Thursday, January 5, 2017

2 Weeks In France - Honeymoon Itinerary

After hours, days (seriously, days!), of research, I finally arranged my perfect honeymoon itinerary!

First, I should back up and say my honeymoon is 2 weeks in France! We actually have 13 full days in the country (excluding travel days), which we decided to split between Paris and a roadtrip through Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley. For good measure, we're throwing in a day at Disneyland Paris too! It's neither of our first times in Paris, but it will be our first time to explore the french countryside! We are so excited!

I've decided to share my itinerary because when I first started trying to decide how to divide up the time I have overseas looking at other blogger's itineraries helped me so much! Read on for an overview of my honeymoon!

Days 1 - 5: Gay Paris! Of these five days, we may choose to spend one heading out to either Versailles or Disneyland Paris using the RER trains. We're staying the Saint Germaine neighborhood because of it's proximity to some of the best sights and restaurants, and because it's totally charming! If you're looking into hotels in Paris, I suggest you start by reading up on the different neighborhoods (arrondissements) to decide which appeals to you the most!

Day 6: Normandy - Giverny (Monet's Gardens) and Rouen. This day we will start by heading out of the city to the airport to pick up our rental car (Since neither of us know how to drive manual, we are taking the advice of picking up our car at Charles De Gaulle airport. Since this is a major rental hub, it will maximize the chances that the company we are renting with will indeed come through with an automatic!). Once we have the car we will drive the hour to Giverny to tour the gardens that inpired so many of Monet's paintings. Then it's on to Rouen, where we will eat dinner, have a stroll, and spend one night. We want to be sure to see the light show that is projected every night on Rouen's cathedral after sunset!

Day 7: Normandy - Agrotourism Tour of Normandy Cheese and Cider Producers. Normandy is knows for it's chamambert cheese and its cider. Because France is so well known for its food, I didn't want to leave the country without seeing some country farms myself! We will pick up this tour in Caen, then at the end of the tour drive to Bayeaux to spend the night.

Day 8: Normandy to Brittany - Bayeau Tapestry OR D Day Beach, Mont St Michele and a scenic drive to St. Malo. Because I wanted to leave some flexibility in the days, we are spending the morning in Bayeaux and will probably only have enough time to choose one of the local attractions; we will choose to either see the Bayeaux Tapestry (it's 70 meters long!), or head just outside the city to one of the D-Day beaches. Then we will continue to to Mont St Michele and spend the afternoon there before beginning the scenic drive between Mont St Michele and St. Malo to enjoy the rugged Brittany coastline (the scenic route follows the coastline and stops at Pointe du Grouin. Overnight in St. Malo.

Day 9: Brittany - St. Malo and Dinan. We will spend this day exploring St. Malo and Dinan, two towns that are close to each other in Brittany. I'm especially looking forward to doing some kayaking in Dinan on the Rance River! We will spend the night again in St. Malo.

Day 10: Loire Valley - Villandry and Loire's Troglodytes. Start the morning with the longest drive of the trip, 3 hours to the Loire Valley! We will start our Chateau exploration with Villandry, after which we will head to Troglodytique des Goupilleres, which will allow us to see the "cave dwellings" common to this region. Afterward we will finish our journey with a final drive to Amboise, where we will spend the night.

Day 11: Loire Valley - Chonenceaux, Chambord and Cheverny. I took this day straight from my Rick Steve's guidebook! We'll start the day at the Cenonceaux chateau, before heading to Chateau Chambord, and if there's time head to Cheverny at 5 to see the feeding of their resident hunting dogs! We'll spend this night again in Amboise.

Day 12: Loire Valley - Amboise and Blois. While we will spend the entirety of this day exploring Amboise and Blois in the Loire Valley, we will end the day completing our circuit of northern France with a drive back to Noisy-Le-Grand, in the suburbs of Paris, where we will spend the night.

Day 13: Optional Day - Either Disneyland, Versailles, or Paris. We're stationing ourselves for our last two nights in Noisy-Le-Grand, a suburb of Paris, because it will give us options for how we want to spend our last day. From here we can choose to head into Disneyland Paris, Versailles (if wwe haven't already gotten there during our time in Paris), or back into the city if there is some Bistro we just have to have one more time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wedding Skincare Routine

It's no secret: I'm Kiehls obsessed. Anytime a friend a friend or family member asks about my skincare routine or gives me even the slightest complement on my skin I start ranting and raving about how Kiehls saved me. But seriously it did, I had cystic acne even my senior year in college. It wasn't until I found Kiehls that I realized my skin would be better served by using simple, pure, gentle but thorough cleansing and moisturizing products rather than harsh, stripping products designed for acne.

At the time, this was a totally novel approach for me, I'd been trying to combat my teenage and adult acne with the harshest, most intense acne products I could find (that made sense at the time; bad acne? Hit it with the biggest, baddest acne zappers you can find!). If you struggle with some breakouts here and there, especially as an adult, I totally recommend this routine to you! It's good, honest, simple but thorough products. And when you need acne treatments, leave that for targeted products (like the amazing Mario Badescu drying lotion pictured below, or a lotion from your dermatologist).

So here, gathered into one place, is my skincare routine I've been doing to prep for the wedding! The wedding has been an amazing motivator to really stick with my routine, and I've been getting complements on my skin. ACTUAL COMPLEMENTS. Never before in my life have I actually received COMPLEMENTS about my complexion! Woohoo!

Wedding Skincare Prep

First up is my beloved Kiehls basics, which include the Ultra Facial Cleanser (my daily cleanser), Ultra Facial Cream (my daily moisturizer), and the Midnight Recovery Eye (my nightly eye cream. This has just a bit of anti aging in it. Now that I'm 25, I feel like it's a good time to start!). The cleanser is AMAZING at removing makeup, and the moisturizer work incredibly well without clogging pores or ever causing a breakout, and it has a great consistency without ever feeling greasy.

For facial treatments and masks I look to Kiehls as well, I use the Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque at night in place of the Ultra Facial Cream whenever my skin is feeling extra parched (it's a lifesaver in the winter!). Whenever I want to treat myself or control extra oil (more common for me in the summer) I use the Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque. At $28 for a jar that will last you at least 6 months, I think this product is actually an incredible value as far as luxury mud masks go! Using this is a serious pampering treat. I also use my Clarisonic Mia with the delicate skin brush head (good for acne prone and sensitive skin) about once a week to gently exfoliate.

I've always been prone to body acne in addition to facial acne, and my dermatologist recently recommended I switch from a salicylic acid body wash to one with benzoyl peroxide instead. I've been using PanOxyl 10% wash on the end of a long handled brush to reach my chest and back and it's been working like a charm!

Not pictured, however, is possible the most important step to my skincare routine; I found an attentive, helpful dermatologist who I love. If you have any skincare concerns and a big event coming up, don't skip this step! Not pictured is a prescription topical antibiotic that has helped minimize a small patch of rosacea that's been lingering on my left cheek (oh the woes of fair skin!).

I hope you enjoyed this post! Are any of you stepping up your skincare recently to prepare for a big event? Let me know in the comments below!

With love, Katie.