If you are in the market for a new buggy and you do your research online, almost every review you will read about the Maclaren Techno XLR pushchair is favourable. Every owner who gave their feedback about this baby stroller usually have only good things to say about the XLR, which is probably why it’s one of the most popular and highly rated pushchairs around – but is it the perfect pushchair for your needs? Read on and find out.

Maclaren Techno XLR: The Pros

The Techno XLR is Maclaren’s version of a luxurious Techno XT which is one of the bestselling pushchair in the Maclaren range. So if you like the XT but want the best in both functionality and comfort, the XLR is the one for you.

Most owners have observed that the XLR pushchair is very sturdy/durable even after prolonged, daily use. It is no wonder that Maclaren is known for excellent workmanship.

For parents who are aggravated with logging around their pushchairs in public transportation, the XLR offers them the solution. It is so easy to push up curbs and maneuver around tight corners. This feature makes it different from the rest.

Another benefit of using the Techno XLR, is that it’s lightweight. It’s perfect for people living in upstairs apartments. With only 8kgs, together with the hood and shopping basket, parents and carers will not have to be troubled with carrying their pushchairs up and down the stairs.

The XLR has been designed for tall people who would otherwise encounter problems with low setting handles at 110cm, usually available with other pushchairs. Its unique feature is its high setting handles which can be adjusted up to 130cm with the lowest setting at 110cm.

Another plus is the Techno XLR’s hood with viewing window and sun visor, which is big enough to unzip from the back and extend forward. This would give your babies protection from the sun. For your added convenience, it is installed with pockets and net bag at the back of the hood for your traveling accessories.

The seat reclines to 4 positions, and yes it reclines to more than 150 degrees, making it perfectly suitable for newborns. The new 2009 model has a simple lever used for recline adjustment that you can operate with one hand. Again, this will tickle your fancy if you rarely have both hands free.

Maclaren Techno XLR: The Cons

The shopping basket is a disappointment in my opinion because it can only hold up to 2 kg.

For those vertically challenged, the handle height will be a difficulty. For those standing 5’1” to 5’3”, the lowest handle setting will be at chest to armpit level.

Another thing is that the seat is not reversible so it’s not a good choice for parents who want a travel system to use from birth likes to face their baby during the first few months.

The last thing to consider is that the XLR is not designed as an all terrain pushchair. For those planning to use the pushchair extensively on rough country roads, an all terrain type would be more suitable. The XLR is recommended more for people living in the city.

Conclusion

The Techno XLR would be perfect for people living in the city. From its sturdy, easy to use design and lightweight features to its easy to maneuver features in narrow spaces, this pushchair would definitely be the best choice for you.

Santorini has many beautiful volcanic beaches with sparkling blue water and skies, which bring thousands of visitors every summer. The most popular beaches offer a variety of attractions and amenities: something for everyone.

Paradisos Beach is located on the northern tip of the island, below Oia. It is a large, organized beach with clear water, black sand, pebbles and a backdrop of chiseled pumice rock. It is good for families with children since the waters are shallow, which is unusual for Santorini. A canteen and several restaurants and tavernas nearby serve lunch. Sun beds and umbrellas are available for hire.

Vourvoulos Beach is located on the East coast of the island, south of Xiropigado Beach. It is an organized beach with a small harbor, umbrellas, a small wooden playground, changing rooms and a restaurant. The road is lined with beach trees offering shade. The beach consists of a mixture of sand and pebbles, with clear blue water. While it is popular, it is one the least crowded organized beaches on the island.

Monolithos Beach is located on the East coast of the island, south of Karterados Beach. Monolithos is a very long, quiet, family friendly, well organized beach with black sand, shallow waters and a sandy sea bottom. It is very good for swimming, and a life guard is on duty. Part of the longest continuous stretch of beach on the island, it continues to Kamari beach and further to Perissa beach. Organized activities include beach volleyball, basketball, football and a playground. There are fish restaurants and traditional tavernas, changing rooms, showers and public toilets. Trees at the back of beach provide shade.

Kamari Beach is located on the southeast coast of Santorini, north of Perissa. It is one of the most popular beaches of the island, and has been awarded the Blue Flag. The long beach connects with Perissa to the South, with the impressive mountain of Mesa Vouno and the archaeological settlement of Ancient Thira between them. It has deep, clear water, black sand, and there is a lifeguard on duty. The beach is organized, with sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports and diving. A paved pedestrian promenade runs parallel to the beach, providing a place for strolling and shopping. Kamari offers numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and supermarkets, as well as a lively nightlife. The area landscape is beautiful, especially at night, when Mesa Vouno is lighted.

Perissa Beach is located on the southeast coast of Santorini, below the village of Emporio. Perissa is a very popular beach resort that has been awarded the Blue Flag. It has an impressively long, black sand beach, with a view of the mountain of Mesa Vouno and the archaeological settlement of Ancient Thira. The water is clear with a sandy sea bottom and a few occasional submerged rocks. The beach is well organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars, souvenir shops and a life guard. The area landscape is beautiful, especially at night, when Mesa Vouno is lighted. Two diving schools, a water park and a natural rock climbing wall offer other activities nearby.

Perivolos Beach is located on the southeast coast of Santorini, below the village of Emporio. It is a long, black sand resort beach with deep blue waters and a sandy sea bottom connected to Perissa beach and Agios Georgios Beach. The beach area is naturally protected from the summer North Winds, which can adversely affect other beaches on the island. It is well organized with life guards, sunbeds, umbrellas, restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars, supermarkets, showers, public toilets and a playground. Numerous beach bars playing club music, DJ guest appearances, volley ball tournaments and special events creates an experience of Santorini nightlife by day. There are also many water sports facilities nearby featuring windsurfing, scuba diving and jet skiing.

Agios Georgios is located at the southern tip of Santorini, half a kilometer from Perivolos Beach. It is a large, sandy organized beach. It is more quiet than nearby Perissa and Perivolos Beaches, and the water is more shallow. A few small tavernas offer lunch. Sun beds and umbrellas are available for rental, and there are many opportunities for water sports such as jet skiing, scuba diving, windsurfing, paddleboats and banana boats.

Vlychada is located at the southern tip of Santorini. It is a quiet, organized beach with black sand and a stunning backdrop of wind eroded beach cliffs resembling the surface of the moon. Despite its popularity, it often feels uncrowded and even secluded, because the beach offers ample space to spread out. Nudists tend to favor the far end of the beach. A nearby marina for moors private yachts and is also home to Santorini’s Sailing & Yachting Center. Umbrellas and sunbeds can be rented, but only near the beginning of the beach. There is a canteen and a few tavernas near the harbor, but it is recommended to bring supplies with you, because the beach is long.

Eros Beach is located at the southern coast of Santorini, near Vlychada. Eros Beach is a fairly small, organized beach area with umbrellas, sunbeds and volley ball and facilities provided by Theros Beach Bar. It shares the same beautiful landscape with nearby Vlychada beach, with stunning eroded beach cliffs as a backdrop. You can take meals, coffee or snacks from the bar. There are some evening events and DJ music.

Red Beach is located at the southern coast of Santorini, south of the village of Akrotiri. Red beach is one of the most beautiful and most famous beaches of the island. It is named for the iron-rich rocks in the cliff face towering over the beach above you, as well its the red sand. It has a small beach area, and due to its popularity, it can be quite crowded in the summer season. It is an unorganized beach, with no cantinas or refreshments offered on the beach. There is a small cantina near the parking area, where you should buy anything you will need. The first few meters of the water near the shore are gravel. Many distant yachts can be seen from the beach, and the view of the sunset is stunning. Visibility for snorkeling is good, but you will have to bring your own equipment.

White Beach is located at the southern coast of Santorini, south of the village of Akrotiri. White Beach is very similar to Red beach, with black pebbles on the shore, but the surrounding cliffs are white. It is only slightly organized, with a few sunbeds and umbrellas. The surrounding rocks do provide some natural shade. It is harder to reach than nearby Red Beach, and therefore more quiet. Bring any supplies you may need with you, as there is no place to purchase them on the beach.White Beach can only be reached by boat or by walking from Red Beach. Boats leave from Red Beach or from Akrotiri. There is no pier, so to reach the beach by boat you must walk through waist high water, but the experience will not disappoint.

Ammoudi Bay Beach is located below Oia, at the northwestern tip of the island. It is accessed by walking or mule ride down the 214 steps from Oia castle. It is a charming and popular unorganized beach, with high red cliffs and a view of the endless blue sea. It does not have a sand beach, but it has a swimming area. It is most recommended for strong swimmers. There is a small harbor dotted with famous fish tavernas. It is possible to swim in the harbour, but the best place to go is along the path past the tavernas on the waterfront, where you will find an excellent place for diving off the rocks. From the port of Ammoudi you can also take a small boat to the opposite island of Thirassia.

If you have just bought a car then you should know that getting an auto car insurance has been made mandatory by law. Without this you won’t be able to drive on the roads and you will be collecting a lot of driving tickets. Getting auto car insurance is not that difficult; all you need to do is choose the right agency. This is not a daunting task if you are a wise buyer. There are so many insurance agencies to choose form, so finding the right one can be a bit tedious. It is vital that you choose the right agency if you want to save your hard earned money. Making a wrong decision will just make your money go out the window. Not everyone is a perfect driver so there is a possibility of you meeting with an accident. Paying for the repairs can be a bit expensive and at such times having auto car insurance in hand is beneficial. This will help you save your finances.

You really need to shop around to find the right agency and the easiest way to do is online. On the internet you will be able to find an agency nearest to you. You need to make sure that you browse through different websites before you actually settle on one. It can be a bit time consuming, but rushing into this will only make you suffer. So to avoid this you need to take your time and not hasten with this process. Browsing through an entire website will only take a few minutes, but by doing this you will get to know the policies of different companies. You can just choose a company randomly. You should choose the right one and make sure that they have all the services that you are looking for.

On the internet you will be able to compare auto car insurance rates to figure out which one is the most affordable. You should choose an agency that charges an affordable amount and it should also give you full coverage. Before you sign the fine print make sure that you read all the terms and conditions. If you find an agency that provides the required services and coverage then you should certainly take advantage of this. There will be many agencies that will lure you will attractive offers but you should take your time and choose the right one.

Best honeymoon destinations in India

India is very well known for its diversity. In fact it is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. Best honeymoon destinations in India present the tourist attractions right from beach state of Goa to beautiful hill station of Kashmir to the back waters of Kerala. Best honeymoon destinations in India are Hill stations like Mussoorie, Dalhousie, Darjeeling, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Srinagar, Shimla, Nanital, Manali, Mount Abu, Gangtok and many more The other best honeymoon destinations in India are beaches like Andaman & Nicobar, Kerala and Andra Pradesh which provides you with picturesque beaches and many more. If you are looking for a best honeymoon destination then India is the place where you should visit and explore it.

Package Tours from Bangalore

Bangalore is known as the Silicon city of India. It is one of the cosmopolitan cities of India. Package tours from Bangalore offers you to visit places like Bandipur national park, Bannerghatta nature camp, Bhadra, Bheemeshwari, B.R hills, Cavery fishing camp, Coorg, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Kemmanagundi, Kudremukh, Mysore and many more. Package tours from Bangalore offer holiday packages, tailor made tours suiting to all categories in India on very competitive prices. So in case you want a break from the hectic city life then Bangalore packages offer you with various gateways to treat you and your family.

Tours and Travels

India was regarded as the “Jewel in the crown” of the British Empire. To spend your vacations in India there are numerous tours and travels. These tours and travel help to plan your journey and itinerary as per your requirement and need. They are very cost effective and can design or tailor make your trip as per your requirement and desire. They companies of all categories of packages starting from economy class to lavish category. These tours and travel plan your journey and make your journey hassle free. They have many efficient operators who work day and night to plan your trip and full fill all your needs. They provide you with alluring range of exotic global tours and elegant value added services. These tours and travel are well connected, broadly experienced and globally renowned. So book your vacation now with India tours and travel and enjoy a wonder vacation with your family and friends and create memories of lifetime.

Running a business can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying ventures one can partake in life. However, running a business can also be an extremely demanding, and at times, stressful career move. Luckily there are a wide range of business services that can help to take some of the weight off of your shoulders and allow you to focus on the core elements of your business.

The first service is chartered accountancy. A huge part of your business is going to be dealing with the financial aspects of its day to day operations. Many feel employing the services of an accountant to be a bit of a waste of money. This is usually because they have some understanding of what is needed and required and feel that they will be more than capable of keeping on top of all their accounts and book keeping. Although this may be fine for small businesses or start ups, as a business grows, so does the amount of accountancy work. Another point to make is that hiring an accountant is not as expensive as many would be lead to believe. So for a small yearly fee, you could rest assured that your accounts are being professionally managed, allowing you to focus on your business.

Another popular service is outsourced sales and lead generation. Today, more than ever, businesses are outsourcing their lead generation and sales tasks; so that they can focus their in house teams efforts on the key aspects of the business. Outsourcing is beneficial in many ways and can have a huge impact on the growth and success of a business. When you outsource a service such as lead generation and sales, you are acquiring the service of a highly skilled and dedicated team who are specifically trained to excel in sales and lead generation. This means that less time is spent training staff in-house, allowing that management time to be set to more important, core aspects of your business. Another huge benefit of this outsourced service is the quality and quantity of the leads and sales that you will receive. By allowing highly trained, professionals deal with these parts of your business; you will be rewarded with more relevant leads, and a larger volume of sales.

Finally we have Records Management. Although not a service that will improve sales or leads, records management will improve the organisation and efficiency of your business. Records management or Document Storage as it is often referred to, is when your business documents and media is stored in an external storage facility. This will free up a lot of office space and lead to a more organised and efficient way of operating your business. A good Records Management facility will allow you to quickly and efficiently access any of your stored documents at any point. These facilities are kept at optimum temperatures and are closely guarded, meaning your documents will be safe and in perfect condition should you require them.

These are just three of the many services that could improve and enhance your business. By employing one or a few of these business services you could find yourself with more time to focus on the core aspects of your business, leading to a more successful business for you and your staff.

What is the first thought you get when you hear the words “natural skin care remedies”? Do you think about things you can do at home to make your skin beautiful? Or do you associate it with natural skin care you can buy instead?

For me, natural skin care remedies include both things – face gymnastics to give yourself a little face lift without a knife daily, cosmetics you can make in your own kitchen, but also 100% natural, commercial skin care products.

There are as thousands of remedies there for all kinds of skin problems out there, but in this article I’d like to concentrate on the ones that slow down the signs of aging, that means the ones which smooth away wrinkles, tighten skin and make the skin look younger.

Believe me, I’ve done my research and I can say there are so many natural substances that are supposed to make your skin look youthful and smooth. Usually these substances need to be used on the skin in the form of a cream, or taken orally as a supplement.

Of course many foods in themselves are filled with vitamins and nutrients that can help your skin rejuvenate itself, but usually you’d need to eat impossible amounts of these foods to really get the benefits of the substances in them. Don’t get me wrong, I love to have a few tomatoes or strawberries a day, but there’s a limit a person can eat!

To really get a benefit of natural skin care remedies you’ll need to eat a good diet based on natural foods, but also use natural skin care, which you can buy or make yourself. If needed, you can complement the process with quality supplements, too.

Be careful when shopping for natural skin care products, though. There are so many product lines that claim to be natural, but really aren’t. Sure, the cream in the pretty tube has some olive oil, aloe vera or keratin in it, but just a little bit! If that’s not bad enough, many products are in fact based on mineral oil! Make sure you get a 100% natural product and not one with 10% or even 90% natural ingredients.

Get a cream based on natural glycerines instead. These kinds of creams, which are great for moisturizing, can be made at home, too. For an anti-aging effect you’ll need special ingredients and buying a cream might be a more viable option. Do your research and try a few brands, the good ones will have a money-back guarantee so there’s no risk for you.

If you’d like to know more about natural skin care and the products I recommend, please visit my website for more information.

Looking for an interior designer or interior decorator can be overwhelming if you are not sure which designer you need for the scope or your project. Are you building, renovating or moving and need professional advice? Are you planning to sell your property and not sure how to get ready for the first inspection?

This document gives you answers to frequently asked questions in regards to interior design, interior decorating, colour consulting and property styling.

It will help you finding the right designer for your interior design and decorating projects and eventually create your individual style in your home.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior stylist?

You may have asked yourself this question already when facing a building or renovation project. Do I need an interior designer, an interior decorator, a colour consultant or an interior stylist?

The answer is that it depends on the scope of the project.

An interior designer is a skilled professional who is designing interior environments according to your briefing. The interior designer either modifies what already exists (renovation) or provides an entirely new design for a space (new build). In this case the interior designer works closely with the architect and comes in at an early stage of the project. Interior designers work either along a team in design firm or on their own.

What is the job of an interior stylist? An interior stylist is a designer or consultant in a field subject to changes in style, especially fashion or interior decoration. An interior stylist cultivates or maintains any particular style and in most cases stylist are finders, keepers and collectors of beautiful objects.

The interior stylist can help you finding your own style, creating beautiful interiors that are unique and meaningful. This can be achieved with the simplest things and does not have to be expensive. The only thing you need to do is keep your eyes open to beautiful things in nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel. There is only one rule: Only collect or buy things that mean something to you!

How does a colour consultation work?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

Prior to designing a colour scheme for you the colour consultant should always talk to you about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in your space. He will explain to you the differences between the paint companies and their products and choose the right product for your needs. After designing the colour scheme you will receive a written recommendation including a specification sheet and brushouts ready for your painter to start.

Why is it important to seek advice from a designer when choosing colours?

Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication and the design element that makes a space come alive. Colour brings individuality in a space and it is one of the most useful tools to master when finding your own style.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says in her book Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color: “Among other uses, color stimulates and works synergistically with all of the senses, symbolizes abstract concepts and thoughts, expresses fantasy or wish fulfillment, recalls another time or place and produces an aesthetic or emotional response.”

When choosing a colour for a room or house it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve. Is it a dark room or flooded with natural light? In which direction is the room facing? How are the proportions? Do you live in a small apartment or a contemporary newly built house with open plan living areas? All this needs to be considered when choosing colours for a space.

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of colours available – yes, there are thousands on the market – how can you start finding your personal colour scheme?

For some people it is a longer journey, for others it comes more naturally. The most important thing is to take some time, open your eyes, walk around your home and absorb the colour combinations you see. Then start gathering all the pieces you love. This can be anything from old porcelain, travel souvenirs, photographs, artwork, clothes, tear sheets from magazines, fabric swatches, stationary, a collection of stones, feathers or glass objects.

And don’t forget nature as inspiration for a colour scheme (interior or exterior). If you live near the ocean, shades of blues and greens can be used to link your interior with its surroundings. Flowers, butterflies, stones, shells, driftwood are fantastic inspirations for colour schemes.

Once you have gathered all your beloved treasures in one spot, play around with the pieces, group them by colours and you will see a colour palette emerge. This “moodboard” is a great starting point for your interior designer, interior stylist or colour consultant to help you creating an individual and personal space, a home that reflects who you are and a place that you love coming home to.

Stylist’s tip: Before you start painting always buy a test pot and paint a large sheet of paper or cardboard (one square metre) with your colour. Tape it to the walls in your room and study it for a couple of days. Look at it in daylight and artificial light. This is very important as colours change depending on the light, the orientation of the room, other colours in the room and spatial elements like furniture and artwork for example.

What is the difference between a colour and a styling consultation?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

The styling consultation focuses on creating a certain (Your) style in your home or simply on answering all your questions about colours, style, furniture sourcing and placement, art sourcing and placement, displays of your collections, accessories, proportions in a space, lighting etc.

Again it is vital that the designer listens to what you would like to achieve (briefing) and makes sure that he understood what you want (debriefing). Don’t let the interior designer or interior stylist talk you into something you don’t like!

How do I maximise the output of my styling consultation?

Are you planning to colour, redecorate or renovate, but don’t know where to start? Do you have lots of questions about colour schemes, furniture placement, how to display your collections, books or other beloved things? Are you not sure whether to redecorate with your old furniture and accessories or to renovate and create a new look? Do you need inspirations where to source furniture and accessories, second hand pieces or antiques?

If you prepare your first consultation with your stylist properly, you will get answers to all the questions you have. Here are my tips how to maximise the output from your styling or colour consultation:

• Be clear what you would like the outcome of the consultation to be.

• Decide which room or space you would like to focus on. Is it only one room or the whole house?

• Prepare yourself with tear sheets from interior design magazines like Real Living, Inside Out, Belle or Vogue Living. There are plenty on the market so choose the one that speaks to you most and start collecting pages of everything you like: colour schemes, furniture, accessories, room layouts, rugs, flooring, wallpaper, decorative items and everything that speaks to you. If you do this for a couple of weeks you will clearly see what you like and find your own personal style.

• Keep your eyes open to the beautiful things around you: nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel.

• Make sure that your stylist is listening and explain what you want to achieve with your styling project, what you would like a room to do for you and what mood you would like to create in your space.

And finally one of the most important things: Don’t let the stylist talk you into something you don’t like! You have to live in the space and you need to feel comfortable and at home! It is all about creating your home with your personal touch.

How do I find my own style?

The answer is as simple as this: explore the world around you and appreciate the beauty that lies within everything you discover!

Keep your eyes open and your mind excited! Discover and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you every day! Find inspiration in nature, buildings, shops, exhibitions, museums, art, events, markets, magazines and of course books.

One of my favourite books I spotted in a museum shop is called: How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith. On the back it says: “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.”

A stylist’s tip: always carry a little notebook and a pen with you in order to be able to sketch, doodle and write down what you discover.

Keep all your findings, notes and pictures in a folder or box and keep searching for at least four to eight weeks. Then start to group things by colour or theme and you will discover what your style is. And there are no rules. It is all about finding what you like!

Books for your inspiration

This is a list of books that I personally own and love! They are all a fantastic source of inspiration and creative ideas for your home.

Sibella Court: Bowerbird

Shannon Fricke: Sense of Style

Megan Morton: Home Love

Holly Becker: Decorate

Susanna Salk: Be Your Own Decorator

Geraldine James: Creative Walls

Hans Blomquist: The Natural Home

Is it necessary to seek advice from a stylist when I want to sell my property?

If you plan to sell your house it is worth investing in a styling consultation. A professional property stylist can help you to achieve maximum impact when presenting your home to potential buyers. A property stylist will help you to get ready for the first inspection by giving you advice on how to style your house with what you have. He will help you with colour schemes that attract potential buyers. He will also advice if you need rental furniture to style each room according to its function and help potential buyers to envisage themselves in the space. Property styling is all about creating a wow factor in key areas of your home and help the buyers to envisage themselves in your space. Once the styling is done don’t forget to book your stylist for the real estate photography shoot to make sure everything looks perfect on this day!

Though vineyards exist in almost every U.S. state, California outranks all of the others by a great deal and its production can even be ranked on a global scale. In fact, California ranks # 4 in the world in volume production among wine producers with a total of 2 billion liters per year, following only Italy, France, and Spain. It also ranks as one of the most diverse wine regions in the world due to its ability to produce almost 100 separate high-quality grape varietals. Some of the most popular wines include:

* Merlot

* Pinot Noir

* Cabernet Sauvignon

* Shiraz

* Zinfandel

* Chardonnay

* Sauvignon Blanc

Within the state, there are approximate 4,500 wine grape growers; a testament to the size and importance of the wine industry in California. In 2006, the California wine industry had a $51.8 billion dollar economic impact on its own state and a $125.3 billion dollar impact on the entire United States. The wine industry in California is easily the most profitable of any other area in the Unites States and its wine’s are among the top in quality around the world.

Due to different growing conditions within the state, the California wine producing areas are separated into five major regions: North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, Central Valley, and Southern California. Each of these regions can be divided even further into sub-regions called appellations (which are often counties) that many people who are not even familiar with wine will easily recognize by name such as Napa, Sonoma, and San Joaquin Valley. When a wine label contains a specific appellation, it means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used within the wine were grown within that specific region. Wine labels can also contain two or three appellations to classify the different grapes used within the wine if the percentages are specifically noted as well.

The climate range in California varies from region to region which allows for superb production of many different types of perfectly grown grapes which results in many different varietals. Elements of the weather, such as the cool offshore breezes that cool the Sonoma County vineyards, are extremely important in the distinct growing condition needs for specific wine grapes.

The most important varietals produced in the California wine region are chardonnay and cabernet, though many other varietals from the region are massively popular such a pinot noir. The California wine region has a reputation for producing a high-quality wine to be enjoyed in a relaxed setting among friends, just the way its biggest fans would want it.

Merlot

Merlot is a popular thin-skinned red wine grape that is believed to be descended from the Cabernet Franc grape and was first recorded in Italy in 1832. It is used for both the purposes of blending inspired by the Bordeaux wine region of France and also for the production of straight varietal wine. In the 1990’s particularly, Merlot experienced a huge surge in popularity and became the new trendy wine but its popularity has proved to possess staying power. In 2003 there were over 50,000 acres in California devoted to the Merlot grape alone.

Some of the highest quality Merlots comes from Bordeaux, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Chile, and Washington State. These areas have elevated the historical planting of Merlot into better quality soils which have resulted in a Merlot that is less-suited for blending and perfect for its own varietal. The taste of a Merlot is dependent on the type of soil in which it was grown. For instance, Merlot from flatter and more clay-like soil results in a smoother, more velvety wine. Merlot grown in more mountainous regions tends to taste more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many Merlots tend to have a taste reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but they has less acidity due to a thinner skin in the grapes and earlier ripening time. It also frequently possesses a wide variety of flavors such as: currant, plum, black cherry, caramel, clove, bay leaf, bell pepper, olive, and violet. It is low in tannins and many wine drinkers believe that it is smooth and an easy-to-drink red varietal.

When blended, Merlot is often combined with Cabernet Sauvignon to balance the taste strengths and flavors of each separate varietal resulting in a blend with the best of both worlds. Another benefit to Merlot and the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends is that the cost is often substantially less than the fuller-bodied Cabert Sauvignon varietal itself.

Although many wine drinkers think that red wines should only be served right at room temperature, Merlot should actually be served a few degrees below room temperature as it can sometimes develop less pleasant tastes at approximately 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Chilling it for simply a couple minutes will ensure that the wine is slightly cooler and result in the best possible flavors.

Because Merlot is not quite as rich as some other red wine varietals, it is still fairly flexible in its easy pairings with many popular dinner choices. Because it is a medium-bodied wine, it will pair well with veal, meatloaf, sausages, and hearty pasta dishes.

Pinot Noir

Thanks to the recent movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has become much more widely acclaimed by the general wine-drinking population in recent years and multiplied quite drastically in popularity. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of France but today, has spread around the world to vastly differing wine regions which encompass almost all wine growing areas. Despite its worldwide popularity, Pinot Noir remains among the most difficult varietal grapes to cultivate efficiently as it is delicate and difficult to control in terms of preventing mutations of the grapes or any other unwanted variations which result in undesirable changes in the flavors or other characteristics present in the grapes.

Pinot Noir reaches its peak in flavor development when grown in cooler wine regions and has never reproduced the level of accuracy and perfection in development that it has achieved in its home in the Burgundy wine region. However, all Pinot Noir wines are typically a light hue of red which range from cherry to plum. They also possess a fragrant aroma encompassing notes of cherries, violets, berries, and spices. Like most other wines, Pinot Noir wines develop a greater complexity of flavors when aged. The aging process can contribute flavors reminiscent of leather and mushroom to the flavor dimensions of the wine.

Pinot Noir wines are usually considered light or medium-bodied as they are quite a delicate varietal which often also encompass fine silky tannins.

The Pinot Noir grapes, while notoriously difficult to grow efficiently, also become difficult to maintain consistency in the winemaking process. Winemakers struggle to modify the winemaking process for Pinot Noirs in order to find the optimal process to highlight the delicate flavor and structural aspects of this varietal. For example, winemakers must take great care in the aging of Pinot Noirs with oak barrels because the woody flavors can easily overtake the natural fragility of the flavors balanced within the Pinot Noir. Batches of Pinot Noir wine grapes can also be blended together in a way that masks the imperfections due to changes in the winemaking process or weakness inherent in the grapes themselves.

When pairing Pinot Noir wines with foods, remember to go easy on the spices, otherwise the delicate flavors of the Pinot Noir will be masked. Salmon is one of the best pairings for Pinot Noir wines, as the flavors are both fairly light but with a complexity that compliments the opposite quite nicely.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet is a term which encompasses a few different varietals: most notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon is a particularly popular varietal which arose from a grape developed by crossing the Cabernet Franc grape with the Sauvignon Blanc grape. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown red grape in most wine regions of the world and particularly the Boudreaux wine region in France. In other parts of the world Cabernet Sauvignon is also referred to as Petit Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure so it is important to keep those phrases in mind while abroad.

Additionally, since the 1960’s, Cabernet Sauvignon has been the most common varietal term for red wines due to it’s wide appeal and critical acclaim. Because it is so widely in demand in many wine circles, Cabernet Sauvignon becomes easily subjected to inflation-related cost increases as demand from wealthy wine-lovers drives prices upward. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grape Cabernet Franc is less popular because it is a less desirable grape than its grape offspring. However, it is quite often used as a blending element in mixed varietal wines, particularly with Merlot. A general tip for most novice wine consumers is that most bottled wines labeled Cabernet belong to the Cabernet Sauvignon family of grapes, rather than the Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive best in regions with long growing seasons due to a warm climate and reaches maturity quite late in the season. It also grows well in slightly arid areas with well-drained soil. These elements will allow the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to mature with a fruity taste, rather than the more herbal flavor that arises from the grape’s exposure to increased moisture and excessive soil-based nutrients during the growing process. The grapes themselves are comparatively small with a tough outer skin that protects the grapes from many elements. They are considerably resistant to disease and can be viewed as a fairly hardy grape varietal.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best aged wines. It is traditionally aged in small oak barrels for up to eighteen months before bottling. This aging period allows the wine to develop a greater complexity and depth of the flavors it encompasses. Some of the flavors which are most often attributed to Cabernet Sauvignon are: dark cherry, black currant, olive, pepper, cedar, and tobacco. Cabernet Sauvignon’s can also sometimes have spicy or earthy taste profiles as well.

Sirah – Shiraz

Shiraz currently accounts for one-fifth of all wine grape production in Australia and is one of the most widely harvested grapes in the country. Though the intense popularity of the rival red Cabernet Sauvignon has accounted for the secondary status of Shiraz in the minds of wine consumers in recent years, many vintners are beginning to revitalizing their Shiraz with new styles and methods of aging.

The Shiraz wine grape has an interesting history and place in the contemporary wine world as well. Generally described as “New World” wines, these wines are generally thought to be more fruity in their predominate flavors in opposition to the “Old World” wines which are often labeled Syrah. Because both variations of wine are derived from the same grape genetically, the differences between them are minimal to say the least. Some wine purveyors even maintain that the distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is in relation to style preferences only.

However, South Africa, Canada, and Australia are three of primary growing regions which refer to this varietal of wine as Shiraz rather than Syrah. These regions keep with the trend of identifying their exports with the New World wine classification of Shiraz which identifies it as a lighter and more aggressively fruity style of wine.

The Shiraz grape is commonly used in the production of red table wines which characteristically age well. Shiraz often reaches its prime complexity of flavor after approximately ten to fifteen years of aging; however it can easily be consumed much earlier in its aging process without sacrificing its excellent taste. It is also commonly used as a blending wine, although this occurs primarily in Spanish regions.

Shiraz wines are characteristically quite full-bodied and flavors vary easily depending on the physical characteristics of the wine region of its production. Some of the flavors most commonly attributed to Shiraz wines are: blackberry, chocolate, black pepper, plums, and spices. Shiraz also has soft tannins and varying degrees of oak flavors. They flourish especially in the wine regions of Australia with cooler, dry climates which allow for the berry finishes. Other Shiraz wine grapes grown in warmer climates tend to encompass the more mellow plum flavors.

Despite its frequent New World wine associations, Shiraz is one of the oldest known wine grape varietals. In fact, it is named for the city of the same name in Iran where wine-making may have originated many thousands of years ago.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel often gets a less-than-stellar reputation among the most pretentious of wine drinkers as it has recently held the reputation of being a “starter wine,” especially for women, due to its popular sweet taste in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, in the past several years, winemakers have responded to this prejudice against Zinfandels by improving the complexity and balance of flavors within their wines to make them a more palatable choice to the savvy wine consumer’s sophisticated sense of flavors.

What makes a wine more appealing to wine lovers? Complexity and fullness of the flavors are a few of the key aspects of a well-crafted wine. In Zinfanfels, a few of the most popularly described characteristics of the flavors are blackberry, raspberry, cherry, cloves, black pepper, and anise. However, depending on the complexity of the Zinfandel, many other levels of flavors may emerge, especially through a tasting in which you carefully give your attention to the subtleties released within the entire experience of the wine. Another interesting characteristic of Zinfandels is that they are also often mixed with others such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Syrah.

Because Zinfandels range from lighter-bodied whites to quite robust reds, they are no steadfast rules for which foods to pair with them. Some zinfandels do possess enough body and presence of flavors to drink even with a hearty steak or rich chocolate dessert. The lighter zinfandels can be a great pairing for Latin American and tropically-inspired foods.

Zinfandel originates from a distinctly American red-skinned Zinfandel wine grape that is used to make both red and white Zinfandels. Formally named in 1832, Zinfandels are traditionally defined as an American varietal and can occasionally be quite difficult to locate in overseas markets. It was recently discovered that Zinfandel grape is genetically identical to the Primotivo grape native to Italy. This discovery begins explains the previously unknown heritage of the Zinfandel grape’s development.

Californian vineries have come to embraced Zinfandels as their own characteristic varietal, leading the reputation of Zinfandel to become a representation and branding image for California wine. Some of the most popular regions for the production of Zinfandels are: Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino-Lake, Central Valley, Bay area, Sierra Foothills, and Southern California. However, Zinfandel’s aren’t exclusive to California and can be produced in American regions as distant as North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as overseas locations to which the Zinfandel grape has been exported.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay has become the most popular white wine in America in the past few decades. The reasons for this development are varied. The first is that Chardonnays possess a widely appealing taste often consisting of fruity and full-bodied buttery notes. Due to the wine’s versatility, it can possess many distinguishable variations of flavors and vintners can even mix Chardonnay with other varietals as a way to experience new flavors with blended wines. One of the other most important reasons for its popularity is that it’s widely available and can be quite inexpensive due to the small, hardy Chardonnay grapes resistance to many diseases and thus easier to grow in many conditions. Thus, the demand for Chardonnay becomes easily to fill, despite the fact that Chardonnay grapes are more delicate in the wine-making phase of development.

Some of the key distinguishing characteristics of this well-loved wine white are that it is dry and often quite full-bodied with the most popularly distinguished flavors and aromas mentioned in descriptions of Chardonnay are apple, melon, pears, lemon, and pineapple, as well as buttery, nutty, creamy, vanilla, oak, and citrus. Particularly when Chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, it develops a toasty or buttery quality along with a vanilla or coconut flavor which adds to the depth of the richness in the tasting experience. Many cheaper types of Chardonnay that try to achieve the oak-aged taste, use steel barrels with oak chips to lessen production costs while still obtaining similar flavors and textures within their wines.

Chardonnays are one of the most popular varietals grown in the California wine region but also flourish in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. In 2000, Chardonnay grapes accounted for 40 percent of the total white wine grapes planted in California wine regions and can thrive in many regions with quite distinguishably different weather patterns. French Chardonnays are also reputed to be of extremely high-quality and in fact, in the Chablis wine region of France, Chardonnay grapes are the only grape varietals allowed.

Today’s Chardonnays are less-heavily subjected to oak fermentation as public preference has shifted to lighter and crisper versions of this varietal. The reason for this preference can be viewed as a return from the past several decades in which all chardonnays were so heavily processed with malo-lactic fermentation and other aging techniques that even the most distinctive Chardonnays began to lose their distinctive flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a currently very popular white wine varietal. Californian Sauvignon Blanc is also occasionally referred to as Fume Blanc. The growth of Sauvignon Blanc grapes encompasses nearly 14,000 acres in California alone. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in regions such as South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Italy, France, Australia and can even be grown in surprising regions such as Canada and Long Island, New York.

Sauvignon Blanc is often viewed as the best white wine for many food combinations as its tangy, aggressive flavor pairs well with foods. It is especially well-matched with foods containing components such as peppers, garlic, cilantro smoked cheeses, and tomatoes which are foods that would ordinarily completely overpower even the strongest-flavored Chardonnays in addition to most other dry white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc possesses a unique aroma which makes it easily identifiable compared to other white wines. Its flavors tend to be classified as herbaceous such as those of lemongrass, gooseberry, and freshly mown grass. However, it also possesses some other more traditional flavors such as green melon, grapefruit, passion fruit, and bell pepper. Overall, Sauvignon Blanc is a strong, tangy, and flavorful varietal that outweighs many other white wines in intensity and sharpness of flavors.

Unlike many other wine varietals, Sauvignon Blanc is not frequently aged in oak barrels because it often departs an unfavorable taste combination. However, Sauvignon Blancs are frequently blended which is a technique that calms their occasionally abrasive tastes. Blending Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon (another wine varietal grown primarily in France) is a popular practice, especially in France’s legendary Boudreaux wine region, as the Semillon adds a fig flavor and softens the overall taste profile of the Sauvignon Blanc. The ratio of Semillon blended with the Sauvignon Blanc ranges on the region and occurs primarily in France. However, some versions are comprised of 70 percent Semillon and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties are comprised of the nearly inverse ratio of 75 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon. These blends are a perfect option for the wine consumers who enjoy some of the flavors of Sauvignon Blanc but find it a little too aggressive for their palates.

Because Sauvignon Blanc is still not as popular with many wine drinking consumers as its more popular cousin varietal Chardonnay, many quality Sauvignon Blanc are very economically priced. Combined with its perfection in matching many difficult to pair food combinations, Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice for a dinner party varietal.

Do you suffer from heavy metal toxicity?

Chances are you do. If you are suffering from symptoms such as; chronic fatigue, chronic infections from decreased immunity, autoimmune diseases, chronic candida overgrowth, and even cancer, heavy metal toxicity may be the root cause of it all.

Your Dr. may not be testing for heavy metal toxicity and prescribing medication instead without getting to the root of the problem. You need to know better.

Although mercury toxicity from amalgam dental fillings has recently gained some exposure, mercury is not the only dangerous heavy metal you need to be aware of.

Cadmium, aluminum, lead, and arsenic are some of the heavy metals we are exposed to just by breathing in the air around us. Industrial discharges, pesticide run offs, incinerator emissions, manufacturer smokestacks, and aviation, and auto vehicle exhaust all spew heavy metals into the air we breathe and the ground we get our water and food from.

Aluminum toxicity is also easily leached into processed, packaged food during manufacturing and packaging. Aluminum can leak from giant vats used in commercial kitchens, aluminum lined juice boxes, cans, and other packaging materials.

Cadmium is another heavy metal leaking into the environment on a continuous basis from a variety of sources. Commercial fertilizers, fish from polluted waters, burning fossil fuels, auto and industrial exhaust, the incineration of plastics and batteries, all affect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, contributing to nationwide heavy metal toxicity.

There is actually an average daily intake of cadmium exposure of 30 micrograms. People who smoke or work with metals may be exposed more heavily. Smoking one cigarette provides 2 micro grams of cadmium, and people who smoke don’t smoke just one cigarette.

As cadmium stockpiles in the kidneys, symptoms of heavy metal toxicity begin to show as hypertension, or arterial disease with ringing in the ears. Cadmium toxicity can interfere with intestinal absorption of calcium and other minerals leading to osteoporosis, or anemia.

Without any detoxification protocols it takes the body 10-30 yrs to naturally rid itself of half of its cadmium. But we are still getting a dose of it every day! And since cadmium exposure is not decreasing any time soon, you make the calculation of where that leaves you!

It may take 20-50 yrs. to accumulate enough heavy metals to actually cause heavy metal toxicity symptoms, and damage such as hypertension, osteoporosis, arthritis or cancer. Since our children today are already born with higher levels of toxicity, it may not be long before we see younger and younger people suffering from heavy metal toxicity symptoms which look like diseases we normally associate with old age.

Cancer can be caused by cadmium toxicity, and if there is a heavy cadmium burden which is not eliminated, it may not allow healing to occur.

If research scientists need rats with cancer of the prostate all they need to do is give them a dose of cadmium. The cadmium has a remarkable ability to zero in on the prostate and testicles as target organs.

Although it has been known for over 35 years that cadmium toxicity is one of the factors leading to prostate cancer, we are still not being advised by family doctors, or oncologists, on how to take precautions to prevent cadmium toxicity and cancer.

Cadmium heavy metal toxicity is like a thief in the night that doesn’t leave footprints.

Cadmium affects the thyroid function by lowering the T3 active thyroid hormone, although it does not raise the TSH which is the brains message to produce more thyroid hormone. When doctors test for thyroid function they test the TSH levels which most often appear normal despite lowered T3 levels.

With a normal lab test result, physicians will often blame their patients for complaining and overreacting, instead of taking the complaints serious.

It is important to have adequate levels of zinc, as fortunately zinc is able to displace the cadmium and kick it out of prostate storage. Selenium is also effective in protecting the body against cadmium toxicity.

High levels of nutrients that assist detoxification are of utmost importance to keep from developing symptoms of heavy metal toxicity.

Are you in the mood for some delicious cold appetizer recipe ideas? If you are, you are in luck, because we love eating great tasting foods and we have some great ideas to share with you. Whether you are meal planning to feed a hungry crew at home or you need to prepare a fast and easy recipe to take to a holiday party, you want to make something so good that no one can get enough of it. You actually want to create the best tasting and flavorful dish you can.

Easy Party Appetizers for Your Next BBQ Grilling Party

Do you realize that some of the most delicious of appetizers are most welcome in any setting? Whether you are having a small family barbeque grilling party or you are planning the menu for your wedding, you want to serve foods and beverages that are unforgettable. Serving a dish that everyone likes is special, and you will know just how special as you watch people return for more or ask you how to make it.

Recipe for Creamy Onion Artichoke Dip

What You Need

 

  • ½ package soften cream cheese 4 ounce
  • 1 large container onion dip 15.5 ounce
  • 1 large container drained chopped artichoke hearts 15.5 ounce
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup diced scallions
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cups diced bell pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound round bread
  • Assorted fresh cut vegetables
  • Assorted crackers

 

How to Make It

Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature by setting it out on the counter for at least 20 minutes before preparation time. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the diced scallions for garnish.

Using a large mixing bowl you will add the soften cream cheese and then beat until fluffy and smooth. Stir in the onion dip and then add the artichoke hearts. Mix to thoroughly combine.

Add the parsley, scallions, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients completely and then place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Cut the top third of the bread horizontally off using a serrated knife. Cut along the inside edge of the bread and then remove the large pieces of bread you cut away. Trim the inside edge to about a ½ inch thickness, leaving the bread shell. Cut the large bread pieces into 1 inch bite size cubes and then reserve the bread cubes.

Spoon the creamy onion artichoke dip into the bread shell and then garnish with the 1 tablespoon of reserved scallions and the bell peppers before serving.

Alternately, you can make this dip and leave it in the bowl for dipping if you are not using round bread with this recipe. Choosing red, green or yellow bell peppers with add some color interest.

Serve to your party guests, family, and friends with plenty of fresh cut vegetables, assorted crackers and the reserved bread cubes. Another great idea is to prepare the bread cubes by brushing them with herbed butter and then toasting them in the oven.