Skimbaco Lifestyle | online magazine » SKIMBACO TRAVEL Skimbaco Lifestyle, online magazine inspiring you to live life to the fullest. Travel, home, food, fashion, family. Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:23:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Whiskey Cocktail Recipe for a Crowd: It’s no Longer Just a Man’s Drink Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:14:43 +0000
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TOPO whiskey in Chapel Hill, N.C.

We’ve come a long way, baby!  Gone are the “Mad Men” days of whiskey being a just a man’s drink, straight on the rocks.

Whiskey sales are on the rise, and women are contributing to that rise.  Last year, whiskey sales were nearly $4 billions which is an increase over the $3.5 billion dollars in sales in 2013, according to recent figures released by Nielsen research. What’s different this year? Mixologists are being credited for this growing trend as they craft cocktails that complement the whiskey flavor with a plethora of other ingredients, whether its syrups, fruit juices, vermouth or even tea.

“People are drinking less wine and more whiskey, and women have become more inclined to give whiskey a try,” says Steven Earles, CEO of Portland -based Eastside Distilling, whose company already experiments with a variety of flavors in its drinks, such as Cherry Bomb Whiskey and Oregon Marionberry Whiskey.

North Carolina’s TOPO Organics Distillery in Chapel Hill, N.C. released the Carolina whiskey  at the end of 2014, and it also sells a DIY-TOPO Whiskey kit for at-home distilling.

“Brown spirits are really hot both domestically and internationally, and mixologists are making more and more inventive whiskey-based cocktails, ” commented Esteban McMahan, TOPO Organics Distillery’s Spirit Guide. ” My favorite whiskey cocktails are the “Orange County” served at the Top of the Hill  Restaurant in Chapel Hill, which includes TOPO Eight Oak, apricot brandy, vermouth & bitters.” In order to give whiskey in the bar a boost, some restaurants are now promoting “Whiskey Wednesdays” to feature cocktails.  From innovative drinks like New Fashioned and The Sidebar, whiskey is becoming center stage on the bar menu.

The classic whiskey cocktail may the Old-Fashioned, which has been around since the late 19th Century, but now is the time to created new classics. Try this new whiskey cocktail by Eastside Distilling for your next cocktail party.

Earls Demise whiskey drink from Eastside Distillery
• Earl’s Demise
25 oz. Cherry Bomb Whiskey (one 750ML bottle)
12.5 oz. Burnside Bourbon
75 oz. Smith Teamaker Earl Grey Tea (chilled)
25 oz. Orange juice
25 oz. Simple syrup
12.5 oz. Sweet vermouth
5 tablespoons Peychaud’s Bitters

Mix all the ingredients in a large punch bowl, then add ice or ice ring. Serve in small punch glasses. The mixture serves 10-12 people.

For more  recipes for your at-home bar, visit Eastside Distilling and TOPO Organic Spirits for the latest mixology recipes featuring whiskey.

Post by Leigh Hines

Leigh Hines, hotel and family travel expert | Skimbaco Lifestyle

“I live like a tourist in my hometown and my dream is to travel the world one luxury hotel at the time. If you love traveling as much as I do, subscribe to Skimbaco Travel, and never miss any travel content from our site.” Leigh Hines of Hines Sight Blog

Let’s connect

Visit Leigh Hines of’s profile on Pinterest.


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Hotel Review: History Comes Alive in Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa in Ljubljana Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:54:46 +0000
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Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_6

Ljubljana comes with an interesting history starting from early Roman influence to Italian and Austrian ones, and that is reflected in the town’s building style with Baroque Venetian style being very dominant. Amazingly, one of these middle ages palaces now serves as a luxury hotel: The Antiq Palace Hotel and Spa, located in the heart of the historic Ljubljana town centre which is designated to pedestrians only. This little gem is part of the Historic Hotels of Europe and Castle Hotels & Mansions as well as the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_2

When you open the door to the hotel you step back in time – you are transported to yesteryear’s glamour accentuated by unusually high ceilings and fine details of craftsmanship. You’ll be surrounded by beauty and history – tastefully mixed with all the mod cons one can expect from a high quality hotel.

Although this boutique hotel has just 18 individually decorated luxurious rooms and suites and they look gorgeous, there is an on-going effort to maintain and upgrading these spacious, double-height rooms and suites to meet the demands of globetrotting travellers.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_5

Currently Antiq Palace is officially rated as a 4-star hotel, likely due to its’ small size and not having continuous dining and room service options on site , however they offer dinner options on most night via nearby restaurant. The rest of the service offered: the first-class concierge service, gym, beauty spa with La Prairie products and a private health spa area with a hot tub and three saunas guarantee a memorable stay. And these same services are the reasons why the hotel has gained top-notch marks 4,7 out of 5 on TripAdvisor by fellow travellers.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana

The common areas are a combination of high-ceiling grandeur and cozy vaulted rooms with reading areas, corners for resting and enjoying a snack and a cup of tea on offer – or a selection of local liquors, or schnapps, that Slovenia is famous for.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_1

The inclusive breakfast was a delicious affair and not only because of the beautiful presentation but for the freshness and excellent taste of the food: selections of fresh breads and pastries, cold cuts, salmon, olives, fruits, mueslis, a press for oranges to make your juice, the list goes on. When I get a delicious coffee and my three little ones find plenty to fill their little tummies the breakfast is a success, and it’s not always such an easy accomplishment. As my mantra goes, a great breakfast guarantees a perfect start for the day!

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljublajana

I stayed for an extended weekend with our three children in Antiq Palace and we absolutely loved the place. Normally it is hard to find hotels to accommodate a larger family, and we end up having to take two rooms – and many hotels don’t even offer interconnecting rooms!

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_9

Therefore our suite with two bedrooms was heaven-sent, especially as it came with a large, fully equipped kitchen/ living room (yet still offered also mini bar products) and a lovely bathroom with a tub that fitted all three kids. And there was plenty of space for the children to play as well as a beautiful oversized desk with free wifi for working.  All important ticks on my family hotel wish list there.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_4

When one thinks about an apartment hotel, the images that spring to mind are more of a bare kitchenette in the corner of a miniature living room which starts making one feel claustrophobic after two days. However, with Antiq Palace the effect is the opposite: you feel like at home, except that it’s a very glamorous version of it with a daily cleaner, with no outside noise as it’s located in a pedestrian zone and with such soft and luxurious beddings that one didn’t want to get up in the morning!

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_8

Antiq Palace dates back to the 16th century and the owners appreciate its’ rich heritage, some suites now have the original ceiling frescos restored as much as possible for the enjoyment of the guests. I was amazed to see some of those restored delicate patterns during my tour of the hotel.

Antiq Palace Hotel Ljubljana_10

The hotel has added more livable space to the original palace by making an attic conversion (which is more modern in style and has lower ceilings), and as over time other surrounding buildings have been extended, it has created a couple of courtyards for the guests to enjoy. I imagine they’ll look stunning once the summer is back and in full bloom again – one can start the day by sipping coffee, or mimosas, in the garden while enjoying the first rays of the warm morning sun…

All in all Antiq Palace is such a hidden little paradise in the midst of the city. It is a hotel that I’d highly recommend both for couples as a romantic getaway with luxury spa experiences, as well as for families and small groups looking for more space, yet in a luxurious hotel-setting – but with the added benefit of the self-catering ability which comes to the rescue for tired, little eaters at night as a minimum. As Slovenia is still a less-known destination, you’ll be guaranteed to get value for money in this hotel also.


Disclosure: our stay at Antiq Palace Hotel and Spa was comped, but as always all opinions expressed are my own, and based on my personal experience at the hotel.  

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Find My Exotic Bali Travel Tips Now on Findery (and Huffington Post) Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:16:31 +0000
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Lunch by the rice fields in Ubud, Bali

I admit, I am one of those women who read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” and wanted to go to Bali to find myself, do some yoga, bicycle in between the rice fields, and flirt with dangerously gorgeous men at the beach parties. I loved how the story came alive in her stories of each place and event, and I wanted to experience it all.

The reality, which I am not even ashamed to admit, is that I am a married mother of three, I can’t even imagine sleeping in a hut in the tropics without air-conditioning, and I enjoy the luxury hotel breakfast far more than a beach party hangover on the mornings. Bali is an excellent destination for romantic getaways or ladies-only trips, but my last visit to Bali was a mother-daughter bonding trip with my 13-year-old daughter. And I do have some great stories from that trip too!

If you would like to know some of my favorite places and things to do in Bali, head to Huffington Post today to read my post about Bali. If you want to read some of my stories from the trip, check out my Exotic Bali notemap on Findery. I partnered with Findery, a mighty cool travel app, where you can create travel notes of places where you have been – and even where you want to go. I created a special notemap of my Bali favorites, and you can easily follow my notemaps on Findery, and make your own too!

Follow on Findery

What’s Findery?

It’s probably the easiest to use Findery on the go, kind of how you would use Instagram. You can download the app in your phone, and post a photo and text, also what they call a “note” on a specific notemap you created on Findery. It can be as simple as “places where I have been” or “my trip to Paris.” The best about Findery is that you can geo-tag photos even when you are not in the location. I like going through my trip photos on the evening or after the trip, and NOT posting them in the moment when they happen. I like to live life to the fullest in the moment, and that’s why live-tweeting or using Foursquare have never really been for me. I don’t want to miss the moment by broadcasting it.

I can guess what you still might say: why use Findery because you are already using Instagram, Pinterest and every other social media network! Yes, I get it, but Findery IS kind of different. Instagram is very difficult to search for specific information/photos. It is not impossible though, that’s why I wrote my book Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World to help people to figure out how to search location based photos on Instagram. But it took me a few months of research to figure it out, and then a few months to write the book, and while I think I made it simple in the almost 100-page book, it kind of is a lot of work, and then you still might not find what you are looking for, and saving the information that you can find later too is even more work.

Pinterest on the other hand comes very handy for searching travel information, and they too started adding maps on the Pinterest boards and users can add the geo-tag to all of their pins. But how often you find an amazing travel photo on Pinterest, and you have the feeling “I want to go there” but there is no information where in the world that actually was taken?! I wish I had the correct number from Pinterest to tell you how rarely people use the geo-tags on Pinterest. Many travel bloggers are really working on this though, and that’s why we started Mappin Monday to pin travel stories on a big map. But Findery still isn’t quite like Pinterest.

Then there is Foursquare… Oh yeah, is anyone still using it? And who really cares which level Jetsetter badge you have?!

Take all of your favorite elements from Instagram (great travel photos and awesome friends), Pinterest (make “boards” or “notemaps” to organize your photos and stories), Foursquare (add your stories/notes on a map either in the moment OR later on when you have time to add the story), and Facebook (add a little bit longer story to go with your photo) and only focus on discovering the favorites and that’s how you kind of get what Findery is about. The focus is in travel, but Findery is for you even if you don’t travel all the time. Findery is excellent for saving and discovering your favorites in your own neighborhood/town/state/country! I see Findery as something where your short little travel stories come alive – and are added to the map!

Findery Map of Exotic Bali by Skimbaco

Bali favorites on Findery

I noticed that my approach to Findery is very different compared to some other apps. I felt like I was able to tell a longer story than on Instagram, but shorter stories than a good blog post would be. Bottom line, I really wanted the location in the map to come alive with my little stories. I think Findery is excellent for those of us, who love to channel our inner storyteller! You don’t have to be Elizabeth Gilbert to tell a good story.

How often do your friends ask for your recommendations from the places you have been and you wished you could just send them a link to read them all? Now with Findery you can VERY easily create your own “travel guides” to send your best friends, because you don’t want them to miss all of the good spots, now do you?!

Monkeys in Bali - my story on

monkeys in Bali

Join me!

I hope you will join me at Findery, and create your own notemaps of your favorite places. You can download the app to your iPhone or Android phone, or just use the website

Here are my latest notes on Findery. What will be YOUR first story to share on Findery?

Disclosure: I am working together with Findery, but my opinions about the app, monkeys and Bali are my own, like always.

Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.


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Sometimes on Your Travels You Reach the Mountain Top Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:21:27 +0000
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climbing mountains in italy

My Skimbaco moment in the mountains of Italy

Guest post by Carolyn Cruze

The air is misty and cool. It is the kind of fresh that you can only get when you’re over 4,000 feet in altitude. The colors of autumn trees dance vibrantly under the shadows of the Dolomite mountains as we climb higher, hoping to reach the place where clouds and trail meet. For my friends Charlie Tessari and Sylvia Bassini waking up to these strikingly beautiful mountains is normal. To me it is fantasy.

Charlie says:

It’s difficult to say when is the best period of the year to be here. I love certain days in February, right after a nice snowfall, when the sunlight strikes the snow and all the flakes glitter against the blue sky but also in the summertime, the bloomings on the high meadows under the Dolomite rocks are spectacular.”

charlie ski instructor in italy

A ski instructor and certified nature guide, Charlie dedicates his life to learning more about the natural world around him so he can better educate others about the flora and fauna in the area.

Choosing a job that I liked improved the quality of my life. It gave me the main ingredients for my ideal job: outdoors, contact with people, a healthy environment, teaching and learning,”

italy mountains

As we climb closer and closer to the Austrian boarder, Charlie points out the old ruins from the first World War. There, Italian soldiers took shelter in caverns carved out of the mountains for two years. These men survived some of the coldest winters in Italian history. I have to see them. Despite his better judgement, I convince Charlie to cross the snow-covered cliffs and reach the ruins. Our risk is well worth the reward.

ruins in italy

The next day we spend visiting the town. Located in the Italian region of Veneto, Sappada is made up of small aesthetically pleasing wooden cabins that date back to the mid 18th century. They are built so meticulously that they are still fully intact despite their age. In the spring and summer, there are flower competitions where families cover the outside of their Austrian inspired homes so high it is impossible to see the windows. Male figures made from hay serenade their counterparts on every balcony. The old part of the village also has several rifugios (mountain huts) that serve traditional meals for after a long day exploring the mountain. There is everything from wild fruits and mushrooms to warm soups and pasta.

house window

During the winter, logs are piled up in uniform order to help insulate the homes and during Christmas time, the nativity houses are placed along a path toward the church. At this time many people visit Sappada or Cortina (the next town) for family skiing and snowboarding trips but if your anything like Charlie, you might just stay in the mountains for good.

“There is much more to skiing than a parallel turn. Skis are wonderful tools that help us discover the beauty of nature as well as a great opportunity to improve many aspects of life.”

According to Charlie, skiing is similar to life in that there are uphills and downhills, sacrifice and relaxation, fear and joy. Appreciating and understanding the skiing environment can greatly improve performance on the slops and make skiing even more fun.

Along with the wonderful downhill and cross-country skiing opportunities Charlie told me about, Sappada is great for snowshoeing, hiking, mountain-biking, and there are incredible valleys relatively close to the town including; Val Comelico, Val Pusteria (close to the Austrian boarder), Cortina d’Ampezzo, and the Carnia valley in the nearby region.

ski town italy

While getting to Sappada proved to be a little taxing (I had to take 5 trains and 2 bus rides people!), seeing everything with a local family was completely worth the trip. I would recommend that you give yourself a little extra time for travel between regional trains as there isn’t much you can do if they are late; however, if you have a quick change between regional buses informing the driver about the limitation should suffice. Returning home, my first bus driver even spoke to my second about the quick transition which was very helpful. So even if you don’t speak Italian (like me!), the generous nature of these people will be enough to help you on your journey to the mountains. You may just reach the top.

Eventually in your travels... you will reach the mountain top

Guest post by Carolyn Cruze. Carolyn Cruze is a junior Journalism at the University of Oregon with an avid passion for writing, photography, and design. When she’s not taking photos, she enjoys sailing, music, art, and exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. For more on Carolyn, check out her website: or follow her on instagram @carolyncruze.

Visit Carolyn Cruze’s profile on Pinterest.

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Travel Insight: Luxury Hotels taking on role as “Cupid” for singles Sun, 08 Feb 2015 21:42:23 +0000
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Heart chocolate, the symbol of Valentine's Day.

Love is in the air this February. Chocolate available at Ritz-Carlton’s Bar Cocoa in Charlotte, N.C.

Last month on  Skimbaco Lifestyle, we gave you the scoop on What Women Want in 2015.  The list was interesting, and even though the topic of romance did not make the top of the list, Twelve percent of women who took the survey did confess they would like to meet a new love interest. Gone are the days that women who are not in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day, sit at home and eat too many chocolate bons bons ,while watching a romantic comedy that will probably make them cry at the end.

Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown is hosting communal table dinners in February for singles, small groups, and friends.

And gone are the days that hotels simply offer romantic packages that cater to only couples.  Many hotels are thinking outside of the “chocolate” box and are coming up with unique ideas to market to urban professionals who perhaps have not yet made a love match in their lives or in the cities they live.

Washington D.C. is a hub for professional singles who have a disposable income to enjoy some of the finer things in life.  The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown Washington D.C. caught our eye this month with an innovative approach to perhaps, playing Cupid. The hotel is hosting the communal table dinners during the month of February.  Every Friday this month, and on Valentine’s Day, the hotel will host a special dining series aimed at bringing singles together over a shareable, family-style dinner by the fire in the hotel’s chic and romantic Living Room.  This is the first year that the hotel has hosted a series of events like this.

Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Rose, candles, and cupid at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

“We wanted to offer a fun and unique way to bring people together on Valentine’s Day, regardless of their relationship status,” explained Ritz-Carlton Georgetown General Manager Jeff Brower. “What better way to do that than over great food and wine in an incredibly warm and inviting atmosphere?

The event, or perhaps even Mr and Miss Right.  Brower says that February always has romance in the air, and they like the idea of playing matchmaker, “Absolutely! We hope that this experience allows our guests to create new friends and memories, and would be thrilled if we created a few love matches along the way as well. ”

W Hotels of New York playing Cupid for Valentines' Day

W Hotels of New York are helping singles look their best with a package with GLAMSQUAD.

Starwood’s  W Hotel brand also is taking on the role of playing Cupid in some cities. Instead of the communal table idea, the W Hotels of New Yorkis promoting the Swipe Ripe Package where they will get you and your friends ready to mingle and hit New York’s City’s nightlife. They are teaming with GLAMSQUAD, a beauty service that will come to your hotel suite, and do your make-up and hair before a night-out in the city.  After GLAMSQUAD applies the finishing touches, a professional photographer will be on hand to take new headshots for your dating apps and profiles. Before heading out to meet your match, Living Room SIP tickets are provided to get you in the mood to dance the night away with your new found Valentine.  This package starts at $650.

Bar Cocoa and the Punch Room in Charlotte, N.C at Ritz-Carlton

With chocolates from Bar Cocoa in tow, the new Punch Room on the Ritz-Carlton’s 15th-floor, may be the hottest location for singles after-hours in Charlotte, N.C.

And just in time to play “Cupid”,The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, in North Carolina’s largest city, will launch its sophisticated new night-spot on its  15th-floor, The Punch Room, on Valentine’s night. With Bar Cocoa, located in the hotel lobby with its scrumptious, signature heart chocolate for nibbling, February 14th could just be the hottest night to mix and mingle.  Couples will be welcome, too, of course, but this revamped intimate space in the hotel  with views overlooking the city, will only hold 37 guests at a time, with a specific number of spots reserved for in-house hotel guests.  Under the leadership of well-known mixologist, Bob Peters, the new Punch Room, will showcase spirits-based punches, hand-crafted cocktails, hot libations and infused drinks.

Cocktails in Charlotte,N.C.

Lifelong Charlotte native Peters may just be mixing up a love match along with his new cocktails nightly. Whether or not Cupid strikes under his watch, he’s just ready to set the stage for people with common tastes to come together over a good drink. With weekend hours set to end at  1 a.m, it could become one of the best places for urban singles to gather in the North Carolina’s Queen City. “Mixology is my passion, and to be able to take it to its creative limits at The Punch Room will be a challenge and a thrill,” said Peters. “From enjoying expanded access to fruits, herbs and vegetables for craft beverages, to designing complex yet seamless cocktails that innovate and inspire, I foresee an exciting journey at The Punch Room. I hope our guests will allow us to share this passion with them, and that they will really enjoy the new ride.”

And for the record, the Ritz-Carlton brand loves to host weddings so maybe we’ll start seeing singles who meet at the hotel will decide that these luxury hotels might be the best place to begin their life together as a married couple.  Stay tuned.

Photos courtesy for this story via Ritz-Carlton and W Hotels of New York. 

Read past stories we have covered in Charlotte, N.C. and New York. Leigh is planning a summer excursion to Washington D.C. to cover family travel this summer. Katja is once again in New York state.  For years, Skimbaco has covered New York City content.  Search our archives by typing New York.  Meanwhile here are some of our Charlotte, N.C. archives.

Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte N.C. Sourced from Ritz-Carlton social media.

Ways to have a Royal Good Time in North Carolina’s Queen City

Travel Insight: Experience NASCAR in Charlotte, N.C. 

Little Girl’s Holiday Dream: the  Gift of the American Girl Travel Experience 

Le Méridien Sparkling Happy Hour: Serving Global  Cocktails Unique to Local Areas

Travel Insight: Family Travel in Charlotte, N.C. 

The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte Offers Chocolate Trees, Tea,and Priceless Family Memories

Cocktails in Charlotte,N.C.

Post by Leigh Hines

Leigh Hines, hotel and family travel expert | Skimbaco Lifestyle

“I live like a tourist in my hometown and my dream is to travel the world one luxury hotel at the time. If you love traveling as much as I do, subscribe to Skimbaco Travel, and never miss any travel content from our site.” Leigh Hines of Hines Sight Blog

Let’s connect

Visit Leigh Hines of’s profile on Pinterest.


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Civet Coffee Tasting & Visiting Teba Sari Farm in Bali Fri, 06 Feb 2015 18:32:31 +0000
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Civet coffee, also known as luwak coffee in Bali

Teba Sari Farm Experience in Bali

I have been contemplating whether to post about our visit to the Teba Sari agrotourism farm in Bali, where we learned about Indonesian and Balinese farming and fruits, and tasting the famous Kopi Luwak, the civet coffee. The small farm (or the part of it which we saw) was beautiful, and our guide was fantastic, and in addition to telling about the plants and fruits and herbs in Bali, she also pointed us some lizards in the trees, and we truly enjoyed the tour with her. But the tour had some concerning parts.

I admit, I was fascinated by the civet coffee, and as a coffee and tea lover, was excited to attend the tea and coffee tasting at Teba Sari, but what I really felt after the visit was that we had just fallen into an expensive tourist trap, where we shouldn’t have gone. I realized that it can be difficult to travel in exotic places, and NOT to do some of the things that you kind of feel are wrong, but “everybody” does it, so you should/could too. Read more why I have mixed feelings about the Teba Sari experience and about civet coffee.

Balinese farm experience

What is Civet Coffee/Kopi Luwak? And why it is so expensive?

Civet Coffee, or Kopi Luwak in Indonesian, is one of the world’s most expensive coffees in the world due to its quite unique production process.

The Asian Palm Civet has a natural talent for picking only the best coffee berries to eat. After the civet has eaten the coffee berries, the berries are perfectly fermented, slowly in an optional temperature, as they pass the animal’s digestive tract. The civet feces with embedded coffee beans are then picked up by coffee farmers and after a washing & sanitizing process you will have nicely fermented coffee beans as your result. Beans that make smooth, tasty and the most expensive coffee in the world. Many also call it also the monkey poop or cat poop coffee, but it’s all about the same coffee and the same animal, the Asian Palm Civet. Civet is also called a toddy cat, and lives in trees like a monkey. Well, that is if they are not in the coffee-making business and in captivity.


The civet coffee was first developed in Java area in Indonesia, where coffee farmers thought it was much easier to pick up the animal feces containing coffee beans from the ground than the fresh actual coffee berries from the plants. Farmers were also not allowed to make coffee for themselves from the coffee beans they were picking, but everything that was on the ground was free for all. They must have been having some serious coffee cravings to even think of roasting some civet beans!

Civet coffee didn’t really become “a thing” until about ten years ago. The original idea of real civet coffee is almost like cleaning nature by removing (and reusing) animal feces, and in many ways a great thing to do from the ecological point of view. However, with the popularity of the luxury civet coffee, a new breed of coffee farmers were born: the civet farmers. Civets live in small cages and their only function in life is to eat coffee beans. While we only saw a few civets on our trip, and they had water and food, they were in small cages. Sad, and very far from the original way of making civet coffee. I did not expect to see civets in cages when entering the coffee tasting experience at Teba Sari.

Coffee and tea tasting

tea tasting in Bali

After our farm tour, we were treated with a coffee and tea tasting. The tasting included 15 different kinds of teas and 5 coffees, and the tasting was free. All of the teas and coffees were brewed differently than what I am used to, and even the teas were made in the form of hot water poured over powder. I am not used to drinking instant tea or coffee, and didn’t expect the teas to be like this in Indonesia. However, many of them were very good. The mangosteen tea was sweet like a berry tea, and our favorite was the lemongrass, so refreshing. I was so interested in hearing about the medicinal benefits of all of the teas. How the saffron and tamarind tea helps body odor and digestion, or for the rosella tea is for preventing cancer and is good for your blood circulation. The ginger tea is used for curing the cold and is good for digestion. I was mesmerized by all of the natural healing advice I was hearing and reading. When I got back home, I started reading even more about herbal remedies than before, and eventually joined Young Living essential oils company.


The coffees we tasted were equally as interesting as the teas. I didn’t like some of them, like the Bali coffee, it was too strong, but the vanilla coffee was sweet and good in a different way how I like to drink my coffee at home. Our guide was nice, and assured us the tasting was free, and she even gave us some amazing Balinese chocolate. It was special, since we had just seen cocoa growing in the trees at the nature walk.

We felt giddy about the tasting, and it was such a fun experience with my daughter. Then our guide asked if we wanted to try the Kopi Luwak, the civet coffee. She said it was 50,000 rupiah, which is just under five dollars. I asked if she had tried it, and if she likes it.

I have tried it once, it was so good. But it’s very expensive for us. It’s 50,000 rupiahs for one cup, and I only make 500,000 rupiahs in one month. It’s nothing for you, but the Kopi Luwak is too expensive for me. I wish I could drink it.

Did I want to try the civet coffee? Yes.
Did I want to try the civet coffee after seeing the animals in cages? No.
Did I feel bad for this young, smart, girl making less than 40 dollars per month? Yes.

I asked if she could drink coffee with us, if I bought her the coffee. She said no, they are not allowed to drink coffee with guests, and showed a video camera recording us. She said she can take tips, but under the table. I gave her 50,000 rupiahs on the table and ordered the civet coffee and I gave her 200,000 rupiahs under the table as a tip. We talked about her work, and her school, and her dreams in life, and I encouraged her to continue at school. I was hoping my encouragement would be something she’d remember.


She brought us the civet coffee, and we talked more.

I admit, the civet coffee was good. It was thick and strong, but extremely smooth. No bitterness at all. I would not go as far as calling it the best coffee in the world, I still like my coffee the best in Italy, but it was a very good cup of coffee.

Souvenirs for home


After the tasting, she took us to the gift shop, and encouraged us to shop for souvenirs for home. I was mesmerized by the medicinal effects of the healing teas, and I felt like since all of the tasting and the tour that had taken an hour were free, we should buy something. I felt like I had to be nice to these people and I owed them something. We kind of got carried away, and when walking away from the shop I realized we had just over-spent on over-priced teas and coffees in a place that I had reservations about. How were those civets treated? And why their employees are making so little money? Why the cameras supervising the people?

I didn’t even occur to me until then that we had landed on a tourist trap.

But here is the thing that really got me thinking: was I supporting the local business and helping people like our guide to at least have a job and thus afford to go to school as well? Or was I contributing to the fact that her salary would never be higher and conditions better? And what did I really know, but the things she told me, and what I saw?

And after all, I was at Teba Sari with my daughter, I love her and her company, and we had such a good time and it will be a memory of a lifetime when we were tasting teas and coffees in Bali. Was it OK to be “tourist trapped” or were we irresponsible travelers? I really don’t know.

What about you? Have you ever had similar kind of feelings when traveling?

More about Bali

Read all of our posts about Bali, Indonesia.

Follow’s board Bali Inspiration on Pinterest.

Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.


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When Failing is Winning: A Lesson on Snowboarding and More Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:03:02 +0000
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New feature: Your Skimbaco Moments

Do you have a story to share? How do you live Skimbaco lifestyle of living life to the fullest? Have you tried something new for the first time lately? Tested your limits? We would love you to share your Skimbaco moments on Instagram by using #skimbaco. See the latest photos posted from our community here. Email to our editor-in-chief Katja Presnal if you want to write a guest post! Fittingly, our first guest post is about enjoying snowboarding in Colorado!

first time snowboarding by
Guest post by Desiree Miller, @desmiller on Instagram.

When Failing is Winning: A Lesson on Snowboarding and More

It was there on my backside, hands in the snow, feet locked into the snowboard, trying desperately to stand up one more time without instantly sliding down a mountainside to what I assumed could be a very dramatic death, that I realized maybe it was good for my son to see me as a failure for once.

My 20 year old and I were taking lessons together at Keystone Resort in Colorado, neither having touched a snowboard before, much less gliding gracefully down a mountain on one. I’d taken skiing lessons there the year before and picked up the basics pretty easily, so I thought this would be the same. I was wrong.
My son, who had never even been skiing, got up on the board as if he was born there.
Me. Not so much.

The magic carpet ride back up the practice mountain. @keystone_resort #KeystoneMoments

A photo posted by Desiree Miller (@desmiller) on

I knew what we were getting into. Before our trip, pretty much every friend I told about the lesson gave me the rundown of injuries from their first tries: broken tailbone, sprained wrist, fractured ankle. They pretty much had me petrified. One or two of them, though, who started when they were kids, said I’d love it.
They were partially right.
I loved the idea of it. After all, snowboarding is—in my opinion–for the really talented folks. The true athletes.

And I confirmed that to be correct in my first lesson, where just standing up was a challenge to my core. My instructor was patient and kind, helping hold the board in place. You’d think I would have no issues with his expertise and assistance. But on this day, I realized learning to snowboard at 45 is not the optimal age, at least not in my case.Each time I tried going from my butt to the standing position without kneeling in between, I cursed myself for not being more diligent with sit-ups and crunches in a regular workout routine.

I looked—and felt—like a stupid fool each time I struggled.
And I don’t like feeling stupid or foolish, especially in front of my son.
But, as I fell for what felt like the hundredth time, it hit me that maybe my child should see me struggle for once.
See, he was going through some struggles of his own recently, and he felt I couldn’t relate.

I whizzed through college in three years, graduating with honors, while he was struggling to stay off academic probation. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life anymore, while I always had a set path, with no doubt that I’d get there. Concerned over what was going on with him, I consulted with a therapist. They told me it would do him wonders to find a new hobby where he shined. Watching him two miles up on that mountainside, there was no doubt in my mind, this was it. He not only could stand up with no effort, or scoot back and forth, side to side in the snow, but he was inventing new moves that impressed even our instructor.

This kid can do anything. Crazy. #KeystoneMoments @keystone_resort

A video posted by Desiree Miller (@desmiller) on

And as I watched him, I gave myself the ok to sit back for a bit and accept my failure while acknowledging him in his glory, soaking up the sport.

Sure, it would have been great to be gliding beside him, selfishly, but it was probably better for him to see I can’t do it all. Not even close.
After a few hours, he walked away with a new passion. And I walked away grateful for this snowboarding lesson that taught us a lot more than the basics of balancing on a board.

Guest post by Desiree Miller. Desiree Miller is an award-winning freelance writer and vlogger who shares a daily dose of humor, hope and inspiration on her web site, and offers great getaways for readers on her newly launched site, She has four children and loves travel, tennis, dark chocolate, dancing and a good belly laugh. Desiree was named the top writer in the national ‘We Still Blog’ awards, ‘Atlanta’s Top Mom Blogger’ by WXIA, and is listed among the ‘Top 25 Southern Blogs’.
You can follow her on Twitter at @DesireeMiller and Instagram @desmiller, and find her also on YouTube and Pinterest.


Join us!

Read more Instagram Travel posts from these new blog posts this month and add your own blog post. Linky closes on the last day of the month.

Link up, but read the rules first!instagram-travel-linky-rules

Instagram Travel Thursday

Join us every Thursday on Instagram by sharing your travel photos with #IGTravelThursday hashtag.
Follow @skimbaco and @IGtravelThursday and we will feature the best photos on Instagram and on our Facebook page.

Instagram Travel Thursday is a fun community project to connect travelers on Instagram, read more.

Bloggers! Join the Instagram Travel Thursday and Host the Linky!

Bloggers, join us! Get email sent to you when the Instagram Travel Thursday linky post is up (subscribe it here).


Also get my ebook Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World FOR FREE when you subscribe to my newsletter.

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Mappin Monday: Asia Travel Favorites from Pinterest Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:06:38 +0000
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Mappin Monday - travel bloger project on Pinterest by @thetraveltester and @skimbaco

Mappin Monday – new feature on Skimbaco Lifestyle

We have a new feature at Skimbaco Lifestyle – once a month I will be featuring some of my favorite travel blog posts, or more specifically, travel Pins from Pinterest from the Mappin Monday travel blogger community. Our team attended the TBD-Italy conference in Rimini, Italy, last fall, and we heard the wonderful Nienke of The Travel Tester travel blog to talk about Pinterest. I spoke in the same conference about our Instagram Travel Thursday project, and how we have been joining the traveler community together on Instagram. Light bulb went off in our heads, and we decited to team together with Nienke and do something similar on Pinterest, and Mappin Monday was born. A few months later, we have over 430 pins pinned on the map on our Mappin Monday Pinterest board. Our goal is to get many many more travel destinations pinned to our map! Starting today, I will also start featuring my monthly favorites from the board for you to read – and pin of course!

Pinterest for travel planning - Mappin Monday!
Skimbaco Lifestyle

Mappin Monday takes you to Asia

Our first Mappin Monday takes you to Asia! Here are some of my favorite pins from Asia from our Mappin Monday community.

What’s Mappin Monday?

Mappin Monday is a collaboration between The Travel Tester and Skimbaco Lifestyle. Our mission is to unite travellers, travel bloggers and other travel industry professionals and destinations on Pinterest, creating the biggest resource of quality travel content with personal travel tips and recommendations. Read more how the Mappin Monday project started and make sure to check out our Instagram Travel Thursday as well and let’s connect on Pinterest!

Skimbaco Lifestyle

How travel bloggers can participate to Mappin Monday:

1. Start by joining our Facebook Group (I know, not Pinterest, but it’s easier to keep in touch with updates and questions here)
2. Read the rules for joining and apply in this group to Pin your content to our Community Board on Pinterest.
Post 1-3 of your best Pins to the board every Monday, for every 1 Pin you post, please Re-Pin 2 others to your own boards to spread great content!
3. Remember to link your Pin to a specific location on the Map, to make the board extra useful for followers!
Every last Monday of the Month, Skimbaco Lifestyle and The Travel Tester will pick our favourite 5 Pins from the Community Board and highlights them on our website.
4. We encourage you to also select your favourite travel content from the Mappin Monday Board every Month and post links to it from your own website. Let us know if you do, so we can promote your blog as well!
Keep an eye out on the Facebook Group for themed campaigns and other fun activities!

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Argan Oil in a Nut Shell – How the Moroccan Gold is Made and Why It’s So Important for Women Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:37:42 +0000
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Argan oil from Morocco

“Guess how old I am?”
Said the sales lady at the souk in Marrakesh in Morocco as I was holding two bottles of agran oil in my hands, and trying to decide if I should buy more of this miracle oil to take home. I tried figuring out a polite way to tell her I can not start guessing a woman’s age, because no matter which culture, it’s never OK to guess a woman’s age wrong, especially if it goes way off (on the high end!).

“No, really. You guess how old I am. I use this oil every day and look at my skin,” she said.

Yet, I couldn’t tell the woman she looked around my age, mid to late 30’s, but the way she dressed, she could be 50 years old, so I really wasn’t quite sure. Her skin was smooth, with less wrinkles around eyes than what I had.

I got myself out of answering as she said “I’m 45 years old, I love this argan oil, look, no wrinkles and makes my skin so smooth. Buy this, I use this one.”

And so I did. I bought the argan oil at souk, even though I had already bought more directly from women’s co-op Assaiss in rural Morocco, where I was able to see firsthand how argan oil is made.

This had been just one of those many visits to different natural beauty product manufacturing facilities, herbal medicine healing places, plantations and farms I have visited around the world, which have made me a believer for better skin care and more holistic health care. My love for products like argan oil is the reason I just recently became a Young Living essential oils whole sale distributor. I have been using different oils and natural healing products for years, but they have usually been products I have carried home from my travels. I am ready to take the next step, and start learning even more about the essential oils and more natural way of healing.

Argan Oil in a nut shell

Argan oil has become quite popular the past couple of years, especially in beauty and hair products, and you can’t shop for any beauty products without seeing Moroccan Argan Oil mentioned. There are a lot of information about the benefits of argan oil to skin and hair, but it’s hard to tell which is scientifically proven. This miracle oil is rich in antioxidants so it’s a great anti-aging product, unsaturated essential fatty acids Omega 6 and Omega 9 giving you energy and has anti-inflammatory properties, and vitamins like Vitamin E helping to heal your skin and hair and it has squalene, which might have skin cancer preventive abilities.*

argan oil's benefits for skin and hair

You might have also heard it being called the Moroccan Oil, because argan oil is a rare oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree nut. The argan tree is a 1.5 million year old tree type that only grows in the Southwest of Morocco. While Moroccan women have loved argan oil for centuries as their beauty product and on their dinner tables (it’s especially good as a dipping oil), argan oil has a much more important meaning for many Moroccan women today. The Southwest area of Morocco where the argan trees grow is called the “argan road,” and it forms a loop from Marrakech via Essaouira, Taroudant, Tiznit, Tafraout, Goulimine, Agadir and returns the outskirts of Marrakech. The area is an UNESCO protected, the argan forest has been an international ‘biosphere reserve’ since 1998.


The area is rural, and argan oil plays an important economical and environmental role and employs close to 3 million people in the area. Mostly it’s women, working in small co-operatives, and argan allows them to get the income needed to get education for their children, or to provide to their families. Since argan oil production is mainly done by women, it has also improved the women’s autonomy and standing in the very male-centered society.

argan oil co-operative in Morocco

Making Argan Oil in Morocco

Argan oil making in Morocco

The fruit of the argan tree looks a little bit like olive, and the fruit needs to be dried first before taking the kernels out.

argan tree

Once the fruit is dried out, it is easier to separate the hard-shelled nut from inside the fruit. The nut contains one to three argan oil-rich kernels, and the nut needs to be cracked open to get all of the kernels out.

Argan tree nut is cracked and the kernels separated

This is all still done manually, and the Berber women in the argan oil co-op separate the kernels from the nut by hand.


Making argan oil is a four-woman production line. Once the kernels have been separated from the nut, they are passed on to the next person in line. The kernels then are being grounded into brown paste. The brown-colored paste looks like natural peanut butter. The paste is passed on to the next person, who will then knead golf-ball sized out of it. This hand kneading is one of the most important parts of the production.


To extract the oil, the dough balls are pressed until the become hard and the oil is extracted. Finally, they decant unfiltered argan oil into vessels.

Woman making argan oil from nuts in Morocco

The Assaiss argan co-operative 22 kms from Essaouira, Agadir road at No. 18 the center of the rural town of Sidi Hmad Ouhamed also had a shop for their products, and a restaurant and a little souvenir shop right next to it making it a great stop for those traveling up to the mountains. There were not many other places to stop in this very rural area.


The shopping for argan oil products was not that easy task though. There were so many different variations and uses for skin, hair and as an edible oil, and it was quite overwhelming to learn about all of the different products.


I’ve loved using all of the products I bought from the co-op, and wish I had bought more! Now when I joined Young Living, I bought less expensive argan oil (and not as good quality) and I am mixing it with essential oils to get even more out of the oil. Hoping to share my experiences soon.


What about you – do you love agran oil? Or do you use essential oils? Learn more why I joined Young Living and see my monthly freebie special. NOW is the perfect time to start learning more about essential oils and start living life to the fullest.

*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website.

Disclosure: I was in Morocco on a trip organized by Norske Reiseblogger and sponsored by Sahara Experience. My opinions are my own, as always.

Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.

Let’s connect!

Visit Skimbaco Lifestyle (’s profile on Pinterest.


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Just In: What Women Want in 2015 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:16:50 +0000
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trends what women want in 2015

January is definitely the time for goal setting, reflecting on the past year, and planning how you want to incorporate some changes into your daily lifestyle. At Skimbaco, we are all about living life to the fullest and giving you the information, the tools, and the ideas to help you do just that. This month, SheSpeaks and Lippe Taylor released its findings on what women want in 2015.  We found the results interesting. More than 2,000 U.S. women, aged 18 and up, answered an online survey during a four-day period on the website.

2015 is the Year of Health followed by Home Improvement


68 percent of the women surveyed said their main priority was to get healthier this year. Even I am on board with that one. Since January 1, I’ve been cooking healthier by having produce delivered from local farms to my home in Raleigh. I’m eating more vegetables than ever, and I’m already down six pounds. This isn’t just about losing weight for me, but it is about a healthy lifestyle change and passing these new healthy habits down to my children.

Photo: IKEA’s new kitchen system

42% said that they plan to move to a new home or remodel their current one. Our editor, Katja, will be doing just that in 2015. She’s taking a mid-century house in upstate New York, and is turning it into her dream house. She is also on a health kick, and started using more essential oils to feel better. You will see a lot of more health and home related content at Skimbaco Lifestyle this year.

2015 is the Year to Travel

Travel more in 2015

We love this survey result at Skimbaco. When it comes to their disposable income, 28% of those women survey say that they would like to spend it on travel.  The categories to choose in this survey were: fashion (16%), beauty (14%), investments (10%), technology (6 %), automotive (6%), wine and spirits (2%), and other (18%).  This was not an open-ended survey so we’re not sure what other may be, but it could be spending money on your kids, dining out, movies, concerts, theatre, and even home improvement. Regardless, the column “other” still came in second to travel. Where would you like to go in 2015? You can count on Skimbaco this year, to give you the latest on travel experiences that will help you live your life to the fullest.

2015 is the Year for Quality Time

goal 2015: more family time

How you spend your time is important. 73% of women  surveyed say they will keep themselves happy and balanced by spending time with family, followed by doing little things for themselves throughout the year (72%), exercising (64%), having quiet/meditation time (50%) and spending quality time with friends (50%). Spa visits are still important for rejuvenation. 17% of women said they will spend more quality time at a spa.

2015 Wish List

It seems not everyone is happy with their weight.  When asked “which gift would you most like to receive in 2015,” the response was weight loss (27%), better health for myself or loved one (26%), vacation with one special person (20%), and of course, a raise (12%).

We are also so glad that women depend on lifestyle magazines (39%)  like Skimbaco and other bloggers (27%-such as Skimbaco team’s personal blogs) for information sources you trust in addition to friends and family (66%). In terms of social media,  35% of you say you will increase your use of Instagram and 32% of you plan to increase your Pinterest use. We are right there with you on these platforms, and will develop boards to help you with your goals this year. Of course, we think we think we are one of the top leaders for Instagram use. Katja has published the ebook, “Instagram Your Guide to the World,” and we have established the #IGTRAVELThursday community which unites travelers across the world. When you connect, the world seems so much smaller and easier to explore.

Post by Leigh Hines

Leigh Hines, hotel and family travel expert | Skimbaco Lifestyle

“I live like a tourist in my hometown and my dream is to travel the world one luxury hotel at the time. If you love traveling as much as I do, subscribe to Skimbaco Travel, and never miss any travel content from our site.” Leigh Hines of Hines Sight Blog

Let’s connect

Visit Leigh Hines of’s profile on Pinterest.


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