Adventures in the Spice Isle

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic start to the week. I am trying to get back in the swing of reality after being on vacation for 7 wonderful days in the Spice Isle aka Grenada. For those of you that don’t know my dad was born in Trinidad but was raised in Grenada. Some of you may be wondering where exactly is Grenada?

Jordy B and I at Belmont Estate

Grenada is located in the West Indies and is northwest of Trinidad and northeast of Venezuela. It’s not one of the more well known Caribbean islands which makes it exclusive and expensive to travel to. Grenada is known for exporting nutmeg, bananas and cocoa. It has become increasingly more popular since the last time I visited over twenty years ago.

Maurice Bishop Airport, St. George, Grenada

Last year, I attempted to organize a family reunion for my dad’s family which was to be held this summer in Grenada. When I didn’t receive much buy in or participation from other family members, my mom and I decided to plan a trip there anyway. Of course I planned to take Jordy B with us for her first international trip so I had to get my mind right to take her out of her normal habitat into a place that was totally different from what she was used to.

I began planning month’s in advance to make sure she would be as comfortable as possible. I also wanted to make sure she wouldn’t tap dance on my last nerve while I was on vacation. But that’s for another blog post.

Jordy B and I headed to Grenada from Miami

When we arrived we were picked up by my Aunt and Uncle and the weather was hot and humid similar to the weather in Texas. The difference there was even when you got in an air conditioned area it still didn’t feel like you were cooling off. But I knew that before going so I was prepared to sweat and take two showers a day. The first day we briefly toured St. George’s University, settled into our apartment and went to dinner with my cousin at a restaurant on Grand Anse beach called Umbrellas.

The food was delicious and they even had a band that played cover songs. On our first full day we went into town in St. George’s and visited the Spice Market which is where people go to buy fresh ingredients, vegetables and other items they use daily. We also visited the Esplanade mall and went to Diamond Chocolate Factory where they make Jouvay Chocolate to take a tour and taste some chocolate. Mmhmmm!

St. George’s Spice Market
The Esplanade Mall
Diamond Chocolate Factory

On our second full day, we spent time with family who took us to sightseeing at Annandale Waterfalls and Grand Etang Lake. While we were traveling on the roads of Grenada which were narrow and winding, I was overcome with motion sickness. So I opened the window and put my head back to take a nap. Here’s a tip, stick matches in your ears if you experience motion sickness. When I woke up we were at my aunt and uncle’s house to have Sunday dinner and I felt better.

Me at Annandale Falls
The view from the overlook at Grand Etang
Grand Etang Lake
House at Grand Etang where one of my aunt’s married her husband over 40 years ago

On our third day, we went to Grand Anse beach which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and I must agree it was picturesque!

The view from Grand Anse beach
Jordy B’s first time at the beach

We also had lunch with my aunt which consisted of Grenada’s national dish, Oil down. Oil down, is a pot of full of dumplings, carrots, pumpkin, breadfruit, callaloo, curry, other spices and any meat you would like to cook with it. I had oil down with chicken. My mom had some with crab. We both thought it was delicious and even Jordy B ate breadfruit which was something other than french fries which she had everyday while we were away.

That evening we met up with my cousin Rachael and her family. We tried to walk to the grocery store but found out it closed early. So we proceeded to walk on the beach and went to Umbrellas for dinner, again. Yes that place is that good!

On our fourth day, we planned to go to the beach but it rained most of the day so we relaxed, went to the grocery store and that evening, I went to Club Bananas with my cousins. Tuesday night at Club Bananas is called twofers because you can purchase two drinks for the price of one from 10 pm to 2 am. So you know we had a good time. The libations were flowing, the music was playing and the people were dancing. We walked back to my apartment at 3:30 AM and was up by 7 AM to enjoy our last few days.

When Cousins unite!
When Cousins unite!

On Day 5, we went to BBC beach. BBC beach is just as beautiful as Grand Anse but it’s secluded and the water was calmer which was better for Jordy B. After some coercion we even got her to get in the water. We spent a few hours there and had to pry Jordy B out of the water in order to leave. She was so tired after a beach day she slept for about three hours.

Day 6 was filled with an excursion to Belmont Estate. Belmont Estate is a plantation which offers tours to their organic farm, gardens, museum and cocoa processing facility. They also offer a 3 course lunch featuring Grenadian cuisine. One can also have their wedding and other events on the property. When you go to Grenada, this place is a must see. You’ll thank me later.

After lunch we went to Grenville in St. Andrew’s parish to visit with family and that evening we had dinner and drinks at the West Indies Beer Co. O yea, I also went to Lavo lanes and got my butt beat in bowling by my younger cousin who only bowled twice in her life.

All in all, our visit to Grenada was one of the most memorable vacations I’ve had ever. I hope this motivates you to want to visit this Caribbean Gem and when you do, please feel free to share your experience with me. Until next time…

Belmont Estate
The beer flights we demolished
Jordy B and I at the West Indies Beer Co.
West Indies Beer Co.
My favorite drink in Grenada, Lavo Lanes
Sunset from my Aunt and Uncle’s veranda (disregard my hair)

Essencefest and 10 things you need to know

Hey Everyone! I hope you enjoyed your weekend and you’re off to a great work week. I had the time of my life this past weekend in NOLA at the 25th Anniversary of the Essence festival. I had the pleasure of going with a group of ladies who were there for the first time also so none of us knew what to expect. It also helps when you go with patient, easy going, like minded people who go with the flow and believe in compromise.

The crew

While I was there I learned that not everyone in New Orleans go to partake in Essencefest activities. Some people go to attend other events like brunches, luncheons, day parties, night parties, you name it they had it. Along with the events came the heat and humidity. It was like a sauna out there with temps in the mid 90’s. I know what you’re thinking I should be use to that because I live in Houston. Well I’m not because I don’t do half as much walking here that I did there. On the first day I walked 19,000 plus steps. Where they do that at? But I digress….

My friends and I went to the convention center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to see the celebrities, get some freebies from sponsors and check out the vendors. We also went to the concerts on the Main stage at the Convention Center on Friday and Saturday where we saw Estelle and friends which included a whole Soca and Reggae set, RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike of New Edition), Missy Elliot, Monica, my forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama interviewed by Gayle King, Lil Kim and Mary J. Blige.

Aisha and I at the Missy Elliott concert
Mary J. Blige

The first concert was very unorganized, had long intermission breaks which included commercials and Loni Love who wasn’t the best host. She usually is very entertaining but she didn’t transition well when introducing each segment and she wasn’t able to stall and capture the audiences attention when Missy Elliot didn’t come on at the time she was suppose to. So they eventually had DJ D-Nice play music to get the crowd hype instead.

Overall, my first experience was Phenomenal! However, here are a few quick tips I wanted to share with you about Essencefest.

10. Just because neon green is the color for the summer and they make it in your size doesn’t mean you should buy it or wear it. I saw more hot mess lime green outfits than I care to see for the rest of my life.

When neon green goes wrong

9. This one is for the ladies. Wear a bra, preferably the right size bra. I saw more areolas than a Radiologist technician who does Mammograms on a daily basis. Please keep your areolas to yourself and those who want to see them.

8. Wear deodorant daily. Nobody wants to smell you on a hot summer day.

7. Wear comfortable shoes. It’s nothing like seeing women after a concert walking on the dirty floor or the nasty streets with no shoes on their feet.

6. If you see a celebrity don’t expect them to take a picture with you. They’re human and sometimes don’t want to be bumrushed. Talk to them and humbly ask them to take a picture with them. And if they say No, don’t get mad. Wish them well and go about your business.

Ava DuVernay, Niecey Nash and I

5. Don’t overbook yourself with things to do when you go to Essencefest. Just make a few plans, be flexible and open to do different things within reason.

4. Take enough money because you never know what merchandise you may want to purchase, food and drinks you want to consume or events you may want to attend.

Enjoying a Cocktail at Willie’s

3. Go with people who share the same interests as you to avoid conflict and issues.

2. Pack your patience. Every line, every where was looonnngggg!!

1. Enjoy yourself and make memories. Memories are PRICELESS and can never be taken away from you like material things.

If you keep these quick tips in mind you too can have an Epic experience next year at Essence festival. Until next time….

The crew with Lisa Wu

SA Weekend Getaway

Hey Friends!

Hope you’re off to a great week. This past weekend the family went to San Antonio, Texas to celebrate Grandma B’s birthday and we had a good time together. We headed out on I-10 West to San Antonio around 3 PM and it took us about four hours to get there due to traffic. When we arrived we checked in to our hotel and made our way to the San Antonio Riverwalk to get dinner.

We parked the car a little ways away and on our search to find someplace to eat we stumbled upon the Alamo.The Alamo is a Spanish mission and fortress compound where the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 took place. Now it’s a historic museum that we were unable to visit because it was closed. But we were able to capture this great picture below.

The Alamo

As we descended onto the Riverwalk, which was crowded the temperature was hot and humid and made you feel very sticky. The San Antonio Riverwalk is a tourist attraction which consists of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River one level beneath the streets of Downtown San Antonio. There are a variety of restaurants to dine at but I opted to eat at one that wasn’t the typical chain restaurant called Gourdough’s Public House.

San Antonio Riverwalk
Gourdough’s Public House

Gourdough’s is known for having donut burgers so of course I had to try one. I decided upon an El Camino which consisted of angus beef, topped with blue cheese dressing, chipotle mayo, chipotle cheese blend, bacon, tomato and cilantro. Either I was hungry or it was delicious. I paired it with some brussel sprouts and washed it down with a Hurricane.

El Camino

After dinner we walked a little and made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the day ahead at Sea World Texas. Overnight, it rained in San Antonio which allowed for an overcast and cooler temperatures on Saturday morning. I was excited because I just knew it would be to hot at SeaWorld. Boy was I wrong!

When Jordy B saw Zach Attack for the first time in three weeks

The temperature at SeaWorld was on 1000!! It was so darn hot out that my Dad who is from the Caribbean and never complains about the heat said in his Grenadian voice, “It’s too damn hot”. I chuckled so hard because it was so hot I was sweating in places I didn’t know sweat could accumulate.

We saw pink flamingos, alligators, sea turtles, dolphins, penguins, beluga whales and dolphins. I don’t know who was more excited about the animals me, Jordy B or Zach Attack. We stayed at SeaWorld for about 5 hours and I felt like it was an eternity but the time spent with my family was PRICELESS!

Paw Paw B, Grandma B, Jay B, Zach Attack and Jordy B
Jordy B and I looking at the Pink Flamingos
Jordy B and Paw Paw B looking at the Sea Turtles
One Ocean show at 3:15
Sea Turtles
Penguins
Alligators
Beluga Whale and Dolphins

By the time we got back to the hotel, we mustered up enough strength to go to dinner, shower and hit the bed. The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at Le Peep which was underwhelming and made our way back home. All in all, the weekend was a success because we made memories that will last us a lifetime! Until next time…..

Dear Mama

Hey Everyone!! Hope you’ve been doing better than me and Jordy B. We’re currently at the House of Refuge aka my parents house because Houston and it’s adjacent areas had heavy rainfall and scattered thunderstorms which caused some flooding. Not only was the weather bad but Jordy B was diagnosed with pneumonia the other day which I think was an upper respiratory infection but who am I. She also had hand, foot and mouth virus two weeks ago and a cold two weeks before that. And in the midst of that I had back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. But despite all of that, God is good and this weekend is Mother’s Day so I’m here for any gifts coming my way.

Let me stop to say Happy Mother’s day to all of the women who sacfriced, nurtured, cared for or provided love, kindness and generosity to their kids, kids of others, family members and their community. I want to say a special thank you to my Mom who is my biggest supporter and my second toughest critic. She is a voice of reason who challenges me and is one of the best grandma’s Jordy B could have asked for.

Now, she also has the tendency to tap dance on one of my last nerves like most mothers do. For example, when I ask her to babysit she says to me I have things to do and she gives me a hard time as if I’m trying to drop Jordy B off to never return. She gives me the third degree and is worse than day cares are when you pick up your child one minute late. And when I give her specific instructions while babysitting Jordy B she does the exact opposite. Good help is hard to find, lol.

When I told her I was pregnant, she told me she would be supportive but that was a half truth. Let me tell you why, I asked her if she could retire (again) from her part time job so she could take care of Jordy B and she told me, “No, I’m not that type of grandmother ” and she was unapologetic about it. She didn’t care who she told or how it sounded and she continues to work. She’ll probably retire when Jordy B starts school just to make sure she doesn’t get stuck with her.

On the other hand, when I need her to do something for me, she does it within reason and without hesitation. She picks up Jordy B from day care when I need her. Over the last few weeks, she’s watched Jordy B when she’s been sick so I wouldn’t have to take a significant amount of time off from work. She comes over to my house to help me when I ask her and she’s always up for an outing with me and Jordy B.

I also remember when I went to college and she worked two jobs so I can have some money in my pocket and so my brother could have all the things she wanted him to have. She was selfless and instilled in us values and beliefs that I will pass on to Jordy B.

So when she asked me to take some pictures for Mother’s day, I did what any good daughter would do. I asked her, “do we have to?” But then when she said it again, I booked the session and made it work. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her because she continues to go above and beyond for me and her family. So on this day, I want to wish her the best Mother’s day because she deserves to be celebrated every day for being the best Mommy (yes, I still call her that) a girl could have!

Check out the pics below from our photo session. Until next time…..

SRO at the HLSR

Hey everyone, I hope you enjoyed your weekend because let’s just say my friday evening was an adventure. Why you ask? Because I went to the Cardi B concert at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo (HLSR). I know what you’re thinking, that should have been good entertainment. And you are correct, it was good entertainment from what I saw of it on this monitor below.

Yes, I watched the 45 minute show on a TV screen in the SRO section. What’s SRO you ask? Well, it doesn’t stand for Single Room Occupancy it’s defined by Rodeo terms as Standing Room Only. I know, I know, I know why would you buy these tickets Tisha? Well they were $85 and I didn’t think I would literally be standing on the 100 level section of the hallway in the stadium. Not only did I have to stand in a particular section but they had the nerve to say it was first come first serve. Really tho? There was no rhyme or reason to these areas it was basically get in where you fit in. And that’s what we did.

One lady standing near us actually said she had front row seats by standing because she was able to see the performance better than the people in the stadium who had to look at the concert as the stage continously rotated 360 degrees in the stadium throughout the show. Well that’s one way to look at it lady? Did I mention there were all ages of people at this concert. From one year olds to old ladies (self included). We were all clearly out past our bedtime. And then I ran into my sister who was in her element. She clearly was ready to Partaaaayy and I was there to be comfortably casual.

When the show was over it appeared as if all 75,000 people at the Cardi B concert went to the Rodeo carnival. It was like a slow mass exodus to the promise land of Fried Oreos, Turkey legs and Funnel Cakes. After the concert on Black heritage night at the Rodeo, everyone heads over to a tent called the Hideout where live Zydeco music is blasting, all the black cowboys and cowgirls are swinging out and everyone is having a good time. I of course could have gone home to get in the bed but Team Can’t Stop Won’t Stop wanted to go experience the band.

So we waited in this long unruly line where people jumped ahead of others and behaved as if they were about to enter the pearly gates. I was officially over it all but a half an hour later we made it in the tent and ran into my cousins. We stayed for a little while to listen to the band who was actually really good and then we proceeded to make our way back to the car. However, we didn’t actually know how to get back to the car.

We parked on a street near OST but none of us knew where we were in relation to that. So we asked a few people who told us to take a shuttle bus to OST but the lines were long. So we walked and we walked and finally we were at the food tents by NRG center where we entered the rodeo. By the time we arrived to the car everyone’s feet were on fire. When I finally got home it was 1:40 AM and your girl was EXHAUSTED. All in all it was an adventure that will go down in the books of things to never do again. Until next time….

Jotakafest

A week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday (aka Jotakafest) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So let me just start by saying this, when I turn 40 in 19 years this is how I want to do it! Jotaka Eaddy left no stone unturned in Puerto Vallarta. She had an itinerary planned that was better than the itinerary for #fyrefestival. There were so many things for us to do that by 11 PM every night I was ready to go to sleep and I did.

The trip was a short trip for me but it was so worth it. This was the first time I had been away from Jordy B for more than a night so I was a little nervous. But if you know me you know I wasn’t going to let it stop me from living my best life in PVR. I arrived on Friday afternoon and was greeted at the airport with a margarita. Cheers!! From that point on, all I could think about was what would be the next drink I could chug down.

When we pulled up to Garza Blanca, I felt like I hit the lotto and landed in paradise. I don’t know if I felt like that because I hadn’t been on vacation for over a year or if it was just that damn beautiful! And just when I thought the lobby was beautiful we made our way to our Junior Suite that had a jacuzzi and hammock on the balcony. Yasss!

We had a little free time before we were scheduled to attend the meet & greet so we grabbed a bite poolside and met some of the other attendees of Jotakafest. Did I mention that 70 plus people came to PVR to celebrate at Jotakafest? I should also tell you that almost every African American who stayed at Garza Blanca that weekend was there for the festivities so it felt like we were at a family reunion when we greeted each other.

The first night was low key so we made reservations for dinner at BocadosSTK. This restaurant was a steakhouse and let’s just say as a lover of steak I was very disappointed. Overall, the food at the resort was not very appetizing and was possibly the reason I had the BG’s (bubble guts) on Saturday night and a few days afterwards. Or maybe it was the Mexican water/ice? But I digress…

On Saturday, we had a boozy brunch at the hotel and then we attended the yacht party which was LIT! Do people still say that? There was a DJ, a step and repeat, all the margaritas you can drink, delicious finger foods and we even docked long enough for the adventurous folks to snorkel and swim in the Pacific ocean.

On Saturday evening, there was a party at the rooftop bar at Hotel Mousai (the sister hotel of Garza Blanca). Even at night, this swanky rooftop had the most breathtaking view of the ocean despite feeling like the building was swaying. However, we didn’t stay long because my two friends and I were famished. So we headed downstairs to the Japanese restaurant, Hiroshi (which was not inclusive in our hotel package). The food at Hiroshi was significantly better than our other previous dining experiences probably due to the fact that we had to pay for it.

We partook in Japanese Skewers for our appetizer which were yummy. I had Wasabi ribeye which came with carrots and baby corn and for dessert I had wasabi chocolate. What a way to end the day! Maybe that’s why I had the BG’S?

On Sunday morning, my two friends and I went to the spa for an 80 minute massage. Can I tell you that this massage was EVERYTHING!!!!!!! My massage therapist, Paty chanted something, washed my feet and then I proceeded to take it all off for my massage. I hopped on the table and snored for the next 80 minutes while she gave me the best massage EVER. By the way, the view from my spa room over looked the beautiful blue ocean water.

Later that day, we went to the pool party where people were playing cards, dominos and engaging in unscrupulous conversations about nipples (You had to be there). All in all, the vibe was real chill. That evening, we were informed to arrive at the restaurant in the hotel lobby promptly by 7:30 PM. When we arrived we were instructed to find a seat so dinner could be begin.

At the Beach birthday party!

Now what was to come was something you would only see on TV. The birthday girl came out to greet us and had the wildest entertainment I’ve ever seen. There was a sign that said Jotakafest, fireworks and a fire thrower. There were toasts during dinner provided to us by a chosen few who chronicled the different stages of Jotaka’s life. Jotaka even debuted a song from her EP during dinner. Who makes an EP for their birthday? Wow!!!!!

After the show, was the beach party and after the beach party was the hotel lobby. In the hotel lobby, we all tried to inconspicuosly sneak up to one of the penthouses for the after party. The after party vibe was cool but I had my mind set on one more good night’s rest before I returned home to the bad sleep bandit, Jordy B. So I checked out early and went back to my room.

On Monday, most people (self included) left to return home on a vacation high after experiencing an event that will be often imitated but never duplicated. Jotakafest will go down in history as hands down, one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. The mixture of my favorite things, good people, libations and relaxation was just what I needed to carry me through until Jotakafest 2.0. Until next time…..

Dinner at Hiroshi restaurant

My squad

Pool party
Yacht life
Jotaka and Sorors of Delta Sigma Theta
The guest of honor, Jotaka Eady
#issayachtparty
Boozy brunch

P.S. I can’t take credit for all of these beautiful pictures. We had a private WhatsApp group where some of the images were shared. Also, one of the guests brought his drone for the aerial shots. So here’s a big thank you for those who shared their pics for me to be able to share with everyone on the blog!

Jordy B’s first birthday

Happy New Year, can I still say that? Well I hope you’re 2019 has been off to a good, busy and productive start like mine. I already need a vacation because I’m tired from the holidays, Jordy B’s first birthday party and the everyday hustle and bustle. Why didn’t anyone tell me how stressful planning a kids birthday party was? I needed an event planner but the way my budget is set up, I had to resort to planning it myself.

I started planning this party last November and still felt overwhelmed the week of. The theme was Jordy B’s Winter ONEderland and I solicited the help of my colleague, Ms. Wilson to decorate the event space. It helped that we work together and that she decorated my baby shower so she knows me well enough to know what I would and wouldn’t like. She pushed me to decide upon what I wanted to have her create in a timely manner which was one headache out of the way.

During the course of planning, I brainstormed with my best friend, Aisha about party favors and we decided upon hot chocolate and marshamllows in a jar with a customized sticker from Vistaprint. I also consulted with my old roomie Erika who had the same theme for her daughter’s first birthday regarding where to purchase the items for the party favors.

When I started researching cakes I solicited my line sister, Tonishea of Pure Bliss Sweets & Treats to bring to life the best cake I could’ve imagined for my baby’s party. Not only did it look great but it taste really good also. Two layers were Yellow cake and one was Red Velvet cake. There was also a variety of candy and cupcakes on the cake table.

My family and best friend came through with some finger licking good food for the guests. The menu included meatballs, baked chicken wings, brisket sliders, pasta salad, fruit salad, deviled eggs, tossed salad, chicken nuggets and pizza. We also had a Snow Party Punch, soda, water and beer.

The only thing I would have changed was I should have planned more games for the kiddos. However, I had such a variety of ages of kids I didn’t know what to do with them. I thought about hiring a clown and inquired about the price. I was told by one vendor it cost $175 an hour. So I immediately said, “Let me think about it”. Well I didn’t get the clown nor did I have any entertainment.

Lucky for me, the weather was nice so a few kids went outside to play on the playground and then we played one round of good ol’ musical chairs. All in all, I think the party was a success and I learned a few helpful tips for future party planning. The most important one was, “Don’t plan another birthday party until she turns 5!” Until next time….

Me, Jordy B, Auntie E and my Goddaddy, Tone
Me, Jordy B, Godmommy Aisha and Uncle Ramani
Me, Jordy B and her grandparents
Me, Jordy B, Cousin Zach attack and my Auntie’s and Uncle