Face Mask Review- Just in Time for Black Friday

Hey babes! I’m back, and this time I’m bringing you a week’s worth of reviews for facemasks. Winter is right around the corner, and nothing gets my goat more than having my makeup cracked and peeling on my face by noon because of dry skin.

BONUS: I’m posting this just in time to get in on some Black Friday + Cyber Monday sales! Check them out + let me know what you think – and if you have a favorite mask that wasn’t mentioned, PLEASE comment me with a link – I’m dying to get the most hydrated skin possible!

Day 1: JJ Young Pore Bubble Mask – $16.99 from CVS

The Rundown: 3.5 // 5 stars. Not super hydrating, but it definitely minimized my pores. And tbh, I really liked the bubbles. It’s the little things.

Day 2: JJ Young Pore Glow Mask – $14.99 from CVS

The Rundown: 3.75 // 5 stars. More hydrating than the first JJ Young mask that I used. Your skin will feel fresh after you use this – it reminds me of how the inside of your mouth feels after you use Listerine if that makes sense?

Day 3: Laneige Mini Pore Waterclay Mask – $25 from Sephora

The Rundown: 4.5 // 5 stars. I don’t find this to be that hydrating, but it amazing for cleaning out the dirt in your pores, and awesome for exfoliating.

            Garnier Skin Super Hydrating Facial Mask – $14.31 for a pack of 6 from Amazon

The Rundown: 3 // 5 stars. The mask is inexpensive, so you get what you pay for. If your’e in a bind, this will still add some moisture to your skin, but it feels more watery than lotion-y.

Day 4: Peach Slices Soothe Mask – $2.49 from CVS

The Rundown: 4 // 5 stars. I LOVE this new brand! I’ve tried a few other products from this company and continue to have a great experience. Very hydrating and relaxing.

Day 5: Sephora Rose Sleeping Mask – $4 from Sephora

The Rundown: 5//5 stars. This was easily my favorite! I woke up with my skin looking fresh + fabulous and basically glowed throughout the day. The only annoying thing is that your face is a little sticky before bed, but the payoff is worth it.

Day 6: Sephora Algae Sheet Mask – $6 from Sephora

The Rundown: 4 // 5 stars. Sephora does a great job with their sheet masks. They’re pricier than the other sheet masks I did this week, but I noticed my skin loved it.

 

 

 

Dear Diary: Anxiety is Really Hard

I was a freshman in college when I had my first anxiety attack.

I had no idea what was going on, which is pretty surprising, since my mom had struggled with anxiety and depressions when I was in high school, so I would’ve thought I’d be able to recognize what was happening. I remember sitting in my bed, watching something on Netflix and then all of a sudden, feeling a combination of nausea and having a hard time breathing. All of these panicky thoughts started flooding my head, and I immediately started crying. It’s hard to describe, but I know that many of you will recognize the feeling of your body freaking out and the additional panic you feel when you have no idea where it came from or why it’s happening.

I called my mom and, looking back on it, probably gave her a heart attack. I was sobbing and telling her I didn’t understand what was happening and that I couldn’t breathe – she was about 1,500 miles away, feeling nervous and helpless. She did her best to talk to me in a soothing voice and tell me matter-of-factly what was going on – she recognized immediately that I was having an anxiety attack and as a social worker, she went into medical-mode pretty quickly. She had one of my suitemates take me to the ER and told me exactly what to tell them so that they’d know how to help me. When she texted me an hour and a half later to check in and found out that I was still waiting, she went all mama bear and actually called the ER to yell at them! Some poor nurse came over and asked me if I was Amanda and when I said yes, she goes, “Uhm your mom just called, she was less than satisfied that you’ve been waiting for so long – we’re sorry about that, come with me.” I was mortified, and told her so. But she just smiled and said, “honey, your mom is worried that her baby is halfway across the country and in a fragile state of mind. She’s a good mom, she did what I would’ve done.” And that’s sort of when I realized that A) My mom is the shit. and B) I was going to be taken care of.

Since then, I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety. I would’ve say that I “suffer” from it – it doesn’t affect me every single day, and it’s (almost) never completely debilitating. There are definitely different levels of it, and I’m lucky that mine isn’t severe. A few months after my first attack, I went to my family doctor and was prescribed Ativan. I’m only prescribed 10 pills at a time, and I usually get a new prescription once a year. I try my best to only take them when it’s really bad, because I’m always super worried about becoming dependent on things and I don’t want to get myself into a sticky situation – if my doctor doesn’t feel like I need to be on it every day and neither do I, there’s no reason for me to do it. That does NOT mean that if you’re prescribed it every day that you shouldn’t take it – in fact, if your doctor is recommending you take a medicine and there’s nothing making you inherently uncomfortable with it, you should 100% make sure that you take it and that you take it every single day. There are too many people who stop taking it after only a couple of weeks because they say they’re not seeing a difference. It can take 4-8 weeks in some cases, but you have to give it time! Working with your doctor to find the right dosage and brand is so important.

As a 25 year old in NYC, there are plenty of things that add to my stress. I (and I’m sure many other 20-somethings) have a really hard time not worrying about my future. How am I furthering my career? How much money should I be saving? Why am I barely saving any money? Am I in a relationship that I want to be in for the rest of my life? Do I want to move? Do I want to stay? Am I too introverted? Am I too opinionated? It adds up. And the thing with anxiety attacks, which is really fucking annoying, is that they don’t need a reason to appear. You could be happy go lucky and then BAM, you’re hugging your knees to your chest and trying to breathe. Even when you’re just going through your day and not necessarily having an attack, you might have the creeping sense of it in your chest- I actually have it as I’m writing this post. In fact, that only reason I’m writing this post is because I have had the anxious feeling in my chest all week, and it won’t go away. So I’m hoping that this will be cathartic enough for me that I can go home and relax.

What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s ok to feel like this.

There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed by struggling with this. And actually, I sometimes feel like the more I’m open about it and relate with others about it, the better I feel. And for those of you who find it to be debilitating, I have something to say: When my mom was going through severe depression when I was in high school, I was one of the only people she would talk to about it. It’s really terrifying to hear someone who is your absolute everything say that they aren’t interested in life anymore, because you just want to scoop them up and tell them how much you love them and make it all better. But they hide it from so many people because of the stupid stigma of mental illness. So when we were in an airport, my mom saw a sign that meant so much to her at the time – it said, “You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to ‘just get over it’.” So I’m telling you – your feelings are valid, even if they’re less tangible than a physical disease. You matter. You are wanted. You are loved. And if you’re struggling to feel that way, send me a message. I want to listen.

Five Things That Help Me When I’m Feeling Anxious

  1. Being near someone. Even if I’m crying or a mess, being near someone who I know cares about me helps me. Whether it’s my mom and I’m laying my head in her lap while we watch re-runs of I Love Lucy, or its my best friend who knows I just need her to sit on the couch with me and not talk about (it talk about it endlessly), being near someone helps. It feels good to not feel alone.
  2. Crying it out. This may seem counter-intuitive to what would be helpful when you’re feeling anxious but for me, releasing my emotions is such a load off my shoulders. Sometimes the build-up of stress and heartache and worry gets to be too much and it causes your chest to feel like it’s going to burst but when you release it and just think to yourself, “yeah this really fucking sucks and I’m going to let myself feel how bad it sucks” it can end up helping 🙂
  3. Sleep – this is especially good after you’ve cried it out, because your body is freaking exhausted. Being emotional is HARD you guys! It takes a whole lot of energy, and getting a good night’s sleep can help you escape from it all and wake up with a fresh start.
  4. Meditating. Now bear with me, because up until last week, I’d never meditated in my life, and never thought I would. I’m not someone who enjoys yoga, and although I do like to relax, it’s more in the form of bad reality TV, candles, and a quart of ice cream rather than OHMMMMing for 20 minutes. But I downloaded a few different apps to try out because I was feeling the anxiety attack come on before bed, and I couldn’t bear to deal with it. My favorite one was called “Breathe”. In the app store, its icon is orange/red with a white cloud in the middle (if you’re looking for it). It asked you to record 5 emotions that you’re feeling (from a really long list that they provide) and then from there, it gives different meditation recommendations. I did a 3 minute anxiety reliever one and a 2 minute sleep one, and I felt better immediately and knocked out cold.
  5. Writing out your feelings. I’ve always wanted to be someone who keeps a journal, but I usually only write in mine when someone is bothering me, and then forget about it when I’m feeling good. I’ve found that when someone is giving me stress and I’m feeling an attack coming on, I start feeling better when I put pen to paper. Maybe it’s a letter to an ex-boyfriend with things you never got to get off your chest. Or maybe it’s a re-count of what’s been keeping you up at night, like your career, or that you’re worried about saving money for the future (I know that stuff bothers me frequently). Whatever it is, just do me one favor. The next time you feel it coming on, sit down and write out one page of what it is that’s bothering you. If you do this and you feel better, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

If you have any tips that you’d like to share with me, or just need someone to listen, please reach out. I mean it. xo, AJ

The Clinique Challenge

Hiiii babes! I’m so sorry I’ve been absent the last few weeks. No word of a lie, I’ve been pulling crazy hours at my office, often staying there until 10pm to make sure I’m keeping my head above water. There’s been a lot of transition at work for me lately, but I’m super excited about it! I’ve gone from working almost exclusively on The Bump (btw, I know more about strollers, baby carriers and breast pumps than I thought I ever would), to working with some really cool accounts on The Knot! Think Dyson, Crate & Barrel, Kohl’s etc. It’s a ton of work, but I’m so ready for it!

Anyways, I’ve put together this Vlog for you because I got dozens of messages after my beachy hair video to put another video together where I’m basically just talking to myself haha. TBH I feel super weird and like I’m being judged by everyone who walks by me thinking I’m taking excessive amounts of snapchats, but BYEEEE Felicia! (And also, if you’re one of the people who saw me talking to myself while staring at my camera, give ya girl a follow @thelaughingblonde).

Yes, I’ve been crazy busy, but this video was too important to pass up! Clinique is doing an initiative for the month of October where they’re donating $10 anytime someone posts a photo or video of them taking their makeup off AND uses the following 3 hashtags: “CliniqueDonates, “TakeTheDayOffChallenge, PinkRibbon25” – they’re donating up to $250k!! You DON’T have to use their Take The Day Off product- any makeup remover of any brand will do (or soap and water!) so get to posting, ladies!!  XO, AJ


How to Get My Beachy Waves Hair Look in Less Than 10 Minutes

Hi babe! I know you’re probably busy drowning yourself in PSLs and dragging out your uggs from storage, so I’ll keep this short & sweet. The two most common things that I get messages about are about my hair and about starting a YouTube channel. So I’ve combined both in this post with a video on how to get my signature beachy waves look (in less than 10 minutes!).

This is the first time I’ve ever made a video public, so don’t judge too hard haha. Let me know what you think! And if you try this at home, make sure you send me pictures!

 

 

Fall Is Here and Skin Is In

Alright, alright, alrighttttt. It’s finally fall! Well, sort of. It’s not like, FB official or anything yet, but anything under 75 degrees in my book means boots, plaid and hoodies. What can I say, I’m a basic. It’s in my blood.

#NewSeasonNewMe is my motto this year, and I’m playing to win! The ultra cliche “when you look good, you feel good” statement has been buzzing in my ears lately. That said, I’ve put together a two part series to include a full rundown of the hair + skin treatments that I’m using to keep my hair hyrdated and my skin moisturized as the weather starts getting cooler + dryer. I promise you, it’ll be worth the read when your skin isn’t dry af in November, causing your makeup to crack on your face by your 11:30am meeting. You’re welcomeeee.

Skin Is In

I love my hair, but my skin is my numero uno. I’ve been relatively lucky in life so far when it comes to acne – I only get the occasional breakout, and it’s usually when I’m PMSing. Other than that, the only thing I struggle with is dry skin. So I’ve spent that last few years figuring out what products work and what ones don’t (which is hard, because I have very sensitive skin) and I think I’ve finally come up with a great rundown!

Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Face Wash – Let me be clear (no pun intended) – this totally works. I usually take my showers before bed and wash my face with this in the shower if I’m having any type of breakout. By the time I wake up in morning, my face is at least 80% cleared up. The only downside is that I do find it can be drying if you use it every single day, which is why I try to alternate days that I use it.

 

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Argon Oil + Eyebrow Razors – Ok so I’ll admit that the first time I saw a video of a girl shaving their face, I was freaked TF out. Idk why but for some reason I watched Michelle Money from The Bachelor put a video up of her doing it one day and I was hooked – I had to try it! The exfoliation is out of this world! To protect my skin, I only do this once a month – I don’t want to irritate it too much, and I don’t want to become obsessive about it. I PROMISE that it doesn’t make the peachfuzz on your face grown back as a thick man-beard. If anything, it thins it out. It makes my makeup application totally flawless, and my skin is renewed + fresh for the next few weeks. The trick is to make sure you’re coating your skin with the argon oil first to prevent any scratching and irritation, and then doing quick + small downward strokes with the eyebrow razor. Try it out and let me know what you think!

neLpxuLaneige Mini Pore Waterclay Mask – I recommend weekly application of this. The mask goes on wet and then hardens in about 10 minutes. It comes with a sponge to gently exfoliate while you wash it off of your skin, which (in my case at least) leaves me with skin that legit looks like it’s glowing (in a good way). I only do masks about once a week to avoid too much product on my face, and I typically try to do them on Sundays to set myself up for fab skin the whole week. Anyways, this mask has charcoal in it which apparently is v. chic and trendy to put on your skin these days. Who knew? It’s also v. depressing, because when it dries it lets you see just how monsterous your pores really are and it’s extremely disturbing if you’re not prepared for it. Just an FYI – you’ve been warned.

 

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask + Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer – That was a mouthful. These are the two products that I use every night. After I’ve showered and washed my face, I apply the Kate Somerville mask (you only need a thin layer of it, no need to cake it on) to my whole face and neck, and then apply the Laneige lip mask to my lips (obviously). The lip mask if thick, but effective. I haven’t had chapped or cracked lips in God knows how long, and because my lips are hydrated, my lipsticks/ lip stains tend to stay on longer. When I wake up in the morning, I simply rinse my face of any excess product that’s left over and I’m good to go!

 

Sally Hansen Airbrush Leg Makeup – I am 10000% against tanning beds, but that doesn’t mean I’ve totally embraced my practically translucently pale skin. I really just prefer not to blindfold people with my whiteness if it can be avoided. This Sally Hanses stuff is the perfect fix for winter when it’s not warm enough to get your glow from the sun. Not only is it instant color, but it’s semi-waterproof, meaning that I can rinse off in the shower without it coming off. The photo below is after doing just that – and the color is still completely in tact! But if you want to get rid of the color, just get a loofah all soaped up and scrub for literally 15 seconds and you’ll see the color go right down the drown. I. Am. Obsessed.

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Have you tried any of these products, or are you currently using different ones that I should try out? Let me know! I’m always looking to up my game. Check back next week for a full layout on how to keep your hair healthy this fall. xo, AJ

4 Places You NEED To Check Out Before Summer Ends

GUYS. August in NYC is no joke. This is my 4th year suffering through it, and if anyone tells you that you get used to it, they’re a big fat liar. I went out to dinner with my girlfriends the other night and it was so unbearably humid that one of the girls literally stood in front of the hand dryer for 10 minutes trying to dry up her sweat. UGH. Fall 2017, WHERE YOU AT?!

Anyways, I’m really excited to tell you guys about my new partnership with Sapahn! This amazing company was founded in rural Thailand by the incredibly sweet Brooke Mullen. She came across artisans with beautiful hand-crafted pieces and saw that due to market challenges, they were earning less than they deserved because of what she referred to as, “minimum bargaining power and a lack of adequate resources.” Brooke instantly wanted to help these people, and she did just that! How? Sapahn knows exactly who is making each piece and how it’s crafted, as well as where the materials are coming from. Their artisans set their own prices for what they create – bargaining is not allowed! They’re paid 50% when they begin making the piece, and the other 50% when the order is delivered. Why? “We recognize the increased vulnerability artisans may face when having to pay for supplies, labor, and life expenses until a month or two later when the full order is completed.”

So basically, when I learned that I’d be able to work with a company that had beautiful and versatile pieces, and that also values and appreciates incredible talent, I was sold! I always want to be really transparent with you guys, so here it is: whether or not you buy a bag from Sapahn, it doesn’t effect me personally. I’m not being paid to write this post (although Brooke did sent me the amazing bag I’ll be writing about) and I won’t get a commission off of anything you buy. So you can rest assured that everything I write here is totally my opinion- I truly believe in this company 🙂 

Now for the fun part! I’ve been so crazy busy this summer that I haven’t had a chance to tell you about some of my favorite spots in the city for you to try out! So here we go- 4 places for you to check out before summer ~officially~ ends. 

  • Exchange Place – Jersey City – Ok so yes, this is technically not in NYC, but it’s literally right across the river and a 5 minute ride on the PATH, which is cleaner than the subway so you’re welcome. Exchange Place in Jersey City is stunning. It has unbeatable views of NYC, and they’re all insta-worthy ;). The boardwalk multiple piers that you can stroll on- if you read my running posts, you’ll know that I’m here all the time. They have food trucks, occasional street performers, and a brand new beer garden just opened up down there as well! My Sapahn bag happens to be perfect for a Saturday afternoon on the pier, because it actually holds a ton. I can fit my wallet, sunglasses, headphones, snacks and even my Fujifilm camera in there (if I force it, lol). Check it out- I promise it’s worth it.

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  • Shopping in SoHo. I mean, yaaaassss, but also, noooo because I’m broke and there’s nothing in SoHo that doesn’t make you poor. Yet another reason why I feel personally victimized by this city. However, my friend Danielle and I decided to take our lunch hour and head over to LF because they were having a massive blowout sale and like, ok fine twist my arm, I guess I’ll go shopping. I walked in and immediately got anxiety because this place makes TJMAXX look as organized as the container store. Like, holy crap. It was so overwhelming that I literally had to take deep breaths. I silently thanked God that my bag was a cross-body bc I honestly think I would’ve lost it and never recovered it in the MOUNTAINS of clothes otherwise. Long story short, I bought a super cute fall sweater for 60% off and was like, #blessed. Oh and then we went to Dominique Ansel’s bakery (famous for the Cronut) and bought frozen s’mores. They were good in theory, but there was too much ‘mallow and not enough ice cream IMO. But let’s be honest, there’s never really enough ice cream, ever.lf1

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  • Dinner with the girls. VERY IMPORTANT. We went to La Palapa in the East Village and it was great all around. My girl Erin was back in town for the weekend after moving to D.C. at the beginning of this summer, and you guys, I didn’t even realize exactly how much I missed her until I had her back and almost cried I was so happy. Some people just get you, ya know? So to celebrate, 10 of us got together and bonded over tacos, guac and margs. For a place that’s cute and has really good food, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was priced – the bill (with tip) came out to just under $300 for the whole group. Not bad at all, especially with alcohol on the tab. It’s also really close to some fun bars, so you don’t need to run around the whole damn city looking for your next spot to go- a major win! 

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  • Tribeca Drive-In at Oculus Plaza. I LOVE this! Outdoor screenings of some serious classics on the first weekend of every month (from June-October). It’s so close to Eataly, it’s the perfect way to kick off a good weekend- great Italian food and a fun movie on a summer night in the city? Just make sure you grab an ice cream cone to top it off 😉 Sticking some snacks, your wallet and a good pair of sunnies into my Sapahn bag is the best way to bring what I need to the movies without worrying about leaving anything behind while I move from spot to spot trying to find the best view! Next Viewings: 9/1 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 9/2- Enchanted.

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August Favorites!

Is it just me, or does it feel like the summer has totally flown by? Like, how can it possibly be Labor Day Weekend next week?! This summer has been pretty wild for me for several reasons. Let’s re-cap, shall we?

  • My apartment was broken into so that someone could throw a party. You dam read more about that here
  • I moved from Brooklyn to Jersey City and have been exploring the neighborhood non-stop ever since
  • I started running with the Nike Running app and have gone from not running at all to running up to 5 miles at a time
  • My boyfriend moved out to LA, so I’ve been out there once a month to see him (side note: LDRs are not easy but also not impossible, and also, Red-eye flights are the devil’s work

And those are just the headliners! So yes, a ton has been going on, but in between all of the craziness I’ve come across 7 things that I’m a huge fan of. Take a look through them and let me know what you think!


What I’m Watching (Real-Time) – Billions

Maybe it’s because the show is set in NYC. Maybe it’s because the two lead actresses are both total bad-asses. Or maybe it’s because I literally cannot wrap my head around the idea of someone spending $65,000,000 on a house just so they can tear it down to build another one. Whatever it is, Billions has me hooked. Start season 1 on Amazon Prime (we’re only two seasons into the whole show) and I guarantee you’ll be wondering why  you’re slaving away at your ok-ish job making $60k a year when you could be like Wendy and making a quarter mil (before bonuses) by pumping up some bankers. UGH.

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What I’m Binging on – Nashville

Ok so I’m not entirely sure how this show escaped my radar for so long, but I am OBSESSED. Dean + Rayna – the whole ‘Will they or Won’t they?’ will have me anxiety-ridden until the day I die. I never gave this show a chance when it premiered, for reasons I can’t explain. I’m a huge country music fan, so this should’ve been something I jumped on. Once I came back from visiting Nashville in July I was just suddenly really into the idea. So I brought up the first episode on Hulu (they have all 5 seasons, #BLESSED) and it’s been a love affair ever since. When will Juliette get her life together?! When will Maddie stop being an obnoxious teenager?! When will Will reveal his true self?! I SIMPLY CANNOT BE STOPPED!

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What I’m Reading – The Perfect Stranger51I7LCRhT6L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m a huge fan of a good thriller, and The Perfect Stranger is exactly the kind of thing to get me hooked. I don’t want to give away the deets, so I’ll just say this: Have you ever felt like you’re being watched? Maybe that’s because you are… Don’t forget to close your blinds at night 😉

 

 

 

What I’m Snacking On – Frozen Grapes + Gelatosouthamericandarkchocolate1

Separately, of course! I have a sensitive tummy and I’m also lactose intolerant so as much as I LOVE ice cream, it doesn’t always agree with me. Not to mention, dairy is something that tends to leave a lot of people bloated. So I go for the non-dairy sorbets and gelato flavors at my grocery store. At the moment I’m partial to the Ciao Bella dark chocolate flavor, mostly because it tastes pretty rich so I’m satisfied after just a few bites. And for when I’m trying to be really healthy? I stick a full bag of green grapes in my freezer and take out a bunch. I honestly have no idea why, but frozen treats are my fave. It might sound bizarre, but just do me a favor and try it before you judge me too hard.

 

What I’m Wearing – My New Pieces From Target

Ok, so I need to be frank with you all. I seriously dislike summer. I know that’s like, sac-relig to most people, but I seriously cannot stand it. But I LOVE the fall. Not only is is more comfortable to hang outside in, but football season makes me happy af and the clothes are SO MUCH CUTER. Which is actually somewhat dangerous because I constantly feel like every cute sweater I see simply needs to have a home in my closet. As we all do, I went to Target the other day for legit one thing. I walked out without that one thing, but with a sweater, two tops and a skirt. And that’s just the beginning, I can already tell. I’ll be doing a whole separate post about fall fashion later on, but here’s what I picked up this weekend. *Full disclosure: The sweater + tops aren’t online yet so I literally ordered the dress and booties right now so I could post about them for you. I find excuses wherever I can to shop**

 

What I’m Listening To – Have A Happy Day via Spotify

Who doesn’t love a good playlist, amirite? I’m right. I found this playlist on Spotify a few months back, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since. It’s not all bubblegum pop music, there’s some fab throwbacks in there – check it out here!

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What I’m Splurging On – Pilates Classes

I cannot believe I even wrote that down *insert eye roll here*. I used to think that Pilates classes were just for suburban moms who wore yoga pants all day and hung around the studio in between trips to the grocery store and picking up the kids from soccer practice. But if I’m being honest, I’ve been seeing some of the ladies from The Bachelor posting videos of their Pilates moves on the ‘gram, and I got suckered in. I’ve been looking for something to do that’ll help tone me up without having to just lift weights while sweaty men grunt and drop heavy weights just a few feet away. So I splurged on a package of classes – stay tuned for more on that in the coming months!

How The Nike Running App Has Changed My Game

For those of you who read my post about how I’m improving my health one day at a time, all I can say is THANK YOU! I can’t begin to describe how much I appreciated all of the incredible sincere and encouraging messages I received. Writing a post that made me so vulnerable was a bit scary, but everyone’s kindness made me realize that there’s absolutely no shame in my game. I’m giving it my best shot one day at a time!
That said, a lot of messages I received were filled with questions about the Nike running app that I referred to, as well as a more in-depth description of how I got started and what I’ve been doing to keep it up. I’m more than happy to share as much as I can about my journey, especially because I’ve found the positive feedback to be a huge motivator!
Truth be told, getting into the running game was a complete accident. I never had any intention of training for anything. There was a brief stint in college when I trained with the Couch to 5k app (which DOES work if you commit to it!), but I never took it seriously enough – I don’t think I got passed being able to run a mile without stopping. One of the big differences between that app and the one I’m using now is that they do a sort of “interval” training where you walk for two minutes, jog for 4 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, etc. Personally, that’s not something that works for my body. If I’m running and then I stop to walk, my body gets crazy tired and all of the energy that I had goes out the window. It because difficult for me to run for more than a few minutes again without stopping! The Nike app that I use doesn’t tell you when to walk/jog/run. The only thing it does is have you run a little fastest for a few minutes during the weekly benchmark run. Other than that, I go at my own pace on my own time.

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As I mentioned in my first post about all of this, I started using the Nike Running app because I signed up for a corporate challenge 5k race with my company. I really had no desire to even try to run for the whole race and on race day, I almost didn’t even go! On the way there, my friend Danielle told me she uses this app and that I should try it out. So I did, and I actually found it to be sort of like an addicting game. I’m pretty competitive with myself and when it comes to running, I was surprised to see that I would constantly push myself to go a little further than the distance that was set for that day. Who knew?! In fact, there’s only been one time in the last 10 weeks when I’ve stopped to walk in the middle of a run (more on that later).

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So what’s the key? For me, it’s discipline. I’m famous for letting myself off the hook for one or two workouts, which then turns into three months without stepping foot in the gym. I have yet to let that happen with this program. One thing that’s kept me on track is that I set up a personalized plan within the app that has me training for a specific goal- a 10k on October 7th. Despite the fact that my plans have changed and I can’t run the race on that day anymore, I’m still acting like I am and following the plan. I certainly don’t let it control my life- if I have plans one night or I’m really tired, I move the workout to the next day. As long as I get my four runs in for the week at some point, I’m golden. And the app banks on you being motivated by little rewards, so there’s an entire section dedicated to your personal achievements! Fastest 1k, fasted 5k, longest distance, most miles run in a week, the list goes on and on. It may sound silly, but I feel SO proud of myself whenever I unlock a new achievement!
A new thing for me is running outside. For the first month and a half of the program, I would almost exclusively run on the treadmill so that I could strictly monitor my pace and focus on my breathing. When a week came where I didn’t have access to a treadmill, I quickly learned that running outside is a wildly different experience. There are some parts to it that I find to be harder- namely, keeping a proper pace. But I also find that by trusting my body to adjust to a pace it’s comfortable with, I’m actually able to run much father than on the treadmill! Here’s a perfect example; when I ran 4.5 miles indoors, I pushed myself too hard and ended up taking in too much oxygen. You know what happens when you do that? You get intense stomach cramps and end up lying on the floor of your best friend’s apartment on Bachelor Monday, seriously questioning your life choices and being genuinely scared to run that far again. It sounds dramatic, but I’m so serious- when I found out I had to run 5 miles the following Tuesday for Long Run day, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Until I actually did it…
When I moved to Jersey City a few weeks ago, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to run outside – I live less than a half mile from the waterfront, and the views are unmatched. It would be a crime to miss out! But let me be frank- clear through the first half of my 5 mile run, I thought there was no way I’d be finishing without walking g a little bit. It was actually raining out that day, but I refused to let that stop me – actually, it probably helped to not have the August sun beating down on me during my most challenging run to date. Somehow between mile 3 and 4, I got a burst of energy and realized that if I really tried, I could run the whole thing without stopping. And I did it! It was 100% my proudest moment to date on this whole training journey, because I’m still in shock that went from not being able to run 1 mile to being able to run 5 in under 11 weeks. WHAT EVEN?!

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Don’t let all of that fool you though. I am NOT perfect, not even close. The training schedule for that week had me running 5 miles on Monday, 2.25 on Tuesday, and then 5.5 on Thursday. I was still feeling a little tired from earlier in the week, and was also in pain from having a pinched nerve in my shoulder/elbow. I wasn’t going to let that keep me from going on my run, but I wasn’t totally in it. So you know what? I owned it, and I did the best that I could. I ran for three miles, and then walked for about 0.25, then ran another mile, walked for 0.25 and then finished it out. TBH, I’m pretty surprised that my average pace for the whole run was 12:19 – especially since it’s only a minute faster than my typical pace for longer runs.

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My point here is that the keys to success with training yourself to run distance, much like training for anything else, is to really commit. I’m not focused on doing this to lose weight or even really to fit into smaller clothes- that’s an entirely different goal. For me, this has been about pushing my personal boundaries far past what I ever thought my body would be capable of doing, and making myself proud every day. I may not fit into size 6 jeans, but I can certainly run a lot farther than some people who do. The cool thing about running is that you can literally do it any time, anywhere. You don’t have to wait for the gym to be open, or worry about your favorite machine being taken. You can just throw on your sneakers and go. Hell, you can even go barefoot and still get some mileage in! It’s a great alternative to what I used to do, which was to directly home and Netflix my life away for the next 5 hours. Not gonna lie, I still do that but at least now I have like, an hour of outdoor time 😂

xo, AJ

Blogging In The Beginning

I get SO many questions about how I started blogging and what steps someone needs to take to start a blog, so I figured, “lightbulb!” Why not just write a blog post on it? Ik, I’m genius, no need to remind me. But feel free to anyway 🙂

The Planning:

I started The Laughing Blonde because I felt like I needed some sort of creative outlet. There are a few bloggers that I had been following on Instagram before, and it seemed so cool to me to get to travel and have new experiences and get paid to do it! I’ve always had a creative side to me, and I found it difficult to stay excited about my day job as a media planner, which is less creative and more strategic. There was just one night in late January when I got a little burst of energy and decided to actually go for it! I spent about two hours trying to come up with a name, which seemed impossible because literally every single one I came up with was taken already. Do you know how infuriating it is to come up with a genius name for your blog, only to see that some asshole has already claimed it and hasn’t posted a photo since 2013? UGHH. So once I finally found a name that was available both on Instagram and as a website domain, I was ready to go. To be clear, I had ZERO experience designing a blog. The last time I “designed” a website was when I was 12 and a psycho about customizing my MySpace page. Side note- remember when we all thought we were little mini Mark Zuckerbergs (before he was even a thing) because we would figure out how to slightly alter our profile codes on MySpace and made them look really badass? SAME. So anyway, here I am at 24 years old, feeling like an 82 year old who can’t figure out how to turn her cell phone on AKA feeling VERY FREAKING LOST. I picked a super basic layout and wrote my first post, and then published my photo on Instagram. It was truly about as bare bones as you can get. From other people that I’ve talked to, I’ve heard that people stress for MONTHS over perfecting their SEO strategy, or write like, 20 pieces of content before they even make their site public. For me, I just wanted to get something published so that I wasn’t putting so much pressure for perfection on myself. To be clear, I don’t feel like there’s one perfect way to do any of this – I just didn’t want to give myself an excuse to prolong it anymore!

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Followers:

Ahh, follower count. One of the biggest stress-inducing things in the blogger world. Gaining followers, especially in the beginning, is tough because you really have no content (so what are people following you for?) and because it’s unlikely that people are going to want to follow an Instagram page that only has 2 posts and 37 followers – there’s strength in numbers, and at the beginning it’s the struggle bus all the way. The key is to get support from the people you know first. At first I wanted to keep the blog separate from my personal life, which is why I have both two Instagram accounts – one is personal, one is strictly for the blog. I was slightly embarrassed that I had even started a blog, and didn’t feel like I wanted to be judged by my friends, colleagues or even old peers from high school for what I was writing about – especially because I knew there would be times when I would post things that were really personal and sensitive to me. I mean, if you’ve been reading my stuff for the last 6 months then you probably already know what kinds of things I’m talking about. I’m pretty deep sometimes- who knew!? But as I started writing more and more content, I realized that my close friends were going to see it anyway, and honestly, wtf do I care what the guy I had a crush on in 9th grade thought of me anymore? I mean TBH yeah I care a little bit – EW BYE – but not enough to keep me from proudly posting my content. Don’t like it? Don’t look!

So I built a base of followers around the people who knew me and would be at least minutely interested in hearing what I had to say. From there, I did the ~controversial~ move of the classic follow/unfollow. Depending on who you ask, this is either the best or worst way to get Instagram followers. I guarantee you that every single person reading this knows what I’m talking about – it’s the random follow you get from an account you’ve never heard of and you’re like, huh? How did they even find me? Let me tell you: they found you from going to an Instagram account that they like and following the accounts that follow that page. It’s truly a numbers game at first. And it’s a pain in the butt as well, because you can only follow like, 150 a day before Instagram blocks you. So building up your audience is NOT easy, and it takes time. I’ve also found that I need to be better about letting go of the people who unfollow me. It’s nothing personal, they’re just trying to keep their follower:following ratio on point, and for one reason or another The Laughing Blonde didn’t make the cut. It happens.

What I do NOT recommend is buying followers. It’s clear as day when a follower is bought, because they’re have little to no content on their page, have 7 followers and be following 52, 985 people. Don’t waste your money, babe.

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Content:

I’ll keep it simple with this one: Post content that you actually enjoy writing about. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to write a piece when the enjoyment isn’t behind it. It’s all about writing what you know. Hands down, the content that performs the best for me is always the stuff where I’m being really vulnerable and honest about who I am and what I’m going through. Yes, I also like writing about cool restaurants to check out and what makeup I wear, but if you look back at my stuff, you’ll notice that I’ve cut back on those kinds of pieces recently because people don’t care about them as much. They’re reading your blog because they care about YOU. If they wanted recommendations for dinner, they’d just go to Yelp.

Another thing I’ve learned is that writing in my own voice is what allows my readers relate to me so much. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have texted me saying how hard they’re laughing because they can picture me saying the words out loud to them – that’s such a huge compliment! I try to keep it as real as I possibly can – that means sharing my accomplishments, as well as my failures. You’d be surprised how supportive someone you don’t even know can be! Click here for my favorite post to date!

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Photos:

I get photos from all over the place. A lot of times I re-post things I love from other bloggers. Sometimes I use content I’ve shot myself, and other times I work with local photographers who are looking to build up their portfolios. I’m not a Rockafeller over and here and (sadly) I don’t come from oil money either. You don’t need to work with hardcore professionals to get the shots you need. Two of my favorite people I’ve worked with are 1: my friend Kira who works at Travel + Leisure and helped me out massively for my first shoot and 2: my new friend Kelsey (@styledinthestreet) who reached out to me on Instagram to set something up and was AMAZING! I highly recommend working with her if you’re in the area and get the chance. It’s all about making sure you feel totally comfortable with the person you’re working with, otherwise you probably won’t get the shots you want.

I’ve also realized that I get the most engagement when I utilize the My Story feature on Instagram – so many of my followers send me DMs after I’ve posted something, and it’s awesome to know that they’re following along and feel like they’re getting to know me!

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Do you have any tips + tricks to share with me? I’m still so new at this myself, I would love to hear what works for you guys! Post a comment or send me a message 🙂 xo, AJ

My MILK MAKEUP Review

YOU GUYS. I just came back from Sephora with some new products and I’m so excited about them that I had to go straight to my laptop and give some feedback so you all could see for yourselves! There’s a whole lot about being a girl that I feel personally victimized by (biological clocks, the idea that men age like wine and women age like milk that’s been left out on the counter overnight, and the fact that it feels like Sephora’s marketing team has a looking glass deep into my soul and they know exactly what kind of packaging will have me emptying out my wallet. RUDE. Like if I actually thought about how much I’ve spent on beauty products in the last year, or better yet, my life, it makes me nauseas. I cannot let my mind go there.

My personal #makeupgoals is to wear the kind of makeup that makes it look like you’re not looking any makeup. Very #IWokeUpLikeThis. This has pretty much always been my go-to look because I’m fair and I have a young face (or so they tell me), so if I wear too much color or, God forbid, eyeliner, it’s a tragedy. I look like a street-walking clown. Over the years many of the brands I’ve used have changed. I’ve used everything from Georgio Armani $70 foundation to the $15 Revlon foundation that currently sitting in my makeup bag. All kinds of mascaras and concealers and blushes. My biggest struggle is makeup that doesn’t dry out during the day, which happens often because my skin is on the dryer side. And it has run my bank account DRY, let me tell you!

That said, when I went to Sephora today, I found myself planted in front of the MILK Makeup station so I could try on every last product. I personally consider them to be mid-range in terms of price. Definitely affordable for the effects they have. The cool thing about this brand is that the whole point of their product line is for you to apply with your fingers – it’ s like fingerpaint for your face. Idk about you, but fingerpaiting is about the only art class I ever excelled in, so I feel like kindergarten really prepared me for this moment.

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TBH, this is probably my least favorite out of the MILK products that I’ve tried, but it’s still cool. It looks like there’s color to be, but don’t let that fool you. It comes in one shade, and works for pretty much all skin tones. It minimizes the appearence of pores and fine lines to give you a smooth matte finish. You can use it on its own, as a primer, or to lock in your other makeup. I personally use it on its own when I have a bit of a tan, because it basically just gives my existing glow a little boost without forcing me to cake real makeup all over my face. Sephora, $36

 

Cooling Water cooling

I. AM. OBSESSED. WITH. THIS. Like I said earlier, my skin is on the dryer side. The point of this caffeine-infused gel stick is to de-puff eyes and energize the look of skin, as well as helping to get rid of dryness. I put this on before I put on any other makeup, and it not only felt amazing, but it made putting on the rest of my makeup incredibly easy and kept it looking fresh throughout the day. To die for. Sephora, $24

 

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This comes out of a tube with a rollerball at the top (similar to rollerball perfume), which I really like because it gets you way more control of how much you’re squeezing out and applying. Nothing’s more annoying when applying makeup then when you go to squeeze out a tiny bit of foundation and a whole glob comes out. And then you’re like that’s nice, there’s $6 worth of makeup down the drain 🙂 🙂 🙂 This only required 3-4 swipes across my face to get total coverage. It feels really light, but like it took care of all the issues I wanted it to. It’s also SPF 30, which is really important and something I try to make sure is in any foundation I use! Overall, it’s really natural looking which is just what I’m going for. Sephora, $42

 

Flex Concealer flex concealer

I feel the same way about this concealer that I do about the Sunshine Skin Tint, so I don’t want to get too repetitive. What I particularly like about this is the staying power. I have extremely dry eyes which, ironically, causes them to water all the time. I often have issues with concealer because it gets flaky and cracked under my eyes because of the tears that I’m frequently wiping away. This avoided those issues and made my under-eyes look really bright and energized. Sephora, $28

 

Lip + Cheek cheek

I’ve been using cheek stains for about a year now, because I feel like they blend into my skin far better than traditional blush does. This cheek tint is no different. The shades are gorgeous (I combined Swish and Rally together), and they practically melted on my cheeks in the BEST way. It gave the kind of color that you get when your cheeks get pink from being outside for 10 minutes in the snow. It’s PERFECT! Even better, you only need a few tabs and the container is pretty big, so you would probably only need to buy this 1-2 times per year at most. Sephora, $24

 

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My usual mascara routine is to use one that’s lengthening/voluminous and then following that up with a second kind that’s waterproof to combat my always-watering eyes. I also typically curl my lashes, which gives an effect that I love, but I do think causes some damage to my lashes. When I applied the Ubame mascara, I noticed that the unique shape of the brush made is to that I don’t need to curl my lashes. It also somehow manages to stay on really well, even though its not waterproof. Very impressed.   Sephora, $24