RECIPES

KETO STRAWBERRY LIME MINI CHEESECAKES

Keto Strawberry Lime Cheesecake

Happy Summer!  Yesterday was a strawberry moon did you see it?  Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it, but yesterday I celebrated the strawberry moon by creating this delicious no bake keto Strawberry Lime Mini Cheesecake.  You know I love posting strawberry desserts… they’re my jam, but this year I’m switching things up with a keto recipe.  I’ve been able to lose some of my 2020 weight gain doing keto and I thought it was time to celebrate with a summer dessert.  These mini cheesecakes are a perfect way to celebrate summer barbecues and the Fourth of July… plus it gave me a reason to use my Le Creuset mini cocottes that I love!

If you’re wondering what makes this recipe keto friendly, that would be the almond flour crust, powdered erythritol sweetener, and high fat content.  Part of the reason why I thrive so well on the keto diet is because I find fat so satiating.

Now let’s talk a little bit about powdered erythritol.  Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that comes in granulated and powdered form but it has 0 net carbs and is considered keto friendly. The best non-nutritive sweeteners are natural ones like stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol.  These natural sugar substitutes contain few or no calories, meaning they won’t raise your blood sugar or impact ketosis.  Having said that I truly believe all keto desserts should be eaten in moderation or on special occasions. 

For this recipe I’m using a powdered blend of erythritol that is blended with monkfruit.  I was able to pick it up at my grocery store, you can purchase the exact brand I’m using HERE.  Although it’s a blend of monkfruit it’s 99% erythritol.

Keto Strawberry Lime Cheesecake

For this recipe you’ll need a hand mixer or a stand mixer.  The majority of the filling is a mixture of softened cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and of course erythritol.  To make sure this recipe is successful you’ll need to make sure your heavy cream is nice and cold.  Once all the filling ingredients are blended you’ll need to whip the mixture on high until it’s nice and stiff.  I want to stress that if the mixture is runny it will not firm up in the refrigerator.  The firm texture comes from whipping, so make sure it’s nice and thick like the above photo.

To get that great strawberry flavor we blend fresh strawberries together in a mini food processor or a blender.  If you don’t have one you can probably mash them with a fork.  I just love the combo of strawberry and lime, it’s so summery and fresh!  To get that great lime flavor we zest an entire lime and add it to the mixture.  Be sure to save the lime and you can drizzle a squeeze of lime before you eat this delicious dessert!

Keto Strawberry Lime Cheesecake

These delicious treats are just over 4 carbs and so satisfying!  A word about the serving size, the nutrition info is based off dividing this mixture into 10 equal portions and since these are no bake you can easily use any small dish you like… if you don’t have ramekins, little tea cups could work!  Keep in mind if you split the dish up into less than 10 portions the carb count per portion will go up a little and if you make more than 10 portions the carb count goes down.

When it comes to calculating sugar alcohols it can be a little confusing.  Generally speaking, half of the carbs from sugar alcohols can be subtracted from the total carbs listed on the nutrition label.

However, erythritol is an exception. If it’s the only sugar alcohol in the ingredient list, its carbs can be completely subtracted from the total carbs.  

Keto Strawberry Lime Mini Cheesecakes

Servings: 10
Calories: 237kcal

Equipment

  • Mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered erythritol
  • 5 medium sized strawberries
  • 1 lime, zested
  • Optional - extra strawberries & lime zest for garnishing

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl mix together melted butter and almond flour with a fork.
  • Divide almond flour mixture into 10 small serving ramekins.
  • Wash strawberries and trim tops off, using a blender or mini food chopper puree the strawberries.
  • With a high speed mixer and whisk attachment, whip the heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, powdered erythritol, strawberries, and lime zest together on low speed until blended.
  • Increase the mixer speed to high and mix until the mixture has thickened. Do not add the mixture to the ramekins unless it has thickened.
  • Spoon the filling evenely on top of the crust and chill at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  • Add extra strawberries, lime zest, and lime juice for garnish if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 10g | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 76mg | Fiber: 1.36g | Sugar: 2g

Le Creuset mini cocottes

I hope you love these delicious keto treats as much as I do, it’s strawberry lime love!

 

Laura

FASHION

FUN MIX & MATCH WORKOUT WEAR

Lululemon Mix and Match workout outfits

I’ve been on a big fitness kick lately so I thought I’d share some of my favorite mix and match workout wear pieces with you!  Unless you were one of the lucky ones, I think most of us gained a little while being stuck at home during COVID.  My daily bread baking phase, as delicious as it was, was definitely not kind to my waistline.  I don’t know about you but I can’t just snap my fingers and force diet and exercise motivation.  If I force it, it doesn’t stick very long.  But alas I’ve found my motivation, and do you know what gave it to me?  Sushi!  I know… doesn’t that sound crazy?  Let me explain.

Brian and I are big sushi lovers and since moving to Colorado we’re always looking for amazing new restaurants to try.  One day we found a sushi restaurant that had great reviews, yes the food was delicious, but across the street was a Pilates studio.  The next time we ate there as I was walking up to the door I turned my head and there it was again, the Pilates studio.  During dinner it all hit me, I have not felt good about my body since leaving Pilates.  I took regular Pilates reformer classes in Texas and I didn’t realize how happy it made me.  I’m pretty injury prone and Pilates made me feel strong, lean, and healthy.. plus it’s such a great way to zone out and de-stress.

I’m happy to say I’m back in reformer classes and I’ve never felt better!  It’s definitely an investment in my time, but it’s a worthy one.  I drive an hour each way to class meaning each time I take a Pilates class it’s a 3 hour time investment, but my body and my health are worth it.  There are always excuses or reasons not to do something, but my new motto is NO EXCUSES!  Ok getting back on topic here, it was a few weeks after taking classes that I realized my workout clothes were pretty pitiful and it was time for some upgrades.  Can I just say having cute and flattering workout clothes has only made me more excited to attend classes.  It’s funny how that works.  So below I’m sharing with you some of my favorite pieces that are easy to mix and match that are also very comfortable.

 

Over 40 workout outfits

I’ve got to say I’m not a big fan of racerback style sports bras, I have a few but honestly they have always hurt my neck and upper back.  So for the most part I’ve learned to embrace my straps hanging out.  It’s especially cute when it adds a pop of color I think.  If you’re looking for a flattering workout top that isn’t fitted around your stomach this one is great!  I’m wearing my regular size and it’s loose while still being flattering.  It looks really cute knotted too.  I love how these leggings are quick drying.  I spilled water on them and  was dry about a minute later.

Leggings | Top | Sports Bra | Earrings

Lululemon Mix and Match workout outfits

When it came to workout leggings I used to have a black only rule, but this year is all about changes so I’m branching out and having more fun.  I love the pretty floral pattern here but even more I love the pockets on the sides!  They’re hardly noticeable but it’s a great spot to stick your keys or phone while exercising.

Leggings | Top | Earrings

Zella workout outfits

Leggings | Top | Sports bra

Give me a good solid black outfit anyway!  I love the sheer stripes on this top, it’s fun and flirty without being too revealing.  I chose a black sports bra but I think a contrasting pop of color would be another fun look, this top comes in several other colors too.  Another win for the leggings, not only are they buttery soft but they have those clever pockets that are so handy.

Mix and Match workout outfits

Leggings | Top | Sports Bra

Snakeskin has been so popular lately but I haven’t really jumped on the trend.  No, I’m not afraid of snakes, I just haven’t found a piece that really jumped out to me until now.  These leggings just make working out more fun!  I also love a good basic workout tank and this 2 pack was such a great price, it looks cute relaxed or knotted.

Amazon Mix and Match workout outfits

Leggings | Top

This top has a built in sports bra so you can skip it for low or medium impact workouts.  It is such a bargain and super flattering too.  It’s racerback but it doesn’t put pressure on my neck and upper back like the sports bras do.  Comes in several other colors too.

Lululemon Mix and Match workout outfits

Leggings | Top

Another workout top that has a built in bra, and it’s perfect for low impact workouts such as yoga, pilates, walking, and cycling.  It comes in other colors too.  Happy workouts my friends!  I think workouts are so much more when you have a cute outfit on.  Wouldn’t you agree?

 

Laura

TRAVEL

ESTES PARK COLORADO SUMMER GUIDE 2021

Summer is nearly here and that means it’s time to start making travel plans!  Last summer I really wanted to write an Estes Park summer guide but the reality was we were deep in Covid.  We’ve lived in the Estes Park area for the last two years and before that we visited here every year for a decade, and I have learned a lot of information during that time.

If you’re familiar with North Colorado or Rocky Mountain National Park odds are you’re familiar or you’ve at least heard of Estes Park.  Summertime in Estes is always busy so I thought I would put together a summer guide since COVID to help people with their travel plans.  Notice I said the words since COVID.  Colorado is cautiously opening up but COVID has still affected some businesses, restaurants, and activities.  Things have been rapidly changing here and I’ll give you the most up-to-date information I know of, but it’s probably wise to double check things before you visit.

Below I’ll share with you my favorite things to do, Rocky Mountain National Park updates, favorite restaurants, and a few other helpful tips.

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

If you’re coming to Estes Park in the summer then chances are you have plans to visit RMNP at least once while you are here.  Whether this is your first time or you’re an experienced visitor, there has been one significant change that you need to be aware of – the timed entry reservation system.  This was implemented for the first time last year because of COVID, but had been in the works for several years due to overcrowding in the park.  Park visitation has been drastically increasing year after year for the past decade (not counting COVID in 2020), and this is the solution that park officials came up with to alleviate crowded parking lots and roads.

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

Let me stress this important point, the timed entry reservation system is completely separate from admission fees.  You still have to pay a fee or have an annual pass to get in during guard station hours, which I believe are something like 5 am to 6 pm, but I am not sure about that.  The reservation system requires that you also have a timed entry reservation during the hours of 9 am to 3 pm.  Before or after those hours you don’t need a reservation to enter, but if the guard stations are open then you still have to either pay a fee or have an annual pass.

Now, here is another new change…this year they divided the park into two zones, the uber-popular Bear Lake Corridor, and the rest of the park.  When making your timed entry reservation you can choose either zone, but if you don’t have a Bear Lake reservation then you can’t enter that area during reservation hours.  On the other hand, if you do have a Bear Lake reservation you can access the main park also.  Also please note that the Bear Lake Corridor requires a timed entry reservation all day (from 5 am to 6 pm).  One last point to be stressed is that once you have entered the park using your timed entry reservation and paid your admission fee, you are free to enter and exit the park as much as you want the rest of the day.  This is different from some other parks where once you’re in you can’t leave and re-enter.  At RMNP you can.  Go HERE to read about various entry fees and passes and to make your purchase, and go HERE to read more about the timed entry reservation system and to purchase reservations ($2 per daily reservation).

But besides Rocky Mountain National Park, there are many other things to do and see in Estes Park…

THE STANLEY HOTEL

Rich with history, you’ll find The Stanley Hotel with lots of fun stuff to do.  This spooky historic hotel is known to be haunted with a few spirits, and after Stephen King stayed a few nights in Room 217 he was inspired to write The Shining (we’ve stayed in that room too!).  Outside you’ll even find a Shining inspired hedge maze to walk through.  History and ghost tours run daily and you can’t miss Aiden Sinclair’s incredible live shows!   If you happen to be hungry there is also a restaurant there (dinner reservations recommended), a bar, and a coffee and ice cream shop in the basement.

SNOWY PEAKS WINERY

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

Snowy Peaks Winery has award winning Colorado wines with indoor and outdoor seating along with a super friendly and knowledgeable staff.  Wine flights (seen above) are just $9 and a fun way to sample the amazing wines!  A variety of cheeses, meats, crackers, and chocolates are available for purchase too.  Snowy Peaks is open daily from 11-7 and they have live music every Friday on the patio in the summer.

MUSTANG MOUNTAIN COASTER

Estes Park Colorado Mustang Mountain Coaster

The Mustang Mountain Coaster is the newest addition to Estes Park.  This alpine coaster has gorgeous views and lets you control the speed of your ride, fast or slow!  Riders of at least 3 years old can ride with an adult.  A single ride is $20 per person and a three pack ride is $35.  Go for the three pack ride, it’s a great deal!  Video of the experience is available for $10.

LAKE ESTES MARINA

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

Come to the Lake Estes Marina while you’re here and rent a boat, kayak, or canoe to cruise the lake in comfort and style.  You can also bring your own boat and launch here for a small fee.  Swimming and power sports are prohibited, but this makes for a more quiet and relaxing time on the water.  Plus, we don’t want to scare the fish away!  Fishing is available from your boat, the dock, or the shore, but be sure to get a license first.  The marina also rents bikes and pedal carts for use on the Lake Estes Trail, and there are picnic tables and a pavilion nearby.

ESTES PARK AERIAL TRAMWAY

From late May to early September the Estes Park Aerial Tramway is open from 9-6.  Covid restrictions have now been lifted and this tram is a great experience.  You’ll take a 5 minute ride to the top with sweeping views of the mountains and the town, but once your ride ends the fun isn’t over!  There is plenty to see and do at the top of the mountain.  There is a gift shop, cafe, and plenty of mountain terrain to explore.  The gift shop sells peanuts to feed the very friendly and chubby chipmunks that are around.  They’ll come right up to you and some may want to eat out of your hand!

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

OTHER THINGS TO DO

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

Horseback riding – Sombrero Stables offers rides for those 6 and up.  Whether you choose the 30 minute, 1 hour, or 2 hour ride you’ll see gorgeous views from your ride.

Main Street – A visit to Estes Park would not be complete without a walk down the main strip, Elkhorn Avenue.  Here you will find many clothing and souvenir shops featuring Estes Park items and gifts, restaurants, candy and ice cream stores, and even a few Christmas stores.

Estes Park Historic Theatre – This historic theatre is the oldest single motion theatre still operating in the United States.  Inside you’ll be swept back in time while watching today’s new and classic movies.  A cafe is also available for drinks and snacks.

Rapid Transit Rafting –  From June to September rafting trips are available from Estes Park for those 7 years and up.  Half day trips are available on the Cache la Poudre and full day trips are available on the Colorado River, with lunch included.

Trout Haven Pond – This pond is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and a fun way to test your angling skills.  Rods are available for rental and you pay for what you catch.  They will also clean and pack what you catch.  No license is required.

Coffee on the Rocks – Coffee, wine, beer, and snacks are available at this cute little coffee shop.  There is plenty of outdoor seating along the pond with lots of friendly ducks and geese and it’s really fun to feed them!  Cups of food are available for $1.

Green Jeep Tours – This tour company has a variety of tours to offer!  Safari tours, hiking tours, brewery tours, and Grand Lake tours are available.  This is a great way to explore Estes Park and the Rockies all while taking in fresh mountain air.

Estes Park Trolleys – This 3 hour tour is open from May-October and takes you up to some of the most amazing natural wonders in the lower level of Rocky Mountain National Park.

YMCA of the Rockies – Inside the beautiful YMCA camp you’ll find hiking trails, playgrounds, sports, arts and crafts, and even more family friendly activities available.  Day passes are available for those staying off-site.

Golfing – Whether you are into mini-golf or the real thing, Estes Park has several courses to meet your needs.

Watch the elk – The Estes Park elk herds are world famous so be sure to take some time to drive around and look for them.  In the summertime they tend to move up a little higher in the mountains to stay cool and avoid the crowds, but if you’re looking for them you’ll probably find them.

SHORT DAY TRIPS FROM ESTES PARK

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

If you’re looking for a quick get-away from Estes Park there are many of great options!  Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver are easily doable in a day with plenty to do.  But odds are you’re wanting mountain charm.  Glen Haven is just a short drive down County Rd 43 switchbacks.  There isn’t a lot to do in Glen Haven but the views are incredible and it’s a must to stop at the Glen Haven General Store for their famous cinnamon rolls!  The Crosier Mountain trailhead is located near the General Store, depending on your skill level it can be a tough hike but the views are worth it!

Allenspark is a short drive and you’ll see amazing views of Longs Peak on the way.  Similar to Glen Haven it’s a very small town, aside from the scenic views you can stop by Saint Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock, which is absolutely stunning and you can pick up a slice of delicious pizza at the Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria.  The Pizzeria is really charming and fun, however I highly suggest you call or check their Facebook page before heading that direction.

Lyons is a larger town with lots of quirky shops and restaurants, located down Hwy 36.  Mojo Taqueria has some of the best tacos I’ve had!

If you take Trail Ridge Road (US 34) through RMNP and over the Continental Divide, the first town you will come to is Grand Lake.  There you will find more shops and restaurants as well as more hiking trails and a beautiful lake with a couple of marinas that offer boat rentals.  I could probably write an entire blog post just on Grand Lake, which I’ll probably do next!  For now, though I at least want to recommend the Grand Lake Lodge for their restaurant and bar, Huntington House Tavern, which has stunning views and delicious food, and another delicious restaurant that we love called The Rapids.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

Bird and Jim – Shown above, this gorgeous restaurant is my favorite in Estes Park.  The upscale food features lots of locally sourced ingredients.  Everything is amazing, from the ahi tuna tacos to the pheasant chowder, it’s all delicious!  Sunday brunch is a treat too, be sure and try a bacon bloody Mary!  During peak hours this place gets really busy.  Reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.

Dunraven at the Estes Park Resort – This restaurant moved from it’s previous location to beautiful Lake Estes.  You’ll get the same delicious Italian food plus sweeping views of the lake.  The new location features breakfast and lunch.  We love having breakfast and mimosas on the outdoor patio along the lake.

The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern – Quirky, great mountain food and full bar, and live music.

Hunter’s Chophouse – With rustic wooden walls and antler chandeliers, Hunters features old fashioned mountain charm.  They have a wide variety of unusual meats to choose from and an extensive wine list.  Be sure to try the wild game brats sampler or the smoked elk carpaccio!

Twin Owls Steakhouse – Twin Owls recently moved into a new location too that includes indoor and outdoor dining with gorgeous mountain views.  With an extensive menu you’ll find some of the best steaks and seafood around.

Smokin Dave’s BBQ – Definitely the best barbecue in Estes Park!  Try my favorite, the pork green chili, or my husband’s favorite burger to tackle, the Manhandler!  It’s definitely a popular place, so be prepared for a wait during peak dining hours.

The View – This restaurant is inside the Historic Crags Lodge and has beautiful views of Estes Park and the mountains.  They shut down due to COVID but told us they plan to reopen in late June.  The food was amazing and it’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.  Definitely call to verify they’ve reopened and to check availability, I’ll update as soon as I hear more info!

Ed’s Cantina – Ed’s has a great riverside patio, and the best Mexican food we have found in Estes Park.

Cascades Restaurant & Lounge – Located inside The Stanley Hotel, the Cascades offers fine dining, the menu however is still limited due to COVID.  Reservations are available at www.opentable.com.

Antonio’s Real New York Pizza – Hands down the best pizza in the area!  They have so many creative pizzas to choose from!  If you’re extra hungry try their 26 inch pizza!  Dine in or pick up is available.

Burger’s and Gyros – Don’t let the shabby exterior of this building fool you, they have some of the best elk burgers, sides, and gyros!  There is a drive-thru and also indoor dining available.

Nicky’s Steakhouse is another great favorite, but unfortunately it is temporarily closed due to a recent fire.

Estes Park Colorado 2021 Summer Guide

I didn’t review lodging because honestly there are too many incredible places!  Whether you’re looking for a romantic place or a rustic cabin Estes Park has it all.  If you’re thinking about booking a trip what are you waiting for?  Not a summer traveler?  Estes Park is also a great place to visit in the off season as well.  VisitEstesPark.com has a year-round calendar of festivals and events you can see.

Be sure to check out my blog post on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and my tips on how to beat altitude sickness.  Happy trails!

 

Laura

DECOR

5 SPRING HOME STYLING TIPS

spring home styling tips

One of my favorite things about spring is the chance to freshen and update our home.  I love changing up my home with the seasons but after the heavy winter season nothing is more satisfying than lightening up and brightening your home!  So today I thought I would share five of my favorite tips for welcoming spring into your home!

spring home styling tips

GOOD OLD FASHIONED SPRING CLEANING

Nothing says your home is ready for spring than a good old fashioned spring clean!  Purge all the winter clutter from your home and organize, organize, organize!  This is my #1 tip for a wonderful spring home and it’s so therapeutic too!

STASH HEAVY WINTER ACCESSORIES

Say goodbye to those big heavy faux fur throw blankets, flannel sheets, fireplace logs, and all those pinecone accessories.  Instead accent your fireplace with candles, swap out heavy fabrics with light fresh ones, and stash heavy decor items for ones that are bright and airy.  This goes with home scents too.  Toss those cinnamon spice candles and bring in fresh clean scents.

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN WITH PLANTS & FLOWERS

I love bringing new plants and fresh flowers into my home this time of year!  Plants and flowers are starting to bloom and come back to life and so should your home.  Adding these items into your home is the perfect way to add color and interest to your space and say hello spring!

ADD NEW TEXTURES

Nothing says spring (and summer too) better than bringing in fresh new textures into your home.  Baskets, wooden trays, and accent pillows are a great way to add an earthy texture into your home.  Heavy rugs can also be swapped out with lighter affordable indoor/outdoor rugs too.

UPDATE YOUR COLOR PALETTE

Spring is a great time to upgrade your color palette.  In the winter I’m all about rich, warm, inviting colors and in the spring I like to welcome fresh bright colors and more neutrals into our home.  A simple way to update your color palette is through throw pillows and light weight throw blankets.  Framed art work and photos can easily be swapped out with nature and other lightweight prints.

spring home styling tips

Spring is such a terrific time to brighten your home up, and a spring home works well through summer too!  A few simple changes can make your home shine!  Do you have any favorite ways to transition your home from winter to spring?

 

Laura

RECIPES

4 INGREDIENT NO BAKE BIRDS NEST COOKIES

It’s officially spring, who else is excited?  I’m sharing one of our favorite family springtime treats that we make every year around the Easter season: birds nest no bake cookies!  One year when my girls were little I made these adorable treats and ever since then they can’t have an Easter without them.  They are now 17 and 19 and still ask for them and get excited when I make them, and they still have fun helping me shape each nest.

These springtime treats are the perfect festive treat and they’re so easy to make!  Just 4 ingredients, a microwave, and some wax or parchment paper.  It’s that easy and really fun making each nest!

In a large microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips every 30 seconds, stirring in between until they’re completely melted.  Take care not to microwave them too long so they don’t burn.  Once melted stir until smooth, toss in the chow mein noodles, and mix until blended.  Spoon onto wax or parchment paper and shape into a nest.  Top with candy, let them firm up, and you have the cutest treats!

Easy to make Easter treats

4 Ingredient NO BAKE Birds Nest Cookies

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 12 ounces chow mein noodles
  • small candy eggs for decorating
  • wax or parchment paper

Instructions

  • Place the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a large microwave safe bowl.
  • Microwave in 30 second increments, stirrring each time until melted.
  • Stir until smooth and add chow main noodles, stirring until blended.
  • Spoon onto wax or parchment paper, shaping the nest, creating a slight low spot in the center to hold the eggs.
  • Add candy eggs to the center and let set until firm.

Our favorite candies to use are Cadberry candy coated mini eggs, Robin eggs, jelly beans, and Peep marshmallow birds.  Not only are these Easter time treats easy and fun to make, they taste delicious too!   Be sure to follow me on Instagram for my latest seasonal content!  Wishing you a Happy Easter blog friends!

 

Laura

BEAUTY

THE BEST SHEET MASKS REVIEWED

Best sheet masks reviewed

Sheet masks are the ultimate luxury for me.  Don’t get me wrong… I love a good old fashioned regular face mask, but sheet masks are hands down my favorite way to pamper my skin.  They’re easy to store and travel with and more sanitary than masks in jars.

Currently it’s winter in Colorado, and due to Covid I haven’t had a facial or been to a spa in a year.  So yeah, I’ve definitely been on a mission for a while to find the perfect sheet mask.  I reviewed 20 different sheet masks that range in price from $3.99-$35.  My only criteria was that each mask be sold as a single.  Many sheet masks are sold in a multi-pack, but most of us want to try a single first before we commit to an entire expensive box right?  No matter how amazing a sheet mask looked, if it wasn’t sold individually I didn’t try it, and then of course I wanted to try a few others but they were out of stock.

I’m 43 with acne prone skin.  My skin was oily living in Texas, but since living in Colorado it’s more normal to dry.  My main goals in using sheet masks were to hydrate, plump, and brighten my skin.

FYI:  These reviews are not sponsored in any way.  All sheet masks were purchased with my own money, and these are my honest true opinions.

Best sheet masks reviewed

SHEET MASK TIPS

While you’re pampering your face why not pamper your mind as well?  Lie back, turn the lights out, light a candle, and listen to relaxing music.  Use this time to clear your mind and pray or meditate to get the most out of your experience.

For the ultimate luxury after applying the mask use a facial roller over the mask.  I use my rose quartz roller and it feels amazing!  It’s easier to roll your face with a paper sheet mask on rather than a gel.  Gel masks tend to roll off with the roller sometimes.

Don’t waste one single drop!  I make sure to get every drop out of each package and massage the liquid goodness into my neck, chest, arms, and hands.  Once you’re finished with your sheet mask if you still feel a lot of moisture rub it along your body, don’t waste anything!

I know some people will place used sheet masks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to save for another use.  I’m a germaphobe so I don’t do this, plus I make it a point to use all the liquid up so there’s nothing left to save.

Some sheet masks leave a sticky or tacky residue and it’s definitely not desirable.  I’ve found that in most cases this went away in around 20-30 minutes once my skin absorbed the product.  Some remained sticky afterwards, but once I applied my regular skin care and makeup it felt much better.  A few stayed sticky with makeup all day, below you’ll see which ones they are.

Best sheet masks reviewed

1.  La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask $35 – A single use $35 sheet mask is ridiculous in price, so I was expecting a lot from this mask.  I left this mask on for 20 minutes and rolled my face with my quartz roller, It felt heavenly.  Afterwards my skin looked bright and hydrated, with a slight tackiness that quickly absorbed.  Minutes later I found myself quickly needing a moisturizer.  My makeup went on beautifully and my skin felt incredibly smooth the rest of the day.  It’s a great mask but I felt for the price it could have done more.  I doubt I’ll use these again due to the cost.  I also find it ridiculous that the sheet mask is packaged inside a box, it’s a waste of packaging.

2.  JLo That Limitless Glow Sheet Mask $18 –  This two piece mask had ear loops for the upper and lower mask to attach to.  A bonus is you can walk around while wearing it, the ear loops soon started hurting my ears though.  About halfway through my ears started hurting so I had to tear the mask to make the ear loops bigger.  When I removed the mask my skin felt very hydrated and once the product finished absorbing into my skin any tackiness was gone.  Oddly my foundation went on really splotchy, especially around my eyes and nose, so that’s a deal breaker for me.  Again not impressed the sheet mask was packaged inside a box, it’s pure waste.

3.  Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel Mask $3.99 – This two piece gel mask was slightly awkward to put on and didn’t cover the sides of my face well.  It took me a while to figure out which side was the front, but it felt very soothing and hydrating while I was wearing it.  Afterwards my skin had a nice peachy glow, but once the leftover serum dried my skin feIt uncomfortably tight.  I quickly grabbed a moisturizer.  This is a might be a great budget mask to experiment with if you live in warm, humid climates.  Living in Colorado I have to pass on this one.

4.  Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Facial Barrier Mask $6 –  This mask had a very rich almost heavy feeling.  It felt wonderful on my skin and after absorbing all the product I felt like I didn’t need a moisturizer.  My only regret was using this mask during the day instead of night.  My skin looked a bit greasy and I had to blot some moisture off to apply my makeup.  This would be an excellent evening mask in the winter so your skin can soak up all the moisturizing goodness overnight.  I’ll be buying this mask again when my skin needs a big boost of moisture.

5.  Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mask $12 – This sheet mask gets the award for most drippiest, which was ok with me I love saving and using all the liquid goodness.  Afterward my skin tone looked dewy and well hydrated.  My skin was just slightly tacky after applying makeup, but I was ok with it.  I definitely enjoyed this mask and if you do save masks in the refrigerator this is a good one because the extra serum in the package.

Best sheet masks reviewed

6.  STARSKIN Red Carpet Ready Hydrating Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Face Mask $11 – I loved this face mask!  Afterward my skin looked beautifully hydrated with a great glow.  There was no sticky residue and once all the product absorbed I didn’t feel a need for a moisturizer.  My makeup went on like a dream, it looked like it had actually been airbrushed.  I kept looking at my skin in the mirror off and on all day because it looked that good.  I’m a definite fan of this sheet mask after seeing the results.

7.  Wishful Thirst Trap – Cocoon Mask $9 – This mask made my face itchy… maybe due to the caffeine?  After 20 minutes I gladly ripped it off.  I was worried I would have a reaction from the itching but luckily I didn’t.  Skin felt hydrated afterwards but the itching makes this mask a no for me.

8.  Sephora Collection Spirulina Face Mask $5.50 – This spiraling face mask says it focuses on hydration and anti-pollution.  Years ago I had a bad experience with Sephora sheet masks on an overnight flight.  It was my first time using a sheet mask and it left me wet, drippy, and very sticky, but I decided to push through and give Sephora masks another try.  The package says to leave on for 5 minutes but that’s such a short time so I did 20.  Surprisingly I enjoyed this mask, my skin felt hydrated and soft.  It did feel a bit tacky after removing but that went away in 15 minutes.  I actually preferred the Sephora Lychee mask a little more over this one, but this one is still a great option.

9.  TONYMOLY I’m Real Aloe Mask Sheet $3.75 – Immediately the cutesy packaging threw me off but I decided to go ahead and give this sheet mask a fair chance.  Instantly we were off to a bad start.  The mask didn’t fit well over my eyes and mouth, I had to rip them to get them to fit.  Instantly I felt the tiniest bit of irritation but I decided to push through.  10 minutes later I literally ripped it off.  My skin was bright red, my eyelids felt extremely itchy and irritated, and my entire face was sticky.  I ended up washing my face to get it off.  This one was a hard no for me.

10.  No7 Restore & Renew Multi Action Serum Boost Sheet Mask $5.99 – My favorite thing about this mask is it has an attached neck mask included.  As exciting as that was, I had a hard time keeping the neck mask in place, even while on my back.  My skin had an undeniable glow afterwards, felt hydrated, and my makeup applied smoothly.  At around $6 this is a fantastic budget mask that gives good results.

 

Best sheet masks reviewed

11.  Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Ultra Double Wrapping Cream Face Mask $15 – This two piece cream based mask was one of the best face fitting masks I wore.  It felt wonderful on my skin and afterwards my skin did look hydrated, plump, and firm.  When I removed the mask I had a lot of white residue on my face that I was able to massage into my skin, this could possibly be an issue for darker skin tones.  I’ll definitely be using this mask again, especially before taking photos.

12.  TONYMOLY Intense Care Snail Gold 24K Hydrogel Mask $10 – I was a little nervous using this mask mainly because I had such a bad experience with the TONYMOLY Aloe, but also the word snail was throwing me off a bit.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this mask.  Afterwards my skin looked plump and hydrated.  I did a quick target run and again I had a skin compliment from a stranger and that’s with half my face covered with a mask. Will order again.  At $10 it’s a definite repurchase for me.  By the way this is the mask I’m wearing in the above photo.

13. Oh K! Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogel Sheet Mask $6 – This two gel piece mask had a pretty iridescent look.  I wasn’t expecting much from this mask.  I think it was the cutesy packaging.  When I took the mask off my skin looked plump and had a nice glow.  An hour later my skin felt very moisturized but also incredibly sticky.  Although this mask gave my skin a nice glow it was the stickiest mask by far that I used.  An hour later my face was still very sticky after using my skincare and makeup.  A hard no for me.

14.  Lancome Advanced Genifique Hydrogel Melting Rejuvenating Face Mask $15 – This gel mask felt great on and had a nice pleasant scent.  After removing I felt some hydration benefits and my skin had a slight tacky feeling.  Nothing really good or bad really stood out about this mask.  It was pretty basic, some hydration but without any other benefits.  I probably won’t use it again unless it’s on sale.

15.  Dr. Jart+ Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution $6 – This is a fantastic hydrating mask for the price and definitely my favorite Dr. Jart+ sheet mask.  Afterwards my skin felt and looked so nourished and hydrated.  It delivered the perfect amount of moisture without being too heavy or sticky.  My makeup also went on very nicely after using this mask.  Being at such a great price I’ll definitely be repurchasing.

Best sheet masks reviewed

16.  Sephora Collection Lychee Face Mask $5.50 – The lychee mask is listed as a moisture and glow mask.  So far it’s my favorite Sephora mask and I loved the heavenly scent.  I found it very hydrating but in a light feeling way, with no sticky residue.  I do think my skin needed a little more moisture because I quickly needed a moisturizer, but at under $6 I still found it enjoyable and beneficial.  When I’m looking to restock sheet masks around the $6 mark I’ll gladly pick up another one of these.

17.  Dr. Jart+ Dermask Micro Jet Brightening Solution $9 – Not only did my skin feel fantastic after this, I glowed for days!  I used this the morning before our Las Vegas trip.  With the sun, alcohol, and lack of sleep Vegas isn’t exactly easy on the skin. This little gem saved my skin, I saw the lasting effects well into the week.  Great hydrating and brightening mask.

18.  Dr. Jart+ Cryo Rubber with Brightening Vitamin C Mask $14 – I thought this mask was such a silly gimmick, but the reality was the mask looked nothing like the cover.  First you rub a cream on your face and they you apply a rubbery 2 piece cheap face mask over the top.  It slid around and didn’t stay in place, and when I removed the mask I had lot of leftover residue that I eventually dabbed off.  Later that day my skin did look good, but I won’t be repurchasing this because of the silly unnecessary amount of waste this product produced.  Afterwards you’ll be left with an unnecessary pile of garbage.

19.  Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Sheet Mask $6 – I couldn’t get this mask to stay on properly, it kept lifting especially around my eyes and nose.  Afterwards my skin felt hydrated and not sticky but I didn’t think this mask was anything special.  There are many other sheet masks for around $6 I’d rather use.

20.  Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask $22 – The nice thing about this mask is it’s dry so it’s mess free and reusable up to 3 times.  It’s a great option when your skin needs a nice boost before a date night or special occasion.  I definitely saw results, my skin looked fresh and plump the rest of the day and my makeup went on smooth like butter.  If you do get 3 uses it makes the price a little over $7 per use which is more reasonable.

I loved so many of these sheet masks, and I’ll definitely be repurchasing them, but I decided to pick 5 overall winners.

STARSKIN Red Carpet Ready Hydrating Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Face Mask $11 – My #1 pick, this mask does it all!

Dr. Jart+ Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution $6 – Best overall affordable hydrating mask.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask $22 – Best dry mask that’s reusable and delivers results.

Dr. Jart+ Dermask Micro Jet Brightening Solution $9 – Amazing brightening mask, your skin will glow for days.

Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Ultra Double Wrapping Cream Face Mask $15 – Real firming and lifting results.

I used all these sheet masks in a 4 week period, taking notes as I went.  After using all of these masks my skin looked insanely good, almost like I had laser treatments done.  So yeah, you can definitely say I’m hooked!

 

Laura

BEAUTY

DIY ROSE PETAL GREEN TEA BODY SCRUB

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

Does dry winter skin have you down?  If so it’s time to indulge with this DIY rose petal green tea body scrub!  I love creating body scrubs and this time I wanted to create the ultimate feminine body scrub.

Combining Rose petals and green tea with a double dose of skin hydrating oil is a perfect luxurious at-home spa treatment.  Not only does it smell incredible it does magic for your skin.  Colorado winters are brutal on the skin, but since exfoliating my body in the shower 1-2 times a week and using this scrub daily for my hands my skin is incredibly soft and hydrated.

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

I always like to give my scrubs a hint of color with food coloring for visual appeal, this is optional however.  Just two drops of regular grocery store red food coloring creates this lovely dusty rose pink.  If you’re worried about your towels staining have no fear, I promise it won’t stain.  I have white towels and I’ve never seen a trace of color on any of our towels after using my scrubs.

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

A combination of coconut and grapeseed oil gives the skin incredible hydration.  I recommend using refined coconut oil because it doesn’t have that coconut smell, but that’s up to you.

To create that heavenly rose scent we use rose petals and rose water.  Rose petals are easy to find and affordable.  Craft stores usually sell them in the soap making aisle or you can buy a huge food grade bag from Amazon like I did.  You can also dry your own petals if your up for it.

Rose water is usually found at specialty grocery stores, cooking stores, and of course Amazon.  I used this one.  You can also use rose oil (good quality is expensive) or a rose oil blend.  It’s more potent than rosewater so you’ll probably only need a few drops.

Another tip:  If your rose petals are large like mine run them through a mini food processor or crush them by hand.  By doing this 99% of the rose petals easily go down the drain.

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

I’m so in love with this body scrub (and my girls are too) that I created a larger batch than usual.  Feel free to make a half batch if that works best for you.  Or keep one batch for yourself and give another away to a friend who needs a little pampering too.

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil (refined has no coconut smell)
  • 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 1 tsp rose water (or a few drops rose oil)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup rose petals
  • 4 green tea bags, opened
  • 2 Tbs grapeseed oil (olive & almond oil work great too)

Instructions

  • In a medium size bowl add coconut oil and mix with a spoon or fork until it softens up. Do not melt the oil!
  • Add rose water and food coloring to the coconut oil and stir to blend.
  • Add sugar, green tea, and rose petals to the coconut mixture.
    *If your rose petals are large crush them by hand or run them through a mini food processor.
  • Using a spoon, mix the ingredients together until it's almost blended, then use your fingers to completely blend the mixture.
  • Drizzle grapeseed oil evenly over the scrub mixture and quickly blend together using your hands.
  • Store in an airtight container.

 

DIY Rose Petal Green Tea Body Scrub

Like all my body scrubs I recommend using them on the body only, not your face.  In the past I’ve said it’s okay to use homemade body scrubs within 2-3 weeks.  That’s just a general guideline, but sealed in airtight containers I’ve found a few body scrubs months later and they are perfectly fine.

What are you waiting for?  Go turn your winter dry skin into winter happy skin.

 

Laura

FASHION

JANUARY WINTER OUTFIT ROUND UP

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

I’m back with a fashion post!  A what?  Yeah… remember way back when I posted about my outfits?  Maybe you don’t, my last fashion post was April 2019.  It’s definitely been a while.  If you’re wondering what happened it was moving out of state, home remodeling stress, weight gain, Covid, wildfires, and more weight gain.  My blog is a reflection of me and what’s happening in my life.

Once life calmed down after moving and remodeling Covid hit.  Let’s be honest I wasn’t going anywhere or buying any clothes.  With my Covid weight gain I started feeling extremely insecure and the last thing I wanted to do was buy clothes or have my picture taken.  But 2021 is here, the world problems aren’t solved by any means, but I do feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m watching what I eat and exercising again.  I’m ready to live again and anxiously awaiting for life to be normal.  So today I thought I would share some of my favorite January winter outfits with you.

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits - camo trend

Camo baby!  Do you love it or hate it?  This trend has been going a few years strong now, and being pattern obsessed I’m definitely a fan.  This comfortable and warm sweater jacket runs a bit large so I went down a size.  Paired with a striped tee and faux leather leggings it’s a fun winter outfit to wear.  It also looks great with a black turtleneck!

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

Camo Sweater | Similar Striped Tee Here & Here | Faux Leather Leggings | Boots | Earrings | Bag

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits - Sweater dress

When warm days hit it’s time to give those winter legs some fresh air!  This sweater dress runs true to size and is very comfortable.  Other fun ways to wear it would be with a lace cami or leggings and a scarf.  It’s very versatile and versatile always wins a spot in my closet.

Sweater Dress | Earrings | Similar Booties | Bag

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

This dress was an amazing find.  I still have some weight to lose, but this black jersey studded dress instantly made me feel like a million bucks when I tried it on.  It runs true to size and is very flattering and camouflages a tummy.  Best part?  It’s half price so act fast!

Ways to wear a dress in the winter

Paired with some tall black boots and my favorite faux fur cape, this is the perfect date night outfit (hello Valentine’s Day).  I think every woman should have one of these faux fur capes in their closet.  Paired with a dress or dressed up with jeans, it’s a wardrobe staple plus it’s warm and very affordable.

Dress | Boots | Faux Fur Cape | Similar Clutch | Earrings

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

This fun pink puffer coat has been tested in the Colorado winter and I approve.  It’s really nice to find a fun affordable coat for $40.  It also comes in black and runs true to size.  The boots are on clearance for $19.99, fit true to size, and are so warm!

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

Puffer Coat | Beanie | Jeans | Boots (on clearance)

Over 40 fashion blog

Can you have to many fuzzy sweaters?  Please tell me no!  This sweater jacket made me feel so glam and it was just $40!  It has a slight stretch and hidden pockets which is a bonus.  It fits true to size and comes in peach and a fun black and white pattern too.  This purchase was a big win for me.

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

Sweater Jacket | Earrings | Jeans | Similar Leopard Shoes | Bag

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits - ruffle sweater

Ruffle sweaters are so fun and feminine to wear, they’re certainly having a moment.  My sweater sold out pretty much instantly, but this gorgeous sweater is very similar, and this ruffle sweater comes in three colors.  Are you liking the ruffle trend?

Boots | Chain Necklace | Beanie

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits - blanket scarf

Living in Colorado I do get tired of wearing a coat all the time so why not switch it up with a nice warm blanket scarf?  Wearing this soft blanket scarf was literally like… being wrapped in a blanket.  Haha.  Plus there are so many different ways to wear it, it gives you tons of wardrobe options.

Colorado fashion blogger winter outfits

Black Sweater | Blanket Scarf | Jeans | Boots

Thanks for stopping by my January winter outfit round up!  Ta ta for now.

 

Laura

HOLIDAYS

VALENTINE’S DAY TABLESCAPE

Valentine's Day tablescape idea

Decorating for Valentine’s Day is always a dream for me.  The roses, the hearts, and all the pink and red… I really can’t get enough.   Having a well dressed table is always important to me during any holiday.  It sets the mood and brings the family together in a fun and festive way.

Today I’m sharing with you this simple Valentine’s Day tablescape that you can put together in minutes.

Heart candy tablescape

SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • A platter of some sort
  • Vase
  • Roses, red or pink
  • Water and scissors for the flowers
  • Valentine’s Day themed candy
  • Valentine’s Day Decor, bowls, cards, anything really
  • Coordinating Pink, red, or white plates and napkins

Valentine's Day tablescape idea

Start by arranging the flowers in a vase.  I find a rubber band is excellent for keeping flowers together when you’re using a narrow vase.  No worries, if you cut a stem too short you can easily adjust it with the rubber band.  Plus it’s much easier to change out the water using the rubber band method.  If your vase is clear you can cover the rubber band with twine or ribbon instead.  This is optional though.

Easy Valentines Day Centerpiece

Add the vase and any decorative objects you’re using to the platter.  Fill the surrounding area with candy of your choice.  Take care there is no water outside the vase that would cause the candy to bleed.

Valentines Day table

Now it’s time to set the table, so break out all those pink, white, and red dishes.  I’m using my everyday white dishes paired with Le Crueset heart dishes.  I bought them last year and as of now they’re unavailable, but hopefully they’ll make a return next year.  You can still find some heart items on their website and don’t forget about Ebay.  Um… I may or may not stay up into the wee hours of the night looking for retired Le Creuset items on Ebay.

Sniff… the napkins were Pier One.  RIP.  The vase was a find from Safeway, I’ve yet to find one like this online.  If you live near a Safeway or sister grocery store check the floral section.  I’m on a roll here, nothing is available!  Haha… but all you need is just some V-Day inspo right?

Red and white Valentines Day table

Below are some Valentine’s Day themed items still available so you can set your own fabulous V-Day table.

Valentine's Day tablescape idea

Currently Le Crueset is offering free heart shaped ramekins with a $200 purchase, and Martha Stewart also makes a beautiful set.

Le Crueset heart dishes

Remember Ebay when your looking for retired or out of stock heart Le Crueset!

Valentine's Day tablescape idea

Red makes my heart sing for Valentine’s Day, but what about a pretty pink and white theme?  Pink roses and conversation hearts with pink and white dishes?  Oh my… I may just be doing that next year.

Where to find retired Le Crueset

This tablescape so cute and quick to put together.  What are you going to do with all that extra time?  Eat chocolate of course!

 

Laura

TRAVEL

VISITING OURAY COLORADO IN THE WINTER

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

Ouray, Colorado, known as the Switzerland of America, is such a beautiful and unique place to visit.  We always like to take a winter vacation after Christmas and I discovered this little gem last minute while searching for hot springs.  Pronounced “you-ray”, this winter paradise is surrounded by 13,000-foot snowy peaks from the San Juan mountain range, and has lots of relaxation and adventure to offer.

The town of Ouray seemed especially quiet after Christmas, which we loved.  Having no traffic lights just made this snowy town all the more charming, and as long as you’re bundled up nice and warm a large majority of the town is walkable.  There is so much to see and do, and I’m really excited to share all our hot and cold adventures with you!  Ouray instantly has become one of my favorite Colorado towns.

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

In 2021, we’re still dealing with Covid, so of course not everything was open and that was fine with us.  Just keep in mind if you’re reading this post-Covid there should be even more things available.

THINGS TO DO

things to do in ouray

SHOP ON MAIN STREET

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

I really enjoyed Khristopher’s Culinaire and the Ouray Bookshop was another favorite.  There are lots of quirky stores and souvenir, clothing, and gear shops to choose from.  There is also a small grocery store if you need to pick up a few items.

SOAK IN THE HOT SPRINGS

Wiesbaden private hot spring pool in Ouray Colorado

I’m definitely addicted to hot springs!  Soaking in a 104-degree mineral pool is just heavenly.  There are many hot springs to enjoy in the area including the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa, where we stayed.  They have a main hot spring pool and a private hot spring that is available by reservation.  They also have a vapor cave which sounds amazing (but it’s closed currently due to Covid) and a spa below.  Orvis Hot Springs is just a short drive to Ridgeway and gorgeous.  There’s also the Ouray Hot Springs, which is perfect for the entire family with several pools to choose from and waterslides.  The Twin Peaks Lodge also has a hot spring on site.

GO ICE CLIMBING

Ouray ice climbing park

Ice climbing was another thing that excited me about visiting Ouray, they’re known for some of the best ice climbing terrain around.  Seasoned ice climbers can climb for free at the Ouray Ice Park.  If you’re a beginner like me have no fear.  You can take a lesson from the San Juan Mountain Guides and have fun climbing the beginner route.   It’s really fun to watch others climb too.

Ice Climbing in Ouray

Ice climbing was actually easier than I thought it would be, that is once you get the moves down.  It’s fun, but also a bit exhausting… and cold.  The day we climbed was one of the coldest days, and it was heavily snowing.  Having said that, Brian and I both loved it and can’t wait to do it again.

Beginner ice climbing in Ouray Colorado

Beginner ice climbing in Ouray Colorado

HIKE TO THE FALLS

Cascade Falls in the winter, Ouray Colorado

I just love waterfalls, even if they’re frozen.  Cascade Falls is an easy walk from the parking lot, even in the snow.  Those who have hiking poles can walk up a little farther like we did.  There is a surrounding trail nearby too.  Box Canyon Falls is located near the Ouray Ice Park and quite impressive from what I hear but sadly it was closed the day we tried to visit.  That’s okay, it’s just another excuse to visit again, right?

ADMIRE THE GORGEOUS ARCHITECTURE

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

There are lots of beautiful and unique historic homes and buildings all throughout Ouray.  I just couldn’t get enough, I took photos of so many places!  Driving and walking around the town looking at all the gorgeous architecture was really fun.

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

OTHER THINGS TO DO

Telluride Colorado gondola

Telluride is a little over an hour away and makes a great day trip to ski, dine, or shop.  Be sure to take the free gondola to Mountain Village it was the best gondola rides we’ve done.

The Wright Opera House is currently closed due to Covid but they plan to re-open when it’s safe.  There are a few interesting museums in the area, and plenty of spas available too, which we didn’t have time to enjoy.

WHERE TO EAT

Visiting Ouray Colorado in the winter

We had so many delicious meals, here are our favorite places where we ate.

Bon Ton Restaurant – Delicious Italian food with a neat underground location.  Try the scallop pot pie appetizer!

Artisan Bakery and Cafe – Yummy breakfast and lunch sandwiches.  Try the turkey salad sandwich!

Thai Chili Restaurant – Great views out the restaurant windows, food was great too.

Ouray Meat and Cheese Market – A lovely place to shop and grab a quick meal.

Colorado Boy Southwest Pub – Locals say they have some of the best pizza in Colorado.  We agree it was delicious!

Brickhouse 737 – Okay, we didn’t get to eat here but locals say it’s one of the best restaurants so I had to include it.  Next time we visit (can’t wait) we’ll be sure to eat here.

WHERE TO STAY

Wiesbaden in the winter in Ouray colorado

We stayed at The Wiesbaden to take advantage of their private hot spring pool.  The rooms were charming and sweet and the water felt amazing.  Currently there is no breakfast or coffee due to Covid.  The Artisan Bakery and Cafe was a short walk from our hotel, there is also another nearby coffee shop as well.

I can’t really speak for other lodging in the area since we only stayed at the Wiesbaden, but the Beaumont Hotel and Spa looked wonderful, as well as the St. Elmo Hotel.  The Twin Peaks Lodge also has their own hot spring on site so that’s a bonus.  When it’s possible we love to book through Hotels.com because you find the best price and you earn points for free nights.

Have I convinced you to visit Ouray?  It’s such a unique charming town to visit in the winter and we can’t wait to visit again!

 

Laura

TRAVEL

EXPLORING THE ICE CAVES IN RIFLE MOUNTAIN PARK

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Winter is one of my favorite times to travel and explore Colorado.  I love the crisp, cold air and the beautiful snowy mountains and trees, it’s a frozen winter paradise!  After 2020 ended I was determined 2021 would be an amazing year full of fun and adventure.  I know we’re still dealing with Covid and everyone needs to be careful so a road trip to explore the Rifle Mountain Park was perfect for us, and I was able to check off another Colorado bucket list item, exploring ice caves!

The ice caves are formed after several cycles of freezing and thawing and typically take their shape from December to February.  Each ice cave is uniquely beautiful with hues of aqua throughout the ice.  It’s a true winter gem.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Rifle Mountain Park is located just north of the town of Rifle, about an hour from Glenwood Springs (another favorite place of ours).  Some people opt to park by the entrance sign and walk in, while others prefer to drive closer to the caves.  The park road follows the East Rifle Creek through the canyon, and on the other side of the creek is Koper’s Trail.  There are small parking areas along the way, with bridges to cross the creek to allow cave access.  You can also park at the Koper’s Trail trailhead and hike along the creek to all the caves.

Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle.  You pay at a kiosk just past the entrance sign.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

The drive into the park is nothing short of stunning.  The road parallels the trail and creek so if snow or terrain is ever too difficult you can cross over a bridge and walk on the road.  In the summer rock climbing is popular in Rifle Mountain Park, and in the winter you may spot some ice climbers as well.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

The trail is a mixture of snow, ice, and dirt.  Inside the caves the ground is solid uneven ice.  It’s crucial to wear microspikes – or even better crampons – to avoid falling.  Poles are helpful when navigating around rocks and terrain on the trail, but poles alone will not help you in the cave.  If you don’t have a solid traction device on your feet please don’t enter the cave.  Also it’s winter in Colorado so remember to wear a warm synthetic or wool base layer, possibly a mid layer (I usually don’t need one if I’m active), waterproof pants, a jacket, gloves, hat, and waterproof snow boots.  Don’t forget to pack some water and snacks too!

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

The first cave is a a short hike from the beginning of the Koper’s Trail.  Upon entering I was in awe of this beautiful icy fantasy land, it’s like walking behind a blue frozen waterfall.  Inside, the ground was a frozen thick sheet of ice with icicles hanging from the ceiling.  You could hear and see water trickling beneath the ice in some areas but the icy ground was solid.

The caves are large enough to walk around in, and although they can be dim in certain areas you do not need a flashlight to see inside.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Someone on Instagram mentioned how cute it was that I matched the ice caves.  Haha… it was unplanned I promise!

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

The second cave is a little farther down the trail, with a little elevation but nothing extreme.  Poles can be helpful here, remember you can always exit and walk along the road where it’s easier.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

The second cave is a bit larger, with a narrow opening on one side and a larger one on the other end.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Below is one of the bridges connecting the road/parking lot to the Koper’s Trail that leads to the caves.  The creek is warmed by the groundwater with beautiful green aquatic plants growing inside it, even in January.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

We had heard that there are more ice caves farther up the trail, but by the time we exited the second cave it had started snowing really hard so we decided to head back.  Based on our research, though, we heard that the first two caves were the best.

Ice Caves in Rifle Mountain Park Colorado

Crampons | Poles | Base-layer | Hat (so many fun colors!) | Down Jacket (runs small so order a size up)

I think everyone should explore this beautiful frozen trail, and especially the ice caves.  After exploring the caves we went back to Glenwood Springs for a nice quiet hot spring soak which was fantastic, and then the next day we ventured a little farther to Ouray, Colorado, where we had more frozen fun.  I’ll be sharing our Ouray trip on the blog soon.  Happy winter!

 

Laura

DIY

SIMPLE & EASY DIY NEW YEARS EVE DECORATIONS

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

If there’s ever a year to celebrate ending it’s this one!  Goodbye 2020… we won’t miss ya, but your departure certainly calls for a celebration!  I always go big when it comes to Christmas so afterwards I’m pretty tired and need things simple, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun.

This year I decided to create a festive table centerpiece as well as some drink swizzle sticks that everyone can enjoy, and these simple and easy New Years Eve decorations can be thrown together at a moment’s notice.  It’s a fun way to add some extra cheer while ringing in the New Year at home.  I was able to recycle some of my Christmas items into our centerpiece so hopefully you have some extra stuff hanging around too.

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

SUPPLIES NEEDED

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

  • Metallic shred or tinsel
  • Beaded necklaces or garland
  • Party crackers
  • Ornament balls
  • Curly ribbon
  • Wood Skewers (I used 8 inch ones from the craft baking aisle)
  • Pom poms
  • A bowl or platter for the centerpiece
  • Festive glassware

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

INSTRUTIONS

For the centerpiece start by placing a layer of metallic shred and then add the rest of the decorations.  Use any leftover metallic shreds as need to fill in gaps or add height.

For the drink swizzle sticks simply push each pom pom through the pointy end of the wood skewer, and adjust as needed.  No glue is necessary.

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

So fun, so festive, and so easy am I right?

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

Easy to make New Year's Eve Decorations

Let the celebration begin!  We’ve got this… just a few more days and we all get a fresh start.  Happy New Year my friends, 2021 is going to be a much better year for all of us.  Stay safe, healthy, and happy.

 

Laura