Category Archives: This I Do For Me




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.


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  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.


If you still prefer staying in a traditional hotel, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements through, 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!


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








So here we go!

This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) wants YOU to submit a photo for its monthly “Photo of the Month” contest, and we will post the month’s selection on my blog


Criteria:  The photo should highlight some form of caring for others, self-care or care of the environment.  Caring is the central theme!

After the twelfth month, we will select the photo of the year, and the winner will receive a $100.00 card from the contest’s sponsor!  Contest requirements will be shared later.

We at TIDFM are excited because the world needs more CARE and CARING, and you can show it how its done!  We look forward to receiving your photos




Photo:  Some of the Volunteers and Spainards — Class #1056.  I’m on the far left



Everyone thinks that the primary way to travel is by taking a traditional vacation replete with great hotels, tour guides, super expensive airfares and meals. I’m here to tell you that another fantastic way to get your travel jones satisfied is through participation in the Diverbo Program!

What is Diverbo, you ask? It is a language immersion program (means diversity and language) designed for Spanish speaking adults (there is also a children’s and youth program). Many of the program’s participants are employees of companies where gaining a greater command of the English language is becoming increasingly important. As a result, these employers are willing to invest in their employees so that transacting business with English speaking clients becomes easier.


Photo:   Volunteers and Spainards hanging out in La Alberca, Spain

The Spanish speaking participants during my time with the program ranged from 18 to mid 50s. They were from Barcelona, Malaga, Almeria, Madrid, Bilbao and Marbella. Additionally, the English speaking volunteers were from various parts of the United States, England, New Zealand and Canada and were of varying ages.
Here’s how it works.


Photo:  Improving their English, Diverbo is a week of immersion

You must complete an application that gives you an opportunity to share why the Diverbo Program is of interest to you. By the way, the program prefers people who speak no Spanish so that you are not tempted to speak the language with participants who really need the immersion in English during your eight (8) days in La Alberca (Salamanca Region), Spain.

You will have the sheer pleasure of working with the Spainards individually and in group settings to improve their English through FUN activities and activities. More importantly, you will walk away from the experience with a boatload of new friends – both from Spain and around the globe.


Photo:  Volunteers and Spainards getting familiar with the town of La Alberca, Spain

You must be willing to talk, talk, talk and talk some more! The activities are led by a Master of Ceremonies and a Diverbo Program Director. Some days, I laughed so hard that I cried – that is how fun the exercises are. Needless to say, although I was a volunteer, I ended my week with Diverbo having received more than I gave. Eternal Bonds are created.

Diverbo covers the cost of your accommodations (lovely villas) and all meals (extremely delicious). Even two glasses of wine were included with every lunch and every dinner!


Photo:  My Villa while during my eight days volunteering with Diverbo

This volunteer experience has left an indelible impression on my entire life.  Travel had always been a vechicle for my growth and development, and it has allowed me to really push to get the most out if life.  However, a volunteer travel experience really forces you to see that it’s not always about you, but how you make a difference in another’s life.  Would I do Diverbo/Pueblo Ingles, again?  I’ll just say,”Viva la Espana!”


Photo:    Can someone tell me where all the fun is?

For more information, visit Diverbo.come




Photo:  The Make Up Diva, Courtney Waldon

I interviewed Make Up/Makeover Artist Courtney Waldon, owner of Courtney: The Make Up Diva!  She shared some sage advice on inner beauty and overall self-care, particularly for women age 50+.

All of the photos in this article highlight Courtney’s make up/makeover artistry.


TIDFM: Please tell our TIDFM audience about your business.

Courtney: I have been a make artist for the past 13 years. I have had experience
serving as a make up artist on music videos, album covers,
weddings, photo shoots and Tru Stars (a teen magazine).

Most of my assignments have come through word of mouth referrals,
and my business is known by he brand “Courtney: The Make Up Diva.”

Before starting my business, I freelanced quite a bit, and I eventually
accepted a full time position with the iconic Mario Tricoci Hair Salons
and Day Spas.

Prior to that, I worked mainly in the corporate sector where I
supported attorneys, administratively.

TIDFM: What is your favorite type of assignment?

Courtney: I love working on weddings mainly because I get to be a part of a big
transformation in someone’s life. Make up can make or break the
bride’s look. For these assignments, I tend to aim for giving the
subject a classic and timeless look so that when you look at
those wedding photos 20 years later, they don’t look outdated.




TIDFM: What is the mission of Courtney: The Make up Diva?

Courtney: Approachable Beauty! Everyone is beautiful; enhancement of that
beauty is what I promote.

TIDFM: Why is your business a passion for you?

Courtney: Because makeup is a small, yet transformational item that can change
how you view yourself. It can conceal shyness, boost self-esteem. In
essence, I see my role as that of an Image Therapist.

TIDFM: Who are your clients?

Courtney: The woman desiring a new look or wanting to get out of a rut, teens
preparing for a variety of events (like a prom)and the man that needs
some grooming.

TIDFM: Please define beauty.

Courtney: It comes from within! It can also be identified by an inner glow.
It’s also different body shapes, sizes, and it’s everywhere. Make up
expresses the inside of you, which is naturally beautiful.


TIDFM: How does a person know when they need a makeover?

Courtney: If you have not received a compliment in six months, it’s likely that it’s time for a change.

Wearing  the same thing without new additions to
your wardrobe is another indicator. It’s important to remember
that even a new piece of jewelry can add flavor to your look.

It is also important to remember that when the seasons change, you
must change. You can always check out your favorite magazines for
ideas — Glamour and Essence are good resources.

TIDFM: What beauty and self-care tips would you offer a woman 50+ years

Courtney: You must include a facial mask with retinal in your beauty regime. This
helps with wrinkles and fine lines. Make taking care of yourself your
number one priority. Those people in your life will appreciate you even
more. Aim for a natural look.

Also,  a more mature woman may have to build her brow or any area where she has ex-
perienced losses.

TIDFM: How does a woman 50+ embark on a new style road?

Courtney: Aim for what is comfortable for you. Once you have solidified that,
take a risk, step out and try something new. You will be surprised at how
great you will feel.

TIDFM: What should every woman 50+ know about skin and hair care?
What products should every woman 50+ have?

Courtney: Primers, primers, primers! This  product is a must have for eyes,
and lips. A complementary foundation is also a must have.

TIDFM: What piece of clothing should the 50+ age woman have in her closet?

Courtney: A really good fitted (nipped in the waist) blazer; it’s perfect for jeans,
pants, dresses and skirts.

TIDFM: What is the best advice an older woman gave you?

Courtney: “To make sure that a man loves you more than you love him.”

TIDFM:  Thank you Courtney for your time.


“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT — Antonia Ruppert


Below are photos of artist Antonia (Toni) Ruppert’s exhibit entitled “Portraits of Motherhood.”

The exhibit will run February 25 through April 22, 2016 at Loyola University’s Mundelein Center, 1020 W. Sheridan Road in Chicago.


Come out and support her and be wowed my her inspiring work!
















Starving for Fun in DC: Guest Blogger Yvonne Hawkins Shares Her Journey


This…I…Do…For…Me is excited to welcome Yvonne D. Hawkins as a contributing and guest blogger!  Monthly, Yvonne will share her adventures and explorations in the Washington, D.C/Maryland/Virginia area with us.


It’s working even before I’ve started.

See, my spirit is starving for fun. I’ve been so busy, and I didn’t see fun anywhere on my recent to-do lists. Not since January’s first weekend when I ate at, Jaleo, an area tapas restaurant, for the first time to celebrate 2016’s arrival.

A girlfriend suggested the spot. It has a few locations in the D.C. area. I ordered a burger and another dish. It was the tiniest burger we both ever had seen. But it was good. And I had fun trying something new and spending the first days of the year with a friend.p

Fun missed the cut, though, since then. So fun didn’t get done. Yeah, that happens.

So I’ve created Artist’s Saw as a space where busy people can feed their spirits–day by day. Local adventure helps feed my spirit in between big trips. And my adventures of exploring the Washington, D.C. area also will run in This I Do For ME every month.

First, I’m off to Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, for lunch, then to the Alexandria Black History Museum, and Heritage Park . With the excitement of New Year’s Day gone, I’m focusing on truly getting centered for the year.

Alexandria has tons of African-American history because of the area’s role in the nation’s growth. So I’m going to the museum and park to connect with my ancestors while the new year is still young.

The restaurant, nestled in an area of Alexandria called Old Town, is a frequent flyer on must-do tourists lists. I’ve lived in Northern Virginia for four years now, but I’ve never eaten there. I want to know if it’s really a must-do place like people say.

Adventure awaits! And I think it’s working already.Tapas burger

Yvonne D. Hawkins is an ordained minister, recovering newspaper journalist, Christian life coach, and church leadership consultant. She currently lives in Northern Virginia. She went to college and seminary in Evanston, Illinois, so she deeply misses Lake Michigan. And the Taste of Chicago. She definitely misses The Taste. Her newest blog is