Itoja’s Top Blogs + My Number 1 Blogging Tip!

If you’ve been following me for some time now, then you are aware that I’ve written about everything under the sun.  If you can name it, I’ve probably written about it or given my two cents about it in some form or another.  This is one reason why I like to call myself your virtual best friend—because I’m here to give you the 411—and one of the reasons why you’ll never catch me conforming to a niche.

With that being said, I wanted to highlight a few of my top blogs thus far.  Perhaps there is one on the list that you didn’t get a chance to read or maybe you’re just interested in seeing the blogs that has gotten the most love over time. Whatever the case may be, I have them here for your review.  Believe me, they range from Love and Romance to smoking weed.  It’s a wide spectrum.  It truly makes me laugh out loud!  But, I now know what you guys are into! HAHA.  Listen, this is a no judgement zone so no worries here! Continue reading


We met through mutual friends many years ago and dated briefly during the Summer while I was home from College.  On Father’s Day of that year, I total lost my car and Larmar transported me back and forth to work whenever we weren’t on a date.  In the Fall, I returned back to school, 2.5 hours away from home, and we decided to go our separate ways.  Larmar says, I broke up with him, I, however, do not remember it that way.  For years, we didn’t talk to each other and only saw each other in passing once I moved back home; still never having a conversation with one another.  Just a quick wave and that was it.  In 2014, Larmar asked to be my friend on Facebook, like most women, I contemplated before accepting.  You know, been there–done that!  After a few months, he would start small conversations.  His consistency, patience, and all around “good dude” persona, along with the ability to make me laugh non stop drew me in.  He was like a best friend and he still is.  After 4 great years of dating, we decided to get married! Continue reading

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  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.


The Darkest Side of the Spade — LaWanda’s Red Letter Version

Today, I am choosing to share a post from LaWanda’s Red Letter Version blog site.  There is a real message here that I believe we all need to hear.  Depression doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t skip you based off of your financial or social value.  People are people and we all need to do better when it comes to being there for other people.

Please click the link below to read.

Lately, every time I hear about another suicide, I get very emotional because I’ve felt that kind of hopelessness. You see 14 months ago, I was an emotionless zombie in a purple sundress, walking barefoot down my street in the early morning hours shortly after my husband, who had completely broken my heart a few […]

via The Darkest Side of the Spade — LaWanda’s Red Letter Version

Try these 10 things on your next cruise!

By now, you all know that I love going on cruises.  If it’s a vacation I want to cruise.  I want to go somewhere where I literally have NOTHING to worry about.  I don’t mind going to a beach but having to get up and still cook in our vacation home doesn’t rank as high in my book.

Typically, my entire family goes on one big summer vacation each year.  We all love cruising but we’ve also done beach trips, vacationed in Florida a few times, flew to California (these pics are HERE), enjoyed a land vacation on the island of St. Martin, and so on and so forth.

This year they are headed to Bermuda via Royal Caribbean and I’m sitting this one out.  Not because I want to but because I have some other things planned later in the year (stay tune) and doing both would just be too much.

As they are finalizing everything, counting down to departure date and paying off balances, I’m waddling in my feelings because what’s life without a summer vacation?

I guess I’m about to find out.

If you’ve never cruised before, I talk about my love for cruising in a prior post I did.  You can find it HERE.  If you’re thinking about cruising and not sure if it’s worth the money or you’re afraid of running out of things to do, I encourage you to try some of my suggestions listed below.  When cruising, there is no reason why you should ever be bored or feel like you have nothing to do.  There is something literally going on every hour of the day/night on the ship and something for everyone.

As the warmer months slowly roll in and travels begin to pickup remember this list if you’re traveling anytime soon…………

  • Enjoy the formal dinners.  Lobster! Lobster! Lobster!!
  • Bar hop.
  • Order room service.
  • Embrace the photographers and all of the photo opportunities.  (Even if you don’t buy the pictures)
  • Have a pool day or two.
  • Go to the casino.  Splurge a little!
  • Enjoy the night breeze on the top deck or have a romantic walk at night around the outdoor track!
  • Enjoy the free entertainment.  Try a night concert, a comedy show, or the club.
  • When visiting the island, try a tour or excursion.
  • Get up early, watch the sunrise, and go to the gym or have a spa day! All great for days when you are at sea.

Of course there’s plenty more to do on the ship.  From the art gallery to the basketball courts; putt-putt, ice skating, and probably activities I have failed to discover.  But for me, just knowing that I’m on vacation, disconnected from the outside world, sailing across the ocean while laying back in a lounge chair, with a fruity cocktail, is peaceful and relaxing for me.  This is what I call a vacation!  View some of my favorite pictures from my last cruise in my 2017 Photos of the Year!  I think cruising has spoiled me.


Bonus tips:

  • Utilize the daily itinerary printouts that are left in your room each night for the next day.  These are very helpful with additional information on the ports you will be visiting.
  • If you’re traveling with children, the children/teen clubs are essential!  A great way to get in your adult fun while the children are also having fun with their new friends they have just met!

Anyone else love cruising?  Do you have a favorite cruise line or perhaps a favorite island to visit?  What are your favorite things to do while sailing the great blue sea?


This post is not sponsored by any cruise line and all opinions are of my own.  

Dos and Don’ts (May Edition)

Can you believe that we are already 5 months into 2018?  Which means it’s time for another edition of “Dos and Don’ts.”

Please check out prior months HERE.  Also, if you have a “Do or Don’t” that you think we should hear please feel free to send them my way at  You never know when it may be published!!!!

Just like always, these suggestions are brought to you monthly by Shana and I follow-up with my thoughts.  You can follow Shana on IG HERE or on FB HERE.

Shana: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  Don’t use all of your resources on one thing! – Broaden those horizons because there is more out there for you!

Toya:  This is sound advice and something that most are taught from an early age.  At times, it can be very hard to stick to this idea or concept.

S: Don’t waste time worrying about something you have no control over, everything works its self out in the end; whether it’s the way you intended or not.  Remember that everything happens for a reason.

T:  I have to tell myself this several times a day.  I find myself wanting to be in control and sometimes have a hard time letting go.  I’m learning to trust myself and others more. Anxiety is not fun.

S: Be the friend that you want to have and remember your friends are allowed to have other friends.

T: 👏🏽👏🏽 I love this!  In January I wrote a blog centered around friends, click HERE to read all about it!  Just remember that friendship is a two-way street.  It’s a relationship that also requires work as well as sacrifices.  Friends shouldn’t be jealous of their friends or their friends, friends.  But they should encourage, uplift, and support each other.

S:  Hear say is exactly that…

T:  Pretty much!  Don’t sweat it.

S:  You are not going to like everyone and everyone will like you, so just be nice and keep it moving.

T:  Your character speaks a lot about yourself.  He who angers you, control you!

S:  Don’t be petty, or overly dramatic….well unless you are 8 then it’s only somewhat okay.

T:  Haha.  Everyone loves a little pettiness though, right? LOL

S:  Accept change.  It’s the only way to make it through life.

T:  Certainly true.  Life is all about change.

S: Do not stress.  You are too pretty for that!  Have a glass or a bottle of wine, it works wonders!

T:  You don’t have to tell me this twice.  I’m currently loving Prosecco.  You should try some!  I recently heard that if you add a splash of St. Germain to your Prosecco that it’s like heaven.  So that’s my next mission.  I’ll give you my thoughts when I try it!

S:  If you have kids learn to enjoy things they enjoy, it will keep you young at heart.

T:  And it will also keep you busy.  I’m just saying!

S:  If you wear makeup wash it off before you go to bed, let your skin breathe!

T:  You should probably do this.  Although, I can admit that there are nights when I completely skip this step in my nightly routine.  I do like the makeup wipes though, it makes it a lot easier and quicker.

S:  Wear sunscreen!!! I feel like I can’t stress this enough.  Melanoma is in the top 10 most diagnosed types of cancer!  I actually had a friend to recently go to the dermatologist and was told to wear chap-stick at all times.  So for all of you who make fun of the hundreds of chap-stick tubes I keep with me, ha!

T:  Dear Black People, just because we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun doesn’t mean we do not need sunscreen.  We not only tan but we can also burn as well. Even when it’s cloudy outside, sunscreen should be worn.  As it gets warmer and we begin to wear less clothes be sure to have your sunscreen!!  Here’s a picture of me from vacation last summer.  The Caribbean sun burned me to a crisp.


S:  I stole these last two from one of Toya’s blogs but they really resonated with me:

“We may be delayed but we are not denied” – everything may not happen in your time, on your schedule but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

“Never think that you are exempt from anything especially if you have not taken the precautionary steps” – people really need to read this sentence aloud and read it often, because I think we all live our lives like nothing bad could happen to us, when truth is we don’t know.  Only the man above knows exactly what our every move is before we make it.

T:  The above two quotes were taking from my “Delayed but not Denied” blog.  To get a better context of those two quotes, please click the above link for the full blog post.


Well that does it for this month!  Let us know what your favorite “Do or Don’t” was for the month.  As always, your comments, likes, and shares are welcomed.

Love what you’re reading?  Click the follow button to be sure you’re always connected to Itoja!


Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.


Martin Lawrence is Selling Massive Virginia Ranch — Happy Haute Home

Happy Monday!  Today, I’m sharing a post from Happy Haute Home.  If you love all things house related she is the one to follow.  Today she shares a home in Virginia (my neck of the woods) that Martin Lawrence is selling.  I didn’t even know he had a home in Virginia.

My question here is, do I have any takers who would like to go half on a home with me?  Ok, let me be realistic.  I can’t go half or thirds or anything close to that but perhaps we could go in on it like a timeshare?  What if we had 15 or more couples who would go in on this beautiful home and each couple could get the house so many weeks out of the year for vacations and small weekend getaways?

Sure we would need a ton of contracts in place but perhaps it could work.  I love this house but I’m really kidding myself here.  Besides, there is nothing wrong with dreaming.

Anyway, take a look at this 8.5 million dollar house by clicking the link below and I’m sure you’ll get to dreaming too!

See ya around—Toya

Martin Lawrence is Selling his 116 acre Ranch located in Purcellville, Virginia. The home was renovated in 2004, and includes 2 beautiful lakes with a dock. The estate has 5 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and is 22,000 square foot. Also included in this dream home is an indoor pool and hot tub, bowling alley, home theater, and basketball court. This…

via Martin Lawrence is Selling Massive Virginia Ranch — Happy Haute Home