Thursday, May 20, 2021

5 Essential Tips For The Best Road Trip




Growing up, road tripping was the de facto way of travel for my family. From summer vacations to the beach, to family reunions, and everything in between, if we went—it was a road trip. (In fact, I didn’t board my first flight until I was in college.)

Times have surely changed—for my family and likely most travelers—with the road trip being eclipsed by air travel as the more common way of travel. 

And then came a global pandemic that changed everything. 

Now, as many are preparing to travel this Summer and beyond, the road trip is taking center stage once again as a popular way to go and explore against the ongoing pandemic backdrop. 

If done right, road trips are travel goals for taking in more than a singular destination, going at your pace, soaking in scenic routes and attractions, and bonding with travel companions on another level. 

Here are my 5 tips for making your journey one to remember—for all the right reasons:

1. Know Thyself.
Your travel personality (get there already, stop & smell the roses along the way, or a mix of both) will be key for embarking on a road trip that feels like a joy vs. a cruel sentence. Knowing how you typically like to go and flow (with some flexibility built in for surprising yourself) will put you in a positive space for embracing the journey ahead.

2. What happens in the car—matters. 
One of my most memorable road trips growing up was one where we sang all of Whitney Houston’s new (at the time) album. I knew every song by heart by the time we were done. Talk about fun! So prepare your playlists (music, podcasts, audio books & such) to keep the good vibes in gear. 

3. Food, food and more food. Keep the “hangries” at bay with a good stash of stacks. A mix of healthy snacks (fresh fruits, nuts, popcorn, flavored waters) and indulgences (chips, jerky, cheese and crackers, sweet treats, etc.) can go a long way in between stops and fuller meals. And if you have kids, it's a non-negotiable for keeping everyone sane and satiated. :)

4. Prepare for a safe journey. 
Be sure to check your car, stash a first aid kit, extra gallons of water, chargers and more, before hitting the road. 

5. Add travel resources to your arsenal. 
Roadtrippers, AAA, and other road trip apps, are essentials for seamlessly planning the perfect getaway. 

I wish you a safe, healthy Summer and lots of...

Happy Traveling!


Photo Credit: Bon Traveler
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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

5 Recipes for Delicious Spring Eating

Spring is here! And while some days it's not easy to tell if it's Spring, Summer, or Fall by the range in weather, the calendar reassures us that Spring has, indeed, arrived.

 

As the daylight lingers longer and the temperatures become warmer, before morphing into all-out hot Summer, I enjoy the segue from the heartier foods of the colder months into lighter, fresher fare.   From pastas, to soups, to desserts, and more, Spring eating is a delight.

 

And to get you going along these lines, I’ve rounded up five of my favorite dishes that are perfect for Spring. 

Pasta Primavera

Spring Popsicles - Coconut x Lime x Rose x Raspberry

Shaved Vegetable Salad

Chilled Red Pepper Soup

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

 

I hope you enjoy this ready-made Spring menu and all of the Happy Eating it’s sure to bring! xx

 

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Friday, March 5, 2021

Creole Jambalaya

When you’ve relished a dish since what seems like forever, having it “at the ready” in your kitchen is a treat worth celebrating—and sharing.  Cue my beloved Jambalaya that recently made its (long overdue) debut in my cooking chronicles. 

 


As a devoted foodie and home cook, I inevitably find myself recreating favorite dishes from my dining out forays.  From Lemon Thyme Bars, to Warm Goat Cheese Salad, to Roasted Branzino, and more, it keeps the memories--and good eats--deliciously alive.  Yet, somehow, Jambalaya never made the cut—until a couple of weekends ago, when I reserved a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon to keep the tradition going.  And considering the ease with which it came together, I’m banking that it'll be in rotation going forward. 

As someone who’s all about a bit of kick and spice in my dishes, Jambalaya has always delivered on this front.  Reminiscent of another favorite dish, Paella, it’s like a spicier Cajun or Creole cousin that hails from Louisiana cuisine.  And speaking of Cajun and Creole, I decided to make the tomato-based Creole version this time around.  Hearty spices, Andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp, rice, tomatoes (and tomato paste), aromatics, and other flavorings, made for a one-pot wonder that you can bring together within an hour.

If all of that speaks to you as it does to me, then you want this recipe in your repertoire.  Pair with a salad and some crusty bread (or not) for a well-rounded, delicious meal.  From the very first fork-full, I was reminded why it's been a favorite for so long and always induces...

Happy Eating!


Creole Jambalaya

Ingredients:

1 lb. Andouille sausage, sliced into rounds

1 lb. fresh or frozen shrimp

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 onion, diced

2 bell peppers (I used green and red), diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon each of salt, dried thyme, oregano and hot sauce of choice

½ teaspoon of Cayenne (use less if desired)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

3 cups chicken broth

Scallions and fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish

Cook’s note: Celery is traditionally included, however I didn’t have any on hand, so be sure to add if desired.

 

Method:

In a large dutch oven or pot, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Season the sausage and chicken with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning.

 

Brown the sausage in the oil; remove and drain using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and cook the chicken until lightly browned.  Similarly remove, drain and set aside.

 

Sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.  Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and season with the salt, pepper, herbs, spices, Worcestershire and remaining tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Add in the rice and chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked fully, stirring occasionally.

 

Add the shrimp to the mixture, stir in gently and cover the pot with a lid. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through (about 5-6 minutes, or slightly longer, if frozen) and pink in color, indicating doneness.

 

Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed, then remove from heat.  Serve with garnish of scallions and parsley—and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Cafe Delites

 

 

 

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Marcell Von Berlin - Fall Winter 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection



Fashion remains one of the greatest 'loves' and sheer pleasures of my existence--and excites me in ways that make me giddy and enthralled all at once.  Such was the reaction to my introduction to designer label, MARCELL VON BERLIN.

Founded in 2012 with ready-to-wear collections for men and women, the label stands for progressive looks, reflected through powerful silhouettes and unique statement prints.  Based in Berlin, the label embodies electric energy and urban charm with a street-style emphasis.  But ready-to-wear isn't all the label offers. Designer Marcell Pustul is a visionary who also creates custom made couture pieces.  The result? Both lines offer impeccable craftsmanship and the highest quality materials. 


 

Since its relaunch in 2018, the brand has expanded nationally and internationally, making its New York Fashion Week debut recently. On February 18th, the designer released his Fall Winter 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection titled “Fashion Remains.”

“Fashion Remains” is a reflection of Marcell's experience in Los Angeles during the pandemic. The FW21 collection expresses strong optimism towards the new normal. The message of the collection is in this strange new world lies the belief in the strength of fashion and its yearning for return.


 

Shooting on ruined building on the rough cliffs of Malibu evokes standstill, as if the entire world is holding its breath (“the new normal”). The collection moves in this ambivalent, intangible realm - a realm between something rooted in our world as we once knew it, and yet completely different. 

Watch the stunning digital NYFW show here and prepare to experience some of my aforementioned giddiness, too.

Happy Styling!

Photo Credits: MARCELL VON BERLIN, F/W 2021

MARCELL VON BERLIN collaborated with Fashion Director/ Stylist Nicola Formichetti. 

 

 

 



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Sunday, January 31, 2021

{In Case You Missed It}: 2020 Highlights

Against the backdrop of everything 2020 brought to bear (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly), I'm thankful for the highlights--the special, often everyday, moments that still allowed for a memorable year, despite a global pandemic and its fallout.  And so, without any further delay, (where did January go?!), I'm thrilled to continue my perennial tradition of highlights and to cap off my recent 10 year blogiversary installments. (Woot, woot!)

2020 started like most other years, for which I'm grateful, allowing me to indulge in some of the my favorite things all over again.  I kicked off the year with a trip to my forever favorite New York City, to indulge in the perfect trifecta of food, fashion and travel.  On the food front, my timing allowed for yet another indulgence in NYC Restaurant Week, where I took in both new (Wild Ink) and new to me (Butter) restaurants for phenomenal dining (for less).  

My stay also included another press invite to cover the A/W Man Woman Show again on the cusp of New York Fashion Week.  Designer interviews, coupled with innovative and classic collections spanning menswear, lifestyle and home goods, was a return to a space and collective design talent that was nothing short of exceptional.  

Finally, there was also my attendance at the New York Times Travel Show, where I soaked up industry knowledge and expertise from travel experts, media and tourism representatives, fellow consultants and more.  Although travel would be soon be impacted (and largely restricted) in unimaginable ways, the investment was well worth it--and my knowledge hangs in the ready for when the world restores to a healthier landscape.  

And with it all, I couldn't come to town without experiencing long-time favorites like Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, along with new discoveries, like the fabulous Hudson Yards and The Vessel.  As it turned out, that would be the extent of my travel before the Covid-induced quarantine began a month or so later, so I'm truly thankful to have scored that trip and those memories just in time.

More excitement came with my continued collaboration with exceptional, fellow Black food bloggers for the fourth annual Black History Month Potluck and my Vegetarian Chili recipe (so good!), along with more food and hospitality media for local restaurants and hotels.

I was additionally honored to have my work featured in MyDomaine, sharing my Elderflower Lemonade Spritz.  And as quarantined life became the norm, hearing from many of you looking for cooking inspiration, I hosted my first Instagram Live Cooking Class and kicked off a star ingredient series, rounding-up recipes centered around a star ingredient that's typically on-hand in the pantry or freezer/refrigerator.

And as collaborations go, I was honored to participate in a Juneteenth Virtual Cookout with over 60 fellow Black food bloggers and creatives to celebrate the history and significance of this important (but often forgotten) part of American history.  Our virtual cookout was featured across several food and media outlets, including the Washington Post, Food52, the FeedFeed, Blavity, and many more, while resonating the emphatic message that Black lives and Black history matter.

Continuing that theme here on the blog included posts on effective allyship, to supporting Black-owned Atlanta restaurants, to drive much needed aid to those establishments disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

And because it became clear that "quarantine life" wasn't leaving anytime soon, I dedicated more content (blog and social media) to helping us continue to adjust and thrive in our quarantined lifestyle, including more travel, lifestyle, fitness, beauty, self care, and arts and culture posts and sharing, along with recipes and cooking inspiration for keeping things delicious while staying home and staying safe.

The holiday season was met with my guide for a stress-free Thanksgiving, including a series of social posts on everything from recipes, to advance prep, to making the best turkey, and more.

Finally, I paused to take in the 10 year run that crescendo-ed in August and recounted my journey from then until now in a series of posts, culminating with this one (albeit a bit beyond the 10th year). :)

Which brings me once again to the heartfelt, resounding sentiment of: thank you.  For every post you've read, comment you've shared, recipe you've tried, travel tip you've taken on, lifestyle inspiration you've garnered, platform you've joined me on, cooking class or pop-up shop you've attended, collaboration you've extended, and just simply being here year after year, I extend a million thanks!

Although I was excited to live out my passions here and beyond, it is absolutely the people I share this with (known and unknown) that make it worthwhile and keep me coming back again and again. At the root of my love for it all, has always been my love of sharing it with those who are along for the ride. I'm truly thankful for the blessings that make this journey so rich and rewarding.

I'm praying this new year is a blessed, healthy and prosperous year for you and those you love.  Let's stay connected through it all and keep cheering each other on. The best is yet to come!

XO,

Dawn

P.S. See more of my 2020 highlights here!



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Thursday, January 21, 2021

{Be Inspired}: Hope Is In The Air

Yesterday marked the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States of America.  And with it came a renewed hope for the journey ahead as a country--and as a black woman in this country.  "So much from one day?," you may be asking.  And my answer is a resolute yes.

Let me explain.

Witnessing Kamala Harris, who is the first woman, and a Black and Southeast Asian woman, in fact, become the Vice President of the United States was historic and reaffirming at once.  Why? Because it emphasized something we all know: representation matters.  Seeing a woman who looks like me, and who has undoubtedly encountered (and overcome) the challenges that other women, and Black women, in particular, face, is the ultimate affirmation that it (whatever 'it' may be) can happen for me, too.  It's no exaggeration when I say that countless girls and women of all backgrounds felt the same.  To see it is to aspire to it; to know its possibility turned reality.


 

It's why, I imagine, President Joe Biden recounts telling his high school mates that he believed he would be President someday.  He saw, administration over administration, white males, who looked like him, hold the most prestigious and powerful position in the world.  Not a far stretch in his mind, therefore.

Hope lives in the believing that a dream, however audacious and ambitious, can become reality.  Hope lives in being able to "see" before you see.  And that's why representation matters.  It's why recreating more moments like yesterday's, on the big and small stages of life, matters.  From the White House, to the Clergy, to the Boardroom, to the University, to the Military, and so much more, it's what we need now more than ever.  

Opportunity. Hope. Big Dreams. Dreams Fulfilled. Repeat. 

If 2021 needed a booster shot (and it did, even in its short tenure so far), yesterday was the super dose of hope that I believe revived our expectations for better, brighter days ahead.  And I pray you experienced at least a small taste of it, too.

Here's to more Happy (Inspired) Living! 

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

D.M.R. Fine Foods, The Blog, Celebrates 10 Years (Pt.3)


Soaking in my exceptional BHG Stylemaker Event in '18

Happy New Year! 

Without question, making it through 2020 was a feat--and one well worth celebrating. And before much more time in the new year elapses, I want to finalize my "blogiversary" celebration with this third installment covering the 2016-2019 years.

I hope you've enjoyed my walk down memory lane from the 2010-2012 and 2013-2015 installments and perhaps learned a bit more about me and what I've been up to on this front all of these years. Best of all, I hope you are inspired to stay connected with me in the days ahead because I like having you around. :)

In reflecting on the 2016-2019 years, they were years of continued momentum across many of the areas that had come to life and blossomed in the previous years, along with their own new noteworthy highlights.  So let's once again dive in--and enjoy!

2016

My 2016 highlights included the likes of more amazing travel, the continuation of my Holiday Pop Up Shop, my For the Love of Food monthly food column in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine (2011-2019), continued food and lifestyle media coverage, more sponsored brand campaigns, including Groupon and Warby Parker, as well as PopSugar, being featured in the Vinings Lifestyle Magazine, and taking in that exquisite night to remember at the James Beard House in NYC that I was awarded in 2015, and enjoying a celebration among celebrations at the Red Rooster Harlem Cookbook launch party!! 

2017

My 2017 highlights reflect more amazing highs from my journey to date. From exceptional travel throughout the year, including another dynamic, hosted press trip to St. Croix in collaboration with United States Virgin Islands Tourism, it was another year for the travel books.

Beyond travel, the year brought on a new (and continuing) collaboration of epic proportions, with a cadre of fellow talented food bloggers, for a first of its kind Black History Month Virtual Potluck. It remains one of the key highlights of my blogging journey to date, as it gave more exposure and expression to our individual and collective voices, talents, stories and heritage, among each other, as well as on several renowned media platforms (including Food52, Blavity, Tasting Table, and more that would follow in the years to come.)   

My media footprint expanded(!!!)--to include television (a long-held dream of mine) via a series of holiday-themed segments on CBS46's, Atlanta Plugged In show, showcasing my recipes and entertaining tips, as well as a St. Croix travel radio segment that chronicled the best of the destination and travel planning tips, following my recent press trip earlier in the year.  

Continued collaborations, including existing and new media relations and social media campaigns, across more hotel, tourism, lifestyle and food brands, were definite highlights, along with more fashion media coverage for the Ragtrade Atlanta Fashion Week and Runway Show

2018

My 2018 highlights included more thrilling moments and experiences across the food, travel, lifestyle and media fronts.  From continued collaborations (BHM Potluck, food and lifestyle media relations and campaigns, etc.) epic travel, more sharing via television segments, this time on NBC's hit Atlanta and Company show, along with more fashion and lifestyle goodness from Saks to the Global Runway Fashion Presentation hosted by the Atlanta Airport, I couldn't make it all up, if I tried. :)

2018 was also the year I experienced one of my biggest honors on my journey to date: being selected as a 2018 BHG Stylemaker by Better Homes and Gardens magazine!!! An honor indeed, by all accounts, with the coveted spots reserved for a select few on an annual basis, I couldn't have been more thrilled to have been recognized by such a renowned and exceptional publication--and to have been in the company of my fellow ah-mazing Stylemakers--for an unforgettable event in New York City! From the day I was notified and invited until the very last moment of the event, I was beyond thrilled. (I know I keep saying it: but dreams do come true!)

2019

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my 2019 highlights represented what was truly another phenomenal year.  As you might have guessed :), there was more epic travel (I added my fourth continent via Thailand and more new countries, states and cities to my footprint, as well as launching my own travel boutique), to more exceptional collaborations, media campaigns and recognition, across food, fashion, travel and lifestyle, including New York Fashion Week-adjacent media coverage at the MAN/WOMAN A/W 19 show, another phenomenal hosted press trip in collaboration with Arkansas Tourism, and a dream (to me) media collaboration with a long beloved brand, ESSENCE, among notable others.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my highlights always included my blog posts during the year, that were always done in tandem with every other amazing experience and opportunity throughout the years.  They can all be found in my archives section here on the blog, so feel free to indulge!

That brings us to the year we'll all never forget: 2020--and the actual culmination of my 10th blog anniversary, or "blogiversary", this past August.  So in keeping with my annual highlights tradition, I will dedicate a post to my 2020 highlights in very near future to conclude this memory bank/digital celebration of sorts. :)

I thank you for being here and being interested, engaged, supportive, connected and encouraging throughout my journey.  It has made it sweeter and all the more fulfilling--and I look forward to sharing more as the year unfolds. 

I wish you the best (healthiest, happiest, most fulfilling) year yet on your personal journey.

Happy Living!

Dawn

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