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Iceland, Part Two: Ring Road Day Trip

Wow, somehow almost three months have passed us by and I finally have my last Europe recap for you. Local trips and more blog content than I could keep up with (this is a good problem to have!) meant that I kept pushing back the last of my Iceland posts further and further, but I'm so excited to share it with you today!

THE RING ROAD


On my previous trip to Iceland, I did part of the Golden Circle, but I knew that on this visit, with a bit more time to work with, I wanted to venture out onto the Ring Road. So many of those other worldly landscapes you see on Instagram from Iceland road trips come from the Ring Road, and I was so pumped to see it for myself. With an old school map in hand, a hope that getting lost would be next to impossible given the simplicity of the road system in Iceland, and wishing for a miracle that maybe our cell service would work, we set out bright and early on our Ring Road road trip.




ICELANDIC HORSES


Our first stop wasn't planned, but the minute I saw those fuzzy Icelandic horses on the side of the road, I insisted we pull over. This was something I missed last time, and I was not about to let that happen again. Along the Ring Road, you'll see Icelandic horses shortly after getting outside of Reykjavik, and often they're right along the road. How photogenic are they?!




SELJALANDSFOSS AND SKOGAFOSS


Waterfalls are one of the major attractions along the Ring Road, and I definitely wasn't expecting the impact of these natural falls. The first waterfall we stopped at was Seljalandsfoss, which is not pictured below because my camera was way too wet to capture it. At Seljalandsfoss, you can walk behind the waterfall itself and get an amazing view looking up from underneath the water. I'll be honest, I was one of the many people who was shocked at just how soaking wet you get when standing beneath a waterfall...I know, I know, it would seem to make sense, but somehow no one seems prepared. Consider this your warning.

We almost bypassed the next waterfall for the sake of time, but when we realized the Skogafoss was right off the main road, we decided to go for it. And I'm so glad we did. I thought Skogafoss was even more majestic than Seljalandsfoss. It's surrounded by the most stunning green moss, grass, or something, and once at the top, you have a breathtaking view of the waterfall and the path the water takes to get there.


How We Decorate for the Holidays in 600 Square Feet

Let me preface this post with a confession: I don't love decorating for the holidays. While I appreciate the twinkle of lights as much as the next person, I absolutely dread pulling out decorations only to put them away the next month. I try to make it a fun experience — pull out some eggnog and whatnot — but I can just think of so many better ways to get in a festive mood. 

Okay, that aside, let's move on to the real issue at hand here — how we decorate with minimal space.

FEELING FESTIVE

As you might have guessed from above, I'm not a traditional Christmas decor kind of girl. I can't do red and green, I don't want to deal with a real tree, and I certainly don't want colored lights. So I've found a holiday decor scheme that works for me. White, gold, and silver, with pops of pink and blue. I probably would have taken the pink out this year given that it no longer goes with my apartment decor...but then I'd be running super low on ornaments. Maybe next year. Also on the maybe next year list, acquiring a white ceramic vintage Christmas tree.




DISPLAYING CARDS


Another confession: I'm the type of person that throws things out right after I look at them, so I tried to do the same with all the holiday cards and Adam stopped me. Whoops. So, I agreed to display the cards this year. We have a cute tray on our TV stand/bookshelf that seemed like the perfect spot — especially because it's from The Jefferson in Richmond which is one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays.




The Shops at Fairfax Square

Well, y'all, I had my video debut this week! I worked with The Shops at Fairfax Square to celebrate the upcoming holidays and take a peek around all of the shops. From Tiffany to The Red Door Spa to Miele to Elegance by Roya, Chef Geoff's, and Liljenquist and Beckstead, I had such a blast exploring all the gorgeous holiday displays and chatting with the employees.

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS

You can check out the video below — I was so nervous about being on camera beforehand, but it ended up being a fun and totally low key experience. I'm excited to work more with them in the coming months!





VISIT THE SHOPS AT FAIRFAX SQUARE

Of course, if you find yourself in the Washington, DC area this winter, make sure you visit The Shops at Fairfax Square, especially if you're in need of a sparkly gift or just need to kick back and relax with a spa day — which don't we all deserve this time of year?!

Finding the Dream Dress

Ah, wedding dress shopping. The part of planning a wedding that gets romanticized again and again. I imagine I’m not the only one who has thought about her dress a time or two before getting engaged, so there seems to be a lot of weight on this one item. You’re picking one dress for one day…and it needs to stand the test of time, or at least photographs. All this is to say, I knew I would be writing this post when I decided to bring wedding prep onto the blog.

FIRST, A FEW WORDS

I have been with a few friends to pick out their dresses, but I guess I’d never paid a ton of attention to the whole process. Which is why I was surprised when the experience at each salon seemed a bit less personal than I expected. The stylist doesn’t ask anything about my wedding except the date, doesn’t ask my fiancĂ©’s name. They are solely focused on the gown I want. I thought it would be a more fun, warm, friendly experience, but maybe that’s just me having watched too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. They were, however, super knowledgable about the dresses and totally honest with opinions.




DRESS SHOPPING PREP

Okay, so now that you know not to expect bottles of champagne and fireworks, let’s get down to business. As I said before, it’s one dress, one day. If I had an unlimited budget, sure, I’d spend $10,000 on my absolute dream dress. But, I don’t, so I knew I would be trying to keep my dress, all alterations and accessories included, under $1,000. Yes, that sounds crazy, but that’s what I'm working with.

Next, narrow down what you’re looking for, but be open. I made a list of the types of necklines I wanted to look at – boatneck, tank, high neck, the shape – ballgown, embellishment – minimal, the look – classic. This helps guide the conversation with the bridal stylist and gives you somewhere to start, but remember to keep an open mind. You never know what might surprise you.

Finally, make your appointments according to the first two steps here. Ask what their range is and what designers they carry. I wasn’t going to bother with a bridal boutique that started at $4,000 or only specialized in flowy, vintage inspired gowns. Also, expect that you’ll be making appointments several weeks out.

First Annual Reader Survey

Oh hey, it's my first annual Reader Survey! I've been kicking up the content this year, and I want to know what y'all think. There have been a few more home posts, a few less outfit posts, an entertaining post here and there, and I've been creating more in depth travel guides. Of course, there's also going to continue to be wedding content in 2018.

What do you want to see more of? Which posts do you find to be the most helpful? Any destinations you want to see covered in travel? What about wedding experiences or home how to's?

WHAT'S IN THE SURVEY?

There are just ten questions, some multiple choice, some short answer, and you can answer as few or as many as you'd like. The most important thing is getting your feedback and helping it inform my editorial calendar for 2018. Thank you to everyone in advance for letting me know what you want to read!




HOW ELSE CAN YOU REACH ME?

On the same note, I'm always available to answer questions if you're left wondering more after a post is finished or if you want to see something specific covered on the blog or if you're a brand looking for a partner and you think I could be a good fit. You can always email me at hmbien@gmail.com.

25 Days of Beauty with Clarins

Why limit the beauty gifts to one day this month? There are holiday parties all month long, and you'll want new products to primp for each and every one! So, I was beyond excited to receive the Clarins Advent Calendar. Seriously, you can't beat opening up a fun product from Clarins each day.

WHAT'S IN IT?

There are 18 products from full size to trial size in the Clarins Advent Calendar. Okay, okay, I went ahead and opened them all up at once. I've never been one for surprises. But, that works out better for you all, right? Otherwise how would I ever let you know what to expect?

There are also a few keychains, a bracelet, and gift tags tucked amidst all the beauty products, but those weren't quite as exciting for me. However, if you're someone who loves sparkly little somethings, you'll definitely be into them.




OLD FAVORITES

Several of my all time favorite Clarins products make an appearance in this Advent Calendar, so you know they're winners. A Lip Oil in a sparkly holiday edition is perfect for a festive evening out and Joli Rouge lipstick is a year round classic. The Hydra-Essential Silky Cream is my go to day cream anytime my face needs an extra dose of dewy moisture (which is most every day), and of course a Hand and Nail Cream is always a must have.


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