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New Year’s Eve Ideas for Couples

New-Years-Eve-Date-Ideas-0.5-300x300New Year’s Eve may be one of the most romantic holidays, but arranging an evening that meets expectations, sends sparks flying and meets the budget can be challenging. Many couples want to have a date night, but are not sure how to go about that. Here are a few wallet-friendly but truly romantic options:

1. Find a local show and give the NYC-style a try. Dress up, grab a few drinks, and then dance the night away to some great music. Choose a venue that is convenient, so that your evening isn’t ruined with a long commute home.

2. Stay home. Dress up, light candles, and have a romantic dinner in your own dining room. Set the table, dim the lights, play some music… Slow dance in the living room, make some cocktails, exchange massages, or watch a romantic movie together.

3. Take a walk down memory lane. Make a list of places from throughout your relationship, and spend the night visiting each one and reminiscing. Reserve seats at an old favorite restaurant, walk through the park, visit the place you first met… Close off a solid year together by remembering why you are together in the first place.

4. Rent a cabin. If you’re nature lovers, or want a break from city life, look online for some last-minute deals on some romantic cabin getaways. Some will even let you bring pets, which is a great way to save on pet-sitting expenses.

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Take Advantage of Seasonal Downtime with Online Exhibits

1914a-item-pageWinter’s gloomy weather can get depressing, and people tend to stay indoors and become less active during this season. However, in many areas, the cold weather opens up opportunities that are often overlooked when the sun is shining. Museums, art shows and traveling exhibits are a great way to stay busy, learn something and stretch your legs without having to spend much time in the rain. Many such museums and foundations also offer online explanations and virtual tours, and interesting displays are only a click away.

The Shapell Manuscript Foundation, for example, recently released 10 new manuscripts from their archives onto their website, including two written by President Millard Fillmore. The University of Delaware Library also received a collection of World War II manuscripts, which are now accessible through their Special Collections web page. Gloomy days are a perfect time to enhance your knowledge of American history, as well as learn about other cultures and traditions throughout time.

You can even enjoy events that are happening in other countries. For example, a new visitor’s center was recently opened at Airman’s Corner, less than two miles from the famous Stonehenge landmark. The facility features ancient construction tools and other artifacts that hint at the lives of Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples.

“At last, visitors to Stonehenge will be able to get a sense of the people who built this monument, of their lives, their deaths and their ceremonies. Visitors will, for the first time, learn the astonishing history of the stones and will see objects, many never seen before, that will bring the stones to life,” explains Dr. Simon Thurley of English Heritage. “Instead of just a stopover or a quick photo opportunity, we want our visitors to step back in time and into the shoes of those who created and used this extraordinary place to marvel at original everyday objects they used, to talk the surrounding landscape as they did, and to sit in the dwellings that they would have built. It makes the real encounter with the stones themselves so much more exciting.”


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Phoenix Ancient Art Features Must-See Exhibition

If you’re into antiques, history and art and you live in New York or are visiting, the most recent Phoenix Ancient Art exhibition is a must-see. Entitled “Sacred Scents and Flames from the Ancient World,” the display will appear at the New York gallery from December 12th, 2013 until February 12th, 2014.


LAMP REPRESENTING A DOVE, Roman, early Imperial period (PRNewsFoto/Phoenix Ancient Art)

As president and co-owner of Phoenix Ancient Art, Ali Aboutaam explained, “The exhibition gives a fascinating opportunity to see an important selection of ancient lamps and the incense burners and to explore how the ancient civilizations of Pre-Classical and Classical world designed their lighting devices. From the very beginning various religions worshiped the eternal, divine flame, and even the most powerful kings had to pay a tribute to a flame. Incense which is closely linked to fire and flame quickly became the important element in the liturgical ceremonies in various religions. An Islamic bronze censer shaped as a feline, which is dated to the 11th century A.D., is a masterpiece of the bronze cast technique; its surface is an openwork in the shape of floral motifs, which allowed the perfumed smoke to escape and spread.”

The exhibition has approximately 80 items showing different shapes and materials including gold, silver, bronze, glass and more. They show an historic span from the second half of the 3rd millennium BC until the 14th century AD. The exhibit sheds light on the way that such lamps were used in ancient cultures including Mesopotamian, Phoenician, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Judaic, Byzantine, Islamic, and Chinese.

As Ali Aboutaam continued,

“Beside sensational gold and silver incense burners, elaborate and also expensive bronze lamps, there is a great number of rather simple clay Roman lamps which were apparently affordable for many at that time, but what an amazing information a contemporary collector can get looking at their reliefs. The bucolic scenes inspired by Virgil’s verses; a libation onto a small altar accompanying by a music; the images of Capitoline deities, the gladiatorial fight – it is like the life of the great Rome is reviving on these small representations.”

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10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

holiday stressWhile the holiday season is one of the most exciting times of the year, it often comes hand-in-hand with enormous amounts of stress. Here are 10 tips to stay organized and sane until after New Year’s:

1. Only shop during off hours. Aim for opening time, or late evenings to avoid large crowds.

2. Prioritize and schedule the different tasks on your list.

3. Try organizing a cookie exchange. Instead of baking several different kinds yourself, make a plan with a couple of friends and then get together to swap. You’ll all leave with a large assortment of cookies your family and loved ones can enjoy.

4. Don’t address long-standing family conflicts during this overwhelming period.

5. Call a babysitter far in advance!

6. Always underestimate how much you can accomplish in a day, and overestimate how long each activity will take. Everything will get done, with a lot less pressure.

7. Try starting a new tradition. Maybe Dad and the kids should make breakfast on Christmas morning?

8. On occasion, treat yourself between errands. Consider taking half an hour of your day for a manicure or pedicure, haircut or afternoon coffee with a friend.

9. Look for out-of-the-way cashiers to avoid waiting in long lines.

10. Buy group presents whenever possible. For example, don’t buy each child a gift- invest in something everyone will enjoy, like a board game or a ping-pong table. Similarly, organize a girl’s night out instead of exchanging gifts with friends.


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Dress for Success: Interview Tips & Ideas

interviewsMany people don’t realize how important the first impression is. This is particularly true for college students and for low income people who are job hunting. It’s possible that the interviewee doesn’t even have access to the tools needed to make a good impression. This is why many organizations and companies will have information sessions to teach college students and low income populations about successful interviewing techniques. In this video, Doral Bank not only has a session of this sort, but offers professional clothing for the students to take home and use for their interviews.

Here are some other important tips for doing well in the interview process.

1. Dress appropriately and professionally.
2. Bring a copy of your resume and any other materials that they might need. This is true even if you’ve already given the company a copy of your resume.
3. Come on time, or even a few minutes early.
4. Ask questions during the interview. You shouldn’t feel that the company is grilling you. Show an interest in them and make sure to ask them questions as well.
5. Shake hands and say thank you.

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How to Stay Focused at Work this Holiday Season

working holiday seasonStaying focused at work during the holiday season can be extremely challenging. There is so much distracting you from your duties, including parties and family reunions, shopping, planning, traveling, children home from school, and more.

International business speaker Michael Kerr explained, “There are so many competing demands and expectations during the holidays that it is very easy to get overwhelmed and even burnt out.”

“Travel planning, guest preparations, gift shopping, children’s events, parties and so on must be crammed into already-full schedules, which causes stress,” added Casey Moore, The Productivity Coach. “Personal stress often affects work performance. It distracts people and diminishes productivity.” People also lose motivation, she said. “They’re more interested in their personal lives, whether from their stress, their to-dos, or their love of the holidays.”

It is also hard to remain motivated when co-workers and managers are away on vacation. Workflow slows down significantly, and keeping up a high level of productivity is difficult.

Here are 14 ways to stay focused at work during this year’s holiday season, according to Forbes:

  1. Take a few days off.
  2. Plan early and communicate your expectations and schedule.
  3. Create your to-do list and prioritize tasks.
  4. Avoid multitasking.
  5. Start working on year-end projects and personal tasks early.
  6. Don’t take your work home.
  7. Get into the spirit.
  8. Watch out for distractions.
  9. Take care of yourself physically.
  10. Don’t over-commit.
  11. Remind yourself to stay focused at work.
  12. Do a self-evaluation.
  13. Look forward to next year.
  14. Remember what the holidays are all about.
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