Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Image from Cooking on the Front Burner
I am forever looking for great salads that can be an easy make-ahead dish for a dinner party/potluck. Special attention is given to ones that can be eaten as a healthy lunch the next day.

Sometimes I make this type of salad just for myself - an easy lunch to grab on a busy week. You do have to be willing to eat the salad for several days  in a row. When busy - I am!

This one hits all points beautifully and the dressing is on the milder side which lets the flavours of each ingredient shine. It also works as a vegetarian main dish salad, so great if you have a mixed group to feed.

For those who have not discovered Yummly, they are a recipe gathering site that send you emails several times a week highlighting the offerings from hundreds (or more) cooking blogs. Each email is often themed - trending this week, summer salads, chicken, etc. I look at every email, but only occasionally does a recipe catch my eye.

The recipe below and image included above are from a blog call Cooking On The Front Burner. I highly suggest you check them out. There are tons of delicious looking offerings and the pictures are truly drool worthy - something I continue to fail at when I take my own.  I guess I need better lighting, better photoshop skills or something.  I'm working on it.

I assembled this salad in the late morning, then served it to company with marinated chicken skewers fresh from the butcher shop and quickly cooked on barbecue.  A fruit salad and some bread and voila, a cool summer repast that was a hit with everyone.  I barely had enough for my lunch the next day. Enjoy!

= = = =

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Ingredients -

1 C         Uncooked quinoa
2 C         Water or vegetable broth
1/2          Large red pepper diced
1/2          Large orange pepper diced
11 oz      Canned corn rinsed and drained
15 oz      Black beans, rinsed and drained
4             Green onions sliced
1/4 C      Chopped cilantro
1/2          Avocado diced
2 T         Apple cider vinegar
2 T         Vegetable oil
3 T          Honey
2 T          Fresh lime juice
2 tsp       Minced fresh jalapenos
1/2 tsp    Dijon mustard
1             Small garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp    Salt
1/4 tsp    Black pepper
1 T         Chopped fresh cilantro (I love this so added more!)

Instructions -

Place the quinoa and water (or broth) in a medium saucepan, bring to boil then cover and cook for 15 minutes or until done. Let rest with top on for about 5 minutes

In a large bowl combine the peppers, onion, black beans, corn, cilantro and avocado - toss gently until mixed and set aside

In a small food processor combine the cider, oil, honey, lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro dijon mustard, garlic and S&P; blend until very smooth - there will be some small pieces left

When the quinoa has cooled a bit add to the veggies, toss to mix and then drizzle the dressing over and mix again.

This can be served warm or chilled

Friday, August 18, 2017

EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson Part 4 of 5 - Amber Nifong, Lauren Kemp of Lo Life, Charné Esterhuizen of MAAK Clothing & Ras Kasozi of Kas Wear

I was so honoured when the founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia offered to let me create a unique show for their event in November in Perth, Australia. It took two weeks to finalize the idea for this upcycling challenge and another one to two weeks to finalize this amazing list of incredible talents - 21 in all representing 12 countries. Each will be creating one unique look from used men's dress shirts (thrift store or flea market finds, discards from family and friends or ?).

These fashion designers were all asked to step out of the box conceptually and have fun with the challenge. Their look should represent them as designers and showcase their creativity. They were asked to do more than just use the shirts as fabric. At least one original detail from the original garments used should be incorporated in their final design.

Here is a brief introduction to the next four designers -  Amber Nifong, Lauren Kemp of Lo Life, Charné Esterhuizen of MAAK Clothing & Ras Kasozi of Kas Wear.  Alex S. Yu, Francesca Phipps, Jessie Liu, Sacha Cooper and Tieler James were covered in Press Release Part 1 - HERE. Aloke Kumar Singh, Camila Castillo, Lesley Hampton & Sam Stringer were covered in Press Release Part 2 - HERE. Anita Heiberg, Jacqueline Zeyi Chen, Sara Armstrong & Stevie Crowne were covered in Press Release Part 3 - HERE. The rest of the designers will be covered in a final press release coming soon.

To read about my  journey to create this challenge, check out my article, "The Move From Media Seat To Backstage."

Amber Nifong (New York City) –

Lauren Kemp, Lo Life Shop (Vancouver) -

  • About – Designer Lauren Kemp describes the garments she creates as, “Repurposed Vintage Goods as Well-Loved and Worn In as your Soul.” She works to keep used garments from ending up in landfils by hand embroidering & re-purposing clothing Remaking them into apparel you wear until it falls apart. Because of the hand detailing, garments aren't “perfect” - they have character!
  • Website - www.lolifeshop.com
  • Studied at – Vancouver Community College
  • Instagram - @lolifeshop
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/LoLifeShop/
Charné Esterhuizen, MAAK Clothing (Canberra) -

  • About – MAAK Clothing focuses on creating sustainable fashions for tomorrow by introducing 3d printing into our range of garments and accessories. The benefits are endless. Mass-customisation, local production, 3D printing and fabrics are combined and then detailed with tailored stitching lines, giving a stylish and unique look. All garments are designed and produced locally in Canberra.
  • Website - www.maakclothing.com
  • Studied at - Canberra Institute of Technology and Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE)
  • Instagram - @maak_clothing
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/MAAKCLOTHING/
  • Linked In - www.linkedin.com/in/charne-esterhuizen-5a9a0ab0/
Ras Kasozi, Kas Wear (Kampala)

  • About –Raz Kasozi is a self taught fashion designer who began his passion at a very young age. Lack of money led him to explore upcycling and the use of different textiles and materials to create the  unique, one-of-a-kind looks that have become his trademark. His collections have been show on the international stage, he collaborates with established designers around the world and is partnered with the U.S. Mission Kampala on Skilled Expressive Entrepreneurial Designers Show (SEED), a project that promotes fashion and entrepreneurship.
  • Website - www.kaswear.com/
  • Studied at – Self-taught
  • Instagram - @raskasozi
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/kaswearfashion/
  • Linked In - www.linkedin.com/in/ras-kasozi-34286b99/

Monday, August 14, 2017

Interview With Georges Benay, Author of Nomad on the Run and Nomad's Premonition


Can you share a bit about what led you to walk away from your career in international banking to embrace writing (and photography)?

Fatigue and exhaustion. After twenty years of investment banking, I thought I needed to do something different with my life. Not that investment banking was no longer fulfilling or that it did not have its rewards, it's just that I needed a break. A question of rebooting my passion for what I was doing, if you will. I've always been writing. If you consider essays, poetry, short stories, business proposals, reports and speeches, I guess you might say that writing is in my DNA. So why not write a novel. What a neat idea I thought at the time! And I've not stopped writing since then.

When you began your first book - Nomad On The Run - had you already planned to make this a series?

Nomad on the Run was my first attempt at a full scale novel. When I started writing it I'd no idea where story line would take me, what would happen to my protagonist after the first couple of chapters, or how the novel would end. It was indeed a total experiment. It's only while doing readings at local libraries when the novel was completed, that I realized that there was much more to tell about Eric's adventures. Readers wanted to know what was going to happen to Eric, they needed a good answer for why anyone had to die, and they were not convinced that the algorithm had been destroyed. Some particularly avid readers even called for retribution. In short there was much unfinished business with the first novel and so the idea of the series came about. 

The Nomad's Premonition is the second book in the series. It takes place in Turkey where Eric is confronted with new challenges and hopes to find answers to some of the unresolved mysteries.

Review coming Aug. 31st
How did you develop the characters included in this series? Were they based on people you have met in your previous career?

My characters are all purely fictional. Naturally, I borrowed from my past life to create composite personalities for certain key players in the novel. Most successful investment bankers are cut from the same mold. They are driven people, relentless in their pursuit of the deal, used to winning at all costs, and exude confidence that borders on arrogance. My challenge was to incorporate these "fine" qualities in my protagonist and add a softer human side to the mix so as to make Eric more likable. The villains on the other hand were totally new to me. They came in the novel as fully developed personalities just like magic. Valerie is special to me as a character. Someone I'd love to meet in real life.

What kind of research/travel was necessary to bring authenticity to the stories settings, especially Morocco, and the the interactions with government agencies?
Luckily for me, I've spent my early teenage years roaming the streets of Casablanca. So when I describe the medina, the Corniche d'Ain Diab or the Boulevard D'Anfa, these places are all part of my youth and are deeply rooted in my memory bank. My interactions with various government agencies as a former investment and corporate banker also served me well in writing the novel.

Does your work as a photographer influence your work as a writer in any way?

Absolutely. I often use my photographs as a source of inspiration to convey in words the image that I captured digitally and how the scenery made me feel at the time. A novel to me is a series of vignettes, artfully woven together so that everyone can feel a connection and experience a range of emotions. Just like my photographs, I want my stories to have impact at an emotional level.

How do your organize your time when working on a new book? Research? Working on Manuscript? Pre-marketing?

Review - HERE!
There are a couple of things I do when I'm working on a new book. I stop reading other authors' work and I do not follow a rigid outline. In fact, I shy away from documenting my ideas in great detail beforehand. I remain totally flexible about the storyline preferring instead to let the mood of the moment mold the plot or even allow the characters to guide me where they want me to go with the story. My only discipline is to sit in front of my computer every morning and write. Sometimes I manage to produce one whole sentence for all my efforts, other times an entire chapter. Inspiration is like creativity. Without notice it'll take you where it wants you to go and will leave you with no control over the amount of writing you can produce at any one time.

I approach research in a totally different way. I'm thorough, disciplined, and systematic. If you want to be credible and make sure that your novel has an authentic feel to it, you better be certain of your facts. For obvious reasons, I leave pre-marketing activities to the very end. It's definitely not the fun part of the job.

As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore?
Writing to me is first of all about sharing. As I tackle my manuscript, I find myself sharing new ideas with my characters. Sometimes they like my ideas, sometimes they reject them but the interactions are always enjoyable. Writing a novel is always full of surprises and that's what I like the most about it. I always look forward to my next day of writing until the novel is completed to my total satisfaction. Writing to me is not a job, it's a passion. It's never a shore.

What's next for you as an author? Any new titles in development?


Well, I'm getting ready to complete the Nomad trilogy. I've an idea or two of where I'd like to anchor the new novel in the series and I need to work on a new plot. I'll be travelling to Australia and New Zealand this winter to explore and test my choice of locations. As to the plotline, does anyone out there have any ideas for a new adventure for our hero? If you do please send them to me. Cheers!

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Photography Website  ~  Twitter



Nomad on the Run by Georges Benay

​Beneath the golden desert and azure seas of Morocco lurks a hidden world of greed, deceit and financial terrorism. But the players are not who you might think. 

Synopsis - 

Lured away from his seemingly idyllic life as a managing director for a major international bank in Toronto, Eric Martin returns to his ancestral roots in Morocco.

Tempted by a mysterious offer from a boutique financial firm, Eric soon discovers he has walked into the middle of a whirlwind where everyone has their own secret agenda, and he unwittingly has become the key to unlocking them all. From the broad avenues of Toronto to the mean streets of Casablanca, Eric rushes to discover the truth before time runs out. But who can he trust?

The power and attraction of money is strong. In the midst of a dangerous cast of characters, Jeff Offenbach, bank president, knows more than he lets on. But how much does he know? Is he a key player in a scheme to terrorize the global economy, or is he just trying to save his firm from becoming another victim of the global economic collapse? Valerie is the unknown factor. Is she involved in the partners' machinations, or is she as guileless as Eric? Can he trust her? And more importantly, will he survive long enough to find out?
Review - 

After a really hectic day of work - something that seems to be de rigueur at this moment - it 's always a welcome distraction to pick up an engaging work of fiction.  Nomad on the Run by Georges Benay did not disappoint. The author's previous career in banking and extensive travels allowed him bring his characters and settings alive. I could picture them in my mind as I read.

Nomad on the Run offers a great range of characters, unique settings, danger and romance all combine in this unique tale of international intrigue. personal danger and global threat. The main character, Eric Martin, is a financial wizard looking for change in both his professional and personal life.  When an offer comes in to work in exotic Morocco the answer is yes. This move will not only bring a breath of fresh air to his career, it will allow him to connect with his ancestral roots. After settling in, though, it quickly becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Dark clouds begin to form.

The world is faced with shady dealings that could bring financial ruin and fund a radical terrorist organization. In the middle of it all, Eric finds himself falling in love with Valerie, the daughter of his boss.  Can their relationship survive the chaos surround them? Even more important can they survive? And can Eric find a way to stop the plot before it is too late?

Buy the Book:  ​Amazon  Add on Goodreads


Meet the Author - 

Great author interview HERE!

Georges Benay is a former international banker who is now working as a Toronto-based writer and award-winning photographer. He is the author of two novels, including The Nomad's Premonition and a collection of short stories. His award winning pictures have been featured in several magazines and book covers.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson Part 3 of 5 - Anita Heiberg, Jacqueline Zeyi Chen, Sara Armstrong & Stevie Crowne

I was so honoured when the founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia offered to let me create a unique show for their event in November in Perth, Australia. It took two weeks to finalize the idea for this upcycling challenge and another one to two weeks to finalize this amazing list of incredible talents - 21 in all representing 12 countries. Each will be creating one unique look from used men's dress shirts (thrift store or flea market finds, discards from family and friends or ?).

These fashion designers were all asked to step out of the box conceptually and have fun with the challenge. Their look should represent them as designers and showcase their creativity. They were asked to do more than just use the shirts as fabric. At least one original detail from the original garments used should be incorporated in their final design.

Here is a brief introduction to the next four designers. Alex S. Yu, Francesca Phipps, Jessie Liu, Sacha Cooper and Tieler James were covered in Press Release Part 1 - HERE. Aloke Kumar Singh, Camila Castillo, Lesley Hampton & Sam Stringer were covered in Press Release Part 2 - HERE. The rest of the designers will be covered in upcoming posts so please check back.

To read about my the journey to create this challenge, check out my article, "The Move From Media Seat To Backstage."

Anita Heiberg, 13 Dresses (Berlin)


  • About – Anita Heiberg has over 10 years experience as a designer and patterng cutter for numerous independent designers as well as her own eponymous label. Most recently, she founded a unique interactive crowdsourced sustainable fashion design platform called 13 Dresses. The designer's mission, to leverage technology to accelerate sustainable social and environmental change in apparel production.
  • Studied at - Kwantlen Polytechnic Univessity, Central Saint Martins in London and Esmod Berlin.
  • Website - www.anitaheiberg.com/ and www.13dresses.com/
  • Instagram - @anitaheiberg and @13dresses
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/anita.heiberg/ and www.facebook.com/13Dresses/

Jacqueline Zeyi Chen, Zeyi Studio (Guangzhou) -


Sara Armstrong (Vancouver) –


  • About - Armstrong creates ready to wear pieces for Men and Women, with an androgynous blur, at once loyal to the functionality of heritage craftsmanship and subversive in their welcoming of innovative details. The designer's formal training in sculpture is immediately apparent in pieces that balance complex geometries with pared-down simplicity.
  • Studied at – Blanche Macdonald
  • Website - www.sararmstrong.com/
  • Instagram - @sararmstrong
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/sararmstronglabel/
  • Twitter - @sararmstrong_

Stevie Crowne (Toronto) -

  • About – Canadian fashion designer Stevie Crowne, 22, designs his collections recycling top quality vintage and thrift styles. Deemed an Eco-Friendly label creating 2+ collections per year since 2011, he upcycles his findings into newer and more edgy-contemporary fashion garments. In this process, he breathes new air into vintage clothing by refurbishing the original idea into a new piece.
  • Studied at – Self-taught.
  • Website www.steviecrowne.com/
  • Instagram - @steviecrowne
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/StevieCrowneDesign/

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson Part 2 of 5 - Meet Aloke Kumar Singh, Camila Castillo, Lesley Hampton & Sam Stringer


I was so honoured when the founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia offered to let me create a unique show for their event in November in Perth, Australia. It took two weeks to finalize the idea for this upcycling challenge and another one to two weeks to finalize this amazing list of incredible talents - 21 in all representing 12 countries. Each will be creating one unique look from used men's dress shirts (thrift store or flea market finds, discards from family and friends or ?).

These fashion designers were all asked to step out of the box conceptually and have fun with the challenge. Their look should represent them as designers and showcase their creativity. They were asked to do more than just use the shirts as fabric. At least one original detail from the original garments used should be incorporated in their final design.

Here is a brief introduction to the next four designers. Alex S. Yu, Francesca Phipps, Jessie Liu, Sacha Cooper and Tieler James were covered in Press Release Part 1 - HERE. The rest of the designers will be covered in upcoming posts so please check back.

To read about my the journey to create this challenge, check out my article, "The Move From Media Seat To Backstage."

Aloke Kumar Singh, Micronesium & ESEDS (Kolkata) -

  • About Miconesium sources scraps and leftover cloth from export houses. Khadi and organic textiles are then combined with scraps of other material. The label is an exercise in waste management. They also work with certified organic and sustainable fabrics which are dyed with different herbs, flowers and left over fruit skins and are working on a project with banana and bamboo fabrics and legitimate nonviolent silk
  • Studied at – London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and National Institute of Fashion Technology
  • WebsiteRelaunching in September 2017
  • ESEDS School of Design - www.eseds.com/
  • Twitter - @micronesium1
Camila Castillo, Camila X Castillo (Venezuela/U.S.) –

  • About - Camila Castillo's work as a designer has always been influenced by the visual arts. She loves to work on a manequin, cutting and folding the material until she finds interesting geometric compositions that she adapts to the curves of a woman. Her innovative work also incoporates the usue of innovative technoloby such as 3D printing and laser cutting.
  • Studied at - Neumann school of graphic design (very material oriented/bauhaus influence), followed by pattern making courses at seamstress schools.
  • Instagram - @camilaxcastillo
  • Twitter - @camilaxcastillo
Lesley Hampton (Toronto) -

Sam Stringer (Vancouver) -

  • About - Sam Stringer is known for red carpet ready, one of a kind, elaborate and luxurious evening gowns that combine traditional mastery with modern aesthetic to create. Her silhouettes offer a wonderful fusion that celebrate both art and fashion.
  • Studied at – Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Instagram - @sammyjay666

Friday, August 4, 2017

EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson Part 1 of 5 - Meet Alex S. Yu, Jessie Liu,

I was so honoured when the founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia offered to let me create a unique show for their event in November in Perth, Australia.  It took two weeks to finalize the idea for this upcycling challenge and another one to two weeks to finalize this amazing list of incredible talents - 21 in all representing 12 countries. Each will be creating one unique look from used men's dress shirts (thrift store or flea market finds, discards from family and friends or ?).

These fashion designs were all asked to step out of the box conceptually and have fun with the challenge. Their look should represent them as designers and showcase their creativity.  They were asked to do more than just  use the shirts as fabric. At least one original detail from the original garments used should be incorporated in their final design. 

Here is a brief introduction to the first five.  The others will be covered in upcoming posts so please check back.  To read about my the journey to create this challenge check out my article, "The Move From Media Seat To Backstage."

Alex S. Yu (London, Vancouver Taipei) -

  • About - ALEX S. YU's aesthetics rollick the happy emotions of childhood, nostalgia and wanderlust; and ponder the very definition of femininity in a modern, quirky way through garments.d unusual silhouettes while mixing and using different colours and fabric weights in one garment.
  • Studied at – Blanche Macdonald Center (Canada) and London College of Fashion (UK)
  • Websitewww.alexsyu.com
  • Instagram - @alex.s.yu
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/pg/alexsyualexsyu/
Francesca Phipps (London)


  • About – Francesca Phipps is always trying to find new innovative silhouettes with a mixture of tailoring and drape. Drapery is a very strong skill for the designer, something she is always pushing the boundaries of. She constantly explores the experimental use of colour and alternative construction of materials and fabrications
  • Studied at - De Montfort University (Leicester).
  • Website - www.artsthread.com/profile/francescaphipps/
  • Instagram - @francescaphippsfashion
  • Facebook - www.facebook.com/francesca.phipps/

Jessie Liu (San Francisco) -


·         About – Jessie Liu designs timeless and innovative styles with flattering silhouettes which enhance the existing beauty and confidence of her clients. Style, function, beauty and freedom collide in her designs.  Each season the designer selects luxurious fabrications and creates bold graphic prints that appear almost three dimensional amongst more muted tones adding balance to her eponymous RTW collection.
·         Studied at - Academy of Art University
·         Website - www.jessieliucollection.com/
·         Instagram - @jessieliucollection/
·         Facebook - www.facebook.com/jessieliucollection/

Sacha Cooper, Cooper Hotcooture (Luxembourg) -


·         About - Cooper Hotcooture is a ready-to-wear fashion label located in Luxembourg that offers subtle sexiness, affordable wearable couture and more importantly, unique designs that are handmade in Luxembourg.  The label stands for fine fashion and exclusive garments,
·         Studied at - ESMOD and AMD ('Akademie für Mode & Design)
·         Website - www.cooperhotcooture.lu/
·         Instagram - @cooperhotcooture/
·         Facebook - www.facebook.com/CooperHotcooture/

Tieler James (New Orleans) -
·         About – Tieler James was a finalist on Project Runway Junior and is the youngest designer participating.  His vision is to design clothing for all women that will let them feel powerful and beautiful as soon as they are.
·         Studied at – Self taught. James is still in high school.
·         Website - www.tielerjames.com/
·         Instagram - @tielerjamesdesigns
·         Facebook - www.facebook.com/designertieler/

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Move From Media Seat to Backstage - EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R. Wilson

Since September 2007, I have been in my media seat for hundreds and hundreds of fashion shows - Vancouver Fashion Week, Eco Fashion Week, Couture Fashion Week, Montreal Fashion Week (folded), fashion design school grad shows and solo designer shows.  It has been an incredible experience and I always leave inspired.

For those who do not know - I sewed dance costumes professionally for five years, everything from jazz pants to tutus. When watching these shows there are several things that catch my eye.  Lush or unusual fabrics, interesting silhouettes and proportions, and ultimately strong tailoring and finishing skins. Please, please don't let me see unclipped random threads waving in the spotlight!

Every now and then over the last decade I dreamt of creating a unique fashion show of my own, but I never had the resources to make it happen. I assumed it would always stay simply a dream. Then a few weeks ago, Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) unexpectedly took my dream and made it a reality.

When EFWA founder Zuhal Kuvan-Mills reached out and offered me the opportunity to step behind the scenes creatively, I was floored and utterly grateful.  I knew immediately I had to find a way to honour this gift through my show's concept and also be true to who I have always been as media - someone who supports the industry as widely as possible.


After two weeks of letting ideas flow, I settled on an upcycling challenge which I felt was fully in line with what EFWA was all about. Each designer was asked to create a single runway look from used men's dress shirts - thrift stores, flea markets, friend's/family's castoffs, etc. They would be encouraged to step out of the box. Creativity, dream big, think unique and stretch yourself artistically were the ideas I encouraged them to embrace. Each were also asked to not just use the shirts as fabric, but to try and include at least one detail from the original garments.



Idea finalized, I began to reach out to designers I had been privileged to see on the runway. I started by going through all my VFW write-ups from 2014 to 2017 in particular to help me bring in artists from around the world. Then I moved into my write-ups for other shows I'd attended. Some artists I knew fairly well as I had been covering them for awhile. Others I had only seen their work. And in the end, two came to me through recommendations. While there were a few no's - the response overall has been incredibly positive.

Zuhal generously increased the spots available from 15 to 20, which quickly filled up.  Then through a mistake on my part, I realized I actually had 21 confirmed - so 21 it is, representing 12 countries!



I could not be more excited about the amazing designers who have chosen to participate. As I wait for proper designer images and information so I can do the official EFWA press releases, I decided I couldn't wait any longer. SOOOO -  I'm sharing it first with you on Olio By Marilyn.

Here is the final list of fashion designers by country who will be bringing their artistry to the first ever EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R. Wilson!

= = = =
Australia
Lara Ireland (Sydney) - www.instagram.com/lara.j.ireland/
MAAK Clothing (Canberra) - www.maakclothing.com

Belgium
Markéta Martišková (Antwerp) – www.marketa-martiskova.tumblr.com/

Canada
Alex S. Yu (Vancouver) - www.alexsyu.com/
Sara Armstrong (Vancouver) – www.sararmstrong.com/
Evan Clayton (Vancouver) – www.evanclayton.ca/
Lauren Kemp, Lo Life Shop (Vancouver) - www.lolifeshop.com
Sam Stringer (Vancouver) - www.samstringer.net/
Stevie Crowne (Toronto) - www.steviecrowne.com/
Lesley Hampton (Toronto) - http://www.lesleyhampton.com/

China
Jacqueline Zeyi Chen, Zeyi Studio - www.zeyistudio.com/

Germany
Anita Heiberg, 13 Dresses (Berlin) - www.anitaheiberg.com/

India
Aloke Kumar Singh (Kolkata), Micronesium (www.facebook.com/micronesium) & Co-founder ESEDS School of Design (www.eseds.com/)

Japan
Yasuhiro Tomita, Rukus (Toyko) - http://www.rukus.jp/

Luxembourg
Sacha Cooper, Cooper Hotcooture - www.cooperhotcooture.lu/

United Kingdom
Francesca Phipps (London) - www.instagram.com/francescaphippsfashion/

Uganda
Ras Kasozi, Kas Wear – www.kaswear.blogspot.ca/

United States
Tieler James (Project Runway Junior – New Orleans) - www.tielerjames.com/
Amber Nifong (NYC) - www.anifong.com/
Jessie Liu (San Francisco) - www.jessieliucollection.com/

Venezuela/US
Camila Castillo, Camila X Castillo – www.camilaxcastillo.com/

Traveling While Sober: How To Find The Right Destination And Have Fun

Photo via Pixabay by Free-Photos

Guest article by Michelle Peterson of RecoveryPride.org

For individuals in recovery, it can be difficult to find a getaway that doesn’t include alcohol and parties, yet taking a vacation is sometimes necessary, especially if you’ve been working hard towards a healthy path in life.

Fortunately, there are several sober-friendly vacation spots you can consider, and there are several simple ways you can ensure your trip is safe, fun, and in line with your needs. It’s important to do some research beforehand and find the right destination, check on tour packages or discounts, and think about what you’d like to do on your vacation. Will you want to relax and play it by ear, or have your days planned out? For some people in recovery, knowing what comes next is an important part of staying sober, so you might want to take that into consideration and make some plans for tours and activities.

Here are some of the best ways to have fun and stay safe on your sober vacation.

Do some research

Look online to find out what the best sober vacation destinations are for your plans. There are campouts, cruises, and beaches you can attend that have a sober-living vibe, and some of them have planned activities so you can socialize and meet new people. Other destinations are retreats, which feature time spent outdoors, yoga classes, and 12-step workshops. If your sobriety is a recent change in your life, these retreats can be extremely helpful.

Bring your pet

For an individual who is in recovery, traveling with a companion can be comforting and help with feelings of anxiety or depression. Traveling alone can be difficult, especially if you have a hard time meeting new people, so having your pet there might be just what you need to feel safe and comfortable. Service dogs are especially helpful in times of stress or loneliness; if you don’t already have one, consider getting one. These animals are usually fairly expensive, because they receive special training, but they are wonderful companions and can help with a wide variety of mood disorders.

For more information about traveling with your dog, read on HERE.












Know what to avoid

Once you’ve figured out what you want in a vacation, think about what you don’t want. All-inclusive resorts are almost always a bad idea for individuals who are in recovery, because they often feature open bars and events that are saturated with alcohol. If you think you’ll feel uncomfortable in a place where you don’t know the language, consider taking a trip somewhere in the States. Reducing anxiety and stress is the goal, so think about what would make you the most comfortable.

Stay connected

Vacations are usually a great reason to unplug and forget about everything that’s waiting for you at home, but it’s a good idea to stay connected when you’re in rehab. Keep in touch with your sponsor or therapist, or talk to a good friend or family member and let them know where you’ll be, who will be with you, and when you expect to be back. Safety is a priority while you’re traveling, especially if you’re alone.

It’s also a good idea not to flash your cash and keep your bag strapped to you at all times when you go out. Make sure your phone is always charged, and never get in a car with someone you don’t know, even if they are part of the same group you’re in on a retreat. For a checklist of all the things to consider during a trip, go here.

Keep in mind that your needs should take priority on this trip. Think about what would make you the most comfortable and happy; try new things; have fun. Make some memories and learn to let go of stress and unhappiness.

= = = = =

Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NSAEN Online Film Festival - Interview With Executive Producer/Entertainer Brian T Shirley

One day I received an email from industry connection Beatrice Davis letting me know about a very interesting new Film Festival called No Strings Attached (NSAENFF).  It is the brainchild of NSAEN lifestyle magazine and was conceived in support of writing, storytelling, film and entertainment. And I loved the unique twist - it's an ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL.

In addition to highlighting amazing films, directors and writers - NSAENFF also has a wonderful charity aspect. They have partnered with Cheers to the Warrior Foundation which supports veterans.  One dollar from every entry free and five percent of all sponsorship dollars will go towards this cause.

Entry fees have been kept low to make it accessible to those in the early stages of their careers. What they need now is help spreading the word. For my part I reached out to the event's executive producer for this great behind the scenes Q and A. 

What can YOU do? Please help spread the word through email and posting on your social media sites  Thanks in advance for your support of the arts!

= = = = = 

What is the statement missions of the festival?

The NSAEN Online Film Festival was created to bring together filmmakers from around the world to showcase their work in an exclusively online format.

Recognizing that online is the new way of watching movies, news, and television series, the NSAEN team wanted to reach out and create a new movement in the world of entertainment and independent film with a concept that recognizes the new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity and produce fresh, standout entertainment. The NSAEN Film Festival invites both seasoned and new filmmakers and film professionals from around the world to submit entries for their exceptional online film festival.

Brian T. Shirley

Note - We recognize there is a growing community of disabled filmmakers and we enthusiastically invite you to participate in our inaugural festival.


What can film makers expect to gain from submitting?  Early Bird July 1 $15, Regular $20, Late Submissions $25 Explain the process.

 The board members will take the official selections and choose the TOP3 in each category. Then we will pass these on to our Celebrity Judging panel who will choose the Top film in each category. These Top films, except for "Short Film" category, will receive a distribution deal with Shami Media Group!! All the Tope 3 films will receive extensive exposure on all our media outlets. The Top 3 "Short Films" and each of the Winners of each category will be shown on AHR WEB TV Network, press releases in NSAEN magazine and also film maker interviews.  A portion of each submission fee will go to the "Cheers to the Warriors" Foundation, which goes to help combat injured veterans. All submissions will be mentioned on the site, so every selection will get some sort of exposure!!

NSAEN FF has partnered with "Cheers to the Warriors" Veterans Foundation, tell us about that.

What a great organization!

Cheers to the Warriors is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that's primary mission is providing financial assistance through monetary grants to U.S. veterans who have been injured in combat.  We also assist with applying for VA benefits, and helping to find and refer those veterans in need to other local organizations we have personally vetted, for more personalized assistance. Our team of volunteers includes several combat-injured veterans who speak with and understand the struggles newly injured veterans and their families are facing, and are available day or night for assistance.

The organization was founded in 2014 by a disabled Marine Corps veteran and his wife. The couple sought to share their knowledge and personal experiences with others who may be struggling with their new lives. Since operations began, Cheers to the Warriors has provided tens of thousands of dollars of financial assistance to combat-injured veterans and is proud to have prevented 4 veteran suicides.


You also mentioned the media outlets and partners, can people still become a sponsor or partner?

Yes we have a wonderful Sponsor package and Media Kit and a portion of sponsor dollars also go to the Cheers to the Warriors Foundation. For more information, contact Janice Hermsen (Director of Media Relation) via email at janice@lrpnv.com, or call Beatrice Davis at 773-525-5744, or email us at film@nostringsattached-enews.com,

Important Links - 

Celebrity Judges - 

Festival is pleased to announce its distinguished panel of judges for this year’s festival.











Ricky Muse -Actor

An actor, known for the Movies Disney’s My Fake Finance, Tammy (2014), Lawless (2012) and Trouble with the Curve (2012), Christmas Office Party (2016) and many commercials.


Gordon Danniels - Actor

An actor, known for The Great Debaters (2007), Hall Pass (2011) and Gifted(2017), many Television shows such as Heat of the Night. Gordan will be seen in the next season of Netflix House of Cards.

Yeniffer Behrens-Mendoza - Actress/Producer


Victor Warren - Director/Writer/Producer/Actor

International Film Festival – ALONE











Donald Newton "Donnie" Van Zant - Musician

An American rock vocalist/guitarist. He is best known as having been a member of the band 38 Special, from its formation in 1974 until 2013. He is the middle of three brothers: his older brother Ronnie was the original lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a 1977 plane crash in Mississippi along with five other members and associates of the band; his younger brother Johnny is the current Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lead singer as of 2016. Donnie and Johnny also perform together from time to time as the group Van Zant.

Dan Glazer - Host/Comedian

Hosts 2 live Web Tv Shows: Hollywood South and Comics on Parole. Dan also has performed Stand Up Comedy at Louie Anderson’s club in Vegas, Hosted for WSB Radio’s Jim Gosset, Hosted Jerry Farber’s Side Door Open Mic, and performed at the Atlanta’s Punchline, Laughing Skull, Atlanta Comedy theater and more.

Dexter Tucker –Actor/Comedian

John Roy "Johnny" Van Zant – Musician

An American musician and the current lead vocalist of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He is the younger brother of the late Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder and former lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, and of the .38 Special founder, Donnie Van Zant.












Roe Moore - Filmmaker/Script Supervisor/Director


Deborah Hayter - Founder and President of DHPR (Dalke-Hayter Public Relations)


Liz Manashil - Screenwriter/Filmmaker/Film Critic


Natalie Camunas - Actor/Writer












Bob Shami


Britain Valenti - Playwright/Performance Artist


Priscilla Leona - Producer/Director/Screenwriter/Actress/Plus-Size Model/Television and Radio Host


AuxiliaryJudge Drew Howard - Comedian/Improvisations