I didn’t plan on writing a dedicated post on this area of our home, but I’ve received a lot of requests to do so after showing it on my Instagram Stories. Late this spring, my husband and I did a huge overhaul to our yard and outdoor areas. The only professional we hired was someone to mud-jack our back patio where the concrete had settled and cracked four years after our home was built. We did everything else – removing mulch and fabric, shoveling new rock, laying sod, planting flowers – completely on our own over a long Memorial Day Weekend. (We are from the Midwest, after all… Dirt has never scared either of us.) It was a labor of love, we saved ourselves about $15k, and we were beyond happy with the results.
I was excited to create a serene, soothing front porch area to read or enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. In fact, I was so excited I finished this area before we even finished the landscaping – you can see the red mulch we had previously in these photos. I’m not exaggerating when I say I utilize this space every single day. I can work from my porch swing or just relax with the wind chimes twinkling overhead. But we live in the city – we don’t have a lot of space and I’ve had to implement a few tricks to make this small area look cozy and inviting.
Create a Focal Point
I knew my focal point had to be the porch swing because it takes up the entire depth of our front porch, so the only place it could be hung was at the back of the porch area. This meant everything else on the porch needed to draw the eye to the porch swing; it would have the most inviting accessories, the chairs would be pointed toward it, and everything else would be lined up with the swing. Now when I step onto our front porch, my eye is instantly drawn to the porch swing; I want to cozy up and have a cup of tea!
Decorate in a Tonal Palette
This is a tip I use throughout our entire home, not just on the front porch. In order for things to flow, I keep everything in various shades of neutral colors like ivory, beige, taupe, and gray. I like a French country feel in my home and this neutral palette makes everything feel really soft and light. The eye can just wander here and there throughout the space. This same trick works in small outdoor spaces as well, making the area look larger instead of breaking it up with bold colors and lines.
Utilize Indoor Decor
Does anyone get really excited to snuggle up on a stiff, waterproof outdoor fabric?! No. While I keep our bases outdoor-friendly (the rug, porch swing, coffee table, dining chairs, and cushions are all outdoor pieces) I add in softer, more cozy indoor pieces to tie it all together. The porch swing is piled with budget-friendly indoor throw pillows from Target (the sprinkler occasionally likes to spritz this area, after all) and a soft cotton throw I bring inside when I’m not using it. I also have a large gray-toned basket for storing the outdoor furniture covers when we’re not using them. And I added a pretty little tea towel from Magnolia to soften up the little black outdoor table.
Build in Threes
This is a trick that always seems to work for me, no matter what. I simply build little areas of three! For example, notice the little black side table, large basket of furniture covers, and watering can. There’s also a section of three on the coffee table with two lanterns and the large rose quartz rock. You can repeat this pattern with pillows, chair arrangements, etc. The number three just seems to draw the eye up and onto the next area in your space; I find it adds a little movement and keeps things from being too divided or chopped up.
Use Smaller Versions
I would love to build large outdoor sectionals, put in a fire pit area with chairs, add a relaxing hammock; the list goes on and on. But the truth is, we just don’t have that kind of space here in the city. Despite lack of space, you still don’t have to give up on all your seating. Just look for smaller versions of what you love! What I really wanted? A couple of these larger, cushy lounge chairs and a dining table. But I achieved a similar look with the much smaller dining chairs and coffee table from the same collection without crowding the area.
Plants and flowers bring life to your space. Add a little plant to one of your lanterns or bunch varying heights in a little group of three. Since I snapped these photos, I’ve added English lavender, myrtle, and another hydrangea to our little front porch. They feel like a breath of fresh air when I see them each morning and add so much energy to this area.
Ever since I began using skincare, I’ve heard glorious tales about La Mer. I’ve heard the brand is the key to Jennifer Lopez’s ageless appearance, the secret behind Kate Hudson’s effortless glow, and has apparently charmed everyone from beauty editors to royalty. While La Mer’s prices will give just about anyone sticker shock, there’s a reason so much hype surrounds their products.
The science behind the La Mer brand? Aerospace physicist Max Huber was badly burned in a laboratory explosion in the 1950’s. He spent the next twelve years testing and experimenting with a variety of sea kelp found near his home in California. Finally he created an elixir that healed his burns and regenerated his skin; removing all traces of the accident in the lab. He called his creation Crème de la Mer or “cream of the sea”. This “miracle broth” is in every one of the La Mer products.
Toward the end of 2017, I read an article about French women and their spending habits. The article suggested that French women invest in a few key clothing staples that will last them years and regularly undergo facial treatments and procure great skincare, viewing them as essentials instead of indulgences. The article contrasted those habits with that of American women who choose to spend more on trendy, fleeting pieces and much less on skincare in general. The article argued that the French way was better; that by investing in skincare, the French women are actually investing in the long-term health of their skin, using less makeup to cover imperfections, and end up looking healthier and more beautiful in the long run. I was sold. I had been having serious problems with my skin and was naturally gravitating to a better skincare routine anyway. This article simply sealed the deal. I went to our Nordstrom store here in Denver, made friends with a sales associate, and had him fill a small bag with a wide range of product samples for me to try.
One of my favorites? La Mer’s Moisturizing Soft Cream. After using it every night for two weeks my skin began to feel softer and smoother, my pores minimized. I bought my first jar, cringing at the checkout and mentally swearing off costume jewelry and makeup purchases for the quarter. I held to my plan and after three months, the redness in my skin was soothed and my complexion was more even. I stopped wearing makeup to run errands and go to the gym. I felt happier and more confident. That little jar of goodness was worth every penny.
Since that first jar, I’ve tried and explored more of the La Mer line. The products are actually changing the texture of my skin. I know it probably sounds insane, but it’s true. My skin is softer, smoother, more radiant, and more even-toned. I wear very little makeup on a daily basis and am happy to go makeup-free when I’m just dashing around town. I’ve found that having more confidence in my skin makes me much happier than having more things in my closet. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s a choice I’ve made and am quite happy with. Below I’ve listed the products I love from the line and would recommend trying.
I highly suggest buying these products during Sephora’s Beauty Insider Appreciation event to get 20% off. VIB Rouge members can take 20% off now with code YESROUGE at checkout. After September 3rd, all VIB members can shop.
This is where my La Mer routine starts. I’ve chosen to invest in products that stay on my skin versus cleansers and scrubs that wash off. The Tonic is a gentle toner that balances the skin after cleansing and tightens pores without drying skin out. It removes any leftover traces of makeup and gives me the perfect canvas to finish my skincare routine and apply makeup. Apply it with these super soft, 100% natural cotton pads for the best results.
A lot of people think this silk-gel product is a moisturizer and perhaps those of you in more humid climates could use it as such, but the Perfecting Treatment is actually designed to be used post-moisturizer and take the place of a primer. I thought this product seemed unnecessary until I tried it, but it’s fantastic. This silky-smooth gel gives me an added layer of hydration, evens my skin tone, gently blurs imperfections, and minimizes pores. It’s like a touch of airbrush in a jar. Sometimes I stop with this step and head out the door; it makes me look like I’m having a ‘great skin day’ naturally. If I choose to continue with makeup, it provides a smooth and even canvas.
Hands down, the most gorgeous foundation I’ve ever tried. This natural-looking, flexible coverage foundation gets me more compliments than anything else. It protects my skin with antioxidants and SPF, evens my skin tone, and gives my skin a radiant glow without feeling heavy or cake-like. La Mer’s foundation contains the Miracle Broth its products are famous for, so it’s like a two-in-one combo. I apply it with La Mer’s foundation brush then blend out with a damp BeautyBlender sponge. The foundation brush is my current favorite foundation brush, but if you’re trying to cut one item out, this is the one to remove from your cart. It’s a great foundation brush, but if you already have one you like it’s not necessary.
La Mer’s foundation isn’t designed to be layered with lots of different cream products; it does its job well alone. When I wear it, I apply my concealer first, then layer only powder products on top of it like translucent powder, brush, and a little bronzer to warm up my skin. La Mer’s powder makes the perfect setting powder to keep my foundation in place and to help my blush and bronzer glide over top of it. It gives skin a flawless, airbrushed finish and makes my skin feel like silk! The powder also contains La Mer’s Miracle Broth, so it’s another two-in-one product. I would highly suggest La Mer’s powder brush because it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt – so soft and fluffy!
This is not your grandmother’s cold cream. I pat a small amount of the Soft Cream between my fingertips at night to activate La Mer’s Miracle Broth blend, then smooth the product over my face, neck, and onto my chest. I rub any excess into my hands! Sometimes when it’s really dry here in Denver I’ll use this product in place of my daily moisturizer. Many people would argue that you should begin your La Mer collection with one of their creams because you’ll probably notice the biggest difference in your skin with them. Within a few weeks your skin texture will change; it will be softer, smoother, repaired, more even, and more hydrated and youthful. J gave me a large jar of this for Christmas – almost nine months later and it’s not even halfway gone. Remember, with these products a little goes a long way!
The Black Hills are one of the few places I’ve witnessed where a person can still experience The Wild West; prowling mountain lions, local saloons, and cattle branding still exist in this corner of the world. Unlike the mountain towns of Colorado, the Black Hills aren’t infiltrated with skiers and snowboarders each year. (For two weeks each August, however, the Hills are filled with leather-clad bikers from all over the world.) This blend of wild, natural beauty and rural character make the Black Hills a different kind of refuge than the mountain ski towns of Colorado. Perhaps it could be the fact that the Black Hills rest on traditional Native American lands, but this place feels more peaceful, more spiritual.
We love escaping the city and spending time in this little sanctuary. It’s a six-hour drive from Denver, but it feels like a world away. So many of you have asked about my favorite spots in the Black Hills and I realized I had never done a consolidated travel guide. My family and I have been visiting the Black Hills for over fifteen years now, so here are my must-visit places and mini city guides to help you discover the best when you’re in South Dakota…
This is the largest town in the area. Rapid City is where you’ll find the airport, lots of outdoor events, and some shopping. There are outdoor stores here if you need to pick up some supplies before camping and larger grocery stores where you can get better produce than that available in the tiny surrounding towns.
Downtown Rapid City
I usually always convince my family to make a stop in the downtown Rapid City area each time I visit because I love the little outdoor area they’ve created in the heart of downtown. In the summer, there is usually some form of outdoor entertainment on the stage and a splash pad for kids. In the winter, they turn this area into a charming little skating rink.
There are lots of shops and boutiques within walking distance around this area, but be sure to check out Prairie Edge for incredible Native American artwork, an impressive Pendleton selection, and gifts. I love browsing the bookshelves in Mitzi’s Books and I never leave without a bag in hand. Kids will love Who’s Toy House – if you’re picking up a gift, they do the cutest gift wrapping! If you’re staying in the area, I recommend the historic Hotel Alex Johnson in this area. The Starbucks on the main floor of the building is an added bonus, although fellow caffeine addicts would also enjoy Alternative Fuel Coffeehouse just a short walk away.
I love Kōl for its delicious, coal-fired pizza and for its fun, casual ambiance. I went here with a family friend and we found this spot the perfect place to have a drink, enjoy dinner, and relax at the end of the day. Plus, it’s within walking distance of both the downtown Rapid City area and the Hotel Alex Johnson I mentioned above.
The Journey Museum combines the history of the Great Plains with that of the Native Americans. If you’re traveling to the Black Hills for the first time or just want to learn more about the history behind this important land, I highly recommend stopping at this museum first. It’s not huge, but it’s well done and you will learn a lot of information in a short amount of time.
This is a tiny little town in between Rapid City and Custer. I love the main street; in August it’s lined with motorcycles and the day after Thanksgiving there is a beautiful Charles Dickens parade. It’s very charming and has a few hidden gems worth an afternoon of browsing. If you have children, they might enjoy a ride on the 1880’s train in town; I’ve never been, but I’ve heard it’s really cute.
Prairie Berry Winery
If I could pick one place to have lunch in Hill City, it’s definitely Prairie Berry Winery. Located just outside Hill City, this winery offers wine tastings, a cute gift shop, and delicious café style lunch with an outdoor patio. I’m partial to their rhubarb wine. Not into wine? Check out their sister site, Miner Brewing Company, just next door. During the summer they usually offer live music in their outdoor amphitheater.
Jewel of the West
One of our good friends owns a beautiful little shop called Jewel of the West. Stop in to see a selection of Western-inspired jewelry, clothing, accessories, and gifts. I was recently there and my mother and I stocked up on gifts for friends like candles and lotion, Pendleton shirts for our guys, and some pretty silver jewelry.
I enjoy nearly any type of food; it’s one of my problems in life! But… I’m not the biggest fan of German food. My father and husband, on the other hand, love Alpine Inn for a good schnitzel. If you’re like them, I highly recommend stopping at in Hill City for your fill of all the “sch” foods; schnitzel, schhhpaetzle, schhhauerkraut, schhhtrudel. All jokes aside, I’ve tried their dishes and they really are delicious. And they have plenty of options like salads, sandwiches, and pastas for those of us who are a little less Germanically inclined.
Museum at the Black Hills Institute
Please, please, please make a stop in the museum at the Black Hills Institute on Hill City’s main street. You will be shocked at how many dinosaur bones and prehistoric fossils they have gathered and collected. If you’re into natural history you will love this place; I think I’ve visited at least three times so far. And while you’re at it, watch Dinosaur 13 – a documentary covering an injustice and scandal that features the Black Hills Institute. I was so moved by this film and the story behind the Black Hills Institute.
This little town is further removed from the Sturgis, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore tourism circle so it’s a bit more relaxed and quiet. It has a special place in my heart and we love spending time here. There is a great balance of outdoor activities, delicious restaurants, and a little shopping too.
Custer State Park Wildlife Loop
One of our favorite things to do with guests is to cruise through beautiful Custer State Park and watch the animals along the Wildlife Loop. You never know what you’ll see and each time of year the view will be different, but you can plan on seeing buffalo, deer, elk, and mountain goats. Please be careful if you go – these animals are wild and should definitely be given plenty of space and respect! But their wild, natural beauty is exactly why they are so fascinating to witness; bring your camera as there are lots of gorgeous settings and scenery along the way. And if you’re in the mood for camping, I would highly suggest somewhere in Custer State Park. The Buffalo Round-Up in the fall is always a highlight as well.
Black Hills Playhouse
Located in Custer State Park, this gem of a theater is tucked amongst the pine trees. We love supporting local theater as much as we can and if you’re camping or staying in the area, I would suggest looking into the Black Hills Playhouse current shows and making it a nighttime activity after a day of exploring. Hungry? You can order a picnic basket to enjoy pre-show while taking in the Custer State Park scenery or take some popcorn into the performance. BHP also supports all-abilities theater education in the area, which I think is pretty incredible.
We love this motor-free, placid lake for its peaceful ambiance and the giant, rugged rocks that surround it. There’s a little cabin nearby with fast food, indoor bathrooms, and provisions if you need them. And you can rent kayaks and paddle boats right from the dock or bring your own. This stunning location is also the trailhead for many hikes up to Harney Peak! Sylvan Lake is definitely worth a visit, in my opinion. You can always bring a camera and just walk the trail along the lake if you like.
My favorite restaurant in the Black Hills! Skogen has an inventive, ever-changing menu featuring seasonal ingredients and incredible wine pairings. We never miss coffee and dessert after dinner either. You literally cannot go wrong with anything on their menu. We adore the kind, friendly owners and are so lucky to have delicious food like this in such a small town.
Black Hills Burger & Bun
If you’re in the mood for a burger, I highly suggest Black Hills Burger & Bun. Their homemade burgers are ranked on foodie sites nationwide. I usually order the cheese curds to start, a burger, and when I’m feeling extra indulgent (when am I not?!) I get one of their homemade desserts as well. This place is comfort food at its finest. But… Prepare yourself for a lengthy wait and an odd operating schedule; I advise calling the day before you’re planning to go to see if they’ll be open and for how long.
The Rock Shop
While you’re waiting for that burger, you can browse the crystal and fossil selection at The Rock Shop next door. I adore this place. If you’re a longtime reader of mine, you probably know I enjoy decorating my home with natural crystals and The Rock Shop always has a beautiful selection. I pick up a lot of gifts here as well; delicate stone necklaces I wear as bracelets, petrified wood slabs to use as cheese boards, and marble pestle and mortars. A former teacher from the area actually makes these beautiful little buffalo out of ancient rocks; they are stunning and we have given so many as gifts. I searched online to find a link for you, but a bunch of different rock shops popped up. Just navigate to Black Hills Burger & Bun (441 Mt. Rushmore Road) and you’ll find it next door!
Walk in the Woods
This pretty little gift shop is so fun to browse. I always find a little something for our house; charming lanterns, pretty napkins, candles, or kitchenware. I love Walk in the Woods because they have a great variety of styles to choose from; there’s something woodsy for your cabin, up-cycled architectural pieces, some “Fixer Upper” farmhouse inspiration, and even a little French country. This range of styles makes it really easy to find a gift for someone as well.
P.S. If you’re here with your spouse, just send them to the Custer County Candy Shop next door! They can enjoy coffee, ice cream, or candy while you browse.
More Sites To See
I know this is an obvious tourist destination, but I do think Mount Rushmore is worth a stop if you’ve never been. Walk through the gift shop and the museum underneath the viewing pavilion; although the monument often looks smaller than expected, the museum will make you appreciate just how painstaking the carving process was at the time it was completed. There are often live music, fireworks, or light shows at Mount Rushmore; double check before you go! The drive surrounding Mount Rushmore is a beautiful one and makes for really pretty scenery.
Crazy Horse is a giant monument just outside Custer. It is being completed a painstakingly slow pace, mostly due to the fact the Native Americans refuse to let the federal government take over ownership. I actually love this about the monument; it has truly remained a testament to the Native American history in this area. Although you can see Crazy Horse from the road, I recommend going into the visitor’s center, taking in the Native American art, and watching the short film on the monument; it will make you realize exactly how much effort has gone into this project.
Reptile Gardens & Bear Country
Both of these animal parks are just outside Rapid City, toward Hill City. Bear Country is an open park with bears, mountain lions, elk, and many more large mammals. They do a lot of animal rehabilitation in the area and in the summer you can watch the baby bears play and learn to climb trees. Reptile Gardens is a large reptile park with crocodiles, alligators, and lots of snakes. They also take in ancient tortoises and injured bald eagles. These are both places kids will love exploring.
There are so many jewel caves and crystal caverns in the Black Hills it’s almost overwhelming. I’ve been to a few, but I don’t really like the ones that have lots of water dripping from above. We recently went to Jewel Cave and really enjoyed our tour. I’ve heard Wind Cave on the southern side of Custer State Park is the largest cave, but I’ve never toured that one.
Highway 87, otherwise known as Needles Highway, comes down from Rapid City and makes a stunning little loop through Black Hills National Forest. This winding road is lined with towering rock spires, granite boulders, and pine trees as far as the eye can see. It’s such a beautiful drive to cruise. Pick up a coffee, bring your camera, and head out. There are so many breathtaking overlooks, you’ll definitely want to take your time and pull off the road here and there to snap photos.
Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
I have yet to visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs, but some of our friends have and they say it’s incredible. I wish I had more information to give you, but I just wanted to share this in case it’s of interest to you and you really want to see these beautiful creatures in person. This is on my “to do” list; hoping to check it off on my next trip to South Dakota.
My husband was recently in Seattle again and he got to have these incredible doughnuts. It made me remember I had yet to share this cute little spot with you! We discovered General Porpoise Doughnuts while walking to dinner at Bar Melusine one evening. The most delectable, warm, sugary scent was wafting out of the doors and into the street. We made a mental note to come back one morning.
I’m typically not a huge fan of doughnuts (especially filled ones) for breakfast, but the General Porpoise Doughnuts were an exception! They were delicious and their filling never made them soggy. We enjoyed them on our drive to the West coast of Washington. Just a tip… The coffee from General Porpoise is delightful, but is only sold in small (tall) cups. So if you are a caffeine fiend, you may want to stay for a second cup or schedule another coffee stop on your itinerary. Nonetheless, General Porpoise is a thoroughly Instagram-able spot well worth a stop on your Seattle trip.
The temps are getting warmer here in Denver and nothing looks as fresh and cool as a blue and white striped top. I think I’ve purchased about five of these so far this spring and summer (currently trying to distract myself from adding more to my closet) and I wear them all the time. They look so effortless and chic with a pair of boyfriend jeans and flat slides or espadrille wedges. I carry my market tote from Bainbridge Island and I feel as if I’m about to go browsing through a little French marketplace. Easy, casual, slightly coastal.
Are you a bit more boho? Pair strapless #2 above with a flowy white peasant skirt and strappy sandals. Vintage obsessed? Pair #3 or #8 with boyfriend or ankle jeans. Preppy? Pair #4 with crisp white jeans or an eyelet midi skirt. Any of the above would look lovely with the leather-trimmed straw and pom bag I’ve been drooling over for months.
This little French-inspired café in shades of green and white was the perfect spot to enjoy ice-cold rosé and a small plates style dinner our first night in Seattle. There was a relaxed vibe; people strolled in after work and took their time, enjoying a variety of plates as the sun set outside. I fell in love with the cane back chairs and the Moroccan tile floor. I wore a blouse, jeans, and low heels for walking.
I love small plate style dining because you can try a bit of everything. Since you’re in the Pacific Northwest with access to some of the best, freshest oysters in the world, you can’t miss out on the oyster selection at Bar Melusine. The Hama oysters were my favorite. We also loved the frites, the crab cakes, and the scallops. You can’t go wrong with this little gem of a restaurant.
Just writing this post makes my heart flutter. Bainbridge Island is one of the most beautiful, serene, comfortable places I’ve ever been. This lush green island off the coast of Seattle has me under its magic spell with its quaint town and picturesque inlets and coves. The ferry ride from Seattle only takes about 35 minutes and it was an easy process to drive our rental car onto and off the ferry. I suggest bringing a car to the island because there are wineries and hiking areas to explore, but if you only have a little time, you can ride the ferry and walk or rent a bike to get around the main village area easily.
This shop has a fresh, coastal feel to its Instagram-able interior; walking in feels like stepping into a breeze of cool sea air. While most of the shop focuses on home goods; table linens, throw blankets, pillows, there’s truly a little something for everyone. And you can trust that everything is perfectly curated. This shop is a beautiful, perfectly-merchandised place to shop for quality, well-made things. I discovered Formulary 55’s bath fizzes to give friends as gifts, along with a selection of charming stationery and paper goods. I fell in love with a “Tuileries” candle from Brooklyn Candle Studio and a beautiful market tote from Patriæ textiles. I became forever addicted to Pinkleton’s caramel corn. And I brought home some cozy throw blankets from Faribault Woollen Mills. If you’re not in the area, don’t fret because Salt House ships for a $10 flat fee. I’ve already placed a telephone order for more of the linen napkins you see above!
Picnic on the Island
We decided to have a little picnic lunch on Bainbridge Island. We grabbed delicious sandwiches from Hitchcock Deli (rumor has it their sit-down restaurant is amazing as well) and John grabbed a bottle of rosé and two wine glasses from the local grocery store. We already had fruit and flowers from Pike Place Market to add to our spread. After driving around a bit, we found an empty grassy spot in Hidden Cove Park overlooking the water that was perfect for a romantic little picnic. Honestly, it was the favorite part of my trip. We often have such little time to connect in our everyday lives and it was so nice to lay back on the soft grass (honestly, Washington has a grass that seems more moss than grass and it is pure perfection) chat, and watch the boats pass by in the bay. Before you leave, grab a coffee and sweet treat at Pegasus Coffee for the ferry ride back to Seattle and watch the boats in the marina behind the coffee shop. When we were there, someone was giving a little boy a violin lesson and the music floated out across the water like flower petals.
The owners of Hattie Rose source much of their merchandise from France every year. Beautiful French bed linens and tiny little French creamer crocks like the ones I took home (they currently hold our tea spoons) couple well with airy Australian dresses and curated fragrances. I was lucky that we happened to visit on Girls’ Weekend (I know, poor John) which granted us 20% off and an adorable little gift bag with our creamer crock purchase. The French wooden spoon came in the gift bag and has since become a favorite of mine… If they sell these at the shop, I’ll be back to pick up more!
This quaint and cozy little shop has an impressive clothing and accessories collection; from the street the shop appears small, but inside it’s spacious and well stocked. If you love linen as much as I do, you need to wander around this blue and white striped sanctuary! It’s effortlessly but perfectly curated; somehow you look around and find yourself wanting everything. I discovered two new brands: Erica Tanov and CP Shades, both of which had beautiful linen pieces in the shop. I left with an airy beige linen Erica Tanov dress and two loose shirts I’ve been pairing with my favorite boyfriend jeans. If I were to channel the laid back Bainbridge Island coastal feel Petit and Olson so perfectly embodies, I’d choose a charming straw hat, breezy linen top, boyfriend jeans, a market tote, and fabric slides. Casual perfection.
Touristy though it may be, the iconic Pike Place Market is not to be missed during your Seattle, Washington travel. If you’re visiting on the weekend, I suggest grabbing a coffee at the first Starbucks shop on Pike and 1st and showing up bright for prime photo shots and first pick of the day’s flowers and foods. I was so impressed by the wide selection of fruit, seafood, and beautiful flowers at this market. At $10 or $15 a bouquet, I am incredibly envious of those of you who live in and around Seattle – I would be filling our house with fresh flowers every weekend! I even bought a mixed bouquet and some fragrant lilacs to carry around with me and gifted them to an elderly woman later in the day. It was worth it to have them in photos, smell their perfume all day, and enjoy them at our picnic. If you’ll be staying in the area for a while, most hotels will have flower vases you can borrow.
Our favorite produce stand was Sosio’s Produce; the champagne mangoes and muskat grapes were delicious and we bought some to snack on during our trip. I spotted their Morel mushrooms right away – I think my Midwestern heart skipped a beat! We found the people working there to be so friendly and knowledgeable. You can ask them anything about flavors or preparation and they’ll be happy to help you. Is your mouth watering reading about the mangoes and grapes? They told me they ship anywhere – you can take a peek at their website here. I think a shipped box of Morels would make for a perfect Father’s Day gift.
We followed our noses across the street to the Polish bakery Piroshky Piroshky for breakfast. These buttery, flaky pastries are filled with your choice of anything from savory like ham or spinach to sweet like cream cheese or rhubarb. This spot becomes busy (with a line out the door and down the street) and after trying their fare, I find the long line completely justified! Their pastries were so delicious, we went here twice during our trip. Show up to Piroshky Piroshky early after a walk through the market and enjoy your breakfast while looking out over Elliott Bay on the other side of the Pike Place Market. Then make one last pass through the market after more of the shops and stands are open.
Wondering what to wear? Go for comfy-casual. Seattle reminded me of Denver with its relaxed, casual style of dress. I have never (and I mean never) found a pair of boyfriend jeans that flatter me until I discovered this pair. They’re slim fitting, so they look less bulky and masculine than others I’ve tried. They run true to size, but you can order one size up and belt them if you want a looser look. The cobblestone and brick streets surrounding the marketplace area call for comfortable shoes, so my leather sneakers were a perfect fit. I wore these exploring La Push Beach, hiking in Hoh Rainforest, and running around the city and they never once made my feet sore or uncomfortable! We are working on a Europe trip and I will definitely be packing these for walking.
I remember the first “nice” suitcase I bought myself. I was studying at FIT in New York for the summer and Bloomingdale’s was having a luggage sale. I decided it was time to upgrade from my leopard print T.J. Maxx bag when I saw a large, black fabric Samsonite I liked and I excitedly rolled it up to the counter. But after a few trips with my new bag, I realized how annoying and dysfunctional it actually was. The woman at the United check-in desk peered over the counter and said, “That bag is overweight; you’ll have to take something out.” I opened up my suitcase, which was nearly empty, and removed my small toiletry kit. I could see by the look of shock on her face she expected the suitcase to be stuffed full. But even without my toiletry bag, it was still overweight. A sweater and pair of boots later, my carry-on now held more than my suitcase and the suitcase was still overweight. Years later, I “gifted” this problem suitcase to my husband and even he, with his minimalist packing tendencies, complains about how heavy it is. And that’s just one of the many awful suitcases I’ve splurged on and regretted later. I’ve quickly learned that more expensive does not equal more durable or more functional when it comes to luggage.
This year, one of our resolutions is to travel more. We don’t yet have children and we have a laundry list of destinations we’d like to see. So for our anniversary, I gifted my husband (and myself, technically… aren’t those the best gifts?!) a set of Away suitcases. I have had several luggage companies reach out to me, but after so many misses in the past I wanted to do my research and choose my own bag, free of posting guidelines and sponsored content in case I was disappointed. So this review is completely unbiased. I read stellar reviews on these bags, I’ve tried them out, and I loved them so much I had to share them with you.
Like most people, I was initially drawn to the Away carry-on because of the handy charging feature; a little pop-out charging battery that allows you to charge two devices while on the go. I’m always on my phone capturing photos and memories when we’re traveling and the ability to charge up during a layover or while waiting for a hotel room has proven to be a useful feature. The lightweight design is easy to roll around an airport and the snug, tucked-in compartments on either side allow me to open the bag and access my laptop without all the contents flying out. As you can see in the photos above, this carryon holds a lot. You can pack an extra change of clothes and shoes, essential toiletries, and in-flight entertainment with room to spare.
I chose this beautiful denim blue color because it’s my husband’s favorite color and because it complements both black and brown when paired with other tote bags or duffels. For our checked bags, I went with the medium size in the hopes it would satisfy any European luggage size requirements and European rental cars. Since traveling with these bags to Aspen and to Seattle I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this lightweight bag’s packing capacity; it keeps clothes and toiletries securely organized in both sides of the bag while somehow offering space for anything we might pick up along the way. And like the carry-on, the design of the medium-sized luggage allows me to unzip my bag without the contents spilling everywhere. We are currently booking more adventures for this year and we can’t wait to take these along.
Tips & Tricks
Another great option to add onto these bags is Away’s monogram-able Tile luggage tag; a tiny location-enabled device hidden in the luggage tag that is active for one year and allows you to locate luggage from your phone anywhere in the world. No matter what the airline says, you’ll know exactly where your bags are located.
Take a peek at Away’s new aluminum collection. These durable bags are less expensive than many other brands on the market and their sleek design is gorgeous. I’m particularly fond of the aluminum carry-on for protecting my camera and laptop.
After exploring the romantic, misty-gray La Push Beach, we headed to Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park for a short hike. This region of Washington receives 12-14 feet of rainfall each year and the results of that nearly constant precipitation are evident; lush ferns, trees hung with moss, and vines delicately sweeping from tree to tree. The Hall of Mosses Trail is a walkable 0.8 mile loop trail within Hoh Rainforest that offers breathtaking views of moss-covered trees with a comfortable 100-foot elevation change. A quick note when speaking of hiking… These leather sneakers have quickly stolen my heart; they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn and put up with quite the beatings during this trip!
The trail took us about an hour to complete and that includes all the time we spent taking photos and practicing with our new landscape lens we purchased just before the trip. If you’re a photographer you will love this location and the incredible shots it offers right from the trail; it’s perfect for practicing and we saw photographers of every skill level throughout the trail. The lighting shining through the trees and moss can challenge even the most prepared photographer, so teach yourself the basics of ISO and shutter speed before you go. Knowing how to lighten certain areas of an image after shooting can help as well.
Hoh Rainforest is not one to be missed. Even the drive to the parking lot deep inside the rainforest amazed me and gave me an idea of the sheer vastness of this beautiful forest. We packed fresh fruit to eat back at the car after our hike as an afternoon snack and I would suggest doing this because we didn’t notice many cafes or restaurants in the area around the Hoh Rainforest. The snack was all we needed and we drove back to Seattle and had a late room service dinner at the hotel.