Huge Amazon fan right here. Along with the rest of the world. With Prime Day starting tomorrow, I have been inspired to share some of my favorite Amazon fashion finds. At first I was not sold on the prospect of buying clothes from the same place I rush ordered paper towels, but after a few great successes, the idea really grew on me. Now I am a pro at navigating ratings and reviews to find good quality items at really great prices. All Primed to my house in two business days or less. I’ve rounded up the favorite summer items for you to shop. All of these are tried, true, and approved by me! Enjoy…
First up, bathing suits. I used to always buy expensive suits, wear them for one season, and then insist that I needed new styles for the next summer that rolled around. Definitely not cost effective. I have found some great suits on Amazon that are a fraction of the price of designer suits, but are still super trendy and cute. I like to buy trendier pieces from Amazon because even if the quality isn't great, it isn't like I will be wearing them year after year.
With the high waisted bikini trend being so prominent right now, I definitely wanted to snag a few for summer without breaking the budget. I found one in black and one in a palm print (so me, right?!) both for under $30 for the whole set. They both fit perfectly (thanks to reading the reviews) and showed up at my door just the way they looked online. I even ended up buying the black bikini in a star pattern for our Fourth of July trip!
For the first pick, I recommend sizing up because the pieces do run small and for the second pick I recommend the opposite. It does run a bit bigger so feel free to opt for a size down.
I also added in two suits that have been with me for a few years, both of which I got from Amazon. Just like a little black dress, it is always good to have a black bathing suit that you feel comfortable and attractive in. These are two of my picks that have made it from Hawaii, to the Outer Banks, to Greece, and lived to tell the tale.
I would order true to size in both of these. I did mediums in both and they work just fine! They also are both very forgiving silhouettes so nothing feels like it is grabbing in the wrong spot.
Bathing suit season also means you need some type of cover up for the beach. I like to wear something cute that I can walk into a beach bar or party wearing. You know, keeping things easy breezy with minimal outfit changes. Both of these I found for great prices on Amazon and I have gotten SO many compliments. I wore them both on the beaches in Greece and at least one person came up to me everyday asking me where I got them. Amazon, baby,
If you're looking for a summer sundress, these next two options are a ideal for embracing current trends without spending a ton of money. I bought both of these last year before our honeymoon and they still remain staples of my summer wardrobe. They both fit so, so well and the fabric doesn't wrinkle much which is a godsend for traveling.
Both of these are true to size. I purchased mediums in both.
Last up is my favorite accessory I have ever purchased from Amazon.... We all know that expensive, designer version wood clutch that it seems like ever fashion blogger has at least 75 Instagram pictures with. Well, TBH I did not have that money to shell out on a seasonal clutch. I respect the hell out of the original design and get that this version doesn't even come close to the level of detail in the original, but hey, girl's gotta pay a mortgage here. I found a dupe on Amazon that has served me well, made it into some cute Insta worthy pics, and also earned laughs from my husband who asks why I am carrying a birdcage with me to dinner. Very. Funny. Anyway, love this dupe from Amazon. It has traveled with me and survived so based on my experience the quality isn't bad if you are looking to get the wood clutch look without the price tag.
The tye is removable FYI.
Let me know what you think of these summer picks and if you want me to continue to share my Amazon fashion finds. I'm going to work on adding all of these to my Crohnically Blonde Amazon Shop, as right now it is mostly beauty products, but I will be sure to add these in!
Drop a comment and let me know your best budget friendly Amazon fashion find OR what you can't wait to get your hands on during Prime Day 2019!
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!
Packing for a Long Weekend at the Beach: What You Seriously Shouldn't Forget But Might... So Read This
With Fourth of July weekend right around the corner, I have been getting ready for our upcoming beach trip. Matt and I are headed to Ocean City, MD with a few friends to enjoy the Fourth on the beach. Every year we always try to do at least one beach vacation and most years we end up in North Carolina or Florida. I honestly can't remember the last time I went to Ocean City in the summer, which is crazy because it is only a little over two hours away from Baltimore!
I'm working in the office right up until we leave this week so I spent the weekend pulling together items from my packing list so I'll be ready to hit the road as soon as work lets out for the holiday. My packing lists are NO JOKE. They are very detailed and live in an organized little notebook AND the notepad on my phone just in case one gets lost. Usually I'm flying to my destination so my packing essentials have to be paired down a bit. When it comes to beach trips, the more things you can bring with you the better. As I made my packing list I highlighted a few items that are crucial to bring but may slip your mind. I know this from experience......
The first thing is a BEACH UMBRELLA. Beach umbrellas are so key for protecting your skin from the sun and allowing you to enjoy being outside for as long as possible. I feel as though people are always so excited to get out and basque in the sun that they forget after 20 minutes it can get seriously hot. And amp up your risk for sunburn. I am a big fun of napping under an umbrella with a nice ocean breeze coming my way. If you are trying to read at the beach this is also key because you can have more control of the sun situation and not be squinting all day. Note cute and bad for the face wrinkles.
What about if it rains... BOARD GAMES, duh. I am always a fan of bringing board games on vacation. When you have a group of people together its nice to interact instead of sitting on your phones or watching a movie. Games are a really fun option to keep the group engaged without being glued to technology. I mean, you're on vacation, come on. Some of our personal favorites are Code Names, Scategories, and Life.
Staying hydrated is also critical for making sure your time at the beach stays fun and relaxing. I always recommend bringing your own INSULATED CUPS to fill up for a long day at the beach. They are way better than traditional plastic water bottles for keeping your water ice cold all day. Depending on where you are staying, they may not have these kinds of travel cups provided for you, so to be safe I always bring my own. This is my tried and true from Amazon that I am in love with.
When laying on the beach I am always trying to hydrate as much as possible. Sometimes this proves difficult when summer water aka rose is my ocean side beverage of choice. While I'm sipping my seasonal favorite, I pop some DripDrop ORS in my big water cup and sip away. It is so easy to get dehydrated when you are outside in the heat and enjoying some cocktails. I always pack pouches of DripDrop in our cooler or lunchbox, that's my little secret trick. It helps to rehydrate you very quickly so you can get back to enjoying your day at the beach and even prevents dehydration from occurring in the first place.
Next up are PAPER PRODUCTS. Just like with the insulated cup situation, you never know what you are walking into when staying at a hotel or beach rental. I always like to pack some paper products to keep cleanup easy and to prevent too much use of a host's nice dinnerware. Usually I will get a cute theme that goes with our trip and get coordinated napkins and straws as well. This adds some fun decor and prevents fights about who is doing the dishes on vacation. I DO get the recyclable options when I can so while this tip may be frowned upon, I have to speak the truth!
Then there is the potentially most needed and forgotten....ALOE LOTION. We've all come in from the beach just to realize we got a little more red than we had hoped. It is such a bad feeling when you get sunburnt on day one and are uncomfortable for the rest of the trip. I am vigilant when it comes to sunscreen but my husband, not so much. Even if you avoid the sun, packing some aloe products that you can share can save you from having to hear complaints the rest of the week. I definitely know this one from experience.....
Of course I've packed some other, totally extra items like I always do. Personalized wine tumblers, Fourth of July themed bathing suits, stars and stripes paper straws, just to name a few.... Target and Amazon are my go to's for low priced, cheeky items that add some themed fun to a trip.
Drop in the comments any links to Amazon products I can Prime in time for my trip on Wednesday! I'm always open to adding to my list, so give me some recommendations that you all love! Also, let me know, how are you spending your Fourth of July weekend, road tripping to the beach or grilling out at home?
I freaking love beauty. Not in a vain way, but the beauty industry. The science, technique, and marketing behind the products and services that make us feel our best. I have always loved the beauty industry for as long as I can remember. From watching America’s Next Top Model in high school calculating how many hours I’d have to work at the local pizza place to afford hair extensions, to graduating from hair school, to working in makeup sales for years. I have lived and breathed that space for a long time. Now I consider beauty my hobby. It truly brings me joy to try a new face mask or to let my hairstylist experiment with a new coloring technique on me. I love how the industry fuses together innovation with art. I can nerd out over this for hours.
Anyway, throughout my teenage and adult life, I have spent a LOT of money on beauty products and services. A lot of these expenses are for the pure sake of trying new things and reporting back. Even before I had a blog, I took so much pride in being the person who could recommend the best new foundation or could share details about an upcoming haircare launch. Seriously guys, that stuff gets me so pumped. Some girls collect shoes, I collect beauty knowledge and experience. I will always have my hair colored, my nails done, and an Ulta haul waiting to hit my bank account. Honestly, that’s who I am and I am self aware enough to accept it. But I am also fiscally aware enough to have picked up some tips throughout the years that allow me to indulge in my beauty routines without breaking the bank. Some are product swaps that work wonders and others are service hacks to get the most bang (and longevity) for your buck.
People think I spend a whole lot more on beauty upkeep than I actually do. I am certainly bougie, but I am bougie on a budget. I know when to invest, when to save, and when to modify your routine for budget’s sake. In the coming weeks I will run through everything from hair to nails to skin to lashes, and let you know what is worth the money, what you can save on, and some great budget friendly solutions, I’m starting with hair tips because honestly, these took me a while to figure out and are some of the best cost saving tips I’ve found.
Getting your hair done is EXPENSIVE. And for good reason. It’s complicated. It’s an art. It’s a science. It takes time. And NO you cannot get the same results at home. Especially if you are a blonde. Being blonde is fun, but expensive. Even if you are naturally blonde, achieving that specific tone and depth you want can really add up. I’ll first say here, hair is something I will ALWAYS spend the money on. If you mess if up trying to do it yourself, trust me, it will cost at least double the amount to get back to normal. Color corrections are no joke. Then add in the potential of damage which you can’t just pay someone to fix. To keep your long thick locks you’ll find yourself investing a couple hundo or more in extensions until it grows back. Just honestly not worth it. What is worth it, is letting the professionals work their magic. Luckily my hairstylist, Lauren, is truly amazing and keeps it really honest as far as price and upkeep. That leads me to my first tip.
Ask what the realistic upkeep for your hair color/style looks like. You need to know if you are going to have to be in the salon chair every six weeks like clockwork, or if you can maintain more of a lax schedule. Here is where you really need to be honest with yourself and with your stylist. If you can’t afford to be visiting so often, let your stylist know and they can help you come up with a look that fits your lifestyle, budget, and gets you where you want to be color wise.
The purposeful root being in style really can be a money saver (YAY!) but if you are like me and want to keep your blond as fresh as you possibly can, here is how you do it.
Between your “full” salon visits (where you get the whole shebang) you can have a few highlights popped in around your face and along your hairline. This runs a whole lot cheaper than a full highlight and gives you the look of the brightness you want, where it matters most. Another option is to opt for a toner. Especially with blondes, sometimes you just need a little adjustment or brightening. Your colorist can get you back to where you were tone wise, usually pretty easily, in a quick (and less expensive) salon visit.
Now you have to continue the hair TLC at home if you want your color to last as long as possible. I personally do this by not washing my hair that much. Dry shampoo is my best friend and so is the Apple Cinder Vinegar Rinse from Dphue. On the days where you probably need to wash your hair but don’t want to give it a full shampoo, this stuff is perfect. You pop it onto your damp roots, massage throughout, let sit, and rinse. It doesn’t have any stripping effects and doesn’t dull your color. It also leaves your hair looking not greasy, but shiny and healthy. This has been a HUGE hack for me that I truly am obsessed with. Think about it. If your toner usually looks amazing for, lets say 10 washes, after you get it done, you can swap the ACV rinse out for at least a third of those and, boom, you’ve prolonged your color by at least a few weeks. To be honest, I was skeptical about if you really could use this to replace a shampoo for a midweek freshen up, but I was so pleasantly surprised. It has gotten me through after workout classes, long weekends, and everything in between.
When you DO have to shampoo at home, you can make sure you are keeping your color vibrant by using a color safe shampoo and conditioner. On top of that, I also like to use a toning shampoo to help keep my blonde the shade I like. Ask your colorist what hue of shampoo they recommend you use to brighten up your specific color. As a blonde, I love purple shampoo and I want it to pack some punch. The Dphue Cool Blonde shampoo and the Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde shampoo are two of my favorites right now. They aren’t super drying like other toning shampoos can be but I still like to use a hair mask on my ends when I am washing. I’ve dropped a few of my favorite hair masks that I use as conditioners below as well.
I’m getting my hair refreshed this weekend so I will have a few quality hours inside the salon. Drop me any questions you have about hair color/care in general, my hair upkeep, or product recommendations and I’ll gladly answer.
What budget friendly beauty breakdown do you want to see next? Nails? Makeup? Lashes? Skincare?
With nice weather (finally) upon us, I have been jumping at any chance to get outside more. Whether its taking the dogs for an extra walk, parking farther back in the parking lot for a few extra seconds outside, or when I’m able to work remote, doing it from my backyard, I have been taking every opportunity I can get. Usually the nice weather means Matt and I trade some gym time for activities that let us enjoy the outdoors. We are lucky enough to have a hiking trail right near our house which is probably our favorite outdoor workout replacement to do together.
Another one of my favorite ways to get active outside are with local studios that host outdoor classes and events. My barre studio has these at least every month or so when the weather is nice. I love it because you mix up the location so instead of working out in the studio you are outside on a restaurant patio or a brewery, something like that. It definitely breaks you from your routine and, not going to lie, it motivates me way more to get up on a Saturday for an early class.
This morning, my mom and I went to a “Crunch & Brunch” event at a restaurant which was right on the water in the harbor. We got to do barre in the fresh air and it was SUCH a beautiful morning. Of course, when you are opting for an outdoor workout, you have to make sure you are prepared with some extra items. Of course if you need a yoga mat or resistance bands, you remember to bring those but, I’ve rounded up the items I always take with me for an outdoor class that may not be a part of your regular gym bag.
1. Sunglasses - These are a must for me! Some people hate working out with sunglasses on but if it is bright out I need them. I want to be focused on the workout I’m doing instead of squinting to see what the instructor is demonstrating. I have specific ones from MVMT that I like for outdoor activities. They are matte and non reflective so I don’t get any extra glares. They also are a little smaller than my usual pairs and sit on my face securely so they don’t fall off mid-downward dog.
2. Hat - Number one, this will protect your scalp from the sun while you are outside. Two, it helps keep your hair out of your face. And three, if you choose to forgo the sunglasses, a hat should do the trick of keeping the sun out of your eyes.
3. Sunscreen - I think this one is pretty self explanatory but no matter what you are doing outside, lather on that SPF. My favorite are the Sun Bum sprays. They are so easy to put on and don’t stain your clothing at all. I have one that sits near my front door for us to spray on before we head out for an activity. It also smells SO good. I also like the face stick from Sun Bum because it’s easy to throw in your gym bag to touch up sensitive areas like your nose and cheeks, or other areas that get extra sweaty.
4. DripDrop - We’ve all been there. You’re in a workout class and you’re like I might throw up or pass out because I am sweating out my whole body weight. You’re dehydrated so you chug water and lay in child’s pose until you feel like you won’t puke all over your mat. I can’t be the only one? RIGHT?! Working out obviously puts your body at a higher risk for dehydration and when you mix that with a workout outside, under the sun, when its 80+ degrees… game over. I highly recommend packing DripDrop ORS packets to bring with you. Usually I drink one on my way to class/during and then if I need to I have another one afterwards. Especially if you are waking up early to go to a class or go on a hike, these are a game changer since your body is already in need of some morning hydration. I always pack some extras too incase there is that poor girl suffering in child’s pose who needs a dehydration savior to help her out.
5. Towel - Usually studios will provide towels so if you are offsite it is a given that if you want one, you’ll bring your own. Even if you don’t usually grab one while you’re in a studio workout, I highly recommend bringing one to an outdoor class. A lot of times these classes can be on cement or other hard surfaces. If you are on your wrists, knees, or forearms a lot this can get painful. It is nice to have a towel that you can roll or fold up for some extra cushion if you need it!
If you are looking for outdoor workouts near you, check Facebook! If you don’t have a studio that you get regular updates from, Facebook events are a great place to see what exciting things local studios are doing near you. You can also find local workout groups, charity runs/walk, and events to bring your kids (or dogs) to, if you want to get active and more involved in the community.
Let me know, what is your favorite kind of outdoor workout?
The incoming of summer sunshine reminded me that I was overdue for my annual dermatology appointment. I made an appointment to be seen this Friday and have a nice skin check up to make sure all is well. I never used to put much thought into skin abnormalities because the chances of it being skin cancer seemed so far fetched to me. This was seriously naive behavior considering both of my grandfathers have a history of skin cancer and in college I was visiting the tanning bed like it was my second home. Bad. Idea.
As I took more of an interest in skincare I realized how horribly I was ruining my skin by baking it in the sun. I started lathering up with SPF instead of tanning oil and called it a healthier lifestyle. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, my awareness of the risks of skin cancer heightened. The more research I did, the more I understood the link between Crohn’s and skin cancer. The immunosuppressants us with Crohn’s are often on, can highly increase the likelihood of skin cancer. While the exact reason for this link is not 100% explained yet, the correlation can’t be ignored.
I started lathering SPF 50 all over my face, neck, and hands on the daily. I started covering up my scalp while on walks with my dogs. And I started spending a whole lot more time under the umbrella while on the beach. The risk of skin cancer is not worth a balmy glow I can easily get from a bronzing lotion. Even if you are not at a high risk for skin cancer, the sun is the most damaging thing to your skin. Is it worth getting prematurely wrinkled? I vote no.
All things in the table here, I am a firm believer in regular dermatology evaluations, especially if you have an autoimmune disease/ are on immunosuppressants. No matter how much you do to protect your skin now, you can never be 100% immune to the dangerous effects of UV rays, and sadly, the damage you have done can contribute to problems you may face now or in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. There have been days I forget my SPF and there are days I’ve spent too much time in the sun in favor of a good time with friends. I’m not saying you can never allow your skin see the light of day because, let’s get real, that’s super unrealistic. What I am saying though, is that you can do your best to 1. protect your skin and 2. do your due diligence with check ups.
Hopefully I’ll be reporting back after my appointment tomorrow with good news of no skin concerns. Until then, I wanted to leave you all with a few kick ass sunscreen recommendations. These are a few of my favorite products that infuse my love of skincare with the responsibility of protecting my skin.
Drop me a comment and let me know your SPF loaded product recommendations. I’m always in for a good new product to try.
Photo by: Madison Short
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about me. I talk about what trips I’m going on, products I’m trying, recipes I’m cooking. But, it has been a while since I’ve pulled back the curtain and given an update on what is going on behind the scenes of social media perception. Honestly, when things are feeling crazy in my life, it is a whole lot easier to keep my content light and airy. It is an escape from having to deal with the hard stuff. The thing is, the reason I started this blog in the first place was to talk about that hard stuff. The outfits, beauty products, vacations, and shopping recommendations are an added plus. Through feedback I’ve gotten, I know it is the hard stuff that makes the most impact and means the most in this community. It is also Mental Health Month so... what better a time than now?
The past two and a half years have been a total whirlwind. I bought a house, I got promoted, I bought a new car, I moved into my house, I got engaged, I got married, I planned another wedding, I had a big wedding, I planned a honeymoon, I went on a honeymoon, I finally feel like I got my health under control. And last fall I freaked the fuck out. It was literally the weekend of our first wedding anniversary I had an anxious meltdown. I had done so much and checked so many things off my list over the past two years, what do I do now? I thought it was just me being affected by the season change and feeling a little more down in the dumps. But, as I continued to have overwhelming anxiety week after week I called my mom because I knew I couldn’t keep being that miserable.
When I talked things through with her, it really made me realize what was going on. For the past two years I had been going, going, going. It had been great. I had been achieving goals and conquering huge life events. I had been in a constant state of planning, working, and productivity. I was at a point where I had so many big things planned, that once they were done, I was lost. I’ve always been someone who need to feel constantly productive and if I can’t be I pretty much lose it and shut down. Don’t worry, I’ve been in therapy for this for a long time. I also love and crave the stability of always knowing what is next and having a plan.
So here I was, coming out of my first blissful year of marriage, not knowing what is next. People were asking me left and right when I was going to have a baby, as if that were the only logical next step in my relationship. Was I a horrible person because I selfishly wanted more time to spend with just my husband? I came out of busting my ass at work only to find I don’t know what my next step is or what I am working towards. I was happy in my house, with my dogs, with my family, with my life. But I felt so, so sad and hopeless. For absolutely no apparent reason. My anxiety was back in full swing and my OCD that I struggled with as a child was back and terrorizing me. This also truly didn’t make sense to me because my Crohn’s was the most under control it has been in years and everyday was no longer a fight. But what do I do when I’m not just fighting to get by? Its like I had no idea how to function in a calm world.
I started up therapy again and I have gotten medication to help with my anxiety and OCD. Its a work in progress to simply be happy with how things are instead of always chasing the next achievement. I am getting there day by day and I’m also being a lot more open with what I’ve been going through. I was reluctant to share how I was feeling before, because I felt ungrateful. If I was sharing how anxious and unhappy I was when I was blessed with so many things in life people would 100% think I was a selfish, crazy, asshole. Turns out, that is not the case and the more I share, the more I realize there are a lot of other women (and men) out there going through the same thing or who have gone through it before. Its like you have an emotional hangover that you can’t get rid of. It can happen after a big life event, after achieving a goal that you’ve been working towards, or coming back from an amazing vacation. I just listened to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast episode with Mark Mason and they were literally talking about exactly this. For those of you who don’t know, Mark is the insanely successful author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. If he feels this emotional hangover and is so wildly successful, that in a weird way, made me feel even more validated in my feelings. The fact that he shared his experience so openly AND wrote his next book about it too, is a testament to his vulnerability and drive to help others. I recommend for everyone to listen to that podcast episode because it may make things click just a little more. It might make you feel like you’re not alone and it is valid what you are feeling. Or maybe this post will do that for you too. Who knows?
I think we all have our own “why’s” behind why we get this dark, heavy feeling. I haven’t figured out my “why” yet because, truthfully, this is always how I’ve been, and it's probably going to take years for me to unravel the root cause. Over the past 5 months, I’ve been working on balancing being happy with the now while still moving forward to whatever “next” is. Its been a test of my patience, self awareness, and mindfulness. While it hasn’t been easy, I feel so much better and more equipped to deal with life in general. My anxiety can still be crippling some days. I might have meltdowns about stupid shit. But, hey, at least I am owning it. I don’t know what is next for my family, my career, or pretty much anything else in life. Do we ever really know? Instead of focusing on the unknown I’ve been focusing on embracing that wild freedom of the universe and appreciating it for what it is.
I know this post got a little deep, but I feel like it needed to happen. I’ve been focusing inward so much the past few months and if you have noticed or not, I felt it would be beneficial to provide some context. As you all know, mental health is something I am very passionate about, whether it is in relation to chronic illnesses or a stand alone battle. It is something that impacts me, my family, my friends, pretty much everyone I know, in some type of way. Whether it be for fear of being judged or other reasons entirely, a lot of us suffer in silence. In today’s world that seems absurd. We are sharing what we have for every meal on Instagram but we aren’t addressing something that has such a large and painful impact in our lives? I hope moving forward we start sharing more about the real shit.
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
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.