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COUNTRY GIRL

Maxi Dress | fab’rik Denver
Belt | Buffalo Exchange
Boots | eBay

As a Colorado-native, I pride myself in being a true country girl. I grew up in Parker, had a couple acres of land as a backyard, played in the dirt, owned a pair of pink cowgirl boots, and had a true cowboy of a father to look up to. Being a country girl is a state of mind, a free spirit, daring, caring, sometimes swearing, giving her best, living her best. For me, it’s also a fashion trend and a common go-to when I am crossed with what to wear. I simply embrace my inner country girl with a sundress and my favorite pair of cowgirl boots. “Country” is always in style when you live in Colorado. One of my friends calls it “cowgirl chic”.

There is a field in front of my parent’s house that has the perfect country backdrop. Open acres of wild grass overlooking the Rocky Mountains, endless wooden fence, barely a dirt road, and surrounded by farms of horses, llamas, and goats. My sister and I played around in this field on a rainy afternoon. It was dreary and misty and perfect for running around in a pair of boots. I nearly ruined a new dress that I scored from fab’rik Denver, but hey – a little mud never hurt anybody. That’s the country girl attitude.

xx

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HAVANA DIARIES: PART II

Havana is where you go to travel back in time. Spanish-colonial buildings, vintage 50’s cars, NO modern influence anywhere. Spending time in Old Havana was truly nostalgic and humbling, like you got to go back to a simpler time. But we didn’t spend the entire time in Havana. We ventured out to Viñales and Varadero.

Viñales, Cuba
Cost – 
$67 CUC per person (day trip included round-trip transportation, tour, and lunch)
Tour Company – Cubatur
Travel Time – 2.5 hours by bus, approx. 179 km each way
My friends and I woke up early for a day trip and headed West to Viñales. Viñales is an extremely rooted and picturesque town in the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco-growing region. We settled into the small town and started at a rum factory, headed on to Mural De La Prehistoria in Viñales Valley [where I fell in love with a horse in front of one of the most largest murals in the world], then to a 4th-generation tobacco farm where we purchased fresh hand-rolled cigars. We ended the day cave-exploring and then I met a water buffalo named Thomas. Needless to say, it was a pleasant rural getaway from the hustle and bustle of Havana.
Fun Fact – When Christopher Columbus first visited Cuba, he found the local population smoking a local herb, cohiba, through a pipe, or tobago. They called the act of smoking “sikar”. Columbus brought back some samples, and it wasn’t long before millions of Europeans were smoking tobacco rolled into cigars and cigarettes. Tobacco was grown commercially in Cuba as early as the 16th century, and by the late 17th century, it was the country’s most important export crop. By all accounts, the finest cigars in the world come from Cuba. [Source: Frommer’s Easy Guide to Cuba]

Varadero, Cuba
Cost – $190 CUC roundtrip by taxi
Travel Time – 2 hours, approx. 145 km each way
In short, Varadero is the prime beach destination of Cuba. It is a beautiful drive from Havana which stays along the coast to this resort-filled peninsula. My friends and I traveled to Varadero to visit some other friends who were staying there. This day trip was interesting to say the least.
Tip – Unless you are part of a tour group, or have hotel reservations, DO NOT visit Varadero on a whim. Most of the hotels are all-inclusive resorts, and unless you are a guest at one of these resorts, these places will not exactly be waiting for you with a welcome mat and a Mojito. We found it extremely difficult to step within 5 feet of these hotels once they found out we were not guests. Most wouldn’t let us inside, and we never found our friends who we intended to visit. For such a hospitality hub, I am sad to say that the Varadero we saw was anything but hospitable. One hotel even called security on me when I tried to get my money back after buying a failed Internet card. Ouch.
Now, I am not trying to slam Varadero. It is a lovely place to visit, and perfect if you need some R+R on the beach. I would simply advise planning ahead and making a reservation to stay at one of the hotels so that you can enjoy the amenities, or go with a tour company that will have everything lined up for you to enjoy.

Havana Diaries Part III coming soon!

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TIME OUT

Top | VANILLA STAR
Belt | Steve Madden
Jeans | American Eagle Outfitters
Sunglasses | Urban Outfitters

We stumbled upon this dreamy valley when we were struggling to find parking for Muir Woods. We knew it was risky to visit on a Saturday, along with the rest of the world, and what seemed to be an endless road taking us further and further away from the entrance eventually brought us to this place. I jumped out of the car and asked my sis to snap some photos. It was kind of majestic and picturesque and we were the only ones there. The only thing that could have made it better was maybe a white horse and a picnic.

 I love places like this though. I am not a city person. Country girl all the way. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting and galavanting around – but after a while it can get overwhelming and I get bored of concrete. Gotta escape back to nature, ya know? Into places like this. A time-out from city chaos. I will never forget this special place.

xx

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old and new

Floral Maxi Skirt | Pink’s Denver
Strappy Block Heels | Franco Sarto
Nude Bodysuit | H&M
Suede Moto Jacket | BNCI by Blanc Noir
Amelia Sling Purse | Be&D
Sunglasses | Urban Outfitters

I specifically planned this look for the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building this past weekend. It’s common for us fashionistas to coordinate our outfit based on where we’re going, but this look was randomly thrown together and then saved for Saturday morning. A mix of old & new, I picked up the Pink’s maxi skirt and Franco Sarto block heels right before the trip; the moto jacket, sunglasses, and Amelia sling have been living in my closet for a while. I sat on the floor in my bedroom with a glass of wine and threw it together, simply inspired by what I would want to wear at the farmer’s market. And here it is. Ta-Da!

xx

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beyond the bay

Spontaneous trips are the BEST, even the short ones. At the last minute, I decided to visit my twin sister in San Francisco because I essentially hadn’t seen her in 4 years [because according to my brother-in-law, one week is equivalent to one year in “twin-time”]. I also booked an impromtu trip to Cuba at the end of this month [more on that later…], and found out after that she would be home visiting while I was gone. Hence the unplanned visit to see her.

It’s truly incredible how much you can cram in to one quick weekend – especially when your hosts consider excess as a way of life! My fiance and I are still drained and completely sleep deprived from the trip, but my sister and brother-in-law made sure that not a minute was wasted. We must’ve roamed every neighborhood of San Francisco and eaten the best of every type of Cuisine [and now I have blisters on my feet and a food baby to show for it]. But I must say, the best part of the weekend [besides seeing my doppelgänger] was easily the food scene and beautiful scenery!

Here are the highlights [and my personal recommendations for visitors]:
1. Tony’s Pizza
Attention all pizza eaters – whether you favor New York style, Chicago style, Sicilian, Margherita, lots of cheese, no cheese, [which my brother-in-law loves and what I consider completely disgusting and unfathomable], there’s a good chance that Tony’s will have it. Who is Tony? Tony Gemignani is a 12-time world pizza champion! All of his ingredients are imported from Napoli, Italy and the pizzas are baked in 7 different regionally-specific ovens. They are located in the heart of Little Italy and truly an equal-opportunity pizzeria. Their menu has a variety of styles for all pizza-lovers, so everyone leaves happy! If you ever make it there, you MUST order the Spicy Grandma. Don’t ask, just order it. You’re welcome.
2. Chinatown
Just walk around. Take in the strange smells, the cultural souvenirs, and visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Shop where the Asians shop. Eat what they eat. You can even buy a live chicken for only $15.00! And if you get a chance, grab some food at China Live. Best Xiao Long Bao EVER.
3. La Taqueria
If you’ve ever explored The Mission neighborhood, you will notice a sea of Mexican eateries. It’s hard to determine which one serves the best of the best, but let me make it easy for you. La Taqueria. And how do I know this? Because at night, my twin and brother-in-law become connoisseurs of Mexican food, particularly tacos and burritos. They also won the ‘Nation’s Best Burrito’ Award. NBD. Just order Carne Asada or Carnitas tacos. With guacamole, pico, and sour cream – The Works.
4. Muir Woods National Monument
If you need a quick escape from the city, head to Muir Woods. It’s only a 30-45 minute drive from San Francisco and perfect for a day trip! Muir Woods is an endless redwood forest, perfectly ideal for hiking or just a brisk nature walk. The forest is truly enchanting, with the tallest trees you’ve ever seen! And one of the best parts? NO BUGS! Except for banana-slugs…I didn’t see any, but my twin swears that they exist.
5. Sausalito, CA
We stopped in Sausalito after Muir Woods on our way back into the city. I wish we could have spent more time in this quaint little town. Located on the edge of the water, it has breathtaking views of San Francisco and beautiful sunsets. It would be the ultimate spot for riding bikes and exploring the rows of shops and restaurants [which we would have done, but it was too cold and we had a dinner reservation to get to].
6. Tosca Cafe
Oh my. Mi Amore. Tosca is easily one of the best Italian restaurants I have EVER experienced. Everything I tasted was purely housemade and exploding with flavor! I honestly don’t know how to describe it, so I’ll keep it short; make sure you eat some Foccacia bread, ask for some shaved Parmesan to nibble on, order the Black Bird cocktail, order seconds on the Bucatini, and save some to eat with the dry aged prime strip steak! You won’t regret it!
7. Pagan Idol
This has got to be one of the most hilarious and animated bars I have ever visited! You can’t tell by the name, but Pagan Idol is an island-inspired bar, complete with an erupting volcano and Tiki huts! [my fiance described it as a Spongebob episode] They serve beautifully creative cocktails with some of the most interesting garnishes I have ever seen; roasted marshmallows, Rock Candy, shaved nutmeg, etc. TONS of fun and visually stimulating!
8. Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
Located at the Ferry Building Marketplace, this is a MUST on the weekends. I’ve always loved Farmer’s Markets but San Francisco outdoes every one I have ever been to. There is an overwhelming variety of fresh food, local goods, gifts, souvenirs, etc. Come with an empty stomach though – you’ll want to eat everything in sight! I highly recommend the Porchetta sandwich and Nepalese food tent if you can find it!

I am living-proof that you can get your fill of San Francisco in just 2 1/2 days. Just be willing to give up your beauty sleep. And any diet you were consistently trying to maintain.

xx

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