Since I've just returned from Europe, I've asked one of our contributing bloggers to share an article on what's keeping her busy this summer.
Summer is in full swing here in LA! Complete with smoggy traffic, crazy heat waves, and blasting the A/C until you’re not sure if your car’s going to overheat. Some days, I swear, I would walk to Santa Monica just to feel a beachy breeze. But wait, you’re thinking, there’s gotta be a better way! Right you are!
My bike has officially become my best friend. I’m sure that sounds a little crazy, especially considering Los Angeles is better known for being a driver-friendly city (it feels ironic to use the word “friendly” there). However those “Share the Road” signs are there for a reason, even if some honk-happy road-ragers would rather ignore them. Just imagine if half the single-occupant cars on the road were bikes. I originally got my bike to cut down on gas costs, and as a preferred outdoor exercise. I was not born to run (sorry, Springsteen). I didn’t even realize how much time, money and headaches I’d save on parking, making my Schwinn a total Win when it comes to riding to summertime events
Outdoor cinemas like Cinespia and Eat, See, Hear are all the rage in the Summer. Screenings of old favorites like Ferris Bueller and The Princess Bride are set up all over LA county, from Pasadena to Santa Monica. They tend to pull in huge crowds and I recommend taking alternative or public transportation! Lest you end up having to park miles away, or pay the price of an extra movie ticket just to park on location. Biking is the perfect alternative, especially if you can get your movie-going friends to bike with you! Why carpool when you can bikepool! (I know that’s not a term yet, but trust me, it will be!)
Other than riding to outdoor movie or music events, hop on a bike just to soak up the scenery and some Vitamin D. I got back to my nature roots on a recent sunset bike ride through the Sepulveda Basin Recreational Park. It’s a beautiful, secluded area between Encino and Sherman Oaks. I spotted ducks, bunnies, and chipmunks as I rode around before catching the sunset.
So here’s to hoping I’ve converted the driver in you. I won’t lie; it takes thick skin to bike around LA. But honestly I feel more free and in control on a bike than I do in a car. There’s truly no better way to reduce your carbon foot print and get some healthy, scenic cardio than with one of these sweet two wheelers.
Q. I’ve just taken a new position with a company that will require quite a bit of business travel. Any tips for a gal that will soon be traveling to multiple cities?
Alison: I, too, am a girl on the go and have learned several ways to try to make life a little more comfortable while visiting multiple cities. Get yourself a good bag that has multiple pockets for just about everything. With pockets you’ll be able to find essentials faster. And consider skipping a leather bag since it will get scuffed up faster with all the shoving underneath the seat in front of you on the plane. I used to buy a new big bag each season at TJ Maxx or Marshalls since they have so many designer labels, but I’d be bummed when they got dirty. I have been using a travel bag from Baggallini for the last six months and it's saved me plenty of shoulder pain. The bag fits my laptop inside the bag so I don’t have to carry another bag just for my computer plus holds magazines, a book, and all my other essentials like snacks and toiletries that I carry on board. I bought the bag on ebags.com and it comes in multiple colors choices plus has a pull up handles and wheels. I was very picky on finding a stylish bag that fit under the seat, saved me carrying anything extra and didn't look stodgy. When booking hotels using online sites, request a quiet room on a high floor away from elevator . Nothing makes for a bad night sleep with an early wake up than listening to the elevator opening all night, the ice machine chugging and noise from the freeway outside your window. Also, a room on a higher floor can mean quiet and safety for a woman. Don’t give up your workout, just find new routines to do on the road . Most hotels have fitness centers, bring along your swimsuit for a pool workout, ask the hotel for a nearby park with running trails or bring a stretch band and workout in your room and do walking lunges down the hotel hallways (I’ve gotten over the embarrassment factor). When your meetings are over or after you’ve checked in, get out of the hotel and explore the city . This is easy when you’re doing business in a big city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Skip the car and walk around. Portland has the waterfront to explore, you can walk around West Hollywood in LA, get a cupcake at Toast, shop the boutiques on Third Ave and hike in Runyon Canyon or head to the fisherman’s wharf in Seattle and try several food options from various vendors and stop by the aquarium. The point is, don’t get stuck in your hotel room every time. It’s inevitable in some cities when you’ll have to do with room service and the TV, but if you can get to a local restaurant, then indulge that time with a good book. If you’ll be choosing from the room service menu, then check to see if the hotel has any restaurants on the property and you can usually choose from their menu, but have it delivered as room service. I’ve indulged that way several times at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay from Armani’s and Oyster Catchers restaurants. As for traveling on the plane, comfort is crucial. I usually wear the same “uniform” which consists of a stylish t-shirt or button down, pants or dark jeans, a sweater or cardigan (usually thin cashmere), a wrap that works double duty as a blanket and flats. And I have a blow-up neck roll since it takes up no space in my bag rather than lugging a stuffed one. Always have a good book, paperback is lighter, and a rotating menu of magazines. I’m always tearing out pages of decorating ideas, restaurants to try and a new pair of shoes or jacket to track down. While I have the new iPhone which has helped my business needs tremendously, my iPad is a must for movies to watch when my book bores me and the flight seems endless.
Palm Springs is hot, not in the Paris Hilton, “That’s hot,” way, but at times 115 degrees in September. And even in a dry heat you still sweat. For a long weekend it reigns supreme for relaxation, just be sure to score seats inside at restaurants or you may melt halfway through your appetizer. While there are hotels galore I always choose boutique hotels. I like small, low key with good service. My two top picks:
1-Movie Colony Hotel
A 16 room boutique hotel with plush beds, a large pool with bonus floating noodles and rafts ideal for a lazy way to stay cool in the water, complimentary breakfast, wine hour and beach cruiser bikes plus a masseuse on call. There are DVD players in each room so bring along you NetFlix vids you’ve been wanting to see unless you want to re-watch some of your favorites from the hotel’s collection. A good place and good price.
2-The Colony House Hotel
A fun hotel with good beds, delicious restaurant and plenty of lounging around the pool. And since the restaurant looks out onto the pool, there is always a bartender on hand to mix you up a cold cocktail. Plus, they accept dogs. For food check out Chez Philippe’s offerings of a delicious seafood paea and seafood linguine with a yummy sauce. For Mexican head to La Consuelas Terazza and order the fiesta guacamole, fajitas and a margarita. And if your mood is for comfort fare choose the Kaiser Grill and order the tuna melt or cheese steak. For breakfast, you must go to Norma's at The Parker hotel.
Order the lemon pancakes or the rice krispy coated french toast for a huge, but yummy carb overload. Best time to go is fall or spring when temps are bearable, but definitely meant lounging around and if golf is your game the winter months are your ideal time.
Imagine sipping a glass of wine from Montepulciano, the aroma of fresh cooked pizza, Vespas speeding by almost taking your hat in the wind. Ahhh Italy, but suddenly you open your eyes and find yourself on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. Hey a girl can dream can't she?!
Travel to Italy this summer, if only by wardrobe, and live like the Italians.
Think casual and comfortable yet stylish. Go with a dress fitted at the waist with a great wedge, big bangles and a stylish hat. Another option would be a bandeau top paired with patterened cigarette trousers and a strappy sandal.
In your outfit, you should be able to hop on a Vespa at a moments notice. Style freely and carpe diem! I'm going to pour myself a second glass of wine and daydream about my pasts visits to Tuscany and Umbria.
Pleated Skirt Dress, Mango.com $50
Floral Wedge, Steve Madden $130
Floral Print Cigarette Trouser, TopShop $72
Two-Tone Straw Hat, JCrew $38
Raffia Carryall Bag, ShopBop.com $105
Costa Rica has been my annual surfing/vacation destination for six years. And for the last three the sleepy coastal town of Nosara, far from a paved road with pot holes as big as kiddie pools has fulfilled my need for sun and relaxation where I can leave makeup, blow dryers and any notion of working hard far behind. I just work on trying to drop into a wave.
It’s all about livin’ outdoors-surfing, biking, swimming, and walking on the beach with the addition of margaritas and cold beer.
It will forever be a grand memory of where my husband proposed to me on the beach at sunset with the perfect ring. The main beach of Nosara is Playa Guiones, a 6 km expanse of white sand running in a straight line from Punta Pelada to Punta Guiones. Playa Guiones is the epitome of low-key beach life and ranks among the best surf spots on the Nicoya Peninsula. Here’s what you need to know: You will encounter friendly dogs everywhere you go. One may become your evening chaperone while you walk home from a restaurant with what you had presumed would be only your flashlight to guide you, others will sit or wander by your chair at one of the many local bars and others find nothing wrong, nor did we, in walking into your house for a short visit or to lay on your terrace in the shade. Actually, you'll encounter animals of all kinds.
For filling your stomach: I start with the food since being from originally from New York; we always want to find good food. The Gilded Iguana—one of my favorites for any meal. The breakfast burritos and pancakes surprised me with how tasty they were. I learned of the breakfast goods after waking up to no power in town. In the early hours of the morning after St. Patrick’s Day one of the town’s large fuse boxes blew out and for everyone who thought they would be sleeping in under the cool air conditioner and wake up to enjoy their own fridge contents we were snapped out of it when all electricity was out. Word traveled fast that the Gilded had a generator. If I weren’t enjoying such a fresh selection of fruit everyday at my rented house it would have been hard to keep me away on daily basis. As for other selections, go for whatever fish has been caught that day. One of the waiter’s brothers operates a deep-sea fishing company and whatever is caught can be brought back to Gilded and shared with the restaurant. One night we all dined on tuna sushi and grilled tuna. Plus the guacamole and chips are always good starters. If you’re still thinking breakfast or perhaps have a stomach growling for lunch, ride your bike to Café du Paris. Like every restaurant in town it’s open on all sides with just a roof on top. This roof is shaped like a tall pointed tee-pee. Go for the fresh fruit with yogurt and granola or for lunch the chicken curry salad filled with all the salad fixings and piled with tender, marinated chicken. One of mine, and many others favorites is La Luna. It’s located on a hillside with THE view of the sunset. Besides table seating on their outdoor terrace they also have big cushions, blankets, benches and low tables on their lawn that stretches to the hillside for optimal sunset viewing with a margarita in hand. Their fish is top notch and the jasmine rice is delicious. Expect to see several friendly dogs that wander about with or without their owners.
For competition to sunset viewing with La Luna, you can head up to Hotel Lagarta Lodge where you can view the spectacular sunset unobstructed since it’s 40 meters above sea level and offers a view of the coastline of Ostional and the Reserva Biologica Nosara below. When you have a hankering for something sweet, head to Robin’s, just down the street from Café du Paris, for homemade ice cream, chewy brownies and chocolate chip cookies. She also serves sandwiches—my top picks include the chicken salad with a paprika mayonnaise followed by a scoop of wild blackberry sorbet or caramel oatmeal raisin cookie ice cream. And due to my sweet tooth, I always buy a cookie to save for later. Marlin Bill’s is on a small hill that looks down the main drag that leads to Playa Guiones. The staff is incredibly nice and what’s not to like about Bill, who adopted his best friend’s cat when he died. Their claim to fame is their jalapeno sauce, which I opted to for go. While they are heavy handed with the butter and garlic on some dishes, it’s easily forgotten when you bite into their creamy key lime pie courtesy of Bill’s Florida raised wife. If you have a car, jeep or like us are willing to walk a few miles then set out for La Dolce Vita for an Italian meal that will need a bit of walking off after wards. i.e. good but you may leave bloated. The owner, Roberto, left his home near Milan for a vacation in Costa Rica, fell for the lifestyle and decided to stay and open a restaurant. That was 12 years ago. It’s pricey when you compare it to other restaurants in town, but now I’m hooked on pairing speck with goat cheese and balsamic. Giardino Tropicale is all about the delicious thin crust pizza and sangria. We started with a glass, then moved to a pitcher and accordingly walked a little wobbly home. If you want to receive a greeting from the house dog you’ll have to offer him a little cheese. He ignores left over crust and answers to “cheese please.” Plus there are two markets in town, a large one near the airport and a mini super with a remarkable selection of fruit, food and wine near Kaya Sol. Besides lying by the pool:
While there are several surf schools in town I recommend stopping by The Frog Pad and inquiring about lessons. Dave Malbon, owner of The Frog Pad, can give you a lesson or get a recommendation. Since we rented a house near The Frog Pad, it became our go-to place for rentals and booking all our activities from horseback riding to canopy tours, fishing charters and even taxis when we need them. Surfboards per week: $75 Bikes per week: $50
Plus you can rent DVD’s, swap books, log onto the Internet or make inexpensive international phone calls. They’ll also gladly make a call to reserve a spot for zip lining and set up a round trip taxi. Zip lining in Nosara is a must on your to do list assuming you don’t have a fear of heights. At Miss Sky Canopy you can choose the morning or afternoon group, but smart ones choose morning for the slightly lower temps and 13 rides as opposed to only eight in the afternoon. Have someone call ahead for a reservation. Most taxis charge about $15 round trip whether it be one person or four people in the truck or van.
And what better way to end the day, before heading to the beach for an awesome sunset, than a massage. Tica Massage across the dirt road from the Harmony Hotel is the popular laid back spot for an hour massage. Whether in the upstairs loft or ground floor cabana, you’ll pay $55 for a rubdown. It’s an all-female masseuse team and while they change from year to year, we enjoyed the healing hands of Jennifer and Mailynn. Nightlife: Just about every night of the week one of the bars or restaurants has live music sometimes good, sometimes average, but still fun and Friday and Saturday are the nights that draw the most attention. Kaya Sol, is the friendly spot for beers each night and live music. Le Banane, Gilded Iguana, and Bar Toucan are the other regular “hot” spots for nightlife. For an insiders experience, head to Tropicale disco for a lot of shakin’ and for an out of it’s element addition to Nosara a visit to The Black Sheep is requisite particularly if your vacation includes St. Patrick’s Day. It’s an Irish drinking club located on the mountainside above Nosara with a view of the valley yet transports you to Dublin within it’s doors. Beware the Irish car bomb, which is a glass of Guinness with a shot of scotch and Bailey’s dropped in. People claim it tastes like chocolate Dr. Pepper. Please drive safe.
If you can be trusted with a match, a small bonfire on the beach is usually a highlight of our vacation. Head to the beach, find the wood, light a match and be responsible; meaning be sure to put out the fire with plenty of sand when you’re done. We usually roast corn soaked in salt water or roast marshmallows. We create an untraditional version of s’mores with what we find at the mini super. Where to shack up: If you want more space, wish to eat at your leisure and pack a smaller bag, opt for renting a house. It’s our third year and we’ve rented the same place at Villa Tortuga each time from David Malbon. They have options of 1-3 bedrooms that include a kitchen, dining and living room, outdoor patio or terrace plus washer/dryer and what my friends consider important—the blender and DVD player. We find renting a house more affordable and comfortable than a hotel room, especially when you have a surfboard to store for the week. VillaTortugaNosara.com
Harbor Reef Lodge not only offers several house rentals around town, but is one of the two most popular hotels in town as well. The lodge has two small pools, one of which has a swim up bar. Many visit the restaurant for sushi. Harborreef.com At Harmony Hotel, comfort meets effortless, high standards of sustainable living. It’s inspired by low-key glamour and total escape. Enjoy lounging by or taking a dip in the salt-water pool, walking amid the luscious foliage and flowers that thrive to create a habitat for a diverse animal species. Many rooms have outdoor hammocks and some have heated outdoor private showers. The Healing Centre at Harmony offers massage and other spa services plus yoga for $12 everyday. The bonus to their yoga program is the opportunity to set up a private session for 1- 5 people for just $40 total. They even have a free salsa class on Thursdays. Harmonynosara.com Extras: Day-tripper—drive to the beaches of San Juanillo. First stop at the white sand beach in the cove where the fisherman dock their boats and with old sneakers or water shoes swim over the rocks and do a bit of snorkeling. Best place to snooze is under the trees for cool shade. When it’s time for lunch start back up the road toward home, stop at La Bahia for lunch; an Italian restaurant disguised in Balinese décor above the black sand beach in the cove diagonally across from the white sand beach. After a lunch of pizza and fresh fish, coincidentally dropped off fresh via horseback from a local fisherman, take the back path down to the black sand beach for a final swim before heading back to Playa Guiones. On our visit, we had the black sand beach all to ourselves; a great gift on our last day. The water was deep enough for swimming while the waves were soft, never pounding. If you wish to be awe struck at the sight of hundreds of turtles coming to lay their eggs during the aribadas at Ostional then plan your trip between the peak times of July to December. Seasons: Everything’s in bloom—November and December Dry Season—January-March Hottest month-April Rainy Season-May-October Getting there: Most flights take you to Liberia or San Jose. If you land in San Jose you’ll definitely want to take a flight from there on one of the smaller airlines, Sansa or Nature Air directly to Nosara. From Liberia, catch a flight to Nosara or hire a taxi for $120-$150 (1-6 people) to drive you to your destination which will take about 2 ½ hours.
So I travel often for television segments usually zipping between LA and New York, but New York always has my heart. The city has gotten cleaner, it’s still very cool, excellent food, great shops and we, New Yorkers are nice-really; I mean it. You just have to stop us when we whiz by you on the sidewalks clocking 25 miles per hour to ask us for directions. When you get us to stop we’ll not only give you directions, we’ll give you restaurant suggestions and may walk you towards your destination. Alright, I’m gushing, but it’s one place that I’m completely biased about. Take food for instance, we have top chefs like Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, Jean Georges Vongerichten, and Mario Batali offering us top notch cuisine, but you can still enjoy a fresh delicious meal for under $10 like a pulled pork sandwich at Rub, a burger at Shake Shack (if you’re willing to wait in line outside) and a wonderful bowl of pasta in a tiny place that seats about six people at Pepe Rosso on Sullivan Street. So while I’d take up pages and pages with restaurant suggestions, here are a few that are a sure thing, if Le Bernadin and Restaurant Daniel are out of your price range. La Esquina 106 Kenmare St, bet. Lafayette and Cleveland Place) Has a totally cool vibe with delicious food. The restaurant is located inside The Counter--a corner restaurant near SoHo. You go inside and enter through a plain brown door, head downstairs and check in with hostess who is situated in the kitchen. She brings you through the kitchen to the restaurant basically tucked into the basement. Order the fish tacos and a bowl of chocolate cake. A bit snooty and you've got to make a reservation ahead--then call on day of to get a better time.
Stanton Social (99 Stanton Social bet. Ludlow and Orchard, on the lower east side) My favorite go to place for friends when they come to town. I ALWAYS have fun at this place, great drinks and it's where you order lots of small dishes. I recommend the little pierogies with goat cheese and carmelized onions. For Italian, I can’t suggest just one: Peasant (194 Elizabeth St. in Nolita) You must order the chocolate bread pudding. Plus the bread and fresh ricotta cheese on the table is addictive. I enjoyed the goat lasagna.
Babbo (110 Waverly Place) Mario Batali's gem. Where the usual pasta is absent you order some amazing dish with squab or wild boar. Roc (Corner of Duane and Greenwich in Tribeca) I enjoyed roasted chestnut pasta on my last visit, but many friends love the cavatelli and the ravioli. And for dessert it’s always a toss up of the brownie sandwich or the terrina di cioccolato.
Malaysian: Fatty Crab (643 Hudson St.) Small place, but a must taste for inventive Malaysian food. Dim Sum: Dim Sum a Go Go (5 E. Broadway between Oliver and Catherine in Chinatown) Freshly made dim sum not leftovers or carts like other places. I will admit you’ll probably get lost trying to find the place so take a cab or stop being stubborn and ask for directions, more than once. Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell St. in Chinatown) Great for soup dumplings. Greek: Avra (141 East 48th St.) -Wonderful Greek food--the fish is delish and the crispy zucchini and eggplant chips are addictive with the yogurt dip.
For people watching: Waverly Inn (16 Bank St.) Graydon Carter’s hot spot. Food is decent, but you go to see celebs. For the wine list: Cru (24 5th avenue) Just be ready to peruse a long list. Ask the sommelier for advice to fit your budget For Brunch: Clinton Street Baking Company (4 Clinton St.) But you'll need to go early since it gets super busy. I’d advise skipping the weekend and go during the week, get the pancakes, the chorizo and definitely a biscuit. The biscuits are the best to be found in NYC. Slather on some jam and butter.
Prune (54 East 1st) Try the Monte Cristo sandwich if you dare. And when you need a coffee break and treat: Once Upon A Tart (135 Sullivan St. in Soho) You can sit inside or outside and enjoy a cup of coffee, cappuccino or lemonade, but I make an excuse to go for the tarts and the scones. I know, I know, you say scones-those dry crumbly pastries? But this place obviously doesn’t shy away from the butter. They are my faves, moist and a must have on my list. I usually have the currant buttermilk and buy an extra for breakfast the next morning. If you venture into Brooklyn for a special meal of brunch or dinner go to: River Café (1 Water St.) Truly lovely, you are at put at the scene of many movies surrounded by a garden and on the water. You have a view of Manhattan. Or just walk up the street and get line for pizza at Grimaldi's. So you’re nearly busting a gut from great food, but how to work it off? Well, there’s plenty to see and I don’t mean waiting in a two hour long line to check out the view from the Empire State Building. The simplest and best way to see New York is by walking. Move your ass. It’s how most of us stay in shape. Central Park is great anytime of year and in the winter months you can enjoy looking up at the city by pulling on some skates and going in circles around the biggest rink the Manhattan. In the summer you can take in a view from the water by taking the free trip back and forth on the Staten Island ferry. Or walk along the water on the esplanade in Battery Park City. And of course you coudl really move your legs and rent a bike to cruise alogn the river from Battery Park all the way up through Riverside Park. Do it round trip and you could clock about 12 miles. If the water is your fancy, then take a brunch or sunset cocktail trip on one of the many large sailboats docked at Chelsea Piers or the World Financial Center Marina. For half price tickets to Broadway shows, skip the ticket booth in Times Square and head to the lesser known office near South Street Seaport. On Friday and Saturday evenings, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stroll the various floors and admire the art, enjoy a glass of wine, listen to music and visit the rooftop for a generous view of Central Park and the city.
On other days and when the exhibits are sure to please, like the recent Calder sculptures and photos by William Eggleston, visit the Whitney on 75th and Madison. And if you want to see great art in slightly smaller venue and still enjoy a drink outside, check out the MOMA. Meet friends in the outdoor garden first for a cup of ice cream or drink then check out.
Shopping: Of course you’re going to spend money and that means pulling out your credit card for more than a meal. The department stores that require mention are Bergdorf Goodman (Fifth Avenue and 57th) (the best damn Holiday window decorations every year. No contest!). The place is chi chi and expensive, but hit the shoe floor on sale day and wowza you can scoop up a designer pair at a bargain. Barney’s (61st and Madison), because of it’s eclectic mix and range of high end to moderate priced designers. And then there’s downtown to check out. Sure SoHo has become a bit of an outdoor mall, but there’s still plenty of boutiques to visit that sit next to the chains like Anthropologie. Visit Global Table (109 Sullivan St.) for beautiful items for the home or fab wedding gifts or visit INA consignment to nab a gently worn piece from Gucci or Louis Vuitton.
When you cross over Lafayette Street into Nolita and then into the Lower East Side, then you get to visit the designers that are embarking on their dreams. Visit boutiques like Calypso (clothes and home stores), Foley and Corinna (on Stanton), Mayle, Emmett McCarthy, Poppy and several great jewelry shops on Mott between Houston and Prince. Oh, and I just visited a darling tiny shop named Szeki on Clinton just a few steps from Clinton St. Baking Company. I would categorize her jewelry and clothes as casually elegant --and moderately priced.
Vacation is just a few days away and you don't need every lip gloss or eye shadow on your trip nor do you need five necklaces. Time to edit your selections down to tinted moisturizer, a pinky gloss and a black masacara plus a chunky necklace, two simple necklaces with charms to layer, a bold cuff and dangly earrings. Put yourself in a happy-go-lucky mood and pack them in Trina's Morrocco collection. The jewelry roll has multiple pockets so the jewelry doesn't get tangled. Find them at Nordstrom.
- 1 OF 2
- next ›