10 Things to Do in Banff, Alberta Canada

Morraine Lake in Alberta Canada

Traveling to Banff in Alberta, Canada

We had the opportunity to visit Banff and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is obsessed with scapes, elevation and hiking. Being a girl from the midwest where everything is flat, I was completely floored coming here! Driving through the national state park feels like you’re driving through a painting because everything is so picturesque.

Things to Consider

It is important that you do your research prior to arriving to maximize the time you are there. To get into Banff National park you must purchase a national park pass. We bought ours here, they’re about $10 or less per person, however if you take more than one vehicle, you’ll need one for each one so keep that in mind! The nice thing about the pass though is that it is valid for the day you purchase it AND the next day until 4:00pm, so you can plan your itinerary and leave times after that time so you don’t have to purchase another day pass.

Where to Stay

Unfortunately everything in the city of Banff and Lake Louise is quite pricey. We stayed at the Inns of Banff since it was the most affordable we could find in the city of Banff at ~$135/night in late September. Of course these prices fluctuate depending on their busy season which are usually summer and winter months. If we were to do it again though, I probably would not stay in the city of Banff or Canmore because it’s so far out from everything else. I would recommend staying somewhere near Lake Louise as I feel it is more central to other locations and closer to Icefields Parkway which is close to Peyto Lake, Bow lake, etc.

Things to Do and See

  1. See the gorgeous little town of Banff. There are a bunch of little shops and restaurants along the main street of Banff Avenue.
  2. Take a touristy picture at the Banff sign because I mean come on, we really should lol
  3. Walk around Lake Louise and capture pictures of the lake and the Fairmont Hotel because this is literally what you think of when you think of Banff, or at least for me 🙂
  4. Go kayaking at Emerald Lake – it is generally more affordable to kayak on Emerald lake compared to Lake Louise because it is not as touristy here but you still get the stunning scapes!
  5. Walk up the steps of the Rock Pile at Morraine Lake. I mean you can capture some really great pictures on the ground but omg the views from the rock pile are literally heart eyes all day every day!
  6. Check out the Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park which is basically collapsed rock that created a natural bridge over water
  7. Try a beaver tail dessert! It’s not an actual beaver’s tail but it’s a pastry and you can add things like nutella and banana/strawberries on it!
  8. Check out the Fox outlined lake at Peyto Lake! This one is a slight drive Northwest, but I definitely think it’s worth it!
  9. Bow Lake is a quick stop by off the freeway and literally just stunning. It’s really cool to feel so close to such large glaciers here!
  10. Go get some Pulp Press Juice at a local grocery store if you’re a huge fan of green juices! Literally our favorite thing to do every single morning we were there!

So there you have it beauties! 10 amazing things to do in Banff. It was seriously one of the most beautiful trips we ever went on. You literally just drive down the freeway, and there were so many times we would be driving and I would be like ahhh stop the car! And we would jump out and take a picture! Hope you all have a blast here!

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51 Fun and Sweet Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Need some last minute ideas on what to do with your significant other for Valentine’s day? Well I’ve got the perfect list of ideas on what to do that are fun and meaningful, but will also provide some lasting memories with you and your boo thang!

This year, Hoan and I decided that I would plan our Valentine’s day so with that being said I did some good brainstorming and research and here’s a list of 50 date ideas you can do too!

Date Ideas

  1. Netflix and chill night 
  2. Happy hour hopping with drinks and apps
  3. Go grocery shopping together and cook dinner 
  4. Go ice skating  
  5. Get a couples massage 
  6. Attend a cooking class 
  7. See a Broadway show or play 
  8. Have a wkd getaway at a cute cozy resort, or cabin
  9. Take a dance class and learn ballroom or salsa
  10. Take a couples massage class to learn how to give each other great massages 
  11. Go to a lover’s store and each buy something you can have fun with
  12. Be a tourist in your own city and go to an attraction
  13. Take a helicopter ride 
  14. Set sail on a sunset dinner cruise 
  15. Go to plant nite and make your own succulents
  16. Go to a comedy show
  17. Enjoy a wine tasting afternoon 
  18. Spend the day driving and sight seeing in your own city 
  19. Go hiking together
  20. Take a workout class together 
  21. Relax at the spa
  22. Get mani and pedis together 
  23. Explore a local museum 
  24. Go indoor sky diving 
  25. Play arcade games at Gameworks or Dave and Busters
  26. Do an indoor picnic
  27. Play board games together 
  28. Go roller skating 
  29. Do putt putt golf 
  30. Build a fort in the living room, have dinner in there and camp out 
  31. Go to the casino and play your chances together 
  32. Take a pottery class
  33. Do arts and crafts together and create Vday momentos
  34. Play a game of questions to get to know each other better 
  35. Take a romantic bath with candles 
  36. Take a walk in a beautiful area and enjoy the scenery
  37. Walk around a farmers market (W Seattle has one every Saturday)
  38. Have dinner at a restaurant with incredible views of the city or water 
  39. Go shopping together and buy each other am outfit to wear that evening 
  40. Have a double date or a group date with friends/fam
  41. Bake some Valentine’s Day treats 
  42. Go to the bookstore and choose a devotional/couples book to read together 
  43. Go accessory shopping together. And each buy one thing for each other 
  44. Go to a boozy brunch 
  45. Attend a sports game 
  46. Test drive sports cars 
  47. Grab fun desserts at a bakery shop
  48. Go shopping and each choose a fragrance you both love for candles to use for the bedroom 
  49. Get glammed up and have a fine dining experience with a 10 course meal 
  50. Decorate the bedroom, start with breakfast in bed and cuddle all day long 
  51. Get afternoon tea together

Hope these ideas inspire some fun creative dates for you and your loved one! This year Hoan and I are going to Frozen, get shaved ice (because Hoan loves shaved ice) and then I was thinking about doing a couple’s massage class!

Regardless of what you do, I hope you have a blast!

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2020: Your Best Year Yet with Associated Vintners

I don’t know about you but my favorite holiday is the New Year! There’s something so special about it because it makes me feel like I get a re-set button to do better and be better. With that notion, as well as my passion for elevating women’s lives I knew I had to host a mastermind event for women with this new turn of a decade. If you missed our in-person event that’s okay, I want to give you the highlights from our event so it’s like you were basically there!

We hosted our first event of the year in partnership with our

Gold Sponsor Associated Vintners

Associated Vintners is an elite company of curated wines that provides one of the only tasting rooms here in Seattle, WA! If you’re in the area, definitely stop in for a look-see to one of the cutest tasting rooms I’ve seen yet! They provided mimosas, delicious bites from Ballard Market and some fun swag. We could not have done it without their help so a heartfelt thank you to Tom the Tasting Room Manager, Sabrina and everyone else at AV!

In addition, this event would not have been possible with our other sponsors as well so a huge thank you to:

Janelle and Aaron Photography

Heva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The Power of Gratitude

Our event started out by thanking 2019 and letting it go so that we can make room for more abundance and possibilities to come for 2020. Research shows that there are a lot of benefits to gratitude. According to Morin (2014) Gratitude can

  • Help you make friends. One study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek a more lasting relationship with you.
  • Improve your physical health. People who exhibit gratitude report fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of health, more regular exercise, and more frequent checkups with their doctor than those who don’t.
  • Improve your psychological health. Grateful people enjoy higher well-being and happiness and suffer from reduced symptoms of depression.
  • Enhance empathy and reduces aggression. Those who show their gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, with sensitivity and empathy.
  • Improve your sleep. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep longer and better.
  • Enhance your self-esteem. People who are grateful have increased self-esteem, partly due to their ability to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments.
  • Increase in mental strength. Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations.” (Morin, 2014).

Some practices that can help enhance your gratitude muscles can include a gratitude journal and writing down 3 bests from the day. I’ve done this practice, especially in times of difficulty and it has helped me to see the glass half full versus half empty. It has truly helped me to get out of mental ruts, so I would highly recommend this practice as it is definitely my biggest go-to!

Let’s talk about Meditation

In addition, to gratitude we spoke on the idea of meditation and discussed the differences as well as benefits. Many people believe that meditation is challenging because you must quiet the mind. For me personally though, I welcome that in my own meditations because I see value and power in the visualizations I get from them.

There are two types of meditations, the first is mindfulness meditation and the second is moving meditation.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is what you think of when you think of meditation. Where you are sitting still, focusing on your breathing and being mindful of your body, noises and quieting your mind to nothingness so that you are fully present with what is happening right now.

Moving meditation

Moving meditation is exactly what you think it is, it’s being able to move your body rhythmically so that you can be in tune with your body and your thoughts. Activities such as yoga, Tai Chi or running can promote this type of meditation.

Regardless of what you end up trying out, do what feels best for you. Some people tell me that optimal meditation takes from 10-20 minutes. For me, I think that is a very long time. I have seen results from just 2-5 minutes of meditation! During my mindfulness meditation, visualizations came to me where I saw hosting this exact event in addition to teaching. Because of that meditation and visualization, it gave me the direction to host our first event and begin teaching as Adjunct Faculty at a local University in their Bachelor’s in Nursing Program! So I’m truly living the benefits of meditation and I know you can too. The one thing I do want to mention is even if you don’t do it on the regular, there are still benefits to be reaped.


  • More Relaxed and at peace
  • More awake, alert and aware
  • Become more purposeful in action
  • Improves mental and physical health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases pain
  • Improves immune system to fight against illnesses
  • Improves mood and brain function (Watson, Fraser, Ballas, n.d.)

The last piece we touched on is goal setting which I had my amazing husband Hoan Do facilitate! He is an inspirational speak, author and was on NBC’s hit show American Ninja Warrior! I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to facilitate this portion of our mastermind. He has an incredibly short and sweet, and might I add, super easy way of remembering how to goal set and he calls it GPS!

What does GPS Stand for?

G – Specific GOAL – your goal needs to be specific in nature. Does it have a deadline? Are there specific measurable parts to your goal?

P – Meaningful PURPOSE – you have to get super emotional about your goal. How would it make you feel if you achieved this goal? And think about that when you reference back to the goal.

S – Multiple STRATEGIES – There has to be multiple ways in which you can achieve your goal. If one way doesn’t work, don’t stop there, try something else.

So there you have it guys! Those were the highlights from our event. We are in the works to planning our second event so stay tuned for more details. It will be in the second quarter, probably around April or May! But until then, I hope that you continue to live out your best lives this year. 2020 is going to be so good, I can feel it in my bones baby!

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50 Things to Do when Cruising on Royal Caribbean – Harmony of the Seas

royal caribbean, what to do on baord, 50 things to do, cruise, harmony of the seas

I just went on my 3rd Royal Caribbean cruise on Harmony of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean, which is currently one of the largest ships of their fleet built in 2016 and boy was it a treat! My family and I absolutely LOVE their cruises and would highly recommend it to anyone, and everyone! They have so many activities catered to the entire family, from little ones all the way to our seniors, I promise you’ll find an activity for everyone to do.

I wanted to cover some of the highlights of our cruise and hope you’ll find value for YOUR upcoming cruise!

Background info

First off, one of the reasons why I love cruising so much is because I feel it is pretty cost-effective. The price of the cruise provides room and board, in addition to activities throughout the ship such as rock climbing, mini golf, workout sessions, broadway type shows, etc. (depending on the cruise ship).

The reason why I love cruising on the Oasis class of Royal Caribbean ships is that you feel you’re apart of something big because you actually are! They continue to create the largest passenger cruise line ships in the entire world and offer some pretty renowned features such as zip lining, flow-riding, aqua theaters at sea just to name a few. Harmony of the Seas was debuted in 2016. Since then, Symphony of the Seas was released and they plan to be done with Wonder of the Seas in spring of 2021 that will provide bumper cars, sky diving and laser tag all at sea!

Review of Harmony of the Seas

Currently, there are four cruise ships in the Oasis class and I’ve only been on Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas. As far as layout goes, I feel they are extremely similar with Royal Promenades, Central Parks, Boardwalks, etc. which I thought was both familiar and helpful. Because one, you have an idea of where everything is but yet on the flip side it was easy to find everything.

I thought food on Allure of the Seas was so much better than Harmony of the Seas but it could be that my appetite isn’t as great as it used to be. My favorite dinner night obviously was the lobster tail night! Our waiter was so kind and brought us extra. Thanks George!

Things to do on Board

There are sooo many things to do on board. And now that they came out with their nifty Royal Caribbean app. It’s easy to check and see what sort of activities are currently going on. Plus because you’re at sea, there’s unfortunately no data. However you can easily contact all your friends and family through their app in the messaging section which is awesome! Before they came out with it, we’d always think like, “oh man, we should have invested in some walkie talkies.” but now because of their app, no need for that anymore.

  1. Eat at Windjammer 
  2. Go Rock climbing
  3. Drink and hang out at the Bionic Bar
  4. Go to a broadway type show (Grease, etc.)
  5. Play BINGO
  6. Play at your chance at the slots
  7. Play basketball
  8. Play ping pong
  9. Work out or have a mini yoga session
  10. Play mini golf
  11. Make you own ice cream cone
  12. Go shopping on the promenade
  13. Hang out on the boardwalk 
  14. Slide down the Ultimate Abyss – tallest waterslide at sea
  15. Watch people on the Flowrider
  16. Go zip lining
  17. Watch a movie 
  18. Go to a pamper party hosted by the spa
  19. Participate in poolside activities
  20. Get late night pizza at Sorrento’s
  21. Learn how to play poker at Casino Royale
  22. Go ice skating
  23. Get room service 
  24. Attend a cupcake decorating class
  25. Escape the Rubicon which is an escape room 
  26. Learn how to salsa
  27. Do Karaoke
  28. Listen to live music in Central Park
  29. Watch kiddos on the Merry Go Round 
  30. Go for a ride and a drink on the Rising Tide Bar
  31. Participate in a game show
  32. Watch an aquatic show (my favorite!)
  33. Relax in the adults only solarium
  34. Go to a comedy show
  35. Play a game of trivia
  36. Watch an ice skating show
  37. Get dolled up for formal night at dinner 
  38. Relax by the pool 
  39. Get your feet and balance analyzed by specialists
  40. Get a massage at the spa 
  41. Get a tour of the ship 
  42. Attend a sushi making class
  43. Head to a champagne party
  44. Attend an art auction
  45. Go to a wine tasting
  46. Get your scuba certification
  47. Check out an art auction
  48. Be apart of a parade on the promenade
  49. Eat at one of their noteworthy restaurants
  50. And if you get exhausted, take a nap in your stateroom!                                                                              

The best part about Royal Caribbean is that you can have as busy of a cruise with fun-filled activities or as chill of a cruise with poolside wading. Regardless of what you end up doing on board I know you’ll have a blast! The easiest way to figure out what’s going on, onboard like I mentioned earlier is to download the Royal Caribbean app which allows you to message your friends and family to coordinate plans as well. My biggest tip though, is to just soak it all in because 7 days go by really fast! Regardless of what you end up doing on baord, I know Royal Caribbean will show you a good time. I hope you have a great cruise and let me know what your thoughts are and what activity you’d be excited for most on board in the comments below!

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surprising moments of 2017


how to make a new city feel like home, laguna beach, california, orange county, oc, beach, west coast

there’s so much happening around me that all i feel i can do is freeze as to attempt to keep at least one thing constant. i feel like a little figurine stuck in a snow globe with a blazing blizzard endangering my comfort and safety and all i want to do is stop time so i can get a handle on all that’s happening around me. it’s been a long time since i’ve really sit down to write but i know I NEED to do more of it to really think through and reflect on my experiences. i feel like my thoughts are just getting lost in the mix of everything.

surprising moments of 2017

today ann asked me what was surprising to me this last year. can you believe that all the things that came to mind were negative? i was surprised that my extended family basically wants nothing to do with me… i find it so challenging to live in two different worlds, with two very different expectations. there’s a life that i want to live that may not necessarily seem fitting or appropriate to others. at one point in my life, it was easily shrugged off my shoulders because i felt i had support and the constant reminders of why when times were tough but i honestly don’t feel like i have that anymore.

i always thought i was such a resilient person, that i could easily adapt to new environments and social settings but just like anyone else, i experienced how difficult it can be to make new friends and really open up to others. i’ve always had a fear of people recognizing my faults but now there’s a fear of being authentic and showing my real emotions to people which is quite the opposite of who i was before.

and finally… because i’m not looking forward to moving, i wasn’t looking forward to the wedding. because i knew that when that time came, my time in LA was up. which is a sad concept to comprehend; that the most exciting day of my life that i’ve been looking forward to since i was a kid is now tainted because of this notion. but i’m definitely trying my best to lean in and trust the process.

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LA is like Sand in an Hourglass

i feel like each time i’ve come home since moving to LA has been so different. I went from feeling a little remorseful and homesick about my move to not knowing where i fit in at home or  LA and I think I can say I’m finally at a place where i feel a lot of peace and gratitude with my decision to move.

it wasn’t an easy journey to get here because i had to numb all of my negative emotions in order to accept that LA was reality.  i was emotionally unavailable to everyone including myself and i think it was hardest on those who loved me most.  looking back now, those were some of the darkest days of my life, not necessarily in the amount of emotion but rather in the extent of loneliness.

as time has gone on though, i’ve slowly been able to break through the layers of regret and denial and am finally able to regain positive perspective and the colors of life.  as my time winds down here in LA, i’m unsure what i want to get out of these next few months but i feel like yes man will become a mantra.. literally saying yes to any opportunity i might get to try… seek, do, experience in all senses of the word.


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Front Lace Up Shift Dress

lace up dress

lace up front, bells sleeves, shift dress, tobi

lace up dress, shift dress

This shift dress is an absolute favorite of mine! I love the lace up front design with these adorable bell sleeves! I’ve been really loving neutral toned stuff lately and this dress is perfect for dressing up or down.  Anyway hope you all are having a fabulous week so far!

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outfit deets

Dress is from TOBI! | Similar items down below!

what i’ve learned about TRUE happiness


Category: Authenticity, Personal, Spread the Movement

as young adults, i think many of us oftentimes get sidetracked and want nothing more than a successful career. i’ve seen countless numbers of college grads throw away romantic relationships to up and leave for an opportunity in career advancement miles away from home but more importantly their loved ones. and let’s be honest, it is one of the best times of our lives to do so because most of us don’t have commitments or obligations holding us back… so why not, right?

but as exhilarating as that may sound, i have become challenged by this very concept. if we remind ourselves that life is only but a balancing act then we must take into account what else we need in our lives such as personal fulfillment but more importantly intimate connections.

the critics are beginning to voice their concerns and some are even becoming radical as to say find love first because your career can wait. which let me say, is a new school of thought but i think it emphasizes what this next generation is lacking; romantic intimacy.

so quit with the excuses; we need those relationships for a wholesome, elated life.

as christopher mccandless realized, [the man who walked into the wild looking for happiness in solidarity]: happiness is only real when shared.


live simply, love beyoutifully,

Anh Thu

5 things i’ve learned and relearned from Failing miserably


Category: Self Compassion, Self Acceptance, The Best You

I’m just going to go on the record and say I’ve made countless mistakes and while society is trying to change the negative connotation of “failure,” re-wording it to things like: “an opportunity for growth,” “a lesson to be learned,” etc. — it does NOT make committing the mistake any less awful.

I’ve made plenty of dumb decisions; from my personal life all the way to the other end of the spectrum. However, I’m reminded by the fact that I have learned so much, not only about myself but about life in general throughout this process.

Things I am relearning:

  1. Growth is exponential and while you may be great at something, without continual practice the previously acquired skill could dissipate into thin air.
  1. It’s great to feel like you know what you’re doing but when things get hazy, get off your high horse and ask for help.
  1. Remember, it’s okay to SAY NO.
  1. Chasing after perfection is a great mentality to have, in fact I admire people who continually pursue this state of being. However, remember not to escape reality because perfection doesn’t exist.
  1. At the end of the day, as long as you gained something out of said mistake, then well… it was all kinda worth it right? I hope.

With that, while committing mistakes may not be the most pleasant experience, at least there are some positive outcomes that come from them. If we think hard enough, there will always be a lesson to be learned from our mistakes. And hey, it’s okay to make mistakes.. how do you think Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, right? 🙂

simply beYOUtiful,

Anh Thu