Egypt – The Jewels of the Nile – Part I

Egypt - The Jewels of the Nile - Part I

A Dream Comes True

When my sister called me at work and randomly asked “Do you want to go to Egypt?” I responded with an almighty “Hell Yeah!”. How could I resist? Egypt was always high on the bucket list. So without any hesitation, we started the ball rolling arranging flights, accommodation, tour packages, passports, visas and a countdown to our departure date.

I’ve dreamed of travelling to this fascinating country famous for the Pyramids of Giza, which is an extraordinary Ancient Wonder of the World that has weathered the test of time. Egypt is also steeped in history, full of mystique, rich in culture and eye-opening customs. We wanted to take a step back into the past, into an era of Pharaohs and a civilisation that spans thousands of years.

In this three part series, I focus on the most impressive tourist attractions that Egypt is renowned for. These gems are scattered along the Nile, all of which are man-made monuments built thousands of years before Christ and a testament to man’s ingenuity. I’ve also added basic facts about the history and significance of each site just for a little bit of trivial information.

Insight Vacations: Jewels of the Nile – 11 Day Tour

We weren’t the adventurous type, and being creatures of style and comfort, we opted for a leisurely 11 day guided tour with Insight Vacations. The trip was predominantly spent cruising Lake Nasser and the Nile River to witness the many exotic highlights that Egypt has to offer. The package included buffet breakfasts, lunch and dinner, airport transfers, domestic flights between Cairo and Aswan and between Cairo and Luxor, as well as a stay at the deluxe 5-Star Cairo Marriott Hotel. While on land, we were transported by an air-conditioned bus between each site, accompanied by an enthusiastic guide who had in depth knowledge of the city and the history behind each spot visited. Bottled water and headsets for all guided visits and walking tours were provided for extra convenience. We didn’t have to figure out where to eat, what to do, where to go or determine how to get there (and waste valuable time getting lost along the way).

Egypt at a Glance: Things to Do, Cities to See

Cairo

  • Highlights include the Salah El Din Citadel, Mohamed Ali Mosque, Khan El Khalili bazaars and the Egyptian Museum where you can view Tutankhamun’s treasures
  • Visit Memphis and see the statue of Rameses II
  • Visit Giza to view the Pyramids and the great Sphinx
  • Take the opportunity to ride a camel with the Pyramids as a backdrop

Alexandria

  • Highlights include the Roman Amphitheatre, Pombey’s Pillar and the Quayet-Bey Fortress

Aswan

  • Highlights include the Temple of Dakka and the Temple of Kalabsha
  • Visit Abu Simbel to view the Temple of Rameses II and Temple of Hathor. Experience the monuments at their most majestic – lit up for the sound and light show
  • Visit Kom Ombo to see the Temple of Kom Ombo
  • Travel by motorboat to visit the Temple of Philae
  • Sail on a traditional ‘felucca’ where you’ll hear festive Egyptian music
  • Celebrate in true Egyptian style with a Galabea party, along with some belly dancing. Even get jiggy to some Egyptian music while dressed up in traditional Egyptian costumes
  • Experience life in a Nubian Village and get a henna tattoo while you’re there

Luxor

  • Highlights include the Temple of Luxor, the Temple of Karnak and the Colossi of Memnon
  • Visit Edfu to view the Temple of Horus
  • Visit the Valley of the Kings and enter the tomb of Tutankhamon and view his mummified body
  • Visit the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Hatshepsut

I hope this quick snapshot is enough to wet the appetite. In my next instalment, I will delve into the stunning attractions of Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan in greater detail, and include extraordinary pictures capturing the amazing beauty of Egypt and its gems.

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Are You Looking for Love – Adopt A Pet!

Are You Looking for Love - Adopt A Pet!

Winston the Wonder Dog was adopted from the RSPCA over two years ago and he’s touched and enriched our lives immensely, as a loyal and loving furry four-legged member of the family. Giving Winston a new life in a new home was one of the best gifts we could have provided to a wonderful dog, who was reluctantly given up for adoption by his original, but elderly owner.

I will never forget cautioning my partner and reassuring him not to become too emotional that day. However, as soon as we entered the RSPCA and witnessed the row of kennels that sheltered numerous homeless dogs, I was the one who was flooded with tears, almost overwhelmed by seeing the number of dogs requiring re-housing and the difficult process in deciding which dog to take with us.

We both initially had our eyes set on a one year old Beagle named Buddy. But after some discussions with the helpful RSPCA staff members, we were rightfully informed that Buddy wouldn’t fit within our busy schedules. We stood in the office a little disheartened before deciding to continue our search.

Some of the dogs were too large and our home couldn’t accommodate their size and energy, others required significant attention and training (but given our careers, we weren’t able to provide such constant care) and other dogs were too temperamental. We were close to coming home empty handed that day. Luckily, we persevered to the very last kennel in the block. To our delight, we saw a handsome eight year old Chihuahua x Pomeranian proudly prance towards us. As soon as we saw him, we were putty in his paws.

My partner was adamant on adopting a pet through an animal shelter, for various reasons. First and foremost, he wanted to give an animal a much deserved second chance at life. Secondly, we were after advice and assistance in determining which pet would suit our personal needs and lifestyle requirements, and this was achieved through the pet-to-owner matching program that is offered by most animal shelters including the RSPCA.

A staff member at the RSPCA looked into our lifestyle, the hours we worked, whether we had existing pets or kids at home, how large our yard was, how much time and training we could offer and when – these factors were taken into consideration in recommending a dog suitable for us. When we found Winston, we were then given the opportunity to bond with him, spending time walking him around the RSPCA compound.

A third benefit of adopting a pet through an animal shelter is the educational information regarding responsible pet ownership which is available to help you along the pre and post animal adoption journey. Furthermore, all shelter animals have undergone vigorous health and temperament checks to ensure their suitability as pets, often de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped and wormed. Lastly, animals up for adoption are very reasonably priced. The fee barely covers the cost of de-sexing, vaccinating, worming and micro-chipping the animals prior to adoption.

For further information, visit:

www.adoptapet.com.au to view animals available for adoption at RSPCA shelters across Australia.

www.dogshome.com to view animals available for adoption at Lost Dogs Home shelters

www.lortsmith.com to view animals available for adoption at Lort Smith Animal Hospital

If you’re after a loyal, loving companion – adopt a pet! There are many adorable animals available for adoption at an animal shelter near you.  If you don’t have an RSPCA facility near you, there are other great organisations that exist to re-house abandoned animals including the Lost Dogs Home or The Lort Smith Shelter. Ultimately, these animals deserve a second chance. They deserve it!

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. If you’ve been similarly touched by the adoption of a pet, please help spread the message via one of the social media links below.

Birdy Takes Flight With Dulcet Tones

Birdy Takes Flight With Dulcet Tones

Image Source: Google

Every so often, there’s a rare voice and song that touches the heart and Birdy’s “People Help The People” hits the spot nicely.

While driving home at rush hour, I was surfing the radio dials when I heard a snippet of a song that instantly caught my attention. Despite the bumper to bumper traffic, the melody and lyrics continued to calm the road rage simmering within, along with the mesmerising and haunting tones of the artist, whose name (along with the song title) was a mystery to me.

Image Source: Google

Channelling my inner Sherlock Holmes, with the help of Google and Wikipedia, I discovered the name of the track, ‘People Help The People’ which is wonderfully performed by an up and coming musician known as Birdy. Hailing from UK, what makes Birdy remarkable is the pure raw talent she exudes at the tender age of 16, blessed with a voice so captivating and strong, she expresses her music with such passion and deep emotion1.

Image Source: Google

Born Jasmine Van den Bogaerde, Birdy is part of an artistic family, her mother is a classically trained concert pianist and her great-uncle was the actor and writer, Sir Dirk Bogarde2. Her journey to fame began after uploading a video via YouTube of herself performing one of her own songs3 and then ‘winning the Open Mic UK music competition in 2008 at the age of 12’4.

Image Source: Google

Birdy launched her self titled album in 2011 which is currently sitting at the No.1 spot on the ARIA album chart along with scoring two tracks in the top 10 singles chart – ‘Skinny Love’ is No.2, while ‘People Help The People’ is positioned at No.105. The album is predominantly covers arranged and interpreted in Birdy’s own signature style, including Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’, The XX’s ‘Shelter’, as well as her take on songs by artists such as Cherry Ghost, The National, Phoenix, The Postal Service and James Taylor6. Birdy’s cover of ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘Shelter’ were both featured on the television show The Vampire Diaries and her single ‘Just a Game’ is part of The Hunger Games soundtrack7. Recently, Birdy performed the track ‘Bird Gerhl’ at the Opening Ceremony of the London Paralympic Games.

Image Source: Google

Every now and then there’s a rare voice and song that touches the heart and Birdy’s “People Help The People” hits the spot nicely. I can’t wait to watch Birdy’s career take flight, especially with ‘a voice that is so world-weary and steeped in soul, she is quite simply, unique’7.

To listen to ‘People Help The People’ or other tracks sung by Birdy, visit her website http://officialbirdy.com/about.htm

Image Source: Google

 

Sources

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/birdy-flies-high-on-aria-charts/story-e6frf7kf-1226463772966

http://officialbirdy.com/about.htm

Citations on Request

Stars Go Nude & Shimmer

Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts and Paris Hilton sizzled in their gorgeous frocks, while rocking the hottest trend of the season – going Nude!

Kate Hudson made a stunning red carpet appearance at the launch of the 69th Venice Film Festival wearing a gorgeous nude Atelier Versace gown which she teamed with Fabergé jewellery and topped off with an ultra glam Venetian Goddess updo1.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

The near-strapless, embroidered lace, figure hugging number accentuated Kate’s shapely curves2.  Accompanying Kate to the event was fiancé and Muse frontman, Matthew Bellamy, who rocked a classic tuxedo ensemble with black sunglasses3. The couple is in Italy to promote Kate’s new film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist4.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

Australia’s own Naomi Watts also attended the premiere to support her partner, Liev Schreiber, who stars along side Kate in the movie. Naomi took centre stage posing for photographers in a similar nude Marchesa gown, albeit, subtly more demure with lace overlay panels and fishtail detail5.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/30/article-2195419-14BD922F000005DC-102_634x910.jpg

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist, based on the novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid, tells the story of a Pakistani-born high flyer who takes a job at a Wall Street firm but turns his back on the US and returns to his native Lahore after the events of 9/11’6.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/29/article-2195419-14BD9C45000005DC-26_634x830.jpg

‘Kate turns brunette for her role as a photographer named Erica – the primary love interest in the film. Liev, meanwhile, takes on the role of a U.S. reporter in the movie and looked smart in a tuxedo as he posed alongside Naomi’7.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

Keeping in line with the nude colour palette was Paris Hilton, who was spotted wearing a willowy beige and white two tone maxi dress8. According to the Daily Mail UK, ‘Paris was the picture of serenity as she glided from her car and through the airport. The heiress cut a stylish figure as she boarded her private jet at LAX, heading for China, covering her flowing blonde locks with a wide brimmed sun hat and donning her trademark dark sunglasses from her own range’9.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/29/article-2195106-14BA7111000005DC-850_634x895.jpg

Source:

Popsugar.com

http://www.popsugar.com.au/Kate-Hudson-Atelier-Versace-Pictures-Matthew-Bellamy-2012-Venice-Film-Festival-24661245 Viewed 30 August, 2012

Dailymail.co.uk

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2195419/Kate-Hudson-Naomi-Watts-shimmer-ordinated-nude-gowns-hit-red-carpet-Venice-Film-festival.html#ixzz24z249PpQ Viewed 30 August, 2012

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2195106/Paris-Hilton-makes-glamorous-exit-boards-private-jet-LAX-China.html#ixzz24zBGf4Eo Viewed 30 August, 2012

Citations on Request

Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen

According to the Daily Mail UK, Nigella Lawson has been dubbed “the queen of food porn”, a comment attributed to her flirtatious manner in presenting her popular cooking programs1. To her credit, Lawson has proven to be more than just a pretty face with a sensual charm and wit. Nigella is a critically acclaimed writer of several bestselling cook books, achieving over 1.5million in global sales and was voted author of the year at the British Book Awards in 20012. With a dedicated and growing audience worldwide, Lawson has also gained international recognition as a television personality and host of Nigella Express, Nigella Feasts and Nigella Kitchen3.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

In addition, Lawson has earned a ‘degree in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford, then went on to pursue a successful career in journalism, becoming Deputy Literary Editor of The Sunday Times. This was followed by a successful freelance career writing for a range of publications, from The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times Magazine in the UK to Gourmet and Bon Appetit in the USA’4.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson

Cooking has never been my forte. I have managed to burn boiling water, make glue from preparing steamed rice (even with the use of a rice cooker!), churned out a batch of rubbery pancakes and turned steak into slate tiles  When I first moved out of home, 2-minute noodles (accompanied by a cheeky glass of chardonnay) was the extent of my cooking repertoire.  What I lack in skill and talent, I make up for in appetite and a passion for eating!

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/posts/

This is where Nigella serves up some sweet inspiration. Lawson is neither a trained chef nor cook, which gives me a glimmer of hope that one day, I too can become a domestic goddess who sizzles in the kitchen while whipping up a feast as delectable as she can (it won’t happen over night, but it will happen!). Despite the absence of professional qualifications or training5, it’s evident in her programs that Nigella has a love and natural flair for cooking, with a broad knowledge of recipes including international cuisines, an in depth understanding of flavour combinations and ultimately, plating up with a little razzle dazzle.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

I have an affinity for her laid back, fuss free approach to cooking, empowering viewers with the confidence that you don’t need to be Michelin star chefs to prepare mouth watering dishes. ‘Nigella’s kitchen mantra is “minimum effort with maximum effect”’6; it’s a back to basics style to food preparation and entertaining. Simplicity is the key, without compromising on taste or wow factor, a common theme Lawson applies to everyday meals to late suppers, picnics, special celebrations or even afternoon snacks.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Lawson delivers her message with her signature articulate, engaging charm and flirtatious smile. Nigella’s programs have an intimate vibe, that is, it’s almost conversational as she opens up about tips and ideas on time saving solutions to preparing meals7. The principle centres around uncomplicated, stress-less cooking and entertaining. You don’t need exotic ingredients to whip up a great dish, take advantage of what’s inside your pantry! Lawson even confesses to using ready-made salad packets and sauces bought off the counter – let’s face it, today’s modern family (with their busy schedules and lifestyle) needs convenient short cuts to save time.

As someone who’s better at scorching, nuking, scalding and spoiling meals, but has an insatiable appetite for scrumptious food, for me, Nigella makes cooking look effortless while bringing sexy back into the kitchen!

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Sources

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2071324/Nigella-Lawson-Erotic-Ms-Lawson-furiously-denies-dishes-food-porn.html  Viewed Sep 2, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/chefs/nigellalawson/  Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-express/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-feasts/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-kitchen/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

Citations on Request

Design Inc – Sarah Richardson 101

Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com/files/styles/layout_row_full_width/public/hero/Living_VerA-029-LowRes.png?itok=vHX3IpZ3

If you think too much publicity and overexposure on our television screens is a bad marketing strategy, don’t tell Sarah Richardson and her design team. Sarah Richardson is a guru of interior decorating and design and is the host of uber chic renovation programs such as Design Inc, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service and Sarah 101, as seen on the Lifestyle-Home channel. In fact, the Lifestyle-Home channel should be re-positioned as the Sarah Richardson Network!

Image Source: hgtv.com

“Sarah Richardson started her career in lifestyle television 15 years ago as a behind-the-scenes prop stylist and set decorator. Within a year, Sarah found herself in high demand as an on screen personality and quickly realised that she could carve a niche in the emerging world of design TV by sharing her practical, endearing and inspiring approach to interior design with viewers”1.

Image Source: hgtv.com

I’m a one trick pony with my “Matchy Matchy” decorating solutions. On the other hand, balance and symmetry is certainly not Sarah’s trademark design aesthetic. Sarah has the innate talent of putting together an eclectic mix of accessories and pieces, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours, combining contemporary with traditional themes, and making the concept look cohesive. Overall, there is a sense of whimsy that resonates in her signature home transformations, which I define as a fusion of modern sophistication with a French provincial edge.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Richardson has a flair for blending vintage pieces into her interior makeovers and is also renowned for recycling old ‘trash’ and transforming it into one’s treasure, that is, revamping dated, worn out furniture with the pizzazz of re-upholstery, or by touching up with a splash of paint. Sarah’s other passion is incorporating antiques into her designs as they maintain their value long term, which is ideal for clients sourcing investment pieces for their homes.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Sarah, along with her main partner in crime, Tommy Smythe, is not afraid to get her hands dirty and isn’t scared to take control of a power drill or hand tool, especially when installing flat pack cabinetry and other furniture items. Richardson is also an avid do-it-yourselfer (DIYer), giving viewers first hand lessons on a range of DIY projects from floral arrangements, sewing your own pillow covers or valances, to demonstrating innovative ways to revamping table lamps with ribbons or jazzing up walls using China plates or framed shells or buttons as decor!

Image Source: hgtv.com

I’m sometimes sceptical about her ideas of mixing and matching ornate vintage items with contemporary accents. Yet, she manages to prove me wrong with her approach to decorating. The final result of each home makeover she designs is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Sarah never ceases to amaze me with how she executes her unique vision on dated and dreary interiors, transforming them into sophisticated and functional abodes with timeless appeal.

Sarah Richardson

Citation

1. http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/sarah/about  Viewed 29 August 2012

Image Source: hgtv.com

Good Girls go to Heaven. Bad Girls go Everywhere!

Good Girls go to Heaven. Bad Girls go Everywhere!

Before the character Carrie Bradshaw and her posse of hip, sexy, vivacious and smart gal pals struck a cord with women around the world, there was Helen Gurley Brown, who embodied the original strong, independent, free spirited woman portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex & The City. Helen was ahead of her time and paved the way for future generations of women to pursue a career and embrace their independence, financial freedom and sexuality.

In 1962, she penned the bestseller Sex and the Single Girl before taking control of Cosmopolitan magazine, where she sat at the helm as editor in chief from 1965 to 1997. She transformed the languishing magazine into the ultimate Bible of female empowerment, with the publication of smart, bold, feisty articles aimed at women and the use of titillating headlines and topics charged with sexual overtones.

In doing so, Helen revolutionised the publishing industry and the face of journalism. She was an outspoken advocate that women could have it all – money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity. She was a strong believer that self-sufficiency was a woman’s greatest asset.

Helen was a true pioneer, pivotal in highlighting women’s sexual freedom and bringing the feminist movement to the forefront of modern culture. She gave women a voice, and used the magazine as a vehicle for women to address their hopes, passions and ambitions.

According to Bonnie Fuller of hollywoodlife.com, ‘[Helen] preached the positive power of achieving through career building in the pages of Cosmo. “Cosmo girls” (the readers of her magazine) didn’t have to be born rich, beautiful or hugely talented. [Helen] believed that if you just got up every day and worked hard enough, you could achieve success. [Helen] was a tremendous believer in the power of hard work and common sense.

Helen Gurley Brown died August 13, 2012 aged 90. “Good things will happen if you get up every day and work at it. What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up.”