Browsing Articles Written by

Renee King

Africa, Consumer Advice, Europe, Lifestyle

In search of the missing parts of me

December 27, 2016 • By

There’s something to be said for knowing who you are and where you come from.  There’s clarity when you have evidence, documented or anecdotal, of which ancestor first arrived on these shores.  There’s closure when you can pinpoint the village that your forebear(s) left in their quest to seek a greater fortune or better life.  That is the story of so many who live in this country called “America”.  Unfortunately, it’s not mine.

My ancestors didn’t come here of their own free will.  They didn’t come to seek a greater fortune but rather were forced to create fortunes for others.  They were held as chattel, beaten, worked relentlessly from sunup to sundown, raped and dehumanized because some people were too lazy to do their own work, they would rather cross an ocean to savagely kidnap people from a foreign land to do it.

I had started my own journey into my past by signing up for an Ancestry.com membership.  It’s not as easy when you try to review the limited documents kept by men who deemed it acceptable to own humans like the people who are responsible for my existence.  In fact, when reviewing the slave schedules, it’s a bit unsettling and hurtful to see your ancestors listed as property with no names…..you will have to guess if the male slave listed as aged 6 is that missing great, great grandfather that you are searching for.  If you are fortunate enough to find the right family that owned them, surmise the age of the ancestor and sex and where they lived, you will have a chance….otherwise, it’s not until after slavery was abolished that they are mentioned by name (which isn’t really theirs or yours – but the slave masters).READ MORE


North America, Travel Advice

A Pictorial Diary of my visit to Berry College

December 6, 2016 • By

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting a local college campus that I had vaguely heard of since I live in Metro Atlanta.  However, until recently, I had no idea how uniquely beautiful this school was, so I had to plan a visit to see it in person for myself.  But first, here’s a little background: Berry College is a private, Christian college which was founded in 1902 by Mary Berry, the daughter of a well to do planter and cotton broker.

After realizing that the local planter’s children were illiterate, she decided to open the school and devoted her life to assuring that they learned the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  They earned their keep by helping to build what is now known as Berry College.

The campus is so picturesque that Hollywood has come calling several times to film movies like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Remember the Titans”.  Come along with me as I discover the surreal beauty of this campus:

When you enter the main gate, you will see signage directing you to the far right lane.  A security officer will come out to greet you, scan your driver’s license, give you a map and explain how to get to all of the major points of interest.  It goes without saying that southern hospitality is alive and well here at Berry College.  She couldn’t have been nicer!

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Inspiration

One of the best ways to practice self care: a long soothing bath

November 15, 2016 • By

“Information overload. Overworked, underpaid. All news seem to be bad news. Kindness is on the endangered species list.”

When it comes to simply living life, it’s a stressful and complicated endeavor. If you manage to make it through the day without hearing of some tragedy, you’re already ahead of the curve. Let’s face it. Times are tough and it’s not easy to shrug things off and not feel hopeless…to some degree.

Sadly, most of the things that happen around us are out of our control, yet they still manage to affect our mind, body, and spirits in a negative way. So, how do you rise above it? How do you find your way off of the daily crazy train with all of your faculties intact? You must learn the self-sustaining act of “Self Care”.

Self-care is a loving act of carving out time to minister to your personal needs. Every human being has a breaking point, self-care allows you to take a moment and dial back the stresses of the day and do what is necessary to soothe and protect your own mental health.READ MORE


Lifestyle, Reviews

A review of Elevation Chophouse and Skybar in Kennesaw, Georgia

October 18, 2016 • By

I was searching for a unique place to take my daughter, Carisa for her birthday this past weekend.  As luck would have it, I learned about a restaurant that was located in the Cobb County International Airport at McCollum Field.  Okay, that sounded compelling enough for me to want to check it out.

Of course, I didn’t tell her where we were going, so she began to get concerned when we pulled into the airport entrance.  lol  There were plenty of signs directing us where to go, which is a good thing because otherwise, we would have been lost.
 

 
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Travel Advice

Murals and Graffiti over Miami

October 7, 2016 • By

I love art in all of its forms, but nothing is purer than the bold expression of street murals and graffiti renditions.  I can’t say when I became interested in this type of art.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that it’s considered taboo and even criminal in most parts and simply appealed to the rebel in me.

Graffiti, in particular, is the raw expression of social causes, grievances, joys and disdain with the system or government, the world or just the unfiltered state of someone’s mind at a given time.  It’s real and honest and is neither right nor wrong.  It has a purpose and it’s up to the audience to figure it out or not.  At the end of the day, there’s really no consensus needed because the artist isn’t asking for it.  Their message stands on its own merit and isn’t seeking approval from anyone.

It’s fitting that Miami would be open such displays of grandeur; a short drive around the city will quickly inform you that they are not afraid of color or bold statements.  How can you not admire that?


Travel Advice

Travel Photo Wednesday – Amsterdam

October 5, 2016 • By

Carisa and I were taking a leisurely stroll in Amsterdam, Holland, a couple of years ago.  We didn’t really have that much time there, only 24 hours.  However, we couldn’t help but notice these lovely shutters on random row houses as we passed by.

We didn’t understand its utility; it seemed more of a hassle than simply using curtains.  You would have to step outside on a practically non-existent balcony and then reach out on either side with the skill of a high wire artist to close them shut.

Then again, perhaps, that is the point.  It’s not supposed to be easy to close.  As I understand it, the Dutch aren’t shy types and prefer the freedom of using these out-stretched shutters instead of curtains that deprive them of precious sunlight.  However,   I could see that some residents were using Dutch lace in some of the windows.READ MORE


Fun stuff, Travel Advice

My first Dollar Tree haul: Travel Edition

September 26, 2016 • By
Note
Today’s post is the first of a new blogging challenge from Darren Rowse of Problogger.net! The challenge is create new embedded content, which can consist of video, instagram photos, tweets, etc. I am particularly excited because it marks my first attempt at creating a personalized video for my readers.

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I was really excited for the opportunity to make a video for this challenge.  I have never created a video that allowed me to speak directly to my readers, so this was an awesome opportunity.

I was thrilled to make this video and I really want to do this again because I had fun, but since this is my first time, I am sure that I made some rookie mistakes. However, I did enjoy talking about my subject, the Dollar Store, so the key is to discuss what you truly enjoy.READ MORE


North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

Visiting the Grand Canyon with Red Rock Canyon tours

September 6, 2016 • By

Alright, I have to admit that I have been on a tear when it comes to visiting as many U.S. Parks as I can before my annual pass expires.  So far, I have been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and more recently, The Great Smoky Mountains.  We decided to add The Grand Canyon to the list while planning our trip to Las Vegas.

The problem that we encountered is that there are so many tour companies who will pick you up from your hotel off the Las Vegas strip and after doing the same thing for each successive passenger, they will finally pull off hours later to your final destination.  Some of the tours will make a stop at the Hoover Dam, which is becoming less of an attraction due to the drought.

Quite frankly, it was difficult to distinguish one service from another, so how do you ensure that you’ll make the best choice?  Well, I decided to pay a visit to TripAdvisor, which allows you to read real reviews from real travelers about specific hospitality services.  I came across one tour that really appealed to me because it was run by a gentleman by the name of Tom Dziadek whose stellar reviews won me over.

A little background about Tom’s company

His company, Red Rock Canyon Tours, started out unsurprisingly as a tour company that served visitors to Red Rock Canyon six years ago.  Two years ago, Tom decided to apply his wealth of knowledge about the Grand Canyon into a full service group tour for people visiting Las Vegas.   While his fledgling website leaves a little to be desired, it was fairly easy to see what he offered in comparison to other companies and it was easy to purchase our tickets on his site.

The prices were slightly higher than the rest of the tours ($119.00 PP/entrance fee included), but I was happy to pay it because the maximum number of participants on Tom’s shuttle would be 14, we would leave earlier than the rest of the luxury tour buses which meant we would arrive before they would and have ample time to explore and take photos before the rest of the hoards arrived.

We were told to meet in what was essentially a passageway between the Paris Las Vegas hotel and the CVS pharmacy next door to it.  It was where taxis and limousines would park to pick up their fare.  I must caution you that Tom takes his schedule seriously, so do not be late!!  As each person arrived, he had you to fill out the standard liability contract that you must sign before leaving at 6 a.m. sharp.

We took our seats but I must confess, that while the shuttle is comfortable, if you are tall, you will have a problem.  We had two stops along the way for a bathroom break, coffee, food, etc. and I mentioned to Tom that my legs were cramped and his relief driver, Kevin, happily gave up his front passenger seat to ensure my comfort.  I was able to keep that seat the rest of the way and on the return trip.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Packing cubes: the essential tools of Team Carryon

August 18, 2016 • By

You may recall that I offered my 12 travel packing tips, a few years back and while they are still valid, it’s always cool to know that there are new developments on the airline baggage front.  It all began with the old fashioned plastic vacuum packs that you could store your clothes in and suction out the excess air with a vacuum cleaner.  Good times, right?

Now, fast forward a few years and the newest tool in efficient packing are packing cubes.  What are they, you ask?  They are small cloth cases with patches of netting that allow the clothes to breathe and sturdy zippers to contain them.

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Let’s face it.  We are all guilty of over packing and you can never fully appreciate what problems it causes until you arrive at your destination.  You almost never wear everything that you’ve packed or you feel as if you didn’t pack enough.  By planning ahead and thinking realistically, you can narrow down your choices based on what you actually plan to do on your vacation.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Racial profiling in aviation

August 7, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the sixth of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to write a “Discussion” post that I hope will encourage a dialogue about this compelling issue.  If you wouldn’t mind, please do me a HUGE favor and respond to the 5 question anonymous survey that will appear as a pop-up below.

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One of the most controversial stories in travel news today is the reports of Muslims being removed from airline flights for seemingly innocuous reasons.

Just this week, two American Muslim women were asked to leave an American Airlines flight after one of them talked to another (white male) passenger about the lack of food and water during their five hour delay on the tarmac.  The male attendant claimed that they (the woman who was complaining and her friend who happened to have been watching a tv drama at the time) made him feel unsafe.

The attendant told her “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.”  The woman asked him for his name since he wasn’t wearing a badge and he refused.  She decided to take a photo of him so that she would be able to identify him when she lodged a complaint.  She and her friend were essentially escorted out because the photo taking was a violation.READ MORE