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Sensational Summertime

“If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here, While these visions did appear, And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding, but a dream.” –Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There’s nothing quite like summertime. The long, lazy days filled with everything we can think of to beat the heat are almost as magical as the nights. A summer night—after the sun has gone to bed and the heat has settled a bit—can make up some of the best moments of our lives. If you’re not already making the most of your summer, start immediately!

Summer days spent at the beach, on a lake, or at the pool are ideal for soaking up some Vitamin D and enjoying quality time with friends and family. Of course, there’s plenty of opportunities to practice your backstroke and diving, too. The ocean has many advantages that, for instance, another natural body of water or swimming pool cannot offer.

On the Beach

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”

 –Jeanne Moreau

  • Make the most of the beach and build sandcastles, write your name in the sand, collect seashells, and stack stones one on top of another to create a Zen sculpture. If you can go out on a boat to sail or deep sea fish, do so! There’s nothing better than catching your own supper and cooling off with a salty maritime breeze. 
  • Run through the dunes, watch the boats in the distance and the seagulls overhead, and don’t forget to catch the best of nature’s theatre: a beach sunset.
  • Embrace solitude. Even if you’re with friends and family, take some time to yourself to go for a walk and be silent. Stroll in the surf and listen to the waves. Observe the tides as they roll in and then out again: this is extremely calming and meditative. 

Poolside 

Make the most of your time at the pool and relax under a colorful umbrella with a good book in a chaise lounge. Use a fun, novelty pool float and always have a good pair of dark sunglasses handy. Don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Lakes and Rivers 

Lakes and rivers are usually associated with camping, bonfires, quaint cabins, rowboats, and fireflies. Don’t hesitate to go downstream in a raft, soar above the water on a tire swing, jump off the dock or pier, and go skinny dipping! 

The Hostess with the Mostest 

Summer parties, barbeques, and potlucks with your favorite foods (you know what I mean: barbeque, fresh vegetables—especially corn on the cob and heirloom tomatoes—macaroni and potato salad), are essential for the season. Host your own party if you can and, if not, be a good guest! 

For decoration:  don’t forget bouquets of seasonal wildflowers, Japanese lanterns, hand-held fans as party favors, and wind chimes (for those delicious summer breezes).

It wouldn’t be summer without lots of cool things to eat, like ice cream, shaved ice, and gelato. Fruity cocktails are an absolute must! Create your own drink and give it a name! Flowers really add something special and exotic to non-alcoholic beverages: use rosehip, lavender, prickly pear, elderberry, and juniper berry syrups to give any drink extra flair and flavor. Oh, and don’t forget plenty of freshly picked mint!

Make the Most of Summer Fashion

“I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes.” –The Rolling Stones

Make this summer (and the whole year) one of body positivity! Life is too short. Don a cute summer dress, halter top, or something sleeveless and show off your freckles, tan lines, and everything else. Summer is a wonderful time for accessorizing and making the most of fun, funky fashions. Incorporate bright colors into your wardrobe, wear a flirty bathing suit that accentuates and hugs your curves, and don’t forget a flowy sarong to complete the look!

Sandals and strappy heels with spangles and sparkles are always lots of fun; the same goes for an enormous sun hat (the bigger, the better; this is functional fashion). Don’t shy away from chunky jewelry (anklets are a must), henna tattoos, a fresh pedicure, and flowers in your hair. 

Dancing barefoot (preferably to live music), going braless, and sporting tousled hair—air-dried after swimming—are all effortless ways to feel unencumbered and beautiful this summer. You can always don a cute swim cap if you’re not into the beachy waves hairdo! For dewy beauty, try Nabila K’s shimmer makeup trick for that golden goddess glow.

  • Simply mix the second and fifth colors in Nabila K’s Moroccan Sand eyeshadow palette and combine the shimmer with the Here I Am daytime face cream. This will give your moisturizing routine that extra oomph (and sparkle) you’ve been craving. 
  • Or mix your favorite Nabila K eye shadow with the Aloe Surge facial mist! Make sure to use enough shimmery powder to achieve the desired effect, and then spritz away! 

For more information on the Nabila K cosmetics mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:

https://nabilak.com/product/moroccan-sand/

https://nabilak.com/product/here-i-am-day-cream-with-aloe-sage-rose/

https://nabilak.com/product/aloe-surge-facial-mist/

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Deodorant: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

“Success is a great deodorant. It takes away all your past smells.” –Elizabeth Taylor

What to Know About your Deodorant 

Sometimes we all like a natural smell; it’s how we attract one another. Everyone has their own unique blend of pheromones but with summer here in full swing, we want to feel fresh… even in the heat. There are natural alternatives to your outdated deodorant: one shouldn’t use antiperspirants because they keep us from sweating, and that’s unnatural and simply not healthy. We also don’t want to use a deodorant with aluminum as an ingredient. An aluminum-free option is your best bet. 

Whether you use roll-on, aerosol, or cream underarm deodorant, you should know what’s in it (and, well, aerosol is not good, either). The key is to purchase a reliable, natural, probiotic deodorant and, if you don’t have that option, avoid applying too much. If it’s natural, you can feel okay about applying more as needed. It is healthy to sweat, after all! We just don’t want to have a musty odor, or to ruin our clothes; that’s why underarm deodorant is an essential must-have, especially during hot summer months. 

We don’t want to stop sweating; we just want to feel dry enough to be comfortable and to smell fresh. Sweat really only smells foul due to bacteria on the skin. Instead of simply using deodorant as a quick cover-up, there are other measures you can take to smell sweet, such as chewing on mint leaves, cloves, dill, anise, or even a couple of sprigs of parsley. We are what we eat, after all. 

Natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk, also help to reduce sweating and it’s always a good idea to change your clothes immediately after a workout or rigorous activity; don’t walk around in that damp, sweaty tee shirt! 

Cologne, natural fragrances to use…

  • Feminine wash and spray: if you practice sensible hygiene, you really shouldn’t need a scented feminine deodorant and most certainly not a douche. These can be irritating and can upset your body’s natural pH balance. Opt for non-scented anti-bacterial soap and hot water, instead. 
  • Did you know that lemons eliminate odor? When used on the skin, they really help to get rid of any lingering smells. People who, say, live on the beach and work around fish products all day use lemons all the time to stay smelling clean. 
  • Wash your sweat-prone areas with baking soda or use apple cider vinegar diluted with water. This is also a good idea for your laundry.
  • Essential oils are a wonderful alternative to standard deodorant because they’re organic and even contain antibacterial and antifungal properties. Lavender, peppermint and rosemary are all refreshing, natural scents that will leave your skin smelling great. Some people even opt to make their own deodorant using only clean ingredients. 
  • Tea tree oil is wonderful for keeping fingernails and toenails healthy and free of odor.
  • Bergamot is also a popular option as it’s antiseptic as well as antimicrobial and smells incredibly fragrant (with prominent citrus notes).
  • Witch hazel is a beauty must-have. Not only is it wonderful for toning the most sensitive skin, it’s also a natural deodorizer and can be applied directly to your sweatiest areas for relief. 
  • For clean beauty and skincare products that will leave you smelling fresh and lovely, try Nabila K’s all natural vegetable-based glycerin soaps and roll-on perfumes (made with essential oils and botanicals). 

To learn more, visit the site and check out the links below:

https://nabilak.com/product/full-bloom-set-10/

https://nabilak.com/product/full-bloom-set-9/

https://nabilak.com/product/nabila-k-roll-on-with-essential-oils/

 

For further reading on natural deodorant alternatives, consult the links used in the writing of this blog:

https://www.almanac.com/natural-ways-tame-body-odors#:~:text=Try%20fennel%2C%20dill%2C%20caraway%2C,couple%20of%20fresh%20mint%20leaves.&text=Sweating%20is%20natural%20and%20healthy,with%20bacteria%20on%20the%20skin.

https://www.healthshots.com/preventive-care/self-care/5-essential-oils-to-eliminate-body-odour/

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Rediscover Curiosity And Awe With Spartan And The Green Egg

“It is the mark of a great man that he puts to flight all ordinary calculations. He is at once sublime and touching, childlike and of the race of giants.” –Honore de Balzac 

                

Me feeding ducks with my brothers in London’s Hyde Park.

     

“May you live in interesting times”: is this a blessing or a curse? We certainly live in troubling, frightening times that are nothing if not interesting. This can, however, become exhausting, and one may become calloused and jaded if they’re not careful. Cynicism may set in. It’s high time we all try to turn off the news and recapture our childlike innocence and wonder before it’s too late. You’ll be surprised at what a few simple activities can do to quiet the mind and help heal the soul. It’s a form of meditation and even a wonderful rebellion to not let the world harden your spirit.

 

“‘I am youth. I am joy. I am freedom!’ said Peter Pan.” –J.M. Barrie

Try engaging in these activities that bring out your inner childlike glee and imagination. 

 

  • Take a cue from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan—the story of the boy who didn’t want to grow up—who taught other children how to fly. 

 

  • Start with being creative. Write a poem and, of course, read poetry like W.B. Yeats and Walt Whitman. Try “The Stolen Child” by Yeats and Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” These poems evoke a sense of childlike beauty, wonderment and awe mingled with profound wisdom that only a long life can acquire.  

  • Picasso said that it took him a lifetime to learn how to paint like a child. When you paint for leisure, it should be enjoyable. Let mistakes happen and learn from them. Sometimes a good work of art is a happy accident.

 

  • Children are not calculating or judgmental. They are innocent and have an almost enviable glee. If we all tried to set aside our assumptions and predispositions, we might surprise ourselves and others.

 

“I like conflict. I love competition. I like discovering things for myself. It’s a childlike characteristic, actually. But that gives you a certain amount of power, and people are intimidated by that.” –Grace Jones

  • Remember that being childlike does not mean childish! Quite the opposite, actually. It gives one a great sense of power to be able to go with the flow and roll with the punches.
  • We’ve lost our sense of play. Sometimes going into a meadow or field and picking a bunch of wildflowers is just what we need to get grounded. Literally lie on the ground and look up at the sky, feeling the immense earth beneath your body. This is a simple yet surprisingly wonderful pastime. 
  • Spend time with the children in your life—whether they’re your sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, or even godchildren. Become a nurturer. Whether that means lending a kind shoulder or being an attentive listener, these things mean more than you know.
  • Try to find the silver lining. Remember, it’s always darkest before dawn. Or, as Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” We shouldn’t become cliché or trite, but sometimes it is proverbs that save us and, sometimes, the simplest action or thought is the best one. It’s a form of self-preservation to keep your childlike enthusiasm and optimism. This is not to be confused with being complacent or apathetic but rather a boon to other people’s spirits (along with your own).

Use Spartan and the Green Egg’s Books as a Key to Awakening Curiosity

“Spartan and the Green Egg” by Nabila Khashoggi is a collection of books that were written as a way to entertain and educate her son, Spartan, as well as other children. The stories are all about adventure, travel, and fantastical voyages in a green egg. Gift and read these to the children in your life. You can explore vicariously through these stories, whether it’s to the Amazon Rainforest, to the Reefs of Mindoro Island in the South China Sea, or to the Sahara Desert, to name but a few destinations. 

 

Visit the link below to discover more about Spartan and the Green Egg:

https://www.spartanandthegreenegg.com

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WHAT PARENTS HOPE TO TEACH A CHILD THROUGH TRAVEL

Travel is one of life’s greatest gifts that keeps on giving; we’re supplied with memories to last a lifetime, adventures, and, if you’re lucky, time well spent with loved ones. Traveling with children is an incredible treat because you can observe the wonder in their eyes and witness how it changes their lives. There are so many things we hope for our children, and travel, if you’re lucky, can really help shape your children’s outlook on the world.

It Broadens their Horizons and their Outlook. 

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Traveling to all sorts of different places teaches one how to live on the road and on the go and how to efficiently pack a suitcase! This offers great instruction on discipline and order. Travel is also a wonderful occupation for the restless; to move about a lot is a guaranteed cure for boredom. 

Travel gives children options on how to live their lives as adults because they can see and experience other people and cultural heritages. As Flaubert said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” It is so important to have this perspective and to really be able to grasp the vastness of the world. 

An Education 

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –Henry Miller


Children who have the opportunity to travel with their parents are incredibly lucky as they can learn firsthand about other cultures. Gaining knowledge and appreciation for cultures and lifestyles different from yours is essential to becoming a well-rounded, educated, empathic person. Seeing one’s parents in other parts of the world and how they react and interact is also an education in itself. While routine is important, so is adventure! Instilling a sense of curiosity and wonder in your children is maybe the best thing one can achieve as a parent or caregiver. 

Being able to show your children all sorts of amazing historical and natural wonders is also a great treat (for the parents and kids). As we get older and see more of the world, we realize that, other than travel being incredibly fun and exciting, it’s really about the inner self more than a specific destination. Traveling is good for the soul. You also don’t have to go very far to see amazing sights; you’d be surprised at what magical things a long drive or a simple train ride can uncover. 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” –Marcel Proust

Changing the way one sees the world does not happen overnight; it’s a lifelong process, and a journey into one’s self is the most important of all. This process moves along more quickly when one explores and experiences life, with its ups and downs. Traveling to new and far-off lands helps one to realize how they react in certain situations and if you’re lucky, you’ll make friends along the way. Hopefully, travel and exploration will open up a world of possibilities that seemed completely hidden before. When you see how other people live, taste exotic cuisine, listen to foreign languages, and communicate with someone who speaks another language (even if it’s just with body language), it’s apparent how we’re all connected and cut from the same cloth.

For the aspiring adventurers in your life, check out Spartan and the Green Egg’s series of books, along with SGE explorer pins and stickers (inspired by vintage luggage and steamer trunks). 

Visit the links below:

https://www.spartanandthegreenegg.com/product/sge-books/

https://www.spartanandthegreenegg.com/product/sge-explorer-pins-sets-2/

https://www.spartanandthegreenegg.com/product/sge-explorer-stickers-set-1/

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Finding Your Signature Scent

How Do You Find Your Signature Scent?

 You can find a wide array of perfumes on the market today. As delightful as it may be to have options, finding the perfect one can also be challenging. An ideal fragrance will not only make you feel great, but it will also leave a lasting impression on those around you. That’s why people refer to a perfume that suits you well and that you often wear as your signature scent. Yet, this is much more than a romantic idea, it is chemistry. Follow along to learn more about scents and how you can find one to suit you. 

Why Should You Find Your Signature Scent? 

When you find a perfume that feels like a match made in heaven, you will accomplish a couple of different things. First, you will have a go-to fragrance that makes you feel beautiful and lifts you up for the entire day or an evening out. Secondly, you will subtly provide everyone around you with character clues. In fact, if you wear your signature perfume on a regular basis, most people will begin to associate you with your scent and make assumptions about you based on it. You may be able to influence colleagues, partners, and family members with just a whiff. 

 

Since this is the case, it is important that you do not simply choose any scent. It must be a fragrance that appeals to your senses and sends the desired messages. Likewise, you must consider your skin and your other beauty products before opting for a certain perfume. 

Why Do You Love Certain Scents? 

Certain fragrances will smell irresistible to you, while others will smell putrid. You may even wonder why those latter perfumes are on the shelf. However, scent is very personal. Your genes, smell sensitivity, and specific, scent-based memories may all factor into why you love certain scents and hate others. It is best to follow your first instincts, as it is unlikely that perfumes will ever grow on you over time. 

What Messages Do Different Perfumes Send?

If you desire to make a specific statement, you may consider the messages different scents send. Although many perfumes contain different combinations of scents, they typically highlight the fragrance family as their dominant trait: 

  • Floral: Whether you choose a single floral, floral bouquet, or bright floral, you signal femininity and good spirits. 
  • Fruity: Citrus or fruity scents give off freshness, youth, and creativity.

  • Ambery: Ambery scents provide warmth and sensuality. 
  • Woody: Woody fragrances are lightly musky, indicating intimacy. 
  • Leather: Leather is a more masculine scent, exuding strength and confidence. 
  • Oriental: Oriental perfumes have spicy notes, giving off luxurious, indulgent, or seductive vibes.  
  • Gourmand: Gourmand, or sweet and dessert perfumes, are girly and flirty. 

Why Do Some Perfumes Smell Good on Others but Bad on You? 

Sometimes, a scent will smell amazing on another person but awful on you, or vice-versa. It has to do with how the perfume’s ingredients mix with your skin’s chemistry. The way the scent combines may depend on your natural skin pH, skin type, skin or beauty products, hormones, diet, and medications. As these factors may affect your chosen perfume, it is wise to try your perfume over the course of a few hours to a few days to get a good idea of how it will smell. Extraordinarily, no matter which fragrance you choose, the combination with your skin will never be replicated by anyone else. It will truly become a signature scent. 

How Do You Find Your Signature Scent? 

Now that you understand why finding your signature scent is crucial, you are ready to discover that fragrance for yourself. Below, you will find expert tips for selecting the perfect perfume. 

Select a Fragrance Family

Since there are so many perfume options, you can narrow down your choices by selecting an appealing fragrance family. If you cannot decide between two scents, do not worry. There is likely a perfume with undertones of another family, which will be ideal for you. 

Consider Emotions 

If you are having trouble selecting a fragrance, consider the emotions, attitudes, or behaviors you would like to imbibe. If you would like to feel calm and centered, you may love Heart of Provence Roll-On Perfume with Essential Oils. With lavender essential oils, you will be able to destress, while anyone who catches the sweet scent will instantly relax. You can literally be the calm amid the storm. 

Choose a Small Format 

When it is your first time wearing a perfume, you may enjoy purchasing a small, travel-size format. In this way, you can sample the fragrance and see how it wears on your skin and evolves over the course of the day. Along the same lines, you may like to purchase a large collection of small perfumes at first. You can sample a large array of perfumes and see which ones you like the most. An excellent option is the Roll-On Perfume Collection with Essential Oils. You will be able to sample 8 different perfumes, offering varying scents, evoking different emotions, and appealing to your senses in unique ways.  And you can even combine 2-3 of them to create a customized scent. 

Think About Ingredients

You may not be a chemist, so you may not know the exact ways certain perfume ingredients will react with your skin. However, the fewer synthetic elements involved, the less likely the scent will alter dramatically once applied. In the Nabila K roll-on perfume collection, you will find all-natural ingredients and zero alcohol. 

Reevaluate Trendy Products

It may be tempting to jump on the hottest new product that everyone loves on social media, yet it may not be right for you or your intentions. Likewise, it may not be beneficial for your wallet as these perfumes tend to be on the pricier side. Rather than fall prey to popular scents, spend time with scents that you are drawn to and that make you feel good. You will never miss out when you are wearing a fragrance that suits you exclusively. Take your selected perfume to new and interesting heights by spritzing some on a handkerchief and tossing it into the dryer when you dry your laundry or place the same scented handkerchief into your luggage. Place a small amount of it into another bottle with a small amount of water and spritz on your bed linens (but do a test section first). 

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Your Kids Safe Near Water This Summer

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”

 –George R.R. Martin

Not everyone lives in a suburban landscape dotted with luxurious swimming pools à la John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” filled with summer parties galore, or belongs to a country club, or even has a swimming pool conveniently located in their very own backyard. Bathing in the pool is one of life’s great pleasures—especially on particularly hot summer days and nights that evoke a nostalgic, David Hockney-inspired summertime feeling. What we want, more than anything, is for our children to be safe at the pool (and every body of water) this summer and always. A perfect summer filled with fun in the water gives us memories to treasure forever, and we probably all have vivid memories of learning to swim. Let’s keep all the memories good ones with extra safety suggestions and reminders.

Swimming Safety 

Most of these are common sense but still cannot be stressed enough…

First of all, it’s so important that your child be able to swim. You’d be surprised at how many people cannot! 

  • Always accompany children while swimming and stress to them that they must never go swimming alone.
  • Wear water wings, safety vests, etc. if the child is not a strong swimmer and, in some cases, even if they are.
  • Always wear protective gear (a life vest) on moving boats, rafts, kayaks, etc. 
  • If you have access to your own pool, there should be a fence surrounding it and a gate that locks to keep children out of bounds when unattended.
  • Parents: always, always keep an eye on children while swimming. 
  • If in the ocean, do not go out too deep. Watch for undertow and strong currents. 
  • If in a public pool, there should always be, at the very least, one lifeguard on duty.
  • Adults: at summertime parties with family and friends, be conservative with your intake of alcohol. You are responsible for ensuring a sober adult is vigilant when children are swimming. Never assume that somebody else is shouldering that responsibility.
  • Remind the older kids to keep an eye on the younger kids and not to get too rowdy in the water (no matter how much fun it is to push little brother into the pool). Remember that two pairs of eyes (or more) are better than one.
  • Do not run around the pool! Have you noticed that all public swimming pools have massive signs declaring this? There’s a reason for this. Someone is bound to slip and fall.
  • It’s true: the swimming myth of waiting after you eat is actually not a myth at all. One shouldn’t swim right after they’ve eaten a meal because they might get a cramp.
  • If you’re in lake or river, steer clear of unknown and shady areas; the water may be deeper than you think.
  • Clarity is very important: if water is murky and you want to swim beneath the surface, wear goggles so you can open your eyes for better visibility.

A final thought…

  • Some children feel embarrassed if they haven’t learned how to swim, so be kind and patient and become a teacher. 
  • Instill these safety tips in your children so they’ll know how to behave with their friends when they’re swimming without you at summer camp.

 

(Artwork used in this blog includes David Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash” and photography from Gordon Parks’ Scenes of Integrated 1940s Summer Camps.)

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Support Ukraine

Ukrainian Culture

Every time you see a girl wearing a beautiful flower crown, laurel, or wreath, you’re witnessing a cultural heritage. Ukraine is known for their fashion that extends to babushkas (colorful floral head scarves), unmistakable prints, and other traditional dress.

When we think of Neo-paganism in Slavic countries and its aesthetic of May Pole dancing, celebrating seasonal solstices, dying eggs, and even festivals similar to other summer fêtes like Coachella and Burning Man, we’re subtly referencing Ukrainian tradition and folklore. 

  • Ukrainian fashion is unmistakable. Babushkas (literally translated to mean “grandmother”) are beautiful, bright floral scarves, and they’re not just for grandmothers! Ornate flower crowns and garlands are also uniquely Ukrainian and have become synonymous with bohemian beauty and whimsical, natural style. 
  • Embroidery is very important in Ukrainian fashion. Traditional dress called “vyshyvanka” is a romantic shirt embellished with embroidery of brightly colored flowers and is usually accentuated with a belt, sash, or scarf. With a head wreath, ropes of beads, and a flowing skirt, an image of a beautiful Ukrainian woman is conjured. Many have taken to wearing the national dress as a sign of solidarity.
  • Ukraine is known for its food. Whether it’s borscht (made with beets and other root vegetables), sauerkraut, pickles, kasha, stuffed cabbage, nalysnyky (Ukrainian crepes), babka for dessert, or their famous chicken soup, it’s all steeped in history and is, most importantly, hardy and delicious. 
  • Traditional music that includes lamentations and instruments like the violin and dulcimer is always played at solstice celebrations after the harvest has been sowed and/or reaped. There’s usually a bonfire, food, drink, and, of course, lots of merriment. 
  • Pysanka is a kind of decorative egg made for Easter that is beloved the world over. The designs are actually written onto the egg using beeswax instead of paint or dye.

Sights

Learn about incredible landmarks through Spartan and the Green Egg! 

One of the best things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to teach your children. We can all travel vicariously through books—if not in actuality—and learn about geography and far-off places with a little help from Spartan and the Green Egg and their Explorer Pins, which are ideal educational tools for the little ones in your life. 

  • The “Tunnel of Love is a 3-kilometer railway corridor in Klevan that leads to a fireboard factory. What makes the corridor unique are the green trees that are framed to create a romantic and eye-catching tunnel. It is an ideal getaway spot for lovers and budding photographers.”
  • The Swallow’s Nest is a gorgeous castle that was built over a two-year period, starting in 1911. The castle is part of the town of Gaspra, located in Crimea. The castle has a great view overlooking the Black Sea coast. The Swallow’s Nest is easily one of the most visited tourist locations in Crimea.”

What You Can Do to Help

  • All Spartan and the Green Egg Ukrainian flag pin proceeds go to charity. The Children for Peace (ONLUS) is a fantastic NGO that donates beds, clothes, toys, medical supplies, food, and other necessities and support. Find out more about them by visiting this link: 

https://www.thechildrenforpeace.org/ 

The bright blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag symbolize open sky over yellow-speared wheat fields, while Ukraine’s national flower is the sunflower, which is a joyful symbol that represents happiness. 

 

To purchase your very own Ukrainian flag pin, check out the link below:

 

For more information on the sights mentioned in the blog, check out the links below and Spartan and the Green Egg at the website:

 

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Great Ways To Shake Up Your Personal Style

How to Reinvent Your Look: 5 Fast Tips  

If you’re like me, sometimes you get tired of your hairstyle, and getting dressed in the morning leaves you bored. When that happens, it’s time to reinvent your look. As your circumstances evolve and you go through different periods of your life, it’s perfectly normal to feel like your old look doesn’t accurately reflect the new you. So, embrace the change!

I’ve learned that you don’t have to drop big bucks on a complete wardrobe overhaul to spice things up. Try these tips to find a great new look.

1. Get Inspired

When you’re feeling meh, find your inspiration. Whose look do you love? When I’m looking for a change, I Google-style icons I adore and study images of them to decide what it is I like about their looks. Magazine trends come and go, but zeroing in on lasting style will help your look stay timeless and fresh at the same time.

2. Cut Your Hair

I’ve found that a new haircut is the fastest way to shake up your style. It doesn’t have to be drastic: just trimming 3 to 4 inches and framing your face differently will make you feel like a new person. Before taking the plunge, I always ask my stylist what they would do to my hair if I let them choose any style. I don’t always decide to do what they suggest – but I do keep in mind that they probably know what’s best for my hair’s texture, so I take their advice seriously.

3. Choose a Signature Color

Choose a signature color that you love and looks great on you, then incorporate that color into every outfit for the next week. Black and white are easy ways to get started, but a bold choice like red or a sassier neutral like olive green are also good ideas. I find that giving yourself new rules for dressing help you put together clothes you already own in fun new ways. If you like your new outfits, adjust your wardrobe to create a signature look.

4. Start with Accessories

Instead of rushing out to replace all my clothes, I start with accessories. If you’ve always been into rings, try some statement necklaces instead. Scarves, bracelets, belts, and shoes can all change the feel of your favorite outfit, so try changing your finishing touches when you get dressed. You can also buy some inexpensive new pieces to help you emulate that style icon you researched in Step 1.

5. Update Your Makeup

Another fast way to reinvent your look is to clear out your old makeup and choose fresh items in updated, flattering colors. Choose a new lipstick shade or try replacing your plain mascara with a colored option — navy blue is more subtle than you think! I have found that this is a low-stakes way to follow a new trend or experiment with that smoky eye without breaking the bank.

Reinventing your look might feel challenging at first, but it should be fun! Start with these tips to get inspired, and in no time, you’ll see a new person smiling back at you in the mirror.

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Learn More About Your Identity And Roots

“A child doesn’t belong to the mother or father; a child belongs to his ancestors.” –African Proverb

There’s nothing more interesting than lineage, heritage, ancestry, and, of course, famous families throughout history. A family tree with many branches is, at once, fascinating and poignant, too. This is why genealogy is now a part of the zeitgeist. With the rise of Ancestry.com and shows on PBS like “Finding Your Roots” (probably one of the smartest television shows being produced right now), something as vital as ancestry—our past histories—is now mainstream. 

In praise of keeping old documents, scrapbooks, recording history, and archiving all those memories, we’ll discuss some ways ancestry is more than just a hobby and how you can get involved and discover more. 

There’s nothing more important than family, history, and where we come from. We’ve all heard the stories of adoptive children reconnecting with their birth families and receiving some sort of closure or, rather, the opposite. 

Connecting With and Paying Homage to the Ancestors

“No man can outwit the ancestors.” –African Proverb

Certain Native Americans believe that butterflies are the spirits of our ancestors. There are various honored traditions and rituals that people have participated in for thousands of years that are sacred and can illuminate the past, such as taking Ayahuasca (a ceremonial medicine from South America used mainly among Indigenous Amazonian peoples). Peyote is also used as a religious sacrament by Native Americans and has been for thousands of years. 

 

Roots 

“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” 

 

‘In one of the early pages of “Roots,” Alex Haley describes the ancient ceremony in which one of his African ancestors was named. The father took the infant in his arms, held it up before a gathering of villagers, and whispered in its ear the name he had chosen for it. Only then was the name announced to everyone else, for it was the belief among those people “that each human being should be the first to know who he was.”’

 

Other illuminating books to read if you’re interested in genealogy (and Alex Haley’s 1976 “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” is one of the very best) include Toni Morrison’s 1998 “Paradise,” “The Milkman’s Son: A Memoir of Family History, a DNA Mystery, a Story of Paternal Love” by Randy Lindsay (2020) and “Ancestors: Who We Are and Where We Come From” by David Hertzel (2017). 

 

The Most Famous Families 

“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” –Chinese Proverb

Some people cannot trace back very far; because of slavery, many African Americans have no idea exactly where their ancestors are descended. This is a travesty but in order not to repeat history, we must learn from it and never forget it. 

We’ve all heard of famous, wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and Rothschilds, but what about a family as old as the Maccabees—who flourished in the 2nd century BCE in Palestine? “They were a priestly family of Jews who organized a successful rebellion against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV and re-consecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem.”

 

Some other impressive lineages and dynasties include:

 

  • Did you know that one in ten men are descendants of Genghis Khan? The first “Great Khan of the Mongol Empire” (he has been dead since 1227) is said to have impregnated over 1,000 women, and one in 200 men are his direct descendants!

More Than A Hobby: A Rite of Passage

Did you know that the study of genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States? Phrases like “identity crisis” have found all new meaning because, since the age of the Internet, people have flocked to its web pages for information on where they came from. “Finding yourself” has taken on all new meaning. Ancestry is a billion-dollar industry that has even come up with genetic test kits where one can use a swab to collect DNA, send it off to a lab, and discover just exactly where in the world they’re from. 

Important Keepsakes

“Every day of your life is a page of your history.” –Arabian Proverb

 

Keep records. Film videos, take photos, preserve bits of loved ones’ handwriting and, of course, hold on to heirlooms. When we lose loved ones, it’s best to preserve their memory, our memories of them, and, if we’re lucky, we can see them in the eyes of our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and cousins. If you think of it this way: we never really lose people: they live on through the ages, through the family. 

 

For more information on genealogy and famous historical dynasties mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:

 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1977/02/14/sources

https://time.com/133811/how-genealogy-became-almost-as-popular-as-porn/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Maccabees

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6614926/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Fujiwara-family

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-china/ming-dynasty

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/1-in-200-men-direct-descendants-of-genghis-khan

https://www.historytoday.com/miscellanies/who-were-mamluks

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Simple Contentment

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” –Henry David Thoreau

Getting back to nature and simplicity is, for some, the key to happiness. Transcend the mundane. Henry David Thoreau thought the key to a contented life was to live in nature, simply, and that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Try turning off your screen and observing the world around you.

The pleasures that can be found in self-reliance and in completing small, everyday tasks are endless. Some even say they’ve found spiritual enlightenment in doing so. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity upon watching an apple fall from a tree. Some say that a way of living simply, off the grid, away from the Internet is outmoded and just not practical. Well, one can live in a modern world and enjoy sensory activities that quiet the mind. 

Here are some activities to try by yourself or with your family. Sometimes solitude is best but sharing special moments with loved ones is wonderful, too. 

  • Go for a walk or hike. Slow down for a while and don’t take any pictures with your smartphone. If you enjoy sketching, take a notebook and draw the landscape or simply write down whatever comes to mind that seems noteworthy. Pick up a stone or leaf and keep it as a memento.
  • Go to the woods. Look up through the canopy of the trees at the sky. If you get really quiet and listen to your surroundings, you’ll hear all sorts of things: crickets chirping, birds singing and even a deer rustling the leaves.
  • Help someone. Sometimes kindness is forgotten in such a fast-paced world. Be the person who carries heavy bags for a senior, opens the door for someone, and helps those in need. A small gesture can change everything.
  • Engage with your natural surroundings. Lie in the grass, pick flowers, cup your hands and collect water from a stream or river. Observe nature. Go barefoot. Plant flowers and sow seeds.
  • There’s nothing more basic and enjoyable than sharing food. Have a meal together—start at the beginning by buying fresh ingredients; go to the farmer’s market and put the weight of the basket on your hip or head (do not use plastic bags). Cook a healthy meal with your loved ones, break bread together, and then help wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. No dishwasher allowed!
  • Visit an orchard; pick the apples off the tree and eat them. Picking fruits and berries and eating them straight from the vine is a wonderful feeling. Gather nuts, crack them and then enjoy the delicious meaty morsel inside.
  • Plant a garden patch. Dig in the dirt without gardening gloves and get soil underneath your fingernails.  You’ll feel a sense of satisfaction as you tend your plants and watch them grow.
  • Read a book. No E-readers! Reading is a quiet, solitary activity but is completely absorbing and keeps the mind sharp.
  • Use watercolors to create a painting. Paul Cezanne said that in painting lies salvation. You’d be surprised at how easy and sort of error-proof watercolor paints actually are. 
  • Write a poem. Even if you don’t feel particularly inspired, try writing down what you feel, see, hear, smell, etc. People who journal and write every day tend to be happier and more focused.
  • Sew on a button. Don’t rely on a tailor to do your mending; take the time for a simple yet meditative activity.
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