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• Christmas is Coming! • Passing on Christmas Traditions through Generations • Where to Enjoy Christmas in Jamaica • Recipe Corner: Candy Cane Cookies • Ackee Beverage Recipes for the Festive Season • 4 Similar Jamaican & Swiss Christmas Traditions • 5 Brilliant Books to Cosy Up with this Christmas • Books by Black & Jamaican Authors You Might Love • Why You Should Buy Jamaican This Christmas • Buy Jamaican: Local Business Contacts • LOCAL DISCOUNTS!!! • How Travelling Can Promote Self-Improvement

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“ ingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh”. If it sounds like a Christmas carol that’s because it is. Whether the goose gets fat or not, even in Jamaica one can tell that Christmas is coming because the temperature has begun to change; you can feel it. The sway of the rustling trees by the lovely breeze, the gentle caress of your face by the wind – you begin to feel carefree and jolly. It is getting cooler, and pretty soon, by my standard, it is given the illusion of a freezingcold atmosphere. And if these signals were to be missed, merchants are making sure that the overt messages are sent through their attentiongrabbing advertising of products and services.

Christmas Memories

Memories of anticipation are flooding my mind. Like a kid in a candy store, I recall how, with bated breath, I anxiously looked forward to the fresh and fragrant food and quality time spent with family. As Christmas drew nigh, I had little desire for sleep. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Most of all, like every little girl did, I always wanted to get the most exciting gift, a doll. Sometimes that wish came through, other times it didn’t. On the occasions when it didn’t, I couldn’t help but wonder in what ways was I being naughty instead of nice.


Speaking of being naughty, those masquerade/jonkonnu that appeared in colourful costumes and grotesque masks terrified me. Makes me wonder now, were those scary creatures sent as punishment because I was being naughty? Nonetheless, I looked forward to dashing from my yard to the road side at the sound of the drums which signaled these creatures were close by.

Grand Market

This was truly grand. In the little town of Highgate where I grew up, the hustle and bustle of every street corner and the jam-packed streets told the story that it was Christmas. Motorists expertly maneuvered the combination

of vendors with handcarts and tarpaulin on the ground. Shoppers meandered through the town abuzz with excitement. The glittering toys, craft, gift items, produce from the farm, and all you could ever need to complete your festivities beckoned to gain your attention. Music of a festive nature punctuated the atmosphere, alluring you to spend your last dollar. After all, it is Christmas and it comes but once a year.

True Meaning of Christmas

And on the morning of Christmas, grandparents woke you up in the wee hours when it was still cold to attend church. Those were the days, and many of these traditions still exist today! My family didn’t have much. In fact, I don’t recall us ever having a Christmas tree. Because of this, I’ve never had the desire to have one even in my adult life. Our meals were simple, they never included the stapled ham. One thing I can remember though is that we were happy. This leads me to a very poignant point - Christmas is about celebration. The central focus is Jesus Christ, the reason for the season. It is when we get together with family to share good times. It is a time when we must extend our love to those around us, especially those who aren’t as fortunate as we are to have loved ones around and a lovely meal.

10 Ways to Spread Cheer

As you contemplate what to do as the season draws near and go about preparing for the festivities, here are 10 things you can do to do spread the feeling of love and joy with those in your lives: 1. Go to church on Christmas morning, sing and enjoy the carols on top of your voice. 2. Send those relatives and friends abroad who won’t make it home some locally-made greeting cards, it will warm their hearts. 3. Amidst the prevalence of social media, go the traditional route of making a telephone call to that special friend or relative who won’t make it home. 4. On Christmas morning, ensure you have some local Christmas music

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

CDs or turn the radio on to one of the traditional stations. Exchange hand-crafted gifts with those that are close to you. Turn your hospitality up a notch and invite an elderly neighbour to have a meal with you and your family. Redecorate your home even if you won’t have festive ornaments. Create a family recipe with ‘secret’ ingredients. Send a friend a hand-written note to say thank you for being good to you all year. Most importantly, make memories and record them in a diary. Have a Merry Christmas and an awesome 2018!

MEET THE AUTHOR Heneka Watkis-Porter is a serial-entrepreneur, cultural ambassador, sociologist, author, speaker, fashion designer and podcaster. She wakes up every day with a grateful heart as she lives her purpose of “life transformation through inspiration”. She is the leading lady behind The Entrepreneurial You podcast and Patwa Culcha International, the company that owns the authentic Jamaica clothing brand, Patwa Apparel. Heneka is also the creator of the Caribbean’s first Virtual Conference and Expo - The Entrepreneurial You Virtual SME Conference & Expo. The Entrepreneurial You podcast is for passionate and dedicated Caribbean entrepreneurs seeking inspiration. Each week a global high impact entrepreneur is featured to motivate and inspire a community of Peak Performers.



What are some of the memories you have at Christmastime with your

family? If the season stirs happy memories within you consider yourself blessed and remember to share it with the upcoming generation. It almost seems that as the season becomes more commercialized each year and less about the reason, we’re losing all our Jamaican traditions. I wanted to inspire you to remember why you loved the holidays as a child and to keep the traditions going for the little ones in your life. I grew up in humble beginnings and one of my favourite memories of Christmas as a child was taking a ride on the bus at night throughout the city to see all the lights on people’s homes. It was gorgeous to see the pretty pepper lights hanging on windows and from trees and it lit up my little child-like world. It saddens me a little that pepper lights seem scarcer each year at Christmas time. Ever since I had a child, it became important to me to keep Christmas traditions alive to create lasting memories with her. I wanted to pass on the same sense of family I knew Christmas to be. Sometimes we forget the reason we come together at Christmas time. I’ve put together a list of activities that you can engage the little ones in your family in this season to help keep the Christmas spirit strong. Pass on these Jamaican traditions and create your own to form lasting memories each year.

Sorrel & Jamaican Christmas Cake

Of course no Christmas dinner is complete without some sorrel and a piece of Christmas cake. It feels like everybody is selling Christmas cake these days and the new tradition is to bring home a few from PriceSmart. My little one loves to help me in the kitchen so although I boast no baking skills, I like to give it a shot each year. We look up a recipe online and follow it to see what we come out with. It’s not always Christmas dinner worthy and quite often doesn’t even last ‘til then but we bond over baking and it’s something we both look forward to each year. Maybe one day she’ll learn to bake much better than her momma and take over this tradition.

The same goes for sorrel. It wasn’t ever something I had to worry about as I would just wait for grandma’s batch to be ready. With no grandma around anymore to make her famous recipe, we got used to daddy’s version. Sorrel isn’t a favourite of mine and I didn’t expect her to like it either since it’s spiced with ginger but she loves it! I get by with a toops of white rum in mine.

Lighting Up the Christmas Tree

You know by now that I love my pepper lights. It creates a magic in the air and puts a sparkle in a child’s eye. When I was a child my father would always take me to purchase a live tree out by the plazas in Half Way Tree and light it up with pepper lights and foil tinsel. I carry on this tradition with my own little munchkin. Something about the aroma of the live tree in the house just connects with Christmas. I took this tradition and made it our own by starting to collect Christmas ornaments from our travels around the world. We have a ball from the British Virgin Islands, and I had a little Lady Liberty from New York where she was born. Now I realize we have no Jamaican ornament and will be sure to correct that this year. It will be fun to see our tree filled with mementos of our travels as she gets older and we travel to more and more places.

Visiting Family in the Country

A country trip at Christmas time is a must to see family we see far too little. She gets a chance to spend time with her cousins and play and break bread. We also try to take a trip to a Jamaican attraction because we must remember that people pay “nuff” money to travel here and enjoy what we have in our backyard.

Fireworks on the Waterfront

Going down to Harbour Street to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve is something that we started together and continue each year. When she was a baby it frightened her but now she’s used to the loudness of the fireworks and loves to watch the display. I’ve always loved the sense of community out on the waterfront.

We go early to get a parking spot but as it gets closer to midnight and parking spaces fill up, people just park in the streets, turn on their car radios and share in the joy of the season. Jamaica nice eeh man! What are some of the traditions you remember from childhood? Make sure to pass them on to your children, nieces, nephews and godchildren this year.

Meet The Author

Monique Solomon is a Jamaican blogger writing at Irie Diva about fashion, beauty and Jamaican lifestyle. She believes that happiness is an inside job and writes from a place of inspiration with a touch of wild-child fun.


Close your eyes and imagine… Imagine you head to your favourite mall

and it’s adorned with twinkling lights, massive crowds and Christmas spirit. This is only a fraction of how Grand Market makes you feel. In December, Christmas is the Christian Holiday most have grown to enjoy. With the season comes a lot of festivities, and with that, everyone is trying to make a profit out of it. In Jamaica, you can tell when the Christmas spirit comes to town. First you’ll hear the old Christmas advertisements on the radio, the same ones they have been playing since I was a child. One you will surely hear is an ad with a remix of the well-known Jamaican Christmas carol, “Christmas Ah Come” by The Jolly Boys. Every society has their customs, and I will be sharing a few Christmas traditions that are uniquely Jamaican. This holiday may be one of the most commercialized, but everyone benefits from it; the supermarkets sell more food, stores make more money, and persons are happy for receiving gifts. By the time you see this article some of these events would have already passed, but I’d still like to share them with you, you can prepare for next year.

Popular Exhibitions & Concerts

Some annual events I look forward to during the festive season are: • A Jamaican Made Christmas – A pop-up arcade of Jamaican brands that happens the last weekend in November. • Market at the Lawn – A pop-up shop featuring Jamaican brands that happens at Devon House. It is the first three Sundays in December. • Tarrus Riley and Friends – A free concert that happens on the Tuesday or Thursday before Christmas at Emancipation Park. • Major Lazer & Friends – A popular concert headlined by Major Lazer was first held here in December 2013, then turned annual.

Grand Market

As a child I would look forward to Grand Market, I still look forward to it, just a bit less because now I spend my own money. Grand Market is what I would call shopping on Christmas Eve, it is kept at shopping centres and malls across the island. What gives it the name Grand Market though, is that around these shopping areas, small vendors come out as well, selling

items on the streets, turning the entire area into a market. The vendors sell everything, from a pin to an anchor, and they do get sales because often times they have prices lower than in the stores. Other vendors sell food items such as jerk chicken, soup, boiled corn, and cooked crabs. I’m a Kingstonian, and the two most popular grand markets that I know are in Downtown and Half Way Tree. Grand Market runs from the stores open straight into Christmas Morning, you would think people would get their shopping done early. A downside to this is the massive crowd, you have to exercise your patience because there are so many people. I appreciate this setting because it’s an event to have fun, people come out with their friends and family and buy gifts or simply window shop and have a good time. A fond memory of mine is getting home from Grand Market and running to different corners of the house to wrap gifts I’d just bought.

Christmas Day Activities

On Christmas day a lot of persons would go to church first thing in the morning to celebrate the real reason for the season. The day then goes on as any other day would, but with a lot of cooking. Christmas in Jamaica is like Thanksgiving in the United States, our Christmas dinner usually consists of many different meats and sides. This all depends on the household, the meats you decide to make would be of your preference, and would consider how many people would be at dinner. Some popular dishes people make are mannish water or fish tea as an appetite opener, curry mutton, ham with a sorrel glaze, fried chicken, fish, fricassee chicken, rice and peas or gungo rice and peas as the meal. Some sides could be baked mac and cheese (my favourite), potato salad, vegetable salad, and fried plantains. Now for the delicacies - sorrel drink and Christmas cake, which is what we call fruit cake. I must admit, sorrel may be my favourite part of the Christmas season, I love it, especially when it has an extra bit of white rum in it.

Another favourite is the leftovers, we’ll be having those nice food selections for the three or four days following Christmas. I hope my article didn’t make you too hungry but made you look forward to the upcoming holiday. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, when it comes.

Meet The Author

Rashida Grant, also known as Shida, is the creative director at 876Lover. She’s an 876 lover, that is someone who is a lover of Jamaica. On this blog you will find pieces that fall under the cultural aspect of Jamaica; such as music reviews, event reviews, and promotion of Jamaican products. On 876Lover she brings a piece of Jamaica to the world.




A cozy space ideal for business and leisure travelers, this three bedroom villa boasts modern styling and a tranquil, seaside vibe. Turquoise Dreams is centrally located in the coastal town of Runaway Bay, nearby to major airports, beaches, authentic Jamaican cuisine, shopping areas and other attractions in Ocho Rios. Other amenities include Wi-Fi, comfy air conditioned rooms and a stylish kitchenette. Airport transfer and car rental packages are also available.

Make Turquoise Dreams your home away from home!



Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients • 1/2 cup shortening • 1/2 cup unsalted butter • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar • 1 egg • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional) • 1 tsp. vanilla extract • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour • 3/4 tsp. salt • 1/2 tsp. red food coloring • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy or candy canes (about 20 mini candy canes or 8 regular-sized) • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


For the Peppermint Sprinkle Topping: Combine crushed candy canes and granulated sugar. Set aside. For the Cookies: 1. Mix shortening, butter, and confectioners’ sugar until well combined. 2. Add egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract; combine well. 3. Mix in flour and salt. 4. Divide dough into two equal portions. 5. Place one portion in a bowl, mix red food coloring into the remaining portion. 6. Take about a 1” ball of each color of dough and roll each into a 4” strip. 7. Lay the strips side-by-side and then twist together. 8. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and curve the top to make the strips look like a candy cane shape. 9. Repeat with remaining dough. 10. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 - 9 minutes, until cookies are set and just barely beginning to get a bit of golden brown on the bottom.

11. Place wax paper under a cooling rank. Carefully remove hot cookies from the pan and place on the cooling rack. 12. Immediately, while cookies are still hot, sprinkle generously with Peppermint Sprinkle Topping. Let cool on rack.


• There truly is no leavener in this recipe. • DO NOT chill the dough. It’s needs to be very soft and pliable to be able to roll and shape it into candy canes. • It’s important to sprinkle the Peppermint Sprinkle Topping on the cookies immediately upon taking them out of the oven so it will stick and sort of ‘melt’ onto the cookies. If the cookies have cooled too much, it will just fall off. • These can be made ahead and frozen. A single layer works best, or very gently place wax paper between layers. Enjoy!

Meet The Author

Renee Saunders is the dessert specialist of Ren’s Bake N Bites. Decadent desserts, including vegan and gluten-free options are done to order to provide a little bliss in every bite! Delivery available.




Ackee Hot Chocolate 4 Servings - 5oz cups

Ingredients • 1 1/2 cups Milk • 1/2 cup Parboiled / Canned Ackee • 4oz White Chocolate (Good quality bar, not chips for baking) • 1 tsp Cornstarch (Optional) • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Optional: Marshmallows for garnish and splash of liquor (dark rum, creme de menthe, coconut rum or coffee liqueur) if desired.

Method 1. Blend ackee till completely smooth (alternately, pass through a fine sieve) 2. Reserve a little of the milk to mix the cornstarch with (if using); pour the rest of the milk along with the blended ackee into a saucepan and place over medium heat. 3. When the ackee mixture begins to simmer, whisk together cornstarch and reserved milk then add to the ackee in the saucepan, stirring until slightly thickened. 4. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, whisk until chocolate melts completely, then add vanilla. 5. Pour into cups and serve warm. 6. Top with marshmallows and/or add a splash of liquor if desired

AckeeNog 6 servings - 6oz cups

Ingredients • 1/2 cup Parboiled / Canned Ackee • 1 cup Sugar • 2 cups Soy milk (Unsweetened vanilla or plain) • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk • 2 tbsps Arrowroot (optional) • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract • 1/4 cup Brandy • 1/4 cup White Rum • 1/4 cup Spiced Rum • Splash Angostura Bitters • Pinch Salt • Nutmeg & Cinnamon, to taste This drink is lighter in body than its egg rich inspiration. Using the arrowroot will give a more full bodied mouthfeel if that is desired.

Method (with arrowroot) 1. Blend ackee and sugar together till completely smooth. 2. Whisk together the arrowroot with just bit of water and set aside 3. Pour the blended ackee, soy and coconut milk into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. 4. Bring up to a simmer then add the arrowroot mix.

5. Cook for a minute or two until the mixture thickens slightly but do not boil too long because the arrowroot will lose its thickening power. 6. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. 7. Strain into a glass pitcher and chill at least overnight (it will develop a better flavour the longer it sits). 8. When ready to serve pour into glasses and grate more nutmeg over top. Note: Can be served warm

Method (no arrowroot) 1. Blend ackee and sugar together till completely smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend again. 2. Strain into a glass pitcher and chill at least overnight (it will develop a better flavour the longer it sits). 3. When ready to serve pour into glasses and grate more nutmeg over the top. Note: Can be served warm

Ackee Ponche de Creme 8 servings - 7oz cups

Ingredients • 1 cup Parboiled / Canned Ackee • 1 can Condensed Milk • 1 can Evaporated Milk • 2 cups Golden Rum • A couple dashes Angostura Bitters • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Method 1. Blend all the ingredients till completely smooth. 2. Strain into a glass pitcher and chill at least overnight (it will develop a better flavour the longer it sits). 3. To serve, pour into chilled glasses over ice and grate more nutmeg over top if desired or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Meet the Author Chantal Thomas is the creative culinary enthusiast behind Amazing Ackee, a website dedicated to unique dishes with ackee as the main ingredient. Ackee is Jamaica’s national fruit, with ackee & saltfish as the national dish and a local favourite. Unfortunately, because improperly harvested and prepared ackee is poisonous, it has garnered a notorious reputation. Feeling as if ackee has been unfairly treated and demonised, Chantal chose the descriptor ‘amazing’, to have a positive association with this incredible fruit. Her hope is to provide numerous intriguing recipes that will inspire you to try ackee in a new way.






Living in Switzerland certainly comes with its share of culture shock for

any Jamaican. When it rolls around to the winter season those differences are even more obvious (which Jamaican you know love the cold?) One thing though that cheers up the drab wintry weather are the Christmas celebrations. Somehow you’d think that Christmas in Switzerland would be worlds apart from one in Jamaica, right? Well, you’d be fascinated to know that both Jamaica and Switzerland do share some similar Christmas traditions. Here are 4 of the most notable:

Christmas Markets

One of the most exciting parts of growing up as a Jamaican kid at Christmas time was getting to go to the Grand Market in town. The bountiful displays of clothes, toys, candy, food and other goods by vendors is something that would have any child or adult feel excited about the Christmas season. To my inner Jamaican kid’s delight, I learned that the Swiss also practice a similar tradition. Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) is a Swiss Christmas tradition that begins 4 weeks before the actual Christmas day. Vendors set up shop in the city’s center to display goods of varying sorts ranging from handmade wooden toys and candles to jewelry. I feel as giddy as a school kid walking through these rows of stalls viewing all the beautiful items on sale. Oh, and let’s not forget the variety of food stalls that offer delicious Swiss Christmas food!

Weihnachtsmarkt in Switzerland

Christmas Drinks: Sorrel & Glühwein Is Christmas even happening in Jamaica if there’s no sorrel? Nope! Sorrel to Jamaicans is like Glühwein is to the Swiss. Christmas isn’t happening if you’re not outside with a group of friends enjoying this warm alcoholic beverage!

What is Glühwein? It’s a special spiced wine that is warmed and typically served with a slice of orange inside. For a Jamaican, what better way to warm up in the cold sub temperatures? What’s even stranger is Glühwein’s uncanny flavour similarity to Jamaican Christmas fruit cake. Apparently, the wine uses similar spices as the popular Jamaican cake, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Roselle or as Jamaicans call it “Sorrel” is the main ingredient of Jamaica’s popular Christmas drink

Warm pot of Glühwein

Gifting Baked Goods

Jamaican kitchens at Christmas time are overwhelmed with the wonderful scent of fruit cake. This delicious pastry is often given to neighbours, friends and family as gifts. However, Jamaicans aren’t the only ones baking up a Christmas storm in the kitchen. Each year the Swiss family bakes batches upon batches of varying types of Christmas cookies. These cookies are given to family and friends as a friendly gesture in the Christmas season. Admit it, there’s nothing sweeter than a pastry-filled Christmas!

Jamaican Chirstmas Cake

Swiss Traditional Christmas cookies

Christmas Mass

As most of us know, Jamaica is a God-fearing nation. I mean, how else would you justify having the most churches per square mile in the world? So, it’s without question that for most Jamaicans, attending church mass on Christmas Eve is essential for ringing in Christ’s birthday. Switzerland too, is deeply rooted in Christian faith and as such they too celebrate Christmas by attending church on Christmas day.


The Swiss Freis is a fun, light-hearted travel, culture and lifestyle blog created by photographer Toni-Ann Owens. Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica but currently living in St. Gallen, Switzerland, she created this blog to share her first-hand inter-cultural experiences gained from her move to Europe. The Swiss Freis welcomes anyone experiencing wanderlust to join this cultural journey all from the unique perspective of a young Jamaican woman.





The year 2017 is quickly coming to an end. The weather is becoming

cooler and the nights are getting longer. It’s official! The cosiest time of the year has arrived. The season for spending time with loved ones, eating fruit cake, watching Christmas movies, attending endless parties, the exchange of presents and maybe even your seasonal church attendance is in order. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Christmas season is upon us. I’ve been a bibliophile for as long as I can remember. I love the smell of a new book, the gentle touch of turning a page and the brilliant adventure I go on once I begin the story. One of my favourite times to read has always been during my Christmas holidays. A cool Christmas night always feels like the perfect time to read. You feel warm, snug and cosy up in your most relaxing chair or under comfortable sheets. Then you add a relaxing cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea, and you’re setting the mood for the perfect read. Sure the holiday festivities may be escaping you. You may be missing that party where you would wear an outfit less than conducive to warmth or forcibly having mild-mannered conversations with people you may not be that interested in while trying to liven your mood with some drinks. Or maybe you could binge watch some Netflix and catch-up on shows you missed earlier in the year, but think of your bed. Imagine being warm and nuzzled under your blankets and immersing yourself in a good story. There were so many books that we never had the time to read during the rest of the year. Spring, summer and fall all came and went and not one book off of your reading list has been crossed off. Take advantage of the excuse the Christmas weather is giving you to stay inside, sip some hot chocolate or wine if you prefer, and catch up on all of those titles you swear you’ve been meaning to get to, but never had a chance to. Listed below are some amazing books which I think would be perfect to stay in and snuggle up with on a cool, Christmas day.


Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding

I’m sure by now that most, if not all of us, have seen the movie ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ starring Renee Zellweger. A cult classic in its own right, this movie is an amazing portrayal of all the things that would be perfect if only… But I’ve always found the books to be better. Although, the film does a great job, there’s just something so serene about reading the story as it was meant to be experienced. This cosy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is just the relaxing Christmas read to warm you up.

Year of Yes

by Shonda Rhimes 2. Shonda Rhimes is one of the most influential women in Hollywood right now. With mega hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder under her belt, this woman has been a force to be reckoned with in the TV world. Welcome to Shondaland, where anyone can and will be killed at the most unexpected moments! But even the greatest and most talented among us can have fears. Even those we believe have it all can have doubts. That was how Shonda felt until she took on a challenge which not only changed but improved her life for the better. She decided that she would say yes to everything that scared her. The book ‘Year of Yes’ is a perfect cuddle buddy this Christmas and has just right amount of umph to give that surge of motivation we need in the new year. This book inspires you and provides you with great instruction for the year to come. 3.

Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne tha god

Controversial radio host and member of the Breakfast Club trio, Charlamagne tha god, has written what I believe to be one the best books I’ve read this year. For those of you who are familiar with Charlamagne, it may be a little hard to imagine that he could’ve written something so motivating that it has a 4.3 / 5 rating on Goodreads, but he has. Shameless, blunt and honest, he openly and unapologetically discusses how

he went from a smart bookworm to class clown to criminal and high school dropout, then finally climbed out of the gutters to become one of radio’s top personalities. This book is a cross between a hilarious and downright laugh out loud side in stitches memoir of his life and a brilliantly written guide to self-improvement. This book is a great motivational book that I think everyone should read for that little inspiration you need to make great changes in the New Year. 4. & 5.

The Royal Treatment and The Royal Wedding by Melanie Summers

This two-part book series dubbed A Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy by the author were two of my absolute favourite books this year! What happens when two mortal enemies on opposite sides of the crown are forced to live together for 2 months? Disaster, mayhem, and pure comedy. They fully consumed me and I found it really hard to put them down. If you’re looking for 2 real page turners and you’re a lover of the contemporary romance genre, or if you’re just looking for 2 ridiculously funny, laugh out loud, leave you in stitches kind of books, then I implore you to grab your copies of these books. They are the perfect books to curl up with and immerse yourself in this Christmas. Hopefully, this short but sweet reading list will inspire you to pick up a great book for your holiday reading.

Meet The Author

Hi I’m Nella. A 20-something hailing from the beautiful island of Jamaica. As Told By Nella serves as my space of exploration in my interests outside of my usually day job. My blogging style is such that I want you to feel like a friend is telling you about a new product, location or item that they know you’d love.

books By BLACK & JAMAICAN AUTHORS You might love

Black authors have been doing an amazing job with writing compelling

stories across genres! You might want to check these books out:


by Tiffany D. Jackson Description She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say. Genre Mystery, Realistic Fiction Recommended for: Young adults and adults. Anyone in the mood for a dark, gritty and disturbing novel.

Binti Series

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor Home by Nnedi Okorafor Description Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy.

Genre Science Fiction, Fantasy, Novella Recommended for: This is perfect for those wanting a smaller read. These are jam-packed with wonderful sci-fi and fantasy elements without being the size of an encyclopedia.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Description Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostlywhite private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls, from “bad” neighborhoods. But Jade doesn’t need support, and just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. Maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference. Genre Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Recommended for: People who can relate to or who could never understand the real struggles of an ambitious, hard-working poor black girl. A riveting, well-written story!

Heavy Crowns by Anna Corniffe

Description Heavy Crowns is the work of a young woman trying to make sense of the many boulders on her back and why some of them feel more like home than home itself. This is a journey and a peek into the confines of a mind that is still trying to understand the spectrum of what it is to be human. To feel less than human. To feel more than human. Heavy Crowns is an attempt to shine light on voiceless atrocities and applaud underrated strength and beauty. Genre Poetry Recommended for: Any lovers of poetry!

A Jamaican Christmas with Jamaican Authors

The best way to enjoy your Christmas holiday is with some authors from right yah suh!

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Description On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Genre Historical Fiction, Mystery, Literary Fiction Recommended for: Anyone who wants to read about the Jamaican reggae icon, Bob Marley and explore the attempted assassination in the late 1970s.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

Description It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognized a dark power that they and she will come to both revere and fear. Genre Historical Fiction Recommended for: Fans of Marlon James and his amazing storytelling skills and anyone ready to read a sweeping story of plantation life and all its harrowing aspects.


by Yrsa Daley-Ward Description From navigating the oft competing worlds of religion and desire, to balancing society’s expectations with the raw experience of being a woman in the world; from detailing the experiences of growing up as a first generation black British woman, to working through situations of dependence and abuse; from finding solace in the echoing caverns of depression and loss, to exploring

the vulnerability and redemption in falling in love, each of the raw and immediate poems in Daley-Ward’s bone resonate to the core of what it means to be human. Genre Poetry Recommended for: Any lovers of poetry!

The Last Warner Women by Kei Miller

Description Adamine Bustamante is born in one of Jamaica’s last leper colonies. When Adamine grows up, she discovers she has the gift of “warning”: the power to protect, inspire, and terrify. But when she is sent to live in England, her prophecies of impending disaster are met with a different kind of fear—people think she is insane and lock her away in a mental hospital. Now an older woman, the spirited Adamine wants to tell her story. But she must wrestle for the truth with the mysterious “Mr. Writer Man,” who has a tale of his own to share, one that will cast Adamine’s life in an entirely new light. Genre Magical Realism, Historical Fiction Recommended for: Anyone looking for a Jamaican tale filled with magic, migration and all the ways to tell a story.

MEET THE AUTHOR Kerine Wint is a Jamaican book blogger and bookstagrammer of Self-Written ExposÊ. She aims to get more Jamaicans to love reading and to show authors and publishers that there is a market here for all types of books as there are plenty of readers willing and waiting. She is using her platform to show people that there’s a book out there for them to not only get lost in but also to find more of themselves on their way back out.



I make it my point of duty to buy Jamaican. At first it started out as

patronage as there are so few Jamaican-made products on the shelves. I feel a sense of pride that I am supporting a local, home-grown entrepreneur. I soon discovered that the quality of the Jamaican products were far superior to those of the imported ones. At times, the price point is lower.

Start of the Buy Jamaica Campaign

The Buy Jamaica campaign started in the 1990’s with protectionist policies. During that time the government mandated that Jamaicans travelling abroad were allowed to take only USD $50.00. While that restriction didn’t have a lasting positive impact on the economy, it highlighted the need for proper policies and procedures be in place to support the Buy Jamaican movement. If we are to promote the idea that we should buy a product just because it is 100 percent Jamaican, then we could actually be doing ourselves a disservice by promoting low productivity and inefficiency. This is a very important point for us to understand as a country. Supporters of Buy Jamaica claim that some local-made products start off strong and then peter out a few months later. Products are hard to find, service standards fall, or products disappear altogether. So while the campaign was very good and necessary in the 1990’s, the truth is, it was never really supported with government policies that sustained a move towards consuming more Jamaican-made products and services. Due to the lack of policy stimulus, many local producers have not improved the service and product quality to properly compete with imported products.

Big Investment

In recent years, the campaign has received an injection of investment from National Commercial Bank (NCB). NCB has committed to the highest level of sponsorship of $12 million over three years. The total sponsorship is $37.5 million. This ties into the bank’s moniker, “Building a Better Jamaica.”

“We should choose to buy Jamaican, because it is quality goods made in Jamaica, by Jamaicans, for us to consume, not merely because of sentimentality” Omar Azan, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association said at the third roll out of the Buy Jamaica campaign. He also endorsed the view that buying Jamaican also creates jobs and builds the economy. The third staging of the Buy Jamaican campaign will feature activities including a Buy Jamaican Shopping weekend and a Buy Jamaicaa-thon. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of locallymanufactured products and services which should lead to an increase in sales and revenue for Jamaican businesses. Some popular Jamaican hotels include Pegasus, Knutsford Court, Spanish Court, - which has done very well as boutique hotel - and Terra Nova, though they’re not 100 percent Jamaican, they have high standards. Fontana Pharmacy stocks a wide variety of local products in their beauty aisles, and they rival the imported heavy weights.

Why to Buy Jamaican

It is in Jamaica’s best financial interest to reduce our dependence on imports and increase our consumption of local products and services to become a more export driven nation. The more we support our own products, the more revenue our government will receive to implement socioeconomic programmes to improve employment opportunities, education, health and infrastructure. It is a two-way street between government policies and the entrepreneur; it is the proverbial chicken or the egg conundrum. Inhibitors are lack of information and inability to move goods effectively. Many farm roads are in deplorable conditions and lack proper irrigation. If we are to grow the economy at acceptable levels, then we must increase the number of Jamaican products and services. This, however, must be done competitively if we are to benefit. The road to Jamaica’s economic recovery doesn’t have to be that long. If we are to grow the economy to acceptable levels, then we must increase the number of Jamaican products and services in a competitive manner, if we are to benefit.

MEET THE AUTHOR Award-winning writer/filmmaker behind Eat,Pray,Stay for Days, Diana O’Gilvie’s work is driven by her global curiosity and distinctive approach to authentic storytelling. Armed with a Master’s Degree (L.I.U) in Media Arts and Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism (York College) Diana has successfully comingled this academic knowledge with international independent film experience, travel writing and photography.



Between D’ Folds Phone: (876)384-8593 Email: betweendfolds@gmail.com

Chateau Belle

Address: Smokeyvale, Kingston Phone: (876) 432-7227


Phone: (876) 375-8760 Email: cr8tiviti@gmail.com

Di Market Lady

Phone: (876) 517-9385 Email: Dimarketlady@gmail.com

I Love Sweetness Phone: (876) 519-9671 Email: info@ilovesweetness.com

Ishack Wilmot Photography Phone: (876)869-8273 Email: oneishackwilmot@gmail.com

Jahsans Bands

Phone: (876) 396-9373 Email: jahsansbands@gmail.com

Kehs Kenitra

Phone: (876) 501-3037 Email: kehskenitra@gmail.com

Kimba’s Au Naturale Phone: (876) 328-5992 Email: kimbasaunaturale@gmail.com

Kingston 21

Living Akashi Guesthouses Address: Rio Grande, Portland Email: JhunelleJ@simplylocal.life (discount!)

Mema Designed

Phone: (876) 540-8604 Email: memadesigned@gmail.com

Oceans on the Ridge Address: Shaw Park, Ocho Rios Phone: (876) 974-6290

Patwa Apparel

Phone: (876) 906-7461 Email: info@patwaapparel.com

Sashi’s Treats

Email: sashistreats@gmail.com

Turquoise Dreams Phone: (876) 441-0410 Email: williams_patrice@live.com


What You’re Getting

The Land of Oshun is the home of the Living Akashi Guesthouses on a private islet on the Rio Grande in Portland. Enjoy all-around unspoiled landscape, waterfalls & mineral pools, delicious abundant vegan food, yoga and more. Reset with a day visit for only $5000JMD or an overnight stay for only $10,000 JMD per person.

Coupon Terms & Conditions Request a day visit or overnight stay by emailing JhunelleJ@simplylocal.life in order to claim this discount. These special prices are available for dates from December 2017 - January 2018.

What You’re Getting Oceans on the Ridge offers delicious meals, refreshing cocktails, and a panoramic view of the city of Ocho Rios.

Coupon Terms & Conditions Get 10% off your bill when you mention that you were referred by SimplyLocal.life! It’s that easy.

What You’re Getting Mema Designed is inspired by life and just about anything that catches the eye, this is then translated into all that is Mema. Get a discount on gypsy earrings (regular and bling) to add statement to your look.

Coupon Terms & Conditions Show or mention this coupon when making your gypsy earring order to claim this deal. This coupon is only valid for December 2017.

DISCOUNTS!!! What You’re Getting Kingston 21 offers a range of t-shirts and caps ideal for the Jamaican-born, foreign-raised. Fill your cart with comfy, trendy designs by a young Jamaican entrepreneur.

Coupon Terms & Conditions Use discount code JX25J during checkout to get FREE shipping on your order.

What You’re Getting Chateau Belle is a cosy bed & breakfast in Smokeyvale, Kingston. Book a space for up to 4 people for only $7500 JMD in total, inclusive of a delicious breakfast. Perched on a hill, you can enjoy the view of the city and the sun rising and setting behind the mountains.

Coupon Terms & Conditions Request an overnight stay or an event rental space by emailing JhunelleJ@simplylocal.life in order to claim this discount.



Many persons view travelling mainly as a leisure or business activity,

but those who choose to see beyond that view use travelling as a means to discover pieces of themselves. For me, the travel bug bit in late 2015 which followed with a wish list of local sites to visit. In 2016, the personal habit of enjoying new places and experiences as often as circumstances allowed began. Unrelated yet coincidentally, since 2016 I’ve also ventured overseas a number of times, after not departing Jamaica for a few years. Regular outings have directly and indirectly provided opportunities for me and improved life in a number of ways, it can do the same for you too! Your budget doesn’t have to be big (trust me!) to explore new places consistently. Here are some ways that travel can add quality to your life and your person:


We take vacations to break away from day-to-day routine and revitalize ourselves. It’s not unusual to plan a vacation 1 – 3 times per year, but a lot of us would prefer to re-energize more than every 4 – 12 months, nuh true? Firstly, stop viewing vacations as faraway lands for extensive periods of time. Well-spent day and weekend visits at local spots can be fulfilling as well, sometimes even more so than your usual getaways. Take the time to find relaxation and enjoyment at an attraction near you, it could just be the break you need right now.

Meet New People

You’re likely to come across people of various backgrounds and cultures when visiting anywhere, but more likely at somewhere new. It is a firm belief of mine that everyone has something to teach you. Spending time to get acquainted with a new person can be valuable, whether by providing you with a new perspective, teaching a lesson, creating a mutually-beneficial relationship, or connecting you to other valuable people. Hellos don’t hurt, see what grows from there.

Try New Things

When at a place where an opportunity falls into your lap, sometimes

unexpectedly, you’re more likely to try it in the moment. Whether it be for pride, accomplishment, or “just for the f#ck of it”, in more cases than none there’s satisfaction in trying. Not only are you crossing an item off of your experiences list, but also broadening horizons; do it.

Find Inspiration

Travelling can inspire you in unexpected ways. The moments that make you realize that the world has so much to offer tend to be some of the best times to appreciate the magic of life. Situating yourself in different environs can birth various inspiration types such as art forms, new thoughts, and newfound purpose.


Whether you’re travelling with a group, a significant other, or even solo, experiencing a new venture has a way of making one feel closer to something or someone. Not only can you bond with persons around you, but also with your surroundings. In my experience, the most memorable bonding times are usually a shared first-time experience for everyone or most persons involved. You may end up teaching, inspiring and relying on each other during an outing, and that can only encourage closeness.

Feel Accomplished

Find yourself conquering a fear or achieving a personal goal while travelling. One can be proud of themselves by pushing physical, mental and emotional limits, trying something you probably never thought you would’ve, or maybe planting a seed for future opportunities; you never know!

Appreciate the Environment

Interacting with nature and appreciating its beauty can inspire a desire to preserve the environment for generations and your future self to admire. I’m sure we’ve all noticed a dusty riverbed which was once a flowing majesty, or beautiful plants and trees besmirched by litter. If you have, think about how many more natural beauties will cease in comings years if we continue

abusing Mother Nature. Though you may believe your small action might not have a noticeable impact, remember that every mickle mek a muckle (every small deed counts). Also remember that spreading knowledge and inspiring others are great ways to broaden impact.


Teachers come in many forms, as do lessons. One could plan a trip and end up leaving with a lesson or two, many of the time unexpectedly. Many common lessons from excursions include learning about origins, significances, current happenings, and operations of a place and/or people. There are a lot of awesome low-priced and free experiences available, you just have to know where to find ‘em. Get some ideas for your travel list at www.SimplyLocal.life.


If you haven’t yet, here are some first-time experiences you should intend to have: • Hike to a natural treasure • Snorkeling • Visit a botanical garden • Ziplining • Visit an indigenous Village • Go vegan intently (even if just for 1 meal) • Visit a local art gallery / exhibition • Volunteer • Go to a local music concert / festival • Unplug and camp in the mountains or on a beach • Bond around a beach bonfire • Purchase products from a local market • Plant a tree and/or your own food

Meet The Author

Jhunelle J is the creator of SimplyLocal.life and this e-magazine. She is a full-time digital marketer and part-time tourist, exploring her home country one weekend at a time. The natural beauty of Jamaica, the warmth of its people, and the many gems it produces are a few traits that make her happy to live & experience here. Through SimplyLocal.life, she wishes to excite residents and tourists alike with affordable activities to do in Jamaica. Live. Love. Local.


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SimplyLocal.life: Christmas Jamaican Style  

Christmas in Jamaica as told by local bloggers + festive recipes, Jamaican-made products, exclusive local discounts & more!

SimplyLocal.life: Christmas Jamaican Style  

Christmas in Jamaica as told by local bloggers + festive recipes, Jamaican-made products, exclusive local discounts & more!


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