Beach Living

Imagine yourself tucked away on what seems like an remote island.  Bumper to Bumper action as packed cars travel to their designations for the week.  Children are hanging out of the car windows anxiously waiting to ride bikes and stay up extra late.  It’s the middle of Summer and during the day the sun is blazing.  There’s no way to escape the humid temperatures and even after the sun has set along the coast of the beach the heat still remains.  The night stars that hang in the sky are magical and finally you can let your windows down to enjoy the fresh air as you cruise along the shore. This is a place you wish you could stay forever.

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The ABC Car Game

For most families, family vacation takes place during the Summer and it’s that time of the year again.

But before you pack up the car and load everyone in, and even before you stop to get gas and snacks, I want to you teach you all a fun game to play that will provide entertainment and fun while you’re going from one destination to another..

My family calls this game, The ABC Game.  My dad taught this to my sister and I when we were little girls and we’ve been playing it ever since.  I’m not even sure if it’s a real game or not.  I just know it’s something that was always fun for us and we’ve since taught it to our children. Continue reading

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.

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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!

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Shana lives in VA with her husband and daughter.

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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.

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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?

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

Holiday Hangover

It’s the day after Christmas and I am at work but I’m not really here.  I am awake but I’m mentally asleep.  I literally rolled out of bed this morning and somehow found my way to work.  I am trying to focus but I can’t seem to get pass the heaviness of my eyelids.  I feel like a newborn baby trying to learn how to hold its head up.  My work seems foreign and it is looking at me more than I’m looking at it.  There’s a fuzziness there that I can’t seem to clear up.  Continue reading