Back to School Shopping on a Dime!

I know. It almost sounds like an oxymoron… How can you possibly not spend tons of money while purchasing clothes for you pre-teen or teenager? Well the answer isn’t so hard if you think outside the box. No, you don’t need to sift through racks and racks of clothing at your neighborhood Goodwill, not that there is anything wrong with that. Today all you need is a smartphone and an open mind. A GREAT place to shop for your 10-18 year old is Poshmark. Granted this site is only for women’s clothing, you can still save a ton.

What is Poshmark?

It’s a website (primarily a smartphone app) where people can sell women’s clothes and accessories, both new and used, to other interested people at a fraction of the cost. No more do you need to look through racks, simply type in the keywords for items you are looking for and you can find almost anything you would find at your local mall -likely for a much lower price. There are hundreds of brands listed and thousands of sellers looking to fill your closet with clothing and accessories for cheap. You can sign up today with this code PNKSA and get a $5 credit, to at least cover credit on an order.

With Poshmark, if there is an item that you love and don’t really want to pay the asking price you can make offers on items that you are interested in, within reason, and if the seller accepts your offer you may walk away with a pair of American Eagle Outfitters jeans for $15 compared to the $50 you would have spent in the store. If the seller drops the price you can also get discounted shipping (usually $5). If one seller has multiple items for sale there is a feature that will allow you to get a discount for purchasing more than one item at a 10% or more discount.

What Can You Find?

On Poshmark there are a number of items for your child that would be perfect for school, a number of your people sell on the site, as well as other folks with a very diverse closet. If you child is interested in Lilly Pulitzer or Anthropologie this is the way to introduce them to those stores. Looking for a pair of Vans or Cole Haan shoes, you’ll find them as well.

There are daily sales, which rotate brands and styles so you can easily filter through the types of items you are looking for. Seriously, there are tons of brands from Forever 21 to Chanel. With you account you can look for a Golden State Warriors t-shirt and then a pair of Miss Me jeans with a few clicks. You honestly can’t go wrong looking here, even if you just want to use it as a look book.

There are great deals to be had, like ASOS dresses for less than $10 and Urban Outfitters tops for about the same price. Considering the fact that you would spend well above that in store or not find what you are looking for in your size, it doesn’t hurt to check it out.

Give it a try!

There is no harm in downloading an app and this is one that may easily become an addiction. Not only can you buy items, but you can sell items that other women (or teens) might enjoy as well. The best that can come from it is finding a dozen garments for less than $50 including shipping , the worst is that you only find one or two items that were half off retail. Remember, if you decide to try Poshmark out be sure to use PNKSA as a code and get a $5 credit. Happy Poshing!!


Los Colores De Panama

As my flight prepared to land at Tocumen Airport I got my first glimpses of the red soil and a vivid green countryside. From the landscape to the people, everything in Panama appeared to be bright and full of life.There was color everywhere and I loved it.

Even the humidity being above 80% the entire time didn’t stop me from wanting to walk everywhere and take it all in. Of course I stopped to see the Panama Canal, explore the Parque Natural Metropolitano and wander through Albrook Mall. My deeper goal was to travel off the beaten path and find those hidden treasures. One of my first finds was a graffiti park near Escuela Santa Familia in Casco Viejo. The art may not compare to the works of Banksy or Nick Walker in some books, but it is beautiful, and the Pacific Ocean along the basketball court serves as a great contrast. The colors plastered on the surfaces also liven the school that it is adjacent to.

My second find in Casco Viejo were the homes. I should specify that although I liked all of the homes in the area I found that the older homes told a story. There was a contrast that was reminiscent of the tenement buildings during the early 20th century in New York City.  The buildings and its tenants were doing everything within their power to withstand the changes around them that would eventually force them out of their homes. In Casco Viejo you see banners on the streets opposing the gentrification that is pushing out the people that have inhabited this seawall peninsula for ages. Some mention that it is somewhat unsafe in Casco Viejo at night, but it is also worth noting that the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, resides there. It’s just as safe as wandering around Paris, Brooklyn, Chicago, or Fes; simply use common sense.

My favorite treat was the cab ride from the Panama Canal. The driver took a shortcut through El Chorrillo, which has been documented as an impoverished neighborhood. Its history includes canal workers, Manuel Noriega, the US’  Just Cause invasion in 1989 and Roberto Duran. I stuck my cameras lens out to capture the streets  we were passing through without thinking and I’m glad that I was able to capture a part of Panama that will inevitably go through the same changes that are happening in Casco Viejo.

Cab rides for only a few dollars, ropa vieja meals for just about the same price and the Panamanian version of Walmart, El Machetazo. This city will give you a lot of bang for your buck. I equally enjoyed walking and shopping along Avenida Central in Santa Ana. If it weren’t for the humidity and lack of a winter season I would consider making Panama more of a mainstay. That and the fact that there is a clear obsession with American fast food chains, but with some effort you can find a fonda and enjoy an authentic Panamanian dish. I would recommend anyone interested in exploring Panama City to go for it, there’s more to this city than just the Panama Canal.

Ramadan Déjà Vu: Pakistan in 2010, Somalia in 2011

The month of Ramadan began on August 1st. During this time Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, sexual activity from dawn to sunset. In addition to fasting, this is a time for observers to read the Quran and commit good deeds while avoiding anger, lying, and ill feelings towards others. This is not something that is easily accomplished considering the fact that Ramadan will occur during the summer’s longer days, for most of the world, for almost more 10 years. Nonetheless there are millions of people who complete their month of fasting while enduring severe hardship.

Last year Pakistan, which is over 95% Muslim, was hit by  the worst floods the country had seen in decades. The country not only saw widespread devastation, but they became dependent upon relief efforts due to the loss of crops and livestock. Irregardless of the hardship, many of the 14 million Pakistani people affected by the flooding committed to fasting during Ramadan. This was a time when those who lost everything banded together to help each other. Almost  a year later Pakistan is still picking up the pieces. Current figures estimate that more than 4 million people were displaced and at least 800,000 families are still living in shelters as they enter Ramadan.

As Pakistan is still dealing with last year’s flooding Somalia is trying to cope with worst drought and famine that they have seen in 60 years. Somalia is similar to Pakistan in that it is over 95% Muslim. Ramadan began with millions of observers fasting in these extreme conditions. Almost 30,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the past three months as a direct result to the drought and famine, according to USAID. Within six weeks the entire southern portion of Somalia will be considered a famine zone. This means over 3 million people in Somalia alone need immediate aid. Across the Horn of Africa there are over 10 million people that are being affected by this drought.

Many Somalians are finding ways to see the silver lining on the darkest of clouds during this troubling time. Some families, like that of Mohamed Idris, have little more than water and a few dates between them. Some wealthier families have offered items such as dates and rice to their fellow countrymen. Yesterday’s food distribution provided by the United Nations’ World Food Program turned into a gunfight that left at least seven people dead at the Badbaado camp, which is on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

While many Muslims around the world consider a 16 hour day fast during the summer cumbersome, most will not understand the feeling of breaking their fast with nothing to serve their family. There are many ways to help, including giving zakat. There are organizations like Islamic Relief that will allow you to donate to specific efforts including; orphan support, emergencies, and specific relief efforts by country. This is a time for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to take time help those in need. mA

Back Cove Beauty

After a slight hiccup,  a tornado and bad weather, in NYC I finally made my way up to the most Northeast state in the US. At this time of night the best, and only way into the city without a ride is a taxi which will run you about $15 to most destinations. I tucked myself into bed at my hosts house along the back cove and by the time I awoke they had both already headed out to work. They had graciously offered me a bicycle for the day, which is a great way to explore Portland, and I headed out to check out the city and the Old Port before one of my hosts returned from work and was going to ride around town with me. A friend also offered a double-sided page of great information pertaining to Portland since she has lived in the area for so long. Once I had conferred with a map I made my way out of the house and headed towards the back cove and into Portland proper.

I biked up to North Star Cafe which was recommended by my friend. It’s a great spot to relax and
enjoy some great organic food and good drinks. After a quick stop I cross the street to the East Cemetery. The far majority of the headstones were from the 19th century with quite marked as Revolutionary War soldiers. I have started touring breweries since checking out Magic Hat in Burlington, VT. I did a simple google maps search and came across Shipyard Brewery and decided that would be my next stop. I arrived just a few minutes before the next tour was to begin and after enjoyed what may well become one of my new favorite seasonal beers, Pumpkinhead Ale. At this point I let my eyes make my decisions and make my way around town until it was just about time to meet up with my host.

A short break later I was back on my mountain bike and we headed around the back cove this time and passed the fort that’s along the shore as well as an area along the coast dotted with islands. We stopped by Waterlily which is a cute shop in the Old Port featuring lots of imported trinkets. I mentioned the fact that I wanted to try grapenut ice cream so our next stop was Beal’s Ice Cream Shoppe. In addition to a scoop of grapenut I added my personal favourite, Coconut Almond! My hosts partner had happy hour plans so we walked over to Corner Room, which features a $3 appetizer/draft beer menu. They also have a few mediterranean items that you can munch on for free. After going back and forth over what to do for dinner we decided to stay at Corner Room although we would have to wait an hour for a table that could accommodate our party. We walked down the block to Novare Res for a quick beer and made it back just in time to be seated. The food was really good, they offer more of an Italian fare, just be sure to ask the prices of items on special. An appetizer  salad set one person in our group back $15.

On our walk back to our bikes we stopped by a square which fire twirlers and other artists practicing their trades. Portland does not restrict anyone from freely practicing their artor talent which was why the twilers were allowed to publicly use an open flame. We peddled back toward the back cove and stopped by The Great Lost Bear but only stayed for a few minutes before deciding that we should head back in to be up in time for me to make yet another morning exit. I feel like I quickly become infatuated with every city I visit and this is another one on that list.

A Day In Beantown

Firstly, I love Mass. I would consider it as one of the few places I would consider retiring. I’m not saying that because I’m from there but because it’s a city filled with so much history and culture, not to mention its home to the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics!

Its been a while since I’ve visited Boston so I was excited to line it up as my second destination. The timing was also great in that I was going to my first ball game at Fenway Park! I mean its Fenway, a ball park which has stood the test of time. Granted there have been upgrades to the park twice since it was built but it hasn’t been torn down and reconstructed like other ball parks. I also decided to have my first go at couchsurfing in the states. I’ve hosted people and I have surfed in Asia but I have never formally surfed in the U.S. This was going to be a great, although short, trip.

After arriving and meeting up with my host I decided to be extroverted, although still during Ramadan, and meet up with other AYCJ’ers at the Oyster Union Bar. After lunch we walked along the Freedom trail, look for a red brick and/or painted path around parts of historic Boston. Some stops on the train were interesting while others were not so much. More chatting and fun washad up until we made it to Fenway, scored free entry for one person in our party that didn’t have aticket. The highlight of the game was getting to sit a bit past 1st base, three rows from the field! A perk when you consider the fact that I had a $18 bleacher ticket. My second afternoon was more about getting a bit more acquainted with the city. I stopped by the Cheers bar, a few parks, and the Granary cemetery in the time I had left.

One of the things I truly enjoy about Boston is that its residents are truly hometown fan. I like to state that there are TWO Boston bars in NYC but there are NO NYC bars in Boston. When I spoke to a Boston cop at Fenway he mentioned that for many years you had to be from Boston to be a Boston cop. Bostonians and their transplants love their city and it shows. I hope to check out a Patriots game one day at Foxborough but for now I’m content with having made it to Fenway and the Garden.

AYCJ to Buffalo, NY

September 7th started off very early for me, I headed of out the infamous T5 bright and early. Jetblue’s JFK terminal is a land of happiness and joy for many travelers with the start of Jetblue’s 2nd All You Can Jet pass promotion. I’ve finally calculated all my travels and I will be flying over 21,300 miles this month, can we say exciting!

Before 8:00am I was already in Buffalo, NY and en route to

Niagara Falls the first time. With about seven hours to see as much of Buffalo as I can with not much more than a bus pass ($4) and my camera I set off. I couldn’t walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side, which I hear offers a more scenic view, because I am currently without my lost passport. While on the bus to the Falls I was speaking with the bus driver and she mentioned Buffalo’s City Hall as a place to check out that was also decently priced, read free. The 28th Floor houses an observation deck that offers great views of the city, you can actually see all the way to Canada. Right in front of City Hall there is the McKinley monument, in the memory of the 25th President, who was shot and assassinated in Buffalo. President Fillmore, the 13th President, is buried in Buffalo and there is a statue alongside City Hall in his likeness.

I had heard things about the Grain Elevators although there wasn’t much that I could find as far as actually visiting these relics. I was able to snap a few photos from across the canal. Apparently Cheerios are manufactured in Buffalo but I wasn’t around to smell them. Thanks to the train system in Buffalo, which offers a fair free zone, I was able to go from Erie Canal area to Anchor Bar. This was my last stop before I headed back to the airport and back home. I wasn’t able to justify spending $11 for 10 wings but it was nice to check out the places that holds the title of being the birth of the buffalo (hot) wing.

I made it back to the airport just before 3:00pm, already having checked in, only to hear that the flight was going to be delayed for about an hour. I enjoyed Buffalo

during  my short stint there  and would recommend it to anyone looking for a little change of scenery from the busy city life. My first trip, even with the delays, was a good one and I look forward to the rest of my jetting with this year’s All You Can Jet pass. Next stop, Boston, MA!

Why Am I Hiding?

So it’s been a while since I have blogged. I even wondered how I got to this point. I mean NYC Pride is over and July 4th has come and gone. I even made my way out to Texas for a conference and yet I didn’t blog. So I had to ask myself “what gives?” Have I already run out of things to talk about? NO WAY, there’s always something to talk about. Whatever the reason was, I think I’ve got it out of my system and I hope the only reason for my lack of writing to occur again is due to me exploring some remote piece of land without electronic communication for thousands of miles in any direction. I doubt that will happen, I mean I was even able to get on gmail and blog while in Burma (Myanmar) and we all know how lovely their government is.

I found a book the other day (another reason to love NYC), Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar, a short 603 page book based on a 16th Century kingdom in India. I began reading yesterday and hope that I can complete the book by month’s end if I stick to reading on the train at a decent pace. It’s a pretty good book so far, the style of the author is rather enjoyable. What else, what else.. oh YEAH.. my camera has to be sent off to Canon. Apparently there is some electronic damage going on inside the viewfinder which I hope is easily corrected. We will see, I am gonna mail off my little girl Misty next week. I also need to reorder my passport that was stolen, I saw a flight to Nice, France for about $250 and I remember that traveling is something that I need to incorporate into my agenda again.

I think that is about it. Ramadan is approaching and I will be fasting this year, lucky me has a birthday during it again. So I will really celebrate after, in which I want to skydive. My mother went skydiving with my father for her birthday. Now I’m done. I will be back soon.