Things I Wore (and Did) in September 2017

September makes me think of new beginnings. For that reason, the month brings me comfort.

I kicked off this month with a visit from my mom, who was in from California. It was so nice to see her, though hard to say goodbye! With her and my grandma, Bill and I visited my little brother in Boston. We wanted to see his new place (beautiful) and also to see him because we don’t get to see him enough. It was a fun day in the city and he was an awesome host.

In September, I also spent time with friends eating good food and drinking wine (obviously), for which I was grateful. Bill and I visited the Big E—him for work, and me to watch him work. The Big E is a giant fair with tons of food and it’s essentially mandatory for everyone in the Connecticut/Western Massachusetts area to attend at least once every year. We did and, for the first time ever, we watched a burger-eating competition. The winner ate 52 burgers in 10 MINUTES. It was so gross and I don’t ever want to watch it again, but what an experience, right? (Fun fact: I was once in a buffalo wing eating competition for charity! Our team lost.)

And, of course, Bill and I visited DragCon NYC and spend the weekend in New York.

Here are some of the outfits I wore.

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The only appropriate thing to wear on Beyonce’s birthday is a #LEMONADE-inspired dress.

Outfit details

  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

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I didn’t actually wear this dress yet, but COME ON. How great is it?! In October, Bill and I will be attending a spooky rendition of Sleepy Hollow and I’m hoping to wear this AMAZING Halloween dress.

Outfit details

  • Dress: Amazon.com

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Outfit details

  • Blazer: Target
  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Shoes: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Shoes: A gift from my beautiful grandma

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Aside from my Converse shoes, I’ve never had a pair of sneakers I felt super cute in. This solved that! I splurged on some Nike Rosche Twos, which are stylish and comfortable. (The only problem is they got dirty quick. Wish me luck in trying to clean them!)

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Nike

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I love, love, love this RuPaul’s Drag Race dress from RedBubble. It was the perfect outfit for DragCon NYC, and the queens I met all seemed to love it.

Outfit details

  • Dress: RedBubble
  • Jacket: Marshall’s
  • Shoes: DSW

And, some things I did this month!

 

Thanks, September, for being good to me!

xo.

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Things I Wore (and Did) in August 2017

Sometimes life goes by faster than you realize and, before you know it, it’s mid-September and you haven’t posted your August outfits yet. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In truth, August is not one of my favorite months, as by then, summer has gone on a touch too long for me. I get tired of the heat and find myself getting antsy for some cooler weather. Also, politically, life is a real shit show right now, so I’m just trying to make it through.

Work-wise, August was a busy month, a month in which I started to really sink my teeth in at my new job and lead my first big project. It was exciting, terrifying, stressful, and rewarding, and I’m glad to have done it.

Bill and I had a few adventures, too, the most notable being our wonderful weekend getaway with our dog, Obi! We also ate some delicious food (as we always do), celebrated our two year anniversary in our beautiful home, and made the most of the rest of our summer. Independently, I met up with my old colleagues and enjoyed the incredible solar eclipse that reminded me that it’s important to look around and appreciate the world around you every now and then.

Here are some of the things I wore and did, in photos!

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I became obsessed with these dresses in August, so much so that I ended up with three of them in different colors. This hot pink, Barbie-inspired dress is so flattering and easy to wear. I love it!

Outfit details

  • Dress: Amazon.com
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Top: Amazon.com
  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Shoes: DSW
  • Cranky expression: Yours truly

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This dress is Barbie pink dress’s best friend! Isn’t it lovely in navy, too?

Outfit details

  • Dress: Amazon.com
  • Shoes: Target
  • Necklace: Target

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Not quite a traditional outfit pic, but I do love this dress. It served me so well this summer.

Outfit details

  • Dress: Target
  • Shoes (not pictured): Target

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: LuLaRoe Perfect T
  • Skirt: LuLaRoe Cassie
  • Shoes: DSW

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This is an Eeyore onesie because I deserve it.

Outfit details

  • Eeyore Onesie: Target

And, some things I did (in photo form!).

xo.

It’s Not Personal—It’s Drag(Con NYC)

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: I. LOVE. RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE.

In April, I was lucky enough to attend my first-ever RuPaul’s DragCon, where I experienced the magic of drag in person and got to meet one of my favorite queens, Trixie Mattel.

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Met my fave queen, Trixie Mattel

It was also my first real convention experience, so it was overwhelming in all its beauty and excitement and taught Bill and I a lot about what to expect for DragCon NYC.

We splurged on the VIP option and honey, ohhh honey, it was worth it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself because we kicked off the weekend with another drag-related event: the Hater’s Roast!

Haters Roast

Haters Roast took place at the Beacon Theater on Friday Night. The event featured queens as they shaded, insulted, and joked about one another. (Think Comedy Central roast.) The event featured Jinkx Monsoon, Trixie Mattel, Thorgy Thor, Kim Chi, Phi Phi O’Hara, Darienne Lake, and Ginger Minj as host. Latrice Royale, who was supposed to be there, was unfortunately stuck, but safe, in Florida due to Hurricane Irma (but she Facetimed in during the show to say hello!).

We’d been to one other Murray & Peter show before, War on the Catwalk, and we loved it. Haters Roast was amazing, too! We loved seeing the queens say horrible things about one another. The RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes that feature roasts, as well as the show’s Reading is Fundamental challenge, are some of my favorites, so this was an event made for me.

I was expecting solid performances from most of these queens, and they all delivered—but Thorgy Thor stole the show! It was her first time performing in this type of format with the other queens and she was going on 40 hours of being awake, but she killed it. I could not stop laughing at her very clever jokes.

Other fun things about the show:

  • It was great hearing Trixie’s scream-laugh in person.
  • Latrice Royale missed the show but was able to FaceTime in, which I loved.
  • Several queens who were going to attend DragCon were at the show in the audience, including Ivy Winters, Jiggly Caliente (who was invited up on stage to sit in Latrice’s empty seat), Mrs. Kasha Davis, and Naomi Smalls.
  • I stood RIGHT NEXT TO Naomi Smalls in the lobby, but I drank too much and got too scared to go up and say hello so tripped my way back to my seat.

It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend.

DragCon NYC: Day 1

There’s nothing better than being VIP at DragCon. Nothing! Although VIP at the NYC con was quite a bit more expensive than VIP in LA (which we did not get), it did include several additional perks, including a tote bag with a sweatshirt, enamel pin, button, patch, VIP lanyard, and a surprise that I didn’t even realize was part of it until I got home… scroll down for details.

As VIP, you’re allowed into the con 30 minutes before everyone else. If you use your 30 minutes wisely, this can easily be the best part of your day!

But before we were let in, we waited in line and anxiously watched queens as they arrived: Ongina, Acid Betty, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, India Ferrah, Mariah Balenciaga. They all looked stunning and each queen I saw made me more nervous and excited to get on that pink carpet.

Then they let us in. The thing about being VIP is you’re there so early that lines to meet the queens don’t really exist yet. Which means you can just walk up to a queen’s booth and meet them—incredible and terrifying!

We walked right by a few booths to sort out our nerves before finding Bob the Drag Queen’s booth and hopping in line. While most queens required a purchase in order for you to meet them, Bob didn’t require anything for VIPs; you could just get in line and meet him.

But with Bob’s assistant, Luis, in charge of the merch table, how could you not buy something?! My husband and I ended up with two Bob pins; a Bob shirt; and a Luis print. Luis was so, so sweet and graciously signed a print for me and the shirt for my husband. I wish we’d thought to ask for a photo, but we didn’t. Instead, we got in line to meet Bob and about 10 minutes later IT WAS OUR TURN.

Meeting Bob the Drag Queen was magical. First, her outfit was on point, and she was serving beautiful, mesmerizing clown realness. Second, she was hilarious and amazing and stunning and I’m gushing and I don’t care.

Bob called me beautiful and said the dress I was wearing was fierce and asked me what it said. I told her it was a dress from RedBubble that depicted the iconic Aja/Valentina fight on Untucked. (“You’re perfect, you’re beautiful, you’re a model…”) and she laughed and said she loved it.

I told her I loved her nails and she said, “Do you want to hear a story about these nails?” And then told me the nails were the ones Alexis Michelle wore in her promo video for season 9. Bob asked to borrow them and never gave them back, to which I said of course because they really were dope nails. I asked her to sign a photo for me and she did, then apologized for her writing looking like a serial killer’s. I love Bob.

It was my husband’s turn to meet her next and she greeted him by saying, “Hey, I heard you were Crystal’s husband?” which made me die a thousand times because BOB KNEW MY NAME.

Bob and Bill talked about signing merch and how it’s weird that some fans ask queens to sign merch that actually represents other queens. Bill was equally thrilled by his interaction with one of his favorite queens.

Meeting Bob left us both flying high and we took a few minutes to recover before wandering over to Cynthia “Cucu” Lee Fontaine‘s booth. Given that it was still within the VIP-only window, her line was relatively short. We bought a bracelet and a drink koozie, which Cynthia branded as a #cucuzie (amazing). 

When it was my turn to meet Cynthia, I told her she was beautiful and I loved her and she gave me a hug. She thanked me for coming and also told me she loved my dress (!!) and pointed at it and said, “Ooh, I see Valentina!” and I showed her Aja and said, “Yes, it’s from their fight!” and she was so so sweet. She gave me another hug and then we posed for a photo and she asked if I was going to be back the next day because she was really, really excited about her outfit. I said yes, that I couldn’t wait to see it, and thanked her for being such an incredible, supportive queen. She hugged me again and said it was her pleasure, proving that Cynthia is the most deserving Miss Congeniality of all time.

When it was my husband’s turn to meet Cucu, she grabbed his chest (!!) and said, “I just love touching…” and then posed with him like they were at prom. IT WAS AMAZING.

We were both reeling from the excitement of meeting two queens we loved, so we spent the rest of the con walking around, buying merch, ogling over queens, and checking out the runway. We stopped by Ru’s booth (but the line was so, so long) and admired all of her beautiful gowns on display and her Emmy, which I took a photo with.

We also saw the entrance show by the winning queens (and as they left the stage, a ton of queens walked right by us, including the nearly-nude Violet Chachki) and we caught Joanne the Scammer‘s show on the runway, which was honestly truly ICONIC.

No panels for us, but we did do a few things after leaving the con:

  • We visited Wrecking Club, a demolition room which allows you to smash glasses and break things FOR FUN while your favorite music is playing. We loved it and smashed a bunch of things while listening to Frank Ocean.
  • We trekked along the High Line, a “linear park” that takes you above the city and lets you see it from a new angle. Beautiful views and it was nice to check this one off our bucket list!
  • Ate dinner at Shake Shack because of course.

DragCon NYC: Day 2

I MET PEPPERMINT, Y’ALL.

She is just as stunning and perfect in real life as you’d imagine.

Her booth was lovely and candy-inspired and her staff were honestly really funny and energetic and fun. But it was all about Pep. We hopped into her line first thing (although I wandered around while my husband graciously waited in line and met a few other queens, which I’ll get back to in a minute) and her team told us she’d be there at 10, which was “a drag queen’s 10:30.” She ended up arriving closer to 11 but IT DID NOT MATTER BECAUSE PEP IS PERFECT.

Watching her walk in was like what I imagine it’s like watching an angel descend from the heavens, except Pep’s hair is bigger and her outfits are more fierce. Obviously.

I was third in line to meet her and she was SO sweet and warm and welcoming and gave me a big hug, called me beautiful (this is all going to go straight to my head), and I told HER she was beautiful. She gave me a hug (!) and then we posed, dahling, while the wind whipped in our hair. As you can see from the photo below, my hair was not loving the wind but not a strand in Peppermint’s is out of place because she’s fucking Peppermint. I thanked her so, so much and THEN SHE GAVE ME AN AIR KISS.

The best part was probably Pep’s interaction with my husband. We bought her album earlier and he got her to sign it to “Bubby”, a nickname we both call one another, so that was very sweet. But Bill was respectful and didn’t want to touch queens without asking, so would stand away and take a photo next to them. Pep laughed and told him to get closer and then put her arms around him! The smile in his photo is everything. (Our professional photos will be available soon, too.)

As I mentioned, while we were waiting for Pep, I slipped out of line and met with two other queens. First was Jaymes Mansfield, who was adorable. When I told her she looked beautiful she said, “Thank you, but I know.” Perfect.

Then I visited Mimi Imfurst‘s booth. I was obsessed with her outfit! She was dressed as a handmaid from The Handmaid’s Tale. I told her her look was one of my favorites of the weekend and she laughed and told me she could hardly see a thing—then let me try on her hat!!! It was so surreal. Mimi was very sweet and down-to-earth and I honestly loved chatting with her. After I purchased a poster from her, she even through in a personalized signed a photo for me and wrote “Peace be with you” (a phrase from the book). It was great!

After meeting Pep, my husband wanted to go grab something to drink, so I got in line to meet Kimora Blac. Kimora is fucking stunning in person and she told me she loved my dress! She said she loved the material it was made out of it and I told her it was from Amazon.com and she high-fived me and called me Prime Fish, which is my new favorite thing. She was very personable and gave compliments freely!

Lastly, we checked out autograph alley, where I met none other than Britney Spears Derrick Barry. Derrick changed my life forever by telling me that when people ask how to spell my name, I should just say, “Crystal—like Swarovski.”

I had SO MUCH FUN at DragCon and I really, really hope Ru continues to bring it to NYC. I loved being a VIP so much and would absolutely do it again next year, especially because I went through the swag bag when I got home and discovered AN AUTOGRAPHED PHOTO FROM MAMA RU HERSELF. I can’t wait to hang this up in the house!

I love you, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Thanks for loving me back!

xo.

Weekend Getaway to the Connecticut Shoreline with Our Dog

Summertime gives me a serious case of FOMO. I scroll through everyone’s lavish photos from their elaborate vacations and I want to be there, too. That feeling has been elevated lately with the current political climate keeping my husband and me at our wit’s end, and with new jobs for the two of us (AKA no time off in the foreseeable future). We found ourselves both almost surprise-booking a weekend getaway on the same day. So we decided we needed to just do it and try for something low-key. One caveat: we wanted to take our dog with us.

We managed to cobble together a dog-friendly weekend on the Connecticut shoreline, which made for our dog’s first vacation ever (!).

I think the weekend was exactly what we needed. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect (despite the forecast in the early week calling for thunderstorms all weekend) and we got to try a few new things, too.

On Saturday, we left the house early and went straight to New London, where we caught a ferry to Fisher’s Island (part of New York). I’d never heard of it before, but it was recommended on BringFido.com as very dog-friendly, with shops, places to eat, and beaches to walk along, so we figured: why not?

The ferry ride over offered some beautiful views, as did the island. But Fisher’s Island is a very small town… which unfortunately means there’s hardly anything to do. The walk to “downtown” took about 20 minutes and, when we got there, there was only one place to eat (a market and not a restaurant), a couple of shops with knick knacks in it, and an ice cream shop. It was super residential and not so tourist-friendly. Overall, the island is very pretty, but doesn’t offer much substance.

Once we were back in Connecticut, we drove to Mystic, where we stopped at the Jealous Monk for dinner and drinks. We take our annual anniversary trip down to the Niantic/Mystic area and we’d been waiting for this place to open for two years, so it was exciting to finally go! Their beer garden was awesome, the food was delicious, and they even offered a make-your-own s’mores option for dessert (which is always a resounding HELL YES in my book). Then we settled into the hotel and called it a night.

We started the next day with some breakfast at Muddy Waters Cafe, where we got breakfast sandwiches, a bagel and lox, and a cinnamon bun because it was vacation and we deserved it. The views of the glittering ocean from the patio of the cafe did not hurt one bit.

After breakfast, we went to Harkness Memorial Park, which is easily becoming one of my favorite places to visit. It’s part park, part conservatory, part beach, and it offers views of beautiful gardens, too. When the weather is good and there’s a beautiful breeze (like it was today), it’s everything. Doesn’t really get much better than being with the person and dog you love looking out at the ocean.

We wrapped the afternoon with a picnic lunch at Jonathan Edwards Winery. Then we went home, I took a long nap, and now we’re binge-watching “Insecure.” I’m about it.

Here are some photos from this weekend.

xo.

Outfits of June 2017

June is one of my favorite months. It’s still the not-quite-too-hot part before summer starts, but there are plenty of warm days that are perfect for lounging around outside or going to the beach.

Plus, my anniversary is in June. On June 17, my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and our eleventh year being together. I did a lot of other things in June, too, some lovely (met a friend’s new baby; got an exciting new job (details soon!); accomplished a huge writing goal) and not-so-lovely (said farewell to my family’s first dog, Tiny).

Here is a glimpse into what I wore.

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The most important thing to know about this outfit is that this skirt has pockets—and I can fit tons of things in them, like staplers and notebooks and tumblers. (Pockets get me so excited I spent the whole day in the office showing them off.)

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy (looove the low back on this; will take pics next time!)
  • Skirt: Ross
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Marshall’s
  • Skirt: LuLaRoe Maxi
  • SHoes: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Dress: 25 Central
  • Shoes: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Skirt: LuLaRoe Cassie
  • Shoes: DSW

Also, peep the way my toenails and nails match my skirt and shirt.

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Amazon.com
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: LuLaRoe Perfect T
  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Payless

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This is tied for my favorite outfit of the month. I felt so confident in this look!

Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe Julia
  • Kimono: Amazon.com
  • Shoes: Payless

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Also tied for favorite outfit of the month, and another I felt beautiful wearing. I wasn’t a big fan of the cold shoulder look, but this dress is so beautiful I got it in two colors (this dusty rose and a cream color; I also dyed a third version of this dress red, not kidding).

Outfit details

  • Dress: Target
  • Shoes (not pictured): Target

Here are some photos from my life in June, too.

xo.

Outfits of May 2017

May was full of incredible adventures and, looking back, I still can’t believe how much I managed to pack in there.

My husband and I took a trip to California and the moment we got back, I attended a baby shower for one of my good friends (and the shower my lady girl gang from work!). I got my hair cut (!), worked a graduation, turned 29, and celebrated my birthday with family, friends, and my husband, who had a thrilling weekend planned for me.

Here’s what I wore. I originally wanted a Minnie Mouse-inspired dress to wear to Disneyland, but the one I ordered (sadly) didn’t fit. So I had to improvise. I wanted something cute and feminine, but I still wanted to be comfortable. This worked out well!

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Skirt: Forever 21
  • Shoes: DSW (Converse)
  • Minnie Mouse ears: Disney World

You can’t see this outfit up close, but I love these photos, so I had to include them! My husband, my parents, and I traveled on a deserted road to get to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, so we stopped to snap some photos.

Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe Nicole
  • Shoes: Payless

This outfit served me well at Hearst Castle and at Montano de Oro beach. I DIE for this shirt, which is a reference to both the Coolio song and one of my favorite movies, “Clueless.”

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Ross (I’m OBSESSED. Why don’t we have any in Massachusetts?!)
  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Shoes: DSW

Outfit details

Shirt: Old Navy

Skirt: Forever 21

Shoes: DSW


Outfit details

  • Shirt: H&M (my new fave shirt)
  • Jeans: Marshall’s
  • Shoes: Payless

How beautiful are the women in my lady girl gang?!

Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe Nicole
  • Shoes: Payless

This was the last photo of me with my long hair!

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Leggings: LuLaRoe
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

New hair! It was a bit shorter than I asked for (I asked for my hair to stay below my shoulders), but I’m getting used to it.

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Marshall’s
  • Skirt: Forever 21
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Shoes: Payless

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Skirt: Ross
  • Shoes: Payless

Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe Amelia (my first!)
  • Cardigan: Gift from my mom
  • Shoes: Payless

Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Jacket: TJ Maxx
  • Shoes: Payless

And here’s a peek at my incredible birthday weekend (and the days leading up to it). My husband planned a surprise weekend, which he revealed to me through a series of riddles given to me each day leading up to it. It was so incredibly creative and romantic and it got me even more pumped for a wonderful weekend. We visited an arcade; went out to dinner; stopped by a brewery; I got my nails done; we went to a vineyard; visited Mystic; and ate all kinds of delicious foods. My friends and family were wonderful to me, too. I’m so lucky.

xo.

A Perfect Week in California

I’m so fortunate to be able to travel as much as I have, especially recently. My husband and I recently took a trip to California—the first for him, and the second for me—so we could spend time with my parents.

OK, fine: and also attend RuPaul’s Dragcon.

We started our trip in LA, where we had lots of fun but also realized we’ll never move there (that! traffic!). We visited The Broad, watched the sun set at Griffith Observatory (where we saw the freaking moon through a telescope), explored Sunset Boulevard, spent time in the Arts District, and had a weekend filled with DRAG QUEENS.

YOU GUYS. I still can’t believe how much fun I had. This past winter, my husband and I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and immediately became obsessed. We flew through seasons 4-8 (we are catching up on seasons 1-3 currently) and that’s pretty much all I think about now.

So, we were excited to have the opportunity to attend RuPaul’s DragCon in LA. Although we weren’t able to attend many panels (the most sought-after panels required VIP tickets), we saw some of our favorite queens, including Trixie Mattel (who we met and who is so, so, so sweet), Katya, Alaska 5000, Jinkx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Violet Chachki, Alyssa Edwards, Peppermint, Adore Delano, Ginger Minj, Courtney Act, and many more. Peppermint almost bumped into me, y’all. (And I made a surprise appearance in the Rupaul DragCon round-up videos.) I’m chomping at the bit to snatch up some NYC DragCon tickets. My husband and I also managed to score tickets to Katya’s Birthday Funeral Bash, which was held at PEG the Store on Sunday night. It was incredible to see these queens I admired do their thing and perform live. Ah!

After our drag queen-filled weekend, we visited Disneyland for the first time (a treat because Disney is our happy place) and then we traveled to Bakersfield, where we spent the rest of the week with my parents. It had only been two months since I’d seen them but it felt like forever, so I was grateful to visit with them again. They are the most incredible hosts, the kind that really make you feel at home, and they made sure we had an adventure-filled vacation, doing all the major planning and driving. I can’t thank them enough for the incredible time we had.

Together, the four of us revisited places like Lake Ming and Ross (my favorite store), and explored a few new places (as least new to me and Bill!) including Lake Isabella, Hearst Castle, Montaña de Oro, Antelope Valley, and Sequoia National Park. California is such a magical, breathtaking place, and I hope I can go back soon.

xo.

Weekend Trip to Portland, Maine

For Christmas last year, my husband and I decided that we wanted to gift each other with weekend trips. It was our way of trying to get away from some material things (given that more and more stuff seems to be finding its way into our house) and try to spend our money on “experiences” instead.

This weekend, we took our first trip—my gift to Bill—and we traveled to Portland, Maine. Portland is typically a summer spot, but I thought it might be nice (and less crazy!) to visit it in the winter.

We had two days to explore and we mostly ate, drank, shopped, and admired art. It was fantastic.

Here are a few photos!

Can’t wait for our next weekend trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

xo.

California Adventures

I love California. I can say it definitively now although I always had a hunch I would enjoy it and I’ve technically only seen a small part of it. But still.

I was lucky enough to travel to Bakersfield with my grandma to visit my parents. It’s the first time I’ve seen them both since July, which is the longest I’ve ever gone without visiting with them. I’ve missed them a lot, so this was a treat.

It may have only been a four-day trip, but we made the absolute most of it, thanks to my parents being the best tour guides. In all, we traveled more than 1,500 miles, and we…

  • Traveled to Redondo Beach, where I got to put my toes in the sand and wade into the Pacific Ocean for the first time
  • Visited Griffith Observatory at night, where I saw the Hollywood sign, took in the views of LA at night, and got to see a breathtaking view of the moon (the GODDAMN moon, guys!)
  • Hiked around Lake Ming. It’s located in my parents’ town and is a beautiful place where my dad takes two of their dogs, Reilly and Lexy, to burn off some of their energy. So, we took two trips and it was just my dad and his three girls: me, Reilly, and Lexy!
  • Saw peacocks at Hart Park in Bakersfield. How is it possible that peacocks just hang out in the park? There were also dozens of kitties who were friends with the peacocks, which was extra cute.
  • Went shopping at Ross. My mom is the best because she fully understands and appreciates my obsession with Ross, which we don’t have on the East Coast. So, she took us shopping and I got plenty of new things that I can’t wait to wear and post about!
  • Ate delicious food. We tried Creamistry (where they make ice cream with liquid nitrogen); Blaze Pizza (where you can order delicious personalized pizzas); and In N Out (a staple that I’d been dying to try for years); and some Krispy Kreme; but nothing compared to my mom and dad’s home cooking!
  • Traveled to Las Vegas to see the Backstreet Boys. What an amazing concert! I’ve loved the Backstreet Boys since I was a kid and I hope I do forever. To me, there is nothing like being in the audience, singing along to my favorite songs, dancing with girls like me who grew up on their music. Where else can I show off the fact that I still remember the choreography from “Everybody”? I had so much fun and I loved going with my grandma and my mom like when I was younger. I think they enjoyed themselves, too, especially my grandma, who was excited to see her love, Brian. (Shout out to my dad for doing that eight-hour drive to Vegas and not even attending the show.)
  • Took my parents’ RV—with all four dogs—up to Port San Luis Boat Yard and Avila Beach. It was chilly, but so much fun. We saw seals and sea otters (real ones! in nature!) and visited with my mom’s cousin, Debbie, and her husband, who drove out to see us. The girls (Reilly and Lexy) got to play on the beach with other dogs, and the humans got to enjoy some delicious smoked chicken made by my dad and some incredible rice made by my mom.
  • Drove up to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near Hearst Castle. It was amazing to see those seals up close and in their natural habitat. They were so cute! The drive up there was magnificent, too. We traveled through wine country and experienced views I couldn’t even dream up. It was the perfect way to end our trip.

Can’t wait to go back in May with my husband and do it all again!

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.