Sunday, January 31, 2016

LA Hikes: Charlie Turner Trail

Looking for a highly acclaimed, scenic, easy, classic Los Angeles hike? Give the Charlie Turner trail, also known as the Mount Hollywood trail, a go. This 3 mile roundtrip hike gives you 360 degree views that include the Hollywood sign, panoramic views of the city of Los Angeles from the beach past downtown, the San Gabriel mountains and of course the sprawling Santa Monica mountain range that you will be climbing. The 650 foot elevation gain takes you high enough to take in breathtaking views without the effort of a strenuous hike.




The hike starts out on a fairly even path and within 5 minutes you're able to take in beautiful views of Los Angeles. This is a popular trail so be prepared to hike with a lot of people.



The Hollywood sign! I'm not sure if this trail will take you all the way to the Hollywood sign, and either were the 5 other people that asked us that question along our way. Take note that the trailheads and trails themselves are not well marked in this area. There were a couple of instances where we didn't know which path to continue on. A lot of people were asking for directions and we saw some people back-tracking after making a wrong turn. Just keep an eye on the path you take so you can take the same one back.



The Griffith Observatory with downtown Los Angeles in the background. Simply stunning.



The San Gabriel Mountains in the distance



About halfway up there is a nice little lookout and resting spot. It's a great spot to take a picture with the Hollywood sign in the background.




Looks like a scene out of a fairy tale, no?



The last little bit of the hike is a steeper climb to the top, where you are rewarded with...

 

...a ridiculous view of Los Angeles. So pretty! It was a little overcast on this day, but that didn't take away from the view and the fresh air at the top. There were about 10 friendly butterflies at the top that would let you get fairly close to them.




I recommend descending back down along the actual trail. There is a shortcut that we saw some people taking both up and down the mountain. You can catch it at the very beginning of the trail right after you cross the bridge. We tried to take this "shortcut" on the way down and I ended up sliding halfway down in a crouched position, grabbing onto what ever I could get my hands on until two girls came up and said they saw a "huge" snake further below. So, we turned around and climbed back up...and then took the actual trail down. You know what they say about short cuts...

How To Get To The Charlie Turner Trailhead

To get to the Charlie Turner trailhead, follow directions that would take you to the Griffith Observatory. You can park in the Griffith Observatory parking lot, but chances are it will be full, so you'll have to park on one of the other side streets and make your way up the hill toward the Observatory. The trailhead starts at the north end of the Observatory parking lot, there is a sign there that says "Mount Hollywood Trail," with "Charlie Turner Trail" in smaller writing beneath it.

This is such a classic Los Angeles hike that will surely delight.




Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Amazing Benefits of Meditation

Have you tried meditation? I’ve practiced meditation on and off for the past 10 years— and by that I mean I’d meditate for 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, randomly after a yoga class, spontaneously during a stressful time...but never on a consistent basis. Moving into a new year, I’m attempting to make it a part of my permanent routine. And after a solid week of meditating each morning, I’m already feeling the benefits and am excited to keep it going.


Meditation increases happiness, improves your ability to communicate and focus, boosts creativity and reduces anxiety and stress. We take care of our bodies, we should take care of our minds and well-being too, right? The hardest part, at least for me, was finding the time. I committed to waking up a little earlier everyday (30 minutes) to be able to meditate for 10 minutes each morning and get in a couple of stretches before starting the day. And let me just say, it’s been very rewarding.

This incredibly helpful and well-designed (and free) app, Headspace, has been imperative to my foray into meditation. I highly recommend it. It guides you through a daily, 10 minute meditation. Check out the benefits, download the app and give it a shot— you’ve got nothing to loose and so much to gain!

1) Meditation Reduces Anxiety, Worry, and Stress

"In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well." - (Forbes)

2) Meditation Increases Happiness

Studies show that meditation increases brain signaling in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, responsible for positive emotions, while decreasing activity in the right side, responsible for negative emotions. It also decreases the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts. Mind-wandering (worrying, over-thinking, thinking about things that have already happened, etc.) is associated with being less happy.
(Sources: Forbes, Huffington Post)

3) Meditation Boosts Creativity 

"Research has found meditation to promote ‘divergent thinking’ a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated." -(Headspace)

4) Meditation Reduces Blood Pressure, Heart Attack and Stroke

"More people die of heart diseases in the world than any other illness.
In a study published in late 2012, a group of over 200 high-risk individuals was asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or take a class on Transcendental Meditation. During the next 5 years researchers accompanying the participants found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
They noted that meditation “significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.”
-(Live and Dare)

5) Meditation Promotes Self-Acceptance and Reduces Social Anxiety

"Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction, a sub-genre of meditation) brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety." The other benefits of meditation, including increased self-awareness and acceptance, also contribute to improved overall well-being.
(Forbes)

Friday, August 29, 2014

How To Wear Sweats To Work

Ladies, if you are like me, you'll agree that there are days when you want nothing more than to go to work in your sweats and a t-shirt. Those tight pants, restricting structured shirts and painful high heels can be so suffocating! 

The good news is-- there are work arounds. Allow me to introduce you to my five faves.

1. The Track Pant / Jogger Pant
These are basically dressy sweatpants. Made of silk, polyester, leather and other kinds of soft flexible fabrics, track/jogger pants are loose, light, comfortable and most pants of this variety come with an elastic waistband.


Rose Garden Joggers from Anthropologie


2. Loose Fitting Blouses, Tunics and T-Shirts
As with the track pants, looser fitting tops are on trend right now which makes this move a no brainer. A loose blouse in a light, breathable fabric is ideal. It's as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt.

Oversized Blouse from Zara

AG Adriano Goldshmied Rowan Silk Pleat-Front Top


3. Leggings
Leggings, like yoga pants are a girl's best friend. 
They're forgiving, flexible, they always make you look and feel good 
and you can take them anywhere. 

Silence + Noise Ankle Zip Leggings from Urban Outfitters 


BGD Cuffed Faux Leather Leggings from Urban Outfitters

4. Maxi and Shift Dresses
Maxi, Shift, Tunic and every other type of loose fitting dress are probably the most comfortable items of clothing to wear. With their simple lines, these dresses are not restricting yet look so classy and elegant.

Giroflee Maxi Dress from Anthropologie

This beautiful dress by Whit, found on Atlantic-Pacific


5. Flats, Wedges or Chunky Heels
Any of the above are a million more times mobile than high heels, not too mention more comfortable. 

Kiera Michael Kors Ballet Flats
Can You Hear Me by Seychelles

Bevrlie by Steve Madden





Give these five styles a try if you haven't already! 
Do you have any other comfy work clothes hacks?






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Capri, Italy


Capri was the third city we visited on our Honeymoon through Italy and France. If you missed them, check out my posts on Rome and Sorrento. We savored the relaxing, laid back atmosphere of this beautiful island, it was much needed and appreciated after the first busy five days of our trip. 

How to get to Capri from Sorrento
From Sorrento, we took a hydrafoil over to Capri. It was such a quick and easy commute. The ferry leaves from Marina Piccola, located about 10 minutes by cab from the heart of Sorrento. At Marina Piccola, you can purchase a hydrafoil or ferry ticket for about 18 euro per person. A quick 30 minute boat ride and we were on the magical little island of Capri.


Where to Stay on Capri
While on Capri we stayed at Casa Morgano. I highly recommend this hotel. The property is immaculate and located off the main road. The service was top-notch, they took care of all of our needs and made our stay at their property truly enjoyable and effortless. Our room was spacious and they kindly upgraded us to a room with a patio overlooking the sea. I just loved how Casa Morgano is nestled into the mountainside among the trees, there was always a slight breeze and the sound of birds chirping and calling as they soared overhead. What I loved the most about Capri was sitting on that patio enjoying the fresh sea breeze and listening to the birds and the wind through the trees.




We spent a lot of time on Capri relaxing. We walked around the town, sat in the little town square, the Piazetta (a great place for people watching) and ate at as many restaurants as we could.

Where to Eat
There were three restaurants in particular that left an impression; Il Geranio, Villa Verde and Michel'angelo.

  • Il Geranio is a quaint little French restaurant overlooking the Faraglioni. The food here was absolutely delicious being one of the best in terms of quality that I experienced in Italy. 
  • Villa Verde came recommended from the staff at Casa Morgano. We were very impressed by the food (local Italian cuisine), service and atmosphere here; I wish we had discovered it earlier in our stay because this is a place I would have dined at more than once. 
  • Michel'angelo...I can't say the food was the best here, though it was a lot better than a lot of the little touristy restaurants located in the Piazetta. And while everything is overpriced on Capri, this restaurant was one of the less expensive ones. What made this restaurant stand out was the service. Our waiter was very friendly and attentive making our experience at Michel'angelo very memorable. 







  // The Faraglioni //







// All pics by Nic (except for a few) //















Ciao, Capri! We'll be back soon!
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