Friday, October 31, 2014

Places You Should Visit: Rocky Mountain National Park

I honestly never understood why anyone would go to a national park until I visited one. Back in 2011, I ventured out to Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was like someone turned on a light switch. It was just so beautiful, pure and straight-out-of-a-painting gorgeous, wherever we went. Every view was breathtaking. When I visited, it was elk bugling (read: mating) season, and I enjoyed seeing those animals all over the park. I felt so in touch with nature and at peace too. Save for a few camping trips in my childhood, I'm never considered myself much of an outdoor person, but this trip changed all of that. Now, I make a point of always visiting national parks or mountains if I'm nearby. 

Yes, even the roads in Rocky Mountain National Park are breathtaking. And yes, this is an actual picture I took.

I'm a firm believer that you have to visit a truly magnificent national park until you understand it. So, next time you get the chance, take it. It won't disappoint. And you'll finally understand why people seek out national parks over and over again.

                                         More gorgeous mountains. I wish I was there right now. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Miraval: A Desert Oasis in Tucson

Miraval is a stunning, soothing getaway nestled in Arizona's Catalina Mountains. After just a few days, the calming spirit of the place will wash over you. You'll fall in love with the pink sunsets, green juice served at almost every meal and the stunning views you'll get when you're taking one of the spot's many exercises classes. And the spa here is not to be missed. Not only does it just smell great (like all spas do), but the entire place just exudes calm. From the sound of trickling water at the front desk to the soft lighting--just walking into the space will lower your heart rate. Lounge outside by the pool or enjoy absolute silence and gorgeous mountain views in the spot's quiet room while you wait for a treatment. 

The spa's entry.

It was raining when I visited Miraval just last week, but the outdoor beauty was not lost on me. My treatment room--where I received a fantastic, worked-out-all-the-kinks and left me feeling refreshed 100-minute full-body massage--even had a sliding glass door. That might not sound like much, but I absolutely loved hearing the rain fall during my massage. It brought me closer to the natural beauty of the spa, and I didn't even have to get up from the table. Details like that make all the difference, and I'm sure I'll be thinking of my massage for years to come.

Outdoor lounge. Can't you just imagine resting out here?

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Salamander Resort & Spa: Get in Touch with Virginia's Wine Country

The Salamander Resort & Spa is a luxurious property in Middleburg, Virginia, that's designed to capture the true spirit of the state's wine and horse country. The resort is beautiful, and the crown jewel of the entire spot is its spa. Even if you'd prefer not to stay overnight, the spa is a must-visit if it's in your budget. After walking down an illuminated hallway that's flanked by a small fountain, you'll be whisked away to the magical world that is the Salamander's spa. Highlights include gorgeous, cream-colored lounges--perfect for resting on pre- or post-treatment and an infinity pool showcasing the stunning scenery of the area.

The spa's dedication to nature is also evident in the treatments. The essential oils here are created out of herbs from the hotel's garden. Some rooms even have sliding glass doors that open to the outside world. Little touches like that go a long way. And I always love hearing rain fall or birds chirping as I relax on a table. Don't you?

Read my feature story on the Salamander's commitment to wellness over at The Daily Meal. 

Alala: Where Fitness Meets Elegance

If there's one thing I love, it's fitness fashion. I surprised myself way back in 2010 when I fell in love with luxurious lululemon. In high school, I wore baggy hoodies and sweatpants every day. Now, I wear nice stretchy pants just about all the time--I was always ahead of trends like that*. 

Dreamy photos of Alala. Swooning yet? 

Now, I review clothing regularly for heath and fitness site Bite Size Wellness and have written a handful of activewear features for Refinery29. But even with my vast fitness wardrobe, I still find pieces that I fall head over heels for. My latest find: these bright blue Alala leggings. I've had my eye on this boutique brand for a while--the company manages to create pieces that are both beautiful, innovative and understated. Alala recently loaned me a pair to try out, and I'm glad to report that the capris live up to the hype. The material is thick, soft and smooth. The sheer panels in the back add just a touch of sass and make good use of that current trend. These capris are like wearing Chanel to the gym--they're that elegant. Take a look and fall in love with this luxurious fitness brand. 

*Note the sarcasm.

Introduction and Some Chocolate

This blog is dedicated to the "sweet" life. I'll be writing about places, things and food that I love. Things that I adore. Things that are beautiful. Things that inspire. The title refers to two things I love: chocolate and my long-haired Chihuahuas, Autumn and Rocket. :-)

I'd like to dedicate my very first post to chocolate. From Green & Black to Hershey's, there are so many brands that I really like. But right now, I've got Fran's Chocolates on my mind. I visited Seattle (the home of this boutique brand) this past May and promptly fell in love. The company's signature salted caramels are too die for. The dark chocolate gives way to gooey, luscious caramel with a perfect salty finish. These special morsels are the kind of treats you'll still be tasting long after you've swallowed them. Sounds heavenly, huh? 

Delicious photo courtesy of Fran's Chocolates.