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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I’m so happy to announce that Style Bites, the TV series I wrote, directed, produced and hosted, is airing daily on The Lifestyle Network! Check it out at 6am/12pm/6pm/12am PST on DirectTV, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Full episodes are also available on YouTube.

I was blessed with the opportunity to create my own show back in January and it’s been a whirlwind ever since! I haven’t had a chance to recap my wonderful experience as it’s been an extremely busy few months! So, I’d like to share a bit about my adventure with you now…

Style Bites is based on this blog, Your Gal Kara: Your Glam, Affordable and Luxurious Resource.

Watch Highlights from Season 1 of Style Bites here!

As you all know, I am a true fashionista! I love fashion magazines, watching (and walking in) runway shows and learning about new designers and collections. And like a true style savvy gal, I love a fashionable deal! After all, I’ve been working in the fashion industry since I was a teen; from modeling, styling and producing shows to creating PR campaigns for new and renowned brands, I’ve done it all!

Some of you may not know that I come from a family of restaurateurs. The Thai women in my family have been in the restaurant business since I can remember, and food has always been at the center of my life. I love to cook and experiment with new spices and recipes. And my biggest love in life is to travel and explore world cuisines! 

It seemed like a natural fit for me to create a show that combines my two loves, fashion and food! Style Bites grants exclusive access to the latest restaurants and hotspots, offers tips on how to achieve the latest trends and reveals coveted secrets from fashion and beauty insiders. "Style Bites is the ultimate bible on chic living," said Olivia de Jesus, Managing Director for ABS-CBN International North America.

Style Bites

Glam Guide breaks down the hottest fashion trends from the runway to the red carpet. Learn practical tips and discover affordable finds to help you live with flair. Featured guests include Halston Heritage, Liza Stewart Showroom, L.K. Bennett, IFBB Pro Gigi Amurao, Aerithe and Linea Pelle.

Designer Dish grants exclusive access to the industry’s top designers, exclusive events, fashion previews, and beauty hotspots. Indulge with an in-depth look at today’s most coveted style influencers. Featured guests include celebrity brow expert Kelley Baker, Traffic Women at the Beverly Center, butterflyzebra, Lou Razon, Calleen Cordero and Sew Down.

Style Bites also gives audiences a Taste of the Town, a premier table at must-try restaurants that guarantees to satisfy cravings for unique food finds and mind-blowing cuisine. Featured restaurants include supperclub LA, Crème Caramel LA, Crustacean Beverly Hills, White Rabbit Truck, Paiche and Cornell Winery.

And if just a taste is not enough, learn to Cook Like A Chef. Walk into the kitchens of renowned chefs and tastemakers as they share their most celebrated recipes that you can make at home. Featured chefs include Coreen Peralta of Tia Conchita Brands, Frankie Garcia of Local 1205, Nick Nishi of Hamakaze Sushi & Izakaya, Marius Blin of Esterel, Penpim Jittorn of Thailand Plaza and Carolos Tamazos and Lisa Crossman of Waterloo & City.

Check back here for behind the scenes photos from Style Bites season one, as well as full length videos of all 24 segments. I’d love to hear from you to see what you think of the show, so feel free to leave your comments below. And if you have a favorite designer, fashion tip or restaurant that you think I should feature in a future episode, let me know too!

Thanks to everyone for your love and support! xo

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Live Your Dreams on the Flying Trapeze

Sex and the City fans will surely know the episode when Carrie attempts the flying trapeze. Ever since I saw Carrie struggle with doing a catch, I’d always been inspired to step outside my comfort zone and try the trapeze one day. This past July, my dream of flying through the air with the greatest of ease became a reality.

“I could never! I have the most terrible fear of heights!” – Charlotte

“Well, I do not…you’ve seen my shoes.” – Carrie

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I’ve never been scared of heights. I enjoy roller coasters and I love an incredible view atop the highest skyscrapers. And not unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I live for my high heels. So I’m not quite sure what came over me when it was my turn to jump off the platform at TSNY Los Angeles.

The Trapeze School New York made its debut in the Big Apple in the summer of 2002. Shortly after, HBO featured the school in the popular Sex and the City episode “The Catch,” and the thrill-seeking phenomenon was born. It was only natural that the trend would hit the west coast, with TSNY Los Angeles opening an oceanfront facility on the Santa Monica Pier in 2008. With the beautiful Pacific Ocean on one side and the lively amusements of the pier all around, this is truly the perfect location.

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After a brief 15-minute training session on land, it was time for my first flight. All around me were kids and teens looking cool as cucumbers as they awaited their turn. I knew I had to hold it together, but deep inside my heart was racing. Although I did gymnastics as a kid, I was terrified of getting up on the rig and jumping off. The sounds of kids screaming on nearby rollercoasters rang in my ear, only making me more nervous. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I climbed the metal ladder. My hands started to sweat while my breath quickened. When I reached the top and looked at the world below, I knew there was no turning back. With the guidance of a TSNY instructor, I put both hands on the heavy trapeze bar. In between long, deep breaths to calm my nerves, I anxiously listened to the instructor as she held on to my harness. My body was positioned with my weight forward to grasp the bar and my toes over the edge of the platform. All I could think was if she let go of the harness, I’d fall. I was told to listen to her exact cues. When she says “Ready,” I’m to bend my knees, and when she says “Hep,” I’m supposed to jump forward with my two feet together and swing through the air.

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With the word “Ready” echoing in my ear, my mind suddenly went blank. When she said “Hep,” I completely froze. I shook my head apprehensively while the instructor said, “Why don’t we try that again. Take a deep breath, you’re going to do great.”

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Before I know it, I’m holding on to the bar with all might and flying through the air faster than I’d imagined. When I reach the end of my first swing, I feel the sensation of free falling as I fly back towards the platform. I unconsciously let out a huge scream, as I lift my legs through the bar to perform a knee hang. Success. Now I’m to let go of my hands and extend my arms to simulate a catch. Success, again. Everyone around me cheers as I release from the bar and fall to the net below. My body is already sore and I’m out of breath…but I’m addicted. I want to fly again and again, and perfect my form with every swing.

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After several practice flights that day, we end the class by attempting to do a catch. Only a few of us have received high enough praise from the instructors to try this release move; as I’m one of the four, I already feel a sense of accomplishment. But the challenge was before me, and I was more determined than ever to perfect this move.

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As I climbed the ladder for my final flight, I realized that all my fears from the start of class had disappeared. Once I learned to let go, I had the most fun that I’ve had in a long time. As it turns out, flying on the trapeze was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Not only did I conquer my fears, but I lived one of my greatest dreams, and I had a hell of a time doing it!

Do you think I was able to complete the catch? Watch this video to find out!

“When you’re young, your whole life is about the pursuit of fun. Then, you grow up and learn to be cautious. You could break a bone or a heart. You look before you leap and sometimes you don’t leap at all because there’s not always someone there to catch you. And in life, there’s no safety net. When did it stop being fun and start being scary?” – Carrie Bradshaw

**Thanks to Blake Brody In-Studio Footwear for the best shoes for the flying trapeze! Not only are these adorable and comfortable flats great for barre and pilates, but they were perfect for my circus adventure with TSNY Los Angeles.  They provided incredible support and protected my feet from the safety net!

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Good Dresses for Traveling: eHow Style Video

The summer travel season is officially upon us!  But before we head to distant lands for some much deserved R&R, we need to do a little prep work – the most important being to pack a well stocked and versatile wardrobe!

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Here are some tips to keep in mind when packing for your upcoming vacation:

1) Pack clothing and accessories that are versatile.  Jeans, nice shorts, skirts, and good fitting dresses (short or maxi) are great travel options that can be dressed up or down.  Solid color tanks, tees and blouses are also smart choices.

2) Create multiple outfits by mixing and matching your items.  For example, wear a dress with flat sandals for day and when night falls, swap them out for sexy heels and jewelry.

3) Select items that travel well, are breathable and don’t wrinkle easily.  Cottons, knits, poly-blends, and silk jersey are best.

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I recently shot a Style video for eHow.com, with some great tips on how to pick the best dresses for traveling.  Watch it by clicking here.

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GAL Find – Missoni Loves Havaianas

Don’t these fab sandals just scream summer!?  My latest GAL find are these bright, limited edition “Missoni Loves Havaianas” flip flops (Nordstrom, $70). 

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A stylish combination of two of my favorite brands, these are definitely on my summer wish list!  Not only are these flip flops comfortable, water resistant, and super chic, but they’re an affordable designer shoe that won’t break the bank.  Rock these iconic Missoni printed thongs with everything from a bikini and shorts to a maxi dress.  They’d also be the perfect shoe to pack for your summer getaway!  Look at the cute travel bag that comes with each purchase! 

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This GAL find is selling out fast, so scoop them up while you can!  Happy Shopping! 

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GAL Travel – Mayan Calendar Draws Budget Tourists to Mexico in 2012

With the end of the 5,126 year-long Mayan calendar in December, tourists are flocking to the Riviera Maya region of Mexico! 2012 is definitely the time to travel to the Yucatán Peninsula, especially if you’re looking for an out of this world experience in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.

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The Riviera Maya is just south of Cancun and offers affordable but luxurious amenities, tranquil beaches, and rich cultural significance, making it a desired destination for travelers of all ages.

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If you plan well enough in advance, there’s still time to find airfare deals online. On Travelocity.com, flying from Tuesday to Tuesday in mid-May (from Los Angeles) will cost either $459 (Aeromexico) or $510 (American Airlines) for a roundtrip ticket. That’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than buying an airplane ticket to other popular destinations such as Hawaii or Europe.

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Hotels in the Riviera Maya have also decreased their rates dramatically, with hopes that tourists will return to the region despite the negative press the country has experienced in recent years. One of my favorite hotels is Hacienda Tres Rios, an eco-friendly resort set amongst a 326 acre nature park. For a limited time, this lavish resort is offering their lowest rate ever to families of 4 (with 2 children under 12). For just $135 per adult per night, a family can indulge with the Endless Luxury plan, including the suite, an all inclusive meal plan for all plus unlimited alcoholic beverages for the adults, and infinite access to the many tours and activities available on the property. This is truly an incredible bargain!

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Fun and adventure for those that love the outdoors is endless in this area of Mexico. Crystal clear blue waters are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling, while the many underground caves and cenotes make for a unique day of hiking, swimming and exploring. The Riviera Maya is also known for zip line tours, the perfect option for thrill seeking travelers!

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By far, the most enticing tourist attractions in the region are the remains of the Mayan culture. There is nothing like soaking in the rich history and magnitude of the Mayan ruins, up close and in person. The seaside Mayan city of Tulum is said to be one of the most well preserved ancient relics, with the cooling waters of the Caribbean Sea just steps away to keep you refreshed after a long day of walking. The ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek-Balam are also just a few hours away, and make for an ideal day trip.

Take my word for it that the Riviera Maya is a must visit destination, no matter if you go in 2012 or in the years to come. Whether you’re traveling solo or with you family, this tropical paradise has a little something for everyone. And the best part is, you won’t break the bank!

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GAL Travel – St. Kitts & Nevis (Leeward Islands, Caribbean)

St. Kitts & Nevis are a set of tropical island gems in the West Indies.  Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are the two sister islands, rich with history, culture, and lush vegetation.  Locals, known as Kittitians, are warm, gracious, and welcoming.  The beauty of the island and serene environment is intoxicating, and after a few days, you’ll be limin’ (Kittitian for “relaxing”) like a local!  The delectable West Indian cuisine and native seafood are a food lover’s dream, while the sugar cane rum cocktails pack a powerful punch!  If you want to discover a unique tropical oasis, St. Kitts & Nevis is a must visit vacation destination! Read More…

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GAL Travel – Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country (CA)

Located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s world renowned vineyards is the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country. Just 125 miles from Los Angeles, Santa Ynez features breathtaking views, intimate wineries, and charming inns, the perfect destination for wine lovers and foodies alike. In 2004, Santa Ynez Wine Country gained celebrity status when it was featured in the hit film, Sideways. Whether you’re a movie buff, a wine connoisseur, or simply looking to experience a beautiful part of Southern California, Santa Ynez is a must see! For a Glam, Affordable, and Luxurious take on the Santa Ynez Wine Country, here are my GAL Travel recommendations for your next trip!

Gainey Sunstone Winery

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