15 Travel Tips For 2019

It’s 2019 and it’s time to start planning our vacations for the year.  I am a big advocate for vacations or small weekend trips.  I believe it’s necessary to step away from your every day life a few times a year to explore, relax, and to enjoy life.  I often hear about people not having time for vacation or not having enough money for a trip and it saddens me.  It only means that they did not properly plan and in my book, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!  Quite frankly, I can’t imagine life with out a trip. Continue reading

Dos and Don’ts (November Edition)

Can we all agree that this year has flown by!  It is very hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it’s November already.  But, it’s here and it’s nothing we can do about it at this point but join in on the fun.  With that being said, it’s time for November’s Dos and Don’ts.

Shana:  Take life one day at a time….it’s not a race, you may think your peers are out doing you but maybe it’s just not your time, but it will come!

Toya:  I believe it’s very important for us to appreciate where we are in life and to also celebrate where others are in their lives.  You know, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

S:  We were all put on this earth for a reason, make sure yours is a good one!

T:  We can most often do this by finding our purpose in life or our mission.  Have you thought about that lately?  If not, start doing that now!

S:  Don’t be scared to step outside of your box.  I feel like we all get really comfortable in our everyday life and don’t make efforts to change.

T:  I love it.  Change is often hard but it’s most likely always necessary.  Great point, Shana!!!

S:  Do something good everyday, whether it be for you or someone else. Pay it forward!

T:  Have you ever been in a drive-thru line at a restaurant and you get up to the window to pay and the person before you has already paid for your meal?  It is a wonderful and great feeling.  Let’s all remember to do that at least once this Holiday season.  Let’s pay it forward!  Are you in?

S:  Be humble!

T:  Yes!  It’s important to stay grounded.

S:  If you are a born leader, set a good example.  Not everyone is born this way, some are followers.

T:  Plain and Simple.

S:  We are coming on the season of giving, this doesn’t mean you spend every dime you have buying the most expensive gift for someone.  It’s really the thought that counts, put thoughts into your gift rather than a ton of money.  People will appreciate it more!

T:  Hmmmm…I’m thinking about what I want to receive.  I like expensive!!!!!! Can I have thought and expensive?  Haha.

S:  This time of year is a great time to donate, whether it be your time or donations to a shelter or not-for-profit organization.

T:  I know a lot of organization have already started doing coat drives, Holiday Baskets, and so much more this season.  Reach out to your local organizations or church to see how you can be a blessing to someone else.

S:  Remember there is another holiday between Halloween and Christmas. I feel like more and more people forget about Thanksgiving!

T:  People.  Let’s not forget about Thanksgiving.  It is by far, my favorite Holiday!

S:  Get your rest, you really can’t be your best “YOU” without unwinding a little.

T:  Yaaaaaaaaasssssssss!!  When I tell you I have been working like a mad-dog I mean that.  So much so that I haven’t been getting my proper rest, I haven’t been working out, I haven’t been eating well and I can tell.  Get the 4-1-1 on my life HERE!

S:  Don’t live in someone’s past, I think we get fixated on what a person was instead of what they have become to be. People can change.

T:  To add to this, I would also say don’t get caught up in a person’s potential either.  It can go both ways.  Just be careful out here in these streets!

S:  Be thankful for the things you have rather than what you don’t.

T: Currently hanging on my wall……img_6650

S:  Be optimistic!  No one likes a negative Nancy!

T:  What she said!

S:  Don’t forget, there are only a couple of weeks until Christmas!  Spend time with family and friends if you don’t have the means for gifts and giving! Time is just as important!

T:  Time is everything.  In all honestly and with all jokes aside, it is not about the gift.  But it is all about the time you share with one another and the memories you will create that will last so much longer than any possible gift.  Time is priceless!

Bonus: Ladies/Gents–Do you or your man participate in the No Shave November?  If so, I want to see pics!  Tag me on Social Media or use the Hashtag #ItojaNoShaveNovember

Well, that wraps up November!  It’s a lot of great Dos and Don’ts in this post.  I’m eager to see what was your favorite.  Be sure to leave your comments below and to hit the FOLLOW BUTTON to be sure you’re never missing out on the fun.  We have some fun things already in progress just for you for 2019!

How many of you will join in on the Pay it Forward Challenge that I’m creating at this very moment!  If you’re in, comment IN on the post and then be sure to come back to let us know how you Paid it Forward this Holiday Season!!!!!!! Use Hashtag #ItojaPayItForwardChallenge on your social media feeds so that I can follow along.


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.


“The Read” – Wedding Edition

September 2, 2018 will forever be one of the best days of my life.  It is the day that I said “I do” to my very best friend.  

Now, that I have gotten that out-of-the-way I want to dedicate this blog to the just a few things that really annoyed me leading up to this special day and then afterwards.  Yup, I’m reading all of y’all–so if the shoe fit–then wear it!

  1. The lack of RSVPing

When will people begin to learn wedding etiquette is my ultimate question?  Quite frankly, we could possibly care less to who comes to the wedding (meaning how many ppl attending).  The point of the invitation is to get a heads up on how much food we will need to accommodate all of our guest.

It is the year of 2018 people.  Perhaps you’ve never planned a wedding or had a REAL wedding before but I know for sure you’ve probably been to a wedding.  Nothing about a wedding is cheap.  Caterers charge at least, $15 or $20 per person, depending on who the caterer is or what foods you may or may not be serving.  Everything down to the napkin you use to wipe your mouth cost money.  So the next time someone invites you to their wedding, the next time someone even thinks about adding you to their guest list, or the next time you’re invited to any event where you have to RSVP–please do so in LOVE!  Trust me when I tell you, if you can’t make it, the Bride or Groom or whomever is giving the event will not be offended as long as you RSVP.  The worst thing to do is to not RSVP and then show up as if you want a plate to indulge in!

When you fail to RSVP you’ve not only left me in limbo because I do not know what you plan to do but you’ve also wasted the stamp that I have provided on the RSVP portion of the invitation.  Literally, all you have to do is to check YES or NO and drop it in the mailbox!  Are we really that lazy?

2.  Failing to Read the entire invitation

To continue with the concept of it being 2018 and people are more computer savvy than years past, on my printed invitation was the basic information.  I chose to go with the three-fold invitation that had the perforated RSVP section to tear off and mail back (if you followed these simple directions, thank you).

Because I chose to go this route I provided a personal website on the invitation where you could visit at anytime to find out more information.  On this website you could find info about the venue, hotel accommodations, gift registries, and so much more.  The fact that people failed to even visit the website was very frustrating to me but yet you want to text me over and over with the same questions.

3.  Facebook doesn’t run me

When my husband and I decided to get marred 13 months ago; we purposely decided not to post it to Facebook.  It was one of those things that we wanted to be sacred to us.  Not saying that no-one should post their engagements on Facebook, it’s just we decided not to.  So after we were married and individuals started posting pictures onto Facebook, which we were completely okay with, people started asking if our marriage was planned or if it was a spur of the moment type deal.

THIS, had me pissed-off for several reasons.  One being, I don’t have to announce my every single solitary move on Facebook.  Facebook doesn’t run me…I run Facebook and everything that I post on there.  Just because something hasn’t been posted onto Facebook for your enjoyment doesn’t mean that it is not official.  Let me be extra clear with all of you, all of our close friends and family knew that we were getting married.  There were even some friends/family that didn’t know, just because we may not talk on an everyday basis, but were still invited to the wedding, and still came because they realized that Facebook is not a place you go to do fact checking!

Second, we wanted to use this engagement time to focus on planning our wedding instead of people being all in our business trying to give us their unwanted opinions.  I purposely chose not to have an engagement ring because I wanted to do things differently (for those saying, I never saw an engagement ring).  I had been engaged twice with rings both times to no avail.  I wanted to do it differently this time and guess what?  It worked.  So, no our wedding was not a spur of the moment type thing.  I’m not a spur of the moment type chic, just so you know!

Third, to trace us back to the beginning of this post, this wasn’t a Facebook RSVP type deal, it wasn’t a 3 year old birthday party–So I didn’t need to post anything onto Facebook.  Some of you may want to stop looking to Facebook for all of your current news.

For the record, we started planning 13 months prior as I’ve mentioned above.  Besides, when you have to rent venues, caterers, and spend $700 plus dollars on a wedding cake/dessert table…you don’t do that kind of stuff at the last-minute.

I just had to get those few things off my chest because I really don’t understand the nerve of some people!  Despite these three things my wedding day was a blast!  I’d love to hear some of the things that pissed you off when it came to your wedding.  Leave your comments below!



Dos and Don’ts (August Edition)

I can’t believe it is August already.  I know I say this every month, but I really can’t believe it’s August.  The kids here in my area are getting ready to head back to school in less than two weeks!  Before you know it, the temperature will begin to drop and the chill will set in the air. Ugh.  I don’t mind fall but I hate Winter.  Winter always seem like it last forever!

Any who, here we are at our August Do’s and Don’ts for the month.  The Back to School Edition!  Let’s jump in!

Shana: Talk to your kids about bullying; it really starts at home!

Toya: Definitely!  Besides, the President is the biggest bully there is…lets all be better than him.  Yup–I said that!

S: If you drive through a school zone on the way to work or home, please watch out for our children!

T: Ugh, yes.  But please make it swift.  Adults are trying to get to work.  LOL

S: Your child should be able to talk to you comfortably without being scared you are going to get mad at them… about anything!

T: Love this.  So true.

S: Being a parent, I’ve learned that you should never push your kid too hard but you also shouldn’t let them give up easy either.

T: Be your child’s biggest supporter and critique.  Always, expect greater.  I push my child in school.  She’s literally afraid to come home with anything less than a A and now it’s just what she wants and expect of herself–I don’t even have to say much these days.  She was a straight A student all in Middle School…..now she’s headed to the 9th grade!

S: Don’t live vicariously through your children, it’s their life.  You already had your childhood let them have theirs.

T:  I believe this is true as well.

S: I saw the perfect meme the other day, it went something like this “Don’t send your kids to school in $100 shoes and no school supplies.” So true!

T:  Can I send them to school with both though?  I just brought my child a pair of Jordan’s that cost $140!  We have expensive taste! hahaha

S: If you have elementary age kids that have to have crayons for class, spend the couple of extra cents and get the Crayola brand, you know the Rose Art don’t color as well.

T: OMG!!!!  Not that Rose Art—those crayons are so soft.  The worst.  Too Funny!!  Don’t buy them for any school drives you may be participating in either. LOL

S: If you have Pandora – two good stations for road trips are Hip Hop BBQ and Hip Hop road trip, they have all the good 90s and early 2000s music.

T: I never use Pandora but I’ll have to remember these stations for when I’m traveling.

S: Another road trip tip, I’m not sure if this is just an iPhone app.  But if you don’t have “Waze” download it now!!  It’s a navigational app that not only gives you step by step voice directions like your typical GPS, but it also informs you of accidents that may be ahead of you, cars on the side of the road, cops, traffic, the speed limit and even directions that will get you around traffic.  It also gives directions to restaurants and shopping centers, it is not a lot that it does not do.  I use this every time I travel!

T:  Same here!  I love Waze.  We, too, use it all the time.  I even use it in town when I’m trying to get somewhere fast.  And no, it’s not just an iPhone app; I know people who has that awful Samsung phone with it as well. 🙂

S: Now is the perfect time to start your Christmas shopping, if you haven’t already.  You could buy a $25 gift card every pay-day or even put $25 back if you want to wait closer to shop.

T: What an amazing idea!  I’ve never thought of this.  I think I’m going to try it this year.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Woot Woot!  And no, I haven’t stated Christmas shopping yet.  I haven’t even thought about it.

S: If you ever get a chance to go to any of the Disney parks, you have to go to Joffrey’s they have the best coffee and the “biggest” best donuts ever in life!!

T: I’ve been to Disney twice, and I’ve never heard of this park.  I tell ya, you can learn so much from other people!  I went to Disney once as a child and then again in 2012 when I took my own child.  Everyone should experience Disney at least once, I think.  But be prepared to stand in long lines, to spend all day at the parks, and to get rained on at least once while you’re there.  I really wish the major parks didn’t cost so much.

S: Summer is almost over, but you still have time to cross off a few of those bucket list items!

T: We are waiting on you! Try something new.  I went hiking this Summer.  It wasn’t on my initial list but I’m happy to have that checked off! Whew!  Read all about it HERE!

S: You also have 4 months to start those New Years resolutions, it’s never too late!

T: Wow.  Shana is really challenging us here.  I don’t recall making a New Years resolution…..let me go and double-check!  It’s been so long ago! LOL

Well, this concludes our list of August of Dos and Don’ts, I just love this edition of Itoja!  I hope you do as well.  Click Dos and Don’ts to catch up on previous months.  Next month may be a little late, but it’s for a good reason – stay tuned to find out why.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Itoja so that you never miss a beat.  Leave your comments below of your favorite Dos and Don’ts for the month or perhaps one that made you think twice!

Talk to you real soon!


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.


Dos and Don’ts (July Edition)

I cannot believe it’s July!  Kids are in full summer mode and vacations are happening every week.  The days are longer and it’s hot.  Time flies when you’re having fun and with that being said, that brings us to our “Dos and Don’ts” for July.

Shana:  Give to give, not to receive… if you give a gift to someone give because you want to and not because you expect something in return.

Toya:  Giving is better than receiving!  When you bless others you will be blessed in return.

S:  If you do something for someone, don’t hold it over their head.

T:  There is nothing worse than someone bringing up something they’ve done for you especially during an altercation.  Not cool.

S:  Try new things, they say taste buds change every 7 years and I think that could go for feelings and emotions also, something you may have hated years ago could become something you love now.

T:  I remember growing up I didn’t like grapefruit.  Now, I can eat it and find it very tasting.  So it’s true, taste buds do change.  Be brave and try something different or old in this case!

S:  Wash your towels in hot water, I promise it will make them feel brand new again!

T:  And throw like 4 washing pods in there!  That’s what I do.  HaHa.

S:  You remember that diary you kept as a kid, do it as an adult but call it a journal.  You don’t have to write every detail of your day, maybe just thoughts and ideas.

T:  Journaling is great especially for relieving stress.  I would even go a step further and say you don’t have to write in it every day.  But perhaps a few times a week when you need to debrief and get things off of your mind.

S:  I feel like no one really uses an actually camera anymore.  Everyone take pictures on their phone.  But you should still print pictures off and keep photo albums.  You need something to show your grandchildren one day; like your grandparents did you.

T:  I’ll let you in on a secret of mine.  I create photo albums from Shutterfly.com.  I’ve created vacation books filled with pictures from vacations.  I’ve also created random picture books.  My family created a memory book for my uncle who passed away.  There are truly a ton of options from baby books, wedding books, and many more.  Not only do they have a lot of options but the books are very easy to make.  It’s one of my favorite things!  Give it a try by clicking HERE to get a FREE 8×8 photo book!

S:  Check on your strong friend!!!!

T: Ditto!

S:  Not everything is about you and not everyone wants to constantly hear you talking about you.  Give others a chance to talk also.

T:  This is good advice.  Many people should take heed to this.

S:  I recently heard if you were over the age of thirty to not to wear eyeliner because it makes you look younger.  I’ve recently been doing this and really can’t see a difference. So wear what you want!

T:  Interesting.  Perhaps I’ll try one eye and see if I can tell a difference. LOL

S:  Build your friends up, don’t tear them down by always trying to “one up” them.  Friendship isn’t a competition.

T:  Friends shouldn’t be jealous of other friends.  If they are, they’re not a true friend.

S:  You can do anything you put your mind to!


S:  Don’t change for someone else, change for you.

T:  Shana is preaching this month!  Just imagine me clapping my hands right now saying, YAAAASSSSS!!!!!!

S:  Keep your pocketbook organized, you will feel better about your life.

T:  I heard once, that if your purse is junky that means you have a man and don’t have time to clean it out! Haha.  But in all seriousness, you’ll function better with an organized and clean pocketbook or purse but for me, it only stays like that for two days max.  So then it’ll be a mess for about a week or two until I get around to doing it again or until I switch my purse.

Thanks for reading our monthly Dos and Don’ts.  We really appreciate it.  Check out prior publications HERE!  Let us know what you think in the comments below.  Here are some fun questions for you.

Just out of curiosity:

Do you say pocketbook or purse?  

Do you sprinkle salt on your watermelon?                                                  


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.


Dos and Don’ts (June Edition)

Hey guys!

For a second I thought we weren’t going to have the June edition of Dos and Don’t due to my partner, Shana (who collabs with me for this specific segment of Itoja) being busy and enjoying herself on vacation.

But like always she has come through and has yet to let us down.

She’s created this edition especially for the Summer; so take heed and enjoy!

Shana:  I can’t stress this enough- it is hot we all sweat and no one wants to smell your sweat! Take a bath; wear deodorant, lotion, and put on some perfume.  But definitely take a bath and wear deodorant!!!

Toya:  And if you choose not to keep up your personal hygiene please stay home!! Thank you kindly.

S:  If you are going to wear sandals take care of your feet!!  I am not saying that you have to pay money to get a pedicure because you can clip your nails and paint them at home.

T:  I’m going to let you in on a secret.  I like feet.  I think they are cute.  But you must keep them up!!

S:  If you have children, make sure they know water safety, how to swim, what to and not to do around water- this could save a life!  There are plenty of places that offer swim lessons.

T:  Parents…..make sure you’re watching your kids when you’re at the pool or around a big body of water.  Nothing scares me more than a child in water because you just never know what will happened if you blink or turn your head for just a second. (Just throwing my two-cents in there)

S: I know I said this last month but wear sunscreen Or be like Toya and only do 30 minutes in the sun, I always tell her she has the best skin I’m sure this is why!! Haha seriously though.. we all need sunscreen, Toya can get burnt in her 30 minutes also.

T: Yes, guys…you should all be like me!  But either way you should def wear sunscreen.

S:  I understand it is hot and clothes make you hotter, BUT this does not mean that you can show more skin of yours than any of us want to see!  Please be tactful in your attire.

T:  Please save your two-piece bikini looking outfits for the pool!  Be classy…not trashy! Haha

S:  If you have pets, don’t leave them outside all day in the blistering sun- if you have no choice make sure they have shade and plenty of water.

T:  I am not an animal person at all.  BUT, I believe that you should pay special attention to your pets whenever the weather is extreme.

S:  I’m all about planning and making bucket lists- so make a Summer one, things you can only do in the summer. Go putt putting, go to a vineyard, rent a boat at the lake, take a mini vacation or even a week if you can afford to the beach!

T:  (1) This is probably my favorite “DO” of the month!  I think I can check the Vineyard off because in May, we took a Sunday and drove to about 5 different vineyards/wineries.  Here’s a tip:  Download the Vino Wine, wine app to your phone.  It will show you the nearest wineries wherever you are.  There is never an excuse to not knowing where the closest vineyard is from you!  Make a day for some adult fun.  It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive.  (2) My vacation isn’t until the end of the Summer but renting a boat on a lake sounds like fun! Or hiking. Be active.


S: Stay hydrated- Don’t over do it in this sun!

T:  Heat exhaustion is no joke.  Did you know that water is your best-friend?  I tend to eat ice a lot to cool me off although they say that isn’t good for you.  But I’ve fainted a few times and that is not a good feeling either so Ice it is.  So while I love Summer I also choose to stay cool and hydrated.

S: Socks and sandals DO NOT go together!!

T:  This is a major No-No!

S:  We should all make an appointment with the dermatologist just to have any moles or spots checked .. to be on the safe side.

T:  Great Idea!

S:  If you are going to wear a sunless tanner, make sure you take all the proper steps (like exfoliating) before applying; also wipe around the edges of your fingers and toes– baby wipes work great.  This will prevent you from having rust colored fingers.

T:  As a black girl–I really have no clue as to what she’s talking about–But if you do, then take her advice.

This just may be my favorite edition yet.  I love Summer; besides it’s usually when I take my vacation.  I also love bringing these Do’s and Don’ts to you every month.  Where else can you be informed and entertained all in one place?  Click HERE for past editions.  Of course these are merely suggestions from two girls who are friends but who are also very different.

I want to challenge you all to embrace those who may be different from you.  Take the opportunity to pull something greater from them than just the areas where you may differ.  I’ve found that your differences are usually the beams that keep you stable and balanced.

Love what you’re reading?  Be sure to FOLLOW so that you never miss a moment of the shenanigans that goes on, on Itoja!


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.