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Category Archives: Travel

The Swag, North Carolina, Boutique Inn

When my mom and I arrived at The Swag in North Carolina, a 14-room rustic inn, we were immediately greeted by the friendly staff. If we arrived earlier a staff member would have given us a tour of the grounds, but we got there just in time to drop our luggage and sit down for dinner at 7pm. Every night at the same time a 3-course gourmet dinner is served. All of the guests sit at their assigned seats, which the owner and innkeeper, Deener, sets. Deener and her husband Dan are the loveliest people. It was an honor to sit at their table every night. They have the most interesting stories and I got some great insight from Dan. At the communal table we also met other people who were traveling. I love staying at small inns and B&B’s for this reason. You never know who you will meet.

We woke up just in time for breakfast the next morning. An elaborate spread was waiting for us in the dining room when we went downstairs. A hearty oatmeal set us up for a day of hiking and exploring the grounds. We grabbed our lunch, which was packed for us in a hiking backpack, filled up reusable bottles with their fresh well water, and set out for the the 2.5 mile hike that circles the property.

The Swag Inn, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains

We got about 1/4 of the way on the hike and spotted a bear. If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw my post about it. We finished the hike with a little more speed to our stride. We stopped off at Dan’s Hideaway to have lunch while we listened to the nearby rolling stream. Around The Swag there are several different hideaways, each with a place to sit and relax, and most with a hammock for lounging.

The Swag, The Great Smoky MountainsThe Swag, North Carolina, Waynesville

It rained the next day, so we decided to stay inside and relax. After another great breakfast {the cinnamon rolls are award worthy}, we did a quick workout in the small weight room. We then spent the remainder of the day reading in the rocking chairs by the fire in the living room. It’s funny how I can sit and read for hours on vacation, but it’s a struggle to do that at home. That alone felt like a vacation.

The Swag, Rustic Inn, Cabin

We enjoyed breakfast with Deener and Dan before checking out of The Swag on the final day. The staff sent us on the road with a sack lunch and fond memories of our time spent there. Before we left I took one final look out at The Great Smoky Mountains from the back patio. I took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and knew that I would be back there again some day.

Great Smoky Mountains, The Swag

Note: My walking stick arrived yesterday. Everyone gets a beautiful walking stick to use and as a souvenir. Now I need to figure out how to display it.

Summer Camp Ojai Boutique store


Ojai Valley Inn & Spa – If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, this is the place to go for a weekend retreat. This world class inn and spa offers more than just a fluffy bed and fine dining. For the mind and body there’s guided meditation, yoga, evening walks, spinning and exercise classes. At the luxury award-winning spa you can get unique facials and massages, and you can also experience sound energy therapy, get an organic sea mineral body wrap, and reflexology. Just thinking about it makes me want to book a weekend to decompress.

Ojai Rancho Inn – This rustic chic inn maintains its 1950s motel-style, with an added hip vibe. There are all the essentials you need in your room, like free wi-fi, a flat-screen TV, and a mini fridge. You can also book a room with a kitchenette, fireplace or jacuzzi. All guests have access to the pool, sauna and loaner bikes. Chief’s Peak, the trendy beer and wine bar located on the grounds, is open to motel guests and the public.


Rose Valley Falls – There are tons of great hikes in Ojai. Rose Valley Falls starts in the Rose Valley Campground, in the Los Padres National Forest. It’s not a strenuous hike, which makes it great for people of all ages who want to get out and enjoy nature. The hike ends at a tall gorgeous flowing waterfall. All of the rain this winter really paid off. If you’re looking to get off the grid this is the place, as there’s no cell service back there.

Ojai Rose Valley Falls Hike


Summer Camp – This is my kind of shop. The owners transformed an old gas station into a custom framing, vintage and lifestyle boutique. How cool is that?! I love the bohemian vibes {of course}, with the trendy outdoor twist. There are vintage rugs, pottery, plants, and a curated rack of clothing. After picking up some home goods you can enjoy time in the shade on the shop’s picnic table on the patio.

Summer Camp Ojai Boutique

Fig Curated Living – A similar vibe to Summer Camp, but this shop is located in downtown Ojai. The shop focuses on local, handmade, and fair trade goods. There’s tons of fun outdoor decor at Fig, so the outside of your boho home can match the inside. At the back of the store there’s cute kids goods and homemade jewelry. They also use a wood ladder as a display, which makes me want to get one for my place.

Fig Curated Living Ojai Shop, Boutique Store Ojai

DeKor & Co – There are three different zones in this beautiful lifestyle shop. In the corner near the entrance there’s an Art of Tea bar that serves small bites and Moon Juice. On the right there’s a section of locally-made clothing and accessories, along with makeup and skincare by Stockholm Face. At the beauty bar you can test and try before buying. The majority of the store is dedicated to vintage and custom made mid-century modern furniture {my favorite}, home decor, and kitchenware. Walking into the shop gave me so much inspiration.

DeKor & Co Ojai

Bart’s Books – This funky outdoor bookstore has been open since 1964 and people all over the globe come to check out this unique reading mecca. There are books in every category, new, used, and rare. Buy an old fashion lollipop stick, plop a seat in the open air among the binds of books and spend a few minutes reading. I still wonder what they do when it rains.


Note: I’m looking forward to another weekend away in Ojai this summer.

Switzerland, Zurich, Rhine River

Now that I’m on summer vacation {officially}, I’ve been daydreaming about where I want to go. A few different destination have come up, and I keep going back to Switzerland. After meeting with the Switzerland Tourism Board last month I have been dying to go. At the event I was able to learn about the many different regions of the country, and what to see and do while there. Here’s what my ideal itinerary would look like.


The largest city in Switzerland has so much to offer, like every major city, but the thing that I would love to do the most is swim in the Limmat River. Urban swimming?! That sounds like the coolest thing ever. When I was talking to the locals at the Swiss Tourism event, they told me that they jump in the river on their lunch breaks for some R&R. A perfect day in Zurich would be strolling Old Town, followed by an afternoon swim, then dinner and drinks.

Switzerland, Zurich, Travel


Known as the art capital, and now a stop for river cruises on the Rhine, Basel is a must for history and modern art. There are 40 museums in Basel, so I would pick and choose which I would want to see. On a trip to Basel I would mix the museums in with time spent in the Old Town. I’m a sucker for beautiful bridges, spires and cobblestone. Art Basel is next month, so if I could, I would book now to check out the most important world fair for international art.

Switzerland, Basel, Art Basel, TravelSwitzerland, Basel, Art Basel

Lake Geneva and the Lakes Region 

There’s nothing like spending the summer by the lake. Lake Geneva and the Lakes Region of Switzerland allow you to travel to different countries on the waterways. Lake Geneva is shared between Switzerland and France, while Lake Lugano is shared with Switzerland and Italy. I could check off so many countries from the list in just one visit. The Mouettes are small yellow taxi boats that allow you to move from one side of the lake to the other. The four lines run all year round and connect the two shores of Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Travel

Note: Images courtesy of Switzerland Tourism.

Ballard Farmers Market

Ballard is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the Seattle area. The best day to go is on Sunday, when the Farmer’s Market brings together local vendors. The Farmer’s Market has seasonal fresh fruits and veggies, but also amazing bakeries. As we perused the tents, we snacked on a bag of hot mini-doughnuts that were made right before our eyes. They were AMAZING! We also picked up a pie that we enjoyed later that night while watching movies on the couch. Not gonna lie, it’s what I had for dinner.

Ballard Seattle

After cruising the Farmer’s Market, we popped into a few shops that line the market on 22nd Avenue. My favorite is KETCH, a boutique men’s and women’s clothing shop. I always find something there that I end up wearing over and over again. After shopping we had brunch at Bastille Cafe, a trendy French style bistro. We sat on the patio and enjoyed brunch as the warm sun rays shined in through the greenhouse style panes.

Bastille_BallardNatalie Zimmerman Natalie Notions

Note: Ballard has a cute B&B, so if you’re looking to make a weekend out of it, book a room on the main strip.

Capital Hill Seattle

Spring break doesn’t always happen for adults, but now that I’m back in school I got a week off to do whatever I want. I had forgotten how amazing that feels. I booked a trip to visit my friends in Seattle. We spent the trip in my two favorite areas, one of which is Capital Hill. I’ll be sharing my other favorite later this week.

I made a very short list of things I wanted to do while in Seattle. On it was have a doughnut at General Porpoise. I read about it in Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the best doughnut shops, so I had to go. The stuffed doughnuts are everything they’re cracked up to be. Inside, the shop is bright and invites you to come in and get out of the rain. My mouth is watering just thinking about them again.

General Porpoise DoughnutsGeneral Porpoise

After fueling up on sugar and coffee, I did some shopping. Here are a few of my favorites that I stumbled upon.

Glasswing – Located at Melrose Market, it’s a clothing and home goods boutique where you can buy a crisp blouse and make a succulent terrarium all under the same roof. The store is curated to appropriately represent Seattle.

Seattle Capital Hill shopping

Totokaelo – This high end clothing store carries sleek fashion for men and women. It’s also curated with home goods and gifts that will impress your friends.

The Elliott Bay Book Company – This is the place to cruise the aisles, read, relax, and drink coffee in the cafe. I ducked in to get out of the rain and found a chair on the top floor where I could people watch.

Capital Hill bookstore

Note: Capital Hill also has lots of amazing restaurants.