12 Days of Giving Back Day 4

While I will admit I fell behind due to life getting in the way, here is Day 4 of my Giving Back series.


Pura Vida which means Pure life in spanish, is more than a slogan. The Bracelets which are made by local Costa Rican Artisans do more than just employee the local population but also give back to over 190 charities.

The company which was founded 5 years ago by California transplants, takes the simple idea of the friendship bracelet we all knew from camp and after school programs and gives it new meaning.


The bracelets which can be bought in stacks or as single bracelets and turned into custom stacks provide limitless options, but also give the wearer the ability to give back to a charity of their choosing.

Pura Vida have also worked with known names and companies to provide custom stacks that reflect the designer. I had first heard of the company from the Yoga Girl instagram who is a well known yoga instructor from Aruba.

From 1% for the planet to even a bracelet for the recent Paris attacks, there are plenty to choose from. Since starting the company there are now options for charms and even more beaded styles, along with the original styles created. The bracelets are also water proof and have a metal charm which are coated to not rust as well.

So far the company has made $666,721 in lifetime donations, and much like other one for one companies they provide opportunities to become reps and even internships for people looking to get more involved.

Pura Vida can be followed across Social Media and bracelets can be shopped here.

Food and Wine 2015, 20 years of delicious Part 2

After life took over for about a week, I am back with second half of my Food and Wine 2015 experience. I went the second weekend October 2 and as I mentioned last time I went in with a plan.

I was traveling with my boyfriend and mom, and we had agreed was as a group that France was the tastiest. In this post I’ll finish up my food experiences and most of all my love of Mmmhops and craft beer.

From France we jumped over to Brazil, Brazil has to arguably be the most popular stand in the whole park. Every year I have gone the line is usually the longest at the event, probably only second to the Dominican Republic. Though the long line is with reason, I had skipped over it last year due to lack of money but this year I went in with 2 picks. The only thing I didn’t try was the frozen caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil and probably the most popular item sold there.


Pão de queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread & Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomatoes.

The Pão de queijo or Cheese Bread has to the most popular food item, I always see people knocking these back and with reason. It’s warm and crispy on the outside, but inside you’ll find gooey cheese and the cheese is deliciously salty. I couldn’t begin to assume what kind of cheese it was but it was so good, and it is one of the few items I was able to split with my boyfriend since it brought two pieces.

As for the Crispy Pork Belly, it was melt in your mouth but still had that nice charred edge so it lived up to its name. The other thing that should be noted about the pork belly is that normally these are fatty pieces, which is from the pig’s belly (if you couldn’t guess) and is the same region we get bacon from. The fat on this was so soft and broke down so nicely it was wonderful, I could have eaten the whole chunk by myself. Though I will say the best part of this dish was the beans with the chunks of tomatoes, they were almost close to a puree and so well seasoned, I would have eaten just a plate with beans.

After such a wonderful dish, and my wanting a plate of beans it was time to for dessert. By the time I finished the pork belly, I was pretty stuffed and ready for some sweets I was also planning to leave room for beer which I was pining for.

Unlike last year where I drank a bit more as opposed to eating, this year I set out for food and food only. So we left my mom on a bench between France and Morocco and headed back to the UK to Ireland.

Warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Warm chocolate pudding with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

I actually had tasted this last year, my friend got it and I was hooked. Now it’s listed as a pudding, but it’s actually closer to a brownie because the inside is gooey like a warm fresh brownie, but it also may remind others of like a molten chocolate cake with a firmer center.

The highlight of this dish for me, the Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, first off I LOVE Kerrygold butter it’s creamier than traditional U.S. butter. Second it just works with this heavy little piece of chocolate because it balances out the chocolate, if you’ve had an Irish Cream shake with chocolate syrup this is the non-alcoholic cousin who is a solid. I can’t describe the liqueur custard without calling it a warm hug from your grandma? Or perhaps like a nice warm blanket on a cool night? Either way it is amazing, it’s the perfect compliment to the “pudding”

My boyfriend’s choice of dessert was the Apple Strudel from Germany, I will preface by saying this if you’ve eaten in Germany’s buffet restaurant you can skip this one.

Apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

Apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

I am not big on this dessert whether it is served part of Food and Wine or in the restaurant. I have kind of an issue with the pastry shells, since they usually get goopy after sitting around for too long. Though the apple filling and warm vanilla custard are amazing, the pastry shell ruins it for me. I ate at Germany the night after this, and I was just not impressed in there either. Again I think this is one of those desserts that truly needs to be served fresh and not be left sitting there.

We continued through the world showcase after this trying to walk off the food and walking in through the themed gift shops.

Light up cherry blossoms available in Japan for purchase.

Light up cherry blossoms available in Japan for purchase.

We stopped in the American Adventure for 2 reasons, my mom wanted a Lobster roll and I wanted Hanson Brothers Mmmhops Pale Ale. I for some odd reason did not take a photo of the lobster roll, but I will say it was very good and the bits of lobster were crunchy but well seasoned, it was also not drowning in sauce which is an issue I have encountered before.

So let me say I tried Mmmhops last year, I still love it as much as I did then. I also jammed out to Hanson when I was a child in the 90s, they were the lead up to my obsession with NSync.

Hanson is also scheduled to perform at Eat to Beat at this year’s Food and Wine on the November 10 & 12, it is also one of the last performances of the festival.

Back to Mmmhops though, I love beer especially good craft beer. I came back this year with the intent to try the beer flight at the craft beer center in the Odyssey as mentioned previously.

Hanson Brothers Mmmhops Pale Ale

Hanson Brothers Mmmhops Pale Ale

Despite the darkness in the photo, it does pour out in an Amber tone. The beer is medium bodied so if you aren’t into dark beers try this one, it also has some nice fruity undertones to it which give a balance to the hops. Like I said this is one of my favorite beers in the world and I normally prefer strong dark beers. It is available at Total Wine if you can’t make it out for Food and Wine, and you have to try it.

Craft Beer Flight 2 with snack mix cones in the back.

Craft Beer Flight 2 with snack mix cones in the back.

We ended up running into the Craft Beer area, after it began down pouring and we got soaked. This was our last stop either way, because I had come here with one mission only. Funky Buddha was doing a Vanilla Espresso Porter for the event, Funky Buddha is my local brewery in Broward County, FL.

When I first tried Funky Buddha, I hated it. I continued to try and stomach the Floridian and Hop Gun, both of which Yelp raves about but I never could drink it. Even my editor at the paper I work at kept telling me to try others because I was being unfair, so I did. Long story short I am converted and I love the stuff.

Their Vanilla Espresso Porter is a strikingly dark beer with heavy coffee notes and a smooth vanilla finish, it has to be one of my favorites they have done.

All the beers at Craft Beer are also Florida brews, and flight 2 is all the darker beers with the exception of the one Amber which is the 3 Daughters from St. Petersburg. This beer is also exceptionally good in the sense that it had a nice fruity and floral scent to it and just reminded me of a summer day in Florida. The Shipyard Barrel Ale in this flight is nice and oaky and should be sipped, if you’ve ever had the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale this is it’s cousin. Finally in this flight Florida Beer Company Passport 20 Belgium-Style Triple Ale, another semi light one like the 3 Daughters.

Germany Booth

Germany Booth

While I didn’t try EVERY booth, I think the ones I did try were great and absolutely delicious. I plan to return next year, since I am not able to get anymore Vacation Club rooms till 2016. But I do suggest getting a gift card in order to not have to fumble with your credit card at every stand, and as I mentioned come into this with a plan.

I mentioned in the first post that one of the plates was Disney Dining Plan snack eligible, all of the items are considered a snack on the Dining Plan. So get out there and eat your way around the world, I also want to thank my boyfriend who was awesome and held ALL the plates for me while I photographed them.

You can see more of my Disney photos on my Deviant Art, the link is in my about page and you can also follow me on Instagram @DancinginMadrid.

Luck of the Irish… Airline that is.

We’ve all dreamed of that moment, strolling along the Seine in Paris, looking up and seeing the beautiful Eiffel tower in front of you.

For many this will always be a dream, the price of transatlantic flying has gone up in recent years.

While many of us can afford a domestic flight or even swing a flight down to Mexico or the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of the world are unattainable.

Though in a statement released Monday, Irish airline Ryanair which has been operating as a low cost carrier in the EU is considering transatlantic flights for as low as 15 USD. But that is not feasible for another 5 years or so and that is permitting that they get the long haul aircraft needed for this.

There is a catch to all this right? Of course there is, because low-cost flying is no frills flying. Florida based Spirit Airlines has perfected the Ryanair model here in the states and offers fares as low as 5 dollars but what is the catch?

Well you have to pay for luggage, carry on, seat fee and even on board snacks so by the end of it you have amassed a 200 dollar tickets without realizing it. Ryanair follows the same principle in their EU market but like Spirit they have become successful in their business and continue to fly routes daily through Europe.

So that leads to the question of would 500 dollars be a steal to jump from the US to the EU? Compared to the usual 2,000+ dollars in roundtrip tickets the business model could be successful for the low cost traveller and even the study abroad student.

According to CNN Money the route has been seen by many other low cost carriers and has failed, such as Eos Airlines, MAXJet and Silverjet which saw Silverjet absorbed into British Airways in the end.

But Ryanair would have to learn from the mistake of others in order to become successful in such a tough market, the question here is would you travel with Ryanair to fulfill your Paris dream or will you keep dreaming?

Yo Kim ya didn’t break the internet but lets talk Photogs

This week saw a huge surge in news, from landing a probe on a moving comet to Kim Kardashian-West bearing her most famous asset on the cover of Paper magazine. While the bum made more news waves than the science, it isn’t surprising the comments coming in are both negative and positive.

But the most important comment one can make about this photograph is that it’s been done before. Yes, let’s collect our shock together and continue on. Jean-Paul Goude is famous for his photography, he dated model Grace Jones back in the 1970s and even created a coffee table book of images of her. But that’s the thing, everything he’s ever been done relies on photo manipulation and editing. It’s why Kardashin has the smallest waist anyone can imagine and her bum is as big as the comet we landed on this week.

Goude has admitted to manipulating his images in order to please his ideal of the perfect woman of color. So it’s no surprise the photos of Kardashian have some serious editing to them. Even the champagne photo of her balancing the glass has been done before and Goude admits to him that is the ideal woman of color. The Grio published a story earlier this week about Kardashian being the literal butt of an old racial joke, so what does this say about our society?

Social media was quick to judge the mother and wife about keeping her clothes on, women said they wanted her body albeit being an almost impossible standard to reach. So it poses the biggest question who is wrong here? Is it Kardashian who has gotten naked before or Goude who manipulated the images beyond recognition? When asked, it would have to be Goude who creates what he thinks is beautiful. Thus reality of the actual human woman beyond becomes skewed.

How society views women and how women view themselves comes into questioning with this latest photoshop fiasco. Especially since Goude prides himself to be someone that has created photo manipulations LONG before the computer was available. The Grio mentions in their article as well “At best, these pictures are recycled art, and at worst, they are lazy sensationalism — but innovative they are not.” Which is true, Kardashian was so proud of her work and the internet fed right into it. No one bothered to look up the photographer, when famed photographer Annie Lebovitz featured Miley Cyrus in just a sheet the internet dug up every photo she ever took. Everyone became so upset that all her work was called into question, so what happened here? No one bothered to look up Goude’s work or the photographer himself.

Goude has iconic work of his ex Jones, but the problem here are the images in question. The work is a sexualization of women of color, it is a view of women from a man’s lens who openly admits that his work sexualizing to women of color. Again The Grio cites the original work where Kardashian is balancing a glass on her rear end was called Jungle Fever. It is a sexualization of women of color and Kardashian fell victim to this, because for some odd reason no one did research or bothered to look into it.

The New York Times ‘The Cut’ section which deals with art, music and photography goes into greater detail about Goude’s techniques. Which questions his use of photoshop, though the photographer has used other techniques to get his end results. He has used everything from multiple images glued together, to posing models to get their best side. But it is clear and evident Kardashian has been photoshopped, everything from her skin to the shape of her figure comes into question. The reality star is no stranger to edits, which includes her personal photos on instagram. So why are these any different? Again the message this photo sends is one that is all negative down to the core.

Granted, you can argue it’s all a matter of opinion but if you go through the comments on social media women are pining for this body and men are sexualizing it to no end. Did Goude reach his ultimate goal? Did society sink so low it becomes about demoralizing as opposed to fighting the racism and sexism created? Is it just art? There are a lot of factors that come into play here and it begs the question, when did it become okay?

We live in a society that sexualizes women while bringing them down for being confident in their own skin. It’s a gross double standard, and men fall victim to it as well. Because there is no ideal man or woman, just what the media feeds and what we are told to believe. So when will this change? When will society say enough, and just love each other? It clearly isn’t with this image or Goude’s work.