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February, my least favorite month–or at least it was until this year. February is the month of love, or so people think it is because of Valentine’s Day.

Annually, we watch as women swoon over candy and roses; and their suitors break their banks in hopes of a truly romantic evening. For me, however, it is my birth month. With me being born a mere two days before the holiday, I have often found myself in a losing a competition for my family and friends’ time and attention. Then, when in May, my brother’s fiancee announced she was pregnant; I knew yet again my special day would take yet another backseat…

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Aairess (pronounced “heiress) Nyari Victoria McCurdy-Fanning (a mouthful huh?) was born on the late afternoon of February 3, 2014. It is rare girls are born into my family. In fact, it had been twenty-five years since my youngest sister, the last girl, was born into the family. Naturally, she was the source of quite a celebration. My brother and I, at best are fierce rivals, many liken us to Batman and The Joker. So, when it came time for me to meet my new niece for the first time I was not too thrilled. I entered the hallowed halls of the hospital with the intent of doing my uncle and brotherly duties and then abruptly departing, knowing I had taken the higher road.

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Well that was the plan until I held Aairess for the first time; and she opened her eyes and smiled–her first smile! Whatever permafrost the happenings of life coated around my heart began to thaw. Sure, I kept my composure, but it was indeed love at first sight. The weeks and months passed and as my brother and his fiancee hustled to make ends meet, Aairess spent more and more time with my parents and I. Despite my attempts to remain the cold, elusive, disciplinarian uncle; I found it hard to ignore her cries, coos, and hugs when I entered the room. Then, when she finally began to walk I enjoyed being run to after a long day of work. It made my whole day and any problems endured worthwhile. She was my niece and I, aptly dubbed by my parents, became “Uncky Mike.”

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As her first Christmas approached I found myself wondering what should I get a ten month old little girl. At her age, a cardboard box would actually be the perfect gift. Still, I had to get my new found love something special. As I walked the Girls’ Toys sections of Toys R Us, Target, and Wal-Mart I found myself vastly disappointed. Every doll was either a princess, solely Caucasian, or had something to do with making a girl something she was not. In general there was lots of pink and everything was just “too girly.” As I examined the toys, I thought about a quote I once read that said (paraphrasing) children are like blank canvases and every stroke, or lesson, you teach them shapes them into who they will ultimately become. As I looked around I could tell I did not want my niece to become some BRAT monster or Barbie; and that the odds of her becoming an actual princess are astronomical.

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My brain began to buzz as I strolled through the Boys’ Toys section. Who says she only can have what is designed for girls, or women, for that matter? When did we as a society decide that as a female she has to be taught from birth to cook, dress up, marry rich, and to always be ultra-pretty. We never teach this nonsense to our boys and instead bombard them with cars, trucks, toy weapons, and superheroes–all things that scream of power and dominance. These devices and characters are not soft and dainty, they are trailblazers teaching young boys, and later men, to reshape the world to their convenience. That’s what I want my niece to be…a trailblazer. A strong woman who sets the standard with her own set of rules. Aairess and every little girl in the world must be taught they can have anything, any man, anywhere can and that it is okay not to settle for anything less. Thus, underneath my Christmas tree is a Tonka Truck, wrapped with her initials on the packaging.

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A lot of people may disagree with me and say that Tonka Truck will not change anything, but they would totally miss my point. The truck is a symbol and a blessing from a man to a woman saying, “Hey it’s okay to be all that you truly can…” Merry Christmas Aairess!

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lifestyle

Travel Asia! 4 Countries To Visit “Crazy Rich Asian” (@CrazyRichMovie) Style!

Looking to jazz up your next vacation with something a little more exotic, then take a trip through the Orient–“Crazy Rich Asian” style! Whether you want to take in some culture, relax on the beach, hike the trails, or shop ‘til you drop many countries that make up the mysterious Orient can offer you all that and more. We’ve decided to offer four hot spots and the reason they should be tops on your list of places to get away from it all!

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travel asia

Written By: Dartangnan Johnson

Looking to jazz up your next vacation with something a little more exotic, then take a trip through the Orient–“Crazy Rich Asian” style! Whether you want to take in some culture, relax on the beach, hike the trails, or shop ‘til you drop many countries that make up the mysterious Orient can offer you all that and more. We’ve decided to offer four hot spots and the reason they should be tops on your list of places to get away from it all!

Brunei

travel asia

If you’re a Millennial you probably grew up watching “The Fabulous Life” in which case you’ve probably heard talk of the Sultan of Brunei and his many golden toilets, and with good reason, the country is super in black gold, Texas tea or as the lay folks like to say oil. The capital Bandar Seri Begawan is known as one of the most opulent cities in the world, with the crown jewel being the golden tipped Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. The mosque has marble minarets and golden domes, courtyard and is surrounded by several trees and floral gardens. The mosque’s most recognizable feature, the main dome, is covered in pure gold. The main minaret is its tallest feature, it mixes Renaissance and Italian architectural styles. The minaret has an elevator to the top, where a visitor can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The interior of the mosque is for prayer only. You can also check out Istana Nural Iman the largest governmental building on Earth, home of the Legislature of Brunei.

travel asia

If prayer temples and parliamentary procedure isn’t your idea of a good time, then you can take a hike along the rope bridges and canopies of the Ulu Temburong National Park which is a state sponsored conservation effort that a natural rainforest ecosystem. After you’ve hiked the trails, you can rest your weary legs on the beaches of Kuala Belait which is on the western edge of the Sultanate.

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Food

Serving Up Beautifully Presented Summer Cocktails at Your Next Summer BBQ

If you are one of the many people that love to entertain at home, one of the things you will be used to doing is working out what to serve in terms of food and drink. While dinner parties are all about decadent dishes and fine wines, if you plan more of an afternoon or early evening event outside in your garden, you need to look at alternatives.

In terms of food, hosting a party in your garden could involve simple finger buffet food or even a BBQ if the weather is great. Summer BBQs are a great way to come together with family and friends without having to actually go out. However, what about the drinks for your BBQ event? While drinks such as soda, wine, and beer are always firm favorites, there is nothing to say you cannot push the boat out and serve up something a little more exotic such as summer cocktails.

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cocktails

If you are one of the many people that love to entertain at home, one of the things you will be used to doing is working out what to serve in terms of food and drink. While dinner parties are all about decadent dishes and fine wines, if you plan more of an afternoon or early evening event outside in your garden, you need to look at alternatives.

barbecue

In terms of food, hosting a party in your garden could involve simple finger buffet food or even a BBQ if the weather is great. Summer BBQs are a great way to come together with family and friends without having to actually go out. However, what about the drinks for your BBQ event? While drinks such as soda, wine, and beer are always firm favorites, there is nothing to say you cannot push the boat out and serve up something a little more exotic such as summer cocktails.

Delight your guests with your cocktail selection

grapefruit infused vodka

Whether you decide to serve cocktails simply to greet guests as they arrive at your summer BBQ or whether you want to serve them throughout the afternoon or evening, you will undoubtedly impress many people with your ambition. You should never be nervous about trying new things when it comes to cocktails, as the guests will no doubt love sampling them. For instance, you can create incredible summer cocktails by adding grapefruit infused vodka, which is ideal for those balmy summer evenings when you want something cool and refreshing. Of course, you need to ensure you don’t make life difficult for yourself, so when you are choosing cocktail recipes make sure you opt for ones that have plenty of color and flavor but do not involve huge amounts of work.

In addition to this, make sure you don’t forget your guests with special requirements. When it comes to your BBQ food, you need to make sure you take into consideration guests such as vegetarians or vegans otherwise they will be left with empty plates. When it comes to drinks, you need to remember those that cannot drink or prefer not to. Just because some people don’t drink, it doesn’t mean you can’t whip up a delicious cocktail for them. There are some excellent virgin cocktail that contain no alcohol but are still packed with flavor and color. So, when you are doing your research, make sure you add some of these alcohol free cocktails to your list.

To add the perfect finishing touch and really impress your guests, you need to ensure that your summer cocktails are well presented. Think about this when you are purchasing glasses to serve up your cocktails and make sure you purchase decorations that can go into the cocktail glasses to add a special sparkle. In addition, have some frozen fruits on hand, as these are great for garnishing, adding color, and adding flavor to a wide range of delicious cocktails.

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lifestyle

4 Flashy Tech Gadgets That Make the Perfect Impression

On the hunt for the latest tech gadgets, gear and accessories on the market?

Wanting to make the best impression on that special someone, your new boss or anyone in your general radius? You’re in luck. As usual, the tech industry has been in overdrive developing new products to capture the attention of interested consumers. In the market for something new and flashy? Here are four newly-released tech gadgets sure to make the perfect impression on just about anyone.

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t-mobile gadgets

On the hunt for the latest tech gadgets, gear and accessories on the market?

Wanting to make the best impression on that special someone, your new boss or anyone in your general radius? You’re in luck. As usual, the tech industry has been in overdrive developing new products to capture the attention of interested consumers. In the market for something new and flashy? Here are four newly-released tech gadgets sure to make the perfect impression on just about anyone.

1. Nintendo Switch

Truthfully, you’re never too old — or too young — for some gaming action with friends. Plus, the experience tends to be more enjoyable and immersive when you’re able to take portable devices like the Nintendo Switch on the go. Not only does this portable system offer a great, new spin on a gaming legend, but its retro console is also playable on your TV. Use the joy-con grip to give the console the feel of an old-school controller so you can game like you’ve gone back in time to the ’80s.

2. Bose SoundLink Revolve 360 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Whether the party is coming to you — or you’re taking the party to the people — make sure you have your Bose SoundLink Revolve 360 Portable Bluetooth Speaker ready to connect. Ever been to a gathering where the host is bumping music from their laptop? It certainly lacks the deep, rich bass needed to get down and enjoy the music. No need to trip, though, as this portable Bose Bluetooth speaker delivers some bangin’ bass and all the beats needed to enjoy an evening among friends.

3. Samsung Gear S3 Classic

Smartwatches are the type of gear everyone has been waiting for since they were kids. Indeed, this is the stuff of the Black Panther and Morpheus, so you know everyone will be checking you out as you don your new Samsung Gear S3 Classic. With a classic-looking face and other one-of-a-kind features, watch enthusiasts are bound to inquire about more details.

But wait, there’s more. Designers of the Samsung Gear S3 Classic have taken wearable tech to the next level. In fact, you can receive texts and other notifications via Bluetooth, or tie your credit card to the S3 Classic and use it when making in-store purchases. Additionally, the S3 Classic’s built-in GPS capabilities allow you to use it as an activity tracker, and with military-grade performance and durability, you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged or compromised while at the gym.

4. Microsoft Surface Laptop

t-mobile gadgets laptop

If you’re a business heavyweight, invest in the new Microsoft Surface laptop to impress your scores of clients and prospects. Small, lightweight, fully functional, powerful, fast and sleek are just a few adjectives we have for this essential tool that will keep you looking and staying sharp, no matter where your next business meeting is taking place. Ultimately, along with plenty of personal enjoyment, these fresh tech products are sure to turn a few heads and elicit some double takes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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