Hello Spring | Feelin the Warm Sun

It’s May 1st

Can you believe it’s already May 1st! Time is going by so quickly, but I don’t mind at all because spring is here and I am totally loving the weather and beautiful blossoms! I tend to appreciate my campus most during this beautiful time of year. The grasses are always plush and bright, the flowers are blooming and the sunshine just adds life and freshness to the landscape. I loved today’s weather so much that I just had to lay out under the trees enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze. 

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Graduation is Coming Up

The countdown is definitely on for Queens College 2018! I’ve bought my cap and gown, I’ve RSVP to my department graduation and I’m ready to celebrate my achievement. It’s been quite a journey adulting, living life and doing my thing, but I have endured and enjoyed the good times and the bad times. 

During the past four years of college I didn’t have much of a social life because I was so focused on working and going to school. Being goal oriented is all well and good, but I do wish that I would have spent more interest in building connections and exploring life outside school and work. Knowing that I’m nearing the end of another chapter in my life has afforded me the opportunity to finally stop and smell the blossoms! These past few bright spring days has really been God’s reminder to me that no matter how hard things could get, “this too shall pass” Come May 31st, this too shall pass, as I embark on another journey into the world of work! 

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Interviews Galore

I am lucky enough to have scheduled at least two interviews per week for the next couple months and I am really looking forward to them all. I’ve been applying for jobs like crazy since last September to no avail and I was a bit worried, but I am so grateful that things seem to be panning out quite nicely.  

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More Fun to Come

I know I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I should be, but bear with me, I’m really trying my best not to get too distracted from my final assignments. Nonetheless I have great plans for a fantastic and exciting summer so stick it out with me guys because there’s more fun to come! 

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Travel | Islandlife in Sweet Tobago

A trip to Trinidad isn’t complete without paying a visit to its sister isle Tobago. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a scenic stay in Pembroke in the countryside. Although it was about 20 minutes drive away from Crown Point, the hub of Tobago’s nightlife I really got the opportunity to appreciate the islands greenery and sea views. The drive between Crown Point and Pembroke runs along the island’s coastline which conveniently allowed me to capture some amazing landscape memories of this trip.

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It may seem like I didn’t do much, however my two-day stay in Pembroke was still quite satisfying and enjoyable, not only because I enjoyed taking beautiful landscape photos, but I also appreciated immersing myself into Tobago’s country life giving me a rare opportunity to unplug and detach myself from my hectic life.

I have to say though, the best part of my island getaway was my trip to the calm and relaxing waters at Store Bay in Crown Point.

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20180409_104625The convenient and probably the best thing about Store Bay is that it is just a stone throw away from Crown Point’s nightlife. The ANR Airport, the bars, lounges, nightclubs and multiple resorts are all within a few minutes of each other surrounding Store Bay. In Crown Point you can surely have it all, there’s the serenity of Store Bay complimented by the pizzaz of the nightlife.

DSC_0752One thing you’d find most interesting about Tobago is that the locals are so warm and welcoming. Dawn Cape, owner of Sips WIne & Cocktail Bar was the perfect host and so willing to pose for all my photos that I just had to feature him in this blog. 

sips barLast but certainly not least, another highlight from my visit to Tobago was the food. Long before I had even arrived in Trinidad, I had been fantasizing about eating Tobago’s infamous crab and dumpling. crab dumpling1.jpgCooking is a social tradition that the family I stayed with enjoys doing outdoors in their backyard. The Sunday norm is to invite friends over and together they’ll cook up a storm over drinks, laughter and good conversation. 

All in all I genuinely enjoyed living the country girl, island life for a couple days. It was stimulating and refreshing, I would definitely recommend taking a visit to Trinidad and Tobago. Hopefully, I’d be able to enjoy another Caribbean getaway this summer, so look forward to more travel and adventure blogs from me here on hellomirabelle.com 

 

Food & Drink | Trini Mom Shares Pastele Pie Recipe

Traveling and exploring different cultures definitely affords the opportunity to taste the world and while on vacation in Trinidad you just can’t avoid indulging in all the local and traditional foods.

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Local mom, hairstylist and aspiring entrepreneur, Sigournie La Foucade, was so kind to open up her kitchen to my curiosity sharing her tips and tricks to making the perfect pastele pie. This quick and simple recipe transforms Trinidad and Tobago’s most famous Christmas dish, pastele, into a year round favorite. Combining the ingredients used to make pastele with the technique used to make shepherd’s pie, Sigournie effortlessly whips up two pastele pies while giving me the exclusive on her recipe secrets.

Ingredients 

Minced Meat Filling

  • 1 lb minced meat
  • 1/2 cup raisins 
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup olives
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 pimentos
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 stalks cilantro

Pastele Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maggie all purpose seasoning

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Bon Appétit! Follow Sigournie on instagram at authenticme_whitney_ to see more of her life as a mom and stylist.

 

 

 

 

Travel | Hello Trinidad & Tobago

It Feels Good to be Home

Although I left Trinidad for New York to pursue a college education and career opportunities, I can’t help but stress the idea that there’s no place like home. Ugh, I hate clichés but it’s so true. There’s nothing like the feeling of nostalgia when you’re back home hearing the rustling of the leaves or the crowing of the rooster in the morning. It might seem so corny but I enjoyed listening to the chirps of the crickets that I used to find so annoying when I was younger. DSC_0631I don’t really have to go too far but a few steps into my yard to enjoy some chill vibes. I never gave it much thought about how much I missed my home until I kicked my feet up and soaked up some good Santa Cruz evening sun.

It’s been about five years since I’ve been in Trinidad and it feels good to be home. It may seem like a short time, but so many things have changed since I’ve been here. Nonetheless, the one thing that has remained the same, is the relaxing and captivating floral and fauna around our yard.DSC_0639

DSC_0647Coming on this trip I was definitely looking forward to the mangoes, the oranges, the papaya but most of all I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a coconut! A real coconut! Picked fresh from a tree in our backyard. Coconut tree

DSC_0533I probably had about three coconuts. The coconut water was so sweet, nothing like that force ripe artificial flavor in the coconut water from the grocery store. And the jelly, not too soft, not too hard, it was the perfect consistency!

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While my dreams, ambitions and potential may be greater now than I had ever imagined, I will always cherish and appreciate my small town Trinidadian roots. Once an island girl, always an island girl! 

I will do my best to take as much pictures as I can on this trip so stay tuned for more about my visit to beautiful Trinidad and Tobago.

In case you were wondering where in the world is Trinidad and Tobago, here’s a little perspective for ya. 

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Fashion | Project Runway All Star Launches New Clothing Line

Project Runway All Star Anya Ayoung Chee proudly launches her new clothing line Anya Ayoung Chee – Limited Edition

Anya’s rise to fashion stardom began when she graced the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant in Japan representing her country Trinidad and Tobago. Then, in 2011, the United Nations Association of Trinidad & Tobago (UNATT) spokeswoman auditioned for Project Runway Season 9 where she easily became a fan favorite. Anya’s creative designs always captivated a tropical island aesthetic, bringing something fresh and inspiring to the table which won her the Project Runway Season 9 title.

Fast forward seven years later, Anya has appeared on Project Runway All Stars and guest starred on a reality show with Tim Gunn where she mentored aspiring designers. Anya has never lost interest in her roots designing costumes for Tribe, Bliss and she has even designed her own line of fete and Carnival Monday wear, cANYAval. 

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Earlier this year, crowned in a carnival inspired headpiece, the designer tied the knot with photographer Wyatt Gallery at their small beachfront wedding in Blanchisseuse, Trinidad. Wyatt posted this photo on his instagram account saying, “In a small, intimate, family ceremony yesterday, I married my soulmate and my love @anyaayoungchee while overlooking the coastline of Blanchisseuse, Trinidad, a place that has been a part of my soul since 1999. It was a magical dream come true (finally!)”

After her extended break from designing for the rack, Anya is back with her new clothing line Anya Ayoung Chee – Limited Edition which aims to provide exclusive, small quantities of each design she creates.

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Lifestyle | Spring Break Haul

Nature has been giving us a few sneak previews of the crisp air and warm sun that comes with Spring for the past couple weeks here in New York, but as we all know, you could never get too excited with this bipolar transition weather. But, it’s finally March 20th, Spring is here and I’m ready for it! My favorite season of the year. 

With every new season comes new fashion statements, makeup trends and new friends so I just had to do a collab with one of the most fashionable lifestyle bloggers I follow, the gorgeous Diva Named Dom. The self proclaimed cosmopolitan diva creates fashion, food, culture and lifestyle content that captivates her essence and desire to be the best version of herself.

Collab Feature | Domenique

Domenique’s blog and instagram feed has successfully maintained an attractive aesthetic to amass loyal readers who are always genuinely inspired by her content and originality. When she isn’t blogging, this Miami beauty enjoys relaxing at home spending quality time with her mother’s foster children and five Dachshunds. This spring, Domenique’s followers can definitely look forward to more amazing blogs and fascinating photography as she plans to shed her winter clothes and enjoy the fabulous Miami weather. Check out her latest post Spring Has Sprung.

What Have I Been Up To Lately?

2018 started off a bit rough for me but I’m finally getting my life under control. While trying to be a little more consistent with my blogging, I’ve also been tutoring part-time while still wrestling a crazy schedule this semester as I prepare to graduate in May, hopefully. Unfortunately, I’m about six credits shy of the required minimum necessary for graduation. However, through several appeals and permission from the English Department and the Registrar at Queens College, I have been permitted to attend commencement in May. Hooray for me! The pit of the prune is, I’ll have to return in the summer to do two classes to make up for my unfinished credits. Not too bad, right? I’ll knock those off by June.  

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That drama aside, spring blossoms also means Spring Break! Turn up or Nah? Throughout the past four years of school, I have never looked forward to Spring Break this much because I usually never go anywhere. This year though, I am destination ready headed for sand, sea and lots and lots of tropical sun. Although I didn’t go too crazy shopping for this spring break trip, I definitely picked up a few blog worthy affordable finds that I am excited to share with you. 

Mini Spring Break Haul

I absolutely fell in love with these cute flats the moment I found them. They seem so retro yet modern at the same time, a bit nostalgic, because I almost remember having a similar pair in brown as a kid. I also picked up these fab African inspired accessories that just brings out the Wakanda in me! And of course, you can’t go wrong with a good ole pair of trendy thrift store sunglasses.

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Getting a straw bag for a trip in the spring is an absolute must have. I was especially attracted to this reddish brown color not only because it matches these cute flat sandals and compliments my skin tone, but I also feel like the regular light tan straw bags are so ordinary. I’m a sucker for a good glow and some lashes so I just had to snatch up these Kiss ‘so wispy’ lashes and this Elf ‘sunglow’ illuminator. 

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I try my best to be a minimalist whenever I travel but I just gotta have a different shoe for every different outfit! So, the minimalist way to try to achieve this is to get the staple colors; white, brown and black. I can’t wait to get my toes freshly done to wear these gorg sandals. I also had to try these layered lashes from Kiss that I got on sale at a beauty supply store in Brooklyn, it was only $1! Can’t beat that bargain. I always get compliments on this floral embroidered crossbody bag so why not include it in the fun right? And it was only $13 on Amazon! Bargaaaaaaain!

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Shockingly I’ve become quite a sneakerhead lately. These suede mauve Reebok Classics are giving me so much life! I’m so looking forward to sporting them with my matching  headwrap this spring! My favorite sneaker brands at the moment are Reebok, Vans and Puma, mainly because they have so much unique colors in simple classic styles. 

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Last but not least, I just had to cop these crocodile hunter looking Under Armor sneakers for all the animal farm, camping, hiking and long walking trips that I plan to take this season. However, it’s just a shame that this picture isn’t doing this headwrap justice! I’m so looking forward to wrap my hair up in all its glittery and sparkly glory.

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I hope you guys enjoyed my quick mini spring break haul. Stay tuned for my travel updates within the next couple weeks, I promise you it will be amazing! Happy Spring! 

 

Travel | When Your AirBnB Sucks!

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Traveling to the Dominican Republic had been long over due. On the agenda since 2015, on November 18 I was finally making my way to Santo Domingo. Just a disclaimer though, the above picture is just for visual appeal, because my real air bnb sucked! 

I admit, I absolutely love the idea of the AirBnb app, its innovative, easy to use and offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves directly into the local lifestyle and culture. Nothing against the big chain hotels and resorts, but when I travel, I want a genuine experience and not all the over priced bells and whistles that mask your destination’s reality and beautiful grittiness.

While preparing to arrange a reservation to Santo Domingo for 9 nights and 10 days, I probably spent three weeks filtering through rooms looking for decent, clean accommodation at affordable rates. Keeping in mind that I was traveling out of the country for my surgical appointment with one of the best breast reduction surgeons in the region, Dr. Mallol, I had to adhere to my planned budget for accommodation which was around $22 – $30 bucks a night. I eventually, decided to book a quaint little one-bedroom apartment for my mom and I to share which cost us $220USD for our entire stay in Santo Domingo. Judging by the pictures, it wasn’t anything fancy, just decent and comfortable enough for my stay. Once I have a clean comfortable bed, air condition and wifi, I’ll be satisfied. 

Prior to leaving New York, our host and I exchanged conversations about her apartment, and the purpose of my visit. Having been informed about the reason for my trip to Santo Domingo she became concerned about my dirtying her sheets and towels. Apparently, according to her, she had had a bad experience with a guest who stayed in the apartment who also had surgery. Understanding her concerns I promised in advance to be very careful not to damage any of her property. 

After my tediously draining 4-hour flight, I was finally on my way to my Airbnb, I had never been so excited to just crash into bed and sleep. Our host was very polite and she spoke English really well too. Opening the door to the apartment she began mentioning–as if she had only just remembered, “Oh, we are in a electricity controlled district. The power shuts off every day for a couple hours.” I wasn’t too bothered, although it didn’t concern me until it actually happened. 

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The next morning at about 10am the power shut off, and with that we had no air condition, no wifi, no sanity! The room became so humid and clustered that my mom sat out on the porch until the power came back on. My second day in the country and I’m getting the true experience of life in the Dominican Republic. I just wished she had mentioned this in her AirBnB ad. It’s ironic how one problem brought light to all the things that was wrong in the apartment. 

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Apart from the daily power loss, our host also chose not to provide sheets or towels. How in the world can you host a guest at your home and not give them sheets or towels? We also didn’t have hot water in the shower, and this wasn’t due to the power loss, the hot water didn’t work period! I know I said that I liked experiencing my trips in all it’s authenticity, but this was a little to real for me! At least she was courteous enough to have the maintenance come to try to fix the water heater. 

crocAnd I say ‘try’ because yet still on the fourth day of our stay we still didn’t have hot water. Imagine being hot and sticky with no air condition while also being to scared to take a shower in the icy cold water. We ended up having to boil pans of water to bathe which my mother hated greatly. 

When the going gets tough the tough gets going! On the fifth day yet another problem came up, the wifi stopped working. Our trip was beginning to suck, suck really bad! I was extremely disappointed. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but I was beginning to like our host lesser and lesser with each passing day.

Not sure if this was just a way for her to make a quick buck, but the business of hospitality management isn’t for everyone. Taking on the responsibility of being a host to foreign visitors should be taken seriously, after all I did pay cold, hard cash. Had I just been staying there for free I wouldn’t complain. Shouldn’t there be certain standards that these hosts adhere to? I totally understand being in an electricity controlled district, it’s really not her fault, however hosts need to be held accountable for their integrity and honesty on their AirBnB ads. She could have inserted a disclaimer explaining the  true conditions of her apartment. I get it, it would probably affect potential guests interests, but you can’t advertise bread and cheese sandwiches and only serve bread! 

It all became a little too overwhelming, I had to check out of her sham of a lodging earlier than planned if I wanted to maintain my sanity. I contacted AirBnB for a refund for the balance of my reservation. I did appreciate though that our host wasn’t resistant and aggressive about our decision to leave. 

dreams-la-romana-resort-and-spa-23152457-1505313478-ImageGalleryLightboxLargeI definitely still stand by what I say, I always hope to have an authentic experience when I travel but I also like to know in advance what I’m getting myself into. So I guess when your AirBnb sucks you may find yourself having to upgrade to the fancy shmancy perks that I claim to not prefer, yet I will admit that perks aren’t so bad after all. Room service, breakfast buffet, housekeeping with clean fresh sheets and towels–I think I could get used to luxury traveling. Although, the last minute change of plans did put a major dent in my budget. Four nights and five days at the W&P Hotel cost us about $490USD, but when you consider all the carefree benefits, its a cost that’s worth affording. Bare in mind, I did say worth ‘affording’, because why stretch your budget if you’re going to go back home broke? 

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Who knows, maybe on my next adventure I will spring for the bells and whistles in advance. I really love traveling and I hope it’s something I could incorporate into my life at least once a year. Next destination on my bucket list is Costa Rica! 

The Daily Post | Priceless

Have you ever stopped to think about what you really value most in life? Not what has the most value, but the uncountable treasures that you wouldn’t trade for the world. Your education? Your family? Your children’s happiness? Your spirituality? There are so many things that come immediately to mind when thinking of priceless treasures, but after crawling out of the pits of depression, experience protests that peace of mind holds the most value in life.

 

We all have had some experience with sadness, whether directly or indirectly. Think back to a moment when you felt your lowest. Be it depressed, angry, disappointed, frustrated, unhappy; do you remember how exhausting that lack of level headedness was? Were you able to think clearly? Did you make appropriate decisions? Did your state of being affect those around you? Did you like the way your thought processes flowed when your mind was at its weakest? It must have been a challenge to come to terms with your inability to accept that you were not your usual self. Whatever caused your shift in emotions may have been the trigger–gaining weight, losing your job, flunking out of school, marital problems, being abused; but what haunts our mind the most is our inability to come to terms with our situation. We’re only human, of course losing a job will take a hit at our emotions, however, can we control these emotions? Can we ever experience experiences without being broken by barriers?

Have you ever seen the calm waters of the Nylon Pool off the coast of the tropical island of Tobago in the Caribbean? Peaceful knee high clear waters in the middle of the ocean bedded on oat white sand; seems unimaginable, maybe near impossible, but it does exist. Despite the surrounding shark infested rough waters, the Nylon Pool remains unaffected and constantly at peace. Shouldn’t we be able to train our minds to be uninterrupted by our unfortunate circumstances? Why should we let our rough waters disturb our peace of mind?

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In the age of millennials when our minds are constantly at work–busy at school, busy at work, busy on our commute, busy on our social media, busy being social, busy being successful; we train our minds to think, rethink and overthink almost everything we do, so much so that it becomes automatic. So of course when we’re faced with a situation that causes discomfort our mind kicks into overdrive frustrating our sanity with figuring out how to be comfortable again. Our mind shouldn’t just be “comfortable” our mind should be allowed to bask in the everlasting bliss of peacefulness; seems unimaginable, maybe near impossible, but it can exist. We should always train our mind to relax, not to overthink, but to think less.

 

Meditation has been proven to stimulate peace and promote a sense of calmness and overall well being. Among those who practice the art of meditation, holds the ability to maintain composure and sustain level headedness in the face of emotional disfunction. Granted, successful meditation may not be accomplished on your first try, however it’s definaelty worth the effort. After all achieving a lifetime of peace will surely cost you far cheaper than a trip to the Nylon Pool.

  • plane ticket to Tobago – $496USD
  • boat ride to the Nylon Pool – $10USD
  • Peace of Mind – Priceless!

 

The Daily Post | Priceless