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I'm Olivia, a lifestyle blogger and content creator! I'm a lover of fitness, fashion, cooking, and travel. I live in Chicago with my hubby and our 3 crazy pups. I've been blogging and creating for over 5 years. In these digital pages, you'll find content focused around lifestyle, travel, and wellness. Thanks for reading - I'm so happy you're here!


 

 

 

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Las Vegas Vacation Travel Guide

Everything You Need to Know Before Your Las Vegas Vacation

I’ve been to a lot of really great destinations, but there’s something about Las Vegas that I just absolutely love.

Contrary to popular belief, Vegas isn’t all strip clubs, gambling, and parties. There’s definitely some of that, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to find it. But there’s so many other incredible aspects to explore, so even if getting super drunk and clubbing isn’t your thing (anymore), don’t write off a trip to LV just yet.

From the amazing food scene created by world-class chefs, to the performances that will leave you mind-blown, I’ve found one of the most diverse cultures in Las Vegas. Well, there’s nothing else to do but get into this travel guide, so let’s do it!

Getting There

Getting to Vegas is so easy and convenient – almost every airline offers non-stop flights at all hours of the day. I’ve personally found that the 2 best airlines for Vegas travel are Southwest and Spirit. Here’s why: Southwest Vacations are a combination deal for your flight + hotel. They’re often able to give a pretty big discount on staying somewhere really nice. So if I have a particular hotel in mind that I want to stay at, I always check the Southwest Vacations packages first.

If I don’t have somewhere specific I want to stay, I typically book my flight with Spirit Airlines. Yes, it’s definitely an economy airline. However, I’ve never paid more than $70 for a flight to Las Vegas, and I’ve gotten deals as low as $39. So, it sometimes does pay to stuff everything in a backpack, or bite the bullet to pay for the additional $30 in baggage fees, and buy a water before getting on the plane.

I’ve found that using Lyft ($5 off your first ride!) is often the easiest and cheapest way to get from the airport. It’s also really convenient to get around the city, but if you’re staying on the Strip, it’s very walkable.


Staying There

First things first; there aren’t many bad hotels in Las Vegas. If you’re staying anywhere on the Strip, you’ll notice that competition is high, and most hotels are doing everything they can to get people to choose them. Because there’s so much competition, there’s a lot of hotel deals at any given time.

I already mentioned using Southwest Vacations, but I’ll put that note here again, because I’ve found some really great packages.

If I choose to book my flights and hotel separately, my favorite hotel booking site is Priceline. Here’s my favorite little travel hack, but it only works if you don’t mind which hotel you’ll be staying in. I actually enjoy booking this way, because it allows me to stay in different places.

Here’s what you do. Pull up the Express Deals section in either the priceline app, or on the website. Type in your location and dates, and hit search. On the left side of the page, you’ll find the filters. If you know the area you want to stay, you can check the boxes. For example; if you want to stay on the strip, but you don’t mind where, you can check each section of the strip (southeast, southwest, etc.). It will then pull up all the deals without giving you the hotel name. You’ll see the stars that the hotel’s been given, and the amenities. You’ll also see the cost of the hotel at full price, without the express deal, so basically, what you would be paying. Here’s an example:

In a separate tab, open Priceline again, and instead of using the express deals section, you’ll want to use the regular hotels booking section. Type in your location and date again, and hit search. Now, go over to the filters on the left side and check the boxes that match the hotel deal you’re considering. Based on this example, you’d want to check The Strip – Southwest and 5 Star. Once the filters are applied, you’ll see the list become smaller, and from there, you can compare the original price. Here’s another example:

You can see that Vdara Hotel matches all the same details as the Express Deal, including the original price. Of course, this isn’t guaranteed, but it is a way to book an undisclosed hotel with at least a pretty good idea of where you might be staying.


Eating There

This is my favorite section of all my travel guides, but even more so for this one, because Las Vegas has incredible food.

Breakfast/Brunch – Before our first trip, someone told me about the buffets, and I didn’t think much of it. But then we arrived, and we went to a brunch buffet, and it was everything. Even if you’re not a huge buffet person, you will love the experience. There’s so many different cuisines to try, and they’re all delightful. Each hotel has their own, and you can often get a better price by checking Groupon or going on a weekday versus the weekend. Best Brunch Buffet: Aria

If I can’t sell you on the buffets, here’s a list of some other breakfast/brunch restaurants that will not disappoint.

Grand Luxe Cafe (inside of the Venetian) – they have a small, continental style buffet, but their menu is also really great. *Rec – Grand Luxe Cafe French Toast

Hexx (outside of Paris hotel) – the perfect patio, and you can see the Bellagio Fountain show every 30 minutes while eating brunch! *Rec – Carrot Cake Pancakes

Eggslut (Cosmopolitan) – a quick order breakfast restaurant that makes simple, but delicious egg sandwiches. *Rec – Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich (without the sausage for me!)

Carrot Cake Pancakes Hexx Las Vegas

I don’t typically eat lunch because the breakfast/brunch options are massive, so I’ll move on to dinner, but a lot of the options below would work for lunch as well.

Holsteins (Cosmopolitan) – burgers and fries – really good ones. *Rec – The Classic with sweet potato fries.

Gordon Ramsay Burger (Planet Hollywood) – more burgers, more fries, more goodness. *Rec – Backyard Burger with sweet potato fries.

Trevi (Caesars) – the cutest Italian restaurant with “outdoor seating” next to the fountain. *Rec – Margherita Pizza or Raviolla Alla Vodka.

STK (Cosmopolitan) – this is a pricey dinner option, but it’s so worth it if you’re up for the splurge.

Tao (Venetian) – an asian restaurant that also doubles as a night club. It’s super dark and swanky inside, and the food is amazing. *Rec – Spicy Tuna Roll or Pad Thai

Flour & Barley (The Linq Promenade) – a walkup pizza window with huge slices. Perfect for lunch, dinner, or middle-of-the-night snacks.

Other favorites:

O’Sheas Bar (the Linq Promenade) – the absolute best frozen drink on the planet is located here; Frozen Baileys. It’s only served at O’sheas outdoor bar. Please make this a part of your trip, because I would travel to LV for this drink alone.

Milk Bar (Cosmopolitan) – cookies and ice cream; enough said, right? *Rec – Cereal Milk soft serve.

Flamingo Las Vegas Brunch Buffet


Playing There

Gambling isn’t the only thing to do in Vegas, but if you’re into it, it’s a really fun way to spend the days (and nights!) I’m a big fan of Blackjack tables and the Wheel of Fortune slot machines. Every casino has more to see and play than you could imagine, so I definitely recommend roaming around and checking out multiple places, unless you find somewhere that you’ve hit a lucky streak.

Definitely sign up for the players cards at each, because you often get welcome bonuses, like $20 of free playing cash or something fun. It’s nothing big, but it’s worth the 2 seconds it takes to input your info!

Las Vegas Casino Tips

People watching and touring the Strip is a form of entertainment in itself. There are so many street performers to see, but be sure you have cash if you plan to interact with them, because they definitely work for tips!

One of my favorite people to watch is the artist outside of the Flamingo/Linq hotels in the promenade. He has EDM music blaring and he creates art using spray paint and crumpled up paper. He sells the images that he’s created right there. Whether you buy something or not, it’s worth stopping by to catch a few minutes of the experience.

Las Vegas is full of free shows, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to experience the grand displays and performances. Some must-see shows: the Fountains at the Bellagio, the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens inside the Bellagio, the Volcano at the Mirage, and The Fall of Atlantis at Caesars Forum Shops.

Caesars Forum Shops

If you do want to spend some money on entertainment, there’s an abundance of shows that will leave your mind blown. Cirque Du Soleil has 7 different shows scattered across the Strip. There are tons of other performances, including magic shows, dancing, dogs; pretty much everything you can image. *Recs – Absinthe (Caesars) and Mystère (Treasure Island).

In the summer, one of my favorite things to do is spend my days at the pools and day clubs. Each hotel has their own pool, and if you’re not a guest, there’s a fee to use the pool. I definitely suggest checking out the pools at the hotels you’re considering before booking, because it’s a huge added bonus to stay somewhere with an incredible set up. Some of my favorites are Mandalay Bay, Caesars, and the Cosmopolitan.

Recreational dispensaries are legal in Vegas, and to each their own, but a quick stop here always makes my trips a little more fun. My favorite is MedMen off the Strip. There’s several stores that have a delivery service as well, if you want your purchases to be hand-delivered.

There are so many more tips and tidbits to make your Las Vegas vacation the best trip ever, but hopefully this is a good start! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to share anything I’ve learned from my own trips there!

Unique Date Night Ideas

5 Ways to Spend Valentines Day (That Aren’t Dinner)

This year, we’re celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary, and 13 years of being together. That means that we’ve gone to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day A LOT.

Not that there’s anything wrong with dinner, but eventually, it becomes kinda… boring. At least it did for us. Maybe the same goes for some of you as well. If so, don’t give up and retire to your sweats just yet (although that does sounds amazing). Here’s a list of 5 unique ways to spend V-Day together.


Take A Class

There are so many fun classes available – some you’ve probably never even heard of. In the last week, I’ve seen classes for cooking, candle-making, dancing, and building a terrarium.

The key to getting the most out of a class together is finding something you’re both interested in, or working to build something together, such as an item you can display in your home.

Another bonus is that all sorts of classes can typically be found on Groupon, so you can save some cash to put toward your Grubhub order for later, so you can get dinner, without it being your main event for the night!

Tour Your Dream Home

I love dreaming and envisioning the future with hubby. I remember touring our very first apartment together and how much fun it was to imagine spending our future there. I walked through the rooms and smiled, trying to visualize where we’d hang our first photo together.

Our life together looks a lot different now and it’s still fun to continue dreaming about the next place we’ll hang those family photos. There’s no better way to celebrate your love than continuing to look forward to your future together, while being able to appreciate the journey you’ve taken so far.

Recreate Your First Date

Okay, I totally may have fibbed a little about the “no dinner” thing in the title of this post. But, this may include dinner for you. However, if so, it’s totally different (and much more special!) then just any old dinner.

Our first date was at an IHOP, and we met at Ruby Tuesday, and I still get a little nostalgic every time I see either one of those restaurants. There’s something so romantic about being back in those moments.

Let’s be honest, relationships are hard work. Even the happiest couples struggle through things. Isn’t it nice to remember back on the times when things were just really easy? That’s what I think about when I remember that first date all those years ago – the ease of conversation, the lightness that now tends to get weighed down by life. Whether you do this activity for Valentine’s Day or not, I want to encourage you to reach back into those memories and feelings you have from the past as you spend time together.

And if you do decide to recreate your first date, don’t skimp on details! Try to replicate as many things as you can; the time of day, the items you ordered, the flowers you received. Have fun with it!

Have Dinner Around the World

One more lie, and that’s it – I promise! But I don’t consider this dinner because it’s much more of an experience! And the whole point is that you’re not really sitting down across from one another, trying to make this dinner different than every other night of the week. Nope; you’re on an amazing adventure!

Hit local restaurants, food trucks, and take-out windows for small bites until you’ve had at least a nibble from each country – or as many as you can manage! This is a fun way to learn new things about yourself, and each other! Who knew that you’d share a mutual love for Indian food? Or that he definitely can’t handle spicy food? It’s also a really fun way to explore your city together.

Do a Photo Challenge

For the past 13 years, I’ve grabbed a waiter at the end of our meal, or a hostess as we’re walking out the door of a restaurant, and asked them to snap a photo of us. Boom. Valentines Day: check. But instead, what if we make it a point to try to capture the experience of the day? Instead of a posed photo reminding of us how we ended the night, wouldn’t it be amazing to recount the day with a collection of photos that captured the entire experience?

I really love any/all photo challenges – if you type photo challenge into Pinterest, you’ll find hundreds of images with different challenges based on months, seasons, and specific timelines.

This is a great way to simply spend time together; walking around, running errands, or even simply staying in. Plus, it can be paired with any other date idea as a way to be sure you’re really seeing and experiencing the moments! It can be done with a professional camera, or an iPhone.

If you have no idea how to get started, I created a Valentine’s Day Photo Challenge graphic that you can grab below! These are very subjective without much direction. There’s no wrong answers – you simply take the idea and create based on what it means to you, or the 2 of you together. The only rule is that you complete it all in one day; Valentine’s Day… or the day you’re celebrating it.

What’s your favorite thing to do for Valentine’s Day? Have any unique date ideas? Be sure to share them below!

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7 Healthier Super Bowl Recipes

No one has ever confused me with a person who enjoys sports, but I do enjoy parties, food, and TV commercials that make you go “awe!” So, I usually participate in some type of Super Bowl viewing activity. However, I noticed that every time I attended a get-together, all of the food options were seriously unhealthy. And I was no better – all of the dishes that I typically contributed were part of the problem.

No shame, I get it. This is America, and the most American thing to do for one of the most American events of the year is to eat all the delicious, greasy foods we can get our hands on.

But, for arguments sake, let’s say you wanted to bring something a little healthier to a gathering this weekend, or maybe you’re having your own little event and want to sprinkle in a few dishes that won’t leave you and your friends doubling over by the end of the night.

If that’s the case, then don’t worry! I’ve got you! These 7 recipes are healthy(ish) alternatives to some game day favorites. But don’t worry, they’re not so healthy that your guests will be low-key ordering Uber Eats from your bathroom. We’re just making a few swaps to clean it up a bit, without compromising on taste. Okay, play ball! Told you; not a sports person. Unless the Puppy Bowl counts.

Turkey Chili

Chili is always a crowd favorite, and the fact that you can pop it in the crockpot and go about your day doesn’t hurt, either. It’s really easy to swap out a few ingredients to clean this up! Get the recipe.

Mozzarella Sticks

These are made in the air fryer, which means no oil! Get the recipe.

Pigs in a Blanket

These aren’t my best work, presentation style, but they are a creative way to serve a classic favorite without the processed ingredients that come with using crescent rolls. Plus, if you’re making this for a big group, you’ll save tons of money by making the dough at home with just 4 ingredients. Get the recipe.

Mini Pizzas

Guess what? These mini pizzas are made from the same dough that was used for the pigs in a blanket. So, if you’re making multiple items, those 2 go together really well! Get the recipe.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Another air fryer recipe for the win! And with just 2 necessary ingredients, this is sure to be easy, healthy, and affordable! Get the recipe.

Quesadillas

Quesadilla Superbowl Recipe

I love these quesadillas for a party because they’re totally customizable and you can make a few different types to suit everybody. Get the recipe.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Footballs

These are so festive, and super easy! They do require some time to set after making them, but it’s well worth it, because everyone loves the person who brings dessert to a party! Get the recipe.


Hopefully these ideas will help to make your Super Bowl weekend a bit easier, and healthier! Do you have any healthy(ish) game day recipes you love? If so, I need to hear them! I’m always looking for ways to expand my clean eating recipe book!