Tag Archives: Darling Harbour



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:


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.



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.


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!





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!









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!





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.














  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)










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.
























This is the 3rd and final installment of my posts on Spectacular Sydney, Australia!

I have been back from Sydney, Australia for a little over a month, and like with so many things, the impact of that experience continues to unfold. Most notably, the main thing that will always be at the forefront of my mind are the friendly people that I encountered and how open Sydneysiders were to converse, ask and answer questions.


Photo:  The Famed Sydney Opera House


Take Mayleen, who I met while eating breakfast at The Queen Victoria Building (QVB).  Noticing that I was obviously not from Sydney (maybe looking more African American than Aboriginal was a dead give away) nor from England (my American accent often mistaken for being from the southern states versus the south side of Chicago),

Mayleen had just sat down across from me to enjoy a pastry and a cup of coffee before she reported to work at a boutique in the building.  She immediately asked where I was from, and when I responded “Chicago,” she wanted to know more about me and specifically more about the churches in my city. She explained that she was a member of  the Pentacostal faith, and she truly hoped to visit the churches led by Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen someday.

We discussed and even lightly laughed and joked about some of the craziness going on in the world and how we must pray for its healing.  We exchanged information so that once either I returned to Sydney or she traveled to Chicago, we could connect.  We said our goodbyes. I remember thinking how pleasant the experience was and really feeling good about taking this trip.

Then there was a young (in her early 20s) woman named Tanta, who was of Balinese descent but had grown up in Sydney.  She was passing out chocolate samples outside of Haigh’s, a premium chocolatier.  Once I detected that she was friendly and would be open to questions, I said, “I’m just going to come out and ask you, why does Sydney have so many Asian citizens.”  It’s important to note that from the time I step off of my flight in the airport, I noticed that it seemed that every seven in ten people I saw were of Asian heritage.


Photo:  Inside The Sydney Opera House


Tanta chuckled and explained that 44% of the people in Sydney were not from there and that many of that 44%  were primarily Chinese.  Tanta attributed it to the development of new economic markets.  She, too, wanted to know where I was from and what I was doing in Sydney.  She told me about her desire to visit the U.S., and maybe even experience living in either NYC or San Francisco. She seemed so excited while chatting with me that another layer of Sydney was embedded in my heart and consciousness.

She wished me an enjoyable experience and urged me to do The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb.  Needless to say, I had no intention of doing that climb, so I smiled and thanked her for her kindness but not before I went into Haigh’s to purchase some salted caramel chocolates.



Photo:  In The Rocks Section of Sydney


Photo:  Life is Good in Sydney!


In the midst of meeting friendly Australians, I encountered some very friendly North Americans —  Ryan from San Diego, Savannah from Montreal, both of whom I spent an entire afternoon with on a city tour and a group of three lively young men from Hawaii and Los Angeles.

When I  spotted them, I went right over and struck up a conversation with them at the QVB.  I also met a super friendly couple from Seattle at The Sydney Wildlife Center.  In each encounter, we were all happy to meet each other and readily shared some of our awesome Down Under experiences.


Photo:  At the Sydney Wildlife Center with New Friends Visiting From Seattle


So, if you have been hesitant about traveling to Australia, because its just too far away, the flight is too long, you don’t know anyone interested in traveling there with you, or a whole host of other excuses, no worries, mates. You will be amongst some of the friendliest people in the world, and there is plenty to see and fun to be had. When you go you must explore:

  1.   The Sydney Opera House — I saw a ballet performed by the      Australian National Ballet Company.  Be sure to take the tour of the Opera House — you won’t regret it;
  2. Bondi Beach — just gorgeous;
  3. Manley Beach — access by ferry;
  4. The Taronga Zoo — access by ferry;
  5. The Sydney Wildlife Center — get to know Erica and other Koalas
  6. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb — This I Did Not Do!
  7. Darling Harbour and its many restaurants, stores and boutiques;
  8. Sydney Harbour — sit, sip, eat and enjoy music along The Opera House Promenade; take a cruise along the Harbour;
  9. The Rocks;
  10. The Central Business District (CBD);
  11. The Queen Victoria Building (shop, chat with the locals and admire the beautiful architecture;
  12. Visit Chef Jaime Oliver’s Restaurant — you must try the Polenta Fries


Photo: Beautiful Christmas Tree Laden With Swarovski Crystals at The QVB




Photo:  Train Stop in The Central Business District


Photo:  A Trainer at The Sydney Wildlife Center


Photo:  “It’s Your Shout” (An Aussie Phrase Meaning This Round of Drinks Are On You).  In This Case, It’s A Pimms Cup!