Fashion Crazed Foodie

The Tasty Travels of the Swanky Budgeteer.


A fab beach dress, frozen cocktails and good vibes are all that's needed for the perfect beach day. FashionCrazedFoodie
#WIW Dress: asos cut-out pleated beach maxi, $46
Swimsuit: Old navy: orig. $48, I paid $5
Beats by Dre Studio Headphones: $500



5 Days of Luxurious Resorts and Kid-Friendly Adventures, from Sanibel, to Fort Lauderdale, to The Florida Keys. 

Fashion Crazed Foodie Syretta


I published a blog post, "#TravelTuesday: 5 Florida Keys to Visit Now in April, after attending The Taste of the Florida Keys event here, in Houston. In doing so, I thought about revisiting Florida, and exploring The Keys. I've traveled to Orlando three times for Disney World with my family, and Fort Lauderdale once, to board a cruise ship to The Bahamas. The Taste of Florida event, sponsored by the The Florida Keys Tourism Council piqued my interest by revealing all that The Keys have to offer in terms of family fun, food and overall hospitality. We were faced with the daunting task of choosing between San Diego, California and Florida for our last family vacay of the summer, and thanks to the fact that we've vacationed in California several times, we chose the latter. We planned a five day trip to the Sunshine State; an exploratory trip, of sorts. From Sanibel to Fort Lauderdale/Miami, to Key Largo, Islamorada, and lastly, Marathon, Florida. My husband booked a series of luxury beach resorts to ensure that we would relax, and enjoy five full days of fun in the sun. We spent our first night  Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, followed by sumptuous Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, and Playa Largo Resort Beach and Spa Autograph Collection.

Fashion Crazed Foodie ASOS Coverup
#WIW: ASOS Beach Maxi Dress $46





Beach prep: Old Navy Bikini ($5) Knock-Knock pad, Beats by Dre Studio Headphones, The Bohemian's Closet Sunglasses and Belizean Rum 

#HarborBeachLife



There's no telling if it's the towering palm trees that sway ever-so-gracefully in the ocean breeze, or the welcoming smiles of the locals and tourists alike, but we found ourselves planning our next trip to The Florida Keys during this trip! There are several family-friendly attractions in The Keys, many of which involve water; fishing, beaches and resorts, The Turtle Hospital and Aquarium Encounters. Our descent into southern Florida began on Monday. We checked into the Playa Largo Resort and Spa (Key Largo), and spent the entire day at the hotel's beach and pool. We ate, drank and swam, stopping only for lunch and dinner.         


FashionCrazedFoodie
Sand castle time!



Family Fun in Florida
Noshing on conch at Key Largo Conch House



Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters


FashionCrazedFoodie
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is an acclaimed establishment, solely dedicated to oceanic work, as it relates to conservation, capture, transportation and relocation of marine life. The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters offers a variety of fascinating and educational exhibits and experiences, including
  • Guided aquarium tours
  • Coral Reef Tank
  • Predator Reef Tank
  • Tarpon Basin
  • Tide Pool Touch Tank
  • Big Shark Bay Encounter
Each experience allows a range of guided interaction with the animals. We began our visit with a tour of the majestic facility, taking in one unique exhibit at a time. We marveled at the trained sting rays at Sting Ray Cove, and then stopped by the Tide Pool Touch Tank where were able to view and touch variance of shallow water marine animals. Under the guidance of the marine biologist, we held a starfish and a sea cucumber, touched a horse shoe crab and a queen conch. I was just as thrilled as my children (if not more). I am usually extremely squeamish and even apprehensive when it comes to interacting with any animal that isn't our dog, Noiree. Our children's favorite part of the entire adventure was the Big Shark Bay Encounter. What an incredible experience! Under the careful guidance of the marine biologist, we were each able to feed and touch Notch, a "target trained" nurse shark. We were all pleasantly surprised to learn that sharks are more gentle than most would expect, and they feed by using a vacuum suction. After we each fed Notch, we were able to touch him.

FashionCrazedFoodie
Cullen bravely interacts with Notch, the Shark at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters


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FashionCrazedFoodie
Dad and Noa lean in for an up close view of Notch, the shark at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital

FashionCrazedFoodie
An outside view of The Turtle Hospital



The next stop on our itinerary: The Turtle Hospital. A nonprofit organization, dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered turtles, The Turtle Hospital has treated and released over 1500 sea turtles since 1986. The Turtle Hospital operates with four main goals:


  • Rehab injured sea turtles
  • Educate the public through outreach programs and visit local schools
  • Conduct and assist with research aiding sea turtles
  • Work towards environmental legislation, making beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles


During our 90-minute guided educational tour of the facility, we viewed the operation rooms, 23 individual tanks and the massive, 100,000 gallon salt water pool. Our guide, Marium gave us in depth insight on  several different ailments that effect sea turtles and the rehabilitation process. Some of the most common injuries treated at the hospital are flipper amputations, intestinal impactions (caused by the ingestion of balloons and plastic bags), shell damage (caused by boats),  and the most common, viral tumors (Fibropapilloma).  My son, Cullen aspires to be a veterinarian, so he was especially grateful to learn about the process of caring for injured sea turtles. We were able to feed the turtles, and observe them in their rehabilitation tanks.
              
Fashion Crazed Foodie
Bonnie 

Fashion Crazed Foodie
Our guide, Marium teaches us about the various ailments and injuries the sea turtles suffer

Fashion Crazed Foodie
Turtles swim in the rehab tank


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Fashion Crazed Foodie
The OR at The Turtle Hospital is filled with donated equipment 


Dinner at Big Pinks in Miami


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Lobby view: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa 

Fashion Crazed Foodie
The Playa Largo Resort and Spa lobby


Playa Largo Resort Marriott
On island time...

Family Fun at Marathon, Florida's Keys Fisheries, the best food in The Keys!




I would like to extend a very special thanks to Laura Myers, of Newman PR and the Florida Keys Travel Council, as well as The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters and The Turtle Hospital for our Florida Keys itinerary.







A first look at this year's Essence Festival with FashionCrazedFoodie


Essence.jpg

I'll start by stating the obvious: I LOVE New Orleans! I visit the Crescent City at least 8-10 times a year; each visit, more fun and eventful than the last. Calvin and I spent our honeymoon in New Orleans thirteen years ago, and over the years, we’ve created numerous indelible memories there.The distinctive food, (obvi) countless festivals, and our family and friends there, in the birthplace of Jazz, summate our adoration for the city.


Daytime at the Convention Center
Enjoying Daytime Festivities during Essence Festival at New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Each year, the city of New Orleans, in partnership with
Essence Magazine, hosts the Essence Festival- an acclaimed annual 4 day fete, celebrating contemporary
African-American culture, as it relates to entertainment and empowerment. I cannot fathom missing #EssenceFest, as each year is somehow more sensational than the last. Calvin and I always have an amazing time-dancing to the live music of our favorite artists at the Superdome, meeting numerous awe-inspiring celebs, and bouncing in and out of parties and clubs from Treme to the French Quarter, and beyond.

Most importantly, I leave the Essence Festival inspired by the artistry witnessed, rejuvenated by my experiences, and making plans for the next year. The most memorable? A chance meeting with Soledad O’Brian, (I spotted her in a hotel lobby and bravely approached her), while attending the 2014 Essence Festival in which the renowned journalist was gracious enough to bless me with invaluable career advice regarding blogging/journalism.  Mrs.O’Brian’s words of advice and encouragement inspired me to apply for and acquire media credentials for Essence Festival 2015. Since that fateful meeting, I’ve been honored to attend the festival as press, covering the yearly event for my blog.


FashionCrazedFoodie EMF 2014
Left: That fateful meeting with Soledad O'Brian at Essence Fest 2014 Right: Attending Essence Fest as press in 2015


FashionCrazedFoodie
The cast of OWN's Greenleaf visits the press room for a question/answer session

Now that I’ve divulged the details of my obsession with New Orleans, and my love for #EssenceFest, I ask that you stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts. Over the next few days or so, I’ll feature exclusive footage from the Essence Festival Press Rooms, concert footage, mouth-watering food pics, (including pics from a Brunch link up with my Houston Food Blogger Collective friends) and my first ever lookbook featuring  #wiw each day.



Street Smart
A sneak peak at my first-ever #lookbook







I recently hosted an event at Inner Me Fitness and I had the time of my life! Inner Me is not your average gym. It’s a specialized fitness studio that offers a variance of classes, ranging from Aerial Pole, Stiletto Fit, Chair Dancing, Zumba, Belly Dancing and so much more. Ranked by The Houston Chronicle as one of Houston’s top 3 gyms, Inner Me Fitness is widely known as a place to have fun and get fit. I’ve attended several birthday parties and bachelorette  parties at Inner Me, as they offer several party packages that include pole dance and chair dancing (perfect for a girl’s night out!) The instructors are always super helpful and kind, and the classes are always fun and high-energy.

My friend, Sunita was the event co-host, and she’s also a featured Zumba instructor at Inner Me. Let me tell ya’ll-she’s amazing and totally #BodyGoals! With her upbeat, sweat-inducing Zumba routines, Sunita was literally, the life of the party. Sunita has a passion for Zumba, and overall fitness, and she transferred that energy to everyone for the entirety of the class. 

Some of the event attendees and myself, pictured with our Zumba instructor, Sunita (Photo courtesy, Sunita Swinton)

 

We were also treated to an enchanting Belly Dance class, by instructor, Aisha. Aisha kept us entertained with her gut-busting moves, wiggling, effortlessly about the floor. She gave us all skirts, adorned with coins and jewels, and taught us a tantalizing routine.

Aisha Ussery & our Belly Dance instructor, Aisha (Photo courtesy, Aisha Ussery)

I am grateful for everyone who attended, and we all had a great time! Who knew laughter, sweat and music went so well together?! We had super swag bags, complete with Inner Me Athletic t-shirts, cups, wine glasses, and more awesome gifts.

FashionCrazedFoodie
The contents of the super swag bags from Inner Me Studios

 

 

My sincerest thanks to Nicole, the owner of Inner Me Fitness for opening her doors to us, and allowing me to host an event at her space. Follow Inner Me Fitness on Instagram and Facebook. Please watch the video above to learn more about the Inner Me Fitness Kickstarter.  In the video, Nicole also speaks about her journey to entrepreneurship, as it relates to being laid off from her job in Philadelphia, and coming home to Houston to open Inner Me Fitness studios. Nicole has an incredible success story! Goals!

 

Thank you to all of my friends and blogger friends that attended! I appreciate the love and I am excited about hosting more events in the near future.

#FunFitness at #InnerMeStudios


FashionCrazedFoodie
My friend, and renowned choreographer, Aisha Ussery. Aisha gifted everyone with her "Enjoy Life Now bracelets"! Join her "Enjoy Life Now" Facebook Group


It's Bakardi!


My friend & blogger buddy, L'Tanya attended and won a gift card for $125 for car detailing from Uptown Car Wash! (Photo courtesy, L'Tanya Nicole, check out her blog, My Sista's Keeper!

 

Aisha & Sunita (Photo courtesy of Aisha Ussery)


Sunita and one of the winners of a FREE Makeover!

 

FashionCrazedFoodie


FashionCrazedFoodie
Syretta and Sunita! (Photo courtesy, Sunita Swinton)

Blogger Party
Fitness, food, fun! 

Calling All Bloggers!

I'm inviting all of my blogger friends to an exclusive FREE event presented by Inner Me Fitness Studios! I'm partnering with Inner Me Fitness, (voted by The Houston Chronicle as one of Houston's Top 3 Gyms) to bring you an afternoon of Zumba, Belly Dancing, and more. This event is free to all bloggers! Grab your blogger friends, your festive Zumba gear and join me at Inner Me.




Sunita is #BodyGoals! Sunita has amazing energy, which easily transfers to everyone around her. Her zeal for Zumba is undeniable, which is why her classes are always upbeat and fun-filled!



He's Houston's hottest DJ! You've heard him on 97.9 the Box, and you've seen him everywhere!We're excited to have DJ-Hi C on board curating a playlist just for us!




Inner Me is NOT your average gym! Inner Me is widely known for their for their entertaining classes; offering a fun mix that ranges from Stiletto Fit, Belly Dancing, Pole Dancing, Sexy Pole, Nightclub Cardio, Piyolet  (& much more). Inner Me Fitness Studio is home to our exclusive FREE Blogger Party.


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