Friday, December 14, 2012

Where are the Best Family Vacation Destinations in Europe?

Heading to Europe for a vacation can be an exciting time. Naturally, if you head there from the United States, then there is likely a large financial investment taking place on your part. Anyone heading over the Atlantic for their family vacation will want to ensure that they head to an exciting destination that is well worth their outlay.
We looked at some of the best family vacation destinations in Europe and why you should consider heading there on your next trip.
Crete, Greece
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and has a rich history attached to it, and is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern civilisation. If you like your vacation to have a little bit of all elements contained within it, then you could do a lot worse to head here.
There is history, nature, modern cultural experiences, and waterparks for the children, gorgeous restaurants, and beaches that will astound you. Crete’s location in the southern Mediterranean sees it enjoying an African-type climate, so if heat and sunshine are your vacation vices it’s a definite ‘must do’ trip!
Madeira, Portugal
This Portuguese island in the Atlantic is one of the most tranquil destinations in the whole of Europe. We’d suggest travelling here during the month of July, as every Saturday throughout the month there are huge celebrations as a fireworks festival takes place across the island.
If you thought Macy’s in New York was impressive on Fourth of July, then the Madeira displays, the world’s largest for the past five years, will blow your mind.
Madeira offers a calm, relaxing vacation that will allow for quality family time while having great fun and recharging your batteries.
South of France
Many non-European natives tend to head to the islands, and although we have suggested two great ideas, there is no doubting that various locations on the mainland have much to offer, too.
The South of France is popular with tourists from all around the world, as well as being a favourite destination for the rich and famous of the area to congregate and, in many cases, live. The principality of Monaco and the city of Marseilles are two excellent places to visit, although in truth there are outstanding sights to see all along the southern French coastline.
As well as the stunning local area, the South of France also serves as a perfect gateway to the beautiful northern areas of Spain and Italy.
Author Byline: This article is written by Fireworks Crazy, an online and store seller that have the best fireworks for sale  for those special festivities.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post

Popular world news4u is a blogger site which keeps you updating about the most happening News across the Globe. I take this opportunity to invite all the blogger who are interested in the same can post their guest articles. I am giving them opportunity to write on my blog about Lifestyle,Food,Travel,Shopping reviews,Computer tips.We will post your desired link on our blog.

Please send your articles to  this Mail ID: popularworldnews4u (at) gmail (dot) com and mention "Guest Post" as Subject.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Best Places to Retire in 2012

  A blizzard of articles give advice about the best places to retire. They generally recommend fleeing the North and heading for the Sunbelt, to places in the Carolinas, Florida, or Arizona. Occasionally they offer a surprise retirement spot in Iowa or Indiana. Sometimes they even tout retirement locales outside the United States.
These articles rely on statistics such as the cost of living or winter temperatures. But they miss the most important thing--the human element. Here are the real best places to retire:
Stay home. As we get older, moving, making new friends, and acclimatizing ourselves to new surroundings gets more difficult. Don't underestimate the value of your current community. Think long and hard before you cut those connections to go off to get a sunburn.
Your hometown likely offers more senior citizen benefits than you think including tax breaks, low-cost transportation, and subsidized meals. We have friends in the outer suburbs of New York who always thought they would retire somewhere warmer. But they finally realized how important their church community was to them and decided to stay put. Now they visit the senior center for a free meal every Thursday night. They walk at the mall two or three mornings a week and stay for coffee with new acquaintances. And they are still active in their church, among the friends they've known for decades.
Move near your children. My brother-in-law spent most of his career working around Pittsburgh, Pa. After he retired, he and his wife gathered together all the brochures and ultimately decided to move to Massachusetts. Their daughter lives outside of Boston and their son is in Rhode Island. They moved from a four-bedroom suburban home to a two-bedroom bungalow in their daughter's town. Their yard is smaller, just right for Grandpa to keep an eye on the grandkids while he relaxes on the patio. They've met new friends through their daughter, and they love their new life, in an area often billed as cold and expensive.
Follow your friends. One fellow I know retired to Maryland. Why? His long-time golfing partner retired there a few years earlier. He moved to the same town, joined the same golf club, and soon they were prowling the links together, just like old times. A year later, another friend joined them, who had a relative living nearby, and they all now play golf twice a week.
Their wives, who had known each other casually, are now close friends. They started a bridge club, brought in some other women, and from there developed meaningful connections to the community. These couples now feel as though, as one of the women put it, "We've lived here all our lives."
Move back home. One friend of mine grew up in El Paso, Texas. She went to college in California, then got married and moved to Washington, D.C. Some 25 years later, her husband died and she felt lost in the big city. She moved back west, to nearby New Mexico, where she started a small business which included some clients in Washington. Now she lives in her beloved mountains and travels to Washington occasionally to see clients.
Another woman grew up outside New York. She got married and moved to Oregon and spent most of her 20s and 30s around Portland. Eventually she got divorced and moved first to California, then Arizona, with a year-long stint in Alaska. But when she retired, she felt the pull of Portland, where she still had friends. To her, that was home. And that's where she moved.
No matter where you end up in retirement, remember that relationships are more important than the weather. The warmest climate can be found amidst the safety and security of family and friends.
Source: finance

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

6 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day At Home With Family

 Valentine’s Day is an annual celebration of love and affection every February 14th of the year. Historically, the day is named after several early Christian martyrs who were named Valentine. Although, there were no romantic connotations for the initial commemoration of the feast day of St. Valentine’s, romantic legends, poems, writings, and artworks through time eventually started to associate courtly and romantic love to Valentine’s Day, and eventually to what we now make of it.
As we all know, the day is marked with sending flowers, giving out confectioneries, preferably chocolates, exchanging greeting cards either commercially made or DIY/custom made, or even giving out jewelries to our special loved ones. Romantic dates and getaways, and the prom season also relate to Valentine’s Day celebration. But more importantly, the season could actually best be revered as also a special day of celebrating love in one’s family.

Looking at the ornaments that adorn our stores and malls right after the holiday season, we can say that Saint Valentine’s Day, now commonly referred to as Valentine’s Day, is now actually celebrated with the same fanfare as much as the other seasonal festivities we observed in the Philippines. Hearts, doves & winged cupids line store window trimmings of the malls, retail shops, and restaurants. Timely, when the town seems to be painted in red, also in anticipation the Chinese New Year, it means that Valentine’s Day is also just around the corner.

Maybe, when we actually begin to celebrate it as a family affair more than the romantic aspects of it, we can actually begin to start looking forward more to it as much as we look forward to birthdays and even the Christmas Season. Then, it will not only be by visiting the dining areas, or going on a movie or concert date, as with the usual observance of the day, that will make each and everyone of us appreciate, and enjoy more what Valentine’s Day has to offer. Instead, a family gathering will mark the celebration of love for this year’s Heart’s Day. Hence, we can also actually begin to celebrate it at home with our family by:

1. Appreciating one another. First and foremost, the day can also be celebrated by appreciating each member of the family. It could actually be an extended “Thanksgiving” celebration. If on that day, we celebrate things and people, basically the “what” we are thankful for, on Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the “why”. It’s about reaffirming each and every one in the family of their love and kindness. It’s about telling them how much each and one of them in our family means to us.  Truly, action speaks louder than words, but wouldn’t it be more fun and equally memorable if we hear one another actually let one another know what they feel about us. Find a special time for an exchange of greeting cards, which tell one another why we appreciate them, or a round table discussion where everyone could have a turn to tell one another’s appreciation message for each and every member of the family.

2. Dressing up for the occasion. Dressing in red and wearing the color of the day could be actually the easiest and the basic activity to set the mood in our family celebration. The scrapbook worthy photos we take during the day would best remember every Valentine’s Day that is shared by the family.

3. Celebrating the joys of sharing the season of love with our children. Everyone plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day in his or her own special ways. But one things for sure, it is a day marked by sweet acts of giving and receiving, or simply says, showing acts of kindness however big or small.

For our school children, Valentine’s Day season is marked by making heart-shaped paper cut outs or art works. For our teenagers, it progresses to giving flowers or chocolates or other gifts. Share the joys of sharing with our kids, by helping them prepare simple greeting cards or tokens for their teachers, classmates, friends, and most especially to the other members of the family. Or enjoy a trip to the mall, to the florist or to the garden together. Walk an extra mile, by making this day extra- special by giving simple tokens or gifts to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Make it more memorable by associating it to something your children can relate to. Like maybe choosing recipients of gifts that are close to his age, or close to mom’s/grandparents’ age, something he saw in a movie like giving to children or elders on welfare.

4. Having a family dinner. A meal could be even best enjoyed when everyone had a share in preparing it. Mom or Dad could be the chef, while the kids can share the task of setting up the meal table. Dressing up a matching Valentine’s table setting theme with red hearts and cupids and the like can even make the dinner table colorful.

Plus points if we let our kids practice their artistic skills when it comes to cutting and coloring paper cutouts. Moreover, our little ones can actually improve their culinary skills if we let them have a hand in preparing a meal or homemade (could even be no-bake) desserts. These can even be served in a heart-shaped dish tray. As always, start and end the meal by saying grace.  This can also be the venue for the exchange of “appreciation gifts” or messages for each member of the family.

5. Getting flowers for everyone and sharing a chocolate cake. Brighten up your dinner table with a flower bouquet centerpiece! It’s not just only for mom, or for our older or younger sisters, but it can actually be for everyone’s token of celebration of love. Getting a flower bouquet or a flower stem (a popular choice would be a rose bud), either in the stores or in the garden could actually be a family affair that each member of the family can all cherish.

So just in case dad is busy with work, there is no excuse to miss flowers in the table for today’s big event. It can actually be an adventure that parents can share with their little ones. This time, they can actually be allowed to pick flowers in the garden.

I remembered during our previous school trip with my son, as a culminating activity for their botany month, they visited a garden. And most of the time they were constantly reminded not to pick flowers. So sharing a trip to the florist or to the garden, could even be an educational activity that our little ones can enjoy as they see different kinds of flowers and decorative plants. Along the way, as we put together our floral bouquet / centerpiece, our kids were able to explore their creativity and skills in floral arrangement. Make this act extra meaningful and relevant by showing our children to make an effort to take care of the flowers afterwards by watering them, and even re-planting, if possible, the flower and the stem cuttings.

Of course, celebrate the sweetness of life together by sharing and enjoying almost everyone’s favorite dessert, chocolate cake. A nicer touch to this is by letting your kids still have fun by incorporating the traditional blowing of cake ceremony, only with a twist since you could sing a family theme song instead of the traditional birthday song.

6. Singing Love Songs. We all have happy songs that we can all share together. And as you celebrate love in your family, start your night of serenading one another with songs of endearment.
Source: smartparenting

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

World's Prettiest Hotel Pools

 There are a few things that most of us check beforebooking a hotel: First, if it's clean; second, if it's affordable; and third, if it has a pool. And though we might have been hoping to splash about or swim some laps in an Olympic-size pool, we so often book a place that has a tiny water-filled hole with too much (or too little) chlorine and the occasional child-size Band-Aid floating on the surface. Sure, having a hot tub helps justify a Podunk pool, but why should we settle for anything less than spectacular? To answer that question: we shouldn't. To give you a sense of the greener pastures -- or, in this case, the bluer lagoons -- U.S. News Travel has scoured the globe searching for the most magnificent hotel pools. 
The world's largest pool in Algarrobo, Chile.
Here's what we found:
Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
 In Singapore, bigger is better. And this standard is certainly not lost on the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This stunning three-pronged resort rises a whopping 656 feet above Singapore's Marina Bay and boasts seven restaurants, two theaters, a shopping mall and a museum, not to mention a massive casino. Lying across all three towers is the Sands SkyPark, a sprawling rooftop deck that accommodates dining spots and nightlife venues; the hotel describes it as "longer than the Eiffel Tower laid down." But in our opinion, the resort's infinity pool is by far its most dazzling feature. Stretching almost 500 palm-tree-lined feet along the SkyPark's edge, this is the world's largest outdoor pool at this height. But let's forget about size and discuss the real reason the Marina Bay Sands' swim-spot deserves a slot on this list: its views. Swimmers and poolside loungers can practice their backstroke and work on their tans while savoring Singapore's downtown skyline.

Hotel Caruso Belvedere, Ravello, Italy
Hotel Caruso Belvedere
 Perched along Italy's Amalfi Coast and less than 50 miles southeast of Naples, the Hotel Caruso Belvedere by Orient Express occupies what was once an 11th-century palace. Here, guests gorge on contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, unwind during outdoor massages and snuggle up in plush Neapolitan-style beds beneath frescoed ceilings. But as wonderful as all that sounds, nothing beats a dip in the hotel pool. A rose-lined path extends from the Caruso Belvedere's drawing room, leading to the highest point in Ravello. From there you'll find the hotel's infinity pool curving around the cliffside, making it hard to tell where its water ends and the Tyrrhenian Sea begins. Swim to the pool's edge, where you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the village and harbor below. If you're afraid of heights, then delight in the scenery from a cream-colored lounge chair; from there you'll be well placed to enjoy the ancient ruins that flank the pool's edge. And to top it off, a pool concierge is there to provide fresh fruit, ice-cold drinks and even an iPod that's loaded with your choice of music.

The Joule,Dallas, Texas
The Joule
 Dallas and Fort Worth are two sides to the same coin: While Fort Worth holds tightly to its old-fashioned, cow-town culture, Dallas has launched itself into all aspects of the modern world. The Joule, located in the former Dallas National Bank Building, exemplifies this marriage between the historical and contemporary, with sleek, modern furnishings housed in a structure that dates back to the late 1920s. And the best place to experience this melding of the old and the new is at the hotel's heated, rooftop infinity pool. It extends eight feet beyond the building's edge, allowing swimmers to admire views of the surrounding downtown skyline. Take a break from doing laps to enjoy a Watermelon Sangria, thanks to The Joule's rooftop café. You can even spice things up with a rowdy game of poolside foosball.

Ubud Hanging Gardens, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud Hanging Gardens
 If you prefer secret hide-outs to centralized hotels, then the Ubud Hanging Gardens by Orient Express deserves your attention. This member of the Orient-Express family is tucked away among the towering volcanic peaks and the verdant rice terraces of central Bali, an island in the Indonesian archipelago. Each of the Ubud Hanging Gardens' 38 villas is designed like a traditional Balinese hut and lofted on wooden pillars amid the island's leafy tree line. And although each villa comes equipped with its own private heated pool, visiting the main infinity pool is definitely a must. Its two levels extend one on top of the other, mimicking the structure of the rice terraces on which the gardens stand. Swimmers can delight in fantastic views of the forest canopy or nearby mountains from either the sun deck or the pools' dark stone edges, which blend magnificently into the surrounding scenery. 

Hotel Chocolat, Soufrière, St. Lucia
The Hotel Chocolat
 No other hotel caters as well to the sweet tooth. The Hotel Chocolat rests on a cocoa plantation, The Rabot Estate, located in St. Lucia's southwest coast near Soufrière. Sitting high in the Piton Mountains among a forest of lush cocoa trees, The Hotel Chocolat offers its guests access to the estate's leafy trails. Guests are even invited to participate in the harvest before sampling the delectable crop at the Boucan Restaurant, which serves chocolate-infused dishes like rib-eye steak with a dark chocolate and port wine sauce. But when it comes time for some R&R, nothing beats an afternoon at the hotel's beautiful infinity pool. Chocolate-colored quartz frames this lavish 50-foot-long swimming hole, which opens out into the breathtaking Pitons. After your swim, settle into plush lounge chairs and sample a fruity cocktail or a glass of Prosecco from the Club Bar. And since the Club steward makes regular rounds to replenish drinks and cocoa-infused snacks, you can appreciate all the flavors The Hotel Chocolat has to offer without sacrificing prime poolside real estate.

Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah
 This member of the Aman Resorts family, Amangiri, meaning "peaceful mountain" in Sanskrit -- truly lives up to its name. Guests will enjoy true tranquility at this resort, nestled among the striking rock buttes and desert scenery of Canyon Point in Southern Utah. Amangiri incorporates Utah's coral-colored cliffs and tenacious flora into its design. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the resort pool. This oasis at the heart of the Southwest's unforgiving terrain actually wraps around one of the massive rock walls, which ultimately forces the pool to adopt a "U" shape. Surrounding Amangiri's watering hole are plush lounge chairs and daybeds, while a steamy hot tub and outdoor fireplace allow you to soak in the views even when it's too cold to swim.

San Alfonso del Mar, Algarrobo, Chile
San Alfonso del Mar
 While experiencing temperatures that are consistently above 80 and having direct access to the Pacific Ocean, you might think that the main reason to visit San Alfonso del Mar is its proximity to the beach. However, once San Alfonso's guests take one look at the Saltwater Lagoon, the beach will be the last thing on their minds. This incredible pool measures more than half a mile in length and reaches a depth of 115 feet, making it the largest swimming pool in the world. Like the ocean itself, the Saltwater Lagoon gradually deepens the farther you swim from the shore, and it has several walled, shallow pools to ensure the safety of children and not-so-avid paddlers. But swimming isn't the only thing this pool is good for: Because of its size, you can also cruise the lagoon by boat or even don some scuba gear to explore the pool's floor.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort
 Although Dubai is the self-proclaimed Tourism Capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi isn't slacking when it comes to accommodations. Take the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort: Flanked by the rolling sand dunes of the Liwa Desert, Qasr Al Sarab acts as an oasis, complete with grassy lawns and a traditional Arabian design. But nothing says "paradise" quite like the hotel pool. The free-form, infinity design and surrounding palm trees make it seem more like a natural lake than a swimming pool, while a built-in fountain and scattered islands add a sense of luxury to the scene. From the pool (and the adjacent hot tub), you can savor panoramic views of the dimpled dunes that gather around the water like thirsty travelers. And speaking of thirst, that's the last thing you'll have to worry about; poolside concierges are waiting to serve you ice-cold, fruit-infused cocktails from the Ghadeer bar as you soak up the desert sun.

Four Seasons Resort Maui, Hawaii
Four Seasons Resort
 If you're in search of the perfect tropical getaway, you don't have to look beyond our borders. The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea seems to have luxury down to a science. This immense resort in Maui boasts a beautiful beachfront locale, gorgeous guest rooms, a sumptuous spa and delectable dining options, all of which helped earn it the number-two spot on our 2011 list of the Best Hotels in the USA. But if we had to call out just one Four Seasons feature that makes our eyes pop and jaws drop, it'd be the pool. Guests looking over the vanishing edge of this 4,100-square-foot serenity pool are bombarded with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the nearby island of Lanai. In fact, the pool's beauty earned it the right to grace the June 2011 cover of Condé Nast Traveler. If you're not up for a swim, you can enjoy the vistas from one of the poolside cabanas with a cocktail in hand.
Source: Travel

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pippa Middleton is Photographed 400 Times A Day

 Tired of Pippa Middleton photos? We're pretty confident she is too. On Wednesday the Daily Mail's photo editor, Paul Silva, told the Leveson Inquiry that he receives up to 400 photographs of Pippa Middleton every day. Apparently there has been so much interest in the Duchess of Cambridge's sister since the royal wedding that photographers are constantly camped outside her home hoping to catch a glimpse of the stylish sibling.
Pippa Middleton isn't trying to be photographed, she's walking to work.
 According to the Guardian, the inquiry was set up in the aftermath of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Celebrities constantly complain about being harassed by paparazzi, and you'd think following the tragic accident that caused the death of Princess Diana that photographers would be forced to back off.

Silva insisted the Daily Mail does not use any street photos of Pippa Middleton. "There is no reason to photograph her when she is out and about doing her own thing," he told the Inquiry. "At the moment there are 9 or 10 agencies outside her house [on any given day]. If she goes to get coffee, she goes back into her house, we get 300 to 400 pictures…There is no justification for using them."
The world has been obsessed with Pippa Middleton ever since she was a bridesmaid at the royal wedding last April
 But tabloids and papers like the Daily Mail have only increased our hunger for catching celebrities without makeup on or doing mundane things like buying groceries. While we'd like to blame the paparazzi, and they do often cross the line for a photograph, the agencies and publications they shoot for are also largely at fault.

The counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, asked Silva why the Daily Mail sent 10 or more photographers to the house of Ting Lan Hong, the mother of Hugh Grant's child, last fall. Hong took out an injunction, claiming she was harassed and followed by paparazzi after the birth of her daughter. Silva attempted to describe their process. "A story breaks, we then go to their home, we ask them to pose up, if they say no we'll move on and go away." When asked why the Daily Mail didn't wait for approval before sending photographers to Hong or Grant's house, Silva said, "That's the way we've done it for years."

Many argue that part of becoming a celebrity means letting go of your privacy, but we're pretty sure Pippa Middleton, whose sister happened to marry a Prince, didn't sign up to have her photo snapped 3,000 times a week. News outlets will keep posting these photos to gain more readers and create a fascination with the stars they feature (now people want to dress like Pippa and have a bum like Pippa's). Photographers will then keep taking the photos and collecting their paychecks. And as readers who click on every celebrity headline we are only perpetuating the issue. Is there any foreseeable end to the celebrity obsession, or will it only get worse from here? Source: Shine

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who Will Be 2012's Big Fitness Star?

 We hear a lot about celebrities who've lost weight super fast after a baby or worked to get in some kind of crazy good shape for a movie or event. We even hear a lot about celebs trying to lose weight and be healthier, like Jennifer Hudson on Weight Watchers, Mariah Carey on Jenny Craig, or Janet Jackson on Nutrisystem. Celeb waistlines make headlines.
But what about true fitness stars? These A-list and up-and-coming fitness experts are bound to be household names this year, if they aren't already. They've got big plans this year, and many of them are probably working out your favorite celebrities. So it's kind of like that Kevin Bacon game… does a workout with Giada DeLaurentiis' trainer in fact yield a body like Giada?

These are our picks for the Fitness Stars to Watch in 2012.

Holly Perkins will continue her relationship as a fitness ambassador for New Balance, a gig she is passionate about. She told us she'll be a part of announcing some of their "super cool new products" this year. She'll become CSCS certified, the most prestigious and difficult training certification to receive, offered by NSCA. Her first book is in the works, and she's co-writing with Natalie Nevins, MD, DO, MSHPE; the title is yet to be revealed. Holly's also excited about releasing a home fitness DVD program, which she calls "a collection of my best, brand new workouts… which includes an incredible nutrition plan."

Joel Harper will be completing two triathlons this year, in South Beach and Malibu, as a spokesmodel for Nautica. Keep your eyes open as he travels the country speaking on fitness and helping people maximize their efforts and results. Joel will also continue working with Dr. Oz through his HealthCorps charity event April 18.

Kathryn Budig is a talented yogi who made waves this year with her nude ads for ToeSox. She continues that partnership in 2012. Then, she's traveling to host yoga retreats; first in Maui at the Four Seasons and then in Queenstown, New Zealand with a wine tasting or skydiving option! Her new DVD Aim True Yoga just released from Gaiam. In late 2012, she'll release The Big Book of Yoga from Rodale. We're so excited about Budig's yoga teaching that our LA team will be dropping in for lessons at her Santa Monica studio.

Jessica Smith continues to grow her fitness brand by increasing her footprint across several media. In the fall, her first book, in partnership with Liz Neporent, will release as part of her Thin in 10 series, with a complementary DVD. She has two new DVD workouts releasing this year, The Yin Yang Fusion Workout, and the 10 Pounds DOWN: Better Body Blast. But first up for Jessica this year is a new HIIT training cardio mix and a Tabata training for weight loss program, both available from iTunes in January.

Tracey Mallett is kicking off the new year with her six week Booty Barre Bikini Challenge. Her Booty Barre brand will expand yet again on the international scene in Japan, Australia, Spain, Turkey, Canada and the UK, with more stand-alone studios "popping all over," she told us. She'll have a new exercise program releasing this spring called DanceFuse, which combines dance, martial arts, Pilates, and cardio. She's also working on a consumer in-home product line for both of her Tracey Mallett and Booty Barre brands. Her work continues with JAM School Program, which she described to us as "combating childhood obesity by helping over 8 million schools get active." Finally, keep your eyes open for Tracey to be speaking at ECA NYC, IDEA World Convention, and CanFit Pro Canada.

Dolvett Quince just returned to Biggest Loser for a second season, and while he had mass appeal amongst those fans last year, his popularity is no doubt about to explode. Very soon, he'll be launching his self-named site,, where you're sure to find more fitness guidance from this chiseled pro. He'll follow that up with a multi-city tour through the US for his Pure Energy classes with the staff of his Body Sculptor, Inc. gym, based out of Atlanta. And you can look for Dolvett to appear in more of his own DVD workouts.
Source: Shine

Monday, January 9, 2012

9 1's In-A-Lifetime Family Vacations

 We all have that dream trip in the back of our minds. Perhaps they have even registered on a Bucket List of places to visit before we die? While dream trips are in our dreams because they are harder for us to take -- budget and kids seem to put a stop to those dreams -- there are certainly some once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the entire family can enjoy. When saving up for that big vacation, consider saving for one that will leave a lifetime of memories.
1. Go on an African safari
Who hasn't thought of someday taking on an African safari and bonding during a technology-free exploration of the African plains filled with wild zebra, giraffe and lions? These days, tour companies are making it easier for families to enjoy safaris together in settings as simple as mobile tents to "glamping" excursions to thatched-roof lodges. Most safaris will not allow children younger than 6, which is OK, you want your child to be able to appreciate what they will see and have the patience and ability to stay silent when it comes to animal sightings. Get closer to making it a reality with a look at our 10 Best African Safari Lodges for Families.
2. See the Northern Lights
The aurora borealis is a natural phenomenon where light dances across the sky. And it only occurs closer to the North Pole. (The South Pole gets a harder-to-spot version.) The best time to witness the occurrences is between April and October. Alaska may get you a glimpse of this natural wonder, and it's easier than ever to tour Alaska when you enjoy an Alaskan cruise. For a more exotic adventure, northern Canadian provinces and Scandinavian countries also provide excellent views. Or perhaps a trip to Iceland, where you can also swim in the Blue Lagoon's hot springs?
3. Take a barefoot cruise
While cruising may not be a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor, chartering a sailboat and enjoying a barefoot cruise is certainly something that may cost a little more but is guaranteed to provide some bonding time with the family. Instead of numerous dining rooms, arcades, waterslides, shows, and activities found on the larger cruises, a charter is simply your family with a captain and small crew (maybe just a skipper/cook) and nothing but open seas in which to swim, snorkel and diving in. For meals, you will gather in the galley or on deck in your bare feet and swimsuits. For entertainment, you'll hike a deserted island or wander around a small port. It's one-on-one time in a gorgeous setting, most likely the Caribbean. A great area for barefoot cruising is the British Virgin Islands, which offers more than 60 islands to hop and the beautiful Baths? Nicholson Yacht Charters set me up for a fantastic barefoot cruise I have yet to forget.
4. Work a dude ranch
The Wild West is truly America's last frontier and a visit to a dude ranch is a vacation like no other for your kids. Joining a dude ranch for a week or weekend will ensure a technology-free vacation where you and your kids will sit around a camp fire and just be together. Of course there is some work before that point: trail rides, fishing, hiking and more. Sure, you can turn City Slicker and try your hand at a working dude ranch, but these days family dude ranches provide both roughing it and luxury options (think spas). Even if you are not the outdoors type, someone will be on hand to help you saddle up, bait up, and call out the do-si-dos on the evening square dances. Check out our list of our 10 Best Dude Ranches to help you plan.
5. Go to the Olympics
This one is easiest to do when the Olympics are held on American soil, such as the 1996 Atlanta games, so even if you do not want to fly overseas to witness the entire world come together in a competition that dates back to Ancient Greece, you can save for the day they return. However, if you want to enjoy the spectacle with the kids, you'll have to pick one of the upcoming games: London 2012, Sochi, Russia 2014 and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2016. Me? I am hoping to make it to the London summer games because London is a great place for kids and my children will be 8 and 7.
6. Ride a mule to the bottom of the grand canyon
Perhaps it's my outdated vision of the Brady Bunch episode where the Bradys ride down to camp in the Grand Canyon, but the idea of doing something that has been done in these parts for more than a century just screams "try it before it's too late!" The Grand Canyon is something every person should see in person once in their life, for its scope cannot be imagined until seeing it first hand. Letting a mule do all the work going down and up the canyon also lets you take in the vistas from your changing point of view.
7. Catch a sunrise from the top of a volcano
Well, maybe a sunset so you don't have to wake the kids too early, but catching one or the other standing at the top of a volcano looking down into its crater is definite a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Luckily, the Hawaiian Islands are littered with volcanoes, and happen to be exotic, warm-weather, family-friendly destinations that are dream vacations in themselves. Tour groups offer rides up to the tops of volcanoes so you don't have to hike it, but if you feel adventurous, some tour groups let you hike back down, or even bring bikes for you to bike back down. (Save both for the older kids.) If you really want to splurge, take a helicopter ride to the top.
8. Sleep in a castle
Any child bewitched by Harry Potter (or adult, for that matter), will get a kick out of spending an evening in a bona fide castle. Something about arriving at a castle and being inside its stone walls with woven rugs and armor making up the decor is magical to all ages. Thankfully, this dream isn't too hard to come by if you head to Europe, where centuries-old castles are being converted into family-friendly resorts. You'll find castle resorts in places like Germany, Scotland, England, France and Ireland, particularly Dromoland, where old and new are combined to create a luxurious experience.
9. Climb to the top of a man-made wonder
For me, the dream trip would be flying to Sydney, Australia (business class, of course) and climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I've heard so much about the daily climbs up and down the bridge, particularly starting the late afternoon to walk up as the sun begins to set, and back down as day turns to night over the Harbor. Considering the length and price of flights to Australia, all is not lost for anyone wanting to stand atop an iconic man-made structure. The easiest way to check this one off the list is a trip to New York City to climb the hundreds of stairs to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Or fly to Paris to ride the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Both cities are easy to get to with airfare deals always in the works, and both cities have an array of things to see and do with the kids. Of course, if you really want to aim for a destination further afield, Sydney calls, as does China's Great Wall.
Source: msn

Saturday, January 7, 2012

9 Famous Brands Will Disappear In 2012

 Two days before the Wall Street Journal reported Kodak may have to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks, James R. Gregory, CEO of branding and market research firm CoreBrand, predicted that Kodak would "disappear" as a brand in 2012.

CoreBrand conducts 8,000 phone surveys of business leaders every year, and asks them about the corporate reputations of 800 companies in 49 industries. Participants are asked to rate brands based on favorability, overall reputation, perception of management, and investment potential. 
Kodak has been in trouble for years, of course, after it invented the digital camera in 1975 and then failed to capitalize on it. But it was intriguing that the CoreBrand survey signaled the potential end of Kodak before its lawyers did.
Gregory says his data also shows that the Sears and Saab brands are failing to contribute to their companies' fortunes, as is Yum! Brands and insurer Aon.
We asked Gregory to tell us which other companies' brands appear to be in trouble, and why.
#1 Kodak: Bankruptcy wouldn't mean the end for Kodak as a business. The company and its brands could be bought or restructured. But it isn't looking good.
"There is high familiarity with the Kodak brand," Gregory says, "but there's a lack of clarity or focus for the organization, which shows up in our data. It's much harder to understand what Kodak does these days. The film and development and printing of pictures is not something Kodak does any more. Therefore, what is it they actually do? That's something that's not well understood."
#2 Sears An operating loss is expected at Sears Holding Corp. for 2011 and the company is axing 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores to keep up. CEO Eddie Lampert is sticking with his company, however.
Could Sears really disappear?
"Their brand has been suffering from the corporate brand perspective," Gregory says. "As strong as a brand is, and it has huge familiarity and favorability over the years, you can't continue to have a lack of focus without causing long-term damage."
#3 Avery Dennison You've probably never heard of Avery Dennison but you've almost certainly used its products. It's perhaps best-known for Hi-Liter pens. Avery just sold its office and consumer products business to 3M for $550 million. Could this be the beginning of the end for Avery? Gregory can't say, but he notes that "The data is always accurate in identifying problems."
#4 Aon This is a surprise: The reinsurer signed a huge new sponsorship contract with Manchester United. Its name is arguably better known globally now than it has been in years. Gregory's data, however, argues that in the U.S. Aon's marketing is not working. "Aon has been one that has tried very hard to build its brand image. But it has been, basically from my perspective, ineffective. It might be more effective in other countries."
#5 CA Technologies Financially, CA is in rude health. Its brand, however, is like a marketing witness protection program. The company used to be better known as Computer Associates but that name was tarnished by an accounting scandal in the mid-2000s.
"Again this is a brand that has evolved over time," Gregory says. "They have not really focused on the corporate image of their organization so their brand is not pulling its weight in terms of what it should be doing."
#6 Yum! Brands Yum! is the owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. The three restaurant chains were originally spun out of PepsiCo, and the company is doing well as a whole. But the fourth moniker isn't adding any brand equity, Gregory says. "One of the jobs of a holding company is to make sure the corporate message is getting out. I think they did at the very beginning but they never put meaning behind it."
#7 PPG The former Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company makes paint and other industrial products, including Lucite, the see-through plastic used in stripper heels. PPG suffers from a similar problem as Yum! -- its individual products and brands are famous in their own worlds, but the parent company remains an unknown.
"PPG traditionally has been a big brand in the U.S., not as a name consumers would know but as a manufacturer of paint and glass and other things," Gregory says. Yet among its core audience -- "avid readers of the business press," Gregory says -- PPG ought to be as famous as Behr or Benjamin Moore.
#8 Steelcase Steelcase is an office furniture manufacturer. If you've ever had a job, there's a good chance you've used or sat on its products. "This one perplexes me more than most," Gregory says. "They make wonderful products. They're a U.S.-based company. They've been able to withstand the ups and downs of the office furniture industry. I just don't think they have a strong corporate brand."
"It doesn't mean the company isn't performing well," Gregory says. "Our point of view is on the corporate brand and how it's contributing to the financial value of the company."
#9 KeyCorp. It's a bank, and like all banks suffers from the horrible reputation of the financial services industry as a whole. "They're also a smaller regional bank as opposed to a Bank of America or Citibank," Gregory says.
Source: Yahoo