Choosing a Reward Credit Card for Long Haul Travel

Traveler’s with the goal of long distance travel, lets say… from the U.S. to Australia, typically plan well in advance for this type of travel to ensure getting the best deal. These long-haul flights come with a pretty high-price tag.

Others have been successful in navigating travel from the U.S. to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji et al.) for the low-low and even done so in premium class air cabins. So what is the best way to embark on such an expensive journey without breaking the bank?

A great way to maximize your dollars and decrease the amount of actual cash you’ll have to front for your adventure to Australia, is by capitalizing on credit card incentive and traveler loyalty programs. There are numerous credit cards offering mileage and point redemption for airfare and lodging, but not all cards are created equal.  Credit card rewards can come in the form of airline miles, cash back, or general points, or perhaps a combination of all three.
…Not all cards are created equal

I’ve compiled a few links (see below) to help you make the right decision for your lifestyle and pockets/pocketbooks.

Airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty programs can be used to save you money and they often can be used in conjunction with each other to get the most bang for your buck. On average, a roundtrip flight from the U.S. to Australia will cost about 100,000 points/miles and it varies depending on cabin class.  Although obtaining that many points can seem intimidating, it is possible with diligence and discipline.
credit-cards-pictures

Let’s break it down.

First and foremost, establish an end goal. For this to be a realistic goal, you need to start this plan in motion as soon as possible, and also give yourself enough time to build and earn enough in loyalty points and rewards to capitalize upon fully funding at least the travel portion of your trip.
decisions
You will want to do some research and determine which credit card is best for you.  Be sure to consider your home airport and the airlines that fly from there as well as the airlines that offer flights to your destination. Also consider how much you currently travel and your every day spending habits.  Taking these decisions into account will help you choose the right card for you. Here are just a few popular reward cards you can choose from.
*According to the website, you’ll earn 5x the points on airfare travel (purchases).

You can find a more comprehensive list of reward/loyalty cards here or do more research for the right card for you here, here, and here.

Once you have chosen the right card for you, start using it! And I mean for any and everything.  I wouldn’t recommend purchasing items you don’t actually need or hadn’t planned to purchase initially, because this can start an unhealthy habit. Credit cards make their money on the annual fee as well as the interest when you don’t pay your bill in full monthly.  So you will need to be able to pay the balance each month, not just the minimum amount due, the entire balance. But if you need a new set of tires, put them on the card as well as every day purchases like coffee, groceries, gas, etc.  The end goal here is to use the cash you would normally use for these everyday purchases to pay your credit card bill and use the credit card to make these purchases directly. You can build up your available mileage/points balance much faster by being consistent in using it.

Personally I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) credit card. So my experience with that card will be highlighted here. The sign up bonus of 40,000 -50,000 points is great to jumpstart your points balance and will get you on your way to your destination. But keep in mind that putting $4000, which is required in the first three months, on the card can be dangerous if you are not careful and prepared to pay that balance.

For the CSP I earn one point on each purchase and one additional point for travel which includes flight and hotels.  Dining purchases also earn 1 additional point.  Just note that if you drive a lot or have a gas guzzling SUV, you won’t get any extra points for fill-ups, as gas is not considered travel and you won’t earn any extra points.  Also beware of the $95 annual fee which is typically waived during the first year, but can be viewed as a small price to pay when you consider the price of your free flight.

Getting the most bang for your buck

Start by using the card for all purchases you would typically either use cash or debit for. Then at the end of the week use the money either cash or your checking account to pay directly to the credit card. This way you avoid overspending as well as having any purchases accumulate interest.

Another way to build your points balance is by shopping online through your credit card shopping portal. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal offers a wild array of shopping options.  You can continue shopping your favorite brands and stores through the portal.  Not only will you earn additional points by shopping through the portal, but sometimes you’ll get discount just by purchasing through the portal.  Lowes, Amazon, Groupon, J. Crew are just a few of the online retailers that can be found on the portal.

Some Perks

Additional perks to this card include, no foreign transaction fees, and Chase offers 1:1 ratio transfers to several other airlines and companies.  Part of the reason I was able to travel to Puerto Rico and stay in one of their top 5-star hotels without paying a dime is because I was able to transfer some of my Chase Reward points to my United airlines Mileage Plus loyalty program to cover the flight/ hotel/ ground transportation. And there was no additional charge for doing this since Chase and United have a partnership.  This may also come in handy for any subsequent flights on partner airlines.

You will have to do a little bit of research to determine which reward card is best for you and your lifestyle. So before you buy your next set of tires or large purchase consider getting your rewards credit card first, so those large purchases can count towards your next big trip and towards the minimum required purchase amount to receive the sign-up bonus.
Additional links:
  • http://airlines.wanderbat.com/
  • https://www.jetsetter.com/magazine/528/idiots-guide-to-frequent-flier-miles
  • http://maphappy.org/2015/05/how-to-earn-miles-without-flying/
  • http://lifehacker.com/a-beginners-guide-to-airline-miles-1592887319
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Living a Lie: A Deal Worth $3000, Jay Wilds and Neighbor Boy

If you haven’t heard season 1 of the Serial podcast,  the follow-up podcast Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed, or my previous post this post will not make much sense.

For the last several months now I’ve been mildly obsessed with the case surrounding the disappearance and murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore City/County in 1999.  I pray that her family and Adnan’s gets real justice.

After I finished the Undisclosed podcast I discovered the Truth & Justice with Bob Ruff podcast. Somewhere around the middle of the season Bob rebranded the podcast from its original name of Serial Dynasty.

Episode 18 of the “Truth & Justice” Podcast was shocking! Halfway thru Bob drops a bombshell… that he had been communicating with Jay Wilds for weeks.  My mouth dropped open and my heart skipped a beat!

Bob appealed to Jay by professing his belief that Jay was innocent in the murder case of Hae Min Lee.  Bob disclosed that he was sure that Jay had essentially been puppeteered by the police and coerced into confessing any involvement in the case.  Although Jay did not confirm Bob’s suspicions, surprisingly, he did not deny them either.

Ultimately, this just confirmed one of my theories in this case.  That Jay really was not involved in the disappearance and ultimately the murder of Hae.

Bob mentioned that he actually felt bad for Jay.  And I can understand Bob’s feelings.  I think that once Jay got involved he quickly got in over his head and before he could realize what was happening he had potentially just screwed himself.  And all for what may have seemed like a deal he couldn’t pass up, when it was all said and done, he really had just offered his friend or close associate up for something Jay had no actual knowledge of.

Let’s examine this…in my opinion, the cops probably had a small drug charge on Jay that they were using against him.  Claiming to file charges and arrest him on possession charges if he didn’t give them information on who they suspected was involved which was Adnan.

The cops, like Bob hypothesized, likely told Jay that they knew Adnan was guilty of murdering Hae, and that Jay needed to cooperate and provide additional details.  I’m convinced that Jay didn’t believe them at first, but they were probably very persuasive.  Convinced at some point that the cops did actually have some real evidence of Adnan’s involvement in Hae’s murder, Jay likely began painting a picture of the last few weeks he had spent with Adnan.

The first thing that probably came out was that his girlfriend Stephanie’s birthday was January 13th.  It was a significant date not just because it was the day that Hae went missing but because it was also Stephanie’s birthday.  So that had to be part of the narrative, because clearly if Adnan was really close friends with Stephanie, Jay’s girlfriend, and had gotten her a birthday gift, and advised Jay to do the same.  So I suspect the narrative that was heard at trial was built around the mall trip etc. and Stephanie’s birthday.  But at this point Jay is already singing. Painting a picture of Adnan that the cops wanted and needed in order to frame the state’s case.

At some point during the many chats with the police and interrogations, Jay had to realize that his lies and claims had gotten him far deeper than he had ever imagined his Crimestoppers “anonymous tip” would get him.  He just wanted to collect $2500 well $3000 when it was all said and done.

The thing is most people probably know that the tip you provide to Crimestoppers is only paid out if it results in the solving or conviction of the case. So unless you have some guilty knowledge or real awareness of the facts surrounding a case, it’s not a very lucrative decision.

Knowing what he knows now, I’m almost certain Jay would have made much different choices when it comes to his claims and involvement in this case altogether. I can probably bet that if he had the chance to do it all over again:

  • he would have kept his mouth shut and taken his chances with the ‘probably’ minor drug charge he was facing, rather than be intimidated by the Baltimore Police
  • send an associate to jail,
  • involve his best friend Jen in a crazy mess
  • and essentially be at the mercy of the prosecutor and charging officers for years and years to come.

Looking back now that Jay has moved away and has a wife and family of his own he wants to protect, who wouldn’t choose a few days or weeks in jail over a lifetime of harassment and accusatory claims against themselves.

Photo of now 35-year old Adnan Syed at his PCR hearing in Baltimore, February 2016.

It’s really a shame that Jay was so selfish in this, because it was certainly not worth sending an innocent man to jail.  Who knows whether he knew it from the beginning, sometime after Adnan’s arrest, or if it wasn’t until he was at the trial that he became aware his actions had sent a close associate to jail for a crime he had not committed.

Can you imagine being Adnan…being arrested for the murder of your ex-girlfriend whom you loved and not knowing why you were being targeted as her murderer? And then learning that someone you thought was your friend had actually gone to the cops and accused you of the heinous act, and having absolutely no idea why this guy would make up this lie. And more so, how this huge misunderstanding wasn’t cleared up, then you end up being tried and convicted.  I’d be dumbfounded and blaming myself for even being in the same social circle as someone who could do something like that.

Neighbor Boy

The neighbor boy portion was also very interesting…I actually believe that what we’ve heard on Serial and Undisclosed about the personality and character traits of Neighbor boy is probably a combination of both Neighbor Boy and Jay Wilds.

My assessment was that Jay possessed more of the “blabbermouth” quality that was pinned on Neighbor boy than Neighbor Boy (NB) actually did.  NB seemed like a guy that sorta wanted to be liked by people so he would just share interesting info and stories he had heard or experienced. But not in a ‘I’ve got a secret’ type of way, more of a social conversation… ‘Did you hear about …’ kind of way.

According to NB, Jay told him that Adnan had murdered Hae and showed him (Jay) Hae’s body in the trunk of a car.  NB also stated to Bob Ruff that according to Jay, because Adnan was Jay’s weed supplier that Jay had expected to see a large amount of weed in the trunk when Adnan supposedly went to ‘pop the trunk’ but was surprised to see a dead body instead.  Which to me is hardly believable that Adnan was Jay’s supplier.

The cast of characters in this story is just unbelievable. If Hollywood doesn’t take this real life drama and turn it into a movie, they’re losing out on a huge pay day! I don’t want to make light of a serious situation but I could come up with a great cast….maybe my next post?

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Ibiza Part II (End of the EuroTour)

While getting our tan on, we ran into Ed, a representative from Cirque de la Nuit, who explained the party packages they were offering.  After what seemed like forever we decided on a package that included the following tickets:

  • Thursday: Sankeys Club and another club I can’t quite remember the name of.
  • Friday: Ibiza Rocks
  • Saturday: 12:30 Boat Party with all you can drink followed by a pool party from 4-12

11855784_10153585527239190_7694926899291509965_n (1)One spot we went to played mostly techno and EDM, we did NOT have a great time there.

 

 

 

 

Another club we went to had the movie Alien vs. Predator showing in what can only be described as a movie theater room.

I think we spent the majority of the night watching that movie, or in my case, watching the insides of my eyelids, as I had absolutely no interest in the movie and was exhausted anyway.  They woke me when it was over and we went home.

Friday night was when we agreed to do our “white night” dinner.  We had walked by Le Bar one night on our way home from the club and thought it’d be a great spot for dinner. Unfortunately we hadn’t made reservations in advance but when we arrived looking as amazing as we did, they couldn’t turn us down and found us a nice table.



The service and our server was amazing and so was the food.  It was a great evening.

The boat party was the best! We all had a great time (well minus my one friend who refused to take her motion sickness pills knowing we’d be on a boat). But one monkey didn’t stop our show.  The drinks on board were made in batches and they had about 4 or 5 varieties in addition to beer.  The drinks were all really good and I lost count early on of how many I had consumed. 11889448_10153585527029190_3067368239767974309_n 11026321_10153585526779190_6324890737352355901_n (1)

The DJ was awesome he played a mixture of hip hop and dance and enough to satisfy the music taste of all onboard. and so were the other partiers on the boat.  The only downside was that we were under the impression that the boat would dock at a small nearby island and not just in the middle of the sea.  Many of the folks on the boat jumped off the boat into the sea for about 30 minutes or so before it was time to head back. I very slowly took the ladder down and mostly held onto the side of the boat.  Because the way my swimming skills are set up…

After the boat party we went back to our AirBnB to shower and get dressed. We went to Swag (the only club on the island that plays Hip-Hop every night).  We were originally told that Swag tickets were included in the package but apparently they weren’t.  Luckily Greta from Cirque de La Nuit got us free tickets. And we had the BEST time at Swag. I really wished we had gone before our last night since they played the music we liked best.

Swag was awesome, the DJ was from NY and he played a great set and mix of hits (he played a lot of Philly artists which was even more amazing since we’re all from Philly) that made us not want to leave (Sat Aug 15). But we had to be at the airport by 6:30 the next morning and the combination of drinking all day and partying all night was a bit much for me at 30.

Packing to leave for the airport took me forever. I was tired, still intoxicated, sleepy and by the time we got home from Swag there wasn’t much time to do anything but pack. The flight back was a bit rough for me. And it never fails, I always have the most fun on the last night of all my trips. Lesson learned: pre-pack as much as possible if planning to go out the night before you leave. I was sad to leave Ibiza but all things come to an end.

My TripAdvisor Reviews for this trip:

Cirque De La Nuit

Le BAR

Sante Carne

Revolution Bar

Worlington Hall

 

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Serially Obsessed!

IMG_9276The story of a missing high school honor student who was later found dead and her recent ex-boyfriend who was charged with her murder in Maryland back in 1999 has been my latest obsession for the last few weeks. If by now, you have not heard about the SERIAL podcast that began in October of 2014, then you must be living in a cave.

I first learned about this podcast about a year ago when the Today Show did a segment on it as the last episode was preparing to be released for season 1.  I have never really got into the whole “podcast” thing so I didn’t pay it too much attention then. But for whatever reason I recently heard the first episode of Serial’s season 1 and was immediately hooked. It is great for traveling so I binged through it quickly.

For quick background information on the case, SSerialerial provides a “partially unbiased” look into what happened on the afternoon of January 13th 1999, and the events that followed.  Essentially, a Korean-American female high school senior, Hae Min Lee, went missing on January 13 in 1999.  Her body was found a few weeks later in the city of Baltimore and her recent Pakistani-American ex-boyfriend and classmate, Adnan Syed, was charged with her murder.

The thing that makes this case so interesting is the cast of characters involved in the resulting trial, but more than anything it is the lack of real evidence against Adnan that somehow got him convicted and the fact that he very much seems like the most unluckiest person alive.

After I finished listening to SERIAL, I had my own theory, which I’ll share in a later post, on the case but was still a bit hesitant to make a firm assertion as to who I thought was guilty/involved etc.  So as many others have stated, Serial left me with more questions than I was comfortable with.

Luckily I immediately began listening to what I’ll call the sister podcast series entitled “Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed” which unlike SERIAL was very biased towards the innocence of Adnan.  But after episode 10 of Undisclosed, which I had to listen to at least 4 times to understand what they were trying to explain, I was convinced that Adnan was the lead character in a series of very unfortunate events, and that he was wrongfully convicted.

For me this case is even more interesting because 10 years ago I lived in Baltimore county not too far from Woodlawn high school, the school the victim and her boyfriend attended, and I’m familiar with several of the locations mentioned in the case.

But for me this is/was a case of more than just guilt or innocence. It is a case of justice and our very flawed legal system and our even more flawed prison and reform system. Whether you believe Adnan is guilty or not, one thing that is certain is that his court case was a complete circus and undoubtedly should not have led to his conviction.

Because of my past career plans to complete law school and pursue a career in the legal system, this case and all of the hoopla surrounding it have made me strongly reconsider my decision against going to law school.  I’m excited about a few things I have in the works that will allow me to explore an old and now refreshed passion of mine. And I’m also excited to see what will happen with this ongoing case, as recently a Baltimore City judge granted Adnan’s request for a post conviction hearing relief to reopen his case.

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Our Disastrous Flight to Paris (EuroTour 2015)

Getting to Paris was a huge ordeal. Flying on EasyJet meant leaving out of Gatwick. Which was estimated to take roughly an hour from our London hotel.

We had an early morning flight so we reserved an Uber, but apparently the Uber arrived and couldn’t find our hotel so he canceled the ride. The hotel front desk clerk tried to help us find a taxi that could fit all four of us and our luggage at 6 AM which was not an easy task. After working out the logistics for our huge bags and ourselves in the taxi, we were on our way.

taxitrunk

Eventually we had success but along the way I had to stop at the ATM to get enough pounds to pay the cab driver which also cut into our time. We finally arrived at Gatwick to the longest line I’ve ever seen.  We broke our group of four into two in order to speed up the check in process.

I had tried several times several days before our flight to check in online and pay for our checked bags to no avail. The baggage option was not available to pay in advance, perhaps after completing the online check-in.  Once we finally arrived at the counter we had to pay a lot more. This slowed down the process, but eventually myself and my one friend finished checking in and she and I proceeded to go through security.

Of course this is the one time I get stopped and have to empty out my bag and combine/condense all my liquids into 1 quart size bag. I had to throw out my hand sanitizer, shaving cream and a few other things that I only didn’t check to ensure my bag wasn’t overweight.  Each airport and each airline’s security terminals abide by different rules…sometimes they’re really strict & sometimes they’re really lenient, so you just never know what you’re going to get.

My friend also had security go through her belongings. By the time we finished and looked up at the board our flight’s gate was listed as CLOSED. We decided to check at the gate to see if they would let us on.  We ran for dear life it must’ve been 2 miles from the security checkpoint to our gate.

We went up and down escalators and long hallways…I had shin splints, and I was out of breath by the time we made it to the gate which seem like it took at least 20 minutes. And we were nervous because we did not see either of our other two friends pass through the security line.

Once we arrived at the gate, the lady asked my name and told me that we were the only two people left.  Reluctantly they opened the gate and let us board the plane.

Still worried because the two friends had not made it through security by the time that we had. But to our surprise they were in their seats on the plane when we boarded. #wonthedoit

Apparently they had gone through another security gate and also had to run for the plane. I said a long prayer of gratitude that we all made the plane in one piece because it was one heck of a trip just getting there.

Lesson Learned:  If you are flying out of Gatwick get there really early, it is almost as bad as Heathrow.

Read about the awesome time we had once we arrived in Paris next.

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England 2015 (EuroTour Leg 1)

The three of us arrived in London, Heathrow on a Wednesday morning and awaited our fourth party’s arrival flight.  Luckily after an hour we realized her flight was delayed several hours.  We went to our day room not too far from the airport and waited for her to arrive.

My Godbrother picked us up from the hotel and we went back to his house about 2-hours away not too far from Cambridge, UK.  Although the original plan was for us to stay with him, we ultimately got two rooms at nearby hotel (Worlington Hall Country House Hotel).

 
The room I stayed in was a suite, a 2-level apartment almost, looked as though it hadn’t been rented out in months, had a slight smell of mildew/mold and it was outside of the rest of the hotel.  It was sooo cold we slept in our clothes but because we were unsure of the cleanliness we slept on top of the sheets.  Man I almost froze that night. I woke up congested and irritated.

He came to get us after we ate the traditional English Breakfast at the hotel and we went back to his house to shower and get dressed. There was no way I could shower in a room that cold.


After 4 women got dressed we were off to Cambridge to sight see. We visited a museum had lunch at Revolution Bar and took a ton of selfies and usies. Here are some pictures of our afternoon.

The next day my bro grilled the best chicken wings and later we roasted marshmallows and s’mores on the fire pit at his house. We booked a different hotel for that night.  After chatting with the manager we thought that it was 2 double beds and because the price was so high we agreed to make it work (2 in each bed). But when we later got to the room, we realized it was actually two twin beds pushed together.  They had given us the keys earlier in the day but told us the room would not be ready until much later.   Four women in what is essentially a queen size bed was NOT fun!  I didn’t sleep much at all.On the third day we went to London and got another hotel.  We dropped off our bags at the hotel before heading out to sight see.  We saw Big Ben, London Bridge, and Buckingham Palace.  We followed that with dinner at an Irish Pub where most of us got the Fish and Chips, which was much better than the first time I had tried it years ago in another England Pub.


  

We had planned to go out to the club scene that night but were pretty tired by the end of the day so we just headed back to our hotel for the evening.

The next day we would be leaving for Paris but that didn’t go quite as planned…

 

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Day 4 of the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead Reboot

 

Day 4 was… Bananas!!

I started my day with a whole banana. Not necessarily on the meal plan, but I didn’t think it could hurt.

bananas

For a bit of a change, I found a few new recipes on this website and tried those today.  I altered some of the recipes based on the ingredients I had and my taste buds.

 

 

 

My first juice of the day was my take on the Pineapple Cloud:

  • 1/2 a pineapple
  • 1 head of romaine
  • 1 zucchini

I liked this juice, it was a slight twist from the Mean Green Juice.

My second juice of the day was the Funky Monkey:

  • 2 pears
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 inch of ginger

This juice wasn’t too bad, but I definitely could taste the cabbage and that ‘dirt’ taste, but it wasn’t overwhelming so I was able to finish it.

The last juice I made was my take on the Sweet Spice Cider:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/4 a head of red cabbage
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 inch of ginger

 

I don’t know if it made a difference that I didn’t start drinking this juice until after 3pm, but it was not as tasty as it had been when I sipped it in the morning as I bottled it.  It tasted like baby food.  The sweet potato taste was so thick.  I drank maybe a 3rd of this, before gagging and throwing it out.

We had a going away lunch for a few co-workers today at Mission BBQ and I had to attend since one of the guys, works for me.  But I was strong, and just drank my Funky Monkey and suffered in silence while pulled pork and bbq trays floated around me.

Since I didn’t finish the last juice I was a little hungry by the time I got home from work.  I ate two bananas.  Shortly after eating the second banana, I could literally feel the banana digesting.  And about an hour later decided to make the Green Detox Soup. I followed the recipe below minus the broccoli.

Green Detox Soup
Ingredients:
2 garlic cloves
1 leek
small head of broccoli
6 kale leaves (Tuscan cabbage)
1 zucchini
2 celery sticks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups (1 liter/32 oz) vegetable stock
handful of parsley, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
1. Chop the garlic and all the veggies.
2. Warm the oil on low heat, then add the leek and garlic and cook slowly for 3–5 minutes.
3. Add the stock and the remaining vegetables and bring slowly to a boil. Cook for just
a few minutes, until the zucchini is soft. The less you cook the vegetables, the better.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, then blend or process the soup to the desired
consistency, from smooth to chunky.
5. Serve the soup in bowls and sprinkle with parsley.
Note: You can make your own veggie stock using leftover pulp from your juicer.
Visit the soup recipe section of our website (rebootwithjoe.com) to find instructions.

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Day 1 of the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead Reboot

Day 1 (January 5) of the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead program was not too bad, except that I had a really bad headache by the time I got home from work.

I weighed myself and after I woke up and then had a half cup of the ginger/lemon hot water.

I made my juices for the work day.

Upon my arrival at work I had my first juice, the Mean Green Juice (MGJ):

Joe’s Mean Green (Green Juice)
Makes 2 servings
Nutrition per serving: 251 kCal; 1049 kJ; 6 g protein; 54 g carbohydrates;
1 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 2 g fiber; 30 g sugar; 128 mg salt
Ingredients:
16 kale leaves (Tuscan cabbage)
2 cucumbers
8 celery sticks
4 apples
1 lemon
2 in (5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger

Throughout the day I sipped my water probably only consuming 40 ounces for the day.

I had my next morning snack of my take on the Berry-Apple-Cinnamon Bake, which was basically just blueberries and raisins.  I saved the uncooked apples for my afternoon snack.

In the afternoon I had my second MGJ and later ate the whole sliced apple.

By the time I got home I was so hungry.  I couldn’t even wait to make another juice for dinner. Instead I had a salad pictured below, made with Kale, Spinach, broccoli, grape tomatoes, avocado, and some cilantro. My dressing was the juice from half a lemon and a little virgin coconut oil.

image

I followed the salad with a few ounces of the “orange juice”:

Carrot-Apple-Lemon (Orange Juice)
Makes 2 servings
Nutrition per serving: 188 kCal; 786 kJ; 2 g protein; 44 g carbohydrates;
1 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 3 g fiber; 29 g sugar; 58 mg salt
Ingredients:
4 apples
4 carrots
2 lemons

I only used a half of a lemon.  And I only made a few ounces to taste it and confirm that I liked the recipe so that I use that recipe in the next mornings’ juice.

My headache didn’t seem to go away and in addition that evening I felt super nauseated.  So I went to bed a little earlier than normal.

Are you juicing, or doing a raw food regimen?  I’d like to hear your thoughts, and recommendations below.

 

See Related Articles:

  • Fitcrazed: https://fitcrazed.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/juicing-shopping/
  • The Banded Vegan: https://bandedvegan.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/5-days-of-juicing/
  • Diary of Little Foodie: https://littlefoodiediaries.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/mean-green-juice-and-the-pre-wedding-tone-up/
  • Two Girls Blog:http://twogirlsblog.com/2015/01/12/my-juice-fast-a-full-report/
  • The Tilly Vanilly:http://thetillyvanilly.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/juice-as-i-expected/
  • The Tartan Doe: http://thetartandoe.com/2015/01/05/3-day-cleanse/
  • Coltons Juice Journey: https://coltonsjuicejourney.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/day-one/

 

 

 

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Use Your Words

useyourwords Friend, foe, man, homie, ex, lover, and pronouns are all words that can just as easily be used to describe the person in question. There are a myriad of words that can be used to address or describe a person.  So why promulgate a word with such a negative history.  No matter how you try and skin the cat, it’s still a cat.

You often hear parents scold their youth when they whine or fail to accurately articulate their wants or needs, using the phrase “Use your words”.  That is what words are for, to help us communicate the thoughts in our minds. So we use our words to translate those thoughts into intelligible phrases that can be understood by others.

This post has been in my mind for years. If you know me personally, then you know how I loathe the “N” word.  Let’s be clear. I’m referring to the word “Nigga” or “Nigger” or any variant of the word.  I don’t even use the word when reciting lyrics that are littered with the word.

Nword

How can we continually expect others to refrain from using a word that is so heavily embedded in our own vocabularies.  I hear the “N” word far to regularly, from friends and family.  Incessantly I’ll ask the individual or individuals to refrain from using it.   It bothers me.

I’ve been ‘affectionately’ called the “N” word. But let’s be clear about something else. I am not now, nor have I ever been a nigga or anybody’s nigga.  So I will not allow you to call me or refer to me as such.

I have a friend who must have the “N” word as his most frequently used word. And I’ve questioned him on why he chooses to use that word so often.   Although I know he does not have any children, I’ve asked, “Would you call your daughter or mother a Nigga?”  His response was, “Yea, I call my nieces that”.  All I could do at that point was shake my head, as we have had several conversations about the “N-word” in length.

If you can’t comfortably use a word in the presence of your parents, your youthful children, the president of the United States, your boss, a mixed crowd, or any group of people for that matter, perhaps you shouldn’t use it.  It just shouldn’t be in your vocabulary, and especially not in heavy rotation.

Some argue that the word should just be removed altogether, and I agree with that to some degree. But you can’t completely remove a word from any language.  Just as you can’t remove the history of those who fought so hard for our freedoms and equality that were challenged each time that nefarious word was used. Especially not this word, with such a complex history. But just as you will seldom hear a gay man call another gay man a “faggot”, it’s just as absurd to me for a black person to call another black person a “nigga”.

It’s disrespectful!  By eliminating or reducing its use we begin moving towards the right direction, and hopefully those of African descent will be closer to being regarded equally in our global society.  We disrespect and harm our own kind at a disproportionate rate compared to any other group.  So how can we expect everyone else to respect us if we blatantly disrespect ourselves and our ancestors.

I promise you that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never utter the word Nigga to greet a friend, or refer to anyone. And if he was alive today he would be disheartened by the prevalence of the word.

The word Nigger was used very negatively in the past to defame, devalue, and define a group of people simple based on the color of their skin.  Just because one has a certain level of natural melanin in their skin, they were angrily called a Nigger.  In the same token, they were beat, raped, killed, falsely accused, unjustly targeted and in many cases this is still continuing today.

So many people have become desensitized by the words’ usage. You can hear it on a daily basis if you listen to the radio, watch television or movies or have casual interactions with people.  Which in my opinion is also part of the problem.  As a black woman, I know the history of the word Nigga or Nigger, it’s affected my parents and grandparents and their parents in a negative way. So I know the history associated with it and it is very negative.  I know it because in a sense I’ve lived it.

Especially when I hear stories from my grandparents about using a “whites only” water fountain or movie theater section.  I can sense the pain emoted from this era and its biased societal norms.

If I was Jewish I’m sure the sensitivities associated with Germany during the Holocaust, or concentration camps or genocide of my people would be a sore subject.  Particularly if a word once used derogatorily to describe my people was rebranded and used matter-of-factly to address or describe those same people but more importantly used by those same people.  This concept as it is applied to another group of people, in this case those who follow Judaism, is so foreign to me that it is hard to compare and associate it in a fashion similar to blacks and the “N” word.

But you’d be hard pressed to find another group of people who have adapted a negative word into their daily vocabulary to describe themselves.

I’ve posed this question to two black men “How would you feel if you heard a white man use the N word?” One told me he wouldn’t like it, and the other said he wouldn’t really care. I would personally rather that nobody used it regardless of their skin color. If a white or non-black person sings along with the word in a song, although it may have no malicious intent, subconsciously it gives them permission and condones the use of the word. They become comfortable with the word and sometimes have no concept of what the word means to a lot of black Americans. To quote Piers Morgan, “Teach the youth of today the N-word is so heinous that even to repeat it ironically is to perpetuate its poison.”

If we want society/Americans/non-blacks to appreciate us, to recognize us as successful, contributing members of society and not nuisances, or terrorists, or animals, we must stop using a word that embodies those exact sentiments.

In the end, the mainstream use of the N-word is something that may be debated for years to come. But my hope is that it is replaced with something non-controversial or as previously stated a pronoun or specific word that denotes the intended meaning.

If you have to debate over whether or not to use a word in hopes of not offending someone or some group of people, err on the side of caution and refrain from using it at all or USE YOUR WORDS to describe or explain the message you are trying to convey.

 

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How I Traveled to Puerto Rico without Spending a Dime

Don’t we all need a little blue water getaway every once in a while? I know I did. But I didn’t have much money for a trip and I didn’t want to go too far from home and take a lot of time off from work. After a suggestion from my co-worker, I immediately decided on Puerto Rico.

• it’s still in the U.S.;
• it’s in the same time zone; and
• it’s a quick flight (if you get it direct).

And what is even better is that once I decided on the location, I also decided that I wasn’t going to shell out ANY money and would only use 1 vacation day and travel over the Columbus Day holiday.

So how does one manage traveling to the Caribbean and staying in a decent hotel without spending any money? Using “rewards points and miles”, that is how!

Before I go too far into detail, let me just say that by “free trip”, in this case, I’m referring to the airfare and hotel portion of the travel.

I had over 100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points on my Chase Preferred account. So I used 61,542 reward points for my flight. Although there were cheaper flight option available, the flight I chose on JetBlue was a direct flight that left early in the morning, and gave me essentially the whole day in Puerto Rico.

I decided to take off from work on the Friday before Columbus Day (Monday). So because I got an early flight I would arrive in San Juan about noon on Friday and return on a later Monday evening.

For 5366 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I also secured roundtrip ground transportation to my hotel. I did some social research and decided on La Concha Hotel & Casino for my lodging, which happened to be a Renaissance property aka Marriott property. Lucky for me I had enough Marriott Rewards points to secure three of my four days. For the fourth day I had to transfer points from my United Mileage Plus to my Marriott Rewards Account. With my hotel and flight costs covered with various reward points programs, I only needed to worry about food and drinks during my stay.

Stay tuned for my Puerto Rico Vacation Recap and Reviews

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