It has been a while since I have done a 'Meal Talk Monday'... mostly because the holiday season had me so busy I was scrounging together whatever leftovers or random things from my pantry I could to try and make a meal. Now that things have calmed down I have made it a priority to put aside to cook for myself and my husband more often.
As much as I joke about how much I hate cooking, there actually is something really special about serving a home cooked, healthy, and delicious meal for you and your hubby. For our entire relationship, Matt has been the one who has cooked 90% of the time so now that my skills have been slowly but surely improving I am trying to show off a little bit.
Recently, I heard about these 'Better Than Foods' from the F Factor Diet and from Heather Dubrow's podcast and figured I should give them a try. They are gluten free, no carb, fiber packed, and super low calorie alternatives to rice, noodles, and pasta. I was super skeptical at first but I didn't have much to lose. I already replace all of the delicious, gluteny carbs, with still carby but not as delicious alternatives. If I could find something that either tastes better or is better for me then I was willing to make the switch.
I got a sample pack of the rice, noodles, and pasta AND I AM OBSESSED. This stuff actually tastes like the real stuff... or at least what I remember it to taste like and it at least trumps most of the other gluten free alternatives. They are packed with fiber so at first I was uncertain about the effect they may have on my sensitive stomach but I have had zero issues and actually felt pretty great after eating the meals I have made. Not kidding, this stuff tastes so good I was researching it so much to make sure it was legit. Well, based on my research and experience, it definitely is. The secret is that they are made with konjac flour which you can get all of the details on here. So far I have tried the rice and the noodles in two different 'Asian takeout inspired' dishes that have been big hits in my house.
Matt and I are suckers for some good old take out but it is hard to, number one, find options that are gluten free, and number two, find options that are healthy. Luckily this stuff makes it a lot easier to check both of those boxes.
Last week I made shrimp fried 'rice' which Matt said was a winner and this week I tried out a shrimp Pad Thai which was even more of a win according to the super picky husband.
I used this recipe for skinny shrimp Pad Thai from skinnytaste and modified it slightly. I swapped out the rice noodles for my Better Than Noodles and I swapped out the bean sprouts for brussels sprouts mainly because I couldn't, for the life of me, find bean sprouts in the grocery store. It was a debacle that turned out well thought because they tasted great in the Pad Thai and added a nice crunch.
This recipe was surprisingly easy, didn't take long to make, and was relatively easy to clean up-- a lot easier than the rice at least. The rice situation was not great and somehow I literally made it explode all over my kitchen. I suck at rice. Big time. Not even kidding, when I was little my parents would make me eat rice in the bathtub if I wanted it because I was a terrorist when it came to eating it. I also really enjoyed using chopsticks which probably contributed to the problem. Yikes.
Anyway.... I think this shrimp Pad Thai was a serious success and it will probably become a staple in our house. I am so excited to continue my cooking journey and start getting down in the kitchen a lot more often now.
Make sure to check out skinnytaste for delicious and nutritious recipes as well as Better Than Foods to get some skinny noodles for yourself!
It is 100% time to grab a cocktail.
Number one, because it is Thursday and you deserve it.
I've had a long week. Maybe you have too.
Number two, because The Crohnically Blonde Podcast is is BACK.
If you have been following the blog for a while, you know that I released a few episodes of my podcast last year. They were a mix of me rambling/ sharing my opinions as well as a few guests that were absolutely great. I was testing the waters and getting into the groove of what this whole podcast thing was all about.
I spent the past couple of weeks not only getting feedback on the different kinds of episodes I produced but also doing some soul searching to decide what I want to use this platform for.
There were a few things that really stood out: I wanted a cohost, I wanted to help people, and the episode with my mom was 100% the best received episode that I published.
I think the outcome is pretty obvious. Diane (my mom) is now going to be my official cohost of The Crohnically Blonde Podcast! The moment I asked her she agreed and brought along a slew of great ideas of topics for us to discuss.
To be honest, this decision seems so natural. Her and I already talk at least 12 times per day but now we just get to let you all in on the conversation. We want to make it feel like you are hanging out, eating chips and guac, enjoying a margarita or iced tea... your preference, with us once a week. We talk about health (we both have Crohn's), beauty, wellness, pop culture, food, fitness, travel, relationships, and motherhood in ways that will make you catch all the feels one minute and cry with laughter the next.
We're bringing different perspectives from a 20 something and a 50 something and were hoping to bridge the generation gap, bring up taboo topics and tackle them, and hopefully add some joy and humor to your day at the same time.
I am beyond excited for this first episode where we delve RIGHT in. We're talking about why mothers and daughters talk so much, a few of our favorite things, Botox, and boob jobs. We discuss how generational differences contribute to varying attitudes around plastic surgery and why our husbands need to get the hell over the fact that we will always talk 12 or more times per day.
We hope that you like what we are using our platform to put out into the world and we hope that you can relate and laugh.
Please drop us messages or comments with any feedback, topics you want us to cover, or questions you want answered. We can't WAIT until next week's episode.
Happy Sunday ya'll!
This weekend was incredibly relaxing for me which I needed after the chaos of the holidays. I also was starting to get sick so I needed to sleep it off, hydrate, and load up on Vitamin C. It was also so damn cold here in Maryland so I rejoiced that I had a reason to stay curled up in the house.
I spent today prepping for the week and getting myself ready to crush it. I've been slammed at work with a ton of projects so getting set up on Sundays to make my mornings and my week go as smoothly as possible is so key.
Something that I always have struggled with is my morning routine. I love maximizing my sleep time which means I get up at the last minute possible to make it to work on time. I've tried to change this about myself but I just have accepted the fact that mornings aren't my thing. I get so stressed scrambling around trying to get a smoothie together and pack my vitamins, snacks, waters, for the whole day. To be honest I usually grab the quickest thing possible and bolt out the door.
This leaves me with not the greatest breakfast and trying to remember to take all of my supplements when I get home. Smoothies are such a great way to pack in veggies, fruits, and supplements/powders that make up for what you aren't getting throughout the rest of your day so I had to figure out a way to make this work.
After I listened to The Skinny Confidental podcast a couple weeks ago with Dr. Mona Vand, my life CHANGED. It seems so simple but it just made so much sense and how the heck did I not think of this before. Mona said that she preps her smoothies in pre portioned bags for each day so that she doesn't have to scramble in the morning to get ingredients together. THIS MAKES SO MUCH FREAKING SENSE.
So I've started doing this and it is a true game changer.
I wanted to show you guys what I put in my smoothies and how seriously freaking easy it is. I also have been doing this with supplements. If you have Crohn's or any chronic illness you know taking your supplements are crucial to keep your body functioning so forgetting them and not being organized with what you are taking can really screw things up.
So here are the detAILs.
Make it SUPER easy.
I usually break it down by:
Boom. Out the door.
My favorite combination is one handful of spinach, one handful of blueberries, chia seeds, maca powder, and spirulina powder. You can add regular water or coconut water if you are feeling crazy. Sometimes I mix up the consistency by adding some ice.
This is a great way to pack in nutrients at the beginning of your day and start things off the right way while not having to stress out in the kitchen in the AM.
I will do a separate post about what I am doing with my vitamins and what vitamins/ supplements I've been taking but I will just saw this for now, pre packing them for the week is a game changer.
I also have been testing out some supplements that you can just add into your water, stir, and enjoy which is also another lazy girl tip I will be sharing with ya'll once I narrow down my favorites.
All of the lazy girl tips will be coming your way so stay tuned.
While you wait, I'm dying to know what your tips and tricks are AND what are your favorite morning smoothie add ins?
Happy New Year to the Crohnically Blonde fam!
After the amazing year that 2017 was it is going to be hard to top in 2018 but I like to believe that things just keep getting better. I am starting the year off by refocusing my energy on myself, my family, and my passion (this blog!). I've been reading a ton of great material that has helped to get me back in gear and motivated because honestly I have been in SUCH a funk for the last few weeks of 2017. I always get super deep and into my feelings reflecting and critizising every little thing I could have done better which I know, is not cool, I'm trying to stop. I just have this perfectionist attitude that I can't quit!
I've done a lot of reflecting and I've decided to spend January filling my life with relaxation and self love. I know this sounds absolutely nuts because most people spend January kicking their asses into shape at the gym and picking their bodies apart to motivate them to get back in the game. I am not doing that.
Yes, I have health and fitness goals that I am trying to reach, I always do in some way or another but I am including that as part of my self love. I'm not beating myself up to reach my goals, I'm teeing it up in my mind as "how can I love myself more?".
I am all about this.
So I don't know about you, but when I think of myself relaxing I get really stressed out. Weird. I know. I get stressed about all of the things that I could be doing that are productive and all of the successful people who are on the move 24/7 and here I am trying to just watch an hour of The Real Housewives without feeling guilty.
I literally have SUCH a problem with this so I have come up with some cool ways to relax while I am productive. Multitasking at its finest. Now, I know this isn't the best advice. Experts or whatever would probably say, you need to spend X amount of time relaxing per week or day or something but I am just doing what works for me so here we are.
I find the things that bring me joy and relaxation and I pair them with some type of productive activity so that I not only feel productive while relaxing but it also makes me like to do annoying productive tasks that I am trying to complete. (I promise I also do relax fully but that is usually in the form of a bubble bath where I am literally forced to not do anything else but sit in a bathtub).
Here are a few things I like:
These are just a few things that I like to do to relax while still handling the things I have to handle in life. My goal for January is to relax while cleaning my entire house and making a solid plan for the year. Obviously that includes a lot of those tasks above which I am not so thrilled about but I can look forward to it because of the fun/relaxing things I will pair with them.
Below I have included links to a few of my favorite things that relate to this post so definitely take a look and let me know what else you do to relax while being productive AF.
Happy New Year y'all! Let's make it happen.
What I'm Listening To...
On Audible: It's Not Okay
I'm trying to catch up before Andi Dorfman's new book release. This Bachelor Nation alum is spilling everything and as a reality TV lover this book is everything. So entertaining while still light enough to multitask while listening.
Via Podcast: And That's Why We Drink
Ghost stories mixed with true crime mixed with hilarious just about everything... sign me up. One of the hosts also has Crohn's Disease which automatically makes her one of the crew.
What I'm Watching ...
I'm obsessed. It might be a problem. It is full of drama but if you miss 10 minutes it is easy to pick back up. You can binge watch on demand or via Hulu. It will keep you busy while you clean out your whole house, basement, attic, and garage. Promise.
What I'm sitting on...
Accupressure Mat (in hot pink of course). Make sure to grab one of these from Amazon. They have the best selection for great prices.
The countdown is on! We are SO close to Christmas and I couldn't be more excited. This holiday season has been out of control busy in every aspect of my life. That being said, my time for holiday shopping has been minimal. And on my free days the last thing I want to do is spend time parking and braving the crowds at three different shopping centers in order to get gifts for the tons of people on my list. Just being honest... Overall I just am a really big holiday gift procrastinator and Amazon Prime has been my saving grace this time of year (and all of the other times of the year too).
If you are anything like I am, you probably have a few gifts that you still need to purchase and with only a week left time is running out. If you want to purchase these presents from the safety and comfort of your own home (no parking, no traffic, no psychos at the mall) then you are in LUCK my friends. I put together a gift guide (with links) consisting of all things that you can order with Amazon Prime and should be here in time for Christmas morning. Procrastinators rejoice.
I broke it down into "for her" and "for him" categories as well as price ranges so that you can easily find the perfect gift that not only will get here in time but will also keep you on budget.
Whether it's a coworker, your siblings, or you S.O., this guide covers all of the bases and Amazon Prime covers it getting here in time. I hope you enjoy my recommendations and please comment or message me with your favorite Amazon Prime gift picks!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to check out ROAM Fitness, the FIRST EVER past security airport gym. A few months ago I did a post (link here!) on the creation of ROAM and the backstory of how this revolutionary idea came to be but I am so excited to share my experience of actually visiting and having the chance to work out there.
ROAM Fitness is located at BWI airport in Baltimore, Maryland (right near my house, lucky me!). It is conveniently located in the international terminal which is great because often times for international flights you arrive to the airport extra early and are trying to find something to occupy your time. Around the holidays it's exciting to get to travel and see family and friends but it also can be super stressful. The crowds, the delays, the disruption in your usual routine.... I'm stress sweating just thinking about it. ROAM is a retreat from the stress of holiday travel, or travel in general, and takes care of literally everything so that you can get your body moving and release some endorphins prior to reaching your destination (and potentially sitting on a super long flight being sedentary and feeling like you need to do some downward dogs in the aisle of the plane).
When I arrived at ROAM I was greeted by the manager who let me know all of the features that the facility had. The rest of the staff was super helpful as well and made sure that I had everything I needed during my visit. ROAM makes it so there is no excuse why you can't get a workout in while traveling. They provide top of the line workout gear that you can rent (provided by Lululemon so you know its good) and if you want to wear your own gear they can vacuum seal it at the end of your workout so you don't have to board the plane with smelly workout clothes in your carryon. There are lockers on site where you can store your belonging while working out and there are even charging ports in each locker so you can make sure your devices are ready to go for the flight.
Once I was changed and ready to work up a sweat I snapped a few selfies, of course, to share with you guys. I wore my own workout clothes to the airport but I couldn't resist trying out the rentals. I am so happy I did because I totally fell in love with the whole outfit and was super tempted to purchase everything to bring home with me.
ROAM isn't huge but they definitely designed the space in a strategic way that allows a variety of equipment and various areas to workout in. There are treadmills, a spin bike, an elliptical, and a rower as far as machines go. Additionally there are free weights, medicine balls, TRX equipment, and a separate area where you can stretch or do some yoga. I am never a huge fan of cardio because I get so bored but I actually love the elliptical they have. There are various environments that you can select on the screen and it mimics running through that scenery. There are also options to listen to music or watch Netflix which can make a workout infinitely more enjoyable. There were quite a few people working out while I was there and there was still plenty of room for everyone to do their thing without any issues.
When I finished my work out I headed to the showers to test out how those amenities were. Let me tell you guys..... these bathrooms were out of control and the showers were total #showergoals. When designing the bathrooms they legitimately thought of everything. They are complete with rainfall shower heads, heated toilet seats, and high quality shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and mouthwash all available for free use. I probably could have stayed in that shower for a good half hour but I was trying to be courteous of other visitors and not be extremely rude. I did come home and tell Matt we need to do a master bath renovation though.....
Once you are all clean you have free reign of the vanity area that is fully stocked with post shower essentials-- blowdryer, deodorant, hairspray, you name it and they've got it. I also like that they have a monitor with updated flight and gate information so that you can make sure you are on schedule. I told you, they thought of everything. If you are planning ahead and know you are going to be working out at Roam you can book a shower time to ensure you can have the most efficient experience.
On the way out of ROAM make sure to grab some healthy snacks for your flight. They have a variety of bars and protein powders as well as waters and kombucha. They even have my absolute favorite travel snack, RXBARs! I love that they have such a variety of options and I know when traveling I have a go to spot to pick up gluten free snacks.
I had such a great experience at ROAM and I can't wait to go back next time I am traveling. Not only did I get a great workout in but I also had a great experience from start to finish. I seriously recommend you guys budget some time into your holiday travel schedule to get a quick workout in at ROAM and see how great it is for yourself.
They also have a great deal going on right now for the rest of 2017. Anytime you purchase a day pass from ROAM (only $25!) you can get an additional day pass as a gift for 40% off. These are great stocking stuffers for the travel lovers and fitness gurus in your life!
I have to end this post by giving a HUGE thank you to ROAM for letting me check out their space and for giving me such a pleasant experience at the airport which can be so rare these days!
There has been so much to be thankful for lately between our wedding, quality time with friends and family, and the holiday season. During exciting times of the year it is easy to get wrapped up in the fun and end up over exerting yourself so I have been making a serious conscious effort to keep myself and my health in check.
The thing with Crohn's and any chronic illness really is that it never goes away and even if it seems like it does it can always creep back up. My symptoms are something that are aways with me. On holidays, on vacations, on my wedding day, Crohn's is always the extra guest to the party. I know this sounds super depressing and at first it really was. Over time, though, I have learned to make it work and still enjoy things to the fullest in my own special way.
The reason I wanted to write this post at this time of year was because as I mentioned before it is far too easy to over exert yourself and by time Christmas and New Years come you are too sick and exhausted to celebrate. This used to be highly frustrating for me because I used to love to be at pretty much every social event or party I was invited to which was a lot during the holiday season. Now I've had to cut it back and decide what events are most important and I prioritize how I want to spend my "out" time.
You do get used to it! Your family and friends will start to respect your limits and sometimes it can actually be kind of nice to have to spend an evening snuggled up binge watching Christmas movies. I am extremely thankful for the medications and research that have helped get me to a point where my symptoms are manageable and I am thankful for the doctors who have devoted their life to finding better treatments and hopefully a cure.
Antidote asked me to be a part of a video they released featuring fellow chronic illness bloggers sharing the reasons why they are thankful for medical research. I was very excited to share my candid thoughts and be part of a group of such strong individuals who are fighting each day.
Take a look at the video below and remind yourself why YOU are thankful this holiday season.
If you follow me on social media, you know that Matt and I officially tied the knot a little over a week ago! I wanted to post about it beforehand so badly but was trying hard to keep it under wraps until the day of. We almost made it there until we couldn’t help but to share our excitement. As little rules as people say there are these days around weddings, I have most definitely gotten my fair share of confused glances (and texts) since we let everyone know. I wanted to create a post sharing with everyone WHY we choose to do things this way and to recap the sweet details of our day. Luckily we had our wedding photographer, Madison Short, with us every step of the way to document the best day of our lives.
First things first, I am not pregnant. Everyone keeps asking me this and I have to set the record straight here once and for all. We had always talked about doing a small wedding since we first decided we were going to get married. Of course things escalated and I wanted to have an intimate ceremony but a bigger party as well. Nothing with me is ever simple so instead of deciding on one we decided to do both. As I mentioned in my post before, my health insurance was a big reason for us needing to tie the knot ASAP once we officially knew we were going to get married. The financial incentive for making it official in 2017 was also increased because we bought our house this year. Tax returns, hello. Anyway, we decided that it would be great to have an intimate ceremony with only our immediate family and then we’d have the party/renewal ceremony next summer. That would give us the best of both worlds- getting married, legally, when it makes most sense but still having the time to plan our dream big day.
On a completely unreasonable note, having two ceremonies gave me the opportunity to live out my wedding dreams in multiple seasons. This is ridiculous, I know, but from the start I couldn’t decide between a winter or a summer wedding so now I got both. We set the date strategically in November, before the holidays (and around the health insurance!) so that our immediate family would be able to attend. Matt’s mom suggested that we do it inside of a restaurant so that we wouldn’t have to worry about bad weather. This actually turned out to be amazing that we went with that option because it happened to be the coldest day of the year so far.
LOCATION + FOOD
We chose to have the location be Petit Louis in Columbia, MD, per recommendation from my mom. The food is absolutely amazing and the French theme was chic and right up my alley. We rented out a room that perfectly fit our 17 guests and had room for us to do our mini ceremony right in front of the table. We opted for a 1pm start time so we had our picks from their lunch menu. For food we had stationary cheese plates and a choice of soup or salad to start. The main course had four different French inspired options and for dessert there were three delicious options including my favorites the chocolate mousse and the crème brûlée. They were so accommodating with many attendees being gluten free and one vegan. They made sure to keep all of our glasses forever full with champagne and our wine selections.
One of the reasons why we choose Petit Louis (besides the amazing food and cool décor) was because it is right on Lake Kittamaqundi which is beautiful in the fall. We did our first look out on the pier and had a ton of pictures with an autumn inspired backdrop. Even though it was cold, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Décor is a big deal to me. We were lucky because the restaurant already is very beautiful and has a great fall color palette so we were working with a good canvas. My stepmom, Mona, is a florist extraordinaire so she created two beautiful arrangements for the table, my bouquet , and a boutonnière for Matt. The colors were amazing and went so well with the vibe I was going for.
I also really wanted to have some other little details that show our personalities. We had beautiful champagne glasses and a cake cutting set that Matt’s mom got for us which totally added a personal touch and are great to have at home as reminders of our amazing day. We wanted to have a cake just to cut but didn’t need it to be served to everyone (the crème brûlée was indulgent enough) so we went for a tiny gluten free naked cake from Kupcakes and Co. Matt picked out the cake topper and I thought it was such a perfect representation of our little family! If the dogs couldn’t be there in person at least they were on the cake!
MY OUTFIT + DETAILS
It took me longer to decide on my dress for this day than it did my actual, full out wedding dress for July. I wanted to wear something that would wow Matt but I didn’t want it to be similar to my actual wedding dress. I cycled through white dress after white dress but everything was either too summery or just not me. My mom suggested to go for something gold and at first I was not into the idea. When I thought about it more I fell in love with the idea and then this dress. It was comfortable, not insanely pricey, and actually something that I can see myself wearing again. Maybe for an anniversary date night?
Part of what I always pictured for a fall/winter wedding was having some cozy fur to wrap myself in. I found a few from BHLDN that I liked but wasn’t keen on spending the money on one. My mom remembered that she had a fur stole that was passed down from my grandmother. It was absolutely perfect and was a great way to make me feel like my grandma who I was so close with was there to enjoy the day with us. I also wore her pearl bracelet. Something old and something borrowed. Check.
My grandma was such a huge part of my mom and my life so it really was so special that we incorporated some of her pieces. She always loved fashion so much so it really seemed fitting. My mom surprised me the night before the ceremony with a jewelry box and locket with an angel that had photos of both her and my grandma in it. I, of course, was sobbing and so in love with this gift that allows me to keep these two strong women, who I admire, close to my heart.
My other jewelry was from Kate Spade (earrings) and from Kendra Scott (necklace). These were my something new and something blue. My shoes were also something new and definitely were a showstopper in my opinion. Originally I was just going to wear plain nude heels until my best friend Kelli told me that I should get some killer heels and wear them for both events. Any reason to justify a Badgley Mischka purchase and I am sold. I also choose some new perfume and went with Kate Spade’s Walk On Air which is delicate, fresh and now reminds me of how amazing that day was.
Hair and makeup wise I am pretty low maintenance. No really, I swear. I actually did my makeup trial with my friend Shauna the morning of the ceremony. She always does an amazing job and this was actually my first time getting airbrush makeup done professionally. It lasted from 6am when I got it done until literally 10pm when I took it off. I was AMAZED. Worth the money for sure. Lauren at Dakota Salon is my regular hair stylist so she knows exactly how to make my super fine hair look luscious. She threw some clip in extensions in and we went for a soft, romantic look that was different enough from what I am going to have for the July wedding. It was nice because it didn’t feel too overdone but still made me feel absolutely beautiful.
We didn’t want Matt to be too dressed up but we wanted him to look sharp and feel great. Cue J. Crew. His shirt, pants, and tie are all from J. Crew and not only fit him great but are actually things he will wear again (expect a repeat performance at my company Christmas party). It didn’t make sense to invest in a super nice suit for one day when he already was going to have to get another one for July. Since he wears scrubs to work every day it isn’t like he would get great use out of all of these suits! He really liked what he was wearing and it made him feel confident and comfortable which was the most important thing. He invested in some nice dress shoes from Nordstrom Rack because he can wear these for multiple occasions including the wedding in July! At first we were unsure about doing a boutonnière but Mona made a game time decision to include one and I am so happy that she did.
THE LOVEY STUFF
The whole day was absolutely perfect. Being able to say our vows to each other in such an intimate setting was perfect. I didn’t know how nervous I was going to be to speak in front of everyone! I think it was the whole emotions piece of it that gave me butterflies. Matt’s mom performed the ceremony and it was absolutely beautiful. I think pretty much everyone in the room teared up. We decided to do a first look because we spent the night apart from each other and wanted a moment to just be with each other before everything started. I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around with the most genuine smile I had ever seen. I told him to ‘bend the knee’ because we were joking that I looked like a Khaleesi/ Jon Snow mash up with my long blonde hair and fur. We were cracking up like only us nerdy GOT lovers would.
WHY WE LOVED IT
This way of tying the knot was absolutely perfect for Matt and me. We get the best of both worlds, celebrating in a low key and intimate way but also being able to bring our extended family and friends together to celebrate with food, drinks, music, and a ton of laughs. We wanted to make sure the party for everyone was exactly how we want it to be so we did not want to rush it and move up the timeline of everything. I was so worried that people would be offended that they weren’t invited to this ceremony but that wasn’t a good reason to change my whole plan. We had such a great time just truly celebrating our love and now I feel like we can relax and really let loose when the time comes in July.
Thank you to everyone who made our ceremony so special through planning, attending, and supporting Matt and I through everything. We appreciate everything more than words can even express and we are so blessed to have a team of supportive people in our lives as we begin this new chapter together. As for our family and friends who we didn’t have the chance to celebrate with yet, we look forward to #PickensIDoRoundTwo in July 2018!
I hope you guys enjoyed this recap and I hope this shed some light onto what the heck I have been up to instead of creating content recently. Things will resume to normal now…until round two comes along, and I will continue sharing my planning stories and tips in my new series. I received so many encouraging and congratulatory messages from you all on social media and I appreciate it infinitely. Crohnically Blonde is officially a married woman!
The past three and a half months have been a total whirlwind to say the least. Being engaged is both the happiest and craziest time you can ever imagine. While, in theory, being engaged is between you and your partner, it really ends up being a time where your friends and family rally around you in excitement about what is soon to be the biggest and most exciting commitment of your life.
Now Matt and I have such a funny love story, which you should hear about in our upcoming podcast but we never were going for a fairytale wedding situation… ironic considering the whole Disney proposal thing. Since the day we decided we were going to get married we actually were convinced that we were going to elope on an island somewhere. As things actually started to get real, we realized that we so badly wanted our closest friends and family there and it just wasn't feasible to do the destination thing. So we decided to do a small wedding that was going to be focused on us spending time with the people we loved who were supporting us on our new journey and overall just having a damn good time. That being said we still have about 100 people that we want to celebrate with us which can really add up price wise. Also, as superficial as this sounds, it is the truth; I love décor, I love details, and I like everything in my vision to be just right. This comes with a price tag. Especially after working for a wedding planner in the past, my standards of “the perfect big day” some could say are a bit unrealistic for what cash I actually want to (and can) shell out. With us just buying our first home, my medical bills being sky high, and us wanting to travel the world before starting a family in the next few years, we have been determined to create our perfect big day on a budget that is actually realistic. For the past three months I have been working with Matt and my closest family and friends to plan an event that is going to be budget friendly, beautiful, and so freaking fun.
This is where a lot of my time has been taken up where I would usually be spending it blogging and I was super stressed about my lack on contributions to Crohnically Blonde. Matt (he’s so smart that’s why I love him) suggested that I start sharing my experiences of wedding planning through the blog because there have to be some other people out there that are going through the same thing. Duh. Thank you fiancé. So that is where this series of posts started. I want to share with you guys my planning journey in hopes that it can inspire or help you. Learn from my mistakes and please take my successes and use them for your own big day.
To start off this series I wanted to rewind back to right when Matt popped the question. After the shock and the love and the tears and all of that jazz happened it set in…. I’m engaged, what the heck do I do now?
I definitely thought that and I panicked a little inside. I could not have written this post until I was out of the initial couple month storm of craziness. Now looking back I can organize my thoughts and break down what exactly I would recommend to myself (or any of you) right after you are officially engaged.
First piece of advice….
Don’t immediately share on social media.
I know coming from me who lives and breathes Instagram this may come as a shock. I always thought that I would be Instagramming my ring ASAP as soon as that thing was on my finger. I actually waited until the afternoon the day after to announce our big news. Not a huge gap of time but enough time for us to just enjoy each other and be happy living in the moment. This also gave us a chance to tell our families and our closest friends first so that they would see if before the rest of the internet. Once I posted I was flooded with well wishes online, via text, and by phone call. It was a lot to handle and while I am so thankful, it was nice to have that special time where it was just Matt and I celebrating our commitment. For a short while it is your own sweet, romantic secret.
Figure out if you have a deadline.
Okay, now this one sounds weird but it is really helpful. Is there a certain time that you want to be married by/need to be married by? Example for me: my health insurance was about to be dunzo so I knew the sooner the better. This helped me to craft a timeline of when the actual ceremony needed to happen and helped me narrow down venues. If there was a venue that would be booked two years out, that was going to be a hard no for me (and also most likely out of my price range). If there is a “deadline” per say then that may force you to get a little creative which sometimes can turn out to produce the best events. Knowing that we were setting a date for less than/a year out meant that I had to start booking things almost immediately after returning from our trip (where we got engaged). Now this doesn’t mean to start going crazy and booking every single thing right away but you need to lock down the things that are really important to you so you don’t miss out. That brings me to my next tip.
What are the elements of your wedding that are most important to you and your S.O. For me I know my photographer was #1 and I would take out a second mortgage on my house if I needed to get the one I wanted (just kidding but like am I kidding?). Shout out Maddison Short. Matt’s number one thing was having a really good DJ. Knowing that those two things were so important and “make or breaks” as I like to call them for the big day, we booked these vendors first and actually planned our date around when they were free. We got super lucky in this situation because my sister’s big in her sorority is the wedding photographer I wanted so she was flexible with us and our DJ is one of my college friends who is a professional DJ. Things just worked out here which I couldn’t be more thankful for but seriously if the vendors you want are in high demand (which ours definitely were) you need to lock them down ASAP.
Figure out who your wedding party is going to be and ask them.
I think this is so important to do early on because part of the planning is the fun of bouncing ideas off your girlfriends and also part of the benefit is they help to take some of the stress away. I asked my bridesmaids pretty soon after we got engaged to be in my bridal party and I couldn’t be happier. (There will be a post on how to craft the perfect Bridesmaid Proposal coming up, don’t worry). They will be there to really be invested and help along the way. It also helps to have conversations upfront with members of your bridal party about what you expect from them. For example, my MOH is my sister Amanda. She also happens to be in her last year of college and is totally swamped. Some of my other bridesmaids are getting married, in dental school, and about to graduate high school this year so that can also be stressful and leave little time for participating in the usual "bridal party activities". My best friend Kelly is in my bridal party and while she is not officially the MOH she has taken on a lot of the helpful planning duties. I explained the situation to her from the start and she has been a huge help taking the stress off of my MOH. Being a bridesmaid shouldn’t be a burdening experience so make sure you are communicating and being as open as possible about your expectations the whole way and hearing them out if they say they need some help from other members of the party or your family.
Whether you are on the groom side or the bride side, another perk of asking your party early is that you can start planning the Bachelor/Bachelorette parties early. This means watching out for deals, maybe getting early booking discounts, and planning ahead so the maximum amount of people can come.
Find someone who has been there and done that recently.
This isn’t always and option but I really have found this to be helpful. I have a few friends who have gotten married in the past few years that I have been bouncing ideas off of like crazy. They know those little things that you wouldn’t even think of… I mean, event insurance?! They also have great referrals and I am a firm believer that referrals are the best way to find vendors. There are things that I know from working in the wedding planning business but when you are piecing things together on a way tighter budget, things have to get a little more strategic and creative. That is where utilizing what these friends have done and their experiences can make your life a lot easier. Also, they keep you sane because they know how ridiculous this process can be. It was my married friend that introduced me to Natural Calm, coincidence? I think not.
I am OCD about just about everything so getting organized was one of the first things that I did. I am going to do a whole post on just exactly how I organized things in case you want to use my “model” but however you do it I suggest you make it fun. I picked up a bunch of super cute office supplies from Target to use and went to town. There are so many moving parts to a wedding and more contracts for different vendors than you will ever see in your life so being organized is so crucial. This also helps you to make sure you are on time with payments and not irritating vendors because you realize you forget to cut them that check you owe! Even though I have a Pinterest board (multiple, let’s be real), I also like printing out inspiration photos and collages so I can see everything together. Kind of a waste of paper but that is just how my brain works. There are plenty of actual planners that are specifically for wedding planning which are great if you want a separate book. For me I integrate everything with my Day Designer that I use regularly so I am seeing my upcoming “to do’s” every day and not falling behind. Another tool that I love is the wedding checklist on The Knot. I haven’t exactly followed the timeline of when to get things done (I’ve been early, overachieving AF) but it is a great reminder of little things that I would have definitely forgotten if they weren’t on the list.
My last piece of advice for those few months following your engagement and really up until your day of (and beyond) is...
Don’t forget about your partner.
Things can get really crazy. There is a ton of attention on you from friends and family which is great because they love you and want to celebrate, but don’t forget the reason why you are celebrating. You have to make sure you aren’t getting too caught up in the planning and decision making that you neglect your S.O. When it all comes down to it, the wedding is one, literally one day, of your life. Your marriage is forever so cherish this time that you have before your big day to really remember why you are so excited to spend the rest of your life with this human.
I hope these few tips have helped/will help you all! I wish I would have know all of these tidbits a few months ago! As I said before I can't wait to keep sharing my planning experience with you. You shouldn't just expect the basic bridal blog topics though. I want to touch on some things that maybe aren't the happiest part of the experience because someone needs to put it out there. I'm talking- body image/trying on wedding dresses, managing expectations (and opinions) or those around you, and anxiety of being sick on your big day (chronic illnesses are the ultimate wedding crashers). Of course we will also touch on some lighthearted topics which I'm super excited about to: bridesmaid proposals, choosing a caterer, how to get organized with your planning, and why you don't have to (and probably shouldn't) do everything by the book.
As always, if there is anything that you are excited to hear about, shoot me and email or message on Instagram and I will make sure to add it to a post soon.
Any time there is a season change my skin FREAKS out. Oily, dry, break outs, peeling, you name it, my skin is doing it. This year I feel like I've finally got things under control with a serious routine but I needed to step up my game in the scalp department. I focus so much on styling products and products to protect my color that I majorly neglect taking care of my actual skin on my head. So weird, right? I run into the same issue every year where as soon as it starts to get cold my scalp gets flaky and dry and I just tough it out or steal some of Matt's Head & Shoulders that hangs out in our shower. This year I have finally found the solution though and I couldn't wait to share it with ya'll. This Tea Tree Shampoo from Maple Holistics is my new favorite find. Not only does is sooth my scalp, eliminate flakiness, and make my hair feel super smooth... it is under $10. If you have been following along with Crohnically Blonde you know that I am in the middle of planning a wedding so cutting costs anywhere I can is on the agenda for me so this is actually perfect. It smells amazing and makes me not hate the dreaded task of washing my hair so much. I mix this in with my normal haircare routine and use it 1-2x per week (I only wash my hair every other day anyway).
As I started to check out everything else by Maple Holistics, I realized that you can actually sign up to get FREE samples. We all love free and we all love trying out a great product before we actually buy so go request a sample and your scalp will thank you. Let me know what you end up trying and what you think!
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.