Love and Other Countries

Available on Amazon

Love and other countries is a romantic collection of five short stories. Each story focuses on finding love in unique ways. Take the journey to discover love with Summer, Chandy, Natalie, Tandy, and Sadie, as they travel through cultures and cities.

The delight of Caribbean culture, farmers markets, and music festivals spice up as they entangle with men of other countries. Enjoy the rain and the sunshine that all encompasses the ins and outs of true love.

Fashion on a Budget

Bookies want to look cute too…lol

I remember when I was a poor little girl in Orangeburg. The only places we had to shop at were Roses and Kmart. I used to read fashion magazines and imagine the clothes I wanted to wear. My favorites were Delia’s and Teen Vogue. Clueless and Boomerang were my favorite movies, and I wanted to look just like them. I vowed to myself that when I grew up, I would get a “good job” and buy all the clothes I wanted. Well, I got a decent career/job…lol…but I definitely have to stay on a budget. Mostly, because I spend all of my money traveling (see previous blogs). But, I digress. 

So, to stay on a budget, there are a few shops that I stick with for all of my fashion desires. The prices of each item usually ranges from $5 to $20. Occasionally, I’ll splurge, but not too often. Also, shipping varies. If you spend over a certain dollar amount, shipping is sometimes free. I have Amazon Prime, so those items come within 1 to 2 days and have free shipping. Rainbow usually ships within a few days. The other sites are shipping from China, so it takes 7 to 10 days. Lastly, I mostly shop online. I hate fighting with people in physical stores. Here are some of my favorite looks!

For more looks, check out my TikTok….

Shein
Boohoo
Lulu
Rainbow
Amazon

What’s your favorite budget clothing brand?

Country Style Grill Off

Each year, Art Fennell hosts a grill off in Blenheim/ Bennettsville, South Carolina. Grill masters from all over come to showcase their best ribs and wings. We sampled food from Charlotte, all the way down to Georgia. Grill masters are judged on presentation and taste.

I was so excited to see some of my favorite grill masters. We saw CJ, from my hometown Charlotte. His ribs were so good! We also ran into Gissum, the Dragon, Den Fen, and Bimyah. Gissum’s tent was the most lit. He had a DJ and his line was wrapped around the tent.

There were thousands of people there this year. Thankfully, it didn’t rain like it did last year. If you decide to go next year, make sure to bring chairs, a tent/canopy, an umbrella, bug spray, sunscreen, shades, a large hat, and a cooler full of drinks. It gets really hot out there. There were other vendors out there besides the grill masters also. There were dessert stands, a bar (adult drinks), home decor, and laundry items.

Overall, the event was lit. There are only a few suggestions I’d like to offer. They may need to host at a fairground to help with parking and congestion. Also, there should be separate areas for the tents apart from the cars. Adding more restrooms would be ideal too. But, I would highly suggest visiting. It felt like a large family reunion.

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Philly: Roots Picnic

I’m typing this sad and exhausted, but I wanted you guys to hear about my wonderful weekend before the details got blurry on me. At this point, many things are blurry…lol. So, this review is part Philly and part Roots Picnic. Both deserve a deeper dive, but I don’t have it in me. And, be sure to follow me on TikTok.

When I initially told friends that I was going to Philly for the Roots Picnic, I was met with much criticism. Many were concerned about my safety. Which is valid. And, yes, there was a massive shooting while I was there. I was not in the area, and I’m so glad I wasn’t. Based on our talks with the Uber drivers, many are emotionally damaged from the increase in violence. One even compared it to Chicago. And, FYI, if you use an Uber or Lyft while you’re traveling, please be nice to your drivers. Our first driver, Maria, was literally shaken by the time she picked us up due to her previous ride. She thanked us for listening to her vent, and said that our presence helped her make it through the night. We got you boo!

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The one thing I always wanted to see in Philly was the guys who ride ATVs down the street like in the DMX video. Guess what! I saw them, but couldn’t get my phone out fast enough to record it.

Now, we stayed at Club Quarters hotel on Chestnut street. It’s the perfect location. Also, from the airport, you can catch a train that goes straight to the hotel. You’ll get off at the Suburban station. Make sure to keep your ticket, so you can get out of the train station. From the airport, the ticket was only like six bucks, versus the Uber is around $30. The only complaint I had about the hotel was the thin walls. You can hear everything someone says and do.

The Roots Picnic was created a few years about by the Roots crew and has crowds that range up to 60,000 people. The festival used to be a one day event, now it’s two days. I’m glad I was one in the number. The acts included Rick Ross, Keshia Cole, Jazmine Sullivan, Mary J. Blige, and Summer Walker. The second day’s lineup wasn’t as good as the first day. There was also a DJ stage and a Podcast stage. The DJ was lit. It literally felt like a club. The podcast Whoreable Decisions were there and they did not disappoint. Overall, they did a great job with organization. However, they needed to try harder with sound production. If you were at the back, you could barely hear the backup singers. Many of the performers were not on time, but we sang and danced all night anyway. I only saw like two guys in hoochie daddy shorts, so that was disappointing.

If you’ve seen the movie, “Urban Cowboys,” you’ll know how excited I was to see them waiting outside of the festival. It’s real, and I’m so proud of them. Most of the riders were between 12 and 15 years old. Even though we didn’t ride, we donated. They deserve it!

If you trust it, there were some guys grilling and selling plates outside of festival. It smelled really good, but I gotta be careful with what I eat.

If you decide to attend a music festival, there are a few things you should know:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Wipes (bc sometimes they run out of tissue in the port o potties)
  4. Bug spray
  5. Umbrella (or the fake one for alcohol)
  6. Blanket (it’s a legit picnic)
  7. Ibuprofen/ stomach meds
  8. Hand sanitizer
  9. Lip gloss/ Chapstick
  10. Clear Bag
  11. Fanny pack
  12. Portable charger/chord

There are tons of things to do in Philly. I didn’t get to do them all, but I made you a list! You’re welcome.

  1. Cafe La Maude
  2. El Vez
  3. Harper’s Garden
  4. Green Egg
  5. Random Tea Room
  6. Harriet’s Bookstore (black owned)
  7. City Planter (plant store)
  8. Farmer’s Market at Rittenhouse Square

For more things to do, visit here.

Pardon me as I cry looking through these pics…

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South Beach

Itinerary

I’ve been to Miami several times, but this is my first time taking the kids. Therefore, I had to do a ton of research for kid friendly things to do. We went down for spring break. Many of my options were inspired by Mom Trotter. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted, so we’ll definitely have to come back. I hope you enjoy.

Day 1:

Flight: Spirit $200 roundtrip for all three of us 🥰

Rental Car: Thrifty at the airport

Hotel: Claremont (in the heart of Collins Ave. Walkable to everything)

Lunch- Le Chick

Wynwood Walls art tour

Dessert- Italian Trattoria

Day 2 :

Wilde on the Porch-breakfast

beach

pool

South Beach Botanical Garden (free)

Catalina- lunch

Day 3:

Duck tour: explore the city and the water. It drives on both!

Lobster Shack- lunch

Seaquarium

pool

Taco Taco- dinner

Other Ideas:

Museum of Illusions

Versace Mansion

World Famous House of Mac n Cheese

Gator Tour/ Everglades

The Children’s Museum

Fun Dimension

Aqueous Zoo

Miami Farmhouse

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Where should we go next??

Dreamville Festival

Raleigh, NC

Synopsis: The second annual Dreamville Festival will once again provide a thoughtfully-curated, multi-stage music event from J. Cole, who himself was raised in nearby Fayetteville, North Carolina. The festival offers an opportunity for J. Cole to give back to his home state that has helped shape the artist he has become with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art that also features a curated selection of music performers blending together some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers. Check the festival out here.

The festival, takes place in Raleigh, NC, and was super organized. All of the acts actually showed up. Although, Moneybagg Yo only performed for about 7 minutes He was the biggest disappointed of the weekend. But, T-Pain, Ari Lennox, and J. Cole definitely made up for the lack. I found a new love for Bas and the Dreamville crew.

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We bought the shuttle pass to avoid nightmare parking or walking. The shuttle picks you up at Moore Square and drops you off right at the entrance. The shuttles we’re school buses..lol. It felt like we were going on a field trip. Although the shuttle line initially looked crazy long, it isn’t. He had so many buses that we were out of there as soon as we walked up. Uber/Lyft isn’t super reliable after the festival, fyi.

Being that it is April, I was concerned about the weather. Surprisingly, it was nice. The day was warm, but it got very chilly at night. Thankfully, I brought a blanket. At the festival, there are a plethora of bars, food stands, and restrooms. They even have lockers, so you can lock your stuff up. Portable chargers are also available for a fee. So, you don’t worry about anything.

If you decide to come to the festival, make sure to check out the J. Cole murals in the area!

University Hills, Durham

Near Pit BBQ Raleigh

Raleigh- Durham Area

Which music festival should I check out next?

Afro Nation Puerto Rico

Afro Nation is a traveling Afro beats music festival that takes place annually. The festivals stops in Las Vegas, Portugal, and Puerto Rico. I obviously chose Puerto Rico because it’s so close and I liked the line up better. Perhaps one day, I’ll venture to Portugal. I just hate flights over 4 hours. Any tips for that??

Any who, the festival took place March 24- 26 and was supposed to include artists like Burna Boy, Shenseea, Wizkid, and Tems. Disappointed! The festival team does a great job of being organized on the front end, but dropped the ball the day of. We bought our tickets in the Fall and had been getting weekly emails about things we should do or bring. But, by the time we got there, 7 artists had already dropped out. Burna Boy was replaced with Rick Ross. I love him, but this was not the appropriate show. The festival was definitely giving Fyre Festival vibes. Now, I know the weather was not their fault, but it didn’t help. Because of the rain, we left early the first two nights.

Our saving grace in the rain

Once you get closer to the festival, you should download the Festicket app. The app will allow you to add money to your wristband and serves as your ticket into the festival. Everything at the festival is cashless. So, you can either load your money for drinks, food, and merchandise onto your wristband online, through the app, or at one of the loading stations in the park.

The last night of the festival was the best. The artists actually showed up and the performances were lit. And, the weather was perfect. Meg was my favorite!

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I stayed at Nest Hotel. If you’re on a budget, have at it. As for me and my bougie taste, it’s a no. The location is kinda hood, and is way too far from the festival. The cleanliness was not there and the rooms are tiny. You can tell they tried with the main area decor, but it’s a no for me dawg. But this was my fault. I booked my hotel at the last minute, so the good places were sold out.

As you know, I love attending music festivals. This one definitely ranks lower than Essence, Soul Beach, and Memphis in May. I hope they learn from their mistakes and improve. In the future, I may try their Vegas one. Hopefully, Dreamville doesn’t disappointed next week.

Enjoy the gallery below 🙂

Carolina, PR

March 2022

Nest Hotel

Fitness for Life

My name is Shana and I have a problem.

Yes, it’s another fitness post…lol. I am totally into fitness, so I constantly find new programs and classes to keep me on my toes. I’ve written about a few programs in the past, but by far, this is the best one!

Now, I won’t tell all the details because I don’t want any legal issues. But, what I will say is, this program incorporates nutrition, exercise, and inspiration. I say nutrition instead of diet because there’s so much thought that goes into their meal plans. 

The program is $40 a week, for 8 weeks (as of March 2022). You have to wait for the new round to open before joining. I joined during the round that started January 3rd. After the 8 weeks are up, you can stay in the program for FREE for LIFE! That’s an amazing deal!

Once you join on the website, you’ll be directed to join their Facebook group. When I tell you this is the most positive, inspirational group I’ve ever been in. I’m not kidding. The founder, Jeff, and his team does lives on FB and spills the tea on how to live your best life. He also only encourages positive behavior in the group, which is why it’s so awesome.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or if you have health issues like diabetes, he also has micro groups where you can do the plan with assistance. He and the coaches are always on standby to help you with any questions you have. The program incorporates intermittent fasting, drinking tons of water, and eating meat and veggies!

As for me and my fitness, I’ll be sticking to this program. I’m down 15 pounds this round and I plan to do future rounds. If you’d like an accountability group, here’s how to sign up with me! Any who, here are my results:

Dominican Republic: Welcome Family

Cartagena, Colombia
Miami, Florida
Charlotte, NC

Come with me, and you’ll see a beautiful world of imagination…on a budget! (In my Willy Wonka voice)

As most of you know, I travel every year for my birthday. I’ve been to ATL, Colombia, Miami, etc. This year, I chose Dominican Republic. We stayed in Punta Cana. 

My best friend that I use to book my trips is Expedia. I understand some ppl don’t love them as much as I do, but we’ve been partners a long time. Booking with them, my flight and hotel fell under $1200 for this trip!

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I booked this trip probably 3 months in advanced. My cuzzo joined me on the trip. I found my airport transfer on FB, of all places. Great company, great price. If you come here, go with Punta Cana Transportation. Please book your transportation before coming. The taxi drivers at the airport are aggy AF. Plus, you’ll get a better deal.

Spending my days..

We stayed at Ocean Sand and Beach Resort, an all inclusive. A gem! Somehow, I managed to book the ‘Privilege’ suite, by accident. By booking this package, you’ll get a two story suite. There were two fluffy robes waiting as I entered the room. It has a large king bed with a beautiful walk-in shower. The room overlooks the ocean and the pool. You have an upstairs that has a lounge area, jacuzzi, large balcony and outdoor shower. Next door, you have access to a specific restaurant that only privileged members can eat at. You also have access to a personal butler, full snack bar with alcohol(free), and free cabana on the beach. You’ll get 10% off at the spa too. Don’t bother booking excursions early. Your butler will help you book on site. Different options include horseback riding, ATV tours, a party on the catamaran, and a diving package. We chose the party catamaran!

My first day, I decided to do a flying dress photoshoot. OMG! That’s harder than it looks. The wind down here is insane and that dress almost flew me like a kite. The photographer had a partner to help me stay situated on the beach with this humongous, red, gorgeous dress. You know red is my favorite color. The shoot took nearly 2 hours; home girl was very professional and I highly recommend them. Visit them here. I’ll post the pics on my IG when they are back from editing. Make sure to follow me below.

The next day, we took an excursion on a catamaran to La Isla Saona through IRB Turismo. The island is gorgeous. However, it’s not as nice as the private island in Belize (Mahogany Bay Resort). The transitions to get there wore me out, but it was worth it. So, the bus picks you up at your hotel and then picks up others at their hotels too. Then, they go to another meeting point to pick up more guests, plus your photographer and tour guide. From there, you take a 30 to 45 minute drive to the boat docks. There are millions of buses and tours going on, so please pay attention to who your tour guide is. Ours was Papa Jose’ and he was dope! 

We got on our party boat (catamaran) and cruised to the island. The ride took an hour or so. On the boat, you can sit or lounge anywhere. It’s early enough where the sun won’t burn your skin if you lay out. They have drinks and dancing the entire time. Surprisingly, the captains of all the boats were very young, like early 20s. The photographer randomly captures photos on the ride, on the beach, and on the way back. You get all of your pics for a very reasonable price. And the pictures are absolutely beautiful. On the island, they have a lunch buffet and unlimited rum and coke. They also have soda and water if you’d like. At the moment, I didn’t want water…lol. In my usual life, I drink a gallon of water per day. Honestly, I’d pack snacks too if you’re as greedy as me. The food wasn’t enough for me. You can lounge on the beach or play in the water. There’s nothing else to do. In Belize, they had paddle boards and over-water cabanas you could rent. Lastly, the bathrooms are glorified port-o-johns. So, don’t set the expectations too high.

On my last day, I had just enough time to get my massage in. Check-out is at noon, so I took advantage of it. Make sure you book early enough because they operate on island time. My appointment was for 9, and I wasn’t seen until 9:30. Then, I had to get my vid test. Results come back in an hour to your email address. You’ll need it to get back to the US.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my quick getaway. One thing about me, I hate long vacations. I try to take a small vacation every month. I can’t stay away from my house for more than 4 to 5 days. I’m weird, I know. Maybe one day I can work my way up to a week or so. One thing that shocked me was the number of European guests that were there. There were so many languages being spoken all around me. I’d definitely rate DR a 4 out of 5. Of all the Caribbean places I’ve visited, Aruba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico are my favorite. DR and Belize would be second in rank. This summer, I plan to put together a trip to El Salvador and Costa Rica. Let me know if you want to go!