For the past few months, I've been on this Apple Cider Vinegar trend. Before people were doing shots of it and then it transitioned to the beauty world where Youtube was flooded with bloggers hyping up the benefits. I'm not going to lie, I usually am a sucker to try out whatever the hot new beauty ingredient is. Obviously I hopped on the ACV train, but months later, I think I'm actually sold long term. There really are some great benefits that you can get from ACV based products that actually do live up to the benefits they boast. The main area where I've seen the benefits? My hair. I've consistently been using ACV products as part of my hair care routine for the past few months and I have to say, the results are pretty good. My hair always struggles in the summer with build up from swimming, sunscreen, and my usual excess of dry shampoo. I have cycled through various clarifying shampoos and treatments without a ton of success. These Apple Cider Vinegar products I've found are the first to actually clarify my hair without stripping my color or making my hair feel sticky/dry/gross -- you know the feeling I'm talking about. For someone who doesn't like washing their hair that much, my hair better feel damn good when I do wash it.
My favorite ACV shampoo that I've found is this one from Maple Holistics. I usually really love their products because they truly have great ingredients, their products really work, and they are SO cost effective. I highly recommend this for anyone really, but specifically if you have color treated hair and are swimming a lot during the summer. This stuff is a life saver because it actually conditions the heck out of your hair while removing chlorine build up. Another time when this stuff saves the day? After getting an updo or your hair done for an event. I know this sounds rather specific but hear me out, it is wedding season after all. Getting your hair styled for an event looks great in the moment, but the trauma of taking out all of the bobby pins and combing through the styling products when you get home at night is not on my top list of greatest feelings. I always feel like my hair is stiff, sticky, and dry, even after multiple washes. Good news, I've tested this shampoo out in that exact situation and it exceeded my expectation. Something about the clarifying properties mixed with the conditioning ingredients was the perfect combination to get the gunk out of my hair but also leave it feeling healthy and shiny. Who knew that hair miracles could happen for only $12 per bottle? And you can get it via Amazon Prime (my fave, you know).
So my Maple Holistics is my most used ACV product, but I do have a few others I like to keep in rotation for specific needs. DPhue has a great line of ACV products that are great supplements to your routine. They are a bit pricier (and worth if for sure) but that is why I like to use them a bit more sparingly. I'm really into the ACV Hair Rinse. I shared the details on my love for this product as part of my Budget Friendly Beauty Breakdown for haircare. You can get all of the details on how to use it and why I love it, there. The bottom line is, you can use this between actual washes to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
Another supplementary product I've looped into my routine this summer is the DPhue ACV Hair Masque. I've been picking these up in the travel sized packets and toting them around with me on vacation. After being in the water I pop this stuff in my hair BEFORE I shampoo. It helps to smooth things out before you comb through your hair. I leave it in for a bit then rinse and shampoo. It helps with the detangling and hydration without weighing your hair down a lot. Since I have pretty fine hair, I only need a little so one of the tiny packets can last me usually around three washes.
As I continue exploring ACV products and their benefits, I am branching out into skincare next and trying an ACV face mask this weekend. I'll report back, but for now, enjoy these gems of products that will certainly help your hair look and feel its best. Especially after this last weekend of summer when everyone is trying to get their last of pool and beach time in, you will need these come Tuesday morning......
Okay, we know Amazon is where its at for just about everything. I got great feedback on my Amazon Fashion Finds blog post I did a little while ago, so I decided to start to share some more of my Amazon faves. I’ve been on a serious budget kick lately as were trying to factor in revamping some areas of our house and (hopefully) a new car soon, without sacrificing our love for traveling and our upcoming trips. Amazon is a life saver for not only getting stuff delivered to your doorstep in record time, but also for finding quality items at great prices. I’ve decided to give you all an inside look on what my Amazon shopping list has looked like for the past month, highlighting the top five items that are budget friendly and have made my life easier in some way or another.
This COLOR WOW spray is a miracle for your hair. My mother in law recommended I try this stuff to combat the frizzy hair problems that summer brings. This heat activated spray works like a keratin treatment that you apply to your hair every three washes. I have super fine hair, but it doesn’t weigh it down. It gives me a silky texture and keeps my ends from getting dry and unruly. Its less than $30 and you only need a little bit every use so you really get a bang for your buck.
This here is a digital camera card reader that imports photos from your memory card directly to your iPhone. I bought this solely based on the recommendation of my friend and favorite photographer, Madison Short. She posted it as a must have on her Insta story and for only $12 I was sold. It makes updating your content while traveling so much easier so it’s a big must for any avid bloggers.
I haven’t stopped wearing these headbands. The Skinny Confidential posted these Gucci knockoffs the other day in Instagram and I purchased IMMEDIATELY. They are a current favorite for spicing up a boring outfit and ideal for days when you want to look put together but washing your hair is not in the cards for you. You can get all three colors for $12. Score.
I needed a new vanity mirror since mine just died on me, so I ordered this one on Prime Day. The mirror is way bigger compared to its circular predecessor and the lighting is perfectly even. It is battery powered so there is no annoying cord across your vanity, plus it has a really clean, sleek design that makes it aesthetically pleasing to stay out in the open 24/7. Great investment.
Last but not least, this god damn life saver right here. My husband is NOTORIOUS for losing just about everything, including his wallet. After a close call the other day, thinking we were going to have to cancel and reorder every credit card we have, I had to put my foot down. The Tile Slim is perfect for your forgetful hubby (or for yourself). It just slips inside your wallet or purse, or even on your phone, so that you can track the whereabouts of your items 24/7. The Slim is a perfect size for a guy to slip into his wallet and will help him stay on top of his game. Let’s face it, we can’t make them less forgetful but we can help proactively solve the problem instead of searching the house for three hours every other weekend.
I’m gearing up to do another Amazon Fashion finds post after I pull together all of my favorite pieces for transitioning into fall. I’ve already snagged a few, but I’m making sure they are tried and true before I can officially recommend.
What was your most helpful Amazon purchase this past month?
I've been thinking about a way to incorporate my love of reading into the blog somehow because it truly is one of my favorite things. I read at least a couple of books a month, usually a mix between novels, autobiographies, and self-help books. I am always dying to talk to someone about them so I'm pushing books of onto my friends like they are drugs or something, just begging them to read so we can compare thoughts. I also LOVE recommending books in general, almost as much as I love recommending beauty products. I figure, if I'm already doing all of the work of reading, why not start to share some of my favorites with you all! Then I have a place to publicly proclaim my obsessions with these books without annoying all of my friends and hopefully delivering some value to CB readers.
I am still playing around with all of the details on how I want to start sharing these book reviews. I'm not writing a book report or anything boring. Basically I want to communicate what the book is about, why I liked it, and when you should read it.... Is it a beach read or a curl up on your sofa and cry for five hours read? Is it a good read when you need to give yourself a pep talk or when you are going through a break up? These are things you need to know before diving into this type of time commitment!
A big reason why I think reading has become such a love of mine is because it is something you can do to escape in any situation. To me it is a stress relief. If I am feeling sick and miserable I can always pull out a book or put on an audiobook. It requires no physical activity and no contact with other humans so when you suffer from a chronic illness, that honestly sounds like paradise. I can bring books when I am in the hospital, waiting for doctors appointments, getting Remicade infusions, or taking a bubble bath. I can also use books to help calm my anxiety. I find that being outside of my own world for a little while really helps me to reset and come back into a situation more leveled. When you are reading you are 100% focused on something that isn't anxious thoughts running through your brain. I think about it like I do a workout class. Workout classes are therapeutic for me because for an hour I am responsible for zero other thoughts than focusing on my workout. Reading is the same, only a workout for your brain and imagination.
Anyway, I'm starting today by posting three beach reads to Amazon Prime for the long weekend. Grab a cocktail, dig your feet in the sand, and enjoy. (Cocktail recommendations also included).
My first pick for a beach weekend is "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty. For all of the "Big Little Lies" fans out there, this book was written by the same author so you know it will be full of plot twists. "The Husband's Secret" is one of those books that you just become obsessed with and can't put down until you are done.
The whole premise of the book is a wife finding out something from her husband's past that was kind of A REALLY BIG DEAL, that he wasn't planning on telling her. Immediately you are questioning what you, yourself would do in this kind of situation. Do you do the "right" thing? What even is the "right" thing? Cecelia (the wife) struggles with holding onto this secret that would 100% really throw a wrench into everyone's lives if she says something, but how can she live with her husband now? The books follows not just Cecelia's journey but also other women in the town and their internal struggles that are all somehow related to this secret. I found myself getting super attached to the characters and NEEDING to know what happened next. It isn't a super long read so it is perfect to knock out if you have a weekend at the beach or a solo weekend to yourself. There will most likely be some tears and some feelings of WTF, but that's what makes books like these good. I personally think this pairs best with a wine spritzer or a big glass of Pinot Grigio.
Next up is something a bit lighter, but totally wild. "Pretty Mess" by Erika Jayne is SUCH a good vacation read. It has the perfect mix of holy shit I can't believe that really happened moments with an equal dose of the sassy, savvy, personality that we know and love from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Even if you aren't an avid Housewives watcher, this book is still a good read. In this memoir, Erika Jayne takes you through all of the ups and downs of her life and how she reached her level of fame and success. She spills juicy details about everything from her dancing days to her marriage, while focusing around the theme of making it work and getting what you want on your own terms. All done while give zero effs about what anyone thinks about you. When you close this book you will feel empowered to be a total badass, and maybe want to dance on a table. Best paired with a spicy margarita, extra spicy.
If you are looking for a productive read while you are relaxing in the sun, "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t" by Steven Pressfield is a winner. If you are a blogger or writer, this one is certainly a must read, but it also is valuable for those whose professions don't revolve around the written word. While the book does focus around leveling up your writing abilities, I took it as how to level up your communication in general. We are telling stories all day and communicating in some way with an audience. This book is all about making sure you are adding value and interest in the way you are communicating and leading the audience to where you want them to go. This book challenges you to look inward and reflect on how you tell stories, share facts, and overall deliver what you want to say everyday. It delivers a bold statement that we can all use to gain a little more self awareness. This book is best paired with a spiked coffee, because you are going to be inspired to get working and get your shit together after reading this one.
All of these books you can buy physical copies of or you can purchase them via Audible! I'm a big fan of having a book in hand, but for long drives Audible is a life saver.
Drop a comment and let me know what types of books you want recommendations for and any genres that are you favorite! I can't wait to hear what you guys like to read and what you think of these recommendations!
Enjoy the long weekend!
Happy Thursday! I'm popping in to give a quick scoop on some fun things I can't get enough of right now. I've been trying to decide a good way to round up things I'm obsessed with for a long time. I'm experimenting with a little recurring feature on the blog to see what we think. So here we go, ready to kick this thing off.
Danny Pellegrino's Podcast, "Everything Iconic"
This podcast is one that I can't get enough of recently. I listen to it while I get ready in the morning, driving to meetings, while I take bubble baths at night, like ALL the time. Danny cracks me the FUCK up and puts me in such a good mood. He recaps Bravo shows (sometimes shows from other networks too) in the most hilarious ways. The best part are his "Danny Detours" where he talks about the most random stories that have me truly crying laughing in my car.
Better Wine Co. Nitro Rose
This stuff is so freaking good. I randomly found it at the liquor store and then realized it was made locally. Like true Maryland pride, ya'll. It's super light and tastes so good. The alcohol level is pretty on par with a can of beer so it is a perfect option for summer day drinks. Since I can't drink beer I always come in too hot with a wine at the pool at noon deal and I'm sleeping by 2pm #canthang. This might be the answer, but also, two cans of these and I'm still asleep, so who knows.
#JackieOFlow Instagram Presets
MY GIRL. Jackie O from The Morning Toast (which I am also obsessed with) launched two kick ass sets of Instagram presets to keep the flow good. I bought the indoor set and have been using them like crazy. They have such a bright aesthetic which is refreshing when the Gram seems to be mostly washed out or orange AF these days. 10/10 Highly recommend.
Lancome Monsieur Big Mascara
The mascara I didn't know I wanted, but I needed. I have been on a mascara journey since a year ago when I had the traumatic experience of having to get ride of my lash extensions. I looked like a sad, naked mole rat for a few months and am still trying to recover. My lashes have never been the same and I have been back and forth between mascaras. This is my favorite one yet. Truly it is. Tons of volume and length but not clumpy. Also not cheap, but I'd say worth it. Honestly, if I wasn't three margaritas deep and super sleep deprived on Cinco de Mayo, this purchase probably wouldn't have happened. I am oh so happy it did though.
This should require no explanation. One of my favorite shows to ever grace my television screen. Also, the reason I spend many nights Zillowing houses in Charleston, SC.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Create & Cultivate conference. I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years now and finally I was able to make it happen. Let me tell you, all of the hype I gave this event was totally warranted. The displays and installations were incredible enough to make the ticket well worth the cost. Live flowers, Insta worthy walls, and the most perfectly on brand decor was abundant. On top of the aesthetic, the content that was delivered was top notch and the room radiated serious girl boss energy.
I went with Amy (a la AmyScripts) and it was both of our first times attending Create & Cultivate. Since we were both rookies, we didn’t know what to expect at all. I mean we knew to expect as far as the content and flow of the day but as far as the dirty details and insider tips, we were pretty clueless. There were a few things that I wish a C&C veteran would have been able to share with us beforehand to help us prepare and make our day even better than it already was. I am volunteering myself, as the (now) experienced attendee, to share some insight onto what to expect and a few tips for making the most of your Create & Cultivate experience. Before I dig in, I will say, these are just my opinions based on my experience. Yours may be different if you attended in a different city or even if we attended the same conference! I want to hear your thoughts and tips! Please, please share! And, last, if you are looking for a recap of the event, you can watch my play by play via the Create & Cultivate story highlight on my Instagram.
Okay, here is the scoop…..
1. Dress for the day
This seems SUPER obvious but what I thought I should be wearing was not practical and definitely not sustainable for all day wear. I tried to dress cute but comfortable but also in something the represents me and my brand. My floor length kimono was cute in theory but was literally dragging through dirt by the end of the day. Plus, I was really cold. You certainly should pack a jacket and not make the rookie mistake I did. I didn’t understand that a lot of the event was going to be outside so I needed to be able to layer up or layer down based on the time of day and temperature.
I really tried for practicality by wearing heels but bringing flats. I wore my heels for a grand total of 30 minutes all day. And it was truly a pain to carry them around in my bag for the other 10+ hours. Next time, I am wearing comfortable flats and not bringing another option. There were tons of girls in the most adorable outfits with sky high heels, and if that works for them then go ahead babe, but for me I am not fun to hang out with when I am in pain.
Next time I’m opting for a more casual vibe; either jeans and a cute top or a jumpsuit paired with cute flats and a denim jacket of some sort. I’m telling you guys, I would have been SO much more comfortable if I would have followed this advice.
I've pulled together some items on my 'must have' list for next time.
2. Bring a big bag
*With extra room in it. The amount of swag and free stuff you get throughout the day is truly jaw dropping. I found myself wildly under-prepared to tote around my new goodies in my already stuffed (thanks unnecessary heels) bag. Next time I will probably go with a small bag to carry my essentials and a cute and large tote to store everything else. If you are traveling in from out of town to attend also keep this in mind. The gift bag alone is enough to set your luggage over the weight limit so make sure your re packing light and preparing to carry home your loot.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
3. The start time is a suggestion not a requirement
When it comes to schedules I love to abide. Having a solid plan and knowing where to be and when are two things that speak to my soul. That being said, it gave me MAJOR anxiety when Amy suggested we show up around 9am when the start time was 8am. Turns out, she was right. The world didn’t end, and this is a strategy I will follow next time. Create & Cultivate is a SERIOUSLY long day, so unless you can handle a 14-16 hour excursion, you need to get savvy with your scheduling. The morning schedule leaves a lot of down time for checking in and grabbing coffee/breakfast. We used this time to check out the pop ups and additional activities, which was great, but honestly, we could have fit that in later in the day. I also recommend prioritizing the panels you want to attend. If the morning panel isn’t hitting home with you as much as one of the keynote speakers at the end of the night, you may want to skip out in the morning so you can be engaged later in the day. By time we were exhausted, mid afternoon, we were seeing a whole new group of ladies roll in fresh faced and ready to go. They got the memo on how to do it!
This brings me to my last tip...
4. Prioritize and pace yourself
All of the pop ups, activities, speakers, and photo ops can be overwhelming. They jam pack the day with things to do so you are continuously engaged. I went into the day convinced that I needed to check every booth off my list and do absolutely everything. Have to get my money’s worth, right? That was another expectation that was wildly unrealistic. Going into the day, you have to prioritize what you definitely want to do/ what is worth waiting in line for, and make sure to plan accordingly. Getting to everything, while potentially possible, would be downright exhausting. Prioritizing and pacing yourself can ensure you have a fun day while still getting the most out the conference and not burning yourself out.
Create & Cultivate NYC was such a beneficial experience, like I really feel like I got a lot out of it. I came home inspired and ready to channel my inner boss babe. Now that I have the “insider tips” I can’t wait to see how great of an experience I have next time. To be honest, I considered booking a flight so that I could attend the Self Care Summit in Los Angeles in a couple of months, but somehow resisted. The next time C&C is on the East Coast, consider me in. Now, you have the tips to make the best of your Create & Cultivate experience, too.
So, tell me... have YOU been? What tips do you have that I should add to my list?
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……
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.
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
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.