My 2018 Holiday Bucket List

Hello Lovely,

It’s the first week of December and exactly 22 days until Christmas — a fact that both excites and terrifies me. Every year, it feels like the holiday season flies by at a quicker pace, and despite the fun and joy there’s also a little sadness at the things that I wanted to do that just didn’t happen. I’ve been spending some time this weekend thinking about which holiday traditions mean the most to me.

Enter: the holiday bucket list. It’s the perfect time to put pen to paper and choose a handful of things that will bring more joy to your life and fill you with holiday spirit. Things that you vow to make happen, no matter how busy life gets.

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Here’s what’s on my Holiday Bucket List so far:

  1. Buy a Christmas tree

  2. Decorate the tree

  3. Set the table

  4. Make Christmas wreaths

  5. Baking Christmas cookies

  6. Draw names for Secret Santa with our team at the office.

  7. Watch holiday movies with loved ones

  8. Sing Christmas Carols with my boyfriend

  9. Decorate the Christmas tree with mum - ever since I was little, my mum and I had the responsibility of picking out the family Christmas tree and decorating it together. It’s actually my favourite Christmas tradition. We put on Christmas music and spend hours placing the ornaments just right.

  10. Make a new signature Christmas cake - Two years ago I made my signature Milk and Cookies cake. Now I have two options. Make it again, or try something new. What do you think?

What’s on your list? Leave a comment – I’d love more ideas! And scroll on for a few great reads from around the web this week…

5 Things I Need To Do Before Summer Ends

Hello Lovely,

Can you believe summer is almost over? I went back to work on Monday and next Monday, school officially starts for us. I am SUPER excited about this. I know a lot of people love summer, but I'm just not one of them. Sure, I love the beach, vacations and festivals, but one thing I don't love is the heat. Summers get hotter and hotter every year. And in The Bahamas we have summer 98% of the year. Some people envy that, but weather that almost never changes can get depressing after awhile; leaving me longing for sweater weather and steaming mugs of cocoa. If you've been living it up this summer, that's awesome. But if you're like me and mostly stayed in to avoid the heat, then you may feel like you missed out. So here's 5 things I want to do before summer officially ends.

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1. Go To The Beach

Can you believe that I didn't go to the beach even once this summer? How crazy is that? I live on an island and visited 4 other islands this summer and still never went to the beach! I'm ashamed!

2. Go To The Movies

I am not in any way a movie person! I have a pretty short attention span but if I go to the movie theatre and it's a blockbuster movie, I'm all in. The movies I have my eyes on are The BlackkKlansman, which is already out and The Hate U Give and Operation Finale. If I'm going to watch a movie I like Marvel comics, Star Wars, psychological or racially drive/historical movies. I finally got to go to see The BlackkKlansman this weekend but I won't go on about how horrible that movie was.

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3. Grab Ice Cream with a Friend

I love Froyo but the last time I had it was November of last year because the next day I was terribly sick. I was afraid to go near it again because that nightmare was not worth repeating, but I think I've learned my lesson and I'm ready to have a small amount of it (as long as it's dairy free). I also got some this past weekend after the movie. I stuck to Red Velvet, which a teaspoon of graham crackers and granola, you know, to make it healthy.

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4. Try a new lemonade recipe

I think the last lemonade I made was Martha's Spiced Lemonade and that was two years ago! So I can't wait to try my hand at a new lemonade recipe like this Sparkling Mint Peach Lemonade, Mango Ginger Lemonade, or these Coconut Peach Lemonade Slushies

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5. Go to a Summer festival

I have not been to a single party this summer season. Between travelling and my anxiety from changing jobs, I just haven't been on the social scene much this summer and I know, that's terrible. I've been to small gatherings at friend's homes for drinks but I haven't actually been to a PARTY and that definitely needs to change before summer ends.

What's on your summer bucket list? Did you complete everything or are you missing a few things like I am? Let's chat about it in the comment section below!

What You Should Know Before Taking a Cruise

Hello Lovely,

I just got back from my summer vacation and I’ve got to say, IT…WAS…A…BLAST!!! I took my second cruise on Carnival (my first cruise was 2001, and also on Carnival). While it wasn’t my original plan to spend my summer trapped on a boat with my family, the fact that my dad was getting married kind of made it a priority, regardless. We boarded the Carnival Glory on Saturday 7th July, 2018. The first part of the trip was a little stressful because we were supposed to do an online check in, but no one told me that we were supposed to do an online check in until the night before. But the moment I walked up and saw the Carnival Glory (in all its glory) I was overwhelmed in awe. Luckily it wasn’t too much of a hassle for me to get checked in at the ship. When I realised how many things were limited, prohibited or simply not included, I just knew that I had to write this guide to help anyone considering a cruise vacation. Keep in mind, ships may have different regulations or the small stuff, but in general, they all follow the same guidelines.

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1.      Wi-Fi is not included

I was pissed to find out that for the S1100 I had invested, it did not include Wi-Fi. To make it worse, there were different internet packages for different services just to force you to spend more money. The most basic was the social media package (access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram etc.) for $4 per day. That came out to $28 for me for the entire trip. If you wait until you're onboard, it's $5 per day. The Value Wi-Fi plan adds access to email, airline sites as well as news, entertainment (not including streaming sites), sports, weather, banking and finance. Pre-Cruise price: $10.25 USD per day | Onboard price: $12.00 USD per day | Onboard price for 24 hour plan: $16.00 USD.
Then there's the Premium Wi-Fi plan which truthfully provides nothing worth paying for as you still can't stream Netflix, Hulu or, well anything. This plan just boasts having the fastest internet speed. Pre-Cruise price: $14.88 USD per day | Onboard price: $17.70 USD per day | Onboard price for 24 hour plan: $25.00 USD.
 

2.      Online check in is preferred

U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires Carnival Cruise Line to submit a final departure manifest with specific guest information at least 60 minutes prior to departure. This allows you to print out your boarding pass and luggage tags in advance. Don't feel bad if you don't get a chance to do it, as the site wouldn't allow me to complete my online check in the day before. I was still able to check it on the ship, it'll just take a little longer (like 10 minutes).

3.      No plastic bottled beverages are allowed

Carnival’s  Liquor and Beverage Policy states that guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles. This also includes juices. But if it's in a can, you can bring it on board. You'll meet two litre-sized bottles of water in your room on embarkation day but they costs $4 each. A complimentary bottle of water will be delivered to your stateroom on embarkation day. Bottled water may also be purchased onboard by contacting Room Service (gratuity fees apply).

4.      That means you can’t bring your own alcohol

The ship has bars all over so it makes sense they wouldn't want you bringing on your own alcohol, which would cut into your profits. But there are ways you can sneak them on, like in travel sized clear bottles (you know the stuff you put your shampoo and what not in), or even in the Listerine bottle. Shh! Don't tell anyone I told you that.

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5.      If you’re not a US citizen, you need a US Visa

Because I'm Bahamian to go anywhere in the US, I need a US Visa. And because a lot of the ports were US territories, my US Visa was definitely a necessity. I'll never forget travelling to London last summer and thinking everything was fine, until I got stopped at the airport check in because I needed a Canadian ETA just to connect through Canada. Guests should check with their travel agent and/or government authority to determine the travel documents necessary for each port of call.

6.      Luggage restrictions

This one isn't so bad and it's pretty much just like flying. Each checked suit case and carry-on suit case should not weigh more than 50 pounds, and when lying flat, bags must not exceed 16 inches high by 24 inches wide (the length of the bag is not a factor). For security screening purposes, all luggage should be unlocked. Oversized luggage and locked luggage may cause delivery delays. The common sense thing here is to pack sensibly, so limit your luggage to a maximum of one bag per person, if traveling on cruises of 3-5 days duration, and no more than two bags per person, for cruises of 6 days or longer.

7.      The rooms are really small

You know how hotel rooms are usually tiny? Well subtract about 20 square feet and that’s the cabins on a cruise. It’s not small enough to trigger claustrophobia (unless you have it bad) but don’t expect a grand space. The bathrooms are tiny and there are only five drawers, only two of which can actually hold clothing. There are three closets, but the hangers aren’t the best if you have the type of clothing that easily slides off the hanger.

8.      Bring a drop cord, not a surge protector

I am not kidding, there is literally one outlet in the entire cabin. ONE!!! And the way it's set up, it's at the desk so an outlet won't fit in the socket, only a drop cord. So if you have a cabin of three, it's going to be hell for the three of you to charge all of your electronic devices. However, we were told that surge protectors are not prohibited so make sure your drop cord is not a surge protector.

9.  Beware of hidden charges

On the last day, we were all shocked to find out that our accounts had been charged $90.65 for “Gratuity”. I was grateful that I didn’t attach any of my cards to my account so technically my account was in the red, and I had to pay it back. Other hidden fees include having to buy soda and juice from the bar as it’s not available from the free beverage dispensaries, having to pay for photos that are taken of you from the photo gallery, and a few restaurants and coffee shop that are not free.

10. Pre-booked shore excursions sometimes cost more

How many of you like to pre-book your activities before you get to your destination to save time and money? I know I preached this with my trip to London, but guys, after this recent experience, I have learned that does not apply to everything. When we got to Amber Cove, DR we were surprised to see the ziplining that was advertised as $75 per person, was only $20 per person at port and came with unlimited use. Had we actually booked it, I would've immediately demanded a refund! Then a guy for the waterfall excursion told me it was $110 to go to the waterfall. There was no way I was paying that much! When we got a taxi for $20 per person and the driver said he would take us to the waterfall, imagine our disbelief to see it only costs $10 per person. That is a HUUUUUUUUUGE difference! So please be careful when book shore excursions in advance. In fact, you're probably better off just doing a tour.

11. There is ALWAYS something to do

I looked forward to reading the itinerary every night for the next day so that I could know what to expect. On the last night we had a Mardi Gras party, which was full of energy and live music that simply brought the ship alive! The waiters would put on a show at dinner time that was really adorable. We had a Motown show, 80s and 90s music trivia, trivia games, raffles every day for art work and jewellery and even free fitness classes in the gym. There are several opportunities to score free booze with free rum tastings, and free champagne at the raffle events.

12. The pools suck

I've never seen people go to a pool to literally just stand in it! There are two actual pools and everything else is a whirlpool so that was disappointing. Then the pools deepest part is only 4'7". But let's be realistic, it's a giant floating hotel so naturally you can't have massive pools; and the way lawsuits go, the pools couldn't be too deep. Lastly, the pools are almost never free so don't expect to go swimming. Just stand up in your swimmy with your drink and take a few photos.

What To Do When You Miss Your Ex

Hello Lovely,

Summer is coming and with that a lot of flings, break ups and regret. If you're like me, you're heading into summer single. But don't be bitter about it. And for the love of God, put down the phone, do not call them! It's over! I know it's not easy to just walk away from a relationship especially if it last several years and there were talks of marriage. You're going to miss them, you will. It may not be now, but there will come a time when you ask yourself, "What if?" You can't allow yourself to stay in the pits about it. Here are 5 tips to help you get through those moments when you miss your ex.  

Disable Your Social Media Accounts

You could delete your social media accounts, but this is a bit extreme. Instead, it’s better to unfriend them and unfollow them on all social media accounts. When you miss your ex, it’s really tempting to pop onto Facebook and see how they're doing. But this just makes everything so much worse. You see that he’s doing just fine without you, and it makes you feel bad. (Or maybe you see that you were right to leave because nothing has changed and they're still the same jack wad you got tired of dealing with). Either way, it’s a much better idea to spend some time away from social media for a while. Give yourself some breathing space. I'm sure you're tired of answering people's questions about why your status changed from "In a Relationship" to "Single".

Get Outside

Staying in bed all day waiting for her to reply to your “I miss you” text might sound like a great idea right now. After all, you can’t even summon the motivation needed to get out of bed, let alone leave your house. But this is unhealthy and will only make you feel a lot worse. And while I understand that you want to be left alone right now, you’re reading this article for a reason. And I think it’s a fab idea that you head outdoors.

Getting out and about among people will help you to forget about him or her for a while. Your mind will be excited by new experiences, sensations, smells, sights and so on. You could take a walk, travel to a new city or just hang out with friends in a coffee shop.

Soaking up fresh air and exposing yourself to the sunshine will remind you that there is life beyond the boy/girl. They were good, but they weren’t everything.

Channel Demi Lovato's "Sorry Not Sorry"

I LOOOOOOOOVE this song! And it's not just the ultimate break up song. Every time I hear this, I just want to sing it to everyone who ever doubted me, put me down or tried to hurt me. It's a reminder that at the end of the day, you've got to always be your best self and prove the haters wrong. You don't need to be sorry for being awesome or for having high standards. Make them sorry for not seeing and appreciating that beauty within you.

Work on Your Revenge Body

This is probably the hardest one on the list. You probably gained a lot of that comfortable "relationship weight" (similar to the freshman 15), because you thought you'd never have to look for another lover again. And comfort food is so real right now, because no one heals you better than a pint of your favourite ice cream (or a pan of macaroni, not judging). But if you focus too much on eating your feelings, you're taking away from the outside beauty that can lead to finding the one. Sure "the one" should love you regardless, but let's be real, we all have our limits and preferences when it comes to love. So whether it's cutting back, going back to school, hitting the gym or meditating, do what you need to do to create a better version of yourself.

Don’t Think About “What If …”

We’ve all been there. We’ve all dwelt on ‘what if’s …’ and imagined what life would be like if only we’d have done this or that differently. But the ‘what if …’ game is the cruelest game of all, and we always lose. We like to create these stories and imagine false illusions and fantasies of a better life. We like to roll the dice for a second time in our heads and smile at better results. But reality is not like that and never will be. Had you the chance to go back in time and do everything again, you would make the same decisions. Nothing would change. Everything happens for a reason, and the reason you did the things you did is because it felt right at the time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Forget about the past and live in the present. It is what it is.

You had a great time with your ex and you miss them. And maybe you’re thinking about what could have been had things not ended.

But things ended for a reason. So why not take some time to analyse what went wrong in your relationship? In this way, you can learn from your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them in your next relationship.

Stay happy!

Why Blogging is More Work Than It Seems

Why Blogging is More Work Than It Seems

It's 2018, people around the world are able to create an online empire from the comfort of their own bed and make a ton of dolla from it. Young women are pioneering the idea that you can create a brand out of yourself and turn it into a fully fledged career - running your own business, working for yourself, earning a good income all by creating content around what you're doing, thinking and wearing. But honestly, blogging as been a lot more work than I anticipated. Here’s why.

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5 Mother's Day Activities So That You And Mom Can Bond As Adults

Hello Lovely,

Now that you're a real life grownup, you can forego the "family-friendly" plans and treat Mom to more Mother's Day activities for adults this year. And that doesn't necessarily mean taking Mom out for bottomless brunch mimosas. (But if you do decide to go down that road, please know that you have my unwavering support.) I'm talking about treating Mom like an equal this Mother's Day — treating her like a friend. So why not give Mom a 24-hour break from responsibility, and treat her to a Mother's Day activity you can enjoy together, as grown adults?

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1. Go Wine Tasting

My mum can't drink wine because she really can't handle her liquor, but if that's not an issue for your mum you should find a wine tasting to take her two. We have two free wine tastings every month on Thursdays, one at Young's Fine Wine in Sandyport and the other at Mahogany House, Lyford Cay. And best of all they're free!

2. Attend A Food Festival

We don't have a food festival happening this weekend, but how nice would it be to go to a cultural event together? If anyone wants to start this tradition, just know that I came up with the idea first, thanks 😜

3. Take That Vacation She Always Wanted

If it weren't such a bad time in the school year, I would totally take my mum away on holiday. I actually wanted to take her to Cuba for Mother's Day but it never worked out. My mum really wants to go to Missouri after seeing how much fun I had, so we may do that for Christmas. If you have the time, I'd suggest taking your mum away for the weekend somewhere real nice. And if the destination is too far, why not a staycation at a local hotel?

4. Take a Class Together

In 2008 my mum and I took a card-making class together. It was amazing! My parents had recently divorced so I loved that bonding time between us. The class isn't around any more, but whether it's Sip and Paint, Paint Your Own Pottery or even an exercise class, this time together is perfect for you and mum to learn more about each other and get better at a particular craft.

5. Mother's Day Brunch

There are a lot of brunches this weekend for Mother's Day with a lot of specials. My mum is going to Regatta at Baha Mar with her cousins on Sunday for brunch for a little girl's getaway. Treat mum to a nice meal for mother's day and give her the day off from cooking.

 

The Key to Productivity That Sarah Cummings Swears By

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For me, productivity has always been a bit of a unicorn. A beautiful, mythical creature that I could visualise but never actually come face-to-face with. It seemed like something out of the movies, or maybe something that my super-organised friends could achieve… but even then I had a feeling that it was all a lie, that they were closing their bedroom doors at night and screaming their frustrations into the pillow. (Just me, then? Ok-aaaay, never mind!)

But a year ago, when it came time to do my New Year’s resolutions, a friend gave me some great advice. She suggested scrapping my lost list of vague and unrealistic goals and instead, stick to a clear mission: to become more productive. Not to lose 10lbs by February, not to be a black belt in karate overnight, not to learn 5 languages by next year. Simply to be more productive. And to write out specific ways in which I could be.

So I made a list.

I wrote out ways to help me be more productive in work, in my relationships and in my overall health. And here’s what I came up with:

1. Do one hour of exercise 3 times a week (Productive in Health)

I always put down “exercise more” or “get fit” as one of my resolutions. But by putting a number on it, this fluffy statement suddenly became an achievable goal. And it’s one I stuck to!

That January, I signed up for a Zumba class, which I still go to twice a week. It’s a big stress-reliever, it introduced me to a new group of friends, it’s given me a huge confidence boost AND it helps me to stay in great shape! Then on the weekends I’ll either go for a swim, take a yoga class or go for a hike. I like to mix it up with my third hour of exercise for the week!

2. Make a list every morning (Productive in Work)

I know, a list within a list… sound pretty nerdy, right?! But I can’t tell you how much easier my work life has been because of my morning list-making… or how less stressed I get! As soon as I sit at my desk, before I’ve even turned my computer on, I take out my notebook. (I know, how old-school am I?!) I write down 3 to 5 things I have to achieve that day, like this:

  • Email Peter re: Newsletter article
  • Weekly catch-up with interns
  • Draft out content plan for next week

Some people might think that putting small tasks like emailing on the list is pointless; but trust me, it give you a great sense of achievement when you get to cross it off. And having them written down in this way means they don’t keep getting pushed further and further back (so that newsletter article actually gets delivered on time!)

At the end of the day, if I’ve any outstanding items on my list, I’ll simply move them forward to tomorrow’s list. Simple!

3. Make an effort to sleep better (Productive in Work, Relationships AND Health)

I never used to sleep very well. And I didn’t really know what was causing it. But rather than passively accepting the fact that I’d get around 5 hours’ sleep a night, I decided to do something about it. To be productive, for a change!

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I followed the advice of a website I’d started writing for, called The Sleep Advisor. It helps people get a better sleep and it proved invaluable to my productivity levels!

Simply put, we all need our sleep. Because without it, we become grumpy, lethargic and unmotivated. We lack the energy to put effort into our relationships, our jobs and even our own personal health. We don’t exercise, we eat unhealthy foods and we take shortcuts in work. We snap at our partners, we forget friends’ birthdays… you know the drill.

On the other hand, sleep makes us more thoughtful, more patient and more likeable people. We’re kind towards loved ones and even strangers, forgiving if they wrong us in any way. We’re more enthusiastic about our work and we become popular in the office as a result. We place greater importance on our physical and mental health, knowing that staying rested is a big factor in both.

I can say all of this with confidence because frankly, I’ve been there! I’ve been the sleep-deprived, Grumpy version and the well-rested, Happy version. And I know which of the Seven Dwarves I’d rather be!

Now I always make an effort to get at least 7 hours’ sleep a night. (If I’m feeling rundown, or especially stressed, it’s closer to 9). I do this by getting some fresh air in every day (eating lunch outside, or going for a walk after work), by doing a proper session of exercise regularly and by avoiding caffeine after 2pm. I’ve also started meditating for 20 minutes every morning; which has improved my life in so many ways, I won’t get into now!

The result? Now I sleep better than ever before. And I’ve become happier, healthier and – yep, miraculously – more productive!

 

So for me, the key to productivity lies in sleep.

Once you’re well rested, all the other things have a way of falling into place.

Try it for yourself – it doesn’t have to be New Year’s, try it now anyway – and see the benefits that sleep can bring to your life.

Enjoy!!

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Hello there, productive peeps! I’m Sarah, newly established pillar of productivity and firm believer in all things snooze-related. When I’m not shaking my booty in Zumba, I’m sipping on tasty homemade smoothies (anything with peanut butter is a must!) or walking my dog Scroggins on the beach. How’s that for productivity?!

What To Do When You're Not Feeling So Confident

Hello Lovely,

Are you a confident woman? Do you keep pushing in the face of adversity? Do you wake up every morning ready to rock? And then it happens. Every confident woman has a weakness somewhere. There's always something that can hurt our pride or put a thorn in our confident stride. Maybe it's when someone lets you down and you now have to fend for yourself? Maybe it's when you realise that you have no reliable or authentic friends at work, and no matter how hard you try to ignore it and just focus on the job, you can't deny that it gets a little lonely. And maybe even uncomfortable if you know they don't like you. It's hard to maintain your confidence when you have to interact with the very thing that tries to tear you down. I'm sure we all have our methods for breaking through, but after so much fighting, do you ever just get tired?

I know I do. I'm on a positive vibes only right now but I'm surrounded by negativity every day. No matter how hard I try to compartmentalise and distance myself from the drama, it really only does one thing: Leaves me alone. You brush it off as haters and a sign that you're clearly doing something worth watching. You also remind yourself that comparison is the thief of joy and it's never good to second guess yourself because of what someone else is doing. And sure for awhile being alone is nice, because I'm confident in myself and what I have to offer. However, after so much alone time, sometimes I do start to think, Is it me? Am I the problem? And just like that, my confident is shattered. So what do you do when you're not feeling so confident? Here are just a few ways to pick yourself back up.

1. Call your person

Everyone should know that episode of Grey's Anatomy where Christina told Meredith (or was it the other way around) that she is her person (if you don't, I literally just provided the clip for you, watch it, don't be lazy). It quickly became a thing that we all started saying. Everyone should have a "person" or maybe more than just one person. I have two people. Two people that no matter what, I know they won't judge me, they will understand, and depending on my mood will automatically know if I need sound, logical advise, or just an ear to vent to so that I feel right. And yes these are the people I would call if I just murdered someone, if they weren't already there when it happened.

2. Dance It Out

Or whatever your thing is. What is it that soothes you? Dancing? Singing? Video Games? Cooking? And it doesn't even have to be something you're good at. God knows I am not the best singer, but that doesn't stop me from building karaoke playlists that I belt out in my car while not letting people out of corners (eye of the tiger baby - not literally the song, that's just how it makes me feel when a song I really enjoy singing along to comes on).

3. Stop trying

Who gives a damn any way? So what if your coworkers don't like you, so what if you messed up that recipe? Give yourself a break. Literally, stop trying. Whatever it is, walk away from it. Do not let that moment define who you are. You, awesome you. You'll get it next time, or maybe never at all; and that's okay. Whatever it is you can't do (after trying everything you could to do it) simply wasn't meant for you to do. Stop trying, and find something else you can do!

We're not perfect. We cheat on diets, we skip gym days (for months on end) but we're not failures. It's okay to not be confident 100% of the time. It's okay to not have all the answers. Give yourself credit for the things you can do and know that tomorrow is a brand new chapter waiting to be written.

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