HEY FAM! wow there’s so much to unpack here lol we went to Disney World at the end of January! Saw a bunch of Star Wars land (spoiler: Rise of the Resistance ride is A+++), my husband built his own lightsaber, and we ate a butt load of good food. Enjoy!
As always, thank you for stopping by and spending time with me
“I actually cried at the top of a mountain range. So yeah, it was humbling.”
Denver, Colorado is such a unique travel experience. If you come from a city, Denver seems so vast. A lot of open land with emphasis on the natural beauty of the state. If you come from a small town, you feel both eagerness to explore yet comfortable touring the city and mountains.
Denver was a humbling experience for me. I traveled alone, yet spent all my time with my best friend. She has called the Centennial State her home for over three years, thus allowing me to come as a tourist and explore as a local. Talk about the ideal way to see a new place.
If I had to sum up the trip in 5 words: nature, peace, relaxation, inspiration, and ice cream (I’ll explain the last one later)
Let’s start with the highlight of the trip – the nature
Let me just say this… I traveled from Philadelphia. I am a city dweller, if you will. Fast walker, subway rider, quick thinker, and overall fast-paced lmao – I’m not used to slowing down. Or hiking mountains. Taking in the scenery. But let me just tell you about the SCENERY.
PRO TIP: don’t
forget to put off your hiking for a day or so. It’s important to get acclimated
to the higher elevation, especially if you come from a place close to sea
This was the perfect hike for a newbee like myself. Like I said, I’ve hardly ever stepped foot up a mountain (they makes PA mountains look like hills). I felt like I conquered this one, tho of course I stopped as necessary to catch my breath – and take photos, obvi.
There were many spots along the way to stop and take photos with breathtaking views. As you reach the top, you’ll spot a small cabin where the seasonal fire lookout rests from dusk to dawn. There are a multitude of fun facts in case you are interested in where they get their food, how often they come down the mountain, etc.
The view is outstanding, like nothing I have ever seen before. Snow-capped mountains in the distance look more like paintings. Loads of greenery and tops of trees. Natural rock fixtures and a bright blue, clear sky.
additional nature sights:
Lake Dillon centered by a vast body of still water and mountain scenery for a jaw-dropping backdrop
Breckenridgetypically covered in snow and skiers, I had the joy of seeing this in the summer and let me tell you, it was still bustling!
Loveland Pass(where I cried lol) we drove up this mountain with nonstop views until the very top where I naively presumed all to be seen was out my passenger side window. Wrong. So wrong. 360 views that resulted in me feeling so small, so grateful, and full of tears.
Next up, let’s discuss – brews and food
What better way to spend my first day getting acclimated than to tour a few breweries + a winery? Kidding, I don’t recommend getting wasted in your first 24 hours lol the elevation is like a generous bartender and will get you drunk. Fast.
Alas, if you are being careful (preferably with friends) and drinking a water in between beverages, it is a blast exploring the relaxing nature of breweries and rooftop bars in RiNo (River North Art District).
A few to name:
American Bondedan adorable rooftop bar (indoor seating also available) with a kickass bartender the day we were there – s/o to him. If you want a quick snack, this is your jam. We ordered cheese curds and the ranch was out of this world Bigsby Folly winery with an industrial, retro, artsy vibe to it. Grab yourself a glass of wine. I’ll be the first to tell you that you deserve it! Stem Ciders was probably my favorite location, as I’m a cider connoisseur. Loads of cider at this place, and a lot that are Denver specific
Onto food, as you’ll need some substance after dabbling in the brews:
This town is a GEM. One of my favorite spots. Quaint and nestled between the mountains, this town offers a happy stroll along their main street for loads of window shopping and lunch options
Bangkok Happy Bowl Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar delicious and quick service during lunch. 10/10 would recommend the shrimp tempura roll and the crab Rangoon appetizer TBar one of the food/drink options along the gondola ride to the top (PS – the gondola is free, just a small fee to park). Grab a drink and enjoy the view! Tons of food options here as well
Park & Co. solid choice for a downtown dinner. A+ on my turkey burger and fries and again, the ranch slays Coperta this Italian restaurant had me drooling the moment I laid eyes on its menu. I’m always good for a solid food recommendation and I’m telling you right now to get the spaghetti cacio e pepe (see below) or the rigatoni carbonara
Lowry Beer Garden okay, besides Coperta (who doesn’t adore pasta?) this was my FAVORITE meal. Low-key beer garden with quick service and high quality food, grab yourself a cider and a fish sandwich… or really anything else. This place won’t disappoint
I’ll never skip a cold brew & bagel: Woodgrain Bagels your bagel heaven. Don’t skip this if you are nearby! Plain, everything, salt + pepper, onion, and the list goes on Copper Door after your bagel, stop by this friendly quaint coffee shop where the barista ran out of cold brew but offered to hand brew a different batch of iced Americana (or something like that) – solid customer service
I told you I’d get back to the ice cream: High Point Creamery the first night I was there we grabbed ice cream from here after dinner, and it’s the perfect way to end an evening! Delicious, creamy, and at least 10 flavors I’d never heard of before. Think: lavender… or French toast *drooling* Rocket Ice Cream sitting right outside the Lowry Beer Garden (see above ^) the ice cream here is.. 1. Conveniently located after you finish dinner in the beer garden 2. Offering unique flavors that make a delicious treat post-dinner
Lastly, I’d like to mention – miscellaneous things
If you’re a city dweller and want to explore the “busier”
side of Denver, LoDo (lower downtown) is very walkable with the free
MallRide and MetroRide. Union Station is very cool to see (not to
mention clean!) and contains misc. shops/food options inside
If, by some chance, you are traveling from Lake Dillon to Breckenridge (you could make this a trip btw), please drive along Swan Mountain Road. I couldn’t stop sticking my head out the window and snapping photos – which even looked gorgeous from a moving car. This scenic route showcases houses on hills, bodies of water, and mountains in the background. This is best if you have a friend to drive so you can peek out the window 😉
My final tip is simply to keep in mind the airport is located about 45 mins from the city, give or take based on traffic. Not the worst, but be prepared for a long-ish Uber/Lyft ride depending on where you are staying. If you happen to have a friend in the city, you’re one lucky SOB.
My wrap-up thoughts? I’m in love! I think everyone should plan a trip here, hike at least once, treat yourself to some authentic breweries, and enjoy the peace. It is no wonder everyone in Colorado hikes on weekends, the mountains do wonders for a clear mind.
Patwa is still English, but with a Jamaican dialect. Natives will tell you it’s a lazier and faster way of speaking LMAO. Kind of matches their pace of life, which mimics the phrase they preach over and over again, “You’re on Jamaican (or island) time.” Meaning there are no deadlines and there is no rushing to make a dinner reservation. While you are on vacation, or just in Jamaica in general it seems, forget your worries and let time slow itself down. The conversations we had and the experiences we led seemed to take place in their own little world, a world void of crowded subway cars as you rush to work and talking over people to get your point across.
What I am trying to say is… time moved a little bit slower in Ocho Rios Jamaica, and for that I am grateful.
Okay now into the juicy stuff – FOOD, BOOZE, ENTERTAINMENT. Jamaica doesn’t lack in any of these departments and you’ll quickly fall in love with “Jerk” everything.
We stayed at a Sandals resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica for 9 nights as part of our honeymoon. We didn’t want to do a darn thing. I wanted to sit, relax, read a book (which I hardly even did lol), and just be… MARRIED! Sandals made all our dreams come true.
You are greeted with a romantic heart-shaped towel with rose petals in the middle, cheesy but sweet. A bottle of champagne and white wine chilled in the fridge along with a fully-stocked bar. Do you have the chills yet? Since the resort is all-inclusive, you can order as many drinks and food items as your heart desires.
Room service at 9:00 pm after a long day of flights? Done. Breakfast buffet for an early rise at 7:30 am? YES PLEASE. Endless drinks on the beach and swim-up pools. I could probably stand in one location and see two bars either direction. You probably have goosebumps from how L U S H that sounds. Because I do just writing this.
We booked a couples massage at their Red Lane Spa – our first ever – and it was
AH-MAZING to say the least. 90 minutes of pure relaxation and stress melting from the body. All those wedding dilemmas and stressful decisions faded to nothing and the masseuses did. their. thing. And they did it well.One of my FAVORITE experiences – tho it is an additional $200 from what you pay for the resort *ouch* – is the private candlelight dinner for you and your honey. Listen, it’s your mf honeymoon, go on wit ya bad self. You will not regret it. I ordered surf n’ turf and the hubbs got steak and it was one of our favorite meals there. It was incredibly romantic having a private dinner and you get to choose one of several locations they can host them. Book this once you check in!
Another place to splurge, even just for a day is the BEACH CABANA. Not the ones by the pool, hit up those beach ones Oceanside. It will accompany a personal butler, 15 min neck/back massage, lunch brought to you, and endless shade for those of you with Irish skin like mine (catch what I’m saying). This is SOOOOO worth it for the experience and privacy you get on the beach with top-notch service from 10 am until 5 or 6 pm – I can’t remember exactly when it ends (island time, remember?)
If I had to choose my top three favorite restaurants on the resort, I’d say you must eat at Kimonos (hibachi grill), Le Gourmand (fancy French restaurant), and the private candlelight dinner. These are my top three choices for food. If you don’t want to spend the additional $$$ to do #3, which I can’t blame you, then I’d slide Kelly’s (seafood on the pier) or Sky Terrace (balance of all taste buds) into that third slot.
Breakfast: Sky Terrace has a phenomenal buffet and I am still dreaming of their bacon ends and jerk sausage. Le Gourmand featured a scrumptious banana caramel French toast when I was there and it was so good I ate it twice during my trip.*Order a mimosa or two every morning for added fun.
Sandals Ochi has 11 bars for unlimited service of all the beer, wine, and liquor you can handle. The bartenders are incredibly nice and will make pretty much anything. You can even order shots! HELLO – save the calories lmao. But be careful. They are a fun bunch and it can get rowdy quickly.
My recommended drinks: Miami Vice with rum on top, Dirty Banana, and the Hummingbird. If you’re a wuss with shots, ask for something fruity.
Before you leave, plan at least one late night (if you’re grandparents like us and want to go to bed at 9 pm) and head to the speakeasy on the hillside. You need a passcode to get in but any staff member will tell you. And trust me, you will make friends with the staff, they are the nicest people I’ve ever met. After the Rabbit Hole, head over to the beach bar on the beachside that sits under the Italian restaurant. This place bumps hard after hours with all the jams you 20 somethings like to groove to.
I think I have cover most (not all b/c I’d need a blog post: part 2) of my favorite things about Sandals Ocho Rios. We already want to go back and writing this has solidified my thoughts of it being the best vacation spot ever. It was a treat living a week in paradise and an honor to meet such sweet and caring people. It is definitely not goodbye, but a ‘see you later’ type place.Until next time, Ocho Rios.
“SO YOU WANNA SAY ‘YEEHAW’ AND EAT CHICKEN & BISCUITS
IN THE CITY OF MUSIC, YES?”
*HUGE shout-out to my MOH for planning a killer bachelorette trip and making it so memorable. xoxo
Nashville is a fu*#ing blast – and don’t @ me about it. It’s not here to play, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It is, however, a good compromise between Crazy Vegas Party and Laid Back Charleston. And that’s why I chose it for my bachelorette weekend.
You will eat some of the best food, meet some of the nicest people, and rock out 24/7 to live country music *and some other genres occasionally* Our time was limited as we went on a Saturday through Monday trip. In case you are wondering if the City of Music shuts down on Sundays, it doesn’t. You will still be able to eat all the good food and dance to the beat of live music – all while enjoying crowded but not packed bars (my friends and I don’t like being squished like sardines any more than you do).
First things first – rent an AirBNB house! Live a little bit of a lush life while you’re there. It’s worth it, treat yoself! Especially considering you can rent a house nightly for the price of a hotel room rate. You may be a short Uber ride into downtown, but it will be SO worth it and a little bit of luxury never hurt no one. Here is a link to the house we stayed in. Highly recommend for a group of 7-10 or so people.
HERE’S WHAT I’D RECOMMEND:
You must must MUST take part in the Ponton Saloon (essentially a booze cruise with good country jams and BYOB)
DEFINITELY eat brunch at the Tavern over the weekend (worth the wait but you can also call ahead on your way there to put your name in) and while you wait you can drink at the bar HEYOOOO
Hit the BARS baby – Tootsies, ACME, Nudie’s, and Honky Tonk Central are all blasts day or night.
*A lot of the bars are open until 3 AM which makes for a bomb ass time if your group can rally
Essentially, Nashville is a hell of a time and a lot to fit in while there for 48 hours – but it is doable! The food is great, people are chatty, and bar scene is poppin’ off. Already thinking about another girl’s trip because there is so much to see and do.
Have you been to Nashville or are you thinking of planning a trip?! LMK if you’ve heard of other site-seeing I didn’t mention as I’d love to know for my next NASH BASH.
“I had to double this recipe for the holiday break.”
Okay I’m bringing a delicious spin to a classic butterscotch oatmeal cookie recipe, and this one substitutes the butterscotch morsels for white chocolate instead. This proved to be a HIT over the holidays, and I would highly recommend for your next family function. Or even the next party you host with your friends!
I’d like to start out with the disclaimer that: you need to chill the cookie dough for at least 3 hours prior to baking.
*this will ensure that your cookies won’t flatten out during the baking process
To get started, here are the necessary ingredients: This will make about 24 cookies
2 sticks of butter (salted or unsalted – doesn’t matter)
1 cup of light brown sugar – packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups white chocolate chips
Begin with the egg, sugars, butter, and vanilla. Mix however you prefer (I actually did this by hand and would highly recommend a mixer if you have access to one). However, it’s doable if you want to work for the calories you’ll be consuming later
Once you’ve reached a creamy, even consistency you can move onto the next step. Add in your oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix together until it looks evenly distributed. Now add your white chocolate chips and mix in until also evenly distributed.
Next you’ll want to spoon out 2″ cookies onto plates that you will put into the refrigerator. Finish spooning out the cookie dough until the batter is gone, and place into the refrigerator for at least three hours.
Once your cookie dough is thoroughly chilled, it’s time to bake! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and use cooking spray on your cookie sheet prior to laying out your cookies. Next you’ll place the dough on the cookie sheet with at least 2 inches between each dough ball. Bake for 9-10 minutes, but no longer. Pay close attention to these – I bake them for 9 minutes as I always worry I’ll over-bake them.
Once you remove them from the oven, they will continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet. Leave them to set for 3-4 minutes before you remove from the sheet and onto a cooling rack.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made a recipe like this! What’s your favorite cookie recipe? I’d love to chat about it, as I’m a diehard foodie like the majority of the blogosphere
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To see original butterscotch oatmeal cookie recipe, I’ve linked it here.
Located at 1040 N. 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia is this phenomenal Mexican/Texas BBQ restaurant called El Camino Real. I have had just about everything from this menu, and now I can say I’ve been there for brunch!
They offer BBQ, they offer Mexican, they even offer a combination of both! Think: pulled pork in a quesadilla (ie: “Pulled Pork-a-Dilla”). It’s a combination sent from above.
For this particular post, I visited El Camino on a Sunday morning for brunch while my family was visiting. Thus, I have a few plates to share – and boy, were they delicious.
First and most importantly, my meal. LMAO. No but really, we’re starting with me. I got the brown sugar french toast, with bananas and sweet cream. This was so good. It was a large portion and filled me up, but did not overdo it.
My mom also got the same plate – and totally enjoyed it.
My fiance went a little more “classic brunch” and got the huevos rancheros. This dish is topped with a fried egg, cheddar, scallions, and “crema” sauce. He loved it! Our expectations were definitely exceeded once we began to dig in.
My dad was probably the most venturous of all and ordered sausage gravy over sausage and biscuits, eggs, and potato hash. And tbh, this looked the best OF ALL. So savory and delicious. He cleaned the entire plate.
So that was our brunch! I would certainly return to this location – it was a hit with my family. On another note, prices are also reasonable. If you’re willing to do some brunchy boozin’ that option is also available with Bloody Mary’s and margaritas!
El Camino is well-rounded and should receive praise for being that way.
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Start out by spraying your 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside while you prepare the mixture.
You’ll want your butter to be melted and your graham crackers crushed. You can crush the graham crackers in a Ziploc bag with anything heavy you have in the kitchen.
Combine ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter, powdered sugar, melted butter, and crushed graham crackers. Mix together until everything is thoroughly combined, and you reach an even consistency.
Once finished stirring, let’s move this mix to your baking pan and spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Let this sit while we prepare the chocolate spread.
In a microwave-safe dish, add the chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Heat in the microwave in 15 second intervals (stirring in between), until the mixture is completely melted. Next you will want to take a spoon and drizzle this evenly over your peanut butter graham cracker mix. You can also use a spatula to coat the top of the mixture as well.
Place your pan in the refrigerator and let cool at least 1-1.5 hours before you cut into bars. And now you have a delicious treat to share with all of your friends! Let me say.. this makes a lot. You’d have to have a HUGE sweet tooth to finish this on your own in less than a couple weeks. I’d highly recommend sharing to save the calories .. or not!
Have you made anything similar to this? Please let me know if you try it! It’s so yummy and takes little time to make on a Sunday evening before bedtime.
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“I have an Italian colleague that I owe this whole recipe to.”
Who’s ready to talk pasta? And vodka sauce? And ground sausage? Because those are kind of three things that make an amazing combo, and I’m about to share one bangin’ recipe with you all.
1 tablespoon butter/olive oil
3-6 cloves of garlic (depending on your taste for garlic)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (also depending on your taste)
salt and pepper
pasta of your choosing – I use 8-10 oz. of penne
meat of your choosing – I use 1 lb. ground sausage (but I’ve heard shrimp is an excellent choice as well)
Brown your sausage first, and let it sit on low while you prepare the sauce.
Start by mincing your garlic. Heat the 1 tablespoon of butter/olive oil over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic. Stir consistently so that the garlic is cooking evenly and preventing it from burning. Once the garlic has softened, add the pint of heavy whipping cream and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring this to a boil and then turn down the heat so that cream continues to simmer.
*In the meantime, start cooking that pasta.
Cream will start to thicken after 4-5 minutes, but feel free to cook it longer if it has not reached your desired consistency. Once you are happy with it, start adding 1 tablespoon of tomato paste at a time and taste test until you like the mixture. I end up adding 3 tablespoons because I like the way it tastes – but it’s really up to you!
Add the sauce and meat to your pot and stir it all up.
And voila! A delicious meal for any pasta-lover. I make caesar salad and garlic bread on the side to complete the dish, and usually have to go back for seconds. Enjoy!
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“The meal was made for two people, but I ate both portions.”
Here is a delicious dish for all of my catfish-loving subbies! This was my first time breading like, anything, and I think I did a pretty fabulous job. The catfish came out nice and crispy, but not too greasy. The side of rice paired nicely with the fish, and the cabbage slaw was a new eat for me! I’m not super picky when it comes to food, so I’ll be the first to congratulate a new side I took a liking to.
I had a blast making this dish – and did so all by myself! The other two Blue Apron meals I had help with. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the chicken meatballs recipe and the pesto pasta, feel free to check those out too.
This dish is fun because it surprises your taste buds.
You start by marinating the cabbage slaw using olive oil, sweet chili sauce, and seasoning with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set this to the side while you prepare the remainder of your dish.
Next is the black garlic mayonnaise, which is right up my alley.
Then you can bring a pot of water to boil and let the rice cook for roughly 10 minutes.
Next we’re going to bread the catfish! My favorite part. All in separate bowls, you’ll need to beat the egg, prepare the flour, and lay out the breadcrumbs. You’ll want to dry off your raw fish with a paper towel or two, making sure to soak up all excess moisture. Moving on, coat each side of the fish with egg, flour, and then breadcrumbs. Toss in a pan with olive oil over medium heat and fry each side 3-4 minutes, until golden.
Plate up your dinner and chow down! This was one of my favorites after receiving three meals, and it was super easy to make. I enjoyed the process, and enjoyed eating it that much more.
I’ll put the recipe cards below so you can check out the recipe for yourself if you’d like! Alternatively, you can find it here online.
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“WOW! We brought a restaurant prepared dish to our own home.”
This service is incredible. This is my first experience with a Blue Apron recipe, and it was chicken meatballs served over a fregola sarda pasta, mixed with kale and a tomato sauce. The flavors ranged from sweet raisins to garlic and it all blended wonderfully.
BEGINNER SUMMARY: If you’re not familiar with Blue Apron and the service they provide, it’s a “food subscription” of sorts. For $60.00/week (meals serving two people), you get three meals delivered to your house, all on the same day. If you look at it this way, each meal is $20.00, which doesn’t sound so bad considering you receive perfectly portioned fresh ingredients delivered directly to your doorstep. No more wasting an entire bottle of thyme you’ll never use, or the random sprinkle of cheese you needed but don’t plan to use up for the rest of the week.
**At any time, you can skip a week and forego the payment of that week as well. Similarly, you can also cancel at any time.
On with my first recipe, the chicken meatballs. I received a week of free meals from a friend of mine (huge shout-out to my hometown bestie, Monica!). xoxo
I first brought a pot of water to boil, and added the pasta. While that cooked, I prepared the kale by chopping it into bite-sized portions. You then have to heat up 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil (in a separate pan) and toss in the kale, also including a clove of finely minced garlic.
Next, you’ll want to start preparing the chicken meatballs. You combine the necessary ingredients into a medium-sized bowl, and mix it all together with your hands! Furthermore, continue to make 10-12 meatballs to brown in your cooking pan.
In the meantime, add the kale to your drained pasta and store in a warm place until we finish preparing the meatballs.
Then, add 1/2 cup of water and the tomato sauce, stewing your meatballs for an additional 5-7 minutes. In this time, your tomato sauce should be thickening while the meatballs are cooked thoroughly.
Once finished, split the pasta portion into two servings and top it with half of the meatballs/sauce. Garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese!
This recipe was incredible, and I would highly recommend this to a friend. I am keeping my recipe card, and plan to create this dish again someday. It is wonderful to have every ingredient delivered straight to your door, while not wasting excess ingredients you would buy in the grocery store. You can find the exact recipe here, but I will also post a picture of the front and back of my recipe sheet below.
Please let me know if you’ve tried this service before! I’d be so interested to see if anyone else finds it worth the $$, or whether there is something better I should look into.
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