Vacation Cruising in the Nissan Rogue

With 10 adults and 5 children on a family vacation, an extra vehicle was needed. A few weeks before heading to Orlando, I decided to get a rental to accommodate everyone. Since I enjoyed the Ford Escape so much, I chose that or it’s equivalent, but only the Nissan Rogue was available. Read more about our week with the 2015 Nissan Rogue.

Driving the Nissan Rogue

Still being somewhat intimidated driving huge cars, the Nissan Rogue was a good size. We’re all team carry-on, but the Rouge has more than enough space for 2 large suitcases. If needed, we could’ve brought the back seat down to fit more things. The Nissan Rogue designed to fit 5 people and as most cars, it has the LATCH system that worked well on my 3 month old nephew’s infant car seat. Other standard safety features include:

  • Nissan Advanced Air Bag System
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with Easy-Fill Tire Alert

The car given did not include a navigation system, but I was able to easily connect my phone via Bluetooth to use Google maps for directions to the villa rental. It also came with a backup camera. If you’ve read any of my previous car reviews, you know that is my favorite feature in pretty much any car I get. Thinking about it now, I probably should’ve waited for my brother’s flight to land to have some company for my lonely 30+ minute drive.

Nissan Rogue music console

Nissan Rogue Trunk

Having the Nissan Rogue on our vacation worked for airport pickups, Walmart runs, my dad’s medical treatments and visiting the clubhouse at our Villa’s Tera Verde Resort for playground, pool or tiki bar time. We even used it for our outings to the Disney Boardwalk and I-Drive 360. We only filled up on gas once during the whole week. Average gas mileage for the Nissan Rogue is up to to 26 city / 33 highway.

Vacation Cruising in the Nissan Rogue

The starting price for the Nissan Rogue is $23,330. For more information, visit your local Nissan dealer or

Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall in NYC

Happy Fall Y’all! Even though the weather is getting cooler, there’s still plenty of fun activities to do with the family. If you’re a native New Yorker, or visiting this shoulder season, here are some fun ways to celebrate fall in NYC.

The Bronx

Fall in NYC - Everett Children’s Adventure Garden in Pumpkins: Playful & Plentiful

Scarecrows & Pumpkins! at the New York Botanic Garden
September 17–October 30, 2016

Scarecrow Nights for Families
Date: October 21, 22, 28, and 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (timed entries at 6:30 & 7:15 p.m.)
Cost: General Admission: Non-Member $20/Member $15. Advance tickets recommended. Children 14 or younger must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Special ticket required

Pumpkins: Playful & Plentiful at the New York Botanic Garden
Date: Open all day for exploration, with guided activities from 1:30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Cost: General Admission

Daily Hands on activities include:

  • Festive fall puppet show
  • Spooky tea party in the Victorian playhouse
  • Sprout a seed necklace
  • Exploring flowers, fruits, and seeds on view in the Adventure Garden

View these fall events and more at

Brew at the Zoo
Date: Saturday, October 29 7:00 – 11:00PM
Cost: $29.99 – Designated Driver or $44.99-$74.99 for General Admission

The Bronx Zoo is opening its first-ever Bronx Zoo Brew at the Zoo. There will be over 40 beer vendors and 100 varieties of beers to sample, numerous food trucks, live music, and an abundance of DJ’s for a unique, 21-and-over evening. For vendor listings and ticket purchases, visit the Bronx Zoo official site.


Madame Tussauds Ghostbusters Experience
Cost: Tickets for Madame Tussauds New York start at $29 online. Tickets inclusive of Ghostbusters: Dimension are $55 online.

The Ghostbusters Experience is a multi-layered and sensory environment immersing you into a fantastical and spirited world, inspired by the 2016 film. Using a combination of virtual reality, real-time interactive effects, and a physical set, you’ll become a Ghostbuster and blast your way through a ghost-infested apartment complex with your own proton pack and gun. Learn more on the GhostBusters Experience website. 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Date: Thanksgiving Day
Cost: Free

Celebrate over 90 years of existance and join millions for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The procession starts at Central Park West from 77th Street, and ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square. Not a fan of huge crowds? Get a preview of the parade the day before around the American Museum of Natural History for balloon fillings. Visit their official site for time, performance lineup and complete parade route.

NYC Wine and Food Festival
 October 13-16, 2016

The NYC Wine and Food Festival is a collaboration between the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and Food & Wine magazine. This four-day event showcases talents of world renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs, culinary personalities and TV chefs while fighting to end hunger. For ticket prices, visit


Spring and Summer No Buy: Final Empties

Since fall is here, I can officially end my Spring and Summer Bo Buy. Even with all the items I finished, I have way too many hair products. Here are the empties from my original list.

  • EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea CoWash
  • Aunt Jackie’s In Control Anti-Poof Moisturizing and Softening Conditioner
  • Insta Natural Superior Hydration Argan Oil Hair Mask
  • Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-in
  • Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Natural Hair Oil
  • Aunt Jackie’s Quench Leave-in Conditioner
  • As I Am Double Butter Cream

Here are empties NOT on my list during the spring and summer months

  • Naturalicious Moisture Infusion Styling Creme
  • Obia Naturals Curl Hydration Spray
  • True by Made Beautiful Nourishing leave-in
  • SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Masque

Here are ALMOST empties for the spring and summer months

  • Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo
  • Argan Oil ECO Custard
  • TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer
  • ECO Curl ‘N Styling Cocktail Styling Gel
  • Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Oh So Clean! Moisturizing & Softening Shampoo

10-12 items in 6 months isn’t a bad thing, but I really wish there were more. With three months left in the year, I’m still going to continue the “empties” process. I have given 5-6 full bags of products away and STILL have a shelve or two left. With protective style season coming, my gels will not be used as much, but I’ll probably do a wash and go for a weekend to finish them off.

10 MORE Museums in the U.S. Focused on African American History

I wrote about 10 Museums in the U.S. Focused on African American History back in February and didn’t know how much great feedback I would get. In celebration of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opening this weekend, here’s a list of 10 more museums within the U.S. focused on African American History.

 Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography

DuSable Museum of African American History – Chicago, IL

Founded in 1961 by Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs and other leaders in Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History was created to preserve and interpret experiences and achievements of people of African descent. The DuSable Museum contains more than 15,000 pieces that include paintings, sculpture, print works and historical memorabilia. The name originates from Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian of African and French descent, who in 1779 established the trading post and permanent settlement which would become known as Chicago. Learn more at

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – Birmingham, Alabama

Opened in 1992, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a museum and research center that showcases the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. It is located in the Civil Rights District, which includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, Fourth Avenue Business District, and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. BCRI’s mission is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future. Learn more at

California African American Museum – Los Angeles, California

The California African American Museum opened to the public during the 1984 Olympic Games. CAAM’s mission is to research, collect, preserve, and interpret for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States. Upcoming exhibits for this fall include:

  • Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936 October 19, 2016–February 26, 2017
  • Taking Place: Selections from the Permanent Collection October 19, 2016–February 26, 2017
  • Hank Willis Thomas: Black Righteous Space July 7, 2016–February 19, 2017
  • The Ease of Fiction October 19, 2016–February 26, 2017
  • Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses October 19, 2016–February 12, 2017 

Learn more at

The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum – Washington, D.C.

I visited the The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum on my trip to DC back in 2015. Their mission is to tell the stories of the United States Colored Troops and African American involvement in the American Civil War.  It is located directly across the street from the African American Civil War Memorial and admission is free for individuals and groups. Learn more at

National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame – Fort Worth, TX

Originally named the National Cowboys of Color Museum, the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum was founded February 1, 2001 by Fort Worth, Texas, husband and wife team Jim and Gloria Austin. It acknowledges contributions of individuals of Hispanic, Native, European, Asian and African decent to the settlement in Western America. There is a Hall of Fame and permanent exhibits highlighting the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen and more. Learn more at

10 MORE Museums in the U.S. Focused on African American History


Girls Night Out for TORUK – The First Flight

I was provided complimentary tickets for TORUK – The First Flight in exchange for my honest opinion. All photos are credited to Errisson Lawrence for Cirque du Soleil

A few days after returning from Greece, my cousin and I continued with her birthday celebration at the Barclay’s Center for the opening night of Cirque Du Soleil’s TORUK – The First Flight. We were still adjusting to the time differences, but were excited for our first Cirque Du Soleil show.

About TORUK – The First Flight

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set about 3000 years before the events in James Cameron’s AVATAR.. When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, decide to be the heroes and search for Toruk after learning that it can help them save the Tree of Souls. On this journey, Ralu and Entu, along with a new friend Tsyal, go to the Floating Mountains to find the Toruk. Prophecy is fulfilled when a one of the trio rides a Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi clan.

Toruk Flight

As mentioned, this was our first Cirque du Soleil show. The narrator spoke in English, but the interaction between characters was in the Na’vi’s language. We had to pay attention to the sound and movement more than anything, but were still in awe of the performers’ acrobatic skills. The sound quality and production set were great and the music set the tone for each scene perfectly. There was even a scene with live drumming.

Live Drumming - Toruk 

Toruk Performance

A really cool feature was the Toruk app for us to be a part of the show. After entering the show date/time and our seat information, we waited for instructions for each scene. When the show ended, we were able to listen to an exclusive track. If you bring kids to the show, I think this feature is good because it keeps them attentive.

Toruk App


Toruk App Instructions

We had an overall great time watching TORUK – The First Flight. If you’re a James Cameron’s AVATAR, acrobatics or even a fan of rhythmic dance, you should check it out. For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit their official siteTickets and showtimes for TORUK – The First Flight can be purchased at

Girls Night out for TORUK - THE FIRST FLIGHT

Check  out the official trailer below:

Have you been to any Cirque du Soleil shows?

How To Spend a Holiday Weekend in Athens

A few weeks before going to Barbados, my cousin and I found a glitch fare from NYC to Athens, Greece for under $200 and purchased it without any questions. With her coming back from a mini Euro-trip only weeks before and me planning to go to Thailand for 10 days in December, we decided to just go for Labor Day weekend. We had so much drama with the booking company Explore Trip (PLEASE DON’T EVER USE THEM), I planned on going solo, but it worked out for us to go together again. As short as it was, we did exactly what we wanted to do. Read more about how we spent our holiday weekend in Athens, Greece.

Travel, Check-in, Sightseeing, Dinner and a Show

Our flight left Friday evening and we arrived in Athens around 10 AM. As mentioned, I initially planned to go solo, so I booked a round-trip taxi service with Welcome Pickups recommended by our hotel, the Athens Atrium Hotel. A photo of the driver was sent via email, he was on time and the service was generally convenient. Since our room wasn’t ready until 2PM, we took an Uber ride to the city center and walked around to familiarize ourselves around the city. The drive was no more than 10 minutes and cost only 4 Euros.

After taking a (3 hour) power nap, we went to Hotel Amalia Athens to get a pickup for the Athens Night Sightseeing Tour with Greek Dinner Show. The tour was pretty much what we saw earlier, but with detailed history of the sites from a local guide. It concluded with a dinner show at Tavern Kalokerinos in Pláka. In addition to the good food, the entertainment was great. There was singing, dancing with audience participation and our favorite: dish breaking. 😀

Dancing at dinner in Athens

Dining Entertainment in Athens

Dinner in Athens

Solo Exploration: Acropolis, Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, and Saronic Islands Tour

On Sunday we split up for solo exploration. My cousin took a 12 hour tour to the Saronic Islands (Hydra, Poros and Aegina) and I stayed in Athens. My cousin’s seatmate on the plane recommended the Saronic island tour instead of going to Mykonos and Santorini  and she loved it. The pics were so pretty, I kind of wish I went with her.

Saronic Island Tour from Athens

Saronic Island Tour from Athens

Since I stayed in Athens and my tour was scheduled for the afternoon, I decided to go to the Acropolis of Athens and Panathenaic Stadium. Both tours were self guided and I was in awe of the architecture. It was really unbelievable that I was seeing sites I’ve read about since elementary school with my own eyes. I highly recommend getting to the Acropolis when it opens to avoid crowds. If you have time to learn more, visit the New Acropolis Museum which is a short walk away. It only costs 5 Euros more and filled with a lot of information. Panathenaic Stadium was just as cool. It hosted the first modern day Olympics in 1896 and the only stadium in the world built by marble. 

Acropolis of Athens

Olympic Stadium Greece

Olympic Stadium Greece

After lunch in Pláka, my afternoon was spent riding to the Southeast to Cape Sounion and the temple of Poseidon. We were able to get a history of the site on our way, but the temple was similar to the top of the Acropolis of Athens. With the long ride and the similarities, it’s a tour that could be skipped. If the tour included beach time, I would’ve been more pleased. The views of Cape Sounion were beautiful though.

Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion Poseidon tour

Cape Sounion Poseidon tour

Morning Trip to Pláka, Check-out and Airport

I purchased most gifts on my solo exploration, but my cousin didn’t. After breakfast in the hotel, we headed to Pláka which is the old historical neighborhood of Athens for souvenirs. We went into several shops along the way and it was good for us to get so many gifts for such a cheap price.

Shopping in Plaka

Shopping in Plaka

When checking in the airport to go home, we almost didn’t get home because was an inconsistency with our return flight. Delta made a change for us to get a direct flight and Explore Trip refused to resend the e-ticket reflecting the changes. Our flight was at 2, but the e-ticket said 7AM flight with a layover in Istanbul and France (yikes). Luckily, Delta was able to sort everything out and we got to our gate as they started boarding.

Our trip to Athens was the quickest international trip taken, but we had an amazing time. The food, people, and experience was great; it felt like a dream when we got home. I will definitely go back for a longer stay in the outer islands for a cruise.

How To Spend a Holiday Weekend in Athens

Have you been to Greece before?

Breeze Through US Customs with the Mobile Passport App

Do you hate waiting in the US Customs and Border Protection line after a trip abroad as much as I do? Is the price of Global Entry too much for your budget? The Mobile Passport App may be your answer. I first learned about the Mobile Passport App back in October coming through Miami from my trip to Curaçao. Had I known the process was so quick, I probably wouldn’t have missed my flight home. (It wasn’t that big of a deal since they sent me to the airport closer to home).

What is the Mobile Passport App?

The Mobile Passport App is a free app available for iOS and Android devices. It enables travelers to submit their customs declaration form on their smartphone instead of the paper forms or electronic kiosks. This service is available for US citizens with a valid US passport, Canadian citizens with both a valid Canadian passport and B1 or B2 visa status and is authorized by US CBP. It doesn’t eliminate the process going through customs, but it makes it a lot easier. 

How Safe is it?

The app uses best practices for privacy to protect data that is submitted. Much like electronic kiosks, the data securely submits your information to CBP to review. After going through, the app gives you the option to store your passport information for future use or delete.

How To Use It

The process to use the Mobile Passport App is very easy. After downloading from the Google Play or App Store, scan your passport or enter your passport information manually. The next step is to enter flight information. When everything is verified and submitted, you’ll receive an electronic receipt with a QR code that expires four hours after being issued. Bring your passport and digital receipt to a CBP officer to scan and you’re done.

Please note, you must have a Wi-Fi or a cellular network connection to use the app to submit the customs declaration form and receive the QR code receipt. 

Mobile Passport App process


Where To Use It

The Mobile Passport App is not accepted at every US airport, but you can visit their official website to sign up for their mailing list and get alerted for when it is available at an airport near you. I used the app on my recent trip from Greece and was in and out in about 10 minutes. If you are traveling with a family, this can be a huge time saver since kids don’t like to wait in long lines.

Breeze Through US Customs with the Mobile Passport App

Would you consider using the Mobile Passport App to expedite your wait in the US Customs and Border Protection line?

5 Things You Should Do Before Every Vacation

I just came back from a trip to Greece booked from a glitch fare and had the best time ever. Some of my vacations have been spontaneous like my birthday trip to Barbados, but I try my best to organize each vacation to avoid any kind of confusion. If you’re not sure of what things to do before vacation, read more.

Set a Budget

After budgeting your general expenses (rent/mortgage, utility bills, credit cards etc), set aside the amount of money you’d like to bring for your trip. Bring enough money for food, transportation, shopping and whatever else you may need to enjoy your stay. You can have cash on hand and bring a credit or debit card just in case; it’s never a bad idea to bring more than what you have since unexpected fees pop up all the time.

Notify Your Bank or Credit Card Company

Part of vacationing is spending money. Making multiple transactions based on the location and/or price may cause your account to be flagged. You should call the bank ahead of time to avoid these transactions from being declined.

Bring Identification

Bring your state ID, Green card, passport card or driver’s license if you’re traveling domestically and a passport book if you’re traveling internationally. It’s pretty much a one-off situation, but it is possible to get arrested for not having identification; you can keep your passport in a hotel safe and walk with your regular ID when you get there.

Have a Place to Stay

Services like Hotel Tonight exist, but it’s always best to know where you’re staying before going on vacation. While in Greece my cousin and I stayed at the Athens Atrium Hotel about a 10 minute drive from the city center. When picking lodging areas, see what amenities are offered for bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, hostels or hotels to make sure it fits your budget and lifestyle. You should also research the neighborhood to make sure it’s safe.

 Athens Atrium hotel

Arrange for Transportation

No matter what, you should always make sure to know how you’re getting around. We used a round trip cab service for airport transfers and got around the city via Uber. If you’re visiting friends or family, communicate times for transportation pickups or drop offs so you’re in and out without any issues.

Plan Activities

What’s the sense of going on vacation when you’re sitting around doing nothing? Check to see what activities are offered via the city’s tourism board or sites like Trip Advisor or Viator. For both site, you are able to view previous traveler’s reviews. One thing I love about both services is they give sample itineraries no matter the length of stay. Trip Advisor also gives options for free and paid “things to do”, hotel and restaurant suggestions.

5 Things You Should Do Before Every Vacation

What are some other things to do before vacation?

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