Friday, August 31, 2012

Duraflame - Win a Fire Pit!

Just fill in your details for your chance to win a brand new fire pit for your backyard and a supply of Duraflame Campfire Roasting Logs given away monthly. 
 

9 Top Fashion Tips for Men

For many men, fashion isn't really something that they think about. They own a suit which they wear for job interviews and formal get-togethers, and the rest of the time they wear comfy jeans, baggy t-shirts, or their old-favorite "slightly-smart" shirt. The whole functional-casual thing might work while you're at university, but once you start going to conferences, dinner parties, and formal events, you'll need to figure out your sense of style. Here's a few tips to help you stay looking sharp without becoming a slave to fashion.

1. Buy Things that Fit This might sound really obvious, but most guys buy clothes that are too big for them. This ruins the point of carefully selecting different cuts and styles of unique menswear. Clothes should follow the line of your physique, not just hang there. Next time you go shopping, try on the next size down to what you normally buy - you might be surprised how well it fits.

2. You Need More Than One Suit Consider investing in a couple of suits - one black, one grey, and one pin-stripe. Get these properly fitted. You're wasting money if you buy a suit off the rack.

3. Pants Should Sit at Your Waist Your waist is about 2-3 inches below your belly button. Find pants that sit naturally there. You'll look smarter, and probably feel more comfortable too.

4. Quality Counts In the current economic climate, it can be tough to find the money to spend on something as "frivolous" as unique menswear. However, if you shop carefully, and head to the local Barbour outlet instead of a discount store, you'll spend less in the long term. Quality clothing fits well, is timeless, and is hardwearing too.

5. Shoes Finish the Outfit Cheap shoes won't do your feet, or your appearance, any favors. Avoid budget shoe stores and invest in a pair of shoes that fit your feet, and will look good with any outfit.

6. Match Your Belt and Your Shoes If you're wearing brown shoes, wear a brown belt. If you're wearing black shoes, wear a black belt. It's a simple concept, and it makes all the difference.

7. Don't Overdo Affectations You can wear one affectation - whether that's a fedora, a bracelet, a pocket watch, or something even more off-the-wall. Whatever you choose, it's making a statement, and that's fine. However, if you wear more than one big and bold thing, you're no longer making a statement, your clothes are having an argument with each other, and that's not good.

8. Clean Your Nails There's no point being smart and stylish in your Barbour outlet gear if your hands are scruffy. Dirty nails might suit a building site worker, but if you're not going for the rugged mechanic look then you should make a point of keeping your hands smooth and clean.

9. Disregard Trends, Acquire Style Trends are for teenagers. As a stylish adult, you should forget about what's in and what's out, and wear what looks good. If that happens to coincide with what's "in", then fine, but if what's in fashion now is something that makes you cringe, don't wear it. Find your own sense of style, and wear your favorite things with confidence.

Wayne Barker writes for Anna Davies, who stock lifestyle accessories, unique menswear and ladies clothes from a range of household names.
 

Watermelon & Pineapple Salsa Recipe

This past week, they were having a Teacher Appreciation Lunch in the theme of a Luau at my son’s school, and I was kind of at a loss of what to make. I remembered having a Watermelon Salsa at a House Party Event, and thought this would be something fun and tropical for the teachers to enjoy. I went to Allrecipes.com and found a recipe for Watermelon Salsa but as I usually do, I like to experiment and make things my own so I amended the recipe for my tastes. CLICK HERE - Watermelon Salsa to see the original recipe and for proper credit.

Here is what I used in my Watermelon and Pineapple Salsa Recipe:
3 cups of Chopped Seedless Watermelon, small pieces
1 20oz can of Crushed Pineapple Drained (Drain it Well!)
1 Large Vildalia Onion Chopped into Small pieces
1/2 cup of fresh chopped Cilantro
1/4 cup of Orange Juice
1 tsp of Hot Sauce

FYI, I picked up Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips to serve with it. Directions are below:

First I washed and chopped the Cilantro and placed it in the bowl.
I then drained and placed the pineapple in with the cilantro.
I added the Orange juice to this mixture.
Next, I chopped the onions and added this to the bowl.
Finally, I chopped up the Watermelon and mixed all the ingredients together including the hot sauce. After it was all mixed up, I took the left over Watermelon and thinly sliced the edges and used this to line the bowl to give it decoration.
I placed it in the refrigerator and kept it refrigerated until it was ready to serve.

I think it turned out great for my first try! If you make it, let me know what you think.

frugalandfunmom.com is authored by Carlee Colonneso. She is a stay at home mom, true Florida Native, and a Graduate of the University of South Florida. She is the mother of two children with another on the way, and wife to an awesome husband! Frugal and Fun Mom is the Place for Family Fun! Check out her Posts on Product Reviews, Giveaways,  Kid’s Activities, and Fun Frugal Living! 
Check out the original blog post HERE.
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Working Mother - Free Magazine

Enjoy a free 6 issue subscription to Working Mother magazine. No strings attached. You'll never receive a bill. This subscription is yours, compliments of StartSampling.com. Working Mother is the only national magazine that helps moms with careers balance their personal and professional lives.
 

Why Instagram is Great for Your Business

The key to a successful marketing campaign is to connect with your audience. This means that if your customers enjoy a particular activity you should be putting your message in front of them – in a manner that they are happy to receive. Instagram is the mobile phone photography application that demystifies photo editing and is fastest growing (and the most fun) of the social networks available. Originally launched in October 2010, it was for iPhone users only, more recently, in April of this year 2012, Android phones were already able to make use of it as well. Indeed its popularity has grown tremendously since it was first introduced to the public because of its amazing fusion of photography and social media via the utilization of mobile phones. Thus, such fusion has greatly influenced how business is done today. Is it worth it for a business though? Well a lot obviously depends on your niche, and the product that you are selling. If you are looking for brand awareness then it’s a certainty, with 80 million users and a very fast growing user base it’s a good place to be. For direct sales it’s a little more difficult to make a hard sell, as you can’t have external links in the images and – as with all social networks commercialization is frowned upon.

Making Your Instagram Marketing Plan
Of course there are also things that you need to consider when posting pictures. You have to ask yourself first what your goal is. This will help you decide on what to post and how to reach out to your target market. The next steps you ought to take will depend on how people react to your posts. It is very important for you to have a sustainable marketing plan in order to achieve your goal. So based on your objectives, you should come up with a marketing plan that suits your target audience. You can create hashtags, for instance, which you can employ for your products and services. Select what you want to focus on in the process. A big part of this is brand development. If you know what to concentrate on, you can carefully build your brand, push your products and services, and acquire fan-generated content. One example that you can follow is that of Ben & Jerry or Sharpie. They have made use of Instagram to promote their brands by taking snapshots of their road shows and events and posting these for others to see. They also regularly post photos of new products. At the same time, they have allowed people to participate actively through taking and posting pictures related to their brand and also through contests. They use brand hashtags to encourage their fans to do these things and to spread the word about them as well.

A Personal Approach
If you take a look at Instagram, it appears on the surface just like any other social networking provider. You can view the profile wherein the username is included along with the photo's age, captions, comments, and likes. This way, there is more interaction encouraged in the process which builds rapport and relationship. These are, after all, essential in business. Using Instagram for your business is more on a personal level, wherein you get to interact with potential customers or clients through comments, likes, tags, and posts. You get to maximize Internet marketing also because you have easy access to a range of social networks. What's more, because you are mainly using your mobile phone, it is much easier to be "in touch" even if you are constantly on the go. Your updates will matter a lot so that people can always find something new about your business and will keep coming back to your page. Definitely, Instagram will drive good traffic to your account and even to your website.

Making the Most of Snapshots
It is much easier to take photos from your mobile phone's built-in camera and to post it on Instagram. Most cameras now have various features effects that you can utilize such as zooming in and out, cropping capabilities, and color splashes. Cameras have become a main stay of cellular phones because people around the world have gotten accustomed to taking pictures wherever they are. Mobile cameras provide great convenience, which is why taking these snapshots has turned out to be the third on the list of common cell phone activities. Studies show that almost a billion photos have already been taken with Instagram and around 58 of these photos are uploaded every single second. The great thing about this app too is that you can instantly post the pictures on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Flicker. You can even get the chance to connect with foursquare and also to indicate the location of the photo and tag it too. Hence, such a modern feature is very helpful in any business where people need plenty of visuals for their interest to be piqued. There are really great benefits to using Instagram for your business. You just have to think carefully of lay out the marketing plan that will guide you along the way as your business grows and brings in bigger profits.

Steve writes for Buy Instagram Followers – a website designed to help purchase your Instagram likes and Instagram profile artificially.
 

Backyard Design From The 22nd Century

The elusive American dream of owning a comfortable home is well and alive. Among other things, comfort means a livable modern backyard ideal for relaxing and entertaining guests. The modern backyard design is a luxury outdoor landscape featuring fully equipped kitchens, bars, television, music systems and fire places. It is in effect an extension of the living spaces inside the house.

The Patio
The typical modern patio or terrace is relatively bigger than its earlier counterparts because of the growing preference of family members for the lively outdoor ambiance. For instance, enjoying barbecues, dining alfresco, swimming in the pool, listening to music, or simply lounging over some refreshing drinks in the patio provides pleasurable relaxation after a stressful day. The outdoor kitchen is such a hot issue it has become even more detailed than the inner kitchen to include a bar, built-in or portable barbecues, grills, gas-fed stoves and ovens, a refrigerator and wine coolers. The patio materials can come in an array of colors, sizes and shapes depending on the overall architectural theme of the house. A natural-looking patio can be created from natural stones, pavers, bricks, hard concrete slabs, slate, flagstone or fieldstone. A trellis can be added to accommodate vines and aerial plants that contribute to a semblance of freshness.

The Swimming Pool
Time was when swimming pools were meant only for the wealthy and famous. Today, no matter how small or big, a swimming pool is fast catching up as an essential element of every modern home. It too comes in different types, sizes and shapes depending on the size of the backyard and the type of terrain. The latest trend in swimming pools is the infinity edge or vanishing edge swimming pool. Pool water flows continuously toward the edge, giving an illusion of infinity. For the safety of children and pets, it is wise to provide your swimming pool with a self-locking pool fence. The fence should be high enough to prevent children from climbing and should have no gaps to disallow access.

Lighting and Heating
The modern look of your backyard can be enhanced by modern landscape lights with sleek designs in stainless steel or chrome. Consider using floodlights, up lights, down lights, indirect lighting , recessed lighting or LED string lighting. For heating, elegant steel fire bowls, classy fire pit tables or electric outdoor heater lamps will complement the modern style of your backyard.

Our Guest Author is Jennifer Torres. Jennifer is a blogger who likes to write about children safety and regularly contributes to www.aquatechpoolsystems.com. Summer is here, please make sure that you are using proper safety fencing and pool covers for your pool to avoid drowning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Online Poker Tournaments

Face Up Gaming was founded by two regular guys who love playing poker and other games on line but were pissed off and mad as hell that they were unable to see, talk, and listen to their opponents during the game. The proverbial poker face was missing; hence they spent the last three years holed up while developing a brand new experience. Face Up Gaming is the first and only online interactive subscription based gaming site where players can see, hear, and talk to each other, play for, and compete for cash and prizes. The first offering is Poker where for a set monthly subscription; subscriber member players can legally play this game of skill, enter online poker tournaments, and be eligible for huge payouts. Face Up Gaming offers a wide variety of poker games including No Limit, Pot Limit, and Fixed Limit Hold'em, as well as varieties of Omaha, Stud, and Razz. Face Up Gaming has ring games, Sit & Go tournaments, and multi-table tournaments. This particular site is NOT a gambling site, but rather a game subscription site (you pay $25 a month and that’s all you’ll disburse). As such it is 100% legal in the U.S.
 

Gavin's Wish


Gavin was first diagnosed with leukemia at 7 months old. Gavin continued to battle cancer until he was 4 when he finally found a matching donor for a bone marrow transplant. His wish was to meet this extraordinary stranger who saved his life, and City of Hope made it happen. There is a life-saving impact of people willing to donate their bone marrow and continue to make stories like this possible. Please watch this video. Finding an exact bone marrow match is often times an up hill battle but there is strength in numbers if we can continue to encourage others to sign up for a registry.
 

Chili’s Social App - Free Appetizer or Dessert

Visitor must "Like" Chili's, fill out the form, click go to app, then get a Free Appetizer or Dessert Coupon.
 

The First Day of School – Preparing Mommy

The first day of school. All kinds of pictures flash through our minds when we hear that. We think of freshly sharpened pencils and new backpacks and suddenly we’re in tears. What? Tears? Yep, tears. When our babies suddenly become old enough to go to kindergarten, all kinds of feelings rise up and sadness is definitely one of them. Yes, there is an air of excitement and the shopping is fun, but we realize that another milestone in our baby’s childhood has just been reached and we can’t help but look at it through misty eyes.

Just like we get our kids ready, a little preparation can go a long way to making the first day of school a joyful event for Mommy, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned that just might get you off on the right foot:

If possible, arrange for a tour of the school. Knowing what it looks like, meeting the principal, and getting a feel for this place that your child will spend a great deal of time in will go a long way to settling your fears. There’s a reason that schools encourage parents to bring the kids to orientations – and it’s not just because junior needs to see what’s coming. It’s for you, too. Take advantage of it if you can and use the time to initiate conversations with staff and other parents who are present.

Don’t be an island – get to know some of the other Mothers. There’s a chance that your children will travel the next twelve (or more!) years together and getting to know some of the parents will not only set you up for important Intel when the kids are older, it will give you a network of people who are going through the same thing you are. In our school, a few Mom’s initiated a “Kindee Mommy’s Night Out” and it’s been fantastic getting to know other Mom’s in my neighborhood. Many of us are first timers for school and together, with the help of the ‘veterans’ we’re getting the hang of it all. Knowing that there are others you can turn to when you need information or support is priceless.

Get a routine going before school starts. We do this with the kids, but, really, it’s something we need to do for ourselves, too. Just think, now a whole new world of lunch making, permission slip signing, and getting children up early to be ready on time is coming your way. If you start by putting yourself into a routine, you’ll be able to get through it all in a snap. I had to get up even earlier to ensure I had enough time to not only get me ready for work, but to also have my kids fed, dressed and packed up to go. It was a challenge, and I highly recommend you practice ahead of time. Your routine also includes all the things you do the night before. I learned the hard way to do as much as I could before bed, so I suggest you might want to do the same. If you are a stay at home Mom, plan for the change in dynamics. If you only have one child, or a baby that naps, there will now be quiet time you might not have had before. Be ready for it. We may talk about wanting some free time, but after all the hustle and bustle when it comes around it can be very disconcerting. Think about what you’ll do so you aren’t left feeling lonely. You might want to plan a little something for yourself – a sweet treat and a bath, a book you’ve always wanted to read, or a project that you’ve never had time for. It may not be something you do every day, but having a plan for the first week or so is a good idea. Save all the catch up chores for the second week – you’ve earned the treat.

Put the school, daycare, close neighbors, friends or family on speed-dial and in your cellphone. This way you can reach them if you need them from wherever you might be. You never know when you might get stuck in a traffic jam, at work or at an appointment and it’s good to know you can call to get help in an emergency. While you are at it, have an alternate pick up plan to follow, maybe with a safe word so your kids know its ok, too. (Even though you may have called the school, it’s good to have the kids feel safe to go, even with adults they know and trust). If you have children with special needs – medical or otherwise – make sure you’ve got that well communicated before school starts. My children have severe allergies and it sure made a difference to have discussed this and arranged my son’s emergency care with the school so I knew that if he needed it, he’d be ok. This was one of my biggest fears and I’m very comfortable now with what was arranged.

When our babies go to school, it’s a big event for the whole family. By following a few simple steps and preparing not only your children but also yourself, you set things up for success. Remember, this is an exciting moment for your child. When you encourage them to have fun and enjoy every moment, make that a double ended message. Be prepared so you can embrace the change and wonderful things will happen. Friendships, proud moments and maybe even a little time for yourself await!
Jackie Mandzak writes about Loving and Living Life in the ‘burbs on Savvy Suburban Mama (http://savvysuburbanmama.blogspot.ca).
 

An Angel Among Us









Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2nd Annual Boot Ride & Rally Event Features Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Blu-ray, Released Today Aug. 28




On Aug. 26, FX’s Sons of Anarchy cast led the morning motorcycle charity ride with 450 riders/300 passengers following behind as they traveled from Route 66 Classic Grill in Santa Clarita to Happy Endings bar in Hollywood. Proceeds from the ride and rally tickets purchased as well as on-site merchandise benefits The Boot Campaign, which looks to raise funds for military personnel returning home from combat. All ride and rally tickets were completely sold out by the Thursday prior to the event as the venue was already sold to complete capacity (1,400 rally attendees) – a huge leap from last year’s inaugural event. The event celebrated Sons of Anarchy Season 4 on Blu-ray & DVD with a giant DVD promotional stand prominently placed on the red carpet and press line and the riders/passengers received the Blu-ray in their VIP rider packs. After the ride and the VIP meet and greet, the cast of Sons of Anarchy walked the red carpet chatting with press and posing for photos for promotions and fans alike. Those in attendance included, Ron Perlman, Theo Rossi, Charlie Hunnam, Kim Coates, Kurt Yeager, William Lucking, Ryan Hurst, Winter Avezoli, Chris Reed, Dayton Callie, Mark Boone Junior, Tommy Flanagan, Maggie Siff, Chris Browning, Emilio Rivera, Michael Ornstein, and more. The after party will feature a live performance by hit artists, Leeann Tweeden (Fox Sports); Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch including Matt Bradley, Edgar Hansen, Mike Fourtner, Scott Hillstrand and Sig Hansen; Blackberry Smoke. After red carpet arrivals, Boot Ride and Rally event ambassadors Theo Rossi and Kim Coates introduced the party portion and announced performing band Blackberry Smoke who played hits from its new album The Whippoorwill.
 

2012 Sports Parent Of The Year Contest

For the first time ever, Sports Illustrated Kids will recognize a SportsParent of the Year. This parent is dedicated to family and community, and includes sports as a part of an active, healthy lifestyle. She or he exemplifies the qualities that SI Kids aims to impart to children through a shared passion for sports, including: fun, dedication, healthy living, and the value of community and team. The SportsParent of the Year will win a $1,000 gift card to use for their child's sports needs and may appear in a future issue of Sports Illustrated Kids. The contest is now open here: http://www.sikids.com/sportsparent

HOW TO ENTER:
This contest begins at 12:00 P.M. EST on August 1, 2012 and ends 12:00 P.M. EST on September 24, 2012. To enter, go to www.sikids.com/sportsparent and follow instructions to submit your nomination. Limit one nomination per person or e-mail account. Sponsor is not responsible for entries not received for any reason. Entries become sole property of Sponsor and none will be acknowledged or returned. By entering, entrant, all nominees (Contestants) warrant that any materials submitted (1) are original and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party, (2) have not been published in any medium. For all the rules please visit HERE.

 
I will receive an SI Kids goody basket and a year subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids in conjunction with this post.

BatteryHeads

Batteryheads offers a wide range of TechFuel replacement batteries which meet or exceed original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications. Their long-term relationship with their manufactures allows them to sell reliable, quality products at significant savings to customs, such as a portable USB charger battery. You will find the prices to be very competitive with savings often exceeding 50% off of the average retail price. Batteryheads high volume and efficient logistics system allow them to ship orders within one to two business days. They offer shipping via FedEx and the US Postal System. You order will arrive quickly and well packed. All orders come with a thirty-day satisfaction guarantee. TechFuel batteries and accessories also have a one-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. For all your digital battery needs, check out Batteryheads.com.
 

Military Milestones

Military Milestones offers custom military rings of the utmost quality as gifts to honor our soldiers. The company is proud to help individuals and families that serve our country receive an excellent gift that will be cherished for a lifetime. The rings represent all branches of the military, are hand crafted, and manufactured by Balfour, based in Austin, TX. Military Milestone was born with Jerry and Janet Pryor. Jerry served as an Army Chaplin for 32 years, and retired in 2005 after many great milestones in his career. Jerry and Janet love the military, and being a part of military people’s lives. They launched Military Milestones to help support themselves as they travel the world, training people and families as life coaches and marriage counselors. In 2009 Jerry and Janet asked a close friend, Eric Sztanyo to join their team. Eric himself has not served in the military, but his grandfather was a WWII fighter pilot of the Bristol Beaufighter. Eric also has a brother in law who is currently stationed in South Korea serving in the Army. Eric and his family respect and honor those who serve our country, and he has been more than happy to be a part of a company that honors soldiers and veterans with these great military gifts. Military Milestones wants to make your gift as personal as possible, and that is why they let you customize their rings completely. You can customize your ring by choosing from many different precious metals, ring styles, stone cuts, and even engravings. There are 100’s of side design emblems to choose from. Rings start as low as $159.95. The company believes that the best gifts soldiers can receive are those that are personalized, and these custom military rings are a perfect fit. Be sure to check out Military Milestones user friendly website for yourself where they always have a low price guarantee, and even free shipping on all of their products! Also be sure to check out some of the testimonials while on their site to hear from past customers. Unfortunately, our soldiers and veterans go unappreciated, but the company routinely receives feedback from gift recipients who are overwhelmed by the rings. If you need a gift for a loved one in the military, be sure to swing by Military Milestones.
 

Overdressed: The truth about ‘fast fashion’

We all love a bargain but at what cost? If it means the wide-spread pollution of rivers and the illness of workers, would cheap clothing still be worth it? Well, it's time to consider those issues, because as it turns out, cheap clothing is an eco fashion nightmare. That's the verdict of the new book by author Elizabeth L. Cline called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Elizabeth spent three years investigating what's now being dubbed the fast fashion trend. And what she uncovered will change your shopping habits. In the US, around 20 billion clothing items are bough each year, which works out at around 64 garments per person every year. And the recession has meant that cheaper fashion chains have thrived as people, rather than cut back on their clothes shopping, have simply bought cheaper clothes. Technology has also meant that as mass market labels such as H&M and Zara can produce clothing, faster and cheaper than ever before, releasing more goods with changing trends. But it's not just technology that has helped. The mass clothing manufacturers also rely on low-wage labour, often overseas.

Elizabeth started the book following her own experience of pondering the purchase of a $7 pair of shoes from Kmart. And it was a journey that would lead her to factories in China to learning sewing from Dominican seamstresses. And it’s a journey that has lead Elizabeth to believe that thanks to fast fashion, shoppers treat clothing, like food, as something disposable that we can throw away. But the environmental consequences are not quite as easy removed. So who's to blame for this shopping trend: us the consumers; or the producers? Elizabeth reckons it has much to do with Zara founder, Amancio Ortega Gaona, who streamlined communication in his company to such a level than, today, that within two weeks, Zara can have a product designed and on the shop floor. How's that for fast fashion. Some might argue, so what; shopping is fun and there's charity shops to use our cast-offs. Not according to Elizabeth. She reckons that the reported clothing deficit is a myth and, in fact, it's been years since charity shops have been able to shift all of our used clothing. Instead both of these work as excuses for people, helping us to justify our shopping addiction. So if you think that those bi-annual charity bags are your contribution to eco fashion, then think again.

So, how do we change our fast fashion habits? According to Elizabeth the answer lies, literally, in our hands. By making our own clothes, Elizabeth believes we could cut down on the environmental costs of fashion. And it's not just a dream. There are plenty of people who successfully make their own clothes. Some retailers have taken steps to address the problem too. H&M, for example, have produced their a Conscious Collection, which uses some recycled materials in items. However, the fashion industry still has a long way to go. So the next time you are tempted to pick up a bargain, think about the cost to our planet as well as the cost to your wallet.

This blog post was written on behalf of The Splash, an online magazine that focuses on all things eco-friendly and fun! If you’re interested in ethical fashion, you might like our “wear and care” section on the site.
 

Thailand

If you were a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo recently flying southeast out of Bangkok, Thailand, you would, in all likelihood, come across a poor specimen of the expat breed in the town of Ban Phe on the Gulf of Thailand. That particular expat would be muttering to himself, trying to work up the courage to eat a piece of fresh durian. By a remarkable coincidence that would floor a Kipling or a Conrad, that miserable expat is me. I spent several years in Thailand thirty-some years ago, as a volunteer missionary for my church, then came back in 2003 to take a TESOL course at TEFL International, in Ban Phe, so I could teach English in Thailand. I stayed a year and a half to teach English. But in all that time, I’m ashamed to admit, I couldn’t bring myself to eat a single slice of durian – a fruit so entwined with Thai culture and cuisine that to refuse its embrace is tantamount to blasphemy.

I left Thailand in disgrace, a traitor, in my own mind, to all things Thai and wonderful. Last March, when the sour economy finally caught up with me and I was out of work, I decided to try my luck back in Thailand. I came back to Ban Phe, to work as a communications specialist for TEFL International; the school is booming as more and more college graduates decide to come over for the one-month TESOL course and then fan out across the length and breadth of Thailand to teach English in public schools, universities, and Buddhist wats. The demand has never been greater for certified English teachers.

As I boarded my Delta flight at the Hubert Humphrey terminal I vowed that this time around, I would eat the fruit of the durian, come hell or high water. As luck would have it, I arrived in Ban Phe just as the monsoon season struck, so there was plenty of high water. Still, I would have to face Durio kutejensis sooner or later. I opted for later. In the meantime I again plunged into the sensual delights of this quiet little port town on the Gulf of Thailand. A plate of fried rice with fresh crab costs 35 baht – about one dollar. I scarfed baked cockles on the half shell. I bade local sea-side chefs to drop a half dozen peacock mantis shrimp into boiling saltwater and then savored them on a bed of green papaya salad with sticky rice on the side. And all of this cost less than a dinner at the local Red Lobster back home.

I swam and lazed on the free public beach outside of town. A word of caution, though; wear scuba slippers when you swim or snorkel, there are spiny sea urchins and occasional outcroppings of coral that can do more than just tickle your feet. I hired a song-tiaw for two dollars to take me up into the hills to tour rubber plantations. (A song-tiaw is a golf cart on steroids that is ubiquitous and for hire to go anywhere at anytime in Thailand.) An overnight trip to nearby Rayong for shopping, or Chonburi for a movie with English subtitles, is within the budget of the meanest backpacker; the bus is the equivalent of $1.20 and a clean, air-conditioned room in a guesthouse is about 4 dollars per night. Bangkok is only two hours away by bus, and the air-con bus in Ban Phe leaves every hour on the hour for the Big Mango. Cost: about five dollars in US dollars.

The open air markets in Ban Phe feature weird and wonderful artifacts for the tourists who stream down from Bangkok on weekends. Ever wanted a fossilized blowfish lamp for that certain someone? How about a big bag of fish paste or dried squid? Best of all are the sea shells, at unbelievable prices. I have seen bright cream-colored auger shells, goldmouth snail shells, scorpio shells, gorgeous abalone shells with their mother-of-pearl inlay and a galaxy of twinkling cowrie shells. A bag of them that you can barely lift will set you back two-hundred baht. That’s about $7.00. Finally (gulp!) the open air markets feature rows upon rows of durian, either dried or made into a taffy. Next door to the markets are little booths that sell all sorts of meats and fish stir fried with plenty of nam plaa, chili peppers, and . . . durian. Every time I come across these establishments I lower my eyes in shame. I cannot even force myself to try the durian taffy, let alone a full-course meal featuring the fragrant fruit.

It’s a little late in the day to begin explaining the durian, but perhaps you’ve never heard of them, even though I can’t get them out of my mind. Throughout Southeast Asia they are called ‘the king of fruit’. Their taste has been compared to a custard spiced with cardamom, cloves and chili peppers. The fruit is a bright, bilious yellow. They grow on trees that soar fifty or sixty feet into the air, and they are encased in a green thorny carapace that can make the whole fruit weigh up to seven pounds. The fruits are not harvested until they plunge to the ground. Walking to and fro through a durian plantation in the cool of the evening, you would be well-advised to wear a hard hat. You would no more consider having a sit-down dinner without durian in Thailand than you would a barbeque back in the States without mustard and ketchup. It’s the smell that makes the durian infamous, and well I know it! I have ridden in buses with Thais who have cheerfully cracked open a couple durian for the long trip, filling the bus with an odor that can only be described as dried vomit overlaid with fermented gym socks. Compared to that awesome fragrance, changing a baby’s diaper is a stroll through a French perfume shop.

So there you have it – my confession. Even though I can speak Thai, read Thai, have many Thai friends, and now have a career in Thailand, I cannot, I will not, partake of the durian. Every other expat I know has sampled the durian and survived to brag about it. Some depraved expats have even developed a taste for it and gobble it down as lustily as the Thais. But I will go to my grave as durian-less as a newborn babe. Please pass the mangosteens.

About the author:
Tim Torkildson divides his time between Thailand and the USA, working as an English teacher in Thailand, and a free-lance blogger in America. He is currently helping to support the Thai essential oils industry at http://www.essentialoildetails.com/
 

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Ton Of Guest Bloggers

You're going to see a ton of guest bloggers here in the next week or so, since today marks the day the accident happened that took our Mason away from us forever. I might schedule other stuff around this time as well.....but I have asked other bloggers and friends to post on my blog for me, as I want content on here to keep the blog going.....but I will not be around - mentally or physically. We are checking out for awhile, and going to surround ourselves with family and friends. THANK YOU a million times over for those who are filling the spots for me. It means a ton! The first anniversary of my baby's death will be harder than any of others to come...and your support is amazing. Thank you.
 

Life In Balance Contest

How do you create Balance in your life? That's what Natural Vitality, Manitoba Harvest, Happy Belly Bags and Ashley Koff RD, celebrity dietitian & author of Mom Energy want to know! Do you plant a garden, recycle or shop locally? Inspire others, join the conversation and tell us how you find balance in life! No matter what obstacles stand in the way of life's journey, they want to know how you overcome these adversities to find balance.

This contest is designed to uplift those around us and to inspire a well-balanced change! Tell them how you create balance in your life and you have the chance to win up to 9 prizes worth a total of $1900. Ashley Koff RD, celebrity dietitian & author of Mom Energy, believes that we've all heard the recommendation before - "try to achieve balance for a healthier lifestyle." Truth be told, though, the idea of balance can seem tricky, even downright challenging for many of us, even herself. Why is that? Often, the concept and advice for "being in balance" is linked to preparation, and knowing what we will need and want in the future. Truthfully, though, that idea is flawed because our bodies-from each cell to though to movement-are dynamic, always moving and changing. It is challenging for most to predict what they will want and need nutritionally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually tomorrow or further in the future. For this reason, Ashley tries to redefine what balance means; taking better care of your body and mind today, so that it will be in the best position to respond to, and even determine to some extent, what you might need and want in the future. She relies on products from Natural Vitality and Manitoba Harvest to help her and her clients achieve that type of balance daily.

How to Participate:
Natural Vitality, Manitoba Harvest, Happy Belly Bags and celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff are inviting people, from all walks of life to share their balance! To get involved simply tell us how you find balance.

The contest ends October 19th, 2012 and winners will be announced on or around October, 22th 2012.

Official rules are posted at http://naturalvitality.com/official-life-in-balance-contest-rules/. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Open to Canada and the USA.

How to Enter:
You can enter by going to https://www.facebook.com/NaturalVitalityLifeNutrified. Simply click on the Life in Balance contest tab and follow the instructions. This is your chance to share and inspire!

What You Win:
9 lucky people have the chance to make an impact and win some great prizes!
Grand Prize Winner:
One lucky winner will receive a phone consultation with Ashley Koff RD, celebrity dietitian & author of Mom Energy, a Happy Belly Bag designed by celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff, and Natural Vitality and Manitoba Harvest Life Balancing Makeover Kits, including their award winning products and more!
Weekly Winners:
Each week for eight weeks one winner will receive a Happy Belly Bag designed by celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff, a Natural Vitality Hemp t-shirt, as well as select Natural Vitality & Manitoba Harvest products.
 

Happy Halloween #Halloween2020