This week on the podcast my lovely sister, Amanda, joined us to give a different perspective on having early stages of Crohn's and how she managed that through college and now her early adult life. She got very real on topics like dating, talking to your employer about your digestive issues, and trying to teach a room full of five year olds while you're afraid you might shit your pants. GOOD TIMES.
I'm so happy she was willing to share her story. I think her journey to diagnosis and how she is managing her symptoms are so relatable to anyone at that stage of their life/ IBD.
While we do tackle some serious stuff we have plenty of laughs as well. Diane introduces Amanda like she is writing her match.com profile and Diane AND Amanda both admit what kind of uncivilized humans they are taking vitamins on an empty stomach. That's a big "no no" guys.....
I hope you enjoy listening to this one and as always feel free to leave any questions or comments you have for us!
You can follow Amanda on Instagram here + here.
If you followed my blog/social media before Crohnically Blonde became what it is today, you know that fashion was a large portion of the content I shared (before I even knew “content” was a thing). I have always loved fashion – cue the years of me curating a huge book of magazine clipping inspiration in high school. In college I had a brief stint in fashion school in NYC which was my teenage dream and came back home without a degree but with exposure to a new platform to curate my inspiration. Tumblr. This was in 2009 when social media was just really at the very beginning of becoming a thing. A blogger was not yet an accepted job title, and a fashion influencer was not what we know it as today. I started sharing my own personal styling and outfits on my new blog on Tumblr and eventually Wordpress. Fashion has always been something that I have loved as a part of my life. I love putting together looks, I love sharing my inspiration with others, and I actually feel high off of finding a great deal on a designer piece.
When I started Crohnically Blonde I was in not a great place as far as body image or self-esteem. Crohn’s was ripping apart my body (actually pretty literally), I didn’t have control of my weight or how my body looked thanks to the medications I was on, and I honestly was happy to live in my comfiest sweatpants every day. The last thing that crossed my mind was sharing photos of me wearing things for the world to see, drawing attention to this body I had no control over. In the past, I was used to wearing whatever I wanted and not having to forgo trends based on my bloated stomach or weirdly unexplainable weight I was putting on in weird places. Fashion, as much as I loved it, was also the least of my worries at the time.
As an outsider looking in you probably would have no idea that I have struggled so much with this over the past three years. I come to work in my cute LOFT shirts and stretchy Old Navy pants that my friend so sweetly calls my “mom pants” and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I have figured out a “uniform” that makes me feel comfortable in my own skin for the most part which is what I wear out to social events. I stopped experimenting with styles and just sticking to safe because that is the way I would feel comfortable and draw the least attention.
This really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, I know. But to me it really was because I was missing out on something that used to be such a big passion for me. I had come to terms with the fact that I was never going to have my pre Crohn’s body back and I should appreciate that this is what I had to work with. I should appreciate how much my body does to fight and keep it going instead of shaming it for looking “weird” here and there. The thing is, I had PERSONALLY come to terms with this but then I spent hours scrolling through Instagram comparing myself to every girl to post and outfit photo and sending myself into a panic that I could NEVER put myself in THIS body out there like that.
I know, again, to some people this may seem ridiculous. To me it is not. At this point I’m in eating disorder recovery and dealing with a body that does its own thing health wise so I am on every level feeling absolutely out of control. At the same time as much as I hate myself for not looking like and Instagram model, I hate myself for caring and letting that hold me back. I preach authenticity and am all about owning your body especially through the lifetime struggle of ED recovery. I preach these things, empower others to do them, but yet, I am terrified to post a photo of me in an outfit.
As I’ve grown in my blogging journey and participated in more events and photoshoots I have come to realize that I have to stop letting this hold me back. When you break it down I am literally NOT participating in something I am passionate about and that I love because I am scared of… what? Comparison? Judgement? Both not things that I can’t stand to be the reason I shy away from something I enjoy.
So here we are and I will continue to share with you all. I want you to know that behind that outfit photo there is purpose and meaning for me posting it. Not only am I genuinely excited to, again, share my fashion journey but I am also excited to hopefully show someone else that just because you aren’t meeting your ridiculous standard of perfection you should still go for it, put yourself out there, and don’t let it hold you back. I also hope that you all will take away from what I share that to me fashion is about feeling confident in what you are wearing and learning how to dress for your body in a way that works for you and makes you feel great. I’m sharing the real dirty deets on what I am wearing (stretchy jeans and all) because that is what is real and authentically me. So enjoy and I hope this will inspire you to continue on this never ending journey of finding self-confidence with me.
I'm really, really excited that you will be able to keep up with all of my favorite looks via LIKEtoKNOW.it (here!) or download the app! I have been a huge LTKI fan for years so I am thrilled to finally be able to use the platform to share my personal style and finds.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
I’ve received quite a few messages recently asking for a health update and I realized I haven’t done one in a while so it is far overdue that I share what has been going on.
First and foremost, I have had so many other positive and exciting things happening in life that my attention has been on that and I’ve been in what I like to call “maintenance mode” health wise. Trying to get by day to day without making things worse but also I wouldn’t say really making things better. That is okay by me though! If most days I can function and live life happily I have come a long, long way in the past three years or so. I hate that this might jinx it but overall things have actually been pretty good.
By pretty good I mean by my standards of not in the emergency room and pretty much fully functioning. That doesn’t mean that my symptoms have gone away though and that other symptoms haven’t decided to manifest themselves unfortunately upon me. Those things still happen and are still there and I am going to share them with you. I feel weird sometimes going into detail about this stuff because I don’t want sympathy for what ailments I have. I know there are so many other worse things that I could be experiencing, I assure you I know that and I am so incredibly thankful that I can function the way I do. The reason I share is not to complain but it is to bring awareness. There are so many weird symptoms and problems I have run into over the years that are seemingly unexplainable by doctors and took my reading someone else’s experience to realize I wasn’t crazy. That is why I want to share. Hopefully by me sharing my health journey you can relate and maybe not feel like such a psycho.
So like I said overall my Crohn’s has been relatively under control. I am not in remission yet but slowly working towards it. I still go and get my Remicade every 6-8 weeks. Currently we are on an every 6 week schedule. That seems to be working well but the side effects still make me miserable at times. I do have to say though, when I started Remicade a little over a year and a half ago, I was totally unprepared to cope with the unavoidable side effects but as I’ve become a Remicade pro, I’ve gotten a better handle on managing them. CBD oil is my best friend in that regard. I take a small dose every day to help with pain, inflammation, anxiety, and a whole slew of other things that can be a separate post. But anyway, I amp it up after my infusion and when my side effects are bad. The side effect that is probably the most annoying is the joint pain. I can’t STAND it. I remember I went to geriatric yoga class at the YMCA, I’m not kidding you geriatric like right next to my grandpas retirement community, and I was in tears by the end because my wrists and knees were so swollen and in pain. From the former hot yoga enthusiast this was very abnormal for me. So this still happened but my CBD oil helps and I have a topical CBD cream that I use on my muscles and joints which is a huge relief as well. That is where we are with the Remicade situation.
I unfortunately got the news last time I was at the gastro for my infusion that I was long overdue for my colonoscopy/endoscopy so I had to go through that lovely experience last week. The prep definitely sucks but like the having diarrhea for hours on end isn’t that much of a shock to my body unfortunately so that’s not the part I really hate. It’s the fasting and pain and nausea from drinking that crap and the pain after the procedure. That is what really gets me. I do have to say an anesthesia nap is the best nap and I totally love the nurses at my gastro so they make the whole process a whole lot more enjoyable. I see them more than I see most of my friends and they all know my life story so… yeah. The colonoscopy/endoscopy situation was a success though. I still have inflammation in my ileum so they are upping my Remicade dose and my esophagus has some funky stuff going on but all in all not horrible! To go off on a tangent quickly I am an actual nightmare when I come out of anesthesia. Like actually satan. I’ve been known to cuss out doctors and demand a bedside cocktail just to name a few situations. I actually get very embarrassed because I spend like so much of my life with these people I can’t have them thinking I am the devil. This time I was actually really nice, chatted about dogs and Game of Thrones, requested a gingerale, you know, all normal sleepy people stuff. It takes me so long to get unconfused though and I was on some pain meds on top of it so things were not looking right from my perspective. When my doctor came in to give me my update I somehow thought he was saying I could go off of my medicine so I happily thanked him and said oh yay so I’m done with my medicine? Apparently from what my husband said this was directly after he said “we are going to up your medicine”. They both laughed, I was confused, my husband was embarrassed by me and then I reminded him that he practices the art of selective hearing often so he could CHILL and get off my back please. I actually didn’t remember anything my doctor said and had to get a debrief from Matt who so graciously accompanied me. This man COMPLAINED that he was hungry after it had almost been a full 48 hours since I had had a solid food. That’s like complaining that you have a tummy ache while your wife is in labor. He also made sure to make fun of me for yelling loudly how gassy I was while still waking up from my sedated slumber. Really keeping the love alive.
The real issue I’ve been having recently is with my sinuses. Now you wouldn’t think this would necessarily be impacted by Crohn’s but you know what HERE WE ARE. Your body is one big connected thing so what else can we expect. To give you some backstory I had sinus related surgery when I was 6 and then again about 7 years ago. That was the time I cussed out my doctor and told him I hated him and to get me out of there. During the recovery from that surgery I was also satan and begged my mom and step mom to take me back to the hospital because I was sure I was going to die. It seems dramatic, I know. But if you have had sinus surgery you know it is NO JOKING MATTER. I digress. So I got this surgery to remove my inflamed sinus tissue and then I got a really weird antibiotic resistant bacteria in my sinuses afterwards which was a hoot. I was alright for a few years but just recently it started to get worse again. Usually one of these surgeries is enough for one’s lifetime and I am hoping that will still be the case for me but like let’s be real, with my luck chances are I’ll be cussing out another doctor while coming out of sedation again soon. I won’t bore you with the whole story but basically my doctor wanted me to try a specific antibiotic but wasn’t really sure about it and then the side effects were nuts specifically in the gastrointestinal department so we had to nix that idea. Back to the drawing board, I just got a CT scan to see if the inflammation in my sinuses has returned.
Inflammation seems to just haunt me which is not unusual for Crohn’s sufferers or those suffering with other auto immune diseases as well. It took digging through the internet to find cases where sinus inflammation was linked to IBD and there is proof that it can be hence the whole your body is inflamed 24/7 and all that jazz. But I couldn’t find anything that was really helpful or someone saying here is what I did to make my sinuses better for good. So here I am waiting on the results of my CT scan and feeling like there is a large rhino running repeatedly across my face.
I’ll keep you all updated on what the results come back as. I am pretty certain this is linked to my Crohn’s in some way. Even if not directly, the inflammation piece is something we can’t ignore here. Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this so next time someone is frantically Googling “sinus pain and Crohn’s” maybe this pops up and you won’t feel so crazy.
I know this was a long one but, hey, it has been a while. I love hearing updates from you all too on your health journeys so please, please, please share via comments or if you don’t like putting your whole life out there on the internet like I do, drop me a message on Instagram!
Fall is my favorite season to shop for. Piling on layers means more chances to mix it up with textures, colors, and patterns. I live for a good textured piece -- fur, velvet, leather, suede, fringe. I try and keep my wardrobe pretty monochromatic and use a pop of color and bold textured pieces here and there to liven things up.
I have my tried and true pieces that carry me from year to year but I like to buy some trendier things each year that I can put into my wardrobe rotation but won't break the bank. Over the past six months or so I have been on a mission to curate a list of tried and true websites that can be my "go to's" when I am in need of something fashion related. There are a lot of sketchy sites out there that make it seem like you can get a really good bang for your buck but they can be total scams or the quality is crap. I can go on the record here and say that all of these sites I am recommending I have personally purchased from and am a fan of the quality, customer service, and delivery time.
1. Vici - I learned about this site from The Skinny Confidential Facebook group and from my first order I have been totally obsessed. They have a mixture of classics and trendy pieces that aren't crazy expensive but still good quality. I bought a ton of dresses for our honeymoon from this site and they were so perfect. They are almost always running some type of 20% off sale (sign up for the emails so you can be in the know on these!) and they also have flash sales where you can get great pieces for $20 and their sale section is often around 50% off. The only downside is that all returns have to be credited back to you in the form of store credit so just know that going into it. I haven't had any issues with this because I can always find something else I want.
I am currently obsessing over this pullover. I have some store credit waiting so this one may be next on my list...
2. Fashion Nova - This site is my favorite for buying pants/skirts/any type of bottoms. They have styles that fit and flatter a wide variety of body types which makes their pants selection a lot more versatile than most online retailers I have come across. A lot of they bottoms are stretchy too which you know I love.
The jeans that I basically live in are these ones from Fashion Nova. I have them in black. They are super stretchy and high waisted so they really suck everything in. I also just ordered these leather leggings which I am pumped about.
3. Lulus - Lulus is my go to for dresses for special occasions as well as shoes and accessories. They will run different kinds of promotions on sale items and during those you can score some great stuff for as little as $10. Their shoes are also so cute but you don't have to feel bad about buying something trendy that may be out next season because they are totally affordable. Returns are easy and shipping is quick. Very efficient.
Last season I got these faux fur mules from Lulus and I am totally obsessed with them/ recommend them to every person I meet pretty much. Oh and they're only $27. Worth every penny.
4. Forever 21 - Throughout high school and college Forever 21 was my jam. I fell a bit out of love with it when I realized I was no longer 21. Or 22. Or 23. And definitely on the other side of my 20s. Their clothes didn't really do my grown up body justice anymore and left me frustrated because.... growing up. You feel me? Anyway, once I came to terms with the fact I wasn't going to be rocking body con dresses and mini skirts on the regular I started to appreciate Forever 21 again. It is truly a great place to get inexpensive trendy pieces. While they aren't the best quality, most of the things I am buying here probably will be out by next season anyway so, not a huge deal.
This season I have been loving all of the plaid they are featuring and I have also ordered a few sweaters this year in fun colors and styles. This sweater has been my go to for casual Fridays.
Drop me a message and let me know what your other online shopping recommendations are. I love hearing from other bloggers what their favorite online retailers are because my list is always growing!
Also, let me know what you think of this post. I am trying to share more of my fashion finds and tips so please please please share what you want me to give details about!
This week I have a total badass babe, Julianna Rubino, on the podcast. She is the creator of one of my favorite blogs, Barre to Table, where she shares her workout routines, wellness tips, delicious recipes, and more. Her content always is super informative and she has me updating my grocery "wish list" every time I watch her Instagram stories. She balances working on her blog, teaching barre classes, heading up Baltimore's Electric Flight Crew, oh yeah, and working her day job in sales. Casual.
That being said, not only am I so excited to have you all hear her tips and tricks in regards to fitness and nutrition but she also has an inspiring take on how to balance everything you have going on in your life. She is the epitome of "hustle hard" but she knows how to still make time for herself and her family. #goals.
In this episode we cover some much requested topics, like time management, food recommendations, and her routine, as well as diving into things like how we feel about today's nutrition trends like intermittent fasting and plant based diets. Throughout the episode she drops some gems of advice and knowledge (along with some of her must have's and favorite products) so I can't wait to hear the takeaways you get from this one!
One of my favorite things about the advice Julianna gives is that her tips are so easy to seamlessly integrate in your life. Think, adding a 10 minute HIIT workout in when you first wake up in the morning or swapping ingredients in your favorite dinner with ingredients that will make you feel like your best self. Her recipes are also actually doable... as in not super complicated and don't take you an entire evening to make but impressively taste like it did. Seriously, her sweet potato gnocchi recipe is INSANE and way less complicated than it sounds. Promise.
Keep scrolling to see a round up of some of our favorite articles on Barre to Table and make sure to follow Julianna on Instagram (@barretotable) to get even more of her fitness and food tips. I am so thankful she came on the podcast and shared her wisdom with every one. I can't wait to work together again soon!
What were your favorite takeaways from the episode?!
BEST OF BARRE TO TABLE
FOOD + NUTRITION
Matt and I love traveling together. Being on vacation or on a trip where we are removed from the stresses of everyday life and we just focus on things we love doing and each other is the ideal situation. You find out so much about a person when you travel with them and if traveling is something you want to do as a couple, you have to make sure your travel styles vibe well. Luckily, Matt and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to jet setting so it quickly became something we loved to do as a couple and will continue to do (hopefully more often as long as the money and puppy sitters are there).
When we were making the decision on where to go for our honeymoon we definitely had some back and forth before we came to the final decision. My heart was set on Europe from the beginning because it had been years since I had been abroad and Matt had never been. Matt was pretty open to my suggestion but somehow the idea morphed into him going to see soccer games overseas which was NOT how I envisioned our honeymoon going. I mean that would be a great trip, just not for our honeymoon. I imagined my college days, gallivanting around Europe, without a care in the world, going from city to city while running off of practically no sleep. Back then, it was thrilling and made me feel spontaneous but now, just thinking of living like that gives me a stomach ulcer.
I am not “go with the flow”, I like everything planned, and I knew that as ridiculous as it sounded, in order to relax I would have to plan the shit out of a Euro trip before we went. Usually I would have jumped at the opportunity but when you are planning a wedding, hustling at your 9-5, blogging on the side, and trying to keep your health in check, the LAST thing you want is another thing to plan. Now I do have to give Matt credit, for as non planning as he is, he did offer to help but me being the extremely particular psycho that I am I insisted I was going to do this myself. I felt bad because I wanted us to have an amazing honeymoon but I didn’t have the time to plan something, especially on a budget, but at the same time I wanted it to be super specifically everything I ever wanted.
As Lauryn Evarts would say, “I don’t ask for much”.
Our friends had done a European cruise the year before and absolutely loved it. They were able to visit multiple locations and seemed to have remained relatively stress free throughout the whole thing, planning included. I had been on cruises my whole life growing up for our family vacations (including a European one) and Matt and I went on a cruise together a few years ago. It seemed like a perfect solution. And it was. Here’s why:
You get to experience a bunch of different places.
If we were going to pay for the flight and invest the time into going abroad we wanted to make sure we were seeing more than just one destination. Cruises give you that option! My first experience abroad was on a European cruise and I love that it gave me a little taste of so many different places. From that experience I was able to decide what my favorite cities were and make plans to visit again. With this being Matt’s first time abroad I wanted him to have a similar experience and be able to take in the beauty of the different culture, history, and architecture of a few locations.
Everything is taken care of.
Once you board a cruise you have to worry about absolutely nothing. You don’t have to worry about getting from city to city with all of your luggage, you don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat dinner, you don’t have to plan your days in port because the excursion has already taken care of that. Take it from the most anxious person ever, if I say you have nothing to worry about, you really don’t.
Upfront cost/ easy to budget.
This one is a huge relief especially when you are trying to plan and budget for a wedding at the same time. Before we even left for our cruise we had paid for our flights, the cruise itself, our excursions, and gratuity. This way there were no surprises and we could start paying these things months before we actually went on the trip. The only additional expenses were extra meals we had while in different ports and alcohol on the ship. With that it was super easy to track our expenses though so we didn’t have any colossally terrifying credit card bills to return home to.
We choose to do the 7 Day Adriatic Cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line. It was cost effective but still really nice which was important to us. We weren’t going to be spending a ton of time on the ship because we were visiting so many ports but I am a stickler for good food and service so we were not going to compromise on that.
Our itinerary was:
Sunday: Venice, Italy (EMBARK) --- Cruise leaves at 5:30 pm
Monday: Kotor, Montenegro --- 2:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tuesday: Corfu, Greece --- 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday: Santorini, Greece --- 2:00 pm-10:00 pm
Thursday: Mykonos, Greece --- 8:00 am-4:00 pm
Friday: At Sea
Saturday: Dubrovnik, Croatia --- 7:00 am-1:00 pm
Sunday: Venice, Italy (DISEMBARK)
We choose this cruise specifically because I was dead set on going to Santorini and we both really wanted to do the Game of Thrones tour in Croatia. This itinerary gave us the option to do both and also stop in Mykonos which was another destination I had wanted to check out.
We left out of Venice, Italy and neither of us had ever been there before so we were super pumped about this and wanted to get there a few days early so we had some time to explore. I also ALWAYS recommend getting to the port city early if possible just in case of any delays, missed flights/connections, or any other SOS moments. It also starts your vacation off a whole lot smoother when you aren’t stressed because you are down to the wire on your schedule.
We booked our flights so that we would fly overnight on a Thursday and arrive in Venice on Friday morning. That would give us half of Friday, all day Saturday, and half of Sunday to explore before we boarded the ship. The question here was, where were we going to stay? At this point we had invested the majority of our budget into the flights and the actual cruise so we were not going to be staying at any fancy hotels on the water. I looked. They were amazing. I tried to justify it. But I couldn’t. Instead we opted for an Airbnb that cost us about $120 or so per night. As much as I am a fancy hotel lover, I also really love staying in an Airbnb, especially in a new city. I feel like it really gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and what it would actually be like to live there.
Our small apartment was perfect for our stay. We had a full bed, a kitchenette, our own bathroom, and, thankfully, air conditioning. My favorite part is that we were tucked away from the street in a building that opened up to a private courtyard where we relaxed and enjoyed wine before we headed out for dinners. Our Airbnb host was so friendly and extremely helpful. She met us at the water bus station and walked us to our apartment. Since there are no real streets in Venice, things can get a bit confusing so we were thrilled she was there to help. We weren’t in a super touristy area so we had the chance to try out cafes that weren’t flooded with tourists and explore the residential areas that surrounded us. We stopped at the fancy hotels I mentioned before to grab a cocktail on their terraces and enjoy the views and then strolled back to our cozy home away from home. I absolutely loved it. AND it was way more budget friendly than the alternative.
TIP: We actually were able to cover the Airbnb expense with the points from my Capital One Venture Card. I got this card about two years ago to use for all of my business expenses. This means that I can pay that off every month with the money my company reimburses me with while racking up points to use to my next vacation. The thing I love about this card is you can use your points toward any travel expense, not just flights. That means pretty much anything from hotels down to your Uber. You also get a substantial point bonus if you spend a certain amount within your first three months of having the card. I can’t remember the exact amounts from when I signed up but we were able to use that bonus to put a serious dent into our flights to and from Hawaii back in 2016.
Speaking of flights…..
Flights are always the budget buster and there isn’t really a solid way to get around that. Of course if you are spontaneous and can randomly book a trip somewhere you can take advantage of those flash deals on flights and things of that nature but when you are traveling at very specific times, your options are limited. A trick that we used for this trip and our trip to Hawaii was piecing together one way flights that were more cost effective instead of just settling on the roundtrip package. On our way to Hawaii we did a one way flight to LA, hung out for a few days, took another one way flight to Maui, and then booked another one way flight home. It ended up being cheaper than the alternative and allowed us to break up our travel time. On this trip we searched surrounding cities for cheaper flights going abroad. Luckily, living in Baltimore gives us access to flights out of quite a few major cities within only a few hour drive. We found an Aer Lingus flight out of Philly that stopped in Dublin and then flew straight to Venice. Score. For our home flight we booked one from Venice, back through Dublin, and then to Boston, then Baltimore. It worked out really well and saved us a chunk of money that we could then put into other vacation related expenses.
Since we were already paying a decent amount to fly overseas, I wanted us to get the most out of our trip and not sacrifice any potentially great experience because of money. But at the same time I still didn’t want to blow our budget out of the water. We have other trips on the horizon that we need funds for too! We found a pretty good balance where we splurged on some things (like good food and wine) but saved in other areas that didn’t necessarily matter as much to us. Let me give you an example… On the ship they offer specialty dining packages which are really cool but not cheap. They allow you to visit the specialty restaurants that have some amped up décor and service along with a special menu. We did end up doing one night of specialty dining but the rest of the time we ate at the regular restaurants on board which still had great food/service and we had already paid for it in our initial booking price! Instead of spending big on the ship we went to nice dinners in Venice and Santorini where we could get courses of fresh local food and bottles of wine for a fraction of what that would cost on the ship.
The main expense that we accrued while on board the ship was alcoholic beverages. On our previous cruise we purchased the alcoholic beverage package that allowed us pretty much unlimited drinks for the duration of our , all for a flat, prepaid rate. We looked into the packages this time around but the cost seemed too steep for what we thought we would actually be drinking. Plus, we were going to be off of the ship for the majority of the time in ports where wine was cheaper than water. Definitely a better choice than on ship purchases.
At dinner we would split a bottle of wine that complimented our meal. The bottles were pretty decently priced in my opinion and the ones we tried were pretty good! I’m not a super wine snob or anything so I would think for someone with a more elevated taste they may disagree. I am at least moderately picky when it comes to wine though and they had viable options in just about every category. I did splurge on a few glasses of Veuve one night.
What about excursions?
Our excursions were prepaid from when we booked them months ago and some of our wedding guests gifted us excursions through our Wanderable site so that covered a large amount of our activities we had planned. If you are big into traveling I highly recommend registering on Wanderable. The website allows you to create your own page detailing your honeymoon plans and allows your wedding guest to purchase different experiences for you. The whole thing is customizable and you can add anything from excursions, to on board credits, to spa treatments, that your friends can contribute to or purchase in full. I am always into giving an experience instead of a material item so I think it is super cool to be able to actually see the couple you are gifting to, enjoy an adventure you purchased for them.
Even in Venice, where we obviously didn’t have any excursions, we didn’t spend a ton of money on activities. Everything is walkable to the transportation costs were very low. When we did need a boat or a car to get somewhere, we relied on public transportation which is very affordable. In Venice we did splurge on one activity which was a total MUST while we were there. A gondola ride. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and it actually felt unreal. It was 100% worth the 100 euro we dropped and I would certainly do it again next time.
TIP: Before we left for our trip we opened up a Southwest credit card. Now these credit card tips aren’t supposed to make you think it is no big deal or that you should just open a bunch of credit cards. We don’t have a ton of cards and choose wisely based on the points/rewards which cards make sense to open when. We have been planning a trip to Florida in December and we knew that if we signed up for the card, spent money, and got the new sign up bonus points, it would basically cover our plane tickets for our next trip. This trick worked perfectly and by both using just one credit account to put all of our travel purchases on we were able to really track what we were spending and realistically communicate that to others now when they ask.
What’s the verdict?
Matt and I both agree, we are thrilled with our decision to have done a cruise for our honeymoon. Exploring Europe in such a carefree (but preplanned!) way allowed both of us to relax but also experience so many different places in the Mediterranean. Everyone always asks us if we wish we had more time in the ports. “It seems like such a short time!” is the number one concern I hear when other people are considering booking a trip for themselves. Of course we wish we had more time in ports. I would have loved to have spent a week on every Greek island we visited. That being said, I also don’t have months off of work and a trust fund to boot. For the time we had and the budget we had, there is no better way that I think we could have seen these destinations.
Now that Matt is at least a little more familiar with Europe and I am done with wedding planning, our next trip abroad will probably be planned out in my typical OCD fashion. It probably won’t be another cruise again for a little while just because we like to mix things up but I certainly will do a European cruise of some type again.
My overall verdict is that if you want to go to Europe on your honeymoon, you want to see more than just one place, and you want to actually relax, a cruise is 100% the way to go.
Hopefully this article helped to break down how we decided on our trip as well as how we made things as cost effective as possible. I know there were a lot of questions about this topic so if there are areas I didn’t touch on or things I didn’t answer send me a DM or drop it in the comments and I will make sure to address your topic.
Over the next month or so I am working on creating posts highlighting the different destinations we visited along with some tips, tricks, and recommendations from those places. Stay tuned and follow along on Instagram (@crohnicallyblonde) to be the first to know when these posts go live!
When it comes to beauty treatments and tricks, I am always down to try just about anything, especially when it comes to skincare. My husband is still confused at how I have so much space in our home dedicated to storing my various cleansers, face masks, sunscreens… you name it and I probably have it somewhere in my museum of skincare treasures. He has slowly warmed up to my excessive supply as I’ve slathered creams on his face that he admits “make him feel smooth”. You. Are. Welcome.
As you can imagine, the weeks leading up to my wedding I was CRAZY with my routine. Yes, I was getting airbrush makeup (done by my friend/makeup artist who is seriously the best) but good skin is the foundation to a beautiful makeup job. I didn’t always understand the importance of this, it took working in the makeup industry and putting makeup on such a variety of skin types to realize that even the best foundation won’t look perfect if your skin isn’t up to par. When my Crohn’s acts up (aka when I get stressed aka when I am planning the best but most stressful day of my damn life) my skin rebels and I break out especially around my jaw line. I’m not talking about a little blackhead that can be covered, but serious cystic volcanos that no matter how much you push and prod, don’t erupt. You all know what I’m talking about. They are the kinds of blemishes that you need a live Facetune edit to cover.
Leave it to me to get one of these nasty guys RIGHT before my wedding. I shouldn’t have been surprised since, you know, wedding, stress, Crohn’s, but like, seriously? I tried my usual at home remedies but none of my regular combos were working rid my face of this thing. The week of my wedding I called the doctor that does my Botox in extreme panic. How do I make this thing look normal? I had researched a ton of different in office treatments that I blurted out over the phone. They told me to come in ASAP and they would laser it off for me.
I had never tried lasering before but I was like hell yes sign me up. Not only did I get to try a new skincare treatment that could make me feel great about my skin for my wedding, I also got to do it for free because my doctor’s office is the best fucking place (shoutout Dr. Tag, ILY). Side note, I also love my doctor’s office because they are SO real about treatments and what they suggest to do and not to do. I was begging them to inject my face with cortisone to make my acne go away and they gave me a serious education on how that can actually cause divots in your skin, basically scarring your face. Yikes. This is why I appreciate their honesty.
I got to the office and had this tiny laser that looked like one of those mouth rinsing tools at the dentist, zap my huge pimple a few times in a row. I was expecting pain to the extent of some light botox but it actually felt like nothing but a little heat and a tiny shock. I immediately looked in the mirror and saw a difference. The redness and swelling had dramatically decreased. I follow up with an in office topical retinol treatment and was on my way with some fun free samples and a less inflamed face in about 20 minutes total.
I watched as the swelling went down over the next few days and by the day of my wedding (three days later) the situation had really improved. It hadn’t totally vanished by the big day but it was way more manageable and my makeup and photos turned out AMAZING. I was really happy with the results and I am glad I tried this treatment out.
After a few cocktails, the days after my treatment I would show everyone who would listen my close up before picture followed by an excited “do you see how good it looks now?! like look! seriously!”. Everyone was pretty intrigued and the biggest question I got was “how does that work?!”.
I’m no doctor but here is the scoop on how it was explained to me. Basically, cystic acne is nasty bacteria backed up under your skin. The laser targets that area with heat which kills the acne causing bacteria. No bacteria, no cystic acne. Boom. If you want to read more, “The Pretty Pimple” has a great article on laser treatments that I majorly stalked.
Full facial laser treatments can cost around $200+ but for just a spot or two I recommend talking to your doctor because you can do specifically those areas for a discounted rate. If you suffer from chronic cystic acne you can get a sequence of treatments (usually around 3-5 treatments depending on severity) and clear up the acne you are experiencing. While it isn’t immediate, it is definitely effective and it also helped to prevent scarring. About a third of the time I get some type of acne scar when I have a cystic breakout (probably because I try and handle it myself, whoops) but with this treatment there was absolutely zero scarring.
So what’s the verdict:
I will 100% do this treatment again. It yielded great results with little to no pain, not a huge investment, and no recovery time.
There was no scarring after the treatment and no scarring after the cystic acne healed.
I saw instant, positive results that continue to improve over a few days.
The only thing I would advise against is doing this the week of your wedding like I did. Of course if you are in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do but ideally avoiding trying new treatments immediately before a big event is the way to go. You never know how your skin will react so you want to try new products/treatments out in enough time where you could recover if something went awry. Out of all things to get done last minute though I would say this is not super risky and probably one of the better ones.
Overall…. I saw GO FOR IT.
Now obviously due to expenses and time I can’t run to my doctor every time I have a breakout so I have to find some treatments at home to help remedy the situation. I have shared some of my favorites in the past, one of which being the Fresh Umbrian Clay Mask. I only use it as a spot treatment instead of on my whole face and you only need such a tiny bit that I’ve had this bottle so long that they’ve redone the packaging. It’s not cheap so I’m not mad about it.
I also have been loving the cult favorite Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion for like 7 years now. I use it mostly for whiteheads as opposed to cystic acne but it works super quick and is under $20. I have a set of pimple extracting tools that I keep on my vanity at all times (it was less than $10 from Amazon). I am the type of person that like NEEDS to pop a pimple when I have one which is not great for your skin but with the right tools it can be done in a proper way.
My last trick for fighting breakouts is to actually hydrate my skin. People automatically assume that when your skin breaks out you should dehydrate the shit out of it and turn your face into a desert. From my experience this only makes things worse because then your skin will overproduce oil and it becomes a vicious cycle. Do not be afraid of hydration. If done properly it won’t cause your skin to break out and it will only keep your skin looking tighter and younger which is honestly all I can ask for. I just started using the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask and I am in love with it. For my daily moisturizer I have really been loving the COSRX Snail Cream. It is affordable and insanely hydrating without feeling too heavy.
Maintaining even and smooth skin sans breakouts can be hard when you have underlying health issues, but it definitely is possible to a certain extent. While I have accepted that my skin will never be “perfect”, I love keeping my skin as healthy as can be and I love sharing my finding with you all!
The past six months or so have been nuts, getting ready for our wedding and honeymoon. Every weekend and every free moment after work was full of decisions, logistics, and often times chaos. Planning a wedding is no joke, especially when you have no wedding planner and have to arrange all of the moving parts yourself. I had immense help from my mom, stepmom, and dad but being the absolutely psychotic micromanager that I am, even when projects were left in the best hands I was still stressing.
On top of that we were planning an 11 day European honeymoon which not only required a slew of decisions and finalizing details but also arranging care for the pups while we were gone. We had family and friends step up to help us in this area as well which we couldn't be more thankful for.
Through all of the planning I really tried to step back and enjoy the process. Ideally you only plan a wedding once (or twice if you eloped like us!) so why not take everything in and try and appreciate all of the work that goes into throwing the biggest party of your life? Living in the moment is not my forte but I really did make and effort. I wanted to enjoy the other festivities that lead up to the big day…. the bachelorette party (lucky for me, I had one in New Orleans and a winery day planned close to home!), the bridal shower, the days leading up to the wedding when our family was together. It makes me so happy now to look back and realize I truly got to enjoy those moments. I can say the same for the wedding and the honeymoon as well.
In order to live in the moment these past few months, I took a big step back from sharing everything in my life in real time. I have all of these sweet moments and details documented and eventually I will share them with the world but in the moment I wanted them to be privately enjoyed. Instead of focusing on creating moments for the rest of the world to see, I wanted to genuinely enjoy those moments for once. I have shared photos after the fact on Instagram with updates and kind words for those who made these moments happen. I have gotten messages over and over again of people asking why I didn’t share more details from this event or that event or my planning process. The answer is because I was actually living it. And I have written down every request from every person who has reached out and I promise I will share the details. Now that I have had the chance to take things in for myself, I can share them with the rest of the world and I am so freaking excited to do so.
I have also had people ask about the podcast. It is coming back! We have guests lined up, we have some really good topics, and we are ready to dive back in. Same goes for blog content. I stepped back from pushing out content in these areas for a bit because I didn’t want to publish content I didn’t love. And I didn’t have time to create the content I would feel good about. I wasn’t going to write a shit post or record a shit podcast just to get something out. I also had some partnerships and companies that I was (and still am!) partnered with that I was creating content for. I feel very strongly about these publications and their ability to reach a large audience and make a difference so while you haven’t been able to read everything I have created for them yet, it is coming and you will be able to see the hard work I have put in behind the scenes.
Balancing my life has been a chaotic sort of shit show for the past six months but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Thank you to everyone who has followed this journey on Instagram through posts and stories and is revisiting my site now for all that is to come. I appreciate you. I have taken your requests and suggestions very seriously. And I can’t wait to share the details of my life with everyone again.
WHAT YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO.....
Drop a comment or a DM on Instagram and let me know what else you want to hear about!
I love when I have the chance to team up with other boss babes to promote really cool products or businesses. When Boho Babe Jewels reached out to do a collaboration I was pumped because their jewelry is so freaking cute (I'll get into details about that later), but they also are supporting a cause that I can 100% get behind.
Proceeds from one of their collections went directly to support the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Seriously, right up my alley. Supporting fellow Crohnies is also something I am passionate about. It is hard to have your own business or a side hustle regularly but doing it with a chronic illness is even more of an uphill battle. I know I've shared my struggles with finding time to fit everything with Crohnically Blonde into my schedule while still taking time to rest and maintain my health. I'm sure there are a ton of you badasses out there who are blazing the entrepreneurial trail while trying to keep your health on track. If so, I'd love to hear about what your hustle is and a tip for how you balance it all?
Take a look at how I styled my pieces and make sure to head over to their website to pick out some of your own. They are having a HUGE sale right now on everything (I'm talking like $15 for some great stuff) so the stars have aligned with the timing here... go check them out!
I was very excited when my two chokers showed up because I have been trying to nail the layered choker trend and have not been able to find the perfect combination. The trick is definitely to do a chunkier piece with a more delicate one layered on top. This balances out the whole look and prevents tangling. I made the mistake before of pairing two super delicate chokers and things did not end well. You can also wear them separately which is ideal for traveling because you get multiple looks in one. All of their pieces are handmade in Alabama so you know you are getting some love and positive vibes sent your way when you wear these.
I love these necklaces, I love Boho Babe Jewels in general, and I love the cause that they stand behind. Keep on killing it and go support our fellow Crohnie by treating yourself to some cute new jewelry.
Ya'll KNOW I am totally obsessed with self care and any product that I can add to my routine. Recently I was introduced to T Spheres which I have become completely obsessed with.
"What the heck are T Spheres?" is probably what you are thinking right now. Well they are a freaking life saver. They are massage balls that are infused with essential oils. It's like bringing the spa into your house.
I've been using the massage balls to number one, help with IBD related pain, and number two, help relieve muscle tension thanks to my new found hobby of attending barre class. You might be familiar with regular massage balls that you can use to roll out your muscles but these take it to the next level.
They can be heated or chilled to provide you with the optimal effect and they are infused with essential oils that align to a specific desired feeling. For example, I have lavender infused massage balls (Peace & Quiet) that I use for the evening on my shoulders and neck before I go to bed. The lavender is calming and soothing to help you relax before bedtime. In the morning or before/after I work out I use the Empower Mint to refresh and energize me.
Personally I like to chill the Empower Mint massage balls to give them an extra zing to help wake me up. I even bring these in the shower with me to roll out my muscles while my conditioner sits in my hair. #multitasking. The Peace & Quiet are my go to when I am have Crohn's related pain. I heat them and use them on my stomach and abdomen which sounds a little strange but it works like a charm.
There are so many ways that you can utilize these massage balls it is crazy. They have an entire tutorial/ video section on their website so you can make sure you are using them properly and getting the most out of their benefits. I also really love that they are so easy to travel with that you really can bring them anywhere. You can relieve your pain while sitting at your desk in the office. You can ease muscle tension when flying. You can pull them out of your purse at anytime. #preparedAF. I also love that these serve as portable ice pack and heating pads. As someone who often has to travel with both these are a space saver and super convenient. I mean... they can even go in the microwave. Can a regular massage ball do that... no.
I also love the oils from T Spheres. If you have been following along with my social media and the blog, you know oils have been my JAM recently. I love diffusing them as well as rubbing them all over me and anything else in sight. T Spheres actually also sent me some of their oils (because they saw I was clearly an oil obsessed crazy person) and I can't get enough. The lavender bath and body oil is seriously ideal to add into your nighttime bubble bath. Not only does it calm you down but it leaves your skin super smooth and moisturized when you get out of the bath. I also got to try the "Pep-Up Mint" oil which can really clear out any sinus problems you are having and wake you the heck up. I am not an early morning kind of girl so if I am showering it is speedy and I don't have time to soak in oils. I do incorporate oil by using it to moisturize my body, post morning shower. That way it sticks with me all day and I get the amazing moisturizing effects. Oh and in case this wasn't enough, these oils are hand blended and made to order so you can ensure you are getting the best and most fresh oils (also made with lots of love!).
T Spheres have become a crucial part of my self care routine and I am so incredibly happy be partnering with them to give ya'll a discount so you can try out your own! You can use my code "CROHNICALLYBLONDE" to get $5 off and free shipping until Mother's Day.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.