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There are 600 million adolescent girls living in the developing world – the majority living in poverty. By giving one of these girls a chance, you start the Girl Effect. When girls have safe places to meet, education, legal protection, health care, and access to training and job skills, they can thrive. And if they thrive, everyone around them thrives, too.

Did you know? (from the Girl Effect fact sheet)

  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
    (George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881 [Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
  • Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.
    (George T. Bicego and J. Ties Boerma, “Maternal Education and Child Survival: A Comparative Study of Survey Data from 17 Countries,” Social Science and Medicine 36 (9) [May 1993]: 1207–27.)
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
    (Phil Borges, with foreword by Madeleine Albright, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World [New York: Rizzoli, 2007], 13.)

The Nike Foundation and NoVo Foundation have a shared mission to create opportunities for girls and the world. They believe in the positive impact educating and empowering girls can have on a community.

Grow Interactive, a Norfolk-based interactive advertising and design studio, teamed up with leading independent advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy (from my home town), to develop the Girl Effect campaign. Brilliant. Powerful. Captivating. Regardless of your personal philanthropic beliefs or views of these companies, they should be praised for their creativity and remarkable use of typography.

Watch the video. Make a difference. Be significant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIvmE4_KMNw

Puppy Love

If you’ve been following my puppy posts (all four of them) you know I’ve been super excited to finally be in a good space and situation in my life to add a puppy in the mix (read: not working a gazillion hours, traveling around the globe, and generally just being too stinking busy most of the time). Fattie and I researched local Swedish breeders, sent a bucketful of emails, spoke to some over the top folks (memories of the hilarious spoof Best In Showwhich pokes fun at these ‘kooky dog show people’ who take themselves way too seriously came flooding in – check out this famous clip of Parker Posey ~ Where’s the Busy Bee?), and finally stumbled upon a wonderful breeder who was just getting ready to have a litter from one of her prized bitches.

After meeting with her and her family we reserved a baby French bulldog puppy who was born about three weeks ago. But like all good stories there is a surprising twist…..we have ultimately decided not to bring home one of those French bulldog puppies. I know, kinda sad.

But the really exciting news is………we opted to take home this little cutie instead.

We saw Jasper on our initial visit to the kennel to meet the pregnant mama, Esther, who was due to have puppies any day. We fell in love with this black bundle of cuteness (his current owners call him Jeppe, pronounced ‘yep-pee’, which is apparently a nickname for Jasper) but wasn’t aware he was available.

Attentive, kind, with deep thoughtful eyes, Jasper has an amazing pedigree with champion parents in Holland. He’s adorable. This dawggie is just under a year old so technically he is still a puppy – but comes with the benefit of already being house trained. (a MAJOR, MAJOR plus!)

And the extra bonus is……our cute new dawggie doesn’t even snore! Which I hear is pretty rare for a Frenchie.

We get to pick up Jasper (after some vaccines, a thorough health check, and some tedious paperwork) and bring him home next week.

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any great puppy advice or any how to welcome-home-&-acclimate-a-new-dog suggestions!

Dr. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. On September 18, 2007, after just a month of being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, he gave his last lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in a packed McConomy Auditorium. Inspiring others, he speaks about his life lessons and encourages others to achieve their childhood dreams. Randy passed away on July 25th at the age of forty-seven. He left behind a wife and three very young children. The gifted professor said the last lecture was meant to be a “message in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children.”

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and skip So You Think You Can Dance to watch this instead. There’s a pretty good stinking reason it’s been downloaded over 10 million times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxS

And the best selling book…….

Gucci & The Lucky Number 8

In celebration of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the Italian fashion house Gucci announced a special limited 8-8-2008 collection of just eight fashion accessories. And as you know, eight is considered the luckiest number in Chinese culture. The bold red color evokes “happiness” and “celebration”, two emotions that couldn’t be more appropriate to describe the excitement in the sports world, according to Gucci creative director Frida Giannini.

The highly anticipated item of the campaign is the hot new I-Gucci watch with a steel frame and a smooth black face and is unique to the 8-8-08 campaign. It also happens to be the first digital time piece Gucci has ever released and the only item that will debut worldwide.

You can view the rest of the collection which also include; men’s and women’s sport shoes, a sterling silver military tag inspired necklace (uh, yes, please!), a Mahjong set covered in red La Pelle Guccissima leather, and a leather stuffed panda bear, all which will be exclusively sold through the Gucci Hong Kong and China stores, here.

Would it be too much to add the bike to my Christmas list? It’s only $3,420.


Yesterday was a great day. Having the day off I decided to spend some time alone shopping and running errands. Even though my blog doesn’t reflect it, I do like love shopping. It’s not the actual act of buying lots of stuff it’s more finding that fabulous piece at just the right price. (Okay. Who am I kidding? Maybe there is something to buying loads of goodies…..)

I have many reasons to squeal like an over-excited-schoolgirl being chased on the playground by her-favorite-snot-nose-crush today, but here are just a couple simple ones:

1. IKEA. Yes, IKEA in Sweden is the same old place as in the states only with funny looking signs, sing-song Swedish being spoken, and a grip of Swedes downing meatballs and sipping on lignon berry juice. And yes, regardless of what country you’re located in, I realize shopping and especially shopping at IKEA is a nightmare for most folks – including Fattie, so I was delighted to trot down there with me, myself, and I. With hours to browse, measure, and contemplate that perfectly cheap disposable item, I was happy and in my element.

Now I don’t live for IKEA and my house is NOT a home filled with IKEA “stuff” and neither are most Swedes homes I have visited, but it is certainly amusing to find that one item that does work and doesn’t set you back a truckload of dough.

I ended up with these gorgeous plates/bowls.

I know they’re not high-end expensive china from a designer store but I just love, love, love these bowls! I already own a complete set of 365+ dishes but had been on the hunt for awhile for this type of deep plate-bowl combo. These everyday white bowls, that I plan to serve just about everything in, are also from IKEA’s 365+ Dinnerware Series and designed by Susan Pryke. They run $5.99 in the states and 59:- Swedish kroner here, roughly $10.00 each (grrrrr, I loath paying more – but had to remind myself of the 25% sales tax here – not kidding). Even with the thought of shelling out a bit more coin, I was thrilled and loaded up my cart with twenty of these bad boys. Twenty? Yup, twenty. See Fattie has four brothers and sisters, so with spouses, children, and in-laws busting in for some chow it’s easily twelve hungry relatives at any given time and I assume that number is only going to get larger as more folks are added into the mix. I adore entertaining and a girl can’t have enough dishes…..So, I need want place settings for thirty but for now am settling on three different sets of twenty each. That should be good.

Just one of many cabinets loaded with white dishes....

I also snagged some white square appetizer plates from the same 365+ line. I had been eyeing similar porcelain plates at Crate and Barrel but had completely spaced picking them up before I left the states. Since I was getting the square side plates I knew I just must have the dinner plates, and these adorable little side/sauce cups as well. Uh-huh, twenty of each of those too. And before I knew it, I also threw in some new Cognac and dessert wine glasses. (shhh…don’t tell Fattie…..they are washed, dried, and put away so he hasn’t noticed yet)

Just some glassware...

Flying high from my kitchen fix, I stumbled on these bad boys in hammered silver.

I adore lamps. I had close to thirty-some-odd lamps at my home in the states – and for a single girl living on her own, I’ve been told that’s a lot.

So, yeah. I love lighting…..and yeah, not the over head variety. Uh, unless of course it’s a chandelier. As you can probably determine on your own, due to the electrical and voltage difference here in Europe, my fabulous lamps could not make the journey to Sweden. (insert sad face here). This past year I’ve been looking left and right for some affordable lighting. You thought gas was expensive, jeez, just try to purchase a few lamps…. (and no complaints from US folks please….gas is running close to $10.00 a gallon here!) These babies weren’t exactly the “right” price but they were less than most others I had run across and I actually liked the chunky design. The bonus? A built in dimmer switch. Yeah! $39.99 in the states and 450:- Swedish kroner here, roughly $75.00 for the lamp base plus another 22 bones for the shade. So, at about 100 bucks a pop I somehow managed to squeeze two in hammered silver and two in dark brown into my already over stuffed cart. Lovely.

2. Fattie. He’s such a love. And generously agreed to some IKEA assembly. I know putting together anything from IKEA is Fattie’s nemesis and probably everyone’s worst horror, so the fact that after a hard day at a work he cracked a beer, rolled up his sleeves, and jumped in with a big smile on his face just makes me love him even more. He deserves a big squeeze.

3. Mail. More precisely any mail that is not a bill or an advertisement. Upon arriving home to unpack my treasures I was greeted by a big brown package on the porch. And a package from the states! Did I already mention how much I like getting mail…..! My brother and his wife spent a few weeks in Europe last month for our wedding and a European sight-seeing-adventure. We had a glorious time together and seriously can’t wait for them to get their booties over here so we can do it again next year. As a thank you Joe, Janet, Jameson, and Jenna (yes, that’s a lot of J’s) sent me us the most wonderful package ever! Filled with treats from home. I’m sure the neighbors heard me squealing like a little piglet! I had a grin on my face all night. The highlights are:

  • Ziploc baggies IN GALLON SIZE! Seriously I know it’s not environmentally friendly but I miss Ziploc bags. I might even turn into one of those little ladies who wash them out and reuse them. I mean is that really so bad? Don’t tempt me….
  • Kitchen Calculator Pro! Oh, I am in love. I had mentioned back in April I wanted one of these useful gadgets to help with my cooking adventures and am over the top thrilled to have it in my hot hands.
  • iPod accessories. My sweet twelve year old niece noticed me eyeing her cool iPod cover so she decided I needed one too. How thoughtful. And the cutest pug card to go along with it. Thank you Jenna!
  • Baking soda! OMG. You just don’t know how much you miss something as simple as Arm & Hammer baking soda until you get over here and try to whip up some of your favorite cookies….This is brilliant!

This package not only made me giggle and smile it truly warmed my heart. Thank you so much! It’s the little things from home that bring comfort when you are far away. And their thoughtfulness made me happy.

I am feeling full of gratitude. Thankful I could afford the gas to drive to IKEA to load up on kitchen goodies, thankful for Fattie who never complains and loves me perfectly, and so grateful for my wonderful family.

See, I really am a simple happy girl.

Flavors of Summer

Even thought it’s currently coming down in buckets outside it’s still summer and that means it’s officially grill season. The smell of barbeque seems to be drifting from every corner so we joined the masses and fired up our grill for some tasty treats. I adore outdoor cooking and keep my grill handy all year round for a quick fix. I was hankering for some old fashion comfort food so decided on BBQ ribs with homemade BBQ sauce, sweet potato fries sprinkled with basil salt served with garlic lemon mayo (I could eat these all by themselves for a meal!), and grilled corn on the cob. A quite simple yet satisfying meal.

If you don’t have a BBQ (that’s a tragedy that you must remedy immediately) I’ve included instructions for oven grilling the ribs.

I promised the lovely Diana I would post these recipes…So cheers to you missy! Enjoy.

No, not cheese silly....Fresh grated horseradish.

No, not cheese silly....Fresh grated horseradish.

Crab-Boiled Country Style Pork Ribs

Recipe Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

You’ll need:

  • 6 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1/2 cup liquid crab boil
  • 1 head garlic, cut in 2 pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, washed, ends trimmed, and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed and toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 cup malt or cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Preparation for ribs:

In a large pot, combine all the rib ingredients and enough water to cover by 1-inch (about 12 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a slow boil, cover the pot, and cook for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until ribs are very tender when pierced with a fork.

While the ribs are cooking, prepare the BBQ sauce. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, horseradish, cider vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce and stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and the flavors have married, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

GRILL: Preheat grill to around 400. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ribs to one of the prepared pans. Blot any excess liquid with paper towels, and discard the vegetables and cooking liquid. Generously coat the ribs with the BBQ sauce. Grill the ribs turning and brushing with the sauce until cooked through and marked nicely.

OVEN ONLY: Preheat the oven to broil. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ribs to one of the prepared pans. Blot any excess liquid with paper towels, and discard the vegetables and cooking liquid. Spread half of the BBQ sauce over the 2nd lined pan. Lay the ribs flat over the sauce, and spoon the remaining sauce over the ribs to coat generously. Broil until the sauce is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonnaise

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

You’ll need:

  • 5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch “fries”
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

You’ll need:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, in their husks

Prepare your grill, gas or charcoal, with direct, high heat, about 550°F.

Remove the visible silks from the tips of the corn and any long pieces inside. DO NOT remove the husks!

Submerge the corn in their husks in cold water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking.

Place the corn in their husks on the hot grill. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally, until the husks are charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove corn from grill. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use a hand towel to protect your hands while removing the silks and charred husks from the corn.

Serve hot, with butter and salt. Or better yet, herb butter. YUM.

What are your favorite flavors of summer? Got any great BBQ recipes or secret tips? Please share!

Major Cuteness

Yesterday we visited the French bulldog puppies. And OH-MI-GAWD. How can anyone NOT think these are the stinking cutest creatures eh-vah? I promise not to become a crazy dog lady or let this blog become all about French bulldogs but I could not resist posting these pics of them at a week old….The critters are now just beginning to open their eyes and desperately trying to get up off their chubby little milk filled bellies to check our their surroundings….I just want to squeeze them!

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