Love, Food, Travel

Category: Travel Blog Posts

Queens-Fest

Queens-Fest

Blossom and Sol Natural Hair Festival at SXSW Festival (Austin)

I miss you all!! Ugghhhh, I miss writing, typing….talking while I’m writing and typing. *Please pray for your girl to get a laptop this year, thank you!* Sooo, I went back to Austin for SXSW (one of the biggest festival congregations of creatives in tech, film, photography, fashion, music, beauty….like you name it! It’s all there for one week. One week, but one important day when black creatives from different sectors come together. I went to the first annual festival last year under a different name “The Curly Girl Picnic” Check my post with that here!

It’s amazing to see how Coco Bates and her beautiful team came together again to make ANOTHER historic move. When you know you have purpose, it involves challenges and growth. If someone told you that living your purpose is easy, well….I don’t think you truly tapped into it yet.

The Coco Bates

Let ME (MUAH!! *points to self*) tell you all the greatness that happened! I did videos, check my Instagram here! Another thing I just couldn’t do last year, I was PREPARED for 2019. Ok…let’s go!

There was 2 separate events connected to the Blossom and Sol Fest, the intimate Noir Sisterhood Evening Affair *the night before the festival*, which is an interactive and intimate discussion on natural hair, beauty, and self empowerment with a live demonstration of Design Essentials product and style education. *PRAISE GOD FOR FREE FULL SIZE PRODUCTS!* Perks on being in media/press. *FYI! I just used my Design Essentials Natural Line Almond & Avocado Detangling Leave-In Conditioner along with the Honey Curlforming Custard along with the styling tips the instructor gave me and…..baby!! My hair looks and FEELS SOOOO MUCH DIFFERENT! The number one advice I would give out (super important!) is start with a CLEAN SCALP. That’s it! Your shampoo routine should be LONGER than your style routine. I did 20 minutes *compared to my 9 minutes* with baking soda and apple cider vinegar due to my product buildup from my twists (separate application, not mixed in), cleansing shampoo with my shampoo brush and style. Then, boom!

I drove home that night and came back that morning for the festival (thankful that it’s 2 1/2 hours away….yes, I was bone tired). Thank you Bucees’ coffee, you are the real mvp next to my best friend.

We get to the beautiful, historical black college/university in the Austin area, Huston-Tillotson University, where the festival is held on the vast field on the hill looking over Austin’s downtown skyscrapers, just a couple of minutes away. Not only was I doing things for the UnconventionalShell website and moderating panel interviews, my best friend and I was being: asked to be a part of photographs, shot by photographers, interviewed by other bloggers and editorial contributors to websites and magazines….I was in AWE of it, …like me? Who am I to get this special attention? I’ve realized that is what I’ve been praying for…hmmmm. My favorite part was meeting all of the creatives. I can say that I am a people person, I love to meet people (most of the time) especially if we have a commonality in creativity. Creatives in the Austin area, people that I follow on social media planning to met at the festival, sharing our love of our craft….just awesomeness and love all around!!

Too many great things happened at the festival: dancing, FOOD, markets where you can buy local black products, live music from awesome musicians like DioMara, live hair workshops/tutorials, panel discussions about mental health, entrepreneurship, beauty (my panel!), and more!!

Alrighty, my awesome tips to close this post out:

  1. Get ready for 2020! If I can see progession from 2018 to 2019, I KNOW 2020 will be BOMB! This is not only for people of color, but for anyone open to appreciate diverse cultures. It was exciting to see other races present at the festival to take on the activities and markets. ALSO, I know that more EXPANSION will happen for 2020. That’s all that I will say for that matter. *smirking*
  2. Like I said last year, support your local businesses. Franchises and manufacturers are generally NOT about the quality OF THEIR BRANDS and community involvement. Big companies = the money and power. Local businesses = community leaders and innovators to the next generation.
  3. Show love. Bring a picnic blanket. Say ‘Hi’ to the person that came by themselves. Connect with people over food. That’s what this festival is all about. Loving the people.

Until next time!!! Love ya’ll!!! Share this post and leave a comment. Another blog post in the works now! Stay tuned!

Thank you Sam for my portraits!!! Instagram: Sammiedor.photography

Plus, my awesome best friend for taking pictures and video! My team member!!

A Special Affair: NY to Chi-Town

A Special Affair: NY to Chi-Town

Hello everyone!!! I missed you all!!! I swear I don't take a long hiatus like this on purpose. I've said it before and I will say it again....2018 was #$*%!!! Like forreal, complete &#%*$.....you fill in that however you want lol. Also, when I look all around me....everyone else went through a messed up year too.


Sidenote: I PROCLAIM that the year 2018 was a precursor for the GREAT THINGS that will come to you in 2019! Everything that you prayed for, hoped for, and/or affirmations will come to pass and be more abundant than what you asked for.


Now, I took this great trip to New York and Chicago in mid-October (Oct. 16th-Oct. 21st) this year, reason was to celebrate my bestie's 30th birthday and go to a Christian conference in Chicago. We spent 2 days/1 night in New York (just for the heck of it) and 3 days/3 nights in Chicago. Throughout this trip, I had goals to accomplish:

New York Goals

  • Eat a classic New York Pizza and get a hot dog from a street stand
  • Go to Times Square and do a cart wheel...disaster.
  • Go to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) ....*details on confusion later*.....I'm a museum freak!
  • Ride on a subway
  • Walk through some of Central Park (that thing is huge)
  • Tour through Brooklyn and Harlem (historical purposes)

I've actually accomplished most of these in the small amount of time we had!!

Accommodations!!! As you all know, I'm the type of traveler that spends more on the moments/experiences in a city than where I stay. Don't get me wrong, it will be 3 stars and up but more cost efficient lol. I'm the Airbnb type of girl, living amongst the locals......but I tried something different and stayed at *cue music* "duh..duh...duh!!"..... a hostel.

Hostel - a lower priced, social accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Room can be a mixed or single-sex, and private rooms may also be available.

Wikipedia

Queens, New York, Hostel #1 : Q4 Hotel ($$) My Overall Rating - 3.8/5 www.q4hotel.com

Pros:

  • Location! Location!   Blocks away from several subways, restaurants, museums, etc. Took us 15 minutes to get to Manhattan from the subway!
  • WiFi, computer-access work lab *very happy!* Oh yea! I lost my phone in New Jersey!!  Went old school and emailed my mom, majority of the time. Along with borrowing phones.
  • Each bunk had a small light and a USB/plug outlet *BIG PLUS when you want personal light and have your phone nearby without disturbing anyone.**

Cons:

  • No windows....very strange to me. The windows are blocked out with some sort of opaque screen, maybe a safety hazard??? I really wanted to see the locals and the NYC scenery, but it felt like a prison cell.

Overall with the NY hotel, it was a decent stay! No elevators, so I didn't mind the walk. Staff was extremely helpful with directions. The hotel's appearance has a nice charm with the chandeliers and modern touches. Plus, some really good small cafes and eateries around the area! I will be back to finish my list and more!!


GREYHOUND TO CHI-TOWN!

Chicago Goals

  • Get Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!
  • See the 'Bean' in Millennium Park
  • Go to a museum (always a MUST anywhere I go)
  • Walk around the Wicker Park area and take in the scenery

Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois Hostel #2 : Holiday Jones ($$-$$$) My Overall Rating: 5/5 http://www.holidayjones.com

Pros:

  • Location! Location! LOCATION!! This location is sooo prime to EVERYTHING! Across the street from Target, steps away from a pizzeria and a Starbucks. If you walk along the street, you WILL bump into anything!
  • FREE empanada/coffee in the morning! A coffee shop is attached to the front part of the hostel. Each guest is given this special offer. It was great for us when we had to rush for the morning portions of the conference!

Cons..... can't think of any! In fact, I don't mind staying again!

I loved the atmosphere of Chicago! It's a beautiful city with BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE....not that I was looking hard *wink, wink*. I will be coming back to get the FULL experience since I was mostly here on a business perspective. I highly suggest that everyone try out Holiday Jones for their next stay, especially if you're going with a group. The place is clean, I actually did share the bathroom with the rest of the rooms on our floor *which was not as bad as I thought*. The empanadas and coffee is good at the front portion of the hostel, really flavorful (sweet cream corn and the blue cheese was my fav!). If you're going during the winter time, BE READY TO BUNDLE ALL YO BODY UP!! THAT cold weather and wind...Jesus. That's the windy city for a reason.

To conclude, 2 beautiful cities and 2 different perspectives on both. Let me answer some questions that you might want to know.

~ Which of the two cities did you like better? OK, this is really tough. New York for the people and the culture. Chicago for the looks of the city atmosphere.   ~New York Pizza or Chicago Pizza? NEW YORRRRK! I'm a thin crust kind-of girl anyway, so that's a given lol. Besides, I didn't enjoy my deep dish pizza...sadly. ~ Hot dog?? Again...New York. Their hot dog consists of mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut (not bad!). Chicago is poppy seed bun, mustard, relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt. It's just a no for me. ~ Transportation? For now, New York. I used Uber in Chicago.

If you have any questions and/or comments about this trip or any travel advice questions, let me know through the comments section! I greatly appreciate you all sticking with me on this journey!

Love always and travel well, Shellsy

Until next time!!

The Melanin Reign is Here!: Curly Girl Picnic SXSW 2018

The Melanin Reign is Here!: Curly Girl Picnic SXSW 2018

2018 is THE YEAR OF WOMAN! Recently, I told you ladies in my last post (Click HERE!) that women are CRUSHING IT RIGHT NOW!! I’M SOOOOO GRATEFUL TO BE IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT (MORE THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN IN RECENT YEARS!) From support/interest groups, workshops, and special events, ‘women supporting women’ is becoming the norm in our society (Thank GOD!!)!

Coco!!

With this movement, I’m trying to catch as many opportunities to take part of in 2018. So far, one of my favorite events this year for female-driven empowered events is the first annual Curly Girl Picnic that was held on the beautiful campus of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas during SXSW* (*South by Southwest is a week-long festival/conference for creatives.*) I bumped into this event in one of my blogger groups on Instagram (yes, there is AWESOME-NESS IN SOCIAL MEDIA!) and I NEEDED TO HOP ON THIS!!

Ty!!

Distance is NOTHING to me, period. I didn’t think twice to contact the event organizers, Tybreun Moore and Coco Bates (sweet girls, by the way) from The Co Report (LINK HERE!), for more information to get in and ‘BAM’! The Unconventional Shell is in the gate!!

The Curly Girl Picnic is dedicated to connect and empower women of color to love our natural being, despite the negative worldly perspective of ‘what beauty is‘. There was a majority of Black-owned brands in cosmetics, accessories, natural hair care, skin care, food, and a variety of other goods and services.

Shop TailorMarie!!

There was no other day that was more perfect than that Saturday to host the event. The weather was cool, not chilly. The sky was cloudy, but just enough shine to not burn the skin. It’s like the world knew what was bound to happen……Greatness. Positivity and love was in the atmosphere. As I made my way throughout all of the vendor booths, I’ve met some great women that are doing great things in their respected lanes. A young, beautiful nineteen year old girl (Yes! 19 years old!) caught my attention because I admired her hustle to get that sale, hun! She sells artisan-based soaps and body creams made with natural oils and butters. The Instagram name is: @luvsonatural to get more information on her products and shipment! Art work, T-shirt customization, wigs, African face painting/garments, hair care tutorials…..you name it, it was there! Along with the great vending, I saw one of my college friends doing her thang with her accessories!!! Go Natalie!! Shop HERE!

Since I’m such a friendly person lol.

Ms. Suraiye!

Chioma!

It was a MUST to connect with other creatives that I was just drawn to and creatives that I follow on Instagram (I’m an Instagram addict! Can you tell??) I’ve had the pleasure to meet the beautiful, lovely Suraiye (@suraiye_the411)!!! She is highly-spirited (like I expected) and I was her first interview for the event!! Yay!! Also, I was drawn to the ultra-cool Chioma (@chiomasvisuals), a dope Austin photographer with a great eye! She WILL be doing my next big photoshoot!

 

TO CONCLUDE….you know I have to give some ‘tid bits’ for my fellow ladies that WILL BE coming out next year!

  1. GET THE ‘FULL EXPERIENCE’ OF THE CURLY GIRL PICNIC. If you are not an ‘early-bird’, you should actually want to get up for the

    Credit:@suraiye_the411

    yoga/flow meditation session at 8 a.m. It’s worth it!! We are supposed to start our day with positivity in mind and relaxation. I promise that I will take part of the experience than take pictures of it lol! Ms. India, the instructor, did call me out on that! Then, enjoy the rest of the activities during the event!

  2. Take in the scenery and support local businesses! Huston-Tillotson University is a historical black college/university! Take a quick look around to take in the culture! I can not stress this enough. Support local businesses! We have dreams and goals to achieve, but these businesses take in account of our culture and our needs that big franchises doesn’t supply! Come in ready to spend!
  3. TO MY CREATIVES: NETWORK….NETWORK….NETWORK! One of my favorites quotes is, “We are stronger in NUMBERS.” We have built our brand (some, of us) by ourselves. In order to elevate ourselves and expand our brand, we have to connect and build bridges with other creative minds! I’ve spent time and money on my brand, I’m grateful for where I’m at. Also, I know that it is hard doing everything on my own. Build your TEAM and why not start at an event like this!

You do not have to be in the creative field to network…ALL OF YOU CAN! This is the place to be comfortable with other like-minded women of color and build long-lasting relationships.

Take the time out of your schedule to be at the next Curly Girl Picnic 2019, I will see you there.

 

Special shoutout to my best friend, Neka!! She was my manager, tech support, photographer/videographer, etc. You just DON’T KNOW how important you are to me! That day was not POSSIBLE without you!

 

Much love and Blessings to My Loves!

Shellsy aka The Unconventional Shell

 

Old Ties, New Year: An Ode to Self and 2017

Old Ties, New Year: An Ode to Self and 2017

Hi Everyone!!!

Long time no see, I know.

Life happens, which is pretty much all of our story. Yes, it happens but you’re NOT supposed to let it consume you.

I did.

I love my website. Looking over my recent posts and all of the pictures that I rendered, it brought back beautiful sparks of the things I love. Things that I longed for is displayed throughout this website and there are more great things in store for 2018.

During my 4-month hiatus (no post since summer), I have and (still) going through emotional and spiritual battles.

Barton Creek, Austin

Just to name a few, I have gone through my shares of depression, insecurities with my career and finances, past distractions, being far away from my support/bestfriend/sister (the #1 person in my life, besides God), family secrets/burdens….shucks, I disappoint myself constantly because I KNOW what I possess and where I’m destined to go. Yet, I have failed.

I don’t live for myself, I live for something bigger. If I rely only myself and my own strength, I will not make it in this life.

As of now, I’m really getting a glimpse of life and taking advantage of my opportunities (plus MAKING MY OWN OPPORTUNITIES) because of my grandmother withering away from breast cancer. Pastor John Gray, a minister in Houston, said something profound that still sticks to me, “I reach Heaven, yet the Father shakes His head because He said that I had great things planned for you, but you didn’t complete them.

How would you feel if you missed out on the biggest moment in your life because you didn’t say yes? …that’s my biggest fear.

Most people do not say yes because there are things that we don’t want to experience in the process.

Let’s be honest, who wants to go through pain, failure, rejection, abandonment, loneliness, and sadness? Nobody.

But…..if it wasn’t for opposition in our lives we wouldn’t be where we are today. Opposition pushes us to our position.

Yes, I have opposition but I will use that to propel me higher to where I need to be.

Not only will I have to say yes, I have to take action with what I say.

My mom gave me a fortune cookie yesterday, I was a bit excited for my fortune inside (like who eats the cookie?? lol) Just like astrology, I don’t give it much attention, but it’s funny how these fortunes tend to be right on time with things.

It said, Focus on your long-term goal. Don’t hesitate to act now.”

The new year will start in a few hours. I know there will be tons of vision board parties, prayer and fastings, goal listings, etc.

Just keep in mind to ACT NOW on what you said and ACT NOW on the process.

I’m right there with you.

Be on the look out on the many things I have set for 2018…there will be travel, food, books…..

(did I mention, that I have a book club here in Houston?? Thanks, opposition lol) and MORE.

……it’s going to be BIG!

 

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Joy and Blessings to you,

Shellsy M.

 

 

The Beasts of Travel

The Beasts of Travel

 

Even in my greatest pains and failures, I still have joy.

Travel has brought a new meaning to my life: friendships from around the world, new cuisines (the South STILL remains the best ‘tho), and landscapes that can be on a cover of a magazine. I’m blessed and forever grateful with this bold decision that I’ve made for my life! My fellow travel wanderlusts will understand these questions: How do you make time in your work schedule to travel? How do you get the money to go on your adventures? << My Fav! Why do you go by yourself? What about your safety, especially as a woman?

I love the curiosity drawn to me from others, my lifestyle (and me *waving*) is not normal. It’s always this twisted fantasy, an immaculate perception on how travel should be. Now, don’t get me wrong! Yes, all of my travels are the most amazing things in my life, with God being by my side. I do live in a fantasy world sometimes, but reality can hit me DEAD IN MY FACE when I least expect it! There is plenty of  beauty and plenty of beasts in the world of travel.

Getting lost in a city at night with a dead phone. Running after a bus that I missed at a stop. Food poisoning in one of the most beautiful cities of the world, PARIS (I will RE-DO that trip!). Trashy travel/room accommodations. Believe me…there’s more, but that was just my highlights.
…….Then, here comes another highlight to my chapter, what do I do when I have to say “NO” to a HIGHLY ANTICIPATED TRIP because of a stupid budget mistake?! I had the opportunity to go to the Essence Festival this past July 4th weekend. I had the perfect 2 day plan for it: live interviews, meeting other creatives, the Essence Bookstore, free workshops, the food (it’s in New Orleans, you already know). Out of all of the crazy things that I’ve been through on my trips, this is the only one that really got me upset. My…heart…was…broken, but it hurts even more when you are the cause of your pain. On July 1st, 2017, I declared a pity party for 9 HOURS when I decided not to jump in my car and go to the Essence Festival. Ugh, that was one of the SADDEST parties that I’ve ever attended! My pity parties don’t have balloons, streamers, good music, or people. Phones are silenced. Chips, croutons, and melted ice cream is on the menu. Hopelessness is all in the air. For 9 hours, I was going through this IN MY HEAD! Around 11:00 that night, I had a conversation with myself (OUT LOUD) in my car: “Shellsy, you f’ed up. Yes, you messed up! I apologize to you for that mistake, I know stuff happens a.k.a. Auto Pay from Checking Account amnesia *sighs*. Own your part in it, be more watchful, and keep it moving!!!” BAM!!! One important advice that I strongly abide in is, don’t go to bed angry. Sort your stuff before you go to sleep. Negative energy has NO BOUNDARIES, it is similar to any cancer/disease, it can spread to any area that it wants to control and multiply cells. Letting your mind be plagued by depression, sadness, anger, or any negative thought can linger into your well-being, relationships, friendships, and  your careers. Don’t let it!!! Check this! We are humans, we are emotional creatures. Therefore, keep your emotions in check, love.
So, what did I do after my party ended? I made a list. It’s compiled with affirmations over my life and a to-do list to ‘keep myself in check’. A close friend of mine told  me, “Shellsy, you are living your dream and your purpose in life.”
Here is just a couple of things to keep in mind for anyone living out their purpose:

  • Self-discipline is key. Get close friends or someone you trust to help you be accountable with your decisions. Whether if it’s with your budgeting skills, relationships, getting tasks done, or any issue you need help with to conquer.
  • Know and ACCEPT that mistakes will happen. Perfectionists, beware! This will happen to you too. In Alcohol Anonymous meetings, the first thing you do to get on track to success over the addiction is acknowledging that you have an addiction issue. Now, that you know and you accept it, you…..
  • Move forward! This is where a lot of people get stuck because you don’t know where to go or how to get there. Think about your goals and passions. Make a list (step-by-step) on what you should do to complete that goal. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, make sure you stay consistent on getting it done!!!
  • CONSISTENCY! I say it all the time and stress over it! *Like this website!* You have to stay consistent to get results! It will get hard, but there is no ugly feeling like giving up on your passions! Meditate day and night, exercise, BE AROUND PEOPLE THAT YOU ASPIRE TO BE OR ADMIRE, podcasts, or whatever inspires/pushes you to be BETTER!!

Now, say a declaration aloud to yourself. This is the first step to your purpose in life! Much love and blessings to you guys!!!

Thank you for sticking with me on my rocky journey, but this is sooooo worth it!

‘Hi, my name is Shellsy. I make mistakes. I am still powerful and wise. I will move forward, CONTINUE TO STRIVE towards my goals and passions. I will not STRESS over what I did, I will use it to propel and drive me to make sure that I will NOT make the same mistakes. I am a fighter and a conqueror over all things that will try to deter me! I love myself and I will take care of myself: mentally, physically, and spiritually.’

Spread love and travel well,

Shell

 

This is for The “Homies”

This is for The “Homies”

#ShellSLAYSVancouver..watch for those hashtags.

I’ve experienced world travel and I’m looking forward to more as I grow comfortable to my new lifestyle. Canada…I’m coming for you next….#ShellSLAYSVancouverAlong the way, I’ve encountered different types of travelers (no, we are NOT all alike lol). Some will not settle for less than 3-stars and up hotels (Hey, Hilton!), while others prefer bed and breakfast accommodations (the Airbnbs’ and the HomeAways’) and hostels a.k.a. The DL (Dorm Life). Once you break those categories down, travelers’ have destination preferences. You have your Caribbean shakers, European lovers, African enthusiasts, Asian fiends, and so on and so forth. Then, there are the ones that are explorers of their own backyard. I call them The Domestics (it’s not that original but work with me lol). They are crowned the adventure seekers, looking for budget-friendly thrills, but still close to home. Lately, for those following my journey (sidenote: if you are new to my little rocky journey, check out my previous blog entries, thank you! ♥), I’ve been traveling around the U.S. because of some career/family adjustments and prior engagements in Houston. I will be back overseas by the end of 2017! Ok..ok….ok….so, what if you want to be around home for a bit?? WHERE do you go??? HOW do you get there????? Well, don’t worry, I’m going to tell you…of course!

DRIVING, RIDING, OR FLYING??

Beignets!! Essence Festival 2017, who’s coming??

If you are like me, I ask myself 2 questions, 1.What’s really going to stretch my dollar? $$$$$$$$$ 2.What means more to me, time or convenience? Budgeting is important for ANY traveler! For example: In less than a year, I went to New Orleans twice, by bus and driving my SUV (Beep, Beep, who got the keys to the Jeep?! Meeeeeeee!).

Driving: $35 gas, 5 1/2 hours dest. time, more time to experience the city, forcing myself to stay awakeNO WIFI, limited free parking, which meant streetcar (local) transportation which I LOVED!                                                                                     Bus (Shoutout to Megabus!): $25 upper deck front window ticket, 8 hours dest. time, less time to experience the city, taking PLENTY of naps, FREE WIFI, and UBER UBER…everywhere (I will never forget about that $85 dollars!) That will be in my heart for-EVAAAAA (Cardi B voice)!

As for flying, even with my tricks, STILL $60 dollars one way for 1 1/2 hours dest. time…….nah. For that trip, I had a goal (still surprised by that sneak attack by Uber, $85 smh) of keeping my transportation costs lower than my experience costs (you need a budget for New Orleans food!).

BUUUUT, everyone is different, what is valued to you???

Now the GOLDEN QUESTION, WHERE DO I GO AROUND THE UNITED STATES?!?!!

Yep, there is New York, L.A., and Miami, nice places but what about the hidden gems?

MY TOP 8 FAV places to Visit in the United States (**)-places I really want to go to

  • Austin, TexasFood, Live Music, Food, Cool Vibes, Nice People, Hiking,…..did I say food?? If you want to stay away from the very ‘lit‘ 6th Street, there is the Alamo Drafthouse (to experience some ‘abnormal sing-a-longs’ during the movie) or go to South Congress Ave. (SoCo) on a Thursday where you can shop, eat, or just hang out late.
  • Denver, Colorado – Beautiful mountain tops and hills, Lower Downtown nightlife, and THE BRONCOS! By far, one of the most beautiful places that I’ve been to. I suggest to go during the winter time to REALLY experience the scenery and the ski resorts!
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Good..Classic..BBQ, Nashville Hot Chicken from Hattie B’s!, Sunday Brunches (which is taken SERIOUSLY), Live Country Music….I’m a Southern girl, ‘nough said.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana – You guys should ALREADY KNOW how I feel about this city! Great cajun/creole food, great history (music, architecture, festivals), I can go on and on about this

    New Orleans Jazz Scene

    place. Just know you will NEVER meet people like New Orleans people, you swear that you’ve been friends since forever ago when you meet. This city shows its rich, joyous soul….only when you look for it. Hint: It’s NOT on Bourbon Street.

  • Seattle, Washington ** Kerry Park (the BEST view of the city, you can do that needle if you have the money to spare!), Seattle Art Museum, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, Paseo (cool Jamaican place featured on Travel Channel!)…just a few things that I will be doing there ♥
  • Washington D.C ** – The Land of Museums…free museums! (and the African American Museum!) I’m a nerd at heart and I work in a museum..so, it’s evident what I will be doing for majority of my time *shrugs*.
  • Arizona ** – The Grand Canyon, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just pure God’s creation in my face
  • Maine ** – Not only is it the northeasternmost U.S. state, it has the

    Maine Lighthouses!

    most beautiful shores full of lighthouses, beaches, and lobsters!

 

To be honest, I believe this is just for anyone, domestics and international lovers…shucks, from all walks of life! This is just a small taste of a testament that I am setting out for myself, another stamp to my self-discovery, if I can put it in words lol. If you are a traveler like me, a teacher, lawyer, or a barista….you have dreams and goals too! We have different paths, but we all strive for the same purpose: to better ourselves. Stick to your dreams (no matter how crazy they are!), anything is POSSIBLE!

This post is dedicated to my friends, my loves, my sisters, my brothers, my dreamers, my ‘doers’, my homies.

 

 

Me/Myself: The Struggle of My Life & My Passion

Me/Myself: The Struggle of My Life & My Passion

What happens when your world is in CONSTANT conflict with your purpose in life? Do you back down, do you take the hits, or DO YOU FIGHT BACK?!?? Lord knows that I love hard….but I fight just as hard. So, the obvious answer is YES, I Do Fight! Not physical (of course), but I fight for my beliefs, my character, and my passions.

For those new to my journey, I made a career change that lead to a new lifestyle. Quick Review! I did my first solo trip in Nov. 2016 (whoa, epiphany moment!), new eyes towards my purpose in traveling, quit my main income job to put more time towards my website and traveling. A lifestyle that almost everyone in my life didn’t like at all…..some of them don’t know what I do now. They know my passion for travel, buuuuut the solo part is always missing from my conversations. When they think traveling the world, it’s always in reverence of bad stereotypical movies, Taken and Hostel. (I can just hear some of my family members right now, ‘Don’t get taken!’ *giving serious side eye*) 

First OFF! (THIS SEGMENT HAS MOVIE SPOILERS AND A RANT, YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO SKIP THIS PART)

For that Taken movie, that whole situation could have been easily AVOIDED, if that promiscuous girl didn’t tell ALL of their business on where they stayed AND that they were alone ALL WEEK to that creepy guy. Why not have a banner for all to see?? Dodson_sings <<<< My Reaction to Stupidity

As for Hostel, AGAIN AVOIDABLE, it was unprofessional and just plain creepy from the get go. If I see a couple in one room, then the next night see a group of masculine guys in black throw all of their stuff in a trash bag??!?!?? I’m jetting that night! Fooooorgeeeeeet that!! I’m not saying that things such as trafficking and weird secret elite cults don’t happen in the world, but one thing you should possess as a traveler is wisdom. It can’t get you out of all situations, but it can take you out of most of them.

*OK!! BACK TO MY LIFE OF SOLO TRAVEL WOES!*

I come from a family that is comfortable with the ‘norm’. Normal job, normal interests, normal life. Pretty much like this >>>>>>>>>>>>>5450039845_5022b1a0c2

And, I’m this girl pretty much >>>>>916272pleasantville_1998_hdclub_mkv_11_24_331_000032Now that we have a visual, do you see where the struggle is? Recognizing and accepting what’s different.

How do you deal with it?….What do you do? Consistent questions in my life. I keep in mind that everyone is here for different things. We possess a set of skills and talents for something bigger than ourselves.

If you are going through a similar situation, here is a couple of things that I would advise:                                                                                             1. Know who you are and don’t let ANYONE take that away from you! People will come in to change you and/or distract (even family), but stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.                                            2. Take heed, but don’t always take in! This is where wisdom comes in. Your blessings and affirmations can come in from familiar and unfamiliar places. You have free will, you can sow it into your life or leave it be. Make sure that it’s for you, for that time!                                    3. In spite of, ALWAYS have love. Sometimes, this can be tough for me and my current situation with my family. Blood is thicker than water, which can be really good and really bad, be ready for both sides. Words from your family can affect your life, knowingly and unknowingly. It’s up to you to take it or leave it be. Spiritually, our hearts possess our emotions and desires. If you taint it with hate, it will affect your innermost self! Your passion, your purpose, your life is plagued!

From experience, I strongly encourage love AT ALL TIMES.

I know it’s tough for those out there going through the same thing, but WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER!  

You can’t change people or their attitudes, but you CAN control your actions towards it.

Please share with others, this post holds near and dear to my heart, since I’m sharing a piece of my life with all of you. This just might help someone going through with their loved ones. If you have any questions or comments, you can leave it in the comment section or shoot me an email: mshellsy@yahoo.com.

As always,                                                                                                                 Spread love and travel well.

 

 

 

 

Women’s Travel Conference 2017!

Women’s Travel Conference 2017!

Some of you already know that I've started my traveling journey on November 4, 2016 with my first official solo trip to New Orleans (check out my first blog on that *wink*). On the brink of a total burnout of everything in my life (your girl was going through!), I was in dire need for some sort of outlet. I said to myself, "I need a vacation, I need a vacation...then, I will be refreshed and alright." Well...during my away time, I felt like I was in my element...an indescribable amount of peace and assurance filled my spirit like never before. Afterwards, I thought the feelings would shake off and I go back to my normal, but......I couldn't faze it out. I've become entranced by traveling.....the mere word gives me shivers. Yes, ice cold lol. This fascination turned from a quick trip into a possible career. Yes, A CAREER!

Now, how did I come across this conference? Well, let me tell you how 'cookies' work in technology. In my term, cookies are little trails that keep accounts of everything little thing you do online, especially what you search. Since I look up things related to travel, I will have ads on the side of the window that tells me about Expedia flight deals, Hilton Honors Rewards perks, etc. On Facebook, an ad popped up on my newsfeed for the Annual Women's Travel Fest hosted by Go! Girl Guides. Of course, I clicked it....duh lol! The fest is a travel event just for women that consists of travel tips and support from well-cultured travel vets! Not only is it a place where I would meet like-minded women (cuckoo crazy about travel!) but it was held in one of my favorite cities, NEW ORLEANS!!! Ahhh!!! Yes, I'm screaming!

I'm not going to lie...I was not sure about going there. Knowing me, I made a very, very last minute decision at 10:00 at night to leave around 3:30 A.M. to be there on time for registration at 10......I know, I'm crazy and I'm proud.

I was so inspired by all of the speakers, vendors, and my new travel sister community. There was great tips on traveling solo as a woman, building a business in travel, getting the editor's attention in travel writing, how to make money from Instagram, and so..much..more. I was like a kid in a candy store, cliche but true. I've met great speakers like Deidre Mathis (the first African American to have a hostel in the U.S. and it will be in HOUSTON!), Kelly Lewis (founder of the fest), Shannon Kaiser (international motivational coach and bestselling author), and many more. I've even connected with other travelers from all over the world....London, New York, you name it. They were there representing!

Yes....I took freebies *cheesing* and bought a book from Ms. Deidre (make sure you check out her hostel, Wanderlust, if you are in the Houston area. It should be open around summer time!).

I felt the need to share this because this is starting to become more than just a blog to share my experiences and my emotions. This is the beginning of something great and powerful in my life to fulfill my purpose in this world.

Enlightening women and men that you can achieve your dreams, only if you apply yourself and help others along the way. You can do this!

Thanks for reading, loves 🙂                                                                                          Spread love and travel well.

 

Austin, You Love Me…I Know It (Part 2)

Austin, You Love Me…I Know It (Part 2)

As promised, I said that I was continuing my Austin experience with you all...and here we are. Sorry for the delay, I've been tired, lazy yet wired up all at once because of (my latest addiction) the Iced Vanilla Coffee at Chick-fil-a that I chug almost everyday til 10 p.m. *little voice whispering* Help!... Like, I do need help, but it's sooooo good! This explains why I'm typing this blog entry throughout the entire weekend, all hours of the morning. I am going to finish before 8 TODAY *fingers crossed*.

Day 2

Ok, picture this: There is a warm glow from the sun filling the room to wake you from a deep slumber. You start your early morning with a brisk, peaceful hike within central Austin trails. Afterwards, you enjoy a flavorful french toast, fruit, and eggs at a local restaurant with a cool glass of freshly-made orange juice.

Sounds great right? Well....it didn't happen.

With many attempts to wake up around 5:30 for a hike, we finally woke up and left around 12 (so much for that french toast smh). This was my first trail and it was a great suggestion by my coworker, Sara (Hey, girl!). It was at Barton Creek Greenbelt or "The Greenbelt" << local term, just 15 minutes away from our AirBnB and 20 minutes away from Downtown Austin, it is literally in the heart of the city. Little fact: Barton Creek Greenbelt is considered the 7th best hiking trail in Texas (Texas Outside). OooooOooooooo. You can go climbing, swimming, walk your dog, ride a bike, or just walk and take in the beauty of nature. It's a really popular place for locals, so I suggest going early around 6-10 a.m., if you don't want to get trampled by joggers and cyclists every 30 seconds (traffic will pick up around 12, especially on weekends). I found this blog post by Jessica Pino, if you want info on all the access points and great destinations at the Greenbelt >>> http://austinot.com/austin-greenbelt-guide

To be honest, I'm glad we didn't pass out with NO FOOD in our stomach (Does sunflower seeds count as a dietary supplement???) after the almost 2 hour hike. One of my friends told me about a place called Kerbey Lane Cafe and swears great things about it....why not? I've heard great things too. Coming to one of the locations off of South Lamar, the parking lot is crazy full along with the people hanging out the door. It is 2:30 on a Saturday, not surprised. They said the wait was 30-45 minutes....hmmm, yea.....not surprised. There was favor on our side because it didn't even touch 10 minutes for our turn to be seated, yes!!! This location has a modern, cute, retro 60's diner appeal with a sit-down counter service. Again, I love nostalgic-like places! Even though I love all different types of food, I have a deep rooted love for comfort food. I ordered a sweet roasted corn chowder for my appetizer (The best I've EVER had!) and for my main, Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli (my fav!). The sad thing was....there was a piece of plastic in my meatloaf, ahhhhh!!! It turned out to be the plastic from the package that the meatloaf was wrapped in before the cooking process. My waitress and the manager were really sympathetic towards the situation....like really. I didn't make a big fuss about it, I just lost my appetite *shrugs*. Again, they are the best customer service team that I've encountered in awhile. I felt nothing but sincere concern and compassion from the whole staff (and I'm not just saying that because I received a food comp *smiling hard*. I will try again soon...but not that meatloaf tho'.

After a much needed shower in that awful, dreadful shower (KILL the visuals, please!), we are getting ready for dinner with one of my coworker's cousin at this quirky, soul food spot called Lucy's On The Fly Chicken. (Hi, Danielle!) I wanted to try EVERYTHING on the menu!! Fried Gizzards, Fried Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken N' Waffle. After that quick daydream, I jumped back to this reality called "Budget City" and "What Money Do I have Now Island?". I decided to get the Deep Fried Deviled Eggs with house aioli (it had fried chicken skin!) and the Tenderlovin' Chicken Tenders (and yas, I was giving it some sweet luv lol). Great laughs, cool brisk weather, good food......we can only top this with a night of fun on 6th Street. Don't worry, no one was harmed or caused any embarrassment to themselves/others lol. It was a great last night with my friends!

Day 3

I don't know why my last day always seem to be the worst one for me (and I hope that it's not a trend with ALL of my trips).

Quick Recap on some of My Bad Last Day Trips:

  • Paris: Possible food poisoning and dehydration
  • New Orleans: Missed my bus to the station and bad Greyhound experience.
  • Austin: The longest wait for food.....ever. Thank you Gourdough!!

Credit: A Taste of Koko

Gourdough's is a food truck specializing in making extravagant burgers, sandwiches, and desserts using donuts!  So of course all of us wanted to try it! It took almost 2 hours for food to get ready (and having the food come out was a different story). We sat at the bar being somewhat entertained by a drag queen show (unexpected) and a bar staff full of sarcasm, making nicknames based off my attire (Overalls). Frustrated, we cancelled our order and left the establishment.....worst of all....still hungry. We didn't care where we wanted to eat, just as long as we had something and leave Austin on time.

While my coworkers are getting Whataburger, I still had a kick for something local. Just a couple of feet away from the restaurant is an old school hamburger stand called Sandy's. It has the walk up window service, dipped chocolate ice cream cones, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, custard.....need I say more? I had a cheeseburger and fries, I'm still thinking about it! Old school good food, old school good prices = winning!

The Austin trip had its ups and downs, but it will go down as one of the best experiences of my life and I didn't do it alone. I can't wait to go back for a new adventure (yes, even try Gourdough's again)!

Austin Take Aways!

  1. Embrace what the city offers. Explore the Hope Outdoor Art Gallery like what I did (the featured pic in my overalls lol), trails, and the live music scene.
  2. Get that local food! The places that I've been to is just a small bit of what Austin has. Other places that I've heard are good: Micklethwait Craft Meats, Torchy's Tacos, Veracruz All Natural Food Truck, Moonshine Grill, Whip In, plus so much! Google it!
  3. Ask locals. I say this for anywhere you go! Who knows better than the people who live in the area that you are visiting?!
  4. Start your day early. Spread your day evenly to enjoy the scene that you're in. Enjoy an early morning stroll, have breakfast in a cozy cafe, brunch outside, an afternoon of local attractions, and so forth! Take it all in!

Well loves, until next time.....Spread love and travel well.

Leave your girl some love and feedback! If you want more advice on food, travel, or just some support on taking adventures head on...let me know! Plus, I have the notification tabs below on every post below the comment section to let you know, if you want to stay tuned on every new post!

 

Oh, Austin…..

Oh, Austin…..

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist….that is all.

Oscar Wilde

Experiencing where you are can bring a new perspective to your world. Usually, when you decide to travel the world, you want to go far away from your surroundings. In my case, Western Europe (France, UK, Spain, etc.), China, Indonesia, Japan, and Africa. I want to create great experiences in my world travels like my 2-hour hammock resting and yoga in Bali, life as a monk in a monastery and sushi making in Japan, and so much more!

I get so caught up in all the hype, that I forget about my own backyard. Shucks, I’m ashamed of myself, the U.S. is truly beautiful and each state possess their own unique qualities.

For instance, the great Lone Star State…..my state….TEXAS! In my 27 years of life, I’ve only been to Austin ONE TIME previous to this trip. It’s only 2 hours away from Houston, buuuut I didn’t go alone. I went with my awesome coworkers from my job, which made it twice as fun! My short-term narrrow mind didn’t know that I could take such a beautiful picture of a flower tree (flower unknown to this day) on a hiking trail in central Austin………Ta-da! >>>

Eclectic Food…Live Music…Hiking…SXSW…Chill People…Cool Vibes…      Austin is the total opposite of the stereotypical Texas (cowboys, horses, etc.), which is why we ‘Keep Austin Weird’.

 

Day 1

More like half a day….didn’t get there until around 8:30 and I didn’t eat ALL DAY! First things first…BBQ. We go to the U.S. famed, award-winning The Salt Lick Barbeque, known for the All You Can Eat Ribs, Brisket and Sausage and the not-so-ordinary BBQ Sauce. It was really good, not great. Meat is one thing for me, but sides are my favorite! Unfortunately, they only have 3 sides (beans, coleslaw, and potato salad). I had the brisket and sausage plate with double potato salad and beans, I haaaaaaaate coleslaw. The sausage and the potato salad was the best thing on my plate. I prefer my meat to be a bit more cooked and smoky from the pit. The beans was the worst ever…..it was just beans on a plate. I’m telling you…onions, bell peppers….shucks, even salt and pepper can go a loooong way with those beans. Yes, I’m a palm tree, I’m shading. Besides my disappointment with the beans, the golden yellow barbeque sauce was amazing to me, the original and spicy recipe, was A1! ……No wonder why they sell it worldwide.

What made the night go even more lovely was our beloved, cozy accommodation (sarcasm included).  The property is cute, quaint, and very “homey’. Now, the inside is a whole different story. (Brace yourselves, graphic descriptions. Well, for me, I remember VISUALS.) The door…..the door is rachet as heck broke. Our AirBnB host left notes and texts about the door with ways on how to open the door and lock it. Ugh. The studio can only fit 3 people in my opinion, not 5 as listed. It had a kitchenette, bathroom (open razor and soap in shower, dirty!), and a queen size bed (that broke down 3 times, which states I’m fat lol plus stains on the sheets, DIRTY!). I rate the place 2 out of 5, the 2 stars is for the property being 5 minutes from Downtown, besides that ZERO. You get my point. Notes on picking the right AirBnB: LOOK AT REVIEWS, location of the property, don’t depend heavy on pictures (pictures can be manipulated, not people), and money does weigh in with quality. If you want a 5 star, penthouse in a downtown area, be ready to spend a little more. 

One thing that I fell in love with was the old school gas heater (I’m a fan of nostalgic things).     

Now, since Day 2 consists plenty of info (a full day!)…..I will make a PART 2 of my time in Austin. So, stay tuned with that!!

To end this post, I leave you with a beautiful video of me ATTEMPTING to properly light a gas heater. Enjoy! …..and no one was harmed during the taping of this video.

https://www.facebook.com/rawr.its.danie/videos/vb.659378413/10154181988423414/?type=2&theater