The Miasma Art and Fashion Exhibition

Hello Lovely,

This past weekend, I attended The Miasma Art and Fashion Exhibition at the Dundas Centre. The event featured designs from designers Anthinique Black, Reneil Ingraham, Del Simone , Alex Turnquest, Rebel, Racquel, Jarressa Johnson , Ryan Dean and Delano Marc. The Miasma Art and Fashion Exhibition was meant to tell the story of "an Afro/European inspired civilization called the Cicada. The story begins one day preceding an outbreak of the Miasma Plague, a Plague that was a weapon used against the tribe's enemies but now it will bring them DOOM..."

The coordinators of the event never mentioned that it would be outside so that was the first surprise. While waiting for the event to begin, I was able to chat with a few retailers pictured above, and a local artist who was disappointed that there was no art exhibit at 6 as advertised. I don't personally know the host of the event but I must admit, although the idea behind what he was doing was great, the execution left much to be desired.

There was no designated announcer so the DJ had to try his best to announce when the models were approaching the runway. The runway was far too long (about 30- 50 yards) and not very well light, so when nighttime fell, the photographers could not see a thing. At the next event, the runway should be MUCH shorter and INDOORS. You do not want your guests to be attacked by random bugs in the dark while trying to enjoy your show.

The first designer, Jarressa Johnson debuted African inspired looks that were gorgeous and practical, but the music of Fall Out Boy did not match the designs at all. As a tip an afro-beat would've paired significantly better with her African designs. Also, spread out the models more; you should never have one model directly behind another as it makes it harder to focus on one look at a time.

Next up was Justin Moultrie (the art segment) who even walked with the other models holding his paintings. The paintings told an interesting story of power and love in the African culture.

Racquel Barr was up next with her resort swimwear designs. I've never been a fan of the plastic raincoat look, which some of her models sported, but I can always appreciate when designers create plus size wear.

The BTVI designers were the last looks I saw before leaving because it was too dark to take any more photos. Mckaila Lett, Reneil Ingraham, Del Simone and Anthinique Black blew everyone away with their designs! They were hot and definitely something that should be sold in boutiques all over the island.

The biggest problem of the show was the incredibly long pauses in between each designer, on average 10-15 minutes between each set. Luckily we have the musical stylings of Shon P and Ophine from the Savage 100 music label to fill in two of the gaps. The full lineup was both admirable and enjoyable. Just work on a faster turn around with the models, host the show indoors so that time of day or weather won't be a factor, and your next show could be a huge success!

 

5 Boutiques You Must Visit For the Perfect Gifts

Hello Lovely,

Mother's Day is approaching VERY quickly! And now that we're all adults, it's time to get a GOOD gift! No more macaroni art, bring in actual jewellery bought in a store. But not just any store. You want something unique, yet cost effective. Sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect gift for the perfect price. So today I'm sharing for all of my local readers and anyone planning on vacationing here soon, the 5 best boutiques that I visiting when searching for the perfect gift.

The Billie Shop

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The Billie Shop is not where you go for a basic gift. This boutique is located in Old Fort Bay Clubhouse just before you get to their little beach. It's in a tiny hut that has the best island life feeling. The items are not original Bahamian pieces, but they're very nice; the kind of things you would find on Instagram. I instantly fell in love with all of the colours. The bright clothing and Beachwood furniture really draw you in It's mostly swimwear, cover-ups, floaties and candles but I did manage to find some alcohol infused candy as the perfect gift for my bestie Krista.

Bottom Line: Don't go to this store unless you're willing to spend at least $100. The candy was $31 for three 2 oz. boxes of candy ($11 each: literally the cheapest thing in the store). The gift box was lovely, so I think most of the cost went into packaging.

Bahama Hand Prints

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I love the idea of Bahama Hand Prints! I say the idea because while everything is absolutely gorgeous the price tag is rather high. I haven't reached the point in my life where I feel like I can spend over $200 on a sundress but there's a reason they're so costly. Bahama Hand Prints makes their own fabric on site! That's right, there's a backroom off from the fabric room (yes you can by the fabrics and make your own dress or whatever you fancy) where they make the fabric. Some would argue it should be cheaper if they're cutting out the middle man and producing their own fabric but that can be a rather costly task.

Bottom Line: This store is perfect for gifts for the fashionista or home maker in your life. There's wonderful napkins and other linens, handbags, napkin rings and more. The best part, it's 100% Bahamian.

The Craft Cottage

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Another 100% Bahamian craft store perfect for gifts is The Craft Cottage. I LOVE the Craft Cottage. It's an eclectic mix of items made by Bahamians. I once bought a conch shell bowl with a spoon for only $25. I have yet to use mine but I hope the person I gave it to really enjoyed it. I also absolutely love my pink Army Men earrings I got for only $6. That was years ago so you're not going to find that any more. That's what I love about this store, everything is essentially one of a kind and once it's gone, that's it! There's a constant flow of new items to choose from so it never gets dull.

Bottom Line: When you want an authentic Bahamian souvenir that does more than just sit on a fridge, this is the place to go! The owners are SUPER SWEET making this the BEST shopping experience on this list. If they don't have something you want they'll call around and find a store that does have it.

Dake's Shoppe

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Dake’s Shoppe opened in November of 2015 on Harbour Island, Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Dake’s Shoppe is a very personally-curated department store operating in a restored historic home on Crowne Street in the heart of Dunmore Town. They are located between Piggly Wiggly and Arthur's Bakery in a white building with red trim. I've never personally been there, but they have been recommended. 

Bottom Line: This is a high end store. The kind that sells camisoles for $66. If this is your style, this is the store for you.

Shop It Sparkles

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I recently discovered Shop It Sparkles from my friend Nikki Jae when she was looking to buy the hat in the bottom right photo. I'm really impressed with their options and they're prices are great! This is where you go if you're looking for a gift for the trendy person in your life. Fashion, mugs, water bottles, these are the things you will find at Shop It Sparkles.

Bottom Line: I can't wait to buy that mug to replace my travel mug that broke. And I've got my eye on a few other things as well. I'll keep you guys updated through my Instagram on how that goes.

HOLD UP! DON'T GO YET!

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While you're shopping don't forget to check out this new online store I just discovered called Old English. They have really cool enamel pins and a competition going on right now for you win some! I can't wait to share my favourite picks from this website with you guys!

Easter Farmer's Market at The Island House

Hello Lovely,

This past Saturday, I had so much fun at the Easter Farmer's Market at The Island House. I had never been to a Farmer's Market on this scale before. I've always wanted to go to farmer's markets because they feel so green and hippy; like the cool thing to do. Let me just say that this market DID NOT disappoint.

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The following vendors who were in attendance:
Noirished Naturals | Nature's Way | Cia Monet Soaps & Scents | Sweet Tooth Bakery | Field to Fork Farm | Bentonite Beauty Clay | Bahama Island Farms | Naturally Bahamian | Fresh Cay Microgreens | Manchy Sasso | Ena's Kitchen | Brer Bookie Meat Company | Lollipop by Beautiful Things | Green Leaf Farms | Sunset Organics | Nisha Armbrister | V&V Condiments | Fish & Lime | Abaco Neem | Flavour of the Nation | 320 Nicecream | A Rainbow's Delight | Oma | The Distinguished Palette

This was the perfect event for the whole family. The talented kids from the Bahamas Music Academy played beautifully on the lawn. There were giant pillows set out for people to sit on to enjoy the music while their children ran around on the lawn, playing with the toys and in the teepees. I tried to snap a few photos of my goddaughter in a teepee but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how that turned out.

I loved how beautiful everything was. I'm trying to curb my impulsive spending and I think I made mindful purchases. I got a bag of spinach mix for $5, 2 veggie patties for $4, an edible flower plant for $5 and Nice Red Velvet Ice Cream for $5. The way they prepare their ice cream is an amazing experience! It's liquid nitrogen and it really is cool (not as cold as I thought it would be). It's dairy free which is perfect for me! The veggie patties were spicy, which I don't like, but I was inspired to make to my own veggie burgers so stay tuned for that recipe.

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What's your favourite part of Farmer's Markets? If you want to go, Mahogany house has a market every Saturday but if you want something on this level, Island House hosts theirs once a month. You've got to check it out! Don't forget to bring the kids!

 

 

The 2017 Elevation Awards

Hello Lovely,

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (or IG as the kids call it), you would have seen a few highlights from the first Elevation Awards Show at the Melia Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. On Saturday April 15th, 2017, the Life by Olivia team was there to capture and mingle with some of the young Bahamian artists who are making waves on the scene and changing the industry.   The Red Carpet activity started buzzing shortly after 5:30pm as scores of fashion looks graced the scene sporting various trends, cultural prints and bold coloured jackets. The talent was anything but shy! These game changers are making BIG statements with their accomplishments but still remain humble.

If you haven’t heard, the Elevation Awards is geared to be an annual award show created by The Elevation Media Group.  The Elevation Awards celebrates the accomplishments of Bahamians in music, acting, sports, community building and other fields of entertainment. We chatted with some of the big names that night, including musical artists Gary Francis, Dyson Knight, Keeya, and Jonathan Farrington. Each artist shared a word of wisdom with us. Gary advised any new artist trying to get on the scene that practice truly does make perfect. Dyson stated that his motivation for his career comes from seeing his music touch and inspire others. Keeya shared that the inspiration behind her #1 single Faded was about being a millennial girl trying to figure out the young guys on the dating scene. The video was created by an all Bahamian team with world-renowned director, Kareem Mortimer. While, Jonathan, who had to quickly jet back to Canada to perform at the Canadian Music Festival shared how placing second in the Canadian musical competition and being the only international competitor has helped his networking and boosted his determination to continue his career.

Hosted by the host of one of my favourite local TV Shows, “Chef it Up”, Ianthia Smith, kept the audience entertained with her quick wit, humour and engaging personality.   But the best part was the live performances. The Award Show provided nonstop entertainment with concert-like performances in all genres that brought the crowd to their feet and made inner karaoke superstars out of many! We were entertained by artists such as Keeya, Jive, Jonathan Farrington, DJ Counsellor, Sammi Star and Bantangy. My favourites were Jive for their performance of Rhythm, a  rap artist by the name of Eman who performed a raw piece that told us of his transformation from street life to Christian, and a spoken word piece entitled, “The Bahamian Dream”, which spoke to the realness of current events and politics that many choose to ignore; it was written by Michaela Munnings and performed by Zemi Holland.

The first of many to come, The Elevation Awards serves as inspiration to young artists to let them know that there is a place for them in society. I've heard the biggest complaint from young artist who submit their work to local competitions: "I was told it wasn't Bahamian enough." Artists should feel free to make whatever work makes them happy and sparks a change socially. The Elevation Awards is the right platform to do this and next year, they're coming back bigger and better than ever! And as always, Life By Olivia will be there to keep you covered. Because Life Could Use a Personal Touch!

XoX,

Mango Salsa

Hello Lovely,

Conch Salad is a MUST in the Bahamas and one of our local staples enjoyed by many around the world.  It can be a light, tangy and spicy treat in every spoonful with splashes of conch and diced vegetables.  For the vegans or vegetarians among us, there is a way to enjoy this dish without the conch but still capture the tangy but spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness.  Mango Salsa combines all of these flavors and places the emphasis normally used on conch to the chunky but sweet mango.

Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 large mangolas, peeled and chopped (half or fully ripened)

  • 2 medium/large limes , sliced and squeezed

  • 1 scallion stem, minced

  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced

  • 1 jalapeno, minced

  • 1 medium scotch bonnet, minced (optional)

  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all items in a bowl and mix well. Cover in an airtight container or with saran wrap and let sit in the fridge for 1 – 2 hours to allow the ingredients to max and increase the flavor.

Note: If you prefer a more spicy taste, add ½ tsp. of red pepper flakes to the mix before place in the fridge.  

A more ripened mangola adds a sweeter taste and softer texture.

I’ve enjoyed eating this as a refreshing appetiser and as a topping for grilled chicken, pork kabobs or other meat dishes.  You can use this recipe to accent your next entrée or dinner party!

Do you prefer a spicy or sweet mango salsa? Which dish would you top the salsa with?

XoX,

 

 

Friday Favourites: 5 Places to Visit in St. Croix

After going to St. Croix at the beginning of the month, I have a renewed love for travelling! I don't know where my next trip will be, but if you're planning a vacation, I would definitely recommend going to St. Croix. And if you do go there, here are 5 must-see spots to visit!

ARMSTONG'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM

When we first went to Armstrong's (we went a total of three times) it was just for my boyfriend to visit his family members (the proprietors of the store). But when we went back I was really excited to try their ice cream. It was super-hot, and we had just come from the beach, so it was perfect! As you can see on the sign atop their shop in Frederiksted (which the first two days of the trip I kept saying Frankensted), Armstrong’s has been producing homemade ice cream in St. Croix for 112 years. Anyone and everyone on the island loves ice cream from them. Why? The big reason why is also right on the sign – Armstrong’s serves real homemade ice cream here, the kind with big chunks of good stuff conspicuously wedged into the cold and creamy treasures, the better to let the natural flavours shine in your cone or cup. Normally you’re able to get almond, banana, butter pecan, cherry vanilla and rum raisin ice cream just about anywhere. But here at Armstrong’s, you can probably find guava, mango, passion fruit, or soursop, too. Just remember that a lot of the flavours are seasonal so don’t expect to get mango or pumpkin in May. I fell in love with the banana, and even liked the guava and gooseberry, even though I don’t like guava or gooseberry. Despite my lactose intolerance, I was able to eat these ice creams with no discomfort at all! So if you’re looking to cool off, make sure you stop in to this family-owned store during your trip!

POINT UDALL

If only to say that you have been to the Eastern-most point of the United States of America you should go here. The view is absolutely breath-taking and really makes you appreciative for natural wonders.

CHRISTIANSTED NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

What I love about Christiansted is the streets are filled with historic colonial buildings and churches. I’m a huge history geek and a sucker for historical sites. To the locals, I’m sure they just saw dilapidated buildings. To me, all I could think was how many great photoshoots I could host there. If you find yourself visiting the USVI be sure to visit the Christiansted National Historic Site to see the Old Danish Customs House, Fort Christiansted, the Government House, local bars and restaurants and a great shopping district.

BIG DOCK

You know things are serious when your boyfriend tells you that no one jumps off big dock unless someone else is doing it too. Big Dock is right next to the Frederiksted Clock Tower (another great photoshoot location). We went there twice to jump and I jumped a total of 6 times. Here’s a video if just one of my jumps. I think you’ll have fun laughing at me.

SALT RIVER BAY NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK AND ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE

This one we didn’t actually get a chance to go to, but I really wish we did. At this point, everyone was a little cranky from the long car rides so we ended up driving right past it. It’s supposedly a great tourist spot though. Coral reefs, a submarine canyon, mangroves, wildlife, pre-colonial ruins and Columbus’ landing spot make this a top attraction. Photos came from their website.

In addition to these places to visit, there are many events you've got to try as well, such as stand up paddle party and beach fire every full moon at sunset, Disco Bingo at Deep End Bar & Restuarant, Caribbean night on Mondays and Crab Races on Wednesdays at The Palms at Pelican Cove, and After Hours on First Fridays at Cafe Christine.

So what are you waiting on? Book your next vacation in St. Croix today! And tell me what your must-see favourite spots were!

XoX,

How Going to St. Croix Changed My Life

Hello Lovely,

I'm back from vacation, but my brain is still in vacation mode, so I'm not quite there yet. Last week I put on the coffee maker to make 12 cups of coffee for myself and a co-worker and waited patiently until it was all done, only to find out that I never actually put coffee into the machine, and all I did was boil water. I’ll get there eventually, I promise. But can you blame me? I spent almost three hours on a plane to get to St. Croix from Miami, so the flight alone has me drained. Then in the first two days of being there, we drove around the entire island! Every day we were doing something or going somewhere so relaxing wasn’t really an option. I wasn’t even allowed to sleep past nine without someone waking me. Even when we went to the beach, we probably only stayed for about an hour before moving on to the next spot. Of course as a group we couldn’t decide on which activities to do when (like whether or not to go out to dinner, or whether we should continue sightseeing or not). It was crazy! That’s definitely not the way I vacation, but it was such a learning experience.

I had never seen mountains before, so the views were absolutely breath-taking and my camera does it no justice. I loved how they preserved their historic buildings so everything felt authentic. Sure not everyone was polite, but you can’t expect everyone to be. My boyfriend’s family was more than accommodating and I really felt welcomed. They made sure that I really saw the sights and made me feel like a native. His mother loved me even though she didn’t always understand my sense of humour, and his brother went out of his way to bond with me, including showing me how to catch their pet chicken (yes people, they have a pet chicken). I was beginning to be hopeful. Until one day when we were at Big Dock…

Something I didn’t understand was the lack of PDA or the apparent forbiddance of it. While we were there I wasn’t allowed to hold my boyfriend’s hand; not because of a law or because his family is strict. It was really because no one else does it, so we weren’t allowed to do it for fear of sticking out. There was a lot of emphasis on blending in, which I don’t believe in. It felt hard to be myself, with his family’s needs and beliefs coming first. I felt like nothing I did was right or good enough. His sister often called out my drinking, like I should be ashamed for having a drink with lunch from a restaurant while on vacation. There were moments where I was genuinely miserable, especially because I thought I would feel at home in another Caribbean nation.  After taking time to reflect on everything I experienced, I realised that St. Croix could never be home for me.

Now this is not meant to say the country is terrible; that is far from the truth. But something changed in me while I was there. With all of the tension and stress from travelling, my boyfriend and I had a HUGE fight; the kind that could really break a couple up. Even after making up, I was still doubtful about a few things, and these fears carried over to our return to Miami. I had officially met his mother. We were official. I mean we were official before, but now it’s really official. Officially official. You know? There’s so much pressure added now from outside forces, on when we’re getting married and when I’m moving. I don’t want to think about any of it. Though the situation is resolved, I was left feeling depressed about so many other things. One thing in particular was an issue in my own family.

While we were there, I received the news I feared the most. My aunt has now been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am a very practical person, not always realistic, but practical. Pancreatic cancer is the most deadly with no hope, no cure. So I immediately began the grieving process. I asked the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I tortured myself with memories of our moments together, and chastised myself for getting inpatient or angry with her whenever she made demands of my time. So after learning this, I wanted to make the most of my trip; of my time on earth. I wanted to see everything there was to see and complain less about things not going according to schedule. But the sadness didn’t go away.

Once we left St. Croix, I thought about all of the topics I wanted to discuss on my blog but couldn’t focus on any of them. For days I stared at a blank screen and no words would come to me. Every now and then, something would pop in my head, but I couldn’t make the connection. I had writer’s block and it was absolutely depressing. My boyfriend did his best to be supportive, with foot massages and even buying the water I like (inside joke because I hate the water he drinks). I spent the days watching marathons of Law and Order SVU and Mythbusters but I just couldn’t shake the depression.

Who gets depressed on vacation? Isn’t the point of vacation to unwind to refresh? I was able to recognise the trigger, but not the reason why I was stuck. I felt so worthless when I got back and even worse, I couldn’t talk to my mum about it because she’s with my aunt in Tennessee while she gets her first round of chemo. And that’s when I realised why I was stuck. No matter what, my mum is always there for me. We have a very close relationship. I call her while at work just to give her jokes, or tell her how my day is going, even though I’m going to see her at home. But I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t call her during the day at work and I wasn’t going to see her at home. That’s what changed. Once I was able to recognise this, I started to feel better. I don’t like being depressed. I don’t like feeling trapped inside my own mind. I knew that I was way too old to be sitting at home crying because I missed my mommy. And just like that I snapped out of it. I wrote a post last week on my favourite sunglasses and began to feel hopeful again. I even dressed up on Friday to keep myself in a good mood, went to happy hour and did a little shopping on Saturday that I can't wait to tell you about. And here I am finally writing about my trip.

But yesterday my mum came back with my aunt and we found out it was stage four and aggressive. Just like that, everything I did to feel better didn't matter any more. The amazing message I received in church, my funky new sunglasses, even my newest ice cream that I made to keep everyone's spirits up did nothing to ease my mind once I got that news. I couldn't sleep because I was angry. I ended up crying for about thirty minutes uncontrollably before I finally fell asleep. I wanted to be ready to move on. I thought I was. She's still alive and here I am grieving like she's already dead. I promise I'll find a way to pull myself together, so forgive me for posting less regularly.

It's weird. I went into my vacation with my biggest fear being that my future mother-in-law would hate me. She loved me. But now I'm grieving someone I love. 

At the risk of this post ending on a sour note, I'll leave you with this hilarious video of myself trying to catch a chicken. Enjoy!

XoX,