• There's a universal truth that women should learn as soon as they can: men suck at choosing the right gift for a special occasion. Of course, there are exceptions, but as always, those exceptions only prove the point.

    They don't mean to disappoint us, and it's also not a matter of budget. It’s just because they are terrified of everything related to women's territories, and they deeply believe that if we say we need a new coffee machine, we'll be happy to get one for Christmas. Poor devils... Do you have any idea what it means for a woman to receive a home appliance as a gift? Years and years of fighting for equal rights going down the drain by one single daily-use object.

    I know my husband will not be happy after reading this, but I have to share two episodes that clearly show how the best of the intentions can end up ruining a special moment.

    The first one happened when we were still dating. I've been whining about how out of shape I was, and how little time I had to exercise for a while, so my beloved boyfriend showed up with four Christmas gifts for me. I was so thrilled. Four gifts, all for me? How thoughtful... But then I opened the first one: an exercise game for PlayStation. Ok. It might be fun. Second gift: a Yoga mattress. Humpf.... Third gift: weights. By that time, I couldn't disguise my disappointment, but there was hope. The fourth gift had a book shape. You can't go wrong with a book, can you? No, unless it's a book with tips for slimming! I won't get into details about how it went from there, but it was something between a nervous meltdown and hysteria.

    The second episode happened on my 30th birthday. A date to remember, especially for someone like me, who takes birthdays very seriously. In that particular year, I was in love with a Marc Jacobs handbag, and I wasn't hiding it. My husband was committed to making my day super special, and he was doing quite well. First he gave me a bicycle, the one I still ride every day. I was happier than a child. Then, during a dinner party with all my friends and family, he gave me a beautiful Birthday cake, with a shoe on the top, and a lovely dress. I couldn't be happier and looking back, I wish the day ended there, at that magical moment. But it didn't. There was yet another gift, which came in a big card box. The first thought that crossed my mind was that inside that huge box was my desired Marc Jacobs handbag. However, as I took the Styrofoam out of the way, I found a foot massager. Are you serious? Who gives his thirty-year-old wife a foot massager, which cost the same as two Marc Jacobs handbags??? But baby, you love foot massages, he said. Really? A foot massager? Forget it. I'll store it somewhere far away and keep on dreaming with my unachievable handbag...

    So, there it is. No matter how good the intentions, choosing the right gift for a woman can end up in an epic disaster. That's why all men reading this article should remember these five little precious tips:

    1) Never, ever, give her a home appliance, not even a hair curler. Ever!

    2) Never, ever, give her sports equipment, unless you want her to think that you think she's fat. And that's not good for you.

    3) Stay alert to every hint she gives. Every woman gives precious and subtle hints about what they want for a special occasion.

    4) If you still can't figure out what she wants, ask for help. Ask your daughters, in-laws or her best friend. These women know better than the helpful shop assistant, whose only interest is selling you something.

    5) Lastly, don't try to be creative. Most women love surprises but controlled ones. Like, oh darling what a surprise! I was wondering if you would give me my favorite perfume or that book I was telling about for months. Unless it's a trip to New York. In that case, you can surprise her. (I must say that after those two episodes, my husband redeemed himself by taking me on a wonderful trip to NY)

    As for the ladies:

    1) Go straight to the point. Unless is sex, men rarely get the hints.

    2) Tell your kids, sisters, best-friend want you really want. It's likely your husbands will ask them for help, especially if they read this article.

    3) Write Santa a letter. But make sure you are very precise about the model, size, color and store location. A bag is not just a bag. There's the texture, and the shape and a whole world men will never understand.

    Happy holidays and happy shopping!

  • LOVE Magazine is known for it's super sexy covers and editorials, but this Advent Calendar is something else.
    Each day features a beautiful woman, from supermodels like Miranda Kerr and Isabeli Fontana to sex bombs like Pamela Anderson, filmed by a talented photographer or filmmaker. Short, sexy, and trendy films which will make you wish it's Christmas all year round.



    (click on the calendar to go to the website)









  • Malala was born in Pakistan in 1997. Her father, a poet and teacher, taught her the importance of education, especially in a girls life.
    In 2009, when the Taliban took control of the area where she lived, banning television, banning music, and limiting women’s education, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban.
    A climate of fear prevailed, and Malala and her father began to receive death threats for their outspoken views. After the BBC blog ended, Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times. She also received greater international coverage and was revealed as the author of the BBC blog. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and she was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her increased profile and strident criticism of the Taliban caused Taliban leaders to decide she had to be silenced.
    Thus, on 9 October 2012 a masked gunman entered her school bus and
    shot her with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Like a heroin from an adventure book, Malala survived. Doctors say it was nearly a miracle. I believe it was meant to be.
    As soon as she recovered, Malala continued her work  as a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors.
    Her speech at the United Nations, the day she turned 16, is simply inspiring. But to me, one of the most remarkable things she ever said in another speech was this: "this children they do not want an iPhone, an X-box, a PlayStation or chocolates. They just want a book and a pen". Today she won the Nobel Peace Prize. More than deserved.

    If you want to help Malala, you can join the Malala Fund.



    PS: The Prize was shared with another beautiful human being, Kailash Satyarthi, who's fight for children's rights in India has already taken more then 80.000 children off slavery. 



  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and to celebrate it Stella McCartney created a beautiful set of pink lacy lingerie. A portion of the proceeds will go towards a new mammography suite at the Linda McCartney Center in Liverpool, which treats patients suffering from the disease. The cause is very dear to Stella, since her mother Linda passed away from breast cancer in 1998.

    “If you can prevent this illness coming into your life and destroying your family unit, then there is nothing more important," said Stella. She also explained why her friend Kate Moss is the face of the campaign: “She kindly agreed to be part of it on the day of our Winter 2014 ad campaign shoot. It’s also a big deal for Kate to bring awareness to this cause."

    The campaign was shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.
    Sexy.




  • In 1854, Louis Vuitton founded his House and in 1896 his son, Georges Vuitton, created The Monogram in honour of his late father. It is one of the first exercises in elevated branding and a defining sign of a global culture to come. It quickly became an icon.

    Louis Vuitton’s ‘Celebrating Monogram’ project is a collection of works that shows the distinctly personal side of the Monogram. Six creative iconoclasts – the best in their individual fields – who blur the lines between fashion, art, architecture and product design, have been given carte blanche to dictate and make whatever they see fit in the patterned canvas.

    Echoing the special Louis Vuitton centenary collection of 1996 – where Azzedine Alaia, Manolo Blahnik, Romeo Gigli, Helmut Lang, Isaac Mizrahi, Sybilla and Vivienne Westwood contributed individual and distinct designs – for 2014’s collection, the participants have progressed even further. Here, Christian Louboutin, Cindy Sherman, Frank Gehry, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Newson and Rei Kawakubo radically, personally and playfully realise an unparalleled collection.

    To die for, I must say.










  • In 2012, Raf Simons substituted the best designer of Dior since Monsieur Christian himself. Galliano stepped down after a scandal involving alcohol abuse and Nazi jokes, putting an end to a reign of romantic and elegant ready-to-wear and dreamy and lush haute-couture collections. Unfortunately, his substitute made a point of doing something completely different.
     
    It’s only normal that Simons wanted to distance himself from Galliano’s heritage since it would be impossible to level to his outstanding style. But he didn’t have to mischaracterize Dior! At the haute-couture collection AW2014, recently showed in Paris, he presented a woman with loose hair, baggy pants, jumpsuits, oversized jackets and dresses far away from the classic Dior silhouette.
     
    When I opened Dior’s newsletter, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like a Jil Sander collection (where Simons worked before, by the way), which it’s not a bad thing, but simply a parallel universe form Dior’s style codes. The fans don’t want to see an Avant-garde collection, nor simple and efficient clothes. They don’t want Couture to resemble ready-to-wear collections. A Dior couture piece has to be a masterpiece, something unique that makes us dream of fairy tales. It can’t be something modern and minimal, which can be found elsewhere.
     
    Fashion editors may stand for Simons, may give him standing ovations, and may agree on his “disrupt conventions” approach. But fans will keep on being outraged and write thing like “Simons stabs The House of Dior every six months”. Here are a few images from the Belgium disaster. Please, bring Galliano back.


     
     

     



  • I’m a huge fan of TV series, I admit it. Since MacGyver and The Knight Rider in my childhood, Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch throughout my adolescence, Ally McBeal and Sex in the City in my early twenties, several TV series were a great part of my lazy afternoons and evenings. But apart from Fawlty Towers and Seinfeld, which were created by the best comedians of TV history, I never envied any screenwriter. Until I started watching Modern Family...

    No wonder it’s one of the most awarded comedy series in recent years, including 5 Writers Guild of America. The show is so good that makes you want to watch certain episodes over and over again (which I do, by the way). The characters, the dialogues, the casting... everything is spot on. But for me, the secret of its success is the fact that it portraits situations, discussions and family rituals everyone has been through. Some dialogues are so real that sometimes I wonder if my living room is bugged.

    I just watched season 5 and I’m already counting the days to watch season 6. I guess I’ll have to watch old episodes until September 24.



  • From the day a child is born until... well, until the end of our days, we mothers have several periods of sleep deprivation. Initially we have the feeding every three-hour period, then it's the colic period, later the teething period, then the several children diseases that keep parents up all night periods and finally the "I won't sleep at home tonight" periods. Basically, sleep deprivation comes with the job.

    There are people who may try to fool you saying that it's only a phase or try to convince you that their children have always slept the whole night through. They're lying. Seriously don't believe them. The honest truth is that a woman will never have a real good night sleep after becoming a mother. And that's probably why there aren't many women who can conciliate the hardest job in the World (Motherhood) with a high position such as being President: chronic sleep deprivation leads to extreme fatigue, which then causes lack of discernment.

    I've heard that women become slower after giving birth. Some say it's the hormones, some say it's pregnancy, some say it's nature. But it's not: it's tiredness. Check out the list of things I found myself doing after my son was born:

    - Leaving the house in sleepers

    - Putting the kid shoes backwards

    - Quickly making a soup for baby's dinner totally forgetting I had done one pan of soup the day before

    - Using shampoo instead of body milk on baby

    - Forgetting what I was about to say, being unable to name a particular object or switch people's names - specially at the end of the day

    - Painting fingernails with "Stop Biting "product instead of nail polish and only realizing that after washing hands for the 20th time.

    - Returning home at least once every morning because I forgot something.

    I used to have a great memory, always knew where things were and rarely forgot stuff around. Nowadays I don't trust myself: I avoid holding important documents (like the passports when traveling) and I always check if I left the kid in the car. Seriously. It's tiredness. And I bet every mother has a similar story.

  • This is new ad campaign for Sony 4k TV.

    8 million petals thrown into a volcano in Costa Rica, two weeks of footage, an amazing result.

    Ad agency: McCann
    Photographer: Nick Meek


    The advert:






  • In 2005, Dino Casimiro took this picture, believing it could be one of the biggest waves in the world. Here, in the small village of Nazaré, just 100km from Lisbon, could be the next destiny for big wave lovers. Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara was the only big wave rider contacted by Nazaré who accepted the invitation to come and see for himself the North Canyon phenomenon. He arrived in 2010, starting a project that today is known all over the world: the ZON North Canyon project.

    The project has resulted in three documentaries (one for each year Garrett exceeded Nazaré's waves),  which capture magnificent moments not only for those who like surf, but for everyone who likes a good story of men defying nature. Besides, it allowed Garrett to set a new Guinness World Record for the biggest wave ever surfed.

    This month the project launched a brand new website where the story is told with beautiful images and footage.  I had the honour of writing the copy. A tough job because each picture shown on this website truly is worth a thousand words. Anyway, I hope you like the website and enjoy the ride.







  • From time to time, a new fashion icon is born. Not the "it girls" who fashionistas and designers love, but those women who are always stunning no matter the occasion.

    It's not easy to rise to this status, specially in times when all bloggers and magazines are eager to banter the same celebrity they idolized the previous week. During the award season, that goes from the Gotham Awards to the Oscars, all eyes are set on the red carpet waiting for the next fashion disaster. But to Lupita Nyong'o, it seems easy enough.

    The young actress who catched everyone's attention last fall, by the time "12 years a slave" was pointed as one of the Oscars favourites, gives a style lesson in every public appearance she makes. From October till last night, she managed to present herself faultless in every red carpet. Such that she quickly became the star of several fashion editorials (Vogue included) and was chosen to be Miu Miu's new face. And though it is known that every celebrity has a personal stylist, the truth is when it comes to style, whether you have it or you don't. In Lupita's case, style pours beyond the dresses she wears and even with the help from Michaela Erlanger, it's hard to find one occasion when she wasn't simply beautiful.

    With the sweetest smile and chocolate skin, natural talent and sense of style, I believe Lupita is going to become an icon for the next generations. Last night's Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress was just the beginning of an amazing career.








  • It's Valentine's Day. The day lovers give flowers, chocolates and tender words. The day couples go out on a special date or simply say all they forget to say on all the other days. The day women expect to be pampered by their men.

    However, for many women this is just another day of violence. Another day of beating, rape, genital mutilation, discrimination, slavery, and humiliation. And I'm not talking about poor women of underdeveloped countries, where tradition means more than humanity. I'm talking about women of every country, every culture, and every social condition.

    Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women will be raped or beaten during her lifetime. Let it put it this way:
    a) if you're a man and you have a mother, a wife and a daughter, it means that one of them will be raped or beaten
    b) if you're a woman and you have a mother and a sister, it means one of you will be raped or beaten.

    That's one billion women. Hard to imagine, uh? That's why ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE campaign was born. A call to women, men, and youth around the world to gather safely on 14 February 2014 outside places where they are entitled to justice – court houses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.

    The campaign is a recognition that we cannot end violence against women without looking at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Impunity lives at the heart of these interlocking forces.

    Precisely today, Valentine's Day, we should all join a nearby event and claim for justice. But if you can't find an event near you there are other ways you can help the movement. By taking legal action and making the truth visible. By calling for an end of all forms of inequality, discrimination and patriarchy. By shaming perpetrators. By sharing your story or your vision of justice on all social networks. Above all, by treating all women, regardless of her age, religion or social condition, with dignity and respect.

    We can't remain silent. We can't stop fighting. Rise. Release. Dance!



  • This is a love story and a catharsis by artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz. His way of letting go and simultaneously immortalizing the 12 love ghosts from the past.

    But instead of portraying his lovers he decided to transform them in shoes. The exhibition, held at Melissa pop-up store in Miami, ended last January, but you can enjoy it virtually in the blog 12 shoes for 12 lovers. The shoes are marvelous, but the stories around each one of them are also great. I learned that Sebastian was surprised by the police while having sex in his car with GI Jane, a colonel's daughter! And also that "The Virgin Anna" turned into a nun after losing her virginity with him.

    In several interviews, Sebastian confessed that most of these women were flattered, and some didn't realize they had such an impact in his life. Well, most of them but probably not "Ice Queen Sophie" or "Gold Digger Alison"...






    Make sure you check the artist website for more great work.
  • ...in 5 very hard steps!

    Since my first novel, Thirty Something, reached Amazon Top 100, lots of people have been asking how I did it. From journalists to aspiring writers, everyone wants to know my secret. Well, that's what I'm going to reveal in this post. That and a universal truth: there's no such thing as overnight success.

    Step 1: write a book
    Yes, you have to write a book, and that takes a long, long time. And after all the months or even years that took you to write your book, you must read over and over again, edit, rewrite, and be humble enough to accept the critics from beta readers. All this before you even consider sending the manuscript to a real editor or agent. If you're thinking about self-publishing, you should hire a professional editor to proof read your book and ensure that it meets minimum quality standards.
    (In my case, I also had to pay for the translation, as the book was originally written in Portuguese) 

    Step 2: self-publish
    With the help of platforms such as Amazon KDP, Lulu or Smashwords, self-publishing's never been easier. All process is simple and free, and there are always guides to help you format your document and help you through all the steps required. These platforms also offer a list of services or freelancers that can help you with the pagination, book cover and even promotion. Never neglect the cover of your book and don't try to do it by yourself just because you know a few things about Photoshop. People do judge a book by its cover. 
    (If you need a good illustrator I recommend the talented Sofia Silva, with whom I work for six years - and no, she's not a relative although we share the same name. Silva is one of the most common names in Portugal) 

    Step 3: beg for reviews
    This step is crucial, whether your book is self-publish or not. Online shopping is seldom lonely, and there's no bookseller to help you with you decision. So lots of readers rely on book reviews and ratings before purchasing a book. Since I published the Portuguese version a year before the English one, I started by asking all my friends who read the book to write an honest review. Then I asked all readers who contacted me to do the same, and finally I started contacting Amazon Top reviewers and bloggers in my genre. That's basically what traditional publishers do with book critics: sending a free copy in exchange for an honest review. But beware that some reviewers will be brutally honest and post 2 star reviews. I think that's great (although it can make you really sad when you first read it) because it proves that all reviews are real and not paid by the author or posted by fake profiles. A book with only 5 star ratings is very suspicious.

    Step 4: promote, promote, promote
    After publishing your work and after having dozens of real reviews, you must keep on promoting your book. Promoting a book online is a serious business and almost a full-time job. It's something me and my agent (who is also my husband) have been constantly working since the day the book was launched. There are thousands of books being published every day, and it's harder and harder to get attention. You must try traditional online media, such as banners, Google ads or Goodreads ads, but also be quite active in all social networks. Create a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an author profile at Amazon and Goodreads and Librarything. You should also try different prices, giveaways and bargain days for your book, because, at this point, you need readers. It's not about the money: few writers make money with their first few books. It's about engaging people so that they became fans and one day faithful readers.

    Step 5: repeat
    After all the effort to publish and promote you first book, you must keep on writing. Write another book and repeat all the steps. Having more titles gives you credibility and enhances your chances to appear in search engines results and recommendations. Also, when someone really likes a book, tends to buy the next books from the same author.

    That's it. That's how I did it. Not overnight, not by luck, but with lots of hard work and late hours. Hours that my husband and me "stole" from our son, our friends, our weekends, and our holidays. Yes, my book is good, and I write quite well, but as many said before, talent doesn’t take you anywhere if you don't work hard.


  • Every little kid looks up to someone. In the early years, usually it's someone within the family: first the parents, then the older siblings, cousins or parents friends. But as years go by, children start having other interests, and they shift towards people they don't know personally, such as the cool neighbour who rides an awesome motorcycle, the popular girl in school and above all the celebrity of the year.

    It's inevitable. Celebrities are all over the Media. They are beautiful, cheerful and usually come with lots of cool accessories, like convertible cars, bling bling jewellery and crazy hairstyles. Whether they're athletes, leading actors of the little ones favourite TV shows or pop singers, its no use to fight it: kids want to be like their beloved celebrity.

    So, suddenly we have strangers being role models to our kids. And, as we all know, not every celebrity is a good one. At first, they seek fame at whatever cost and are the first ones to say how happy they are with all the attention they're having and how grateful they are to all their fans, even the younger ones. But as pressure and fame rise, as their private lives are probed, some of them just lose their minds and start doing everything they shouldn't do in public: smoking, drinking, using drugs, releasing sex tapes or showing the finger to the cameras. All the glamour and glitter fades and we are stuck with just another spoiled and messed up human being, that couldn't care less for the fans.

    What can a parent do? Well, on one hand, we can hope we've done a good job showing our kids what's acceptable and what's not and wait for them to see for themselves that their favourite person isn't always that cool after all. On the other hand, we should, from an early stage, teach our children that celebrities are not super heroes. They can be extremely talented in some field, but they're also human like the rest of us. They have fears, they have bad days, and sometimes they make wrong decisions. Most of all, when doing this, we shouldn't be judgemental. Kids, especially Tweens and teens, don't react well to prohibitions. For instance, we shouldn't forbid our daughters to listen to Miley Cyrus songs just because her video clips are almost explicit, but we should let them know that girls don't need to show their body like that to get attention and be desirable. Something that, perhaps, Miley's parents forgot to do.





  • Here it is: the year-end review time. The day almost everyone has the urge to go through all major personal events of the year (and even the minor ones). There always is a piece of regret, a bit of self-pity and a certain dose of pride for any achievements.

    There are weddings, births and promotions. There are divorces, mourning and unemployment. All of this happening at the same time, to the same person or family. And then there is also the classic year-end media review that only makes us feel more insignificant before all the outstanding events the world witnessed. What did I do for mankind? How can I complain before the news about Syria? How can I brag before the great achievements of people like Mandela?

    But I can! We all can because we are human. Because we may be lucky enough to live far away from a war zone, but we still carry our own small tragedies. Our achievements may not change the whole world, but they can change someone's world. And mainly because few of us will write our names in History, but we all are part of it, with our little exciting lives, our little inspiring routines and our greatly mundane desires.We shouldn’t feel less worthy just because our good deed of the year was helping an old lady cross the street. Tomorrow we can start over. Or the day after tomorrow. Actually at any point in our life.

    Álvaro de Campos wrote that « the world is for the ones that are born to conquer it and not for the ones that dream they can conquer it, even if they are right.» But what's left if we don't dream?

    Let's then dream 2014 as we please. A year when we can be heroes to someone, geniuses in any activity (even if it's crossword solving!), or when we can just be ourselves, with all our flaws. Some will dream of peace in the world, long health and the cure to cancer. Some will dream of a new car, a lover or a Chanel bag. It doesn't matter how big or how frivolous the dream is for as long as we can choose our own dreams, we will be free. Even in the darkest days. Even in this petty country.

    ©Steve Simpson