Long before the worldwide pandemic hit us all like a ton of bricks, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful land of China back in October 2019.   I arrived in Haikou in the Hanan region after a 14 hour flight to Chongqing and a 12 hour delay to a connecting flight, I finally landed in Haikou. I can tell you it was worth every moment it took me to get there. Haikou is absolutely beautiful and so clean. I spent several days in Haikou before departing to Chongqing to spend a few days at a Spa & Wellness center up in the mountains. It was such a wonderful experience and I learned many things about traditional Chinese medicine and treatments. I wish I could say I’ve stuck to the things that were recommended, but honestly I haven’t. I decided that I will start to incorporate some of the things I learned into my everyday routines. I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit China and learn another perspective of the road we’re all on called LIFE!!!  Here are just a few photos of Haikou and Chongqing.  




Food – General Tso’s Sticky Wings


 Prep Time 10 minutes
 Cook Time 50 minutes
  • 24 chicken wings with skin, rinsed and patted dry (approx 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger sounds like a lot its amazing
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, onion pwdr, garlic pwdr
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Japanese sweet rice wine/mirin (may substitute dry sherry)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha/Asian hot chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Top baking sheet with baking rack/oven proof cooling rack and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix Rub ingredients together. Add half of the Rub to a large freezer bag. Add half of the wings and shake until coated evenly. Line wings on prepared baking rack so they are not touching. Add remaining Rub ingredients and wings to freezer bag and repeat.
  3. Bake on upper middle rack for 45-50 minutes or until golden. Move oven rack approximately 6-8″ from broiler and broil to desired crispiness, watching closely so wings don’t burn. Flip chicken wings over and broil the other side until crispy.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients (not Caramel Sauce). Set aside.
  5. To make the Caramel Sauce, add 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 cup sugar to large skillet and boil over medium heat for 1 minute – don’t overcook or it will harden! Add reserved sauce and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool down slightly. Add cooked chicken to a large bowl and add sauce. Toss until evenly coated with a spatula. There will be a little extra sauce which is amazing on rice. Enjoy!

recipe courtesy of Carlsbad Cravings

Food – Spicy Chicken Penne Pasta W/Peas & Creamy Tomato Sauce

Chicken breast:
  • 1 pound chicken breast , skinless and boneless, halved horizontally
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pasta:
  • 10 oz penne pasta
  • Peas:
  • 1 cup green peas frozen
  • Creamy tomato sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz tomato sauce (15 oz can – I used Hunt’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
How to cook chicken breast:
  1. Cut chicken breast horizontally in half, to make it thinner. Season both chicken breast halves generously with salt and also with 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon dry basil – on both sides.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high-medium heat in a large skillet. Add seasoned chicken breast halves and cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes on high-medium heat.

  3. Flip the chicken over to the other side and cook for another 3 minutes.

  4. Remove the skillet from the heat, cover with the lid and let the chicken sit in the skillet off heat – it will continue cooking. After about 10-15 minutes, the chicken should be fully cooked and no longer pink in the center – remove the chicken from the skillet and slice into cubes. Set aside.

How to cook penne:
  1. Cook penne pasta in salted water according to package instructions.

  2. Add peas to pasta during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water.

How to make creamy sauce:
  1. To the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 6 cloves of minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes – cook on medium heat for 1 minutes until garlic is fragrant.

  2. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dry basil, stir and bring to boil – immediately reduce to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.

  3. Add shredded mozzarella cheese to the sauce and stir to melt until cheese is completely melted and the sauce thickens – 30 seconds. With heat on simmer, add 1/2 cup heavy cream and stir to combine.

Assembling chicken penne pasta:
  1. Add cooked and rinsed penne pasta, peas, and cooked sliced chicken to the sauce. Mix to combine.

  2. If you cooked pasta in salted water, if you seasoned chicken generously with salt and used canned tomato sauce – there is really no need to add salt at this point as everything should be just perfect. Nevertheless, taste your final pasta and add salt if necessary.

    Recipe courtesy of


Dining Around Town – Phillippe Chow, NYC

Phillippe Chow is the newest spot to take up residence at the Dream Downtown Hotel, replacing Megu.  This has quickly become one of my favorite places.  The chicken satay with peanut sauce is awesome!!! The Lychee Martini is worth the trip alone.  If you’re ever in NYC and looking for an evening spot to have a cocktail and dine, think about Phillippe Chow.  It isn’t inexpensive but worth it!!!

Around the World – Reggio Emilia & Milan, Italy

As we started our adventure in Reggio Emilia, we were fortunate enough to be invited to opening night at the local theater for “Dirty Dancing” and you know how much I love the red carpet.  It was wonderful being invited before anyone else to get a look behind the scenes and take photo’s of this lovely theater.  We were so blessed to be able to do this.

One of the great things about the region is the fresh made  Reggiano cheeses.  I never go to the region without visiting a cheese maker and getting a taste of the product.  I support the local grow slow movement by always purchasing cheese while there.  Hard cheese can be vacuum wrapped and easily transported back to USA with you.  I am always amazed at how they place their hands in boiling hot water to make this cheese.  Of course the end product is worth it.  One tip I got was never buy cheese that’s less than a year old and 2 years is usually preferred.  

After touring the cheese plant, we take a tour of the family farm which houses it’s own restaurant,  hotel, swimming pool and animal sanctuary.  

We also explored an artisan colony that houses operations for several all female businesses.  One of the businesses is an embroidery and restoration specialist who handles many pieces for the catholic church and their articles from the 1800’s.  She showed us the slow and meticulous painstaking method to repair, restore and clean valuable memorabilia.    There is also a winemaker housed in the colony and she specializes in Red Sparkling Wine, which of course we tasted and yes I was gifted with a bottle of each of her reds to take home.  It’s really good wine.  During my stay in the region, I was a guest at the Hotel Posta.  The hotel is centrally located right in the town square, walking distance to everything and a great place to stay.

Taste cheese, wine and good food are all things I look forward to when visiting Italy.  One of the most favorite things I always do while there is indulge in a hot chocolate.   When arriving in Milan and when departing Milan I had to sit and have it.  It is a luxury for sure that you just can’t indulge in everyday, but it’s not everyday, that I’m in Italy!!!! Ciao for now!!!

Around the World – Melbourne, Australia

I recently had the privilege of visiting Melbourne, Australia.  It is a lovely cosmopolitan city that has so much to offer.  During my time there, I stayed at the Crowne Promenade Hotel which is part of a larger shopping mall that includes a casino, restaurants, food court, river walk, lots of shopping.  The convention center was a short walk from the hotel.  There was also a nice park and plenty of restaurants along the river walk leading to the convention center and hotel.  

While there I was able to leave Melbourne and venture into it’s suburban surroundings.  During this outing, I went to Sovereign Hill which is a replica town of what life would have been like during the gold rush years.  Yes you can still actually dig for gold.  Every so often someone gets lucky and finds a real gold nugget, but I did not!!!

After wandering around and sifting for gold, we had a lovely lunch at one of the restaurants, before heading to Black Cat Truffles to go truffle hunting.  No I did not find any truffles.  Both gold digging and truffle hunting are wonderful way to spend your time outside of Melbourne. 

And of course, there was food, food and more food.  Welcome parties, mingle parties, networking parties and of course a goodbye party.   I look forward to my next trip to the region and this time I will stay a lot longer, because there is a lot more to see and experience.  I will of course expand my trip by including New Zealand and likely Sydney next time.  Its a long plane ride, so staying a while is a better choice.  Good Day Mate!!!! 

Hotels vs AirBNB

As many of you may know one of my many interests is travel and event planning.  It’s why I own my own agency White Orchid Travel & Events, LLC.    It is one of the many ways I’m able to use  my creativity to express myself and I love it.   I can only give my honest opinion which you may or not agree with.  As a woman of color,  I know that things can be different for me than my white counterparts.  So I am aware of this and although I don’t go around expecting to be treated differently,  I am keenly aware it could happen.

I do not recommend Airbnb for the above reason mentioned.  It seems that people of color, especially, black women are treated far more harshly and physically if something goes wrong or the host is unhappy about something.   I have seen the videos of women being manhandled, thrown down a flight of stairs, escorted by the police, etc.  I don’t go away and spend my money to be treated like that.   You cannot regulate people’s prejudices and stupidity.  You can only try to put yourself in as safe a situation as you possible can.  I know many women of color who have stated that they have had really good experiences using Airbnb and I’m happy that they have, but until all are treated well, it’s a concern.

The reasons I prefer a hotel over Airbnb anytime are simple.  A hotel wants your repeat business and referrals.  They count on them.  They will work with you and are much more open and flexible when it comes to checking out, extending your stay, meeting your needs, changing your reservation, etc.  In other words they will go out of their way to make it work if possible.  Worst case scenario and things can’t be worked out, they do not grab you, shove you, push you down stairs, throw your stuff out in the street, etc.  They call the police if necessary and ask them to escort you out.  Most people know when the police show up, its time to go.  However unpleasant, it’s usually an encounter that doesn’t end with physical removal.   Keep this in mind the next time you have to decide between the two.  I say do whatever works for you, but as for me, I will continue to use hotels over Airbnb every time.

Around The World – Long Island Wine Country

I recently had the pleasure of venturing out to Long Island Wine Country while being hosted by Sound View Greenport.  It was one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had.  The wonderful thing is that it’s 2-3 hours outside of NYC, my home base and it’s a completely different world.  I’m so glad I accepted the invitation from Site Unseen and ventured out to this charming and beautiful setting.

During my stay there, I stayed at Sound View Greenport, a property with decks and beachfront space in every room.  It’s a beautiful place with a really good restaurant, The Halyard.   The Halyard has a wrap around deck that I imagine gets plenty of use in the warmer summer months.  It’s a great spot to dine and take in the phenomenal views.

We were driven around town in this adorable restored trolley.

We took a boat ride to a historical lighthouse and explored what is was like to live in a lighthouse.

One of the wineries we visited was Macari Vineyards which specializes in events for groups.  We were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and pie.  I had the pleasure of getting the blueberry cream slice, but honestly I sampled all the pies.  Macari definitely knows their market and makes some great wines.  They also have a space downstairs for small group tastings and they do a really good job of servicing their customer.

Another vineyard we spent time at was Palmer Vineyard.  This vineyard is more laid back and a great place to visit if you just want to hang out in the backyard and sample some wine.  It’s a great place to just gather with friends and enjoy a Sunday afternoon.

Long Island Wine Country is a beautiful place to enjoy some of the world’s finest wines.  It’s a short distance from Manhattan and well worth the trip.  The food is farm fresh, the wine is awesome and the scenery allows you to take a deep breath, let go, relax and breath!!!

White Orchid Travel & Events, LLC is happy to help you plan your Long Island getaway!!! Just reach out and let us know how we can help you.


Accessories – Hair & Skin Products

ORS Olive Oil recently hosted a natural hair day event in New York City and it was glorious!!! The event was hosted by several moderators including the wonderful Bethann Hardison one of the first black models to become sought after.  She is probably better known these days as a talent manager.  One of her most famous clients is the model Tyson Beckford.   The event featured hair styling, makeup tutorials, cocktails and of course food.  At the end of the event we were all given a gift bag full of  Olive Oil products.  The Coconut Mousse, Avocado Shampoo, Orange Essence Hair Conditioner, Edge Control, Hair Milk, Curly Pudding and Sheen Spray.   I’m loving the Hair Milk for styling and night maintenance.  I used the shampoo and conditioner to wash my hair and it smelled so good!!!   I definitely plan to continue to use these product and recommend that you give them a try.  The tees shirt was a nice touch!!


These are also two of my favorites.  I suffer from dry skin so I’m always looking for something to keep my skin moisturized and conditioned.  It seems I have to repeatedly apply product to stay moisturized.  One of the downfalls of aging I’m sure.  These two products do a pretty good job of helping me on my never ending quest for soft skin.  The Body Milk by Etro is just delightful without being too light or too heavy.  I also enjoy the TSI Blossom by Native Naturals as well.  It’s nourishing like it says without being too heavy.   Either of these should get you through the day.