I’ve come to the conclusion that Annecy should be on your radar of small towns to visit if you’re traveling through the country of France or Switzerland! Located 5 hours southeast of Pairs, and 22 miles from Geneva, Annecy is a tucked away gem worth discovering. The moment I heard about this charming, A-letter French village, full of castles and mountains was known to be one of the most photographed locations in the world, I knew I had to make the trip! So welcome to Annecy! I’m here to guide you though my quick day trip and leave you with five noteworthy things I discovered while here in Annecy, France.


Nicknamed the Pearl of French Alps, Annecy is positioned between Lake Annecy and the French Alps. Bearing the northern entrance of the cleanest lake in Europe (Lake Annecy), Annecy has a mountainous a backdrop that almost seems close enough to touch. Similar to what most people think of Switzerland and the picture perfect background, Annecy’s location and beauty is postcard worthy. In addition to the lake, the city of Annecy is also famous for its beautiful old town. The cities waterways, canals, and romantic bridges is what gives the city its second nickname —The Venice of the Alps. As the calm waters wind through the city next to cobbled stone banks, Lake Annecy finds itself at the foot of many homes, markets and even castles. A walk down the Rue Royale will be rewarded with prime shopping, dining and people-watching. I assume the city’s European charm mixed together with the mountains and clear water is why Annecy is a sought after French destination boasting two nicknames… but just wait, there’s more!


Porte Perrière

The city of Annecy was built around 4000 B.C. With its ancient European enchantment, it is extremely easy to get mesmerized by the colorful clay buildings as they whisk you through out the cobbled streets. And like many other villages built so long ago, Annecy was once kept between confined walls.

To protect itself from external attacks, Annecy in the Middle Ages had a fortified enclosure. To get in and out of the city, you had to take protected passages and pay a tax. Of these key passages, few remain and the Porte Perrière is one of the examples still standing, only modified a little by the time.

Palais de l’Isle

The city kind of gives off an old town fairytale vibe — almost as if Rapunzel could be locked up in a tower just a few blocks away. And while Annecy is home to many castles, one of the main attractions is The Palais de l’Isle. The Palais de l’Isle is a castle built on an island in the middle of the city dating back to the 12th century and follows the shape of the two branches of the Thiou River. And even though it has never kept any Disney princesses hostage, it did serve as prison before the French Revolution and then again during World War II. So instead of being a home to the elite, this multipurpose castle was used to keep foreign captives jailed and and also served as courthouse for hundreds of years. Today this castle is used as a museum where visitors can take a look inside.


If you’re looking to put your lips onto something traditional while in Annecy, hop into any local restaurant and order a Raclette. A Raclette is a French delicacy dating back to midlevel times. And while this dish only consist of two simple ingredients, potatoes and cheese, the way it is cooked right on your table in a mini dutch oven was pretty foreign to me. Up top in the oven, potatoes are boiling in water and inside of the oven, thick white cheese slices are and melting in a small frying pan. Once the potatoes are soft and warm you take the melted cheese out and drape it over the cracks of the potato and bite into its sizzling goodness. While it’s only a spin on what I know as a cheesy baked potatoe, the taste of a Raclette is utterly different than what I imagined as I think it has a lot to do with the cheese. Raclette cheese is a Savoyard-type cheese, marketed specifically to be used for this dish — Raclette d´Annecy. After a day of exploring, and a natural food lover I was starving before sitting down to eat, but after only taking a couple of bites, this hearty dish instantly brought me back to life. A few more bites later, I was tired as I found myself slowly entering a food coma. It doesn’t take much to fill up on this hearty dish. Raclette’s are typically sided with various meats, a side salad and pairs great with white wine. To be honest, this is something I would have overlooked on the menu as I almost did and ordered a boring Caesar salad. Thankfully, I was with a French native who recommended me to this dish, but if you’re not with someone who has the “in” on the local food, take my word and try it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


If you are interested in a romantic experience while in Annecy, don’t shy away from Pont des Amours. Pont des Amours is translated to The Bridge of Lovers as it links one of the entrances from Lake Annecy to the canals of the Thiou River. Standing on the bridge, the 360-degree views are that of the French Alps, Lake Annecy, row boats, other vessels, and large green areas to rest. It’s a lovely bridge in a pretty spot. The legend on the bridge tells that if two lovers give a kiss on the deck they will be united for life.

It is often quite crowded with couples taking photos, obviously, but it is a nice bridge to see and walk over.


While there are many beautiful places to stay inside of Annecy, if you’re looking to feel like a princess (like I always am) check out the Imperial Palace. This hotel sits right off Lake Annecy with spectacular views of nature and castles off in the hills. The road leading up to this hotel will wind you up though the mountains until you land on this palace-like building. The modern amenities, especially the pool and spa and the views from my suite was just the cherry on top. Here are a few pictures from the property.

Ok, I don’t want to make this post too lengthy so I’ll sum it up. This charming old town city named Annecy France, located in the Rhone-Alps region of southeast France filled with castles, cathedrals and softly curving architecture is worth a visit. Whether you want to eat traditional French food, stroll through thousands of years of history or walk hand in hand along the Pont de Armours bridge, Annecy France is a fairytale city I’d definitely recommend. So go!.. and weirdly tell a stranger, APRIL IN THE A sent you!


So its officially been 10 days since I’ve arrived in Paris and settled into my new apartment— something I’ve dreamed about saying forever.

I feel like my move should speak for itself but I keep getting the same questions, why Paris? Why now? And how is it?

Why Paris?

Well outside of the obvious of it being a food loving, romantic city, full of history, and home to my favorite luxury brands, I’ve been knees deep in loving the Parisian culture since grade school. Between high school and college, I’ve taken four years of French which made me fall more in love with the language. When I visited twice in 2019, it sealed the deal and I instantly knew it’s where I wanted to call home someday. Paris is the kind of big city that makes you slow down and notice all of its beauty. Unlike the constant go of New York City, people in Paris are walking slow, and dining at cafes for hours drinking wine with their best friends. It’s the place where you have lunch on the river instead of hiding out in a cafe on your laptop. It’s a place where you don’t have to drive and pay high gas prices, and for all of that, I appreciate it. As many of you have heard or seen my annoyingly favorite phrase, ‘WERK WERK TWERK’, that is something I truly live by. It means you work HARD but the “twerk” is something beautiful such a vacation, or perhaps just a great night out. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been on a hustler rollercoaster for quite some time. 9a-4a late nights have gotten the best and most of me, so to move to a place with no job, no real itinerary and to just embrace a slower pace, is exactly what I think I needed. This is my twerk. As much as I loved running around Detroit doing countless photoshoots per week for Red Couch Digital (burning myself out), while marketing my apparel brand, Sunny Detroit, I’m finally allowing myself to slow down and to just live. I have saved enough to pay for my basic needs, a pretty nice apartment, all while living in my dream city so I’ll take that as a win and soak it all in. If Mr. Perfect finds their way into my hopeless romantic life, even better but for now I’m getting used to this solo journey I’ve just begun. 

Why now?

To be completely honest, I felt like it was now or never. As a childless, single woman with some extra coins to my name,  I didn’t know when I would get another opportunity to selfishly pick up my life and move four thousand miles away to a new culture and start fresh. Also, anything could happen to any of us at any given moment. I could get hit by a bus or the world could literally end any day and I’m not the person who does well with regret — so here we are.

And finally, how is it?

My answer…. Just simply remarkable. 

I had to learn how to wipe the dumb American smile off my face and try to fit in like a normal Parisian though everything, even simple buildings are just so beautiful. Thankfully tourist season is almost over, so people aren’t looking at everyone taking a photo as an outsider (well maybe going to the Eiffel Tower and quite literally being the only person to lay on the concrete underneath it made me look like a crazy tourist but how could I not). It helps during my last two trips here in 2019,  I knocked off a ton of tourist things from my list. I spent hours in the Louvre, boat ride on the Seine, wandered through Notre Dame (2 days before the infamous fire), saw Moulin Rouge, partied all night at French clubs, walked up the Eiffel Tower, ate as many crepes and croissants my belly would allow, etc. So this go around I’m just trying to fit in as a local. Trying to use as little English as I can, use the public transportation and adapt to the French way of living as my goal is to master the French language. As a non smoker, I could do away with the overload of cigarette smoke on the streets but it doesn’t take away from my captivated obsession with this city and the simple the fact that I can’t believe I live here. It gets a little lonely at times but for someone who loves being the center of attention, maybe a little loneliness is exactly what I need.

So there you have it 😅

I can’t wait to share with you my findings as they unravel. I’ll bring out the big camera soon.


April J — or maybe it’s Avril now?  

Au revoir pour le moment! à bientôt!


IBIZA sits in an archipelago located at the southern mouth of Spain.

1. An Archipelago is a landform that is a group of many islands. Some of the most famous archipelagos of the world are many of the islands around Japan, Hawaii and the British Islands.

The weather sits about 90 degrees daytime, it hardly rains and it’s really nothing less than paradise which makes it a trendy beach destination in Europe.
Nude beaches, fresh seafood, a plethora of unique shopping, wild nightlife, young people, old people, budgeters, rich, famous DJ’s,  tourists of all accents, and nationalities.  It’s a melting pot of vacationers from all over the world!

I was in Paris, France, for a work trip in September and with my weekend free, I thought… why race back to the States and instead spend some time cheaply jet setting around Europe.

With a recent interest in Ibiza, my mission to find a place that had something to do with “A”. Ibiza ends with an A but couldn’t find anything else about Ibiza that I could make some sense with. Hmmm… wtf could I make “A” about. And then I start doing research of Ibiza. See, I always try to find a way around it. Whether it be a sea or river, city, country, museum etc..

Then BAM!


And that’s how I ended up in Ibiza, feeling guilt-free. Booked a $150 roundtrip 90-minute flight from Paris, and took off.


IMG_3598 2

I’ve never stayed at an art hotel but heard a little about them.

They are unique boutique-like hotels with art-like concepts catered to trigger creativity, though poppy colors and designs.

Art Hotels are typically priced higher than regular chain hotels. Personally, already thinking how hotels overcharge, compared to comfortable and spacious Airbnbs it’s hard for me to book an expensive small-boxed hotel. But this one was so cute!

IMG_1169 3hmmm.. 

Digital Nomad Tip: What service or influence can you exchange for a discount.? You can’t just exist, that’s what tourists do. You find a way to hustle.

I emailed the hotel manager, offered video/photos/influence and, they agreed and made staying at this artsy boutique hotel would be both affordable and full.

Welcome to Paradiso Ibiza Art Hotel. This hotel’s point focus on bold, vibrate colors with a playful chic atmosphere.

This place is definitely a vibe.

The neon, colors, design, the poolside DJ and the fact that there was tattoo shop available on site made this experience worth coming to Ibiza. Of course I hit the town and beach, but I hid away at this fascinating hotel a little more, soaking up this little artsy slice of paradise. I’d totally recommend this place to anyone. Adults only, so keep the kids at home.



IMG_9970 3


$imple Tip$ to $ave Thousand$ on Travel

I get it. Traveling can seem expensive if you’re not doing it right. Flights, hotels, transportation, food, and excursions. It can seem intimidating when planning a trip. For some, those separate entities quickly add up, it freaks you down, you shut it down.

Or the best excuse, “not now, but someday I’ll be able to afford it.” And that is where most fantasy escapes go to die. In the “someday pile” that never happens because life will always continue to happen. Cars will need new tires, childcare will always be expensive and, cheap dates, gas, and new winter boots will likely get most of the free money that could have taken you around the world.

I’m here to tell you to quit that bullshit and start planning the trip of your dreams. Here are four simple tips, I’ve come across to make the journey much more affordable and the memories grand.

  1. Pay attention to when/where and how to book your flight. 

I am a slave to google flights —It’s personally my favorite website. There is nothing that gets my adrenaline going more than trying to figure out a route to get to the various locations for the best prices. Figuring out what city will give you the most affordable flights, calculating layovers and other commutes such as train rides, and cabs to lock in the right price. Sometimes, it’s pretty simple. You’re flying internationally?.. find the closest international airport if it’s not in your hometown. Europe? New York airports will be the cheapest. Going to Asia? Take off from Seattle or Portland.  According to my great friend Wikipedia, here are the top 10 international airports in the U.S. They are usually the cheapest when flying abroad.

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 3.51.19 PM.png

You can find round trip prices for quarter of the cost you may find leaving from your hometown. That’s a simple part of traveling that a lot of people overlook. If you’re somewhere in the middle of America, like I am here in the midwest, check all the surrounding airports within a 300-mile radius to ensure you’re getting the best price. You’d be surprised how a $20 Megabus ticket or train ride to the next big city saves you hundreds of dollars. Less cost for flights, more money for the vacation. Also check into travel deal sites such as Scott’s Cheap Flights, Skyscanner, and Hopper. I personally love Google Flights for the ability to track price cuts and alerts on when to book its lowest fare.

Flight Example:
Flight cost Detroit to Thailand $2200
Flight cost Chicago to Thailand $681
Train from Detroit to Chicago $32
Flight Savings– $1500

Simple, right?

2. Be flexible.

When deciding on where to go definitely take the tourist seasons into account. Greater demand, higher prices.

To get the best price, and in my opinion, the better vacation, being flexible in the time of year and weekday will give you the best bang for your buck. Planning tropical escape around the holidays will cost notably more than a random excursion in March. And going in March will free up space that would otherwise be occupied by crowds of annoying tourists getting in the way of your epic scenic photos. 

If you can, tell your job you need Wednesday- Tuesday off as opposed to Monday-Friday. Flights are much more affordable leaving on a Tuesday or Wednesday than a Friday afternoon. Airlines need you to fill the plane. Lesser demand, lower prices. Easy. From personal experience, I’ve also found Tuesdays and Wednesdays the cheapest day to book internationally. 

3. For the love of God stop booking hotels.

I dodge most hotels when traveling. With a world of Airbnb, it’s hard to be contained in a small box with a bed and maybe a microwave. Again, doing some research, get to know the area before you travel and if it’s safe to be out on your own, try to find other accommodations. Airbnb’s are usually half of what hotels costs. And there, you find kitchens, backyards, and probably some sort of a grocery store right around the corner. If booking in advance, luxury, spacious, Airbnbs can be quite attainable.  You can relax in a local space where you don’t feel like your wasting your vacation away stuck in a tiny hotel. In a location filled with competition resorts, many Airbnbs step their game up and offer full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, hot tubs, pools, rooftop terraces, amazing views, “instagramable” ambiance etc. For my trip to Tulum, we were faced with options.

5 nights in Tulum, Mexico.
Ahau Tulum “resort type” hotel: $400/night
Luxury, 2 bed/4 bath Airbnb:$100 night
Savings: $1500

Another option, my favorite, especially for solo traveling, is hostels.

If you plan on spending more time on the go, than relaxing in your room, then save even more money and book a hostel. I’ve stayed in dozens of hostels throughout the world, and while every hostel is a bit different, if you’re someone who prefers traveling being out and about all day, why spend boatloads on a room you’re only partially using? If traveling solo, hostels are great for meeting others like yourself. Because they are shared space,  bring a lock, and use the room to get some sleep. It can easily turn that $1000 accommodation bill into $100.

Example: 5 nights Antwerp, Belgium
3-star hotel “Diamond and Pearl”– $105/night.
5-star hostel “Yust” — $25/night
Savings: $400

My hostel experience in Belgium met every need a traveler could want and need. Yust, located in Antwerp, is an exceptional hostel equipped with a gym, laundry, cute spacious lounges, free coffee/tea, a restaurant on-site, in-room clean bathrooms, private bunks, and just an overall ambiance that could easily be mistaken as a 5-star hotel. I felt like I was cheating the system only paying $26 per night. And while every hostel certainly doesn’t drip 5-star-ness, you’d be surprised where $25 could get you. If you’re not someone who likes sleeping amongst strangers, private rooms are also an option for a little more.

Every hostel is different though so do your research. 

4. Don’t be a fat hoe.

I get it. Traveling to a new place and trying all kinds of enticing dishes seem like a dream. At least to me, it does. But let’s be real, unless you’re budget allows you to eat out for every meal in your hometown, why tf would you do that when you’re traveling. Yelp will influence you to take all of your money without you even realizing it.

Convenience? Perhaps. Saving, hell no.

**unless you’re in a place where the dollar stretches far, like Thailand ok**, but even then save your money**

Find a local store, and plan your meal. A person can easily spend $25 at a restaurant for one meal. Times that by how many times you have to eat, and that can add up very quickly. Grocery stores around the world offer vast food options, and street food is a great way to taste local dishes, cheaply. If you’re in a space where you can turn groceries into cooked meals, even better.

Example: 10 meals in Tokyo, Japan
$25 –restaurant meal
$10– street food
$75 — groceries for the entire week
Savings: upwards $175

Trading in high fees for a consistent meal is where so many go wrong. Stop wasting your money on food that will eventually become waste in your toilet as well. Get enough to eat wherever you chose to dine, but try not to break your bank while doing so.

So there you have it. Here are my top 4 tips on how to travel smart, and save on budget while freeing up money for actual adventures. It seems easy but so many people fail on these simple steps and overspend by hundreds or thousands. You don’t have to be rich to see the world; being smart helps though. 




ALkmaar— The City of Cheese

Cheese me, please!


Alkmaar is one of those cities I tracked down just because it starts with the letter A. But 30 miles north of Amsterdam wasn’t too much of a drag so I decided to settle here for two days, giving myself some time to explore this strange city out.

Its population just over 100,000 is another city based off a canal. I’m finding that a trend here in the Netherlands.IMG_8631

What are they known most for?

Traditional Cheese Markets.

Why did I come here?

For the cheese, please.

Staying at hostel yet again, I checked into the Kings Inn. Coming from Amsterdams standard, I was pleased to find that this hostel was much nicer equipped with a restaurant, bar and cute community space. The downfall, I was roomed with a lady who had this laughing condition where she’d just randomly have laughing, farting, outburst at all times during the night. One thing about hostels is that you have no control over who you room with.


Anyway.. back to the city.

Every Friday during the summer months, Alkmaar residents and tourist flock to the city center for its traditional cheese market. I never knew so many people who cared about cheese, but then again I’ve never before been to Alkmaar.

Alkmaar owns the title of the “city of cheese” for a reason. Cheese markets were organized in the past where cheese was delivered early in the morning to Waagplein, traders weighted and approved the cheese stacks and started selling to the customers. While now, the pounds of cheese traded are not sold directly to customers attending, the market is filled with traditional clothing to give the tourist a glimpse into the rich history of trading.

The cheese market spectacle can be seen from April to September every Friday, starting at 10.00 am.

There is a lot of cheese at the market. Pallets stacked full of waxy orange wheels of cheese, all spread out in the main square in front of the cheese museum. The whole event is quaint, and pleasant, insofar as watching people buy cheese can be enjoyable.

If you don’t like big congested crowds, this place would not be for you. I did get a little claustrophobic and found myself along a canal because it became too much of a fuss navigating through the city.

But was it worth it?

Hell yes, the cheese was amazing.

Never have I ate cheese so delicious.

Take a look at my 4-minute-video where I navigate you through the cheese markets, the food, and the city of Alkmaar.

4 Fun Facts About Alkmaar

  1. Alkmaar it was the first Dutch city to successfully resist Spain during the Netherlands war of independence in 1573.
  2. John Lennon’s first guitar was made in Alkmaar and there is a Beetles Museum located in the city.
  3. Dutch eat an average of 17 kilos of cheese per person per year? Most cheese is still eaten on bread in the Netherlands? This is the origin of the expression “de kaas niet van je brood laten eten”, which means “don’t let anyone else take what’s rightfully yours”.
  4. The people who live within Alkmaar are called ‘kaaskoppen’, this means cheese heads and refers to the cheese market of Alkmaar.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How our intuition saved us from being Sex Trafficked in Amsterdam.

The moment I stepped out of the Amsterdam Airport, it could have been the end. Euro trip over. Tragic

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 12.14.03 PMWooo!! It was the day I’d been anticipating for nearly a year. Coming in on separate flights, I was thrilled to find my best friend Brandie in the airport upon arriving in Amsterdam. This was the beginning of our Euro trip where I’d ‘werk werk twerk’ and begin filming season 2 of my travel show. This was Day 1, and for those who really know me, it was April 4th.. my most favorite day of the year. What could possibly go wrong? 

Our immediate concern was how do we get from the airport to where we’re staying in the city center. The airport is about 20 minutes away from our first destination, and while unfamiliar with the Netherlands train and busing, we decided it’d be best to catch a cab until we figure out how to use the Dutch public transportation.

A young man approached us, out of nowhere. “Do you need a cab?” He’d ask. Like an angel falling from the sky, we jumped up, delighted and quickly said yes. Wow, that was so easy, we thought. Like a gentleman, he quickly grabbed my bag and begin wheeling it away from the airport, across the cobbled streets walking fast with intent. Keeping up with him, we thought it was strange that we were walking so far away from the airport but he assured us that this was normal. We hesitantly followed as we walked at least 5 minutes away. Passing a few cargo vans, and trucks, Brandie and I now knew this was strange as he mumbled on the phone something in a different language. 

“The cab will be here soon,” he announced. 

Weird. We thought he was the cab driver. We waited on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, still confused now our guard completely raised as this nice Mercedes car pulls up and literally stops on the side of the road. He didn’t pull over to where we were, just stopped in the middle of the street.  No cab hat attached to the top, no writings on the side of his car, and then out pops a man dressed to the tee in what looked like an Armani suit with very nice shoes. 

Hmmmmm… I’ve never seen a cab driver dressed so well before and driving such a nice luxury car.

Red flag! Red flag!

Quickly, I turn to Brandie and we exchange the same look of concern. 

“Hmmm…How much?” we asked.

“$75 dollars,” the driver says. 

“Oooh. That’s a lot more than we expected. No worries, we’ll take the train.”

The well-dressed man speaks again. 

“$45! He shouts”

You know, we’re just going to take the train. 

“$40!” he repeats. 

“Nahhhh.. we’re good.”

Both men quickly got pissed and aggravated and we decided it was time to abort the mission. Quicky. We retreat, grabbed our bags and got out of there as fast as we could. 

While there’s so much hype around Amsterdams’ Red Light District, according to statistics, 10 to 90 percent of those women are being sex trafficked. Amsterdam is one of, if not has the highest percentage of trafficking in the world and today was not the day! 

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 12.16.25 PM
Pic from La Strada International

We could only imagine the things that could have happened soon after. Maybe he’d roll down the back window, release gas and out we’d go. Our journey was not about to end the day we got there. 

Thankfully, we got out of there and found an actual taxi stand where there were writings on the car. So happy we trusted our intuition because who knows what would’ve taken place if we got into that car. 

If it seems shady and suspicious, it probably is. Trust your gut. 

Xoxo, A

ARMADA, Michigan

OK. To be quite honest, other than that the population being less than 2,000 and its the main industry being something of farming, what I know of Armada outside of Blakes Cider Mill is seldom to none. But the fact that Blakes Cider Mill alone brings in thousands of excited tourist every year, and it only being about 15 miles north of my hometown (Rochester, MI) made it a mission for an APRIL IN THE A daytime adventure.


Address: 17985 Armada Center Road, Armada, MI 48005

Blakes Cider Mill is one of the largest cider mills in the mitten and it exceeds the expectations of cider mills nationwide. Just in case you’re not used to the term cider mill, according to great Wikipedia…

A cider mill is a location and equipment used to crush apples into apple juice for use in making apple cider, hard cider, applejack, apple wine, pectin and other products derived from apples.


It’s a regional place of interest filled with apples, giant pumpkins, donuts, and if you’re lucky, hard apple cider.  As many southern states may have never heard of such a place, here in the Midwest, it’s a mandatory visit once the air becomes cool and leaves start to change as we welcome another season of a Pure Michigan fall. So come with me, as I roll through rows of apple trees as I try to eat as much of fall treats before my belly pops open with gooey chewed up delicious donuts.

Here are 4 must-do activities while at Blakes Cider Mill.

  1. U-Pick
  2. Cider, Donuts, Beer, Snacks, etc.
  3. Train ride around
  4. Take tons of “basic” fall photos.

(If you have children, make sure to take them through the Funland portion.)


For someone who literally eats at least one apple a day, I had to make it a point to go pick out my OWN apples. Something about knowing just who picked it and where it came from makes me at ease in a world full of processed and questionable food. 

When rolling up to the cider mill, if you want to get right to the apple picking, skip parking and roll right into the U-PICK section where you’ll drive through fields of fresh organic vegetables until you make your way over towards the apple orchards where you’ll find dozens off rows filled with a variety of apple trees, ready for your eager hands… to pick!

To be specific, Blakes grow:


Golden Delicious 

Red Delicious
Granny Smith
Northern Spy

Who knew there were so many apple varieties grown right here in Michigan? Well I did, actually. But that’s beside the point.

When arriving into the Upick section, one must retrieve a bag from the workers, and proceed to fill the bag with whatever your soul desires. It’s that easy but you have to get to where it weighs enough for the minimum dollars spent is $15.

You can also pick your own giant pumpkins, vegetables and noses.

Cider, Donuts, Beer, Snacks, etc.


This is truly why most people visit any cider mill nationwide. The sugary donuts, the sweet cider, and caramel glazed candy apples are an absolute MUST to get through Michigan’s autumn season. If you’re not participating in consuming any of these said above products, you’re doing it all SO WRONG.

In the main warehouse, you’re immediately greeted by a sweet aroma as the smell of freshly made donuts fill your nostrils. While walking through the thick smell of sweets,  one can actually see the process of the cider fermenting as apples are crushed and pressed to squeeze out the pure juice. According to Blakes, it takes 30 apples to make only one gallon of cider. Crazy.

Blake Cider mill uses thousands of their homegrown and picked apples and turns them into sweet cider by sending them through an apple press.

Other than viewing the apples pressing into cider and the bottling of the juice, you have the option to buy a handful of homemade snacks such as donuts, freshly roasted almonds, apple fondu, caramel apples, and a menu full of other treats. I,  being my usual fatass got all of the above and everything was finger licking, sticky and delicious.

In a separate area of the warehouse, you’ll find a store where all-natural products ranging from fresh-farm jams, pickles, and applesauce and purified, canned and ready for purchase. Blakes makes it their priority to never add artificial ingredients to their products while using the highest quality of fruits and vegetables.

Leave outside of the warehouse with room for more, because right next door you’ll find the brewery where Blakes Hard Cider is created and served.

I love beer. I’m coming back around to sweet beer so I decided to try out a flight of four of the hard ciders. I tried the Rose, El Chavo, Grizzly Pear and The Tonic.


Ok so the train, while not too adventurous takes you around the entire cider mill. Blakes sits on dozens of acres of spread out grounds ,so walking it may not be an option for some. Lucky for those, the train covers all of the lands, giving you a glimpse of everything.

You pass by the fresh vegetables still growing, a massive patch filled with pumpkins of all sizes, the apple orchard, corn stalks, and the massive farmland. The tractor- train ride runs for 25 minutes before it comes full circle back to the starting location. I believe it cost $3 per person to ride.


This post is getting lengthy so I’ll sum this up. Blakes is an amazing place to take your family, a date, or just good friends for a daytime fall-tastic adventure. There’s something for everyone there and it’s a must-go-to if you ever find yourself in the Metro Detroit area between the months of September and November.


xo, A

Plankin’ at Piedmont Park

One of my least favorite exercises to do are planks.

plank pic 4

Plank /plaNGk/


The plank (also called a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.

I’m not a fan of this exercise, yet I do them weekly at times even daily.  It’s a great way to strengthen and define my core while working my glutes, hamstrings and helps to improve balance. It even helps with posture. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do things for the greater good which is why I present to you PLANKS AT THE PARK.

For this week’s Fit Friday, I’m going to run you through five plank exercises that I did at Piedmont Park down in Atlanta GA, that will help get you some abs by summertime.

Get a stop watch.. .Set that stopwatch.


Skip my intro the second time around and repeat as many times necessary.


What’s involved: Abs, back, and shoulders.

  1. Get down on all fours with your palms flat and hands under your shoulders. Keep them a little wider than shoulder-width apart. It’s like doing a push-up.
  2. Brace your core and squeeze those glutes to keep your body up and prevent the hips from dipping and sticking up. Keep your belly button pulled in.
  3. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Hold.


What’s involved: Abs, shoulders, triceps, core, glutes, lower back.

  1. Assume a pushup position with your weight on your forearms or your hands. Brace your abs, clench your glutes, and keep your body straight from head to heels.
  2. Now raise your right leg and hold that position for 1 second. Lower your right leg and repeat 10 times. Raise your left leg and hold for 1 second.
  3. Lower your left leg and repeat 10 times. Continue alternating back and forth for time for 30 seconds.


What’s involved: Abs, lower back, triceps, glutes, quads.

  1. Begin in a full plank. Lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left, coming into an elbow plank.
  2. Put your right hand on the mat, and straighten your right elbow. Do the same on the left to return to a full plank.


What’s involved: abs,, obliques, shoulders and arms. This exercise challenges your stability, too.

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands flat on the floor, directly under your shoulders
  2.  Bend your left knee and bring it towards your left elbow, then alternate sides and bend your right knee to meet your right elbow
  3. Next, bend your left knee again and bring it to your outer left elbow. Repeat the same movement on your right side


Whats involved: abs,  gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, side and back hip muscles, hips.

  1. Lay on your side with your forearm flat on the floor, bottom elbow lined up directly under your shoulder and both legs extended out in a long line. Feet can either be staggered for more stability, or stacked for more of a challenge.
  2. Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor, forming a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold. Your top hand can be on side of hip (easier) or reaching up to the ceiling (harder).


Xoxo, AJ.

The Power of Affirmation

Hey! This has been a hell of a year. While January was the longest month I’ve ever had to endure, the rest of the year flew by. Spoiler alert: 2018 is almost over!!! Crazy! There have been so many memorable moments that filled this year, making it one of the best, honestly, the best year, in my entire life. Here’s a glimpse into my year, one month, and multiple hairstyles at a time.


Jan 1.2018 —The poorest I’d be in 2018.

2018 off the back, was filled with so many highs and lows. December 2017 was a hard one for me. God definitely had to be testing my patience because everything that could go wrong, did. Trying to be positive, I made sure to write out my 2018 affirmations and wrote a few letters to the moon.

I had high hopes of 2018. Uncertain of most things but I was in for the ride.

This was the month of pure hustle and making money was my number one priority. I had places I wanted to go to and I was dying to take my brand to a new level. Doing so involves money. Lots of it. People forget how expensive a non-traditional dream is. You have to front money to mold your business, hoping it will come full circle.

Up until this point, I was living pretty broke. After “most” bills were paid and adventures needed to keep my brand relevant, my bank account rarely read in three digits.

Understanding that we are the highest being and have the power to attract anything we want in life, I wrote a letter to the universe during the first full moon, and amongst other things, I stated that MONEY COMES FREQUENTLY AND ABUNDANTLY. After I kissed to seal the note, I tightly folded it up, found the right window to place it in and let the universe do its magic. That right there is where I can pinpoint a change. I also tried to stop thinking about money as an evil entity (people hate what they don’t have and nothing good comes out of hate).

Suddenly, before I knew it, I started making more money — lots of it actually, doing the same things I were doing prior. I’m not sure if the universe was like “pick your hustle game up” or just granted my wish, but money started popping out of nowhere. I meannnnn, I was working seven days of the week. At my job as a nanny, I demanded (nicely) to go on salary. This was my income for adult bills. You know, rent, car payment, insurance, etc. At my other job, to fund APRIL IN THE A, I worked at a bar weekend nights in Cabbagetown. There, I turned up my charm. $5 tips turned into $20 or $50 tips. Happy people attract happy money. 10 hour nights would go by in a blur and I would walk out with almost double than before. The way I thought about money changed. Using the concepts of Law of Attraction, I was able to attract more of what I wanted.. in this case..  more money.

Whether I was able to save it is a whole nother story. My Jeep ended up costing hundreds of dollars, and I had a sick cat who needed expensive medication and of course, random bills started popping out of thin air. But I was able to understand that money comes, money goes and if you allow it, it will come back FREQUENTLY… Again and again!

I stopped embarrassingly asking my dad for $50 to get me through a week of groceries as my bank statements soon were suddenly able to reach the four-digit mark! While the rest of my January was long endurement, filled with other insane highs and lows, at least I was making money.


 And this was the beginning of a successful year full of abundance. #werkwerktwerk.