10 Tips to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

Working out is hard enough without having to worry about motivation. It’s way easier to sit on your couch and eat ice cream all summer, but if you want to be stay healthy and get that bod, as Britney says, you better work b*tch. Here are some tips that my friends, family and I use to stay motivated to work out eeeeven when the couch looks so much more appealing.

Motivate Yourself

  1. Sign up for group fitness classes

    Group fitness classes are the #1 way I stay motivated. I’m in a phase right now where I just want to be told exactly what to do and how long to do it for. The perk of group classes is that the workout changes frequently, and you benefit from a personal trainer without having to pay the one-on-one fee. I take circuit training classes and well as kettlebell weight training classes at my gym 4-5 times a week, and I’ve seen incredible results.

  2. Use a heart-rate monitor

    My circuit training class utilizes a heart-rate monitor program so that we can all see what our current BPM is, our current calorie burn count, and check if we are in the “easy, moderate, hard” or “extreme” level of heart rate. My favorite type of heart rate monitor is one that straps around your chest, right under my sports bra elastic, but there are plenty of wrist monitors that are just as accurate.

  3. Buy some new gear

    Everyone knows that buying a new pair of training shoes, yoga pants, or sassy workout tank can be enough motivation to put on and head to the gym. I buy most of my workout gear from Old Navy; it’s durable, comfortable, and very inexpensive compared to other brands. Although, I have friends that swear they will never put anything on their body except LuLulemon. Whatever your preference or price point, grab some new swag and hit the gym!

  4. Get a dog

    Or in my case, borrow a dog! Every time I visit home, I run outside with my parents’ two dogs and go from 0-100 pretty quickly. I breathe hard, I have fun, and help the dogs get some well-deserved playtime too. Instead of just walking a dog, be more creative to add to your workout: play hide and go seek by climbing a tree, play chase around an object for constant stop-and-go motion, or wear ankle weights while you run with your dog.

  5. Surround yourself with inspiration

    My sister’s favorite motivational tip is to find a picture of what you want your body to look like and keep it as your phone background. She is forced to look at the picture each time she flips through her phone, and that helps her stray away from desserts and bring her focus back to her ultimate goal. Write post-its about how amazing you are and inspirational quotes from the internet. Tell your friends and fmaily your health goals so they can support you and make restaurant and weekend choices that will help you fulfill your accomplishments.

  6. Take and post a selfie

    I don’t care what the haters say, I’m a HUGE fan of inspirational body Instagram and Facebook selfie posts. I love seeing people start their caption with “I don’t usually do this…” or “I’m not one to post body selfies” because it takes such courage and excitement for someone to take a before/after or progress picture and post it for the whole internet world to see. It can boost your confidence a TON by posting a progress pic and having your friends and family (or heck, strangers) comment how good you look and to keep at it. If you’re not into posting selfies, at least take a few angles in front of your mirror so you’ll have something to compare your progress to as you make gains.

  7. Pay for a really expensive gym membership

    One of my biggest motivations, regardless how shallow, is the fact that I pay $100 a month to be a part of a gym that offers me unlimited HIIT workouts. I am very aware of where my money goes each day, and to think that each time I skip the gym, I’m basically paying a few dollars out of my pocket helps me get my butt there.

  8. Make friends with the regulars in your class

    You’ll find out pretty quickly who is motivated to regularly attend workout classes, and it’s pretty fun to introduce yourself and get to know them on that level. I also like to make friends with the trainers, who may feel more comfortable pushing you if they know you on a personal level and what your goals are.

  9. Follow The Jillian Michaels’ theory: “get in, hit it hard, and get out.”

    A great motivator to workout is knowing that you’re only going to be doing it for 20 minutes. Do a Jillian Michaels’ 20-minute power workout and move on with your life!

  10. Don’t be so hard on yourself

    Listen, if you don’t want to workout and you can’t find any way to motivate yourself, take the flippin day off! It’s ok to skip a day, it’s ok to skip a few days. You know what is best for yourself, and if none of these tips work, then take it easy on yourself, and work to get back into a rhythm tomorrow. We as people, especially women, tend to be our own worst critics. I guarantee you look better than you think, and are healthier and stronger than you give yourself credit for. Take your workouts one day at a time and stay positive! You got this!

Motivate Yourself

How do you stay motivated to work out?? Share your tips below!

I Love You, Cleveland

Cleveland

It’s the #SUMMEROFCLEVELAND, my little Pepperminters! The Cleveland Cavaliers have won a championship, the Indians are consistently proving they’ve got the right stuff this season, Stipe won the UFC Heavyweight Title, the Lake Erie Monsters brought home the Calder Cup, my family’s ice cream store Honey Hut is doing better than ever, AND the city was even featured as one of the main plot lines in the summer hit Finding Dory! I was in town for Game 7 and for the championship parade, and I gotta say, I’ve never felt that kind of positive energy and pure joy from so many people at once. The enthusiasm was contagious! Although I’ve moved away, my Cleveland roots mean so much to me and here’s why.

The city always welcomes me back

I was born and raised in Cleveland, yet decided to journey away from my hometown to explore other options, similar to many others my age. I attended school at Loyola University Chicago, then moved to Houston, Texas and Wilmington, Delaware to teach high-risk populations. Now I’m back in Chicago, which almost feels like a mini Cleveland at times because there are so many native Ohioans in this part of the Midwest. I fondly remember the $39-one way tickets from Chicago to Cleveland that I used to book on a whim in college when I missed my family and hometown. For under $100, I would be home in an hour, and feel a hero’s welcome from family and friends. Whenever I visit for holidays, my friends text or call and try to (many times, unsuccessfully) calculate a time in our busy schedules for us to meet up and have a drink and a few laughs. My parents joke I’m the “protocol daughter” who returns to Cleveland after a few months of big city life, and the welcome home joy I feel each time I make the trip will never be outdone.

ClevelandThe fandom

Cleveland fans are revered as the best fans in the world, and I’m here to tell you there’s more truth in that than you’ll ever know! When I go to watch a game at a Browns Backers bar, the fans completely take over and it’s easy to forget I’m in a different city. Believeland, a 30 for 30 documentary released by ESPN this summer, helps explain why the fandom in Cleveland is so intense and pure, and until you’re in another city and see how non-natives talk smack on Cleveland, you probably don’t know how fiercely you’d defend it and how big of a fan you’d become.

542168320_1466700503126_3347170_ver1.0The eats

As much as I love Chicago dining, the Cleveland dining scene have taken a GIANT leap forward in the past few years and I couldn’t be more excited. Every time I visit home, there’s a new restaurant to try out. My recent favorite that my sister took me to was Urban Farmer, which has fantastic brunch and dinner options. Little Italy is a magnificent little treasure of restaurants and eateries, and of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great beer options throughout the city.

Ten Best Restaurants in Cleveland

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Mellow Mushroom Pizza MMMMM

Check out my friend Kelly’s blog CLE Unleashed for updates on new and exciting places to eat & drink!

ClevelandHope for the Future

One of the things I’m most proud of is Cleveland’s ability to tune out the negativity and keep looking forward towards a better future. No one believed we could win a championship, no one believed Cleveland would be anything more than the “mistake on the lake”, but here we are, proving ourself as a capable city and just as much potential as our big brother cities. However, Cleveland has been in the news a lot for other things that do not fill me with pride. Our city needs to come together now more than ever to work our city’s problems and prove the “we are one” chant we all yelled on the night of the Cavs victory is real! Kinda like a favorite child, I want Cleveland to get better since I know there’s so much good it has to offer.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever move back to Cleveland, but I do know that as much as we complain about the weather, and the potholes, and our beloved Browns, we are all in this together and our story of a NEW Cleveland has only just begun.

How to Have a Successful Weekend in Universal Studios Orlando

I am a Disney girl through and through, but when it came to a 30th birthday trip with my sister, we decided that we should try something different. Thanks to Harry Potter, Universal Studios Orlando is now a heavyweight competitor with Disney, and as self-proclaimed Pottheads, Universal has been calling our name for years. So, we booked a quick weekend getaway, and started planning! I learned so much being a first-timer in Universal, and now it’s time to pass my knowledge onto you! Here’s how to have a successful weekend in Universal Orlando:Universal StudiosStay at a resort on property

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Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando

Similar to Disney, Universal Studios has major perks for guests that stay at their on-property resorts. There are a few options, but we ended up choosing Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, which is the highest tier of the resort choices (and the most expensive, unfortunately). It has a very upscale feel and is meant to mirror the Italian town of Portofino, nestled right on the water. The price held it’s value; the room was spacious, the pool was absolutely glorious, and we were able to enter the park an hour before regular ticket holders.

Make an Itinerary… even if you don’t stick to it

I spent hours creating a beautiful, perfect itinerary for our brief 72-hours in Orlando, and although we deviated from the plan about 8 minutes into our first day, I’m still really glad I made it. A structured itinerary encouraged me to research rides, restaurants, and wait times, and I felt confident going to the parks after I had a plan in mind. I linked my personal itinerary below, take a look, it worked really well!

Link for 2-day Universal Studios Orlando Itinerary

Hogwarts Express

Buy the Park-to-Park ticket (and buy it online ahead of time)

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Hogwarts Castle!

The best value for tickets is the park-to-park ticket online (you save $20 versus buying it at the gate), and trust me, you’ll want the park hopper option. With the park hopper, you have access to ride the Hogwarts Express between both parks, and the experience is definitely worth the money. Be sure to print out the tickets ahead of time so as soon as you get the gate, you’re ready to go.

The food, overall, isn’t that great, so plan ahead

Yes, I consider this a tip because I wish I would have been prepared. The food is just… ok, in my opinion, especially compared to Disney. One perk is that the value is definitely there. A hot dog is the price a hot dog should be, a bottled water is $2.99 (a little expensive but still not sporting event expensive), and snacks will only run you a few dollars. However, there just aren’t a ton of options available for dining, so I recommend doing some research ahead of time and looking at specific menu items to see what you may be interested in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Considering I purchased 6 Butter Beer drinks/ice cream cones, I personally recommend those signature snacks!

SISTER TIP: Our favorite dining spot was actually at the Simpsons Fast Food Blvd. It offered a variety of food options, cold Duff beer, and the most amazing face-sized donut I’ve ever tasted for only $5.99! That’s $1.20 each for dessert for a family of five. Great deal. Check out the video below (side note – how amazing is her ring?!)

Play along with the characters

In Harry Potter world, many cast members are just as big of fans as we are, and they’ll love to play along with you. We heard many statements (“I’m late for potions, move out of my way!”) and taking a few minutes out of your time to talk with them will make your day. Stan from The Knight Bus offers a great photo op, and the dinosaur handler in Jurassic Park took her role very seriously. [See video below].Triwizard

Head to Harry Potter World first thing in the morning

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Diagon Alley… complete with dragon

My last tip is to head to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ASAP, like literally, first thing in the morning. There are two different ‘worlds’ – Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure). Both were amazing, but you’ll find you probably prefer one over the other. We absolutely loved the attention to detail in Diagon Alley; it was as if we stepped into the books themselves, so we started our morning there both days. I recommend grabbing a spot in line of your favorite ride first thing, as well, as the lines get longer as the day progresses. Remember, if you stay on site, you get to enter the park an hour before other ticket holders!Universal

Keep your eyes out for a Harry Potter World tips post in the next week! Until then, comment some tips you have below! 🙂

Chicago Heart Wall

Heart WallHeart Wall

One of my favorite things to do around the city of Chicago is to find pretty murals and unique backdrops for photographs. The city is so vibrant and full of art, and every corner has surprising amounts of character and love.

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This pink heart garage is hidden away on 1820 W Webster, and it’s the perfect spot for engagement pictures, or just to peek at during a Sunday stroll through the city. Ironically, as my friend and I were taking these shots, an adorable couple with their baby were walking by, and I asked if they wanted me to take a family picture (she shared that it was actually their first photo together as a family!) and it could not be cuter.Heart WallH&M Off the Shoulder Dress $14.99 (check for restocks)IMG_0040

Calming Lavendar Lemonade

It is the summer of LEMONADE!!!

Beyonce

Wait… Bey, why do you have a baseball bat?

Beyonce

Oh boy.

Beyonce

Woosa, B!

Hopefully, like me, you’ve been watching Beyonce’s visual album “Lemonade” on repeat the past two weeks. I’m inspired, stunned, excited, and truthfully, I found myself craving some actual lemonade! So I used my handy dandy Thug Kitchen cookbook to whip up a batch of 5-ingredient lavender lemonade to celebrate the coming of summer… AND to calm myself after listening to this unbelievably heated album (see above… ^ Jay has done her very very wrong, ladies).

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Lavender has incredible healing properties. The simple aroma of lavender can help treat insomnia, anxiety, depression, and restlessness, and lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it great to soothe skin problems. My house if full of lavender candles and lavender essential oils, I figured it’s about time to add some dried lavender to my kitchen ingredients.

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Lemon butts

I bought organic lavender dried leaves from Feel Good Organics – which is among my favorite trustworthy companies for organic products. You can sprinkle some in a cup of tea, let it steep for 20 minutes, then strain for a fantastic homemade remedy for headaches, gather dried leaves in a mesh bag for a cute gift of homemade potpourri or simply boil some dried leaves in water for an aromatic effect all through the house.

IMG_0027I tweaked the recipe a bit, and it turned out absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS. So whether you’ve had a rough day at the office, you’re having a spring get-together, or your man cheats on you with Becky, lavender lemonade is definitely soothing and calming drink this season!

IMG_0015SISTER TIP: Mix in a little Grey Goose, it made a tasty and refreshing Friday night cocktail. 🙂Lavender Lemaonde

Calming Lavendar Lemonade

Calming Lavendar Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar (or 1 cup raw honey)
  • 6 lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender

Instructions

  1. Boil the water in a medium pot. Add the sugar or honey and simmer on low for 4-5 minutes until sugar is dissolved, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and lavender. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain lavender pieces and pour into a large container over ice. Serve with a lemon wedge and lavender for garnish!
  2. *Add 2 drops of purple food coloring if desired
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.pepperminting.com/2016/05/08/calming-lavendar-lemonade/

Spring into Spring Fashion

It’s officially spring, ladies and gentlemen! Mostly ladies, I guess, but if you enjoy looking at my fave spring looks the past week, then anyone is welcome! The weather is pretty junky today, but I’m looking forward to 60s and 70s during the upcoming weeks!

How will you welcome spring??

Blue two piece

Lulu’s Chic Magnet Light Blue Two Piece $54

IMG_0098Windsor Faux Trench Coat $44.90

Converse and dress

Converse Chuck Taylor Low $49.50

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BP Crop Tank 2 for $20

#NOFOMO Target Summer Style Challenge

This post is sponsored by Target, inspired by women everywhere this summer. I’m a part of Target’s #NOFOMO campaign, which basically shares the belief that all of us should excuse confidence and excitement in our bathing suits this summer. No matter your shape or size, rock that bikini or one piece with a smile, and spread your positivity with the hashtag “no fomo” (fear of missing out). The most stylish accessory this season is confidence, and I’m here to share my story!

Bathing Suit 2I have big insecurities about my skin, but turning 30 last month has made me look at things differently. I have lots of freckles on my chest and arms that bother me, but I’m not letting them slow me down this summer! I grab some sunscreen and an empowering book and hit the pool, a few little dark spots aren’t gonna slow me down. 🙂

NOFOMOWay to go Target, I love when companies promote diversity and confidence! Grab a suit and snap a shot using #NOFOMO and #TargetStyle to share your story!

Buy my Marimekko for Target swimsuit here! $34.99

What to Do With Old Clothes

What to Do With Old ClothesHappy Earth Day, my fellow conservationists! The idea of saving the planet can be really overwhelming, but I’m one to assume the belief that EVERY little bit helps, no matter how small. The statistics are mind numbing – according to the Council for Textile Recycling, in the U.S. alone, we generate 25 billion pounds of clothes, shoes and bedding each year. Billion – with a B! And the worst part is, we only recycle around 15% of that, which means a whopping 85% ends up in landfills.

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If you’re looking to do a little spring cleaning and try to help the planet out a bit, here are a few of my favorite ideas for your old, unwanted clothes!

1) Take them to H&M

One of my favorite things to do with unwanted clothes is take them to H&M and turn them over to their recycling program. Added bonus – this week, to celebrate World Recycle Week, you earn a 30% coupon for any item in their store! That’s an incredible discount to grab a new bathing suit, pair of jeans, or purse for the new season.

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2) Sell them online

Most people know about clothing stores that allow you to sell and buy gently-worn clothes, but it’s the 21st century! Poshmark is definitely the way to go, and I have friends that make hundreds from this clothing-sale app each month. Think of Poshmark as Instagram combined with eBay. You can post and view people’s closets, comment and like their clothes, and eventually sell/buy items you like.

3) Repurpose them

I’m not the most creative DIY-er, but there are plenty of blogs and Pinterest how-tos out there that help you repurpose clothing you no longer want. Buzzfeed posted 39 ways to reuse, restyle and repurpose your old t-shirts (we all have dozens of those), check it out here! Also yours truly posted a Pepperminting DIY workout tank that turned out darn cute!

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4) Donate shoes to Soles4Souls

A really great charity opportunity is Soles4Souls, and they collect and distribute donated shoes all around the world. There are various drop off locations you can search on the website, or better yet, host a shoe drive in your community and gather even more pairs to donate.

5) Drop off towels and blankets to your local animal shelter

You know this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention to help animals! If you decide to buy a new set of towels or sheets, don’t just throw the old ones away. Local animal shelters are constantly looking for new, soft bedding for cages that help soothe and calm new additions to the shelter. (While you’re at it, I was told they are always in need of detergent for massage loads of laundry, as well!)

SISTER TIP: Speaking of our furry four-legged friends, if you’re looking to buy a new pet bed, consider West Paw Design, which creates beds using recycled plastic goods!

What ideas do you have to repurpose or recycle your old clothing??

Creamy Ricotta and Spinach Fettuccine

Creamy Ricotta and Spinach FettuccineYou know I’m always down for easy, meatless dinner options, and this recipe is definitely one of them! Ricotta is one of my favorite cheese to cook with. It’s creamy, sweet, and fresh, and perfect for a spring pasta dish – I’ve adapted it from my favorite Budget Bytes blog. The mild ricotta creaminess mixed with al dente fettuccine and mineral-packed spinach, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, easy dinner for tonight! **Bonus points if you use this recipe and make your OWN ricottaIMG_3418

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Creamy Ricotta and Spinach Fettuccine

Creamy Ricotta and Spinach Fettuccine

Ingredients

  • 12 oz uncooked fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 6 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
  • Salt and pepper for taste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in salted water following directions on box. Boil until al dente. Save 1/2 cup water before draining pasta.
  2. Prepare the ricotta sauce in a large skillet. Cook minced garlic in olive oil 1-2 minutes. Add ricotta, milk. Allow sauce to come to a low simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Squeeze excess water out of thawed spinach and stir into sauce. Add in pasta water as desired to thin. Toss in pasta and serve warm!
  4. *Optional: add sliced strips of grilled chicken or shrimp
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.pepperminting.com/2016/04/19/creamy-ricotta-and-spinach-fettuccine/

7 Reasons to Visit Sayulita, Nayurit: El Pueblo Mágico

Spring break was a whirl and too short, as always. I’m here to share my Mexican adventure with you, and try to persuade you that you MUST visit the charming fishermen town of Sayulita.  Sayulita is Mexico’s best kept secret, but word is getting out, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to travel there. Here are seven reasons why you must make this your next exotic vacation destination!

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1) Location, location, location

The town is about an hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta, and fairly easy to get to by taxi or bus from Puerto Vallarta airport. There’s a bunch of direct flights available from the midwest, and if you’re not visiting around a holiday, the prices are very reasonable. The town itself has a perfectly quaint central plaza with restaurants and bars, and the beach surrounding it is clean, beautiful, and convenient.

You can also take day trips like I did to other parts of the city. San Pancho was a quaint little fishing village about 15 minutes away, the Marietas Islands offer unbelievable hidden caves you can swim in, and Punta Mita is another beautiful beach that’s driving distance for a great day trip.

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2) Wake up with a view

The views are what drew me to Sayulita in the first place. Picturesque is an understatement. You will legit feel like you woke up in Jurassic Park (but the good kind of Jurassic Park where there’s no dinosaurs, just lush forest and sunshine and mimosas). There are vacation rentals available, adorable hotels, and B&Bs.  Check out Casa Los Arcos (below) – I highly recommend it!

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3) Incredible local food

The food was absolutely incredible throughout the week’s visit. Obviously, traditional Mexican dishes are everywhere – tamales, tacos, burritos, chilaquiles etc. But the most interesting part to me was that traditional Italian restaurants were also available (one was actually owned by a brother and sister who straight moved from Italy to Sayulita to open a restaurant!) and the prices were extremely reasonable, especially when you use Pesos. There are tons of eateries in the town, here’s a list of my favorites:

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4) You don’t need a car to get around

Everything is walking distance in Sayulita, which is super convenient for visitors. From the rental, I could walk to the beach, restaurants, bars and stores. Something that’s really cool about this town is that there’s also tons of golf carts for rental, and yes, people just drive ’em around town like a car!IMG_0112IMG_0408

5) The view again… this time from the top of a mountain

If you like to explore on your vacations, Sayulita has plenty of those opportunities for you. There’s jungle tours, surf board lessons, zip lining, and even the hike up an 11,600-foot Monkey Mountain. Our group left early in the morning and climbed the excruciatingly steep hike all the way to the top, the views were miraculous.

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If you’re interested in hikes or other Sayulita tours, I highly recommend you use Mexitreks! Our guide was amazing and incredibly knowledgeable about the area. Worth every penny!

6) WHALES

Sayulita is right in the middle of humpback whale migratory patterns during the winter and early spring months. Many of the humpback mama and babies are hangin out in the warm, calm, shark-free waters of Sayulita, Nayurit bays, so it’s the ideal time and place to view whales in their natural environment. La Orca Whale Watching is led by a scientist named Nico that is so unbelievably passionate about whales and dolphins in the area, and will not only take you out on the boat to see whales, but will also educate you wholeheartedly about the nature of these amazing animals!

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7) Colors and culture

Living in Chicago, you can imagine that I don’t see as many colors on a daily basis as I would like. Sayulita is like a different, far more colorful and imaginative world and it was an amazing sight to witness. There’s street art all through the town, colorfully painted walls, and pastel flags that are hung between palm trees in the plaza. The people that live there are generous, helpful, and eager to share their culture and heritage with visitors. Sayulita, Nayurit is a MUST visit if you’re kinda over the tourist-traps of Cancun and Riviera Maya.

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