Holiday 2013 Gift Guide: Wonderbag. A Unique Recipe for Change Launches in the United States


Wonderbag, the simple but revolutionary non-electric portable slow cooker, brings its inspirational use to the United States this fall, and will be available exclusively through online retailer Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products, has partnered with Wonderbag to bring it to North America.

Wonderbag, the simple but revolutionary non-electric portable slow cooker, launches in the United States this fall, and is available exclusively at For every Wonderbag purchased in the U.S. through, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. (PRNewsFoto/Wonderbag)

Wonderbag, the simple but revolutionary non-electric portable slow cooker, launches in the United States this fall, and is available exclusively at For every Wonderbag purchased in the U.S. through, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. (PRNewsFoto/Wonderbag)

Wonderbag isn’t just a powerless cooker; it’s an instrument for change.  Founded in South Africa by Sarah Collins to ease the social, economic and environmental impacts of wood fire cooking, the Wonderbag is proof that a simple slow cooker can make both delicious food and a lasting environmental and humanitarian difference. Collins, the founder of Natural Balance, the company who developed the Wonderbag, was recently recognized by Fortune as a member of the 2013 class of the Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.

Natural Balance is a South African social enterprise established in 2008 which developed the Wonderbag. The Wonderbag is a heat retention cooker, which was inspired by Sarah Collins’s memories of using similar devices as a child growing up on a farm in rural South Africa.  ONE WONDERBAG saves, in Africa, over the period of a year, one ton of carbon, 1.7 trees, 3,000 liters of water and $36. The Founders of Natural Balance, Murray and Sarah Collins, announced at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, their goal to have 100 million Wonderbags in homes across the world by 2020. With over 600,000 Wonderbags already in use in communities across Africa and the Middle East, they are well on the road to achieving this. The Wonderbag has thus far impacted over 2 million people who otherwise would not have had access to daily meals. It has created over 2,000 jobs and has more than 40 entrepreneurs selling the Wonderbag. Businesses have been started, domestic violence reduced and children put back into school. The impact of this simple innovation is astounding. For instance, in 2012 Microsoft bought over 20,000 carbon credits from Natural Balance.

Wonderbag, the simple but revolutionary non-electric portable slow cooker, launches in the United States this fall, and is available exclusively at For every Wonderbag purchased in the U.S. through, one is donated to a family in need in Africa.(PRNewsFoto/Wonderbag)

Wonderbag, the simple but revolutionary non-electric portable slow cooker, launches in the United States this fall, and is available exclusively at For every Wonderbag purchased in the U.S. through, one is donated to a family in need in Africa.(PRNewsFoto/Wonderbag)

Wonderbag is all about fostering a sense of global community and celebrating what unites us all – our love of cooking and of sharing a meal with those we love,” Collins explains. “With the Buy One, Give One program, U.S. consumers have the power to cook wholesome, healthy meals for their families, whilst empowering a family in Africa who could not otherwise afford a Wonderbag.”

Slow cooking is a quick and easy way to create wholesome, healthy, homemade meals. The Wonderbag allows the U.S. consumer not only to slow cook without using electricity or gas, but also to bring these slow cooked favorites anywhere – potlucks, picnics, tailgating, and dinner parties.  Virtually any slow cooker or stovetop recipe can be easily adapted for the Wonderbag, including traditional holiday dishes like mashed potatoes, gravy and soup.

Wonderbag’s clever insulation allows food that has been brought to a boil to continue slow cooking while in the bag.  No electricity is required. Boil it, bag it, slow cook it, and serve it.  Potlucks, tailgating, or dinner parties, Wonderbag is versatile and can be used anywhere you want and for any occasion. It’s also perfect for holidays when stove and counter space are at a premium.

Buy One, Give One

For every Wonderbag purchased in the U.S. through, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. The Wonderbag has already reached more than 600,000 African homes through the international Buy One, Give One campaign. Wonderbag launched in the United Kingdom and Europe in 2012.

Wood fire cooking is the source of major social, economic, and environmental issues in Africa. Families in Africa that use Wonderbag significantly reduce fuel usage, allowing time for other activities such as attending school and work, and not having to collect firewood daily, as well as a significant cost savings that eases the burden of poverty. Using the Wonderbag helps save water, reduces the carbon footprint, and minimizes deforestation and smoke inhalation deaths.

U.S. consumers can also feel great that their Wonderbag has helped empower women across the globe.

The Wonderbag is an innovative solution that empowers women and helps them better feed their families, while also helping the environment,” says Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO, Creative Director, and Co-Founder of FEED Projects. “It is wonderful to see such a simple and brilliant solution come to market in the United States.”

“We’ve seen the impact Wonderbag has had for families in Africa, and we believe in its potential for growth in the United States,” Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America, says. “Unilever is proud to support Sarah Collins and her eco-entrepreneurial causes as she launches Wonderbag in the U.S.”

Along with supporting the Buy One, Give One effort, a Wonderbag purchase also includes a Knorr®/Wonderbag slow-cooker recipe booklet and free Knorr® Homestyle Stock to add rich flavor to your favorite dishes. Knorr® Homestyle Stock tastes like stock made from scratch. It uses carefully selected ingredients that are slowly simmered to perfection by the Knorr® Chefs.

The Wonderbag is available in red or blue at for $60. Empower someone in Africa with your purchase, and empower yourself by learning more at

Holiday 2013 Gift Guide: The Ultimate Collection Of All Eight Seasons Of Showtime’s Award-Winning Original Series, Weeds, Starring Mary-Louise Parker Arrives On Blu-ray Disc November 5 From Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Showtime’s smoking hot hit is back with Weeds: The Complete Collection, arriving on Blu-ray Disc (plus Digital HD Ultraviolet) November 5 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. When Nancy Botwin (Parker) faces both sudden widowhood and poverty, she’s determined to do anything to keep her kids in suburbia — including taking on the job of neighborhood pot dealer. Subversive and hilarious, the complete series is as intoxicating as ever, with everyone’s favorite pot-selling soccer mom and the rest of the Botwin clan dealing with the mafia, love affairs, the birth of an illegitimate child and relocation after relocation. Watch as the Botwins’ plans go up in smoke!


Including seasons one through eight of the popular cable series, the limited edition Blu-ray collection is a must-have for fans and features 16 discs in a special “glowing” acrylic case package along with all-new bonus content featuring Mary-Louise Parker. Headlined by Parker (Red 2) in her Golden Globe® winning role, Weeds also features a hilarious ensemble cast including Hunter Parrish (It’s Complicated), Alexander Gould (Finding Nemo), Justin Kirk (TV’s “Animal Practice”) and Kevin Nealon (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”). In addition, the series boasts strong turns from Elizabeth Perkins (Big), Albert Brooks (Drive, Broadcast News), Demian Bechir (A Better Life, TV’s “The Bridge”) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding, TV’s “Revenge”) along with celebrated guest stars including singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, Mary-Kate Olsen (Beastly), Michelle Trachtenberg (TV’s “Gossip Girl”) and Zooey Deschanel (TV’s “New Girl”). During its final season, the series lit up the ratings, averaging 3.2 million viewers an episode across all platforms. Continue reading

The Joule Dallas Hotel Nears Completion of Renovation and Announces New Rooms and Expanded Event Space



The Joule Dallas Hotel ( is nearing the completion of its two-year, $78 million renovation and expansion of five interconnected downtown Dallas buildings. The Joule, named for the international unit of energy, occupies a revitalized 1920’s neo-gothic landmark building on Main Street. A visual masterpiece from award-winning designer Adam D. Tihany, the hotel is filled with thoughtful architectural details, rich furnishings and original artwork from Andy Warhol, Tony Cragg, Adam Fuss, Richard Phillips and more.

Ballroom at The Joule Hotel and Shops, Dallas. Credit: Eric Laignel.  (PRNewsFoto/The Joule)

Ballroom at The Joule Hotel and Shops, Dallas. Credit: Eric Laignel. (PRNewsFoto/The Joule)

The Joule is an artfully-delivered experience in an iconic setting, infused with energy, style and passion. Set in the heart of a burgeoning downtown — adjacent to the flagship Neiman Marcus and within walking distance of the internationally acclaimed Dallas Arts District — the hotel boasts a supreme location and a vast art collection.

Tihany’s contribution to the recent expansion of The Joule builds on a sensuous hospitality experience, informed by Texan culture and a vibrant downtown energy. The vision for the 32 additional guestrooms in the second tower follows his original hotel inspiration — Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth — and retains the luxurious and modern feel of the 129 rooms in the first tower, bringing the total to 161 guestrooms. In addition to the new 21 Premier Guestrooms and eight Deluxe Suites, three ultra-luxe penthouse units have been created for the most discerning of guests. Two of the penthouses are multi-level, each with a private terrace, and the third occupies an entire top floor, offering striking panoramic views of the city.

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In addition to the new guest rooms, spectacular penthouses and communal spaces, the property includes a cantilevered glass rooftop pool and a bespoke lobby environment. The hotel features many well-curated amenities such as a subterranean spa by ESPA, a TASCHEN Library and retail by TRAFFIC Los Angeles and TENOVERSIX.

The Joule has emerged as Dallas’ ideal location for corporate meetings, special events and weddings. The expansion almost tripled the hotel’s programmable meeting space to more than 14,000-square-feet with the addition of two new ballrooms, three additional meeting rooms, a pre-function area to the existing ballroom level and a rooftop terrace. The literal highpoint to the event space expansion is the rooftop Joule Terrace — a beautiful locale featuring a climate-controlled pavilion with a retractable roof, entry via majestic glass elevator shaft and amazing skyline views.

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, each meeting room allows for seamless integration of computer, video and audio equipment. Wireless high speed internet access, a state-of-the-art digital audio/visual system and touchscreen audio/visual controls ensure ease of use and streamlined design. From small board meetings to seated dinners for more than 300 guests, The Joule boasts the quintessential event space for the widest array of gatherings.

Executive Chef Justin Fields oversees the banquet division and takes great pride in carefully sourcing local ingredients to craft a multitude of delicious catering options. His menus feature consciously sourced farm-raised proteins and seasonal produce, mixed with almost anything one would request. Field and his team are committed to creating unforgettable events through creative exchange and collaboration.

For more information, please visit:

New Lease Amendment Signed by Metropolitan Museum of Art and City of New York, Confirming Longstanding Admissions Policy


The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that at the City’s request it has signed an amendment to its 1878 lease with the City of New York. The new amendment confirms and continues the 42-year-long agreement under which the Met and the City first established, and has since maintained, a discretionary admission policy for the institution.

In addition to confirming the existing admission policy first introduced in 1971, and regularly modified with the approval of City administrations in the years since, the new amendment authorizes the museum, should the need arise, to consider a range of admission modifications in future years, subject as in the past to review and approval by the City.

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According to the new lease terms:

The Museum may set the terms of admission to its permanent galleries to the general public, including admission fees and days and hours the Museum shall be open to the public, with the written consent of the Commissioner of the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.  In granting such consent the Commissioner shall consider the fiscal needs of the Museum in light of the Museum’s commitment to serving the public and the City’s monetary support. Admissions for special exhibitions, group tours, educational programs, performances, lectures, conferences, symposia, classes, and shows mounted in the Museum’s theater and event spaces may be charged such amounts as the Museum shall from time to time prescribe.

The new lease amendment acknowledges that by 1970, municipal funding, once the major source of revenue to operate the Metropolitan’s City-owned building, was “no longer sufficient to allow the Museum to operate without charging admission fees,” and formally reiterates that the Parks Department fully authorized the Museum to begin charging visitor fees in 1971, and that the City subsequently approved all modifications in writing.

It is important to make clear as we sign this amendment that we remain very much committed to maintaining—and further widening—public access to the Museum,” commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan.  “Toward this end, we recently expanded our hours by opening the Met seven days a week, and have enhanced programs designed to reach out to attract visitors from every community of the City.  The effort to broaden and diversify audiences will continue.  At the same time, however, faced with perennial uncertainties about future funding sources, the Met and the City concluded that it makes sense now to consecrate our longstanding and wholly legal admissions policies.”

The continued generosity of our visitors under pay-what-you-wish remains crucial to our ability to build and maintain the Met’s encyclopedic collections and magnificent galleries, and to present special exhibitions and public programs at no additional cost to visitors who enter the building,” Mr. Campbell added. “When the policy was first introduced, the Met was a 750,000-foot-square museum attracting a million visitors a year.  The building is now more than twice the size and commensurately more expensive to maintain and secure for its more than six million annual visitors.  The quantity and quality of service provided by the Museum makes the preservation of its varied income streams more important than ever.

We are extremely grateful that the City, which has long provided essential operating support to the Met, has moved now to reaffirm a policy that not only allows visitors to pay what they wish at the door, but has encouraged us to offer same-week entrance at no additional cost to the Cloisters museum and gardens in Fort Tryon Park, and has enabled us to provide free-with-admission access to all special exhibitions, as well as cost-free gallery tours, curatorial lectures, library access, and visits by New York City school groups.  We expect and trust that the museum and the City will continue to work cooperatively into the future to preserve full access to the Met under the generous admissions policies so wisely created in the past.”


London’s New Artistry Youth Dance Company to Promote Diversity in Dance by Encouraging Young Londoners of African and Caribbean Descent to Achieve Success in Dance


Artistry Youth Dance ( has launched London’s first youth dance company to teach jazz, contemporary dance and Horton technique to young people of African and Caribbean descent. Artistry Youth Dance is a vibrant youth dance company for aspiring performers of African and Caribbean descent, aged 14-19 years. With a focus on jazz and contemporary dance, the company aim to provide training and performance opportunities for its Company members, showcasing their talents and celebrating their artistry. It is hoped that through Artistry Youth Dance, the students will develop their dance and performance techniques, enabling them to go on to further training in the arts and a career in dance. The company also supports the dancers to develop a range of life skills that can be applied to any career they choose to pursue. Aspiring dancers can audition for the company’s next intake here:

The dancers in action: Artistry Youth Dance to Promote Diversity in Dance by Encouraging Young Londoners of African and Caribbean Descent to Achieve Success in Dance

The dancers in action: Artistry Youth Dance to Promote Diversity in Dance by Encouraging Young Londoners of African and Caribbean Descent to Achieve Success in Dance

The not-for-profit organization, launched in April of this year, aims to cultivate a more culturally diverse representation of dancers within the industry by showcasing talented young dancers of African and Caribbean descent. Teaching ballet as well as workshops in a variety of other dance styles including hip-hop and musical theatre, the company supports young people to realize their talents in dance and creates pathways for further education in the Arts. Having accepted its first intake of 10 students (aged 14-19); Artistry Youth Dance is now looking to progress towards its first performances later this year.

Kamara Gray, Artistic Director of Artistry Youth Dance, financed the launch entirely herself. Gray said: “That’s how much I believe in it! It is a fantastic opportunity for the young people involved to learn a variety of techniques and skills from first-rate teachers, as well as improving their all-round strength and flexibility. We aim to help our dancers become strong, confident and versatile individuals, both on and off the stage.” She added: “I have always wanted to be able to give something back to young dancers, particularly those from the African and Caribbean communities.”

The dancers in class: Artistry Youth Dance to Promote Diversity in Dance by Encouraging Young Londoners of African and Caribbean Descent to Achieve Success in Dance

The dancers in class: Artistry Youth Dance to Promote Diversity in Dance by Encouraging Young Londoners of African and Caribbean Descent to Achieve Success in Dance

Kamara Gray is an experienced dance teacher and performer of Jamaican heritage who has taught extensively in the UK, Australia and Kuwait. She was born in Papua New Guinea and grew up in Sydney, where she began studying dance at age four. Kamara continued her dance training at the Ailey School in New York and Dance World 301 in Melbourne. As a performer, her credits include film, television, and live events, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony as a Lead Tap dancer, the MTV Europe Awards, and L’Heure Espagnole with the Royal Opera.

Artistry Youth Dance is particularly excited to bring the Horton technique – a blend of ballet, Native American folk dance, Japanese arm gestures, and Caribbean, Javanese, and Balinese techniques – to London youth. “All of our teachers are highly experienced and have trained at the Ailey School in New York,” says Gray. “We are the only youth dance company in London to teach Horton technique, so this is a wonderful opportunity for young dancers.”


Kamara Gray

Artistic Director, Artistry Youth Dance |

CONTACT: Mobile: +44(0)794-6678-419

Montblanc & Josh Lucas Celebrate Madison Avenue Boutique Opening

On October 23, 2013, Montblanc and Co-Host, actor Josh Lucas, celebrated the opening of its newest boutique located on Madison Avenue. Montblanc Chief Executive Officer, Jerome Lambert and Montblanc North America President & CEO, Jan-Patrick Schmitz unveiled the luxury maison Montblanc boutique located in the heart of mid-town New York City. Special guests in attendance included Olivia Munn, Anthony Mackie, Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl, Karlie Kloss and Topaz Page-Green.

Montblanc Boutique on Madison Avenue (Photo Credit: C. Mioses de Pena)

Montblanc Boutique on Madison Avenue (Photo Credit: C. Mioses de Pena)

Known for its commitment to the highest standards of European craftsmanship, the new boutique boasted the very latest collections of exquisite timepieces, innovative writing instruments, fine jewellery for men and women, and artisanal leather goods.

Expansive exterior floor to ceiling windows displayed the latest offerings from the luxury brand. Loyal customers and global travelers alike experienced the iconic Montblanc star, which ushered them into the contemporary 3,200 square foot store with beautiful Swarovski crystal curved glass floating chandeliers and a private client room for product viewings.

The interior of the store reflected Montblanc’s heritage- the celebration of the written word. With a wall dedicated to the largest collection of limited edition writing instruments in North America, enthusiastic connoisseurs had the opportunity to see unique pieces ranging from the annual Writers Edition to Patron of Arts and the exceptionally rare pieces that are the specialty of the Artisan Atelier. Additionally, the cultivation of writing was further reinforced by two large writing desks – two retreats that stood ready to welcome every guest to the store. Continue reading

Larry Kramer honored by PEN, HBO at 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony

On Monday, October 21, PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s leading literary and human rights organization, celebrated its 2013 Literary awards at the Proshansky Auditorium of CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. “I’ve seen a common thread tonight that writing should be more than just art but activism,” Master of Ceremonies Andy Borowitz said of the evening. “And I am taking that all as a personal attack on me.”

PEN President Peter Godwin, Executive Director of PEN Suzanne Nossel, Mark Ruffalo, Len Amato, and Larry Kramer. Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan.  (PRNewsFoto/PEN American Center, Inc)

PEN President Peter Godwin, Executive Director of PEN Suzanne Nossel, Mark Ruffalo, Len Amato, and Larry Kramer. Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan. (PRNewsFoto/PEN American Center, Inc)

Borowitz’s remarks summed up an evening of literary camaraderie, activism, and humor that characterized the ceremony and its honorees. For more than 50 years, the PEN Literary awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across such diverse fields as fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, and drama. This year’s awards ceremony captured PEN’s dual mission to advance literature and defend freedom of expression by celebrating the activist writer, most notably with Larry Kramer, but also with writers like Sergio De La Pava, Gina Apostol, Kevin Young, Kirsten Greenidge,Tom Reiss and others whose work illustrate honest accounts of people, cultures, and issues on the fringe, embodying themes central to the fight for individual rights and freedoms.

Executive Director Suzanne Nossel acknowledged this activism in her remarks for the evening, saying, “For the writers of PEN, the defense of free expression and human rights is not a task but an inspiration. It’s no coincidence that many of the writers whose inspiration we celebrate tonight tell stories that–in ways both overt
and subtle–probe the abuse of power and abuse of rights, whether the political or the personal. By appreciating them, we remember what’s ultimately at stake in the fight for free expression

With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN conferred 16 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers, editors, and translators. Presenters Morgan Entrekin, Kimiko Hahn, Dinaw Mengestu, and Minna Proctor introduced the winners.

Actor Mark Ruffalo presented the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Master American Dramatist to Larry Kramer, addressing Kramer’s activism as much as his literary talent. “Kramer’s fearless work obscures the boundaries between the personal and the political,” he said. “He has worked to bring a crucial awareness to the fight against HIV/AIDS even in the face of censorship and condemnation by his peers.” On behalf of PEN, Ruffalo presented Kramer with a limited first edition of Eugene O’Neill’s Collected Early Plays, signed by the renowned playwright.

Theatre is too small,” Kramer pronounced over the attentive audience, after receiving a standing ovation. “We have to think bigger as writers. We have to try and change the world.” Additional quotes from winners and presenters are available upon request.

After the ceremony, the winners and guests, including PEN President Peter Godwin, Literary Awards Committee Chair Alice Quinn, Executive Director Suzanne Nossel, Joanna Coles, Barbara Goldsmith, Frank and Carol Deford, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, Angela Tarantino, Len Amanto, Dante Di Loreto, Kathleen Beckett, Ben McGrath, and more continued to celebrate over cocktails and crudites at the reception that immediately followed.

The awards were also made possible through the generous contributions made by CUNY, for donating their Graduate Center Auditorium, all of the judges who donated their time and energy choosing the winners, and the generous support of PEN’s many donors:, Kathleen Beckett and Steven Kroll, the family of Robert W. Bingham, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, ESPN, Harrison Ford, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Kaplen Foundation, the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, Phyllis Naylor, The Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater, the Estate of Rochelle Ratner, Dr. Edward O. Wilson and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, Gerald Weales, and Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Rodman L. Drake.