"But everything is fine... why are you so anxious?"
How many times have you heard someone ask you this......
I’m definitely an anxiety prone person. Always have been since I was a child. It’s no secret that as my Crohn’s journey escalated, so did my anxiety. It sucks and really messes with your head when you KNOW something is wrong and nobody can figure out what it is or what to do about it.
Now that I’ve learned to live with my symptoms and gotten things way more under control, my anxiety still hangs over me. Now that things are going, dare I say well, I am constantly worried that it’s all going to come crashing down. I remember how bad things were before and how little control I had over the situation. I’m truly so scared of going back to that. What scares me is that no matter how you treat your body, sometimes it is out of your control. Chronic illnesses are crazy like that.
Over the past few months I’ve been trying to work through my anxiety and the fear I have of the unknown. It’s hard. And honestly I thought when I started physically feeling better and functioning well, all would be fixed. I never thought the emotional impacts of my Crohn’s journey would change me the way they have. I would love to report back saying I’ve had a breakthrough and decided to embrace ‘trusting the universe’. Well, I haven’t! I’m a work in progress and I don’t know if I’m the person who will ever get to that point.
The takeaway from me sharing this isn’t that I have the answers to remedy the emotional impacts of this disease. I surely do not. What I do want to be a takeaway is that it’s normal that this disease impacts you mentally. There are probably things you didn’t even know are related to being sick that have been messing with your head. It’s worth taking the time to commit to yourself to sort through your thoughts and feelings so that you can better enjoy when you physically are feeling good! I resisted going to therapy for so long because I thought I’d fought through so much already, I could fight through my anxiety too. That wasn’t the case. Opening up about my struggles ended up being on of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Looking back, I was brave enough to share my physical impacts of Crohn’s and lean on others in the community. Why was I so reluctant to accept help from the emotional side of it? I think mental health is seriously one of the most under addressed issues relating to chronic illness. So let’s do it together and lean on each other. Let’s reinforce that it’s OKAY to need to prioritize your mental health just as much as your physical health. Let’s do this together.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
For the past few months, I've been on this Apple Cider Vinegar trend. Before people were doing shots of it and then it transitioned to the beauty world where Youtube was flooded with bloggers hyping up the benefits. I'm not going to lie, I usually am a sucker to try out whatever the hot new beauty ingredient is. Obviously I hopped on the ACV train, but months later, I think I'm actually sold long term. There really are some great benefits that you can get from ACV based products that actually do live up to the benefits they boast. The main area where I've seen the benefits? My hair. I've consistently been using ACV products as part of my hair care routine for the past few months and I have to say, the results are pretty good. My hair always struggles in the summer with build up from swimming, sunscreen, and my usual excess of dry shampoo. I have cycled through various clarifying shampoos and treatments without a ton of success. These Apple Cider Vinegar products I've found are the first to actually clarify my hair without stripping my color or making my hair feel sticky/dry/gross -- you know the feeling I'm talking about. For someone who doesn't like washing their hair that much, my hair better feel damn good when I do wash it.
My favorite ACV shampoo that I've found is this one from Maple Holistics. I usually really love their products because they truly have great ingredients, their products really work, and they are SO cost effective. I highly recommend this for anyone really, but specifically if you have color treated hair and are swimming a lot during the summer. This stuff is a life saver because it actually conditions the heck out of your hair while removing chlorine build up. Another time when this stuff saves the day? After getting an updo or your hair done for an event. I know this sounds rather specific but hear me out, it is wedding season after all. Getting your hair styled for an event looks great in the moment, but the trauma of taking out all of the bobby pins and combing through the styling products when you get home at night is not on my top list of greatest feelings. I always feel like my hair is stiff, sticky, and dry, even after multiple washes. Good news, I've tested this shampoo out in that exact situation and it exceeded my expectation. Something about the clarifying properties mixed with the conditioning ingredients was the perfect combination to get the gunk out of my hair but also leave it feeling healthy and shiny. Who knew that hair miracles could happen for only $12 per bottle? And you can get it via Amazon Prime (my fave, you know).
So my Maple Holistics is my most used ACV product, but I do have a few others I like to keep in rotation for specific needs. DPhue has a great line of ACV products that are great supplements to your routine. They are a bit pricier (and worth if for sure) but that is why I like to use them a bit more sparingly. I'm really into the ACV Hair Rinse. I shared the details on my love for this product as part of my Budget Friendly Beauty Breakdown for haircare. You can get all of the details on how to use it and why I love it, there. The bottom line is, you can use this between actual washes to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
Another supplementary product I've looped into my routine this summer is the DPhue ACV Hair Masque. I've been picking these up in the travel sized packets and toting them around with me on vacation. After being in the water I pop this stuff in my hair BEFORE I shampoo. It helps to smooth things out before you comb through your hair. I leave it in for a bit then rinse and shampoo. It helps with the detangling and hydration without weighing your hair down a lot. Since I have pretty fine hair, I only need a little so one of the tiny packets can last me usually around three washes.
As I continue exploring ACV products and their benefits, I am branching out into skincare next and trying an ACV face mask this weekend. I'll report back, but for now, enjoy these gems of products that will certainly help your hair look and feel its best. Especially after this last weekend of summer when everyone is trying to get their last of pool and beach time in, you will need these come Tuesday morning......
Our next vacation is just a little over a month away and I am ready to go. I mean, I’m always ready for vacation, but this is our last Disney World trip for a little while. I know I always say this, but for real it actually is going to be. We have another fun, very Disney related trip that we’re planning in the winter so really we have to chill on the trips to WDW for at least a little bit. The other day someone commented that we literally always have a vacation/trip planned. Yeah, we do. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Honestly, for me planning the trip is almost as fun as going. I love researching where to go, hunting for deals, and looking forward to the plans. Disney World is probably the vacation spot where it is the most crucial to plan ahead. I think this might kind of be why I love it so much. There is so much involved in the planning it’s an activity in and of itself. The way I think about it, if you’re going to spend money on a vacation, why not enjoy the anticipation and planning of it.
I’ve done Disney World enough times to appreciate the planning that goes into it and respect the hell out of people who do that as a job. (Shout our to my sister). Luckily she helps me with all of the tough stuff (reservations, fast passes, etc.). I do always make a 30 days out plan no matter what trip I’m going on to make sure I’m ready when takeoff comes and my stress is as minimal as can be. One thing I’ve realized about traveling with Crohn’s is minimizing the stress in the front end of the trip can be critical in preventing a flare.
For those who aren’t anxiety ridden Type A’s like myself, you may think I’m crazy for planning so far out, but I promise you, there are a few things that if you do early will save you so much stress come travel time.
My first piece of advice is to make your packing list. I know this seems far out but I swear there is a reason. By making your list early, you can identify items you are missing/ need to order. You can cue up your Amazon Prime list to fill in the gaps on your list. I like to plan outfits ahead of time so I can look for deals on additional pieces I need. I also like to start ordering cosmetic items from Amazon because I can usually get a good deal for them and I’m not scrambling at the last minute to pick things up.
Extra Tip: A little bonus tip here... I get SO many samples of beauty/makeup/skincare products. Between subscription boxes, free samples, and gifted items I have a big collection. I keep all of my extra sample and travel sized products in a special bin in my bathroom closet. This way, I can grab items to pack quickly if I need to. This is also great for guests that are staying at your house! Real friends enforce each other’s skincare routines, okay?
Check for upgrades. I LOVE this one. For our honeymoon, our cruise line sent out and email to bid on upgrades. This was the first time I saw this, but ever since I’ve been ON IT. If a cruise ship or resort hasn’t reached capacity by 60 to 30 days out, sometimes they will let you bid to upgrade your accommodations. This usually means blindly putting forth an amount of money, designated by you and usually A LOT less than market value, to score a nicer room. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always worth a shot. Sometimes vacation packages will offer add ons as it gets closer to your travel date that you can purchase for a discount. This includes things like drink packages!
Make sure dinner reservations are made and activity plans are solidified. This is a big one if you are traveling to a destination hoping to hit a hot spot for dining or drinks. When we went out to LA I knew SUR and Pump were on my ‘must see’ list, so I made sure to lock down reservations as soon as they were available. You can always switch things around as it gets closer, but it’s better to at least have something on the books. This is so key in Disney Parks where you can get highly coveted dining reservations six months in advance. Now this requires a TON of foresight so soon I’m looping my Disney planner sister in on a post to give you the whole scoop on that. Definitely it is something to be aware of though. When it comes to activity plans/ tours it is also important to research and plan in advance. Especially if there is something you really want to do or see, book it early so you don’t miss out.
These next 30 days as we gear up for our trip I’ll be knocking out these items on my ‘to do’ list. I’ve gotten a bit of a head start and have a huge Amazon clothes haul on the way, along with my outfit for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I’ll continue to update y’all on my finds and my preparation process!
Okay, we know Amazon is where its at for just about everything. I got great feedback on my Amazon Fashion Finds blog post I did a little while ago, so I decided to start to share some more of my Amazon faves. I’ve been on a serious budget kick lately as were trying to factor in revamping some areas of our house and (hopefully) a new car soon, without sacrificing our love for traveling and our upcoming trips. Amazon is a life saver for not only getting stuff delivered to your doorstep in record time, but also for finding quality items at great prices. I’ve decided to give you all an inside look on what my Amazon shopping list has looked like for the past month, highlighting the top five items that are budget friendly and have made my life easier in some way or another.
This COLOR WOW spray is a miracle for your hair. My mother in law recommended I try this stuff to combat the frizzy hair problems that summer brings. This heat activated spray works like a keratin treatment that you apply to your hair every three washes. I have super fine hair, but it doesn’t weigh it down. It gives me a silky texture and keeps my ends from getting dry and unruly. Its less than $30 and you only need a little bit every use so you really get a bang for your buck.
This here is a digital camera card reader that imports photos from your memory card directly to your iPhone. I bought this solely based on the recommendation of my friend and favorite photographer, Madison Short. She posted it as a must have on her Insta story and for only $12 I was sold. It makes updating your content while traveling so much easier so it’s a big must for any avid bloggers.
I haven’t stopped wearing these headbands. The Skinny Confidential posted these Gucci knockoffs the other day in Instagram and I purchased IMMEDIATELY. They are a current favorite for spicing up a boring outfit and ideal for days when you want to look put together but washing your hair is not in the cards for you. You can get all three colors for $12. Score.
I needed a new vanity mirror since mine just died on me, so I ordered this one on Prime Day. The mirror is way bigger compared to its circular predecessor and the lighting is perfectly even. It is battery powered so there is no annoying cord across your vanity, plus it has a really clean, sleek design that makes it aesthetically pleasing to stay out in the open 24/7. Great investment.
Last but not least, this god damn life saver right here. My husband is NOTORIOUS for losing just about everything, including his wallet. After a close call the other day, thinking we were going to have to cancel and reorder every credit card we have, I had to put my foot down. The Tile Slim is perfect for your forgetful hubby (or for yourself). It just slips inside your wallet or purse, or even on your phone, so that you can track the whereabouts of your items 24/7. The Slim is a perfect size for a guy to slip into his wallet and will help him stay on top of his game. Let’s face it, we can’t make them less forgetful but we can help proactively solve the problem instead of searching the house for three hours every other weekend.
I’m gearing up to do another Amazon Fashion finds post after I pull together all of my favorite pieces for transitioning into fall. I’ve already snagged a few, but I’m making sure they are tried and true before I can officially recommend.
What was your most helpful Amazon purchase this past month?
Okay, so if you read my most recent post on my health update, you know that I recently started seeing a new primary care doctor. So far she has been great and I am super positive about my switch. One of the things I really like about her approach, is that she really strives to see the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on all symptoms separately. This is so critical when you are dealing with autoimmune diseases since they manifest so differently in everybody and their symptoms can be tricky to pin down. I wanted to share a conversation that we had because, number one, I really liked how she approached it, and number two, this advice may be able to help other IBD sufferers. Full disclosure, I am not a medical professional, or qualified to give any medical advice. What I can do, is share my experience in hopes that it may inspire you to have similar conversations with your doctor.
Our main discussion was around a few concerns I have had over the past few months, related to weird symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn't tell if these were related to Crohn's symptoms, medication side effects, or some other issue entirely. I had been getting headaches as well as spikes in my blood pressure pretty frequently. Usually my BP runs pretty normal and stably, I've been hooked up to vital machines every six weeks for the past four-ish years so I know. I had exams, blood work, EKGs, the whole nine yards done, but no one could figure out what was going on. Everyone was assuming these were due to my anxiety, which could be the case some times, but honestly I feel like my anxiety has been more in control over the past few months than it has ever been. Things weren't adding up.
My new doctor and I started having conversations around this and we uncovered the almost annoyingly simple answer. In my frustration I ranted about how my Crohn's symptoms being better the past few months, obviously not gone entirely, but things have been under control. I went on about how conscious I was about taking care of my body when my symptoms were bad and how I don't understand why something else seems to be wrong now. Then the question of how much water I was drinking came up. Of course I make sure to stay hydrated! When my Crohn's is bad I actually HAVE TO pay attention to my hydration at all times to make sure I don't end up in the hospital. Things started to click together as I explained my diligent hydration routine. I realized that since my Crohn's symptoms have been better, my avoidance of dehydration had slipped to the back of my mind. When I was doing a physical activity or out in the sun I was always careful to pack a DripDrop packet and track my water intake, but as far as day to day, for some reason I guess since I wasn't losing as much water due to my symptoms, all was well. This is NOT THE CASE. My symptoms aren't gone completely so I am still at a higher risk of dehydration, but I was acting like this wasn't even a factor anymore.
As we pieced this together I honestly felt like an idiot. She explained how your blood pressure can be seriously impacted by dehydration and I needed to make sure that was a priority even if I was seemingly feeling fine. She was convinced that the chronic dehydration I had recently been unknowingly experiencing was the cause for my blood pressure spikes. I was cracking myself up with how crazy this sounded after I went through all of these tests and freaked myself out to no end. "I have a partnership with the best Oral Rehydration Solution company out there. I drink them whenever I work out or am outside or am sick." I was literally yelling at myself in her office. "Well start not just drinking them when you think you 'need' to. Start drinking one per day at least and two in the summer." My doctor literally just prescribed me DripDrop to fix my BP and headache issues.....
Over the past six weeks or so, I've been taking her advice and making sure I am being way more conscious of my water intake and making sure I am adding DripDrop to my water at least once per day. I also have been diligent about the one glass of champagne to one glass of water ratio rule, which I am very proud of. Go. Me. Miraculously my headaches have improved and my blood pressure has been way more normal. Wow.
So what did I learn from this story and why am I sharing it. One, I am thankful I have a doctor that actually thought of chronic dehydration instead if just trying to prescribe me an unnecessary pill. Two, sometimes the seemingly more simple answer is the right one. Three, just because you are feeling okay doesn't mean you can slack on your usual care and precautions. Last thing, I was really excited to share this story because DripDrop genuinely has helped me so much. I know I talk about DripDrop often and how it is a product I am proud to be a partner to. But I also know in the world of social media where bloggers are promoting products all the time it is hard to tell what is authentic and what isn't. I like being able to share a story like this, where you can see how DripDrop truly is a part of my health protocol. It isn't just part of an Instagram post, or a blog post. This isn't just a lifestyle product I am taking cute photos of (although, yes, I think they are very cute). This is a product that changes lives and saves lives. And I am very proud to work with them.
It has been a while since I’ve shared a health update. Over the past few months it feels like nothing has happened but everything has happened at the same time. My Crohn’s symptoms have been under control for the most part, which has been a relief. I still have rough days (like today, ugh), but I can usually pinpoint the trigger and get things handled before they spin out of control. Usually the typical things are to blame, either having to push back Remicade, increased stress, or accidentally eating something that bothers me. While I feel like I actually have things somewhat under control, I’m embracing it! I also am feeling hopeful about looking at things in the bigger picture health wise and future wise instead of focusing on just getting by. The past six months have been focused around making sure other areas of my health are up to par. I’ve been working on my mental health, following up on skincare concerns, and I found a new primary care doctor. There are a lot more details through these appointments, which are definitely important and I will share in the future. For now, I'm giving you the high level overview.
As I got my ducks in a row health wise, I finally felt like I was getting some positive news. This gave me some confidence to start exploring some new possibilities. I finally took the leap and started to talk to my doctors about fertility. AHH! I know just talking about it might not sound like a big step, but for me, it is! I have had anxiety around these conversations for a long time, because I was so self conscious about how my body functioned. What if I heard answers that I couldn’t handle? So I just avoided asking. Through talking things through with Matt, I finally decided I needed to take control of what our future family was going to look like, and get educated on what that was going to look like with Crohn’s. My OBGYN referred me to a Maternal and Fetal Medicine specialist, which began the first step in learning what pregnancy and fertility could look like for me. I was incredibly nervous for my appointment, but it ended up going a lot smoother than I thought. I sat down with my doctor and we walked through everything from my medical history to my current medications. She let me know about potential risks, along with easing my mind about things I shouldn’t be anxious about. We talked through timeline, what my appointments would look like in the future, and how pregnancy can look a little different for someone with Crohn’s. Afterwards, I took the next step and followed up with my new primary care doctor. After some blood work and tests, I got the green light that my body is actually functioning pretty well even with the Crohn’s.
Although I don’t have a specific plan as far as timeline, taking these steps have helped me feel more confident that my body can handle being a mother someday. We’ve started the conversation and now I can approach it with a more realistic and informed view, instead of coming into it anxiety ridden. This is just the very beginning of this journey, and I don’t know what speed bumps I may hit moving forward. For now I am appreciative of this time where my body has been feeling better and allowing me to explore these options. I am proud of how far I have come in both my physical and mental health so far in 2019 and I am giving myself the opportunity to celebrate that. As I continue to sort our my thoughts and experiences from the past few months, I will share some more details and I will continue to share as I move forward. For now, I at least wanted everyone to have an update on where I have been health wise. I feel like in the past I’ve shared the challenges I have faced with my health, so it is a blessing to be able to share some bits of positive news with you all!
Okay, let me pause you right here... If you haven't read my first Budget Beauty Breakdown, go check it out. I give you the whole scoop in why I decided to start sharing these tips and I dive into the bank account shattering expenses of haircare.
For round two, we're going to talk nails. I remember when I got my first manicure when I was 7 years old, my mom told me that she didn't have her first manicure until she was 35. Now, doing the math, I realize that her first manicure was maybe a year before I came home demanding someone professionally paint my nails. This seems crazy to me because I have been getting regular manicures for the entirety of my adult life. When I was working in the events industry, it was an expectation that your nails were well kept and polished. That expectation has stuck with me ever since and now, like clockwork, I see my favorite nail tech, Tracy, once every 3 1/2 weeks. It makes me feel put together and honestly, I really like trying out new styles, colors, and designs that are "me".
Nail upkeep is not, at all, a cheap endeavor. I do have some tricks that I implement to make the whole nail situation a lot more affordable and I'm here to share......
For nails, SNS manicures (otherwise known as the dip powder), are the way to go... If you find someone who can do it well, your manicure can last for a really long time. I usually can go for 3-3 1/2 weeks without them looking bad when I get the SNS. It doesn’t chip or peel like gel does and it give your nails strength so they are less prone to breaking. Usually I pay between $40-$55 per SNS manicure depending on if I get designs or an ombre or something. Compared to what I would spend to get a gel manicure that would last me maybe a week, this is a not only a cash saver but a time saver as well. You will only have to be in the nail salon once a month instead of a couple times a month at least.
Pick a light color... This is a trick I use especially when I’m about to be traveling. The last thing I want to stress about while on a trip is how my nails look and I’m definitely not taking a day out of my plans to get them redone/ touched up. Thats why I will go for a light color instead of a bright hue or funky design. With light colors it is way less noticeable when your nails start to grow out and any chips are easily camouflaged. Like I said, this is great for traveling as well as when you are going long amounts of time between touch ups.
Stock up on Vaseline... This one I thought was super weird until I tried it. Vaseline reminds me of my grandma, smothering it all over my face before I went outside in the winter. I definitely can say it hasn’t ever graced my must have list. Until now. Vaseline is the ultimate cuticle moisturizer. One of the first things that will start to annoy me when I haven’t gotten my nails done in a couple of weeks are my cuticles. As soon as they are dry and start to crack and peel away all hell breaks lose and I’m frantically texting for a nail appointment. Vaseline actually helps to moisturize your cuticles and even if you start to have pesky pieces of unruly skin, it smooths everything down, making it way more bearable. Vaseline is also way more cost effective than fancy cuticle oils and, in my experience, works even better.
Opt for a Polish Change... This is a game changer in the toe nail department. This is such an easy swap for a pedicure that saves both time and money. If I’ve gotten a pedicure in the past month or so and my feet are looking and feeling good, with the polish being the only problem, this is my answer. I’m a fan of moisturizing my feet and hanging out in aloe socks so often times I can make a full pedicure last a while. That doesn’t mean the polish always lasts as long though or I want to keep the same color. Asking for a toenail polish change at the nail salon let’s you refresh the paint job without the whole shebang. It usually runs anywhere between $12-$20 depending on the type of polish/where you go and it takes a fraction of the time. I also love this trick in the winter when my feet don’t get a ton of out and about action but I could use a freshen up for an event. I also ALWAYS recommend getting gel on your toes. First off, it lasts longer, and they eliminate any chance for oopsie moments that will mess up your polish since you leave the salon with them dry.
Wear gloves... As a Maryland girl I love picking crabs. Seriously, summer is not the same without Old Bay doused crabs that you pick yourself out on the back deck. What also is not the same is the state of your nails after you’re done a crab feast. I was complaining about this to my nail tech, Tracy, and she looked at me like I was crazy and said “why don’t you wear gloves?”. WOW. How had this never come to me before?! Now I wear gloves for most messy activities that can cause wear and tear on my nails. Whether it’s handling potent spices, painting, or gardening, I keep gloves (you can do medical or catering gloves, both work) on hand at all times. This has really increased the longevity of my nails and preserves the color/polish for much longer.
I hope these tips help you to stay within your beauty budget while still allowing you to indulge a bit. Drop your favorite nail tips or polish preferences below!
Huge Amazon fan right here. Along with the rest of the world. With Prime Day starting tomorrow, I have been inspired to share some of my favorite Amazon fashion finds. At first I was not sold on the prospect of buying clothes from the same place I rush ordered paper towels, but after a few great successes, the idea really grew on me. Now I am a pro at navigating ratings and reviews to find good quality items at really great prices. All Primed to my house in two business days or less. I’ve rounded up the favorite summer items for you to shop. All of these are tried, true, and approved by me! Enjoy…
First up, bathing suits. I used to always buy expensive suits, wear them for one season, and then insist that I needed new styles for the next summer that rolled around. Definitely not cost effective. I have found some great suits on Amazon that are a fraction of the price of designer suits, but are still super trendy and cute. I like to buy trendier pieces from Amazon because even if the quality isn't great, it isn't like I will be wearing them year after year.
With the high waisted bikini trend being so prominent right now, I definitely wanted to snag a few for summer without breaking the budget. I found one in black and one in a palm print (so me, right?!) both for under $30 for the whole set. They both fit perfectly (thanks to reading the reviews) and showed up at my door just the way they looked online. I even ended up buying the black bikini in a star pattern for our Fourth of July trip!
For the first pick, I recommend sizing up because the pieces do run small and for the second pick I recommend the opposite. It does run a bit bigger so feel free to opt for a size down.
I also added in two suits that have been with me for a few years, both of which I got from Amazon. Just like a little black dress, it is always good to have a black bathing suit that you feel comfortable and attractive in. These are two of my picks that have made it from Hawaii, to the Outer Banks, to Greece, and lived to tell the tale.
I would order true to size in both of these. I did mediums in both and they work just fine! They also are both very forgiving silhouettes so nothing feels like it is grabbing in the wrong spot.
Bathing suit season also means you need some type of cover up for the beach. I like to wear something cute that I can walk into a beach bar or party wearing. You know, keeping things easy breezy with minimal outfit changes. Both of these I found for great prices on Amazon and I have gotten SO many compliments. I wore them both on the beaches in Greece and at least one person came up to me everyday asking me where I got them. Amazon, baby,
If you're looking for a summer sundress, these next two options are a ideal for embracing current trends without spending a ton of money. I bought both of these last year before our honeymoon and they still remain staples of my summer wardrobe. They both fit so, so well and the fabric doesn't wrinkle much which is a godsend for traveling.
Both of these are true to size. I purchased mediums in both.
Last up is my favorite accessory I have ever purchased from Amazon.... We all know that expensive, designer version wood clutch that it seems like ever fashion blogger has at least 75 Instagram pictures with. Well, TBH I did not have that money to shell out on a seasonal clutch. I respect the hell out of the original design and get that this version doesn't even come close to the level of detail in the original, but hey, girl's gotta pay a mortgage here. I found a dupe on Amazon that has served me well, made it into some cute Insta worthy pics, and also earned laughs from my husband who asks why I am carrying a birdcage with me to dinner. Very. Funny. Anyway, love this dupe from Amazon. It has traveled with me and survived so based on my experience the quality isn't bad if you are looking to get the wood clutch look without the price tag.
The tye is removable FYI.
Let me know what you think of these summer picks and if you want me to continue to share my Amazon fashion finds. I'm going to work on adding all of these to my Crohnically Blonde Amazon Shop, as right now it is mostly beauty products, but I will be sure to add these in!
Drop a comment and let me know your best budget friendly Amazon fashion find OR what you can't wait to get your hands on during Prime Day 2019!
I've been thinking about a way to incorporate my love of reading into the blog somehow because it truly is one of my favorite things. I read at least a couple of books a month, usually a mix between novels, autobiographies, and self-help books. I am always dying to talk to someone about them so I'm pushing books of onto my friends like they are drugs or something, just begging them to read so we can compare thoughts. I also LOVE recommending books in general, almost as much as I love recommending beauty products. I figure, if I'm already doing all of the work of reading, why not start to share some of my favorites with you all! Then I have a place to publicly proclaim my obsessions with these books without annoying all of my friends and hopefully delivering some value to CB readers.
I am still playing around with all of the details on how I want to start sharing these book reviews. I'm not writing a book report or anything boring. Basically I want to communicate what the book is about, why I liked it, and when you should read it.... Is it a beach read or a curl up on your sofa and cry for five hours read? Is it a good read when you need to give yourself a pep talk or when you are going through a break up? These are things you need to know before diving into this type of time commitment!
A big reason why I think reading has become such a love of mine is because it is something you can do to escape in any situation. To me it is a stress relief. If I am feeling sick and miserable I can always pull out a book or put on an audiobook. It requires no physical activity and no contact with other humans so when you suffer from a chronic illness, that honestly sounds like paradise. I can bring books when I am in the hospital, waiting for doctors appointments, getting Remicade infusions, or taking a bubble bath. I can also use books to help calm my anxiety. I find that being outside of my own world for a little while really helps me to reset and come back into a situation more leveled. When you are reading you are 100% focused on something that isn't anxious thoughts running through your brain. I think about it like I do a workout class. Workout classes are therapeutic for me because for an hour I am responsible for zero other thoughts than focusing on my workout. Reading is the same, only a workout for your brain and imagination.
Anyway, I'm starting today by posting three beach reads to Amazon Prime for the long weekend. Grab a cocktail, dig your feet in the sand, and enjoy. (Cocktail recommendations also included).
My first pick for a beach weekend is "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty. For all of the "Big Little Lies" fans out there, this book was written by the same author so you know it will be full of plot twists. "The Husband's Secret" is one of those books that you just become obsessed with and can't put down until you are done.
The whole premise of the book is a wife finding out something from her husband's past that was kind of A REALLY BIG DEAL, that he wasn't planning on telling her. Immediately you are questioning what you, yourself would do in this kind of situation. Do you do the "right" thing? What even is the "right" thing? Cecelia (the wife) struggles with holding onto this secret that would 100% really throw a wrench into everyone's lives if she says something, but how can she live with her husband now? The books follows not just Cecelia's journey but also other women in the town and their internal struggles that are all somehow related to this secret. I found myself getting super attached to the characters and NEEDING to know what happened next. It isn't a super long read so it is perfect to knock out if you have a weekend at the beach or a solo weekend to yourself. There will most likely be some tears and some feelings of WTF, but that's what makes books like these good. I personally think this pairs best with a wine spritzer or a big glass of Pinot Grigio.
Next up is something a bit lighter, but totally wild. "Pretty Mess" by Erika Jayne is SUCH a good vacation read. It has the perfect mix of holy shit I can't believe that really happened moments with an equal dose of the sassy, savvy, personality that we know and love from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Even if you aren't an avid Housewives watcher, this book is still a good read. In this memoir, Erika Jayne takes you through all of the ups and downs of her life and how she reached her level of fame and success. She spills juicy details about everything from her dancing days to her marriage, while focusing around the theme of making it work and getting what you want on your own terms. All done while give zero effs about what anyone thinks about you. When you close this book you will feel empowered to be a total badass, and maybe want to dance on a table. Best paired with a spicy margarita, extra spicy.
If you are looking for a productive read while you are relaxing in the sun, "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t" by Steven Pressfield is a winner. If you are a blogger or writer, this one is certainly a must read, but it also is valuable for those whose professions don't revolve around the written word. While the book does focus around leveling up your writing abilities, I took it as how to level up your communication in general. We are telling stories all day and communicating in some way with an audience. This book is all about making sure you are adding value and interest in the way you are communicating and leading the audience to where you want them to go. This book challenges you to look inward and reflect on how you tell stories, share facts, and overall deliver what you want to say everyday. It delivers a bold statement that we can all use to gain a little more self awareness. This book is best paired with a spiked coffee, because you are going to be inspired to get working and get your shit together after reading this one.
All of these books you can buy physical copies of or you can purchase them via Audible! I'm a big fan of having a book in hand, but for long drives Audible is a life saver.
Drop a comment and let me know what types of books you want recommendations for and any genres that are you favorite! I can't wait to hear what you guys like to read and what you think of these recommendations!
Enjoy the long weekend!
Packing for a Long Weekend at the Beach: What You Seriously Shouldn't Forget But Might... So Read This
With Fourth of July weekend right around the corner, I have been getting ready for our upcoming beach trip. Matt and I are headed to Ocean City, MD with a few friends to enjoy the Fourth on the beach. Every year we always try to do at least one beach vacation and most years we end up in North Carolina or Florida. I honestly can't remember the last time I went to Ocean City in the summer, which is crazy because it is only a little over two hours away from Baltimore!
I'm working in the office right up until we leave this week so I spent the weekend pulling together items from my packing list so I'll be ready to hit the road as soon as work lets out for the holiday. My packing lists are NO JOKE. They are very detailed and live in an organized little notebook AND the notepad on my phone just in case one gets lost. Usually I'm flying to my destination so my packing essentials have to be paired down a bit. When it comes to beach trips, the more things you can bring with you the better. As I made my packing list I highlighted a few items that are crucial to bring but may slip your mind. I know this from experience......
The first thing is a BEACH UMBRELLA. Beach umbrellas are so key for protecting your skin from the sun and allowing you to enjoy being outside for as long as possible. I feel as though people are always so excited to get out and basque in the sun that they forget after 20 minutes it can get seriously hot. And amp up your risk for sunburn. I am a big fun of napping under an umbrella with a nice ocean breeze coming my way. If you are trying to read at the beach this is also key because you can have more control of the sun situation and not be squinting all day. Note cute and bad for the face wrinkles.
What about if it rains... BOARD GAMES, duh. I am always a fan of bringing board games on vacation. When you have a group of people together its nice to interact instead of sitting on your phones or watching a movie. Games are a really fun option to keep the group engaged without being glued to technology. I mean, you're on vacation, come on. Some of our personal favorites are Code Names, Scategories, and Life.
Staying hydrated is also critical for making sure your time at the beach stays fun and relaxing. I always recommend bringing your own INSULATED CUPS to fill up for a long day at the beach. They are way better than traditional plastic water bottles for keeping your water ice cold all day. Depending on where you are staying, they may not have these kinds of travel cups provided for you, so to be safe I always bring my own. This is my tried and true from Amazon that I am in love with.
When laying on the beach I am always trying to hydrate as much as possible. Sometimes this proves difficult when summer water aka rose is my ocean side beverage of choice. While I'm sipping my seasonal favorite, I pop some DripDrop ORS in my big water cup and sip away. It is so easy to get dehydrated when you are outside in the heat and enjoying some cocktails. I always pack pouches of DripDrop in our cooler or lunchbox, that's my little secret trick. It helps to rehydrate you very quickly so you can get back to enjoying your day at the beach and even prevents dehydration from occurring in the first place.
Next up are PAPER PRODUCTS. Just like with the insulated cup situation, you never know what you are walking into when staying at a hotel or beach rental. I always like to pack some paper products to keep cleanup easy and to prevent too much use of a host's nice dinnerware. Usually I will get a cute theme that goes with our trip and get coordinated napkins and straws as well. This adds some fun decor and prevents fights about who is doing the dishes on vacation. I DO get the recyclable options when I can so while this tip may be frowned upon, I have to speak the truth!
Then there is the potentially most needed and forgotten....ALOE LOTION. We've all come in from the beach just to realize we got a little more red than we had hoped. It is such a bad feeling when you get sunburnt on day one and are uncomfortable for the rest of the trip. I am vigilant when it comes to sunscreen but my husband, not so much. Even if you avoid the sun, packing some aloe products that you can share can save you from having to hear complaints the rest of the week. I definitely know this one from experience.....
Of course I've packed some other, totally extra items like I always do. Personalized wine tumblers, Fourth of July themed bathing suits, stars and stripes paper straws, just to name a few.... Target and Amazon are my go to's for low priced, cheeky items that add some themed fun to a trip.
Drop in the comments any links to Amazon products I can Prime in time for my trip on Wednesday! I'm always open to adding to my list, so give me some recommendations that you all love! Also, let me know, how are you spending your Fourth of July weekend, road tripping to the beach or grilling out at home?
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.