Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Annecy, France

When my friend Rachel reminded me that we had a four-day weekend, we decided to explore the eastern part of France, starting in Annecy.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Budapest, Hungary

For our final stop over fall break, we hit Budapest.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Vienna, Austria

Oh, how Vienna stole my heart.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Prague, Czech Republic

Okay, time to get back on track with my fall break adventures. I already told you about Krakow, so now it's time for Prague!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Birchbox Pop-Up Shop (Paris, France)

When researching ideas for my weekend in Paris, I was so excited to learn that Birchbox France was hosting a pop-up shop--perfect timing!

Admittedly, I have not subscribed to Birchbox France. It costs 13 €/month (compared with $10/month in the U.S.) and almost all of my money is going toward traveling--in fact, a one-month Birchbox subscription here would pay for a train ride to Paris! Still, I couldn't resist visiting the pop-up shop and seeing what it was all about!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lille, France - VLOG

I know I haven't even finished posting about my October vacation, but I just spent the weekend in Lille at the marché de Noël (Christmas market). Normally, I'd wait until the rest of the travel posts are up, but this is not only time sensitive (it's Christmas, after all!) but it's also a vlog! Yes, that's right, I tried my hand at vlogging.

So instead of writing about my weekend, I photographed and filmed it.

As this was my first time vlogging, I know the video could have been so much better, so I'd love any tips you may have! (FYI, most of it was filmed on my iPhone 5S.) Also, feedback about whether I should continue to vlog my trips or go back to writing about them would be wonderful. Thanks in advance!

Shoutout to my lovely travel buddies for putting up with me as I experimented with vlogging this weekend. You ladies were great sports!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Krakow, Poland

About a month and a half ago, I set out for Eastern and Central Europe with one of my roommates and our friend. Don't worry, you'll hear all about the trip! But first stop: Krakow.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Product Review: MONAT Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive

As I previously mentioned, I've rallied my younger sister to test out some beauty products for me while I'm in France. She already reviewed the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, but I had one more product for her to try.

c/o Daphne Logan

The MONAT Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive is a multipurpose oil that can be used on nearly every part of the body, from nails to skin to hair. What's not to love? Well according to Daphne, it seems like everything is to love.
The MONAT Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive is my newest necessity. I am normally skeptical of putting oils in my hair, as I have had scarring experiences with grease quickly overtaking my fine, curly, locks. This product touts a list of ingredients sent from heaven however, including Abyssinian, baobab, buriti, camelia, carrot seed, monoi, meadowfoam, and moringa. (For those of us who aren’t cosmetic chemists, these translate to moisturizing, nourishing, purifying, healing, and protection against pathogens.) I put the Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive on my scalp before showering and on the lower half of my hair after showering, and I was later blessed with smooth, light hair that looked healthier than ever. The next morning, I rubbed the oil under my eyes and along my smile lines for a fresh, rejuvenated, less sleep-deprived look, which served me well for hours. And, what’s more, this unique combination of plants and plant derivatives has an amazing, one-of-a-kind, pick-me-up, citrus-esque scent. (The truth about this product, though, is that you can use it anywhere—I use it as an all-around moisturizer after showering. It actually works wonders.)
A necessity, huh? Maybe it's a good thing she got to test this out in my place! And If you're interested in the MONAT Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive, watch this video to learn even more about it.

c/o Daphne Logan

Thank you to iFabbo for providing the samples that facilitated this discussion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Product Review: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

Since my move to France, my mom has informed me that I've received beauty products to review here. As the products are all the way back in the United States, I've employed my 17-year-old sister to test them out!

c/o Daphne Logan

First up, we have the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. I asked Daphne to simply test out the product, take some photos, and let me know her thoughts on it, but she went above and beyond her call of duty and wrote a full-blown sales pitch. I'm just going to copy and paste it, it's that darn good.
The Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant gave me a major serotonin boost with its relaxing, aromatic combination of rice, oatmeal, green tea, and gingko, all blended into a powder. To activate it, I wet my hands and poured about a teaspoon of it into my palm, then rubbed my hands together to create a paste. I massaged this onto my face and was still soaking up its calming and refreshing effects after washing the paste off with warm water. When activated, the mixture releases papain (papaya enzymes), rice enzymes, and salicylic acid to micro-exfoliate dead skin cells. The salicylic acid also helps with a variety of skin conditions by causing dead skin cells to shed more quickly, allowing for more new cell growth, and both preventing and treating clogged pores. And another plus is that the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant contains no artificial fragrances or colors—it’s natural perfection!
...I think that means she likes it? She mentioned separately that her face felt even smoother post-use. I just hope she saves me some for when I get back!

c/o Daphne Logan

Thank you to iFabbo for providing the samples that facilitated this discussion.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Châteauroux, France

Hello, my darling readers!

I am so sorry to have abandoned you for so long, but I was bogged down with lots of administrative work since my move to France. After finding an apartment here, we didn't get WiFi until a few days before our two-week vacation, and since then I've been dealing with validating my visa and French residency. But I'm so excited to be back and I have lots of amazing content planned for you!

Since my arrival two months ago, I've already visited the Loire Valley, Paris, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, the French Alps, Lyon, and Florence. I'm going to focus on my home city right now, though--Châteauroux.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Break Time

I know I've left you all hanging for about a month now, but with good reason--I had no Internet until a few days ago. Moving to France has been wonderful, but more stressful than I had imagined. I've decided to continue this "break" for a couple more weeks, as I'll be traveling throughout Eastern Europe and won't even have computer access. I'm so sorry about this, I miss you all and can't wait to get you all back in the loop! xoxo

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guest Post: Top 5 Fashion Must-Sees in London

My final HCBN guest poster is Frances, a travel blogger who has lived all over the world but currently resides in London. Here, she talks about London's fashion hot spots, which I can't wait to see for myself!

London is arguably the most fashion-forward city in the world. Names like Alexander McQueen, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and Vivienne Westwood have made waves around the world from this British city.

And who can deny the sophisticated yet edgy style of Londoners? If you're looking for the ultimate London fashion guide, here are my top destinations for style and shopping.

Oxford Circus (http://oxfordstreet.co.uk)

Photo credit: Magnus D.

The only place in the world where there's a Topshop at every corner, Oxford Circus is the highlight for shopaholics. Londoners and tourists alike visit this sight every year to pick up goodies from Primark (a cheap outlet store) to H&M to House of Fraser to the Apple Store. The best time to come is during the holiday season, when the Winter Wonderland illuminates the street.

Harrods (http://www.harrods.com)

Photo credit: Herry Lawford

No trip to London is complete without a stop at Harrods. Attentive sales associates wait patiently as customers browse through Gucci and Michael Kors bags. My favorite spot is the festive food hall filled with fresh groceries and treats. Grab a cupcake and tea while appreciating the stylist décor.

Selfridges (http://www.selfridges.com)

Photo credit: Mark Allanson

Another luxury department store, Selfridges is the spot to find your fave high-street brands. It's nice to walk around and admire the window displays. There's nothing like coming home with the iconic yellow shopping bag.

Camden Market (http://www.camden-market.org)

Photo credit: David Simmonds

Look no further than Camden Market for something more edgy. Jump from stall to stall, finding all kinds of trinkets and doodads, like hand-painted t-shirts, booze-shaped umbrellas, and watch necklaces. Storefronts on the main street are decorated with giant Converse shoes, a dark angel, and even a fire-breathing dragon. After picking up a handmade shirt, grab a mouth-watering Nutella crêpe and sit on the motorcycle seats by the water.

Brick Lane Market (http://www.visitbricklane.org)

Photo credit: Garry Knight

If vintage is what you're looking for, Brick Lane is your stop for secondhand style. Here, you'll uncover high-quality mom jeans from the nineties next to worn-out military boots. Inside, there are all kinds of crafts, including toy soldiers strung around a necklace.

Get in touch with Frances:
Wanderlust Noteshttp://www.wanderlustnotes.com

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Post: Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

Next up in my guest-post series is Syaza, an art and beauty blogger from Malaysia. Most people I know have never been to this beautiful country, so read on to learn about her hometown!

If you are a fun-loving adventurer who likes culture and exotic things, let me introduce you to my lovely hometown state, Sarawak, the "Land of The Hornbills" of Borneo. Before that, I am Syaza from Bloobs Blurbs and I am currently a resident of Miri City, known as Oil Town in the past, which is one of the renowned cities of Sarawak.

Borneo is known mostly for the longboat trips down murky rivers, jungle trails green in tooth and claw, smoky longhouses and drunken dances, strange creatures and hidden caverns, and blowpipes and head-hunters--and you’ve found just what you’re looking for.

Sarawak is "classic" Borneo par excellence, and few other places will reward a little adventurous spirit so grandly.

Traveling around here in Sarawak is not just by boat--there are now air and land options these days. Of course, you will need to travel here by air from West Malaysia, but if you are coming to visit from Sabah you could take the bus (although it may take an 15-hour ride to reach Miri). Before continuing to Niah and Mulu (it takes around an hour these days to reach the small town of Batu Niah), do remember to stop by Lambir for some fun water splashing.

The beauty of Sarawak is its blend of tribal tradition and unfettered nature: everything from the scattered valley farms of the Kelabit Highlands (the most popular place there would be Ba'Kelalan, which is very cold in the morning!) to the bird's-nest trading communities of the Niah Caves to the nomadic jungle Penan people has its own place.

Of course, plenty has changed here since the first intrepid explorers started charting the tree-strangled hills, and the grim realities of modern capitalism have affected many of Sarawak’s treasures, particularly in the receding rainforest, where relentless logging continues to take its toll.
However, the essential flavor of the region continues to saturate most aspects of life here, and it’s still possible to find untouched corners of wilderness where it feels like the last 100 years never happened. The longhouses may have satellite dishes, the cities may have tower blocks, and the jungles may have airstrips, but at the end of the day, Sarawak is unlike anywhere else on earth.

If you wish to know more, you can talk to me on my blog and other social media. <3

Get in touch with Syaza:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest Post: Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Africa

As you all know, I'm in the midst of moving to France, so I asked some lovely ladies from the Her Campus Blogger Network to guest post for me while I transition. First up, we have Danai, who's going to tell us all about traveling in South Africa!

Hi! I'm Danai and I blog at Living, Learning, Eating.

I'm a recent graduate of Harvard University, living and working in NYC as an actress, writer, petite model, and blogger. I'm excited to guest post for Chloe while she's moving!

There are few things that I enjoy more than travel and it's really no wonder why. My mom is German, my dad is Zimbabwean, I was born in South Africa, and now I'm American!

I've been lucky to travel quite a bit and, though I'm admittedly biased as a South African, I think there are many great reasons to consider South Africa as your next vacation destination!

Here are the top ten reasons why the (up to around) twenty-four hour flight is so worth it.

1) The Beaches

Warm, soft sand and clear blue water beckon you to the southern tip of Africa.

Try not to miss Cape Vidal - not only is the beach gorgeous, but the snorkeling is unreal!

2) The Mountains

You have to see Table Mountain!

It's named after its flat top, from which you have one of the most epic views in Africa - not to mention great oversight of Cape Town!

3) The Wildlife

Three words: Kruger National Park.

It should be on everyone's life bucket list to see it at least once!

4) The Adventures

You can try everything from SUP to hiking to surfing to chillin' with lions.

You definitely won't be bored.

5) The Diversity

You will definitely get your daily dose of culture on a trip to South Africa - all sorts of people have immigrated to (and, in the past, colonized) South Africa, so you'll come upon so many different cultures and ways of life!

For starters, why not try your hand at one of the 11 official languages of South Africa at an open-air market?

6) The Weather

It's a very sunny country - many areas experience over 300 sunny days per year. The Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate, so you can look forward to hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

Don't forget, however, that seasons are flipped - so December is peak summer and July is in the middle of winter! So feeling the winter blues in January? Take a flight to summer!

7) The History

With Apartheid ending in 1993, Nelson Mandela's incredibly inspiring legacy of forgiveness, and a changing society, there is so much to learn about South Africa.

8) Responsible Tourism

It's very easy to travel green in South Africa, by doing everything from enjoying recycled art souvenirs to taking in the sights responsibly at one of the many protected areas.

9) It's the Most Modern African Country

Want to travel to Africa without having to give up all of your modern conveniences?

South Africa has the best developed infrastructure and the most modern amenities of any African country - it's the closest thing Africa has to a first world country!

You can enjoy the beauty of nature without giving up the delight of a great spa or a nice restaurant.

10) The Wine

In case you're not already convinced (how are you not?) South Africa's winelands should cinch the deal.

They date back to the mid-1600s and South African wines win international awards and receive coverage in specialty magazines, such as The Wine Enthusiast, year after year after year.

The reader's digest version: if you're going to Africa, make it South Africa!

What's your favorite vacation destination that you recommend?

Get in touch with Danai:
Living, Learning, Eatinghttp://living-learning-eating.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Airport Carry-On Essentials

Well, this is it. Tomorrow (!!) I leave the United States for my adventure in France. Also, I just realized that when my plane takes off from O'Hare, it will be summer, but by the time I arrive in Paris it will be autumn. How cool is that?!

Amid the last-minute stresses of packing my carry-on and cramming as much as possible in it,  there are five items that I always make sure are easily accessible.

First, and most obviously, we have my passport. There's no way I could do anything at the airport without it! Same goes for euros and Paris métro tickets. If I don't have those items on hand, well, I'd be stuck at the airport.

As we head into fall, my allergies have been giving me a really hard time. Between coughing and sneezing and just not feeling myself, a Kleenex Slim Pack is a life saver--especially during an eight-hour flight!

Finally, I always have U By Kotex® tampons on hand. You never know when you might need them, and finding yourself locked in a metal tube over the Atlantic Ocean is the worst time to be caught unprepared!

For a limited time, you can get a FREE Kleenex Slim Pack with specially marked boxes of U By Kotex® products at your local Walmart Supercenter. Find your local store and get a $0.50-off coupon here!

Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by U By Kotex®, but all content and opinions are my own.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Product Review: SOBO Ultra Age Repairing Cream with Resveratrol

I love any and all skin care products, so I was thrilled when SOBO invited me to test out their Ultra Age Repairing Cream with Resveratrol!

In this campaign, you could have received one of four SOBO products: the Ultra HGF Youth Serum, Age Smoothing Eye Serum, Essential Moisturizing Cream, or the Ultra Age Repairing Cream that I got. I'm so happy with the product they sent me, as I've been searching for a great moisturizer with anti-aging benefits.

The moisturizer goes on smoothly and is unscented, which is a plus for me. As much as I love fragrant lotions and oils, I like to save those products for the rest of my body because my face is so sensitive. It has also passed the test of keeping my skin moisturized despite the recent temperature drop!

You can use this moisturizer both morning and night, but I prefer to just use it in the morning. (I have a different product that I like to use in the evening.) I'm going to be so sad once I use up the sample, as I won't be able to order it in France!

That doesn't mean that you lovely readers can't reap its benefits, though! I know that it's a bit pricey at $64 for 1 oz., but SOBO has been so kind to give you all a 25%-off coupon code! Just enter TRYSOBO at checkout and the price will drop to $48.

Interested in this amazing moisturizer? Use code TRYSOBO for a 25% discount off of your entire SOBO purchase!

Full disclosure: I received this product courtesy of BrandBacker, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

France Mood Board

With a mere eight days until my departure to France, I've been wasting away in Michigan, itching to say à bientôt to the United States. But with all of this excitement comes a bit lot of anxiety. Yes, I've spent months at a time without seeing my parents, but the next visit home was always certain. I no longer have this luxury of certainty. I may come home in as little as eight months or in as long as three years, and my family doesn't envision a trip to France in the foreseeable future. Not knowing when I'll see everyone makes me way more anxious than leaving them for a long time. 

However, the exciting things in store for me are just as (if not more) certain as the random bouts of tears that will definitely take place at the airport. Mood boards have been really inspiring me lately, so I thought I'd make one of--you guessed it--France.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Dead Sea

I just had a luxurious mud bath.

Yes, you read that correctly. I caked my body in mud and then rinsed it off with steaming-hot water, leaving my skin soft and beautiful. And it's all thanks to the Dead Sea.

My own photo, taken in Israel. Jordanian mountains in the background.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway: Beauty Stash

Packing up my things for France, I've realized that I have lots of unused deluxe beauty samples (and even some full-sized products). Rather than ditching them, I thought that maybe my readers would be interested in giving them a home!

The items range from foil packets to full-sized products, drugstore brands to designer and Birchbox brands, and skin-care products to makeup. Some of them even come from Europe (as in, I brought them home from France last summer)! While it may not look like a lot, the total value of these samples is around $100.

My lovely best friend, Lydia, is co-hosting this giveaway with me and I'm so excited about working with her! While I helped her with some of the logistics of starting a blog, she's helped me immensely with blog graphics and the like. Definitely a mutually beneficial relationship. :) She blogs at Down and Out In Sephora, so make sure to check her out!

Unfortunately, because of high shipping costs and the steep expenses associated with my move, I can only ship to the U.S. I'm sorry, my dear international readers! The giveaway will end on September 12, at which point I will announce the winner on social media as well as email the winner. The winner will have 72 hours to respond or else I will choose a new one.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Wish List

Happy September, everyone! This has always been my favorite month--it's my birthday month, the start of the new school year, and now it's the month that I move to France!

My wish list this month is focusing on Nordstrom products. As a Nordstrom Rewards member, I get points for purchases, and when I accumulate enough points I get Nordstrom gift cards (called "Nordstrom Notes")! Right now, I have $40 in Nordstrom Notes, and as they expire within the year, I'd like to use them up before I make my way across the Atlantic. It's up to you to help me decide how to use it!

I've been wanting these Kendra Scott earrings for about a year now, but they cost $52. Do I want to blow my $40, and then some, on one pair of earrings? They are pretty darn gorgeous...

Then, we have the skin-care products. Oh, how I adore my Kiehl's. This Blue Herbal Spot Treatment is, you guessed it, a spot treatment for pesky pimples. It only costs $18, and I've been on the lookout for over-the-counter acne medications as insurance no longer covers my prescriptions. Plus, I know that if it's Kiehl's, it works. Regardless, I'm happily accepting any tips for combating acne that you may have!

While I quite love my Milani Best Red lipstick, I was thinking of visiting a MAC counter and having them help me find the best shade for my skin tone. I love this Viva Glam Rihanna color, and every penny in sales goes toward helping people living with HIV/AIDS.

Finally, I need a new BB cream, and desperately. My beloved Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm is nearing its end, and while I 100% recommend it, I'm looking for something with an SPF of at least 30. This MAC Prep + Prime Beauty Balm has SPF 35 and comes in a multitude of shades, whereas the COOLA tinted mineral sunscreen is a tried and trusted favorite.

Now, it's your turn to help me. How should I spend my $40 credit (I'm willing to pay up to $15-20 out of pocket)? And if you have any favorite acne products, please share!

Shop my wish list:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Influenster VitaVoxBox

Woohoo, another Influenster VoxBox! This time, I got the Vitality VoxBox, also known as the VitaVoxBox. This box was all about promoting health and beauty during the summer months, and I loved it!

I've actually made my first ever YouTube video for this, so you can hear all of my product reviews below. Excuse the fact that I'm barely wearing makeup--I filmed this while sick. So check out everything that I have to say, and let me know if you received this box, too!

Another aspect of this box was gearing up for a #BikiniReadyLifestyle. While I'm more of a one-piece kind of gal, I think my biggest tip would be wearing LOTS and LOTS of sunscreen! I'm very partial to COOLA and Kiehl's, and always wear at least SPF 30. I'll probably move toward La Roche-Posay once I get to France, though!

So, what do you think about the video? As soon as I move to France (23 days! AH!), I'll probably start posting more! Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see!

Products from this box:

P.S., are you interesting in joining this awesome community? Leave your email address below and I'll send you an invite!

Full disclosure: I received these products compliments of Influenster to review, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Product Review: Exuviance Illumination Duo

Oh, how lucky I am that BrandBacker send me ANOTHER anti-aging product! This time, I received samples of the Exuviance Illumination Duo and Performance Peel AP25.

Photos via NeoStrata Company.

Let's start with the Illumination Duo, which is comprised of the Vitamin C+ Antiaging Booster and the Evening Restorative Complex. The Vitamin C+ Antiaging Booster is a serum, and I know I've talked about all of the benefits of using vitamin C on one's face. Brighter skin, fewer blemishes, filled-in wrinkles...the list is endless! The Evening Restorative Complex is the second step, and it's a cream that keeps skin smooth and soft. These products stay true to their word--they smoothed out some fine lines on my face and kept my skin feeling hydrated and soft!

I also really loved the Performance Peel AP25. It's a two-step peel, and I've never seen a more convenient product! Each step comes in its own individual packet and is a soaked cotton round. The first step is soaked in the peel, and the second step is soaked in the "neutralizer" (which you wipe on your face after letting the peel sit for 10 minutes). It literally just takes a few swipes to give yourself a facial peel with this product, and there's zero mess! Plus, my skin didn't burn with it, and I have very sensitive skin. I was incredibly impressed by this product, and my face felt baby soft after washing off the peel.

My own image.

While these products are somewhat pricey, with the Illumination Duo retailing at $77, the prices are competitive with other anti-aging products. And let's not forget that the $77 gets you TWO products!

Have any of you tried the Exuviance Illumination Duo (or the Performance Peel AP25)? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

Full disclosure: I received this product courtesy of BrandBacker, but all opinions are my own.