The Girlfriends Guide to Sonoma Valley

It's been six months since my last girls trip with Lauren of Lauren Myers & Co., my good friend, and fellow blogger. On our previous Girls Weekend Trip, we both flew into Chicago, Lauren from Atlanta and I from Sacramento to meet-up and explore the city. We had such a fantastic time visiting Museums, indulging in sweets, having the best slice of deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's and saying cheers at Cindy's Rooftop Bar (check out The Girlfriends Guide to Chicago) We were super excited to plan our next trip. 

For our first Girls Trip of the year, we decided to explore two of my favorite places in Northern California; Wine Country in Sonoma and San Francisco. Together we've created the ultimate guide to Sonoma Valley sharing ideas to make your girlfriends trip memorable. We're so excited to take you along and share our fun-filled day. *This post contains sponsored content, please note all word and opinions are our own. 

THE GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE TO SONOMA VALLEY

Sonoma County is located in Northern California, about 65 miles from San Francisco and is the birthplace of California's Wine Country. Sonoma is a year-round vacation destination encompassing over 100 premium wineries, award-winning olive oil suppliers, fabulous restaurants and boutique shops. Lauren and I were excited to include Sonoma Valley in our weekend Girls Trip and spent a full day exploring, wine tasting, visiting the Museum and taking in all the sights of the stunning rolling hills filled with grape vines. 

SONOMA VALLEY MUSTS | WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO EAT

WINE TASTING

Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room // When visiting Sonoma Valley, wine tasting is a must! This was Lauren's first-time wine tasting at a Winery, and we were excited to elevate our wine tasting experience with a wine & food pairing. Lauren and I enjoyed an intimate wine and food pairing at Mayo Family Winery located in Glen Ellen. The winery is family owned and was established in 1993.  There are two locations in Glenn Ellen- the winery/tasting room, and the Reserve Room. Lauren and I were treated to a seven-course food and wine pairing. The artisan bites and wine were incredible; Chef John Locher was a fantastic host explaining each food + wine pairing. The standouts were the 2013 Zinfandel, Ricci Vineyard, "Old Vines" paired with the Smoked Chinese Rib (the rib was so tender and juicy!). We also loved the 2016 Zinfandel Port, Ricci Vineyard paired with Valrhona Pot de Creme, Marinated Strawberries; incredible! We felt so spoiled with the fantastic pairings and agree this is the best way to enjoy wine tasting. 

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Additional Wineries to Visit // Chateau St. Jean and Viansa Sonoma both located in Sonoma

WHERE TO EAT 

Girl and the Fig // The restaurant is located in Sonoma Square, boasting an antique bar and serving delicious French Country inspired food. Their menu changes each season sourcing produce and veggies from local growers. 

 image via  Sonoma Plaza  

image via Sonoma Plaza 

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My girl Lauren is taking over the post! Lauren is the owner of Lauren Myers & Co; teaching bloggers & creativepreneurs to maximize their time with E-courses/tips and strategies. Lauren is my go-to girl for all things blogging + good friend! Take it away L! 

TAKE IN SOME CULTURE

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art // Our first stop in Sonoma Valley was the hidden gem, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  I love visiting local museums whenever I go on vacation.  We had the pleasure of receiving a private tour of the museum.  This was a special experience which elevated our visit.  I have never been on a guided tour of a museum, but now that I have I don’t think I can go without!  It was so insightful and created a stronger connection to each piece just by knowing more about the artist, the current events in the world at the time, the backstory and inspiration detailing why the artist chose to make each piece.  Our guide, Margie Maynard, was so knowledgeable of every piece of art in the gallery.  Margie is the Director of Education and Engagement at the museum and her passion for the arts is evident because of the excitement in her voice when speaking of each piece.

 image via Sonoma Valley Muesum of Art

image via Sonoma Valley Muesum of Art

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art opened in 1998 and has since staged more than 70 exhibitions and attracted more than 130,000 visitors.  The museum has more great things to experience outside of their current exhibits.  They have art workshops for all ages and special events where an artist that is currently displayed will visit the museum to have candid conversation about their pieces all while sipping the delicious wine that Sonoma Valley has to offer.  They also host fundraising events and musical performances, and Wednesdays are free admission days.  SVMA is the largest visual arts organization in the San Francisco North Bay region.  I recommend adding the museum to your list when visiting Sonoma; you will not regret it!  It’s a perfect way to add a bit of culture to your trip and learn more about local artists.
 

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EXPLORE AND SHOP SONOMA PLAZA

Sonoma Plaza // After our visit to the museum, we strolled around the plaza and did a little shopping.  There were so many different shops, it’s hard NOT to find something that appeals to you!  The shops included locally made goods, jewelry, clothing and specialty items.  You can find truly unique items to take home reminding you of your amazing trip to Sonoma Valley.  The plaza is full of shops, wine tasting rooms and restaurants and the scenery is stunning!  Flowers in full bloom, vibrant colors around every corner and beautiful walkways leading you around town were what we experienced.  Sonoma is absolutely breathtaking!

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While strolling, we realized that Sonoma Valley isn’t just for adults; it’s a family-friendly destination! There was a beautiful playground with children playing in the square, there were ice cream shops which were perfect for relaxing on a hot day, and there was an amphitheater in town square called Grinstead Amphitheater where concerts and other outdoor performances and events are held.  There is plenty of seating and it’s a great place to relax after a long day of exploring.  In fact, towards the end of our day we relaxed on a bench and took in the beautiful surroundings.

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Sonoma Valley is full of hidden gems and should not be overlooked when visiting Northern California.  The atmosphere was great, the people that we met were friendly and the town as a whole was welcoming.  Sonoma is a perfect place to have a girl’s day trip because there is so much to do, see and experience.  I’m so happy to have experienced this great town with Katrina!
 

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IF YOU LOVE THIS, PIN IT! 

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We loved the day with spent in Sonoma, the weather was absolutely  perfect. Visiting the Sonoma Wine Country is always a fantastic treat, so happy I got to experience this with Lauren. Girls trips are blast and absolute must! Next week on the blog we're sharing our Guide to San Francisco, we had a fun-filled weekend and can't wait to spill all the tea! 

Tell us, when was your last girls trip? Where is your dream girls trip location? 

Good Skin Days | Beauty Products I love

When I relaunched my blog in January under my name, my plan was to include more lifestyle content. For me lifestyle means adding more topics to my blog I'm passionate about, including travel, entertaining and girl stuff. Sharing the 'stuff' I chat with my friends about and on Instagram Stories. One of my favorite topics lately is skin care! 

In late 2016, I was noticing how dull my skin was looking; I'm talking zero radiance and zero glow. I looked on Groupon and opted to try Microdermabrasion facial, I had two sessions, and my skin began looking better.  Microdermabrasion is a treatment that is supposed to help treat light scarring,  discoloration, exfoliate your skin giving it a fresh feeling.  

My biggest takeaway from the sessions was talking to the Esthetician at length about my skincare regime and my skin type. I have sensitive oily-dry skin; my forehead easily gets oily and other areas on my face dry-out. I was using the same skin-care products on my for years with no positive results. I was stuck in a skincare rut, and my face was paying the price. At the beginning of 2017, I decided to make some skin care changes and completely threw out my old Neutrogena products and looked for products that are naturally based and would help the appearance and smoothness of my skin. 

Over that past year, I've created a buffet of products for my skin and my skin is loving it! My face now is now more even in tone, feels hydrated, feels smoother, breakouts are non-existent and I feel like my skin glows! I can honestly say my skin has never looked and felt better! Before buying my new products, I read every review and allowed myself time to try the new products and confirm my skin loved them. 

There is something empowering about changing up a routine that is not working for you. It's a good feeling. I'm currently using three different skin care brands to meet my skincare needs: Aveeno, The Ordinary and DeramaE. I love them all. Below I'm sharing the skin care products and love and how I use them. 

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Morning Skincare Routine 

In the morning I wash my face with Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Cleaner and then use The Ordinary Toning Solution. When I was using Neutrogena toner, it would always sting my face, with The Ordinary Toning Solution there is zero stinging. After toner, I use Aveeno Positively Radiant Lotion with SPF 30, I'm obsessed with this lotion. It doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy, I add 1-2 drops of The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil to my Aveeno lotion. It's like my little pot of GLOW! I typically wait about 30-60 seconds before applying makeup. My makeup routine is very minimal, most days I'm makeup free. when I am wearing makeup it's a simple combination light foundation, pressed powder, a little blush and maybe mascara and lipstick. After applying makeup I spritz my face with DermaE Hydrating Mist, this can be used any time of the day when you face needs a refreshing boost. I typically use it after applying makeup as a setting spray. Love this spray, it's feels so good on my skin! 

Honorable Mentions: I also love DermaE Essentials Radiance Toner, its magic in a bottle! I used this religiously until my Ordinary Toning Solution arrived. Both these toners are amazing and both of them sell out! I was stalking The Ordinary Toner for months before it was back in stock.

I also love the DermaE Illuminating Rosehip and Cranberry Face Oil, its such an incredible face oil. Another favorite of mine is Rose Water by Mario Badescu, love it! It's a great Summer Hydrating mist, it smells good and feels really refreshing. 

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Evening Skin Care Routine

In the evening I add a few products in the rotation to help hydrate my skin and help diminish hyperpigmentation. My skin tends to scar very easy and discolor. I use my favorite cream cleanser from Aveeno, then The Ordinary Toning Solution. I used Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream, I love this cream it's nice and thick and a little goes a long way, I add 2-3 drops of The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil to the cream and then wait about about a minute to allow the cream and oil to absorb into my skin. Lastly, I apply The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone, this cream is very similar to apply primer to on your skin., it glides on smooth. Vitamin C is supposed to be really good for the skin and helps brighten the skin, reduce the signs of aging. 

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Weekly Skincare Favorites

The products I shared above I use every day and swap a few of them out a couple times a week. I use Aveeno Positively Radiant Overnight Hydrating Facial 2-3 times a week (swapping it with my regular night cream) The next morning after using the cream, my face feels incredibly soft and refreshed. I also love using the Aveeno Positively Radiant Shower Facial 1-2 a week in the shower, it's a great gentle face scrub. My new favorite is The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, aka The Vampire 10 Minute Facial Mask. This is bananas good! I used this last week and loved it, my skin looked so good the next day! I was a little nervous to try because my skin is so sensitive, but it my skin was fine! 

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It's incredible how my much skincare has changed in one year and how much better my skin looks and feels. As I mentioned, my goal was to use more natural skin based products, which makes me heart DermaE so much, they're a California Based company with skincare products that are cruelty-free, GMO-Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free. I'm also in love with The Ordinary; I love their scientific approach that is free of all the crap. They clearly state on each of their products what it is free of nut-free,  water free, vegan and so on. Plus their products are affordable! I'm also a huge fan of Aveeno, love their skin care products for the mind and face! I love that the mix Active Naturals with a scientific approach to create amazing skin solutions. 

All the skin-care products I use are in the $6-18 range! I think good skin care products don't have to cost an arm and a leg to work! 

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Now that I've shared my favorite skin care products that I've been using, what are some of your tired and true brands? Are you also a fan of the skincare brands I mentioned above? If so what are your favorites?