Matt and I love traveling together. Being on vacation or on a trip where we are removed from the stresses of everyday life and we just focus on things we love doing and each other is the ideal situation. You find out so much about a person when you travel with them and if traveling is something you want to do as a couple, you have to make sure your travel styles vibe well. Luckily, Matt and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to jet setting so it quickly became something we loved to do as a couple and will continue to do (hopefully more often as long as the money and puppy sitters are there).
When we were making the decision on where to go for our honeymoon we definitely had some back and forth before we came to the final decision. My heart was set on Europe from the beginning because it had been years since I had been abroad and Matt had never been. Matt was pretty open to my suggestion but somehow the idea morphed into him going to see soccer games overseas which was NOT how I envisioned our honeymoon going. I mean that would be a great trip, just not for our honeymoon. I imagined my college days, gallivanting around Europe, without a care in the world, going from city to city while running off of practically no sleep. Back then, it was thrilling and made me feel spontaneous but now, just thinking of living like that gives me a stomach ulcer.
I am not “go with the flow”, I like everything planned, and I knew that as ridiculous as it sounded, in order to relax I would have to plan the shit out of a Euro trip before we went. Usually I would have jumped at the opportunity but when you are planning a wedding, hustling at your 9-5, blogging on the side, and trying to keep your health in check, the LAST thing you want is another thing to plan. Now I do have to give Matt credit, for as non planning as he is, he did offer to help but me being the extremely particular psycho that I am I insisted I was going to do this myself. I felt bad because I wanted us to have an amazing honeymoon but I didn’t have the time to plan something, especially on a budget, but at the same time I wanted it to be super specifically everything I ever wanted.
As Lauryn Evarts would say, “I don’t ask for much”.
Our friends had done a European cruise the year before and absolutely loved it. They were able to visit multiple locations and seemed to have remained relatively stress free throughout the whole thing, planning included. I had been on cruises my whole life growing up for our family vacations (including a European one) and Matt and I went on a cruise together a few years ago. It seemed like a perfect solution. And it was. Here’s why:
You get to experience a bunch of different places.
If we were going to pay for the flight and invest the time into going abroad we wanted to make sure we were seeing more than just one destination. Cruises give you that option! My first experience abroad was on a European cruise and I love that it gave me a little taste of so many different places. From that experience I was able to decide what my favorite cities were and make plans to visit again. With this being Matt’s first time abroad I wanted him to have a similar experience and be able to take in the beauty of the different culture, history, and architecture of a few locations.
Everything is taken care of.
Once you board a cruise you have to worry about absolutely nothing. You don’t have to worry about getting from city to city with all of your luggage, you don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat dinner, you don’t have to plan your days in port because the excursion has already taken care of that. Take it from the most anxious person ever, if I say you have nothing to worry about, you really don’t.
Upfront cost/ easy to budget.
This one is a huge relief especially when you are trying to plan and budget for a wedding at the same time. Before we even left for our cruise we had paid for our flights, the cruise itself, our excursions, and gratuity. This way there were no surprises and we could start paying these things months before we actually went on the trip. The only additional expenses were extra meals we had while in different ports and alcohol on the ship. With that it was super easy to track our expenses though so we didn’t have any colossally terrifying credit card bills to return home to.
We choose to do the 7 Day Adriatic Cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line. It was cost effective but still really nice which was important to us. We weren’t going to be spending a ton of time on the ship because we were visiting so many ports but I am a stickler for good food and service so we were not going to compromise on that.
Our itinerary was:
Sunday: Venice, Italy (EMBARK) --- Cruise leaves at 5:30 pm
Monday: Kotor, Montenegro --- 2:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tuesday: Corfu, Greece --- 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday: Santorini, Greece --- 2:00 pm-10:00 pm
Thursday: Mykonos, Greece --- 8:00 am-4:00 pm
Friday: At Sea
Saturday: Dubrovnik, Croatia --- 7:00 am-1:00 pm
Sunday: Venice, Italy (DISEMBARK)
We choose this cruise specifically because I was dead set on going to Santorini and we both really wanted to do the Game of Thrones tour in Croatia. This itinerary gave us the option to do both and also stop in Mykonos which was another destination I had wanted to check out.
We left out of Venice, Italy and neither of us had ever been there before so we were super pumped about this and wanted to get there a few days early so we had some time to explore. I also ALWAYS recommend getting to the port city early if possible just in case of any delays, missed flights/connections, or any other SOS moments. It also starts your vacation off a whole lot smoother when you aren’t stressed because you are down to the wire on your schedule.
We booked our flights so that we would fly overnight on a Thursday and arrive in Venice on Friday morning. That would give us half of Friday, all day Saturday, and half of Sunday to explore before we boarded the ship. The question here was, where were we going to stay? At this point we had invested the majority of our budget into the flights and the actual cruise so we were not going to be staying at any fancy hotels on the water. I looked. They were amazing. I tried to justify it. But I couldn’t. Instead we opted for an Airbnb that cost us about $120 or so per night. As much as I am a fancy hotel lover, I also really love staying in an Airbnb, especially in a new city. I feel like it really gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and what it would actually be like to live there.
Our small apartment was perfect for our stay. We had a full bed, a kitchenette, our own bathroom, and, thankfully, air conditioning. My favorite part is that we were tucked away from the street in a building that opened up to a private courtyard where we relaxed and enjoyed wine before we headed out for dinners. Our Airbnb host was so friendly and extremely helpful. She met us at the water bus station and walked us to our apartment. Since there are no real streets in Venice, things can get a bit confusing so we were thrilled she was there to help. We weren’t in a super touristy area so we had the chance to try out cafes that weren’t flooded with tourists and explore the residential areas that surrounded us. We stopped at the fancy hotels I mentioned before to grab a cocktail on their terraces and enjoy the views and then strolled back to our cozy home away from home. I absolutely loved it. AND it was way more budget friendly than the alternative.
TIP: We actually were able to cover the Airbnb expense with the points from my Capital One Venture Card. I got this card about two years ago to use for all of my business expenses. This means that I can pay that off every month with the money my company reimburses me with while racking up points to use to my next vacation. The thing I love about this card is you can use your points toward any travel expense, not just flights. That means pretty much anything from hotels down to your Uber. You also get a substantial point bonus if you spend a certain amount within your first three months of having the card. I can’t remember the exact amounts from when I signed up but we were able to use that bonus to put a serious dent into our flights to and from Hawaii back in 2016.
Speaking of flights…..
Flights are always the budget buster and there isn’t really a solid way to get around that. Of course if you are spontaneous and can randomly book a trip somewhere you can take advantage of those flash deals on flights and things of that nature but when you are traveling at very specific times, your options are limited. A trick that we used for this trip and our trip to Hawaii was piecing together one way flights that were more cost effective instead of just settling on the roundtrip package. On our way to Hawaii we did a one way flight to LA, hung out for a few days, took another one way flight to Maui, and then booked another one way flight home. It ended up being cheaper than the alternative and allowed us to break up our travel time. On this trip we searched surrounding cities for cheaper flights going abroad. Luckily, living in Baltimore gives us access to flights out of quite a few major cities within only a few hour drive. We found an Aer Lingus flight out of Philly that stopped in Dublin and then flew straight to Venice. Score. For our home flight we booked one from Venice, back through Dublin, and then to Boston, then Baltimore. It worked out really well and saved us a chunk of money that we could then put into other vacation related expenses.
Since we were already paying a decent amount to fly overseas, I wanted us to get the most out of our trip and not sacrifice any potentially great experience because of money. But at the same time I still didn’t want to blow our budget out of the water. We have other trips on the horizon that we need funds for too! We found a pretty good balance where we splurged on some things (like good food and wine) but saved in other areas that didn’t necessarily matter as much to us. Let me give you an example… On the ship they offer specialty dining packages which are really cool but not cheap. They allow you to visit the specialty restaurants that have some amped up décor and service along with a special menu. We did end up doing one night of specialty dining but the rest of the time we ate at the regular restaurants on board which still had great food/service and we had already paid for it in our initial booking price! Instead of spending big on the ship we went to nice dinners in Venice and Santorini where we could get courses of fresh local food and bottles of wine for a fraction of what that would cost on the ship.
The main expense that we accrued while on board the ship was alcoholic beverages. On our previous cruise we purchased the alcoholic beverage package that allowed us pretty much unlimited drinks for the duration of our , all for a flat, prepaid rate. We looked into the packages this time around but the cost seemed too steep for what we thought we would actually be drinking. Plus, we were going to be off of the ship for the majority of the time in ports where wine was cheaper than water. Definitely a better choice than on ship purchases.
At dinner we would split a bottle of wine that complimented our meal. The bottles were pretty decently priced in my opinion and the ones we tried were pretty good! I’m not a super wine snob or anything so I would think for someone with a more elevated taste they may disagree. I am at least moderately picky when it comes to wine though and they had viable options in just about every category. I did splurge on a few glasses of Veuve one night.
What about excursions?
Our excursions were prepaid from when we booked them months ago and some of our wedding guests gifted us excursions through our Wanderable site so that covered a large amount of our activities we had planned. If you are big into traveling I highly recommend registering on Wanderable. The website allows you to create your own page detailing your honeymoon plans and allows your wedding guest to purchase different experiences for you. The whole thing is customizable and you can add anything from excursions, to on board credits, to spa treatments, that your friends can contribute to or purchase in full. I am always into giving an experience instead of a material item so I think it is super cool to be able to actually see the couple you are gifting to, enjoy an adventure you purchased for them.
Even in Venice, where we obviously didn’t have any excursions, we didn’t spend a ton of money on activities. Everything is walkable to the transportation costs were very low. When we did need a boat or a car to get somewhere, we relied on public transportation which is very affordable. In Venice we did splurge on one activity which was a total MUST while we were there. A gondola ride. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and it actually felt unreal. It was 100% worth the 100 euro we dropped and I would certainly do it again next time.
TIP: Before we left for our trip we opened up a Southwest credit card. Now these credit card tips aren’t supposed to make you think it is no big deal or that you should just open a bunch of credit cards. We don’t have a ton of cards and choose wisely based on the points/rewards which cards make sense to open when. We have been planning a trip to Florida in December and we knew that if we signed up for the card, spent money, and got the new sign up bonus points, it would basically cover our plane tickets for our next trip. This trick worked perfectly and by both using just one credit account to put all of our travel purchases on we were able to really track what we were spending and realistically communicate that to others now when they ask.
What’s the verdict?
Matt and I both agree, we are thrilled with our decision to have done a cruise for our honeymoon. Exploring Europe in such a carefree (but preplanned!) way allowed both of us to relax but also experience so many different places in the Mediterranean. Everyone always asks us if we wish we had more time in the ports. “It seems like such a short time!” is the number one concern I hear when other people are considering booking a trip for themselves. Of course we wish we had more time in ports. I would have loved to have spent a week on every Greek island we visited. That being said, I also don’t have months off of work and a trust fund to boot. For the time we had and the budget we had, there is no better way that I think we could have seen these destinations.
Now that Matt is at least a little more familiar with Europe and I am done with wedding planning, our next trip abroad will probably be planned out in my typical OCD fashion. It probably won’t be another cruise again for a little while just because we like to mix things up but I certainly will do a European cruise of some type again.
My overall verdict is that if you want to go to Europe on your honeymoon, you want to see more than just one place, and you want to actually relax, a cruise is 100% the way to go.
Hopefully this article helped to break down how we decided on our trip as well as how we made things as cost effective as possible. I know there were a lot of questions about this topic so if there are areas I didn’t touch on or things I didn’t answer send me a DM or drop it in the comments and I will make sure to address your topic.
Over the next month or so I am working on creating posts highlighting the different destinations we visited along with some tips, tricks, and recommendations from those places. Stay tuned and follow along on Instagram (@crohnicallyblonde) to be the first to know when these posts go live!
When it comes to beauty treatments and tricks, I am always down to try just about anything, especially when it comes to skincare. My husband is still confused at how I have so much space in our home dedicated to storing my various cleansers, face masks, sunscreens… you name it and I probably have it somewhere in my museum of skincare treasures. He has slowly warmed up to my excessive supply as I’ve slathered creams on his face that he admits “make him feel smooth”. You. Are. Welcome.
As you can imagine, the weeks leading up to my wedding I was CRAZY with my routine. Yes, I was getting airbrush makeup (done by my friend/makeup artist who is seriously the best) but good skin is the foundation to a beautiful makeup job. I didn’t always understand the importance of this, it took working in the makeup industry and putting makeup on such a variety of skin types to realize that even the best foundation won’t look perfect if your skin isn’t up to par. When my Crohn’s acts up (aka when I get stressed aka when I am planning the best but most stressful day of my damn life) my skin rebels and I break out especially around my jaw line. I’m not talking about a little blackhead that can be covered, but serious cystic volcanos that no matter how much you push and prod, don’t erupt. You all know what I’m talking about. They are the kinds of blemishes that you need a live Facetune edit to cover.
Leave it to me to get one of these nasty guys RIGHT before my wedding. I shouldn’t have been surprised since, you know, wedding, stress, Crohn’s, but like, seriously? I tried my usual at home remedies but none of my regular combos were working rid my face of this thing. The week of my wedding I called the doctor that does my Botox in extreme panic. How do I make this thing look normal? I had researched a ton of different in office treatments that I blurted out over the phone. They told me to come in ASAP and they would laser it off for me.
I had never tried lasering before but I was like hell yes sign me up. Not only did I get to try a new skincare treatment that could make me feel great about my skin for my wedding, I also got to do it for free because my doctor’s office is the best fucking place (shoutout Dr. Tag, ILY). Side note, I also love my doctor’s office because they are SO real about treatments and what they suggest to do and not to do. I was begging them to inject my face with cortisone to make my acne go away and they gave me a serious education on how that can actually cause divots in your skin, basically scarring your face. Yikes. This is why I appreciate their honesty.
I got to the office and had this tiny laser that looked like one of those mouth rinsing tools at the dentist, zap my huge pimple a few times in a row. I was expecting pain to the extent of some light botox but it actually felt like nothing but a little heat and a tiny shock. I immediately looked in the mirror and saw a difference. The redness and swelling had dramatically decreased. I follow up with an in office topical retinol treatment and was on my way with some fun free samples and a less inflamed face in about 20 minutes total.
I watched as the swelling went down over the next few days and by the day of my wedding (three days later) the situation had really improved. It hadn’t totally vanished by the big day but it was way more manageable and my makeup and photos turned out AMAZING. I was really happy with the results and I am glad I tried this treatment out.
After a few cocktails, the days after my treatment I would show everyone who would listen my close up before picture followed by an excited “do you see how good it looks now?! like look! seriously!”. Everyone was pretty intrigued and the biggest question I got was “how does that work?!”.
I’m no doctor but here is the scoop on how it was explained to me. Basically, cystic acne is nasty bacteria backed up under your skin. The laser targets that area with heat which kills the acne causing bacteria. No bacteria, no cystic acne. Boom. If you want to read more, “The Pretty Pimple” has a great article on laser treatments that I majorly stalked.
Full facial laser treatments can cost around $200+ but for just a spot or two I recommend talking to your doctor because you can do specifically those areas for a discounted rate. If you suffer from chronic cystic acne you can get a sequence of treatments (usually around 3-5 treatments depending on severity) and clear up the acne you are experiencing. While it isn’t immediate, it is definitely effective and it also helped to prevent scarring. About a third of the time I get some type of acne scar when I have a cystic breakout (probably because I try and handle it myself, whoops) but with this treatment there was absolutely zero scarring.
So what’s the verdict:
I will 100% do this treatment again. It yielded great results with little to no pain, not a huge investment, and no recovery time.
There was no scarring after the treatment and no scarring after the cystic acne healed.
I saw instant, positive results that continue to improve over a few days.
The only thing I would advise against is doing this the week of your wedding like I did. Of course if you are in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do but ideally avoiding trying new treatments immediately before a big event is the way to go. You never know how your skin will react so you want to try new products/treatments out in enough time where you could recover if something went awry. Out of all things to get done last minute though I would say this is not super risky and probably one of the better ones.
Overall…. I saw GO FOR IT.
Now obviously due to expenses and time I can’t run to my doctor every time I have a breakout so I have to find some treatments at home to help remedy the situation. I have shared some of my favorites in the past, one of which being the Fresh Umbrian Clay Mask. I only use it as a spot treatment instead of on my whole face and you only need such a tiny bit that I’ve had this bottle so long that they’ve redone the packaging. It’s not cheap so I’m not mad about it.
I also have been loving the cult favorite Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion for like 7 years now. I use it mostly for whiteheads as opposed to cystic acne but it works super quick and is under $20. I have a set of pimple extracting tools that I keep on my vanity at all times (it was less than $10 from Amazon). I am the type of person that like NEEDS to pop a pimple when I have one which is not great for your skin but with the right tools it can be done in a proper way.
My last trick for fighting breakouts is to actually hydrate my skin. People automatically assume that when your skin breaks out you should dehydrate the shit out of it and turn your face into a desert. From my experience this only makes things worse because then your skin will overproduce oil and it becomes a vicious cycle. Do not be afraid of hydration. If done properly it won’t cause your skin to break out and it will only keep your skin looking tighter and younger which is honestly all I can ask for. I just started using the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask and I am in love with it. For my daily moisturizer I have really been loving the COSRX Snail Cream. It is affordable and insanely hydrating without feeling too heavy.
Maintaining even and smooth skin sans breakouts can be hard when you have underlying health issues, but it definitely is possible to a certain extent. While I have accepted that my skin will never be “perfect”, I love keeping my skin as healthy as can be and I love sharing my finding with you all!
The past six months or so have been nuts, getting ready for our wedding and honeymoon. Every weekend and every free moment after work was full of decisions, logistics, and often times chaos. Planning a wedding is no joke, especially when you have no wedding planner and have to arrange all of the moving parts yourself. I had immense help from my mom, stepmom, and dad but being the absolutely psychotic micromanager that I am, even when projects were left in the best hands I was still stressing.
On top of that we were planning an 11 day European honeymoon which not only required a slew of decisions and finalizing details but also arranging care for the pups while we were gone. We had family and friends step up to help us in this area as well which we couldn't be more thankful for.
Through all of the planning I really tried to step back and enjoy the process. Ideally you only plan a wedding once (or twice if you eloped like us!) so why not take everything in and try and appreciate all of the work that goes into throwing the biggest party of your life? Living in the moment is not my forte but I really did make and effort. I wanted to enjoy the other festivities that lead up to the big day…. the bachelorette party (lucky for me, I had one in New Orleans and a winery day planned close to home!), the bridal shower, the days leading up to the wedding when our family was together. It makes me so happy now to look back and realize I truly got to enjoy those moments. I can say the same for the wedding and the honeymoon as well.
In order to live in the moment these past few months, I took a big step back from sharing everything in my life in real time. I have all of these sweet moments and details documented and eventually I will share them with the world but in the moment I wanted them to be privately enjoyed. Instead of focusing on creating moments for the rest of the world to see, I wanted to genuinely enjoy those moments for once. I have shared photos after the fact on Instagram with updates and kind words for those who made these moments happen. I have gotten messages over and over again of people asking why I didn’t share more details from this event or that event or my planning process. The answer is because I was actually living it. And I have written down every request from every person who has reached out and I promise I will share the details. Now that I have had the chance to take things in for myself, I can share them with the rest of the world and I am so freaking excited to do so.
I have also had people ask about the podcast. It is coming back! We have guests lined up, we have some really good topics, and we are ready to dive back in. Same goes for blog content. I stepped back from pushing out content in these areas for a bit because I didn’t want to publish content I didn’t love. And I didn’t have time to create the content I would feel good about. I wasn’t going to write a shit post or record a shit podcast just to get something out. I also had some partnerships and companies that I was (and still am!) partnered with that I was creating content for. I feel very strongly about these publications and their ability to reach a large audience and make a difference so while you haven’t been able to read everything I have created for them yet, it is coming and you will be able to see the hard work I have put in behind the scenes.
Balancing my life has been a chaotic sort of shit show for the past six months but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Thank you to everyone who has followed this journey on Instagram through posts and stories and is revisiting my site now for all that is to come. I appreciate you. I have taken your requests and suggestions very seriously. And I can’t wait to share the details of my life with everyone again.
WHAT YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO.....
Drop a comment or a DM on Instagram and let me know what else you want to hear about!
I love when I have the chance to team up with other boss babes to promote really cool products or businesses. When Boho Babe Jewels reached out to do a collaboration I was pumped because their jewelry is so freaking cute (I'll get into details about that later), but they also are supporting a cause that I can 100% get behind.
Proceeds from one of their collections went directly to support the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Seriously, right up my alley. Supporting fellow Crohnies is also something I am passionate about. It is hard to have your own business or a side hustle regularly but doing it with a chronic illness is even more of an uphill battle. I know I've shared my struggles with finding time to fit everything with Crohnically Blonde into my schedule while still taking time to rest and maintain my health. I'm sure there are a ton of you badasses out there who are blazing the entrepreneurial trail while trying to keep your health on track. If so, I'd love to hear about what your hustle is and a tip for how you balance it all?
Take a look at how I styled my pieces and make sure to head over to their website to pick out some of your own. They are having a HUGE sale right now on everything (I'm talking like $15 for some great stuff) so the stars have aligned with the timing here... go check them out!
I was very excited when my two chokers showed up because I have been trying to nail the layered choker trend and have not been able to find the perfect combination. The trick is definitely to do a chunkier piece with a more delicate one layered on top. This balances out the whole look and prevents tangling. I made the mistake before of pairing two super delicate chokers and things did not end well. You can also wear them separately which is ideal for traveling because you get multiple looks in one. All of their pieces are handmade in Alabama so you know you are getting some love and positive vibes sent your way when you wear these.
I love these necklaces, I love Boho Babe Jewels in general, and I love the cause that they stand behind. Keep on killing it and go support our fellow Crohnie by treating yourself to some cute new jewelry.
Ya'll KNOW I am totally obsessed with self care and any product that I can add to my routine. Recently I was introduced to T Spheres which I have become completely obsessed with.
"What the heck are T Spheres?" is probably what you are thinking right now. Well they are a freaking life saver. They are massage balls that are infused with essential oils. It's like bringing the spa into your house.
I've been using the massage balls to number one, help with IBD related pain, and number two, help relieve muscle tension thanks to my new found hobby of attending barre class. You might be familiar with regular massage balls that you can use to roll out your muscles but these take it to the next level.
They can be heated or chilled to provide you with the optimal effect and they are infused with essential oils that align to a specific desired feeling. For example, I have lavender infused massage balls (Peace & Quiet) that I use for the evening on my shoulders and neck before I go to bed. The lavender is calming and soothing to help you relax before bedtime. In the morning or before/after I work out I use the Empower Mint to refresh and energize me.
Personally I like to chill the Empower Mint massage balls to give them an extra zing to help wake me up. I even bring these in the shower with me to roll out my muscles while my conditioner sits in my hair. #multitasking. The Peace & Quiet are my go to when I am have Crohn's related pain. I heat them and use them on my stomach and abdomen which sounds a little strange but it works like a charm.
There are so many ways that you can utilize these massage balls it is crazy. They have an entire tutorial/ video section on their website so you can make sure you are using them properly and getting the most out of their benefits. I also really love that they are so easy to travel with that you really can bring them anywhere. You can relieve your pain while sitting at your desk in the office. You can ease muscle tension when flying. You can pull them out of your purse at anytime. #preparedAF. I also love that these serve as portable ice pack and heating pads. As someone who often has to travel with both these are a space saver and super convenient. I mean... they can even go in the microwave. Can a regular massage ball do that... no.
I also love the oils from T Spheres. If you have been following along with my social media and the blog, you know oils have been my JAM recently. I love diffusing them as well as rubbing them all over me and anything else in sight. T Spheres actually also sent me some of their oils (because they saw I was clearly an oil obsessed crazy person) and I can't get enough. The lavender bath and body oil is seriously ideal to add into your nighttime bubble bath. Not only does it calm you down but it leaves your skin super smooth and moisturized when you get out of the bath. I also got to try the "Pep-Up Mint" oil which can really clear out any sinus problems you are having and wake you the heck up. I am not an early morning kind of girl so if I am showering it is speedy and I don't have time to soak in oils. I do incorporate oil by using it to moisturize my body, post morning shower. That way it sticks with me all day and I get the amazing moisturizing effects. Oh and in case this wasn't enough, these oils are hand blended and made to order so you can ensure you are getting the best and most fresh oils (also made with lots of love!).
T Spheres have become a crucial part of my self care routine and I am so incredibly happy be partnering with them to give ya'll a discount so you can try out your own! You can use my code "CROHNICALLYBLONDE" to get $5 off and free shipping until Mother's Day.
Hello, hello, hello.
It has been a little bit. To be honest life has been hitting me hard. I have been super overwhelmed with just about everything going on.
I've decided I am in deep need of:
Yes, I am kidding, but wouldn't those things be nice?
Finally I've come out of the eye of the stress storm and am on the way out of the hurricane... I think. Either way, I've planned some great new content that is coming up and to hold you over Diane and I release a short podcast episode!
We jump right in, chatting on the phone from Maryland to Hawaii. I am in a post Remicade daze so please mind my "um's" (brain fog is real AF) and Diane is lounging on her balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Same, right?
This was Diane's episode to run with and she did an amazing job of describing her beautiful vacation and giving some tips for traveling to Maui and traveling with Crohn's.
Check out this mini episode and stay tuned for another full length one that is going to be released later this week!
I am BEYOND excited that the Sprouts Ellicott City location is finally open! Yesterday I had the pleasure to tour the brand new store and experience all of the amazingness first hand.
Let me tell you, this exceeded my expectations in every way. There are seriously so many great things I want to share with you I don't even know where to start.
The selection of products is truly extensive and they really do focus on organic products so you feel good about anything you choose to purchase. I really appreciated the amount of specifically gluten free items they carry and this was definitely highlighted in the bakery section. The amount of gluten free bread selections they offer are more than I have ever seen. The baked goods are the same story; tons of delicious options.
There is a huge focus on produce so contrary to most grocery stores, all of the produce is in the dead center of the store! The fruits and vegetables that are in stock are plentiful and the options are vast enough that you can find even the most obscure ingredient from a Pinterest recipe. Not only is there a ton of great produce but it is actually decently priced. Now, I was definitely skeptical when I heard that Sprouts had 'great deals'. I feel like every store says this but rarely delivers. Sprouts is not messing around though. I was SOLD when I saw that avocados were 2 for $1. And, get this, they were actually ripe. Another rare situation in my grocery shopping experiences recently.
Moving on from the produce, there are a ton of other food sections to explore. There are ample selections of kombucha, fresh juices, cheeses, packaged goods, frozen meals, dairy, and just about anything you can think of. I usually try and stick to fresh foods but my hectic schedule sometimes leaves me staring in my freezer trying to see what the heck I have that I can heat up in three minutes. Luckily Sprouts is here to save the day with a selection of healthy, frozen meals (that are gluten free) and they even have frozen pizzas with cauliflower crust. Oh, and all of the frozen food was 20% off when I visited. WHAT!
The customizable approach they take to grocery shopping is something I really love too. Sprouts not only has a make your own trail mix area but also a wide variety of coffee beans you can select by amount and type, and just about the coolest thing ever, a spice counter where you can purchase the exact amount of certain spices that you may need. This helps to not only reduce waste but also helps to save you money because you don't have to buy a whole container of an exotic spice for one recipe.
If you're looking for some fresh, healthy food to grab on your lunch break they have a station where you can purchase freshly made sandwiches, prepared sides, and they have a delicious looking salad bar. While you're there, you can even pick up a fresh cut of meat for for dinner from the in house butcher.
The thing about Sprouts is you can literally get everything from this store. As if the amazing food selection wasn't enough, the vitamin section and the beauty are swoon worthy. There are vitamin experts on site that can provide you with any guidance you may need. And you may need it because the selection is super serious. I mean, I am a probiotic/supplement/natural remedy fanatic and this place really left me speechless. There are a ton of natural remedies which I struggle to find elsewhere and things like liquid chlorophyll that most people have no idea what the heck I'm talking about when I rave about it, but Sprouts gets me. The beauty products are another story because they also have such a selection I could get lost for hours. I did come home with a bottle of jojoba oil to cleanse my face with....
Overall, I had just an amazing experience at Sprouts and I was super impressed with their selections, their customer service/knowledgable employees, and their prices. Where else can you find Perfect Bars buy one get one free at $2.99 a pop? The answer is nowhere.
I can't wait to head back there this weekend to stock up on some new items for the week ahead. I can definitely see Sprouts becoming my regular stop for grocery shopping because it is just that darn good!
Sprouts in Ellicott City is open everyday from 7am to 10pm everyday so make sure to visit them ASAP, and chances are you may run into me there. Most likely piling the whole shelf of Topo Chicos into my cart (:
Our new podcast is live here on iTunes and we are super pumped about it. This is a fun and lighter episode than we have be doing recently. Diane is preparing for a trip, we talk about some things that we are loving, and we talk about our experiences with botox (+fillers).
We mentioned a few weeks ago that we were going to experiment with some injectables and report back. By now we've had time to let them sink in and share the details on our experiences.
Not only do we talk about how to use botox in a preventative way we also talk about how it can fix medical issues. I've had horrible TMJ for as long as I can remember so I went for it and got some needles to the masseter muscle in hopes it would bring me some relief.
We are sharing ALL of the details so give it a listen. Obviously we are not medical professionals so before your choose to do anything please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon.
If you live in Maryland and need referrals or want to know where we went specifically/who we saw drop us a message and we will give you the scoop.
My hair and I spent many years fighting with each other.
My natural locks are a mousey dirty blonde/light brown and was super thin and scraggly for the longest time. And by that I mean up until like last year.
I cycled through extensions and treatment products for almost a decade before I realized my body's effed up way of absorbing my nutrients (thanks anorexia + Crohn's!) was what was causing my hair to just literally not grow the way I wanted it to. This is a whole other post in and of itself but once my Crohn's got way more under control miraculously my hair started thriving for the first time I could ever remember.
Over the past 6 months or so I have been experimenting with styling products and tools to style my newly healthier hair and have been getting used to a life of styling my natural hair not just with extensions!
I have done a couple other posts about my haircare favorites before and don't get me wrong, all of those products are great and a lot of them are still in rotation in my routine. Here is the thing though, trying new beauty products is pretty much my hobby so I am always finding new sh*t that I am obsessed with.... hence the title of these posts.
I'm going to give ya'll a short rundown on why I love each of the products and you can click the link to purchase them via Amazon. Yup, extra bonus here, all of these products you can easily get 'primed' to your home so you literally do not have to leave your sofa.
If you're into the products I usually share (these included) make sure to check out my Amazon Influencer Shop where you can see all of my favorite things in a variety of different categories. There are a ton of haircare, skincare, and makeup products I love along with other things like books, office supplies, an even selfie lights.
Okay now let's do this thing....
I am a hairspray brat. I remember when I was little my mom used to spray hairspray while I was talking to her and it would get in my face/mouth and I would LOSE my shit. I've always been weird about how it smells, how sticky it is, and how impossible it makes restyling your hair without washing it. The thing is, when you have hair on the thinner side you need a decent amount of spray to keep any curls in tact but the formula cant be too heavy that it makes weighs your hair down.
I recently had the chance to try this product for free thanks to Influenster and I was a huge fan. This blog post is not sponsored by them so just putting that out there. I actually like this stuff. The hold is great like to the point where I had my hair curled during the outrageous Northeast windstorm and it kept my curls in tact.
The formula isn't super sticky and it actually gives your hair a pretty but non greasy shine. This stuff is perfect for the girl who hates washing her hair because it holds well but you can easily brush your hair and restyle without dealing with yucky buildup or a crunchy feel.
There isn't much to say about this stuff besides it is a lifesaver. To be honest, I don't even know all 25 things this stuff does but I can gladly tell you what I use it for. I put it in after I wash my hair as a leave in conditioner. It helps to detangle and moisturize my hair as well as helping to manage frizziness and as a heat protectant.
It is super easy to use and a little goes a long way. It is totally not heavy at all and doesn't leave any kind of residue.
Drybar products are my JAM. Literally I have never used something from them that I haven't fallen in love with. A little goes a long way with this sea salt spray. I love putting it in wet hair if I don't have time to dry it because it will leave my usual stick straight hair with a bit of texture. I love spraying this in with a tiny bit of hairspray after doing some tousled curls. It gives your hair a sexy, undone looks and looks like you aren't trying too hard. Usually to look like you aren't trying you have to put a lot of effort in but seriously, not with this stuff. It is also great to throw in your beach bag on vacations. Also, I'm a huge fan of this for second (and even third) day hair to amp it up a bit. The delicious smell doesn't hurt either.
If you haven't gotten the theme here, I just really don't like washing my hair. Don't judge me. I know at least 80% of ya'll reading this only wash yours 2-3 times per week whether you want to admit it or not.
Dry shampoo is my best friend. I actually joke at work that our team runs on dry shampoo. Why? Because we are all boss ass babes that have a lot more important things to do than wash our hair everyday. Just. Saying.
I've tried almost every type of dry shampoo on the market. Expensive, cheap, spray, powder, you name it and I've tried it. My tried and true favorite always is Batiste. It is reasonably priced, gets the job done, and I always order this 3-pack from Amazon because that is how quickly I go through it.
I have been through my fair share of curling irons but I have never found one that is as easy to use and totally efficient as this one it. Matt got this for my for Valentine's Day last month after I had been obsessing over it when I got my hair done at Drybar. Best husband award.
This tool is super easy to use. It heats up to 440 degrees almost instantly so it is great for when you are rushed in the mornings. The barrel rotates to it is ergonomically friendly and ensures you have a smooth curl every time. The 1.25 inch is great for my length of hair and perfect for curling my extensions as well.
It definitely is an investment but I have learned over the years that in my opinion it is definitely worth investing in quality hair tools because they DO make such a different.
This T3 dryer is another great investment in the hair tool category. It is so light weight and dries my hair insanely quickly. Another one that makes rushed morning before work 10x easier. It also isn't super loud so you won't wake your entire house up at 6am. The speedy drying time is the thing that will forever sell me on T3 dryers because part of the reason I hate washing my hair is because I hate the time it takes to style afterwards. This has undoubtedly cut down my drying time at least in half. 15 extra minutes that I can sleep in on a Monday morning? Sign. Me. Up.
I hope you all enjoy the products I mentioned and they help to make your hair styling experience a lot more efficient and hopefully more fun! Make sure to check out my Amazon Influencer Page to shop my other favorite items and drop me a message/comment with any recommendations you have! I am always looking for new things to try!
First off, if you haven't read my post from last week on Sprouts, STOP AND GO NOW.
Seriously, if you live in the Ellicott City/Baltimore/ surrounding area this news is a life changer. Sprouts is opening their first Maryland location in Ellicott City and they have just about everything you could ask for when it comes to catering to dietary restrictions, trying to eat healthy, or just putting delicious food on the table for your family. Oh, and its ALL super cost effective and in one place. Very efficient. I am already a fan.
As if I wasn't already excited enough about Sprouts coming to the area they totally HOOKED IT UP and sent me some delicious (all gluten free) Sprouts brand products to try. Can I just say…. They pretty much read my mind/taste buds/ stalked my Instagram or they are just super lucky and got it right with all of my favorite things. Not only did they send me some tried and try essentials: dijon mustard, almond butter, olive oil cooking spray, honey; but they also sent me some delicious snacks to try that were right up my alley.
A few of my favorites were:
Chocolate Coconut Rolls - They're a great gluten free sweet treat that’s light and easy to pack as a snack for work or on the go. I also am a real big coconut advocate so that played a lot into my love for these.
Organic Popcorn with Himalayan Sea Salt and Coconut Oil- Popcorn is one of those things that once I start eating I literally cannot stop. Like it is a problem. Its one of my favorite snacks and sometimes the only way to keep myself awake during a movie. Not kidding with that one. This stuff actually has a movie theater popcorn taste without all of the butter and stomach aches.
Organic Ghost Pepper Salsa- I love spicy things, I love Mexican food. I love salsa of any and all types. When I was in Key West years ago I insisted on going to a hot sauce tasting so I could try ghost pepper sauce. Very spicy. And I loved it. This salsa is probably one of the best salsas I have tasted and definitely the best one I've had not in a restaurant. It isn't so spicy that it burns your mouth but it has a great kick at the end that. I cannot wait to try this on taco salads to add some heat and I will most definitely be serving this at my next game night.
On top of the staples and yummy new snacks they sent me some of the Sprouts body wash and hand soap to try. They are both lavender scented which is super calming. Both are non drying and even my husband approved.
This last product is a MUST HAVE in my household. I literally use it for everything so when I got a new jar I danced around my kitchen. Seriously. COCONUT OIL. Not only do I use it every time I cook, I also use it as part of my daily beauty routine. This is a whole other post in and of itself but I use it for wiping off my makeup, moisturizing my skin, and cleaning/moisturizing my lash extensions. I always like to have a jar in the kitchen and on my makeup table 24/7. This needs to be your first purchase when you walk into Sprouts if you aren't on the coconut oil train yet. Then the Ghost Pepper Salsa….
Let me go on the record here and say, you will find no shortage of Sprouts Brand products (there are over 2,000 different kinds) and they are always adding new items to try. The best part is they have a ton of options that are natural and organic, as well as gluten free, vegan, and non- GMO.
As I experiment more with these products I will share some more of my favorites and recipes but for now you can find recipes and tips at SproutsBrand.com.
So I know I started this post talking about how not only great but also affordable Sprouts is. I have got you covered on even more deals so you have literally no excuse not to try all of the deliciousness that they have to offer.
First off, the Grand Opening deals at Sprouts Ellicott City are going to be out of control. On March 14th (opening day) the first 200 shoppers to checkout will receive 20% off of their total purchase, every 15th shopper will receive a coupon book, plus there will be samples and free reusable bag available to all shoppers!
If you can't make it in for the Grand Opening you still have time to save during the opening weekend. On Saturday (3/17) the first 200 customers to checkout will receive coupons for five free deli items. On Sunday (3/18) upon checkout, every 15th customer will receive $5 off their next purchase of $15 or more.
The Grand Opening isn't the only time you can save, which I am super thankful for since I probably will be there at least twice a week. More than a third of the store is rumored to be on promotion at any given time so you are already set up for budget success.
Three of the ways that I will be keeping up with promotions are:
Sprouts Mobile App - With the app you can clip coupons on your phone and easily scan your custom barcode during checkout to apply them.
Deals of the Month- You can access this flyer easily online. It highlights all of the 2,000 plus products that are on sale so you can proactively plan your grocery list/ meals for the week based on what deals are going on before you get to the store!
Weekly E-Circular- You can subscribe to this online to hear about the weekly deals and sign up for the eNewsletter to be the first to hear about special sales and promotions going on at the Ellicott City location.
If were being honest, usually specialty food stores are not cost effective so the fact that Sprouts actually focuses on providing these great savings is so refreshing. No matter what your budget is, everyone deserves to be able to eat good quality food that promotes a healthy lifestyle.
I am so excited for Sprouts to open in my area so I can continue trying their products and sharing my favorite finds with ya'll. I also have the pleasure of checking out the new location for their Grand Opening Party next week so I will be sharing all of the details and giving you the inside scoop.
If you are in an area where you are lucky enough to already have a Sprouts, let me know all of your favorite things and things I should try. If not, let me know which of the products I mentioned you are looking forward to trying.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.