Prepping for Morocco

When I was 20, I created a “30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30” and promptly lost it. whomp whomp I found it again this November and decided to cross a few things off before May.

At the top of the list was travel – Egypt, Morocco, Greece, the Scottish Highlands, Salem, MA… Though I couldn’t make all of those happen in 6 months, I booked a trip to Morocco! As you read this, I am in Marrakech.

If you’re anything like me, you like to do a bit of preparation before any major trips. I thought I’d share what I did to prepare, in case it is helpful for anyone else.

Booking the trip

This was the easiest part, surprisingly. I had been fascinated by the National Geographic Journeys for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one out. They have two main levels of travel – casual and premium. Casual has more relaxed travel (read – no 5 star hotels!) while premium is a more luxury experience.

Since I am headed to Morocco for the sights, not for the hotels, I booked a casual journey. This is the exact journey I’m taking. It includes all hotels, some meals and all in country travel.

That just left booking my flights and securing travel insurance. I opted to have the National Geographic tour operators book my flights, since that would ensure an airport transfer to the hotel. Could I have saved a bit of money booking it myself? Probably. However, the rates were comparable to what I found on my own and the ease made the extra few dollars an easy choice.

Learning

I prefer to go into a trip having read something about the area. It means I have something to “remember” as I am on a tour and I’ve found I get less overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds when I have some idea of what to expect. The added benefit is that I can enjoy more of what is around me since I’m not on sensory overload!

For this trip I read two memoirs about buying and renovating houses in Morocco. It’s important to note that both of these are outsiders representations of Morocco, not someone who is from the area. I attempted to find a Moroccan’s story, but couldn’t find any that would arrive in time.

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The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah

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A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke

 

Packing

Packing for this trip was the most stressful part — by far! The tour company requested that we bring only a backpack and a small daypack. Having successfully traveled to Paris and London last spring in a carry-on made this slightly less nerve-wracking but I wasn’t sure the size difference between my Away carry-on and a backpack.

Continue reading “Prepping for Morocco”

Christmas 2012: Beauty Wishlist

Now that I’ve shared the books that I want and the books that I recommend, I thought I’d move on to some beauty products I’ve had my eye on all year.

Bioderma Crealine H20

1. Bioderma Crealine H20 (Travel Size):

Since I saw Lisa Eldridge talk about this product in her skin care favorites video, I knew I had to have it! I recently bought the full-size version for home and I’ve been loving it. It’s the only makeup remover I’ve ever tried that doesn’t’ feel greasy and leaves my skin feeling clean. It’s a godsend when I’m too sleepy to take off my makeup and just want to crawl into bed. Unfortunately, the full-size version is just too big to haul around on trips so I would love to have the mini version!

PINCEAU FOND DE TEINT ESTOMPE No7 Blending Foundation Brush

2. Chanel Blending Foundation Brush:

I’ve been on quite the Chanel beauty kick lately and this brush would be the perfect
way to apply my new foundation! It’s fluffy, dries quickly after cleaning and gives a really natural finish to the skin.

Urban Decay Naked Palette

3. Urban Decay Naked Palette:

This little palette has made the rounds on the blogosphere (and youtube) for over a year! The colors
are the perfect neutrals to make any eye color pop and with it you’d never need to buy eyeshadow again!

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4. Clinique Even Better Eyes:

I’ll admit my under eye circles are something of a doozy — without concealer I wake up looking like I had a hard night at the wrestling ring the night before. I’ve used the Clinque All About Eyes Serum since I was in middle school but their new product promises even better results. Santa, please?

Caudalie Serum

5. Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum:

Though I am still too young to go crazy over anti-aging serums, I would love to begin working a basic serum into my nighttime routine. This one promises to fade dark spots and keep them from coming back — music to this former acne sufferer’s ears!


Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream

6. Elizabeth Arden 8-hour Cream:

This one is a cult-classic and I hear it’s definitely worth the hype! A moisturizer that smells divine, absorbs well and softens even the driest skin. It comes in lip, hand, body and face versions — gotta love multipurpose products!

Deborah Lippman Happy Birthday

7. Deborah Lippmann Glitter Nail Polish in Happy Birthday:

I’ve loved this polish since it launched a few years ago but I still haven’t managed to get my hands on a bottle! It’s a great glitter with multi-colored dots — perfect for a birthday party or new years eve.

Check out my other gift guides:

Books on my list

Books I recommend

Francophilia rediscovered

Despite my recent foray into life across the pond, my love for the French remains undiminished. Call me fickle or inconstant but I was sure my love of France had been eclipsed by England’s beauty…until today.

It all started over the summer when I saw Midnight in Paris. Whatever you may think about Woody Allen, the work is genius. The scenery, the representation of artistic greats and the costuming is beyond amazing.If you haven’t seen the film I highly suggest you rush to a theater before it disappears!

(Also as part of a semi-shameless plug, check out my post on Dormify about decorating your dorm room with Midnight in Paris as the inspiration)

Of course, with this as in all things, I was stubborn. I wanted to believe that my adoration stemmed from a love of Stein, Picasso and the beautiful music rather than from the city of love. Oh how wrong I was!

I’ve begun reading Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard. The book details Ms. Bard’s experiences abroad, from studying in Scotland during her junior year through her time as a graduate student in London and onto meeting her husband and moving to Paris. The romance is like something out of a romantic comedy (emphasis on the comedy). The French seem in turn more relaxed and more uptight than I’d ever seen them.

The insights offered into the French mystique make me want to a) start wearing silk scarves b) bike everywhere c) learn to love French cuisine and d) watch French films. Obviously this is one to read!

Off to watch Amelie,

Alexandra

Winter Wonderland….or not.

I woke up on Thursday to a courtyard that looked like this:

Looks pretty right? Wrong. The British still swear that they NEVER get snow so they don’t know how to deal with it when it arrives. Heathrow Airport has been shut down for the past two days and all of my Kenyon friends are stuck in London attempting to reschedule their flights. Needless to say, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with snow right now!

Right now I am avoiding my two massive papers–due January 13 so I have plenty of time–and packing for my trip to Italy with my mom and dad. While we are there Mom will attempt to blog (If you know her, you know what a stretch this will be. She still can’t work the DVD player we’ve had for three years–I love you Mom!). I will be helping her out with this so hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out. She is blogging over at : http://www.jeannemariepatterson.tumblr.com so check out the details of our trip over there. I’ll try to get some posts done as well but……shopping papers come first!

 

In the mean time please be praying for all those stuck at Heathrow.

Happy Holidays,

A

I just did something crazy…

Hey all!

Today I decided to join Six Items or Less to help me adjust to living with fewer clothes before I head off to England. Here’s the description of the project from their website:

The idea: people from around the globe pledge to choose only six items of clothes (or less if you’re hardcore) and wear only those clothes from June 21st to July 21st 2010. The six items do NOT include: socks, shoes, accessories, workout wear or undergarments. We don’t know what this will do to people or how they’ll react; we’re curious.

For the next month, I’ll be attempting to live with wearing only 6 items of clothing. I doubt that I’ll stick to it fully, I love creating outfits too much! However, I’m going to try really really hard to stick within the rules.

I’ll be blogging over at Six Items or Less under the name “alexandrampatterson6items”!

Overwhelmed already,

A