Love, Food, Travel

Tag: Austin

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!!

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

 

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