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How to make any occasion sparkle

(BPT) – What if everyone spent a little more time and energy celebrating everyday moments, tiny victories and micro-achievements? Rather than focusing on the negative, directing your attention toward what you are grateful for, and making a special occasion out of those things, is the secret to a happier life – according to many psychologists, writers and self-help experts.

So what can you do, right now, to add a little more sparkle to your life, to celebrate those little occasions that actually make the difference between a bad day and a great one?

  1. Tune up your tablescape

Whether you just made it through a grueling day of meetings at work, you managed to take the car in for an oil change or you got through the holidays unscathed, it’s worth celebrating!

So roll out a tablecloth and light a few candles for dinner tonight – even if it’s takeout or delivered. Turn off your phone and relish the moment!

  1. Dress to impress

Going out to dinner with your significant other for the first time in ages? Or maybe you’re staying in for a night with friends?

What’s stopping you from dressing up as if it was your first date or as if you’re headed to a cocktail party? Toss on that little black dress or a fun, festive outfit just because. Add some sparkly accessories or makeup and enjoy the reaction when you show up looking like a million bucks!

  1. Drink something sparkly

For those everyday moments that you want to celebrate, fill a glass with a delicious sparkling wine, like Riondo Prosecco Spago Nero, or use it to create a tasty cocktail. Riondo Prosecco has a light effervescence and fresh notes of apple and pear that make any ordinary occasion seem extra special.

Follow the lead of media personality, author, entrepreneur and restaurateur Giuliana Rancic by embracing the authentic flavor of Italy while you enjoy Giuliana Prosecco. Elevate your everyday dinner as you savor the fruity and elegant prosecco – or serve it to guests at your next awards show viewing party!

Or for a bigger occasion, make a statement with another great prosecco worthy of New Year’s Eve, a wedding or an anniversary. Nino Franco Rustico Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG will impress your guests or fellow revelers with its crisp, bright, refreshing and fruity taste.

  1. Celebrate someone you love

Stop at a party store and pick up banners, glitter, confetti or other decorations to celebrate someone you care about. Surprise them by decorating their doorway with a sign that says “Congratulations” or “Welcome Home” – even if they’ve just been at work all day.

Bring flowers, cupcakes or other special treats to celebrate being together and whatever mini-accomplishment your loved one may have achieved recently – or simply for being there for you when you needed them.

Show that person how much you love that they are a part of your life, and have a mini-party, just the two of you.

  1. Crank up the music

Instead of the drone of the TV or talk radio, play your favorite upbeat tunes on the way home from a long day at work. Crank up songs you love at home while you do your household chores to put some pep in your step.

Make a “victory playlist” to celebrate finishing a tedious appointment or completing a project. Then set your favorite song as your ringtone.

Let each day be an opportunity to enjoy everything life has to offer, and to celebrate being a part of it. By adding just a little extra sparkle, everyday moments can become special occasions.

Get hitched without a hitch!

Get hitched without a hitch!

(BPT) – Your wedding is one of the most memorable days of your life. To pull off the big day of your dreams, it is important to have a plan in place.

The average engagement in the United States lasts 16 months – this may seem like a lot of time, but with so many details to account for, it will fly by. Weddings have many moving parts, so couples need to prioritize and prepare for the unexpected in case their big day doesn’t go exactly as they’d hoped.

To ensure that your special day goes as smoothly as possible, keep these tips in mind:

Vet your vendors

Couples have to rely on many different vendors – from caterers and transportation companies to florists and venues. Depending on so many different people can leave room for error – just ask the couple whose DJ couldn’t make the reception because he was in jail.

To protect your investment, make sure trust is established between you and your vendors. Start by thoroughly researching potential vendors, including talking to past customers, to ensure they are reputable. Then follow up with them throughout the planning process to make sure you are still on the same page.

Don’t lose out on your deposits

According to the Brides American Wedding Study, the average cost of a wedding in 2018 was more than $44,000. Clearly, a wedding is a significant financial investment. To protect against potential losses, couples should use a credit card instead of a check or debit card whenever possible for deposits. In the event something happens, a credit card payment is easier to recoup than cash.

Say “I do” to expert help

Planning a wedding is no easy feat – it is quite literally a full-time job. Couples can make the process a lot easier by hiring a wedding planner to make sure everything is covered. These experts will use their experience and many talents – like communication and planning skills, negotiation and problem-solving – to help your wedding dreams become a reality.

Dealing with destinations

Destination weddings are definitely on trend as couples seek Instagrammable, unique locations around the world for their special day. If you’re taking this route, factor additional money into the budget to cover unforeseen expenses. Consider hiring a local wedding planner who will be familiar with reliable venues and vendors in the area. Additionally, many destination weddings take place outdoors, and unpredictable weather could roll in at any time. It is important to have a back-up plan when it comes to venues, photographers or any vendor that could face a problem and be unable to provide their contracted services.

Invest in peace of mind

Because you can’t guarantee that everything will go right on your big day, wedding insurance solution providers like WedSafe can help protect your investment with wedding insurance. Investing in wedding insurance, on average, costs less than half of your three-tiered wedding cake. Wedding insurance generally comes in two forms:

  • Wedding Cancellation Insurance. This coverage offers protection if a couple needs to cancel or reschedule their wedding in the event of issues like severe weather, a sudden illness or venue closure. In 2018, 43 percent of WedSafe’s claims came from the need to cancel or postpone a wedding. For example, the company saw a surge in claims in the Carolinas when Hurricane Florence hit, forcing cancellations for weeks following the storm as venues and vendors dealt with the impact to their business.
  • Wedding Liability Insurance. This type of coverage, which is now required by many venues, helps protect an insured if they are held liable for property damage or bodily injury. It can also offer host liquor liability to protect against alcohol-related accidents. And these things happen more often than you’d think. Twenty-three percent of WedSafe claims in 2018 stemmed from venue/property damage while 14 percent related to injury or accident.

This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized business, insurance or legal advice. All descriptions, summaries or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.

A Sweet Wedding Story

Jordan and Leslie got married on a beautiful Sunday in October 2016.  Early in the day, Leslie had a pain in his stomach that he chalked up to pre-ceremony nerves.  After the ceremony was over, the pain was only getting stronger and by the time the couple was done taking portraits during cocktail hour, the groom could hardly stand. While their guests enjoyed their reception dinner, Jordan helped Leslie into their car and drove him to the Emergency Room.  Thankfully, the doctors informed the newlyweds that Leslie had kidney stones –painful, but not life threatening. They did not make it back to their wedding reception, but their guests danced and had a great time in their honor.
A few weeks later, Leslie reached back out with the hopes of throwing a surprise reception for Jordan. He was so appreciative and grateful that his bride stood by his side, even when it meant missing the day they had looked forward to for so long, and he wanted to give her a chance to enjoy all the work she put in.  
Under the guise of returning to the venue to take sunset pictures in their wedding attire, he had her bouquet and their cake re-made and invited their closest friends and family back to celebrate with them. After they finished taking pictures on the lawn, he led Jordan back inside where all of their guests were waiting! She was so surprised! They got to share their first dance, cut their cake, and get the send-off they had been dreaming of.  
Silver Swan Bayside Venue & Caterer412 Congressional Drive, Stevensville443-249-0400www.silverswanbayside.com

Make Sure Your Wedding Day Food Is Something to Remember! What Every Couple Should Ask.

What should couples keep in mind when looking for a wedding caterer?Couples should be shopping for a full service caterer with a proven track record and current social media imprint of their catered weddings and events. Current reviews and customer testimonials from past weddings should be asked for, if they are not available online.
A lot of caterers and personal chefs will call themselves a full service catering company. Ask to set an appointment at their place of business:1. To make sure they are not working out of  their homes; 
2. To actually see the licenses they hold,  which must be publicly displayed; 
3. A personal chef may not even be licensed to sell food. A full service caterer will be completely licensed
and insured for every aspect of your wedding.What should they keep in mind when
making specific food choices?
Choose the food that you want to have on your special day, remember this is your wedding. You should also make sure you do not overlap the menu from the rehearsal dinner to your wedding menu. You should have two totally different menus.
Accommodating your guests’ tastes is important, but you won’t be able please everyone. Try to have 2 entrée selections like a beef and a chicken or a seafood option. While vegetarians can be accommodated easily, guests with strict dietary needs for themselves usually know what they can and cannot eat and will usually say something in advance or prepare accordingly for all their dietary restrictions.
Any common mistakes people make when choosing a caterer and food?Your bar service is 3/4’s of your wedding reception and should be one of the most important decisions you make besides the menu selection and venue/location. A lot of newlyweds try to save money by providing their own bar services, but don’t realize that when they do so, they also assume 100% of the liability of providing/serving alcohol and any misfortunes that could happen. Not to mention if the wedding is held on private property or a family estate then the property owner may also be held liable for any misfortunes.
Another important piece of advice is to make appropriate seasonal selections. If your wedding reception is outside under a tent, remember mother nature is in charge and always has the final say. Appetizers like cheese and charcuterie boards are not recommended in the summer months as heat and flying insects will most likely get to your appetizers before your guests can finish them.What are Smokehouses’ most popular dishes?Our most popular upscale entrée’s are our famous jumbo lump Maryland crab cakes and our Smokehouse prime rib. Our most popular BBQ menu selections are our whole roasted pigs displayed right on the grill for self-serve pig pickin’ and our famous pit beef and BBQ chicken.

What makes Smokehouse Grill a great wedding caterer?

Experience is knowledge. Smokehouse Grill is celebrating 20 years in business and caters on average 60-70 weddings each year. Our service area includes Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia and Washington DC. We have won several local awards, including best caterer 2 years in a row from the Shore Update.
We also have been Wedding Wire’s couple’s choice awards 6 years in a row.”
The Smokehouse Grill is located at 1001 Butterworth Court in Stevensville. They can be reached at 410-643-6851 or events@thesmokehousegrill.com. Visit The Smokehouse Grill web site at www.thesmokehousegrill.com to
learn more about what their delicious food offerings for your special day
including testimonials and a gallery of event pictures.

DIY Eastern Shore Style Weddings


Weddings are not just an evening anymore, they are evolving into weekend-long events. Make part of your wedding weekend a shrimp boil
We are so fortunate to live on the Eastern Shore where there is an abundance and variety of seafood and fresh produce available. So why not be a bit more creative and use our plentiful resources for your welcome party, rehearsal dinner or wedding shower?
And, at the same time, you’ll be supporting our local businesses. 
Here’s an idea you just might like to try… A Shrimp Boil. Add to it a unique dress code, special décor and setup, and local brews, and you’ll provide your guests with a party to remember. The following recipe makes about 8 servings, so you’ll want to be sure to make enough for all your guests.  
Shrimp Boil Recipe1 12-oz. bottle of beer3 bay leaves2 onions, quartered2 garlic bulbs, halved1 lb. small red potatoes4 ears fresh corn, husked and halved or quartered1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch diagonal slices2 lbs. large shrimpSalt, Cayenne, Old Bay Seasoning to tasteFrench baguette, lemon wedges, melted butter
INSTRUCTIONS: Make sure to add the ingredients in the order and stages listed. Bring the first 4 ingredients and the seasonings to a
boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add
the corn and sausage and simmer for another 8 minutes. Finally,
add the shrimp, cover the pot, and turn off heat. Let the shrimp combination sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb all the flavors. Drain the liquid and spread the Shrimp Boil on several large dishes or
newspaper-covered table. Serve with the sliced bread, lemon
wedges and melted butter. Don’t forget to have plenty of Old Bay Seasoning on hand in case someone desires extra flavoring.And now for decorating tips for your special event. Use a red and white theme for the boil. Checkered tablecloths add fun and color to the party. You also can use the red and white theme in other more subtle ways such as decorate with white flowers and use red dishes or plastic ware. Ask your guests to come party-ready and dress in red or white. Or, if you prefer, use your wedding theme colors. Make it a festive and fun event with lots of good food and drink and create memories for everyone about your special day.

 Speaking of drink, following are local breweries you will want to visit for your party brew needs:Bull & Goat Brewery, 204 Banjo Lane, Suite E, Centrevillewww.bullandgoatbrewery.comNestled in downtown Centreville, we invite you to stop by our taproom and experience delicious beer recipes crafted and perfected for your taste buds.  We have table games, shuffleboard and host monthly and community events featuring local artists and musicians. 
Cult Classic Brewing, 1169 Shopping Center Road, Stevensvillewww.cultclassicbrewing.comLocated on Kent Island, our dog and family-friendly taproom features one of the longest bars in Maryland, offers a live music room that can be rented for private events and has food trucks on site almost every day.  We currently feature fifteen taps with everything from
German-style lagers to IPAs, stouts, and porters. Stop by and see what’s brewing!
Ten’Eyck Brewing Company, near intersection of Routes 40 & 213, Queenstown https://teneyckbrewing.com/Ten Eyck Brewing Company is locally owned by women veterans and first responders. We’ve served around the globe and now we want to serve our Eastern Shore community. We are building from the ground up and hope to be open by the end of 2019. 

The Picture Perfect Venue For Your Picture Perfect Day

After years of hosting bridal shows across the shore at different venues from woodsy pastoral to gorgeous waterside locales, we are excited to host this year’s spring Bridal Show at the Kent Island Yacht Club. Located in the heart of The Narrows, the Kent Island Yacht Club is a unique and special spot for your big day. The club is located on a small peninsula, completely surrounded by water on all but one side. Nearly everywhere you look you’ll find the sight of serene open water, local marine life, and boats cruising on the Chesapeake. 
The Kent Island Yacht Club has a waterside area perfect for your ceremony, and a ballroom that holds over a hundred guests, making it the perfect location for your dream wedding. You’ll even find a special private bride’s room and private bathroom, offering you some peace and relaxation before the excitement of your big day officially begins. The Kent Island Yacht Club has a lot of experience working with different local caterers and planners, so you know your big day will go off without a hitch. If you would like to learn more about the Kent Island yacht Club, you can visit their website at www.kiyc.org/home. The Kent Island Yacht Club is a must-see venue for any couple interested in having their big day on the Chesapeake Bay!

If you could only give couples one piece of advice, what would it be?Don’t worry about hurting feelings with your guest list. Keep your guest list to only family and very close friends. You should know that every person who is there came because they love you both and want the best for you.What should couples try to avoid?Don’t overdo it; pick a few things that are most important to you and forget about the rest. Spend your money and your time on those few things. This will help you not go crazy.What makes the Kent Island Yacht Club a great wedding venue?The view is amazing on the peninsula of the Eastern Bay, with a wonderful breeze and located in the Kent Narrows. Surrounded by water on all three sides, there really isn’t anything like the Kent Island Yacht Club.

The Kent Island Yacht Club is located at 117 Yacht Club Drive in Chester. They can be reached at 410-643-4101 or kiyc@kiyc.org. Visit the Kent Island Yacht Club web site at www.kiyc.org to learn more about what they have to offer for your special day including a gallery of pictures of their beautiful location and the very special private bride’s room.

4 steps to financial fitness in the new year

(BPT) – Sponsored ad content from Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

The new year is just around the corner and it’s never too early to think about your 2020 goals – and for many, this means prioritizing finances. Taking the time to focus on your goals and determine what’s important to you financially is the best way to set yourself up for success, but actually following through can be difficult. These easy financial exercises from Vanderbilt Mortgage will help you reach your goals in the new decade.

  1. Outline your plan

If you don’t already have one, establish your plan. Write down short-term financial goals, such as creating a monthly budget, and long-term goals, such as paying off a debt or buying a home. Defining these goals will help as you set your budget for the next year.

  1. Create a monthly budget

Gather pay statements, bills and bank statements to get started. You can write down all this information or use a budget tool. Start by calculating your monthly income, which includes not only the amount you may get from a regular paycheck, but also any money you get in government aid, child support or pensions. The next step is to look at your bills and bank statements to find out exactly what you spend in various categories of expenses such as utilities, auto, medical, personal, insurance, etc. This accurate information will empower you to take control of your spending.

  1. Set a savings goal

Saving is another important aspect of financial health. Whether you’re using a general savings account, adding to an emergency fund, or setting aside funds for a new home, saving for larger financial goals helps you prepare and gives you peace of mind no matter where life takes you. If you’re new to saving, start small. Simply skipping your daily latte from the coffee shop a few times a week can add up quickly.

  1. Stick to it

The statistics on how many people actually follow through and keep their New Year’s resolutions are rather bleak, but sticking with your financial goals will pay off. Stay on track by monitoring your progress each week. As you get closer to your goals, excitement will build and you’ll be motivated to keep budgeting and saving.

Vanderbilt Mortgage offers helpful online resources whether you are looking to purchase a new home or keep your current home in great shape. “Here at Vanderbilt, we want to use our years of experience to help current and future homeowners.” Said Eric Hamilton, President of Vanderbilt Mortgage, “Providing educational materials for every step of homeownership is one of the ways Vanderbilt is with customers every step of the way.”

You answered the big question… now let our experts answer the rest.

Your wedding day might just be the biggest moment in your life. Brides often find themselves at the center of attention on their big day with hundreds of pictures being taken and all their friends and family there to see them. Because of this, it is important to look your best on your this special day and to feel confident in your own skin. Many women get a little help to look their best through aesthetics. To get answers for curious brides-to-be, we talked to the girls from Bella Rose Medispa to get your questions answered on how brides can benefit from their services to look their absolute best on their big day. 
What kinds of beauty services would you recommend for future brides?Because each bride is different, each of their needs is different.  Lasting memories are captured in their wedding photos and everyone wants their skin and face to be glowing. We evaluate each bride to see what their needs are starting from  establishing a skin care program,  injectable aesthetics, Latisse for long lashes,  coupled with body contouring, IPL, microneedling and/or  hair removal.  We have many options for brides to bring on that glow on their big day. Helping future brides get ready for the big day is very important to us and we value being a part of the most important day of their lives.  
What is your fondest memory of your own wedding day?Special memories from my wedding day include celebrating with each and every guest there to support us.  The biggest moments for me as a bride were stepping into the doorway in my gown, having my father walk me down the isle and raising my veil , and our vows.  
What kind of advice can you offer brides?My most important piece of advice is to not sweat the small stuff.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned…. Don’t let that ruin your special day. When it comes to aesthetics and getting ready, the sooner you begin the more prepared you will be for everything from engagement pictures to the big day. Bella Rose customizes a plan specifically for you to make sure you look and feel your best. 
Why should brides come to Bella Rose?Brides should come to Bella Rose because we truly care about them and their big day.  We want to make sure they look their best and they feel their best! Developing relationships with our clients, and celebrating in their journey is what it is all about.  Stop by and let us help you be the best you!
If you are interesting in learning more about  Bella Rose, visitbellarose1medispa.com or call (443) 249-3232FacebookTwitterEmailShare

DIY Eastern Shore Style Give Your Guests the Expected… In Unexpected Ways

It’s time to come up with your signature spin on the Eastern Shore’s delicious food. As you decide what culinary delight to focus on, it’s not long before your mouth is watering for crabs, oysters, Smith Island cakes and the herbs and spices of Old Bay seasoning.
Why not serve a late night snack bar featuring Old Bay in unexpected ways? When the dancing kicks into high gear, roll out an Old Bay snack bar and fantastic local craft beer. The two are a match made in heaven… just like you and your new groom.
Try seasoning the following with Old Bay:PopcornDeviled EggsCereal Snack MixFrench FriesRoasted Peanuts & PretzelsChicken WingsFried Pickles
Serve the snacks in rustic tin containers or unique glass bowls and on platters to match. Be sure to label each treat for guests and grab a variety of disposable containers for guests to fill with their favorite treats. Save the serving containers and convert them into serving dishes for parties you host as a married couple… making a life-long memory of your special day.
For an easy and fun ay to decorate your snack stand, buy a container of Old Bay for each guest and attach a label with your names, wedding date and sentiment.

The Perfect Pairing for Your Old Bay Snack BarBull and Goat Brewery204 Banjo Lane, Suite ECentreville MD, 21617www.bullandgoatbrewery.com
Bull and Goat Breweries is a cool, local hangout spot perfect for beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike. Located near the heart of Centerville, Bull and Goat brews a variety of unique beers. From the spicy, hoppy “Baba Yaga,” to fruity and lighter “Frank Amber Ale”, Bull and Goat Breweries has something for every beer drinker.      If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic, alternative, they even offer an in-house brewed root beer! The beers rotate month-to-month, leading to a wide degree of variety depending on when you happen to stop by. Bull and Goat Brewery is stocked with comfy couches, board games, and even a dart board, allowing you to have some fun with friends while you kick back and enjoy local brews. Plus, they are animal friendly!      Bull and Goat Breweries also supplies their beers to local restaurants and eateries, including Doc’s in Centerville. If you’re looking to try some cool craft beers and have some fun with friends, Bull and Goat Brewery is one of the best places in Centerville to do it! They are open from 3 PM to 9 PM Wednesday through Friday and from 2 PM to 9 PM on Saturdays. Come check out this local hot spot!

5 advantages of traveling on a small cruise ship

(BPT) – Close your eyes and imagine your perfect ocean voyage. Are you peaceful and serene, gently floating toward exciting ports? Do you imagine a leisurely trip, with a delightful itinerary and plenty of time to explore your ideal destinations?

If that’s the picture of your dream cruise, chances are you’re imagining a small ship. While the typical cruise may conjure the image of a huge, noisy, floating party, there are better options — with travelers like you in mind.

Here are five advantages of traveling on a small ship:

1. Unique and unusual ports

A smaller ship can bring you to more under-the-radar spots around the world, whose ports can’t accommodate larger ships. Viking, for example, sails to remote Scandinavian ports including the stunning Lofoten Islands among jagged peaks of Norwegian mountains, or the picturesque fishing village of Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town. Smaller ships can also take you closer to the heart of your dream destinations such as the Sydney Harbor or the Thames River in London.

2. An intimate, relaxed journey

Ships with fewer than 1,000 passengers allow every traveler a more leisurely, intimate experience. You’ll get to know your fellow passengers, the crew and the boat’s amenities much better than on a large cruise ship. You’ll spend less time just trying to find your way around a smaller vessel, allowing you to focus on what matters to you. Smaller ships also mean you’ll experience much quicker and easier embarkation and disembarkation, with no long lines for anything onboard.

On Viking Sky and her sister ships, there are no more than 930 passengers. Each stateroom offers a private veranda, with no interior cabins. Viking hosts no children under 18, has no casinos and offers free access to the spa, creating a relaxed, peaceful ambiance so you can enjoy the journey as much as the exceptional destinations.

3. Culturally enriching experiences

Smaller ships allow for more fascinating tours, and savvy travelers can find the perfect itinerary to suit their tastes. Excursions on smaller ships afford more flexibility, often including interesting experiences larger ships wouldn’t have time to offer. For example, Viking offers excursions that are designed to immerse guests in local cultures, including Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences. Local Life excursions shine a light on everyday activities, such as a Viking Chef-hosted trip to a local farmers market, or tea at a home with local residents, while Working World excursions feature behind-the-scenes “making of” experiences like factory and farm visits highlighting local exports. Privileged Access excursions include unique experiences only available to Viking guests, such as an exclusive dinner in the Churchill War Rooms in London or a private cooking class in a Tuscan castle.

Travel experiences through Viking’s ocean cruises are unique, such as the “Viking Homelands” itinerary, which includes Scandinavia and the Baltic, with overnights in Stockholm and scenic Bergen, plus the historic cities of Tallinn, Estonia, and Gdansk, Poland. If warmer climes entice you, the “West Indies Explorer” itinerary sails round trip from San Juan avoiding the long sea days from South Florida associated with most Caribbean cruises and allowing you more time to spend discovering the rich cultures of nine Caribbean islands over the 11-day sailing. You’ll spend more time on shore, with at least one overnight stay on virtually every itinerary.

4. Unparalleled shipboard experiences

A smaller ship lets you choose the exact experiences you desire. Rather than aiming to please everyone, smaller cruise lines have the luxury of specializing in terms of not only itineraries, but the entire on-board experience. It’s wise to research what amenities are included — or not included — on any ship before signing on to the journey.

5. Compelling value

Smaller ships can offer a greater variety of choices in terms of voyage length, types of accommodations, a better crew-to-passenger ratio (which means better service) and an overall experience that suits each passenger in a way that larger, one-size-fits-all cruises cannot. Search for the right experience for your dream voyage by listing your must-have amenities and destinations first — then don’t settle for less.

Smaller cruise ships like Viking Sky and her sister ships offer luxurious amenities such as fine dining, complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner, free Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service. The onboard Spa draws on the holistic wellness philosophy of Nordic culture, so you can stimulate your circulatory system in the sauna, then be invigorated by the snow grotto, where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Viking even offers book collections thoughtfully curated by London’s Heywood Hill throughout the ships.

If you yearn to travel by sea, consider options offered by smaller cruise ship lines, and look for your ideal experience. Your dream ocean voyage will reflect your interests, your travel style and the best experiences to suit your taste — so you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destinations.

Shopping for diamonds? 5 options, from meteor-made to man-made

(BPT) – Diamonds are extolled in movies and songs for good reason — their romance, allure and durability make them the ideal symbol of love and fidelity. This wedding season — and year-round — diamonds are in demand from purists and romantics alike who want to indulge in the most coveted of all gemstones.

But did you know that there are many alternatives to mined diamonds that provide their wearers with gorgeous jewelry as well as a unique sense of style? 

Here are some of the spectacular gemstones available on Jewelry Television (JTV), ranging from iconic jewelry “must haves” to notable options that may be new to you.

Mined Diamonds. The standard for engagement and wedding rings, but also heirloom quality fashion jewelry, is the traditional mined diamond, the most iconic of all gems. These gems formed deep below the Earth’s surface over millions of years, making them rare, unique and intrinsically highly valuable. The stunning variety of designs, cuts and settings available using traditional diamonds make them the ultimate complement to any wardrobe choice.

Lab-grown Diamonds. An increasingly popular gemstone is a lab-grown diamond. These are actual diamonds, with the same physical, chemical and optical properties as mined diamonds, but are produced in a laboratory. The complex, highly technical process of growing diamonds in a lab creates these treasured gemstones that are cut, faceted and polished in the same way as mined diamonds. Innovative lab-grown diamonds are a great choice for the progressive woman who has the confidence to show that she’s found a beautiful, authentic diamond at a great value.

Moissanite. Originally discovered in 1893 in a crater created by a meteorite, natural moissanite is composed of carbon and silicon, making it one of the hardest known minerals on earth, second only to diamonds. It is extremely resistant to scratching and chipping. Natural moissanite for jewelry is incredibly rare, but moissanite has now been synthesized in a laboratory, making it both more affordable and accessible. Moissanite Fire has a higher dispersion value than diamond, and JTV’s skilled cutters facet the crystals to maximize the brilliance and enhance the exceptional fire. It offers a brilliant, sophisticated appearance that’s perfect for both everyday wear and glamorous evening looks, with a wide selection of styles and price points available.

Strontium Titanate. This man-made diamond simulant, which is an oxide of strontium and titanium, also has a significantly higher dispersion value than diamonds. While it appears similar to a diamond, it has a different composition. Fabulite Strontium Titanate offers an incredible kaleidoscope of colorful fire and sparkle to make any wearer stand out from the crowd. It’s a true showstopper that complements a woman’s sparkling personality.

Cubic Zirconia. Possibly the best-known man-made diamond simulant, cubic zirconia is an affordable alternative for adding bling to your everyday wear or for a statement look. To ensure the highest level of craftsmanship and quality, look for a reputable brand such as Bella Luce. Cubic zirconia jewelry enables fun-loving women to be playful and creative with their style and experiment with different looks, due to the versatility and affordability of this popular gem.

To learn more about all of these gemstones, from mined or man-made diamonds to diamond simulants and much more, check out JTV’s broadcast network, with expert hosts to help educate and inform you on your decisions, or visit JTV.com.

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