Destinations Europe Malta

Visit Malta

One of my favorite travel hacks is how easy and affordable it is to fly within Europe. When my boyfriend came to visit me for a week in Italy, we were looking for places to travel to and of course we had to visit Malta. We were on a time crunch, but we were ready for adventure.

We ended up booking our trip from Milan to Malta for 2 days where we stayed at Plaza Regency Hotel. Our trip was quick as we planned a sunset tour one day and the rest, we were ready to go with the flow.

views from hotel room when we visit Malta
View from our room, and across the street is the water.
plaza regency hotel views when you visit Malta
Breakfast buffet and views!

Arriving in Malta

We booked a taxi from the airport that took us right to the hotel which was about 15 minutes away. Looking back, I would suggest doing the bus because you can get a feel as a local and it is way cheaper. But, we wanted to get right to our destination so we did not do that. Sometimes it’s just easier and more comfortable to grab a quick taxi.

Dinner and a Sunset Tour

Our trip was a quick one as we flew in early evening around 5:30pm, and went out for dinner at L’ Ostricaio Balluta. We ordered a shrimp pasta dish and a lobster pasta with a bottle of wine, of course. If you’re looking for a restaurant by the water, this is the place to go when you visit Malta!

shrimp pasta near hotel
Shrimp pasta dish.

The following day we enjoyed our time by the beach, soaked up the sun, grabbed a snack, and then headed to our sunset tour.

Churros and oreo donut from a shop visit Malta
Churros and Oreo Donut for fuel.
stepping on ladder out of the water
Enjoying a swim in the water.

We booked our reservation through Get Your Guide, Camino: Blue Lagoon, Crystal Lagoon, and Sea Caves Tour where we snorkeled, had one too many drinks, and a yummy dinner on the boat. Our dinner was included with the tour tickets, but we did have to put down a security deposit for snorkeling that we got back once equipment was returned. This is one thing you have to do when you visit Malta!

Overlooking the boat from the land.
Hop on the SeaBird boat when you visit Malta.
Snorkeled here in the water and cave.
Spot where we snorkeled.

Leaving Malta

We headed out the following day to the airport, severely hungover, where we thought we would try the buses back. Instead of taking two buses, we took three which honestly isn’t too bad looking back on it now. At the time, we were stressed, and I thought I lost my phone, but it all worked out as we got to the airport on time, and my phone was indeed with me!

Us on the boat during sunset for our visit Malta
We had the best time!

Plans to return

I would definitely go back to Malta as it is a small island, but there’s so many more things to see and do. Next time, I would love to see more architecture, visit the capital, Mdina, and maybe even scuba dive! This blog post has great ideas to things to see!

Looking at the Island from the airplane when you visit Malta
Overlooking the Island
Europe Slovenia

Places to visit in Slovenia

Bled Island
Bled Island

So you plan on going to Slovenia, but you don’t know which places to visit in Slovenia… You’ve come to the right place.

The perfect getaway that includes being close to Lake Bled, surrounded by beautiful scenery, delicious food, and a hot tub right outside your room, you NEED to go glamping at Garden Village, Green Resort and Restaurant in Slovenia. 

Garden Village; places to visit in Slovenia
Garden Village entrance

Types of Accommodations

Glamping is like glorious camping… Here you can pick options that range from treehouse, to pier house, to a tent space that sleeps a range of people. We stayed in a tent that slept 5 of us comfortably. You won’t regret booking accommodation here or putting this down as one of your places to visit in Slovenia.

tent room option to stay in
Tent space that 5 of us shared

Staff and food is unmatched

Upon arrival, the staff was warn and welcoming. After checking in, we visited the restaurant where we had fresh food as they grow their own fruits and vegetables on the land. It’s one of the best places to visit in Slovenia.

Fresh food and drink from staff at restaurant
Beverage and food to eat when we checked in

You can check out more here regarding the locally sourced food they use. “From seed to plate”, you cannot go wrong with eating at this high quality restaurant that sources the food locally. We love and support those kind of places.

Pepper on our tent site
Peppers on our tent site.
Fresh zucchini on our tent site.
Zucchini on our tent site.

One night we ate at the restaurant, and had an amazing meal prepped by the staff. Although I don’t remember what it all was, it was definitely delicious. If you don’t stay here, definitely come here for one of your places to visit in Slovenia for the restaurant experience.

Soup for starters
First up, appetizer of soup
Main course of veggies and meat
Main course of veggies and meat of some fish or chicken.. can’t remember now.
Ended with a very delicious dessert!

We stayed here for about 2 days and wandered the village to see what was around. The treehouse rooms look amazing to stay in, but I did love the hot tub our tent room had.

Treehouse accomdation
Tree house option to stay in
Hot tub outside our tent
Our hot tub outside our room

Heading into Lake Bled

Walking from the village to Lake Bled was about a 10 minute walk. There’s convenience stores to grab food as well as activities to do on the lake. 

We took a boat ride to the island in the center of the lake which has the Church of Assumption, a museum to tour, and a 99 step stairway. It took about 20 minutes to paddle to and then you can walk around and tour the island. Some boat tours have time limits so you have to be aware of how long you’re out there. 

Lake Bled is an absolute must see, so add it to your list of places to visit in Slovenia!

Lake bled and  boat we paddled.
It was a perfect day to take the boat out.
Stairway on Bled Island
Stairway on the Island.

Triglav National Park

There’s also a hiking trail we did that lasted about 2-3 hours. You do have to drive here, and I’m not sure if there’s any busses or trains that can bring you here. So keep that in mind when choosing your places to visit in Slovenia.

It was a long hike but absolutely gorgeous. There are hiking trails in the municipality of Gorje in Triglav National Park and this was just one we picked. We walked along the rushing water and found fish swimming, headed into a small town with cows, and made our way back to the car. It sounds a lot simpler than it was. It was a variety of steepness, roughness, and scenery.

Triglav National Park
Triglav National Park
Picture of cows and town we walked through
Town we walked through on our hike

We ended our hike and drove to Public Bar and Vegan Kitchen Bled which was on the way back our accommodation.

Our time here was short, but I think we made the most of it. Next time. I would definitely check out Bled Castle that’s on the hillside and do more hiking trails. 

Let me know if you’ve been to Lake Bled and what you would recommend doing!


Sunday Routine to Reset for the Week

Sundays are different for everyone. But if you’re like me and want to set your week up for success here’s some ideas of what works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you, or not.. But hopefully it gives you some inspiration to try something new to add to your Sunday routine to reset for the week!

Clean sheets, Happy Tori

To start, I like to change my sheets weekly. This may seem simple, but I didn’t start to do this until after I graduated college. Now, this has become a habit and it makes a difference in overall cleanliness. Something about clean sheets helps me sleep better at night. It’s the simple things to add to your Sunday routine to reset for the week. 🙂

Meal preparation!

The next thing I do is meal prep. I hear from friends and coworkers that they don’t like to prepare meals for a couple reasons. One is they don’t want to eat the same thing multiple times. To that I say, split your week with two types. Do three days for one meal and two days for another. Or prepare two different meals for four days and then have one day be a left over day from the dinner you eat.

You can definitely split things up and you don’t have to prepare just one thing for the whole week. 

There has also been push back regarding the time it takes. Yes, meal prepping does take time. But think about the quality of food you pack for lunch the morning of. If you even get to pack a lunch. I know when I do this last minute, it’s all random things, or I probably forgot something, or it’s just not enough food.

The time you put in preparing meals probably equals the time it would take every morning to pack it. If anything, think of the quality of food you will be eating for the whole week. So this could leave time to do something else, or maybe sleep in if you need it.

Either way, you can experiment and try new meals and see what you like and don’t like. I also love to use these Bento Boxes because they’re super sturdy and have utensils that come with. I am always forgetting a for so seeing this special compartment always reminds to check for a fork.

Add meal prepping to your Sunday routine to reset for the week!

Overall clean space

Cleaning the apartment is a must! On Sundays I love to clean my space and make it organized. During the week, I can get messy and start to throw things around so it’s nice to reset, put things in place, and deep clean from the week. From vacuuming to clearing my desk, to folding clothes, it all needs to be done. I love using Branch Basics as it’s toxic free and safer to use compared to the cleaning supplies in stores.

The truth

I won’t lie. Some Sundays I feel super lazy and might wait a couple extra days to do the sheets, or make meal prepping super easy to where it’s just chicken, rice and some type of veggie.

We’re all different, so do the things that make you feel accomplished and feel good. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. All that matters is that you feel ready good with your Sunday routine to reset for the week! 🙂


Eats in Chicago

Living here for about 5 months, we have checked out quite a few good spots to eat at. We are definitely fortunate to dine out like we have, so I want to share these gems of good eats in Chicago in case you come to town! I included breakfast, lunch, dinner ideas, and there’s of course more, but we’re sticking to three for now.

Breakfast vibes

Egg Harbor Cafe

Hopping off the main street of Michigan Ave, you can find this delicious brunch place on E Illinois Street. The perfect brunch with apple cider mimosas, egg omelets, and more! We reserved our table ahead of time online, and received text updates for when to come in as it gets closer to your time. You do have to check online for what the wait time is, which was nice as it gave us more time to get ready and head out. I’m not sure what the parking situation is as this was within walking distance of where we stayed so it was easy to get to. 

The service was great as the staff was very friendly. We ordered our food and left with happy tummy’s.

goog eats in chicago
Apple cider mimosa & egg omelet.
Look closely for the french toast!

Lunch or Dinner vibes

Su Casa

We always pass this place on our way to the grocery store and one night, we decided to head inside. The margaritas were delicious, and I (usually) always get enchiladas. These enchiladas are the best ones I’ve tasted since living in Southern California. I could never find enchiladas that compared until we went to Su Casa. 

It was inviting and a great atmosphere to be in. We had no wait time and we even went in on a Friday night. That’s hard to find here in Chicago as everyone is out and about.

They dropped chips and salsa on our table, and then we ordered our yummy drinks and food. Check this place out for good eats in Chicago.

good eats in Chicago
Mango Margarita & Chicken Enchiladas

Dinner, or Celebration vibes

Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf

It is on the more expensive side, but the food is absolutely amazing. The vibes and environment is exactly what you would expect from a steakhouse. It has a French inspired flair but more relaxed. Our servers were super friendly and attentive. We came here for my boyfriend’s birthday and they took his wine off the total as a gift. It was so hard to choose what to eat. We decided to go with the 42 day dry aged bone in ribeye, broiled asparagus, and the most delicious, buttery mashed potatoes you could ever imagine.

Birthday boy with the ribeye, potatoes and asparagus
The Birthday boy and our delicious meal

Hidden Gems

These places aren’t your average first picks of places to eat since there’s so many options to chose from. But, they are definitely worth it! Bavette’s is more popular and more of a fine dining place for celebrations, so that might be easy to find. However, if you’re like me then you would not have found it. Steakhouses overwhelm me as there are so many to choose from. Good thing, the guy in the picture above is a big foodie to help me. 😉

Check back soon for more recommendations as we check out new spots!

Czech Republic Destinations Europe Greece Italy Oman Uncategorized

Best places to travel

After traveling to 14 countries, I wanted to share the top 4 best places to travel to! Read until the end to find some travel hacks!

Kayla and I

There are so many beautiful places out there that have so much to offer and I love every place I’ve been to. But, I’m going to break this down into 4 categories that are specific to my experiences.  The categories I came up with are favorite architecture, favorite activities, favorite food, and most unique experience. All of these should be on your bucket list as they are the best places to travel to!

  1. Crete, Greece
  2. Prague, Czech Republic
  3. Muscat, Oman
  4. Lake Como, Italy

Now can you guess which city/country matches which category?

Favorite Architecture

This was pretty easy to choose because the moment I walked over Charles Bridge, I fell in love with Prague, Czech Republic. Ever since I was a sophomore in college in 2018, I wanted to travel to Prague. And I had that chance when my brother and I backpacked Europe in 2021.

If you need ideas for how to pack for a backpacking trip, check this out!

Zach and I overlooking Prague
Overlooking Prague

The architecture was different than anything I’ve ever seen as it was built in the Gothic and Renaissance era. Even though I haven’t seen all of the Harry Potter movies (we’re on number 3), I just felt like I was in a character in the movie. It was so beautiful, so magical, and super easy to navigate!

Saint Vitus Cathedral
Saint Vitus Cathedral
Views from top of Saint Vitus Cathedral
View from Saint Vitus Cathedral

We took the Lime scooters all around town and saw all the main attractions. Within two days of being there, we did a total of 7+ miles on the lime scooters. For my Beatles fans, John Lennon has a wall that surrounds the seat of Maltese Order and in the 1960s, messages appeared here as he was perceived as a symbol of freedom during the regime. 

Wall of John Lennon- freedom figure
John Lennon wall

HACK: Czech people are super friendly and welcoming! Check out Hostel Downtown for the perfect location of being in the heart of the city. Remember, it’s cheaper to book a dorm room than it is to book a private room. Always worth a shot to look at both!

Favorite Activities

Now, this is hard… So many places have tons of things to do and it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. I decided to choose a place where most of our adventures were spontaneous.

And the place I’m choosing is Chania, Crete, Greece!

Honestly, when I think of Greece, I think of the whitewashed buildings in Santorini. As you probably do to. However, that is not the case in Chania, Crete. We had a girls weekend at this location because it was one of the more affordable places for us to go. We booked the flight and hostel, and found places to go to via this video on YouTube. Thanks to That Greek Guy!

One of my favorite things was take a day trip to visit Balos Beach. Now, this isn’t any old beach. This was an ADVENTURE.

Rough terrain drive along the coast
Drive to Balos Beach starting point

First of all, we had to drive along the coast (not a paved road) and pay to get in. There were goats along the way and we had to drive maybe 15 minutes to get to the parking lot. Once we were at the parking lot, so many more goats showed up!

Goats along the way
Goats along the way

We didn’t know the extent of the hiking so, if you go to Balos Beach, bring sneakers! Us four girls were walking in flip flops down the mountain to get to the beach. But, the views and water was absolutely worth it.

walk down to the beach
Walk down to the beach
Me with Balos Beach in the background
Beautiful Balos Beach

The next thing we did was visit Kourtaliotis waterfall. Again, more hiking as you had to go down a stairway, but the views and journey to get there was so fun. The water was freezing, but of course we had to go in!

Walking down the mountain to the waterfall
Walk down to Kourtaliotis waterfall
swimming pool area
Swimming area and through the cave is a waterfall!

Once you get to the swimming pool area, there’s a cave you can swim through to see the waterfall.

After this, we went to Kalypso beach where you can actually stay in the hotel, but we just went for a few hours.

Kalypso hotel
Swam, snorkeled, and napped

After these adventurous days, we decided to stay more in the downtown area and got some tattoos, yummy food, and some shopping! It was a quick weekend, but filled with so much adventure. Definitely one of my favorite trips.

HACK: Some people were surprised we chose to travel here because again when people want to visit Greece, they choose the more popular cities like Santorini, Athens, etc. Nothing is wrong with tha, but this is just a great city to try out if you want to get away from the crowds of people, and experience a quieter island. 

Favorite Food

Okay, I lied. I said my favorite activity spot was hard to choose. Nope, favorite food is hard to pick because I love food and there’s TONS of options.

The winner for this will probably have to be Lake Como, Italy. Traveling here for a quick 2 day trip was nowhere near enough time! One day it was rainy and gloomy, but we still walked around, checked out the churches, and shops. 

Art piece on water
A 10 minute walk from the hostel

However, there’s this train called the Como- Brunate Funicular Railway that takes passengers from the bottom of the lake, up the hill to a town that has an amazing restaurant that overlooks the lake. Apparently, you can hike down instead of returning back down the mountain on the railway. This is something I want to try next time I visit!

We went up in the evening for dinner so we didn’t see much of the views of the lake, but the food was delicious. We ate at the Trattoria Dei Bracconieri Brunate and we started with a tasty meat plate and got two pasta dishes. Of course we had a wine, and if I remember correctly it was a fizzy red wine. The whole experience, meal, and service was 10 out of 10.

Appetizer of meat platter
Delicious variety of meats

My advice, go during the day to see the amazing views.  

HACK: Stay at Ostello Bello for another amazing hostel experience!

Most Unique experience

This is an easy one because it’s a place that a lot of people questioned me about. “Are you sureeee you want to go there?” “Why there?”

Let me tell you why…

Overlooking a town in the moutains

In the Western world, Islam is not talked about very often so I have had limited exposure to it. And when it is talked about, it’s usually negative.

However, I don’t have any negative experiences after visiting Oman. My perspective grew and I appreciated their culture more than ever.

To dive into it, we visited Muscat, Oman freshman year of college for a week long “preview” trip. This is what my college did to get a taste of study abroad. Quite, genius actually. The week we (my class and I) had spent was definitely a trip of a lifetime and just like anywhere, you have to be aware of what’s happening in your surroundings. 

Place we stayed at along the cost
Our hotel we stayed at along the coast

So, to start this week-long trip we flew into Muscat, and then moved to the coast for a couple days, then the sand desert, and finished in the mountains. We had an amazing tour guide and native from Oman, Said, who taught us all about the culture and took us around his beautiful country. We were also led by Jeff Rose, an archaeologist who dedicated most of his career to find human migration out of Africa and Arabia. My eyes have never been wider and ears have never listened more.

Jeff Rose, National Geographic
Jeff Rose, picture creds to Kayla!

Being an outsider in a new country, it is crucial to have respect for the people and culture. We were lucky enough to go inside the Grand Mosque where we had to take off our shoes, cover our hair, and wear long pants and shirts.

Grand Mosque
Grand Mosque
us girls at the mosque
Aquilla, Kayla, and I at the mosque

Before prayer, there is a purification ritual that includes washing the face, hands, arms and feet. Said also sang the Quran which was so beautiful to listen to even though I didn’t understand what he was saying. 

Tour guide, Said, singing
Said singing

Did I forget to mention we went dune bashing, swam in caves, and rode camels?? When I say this was a trip of a lifetime, it was just that. A TRIP OF A LIFETIME. 

Dune bashing, cars lined up
The cars we rode while dune bashing in the sand desert

Shout out to my professors and classmates who was along with me on this trip. Comment your favorite part about it <3


I think all trips are the trip of a lifetime because it’s all so different and unique in it’s own way. Whether you’re going to a new restaurant, traveling a few hours away, or going to the opposite side of the world.. It’s all so special and should never be taken for granted!

Travel hacks

Okay, to summarize… Remember to always look at hostels. The community within hostels is so fun and you meet so many amazing people. Enjoy the journey because traveling can be stressful but enjoy the time as it’s just as important. Don’t be afraid to go somewhere that’s a more quiet street (or city) because there is just as much beauty, probably better food, and better prices. (cough, cough, side streets in Venice.) Continue your search on google flights and skyscanner. I hope you find the best deals.

Talk to the local people, they’re the best ones to meet!

P.S. You didn’t say Australia?!

If you know me, you know I studied abroad in Australia in 2021. And yes, you’re right… that is definitely one of the best places to travel to.

But, that’s a story for another time. <3

What to pack

What to pack for 10 days

So… flight is booked, hostel is booked, transportation is ready, things to do and see, but what do I pack?!?

Trip of a lifetime

When my brother and I backpacked Europe for 2 weeks, we had just ONE backpack each. (Duh, it’s called backpacking.) And I know you’re thinking, no way can I go 10-14 days with just a backpack. 

Well, I’m here to tell you, yes… yes, you can. And you WILL!

For our trip, we went from Treviso to Prague to Berlin, to Warsaw, to Brussels, to Amsterdam and back to Treviso in September. Naturally, you look at the weather to figure out what to pack. For us, the weather was perfect and we didn’t need big coats, fancy outfits, or things like that. We stayed in each city at most 2 days.

Zach and I in Prague looking over the city, what to pack
Looking over Prague, Czech Republic

If you’re backpacking Europe, probably best to do it in the summer. You can backpack any time of the year, but in the winter, you’ll want warmer clothes than this packing list includes.

And here you are freaking out on what to pack.

But, here I am to help relieve this stress.

Backpacking- what to pack when traveling 10 days
Zach’s backpack. Not sure how he packed, but this is all he used for our 10 day trip.

Packing list

This is a rough idea on what to pack for a 10 day trip:

  • One travel day outfit, you can wear this to your destination and back.
  • 4 shirts 
  • One light jacket
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • Comfy walking shoes (I wore converse the whole time.. mistake)
  • Underwear
  • 2 bras, or #freethetitties 
  • 3 pairs of Pajamas (Could maybe get away with 2)
  • Toiletries (face wash, face lotion, sunscreen, tooth brush, toothpaste, contacts, contact solution, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hairbrush)
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone charger 
  • Adapter for outlets
  • Camera/ Go pro charger
  • Headphones
  • Book to read on trains/planes
  • Passport
  • Confirmation of all hostels/hotels
  • Debit card

*You can always do laundry in hostels, or hotels. Make sure all liquids are travel size (3.4 oz)*

During this trip, I was doing a jump rope challenge so I also fit in a jump rope, work out clothes, and running shoes. It was a full backpack!

What to pack, purse and backpack for 10 day trip
This is the best picture I have of my backpack. I had this purse which had my important documents and things close by. Then I had a normal Dolfin brand backpack. (Like a Jansport size).

With that being said, Zach and I did laundry one time while traveling. The idea is to re-wear your clothes. Your shirts can be worn twice, and bottoms can be worn at least twice before washing. The more neutral items you pack, the more you can mismatch.

Lastly, for my picture taking people, it’s okay if you have the same outfit on in multiple pictures… that’s also why you pack neutral items to switch it up.

And just like that, you’re ready for a 10 day trip!

This was the best two weeks a girl could ask for with her brother. Shout out, Zach, love you. 

I want to hear from you!

Let me know where your next trip is and if this helped you pack! 

Did I forget anything??

Extra tip!

Pro tip: Download Google Maps and TrainLine for Europe travel! Google maps makes it easier to get around the cities by walking. TrainLine has affordable train tickets that you can purchase ahead of time or day of.

Earth friendly Hair care Skin care

Safe Beauty

Did you know that the U.S. bans 11 ingredients in cosmetic products? This compares to the EU who bans 1,300+ ingredients, and Canada bans 500+ ingredients. But the cosmetic industry says we have nothing to worry about? Our skin is our largest organ and it can be unpredictable how much of products can seep into our bloodstream. Many products contain ingredients that can affect our hormones, cause cancer, or result in irritability. We need to support safe beauty companies that work towards limiting toxic ingredients in our products.

Cosmetic products do not get approval before being put onto shelves of stores. The exception are color additives in products that must have an explanation of the intended use. The FDA’s website has more information on what ingredients are regulated and how it is used. The caution on products saying how to use them is as far as regulation goes for most products. Here is an example about regulation of parabens.

However, the Environmental Working Group  (EWG) focuses on environmental health by looking into legislation, agricultural practices, and loopholes that companies find to put our health at risk. According to EWG, women apply about 12 products onto their skin a day exposing themselves to 168 ingredients daily. Men average about 6 products a day, or 85 ingredients a day.

Beautycounter, a Safe Beauty brand

My cousin introduced me to Beautycounter and safe beauty about a year and a half ago. The opportunity to join as a consultant fell into my lap and I joined for a few reasons. One reason is I love the advocacy that Beautycounter does to change laws and the testing that is done to use safe ingredients in their products. 10 laws have been put into place to regulate the cosmetic industry, and that is a great win so far!

My two favs! Cleansing Balm for make up remover and hydration
mask, and the AHA Reflect Effect mask for exfoliation and
leaving my face so smooth!

Skin care, hair care, and more!

Think of how many products you use daily. Now, think about what it would be like if you swap it out for a safer product. Start with hand soap and hand sanitizer, or shampoo and conditioner, or make up, or lotion to try something new of safe beauty. Beautycounter gives high quality results, and these products are rigorously tested to make sure toxic ingredients are extremely limited.

Check out the Never List to learn more about the 1800 ingredients that are never found in these products. 

If you need a new skin care routine, check out my two step skin care routine here!

Sunscreen for face and body, and tinted sunscreen

Sustainability in Safe Beauty

In addition to rigorously tested products, the wide range of products you can shop at, Beautycounter also focuses on reusing and recycling almost every part of the product. The cream blush is reusable and you can swap out the colors to replace the blush part. The shampoo, conditioner, and body wash pumps are usable as you can keep the pump and replace the bottles when you run out. Beautycounter dedicates their mission to offset greenhouse emissions and is working to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Save the pump, recycle the bottle, and get a new one!

Support brands who are earth friendly

Support safe beauty brands who are doing the work to protect consumers and are making a difference in the cosmetic industry. It can be more expensive when you buy from Beautycounter, but it is for your health. If you think about the high end skin care lines, the prices are most likely the same. But, those companies probably are not doing the work to be sustainable, advocate for laws, or perform at the level Beautycounter does.

You are investing in your health to minimize exposure to toxic ingredients and supporting a company that goes to the federal level to demand changes in laws and regulations. Safe beauty is what you deserve and Beautycounter is a great place to vote with your money!

*These are affiliate links meaning I receive a percentage of your purchase.

Earth friendly Home necessities

Cleaning Supplies

Toxic ingredients are all around us. When I walk into grocery stores, reading which ingredients are used is not something I usually do. As you pick out your cleaning supplies, do you know what ingredients are included in them?

Paying attention to what is in my products did not seem important until I was introduced to Beautycounter a year ago. It’s tough to keep track of what ingredients to stay away from. That’s why I shop with brands that are actively making a difference. I am moving into my new apartment and want to include more safe products that I use daily. Branch Basics was founded by Allison, Kelly, and Marilee who dealt with life threatening diagnoses that were then improved by removing harmful ingredients. Stories like this are what gives me hope and motivation to create a better life for myself and those around me.

the starter kit cleaning supplies
Premium Starter Kit for $75, and an additional cost for the wool dryer balls.

Branch Basics Cleaning Supplies

Thanks to social media and the community of people who dedicate themselves to living a life without toxins, I found Branch Basics. The Premium Starter Kit is perfect since it includes all the necessities. For only $75, this kit that comes with a concentrate and oxygen boost that you put into the bottles and mix with water. It comes with streak free, bathroom, and all purpose spray bottles, as well as foaming wash and laundry detergent. I add the $19 wool balls for the dryer that replace dryer sheets. You can also put essential oils in them to help your clothes smell aromatic. I used a friend’s code to get me $10 off and you can use this link to get $10 off your order! 

Clean your space

How great is it to work in a space that is clean? Honestly, cleaning is one of my favorite things to do. And it’s pretty easy to clean with this kit! To start, use the concentrate to build your bottles and then top it off with water. Each bottle shows you exactly how much water to use and how much concentrate to pour in. The concentrate allows you to have 3 all purpose bottles, 3 streak free bottles, 3 bathroom bottles, 3 foaming wash bottles, and 1 laundry detergent bottle. Using products that are toxin free allows for a healthier space to live in.

concentrate cleaning supplies
The concentrate bottle explains how many
cleaning bottles you can get out of it.


This catchy phrase from Branch Basics are words to live by. It can be overwhelming choosing what cleaning supplies are best for you and your family when there are so many options out there. Some companies are involved with greenwashing. Greenwashing is when companies show they are sustainable for marketing reasons but is not doing active work to be sustainable. It is understandable that it can be easier and more accessible to grab what you need at the grocery store and go. Sometimes you don’t have the time to wait 7 days until it ships to your house. Tossing the toxins doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you swap one thing, that’s an improvement. The regulation of ingredients in America is not the greatest when compared to other countries.

We have to work together and share the brands that do look out for our health. The stories of people removing harmful ingredients literally change people’s lives and improve their health for the better.

Spray bottle cleaning supplies
All purpose spray, streak free, bathroom, and foaming wash.

Get started with your journey

If you’re ready to change your cleaning supplies, and toss the toxins, start with Branch Basics. You will not regret it. You also receive free shipping on orders over $39!

A mission for healthy homes

This company and their mission focuses on creating a more safe environment to live. When you clean, think about how many products you use. You can swap these cleaning supplies with this Starter kit, or choose a few items to start with. It can be a big purchase, but it is your health and your home we’re talking about. Branch Basics cleaning supplies perform well and it does not include that strong, synthetic chemical smell other cleaning products give off.

Destinations Europe Italy

A Day in Venice

Spending less than 24 hours in Venice is a quick trip. Of course, you can spend a few more days here to enjoy more of it, but if you’re in a time crunch like my boyfriend and I then here is what you can do to see the city in a day. 

Heading into Venice

Of course you can drive into Venice and park in a parking structure, but the best way to go about traveling here is by train. Bikes are nowhere to be found in Venice, since there are so many bridges and narrow streets! You can’t beat the price of less than $2 a person from Venezia Mestre to Venezia Santa Lucia. (Tip: download TrainLine for ways to get around Europe.) Going by train is the perfect way to head into the city because once you head out of the train station, below is the view you see and you can walk wherever you would like.

A Day in Venice
View outside of Train station to the right
A day in Venice
This is from the side, but this is the building you see as soon as you step outside. Beautiful.

Getting our day started…

It was early morning for us so we had 11 hours to walk through the city. As soon as we got out of the train station, we took a left to the S. Maria di Nazareth church next door.

church and station a day in venice
This is the view from the main bridge, and the train station is to the left of this picture.
Inside S. Maria di Nazareth

It’s free to walk through so of course we had to check it out. Afterwards, we walked across the main bridge by S. Maria di Nazareth (pictured above) and enjoyed the view of the Grand Canal.

A dream <3

While we were standing on the bridge, there was a Global Climate Strike that was happening right outside the train station. We watched that, and then went to find breakfast which is really just a pastry and cappuccino from a small cafe. I always get the chocolate croissant, but if that’s not available they have a marmalade pastry that is just as delicious. I can taste it now.

We continued walking towards Saint Mark’s Square where the main shops are located and more beautiful buildings like Saint Mark’s Basilica, Saint Mark’s Bell Tower, etc! Did you know Venice sits on top of 10 million tree trunks?! 

View of the square for a day in venice
Saint Mark’s Square – Saint Mark’s Basilica

It can be confusing to walk through these narrow streets, but there are signs on the edge of buildings if you look closely. (Tip: Use GoogleMaps to get around too.)  I have been to Venice before, so I had a rough idea of where things are.


My boyfriend and I enjoy good food- how can you not?! Looking at the picture above, we took a right and went all the way to the water. We found local artists, selling their work and so I bought this beautiful picure.

A Day in Venice
Saint Mark’s Square

We wanted yummy Italian food so while we were walking around we ate at this restaurant near the water, down a main street. Sorry- don’t remember the name! It’s been a while.

Overlook Venice

After lunch, we decided to go up the tower. Saint Mark’s Bell Tower is beautiful to look at from below. However, for about $20/ person you can go up the tower and overlook the beautiful city. We took an elevator up, and spent time looking at every angle the view had to offer. Then, you wait in line to head back down the elevator.


Before heading to the train station to go to Milan, we grabbed dinner at a small restaurant that was hidden in the streets of Venice. Of course we grabbed Carbonara pasta, and wine. Unfortunately, we did not take pictures of this and I don’t remember where we had it, but if you find restaurants that are hidden in the streets- those are the places to go! The places along the water and and near main attractions will be much more expensive.

Book that train to Venice!

Wherever you are in the world, book that plane or train! One thing you will never regret is the things you see and people you meet. The memories I make traveling are my favorite things to think about. There are ways to travel on the cheaper side, so look on google flights or skyscanner and have a great time!

California Destinations North America United States

One Day in Napa 

I will be honest with you… It wasn’t even one day in Napa, it was less than ten hours. Coming from Pacifica, it was about an hour and forty five minute drive to the first Winery- Laird Family Estate and then a twelve minute drive to Ackerman Family Vineyard. We had a slow start to our day since we left the house around late afternoon, but we wanted to use our time wisely as we only had one day in Napa. We arrived at the first winery and just did wine by the glass at 3pm. After that glass, we hopped back in the car and did an hour wine tasting at 4pm to 5pm. All the wine was very good, however I still will always prefer red wine to white wine.

At Ackerman Family Vineyard, I was surprised by how much I liked the peachy white wine. Sometimes people mention how fruity they taste and I never taste it, but this time I did. I always enjoy dessert wine, but this white wine did the trick for me.

When you go wine tasting, there is a science to it. The “correct” way to do it is: look, sniff, swirl, sip. I’m not a professional by any means, so check out this article to find out more.

Don’t get me wrong… pour wine in front of me and I’ll drink it, and most likely enjoy it. I always love trying new wines to see how they taste and smell so one day in Napa is never a day wasted. This was a quick day trip, so if you find yourself crunching for time, it is always best to set reservations! Thank you cell phones!

Laird Family Estate

This is the typical winery I picture in my head when I hear “Napa”. There were a variety of tables to pick from with the view of the vineyard and mountains in the background. I did not take a picture, unfortunately, so I guess you have to see it for yourself! The staff was lovely and very helpful. We enjoyed one glass of wine in the comfy couches and soaked up the California sun. If you have more time to spend here, you can sit inside or outside. Along the hallway where you check in, there are cute little gifts you can look at and purchase, if desired. At this winery, we spent about $15 per glass of wine and bought a bottle for $60. After 45 minutes, we had to jump over to the other location. 

One day in Napa- Laird Estate
Front entrance to Laird Family Estate.

Ackerman Family Vineyards

Driving through a residential neighborhood, we were surprised to see the Ackerman House on the corner that also offers wine tastings! This location was fixed up by Lauren Ackerman very nicely. It is quiet, as it had trees and fences that kept it secluded although it was close to other houses. They also offer cooking classes, and hold events! I forget the max number, maybe 40?  For the wine tasting we tried 4 different wines, and bought two bottles to come home with us. For two tastings we spent $65 per person and for the wine we spent $130 for two bottles. 

Ackerman House
Ackerman- One day in Napa
4 different wines, my favorite was the Alavigna Tosca!

Porchfest at Ackerman Family Vineyards

Due to many business and events closing down from COVID-19, Porchfest is coming back to Napa where many people from all over the country come to taste wine, listen to music, and hang out like a local. Most houses offer their porches for bands to come play and it sounds like a great time to spend a summer weekend. We visited the second to last weekend in July, but we were told Porchfest happens the last weekend of July. Find out more here!

Dinner at C Casa Restaurant 

After wine tasting, we moseyed on over to check out Oxbow Public Market which has tons of food to choose from. We picked C Casa Restaurant which was decent for Latin cuisine. To share, we ordered the nachos with chicken which was packed with veggies and sour cream.  I enjoyed the Baja Fish Tacos, and a Mai Tai. My sister got the salad which she was not a fan of since it had anchovies on it. My mom ordered the Vegan Chili Verde Tofu that she also thought was delicious. To end our dinner, we got two Cafe Con Leches that were very yummy, and very rich in flavor. The service was decent, and it didn’t seem too busy for a Saturday evening- although we did sit outside and I’m not sure what the employees thought!

drinks- one day in napa
Mai Tai
c casa at oxbow market- one day in napa
Baja fish tacos
dessert- one day in napa
Cafe Con Leche

When in Napa

When you come to Napa, be prepared to spend money. I’m sure you find ways to do it cheaper like not buying bottles to take home, but that’s hard when you find ones you like! It is also very warm so dress for the sun and have a good time!