tip: how to clean a ceiling fan

Required Elements:

  • ladder
  • pillowcase

How to:

  1. Mount ladder near outside edge of blades
  2. Slip pillow case over blade #1
  3. Grasping edges of blade, slide pillowcase along length of blade
  4. Swivel fan and repeat on each blade

Boom. Two minutes. Clean as a whistle. No fuss. No muss. No dust and dirt flying in your face. Simply throw pillow case in washing machine. How’s that for easy?!

breakfast for the foreseeable future

I’m a smoothie girl. I have one nearly every morning for breakfast. My Vitamix blender is one of my favorite possessions which says a lot. But I do tend to whip up the same combination nearly every day. So, a little variety in my morning blend sounded like a good idea. Enter Daily Harvest. They do the mixing, chopping and freezing of ingredients for 15 different smoothie combinations. You add the liquid and do the blending. How’s that for easy with a good amount of variety?

Here’s how it works — the last Thursday of every month I receive 24 cups — actual paper cups with plastic lids and a straw hole (my favorite part because I always drink my smoothies with a straw!) filled with a combination of nutritious flash frozen fruits, veggies, nuts and other flavor boosters. You add the milk alternative or other liquid of your choice, dump it in your blender and blend. Pour it back in the cup, cover with lid, pop in a straw and drink.

Ahhh, but that’s not all. They also offer soup cups, chia cups, overnight oat cups and what is my favorite, sundae cups — tasty combinations of healthy-ish ingredients to which you add a small about of almond milk to make an ice cream textured treat that gets topped with crunchy and delicious toppings. They are a bit hard on my blender (yes, even my Vtamix) but pretty ingenious for this ice cream lover. I always include four sundae cups in my smoothie delivery for a weekly Friday night treat.

Let’s talk cost — I started with the 9 cup per week delivery on a promotion. But then switched to the monthly delivery to get the ongoing cost per cup down to $6.99 each. Nearly restaurant prices for sure, especially since you still need to add the liquid on top of this cost. However, for ease and variety I’m good to pay the premium price. I just pick up a jug of unsweetened almond milk with my weekly grocery shop and breakfast is sorted.

This is not a promoted post — just my current breakfast choice. But you can get three free cups with your first order by clicking here.

Enjoy!

australian television rocks

To round out my obsession with Australia in general, I have discovered that there are some pretty awesome Australian television shows worth a binge watch. Here are a few of my favorites:

A Place to Call Home

The Downton Abbey of Australia. Wealthy land owning family in a small country town outside of Sydney set just after World War II, deals with the changing times and a whole host of intriguing social issues. Currently in season 5 and available through the subscription service Acorn TV on Amazon for under $5/month or as a YouTube subscription

The Kettering Incident

A sci-fi mystery set on the beautiful and unmistakable Tasmanian coast. The setting is as much a character in this one and done series as are any of the actors — who are superb! Dark, mysterious and simply breathtaking. Available on Amazon Prime.

Janet King

Featuring the same lead actress as A Place to Call Home, Marta Dusseldorp (how she does two ongoing hour long dramas at the same time is a mystery) this series is three seasons in and a spin off of the equally binge worthy Crownies following the equivalent of the Sydney DA’s office prosecuting a host of serious murder and sex crimes set against the personal lives of the young and sexy prosecution team. Janet King sets a more serious tone than the original, following the burgeoning career of the most senior prosecutor as she faces personal drama, dangerous retaliation and increasingly challenging career opportunities all in the name of justice — yet still surrounded by the original host of familiar likeable characters.  Both shows are available on Acorn TV through Amazon.

The Wrong Girl

A likeable romantic comedy drama series based on the novel by favorite blogger & instagrammer Zoe Foster Blake. I watch the show more because I’m a fan of Blake’s dry wit and seriously diverse talent — she’s a beauty editor, turned novelist, turned travel writer, turned beauty company founder and hipster spokesperson, winding her way through early motherhood and sharing it all with the world. Not to mention, she’s not afraid to cast her husband in her hit TV series. I just like her style! And the show’s not bad either. Available through various streaming services online — just takes a search.

All good TV!

a note to californians

Did you know . . . starting October 2020, current California drivers licenses will no longer be a valid ID form for airport security?  Which means that you either carry your passport with you when traveling (if you have a Global Entry card that will work too) or get a new license that will meet the federal guidelines. California will start issuing those new format licenses on January 2, 2018. And while we all hate going to the DMV you’re just going to have to suck it up because you can’t apply online. And don’t forget to bring your birth certificate, two documents proving residency and your social security card — yes, all of these!

I suggest going sooner rather than later because while nobody knows about this now, come the last few months of 2020, it’s going to be a scramble and those DMV lines will be even longer. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

new travel obsession

Right now feels like a luggage revolution out there. You’ve got bags that charge your devices, bags with built in GPS so you know where your bag is (but still doesn’t help much if you’re in Paris and your bag is in Dubai), bags that fold down flat to store, bags with permanent luggage scan tags as long as your airline is an affiliated partner, bags that lock automatically when out of range of your phone, bags that blink at you when they are over the 50 lb limit. In other words, bags that solve a whole lot of individual problems but none that take the entire travel experience into consideration and make it easier to get from point A to point B.

That my friends, is what I’m looking for. And as I started to look around for a good four wheeled suitcase (sadly all the bags I recently wrote about have been swept away by the digital revolution) I stumbled upon what just may be the most amazing suitcase solution  I have ever seen.Bugaboo stack.png

The new Bugaboo Boxer luggage system.

Bugaboo 3.png

I think I’m in love!

Let’s just get this out of the way right from the start — it’s expensive. Very expensive. And there are still a few kinks to work out of the system. But I’m going to say, if you travel a lot this luggage seemingly can make your travel experience that much easier.

Just exactly what is The System?

  • One set of wheels that allow you to pull or push your bags with ease
  • Multiple size bags that “click” in and onto each other
  • Bags within bags (that can get all your unexpected purchases home)
  • A handy laptop/magazine/important document organizer at the ready without opening another bag
  • Sleek leather add-ons that go from airport to street with ease

This was me on my last trip — large roller bag with two wheels pulled along by a single shaft handle. Over the shoulder carry on with a change of clothes, toiletries, jewelry, medication, easy to reach cash, travel documents, chargers — the things I want to keep near me —  that while it has a pocket to pass over suitcase handles for easy stacking, doesn’t work well with a single shaft handle. Large cross body purse filled with just my flight essentials — travel pillow, cashmere shawl, headphones, kindle, snacks, water and magazines. It all seems very manageable and organized until I’ve stood in passport control for over an hour and walked 2 miles to the gate wishing i had wheels to take the load. But I just can’t get past the notion that I don’t need two wheeled suitcases for any trip, even if one is very small.

But what if those suitcases stacked onto each other and had just one set of wheels between them? Drop the big bag at luggage check (sans wheels) and walk away with small bag attached to those wheels and a leather tote pinned on, along for the ride. Nothing across your body, nothing over a shoulder, documents easily reachable in a zippered compartment that also holds your laptop, magazines, toiletries and easily separates to go through security? And did I mention it glides with the touch of a finger? I’d happily give up charging capability, GPS, auto locks and auto weigh for this ease of travel.

bugaboo 1.jpg

OK, the system is not without its faults:

  • The hard sided (not my favorite) suitcases in cabin and checked sizes, are super light (4 and 8 lbs, respectively) but the wheels themselves are over 7 lbs. So you are at 11+ lbs without being loaded to lift overhead when you get on board.
  • No locks on the wheels can make for runaway luggage if you don’t hold on at all times.
  • People complain that unlike Bugaboo strollers, the wheels are not terrain or even escalator friendly. But I say, that is when you have to put the wheels in pull mode. Then it acts like any other suitcase that goes over a curb or down an escalator. Two wheel pull mode still offers counter balancing (partially why the chassis is so weighty) that helps make the load feel lighter than a typical two wheeled suitcase.
  • You can’t (or shouldn’t) check the wheels attached to the suitcase. So if you check all your bags, you will look a little silly wheeling around just the built in document case.
  • There’s a bungie system built into the wide spread handle intended to keep things you want to balance atop your suitcase from falling through like a purse, a coat or a travel pillow. Seems a bit flimsy and a bit of an afterthought. One thing I have learned the hard way, there is something to be said about the standard double shaft handle on a suitcase.
  • The large bag is 31″ — larger than any suitcase I currently own. The small bag is an international carry on size — rather small for a long weekend I find. And while they make a more standard domestic carry on instead, I doubt I would ever have need for that much combined space which kind of defeats the purpose. I’d hope to see more sizes in the future that provide true mix and match customization. Although when I inquired about this, I was told there are no plans for additional sizes currently.

All that said, a system like this might just be the ticket to easy, less stressful travel. It’s very very tempting . . .

give the gift of experience

Shy of sending someone of a fully paid vacation somewhere in the world (wouldn’t that be nice!) for friends & family who like to travel, you can enhance any vacation they take with an experience to remember this holiday season.

1)  Priced from $79-279 you can gift a travel experience in over 100 countries. Just pick a theme, write a note and the recipient will receive the below box with 24 months to redeem their choice of experiences.  A nicely packaged, no fuss, no research selection of curated travel experiences. From Tinggly2)  New to Air BnB are the addition of experiences. One of which I recently tried out in Lisbon and loved. It seems a natural progression to connect travelers with experiences to pair with lodgings just about anywhere in the world. And you can really find just about anything which is what I love about this platform — not only are there organized tours and experienced tour operators but also individuals just wanting to share their passion and make a buck. Book a specific event on a specific date or give a gift certificate. They never expire and can be used to book lodgings or experiences. You choose the dollar amount. My kind of gift.

gift guide 2017

Objects of DesireWho wouldn’t want one of these beauties adorning their desk?  The Glass House Snow Globe $75 and the 14K Gold Plated Slinky $150, both from the Glass House Design Store. The rubber band ball gets a make over in designer black & white $9 from The Line.

BAH Humbug!Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and sometimes, you just have to celebrate the bad times. The snow globe that says it all $60 from Artware Editions. A dram a day Advent Calendar, available with a range of alcoholic pleasures from Whiskey to Tequila or customize your own mix. $110 – $308 from Master of Malt. And for the naughty ones. . . shiny coal all wrapped up in a beautiful Tiffany Blue box  $12,95 at Amazon.com.

My Favorite ThingsI’m pretty particular about the objects I let into my life these days but these items are most definitely worthy! The new space saving cookware by Calphalon — why didn’t somebody think of this years ago?  Available in both non-stick (pictured) and stainless steel it’s a bargain at just $381 for the 10 piece set at Macy’s. It’s a splurge to spend $125 on a candle but it’s also a beautiful reproduction bust from a 1777 sculpture by a French candle company that has been producing since 1624. Pretty special if you ask me. And lastly, the most ingenious teapot I have ever seen. I used this at my hotel in Lisbon and ordered one to be delivered to my house before I even arrived home thanks to the internet. Made by MENU of heat-resistant glass, when the tea reaches your desired strength simply pull on the silicone string to lift the infuser out of the water — no dripping, no mess. Keep tea warm over a tealight candle with the add on porcelain and silicone studded base. Apprx. $120 for the two pieces (candles not included).

The One Thing We Should All Have Rarely do we spend the money on something like this ourselves. Exactly why this makes the perfect gift! The most comprehensive survival kit on the market, with everything you may need to stay alive for 72 hours after an emergency. From Uncharted Supply Company $350

tricks to booking with miles

A friend recently gave me some great advice — always have your next trip decided before you finish your current one. That way you’ll have something to look forward to vs. experiencing post vacation blues. I plan on living by this advice.

To that end, my next trip Down Under (decided upon while recently traveling in Lisbon) is well underway in the planning department. First stop, booking my flights with miles. And imagine my disappointment when nearly two full weeks of return flights from Melbourne were blocked out on American Airline’s online booking tool during my chosen travel dates.

After nearly a full day wasted, spent looking at actually purchasing tickets and comparing multiple itineraries across multiple airlines where prices and options varied wildly, I was convinced there must be a way to book the trip I actually wanted to take, on the dates I wanted, flying in and out of the cities I wanted to. And darn it, I was gonna use miles — which is not free by the way. You have to pay the tax on the flight, you have to pay for a seat, and as it turns out you have to pay a booking fee. That’s right, $40 ($75 if within 21 days of departure) to speak with a live person can get you exactly the trip you want as long as you do the legwork first. Not a terrible financial penalty when you consider purchasing those tickets could be in the thousands.

So, for all you One World Alliance members out there, this is how you do it. . .

If you are an American Airlines Advantage member like me, start by looking online at AA.com. A few years back AA made using miles and booking international flights online possible which can save you the booking fee if you’re lucky.  Sometimes you’ll  find exactly the flights you want. Other times you won’t. And that is where this bit of knowledge comes in handy:

The AA online booking tool lies. It does not give you all your hard earned flight options when it comes to using miles. In fact, it only shows you other airlines if their own flights are not available and even then (as in my case), not always. Now that AA flies their own planes to Australia and are not just a One World partner to Qantas, never does a Qantas flight option appear on their website.

The good news … there are other search tools out there to help. Both British Airways and Qantas online booking tools, have search functions that allow you to see most, if not all,  flights available for miles anywhere in the world, on any One World Alliance airline. Search on these websites, find your exact flights, call an American Advantage international ticket agent, pay your forty bucks and tell them exactly the flights you want to book — et voila! Plane tickets sorted.

HELPFUL HINTS:

  • To use these search engines, you must be a member of that airlines rewards program. You’ll need a member number and password to search reward flights.
  • From the Qantas home page, (my search tool of choice) when you start typing in a city to fly in or out of, you immediately get the drop down planning tool below.  Fill in your plans, provide your rewards member info and click USE POINTS — CLASSIC FLIGHT REWARDS ONLY to search all One World airlines rewards availability.
  • While it may cost extra when paying for a ticket, it is no extra miles to fly into one city and out of another. All miles flights are calculated as one way rewards redemption. Use the Multi City tool to search available options.
  • Searching on the British Airways site is a little trickier but often more thorough depending upon your destination. First select the tab for Executive Club at the top of the home page. In the Executive Club drop down click “Spending Avios”.  When on the Spending Avios page, scroll down to “find availability” just above the book reward flights button. Then to find flight options on One World partner airlines, select the blue “search & book” button on the right. From there you will be directed to sign into your Executive Club account before you can start your search.
  • Have an American Airlines credit card? You qualify for Miles Saver Rewards — for a trip to Australia, that’s half the amount of miles for each leg. My round trip coach ticket into Sydney and out of Melbourne was 80,000 miles. When you consider you can easily use 60,000 miles to fly to NYC that’s a bargain, even with the $40 fee.
  • Have premium status on American? Lucky you — fee waived!
  • Business & First Class reward flights to Australia, come up just a few times a year, if at all. In other words, don’t count on being comfortable while in flight.
  • Seats on American Airlines to Australia start at $95. I opted to pay $150 for an extra 5 inches of leg room which on a long haul flight can make the world of difference. Because I was using miles, the extra $55 didn’t hurt too much and it gave me the opportunity to try out the new Dreamliner aircraft in one direction. Coming home I am flying Qantas where standard coach seats on the A380 are only $30 by comparison.
  • You should be supplied a different ticket locator number for each airline you book. You’ll have to go on the partner website with that partner airline ticket locator number to make & pay for your seat selection, provide your travel document information, etc . . . Once done, however, all that information will show up on your American Airlines trip overview using the AA ticket locator number so you can print it all out in one document.
  • DO opt to pay and choose your seat regardless of what airline you choose. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle when you could have paid a small fee to be on an aisle and free to get up and walk around at will. I promise you, on a 15 hour flight it is worth it!
  • Dress well, smile and ask for an upgrade at the airport. You never know when you might get lucky!