There is no sweeter feeling of serenity or tranquility than when you pause to enjoy the beauty of your own garden. Watching your plants grow and participating in their growth reconnects you with nature, and almost immediately dissolves any other troubling thought. Digging your hands in the earth’s soil, planting seeds that will eventually grow, all of these activities associated with gardening have the power to alleviate tension and ultimately nurture the soul.

Research has shown that connecting with nature can provide extraordinary health benefits. Setting the mind at ease, and putting it almost into a meditative state, gardening has the power to boost immune function, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and improve your overall livelihood.  It allows your body to soak up healthy vitamin D from the sunshine, and studies have shown that being outdoors in garden-like settings even has the ability to reduce agitation and aggression among older patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Best of all, gardening is a great form of healthy exercise. Imagine doing something you love and still burning calories? It has been said that 30 minutes of gardening can get all of your major muscle groups working, like your legs, arms, shoulders, neck, buttocks, and back. Moving heavy bags of mulch and carrying heavy, potted plants is enough to really get your blood pumping!

Lastly, gardening is a great activity to not only bring the immediate family together, but whole communities, especially if everyone works for a cause, like growing organic vegetables to prevent exposure to pesticides and other toxins present in commercially grown food. The benefits from this tranquil yet productive activity are truly limitless!


Last month I had the opportunity to get involved in one of the greatest beach festivals in Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race and Ocean Festival!  I am such a big fan of stand up paddle that I decided to register for their annual paddle race, which took place June 11th.

One of the ancient forms of surfing, stand-up paddling is a great way to work out your core, and is gaining widespread popularity. You typically do not hear of many stand-up paddle races, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to participate. It seemed like everyone at the festival came together for their shared love of this water sport, which made it all the more enjoyable. There were paddle board and dory boat races, live music, Heal the Bay Beach Clean Up, a Paddle Board Museum with unique set of antique surf and paddle boards and vintage surf photos, all in the name of fun. On top of everything, the event contributed to a great cause. A portion of the proceeds went to Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization that strives to keep the Santa Monica Bay clean.

Pier Paddle Race Video 6/2011

(The video link above is of the racers entering the Santa Monica ocean at the start of the race. I am the one with the Yellow/Blue striped SUP board.)

(I am anxiously waiting for the race to start!)

This stand-up paddle race was the first competition I have ever participated in. I raced in the two mile paddle and was pleasantly surprised when I came in 4th place in the “40 years old and up” division! I have been paddling for fun for only two years so you can imagine how great it felt to get out there and challenge myself. If you love to stand-up paddle, I highly recommend getting involved next year and join me! The most important thing to remember though, is to wear a wet suit. Even with summer finally here, the water is chillier than it looks (58 degrees)!


The universe is a vast and beautiful place, something we are a part of yet never really take note of. Like the many exploratory places Los Angeles has to offer, the Griffith Observatory is a great place to visit if you are looking to connect with your inner astronomer. It embodies the sheer magnitude of the universe, and brings about a child-like sense of wonder because you truly realize how small you are in the vast universe.

The Griffith Observatory opened in 1935, but long before that it began as a dream by Griffith J. Griffith in 1896. Armed with the audacious plan of building a public observatory, Griffith started out by donating over 3,000 acres of land, and in 1912 began negotiations and funding for a full fledged public observatory. While he died in 1919, shortly after negotiations were put in place, the funds left behind enabled a team of architects and astronomers to construct the glorious astronomical landmark that the Griffith Observatory is today.

Closed for a short period from 2002 to 2006, the Griffith Observatory now offers more of an interactive experience than ever before. It is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers the public a chance to star gaze with their public solar telescopes, showcasing the night sky for all to see. Three live shows premier daily at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium featuring our place in the universe, the role of water in our solar system, and the ancient wisdom behind the appearance of the northern lights. For fifth graders only, (although all grades are welcome to visit) the Griffith Observatory holds a special Field Trip Program that includes theater experiences, exhibits, and a visit to the Observatory’s telescope.

Best of all, visiting the Observatory is free! So if you’re in the mood for a little stargazing and have some time on your hands, take a moment to explore the wonders of our great universe!


Does your furniture tell a story? Sure there is a story or two  to be told about how we stumbled upon an eclectic piece of furniture, perfectly suited to a specific room, but how many of us can share a story about the artistry behind the furniture, or its origin? 

I am guessing not many of us. Furniture shopping has become somewhat of a pricey, loathsome errand when you are not sure which pieces best fit the décor of your home. For  those of you eco-fans out there however, myself included, there is an entire furniture store dedicated to showcasing pieces made out of sustainably harvested and salvaged wood just waiting for your inspection—Environment Furniture.
With six locations in major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York, Environment Furniture is more of a museum than a store. Much the way our environment represents the conditions of our natural surroundings, Environment Furniture strives to bring that natural, earthy environment to your home.  They offer non-laminated, natural furniture with recycled and re-purposed wood that has a naturally weathered look and feel. The entire store is an extraordinary testament to ancient craftsmanship with beds and tables made out of 100 year old reclaimed wood from Brazil, and couches made out of fabrics used in pup tents that once sheltered soldiers in the Civil War.

Even if you are uncertain about going the more wholesome, “earthy” route with your furniture, it is worth a stop, at least for a quick browse. There are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly proprietors there to give you suggestions and maybe even a quick history lesson or two. It is definitely a furniture-shopping experience like no other–a great place to take your eco interior decorating to the next level!

Environment Furniture

8126 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323-782-0296 (phone)
323-782-0989 (fax)


Imagine the best spa you have ever been to. Was it clean and luxurious? Were the products natural and refreshing? If Crystal Spa in Koreatown is not the first place that comes to your mind, you have not visited one of the best in Los Angeles!

Crystal Spa is one of the most amazing Korean spas I’ve ever been to. You can find it at the City Center in Koreatown, and it is open 24 hours a day on the weekends, which is great because you do not have to limit your pampering time. It consists of four main rooms: a salt room, made with all-natural Himalayan mineral ore; a charcoal room which purifies the air with the negative ions released by the charcoal; an ice room to cool down the body after a steamy sauna; and a yellow sand room that contains a Korean mud that rids the body of harmful toxic agents.

The spa is also equipped with a cafe, large screen televisions, and a variety of treatments including acupressure, facials, foot massages, and full body scrubs (my favorite is the Aroma Scrub and Massage!). The best part about the spa? One hundred percent of their products are Aveda; talk about a treat! It is a great place to take a few friends or a mate, as there is a unisex room where everyone sits and sweats together in ridiculous, yet fun baggy shirts and shorts!

I always have a relaxing time when I go because the Crystal Spa is more than just a spa—it is like a relaxing hang out where you can eat Korean food on the floor and unwind. My favorite room is the salt room! After a long week, grabbing a friend and heading to the Crystal Spa would be a great way to kick off the weekend!


It  has been pretty windy in Los Angeles lately, and if your allergies are acting up with all of the pollen and weed antigens blowing around, you might want to consider staying indoors this weekend. Of course, given the sunny climate of Los Angeles you might be wondering how you can still maximize weekend fun indoors. Aside from catching a movie or heading to a mall, why not take up a fun activity like ice skating?

The Toyota Sports Center has a terrific ice skating rink. It is located on Nash Street in El Segundo, and has been described as of the nicest skating rinks in Southern California. Not only is it a great place to celebrate a birthday for a little one, but they have ice skating classes for all skill sets. The same applies to hockey league participation—it does not matter if you are a novice or a professional, anyone can participate at the level they are comfortable with.

If you or your children have shown an interest in skating, the Toyota Sports Center also has a pretty terrific deal for first-time skaters—how does the price of free sound? The Toyota Sports Center offers a Kids First Ice Hockey series that allows children 8 and younger to learn to skate and become familiar with the sport of hockey free of charge!  However there is a deposit for equipment in case it is returned in poor condition.

The Sports Center is a pretty popular place to skate because they are affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings, who hold practices that are open to the public. Additionally, what separates this center from other ice skating rinks is that the Toyota Sports Center has two ice skating rinks, NHL and Olympic. Two rinks are better than one when it comes to familiarizing yourself with ice skating—there’s nothing like learning in a rink with people that are on the same level as you!

You can register online for their classes if you are interested, at






It is easy to admit that libraries are not as frequented as they used to be—when was the last time you visited your local library? With the ease of books and the luxury of big bookstore chains, they almost seem as obsolete as compact discs. The Santa Monica Public Library however, is a rare gem in the big city that should not be overlooked if you do not have any big plans for the weekend.

Four branches comprise the Santa Monica Public Library system, each of them providing activities, programs, lectures, books, audio books, and movies that are completely free. The Main Santa Monica Library has regular concerts, book discussions, and workshops to participate or volunteer in, and even provides a delivery service for the handicapped individuals who are unable to leave their homes. The library is the perfect place to enjoy both the luxury of free information via internet, books, and magazines, along with the opportunity to connect with members who have similar interests in the community.

The best part about it? There is something for everyone. Story time and clubs for kids, a teen lounge with tutoring and book groups, a program called “The Living Room” where adults can meet with others to re-establish the library as a place for social and intellectual connection, and a broad array of reading, writing, and game-related activities for seniors. The Main Library even has a café where you can sit outside and enjoy a latte while you read or wait for an event.

The Santa Monica Library is not your run-of-the-mill library, and offers so much more than books, what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?


601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401









Do you have dinner plans this weekend? Do they involve an ocean view? If not, they should! There is a great restaurant in Malibu called Moonshadows that claims to have the best ocean view Malibu. As a frequent diner there, I can definitely vouch for that!

Run by experienced restaurant manager Andrea Bullo, Moonshadows has been called the “ultimate romantic dining locale” by for its efficient service and intimate seating arrangements. Pretty much anywhere you sit inspires a feeling of closeness and romance, perfect for anniversaries! Their menu items include tasty appetizers, chowders and salads, and entrees that use Niman Ranch meat and goat cheese. You can also get organic scrambled eggs if you are there for breakfast

The best time to dine at Moonshadows is in the afternoon, around three o’ clock for a late lunch or early dinner. If you grab a booth outside you can catch a glimpse of the restaurant’s stunning ocean view. Moonshadows is one of the few restaurants in Malibu where you are literally right on the water, which adds such beautiful ambiance to the meal. Also, if you’re lucky the dolphins will be out—I see them every time I go!

Take a look at the link below for Moonshadows’ address, as well as their hours of operation.



20356 Pacific Coast HWY.

Malibu, California 90265

(310) 456-3010



If you are a gardening aficionado looking to explore 14,000 kinds of plant varieties this weekend, the Huntington Gardens should be your first pick. Spanning 207 acres, the botanical gardens dot the expanse of the Huntington Library in over a dozen places, a beautiful testament to Henry E. Huntington’s original San Marino Ranch created in 1903.


What started out as nearly 600 acres of citrus groves, alfalfa crops, and even a small herd of cows is now 14 themed gardens scattered across the grounds of the Huntington Library. Henry Huntington, a business man who founded the non-profit institution in 1919, began his special interest in plants after purchasing the San Marino Ranch with then superintendent William Hertrich, who later had a profound impact on the foundation of the gardens.


Of the 207 acres that comprise the gardens, roughly 120 are open to the public to enjoy. The Library provides an assortment of tours for groups and schools, as well as some that are self-guided. Garden tours are held on select days of the week between 12 and 2pm but weekend tours are from 10:30am to 2:30pm, depending on how many volunteers are available. The Huntington also provides tea tours, where you can enjoy English tea in the Huntington Rose Garden tea room after a private morning tour.

Personally, my favorite garden is the cacti with so many varieties to study. I love walking around the grounds on a lazy afternoon, taking in all of the sweet plant smells and enjoying the peace and quiet. The Rose Garden is especially to die for, and with the beautiful sunny weekend coming up, the flowers will definitely be in bloom!

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road

San Marino, CA 91108






Career Expos, Fashion Expos, Fitness Expos—there are not many trade shows out there we have not heard of. Expos are a wonderful way to bring people together for different networking opportunities in a certain field. While you are probably aware of some of the more popular ones, there’s also a great networking expo event right here in Los Angeles that pertains to everything eco called the Go Green Expo.

Like other expos, the Go Green Expo focuses solely on bringing together retailers and consumers in order to share new ways of living green. There are literally hundreds of booths, exhibits, and hands-on activities to participate in to discover greener alternatives to use both in the household and in business practices. It started after Bradford Rand, trade show and fair producer, saw the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” which like most people, were profoundly impacted by it.

After its initial debut, the Go Green Expo was a smash hit. It featured everything from hybrid cars, household products, and eco fashion to organic pet and baby food. The expo brought famously eco speakers and actors such as Ed Begely Jr., Josh Dorfman, David Bach, and Kevin Wall, out of over fifty speakers total with over 250 exhibits.

Currently the Go Green Expo is showcased all across the country, and is going to be a widely broadcasted event when it hits Los Angeles from April 15th to April 17th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. If you do not have plans that weekend, it would be a great way to learn some new ways of incorporating more green into your life!