If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know that I’ve mentioned how excited I was to be attending #BlogHer17 this year. I’ve been blogging in some way or another since I’ve been in undergrad. I love blogging but it was mostly random rambling and observations. I watched as others started, grew and developed their blogs and left me in the dust.

I had no organization and blogged from the seat of my pants, when and where I wanted as soon as inspiration hit. And for some, that works. It worked for me for the longest time but personally for me I knew if I was going to become serious about blogging and content creation I needed to take the steps to get there and find direction.

I started posting on this blog late Fall 2015, however, I really didn’t get ‘serious’ about it til earlier this year. I’ve been eyeing the BlogHer Conference for the past few years and felt it was just what I needed to propel me to where I wanted to be in regards to my blog and also help me find my tribe. The last two years life got in the way and I wasn’t able to attend but at the beginning of 2017, I told myself that I would attend #BlogHer17 and just like that all the stars aligned to make it possible!

So I’ll be headed to Orlando this week to connect and learn from some of the best ladies (and men) in the game. I’m crazy excited! If you follow me on twitter you’ll know I’ve overused the word ‘excited’ but I don’t care Y’all! I’m in my feelings!

I’ve never attended a blog conference before especially one as massive as #BlogHer17. I thought all I had to do was register, make hotel reservations, book a flight and show up. Technically I could do just that, but that would be selling myself short on gaining the most from a conference of this size. So I’ve been chatting with fellow attendees and deciding what needs to be done prior to the conference to ensure I have my best experience. These are my top 5 ways to prepare for a conference.

1. Business Cards
One of the most important things you’ll do at a conference is network with other bloggers as well as sponsors. You’re THIS close to some of your favorite bloggers, content creators, influencers, brands, and celebrities. What better time to rub shoulders, smize, introduce yourself and let them know about your awesome blog and/or business? Business cards are a great way to share your information and show a bit of your personality. I get all my business cards for my business from Moo. So I went right back to them when it came time to print cards for the blog. I design my cards myself and then upload the design and have Moo print then for me. Super easy. I love the quality, feel and weight of their cards.

2. Dress for success

This one had me for a loop because when I think conference. I think networking and that I should be business casual. But BlogHer is a different kind of conference and I wanted to stand out, look good and be comfortable. From my understanding, BlogHer is very much come as you are, but growing up West Indian with brought-upsey that means dress decent. And ‘decent’ is up for interpretation. I went back and forth for weeks about what I would wear. I figured dresses would be the easiest thing, I still agree that they probably are. So after being back and forth and pulling my friends into my ‘what am I gonna wear’ saga I decided to settle on a dress for Friday and a blouse and slacks for Saturday. For all the parties I’ve heard I’ll be invited to I’ve got a selection of maxi dresses and rompers to choose from.

This doesn’t have to be an arduous process. You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe. I just wanted to be extra and take that plunge. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram to see my OOTD posts.

3. Make Friends Beforehand

I’ve made it my mission to befriend other attendees prior to the conference via our private Facebook group and weekly Twitter chats. This way I know someone at the conference or at least can spot a familiar face in the crowd. I did the same exact thing prior to moving to London for grad school a few years ago. And the women I befriended in my uni and flat’s private Facebook group became the core of my support system when I lived in London as well as when I moved back to the U.S and we are still great friends to this day. I’ve been chatting with a few fellow bloggers and can’t wait to meet up with them in person at the conference.

4. Be Prepared

By this I mean think about what you’re really attending the conference for and what you expect to get out of it. Connections? Lessons? Swag? All of the above? Whatever it is, you need to develop a plan to get whatever it is you came for. I also suggest leaving wiggle room for plans to change and be open to other opportunities that may present itself.

Also, have your gear ready. I know most people use their laptop/tablet to take notes or a good old fashion notebook. Personally, I’m not gonna lug my MacBook Pro around a conference hall all day. I REFUSE TO. But I plan to have my iPad, my notebook, a couple pens (I picked up some new ones from MUJI), and my vlogging camera on hand. I also plan to have extra batteries, a mobile charger, a cardigan for ice cold conference rooms, extra batteries, mints, hand lotion (my hands are always dry) and Advil on hand. I got a new tote bag (FINALLY!) and I’ll just throw everything in there. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of headaches so I rather be prepared instead of having to leave in the middle of a session to tend to it.

5. Be Flexible

Kinda weird right? But I’ve done tons of research on this conference as well as others and I decided I want to go with a super open mind. My goal is to meet as many bloggers as I can. Learn as much as possible in breakout sessions and just absorb as much of this experience as I can. Understand that things can and more than likely will change but that’s okay! Just roll with it.

And that’s it! Those are my top five tips on how I plan to survive #BlogHer17. I’ll make sure to update you guys next week on the total experience. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat to catch a peek of conference life.

Have you ever been to a blogging conference or any other conference related to your professional field? Share your tips in the comments!

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I realized I haven’t done a food post in a while and how can a foodie/lifestyle blog exist without foodie things? After the epic Easter meal, I’ve been staying out of the kitchen for the most part. Does that happen to you? After making a big holiday spread you literally avoid the kitchen at all costs. I’ve been slowly easing my way back in because there’s a bunch of random food ideas that I made up while lounging around and I want to test them out. I’m actually super excited to get back in the kitchen and experiment. And did I mention I got a bread machine for my birthday? I’m keen to crank it up and get my loaf on! I see challah, brioche, ciabatta, focaccia and other bready things in my future. It’s going to be glorious!

But alas today’s recipe is brought to you by the letter ‘Y’. Y is for Yum and yuca is yummy. Yuca is also known as cassava and is widely available in throughout South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. It’s a starchy vegetable that has a similar shape to American sweet potatoes (aka Yams). Down here in the islands it is one of the staple starches and it along with other ‘ground food’-yams (not the American version), sweet potato (not the American version…confusing right?), green fig (green bananas, plantain, and tania to name a few…is know as ‘provisions’. They are usually served with fish dishes and prepared by boiling or steaming. I don’t care for provisions…it’s a texture thing that bothers me. But I do love a good yuca fry. Prior to making this I never had yuca fries before. The only other time I can recall having Yuca was at a Brazilian all you can eat steakhouse restaurant. Of course, it was delicious but it was also comforting and stick to your ribs yum, it was hot, salty, crispy and buttery but still tender. I couldn’t figure out how they prepared it looked like it was probably roasted. Something about it stuck with me and one day I randomly walked into a store and decided I wanted burgers and yuca fries. Yes, that’s how my mind works. I randomly think of things to cook or create all the time. Don’t judge me.

 

This is my take on yuca fries. I like to toss mines in a herb, garlicky buttery blend.  The first time I made it I used the Land o lakes Sautée Express garlic and herb packet. I think they’ve been discontinued because I can’t seem to find them anywhere in several states so I’ve created my own version. So let’s get our pot fired up.
Ingredients

2- yucca (mines were about 10-11 inches long)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or butter
3 cups water
Oil for frying
Seasoning blend
-sea salt
-coarse ground black pepper
-parsley
– no salt seasoning
– garlic powder
– 2 cloves crushed garlic
– turmeric

In a medium sized pot place 3 cups of water and bring to boil


Peel yuca and slice into strips


Once water is boiling add yuca strips and cook for 3-5 minutes. You don’t want the yuca to get mushy, we’re just boiling off the excess starch here. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly on napkins on clean kitchen towel.

 

While waiting for the strips to cool, add 2 tablespoons butter/Earth Balance until melted.


Add seasoning spice blend to melted butter, mix thoroughly making sure crushed garlic is cooked thoroughly but not burnt (nothing taste as awful as burnt garlic, #trustme) and remove from heat.


In deep cast iron pot or fryer place enough oil, about 1 cup, into the pot and bring to medium heat to prepare for frying.


Using a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs start frying yuca strips in batches until golden brown. Be careful not crowd the pot. This should take 3-4 minutes, remove from heat and drain excess oil off using paper towels.


Once all the yuca strips have been fried and drain, use a mixing bowl to evenly toss yuca strips with seasoned butter mix.


Serve immediately

Have you ever had yuca fries? What’s your take? Let me know in the comments and if you try this recipe out be sure to use the #ahirokoeats hashtag so I can check it out.

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Given recent events in my local community and our nation as a whole many of us are filled fear and uncertainty. As women many of us live with an undercurrent of fear, we exist, we work, we laugh, we love and we worry. Worry about our safety, worry about our children, worry about our families. As girls and young ladies, we are given instructions to dress appropriately, not call attention to ourselves. Be quiet. That’s the instructions the patriarchy gives. Those are the rules given to us ‘girls’ they are usually vague, unclear and without remorse or understanding. They don’t take into the account who and what we have to protect ourselves from. The enemy who lie amongst us. The men and women who physically our attack and violate our temples the bodies that we call home. The enemy who lays in wait to object fear and heartbreak into our spirits by attacking everything we hold sacred: they come into our homes and rob us blind. They creep their way into our beds as children, as friends as our mates, our cars after a great night out with friends, our offices when their misogyny and fragile male ego cannot handle our command and prowess of our professional self and they feel threatened so they ravage our femininity.

 

There are too many stories amongst us time and time again that I hear. Too many that I’ve seen, lived and experienced myself. Too many stories of pain, aggression, and war committed against us just simply because we are women. Because we are considered the ‘weaker’ sex because we didn’t ‘listen’ and adhere to the instructions given to us as girls. Do you remember them? Don’t dress inappropriately. Don’t drink too much. Don’t talk back. Listen to your husband/boyfriend/partner/lover even if he beats your ass every day when he comes home drunk from a night out in front of your children. He is the king of the castle he is the breadwinner. Listen to that man even when you try to fight off his sexual advances and scream no as he rapes you, impregnates you with a baby that you did not want and are unsure of how to protect. Shut up and do the work for your misogynistic boss who uses every chance he gets to remind you to ‘know your place’. Have your ideas and vision diluted and dumb downed because your male counterparts cannot accept that you may, in fact, be smarter than them and should not only have a seat at the table but be at the head of the table leading the discussion and the charge. Accept the unwanted male gaze when strangers cat call and size you up against your will. Tell you how broad your back is, how fat your ass is and all the things they want and would do to you if given the chance. How dare you speak up and say ‘No thank you. I’m not interested.’ How dare you use your voice to defend your own honor?

Not anymore. We cannot continue to feel weak, we cannot continue to live in fear of living a life and existence we have all worked so hard to forge. It’s is our birthright not only as women but as human beings to live and express ourselves freely, love deeply and to exist in a world that provides a safe harbor for us all no matter who we may be and regardless of the choices we make.

I say all of this to say we can no longer remain weak, afraid and to live in fear. Someone once said ‘on the other side of fear is freedom’ and I agree. We have to figure out how to set ourselves free and protect ourselves. One way is thru self-care and self-defence.

I’ve always wanted to learn to shoot a gun. I was always afraid. Not quite sure why. Was it the noise? Was it knowing that with a live round in a loaded weapon I could possibly change the course of fate for myself of someone else? Was I afraid to protect myself? My family? Would it come to that? Having to defend myself and everything I love against foreign and domestic enemies? Thinking back now I believe it was a bit of everything. And that’s totally fine. I’ve been afraid of many things before and I’m sure there are many things that I’ll still be afraid of after I finish writing this post but it’s all good. Me being afraid does not stop me from stepping out of my comfort zone. Me being afraid just makes me approach things cautiously but approach nonetheless.

Last night I had the opportunity to join a great group of women from my community at a local shooting range, D & J Shooting Gallery. This gathering was organized my one of my favorite bloggers and foodies, the Tanisha Bailey-Roka aka The Crucian Contessa. Due to recent events occurring in our community, we do not feel safe.

Crucian Contessa and I

Tanisha, the Crucian Contessa and I.

 

But expressing that concern is only half the battle. We need to put our fear in front of us, form a plan to conquer it. Using her contacts Tanisha organized a Facebook group for Women’s Self Defense. It hasn’t even been a week and its numbers are steadily growing day by day, which to me shows many other women feel just like us, afraid. It also shows that those same women are ready and willing to conquer their fears and defend themselves if and when necessary. There’s power in that. Last night I met Tanisha and Dynel of Island Moms Rock along with 5 other women at the range.

 

 

 

John of D & J Shooting Gallery

John of D & J Shooting Gallery helping us get our kit sorted.

 

 

We had to pick our targets and guns. We were also giving headphones and ear plugs.

 

I went in saying I never shot a gun in my life. I went in cautious, afraid of the noise, the recoil, the fear of red hot shell casings falling down my shirt (which happened more than I care to share). I was afraid of the pain and the lack of control in my wrist brought on my bouts with both chikungunya and tenosynovitis both of which the aftermath still linger in my body. I thought that it would hinder me from learning, from shooting, from doing it right. The noise startled me. It made me hesitant. My instructor told me to disregard the noise, relax, take my stance, line up my target and squeeze my trigger…slowly. Control my thoughts. Do not give in to distractions. So I stood there, sweat beading up on my forehead, earplugs in, headphones doing their best to drown out the communion of chaotic gunfire around me, nervous. A voice in my head saying ‘You are NOT ready for this. You CAN NOT do this.’ Then I took a deep breath, stared down at my target and told myself “You are afraid, and that’s okay. You’ve been afraid before.” And then I released the trigger. I felt the power. I smelled the smoke. I felt the pain in my fingers, the burn of the shell casing on my chest. I peered at my target with one eye closed, imagining it to be something standing in the way of my safety or that of my family or friends, I shot again and again. Then I paused and walked away, switching with my partner. I had to mentally gather myself. Then I came back and did it again, and again until there were no more rounds left to shoot. That’s when I knew I had crossed over to the other side. The side where fear does not control me. I was afraid when I walked into that shooting range last night, fearing the unknown, fear of how I would do it. If I could do it at all. But I did, and I am no longer afraid, I am capable. And in that capability is where my power lies and no one can take that from me.

 

Looking my target in the eye.

 

Have you ever shot a gun or take any self-defense classes? How did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments!

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Hi, all, short post today. If you follow me on social media (which you should 🙂 or read my last post, I think I mentioned briefly about all the things I’ve been getting into these past few months. One of them was Remote Year. So without further adieu, I am proud to announce that I have become a Remote Year Ambassador! Remote Year is an amazing program that enables just about anyone to embrace the digital nomad life. It’s the 21st century and working remotely is the new norm. Many start-ups, as well as small businesses, operate with completely remote teams, and many traditional companies and even government agencies offer to telework in some capacity. You guys know that I run my own business and work remotely. Before I opened my business I worked from home for major tech brands including, Apple and Uber. Add to that, I have been fortunate enough to live, work and study all around the world and know how important cultural immersion is. Traveling and working abroad can broaden your perspective as well as boost your productivity and creativity. It’s 2017 and you don’t have to be chained to a desk to produce high-quality work and suffer from burnout. I for one can attest to that. I love having the ability to work from wherever I want and travel when I can, as opposed to a set number of vacation days be allotted to be. I’m Springborn so 2 weeks vacation doesn’t work for me nor my spirit.

I know there’s so many of you guys who are looking for a new adventure that can help you grow both personally and professionally. I’m happy to be able to extend the same opportunity to all of you. If you or someone you know is interested in leaving the monotony of cubicle life behind, tired of the mundane 9-5 and ready to step out on faith and embrace the digital nomad life, or if you just have questions. I’d love to tell you all about the program and get your feedback.  I’d be happy to hear from you all, so just drop me a line with and let’s have a cyber cuppa and a good long chat.

Until next time…let me know if you’ve ever worked remotely, considered it or if you’re a digital nomad. What made you take the leap?

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After a brief hiatus and a few hectic weeks. I’m back! bright eyed, bushy tailed, happy, hopeful and ready for change.

Spring has sprung and I’m here for it! It’s my birthday month as well so I’m super excited for no reason in particular…just that…it’s my birfday y’all! I plan to keep it low key that way there’s a less likely chance for disappointments. And trust I know what disappointing birthdays look like.

But that aside let’s get back to what I’ve been up to. I’ve been keeping busy with client work which is great! Being a small business owner is hard work but I love helping others, offering services that benefit them and their business as well. Happy clients make for a profitable business. I have a few projects winding down, a couple starting up and a few in the pipeline. If all goes well I’ll be accepting new clients in the late Spring/early Summer.

I’ve also registered for the #BlogHer17 conference which will be in Orlando this year. Crazy excited about that trip and looking forward to connecting and learning with tons of amazing women! I’ll also get to reconnect with an old friend while in town so yay for me! It’s Orlando so I plan to check out Disney World’s newest attraction, Pandora. It should make for an epic start of the summer.

If you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been back in St.Croix for the past few months. We had our annual Agriculture Fair during President’s Day weekend. The AgFair is very much like the county fair stateside. Lots of livestock, farmers, planters, and cooks showcasing their best and brightest. It draws a big crowd, especially from our sister island of St.Thomas, our cousins in the British Virgin Islands and our down island neighbors from Dominica, St.Vincent, and St.Lucia to name a few.

 

If there’s a line, you know its guaranteed to be good!

 

Corinne has some of the BEST pates on island.

Here on our sleepy, super chill island things have been shaken up the past few weeks. March 31st marked the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States. This transfer was made for 25 million in gold coin. You can check out the official VI Transfer Centennial website here.

There has been much controversy surrounding this centennial anniversary as well as the celebration of transfer day in general. Many locals feeling that we left one oppressor for the next and that it should not be a day to celebrate. The relationship between Denmark and its former colony is not a romantic one. But a tumultuous one filled with strife, resistance, sorrow, heartache, and anger. The exploitation of people and theft of their resources to build the economy of another is a familiar story to many with a connection to the African diaspora. And truth be told it’s a tangled web. Though I understand and agree to some extent with the anti-centennial group in that this centennial event should not be looked upon as a cause to celebrate. I do however think this is major cause to start a conversation for Denmark to recognize and acknowledge their hand in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and how it affected to citizens and descendants of its former colony. For the United States to discuss the second-hand citizenship the territory has. Hundreds of thousands of talented tax paying individuals who have contributed to the fabric of the America we know and love. Thousands who have served their country proudly in battle, defending her honor and shores but still not allowed the right to vote. For the citizens of the Virgin Islands to be allowed full participation in the political processes that govern our country and for both Denmark and the United States to finally open their eyes and LISTEN and UNDERSTAND what’s going on here in the local community and providing the support and resources to build and sustain a harmonious and profitable economy. That’s the conversation I want and pray to see happen. We are making steps towards that but the outcome of this remains to be seen.

I did attend a few centennial activities (really and truly to see where our taxpayer dollars went). I attended a lecture at St.Croix Landmarks Society called Breaking the Silence: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and saw the related exhibited which was created and curated by local students. They did an amazing job and led a very spirited and heated discussion between locals and students who were visiting from Denmark. Hot topics included: reparations, a public apology from Denmark, plus the after effects of slavery and colonialism and Where so we go from here. Most importantly how do we heal? Executive Director Sonia Jacobs-Dow also shed light on two children who were taken from the St.Croix under Danish rule to be displayed as exhibits at the Tivoli Gardens. I plan to do a separate post on that so stay tuned for more on that story.

The next day I attended the Centennial Ceremony in Christiansted. There was a parade (which I missed) and a program (which I didn’t get one because I was late). But you can find a digital copy of the centennial program here. The ceremony was a dual program celebrating the 100th anniversary itself as well as a citizenship ceremony welcoming 20+ newly minted American citizens. It featured remarks from Delegate to Congress Stacy Plaskett, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as well as many others.

 

Transfer Day Ceremony in Christiansted

The following week I had the opportunity to tour the Tall Ship Danmark, which is a training vessel from Denmark that sailed to the territory to commemorate the Transfer Day celebration. The ship is manned by a crew of 60 students and 11 full-time staff members. Built in 1933 it has been used as a training vessel. The crew invited the local community to come aboard and tour the ship. Some joked that the last time locals were invited on a ship they were kidnapped and stolen from the Motherland. I don’t see the humor but the comment once again shows that as a community on a whole we have a lot of healing to do.

 


The ship was impressive albeit a bit tight in my opinion to house such a big crew. It was nice to chat with the students who are training to sail on the ship, many are in high school. I think that it’s an awesome opportunity to get such hands-on experience and sail the world. It’s not for everyone but I still think it’s awesome. The ship departed Tuesday afternoon and it’s currently on its way to Bermuda. You can view the ship’s current location here.

 

With the Centennial activities behind me and March coming to a close it was time to get ready for the St.Croix Food and Wine Experience (#STXFWE). I try my best to go whenever I’m on island, there are tons of events during the week but my favorite is Taste of St.Croix, where local restaurants, chefs, mixologists, and farmers come together to highlight the best of both worlds: locally grown and sourced food as well as some of the best culinary creations in the region.

 

Taste of St.Croix is held at Divi Carina Bay Resort and is the place to be and be seen. I literally have little no pictures of this event because I spend most of my time eating and drinking to my heart’s delight. I did manage to sneak in a pic with St.Croix’s own Crucian Contessa.  She has an amazing food blog that you guys should be sure to check out.

One of my favorite foodie friends, The Crucian Contessa.

 

The eats at Taste of STX here are always delicious and innovative and as mentioned early they highlight local livestock and produce. Add to that being in rum country the cocktails were a standout as well, BES Craft Lounge and Zion Modern Kitchen had libations that left me more than a little bit happy and joyous, to say the least.

Ms.Sweets and I at #STXFWE, partners in crime and wine…always!

Friday evening saw me enjoying more eats right in my backyard at Sunset BBQ on the Frederiksted Pier. Once again local restaurants showcasing some of their best-grilled dishes, lamb ribs, black bean burgers, yucca fries and shrimp kebabs, to name a few. Listen when I say we get down and burn when it comes to cooking I mean WE.GET.DOWN!!! St.Croix is an absolute food lovers paradise and the preparation of food is always down with so much love and respect.

Ran into a good friend, Ms.X at Sunset BBQ.

 

Saturday night saw me at the Bohlke Airways private hangar for Wine in the Warehouse. This time I managed to get a few shots in between stuffing my face! This was my first time attending this event and it was truly a treat.

 

 

 

 

Beet Hummus Arepas with local microgreens

 

Chocolate Mousse with Candied Mangoes

 

 

St.Croix Finest, DJ Swain

And then like that St.Croix Food and Wine week was over! Until next year that is….

My birthday rolled around last week and I was back in celebration mode again. This year I kept it pretty low key, celebrating with my close circle instead of planning some big to do. I spent my pre-birthday eve, with the lovely Ms.Sweets at Zion Modern Kitchen. I had a great birthday dinner with family and close friends who I consider family at the Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort. I had an amazing time am grateful for another year of continued blessings and success. With the state of the world right now and the continued exploits and frustrations caused by #45 and his administration. I realize although it stays weighs heavily on me (y’all I was having NIGHTMARES) I can’t let it take over my well-being. So I’m back on track and ready to blog it out with ya.

Happy Birthday to Me #TeamTaurus

This post has gone on forever so it’s time to wrap it up but not before letting everyone know that I will be attending the BlogHer 2017 Conference in Orlando in June. This is my first year and I’m excited! I’ve been to Orlando a few times as well as to Disney World and Universal Studios but it’s been about 10+ years since my last visit so I’m stoked to not only attend the conference, but I’ll also have an opportunity to connect with a few close friends and if I play my cards right, get to check out Disney’s World of Avatar attraction at the Animal Kingdom park. That will be epic for sure!

Well, guys that about wraps it up for now and should bring everyone up to speed. Has anyone else been to Taste of St.Croix or visited my home island of St.Croix? What about BlogHer? Ever attended? Any tips and advice? Disney World? Any attractions you suggest I see? Orlando? Where to go? I’ll be in town for a week so I’m open to suggestions. Til next time loves.

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