Things I Bought That I Love: Beyoncé Pin

There are few things I love more than Beyoncé.

And, there are few things I love more than The Office.

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So I honestly couldn’t resist adding this pin to my collection.

The pin is from Heartificial on Etsy and featured adorable packaging, including a personalized note on the envelope that read, “Thank you Crystal. I hope you wake up every day feeling like Beyoncé. Have the best day ever! I believe in you!” (Totally made my day.) I’m already coveting this Pawnee Goddesses pin and this Luke’s Diner pin.

Get yours here.

xo.

 

Celebrating One Year of Marriage

When I was a teenager, I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever be in a relationship. I didn’t think I was lovable. I never believed someone would be able to see me—to look at me, flaws and all, and tell me they loved me.

And yet, here I am. Ten years with an incredible man, one year married. I’d consider myself pretty lucky.

Bill and I decided to celebrate our anniversary at the same beach where we got married last year. It was a perfectly blissful three days full of sandy beaches and adventures and sunshine and delicious seafood and ice cream, OBVIOUSLY.

We visited Hole in the Wall Beach; Rocky Neck State Park; McCook’s Point; antique shops; Old Mysticke Village; Gillette Castle. We tried lobster for the first time. We had fun doing whatever we wanted and relaxing (even though we missed our dog, Obi, who joined us at Wickham Park in Manchester, Conn., after we picked him up from Grandma’s).

And, now I’m plotting ways to spend every day at the beach. Let me know if you have any suggestions for how to make that happen.

xo.

Five Amazing Days at Disney (and Universal Studios)

Hello, best vacation ever.

Last week, Bill and I spent five days at Disney World, staying at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort in Orlando, Fla. And, we couldn’t stop in Orlando without also visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because obviously.

We left on Saturday evening.

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The day we left, I literally bought an app called RealBokeh so I could add Mickey Mouse bokeh to photos as I saw fit. I’m a fiend. (And, I was just really, really excited.)

Never in a million years did I think we’d be able to afford to stay at an actual Disney resort. But some of their hotels are surprisingly affordable. We stayed at the All-Star Music Resort and loved it.

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Each building had a different musical theme, like calypso, rock’n’roll, jazz, and country. We got Broadway.

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The resort itself was lovely. Well-kept, surprisingly serene, with plenty of amenities (including two pools, a laundry service, a food court, an on-site Disney store, and complimentary transportation to/from the parks, as well as to/from the airport).

I was obsessed with the little details, like the Mickey-shaped cap on the shampoo bottles!

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Beautiful, right?

Day 1 – Animal Kingdom

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I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Animal Kingdom. I liked it well enough, but I’d always heard it called a “half-day” park—AKA it’s the kind of Disney park without much to do in it. Bill had had a similar experience.

This time around, though, we loved it.

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We got to the Kilimanjaro Safari first thing, using our first-ever Fastpass. Uhh, I’m literally never going on another Disney ride unless I have a Fastpass? Those things are amazing and we didn’t have to wait for more than five minutes to get on a ride.

I knew I wanted to get onto the safari early. I had done some reading and learned that it’s best to go on the ride in the morning when the animals are active. Previously, I’d gone on the safari in the afternoon and it was tough to catch a glimpse of the animals who might have already been seeking refuge from the sun.

We did not run into that problem this time around.

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EEEEEEEE, look at those cutie pie elephants!

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The safari was hands down my favorite part about the day. We did some walking tours, too, stopped in plenty of gift shops, and swung by the petting area, which I had no idea existed until this very trip. I ended up petting a bearded dragon. No big deal.

We also ate a Mickey-shaped pretzel. Why does Mickey-shaped food taste better?

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As well as some samosas and falafel.

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Day 2 – Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios

It was on this trip that I learned Downtown Disney has been rebranded to be Disney Springs. Mostly the same shops; different name. We had fun in the Disney merchandise store, which is supposed to be the biggest one around (it was a madhouse, though). We also stopped by the Lego store (also crazy!) and Goofy’s Candy Company (which had yummy treats).

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Then we went to Hollywood Studios, which we were super excited about because of the new Star Wars additions (especially the late-night fireworks set to Star Wars music).

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Hollywood Studios did not disappoint. Disney has been working to revamp the park, which in recent years had probably begun to feel a bit stale. Some of the updates they’ve made include substituting their American Idol experience for a new Frozen sing-a-long and changing the Art of Animation area (which previously showed a film about animation featuring Mu-Shu, the dragon from Mulan) to an immersive Star Wars experience—with STORM TROOPERS and Jawas, as well as memorabilia from the Star Wars films. The Star Wars ride has also been updated to include an appearance by the beautiful John Boyega. Sigh.

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And, of course, you can get some incredible lightsabers. Like this one.

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It was amazing. We also stuck around for the Fantasmic! evening show, which was a first for us. I’ll admit I even got a little emotional during the show. Something about it was so magical.

And, of course, we had to stay for the new Star Wars fireworks show—which was incredible. Set to Star Wars music, there was nothing about it I didn’t love.

Day 3 – Epcot

Epcot was going to be a big day for us. We knew this going in. One of Bill’s goals was to “eat and drink” his way through Epcot, an idea he and his dad came up with when Bill was a little kid. This time around, he wanted to see if he could make it happen.

I loved the idea so I threw in my full support. Also, I love food, so it was kind of a no-brainer.

I’m happy to report that HE DID IT. HE FUCKING DID IT. He ate and drank his way through all 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Not pictured are the sushi/sake from Japan; kabab/white sangria from Morocco; and salmon cake/beer from the UK because I was starting to feel a little sick from all the food and sun. But I made a comeback and we finished strong.

This photo about sums up the day.

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Bonus: it also happened to be the 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, so it was beautiful.

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Bonus bonus: I just loved this photo I took of a building in China.

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Day 4 – Magic Kingdom

It’s the mother of all Disney parks, right? The park.

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So excited! We loved exploring all of the areas, including the little circus section (which I had no clue existed). Plus, we had some yummy food on this day, too. What can I say? We like to eat.

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Nutella, strawberry, and banana waffle from Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square

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Pot roast macaroni and cheese (highly recommended) from the Friar’s Nook in Fantasyland

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And a Mickey-shaped ice cream (vanilla with milk chocolate shell), which you can get basically anywhere  It’s irresistibly cute and delicious.

Day 5 – Universal Studios

On this day, we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because that’s where I want to live.

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Can I move to Diagon Alley yet?

All in all: a perfect vacation. Beautiful weather, a playful resort, and so much fun every single day. I’m happy. And I’m already trying to figure out a way to go back.

5 Things I Learned About Lauren Conrad at Her Book Signing

I met Lauren Conrad on March 30 at her signing at R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., for her latest book, “Celebrate.” I’ve been a huge fan of Lauren since high school. I’ve seen every episode of “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” multiple times and I own all of her books. (Her series, L.A. Candy, is totally underrated and spilled some very juicy gossip about the filming of “The Hills”!)

I highly recommend her other books, “Style” and “Beauty” (the first of which is my favorite), and I’m excited to really dig in to her latest book, which offers advice for being the perfect hostess no matter the occasion.

Here’s what I learned about the lovely LC at her book signing.

1. She is stunning.

Truth: I’ve never seen a bad photo of Lauren Conrad. She is so pretty and, in person, she’s somehow even prettier.

2. She is kind.

I won’t lie: it took about three hours of waiting before I could meet Lauren. And that was because she insisted on talking to each person and posing for individual photos, in addition to personally addressing each person’s book. According to the clerks at R.J. Julia (a very cute independent bookstore that often plays host to these celebrity book signings), this is kind of unusual. I really appreciated it, though.

3. Her cateye makeup is FLAWLESS.

To die for, really.

4. She’s still figuring out that whole Snapchat thing.

I tried to think of something clever to say when I got up to meet Lauren, but I blanked and ended up blurting out that I was “obsessed” with the fact that she recently joined Snapchat. It probably has a little something to do with the fact that I myself only recently discovered Snapchat, too. To that, she mentioned that she…

  • Was still figuring out the best ways to use Snapchat
  • Wasn’t sure if she was really a fan because it required her to really focus on her phone and instead of being in the moment (a sentiment I could appreciate)
  • Felt Snapchat was a “young kids'” scene
  • Wasn’t sure she’d stick around on it

And then she thanked me for the compliment. And I died.

5. She’s tiny.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this, but I do. She was so much tinier than I thought she’d be. Not that I thought she’d be tiny at all? And I guess that’s why it surprised me. I got up to her and thought, “I could probably pick her up and carry her out of here right now and not even break a sweat,” which was a very weird thought that I’m now embarrassed about. But it is what it is.

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xo.

Dog-Friendly Meat Muffins Recipe

My dog, Obi, turned four years old on March 16. It wouldn’t have been a proper birthday without a treat just for him. I made a version of this recipe by Doggy Dessert Chef. (Last year, I made Obi this Rachael Ray recipe for “mighty muffins.”) I don’t think Obi is particular about what kind of meat he gets, as long as he gets it.

Dog-Friendly Meat Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of ground beef (I used 90/10)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Thoroughly mix ground beef, egg, oats, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
  3. Roll mixture into six 2″ balls and put into muffin tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Let cool, then serve.

Your dog will thank you.

 

2015 in Review and 2016 Resolutions

I usually get to the end of the year and think of all the ways it was rude to me. But this year, I’m thinking of all the ways life was good to me.

In 2015, I…

 

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And a few of my favorite selfies of 2015!

In 2016, I vow…

…Not to take myself too seriously. Honestly, I’m not as big on resolutions as my dog is.

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New year, new me!

Instead, here are a few (vague) things I’d like to work toward in 2016.

  • Read 25 books
  • Get (more) active
  • Take a more photos (and work in a few outfits of the day!)
  • Budget my money!!!
  • Focus on gaining experiences instead of things
  • Travel

What about you? Was 2015 good to you? And what are you hoping to do in 2016?

10 Days in Paradise

It’s not every day you get to go on an island vacation in December. Bill and I were lucky enough to spend some time with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend on a 10-day cruise, which stopped in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortola.

Turns out I’m all about wearing a bathing suit in December. Here’s a look back on our trip.

The Perfect Wedding

I’ve never been the kind of girl who spent her days dreaming of the perfect wedding. I dreamt of the perfect mate, and of all of the wonderful stuff that came ever-after, but the wedding, to me, was not important. Even as a teenager, writing stories where I could write literally anything I wanted into existence, I always skipped right past the wedding scene.

Not because I’m against weddings. No, not at all. Weddings have the potential to be beautiful, magical, wondrous occasions, and I am thrilled and honored whenever I’m asked to celebrate the love between two people I care about.

But for me, the perfect wedding was small. Really small. Just me-and-you small, and nothing fancy. On that, we agreed.

So our day went a little like this.

It was June 17, 2015. Our nine-year anniversary. Truthfully, we were both stressed—not about our impending nuptials, but because we’d just lost out on what we felt was our dream home. We were days away from being temporarily homeless. Nothing felt like it was going right.

And yet, we were surer about getting married than anything else. It had been a long time coming. We’d talked about getting married as early as a month into dating. We were just kids then, but we knew.

It was a Wednesday. We were nervous. The sun was shining, the sky was blue. We stopped by city hall first, the one in East Lyme. We filled out the paperwork. It felt silly and scary all at the same time. We kept thinking we were going to mess something up.

When we didn’t, we felt relieved, shared some nervous laughter, and went to the beach.

We pulled up to Hole-In-The-Wall in Niantic, Conn., the one where we’d been so many times before, where we celebrated anniversaries, and where we’d gotten engaged. We weren’t dressed properly—we hadn’t wanted our families to know we were up to anything when we left that morning—and we ducked into the changing rooms to swap clothes.

Then we emerged, all giggly and nervous, you in a crisp button-up and khakis, me in a glittering dress. We’d seen each other before; I made you tell me I looked okay in my dress. (Is this okay? Are you sure? No, really, are you sure I look okay?) No superstitions here. Then we waited for the justice of the peace to show up; we hadn’t met him yet, but he had a great name (Ernest) and he was kind and reassuring. When he pulled up in his car, we officially introduced ourselves, then motioned to the beach. Shall we?

On the beach, we felt the sand beneath our toes, and we tried not to laugh while we read our vows. They were the kind of vows thousands of other couples have probably read to each other, and they were lovely, but they were not our vows.

Our vows are the ones we say to each other every day in the big and little ways we show each other we care. You say your vows every time you let me peacefully sleep during a long car ride. Or when you look at me and unexpectedly tell me I’m beautiful. Or when you pretend that you’re full and give me the last bite of the dessert. Or when you help me with deep breathing when I’m overwhelmed. Or when you embrace me when I’m feeling sad.

I hope you know I say my vows every time I rub the back of your head to lull you to sleep. Or when I squeeze your knee while you’re driving. Or when I reach for your hand when we’re walking together. Or when I make a fool of myself just to make you laugh. Or when I erupt into laughter because you’re the funniest person I know.

We grin through the vows, and through everything, really. We’d probably giggle doing anything that feels as serious as this, because we’re not, you and I. We would rather be laughing over just about anything than be caught taking ourselves too seriously. So it’s fitting that even our short ceremony is filled with lots of laughter and smiling. And it’s okay that we feel a little silly during it, because there’s this moment, too, right in the middle—maybe as we’re exchanging rings, though I can’t exactly remember now—where we look at each other and it’s all so real. We’re doing this. We’re getting married.

And then we’re husband and wife, and we kiss, and it feels weird to do it in front of someone else, so we laugh through that, too. And we know this much: we wouldn’t have it any other way—just you, me, the beach, and laughter.

xo.

Home Sweet Home

It was a long, imperfect search, but we did it: we closed on a house.

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When the seller backed out on the first home we attempted to purchase, we were devastated. It didn’t seem possible to continue the search, let alone have to start all over again, from square one, and be out several thousand dollars. (We are still out several thousand dollars, and now we have to go to court. But that’s another story for another time.)

It felt pretty magical, then, when we visited this adorable cape on the first day of our “new” home search. We loved it instantly.

But it seemed convenient. Did we actually love this place? Or did we just think we loved it, because we were tired of looking, angry from what had just happened, and desperate to get into another house?

Bill and I almost didn’t pursue this house because we were a little worried what others might think–that they’d be convinced we were rushing into things. But when we found out the price of the home, coupled with the fact that our real estate agent knew the family who was moving, it felt kind of right. We went for it.

At the start of July, we put in an offer, and thanks to our incredible real estate agent, Ed, things seemed to go off without a hitch. We closed on the house Friday, Aug. 14. (Insert house emoji here!)

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(If you’re looking for a home in the Western Massachusetts area, please let me know. I’d love to send you to Ed!)

So right now: the house is a mess. One of the walls in the living room is half painted. I’m writing while sitting on a couch cushion (no couch), using a dining room chair (no dining room table) as my desk. But life is pretty goddamn good.

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xo.

Office Space: Gold Edition

I’m not saying my office is the best… but it kind of is. It’s been a nice little sanctuary these last few weeks while my home life was less-than-stable. Also: let’s hope I never get sick of gold.

Here’s where you can get some of the same items I have in my office.

  • Gold Polka Dot Decals: Etsy, $10
  • Gold Mirror: Target, $24.99 (no longer available)
  • White Lamps: Target, $14.99
  • Eat Cake for Breakfast Art and Frame: Homegoods, $7.99
  • Today Is The Best Day Ever Art: Homegoods, $16.99
  • For Like Ever Art: Homegoods, $16.99
  • Treat Yo Self Art: Etsy, $24.95
  • At-Symbol Wood Carving: Etsy, $7.50
  • Hashtag Wood Carving: Etsy, $7.50
  • Kelly Kapoor Bobblehead: NBC Store, $6.99 (no longer available)
  • Ampersand Coaster: Etsy, $4.72
  • Emoji Art: Handmade
  • Gold Owl Pin: Homegoods, $4
  • Write/Edit Mug: Handmade (here’s how you can make your own)

BTW, here’s what my office looked like when I first started this job.

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It’s incredible what a little decor can do.

xo.