Saint Lucia Travel Guide

Dino and I just got back from Saint Lucia this past weekend. Each year we are trying to go on an international trip during the summer. We decided we wanted to go to a tropical destination so we could sip on Rum and lay on the beach (why did we leave again?).

We split our vacation into two different locations, Soufriere and Castries. I'd highly recommend either splitting your time between the two cities or staying in the Castries (the capital) and taking a day trip or two to Soufriere. If you do stay in Soufriere I would recommend staying in a resort versus Airbnb (if you can swing the steep resort prices).

Dino and I spent six days at an Airbnb in the fishing village Soufriere which is nestled in the rain forest. I don't think either of us was expecting how authentic this stay would be. The actual city is poor but has a very colorful culture. I don't think they were used to having that many tourists around, especially during the offseason. Although everyone was welcoming, the city experience was overwhelming in my opinion. I guess you could say this was the least westernized experience I've had.

What made staying in Soufriere the most interesting was although we had access to a few resorts in the area, while in the city of Soufriere and learning the "local Islander way," the resorts felt so far away. And when I say non-westernized experience think goats, chickens, dogs, cats, horses, unpaved roads, unfinished homes, and general chaos. I don't want this to be a negative connotation to the city, it's just beyond my own experiences because I've mostly traveled to Europe or more touristy locations in South America.

What to do in Soufriere:
Hike the Gros Piton 5/5: This was a very, very difficult hike. I wouldn't even call this hike, it was a climb. It generally takes two hours to climb up, and two hours to climb down. Personally, I thought the view and hike itself was rewarding.
Sugar Beach, a ViceRoy Resort 5/5: This place is amazing! It's a luxurious beach with a relaxing restaurant and separate beach bar. The resort is in the middle of the two Pitons so a great view as well. They aren't that keen on guests, but worth going to on a beautiful day when there are plenty of other guests. Anse Chastanet and Anse Mamin- 5/5: Both of these beaches are located at the main resort (Anse Chastanet). I would recommend snorkeling there by the coral reef and heading over to the private beach Anse Mamin (10 min walk) for burgers and strong drinks! It feels like a private beach and was hardly occupied when we were there.
Tet Nature Trail-3/5: Chill 40-minute nature trail with a tour guide, I would recommend skipping this one unless you are really interested in learning more about the local produce.
Sulpher Springs and Mud Bath- 4/5: This was a pretty cool thing to do! They take you on a guided tour explaining the live volcano and history. Then you are able to take a mud bath with the ashes/mud from the volcano. It's super relaxing! I would go later on at night as the daytime gets packed with other tourists.
ATV Tour- 5/5: We used the Mystic Man company. Super fun and exciting to go on the off-road trails, if you are an adrenaline junkie you'll have a great time.

Castries:
This city is far more developed so there is generally more to do. We stayed at our resort for the majority of the time after our adventures in Soufriere (oh, and had Dino finally take some pictures to add here!).
Pigeon Island 5/5: A great place to walk around and enjoy a little trail, beautiful beaches, and historical sights.

What I Wish I Knew Before Getting a Puppy

It all started over a year ago when Dino and I started scrolling through countless pictures of puppies every night. We would stay up in our studio obsessing over cute puppies and then after a while, we started doing some research of our own. How long does training take? Friendliest breed? What breed doesn't shed? Little did we know... we would land with the best puppy I could have asked for: WAFFLE!

Dino and I started watching dogs from Rover, an app that helps dog owners and dog sitters find one another. We watched countless dogs all ranging from a large Golden Doodle, a Havanese, and a tiny Yorkie. I'd recommend watching a friend or family's puppy or download Rover and give it a try to see if you are ready for this commitment. It also helped us decide on a breed and figure out what was best for our lifestyle. For example, we got a small breed because we live in an apartment in Chicago. Here are a few things we've realized...



Dogs are EXPENSIVE: Will you need a dog walker? Are your dogs shots updated? Do you have enough toys? Will your pup need to get spayed ore neutered? Puppy pads? What kind of food is best (I'll give you a hint it's probably organic $$$)? Dog expenses add up, make sure that you are financially ready. I think that expecting at least $1,000 for a puppy or dog (this isn't counting the price of adopting/breeder) should be accounted for within in the first year or even first few months depending on how old your pup is.

Dogs need to SOCIALIZE: Waffle needs to be taken on a walk to the dog park every single day. We allow him to sniff, wrestle, and just be around other dogs at least once a day on the weekdays, and usually twice on the weekends.

FORGET happy hour: The most challenging part of having a pup is feeling guilty. I find myself rushing home after work, versus running a few errands or working out right after. I now have to plan my "me" time more cautiously. It takes a lot more time to plan my schedule so Waffle isn't alone for more than a few hours. Also, if you have a full-time job, forget going out Friday nights! You'll want to just hang with your furry friend.

Having a YARD is key: No, I do not have a yard in Chicago, however, I have a small dog and a walk out patio that leads to a dog run. I knew after watching numerous pups that having a way to get a dog who needs to be taken out every few hours is important. Make sure you think through how much energy and potty training your dog will need beforehand.

Waffle attacking my camera, haha. :)

You might love your dog TOO much: I'm only half kidding. I've found that half of Dino and I's conversations revolve around Waffle. It's so exciting to see your pup grow, learn, and start to love you too. I wouldn't trade my little guy for anything in the world. :)

48 Hours in Denver

I wanted to share a quick trip I took to Denver and Boulder last weekend! I went with a group of my college friends and Colorado felt like the perfect getaway for great hiking, food, and then some.

Pictured below is an old renovated house from the 1800's. It was such a beautiful home with a ton of character- I'd recommend staying here with a large group, it was perfect. Denver isn't a walkable city, so consider that when booking. Our first day-trip was to Chautauqua Park in Boulder to see the flat irons. We hiked for about two hours and made it to the first and second flat irons (there are a total of five!). I would have loved to keep going, however, it was getting pretty cold with the snow! It was pretty amazing to be able in the middle of the flat irons and overlook the snowy trail.

Last but not least, we went to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. I've always wanted to see a concert here, so it seems like a good excuse to come back. :) The trail felt totally different because the terrain was much more desert like, and of course a reddish tint. We hiked for about two hours and I enjoyed every moment of it. This hike was much easier and less of an incline. As much as I love the city life, being in the Rocky Mountains is a great escape from everything.
Food Recommendations, Denver:
Voo Doo Donuts
Southern Hospitality
Avanti
Root Down

I hope you all visit someday, or visit again. It's the perfect relaxed setting with nice people with plenty to do.

Chill Date Night



SO many things have happened since I last posted (especially an outfit post!). Dino and I moved to the West Loop from the River North area. It feels great living in more of a "neighborhood" versus being in the concrete jungle 24/7. We are also getting a PUPPY! I cannot wait to be a fur momma. I will be posting an aggressive amount of photos in the coming month so stay tuned.

I was able to finally shoot with my friend, Aspasela. I missed talking about clothes and blogging with her, among other things. It was a great afternoon filled with friends and a special Valentine's Day dinner/drink at the Aviary.

What to do in Seattle: 48 Hours

Hi, All! It's been a while. Dino and I have made it a tradition to travel over our winter break because it's one of the only times of the year we have two weeks off from work! Our choice this year was the Pacific North West. We wanted to go someplace that we've been before with plenty of nature and good food. I won't deny that when Chicago's temperature began to dip below zero Mexico and Florida were hard to pass up, but I'm happy with our choice because it allowed us to do plenty of exploring.

Food!

Breakfast!
Cafe Nouveau- A great french bakery with breakfast food, croissants, treats, coffee, and more. The cafe is located on Capitol Hill and has a friendly neighborhood ambiance. I would recommend the chocolate croissants because they are AMAZING.

Bacco Cafe- This restaurant is located near Pike's Place market. I was a little concerned the food wouldn't be good because it's in a touristy area, however, it didn't disappoint. The seafood breakfast dishes, smoothies, and overall fresh ingredients make for a great Seattle breakfast nook.



Lunch/Coffee- Starbucks Reserve- This place is a must! I wasn't sure which would be cooler, seeing the first Starbucks (directly across Pike Place Market) or going to the Reserve, but the Reserve wins. They have experimental coffee drinks, snacks, and the ambiance is very modern and retro.

Drinks-
Capitol Cider Bar (Pike Street)- This was one of my favorite bars that I've ever been to. They not only have cider flights on the menu, but they provide free games (Jenga, Uno, Battle Ship, etc.). On top of that, they play underground hip-hop like Atmosphere and Brother Ali. If you are an underground hip-hop nerd like me you'll love it!

Unicorn Bar- Not exactly my kind of bar, but I can see the appeal. The decor, menu, and arcade games create an eccentric bar with plenty of bright colors, and yes, unicorn statues.

Nature! -
Snoqualmie- Snoqualmie is a giant waterfall that runs about 30 minutes outside of the city. I would 100% recommend renting a car and going out to see the nature Seattle has to offer. It only took less than 20 minutes to get out of the city and find ourselves in a beautiful landscape filled with lush green pine trees, mountains, lakes, and a really fun hiking trail.

Mount Si- This was my favorite part of the trip because this area has great hiking areas that are peaceful and serene without any tourists either! The national park is only about 40 minutes or less from the city. Note: You will need to purchase a "Discover Pass" online, print it out, and place it on your car's dashboard before enjoying the sights.

Tourist $hit-
The Space Needle- We didn't end up going to The Space Needle because when we got there, the line was three hours long. I would suggest going online before making the trip there to buy tickets in advance.

Pike's Place- This is probably the number one tourist destination and it's very cool to see. I loved browsing the different little shops- they had everything from jewelry, seafood, and crafts. It's also right next to the gum wall and the pier, which had a gorgeous view of the Ferris wheel and ocean.

How to Host Friendsgiving

This weekend, Dino and I officially hosted our first Friendsgiving! I had an absolute blast with my friends and I wanted to give some tips on what I've learned:

1. Planning. Plan it a few months ahead and set a date at least two weeks before actual Thanksgiving. I'd recommend this because often times people are stressed out during this time of the year, and giving people more time to take a break from all of that turkey is usually necessary.

2. Plastic. Stick with plastic cups, plates, and silverware. It's much easier to clean up!



3. Communicate. Creating a Facebook group, email chain or group text will make things go smoother. It's a great place for people to "dibs" what they're bringing or mention food allergies, food sensitives, etc.

4. Potluck. One of my favorite parts of Friendsgiving is trying the different dishes everyone makes. No one said you have to stick to the traditional Thanksgiving dishes either! Also, the host should always make the meat dish. Especially the turkey, no one should have to transport a 16-lb turkey.

5. Music. Don't forget to make a playlist! I totally forgot about doing that this year, but thankfully Spotify came through with their "Friendsgiving playlist."

6. Alcohol. At first, I wanted to create some sort of cocktail for everyone coming. Buying alcohol and creating enough drinks for 12-14 people seemed a little crazy once I started to add things up. Instead, making it a BYOB (unless you're way more generous than me!) will save you time and money.



Don't be surprised if you end up liking Friendsgiving more than regular Thanksgiving. There tends to be more booze, a laid back atmosphere, and adventurous food!

How to Style Your Turtlenecks

Similar to last winter, the real MVP in my wardrobe is the turtleneck. This 90's inspired look is chic and easy to style. I'm a huge fan of all black, but I like to keep it interesting with details.

I styled my turtleneck with my new Sam Edelman knee-high boots (leather and suede, oh my!). The second look I added one of my favorite statement necklaces from H&M.

The last look is the newest addition to my closet and it's the coziest turtleneck known to mankind. This nude turtleneck is easy to style with your choice of boots, skinny jeans, or even leggings for the most comfortable outfit ever.