Suitcase Diaries: DENVER, COLORADO

“I actually cried at the top of a mountain range.
So yeah, it was humbling.”

Devil’s Head Trail

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 level.

Our first hike was Devil’s Head Fire Lookout trail near Sedalia, CO.

Quick facts:

  • 2.8 miles round trip, roughly 2+ hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Elevation gain: +940 ft
  • Drive from Denver: 1 hr 15 min

Facts cited from: Day Hikes Near Denver

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

Breckenridge typically 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

Bigsby Folly Winery

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 Bonded an 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:

BRECKENRIDGE

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

Gondola ride in Breckenridge

UPTOWN

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

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.

Xoxo,
Katrina
I love to meet new people!
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Honeymoonin’ in Ocho Rios, Jamaica @ Sandals Resort

“Wah gwaan!”

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Yes that’s right I now speak Patwa. Well… I speak two words which translate to, “What’s going on” but I like to think I got the hang of the lingo.*

If you’re interested in my YouTube vlog on this trip, find it here!

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.

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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.

img_20181106_184423.jpgRoom 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Xoxo,
KS Lovesred lips isolated in white
I love to meet new people!
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HONEYMOON VLOG | Ocho Rios, Jamaica @ Sandals Resort | Katrina S

WHAT’S UP, I’M BACK AND I’M A MRS!!! What? Yes, crazy I know. I am now MARRIED and a wife. Life is wild. I am loving it and I LOVED this vacation. I hope you enjoy reliving the best parts of my honeymoon jammed into 10 mins because I prefer not to bore people lmao.
I hope you enjoy and… LMK IF YOU WANT MORE VLOGS (cause I want to make them)

MY MOST RECENT CONTENT:
Easy Fall Makeup – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jca1…
Beauty Haul Update – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5KBw…
CYO Foundation Wear Test – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lVVS…

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NASH BASH – How to Plan a Bachelorette Weekend in Nashville

“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.

NO REGRETS.

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:

  1. You must must MUST take part in the Ponton Saloon (essentially a booze cruise with good country jams and BYOB) 
  2. 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
  3. More places to EAT:
    Nashville hot chicken and Mac n cheese – ACME
    Solid choice for casual lunch and drinks – Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar
    Grab coffee – 8th and Roast
  4. 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.

 


Xoxo,
KS Loves red lips isolated in white

I love to meet new people!
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Whhhaaattt – Real Neat Blog Award

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Off Her Mocha wrote a very enticing blog post after her nomination for a Real Neat Blog Award and if you’d fancy a read I’ma link that bad bittie here. Thank you so much for nominating me to do this next! I love sharing more about myself and hope anyone that stops by to read this enjoys my answers to learn a lil’ more about ya girl KS Loves…

THE RULES:
Put the award logo on your blog.
Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

Out of all of your blog posts, which has been your favourite to produce?

You know what, I gotta say all of my Wanderlust Wednesday and Empties products posts. I flippin’ loooove reviewing food and trying out new restaurants on a regular occurrence. I also love writing empties reviews because who doesn’t love a solid review of something someone has completely used up and whether or not they’ll purchase it again?! Those are my holy grail posts.

What is your idea of a successful blog?

Engaging. I want to be able to excite others and entice people to have conversations over anything and everything.

What are your 3 most-played songs at the moment?

Shape of You and What Do I Know? by Ed Sheeran
Of All Things (ft. Too $hort) by G-Eazy

If you could switch lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?

I have this really bizarre dream of wanting to experience Whoville IRL – and yes I know that’s impossible but I want to. So I guess Cindy Lou Hoo.

What were your New Years resolutions and have you stuck to them?

I have to be honest here I never really make New Years resolutions. If I set my mind to something at any point of the year, I do my best to follow through!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t ignore your gut feelings and your instincts. Have an itch to start something new? Do it! Feeling a bit of luck and inspiration? Go for it. Worried somebody or something is dragging you down? Ditch it.

What impact has having a blog had on you and your life?

Meeting sOoOoOo many new people from all over the world! I love it and feed off of the energy. Gives me so much courage and motivation to try new things and not be afraid of failure.

I’m going to nominate 3 people for this:

  1. Lulu over at Voudouri’s Views
  2. Katy from Something Different
  3. Sakshi at The NChanting whispers

YOUR QUESTIONS, LADIES:

  1. What’s your biggest blogging milestone to date and why is it so important to you?
  2. Dinner or dessert // favorite food from that answer?
  3. What is something you’d like all of your followers to know about you?
  4. What is your next goal for your blog?
  5. What is an activity you could spend hours doing?
  6. If I’m traveling for a week I cannot live without these three items: _______________
  7. Since starting a blog, have you stepped outside your comfort zone with a specific post/picture/etc. and how did that feel?

Xoxo,
KS Loves

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I love to meet new people!
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REVIEW: First Aid Beauty Red Clay deep cleanser

“Thank you Ipsy for granting me another holy grail skincare product.”

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This cleanser is good. In both quality and price-wise. The First Aid Beauty red clay deep cleanser retails for $24.00 full size (which is 4.7 oz of product). That’s a lot of face cleanser, and you don’t need to use this every single day – unless you want to.

It comes out of the tube as a gel, but once you add water it quickly foams into a silky lather on your face. Not a foamy lather, but a silky one, like it’s replenishing moisture while drawing out your excess oils.

The red clay cleanser works to target:

  • oiliness
  • blemishes/blackheads
  • & pores

Here’s how I’d recommend its use based on your skin type:

  • once weekly for those with normal skin
  • every other night for those with combination/oily skin
  • OR the “recommended” by First Aid Beauty is as much as twice daily for those with oily skin and blemishes they’d like to target

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I have been using this cleanser every other night for two weeks now, and I have loved the way my skin feels after each use. *My skin is oily and I do have problem areas, but wouldn’t consider my skin to be covered in blemishes.* It provides a very deep clean yet is gentle at the same time. I don’t feel like it misses any trace of makeup, as my face feels completely refreshed and squeaky clean after each use. I almost feel like it does the work of a toner yet lacks the “drying” properties we often see in toners.

Bottom line: would I repurchase this? Definitely!
I think the price is right and the product is great. I am very intrigued by my first First Aid Beauty skincare item and this might be the gateway into trying other products.

Have you tried any items from this line of skincare? What are your thoughts? Any holy grail’s I need to get my hands on? Let me know in the comments below!

Xoxo,
KS red lips isolated in white

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Topsail Feature: Inlet 790

“This is my last post from vacation I promise.”

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My final restaurant feature from Topsail Island surrounds the Inlet 790, located at 790 New River Inlet Rd, North Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

This place had crab, chicken, and was a seafood lover’s dream – all located in a tropical setting along the water. It was raining when we went, so we didn’t have the luxury of sitting outside, but I wish we had!

This restaurant is located inside the Villa Capriani condos, and for that reason we could not find it last year and didn’t go LOL. So this year, we checked it out ahead of time and knew exactly where to enter. There is a parking lot across the street from it with plenty of free parking for you and your family.

I was feeling a lighter meal this night, so I first enjoyed a clam chowder, and then a Caesar salad.

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Both dishes were awesome. Great flavor, and exactly what I was expecting from a restaurant located along the water. Of course I couldn’t go without getting one dish that involved something seafood related.

For those non-seafood lovers, there is a great selection of chicken/beef options! My fiancé chose the caprese chicken with a balsamic glaze, accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. It looked so mouth-watering.

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Everything was cooked to perfection and presently beautifully. We had a great time and were thankful to find a stellar restaurant minutes from our beach house. I would highly recommend.

Cocktails were great as well!

That concludes my Topsail-related blog posts… hope everyone enjoyed. ❤

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Xoxo,
KS red lips isolated in white

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Vacationing on North Topsail Island

“I ate way too much and took too many naps – I have no regrets.”

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This year’s family vacation took place on Topsail Island in North Carolina for the second year in a row. I’m ready to share pictures of the waves, seafood, drinks, and as much as I can to persuade anyone to give this peaceful island a go.

I feel like I blinked and my vacation was over and I teleported back to Pennsylvania and woke up like, “I thought I was still in Topsail?!” Image result for cry face emoji

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This is a stunning island for anyone looking for a peaceful getaway. We stayed in North Topsail, where the beach is relaxing and the sounds are quiet. A small distance away is Surf City and Sneads Ferry, where you can find coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, fishing piers, and souvenir shops. It’s the perfect mix of serenity and activities.

We indulged in so much seafood and drinks that I gained six pounds (and no, that’s not an exaggeration – I weighed myself this morning). But this was to no surprise, considering I ordered fried seafood and island drinks the first three nights #noregrets

And that’s not where the indulging ended…

Also not sorry.

This was an amazing trip and it was so nice to get away from the rush of work life and disconnect for a week. Could I have stayed longer? Certainly! Who couldn’t? But it’s back to reality for this girl. The work grind is what pays for the nice trips, ya dig?

Before I sign off, anyone have any idea what this is in the picture below???

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Fish… stingray… pregnant sea snail?! The mystery will live on.

Let me know if you’ve ever been to the shore in North Carolina. I know my East Coasters are well aware of how beautiful OBX and other beaches are in that area, but I’m curious if anyone has visited Topsail Island or anywhere nearby.

Until next time my beautiful people xo

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