24 Hours on Catalina Island

Catalina is the ultimate getaway for anyone who lives in Southern California.  A quick ferry ride away, Catalina is an enchanting retreat with amazing outdoor activities, the best candy shop in the world, and a whole lot of charm.

Catalina - Avalon Harbor

When to Go

My husband and I visited Catalina in the off-season – in January – and weren’t quite sure what to expect.  Like most California winters, we were met with 70 degree and sunny weather – the perfect hiking weather.  The warmer months of the year are great for water activities (snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, etc.) – though we were told to expect bigger crowds during the summer season.

How to Get There

The Catalina Express ferry leaves out of Long Beach, San Padre, and Dana Point.  For those who experience sea sickness like I do, or are afraid of deep water like I am, fear not!  It is a short and painless ride.  If I can do it, so can you!

Where to Stay

Snug Harbor Inn is the best bed and breakfast on the island.  It’s in the heart of Avalon with the picturesque view of Avalon Harbor that all Catalina goers hope for – and it’s as high-end of a bed and breakfast as any five-star hotel.  We stayed in the San Nicholas room which overlooked the harbor.  It was beautiful, cozy, and had a fireplace – what more could we hope for?  The inn’s staff brought breakfast to our bedroom, and we also enjoyed afternoon snacks (complimentary).

What to Do

The Hermit Gulch hike is a must.  The hike itself is about 4 miles long – but if you walk to the trailhead from Avalon (and back), it ends up being a total of about 7 ½ miles.  Walk from Avalon to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, and you’ll see the trailhead from there!  It’s a tough hike with a lot of uphill climbing, but the views are breathtaking and absolutely worth it.

Hermit Gulch

Hermit Gulch View

The Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour is also a must-do for those adventure lovers!  It’s extremely safe, gets your heart racing, and allows you to experience some of the best views on the island.  There are five zip lines on the tour, for a total of about ¾ mile of travel, reaching speeds up to 40 miles per hour!

Zip Line

Where to Eat

Our favorite restaurants on the island are Steve’s Steakhouse and Bluewater Grill.  Steve’s Steakhouse is known for, well, great steaks.   It has a diverse menu and an old-world charm with its arched windows and romantic ambiance.  Bluewater Grill has some of the highest quality seafood I’ve tasted – and it’s setting is as classic Catalina as you could imagine!  The pastel blue-painted wood building sits over the water in the town’s historic “waterfront terminal building.”

Where to Indulge

Lloyd’s of Avalon is arguably the best candy shop…ever.  Their homemade fudge and saltwater taffy are to die for.  We frequented Lloyd’s about ten times during our short weekend stay in Catalina – so for anyone with a sweet tooth, you’re in for a treat (literally)!



Spaces We Love: Funny or Die’s Fabulous and FUN Headquarters


It’s no surprise that a company co-founded by some of Hollywood’s brightest (and funniest) creative minds has one of its most fun and creative office spaces too! Described by Fast Company as “funhouse chic,” Funny or Die’s West Hollywood office is a start-up’s dream office.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!


Holidays on a Budget: The Working Woman’s Guide to Gifting, Dining and Memory-Making without Over-Spending


The holidays are already just around the corner: parties, gift exchanges, and dinners with friends you’ve been meaning to see all year mark your calendar, making for a busy — and fulfilling — time!  But it can wreak havoc on your finances if you’re on a budget (or like me, in the throes of a home remodel!).  However, regardless of how lean your disposable income may be during this time of year, you can still have a great time – so here’s how to survive the coming holiday weeks, without breaking the bank.

Continue reading at SharpHeels.com!


Three Books Every Woman Must Read This Month

As the temperature cools down and the days get shorter, there are few things that sound more appealing to me than curling up by the fire in my comfiest sweat pants with a good book in hand. Fortunately, there has been a surplus of fun, interesting, and inspiring books to satisfy my cozy dreams! This month’s must-read books are:

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me?

I love Mindy Kaling. I love her style, her sense of humor, her sass, and everything that she’s created. Her newest book, Why Not Me?, is as hilarious as her hit TV show, The Mindy Project, and as inspiring as her incredible rise to success in one of the toughest industries out there. Mindy shares her life with the readers through a series of short stories, funny experiences that you can only classify as “learning moments,” and great life lessons presented in a relatable, heartfelt, and honest tone. It couldn’t be more refreshing. Be prepared to hear about her dating history, tips for confidence, and the day-to-day life of one of Hollywood’s funniest ladies!

Note: If you listen to the audio book, you’re in for a treat! Mindy herself narrates it.

The Confidence Code By Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Confidence Code

The Confidence Code is what I would describe as the scientific version of Mindy Kaling’s Why Note Me?. It takes confidence a step further by analyzing why women think the way they do – and how to change patterns in the brain that inhibit confidence. There are a few parts of the book that involve technical neuroscience, which I’ll admit didn’t particularly speak to me. My favorite parts of the book were the wonderful interviews with highly respected women in all different industries, from professional basketball players to scientists.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing By Marie Kondo

Magic of Tidying Up

I’ll admit, I first bought this book after seeing it on Jessica Alba’s Instagram account. A passionate organizer myself, I was immediately drawn to the title. Magic? Decluttering? Organizing? Sign me up. I have always been a fan of simplifying and tidying my life – but this book was more than I could have hoped for in terms of step-by-step instructions for doing so. This book describes the process of decluttering and organizing, and Marie offers her tips for letting go of items that either do not bring joy to your life or are not functional. My favorite part of the book involves detailed instructions for organizing the closet – sorting clothes by type, by occasion, by color, etc. It is a must-read!

Enjoy the cooler weather – and these fun reads!

Spaces We Love: Onefootball’s Berlin HQ


It’s not every day that you see an AstroTurf track lining the halls of an office, but that’s the first thing you’ll notice when visiting Onefootball’s new headquarters in Berlin. (That’s football in the European sense – otherwise known as soccer to those of us in the U.S.) Given that Onefootball is “the best mobile football platform for fans around the world,” it’s only fitting that their space reflects the enthusiasm of the sporting world, in conjunction with clean lines and modern finishes fitting for a tech company.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!

Spaces We Love: Blizzard Entertainment


Blizzard Entertainment’s Irvine office is a gamer’s paradise. The developer of the massively popular World of Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft franchises has created a sanctuary of comfort, creativity, and fantasy to celebrate its games and the people who make them. With its on-campus gym, cafeteria, basketball court, volleyball court, library, and Blizzard museum, it’s as much paradise as self-contained city.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!


Spaces We Love: Yelp Gets Five Stars


Yelp’s San Francisco headquarters is unique, unexpected and a great mix of vintage and high-end tech. Located in thirteen floors of the historic Pacific Telephone Building in the heart of the city on the corner of Montgomery and Minna, Yelp capitalizes on the building’s nearly 100-year-old art deco design and reimagines it as a young, vibrant, and fresh creative office space.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!

Gluten Free in the Workplace

With the amazing (and recent) advancements in the food industry, eating gluten-free is becoming more and more manageable for the everyday working woman.  That’s not to say it’s without challenges, particularly in the workplace, where a full kitchen is not always accessible or sanitary for those with celiac or severe gluten-intolerance.


Photo from Cooking Classy – Does that fruit salad look delish or what?

Gluten-Free, Office-Friendly Morning Snacks

Fresh Fruit Bowl

The night before work, cut and wash your favorite fruits.  In the morning, toss them in some Tupperware and store them in a freezer-safe lunchbox.  It’s a perfect morning snack that is healthy, yummy, and most importantly, gluten-free!  If you don’t have time to cut and wash, try leaving some fruits (that do not require refrigeration) in a bowl at work, pre-washed, for you to reach for any time.  My favorites are apples, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, and nectarines.


KIND bars are a delicious treat for anyone who is gluten-free.  They come in many different flavors and are an easy, on-the-go option for the busy working woman!

Perfect Bars

One of my new favorite gluten-free breakfast options is Perfect Bar.  Non-GMO, organic, gluten-free, and delicious, Perfect Bars are the newest, yummiest food trends for those on the go.  Try the peanut butter flavor – it almost tastes like dessert!   Note: These bars DO need to be refrigerated (to protect the all-natural ingredients), so be sure to keep them in a chilled lunch box or have a refrigerator available to you at the office!

Snacks for the Office

Corn Chips

One of my go-to snacks at the office is all-natural corn chips.  It’s a great snack when you are craving salt and need something yummy and crunchy to munch on.

Pre-Packaged Apple Sauce Cups

When you are craving something sweet, this is a great, easy snack choice that doesn’t require refrigeration.


If you have a microwave available to you, fresh-popped popcorn is one of the best work day snacks I can think of!  Healthy (within reason), delicious, and easy to make, popcorn is one of my go-to’s.  If you don’t have a microwave handy, there are some great pre-popped options such as Boom Chicka Pop that will do the trick.


Grilled Chicken and Vegetables

Grilled chicken and veggies are a great make-ahead, healthy lunch option that only requires a quick re-heat in the microwave!  It’s a balanced meal, and the protein will give you the energy you need to power through the rest of the work day after lunch.  No mid-afternoon snacks here!

Tuna Salad

Of course, tuna salad needs to be refrigerated once made – but canned tuna can be a great option for the workplace to get some protein with little advance work.  Add it to some leafy greens and you’ve got yourself a very balanced meal and yummy treat!

Berry Salad

My favorite salad consists of spinach, walnuts, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and light vinaigrette.  To avoid sogginess, keep all parts separate until you are ready to eat.

If you do have to eat out for lunch (with a client or a colleague at work), try to pick the restaurant in advance.  Come up with a list of restaurants nearby your office that has gluten-free options, and make sure to keep to that list when you eat out!


Grateful Sundays

A friend, best-selling author, and motivational speaker, Mike Robbins, once told me to write down, reflect upon, and share just a few things that I am grateful for each day – big or small. He calls it the “Power of Gratitude” – and believes it is one of the most important secrets to a happy and fulfilling life. Thank you, Mike, for the reminder. And here are a few things that I am grateful for this week!

 Taylor Swift

We had the amazing opportunity to watch Taylor Swift in concert last weekend in our very own backyard, at Petco Park in Downtown San Diego.  It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen – and partly because it was so much more than a concert.  It was a show.  From the lighting show (every guest was given a light-up bracelet that changed colors and designs along with the music), to the 30+ semi-trucks carrying the equipment for the show, to the surprise guests (OMI and Avril Lavigne, anyone?), to Taylor’s incredible energy and charisma on stage, I was grateful to see someone so talented and amazing do her job at the very highest level that night.  Bravo, Taylor!

Taylor Swift

Beautiful Office Space

One thing that many of us take for granted is where we work, and the careful thought that company owners, facilities managers, architects, contractors, furniture vendors, designers, and more put into an office space design and layout.  It’s not something that they take lightly – and I know it to be true from my role as a broker.  I feel incredibly lucky to play a small part in this process, and also to work in such a beautiful office of my own!


Amazing Doctors

One of my family members had a bit of a health scare this week – and I couldn’t be more grateful for the doctors who knew what they were doing and took such good care of her (and all of their patients).  It’s an incredibly challenging job – but so appreciated by patients and loved ones of patients alike.

Happy Sunday!

The Millennials’ Guide to Keeping Up with Goals

We’re just past the mid-year mark – and how are you doing on your annual goals?  It’s a challenge that everyone faces after the excitement of setting New Years’ Resolutions starts to fade…but there is no better time than today to check in on your goals to make sure you are on track.

Here are five tips to keeping up with goals throughout the year, not just the first week in January!

  1. Create habits. It’s almost impossible to achieve significant goals without making a permanent change in your lifestyle, whether it’s to work more hours at the office or to spend more time in the gym.  It’s important to develop habits that will ultimately become a regular activity for you.  For example, one of my goals is to eat healthier snacks while at the office.  If I don’t make a habit out of it, I’ll end up at the office munching on chocolate and Smartie’s every day.  Instead, every Sunday, my husband and I spend the time to go to the grocery store, pick out healthy snacks for the week, and wash, package, and prepare the snacks to make it as easy as possible to execute.  It’s become a habit that we grocery shop and prep our snacks every Sunday afternoon – and now it’s like clockwork!
  2. Utilize Outlook. I love to use Microsoft Outlook to track my work-related goals.  For example, if one of your goals is to better manage your emails, set a recurring task to go through your inbox every Friday afternoon.  I use Outlook to take my goals a step further, beyond professional goals.  I’d like to improve my health and ideally exercise 2 to 3 days per week.  To help make this a priority, I added two exercise classes per week to my Outlook calendar, and even scheduled hikes on the weekend with my husband.  If it’s on my calendar, I’m a lot more likely to do it.
  3. Use a Three-Pronged Approach. Instead of setting five large goals for the entire year, I prefer to break down my list into quarterly, monthly and weekly goals that are more manageable.  If I have a large annual goal that is important to me, I’ll break it up into four chunks so that I’m not overwhelmed by the prospect of a huge goal, and instead inspired to achieve it in four smaller parts.
  4. Review Goals Weekly. I set an Outlook reminder every weekend to review my quarterly goals list, check in with myself on monthly goals, and set goals for the upcoming week. It’s easy to set goals and forget about them – but if you are continually keeping them top of mind, you will naturally make more of an effort to achieve them.
  5. Take Action. A great way to motivate yourself – or in some cases, force yourself – to achieve your goals is to take immediate, and even impulsive, action.  If your goal is to run a half marathon, then start by signing up for the half marathon ahead of even training for it!  If you have an end date in mind, and you are committed to it both financially and mentally, you are that much more likely to achieve your goal when the time comes.  Similarly, if your goal is to save $10,000 in a given year, auto-deduct $833 per month from your paycheck and see your savings start to grow.

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