Posts from August 2006

A 4 mile walk above the Rain Forest...Ariau Amazon Towers

Funny how sometimes stories just come to you. Having a conversation with a fellow Montclair resident, Jill Siegel, I discovered that she lived for a number of years in Brazil and upon her return to the USA turned her love of Brazil into a business. She brought to my attention the Ariau Amazon Towers which sound like a walk in the clouds to me, The facility is located 35 miles from Manaus and the individual towers Amazon_1 are linked by wooden catwalks which allow visitors to admire the flor and fauna without arming it.
The picture of the location says more than a thousand words so I will stop there.
My only experience of Brazil is its music and meeting a few of its citizens.

Renting Web 2.0: Digital Pictures, Maps and More

Having just helped a (West Coast) client of my New Jersey Concierges service find an (East Coast) apartment, I felt like sharing a few lessons learned with potential landlords.
First of all if you are going to show your place, make sure it is clutter and mess free, clean the place, spruce it up, make the kitchen and bathroom look appealing.
It might sound like common sense but you would be surprised to know how many disasters I had to see.
On the technical side, in our Web 2.0 world, you should have a number of digital photos of the front and back of the house, parking and of course the apartment itself available. A simple floor plan and a Google Map of your location could come handy. It will smooth the process and save time for all parties.
If you want to do without the services of a Broker or a Realtor, start by listing your Rental on Craigslist. Doing so might also land your place on My Apartment Map a new service that I covered recently in Locate Apartments for rent in 12 Big US metros.
Another place where you can list your Rental is Edgeio.
All the suggestions I just made are Free or Low Cost unless your Kitchen, Carpet or Bathroom need a major makeover.
If you are more ambitious and tech savvy, you could even set up a Blog Page for your place including the photos, floor plan and Google Map that I mentioned earlier, all in one place. You could for example try VOX, the new (free) service from Six Apart.
All you have to share then is the page web address.
Most of the things I just shared apply to the USA.
I only know of one service called New York Habitat that besides New York offers apartments in London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and the South of France.
If you know of useful services in other parts of the world feel free to share them with us.
We would be glad to include them in a follow up and credit you as the source.

Around the World in a Few Clicks with CityDailyPhoto

What started with Paris Daily Photo has now expanded to a network of a 100 cities so whether you are planning a trip to a place you never visited and want to get an inside look and inside scoops or just dream of a vacation, take a look. Uphill_1 If you want to discover places at random shuffle with the City Daily Photo Globe ring which you can find on any of the Daily Photo Sites. Enjoy your exploration.

To illustrate this topic I chose a photo of a Uphill Road courtesy of Stefan who brings us Photos from Haninge, a small town in Sweden.

If you like to discover people and places Turn Here which I covered in June as Turn Here offers Video Guides is also worth a visit.

Let your spirit fly!

Yahoo's New Real Estate Site come up short on Rentals side in my New Jersey area

After reading that Yahoo Real Estate relaunched today, I decided to give it a Test Drive. As most of my New Jersey Concierges clients moving to the area are looking for rentals, I took the Rental Search for a spin. In my hometown of Montclair, I could only find a $1400.00 1BR apartment. In neighboring Verona, I came up empty. I hope they improve their listings or maybe they are only focused on the buyer's market. Time will tell.
In any case right now a mainstream player comes up looking like a smalltime one. Disappointing...

Jammin'...Not with Bob...With Fruits and Ginger

The Jammin' here is not by Bob Marley and the Wailers, it is one of Fruits and Berries and Ginger and more. My frequent visits to La Tartine Gourmande bring back childhood memories. Those were the days when I could go for a walk in the nearby countryside in my birth place of Lanester and come back with a bounty of wild berries or chestnuts depending on the season. All I needed was a wire mesh basket to drop my findings in. If it was berries, upon my return I would deliver the goods to my grandmother who would turn them into delicious home made jams. Chestnuts would become a spread.
Bea of La Tartine Gourmande got me thinking of this with her All Sort of Jams tutorial. Confiture The french word Tartine means slice of bread. It is not until my teenage years that I started eating cereals. Until then breakfast consisted of bread, butter and jelly (and coffee) most of the time. A variation would be croissants or homemade crepes.
The same day, Pascale of C'est moi qui l'a fait offered A Dark Chocolate and Praline Spread recipe (in French only).
In Sydney, Helen of Grab your Fork found a Ginger Marmelade amongst other things she covers in Just Desserts at The Boulevard Markets. My friend Monick who likes all things ginger would be delighted by one of these.

Thanks to Bea for letting me use her 'Tartine de Confiture' photo as an illustration.

Accessorize your Bike with Topeak

Maybe you ride your bike to work or to the nearest commuter train station. Perhaps you use it for a quick run to the post office, the bank or your favorite food source. In all cases, you need to accessorize. I just discovered Topeak whose motto is prepare to ride. They offer well designed bags, lights (for a safe ride after dark)and much more. If you are an outdoors fan they even have the Bikamper, a Bike Tent (pictured here) Bikamper that anchors the tent on your Bike and sleeps one. Topeak is based in Foxborough, Massachusetts and has been offering innovative gear since 1991.
For more Bike News you can also visit Bike Hugger which I wrote about in Green Like a Bike Hugger earlier this month.

I discovered Topeak on Coudal.

1944 (and 5 more) reasons to love the French

I previously mentioned a little book called A Year in the Merde, a humourous look at surviving Paris and Parisians. Adam Jones piece 1944 reasons to love the French in today's Financial Times points to a surprise hit in French bookstores this summer, When you will be in France: Instructions to British soldiers. Instructions_1 This pamphlet was originally given to British servicemen before le debarquement.

Let me add 5 more reasons to the list:

-Pierre André Senizergues, a former skateboarder and  the man who brought us brands with street cred such as Etnies.

-Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini for proving that techies can have communication skills and become successful food writers.

-Paris Plage for bringing the beach to the city (through Paris Daily Photo)

-Film director Francois Truffaut for wonderful slices of life

-Grasse (Provence) for the scenery, perfumes, fragrances and parfumeurs such as Fragonard.

Have a good week-end!

5 Things To Eat Before You Die: A Guide to the Globe

Back in March, I wrote about 50 things you should eat before you die as compiled by the BBC. From Edinburgh, Scotland, Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox went searching for a more global view with a List of 5 things to Eat before you Die (the Foodblogger's guide to the globe) or should we call it My Favorite Things.

So here's what my TOP 5 would look like today:
-Cassoulet in Castelnaudary
-Seafood Paella as enjoyed a long time ago in Barcelona in a restaurant on the Harbor.
-The spiciest meal I ever had: a Vegetarian Couscous in Cordoba, Spain
-A homely Lunch of Grilled Sardines served on toasted bread with a mustard spread.
-Galettes de Ble Noir dipped in Lait Caille (curdled milk) in Brittany.
Except for the Sardines, the other 4 would give me an excuse to revisit a few places I traveled to.

Thanks to Bea of La Tartine Gourmande for bringing this topic to my attention.

This 'Piranha' (Pyranna) pries open sharp edged plastic shells

I rarely mention any of these As Seen on TV products but this 'piranha' has useful teeth. The Pyranna plastic package opener pries open the plastic shells Pyranna that now grace many consumer products from Flash Drives to Memory Sticks to Toys and more. A first hand demonstration yesterday convinced me of its usefulness. Say goodbye to these nasty finger cuts caused by sharp plastic edges. It is for now only available online ($9.95 each).

Interruption Overload, Pickles and Time Management

Being always and easily connected can make starting something and finishing it in a timely fashion difficult. Warning: information overload (registration required) by Rhymer Rigby in today's Financial Times and Time Management: The Pickle Jar Theory by Jeremy Wright (2002, from the Archives of A List Apart) speak to the same topic of Overload. The same tools (Blackberry, E-Mail- Instant Messaging, Cell Phones and the rest) that are supposed to make us more efficient happen to disrupt our work. We lose lose focus on the task at hand, feel frustrated. Being bombarded by many type of messages, we try to cram as many things as we can in a day. Jeremy Wright offers a saner theory of picking the few tasks that really matter today and if there is time left for the rest fine. It echoes one of my favorite Tom Peters ideas,  To Don't Lists.
The overload/ overprogramming has even spilled over into our 'down' or 'vacation' time, like we need to justify that the time 'off' is time well spent.
Last Sunday, the best part of the day was the idle time I spent sipping my coffee outdoors at a Cafe, daydreaming and baking in the midday sun like a happy lizard.
There is work but one still needs to eat, sleep and unwind.