Stay Healthy- COVID 19 Immunity Building Tips

We pray this blog finds you and yours still in good health. This blog will address staying healthy with COVID 19 immunity building tips. We can all take steps to keep strong as we get through this COVID 19 pandemic together.

Prayer and adding 5 min a day or more of meditation helps to decrease stress and improve perspective.

If your hibernating at home or still going in everyday as a deemed “essential worker,” the stress of COVID 19 uncertainties can take a toll on our precious immune system which only increases vulnerability to this virus.  How we feel directly effects our immune system which is one of our most valuable allies.

Let’s be as proactive as possible.

There are steps we can take to keep health during this COVID 19 attack. Below is a list of actionable steps that Apache and I are incorporating to stay healthy.

Immunity Building Supplements

To stay healthy and build immunity, supplements are a good idea any day. Most of us are not getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals the body needs to function at it’s optimum level with daily meals alone.

Immunity Building Power Houses!

Building a mighty immune system should include raw vegetables and fruit regardless. We are not beyond junk food eating by any means,but we definitely keep things balanced with planned healthy meals and taking daily supplements.

Here is our “We Aint Gettin Sick” supplement list:

If you do happen to get sick, these supplements may help you to recover more quickly (make sure none of these have adverse reactions when combined with your prescribed prescriptions). In addition, it’s important to get these supplements organic if you can. Ingesting pesticides, unwanted fillers and inessential ingredients kind of defeat the purpose.

Miracle 2000– This is a liquid multivitamin that tastes like hell BUT… it is equally efficient in providing the essentials and more! Personally, i know this product works because i notice my hair and nails growing faster when i take it and i have more energy.  I’m regenerating at a faster speed!

We purchase ours at The Vitamin Shoppe but you may be able to locate this at other health food stores as well.

Organic Garlic– Organic garlic is a miracle worker. I learned of its magical powers from my friend who was having recurring urinary tract infections due to an accident. She successfully cured her own UTIs and prevented them by taking her organic chopped garlic daily.

Raw garlic is an effective natural antibiotic. Chop up a clove into small pieces and swallow like little vitamins to break down whole in the stomach.

Apache has successfully used chopped organic garlic to cure his tooth infection.  Besides being loaded with vitamins and minerals, raw chopped organic garlic cloves swallowed like little pills kill infection in the body.

If you have an infection  or feel one coming on,you may want to have 2-3 cloves a day. As a daily supplement we take 1-2 cloves a day.

Our very smart daughter has opted to taking an organic garlic supplement in pill form daily which we believe is also very effective.

Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar-  Feeling the signs of a possible cold coming on? Run for the Braggs!

Just to name a few, Apple Cider Vinegar kills bacteria,improves heart health, decreases cancer risks,reduces bloating and can even help you lose weight.

We take a shot of this everyday as a preventative measure. There is a tremendous list of benefits to taking this as a daily supplement such as aiding in lowering cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels thus improving diabetes symptoms as well as being an immunity booster with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

I either take my shot to the head or i pour it in my water. Because the taste can be jarring, another option is to pour some in your organic orange juice. Our daughter chooses to take apple cider vinegar vitamins which may also be another option for you.

Organic oranges–  We take this for the extra vitamin C. Vitamin C  is a mighty antioxidant and boosts the immune system.

We are having one a day to keep the COVID away.

Vitamin C tablets– Yup, more vitamin C!

Organic tumeric, ginger, lemon & honey tea- I started taking organic tumeric as a seasoning in my food a couple years ago to reduce inflammation in my joints and noticed a difference immediately so i never stopped. The potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant ingredient in tumeric is curcumin.

Curcumin will absorb into your bloodstream by 2,000% if you combine it with black pepper -piperine . It’s real chemistry! Our friend introduced us to the yummy idea of mixing the two into a homemade guacamole for increased absorption. I also like seasoning my morning eggs with turmeric and black pepper.

Ginger is another anti-inflammatory and antioxidant blessing birthed from Mother Earth!

Recently we found Newman’s Organic Tumeric tea with Ginger, it’s delicious because the ginger gives it a spicy kick and the tumeric really gives the tea flavor and body.

Health is wealth and in this case it also tastes good (just my opinion). Let me know what you think!

We put organic honey and lemon in this organic tea for another immunity power boost! Raw organic honey is another one with a list of benefits that go on forever; including but not limited to phytonutrients which helps prevent diseases, antioxidants, antibacterial and antifungal elements.  Lemon is another great source for vitamin C and tastes great in tea.

Stay Healthy and Increase Immunity via Peace and Joy

Mental health directly affects our immune system.

Our minds can literally create sickness and pain in the body or heal itself. That’s how powerful we are! Making joy within is an awesome way to stay healthy until COVID 19 becomes a distant memory.

In the human experience, musty, damp towel slaps of discouragement sometimes knock us to our knees. But, we make every effort to grab a hold of that stinky towel and body slam it into the washer machine with each blow that comes our way.

We do have some choices so lets take advantage of them.

Here are a few mental health, self care actions you can take to cheer yourself up while in the house, get present, take back your control.

Tips to ignite your endorphins

Under these circumstances, some people may have to spend unusual amounts of time with others. The lack of personal time and space can begin to play itself out real quick.

A friend of mine shared a strategy she is currently using to save her sanity.  Pick a room, create a sign that says “Prayer or Zoom Meeting in progress. Please Do Not Disturb,” and tack that sign up onto the door. Inform everyone in the household that you will be using this sign ahead of time when needed so it won’t be a big surprise.

Enjoy making your sweet, leave me alone sign! : )

Hopefully everyone in the house is capable of respecting private prayer time. Then you can use the time to pray, meditate, read a good blog (wink wink), write, yoga or whatever else will help soothe thine nerves.

A candle light that represents hope.

Another option to create a quiet, sacred space for yourself is in your car. Park in front of a beautiful tree to gaze at or just in an area where you won’t be bothered and enjoy that time to yourself. I do this often and find it to be a calming gift.

Games are a fun way to reintroduce some laughter in the household. Laughing cures the body and soul. Did you know that when you laugh your body produces a hormone called endorphins and that they are mood elevators? Endorphins reduce stress and discomfort in the body which will in turn help to protect your immunity levels. So break out the board and card games that have been gathering dust in the closet. And then, watch a good comedy!

Last but not least, do an activity that simply makes you feel good. Apache creates music, meditates, and goes on long walks. I like to exercise, paint and lately, listen to audio books.

Moving out of my head and into a creative activity is life giving.

We also enjoy watching movies. Put on some good music and dance around the house, this always works for me. I used to do adult coloring as a stress reliever for a straight year and that was very helpful.

Some people enjoy cooking as a stress reliever.

Cooking is a creative activity!
Find the full recipe at the end of this blog!

What kind of hobbies or activities help you to escape mentally? If you don’t know, try some new things for a change.

These are vegan, gluten free Date Energy Bars. Click here for this yummy but healthful recipe to make for your family. Also, full recipe at end of this blog.
Find the full recipe with ingredients listed below for Date Energy Bars. They came out so delish!

Healthful Food & Exercise for Immunity

We love pizza and Oreo cookies just like anybody else. Watching a good NetFlix program and munching on our favorite treats when stress levels rise helps to ease the pain a little sometimes. Too much of anything can become a self sabotaging weapon though. In excess, junk food decreases overall health making it harder for the body to fight off virus’s.

Balance is key.

Take it one day at a time and don’t be too hard on yourself. We got this!

Use food as an immunity shield

When food shopping, make sure at least 90% of the items on the list will help your body to stay healthy. Keep the comfort food items to a minimum,  don’t buy them at all or seek out healthy treat alternatives instead.

Planning out balanced meals and healthy snacks ahead of time is a healthy persons primary lifeline. Try to keep your main meals healthy 75% of the time. Include fruits and veggies to increase vitamins, and minerals so your body can be a COVID 19 fighting machine!

Avacado and Kale salad is loaded with nutrients!

Stay healthy and empower your immunity by adding spinach greens to your morning smoothie! Make sure there is a good serving of vegetables with your lunch and/or on your dinner plate, preferably a dark colored one like red cabbage or broccoli, both of which are loaded with immunity and energy building properties.

Breaded baked chicken, squash and spinach.

Attempt to add a high fiber carbohydrate to your meal like Quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes or oatmeal. A balanced meal should also include a protein as well to help maintain muscle mass and keep your blood glucose levels intact.

What should be on the plate? A lean protein, vegetables and a high fiber carbohydrate.

The goal is to stay healthy by creating a strong resilient body.

Drink lots of water and click here so we can bless you with a snack that is tasty and also healthy! Your waistline will thank you for it and your immune system won’t be mad at us either.

Build immunity and well being through exercise

Add in some exercise to each day.  Staying healthy always includes exercise.  What can i say, God made us this way. Exercise each day is going to help work fear, anxiety and stress right out of the body by creating endorphins. In addition, people who exercise regularly have stronger immune systems, it’s just a basic fact.

If you are not feeling real Jane Fonda-ish right now, just try my simple 6 minute workout. I promise it won’t kill you and it will be over before you know it. Here is your big chance to burn off some of those extra chocolate cake calories! Click here for a quick 6 minute total body workout you can do everyday.  Also, go for a walk or a run if you can. Yoga is never a bad idea. Just get moving!

Top COVID 19 Prevention Tip

Thoroughly wash your hands. Our mothers told us to do this when we came in from playing outside, before meals, and after we finish in the bathroom to prevent germs from spreading. Our skin is our first line of defense so keep it clean.

Wash your hands!

I work in the healthcare field. Hand washing is the most stressed instruction of all before and after interacting with patients. With COVID 19 running around, it can mean the difference between life and death unfortunately. In addition to social distancing, the next most important thing we can do is keep our hands and surrounding surfaces clean.

Personally, we love this brand for a million reasons (Dr. Bronner).

Here is how to wash your hands correctly:

  1. If in public or coming in from outside, i use a clean tissue or paper towel to turn on the faucet to warm temperature water. Then throw that tissue/paper towel in  the garbage. Wet your hands and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hand together vigorously to create a good lather. Wash under your nails, intertwine fingers to rub soap between them, the back of your hands and under your rings.
  3. Keep rubbing entire surface of your hands for at least 2o seconds to be effective in killing virus/germs. In order to make sure it’s been 20seconds, sing the ABC’s twice or the Happy Birthday song twice from beginning to end to know when you are done.
  4. Rinse your hands well. Start rinse at your wrists letting the water run off of your finger tips and then rinse the rest of your hands.
  5. Dry your hands well using a paper towel or let your hands air dry. Use a paper towel, bunch of tissue or your elbow to turn off the faucet. And do not touch the dirty faucet handle.

Hopefully these tips will help you and yours maintain health and gain increasing well being. We send you our love and are keeping the world in our faith filled prayers daily.

“Faith and Prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.” ~ Mahalia Jackson

Date Energy Bars

Makes 16 bars, Prep time: 10min plus chilling time

This recipe uses all natural ingredients. You can make a double batch of the bars, freeze some and have them ready as a on-the-go snack.

 Ingredients

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup of pitted Medjool dates or use date paste as long as it is 100 % dates without fillers. If available, choose whole Medjool dates because they are the sweetest and largest.

1 cup gluten-free oats

1 cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup dried blueberries

½ cup raisins

½ cup sesame seeds

4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

½ cup mini chocolate chips

 

  • Line a 9×13 inch dish (or a smaller dish for thicker bars) with parchment paper and set aside
  • Put the coconut, dates, oats, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, raisins, sesame seeds, and coconut oil in a food processor and pulse until everything sticks together but is still chunky.
  • Dump the mixture into the baking dish and use your hands to incorporate the chocolate chips.
  • Press the mixture evenly into the baking dish and put the dish in the refrigerator until the bars can be cut, about 2 hours
  • Store the bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week

 

 

 

Travel Back In Time: Growing Up NYC during the 80’s and 90’s

Apache and I have watched NYC transform and not only in the way of new business approaches but also the culture which I would say is more of a feeling, or something intangible that is hard to put into words for me, but i will try.

Back In The Day

As a child I remember the trains covered in graffiti, litter and housing the homeless.  It seemed lighting was less bright back then and I didn’t think it was good or bad –it just was.

Now I look back on that time never to be returned and it gives me a sense of nostalgia of the music we listened to, how family and friends spent time together and the way we were all living.  I will jump around time periods a bit and all around the city here but it is how the various memories appear, intertwine and flow through my mind.
Photo by Katsu Naito / 6sqft.com /Harlem Kids in the early 80’s

There were so many abandoned buildings for a long time that later became crack houses.

Photo by Matt Weber/ Times Square 1990
Photo by Mitch o’ Connell /1991 Times Square

I remember con artists having fun with large groups of people surrounding them in Midtown Manhattan while they flipped cards or cups and moved money around until the player found theirs gone.  It was common place to see young b-boys and girls doing head spins on card board boxes revolving and performing hip hop acrobatics in the street, sometimes for money, with a big boom box radio that played cassette tapes blasting beats that will stay embedded in my being for the remainder of my life.

Photo from Pinterest /Kids Break-Dancing on a cardboard box in 1980’s NYC

I remember going with my mom to her friend’s or my uncle’s house parties and hanging out with their kids in the back rooms while soulful music from the 70’s & 80’s filled the air well into the late evening hours.

I remember 125st always busy and bustling, a hub for black pride and culture. There was a place called The 125st Mart which was like a mall where vendors rented out spaces to sell stuff like African fabrics, baseball hats, jewelry and fake model management. Outside gold jewelry shops, bean pies, Jamaican beef patties and African hair braiding salons were popular.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Photo by Thomas Monaster/ nydailynews.com / Indoor vendor at Mart 125 during the 90s

On 125th st, the Apollo Theater has survived . As kids, my brother and I got into the theater via “Showtime at the Apollo” on tv.  This theater has held it’s ground since 1934, launching countless African-American performers into worldwide stardom.  Another generational Harlem staple that was a part of our childhood, that still stands today is Sylvia’s Restaurant where you can get authentic, home-style traditional soul food. Unfortunately, our beloved Copeland’s Restaurant, where we ate every year to celebrate my brother and Aunt Cora’s birthday has since shut down.

In the early 90’s, I remember 125th street lined with entrepreneurs selling oils and natural skin care products. Every corner sold something bootleg from movies to CDs, mix-tapes or women’s purses. There were T-shirts with the latest pop culture icons printed on the front and really whatever you could imagine at low prices.  I always had a good time when I would leave High School with my girlfriends Corris, Jeannine, Geale and Yvonne to hang out there and we knew we all had each other’s back because that’s the way it was.

I always wanted a pair of big gold door knocker earrings like the group Salt N Pepa had but was not allowed because 1) my mother didn’t want me thinking I was grown and 2) she didn’t want me getting ripped off by some crazy crack head or possibly a group of teenagers which would happen to people all the time.

A. Philip Randolph High School stairwell pic with my friends! We had a running 5-way diary!

I remember the East Village being a part of NY that embraced art, creativity and individuality and I fell in love with this place. Window shopping here with my friend Berni would be a frequent plan because lawd knows we were not buying a thing. We were feeling so grown but didn’t have anything but what our parents gave us which was possibly train money and enough for a cheap meal.

Greenwich Village which borders East Village was a great place to people watch (not cell phone watch) in Washington Square Park, a lot of times there were street performers there.  There were so many unique and unapologetic fashion approaches to admire, eccentric shops, great food which at that time was a $1 slice of pizza and a soda cause that was the budget- thank the heavens that’s one thing that has not changed, you can still get a perfect $1 pizza in NYC (praise hands a flyin).

Photo from wirednewyork.com /Washington Square Park in NY

Growing up in NYC 80s and 90s

When I was very young, maybe 7 years old it had been the harmless elderly winos who had given up on their lives long ago and resigned to their daily group gatherings along our streets in Washington Heights (a neighborhood in Manhattan that is bordered by Harlem). Over time, most of them were replaced with red lid crack viles sprinkled around our elementary school yard grounds in the late 80’s.

People became possessed by the new drug crack cocaine and would do literally anything to get it. Our neighbor was killed in the train station for his wallet, one block away from home after he had gotten off from a long day of work.

 As a teenager, I remember stepping off that 1 train on Broadway many days walking stiffly past the first group of drug dealers that alternated between hissing and yelling “Flaca!” at me daily as I strode on by up to my block which was Amsterdam. Nodding at the second group of old timer drug dealers that were around my Moms age and some of whom went to school with her and her brother so looked out for us (my brother Wesley and I).  And then, last but not least, the third pack of new young dealers (who at least did not harass me, probably because of the older group that stood watch across the street). The new, younger dealers stood right on our stoop and we all had to get through them every day in order to enter or exit my building- Fun Times.

Wesley and I in our apartment 469 W. 157st

Once as kids, Wesley and I hit the ground to avoid flying bullets and listened to them often from our apartment- I think I was always in a bit of denial as I would always say “I think those are fire crackers.”  And then there was the time my brother and I once watched a man get shot down in the middle of a cold, dark, quiet winter night.  His body lay still in the snow with only a dim street lamp light to witness his ascent besides our young peering eyes from mom’s bedroom window. This would not be the only body we have seen crossing over on a NYC street.

Sitting out on my fire escape talking to my girlfriends on the phone watching all the movement on the block with my bird’s eye view, from the 5th floor feeling safe and serene up there, way up high.

My early morning view from our 5th floor apartment building 469 W. 157st /1991

This was a community with love and also strife and struggle.  If you have ever seen the movie “Juice” screenplay by Ernest Dickerson, and Gerard Brown it was filmed in our neighborhood, and also in my high school A. Philip Randolph located in Harlem and is a depiction of our teenage era in that place and time period.

The beloved bodegas still stand- Hispanic corner stores where you can get a heavy NY Latin accent served with any grocery you need. They usually had their music playing and sometimes also sold food native to their country, both of which I absolutely love.

Bodega photo by Jake Davis/ airshipdaily.com

Try a bodega bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a roll, unlike any other bacon, egg and cheese sandwich you will ever taste in your life! The bacon, egg and cheese on a roll is rich with flavor probably because its cooked on some grill in some old yummy bacon grease that has also been used to cook some other yummy foods (I dunno what they put in it, just guessing). This sandwich use to be a favorite hang over breakfast as a young adult.

Our apartment building was passed down in our family 3 generations so we had reduced rent. This building is an antique, reported as built in 1900 on apartmenthomeliving.com   My brother and I were intrigued with the old antiques we would find around the apartment. I owned a large antique vanity and old typewriter- both of which i knew were precious, passed down from my Great Grandmother Nanny.

My brother Wesley and I across the street from our apartment building- 1980’s

In our apartment, I knew where every old floor board creak was and learned how to tip toe around them in order to not make a sound and was proud of this skill. Things were made to last back then and our apartment building was no exception, old as she could be.

The rooms were very large and I really loved mine – it was a sanctuary where I’d journal my heart and soul out. The spaciousness in my bedroom allowed me to turn it into my Barbie doll’s wonderland as a child and also my own personal dance floor.  It was a dreamer’s escape.

We painted over the cracks in the walls which would quickly return reminding us of the buildings age.

My bedroom window faced a abandoned old house (at least 100 years old) squeezed between our and another apartment building. This used to be the home of young Sidney Poitier and his family. Rumor in my family is that the young Mr. Poitier was in love with my grandmother. No one would be surprised at that if they knew my grandmother (pic below). She was gorgeous inside and out.

Our Grandparents Norbeta & Casper Greshaw on mother’s side.
Sidney Poitier

Pigeons lived between my window sill and that broken old house that I continually tried to get my friend to move into when she would feud with her mother- why did I think this was a good idea? –it could be an adventure! lmao I think I watched “The Goonies,” “The Never Ending Story,” “The Wiz,””The Dark Crystal,””Legend” and other old adventure movies one too many times, which distorted my perceptions just a little bit!  Sometimes I lived in somewhat of a fantasy land in my head, sure that one day my brother and I would escape to find a magical land with fairies in an alternate reality.

The people who lived in my building were either really hard working like our mother who had the night shift at the Post office or they were older retired folk.

Mom in the 80’s at the NYC Post Office

My building was full of good loving people, one of which was our babysitter for a time, Mrs. Grieves (who taught Wesley and I how to make omelets). Mrs. Grieves was pleasantly plump, a retired fair complexioned old woman with a nicely shaped poof of reddish-brown hair and a kind smile that held spaces for teeth that used to live there.

Then, there was Linda who was on the short side but stood with an erect posture, shoulders back, serious face and was not to be messed with- One thing I knew was how a person carried themselves could dictate their chances of being vulnerable to this environment.  Linda once threw boiling water out the window for the dealers below in an attempt to show her disgust and annoyance.

Mabel lived across the hall, she would sometimes keep my brother Wesley and I before school and we would watch our favorite cartoons (GI Joe and Transformers for Wesley and I waited patiently for JEM) on her plastic covered couch.  My mom grew up with Mabel’s daughters. Mabel actually was present when my mother’s water broke, with me, anxious to come busting out into this world cause I thought I had a lot of things to do! lol

 There was that poor older man that lived downstairs who must not have had anyone. We came to this conclusion because there was a progressively thickening stench of rotting flesh that filled our hallways over a period of weeks that we came to find out was that nice older man’s carcass.

NYC would get so hot and sticky in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, REAL snow blizzards…. Once Wesley and I walked from 92nd st. to 157st because the snow was so bad the buses stopped running.

The diversity in NYC is sweet.  I went to Junior High in downtown Manhattan where I literally had a friend from every part of the world!

6th grade friend from China
8th grade graduation from I.S. 44 Junior High

I had my two close friends (both from my neighborhood) one of which was from Trinidad and the other half Irish and half Puerto Rican in Junior High. Before that, I also had friends from Hungry, Africa, India, China, and the Dominican Republic.

It was really exciting for me to have friends from all over the world because I could ask them a million questions about what life was like for them in their native countries, learn about their customs, food and dream of traveling there.

NYC is loved for her diversity, creativity, culture and sometimes the challenge. The city is fast moving, quick talking, upfront and boisterous. Taking the good with the bad from it all has sculpted me and I believe some character.

Loud, bumping, vibrating music would seem to come out of the thin air right into our apartment. Either salsa, Afro-Caribbean or the latest Hip Hop tunes would come stomping through our window panes from either overly impressive rides with the best speakers money could buy or from old clunkers with way too much reverb where all you could hear was an awful  vibrating sound.  Depending on the car, I either danced and sang along or I covered my ears wondering why in the hell the driver thought they were entertaining anybody with that jacked up sound system.  Other popular city sounds would be frequent fire truck, police car or paramedic sirens.

Apache and I hung out in the early 90s in a old pool hall in midtown Manhattan with my brother, sometimes also my uncle Lee and sometimes one or two other female friends.  Mostly the group was comprised of a large pack of dudes we had met in NY.

There was a little music shop where records and mix tapes were sold and a DJ would be playing whatever the newest hit was.  I remember being so excited when a DJ at “Disc-o-Rama”  handed us Biggie’s “Ready To Die” LP on vinyl for free “promotional use only”on one of those nights.

There were still big shopping department stores and even a mall (Manhattan Mall) but it definitely did not have all the big screens, virtual reality images and cameras everywhere, as well as us InstaGramers running around in ultra trendy fashions looking for perfect social media backdrops.  It was just a different time.

In the pool hall in Midtown Manhattan in the 90s, we had a smaller group this night.

This is the one and only photo i have of our pool hall days. We wore over sized jeans, Timberland boots, jerseys and we were immersed in Hip-Hop/Reggae culture.

I always felt honored to be standing in the cypher (in the Urban Dictionary it is defined as “Anything cyclical”).  We were a group of people in a circle. As a Hip-Hop connoisseur of sorts, i got to appreciate up close and personal the Wordsmiths/lyricists that bounced profound and complicated rhymes back and forth between one another, somebody beat-boxing with their mouth while others in the circle took turns challenging one another in a way that encouraged as opposed to battle rhyming in this particular group.

For some reason, I knew I  was standing in a special place, in a very special time and never took this for granted.  I felt like a Queen in this group because i was embraced as a member and always treated with respect. We just wanted to congregate, talk endlessly about the end of the world or how the elite class was planning world domination via media confusion and technology while enjoying each others company- which also sometimes included long vomit sessions in  dirty bathrooms from drinking one too many 40 oz.(beer bottles).

As the sun went down, the streets were getting a little rougher and desperate as the day shoppers and corporate workers went home.  There were other groups of people in the pool hall as well who were doing cocaine and hookers doing more than that downstairs in the same building. This was the the 90’s, midtown, NYC.

Photo from Pinterest /Midtown Manhattan mid 90s

We had pay phones (which cost a quarter to make a phone call) on most streets and during this time beepers were becoming increasingly popular although i never had a need for one.

Today midtown looks like manic, consumer mania which is entertaining for a short while and then exhausting after that. Although, everyone should get to experience the energy there at least once in their life- especially since we don’t know how long this will last since online shopping is now taking over.

Photo from Pinterest

Today my old neighborhood of Washington Heights and Harlem are continually evolving so they look and feel some different. With remnants of the old there is also plentiful new as these areas are being gentrified.  I appreciate the decrease in crime and opportunities to enjoy the neighborhoods new small businesses.  There are more cafes, joggers, boutiques, modern and eclectic new lounges. At the same time,  it is sad to see people who love and call Harlem their home being forced to leave because they cannot afford the cost of living here anymore.

 I am grateful for growing up in my neighborhood because it contributed to who I am today. Whatever I have in my possession is valued. Luxuries are not taken for granted. Being wasteful is not okay with me and i avoid it as much as possible.

Lower income neighborhoods, although not always pretty, are home to intelligent, hard working adults who try their best to raise their families, and talented kids as well. Often, criminals,as irritating as they can be, are people that have been abused or neglected themselves. Some may be misguided, thinking they have no other choices at all.

My mother used to tell me that many of the older corner people she had known from childhood had never left the block. I wonder where they are today. Can you imagine never leaving the block you grew up on when the world is so big?

The 1 train was only a block away. I could see something different, get another perspective, go to a museum, or get to Grand Central Station which could take me even further. Conditioning had many people probably afraid they wouldn’t fit in any other place in the world.

 As a child I would dream about world travel. Leaving was a possibility to me because my mother made efforts to get us off the block to see what was going on elsewhere. We went Ice skating in Central Park, for bike rides on Riverside drive along the Hudson River, far up into the mountains for the summers and other trips out of the city.

There is a feeling of gratitude, carried within my heart for the journey, the whole picture which is the past and now my experience. This is a tiny piece of my story about growing up in old NYC which I felt compelled to share. Talking about what’s new doesn’t feel balanced without sharing a bit on what came before.

Thoughts of how many lives we have lived in this one with wonders of how many more are yet to come…… – Nikia Mason Knapp

Easy Outfit Ideas for Couples

Statement pieces for men selected by Apache.

I have never seen a blog that addresses easy outfit ideas for couples.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I prefer to think this is an original idea!  We are obviously a couple that enjoys fashion together and i’m sure there are more of you out there, so we are gonna talk a little about his and also hers.

Our appreciation for style has gifted us many fun memories over the years.  As a couple, we have enjoyed browsing boutiques together, picking out outfits, trying them on for one another, and then getting all dressed up for dates feeling so fresh and so clean. Ultimately confidence can make or break any outfit.

Do we shop all the time?  Hell no, our last name is not Kardashian!  We aint rich…yet…. and we are not shopaholics either. We would rather not be in debt over clothing- been there and done that already. Instead, the medical and college bills are the reigning King and Queen of our debt and sufficient at holding the current Golden Debt title without any help from us making UN-budgeted clothing purchases!

Apache and I both take really good care of what we have so our clothes and accessories literally have lasted decades. Plus, our mom Regina spoils us with apparel every chance she gets. When you take loving care of your clothes and respect what you have,  most things can recycle, continuing to stay a relevant piece for you.  Also, if you choose items that cater to your personal style and fit well as opposed to simply following trends you will always look great.

Here are some easy tips for how to make 3 different looks from just 1 outfit for men and women.

Her Easy Outfit Ideas

An easy foundation

Choose a solid color dress or closely related colors for your foundation (dress or top and bottom). For me, black is always classic and one of my favorite colors because of its versatility. If I feel dark I can express it with black or I can show a fun colorful side by adding a bright scarf.

Look # 1 This is what i call a multipurpose outfit!

Begin to accessorize

Every woman should have a basic black dress.  A simple, well fitting black dress can go a long way.  First of all you can just wear it alone with sneakers or high heels right?  This is a no-brainer dress it up or down item. Realizing it might get a little chilly, I added another layer, black leggings.

Transition one outfit  into 3 different looks via accessories! I decided to get  funky with this thrift shop grey suede vest. Playing on the red vest beading, red jewelry is an easy choice .

Look #2 Found this cool suede vest in a thrift shop!

Considering makeup as an accessory, increase the loudness with a bold lipstick or tone it down with a nude. A mash up of a bold lipstick with the casual aspect of a black bandanna and Adidas sneakers worked for our date night. We went to dinner, a show and then out to dance.

The next two looks i’m giving are just me having fun with accessories. Bring on the lace accessory jacket, hat, sunglasses, jewelry switch ups and makeup.

Look #3 Just grab an accessory jacket and a great hat!

Music can be a really fun motivator when experimenting with different looks. The goal is just to feel good and confident in what you are wearing. If you have trouble with mixing and matching, get a perfect black dress or another solid color that you love to create multiple looks with.

When in doubt, accessorize- just my opinion.

Makeup and jewelry can go a long way. You could wear the same outfit several times in the year feeling brand new each time by simply changing a few small details.

His Easy Outfit Ideas

Apache was able to pull off his 3 looks with one outfit so seamlessly. He transitioned into 3 different looks ranging from dressy to stylish-casual by switching up accessories, and then simply by how he wore the top.

Accessorize yo man

If you are a female reading, get some great gift ideas for your man’s birthday or father’s day from Apache.

I love Apache’s reserved look with suspenders and bow tie.  As Apache mentioned in the video, he has found many unique neck ties in thrift shops and Goodwill stores so don’t feel pressed to press your pockets all the time.

Look # 1 Vintage neck ties can be found in thrift shops for best prices 

Man jewelry looks great in my opinion. Apache loves Native American jewelry as well as leather cuffs and Kangol hats.

Same outfit worn differently

Create a more laid back look without changing the pant or top. Simply  open the tie and let it hang around your neck, open a few buttons and maybe add some shades!

Look #2 A laid back approach.

If your clothing options are minimal, we have been there before. Try using accessories to give yourself a fresh new look!

Look #3  Did we mention that we both love rocking Adidas?

“Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself” – Oscar de la Renta

 

 

Charlotte Fashion on Your Budget $25 to $1000+

Red GUESS high heel for you? Found this in the Goodwill Boutique.

Seek out eyeball catchers on your budget, be it $25 or over $1000. It’s not hard to find fashion in Charlotte, NC and neither is finding it at various price ranges. Apache and I set out to see what we could find on the south side of Charlotte. Even with my sinus infection, it was so much fun playing dress up and keeping track of price tags so you can decide for yourself where your dollars should fly.

A cute outfit found in Anthropologie at Atherton Mill.

We explored four very different stores, all within a 5 mile radius of one another. Here are a few spots where you can find an outfit or accessory that will garner compliments wherever you go within your price range.

Fashion Budget $25-$30

Goodwill Boutique – Location: 3609 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28209

Goodwill Boutique accessories

Yes, there is a such thing as a Goodwill Boutique! We have never heard of one before this little excursion. The front counter employee described the difference between a Goodwill Boutique and typically seen Goodwill stores as carrying more notable name brand clothes including GAP, Lululemon, GUESS, Kate Spade alongside typical brands you may find in a Goodwill like Old Navy and other lower priced brands.

Check out these adorable boots for $14.99! You can definitely get lucky here on the right day.

Scanning the style set up of this establishment, clothing is generally grouped in color blocks. I did see more effort made aesthetically with presentation of decor and less clutter. In a pinch and on the right day someone could get really lucky in here. Prices are the same as any other Goodwill store. You could get an entire outfit including shoes and accessories for $25 or less.

You can’t beat $5.99 for a cute little Spring/Summer romper with happy colors.
This is the best Goodwill store presentation that we have seen so far.
Never seen a Goodwill store looking this neat and decorated. Great job Goodwill Boutique!

Fashion Budget $35-$120

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall Location: 4450 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209

Welcome to the world of Sleepy Poet!
There is so much more to explore in Sleepy Poet between fashion finds.

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall may be a less obvious choice for finding Charlotte fashion. Wandering around Sleepy Poet is like being on a really fun treasure hunt. At the very least, you could find a cool vintage dress for $35.  Sleepy Poet houses anything from casual 80’s styles to timeless vintage statement accessories, offering clothing options at a variety of price ranges.

Apache says Sleepy Poet has the best vinyl selection and display he’s seen in Charlotte so far.
Does anyone else have a thing for boxes and chest’s? This one reminds me of something i might find in an enchanted forest- always been meaning to go there!
Home decor anyone? This color reminds me of royalty.
Your going to find vintage novelties here. Some may remind you of your childhood days.

High style, quality apparel holding stories from another era, could cost anywhere between $35+ – $120.

This is our favorite stop because it always feels like we are on a journey back in time. Plus, Apache and I have a shared predilection toward vintage clothing’s craftsmanship that we feel is not as accessible in american clothing establishments today.

I am particularly interested in quality footwear because of my personal feet issues. These are from the of 19th century when women had to do a lot more walking, making the low heel a practical option. She could maintain a feminine style with the narrow shape and attractive lace up front. The style of my maroon Pikolinos are very similar to these and are easy to wear with jeans or a dress.
Here is the $35 cocktail dress from the 1960’s that i found. It pairs well with my Pikolinos boots.
Apache found this vintage tweed sports coat for about $30 in mint condition. We think this is a great deal for a jacket made of woolen fabric that can stand up well to abrasive weather.

21st Century fashion is giving us a kaleidoscope of time period styles to pull inspiration from. We get to escort past generation ideas into the future for a fresh approach to create a new, fun and very personalized look.

I would love to accessorize this cocktail dress with my black floppy hat and  maroon fringe purse.

Fashion Budget $60-$300

Anthropologie – Location: Atherton Mill, 2000 South Blvd, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC, 28203

When we first moved to Charlotte we found Anthropologie in the SouthPark mall. It was a whole experience from the woods floors, to the scented air, very classy looking boho styles and ambiance with artsy but not overstated looking home decor (which my heart still skips a beat for).

This is my bed frame, they made it just for me, yup, it’s mine. I love to play make-believe in this section of the store!
Their store displays and fronts always give a refreshing, unique and warm ambiance. The creativity in this area is usually exciting for me.

This store appealed to how i saw myself as a maturing, creative person with desire to avoid overly trendy looks. Back in the day there was some drool to catch over their online selections. Lately the online selections are falling into my  mental “nice” or “cute”category, I recommend they hire Apache to help in this area! Although the Atherton Mill store was lovely, I believe the SouthPark mall location has more exciting selections to choose from.

Apache and I both can appreciate the sprinkles of rustic flavored decor around Anthropolgie.

If you want something special without the $200 price tag, check out their sale room where u can always get a great discount on a dress or the perfect skirt. They carry small to plus sizes which i appreciate having worn everything from small to large myself. Consideration for all of us is a plus in my eyes.

This dress could easily be layered on cooler days and transition well into the spring with sandals.

Fashion Budget $450- $1000+

Capitol – Location: 4010 Sharon rd., Charlotte, NC, 28211

The quintessential high end fashion boutique,Capitol, requires you ring a doorbell to be allowed into this otherwise locked establishment.

Understandably, majority of their merchandise costs climb from $1000 past $3000 with brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Gucci among others.

If you are on a budget, you’ll be better off waiting until the end of each sale period Capitol gives twice a year.

Solid salmon colored drapery seemed to spill from the high dressing room ceiling. Quality fabrics don’t lie, when i put this Carolina Herrera dress on, I felt like a million dollars. In a quick glance of myself in their full wall mirror, the word luxurious came to mind.

This Carolina Herrera dress felt durable and handmade with care, thus the $1000+ price tag. Sturdy in it’s construction and adorned with miniature raised flower stitching’s, this white dress could even pass for a cotton trench coat

Two younger employees hovered around us with elevator eyes (maybe they just liked our outfits?) and a parade of questions. However, experiencing the feel of this dress on my body with the backdrop of a dressing room fit for the Queen of England made the visit worthwhile!

Found an end of sale item. The cost had come down from approx $1000 to a $300 something price tag.

We have an appreciation for beauty, what can I say? Apache loves the botanical wall in Capitol’s courtyard which i missed because i was too busy scanning the merchandise. If you go, make sure not to miss it.

Capitol stimulated my imagination, faint fantasies of shopping without a budget gently swirled around my subconscious receptors that evening-sweet dreams!

Check out our IG TV of this day here.

Businesses Empowering Communities Across the United States

Locate businesses with heart from a small town in upstate New York to an expansive, abundantly green city in Oregon, empowering communities across the United States. Passion for serving others and improving the life trajectory for either those living on the fringes of society or young impressionable minds who will determine the direction of the future is what fuels their momentum forward.

Hopewell,New York

Unshattered thrives in Hopewell,NY, where creative artisan skills produce economic independence as 100% of proceeds goes toward creating employment. Incorporated in 2016, Unshattered is a nonprofit retail shop specializing in creation of a diverse line of bags and accessories, handcrafted using repurposed material by women survivors of addiction.

Dee Dee, born in prison but now an accomplished seamstress who has spoken at the White House, sewing a label on a bag she made. Photo courtesy of Unshattered

Each bag keeps 3 secrets. One, on the inside liner, where it cannot be seen, is a message of good intention from it’s artist which could be a prayer for the future bag owner, a verse or possibly her number of days in sobriety. Two, each bag is named for someone who is still tethered to addiction, and whom is prayed for during the bag’s creation.  Secret number three, the use of gold thread in assent with Kintsugi, the Japanese art form that uses gold lacquer to repair breaks in an object, viewing breaks as part of the object’s history and more beautiful because of them, similar to the women of Unshattered.

The mission is received with open arms. Sewing new beginnings in the town of Hopewell, Kelly Lyndgaard, CEO and founder of Unshattered shares,”Our community has been incredible in supporting our women as they come out of recovery programs through shopping, donating, and helping the women economically so they can maintain their sobriety. In 3 1/2 years of providing full time employment for women in recovery, we have not had one relapse.”

Black Mountain,NC

The LEAF festival, a nonprofit organization is held amidst rejuvenating fresh air and the unyielding, calm of Black Mountain for a long weekend of cultural exchange, celebrating diversity and raising money for their community youth art and cultural awareness programs.

Inclusivity is priority, Marsha Almodavar, of LEAF Community Engagement shares “At LEAF we have a few signature programs that provide access to music and art education to underrepresented and under-resourced communities” including LEAF and Streets and ULEAF among others.

Community children become global citizens, learning more about their own heritage as well as “Through year-round programs and week-long residencies, LEAF offers the opportunity for students to explore different art forms from around the world” says Erinn Hartley, LEAF education Director.

Chicago,IL

Inspiration Kitchens dishes out delectable dining to it’s patrons, but also a free 12 week training program to earn certification as a food handler, and sanitation manager for applicants in need to address poverty and homelessness in Chicago.

Food service training program. Photo courtesy of Inspiration Kitchens

Life transformation sometimes comes in the form of Sticky Bread, Shrimp and Grits,Gumbo or even the Impossible Burger as employees enter what Colin Higgins, Grant Writer for Inspiration Corporation, parent organization to Inspiration Kitchens calls “a growing industry that has opportunity for advancement to really begin a sustainable career.”

In an effort to reduce the risk of recidivism and relapse, Inspiration Kitchens provide uniforms, cover costs of certifications and provide transportation assistance. Colin adds, “It tends to be a good fit for folks who have multiple barriers going against them”

Obliterating socioeconomic barriers with each meal prepared, Inspiration Kitchens has placed over 650 graduates in culinary jobs to date.

Nashville, TN

Nashville’s Thistle Farms is a local, national and global nonprofit social enterprise ardent in it’s mission to heal and create financial independence for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction.

Thistle Farms natural Bath and Body products. Photo by Nikia Knapp

Using essential oils and natural ingredients, bath and body products and soy candles are handmade by survivors to support themselves and bring more women off the streets.

Enjoy healthful eats or treats at The Cafe at Thistle Farms or meaningful spending in The Shop at Thistle Farms. Proceeds supply food,shelter,therapy, healthcare, job training and employment. Doris Walker-Taylor, survivor and now Director of Events at Thistle Farms shares “They give us everything we need to become whole again.”

Portland, Oregon

Central City Coffee, a nonprofit business warming bodies and hearts in Portland,Oregon with their high end, women’s empowerment branded coffee.

Central City Coffee bags Photo by Karen Lickteig

With each bag of coffee sold, Central City Coffee helps formerly homeless mothers gain soft and hard job skills that build self confidence as they become productive members of their community. It’s mother corporation, Central City Concern, supports women with housing and services as they transition to independent living.

Mother’s can gain experience in marketing, customer service, invoicing, office operations and everything there is to know about the coffee business. Sarah Porter, Business Director for Central City Coffee adds “They are amazing people working really hard to put their lives together and learn new skills.

Across the United States, businesses transcend obstacles,empower people and make impactful strides in their communities, one bag, one festival, one meal, one candle, and one cup of coffee at a time.

” At the core, we are manifestations of divinity.” ~ Herb K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to do and places to eat off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops

Our first day on the LYNX!

The light rail had me curious, but I never had a reason to ride because I have a car.  The Lynx Blue Line opened for business in 2007 and here we are in 2019 riding it for the first time. We moved to Charlotte in 2006.

Sleek design ,smooth ride on the LYNX Blue Line

This is a perfect example of how blogging and vlogging gets us doing things we might not normally do.  If we weren’t busy being content creator’s we probably would never have given it a try.  I’m really glad we did though because it turned out to be a really cool ride, a mini Charlotte exploration adventure.

Now we get to share places to go and things to do off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops!

You can purchase your ticket from the vending machine at the station or use the CATS pass App

I actually rode the LYNX twice.  The first ride was with Apache for our vlog day date.  My second ride was during rush hour just to see what it was like.  I wanted to take in the experience of riding with the commuters.

There are currently 11 LYNX Blue Line Park & Ride locations. Which Park & Ride locations are free?  Two out of the eleven will charge a $10 fee if an all-day pass (which means you can ride the train back and forth as many times as you like for $6.60) or a pass of higher value is not purchased.

The two stations that currently charge are the JW Clay Station and University City Blvd. All of the other Park & Ride lots are free.  The stops that have a Park & Ride deck have a on the Lynx Blue Line map so they are easy to find.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops, I want to share about my commuter experience.

I was definitely feeling the free parking available at the I-485/South Blvd station, it made me feel so welcome!

The Commuter Experience

After parking in the outdoor lot, I followed a group of people moving with a steady intentional pace toward the train.

There were two long stairways leading up to the train. I wasn’t sure if it made any difference which I took so I asked this young girl in route (who looked like a high school student to me, but since she was catching the train I guessed, maybe college). She smiled and informed me that she was headed to work (so now I’m thinking it’s just because of my age that she looks like a baby to me). She told me it didn’t make a difference which flight of stairs I took, “they both lead to the same place.” I followed her to the indoor parking deck across the street to take the elevator up instead.

Apache looks like a LYNX commuter here.

During rush hour everyone seemed calm. The station was very clean and quiet. Surprisingly, there was enough seating for everyone that got on the train.  If I had the choice, I would choose this easy-going train ride over driving in Charlotte’s new nerve-racking traffic any day.

There were only two stops left before I had to get off, my bladder was beginning to make some serious demands on me. I’m sure if I was in my 20s this wouldn’t have been an issue- sigh.

During rush hour periods the LYNX arrives about every 10min

A entire one-way trip took 50 minutes. I simply got off, walked to the other side and rode back to my car. Easy-Peasy!

The temperature on the Blue Line was mild. It was a smooth ride with each stop announced before-hand. This ride would make a perfect time to catch up on some reading or writing.  If you are gonna be hanging out all night visiting different spots near the LYNX, take the light rail back and forth and skip the driving. Who wants to have to look for parking or pay for parking if they don’t have to? ugh.

Now on to the juicy part. Here are a few places we have visited or plan to visit off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops. All locations listed are within walking distance from the light rail. Try them out for yourself. Let us know what you think about any of the locations mentioned.

Things To Do & Places To Eat

Woodlawn

The Woodlawn and Scaleybark stations are in Mountclaire South/Lower South End.

To Do:

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall– We both appreciate antiques and love vintage clothing and this mall has both! This is a multi-level mall with over 80 dealers. I know we will be enchanted for hours wandering around this mall. We are currently planning a day date to go check it out.

Pexels

Scaleybark

To Do:

Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen– This cooking class sounds like it would make a fun date, girl’s night out or even a solo night out. Learn some new culinary skills. This is definitely on our To Do list!

East/West Blvd Station

This stop is in the South End neighborhood.

Eat/Drink:

Pikes has some delicious American diner style food

Pikes Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Dining out at Pikes Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Superica Tex-Mex Cuisine at it’s best. Superica has become our favorite Mexican food spot. Just thinking about those in-house made chips, perfectly salted…their variety of chip dips that have me singing “oh my God” after each bite, the Margaritas (crying now), the Appetizers are crazy. We had appetizers for dinner and left completely satisfied and wishing we had more money and space in our bellies so we could continue. We enjoyed watching Lady and The Tramp on their xtra-large screen as we happily stuffed our faces. I have checked with others to see if they had the same experience and the feelings were mutual.

Hawkers Asian Street Fare

Hawkers comes highly recommended by friends for street vendor recipes from Asia .

Sunflower Baking Company

Dilworth Tasting Room

Stonewall Station

Stonewall through 9th is considered Uptown

To Do:

The Mint Museum

 The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts +Culture

 The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art 

 Knight Theatre

3rd Street Station/Convention Center

Eat/Drink:

Chima steakhouse–  Brazilian cuisine here-it’s a whole experience!

Chima is expensive but I promise you won’t regret spending a penny. We have been here a couple of times for special occasions and never been disappointed.

The salad bar is super elaborate and the meat is unbelievably good. Expect great service with lots of class. It’s a good idea to starve yourself before going to Chima. You will likely eat a full days worth of calories. Enjoy and don’t forget to wear something loose around the waist!

Charlotte Transportation Center/Arena Station

To Do:

Discovery Place– This is a really colorful and interactive establishment for kids of all ages but also a lot of fun for the adults as well.  We actually went here to play with our family/friends that came to visit from NYC (no small kids at the time only us big ones).

Blumenthal Performing Arts

Spectrum Center

Eat/Drink:

 Sea Level NC -Curious about this place. Apache and I both love seafood and the pics on the website have me salivating and hangry!

7th Street

To Do:

First Ward Park – Apache and I started off at the First Ward Park around 8am. It was abnormally clean first thing in the morning.

Some homeless were still sleeping or just rising from the benches. An older conservative looking male began a rigorous routine using his exercise band and the park equipment. A casual bike rider rode through the spray ground and everything seemed serene on this sun kissed morning.

We did a light workout in First Ward Park -yaay, it’s better than nothing!  First Ward Park has practical stationary equipment available for all your fat burning needs.

First Ward Park is great for walking, biking, chillaxing (made this word up) or exercising!

I love to climb whenever the opportunity arises. Lucky for me it did in the form of dome shaped monkey bars in First Ward Park.

You can climb these monkey ropes as part of your workout or just for fun- we did!

Relaxing after a light First Ward Park workout!

ImaginOn– This library/children’s theatre has something to engage every  adolescent. They have all kinds of programs, classes and theatre productions to inspire imagination and encourage enrichment. We have enjoyed their theatre productions on more than one occasion. Read more about the theatre  here.

Two big kids at ImaginOn in the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Levine Museum of the New South

 Levine Museum of the New South– Levine has educational and powerfully moving exhibits. Make sure to take your family.

McColl Center for Art + Innovation– Artist residency and contemporary art space housed in an antiquated church. We love art and it’s free admission!    

Apache and I were ready to see what’s at the next LYNX stop. We walked across the way to the 7th street station and caught the inbound train to 9th.

At the 9th Street Station.

9th Street

Checking out the 9th street station art work.

Eat/Drink:

Walking to waterbean

Waterbean– The first place we visited on 9th street, a USDA certified organic coffee shop and roastery! Humidity was high outside, the air conditioning in Waterbean was such a relief! Waterbean is bright, and airy. Watch our vlog, you’ll see I tried my very first Mochi Ice Cream here. All I have to say is omgah! And our lives will never be the same again.

Having ice coffee with a passion fruit Mochi ice cream on a hot day in Charlotte! Mochi Ice cream is a soft, cool, sweet surprise.

Imagine your favorite ice cream wrapped in a thin powdery marshmallow! How could this exist? In my head I jumped up and down with excitement for the Passion Fruit flavor option-yaaay!

I wanted to try something new and that’s exactly what I got. The Waterbean coffee was great but the Mochi blew my mind. There are other treats too, like brightly colored macaroons. It was a good spot to wind down in.

Subsecreto We still have to visit this spot because I know they serve espresso in a chocolate-dipped shortbread cup… really that’s all I’m interested in- haha!

9th Street Station

After catching our breath at Waterbean we headed back to our light rail stop where a little hell was breaking loose. Some dude was screaming obscenities while smashing the glass covered booth at the station.

We watched the drama from afar with some cool people from Chicago that just arrived in Charlotte for the DuRag festival. They had been zipping around uptown on the motorized scooters everyone is using these days.

The police arrived quick, scooped up the poor disturbed soul and we proceeded with our vlog.

This happened during our LYNX day date.

Parkwood

Parkwood through Sugar Creek station enters the NODA/Optimist Park/Plaza-Shamrock neighborhoods.

Photo by Komadori Photography

Apache and I love old video games from the 80’s and 90’s so we were excited to play at Abari arcade. Bring on the Donkey Kong!

Don’t go here without your ID!  Photo by Komadori Photography

Entering Abari, a man sitting at a table, obviously unwelcoming us with no hello and no smile. He shared a bothered expression as he told us it was $1 to get in and that we also needed ID because it was a private business. I didn’t have ID so we never got in. I shall stop commentary there. Maybe you will have a better experience.

Photo by Komadori Photography
Beautiful graffiti around the corner from Abari. Possible IG photo spot?
More neighborhood artwork!

Drink:

Birdsong Brewing– Since it was a no go at Abari, we shrugged and ran to enjoy some cold specialty beers at Birdsong Brewing!

Photo by Komadori Photography

Photo by Komadori Photography

Some people brought their dogs in with them which I thought was very cool.  I will take every opportunity to rub down and high-pitch baby talk to any dog!

At Birdsong Brewing Company with Komadori Photography

To Do:

Cordelia Park – This park is 24 acres. We took our family swimming here a couple years ago and had a great time. There is also a full basketball court, walking trails and picnic shelter.

Tompkins Hall-Soon to come will be a ginormous food and retail development in this restored textile mill nearby NODA.  There is expected to be multi-level outdoor patios with a view of the uptown skyline. I’m sure it will be interesting.

36th Street Station

The sun was about to hit its peak and we rode the LYNX to 36th street in NODA.

There used to be amazing art Gallery crawls on the first Friday of every month in NODA which we miss dearly. We still love to meet vendors in the street and art can also be found all around NODA giving the neighborhood lots of personality. Breweries, bars and variety in places to eat are plentiful. There are fun things to do and great people to meet here off the 36th street LYNX stop.

If you follow the bright red banisters downstairs you will find thin pastel colored geometric shapes coming up from the ground. In addition, see a large concrete wall sculpted into 3D shaped blooming flowers! All great spots to take IG photos or just admire.

Eat/Drink:

Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub– This is a European Gastro Pub. The purpose of this day date was to try out some new places. My spicy Bloody Mary here was on point, no complaints there. One meal was enough to feed both of us. Our final consensus was “delish!” This meal is unique to us, a full gourmet meal wrapped in a thin pancake.

There was all kinds of goodness inside this crepe!


Haberdish
– Although very popular, we have not tried this restaurant yet. There was a line outside the door.

Cabo Fish Taco–  We love their tacos! Their lemon-grilled shrimp tacos are my favorite with a salted Margarita!

At Cabo Fish Taco

NODA Company Store

Smelly Cat Coffeehouse &Roastery– This place is a dope chill spot. It appeals to us for the laid-back ambiance and great coffee. Smelly Cat has seasonal comfort food, breakfast food and a fully stocked cocktail bar- say what?!

To Do:

After you finish your meal, roll yourself down the block to see a show!

The Evening Muse– Casual bar and live music in an intimate setting

The Neighborhood Theatre– Live music venue

Go boutique browsing….

Pura Vida– A cultural gifts store we were grateful to find when we first arrived to this city. This boutique is a breath of fresh air bringing in multi-ethnic merchandise and art from all around the world! I purchased my most favorite bracelet here!

ShopBartique– Enjoy a cocktail or beer while you shop Boho-chic designs for men and women! The owners Estelle and Steve have big hearts and fun personalities, tell them we sent you!

Shop Bartique
Shop Bartique top and cool Disco ring
Apache getting a creative angle in Shop Bartique.
Lovely boutique finds in Shop Bartique
Had to try this one on!

We love how Charlotte invited local artists to get in on making the LYNX Blue Line train stops beautiful.

Blooming flowers at the 36th street station

The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. ~ Richard Bach

The Most Important Travel Destination in Nashville, TN

There’s a place in Nashville, TN that is a social phenomenon.  I don’t believe enough people know of this treasure trove.  I’m not seeing this location on the list of Googled “Top 10 places to visit in Nashville.” We went, had the most profound experience, and decided, Thistle Farms is the most important travel destination in Nashville, TN.

Nashville, TN is a tourism city noted for having a long history being founded in 1779. Tourist frequently arrive eager to enjoy local venues that provide live music daily, learn more about country music history and visit historical landmarks. This was my second visit to Nashville. On my first visit i went with friends. We enjoyed the party ambiance and a taste of the country music scene on Music Row which was fun.

The journey back to Nashville with Apache had our hearts leading the entire way. This time we went to visit the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN.

Anticipating our arrival to Thistle Farms…

This visit was a full circle spiritual uniting with Thistle Farms for me.  About 6 years ago Apache and I walked into a boutique in North Carolina and picked up one of their products for the first time.

My eyes gravitated toward the jar of body butter wrapped in a royal purple label with bright yellow lettering. Was it the color choices that got my attention to pick up that butter or possibly God? Out of curiosity i pivoted that jar around to see exactly what the product was made of.  It read…. “This product was handmade by survivors of prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Every product bears witness that love is the most powerful force for change in the world.”

Thistle Farms is in my home and heart. Every time i apply the body butter i can feel my skin being nourished and protected. It has been perfect throughout harsh winters. Using this product also makes me feel connected to the women who created it.

What I read changed my facial expression from curiosity to a waterfall of tears. A fire awakened in me for every person that has ever suffered the experience of sexual abuse.

In addition, I saw their hands in this product, healing, rebuilding and gaining strength together all in this little 8oz  jar of lavender body butter.

These survivors have experienced unimaginable cruelty in this world. Because of unconditional love and the support of Thistle Farms as a rope of hope, they have not allowed the past and it’s monsters to dictate how the rest of their lives will look. Thistle Farmers come together to create a powerful trajectory for the future!

I  purchase the body butter and want to be more connected. Six years ago i put their postcard up on my bathroom wall that states “Love Heals Every Body” and because of their demonstration, i have to believe that.

Meet Becca Stevens, author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Fast forward to today…. we are now YouTube vloggers and I am a blogger.  Apache and I purchased tickets for an event in Memphis, TN.  It occurred to us that we may have seen that Thistle Farms was located in Tennessee. We checked it out and sure enough their home base is located right off route 40 which we would be travelling on.

A candle light that represents hope.

When Thistle Farms agreed to let us develop this content for them it felt like a divine intervention. Our gratitude is just in being able to learn more, connect with these survivors and spread the word of their mission.

Music is known to speak to the spirit. Dorris Walker-Turner shares how she used song to keep her spirit up and to help her remember all of the products she would be selling when she began employment at Thistle Farms.

What makes Thistle Farms an important travel destination?

Thistle Farmers

Thistle Farmers AKA the community of women you will meet at Thistle Farms are extraordinary.  They are what makes Thistle Farms the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN. As human beings we naturally gravitate toward where the good energy is.

Doris Walker-Turner, Magdalene graduate & Director of Events shares her powerful story and soulful songs of gratitude with us.

When we travel we always hope that the people we encounter will be kind and welcoming.  This sets the stage for the rest of the experience.

At Thistle Farms the energy is high, smiles are abundant and these Thistle Farmers are glad to be alive and thriving.

The first person we met was Jennifer Clinger.  Jennifer greeted us before we  got to the door. She came out of the building belting “AYE! It’s Ricky and Lucy!!!” followed with a boisterous and contagious laughter.  If you don’t know, we impersonated Ricky and Lucy in one of our vlogs. We knew Jennifer was our people.

Jennifer is a Magdalene graduate, Author and Thistle Farms Volunteer Coordinator. Her intelligence, bubbly personality, and full-bodied laughter made our visit so fulfilling.

The goodness did not stop at Jennifer.  She introduced us to what seemed the entire staff at Thistle Farms. Each person shared enthusiastically about their said jobs at Thistle Farms. We felt love within each interaction.  We saw how much love Thistle Farmers give to one another because they frequently verbalize it and sporadically gave each other hugs. Everyone seemed to work together as a family.

They are happy to be here. These women are walking miracles. Go get some of that Good Energy, it will set the mood for the rest of your Nashville visit!

Travel for the soul

Another reason Thistle Farms is the most important travel destination in Nashville,TN is because it will fill your soul.

We consider ourselves Thistle Farmers for life! Thank you Thistle Farms with all of our hearts!

Jennifer Clinger, volunteer coordinator proudly hosted our Thistle Farms tour sharing her personal story of how Thistle Farms saved her life. Her story alone will make anyone with a beating heart become a solid supporter of Thistle Farms.

This non profit social enterprise, founded by Rev. Becca Stevens in 1997, is a bath and body company run by the woman. Thistle Farms has grown from a chapel of a few volunteers and expanded to include global networks by the fidelity of these women survivors and selfless volunteers. This idea actually works!

Thistle Farmers returning to work after their lunch break.
Employees can become specialists in areas of manufacturing, inventory, bookkeeping, sales, office administration. These soaps are made by the hands of women survivors using natural ingredients.

The tour guides us through Thistle Farms history and amiable facility. We saw where Thistle Farm products are produced and packaged by Thistle Farmers-pretty cool!  The Thistle Farms model is an interdependent system. Survivors make a living wage while simultaneously helping other women to come off the streets. Book a free tour on your next Nashville visit.

Thistle Farms is staffed by residents, graduates of the Magdalene program and volunteers.

This is Travel for the soul. Thistle Farms is a travel destination that allowed me to grow in awareness and compassion for another’s journey.

On our tour through Thistle Farms inventory, we learn how suppressing systems can slowly begin to erode through the power of love.

The Cafe at Thistle Farms

After the tour, Apache and I were eager to try out The Cafe at Thistle Farms!

Photo property of ThistleFarms.org

The cafe decor maintains a clean, bright, contemporary farm house design which I absolutely love. I felt a connection to nature in the cafe with it’s refurbished dark wooden tables, banquettes and framed floral art pieces that adorned white walls.

Thistle Farms teacup ceiling arrangement is even more eloquent in person than it is in photo. They each hold their own story and good intention from the people who donated them to the cafe.

Tea cup donations turned into a work of art!

There is even a sweet outdoor patio to enjoy!

We had already drooled over their online menu at home. We wondered if the taste would live up to their gourmet menu. I see integrity in everything that comes from Thistle Farms, so i was pretty sure the food would be no different.

In The Cafe Apache is deciding what to eat from this awesome menu!

Nashville’s only destination for daily tea service

Thistle Farms tea service was a new experience for me. You might  think,”what’s so special about tea?” if your not a tea fanatic,let me explain….

The Cafe at Thistle Farms specialize in tea and is Nashville’s ONLY daily tea service. I’ve never been served tea British-style before. I normally just have some hot water over a tea bag. If your like me, you can expand on your exposure here!

The Moringa Madres Blend served British style delighted with a soothing aroma & earthy taste. I enjoyed my tea with lemon and honey. Moringa is a herbal tea that contains protein, reduces inflammation and is full of antioxidants and vitamins!

Watching my server prepare the tea had me wondering what was going on with it. There was a thermometer, a timer and loose leaf tea steeped through a strainer. The Moringa Madres Blend was poured into a lovely clear glass pitcher. The tea was served to me with my chosen tea amenities with elegant presentation. The British-style requires specific timing and preparation which i did not realize.

This experience had me feeling fancy! I enjoyed the Moringa Madres Blend, found it to be smooth, earthy and soothing with some honey in it.

Tea Time!

The Cafe at Thistle Farms is the only place in Nashville that serves Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea at Thistle Farms is offered from 1-2 pm by reservation only at least 24 hours in advance.

The next time we go to Nashville we won’t miss out on the Afternoon Tea. I have got to see the 3-tiered chef’s choice display of savories and sweets paired with their gourmet tea for myself!

This would make for an impressive date or larger party gathering. The cafe offers gluten-free and vegetarian options as well. Yes, you can even host a special event here.

Afternoon Tea treats! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Food prepared with love

If you want fresh, locally sourced, loved on food in Nashville, look no further. The Cafe at Thistle Farms is a travel destination in Nashville,TN you do not want to miss.

Apache got the new Chicken Fajita Wrap. Apache’s critique: “it tastes very fresh with distinct flavors that compliment one another.”

Chef Mark and Cook Donna will tell you that they actually sing to the food they prepare and honey believe me, it tastes like it!

Cook Donna imparts her favorite Lou Rawls song for foods getting rotated out “Someday, someday your gonna get old. Bless your your soul your gonna get old!” Looking back, us all laughing together about this its gonna be one of those memories i enjoy for years to come.

If you could savor love in your mouth, the food at Thistle Farms is what it would taste like- intentional and nourishing. True food for the soul.

Meet Cook Donna and Chef Mark creating healthful & inspired meals from scratch including the sauces at The Cafe at Thistle Farms!

The Cafe at Thistle Farms has a produce-driven full service menu. In our travels between Nashville and Memphis, Thistle Farms served up the most clean tasting and thoughtfully created meals in Tennessee. Thank the lord for giving Donna and Mark the inspiration and motivation! Apache and I savored every bite.

I got the Turkey, Bacon, Avocado on toasted brioche! Yum, Yum and YUMMMY! The meat tasted really fresh. I loved the addition of sprouts in this sandwich and it had a little kick with horseradish mustard.
Reminders that this is a place of love and acceptance are everywhere including the back kitchen wall “Everyone’s Welcome, Nobody’s Perfect, Anything’s Possible” Right! Right! and Right!
Thistle Farms cafe food! Photo property of Thistle Farms

Nashville destination for meaningful shopping

This was probably the first time i went on a mini spree without an ounce of guilt! In The Shop at Thistle Farms, the more i shop, the better i feel knowing it will make a difference. That good feeling didn’t subside after i pulled out my debit card either.

I found a bug spray that really works!
We purchased Jennifer Clinger’s book Delivered. Already I have opened this book a couple times to read only one sentence from any random page and experienced all the hairs on my body standing on edge and a stir of emotion in my stomach each time. I know this is going to be a powerful read.

I’m super excited about my new black Thistle Farms shirt and want to tell everybody all about it. Everything we purchased was high quality including their essential oils.

Super soft 100% cotton long sleeve tee, loving the feel, versatility and the message!

Their bath and body products are free of synthetic fragrances, parabens and petroleum based ingredients.

We have begun our Christmas shopping early this year at Thistle Farms! Apache and I thought this would be a great way to share the Thistle Farms word with family and friends.

Like i said, we are Thistle Farmers for life. This is our favorite non-profit charity.

We knew each purchase would directly support women survivors in creating a new and sustainable life for themselves!

One size does not fit all. I love to see a company making sizes from XS-3XL.

I believe Becca Stevens has created a system that demonstrates how the socioeconomic devastation that we see happening around us here in the United States could successfully be addressed. Love Rules!

The Shop at Thistle Farms
The Shop at Thistle Farms
Quite a few people are gonna be getting a bar of Thistle Farms handmade soaps this Christmas!

Reasons we will always support Thistle Farms and shop here in gratitude.

The Magdalene Program- A two year residential community dedicated to help women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. This FREE program provides the time and safe space for women to heal their body and mind for true recovery.

In the Magdalene program women receive free housing, healthcare and counseling for PTSD. These survivors gain employment and a supportive community. After graduation from the Magdalene Program women enroll into Thistle University. Thistle University provides necessary job skills including hard/technical skills and cultivates interpersonal skills to help solidify each survivors chance for success. Residents and graduates run every aspect of Thistle Farms.

Survivors hand pour these soy wax candles that are made with high quality essential oils and have a 35hr burn time.

Magdalene on the Inside- A Thistle Farms program for incarcerated women providing education, group therapy and transition into a Magdalene home upon release.

Thistle Farms Global- creates opportunity for economic freedom for women survivors of sexual assault and extreme poverty worldwide.  Apache and I loved hearing international stories of hope and seeing the products created by women artisans abroad.

 

Whoah! Welcome Mats created by refugee Syrian women using their discarded life jackets! #LoveWelcomes

Tragedy can literally be weaved into Welcome Mats (click here to read this mind blowing article). Becca Stevens traveled to Greece with her staff and volunteers with two looms. The goal being to teach Syrian women refugees how to weave welcome mats using their discarded life vests.

This initiative was created  to empower these women to support themselves and their children. This is the example of God i want to see as often as possible in life.

Thistle Farms has extended her hand globally partnering with over 36 organizations from 20 countries around the world that can offer safe work environments and fair wages with the development of women as their main priority.

The most important travel destination in Nashville, TN is Thistle Farms! People come to Nashville for the inspiration and love of music. Music comes from the heart, and so does Thistle Farms.

Visitors have an opportunity be a part of something so much bigger than themselves. At Thistle Farms we got to meet people experiencing their own personal miracles, learn, eat really great food and even got to feel good about shopping for this movement! Visit Thistle Farms and help to change the world!

Thistle Farms address: 5122 Charlotte Pike,Nashville, TN

“Community is the daily medicine that helps us walk through the fears we have to face alone” ~ Becca Stevens

 

3 Places to go for Date Night in Charlotte,North Carolina

Our first stop of the night was in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte, NC.

If you are new to Charlotte or been here awhile, Charlotte is constantly changing. It’s worth it to look around and explore all there is to do– which is a lot! Apache and I have been making effort to go out more lately being that we are now self proclaimed travel content creators!  I’m going to share 3 places you could go for your next date night in Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte, North Carolina is expanding by the minute with new apartment complexes, homes, businesses and transplants from all over the world. I think most people are coming from the north though- Let’s Go Yankees! Of course there are a multitude of options for things to do around Charlotte. I’m gonna make sure you are aware of at least 3!  

Apache and I went to see “The Ghost of Splinter’s Cove” at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte on a Friday night so we decided why not tack on dinner and finish up with a dope House Music Party!

I know you’re burning with excitement to find out how you to can recreate such an exciting night!  Lucky for you I’m willing to share all the juicy details!

Make sure to start your night off getting dressed to some fun music and dance yourself right into that date night outfit like I did! 

Charlotte Date Night Idea #1

Places to eat

First and foremost is always food!

We arrived at the South End section of Charlotte for dinner. This neighborhood is cool because you can sit out on a few of the restaurant patios and look out at the tall Uptown Charlotte buildings off in the distance. They are pretty when lit up in the evening hours. South End is an enthusiastic, buzzing, contemporary little village.

I was thinking “this light rail looks pretty sleek”

Looking newly renovated, South End is young and vibrant with new hang out spots, cozy narrow tree lined streets, and happy looking people walking through town socializing or zipping around on prepay electric scooters. The Lynx Blue Line light rail quietly runs right through the center of town if you prefer not to drive.

The Lynx Blue Line light rail in Charlotte, NC 

Riding around on an electric scooter looks like fun! You can rent an e-scooter from anywhere using a smart phone app and park it at your final destination as long as it does not block sidewalks, curb ramps or bus stop, driveways. In other words, use common sense.

View of Uptown Charlotte from South End , i believe it looks much better at night when the buildings are all lit up.

A good friend of ours referred us to check out Hawkers Asian Street Fare as a great place to eat on Camden Road. I’m sure Hawkers would have been amazing had we left cushion time for 1) already running late 2) blowing more time trying to avoid the pay for parking (which was a useless pursuit- grumble, grumble). I’ll be nice and spare you my rant about why people shouldn’t have to pay for parking. Instead I will say that I’m glad it wasn’t more than $5. Last but not least is 3) the 30 minute wait time that the hostess gave us. Blank stare.

We will get here next time… 30min early!

My watch said 6:15pm and there was a show to catch by 7:30pm so we side stepped on over to the next option. Right next door to Hawker’s, sat  Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop!  Yup, it’s the same soda shop featured in that movie “Shallow Hal.”  

We enjoyed a great home style meal here at Pike’s while preparing ourselves for a long night of fun.

Copper -Olde Mecklenburg Brewery at Pike’s

We sat out on the patio with a very nice view of Uptown Charlotte, a lovely breeze caressing our skin and lots of bubbly people to look at. 

The waitress was very friendly and helpful in picking out a dinner that would be delish but not take long to prepare. We both settled on the Quiche of the Day which came with a side.  I got my typical French fries and Apache picked the sweet potato casserole as his side dish.

Apache and I both agreed the Quiche of The Day definitely did taste like a Southern Grandma homemade it in her kitchen and found it very satisfying with chunks of onion and mushrooms baked in. We were so grateful for that thick but flaky crust covered in cheese!

This was the Quiche of The Day and yes we ate all this food!

If you have a sweet tooth like Apache does, you might also choose the sweet potato casserole side. It has chopped pecans and is lightly topped with brown sugar- a dinner dessert! 

The appetizer was a hearty Chicken Quesadilla (I really need to get more adventurous though). Next time I think I will try the warm Homemade Pimento Cheese with Tortilla Chips because I just found out recently that pimento cheese is a big deal in the South like fried pickles… I had no idea. 

Filling up on Pike’s Chicken Quesadilla!

Having dinner here felt easy breezy lemon squeezy- very laid back because it wasn’t crowded. 

Feeling super relaxed after a great dinner!

Charlotte Date Night Idea #2

Go to the theatre

Go catch a show! We went to the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte which is within the wonderland of a library called ImaginOn to catch a production called “The Ghost of Splinter Cove.” We got FREE may I repeat FREE parking (big smiles).

You can get free parking on Friday’s after 5pm and Saturday- Sunday with a validated parking ticket; check the website for further details about this.  

This was our second time seeing a CTC production. 

The theatre is small and intimate so everyone gets a great seat to the show and can feel more connected to the characters. The Ghost of Splinter Cove was short and sweet while simultaneously comical and dark. The show kept our interest with underlining messages about trust and closure with a disinterred family secret.

The Ghost of Splinter Cove is portrayed through the eyes of children. They resort to their own creativity in the basement of their home so their parents could have “Adult Time” upstairs. Can’t we all relate to this? 

We found the play warm, personal and sculpted for all ages because we were all children at one time and more than likely played similar make-believe games. Apache and I walked the line between their imagination and reality as we escaped into their world for just a little while.  

 We had to get a picture in front of this set up for the kids!

What made this story cooler is that the playwright, Steven Dietz, also created another story linked to The Ghost of Splinter Cove called The Great Beyond. The Great Beyond is based around the same family, in the same home with the same theme but takes place upstairs as seen through the experience of the adults. The Great Beyond was showcased at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (ATC) and generally geared toward older audiences. The ATC is another option for date night theatre.

The Second Story Project was a collaboration of these two theaters to show opposite sides of the same coin so to speak. As we all know there are always at least two sides to any story!

Theatre prices

We have always loved theatre so it was really fun to go see an affordable show in Charlotte after dinner. Ticket prices generally range between $15-$30 at CTC and $30-40 at ATC.  ATC also offers a Pay What You Can night which you could take advantage of if your budget is running on low.

Charlotte has tons of entertainment but now you know of two great theaters that won’t break your piggy bank!

Charlotte Date Night Idea #3

Go dancing

You only live once so dance while you can!

We figured we were on a roll so why stop after the show?  There was a party going on and we still had energy so we cruised on over to Crown Station Coffee House & Pub on N. Davidson St. The House Music party hosted by the Solstice crew was taking form. 

Crown Station is open during the day for regular or spiked coffees and check out their calendar for evening events

Inside Crown Station during the daytime hours. Check out the wide open floor space for evening parties!

A corner chill spot in Crown Station for when you need a break from dancing or to sit and read during the day !

As the party gradually unfolded the older House Head generation definitely danced a burning hole through that floor!  One of the regular attendees that I didn’t even know wandered around the spacious dance floor giving people love (including me!) with welcome greetings, hugs and selfie pics. She even offered to share her instruments with us including tambourines and rattles for a heightened experience. 

We got to end off our night being in the presence of great people! It was a very loving inclusive environment where everyone came together in joy through the power of House Music!  Lots of laughs, hips shaking and also some good two stepping on our part! I love the lack of stuffiness and ego in a real House Music party environment.  

Photo by NonieTakesPictures
We went to meet friends at a Raw Substance House party held at Crown Station.

The Cranberry Cosmo that Apache and I got at Crown Station was fabulous to say the least! That bartender gave us a sweet kick in the *ss and I could have had two more but used restraint. 

A perfectly made Cranberry Cosmopolitan at Crown Station – Yum!

Go out dancing!

Check out our favorite Charlotte DJs listed below. Look them up on IG and message them for inquiry about when and where they will be playing next! You can find one of these DJs spinning at a cool lunch brunch, festival, art gallery showing or other special event. Don’t forget to let them know CLP sent you because they are the real deal holy field!   

Photo by NonieTakesPictures
Dope House DJs of Charlotte, NC

House Music DJs of Charlotte

1)Charles Gaitling @Rawsubstanceclt

2) Steve Howerton @guided_beats_radio of @Rawsubstanceclt

3) Ifeanyi Ibeto aka DJ Kato @Katobeats

4)Smitty @Thatguysmitty

5) DJ Marcus Wade @djmarcuswade

6) @Unifiedsoulsevents

5) Jason Cooper @Vonfunkhauser

You don’t stop having fun when you get old, you get old when you stop having fun. – Ritu Ghatourey

 

 

Our Visit to Cast Iron Waffles in Charlotte, North Carolina

We normally don’t travel outside of 20min for breakfast but we made an exception this time. Neither of us had ever tried an “Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle” (as advertised) before. This family owned cafe called Cast Iron Waffles is in the Ballantyne area (about 30min from our home)-a little bit out of the way for us because we get impatient for that first meal of the day.

How we found the Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle in Charlotte

On my lunch break (months ago) I happen to notice a Charlotte Magazine laying with some others and decided to check it out. Skimming through, my eyes fixated on an image of a waffle sprinkled with bacon and this frosting stuff that appeared to be oozing out of it. After glancing over another few pages i somehow ended up back on the picture of this waffle. This is where my imagination started to run wild about what it must taste like.  Salty and sweet are never a bad combination.


Here is my photo of the waffle i saw in the magazine that had me dreaming of that special moment where this particular waffle would enter my mouth and send messages of ecstasy to my brain…

I grabbed my iphone and took a picture of this waffle masterpiece and where to find it to make sure i wouldn’t forget. Boy, pictures really do sell!

For a few months i continue to refer back to this photo and remind my husband that i am gonna treat him to a new spot I found for a surprise breakfast. My husband Apache absolutely loves waffles so i thought it would be a great excuse idea to take him to a place that specialized in making the “Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle!”

Our Cast Iron Waffles Experience

This European style cafe opens at 7am. It was finger numbing cold outside, so the first thing we ordered was two sweet, body warming lattes.

We enjoyed a very casual vibe in this cafe. If i lived nearby i could see myself stopping in this cafe for a quick pick-me-up before or after work.

Cast Iron Waffles Menu

Since we Americans typically like to do the most, Cast Iron Waffles has a menu that caters to our need for extra everything. Especially extra sugar!

The menu has a variety of different flavor coffees and lattes. Cast Iron Waffles serve espressos along with plenty of waffle toppings to choose from! Personally, this makes for a happy pairing in my book. 

Cast Iron Waffles Toppings

Apache ordered the Peanut Butter Cup Waffle. I nick-name Apache “Extra Sauce” for good reason, when it comes to indulgence he always wants EXTRA no matter what it is and he has a big personality. Apache’s waffle topped with a cream cheese peanut butter mixture. In addition, it had chocolate syrup and also their homemade whipped cream. I made a point to sample that whipped cream from Apaches plate and found myself nodding in approval. Afterthoughts…. “it’s light, no aftertaste, reminds me of a homemade whipped cream.”  I ordered the Lumberjack waffle topped with maple buttercream and bacon! I thought my waffle was very tasty- sweet,salty and crunchy. Apache loved his extra loaded waffle as well.

The Cast Iron Belgian Liege Waffles Difference

We are accustom to big, airy waffles with smooth edges found in American diners. The Belgian Liege waffle served at Cast Iron has uneven edges. They are also smaller with a more dense texture to them. This made the waffle feel more filling compared to the American style waffles we have had in the past.

Apache and I both thought the Belgian Liege Waffle had a sweet, richer taste. Cast Iron Waffles mix imported Belgian Pearl Sugar into their butter Brioche style dough (pastry dough) which makes it taste more like a dessert. Cast Iron Waffles also use a 100 lb. waffle press. This combination produces a caramelized crispy outer shell that has my tummy grumbling for more as i type this blog.

After eating this yummy desert for breakfast we were full until lunch time so that was a plus for us.

Cast Iron Waffles Prices

Our entire order of two dressed up waffles and two lattes totaled about $20. Not bad for two filling orders.

We feel good about supporting Cast Iron Waffles  because Cast Iron Waffles is a family owned business. Another reason is because Cast Iron Waffles make their dough from scratch. Lastly, because they purchase farm direct or  Fair Trade coffees.

The next time we’re in Ballantyne, i plan to have my Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle prepared more simply with powdered sugar and fresh fruit. When we finally get to go to visit Belgium we will be sure to try their waffles and compare!

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard

If you enjoyed this check out CreativeMornings Worldwide ,   3 Places to go for date night in Charlotte, North Carolina or Have The ASC Experience in Charlotte, NC

 

 

 

The United Ink Productions Queen City Tattoo and Arts Festival

A perfect cover up tattoo by Jorge Martinez @jorgestattoo

I am super excited to write this blog about the Queen City Tattoo and Arts Festival we attended in Charlotte in October!  We have had great luck with North Carolina festivals so far!

Apache and I are fascinated with tattoos. Tattoos show freedom of creative expression. The outlet creates conversation, stimulates the imagination and fulfills the artist! When a person gets a tattoo, they become a walking, breathing canvas. Moving art work! 

Photo by Komadori Photography

United Ink Productions

Anyone recognize this character??? Hint…from an old school video game. Photography by Komadori Photography

United Ink Productions is a company that creates large tattoo festivals! In 2012 United Ink Productions began facilitating 2 conventions per year. The first festival of the year is held in April in NYC. As of 2018 Charlotte, NC will host the second festival every October! The Queen City Tattoo Festival is conducted at the Charlotte Convention Center over a period of 3 days. That’s 3 days of color, live tattooing, entertainment, vendors and competitions!

In 2018 the festival theme was Alice in Wonderland. I dressed up as Uptown, N.Y.’s version of Alice and Apache was the Mad Hatter. The Tattoo and Arts Festival reigned in 250+ artists from around the world and local artists to create this enlivened Wonderland.  It was fun to dress up in Royal Peasantry clothing for this event! We became “Curiouser & Curiouser” (Alice in Wonderland quote) as we wandered around the convention center engulfed in the alluring culture of skin adornment.

This was the first Tattoo festival we have ever been to and it was an awesome experience.

Photography by Komadori Potography
Our talk with Jorge Martinez @Jorgestattoo of Inspiration Tattoo about how he got started in the business. Komadori Photography
Komadori Photography

Tattoo Art: Past to Present

Tattooing is an ancient art form and cultural aspect to many indigenous tribes around the world. The practice has evolved and continues to stand the test of time.

Tattoo History

Skin branding is evidenced to have been in practice at least 5,000 years ago as found on two Mummies in Egypt! Polynesia has an extensive tattoo history and this tradition extends over 2000 years ago.

As skin branding pertains to the United States it was introduced to NYC by sailors who originally used hand needles to pass away time from boredom at sea or to initiate one another into the fraternity.  NYCs most well-known tattoo is the big red Macy’s department store star which was worn on the forearm of ex-whaler turned Macy’s store founder RowlandH. Macy. Civil War veteran Martin Hildebrandt is considered one of Americas first tattoo artist’s to open the first tattoo shop in NYC during the 1800’s.  Martin Hildebrandt is known for branding other veterans for identification had they been killed or wounded during the war.  

Tattoo Culture Today

Interview with Sarah Miller at the QC Tattoo & Arts Festival 2018! Komadori Photograhphy

This year at the Tattoo and Arts Festival we talked with world renowned tattoo artist SarahMiller from Ink Master reality T.V. show seasons 2 &7. We also had an insightful talk with her manager Chris. Chris shared how USAA  is an insurance company that caters to military members, encompassing therapeutic tattooing, where artists can donate time to help vets tell their stories through this medium.

Pleasure to meet with Christine (Sarah Miller’s Manager). Komadori Photography
Click here to see our experience of this event in Charlotte, NC and hear this insightful interview.

Family & Friends Event

We were so grateful to have had our friends Robin of Komadori Photography and Chris of FinalSignal assisting us on this project which allowed us increasing space and perspective to grasp more out of this whole experience to share with all of you- Blessed!

Robin of Komadori Photography & Chris of FinalSignal

The Tattoo and Arts Festival is a family friendly event. We noticed kids as young as 7 all the way up to their mid 60’s or early 70’s having a great time.  You can dress up or down for this event – do you! 

Family affair at the QC Tattoo & Arts Festival. Komadori Photography
Meeting cool people at the Festival Komadori Photography
Charlotte’s Fire Dept dropped by Komadori Photography

What to Expect at The Tattoo and Arts Festival

Expect to find entertainment, great artists, fashion and really cool vendors at this festival!

Music

We danced to hard rock music and the enchanting, rhythmic melodies played by mega talented violinist DSharp. You can get a taste of his musical flavor in our YouTube Vlog of this event! On the 3rd day, Biz Markie was scheduled to perform. You get the idea…. Great Entertainment!  

Vendors

There were plenty of vendors selling jewelry, tattoo products and apparel. Apache bought me a cute tank top from SoHo Ink who came all the way down from NYC to represent. We were happy to see fellow New Yorker’s in the house!

Tattoo Flashing! Komadori Photography

People are getting inked everywhere and sport tattoos with pride. It was like a flesh museum! 

Entertainment

Dispersed throughout the convention center you can find painters painting, there was an art gallery, magicians, music and face painting. There was even a live pumpkin carver artist. 

Tattoo Entrepreneurs & Contests

Tattoo removal technicians of Essential Aesthetics and Laser in Charlotte showed up. There are Tattoo Contests every day of the Festival.  Some contests included “Tattoo of The Day,” “Asian Style,” “Fresh Portrait” and “Overall Female” to name a few.

Tattoo Seminars

United Ink Productions hosts educational seminars for Tattoo artists at their festivals. In 2018 the education focused on Permanent Makeup. These permanent makeup conferences are certificate programs that encompass basic skills and master class programs.  Make sure to check out the itinerary or book a booth for their next event in April!

Great interview with Zhang Po! Komadori photography

Meet World Renowned Tattoo Artists

World renowned tattoo artists made themselves very accessible and were fun to talk with. In addition to Sarah Miller we also got to converse with her Manager Chris and world famous tattoo artist Zhang Po.

Each had a story to tell that inspired us. 

Zhang Po has some inspiration for aspiring tattoo artists. Komadori Photography

God is capable of creating miracles at any time in our lives. Sarah, Chris and Zhang shared how they came to realize a career in the tattoo industry. We are so honored to hear, capture and share their stories in our YouTube vlog. All three are living a sustaining lifestyle that they love.

FinalSignal, CLP and Zhang Po! Komadori Photography
MC Joey Tattoo of Spike TV show “Tattoo Rescue”

Tattoo Festival Takeaways

Some people get tattoos for love, as a form of remembrance, some to follow trends, some to tell a story.  They can be a form of healing internal or beautifying external scars.  Tattoos can be self empowering through the process and its outcome. They can represent a personal achievement, belief system or just show what one is enjoying most about their life journey.  

One thing that keeps life interesting is our differences, stories and cultural variances. Choose to take an opportunity to learn more about others with respect and a little curiosity.

Art by Christian Waggoner. Komadori Photography

Conformity is not always a prerequisite to living a fulfilled life. – NK