I Scream, You Scream, we all Scream for the Museum of Ice Cream

I love Ice cream, I love museums, but I never thought combining the two would end up in creating one of the most coveted tickets you can get today at the Museum of Ice Cream. In today’s world of viral attention I often can be left feeling a little skeptical over things that are hyped.  So when my friend first was interested in the Museum of Ice Cream when we were on vacay in LA I thought how much fun can a museum about ice cream be?  So as I prepped to head to Miami and got the scoop from a friend that the travelling museum had extended its stay in Miami I thought well why not, if it’s so in demand let me go check out what all  of the hoopla is about.

In approaching the lit building hosting the Museum of Ice Cream in Miami I quickly had my low expectations checked at the door by the entertaining host. We were each told a little about the museum and most importantly were challenged with coming up with an ice cream name.  The energy and spirit of fun that this set at the door and carries throughout your visit makes the museum the unique and sought-after go so space that it is.  You quickly learn you are not going for the ice cream you are there for the experience.  So with my friends and I hype and my name “Unicorn Sherbet” on lock we began to wind our way through the museum.

As I entered the pink dipped building I began to understand that despite the name the “museum” was more of an ambiance than a place. Yep the full vibe was confirmed with our firs stop, the sprinkle pool.  Yes a full pool filled with sprinkles, plastic albeit, was a great way to literally dive into the fun of the Museum of Ice Cream.  And as you weave your way through the ascending stops you find each room of the museum was uniquely dedicated not specifically to ice cream, but to some of the best nostalgic feelings around ice cream, that of your childhood.

From the look of old school ice cream parlors to giant floating balloon installations to word scrambles and even sandboxes the museum is less about ice cream and more about the laughs and fun of your childhood that gives ice cream the romanticized feeling that it has. As I worked my way through the rooms with my friends, each room providing a completely different look and ice cream sample, my mind was not just filled with fun times from my past but incredible times from my presence and the opportunity to leave the adulting and just have fun.  So no, the ice cream was not the best part of the tour.  Instead the best part of the museum was found in the reconnection to an 8 year old who loved to dance, swing, build sand castles and most of all soak in every moment as the future seemed too far away and the past was a distant memory.  If ice cream was a big part of your favorite memories check out the ice cream museum to reminiscent and if not just go out and take 45 minutes to be a kid again and love every second of it.

Tackling Napa Valley in one day

With so much to do in the bay area it is hard to dedicate an entire weekend to wine country but as always I am up for the challenge of checking out Napa Valley in just one day. With legendary weather and a phenomenal selection of wineries the challenge can seem quite ambitious, however, when you take quality over quantity you can get in for the win.  Here is my guide for making the most of your one day in Napa

 

Go early: Especially if you are not staying in Napa, Bay area traffic should be expected and planned for.  Give yourself an extra cushion to really enjoy a couple of different wineries factoring in not just the drive time to Napa but the drive time to the wineries.  Of course you get more bang for your time if you are strategic about the selection in making sure they are not too far apart.  With some wineries closing as early as 5 a late start could really limit not just what you taste but also how many wineries you can stop in at.

Pad in some time just to enjoy the beauty: It is really one of the most beautiful places I have seen, especially if you love nature.  From mountainous views to flower fields to incredible trees in the middle of the highway the opportunities to enjoy nature or take a great photo opt abound in Napa Valley.  While the wine is great the scenery is one of the most important things that Napa can offer if you give it just a bit of your time.

Start with a powerhouse.  Honestly you can’t truly predict how the day will go or how much you will drink.  So why try??? Start with the most important winery on your list.  Hopefully one that has marks as high for their food than they do for the wine because the true beauty of wine is the pairing of it with great food for me.  If you start with a winery that has a great reputation for food and wine, outstanding ambiance and a great wine selection you won’t be left beating yourself up if you run out of time.  I started with V. Sattui Winery which gave a great family vibe with their picnic tables and BBQ offerings.  I was having such a good time that time quickly got away from me and we had to scurry on to our next destinations.

Check out the winery memberships.  Now I know it may seem like a money trap as you can easily imagine wine piling up to no ends with each monthly shipment.  But the savings factor is a big one for members.  For most wineries the memberships comes with free tastings for you and 3 guests (which can easily be an $80 savings) as well as additional discounts on bottles and special invitations to events.  Once more with a flexible cancellation policy you may just be on the hook for one month if it does not end up working out.

Ask a local. Some of the true gems of the area won’t be found as top picks on Google or whatever review you are trusting.  People who live there and more important work in the wine industry will have their own opinion of go tos that may take you off the beaten path but right to some of the real gems of the area.  After a failed attempt to squeeze in Mumm winery we followed a suggestion to try JCB winery.  Not only was it open later than most other wineries, the ambiance was exquisite and the champs was pretty nice too..

Napa is such a beautiful destination so even if your time seems too short, it can great motivation in planning your NEXT wine country stop in.

LLC vs. Corporations: How to start your business off on the best footing

Going into business for yourself can be a terrifying maze of decisions without much clarity on the impact these decisions will make further down the line. One of the earliest decisions people often make as they begin the journey is how to set their business up.  So with your $300 filing fee (in the State of Texas) and a little bit of time forming a completely separate entity for your business can easily be within your grasp.  With LLC’s and Corporations being some of the most common entity types making the decision between the two can assist in setting your business and the business owner up on the path to success so let’s talk about the positives, similarities and differences to the different entities.

The positives

The win for both forms is limited liability from your business liabilities to your personal accounts. This means that business related to the entity must first look to the entity for relieve.  Owning a business comes with its own risks and it gives business owners a lot of relief that their personal assets have protections from the things that transpire in their business.  Beware though that this separation holds up in court as long as you respect it in practice meaning keep accounting up and co-mingling down in your business

LLCs

The biggest selling point for LLCs as an entity choice is normally flexibility. From tax filings to management to reporting many of the decisions remain your choice as your company grows.  As a member of a LLC you have the choice to carry over your profits or losses directly to your personal tax returns or opt to file taxes for the company separately.  Additionally you can choice of members within the LLC will have the right to manage the company or if managers can be separately appointed.  With more relaxed requirements for meetings and recording this is often a good fit for those still working through the processes their business will utilize.

Corporations

While corporations may be more rigid, their formality can be a perfect fit for pulling together investors and managers in a more arm’s length transactions. With corporations taxes have to be filed for the entity as annual reports and recorded minutes.  On the plus side however raising income for a corporation can be very straightforward as shares can be easily sold and resold without jeopardizing other operating restrict for the company.

Yahoo Lifestyles Feature

5 Attorneys

1 Clinical Researcher

8 Graduate Degrees

5 HBCU Graduates

5 Entrepreneurs

All living proof that you can define yourself and be who you want to be, despite how the world will try to peg you.

Professional development at its best at the BE Entrepreneur Summit

Many people ask why they should invest in professional development and at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit Wednesday’s opening festivities made a bold answer as to some of the fruitful reasons why.  Professional development is about more than sitting through conferences and hoarding business cards.  It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility to do better, work harder, make more money, and learning to enjoy yourself through the process.  The opening night was a wonderful emulsion of all these reasons with a great lesson in working hard and playing harder.

The first day of the conference showcased how to best take on professional development, from the inside out. A big part of really evolving professionally is evolving personally.  By making it a priority to master new techniques and challenge yourself to step out of y our comfort zone you also make strides in becoming the best you can be for your business.  The sessions for Wednesday started with a frequent nail bitter for many professionals, business presentations.  In the Mastering Business Presentations session you had the chance to hear from some great including Alfred Edmond, the Executive Editor at Large for Black Enterprise, on honing your skills to present in ways that moves and motivates your listeners.  With that session pushing you from within you quickly moved to how to take that motivation and make it work for your business.

With a conference focused on moving you from internal development to external development the session on business in Houston was a cornucopia of business ideas on how to expand to Houston. With key insights from none other than Houston mayor Sylvester Turner you got some invaluable insight on seizing on the wealth of opportunities found within the Houston market.  Now this is already what a good business conference is made of, a meeting of opportunity and growth and the networking potential that allows you to connect all of the dots.  To add some ice cream on the top of what is already shaping up to be an amazing treat in your personal development, Wednesdays kick off mixer was the perfect welcome present.  From delicious food including some Houston specialties to fun entertainment to a room full of eager entrepreneurs the summit was kicked off with a bang.  As I joined in on the fun in the lip syncing contest I was reminded of something that stayed with me the entire conference, in the world of business learning to enjoy yourself draws  others to you and in a game you have to play to win you need all the help you can rising to the top.

Enjoying a wind down (and wine-down) in Marseille France

the-view-from-notre-dame-in-marseille-france-1It is hard to follow up a day in Barcelona so the only way to do it well is to offer something completely different so instead of the busy city pace, the quaint slower vibe of Marseille in Provence, France was the perfect complement.  At day 6 of a 7 day cruise I am all toured out and so I decide to hop off and just make the most of what I can.  This of course means a walking tour if you are me.  The ship offered a very convenient round trip bus to the port so you are dropped off right in the middle of town and ready to take on a little adventure.

an-open-market-in-marseille-france-8 marseille-france-9 marseille-france-7The Old Port area is a hot spot for shops and food in the city and easy way to start off or even enjoy your whole day.  I love local vendors and was able to find a great open air market with lots of souvenirs that felt very French (at least to me).  The seascape is also beautiful so as I passed a little train I decided to take off and find out where the train can take me.  There is where speaking a little of the language comes in handy.  After dragging my kids up and down the marina with no access to the castle that initially looked very close I decided a can would do as well.  Great decision!  The city is full of increasingly steep streets and hills so if you are going to take on the challenge of the on foot route make sure you are ready for the climb.

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marseille-france-6 marseille-france-12 marseille-france-11 the-ceiling-in-notre-dame-in-marseille-france-3Once in the cab we head to the top of the hill to visit Norte Dame de la Garde.  While the church is beautiful the view is amazing.  You can see the whole city from the top and with the lovely sea breeze coming your way it is a great place for reflection and prayer.  Just note, however, getting a cab down is much harder than catching a cab up as you have to call a local company to send a cab your way.  Never fear, however, because you can take the land train down.  The ride is steep but lots of fun and a good way to spot some things you want to add to your visit list while in town.

marseille-france-5

desert-trio-in-the-old-port-area-of-marseille-france-16 lunch-in-the-old-port-area-in-marseille-france-13 lunch-in-the-old-port-area-in-marseille-france-15With that the tourist check was marked for me for Marseille and so next up was tackling my food cravings. With the old port surrounded by restaurants the choice was if but which.  A Tripadvisor recommendation caught my eye and we settled down at a lovely Italian restaurant right on the water.  It was some of the best food I had the whole trip and as I enjoyed my bottle of very French wine I reflected on what was undeniably a trip of a lifetime!

Exploring the timeless beauty of Malta

valletta-11As a water sign, water destinations always represent a taste of paradise for me and a visit to the beautiful island of Malta was no exception! Stepping into Malta you can almost feel the spirit of another day and time with remnants of famous civilizations represented all over modern day Malta.  The country is rich in history, from the shipwreck of St. Paul to its conquer by Napoleon, so  with a goal of mixing history and exploration I decided on a half day tour to check out the city.

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First stop up on my tour was the historic city of Mdina.  As with most European tours you are going to see churches galore.  What I loved about Mdina, though, is the authentic taste of an ancient lifestyle you receive.   From the small, cobblestone streets to the impressive palaces each steps take you back centuries as you walked through the walls of the city that previously made it a fortress.  They also offer huge offerings in hand-blown glass for prices that really will blow you away.

 

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valletta-7After Mdina, we travelled to the capital of Valletta.  The city is built on a grid, making it not only easy to navigate, but also gives you breathtaking ocean views and breezes around every corner.  Walking in the city entrance surrounded by the many flags representing its heritage you get a glimpse of just how pivotal the city was.  The St. John’s Co-Cathedral was at the top of the list and to my pleasant surprise it was a church, museum and so much more.  St. John’s definitely gives a different, more elaborate feeling than many other churches and you have the opportunity to see masterpieces of the famed painter Caravaggio while there.

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valletta-9 valletta-17After enjoying the cathedral you are just a quick walk away from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.  This is a great place to enjoy the scenic views Malta has to offer of not only the ocean but the city itself. You also have a premium placement from there for a lot of great restaurants.  I wandered into I found a rooftop restaurant that caught my eye.  Not only did I enjoy some great food and wine, the views and calming sea breeze definitely did a body good.  With street vendors and shopping throughout the peaceful streets making a day in Valletta goes by in a breeze and like that it was time to take the quick walk down to the pier. This timeless city is a great break in between the hustle and bustle of a quick European tour and definitely left me wanting for more in Malta.

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The Balvenie and Anthony Bourdain team up for the Rare Craft Collection

Balvenie Rare Craft Collection (10)The Balvenie pulled out a culinary heavy hitter as it brought is Rare Craft Collection, curated by Antony Bourdain, to Houston. In putting together some of their finest selections they energized Silver Street Studios while guests were treated to an intimate tour of superb whiskey. As if the headlining Rare Craft Collection was not enough the curator on the tour is food aficionado Anthony Bourdain who definitely knows how to distinguish the outstanding nodes of flavor of the Balvenie whiskey from all the imitators on the market.

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The best thing about the Rare Craft Collection presentation is that the entire experience was carefully fashioned to be as exceptional as the whiskey. From the moment you step into the door you can sense the luxury influence that blends ingredients which are impressive on their own but are ultimately breathtaking when masterfully combined. From the art that embellished the walls to the crowds of beautiful people to your first sip of the 14 year blend.

Balvenie Rare Craft Collection (3)The main attraction of the night was presented to take a tour of all that is wonderful about whiskey. Crafted from The Balvenie whiskey isn’t just a drink it is a nod to the journey from the rolling hills of Scotland to your glass. The presentation began at one of my favorites, the Caribbean Cask. Aged in Rum bottles produces a memorable spin on the whiskey and for rum lovers gives a nod to something near and dear to your heart but in an elegant presentation. Imagine regular rum getting a high end make over. With each sip of the Caribbean Cask and the Dodgewood and Portwood that followed you taste why these selections were singled out by the curator. Making a single malt look easy the taste confirms the true craftsmanship from the inception of the barley, to the meticulously maintained barrels to the skilled malt masters all working seamless to produce a beautiful result.   Years ago The Balvenie became one of my favorites in an intimate presentation and being in a room full of fellow whiskey lovers confirmed that from taste to ingredients The Balvenie is exceptional. For a whiskey lover a taste of these selections, especially this holiday season, cannot be missed.

Celebrating New Beginnings with Orgins

Orgins Relaunch (6)The skincare phenomenal Orgins is doing its own renewal with new products and a new look at the Orgins Galleria relaunch. Orgins has always been a brand focusing on the pulling only the best ingredients nature has to offer and innovative formulation to address a wide range of skin care needs. Whether your problem areas are oil, age, sun or drynees, Orgins prides itself on specially formulated products and the insight of a knowledgeable staff who works with you to shine the best you through in your skin. The relaunch of the Galleria store marks the redesign initiative of all of the Orgins stores according the global Vice President. The clean lines and airy spaces put the spotlight on the pure components that are the source of Orgins strength. Orgins Relaunch (5)The beautiful Orgins approach of being transparent in what they use and how they use it is beautifully woven in their new design and as always strongly present in their product lines.

Orgins Relaunch (1)Of course outside of the ingredients the fact that Orgins is set up as a giant tester store is a sweeping win with the redesign. Whether it is a hand massage or a quick facial, Orgins backs up their promise of better ingredients to fit a better solution to your skincare concerns by working with you in the store to find your customized solutions. Orgins Relaunch (8) Orgins Relaunch (7)

 

 

 

 

 

As an added bonus to the already fabulous Orgins lines they had The Bachelors Catherine and Sean on hand to share some of their favorite picks from the store.

 

Orgins Relaunch (4)Here are some of the must haves from Orgins that can help you step out with your best face forward:

Weil for Orgins: Breaking free from a routine of washing that can overly dry out your face is easy with this Mega Mushroom Skin Relief. No matter if you use it as your make up remover or bedside to clean and calm your face before bed the mushroom based skin cleanser breaks the chains to soap and water.

Clear Improvements: You can search all over and be hard pressed to find a charcoal mask that works better. For me hands down this is one of my tried and true favorites, especially for those with oil and acne prone skin. Even using the treatment just once a week does wonders for reducing oil and seeing less pimple pop ups.

Original Skin: Even better than a regimen for reducing the signs of aging is one that prevents! This product aims for those in the quarter life range to prevent a crisis down the road. It is a great way to start investing early in your skin care for the long term.

High-Potency Night A-Mins: If you hate waking up in the morning to find the hardship of yesterday still written all over your face this product is for you. The vitamin rich formula helps your skin supercharge its healing so it wakes up in the morning as refreshed as you are.

Deciding when to say f-it, and proceed just for you

Middle fingerGuess who’s back. After months of not posting on my blog I have followed the call to return to the world of blogging. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to make this journey on this blog because, as with many walks down reality lane, blogging wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I started off on the path blessed to have a really great blogging mentor to look up to. I thought I would start posting and before long be a super big blogger, flying all over the world and only having to drop a line to have doors swing wide open for me. The reality was that blogging is super hard work. It requires commitment, discipline, and a willingness to risk a very public failure if it doesn’t pop off like you hope it will. Coupling that with a stupid web hosting company I cannot escape from and a mysterious reason why Google won’t index my blog I reached my maximum frustration level. I thought that follow others suggestions to just stop or find a different domain was the best idea.   I struggled with this idea for months and today while watching The Voice a kid reminded me of something that I lost in translation of trying to have a successful blog: Following your passion is a reward in itself.

Up at midnight on a Monday night it dawned on me that following your passion is not easy and the rewards may not come from where you expected. If my expectation was to start writing a blog and get paid in money and clothes for my opinion then I struck out. But if I blog because I love to write and want to share the real life struggles, lessons, laughs, and adventures of my world then whether 1 person reads it or 100,000 I have already won. Life often deals us cards that seem the exact opposite of what we expect and at this point it is the opportunity to pull out the f-it card. If you aren’t doing it because it’s a passion that makes you better than by all means stop, but if the opposite is true whether others love it or hate it – F-IT! Do it because you love it and leave the rest of the angst and expectation at the door. My life is full of challenges of being a mom and working and thinking and praying and a million other things not unlike people across the globe. In this blog I hope to share my life in its fun and thoughtful moments as an inspiration to others facing the same challenges of not just making it through life but on really enjoying it to the fullest. It is not for money or fame just because I like to write and I like to share. If you are new I hope you enjoy and if you are not new thank you for reading and if you hate my post and wish you could get the 3 minutes of your life it took to read it back well then F-It and have a nice one.