10 Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

 Reflecting on 2018.

Reflecting on 2018.

I always find myself reflecting on the past year around the holidays. Between the decorating, the shopping, the dinners, and the parties, it’s important to take some time to think about where you’re at and where you’re going. After all, New Year’s Resolutions are right around the corner! So this week, I took some time to look at my last year and reflect on some of the things I’m most grateful for. Here’s my list of ten things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. Health - A few years ago, I found myself in the hospital for an unexpected procedure around Thanksgiving. Not the best way to spend the holidays, let me tell you! Since then, I’ve spent time every year paying attention to my health and taking care of my body. It’s amazing how we take our health for granted until we don’t have it. Take time to slow down and listen to your body this season! After all, it’s the vehicle taking you everywhere in this wonderful life.

  2. Family & Friends - There’s no one I love spending the holidays with more than friends and family. I love having the excuse to slow down my work life for a few days to be present and connect with those I care about most. I also can’t believe the number of new friends I’ve made this year, including all of you! 2018 has truly been an amazing year in so many ways and there are so many humans I have to thank for that. So thank you!

  3. Good Music - I have been to a ridiculous amount of incredible music experiences this year, from the many nights I spent at Red Rocks to the days in the sun at Grandoozy, to all of the club and living room shows I’ve seen and been hired to photograph. Good music is all around and it motivates me all the time. To all of the artists who have played their hearts out and shared their art with me this year, thank you!

  4. Travel - Anyone who knows me jokes that I really am always on the run. And this year, I’ve been roaming more than most. I’ve seen so many new places and am really grateful for the opportunity to have shared them with you (see some of my travel features here!). I think every time you travel, you learn something new about yourself, even if it’s something small. This year has been a real exploration of destinations, people, amazing food, and more. I’ve learned so much about who I am, what I value, and where I want to be. Comment on this picture if you have an idea of where I should go next!

  5. Debt Free - Student loans had me dowwnnnn friends. It took me five years to pull myself up out of their stronghold, so I completely sympathize if you’re going through this life. I currently work around 80 hours a week, though it’s all doing amazing things that I love, so working that often definitely helped me end my debt this year. I actually paid off a large portion of my loans through side gigs though, and I’ll be publishing on this soon in its own feature. Stay tuned!

  6. Work - Is it weird to be grateful about work? I don’t think so! I am working on so many amazing projects- from music photography gigs, to working with blockchain companies on their content strategies, to running press campaigns for companies like FL+G, I have had an absolute blast working this year. A few years ago, I felt stuck working in a career I didn’t absolutely love until one day, I decided life was too short and I started chasing the things that mattered to me, like public relations, content creation, blockchain, travel, tech, health, and more. I feel super fortunate to now be doing things I’m so passionate about. If you want to pivot your work life, DM me! I would so like to help you find joy in what you’re doing. It took me a little time, but now I’ll be forever grateful I took the leap and went for it!

  7. Connecting with Other Creatives - Though I’m super into science and technology, I definitely have a creative side. It’s taken a while for me to find work that lets me use both sides of my brain everyday, but the way I found what I love to do was by reaching out to other creatives: bloggers, publicists, PR coordinators, photographers, marketers, and more. Each one of them taught me different skills and techniques that I now use in my work everyday, so I am very thankful for all of the creatives I’ve connected with this year. You rock!

  8. Blockchain - At the start of the year, I was fortunate to publish a feature in VICE News about blockchain technology in healthcare. This opened a ton of doors for me- now I work with different blockchain companies on communications strategy and content creation and I love it. I’m so glad I was introduced to this space and that I’ve connected with so many others who are passionate about it. There is much more to the blockchain world than cryptocurrency, I promise!

  9. Colorado’s Music Community - While I’m on the go often, Colorado is my home base. There is an absolutely wonderful music community here- artists, musicians, promoters, photographers, publicists, and more. Whether it was jumping to a good show, photographing one of my icons like Ringo Starr, or speaking with a ton of you at Denver’s Balanced Breakfast chapter, one thing’s for sure: I love the Colorado music community. I’m excited to continue to see this community grow- what will next year bring us y’all!?

  10. Opportunity - If you want something, you have to chase it. I feel like I’ve spent all of 2018 doing just that! Whether working with clients, on my own creative outlets, or with any of you on your projects or passions, I’ve been so fortunate to have so many amazing opportunities this year to do what I love. But they didn’t just flood my inbox- trust me. I went after them with a fire that’s still burning. What’s the thing that keeps you motivated to chase the opportunities you want? Share it with me in the comments on this post.

What a year 2018 has been! I have so much to be grateful for, and so many of you to thank for that. Now, I want to hear what comes to mind for your list. Share yours with me on this post!

Why I Love My Professional Brush Sets From Mikasa Beauty

 My Mikasa puff.

My Mikasa puff.

I recently got really into highlighter palettes. Like I bought five of them from Tarte (yay for cruelty free!) and I’ve been using them with all my photoshoot friends. I can’t help it- I love the shimmer they add to any look! A little goes a long way though, and that’s why I love Mikasa Beauty’s brushes!

Mikasa brushes and blenders are made from high-quality products by beauty insiders. They make a brush for every look imaginable- from luxury red carpet to costume makeup to everyday styles. I’ve recently been using their finishing powder velour puff after my highlighter, their blender for any contouring I do, and their kabuki brush for several of my blushes and powder foundations. I love the quality and they’re super affordable. You can even get 25% off your order with my code: HANNAHBLONDON25 at checkout!

If you’ve recently gone on a beauty binge like me, Mikasa can help! I hope you guys like their brushes as much as I do! Give their website a browse.

See more pictures from my Mikasa shoot on my Instagram.


Five Fall Cocktails to Make with Fresca's New Flavors

 Fresca’s new Black Cherry flavor.

Fresca’s new Black Cherry flavor.

I don’t know about you, but sipping on a cocktail while listening to my favorite tunes with friends is a tasty fall pastime. That’s why this month, I was excited to partner with Fresca and their three new fall flavors to create five fall cocktails you can enjoy. Try these tongue-tingling mixes for your next pumpkin carving party with Fresca’s new citrus, black cherry, and peach citrus flavors. Make sure to comment on my Instagram post here with your fave fall cocktail recipes too!



Black Cherry Widow

1 part Grey Goose Cherry Noir Flavored Vodka

2 parts Fresca Black Cherry

Splash of grenadine!


Fall Fright

1 ½ oz. Bacardi Rum

1 oz. Citrus Fresca

Lots of ice!


Spooky Shadow Sangria

3 oz. Red Wine

1 oz. part Citrus Fresca

Fresh slices of orange, lemon, apple, grapefruit, or lime for a citrus kick!


Peachy Goblin Ghoul

1 oz. Grey Goose Vodka

1 oz. Peach Schnapps

1 oz. Peach Citrus Fresca

Fresh slices of orange or pineapple if you’re feeling extra!


Grim Reaper

1 oz. Bourbon

1 oz. Citrus Fresca

Fresh lemon juice

One or two maraschino cherries for fun!


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See more posts from my campaign with Fresca on my Instagram.


Denver's Inaugural Grandoozy Music Festival an Overall Success

 Life at the ‘Dooz.

Life at the ‘Dooz.

Last weekend, Superfly Presents- the brainchild behind events like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands- showcased their first major Denver music festival: Grandoozy. The three-day musical extravaganza featured headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Hip-hop and indie rock were the mainstay genres for the weekend, with notable performances by De La Soul, Mavis Staples, Miguel, Phoenix, Snow Tha Product, St. Vincent, The War On Drugs, Young The Giant, and more.

From the start, I was very impressed with Grandoozy’s inclusion of Denver businesses, musicians, and artists. Whether you had the chance to pick up some exclusive merch from Topo Designs or Kleen Kanteen, catch Dragondeer or Gasoline Lollipops at one of the main stages, or wander by the live murals by Rum Tum Creations or Dink C, the Mile High was well represented across all areas of the fest. Local vendors made up the food and beverage curation as well- Denver restaurants, food trucks, and breweries were everywhere. Some of my favorite treats from the weekend were from Elysian Brewing (pumpkin beer!), Habit Donut Dispensary, Mac N’ Noodles, and Stoney’s Bar and Grill.

Another fantastic part of the festival were the entrance times. I never waited in line more than 1-2 minutes, which was great! With the clear bag policy in place, security did not seem to be too overwhelmed with bag checks, which made for a smooth entrance inside, and from what a lot of festival attendees mentioned, the feeling of a “safer” festival experience. Exit was equally easy at night.

Grandoozy also delivered on the Colorado mantra, “Pack In, Pack Out.” The grounds were meticulously clean upon arrival, and throughout the fest each day. There were trash, recycling, and compost bins everywhere and even during the headliners, I saw volunteers collecting items around patrons to make for an easy exit. The flushable porta-potties were equally clean, with staff regularly ensuring their sanitation. There were water stations to actually wash your hands at too (not just that Purell life!) which was great.

Speaking of water though, there were not enough well-marked drinking water stations this year. I heard complaints from many attendees that they had given up at times and just bought bottled water when they failed to find the areas to refill. Since this is expensive and not environmentally friendly, it would be awesome to see Grandoozy provide more of these stations in better marked areas next year, especially if we’re once again chasing 94-degree heat.

 Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics   here  .

Shop my “Mermaid Festival Jewels” from Tarte Cosmetics here.

The transportation piece of Grandoozy was complex. Though there wasn’t any parking at the festival, Grandoozy did provide shuttles from the I-25 Broadway light rail station. I took the light rail to this stop each day and the shuttle time to the festival grounds was 20 minutes or less, even on Friday during rush hour. To get home each night, I then took a walking path out of the Jewell exit over to the Evans Street Station. The first night, my crew and I hopped the wooden fence behind the festival exit and walked through a neighborhood to get to the station. I got a splinter from the fence, it was a poorly lit path, and there was not a lot of security on this route. The second night, the wooden fence had been removed and my group proceeded to walk through the same neighborhood, which was now well-lit with generator lights provided by the festival and security. This route was quick and felt safer with  these additions, but unfortunately, some festival goers disrespected residents’ property in this neighborhood. For this reason, on the third night, all neighborhood access was shut down with a heavier police presence and caution tape. This time, we were directed down a very long walking path, which eventually spit us out on the overpass near the rail station. Because this particular path was so extended compared to the neighborhood route on previous nights, my group almost missed our train. Obviously, transportation issues were being worked on by the festival each night for success, but moving forward, if required exit paths are established, it would be great if Grandoozy’s mobile application provided these directions and instructions with estimated walking times so attendees can plan accordingly. Also to note- the Uber and Lyft rideshare drop-offs were reportedly very complicated, and though I didn’t use them, I’m sure the festival will look at these options very closely to improve for next year.

Finally, Superfly, I have to ask: Paper tickets?! In 2018?! This is the one piece that has got to go. Any music festival I’ve ever attended uses wristbands- they’re easy to put on (especially if they’re mailed in advance), they’re hard to lose (even after a few drinks), and they typically allow one to come and go during a festival (Grandoozy was a no re-entry situation). Best case in my book would be a festival utilizing the blockchain for tickets; otherwise wristbands are a must.

Overall, Grandoozy’s inaugural year was a fantastic start with minor hiccups that are to be expected with a festival of this magnitude as close to 60,000 people attended. It was great to see so much of Denver incorporated, and it will be interesting to see how people and the the festival organizers continue to develop Grandoozy’s culture. Like frontman Thomas Mars said during Phoenix’s Friday evening set, “This is the first year of Grandoozy, right? You can make this festival whatever you want…” So what will you make it Colorado?

See more posts from my Grandoozy experience on my Instagram.


Roadtrip Essentials to Take You Anywhere

 Views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos, NM.

Views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos, NM.

I recently went on a roadtrip with my mom to Taos, New Mexico and came back obsessed with “The Land of Enchantment.” On our way there, I decided to jot down my roadtrip essentials for you! Here they are:

Your Favorite Sunnies

Driving through the desert was a blast, but I would have hated doing it without my favorite pair of sunnies. Protect your eyes and make sure to wear a comfortable pair for long treks. I like any of these from Poppy Apparel and you can get 10% off your order with my code blondontherun10 at checkout!

Water

After you’ve filled up your gas tank, grab some water! It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when you’re traveling. Right now, I really love HINT water, which has a “hint” of fruit in it without any weird sugars or chemicals. Check them out here!

 At the Rio Grande Bridge in Taos, NM.

At the Rio Grande Bridge in Taos, NM.

Phone Charger

If your car doesn’t have a USB in it to charge your phone on the road, I recommend grabbing one of these charging blocks from Amazon. This one holds five charges and I take it everywhere when I travel. I usually need Google maps and other travel apps, so a full battery is essential for my life on the go.

Good Tunes

Pass the AUX. But before you do, make sure your driving buddy has made a great playlist for the open road ahead. If you need help making one, Spotify has lots of great options for road trips here!

AAA Card

This one may sound too practical, but I can’t tell you how thankful I’ve been to have my AAA membership several times! Just about $80 a year gets you roadside assistance, free tows, bicycle assistance, and more services if you’re in the US. The first time I changed a tire, I YouTubed it. Now, I just call AAA. It’s great as a single woman traversing around to know I can count on their services if I need them. Honestly, it just makes roadtrips that much less worrisome, since you know AAA will take care of you if something comes up. You can sign up for a membership here.

Now it’s time to tell me your summer road trip necessities- comment them on this post! See more posts from my roadtrip on my Instagram.


Why You Need to Experience Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre

 Hanging in the pit before a recent Red Rocks show.

Hanging in the pit before a recent Red Rocks show.

If you’re a Coloradoan, chances are you’ve been to a Red Rocks show. And if you haven’t, what’s stopping you?!

Red Rocks is one of the premiere concert venues in the world, and not just for its views. The acoustics of this place are magical for music lovers and performers alike. Recently, Vance Joy even shared with me backstage that Red Rocks is “the best venue in the whole world!” Although it’s in my backyard, I have to agree.

If you’re curious about the history of Red Rocks, I highly encourage you to read more about this geological masterpiece here and consider visiting outside of concert hours. They have a grill and gift shop where you can find out more about this iconic place and even see a list of every band who has ever played the stage in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame (the Beatles show is always a fave find).

 A sold-out Red Rocks crowd.

A sold-out Red Rocks crowd.

If concerts aren’t your thing (then I’m not sure how you found me? they’re half my life but... ) Red Rocks also hosts movies and yoga at the venue. These are special treats (I’ve done both!) so keep an eye out for them.

And finally, if you’re a music lover, keep up with Red Rocks’ schedule here and buy your tickets while the season lasts! It’s one of my favorite places to be in Colorado and people travel from all over the country to see shows here.

You can check out some of my Red Rocks concert photos at this link and find more of my experiences from the rocks on my Instagram. Make sure to tell me about your favorite times on the rocks by commenting on my pics!


How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Trip to Los Angeles

 I Love LA.

I Love LA.

Los Angeles is a massive city known around the world for its art, music, culture, history, and so much more. Every time I travel to other countries, a popular question they ask me about the US is, “Have you ever been to L.A.?” It’s a place as famous as its celebrities!

That said, there are so many things to do in the City of Angels that planning a trip there can be overwhelming! Here are the tips I use every time I plan an adventure to L.A.:

Are you looking for a relaxing trip or an active trip?

L.A. honestly has it all. If you’re looking to relax, its luxury spas, beautiful beaches, and amazing shopping could make an awesome trip! If you’re looking for something more active though, ask yourself what’s most important for you to see? Are you wanting to walk around Hollywood? Travel to Disneyland? Cruise the Sunset Strip? Tour Beverly Hills? Of course you can fit many of these into a few days, but start planning your trip by prioritizing what it is you want to see most and going from there. You want to squeeze as much in as you can, but you still want to be able to enjoy what you’re doing. It’s a balance.

Are you renting a car or using public transportation?

This is a huge factor when traveling to any city, but especially to Los Angeles because of their insane traffic! Los Angeles is a place I personally don’t find to be great in the public transportation department so I often rent a car or Lyft to where I want to go. You can even get $5 or more off your next Lyft by using my referral code blondontherun! Whatever you decide, factor in the time it takes to get around because it may be more than you’d think just to travel a few miles in this city! Cruising from Hollywood to Sunset Boulevard to Santa Monica Pier to Manhattan Beach is doable (I’ve done it!) but you’ll want to go at the right traffic times to get everything in on your list.

Stay near what you want to see!

With so much traffic and so little time, it can often be a huge advantage in L.A. to snag an AirBnB or hotel near a cluster of the sites you want to see. Whether you’re looking to catch some time at the Getty and then cruise to Hollywood or visit Venice Beach before heading up Ocean Avenue, it’s worth booking something close to a few things you want to do on your trip. Walking distance is an even bigger bonus! Use my referral code here for $40 off your next AirBnB!

Look up other sites around your ticketed events.

This tip is another huge time and transport saver. Maybe you’re catching a game at Dodgers Stadium or maybe you’re planning a backstage tour at Paramount Studios. Whatever the events are that you’re planning to do for sure, to make the most out of getting somewhere in this city, look up what’s in walking distance of your ticketed events and do them! There is no better way to maximize your time and get the most out of your L.A. trip than to use this trick! I use it most places I go, but especially in Los Angeles, so I can spend as much time on my feet and out of my car as possible.

Mix up museums with other fun sites.

L.A. has so. many. museums. Fine art, history, the tar pits, Madame Tussauds- museums are honestly everywhere! While I absolutely think you should check some out, don’t be the person who gets stuck spending your entire trip in museums (unless that’s what you’re in to). You’ll miss out on seeing a lot of the actual city if you spend it all inside and there’s something about Los Angeles that makes me want to be out soaking up the sun. You should definitely make room for a museum or two- they’re some of the best you’ll find in the world. But make sure you also get out and see iconic parts of the city, the beaches, and the local neighborhood joints that make community in L.A. special.

There's nowhere like Los Angeles, so have fun booking your next adventure to the West Coast! I go several times a year and I still can't get enough!


Stitch Fix Delivers Trendy & Affordable Outfits Right to Your Door

 One of my favorite Stitch Fix outfits!

One of my favorite Stitch Fix outfits!

I don’t always have time to shop. When I travel, I’m usually trying to see as much as I can in a short window of time while creating and working on lots of content. When I’m home (or in one place for a bit) I’m better about it. But when I’m on the road, I don’t want to have to think about keeping up with the season’s trends. I want them to come to me. That’s why I recently partnered with Stitch Fix, the delivery service that pairs you with a personal stylist and ships you a box of fashionable outfits tailored to your tastes!

For just $20 a month Stitch Fix will send you up to five styled items- pants, dresses, coats, jewelry, shoes, and more! You can try everything on at home and then pay to keep what you love or return what you don’t. You get a special discount if you keep your whole box and your styling fee goes toward your purchase too. PLUS they have petites! In fact, Stich Fix was started by Katrina Lake, who is petite and knows the struggle for cute clothes when you’re small is real.

Stitch Fix really works with you so that your stylist gets your vibe. You can request outfits or let them know you have a trip coming up somewhere, and they’ll actually research the weather and trends in that area to style your fix. They’re personal! My stylist writes me a note every month and all my pieces come with pictures of different outfits to create. And if you’re short on cash- don’t count it out yet! Stitch Fix has different pricing structures, so you don’t have to go for a box of all the luxury brand name items, but you also totally can if that’s your style!

If Stitch Fix sounds like the fashion piece you’ve been missing, use my special referral code here to get $25 off your first fix. I highly recommend signing up today, especially if you’re a girl on the go like me! Catch more of my Stitch Fix outfits on my Instagram.


Affordable Luxury Wristwatches from Swiss Brand Welly Merck

 Look at that wrist piece!

Look at that wrist piece!

As someone who is always on the go, I can’t just rely on my smartphone for the time anymore. I need it to be accessible at a true moment’s notice! That’s why I recently partnered with Welly Merck watches for some fashionable and practical wrist candy.  

Welly Merck watches are a Swiss company whose products come with a three year warranty, but my favorite thing about them is that they have petite styles for small wrists. They sent me the 26mm Fighter New York style in rose gold and it fits so well! The band slides for adjustments, making it perfect for several different wrist sizes, and if you aren’t petite they have other options for wristwear too.

Welly Merck pride themselves on being a luxury brand and use sapphire crystal for all of their watches. My sister and I recently created a fun glam shoot for our watches- you can see all of our pictures on my Instagram.

Welly Merck also have more casual styles, and feature men’s and women’s watches. Get 15% off your order today with the code blondontherun15 at checkout! Click here to see all of Welly Merck’s luxury watches.

The Five Things I Loved The Most About Paris

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Often referred to as The City of Lights or The City of Love, Paris is well known for its mystical vibes. Here are my favorite things about the enchanting city:

The Fashion

Paris is quite fashionable, whether you’re talking about its citizens, the amount of shopping the city has available, or the fact that it is one of several cities known worldwide for its modeling and fashion events. Sporting your favorite yoga pants will be laughable here, so make sure to browse my guide for dressing in Europe before you jetset over! If you missed it and you’ve already landed, I recommend dropping by Galeries Lafayette to pick up something a little more dressy. Even your most “I only shop online” friends will be impressed by the architecture of this space, and it doesn’t hurt that the galeries feature some of the most luxurious and famous brands in the entire world.

The Food

French cuisine is exquisite, and I found both cheap and more gourmet examples of this. After dining at delicious cafes and restaurants, I stopped by a market near the Eiffel Tower and picked out a selection of fruits, cheeses, crisps, a baguette, and wine which made for a fantastic picnic at Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. This was one of my favorite experiences of my entire Paris visit and my whole meal cost around 20 euro! You can find delectable pastries and sandwiches just about anywhere too, and what’s Paris without trying a croissant?  

The Architecture

There are a number of incredible sites to see in Paris just for their architecture, like the Gothic-style Notre-Dame de Paris, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, and of course, The Eiffel Tower! You’ll also notice the style of the buildings throughout a large part of Paris feature balconies with French doors, which are great for snagging fun photos on like the one featured on this page.

The Art

Obviously, Paris is known for the Louvre. But if you’re not wanting to wait in the lines that Beyonce and Jay-Z paid to skip, there are plenty of other art spots in Paris to check out. I had a beautiful afternoon at the Halle St-Pierre in the Montmartre area, where I wandered a Balkans exhibition before making my way outside and walking across the street to the The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. So whether you’re looking for a specific artist’s work (like the Dali Museum) or just an afternoon escape from the rain (that was my sitch!), Paris has the perfect place for you.

Walking Tours

Depending on where you’re headed in the city, like most metropolises in Europe, Paris is very walkable. In just the span of one day, I saw the Notre-Dame de Paris, Pont de l'Archevêché, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, the Galeries Lafayette, Halle St-Pierre, The Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Champ de Mars, and the Eiffel Tower. Plus throw a couple of great cafe stops in there and a night picnic while the Eiffel Tower lit up! I recommend mapping out the main sites you want to see on your walk and then using TripAdvisor to pull up other things near your main plans. That’s one way I was able to see so much in so little time- strategy! That and a couple of delicious cappuccinos…


The Top Five Things To Do In Brussels On Your Next Belgium Adventure

 Grand Place.

Grand Place.

Brussels has a lot of character and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Book your next European adventure with Brussels in the mix and make sure to stop at these spots: 

5. See the Mannekin Pis

The Mannekin Pis is said to embody the “rebellious spirit” of Brussels and is definitely a must-see purely for iconic reasons. You’ll find replicas of him everywhere in the city, from magnets to wine openers, so it’s worth wandering through Grand Place to find him. He’s smaller than you’d think! The city dresses him up regularly (in over 900 suits) and bonus if you find his counterpart, the female Jeanneke Pis.

4. Grab a Belgian Beer

It goes without saying that you’ve got to grab a Belgian beer while in Brussels! Belgium is known worldwide for their brewing and the number of beers you’ll find on tap around town are almost endless. The Delirium Cafe was one of my favorite stops for a brew and their beer is a staple you’ll find at most pubs so be sure to stop in if you can!

3. The Waffles

This is a country that has an entire morning treat named after them and for good reason! From street-style spots like Le Funambule to the more refined styles of Maison Dandoy, Belgium waffles are a crispy, sugary delight. The toppings you’ll find for them are truly limitless- from classic powdered sugar to Nutella and fruit toppings. Surprisingly, you won’t find syrup as the standard way to eat these treats but don’t fear- there are plenty of other options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 Just look at all these options...

Just look at all these options...

2. The Chocolate

I ate my way through my recent Eurotrip, and I’d encourage you to do the same! Using TripAdvisor makes it easy to find cheap eats, keeping your meals (and treats!) very affordable. Let your palate be adventurous! The chocolate and truffles in Belgium are found best at the speciality shops around the place du petit sablon. You won’t be disappointed! Especially if you’re a chocoholic like me.

1. Get a Picture in Grand Place

In city center, you’ll find Grand Place, a beautiful market square that has been important to the city since the 10th century. From fires to beheadings, this square has stood the test of time and now it’s a popular spot to chill in, especially around sunset. At night, the place has beautiful lights adorning the outside of its buildings and is my favorite time to grab a picture. If you’re there during in August during the Flower Carpet in the square, it’s an added photo bonus!
 


Don't Miss Seeing a Castle On Your Next Irish Getaway

 Kilkenny Castle.

Kilkenny Castle.

If you plan on traveling to Ireland, castles are a major part of the country’s landscape. Whether they’re roadside ruins, highly preserved landmarks, or hotels where you can kick back and relax, while you’re visiting the country of shamrocks, catch a castle!

On my trip to Ireland, I saw a number of castles, some better preserved than others. But no matter what state the royal stones were in, there was a real magic to knowing how old these places were! Much of Ireland’s castles were constructed between the late 1100s-1500s. It’s powerful to set foot on the grounds of something that ancient and imagine what life was like back then. Not to mention it’s amazing so many are still in existence centuries later! My Game of Thrones thirst at these castles was real.

While in Ireland, my favorite castle toured was the Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny, located just a short train ride from Dublin, is a medieval town full of historic architecture. Among its ancient buildings sits its crown, the Kilkenny Castle. I arrived at the castle near closing time and was given a major discount on admission but it meant I had to high-tail it through the massive structure fast! The staff were vacuuming for the end of the day close behind me…

First built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke in the 13th century, Kilkenny Castle became the home of the prominent Butler family for over 600 years after Marshal’s death. There are several rooms open to the public, as well as the castle’s ornate courtyard and grounds. The most eye-catching room of all, however, is the Picture Gallery Wing, where the paintings of various Butler family members now reside. The room has wooden floors, a marble fireplace, and a painted timber ceiling. It’s pretty magnificent and where I spent the longest part of my quick tour.

After exiting, I ran around the grounds imagining how crazy it is that someone once called this their backyard. The outside of the castle is a must for those Insta photo opps!

Planning your own Irish getaway? Get a full list of castles to see throughout the country here!


Kauai From the Sky Is the Best Way to Experience the Garden Isle

UPDATE: After the floods in Kauai in April 2018, there is much to be repaired on this beautiful island. Please consider donating to the relief efforts here.

Kauai, the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii, is a very lush island covered in tropical rainforests. Much of the island is protected with the Na Pali Coast State Park and the Waimea Canyon State Park. The island’s origins are volcanic, wild chickens roam freely in city and rural areas, and the island has dozens of waterfalls scattered throughout its mountainous climate. If these reasons still haven’t sold you on why you should adventure in Kauai, just look at these pictures of the Na Pali Coast. You’ll never want to leave its beauty!

 Just before takeoff!

Just before takeoff!

Several Hollywood films have used Kauai as a location, including South Pacific, Lilo & Stitch, the first Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost ArkTropic Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blue Hawaii, and The Descendants. Once you’ve seen this island, it’s easy to see why it’s been a scouted as a tropical paradise so many times!

My favorite way to see as much of the island as possible in a short amount of time is by helicopter, and more specifically, with Kauai’s Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. With business class style seats, two-way communication with your pilot, and a chopper that is mostly glass for your viewing pleasure, explore Kauai in luxury! The ECO Tour, which is the one I did, includes a flight around Hanapepe Valley, Manawaiopuna (also known as Jurassic Park falls!), and Olokele Canyon which eventually opens into the sweeping views of Waimea Canyon. This area is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it’s breathtaking! My favorite part of the ride was along the Na Pali Coast, where we caught a few rainbows out over the ocean and swooped across the shoreline near the Bali Hai Cliffs and Hanalei Bay. Most tours will even visit Mount Waialeale, which is the old volcano that helped form this island.

 A Na Pali Coast shot from my window.

A Na Pali Coast shot from my window.

I had an absolute blast talking to my pilot the entire tour too- he used to fly in the military and now flies the Kauai skies as a private pilot. He was extremely knowledgeable about the island and there was plenty of time for questions on our 45-minute tour. My group felt safe from start to finish in the ECO Star chopper and they even filmed our ride. National Geographic has called Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Kauai premiere helicopter tour company for good reason- they offer a safe, professional, luxury tour of Kauai at a very reasonable price.

Kauai really is the sapphire gem of Hawaii’s crown. It’s one of the wettest places on earth due to its annual rainfall, which makes for some crazy biodiversity in its plant life and the view of it from a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter ride is unreal! Fly in luxury and see all the beauties this island holds- you can book your sky tour here today!


Why You Should Book A Submarine Tour On Your Next Tropical Vacation

 Exploring the deep blue below!

Exploring the deep blue below!

Kona, Hawaii is known for more than just its coffee. In fact, the Big Island’s city boasts National Park access, the historic Hulihee palace, and even Michael Dell’s $64.7 million home. The city has a lush landscape and its boardwalk shops and restaurants along the coast of Kailua-Kona bay make for a great day of just cruising the coastline if you’re looking to keep it more chill.

But if you’re looking for adventure…

Then here’s why an Atlantis Submarine tour is for you!

After checking in right off the bay, you’ll board a mid-size boat which jets you out to the submarines. The subs are far enough off the coast to take you to shipwreck sites and a coral reef. You’ll spend 45 minutes with 48 other passengers sinking to 100 feet below the water’s surface where you can see Kona like no one else can (unless you’ve got your scuba license).

As you climb down the ladder into the submarine, you’ll be seated at your own personal window so that you can really take in everything the ocean’s going to throw your way. You’ll see schools of fish, crabs, sea turtles, and even dolphins if you’re lucky. There is a wide variety of fish to look at and throughout the trip, your guide will educate you on all of the creatures you come across.

But hold on- if you’re thinking squeezing into a sardine can with 48 other people to look at fish sounds like hell- chill! The seats on Atlantis subs are actually roomy enough to keep you comfortable and the ship is air-conditioned. Plus the tour takes you places you really couldn’t otherwise explore. And when else are you going to be able to say you’ve been on a submarine?

When your tour is over, you’ll board the ship back to the bay and Atlantis will drop you off right on the shore. You’ll leave knowing you’ve seen some rare spots in Kona and hum Beatles tunes all the way home (you know the one).

Not trekking to Kona on your next Hawaiian adventure? No worries- Atlantis offers tours in Maui and Waikiki too. Book your underwater adventure today.


Why Skydiving Should Be On Your Bucketlist

 Freefalling.

Freefalling.

Skydiving.

It’s something everyone should do once.

That feeling of shooting through the sky at top speed, looking out over the world… there’s nothing like it!

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or you’re just looking for a new adventure, here are the reasons skydiving has got to be on your bucket list:

1. To conquer your fears.

If dropping out of an airplane at 18000’ above sea level at 130MPH isn’t conquering your fears, I don’t know what is! There is really no rush like skydiving and whether you’re afraid of heights or just the unknown, tackle it with a dive! As a beginner, you’ll always be paired with an experienced tandem jumper, so you’re strapped on to another person when you jump. When I went, my instructor had over 10,000 jumps in his career! I never felt out of control or concerned. And besides, once you’re up and about to jump, there isn’t much time to think anyway. That’s why it’s nice to know you’re with someone who is going to get you to the ground safely.

2. For the rush.

Let’s be honest- if you’re someone who loves adventure or a crazy adrenaline rush, skydiving is definitely going to give you that hit. Especially if it’s your first time. My energy totally heightened when I was standing with my toes at the edge of the airplane door just before the jump. As I looked out over the Rocky Mountains, I couldn’t believe I was about to just blast out into the sky. And then we did. And it was awesome. And you should do it.

3. It’s a whole different view.

Sure, you’ve probably been a passenger in an airplane. But when that’s gone and it’s your face against the sky (with your goggles on of course), the world has a whole different view. During my freefall, there was really just one word that kept repeating in my mind: nirvana. The fall felt like nothing I’d experienced- hurtling toward the ground as the mountains crept closer and closer somehow felt like it’s own strange paradise. I remember looking out across the vastness and considering, “We’re not all as far apart as we think we are.” Somehow being up so high and then coming closer and closer to the earth made me think about how connected humanity is. What will your view be?

4. You may just discover your new favorite hobby.

Remember the guy I mentioned who had more than 10k jumps? Well he had to start somewhere! While jumping out of planes as your pastime might sound crazy, you’ll never know if you’re meant to make it your new hobby until you try it! Most skydiving companies offer the standard tandem beginner jump along with lots of other training programs. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that “thing” you’ve been looking for in a dive and end up getting your solo license, or jumping from space. Get out there.

5. It’s a chance to learn something new.

Though skydiving sounds as easy as just stepping off the ledge of an airplane, there’s a little more to it than that. Your guide and the staff where you book will spend some ground time with you going over your gear, how to “fall,” and most importantly, when to pull your parachute! The entire experience is a chance to learn something totally new and different, and doing so will also make you feel a little more in control when it comes time to plunge.

Ready to book? Here’s where I went. Happy jumping!


Colorado University Blockchain Club Hosts First Blockchain Hackathon & Conference

 CU hackers at work.

CU hackers at work.

Colorado University’s Blockchain Club recently hosted a 24-hour hackathon and conference on campus at Idea Forge. Sponsored by key industry partners like Shape Shift, Keep Key, ConsenSys, and Rebel AI, the weekend featured speakers and panelists on topics like “Blockchain in the Advertising Space,” “Exploring Career Options in the Wild World of Crypto,” and “Cryptocurrency and Taxes.” Along with industry speakers like Manny Puentes (Rebel AI), Buff alum Justin Blinco (Shapeshift), and Ked Hodler (Keep Key), students also put together their own presentations for several of the showcased speaking events.

One of the weekend’s highlights was the “Global Women In Blockchain” panel, which featured Lindsey Gallaway (Rebel AI), Amber Hartley (BurstIQ), and Nina Nichols, Mila Popovich, and Diana Lange of Global Women In Blockchain. As students (men and women) asked the panelists about life in crypto after college, the women explained their own success and failure stories while encouraging individuals to network and seek mentorship in the job space and to “go where you are uncomfortable.” Hartley candidly shared a number of her career highlights and low points saying, “A lot of people in this space will tell you being laid off from one [tech] job in their career ended up being the best thing that happened to them.” Said Popovich to attendees, “Ask yourself, ‘What is a life well shared?’ … That’s how you will begin to unravel your own planetary pathfinder.”

Hackers at the event came up with a number of interesting projects as well, from predictive market dApps, to tech that could simplify the nightmare that is currently figuring out your US taxes when you own crypto, to a decentralized event registry that could change event and concert ticket sales.

Overall, the weekend was a wild success for the CU Blockchain’s first summit gathering. The CU Blockchain club meets weekly with about 200 on their Slack and 50 dedicated in-person members. They encourage anyone interested in the space to attend and have plans for more summits and events for next year. Get more information on their Slack and check out their leadership team coordinating events like this on their website.


The Top Five Reasons To Snorkel In Hawaii

 Snorkeling in Hawaii is paradise.

Snorkeling in Hawaii is paradise.

There’s a whole other world underwater, and Hawaii is the place to see it! With black and white sand beaches, some of the clearest waters in the world, and a variety of coral reef and marine life, Hawaii is a snorkeler’s paradise. Here are the top five reasons you should snorkel on your Hawaiian vacation:

1. The animals! Duh!

Snorkeling will open your eyes to all of the amazing sea life that Hawaii has to offer. Coral reefs, turtles, and tons of fish and marine life surround several of the Hawaiian islands and can be explored just off the beach. Some areas also have the added bonus of whale and dolphin watching, letting you see a ton of beautiful creatures in just one day! On my snorkel tours around Molokini crater and Turtle Bay, which I did over the course of one day, I saw coral reefs, fish, sea urchins, plant and marine life, turtles, dolphins, whales, and more! Most animals I saw in Hawaii were on my snorkeling adventures (except for Kauai’s chickens!), so it’s worth getting your hair wet for.

2. Snorkeling is almost free.

I bought my own cheap Target snorkel set a few years ago and it comes with me on all of my tropical adventures. After trips to the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel, my set has already paid for itself in what would have otherwise been rental fees. But don’t fret if your suitcase can’t handle one more thing! There are plenty of affordable places to rent snorkel gear in Hawaii, from actual snorkel tours to your hotel. Several of the islands have different beach options for snorkeling, so if there isn’t one you can walk to, there’s likely one a short distance away. If you have the funds, splurge on a Molokini Crater snorkel tour with PacWhale Eco-Adventures. It’s a short boat ride from Maui’s shore, but swimming around the volcano crater with Hawaii’s wildlife will be an experience you won’t soon forget. Plus proceeds benefit whale research and your guides are marine biologists who know their stuff!

3. The water is crystal clear.

If you’ve snorkeled in seaweed or dark waters, you know that clear water is a snorkeling MUST. Hawaii’s beaches are full of just that and you can see all the way to the reef floor in some places. In Turtle Bay, I thought I was closer to the reefs than I actually was (which was confirmed by a quick dive down until my ears wouldn’t pop!) just because the water was so clear. You can see so much.

4. The conditions are usually solid year-round.

Yes, Hawaii has seasons even though it’s in the tropics. Winter tends to be rainier; their summer tends to get pretty warm. Wind is really the only factor that will hold you back from a good day of snorkeling though, since it can cause the waves to get choppy and make conditions dangerous. So if you’re spending more than a day or two in Hawaii, it’s likely you’ll have one with snorkel-friendly weather. So get out there!

5. Every island you can visit has a spot.

Most traveling to Hawaii aren’t island-hopping, though the lucky do! Whether you’re staying on The Big Island or jumping between Oahu and Kauai, there are good snorkeling spots at every island. Though the beaches and marine life will vary, there are interesting things to see throughout the state’s waters. Just don’t forget your organic sunscreen- seriously! Choosing organic brands without oxybenzone and other harsh chemicals preserves marine life so check out this list for what to buy.

Time to dive in! Book your Hawaiian vacation today. See more of my snorkel adventures on Instagram.


SALT's Day 4 Crypto Event Helps Onboard Audience Into Crypto & Blockchain Tech

 SALT's CEO Shawn Owen & CD Caleb Slade at d4c.

SALT's CEO Shawn Owen & CD Caleb Slade at d4c.

Anyone involved in blockchain or crypto will tell you that the space needs mass adoption to continue growing and building. And while blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies have seen a huge buzz in the past year, even making the cut for a major feature on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” there is still a long way to go on educating the masses on these pieces of “new” technology. That’s why it’s so important to bring communities together and provide education for entering what many perceive as a daunting space.

Recently, Denver’s blockchain-backed lending firm SALT did just that with their Denver Day 4 Crypto event. The conference featured keynotes by major blockchain players like Peter Vessenes (New Alchemy), Erik Voorhees (Shapeshift), and Shawn Owen (SALT). But instead of focusing on the most emerging pieces of blockchain trends and announcements like many of these conferences do, this day was about onboarding individuals to jump into the crypto space. SALT even gave away some of their own tokens and free Keep Keys to anyone who admitted to not yet having bought any cryptocurrency.

The day had discussions for those just entering the crypto market like “How to Buy and Sell Crypto” and “Value Through Token Economics” but the event still managed to keep those more educated in the space invested with panels on topics like “Charitable Giving in Blockchain” and “The Future of Blockchain.” The day even featured expert discussions on blockchain’s current regulatory environment and the basics of tax reporting. Companies like Polymath, Realblocks, and even meal-delivery blockchain service Nostrum also explored how blockchain is changing their industries.

Overall, SALT did a fantastic job of helping individuals interested in the space learn more, network with key players and companies, and even purchase their first cryptocurrency. The blockchain needs more events like these to connect people to this technology and show them how easy it really can be to setup a crypto wallet and HODL. Cheers to SALT- learn more about their business here.


ETHDenver Proved the Blockchain Community Is a Powerful One

 ETHDenver set the stage for one fanstastic hackathon and conference event.

ETHDenver set the stage for one fanstastic hackathon and conference event.

Shortly after writing a piece for VICE News on blockchain in healthcare, I was invited by OPOLIS' John Paller to ETHDenver. The three-day hackathon and conference event was held at Sports Castle and featured panelists like Joseph Lubin, Erik Voorhees, Dmitry Buterin, and Kevin Owacki. The first annual hackathon was Ethereum’s largest to date, and along with the panels and workshops, there were art installations, a dance party, and hackers from 31 states and 21 countries as far away as Cairo! Companies like Blockgeeks, Consensys, Ox Protocol, DAOstack, Cellarius, Maiden, OPOLIS, and many others sponsored the event, which was free for attendees.

Panel topics for the weekend included “Decentralized Governance, “Token Based Business Models,” “Art on the Blockchain,” and more. Workshops were held nightly on various subjects as well, while hackers worked away on several floors of the six-story building piecing together the newest tech and game ideas for the blockchain. The event even boasted its own currency, the Colorado Coin, which users could use to purchase meals outside of the event at local food trucks.

Regulation of crypto and blockchain tech was a main discussion at various panels at the conference this year, whether it was regarding liquidity and compliance, crypto taxation, or current US legislation on how tokens are defined.

Said Erik Voorhees to a sweep of cheers and applause during one panel, “I’m thankful people have built things without regulatory clarity and you should continue to build things.”

Build they did, and by day three of ETHDenver, seven winning teams presented their various projects, which ranged from using the blockchain to turn on a lightbulb (a marriage between blockchain and the internet of things), a cyberpunk cryptocurrency trading game based on Drugwars, a blockchain-based system to record blood donation in healthcare, and a dApp that splits your private key between trusted friends for safekeeping. Apprentio even had a team of all teens from local high-schools who created “Cryptokicks,” a Yeezy-inspired digital tennis shoe collectible similar to CryptoKitties but made for sneakerheads.

Overall, the weekend proved the blockchain community is a powerful one- powerfully supportive of new ideas, powerfully supportive of blockchain technology, and most of all, powerfully supportive of each other.

Said John Paller of the event, “This has been even more than I expected in every way.”

If only for three days, ETHDenver brought key players together with hackers, industry insiders, and even newbies for one fantastic event. Make sure to keep up with ETHDenver and their plans for next year on Slack.


Feature In VICE News For Blockchain In Healthcare

 Blockchain could give you better ownership of your medial records and data.

Blockchain could give you better ownership of your medial records and data.

After recently attending the Care Coordination & Technology Congress in Atlanta, I was blown away by all of the possibilities panelists discussed on blockchain technology in healthcare. After interviewing industry professionals like Jack Shaw of the American Blockchain Council, blockchain health app MintHealth co-founder and CEO Samir Damani, co-chair of the Internet of Things (IoT) Committee of the American Bar Association Steven Teppler, and executive steward of the ETHDenver Hackathon John Paller, I wrote a feature on blockchain in healthcare.

Featured in VICE News, read "How to Make Millennials Actually Go to the Doctor."