ST. PATRICK’S DAY THEMED PHOTOSHOOT

Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! Are you feeling extra lucky today? I will find any excuse to celebrate a holiday!

I want to start a new series both on my blog & IG & the theme is 1 Prop = 5 Shots. As a creator, you constantly have to purchase new props for photoshoot ideas. So I wanted to be resourceful, economical and squeeze the most content I can with only using 1 product. The prop for St. Patrick’s Day themed photoshoot was a box of Lucky Charms Cereal! If you’re stuck and don’t know what content to create, check out my ideas below and give it a try. Enjoy this lovely Wednesday & remember, don’t forget to wear green to avoid getting pinched 😉

FAVORITE AMAZON DRESS FIND

I felt the need to dedicate a whole blog post to this dress because it is such a hidden gem of a find and YOU can all easily purchase it too! You won’t believe it, but it’s from Amazon and it’s only $32. Who knew Amazon had such stylish options for an affordable price!

This dress gives you the perfect twirly flow for photos and can be worn for so many different occasions- It’s versatile which is why I LOVE it. I wore it in the winter with heat tech leggings underneath to keep me warm. For Spring & Summer it’s the perfect loose fitting, airy dress. It’s elegant, flirty, luxe all in one and I’ve linked it HERE for you all to buy!! (Go to the Fashion section of my storefront and you’ll see it there) Seriously, you won’t regret it! 

XO,

Soph

OAK GLEN GUIDE

LA doesn’t seem to ever experience a change of season. Although I’m super grateful for the endless sunshine, it’s nice to have an escape and change in scenery! If you are in need to get out of LA for a day and experience the closest thing to “fall”, then keep on reading!

Disclaimer: Due to Covid-19, I am not promoting or encouraging everyone to start traveling as if everythings normal. But I also think it’s important to get out safely and do what makes you happy. Everyone has different comfort levels. Of course wear a mask ALWAYS, use hand sanitizer/ wash your hands, stay away from crowds. 

OAK GLEN 

Oak Glen is a 5 mile scenic loop tucked away by the San Bernardino mountains . The first apple orchard was established all the way back in 1876. Alot of the farms there can be repetitive so I’ve listed my 2 favorite spots for these “instagrammable” shots!

RILEY’S FARM 

Address: 12261 S. Oak Glen Road  Oak Glen, CA 92399 Hours: Wednesday- Sunday 10AM- 4PM

This is probably one of the largest farms in Oak Glen. It is the site of Revolutionary War Adventures, Colonial farm life, and old world activities.

Here are the most “instagrammable spots” I found on Riley’s Farm. They set up a little hay and wagon seat as a fun photobooth and I stumbled upon a patch of maple trees that had turned so beautifully! I’ve linked this beautiful Amazon dress find in my Amazon Storefront.

At their restaurant, The Hawk’s Head, they have a menu inspired by the comforts of early colonial America. Everyone is dressed up in character which makes it so much more fun! Unfortunately, due to Covid, the sit down service is on pause… But you can still head over to the bakery with a take out window and snack on a slice of apple pie and enjoy the view! 

It’s got your traditional U-pick trees from apples, to pears, to pumpkins, etc. They’ve got a tiny animal farm filled with the cutest goats, barns stuffed with souvenirs to buy and a revolutionary reenactment show to watch.

SNOW LINE ORCHARD AND WINERY

Address: 39400 Oak Glen Road Oak Glen, CA 92399 Hours: Weekends 10AM- 4PM

As you pull in, you’ll hear a live country band jamming away with plenty of outdoor seating for you to sit back and relax. Below are some instagrammable spots I found on location. They’ve got some epic rasberry/blackberry picking here. It lasts for 4-6 weeks so come at the right time! 

Sip on some deliciously sweet pressed apple cider. There are zero preservatives added and it’s all made with an antique cider press! Their cider comes in 3 different flavors: traditional cider, raspberry apple cider and cherry apple cider- I highly recommend trying some! Don’t forget to try their apple cider mini donuts too (warning: it’s veryyyyy sugary)

They’ve got their apple trees planted symmetrically close to one another in rows so this is another “instagrammable” spot on the property. There’s plenty of space to roam around and find a quiet spot to shoot without people in the background.

I hope you this convinces you to take some time to get out of the city and soak in some fresh air, nature, & experience a change of scenery! It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to drive from Santa Monica to Oak Glen and from there you can hop around to all the different farms. Make sure to tag me on social media (Click here) and follow me there for more daily updates, comment below if there are any hidden gems I’m missing close by in LA, and I cannot wait to share more in the future.

XO,

Soph

HALLOWEEN: Candy Corn Makeup

The classic, go-to treat for Halloween- CANDY CORN! This look was inspired by the colors of candy corn. I love that Halloween is a good excuse to get a bit dramatic with makeup looks. Every year, I transform into something new, and this year I wanted to look a bit more subtle and wearable.  

I know Halloween may be canceled this year, but you can still get in the spirit as if it’s happening! Check out my YouTube video for the beginning to end tutorial on how I came up with this look! Xo, Sophie

PRODUCTS USED:

  • Concealer: Tarte Shape Tape
  • Foundation: DiorSnow BB Cream
  • Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent
  • Bronzer: Benefit Cosmetics
  • Blush: BECCA Cosmetics X Chrissy Teigan
  • Eyeshadow: Nuview Cosmetics in Fall In Love Palette
  • Lip: Crystal Hearts

Helpful VAT Refund Tips!

Ever heard of a VAT Refund? If you’re heading to Europe and your goal is to do a lot of shopping, you’ll want to read and follow the steps to save a bunch of money. 

What is VAT?

So… for international markets, there is a VAT charge between 5%-25% that is ALREADY included in the price of the good. So if you’re visiting as a tourist, you are entitled to a VAT refund (value added tax refund) IF the purchase is over  175 when you leave the European Union. Items must leave the EU within 3 months of the date of purchase and the refund amount will vary depending on the location and customs laws. Sounds like a dream huh?

Where do I claim this refund?

In the airport; at the LAST stop in the European Union (EU) is where you will get your documents approved and receive your refund.

What kind of refund will I receive?

Depending on the EU country, the VAT standard rate will vary. You can easily google and find out what the percentage is. I’ve linked a website below where it does the calculation for you.

You will have 2 options at the airport: immediate cash back or credit card (will take 5-10 days to process) 

How do I find out the price of a merchandise?

You can estimate it based on the website listed price (luxury brands: YSL, Celine, etc) It’s hard to find the true price of the product until you go in person. The price tag you see on the product will typically be lower than the website listed price and on top of that you will get approximately 10-12% VAT refund on the price listed.

TIPS!

Organize your paperwork

Listen, travel days can get pretty stressful. To eliminate stress of feeling frazzled, bring a folder where you leave all the receipts, tax forms, etc. Have it all located in one place to make it a speedy, efficient process.

Have the UNOPENED merchandise with you at all times

Most people make the mistake of  checking in at the gate first and packing it away in your checked luggage. It is mandatory to have the merchandise with you while you process the refund. Sometimes they will do random checks and ask you to take out the product. Luckily, the 2 times I have done it they have not asked me to show them the purse. Also, most purchases that qualify for VAT are usually really fucking expensive, so I wouldn’t trust leaving it in your checked bag anyway… 

Go to the airport EARLY

I cannot stress this enough. You will NEED that extra time. The lines do get long especially if your flight coincides with Asian airlines. Just being honest, the lines are typically Asian tourists that buy out every single luxury store…  So assume the worst and show up 4 hours before departure. You don’t want to run out of time and either miss your flight or not receive hundreds-thousands of dollars on the refund. Before you head over to check in your luggage at the gate, go straight to the VAT Refund desk to proceed with your process. 

 For example, in London Heathrow, I only had to stand in 1 line to get my stamps/ process documents/ receive refund all through the same person. However, in Amsterdam, there was a two step process: first wait in one line for stamping, then to a different line for processing to finalize it all. 

Do Your Research (merchandize + airport)

First, find out what merchandise you want to purchase and see if there is a price difference. Not every merchandize is guaranteed to be cheaper. Usually, you get the best deals when you purchase brands produced in their own country. For Ex: YSL/ Chanel/Celine- Made in Paris vs. Gucci, Fendi- Made in Italy

Second, every airport varies in the VAT Refund process, so before you go, do you research on where the VAT area is and how to navigate the process.

Calculate Your Price

Below is a convenient & reliable website to calculate how much refund you’ll receive depending on the price of the merchandise. Enter the amount and country you’re purchasing it and it’ll do the work for you!

https://www.globalblue.com/tax-free-shopping/refund-calculator/

VAT REFUND Calculation Example

YSL Lou Lou in Burgundy Large

YSL Website Listed Price:  1990 Euros //  $2204.92

YSL Paris Flagship Store Price:  1790 //  $1983.32

VAT Refund:  214.80 //  $238 (will receive at airport after processing)

Total Price for YSL LouLou: $1745.32. 

Saved $459.60

I hope you found this VAT Refund guide helpful for your next trip to Europe! Let me know down below what are some of the goodies you purchased and received VAT refunds for!

Good luck and happy shopping!

Xoxo, Soph

Same Same, But Different

You tend to hear the saying “New Year, New Me” around this time of year and with that, everyone starts setting their new goals. Now if you think Jan 1 is a good time to set your intentions for the year, then by all means! For me, I prefer to set my goals WHENEVER I have a desire, not just at the start of the new year. Coincidentally, I spent Nov/Dec getting these blog posts ready so that I can officially launch my new blog now!

SO… It’s the start of 12 new chapters. 365 chances. This is my first post on here and I’d like to start by saying that I’m thrilled to have my blog start back up. During college, back in 2013, I created a lifestyle blog/youtube channel during a time where I was bored (honestly, miserable) in college and it was a way to distract and keep myself busy. I stopped keeping up with it and went through a period during which I wanted to keep my information private.I struggled with opening up about my personal life in fear of judgement from others who don’t even know me. Though I loved sharing my experiences and knowledge, I was feeling lost and confused with how much access people had to me.

Fast forward a couple years later, and now, I have a full time job that I love with all my heart and feel grounded and fully connected with myself to continue sharing my passion. I’m more than ready and have gotten to a mental space where I feel confident to embrace who I really am and overcame the fear of judgement. With more time on my hands, I have set new goals/boundaries to expand my knowledge and experiences with you all! I will provide travel series, self growth tips, instagrammable spots, wellness recipes, holy grail beauty products, and all the tips & tricks that help me become the happiest version of myself!

I can’t wait to pick this back up and start on this enthralling new journey. I want to create a community that supports one another and empower you to find what makes you happy. I hope you join along and that this blog inspires you to dream big, create a life you love, and inspire you to get out of your comfort zone. 

Xoxo,

Soph

P.S. For daily updates, follow along on @sophcation! 😉