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~ Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias ~ Happy Thanksgiving ~

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Posted by Jules, Please visit the Author’s blog to support the cause

TWR is supporting the efforts of Julli Sterling for helping people in need from Nicaragua, Guatemala and most Central America to be able to receive proper education, and basic needs. You can help too by visiting Julianna Sterling’s blog. Below is the article written by her:

As midnight struck in the US, and Thanksgiving Day fell upon us, I sat in front of my computer mulling over the, ‘to do’ list for Thanksgiving Dinner, and was overcome with gratitude for the many blessings that have filled my life. I have a lot to be thankful for this year; the truth is I feel I am incredibly blessed.

This year I had the amazing opportunity to spend several weeks in Guatemala with a new-old friend; Jewels. A friend who became a treasured gem in my world; together we were granted the fortune of volunteering building houses, picking coffee, and studying Spanish. We met countless wonderful people working for a number of organizations that do some pretty amazing things and we met some of the most beautiful people living in some of the most impoverished of conditions. I am blessed to have her in my life.

I think it was there where my journey of recognizing my blessings began.

Boarding the plane to return to my life in America, I realized I had become very complacent in my life and really hadn’t taken a good long hard look at all of the blessings I have. Somewhere on the drive back in the middle of a blizzard that night I stopped and said, “Thank you God.”

I couldn’t get the words out fast enough and the tears fell like rain from my eyes. I had been in a place where people had nothing and complained about even less. I had been in a place where choices were few, rights were fewer, and freedoms were even less than that. A place where jobs, education, nutrition, healthcare, home owning, vehicle owning, personal protection, clean water, the gamete are virtually nonexistent yet, every man, woman and child I met greeted each day with a renewed sense of joy, happiness and zest for life.

The day prior I had been on top of a volcano which had recently erupted and decimated an entire village its venomous lava had spread a now thick layer of black ash and soot from peak to valley. Blanketing a once vibrant green tropical mountain top with nothing but darkness, yet everyone living there was filled with the brightest smiles, peace, happiness and love. Though my body was racked with pain from the hike and the twenty hours of planes, trains and automobiles, I cried not because I hurt but, because everywhere I looked I had a blessing.

I had friends to pick me up at the airport, a warm coat and winter boots, a hot meal on the table when I got home that night. A roof over my head, running water (hot at that), electricity, my own home, my own car…my family that couldn’t wait to see me and a puppy that was so excited she peed all over the floor when I walked through the door. I have my health and my job –my goodness I have A LOT. In fact I realized I have so much to be thankful for that I spent the entire summer thinking of ways to give back and spread some of these blessings….a blessing is only a true blessing when it’s shared.

I worked all spring and all summer and not just at my job.

I proudly graduated my daughter and host daughter. I am very, very proud of the accomplishments of both Jami and Roja and am truly blessed to have such fine women as my family. My daughter Jami, is the first member of my family to graduate with a college degree and the very first to ever attend grad school…For all the naysayers that said a teen mother and high school dropout could never be more than a welfare whore…Here’s my little blessing!

When a brush with a dangerous man in our community resulted in my having been put in harms way my son was the first person I told. Not a word was spoken when a loaded twelve gage was placed at the head of my bed and no arguments were had over the fact he was sleeping in my room that night. We didn’t talk about when the bastard got out of prison, we talked about how “no one eff’s with my mom.” Every mom should know her son has her back like that. I am blessed to have a protective and devoted fine young man as a son.

My family has always been loving and supportive. My sister has always been more like a bestest friend; listening, sharing, commiserating, encouraging and just always being ‘there.’ We can talk about anything and everything and it is the judge free zone. She always gets where I am coming from even when I don’t. My brother in law is more like a brother and my niece and nephew have always made me feel like I was on a pedestal, what I don’t think they realize is, it is I, who put them on the pedestal. I am so proud of my sister and her returning to college, my brother in laws continued efforts as a small business owner to not give in to the corporate muscle flexing and my head to toe pride in everything that Alex and Dimitri do; school, dance, crew, and being beautiful proactive, productive, members of their community. I am blessed to have such a beautiful loving sister and family.

As I started planning my trip to Nicaragua, people, complete strangers and lifelong friends would come up to me and ask what they could do to help make my dream come true. They wanted to help, make a contribution or tell me what a good person they thought I was. I am truly blessed to have such wonderfully supportive loving friends, both old and new. No such friends stood out anymore than my two biggest and best; MOM & DAD. It seems no matter what I do; good or bad, success or failure they are always by my side with their love and support. They have always been there and will always be there. Fact is the learning to give back and count my blessing was instilled in me by them. I am forever blessed to have them as parents.

I have a beautiful and amazing host family filled with brilliant young men and women from every corner of the world and their friendships over the years has meant more to me than words can say. I always believed and told them that I involved myself in the host family program as a way to give back…my belief is that if my son and daughter were to visit them in their country they would treat them the same way they have been treated by me, and that someday all of my children will find a way to give back. They have always gone out of their way to make me feel like I am the most special person ever, cooking for me, taking me to dinner, including me in their college lives, sharing some of their most inner thoughts, laughter and tears, appreciating and respecting our political, religious and cultural differences. This fall was one of those times; I was invited to a bbq and unsuspecting me attended. There I discovered my host children had gathered together along with many of our mutual friends to celebrate my birthday. It came at a time when my own daughter had just left to live on other side of the US and the same day my parents were to depart for Florida. I felt so blessed to have such thoughtful loving friends surround me, actually they are more than just friends, they are my FAMILY.

I took an inventory of my excess living and put the brakes on. I stopped buying because I felt like it and started buying because I needed to. I am blessed to live in a community that is full of talented people, which I can purchase locally grown and locally produced items. I continued to empty my closet of selfish living and pass it on to women in the US who need clothing and donate the proceeds to women abroad in need. I have had an overly blessed closet…

I became thankful for the forty one years I have had on this earth and the healthy life I have been granted to live and decided it was time to be a little nicer to my body and begin taking better care of it by eating, healthier and treating with a little more love. Yes I went veggie on you; I am blessed to be in good health and want to stay that way.

I planted a garden and shared it with my neighbors grandchildren it is always better to share an experience with a child they are after all the seedlings of tomorrows future…I am very blessed to have these vivacious giggling little girls as my neighbors, they are little blessings in my life and a constant reminder of my blessed childhood days on Central Ave. I started thinking in a more earth conscious way, being thankful for the environment and the planet we live on. I have made a conscious effort to leave less of a carbon foot print…I am blessed to have clean air, clean water, green grass, blue skies (well that’s up for debate) and beautiful trees and flowers all around me.

As it came time to go to Nicaragua and bring my donations with me a renewed sense of gratitude and feeling of being the one blessed enough to do this filled my soul, I had spent a large part of the summer feeling this trip was never going to happen and it did! Every hurdle I climbed every road block I stumbled over, washed away and returned to me with strength and courage. I have been blessed to have visited some of the poorest corners of the western hemisphere; visiting some of the most beautiful sites and meeting some of the most beautiful people… dining at their tables, walking their streets, working in their schools, being embraced into their way of life, culture, and language..my home away from home… I went with the intentions of bringing gifts little blessings and instead came home having been blessed. The whole trip was one giant blessing.

Two nights ago my computer chimed with an incoming message from my first host student, who is now married and in grad school, excitedly I replied back, we chatted for hours, we have always been that way…As the conversation closed she told me she often thinks back over her four years in my city and how I and my family fill her fond memories. She said we made her, a young girl from Senegal Africa, feel like a member of the family and knows no matter where she goes in the world she will always have a ‘home’ in Waterville, Maine. What she may never realize is that all of this started with her. I am blessed to have had her come into my life, she impacted my world, without her friendship a lot of the things I have gone on to do, may never have been done.

Thanksgiving may be different in its numbers around the table this year as my parents are in Florida, my sister and her family in Massachusetts, my daughter in California, my oldest two host daughters now in New York and New Hampshire and, my younger three host children are traveling about America…As Martin, TJ, Lucy and I sit down to partake in the traditional feast it doesn’t change the countless number of blessings felt in my heart.

With a full belly and even more full heart I am very grateful and blessed for my beautiful, loving, amazing, family, friends, both old and new friends, here and abroad, friends I have shared a lot with and friends I have yet to make, I am blessed to have you all…

Jules is a passionate writer and a social activist who is involved in various social activities in Guatemala and Nicaragua. You can visit her blog and contribute here As told by JulesPlease visit the Author’s blog to support the cause.
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Culture and Lifestyle

Why Do Movies Change The Way People Dress?

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via GIPHY

Movies transcend the silver screen. Apart from being avenues for actors to show off their skills, they also let the great and good of Hollywood strut their stuff. Impacting fashion, then, is inevitable.

At least, it has been for the past couple of decades. Directors and stylists create the looks, and ordinary people try to recreate them as best they can. But why? What makes films the leaders of fashion? After all, they are the original influencers because their reach was far and wide before social media became a thing!

Here are four factors that give Hollywood a say in the fashion industry, and why anything isn’t likely to change.

Escapism

People don’t watch movies to connect with real life. If you wanted to do that, you’d binge-watch documentaries or never turn off the news. No, you sit down to take in a film because you want to get away from life for a few hours. What this does is convince you that the characters are not representations of fictional people, but real. So, recreating their charm and swagger through their outfits seems like the logical next step. After all, you may see yourself through the width of a lens rather than your eyes.

Latest Trends

Of course, actors aren’t regular, run of the mill human beings. They’re part of the 1% of society, which means they get rich and famous perks that aren’t available to others. This means they don’t turn up on set looking angelic – they are morphed into Gods and Goddesses by stylists. Stylists are professionals with their fingers on the pulse of fashion, so they know how to dress people to appear cool or sultry or effortless. The public doesn’t have this type of access, but that doesn’t stop you from copying the styles.

They’re popular for several reasons!

via GIPHY

Pop Culture

It’s hard not to know about the latest pop culture trends, even if you actively stay away from them. That’s because they are everywhere, including on your TV screen. This has been the case for decades, from Morpheus’ rimless glasses in “The Matrix” to Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair and white dress combo in “The Seven Year Itch.” Part of the reason that movies are iconic, aside from famous lines, is their recognizable outfits. At some point, you’ll see a trend that you love and want to recreate at home because there are thousands of movies/they are derivative.

via GIPHY

Accessibility

Film is one of the most conspicuous forms of media. Movies start their lives in theaters, move onto your screen, and finish in your DVD collection. As a result, you get tons of opportunities to see the latest fashion trends. You’re exposed to it, even if you don’t read glossy magazines or class yourself as a budding fashionista. The rise of Netflix has solidified the effect as your reference points are only one click away in an app or folder on your mobile device.

And, that’s why movies will continue to change the way people dress in the future.

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Weed It And Reap! It’s Time To Design Your Own Garden

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home garden

With our new normal seeing us staying at home a lot more because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to invest in your garden. Because people are seeing the staycation as the default holiday this year, homeowners are going above and beyond the annual garden tidy-up and are embarking on a full remodel of their outside area. If you have triffid-like plants overtaking your borders, your lawn has seen better days, there are no zones to enjoy and you can’t even consider dining outdoors, it can be challenging to find the joy in your garden. You need to treat your garden like the interior of your home. Your humble abode is your pride and joy, so this should extend into your outside area.

Gardens are no longer a patch of lawn and a couple of side borders full of plants. There are all sorts of glorious garden styles for you to enjoy depending on how you see your garden being utilized. Will you want a grand, elegant array of blooms? Do you want to grow vegetables? Or are you seeing your garden as an outdoor party area? Take a look at how you can design your own garden using these ideas to inspire you.

Create Some Zones

Gardens serve many purposes. Some days you will be outdoors with the kids, spending some time playing games and kicking a ball around. All you need for this is some artificial grass that is resilient and requires little maintenance. Many individuals aren’t willing to put the mowing time in, and would rather have a permanent lush green carpet underfoot. This is why artificial lawn is so popular. Alternatively, you could plan for a pool out the back. For those kids who are active and a little older, a dip in the pool can be more attractive than the video games on offer inside. All you need to do is source water pump spare parts for your kidney shaped pool every couple of years, get it cleaned regularly and look forward to some exciting outdoor summer pool parties.

Vegetables

Many people are keen to explore the concept of sustainability. This means foregoing any reliance on supermarkets for food, and having a go at being more self sufficient. You could decide to create some raised beds, ready for sowing. Think about the vegetables you love to cook with and eat, and get planting. You might want a couple of rows of parsnips, some pumpkin and some artichoke. If you want to get the kids involved, think about whipping up a greenhouse or some polytunnels, and plant some strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. These salad veg and fruit enjoy the more humid conditions.

Al Fresco Dining

If you see the outside of our home as being an extension of your pad, you might want to consider how you can accommodate some outdoor dining. Whether you are having a barbecue or enjoying eating outdoors for a summer dinner party, you need a patio with an awning for cover adjacent to your home. This means your guests don’t have to go too far to sit and eat and relax and chat. Being a host, having your diners outside can be fun and enjoyable in the summer months. You could even give it a go during winter. While chillier, you can create a cozy atmosphere with an outdoor heater, a firepit and some subtle lighting.

Barbecues are also fun for the whole family. You could pick up some good quality garden furniture from a local garden center and enjoy eating some halloumi burgers, marinated salmon and grilled corn at the weekend.

Planting

If you adore flowers and color, it’s time to consider your planting. Don’t just head to the garden center and pick up flowers because you love the look of them without any planning. You need to work out when your flowers will bloom, whether you want all year round color, or whether you fancy some shrubbery or grasses. If you don’t have a green fingered bone in your body, it might be a good idea to pick up some wildflower seeds. These can be left to grow on their own and love nutrient poor soil. All you need to do is mow it back a couple of times a year. Wildflowers also help you do your bit for the environment as they are great pollinators for bees.

If you love an English country garden look, you’ll want traditional blooms. Consider some roses, hydrangea and scented heather and lavender. These are wonderful for those gardens that have a lot of colors: reds, yellows, oranges, and violets. If you prefer a more modern or exotic look, palms and bamboo can be ideal, provided you have the sunlight. Read up on the sort of plants that match well together and draw out your patch for planting. Then you can plot which shrub or flower you will plant where.

Water Feature

If you don’t have the room for a pool, but you still fancy a water feature, consider a fountain or an illusion orb. For a garden to be a relaxing space, the sound of water can add to the atmosphere of calm and tranquillity. Couple this with a hammock or some gentle swing seating, and you can have an extra zone where you can kick back, read a book, have some alone time, or chill with pals.

When you do have your garden zones, don’t forget the finer details. How will you move between each zone? Will you have a tiered garden or do you need to think about paths? Sand and paving come in all different sizes making an easy path to lay. You could opt for a shingle path instead or go for some decking.

Designing a garden can be tricky, so think about getting the professionals in if this gives you more confidence. There are many factors to consider with a garden, but follow this guide and you will soon weed it and reap!

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Culture and Lifestyle

The best ways to stay entertained at home

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home entertainment

They say that home is where your heart is. After all, our home is the place where we spent most time at. But sometimes, if we lack of the proper forms of entertainment, our time at home can become dull and boring. That is why today we have brought you a list of the best entertainment applications and softwares in order to turn the time you spend at home into the best time of the day.

Make sure your sound systems are on point

Sound is a key factor in most modern media forms. It does not matter whether we plan to enjoy watching a new film or some quality gaming session, if we do not have the proper sound systems, the quality of the experience becomes way less pleasant. 

Many people try to solve this problem by buying expensive sound equipments, but, how can you know if they are working to their fullest potential? The solution to this problem is simpler than you could think, all you need to do is run a speaker test on your sound devices. 

This test will help you realize the quality and range of your speakers, headphones, earplugs, etc. It does not matter the type of audio system you use to consume digital media, thanks to this quick and easy test, you will be able to enjoy the experience at its fullest potential and detect any possible problem your device could have.

Having access to the best apps on the market

Nowadays, we can find all forms of media compiled on different apps. These apps are an user friendly way to present what traditionally could only be found on websites. For example, the popular video page Youtube has its own app with a more user friendly interface for phone users where users can find their videos in an easier and faster way. And same goes for social media apps, game apps, software apps, etc. 

All these apps can be easily found on the play store. The only thing you would need to do is to download Play Store compatible with your mobile device. Once you have installed the latest version of the Play Store, a whole new world of apps will open in front of your eyes. All you need to do is pick your favorite ones and start enjoying them. 

Stimulating our kids

The time our kids spend at home is precious and we should always treasure it. However, we all know that kids get bored easily, so we should always look forwards to productive ways of keeping our kids entertained while stimulating their learning process. This can be easily achievable using music games. Music games are the perfect stimulus for our children. Their colourful layouts will catch their attention while the music will teach them how to differentiate between different instruments, tones, etc. Before they realize, our kids will be learning everything about music in a fun and productive way. 

Learn to dance without leaving your home

Learning how to dance is a goal we often share but that we often struggle to achieve. Knowing how to dance properly is a skill that would always come in handy for social gatherings and for a quick self-esteem boost. However, this would usually imply that we would need to enroll ourselves in expensive and boring courses at dancing schools. But thanks to the recent developments on technology, learning how to dance is now easier than ever. Websites like  www.salsabachatadance.de provide their users with everything they would need to get started on learning how to dance from the comfort of their own homes. From virtual lessons with a 3D instructor to dance sessions using Virtual Reality systems, you can turn your living room into a disco floor and start learning how to dance like a real professional.

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