plus ones

plus ones

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a week, but I haven’t quite figured out how it’s going to go yet. So on this lovely Thursday morning you are getting a stream of consciousness. Averaging about 5.5 hours of sleep a night this week means this should be interesting.

I’ve been thinking about plus ones a lot lately. The plus ones that show up on your dinner party invite that shows up in your inbox or the wedding invitation sent to your front door. At what point do you start always giving somebody a plus one? At what point do you assume you’re getting a plus one? And at what point is it okay for you to start asking for a plus one?

I also want to preface this by saying that this is not a discussion of when you feel comfortable bringing a plus one to an event. For the purposes of the discussion below, it is assumed that your plus one is somebody that you would like to incorporate more into your life.

For the past few years I’ve always put plus ones included on invitations – I’ve prefaced it as boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés, fiancées, husbands, and wives are all more than welcome to join. More recently, I’ve realized that this should extend to friends as well – just in case it turns out someone doesn’t know anyone at a party because of how the RSVPs fall.

If you’re planning on showing up with a plus one, RSVP-ing is not optional. As far as I’m concerned RSVP-ing is never optional, but especially if you’re showing up with an additional guest. That alone could justify buying an extra bottle of alcohol or extra pound of pasta (depending on the people).

As somebody who’s been single for the majority of her life I definitely understand that there is a time and place to show up to things alone. Everybody doesn’t always want my plus one there – and quite frankly, I don’t always want my plus one there. The question is when is the right time?

I’m sure that the correct answer to this is to ask the host or hostess of the party. “Hey would you mind if I brought so-and-so along?” – but that might only work if you know the host pretty well, and it’s usually the parties that you don’t know the host very well that you probably feel like you need the plus one.

And then there are the couples that start dating where it automatically becomes known that the plus one gets an invite. And in the instance that you were originally friends with both parties, that’s an okay thing, but when you just want to see your friend there’s no real good way to navigate the conversation of “hey, can you come without so-and-so this time?” – I digress.

The same rule probably applies to family holidays. “Hey Aunt so-and-so, would you mind if I brought so-and-so along to the party?” – which I might try next year. In a family that doesn’t actually discuss relationships or real-life at holiday parties, it’s confusing to understand what the right point is to start bringing somebody along. And most of my invitations tend to come through my mother, so I never quite understand the lay of the land because I’m hearing everything third- or fourth-hand. I guess maybe Christmas would be a good time to mention that there is the possibility of me wanting a plus one for the next event.

And then we get to the wedding stuff. I don’t really care if I get a date to a wedding or not, at this point I’ve gone to a good number of them alone. I did, however, run into an awkward situation last year where I RSVPed multiple times with multiple answers about whether or not I was bringing a date based on the other RSVPs for the event. My goal is to never be that guest again.

I’m sure I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be. (Did you see my Circle of Brunch post earlier this week? You should have known it was hopeless from there.) It’s just uncharted territory right now and I’m not exactly sure how I should be navigating it.

I guess maybe this is why making it Facebook official is important, but that’s a story for another day.

So I ask you, when did you start bringing a date to things? Did you have to ask somebody or was it just understood that you would get an invite? Was there different protocol for taking a plus one to a family event vs. a friend event? And no, I won’t be offended if you tell me I’ve completely overthought this. What else is new?


PS. The winner of yesterdays’ greeting card giveaway was Kevin. I’ll send the card your direction tomorrow!

PPS. Enter tomorrow’s card giveaway to win this 2015 card by leaving a comment on this post. And let’s face it, I need the advice.

self portraits

December is a time that I tend to both consciously and subconsciously reassess my life. I figure out what the biggest accomplishments I had were in the past year and I try to decide what I want the biggest accomplishments next year should me. I look back and figure out what days I was at my best and what days I should have been trying a little bit harder. It is both awesome and a huge eye-opener.

I have a handful of posts that have been brewing in my brain about the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. 2014 was a year for downsizing and building a wardrobe. 2015 will be a year of budgeting. 2014 was as year for talking about life. 2015 will be a year about living life.

In honor of revisitng the past, I decided to finally pull together a top 10 self portraits of myself from high school. I can also 100% assure you the reason I have so many pictures from high school is because I watched too many America’s Next Top Model marathons. I would also like to say that I was doing the selfie thing before it was cool – or a real word. Some of these I can’t quite believe I’m putting on the internet, but I’m going to try not to think too hard about it.  So please enjoy some Lake Street Dive while you visit with 16-year-old Chrystina.

Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Dive on Grooveshark

High School Portraits_01
High School Portraits_02
High School Portraits_03
High School Portraits_04
High School Portraits_05
High School Portraits_06
High School Portraits_07
High School Portraits_08
High School Portraits_09
High School Portraits_10

Does everybody else have pictures like this of themselves from high school or is this just a me thing? I think that last picture would have gotten lots of points from Mr. & Ms. Jay, right? (Yeah, absolutely not, I know.) Maybe y’all just didn’t watch enough ANTM, you never know when in life you’re going to need to smize.

PS. Comment below for your chance to win a holiday card, the contest is only open today and you will win this You’re My Favorite card.

PPS. The winner of yesterday’s card is JC of Sweet Love & Ginger again. I think y’all are going to need to give her some competition today. (Not that I don’t love you, JC. Just, you know, doing business over here.)


the circle of brunch

Sunday Blogger Brunch

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I hosted a brunch at my house on Sunday for a handful of bloggers in the Philadelphia area. It was a potluck brunch and everybody brought a dish with them. Potlucks are always interesting because not only do you need to think of a dish to bring, but you also need to fit it into the menu that everybody is haphazardly creating as well. It’s up to the organizer to ensure that there’s a good enough variety of food to complete the spread.

Once people started asking what to bring I started brainstorming all of the possible ideas somebody to bring to brunch. There’s an incredible array of sweet to savory and a delicate balance of breads and non-breads. Once I started brainstorming, I started categorizing everything and I was able to develop The Circle of Brunch. That’s right. It’s epic enough that I put it all in capital letters.

Also, I don’t know what it says that I think like this. Don’t think about it too hard.

the circle of brunch

So, what do you think, did I miss anything? Comment below and you have a chance to win the Chrystina Noel Ugly Sweater Christmas Card. All you need to do is comment and you are enterred for a chance to win.


PS. The winner of yesterday’s card giveaway is JC from Sweet Love & Ginger! I’ll put it in the mail today, lady.


how to follow a blog


One of my best friends from middle school, Kristine, has been staying at my house for the better part of a week. She’s doing med school interviews – it is absolutely ridiculous how different her life is from mine. I could talk about social media all day and she could talk about surgery all day – so different.

Sunday I hosted a blogger brunch at my house and she got to crash the party, and she commented afterwards how awesome it is to hear how other people think. Things like publicizing posts and editorial calendars and freelancing costs are things that never cross her mind, but they’re things we think about all the time.

So, in honor of Kristine, I want to take it back a notch on this blog today. We’re going to talk about how to follow a blog, how to find blogs to follow, and how to be a good blog reader.

how to follow a blog

If you already have a blog you like to follow, here are some ways you can follow along.

rss feed
You can use a site like Bloglovin’ or Feedly to follow lots of blogs. You select which ones you want to follow, and then it tells you when there are new posts, all you need to do is remember to check the site. They’re both incredibly easy to use, are easy to search, and you can sort your blogs into categories. To choose between then, honestly, just go to each homepage and choose the style you like best, one’s a little more country, one’s a little more rock n’ roll.

how to follow blogs - bloglovin

A Bloglovin’ Screenshot

how to follow blogs - feedly

A Feedly Screenshot

I’ve been using Bloglovin’ for two yeras, but now after exploring Feedly a little bit to create some screenshots for this post I’m thinking about switching over because there are so many display options, I can make all of the photos the same compact size and shape, and the blogs listed on the left have icons next to them.

social media
Almost every blogger has his or her social media links somewhere on their page. You can follow people on twitter, facebook, instagram, Pinterest, google plus, and more. With each one of these you will get different content created by the blogger.

  • On twitter you will probably get post updates, witty thoughts, and articles people find interesting with more of a day-to-day vibe.
  • On facebook you will probably get post updates and conversation starters – usually with Facebook people try to build a community that people can get involved with. This isn’t a great way to stay up-to-date though because the facebook algorithms are constantly changing and a lot of our posts don’t ever actually show up on your feed.
  • On instagram you can get more insight into a person’s day-to-day life, but in pictures – if you’re a visual learner, this is for you.
  • On pinterest, you will be able to follow the person’s style.
  • If google plus is your thing bloggers would love for you to follow them on there because that ups their seach engine optimization authority (because google pretty much runs the internet world) – and don’t forget to +1 their posts. They’re all cool ways to follow along with what’s going on in a blogger’s world.

directly to your inbox
Lots of blogs have an option to have posts sent directly to your inbox on the side bar, all you need to do is type your email address in and you will get new posts sent directly to your inbox, you won’t even need to go find them.

A lot of bloggers have newsletters these days, it is one of the best ways to get the insider scoop on what is coming next in their world. These opt-ins can usually be found in the side-bar or footer of the page.

how to find blogs to follow

Any time you find a potential new blog to follow make sure that you read through a few posts of the person to see if you like his or her style of writing. Then once you do that, add them to your list or follow them on social media. Potentially consider categorizing them as “blogs to try” though and moving them to a more permanent category later. You can check out who I am following on Bloglovin’ here.  Here are three more ways to find more blogs to follow:

rss feed search
Go to Bloglovin’ or Feedly and type in a topic that you like to read about, and they will tell you exactly which blogs talk about those posts. And if you really have no idea where to start, Bloglovin’ has a top list and Feedly lets you personalize your search using your social media accounts if you scroll to the bottom of the page. Once you find a blog that you like, there will be a follow button on each respect Bloglovin’ and Feedly site.

google search
Type any topic you want to learn about with the word “blog” after it into google and I assure you something will come up.

on other blogs
Bloggers love to promote other bloggers’ work, so if you find one blogger that you really like make sure to check out their sidebar ads or see if they consistently list any bloggers, they’ll probably be worth checking out if you have the same style.

how to support bloggers

be interactive
Bloggers love when people comment. It’s a thing. We get really giddy every time. It doesn’t get old, I promise you. You can just say hello, you can say that you really liked something about a specific post, or you can say that you’d really like to learn more about something – bloggers love that because it gives them new ideas of what to post about.

share their content
Every time somebody shares a post it gets more views, it gets exposure to a new group of people, and it has more potential of going viral. We love that. We put a lot of work into creating content and we would love for as many people to see it as possible.

read this post
Click here. I’m not going to tell your more about how to support bloggers when Ashlee did an awesome job about it over at Where My Heart Resides. Check it out.


Alright. To all those non-bloggers out there – any further questions?

PS. Every day this week I will be giving away a holiday card from my shop to somebody who comments on the blog post on the day it is released. Comment below for your chance to win. Today’s card is the Merry Holiday card. Have at it.

PPS. The winner of a set of 5 postcards for filling out my reader survey is Emily of Her Philly. We’ll be in touch, lady.