Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cozy Faux Fur Vest in Banff

Hinge booties // monogrammed necklace // Louis Vuitton Neverfull // Michele watch

How cozy is this faux fur vest!? Even though I'm back in North Carolina and it's warmer here, these photos make me want to cuddle up in that vest and sip a hot coffee! I think it would be so cute with a black sweater dress too - fur vests are actually really versatile! Also - I get a lot of questions about my monogrammed necklace - I wear the size 3XL on a 16" chain. I have loved mine to death so I hope that helps anyone who is thinking of getting one!

Speaking of cooler weather... I picked up a TON of fall decor at Homegoods yesterday. How early is too early to put it out? I got a beautiful burlap wreath with little white and gold pumpkins and I'm dying to hang it up - haha! I think fall is the most fun to decorate for, so that's why I'm jumping the wagon a little bit :)

Okay last question! What would you guys rather see on the blog tomorrow? An empty house tour, or a book review (I've read some really good books lately!)



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Banff & Lake Louise Travel Guide

Good morning, everyone! I had a bunch of requests for this travel guide to Banff so that's what I'm sharing today. It was easily one of the top two prettiest places I've ever been (the first being the Amalfi Coast in Italy) and it was one of my top five favorite trips, because my mom and I had so much fun on this one :) And we ate a TON of good food, haha! I'm rounding up my instagrams from the trip, but you can find our full trip re-cap and recommendations on where to eat, stay and play at the end of this blog post.

The view from Rock Pile Trail... 

Beyond Yoga leggings // Adidas tubular tennis shoes, I like these too

Arriving at our first stop on the itinerary, the Fairmont Banff Springs! 

Raden suitcase (it has a built-in charger!)

This picture was taken at Earl's one day for lunch (more info on Earl's below).

Another image from Moraine Lake, from our hike up Rock Pile Trail.

Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE // choker necklace set (only $19!) 

gold choker set // MAC lipstick in "creme cup"

The Fairmont Banff Springs had GORGEOUS flowers all throughout the property!

  Free People Laguna thermal top, less expensive version HERE // Good American Jeans
Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE // MAC lipstick in "creme cup"

gold choker set // peep toe booties // Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE

On the way to our next location in our rental car!

 BP ball cap (my color is no longer available) // white tee (yes it's a pajama top lol) // Levi's jeans
Gucci Marmont handbag // choker necklace set (only $19!)

Lake Louise is truly stunning in person - just look at that turquoise water!

peep toe booties // Celine handbag

I've been to Canada a few times (to Quebec a few years ago & Toronto last year) and have always been so impressed with their country - the people there are SO nice and the cities are always beautiful and clean. Banff had been on my travel list for the past couple of years - all of the travel accounts I follow on Instagram always post pictures of Banff and it's so beautiful (I truly thought it just couldn't be that pretty in real life). But it IS, you guys! The lake waters are more blue/turquoise than the waters I've seen in the Caribbean, and the way the mountains jut up against the sky - it is a striking sight. I cried when we got to the top of our hike and saw the stunning view of Moraine Lake - in that moment, I questioned how anyone could doubt God's existence when you're looking at His beautiful creation.

 I truly believe everyone should travel to Alberta at least once in your life, to experience how pretty it is yourself. This would make a great trip for girlfriends, a romantic couples trip or even a family trip with your kids (the hotels we stayed at were incredibly kid-friendly!). Anyway, let's get started...

The easiest way to get to Banff and/or Lake Louise is to fly into the Calgary airport (YYC). It's an hour and a half drive from the airport to Banff, so my mom and I chose to rent a car - it's too far to take a taxi. 

My mom and I decided to split our trip into two parts: Banff and Lake Louise. They are about an hour away from each other and both completely worth it! If you call to make reservations at either Fairmont hotel, they can book your stay at both (this is also easier because they have full access to both hotels' room availabilities). We stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs (in downtown Banff) first, which was a good decision because it's closer to the airport! If you're looking for a less expensive alternative, there are a bunch of small hotels and motels located in both Banff and Lake Louise. 

Fairmont Banff Springs: This hotel certainly has its architecture going for it - it looks like a huge castle on a mountaintop!! Your jaw drops when you drive up to it for the first time! The inside of the hotel is very spacious, with a coffee shop, tons of gift shops and restaurants, and a gorgeous pool. We stayed on the Gold Level (the 5th floor) because it comes with a free buffet breakfast in the morning and free hors d'oeuvres and dessert at night. Our room was very clean and the beds were really comfortable, and overall we really loved everything about the hotel. Plus it's only a two minute drive from downtown Banff, where all the shops and restaurants are located. You can also walk downtown - it's about a ten minute walk, be sure to ask the concierge to show you the most scenic route on a map!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: While the Fairmont Banff Springs has the architecture down pat, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise definitely has the location! This hotel is located right on Lake Louise and offers a STUNNING view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Our room was in the Mount Temple Wing and was incredibly spacious (much bigger than our room at the other hotel) and had an amazing view of the lake from our window! There aren't many restaurants or shops around Lake Louise, so you pretty much have to eat at the restaurants at the hotel - good thing the food was delicious! My mom and I both loved all of our meals here. 


Coyotes Southwestern Grill: We ate here on our very first night and it was absolutely delicious! We snagged a table outside so that we could soak up the cooler weather and the atmosphere of downtown Banff. The whole menu had a southwestern feel, and there were lots of healthy options which I liked. My mom ordered the chile & honey glazed salmon, while I got a cup of sweet potato corn chowder alongside a goat cheese salad. Oh and we both had a glass of red wine. DELISH!

Earl's Kitchen and Bar: To be honest, we picked this place for lunch one day because of the appealing outdoor seating area! Little tables line the sidewalk and each table had a vase of fresh flowers. We're glad we went here, though, because the food was really good. They serve a mix of different cuisines, from pizza to noodles, burgers and tacos. My mom and I split an order of garlic fries (they were addicting) and a margherita pizza.

The Lookout Patio: This little restaurant is located within the Fairmont Banff Springs and is the perfect spot for a glass of wine and an appetizer with an unbeatable panoramic view of the Canadian Rockies. My mom and I sipped a glass of rosé and snacked on hummus and pita while taking in the view. It was one of our favorite spots!   

Melissa's Misssteak: We were recommended to go to this restaurant for breakfast one morning. Head towards the picturesque Bow River in downtown Banff and you'll find yourself standing in front of this cozy restaurant (the outside is really cute!). We heard that their dinner and lunch menu is also good, but for breakfast they serve pretty much anything you could ever dream of: cereal, omelettes, eggs benedict, pancakes, french toast... even banana nutella crepes.

Poppy Brasserie: This restaurant is located inside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, but it's worth going to, even if you aren't staying at the hotel. The real draw of this restaurant is the patio because of it's truly amazing and jaw-dropping view of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains (so try to reserve a seat on the patio, if you can!). I ordered a turkey sandwich on a pretzel bun and a side salad, and it was absolutely amazing. Plus they have warm blankets at each seat on the patio, since it does get pretty chilly in the mornings and evenings, you will very likely need them!

Alpine Social: We went here for dinner one night during our stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We sat outside and had a wonderful view of the lake! This is a great place to go and get a drink and watch the sunset - we ordered the Pimm's, a really refreshing cocktail made with soda, cucumber slices, orange slices and mint leaves. My mom and I shared the 18oz salmon fillet and some mashed potatoes - the salmon came with a chimichuri sauce that was out-of-this-world good. Oh and the absolute best part of the meal was dessert - mini donuts filled with nutella and raspberry compote, with a maple dipping sauce. SO GOOD.

We wish we had time to try more restaurants! We received recommendations from lots of people (thank you!) and here were some of the most-recommended restaurants: the Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge on Banff Ave., Bear Street Tavern in Banff for pizza, the Grizzly House in Banff for fondue, Crazy Weeds in Canmore, lunch at Muriettas on Main Street in Canmore, and High Tea at the Fairmont.


Moraine Lake: If you do anything at all while you're in Alberta, you simply MUST go to Moraine Lake. The lake itself is much prettier than Lake Louise (it is more turquoise!). Rock Pile Trail is an easy five-minute hike and at the top, you won't find a more amazing view. Just be sure to arrive early in the morning because it gets very crowded quickly and nobody is allowed to park after 9 a.m. because the lot is already packed! We arrived at 8 a.m. and wished we had gotten there earlier. 

Lake Louise: Lake Louise is still a must-see (even if Moraine Lake is prettier) because there's a little bit more to do at Lake Louise. Dine on the patio at Poppy Brasserie for a panoramic view, go canoeing on the lake, or take one of the many hiking trails that start at the lake. 

Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House: We really wanted to do this but ran out of time! The hike to the tea house starts near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and climbs uphill for 2.2 miles (about a 1.5 to 2 hour hike). Once you arrive at the Tea House, you can order homemade soup, sandwiches and more than 100 varieties of tea - and you get a beautiful view of the "lakes in the clouds," Mirror Lake and Lake Louise. 

Banff Gondola: The gondola is located just 5 minutes from downtown Banff, on the shoulder of Sulphur Mountain. Take the glass-enclosed gondola 7,000 feet above sea level up the mountainside for an unsurpassed view of Banff, the Bow Valley and a 360 degree view of six different mountain ranges.

Hike to the Hidden Cave in Johnston Canyon: My friend Amy recently visited Alberta and she told me that her favorite hike was the cave in Johnston Canyon. It's supposedly a pretty easy hike and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I found this blog post which had a good description of the trail (and beautiful photos). 

So many of you guys said you were headed to Banff in the near future, so if you have any additional questions feel free to leave them in the comment section below! :)

Thank you to everyone for following along! 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The CUTEST Thermal Top for Fall!

Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE // MAC lipstick in "creme cup"

Good morning, everyone! I wore this thermal top last week in Banff and decided that it's my new favorite top for fall! This particular one is made by Free People and has a bunch of cute, cozy details like the layered hem at the bottom and the cut-outs for your thumbs. It's also hands-down one of the softest tops I own. It feels like pajamas! I also found this top that looks very similar but is a better price :) Also, sorry for overwearing these booties - I brought a couple of pairs of booties on the trip, but these are the most comfortable and they match every outfit so I gravitated to them every time I got dressed! 

As I write this blog post I'm feeling all sorts of emotions - excitement, anxiety, elation - we get the keys to our new house this afternoon!! Buying a house is such a long process, it feels like we've been waiting suuuuuch a long time, especially when I think about it almost every second of the day, haha. I can't believe in a few hours we'll be HOME OWNERS! I'll definitely be sharing more house stuff with you guys, so stay tuned :)




Monday, August 28, 2017

The Perfect OTS Sweater for $26

MAC lipstick in "creme cup"

This is one of my favorite looks from our trip to Banff! I love love love the camel and white color combination in the fall - and this off-the-shoulder sweater is the perfect neutral shade. I've received a couple of emails about the sweater (I also wore it in black in this post) and it fits TTS and is high quality for the price. I have owned one of these sweaters for three years now and it is still in the same condition as the day I bought it! I can't speak for everything on their website, but I can definitely speak for these $26 sweaters :)

The background of these photos is Lake Louise in Alberta - the water wasn't quite as blue as Moraine Lake but as you an see, it's still pretty turquoise! It is jaw dropping in real life!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Something veryyyyyy exciting is happening tomorrow! xoxo



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fairmont Banff Springs

Sam Edelman boots // Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE

Happy Saturday, everyone! I wanted to pop in on a Saturday to share this look with you! We stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs for the first half of our trip, can you tell that it looks like a castle from the background? It's gorgeous! We went into town for lunch and I wore this cold shoulder top and tall boots combo. I was surprised to find that the boots are actually very comfortable to walk around in - it was my first time really "breaking them in." I also wanted to point out this choker necklace set I've been wearing on this trip - I'm obsessed with it, and it's only $19! 

The weather here is truly amazing. It's August, yet the temperatures are in the 70s during the day and the 40s at night. I don't know how I'm going to come home to 100 degree weather....

Oh and I will definitely be doing a Banff Travel Guide because a bunch of you guys said you wanted one! So look out for that this week :)

I hope everyone has a great weekend!