Saying a little proactive cheers to the weekend today. I’m counting down the days until this Friday when I’m going on a much needed long weekend girls trip to New York City. Amy Scripts and I are headed to Create & Cultivate. We’ve been dreaming of attending this conference for years and now that we finally have the opportunity, we’re making the most of it with a jam packed weekend in the city that never sleeps. As crazily excited as I am, anytime I look forward to an event, I enter the situation with an overwhelming amount of anxiety that honestly really sucks. There have been countless times that I’ve looked forward to events or trips, only to be hit with a Crohn’s flare or complication that has put a damper on my day. That’s the reality of IBD and while I can’t eliminate the possibility of feeling sick, I can make sure I am armed with the proper tricks up my sleeve to help me stay feeling as good as possible.
I scheduled my Remicade for today (a Tuesday ugh), but I needed to have it before the trip so I’d be feeling as good as possible. I stocked up on all of my prescription and OTC meds to throw in my extra large tote bag. And I’m making sure to throw ample amounts of DripDrop ORS packets in my purse. Everyone has their own way of navigating IBD and for me this is how I do it. I know certain things that will make me sick and avoid them. Then there are other things I have no idea will affect me until my digestive systems makes up its mind that day. When I’m traveling, I’m constantly eating at new places and trying new foods and cocktails. I’ve mentioned this before, but trying out a city’s unique cuisine and cocktails is one of my favorite things. IBD you’re not stopping me from that! I know the chances of me having a reaction to a food I eat out is higher than making something at home, but let’s be real, I’m going to NYC.... girl’s gotta enjoy herself. Where I’m really careful though (and where DripDrop saves me) is in the cocktail department. You know I’m a fan of a rosé or a cold glass of champagne, do not get me wrong, but the dehydration risk really does freak me out..... no matter how many times you see me post #roseallday.
Let me tell you, when you’re already dehydrated (thanks Crohn’s) and indulge in a few alcoholic beverages, things can take a bad turn. Most likely you’ll end up extremely hungover with GI symptoms to boot. Not fun when you’re trying to have a lively girls weekend, not fun when you are trying to make the most of your days exploring a city, and not fun when you are sharing a bathroom. SOS.
That being said, I am not saying see ya to my favorite NYC cocktail spots (While We Were Young and Pietro Nolita, I’m looking at you!). Life is about BALANCE. And enjoying the heck out of yourself when you get a well deserved break. After indulging in a couple beverages I make sure to drink a packet of DripDrop in my water before I go to bed AND when I wake up. This helps me to feel so much better when I get up in the morning and keeps my body from experiencing those negative impacts of dehydration. It’s like my secret weapon for not feeling like a total hungover human. My favorite packets to use in this case are the full serving sticks that you mix into 16oz of water.
This also makes me super popular on group trips because everyone is asking me for DripDrop. How popular now are those services who give you in home IVs to cure your hangover? I’ve basically got that in a little pouch. Dehydration is honestly one of the worst feelings and I’m incredibly happy that I won’t have to deal with that mess this weekend. I’m not saying this means you can go out and get college drunk and feel fine. I’m saying that you can enjoy celebrating with friends, trying cocktails at an event, and trying that bottle of wine you have no idea how to pronounce. You can live life without the constant anxiety of how dehydration will impact you. You can avoid that pit in your stomach that makes you feel like you are going to miss out. You can feel a little more like your 27 year old self who just wants to laugh with her friend at dinner and cheers to celebrating a well deserved weekend off.
Photos by Madison Short
Not going to lie, the blonde part of Crohnically Blonde, definitely takes some upkeep. Especially when you are like me and are insanely specific about the exact tone of blonde you want. Not too warm but not on the gray spectrum, just a nice, icy in between. I don’t ask for much.
The reality behind getting the “perfect” blonde is a lot of wear and tear on your hair. Bleaching, toning, breakage, toning shampoos that can by super drying… I’ll thrown in hair extensions and a high heat curling iron sometimes just to really push things over the edge. I am no stranger to needing some extra TLC on my locks and handling the aftermath of damaged hair.
Since my last hair touch up, I’ve been trying out some new products to help keep my hair looking and feeling its best. Shampoo is something I feel like I never can get 100% right so that has been a big area of focus. I limit the number of times I wash my hair per week to truly the lowest number possible without looking totally unpresentable, so when I DO wash my hair, I want to make sure I am loading it up with good products that actually serve a purpose. Got to multitask.
I have been a long time fan of the purple toning shampoo and tried so many different types and brands. The issue I always run into is, as color perfecting as they are, they are so drying. Recently, I feel like I have discovered the ultimate solution to this situation. It seems simple but it is a total game changer. I have been double shampooing. The first time with whatever toning shampoo I am going to us, and the second time, following up with Maple Holistics Silk18 Shampoo. I let that sit in my hair for a good five minutes and then rinse it out. I am telling you guys this stuff has really smoothed out my hair and made it less prone to tangles and knots.
In the past I have been skeptical about using super nourishing shampoos because I have such fine hair. Sometimes using thick, hydrating products will really weigh it down and make it look greasy. Fortunately, Silk18 doesn’t have that effect. It cleanses your hair to remove build up and then nourishes it with 18 silk amino acids so you are actually “feeding” your hair instead of just piling conditioner on it to smooth it out temporarily.
Pairing Silk18 with any purple shampoo is my go to way to keep my hair color great while keeping it healthy. I also have loved using Silk18 alone and leaving it on for 20 minutes or so when my hair needs some extra loving. I even have used it on my extensions a few times which has really helped to smooth out the ends.
Maple Holistics continues to be a brand I can count on for quality natural products that won’t break the bank. It is less than $20 for a 16 ounce bottle. I highly recommend getting the largest size for sharing purposes…. More on that to come. I have super sensitive skin and have actually broken out in rashes along my hairline from using new shampoos. With this stuff I haven’t had any issues and it feels super soothing on your scalp. You know when you get your hair colored and you scalp feels dry afterwards? Use. This. Stuff. Leave it on for 20 minutes and you will feel so refreshed and the discomfort will be gone.
As I’ve been tracking my results over the past couple of months, I also discovered that when my husband ran out of his shampoo, he started using this too! I am not good at sharing my products but I let this one slide because, to be honest, his hair gets CRAZY in the winter and needs some help. If he was going to use my shampoo he at least needed to report back with his findings. His verdict was that his scalp feels so much better and he is having less dandruff throughout the day. I have noticed his hair looking and feeling smoother and overall it being easier for him to tame and style. I guess it looks like I am Amazon Priming a 16oz bottle to my house ASAP.
I hope this suggestion helps my fellow blondies (and not blondies!!) out, especially going into summer when chlorine and salt water can do a number on your hair. Maple Holistics is also a brand you can feel good purchasing from because they are naturally formulated, have recyclable packaging, and are cruelty free!
Have you tried any other products from Maple Holistics? Any other favorites that I should pick up?
Last Spring/Summer we spent just about every weekend wrapped up in some type of wedding activity. Whether it was planning our wedding, going to a wedding, or recovering from a wedding, we were busy pretty much 24/7. We spent the colder months in hibernation mode, recouping funds, organizing our house, and binge watching a lot of Netflix. Now that the weather is warmer, Matt and I have been looking for weekend activities that are fun, cost effective, and will get us away from our Netflix cave. We’re in that in between phase of adulthood where frequenting the local bar scene is not at the top of our to do list but at the same time we aren’t ready to cart kids around to soccer tournaments. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been trying out a few millennial adult friendly date night ideas that I want to give you the scoop on. Today I’m sharing all of the details on our first date night adventure that had us in tears laughing and totally wanting to do it again.
Luckily this event is available not just in Baltimore, but across the country. We went to a Murder Mystery Dinner hosted by The Murder Mystery Company! My mom has always loved Murder Mysteries so I was beyond excited that we had the opportunity to attend a professional one. Matt on the other hand was a bit skeptical because he thought he would have to act in front of everyone. I assured him this wasn’t the case and told him there would be food and he was sold. We went on a Saturday night to one of the performances that was held at a local Greek restaurant. The theme was “Til Death Do Us Part”, which basically meant the trashiest wedding you could ever imagine. It was great. Dressing up in the most inappropriate wedding attire possible was encouraged. We weren’t sure how much everyone would really commit so we wore regular date night attire and I wish I would have went big! Next time I am totally dressing up. Everyone’s outfits were hilarious and luckily we got there early enough to watch most of the crowd enter and get their “mugshots” taken.
The Murder Mystery troupe had us cracking up from the moment we entered the room and began dropping clues as they seated us at our table. While we chatted with our table-mates (now teammates!) dinner was served and mysterious binders were passed out. A few members of the audience were asked to join in the fun and play a specific character in the murder case (all of the details were in the binder). After the scene was set, a “murder” occurred and the rest of the night was like a live action clue game. I won’t give away specifics in case you want to go to the same show, but we spent the next couple of hours interviewing characters, discovering motives, and bribing our opponents with fake cash. Matt and I couldn’t stop laughing and we thoroughly enjoyed coming up with wild theories on who committed the murder. Through the information we and our teammates gathered, we were able to narrow down the suspects and identified the killer!
The performance and dinner lasted about two and a half hours and we were kept entertained the whole time. During breaks in the performance guests were able to grab drinks from the bar and chat with other dinner guests. It was a perfect mix between dining, entertainment, and spending time together. After years of going to basic dinners for date night, this was a welcome change that got us using our brains and strategizing together. As avid lovers of game nights, this took things to a whole new level with the interactive aspect.
Our final thoughts on the Murder Mystery Dinner:
Our verdict: We will definitely be back again, and introducing our friends to the good time that is The Murder Mystery Company.
If you are local to Baltimore, check out your local showtimes. If you are in another city, check out the shows that are near you! The next theme that the Baltimore crew is doing is “Death of a Gangster”. I am already planning my outfit……
My schedule has been jam packed in the most fun kind of way recently, but it has sent me into an anxious spiral around meal planning and having to eat while on the go. It has been a few weeks since I gave an update on how the Savory Living online program is going, so I definitely wanted to share what I have learned. I am never going to be the person who cooks at home every night. I am self aware enough to accept this! So I love that the program isn’t just teaching me ways to cook (although I do love that piece of it), it is teaching me the science behind other food decisions I make while at restaurants or eating in a situation where I didn’t create the menu. I’ve pulled together my takeaways from the past two weeks, so hopefully you can learn from what I have learned! If you haven’t I also recommend you read my post about flavor balancing and this post about what this online resource is.
Savory Living has taught me some great tips for improving my cooking skills, but to really be able to implement these changes as part of my everyday life, I needed some tips on what to order at restaurants. I have to face the facts here. As great as I get at cooking, my lifestyle just isn’t conducive to home cooked meals everyday. I am often dining out for client lunches at work or grabbing something last minute while I am on the go between meetings. For dinner, I try and have a better structured plan for the week but when you throw in social events, birthday celebrations, and spontaneous summer get togethers, the weekly meal plan can quickly get thrown off. Matt and I also really love trying new restaurants. This might seem weird for someone who is so reliant on “safe” food options but it isn’t just about the food. I have always loved going to new restaurants to experience the ambience, the design, and the whole experience of dining out. It isn’t so much about the food, but being able to have some tips on what to order, would make it even more enjoyable.
Choosing what to order at a restaurant can be really difficult when you are balancing multiple food allergies or sensitivities. I always try and research my options before I arrive at a restaurant to see what the gluten free choices are. Unfortunately, this can sometimes leave me with the only GF option being a salad. I love a good salad but my body does not. Uncooked vegetables can be a nightmare for me although I truly enjoy the taste of them. I can’t tell you how many work lunches I have been on where I reluctantly ordered a salad because it was the lesser of the evils. I was trying to be “healthy” but it really was backfiring.
In my third session of the Savory Living program, I got the scoop on dark leafy greens and how to incorporate them into my diet, even while dining out. At first I was super reluctant because I automatically associate veggies with feeling sick (totally the opposite of what you are supposed to think, right?!). The key is having COOKED dark leafy greens and cooking them right so that they taste good. There is a whole Vegetable Flavoring Guide that Sue gave me, similar to the flavor balancing chart, so I could easily learn how to make this stuff taste really good at home. I’ve got that down and can make a frozen spinach into a mouthwatering side dish. Really, I can, and I never thought I would say that. When I am ordering from a restaurant, instead of defaulting to the salad section, I look at what vegetable sides I can get. Usually restaurants have seasonal veggies which are cooked, so they are a lot easier on your stomach than a salad and you are going to get more complex veggies which are richer as far as nutritional benefits. This really has changed the way I order at restaurants and I am opting for a protein and veggie sides instead of the dreaded salad. This makes ordering a whole lot less stressful. I select my veggies first and go from there, that way I know that I am crowding in the good stuff first.
I’ve also started to get creative with incorporating veggies in different ways at home. Instead of always making a veggie a side, I’ve been trying to understand the ways in which their unique flavors can contribute to a dish and really enhance it. I’ve been really obsessed with the cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s so I’ve been playing around with different protein and vegetable combinations with it. My favorite so far is throwing in some broccoli rabe and chicken sausage in with it. The more I learn about food, the more I am growing to really appreciate it for it’s flavors and benefits instead of just something I have to have to keep going. The Savory Living program has really helped to shift my mindset and I’ve picked up a ton of tips that I actually am implementing. I’ve been able to really shift the paradigms I had about certain foods and move away from the reluctance I have had in the past.
The next session I am starting today is all about how sugar impacts the body. I am so excited for this one because I know sugar can be such an inflammatory ingredient but it is found in just about everything. More to come on my finding from this round!
I’ve gotten some really positive feedback on these posts around what I am learning so I am SO excited to say that you can try your first online session for FREE!! Follow this link and use the code "PZC4F2ZM" to sign up, and with my code you also get 10% off of the program! The first session alone is full of such valuable information and you get to learn it all from the convenience of your own sofa.
As always, let me know if you have any questions at all, and drop me a message telling me what your favorite vegetable focused restaurant order is?
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.