Next week kicks off Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week (December 1-7) and I have a few fun things up my sleeve to celebrate and raise awareness. To kick things off, I’m excited to share some details about a live Q&A session being held by Nori Health. If you are an IBD sufferer and haven’t checked out Nori Health yet, first off, definitely do so. They are an awesome online resource to help with managing the physical and emotional impacts of IBD.
Their resident health coach and nutritionist, Lisa Booth, is hosting the webinars next week and focusing on nutrition and pain management while dealing with IBD. Lisa has coached IBD & IBS sufferers for years in her work for Ginger.io, 8fit and now Nori Health. She understands the challenges people with a chronic disease have to deal with, and helps them discover habit changes that promote an optimal quality of life. During Awareness Week, she is trying to make as big of an impact as possible by bringing the community together to answer questions and provide help.
Events that focus on both community and education are always my personal favorites because they provide connection and value. Nori’s focus on providing an optimized life with IBD in all facets, from physical wellness, to mental health, to social life, makes me bought into their mission even more.
I am so much looking forward to the webinar next week and it is totally free to sign up so you can join me. Click here for the sign up link and note the schedule below. Space is limited so if you’re interested, make sure to sign up ASAP!
Monday, December 2nd: Live Webinar “Managing Pain Through Nutrition”
Monday, December 2nd - Friday, December 6th: The online Q&A is open! You can ask your questions online and Lisa will provide answers.
Friday, December 6th: Live Webinar highlighting and answering the top questions received throughout the week.
I hope to chat with you all as we go through next week and continue to celebrate our community of warriors that fight this disease!
I can't believe it is already the week of Thanksgiving! I feel like it just became Fall like two minutes ago and all of a sudden here we are and I'm putting together my list of holiday activities I can't wait to do this year. This week I finally started my holiday shopping and I'm trying to get a head start on deciding what to get everyone on my list so I can find the best deals for Black Friday/Small Business Saturday this weekend. I've already released my first gift guide (For The Girls) and I have a few more in the works. Throughout this week I am also looking forward to sharing some of the deals happening at my favorite places to shop, both locally and online. I wanted to start with Meritage Jewelers, number one because I love them, but number two, I want to give you ladies time before the big shopping weekend. If there are some things you want to strategically send your husband/boyfriend OR if you want to let them know about the deals happening at Meritage this weekend, now you have the chance. They make the whole jewelry buying process super easy and personal (they actually listen to your budget and style preferences!). They also have a full bar with big screen TVs in the back so it might feel kind of natural for your man to hang out here, just saying.
So let's do this.....
This past weekend I got a little sneak peek of the deals Meritage Jewelers are offering for Black Friday/Small Business Saturday, and I am ALL about it. Not only do they have some perks going on, they also have giftable pieces for everyone. I found everything from gifts I could give my friends/sisters to pieces I would put on my wish list for gifts from the hubby. I am loving the chance to partner with a local small business and let more people know about a jeweler that really takes care of you and works with your budget/style.
I’m sharing a few highlights from my recent visits to give you an idea of the options they have. If you like my picks and want to shop them for yourself (or your gift list), just show this post at Meritage this weekend and they will help you find the pieces.
Their selection of stackable bracelets are swoon worthy. Mixing different metals is a trend I love, and with these delicate pieces, you can make a statement everyday. These pair well with everything and are super lightweight.
I am also loving a matching set. They are great for everyday or a special occasion because you can dress them up or dress them down. This geometric gold set is perfect to wear with an off the shoulder dress for a holiday party. And this rose gold/diamond set…. I could basically live in this one.
I love these gold statement pieces, especially the stackable bracelets and gorgeous rings. These are perfect to wear alone or layer up for a bolder look.
My favorite giftable pieces are these diamond stud earrings. This is a gift you truly CANNOT go wrong with. There is no worrying about sizing and or style, they are classic, one size fits all gifts that ares super special. Meritage also offers a lifetime trade in program where as your lifestyle evolves and upgrades, you can upgrade your diamonds too. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
For Black Friday/Small Business Saturday, Meritage is ready to help you find the perfect gift with their impeccable customer service and expertise. They also make they whole shopping experience super enjoyable with the most personable staff (and full bar in the back of the store!). This weekend, to celebrate the kick off of shopping season, they are giving away a free pair of AirPods with any purchase over $1,500.
I can’t wait to see what pieces you are loving and for you to get spoiled (or spoil yourself) this holiday season.
With holiday season basically here, it is time to start making your shopping list for all of the loved ones in your life you are gifting to this year. I always feel like as you get older, the harder it gets to find the perfect gift for your friends and siblings. Once you're at a certain point in life, if you need it, you buy it, so what possibly can I gift you?
I am always a fan of the gift of experiences (a winery tour, a staycation at a local hotel, etc.), but if you are looking for some perfect gifts for you friends to unwrap, I say, focus on adding a little luxury to their life. I like to gift my friends and sisters things that they wouldn't necessarily splurge on for themselves or something that they didn't even know they needed. When they open a gift like one of these, I hope it brings back a little excitement instead of just checking something off of a wish list. I also get weirdly excited when I gift a product/item that I am so obsessed with and know the recipient will be too. I try so many products so I know I'm picking out the best stuff for the people I'm excited to gift to.
Of course, these luxurious/thoughtful/actually affordable gifts are sometimes hard to find, until you know about them... then you know. I've curated a list of my favorite giftable items that range in price from $15-$200, so you have some options on what to spend, or you can mix and match a few to create a perfect bag of goodies.
Barefoot Dreams Blanket
I'm starting with the most expensive item first, but also the most amazing. This was a gift to me from one of my best friends last Christmas (of course inspired by The Skinny Confidential), and it is probably one of the most used and favorited things I've ever gotten. I never imagined a blanket would be worth $180, but, guys... it really is. This is the softest, most durable, coziest blanket you will ever own. It is perfect to gift to a friend who just moved into a new home or really anyone. These come in a range of different colors and they even have a matching baby blanket for the new mamas in your life.
Barefoot Dreams Socks
If you want to go a little more cost friendly, but still gift the ultimate comfort of Barefoot Dreams, these sock are the way to go. They are a perfect little piece of luxury that you can look forward to when you get home from work or throw in your carryon for a long flight. If you are gifting a gift card for a mani/pedi or spa day, these are a great extra to throw in or you can make a little relaxation kit with these, a cute mug, and some mint tea.
Uncommon James Jewelry
You can't go wrong with these beautiful pieces. Uncommon James pieces are always trendy, but accessibly trendy so that you can wear them season after season, therefore, worth investing in. The quality is great and definitely feel a little luxurious. All of the pieces have a super delicate feel and can go with just about any style. This makes them great for gifting!
Gift Boxes from Winc
A good bottle of wine is one of my go to gifts, but I always feel like I'm missing a little something by just giving a bottle. Winc's gift boxes give a little festive extra-ness to your wine gift, which adds some personality and fun when you're opening it. I also love these for friends you have to ship gifts to, since Winc will package and send it directly for you.
Drunk Elephant Skincare
I am obsessed with this skincare and I wish I could gift it to every person I know, because its that freaking good. I love the mini sets that allow you to try a few hero products at a great price point. If you're going for a bigger ticket item, opt for one of their larger kits that contain a fuller range of products. Amazing skincare doesn't always make everyone's budget, especially when you're spending left and right around the holidays, so being able to give the gift of a little self care can feel magical.
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
This stuff Is a game changer. I've talked about it on the blog and my Instagram so many times before so I will spare you some of the details. This lip mask is great for everyday and overnight wear, and is especially crucial in the colder months. At $20 per jar, it can feel like a bit of a splurge for what you think you could use vaseline for. But seriously, that's why you need to gift this stuff. What one of your friends may not buy for herself, she will truly appreciate the benefits of this skincare essential. This is NO vaseline and definitely worth the $20.
Peter Thomas Roth Face Mask Kit
Or really any face mask kit. I love sampler style beauty kits that give you a chance to sample more than one product and indulge a bit. It might just be me, but face masks feel like a universal sign of relaxation so gifting a variety of them is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Capri Blue Candles
The best smelling, most beautiful candles ever. You can never have enough of these and no one is EVER disappointed opening one. They are perfect for basically any lady on your list. I also love that they come in the standard size and the minis which are great to throw in with a gift card or a bottle of wine.
I love these monogramed totes from Marley Lilly. They are cute, cost effective, and super durable ( I know because I have a few myself). These are great for just about anyone of your list, but super special for the newly engaged or married ladies. There is nothing like seeing your new monogram as a bride to be! Marley Lilly also always has really great deals so you can spoil your friends without breaking the bank.
A Subscription Box
A subscription box if the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. FabFitFun is one of my favorites because it incorporates a mixture of wellness, home, fashion, and beauty products that will definitely appeal to most tastes. If you gift a year long subscription (under $200), the recipient also has the option to customize their boxes each quarter. I love this idea because it makes you feel like you are getting a special gift four times a year and you get to choose why you really want.
So, that's my curated list! What lovely ladies are on your gifting? Is there anything you are SO excited to give this year?! Drop a comment and let me know.
Also, make sure to check back and follow along on Instagram for my other upcoming gift guides and gift recommendations. You can also check out my Spoonie Gift Guide from last year!
Today is Remicade day which means this morning I was packing my bag and getting my comfy clothes ready for a day at the doctor’s office. I’ve said this before in posts that I try and make Remicade day suck less by making sure I have everything on hand to relax a little and feel as comfortable as possible. If I am going to be stuck in an infusion chair all day, I must be prepared.
If this isn’t your first Remicade rodeo, you probably already know this whole scoop on what you need to bring with you, but if you are just starting out on your infusion journey, take notes! The first time I showed up for my infusion I was in my work clothes with my iPhone on low battery. ROOKIE FREAKING MOVE YALL.
First I start off with what I am wearing. I always go super comfy, even if I am coming straight from work, I bring a change of clothes. I usually go for leggings or a cute pair of sweatpants on the bottom with some layers on top. I always have some type of thin material shirt or tank top with a sweatshirt or sweater over top. Usually the office is pretty cold so I love being able to snuggle up in an oversized sweater. There have been times though where blood draws or IVs have gone amuck and I’ve been stripping down in a sweat trying not to pass out, hence where the cool layer comes from. I like to rock a fuzzy sock situation when it is cold, or Ugg slippers/Ugg boots. Heaven.
I am pretty much always working while I get my infusions since my infusion days are Fridays. I make sure to bring my fully charged laptop (+ charger just in case) along with a fully charged phone. Obviously these are critical for me being able to actually do my job, but if you are lucky enough to not have to clock hours during your infusion, some key items are necessary too. I highly recommend bringing a device to watch Netflix or a read a book on. I am also a huge fan of Podcasts and Audible, so I usually listen to something while I am working. Hearing the medical beeps going off for a few hours isn’t super fun so having something else to listen to/focus on is comforting.
For listening to whatever content you choose I highly recommend AirPods. I never understood how amazing these things were until my husband got them for me for my birthday. I love that I they are wireless because you’re already hooked up to so many cords, why do we need another? I also love that I can super easily take calls from the infusion chair. AirPods have awesome sound quality not just for the user, but somehow they basically block out the background noise for whoever is on the other end of the line. I always get super self conscious when I am working from the doctor’s office because a lot of my job is taking calls. I don’t want to have to explain to whoever I am talking to why I am working while hooked up to an IV. Just not a necessary part of doing business. So that explains why I feel AirPods are so crucial.
Let’s stop here to give a big reminder to ALWAYS BRING YOUR CHARGERS. I said it before, and I will say it again.
Next thing I have got to have in my bag is DripDrop ORS for quite a few reasons. Remicade usually means blood work and always means an IV. I used to be notorious for having shriveled up, hard to tackle veins. Turns out, being dehydrated was making it worse. Well I was dehydrated because by time it was Remicade time my symptoms were flaring and, well, you know the story. Now I make an effort to handle my dehydration with DripDrop ORS the morning off and during my treatment to keep myself hydrated. It is also miserable feeling sick and dehydrated while getting an infusion. Believe me, I’ve been there before, on the brink of passing out, trying to hydrate and get your blood sugar together with an old can of ginger ale. By sipping on a big waffles vigor of DripDrop ORS, I am making sure to keep everything stable inside, so all I have to focus on is getting my infusion and getting home to rest.
To continue on the whole keeping your insides feeling good and your blood sugar normal thing, I always pack a snack. Whether I eat it or not, it is always good to have a protein packed snack on hand in case you get shaky or lightheaded. I’ve also experienced complications and delays which have kept me at the doctor’s office a lot longer than I originally expected. This means that meal times can be messed up and you can’t exactly run to the local deli with an IV in your arm. I usually opt for Bhu Keto bars, almonds, or cheese sticks to throw in my bag and snack on. These also are not obnoxious things to eat in public so I’m not disturbing my other infusion center mates.
Hopefully if you are new to infusions this will help you prep better and if you’re a vet maybe you’ll be able to add a couple of my tips to your usual list.
What do you bring for a long doctor’s visit?
This post is about something I am super uncomfy talking about. I want to put it out there and get more comfortable because whenever I’ve shared things with this community it has lead me to more connection with other amazing ladies, often going through something similar. I mentioned this briefly in a previous post, that I took the leap and started talking to my doctors about fertility. Matt has wanted a baby since the moment we were legally married (and honestly before that) and I have been the master of excuses to push it off. Through a bit of self discovery I came to terms with the fact that I was actually truly terrified to be a mom. I had spent so much time focusing on just trying to get things stabilized to get through life, that it seemed such a distant possibility that me, myself, my body, could handle actually bringing a life into this world and then taking care of that life. To be honest, as soon as Matt and I started seriously talking about the potential of becoming parents, it triggered my anxiety to an ALL TIME HIGH. It is like every insecurity I ever felt about my body physically or emotionally bubbled to the surface, trying to convince myself that I would be a horrible mom and I was not qualified in any possible way.
I’ve been working through this for the past few months. As both a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, the thought of having a little being that I am responsible for and could potentially totally mess up feels absolutely terrifying. I mean, I am already crazy about caring for my dogs, how will we throw a baby human into this mix? Everyone keeps telling me, “You’ll figure it out”. And, yeah, I know we will. I’m resourceful and have basically played the figure it out game most of my adult life. What worries me is my body being on the same page as my brain.
As much as I know that rationally this thought is not healthy, I feel like it is my responsibility to bring children into the world for our family. I haven’t gotten this pressure from anyone else, but my own feeling guilty brain. No matter how many 'green lights' I get, somehow I still feel self conscious that something is wrong with me. Ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I have been told that pregnancy was going to be harder for me. I was also threatened with that when I was 18 years old suffering from an eating disorder. I will never forget hearing “If you keep doing this to yourself, you’ll never get pregnant and you’ll never have babies”. I get that those telling me that were worried about me and trying to scare me into ‘getting better’. Now it rings in my head every time I visit the Obgyn or see a baby in the grocery store.
I’m scared of ‘failing’ my family because my body isn’t ‘good enough’. The thing is, if a friend were to spill this situation to me, I’d tell them this way of thinking is totally irrational and they are being so incredibly mean to their beautiful body and hard on themselves. But when the dialogue is directed at yourself, somehow things always are narrated a bit differently, huh?
How do you get past the fear of ‘failure’? How do you believe in your body when you feel like it is out of your control? How can you trust this body to bring the most precious gift into the world when it is hard to trust it to make it through the work week.
I’ve been working on positive self affirmations. I’ve been living by the mantra, “You are doing the best you can”. I’ve been making lists of all of the amazing things my body can do. And I’ve been praying to the universe. It’s hard to share these fears with those close to you, because they are all so hopeful and they are the people you don’t want to let down. I’ve been following along with the journeys of strong, inspiring, and truly amazing women on Instagram. Some of them I have the pleasure of knowing and some of them, just strangers, who are brave enough to share their stories with those who need to hear it. I know that my story has barely begun and it might sound crazy to those who have been through so much that I am so initially paralyzed by fear. But this is how it is, and I’m working to be okay each day with just doing the best my body and mind possibly can.
Got a little real on this one, and I hope to feel inclined to continue to do so. Please drop me a message if you are a fellow spoonie, member of the chronic illness community, or struggling in a similar situation. Let’s stand by each other.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
Time to talk about one of my favorite things! Disney dining! After sharing what I was eating throughout or last trip, I received a few requests to share more about the gluten free options at Disney World. I shared a roundup of my favorite gluten free options from the Food & Wine Festival on my story highlight, here. I also shared some of our favorite hidden gem destinations, some of which a food related, here. I wanted to put together a guide that is specifically around gluten free food options that you can get no matter when you are visiting the parks. All of these places I have eaten at an received awesome service and equally as great food.
If you’ve been to Disney World before and have a good allergy, you know the lengths they go to in order to make sure your food is prepared correctly. If you haven’t been, here is a quick rundown on their precautions.
Disney always goes above and beyond to provide top notch customer service, and their allergy friendly dining is no different. I hope you like my round up based on my great gluten free dining experiences! Of course, there are other places I love as well, these just happen to be the ones that created truly magnificent experiences for me.
Jungle Skipper Canteen - Magic Kingdom
Jungle Skipper Canteen is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for gluten free options that are so good, they’re actually served on the main menu. There are plenty of dishes that are gluten friendly, but I do have two favorites that I highly recommend. For a starter, the cheesy bread is a must. It’s technical a special they have so you won’t necessarily see if on the menu but definitely ask for it. This bread is naturally gluten free and served with a parmesan and chimichurri spread that I could eat by the spoon. For an entree, I 100% recommend the fried chicken, aka the “‘Tastes Like Chicken’ because it is!”. It is coated in a gluten free tempura batter, so you get all the crunch without the gluten.
Kona Cafe -Polynesian Resort
I love the food at Kona Cafe and it’s a staple for Matt and me on our Disney trips. They have great gluten free sushi and entree options, but the reason this made this list is because of their gluten free bread. The first time I had it I spit it out and asked our server if it was actually gluten free because it tasted so good I swore it wasn’t. Well, it was, and now I can’t get enough. They serve these warm, really fluffy rolls that have a bit of sweetness to them, think like Hawaiian rolls but gluten free. I’ve been trying to find a comparable kind at home with no such success, so it looks like they will stay my Disney treat.
Boma- Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma is an African food buffet located in the Animal King Lodge. Not only is the environment incredibly cool and the food is delicious and plentiful, but there are also a ton of gluten free options. I’ve been for both breakfast and dinner, both of which were great experiences. Since it’s a buffet, they provide gluten free guests with a pamphlet complete with charts that note specific allergens in each item. This makes it really easy to navigate the food choices and the options are really extensive. For breakfast, they brought me gluten free donuts and waffles and at dinner they brought gluten free bread and gluten free desserts for me to enjoy!
Tony's Town Square- Animal Kingdom
You can read about my love for Tony’s Town Square, here, and, spoiler alert, a lot of it has to do with the gluten free options. It’s not everyday you can get a good gluten free pasta, but here you can. They have some good entree options, my personal favorite being the shrimp scampi. I also love that they provide separately packaged gluten free rolls to dip in the olive oil and herbs at the table. It’s so nice to be able to participate in this Italian restaurant ritual and I sometimes even take one of the prepackaged rolls for a snack later.
50's Prime Time Cafe - Hollywood Studios
The 50s Prime Time Cafe is a destination for the experience itself, but also a stellar option for gluten free folks looking for some classic comfort food. The gluten free pot pie is a personal favorite and reminds me of family dinners as a kid. The fact that they could make a classic home style dish gluten free and still taste so good seriously surprised me. Matt was making jokes about wanted the extra gluten I couldn’t eat on his meal. Well, in typical in character cast member action they brought out his Caesar salad with croutons overflowing over the side of his bowl. I couldn’t stop laughing at his ‘extra gluten’ special.
Be Our Guest - Magic Kingdom
I’ve been here for breakfast and lunch, neither disappointed! It can be challenging to get a recommendation at this popular spot in Magic Kingdom so I suggest booking early. If you don’t score that reservation though, don’t freak, checking a few days before or even the day of for cancelations can be your ticket in! The gluten free appeal at Be Our Guest is their ability to make almost any sandwich (for breakfast or lunch) gluten free with bread that still tastes great. The portions for the regular sandwiches are pretty big and they keep it consistent with the gluten free options. You actually get two sandwiches which is crazy! Not going to lie, I usually bring a plastic bag and take one to go. For breakfast they also provide gluten free breakfast breads to enjoy.
Nomad Lounge - Animal Kingdom
You can read my whole obsession with Nomad Lounge here, but for now I’ll kept it focused on the gluten free options. They are so accommodating and can make almost everything on their menu gluten free. The menu is already a limited (but delicious) one so this is definitely a good thing. My favorites for a savory snack are the chicken satay skewers and the ribs. Both pack a ton of flavor into a little dish and are the perfect size to share with your park buddy. The real showstopper here are the churros. They’re gluten free and taste like heaven in your mouth. They are a perfect consistency and not dense at all like most gluten free desserts. They also come with dipping sauces to sample which, no pun intended, are the icing on the cake.
Let me know if you try any of these recommendations and why you end up getting!
Okay, not all of us have the disposable income to be able to have every designer piece we are coveting in our possession. I certainly don't. That doesn't mean that I don't want to wear these styles or participate in the trends that high fashion is pumping out. That is where dupes come in.
I know some people are against dupes, which is fine, do your thing. I do want to go on the record here and say I appreciate the design/style/craftsmanship of the designers creating the original designs for these products. I rely on dupes for trendy, of the moment pieces that I am not going to invest a ton of money to wear for one or two seasons. I don't need the quality of a LV bag that is going to last me a decade if I am buying a style that I'll be over by next year. For the pieces I need, I will invest and I do invest in these brands that I love. To each their own, just wanted to share my philosophy.
Amazon is my GO TO SPOT for the best dupes for trendy pieces. I love these options for accessories and especially for traveling. Even if you do own the 'real thing' packing these lower cost alternatives can reduce the stress of lost or damaged items in your luggage. Also, with sunglasses for example, I am not going to bring $200 sunglasses on a boat excursion and most likely lose them. But $15 Gucci dupes? You bet. See, it is all about the convenience, the savings, and making these styles accessible.
Here are some of my favorites at the moment that have made it into constant rotation in my wardrobe.
So, I know I mentioned sunglasses and I am a firm believer in purchasing some cheaper shades for adventures.
These are two that I purchased a bit before my most recent trip to Florida and I love them. Both are under $20, and so far have held up nicely. Also looked very cute in my opinion.
These headbands are another favorite purchase. They're Gucci dupes and I CAN'T GET ENOUGH. I know I've posted about them like 10 times so far, but it's because I love them that much. They are also under $10 so you can ride out the headband trend while staying under budget.
Shirts are something I just recently started getting from Amazon and I am very confused at why I didn't do this sooner. If you are looking for something super high quality that is going to become a heavily worn and heavily washed piece -- don't go for these. But, if you are looking for a blouse to go with a specific outfit or for a certain look for an event or something. Definitely recommend. A personal fave right here...
The Gucci belt. The Gucci belt that every fashion blogger in the universe seems to have. #blessed, I got a real one as a birthday gift from my mother in law, but before I was making it work with Amazon finds. Anna from Lifestyle By Anna Elizabeth got me hooked on this one I am wearing here.
Unfortunately, that specific one isn't available anymore, but there are some other great ones like it. Even if you have the authentic Gucci belt in a basic color, you can always grab a dupe in a more exotic pattern or print as well. You won't wear it as much as a basic style, so the quality doesn't matter as much.
Last, let's talk bags. Specifically bags that you really want to be cute, but won't use as much as your everyday tote. Aka for me right now, backpacks and fanny packs. I ordered this LV dupe backpack for my trip to Disney last month, hoping it would be decent quality to tote around for a few days. It actually turned out being pretty good quality and I plan on using it to travel with in the future. The one I've linked below isn't the same exact one (that one is no longer available), but it is very similar. I love that it has multiple pockets, easy to use zippers, and if it gets dirty I don't really care because it is under $25.
Fanny packs are also the it thing these days but with no doubt will be out in a few seasons then back again when our future children are 20. Fashion is cyclical baby. Guess my semester at FIT paid off. I am not going to splurge on a design fanny pack unless I see them as a long term resident in my closet. Truth is, right now I don't. That could change, but for the time being, this one from Amazon will do just fine.
One of my favorite bloggers Anna (Lifestyle by Anna Elizabeth), who I mentioned earlier, just did a giveaway on her Instagram for a super cute LV dupe that I have added to my wish list. She also always has great recommendations for affordable style and is one of my go to's when I am looking for some outfit inspo. If you were into this post, definitely follow along with her as well!
What are your favorite dupes right now? What items are you trying to save on instead of splurging for the real deal?
Is everyone just as ready for the weekend as I am? Because I am SERIOUSLY ready. I need like two days to just sleep. Unfortunately, that isn't on the schedule. Fortunately, I do have access to a lot of coffee to fuel me through my next few days of fun plans.
I wanted to pop on here before the weekend to talk about some of the content I have been sharing on other platforms. I do a lot of my sharing and updates on Instagram, I've been treating it kind of like a microblog these days. I know that not everyone uses Instagram as religiously as I do, or maybe you missed a post, so I want to make sure you all get to see the fun stuff I am putting out there. Every now and then, when I have a few things I want to highlight, I will do a quick post on here about them so you can always be in the loop. I'll also highlight any previous blog posts that might be extra pertinent at the time along with anything else from other platforms I'm feeling that day. Let me know if this is helpful for keeping you up to date with new content all in one place!
So what do we have this week....
If you are looking for some good books to curl up with as the weather gets chillier, I'm here to help. This past week I put together a Fall Reading List, based on the books I loved reading over the past few months. You can check out my Amazon list here!
I also shared the fall decor updates I made to my house for the season. Getting festive! You can see all of those details here and on my 'Home' story highlight.
If you were into my last blog post on hidden gems at Disney World, you will want to check out all of my gluten free sips and bites from the International Food & Wine Festival, here, on my 'Disney' highlight.
Yesterday was Mental Health Awareness Day so I posted a bit about it on my Instagram, here. Mental health is something I address often and I feel sharing can really make a positive impact. If you are in need of a little realness on this topic, check out this blog post and this episode of the Crohnically Blonde Podcast.
If you've been following my adventures on Instagram, you know that we just got home from one of our most frequented vacation destinations, Disney World! I can say that Matt and I a Disney World frequenters. We aren't as consistent visitors as the rest of my family are, but it has made its way onto one of our favorite places. This past trip I shared a lot of details on what we were doing/where we were going on my Instagram stories. While I shared our adventures, I got a lot of questions about the places that we were going that are a bit off the beaten path. I find that usually when I talk to people about going to Disney World they think in terms of rides and attractions only. We are lucky enough to have visited enough times to have the time to appreciate the other little hidden gems that you may not notice on your first or even tenth trip, unless someone points them out to you! I am super excited to share these finds with you. We've had great experiences at these places, which is why they are on our must visit list time and time again. Each of these gems exemplify the detail and magic of Disney in a way that I appreciate so much and hope you will as well! Let's count these down....
Number 5: Dockside Margaritas
First off, I find so many people skip out on Disney Springs during their Disney vacation. In my opinion this is a huge mistake because Disney Springs is full of culinary and shopping experiences that really deliver. I can give a rundown on all of my favorites in another post, but one of my favorite spots to hang out here is Dockside Margaritas. It is located right on the water while also still in the action so you get the best of both worlds. This is one of our go to locations to grab a drink and people watch before dinner reservations. The margarita selection is delicious - their seasonal options are so fun as well - and you really can't beat the view. For couples, like I said, this is a great pre dinner date spot, and for parents this is a great spot to have one parent relax and enjoy a cocktail while the other takes the kids to explore one of the nearby toy stores. Fun fact: this is where Matt and I grabbed bright blue margaritas right before we got engaged.
Number 4: Tony's Town Square - specifically before fireworks
I ride or die for Tony's Town Square in Magic Kingdom. I feel like this place always get forgotten about or hated on by Disney blogs and podcasts and I strongly disagree! Matt and I make it a tradition to eat here during every one of our visits. It is an Italian restaurant right off of Main Street with serious Lady & The Tramp vibes. The food, specifically the gluten free options, are delicious, and they serve decently priced wine by the bottle. If you can get seated out in the sun room portion of the dining room, you can people watch while you enjoy your meal. Personally, those are my favorite seats in the house. If you schedule your meal perfectly, you can be exiting right on cue for the nightly fireworks show over the castle. Since this restaurant is right off of Main Street, once you walk out you are just steps from a perfect viewing location for fireworks, but right near the park exit so you don't have to fight the crowds when the show ends. I highly recommend making a reservation since this place can fill up, especially at opportune times (like right before fireworks). On the other hand, if you aren't picky about timing, this is often one of the restaurants that you can find random openings for a day or two in advance (sometimes even same day!). This is pretty rare for a lot of Disney dining. I chalk it up to park visitors totally underestimating the greatness of this place.
Number Three: Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar
This is an actual hidden gem inside of the Polynesian resort. They are located behind an unassuming inside of a hallway near the outdoor bar. With a quick knock, you are invited inside of a dimly lit, and usually packed room. What this bar lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere and entertainment. The decor is so incredibly detailed, you feel as though you truly stepped into a real, but crazy tiki bar. The decor is something you have to experience for yourself, so I won't ruin the surprise. What I will say is the tiki gods have an impact on the atmosphere, shining light on certain aspects, creating abrupt weather changes, and triggering volcano eruptions. When it comes to drinks, they have some killer tropical cocktails that you can also get in non-alcoholic form, which is a nice touch! They also have a variety of appetizer you can munch on as well, so if you aren't in the mood for a drink there are plenty of other reasons to come check it out. Make sure to keep an eye on other patrons as they order the signature cocktails, the tiki gods can really shake things up depending on what they ask for. Overall, we love this place because just being there is such a good time. We love looking at the detailed decor and interacting with the spirited and rowdy staff.
A few tips to make sure you have the best experience possible : Trader Sam's opens at 4pm most days so make sure to be there right there on the dot to get your name on the waiting list. The space and seating are limited so it can fill up quickly. Due to the limited space, a lot of the seating areas are communal which lends itself to great conversation and meeting other guests around you.
Number Two: Animal Kingdom Lodge
I could do a whole post just about why I love Animal Kingdom Lodge so much. To give you the summary, basically the attention and execution on detailed elements will set this resort apart from anywhere else you have ever stayed. I haven't had the pleasure of staying on property at the Animal Kingdom Lodge yet, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying its various restaurants, bars, and hang out spots. The back of the main lobby opens up onto a savanna, full of native African animals, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated. You can stroll the grounds while enjoying your morning coffee and viewing, you know, giraffes. On a nice day, one my favorite things to do is grab a book, find an open rocking chair on one of the public decks, and relax. The environment is so incredibly magical and peaceful. I actually have to set an alarm because I will get lost in my book and the beauty of the surroundings. This is also a great pre dinner ritual if you have reservations at one of the restaurants on site, which are stellar dining options as well.
Number One: Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom
I could hang out here ALL DAY. Truly all day, I would if I could. I only just recently discovered this lounge, thanks to my family who has made this a regular hangout for them. It's easy to miss as you are walking through Animal Kingdom, but once you discover it, you won't ever want to relax anywhere else. This low key bar is designed all around celebrating the love of traveling. The indoor space is cozy, and features decor with travel quotes and conversation starters beautifully sprawled across the ceiling. The outdoor area has luxurious sofas to lounge on, a view of the lush green landscape, and to complete the luxe effect, draped curtains on the open air windows. The vibe here is so relaxed and the servers/bartenders are incredibly pleasant to interact with. The drink menu is pretty extensive in my opinion, ranging from regionally themed cocktails, to a nice selection of beers and wines. Non-alcoholic cocktails are also offered here, if you are looking to try the concoctions without the booze. If drinks aren't on your wish list, you are still in the right place because, beyond the atmosphere, the food is equally as amazing. Almost all of their small plates can be prepared gluten free and they even have gluten free churros which I wish I could eat everyday for the rest of my life. Seriously.
These are just a few of our favorite gems in Disney, but I know there are a ton more to explore and discover. That is part of the fun of going to Disney again and again, stumbling upon new magical experiences that you didn't even know you needed. We always love new suggestions on where to go so please share your favorites below! Also, make sure to let me know if you end up visiting any of our favorite hidden gems! I'd love to hear about your experiences! Magical travels.
We touched down back in Baltimore today from our week look vacation. As much as I didn’t want to come back to real life, I am happy to be reunited with my pups and sleep in my own bed. The day we get back from trips is always full of trying to get us set back up for the rest of the week. Unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, trying to make the transition back to the daily grind as easy as possible. My to do list isn’t just full of chores though. I also make sure to take some time to reset my body after being on a different schedule (and potentially being jet lagged). I also prepare for my week and get organized so the 'back to real life' anxiety is kept to a minimum.
Rehydrating is priority numero uno. Usually while I’m unpacking I put on a hydrating face mask to combat any dryness from being on the plane. This past trip I tried this new face mask from Summer Friday’s call Jet Lag, so fitting right? I've also been liking the Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm to help any dry or sunburnt lips.
I also make sure to rehydrate my insides too. This is probably the most important part of my reset routine. If I don't rehydrated properly after traveling I feel pretty miserable and that on top of a post vacation slump is not fun. I usually carry DripDrop ORS on the plane with me so I drink one packet on the flight and another once I get home. On top of the usual dehydration from flying/ traveling I pretty much always have some type of Crohn’s symptoms when I’m away and out of my normal eating routine. This always requires a little extra dehydration relief to make sure I’m feeling good once I’m back to business. I notice, too, that the more dehydrated I am the more my skin will freak out from climate changes between destinations. I think of dehydration relief as the ultimate way to reset my body and make sure I am fueled and balanced to get back to the grind. DripDrop ORS also helps to pack in some extra vitamins that can help prevent getting sick from the nasty germs you can pick up on the plane. Win, win situation overall.
Whether I traveled through different time zones, jet lagged or not, I like to keep my nighttime routine consistent and calming. I make a cup of mint tea with some CBD oil to help me sleep and enjoy this while reading. I always feel the anxiety build in me as the clock creeps closer to having to go back to work. I try and limit this anxiety by trying to stay as relaxed from my trip as possible as long as I can. By getting a good night sleep, I’m more physically and emotionally equipped to handle playing catch up at work when I am back in the office.
The last thing I do, is block out an hour of the day to read critical emails and map out the rest of my week. It’s easy to wait until the morning you return back to the office to catch up, but to me that feels dreadful and chaotic. By feeling prepared and organized for the week of ‘real life’ ahead, my anxiety is lessened and I know what to expect. I make sure to plan my meals and time to move (walk, at home workout, gym) so I can get back into my routine as quickly as possible.
Right now I’m snuggled up on our sofa with our pups, catching up on our shows, and feeling as ready as I can be for the week ahead. What do you do to get back into your routine after a trip?
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.