek Bio-Dynamic Dairy, billed as a “cheesery and teahouse.”

Taste of the Savannah Tablelands

Venture into Australia’s coffee country with a tour of the Savannah Tablelands, which pass from Cairns up the Kuranda range. Stop in Mareeba to visit the Australian coffee centre, which boasts a heavenly smell and freshly roasted coffee from the region.

austrailia 2

Image Source: Beatie/Flickr

Taste of the Rainforest

The final trail along the Taste of the Tropics takes you into lush rainforest settings, travelling from Palm Cove across the Daintree River and up to Cape Tribulation. Take a fruit tasting and farm tour at the Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm, and find out what happens when exotic tropical fruits are blended with ice cream at the Floravilla Ice Cream Factory in Daintree. Don’t miss a visit to one of Daintree’s oldest restaurants, the Daintree Tea House Restaurant which uses locally grown products in mouth-watering ways.

Before you Go

The weather is unsurprisingly hot and humid in the tropics of Queensland, so pack plenty of layers and don’t forget the sunscreen. Although all of these trails are easily accessible with a 2WD vehicle, if you plan to go off-roading you’ll want to read reviews on local sites like Motoring to find a car for your holiday with 4WD. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this diverse and delicious region, and don’t forget to take away some fruity souvenirs!

 

Why You Should Visit Las Vegas Before it’s Too Late!

With an endless supply of bright lights, five star restaurants, exotic hotels and of course, money, it’s hard to imagine the city of sin running out of anything, let alone the elixir of life that is water.

Las Vegas

In fact, recent studies have shown that the city only has enough water to run for a finite number of years. The city, located in the Nevada Desert, takes its main supply of water from Lake Mead, and the newest reports have concluded that the lake could only produce enough to keep the city hydrated for the next two decades. Despite being the seemingly unlimited producer of all things sinful, Las Vegas is running out of its most precious commodity, so if you want to visit, you’d better get there fast – before 2036, if you can.

“219 gallons of water per person”

The report also concluded that, on a typical day in Las Vegas, the average person will consume 219 gallons of water, and this is more than just a quick shower or stopping to gawp at the Bellagio Fountains. According to scientists, around 70% of Las Vegas’ water supply is used to hydrate lawns, public parks and golf courses.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVXBtZNg1sw

This is not a problem that has gone unnoticed – following Lake Mead’s all time low in 2010, plans were put in place in 2012 to pump 84,000 acre-feet of water into the desert resort. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has also commenced construction of a 23-foot tunnel into Lake Mead to continue its water supply, due for completion in 2015.

Why You Should Go Now

Though 20 years might seem a long time to get visiting, holiday makers would be advised to visit the city now before the crisis becomes too much to support Las Vegas’ 40 million annual visitors. The 2012 water pump project has already faced ongoing protest from cattle ranchers and native Americans, and gamblers should hit the strip now before the tensions from environmental agencies and new laws impose limits on the city.

Steve Erickson, coordinator for the Great Basin Water Network, Utah, suggested that the limitless lifestyle that is so synonymous with Vegas is to blame. “At some point, you have to live within your means, but that doesn’t fit with the image of Las Vegas.” So if you want to live beyond your means, book your tickets now before it’s too late.

 

 

 

Lanzarote, an Island of Unforgettable Experiences

Lanzarote may be small but it offers everything you could wish for from a sun-drenched Spanish island. Year round sunshine, magnificent beaches and an amazing interior landscape make this one of the most popular of the Canary Islands.

This gorgeous little island is the fourth largest of the Canaries and is just 80 miles from the coast of Africa. At only 37 miles long by 12 miles wide it is compact enough to explore in a few days and there’s a lot to experience outside of the beaches. The magical Caves of Los Verdes, the stunning volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park and the opportunity to explore neighbouring islands are all part of the Lanzarote experience.

20140501-170116.jpgCanary Island seascape image by Darren Johnson, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
Island accommodation

If you’re one of the 1.5 million people visiting Lanzarote each year then you have a wealth of accommodation choices. The island relies heavily on tourism and there’s an abundance of value for money hotel resorts located around the coastline.

The affordable prices of last minute holidays in Lanzarote is one of the reasons for the island’s popularity, especially during the peak summer months. This is a year round vacation destination however, and you can easily find great prices on private villas with swimming pools as well as self-catering apartments at any time of the year.

The island’s Best Beaches

Lanzarote was formed by volcanic activity and is known for its black sand beaches but there are plenty of golden and white bays around the coastline. Head to Papagayo in the south for the fine white sands of what is regarded as the island’s most beautiful beach.
The golden sands at Las Conchas, located on La Graciosa just off the north coast are idyllic and this is the perfect spot for sunbathing and even scuba diving. If you’re into the surfing lifestyle then the immense curved bay at Famara on the northwest coast is the place for windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfboarding. All of these beaches are easily accessible and most offer nearby bars and restaurants for snacks and cold drinks.

Island Sightseeing

There are many sights on Lanzarote that are well worth dragging yourself away from the beaches for. Timanfaya National Park offers one of the most amazing ‘Martian’ landscapes as well as active geysers and guided tours of the volcanoes.

Visit the colourful underground cave system known as the Cueva de los Verdes, which stretches for three miles and once sheltered the Hispanic people from pirates. A trip to the 475m high Mirador del Rio viewpoint will provide you with spectacular panoramic views of the island from both the walkway and the roof top observation deck.

For a day out with a difference take a boat trip to the nearby island of Fuerteventura and spend a day exploring the traditional little villages and the buzzing resort beaches. The journey takes just over two hours and a day out in the capital town of Puerto del Rosario offers shopping, restaurants and cultural sightseeing.

Lanzarote Cuisine

As you would expect from an island with a heavy tourist population Lanzarote doesn’t skimp on restaurants, cafes and bars. Fish is typically an ingredient in Canarian cuisine and the dishes have African, Spanish and even Latin American influences.

You can expect plenty of lighter meals, which are easier to digest in the hot climate, and dishes such as Sancocho Canario (salted fish in a spicy mojo sauce) are typical. However, if you’re in the mood for Chinese, British, Indian or Italian meals you won’t have to look hard for restaurants on the island.
Lanzarote definitely offers something to suit every taste whether you’re visiting as a single traveller, a group, a couple or a family. This beautiful island with the sunniest of climates will stay in your memory long after the vacation is over.

Cuba’s Lasting Influence on Miami

When you picture Miami, you probably envision tan, carefree people strolling along the city’s beaches in the sun. But, if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find a city overflowing with culture thanks, in part, to the nearby Caribbean nation of Cuba. With just over 300 miles separating Miami from the ‘Pearl of the Antilles,’ it’s no surprise that it’s had some influence on this prominent Florida city. Let’s look a little closer at the Cuban influence in Miami:

Language

Over 500,000 Cubans moved to Miami between the years of 1960 and 1980, creating both an instant and long-lasting effect on the city. One of the most noticeable effects of the now more than one million Cubans living in the city is that much of Miami is bilingual.

There are newspapers, as well as radio and television programs in Cuba’s native Spanish. You’ll also often see signs and restaurant menus written in both English and Spanish and speaking both languages is definitely an asset, if not a requirement, for many jobs.

Culture

Cuba holidays will transport you to a nation overflowing with a variety of traditions due, in part, to Spanish, African, French and Asian influence. However, while it won’t be the exact same as visiting Cuba, a trip to Miami will give you a taste, in some ways quite literally, of this interesting Cuban culture.

Head to ‘Little Havana,’ Miami’s home for Cuban music, dance, food and the arts. Other than traveling to Cuba yourself, it’s the place to be if you want to truly engulf yourself in this vibrant culture.

Take a stroll down the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame to see sidewalk stars honoring many famous Latin American celebrities, including Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz and journalist and actress Cristina Saralegui. There are also numerous parades and festivals held in Little Havana throughout the year so check event listings before you plan your trip to ensure you don’t miss out.

Business & Politics

With so much of Miami’s population of Cuban descent, it’s no surprise that Cuban Americans are both prevalent in the city’s businesses and quite active in its political system. As early as 1970, over half of the staff members of Miami’s many hotels were Cuban Americans and, just ten years later, half of the city’s construction companies were owned by Cuban Americans as well.

Cuban Americans have long been known for, in general, taking an active position in Miami politics. This is, in part, evidenced by the fact that the current mayor of Miami, Tomás Pedro Regalado, was born in Havana, Cuba, as was his predecessor, Manny Díaz.

So, for a sample of the spirited Cuban culture without having to leave the US, head to Miami for taste of Cuban American hospitality!

Tips to save money on your cell phone while traveling to Europe

Increasingly, many Americans are opting to partake in work placements in faraway lands. A particular continent of interest is the European Union. With many opting for English language teaching placements in Spain, internships in the United Kingdom and even leisurely inter railing from Brussels to Bucharest, the world really is continuing to grow ever smaller.

Such adventures are no longer reserved for the recent college graduate, with increasing diversity in the amounts of Americans taking the plunge and booking one way flights to Europe. The world can certainly be your oyster whenever you please.

Should you decide to spend a reasonable amount of time in Europe though, one point of consideration which should not be neglected is the arrangements with cell phone tariffs. With society growing ever fond of social media on-the-go and advancing smart phone technology, the thought of leaving home without the iPhone can create feelings of horror and misplacement.

Once touching down on the runway of London, Paris or Madrid however, costs can begin to spiral without the knowledge of the phone’s owner. Especially due to the horrific data roaming charges, burdening customers throughout the entirety of their journey, an ideal solution needs to be drawn prior to arriving on foreign soil. Furthermore, the damage due for outgoing calls and SMS messages will swiftly erode bank accounts. Worse still, simply receiving calls and messages will encourage a charge to your network and price plan.

To combat the infamous data roaming issues, one could simply disengage the phone’s option for this and rely solely upon Wi-Fi. Should this prove inadequate though, foreign  sim only deals could prove an ideal solution for your woes. Certain networks exist, which offer reasonable pricing for data usage. Those travelling to the UK will find reasonably priced deals with www.lebara.co.uk Data Bundles, which offer 500MB of data for £5 ($8 approximately) and 1MB for £7.50 ($12) and £2.50 ($4) per MB thereafter. Certainly this will cure the itch for Facebook addicts without feeling the scratch from your domestic provider.

Calls need not be expensive either, with many providers offering ideal incentives for Pay-As-You-Go price plans. Outgoing international calls also start from 1p ($0.02) per minute too, meaning that calling family and friends back home need not break the bank. Tempting still is the prospect of cheaply contacting that attractive Spanish person you met at the bar the night before without having to dedicate your financial future ruing calling back.

European networks also try to entice their customers with added bonuses for such tariffs.  Those who top up their credit online are entitled to various treats of free minutes to spend on calling whoever they desire. Plus, referring friends also earns them a free £5 ($8) bonus to treat themselves with. Treats and incentives exist across most European states in a similar fashion.

So with this in mind, the avid European traveler, student abroad or expat worker can count phone arrangements as one less piece of emotional baggage upon their journey. Just ensure that your phone is unlocked and you’re ready to go.

Ideas for a Romantic Road Trip in Australia

Due to its expansiveness and gorgeous scenery, Australia makes an ideal destination for a honeymoon or even just a weekend getaway with your special someone. From beachfront bungalows to a hideaway for two in a rainforest treehouse, you’ll find no shortage of unique accommodations to enjoy some private time away. Get out into Australia’s lush countryside to enjoy its hidden beach coves, rolling vineyards, and snow-capped mountains together on a road trip for two.

great ocean road trip

Great Ocean Road

It’s hard to beat the “wow” factor of the Great Ocean Road, which hugs the coastline of southwest Victoria. It passes through some of Australia’s most picturesque towns, including top spots for couples like Lorne and Apollo Bay. The cream of the crop is Port Fairy, with its historic colonial architecture and seaside cafes. You won’t want to miss the awe-inspiring sight of the Twelve Apostles rock formations jutting out of the ocean, or the crystalline lakes located inland in Otways Country.

great ocean road

Yarra Valley

Australian wine has become world famous thanks to the producers in fertile regions like the Yarra Valley, located not too far from Melbourne. Pick up a sporty Alfa Romeo or Mitsubishi at Carsales and head out into the winding pathways of the valley. You can choose from three main highways, including the Melba, Maroonda, and Warburton. All of these pass through charming villages, open wineries, and countryside art galleries that dot the valley. Go wine-tasting and pick your own berries for a private picnic.

melbourne

Great Green Way

Couples in search of a little bit of adventure might want to take the Great Green Way between Cairns and Townsville. You can go diving or take a glass bottomed boat out into the famous Great Barrier Reef, or laze the day away on the white sands of Mission Beach. When you get tired of the car, take a day trip out into one of the neighbouring islands or go bushwalking in the rainforest before relaxing poolside in a quaint bed and breakfast.

Adelaide Hills

Located just outside of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills are swiftly becoming a popular wine-producing area due to the Mediterranean climate and rich soil. Enjoy the organic farmer’s markets, winery tours, and waterfalls of these rolling hills and take a rest in the Botanic Gardens at the top of Mt. Lofty for a quiet afternoon. You’ll feel relaxed on this road trip, which can be completed in a day if you’re short on time. However, you may just decide to stay the night in one of the charming historic towns and extend your stay.

Margaret River Region

The Margaret River runs its way through Australia’s pristine southwest. A road trip through this region will take you through old growth forests, mysterious caves, and nearly private beaches. You’ll find plenty of romance-ready activities along the way; whether you prefer to float down the river in an inner tube or pop open a bottle of champagne in a field of wildflowers. The beauty of this region will get you wrapped up in it, and in each other.

 

These Australian road trip ideas allow you to get away with your loved one and enjoy their exclusive company in some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Whether you enjoy wine-tasting, fine art, or outdoor adventures, there’s something for all couples down under.

A Trick up Your Sleeve: Knowing When to Pull Out the Skull Cufflinks

The global industry of menswear and accessories for men is projected to exceed $400 billion in sales within 2014 alone. Even though this figure still does not come close to reaching the global industry of women’s clothing, which is projected to exceed $620 billion, it still forces you to think about the reasoning behind the increase, according to ReportLinker.com.

Studies have confirmed that the average male consumer seems to be caring more about his appearance in all settings, especially when dressing for work and other events that require professional attire. It is not a secret within the fashion world that accessories can truly make an entire outfit stand out in more ways than one. One of the best ways to break tradition and think outside of the box with your business suit while still maintaining an undeniable flair and dignified appearance is to put on a pair of skull cufflinks.

While You Are at Work

Even though most workplace environments do not require employees to wear cufflinks with their business suits, making the bold decision to wear them anyway can truly do wonders for your overall image. It is true that it might seem a little awkward for some people simply because there will not be very many people at your job doing the same thing. However, if you are eagerly searching for a way to separate yourself from the pack, wearing a pair of skull cufflinks with your stylish yet professional business suit will definitely do the trick.

Studies have confirmed that within the average workplace environment, it is mostly the upper level management, directors and owners who wear these accessories with their own suits on a daily basis. As the old saying goes, you should dress for the job that you want instead of the job that you have.

While You Are at Play

Wearing a stylish pair of cufflinks is also a beneficial accessory when you are outside of the workplace and just simply looking to have a good time with your friends and family members. Whether you are at a wedding, party, a dance or just spending the night with your significant other on the town, you would be surprised by just how good you will look and feel as you wear a pair of skull cufflinks wherever you go. One of the most common mistakes that men make when it comes to wearing cufflinks is that they will purchase them, but never wear them simply because they are waiting for the “right time.” Keep in mind that the “right time” will never come as long as you have that attitude. Instead of waiting for that time to come around, do yourself a favor and make that time today.

Important Tips to Remember

If you want to get the best results when it comes to maintaining style, class, appeal and charm while you are wearing your skull cufflinks, there are several tips that you need to keep in mind. For instance, make sure that they remain classy and clean. The last thing that you should want is to wear a set of dingy and dirty cufflinks with a fresh suit. Just because there are loud, excessively colorful and tacky cufflinks available for sale does not mean that you should ever buy them. Make sure that you know how to put your cufflinks on properly. If you do not, trust in the online resources that you can find with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks to show you the way. The bottom line is that you have to know what you are doing when it comes to wearing cufflinks and you have to know how to do it well.

Marketing High-end Custom Made Crafts

Sites like Etsy and eBay have made it easier than ever for enterprising individuals to turn their hobbies into profitable eCommerce businesses. However, those same sites have made the competition fierce in the handmade goods market. Many artisans end up underpricing their crafts in an attempt to stay competitive and continue to make sales. This is exactly the wrong tact to take. Even if you are making a small profit above material costs, you are probably breaking even after website fees and definitely selling at a loss if you try to account for your time. Mastering a craft and producing unique, high-quality goods deserves more than a losing venture. To market your goods properly, you need to reach the right audience, and that means rethinking your eCommerce business plan.

Setting Up a Professional Image

Perhaps the most important step in setting up any eCommerce business is creating a professional and functional website. You have many options here, so don’t worry if you are not familiar with Web design. You can build the site from scratch, work from templates, or hire a Web design company to build (and possibly manage) it for you. The important thing is that you move beyond stock templates and multi-user marketplaces. You want a site that is clearly identified with your product, and your product alone.

There are a few things you should include in your website. The first is an appealing logo. This image should complement the overall appearance of your website, be clean and precise, and represent your product or business. If you don’t have graphics design resources, you will want to hire a professional to make your logo. You will also want a clean and effective electronic POS system, detailed product display pages, and some social media outreach, like a blog. A clean, elegant, and professional website will appeal to the customers you want to attract. It will give the impression that your crafts are just as clean, elegant, and professional.

Venues Matter

Just like it’s important to have your own eCommerce website, rather than being part of a general marketplace, you need to be present at the right venues when you are selling offline. Look for juried craft shows – they are more likely to attract customers who will pay for the quality you produce. Stay away from venues like church craft fairs, farmers markets, and small fairs or conventions unless you have another purpose for being there.

Building Your Reputation

To customers who will appreciate the value of what you create, you need to reach the right audience. Part of this is establishing yourself as an expert in your craft. Join crafting communities and social media sites. Post actively, and try to be friendly, supportive, and informative. Don’t limit yourself just to the crafting community, however. After all, these are people who, while perhaps not as skilled as you, are capable of creating the same type of objects. Reach out to peripherally related blogs, sites, and organizations. Offer to do guest posts, demonstrations, or Q&A sessions on your craft as it relates to their broader contexts.

On your eCommerce site, have a steady stream of content going on your blog. This should all be directly related to your craft, and should be engaging and interesting to your visitors. You can link some posts to specific projects, but keep most of them general and just about your craft. If you are posting about a specific project, include something like a video detailing part of the process to make the post more engaging. Focus on the details that make your products stand out, such as the origins and history of specific materials and techniques.

Turning your hobby into a successful business means reaching customers who understand the quality they are getting. eCommerce sites offer you more opportunity than ever to do so, but you need to use your site in the right way to take advantage of that.

Celebrate #HispanicHeritageMonth with @Macy’s and Diego!

I had the pleasure of filling in for Jenn at the Macy’s Hispanic Heritage Month event at Miami International Mall yesterday. The event was on the second floor Macy’s children’s department. This event celebrated the diverse Hispanic community in South Florida. I brought my husband and both children along: Lydia (4) and Bryce (2).

Lydia Dora sign

At the event, there were two craft tables set up. We began by creating a map of all of the Latin American countries and their flags. Lydia and I worked together to cut out the flags and glue them to the map.

Lydia glues map

Next, we made picture frames with craft foam, markers, and model magic. These could be used for the photos taken with Nickelodeon’s Diego.

Lydia colors a frame

Lydia's frame

Other highlights of the event included Vita Coco Coconut Water sampling, face painting, a balloon maker on stilts, and the chance to meet Diego.

Macy's Collage

The highlight of this event, for me, were the salsa dancers. They put on a great performance and let the children join in, too.

Customers who purchased $25 or more in the Macy’s children’s department received a free Dora backpack, and with a $50 purchase, a gift from Goya including rice, beans, and seasoning. With such a rich, diverse Hispanic culture in South Florida, the Macy’s at Miami International Mall was the perfect location for this event. The kids had so much fun!

Dr. Carrie Wells is a mother of 2, wife, college instructor, and passionate blogger. She loves writing about child development, healthy eating, and natural living on her blog Huppie Mama.

How to Get Your Ideal Bikini Body in Three Months

I hope this guest post helps you get ready for bikini season!

 

In around three months’ time, summer holiday season will be upon us. While this is something to look forward to for most people, it can be a dreaded time of year for many women. This is because summer holidays means baring your bikini body on the beach and by the pool, despite it having being hidden away under layers of wool throughout the whole winter season.

If you want to be beach ready by June, you need to start now. You don’t have to do anything drastic like getting cosmetic surgery, nor do you need to go on a crash diet. You only need to be prepared to put in a little time and effort, and follow these handy tips that pretty much anyone can do:

Sign up to a legs, bums and tums exercise class. It can be hard work, but these classes are the best way to tone up any problem areas ready for the beach. Most people can fit in one or two classes a week, and it can even be a fun experience if you take a friend along with you. After a month or two of focusing on these areas, you will soon start to notice the difference.

Start walking everywhere. A brisk walk is a great form of aerobic exercise, one that you don’t need any specialist equipment or clothing to do. You don’t even need to set aside time to do it either, especially if you walk to work instead of getting the bus or walk to the shop rather than taking the car.

Avoid alcohol except at the weekends. No holiday is worth completely quitting the things you enjoy, such as a cheeky glass of wine every now and again. However, by reducing your alcohol intake, by only drinking at the weekends for example, you will be consuming fewer calories and you may lose a bit of weight.

Exfoliating and moisturize. Having a regular skincare regime is important. Before you go on holiday, you need to start removing all your dry and dead skin. Keep exfoliating and moisturizing and by holiday-time, you’ll be super smooth, soft and glowing.

Find the right fake tan. Having a light tan or a glow can make you look slimmer and make areas like the waist look naturally toned without the need for surgical procedures. There are many fake tan products out there, some more effective than others. You need to take the time before your holiday to find the perfect one for you.

Start waxing. You don’t really want to have your first wax right before your holiday, as it will be painful and unsightly. Instead, you should start getting waxed a few weeks before you go away. 

 

Skiing in Europe vs Skiing in the US

Whilst some things about skiing will always remain the same, skiing in Europe and skiing in the USA can be very different experiences.

Although many Americans enjoy taking their ski holidays in the US, there is an ever-increasing number of ardent skiers choosing to test out the slopes of Europe, where they are welcomed not only by different mountains, but a wholly different culture, too.

Different Mountains

The key element to every ski experience, there is no doubt that the mountains in Europe and the US are essentially different. Ski deals in Austria may include shorter resorts such as St Anton in the Alps, but with a vertical drop of 4,400 feet, this is still higher than even the largest resorts in the US, such as Jackson Hole and Big Sky in the Rockies. This often means that the choice of runs available is even greater than it is at home, with the added endurance challenge of skiing down from the very top.

Skiing in Europe also opens up the opportunity for travel, and there really are some spectacular views to be had from the top of the Alps. Whilst some people choose to spend a few days in the city they fly into, most ski resorts have shops, pubs and restaurants, which allow visitors to get a taste of the local cuisine and culture without having to spend valuable time away from the slopes.

Different Snow

European mountains generally experience less snow than their American counterparts, however this doesn’t mean there is a lack of skiing to be found. The pistes in Europe are generally very well maintained, with a great choice of terrain for skiers of various different styles.

Skiing off piste can be a very different experience to the US, as in Europe it is generally done at your own risk, rather than on specially designated areas. The hardest runs, known as black runs in Europe, are not usually groomed, offering a challenge for those preferring to stay within the designated areas.

Coming from a ski background where the queues for the slopes tend to be short, orderly and efficient, queuing at a European resort may be a small shock to the system. That said, however, due to Europe’s après ski culture, both the slopes and the lifts are usually quiet in the mornings.

For anybody looking for something a bit different for their next skiing holiday, Europe is a great choice, combining the same thrill of skiing with the excitement of travel. The differences between skiing in Europe and the US will mean a different holiday experience, but one that is likely to be enjoyable.

 

This is a sponsored guest post.