Pin It Forward UK.

Pin It Forward UK 2013

I received an e-mail a month ago from Tina over at Pinterest, asking me if I wanted to be part of the new Pinterest United Kingdom campaign. It surprised me because I didn’t think that anyone paid much attention to my Pinterest boards, but it was a pleasant surprise. Since I like Pinterest, and since a little extra blog exposure is also nice, I said “yes” to participating.

I’m often late (on purpose) when it comes to any & all trends, so when I began seeing people talk about Pinterest on different social media websites, I didn’t jump on it straight away. (This is from someone who didn’t join Facebook until 2008 (I think) and ignored Twitter until very late 2009.) But then, I got lots of invitations to join and since my inbox got filled with invitations, I said to myself, “To hell with it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised.

Recipes. Do-it-yourself tips. Home decoration. Fashion. Beauty. Health & wellness. Quotes. Food. Food. Food. Did I say food? Travel. Travel. Travel. Did I say travel? Expatriate stuff. Child-free stuff. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s there in living color.

Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things you love. You can “pin” things from around the web on boards you create, on any topic you’d like. I pin about a few things, but for my blog’s sake, I especially pin things about travelling & expatriation. I have a board devoted to cities or countries I want to visit, interesting sights to see, and anything relating to expatriation.

What’s so great about pins is that I can go back to my boards and, say, find a recipe to try for dinner, or dream about a country or city on my travel/expatriate bucket list. The pins also link back to the source so I can get more details about that recipe I want to try, or that country or city I want to visit.

I’ve used Pinterest for a few months now, and it’s pretty decent. Once you see things you like, you’ll start building up your boards & dreams/wishes/fantasies. Follow me over there, and if you don’t have an account yet, start pinning by clicking on my registration link.

While you’re exploring your newfound addiction checking out Pinterest, check out a Pinterest UK trailblazer – Emma Rose Black of Gohemian Travellers (Pinterest page).

Welcome to Pinterest, inhabitants of the United Kingdom. :-)

Pin It Forward UK 2013

Chocolate Festival 12.09.2012.

Here it is again. I went solo this time. I won’t write much because the Chocolate Festival is pretty much the same every time. Just check out the photos and related links below.

Galeta.

Galeta.

More from Galeta.

More from Galeta.

Naan bread topped with chocolate.

Naan bread topped with chocolate.

Pistachio Rose. Home of the chocolate naan bread.

Pistachio Rose. Home of the chocolate naan bread.

My piece: chocolate & pistachio.

My piece: chocolate & pistachio.

Jaz & Jul's.

Jaz & Jul’s.

Jaz & Jul's chocolate powders.

Jaz & Jul’s chocolate powders.

Making mine.

Making mine.

Finished product.

Finished product.

IMG_2495

My friend's name in chocolate.

My friend’s name in chocolate.

Anna Mae's Texas beef chilli and macaroni & cheese.

Anna Mae’s Texas beef chilli and macaroni & cheese.

Texas beef chilli over macaroni & cheese. The chilli was subtly flavored with cocoa.

Texas beef chilli over macaroni & cheese. The chilli was subtly flavored with cocoa.

Related links:
December 2011 festival http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/ukchocolate-festival/

April 2012 festival http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/miym-cf_030412/

Rock the vote.

In transit.

In transit.

Are you a U.S. expatriate who wants to vote in this year’s elections? If so, check out the following information sent to me about voting via absentee ballot. For best accuracy, I’d suggest checking with your home state and your local embassy in your resident country for details, as it’s possible (I’m not sure, don’t wanna give out incorrect information) that different embassies in different countries have different instructions.
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Absentee ballots already delivered to overseas voters: Every U.S. citizen who requested an absentee ballot and selected the fax or email delivery option should have received it by now. Please cast your vote and take steps to return your completed ballot promptly so that your vote will count. See instructions below.

Returning your ballot by mail: Place your completed ballot in a U.S. postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. Place the completed ballot in a sealed envelope and take it to (my local embassy). We will send it back to the U.S. for you without the need to pay international postage. If it’s easier for you to use the (resident country) postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow adequate time for international mail delivery. If time is tight, you may want to use a private courier service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, or DHL) to meet your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

U.S. citizens can submit their completed ballots to the (resident country) Embassy’s Consular Section between the hours of (check yours locally), Monday through Friday, with the exception of (resident country) and U.S. holidays. No appointment is necessary. Please bring your ballot in a sealed envelope, and your U.S. passport. Your ballot will be sent to the United States via pouch, which takes approximately 10 working days.

Returning your ballot by email, fax, or upload: Some states allow these options, but may also require you to mail in the signed paper ballot. To find out more about your state’s specific requirements, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.FVAP.gov.

Haven’t received your ballot yet? Use the emergency write-in ballot: U.S. citizens who requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received it should go to www.FVAP.gov to complete a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. Follow the above guidance for returning your ballot. If you later receive your regular absentee ballot, vote and return it immediately. Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if received by your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

Forgot to register or request an absentee ballot? Act immediately! There are three options:

Option #1: Register and request a ballot today using the Federal Post Card Application form at www.FVAP.gov. Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number, if applicable) and send it to local election officials in your state. Almost every state lets you submit a ballot by email or fax. Once your application is processed they will send you your ballot via fax or email depending on your state. Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot. Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state’s requirements carefully.

Option #2: Follow the instructions in Option #1, but also complete and send in a Federal Write-in Ballot at the same time to make sure your vote is counted. This option may be the best one for first-time voters if your state requires you to submit your Federal Post Card Application by mail. Vote and submit your regular absentee ballot if/when it arrives. Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if it’s received by the ballot receipt deadline.

Option #3: Voters from the following states can use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot as a combined voter registration form, absentee ballot request, and absentee ballot: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington. (NOTE: This form must reach your local election officials by your state’s absentee ballot request deadline or voter registration deadline, whichever is first.)

Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by mail: Follow the guidance above for returning your ballot by mail.

Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax: The following states allow voters to email or fax their signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots back to local election officials: Arizona, California (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. (NOTE: see instructions at http://www.FVAP.gov for faxing or emailing your voted ballot.)

Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online: Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov.

Melts in your mouth (again).

I wrote a post about the Chocolate Festival a few months ago. Well, it’s back in a few towns again and unlike the last time, I went with a friend & met up with 3 people from Meetup. I also got to buy myself a couple of treats this time (no laughing ATM for now). Rather than write the same things that I wrote in the last festival post, take a look at a few new photos instead. In the meantime, I’ll have a bite of my brownie with white chocolate chips & a bite of my piece of red velvet cake, please & thank you.

Churros sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar (R) with melted chocolate (L).

Churros sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar (R) with melted chocolate (L).

Chocolate vodka chillies.

Chocolate vodka chillies.

Black River (Jamaica single origin).

Black River (Jamaica single origin).

Rabot Estate (Saint Lucia).

Rabot Estate (Saint Lucia).

Hotel Chocolat quail eggs.

Hotel Chocolat quail eggs.

Chocolate porter (beer).

Chocolate porter (beer).

Chocolate liqueur. (One can easily get drunk from this, it tastes that good.)

Chocolate liqueur. (One can easily get drunk from this, it tastes that good.)

Demarquette.

Demarquette.

Seashell.

Seashell.

The Pancake Bar.

The Pancake Bar.

Easter eggs (Philip Maes).

Easter eggs (Philip Maes).

More Easter eggs (Philip Maes).

More Easter eggs (Philip Maes).

Philip Maes chocolatier.

Philip Maes chocolatiers.

As an added bonus, here’s some beef chilli flavored with dark cocoa and topped with pico de gallo & shredded cheese. It was surprisingly good.

Beef chilli.

Beef chilli.

And these are for me. Sorry, no sharing. :-|

Brownie with white chocolate chips.

Brownie with white chocolate chips.

Red velvet cake.

Red velvet cake.

Melts in your mouth.

What does chocolate remind you of? Does it bring back childhood memories? Does it bring back adult memories? (*evil grin*)

When I think of chocolate, I reminisce about being a kid and drinking Nestle Quick chocolate milk. I remember learning how to make S’mores in home economics class. I reminisce about the different varieties of chocolate chip cookies that my mother would bring home – Chips Ahoy, Keebler, Pepperidge Farm, Mrs. Fields, Sean’s cookies, local grocery store bakeries. I think of my all-time favorite ice cream cake, Carvel, with the layer of chocolate ice cream and chocolate cookie crumble. Baskin Robbins ice cream cakes aren’t too bad either.

The memories. *drool*

While I’m far from a chocoholic, based on my nostalgia I can understand how millions of people worldwide have such unconditional & undying love for chocolate. So when I found out that the annual Chocolate Festival was coming back to town 12.09-11.2011, I decided that unlike last year – when I was more lazy & colder than I am now – I’d definitely attend to see what the big deal is. I wanted to go with at least 1 person, but life doesn’t work out the way that I want it to so I went solo. And as usual, it was nice.

(Well… except when the cash machine laughed at me when I tried getting cash to buy some chocolate. Maybe that’s a good thing for my health.)

The Festival was held for a full weekend and took place on 2 levels – street level and inside a venue. I didn’t feel like going into the venue so I stayed on the street.

Street level.

Street level.

For someone who isn’t a die-hard chocoholic, that was enough for me. Check out these photos to see why:

Red velvet & chocolate cakes.

Red velvet & chocolate cakes.

Santa Claus.

Santa Claus.

Pretzels.

Pretzels.

Along with buying ready-made chocolate products, one vendor sold kits for people to make their own chocolate and has a program specifically for 16-24 year olds to make & sell their own chocolate – entrepreneurship at its best. One of the partners, Kieran, said that he & his business partner are available to visit schools to showcase the business. In this terrible economy, I applaud them for giving others the opportunity to make a little legal change.

Click me & make your own.

Click me & make your own.

Although I couldn’t buy anything, I took many samples and collected many business cards. I plan to give 1 or 2 of them my business in the future.

Chocolate sesame.

Chocolate sesame.

Chocolate with raisins & etc.  I HATE raisins but didn't know until afterwards that there were raisins inside.  That's how good it was.

Chocolate with raisins & etc. I HATE raisins but didn't know until afterwards that there were raisins inside. That's how good it was.

Did you miss the Festival? Don’t worry… it’ll be back and it might be in your area when it returns. In the meantime, check out the long history of chocolate (Wikipedia).

Thanks for coming.

Thanks for coming.

The little things.

I decided to share a message that I sent to a few select people on Facebook with my readers. It’s in its original form, no edits. I hope you understand the spirit from whence it came. (For a quick back story, check )
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My apologies for the mass message. It had to be done this way.

I want to thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. You are part of the VERY few who know that I’m over 3500 miles from (my 1st) home and every single comment you make on all the stuff I post, every message you send, every e-mail you send/respond to….. In this selfish world, it counts. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if more people found out by now. :-| )

While technology is wonderful, it also makes people so lazy. VERY FEW people from home keep contact with me despite everything available – Skype, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, regular phones, e-mail, messengers, etc. etc. etc. I expected this and, as a result, tried to prepare for it well before leaving the States. While it’d be better to see you in person or talk on the phone, I know not everyone can do it and/or afford it, so the fact that you’re on my Wall on a regular basis (or e-mailing me or sending me private FB messages or reading my blog) lets me know that I cross your thoughts. And it means a lot to me. It truly does.

So thank you. I appreciate it. I’m gonna go now because I’m getting soft and I ain’t no punk. (#LiesPeopleTell) Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

(You don’t have to respond. But to avoid annoying other people, you can respond directly to me if you want to respond.)
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If you’re far away from loved ones, let them know how much you appreciate the little things.

Little things.

Little things.