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!
YouTube
Instagram
Twitter
Pinterest

5 Tricks to Slow Down Time on Vacation

I want to talk about something. Something along the lines of self care. Today’s topic will be how to slow down time on vacation.

Sounds tricky, right? How often do you get so excited while packing, arrive at your destination, have the time of your life, and have to start packing up way too early? All too often, am I right?

Hang with me here.

I want to encourage you to think about your next vacation and how you can slow it down, enjoy the sights, and take in your experience. Vacation can be a time of self-reflection and relaxation. A chance to reset from the daily grind of work or school. A time to put yourself first and to check in with yourself: How are you feeling? has your mind been racing? Has work been stressing you out? You get the gist.

Here are five tips to slowing down time on vacation:

Bring a book

This is so important. I like to bring two: one fiction and one non-fiction/self help. I love getting lost in a good story while I’m sitting by the ocean, not to mention it’s the most soothing place to focus and smash a few chapters. Reading provides a chance to escape reality and let the worries melt away.
If you’re into self-help books, this brings you the opportunity to self-reflect. There are no distractions when you sit down with a good book on the beach (well, besides someone handing you a beer) and this provides a great chance to check in with yourself. Take a moment to reset, and find a book that will help bring you peace of mind. It’s important that we do this every so often or it becomes harder to track our feelings.

Wake up early & grab a cup of coffee with a view

THIS. Omg. This. You need to get up early (at least two of the days, c’mon I know you have it in you). Spend some solo time with a cup of coffee – or tea, I’m not here to judge. Once you do it, simply be alone with yourself. I promise it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. By waking up early, you are quite literally creating more time for yourself on vacation. Proud of you.

Grab your chair and sit near the waves

Next up, I’ma need you to grab your beach chair and sit close enough so that the ocean washes up over your toes. This, of course, applies to those at the beach. Or idk, maybe you are hiking and pass a creek or lazy river. Put your toes in the water. Slow down, listen, pay attention to the feeling of cool water on your toes. This gives you another chance to slow time down a little and practice some mindfulness. Focus on feelings: sights, sounds, smells, sensations.

Don’t ignore your family (actually sit and chat with them, catch up, have real conversations instead of walking by)

I’m guilty of walking past my mom or dad, even my brother and just saying “Morning,” and walking away without having any real conversation. I challenge you to relish the time you have with family on vacation, because my guess is you don’t see them that often! A lot of us work 9-5 for five days a week, and live hours, if not thousands of miles, from our family. Take this time and relish in it. How often do you get to spend a set amount of time together? Use this time to catch up and check in on one another; I’m sure you’ll feel fulfilled by the end of your trip.

Take a walk or go for a bike ride

This is so important! Get yourself some exercise. Again, I’m going to bring this back to mindfulness. If you create the opportunity to walk/bike and clear your mind, you can focus on actual feelings in your body. Think: sights, sounds, smells, sensations. Not to mention, biking for a couple miles will tire you and the minutes literally tick by slowly when all you want to do is stop. Lmao.

Remember: any act of mindfulness will help time slow down. Life doesn’t need to feel rushed 24/7. Check in with yourself. Ask the following:

  • How am I feeling?
  • Have I experienced stress/anxiety lately?
  • What comes to mind when I think of lingering stress? Follow-up: how can I rid of said stress?

All of this being said, I hope it helps you maintain a sense of balance in your mind. When we are not rushing through our thoughts and feelings, we don’t rush through life. Thus, creating more time and slowing time down.

Thank you for hanging out with me today! Lmk any and all thoughts you have below.

Honeymoonin’ in Ocho Rios, Jamaica @ Sandals Resort

“Wah gwaan!”

IMG_20181110_181959_594.jpg

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.

IMG_20181110_181959_597.jpg

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.

IMG_20181113_203028

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.

IMG_20181110_181959_596

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.

IMG_20181112_125021

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.

IMG_20181111_151444.jpg

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!
Instagram: ksloves
Twitter: ksloves_
Pinterest: ksloves_

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…

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ksloves
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ksloves_
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ksloves_/

Topsail Feature: Inlet 790

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

IMG_20170622_192544

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.

j

h
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.

i
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. ❤

IMG_20170622_192816

Xoxo,
KS red lips isolated in white

Connect with me!
Instagram: ksloves
Twitter: ksloves_
Pinterest: ksloves_

Wanderlust Wednesday: Sneaky Freaky Bake Shop

“Bringing a Topsail edition blog post your way, fam!”

b

This is our favorite coffee shop at the beach in Topsail, North Carolina – and for good reason. Well, technically it’s located in Sneads Ferry, but that’s only a 10 minute drive from our beach house so I’m going to consider it Topsail.

ANYWAYS.

Sneaky Freaky Bake Shop has everything, and at a great price. My dad orders hot coffee, I’m an iced coffee fanatic, and we’ve probably tried one of every pastry.

I can’t remember my favorite barista’s name, but I want to shout out the woman behind the counter from June 20th-24th in the mornings, because she made me a bomb-ass iced coffee every single day. And yes, we went every single morning. I mean really, what’s a beach trip without morning coffee runs with your dad?

e

This coffee shop has a really cozy feel on the inside, with big open windows and a spacious room filled with modern seating. Anytime we’ve visited, there is not much of a crowd, but I could see the large space being able to accommodate a morning rush of caffeine-craved customers.

If you’re at the Topsail shore and looking for a quick pastry/coffee stop, definitely check out the Sneaky Freaky Bake Shop. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm, and are closed on Sundays and Mondays (bummer, I know). But if you wait it out until Tuesday morning rolls around, I promise it’s worth it!

Has anyone else ever been to Topsail? Please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear of other places to visit/sites to see.

d

Xoxo,
KS red lips isolated in white

Connect with me!
Instagram: ksloves
Twitter: ksloves_
Pinterest: ksloves_

Vacationing on North Topsail Island

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

Snapchat-845534456
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

IMG_20170622_192816
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???

IMG_20170621_124154

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

Snapchat-2145979779

KS red lips isolated in white

Connect with me!
Instagram: ksloves
Twitter: ksloves_
Pinterest: ksloves_