Sunday Stories for February 16th, 2014

NYC Broadway at NightNYC Broadway at NightNYC Broadway at NightNYC Broadway at Night

What a week – I’ve been struggling to kick a sore throat-cough-congestion thing to the curb (almost, but not quite, have that under control), meaning that Valentine’s Day was spent on the couch, bundled up and trying to get plenty of rest. I was still spoiled with roses, wine, jewelry, and a nice surf and turf dinner, though, and I’m heading into the next week feeling pretty darn special – even if I plan to continue couch rest for a few more days.

Of course, couch rest meant that I had plenty of time to find some interesting reads to share today, so let’s get started.

NYC Broadway at Night

Travel Agents on the NY Stage

It’s  been way too long since I’ve spent any time in New York City, let alone seen a Broadway show, but now I’m thinking that I may need to go off-Broadway for a look at what sounds like a funny play about the travel business. The play is funded by the players within the travel industry as well, so it presents as intersting business model as well. Who’s up for going off Broadway to see what they do with this theme?

Michele Ragusa and Thom Sesma portray ex-spouses and rival travel agents in Craving for Travel, produced by real-life agent Jim Strong. In the 1600s William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” Now more than 400 years later, the Bard’s words are ringing true for those of us in the travel industry. 

Beyond Dinner: Five-Ingredient Molten Chocolate Cake

Say what you want about this dessert being passe, it’s still one that I can rarely pass up. The warm gooey goodness, along with a complementary glass of red wine to go with it, is a perfect way to end a meal. I never knew it was so easy to make – and it may be dangerous for my diet plans now that I know that it is. Anyone else a sucker for this molten chocolate cake?

One of the reasons there’s absolutely no reason to banish molten chocolate cakes from your dessert diet, trendy or not, is that the ingredient list runs only five ingredients long. There’s butter (salted), sugar, eggs, chocolate, and a tiny spoonful of flour.

3 Shortbread Recipes Way Better Than Storebought

And while I’m on the subject of decadent desserts, what about the classic shortbread cookie. While I’ve always considered them a nice treat, I didn’t fully appreciate their delicious goodness until spending a couple weeks in Ireland, served alongside a proper cuppa. Once back at home I found myself browsing for familiar brands in my local stores, and while not exactly the same, I’ve come close. Now I learn I can make them at home pretty darn easy.

Today, we’d like to dedicate some love to shortbread, that melt-in-your-mouth buttery cookie that goes perfectly with almost any beverage — and any situation. Here are three recipes we think will fuel your own shortbread addiction.

Paris neighborhood with Notre Dame

The BEST Book Stores in Paris

It would have been easy to continue my food theme, especially since I’m moving onto stories about Paris, but this post caught my eye because it’s about another favorite thing to do – wander around in bookstores. Maybe you do, too? Have you checked out these?

Paris, the City of Light, is known for its amazing museums, delicious food, and fashionable boutiques. But, did you know it also is home to several wonderful bookstores? On a recent visit to Paris, we stopped at three shops where we always enjoying browsing the aisles for interesting titles (and more). All are located in our favorite Parisian neighborhood, the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres.

How to be a pro at getting a haircut in France

French women are known for having a certain chic elegance about them, always seeming so completely pulled together. Many times I’ve wondered how they do it, and whether it’s do-it-yourself or if they spend lots of time at the salon. With these handy tips for a hair appointment in France, I just might have to give it a go next time I’m in Paris.

Salons in France are as plentiful as boulangeries. Walk down the street in any reasonably-sized city and you’ll have more than enough choices. From chain salons to privately owned salons, you can find something to fit every budget, so shop around before you decide on one.

6 Surprising Facts About Cuba’s Legal System

On a more serious bit of news, this story comes after delegation of U.S. lawyers headed to Cuba to learn more about the legal and judicial system in that country. Or, maybe it was just a way to visit the island and avoid the embargo restrictions. I’ll let you decide, but I did think their findings were interesting.

Overall, the Cuban people feel that they have a very sensible court system that is not bogged down with procedures or roadblocks to a resolution. The new generation of Cubans is focused on the future, and strongly desires opening up political and personal relations with the U.S.

Kitser in sink

Kids Read to Cats with the “Book Buddies Program” at The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania

What’s not to like about this idea:  Kids reading, shelter animals getting socialization, everyone wins, right? I love this idea.

Children in grades 1-8 who are able to read at any level may come into the shelter to read to the cats in our adoption room. Similar programs at other shelters across the country have seen the benefits the program has to offer. The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the shelter animals. Cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.

The Cats That Rule Istanbul

I always love the photo essays about the cats in Istanbul, and this one is no exception.

A city that loves cats as much as I do? Go on…..





Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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