Architecture blended with nature at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo

How cool is this design marvel in Costa Rica!? Amazing architecture blending with nature of beautiful Papagayo Peninsula Pacific coast – this is at Andaz, hotel concept by Hyatt. There are no desks at check in and no rush, you are greeted with green juice and a view of the ocean at airy relaxing outdoor lobby. And when you leave, there are coconut macaroons at checkout. Good vibes of Costa Rican “Pura Vida” are reflected in free flowing environment and hotel staff attitude. I couldn’t stop taking photos of this beautiful and unique place, filled with earthy details, open inviting spaces, cool furniture and wonderful Costa Rican culture and nature at every turn.





Andaz Peninsula Papagayo






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Pura Vida Found at Leaves and Lizards Costa Rica

When I woke at 5AM to sounds of birds and cicadas in the middle of rain forest and saw breathtaking view of Arenal Volcano from my hammock, I knew I discovered “pure life” – that’s what Costa Rica “Pura Vida” is all about.  Simple Costa Rica way of life, it’s community, welcoming people, amazing untouched nature, clear rivers and quiant colorful villages got deep into my heart and changed something, I am not sure exactly what. For everyone it’s different. I had this intense feeling of connecting with nature, where every minute brings different chorus of sounds, every breeze changes how birds sing, what butterflies you see, when rain starts and ends… you sense it, you notice these dewy drops on tropical flowers and you can’t help but change.  Real world slips away… One morning at yoga meditation, Sabrina tells me : “Breathe… Imagine the ocean in your throat, it rises and falls down, it washes away your thoughts, just hear the sounds around you and breathe…”  It is easy to imagine that ocean, with Costa Rica amazing beauty of Pacific and Caribbean coasts, country’s cloud and rain forests and their spectacular wildlife. Another morning, Debbie introduced us to horses that we spent day with, riding to a hidden rainforest waterfall. I learned that horses are very sensitive and unique creatures – they understand us, they feel our human strengths and weaknesses. They have ability to heal and connect us to the world. We can let our egos go and let instincts take place. There is energy and connection to every element of the world around you in Costa Rica. You understand that you don’t need much to be happy. It gives you freedom and brings sense of adventure and discovery. It’s my little paradise with heavenly deck and outdoor shower.  With kids morning chores at the farm and ziplining in the Arenal Volcano rain forest.  It is found at Leaves and Lizards retreat in Costa Rica.






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Happy birthday in lavender and pink

If you are a parent you will understand that I like my kids birthdays more than my own!  Isn’t it fun to have an all pink and purple celebration with not just one but two different cakes?  One must be a Barbie cake (my mom had a brilliant idea of making a “skirt” cake and we just added Barbie doll inside). Another cake is My Little Pony world made as a tier of two round Cold Stone lavender colored ice-cream cakes. Dressing up as ballerina and wearing a crown.. smashing a piñata and opening gifts with laughter and giggles, taking a photo with each friend. I love these happy little birthdays.  I enjoy packing little goodie bags together and writing had written notes on them, order balloons and decorate the party room. So much fun planning and anticipation! This day brings many smiles and so much joy to my little ones  –  it is my happiest!





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Stay young by staying fit – yoga, on the water and in the air.

Benefits of yoga are endless. Flexibility, strength, peace in mind. For new vinyasa option, Yoga on the water and in the air? What I learned is that confidence is built as you go. At the end I had a great feeling of not only finishing great yoga workout but also challenging my mind and accomplishing something I felt was unknown. You don’t fail if you don’t try, right?

Paddle board yoga  – has been a great trend in yoga world and I gave it a try. There is something about yoga on a water that makes it really fun – must be an idea of splashing or just reminder of vacation at seas and oceans. I did a lesson at Lifetime Target Center and it was a great experience to see progression at first trying to balance in simple downward dog to wobbly tree and  then move onto warrior series and even into a crow. As my stability and confidence grew I Felt stronger and empowered!  Looking forward for paddle board classes on the lake in summer (offered by



Who doesn’t want to learn how to fly? “The Aviary” –  Arial fitness studio made it possible 🙂  Ok, it was not easy for me.. inversions are intimidating 🙂  But hammock straps are sturdy and after couple practices and instructor coaching I got exhilarating feeling going head down like a monkey on a tree… that brought me back fun childhood memories. Inversions are great way to decompress. It brings amazing body awareness. Poses names are creative  – like “secretary” or “coffin”. It was a challenging workout, really engaging arms and legs in a different way with holding onto blue silk straps and then I had shivasana inside “blue cocoon” at the end. The Aviary’s studio is a stunning contemporary minimalistic space, more at





Happiness Project

Is there a definition of happiness? I am noticing many articles lately about happiness, there are life coaches giving road maps to happiness or minimalists saying what not to buy or where not to escape in search of happiness. And I can agree with all of them yet what defines happiness?
Is it a quiet morning walk with your dog, reading favorite book or a yoga moment, is it your newborn baby’s soft skin and children’s laughter, is it vacation on a sunny island, romantic walk in Paris or redecorating a home. Is it a great career achievement, volunteer work at inspiring event or family gathering.  Tickets to an amazing show or new little black dress?  Is it in great fitness workout edorphins or in a glass of wine with your best friend?
Or are these just joyful moments and happiness is something bigger? Being healthy and well? Is it a certain content state of mind?
My favorite definition comes from the “Happiness project” book by Gretchen Rubin: “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” Except, I would add LOVE to that atmosphere she is describing.
One certain thing that happiness is about being present in a moment and appreciating it, things that surround you – big or small: life is beautiful. Happiness is free (even though money spent wisely can buy some too) and it is a personal choice.
We are humans and we are not programmed against bad moods or mistakes. Being positive sometimes looks easier than it is, but life is too short to be obsessed about things that won’t even matter in a week or a year.
Negativity could be a daily struggle, but attitude is our own – it is up to us how to be happy and every day gives as a clean new slate to try and start over.
And some of my happy moments are the ones where I find beauty, where I create and share.
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Dreaming of warm places

Dreaming of warm places in Caribbean. So many wonderful experiences and memories.
Grand Cayman – perfect island vacation with small children. Water is super calm and white sand is soft. Island is very quiet and laid back, easy to rent a car or commute by efficient 1 dollar mini buses. Comfortable condos on gorgeous Seven mile beach like  Christopher Columbus  have fully equipped kitchens and rooms so it feels like home away from home with the beach almost to yourself. Little kids love turtle farm and aquarium. There are plenty of great restaurants but it is so easy breezy to just make simple meal for children at condo, grab bottle of wine and snacks, set your chairs on a beach and watch sunset while kids play sandcastles.

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Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico – we love amazing people of Mexico, their hospitality and great spirit. Nuevo Vallarta is a newer destination in Mexico and not as busy as Cancun. Staying at one of smaller all inclusive resorts like Grand Velas is ideal long week-end escape for fun in the sun. Pacific ocean’s dark golden sand shore is beautiful. In the morning waves are crashing and perfect for body surfing that children enjoy. In the afternoon, water descends yards away, opening wide mirror sandy path for walking and jogging. Grab dinner at charming fishing village of Bucerias. It has wonderful small family run restaurants to enjoy fresh sea food.
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St.Maarten-St.Martin – this is complete list of everything perfect vacation needs: sightseeing, wonderful beaches, amazing food. It is half Dutch/half French so it is kind of two islands at once. Dutch side for beach hopping and shopping in Philipsburg and French side for quiet time on a perfect stretch of white sand with turquoise water and palm trees and superb french meals at Grand Case. Children love Loterie farm’s wildlife and unique Butterfly farm and garden. Anse Marcel is secluded beach with breathtaking views to get away from it all…

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Giving thanks and four elements of traditional Mayan Temazcal ceremony

I had a wonderful experience at Temazcal ceremony during my last visit to Riviera Maya in Mexico. Temazcalli, as translated from Aztec language means “house of steam” where through heat, aromatherapy and chanting we can purify and harmonize body and mind. Today, on Thanksgiving day, I keep going back to that special mind body connection experienced at ancient Mexican ritual, reflecting on the past, living holly in the present, celebrating human spirit, life, existence and gratitude.
Traditional temazcal symbolizes place where we can reflect and reconnect with ourselves, Mayans used it to cleanse body and spirit and reach a deep connection with Mother Earth.
Earth is my body
Water is my blood
Wind is my breath
Fire is my spirit
Our group was greeted by Shaman from the local tribe who took us to a round cave where we seated around heated volcanic rocks. Copal, sacred Mayan tree resin, was burned to inhale and detoxify bodies. Then camomile, rosemary and other herbs mixed with water were splashed over heat creating aromatic steam. Shaman was chanting and singing and then invited us to four guided meditations, he told us that we will be giving thanks to four elements, representing four puertas or doors:
First : thankful to beautiful nature, our connection to everything on this planet and being respectful to earth.
Second: thankful to humanity, our spirit, our health, strength given to our bodies.
Third : thankful to ourselves, how we reflect on our own lives and happiness, respect and gratitude and answers for questions inside each one of us.
Fourth: thankful to our family, friends and loved ones,  for love, support and warmth our relationships bring us.
Life is beautiful. Have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

Stay young – embrace your age

I saw this wonderful article in Experience Life magazine, it made me think of how true the saying is “that age is just a number”.

“Think beauty fades after 40? These honest, beautiful portraits will make you think again”, article starts. “As these women tell it, aging is not a subtraction, but an accumulation of experiences that make life richer. If that kind of experience shows on our faces, then so much the better”. First image of devoted yogi, model, humanitarian, marathon runner, inspiring woman and mom, Christy Turlington, caught my attention, then reading more about beautifully aging women confirmed my thoughts and beliefs that staying young is not about fighting wrinkles but about staying young at heart, being healthy and strong. It is about discovering new ways to grow and be a better person, better self. Life is beautiful – embrace your age! Don’t you feel most beautiful when you are strong and happy? I always find that open smile and confidence is beautiful regardless of age. Lets look forward to more years of great challenges, fitness and travel inspirations. We age but our years of experience bring us confidence. Read more about In Their Prime, celebrity photographer Peter Freed’s new book on embracing beauty after 35.  And here are some of my favorite images of women over 35, their quotes and beauty secrets.


Christy Turlington, Model and Humanitarian, 46:

“Exercise is the key to holding back the years and maintaining a slim figure – I can’t imagine my life without yoga. It’s more than just a physical practice — it’s about being in the present and learning to accept what you have to reach your full potential”. She believes in using organic skincare ranges, such as Juicy Beauty, Sundari Nourishing Nighttime Oil, Rodin body oil and Rahua Shampoo and Finishing Treatment, and instead of wearing chemical perfumes prefers dabbing essential lavender and rose oils on her pulse points.  


Dara Torress, Olympic swimmer, 47

“When I work out, I feel most like myself and most comfortable in my body and mind,” she says. “I feel motivated to continue to set new goals for myself and go after them and give them my all … Working out and staying in shape is simply how I take care of myself, and when I do this, everything else in my life falls into place. I do watch my diet in the sense that, you know, everything’s in moderation,” she says. “But I don’t like to really to use the word diet, I just really try to eat well and satisfy cravings here and there.”  More...

Scientific research shows that any excersize helps you stay younger, giving your skin elasticity and healthy glow, helping you sleep better and soundly, improves your posture and flexibility. Telomeres that are tops of our chromosomes are shortened with age, which is most attributing factor in aging, but studies found that excersize and especially cardio activity helps lenghten them. Determining how exercise can make your DNA younger and healthier represents a huge new step in understanding how lifestyle play a role in aging -read more at


Sophie Marceau, actress, 47

Perfect skin Sophie Marceau owes much olive oil. Every evening, the actress washing his face with plain soap, and then massaged onto the skin causing the olive oil, leave it to soak into the skin, after removing the excess with a paper towel. Oil nourishes the skin with vitamins and makes it more supple, helps to maintain youthfulness. 

When asked about the main actress secret of its appeal, it is not thinking always says: “Smile.” 

read  “Why are French Women allowed to age and still be sexy” article for more…


Best coffee in Twin Cities

On my travels and back home, I am always looking for a perfect cup of coffee and cafes with great coffee drinks and tasty roasts, good vibe atmosphere and creative baristas (I strongly believe they are some of most fun people in the world). There are couple local coffee places, they are big part of my life here and they are not found in most Minneapolis/Twin Cities listings online.  City pages has a great review of coffee houses, but in addition here are my two favorite spots, one is for my family time and the other is a workday must.

Family, friends, history and art at Dunn Brothers Smith Douglas More House

Any day, any season has a moment to cherish at this coffee house. Summer patio’s grapevine pergola is a must for a cold flute of prosecco, fall and winter are cozy in many of beautifully decorated historic rooms, that are made for friend and family get togethers. Spring is blooming with cherry trees. It is like a warm and inviting home with great foods and drinks. Dunn Brothers in Eden Prairie is run by a family with amazing attention to detail (children book reading nights, eggs from local farm, home made cards, vinyl records, unique decoration items) and freshly in-house roasted coffee (and you can watch them roasting it).  We built so many great family memories here, lots of blueberry muffins for my little one, quiet “avocado breakfast” mornings for family and many, many cups of flat whites –  my favorite coffee drink choice – it is made with loosely frothed milk and coffee art and amazingly done at Douglas Smith More Dunn Brothers coffee house.





Best Coffee in Twin Cities

Peace, Love, Coffee and work meetings at  Minneapolis Peace Coffee.

Week day mornings are warmer and brighter at Peace Coffee, that opened two new locations at Minneapolis Capella Tower this year. Peace Coffee is our Minnesota proud company, selling organic, fair trade coffee and they “pedal-no-petrol” their coffee via bicycle couriers to stores and coffee shops. Their blue and red colored skyway location instantly lightens mood. My favorite is their ground level location. It is modern and energetic, talented baristas and creative drinks, it is perfect on a go or for a work meeting. I love combination of rustic reclaimed wood, comfortable plaid chairs, sofas with jewel pillows, contemporary lights, black granite and impressive fireplace. Twin cities blend is my daily awakening coffee choice -it is organic, bold and strong, making a perfect combination with favorite gluten free muffins and Patisserie 46 croissant.





(this is not sponsored by anyone, just really awesome places to visit).


Reasons to love fall in Twin Cities

This fall is spoiling us with warm and sunny days here in Twin Cities. It would be nice to stay in this golden and sunny season for longer, but why is that best days never last long?  “Save the best for the last”  – these colorful October days are short but bright, mornings are dark, but evenings are longer, so there is more time to read a great book or watch a movie or just spend time with friends and family.  Life seems to slow down – even if just a bit.  And after many glasses of refreshing summer white wines, time for deep comforting reds.
More on my many reasons to love fall in Twin Cities :
Local Farmers Markets


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Untied Farmers Market in Wayzata – small, very friendly, fun, with colorful rows of mums and variety of squashes for roasted vegetable dinner : combine 1 butternut squash, 1 delicate squash, 1 pumpkin, 1 red onion, 5 red skin potatoes, 2 sprigs of rosemary – wash, clean seeds, cut, season with salt and pepper, toss in some olive oil and roast for an hour – hour and a half at 350F.

Marshall’s farmers market. It is a gem in Eden Prairie neighborhood – every season it is artfully decorated, with wide selection of berries, vegetables, jam and frozen meats. It is one of the best Halloween spots to visit.

Running with Twin Cities
From now on – my new fall favorite, Twin Cities Marathon week end. Perhaps one day I will get ready for 26 miles, for now 10 amazing miles got me hooked. Medtronic Twin Cities marathon is considered  one of most beautiful urban marathons in America, going through best Minneapolis views, Lake of the Isles, finishing by Saint Paul Cathedral. Our shorter course passed Guthrie Theater and University of Minnesota grounds onto breathtaking river views from Minnehaha Parkway and then to historic Saint Paul Summit Avenue where every house or mansion is uniquely amazing.
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Leather weather
My favorite dress code is t-shirt, jeans and leather jacket. I switch between black and white all the time. It works with everything, it is a wind breaker, it is soft and light, yet warm enough, it saves me.
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More cozy time
Tea, blanket and great book or a movie. Time to burn some romantic candles and maybe even have a pajama day with favorite shows reruns or feel good movies like “Forrest Gump” ,”Good Year” , “Somethings gotta give”, “Holiday”  or “Matilda” or “Ghostbusters” 🙂 – guaranteed to lift mood on coming colder days.
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(Photos by me, cozy socks are from, and one my favorite family pictures is by Natalia Klimova)