HOLD PLEASE, YOU NEED A DESERT VACATION we are going to Arizona, like ASAP

ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelpOoh we’ve got the winter blues baaaad. Remember all those happy pictures of cacti, fresh citrus, and magic cloud-less skies we posted a few weeks ago? Yeah, me neither. Now that Chicago has turned all rainy, cold, and icky, we are trying to figure out how we can become snowbirds and ditch this winter weather.

Have you ever been to Arizona? It’s oddly not a place many people think to visit, unless you are an actual snowbird, and then it’s probably at the top of your list. The hubs and I live in Phoenix for a quick year while he was going to graduate school & I can honestly say it was one of the best years of my life.ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelpBetween the weather (sure the summers are hot, but there is nothing better than having 75 degree Januarys), the rad landscape (read: cacti & mountains everywhere you look), the amazing food, & array of adventure activities – it was an absolute blast. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of going back to the desert for a week with Visit Mesa & Visit Phoenix and it was nothing short of exactly what the doctor ordered.ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelp

For all you cold weather dwellers that go to Mexico, Florida, or Palm Springs to escape the weather, this is my note to you on why you should absolutely make Arizona your winter getaway.


Let me tell you, nothing shakes the dust off faster than waking up in the morning and going for a good hike. By the end, you have worked yourself out of that funk, kicked those winter blues, and accomplished something major all by 9am. It is the absolute best & both Mesa and Phoenix have amazing hikes.

Usery Mountain is gorgeous & so do-able if your hiking skills need a little work. The switchbacks aren’t steep & the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I mean, just look, there are giant saguaros everywhere.

For those more advanced, you can’t visit Phoenix and not take a trip to Camelback Mountain. This is an absolute must for a sunrise hike. Watching the sunrise over the city is such a cool experience. Again, a little more challenging, but who says you have to make it to the very top? There are plenty of places to take in the scenery and watch the city wake up.

ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelp


You think New York, LA, and Chicago have great food? Just wait until you’ve tried some of the local spots in Arizona. If farm to table is up your alley, Mesa has this great Fresh Foodie Trail that you can follow all along the Valley. From a local olive mill to urban gardens and back, the FFT allows you to eat your way across the desert while learning about why sustainable food is important and actually kind of cool.

Now if you consider yourself a bit of a foodie, downtown Phoenix is the stop for you. Sam Fox, owner of Fox Restaurant Concepts, is the king of the food scene in Arizona. From the most delicious local lunch spot, Flower Child (go, it’s amazing, you won’t want to eat anywhere else) to the swank, highly Instagram-able neighborhood spot, The Henry, you literally can’t go wrong. I recommend going on a self-guided tour of his spots – I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelp


Okay, now it really starts to get good. You’ve got great hikes, amazing food, now you just need stuff to fill in the gaps. Get ready for some of the most fun you’ve had in a long time.

Last week I did yoga with goats (read about my hysterical experience here), flew on a trapeze, and watched the sunrise in a hot air balloon. I did all of those things in the span of 24-hours. I mean, that’s insane!

If you are looking for something to get you out of your comfort zone, I could not recommend a flying trapeze class more. It is such a wild ride. Here is the thing; I am not a big heights person. My toes tend to go numb and I start swearing a lot and my palms get all hot & bothered, it’s really cute. But once you grab ahold of the trapeze bar and swing in the air for the first time, you are hooked. You are more than safe, hooked in at all times, and you’ve got like three nets under you at all time – so you can relax about that. You fall, you flip, you even do some fancy Cirque thing where someone catches you – it’s an absolute blast. We flew with iFly Trapeze at The Phoenician and it’s so easy to sign up. Just visit their website, show up, and have Marco & Robin teach you how to become trapeze masters. I am serious, go – you won’t regret it.

Have you ever taken a hot air balloon ride? If not, it really is a bucket list item. Again, not crazy about heights, but after riding with Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, I can honestly say there is nothing to worry about. The initial take off is super slow and smooth & you just kind of glide. There is nothing fast about the process and you don’t shake or swing, it’s just nice and steady. We flew over the Sonoran desert at 6,000-feet watching the sunrise along the Valley and it was truly breathtaking. After about an hour at varying different heights, you land in the middle of the desert to a champagne breakfast – very classy. Our guide, John, shared a brief history of hot air ballooning and we cheers-ed over a successful trip, a beautiful landscape, and amazing views. It was epic.


ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelp


Half of the fun of visiting the desert is getting to stay at one of the many amazing hotels. We stayed at The Phoenician in Scottsdale and it was an absolute dream. Their rooms are so well designed & lux (between the marbled wallpaper and gigantic tub, I wanted to move in) and the property is stunning. You are tucked at the base of Camelback Mountain so no matter where you look, mountains surround you – it’s very cool. Plus their spa is a dream. Rumor has it that the spa is getting a major upgrade next year, so that alone is an excuse to book a stay.

With seven pools, several tennis courts, a fabulous gold course, and incredible restaurants, there is literally something for everyone. It is so serene and quiet; you can’t help but just melt on to a lounge chair and relax the day away. Can you tell I already want to go back?!

ultimate winter getaway via lauren kelp

This experience was in collaboration with Visit Mesa & Visit Phoenix.
As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

IT’S LIKE YOUR NORMAL YOGA, BUT WITH GOATS the most hysterical workout of your life

goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpLast week I got to gallivant around Mesa & Phoenix, Arizona going on hot air balloon rides, learning how to fly on a trapeze, and lots of other fabulous adventures that I can’t wait to tell you about. But maybe the most hysterical and unique experience of the week was a morning goat yoga class…

All you American Ninja Warrior fans, remember April Gould the “Goat Whisperer” from 2015 & 2016? Well she has partnered with long-time friend, Sarah Williams (who, if you ever visit Arizona, has one of the best SUP companies around – Desert Paddleboards) to bring you one of two goat yoga experiences in the country.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelp

Truthfully, the experience is hysterical and unlike anything I have ever done. You drive out to April’s farm just outside Phoenix, let yourself into the gated field, and check your normal notions about yoga at the door.

It starts off normally enough, everyone doing some stretches and some basic poses to warm up, the only thing that might be different from your normal class at the gym, is that there are a bunch of goats running around in tiaras, feather boas, and crowns.
goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpSarah leads the group in beginner yoga poses while April walks around with the goats. She places dried fig leaves in front of your mat so the goats will come over, hang out, and munch a little. They share their story, talk about why goats are awesome, and just encourage you to relax and have a little fun.

Between you and me, I was totally confused. I live in the city, I don’t casually interact with goats on a regular basis, and I think the last time I pet an animal outside of a dog was at my grade school field trip to the petting zoo. I had no idea what to expect. Don’t they bite? I think I am afraid of them jumping on me? What if I can’t hang? I had a series of questions…goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpAbout 15 minutes in, Sarah leads us into a downward dog & that is when things start to get crazy. Starting at one end and working around the circle, April leads one of the smaller goats up on your back and the goat just kind of hangs out there. If you are close enough to your partner, the goat will hop from person to person quite happily.

It was a freaking riot! At the point, all intentions of practicing yoga go out the window, and all eyes are on the goat. Not to mention that there was a little kid (less than a week old) running around, so naturally all I cared about was snuggling the hell out of it.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpIf you are there with a group (which we had a birthday party & a bachelorette party in the group) April & Sarah will lead you in group poses and the goat joins right in. Hoping up on the top of the pyramid or right on top of you while doing a partner plank. Don’t worry, everyone is happy to take a picture and capture the hilarious scene.

When you visit Arizona (and you should absolutely visit) you’ve got to stop by Arizona Goat Yoga. The classes are basically free ($10) & you have to sign up in advance on their website, but I promise, it will be one of the most hysterical things you’ve done in a long time. Going with friends or a family vacation? This is an absolute must! Nothing says next years holiday card, like a human pyramid with a goat on top of dear old Dad.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelp

photos by Kristen Carter Photography
This experience was in collaboration with Visit Mesa & Visit Phoenix. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

FRENCH 75 my favorite go-to fancy cocktail

Hello, hello my favorite festive babes! How are you doing post-holiday? I for one have had a very, very slow start to 2017. Burn out is real and 2016 was full of it. I am taking my time & easing back into the swing of things, but in true LK form, we thought we would kick things off with a fun cocktail. Meet my favorite celebratory libation – the French 75!

french 75 | lauren kelp

The French 75 is particularly special to me, because we had them at our engagement party many moons ago. They always remind me of something special and fun. No matter where I am or what I am doing, if I have something to celebrate, a birthday, something big at work, I whip up a French 75 and cheers to the magic.

Do you have a drink like that? I am always so curious about how people celebrate. I would love to know!

french 75 | lauren kelp

Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons gin
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • ¼ cup chilled champagne
  1. With a pairing knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin spiral.
  2. In cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled glass & top with chamapgne
  3. Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist at least 6 inches long. Garnish drink with twist and serve immediately.

french 75 | lauren kelpI mean…just look at it, she is so pretty! How can you go wrong with chilled champagne and gin? It’s like magic in a glass! Cheers, my friendsfrench 75 | lauren kelp

RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE FLOATS the easiest & most festive way to ring in the new year!

Hello, hello, my festive party-throwers! How is your holiday season shaping up?! We’ve got a few days between Christmas and New Year’s to just catch our break, eat some more delicious food, and put in a few hours worth of work, before we are off to the next bash!

Is it just me, or has this holiday season been a bit of a whirlwind?! This year, the hubs and I are taking it nice and easy for NYE (plus, it’s our 4 year anniversary!), but I love a good celebratory cocktail, so we whipped this little guy up!
The perfect New Years cocktail | Raspberry Champagne Float Perfect for something low-key, a girl’s night in, or any other occasion in which you need a fabulously fun cocktail/dessert in 30 seconds. Sister, this is it. Two scoops of sorbet (we used raspberry, but you could easily use lemon or another fun flavor), a little champagne, and you’ve got yourself a party!
The perfect New Years cocktail | Raspberry Champagne Float

Recipe type: Cocktail/Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 2 scoops raspberry sorbet
  • Champagne
  • Raspberries for garnish (fresh is always better)
  1. Grab a few glasses, & scoop enough sorbet to fill glass halfway
  2. Pour champagne over the sorbet (slowly, it tends to bubble up)
  3. Garnish with raspberries & dive in!

The perfect New Years cocktail | Raspberry Champagne Float


‘Tis the season for hot chocolate & strong cocktails – am I right? Yesterday Chicago was colder than Mars. Let that sink in for a minute. CHICAGO WAS COLDER THAN MARS.

Naturally, the only way to cope with a frozen tundra is to have boozy treats waiting when you get home. I have re-discovered my love for hot chocolate (I know, I know, what is wrong with me? Why did I ever stop loving it?!) and adding a little kick of mezcal has made it all the more amazing.

mezcal hot chocolate recipe Now, now, for all those leery about mezcal – don’t be. It’s actually amazing & delicious and when slipped in some cozy hot chocolate, a little whipped cream, and a dash of chili or nutmeg – it’s a game changer. This mezcal hot chocolate concoction is like a 30-second version of the rich and delicious Mexican hot chocolate but…again, it takes 30-seconds, it’s awesome and warms the body right up.

I mean, how can you not give it a try?!
mezcal hot chocolate recipe

Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 oz Mezcal (we used El Silencio)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 8 oz milk
  • 3 oz baking chocolate
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • Cinnamon, chili, nutmeg, & other spices to taste
  1. Pour mezcal, vanilla, milk, baking chocolate, & sugar into a saucepan and heat on low/medium, stirring constantly, until chocolate & sugar are melted.
  2. Whisk the mixture to give it a nice froth (or just put it in your blender for a hot second)
  3. Pour into a mug, add some whipped cream & top off with some spices.
  4. Enjoy!

mezcal hot chocolate recipe


If the Pumpkin Spice Latte is the drink of fall, then this Gingerbread Latte is absolutely the winter version. Nice and cozy with all the spices and fragrances of the season and perfect to serve warm or over ice (and easy to adapt for a happy hour twist) – what could be better? If you are looking to spice up your morning coffee order, this is absolutely it!
Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelpAs much as I love spend $6 every time I walk into a coffee shop (said no one ever….), it’s nice to keep your wallet tucked away and play living room barista. This sassy little coffee order totally plays into my fantasy of being a rockstar barista. I get to play with spices, froth some milk (okay, it’s totally unnecessary for the recipe, but it’s fun, so I do it), and serve it up in a fun glass. Plus, you know how much I love when things can get a little boozy & this is an adorable drink to serve at your next home happy hour. Everyone will be like, oohmygosh, you are such a rockstar barista slash mixologist, what do I even bring to this friendship cause you are so cool and good at everything awesome.

I mean, what could be better?!

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp

Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Cup
  • 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee
  1. In a small pan, heat your almond milk over medium heat. Once warm (just under boiling), add spices, brewed coffee, and honey & mix well
  2. Serve in a fun mug & top off with a little ground cinnamon, or for a happy hour twist, add a shot of your favorite libation!

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp Well, snow bunnies, what do you think? Ready to cozy up by the fire with one of these delicious Gingerbread Lattes? I mean, let’s be real, what’s not to like! Can’t wait to hear what you think! xo, LK

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.