Tips for visiting The National Museum of African American History

Back in August I requested tickets to the newest Smithsonian museum on the mall, The National Museum of African American History. The earliest I could get passes was for October. I didn’t realize (or maybe I did but didn’t really give it much thought) that it would be Columbus Day weekend, a holiday of sorts. The grand opening for the museum was a few weeks ago and my intention was to go to it,  but I have been taking on extra work responsibilities so I can progress in my field. Needless to say, I was either sick or exhausted that weekend. I knew that if I didn’t go this weekend that I would miss my chance until next year.

I spent about three hours exploring the two top levels of the museum, which were packed tight. The museum really needs to be two to three times the size it is. I would have loved to have see a whole room dedicated to pioneers like Madam C.J. Walker with a working salon and Oprah Winfrey with a recreated Harpo Studios set. In any event, it was a nice experience. Not to the point where I learned history that I didn’t already know about, but more so a celebration of the accomplishments of African Americans. I edited a short video and took over a hundred photographs. I didn’t even see the entire museum. I will go back to see the most popular exhibit which was the slavery exhibit. Below are some tips if you plan to visit the museum.

Tips:

You can get same day tickets but there is a huge line you have to wait in so you should probably opt to go early. I think the requested tickets are gone through March (Spring.) 

If you have a designated time you can go anytime AFTER your reservation but you will have have to wait in a shorter line until your designated time if you arrive early. DO NOT wait in the first line that you see. That is for the non-ticket holders. Walk to the backside of the Museum to wait in THAT line instead. It moves quickly (note, you still have to enter from the same side.)

The slavery exhibit had yet another line, as did the gift shop. Plan accordingly. The exhibits go from bottom to top – so slavery is in the basement (as well as the restaurant – the food was bland!) and the other exhibits are on the 3rd and 4th floor. The 2nd floor is a good place to just sit or to meet up with your group if you separate. ETA: I did not see the slavery exhibit, just the top two floors. I will save the intense stuff for when my head can wrap around it better.

If you don’t want to eat in the restaurant (entrees range from $12-15 on average) there are a plethora of food trucks parked along the avenue out front.

Speaking of parking, should you decide to drive you should download the ParkMobile app so you can replenish your parking right from your phone if you park on a meter.

Finally, leave the younger children home. They don’t get the significance of it yet and it really isn’t a kid-friendly type of museum. They have some computer interactive exhibits, but not enough to keep little kids engaged.

The museum is definitely worth a visit but if you can I recommend going during the week on a non-holiday or waiting until some time next year when the crowds have died down. The space is very tight.

 

St. Thomas’ Parish

Today I ventured unexpectedly upon the ruins of St. Thomas church.  I was late to a dentist appointment so I figured I would explore it more on my way back. The serenity of the park was juxtaposed by overgrown foliage and a burned out chapel that sat eerily behind a wrought iron gate. Click the link to find out more about the history of St. Thomas.

Editor’s note: I have more photos to share but I ran out of space on this wordpress account so I need to figure out whether or not I am going to move the site. 

Mango Tree

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The first night of summer was spent on the patio of Mango Tree in City Center sipping a spicy mango cocktail. Yelp Elite hosted the event at a relatively new restaurant that is gaining worldwide appeal. According the the Washington Post “Mango Tree is part of a Bangkok-based company, the Mango Tree Group, with 70-plus places to eat around the world, including 11 Mango Trees in eight countries.” The drink in question is called a Spicy Siam made of mango juice, rum, and a sprinkle of red chili that gives it an unexpected bite at the end. The drinks flowed freely and were plucked up quickly by guests trying to stay cool in the tropical heat that replicated what a steamy evening in Bangkok must feel like.

The servers presented trays filled with pork belly buns, crab fried rice, watermelon salad, chicken satay, and crispy coconut brussels sprouts all evening. My favorite was the crab fried rice which was a healthy portion for a sampling. I was most excited about the pork belly buns and the watermelon salad, but sadly found myself quite underwhelmed by the lack of filling and flavor inside of the pillowy soft bun, and overwhelmed by the busy flavors and textures of the watermelon salad. While I am usually a big fan of brussels sprouts, the crispy coconut brussels sprouts just weren’t impressive enough to warrant a second go despite the urging of the servers. The chicken satay was a surprise stand out with moist, tender meat and a flavorful sauce.

I look forward to going back to try their regular menu items, as well as revisiting the tasty samples that we tried at the Yelp event. Do you like Thai food?  What is your favorite Thai dish?

Mango Tree 929 H St. NW. 202-408-8100. www.mangotreedc.com

Confession about Sinful Colors

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I must confess my I love for Sinful Shine by Kylie Jenner. There, I said it. I am not a nail polish person. I get my toes painted at the nail shop every two weeks, but I have never been one to sit at home and paint my nails. That might change with Kylie’s Sinful Shine. I spotted them in my local grocery store and liked the colors so I bought a couple of bottles. After I tried it I went back to buy a couple more bottles along with the top coat.

What makes Sinful Shine different?

  • The colors: That was the first thing that drew me in.
  • The shine: The polish has gel tech which makes it look like you have gel on your nails.
  • The price: I paid $2.99 per bottle. I am used to buying OPI and Essie which can sometimes be around $7 a bottle.
  • The coverage: With some polishes you need to have 2 or more coats to get good coverage. I can get away with one coat of polish and a top coat with Sinful Shine.

Have you tried any of Kylie’s polishes?  What is your favorite color?

Sinful Colors

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Products were purchased with my own money and I am sharing my honest opinion with my readers. 

NYX Lippies

nyxA while back I mentioned NYX Lip Butter as a favorite beauty product. Lately I haven’t been able to find lip products that are in the colors that I like. I went to CVS and Target yesterday in search of lippies. In CVS I found a tube of soft matte lip creme in Copenhagen. I didn’t realize that it was matte otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten it. Well, as anticipated the product was extremely drying to my lips and it also came out a bit redder than I expected. The woman threading my eyebrows seemed to like it, but I wasn’t a fan. I stopped in Target and the NYX section was bare. I happened to find one tube of intense butter gloss in black cherry tart in the Rimmel section where someone must have changed their mind about buying it. I really liked the deep color and the moisturizing shine of this product. In the tube both products look like they are same color, but on my skin they are very different. I will still use the matte, but I will need to use a lip liner and also layer it with another product to make it work for me.

What is your favorite lipstick brand? Do you prefer matte or gloss?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased both products on my own and have shared my honest opinion. 

My photography love story <3

My love for photography developed after I moved to D.C. to attend grad school almost half a lifetime ago. I was attending a film program and one of the professors suggested that we develop an “eye” for getting good shots and perfect framing shots by practicing with a still camera. A classmate of mine was generous enough to lend me his Pentax K1000 when I expressed an interest in learning to frame shots. I kept his camera for months, going around campus and around the city shooting mostly in black and white photos on film. One day, the camera just stopped working! My heart dropped. I thought I had broken his camera so I found a camera repair shop over by Gallaudet University and got it repaired. Proudly, I presented the cleaned and repaired camera to him and he said, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that. It was an old camera that was on the bottom of my trunk and had probably suffered water damage.”  Deflated I responded that it was only right that since he loaned the camera to me in working condition that I return it to him in the same or better condition.” When I shared my story with my aunt, she decided to take me to buy a camera of my own as a gift from her. I still have my Pentax and will cherish it for the rest of my life, especially since the manufacturer  stopped making them in 1997.

What makes the Pentax K1000 special is that it is the perfect beginner’s SLR camera. The metal body is durable and the lenses are interchangeable.  It is a manual film camera with no bells and whistles. It was recommended to beginners because it forced them to focus on basics of exposure and composition due to the lack of having extra features.

Pentax K1000

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As the use of film began I die out I longed for a digital camera, but cost was a factor. On a trip to visit a friend in D.C. I commented on his camera and he asked, “Do you want it?” My mouth hit the floor and I responded with something like are you joking? He said, no. If I wanted it I could have it because he hardly used it. The camera was like new! I graciously accepted the camera and I was as happy as a lark. The camera was a Canon Rebel T1i, and while there were a few newer models produced the T1i was just what I needed at the time. I loving used it from 2011-2016. The body of the camera is bulky, but the quality of the pictures is beautiful. I also wanted the flip out screen which the newer models now offer. I also am not impressed with the video quality of this camera, and I really wanted to expand my content creation to include video.

Canon Rebel T1i

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Enter the Canon G7x. It is everything that my Rebel is not. It is small, sleek, and compact. As a matter of fact it is small enough to slip into my pant pocket. The video quality is phenomenal and it does well in low light settings! As if that wasn’t enough it is also wi-fi enabled. I think I prefer my Rebel for still photography but for video the G7x wins hands down and it has a flip up screen that I can use when making travel videos and product reviews! I adore this camera and hope to put it to good use once the weather warms up. I really wish that I had this camera when I lived in New York.

Canon G7x

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So my love for photography continues to flourish. I am finally able to sharpen my videography and editing skills. I think I could benefit from taking a photography class, but for now I am using YouTube tutorial videos and good ole’ fashioned trial and error.

Special mention goes to the camera on my Samsung Galaxy S5. Many of the photos on this site were taken using my camera phone, which in my humble opinion is equivalent to the quality of the Rebel.

What is your favorite camera? What do you like most about it?

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Christian Siriano Collection for Lane Bryant

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I am excited! I don’t consider myself a fashion person (I just like cute clothes) but I have taken notice of Christian Siriano. I watched his season of Project Runway, but never thought much about him one way or another after that. A friend raved over his shoes being sold at Payless, but because they were usually sold out in my size I never got a chance to see what the hype was all about.

Fast forward to year 2016. I not only own a couple of pairs of Christian’s shoes, which are both cute and comfortable, but I also hear that he created a line of clothing for plus size retailer Lane Bryant! And the clothes are cute too!

The line will be released tomorrow and the model selected to be the face of the campaign is a chocolaty brown, plus size beauty who has acted in Orange is the New Black and The Color Purple. Her name is Danielle Brooks and she is absolutely stunning! Here is a sneak peek of what will be in the collection. I’m sure stores across the country will sell out quickly. There are 18-pieces in the collection priced from $48 to $198. They all look like pieces that I would buy to add to my spring and summer wardrobe. See the rest of the collection here:

Lane Bryant

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Which piece is your favorite? Share below in the comment section. 

Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Twist Out

My hair story:

December 2014 I decided to cut all of my hair off for the third time in my life. The first time I had it professionally cut  into a short chemically relaxed style that was easy to maintain. I was in my 20s and I cried. The second time I cut off all of my hair myself with a pair of scissors in the bathroom. I did it out of anger at the end of a relationship. My hair remained natural for over 10 years. When I relocated to this area I decided that I wanted to get my hair blown out, so I found a Dominican salon in Rockville where I would religiously go to maintain my long, straight tresses. As time went on I noticed that I was losing my curl pattern and eventually my hair began to get thin and come out in clumps when I would wash it at home. I realized then that the salon had been putting chemicals into my hair. This was actually the second time I had this experience in a Dominican salon where I was a regular. The first time was at a salon in Harlem but the damage wasn’t as severe. Part of the reason that I went natural in the early 2000s was because my scalp couldn’t take chemicals anymore. I was started feeling the same discomfort, but because I was natural, or so I thought, I brushed it off.

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The big chop

Once it became apparent that my previously long healthy natural hair had been tampered with I took the scissors and cut away inches of uneven damaged hair. I began taking care of my own hair again. This is when I switched over to Shea Moisture products as the only products that I would use to shampoo and condition my hair. Shea Moisture was my product of choice because it easily detangled and moisturized my hair. I am a wash a go type of person and Shea Moisture made it easy to do just that. 20160426_225246.jpgSince my hair was short it was easy to manage and maintain.

Eventually my hair began to grow back and my curl pattern returned. I ventured out and started trying different lines of the Shea Moisture brand. I picked up the coconut and hibiscus line because I enjoyed the sweet scent of the product. I decided to twist out my hair on Sunday night while watching Beyonce’s Lemonade, so I grabbed my spray bottle and the jar of the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. By the last scene of Lemonade, my hair had been formed into chunky twists and wrapped up in a silky scarf for protection.

The next morning I carefully unraveled my twists to get the look in the first picture. By the end of the day, my curls had fallen into place. I wrapped my hair up into a pineapple the next night and the next morning freshened it with water to get the day two look in the second picture. I received a lot of compliments on the day two results of the twist out and plan to try it again using the Jamaican Black Castor Oil line next time.

What are your favorite products to use for twist outs? Do you have any tips of tricks for getting a perfect twist out? Share below in the comment section. 

Food Trucks: Pho Wheels

 

If you have been reading this blog for a while then you already know how much I love pho. So when I heard that a pho food truck was going to be at our building, I made it point to go downstairs to check it out. Unfortunately, I was too late the first time they came so I promised to do better the next time they visited. Sure enough, they came back and I made my way down to what they had to offer.

Of course they had pho so I had to order that in order to compare it to my favorite pho restaurant. But they also had Bahn Mi and Asian tacos. You know I had to try the tacos.

Pho: Meh, just O.K.  Lacked the flavor and consistency of a really good pho. I wouldn’t order it again.

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Pork belly tacos: Fantastic! The portion size was impressive. I actually only ate one and saved the other for another day. Flavor pairings were on point. Outer wrapping made of roti was moist and chewy while the inside was filled with tender pork and veggies. I would definitely order this again!

01610-calpee-shrimp-chips-xlThey also had yummy Asian snacks and treats so I picked up a bag of Shrimp Chips for nostalgia’s sake. I used to love them when I lived on Guam. Next time I want to try the egg rolls and the bahn mi.

Do you eat from food trucks? What is your favorite?