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?
Looking at me on any given day, you’ll see me with a smile on my face, makeup done, and a cute outfit. Maybe some days I look a little under the weather or tired. But, when I walk into a meeting or a party or an event, no one can guess by looking at me that I am suffering from an invisible illness, Crohn’s Disease.
It’s crazy how much can be happening inside while outside you look fine. Lifting the veil on the fact that you can still be sick while not looking it, is something I’ve felt strongly about since my diagnosis. If you have a physical injury or a visible illness, others have visual “proof” of what you are going through. When you have an invisible illness, life is full of people commenting “well you don’t look sick”. I try and take that as a complement but it’s a double edged sword. I don’t want people to think I look the way I feel but somehow it makes me feel less validated and frustrated. I feel like if people can’t see my struggle they don’t expect me to be struggling so I need to live up to that standard.
If I don’t look sick than my mission is to feel that way. My mission is to live my best life and accomplish as much as i can even though I have Crohn’s Disease. That means traveling, being active, having a family, and not letting my symptoms hold me back. Dehydration is something that impacts me regularly. When I am having a Crohn’s flare it is really easy for me to become super dehydrated and that can feel so miserable and be downright dangerous. I already have to slow down sometimes because of symptoms that are out of my control, and I am NOT going to let dehydration be one of them. Controlling what you can is key. I carry around DripDrop in my purse everyday that way I can proactively handle the signs of dehydration and if it gets to the point of dehydration I can start treating myself immediately instead of potentially having to take a trip to the ER.
I was always scared of doing anything that would risk me becoming dehydrated because I knew my body’s situation was already fighting against me. It was hard to workout or go hiking because I would feel worse afterwards instead of better an energized. Even traveling became such an anxiety trigger for me because I knew dehydration would inevitably become and issue. DripDrop is like my little safety packet that I can have with me all the times for when I need it.
As the control freak I am, I want to make sure I am managing as many aspects of my illness that I can. There is only so much you can do to control your insides though. I can put on makeup and do my hair to make myself look outwardly “well”, but what is the solution for the inside? You can change what you are putting in your body, but with Crohn’s symptoms you are constantly fighting dehydration. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t matter what you are putting into your body because you feel so miserable either way. I can’t control what foods my body is going to dislike on any given day, but I can control my hydration levels. Being able to have control over something so important for my body is a huge win.
I am thankful that there is a company out there that saw the importance of dehydration relief and committed to making a difference in people’s lives with their products. DripDrop is not only helping people, like me, with chronic illnesses. Their products are helping first responders, military personnel, and competitive athletes. These are all situations where they don’t have time to deal with dehydration. By giving them the power to take control of their dehydration relief, it gives them the power to focus on the missions they are working towards without skipping a beat or having their bodies hold them back. That is how I feel by using DripDrop. I can focus on my mission, instead of focusing on symptoms.
Everyone has a mission that they are working towards and I want to hear what yours is. For every social media post that you tag with #SticktoYourMission, DripDrop will donate one DripDrop stick to humanitarian aid. By sharing your mission you are helping DripDrop drive their mission of providing dehydration relief across the world.
If you haven’t read my post yet about my journey to more anti-inflammatory eating, definitely do so. It was the launching point for my new experimental dive into cooking, which you may have seen on my Instagram stories. While I’m not a total pro, yet, I’m really proud of how far I have come in the cooking game.
I’ve been working with Sue Levy, from Savory Living, on little behavior changes that I can implement in my life that can make a big impact on my health. I’ve been in tune with my body and what feels good for me, so that I can actually customize what I’m eating in order to feel the best I can. Sue has been helping to walk me through these little changes and helping me learn how to cook so that I can own the knowledge of what I’m eating. The whole program is online and takes less than an hour or so a week so it was easy for me to add into my already crazy schedule. Sue and I can communicate through the website directly so it is super efficient and she can give me advice and direction as I am working through recipes and new foods, day by day.
Throughout these first few weeks so far, I have gained a lot of confidence in my cooking abilities for the first time in my life and I have realized how delicious the food I’m able to make. It took me 27 years to take an interest in cooking because it took me until now to have someone explain it to me in a way that clicked with my brain.
Sue introduced me to this really cool concept called flavor balancing. It’s all about adding elements to your dish that are acidic, sweet, salty, and bitter until it tastes like a balanced and artful combination. This really demystified things for me because it reminded me of any other artful practice like interior design or fashion. It is all about balancing all of the elements of a room or an outfit so that one piece doesn’t overpower another. If you find you are decorating a room with a lot of heavy pieces, you need to add in some airy, textural accessories to balance it out. That is the same with food.
This was a crazy realization for me to the point that I called my mom to explain how making dinner was like designing a room. The confidence built since I felt like I had almost a secret formula that would make my food taste good. After I got the flavor balancing concept down, Sue gave me her holy grail of flavor balancing…. Her global cuisine flavor chart which basically teaches you what to balance to create any type of flavor you are craving. For example, if you want to make something with a Greek flavor profile, her guide literally lists exactly the different items you can mix from each flavor category to create a perfect dish. It also tells you exactly what proteins, fats, veggies, and herbs to add in. It is basically a formula that you can’t mess up for making great tasting dishes. She also has a lot of other guides that are formulated in this same way, like her guide to making your own vinaigrette at home which, in case you were wondering, I totally nailed. There are also videos that you can follow along to, so really, I couldn’t mess this up.
I just can’t fathom that it took me so long to learn to look at cooking this way but I am so thankful that I finally “get it”. It has also made my grocery shopping and meal planning so much easier. A little hack on how I’ve been planning out meals lately is, I pick a flavor profile that I want to focus on that week and I buy the herbs, vegetables, protein, and fat that fit with that “formula”. It’s nice because I can mix and match the ingredients, I know that they actually go together, and I can create different meals with the same core ingredients. This has actually saved us money because before I would find a random recipe online, buy all of the ingredients, use them once, and they’d go bad. Now I’m actually using our food to its full potential and appreciating the many ways in which I can incorporate it into a meal.
Here is an example… last week we were in the mood for some French flavors so we stocked our house with the essentials.
Now that I’m experimenting more with flavors, I’m realizing what I like, as well as new combinations. I improvised a meal to surprise Matt the other night - scallops pan seared in butter/garlic and seasoned with parsley, salt, pepper, lemon. I baked asparagus and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and some parmesan cheese on top. I’m learning that no matter what the flavor profile, I pretty much like parmesan and garlic with almost everything. The meal was a hit and I was, not going to lie, super impressed with myself.
I’m going to continue to share these meals I am making…. Like tonight’s, shrimp scampi with broccoli and gluten free red lentil pasta. I’m not sharing to show off, okay maybe I am a little, but I love sharing how easy these concepts are and how I’ve been implementing them into my life. I wish I would have had this “I get it” moment years ago so I’m shouting it out to everyone I know!
This was only the second session of the program and I just started the third this past week. Each session is teaching me new skills to build on top of each other. This week I’m working on crowding my diet with greens and learning how to cook said greens properly. This is a must needed skill for IBD sufferers because leafy green veggies can be hard to handle if they aren’t cooked. As I’m adding onto my skills in the kitchen, not only am I feeling more confident but I am feeling better physically and mentally, and I’m saving money.
I was on the phone with Sue on Saturday raving about all of these things she has taught me. We chatted for almost an hour about this and she just is a wealth of knowledge about these tips to create lifestyle habits that support the best you. I’m SO excited, because she offered to get on a 20 minute call with any Crohnically Blonde readers who are in need of some of some of these personalized tips. She is offering to do this totally for free which is incredible! Shoot me and email or message on Instagram if you want to schedule a call with her and I can send you her link to do so! If you do chat with her I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on her tips and the passion she has about helping others!
Stay tuned for more of my cooking adventures…..
Having a suppressed immune system during flu season makes interacting with any human being feel like you are playing russian roulette with your health. Last year was the worst flu season I had experienced ever. I got the flu shot and still ended up with the flu. Twice. I spent a seriously huge chunk of my winter trying to get over being sick. I actually did a post about the remedies I found had worked. At least if I was going to spend that much time under the weather, I was able to gather some good tips to pass on.
This year my focus has been on taking preventative measures to make sure I don’t have a repeat performance of flu season 2018. Between how busy I have been recently and already having to take extra “down time” because of my Crohn’s, being out of commission for an extra week is incredibly inconvenient. This season I have seen success with a few tricks I’ve picked up over this past year. It is only February so while we aren’t out of the woods yet, I’ve at least made it this far and wanted to share. I have rounded up my “Essential Top 5” tricks for getting through flu season, including some products that have been a total game changers for me.
1. Stay hydrated with DripDrop
Adding a packet of DripDrop to your water everyday is a super simple way to load up on Vitamin C and make sure you are keeping your body hydrated. Staying hydrated is so important for keeping your immune system strong and moving toxins out of your body and vitamin c is the holy grail of immune system boosting tricks. DripDrop is an oral rehydration solution that treats and prevents dehydration. I make sure to have a packet of DripDrop added into my water to sip throughout the morning. It tastes really delicious too, so it feels like you are giving yourself a little treat. I’ve been doing this for the past couple of months and I have also noticed a difference in my energy levels, improvement in my skin, and best yet, I have stayed pretty free from nasty cold weather viruses!
The more I researched why staying hydrated is so important, I’m thought, well duh, how did I not put this together before. Think about when you go to the hospital… what is the first thing they do pretty much every time? Hook you up to an IV to get you hydrated. The fact that I can basically give myself all of the benefits from an IV everyday without the needles or hospital stays, is pretty game changing*. I like DripDrop specifically because the drink mix isn’t loaded with unnecessary sugars, it packs a ton of vitamin C into just one serving, and it works so quickly. My favorite flavor is the watermelon, it also turns your water pink so, pretty on brand, right? You can get the multi-flavor pack (here) so you can sample all three flavors and see what your favorite is.
2. Take your vitamins
Similarly to staying hydrated, I have been making sure that my body has all of the vitamins it needs so I can stay as healthy as possible. Traditionally I am not a big vitamin fan because they usually mess up my stomach and aren’t worth the hassle. For the past few months I’ve been trying Ritual Vitamins and have been loving them. They include everything you need in one capsule so you don’t have to lug around 5 different vitamin bottles in your purse. They also taste great because they are infused with peppermint essential oil and they don’t upset my stomach. Win. Win.
3. Consistently get a good night sleep
Being sleep deprived is your immune system’s number one enemy. It is important to make sure that during “sick season” you are giving yourself ample time to sleep at night and make sure to maximize those precious hours by getting to sleep quickly. This hasn’t always been a strong suit of mine but I have been working on meditating before bed, scheduling a “bed time” for myself (and abiding by it), and limiting blue light exposure before bed. Everyone has different tricks that help them sleep but being in a routine has really helped my body become more aware of when it is supposed to be snoozing. I recommend the Headspace and Relax Melodies apps for meditation and start about 20-30 minutes before you actually want to be asleep. Both apps have a lot of different options so there is something to help everyone drift off into slumber.
4. Manage your stress levels
This is the number one thing my gastro always tells me, keep my stress levels in check to help keep my body well. This is another work in progress for me but I’ve seen a lot of relief by managing the expectations I have for myself and the expectations I set with others. I used to always be nervous to say no to an activity or social event. Now, no is a response I give a lot and it is for the better. I also have recently been auditing my calendar to make sure that everything I’m doing is adding value to my life. Through doing this I’ve been able to cut out unnecessary tasks and use that time to relax instead and make sure I’m giving my body the down time it needs.
Part of stress management for me also includes staying active. Keeping a strict workout routine is difficult when there are so many surprises your body can throw at you. Crohn’s flare, aching joints, a random fever out of nowhere…. Just a few things that like to get in the way. I like to make sure that even if I can’t do something intense I am being active in some way. Two of my favorite ways to keep my body moving are doing yoga at home and taking my dogs for walks. Both are not strenuous and don’t put extra stress on my body but keep me active and give me time to clear my head.
5. Sometimes you have to play offense
While most of my tips are about heightening your body’s defenses, sometimes you have to play offense when it comes to protecting your immune system. During this time of year I always carry hand sanitizer, a hospital mask, and sanitation wipes. I especially do this for when I travel because you are in contact with so many people and so many potentially germ ridden surfaces. Making sure you are keeping your surroundings clean is important and allows you to proactively handle germs.
Hopefully these tips were helpful and you can implement them before “sick season” is over and get through flu free. If you have any questions specifically about the products or apps I recommend, shoot me a message.
Now about to go sip a big cup of DripDrop, watermelon flavor, please, and watch The Bachelor.
Photos by Madison Short ;; Jacket by AmyScripts
*2003 study shows no difference in effectiveness between ORS & IV.
I received this product for free for testing purposes but all opinions are my own.
Food and I have always had a love/hate relationship. I feel like that’s sadly too often the case in people with IBD. Throw constantly working to stay in recovery from an eating disorder and you’ve leveled up to a status that “It’s Complicated” can’t even begin to cover.
Over the years I’ve tried a plethora of food related remedies to help with my digestive issues and seen plenty of nutritionists for both that and my eating disorder. I’ve tried the keto diet, low FODMAP diet, removing dairy/gluten, liquid diets, Chinese herbs…. a lot of things. Some of them have stuck, like I now know what foods don’t agree with me, but I don’t feel like I’ve developed a truly sustainable and enjoyable way of eating. Plus, I still have a variety of issues leading back to autoimmune and inflammatory problems and I still have no way to fix those things.
Over the years I’ve developed such a stress surrounding food and meals. What is going to make me sick? Will this make me gain weight (on top of the weight I’ve gained from my medications)? Is this food really good for me? How the heck do I actually even cook something properly? I am a hot mess when it comes to anything in the kitchen.
I’ve had such a stress around food preparation that I never really learned how to cook. Like, I’m really, really not great at it. Matt doesn’t even want me to cook our Sunbasket deliveries alone because he’s concerned for my safety. I wish I was kidding. I love enjoying good food though; I get that part. The marriage of flavors, the textures, the balance. Creating a successful dish is just like putting together a well-designed room or outfit. It is a science and an art, just one that my heart has never been behind.
I never made it a priority to learn how to properly cook for or fuel myself because I have always just gotten by with my half-assed attempts. My life has been so busy that there was always an excuse as to why cooking simply wasn’t for me. It is funny how you can make all of the excuses when it involves you, but when it involves others the game changes. Let me explain……
Sue from Savory Living reached out to me to connect about her unique online experience. The goal is to help you eat right for your body in a way that is customized to you and lifestyle. At first I was skeptical because I can’t tell you HOW many people have reached out to me telling me that their special diets or products would cure my Crohn’s Disease. That a shake would rebalance my immune system. That eating only raw vegetables would revive my digestive system. The list goes on and on and I always called bullshit, especially after all of the years of desperately trying whatever I could.
I looked into Sue’s company, Savory Living and I was pretty impressed. Savory Living is an online experience that, in 12 sessions, helps you develop healthier habits that YOU choose, teaches you how to cook food that is good for you, tastes good, and gives you the “why” behind adding in those certain foods. It is focused on mindfulness around what makes you feel good, showing up and committing to yourself, and ADDING good foods to your plate instead of focusing on elimination. The program slowly guides you to make small changes over time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps to set you up for success. I am ALL about this and have tried to do this for myself but the thought of what the heck I’m supposed to eat gets too daunting and I run out of the grocery store in a cold sweat.
I had a long call with Sue and we connected immediately. Hearing her story of how she’s thriving as a mom and entrepreneur, and crushing a rare disease that was determined to hold her back, was super inspiring. She explained how she made lifestyle changes for herself (and her family!) that really stuck and helped to create a drastically healthier life and an increasingly good prognosis for her health conditions. By the end of our conversation I was in awe of how much she really just wants to share her knowledge and experience in order to help others who were suffering from chronic ailments.
As she walked me through the program I was really drawn to how education focused it is. The whole goal of the program is to help you discover how to eat right for you (getting anti-inflammatory eating to solve the issues you are experiencing) and to guide you through the change to make it easy, manageable, and fun. Then she hit me with something that SHOOK ME….Sue explained that we teach our kids how to walk and talk and read and write but we never teach them how to eat.
THIS. RIGHT. HERE. Is what got me. If I don’t learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and figure out how to best fuel my body, how would I be able to teach my kids? The thought of leading my future children down the complicated food path I have traveled completely horrified me. This thought played over in my brain all day after our conversation.
So here I am. I have finally committed to learning a bit more about food, food preparation, and the “why” behind what we put in our bodies. I am starting an online program with Savory Living in hopes of creating a better lifestyle that I can pass onto my future kids and my family.
The program is a total of 12 sessions with two weeks in between to implement your new tricks. During those two weeks you implement three different changes to your life that are positive and trackable. You log what you are eating each day in the Savory Living portal so that you can be aware of any correlations the food you eat is having with your body, mood, energy level, etc. The classes are only 25 minute long videos which are easy to digest (haha get it….) and to the point, plus there is a ton of food ideas, cooking content, and other resources that you can explore. It is super interactive and personally I can’t wait to try out the recipe videos! You also have a coach who is helping to hold you accountable and advise you as you go through the program. This means a built-in person to help you if you are having a grocery store meltdown. Sorry in advance, Sue.
I am hopeful that educating myself more on food and nutrition instead of turning a blind eye, because it’s just too stressful to think of, will help me to feel better physically and mentally. I am hoping what I learn can help me adapt my lifestyle and feel excited about eating and cooking instead of treating those actions like a dreadful chore.
As I go through the programI am going to share my thoughts with you, as well as some bits and pieces of knowledge I’m getting. I’m going to track how I feel as I implement these lifestyle changes and you can come along on this journey with me. Since each program takes a full two weeks, I’ll be posting a “check in” every month or so to track progress and see how things are going.
One of my intentions I set for the year was to be more mindful and I am excited that this program and support are going to help me be more informed about what I am putting in my body and more mindful of how those things make me feel. As always, if you have any questions as I start the Savory Living program, drop me a message, and make sure to follow along via Instagram for even more updates along the way.
In the category of life hacks, I feel like I have found the holy grail. And I have to share it.
Every time I would scroll Instagram I would wonder how the heck these girls afford to have so many nice clothes and new pieces in basically every photo. Of course there are sponsorships and borrowed clothes for photoshoots…. and friend’s closets. There is a long way to climb before you reach that level and a lot of events that need cute outfits along the way. So how do you manage keeping your budget in line, keeping your outfits fresh, and getting to enjoy quality pieces? Renting them.
This is the secret that I have just found out about.
Rent the Runway Unlimited.
You all know, before I recommend something I like to try it for a bit of time and weigh the pros and cons. I’ve been using Rent The Runway since October (so almost four months now) so I feel like, now, I can give you the full scoop.
I’m going to break it down for you as to what RTR Unlimited is, why I have been loving it, and some of my tips for getting the most bang for your buck.
You all are probably familiar with Rent the Runway, the website (and brick and mortar) where you can rent designer pieces for a specific amount of time for super affordable prices. I’ve used RTR for many different occasions and always have had a great experience. My friend, Julianna from Barre to Table, told me about Rent The Runway Unlimited and I figured based on my previous RTR experiences, this one would follow suit.
RTR Unlimited takes the original concept of RTR and amps it up to fit your everyday needs. Basically it is Netflix for your clothes. You can borrow up to four designer pieces that you personally select for as long as you want and exchange them as often as you want. It is pretty simple and self explanatory, like you can’t mess this up.
I was curious as to what the selection of pieces would be and I was happily surprised to see the wide variety of clothing and accessories available to Unlimited members. There are brands like Tory Burch and Kate Spade that may already be in rotation in your closet, but renting allows you to get your hands on some more unique pieces without feeling like you made a sunk investment. There are also other brands that may not be in your everyday affordability range but renting them allows you to wear them without the hefty price tag.
Speaking of price tag, I won’t lie, I was a bit skeptical at first about the $159/month fee for RTR Unlimited. It sounded great but was it worth it? I got my first month for $99 (you can also get that discount here!) which happened to coincide with my anniversary and two photoshoots. I thought this was perfect because I was already going to have to get new outfits for those events so I might as well just try renting instead… for experiment’s sake. You can also pause or stop your membership at any time so there was really no penalty in trying it. I ended up totally getting my moneys worth for the first month and swapped out a grand total of 11 pieces in the first month alone (I’ll get more into getting the most bang for your buck later on). I have kept my subscription going and still feel like it is totally worth it at $159/month.
I feel like I actually save money and don’t buy shit I don’t need.
How much of your closet is full of random clothes you bought for one occasion, wore for one Instagram picture, and then threw on a hanger to fade away into forgotten darkness. That is a lot of my closet and it is sad to see how much money I’ve thrown away on clothes I don’t wear that aren’t even that great of quality.
By renting pieces I am not tempted to purchase clothes for one time wear which saves me money and closet space. It also allows me to rent super trendy pieces without feeling guilty for spending money on something I will only wear for one season (or one Instagram if we’re being honest).
If there is something you rent and can’t seem to part ways with, you are in luck. RTR has great deals on purchasing rented pieces. Like really good deals. So far I got a $290 Tory Burch tote for $70 (in perfect condition) and a winter coat that was usually around $300 for only $79. I’ll also note here, if you love something but don’t want to commit to it just yet you can keep renting it, month after month.
I hope you are sold on at least trying it for a month because I swear it is a game changer. If you are in, keep reading because I’m sharing my tips to get the most value out of your subscription.
Always check the reviews before your order a piece. This part works similarly (read: identically) to traditional RTR. Other renters can post their reviews/photos and you can look up the reviews from people with similar sizes/body types to yours. This is so helpful especially when you are shopping brands that you aren’t super familiar with. It also helps to eliminate any surprises when you see what a piece likes on an everyday person versus a model.
The most important thing in my opinion is….
Plan, plan, plan.
This is key. The shipment schedule is everything here. Usually I return my rented items on a Monday, they arrive at the facility on Wednesday which is when I can make my new selection, and my next shipment arrives on Thursday, in time for the weekend. I strategically decide when to rent pieces and how many pieces at a time based on the events coming up. If I know it is a busy month, I will plan out specifically the days that I will place and return my orders so that I can ensure I get a fresh shipment every week. If you want optimal delivery time you have to place your order before 3pm so to make things easy I keep the next pieces I am eyeing saved in different folders. This makes it easy to just make your selections in between a meeting or on a trip to the bathroom at work without having to put too much thought or time into it.
If you are maxing out your subscription, you can get up to four new pieces per week, you just have to be diligent about exchanging them on time. If not, it isn’t a huge deal and you still will get a great value, but with proper planning you can really make your subscription worth every penny.
You also don’t have to return everything at once. RTR delivers your shipments in an easily shippable garment bag with a prepaid shipping label, so as long as you have one of those in your possession you can always swap out items. There has only been one occasion where I wanted to return a piece but didn’t have a garment bag, but that was my fault thanks to poor planning and I ended up getting a new shipment and using that bag to return the piece within two days. Another perk of being able to send back pieces after you wear them is you don’t have to do laundry. They dry clean everything for you which, especially when dealing with delicate fabrics, makes life a whole lot easier.
The moral of the story is, Rent The Runway Unlimited is LEGIT. It has saved me money, helped me style some super cute outfits, and feels like Santa is coming to your house once a week. I could go on for about five more posts talking about the little details of RTR Unlimited but I will chill out for now. I’m interested to hear if you all have tried RTR/RTR Unlimited or if you are now interested in trying it. If so you can use my link for a little discount (YAY!).
If RTR is something ya’ll get excited about I would love to continue with some posts on my favorite RTR picks, how I use RTR Unlimited for trips, and maybe even share some tips on fits/styling. I just love being able to share such a helpful service and share a little secret of what is behind a lot of blogger’s trendy Instagram’s. It always confuses me when bloggers/influencers don’t want to share where they got a piece of clothing or if they rented something/got something used. I feel like it is so important to share the reality because for most of us, just casually buying a Chanel bag for an Instagram photo isn’t attainable.
I think RTR Unlimited is a totally genius idea that puts the luxury of fashion into everyones hands, helps to reduce waste, and can save the members of the Instagram generation a whole lot of money. You know I nerd out over how businesses are built and the psychology behind their concepts and RTR caught my attention in that realm. I highly recommend you listen to the “How I Built This” podcast episode with RTR creator Jean Hyman. It will give you an even deeper appreciation of the brand and the mindset shift the fashion industry had to make to make it successful.
Photos by Jade Nikkole Photography
Ever since we have been in our home (two years now, I can't believe it!!) I have been all in on decorating for just about every holiday. A few months ago I asked you all what you wanted to see more of on the blog and, to my surprise, a ton of you wanted to see more home decor/decorating on a budget. I never really saw that as my "specialty" but just something I did to add some festive vibes to our house without blowing a ton of money. The Christmas decor post I did got a ton of love so I figured, why not continue with Valentine's Day?
I have a few areas in my house that are constantly rotating with holiday decor. I only decorate my first floor (living room, dining room, kitchen) to keep things easy, and I try and save money by purchasing items that can flow from season to season. For example, I bought some adorable Christmas pillows that were red and blush colored so, boom, now they can take me through Valentine's Day. I am all about making things easy so most of my decorations are from Target because I can get them all in one spot while running errands or get them delivered quickly and for free (thank you REDcard!). Target is great because they have a ton of cute things that are inexpensive and trendy so you can use them for only one season and not feel bad but they are good enough quality that you can reuse year after year if they still work for your style.
In this post, I've highlighted a few of my favorites from this year along with some tips on how to incorporate decor from other holidays (money saving YESSS).
If you have read my Christmas decor post, you know that a letter board is one of my favorite decor items. They can easily be switched from holiday to holiday and can have cute saying displayed in between. Currently we have "New Year Who Dis?" featured in our dining room and between holidays, quotes from "The Office" frequent the board. I got one in millennial pink because it gives a cheeky pop of color but also fits for just about every holiday/season.
As far as taking decor from Christmas into Valentine's Day, pillows are a super easy thing to invest in that work for both. I love having some pops of pink for Christmas and of course, red is a Christmas staple. The throw pillows I bought were holiday neutral enough (but still festive) that they could seamlessly transition into Valentine's Day. For pillows, they can often be pricier so I like to invest in ones that are versatile but at the same time can be punchy and cute.
These are some of my favorites now from Anthroplogie. They are absolutely adorable, super soft, and definitely versatile. The color combinations are so freaking good.
Another item that I love investing in are candles. Specifically great smelling ones. I love the Capri Blue Candles and they come in punchy colors that just scream Valentine's Day. They aren't cheap, but they are amazing enough to continue using 365 days a year.
When it comes to candles I love putting them out on my coffee table and dining room table. I like to put jars that are running on empty on my cabinet shelves in the dining room to add some color (#repurposing). My cabinet is my focal point of the dining room and I switch it out for every season. This year I've loaded it with adorable wedding photos, candles, and a big, pink "XOXO" balloon ($3 from Target).
In the dining room I also always switch out my table runner or placemats and I always get some themed paper straws or our bar cart.
This is the table runner I got this year. So cute, right?!
And these are the paper straws! I throw them in either a mason jar or a mercury glass jar and add a cute bottle of rosé to the bar cart and, boom, so cute and festive.
Now onto the living room... I have my carry over pillows from Christmas along with some furry pillows and throw blankets. I do like to add one or two fun items to spice things up. This heart throw pillow is a personal favorite and this garland is prefect on our TV stand.
Wreath wise, you can definitely get away with a red theme from Christmas or a pink theme for Spring, but if you are in the mood for something spot on, this wreath is everything. And won't break the bank.
I like to think that getting in the holiday spirit doesn't just mean decorating your house, but also yourself when necessary. I totally fell in love with this Valentine's themed robe from Victoria's Secret. It definitely is festive but cute enough to wear all year round while doing your makeup in the morning. I also am loving these super cute coffee mugs that can be used for Valentine's Day or just when you want to channel some romantic vibes. Both are great investments that can get you in the holiday spirit but also can be adorable and useful all year round.
Stay tuned via Instagram (@crohnicallyblonde) to see live updates on my home decor and drop me a message with any recommendations or tips you have for holiday home decorating!
(Photo by Madison Short)
Happy 2019! With the New Year upon us I know everyone is making resolutions left and right. I am all for it if you are a resolution maker and that works for you but for me I am self aware enough to know that by February 1st any resolution I’ve made is out the door.
A lot of resolutions tend to focus on giving up something or punishing ourselves for not “being our best self”. I don’t know about you but not the vibe I want to go into a new year with. I like to set goals and intentions instead. I know that doesn’t really sound that different when you hear it but it is. I like to think that goals and intentions come from a positive place. When you set them you are choosing to implement positive habits into your life and they’re coming from a place of self love and wanting to do what’s best for your mind, body, and soul. The new habits you form to achieve these goals will have a positive connotation and hopefully you’ll be excited about implementing them into your life.
It’s kind of like a big old mind game but honestly, I’m telling you, the way you look at things changes everything.
If you’re still looking for what goals and intentions you want to set for this year, take your time! Don’t rush into it just to declare you’re doing something, wait until you are passionate because that will make you way more likely to succeed.
While you’re dreaming and crafting your big ideas for 2019 here are a few quick things you can do this week so help start this year on a positive note.
1. Purge your social media
I LOVE this one. You know that person who every time you see their post there’s a pit in your stomach? It could be a person who you constantly compare your life to and always feel less than. It could be an old friend who is always spreading negative vibes. There are a lot of other categories these fall in but you get the point. If you’re following someone whose posts spark a negative reaction in you, BYE. UNFOLLOW. There are a lot of things in life you can’t control but who you follow is something you can.
2. Do something nice for someone
Pay it forward in the Starbucks line. Sign up to volunteer on a Saturday morning. Donate to your favorite animal rescue. No matter how big or small this one will help another person and put a smile on your face as well.
3. Clean up/organize your home
I know some of you are reading this in horror. One that you think cleaning will start your year off on a positive note, or two that it can be done this week/in a week. I’m not here to ruin your weekend, I promise, but I do believe organizing/ cleaning even just a little space in your home can make you feel accomplished and can help reduce anxiety.
4. Buy a new planner
Nothing starts the new year off on a fresh note like a brand new planner. I love getting a new planner because I’m an office supply nerd. Also, I thoroughly enjoy writing in all of my plans for the year so I know all of the great things (trips, weddings, birthdays) to look forward to!
5. Plan to do something you’ve always wanted to do no matter how big or small
If you’re looking at your shiny new planner and it feels a little bare, so something to fill it up! Make plans to do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet. Whether it’s trying out skydiving, checking out a new hiking trail, taking a coding class, or traveling somewhere exotic. No matter how big or small this will be something fun that you can look forward to and check off of your bucket list. And put in your planner.
Last thing and probably my favorite/most important....
6. Make a list of everything you are thankful for going into the year
Do this and I promise you, it will lift your mood and make you realize how much amazingness you have in your life. During a time of year where everyone is hustling and pushing ahead it’s nice to take some time to appreciate what you do have, all that you’ve accomplished, and the people that have helped you do so.
I hope you all have started off your year in the best and most “you” way possible. I’ve spent my first week of 2019 with lots of self care and puppy snuggles. Can’t complain here.
Photo by: Jade Nikkole Photography
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.