Category Archives: New Experiences

Eating Well and Using Your Creativity in the Process!

Standard

There are countless ways to express your creativity — through the written word, creating an aesthetically pleasing home environment, building a business or through a variety of artistic endeavors. ¬†But nothing can compare to creating a colorful salad ūü•ó.

The salad pictured below was a three person endeavor created at my home for a Paella Party back in June. ¬†In this beautiful bowl was Spinach, Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes ūüćÖ, Red Onion, Mandarin Oranges, Cranberries and Bleu Cheese.

Eating is a necessity, but preparation and cooking is an art form!

#thisidoforme

IMG_2167.jpg

Advertisements

I USED TO BE AFRAID OF DYING — NOW I’M JUST AFRAID OF NOT LIVING!

Standard

How many times have we said we wanted to do something and five years later we find ourselves saying the same thing or we look up and we are no closer to our desires than when we first spoke of them?

Stop procrastinating! Stop worrying about the future! And by all means stop dying by not setting some goals and consistently working toward them!

Live! Live! Live! This…I…Do…For…Me

IMG_2569

MAKE 2018 THE YEAR THAT YOU COMMIT TO RADICAL SELF-CARE!

Standard

Like so many of Ann Lamott’s powerful insights and quotes, I especially like this one because it propelled me to look at self-care as a radical act.

No longer of the mindset that taking care of myself is an act of selfishness, I now see it as high level activism. ¬†“Why?” you ask.

Simple — because unless we feed our bodies energetic food, our minds powerful fodder and surround ourselves with nutrient-rich people who support us and call us out when necessary, we can be of little benefit to others nor have a true impact on our world.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that being a sacrificial lamb earns us a place in the pantheon of sainthood.

Here’s to a life of radicalism! ¬†Happy New You!

 

 

IMG_2626

2017 RECAP OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME ACTIVITIES — IT WAS A GOOD YEAR!!

Standard

As I reflect over the 2017, I realize it was an extremely busy year.¬† It was a year of a lot of firsts for me, particularly as it relates to building my two year old business This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM).

It was a year that allowed me to see how I brought dreams to fruition for others and just how much satisfaction I derived from playing a role in that.¬† It was also a year where I faced some long-standing doubts and fears, and surprisingly I came out on the other side!¬† I like to do yearly recaps mainly so that I can not only see what I’ve accomplished, but examine the misses and areas where I still need to grow, as well.

So for all that it brought, here is TIDFM’s 2017 recapped:

TRAVEL

January — I, along with nine female relatives, took (what has become known as “The Cousins’ Trip”) a four day jaunt to Atlanta, Georgia. Our cousin and her husband treated us royally. ¬†The trip was made especially memorable because we traveled there during the time¬†Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ¬†birthday was being celebrated in his hometown.¬†¬† It was also magical to spend that time with family members.¬† We took in the movie “Hidden Figures”, saw Roy Ayers perform at the City Winery, ate at some fabulous restaurants, laughed and talked, talked and laughed, and more importantly, we paid homage to Dr. King by visiting his grave site, ¬†along with that of his dedicated wife and comrade Coretta Scott King.

 

IMG_2152

March — I was able to visit a close friend who lives in Berkeley, California.¬† This was the first time that I spent my entire time in Berkeley versus spending time in Oakland or San Francisco.¬† We saw an art exhibit at¬†Berkeley Museum of Art, ate Bi Bim Bap at a¬† Korean¬†restaurant (ate there twice because I can never get enough of Bi Bim Bap), watched a myriad of movies at her home and¬†toured the campus of The University of California, Berkeley.¬† I have always wanted to see this campus, especially because of its history of protest, advocacy and of being a change agent.

A visit to the Bay area would not be complete without paying a visit to the outstanding restaurant Burma Superstar!  That place! That place!  They offer every imaginable way to please your palate; their coconut rice alone will have you begging for more, and the variety of Burmese food offered is amazing.

IMG_2590

September — I finally got to travel to a city that I have been longing to visit for quite some time.¬† This trip, like my¬†excursion to Atlanta, allowed me to spend time with family — 3 cousins — who made my trip so special.¬† Not only is Seattle a most gorgeous city, its food scene is amazing and as diverse as its residents.¬† You want good ice cream?¬† There is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.¬† You want really good Sushi?¬† There is Trappers.

And I can’t ¬†forget my visit to the famed Pike’s Market, The Northwest African American Museum and the city’s Space Needle!

IMG_2171

 

 

 

The University of Washington’s campus is picturesque, and situated on that campus are some of the most architecturally unique buildings I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Seattle’s weather is my kind of weather.¬† Although it was overcast on several days, the breezes and fresh air made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Also, Seattle gave me a chance to be mesmerized by The Chihuly Exhibit held on The Seattle Space Museum Caampus — what magnificent work!

IMG_2614.JPG

IMG_2579

IMG_2588

 

 

 

IMG_2601.JPG

IMG_2610

October — Reykjavik, Iceland — Not a place I would have ever imagined myself visiting until I came across an incredible fare offered by Southwest Airlines, but AM I GLAD I DID!¬† Naturally, once I really began to research Aurora Borealis (aka The Northern Lights), I was determined to witness this phenomenon first hand.¬† On a cold Iceland evening, I got my chance.¬† How awe-inspiring it was!

IMG_2611

 

IMG_2578

IMG_2587

Who would have thought I would have paid to join an excursion to whale watch? ¬†I maintained the attitude that “as long as I am here, I might as well immerse myself in Icelandic culture.” ¬†It was cold and wet, but I felt like a trooper because I pushed myself to do something that I would never have done before.¬† I saw not only whales, but but I saw humpback dolphins, and other unrecognizable water bound animals.

I shivered my butt off, but I enjoyed every minute.

 

 

 

I was also able to partake in a two hour Icelandic Beer Class where you not only tasted a variety of beers (that was a lot of fun), but I learned about what was going on historically in Iceland at the time those beers were crafted.  Our class members were from Canada, Italy and Sweden.

IMG_2612.JPG

Of course we took the obligatory city tour — Reykjavik’s Cultural Building was hosting a run of Tosca, along with some lesser known productions and exhibits.

IMG_2613

We also saw the building (pictured below) where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev held in 1986 made progress toward creating The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and The Soviet Union.

IMG_2577

The highlight of the city tour was seeing the Lutheran Church¬†Hallgrimskir, which is one of Iceland’s hallmark tourist attractions. Running a close second was bathing in the iconic Blue Lagoon.

IMG_2596

November — The end of the year saw me revisit Sydney, Australia, but unlike my first visit in 2015 where I went Down Under solo, this time I escorted eight women aged 50+ to the land of Oz! ¬†It was a monumental trip because it was the first official excursion for This…I…Do…For…Me and it was the first time some of the ladies had ever left the United States. ¬†AUSTRALIA WAS EVERYTHING!

Our Sydney, Australia¬† Itinerary Included:¬† The Sydney Opera House Tour, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Cronulla Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Seeing the Southern Cross at the Sydney Observatory, Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud, Watson’s Bay and Doyle’s Restaurant, Bondi Junction (for shopping) Day Trip to The Blue Mountains and numerous restaurants representing Thai, Greek, German, Italian and Mexican Cuisines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2606

IMG_2605

IMG_2608

IMG_2607

OTHER 2017 THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME GROUP OUTINGS AND EVENTS

  1.  We took a Greek Cooking Class at Sur La Table in Chicago;
  2.  I and 12 TIDFM patrons participated in a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing led by Sommelier Brian Duncan at Eddie Vs on The Gold Coast;
  3. We attended The City Winery’s Sunday Concert Series; classical, jazz and choral music was the fare;
  4. We attended a Salute to Katherine Dunham at The Harold Washington Library;
  5. We attended both The Annual African American Film Festival and viewed a film monthly at The Gene Siskel Film Center;
  6. TIDFM sponsored its First Annual Book Swap and Dinner at Eddie Vs;
  7. ¬†We attended three theatrical productions — Hamilton, An American in Paris and The Bodyguard;
  8. TIDFM in conjunction with Chisiko offered a Women Warrior Masterpiece Art Class at Robust Coffee Shop;
  9. We attended The Chicago Cultural Center’s showing of the documentary “Still I Rise” featuring the life of phenomenal Activist, Writer and Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou;
  10. We attended a musical performance featuring drummer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington and Liz Wright;
  11. We attended Dixon School’s Annual African American Cultural Festival;
  12. I attended “Black Girls Gather” in Chicago hosted by “For Harriett “Writer and Activist Kimberly Foster;
  13. I was invited to join The Shanghai Committee for The Chicago Sister Cities Program;
  14. I even learned how to play Mah Jong;
  15. Attended The Annual Good Food Conference;
  16. I threw my first Paella Party (see pics below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2615

I am excited about 2018, as TIDFM will be traveling to Greece in September!  We will continue to experience the wonderful cultural scene that Chicago offers.

I will keep you posted on our other exciting events scheduled for throughout the year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  MAY PROSPERITY ABOUND! #thisidoforme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 2 — STRATEGIES FOR FINDING AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

Standard

NEW BLOG POST!

Now that you have some ideas about the various ways to travel to your destination via assistance from various airline/flight hacks, let’s explore the multitude of ways to secure affordable accommodations.

IMG_1343.JPG

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not to be tied in to staying in one type of accommodation. Here are a few:

  • ¬†Airbnb, HomeAway,VRBO — as part of the “sharing” economy, these three peer-to-peer online home stay networks are wonderful ways to experience a destination as if you are at home. ¬†They come in the form of private homes, condos and apartments — fully furnished! I have used both VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb in cities like New York City, San Francisco and Boston). They are even available for international destinations. I plan to rent one the next time I travel to Paris or London. ¬†To secure, you merely have to check availablity, place a deposit for the dates you desire, and look forward to your adventure. ¬† I find that I prefer these arrangements over hotels, not so much because I dislike hotels, but because I get to cook my own meals in a fully stocked kitchen, launder my clothing and relax in a homey environment. ¬†They are equipped with towels, pots/pans, wifi, and modern appliances. There are a variety of price ranges depending on the pricing assigned by the owner. ¬†I’ve stayed in high end ones, and I’ve stayed in ones that were more economical — all were class acts. Payments are made online. Please visit each entity’s website for more information. ¬†Below are pics from an Airbnb in New York City.
  • Hostels — this arrangement is often more economical; here guests can rent a bed (dormitory style), share bathrooms, and there are usually common area lounges and kitchens. ¬†Unlike hotels, hostel rates are incredibly lower than hotels, and in many you can find book and music sharing ¬†programs. It’s very communal, and opportunities to meet, socialize and hang out with other hostelers is very prominent. If you are one for privacy, you won’t find it in a hostel. EVERTHING IS NOT FOR EVERBODY. I’ve done it once, and although I have met and maintained relationships with some great people from Malta, Sweden, Canada and England while staying at a hostel in Paris, I probably won’t do it again — only because I am past dormitory style living. However, if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind communal living and interaction, this arrangement is a viable one. Additionally, there are systems in place for securing valuable items. ¬†Many even provide airport shuttle services, along with internet lounges and a means for booking city tours. Despite the age old stereotype that hostels are best suited for students, and nomadic types, there are high end hostels and ones that¬†offer private rooms (albeit at an additional cost). ¬†Be sure to check out Hostelworld.com ¬†Below are pics of a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Couchsurfing — I must admit that I have not experienced this one first hand. Every time I vow to try it, I chicken out! I can’t seem to muster up the courage to sleep on a total stranger’s couch. ¬†However, a couple of friends have couched surfed, and they found it safe and convivial. Although a guest could conceivably stay on a host’s couch, private rooms in homes are often provided. ¬†One of the most attractive features of Couchsurfing is that it is free; there is an annual membership fee, however. If you have a skill or talent or other interests, these can be shared, also, with your host.

img_1771

If you still prefer staying in a traditional hotel, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements through booking.com, a great site! ¬†Whenever I have used this site, I have had pleasurable results. ¬†For example, for an overnight layover in Dublin, Ireland, I booked a room through this website, and I landed a beautiful room in The Clayton Hotel (really luxurious) for a mere $79.00. ¬†When I arrived — super exhausted, I might add, the hotel agent kindly informed me that the Clayton was providing me with an upgrade to a suite. ¬†When I asked him how much it would cost, he gently replied “courtesy of us.” ¬†Needless to say, I’m going back to Dublin soon, AND I’M STAYING AT THE CLAYTON!

CHECKOUT THESE WEBSITES:

airbnb.com, couchsurfing.org, hostelworld.com, homeaway.com, vrbo.com

NOTE: ¬† Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about tips for “Traveling Comfortably.”

 

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 1 — Strategies on Finding Affordable Airfares!

Standard

If you’re hell bent on traveling the world in the same old way each time you do it, these tips may not be helpful to you. What I’m sharing here is for the OPEN-MINDED traveler that is willing to explore different and unique approaches to travel.

Although I have experienced travel where I’ve stayed in top notch hotels, ate numerous gourmet meals and taken my share of spacations, I am equally at home in an AirBnB, where I can prepare my own meals and still have very nice amenities at my fingertips.

img_1564

What I would like to share with you over the course of several posts, are travel tips that allow you to travel economically thereby allowing you to maximize your dollars!

So let’s start in this post by examining a number of ways to secure deals on your flights.

I strongly feel that being flexible and not relying on one mode of securing flight arrangements, no matter how it has worked for you previously, opens you up to the best opportunity in the moment.  For example, I once found a round trip ticket to New York City for $150 USD inclusive of taxes and and all typical fees! How?  That time through a travel agent.  Ironically, that same trip was pricing out at $100 more not more than a month later.  The next time that I needed to book a trip to NYC, I searched for another travel arrangement through Travel Zoo.  Although the cost was more expensive than the $150 ticket I secured on that first example I spoke of, it was still less expensive than the instance that cost me an additional $100.  This time it cost me $177.00.

Another tactic in your air fare search arsenal is to keep your ears and eyes open on special and often unbelievable deals that the airlines offer. ¬†For example, recently Southwest Airlines ran a 72 hour promotion for its shortest routes in the United States. ¬†My cousin got her ticket for NYC to Atlanta for $104 round trip! ¬†Although I purchased my ticket prior to Southwest’s special promotion, I was able to find a great deal for $222 by going directly to Delta’s website!

What about International flights? Well, I needed to get to Madrid back in June, and I found one hell of a deal from Chicago to Dublin to Madrid on Expedia for $893.72. ¬†For this flight, I had a seven hour layover in Dublin (going to Madrid), and although I had a 17 hour layover in Dublin (on the return to Chicago), I had enough time to experience some of this fun Irish city! I met some great people, hung out on O’Connell Street had had a fantastic meal, along with ¬†beer at a local pub — The Temple Bar!

This mini excursion gave me enough to know that I would like to return for a longer visit. I have never had a layover that long, but I made the most of it by not spending it in the airport.

Dublin has a wonderfully vibrant airport with over 200 businesses, eateries, chocolatiers, perfumeries and designer stores.

NOTE:  Literally two minutes ago, a notification from TRIP Advisor came up n my feed informing me of an airfare for $734 from Oakland to Madrid (as you have probably guessed, I love Madrid)!  Now that is a deal.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT FLIGHT RESOURCES

The following are search options that I have not only researched when looking for a good fight price, but these sites have produced for me some results at wonderful prices:

Fareness.com — Where should I go in April for the best flight destination? ¬†This site offers a wide range of destinations and travel periods (e.g. check where to travel to from October to February) and receive immediate results highlighting the lowest air fares. Then you can build the rest of your vacation based what is most economical for you versus making that decision based on locale only;

Yapta.com — A very underutilized resource — tracks pricing for millions of flights worldwide allowing you (like Fareness.com) to first pick a travel spot, then creating your activities around that.

The Flightdeal.com — Targeting flights to cities that are six cents or less per mile — Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Baltimore, Philly, D.C., Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco!

Airfarewatchdog.com — The airlines reduce airfares daily, but they don’t advertise them. This site notifies you of fare glitches and/or bargains.

Expedia.com — I have had really good success with this site. ¬†If you don’t mind layovers (sometimes long ones), Expedia can become your best friend! You can find really good deals, and you can access by internet or telephone agents.

In summary, here are the things you must be willing to do to snag great deals:

  • ¬† ¬† Search Often;
  • ¬† ¬† Sign Up for Email Alerts;
  • ¬† ¬† Use Twitter;
  • ¬† ¬† Use Priceline for Last Minute Trips;
  • ¬† ¬† Combine Two Separate Fares Versus Booking One Fare (can be cheaper)

To utilize my consulting services on economical trip planning, please contact me at robin@thisidoforme.com

IMG_1634.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Wanna Join Me in Greece?!?!

Standard

As you all know, I love to travel! So, I’m letting you in on a little secret today!

This…I…Do…For…Me is announcing its 2018 International Excursion (its back to Sydney, Australia in 2017) to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos!

The beautiful aspect of this adventure is that airfare is also included, making this one of the most affordable international offerings that you will come across.

There are only 14 slots available, and as I announced this dream vacation on my social media platforms today, five slots were immediately taken! Don’t think too hard — JUST GO!

If you are seriously interested in seeing stunning Greece, please contact me at 773/759-1374 for information on cost, payment plans and a detailed itinerary.

OPA!

img_1708

 

ANTICIPATION!!

Standard

As I prepare for my trip to France later this week,  I am paying close attention to all the emotions that are flooding my mind, body and soul.

What stands out is the sense of anticipation that I am experiencing, not just excitement, but a feeling that something is about to be birthed.  Usually, I am excited about the new country that I am going to visit, the foods that I will sample and of course, the shopping that I will get to do.

I have been to France before on two other occasions (Paris, Aix, Marseille), and although I will excitingly get introduced to new French towns/cities (St. Tropez, Beaune, Monaco, Lyon), this trip is different from other trips taken in the past.

I can’t recall anticipating visiting a new city with the hope of returning home to plan something — a trip, an excursion to new restaurant, an educational lecture — not for me, but for you! ¬†“This I Do For Me” readers, I take this trip with brand new eyes and a heart for creating something for you that you will remember, always.

While I’m traveling, please check our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest pages. ¬†Wheels Up!

Baguettes, Macarons and Crepes -- Here I Come!

Baguettes, Macarons and Crepes — Here I Come!