Free Things to Do in LA

photo by Angelika Johns

I love living in LA. There's always so much to do, see, and explore. After living here for a year, I still have an LA bucket list that's a mile long. I could live here for years and years, and never run out of cool places to explore! I've been able to cross a lot of the places off my list, but the problem is that I keep adding to it. Trendy restaurants and shops just keep popping up! That being said, it is not a cheap city to live in. It is so easy to spend money so fast, and I'm a college student on a very limited budget. The a $7 dollar Ubers, $4 lattes, and $8 ice cream cones (yes, those exist) sure do add up quickly. I try to stick to my budget instead of mindlessly spending money. If I do my research and plan, its still totally possible to have a great time in LA and not break the bank! Here are my favorite free things to do in LA!

Wall Crawl
If you're on Instagram, I'm sure you've seen photos of some of the murals along Melrose Avenue like the Paul Smith pink wall, the Global Angel Wings Project wall, and the Made in LA wall. Some incredible artists and iconic buildings are all so close together, and you can spend a whole afternoon just shooting (and posting!) pictures. I've personally never done the wall crawl. I can't decide if it's way too touristy and cliche, but either way it would be fun!

The Beach
Ah, the beach! It stretches on for miles and is the best way to unwind. I'll spend a whole Saturday there or even a few spare hours between classes. If you want a busy and fun vibe, head to Santa Monica. If you want a quieter and more relaxed vibe, Malibu is the place to be.

Runyon Canyon
If you want to find the best view of that legendary LA smog, spend a morning hiking Runyon Canyon. The trails begin right in the city, but you'll feel miles away. It's so nice to get in touch with nature and get some exercise. (Plus, all the trendy dogs, athleisure clothes, and Instagram opportunities)

The Getty
There are many incredible museums in LA, but my favorite is the Getty. Most museums participate in free days throughout the month. You can check out the schedule here.

Window Shop
There are tons of great walkable neighborhoods in LA, but my all-time favorite is Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice Beach. I actually wrote a post a while ago. Though Abbot Kinney has countless cool (and expensive) shops, window shopping is still super fun and completely free! More of my favorite places to shop and window shop are The Grove, Larchmont Village, and 3rd Street Promenade.

Yoga in the Park
I've recently started doing yoga a few times a week and have been loving it. Nothing makes me feel more refreshed and renewed like a great yoga class. Many organizations (including Lululemon) host free or donation based sessions on the weekends. You can check out the different ones here! They are usually in huge group settings at local parks or on the beach. The fact that it's free will leave you feeling great mentally, physically, and financially! Yay for free yoga!




photos by Miguel Nunez 

I'm so excited to be sharing my first post from Cozumel, Mexico today. Spending time on this beautiful island has been the most amazing way to kick off my summer. I feel like we've had the perfect balance of chill days on the beach and busy days exploring! So far, I have been able to snorkel in the beautiful bright blue water, climb up an ancient Mayan pyramid, repel into an underground cavern, and also shoot a few travel looks with a local photographer! I'm so glad Miguel and I could shoot together while I was visiting Cozumel! He has been living on the island for over 20 years and knew all the best places to shoot! This light and breezy dress was perfect for Cozumel's hot and humid weather. The heat here is no joke, so I was so thankful for the light linen fabric and flowy fit. I loved the unique stitching on the top too! Shooting this look with Miguel was so fun and felt like a new way for me to see the island. Between the heat, humidity, and accidentally stepping in a pile of fire ants (oops), we still managed to have a great time shooting! If you are ever visiting Cozumel and looking for a photographer, I couldn't reccomend Miguel Nunez more!


Being Kind to Yourself


Summertime always brings so much fun and excitement, but it also tends to bring up tons of insecurities about how we look. There's no denying that wearing a swimsuit can be intimidating. My good friend Maggie recently tweeted: "Seeing 'How To Get a Bikini Body'  posts makes my heart hurt. How to get a bikini body? You put a bikini on your body, that simple." This girl is wise beyond her years and I am proud to call her a friend. Maggie brought to my attention something that is really relevant and so important right now. And that is being kind to yourself. I'm sure the topic body image and self love is incredibly relevant to many of us. When we look in the mirror, it is so easy to pick out our perceived "flaws" instead of recognizing the beautiful human beings we are. I've posted about body image before, and I don't think we can emphasize it's importance enough. Today the always lovely holistic health coach, Maria Marlowe, is here to share her perspective on being kind to your body and mind. 

Being Kind to Yourself 
Guest Post by Maria Marlowe 

I’m sure you can agree, nothing good ever came out of hate, right? So why would you ever want to hate on yourself? A negative body image is something many women struggle with; I’ve seen some reports say that as many 70% of women don’t like their body! I used to feel that way, too. Throughout high school and college, I had very bad acne, which I tormented myself over. I would just sit in the mirror and cry over how hideous I had become, and feel awful about my terrible misfortune. The more I obsessed over it, the more I picked at it, and the worse it got. But, when I finally let go and made a conscious effort not to cry or hurl insults or be upset over it, and instead focus  on finding the root cause of it and experimenting to get rid of it, lo and behold my skin calmed down, and eventually cleared up. In doing research, I realized that many of our ailments are our body’s SOS that we’re not taking care of our body correctly.

If you struggle with body image issues, start a daily gratitude practice. Every day as soon as you wake up list 5 things you’re grateful for, either in your head or in a journal. And if you have a specific body image hang up, like “I hate my fat thighs”, make sure you say something nice about them, like, “I am so grateful for my strong legs that allow me to run and walk”.

When you are hating yourself, it’s so much easier to quit, or make poor food and lifestyle choices. However, when you accept and love your body, all of a sudden it becomes so much easier to take care of it and nourish it properly. Remember, you’re the only one who can take care of yourself. This is the only body you’ve got, so make sure you treat it like gold 

PS: Another health post by Maria Marlowe and my story about body positivity

Travel Essentials


Off to Mexico we go! Today my family and I are traveling to Cozumel, Mexico and I am so excited! I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the summer. After an exhausting week of finals, I am looking forward to laying on the beach for a week straight. But before we get to the beach, we have a long day of travel. We are flying from Sacramento ---> Houston ---> Cancun, then taking a ferry to Cozumel. A lot of people get stressed out by travel days, but I actually love them! Last year was a huge travel year for me. India, France, England, and smaller trips throughout the year meant so much joy, staying more organized, and packing as smart as possible. Whether you're preparing for a quick weekend road trip or a huge trip to another country, these travel essentials have proven to be so useful. I teamed up with the incredible artist Evelyn Hensen to share my travel must-haves! 

One of my favorite ways to capture the memories from a trip is to journal them out. I love looking back on all of the memories and experiences. Take the time each day to journal where you went, what you did, who you met, and what you discovered. After a big trip, one of my favorite things to do is reread my travel jounrals. They always take me right back to the moments of my trip.

I try to only pack my must-haves and fit them into a carryon sized makeup bag. A great way is to bring sample sized products like mini mascaras and moisturizers. After a long plane ride, there is nothing better than freshening up and taking on the city! When I'm looking back on photos, I'm always thankful that I took a few extra moments to look my best. 

On a long flight or car ride there is nothing better than staying cozy with a blanket scarf. I'm usually freezing when I'm traveling, so this is the best way to stay warm and stylish (and hide from the world when I want to take a nap). 

This one's a no brainer! Headphones are necessary for all of those travel playlists! These Spotify playlists from EF College Break are my favorite! Plus, headphones help tune out that awful airplane noise. 

I've yet to meet someone who wishes they took less photos while traveling. Taking the time to capture memories is always worth it. Months and years after your trip, you will be so thankful that you brought along a nice camera instead of just depending on your camera app. 

You really can't go wrong with a classic striped shirt. On my last long trip, I packed lots of fancier pieces that took up a ton of space in my luggage and then ended up wearing the same striped tee over and over! I think its better to pack simple pieces and then dress them up or down with the right accessories. Packing simpler, classic pieces that save space and effort is the way to go! 

Sunglasses are necessary for exploring a new city. Sunglasses like these that just happen to be really cute are even better! 

One book (yes, just one) is perfect for filling in the moments in between adventures! I always want to bring more books, but the only time I end up reading is on the airplane ride, a few minutes before falling asleep, or lounging in the sun.

Throw it all together in the perfect tote! Time and time again, my favorite travel bag has been this Longchamp bag. It's water resistant, big enough to fit my laptop, and completely worth the investment!

What are some carry ons that you can't live without? I'd love to read in the comments below! Shop my travel essentials using the links above and then head over to Evelyn's blog for more fun! I'm so excited she and I could team up to create this post! 


Something About That Hat


photos by Angelika Johns

I am done with finals, friends! I repeat, I am done with finals! Today I'm packing up my dorm and saying goodbye to LA for the next few months. I'm so excited to welcome summer by going on a few trips, starting a new job, taking a class at my community college (ugh), and working with some awesome brands on the blog. Wow, typing that list out made me realize that it's shaping up to be a pretty busy summer. I thrive off of staying busy, but I'm sure that I'll make time to spend a few days doing absolutely nothing. I always do! When Angelika and I took these photos, it was the first day that it really felt like summertime. Nothing screams summer more than bright sunshine, a fun swing dress, and this hat! I never thought I was a hat wearing kind of girl, but lately I've been obsessed! Something about that hat makes me feel so confident. I've had a black one for a while, and I loved it so much that I recently got the same exact one in a different color! Like I said... obsessed. Need more proof? See posts here, here, and here. Anyway, I know most people are already well into their summer vacations (and to be honest I've been in a summer state of mind for weeks now), but it feels great that it's officially summer now. Happy summer! 


How to Focus for Finals

photo of my Happy Planner from this post

Hello finals season, we meet again. Being on the quarter system at UCLA means that I've already taken two sets of finals this year. It also means that my summer doesn't begin until we are well into June. To those on the semester system already enjoying summer, just know that I am currently so jealous! For those of us still in school, I have some end of school inspiration that will hopefully make finals a little more bearable. I've written about successful study tips before, but today I'm sharing how to conquer finals in the healthiest and happiest way!

Make Lists
Playlists, to-do lists, and gratitude lists. There is no better feeling than prioritizing your goals and crossing off tasks. Each completed task leaves you feeling more positive, inspired, and motivated. Save your sanity by prioritizing more difficult tasks. Since you are more productive in the morning, get those done first.

Set a Timer
I work best on a deadline. Instead of tackling a huge project, break it into smaller parts and set a timer to complete those individual tasks. I think it is much less intimidating and much more rewarding this way. Little victories at a time lead to big success!

Get Out of the Library 
Fuel up on inspiration by occasionally changing up your work environment. Many of the best ideas come in the least expected ways. This could mean ditching the library and working from an inspiring outdoor space, a busy coffee shop, or even from the floor of your dorm.

Take Advantage of Your Resources
Go to office throughout the course and before you start freaking out about the finals. Study with friends and compare your notes.

Take Care of Yourself
You cannot get anything done unless you're taking care of your body and mind. Getting at least 8 hours a night allows your brain to fully recharge and stay focussed for the day ahead. Whether it's a quick workout, a Pinterest break, or making sure to eat foods that fuel your focus, take time to make personal wellness a priority.

Have Fun!
Wait, what? Have fun during finals? I have honestly learned the most when I've been having a great time. Last finals season, my friends and I used old study guides to make a few different games. By quizzing each other, we learned a lot and laughed a lot too.


Venice Beach


photos by Angelika Johns 

I visited my favorite little street in Venice Beach again. Shocker! Abbot Kinney Blvd is just the best place to go when family or friends are visiting LA. All of the little shops and restaurants really embody what I love most about this town. When Angelika told me she would be visiting from Virginia, I was so excited to shoot together! She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and I loved that Angelika could spend her very first day in LA with me! Check out her blog for more photos from her trip. This girl scheduled shoots every single day she was in town, and I have loved looking through them all! If you live on the East Coast, I could not recommend a more smiley, positive, and talented photographer! I'm so glad she chose to spend her very first day in LA with me exploring Abbot Kinney. As I've said before, it is one of my all-time favorite places in LA!

Another place I've been loving in LA? The beach! I've been taking advantage of this weather as it's been getting warmer. I actually realized that I've been to the beach every weekend for the past month! Even if it's just for an hour or two, laying out on the warm sand or hopping in the waves is my favorite way to unwind. I'm a college student on a budget, so these free things like going to the beach or exploring Abbot Kinney are my favorite. I'm thinking about making an LA city guide of all my favorite free things to do. Is that something you'd be interesting in reading? Happy Sunday!