Camping at Keowee-Toxaway State Park (SC)

lake keowee, south carolina, state park, camping, hiking
View of Lake Keowee. Can kind of see the jump-off rock where the boats are.

raven rock trail, lake keowee, hiking, south carolina, state park, camping
View of Lake Keowee from the Raven Rock Trail. Absolutely beautiful!

lake keowee, geese, south carolina, state park
A gaggle of geese swimming by one morning.

camping, lake keowee, toxaway, state park, south carolina, marmot, tent, trees, ts-3, ts-003
My campsite, TS-3. Right on the water.

In June 2016, Dallin went away for a three-day weekend without me. Instead of following him, I decided to do my own thing. I was thinking about flying somewhere like Nashville or Washington D.C. or maybe driving to Savannah. But in the end, I had this crazy idea that I would go camping by myself at one of the SC State Parks. Thinking back on 2016, even I'm like, "what the heck was going on, Cathy?" Maybe I was going through a third-life crisis or something. I just wanted to see if I could handle it by myself. Worst-case scenario was that I would get scared and drive home after a day. (Actually, I guess the worst-case scenario would be getting murdered, but I wasn't too worried about that for some reason). When I told the people at work, they kind of looked at me with a concerned look in their eyes, but I assured them that I would be okay and that I could handle it. Haha. I'm not sure if they believed me, but I wasn't concerned. I think Dallin thought I was crazy for wanting to do something like this, but he was also very supportive. 

I reserved a trailside campsite TS-3 at Keowee-Toxaway State Park, which had a beautiful view of Lake Keowee. TS-3 probably has the best view of the lake out of the three trailside campsites, since it's at the end/point. These trailside campsites are only accessible by hiking the Raven Rock Trail or paddling there via canoe/kayak. So, they're kind of secluded, but not really. There was a lot boat traffic since it was summer and the weather was so nice, but also far enough from the actual trail that I don't think many people walked through. It was secluded but I also saw people all the time. Haha! Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I felt really safe and I didn't feel like my stuff was going to get stolen when I was gone for the day.

The hike to the campsite was rough, y'all. I think it's only a total of 2 miles to get to the site, but the Raven Rock Trail is described as "moderately strenuous," with a lot of ascending and descending. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't overpack. My pack was 50+ lbs because I haaaad to bring all the foods "just in case" and I brought a lot of other unnecessary things. Probably could've shaved off 10 lbs, at least! But I survived. And I think that if I can bring everything I needed to survive 2 nights and more, anyone can do it!

I really recommend camping at one of these trailside campsites at Keowee. Or even just day hiking the trail or hanging out on the lake. The lake is amazing for real. The weather was so hot and humid. Pretty miserable, to be honest. Haha. But the lake water is so cold and refreshing. Plus, it's very clean. I spent most of my second day swimming, after exploring the trail. Also, if you're feeling adventurous, there is a rock that people jump off from into the lake. It seemed pretty popular and a lot boats hung out near there. Fishing at the lake was pretty good, too. I caught and released bream, catfish, and bass. I even kept a bass and cooked it for dinner my first night. Two thumbs up from me!

fishing, bass, south carolina, lake keowee, fish, camping
Proud AF of my bass. Haha.

Writing about this makes me miss SC even more. I think that if I had more time, I would've also camped, or at least visited, Lake Jocassee, which is a larger lake that actually feeds Lake Keowee (they're both man-made). But Devil's Fork State Park is apparently super popular and was booked solid! I have a lot of regret about not seeing more of South Carolina before I left. Haha... :( 

Does anyone else camping or hiking? Would you ever hike/camp solo? Also, what's your favorite trail? I'm so curious! :)

Current Cleansers: Mini Reviews!

I previously talked about facial cleansers that I was using in this post here (July 2014). Different cleanser products have come and gone since then. However, within the last couple of months, I've changed up my routine and mindset. I am no longer trying to use harsh, physical exfoliants (that microdermabrasion scrub! nooo). I now prefer chemical exfoliants (AHA/BHA) if anything, which I'll probably talk about in a later post.

I am trying to nurture my moisture barrier and my acid mantle by using cleansers that are around the skin's natural pH which is 5.5, slightly acidic. This blog post by Skin and Tonics was a revelation to me! I stopped using my old cleansers that I feared were too alkaline (with a pH of 6 or higher). I am not 100% sure of the pH of my old cleansers because I don't have pH test strips and couldn't find information online about it. However, I tried to keep using them, but I noticed that they make my skin feel more dry compared to my new "skin pH friendly" cleansers that I will talk about shortly. Not sure if that's just a psychosomatic response or not! Haha. But I'm putting them to good use by using them to clean my make-up brushes and sponges. :)

Facial Cleansers, Oil Cleanser, Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/I, SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, MRCS, Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash, pH 5.5

These are the cleansers that I'm currently using-
Oil Cleanser: Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/I
Water-based Cleansers: SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick and Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash

Valentine's Day 2016

Yesterday was Valentine's Day! I don't like to make a big deal out of it. I don't expect presents or flowers (but MAYBE CHOCOLATES!). But that's just me! If I want something, I'll buy it myself. And I feel like my husband is the same way, which is nice. No stress! However, we always enjoy eating out, regardless of the occasion. ;)

39 rue de jean downtown charleston south carolina bar restaurant upper king brunch
We sat near the bar this time. Ooh La La!

We went out for brunch at 39 Rue de Jean, which is literally located at 39 John St off Upper King St in Downtown Charleston. The first time we ate here was for dinner during Restaurant Week and we thought it was delicious! And brunch was the same. Yummy.

cathyahh mimosa 39 rue de jean charleston downtown brunch
Husband and I. It's unfair that he was hogging all the good lighting. Whatever! #backlit #potato

My Skin History: Acne, Stress, and Feel Bads

When I was younger: no responsibilities, no stress, and baby smooth skin!
Warning: this is a very text heavy post. Haha. It probably doesn't need to be this long, but whatever, you're all gonna hear about my skin woes from beginning to now.

tl;dr- 1) my skin was pretty bad, but now it's pretty good. 2) stress sucks and might be the reason you're breaking out. 3) it might seem like you're never going to achieve clear skin, but it is possible and i hope you find what works for you! 4) what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. in my experience, there is no such thing as a "cure." just try to nuture your skin and it will heal itself. i love this skin&tonics blog post about the moisture barrier. 5) bad skin can make you feel worse about yourself, which is a vicious cycle. try to be optimistic and don't let it stress you out even more. it can and will get better. treat yo'self (to a nap or a massage)! 6) maybe see a dermatologist! 7) asian skincare was a revelation!

While I was going through puberty, I didn't break out much. And I'm pretty sure that I had pretty "clear" skin when I was in high school. I used to get a pimple (or two! or three!) every month, but I think most people are that way (darn hormones!). If you don't, then you are truly #blessed. ;)

It wasn't until I started college that I started breaking out. I was majoring in engineering and I was overwhelmed from the very first semester! These breakouts would come and go throughout the five years it took for me to graduate. I amount I felt stressed out depended, more or less, on my coursework and whatever life circumstances were happening. And I didn't really know how to manage it at the time except for just pushing through and hoping for the best. (So much crying! So many existential crises!)

I remember feeling super awful whenever my skin would get bad. I would wear foundation to cover it up and sometimes I wouldn't even want to leave the house because I felt so bad. Typing that out just made me sad. Haha! The worst part about it is that I think some people assumed that I was using crap products or not washing my face or something intentional. I tried everything. I would research on the internet about "cures." The thing is that everyone's skin is different. And what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. (Cut out dairy! Apply tea tree oil or honey or apple cider vinegar or this miracle ingredient! Use this ONE brand of products! Make a blood sacrifice to the skin gods!). Sometimes it felt like I was pretty much doomed/cursed to live a life with acne. Or that maybe it was just the way my skin was due to genetics. Thanks, Dad! :) In retrospect, I should've probably seen a dermatologist, but you know... lack of insurance and money. *woo, college!*

Hello! It's been a while.

churaumi aquarium okinawa japan flowers display landscape manta ray flower
Hello! It's Me at Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa, Japan)

Hello All! It's been a LONG while. The last time I posted was in May 2015, while I was still on vacation in Japan. Yes, I'm a huge procrastinator. I still have a few presents from my trip that I haven't sent out. I'm horrible! But anyway, I'm going to try to get back into blogging. If you noticed, I purchased a domain name, kind of as a spur of the moment thing! It was $12 for a year, which isn't going to break the bank for me (even though I don't think I need it). I was debating on picking a catchier name, but in the end I was like, "mehhh... I don't care!" Some might think, "what the heck is cathyahh anyway?" But it's a username I've been using for so long now, it felt weird to choose something else.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in the past, but we have two kitties now! Wedge, a tuxedo cat, and a big ball of striped fluff named Dash. We took Dash in for his annual exam a month ago and the vet thinks he's part maine coon, which makes sense! He's not incredibly huge, but he is bigger than Wedge and he weighs a couple pounds more. Plus, he's so fluffy!

tabby striped cat part maine coon dash
Look at him in all his fluffy glory!

It's crazy to think that he used to be such a tiny kitten!

A photo posted by 🅒🅐🅣🅗🅨 🅒🅞🅞🅚🌺 (@cathyahh) on

Anyway, I hope to write more soon and on a (slightly more) regular basis! I have some things that I want to share, for any of you out who cares! Haha.

I'll leave you with a picture of Wedge dressed up as a unicorn:
wedge cat tuxedo black white unicorn outfit costume

See you soon!