Shannon's Guide A guide to cool things Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:01:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ShiftCon 2016 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:47:17 +0000 Continued]]> Thank you for attending our session at ShiftCon 2016. Amy, Orleatha, and myself hope you were able to walk away with a few tips to live a greener lifestyle without breaking the bank. It’s sometimes difficult to stay on budget and keep the stress low while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but your body will thank you for it later.


Closing reception of #shiftcon w/ @awakenwithjp sponsored by @gardenoflife #shifthappens #followyournola

A photo posted by @CajunMama (@shannonlane) on

Below are some of the links I mentioned in the presentation. At the bottom is a link to previously published FREE information regarding travel writing and blogging.If you attended our presentation you were given the code to unlock this information.

Again, we hope you enjoyed our panel and thank you for your time. Be sure to check out 20 Dishes and Real Food Whole Health.

Maine’s Department of Agriculture provides a wonderful resource for finding local food and farms. While most state tourism sites offer basic travel information, I’ve found that some state agriculture departments are a step ahead in promoting farm to table living. Check out

Get Real Get Maine


Most cities have a tourism department or a CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) that provides visitor information. In addition to welcome centers, there are websites with listings of local events, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and attractions. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Alabama has a dedicated page for Farmer’s Markets in Huntsville. This is an example of what most CVB’s offer to assist you in planning your travels and finding fresh, local products to maintain your healthy lifestyle on the road.

Huntsville AL Farmers Markets


Besides Yelp and TripAdvisor, I enjoy researching what some of my eco-friendly blogging friends are writing about. Here’s a sampling of a few blogs that offer healthy and green travel information.

Get Green Be Well

Wander with Wonder

Green Global Travel


As promised, here is a link below to a list of valuable information introducing you to the world of travel writing and blogging. An updated revision of “The Definitive Guide to Travel Writing” will be available soon. Until then, happy and green travels to you!

How to Start a Travel Blog

Shiftcon Session


How to Help Louisiana Flood Victims Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:53:04 +0000 Continued]]> Many of my friends have been asking how they can help and know that they are directly assisting people in need during this Great Louisiana Flood of 2016. Instead of sending things off in a truck that will end up at a shelter, why not consider donating to or adopting one particular family in need? It begins one by one. South Louisiana and my home city of Baton Rouge are strong and resilient.

Aimee Strength

The families are busy trying to salvage what they can, removing moldy items, and hoping to get their homes habitable as soon as possible. When families have to take the time to source items from shelters and donation sites, it takes away valuable time necessary to save important items such as family photos and documents before complete ruin beyond restoration.

I’ve put together a list of friends and family I know personally who have been affected by this natural disaster. Here are a few of their stories and how to assist them directly…

Aimee Flood

Yaya Recovery Fund – A number of my dear friends have lost everything, and while they are in the process of cleaning and salvaging what they can, I’ve set up this donation button for anyone who wants to help a few mothers and their children. We’ll be splitting the funds evenly between them via their Paypal and purchasing necessary items to have them shipped directly. These women are so special to me. During the time of my own need last year, as I faced brain surgery, they gathered together in friendship to offer me their love and support.

Kim, a single mother of two

Yaya Kim's house in Pride, Louisiana

Yaya Kim’s house in Pride, Louisiana


Yaya Kim's daughter's toys flooded

Yaya Kim’s daughter’s toys flooded


Aimee's loss in the flood

Yaya Aimee’s Belongings


The Fry Family – I went to high school with the mom and dad of this family of 7. They are currently staying at my home while they try and salvage what is left of their home. They’ve lost almost everything. Please consider helping out this sweet family as they rebuild.

St. George Firefighter’s Flood Relief Fund – While many firefighters were on duty rescuing thousands, their families were at home with floodwaters rising. This is the fire department where I am employed and I have watched so many of my coworkers continue to work tirelessly to save people and they lost their own homes as well. In an effort to help these employees continue to protect the community, the off duty firefighters who still have homes have formed a group that goes around and tackled a few firefighter’s houses each day with recovery and salvage.

Miranda Weimer’s Family – I’ve been in the fire service for 22 years and have worked along side Miranda’s father, Dean Weimer.

Rick Portier – Rick is an Emmy Award winning videographer who lost his home while working the flood coverage. His wife managed to save his Emmy and two duffle bags of belongings before the water came up. You can reach out to him directly via his blog or WAFB the news station where he works. They are busy gutting their house and trying to rebuild yet he is still continuing to provide news coverage when he can.

Baton Rouge Food Bank – All the food in the food bank was contaminated in the floods and had to be thrown out.

There are many, many stories out there and I will update as I verify legitimacy. I will not be deleting spam comments on this post only to keep scammers from having an outlet. Feel free to email me if you’d like more information or would like to get in touch with me. I have limited internet access, so please be patient if you do not get an immediate response. Also, most churches in the cities of Zachary, Central, Baker, Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, and surrounding areas in Louisiana are helping those in their areas.

Contact Me


My Word for 2016 : LIVE Thu, 31 Dec 2015 16:37:41 +0000 Continued]]> Shannon's word for 2016

Laugh. Inspire. Vacation. Explore. Some of my favorite activities in life.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad to see 2015 put into that little box in my mind called The Past. 2015 is the year I truly grew up. I learned about love of family, real friendship, what lengths people will go for material things, and what life is really about. I faced death in a chaotic and beautiful way and realized what a miracle it is for each breath of this life we’re gifted with. I’ve cried and laughed, screamed and meditated. I’ve seen the best and the worst of people, and the best and worst of myself. I’ve experienced kindness from strangers and been let down by those I thought I could count on.

Life is a beautiful mess. An absolutely beautiful, stunning, fabulous, amazing mess.

No one is perfect. And I’ve learned I’m definitely no saint and not a martyr either. I’ve done my best in this life and have no regrets. Because every step I’ve taken has led me to right here. To right now. I’ve broken promises and I’ve had promises made to me broken. Yet I still managed to survive. I searched this country for answers, for a cure, for someone to fix me. And through those years of searching, it was just as in “The Alchemist”. I wasn’t ready to find the answers yet. I had to go on this journey alone only to find out the answer was right here all along.

And that’s one of the truths in life. When it comes your moment. No one can help you. No one can do it for you. You have to face all your fears yourself. You will have to face your mortality on your own.

Those years of my MRI’s watching this thing in my head slowly grow, and my visits to numerous hospitals to find some magic cure for my brain tumor, was just a distraction, a false feeling of control. I was enjoying life and taking things in stride, but no one saw the times I was alone, on my knees, either on the bathroom floor or in my closet just crying hysterically, asking that timeless question we all ask at a few points in our lives “why me?”

Why me, indeed. But after those moments of weakness, I would dry my tears, put on my big girl panties, and go back out into the world to enjoy the reality of knowing every little breath was precious. There is no price one can put on life. And time is something we can’t get more of. We cannot control how long or short we have here in this life.

And that’s when I began to see life through a different lens. It’s that lens that not everyone is fortunate enough to see through until later in their lives. I began to look back at what I’ve accomplished. What I failed at. What I finished and what was still incomplete. I always knew before the brain tumor that my life has been pretty darn spectacular. And filled with so much love. And as with all life, it ebbs and flows, keeping a balance. As good and wonderful as things can be, it in turn has its moments of the other end of the spectrum. I’ve been betrayed by those I trusted, and seen the ugly side of humans as well…..the greed, the jealousy, the selfishness. And it made my heart so sad as much as the beautiful made me happy.

Shannon brain surgery before

On July 16, 2015 is when I had that awakening moment of all moments. It was just before I was brought into the operating room for life saving brain surgery. I had been told the risks and that my time for waiting had run out. I had prepared myself for death. I had reviewed all those little moments in life, and what legacy, if any, I would leave behind. I was surrounded by loved ones from near and far. Prayers, good thoughts, and positive vibes were put out into the Universe in my name by friends and family all over this globe. I hugged my children one last time and then it was just myself and my husband for a brief moment. And I was okay. Until that last moment before the three to five hour surgery began. I was overcome with fear. I did not go gentle or graceful into what could be my last moment of consciousness. I felt this fight well up inside me from deep within my soul. And I began to sob “I’m not ready yet.”

I sobbed that same phrase over and over hysterically until they silenced my cries with anesthesia.

And just a short while later the surgeon called my family together. It had only been an hour and a half. My daughter began to cry thinking the worst had happened. Then the surgeon said the magic words “We removed the entire tumor. It was quite miraculous.”

In recovery I awoke in the ICU to see my loved ones. They came to visit in small groups, squeezing my hand, crying tears of joy. I was glad that was over. It was done. That fear had been faced. I had been given more time here.

Shannon Brain Surgery After

I guess I wasn’t ready to leave this life yet. I am not sure what will be next. Will I write about travel again? Will I create something totally different? Will I ever laugh completely open and free again? Will I find that little bit of sparkle that’s seemed to be dormant for so long? Will I be content to just be as I am? No matter what comes next, I’m glad I’m still here. And I’m ready to LIVE. Bring it on Sweet 2016!

Plans for 2016 #LookingForward #2ndlifeofshannon

A photo posted by @CajunMama (@shannonlane) on

National Champagne Day #ChampagneDay Fri, 25 Oct 2013 09:42:45 +0000 Continued]]> Champers. Bubbly. Both monikers for the epitome of that libation for celebrations – sparkling white wine from the Champagne region of France. Not all sparkling wines are Champagne. And today is National Champagne Day, to recognize this special, unique adult beverage that is bottled with high standards in the traditional way and differentiates itself from all other sparkling wines.


For me, I drink Champagne more often than not. I don’t wait for a wedding or a book deal to be signed. I celebrate the everyday: A special trip, an upgrade to Business Class on a flight, surviving a hurricane, or having a beautiful moment with someone dear to my heart.

Champagne at Houmas House Plantation

I also collect Champagne glasses from around the world. Sometimes I purchase them new, and other times I purchase them from antique or secondhand shops. I always wonder who the previous owner of the glass was and what did they celebrate when their glass was filled with this iconic bubbly beverage. Was it a wedding that lasted 50 years, or was it someone alone, contemplating life?

Shannon sipping Champagne

Today I shall open a bottle of true Champagne and toast life. I’ll celebrate the joys and the sorrows that have brought me to today, making me the person I am. I will celebrate having the strength to keep going when I sometimes wanted to drop to my knees and give up on everything. I will celebrate being a mother and having to make tough decisions, such as sacrificing my own happiness at times to make sure my children had what they needed to grow into the people they are today. I will even celebrate Mr. Miyagi, that life partner of mine that takes up a small place in my head, but such a big place in my soul. If anything, Mr. Miyagi has helped me gain wisdom on when to stay and when to walk away from things in life, no matter how hard the decision may be.

Today I celebrate being me.

The Vino Couch

It’s National Champagne Day. What will you celebrate?

Be sure to check out the Champagne Bureau twitter feed for tips on how to enjoy your Champagne.

Royal Princess Ship Naming Ceremony Event Coverage Mon, 10 Jun 2013 18:19:16 +0000 Continued]]> I’m about to board my Delta flight to London Heathrow airport where I’ll travel to Southampton and the new Princess Cruises Royal Princess Cruise ship. Media and dignitaries from all over the globe are gathering for this historic event. The ship’s godmother is Kate Middlelton, Duchess of Combridge. The Original Royal Princess cruise ship had her own special godmother, Princess Diana.

Royal Princess Cruise Ship

I’ll be there sharing moments of my experience through social media and the new Nokia Lumia 928 that takes the most amazing low light photos. So there’s no telling what I’ll be able to capture for posterity while on this adventure. I must admit, it’s very special for me to be included and I feel as if I am Cinderella going to the ball. I’ve shed my fire department uniform and will don a creation from Louisiana based designer Harold Clarke Couturier Atelier.

If you’d like to follow along, be sure to watch this space as everyone at the event will be using the hashtag #RoyalPrincess. Or, if you’d just like to see what shenanigans I’m up to, follow my personal Twitter account @CajunMama.

Nokia Adds to the Lumia Family + Updates Creative Studio App Sun, 02 Jun 2013 17:50:25 +0000 Continued]]> On my way home from Scotland a couple of weeks ago, I made a detour through London for a Nokia media event. It was exciting to be there in person for the reveal of the Lumia 925 and to see the recently leaked Lumia 928 in person. I tested the new devices and experienced some of the newer features, such as enhanced low-light photography and video, interchangeable colored charging plates for the 925, and being introduced to some fun new apps.

I haven’t had the chance to fully experience these new devices in everyday use as of yet, but I did get to meet some bloggers through Nokia Connects and learn some tips and tricks for my own Lumia 920 that travels with me everywhere.

The evening of my arrival, Nokia Connects hosted a blogger networking event at Nokia’s Paddington location in London with the Nokia social team. Bloggers from all over the globe gathered to meet and network before the next day’s big event.

Tech bloggers networking at Nokia Paddington Offices

Nokia Connects blogger networking event at Nokia London Paddington office

The next morning, after a lovely breakfast with a few of my new tech blogger friends, we walked to the Nokia event in the Covent Garden area of London. It was a morning of being introduced to the newest members of the Lumia family. The Lumia 928 was announced as being available on the Verizon network here in the US and the Lumia 925 with T-Mobile available soon.

Nokia event credentials

Bloggers and tech media at Nokia Lumia 925 launch

Nokia Lumia 925 media launch in London

What were my first thoughts regarding the Nokia Lumia 925 when I first laid eyes on it? If the Lumia 925 was a man, I would probably marry it. It’s sexy, sleek, stunning, and oh so smart. I want one and I want it to travel the world with me. The Lumia line, so far, has kept me organized (with Office 365 and Skydrive), helps me take decent food photos in restaurants without all the flash annoyance (thanks to the low light photo capabilities), and I’m now able to travel with a smaller number of gadgets (I put down the large camera and now just travel with this Carl Zeiss lens smartphone).

Nokia Lumia 925 launch event in London

Now I can’t wait to actually get my hands on the Lumia 925 and take it on an adventure. Until then, I still have my trusty Lumia 920 (on the AT&T network) and was just delivered the stunning Lumia 928 on Verizon (it still needs to be unboxed). Right now I’m having fun with the updated Creative Studio app. The updates to this app have been somewhat overshadowed by the new gadgets announced, but with the app update and my discovery of Instance (an unofficial Instagram app for Windows Phones), I am one happy mama.

Here are a few examples of pics taken during my latest travels and enhanced with the Creative Studio app. It’s exclusive to Nokia and is free to download in the Windows Store.


Original London Image taken with Nokia Lumia 920
London image taken with Nokia Lumia 920 enhanced with Color Pop option in Creative Studio app


Original image in Grand Cayman taken with Nokia Lumia 920Grand Cayman image taken with Nokia Lumia 920 enhanced with Focus Object option of Creative Studio app


Original Las Vegas image taken with Nokia Lumia 920

Las Vegas image taken with Nokia Lumia 920 enhanced with cropping, filter, & focus object option of Creative Studio App


Original Louisiana image taken with the Nokia Lumia 920Louisiana image taken with Nokia Lumia 920 edited with filter and focus object options of Creative Studio app

I’m no professional photographer, but I sure am having fun with the updated Creative Studio app for Lumia phones and traveling the globe with a Nokia Lumia device. It’s so easy and quick to edit photos and upload them to your favorite social media outlets. All it takes is a light swipe of your finger across the touchscreen. Like a fine wine, the Lumia family keeps getting better and better.

Fun Moments from #LivetheMLife Media Trip Sun, 14 Apr 2013 15:14:52 +0000 Continued]]> Last week I participated in the MGM Resorts #LivetheMLife press trip. It was a fun group of bloggers and we had some amazing moments. Some of them were planned and some…..not planned at all! We ran into celebrities, we were treated like celebrities, and the most important thing? We learned all about MGM Resorts MLife loyalty program. Points for these MLife Moments can be earned by booking hotel stays, dining, attraction tickets, playing at the casino, and even playing their Facebook game MyVegas Slots. Check out the program and sign up at

Here are some select moments from the press trip to give you a sample of some of the exciting times we had.

Testing Windows Phone WordPress App Sat, 30 Mar 2013 08:38:01 +0000 Continued]]> I’m in the process of trying to simplify my life and my travels. I want to carry around less gear and be able to share more of my experiences without having to keep up with so much stuff.

I really love my Nokia Lumia 920 phone and while I know it isn’t the complete answer to my issue, it has simplified life greatly. The only thing it’s missing is Instagram and a video editing app. Those are the two things I miss that were an integral part of my digital nomad lifestyle.

I’m trying to be more productive while mobile, and hopefully these two things I miss will be remedied soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue to test out everything I can get my hands on, including this WordPress app.

I’ve been so fortunate to be able to see so much of the world and I’m grateful for every opportunity that comes my way. I hope to have many more unbelievable and special moments.

Be sure to read about my travels here on and on And of course follow my adventures on Twitter: @CajunMama.

In the end when it’s all said and done, I’m just a southern mom with an intense wanderlust and plenty of dreams hanging on to life and living each moment with all the passion I have inside my soul.

Louisiana Gumbo Seasoned with Travel and Good Friends Tue, 19 Mar 2013 09:25:21 +0000 Continued]]> A few weeks ago while in Ely, Cambridgeshire in the UK with friends, we took turns making one of our favorite dishes. Denise, Susan, and Bridget had always wanted to taste some of my gumbo, so I packed the non-perishable ingredients to bring along on our UK Retreat. Because we were in the UK, I knew the proper Andouille sausage would be hard to get my hands on. Fortunately the local Waitrose offered a nice chorizo that would be a perfect substitute. The gumbo turned out nice and was a warm and comforting meal on a cold night in that little cottage we were snuggled into.

After seeing a photo of my gumbo on Facebook earlier, I promised Hugh Taylor and James Gracie that I would make some for them while I would be visiting in Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. I brought along the same ingredients, but sometimes the most interesting moments in life are the unplanned ones. On St. Patrick’s Day we went over to the local pub, The Craigdarroch Arms Hotel, for an afternoon music session. Tim, who runs the place, had been promised a taste of real gumbo and when I walked in the door he asked “Did you bring my gumbo?”

“Well,” I replied, “it hasn’t been made yet, but if you have a pot available, I can just make it here for you.”

“Can you make enough for everyone in the pub?” Tim asked.

I thought for a moment, inquired if I could used some stock in the kitchen, and of course it all worked out. I found myself in the hotel kitchen preparing a large pot of gumbo and adding whatever I could find out of the pantry. I prepared all my ingredients while listening to the strains of music coming through from the public area and found my feet tapping to the music as I set the pot to simmering for the time being.

Cooking Gumbo in Scotland

And then I heard the haunting music of a fiddle with the rest of the musicians joining along playing “Danny Boy”. I poked my head out the kitchen door to listen and looked around at all the people I would get to feed that day. At that moment I felt this great love for the power of food and how it nourishes and comforts people. And I thought about that pot of gumbo, which is so much like my own life. The base of the gumbo is traditional with Louisiana spice, but it’s been enhanced by international friendships and travel, with the chorizo, and now Scotland because I even added black pudding to the gumbo pot that day.

Music Session at The Craigdarroch in Moniaive Scotland

I went back into the kitchen to begin preparing the potato salad and Tim kept the door open for me so I could hear the music. The scent of the gumbo wafted through the public rooms and every once in a while someone would poke their head in and comment about how good it smelled.

Tim tasting the gumbo for quality control

Tim tasting the gumbo for quality control

Finally the meal was complete and we served the entire hotel Louisiana chicken and sausage gumbo with a Scottish twist. Everyone was excited to see real file´ and they were even adventurous enough to add Crystal hot sauce just like I enjoy.

Louisiana gumbo seasoned with travel and friendship

Louisiana gumbo seasoned with travel and friendship

And for the next ten minutes all that could be heard throughout the public rooms of The Craigdarroch Arms Hotel was the scraping of spoons and a few sighs of pleasure. I can’t even begin to express how good it made me feel to see this crowd of people smiling and enjoying a meal that I prepared. There wasn’t a drop of gumbo left in the pot. I had three marriage proposals and one handsome man even told me “I’m deeply in love with you”.

That afternoon I was whisked away for a walk around a castle in the snow and returned late that evening to the musicians playing “Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, File´Gumbo” — all I could do was just sit there and grin. I guess my gumbo turned out okay.

Sharing a pot of gumbo sure did make me feel all sparkly inside. I love being from Louisiana.

Here’s my recipe for Easy Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Sharing Baton Rouge Family Fun with viewers of Lifetime Television #travel #GoBR Mon, 11 Mar 2013 00:07:24 +0000 Continued]]> Last week was fun and somewhat unbelievable. I was on Lifetime TV’s show Designing Spaces, Kids Spaces highlighting some of the family friendly attractions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We filmed this episode last December and it was a fabulous experience. I’ve always wanted to be a travel show host and it really was so much fun to film.

I was absolutely thrilled when Visit Baton Rouge approached me to represent the capital city of Baton Rouge on National US television. When I travel, I always love sharing my passion about Louisiana and my home city area of Baton Rouge. Louisiana is a wonderful state to be from and everywhere I go someone always asks me about the food, the culture, the music, and the Louisiana lifestyle.

We began our day early, filming at the Rural Life Museum, which gives a glimpse of what life was like in Louisiana before electricity. I brought along my daughter and a few of her school friends so they could get a behind-the-scenes look into television production. The girls had so much fun touring the museums, the USS Kidd, running around the Capital Grounds, and sampling the offerings from the food trucks. For the production crew, they were able to get a first-hand look at how much Baton Rouge has to offer, even for teenagers.

Here’s the full clip from Lifetime TV which aired March 7, 2013 and highlights just a few of the many activities and attractions in the entire Baton Rouge metropolitan area that’s just right for families. For more travel information and planning, visit the official website of Visit Baton Rouge.

Super big thanks to everyone at Visit Baton Rouge for thinking of me and including me on such a fun project. This was the perfect mix for me, bringing my passion for travel and love of my home area together in such a fun package. I still can’t believe I get to take part in unbelievable moments like this. Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it.

Now, to figure out how to make this a regular gig…