Antigua: Perfect Wedding Get-Away

With destination weddings all the rage (think honeymoon, vacation, and wedding all rolled up into one), finding the perfect location to become man and wife tops the list. Whether seeking a wedding on the beach, or one on the slopes, options abound. Antigua, one of the Caribbean’s go-to spots for a destination wedding, offers that something special to make your wedding, honeymoon, and vacation unique. Once the spot of my own honeymoon, I know firsthand about the beauty of Antigua.

Relax.
Antigua is located in the Caribbean, and boasts over 365 beaches for visitors to enjoy. They have even realized how popular destination weddings have become, and have an entire section on their tourist information website detailing the process. Thankfully, it’s an easy one, requiring simply passports as proof of US citizenship, and a fee of less than $250 for the Wedding Officer, the registration fee, and the marriage license. In addition, many resorts or locations where you’d consider having the wedding on Antigua can help you coordinate the details should you have any questions or concerns.

Pamper Yourself.
One popular Antiguan resort for destination weddings is Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa. The location of my honeymoon almost 6 years ago, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa was a bustling island wedding spot even before it became the fashion. This all inclusive Caribbean island destination is a wonderful spot for a wedding, a honeymoon, or a romantic island getaway. The resort is adults only, located on a beautiful beach with pools, coordinated activities, and water sports, and offers beautiful rooms with a view of the ocean. Sandals Grande Antigua even knows how to appeal to visitors interested in planning a destination wedding. According to their website, guests who stay in a Concierge category room for more than 6 nights are eligible for a free wedding package. You can’t beat a deal like that, and there are similar resorts across the island.

Explore.
With the wedding ceremony and details taken care of by a resort, a destination wedding in Antigua means that the bride, groom, and their family and friends can explore the island and relax on their vacation, instead of stressing about the wedding ceremony itself. Book day trips
out on the water or around the island. Head to neighboring Barbuda for a day, or enjoy the scenery on nearby Bird Island. If you’d rather stay land-bound, try Shirley Heights and look over the harbor and much of the island. Shop in the capitol city of St. John’s, or enjoy your
resort and the beaches surrounding you.

A destination wedding in Antigua offers a unique experience for the bride and groom, as well as their guests. Enjoy the flavor of the Caribbean with a Banana Sip Sap or a Rum Punch, take in a breathtaking sunset on an Antiguan beach, or never leave the honeymoon suite. A destination wedding in Antigua can’t be beat.

Sources:
Antigua & Barbuda; http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/index.htm
Sandals Antigua; http://www.sandals.com/main/antigua/an-home.cfm

Flip-Flops Are Not Just For the Beach, My Friends

Summer time is fast approaching (despite the rain I’ve got in my neck of the woods), and my thoughts are turning longing toward my comfort “around town” and “on the beach” shoe of choice: the flip flop sandal. My husband despises the flip flop sandal, with its casual revelation of almost the entire foot. Not to mention the “slap-slap” sound it makes as I walk. But….my love for the flip-flob continues

The flip flop is arguably the oldest shoe in the world. It has stood the test of time, and is the best selling type of shoe in the world. Flip flop sandals can be seen everywhere, from the streets of New Zealand to the beaches of the French Riviera and everywhere in between. They range in look from utterly simple to more elaborate, dressy varieties.

Simple construction of flip flop sandals

The simplest — and cheapest — construction of flip flop sandals use rubber as the material of choice. A thin rubber sole is cut out and manufactured, and then two thin straps are attached. These straps are placed on the sandal so that they are between the big toe and the second toe. These straps can be made of rubber as well. Sometimes, the Y shaped straps are connected at the base, and then spread out into two separate straps. Sometimes, the straps truly are separate. The straps are usually anchored somewhere at the bottom of the flip flop sandal. On thicker soled flip flop sandals, the straps are anchored at the bottom of a top piece and then a bottom sole cushions the whole. In developing countries, rubber flip flop sandals are most popular, since they are very inexpensive. And, of course, in most developed countries, flip flop sandals are a favorite on the beach or on a casual day out.

Dress flip flop sandals

But flip flops have moved beyond casual and beach wear. Now there are dressy flip flop sandals (some makers of nylon hose stockings have started adding gaps so that they can be worn with dress flip flop sandals). These dressy sandals are made with different materials: hemp straps, patent leather parts, suede, metallic looking parts and other materials that take the flip flop sandal beyond rubber. Additionally, some dress sandals include embellishments of jewels, buckles and beads. In their dressy incarnation, these sandals are rarely referred to as “flip flops.” But even though they are becoming more popular as dress shoes, flip flop sandals are getting some bad press. Remember when some of the girls from the Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse team wore flip flop dress sandals to visit the White House? Lamentations on the order of the end of Western civilization ensued.

While I wouldn’t wear flip flop sandals as dress or formal wear, I still find them quite comfortable. And I have no problem with women who want to wear them. But they do still seem a little too…casual…for my taste. But I can’t wait to hit the beach with my flip flop sandals!

Zappos Cat Walk!

Some of our most fashionable Zappos employees show their look off; catwalk style. Who is the best? Let us know by leaving a comment! Jason has his own choice, but we think they’re all equally amazing!

Constrution of Shoes: Dress Shoes, Dress Shoes...All Kinds of Dress Shoes!

Handmade dress shoes as opposed to mass produced dress shoes

When it comes to dress shoes, especially for men, you can benefit from choosing handmade dress shoes over those that are mass produced. Handmade dress shoes are generally made from higher quality materials, as well as with process that includes work done by craftspeople. Mass-produced dress shoes, on the other hand, are usually made from inferior materials that are put together quickly, and without much care, in a factory assembly line. The process for making dress shoes is one that is fairly interesting.

Materials

Materials for handmade dress shoes are usually of high quality. Leather can be made from cow or pigs. Rather than using the lower-quality stiff leather – or even synthetic leather – that is used for mass-produced dress shoes, handmade shoes are made from softer leather. High-quality leather is actually a little bit soft and has some “give.” It is usually a little pliable. Many people find this surprising, because they are only exposed to the lower-quality stiff leather that mass-produced shoes are made from.

Leather isn’t the only material used in the construction of dress shoes. Sometimes, dress shoes are made with alligator skin or snake skin. This can give the dress shoes an exotic and unique look.

Goodyear Welt Construction of Dress Shoes

The main process used in making men’s dress shoes is called Goodyear Welt. This process does take place in a factory, but instead of a factory like those that make mass-produced shoes, this type of factory features craftspeople that make the shoes to a high standard and oversee the cutting, sewing and other aspects of construction for each individual pair of shoes. Machines are used, but there are skilled operators running them.

Goodyear Welt construction of dress shoes consists of an upper that is specially shaped. Then a leather strip (called the welt) is sewed to it, holding the upper to the inner sole and the upper sole. A cavity is formed during this process, and then it is filled with a material made from cork. This cork material is flexible and resilient. Finally, the sole is attached. Goodyear Welt construction usually leads to dress shoes that are comfortable, flexible and quite durable. Additionally, the sewing, and the process used, makes for dress shoes that are more ventilated, allowing them to be more comfortable throughout the day.

Custom Dress Shoes

It is possible to have custom dress shoes made by hand. In this process, a pattern of your foot is used to design a dress shoe that offers optimum comfort and support for your unique foot. Additionally, custom handmade dress shoes are made from the finest materials (you can often help pick them). They are usually more durable than more cheaply made mass-produced shoes. Additionally, if you know you will be on your feet more, you can get added cushioning built into your handmade dress shoes. So, even though you pay more for handmade dress shoes, they often last longer – and look better – than your average mass-produced dress shoes.

Searching for the Best Hike: Middle Head Trail

Middle Head Trail is in the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a must see. I fell in love with this entire area of Canada. Middle Head Trail isn’t a difficult trail and it isn’t a long trail, so most people can easily walk it.

Middle Head Trail starts at the Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa on the Middle Head Peninsula on Ingonish Beach. You’ll find Highland Links Golf Course and tennis courts at Keltic Lodge but I’d rather be hiking! Keltic Lodge is impressive with its many buildings and matching outdoor chairs. Keltic Lodge is now owned by the government. A lot of this trail was a carriage road that connected what was a private estate to the fishing village.

There is a reason for the name, Middle Head Trail. Middle Head is a narrow, rocky protrusion that divides Ingonish Bay in half. You’ll find beautiful beaches on the coast. You’ll start out at the Lodge. After about one half mile you’ll come to an area that can easily be mistaken as the end of the trail. The trail loops around at that point. If you are a novice hiker you may want to take the loop in this area that will bring you back to the point of the trailhead heading to Keltic Lodge.

We thought it ended when we came to an expanse of rocks and a railing. Walking out to the rocks we looked to the right and saw the end of the point and wondered if we could get to it. In fact the trail continues to that very point. The trail is only 2.5 miles round trip but we spent a lot of time walking around and enjoying the scenery.

The elevation is only 50 feet and if you don’t stop and smell the ocean, it will take you about 1 1/2 hours to complete Middle Head Trail. The trail is comprised of amazing views of the ocean and woodsy areas.

You’ll find interpretive signs along the way, a lot of birds, and wonderful views of the ocean. There are benches along the way as well as overlooks that allowed us to get off the trail; go through some brush and look out onto amazing views.

Middle Head Trail was an easy hike/walk depending on one’s ability with only 2 small hills, one of which was on the steep side; boardwalks, and stairs to help people maneuver their way. You will be treated to one of the most beautiful and serene spots that I can say I have ever encountered. Since it’s not a difficult hike, you might feel as if you want more of a challenge, but take some time out of your challenging hikes and see this beautiful spot at the end of Middle Head. Don’t be surprised to see people meditating or just looking at the scenery in
awe.

Please leave only footprints, take only pictures and kill only time.

Freaky Friday!

Have you ever had one of those Fridays where, your only excuse was “Hey, its Friday man!” That’s how it was for us last Friday. Everything was funny, even though it really wasn’t. We were all really talkative. Laurie is here from Vegas, and she helped entertain us with her awesome dance moves. Jon drew faces for our Zappos card board cut outs. That was our main team building project.. to get faces for the card board cut outs. Yeah, since it was Friday and all it didn’t happen exactly as planned! One of the faces was done by Max. If you know him, you’ll know which face was his! I began filming, with no point, and thats pretty much what you’ll see! So watch our weird Friday video I put together! Enjoy friends!

Aimed Excercise: Your Back!

Have you ever experienced chronic back pain? Even if you haven’t, back exercises can make the rest of your exercise program run more smoothly, and will set the stage for a healthier you.

Have you ever experienced chronic back pain? Do you need to sit down after loading a sinkful of dishes into the dishwater? The spine and the muscles surrounding it are far more vulnerable than most of us would care to admit, and much of the back pain experienced by adults is due to a lack of proper muscular development.

Aimed exercise is usually targeted at areas of the body that make us feel unattractive. The buttocks, thighs, abs and calves receive most of the workout because they can balloon up and trim down from one season to the next. However, if you want to make exercising easier and more productive, you’ll target your back muscles as well.

From Top to Bottom

When you decide to use aimed exercise to target your back, it’s easy to focus on the area that causes you the most discomfort. For example, if you are always experiencing pain in your lower back, you’ll probably seek exercises that target the lower back. However, the back muscles all work together, and discomfort in one area can actually be indicative of a weakness in another area.

The best way to shape this type of exercise plan is to find exercises that will benefit as many of the back muscles as possible, which usually means a wide variety of simple exercises. Furthermore, these exercises are most beneficial when observed on a daily basis, and in as little time as possible. Just carve out a fifteen-minute niche in your day, and dedicate that time to back exercises.

Simple Lower Back Stretch

To exercise your back, start by stretching the lower quadrant of your spine in preparation for more difficult movements. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor about hip-width apart.

Slowly lift your right knee and pull it to your chest, lacing your fingers around the knee and holding for 10-15 seconds. Then release slowly back to the floor and repeat with the left leg. As you grow more comfortable with this exercise, lift both knees at the same time. Additionally, you can lower both knees to one side or the other, rotating the muscles in your back for further stretch

Arch Exercise

Continuing with the lower back, lie down flat on the floor like in the previous exercise, with your knees bent and your feet planted squarely on the floor. Lift your pelvis toward the ceiling, tightening your lower back muscles and without using your feet to push your body upward. Your buttocks should not come off the floor, but it will create an arch in your middle back. Hold for 10 seconds.

Next, lower your pelvis back to its natural position, then stretch the other way, pushing your lower back toward the floor as tightly as it will go. Hold again for 10 seconds. This back exercise increases flexibility and will, as an added bonus, work your abdominals.

The Bridge

Remaining in the same position on the floor, we’re going to try a yoga position next. This time, rather than arching your back away from the floor, you’re going to lift your lower back and buttocks until your body creates an inclined “ramp” from shoulders to knees. Essentially, this back exercise will stretch out the entire back, while providing some strength training at the same time.

This exercise should be held longer than the previous two, usually for three or four deep and relaxing breaths. When you release yourself from the position, do so slowly-never flop back onto the floor. For this to work properly, keep your arms slightly spread and flat on the floor during the entire exercise.

Moving Forward

The three exercises above are simple and are meant to help introduce you to the world of back exercises, which can increase in complexity. The goal, however, is not to develop rock-hard back muscles, but to provide your body with the flexibility it needs to accurately perform other forms of exercise. Once your back is strong and dependable, you’ll find your entire exercise program runs more smoothly.

Preparing for a Run: Some Basics

Before getting started on a run, make sure you follow these few simple preparation techniques – believe me, you’ll thank me later.

Before you get started on a run, there are certain techniques you should follow. Of course, if you’re anything like me when I first started running, you’ve already gone out there and just started running. Well, now it’s time to back up and start again, this time doing it properly.

The most important thing if you’re thinking about seriously getting into running is to get a checkup from your doctor first. Tell Doc what you’re planning on doing and talk to him/her about any health problems you might already have. It may seem like an unnecessary precaution, but better a few minutes spent with a medical professional now than a few weeks later after you’ve keeled over from a heart attack.

Next thing, start thinking about safety. As a good rule to follow, probably best not to run alone. It’s also a good idea to map out a route and make sure you know where all the places you could have mishaps are. Check for any holes in the sidewalk, look at traffic patterns and make sure you wear clothing that helps drivers see you.

Listening to music while wearing stereo headphones is very popular. It’s also very dumb if you’re running on the open highway. When you can’t hear what’s going on around you, that opens you up for trouble. It’s best to be able to hear the ambulance coming and not be run over by it….but maybe that’s just me.

Another thing to think about is make sure you drink enough water. You should be hydrated at all times when you run. It not only gives you keeps you cool, water also rehydrates you and flushes waste out of your body. No need to buy fancy designer water though. A normal bottle of water or some filtered tap water is fine. Don’t forget, you’re using it to regulate your body and not using it to show everyone you have more money than sense.

The final thing before you get started running is remember to stretch. This is one thing I’m really bad at and probably why I’ve pulled a couple of muscles in the last few months. In a simple case of do what I say and not what I do, make sure you stretch before you start running, as well as after.

But make sure you stretch safely. Don’t stretch cold muscles. Cold muscles are usually tight and can easily tear causing weeks if not months of misery and pain. So remember, before you run, get a check up, make sure you’re running safely, don’t wear headphones if running on the road, drink enough water and remember to stretch. You might think it’s not important but, believe me, you’ll thank me later when your friends are lying in hospital in traction and you’re stretched out in your favorite armchair after finishing your latest marathon.