Things I Bought That I Love: Luke’s Diner Pin

What better way to celebrate the return of “Gilmore Girls” than with a Luke’s diner pin?

Well, you could also celebrate it with a Luke’s diner mug (for your husband); a Dragonfly Inn mug (for yourself); some coffee and Pop Tarts; and a marathon of the show with friends. (Check, check, check, and check.)

But the pin is pretty great, too.

It comes from You Silly Duffer on Etsy and is currently on pre-order for $8. The packaging it comes in is cute and the pin is even cuter. Get yours here.

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Outfits of October

Last October was excellent, but this has been the best October ever. Not only did I get to honeymoon with my husband, we also got to celebrate Halloween with an incredible weekend at the historic Deerfield Inn for dinner and a spooky ghost tour around Northampton, Mass. October is the best month of the year, guys.

Here’s what I wore!

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All black everything.

Outfit details

  • Black boat neck top: Target
  • Tank top: Target
  • Blazer: Target
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Forever 21 (LOVE THIS DRESS SO MUCH)
  • Shoes (not pictured): Payless
Me and my "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M IN ROME" face in the Farnese Gardens
Me and my “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN ROME” face in the Farnese Gardens

Outfit details

  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Scarf: Little shop in Barcelona, Spain
  • Shoes: Payless (super comfy)

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Fashion to Figure
  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Old Navy
  • Scarf: Shop in Marseille, France
  • Shoes: Payless

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Your eyes do not deceive you. These are pizza pajamas.

Outfit details

  • Pizza pajamas more appropriate for a toddler than an adult: Target
  • Dope Halloween nail decals: Homegoods

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Outfit details

  • Scarf: Amazon.com
  • Cardigan: Target
  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Pants: Marshall’s
  • Boots: Rainbow

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Target
  • Tank top: Target
  • Jeans: Old Navy (Rockstar, highly recommend!)
  • Boots: DSW

On this day, I also made my first-ever pernil (in a crock pot no less) and it came out amazing.

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I can adult.

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Outfit details

  • Sweater: Old Navy
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Shoes: DSW
  • Coat: Hand-me-down from my mom

On this night, we enjoyed Deerfield and Northampton, where we got a little ice cream and got spooked by some ghost stories.

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And then, for my Halloween outfit…

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I’m the galaxy! Or, a galaxy princess!

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Amazon.com
  • Shoes: Payless
  • Crown: Crafted with some Christmas tinsel
  • Earrings: Etsy
  • Necklace: Etsy
  • Glasses: Glassesshop.com
  • Star stickers: Amazon.com
  • Shiny ring: Norwegian Cruise Line

Happy Halloween!

xo.

Honeymooning in France, Spain, and Italy

How do you write about being lucky enough to live out a dream without sounding  cheesy? I don’t know. A little cheesy is good, though, and I’m okay with coming off a bit earnest when talking about this dream honeymoon that my husband and I were lucky enough to take.

When my husband and I first started dating, we spent a lot of time making heart eyes at each other and asking each other questions. We were just teenagers and figuring out life and the transition from teenager to adult and the world felt wide open. What do you want to do with your life? Do you ever want a dog? Where do you want to live? What’s your dream vacation?

We quickly settled on two dream vacations: Disney World and a trip to Europe. We didn’t knock our Disney World trip off our list until a few years ago and we hoped to take a Mediterranean cruise when we turned 25. That didn’t exactly pan out (it was a bit more expensive than we anticipated, we had a dog to care for, and rent was expensive!).

But our honeymoon gave us the perfect opportunity to go for it.

So, a little more than a year after we got married, we found ourselves boarding a plan to Rome, Italy, to embark on a seven-day Western Mediterranean cruise, which would visit Italy, Spain, and France. (We decided to embrace Oct. 13—Treat Yo’self Day—and stay an extra night in Rome, too.)

It was the trip of a lifetime.

Day 1: Civitavecchia

Once we found out that Norwegian Cruise Line offered a western Mediterranean trip, there was no question in our minds; we would take the trip with NCL. We’ve done two other NCL cruises (including one in December 2015 with family) and loved each one.

We booked a flight out of JFK, had a layover in Dublin, Ireland (we really wish we could have seen more than the airport), and landed in Rome. From there, we took an NCL bus to Civitavecchia, where our cruise ship—the Norwegian Epic—was waiting for us.

Day 2: Pisa and Montecarlo, Italy

Our first stop was in Livorno, Italy. We had booked a few excursions through NCL to really make the most of our trip and the first took us to Pisa and then Montecarlo. Called “Pisa and a Taste of Tuscany,” the day took us to two cities where we…

  • Admired the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Campanile, and the Camposanto Monumentale (our tour guide, Lily, was lovely)
  • Ate gelato and bruschetta and drank chianti in the Miracle Square
  • Visited a winery called the Fattoria il Poggio
  • Drank six types of wine, while dining on an incredible lunch of pappardelle pasta; bruschetta with olives, peppers, prosciutto, and olive oil; and sampled some dessert wine and biscotti

Day 3: Cannes, France

We didn’t book excursions for our two stops in France and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As someone with anxiety issues, I was nervous we’d made a mistake and we would really struggle to make the most of our days.

Not so. Canne was beautiful.

  • We watched the sun rise over Cannes, France, just before leaving the ship.
  • We walked the Cannes boardwalk and spotted the place where they hold the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Spent time at a café on the water, where we ate an omelette and a Nutella crepe (I kept thinking, “I’m eating a CREPE in FRANCE!”
  • Spent time on one of the beaches across from Boulevard de la Croisette enjoying beautiful weather and the French Riviera (I totally walked down the beach and stuck my toes in the water just so I can now say that my toes have been in the French Riviera)

When we returned to the ship, Bill and I attended Cirque Dreams, an incredible acrobatic show that also included a delicious three-course dinner.

Day 4: Marseille, France

In a surprise to no one, Marseille was also beautiful, although I still don’t know how to pronounce it.

Things we did:

  • Visited the marina, where we started to realize that ferris wheels in Europe are kind of A Thing (and a beautiful one at that)
  • Bought a scarf. It was a chilly morning by the water and we were too far from the ship for me to go back and change, so I was desperate to buy a scarf. We wandered into a little shop where an adorable elderly French man sold me a pink scarf. We struggled to communicate—me knowing very little French, and he knowing very little English—but it ended up being a really friendly, sweet interaction. He even cut the tags off for me so I could wear the scarf out of the store. It was a tiny, somewhat inconsequential moment, but it is one of my favorites from the trip.
  • Explored the city a little, just wandering around some side streets. Bill was fascinated by all the graffiti, so he was grabbing photos where he could. (You can see his graffiti photos here.)
  • Ate a baguette and some macaroons along Rue a la Republic

Back on the ship, we ate a fancy dinner at the Manhattan and attended the Burn the Floor dance show.

Day 5: Barcelona, Spain

I knew Bill and I would love Spain. It felt so dreamy and like there was so much more we needed to explore.

We took an excursion that took us on a combined bus and walking tour throughout downtown Barcelona, where we…

  • Saw buildings designed Gaudí
  • Visited St. Familia Basilica (which was incredible in person)
  • Admired the Plaza de España and Plaza Catalanya
  • Wandered around Poble Espanyol (Spanish village), an open-air museum that shows replicas of monuments and landmarks from all around Spain. We loved seeing a little of everything all at once!
  • While in the Spanish Village, we tried some to-die-for chocolate truffles at La Casa De Chocolate
  • And we enjoyed sangria while watching flamenco dancers (!!!)
  • After the show, we grabbed lunch of a potato omelet, bruschetta with tomato, and paella

Back on the ship, we had another meal at the Manhattan where I ate the best steak ever. Our waiter, Milosz, brought us so much wine that we ended up a little drunk. Milosz stabbed Bill’s dessert with a spoon (a very weird thing to describe but so hilarious and weird in the moment) and we ended up leaving him an $11 tip made out of American money and euros.

Day 6: At Sea

After a few days of adventure, a day at sea made us feel a little bit antsy. It was on this day (and this day only) that we really felt how many people were on the boat. We spent the day reading, lounging in the sun, drinking, and eating. Obviously.

Day 7: Naples, Italy

Naples was the one day of the trip where the weather was so-so. But this was our last excursion so we made the most of it! We took a walking tour throughout Naples, where we:

  • Saw some of the history landmarks, including Castel Nuovo, Piazza Plebiscito, Fontana del Carciofo, and Teatro di San Carlo, as well as a great shopping district
  • Went to Bourbon Tunnel, where we were guided through a labyrinth of tunnels to learn about the history of Naples and its “underground city.” It was an informative, fascinating—if at times chilling—tour. The tunnels, designed by Ferdinand II of Bourbon and his architect approx. 150 years ago were used as bomb shelters used during WWII. Those stories were haunting. But the best surprise was the buried vintage cars and motorbikes in the depths of the caves.
  • Ate at Pizzeria Napoli in Bocca, where we enjoyed wine and Naples-style pizza, which was one of the best (and biggest, as we were each given our OWN entire pizza) meals we ate

Day 8: Rome, Italy

The end of the cruise came suddenly. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we dreaded leaving. I was a bit nervous about venturing through Rome all on our own, too.

But it turned out better than I could have ever imagined. NCL helped us arrange a car from the port to our hotel, Hotel Lancelot, in the heart of Rome. I cannot recommend Hotel Lancelot enough. The hotel was beautiful—a perfect mix of historical and modern. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but we were awfully early, too. So, the hotel staff, who were incredibly kind, helpful, and accommodating through our entire trip, invited us to have some breakfast and to use the Wifi (which we hadn’t had access to in a week).

The breakfast was simple, but one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Maybe it was because I was in Rome and high off of a magical trip; maybe I was just really hungry. Whatever it was, the coffee was the best I had ever tasted. I drank it black, which I never do, and enjoyed the most buttery, delicate croissant of my life.

After breakfast, we decided not to waste any time and to explore a bit, even if it meant carrying our heavy backpacks. Our hotel was within walking distance of the Colosseum, so we went there first. It was humbling to see in person.

We ventured to the Farnese Gardens and the Parco Del Colle Oppio before heading back to the hotel. With our room ready, we headed upstairs to see the room on the sixth floor. It was great—but it was the terrace that took it over the top.

We had booked our room that promised a “view of the Colosseum.” I imagined we’d maybe see the Colosseum if we squinted a bit through the window. Instead, we had a stunning terrace with greenery and a table and chairs, and—yes—an idyllic view of the Colosseum. I couldn’t get over it.

Ready for lunch, we asked the hotel staff for a map. Instead of just giving us a map, the gentleman behind the counter (whose name we regrettably never even learned!) offered to recommend a few places to eat. Then, after learning the length of our stay (just the night), he asked if he could recommend us a must-see walking tour. He highlighted the route on the map and told us when to begin our two- to three-hour walk so that we would end up in the Piazza del Popolo to watch the sun set.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a bit before setting out on our trek at 4 p.m., per the recommendation. The walk took us to see some of the most incredible sites in Rome: Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, Altare della Patria, Campidoglio, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, Villa Medici, and the Piazza del Popolo. And, yes, we made it to the Piazza del Popolo in time to watch the sunset.

For dinner, we grabbed a pizza, some cannolis, and ate in bed at the hotel. The next morning, we watched the sunrise and ate some breakfast, savoring our last moments in Rome.

It was everything.

xo.

Outfits of September

Hello from Ireland! I’m writing in Dublin Airport on a layover to Rome. My husband and I will finally be taking our honeymoon (and dream vacation). Ahhhhh!

More on that later. For now, a few things I wore in September.

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Outfit details

  • Chambray button-up: TJ Maxx
  • Black jeans: TJ Maxx
  • Lightwash denim flats: Marshall’s

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy (super comfy!)
  • Shoes: Payless (also very comfy)

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Oh, you know, just hanging out with Shaquille O’Neal…

I had the luxury of covering an event at my job—and Shaq was the keynote speaker. It was incredible. He’s very down-to-earth, supremely funny, and very tall.

Outfit details

  • Red wrap dress: Forever 21
  • Shoes (not pictured): Payless

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Outfit details

  • Navy blue heart dress: Forever 21 (TBH, I don’t love it, but it’s cute enough)
  • Shoes: Payless

The back of the dress is pretty cute:

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Outfit details

  • Black dress: Old Navy—is this too casual to be a LBD?
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Out of Print
  • Blazer: Target
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Hoodie: Old Navy
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Boots: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Donut costume: Target (Sadly, I did not buy this)
  • Jeans: TJ Maxx
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Plaid button-up: Old Navy
  • Polka dot undershirt: Target (I think?)
  • Jeans: TJ Maxx
  • Boots: DSW

xo.

 

Whale Watching at Cape Ann

I love whales. They’re beautiful, majestic animals and I get a little emotional when I think about them for too long. I’ve always wanted to go whale watching, so I jumped on a Travelzoo offer a few months back that offered a whale watching trip for two for $60 through, Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester, Mass. Because, damn it, I was going to knock that item off my bucket list and see some whales with my husband!

And, we did. It was as close to real-life magic as you can get. We saw five beautiful humpback whales (one of which was named UFO!), and they were so close to us, and it was everything. It was so perfect and humbling and made me feel how tiny and insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things.

The day was so perfect and left me floating from all the good feelings. I didn’t think I could get any happier—except for when I won two vouchers for another free whale watching trip (!!!).

My photos of the actual whale watching trip aren’t so great. I really was doing my best to really live in and appreciate the moment. I’m so excited to have the chance to do this again!

On top of the whale watching fun, our day trip morphed into an overnight at the Beauport Hotel, which was—hands down—the most stunning place we’ve ever stayed. It was right on the beach and had a rooftop bar, pool, and hot tub (all of which we took advantage of!). We also spent some time checking out the area, eating and drinking at Cape Ann Brewing Company on Friday, then spending the following morning in Rockport, enjoying some of the sights like Bearskin Neck and Motif Number One.

I highly recommend this area for a weekend getaway, especially at this time of year. The weather was beautiful—cool, but not cold, just crisp and breezy enough to walk on the beach with a hoodie.

Can this be my life, always?

xo.

Perfect Fall Treat: Sauteed Spiced Apples

Ready for fall? I am. And I’m all about fall-related treats to go with my favorite season, especially if it’s apple- or pumpkin-flavored. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love these spiced apple slices, which are delicious and take all of 20 minutes to make.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe in Savory magazine

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Ingredients

  • 3 apples (I used Gala)
  • 4 T butter (I used Brummel & Brown)
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. Cut the apples into wedges, removing the core. You do not need to remove the skin.
  2. Heat the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add apples.
  4. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add cinnamon and nutmug and mix apples. Cover saucepan and cook on high for 10 minutes. You may increase or decrease cook time base on the apple consistency you prefer. This cook time will leave the apples soft, but not mushy.

According to Savory, you can eat these apples over oatmeal or salads, with roast chicken or pork, or over ice cream. I prefer to eat mine straight as a delicious snack, with granola, or with some sausage. So good, and it tastes exactly like fall.

xo.

One Year in Our First Home

Somehow, it’s already been a year since my husband and I purchased our first home. We loved it as soon as we saw it because it felt so cozy. It was the living room we loved best—it had a chimney (which, truth be told, we have yet to use) and it was huge, which is great because that’s where we’d be spending a good chunk of our time. But, we liked the layout of the entire house, and the fact that it was so close to work and in a good neighborhood.

We’ve done a lot of work to the house since we first bought it. It was exciting to know we could personalize it exactly to our tastes (a freedom we definitely didn’t have in our apartments), but it’s also taken a lot of time and effort (and, let’s be real, money).

We painted every room, rearranged appliances, and spent the last year finding exactly the right furniture to give us the look we wanted.

We’re still not quite done—we have big dreams of redoing the kitchen and maybe even the bathroom some day, plus smaller to-dos, like creating a gallery wall up the stairs and organizing our sun room (not pictured below)—but we’re happy and proud of what we’ve accomplished.

This is our home.

xo.

So Long, Summer 2016

This might have been my favorite summer yet. After a difficult summer last year (we lost out on a home just one day shy of closing on us, leaving us without a place to live), Bill and I were determined to make the most of the season this year. I think we accomplished that.

Putting these pictures together helped me remember and appreciate the great life that I’m lucky to have, which I don’t do often enough.

Here’s to a lovely fall.

Outfits of the Month: August

I did it. I tried a romper.

And, I didn’t hate it. I actually thought it was kind of cute!

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I wore it to a morning at Starbucks working on some writing (cliche), but I felt cute and kind of adventurous in it, especially after months of admiring rompers on other women and secretly coveting one of my own.

Outfit details

  • Romper: Forever 21
  • Shoes (not pictured): Old Navy

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Me, excited about the romper situation!

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Fashion to Figure
  • Shoes: DSW

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Umm, how amazing are these galaxy leggings? These are another item I’ve been coveting forever, but I would never find any that both fit me and were affordable. I found these totally by mistake on a random trip to Walmart. They cost $3.

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Leggings: Walmart

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I’m obsessed with these wrap dresses from Forever 21. I got it both in olive, and in red (see below). They’re comfortable and chic and my new favorite dresses.

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Outfit details (for both)

  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

Just bought three more dresses from F21 since I’ve had such good luck with them lately. #treatyoself

Fingers crossed that I’ll take some more outfit pics in September than I did in August!

xo.

Posting on Snapchat for a Living

Okay, so I don’t exactly post on Snapchat for a living. But, that is part of my job—and I’m excited to share that an article I wrote about Snapchat was published by Higher Ed Experts! The article provides tips for other social media managers, like me, who may want to launch a Snapchat account for their college or institution.

I loved that the article picked up a little traction on Twitter (so exciting to me!), and that a lot of my co-workers threw their support behind the piece by sharing it on their own social media accounts. I work with such a good crew. ❤

If you’re interested, you can read the article here. Tweet me @crysmaldonado to let me know what you think!

xo.