Check Out These Caribbean Islands for a Secluded Escape


The Caribbean is one of the best parts of the world to visit for a laid-back vacation. It can also be the perfect place if you're searching for a secluded escape. There are larger islands that anyone can visit, which have quiet spots for you to hide away. There are also more exclusive island resorts, where you may even have to hire the whole island. But even if you can't afford the private resorts, there are some beautiful and relaxing Caribbean islands for you to explore. Check out these top picks if you want a tranquil escape.


Jamaica

Jamaica is one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean, and it has something for everyone. If you want to spend your time sampling the local cuisine, staying out late and enjoying live music, you can do that. However, it's also a great island if you want somewhere more secluded. You can easily find a quiet spot, although you will probably pay a little more for somewhere out of the way. If your perfect way to relax is by exploring local flora and fauna, there's plenty to see on Jamaica. You can get out and enjoy relaxing walk or a hike.


Nevis

Nevis is the smaller neighbor of St Kitts, and may be a little too small for some. However, many people love its size and would much rather stay somewhere that's not too busy. Buying real estate in Nevis is popular, partly because it can get the property owner a St Kitts and Nevis passport. However, it's also the luxury homes and beautiful surroundings that bring people to Nevis. Many people stay on a regular basis, and perhaps forever. Many people see Nevis as an unspoiled treasure where they won't experience as many crowds as on other islands.


Vieques

Vieques is a lesser-known island in the Caribbean, but it's one of the best for many. It's a small island and doesn't get as many visitors as others. If you prefer your island escapes to be quiet and secluded, Vieques might be the right one for you. You can find some spots of natural beauty, including the protected Mosquito Bay. Nature lovers often come to the island to explore and admire the unspoiled areas. You can find it off the coast of Puerto Rico and spend your time enjoying the island's beaches.


Anguilla

Anguilla's white beaches are one of its most popular draws. If you're looking for a quiet and relaxing vacation, it's one of the best Caribbean islands to choose. As a smaller island, it's easy to see the whole thing in a couple of days but finding a secluded spot isn't difficult. There are things to do too if you need anything to keep you occupied. The nightlife on the island might not be as wild as elsewhere. But it provides entertainment for those looking for it.

There are so many places to visit in the Caribbean that choosing the best island is next to impossible. But there are certainly some that are better for a quiet escape than others.

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Simple Tips on How To Keep Your Garden & Equipment Clean


Keeping your garden clean can seem easier on some seasons, but when the weather is a little more extreme and you want to reduce the time and effort spent on cleaning, you need to be more efficient. Whether it is because of extreme cold or heat, in general it doesn’t hurt to have a few techniques to make cleaning your garden and the equipment there easier and quicker.


The idea is to have the right tools and making sure that much of your garden stays neat for longer. This means taking advantage of any possible storage spaces in the area. It will pay off in the long run more than you realize, and you will thank yourself later.


1. Wash With A Pressure Washer - Look for a high pressure washer for sale that will suit your needs in the garden. They need much less water than hoses as they rely on high pressure forces that sprays in smaller amounts compared to hose openings. The added pressure and strength also makes cleaning tough stains, grime and hardened dirt much easier and quicker than regular running water or scrubbing by hand. Save your hands the strain from all the rubbing and scrubbing and switch to using a pressure washer, it’s a wonderful long term investment.


2. Use A Leaf Blower - Forget just using a broom or even a garden rake, they take much longer and require more strength to operate. A leaf blower can clean away leaves and debris in your garden area in minimal time and without you needing to sway this way and that. Leaf blowers aren’t always expensive, they can come in cheaper prices and various sizes, pick one depending on the size and needs of your garden.


3. Make Rock Garden Areas - Among the most easy-to-maintain gardens are rock gardens. Traditionally of Japanese origin, the concepts behind these amazing                                         gardens are using white rocks or pebbles to replace grass and using large, tasteful boulders to replace flowers. Once put together they look unified and calm due to the neutral colours and the perceived large amount of space they present. If you can transform some parts of your garden (closures or edges) into rock garden areas, you will save yourself more cleaning efforts as there will be less dirt, dead flowers and leaves to clean.


4. Move Smaller Plants Indoors - If you happen to have a lot of small potted plants outside, you might want to invest in bringing them inside or at least installing them in indoor mini greenhouses. Especially during drab weather, they can bring a dash of spring and color to your home, when you need it the most.


5. Keep Equipment In Empty Pots - One of the best storage solutions in your garden that is waiting to be used is an empty pot. If you have several, that is even better. They can be a storage place for small tools, wound up hoses and even gloves. As long as they are under the shade you can line them up neatly, and though they are quite obvious to the eye, they will still look well-kept and reduce floor clutter.


Keeping your garden spick and span shouldn’t be a hassle, keep these tips in mind and soon you will be facing your next garden cleanup with a lot more confidence.
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My Experience Editing Videos with Movavi Video Editor




It is no secret that having the ability to edit videos is really, really useful nowadays. Like most others I tend to record a ton of videos using my smartphone as well as my digital camera, and have always wanted to be able to tweak them so that they look better.

The one problem I’ve always had is that the video editors that I tried to use in the past were too complicated. After hours of trying (and failing) to get anything done I eventually gave up and decided that video editing just wasn’t for me.


Because of that when I first encountered Movavi Video Editor, I was really rather skeptical. Although it claimed to be user friendly, I wasn’t completely sold. On a whim I decided to try it out however, figuring that I really had nothing to lose.


As soon as I launched Movavi Video Editor for the first time I was happy to note it had a clean and nicely laid out user interface. Within minutes I found myself navigating through the various features and starting to try them out.


The first thing I did was to load an older video I had recorded into the software. When I did that, I noticed that I could even use Movavi Video Editor to record footage from my webcam, grab audio using my microphone, or digitize analog videos.


Seeing as my focus was mainly on editing videos I was more interested in those features however, and as I explored I found myself able to:

  • Cut my videos into segments to remove any unwanted parts and then merge clips together or rearrange their sequence.
  • Enhance the quality of my videos manually or automatically while also correcting issues such as shaky or blurry images.
  • Include additional audio tracks in my videos so I can add background music or voiceovers.
  • Apply different types of neat special effects and filters to spice up my videos and alter their appearance.
  • Add personalized text fields to create captions, watermarks, or titles.

All that was just the tip of the iceberg however, and the more I explored the more I found I could do. It was all so easy and intuitive that I really didn’t need any outside help at all. Suffice to say Movavi Video Editor opened up an entire world of options, and has let me edit my videos as and how  I please.

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14th and 42nd - A Birthday Memoir

Mond and K, my two God-sent angels turned 42 and 14 respectively yesterday. I wouldn't have made through the darkest days of my life without them. They were born for me on the same fateful day and were my constant reminder that God can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony and a trial into triumph. I simply cannot imagine going through life without them.

We had a simple celebration as usual. The night before the 15th, K requested for a Poulet dinner so we went to Changi Airport Viewing Mall to satisfy her craving and give her much needed boost for her upcoming exams. The two things she wanted for her birthday were Braised Pork Belly and a phone cover. Both wishes granted.

On their actual birthday, I cooked their favourite spaghetti which we ate for tea break after the mandatory candle blowing ceremony. G felt so sad that he doesn't have a candle to blow so we let him share his big sister's cake, using his no.5 candle which we forgot to light up on his birthday last month. He was over the moon but still a bit sad that he can't eat a cake or any sweets at the moment because his cough has gotten worst (we just came back for his check up).


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Missing The Product You Found On Holiday? You May Not Need To Anymore



The world wide web has changed our lives in so many ways that it's odd to think back to a time when it wasn't so widespread. Twenty years ago it existed, and some people had it but most didn't. Ten years ago we had it, and most of us had broadband, but it was mostly in the home. Now, we have it whenever and wherever we want due to the advances in smart phones. It's good, but we can become dependent.

One way in which the broad sweep of technological advance has changed our world is that shopping has become easier. This is the case for every type of shopping. Looked in the fridge and realized that you need groceries? Order them for delivery tomorrow. Seen an outfit you must have? Grab your credit card and you'll be trying it on before you know it. Want a new kitchen? Design it online, and order it right away.

The internet has given shoppers a level of convenience we couldn't have imagined just a couple of decades ago. This is often trumpeted as its greatest advantage. However for many of us it's not just about how quickly and easily we can buy things. What the internet has done in a way nothing else before it could is bring new things within our reach.

Remember when friends and family used to go on holiday and come back with things that you couldn't get at home? Now there is pretty much nothing that that applies to. Those chocolates that you could only get in Paris? Buy them online. The lipstick you found in London, that you've used to exhaustion? Online. That eyeshadow that you found in one little store in Seoul and never saw again? To the laptop!


Image from Wikipedia

Of course, it wouldn't be real life if you didn't encounter a few tricky steps along the way. Just as a non-shopping example, almost every nation now has a live streaming TV service that allows you to watch TV on your computer. However, licensing reasons often mean that if you're in the US and want to watch Italian soaps, you can't. Not without using a virtual private network, and that's not ideal.

Similarly, you can get home from a holiday and immediately hit up the website of that store you spent a lot of time in while away. Gleefully, you fill your basket with all of the things you're now craving. You get to the checkout and realise with horror that they won't ship abroad. You can't face up to life without that item. You consider booking another quick trip back or moving to that city. Who doesn't? Shopping is important.

It happens, quite frequently. The bigger the business, the better the chances that they will ship internationally. But there is no guarantee - shipping isn't cheap and if you don't have an international department it can be inconvenient. Numerous eBay sellers have to turn down overseas business for this reason. Once you've accounted for fees and customs it may not be worth your while to sell.

Of course, while it is understandable, it doesn't help you in your current situation. Do you have to accept that there's no option on the table for getting the product shipped to you? No, although it may require some creative thinking. It'll be worth it, after all. It would be inhuman to expect you to live without that lipstick, that coffee, those shoes.

Make A Friend Who'll Do It For You


As long as it is legal and affordable to send the item you want through the post or courier mail, you can work out an arrangement with someone. If you've moved to another country and are missing a product you loved, then you should still have family and friends there. Some items they can send to you and others they can bring when they visit. Just don't expect them to foot shipping costs. That's unfair.


Image from Wikipedia

Yes, this method is dependent on having a friend on the ground in the country where your product is available. If it's somewhere you've holidayed, you may have made friends there or you may not. It's not advisable to trawl expat forums for people who you can ask to send you stuff. That's asking to be ripped off. But you can cultivate friendships online - unless they're playing a very long con you should be safe.

Offer To Cover Costs Yourself

While some businesses do not ship abroad as a rule, independent businesses do have the freedom to make their own rules. As long as what you are asking them to send is within the law, there's no harm in asking. One major reason that businesses do not ship abroad is the cost. Customs fees, freight cost for heavier items and various other reasons can make it prohibitive.


Wikipedia

If there is an item you really want and it is practical to ship it, but expensive, then there may be a way. You can consult with the retailer to see if they'll ship the product with you covering the cost. The worst they can do is say "No". Who knows, if everyone where you live likes what you've bought, demand may encourage the retailer to ship abroad as a rule. It's probably unlikely, but who knows with independent retailers?

Use A Reshipping Or Concierge Service


Because so many people want to shop abroad, it was inevitable that services would arise to facilitate this. It used to be the case that the only people who could afford to holiday abroad were the very rich. These were also the only people who could afford to import the things they absolutely had to have. The internet has created solutions for people who aren't that rich to do likewise.

The internet has made it possible for us to keep in touch with friends abroad or to follow a sports team in a land we've never visited. And if there is a way to make a business from something, somone will find that way. Shopping concierge services are a smart way to get the product you've been craving but have not been able to get shipped.

Say for example you've been missing the herbal tea that you drank every day while in the UK. You also remember fondly the little cosmetics store where you found some unknown gems at a price that made you scream. While you're thinking about it, there was a great wine that you tried in a little bistro and you miss that, too.




A concierge service will give you a street address; in the UK, see Skypax for details of how this works. They will then place your orders to be delivered to this address, consolidate them and send them on to you wherever you are. Of course, the cost will be dictated by where the items are being sent, but we have all known the pain of not being able to get something. You'll happily pay a little more for the luxuries.

In a way, the internet has made us spoiled. Let's face it, we used to have to wait so long for anything good and now it's all readily available. So when we find a challenge, naturally we will look for ways around it. The rise of globalization has made it possible for us to fall in love with a product, a show, a newspaper that we first found on holiday. And anyone who has had that experience knows how sense memory of those products can evoke a feeling.

There will probably always be products that won't be available to us unless we go to the source. Much of what you buy on holiday may be from a market stall, and those are hard to make fully multimedia. Having said that, it's good to know that options exist for those of us who feel lost without that favorite little store we discovered abroad. In the absence of the opportunity to visit it every so often, there is an outlet.

Some products may remain beyond your reach, it's fair to warn. Products that are prone to spoil in extremes of temperature can be difficult to ship; it is worth asking whoever is taking care of the shipping. Chances are if you really loved a certain cheese you found in France, you may have to go back to France to taste it at its best. And if you're asking a friend to send things on, it may be best to ensure they really know how to safely package an item for long shipping.

Travel is one of the finest gifts we have as a species. It allows us to go to far flung corners of the earth and fall in love with a new place, a new taste. It's just important to realise that sometimes, you'll have to be patient and deal with the separation. In that way it's like a holiday romance, but with one key difference. Your lipstick will never forget to reply to your emails.

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The Top 5 Most Popular Gemstones

Gemstones have been used by humans for thousands of years to add value, color, and aesthetic quality to jewelry pieces. Although in the modern world some gemstones, for example diamonds, are much more popular than others, many of us are attracted to the power that a bright, sparkling gemstone holds. Whilst the more popular choices of gemstone may not be for everybody, each individual gemstone holds a special charm that can certainly bring joy to the wearer. Here are the five most popular gemstones that you can choose from.

Diamonds

Diamonds are arguably the most popular gemstone of all, thanks to their superior hardness, durability and their cultural value as the gemstone of choice for engagement rings and other jewelry items which hold a lot of sentimental value. However, diamonds are more versatile than you may think, and are available in a wide array of different colors, shapes and cuts. For stunning diamond rings and more, visit ascotdiamonds.com.

Sapphire

Bright blue, beautiful sapphires are one of the most popular gemstones in existence. Often used as an alternative to diamonds in engagement rings thanks to their pure, sky blue hue and the ability to look amazing paired against both white and yellow gold as well as platinum, these gemstones are available in other colors as well, although blue remains the most iconic choice.

Ruby

Treasured for their vibrant red quality, rubies serve as both accent stones and the centerpieces of many gorgeous pieces of jewelry. A whole variety of cultures around the world have been using rubies as a fashion statement for generations, making them one of the most popular gemstones known to man for centuries. The ruby gemstone is also the birthstone for the month of July, and many baby girls born during July are named Ruby in its honor.

Amethyst

With their rich, translucent purple color, amethysts remain one of the most popular gemstones used in jewelry today. Present in many preserved jewelry pieces which date back to the classical Greek era, amethysts have been used as both accent and centerpiece stones in jewelry pieces for thousands of years. Today, it is possible to find amethyst jewelry in their unpolished, crystalline form or as polished and faceted stones.

Jade

A popular gemstone used for jewelry which is associated mainly with a number of Asian cultures, Jade is a gemstone that has been used in jewelry pieces for centuries by people all over the world. The most popular jade color is the light green shade and also the gemstone’s namesake, however, this stone is also available in a range of various colors depending on the wearer’s taste. Once believed to cure colic in babies when placed on the stomach, jade is also one of the birthstones of the month August and a popular girl’s name.
Which of these gemstones is your favorite? Or, is your favorite gemstone not on this list? Whether you prefer traditional diamonds or love gemstones that aren’t topping the charts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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Healthy Munchies from Garden Picks

A friend who is also a mom asked me recently what I usually give K and G for snacks. To be honest, I don't really ban the kids from eating junk food but I make sure they eat more fruits than junks. Our usual snacks at home are fresh fruits like oranges (oranges cut into C-shape which G fondly calls smiley orange), banana, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, and pineapple.

Sometimes, I indulge the kids with frozen yogurt or icecream with fruit chunks.  I do anything that will make them eat their 2 doses of fruits a day like in G's case, I hide fruits that he doesn't like to eat on its own (eg. blueberry) in his yogurt bowl. On weekends, I give in and let them eat chips and whatever floats in their junk food boat. I know! Bad mama! *insert monkey covering face emoticon here*

All thanks to Garden Picks' healthy snack selection, I can now indulge the kids with their favourite crunchy munchies without feeling too guilty and lousy.

Here are the healthier snack choices you can get from Garden Picks for as low as $10 per 3 packets.

1. Honey Mustard Soya Crisps
K and M love mustard so this was a hit to them. I actually tried to use this as an alternative to croutons for M's salad dishes and he loved it. It gives the bland salad extra kick, flavour and texture.

2. BBQ Rice Crisps
K and I are huge fans of Japanese rice crisps so this BBQ flavoured one which we have never tried before was well received. So crunchy and yummy!

3. Roasted Green Soybean
Dry roasted soybeans are a great source of protein which is very important in building and maintaining body cells and tissues. You'd be surprise to know you get way more protein content from a cup of roasted soybean than a cup of milk.

4. Salted Caramel Peanuts
Gone were the days where we can only have salted caramel flavour in pastries and donuts. Now, you can have salted caramel flavoured peanut too! If salted caramel is not your thing, Garden Picks also have Thai sweet chili and Manuka honey flavoured peanuts. Yum!

5. Chili Corn Kernels
Filipinos like us are known for munching flavoured roasted corn kernels and the chili flavoured ones are always a hit.

6. Crispy Lotus Seeds
This is Garden Picks Top Seller and I understand why. Do you know that lotus seeds help cure insomia due to its natural sedative and calming effect? This is my top pick from all the snacks I mentioned above. I love how bland yet beneficial it is to treat my insomia.

You can find more healthy snack choices at Garden Picks, standard packs of 3 for only $10.

Disclaimer: Garden Picks sent us 6 packets of munchies for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are our own.

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Home Improvements that Add Luxury and Save You Energy




Getting a more environmentally friendly home is a goal that many of us are highly interested in now. In an ideal world we would also end up with a more luxurious home at the same time.


The good news is that there are some terrific home improvement ideas that can help you to save energy while adding luxury at the same time.


Smart Led Lighting


The addition of high quality LED lighting can make a huge difference to the quality of light in any property. There is a big variety of LED products around now, some of which can be controlled from your smartphone and which offer the chance to control every aspect of your home’s lighting.


In addition, LED bulbs and panels offer a far more energy efficient way of lighting your home, which is great news for the planet.


A Green Roof


The idea of adding living, green roof to a property has been around for a long time. In recent years it has really taken off, though, as people realize that it is a simple and highly effective of making a property more environmentally friendly.


When it is done to a high standard then there is no doubt that a green roof also adds a real touch of quality to a house. For those who are worried about their personal finance, this is the sort of exciting change that doesn’t cost you a fortune.


New Windows and Doors


In many homes it is the windows or the doors that let the place down, by allowing cold air to blow in when you least want it to. This is why getting brand new windows and doors that fit snugly and offer great protection is such a good idea.


You could also take this opportunity to add some extra luxury to your home by choosing top end replacements that look wonderful. It is amazing how much better this can make your home look if you go for quality and great looks.
Solar Panels  


The idea of adding solar panels to a home is getting more popular all the time, due to the range of benefits associated with it. However, it is still commonly regarded as being something that only gets done to top quality, luxurious homes.


While this is a fairly expensive way to save energy it is one of the most useful ways of making your home instantly greener. Never again will you have to worry about the amount of energy that you use at home, while you might even manage to sell your excess energy to the grid.


Better and More Modern Appliances


The rate at which technology is advancing currently means that modern appliances are far better at being economical with their use of energy. From dishwashers to fridges and from big screen TVs to washing machines, you can use less energy by getting a better standard of appliances.


Of course, by updating your electrical appliances around the home you will also make the place look more exciting and modern. This is an easy way of getting a fresh new look that shows off your excellent taste as well as your green credentials.


Becoming more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to mean losing out in terms of luxury or style. In fact, it is now easier than ever before to combine these two things when making changes to your home.  
  
Photo credit: http://es.freeimages.com/photo/ivy-covered-window-1233039
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