How to share special travel moments with your loved ones

P1020548

Sharing is more than caring. It’s a natural need we all have at some level. People also often say that “happiness is only real if it’s shared.” Is that true? Maybe, I wouldn’t go to that extreme. There is certainly some level of happiness to be attained even when you don’t share a perfect moment but to feel true bliss it’s, indeed, true that it is better to be able to share your story with someone. If that someone is someone you know, like or love, that’s even better.

But here you are, in a foreign country where most people don’t have a clue what you are talking about as they don’t speak your language. You’re having an amazing time and experiencing all these new things and you want to tell someone about it, preferably your dear ones back home. But that’s easier said than done usually. Just calling back home is not an option as it would eat up your travelling budget superfast and you can’t really get a hold of folks back home on Skype or Facebook as often as you’d like it. So what do you do? You find a smart way around it.

International Calling Cards

What you need is something that harnesses the power of VoIP, the Internet and the classical phone lines. And you get exactly that when you purchase a calling card (for example Enjoy Prepaid). A calling card will allow you to call back home for an incredibly low rate while enjoying more than decent call quality.

A calling card allows you to call from your smartphone when you have decent Internet access or from your PC if that is more convenient. What’s even more amazing is that you can use regular landlines to make a phone call at the same rates by making use of the special access number and your unique access PIN. This is an alternative to roaming that costs a lot less and it is becoming incredibly popular among travelers, expats and so on.

Speaking your language

There’s something magic in speaking your own language when sharing a travel experience or any experience for that matter. You don’t need to search for your words anymore, everything just comes natural and you can fully express your emotions.

It’s great to be able to just pick up the phone after a great moment and share that with your best friend or your family. Luckily, thanks to readily available Internet access and calling cards you can enjoy this benefit.

Mobile Internet

More and more travellers prefer now to buy 3G sim cards whenever they reach a new destination so they have Internet access and use VoIP services to call home. If you choose to do that too, make sure you ask the providers if they limit VoIP calls in any way or not. Some do, some don’t and it’s safer to ask before buying.

Now you can be more connected than ever. You can not only call back home when you are abroad but you can also call the friends you made all over the world when you return back home. Everything for just a few cents.

How to reconnect with folk back home (or travelling buddies)

DSC00188

Since I started travelling a strange thing started to happen. While when back home I felt the need to go away and escape now I started to miss my family and friends and wanted to reconnect with them as often as possible. Moreover, when you travel or when you live in a very touristic place like Ubud you start to make friends from all the imaginable and unimaginable countries and you want to keep in touch with everyone. Facebook and Twitter are OK but as you know it’s something completely different when you can actually be called or talk to someone on the phone.

One of the alternatives to Skype that I hear everyone is very excited about is the International Calls NobelApp that is available for both Android smartphones and iPhones. You probably thought that it costs a fortune to simply call abroad and that you can’t just pick up phone to call your folks or your friends to ask about some kind of recipe or just to reach out. The NobelCom phone cards totally changed the game as you can use them from just about any phone by dialing an access number, entering your PIN, your destination number and start talking at really LOW COSTS. So you don’t need Internet, which is quite amazing considering that getting really high-speed Internet in Ubud or other parts of Bali is quite difficult.

You can also use this type of apps with your Wi-Fi or with a 3G connection and it works perfectly. The sound quality is actually surprisingly good. It’s nice to actually hear the person you are talking to without the background noise and interference you have with some of the normal calls. You don’t even feel you are thousands of miles away, on a relatively isolated (although very populated and gorgeous) island.

We all have smartphones now and the Nobel app will use your data plan. In most countries you can get a really cheap SIM card with a good data plan and the speed is more than decent. Actually the prices in South-East Asia are amazingly low for this type of service. And if you don’t have a smartphone you can download the NobelCom PC-2-Phone app and use it on your PC. And I love the fact that you can send International text messages as that makes you feel more connected in some way as it’s something you would do more when you are back home.

The world is becoming more international. It’s now easier than ever to call anywhere at low costs without having to have a fancy Internet connection. You can really control your costs and hear the other person perfectly while being heard beautifully. And I love the mobility also. We’re not tied to the computer anymore, we can now call directly from our smartphones or even from any phone we have access to.

It’s absolutely great to travel but you always have some loved ones somewhere else in the world and reconnecting is part of our nature, now you have the tools to do it without affecting your budget.

Sponsored Post: Baking with kids

Baking is an activity that I’ve only recently started getting back into. I used to bake quite a few cakes and biscuits when I lived in the UK (blame my sweet tooth for that) but after not having an oven for years after moving to Bali, I’d not baked anything in a long time.

I finally got around to buying a little mini oven when we moved house and I’m pleased to say it’s been put to very good use. I bake my own bread every few days, make pizzas including dough from scratch and cakes of course, including Maya’s last birthday cake.

Baking isn’t just about the bread or cake you get at the end of it – the process is half the fun and it’s something I love to share with my kids. Baking is such a great activity for kids of all ages and it never gets boring. Maya’s favourite dinner at the moment is home-made pizza and she loves mixing the ingredients together and kneading the dough. Making biscuits is another favourite activity for both kids and they get so excited to hear the “ping!” of the oven when the treats are ready for eating.

I used to think baking bread was hard before I tried it but now I know how easy it is and how much more delicious homemade bread is than store bought, it’s a regular activity in our house.

World Baking Day is coming up on the 17th of May and this is a great opportunity to get started with baking with your kids.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 9.04.41 PM

 

 

 

 

I think we’re going to have a go at making the “World’s Happiest Cake” (recipe below) for papa as he often comes back from the market with cakes and other goodies for us. Plus it’ll be a bonus if making this for breakfast really makes him happy, as he always wakes up grumpy :p

Make a pledge to bake for someone special here and share what you have baked and hashtag  #worldbakingday on your social media platforms! Join the WBD Community on Facebook, follow the WDB on Twitter, Instagram and Google + or even pin the WBD on Pinterest! Also, check out Blue Band’s Website! Bake for someone special on #worldbakingday! It would be great to capture the moment with photos and post them on your social media accounts!

COCONUT, MANGO LIME AND CAKE RECIPE (The World’s Happiest Cake)

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 9.08.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 9.09.14 PM

Servings: 16 slices

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 70 minutes

Cake:

225 g Blue Band Cake & Cookie

325 g sugar

4 eggs

250g self-raising flour

100g all purpose flour

the skin of 2 limes, grated

50 g dried mango, finely chopped

50 g almond pieces

50 g desiccated coconut

Syrup:

Juice of 2 lemons

60 g sugar

Filling:

55 g Blue Band Cake & Cookie

175 g of powdered sugar

1-2 tsp milk



Cake:

  1. Grease a round baking dish (diameter 23 cm) with Blue Band Cake & Cookie, and cover with baking paper. Preheat oven to a temperature of 170 ° C.
  2. Beat Blue Band Cake & Cookie and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well with a spatula.
  3. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cooked for 70 minutes.
  4. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Syrup:

Cook the lemon juice and sugar until boiling and the sugar dissolved. Pour onto the entire surface of the cake.

Filling:

  1. Whisk Blue Band Cake & Cookie, sugar, and milk until smooth.
  2. Slice the cake horizontally into 3 pieces. sandwich the pieces together with the filling and mango puree

Topping:

  1. Create glaze by mixing lemon juice with the icing sugar. Pour into the cake surface.
  2. Garnish with nuts, mango, coconut, and almonds.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 9.12.22 PM

This post sponsored by Blue Band for World Baking Day but all thoughts are my own 🙂

Sponsored video – what tastes remind you of home?

There’s a bit of an obsession in the expat community, wherever you happen to be, about food. People obsess over food from home and are quite often willing to pay ridiculous prices to get it. The small import section at our local supermarket has salt and vinegar  crisps for 70,000rp (about £4 – I don’t miss them that much). If you’re one of those people who like marmite (or more likely vegemite if you’re in Bali because you’re probably Australian), you can expect to pay over 100,000rp for a small jar – that’s around 10 Australian dollars or about £5.

Personally, I’ve managed to get by without missing too much – I did get my family to bring over a few things the first couple of years I was here – mainly junk food. But I’m blaming that on the fact that I was pregnant.

Since then I’ve adjusted by cooking a lot more – I make my own bread now along with hummus and a load of other random things that are impossible to buy here like gravy. The one thing I do really miss every now and again is a proper roast dinner. It’s coming up to Easter now and my mum always used to make a big roast dinner on Easter Sunday and we’d usually invite a few friends over.

So I found this video in which a mother embarks on a journey to the Arctic in order to prepare her daughter a proper roast dinner quite touching. Funnily enough, I considered working in the Arctic at one point (not training Huskies though, how random is that!?)

Research from Knorr has found that 82% of people agree that the taste of some foods will remind them of their childhood so it’s not really surprising that we get so wrapped up in thinking about foods we miss from home. If we ever end up living in the UK, my kids will probably be crying for rice and tempe every day…

p.s. I’d only ever used instant gravy before I was forced to make my own but it’s actually pretty easy to make with stock cubes and flour – there are some good gravy recipes on the Knorr website

This post sponsored by Knorr but all thoughts are my own

 

Don’t forget the…

P1000652

Are you a forgetful type of person? I didn’t used to be so bad until I had kids and developed mum brain. I remember once going to the supermarket and completely forgetting to buy any food. Also can clearly remember when Maya was a toddler and I forgot to give her dinner one night :/ I don’t know what it is about motherhood that kills your brain cells but from talking to my other friends who’ve had children, it’s definitely a widespread phenomena.

Of course forgetting you made yourself a coffee or forgetting to put salt in the bread dough (not that I’ve ever done this, ahem…) are not exactly life or death examples. When you’re leaving your home country to go and live abroad for a while, maybe forever, things you forget can have more consequences. Forgetting to give notice to your landlord or telling your bank you’ll be out of the country can cause their fair share of headaches (and I’ve had enough experience of trying to call banks from a pay phone in the mountains of Vietnam because none of my cards are working to know this)

I was actually pretty organised when it came to leaving the UK but I think this was because I’d been planning my escape for a long time. If you only have a short time to organise moving to a new country (as is the case with many expats when they’re sent to a new location for a job assignment) and there are kids involved, things get a lot more confusing.

There’s a handy emigration check list infographic on the HiFX blog that includes most of the tasks you’ll need to complete before you leave the country, listed by timeframe – things like redirecting your mail, checking your passport, cancelling insurance and even organising your leaving party! (I remembered mine as you can see from the photo above!) The list starts from 18 months before you leave, which may sound like a long time, but organising these things can take quite a while especially if you have a house to sell. Vaccinations, saving money, rehoming pets all take a long time. Also a personal tip – always allow double the time you think you need for anything to do with visas or passports.

Honestly I don’t think there’s anything major I forgot about when I left (although I did have my parents back home to sort stuff out for me!). If I were to do it again and knew I wasn’t coming back I would definitely have made better arrangements with my bank as I’ve had my cards blocked more times than I can count and I dread to think how much I’ve paid over the years in fees from drawing money on card that aren’t great for using abroad. I’d also sell more stuff – I got rid of a lot of things before I left but I still had a few boxes of precious possessions. Of course 6 years later and I don’t miss anything in those boxes and some of it is worth quite a bit of money (rare playstation games and limited edition prints). Difficult for me to ebay it from 8,000 miles away!

I’m so lucky after I left I never had one of those heart stopping moments when you realise you’ve forgotten something super important – have you?

 

Life Without Facebook

IMG_3593

Can you remember back to a time when we didn’t have social media? or god forbid, we didn’t have the internet at all?! I remember well, back in my teens when internet was on a dialup connection that we paid for by the hour (plus the price of the phone call) and was strictly rationed. Now we’re checking Instagram before we even get out of bed in the morning (or is that just me?)

I’ve never been one of those people who spend all day on Facebook – I found it useful for uploading my photos when I was travelling and updating my friends and family of my whereabouts (because I totally failed at travel blogging) and then of course after I had the kids it was the natural place to upload their photos so everyone so far away could watch them grow up.

In recent years I’ve been using Facebook less and less for these purposes and more as a mindless way of filling in time. I’d get distracted by random Buzzfeed articles (I actually had to temporarily block someone who was posting them constantly as it was ruining my productivity) and I’d use Facebook as a way of procrastinating when i should be working or doing something else.

I’d randomly click onto it without even noticing what I was doing and just keep scrolling and clicking mindlessly. Still I didn’t feel like Facebook was a huge problem until I installed RescueTime and realised just how much time every week I was wasting there.

Still, I tried to limit my time there halfheartedly but didn’t really see it was a huge problem. Facebook fulfils its entertainment and social purposes and there’s nothing wrong with that right?

Then at some point 2 or 3 months ago, I realised that Facebook had become poison for me. There were about 3 separate instances in one day or people saying stupid things that wound me up and sucked me in and made me stressed. I spent 10 minutes crafting a response to one of these people, telling them how wrong they were and then i just thought “what am I doing? why am I bothering wasting my time on this?” So I quit – cold turkey.

This was much easier than I thought – quitting is much easier than trying to limit your time. The first month I was terrified to go on at all and when I accidentally followed a link that ended up on Facebook, I’d click off again quickly. Now I’m a little more relaxed – I’ve checked in occasionally to update my blog page and check a couple of things and it’s clear that the hold on me it once had has gone – I don’t sit there for hours but even after reading for a couple of minutes I can see how easy it would be to get sucked in.

I still don’t feel like this is the ideal solution as I know I’m missing out on news and events – birthdays, babies being born etc. but I still have no wish to even load up the site… I’m thinking I might do a huge cull and block the majority of status updates and then maybe check once a week?

I’m also not eschewing social media entirely – Instagram is my network of choice at the moment, though I browse more than I post. Twitter is too frantic and I don’t really use the others.

How many hours do you use Facebook a week? Try a Facebook fast – the results may surprise you!

Sponsored video – Help a child reach 5

I think this is one of the saddest videos I ever watched:

In most western countries, if a young child dies, it’s a horrific tragedy. In many third world countries, however, watching your child die is just a part of normal life for many people. This video tells the story of Utari, living in a small village in Indonesia where it is tradition to plant a tree when a baby is born. Sadly as so many children die before their 5th birthday, in many cases there is nothing left but the tree.

Worldwide, 5,000 children a day die from infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia. In many cases these deaths could have been prevented with proper hygiene and medical care. Coming to Indonesia from the UK, I was shocked at the lack of education when it comes to basic health care. Even the simplest things can help to prevent a child’s death. For example, when a baby has a fever it’s important to keep them cool but here they think that they should bundle them up and keep them warm – I shudder to think the damage that this misinformation is caused.

Basic hygiene is another huge problem, with very little attention being given to keeping areas like the kitchen and bathroom clean and even something as basic as hand washing. Simply washing hands regularly with soap could help to prevent these diseases that take so many young lives (in case you didn’t know, regular hand washing is the best way to protect yourself from colds and flu).

All that is needed is education. Sadly this is also something that is lacking in many parts of Indonesia. Last year Lifebuoy adopted Thesgora, India, and managed to reduce incidents of diarrhoea from 36% to 5% just by teaching the people about healthy hand washing habits. This year, they are adopting Bitobe, Indonesia so that more children can reach their 5th birthday.

Lifebuoy has committed to improve health by teaching a billion people about the importance of hand washing by 2015. You can read more about their campaign by visiting www.lifebuoy.com or visiting their Facebook page.

This post is sponsored by Lifebuoy, but all thoughts are my own.

How to name a website when you’re stuck for ideas

computerview

Ok so I’ve been rather blog absent lately. More on that soon but for now, a little introduction to a service some of you may be interested in.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have about a million websites. Ok, maybe slight exaggeration but I have a lot. Most of them I don’t use anymore or never got around to using in the first place but I hang onto them all the same. Over the years I’ve named a lot of websites and it’s definitely got a lot harder. For one thing, all the decent .coms seem to be taken now. I also think a lot more about branding, SEO and all of that marketing stuff. it’s definitely not easy coming up with a good website name these days.

I’ve been planning a new website for a while now (a while = years). Now that I’m finally starting to get back to some of my personal projects (more on this later too) I’ve been trying to think of a name. I want to create a blog about play-based learning, parenting and fun activities. Yes I could do that here but I want a separate space that’s not so personal to me. This idea has been milling around my head for ages and there are some great blogs that have been inspiring me (An Everyday Story is one of my favourites). The problem was, i just couldn’t think of a name.

Actually that’s not true, I thought of the perfect name but the .com is taken and I didn’t really want to settle for the .net. In a stroke of serendipity I got an email from Biz Name Wiz, inviting me to try their service. I’d never heard of a business naming service before and was a little skeptical but I decided to give it a whirl.

I must admit, I was very impressed with the ideas that they came up with and there are a few great names I’m still trying to make my mind up between. The whole process was super simple – I just filled out a form describing what i wanted with links to some similar sites (it can be a website name or a business name or even a product). I was then emailed with a few questions to clarify and expand on my original ideas. A couple of days later I had a PDF of 30 names, all with .com domains available sitting in my inbox. It was really quite exciting to see what they’d come up with!

I ordered the basic package, which offers 30 suggestions and there were  probably at least 10 that I would have been happy to use.  If you want more ideas, you can also choose a package with more suggestions and revisions and you can also order a logo design as an add-on package.

You’ll have to wait and see which name I choose in the end but trust me there were some good ones in there! The whole experience was actually a lot of fun and I’m thinking of what else I can name now :p Maybe they’ll expand into baby naming in the future – imagine the possibilities!

So if you’re naming a new website or business and you’re stuck coming up with a name, give Biz Name Wiz a try so you can get on with the actual work that comes with launching something new (er guess I still have to do that bit…)

Setting Up a Business Overseas: What You Need to Know

4427310974_04ea7a9448_o

If you’re planning on moving overseas and setting up your own business, there are a few things that you would need to consider before you make the big move. Here are some actions that were undertaken by those who have successfully opened a business in a foreign country:

Research the Local Business Climate

There are many questions that you would need answered before you would go ahead and move to a foreign country in order to set up a business. The most common ones involve the state of the country’s economy, the ease of setting up and running a business there, the types of businesses that are thriving and currently in high demand, as well as the availability of local labor if you are planning on hiring employees.

By doing a proper amount of research, you should be able to get the required information about doing business in your selected country.

Look Up the Migration and Residency Formalities that Apply to You

Many countries in the world welcome foreign investors and business owners with open arms. However, the specific rules and regulations will vary from one country to the next. In some places, simply having the intention to open up a business would qualify you and your immediate family for a residency permit. In other countries, you would need to invest an amount that is over a specified sum, provide employment for a certain amount of locals, or open a business in a qualifying industry, like the tourism or manufacturing sectors.

Migration agents can help you here by providing reliable and up-to-date information on moving to your desired country as a foreign businessperson.

Find Relevant Success Stories

Unless you have a business plan that is extremely unique, chances are that somebody else has had ideas that were similar to yours. Go online to look up success stories of people who have set up an overseas business in your industry type within the country of your choice.

This would give you some important clues as to what they have done to become a success. Also, you can learn from the mistakes that they’ve made, thus giving you the opportunity to avoid them.

Think About Your Future Moves

Once you have established yourself and your business in a foreign country, you should plan for the road ahead. Be mindful that no matter where you are in the world, economic conditions and the overall business climate in your industry can change over time. But this is not always a negative thing. In fact, new business opportunities could appear which would allow you to either expand your current business, or open up a completely new one in another industry sector. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, you would simply need to be aware of business trends in your new country of residence.

If you don’t have prior overseas business experience, setting up a new business in a foreign country may appear to be a difficult task at first. But if you do your research properly and enlist the help of qualified people such as migration agents, you can make the process much easier for you and also increase your chances of success significantly.

image credit: opensource.com

Belfast for Children

SONY DSC

Belfast offers a wealth of attractions and events for children. Book one of the hotels in Belfast city centre and you’ll have an excellent base from which to explore the city and the surrounding area. Some great attractions to enjoy with children are:

Titanic Belfast

The world’s largest exhibition dedicated to The Titanic. Here you’ll be transported back in time to the largest shipyard in the world, see where Titanic was built and walk among life size replica parts of this gigantic ship. You’ll hear tales of heroism, learn about the lives of the individuals who were on the ill fated ship on its maiden and only voyage into the Atlantic and see artefacts recovered from the ship. It’s an interactive feast for the senses children of all ages will enjoy.

W5 at Odyssey

W5 is an interactive science and discovery centre packed full of over 250 exhibits, all of which you experience hands on. Featuring four worlds, ‘Start’ for under eights, which showcases a customisable mini in the garage, ball cannons in the water world and much more. ‘Go’ features exhibits exploring health, hygiene, genetics and forces – with the opportunity to build and race your own K’nex car, make magnets and have a go on pulley chairs. ‘See’ features exhibits focussed on biodiversity and creativity – you can try your hand at making a cartoon or edit a newspaper. The last world is ‘Do’ and here you’ll bring robots to life, become a weather person and design a wind turbine. It really is a wonderful place to explore and one that will keep children happy for hours.

Belfast has a fantastic array of children’s activities and attractions to enjoy, from the zoo to bowling alleys, museums and heritage sites. It’s a great city to visit with the family, so don’t delay, book your Belfast holiday today.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...