1, 2, 3…. SKI !

ski1Winter is upon us (in Northern Hemisphere anyway) and with all the snow falling the best way to make the most of it is a skiing vacation. While the busy Christmas holiday season is over, now is a perfect time to go skiing as there are less crowds and even better snow.

But if you have little ones, finding the balance of them having fun and you being able to do the same, can be a fine line. So where are the best ski schools that allow you to rest easy and know that your kids are having a great experience while you tear up the slopes?

1. Deer Valley Ski School – Deer Valley, Utah
Always named the best and in USA and I can personally vouch for this one, having taken my 3 ½ year old there last year for her first ski experience. Amazing service and run with very tight guidelines that ensure your child will love their ski experience and want to come back again. http://www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/SkiSchool/ChildrensGroupLessons

2. Les Elfes – Verbier, Switzerland
If your kids are a bit older (8 – 18) and happy to go on their own, then a week long camp at Les Elfes may be for them. Skiing during the day, optional language lessons, cultural excursions and a 3-course meal and games at night. http://leselfes.com/winter-camp/

3. Niseko International Snow Sports School – Hanazono, Japan
The best kids ski program in Japan (we tried this school in December). International instructors, purpose build magic carpets, great indoor activities and amazing lunches for the little ones. A perfect balance to keep them entertained all day. Oh and a very amusing mascot “Kamonohashi” that is a skiing platypus! http://www.hanazononiseko.com/en/winter/niss/kids-programs.html

4. Mix Academy – Beaver Creek, Colorado
Kids have their own Buckaroo Express Gondola, taking them to their own special ski area. For girls aged 7-16 there is even a program inspired by Lindsey Vonn And when they aren’t skiing, they can be found tubing or having warm chocolate chip cookies every afternoon at 3 pm. http://www.beavercreek.com/plan-your-trip/book-ski-and-ride-lessons/lesson-results.aspx?ages=Child&sport=ski&skill=intermediate&pfm=lpclick

Where are your favourite kids ski schools?

SKI HARD!

FESTIVE MADE EASY

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You better watch out, you better not cry! It’s time to start soaking up all that Holiday Season cheer.

No matter what you have planned – whether it’s a vacation somewhere or spending time at home with loved ones, there is always some level of organisation that needs to take place to get you through the holiday period (that, and a lot of wine!)

So while you may be stuck at your desk at work, or too busy to try and find a parking spot in the overcrowded shopping malls, here are some great websites that let you get organised from the comfort of your desk or sofa.

http://mymerrychristmas.com
Hailed as “The World’s Largest Christmas Community” – full of ideas, décor, food and even recommended Christmas movies to watch

http://www.styleathome.com/organizing/organizing-ideas/12-days-of-christmas-organizing/a/28692
A step-by-step “12 Days of Christmas” daily countdown guide to get yourself ready for the Holiday if you are hosting it at home

http://christmas.organizedhome.com/
A site showcasing how to make this Christmas simple. Some great suggestions on things to do that won’t break the bank and kids (and adults) will enjoy.

http://www.christmasmarkets.com/
If you are in Europe – here is a list of over 400 Christmas markets you can visit

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/christmas
And let’s not forget a guide to the magical New York City, where the lead up to Christmas is celebrated more than on December 25

AND FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING ONLINE WITH A TWIST

https://givengoods.co
Given Goods is the marketplace for products that give back. Every product offered on Given Goods makes a tangible social impact every time it’s purchased

http://www.uncommongoods.com
An online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices

http://www.custommade.com
Exactly that! Custom made your Christmas present.

http://youngrepublic.com
A community you can find unique designs from all over the world from up and coming fashion designers

What is the best Christmas website you have found?

Ho, Ho, Ho!

TO BE, OR NOT TO BE

rio-carnival-2013-unidos-de-vila-isabel-53Last week I was lucky enough to watch the famous Bolshoi Ballet perform Swan Lake, and personally I would consider it to be an experience that should be included in the “once in a lifetime events” if you are able to. So this then triggered the question, what else should be included?

In no particular order here are some of the world’s best cultural activities (and strictly my opinion only!)

Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, London England
A very unique open-air theatre that was re-constructed to reflect where the playwright’s greatest works were performed during the 16th century

Rio Carnival, Rio Brazil
Held in Rio de Janeiro it is considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets

Tea Ceremony, Kyoto Japan
Chado (“tea ceremony”) is a traditional ritual influenced by Zen Buddhism

Guggenheim Art Museum, New York USA
A New York institution and one of the world’s best-known art galleries

Opera at the Fondazione Arena, Verona Italy
Around 150 performances of five operas and a ballet between mid-June and the end of August every year

Thai Cooking Class, Chiang Mai Thailand
Surrounded by picturesque rice paddy fields, learn to cook amazing dishes from from Thai Master Chef’s

Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Russia
Iconic Swan Lake in the famous theatre, where it was originally performed in 1877

So what is your must-do cultural experience?

GET YOUR MOVE ON

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Looking to move overseas to work?

There are positives and negatives in all countries, so just what might seal the deal for you and where should you go?

According to a recent survey by HSBC (http://www.expatexplorer.hsbc.com/#/countries) Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam will give you the biggest bang for your buck, as the cost of living is the lowest in these three countries.

Germany tops the position in the Raising Children Abroad when looking at factors such as education costs, quality of childcare, health and experience. Singapore ranks second in this area, and comes in first as the safest place to live.

Beware on the tax front if you are moving to Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, France or the UK as these countries may have you ending up worse off – with combination of lower earning potential coupled with higher expenses and likelihood to pay more personal tax rate than at home.

And the number 1 overall may surprise you!

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So where would you choose to live?

LIFE IS TOO SERIOUS

tumblr_mniandVQ7p1sn7lxto1_1280What does white whine, Suri Cruise, Goldman Sachs and babies crying all have in common?

They are all blogs, and today I am going to be wild and crazy and encourage you to read other people’s posts!

After all, I don’t want you to overdose on WTF so I thought I would share some of my favourite ones out there. But be warned some are for the not so faint hearted.

GS Elevator http://gselevator.wordpress.com
A very witty and sarcastic blog based on the world of finance. There are actually some smart tips in some of articles and I love the Twitter posts even more. It has received huge attention from the press and articles have been re-published all around the world. But be warned – it may offend.

Suri’s Burn Book http://surisburnbook.tumblr.com
Written by Allie Hagan who masquerades as Suri Cruise (by day she works in consulting in Washington DC). An amusing account of famous kids through the eyes of Miss Cruise – I am a big fan.

White Whine http://whitewhine.com
A site detailing the World’s “real” issues. People complaining about all manner of things, which of course are not life threatening or important. An amusing read that exposes the World’s biggest whingers.

And if you simply want a good old fashioned laugh try this one –
Reasons My Son is Crying http://www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com
A site where parents can post photos of their children crying and the funny reasons why

Enjoy!

What are your favourite blogs? (apart from WTF of course)

IS SEA CHEAPER THAN LAND?

HT_marquette_tk_120708_16x9_992Firstly, apologies for the radio silence on WTF… it seems the “work” part has been outweighing the travel and the fashion piece lately. With that, I will blatantly promote the launch of my new business www.geekteam.asia and now get on with this week’s post!

It seems you can’t go to a dinner party at the moment without the conversation turning to the topic of buying a home. No matter where in the world you live, prices seem to be higher than ever and people are now having to look for alternatives to the white picket fence dream.

And where is one place they are looking? On the sea.

The World (www.aboardtheworld.com) was launched on 2002 is a private ship owned by its residents. The 165 apartments are owned by people from over 19 different countries with some living on board full time and others part time. With a grocery store and deli, a boutique, golf simulator, putting green, full-sized tennis court, jogging track, gym, movie theatre, 6 restaurants, bars, nightclub, 12,000-bottle wine cellar and a myriad of classes on offer – plus visiting ports around the world from 2 to 5 days. Life could be worse. Cost $1million to $14million for an apartment.

The Marquette (www.rivercitiescondos.com/cruising) will be the largest inland passenger vessel in the world with 180 residences, and accommodation is a bit more reasonably priced at between $310,000 to $1.8 million for full ownership. Facilities though are not as extensive – a gym, golf chipping course, pool, library, theatre and 2 restaurants. And the cruising is not worldly – it is within the US on the rivers.

Utopia Residences (www.utopiaresidences.com) are tipped to be the most extravagant residences (200 of them) on the water. Prices start at $3.9 million through to $160 million. There is a residence only section for owners, and communal amenities will include a casino, a world-class spa, a fitness centre, waterslide, restaurants, multiple bars and lounges, a nightclub, a theater, swimming pools, a floating marina, art gallery, shopping facilities and a helipad. Launching in 2014 so get your cheque book ready!

And if you had your heart set on living on the QE2 sadly she will be retired soon to the docks and her only full-time resident (89-year-old Beatrice Muller) will be looking for a new ship to call home.

So is sea cheaper than land? As always it depends on your taste!

OLD SCHOOL WEIGHT LOSS

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Unfortunately I was not be born with a model’s body, so I have to exercise to counteract my food and wine consumption. And being an avid outdoor exerciser, I always have a giggle to myself when walking past a gym and noticing people reading a magazine or book while they are on a treadmill – I mean seriously is the speed set on 0.5 to be able to do that?

But what is even more amusing is hearing about the latest fitness fad, only to see swarms of people who jump on board believing they can get fit and lose weight by expending no energy at all and still be able to eat McDonalds for lunch (trust me if one really existed I would be all over it!)

So what are the most ridiculous fitness inventions? Here are my top 5 –

1.The Thigh Master
Let’s start old school 1980’s with one of the original fitness “machines” sold on late night television. There wasn’t a lot of thighs mastered and the inventor, Joshua Reynolds, was also behind the Mood Ring, if you weren’t already sceptical!

2.Toning Shoes
Any sporting item promoted and endorsed by Kim Kardashian (the least sporty person on the planet) should be sounding alarm bells! Both the Reebok and Skechers brand have been proven to give zero toning ability.

3.Balance Bands
I really wish I had invented these. With zero “balance” powers (the placebos work exactly the same) millions of people have forked out $29.99 to try and improve strength and balance by via of a rubber bracelet!

4.The Face Trainer
Just in case you wanted to tighten 44 muscles on your face and look like Hanibal Lector while you do it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hhZR8CS7cgA

5.The Shake Weight
Ohhh my favourite. With more than 4 million units sold, I am hoping that most of these are for spoof presents. A 2.5 pound spring-loaded dumbbell which works by mimicking an action that should be kept for the bedroom!

Unfortunately we know the ugly truth is that it takes plain hard work, dedication and some self-control or discipline in the eating and drinking department, which is not much fun.

What is the craziest fitness fad you have tried?