In Travel on
April 4, 2016

Ice Castles, NH

Winter is over and spring is “here”… But you would never have guessed it based on the few inches of snow that got dumped on us over the past few days. Before the weather warms up and spring actually arrives in the northeast, I wanted to share one of my favorite memories from this winter: my first visit to the Ice Castles, NH.

This year we somehow got lucky enough that Valentine’s Day fell on President’s Day Weekend. My honey decided to treat me to a weekend away in New Hampshire to visit his hometown and along the way we stopped at the Ice Castles.Ice Castles New HampshireDSC01378

The Ice Castles concept was created by Brent in his back yard in Utah one winter. It started out as a small, fun winter playground that would keep his kids entertained, but he soon realized he could create it on an even larger scale for more folks to enjoy. And VOILA! The Ice Castles were born.

I’m not a huge fan of winter sports or activities. It’s too cold for my liking… Arthur and I just so happened to pick the coldest day of the year to head out for a visit. We braved the negative degree weather and set out for a full “Frozen” experience.

First stop, meet Elsa the Ice Princess herself! DSC01432

Next stop, set out for some proper exploring.

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When you walk through the Ice Castles, you can’t help but just stare in awe. Each Ice Castle weighs about 25,000,000 pounds. DSC01434

Don’t forget to look up!DSC01395

The artisans grow about 10,000 icicles every day!DSC01406DSC01448DSC01399

They place the icicles all around the castle and eventually they get absorbed into the ice structure and create this scary/wonderful look.DSC01397DSC01415DSC01428DSC01396

^ My favorite one. A heart for Valentine’s Day.

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The walls are blocks of ice that are 10 feet thick!

We walked through all of the caves and peeked into the crevices. DSC01407

The Ice Castles are truly a playground for the young and old. DSC01408

Some of the hidden nooks include slides and even a track for sledding.DSC01409

This kid and his Dad were arguing over who would get to go down the slide first.DSC01410 DSC01421

It was much too cold for me to brave the long line for sliding or sledding. Arthur and I just admired all of the other brave souls as they came down the tracks. DSC01416 DSC01417 DSC01418

Hi there!DSC01422

Despite nearly freezing our butts off, Arthur and I had a really great time! It was so sweet to finally get to see the Ice Castles in person after fawning of the photos online for so long.DSC01426 DSC01442

When they said everything was made of ice, they weren’t joking! I nearly slipped off the ice throne trying to get a cute picture.

But I managed… Watching over my ice kingdom.DSC01430 DSC01413DSC01433

Eventually after about an hour of exploring, it got too cold and we decided to head out for the day. I heard the had a heater in the lobby and peaced out to go warm up my frozen hands.

The Ice Castles have four locations:

Midway, UT

Eden Prairie, MN

Lincoln, NH

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

They are currently closed for the season, but check them out on Facebook for information on when they open next season.  

Some tips for your trip to the Ice Castles: Check the weather before you go, dress warm (hats and gloves are a must, if it’s really cold, I would even pack some hand warmers so that your fingers don’t freeze up), wear waterproof shoes/snow boots, purchase your tickets online – it saves you so much hassle, and make sure to bring a camera to capture your favorite memories.

Go later in the afternoon. At night they do a light show and it looks so cool up against the ice. It would be really great to see the Ice Castles in day light and under the night lights.

Bring cash or a charge card if you want to buy souvenirs… they do sell printout photos for around $15, but I’d much rather take my own pictures and print them myself. 

Stay warm during this spring snowstorm!

In Volunteer on
April 18, 2015

Esperanza Soap – #SoapIsHope

Esperanza Soap is my new obsession.

#SoapIsHope

First let me give you a little bit of background on the soap! It’s all natural and hand-crafted. It comes in several different scents/flavors.


*Image curtsey of Upward Ventures!

I personally had the opportunity to try the Cocoa Mint Flavor. This flavor is a mixture of real mint, cocoa butter, and peppermint essential oils. Yummy. 

The first thing that I noticed about the soap was that is smells so delicious! I can’t stand soaps that have no smell or that smell too strong and this was definitely a happy medium. You could smell the minty-ness in the steam in the shower but after I got out it didn’t linger on my skin all day long.

If you don’t use a loofah or washcloth when you take a shower, you might want to try using one if you plan on trying this soap! Many of the different flavors have natural exfoliants like sea salt, pine needles, and coconut shavings which can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin.

Reminder: When you are trying any new product for the first time you should always patch test it first. Use a small amount on a small portion of your skin to ensure that you won’t have an adverse reaction to it all over your body. 

I normally have extremely sensitive skin… I can’t wear anything that has a strong scent and some of the different soap brands that I’ve purchased from the store have left my skin dry and un-moisturized or even with a red rash.

When I went to Cancun last month for spring break, I had an awful allergic reaction that left me with itchy hives all over my body. I was still recovering from some of the after effects from the hives – mostly extremely dry patches on my skin. The exfoliants in this soap really helped me with this issue! I rubbed the bar directly against my skin instead of onto a loofah or wash cloth. Over the next couple of days my skin was slowly feeling softer and more moisturized.

Esperanza Soap is a company started by the organization Upward Ventures.

There are so many benefits to supporting this organization! First, they’re all about women’s empowerment. The goal is to build a factory in rural Las Malvinas, Santa Domingo and give five women in the community jobs to be able to support and empower their families.

Upward Ventures has a powerful message. It reminds of the old saying: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Rather than just donating money that will only temporarily help people in impoverished areas, they want to empower them to be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

Being blessed with the opportunity to travel has allowed me to  truly see how thankful and grateful I should be of my circumstances. Although I do not have everything I could ever want in the world, I have everything that I can ever need. I personally feel that it’s my duty to give back and to allow other people to experience that same opportunity.

One of the things that I definitely take for granted is soap and access to clean water. I never have to wake up in the morning and wonder how I’m going to be able to get clean for the day. There are many places around the world that lack access to clean water and soap. In fact, two million children are killed from sicknesses such as diarrhea or other infectious diseases each year. 41% of these deaths are preventable! Esperanza Soaps will be providing the community in Las Malvinas that lacks a sewer system with a way to make a positive health impact and save lives.

I loved using this soap. I am a huge fan of anything that’s all natural and hand-crafted. The fact that I can know exactly what products went into this was a huge plus for me. Also, the fact that I can now say that by supporting this organization, I will actually know the people whose hands helped to make and craft this is really special to me as well.

Unfortunately these soaps are not currently available for retail. Upward Ventures is still fundraising to build their soap factory. There are a few more days left in their campaign for this venture. If this product and cause interests you at all, I would urge you to donate and spread the word while you still can! There are even some perks for donating… like getting a free bar of soap in the mail! Check out their Indiegogo campaign here.

Please share and spread the word!

 

In Style, Travel on
November 23, 2014

Riviera Maya, Day 3 & 4

As I type this, I am laying in my bed cuddled up with my fuzzy blanket and wishing it were 95 degrees again… and that I could lay out by the pool again in Riviera Maya.

 

That’s where I spent most of Day Three.

After a quick stop at the breakfast buffet of course.

 

Pool ready!

 

My swimsuit is from Old Navy. Currently sold out.
 
I spent most of the day sunbathing and taking naps by the pool.

 

I stopped for a little ice cream around lunch time.
 
Then went right back to where I started.
 
Pool selfie with my Mama.
 
My mom and dad kept me company by the pool for a little while. Maya and I even took a nap together before she got bored and decided to go exploring the hotel on her own.
 
Eventually I looked up and the pool was closing and it was time to get ready for dinner.
 
We ate at the buffet tonight… sorry no pictures! I’m a very picky buffet eater so I mostly sampled all of their options.
 
Here’s a sneak peek of what I wore:
 

 

 

Fancy yellow bracelet courtesy of Iberostar Resort & Hotel.

 

 
 
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Day Three

After a hearty meal at the breakfast buffet, we decided to spend another day by the pool.

 

 

 

I gave my body a little rest from the sun rays and got a spot under a little shade.

 

I even made a new friend. He snacked on Maya’s lunch scraps.

 

 

 
Say hi to our new friend!
 
 
I wish I could say that my day was more exciting… but hey – I had a blast laying out by the pool and people watching.
 
And then just like the day before, I blinked and it was time for dinner again. This night we had reservations at the Brazilian Steak House.
 
We rushed back to the rooms to shower off the salty water and throw on something cute.
 

 

 

 First, we started off with appetizers and sides served buffet style.
 

 

 

 

Awkward first bite picture. So far, so good….
 
But now it’s time for the good stuff: if you’ve never been to a Brazilian Steak House before… basically a fine looking young man comes around with huge skewers filled with all types of meat. 

 

So fresh out of the oven that it’s still simmering. He comes to your table and asks you if you would like a piece.

 

When you say yes, he cuts you off a piece and puts it right on your plate for you.

 

They repeat the process with about 6 or 7 different types of meats ranging from chicken to various cuts of steak.

 

(FYI, I drooled on my own keyboard looking at this… but this is a judgement free zone.)

 

Maya had a tilapia fish cooked especially for her since she doesn’t eat meat. She said it was delicious. 

 

While she had her seafood, us carnivores got our fill of all the meaty stuff.

 

We ate and ate until we could eat no more. 
 
But there’s always room for dessert…

 

Coconut covered pound cake topped with fruit.

 

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
 
The restaurant was beautiful. It was indoors and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that AC and  being free from the grasps of the mosquitos who just so happen to love me so much.
 
I snapped a photo of the buffet area before we headed out just to give you an idea of the space.
 
After dinner, we decided to take a few snaps.
Mom, Dad, and Maya

 

Us lovely ladies – we somehow could never get it right.

 

 

Never ready….

 

 
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We were heading back to our hotel rooms, when we got distracted by something a little more fun…A 70’s show! The hotel has actors and dancers on staff to put on different performances. We were walking past and decided to stop and stay for the rest of this one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was honestly a blast. The show was so colorful, the dancers were on point and the renditions of the songs they were singing we’re amazing. Definitely worth a visit. They do a different show every night too!
 
It was a welcome distraction from the little routine that we had created for ourselves. Soon after the show we were off to bed… we had a big day ahead of us.
 
More tomorrow!
 
In Style, Travel on
November 20, 2014

Riviera Maya, Day 1 & 2

This past weekend the ground was covered in a fine coat of snow. The other day it rained cats and dogs. I had to pull on my rain boots and rain coat before sloshing through campus to go to my discussion. Today, I shed tears while walking to class bundled up in my heavy jacket, gloves and scarves as the icy cold wind whipped me in the face. It’s fair to say winter is coming, and I am far from ready for it.

 
Instead of accepting the inevitable, I’m just going to avoid it all together and pretend like it’s not happening. Let’s reminisce on warmer days, shall we?This summer, my family and I took a trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico.
I can feel the warm rays of the Mexican sun warming up my body now…. or maybe it’s the hot cider that I’m drinking? A girl can dream….

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Day One

My family and I hopped on the plane late morning. We are not early flight takers. It takes us forever to leave the house so an early morning flight just spells disaster for us.

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My sister Maya was my flight buddy and we kept each other entertained. 

 

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More like I kept her entertained….

 

vacation_travel_riviera_maya_mexico_playa_del_carmen_iberostar_resort_airplane
The only plus side of having a window seat. Can’t beat this view!
 
We arrived in Mexico early evening. The only downside of taking a later flight was that we arrived halfway through the day. Plus, we were famished. We didn’t clearly think through the whole eating thing and I refused to pay $15 on the flight for a bunch of snacks that didn’t even look remotely tasty. 
 
The hotel that we stayed at was called Iberostar Paraíso Beach/Del Mar. It was just one hotel in a huge resort with SEVEN other hotels in it. I didn’t even get to see it all because it was so big… but I’ll do another post on that later. 
 
The first thing we did after dropping off our bags was head for the food!
 
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Melodramatic Maya, describing how she was going to pass out from hunger.
 
The hotel where we were staying offered us many different ways to eat: buffets, restaurants (pre-reservation required),  and different spots that had snacks foods. We were too early for the dinner buffet and too late for the lunch buffet and it seemed like every where we went was just closing up. 
 
Then we happened upon a little taco place. 

 

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Not fancy at all, but we were starving and didn’t care for all of that extra stuff, we just wanted the food.

 

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Tacos were made fresh to order.

 

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Filthy nachos (after I’d already eaten about half of them) smothered in cheese and topped with all of the fixings.
Pretty? No. Delicious? Yes.

 

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Is your mouth watering yet? No?

 

vacation_travel_riviera_maya_mexico_playa_del_carmen_iberostar_resort_tacos
How about now?

 

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vacation_travel_riviera_maya_mexico_playa_del_carmen_iberostar_resort_tacos
The nachos were delicious. The tacos were even more delicious. It’s fair to say that they satisfied the nagging hunger feeling that we had. None for our little pescearian, Maya. Poor girl ate nachos and cheese until dinner since they didn’t have any non-meat friendly options for her.
 
It was too late to go to the pool or beach, so after our little meal we wandered the hotel until the dinner buffet opened.
 
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We even made some new friends!

 

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I wore this outfit on the plane.
 
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It was so comfy. My motto when traveling via airplanes: Less is more. 
Passing through security is a pain in the butt and it’s even more annoying when you have 250 things to take off and put back on.
 
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My camera died after we wandered around the hotel but the rest of our night went a little something like this: we stuffed our faces at the dinner buffet and then went back to our rooms and passed out for the night.Day Two

We were up bright and early for a meeting in Cancun.

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We were treated to a delicious breakfast buffet.
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Breakfast was followed by some boring meeting stuff.

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Then came the fun stuff: mimosas and champagne.

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By the time our meeting was over and we got back to the hotel it was time to get ready for our dinner reservation.
 
The first night we had dinner at the Italian restaurant at the hotel.
Per usual – we all pretty much ordered the same thing.

 

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Fried calamari and marinara sauce.

 

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Fruti de Mare

 

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A grilled shrimp and rice combo.

 

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For dessert: tiarmsisui 

 

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And a chocolate pistachio pudding. (None for me – I’m allergic!)

Dinner was okay. It was definitely not one of the best Italian places that I’ve been to. If you decide to head over for a visit – skip this one. You only get a certain number of restaurant reservations per days that you stay. Trust me – there are some better ones that you’ll want to try out instead.

Dinner outfit details:

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Overall – our first day and a half in Mexico was pretty relaxing. I basically got to dress up and stuff my face with food.

I promise I did other fun stuff too! More adventures from Mexico tomorrow…

 
In Life on
November 11, 2014

21 Candles

I’M FINALLY 21!
 
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Thank you to everyone who made my 21st birthday so special to me. I am so incredibly thankful to have been blessed with another year of life to keep on living and loving.

 
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Birthday Mani-Pedi’s with my cousin Marley.
 
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A feast fit for a foodie.

 

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Birthday Brunch with my best friend Nicole

 

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