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Get the MUC-OFF

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  • September 20, 2018
Muc-OFF Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit

Muc-Off 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit

When Keeping Your Ride Fresh and Clean Is An Obsession

Muc-OFF 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit Review
Muc-OFF Tool Kit is an extraordinary gift for yourself and your friends and family.
Imagine the dirt and grime that collects on your bike following an afternoon of forging new trails. This year will go down in the record books as the rainiest year in the Northeast, and after only two days of mountain biking through the woods, my mountain bike was covered with mud and debris. One summer afternoon, my son and his friend, J.J. took off on an adventure with our family’s mountain bikes.
Muc-OFF 8 IN 1 Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit
A mountain bike can lead you to a pristine stream through mud and grime that can wreak havoc on your bike’s frame and moving parts. Photo by J.J., my son’s friend.
Yoshi wanted to treat J.J. to a mid-afternoon swim in a nearby stream.  To get there, they accessed the swimming hole through a cornfield. It’s a country summer scene that’s right out of a watercolor painting — rows of stalks with corn ready to be picked surrounded by mature trees, a deep pool of refreshingly cool water, and a century-old train Tressel.
Muc-OFF 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit Review
This is a PERFECT gift for a cyclist who has everything.
Once the weather allows, Yoshi will have an opportunity to test Muc-OFF on his mountain bike. 
The Muc-Off 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit is the perfect treatment for bike aficionados to show their two-wheeled treasures some love.  Thanks to the Muc-OFF developers, cyclists can access the most FANTASTIC cleaning kit (I’ve seen anywhere) in the drop of a hat. The packaging alone is a statement about the product’s brand authenticity. What’s inside the toolkit? You’ll find a Nano Tech Bike Cleaner, Expanding Microcell Sponge, Soft Washing Brush, Detailing Brush, Claw Brush, Two Prong Brush, Bike Spray, and Storage Tub. Yes, that’s correct. You can rest assured this kit has pretty much everything you’ll need to keep your bike in tip-top shape.

Muc-OFF 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit
This kit has everything you’ll need.

Tackle the trickiest bike cleaning issues from stains to caked-on dirt and grime lodged into difficult to reach nooks and crannies.  Tires and spokes will look new, too. Teach your young adult kids to care for their bicycles.

Muc-OFF 8 in 1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit
The assortment of brushes and tools allow you to access difficult to reach nooks and crannies.

Muc-OFF is the answer to your dilemma – what to buy the bike enthusiast for special occasions. Who wouldn’t want to have a portable, attractive, and functional all-in-one kit? You can also purchase refills and restock your toolkit as needed.


  • Nano Tech Bike Cleaner for quick and easy cleaning.
  • Four Muc-Off brushes and a microcell sponge for deep cleaning all the nooks and crannies
  • Bike Spray for post-wash protection against rust and corrosion.
  • Storage tub doubles as wash basin
  • The MSRP is $69.99.

Learn more about Muc-OFF here.

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biology programs and events Connecticut conservation Connecticut hunting and fishing Conservation programs Lifestyle Visit Connecticut wildlife programs

Discover Outdoor Connecticut

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  • September 17, 2018
Discover Outdoor Connecticult
DEEP Discover Outdoor Connecticut 2018
“Join the Force for the Resource” is the theme for the Discover Outdoor Connecticut, a free event sponsored by the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources. The family program will be held Sat., Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scroll down for the time, location, or directions. 

Discover Outdoor Connecticut

“Join the Force for the Resource”

A Fun-Filled Family Event

Education and conservation preserve Connecticut's natural resources
The goal for the Discover Outdoor Connecticut free family program is to educate and encourage young and old alike to experience Connecticut’s year-round natural resources. Fly tying is one of the instructional activities planned for the event.

Discover Outdoor Connecticut got its start in 2010 as “Hunting and Fishing Appreciation Day,” as a way to thank hunters and anglers for their roles as the key players in the conservation movement for more than 100 years.

Andrew Labonte, Discover Outdoor Connecticut chairman and wildlife biologist, said “The hunters and anglers showed their support by requesting taxes and special fees on hunting and fishing equipment to help pay for wildlife and fish management, habitat restoration, and other conservation programs through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program.”

The event was renamed “Discover Outdoor Connecticut: Join the Force for the Resource” to reflect the DEEP’s goal to expand the program’s offerings to include a wider variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Join the Connecticut Bureau of Natural Resources, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Wildlife Division and their guests on Sat., Sept. 22,  2018, at the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area, 391 Route 32, North Franklin, CT for a fun-filled exploration of Connecticut’s fish and wildlife resources and the state’s legacy of outdoor traditions. 

Andrew provides more details about the event in an exclusive interview.

What role do you have in Discover Outdoor Connecticut?

I am the chairman of the event, responsible for contacting potential vendors and attendees, organizing and running monthly meetings, activities, and events, creating maps and brochures, and making sure things run smoothly on the day of the event.

What brought about this event and how many years has your organization offered this free program?

It was our goal this year to expand the event to include a wider variety of outdoor enthusiasts, and therefore we renamed the event “Discover Outdoor Connecticut: Join the Force for the Resource.”  Joining in the celebration of this year’s event are DEEP’s Air Management, Parks and Public Outreach, Wildlife, Fisheries, Habitat, Forestry, and the Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Divisions, as well as many others, such as  private hunting and fishing clubs, environmental education centers, foundations, and conservancies.

Discover Outdoor Connecticut
Children will have an opportunity to try their hands at crafts. “Build a Bluebird Nest Box” is one of the activities planned.

What is the ultimate goal i.e. resource conservation and preservation?

The ultimate goal is to expose as many youths and adults as possible to some type of outdoor related activity and raise awareness about resource conservation and preservation.  Hunters and anglers have been the primary source of funding for state fish and wildlife agencies to manage and conserve fish and wildlife populations and also purchase wildlife habitat for protection.  The management efforts that benefit Connecticut’s natural resources not only include fish and wildlife, but the air, land, water, and woods in which those animals live.  Funding to support our natural resources shouldn’t just come from hunters and anglers, but from all residents, particularly those who enjoy the outdoors. By introducing Connecticut residents to our state’s diverse natural areas and the fish and wildlife that live there, it is hoped they develop an appreciation and a sense of stewardship. Additionally, time spent outdoors benefits both our physical and mental health. Reconnecting people with nature is tremendously important.

What can attendees expect to find at the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area?

The Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area consists of a 300-acre property open to all types of hunting including small game, waterfowl, pheasants and deer and includes a facility housing biologists with the Deer, Turkey, Migratory Bird, and Mosquito and Wetland Restoration Programs as well as a training area for conservation education programs.  On September 22, the facility will hold the Discover Outdoor Connecticut event which will include activities such as dog and raptor demonstrations of various sorts, milling and trapping demonstrations, opportunities to try turkey and moose calling, locally made venison products, kayaking, fly tying and casting, archery and firearms shooting, bb and dart gun shooting, and opportunities to gain knowledge in hiking, backpacking, knot tying, water filtration, wild edibles, bees and insects, and much, much more.

Discover Outdoor Connecticut
Looking for a relaxing way to spend your Saturday? Fly Tying, Archery, Decoy Painting, Birdhouse Building, and K-9 Search and Rescue are a few of the activities and educational offerings planned for the Discover Outdoor Connecticut program on Sat., Sept. 22, 2018.

What are a few of Connecticut’s most endangered species and/or resources and how do you address those issues at the program and throughout the year?

Connecticut’s most endangered species include meadowlarks, timber rattlesnake, cave-roosting bats like the little brown bat, and many other birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates like monarch butterflies, and fish like the Atlantic sturgeon. We provide a variety of information about both rare and common wildlife at the event. We will also have live raptor demonstrations, which will touch upon the threats these birds have faced as well as some conservation successes. Throughout the year, the Wildlife Division’s Wildlife Diversity Program biologists focus on the management and research of a large number of species of greatest conservation need which range from charismatic species such as bald eagles and box turtles to secretive species such as red bats and bog lemmings to critically endangered species such as barn owls and bog turtles, and more. The Division’s Outreach Program works to inform Connecticut residents about the plight of these species and what people can do to help.

Describe past programs and how they’ve helped to bring awareness to Connecticut’s natural resources.

Past events held by the Wildlife Division, whether they were public programs at our Sessions Woods Conservation Education Center or larger events like Hunting and Fishing Appreciation Day or the recent Bat Appreciation Day at Old New-Gate Prison, have engaged the public and offered information and hands-on experiences related to fish, wildlife, and our state’s natural resources. These programs have not only increased awareness of our agency’s role in caring for and managing wildlife and habitats, but they have helped build an understanding of the value and importance of wildlife, fish, and natural resources. They also highlight how effective we can be at conservation when we work together.

Who should attend the Discover Outdoor Connecticut event? What is the age range of attendees you’d like to see?

Anyone who has at least a passing interest in the environment around them should come to enjoy what the day has to offer.  It’s not something you can experience virtually through your smartphone or tablet. Nothing can replace the first-hand experience in the outdoors—from newcomer to novice, young or old—Discover Outdoor Connecticut day has something for everyone.  The sooner a person is exposed to the outdoors and all the amazing things it has to offer, the sooner they learn to appreciate where they live and how it should be respected.  There simply are no apps for that.

How have your sponsors embraced the DEEP program? What will they bring to the Discover Outdoor Connecticut?

Since its inception, the event has had the tremendous support that has continued through the years.  Local sportsman’s clubs and conservation groups have been long-time participants at the events bringing their support, local knowledge, and expertise. Local chapters of the Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited also support the event along with national retailers such as Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, L.L. Bean, Mossberg, and Home Depot, who not only bring volunteers with additional skills and knowledge, but also provide generous donations for door prizes that contribute greatly to the enjoyment of those who attend.

Typically, how many photo entries do you receive for the photo contest? What are some of THE MOST intriguing, creative, and captivating? How is the winner(s) recognized for his/her efforts?

This is our first year holding a photo contest and we have received over 300 entries. Ribbons and prizes (gift cards) were donated by the Friends of Sessions Woods, which has been instrumental in supporting many of our educational programs and exhibits. Anyone who wants to see the most intriguing, creative, and captivating photos should attend Discover Outdoor Connecticut Day, where they can sample some tasty venison samples prepared by Adolf’s Meats of East Hartford all while viewing the photos in person. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite photo, which will be awarded as the “People’s Choice” during the event. The contest winners will be recognized in future outreach efforts such as Connecticut Wildlife magazine.

Do you require preregistration or are drop-ins welcome?

Preregistration is not required and we very much welcome folks to simply drop in and spend as much time outdoors with us as they can.

Do you have in-house instructors teaching the various activities?

All of the shooting activities would not be possible if it wasn’t for a large group of volunteer instructors with our Conservation Education and Firearms Safety program who teach both firearms and archery skills.  In addition, staff and volunteers with expertise in fisheries, wildlife, trapping, forestry, boating safety, outdoor education, and with working dogs of various types, all play a critical role in sharing their knowledge about our environment.

Please name a few of the year-round outdoor activities available to Connecticut residents and visitors.

Visitors to the Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area and Conservation Education Center in Burlington can attend monthly educational programs and also tour the exhibit area and interpretive trails. The Division’s Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program offers courses in firearms, archery, and trapping, as well as advanced hunter education seminars and events for junior hunters. The Fisheries Division’s CARE (Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education) Program offers free fishing classes, including ice fishing classes, as well as learn to fish events throughout the year. A number of our wildlife management areas also offer great opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature photography. We also partner with other DEEP Divisions offering programs such as “No Child Left Inside® Great Park Pursuit”, nature centers such as Kellogg and Meigs Point, and many other conservation partners to provide natural resource programs and activities statewide. The best way to learn about some of these activities and events is to check the DEEP website (, as well as the Wildlife ( and Fisheries ( sections of the website. Sign up to receive free monthly electronic newsletters: Wildlife Highlights ( and CT Fishin’ Tips ( and follow us on Facebook (  You may even want to get a subscription to the official bi-monthly publication of the DEEP, Bureau of Natural Resources, “Connecticut Wildlife.

If you go, you’ll find directions to the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area, 391 Route 32, North Franklin (here) Parking will be on-site.
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Fashion Fashion Shows Lifestyle New York City Fashion Shows Travel Fashion

Style Fashion Week New York

  • By
  • September 16, 2018
Style Fashion Week New York Recap
Style Fashion Week 2018
Style Fashion Week New York featured world-class fashion and show-stopper performances and installations.

Style Fashion Week New York

Awe-Inspiring Fashion, Art, and Culture

Are you wondering what you missed during Style Fashion Week New York?

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend this year’s fall show Sept. 6 to 8 (due to unforeseen circumstances) but I don’t want my readers to miss a beat from the runway. The event featured the New York fashion scene at its finest with a full-scale style marketplace that submerges guests in the three areas they expect to see in New York: fashion, design, and art. Consumers also had a chance to mingle with brands and learn more about their designs.

What to wear for your next travel adventure is one of the dilemmas resolved, in my opinion, after I saw the photos of the styles presented on the runway. The options are limitless. Find your inspiration in the recap photos from Style Fashion Week New York organizers.

Style Fashion Week represents and integrates the diverse cultures of the world’s top fashion hubs: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Palm Springs, and Dubai with the finest in international designers, media, and celebrities. Season after season, fashion week producers reinvent their shows so there’s never a dull moment on and off the runway.

Day One

Designers, Romeo + Juliet Couture, David Tupaz, Richard Hallmarq, Bahmardi, Shay Kawaii and Adrian Alicia showcased SS’19 designs at the Manhattan Center on Day One, Sept. 6. Heather LaRose, Natalya and Naima performed courtesy of Vezt Music App and the models were beautified by Davines. 

Style Fashion Week New York
Choose these favorite styles and colors by designers, Romeo + Juliet, David Tupaz, Richard Hallmarq, Bahmardi, Shay Kawaii, and Adrian Alicia shown in this photo and combine them to create knock-out looks.

Day Two

Day two featured New York, designers, Matte Brand, Sweet Talk Swim, Adriana Sahar, Raul Penarada, Hirun Bangkok, Elie Madi and Rocky Gathercole. They showcased SS’19 designs at the Manhattan Center on Sept. 7.

Attendees and the media enjoyed performances by Chloe Maggs and Leah Kate presented by Vezt Music App. No one worried about dehydration under the lights. Essentia Water kept attendees, models, and designers hydrated throughout the night. Tipsy Girl Wines made viewing the season’s hottest fashions even more relaxing.

Can you imagine the excitement of seeing the designers’ latest collections as the models took to the stage? What’s a fashion show without an extraordinary backdrop? The decor was provided by Jimmy DeLaurentis. Sitting front row was Ming Lee Simmons, Diggy Simmons, Julz Goddard (YesJulz), WolfTyla,  Sihoban Bell,  Deborah Cox, and others.

Style Fashion Week New York
Style Fashion Week produces world-renown fashion events that highlight the top designers and their collections.

Day Three

On day three of Style Fashion Week New York, designers, Marco Marco, FUNARI New York, Ydamys Simo, Emma Altman, BBTC / Love Baby J, Chick, Father Akki and Smock Me showcased SS’19 designs at the Manhattan Center. Vezt Music App presented performances by Chloe Maggs.

For three nights in a row, Essentia Water and Tipsy Girl Wines kept attendees, models, and designers hydrated throughout the night. The models received first-class beauty treatments by Davines.  Jimmy DeLaurentis provided the decor.

If you missed Style Fashion Week New York, plan on attending one of the upcoming events in the following cities: 

February | New York Fashion Week | Style Fashion Week

March | Los Angeles Fashion Week | Style Fashion Week

April | Palm Springs Fashion Week | Style Fashion Week

April | Coachella Festival | Dusk Till Dawn

August | Hamptons Summer Series | Style Artist Lounge

September | New York Fashion Week | Style Fashion Week

October | Los Angeles Fashion Week | Style Fashion Week

December | Art Basel Miami | Style Artist Lounge

More From The Style Fashion Week Producers

Style Fashion Week helps to share the cost of these major productions—providing designers the platform to display their work on the same level as their luxury competitors. Style Fashion Week recognizes that these designers are a vital piece of the fashion community and will continue to work to support them.

If you’d like additional information about the designers, performers, or beauty products featured at Style Fashion Week New York, contact 

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Art and Culture Fishing Destinations Food and Travel Lifestyle Pocono Mountain Resort Pocono Mountain Retreats Travel and Leisure

Family Engagement the Focus at Fernwood

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  • September 7, 2018
Fernwood Resort Lodging
If the kids are happy, mom and dad are typically more relaxed. Fernwood’s lodging offers guests spacious accommodations that exceed a small or large family’s needs.

Fernwood Resort: Creating Year-Round Family Experiences

Family Engagement the Focus at Fernwood

Family fun…Have you taken the time to create lasting memories with your family? You likely won’t hear any complaints of boredom from your kids or partner while you’re vacationing at Fernwood. The resort is surrounded by woods in a peaceful setting that’s ideal for hiking, foraging among the trees, or participation in a variety of activities.

Creating an experience that’s all-encompassing for families and guests of all ages is one of the challenges Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort co-owner, embraces.

Gina Bertucci
Gina Bertucci, co-owner, Fernwood Resort

With more than 18,000 member families, Fernwood Resort and the Villas at Tree Tops & Fairway®, 2157 River Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA, is part of RCI and is one of the largest vacation ownership properties in the Mid-Atlantic region with 650 beautifully-appointed villas.

“We have both timeshares and rentals so we’re a mixed-use property,” Bertucci explained. Lodging options range from one-to-four bedrooms with accommodations for every taste, with a home-like feeling and amenities from simple and economical to deluxe and spacious.

When you’re ready to venture out onto the property, you’ll also see why Fernwood has received “green” awards.

According to Bertucci, “As a business, when we were looking at how to develop these pieces of property, what did we do?”

The Pocono TreeVentures and zip line courses are examples of the extraordinary measures Bertucci and her partners have taken to preserve the beauty and nature on the property.


The Matsui family receives instruction before beginning the Pocono TreeVentures course. Photo submitted by Fernwood Resort.

“We looked at ways to preserve this property. There’s a stream that goes through it, but really when you’re up in the trees, you really do appreciate the nature and the beauty of this region.”

Everywhere you turn at Fernwood, there’s an activity that encourages family engagement. A few of the free on-site activities are swimming and weekly pool parties, summer family movie nights, picnics and BBQ nights. At an additional cost, try horseback riding at Bushkill Stables, Pocono TreeVentures Ropes and Zipline courses, Blue and White Lightning Tubing and Paintball. Visit Fernwood Resort’s website for prices and hours of operation.


Kento Matsui enjoys an afternoon of swimming at Fernwood Resort’s outdoor pool.



Family Resorts
Discover the countryside surrounding Fernwood Resort. You can explore on foot or by horseback at Bushkill Riding Stables. Reserve your horse and saddle by clicking here

Approximately 17 years ago, Bertucci and other businesses affiliated with the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau got together to answer the question, how can we continue to showcase the Poconos as a region to explore and enjoy, and at the same time, preserve its natural beauty?

The Fernwood partners, for example, utilized approximately 10 acres of gorgeous farmland for the TreeVentures and Zip Line courses.

“It’s beautiful and challenging and when you’re finished, you think I just did something and it’s great exercise. It’s about authenticity,” commented Bertucci. “And not everyone has had a chance to try horseback riding? For other people, it’s shopping at the Crossings (Premium Outlets), canoeing on the Delaware River, bike riding, seeing nearby Bushkill Falls or following a lovely natural walking path at the 77,000-acre at the Delaware Water Gap National Historic site.”


What’s our recommendation for off-site family engagement?

Don’t leave the Poconos without a stop at Bushkill Falls, known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania.” With each season the landscape changes, providing a unique experience each time you visit. We suggest you reserve a half-day for your adventure.


Preservation of our natural scenic wonders is top-priority for Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort, representatives from other businesses and resorts and members of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. Visit Bushkill Falls but please follow the rules as shown above. Observe and appreciate but hands-off plants and wildlife.

Bushkill Falls is host to many family adventures, schools, and group tours, weddings and is a fantastic photo op. I guarantee you will get your workout while on your trek up and down the steps leading to and from the basin. Grab a bite to eat at the snack bar and then stock-up on keepsakes and souvenirs at the gift shop.



When you need to cool off on a warm summer day, you will appreciate the cool mist of water from the cascading falls and the shady areas provided along the trail leading to the basin.

 Bushkill Falls is the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”

Why should you plan a trip to the Pocono Mountains’ region?

As the nights turn chillier and the leaves that adorn the trees of the Pocono Mountains fall to the ground and create a gentle blanket of vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, celebrate fall by tuning into the sounds of freshly fallen leaves underfoot. Celebrate the four seasons in the Pocono Mountains.

“There’s something for everyone in the Pocono Mountains. It’s all here and that’s fortunate for us. Family time is part of the fabric of our lives. You remember those moments together.” Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort.


My stay at Fernwood Resort was comped but my opinions are my own.







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Georgia tourism Lifestyle Travel Advice Visit Georgia Where is Georgia located? World Travel World Travel Trends

7 Reasons You Should Never Visit Georgia (the country)

  • By
  • September 4, 2018
7 Reasons You Should Visit Georgia
7 Reasons You Should Visit Georgia
What have you heard about Georgia, a country at the intersection of Asia and Europe? Wondering what to expect? Read on and get the details from guest blogger, Natalie Young.

7 Reasons You Should Never Visit Georgia (the Country)

Text by Natalie Young of Smart Lemur

Edited by Joan Mead-Matsui, Publisher 

What have you heard about Georgia, a country at the intersection of Asia and Europe? We went there, and have some advice for you – the culture, landscapes, food, wine, the people – it all might be a little too overwhelming. So you should think carefully before going. To help you, we have 7 reasons why you should never visit Georgia.

Anyone who wants too much of a good thing Read on…

  1. Its cuisine will make you feel bad… 

… about overeating so much. Traditional dishes such as khinkali, khachapuri or pschali are made from locally sourced ingredients and usually cooked in wood-fired ovens. You will soon notice that Georgians enjoy long feast-like dinners and are happy to share them with visitors of their country.

  1. The landscapes are a bit too much 

Georgian landscapes may cause you problems when you will be telling your friends back home of what you’ve seen during the trip. In an area smaller than 70 thousand square km, you will see terrains of all kinds: snowy mountains, sandy beaches, desert-like flatlands, rocky hills and lush forests.

  1. Georgians won’t let you relax… 

..or get lost. Due to the long history of wars, the Georgian nation is known for its hot temper, yet this goes together with extreme hospitality. Once you enter Georgia, you will feel as if you’re visiting your old friends – Georgians will greet you, make you feel at home and will bathe you in recommendations. You do not need to worry about getting lost in the country either- and even if you do end up lost on your road trip, you will eventually find yourself having dinner with Georgian families in the countryside. Of course, if you prefer to get stressed during your vacation and don’t want to make new friends, you should not go to Georgia.

  1. The weather 

If you’re planning to make a trip around Georgia, you will have to prepare for surprises. In one trip you can visit the Red Sea coast and spend the whole day sunbathing, and on the next day climb the snowy peak of Kazbek, later returning to sunny Tbilisi or heading for a refreshing stay in Borjomi. On the other hand, if you are a fan of dull, rainy afternoons, Georgia might not be the place for you.

  1. Wine 

Sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t find French wine in Georgia. That’s because Georgians take pride in their vineries that are some of the oldest in the world. Georgian winemaking traditions that date back to Neolithic period are internationally recognized and appreciated: Georgian winemaking method using clay pots is even included in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

  1. Urban culture 

You are probably visiting Georgia for its amazing nature, right? If you are not into the art scene and are not a fan of discovering peculiar cultural things, don’t go to Tbilisi. Yet, we believe it’s almost impossible to skip the country’s capital with a population over 1 million of people and a forward-looking scene of arts and culture. Visit Bassiani club, Fabrika or Tbilisi flea market, and you will soon notice that the city is much more than the beautiful architecture and fancy restaurants.

  1. Georgia is unpredictable 

Things you don’t expect to see while visiting Georgia: waterfall in the middle of Tbilisi old town, the remains of Soviet military bases, a funicular in the inner yard of a building on one of the main streets of the capital, a monastery on a tall rock (The Katskhi Pillar monastery in Chiatura), moving statues (on the boulevard in Batumi)… yet, you’re most likely to see most of these and even more.

For more advice about Georgia, please visit Smart Lemur site.


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Hiking and travel gear Lifestyle

A Travel Hack I Can’t Live Without

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  • August 29, 2018

Clakit is an outdoor hack I can’t live without.

If you’re heading into the woods with a long hike planned or you’re embarking on a weekend road trip, Clakit will be your catch-all for items you’d normally stuff into your pockets or backpack. Larry Schessel, Clakit founder, sent a sample to me last year and I have used the pouch on mostly every occasion where I’m required to carry essential items with me. It’s also ideal for dog walking, particularly because our German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute “Bear” is one of the strongest dogs I’ve known and I need to keep both hands on his leash. 

Clakit, Inc. pouches 

The possibilities are endless

Two of my favorite outdoor recreational activities are hiking and fly fishing. Some days, I don’t want to lug a heavy backpack or fishing vest. The Clakit strap and pouch are extremely comfortable and convenient for both applications.  

Are you tired of rummaging through your backpack in search of that one item you need?

Larry Schessel, Clakit founder, isn’t downplaying the importance of backpacks. He’s an avid hiker and traveler and while knapsacks serve a purpose, Schessel says, 
“They (backpacks) are great for carrying things on your back. But they are inconvenient for accessing gear you often need, like your smartphone for pictures, water and snacks.”
Carry your cell phone and other important items “under your nose.” ClakIt travel pouch will securely hold your smartphone, money, passport, etc.

The idea for Clakit was born while Schessel was hiking in the California mountains. Getting his hands on items he needed from his backpack was a laborious task.

“Every time we needed something we had to stop, take off our backpacks, search for the item and repack – whether water, smartphone, map, wallet, snack or permits,” Schessel noted.

Backpack storage problems Solved

Schessel designed The StrapPackTM by Clakit to solve his backpack storage problems by allowing easy access to valuables. Secure yet accessible pouches easily clip to your backpack’s front shoulder straps, so you can safely stash your belongings within sight and reduce the risk of theft. For folks who don’t want to wear a backpack, Schessel offers the Clakit Strap System ($14.95). Patented nylon clips secure the pouches to the strap system for a lightweight alternative to a pack.
Accessories available are the Smartphone Pouch Bundle ($19.95), Pocket Pouch Bundle ($14.95), Water Bottle Pouch Bundle ($14.95), Adjustable Utility Pouch Bundle ($19.95) and Two-Zipper Pouch and Clip Bundle ($19.95) and the Water Bottle Pouch Bundle ($19.95). The options are endless and the price is very reasonable and affordable.
I’ve sampled the Clakit strap system, clip and the Smartphone Pouch Bundle while walking our recently rescued Alaskan Malamute/German Shepherd pup. We take one to two-mile walks almost every day and as you can well imagine, he’s very energetic and strong. I was at a loss for a safe, convenient pouch or fanny pack to carry my cell phone and keys. The Smartphone Pouch saved the day.

Ideal for your commute and travel adventures 

Keep your valuables “under your nose” while commuting or traveling. StrapPackTM pouches allow you to have eyes on your belongings and help to prevent theft.

Schessel says, “Storing gear on the front pack straps just makes more sense.”

Clakit is available on Amazon or at
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10 Top Lunch Box Hacks

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  • August 23, 2018
Hormel Top 10 Lunchbox Hacks


Hormel Top 10 Lunchbox Hacks
“Wholly Guac” is one of the Top 10 Lunchbox Hacks for back-to-school. Photo courtesy of Hormel Foods.

Do your lunches run out of steam a week or two into the school year? If so, you’re not alone. We quickly learn when our children are pleased with the lunches we’ve packed.

When my oldest son was a high school sophomore, a squirrel gave away my son’s deep, dark lunch secret. He (the squirrel) emerged from under our deck with a full bologna sandwich in its mouth. Apparently, my son chucked the sandwich under the deck upon his return from school. The squirrel was quite pleased with his afternoon snack, but I was not.

Create Simple, Wholesome Lunches

Tanya Rodriguez, Hormel Foods cultural anthropologist, said consumers frequently ask her for simple, wholesome lunch ideas.

“I spend a lot of time inside the homes of families all over the country,” Rodriguez said.

Her list of hacks will not only make lunch fun for kids. Even the youngest and pickiest palettes will appreciate tasting a new variety of foods and flavors.

As kids across the country start heading back to school for the upcoming school year, Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE: HRL), is providing its top “lunch box hacks” of the year to help simplify weekly school lunch and snack time preparation, all while adding some fun surprises when students open their lunch bags. As a travel writer, these ideas are also perfect for feeding your children’s hunger pangs while traveling.

The following list of “lunchbox hacks” has been tested by the company’s culinary experts who developed these fun and stress-free lunches using tasty options.

Lunch Box Hacks

  1. Use a paper straw for a fun twist on a sandwich. Cut meat, cheese, and bread into fun shapes with cookie cutters and slide the shapes onto the straw.
  2. Use waffles, pancakes or bagels instead of bread for a nice change of pace.
  3. Use a frozen Wholly Guacamole® mini as an ice pack to keep your lunch cold. It will be thawed by lunchtime and you can dip your veggies or chips in the guacamole.
  4. Cut large CHI-CHI’S® flour tortillas with a small cookie cutter round to make mini tacos and then use silicone muffin liners to create a build your own taco bar.
  5. Place guacamole, salsa or peanut butter in the bottom of a jar, add veggies and cover with jar lid to save on containers.
  6. For PB&J sandwiches, put the peanut butter on both slices of bread. It keeps the jelly from seeping into the bread of the sandwich and getting soggy by lunchtime. Or for a fun twist on the PB&J, check out the new SKIPPY® P.B. Fruit Bites.
  7. Use muffin liners to keep foods separate in lunch boxes. Silicone muffin liners work especially well.
  8. Wrap a cheese stick with meat and a tortilla then slice it for a new twist on a sandwich.
  9. Build a salad in a disposable beverage glass. Place a fork through the cut out in the lid for a salad on the go.
  10. Write secret messages on bananas. Use a toothpick to write the message like I heart U or U R Beautiful or U R GR8.

What’s great about these lunchbox hacks is parents and kids can prepare the lunches together with everyday items found in most homes and add a wide variety of Hormel Foods brands to the mix. 

ABOUT HORMEL FOODS — Inspired People. Inspired Food.™

Hormel Foods Corporation is a global-branded food company based in Austin, Minn. The company has over $9 billion in annual revenues across more than 80 countries worldwide and its brands include these well-known names: SKIPPY®, SPAM®, Hormel® Natural Choice®, Applegate®, Justin’s®, Wholly Guacamole®, Hormel® Black Label®, Columbus ®. Hormel is a member of the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats and was named one of “The 100 Best Corporate Citizens” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine for the 10th year in a row. Numerous other awards and accolades for its corporate responsibility and community service efforts reflect the company’s commitment to producing quality foods. In 2016, Hormel celebrated its 125th anniversary and announced its new vision for the future — Inspired People. Inspired Food.™ — focusing on its legacy of innovation. For more information, visit

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Artist to Travel Writer

  • By
  • August 22, 2018


I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and you’ve found some time to relax. We’ve had an uncharacteristically rainy summer here in Pennsylvania, which put a damper on my plans to hike, fly fish, and be outdoors every day. The rain has brought flooding to Northeastern PA and mud – lots of mud.

I’ll be taking a few days off through next week to spend time with my family. My brief vacation doesn’t mean you’ll be without quality content and as always, an opportunity to reach out to me.

My subscriber list has grown leaps and bounds this year to a point where I know you must be enjoying my content. I’d love to know why you’ve chosen to follow my website. What types of posts would you like to see on What’s your favorite post on my website? Please send details to me using the contact form below so I can continue to share with you the information that prompted you to click subscribe.

By now, my subscribers have come to know me as an environmentalist, nature and beach enthusiast, food aficionado, freelance fine artist (for more than 25 years) and oh, yes, an avid fly angler.

Where will my vacation take me next week? Fly fishing and spending time with my family are definitely at the top of my list.

How do you define the perfect vacation?

Joan Matsui Artist and Travel Writer
I’ve learned to fly fish with my friend, Rosangela.

How did I get tangled up in fly fishing?

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)

I grew up the youngest of three children with male siblings. Living in a male-dominated family might have had something to do with that evolution. As a child, I watched my father pack his fishing box in the trunk and head out to fish when he needed some alone time, and in later years, my brothers’ tales of fishing with my father continued to pique my curiosity. Did my father take me fishing? I don’t recall fishing with him, EVER. I can only assume he didn’t think I had an interest. Ah, but I did. In fact, I fished with bait until about six years ago when my friend (an active Trout Unlimited member encouraged me to take a fly fishing class at our local Orvis affiliate. I fish whenever I have spare time and I can sneak off to one of my fishing holes. But there is more to my life than fly fishing (although many travel assignments involve fishing).

Artist and Travel Writer

Joan Matsui Travel Writer Artist
I captured my son scooping fish from a nearby lake with a small butterfly net.

Chigirie is the Japanese art of tearing paper to create a collage. In short, it’s painting with paper and a centuries-old art form. I’ve owned the domain name for 24 years and my web developer recently redesigned the site so I can offer art classes. Click the link and learn more about chigirie.

In a few weeks, I’ll be in touch with an offer to pre-order my eBook. I’ll save the title and genre details for an upcoming post. My aim is to publish mid-September in time for you to curl up on the couch on the chillier nights ahead.

Cheers to the remaining days of summer.

Best Regards,

Joan Mead-Matsui





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smartphone travel photography Travel and Leisure Travel Photography

World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

  • By
  • August 19, 2018
World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

Focus on World Photography Day

Celebrate the Simplicity of Smartphone Photography

World Photography Day celebrate smartphone photography
How could I improve this smartphone photo if I were to take it again? Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui, freelance travel writer and photographer, along the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Carbondale to Simpson heritage trail.

Do you plan to take your camera out in the woods to shoot nature photos or are you packing for your next travel adventure?

As simple as smartphones are to use, there are what we commonly refer to as “hacks” or techniques that can turn a so-so photo into one you probably won’t believe was shot with your smartphone. Image quality varies from phone to phone but it’s safe to say the image quality has improved with each new model.

You’ve likely seen a photo in your own library that could be improved with a few tweaks. I certainly have and as much as photography is second nature to me after nearly 45 years with a camera in my hands, take a few minutes to learn some tips from Panchali Dey|Times Travel Editor|TRAVEL TRENDS, WORLD. 

World Photography Day—here are some tips for smartphone travel photography

A traveller by choice, Panchali from the North East India finds mountain echoes calling back again and again.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words,’ which simply means a picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s scenario, we can’t just agree more. We all are photographers to […]

Today’s social media is an example to this. The platforms enable even an amateur to grab eyeballs and enjoy some instant fame. Now, if you are not aware of white balance and shutter speed, that does not just mean that your pictures won’t be great. At times ‘fluke’ too can work wonders and take you places; the only important thing is―never stop trying.

And to give wings to your passions, your smartphone will serve your purpose, it is better than you think. This article will be focussing on two things, travel and photography. So, here comes some tips to take better travel photos with your smartphones, which will help you improve your result dramatically. And the timing cannot be more appropriate than World Photography Day, which is celebrated on August 19.

Let’s start with basics; and the first thing to note is wipe the lens. Since most of our phones don’t have a sacred case, they are casually kept in pockets or in our handbags, thereby collecting all the dust. While travelling, a fleeting moment has to be captured with great finesse, and during that moment, you just can’t stop to clean your lenses; so better be prepared.

Know the limits of your smartphone
First, understand what your smartphone is capable of doing. Stop yourself from over-expecting. While most cell phones have a single lens and wide-angle focal length, there are models with dual lens in which you get a bit more versatility with the slight zoom. Either way, know what you are zooming at. If you think your smartphone can zoom into the top of Eiffel Tower, you will face only disappointed as the resulting image will be pixelated close-up.

Then shuffle around the ‘settings’ to learn their specific functions and experiment how they will affect your photos. Check if you can shoot in ‘manual’ option, which helps in turning images from grainy to great.

Opt for natural light condition
There may be times when you capture images via a cell phone, the result is incredible, however, there is something called low-light conditions, where most of us struggle. Most smartphones are not enhanced with high-end technology to counteract a dark environment without reducing the quality of images. But, if it becomes absolutely necessary to take a photo at night, try to click with some artificial light.

Get a better camera app
Yes, one of the hacks of capturing great travel images is to download a third-party camera app instead of using the one that comes installed on a phone. The third-party apps are enhanced with high-end features enabling your smartphone to shoot a bit like a DSLR with manual settings and option to shoot RAW, which is basically an uncompressed type of file allowing you more flexibility to edit your images.

Grab some additional smartphone accessories
Your phone is called smartphone for a reason, and with appropriate accessories, you can expand the functionalities of your phone beyond expectation. Some accessories that you can consider adding to your shopping cart are flexible tripod, wide angle pro lens, Bluetooth remote control, and extra memory card.

Landscape photography
It is often considered one of the most important things of travel photography. Capturing landscape images via a smartphone can be quite easy. The most important thing to consider while trying to get a good shoot is exposure control. Exposure typically means how light or dark you image will come out overall.

Want to read more tips from Panchali? Click here to view original web page at

Leave your own smartphone photography tips and advice in the comment box below.

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Flies for Fly Fishing fly fishing equipment Lifestyle Nairobi Fly Fishing and Tying


  • By
  • August 15, 2018
Nairobi City Fly Tier Fred Kangai
Nairobi City Fly Tyer
Fred Kangai began his fly-tying career in Nairobi City, Kenya’s capital city. He currently owns his own business selling his flies around the world.



Nairobi City is Kenya’s capital and a hub of activities embraced by people from all over the country. Fred Kangai Luyali’s life in Nairobi began years ago. He arrived there and accepted a position as a fly-tier at a fly-tying company. Fred trained for six months and ultimately, resigned to start his own fly-tying business.

Joan Matsui Receives Fly Samples
Fred contacted me via email and offered to send fly samples to me. Once the rain is replaced by sun and the water level in our rivers and streams drops, I’ll be sure to try each and every one.

According to Fred, his employees consist of experienced men and women who source his orders from local firms.

“Here we tie according to the client’s sample and then ship directly to clients abroad,” Fred said via an email interview.

Mandated Company Training

Before a person can achieve the status as a fly tier, he or she must undergo a special training of not less than six months. To qualify, the individual must take the company’s mandated training program that’s only done inside the company.

Fred explained many companies in Kenya rely mostly on clients outside the country and he and his team work round the clock to meet their international clients’ needs. The proceeds, he says, help to improve their living standard.

While supplying flies is his business, Fred hasn’t followed what we might consider a natural progression – learning to fly fish before taking on tying. Fred said, “I know nothing as fly fishing is concerned. I only know how to tie flies.”

Nymphs, dry, wet, streamers, saltwater, salmon patterns, bass bugs, and poppers are among the files he and his team of fly-tying specialists craft. He noted he gets the flies from local factories as sub-contracts and then they are returned and to his company to make the finished product. He incorporates many materials commonly used by tiers around the world: deerskin, hackle feathers, tippet peacock herls and his favorite pattern and most productive fly is the Goddard Caddis, a classic high-floating dry fly imitation that’s known for its large and bushy appearance.

Fred said special care is taken to be sure the flies he sells are tied tightly to the hook to avoid loose ends. His flies have a neat finish and are a hit with his customers because he uses the exact materials and hooks they request.

“they (my tiers) tie and deliver on time, and our flies are packed so they reach our clients undamaged. my flies need a lot of attention to avoid mistakes made by tiers in order to satisfy my client,” he said.

Does he plan to learn to fly fish? Fred said he hopes to learn in the future. “I need to learn more as far as fishing is concerned.”

You can contact Fred or request a brochure here.








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