Mad Lady Blog

Fascinating snippets in all kinds of topics


February 2017

Top ten places in the world to photograph



  1. Venice, Italy

Most of us have heard of the city of Venice, Italy. Usually visualizations of tranquil rivers running through a bustling city are what come to mind. The mental images we think of when it comes to Venice are also what makes it such a photogenic place. Pictures from Venice can give an out of this world magical sense when viewed. Some things that might not be known about this town is that it is one of several Islands in Northern Italy that are interconnected by bridges. It is a popular tourist destination with a population near 300,000.





  1. Maruata Bay, Mexico

Maruata Bay is a place located in Central Mexico off the Michoacan coast. It is an isolated beach that is nestled next to a small town. Because of its rural location and lack of many tourists, it is an excellent place to take photographs. The scenic views of the rock formations that extend from the sea along with the crashing waves make for an amazing sight and would be a dream for any photographer. There is also an abundance of wildlife such as sea turtles and native birds that can be seen when visiting. There are even accounts of being able to see nesting sea turtles in the evening making their way to the beaches.




  1. Stonehenge, England

Most people are familiar with this destination. Stonehenge is located near Salisbury England and is an amazing sight no matter what time of year or day it is visited. The formation of the stones in the circle that has been standing for at least the last 5,000 years is photogenic from any angle, but can be a great sight at sunset or during ritualistic gatherings that occur there throughout the year. Stonehenge is protected and managed by the Crown and is considered a prehistoric monument. Any amateur or experienced photographer would be lucky to add this to their collection.





  1. The Taj Mahal, India

Yet another name so famous most people have heard of it before, but it’s another thing to see it in person. The majestic buildings that make up this historic landmark are an ethereal sight when compared with some of the other buildings in the same vicinity. The building was delegated in 1632 as a tomb for the Mughal emperor’s favorite wife. It still stands resolute today, with almost perfect architecture and little damage after the hundreds of years it has stood in the same place. It’s crystalline white mausoleum is still a site of perfection in architecture after all these years.




  1. Mount Hood, Oregon

Oregon itself is a beautiful state in the United States with gorgeous terrain. Some people may not know that much of its landscape includes volcanoes, both dormant and inactive. Mount Hood is one of these volcanoes, but it is also an amazing natural site for the aspiring photographer. Mount Hood has been dormant for hundreds of years, allowing the landscape to grow into an unnaturally beautiful area abundant with wildlife. At the top of the mountain is Crater lake, located in, you guessed it, the crater of the volcano itself. It is one of the deepest lakes in the U.S. and also a very serene sight to those who venture up to that area.



  1. Curacao

Curacao is its own country located on a small island in the Caribbean Sea near South America. It has been called the city of colors because the former Governor had a hard time looking at all of the pale colors on the buildings in the almost year round bright sunlight. Because of this a great majority of the buildings are painted different colors to make it easier on the eyes. Aside from the colorful nature of the country, it enjoys an almost eventless weather pattern every day of the year and rarely sees anything more than a small rain shower. It also has canals that are located throughout where you can row a boat right up to get some fresh fruit at a vendor’s stand. There are many places here that would attract any photographer.






  1. Sedona, Arizona

The hidden gem of Sedona is located in Arizona in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Many people vacation there because of its sheer beauty and its diamond in the rough appearance. Located nearer the northern part of Arizona just outside of flagstaff, it is characterized by lush plant life and large red rock formations that give it a regal appearance. There are also several water formations that make it that much more surreal for being located in the desert.




  1. Easter Island

Easter Island, that mysterious place with all the statues and heads sticking out of the ground. What photographer wouldn’t give anything to go and take some “head shots” there. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, almost isolated from the rest of the world, this marvel has been a mystery to historians and scientists alike since it’s discovery. It has 887 statues located on the island whose origins are still unknown. Many people have their ideas on how they got there and why they are positioned in their current places, but it will continue to be a mystery, at least for now.


  1. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Perhaps the most famous wonder of the world and also the biggest mystery are the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. A huge tourist attraction, they have stood for hundreds of years and scientists are still making discoveries within them. On top of the continuous discoveries, historians still have no idea how they came to be. Regardless of how they ended up where they are, they are still an amazing sight to see and anyone would be lucky to be able to say they were there to see them in person.



  1. Yellowstone Geysers, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Perhaps one of the best places a photographer might want to visit would be Yellowstone National Park. Not only are there animals, scenic views, and landscapes to photographs, but the geysers and hot springs can be an awesome sight for the local photographer. Located in the upper Northwest area of Wyoming, there are eight major geysers the visitors can see if they desire. Photographing one of these when they are going off is an incredible sight. Along with the geysers are sites of hot springs, which have some magnificent colors that naturally draw the eye to them.



Café Racer Motorcycle Facts

You might be looking at the phrase “café racer motorcycle” and wondering “what does a café have to do with a motorcycle?” The short answer is that a café racer motorcycle is a motorcycle that has been modified for speed and handling so it can be good in a race. They are very lightweight and have lightweight engines to go along with them so they can maneuver well.
These motorcycles became popular in the 1960’s, mainly in Europe, where they were used to ride or race between one café and another-and by café I don’t mean a coffee house. The term was used as an insult back at that time to refer to someone who was not a real man because he wasn’t a real racer. Because many people could not afford a “real” motorcycle at the time, they started modifying the café racers. At first the changes were just aesthetic, but as more and more people became interested in this hobby, the need for more parts to discern them from the traditional motorcycle arose.
The changes made to these early motorcycles are much of what we associate a motorcycle with today. The traditional look that we have become accustomed to is actually based on the modifications made to make motorcycles look more like racing machines. Hump seats and fiberglass tanks, along with smaller handlebars to give them a streamlined fast look are among the changes that became popular among riders. Because of all of the changes made to these motorcycles to make them more aerodynamic and maneuverable, it’s important to mention that they were not very comfortable to ride. This is perhaps another reason why they were called café racers, as they were mostly seen just parked outside of cafés rather than actually racing.
Today café racers are a little different. The meaning has definitely changed. It is no longer a derogatory term associated with someone who is not as much of a man as the next motorcycle rider. The bikes have changed too. Rather than being about going fast and focusing on racing, the café racer today is mostly about the look and style of the bike. It also has the features of today’s technology of course, with all the horsepower and racing power that it can handle while still looking like the traditional café racer. They are still relatively uncomfortable to ride, and they are most commonly used for short distances. You wouldn’t see a motorcycle gang riding around their turf on café racers.
Café racers today would be a good bike to make quick trips to places, or like the name still suggests, race between to places. They are a stripped down version of a Harley type bike and the low handlebars along with the raised seat make them highly discomforting for anything longer than a quick race. They are meant to be ridden with your body as close to the bike as possible so you can go as fast as possible in a short spurt.
The café racer has evolved somewhat since it’s appearance in the 1960s, but it is mainly still just a bike that is for show and not a good motorcycle for someone looking to ride the majority of the time. It is still an uncomfortable stripped down bike that would be nice for someone who was looking more for a hobby. At least today the café racer isn’t an insult any more, but more of a status symbol.

Catering Tips

Catering Tips

Whether you’re learning how to cater or a catering veteran, it’s always nice to learn some new tips and tricks that might help you out during working hours. How do you know how much food to make? How many people do you bring to assist you? These are some of the tips that would help the new caterer starting out or the caterer that’s been around for years.

Probably the biggest question a caterer has to answer is how much food they need to make. Knowing what type of event for the catering and how many people will be attending is a must when planning. It can also be helpful to know how long the event will last if you want to make extra food that will keep guests full the entire time. Depending on the time of day the event takes place also tells you how many courses you will need to plan for, as well as if you should include appetizers. Overall it’s up to the caterer, but knowing your courses, how many to have, and what meal you are planning can be the make or break part of the catering event.

One nice tip for catering is to keep the main part of the event as short as possible. This will allow you to make your presence known, get people fed, and get out of there before you run out of food. You will also need to make less food as people won’t be expecting to eat for a long period of time.  Also, trying to have a friend help you serve or eliminating servers all together (i.e. a self-serve bar) will be helpful in the long run as well.

Controlling the portions of food the guests get will also be helpful for the extent of the catering. If you have tiny appetizers and give each person one, or have someone serve the food and then take it away, it can be a time and cost saving measure on your end. Also, if there is a bar, sticking to a few different drinks can help cut costs as well as time for guests to choose what they want. If it’s just wine and beer and maybe a few special cocktails, people will be happy and it will be less of a headache for you.

Another cost saving measure is to try and come up with recipes that use cheaper cuts of meat or other ingredients than say an expensive prime rib dish. Using something like salmon, or a cheaper cut of beef to control your spending while making a creative dish can still be appealing to your guests and a huge cost saving measure for your business.

When choosing what to serve cut out things that you think you can do without also. Things like a bar may not be needed, so make sure to ask if that needs to be included. Dessert can be limited to something small if you make another portion of the meal fairly large. All you have to do is some juggling to get the right menu down while still keeping your costs low and you can make a nice profit from your service.

Best-selling romance author’s 2016


     If you like romance novels, you have to have heard of the author Nora Roberts. She has dozens of romance novels under her name and this year is no exception. So far she has had two best sellers in 2016, begging readers to wonder if she will ever lose her touch. I have personally never read any of her books, but it looks like I’m going to have to start. Someone who can stay a best seller for so long has to have reasons why.

The best-selling novels by Nora Roberts this year are The Obsession, and The Liar. Other recent novels by her are Stars of Fortune and Morrigan’s Cross.  It looks like she is on a roll within the last year when it comes to her classic romance novels. She has recently been on the New York Times bestselling author list at #1 amidst all of these novels being released.

If Nora Roberts isn’t your style, you could go for a book by novelist Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Amanda Quick. She has been on the New York Times Best Author’s list at number 11 recently and her book ‘Til Death Do Us Part is currently attracting readers to her pseudonym. Some other books she has written include Illusion Town under the pseudonym Jayne Castle, which has also ended up on the New York Times Bestseller’s list.

Depending on what taste you have when it comes to romance novels, these two authors are guaranteed to produce page turners when it comes to their novels. Nora Roberts would be my first choice, only because you can’t beat someone who has had so many successful novels. But if that doesn’t fit my taste, I will definitely be checking out a book by Amanda Quick to satisfy my romance novel tastes!

Girls and their beds, which is the right one?


Choosing furniture for any part of your house can be a daunting task, especially when thinking about the décor, color, and comfort in the process. That process can be even more tasking when you need to shop for your children and get them the perfect furniture to fit their picky tastes while keeping it within the budget.

Some of the most expensive furniture can be bedroom furniture, no matter what age you are. If you have a teenage girl, the numbers can add up fast when choosing décor and furniture to go in their room. Probably the hardest piece of furniture to buy are beds for a teenage girl, they know what they want and don’t want and won’t settle for anything less than the best.

Bedroom furniture comes in all shapes and sizes, and when dealing with a moody teenager, the process of choosing the right night stands, dresser, and bed for a teenage girl can be a time-consuming task. Obviously the most important piece is the bed, because it’s the most used piece of furniture in the room. Luckily there are some tips to think about when trying to pick out the perfect one to please your daughter.

One good tip is to consider a futon, or a bed for some teenage girls that can double as a couch or has another use. This way you can maximize space in a small area and give your daughter a versatile bed that she could use to sleep on or to entertain when her friends come over. Another must have with a bed for teenage girls is something that incorporates storage. Clutter can take over a room quickly throughout the week, and we always want them to clean before they can do something fun, so providing a lot of storage for those fast periods of cleaning can make the headache of the mess much less intense, and it provides for a clean, clutter free look in the bedroom.

Last, but not least, a teenage girl has personality and tastes that make them unique. Don’t leave out the accessories that can make her bed more inviting and aesthetically pleasing. Not skimping on the bedding can make all the difference when it comes to crawling into the bed at the end of the day and making it so it looks nice when they wake up. Don’t skimp on the pillows and comfort either, spending a little more in the short run to make your daughter comfortable will make your daughter a happier, more rested, less cranky teenager who is ready to face the day and happy to make use of her luxurious bed.

All about EcoSpheres

All about Ecospheres

          If you’ve never heard the term “EcoSphere”, you are not alone. They are a relatively new kind of product that brings science into the living rooms of everyday people. To give you an idea of what exactly an ecosphere is, one example is actually the Earth. Any planet or environment where living and non-living things are emphasized by interaction characterizes an EcoSphere. This could be another planet, extra-terrestrial objects, a biosphere, or even a small aquarium like structure which is what we are referring to in this case. Another way to think about them is to call them a closed ecosystem.

These ecosystems were originally funded by NASA who was trying to find a way to self-sustain astronauts on very long trips into space. Because they don’t need to rely on any kind of matter that exists outside the system, it was thought that they might be the beginning of larger, similar structures that would have scientific use. It was thought that a larger ecosphere type of system would eventually be able to serve as life support systems during space flight, inside of space stations or even larger habitats in the future. Though they haven’t yet broken that barrier, the ecospheres did surpass their expected life expectancy by almost four times as long as they were forecasted to.

EcoSpheres are made out of blown glass and generally contain organisms or microorganisms that can live together and form their own ecosystem within the container while living independently. In an ecosphere, nothing is needed to be added to keep the small ecosystem thriving and living off of the other organisms in the container. Because of the structure of the EcoSpheres and their ability to self-sustain, they require very little care and can survive for up to ten years without additional help.  Furthermore, all ecospheres are unique to others in that they house their own special organisms that react differently than the organisms in another ecosphere that is otherwise the same.

The only thing an EcoSphere needs to thrive is a source of light, nothing more. The spheres have an amazing ability to use the light as an energy source and maintain their environment without overusing their resources or overpopulating to the point of failure. Many of them last upwards of ten years, even though they were only meant to survive for two. They are a perfect example of animal and plant life thriving together in an environment to ensure the survival of each species.

There are several different kinds of ecospheres. Many of them can be custom designed to fit certain décor or desires of the customer. They are frequently bought and sold as unique gifts because of their wondrous nature and ability to thrive for so long. Since their invention, the people who create the EcoSpheres have gotten more creative, making a variety of shapes and sizes to appeal to consumers and sell them. The most common shape is a sphere, and they can range in size from the palm of your hand to about the size of a basketball. They also come in oval-like shapes as well. They can be custom designed for the right price also, making it the perfect gift for the relative who has everything.

I should mention the types of organisms that inhabit the EcoSpheres so perfectly that they can exist maintenance free for so long. While the organisms can vary from each one, the general species that are used inside of ecospheres include active micro-organisms, small shrimp, algae and bacteria, each of which exist in filtered sea water. Each EcoSphere also contains a sea fan, gravel, and decorative shells as part of the materials that help to sustain life in the environment. As long as you place it under a source of artificial or natural light-but not too much natural light- in room temperature, you never have to feed or add water to the ecosphere, it exists solely on its own for your viewing pleasure.

The best way to think of an EcoSphere is to picture it as a small version of the Earth we live on. Since Earth itself is technically just a large EcoSphere, it makes sense that the idea for the smaller ones came from our own natural environment. Everything in the tiny EcoSpheres is put to use by their inhabitants. Nothing goes to waste and most of the resources are reused in a sort of cycle by the different organisms. It’s no wonder they are able to be self-sustaining. They are scientifically perfect examples of a balanced ecosystem where all of the organisms provide the necessities of life for the other organisms with nothing going to waste.

You might wonder why the environment of the EcoSpheres never overpopulates and they have just the right amount of nutrients to eliminate waste and survive for up to a decade. The reason for this is because the organisms, mainly the shrimp that are put in the EcoSpheres are chosen to inhabit them because they don’t exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other, including reproduction behaviors. The algae and bacteria that are in the EcoSpheres, however, reproduce continuously, which is the main reason excessive waste never accumulates and there is always balance in the organisms that live in them.

Caring for the EcoSpheres is relatively easy as long as you follow a few important guidelines. First, the system will need light, but not too much light and probably not the amount that would come from direct sunlight exposure. Too much light will make the algae over produce and kill the shrimp, disrupting the balance in the ecosystem inside. It also pretty much goes without saying that you should be pretty gentle with the EcoSphere, don’t shake or drop it because this will also disrupt the environment. It’s important to remember that there are living things in the sphere, even if you can’t see them all, and they will depend on you to successfully survive for years to come.

You may find yourself wanting to clean the EcoSphere if you own one, after a while the algae and bacteria can form a thin film on the glass making it look slightly dirty. It’s important to mention that you don’t really need to clean it, it will thrive just the same, and perhaps even better if you just let it be, but there are ways to clean it if it bothers you. The best way to do this is to use two magnets, one on either side of the glass, with a small cloth in between. You then use the magnets to scrub the glass container gently until it pleases you.

These tiny ecosystems that are modeled after our very own Earth can make a great present for someone you have a hard time shopping for. The average life span of an EcoSphere is between two and three years, but they have been known to last five or even ten years at times. That makes it the perfect present that keeps on giving to the recipient year after year that can help them appreciate the delicate balance living things need to go through to survive, while providing something nice to look at indefinitely. If you are thinking of purchasing one, keep in mind they are not cheap. They can range in price from around $80 to $490 depending on the size of the EcoSphere, but you can sometimes get a discount if you purchase more than one at a time. If you want to appreciate the special conditions that need to exist just to make sure an ecosystem, like Earth, can thrive, an EcoSphere might give you something to meditate on and think about that will put life into its perspective place.

Natural Ways to Lose Weight

Everyone has had the struggle at one time or another, how to lose those extra pounds that you packed on during a holiday season or over the winter. It’s hard to find one thing that works, but there are some natural ways that can help the process of losing weight. Nothing is a quick fix, and you don’t want a quick fix because your body will just bounce right back from it and you’ll be fighting those extra pounds again. There are some simple changes you can make to your everyday life to be healthier and get the added advantage of losing weight. Some tips are going to be easier than others, but it is a journey you have to be willing to take to reap the benefits.

            The first thing you can do to lose weight naturally is something we’ve been hearing our whole lives: drink lots of water. No really, drinking lots of water can and does aid in weight loss. If you drink the recommended amount of water a day, you will not only be less hungry, but your skin will look healthier also. One trick with water involves drinking two large glasses before each meal, which will help you feel fuller and you will eat less overall. As you can imagine, if you do this with every meal you will begin to see a compounding effect. Another thing you can do is add lemons to your water. Lemon juice makes you feel more alert and energized and also aids in metabolism. So if you put those three tips together, you can lose weight just by doing what your body naturally needs. Of course, it takes some effort to reach for the water over the juice or soda, so you have to be willing to use some self-control.

            Another obvious, yet true way to lose weight is by adding some physical activity into your days. I’m not talking running a marathon or Olympian weight lifting, but those are some options that would work. The best thing to do, especially if you are like me and don’t enjoy a good hour of sweating, is adding more walking into your day. Studies have shown that walking and running show no distinct different in the amount of weight lost, and that even exercising one or two times a week is better than none. What helps me is doing little things like parking farther away in the parking lot, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Adding little challenges can add up over a period of time and show some real progress. It is good to at least aim for a 30-minute walk at least three times a week though. More than that is ideal, will help you feel happier and healthier, and help the weight come off and stay off.

            You can exercise all the days of the week for every week of the year and see little to no progress if you don’t make one not so simple change: the way you eat. If you are really struggling with weight, you have to be willing to take a step back and look at your diet. Is it overall healthy? Are you really eating fruits and vegetables every day? Are you skipping meals or forgetting to eat, even? Other studies and many personal trainers agree that losing weight is as much as 90% of your diet and only 10% exercise. If you reach for those carbs, or sugary snacks instead of that apple, it is going to make a difference. Making sure what’s going into your body isn’t completely unneeded is the best way to lose that extra weight. And it’s not going to fall off over night. It took time to gain the weight, and it will take time to shed it off again.

            The very last tip I have for you is about alcohol. If you want to lose extra pounds, cutting alcohol out of your diet is one of the best things you can do. A lot of people don’t realize just how many calories are in alcoholic beverages, and how many extra they may be adding to their diet in just that way after being careful about food and going to the gym. Just one shot of liquor can have anywhere from 90 to 150 calories in it, and I know most people don’t stop with one. Alcohol is also processed as sugar, which isn’t needed by the body and the excess ends up as, you guessed it, body fat.

            I hope these tips are simple enough that it doesn’t seem like climbing Mount Everest to lose some extra weight. My goal was to show some easy changes we can make in our day to day lives without having to give up everything we like to eat or having to spend half of the day exercising. Just check with yourself before you consume anything, ask yourself if your body needs it. Give your body the water it needs to thrive, and don’t ditch all the goodies, just try to eat them in moderation.

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