art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 2

Happy Thursday, friends! I first posted about my trip to China several years ago, and then I shared a Throwback Thursday Travel post highlighting my time in Beijing. But my trip to China didn’t end with Beijing: I also traveled to Hangzhou and Shanghai. Today, I’m sharing some pictures from Hangzhou, my favorite city in China. I loved West Lake, and I learned that many Chinese citizens love Hangzhou for weekend getaways. It’s such a picturesque city: I can’t wait to return!

At The Ramada in Hangzhou: such a beautiful lobby!

Touring the Dream Town Incubator

At beautiful West Lake

Shopping at Hefang Old Street

Riding around in Hangzhou

Visit to a tea plantation

art · culture · luxury · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: Las Vegas

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Sin City. What happens there, stays there. The Entertainment Capital of the World.

Of course, I’m talking about none other than Las Vegas, Nevada. I went there in November 2019, and I loved it! Much like last week’s Throwback Thursday Travel post, I think I’ll have to break this one down into two (or maybe even three!) posts to capture all of the things that I saw and did. However, for today, enjoy these pics from what is sure to be the first of many trips to Las Vegas.

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We’ve arrived!

For this trip, I rode with my friend from San Diego to Las Vegas. On the way there, we saw Seven Magic Mountains, a vibrant art installation that offers a striking contrast of color against the desert backdrop.

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I couldn’t get a good picture of Seven Magic Mountains, but I still loved it

I stayed at the luxurious Bellagio Hotel. However, staying at just one luxury hotel would be a disservice to yourself: there are so many exquisite hotels in Las Vegas, so why limit yourself to one? The next time I go, I’ll definitely try either the Venetian, the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Mandarin Oriental) or Caesar’s Palace. Here are some pictures as we drove to the hotel, as well as photos of the pool and courtyard area.

Valeting at the Bellagio and views from my hotel window

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The entrance to the courtyard surrounding the pool area

The Bellagio’s pool area

My motto is ABS: Always Be Shopping!

Souvenirs for family members that enjoy novelty shirts

 

That’s all for today’s Throwback Thursday Travel post! Have you ever been to Las Vegas? How did you like it?

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: New Orleans

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Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

I went to New Orleans in 2011, a few weeks after I got married. So, this trip was almost like a honeymoon, though we had an official honeymoon trip several months later.

I fell in love with the Big Easy, and I hope to return within the next year or so. However, I’ll be sure to visit during the cooler months: the summertime is unbearable hot! In any case, here are some of the pictures I snapped during my trip. Enjoy!

I loved seeing the street names in the sidewalk

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A souvenir shop on Canal

Fun in the French Quarter

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I wish I had a chance to go into Harrah’s, but we were having way too much fun taking in all of the sights

 

As I look through my photos, I realize this post really needs a Part 2. So look out for some additional New Orleans pictures soon.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? I’d love to hear all about it. Have a great Thursday!

culture · food · international

Snack Review: Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls

While quarantined, I haven’t been enjoying takeout as much as I used to. However, I still enjoy trying new foods, especially snacks. So when I saw this food that combines two of my favorite snacks – spring rolls and Thai mango and sticky rice – I couldn’t resist. I had to try it!

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Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls were easy to prepare. The rolls had a crispy exterior after baking, and I was excited at how the texture of the baked spring roll was similar to a fried roll. I was concerned that the roll would be a tad bit soggy, but it was crispy, crunchy and delicious.

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A perfectly crisp spring roll

Now, when it comes to the filling . . . Let me qualify this by saying I’ve had many different mango and sticky rice desserts. I’ve eaten at over a dozen different Thai restaurants in different cities and I usually have my mango and sticky rice at each one. So, I feel really comfortable saying that I know what the dessert should taste like. This interior was not as tasty as I’d hoped. It was especially chewy, and the mango flavoring wasn’t as prominent as I’d like. So the filling wasn’t as delightful as the exterior, unfortunately.

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The interior wasn’t as tasty as I hoped

Here’s the rub: I was looking forward to the filling more than the outside, yet the outside was the best part of the snack. But, I don’t think that this product is a complete fail: in fact, I can think of a few ways that it can be improved. First, the company should tinker with the rice recipe to see how to prevent the rice from getting too “tough” when baking. Also, a little more mango would be wonderful. Finally, this needs COCONUT SAUCE! These rolls practically begged to be dipped into a creamy, sweetened coconut sauce to amp up the flavor and to add a contrast to the crisp exterior.

Would I try this again? Sure, especially if I had my own coconut sauce (or if the company started including sauce with the rolls). I’d be sure to have some additional mango to accompany these rolls, too.

Have any of you tried these before? Or, do you have another Thai dessert that you prefer? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: Kenya, Part 1

Nairobi remains one of my favorite places on Earth. I wrote a while ago about my Kenyan adventures. Here are some few more pictures from that trip that I hadn’t shared before. I’m breaking this into two parts, because one day of my trip involved a trip outside of Nairobi (to my friend’s family farm) and there are pics from the Nairobi National Museum that weren’t shared in this post. Today’s post features pics from the farm. Enjoy!

This particular cow was my friend’s favorite on her family’s farm

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Just a turkey, minding his (or her) business

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Adorable piglets and their momma!

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Because the climate in Nairobi and the surrounding areas is favorable for gardening during most of the year, my friend’s family farm basically produced food year round.

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Lush views surrounding the farmland

art · culture · international · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 1

I shared some photos of my trip to China almost two years ago (to the date!) on this blog. I remember this trip fondly and I can’t wait to return when international travel is an option again. Until then, here are some photos that I haven’t shared before. These are all from Beijing: I’ll add pictures from Hangzhou and Shanghai in a separate post. Enjoy!

Meal I enjoyed at a local mall: one of the best veggie curries I’ve ever had!

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A quick snap at The Forbidden City

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The Great Wall

Local shopping district: I visited Plastered8 t-shirt shop and found some cool stuff

Yum!

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Spots of beauty everywhere

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Cute bib from Haidilao restaurant (their hotpot was superb!)

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A philosophy for life

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culture · life curation

Celebrating Podcasts: My Favorite Way to Learn!

Today is International Podcast Day and I’m thrilled to be able to share and reshare some of my favorite podcasts with you all! I didn’t know this day even existed prior to this weekend (I’m just as surprised as you are!) but I’m delighted that I can do my part to show support for some of the fantastic content creators that provide excellent, timely information on their podcasts.

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Listening to podcasts is a great way to pass the time while exercising

On the top of my list is LOA Recon with Jeannette Maw. I love her simple way of explaining Law of Attraction and providing wonderful stories illustrating her point.

The Mind Your Business podcast with James Wedmore has great interviews and combines left brain logic with right brain principles as a way to have a balanced approach to business building.

In Other Words gives me my weekly fix of art and museum news and discussions.

Abiola Abrams’s Spiritpreneur School gives tips on how to create a thriving business that incorporates your passion and spiritual gifts. Abiola also has a great YouTube channel that you may want to check out.

The Side Hustle Show with Nick Loper is an excellent resource for aspiring business owners that are looking for ideas and inspiration.

The OWN Network has amazing Super Soul Sunday interviews from a slew of thought leaders and innovators.

And last but not least, Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas is great for learning about the art of podcasting and building a business around it.

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I love listen to podcasts as I unwind, too

Let’s show our love for our favorite podcasters by:

  • Encouraging someone to listen to podcasts and giving them your personal recommendations
  • Giving great ratings and reviews of your favorite podcasters on podcasting platforms (iTunes/Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.,)
  • Send a word of encouragement or a monetary donation to your faves, just to show them how much you appreciate the work that they do

These gestures can go a LONG way in supporting your favorite podcasters.

Do you have any favorite podcasters that you want to share? Please leave a comment below telling us all about them!

art · culture

Welcome Back, Smithsonian Institute!

I’m finally writing a post that I’ve wanted to write for weeks now: welcome back to the Smithsonian Institute! During what is officially the longest shutdown in US history, visitors had to go without this cultural treasure.The Smithsonian Institute (SI), along with the National Gallery of Art (NGA), are finally running again after shuttering their doors at the end of December. Even when several other federal agencies were furloughed, SI and NGA both made sure to continue operating until the end of the calendar year.

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It’s this commitment to the American public that really distinguishes these fine organizations. No one is happier to welcome them back that I am.

You’ve been missed.

culture · Uncategorized

5 Easy Ways to Support Your Favorite Content Creators

Happy Wednesday! I hope you all are enjoying your hump day and making it a great one.

I recently have been consuming a lot of motivational/inspirational content on social media. I really needed to tap into the encouraging words of some of my favorite content creators, as well as learn about products and programs that could support me in accomplishing my dreams in 2019.

As I watched videos, checked out Instagram stories, and listened to podcasts, I realized that it’s important to support these content creators, who pour out their hearts and souls for our consumption. There are a lot of ways to support them, but I wanted to share 5 easy ways that you can give them support that doesn’t require a lot of time or money. ‘Tis the season to be generous, right? Here are some ways that you can do that.

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  • Watch the advertisements at the beginning of YouTube videos.

It’s almost instinctual to click through the advertisements and get right to the content. However, I’ve been making it a point to allow the advertisement to play at the beginning of YouTube videos. It’s a little way that I can support content creators, and it doesn’t cost me a thing.

  • Purchase a program/training/book/product from them.

This is obvious, but if you’ve been consuming a lot of material from a particular content creator, it stands to reason that you may want to invest in one of their products or programs. If the investment is within your budget, it would be great to support in such a clear, tangible way.

  • Share the content with your social network.

Saw a video that you really enjoyed? Listened to a podcast that got you fired up (in a good way)? Read a post that really helped you get clear on something? Share it with others! You never know who is looking for that information. Even if you’re not on social media, share it with someone that you know offline: send a link to a friend, family member, coworker, whoever.

  • Like, comment, subscribe, follow, join: get involved with the content creator’s groups and social media outlets.

If you really want to support content creator’s, it’s as simple as pressing “like”, subscribing, joining their free groups, following their fan pages, etc.,. Having a strong social media following is important for content creators, and since it’s free, why not do it? Besides, it’s the best way to stay current with these creator’s latest offerings.

  • Give them positive reviews.

While you’re joining your favorite content creators’ groups, why not post reviews of their content? Reviews are pretty easy to do on podcasting platforms like iTunes and Stitcher, and can be done on other platforms, too. It’s a simple, easy way to let the world know who you support.

Can you all think of any other ways to support content creators? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

art · culture

Howardena Pindell’s “What Remains to Be Seen” at VMFA

A few months ago, I went to a special event at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, announcing an upcoming exhibition. That exhibition was a retrospective of the creative career of Howardena Pindell, multimedia artist, activist and professor. “What Remains to be Seen” is an impressive ouevre that showcases Pindell’s evolution as an artist, and is broken down into the different phases of her life and creative journey.

Today (November 25) is the last day to see the works, so I’m heading to the museum shortly so I can enjoy them one last time before they leave. However, I’ve got a few pictures for you all in this post, some additional commentary (of course LOL!) as well as a YouTube video of Pindell’s most famous short, “Free, White and 21”. Enjoy!

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Howardena Pindell

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Pindell’s use of grids and numbers created some of her most riveting work. I love seeing how she turns numbers and otherwise sterile, math-related tools and objects, into art.

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The 3-d grid below is a good example of the blend of art and math. It’s probably one of my favorite works by her.

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The tiny individual circles affixed to many of Pindell’s pieces reveal her love of mathematic perfection reinterpreted. These pieces, attached to the grids she loved to work with, were occasionally numbered individually.

Like many artists, Pindell sought to promote cultural shifts through activism. Her works also featured socio-political themes that were near and dear to her.

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One of my favorite themes explored by Pindell was that of science. Closely related to her mathematics fascination, her interpretation of natural phenomenon and wonders created some of her most aesthetically charming works (though, to be honest, I love all of her work and find it all aesthetically pleasing). I especially loved “Nautilus” and “Night Flight” (pictures are below).

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Finally, here is “Free, White and 21”, Pindell’s video experiment where she aims to repair her memory loss (caused by a serious car accident) by recalling memories from earlier in her life.