art · travel

Getting My Art Fix in Raleigh, NC

While I haven’t personally driven a long distance  since late 2018, I still travel via plane, train or as an automobile passenger. A few months ago, my family visited Raleigh, NC, so I tagged along. One of the days while we were there, we got a chance to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). I mentioned NCMA before (back when I toured the sculpture garden) but the last time I was there, I didn’t have enough time to tour the inside of the museum. I was delighted that I finally got a chance to see some of the artwork housed at NCMA!

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Exterior of the museum

I had a great time checking out the contemporary art, and I finally got to see Amy Sherlad’s award-winning painting, Miss Everything. You all may remember how much I love Amy Sherald’s work: I’m always excited when I can see one of her paintings in person.

I also got to see some pieces from artists I’d never known before. I love how I always learn something new when I go to a museum!

Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) (1985)

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru (2000)

Skunder (Alexander) Boghassian, Night Flight of Dread and Delight (1964)

One of my favorites referenced the three graces, some of my favorite mythological beings. These goddesses rule realms such as charm and elegance (some of my favorite topics!). Three Graces, Les Trois Femmes Noires, by Mickalene Thomas, was a show-stopping piece that was both grand in size and impression it left upon me. It was probably my favorite of this trip.

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Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires (2011) Mickalene Thomas

Those are my highlights from my most recent trip to NCMA! I hope you enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to returning and taking some more pics for you. Take care!

 

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international · travel

Cruise 2018: Ports of Call

Happy Monday friends! If you reside anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic region, you may be digging yourself out of the snow that fell over the weekend. Here in central Virginia, we didn’t get that much snow: we did however get a good amount of slushy rain. We are expecting some more snow and ice in the upcoming days, so stay warm and dry if you can!

With all of this cold, wintry weather, it’s only natural that I might look back on some warmer days. Specifically, I’m thinking about my last vacation to the Caribbean. If you all recall, I went on a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. I posted about the ship itself, and I also wrote about the exquisite cuisine that I enjoyed on board. The ports of call for this cruise were Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico. I’ve been to most of these ports before ( Honduras being the only exception), so I was already familiar with the locations. That being said, I still enjoyed being somewhere warm and sunny for a change.

I don’t have much to say about the locations: because I only spent a few hours at each port of call, it’s hard to distinguish between them. As a result, this post will be mostly pictures. I always get so excited to see the beauty of the Caribbean. The crystal clear water, the striking buildings, the unrelenting sunshine … There’s nothing quite like an

island vacation. Enjoy!

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Ship in Nassau

Views from Cozumel

Sights in Roatan

Costa Maya views

More Costa Maya

life curation

2018 Goals: Final Update

It’s the last Hump Day before the New Year: can you all believe that we’re already so close to 2019? This year has flown by, but it’s my sincere hope that you all got to see some of your dreams come true during the year or, at very least, made some progress toward achieving your big goals. Remember, taking one step is better than staying still, and you still have time to take one more step before the year end.

Woman writing and planning business strategy

As you all know I had three big goals I was working on this year. While I did a tiny update a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to do one final check-in before the new year. Quickly, here were my goals:

  • Publish some of my writing
  • Travel more
  • Dabble in an art career

Here are the updates on each goal up to this point:

Goal 1: Publish some of my writing

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My previous set of goals were as follows:

  • Complete edits on my novel
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo in November
  • Publish my how to book

I didn’t complete the edits on my novel, though I did make some progress on it. I’m cutting myself a lot of slack with that because edits can take quite a bit of time and mental energy. So, just doing some edits is progress enough for me. Over the next year, I’ll work on it in increments, until the edits are done. This isn’t a priority for me, so I don’t anticipate this being completed until Summer or Fall 2019

I participated in NaNoWriMo, so that goal was achieved (yay!) I didn’t finish my novel but I did say that I would participate, and I did. I will resume working on my NaNoWriMo novel in the upcoming year, with the hopes of finishing it before March 2019.

My how-to book still isn’t published, but I explained why in this post. I haven’t worked out the layout stuff yet, but that’s something I’m focusing on in January 2019. The aim is to have the book published in February 2019.

Goal 2: More travel

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My 2018 travel-related short-term goals were as follows:

  • Plan out 2019 trips
  • Film at least three travel-related videos for my YouTube channel
  • Get TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry

So, I’ve already started planning my 2019 trips, and I’ll announce my finalized plans next month. I wrote about my 2019 trip planning in this post. Planning travel for the upcoming year is always one of the highlights of my pre-New Year ritual.

I actually began tinkering with some video editing software for some travel related content for my YouTube channel. Now that I’ve gotten a little familiar, I’ll be able to publish some videos in the upcoming year. I have the content, but the formatting and “polishing” needs to happen next.

I researched the TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry requirements and determined that I don’t need it just yet. It’s a great option for frequent travelers but it is a multi-step process that takes more time than I’m willing to devote to it right now. However, it’s something I’ll be considering in 2020, when I anticipate I will be doing far more international and domestic air travel.

Goal 3: Dabble in an art career

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In 2018, my mini-goals for transitioning into an art career were:

  • Clarify what kind of art-related career I desire
  • Create a preliminary career “plan” for my target career
  • Attend at least three art related events so that I can meet more like-minded people

I’m still not completely clear on the kind of art-related career I want. I’ve considered a few paths and have eliminated some options, so that has clarified my desires somewhat. I’d prefer a singular, clear “yes” rather than multiple clear “nos”, but some clarity is better than nothing, right? I take it that this clarification process will be a gradual unfolding as opposed to a lightning bolt of inspiration. And that’s fine: the fact that this is coming to me gradually is actually kind of exciting. I anticipate that the end result will be better than I could have ever hoped for.

Well, without a target, I couldn’t come up with a preliminary plan. So that has to be put on hold until the actual desire is clarified. Again, that’s fine: I know that getting clear on what I want is going to be key to completing my plan.

I wasn’t feeling my best over the past few weeks, so I wasn’t energetic enough to handle the art events I wanted to attend. However, for January, I have two art events scheduled, and a third event is on my calendar for February. Since I’m still recovering, I have to pace myself as I plan to attend different art events. But I’m eager to get back into the mix, so it won’t be long before I’m out and mingling again.

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Those are my final updates for my 2018 goals. I’ll have a few target goals that I’m working on throughout 2019, and I’ll be sharing those soon. Until then, take care!

travel

Hotel Review: Rodeway Inn and Suites, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Happy Sunday, friends! Here is my overdue review of the hotel that I used when I went on my cruise in October.

Prior to, and immediately after, my cruise, I stayed at the Rodeway Inn and Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport and Port Everglades Cruise Port Hotel (now that’s a mouthful!). I selected this hotel because it offered quite a few attractive amenities. Firstly, it was close to the airport and featured a free shuttle service. This service picked up and dropped off guests at both the airport and the cruise port. As someone that has paid for several shuttles to get around before boarding a cruise ship, I appreciated the complimentary service provided by the Rodeway Inn.

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Secondly, the hotel had a complimentary breakfast for guests. The breakfast was available for several hours each day, so it serviced both the early birds as well as the slightly late risers. The offerings weren’t luxe – it was just a step up from a continental breakfast – but it was nice to get some fresh fruit, pastries and coffee before heading out for the day.

Thirdly, the hotel offered a very reasonably priced early check-in option. Since we got to Florida well in advance of the standard check-in time, it was nice to pay the small fee and get into our rooms early. Finally, the hotel had a laundry room on site, as well as a gift shop and restaurant. With so many of amenities at the hotel, I truly didn’t need to go anywhere else to get the things that I needed during my stay.

Now, here’s my review of the staff and room.

The staff was excellent! The ladies at the front desk were all friendly, professional and thorough. They made sure that we knew everything we needed to have a comfortable stay and a seamless transit to the ship and airport. If only all hotel staff would be so spectacular!

The room was clean and adequately sized. I especially liked the fact that the room did not have carpeted floors: while most hotels do an excellent job of keeping carpets clean, I’ve seen a few that made me cringe. The floors at the Rodeway Inn were spotless. The bathrooms, too, were immaculately cleaned. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I saw how much care had gone into preparing our room.

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In a nutshell, I enjoyed my stay and I will return. The convenience of a complimentary shuttle, combined with great service and a good breakfast, are fantastic reasons to return!

travel

2019 Travel Plans: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, as 2018 winds down, I can comfortably say that I’m done traveling for the year. I don’t anticipate going anywhere new until next calendar year, but boy, what a fun year this has been!

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From my trip to Kenya, to road trips to Philadelphia and North and South Carolinas, to my cruise last month, I’ve been a busy girl. And 2019 shows no signs of me slowing down!

I’m finalizing a few details on a late winter trip to San Juan, as well as a late spring/early summer trip to Paris. I was toying around with the notion of attending a very pricey and exclusive class next spring, but I’d rather spend my money on transformative or “bucket list” travel. The class can wait!

Next falls looks like it may include another family cruise and, if not, I’ll be in London for a few days to attend an event I’ve been eyeing. I’m also looking into some additional travel to the Pacific Rim: I haven’t decided on a country yet, but I feel like this region is calling me, so we’ll see where my hankering takes me.

I have to finish reviewing my cruise travel for you all, but once that’s done, I’ll be laser-focused on my 2019 plans. I’m so excited!!!

I hope you all are having a relaxing Monday and an easy transition into this post-Thanksgiving work week. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

international · travel

Cruise 2018: Dining on the Sea

If you all didn’t know, I love to dine out. I actually think I like eating out a bit too much, which is why I’ve cut down significantly over the past few months. That being said, I still got excited at the dining options available on my latest cruise.

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The Allure of the Seas (a Royal Caribbean ship) has multiple restaurants on board, as well as several cafes, wine bars, and snack bars. My family and I dined regularly at the main dining room at American Icon Grille. This restaurant  published a luxe menu every evening, featuring various appetizers, entrees and desserts. The restaurant changed up the menus every day, so there was always something new to try. There are also a few other themed restaurants, such as Silk (Asian foods) and The Grande (American foods).

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A typical breakfast that I’d order from room service

There is also a buffet located near the pools (the Windjammer Cafe), which has a few of the food items featured in American Icon Grille but also other dishes that aren’t available in any of the dining rooms. To be honest, I had the best time dining at the Windjammer in the evenings. The buffet had a different chilled fruit soup every night which were delicious and I could literally eat every day without getting tired of them (think the world’s smoothiest, most delicious smoothies . . . yes, it was as tasty as it sounds).

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A menu from one evening at American Icon Grille

Oooh, not to mention, there is a Sorrento’s pizza, which makes fresh pizza until 3 AM. Who doesn’t love pizza? And the room service has lots of delicious fresh options available all day long.

I won’t continue to talk about the foods: let’s see some pictures, shall we?

Lobster bisque and Tiger shrimp

Left: Shrimp ceviche; Top right: Shrimp and potato salad; Bottom right: Lobster

Desserts!!!

Enjoy your Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

international · travel

Fall Vacation Part 1 – Cruise Overview

Happy Monday, friends! Today’s post will be an abbreviated one, because I’m going to flesh out some more of the details over the next week or so.

As you all recall, I just returned from a cruise. I’ve cruised many times before: please don’t ask me to count them, because I can’t LOL! It’s something that my family enjoys doing, so I participate because I enjoy spending time with them. We have done several Caribbean cruises and this most recent cruise also took us back to the Caribbean.

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This isn’t a photo from our ship, but the sunset looks so much like the ones that I saw!

We cruised with Royal Caribbean on the ship, Allure of the Seas. The ship is large, beautiful and has lot of activities for all age ranges. Believe it or not, one of my favorite things to do on the ship was get cotton candy on the boardwalk area. There are several videos you can view, if you want to see the ship and its features.

We visited Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico. We cruised for 7 days, and we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My family has found it prudent to arrive one day prior to sailing and leave one day after arriving back, just to have a bit of a travel “cushion” in case there are any unexpected delays. So, I also have a post reviewing the hotel where we stayed coming up pretty soon.

I tried to stick with my IF eating plan but I gave up two days into my vacation! There were so many great dining options that I have to discuss those in a separate post.