Travel

Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Venice of the North, a “Limer’s” paradise as we would say in Trinbagonian vernacular; a city which by all means reeks of a young, fresh and also an innovative culture. It’s also that European city fondly known for its infamous canal systems; an amazing artistic heritage, cycling and bikes; and for the Arts enthusiasts, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer. The perfect city for a reunion with friends, where the bright green Heineken signage is strategically placed and easily spotted, and outdoor bars dot every open space along the streets. In effect, I was looking for a place to spend my birthday and Amsterdam was nowhere on the list of prospective cities. But it was the end of summer and getting to and from several choice destinations, proved arduous. Amsterdam seemed like the prime destination despite the inclement weather forecasted. Just a mere seven hours from New York City, I was on my way to the Dutch country of The Netherlands/Holland, the ideal destination for a short vacation.

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Furthermore, over the past few years, Amsterdam has certainly reinvented itself. After all, its population has grown by a whooping 122% and it has seen its infrastructural prospects increased significantly. Also, it is a city full of character, which lends to the liberal identity it enjoys.  It is a place where interestingly, prostitution is legal and a “spliff” can be lit, anytime/anywhere. So much so, it is common knowledge that in Amsterdam, you can enter  coffee shop and buy “soft” drugs, such as weed and hashish. It is easily accessible; you can stroll through the streets of the famed Red Light District and get anything imaginable, created with marijuana as its main ingredient. With this intention, have no fear, nobody will arrest you, because it is legal.

Weed Products

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Day One – was spent checking in hotel (which proved to be a task) and familiarizing ourselves with Hoogoorddreef, our home for the next four days. The weather permitted for this and so we wallowed under the golden rays of the Amsterdam sun. Similarly to the previous European cities visited, the Metro system was phenomenal and our mode of transportation. It was easily accessible and immaculately clean.

Day Two-  It was my birthday and I got up to a rainy start which lasted pretty much throughout the day but I had my plans laid out  and nothing was going to stop it. We took the metro to the Hague, which was an hour and a half ride from where I stayed.  As a former student of International Relations, this was a place that fascinated me. I must confess that I always thought “The Hague” was just a building that housed the United Nations International Criminal Court Tribunal. On my visit to Amsterdam, I discovered it was actually a city on the North Coast Sea. I realized however, that it’s never too late to learn.

As we made our way to “Den Haag” (The Hague), scenic villages juxtaposed along vast plains  inhabited by windmills, goats, sheep and cattle grazing peacefully, proved to be the hallmark of the metro ride.

The Village of Abcoude

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We arrived at the “Hague” during a period of heavy rainfall and so my quest to take a picture on the outside of the ICC was hopeless. The weather did not permit too much, so we had lunch at a cafe and headed back to the hotel.

On the Inside

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In light of the inclement weather,  I did an awesome river cruise with my Mom later in the evening, the climax to a wet and cold but well spent birthday.

Day Three- The Red Light District translated in Dutch as Den Wallen, was on the agenda. It is the largest and best known red light district in Amsterdam and possibly in the world; as I strolled through its network of alleys, its  appeal was impressive and enchanting. Narrow cobbled stone streets, tour boats operating in the canal and several brothels that  made no attempts at discretion, added extra “entertainment” to an already eccentric  and unconventional place.

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I was amused by the Museum of Prostitution, which we happened to stumble upon while walking through De Wallen, as well as the statue honoring Prostitutes. It is the first and only such monument anywhere and its purpose is meant to show respect to the millions of people around the world who earn their money in prostitution work. Equally important, Holland is a country where the authorities treat Prostitutes as independent entrepreneurs. They must pay taxes just as any other employed individual.

Belle- The Sex Worker Statue

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In essence, my four days in Amsterdam, proved to be worth the while, despite nature’s plan. I experienced a combination of things; from the liberal lifestyle they enjoy to an overall welcoming atmosphere. This is a  city that I would re-visit, ensuring that special attention is given to the weather forecast.

Beauty · Uncategorized

Love-in the skin, you’re in!

Loving the skin, I’m in! This is the by far one of the most popular catch phrases on social media, often times hash-tagged to our edited selfies . But do we really know how deep this phrase is; or do we just use it loosely? This phrase may take on several definitions, but for me, it simply means, loving yourself no matter what. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to see the debilitating effects of skin lightening creams, where individuals are literally dying to be the fairest of them all. I had to wonder aloud; “do people really love the skin that they’re in?”

Despite the real risk of acquiring skin cancer through the regular use of skin lightening products known to contain large amounts of hydroquinone, steroids and other harmful products, some people seem to care less. Not only are they used for cosmetic purposes, in some societies they are used by individuals  “to be more accepted in society.” The belief in the power of light skin is common place all over the world and is not a simple beauty regime, but a remnant of classism and racial inequality from centuries of imperialism and social stratification. The widespread abuse of these products hold steadfast to the belief that those who are darker are members of the underclass and downtrodden

Nevertheless, let us try to demystify skin lighteners for a bit. They are sometimes used by individuals for skin discolorations such as freckles, age spots, and  acne scars, as well as, recommended by Dermatologist for skin disorders. However, bleaching creates more health problems than it actually works and even if it works, putting your skin at risk is certainly not worth it. I wish I could tell the large number of men and women in my West-Indian neighborhood the perils of skin lightening abuse. I recently scoured the aisles of an ethnic beauty supply store on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn; there were dozens of skin lighteners for sale, all promising the perfect, light skin tone in 6-8 weeks. Some work, others may not; in reality the side effects are innumerable.

In light of this, the abuse of skin lightening agents need to stop. So how do we help solve it? Maybe, we should redefine beauty from an intellectual and psychological point of view. Maybe, we should remove that toxic mirror, that is, SOCIAL MEDIA. Maybe, we should continuously build our self esteem and love ourselves more than ever. Then, we can shout from the mountain top and say; I’m love-in, the skin, I’m in.

Beauty

Let your Lippie Slay Before Men, Women, Boys and Girls.

There is no doubt that the lipstick is the most popular makeup item, as most women just can’t do without it. A lot of females will forgo applying other products to the face, such as foundation and blush; however, the lipstick is a must. Of course it is important to note, that it makes us look gorgeous, but there are way more benefits that can be attributed to wearing lipsticks. It enhances the eyes, it brightens the smile, it can be used as a protectant for the lips and most importantly it defines the lips. Lipsticks also has some psychological benefits in my opionion; it boosts self-confidence and it is definitely a pick-me-up, when I’m having a bad day. I apply some red to my lips and voila, I feel as though I can take on the world; not bad for morale.

Additionally, I find my happy moment when I impulse-purchase a tube of expensive lipstick, even when I’m financially limited. The aptly-titled “Lipstick Effect” (L.E) can be traced all the way back to the Great Depression. Essentially, during times of economic hardship, sales of cosmetics increase. I always fall into this trap. I spend exorbitant amounts on lippies, then I would experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ later.

For one, it seems that I am smitten with L.E, so please bare with me, as I review some of my favorite lippies.

Favourite MAC Lipsticks

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A mixture of different textures and tones by MAC are some of my faves. Foiled Rose and Ionized Iris, are trending for this Summer’s metallic look. I usually wear them over another color to create the perfect combination. The texture of Mangrove is a bit too creamy for me, but I love how it glides with relative ease on the lip as well as its vibrant color. Ionized iris is also a metallic shade that can be worn on its own or paired with another color.

The Mattes featured here are Ruby Woo, All Fired Up, Candy Yum-Yum and Fashion Legacy which is actually a liquid but dries into a matte. I really love Mac Matte Lippies but I honestly think the quality has declined. I remember back in the day, I would put on a MAC lippie and  eat, drink, talk; yet my lipstick would not budge. Now; I figure if I talk too much, it rubs off. The staying power is just not the same. Nevertheless, I’m in love with their liquid lipsticks and think that they’re a must have. They dry super matte and stays a lot longer than the satin (Cyber) and  frosts (Fresh Moroccan) textures.

In contrast, I have an affection for a few drugstore brand lipsticks. I absolutely adore these lippies featured. They are affordable, have maximum staying power and just awesome. Essentially, maximum staying power is a bonus for me when it comes to lipsticks.

Favorite Drugstore Brands

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My $3 ELF Lippie is my go-to color. It is what I use as a “slay” booster for work.

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NYX and Maybelline brands are equally superb. I love the Vs…Vivid Violet (Liquid) and Vancouver (Soft Matte), they both apply easily and has maximum staying power. Additionally, my Absolute NY and LA Girl colors are popping at only $2.99 each. I was totally surprised at the quality I got. There is a saying that good things doesn’t come cheap. That is an absolute myth! These lipsticks have not failed me. In fact, they support my claim and my belief, that good things do come in cheap packages. So Ladies, go forth and let your LIPPIES  “SLAY” before all.

Beauty

Priming with Purpose

You really cannot get enough beauty products. I swear there is a brand new product launched for every conceivable part of the body, at least once per month. After all, beauty products are essential to a woman’s appearance and each and every one of them manages to beautify in different ways;  in addition, some may say it is the Alpha and the Omega of enhancing the physical attractiveness of its users.  Nevertheless, one of the products that stood out for me is the Primer; and yes there is a primer for every body part. Lips, eyes, face and body all have primers tailored towards a particular purpose. Think about it! Primers are super important when it comes to applying makeup, but it can also confuse  women on whether or not it is absolutely necessary. In order to understand it’s importance, I’ll attempt to define what exactly is a primer.

Let’s take a moment to think about primers. Painting a wall without priming it first is basically unheard of. The primer functions as a layer of coverage and smooths out out any  imperfections. The purpose of the face primer acts in the same capacity, except the walls are your face, eyes or lips. Makeup primers come in a variety of forms such as gel and lotions and also provides a smooth surface on which to apply makeup. It can help keep makeup in place and provides the benefit of a smooth flawless type skin. All in all,  let’s  discuss some of my favorite primers.

 

MAC’s  Prep N Prime

I seriously don’t know how it works so great for my face. The consistency is creamy with a bit of shimmer, but when applied to the face the shimmer is non-existent, it also has a soft texture as well. It makes my foundation last 20x longer and because it is silicone based, it allows the foundation to apply a lot easier. I don’t have oily skin and I don’t sweat at all (funny, but true); so those may be reasons why I’ll give this particular product a five star rating.

 

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

I actually avoided this stuff for a long time because I thought it was over-rated and hyped. I was wrong; it is amazing. It prevents gathering at the crease of my eyes makes my eyeshadow colors more vibrant and last longer, a major selling point for me. By the same token,  I don’t have to use as much product to get the look that I am trying to achieve. My only qualm about this product is. it dries very quickly once applied, so you have to ensure that you apply your eyeshadow asap.

 

MAC Prep N Prime Lip Base

Lipstick when applied incorrectly is a major downfall, but frequent exfoliation and lip liner helps to prevent dry, cracked, wrinkled lips. Lip primer does wonders to ensure smooth application and long-lasting color.  This is the holy grail of lip primers; MAC’s Prep n Prime Lip Base. It is light, prevents lipstick feathering and ensures smooth application, additionally if you wear a lot of red and burgundy lippies, then this is the product for you as the color is applied evenly, once this primer is used.

If you haven’t been using primers, then you may be missing out. It can even been worn on its own for a fresh no-makeup look or it can used as a protective layer. Given these points; are you ready to introduce Primers into your beauty routine? Are you ready to prime with purpose? I hope that you are.

Travel

Governors Island

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We often view travel as going abroad for a considerable period of time.  Although this may be true, for me, travel takes on a different connotation. It’s the discovery and exploration of new places both domestic or international, and for this reason, my thoughts were set on New York’s Governors Island,  a magical car-free oasis  and a popular seasonal destination open to the public, seven days a week, between May and September. Despite its popularity, there are thousands of New Yorkers yet to visit this beautiful public park, located only eight hundred yards from Manhattan. Originally used as a fort in  1800;  fifty years later it was utilized as a prison and later commissioned as a military base. With that said, curiosity and excitement took over and soon we boarded the ferry.

How to get there?

Brooklyn Bridge Pier 6

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All aboard! Happy and thrilled, we were ready to enjoy the relatively short trip from Manhattan on a sunny spring day. This 172 acre island is easily accessed by ferries from Brooklyn and Manhattan for a round trip ticket that will cost around $2 (Children under 12 years and Seniors are free). One of the things that I enjoy most about living in this city is, its amazing skyline, and we were certainly in for a treat.

View of Manhanttan’s Skyline from Ferry

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After only 4 minutes we arrived at Governors Island and my curiosity was piqued for the scene that laid before us. Colonial style brick buildings and churches dotted the shoreline and the information guides were more than happy to welcome us ashore.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church

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I was amazed at the maintenance of the island; it was immaculate, by all means an excellent first impression. There were numerous areas for just chilling out or actually doing stuff such as rock climbing, cycling or grilling. Visitors are now able to do the latter activity on the island, however a permit is needed at a cost of $26. Not only are there lots of fun things to do on the island, but there are also lots to eat.

Food Trucks 

Nonetheless, too much activities coupled with limited food and drinks cannot work, and soon I was standing around the outdoor food court. A rotating selection of food vans stocked with burgers and fries, ice cream and even West Indian food, served up their delicacies to the hundreds of visitors. Not to be left out, further  down at Leggett Road, several temporary tents were erected and manned by eager vendors serving various drinks and dishes. I had an iced cold water and a burger, relatively cheap yet tasty. After lunch, we spent the remainder of the day discovering the island.

All things considered, this is the place to be during the summer.  Pack your sunscreen, picnic basket and coolers, catch the ferry, bring your vibes and head on over to Governors Island; after all, it’s only open for four months during the year.

 

 

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