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11 Struggles You’ll Relate to If You’ve Ever Been to Runyon

January 5, 2018

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Roberto Nickson

There are people like me who actually find Runyon incredibly challenging (short legs, hate cardio)—and then there’s the rest of L.A., who considers it a slight add-on to their daily workout routine.

Well, regardless of whether you resonate with the former or the latter, we can all come together and agree upon one thing: Runyon is a pain in the ass.

And after reading the 11 reasons below, there’s a good chance you’ll be thinking about this list the next time you brave that Hollywood staple:

1. You’re forced to come up with nicknames for every person you know, because you just never know what familiar face will come strolling by as you’re gossipping to your hiking partner

2. The hike just to get to the Runyon entrance can sometimes be as challenging as the hike itself

3. The water supply is scarce up there and you find your water bottle empty (and you panting for hydration) within only a few minutes of your hike

Instagram / @DahviShira

4. You’ve Ubered to Runyon before, because the $10 out of your paycheck is worth the hour of driving around in circles

5. And if you did drive, you’ve ended up having to pay for valet (which does exist at Runyon, #onlyinLA!)

Instagram / @DahviShira

6. The uphill hike itself is obviously more strenuous, but the long tippy-toe way down is straight-up tedious

7. There’s always someone skinnier and speedier dashing up those hills. As you struggle up those humps, you wonder how they make it look so simple

8. One of the only things getting you through this trek is Spotify. So when you start going in and out of service, you’re about ready to quit

9. Dogs are running wild, and while plenty are cute and all, you just never know if you might get attacked

10. You always plan on taking a cute selfie once you finally make it to the top, but you end up looking too sweaty by the time you end up getting there

Instagram / @DahviShira

11. But as it is, you’ve taken so many Instas of the view anyway that it’s a struggle to constantly come up with a new caption and new pose.

Lifestyle Featured

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same—Except in 2017

December 21, 2017

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Michal Lomza

I could easily say 2017 was “interesting.”

But that would be going with a generic adjective people use when they’re too lazy to actually come up with a legitimate description. The truth of the matter is, 2017 was horrifying (for the world), relatively bland (for pop culture) and confusing, yet motivating (for me, personally).

Well, to begin, waking up literally every single morning to a handful of L.A. Times and CNN push notifications regarding either a horrible Trump decision, a deadly fire, a mass shooting or other form of terrorist attack, was no motivating way to start a day. I get that most hard news in general isn’t good news, but it gives me chills thinking about how 2017 marked the year that Columbine was no longer one of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history. It used to be that we feared getting on a busy freeway in the rain, or walking alone to our car late at night—now it seems our lives are at risk by casually strolling down a busy sidewalk in the middle of the day. Yes, to the United States as a whole, 2017 was the the worst year I can remember.

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Alex Iby

But for me, personally, it really was an “interesting” year.

Let’s start with the craziest, most enlightening thing that’s happened to me ever: the spiritual awakening that took place right after my birthday in July.

My cousin Mollie was visiting from Boston, and she is a certified reiki specialist. I’ve had the process done in the past, and felt nothing. When Mollie performed this on me, everything transformed. It was legitimately life-changing. After feeling in a rut around my birthday, it was like my life was turned upside-down (in the best way possible). I recounted the entire experience on Sweety High, but in short, the process made me feel so much more positive, strong-willed and confident. It was incredible, and the two months or so that followed were the most amazing months I’d experienced in a very long time.

In addition to this spiritual transformation, the year had other highs. I made a difficult decision that I don’t regret for a second, I kicked a poor habit, I kept one of my new year’s resolutions (drink enough water each day!), I finally created a living space that feels like home, I finally utilized my oven, I strengthened so many friendships, I have a really fun job, I have my health and my family, and (for the sake of vanity) I finally found a haircut and color that I absolutely love (this has probably never happened).

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Amy Treasure

But amid the positives, there also was this feeling of confusion and longing for old times. This was the first year that I really noticed the change in generations. Long gone are those iconic days of AIM and BBM—and granted, they’ve been gone for quite some time, but to really see just how much everything around me has evolved or gone away in the last year was difficult in many ways, because those things from the past were connected to some of the best times of my life.

I mean, even the seasons didn’t feel the same this year. My favorite season fall totally came and went—and despite throwing my best annual fall party to date, there was barely a breezy day to the season’s name. And then you have winter, which has basically been summer reincarnated. These two seasons, which I normally love for their peacefulness and comfort, didn’t quite feel as such. I also miss busting open a magazine for a dishy breaking exclusive—now everything’s online or on social media. Little things like these all added up for me.

I also spent a lot of time worrying this year. I guess I always do that, but in the past I was more worried about what everyone else is doing, as opposed to thinking about age and the future. This year, I focused less on petty thoughts, but rather lived days in fear of what will happen to my loved ones in the future, what will happen to me in the future. Even though I held a positive outlook for the most part, as you get older, you think more about where you’ll end up, how you’ll die, if you’ll finally get married, if your parents will receive heartbreaking health news, if you and your friends will drift apart. It’s a lot to think about. I am a free-spirit in a lot of ways, but I can also be bogged down with negative thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard to live in the moment, when there’s always that what’s-to- come-next. I am so incredibly lucky in many ways, but it’s always easy to think about what you’re lacking, and that’s really difficult. And even when you are counting your blessings, you’re left wondering if something really bad is bound to happen.

When it comes to technology, some advancements have been truly remarkable. I think I speak for everyone when I say Lyft/Uber, Waze and Venmo have been life-changing. I can’t imagine a world without them. But at the same time, technology has become so advanced, that it’s really hard to keep up. Everything is about paid sponsorships. Everything is about social media. Remember when we simply posted a status update on Facebook? It’s great that we have access to so much, but I actually do long for simpler times, because now nothing’s special, nothing’s sacred. Even two years ago, I would spend countless hours finding new music and being so excited to share my findings with whoever would listen—but now, every song, every artist, everything is everywhere. Not only has music (mostly) gone to complete shit overall, but it all sounds the same, and really, finding a hidden gem just isn’t fulfilling the way it was in the past. I really miss finding rare songs on YouTube and converting them to .mp3 files that I could download to my iPod. The songs on my iPod are the best. Need to revive that thing.

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sabri Tuzcu

There’s just so much to keep up with, like especially with TV. I seriously do not get those people who watch every show. There are so many freaking shows and so many networks. I am literally blinded by all of the gigantic billboards on Sunset Blvd., because new day, new show. WTF! I really just long for those simple days of The Hills. There will never be another show like that, and those days were so classic.

Going back to the change in generations, this was this first year that cyber stars and “influencers” really came to the forefront in the mainstream. As someone who has only ever followed one YouTuber in her life (Chris Crocker—that “leave Britney alone” dude, who had a slew of funny skits in his prime), you can imagine my shock and confusion when hundreds of names I’ve never heard of (and hundreds of videos I cannot relate to) were spewed out left and right. It’s been a lot to take in. I suddenly feel like that old lady going on those “when I was your age…” rants to my much-younger coworkers. Yes, really.

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Aris Sfakianakis

For the first year ever, I found myself going to events and not recognizing a soul (whether guest or celebrity/”influencer”). And everything has become one big curated Instagram party. Don’t get me wrong, I grew to fall in love with Insta Stories this year, but for the sake of pure fun.

It’s a good thing I’m so into makeup and skincare, because goodness gracious, there is so much to keep up with in that realm. Even following it as much as I do, there’s still so much I haven’t used or heard of, but I will say, thank goodness for advancements in this area. I’ve often thought back this year to when I was in high school and I had the crappiest hair you can imagine. It was insanely frizzy, I think burnt orange (gotta love a stripey highlight from a shitty hair salon!) and I never envisioned the day I would have enviable locks. This is the very first year (thanks to services, products, tools and incredible stylists) that I’ve been able to manage my hair and feel confident with it when I leave the house. I’ve also gotta say thanks to whomever came up with highlighter for the face. GAME.CHANGER.

So in that regard, I am definitely grateful for advancements in technology and products in general.

In retrospect, 2017 was a different year, I guess you could say, but not a bad year (personally speaking). Mixed emotions, but I think it paved the way for positive steps in 2018. I firmly believe that each year makes you stronger for the next year, and quite frankly, even if I can’t relate to the current batch of youngins, I enjoy getting older for many reasons. I think life gets better each year you age. I’ve finally come to terms with the changes in generations and technology, and accepted what is the new normal. It’s still a little challenging to adapt, but alas, that’s how it’s gotta be.

Happy, healthy new year to everyone! As I sit here setting my intentions for a strong 2018, it’s interesting to go back and read my intentions for 2017, knowing what I know now. In the year to come, I would like to update my blog more (it’s been hard to balance with a full-time job), eat better and workout more (same ol’, same ol’), and continue along the path I’ve been going down, because for the most part, I’m making positive strides. I just need to put forth more effort in most areas and sometimes sacrifice fun for what’s ultimately going to make me a happier, better person. I can do it.

Angelenos Featured

29 Signs You’re a Basic Bitch in L.A.

November 28, 2017

It’s universally common to make a quick Starbucks pitstop on the way to work each day, or feel out of sorts if you don’t get at least three days of fitness into your weekly routine—but there are certain activities, interests and habits that pertain particularly to Angelenos.

Are you just like everyone else in this town? Or do you stray from the city’s beaten path?

Keep reading for 29 signs you’re a basic bitch in L.A.

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @ocvisual

1. You’re the first to request “Bad & Boujee” at the club

2. ” ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ is your go-to karaoke jam

3. You go to The Bungalow at least once a week

4. You’ve celebrated your birthday at The Bungalow at least once

5. You’ve made out with at least three people at The Bungalow over time

6. You or someone close to you has had their bachelorette at The Abbey

7. The only gay bar you’ve been to is The Abbey

8. You can’t imagine living anywhere but Santa Monica (Venice, if you’re feeling slightly more on the spendy-trendy side)

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @shannacamilleri

9. 75% of your Instagrams involve a gaggle of 4-6 gal pals toasting with either champagne or rosé

10. “Rosé All Day” is your motto—obvi

11. Your social media userpic is either a headshot, you at Runyon, you at Coachella or you in front of a mural wall (bonus points if it’s taken in Venice. Extra bonus points if it’s taken in front of wings!)

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @marianorossi

12. A day in hell for you is one in which you’ve missed Pilates

13. You think Silverlake is too far away and full of way too many hipsters

14. But… all the cool kids are going to Tenants of the Trees, so you’ll make an Eastside exception this once… or twice

15. Alfred Coffee lattes are worth every overpriced penny, in your opinion

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @thecupandtheroad

16. Alfred Coffee is your go-to when you have a day to take your laptop and roam free

17. The baristas at Alfred Coffee (whichever location) know you by name

18. You sign on to buy your Coachella tickets the second they go on sale and will stop at NOTHING to get them

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @ericjamesward

19. Coachella isn’t enough for you. You also go to Stagecoach, ’cause, you know, the more time on those Empire Polo Fields, the better.

20. You don’t usually bother with breakfast, because a Pressed Juicery is right around the corner

21. Halloween is the most important weekend in your L.A. life (besides Coachella, of course!)

22. You’re a ride-or-die Rams and Lakers fan, but you’ve never been to a Dodger game

23. The second Saturday of October is booked from now until eternity (aka when you move out of L.A.)! You’ll obvi be at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic (because polo is your fav sport and all)

Photo Credit: Pixabay

24. Your weekend morning routine goes as follows: work out, grab juice, head to flea market

25. You drive a Mercedes, BMW or Prius

26. You love going to brunch (usually in Venice), mainly so you can pack your Insta feed with photos like this:

Photo Credit: Unsplash / @brookelark

27. You consider yourself an “influencer” and can actually explain to someone in-depth what the term means

28. You refuse to tag any brand or product on social media unless you’re being paid to do so

29. When you’re not downing bottles of rosé, vodka soda is the only alcoholic beverage you’d dare consume

WHAT DOES YOUR SCORE REVEAL??

  • If only 1-9 signs pertain to you, you’ve managed to live in a metropolitan area without succumbing to everyone else’s norm. It’s hard not to be influenced by everyone else around you, but you’ve proved it’s possible. You live your most authentic life and have figured out what works for you. You’re pretty independent and don’t care about being “seen.”
  • If 10-19 signs pertain to you, you like doing your own thing, but you also love being in big crowds and running into people you know. You love to have fun, and even if it means following the norm, it’s cool with you as long as it keeps you busy.
  • If 20-29 signs pertain to you, you have a bad case of FOMO. You don’t like being apart from your group, and if you’re stuck being somewhere or doing something different from them even for a night, you’ll go crazy. It’s hard for you to adapt to new surroundings and get out of your comfort zone, but at least you have a routine that keeps you motivated and content, and people know what to expect from you.
Angelenos Featured

Married at First Sight‘s Dr. Pepper Schwartz Advises Skyelyfe Readers on How to Find Dating Success in L.A.

July 24, 2017

Angelenos, don’t expect to see any of your colleagues or acquaintances on Lifetime’s hit series Married at First Sight.

According to the show’s sociologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, “While I would never say never about anything, I think it’s unlikely for the show to happen in Los Angeles,” she tells skyelyfe. “It is very important to us that our couples are not looking for fame or a way into show business, but rather just looking for a spouse and love and marriage. There are so many actors in L.A., and so many very good actors in L.A., that I fear we couldn’t tell the committed individuals from the merely ambitious ones.”

For those out of the loop (you’re truly missing out if so!), MAFS goes through an extensive screening process to attempt to match up complete strangers who are eager to get married ASAP. Without knowing a thing about their potential new lifelong partner, they commit to marrying them based on Pepper and her expert team’s advisory. As proven on the four completed seasons (the show is currently in the midst of its fifth), 7/12 couples chose to stay married by the time their season ended and divorce was an option. Presently, two couples (all the way back from season one) are still married.

A big issue Dr. Pepper finds in some of the women in these blind marriages is FSD (Female Sexual Dysfunction), which is sexual difficulties for a woman that last six months or more, causing her personal distress. More info can be found HERE.

Keep reading for the Yale University graduate’s thoughts on the issue, along with how it’s affected members of the show and how people in L.A. can more easily navigate those pesky dating apps and dating out here in general!

(Pixabay)

skyelyfe: In your own words, please describe FSD.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz: There are four forms of FSD; the most common is lack of desire, also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Basically, it means that you have lost the feeling of wanting sexual connection and this has gone on for more than six months and the absence of feeling is upsetting and frustrating to you.

Unfortunately, despite how common this condition is, research shows that women with low sexual desire are just dealing with it by hoping it will get better or acting as if they don’t feel anything or perhaps just refusing sex all the time despite the negative impact it may have on their overall health and their relationship.

None of these approaches however are likely to solve the problem. So, there really needs to be a direct approach, which means the first step is recognizing the change in sexual drive. Then, the second step requires having an open conversation with a partner and potentially a healthcare provider or therapist to see if the situation has emotional causes or temporary physical issues, or if it is a possible medical condition called HSDD, or another form of FSD.

SL: On Married at First Sight, have you ever paired a couple who didn’t have the sexual chemistry you expected?

DPS: Yes, sexual chemistry is one of the hardest thing to predict, but we have had all kinds of surprises. In the first season, Jamie took one look at Doug and was turned off and disappointed—she crumpled in a heap after the ceremony. Later on, she fell in love with him and now they are happily married, expecting their first child. She thinks he’s adorable now and there is plenty of chemistry, so sometimes it develops. On the other hand, at the present time in this season, Danielle started out having chemistry with Cody but it seems to have evaporated or gone into deep freeze. We are surprised there is any problem there. First we thought they would find each other attractive—and indeed they did—but we didn’t expect it to go away!

SL: How does it make you feel when a couple you’ve helped set up gets a divorce?

DPS: We all feel terrible when a couple we matched decides to get a divorce. Especially since some of them started off so well and had so much chemistry and mutual admiration. Sometimes it leaves one or both people brokenhearted and of course I feel for their disappointment and dashed hopes. We do our best and try to support them as much as we can, but sometimes there are issues we couldn’t or didn’t predict and it just doesn’t last.

SL: Do you believe that L.A. truly is harder to find a match in than other cities or do you think it’s just in people’s heads? Why or why not?

DPS: I don’t know if it’s harder for Angelenos to find love than it is for other people, but I must say it’s probably stiffer competition! There are so many great looking people in this city it might be hard to just pick one.

(Pixabay)

SL: What is your best advice for mastering online dating apps in L.A. as opposed to other cities?

DPS: I would go to the sites that are not looking for a quick hook up. I would avoid Tinder and Grindr, unless you are not looking for something serious. I know people do often find spouses on these sites, but that’s not their core purpose. I would also not just pick the most gorgeous person on the site but rather pay real attention to what they write about themselves and how well they express themselves. I would also say look for tone and what they state as their goals. You want to be in sync!

SL: Any general secrets or tips you can share to dating, flirting and meeting a potential match?

DPS: It’s hard to give succinct tips on dating and flirting. There is so much to know and learn! I would say you do have to make yourself “welcoming.” People are often shyer than they appear on the surface. And, open up your categories of who you might be interested in. If you haven’t found your one and only yet, it may be that whatever you are doing or saying needs to be tweaked or seriously revamped. Use a close and honest friend to give you feedback.

Music Featured

21 Seemingly Forgotten Rap Tracks That Will Make You Miss the Mid-’00s

March 13, 2017

When most people think about the best (and certainly most iconic) era of rap music, it is without a doubt the early ’90s (1993 was particularly memorable with Ready to DieDoggystyle and Strictly for My…, among others).

And believe me, I am all about that time.

But while that magical moment in music stands out, many people may have forgotten about (what I personally consider) the next best era of rap: the mid-’00s.

I have fond memories of dashing home from college classes to catch A.J. and Free‘s daily rundown of top music videos on BET‘s 106 & Park. Hmm, or what about Big Tigg on Rap City: Tha Basement? Those were the days, man.

Don’t get me wrong, the era does get current radio representation—”Ridin’ [Dirty],” “In Da Club,” every song by The Game… but there are heaps of tracks from 2003 – 2007 (’03 was epic!) that went from being chart-topping hits to being seemingly swept under the rug—and so many of these former hits are still amazing.

And in a time like today, where everything is an autotuned, unmemorable, poppy piece of homogenized garbage, we seriously need to appreciate the good ol’ days.

I was listening to KDAY the other day and I can’t recall which song came on, but it set off this idea in me to compile some throwback gems I used to listen to all the time. Believe me, there are so many more tracks than the ones that lie in the playlist below, but consider these old-school jams—by everyone from T.I. and Yo Gotti, to Cam’Ron, Rich Boy, Paul Wall and more—a start. Enjoy!

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Angelenos Featured

If You Live in West Hollywood, You’ll Agree With These 11 Truths

March 9, 2017

If there’s one thing most people learn about me right away, it’s that I love West Hollywood (90069 to be exact!).

Not only is it my favorite part of Los Angeles, it’s also one of my favorite parts of the country. From the beautiful, brisk walks down Holloway Drive, to the familiar faces at the Fairfax Whole Foods, seriously, this place is home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the City of Angels (I say that now and watch me move to a beautiful Brentwood mansion—ahh, dreams).

Photo Credit: @rozhatch

But whether you consider this spot your permanent residence or you’re simply in-between living spaces and this happens to be a stop on the way, you totally know that there are certain things about West Hollywood that stand apart from the other L.A. cities or sections out there.

Need a little refresher? Check out the 11 truths below—I’m pretty sure you’ll agree!

1. Jesus Sightings Are Totally Normal

Yep, there’s such thing as West Hollywood Jesus, and he’s bound to pop up just about anywhere in the city, at any given time. He’s totally harmless—and so popular that he’s even landed a coveted Facebook fan page!

Photo Courtesy of Hollywood Jesus fanpage

2. The West Hollywood Public Library Is the Perfect Place to Go If You Want to Contract an Illness

This is no joke. My laptop had water damage a couple of years ago, and even though I was stressed as one can be, I looked forward to stepping into the then-newly redesigned West Hollywood Public Library across from the Pacific Design Center. What I encountered, however, was an endless string of sneezing, weird noises and funky odors for a week straight. Never. Again.

3. You May Be Approached to Purchase Roses on Any Given Outing on Santa Monica Blvd.

You’ve probably encountered a sweet Hispanic woman who nudged you to buy roses during a casual stroll on a night out anywhere near The Abbey. She’s been around for at least the 10 years I’ve lived in L.A., so she’s pretty much a staple. And in all that time, only one rose has been bought for me from her ::tear tear::

Photo Credit: @troy_david_5

4. There’s a 90% Chance You’ll Have a Vanderpump Rules Cast Member Sighting on Any Given Outing in Weho

About as likely as it is to be approached by “Roses Lady” is the likeliness you’ll spot James Kennedy (excuse me, DJ James Kennedy) flaunting his Beats headphones around his neck like a statement piece on Robertson or Santa Monica Blvd., waiting for Max Todd to get off work from Pump. But head a few doors down and you can get a glimpse of Jax putting his bartending skillz to use (yep, the gang actually works there!)

Photo Credit: @KatrinaWest

5. The Pavilions on Robertson and Santa Monica is an Around-the-Clock Hotspot—Don’t Come With a Hair Out of Place

The hype has died down a bit over the last few years, but it wasn’t too long ago that I would park my car, look in the mirror, and drive away without getting out. Couldn’t risk a run-in.

6. “Weho” Only Refers to the Area on Santa Monica Blvd., West of La Cienega and East of Doheny. Anywhere Else In the Area Is Simply “West Hollywood”

Word.

7. Enter the La Cienega-Holloway CVS at Your Own Risk (That’s All I Need to Say)

SCARY AF

8. The Sunset/La Brea Intersection Is Undoubtedly One of the Scariest in the City

Welp, aside from the endless supply of transients strollin’ the mean streets, there are also a slew of documented car accidents at these cross streets (here’s lookin’ at you, Shia LaBeouf!). But I will say, at least Mashti Malone’s ice cream and The Woods bar are two blocks away.

Photo Credit: @gurulamkin

9. The Walk Up La Cienega from Holloway May as Well Be Runyon

No time to drive to Runyon, park your car and hit the strenuous (<– for me, at least) climb? Oh, fear no more, for you have La Cienega as your fill-in hill, right? Nothing says workout quite like a “hike” up to Sunset Plaza. That trek is brutal!

10. L.A. Pride Is One of the Best Weekends of the Year

Well, that is, unless you don’t live in the “parameters” and are subjected to driving or Lyfting anywhere around the area during that time. Otherwise, Pride is the freaking best!

Photo Credit: @jemocrat

11. You’ve Entered the Black Hole of The Abbey on at Least One ‘Sunday Funday’

Enter with caution, my friends. I am most definitely guilty of one too many of these. Once you’re lured in, your day is doomed!

Lifestyle Featured

Conquering a Sober Month: the Good, the Bad and Everything You Need to Know

March 1, 2017

Ah, “Sober February” (FKA “Sober March”), parting is a mixture of such sweet sorrow and slight relief.

As most people in my life know, each year, for the last five years or so, I use the month of March as an excuse to take a moment, so to speak.

I firmly believe that regardless of your lifestyle, sometimes you need a break from everything. So by “sober,” I guess I mean that in the literal and figurative sense. Literal in terms of avoiding any mind or body-altering substances, and figurative in terms of avoiding any person, place or thing that can cloud your otherwise clear mind.

I have taken my sober month in February this year because I have a friend’s Vegas birthday this weekend, the first weekend of March, and I never cheat during my sober month.

There’s a chance you read the above sentence and thought: Ok, so you’re gonna do this whole empowering 30-day sober kick and then throw it all out the window in Vegas? Well, as someone who has done this many times, it’s not as cut and dry as one carefree weekend makes all of your progress irrelevant. That’s not the case at all. The point of the sober month is to get your goals and intentions in order so that you can do a “wild” Vegas weekend and then know how to come back to reality and get back to your normal life because you love the way you feel when you’re focused, working out and eating well. The goal is to teach yourself balance—something that can be difficult to manage sometimes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting loose, as long as it’s done in moderation.

Each year I go through my sober month, I learn more and more—about life, about myself, about how substances really alter our mind (way beyond the moment of their actual consumption). Taking on an entirely sober month is something I recommend to everyone. Sure it sounds hard, and if you live a fairly social life (like me) and you’ve never done it before, it will indeed be an initial challenge. But I can wholeheartedly say the good outweighs the bad, and everyone owes themselves a clear head (at least temporarily), right?

Keep scrolling to read 10 truths and experiences I uncovered (both positive and negative) while in the midst of my sober February this year:

1. You Must Mentally Prepare Yourself in Advance Hardcore for the Four Weeks That Lie Ahead

Committing to a full month of sobriety isn’t something you just do on a whim. You must prepare yourself for everything you’re about to experience. There are some huge benefits and motivating factors, and then there are also some sacrifices you will make for the next four weeks. Not everything is going to be fun, not everything is going to be social. You must truly ingrain in your head what you are going to take on. I advise telling yourself (and the people around you) at least a month in advance.

2. You Will Reassess Some of Your So-Called ‘Issues’ 

The biggest benefit to taking a hiatus from any kind of substance use is the clearness of the mind that the experience produces. When your head isn’t fogged you can really take a deep dive into who you are, what you want in life and what you genuinely need to work on. There are some things you’ll realize you really don’t actually need or want, but there are other things that will continue to stick out to you and you may want to take the next step and deal with them. But it’s interesting how much more clear things become.

3. Unexpected Blessings Will Come Your Way Because Your Energy Is in a Totally Different Place

You’d be surprised how much energy is taken up by the social circumstances centered around substance use. There’s the planning and anticipation (big party tonightwhat am I going to wear? Will so-and-so be there? I need to pick up mixers and alcohol), the actual doing (so basically whatever time is taken out of your day or night and put into partying) and then the aftermath (being tired, lazy, hungover, anxiety-ridden or all of the above). We seriously do not realize how much energy is taken out of us from these actions! There’s nothing wrong with it in moderation, but we also need to understand that if we put even a dose of all that energy into pretty much anything else, we’d be a lot more productive in various areas of our life. And when my energy is elsewhere, I’ve gotten new jobs, I’ve met life-changing people, there’s just so much when you’re putting a different vibe into the universe.

4. You May Find Yourself Replacing One Indulgence with Another

Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a sense of (temporary) fulfilment we feel when we drink—otherwise, why would we do it, right? When that fulfilment is no longer, we obviously need something to take its place, and yes, I’ve found that, for me at least, I began spending more money just because it made me feel good and drinking coffee seriously around the clock (before bed, after a workout, didn’t matter—it really felt great). There’s got to be a better way to counteract this.

5. You Realize You May Not Actually Be the Social Butterfly You Considered Yourself

When you’re carefree and partying, nothing sounds more fun than turning up the tunes, going out, dancing and chatting it up with whomever you encounter. But when your focus is elsewhere, being a homebody actually sounds ideal much of the time. When you’re on a sober kick, you quickly realize you don’t really have that much to discuss with everyone under the sun, with the exception of the “how’s work?” smalltalk. It can be a little frustrating. Granted, you still value your quality time with the people you feel most comfortable and fun around, but you don’t really see a point in attending every social function when you could be catching up on work, organizing your living space or working out.

6. Your Energy Level Skyrockets

Clear mind + uninterrupted Zzzs + increased daily water intake + no excuse to avoid the gym = one happy camper. I went from waking up 20 minutes before I needed to leave for work, to waking up 60-75 minutes before I need to leave for work. I’m much more excited about the day that lies ahead, I put so much more effort into my appearance, I have all these creative thoughts flowing through my mind. I am ready to conquer whatever lies ahead.

7. You Are in Full Control of Your Emotions and Decisions, and It’s Incredibly Empowering

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning contemplating whether or not someone is annoyed with you about something that transpired the night before; or feeling gross because you know you stayed out too late or took part in a regrettable action. Even one measly drink can alter our actions and reactions, so to wake up feeling completely refreshed with no qualms about anything in your control is amazing. That 8:00 AM yoga class? I’ll take it! The commitment to cleaning all day? Nothing will stand in my way! Positive outlook on life? The world is mine!

8. Large Social Functions Suck the Majority of the Time

I didn’t hit a major social roadblock during Sober Feb. until Presidents Day weekend rolled around. I had one birthday on Saturday night and one on Sunday. Up until this point, I could really pick and choose what to partake in and not make many plans should I not want to. But the birthdays during this time I felt were somewhat necessary to attend. So here’s the thing: I have absolutely zero issue with people drinking in front of me when I’m not drinking. My mind is programmed a certain way for the month, so I don’t even think about alcohol and have no desire to drink during this time. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a blast to bar-hop with a bunch of drunk people and drop it low in the middle of the dance floor with a slew of sweaty strangers, when you could be reading or doing something to maximize your free time. I am all for sober fun, but when your BFFs are getting wasted, you can’t expect them to sit quietly at a table with you when they want to let loose. And I certainly don’t expect them to. That said, I really do understand why people who are permanently sober choose not to make it out to big social functions. It’s not about the temptation (at least for me)—it’s simply just not fun. And that’s okay.

9. You’re on Your A-Game With Productivity

When you’ve got nothing standing in your way, what feels better than getting stuff done? Whether it’s taking in dry cleaning you’ve been putting off forever, finally making your living space ready for visitors, catching up on blog posts or other work-related material, putting more effort in your day-to-day appearance, working out—heck, even catching up on TV shows you’ve been hearing rave reviews about for months—you get so much done when your energy isn’t put into the wrong place.

10. You Can’t Get the Most Out of the Experience Unless You Incorporate Fitness and Clean Eating Into Your Routine

Way back when, maybe in like 2009, I did a sober month for the first time. It wasn’t for the sake of clearing my mind or working on my health or fitness. It was simply because I was going out a lot and needed a breather. Because I’d never taken on the challenge, I really didn’t know I could turn this into a life-changing experience. So instead, it was merely a month of simply feeling blah. I didn’t change my eating habits, I didn’t work out, I was my then-normal level of productive (or lack thereof)—it was basically a waste.

But several years later, once this became a tradition sort of thing, I’ve really used it to jump-start healthy habits. It’s easy to see yourself waste away as the year comes to a close, and then we push ourselves so hard during January that we’re burnt out by the end of the month. I’ve learned to kind of space things out. In January, I’ll drink significantly less and start incorporating fitness back into my life. By February I’ve turned these things into new habits and routines, and then by March I’m fine taking a month to really pound the pavement with focus. When I add fitness and clean eating into the mix of not drinking, it all melds together and gives me that aforementioned energy. I really do feel great.

Bottom Line: I highly, highly recommend this to everyone. It has nothing to do with having a drinking problem or whatever the case may be—it’s simply about giving yourself a clear mind and the opportunity to have 100% control over your life for a moment in time. It doesn’t need to be a lifelong commitment, it’s simply about cleansing and starting anew.

Food Angelenos Featured

5 L.A. Gems a Tourist Wouldn’t Know

February 21, 2017

I love a good Nordstrom browse at The Grove, a trek up Runyon Canyon (yes, I am one of the few who actually considers it a legitimate “trek”) or a night of sipping unjustifiably overpriced cocktails at SLS–but one of the best parts about L.A. is the endless potential to find under-the-radar establishments.

Whether it’s a metaphysical shop in Highland Park or a renowned Mexican restaurant in Boyle Heights, there’s always more to be uncovered in the City of Angels.

Pop TV’s This Just In star Elizabeth Stanton is an L.A. native (Hollywood proper, to be exact), and she’s providing my readers with a list of some of her favorite lesser-known spots in town. And as someone who has lived in L.A. for 10 years, I can personally say she came up with some excellent out-of-the-box places to go (in fact, she even had me stumped on a couple).

“It’s been fun growing up here because I’ve felt like I’m always in the center of everything,” the 21-year-old—who was recently listed as one of Popstar! magazine’s top 10 actresses of the year—tells skyelyfe. “Now that I’m older, I basically live in the same area, and everything’s around me—all the new, happening spots. I feel like Hollywood is a happening area to be in right now. I can’t imagine living anywhere else but L.A. I especially love the weather [laughs]. Even if people don’t want to be around the main parts of Hollywood, there are always the beach areas and smaller communities people don’t really know about.”

And with that, I dug into five L.A. gems Liz insists you must encounter if you haven’t already:

1. For the Late-Night-Nosher: Crispy Pork Gang

Open until 4:00 a.m., this Thai Town eatery’s selling point may not be its overpacked strip mall parking lot, but it does give its visitors a mouthful (a good one, that is). And like the name suggests, the standout item here is indeed crispy pork. As Jonathan Gold pointed out back in 2011, there is no shortage of its usage on the menu.

A classic soup dish at Crispy Pork Gang in Thai Town

Photo Credit: @einna_sirisack

2. For the Gamer Who Likes to Drink: EightyTwo

Umm, hello childhood! This DTLA spot is a little throwback to the days of arcade games. And pinball lovers in particular, prepare to empty out your piggy banks, because your quarters are about to go to use! But rest assured this joint has you covered in the beverage department as well. With a full bar featuring craft cocktails and 10 draft beers, there will be no dry mouths in the building.

The classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game at EightyTwo in DTLA

Photo Credit: @eightytwola

3. For the Outdoorsy Individual Who Wants to Avoid the ‘Scene’: L.A. Abandoned Zoo

Love to hike, but without the Runyon-esque mayhem? Los Feliz’ former home to wild animals is loaded with beautiful visuals and photo opps aplenty.

a group poses at the L.A. Abandoned Zoo

Photo Credit: @hoey_jeinen

4. For the Foodie Who Came Seriously Just for the Food: Papilles

There’s no fancy-schmancy shebang here. Chef Jordan Rosas brings the casual Paris-inspired bistronomique movement to a Hollywood strip mall. With a set course menu that changes daily (check their website for each day’s offerings), there’s no messing around at this spot.

A perfectly arranged dish from Papilles French restaurant in Hollywood

Photo Credit: @papillesbistro

5. For the Artsy, Avid Reader: The Last Bookstore

This DTLA dwelling has come a long way since launching in a loft in 2005. It is now the largest new and used bookstore in all of California. They also sell a slew of vintage records, they host various events and even get celebs (hi, BJ Novak) to come in to speak (or read).

couple poses at The Last Bookstore in DTLA

Photo Credit: @dom_gy

Lifestyle Featured

5 Ways to Improve the Work Day That Have Nothing to Do with Your Job

September 29, 2016

Angelenos are blessed with good weather and an endless agenda of fun things to do.

But, we also have to deal with the delights (ha!) of impossible parking, around-the-clock traffic, entitled people who think they’re famous and so on and so on.

That said, it’s easy to get caught up in the crazy energy that is Los Angeles, and sometimes even the slightest annoyance can send our day into a frenzy—and that’s not even considering what stems from our actual job!

After much thought over the years, I’ve learned how to put a positive spin on my day from beginning to end. That is, if I’m willing to put in the effort (ie. sacrificing a few extra Zzzs). Positive energy doesn’t just come with the snap of a finger—but again, if you take the time to follow these easy steps, you can have a grade-A work day that has nothing to do with your actual job.

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See what I mean below!

1. Put Effort Into Your Appearance

This is in no way meant to sound shallow—the truth of the matter is, when we do our hair, throw on a little makeup (if that’s our thing) and dress ourselves in an ensemble we adore, we feel entirely different throughout the day. Who doesn’t love walking out of the house feeling fresh, and into the office to the sound of compliments?

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2. COFFEE!!!!

This may seem like a given, because, duh, who doesn’t love coffee? But aside from the AM energy boost that it provides, along with that calming, close-to-home aroma, use coffee as an excuse to have some public interaction prior to hitting the computer, phone and whatever else you’ll need to use at work. This tip is especially recommended if you follow No. 1 on this list. Looking your best, leave your place a few minutes early and jet on over to the nearest coffee shop with the most fun early-morning crowd. There’s nothing like an 8:00 a.m. people-watching sesh to get your day going. And that caffeine kick to top it off? Sounds like the perfect starter to me!

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3. Take a Desirable Route to and from the Workplace

This one can easily be overlooked, but it’s proved to be a game-changer for me. Most of the office jobs I’ve held have been quite the commute from my quaint West Hollywood digs, and it’s taken a great deal of energy out of me over time. My latest full-time job is based approximately 80 minutes away (depending on traffic) and when I first started working there, it (aka good ol’ Waze) took me on a disastrous journey through the grimiest parts of some of my least favorite areas of L.A. I found that I’d come home feeling worn out, energy zapped. Not good. So after much trial and error, I finally navigated my way through a dream route. Don’t get me wrong, I still get massive traffic, and the distance has made it so there’s no such thing as “happy hour” in my schedule, but at least my drive is slightly (well, greatly) more scenic. In fact, it’s also cut out 10-20 minutes out of the commute. So I’d say the new drive is a win all around. Bottom line: Don’t let Waze determine your level of happiness! Don’t do it!

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4.  Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to Each Day

I don’t know about you, but even the slightest things can bring me joy. Whether it’s the release of a favorite artist’s new album, a fun open bar event, a home-cooked dinner from a friend, a cool interview I’m conducting for work, or—best of all—a rainy forecast, I always try to give myself something somewhat exciting to anticipate at some point during the day. It definitely helps me tackle some of the otherwise tedious tasks that come my way.

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5. Do Something Productive Outside of Your Job Duties

We always feel a sense of relief when we’ve completed a lengthy work project or made it through a meeting we’ve been dreading, but there’s such a sense of fulfillment that comes from doing something productive outside of the direct workplace. For instance, completing this blog post when I technically don’t have to, makes me feel like I’ve done something positive for the day. These can be minor things, they can be bigger things. Sometimes I give myself a pat on the back just for making a doctor or dentist appointment that I’ve been putting off for months (sometimes years—shh…). We’re always in need of a good room-cleaning, a trip to the grocery store, a call to a close, but distant relative, and the list goes on. Obviously starting or ending your day with a workout (regardless of the intensity) is the best way to go. But waking up super early can be rough, and sometimes all we want to do after the office is collapse on top of our comforter. So, yeah, it’s not always possible, but either way, taking care of something you’ve been putting off will enhance your day tremendously!

day-improvement-running

Food Featured

Trejos Tacos Owner Danny Trejo Shares 5 Reasons to Celebrate Taco Tuesday Tonight!

September 13, 2016

I can’t think of one person who isn’t a fan of Taco Tuesday.

Whether it’s the camaraderie, beer or tequila-filled cocktails that accompany the festive day of each week, who doesn’t enjoy kicking back after a long work day over popular lite Mexican bites?

If there’s anyone who can speak about tacos, it’s none other than Machete actor and Trejos Tacos owner Danny Trejo.

Skyelyfe recently caught up with Trejo at the V.I.P unveiling of his Miracle Mile restaurant’s taco truck.

In between noshing on cauliflower, grilled chicken and brisket tacos, while sipping on horchata, I asked the Echo Park native to provide his tips for the perfect taco, what he thinks of fast-food taco spots and much more! Scroll below for legitimately everything you need to know about everyone’s favorite Mexican food!

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1. What is your ultimate must-have taco ingredient?

Salsa, salsa! My mom had three different kinds of salsa: mild, hot and go to hell [laughs].  My dad would eat the go to hell. You get near it and you burn yourself!

2. What’s the craziest taco combination you’ve ever tried that most people wouldn’t think of?

I love meat, I love brisket. I love the brisket taco. Put anything you want in it. Put the sweet in it, put corn in it. That brisket is delicious.

3. Why do you think tacos are so popular among all cultures and generations?

I think they’re simple, they’re healthy. Even before we started this, tacos were actually healthy. I didn’t even know what gluten was, and I had a girlfriend who was allergic to gluten. So we went all over, eating tacos because tacos are gluten-free. They use a corn tortilla.

4. What’s your take on places like Taco Bell and Del Taco? Do those concepts upset you or are you guilty of indulging from time to time?

They’re killing our kids. When my kids were four and five and six, you couldn’t get them out of McDonald’s. Hey, now we’ve got this big play toy. The Happy Meal is the most unbelievable marketing tool ever. The Happy Meal that poisons your kids. Every parent in the United States is guilty of that. But now, we’ve got to start eating healthier as a nation … Taco Bell may as well be a phone company because I’ve got to say, it is the worst “healthy food” there is! It’s not good. I don’t even think that’s real meat, you know what I mean? It’s been proven that animals we eat that are dramatically killed are bad for us. That’s why we have kids who are obese.

5. What do you love most about tacos?

I love the salsa, I love the spice, I love the flavor. And then now, knowing that it’s healthy, it’s even better. I can eat all [the tacos] I want, and as long as I walk a little, I’m not going to put on any weight. And that’s what’s important—that there’s no weight going around my heart. I don’t have cholesterol because I’m eating healthy.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Trejos Tacos truck at a stop near you!

Lifestyle Featured

Seeking the Significant Other of Your Dreams? This Service Will Make It Happen–with a Fascinating Catch

August 11, 2016

happy-couple-skyelyfeMany of us have been there. The dreaded Thanksgiving dinner where we’re grilled incessantly about why we’re still single; that oh-so-lovely meal where all of our amazing qualities are listed off, and we, ourselves, are even left scratching our heads (good points, Aunt Sally, why am I single?!).

But as much as we love a good reminder of how funny, smart and wildly attractive we may be, sometimes it gets to be enough.

This is where Kyle Tabor and Matthew Homann have come into play with the creation of their pay services Invisible Boyfriend and Invisible Girlfriend (yes, you read those correctly). Name your “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” whatever you fancy, creatively choose how you two met and let the “relationship” begin!

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While meeting Tabor at a hackathon in 2013, freshly divorced Homann pitched the idea of a “fake girlfriend” app as a means to get his parents off his back. The duo and their new team built a prototype in a weekend, won the hackathon and eventually fully developed their product: a complete service that allows you to create your ideal girlfriend or boyfriend.

Once you select the desired criteria (which includes the photo of your choice) for your soon-to-be significant other, “You can then interact with them through text messages and even receive handwritten notes,” Tabor tells skyelyfe. “We actually have real people powering the other side of the service roleplaying as your partner.”

But as Tabor notices, this service–which has a strict PG-rated persona–oddly started gaining appeal for more reasons than just combatting Aunt Sally’s annual interrogation.

“Some of the best stories we’ve heard are from people who use the service to get friends off their back, but then end up getting a real girlfriend or boyfriend in real life,” he explains. “These users just want to be left alone and not date anyone, but then all-of-a-sudden they find someone. By acting like they had a girlfriend or boyfriend, it made them more confident and then suddenly they found Mr. or Mrs. Right.”

Even more than the act of finding (or pretending to find) that special someone, many users really just want someone (or something, for that matter) to talk to–even if it’s guaranteed the two will never meet (a la the movie Her).

“Technology has made us more connected than ever, but we’re also more lonely than ever,” Tabor says. “Our users are looking to connect with someone, but dating is difficult and sometimes it’s even hard to connect to friends and family. We’ve found that our users really enjoy talking to someone about the mundane parts of their day and getting uplifting feedback.”

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When it comes to what is considered real online dating, Tabor, who has been happily married for about a decade, says there’s lots of room for improvement.

“Online dating has allowed us to meet people outside our normal social circles, but it hasn’t made dating any easier,” he notes. “It’s still just as difficult to get to know someone and see if they’re a fit. We’re finding that a lot of the people in the dating market aren’t really ready for dating. Most of the people on our site are women wanting to practice dating, which is great. However, there are still lots of men out there who need to practice dating. We’re working on trying to fix that and becoming the training wheels for online dating sites.”

Although Invisible Boyfriend and Girlfriend aren’t your typical outlets for dating, Tabor has no regrets about the product or what it has done for its users. Whether to ward off the Aunt Sallys of the world, make an ex jealous, or fulfill plain and simple curiosity, the “Invisible” brand is doing its job.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Tabor says. “This was a pretty crazy idea and we had no clue how people would react to it. Before we launched, a lot of friends and family thought we were crazy. But then we showed them all the media attention we’ve received and they started to change their minds.”

As for Tabor’s usage, “I hope I never have to enter the dating scene again,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “However, I do use our service on a regular basis to test it out. I actually created my own Invisible Boyfriend and named him Ron Burgundy. He always talks about his dog Baxter and how much he loves scotch. He’s always good to talk to when I need a quick laugh.”

And as for me? Well, I have not personally tried out this dazzling gem of a product, but for a behind-the-scenes play-by-play of what it’s like to “date” an “invisible boyfriend,” a writer at Jezebel broke down her six-day relationship with every detail you can imagine.

Lifestyle Featured

This Free Online Service Takes a Modern-Day Spin On Pen Pals for Adults

June 21, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.25.50 AMBefore online dating, before MySpace – heck, before the glorious A/S/L days of AOL (which I miss terribly, btw) – there was the now-seemingly foreign concept of “pen pals.”

Whether you were connected via some kind of online group or a snail mail organization, there was a time when it was perfectly common to chat with a complete stranger from a faraway land with entirely platonic intentions.

Truth be told, such correspondences never led to much, but at the time, it just seemed so fascinating to be able to connect with people you would have never done so with otherwise.

Yoann Lopez and Sarah Marga have reinvented this idea with Happenstance, a free online service devoted to assisting “people create real friendships by helping them communicate in a more natural and human way,” Lopez tells skyelyfe.

Lopez, who had an international pen pal as a youth, met Marga at a Quora meetup several months ago. This then led to a professional partnership.

“We were talking about how hard it was for us, as grown-ups, to meet interesting people,” the Paris resident recalls. “We have our own circle and we rarely get out of it. We thought about Facebook and Twitter, of course, but relations are really superficial on these websites. You’re more a consumer of information than a friend. Therefore, we thought about how we could help people create real relationships.”

And so became their product.

“So far, without any PR or any built-in referral program like ‘invite your friends,’ we’ve had an amazing journey,” Lopez says. “More than 3000 people subscribed to the service just by word of mouth. We’re planning on building a new website with a referral program and more features so I’m sure the service will be even more successful. So far we’ve had great feedback from people having exchanged many times with their match. Of course it’s not perfect because it doesn’t always click but when it works, it works well.”

Lopez, who still exchanges emails with a match of his own, recognizes that no new product comes without its kinks.

“The main problem right now is that many people subscribed out of curiosity so they don’t really engage with their match,” he says.

As for vetting out the creeps?

“Our main solution so far is to have a longer than usual form in order to vet out the weirdos and crazies,” Lopez explains. “We’re planning to find new tools to enhance this filter because we know that as the service grows, we will get more of them.”

In an age where we have access to a never-ending supply of fresh faces, the question of why I should give the service a whirl certainly came to mind.

But, hey, as my new pen pal Luis put it when I asked him why he joined: “In order to change the civilization or to cause some good impact on the course of this planet, first you have to understand the members of such species. Any medium that allows that is good for the cause.”

Music Featured

Season One ‘X Factor’ Winner Melanie Amaro: ‘I Would Do a Lot of Things Differently’ If I Could Start My Career Over Again

April 8, 2016

Melanie-Amaro-skyelyfeIt’s been a moment since the public’s heard from Melanie Amaro, the British Virgin Islands-bred singer, who skyrocketed to popularity on the U.S. version of The X Factor.

Everything happened so fast for Amaro, who ended up winning season one of the Simon Cowell-hyped show in 2011. Following her thrilling feat, she was awarded a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music’s Epic Records and began working alongside L.A. Reid.

But as the music mogul addresses in his 2016 memoir, Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next, the pair experienced creative differences – which didn’t fare well for the aspiring star, who ended up falling off the map after 2014’s failed scheduled album release.

Fast-forward to now, though, Amaro is back and more sure of herself than ever before. Working independently, the empowering female has an EP coming out this season, and she released her new single “The One” last month (scroll to the very bottom to listen).

Skyelyfe caught up with the former reality TV contestant, who talked about how she’s changed and grown since her days on FOX’s hit show, and why she would do “a lot of things differently” if she could go back in time. Keep scrolling to read what Amaro had to say:

skyelyfe: How have you changed personally and musically since your winning season? What would surprise fans most about you from then to now?

Melanie Amaro: I have changed because I have grown as a woman and all around as an artist. I’ve learned so much. What I think would surprise fans most would be the fact that I am doing most of this musical journey on my own without the help of a label, my own money and just people around me who care to help me with what they can and I just work hard and let the music keep me going. 

SL: What have you been up to personally and professionally since your previous time in the spotlight?

MA: I have been working on being a better, stronger woman and I have explored dating a little bit [laughs]. Professionally I have never stopped working on the music. I remained in the studio and continued to work on my writing, and I even got my hands wet with a little acting.

SL: If you could do things all over again from the start of The X Factor to now, what would you do differently?

MA: I would do things a lot differently knowing what it is that I know now, I wouldn’t be so naive to the business and the people in it. I would reevaluate everything and question everything, and I would’ve stuck to my gut.

SL: Whose career do you especially admire or want to emulate? 

MA: I love the longevity of Whitney Houston‘s career, as well as Beyonce‘s. They both had a plan and stuck to it. They worked hard and got everything they wanted in the time span they wanted it. I’d love to have a career as full and prosperous as theirs.

SL: What can fans currently expect from you? 

MA: They can expect to hear music from me that is 100 percent me – the music I should’ve been making from the jump. The EP is so exciting and I can’t wait for all my fans to hear it! 

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Music Featured

Three Rising Indie-Pop Artists You Need to Listen to Right Now!

March 29, 2016

allie-x-chelsea-lankes-party-nails-skyelyfeWhen it comes to pop music, I feel like we are in dire need of some fresh talent.

There’s only so much I can take on the radio currently (missing you immensely 2010, 2011 [ie. Loud, AnimalPink Friday, Teenage DreamFemme Fatale]).

That said, I have not lost complete hope in the state of pop. Besides, the realms of Top 40 rotation aren’t where I should be looking in the first place (obviously).

So, I bring you a list (and playlist at the very bottom) of three incredible up-and-coming independently signed artists with beautiful voices, powerful lyrics and catchy melodies that don’t make me want to drill my head into a wall.

Ok then! Keep scrolling to learn about Chelsea Lankes, Allie X and Party Nails:

  • Chelsea Lankes – Don’t be fooled by this singer’s Fort Worth, Texas, upbringing. She is anything but country! The edgy sometimes-brunette has already racked up an impressive selection of tracks about love and heartbreak in her short career, with vibrant melodies to accompany her strong lyrics. For those who still have energy after Coachella week one, check out Lankes live at The Satellite in Silverlake on Monday, April 18!
  • Allie X – The 30-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter (aka Alexandra Hughes) is on the brink of making it big. Not only does she have a handful of solid synth-pop releases, but she has also notably penned multiple tracks for previous tour mate Troye Sivan, while receiving a nod of acknowledgement from Katy Perry in regards to her biggest single “Catch,” which the “Roar” singer Tweeted is a “spring jam.”
  • Party Nails – The name says it all! Fresh on the music scene with two energetic singles, New York native Elana Belle Carroll wastes no time posting manicures and other such happenings around town on her social media pages. By the electro-pop sound of the 20-something’s songs and her vibe in Cyberspace, there’s no doubt we should all want to party with Party Nails — or at least hear her songs at parties. Get one step closer to that goal by checking her out at The Satellite on Friday, April 8.

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Lifestyle Featured

American Made Supply Co.: Your Latest One Stop Shop for All Things Comfort!

March 29, 2016

AMSCO-girl-skyelyfeWith American Apparel currently in shambles, consumers need a fresh avenue to obtain their basic wardrobe needs.

After touring the spacious headquarters of recently launched American Made Supply Co. last week in Los Angeles, there’s no question that this brand is well on its way to success in the comfort space.

Like American Apparel, Alternative Apparel and other companies of the same nature, AMSCO offers options for both men and women, and in either solid colors or custom prints. With an impressive mid-$20 price point for the majority of its items, AMSCO specializes in a vast selection of styles, including classic tee, v-neck tee, baseball tee, terry hoodie and terry shorts (for guys), and classic tee, baggy tee, deep v-neck, flowy tank, oversized crop and terry zip-up (for ladies). Each article is accompanied by a tiny sewn-in American flag tag on its side.AMSCO-GUY2-skyelyfe

The brand is the brainchild of J. Winklepleck and Jordan Hunnell, who have both worked in the fashion industry for multiple decades combined. Between the two men, they’ve collaborated with a wide range of household retail names, including Pacific SunwearVolcomRVCA, James Perse and Lucky Brand.

Operating with the motto “If you look good you feel good,” the company makes sure even its packaging has the perfect touch of cuteness. I mean, does it get any better than garments wrapped in “You are AWESOME” tissue paper?!

Beauty Featured

Love Goodly: Your Latest Subscription Box Obsession (and Alicia Silverstone May Have Something to Do with It)!

March 16, 2016

Alicia Silverstone x Love Goodly-skyelyfeThe granola association is a no-go for these two cutting-edge, eco-friendly females!

Decades-long vegan Katie Bogue Miller and plant-based Justine Lassoff, both formerly of LovingEco, have a longterm professional investment in the eco-friendly space, and their latest chic brand development is sure to appeal to pretty much any woman, regardless of their level of environmental awareness.

Love Goodly, the Los Angeles-based ladies’ Birchbox-esque subscription box, features luxury, non-toxic, cruelty-free, full-sized beauty, nutritional and home
products for just $39.95 bi-monthly.

Launched in August 2015, the brand just collaborated with longtime vegan, PETA enthusiast and The Kind Life blogger/actress Alicia Silverstone (more on that below) for next month’s Earth Day-inspired box in celebration of the April 22 holiday.

LG-April-Box-Shoot-skyelyfeSkyelyfe recently took a tour of the Love Goodly headquarters in Downtown L.A. and chatted with the lovely ladies of the company they described to Forbes as a “Green Sephora.”

Kindly gifted with one of February’s Valentine’s Day-themed boxes, the assortment of high-end products (LVX high gloss nail polish, Purely Elizabeth muesli mix, May Yeung infinity bracelet, SkinnySkinny body soap and Cellar Door candle) went to immediate use. And the verdict? Two thumbs way up!

Read on to learn more about the hand-picked products, Silverstone’s involvement and what sets this box apart from other subscription boxes besides the environmentally friendly aspect.

Justine-Katie-Cofounders-outdoors-skyelyfeskyelyfe: I love this concept! Give me a general overview of these boxes and their products.

Katie Bogue Miller: We’ve been able to harness the relationships we’ve had with these brands for seven years, and we’ve kind of become experts in this space. At Love Goodly, we’re helping women discover brands that are better for you and better for the environment. Everything in each box and on our website is non-toxic, cruelty-free, vegan and we offer a mix of products. It’s a little heavy on the beauty and skincare just because we listen to our customers and that’s what they like. And then we offer a healthy snack or a candle and a stylish accessory like a bracelet or a necklace. We have two charity partners: Farm Sanctuary and Cure Cervical Cancer.

SL: I heard that Alicia Silverstone came on board for the April box. How exciting! How did that come to be?

KBM: As a longtime vegan, and recent vegan mom with a vegan toddler, I have been inspired by Alicia Silverstone and her Kind Life blog. She was a natural choice as guest curator for Love Goodly, as a health advocate and leader of the Kind Movement.

SL: Aside from the products being eco-friendly, what makes these subscription boxes different from all of the others?

KBM: Curation is the key for us, really. We try everything, use everything. Some other boxes are filled with a bunch of samples, but ours contain full-sized products, and we have a mix of products so it’s not just another beauty box.

Justine Lassoff: Also, the value sets us apart from others. Each box is worth more than $85, so you get a lot of value for what you’re getting in the box. But, as Katie said, a lot of the other companies just want to get samples in, so if you’re a company, you can just send free samples and so you get just a bunch of tiny products. None of them are really that great, so we took the other route. We carefully research each brand and make sure it’s a great brand. I think it’s just a better experience because you’re not just going to open a box and throw these away. Because of our past, we have a lot of connections to brands, so we do exclusives, too. You can’t find some of our products anywhere else.

KBM: Also, we have eleven values on our site. So, whether it’s gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan – all of our products have many of those values in them. Also, a mission of Love Goodly is to get rid of that kind of granola stereotype. So all of our products are luxury, too. It’s an added perk that they are vegan or cruelty-free. We don’t even necessarily lead with vegan. It’s just this great box and there are these great standards behind the products.

JL: One of the values is give back to charity, so with a lot of the brands we carry, not only do we give a percentage back to charity, but a lot of the brands themselves give back to charity.

Lifestyle Featured

4 Tips to Nailing the ‘Athleisure’ Look Like a Celeb!

February 17, 2016
Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

Long gone are the days when women get supremely excited about the thought of breaking in a new pair of jeans. Not to say denim is out, but now, at least if you’re in most parts of Los Angeles, we all know it’s much more about activewear. Far more casual (but not necessarily less expensive), Lululemon, Fabletics and Teeki (to name a few) have really brought this laid-back look to the forefront, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

But unlike with the good ol’ Juicy Couture sweatsuits we all know and love (you know you have your share stored away somewhere deep in your closet), mastering the “athleisure” look is really a craft – you can’t just throw one of these suits together and go about your day. It’s a full-blown style that the Gigi Hadids and Kylie Jenners of the world wear effortlessly (go figure).

Luckily, I’ve enlisted the guidance of the owners of Brentwood‘s trendy Sweat NSK activewear boutique to provide skyelyfe readers with some major pointers to pulling off this casual-chic trend!

Photo credit: zjtakesphotos.com

Photo credit: zjtakesphotos.com

Keep reading for tips from Karen Sun and Natalie Fritz, and scroll to the very bottom to find out about what the two ladies, plus fellow co-owner Susana Yee, have to say about their favorite workouts/studios, favorite places to shop and overall favorite places to venture through in the City of Angels.

1. If unsure, start with a brand known to fit universally well

“One of my favorite lines is actually Vie Active,” Sun says. “I think that’s a great line that everyone can wear – tall, short, it doesn’t really matter. It has great compression, they’re very flattering. The woman who started Vie Active is very active, herself, and is very thoughtful in terms of how she’s produced her line … [The bottom line is] don’t be uncomfortable and trust your instincts.”

Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

2. Find the right legging for your body

“Where you can go wrong is wearing a legging that’s too long or too short or not the right color or print for you,” Fritz says. “The legging is such the core of your ‘look’ that if you go wrong there, then it just kind of — it isn’t good.”

3. Be sure to nail the outerwear

“The outerwear pulls it all together,” Fritz says. “Whether it’s a cute LNA sweater or a vest or a great Dolman sweater, something like that really pulls it together.”

4. Check out photos of Naomi Watts

“I think who always looked really good – when she lived here, we used to see her – is Naomi Watts,” Fritz says. “She always had something unique, and she would style it a lot in ways we would, like with a cute T-shirt rather than with a fitted Lululemon top. She always had a little touch to it. It wasn’t ever anything over-the-top, but it was cool and subtle and had a little fashion edge to it.”

Like the pointers? Read about the ladies who provided them!

Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

Photo credit: sweatNSK.com

Karen

Overall favorite workout: Boot camp class and spinning

Overall favorite workout studio or gym, etc in LA: Studio K in Pacific Palisades

Favorite restaurant in LA:  Freds at Barneys

Favorite clothing designer or brand (not fitness related): Isabel Marant

Favorite place to shop (aside from own store): Heist in Venice

Favorite city or section of LA: Abbott Kinney in Venice

Years lived in LA:  forever ❤️

Natalie

Overall favorite workout: Boot camp class and Pilates

Overall favorite workout studio or gym, etc in LA: Nova Pilates

Favorite restaurant in LA: Giorgio Di Baldi

Favorite clothing designer or brand (not fitness related): Isabel Marant

Favorite place to shop (aside from own store): Isabel Marant Boutique

Favorite city or section of LA: West Hollywood

Years lived in LA: 20 plus years

Susana

Overall favorite workout: Running

Overall favorite workout studio or gym, etc in LA: Burn 60

Favorite restaurant in LA: Sqirl

Favorite clothing designer or brand (not fitness related): IRO

Favorite place to shop (aside from own store): IRO on Abbot Kinney

Favorite city or section of LA: Arts District

Years lived in LA: 20 years

Sweat NSK

11731 Barrington Ct.

Los Angeles, CA 90049

310.476.4636

info@sweatnsk.com

Lifestyle Angelenos Featured

Peace Out, Gym! These L.A. Workout Deals Are Going to Blow Your Mind, Not Your Bank Account!

February 4, 2016

yoga_fitness_skyelyfeYou may recall my post from about a year ago, in which I compiled some of the best fitness deals in Los Angeles. Well, I’m back for round two. And let’s just say, you may morph into an overnight yogi (a la me!) after reading some of these over-the-top steals!

Going off of the above statement, let’s get into the yoga deals first, because there are a handful, and they are each from highly recommended places.

And then keep reading for additional deals in everything from Martial Arts to Pilates and more. There’s no excuse not to extend those 2016 resolutions through the rest of the year!

YOGA

  • YOGAWORKS – Studio offering traditional yoga classes, integrated yoga/dance/circuit training classes and tranquil sessions.

INTRO SPECIAL: TWO WEEKS UNLIMITED = $25 (all locations apply!)

1057 N. Fairfax Ave.

West Hollywood, CA 90046

323.654.2125

(with additional locations in Hollywood, Studio City, Brentwood, Koreatown, Larchmont, Pasadena, Playa Del Rey, Santa Monica, El Segundo, Westlake Village, Tarzana, Valencia and Woodland Hills)

  • MODO YOGA – This hot yoga studio offers classes that stretch, strengthen and tone the muscles while helping to detoxify the body and calm the mind.  

INTRO SPECIAL: 30 DAYS UNLIMITED = $40!

340 S. La Brea Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

323.938.5000

  • LIBERATION YOGA – Studio offering varying classes based on experience levels, along with all-ages family classes.

INTRO SPECIAL: 30 DAYS UNLIMITED = $45!

124 S. La Brea Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

323.964.5222

  • HOT 8 YOGA – Studio offering more than 200 classes per week at varying levels of intensity, including hot yoga, hot power fusion, hot power yoga, hot yoga sculpt (with weights) and hot yoga barre.

INTRO SPECIAL: 30 DAYS UNLIMITED = $45 (all locations apply!)

8383 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 75

Beverly Hills, CA 90211

310.986.6420

(with additional locations in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Pasadena)

  • BIKRAM YOGA SILVERLAKE – Hot yoga studio offering 90-minute sessions with 26 postures and two breathing exercises.

INTRO SPECIAL: 30 DAYS UNLIMITED = $45!

3223 Glendale Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90039

323.668.2500

  • NAMASTE HIGHLAND PARK – An all-inclusive urban oasis that offers everything from Hatha Flow and vigorous Vinyasa, to Yoga Sculpt, Yin Yoga and meditation.

INTRO SPECIAL: 3 WEEKS UNLIMITED = $30!

5118 York Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90042

pilates_fitness_skyelyfePILATES

  • STUDIO MDR Sebastien Lagree‘s total-body program melds together elements of Pilates, cardio training and weight-bearing activities.

INTRO SPECIAL: ONE WEEK UNLIMITED = $30 (all locations apply!)

13357 Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90066

310.881.9467

(with additional studios in Marina Del Rey and Playa Vista)

MISCELLANEOUS WORKOUTS

  • BASECAMP FITNESS – This high-intensity workout consists of 30 one-minute workouts that include Air Assault bike movements, body weight exercises and weight lifting. This is one of the quickest workouts in town!

INTRO SPECIAL: ONE WEEK UNLIMITED = FREE!

8714 Santa Monica Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

424.323.0555

  • THE PHOENIX EFFECT – Studio offering community-driven, full-body, group fitness sessions.

INTRO SPECIAL: ONE WEEK UNLIMITED = $5!

7264 Melrose Ave.

West Hollywood, CA 90046

323.380.5528

  • NOVO BODY FITNESS – Studio offering weight-lifting workouts that target the fat-burning zone and sculpt lean muscle, while increasing metabolism.

INTRO PACKAGE: 3 SESSIONS = $33!

15928 Ventura Blvd. Ste. 108

Sherman Oaks, CA 91436

818.501.2639

  • STUDIO CITY MARTIAL ARTS  – Studio teaching best practical applications of self-defense, as well as movement for development of strength, flexibility and balance for a strong, hard body, and mediation techniques for a strong, clear mind.

INTRO SPECIAL: TWO WEEKS UNLIMITED = FREE!

12418 Ventura Blvd.

Studio City, CA 91604

818.769.5866

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Food Featured

Here’s the Final Addition Needed In Your Bar Cart (Trust Me, You’re Really Missing Out)!

February 2, 2016

pickle_juice_chaserLemon, lime, soda – what do these have in common? They are among the most popular cocktail accompaniments and chasers.

But when we think of our stocked bar musts, it’s doubtful that pickle juice comes to mind. Am I right? But this Potassium-filled liquid has been used with alcohol for years, and complements shots of whiskey (Picklebacks) and tequila (Tijuana Hookers) so well that a new brand is on the market in huge bottles known as the Pickle Juice Chaser.

The PJC is built on the functional properties of pickle brine. It has the added benefit of providing ten times more electrolytes, along with vitamins, potassium and zinc.

Given that I fully abstain from tequila, and whiskey is far from my go-to, I didn’t really ever have any use for the juice in the past. But when I was recently gifted whiskey on two occasions in the same week, I figured I may as well see if this pickle juice trick lived up to its reputation. Sure enough, between friends and I, we were flying through bottles, realizing that this magical little chaser worked with pretty much any type of alcohol (I mean, use at your own discretion, of course – it does taste like pickles). It really helps rid the burn and harsh taste of some of the more potent selections people tend to sip. And it can be used for specialty cocktails as well (scroll to the very bottom for recipes!).

After more research, I found that The Pickle Juice Company (which launched the aforementioned one-of-a-kind chaser) also has a line fully devoted to athletes, as apparently pickle juice helps prevent muscle cramps, and is sugar-free, caffeine-free, GMO-free and gluten-free, unlike so many of the sports drinks on the market.

It’s only Tuesday, but hopefully the below recipes will have you feeling a little adventurous come the weekend – Cheers!

Dill Pickle Martini

  • 2 oz. dry gin
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Pickle Juice Chaser
  • 1 slice of a dill pickle (for garnish)

Put ice in a mixing glass and add the gin, vermouth and Pickle Juice Chaser. Stir for about one minute. Strain the liquid into a martini glass and garnish with a dill pickle slice.pickled_surfer_skyelyfe

The Pickled Surfer

  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Pickle Juice Chaser
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • Old bay seasoning for garnish (optional)
  • A few pickle slices (optional)

In a glass with ice, mix together the whiskey, Pickle Juice Chaser and lime juice and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a pickle slice sprinkled with old bay seasoning.

Food Angelenos Featured

PHOTOS: The Abbey Just Upgraded Its Food & Drink Menu in a Major Way – and Skyelyfe Tried All the New Items First!

January 28, 2016


The_Abbey_Hot_Mule_SkyelyfeThe Abbey Food & Bar
has never had a problem drawing a crowd, but their upgraded gourmet food and drink menu is sure to make the iconic West Hollywood hotspot a go-to for more than just its incredibly strong cocktails and half-naked go-go dancers.

In celebration of its upcoming 25th anniversary in May, the venue has enlisted the help of mixologist Armando Conway (Pour Vous, La Descarga, Harvard and Stone, Hakkasan) to create a selection of new sips that feature fresh herbs and house-made juices and syrups, while Chef Andrew Smith has kept busy in the kitchen with new shared plates and comfort food.

I got a firsthand taste of the latest additions last week with a delicious eight-course food and drink pairing, presented by famed owner David Cooley. My mouth is watering just thinking about the turkey meatloaf, warm quinoa salad and crab cakes, in particular. And even in wintertime, the cocktails were so light and fresh, I felt like I was lounging on an island during summer vacation. I could definitely go for one of their spicy Mules right now (ok, maybe in a few hours).

The Abbey, a two-time winner of Logo/MTV’s Best Gay Bar in the World award, doesn’t just serve up dinner. Daily lunch and weekend brunch are also big hits among consumers!

The_Abbey_Effen_Relaxed_skyelyfe

The_Abbey_LGBTA_Sandwich_skyelyfe

The_Abbey_Crab_Cakes_skyelyfe

The_Abbey_Jalapeno_Lime_Margarita_with_Barrel_Aged_Patron_skyelyfe

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Food Featured

Cheers! This New App Gets You One Cocktail Each Day, Compliments of the Bar!

January 20, 2016

Hooch_app_skyelyfeI’ll drink to this!

A brand new app called Hooch allows users (currently based in Los Angeles and New York – and soon in San Francisco, Miami and Hong Kong) a cocktail per day for a total cost of less than one drink per month (yes, you read that correctly).

The app download is free, and for a mere $9.99 a month or $99.99 a full year, partnering venues offer Hooch users a drink of the bar’s choice each day. Only one drink total can be redeemed each day, but with the quantity of hotspots onboard, you’re bound to start discovering fresh cocktail concoctions and different places to sip them.

Not since the Los Angeles Passport program have I heard of anything remotely similar in my part of town, but unlike with a purchase of that option, Hooch (which was created by nightlife veteran Aleksey Kernes, tech industry expert Lin Dai and digital marketing entrepreneur Jared Christopherson) is valid all year ’round and beverage costs are entirely eliminated, not just discounted.

So, where did I break in my newfound drinking privileges? Pump, of course! With just a quick app glance from the manager – voila – I was whipped up a fruity, very Pump-esque martini of the restaurant’s choice, hassle and cost-free.

Other L.A.-based options include Belmont, Rock and Reilly’s Irish Pub, The London West Hollywood, Bar Lubitsch, The LarchmontGolden Gopher and Shore Bar, to name a few – so get to sipping!

But as always, drink responsibly – and don’t forget to tip your bartender!

Beauty Featured

Golden Tote: This Online Service Offers Personalized Styling + 6 New Wardrobe Items for Under $150 Total!

December 2, 2015

Golden_Tote_skyelyfeIt’s holiday season – and although it’s better to give than receive, why not treat yourself to a little something (or somethings) to reward yourself for making it through yet another year?

Regardless of what ups or downs came your way during 2015, what better way to close out the last 12 months and make heads turn at those festive December shindigs than with some new wardrobe additions (under $150 before tax) by courtesy of a detailed personalized styling session completed online?

Golden Tote – founded in L.A. by Anthropologie‘s trendy Puella designers Sarah Becker and Sarah Sweeney – is here for all your affordable styling needs! With just a few clicks (and only a few $$), you’ll have your very own decorative tote chock fGolden_Tote_duo_skyelyfeull of new high-quality goodies based on your own preferences. While this website is geared toward women, men can easily take advantage of the options for their wives or significant others!

I tried the service for myself, and within just a few days, I was sent six surprise items based on very specific variables. And as of my tote’s arrival, my new black jeggings and multicolored flannel have been practically glued to my body. This is a no-fail innovation!

To try it out for yourself, head to the Golden Tote website, choose the size of your tote (small is $49 filled with 2-3 pieces; large is $149 with 5-6 pieces). Then answer the array of questions used to get to know what best satisfies your wardrobe and body needs. Next thing you know, you’ll be on your way to easing out of 2015 with a fashionable bang!

Love the concept? Golden Tote isn’t limited to just the holidays, obviously. Like any online boutique, the company brings in different styles year ’round!