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.
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).
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?!
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.
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 😂
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 🙂
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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
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
Sunshine Skin Tint
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
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
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
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
Working out (in a traditional sense) has never been something I’ve loved. When I’ve done it, it’s usually because I’m being forced/threatened by a coach, I’m trying to lose 13 lbs in 4 days for an event that I forgot about until yesterday, or because I got a burst of energy for a week and a half. That’s basically it. I was the girl in high school who, during the mile portion in gym, would hide behind the big blue mat used for track meets halfway into lap #2. By my senior year, my cheerleading coach would legit have to threaten me if she wanted me to run, and even then, I can’t recall a time where I did it without 5 minutes of negotiating first.
I’ve always struggled with my weight and body image, which is, unfortunately, not new for many girls. There was a year or two in high school when I would consider myself to be a normal size (never thin, but not heavy), but for the most part I was overweight. I try to keep it open and real on this blog, so I’ll just say it- I reached my heaviest weight of 230 lbs in August of 2015. That’s a number I don’t think I’ve ever shared with anyone before because I was so ashamed. I was working at a job that made me miserable, ordering seamless every night and was never active. I’d been in the city for just over a year when for some reason, I woke up one day and decided I’d had enough. I began working out every day, eating super clean and in just over two months, I was down 30 lbs. I struggled a little to manage the loss because I’m normal and I like junk food, but I found a routine eventually, and another 30lbs came off over the next year. All of a sudden I was getting attention from guys, getting compliments from my family, friends and colleagues, and feeling really confident. But I still hated doing any workout that wasn’t the elliptical or Zumba, which are my comfort spots.
A few months ago I signed up for the J.P. Morgan corporate challenge in NYC. It’s a little longer than 5k through Central Park, something that was laughable to me because I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping. Literally I’d be winded at 0.75 miles and have to stop. I almost didn’t show up on the day of the race. Luckily, some of my friends from work also signed up and encouraged me to go with them. One of my good friends Danielle (of @packinglightly) told me about the Nike Running Club app and told me I absolutely had to download it. I almost didn’t, but I’m SO glad I did! I finished the race feeling so insanely proud of myself, and then started playing around with the app and set a goal for myself to run a 10k (6.2 miles) in October, and then the app created a plan for me. If you have any doubts whatsoever about downloading an app or thinking you could ever be a “runner”, hear me out. In the last 8 weeks, I’ve gone from not being able to run one single mile to being able to run 4.5 miles without stopping. I’m not fast by any means. I run at a 5 mph speed. Grandmas with walkers could probably pass me if they wanted to. But 4.5 miles without stopping?! Hell yes!
The best advice I could ever give to 12, 16, or 21 year old me would be to push myself. Forget about all the unnecessary nonsense that truly doesn’t matter. Be a good person, be kind to everyone, and be kind to myself. Treat myself to ice cream, and then treat my body to a nice little run after. I wish I’d started being kinder to myself earlier in life, but so happy I started when I did. If you’ve been looking for a sign, or some encouragement to get started, here it is. Throw on some sneakers, run (or even walk!) just to the stop sign and back if that’s what it takes. Just do it – then tell me how it went 🙂
Y’all, it’s been a MINUTE since my last post – sincerely apologize for that. Things have been crazy busy these last few weeks. I was in LA visiting my boyfriend for the 4th, and then I had to prepare for my move and get ready for my trip to Nashville! But I’m back, and I know you missed me as much as I missed you 😉
Have you ever been to Nashville? If you’re not 21 yet, don’t even bother reading the rest of this post. The most important thing I learned on this trip is that if you’re not 21, then Nashville is a giant waste of money. Unfortunately I didn’t know about this before I took my 18 year old sister here for her high school graduation gift. Whoops. We made the best of it though, considering we were 100% sober the entire time. Yeah, ik, the struggle was real. Age aside, the city was a cool place to visit. First of all, Ubers are dirt freaking cheap down there. What would cost me $25 in NYC cost me $7 in Nashville. Can’t beat that, considering that’s basically what I tip my cab drivers in New York, and that’s when I’m feeling cheap.
Nashville is filled with 3 groups of people. Group 1 are the drunks who are down for a good time. These are the people who are here for Bachelorette parties, girls weekends, etc. They drink way too much and wind up dancing barefoot at Tootsies by 3pm on a Wednesday. Group 2 are the families who had the misguided idea that Nashville was a wholesome place to travel with their young kids and soak up all that country music has to offer. Great idea in theory, but the execution is weak once you realize that outside of the bar scene, there’s about 4 things to do in Nashville and that’s it. Group 3 is your redneck clan. These people can be identified by their American flag (or if they’re thoroughbreds, Confederate flag) t-shirts, rhinestone belt buckles and cowboy boots with an Eagle hand-painted on them. It’s a sight, I’ll tell you that much.
Anyways, I’ve put together a quick rundown of our trip and linked out the places I’m mentioning for you to check out on your next trip to Music City!
Day 1: We landed in Nashville on Tuesday morning and headed for an early lunch at Puckett’s while we waited for our Airbnb to be ready. Puckett’s is a cute spot on Church that’s decently priced and has live music. The menu was good, but I wasn’t impressed by the delivery of it, tbh. Definitely go here if you’re looking to save some money and get a live music experience to pass the time. After we finished, we ubered over to our Airbnb over on Elliston’s. Guys, I fell in love a little bit. It was perfect for us – girly, but not overdone, clean, equipped with the essentials, had an incredibly comfy bed and pullout couch, and our host even had a laminated booklet she put together of her favorite Nashville spots! If you’re ever looking to stay here with a group of 1-4 people, I highly recommend you check this listing out! Anyways, we cleaned up, unpacked, and headed to Broadway (where all the action is). Day 1 spots included the Wildhorse Saloon (a really fun and LARGE (3 stories!) spot that has great live music and line dancing every hour and a half). *Sidenote – they allow you in here at all hours if you’re under 21 – most places don’t.) We also had dinner at FGL House (the house burger tasted great – it didn’t taste as great when I threw it up 3 hours later though.. ). The space at FGL is really cool as well – Another 3-story building that has a rooftop bar with live music, and a massive screen on the first floor restaurant area that plays country music videos on a loop.
Day 2: We kicked Wednesday off with breakfast at Frothy Monkey– I highly recommend their customizable oatmeal (I added strawberries and apples to mine FTW). We walked about 15 minutes in the hot-as-hades Nashville heat (DO NOT RECOMMEND) to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I’d like to point out that this was my fault in assuming that there would be more modern-day country music attention in this museum. I’m not sure why I thought that, since this is a Hall of Fame and therefore it makes sense that the majority of the focus would be on older stars. What really got my goat was that the first exhibit you see is the Taylor Swift education center. I was BUGGIN about this bc Tay is my girl. Imagine how pissed I was when I walked in and realized it literally had zero to do with T-Swizz – it’s full of classrooms for little kids to do arts and craft projects. I’m stills salty about it.
Two hours later (I had to get my money’s worth, considering the ticket was $25 (UGH) a piece), we headed over to see the Parthenon. This thing is legit just a to-scale version of the Parthenon in Greece… except you’re not in Greece AKA its not the real parthenon AKA it’s cool to take pictures in front of and that’s about it. BUT we met an extremely nice man who was having his first day out after being in solitary confinement for 60 days after a bone marrow transplant. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the entire trip, talking to this man. He’s in his late 60s, had been sick with Leukemia for the last three years, and was so inexplicably grateful for this second chance at life he’d be given from a selfless 25 year old Marine who donated his bone marrow to a total stranger and saved his life. It was incredibly inspiring, and I’m currently researching what the necessary steps are to becoming a donor myself. If you’re interested, you can find more info here.
After the park, we headed back to the apartment for a quick re-charge nap and then went back down to Broadway. Takeaways from night #2 – you absolutely NEED to check out the Wanna-Bs Karaoke bar (you will sing at the top of your lungs and have the best time doing it), and you also need to get ice cream from Mike’s. Every flavor is homemade, and their single scoops are like, three regular people sized scoops. YAAAAS (dairy) QUEEN!
Day 3: By day three we were like, ok Nashville, we get it, ur hot and humid. Kicked it off with the breakfast of champs AKA ice cream sodas from Elliston’s soda shop (world famous bc Reese Witherspoon has been here and anywhere Reese goes gets an automatic approval from me). Then we headed to my 2nd favorite part of the trip, the Grand Ole Opry. This place was the bees knees, man. I personally think $25 a ticket is a little over-priced, but getting a backstage tour of the most famous venue in country music was cool af. Fun fact: most artists who perform at the Opry live in Nashville, so they drive themselves to the venue when they’re scheduled for a show. There’s a back parking lot where only the artists and their team can go that’s blocked off by cones to give them privacy from fans. But the golden part of this is that the artists (I’m talking Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood types) have to get out of the car and move the cones themselves, then park their own cars (the Opry doesn’t offer valet parking), and the real kicker: They have to show photo ID when they go inside BECAUSE YEAH, I WOULDN’T RECOGNIZE CARRIE UNDERWOOD EITHER- WHAT?! Apparently, they do it to keep the artists humble. Idk why, but i find this to be easily the funniest thing I’ve heard all week.
The rest of day 3 consisted of: another re-charge nap at the apartment, a return visit to Wildhorse Saloon for a lil bit of line dancing, a performance at the Karaoke bar by me (Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert is my JAM), and going to Crazy Town for dinner at 8:30 and literally having to stay their the rest of the night bc they start carding at 10pm and my sister wouldn’t have been able to get back in otherwise. It’s actually a really cool bar (again, multiple stories high with different bands on each floor).
The Bottom Line: Nashville is a cool little city that’s good for a 2-3 day trip when you’re 21 years old or older. It’s not outrageously expensive, there are a ton of cool honky tonk bars to hang out in, and the live music aspect is a blast. It’s probably why you see photos on Facebook from 4-7 bachelorette parties every goddamn weekend – the perfect setting for the #FlingBeforeTheRing. Get it, ladies!
If you’ve ever had to move, you know that even though you’re so excited to have a fresh space, it’s not an easy task to accomplish. First of all, it’s expensive. There’s the first month/ last month bit, the security deposit, the cost of buying packing materials and then the cost of movers. Basically, if you’re not ready to liquidate some assets, you may start seeing you bank account in the red. #SoBlessed.
Apartment hunting in NYC is an entirely different beast, similar to what I would imagine the Hunger Games was like IRL. There’s 1 of 2 ways you’re doing this. You’re either living with roommates, or trying to live by yourself. And you know what? They both suck. A lot. If you’re trying to move somewhere with roommates, here are some of the scenarios you’ll undoubtedly face:
- Different budgets- you probably don’t all make the same amount of money, so some of the group will want to ball out for central AC and an elevator building, while others will want to skimp on a 6th floor walk-up. Thank God for the American Dream, amirite?
- Timing- If you’re not first you’re last: that’s the name of the game for NYC real estate. If you’re looking for an apartment with your roommates, you better all be there to see it and be prepared to sign on the spot because if you decide to wait until Becky can be conferenced into the roomie FaceTime chat later to discuss your options since she couldn’t be at the showing, you’re out. Someone already signed in blood and offered up their first born for it. Better luck next time.
- Converted spaces- do I really need to say anything else about this? There’s nothing more irritating than a listing saying that there’s a 3 bedroom (and it’s reasonably priced!) available in Murray Hill, and then you find out that they’re a bunch of liars. Do you know how many weeknights I spend sprinting from my downtown office up to midtown, sweat dripping from every pore on my body and a crazed look in my eye, just to see that the place that I thought would comfortably house 3 20-something year old females was actually a “converted” apartment? All that means is that this place was originally only meant for two bedrooms and you decided that future tenants either a) didn’t want you to have a living room or b) didn’t really care if you never see the light of day again because lol your “bedroom” doesn’t have a window in it.
I just battled literally millions of other New Yorkers this last month to find a reasonably priced (lol jokes on us bc those don’t exist) and somewhat safe apartment to sign on for the next 12 months. It was like stab to the heart having to write a check for a full month’s rent (while I’m still living in my Brooklyn apartment) as well as 1.5x rent for the security deposit. Bible, I saw stars. I had to sit down with my head between my knees. Not a drill.
In the hopes of reminding myself what else was out there, I played around with Craigslist and Street Easy to see just how voraciously some of my fellow NYers are being ripped off. I felt slightly better after seeing the below:
First of all, there’s this:
See? I wasn’t exaggerating. THERE ARE LITERALLY 0 APARTMENTS IN ALL OF MANHATTAN $1,250/MONTH OR LESS FOR RENT. Not even a a studio on friggen E. 158th street. WHAT THE HELL NYC!?
Then there’s this – $800/month for a 1 bedroom in a 700 sq. foot 3-bedroom apartment. What a BEAUT!
There’s this one, which I’m 600% sure is an actual walk-in closet that someone is being charged $1300/mo to suffer in
You have this one – which wouldn’t be the worst one on the list… until you notice that there’s a shared bathroom with the rest of the floor -___-
And finally, this iconic $1,000/mo UWS apartment that literally went viral for how pathetic it is. Sad.
*Listed amenities include: mini-refrigerator, hot plate, closet, large window, shared bathroom
So as I cry over what my savings account could’ve been (but probably never will be thanks to this new apartment I’m moving into), I save a few tears for the poor souls who are stuck with these nightmares. People of New York: When it comes to apartment hunting, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Guys. Have you ever been to Chicago? If you haven’t, you need to go, STAT. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never been either. Luckily, I work closely with a few team members who are in our Chicago office and I was able to go out their for some facetime with a handful of our bigger clients – it’s STUNNING!
Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC – there’s really no other city in the world quite like it, and it’s my home. But Chicago is like a cleaner, smaller version of Manhattan – ya know, without the urine-scented sidewalks and trash built up 7 bags high. I took full advantage of my downtime to explore, and here are some of my new favorite spots!
It may sound silly to say this if you haven’t been to Chicago before, but the Lakefront trail was easily my favorite place in the city. It’s this 18 mile long stretch of concrete trail that follows along Lake Michigan, and it’s GORGEOUS!! The view is really what makes it, as the water is a bright blue/green that looks so appealing, you’ll wanna jump right in… until you remember that the water is probably 40 degrees and then you pass. I went for a few jogs along the portion that runs parallel to downtown, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was honestly creepy, and I prob freaked out the locals, but its fine.
Oak Street Beach
I discovered this absolute gem on my first morning in the city. It’s right along the Lakefront trail and when I saw it, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. Like, ok, I get it, Chicago is pretty or whatever, but this is seriously something I’ve never seen before. It’s a stone’s throw (literally) away from the office buildings in downtown Chicago. Like if you walked about 150 feet (across a majorly busy road) you would be stepping into an office building). The beach is pristine, with cushioned lounge chairs, volleyball nets, lifeguards and a restaurant/bar area. AND ITS PUBLIC. WTF?! In NYC, you’d be charged a $2,500/month membership fee for something like this. Bible, I almost moved just so I could go here every day.
Yet another incredibly cool part of this city. On my first morning, I have about 5 hours to kill until a business lunch, so I was able to take advantage of exploring. Apparently I was in Chicago at a great time, because it wasn’t cold at all, but it wasn’t crazy hot yet (which you should note, because their temps can get seriously toasty in the summer). I was staying in Old Town, so I walked about a mile and a half down to Navy Pier and fell in love! TBH, I wish my boyfriend had been with me because it would’ve been a super cute date, but I managed on my own. My must-do’s of Navy Pier? The Ferris wheel, the Crystal Gardens and the Rolling Stones exhibit (which is open until 7/31!). The Ferris wheel was slightly pricey – $15 for an adult ticket – but worth it, in my opinion.
Crown Fountain in Millennium Park
Millennium Park is somewhere you should visit as a whole, of course, but on a hot summer day, you can’t pass up Crown Fountain! I was feeling a bit ~steamy~ from walking around all day in a black shirt, and felt like a little kid as soon as I saw this fountain! It’s definitely a little quirky- there are 1,000 Chicagoans faces that loop on the massive video screens in the fountain. But the feeling of splashing around like a 7 year old on summer vacation is something that gave me the happy feels.
The Architecture Tour
TBH, I’m not as obsessed with this as I am with everything else on my list, but it’s a must-do in Chicago. Tickets are not cheap- in fact, they’re $45 a pop. And at some points it can feel a little monotonous. HOWEVER- the scenes are so drop-dead gorgeous that its worth it. This is a boat tour that coasts along Chicago’s famed riverwalk and points out the world renowned architecture that lines the city. The riverwalk is the prettiest body of water I’ve ever had the experience of hanging out in, which is the biggest reason I’d recommend it- the wildly structured skyscrapers are a close second. If you have some extra time, check it out!
Have any really cool suggestions of Chicago must-sees for my next work trip? Comment below! xo, AJ
If you thought that the title of this article would be click-bait, you thought wrong. Someone seriously broke into my apartment last weekend for the sole purpose of throwing a party. Believe me, I’m just as mind-blown as you are.
I came home on the night of Father’s day after being away for the weekend, and when I walked through the door, I could immediately tell something was off. The furniture was out of place, there were photographs missing and other photographs that were in the wrong room. After walking around a little bit, I noticed that my living room window was wide open (which I’d never do bc I don’t have a screen and, ew, pigeons), and there were a couple of joints on the floor – I don’t smoke, so that was an extra lovely surprise for me. TBH, I was kind of mind blown with all of this because when I looked around a bit more, I realized that nothing had been stolen. I have two relatively new large smart TVs, a MacBook Pro, jewelry, etc. and none of it was missing. So someone legitimately broke into my apartment for the sole reason of throwing a party. That’s it. The best part? When I opened the door to my hall closet, there was a pizza box laying on the floor that had a name and number on it. Clearly these criminals were hard core.
This clearly wasn’t an emergency but I do live alone and wanted to take the proper precautions, so I called the non-emergency number for the police station. TBH, I was less than impressed with the response I got, because the operator legit chastised me for not calling 911. I was all, “well nobody is hurt so I didn’t think I should call 911” and she was all, “um you need the cops to come sooo obviously u need to call 911”. K THANKS LADY. ‘PRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT DURING THIS TRYING TIME.
So I call 911 and tell them what happened and they come about 45 minutes later. The cops are literally laughing at my life (and I can’t really blame them bc really, who else would this happen to?!). Not to sound pathetic or anything but I was like, “uhmmm so I’m sure you get this a lot but I watch a ton on SVU, ya know, there’s always martathons on USA today like every single day, and idk but can you check around and make sure there aren’t any cameras hidden in here or anything?” Call me crazy, but I’m not trying to be on hidden camera so some perv in Brooklyn can watch me binge on Chinese food and re-runs of Gossip Girl, ok?? So they check around and give me the all-clear, and then I ask what my options are. They basically tell me that because nothing was stolen, that this would be Criminal Trespassing, not a B&E, which idc about. When I ask if I can file a report, they for sure did not want to. Like, ok guys I get that this prob isn’t the worst thing you’ve dealt with this week, but A CRIME WAS COMMITTED HERE. File the report so I can sleep at night, amirite? And I reminded that that we have a HOT LEAD – the pizza box with the name + phone number on it. But they just told me that it could be nothing because the person could’ve used a stolen credit card to buy it. And like, ok I get that logic, but also, you don’t know that for a fact sooo shouldn’t we just check it out just to be sure?? But they weren’t into it, so I dropped it. They left, and I checked myself into a hotel for the night.
The next morning, I told the people on my team at work what happened, and the story spread like wildfire. People literally couldn’t get enough of this story. It started bothering me more + more that the police just weren’t going to follow up on this at all. So, if you know me, you won’t be surprised at all with what I did next. That’s right, I took matters into my own hands. I channeled my inner Olivia Benson/Pope. I paid $1 to look up the background info for the name + number on the pizza box. I called Domino’s and pretended to be the person who ordered this pizza and asked what the address was that was associated with the phone number so that I could figure out where this person lived. Then I added the number to my contacts list so I could find them on SnapChat/Facebook/Instagram. I KNEW THEIR WHOLE LIFE IN AN HOUR. Then I downloaded an app called Burner to get myself a fake phone number and texted the girl to tell her what the f*ck was up. This, my friends, is when things got reallll interesting.
I sent a pretty straightforward message about the whole thing. I told her that there was no point in denying the party, because there was a pizza box with her name and number on it. I told her there was video surveillance from my building that had her and her friends on tape coming and leaving the party. I also told her that I had no interest in pressing charges and that I only really cared about them paying for the damages they caused so that I could get my full security deposit back. This girl then tells me that I must be mistaken, because she didn’t host a party this weekend and I must have the wrong number. I tell her, nope, I don’t think so, because THERE’S A PIZZA BOX IN MY LIVING ROOM WITH YOUR NAME AND NUMBER ON IT. Then she calls me, almost in tears, and proceeds to tell me that she didn’t host a party this weekend but that she did attend one that was hosted by a girl she went to high school with. She coughed up a ton of info, including a fancy-ass invitation that I’ve included at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure.
I’ve since tabled my Nancy Drew lifestyle (for now) and handed this over to the police for further investigation. That wasn’t my original plan, but after seeing the invitation to this party, the disrespect was too real for me to ignore. So for now, it’s in the hands of the law. I’ll keep you updated as it all unfolds.
**In preparation for all the bragging to be done in this post, it makes the most sense for you to watch this quick video here to understand how special this kid really is.**
This weekend was one that I can say with 100% certainty that I will never forget. I’ve always been a sentimental person – I cry over Facebook videos on the daily. One time I even cried on the treadmill because the commercial that was playing cut into me like a knife through a cheesecake. I’ve always been close to my family which can be difficult at times, because it’s a somewhat complicated one. My parents divorced when I was really young and then both remarried before I was 5… and then went on to have a total of 5 kids. That’s right- I have 4 brothers and 1 sister. Yes, they’re technically “half” siblings. But if you ever refer to them as that to me, you’ll walk out of the room with a black eye. I’ve never felt like they were anything but 100% my siblings, no matter how annoying they could be. And trust me, they’ve been really freaking annoying.
That said, I was an emotional mess this weekend, because my little sister had senior prom and then graduated high school two days later. I love all of my siblings more than I could put into words, but there’s a special bond between Victoria and I that I’m not able to share with anyone else. Not only is she my sister (and my only sister at that), but she’s the one who first made me a big sister. I was lucky enough to be 6 and a half years old by the time she was born, so I remember everything. I remember counting down the days until she arrived, how I couldn’t stop looking at her and wanting to hold her once she was finally here. I remember watching her play her first season of soccer when she was just a toddler, little pigtails piled on top of her head, running around the field and being one of the only kids who could actually make any sort of contact with the ball. I’ve obnoxiously bragged about her to anyone who’d listen her entire life, because there are times where I’m so proud of her that I feel like my heart could burst. She’s the only person who will truly tell me what she thinks, and call me on my bullshit. So as I watched this stunning girl pose for prom pictures and throw her graduation cap in the air, there were hundreds of memories and lessons that flashed before me. Here are 5 that are my favorite:
1. I am the only person standing in my way
*Just to warn you now, this post is going to be full of bragging.* Victoria is hands-down the hardest working person I have ever known. Not that she’s not naturally smart, but her grades are not simply a result of genetic intelligent. From day one, she has been viciously competitive (mostly with herself) in everything that she does, but especially with school. She is not someone who doesn’t have to work for it. For the last 4 years especially, she has made sacrifice after sacrifice, foregoing sleep, parties, movie nights and trips to focus on her grades. So it should come as no surprise that she finished with a 96 average, a weighted GPA of 102% (because this girl loves her AP classes), was chosen for 6 collegiate scholarships and finished as 4th in her class. This girl has worked her ass off to get to where she’s going, and has taught me that the only person who can stop me from doing what I’ve set out to do is myself.
2. To speak up for myself
To be clear, I’ve never been one to shy away from saying what I’m thinking. But there have been plenty of times when I would think to avoid being confrontational because I was afraid of what someone might think of me, or what someone might say. And then I get a call from my sister, and she’s talking about how one of her friends did something that pissed her off, and she’s asking what I think about it and if what she’s planning to say sounds good. Do you know how many times I’ve said, “uhmm are you crazy, don’t say that – what if she gets mad?” and then Victoria will just say, “so what? I’m pissed that this happened in the first place! Why should I stay quiet because she might get mad that I’m mad? That’s so stupid.” And she’s right!
3. To set the bar high when it comes to guys
Looking at photos of her and knowing she’s practically a genius, it’s not hard to see she’s a total package. I’m not saying this because I’m biased (although I clearly am), but this girl literally has guys drooling over her. If she reads this post, I know she’s reading this part and rolling her eyes and blushing, because she’s humble af. But these teenage f*ckboys who think they’re hot stuff cannot get enough of her. And you know what? Up until she turned 18, she never gave a single one of them the time of day. Not to make her sound like a bitch, but this chick has standards like you’ve never seen. A few years ago, I went to her basketball game and called her over to give a quick hug before warmups started. She pointed out this really goodlooking senior in the crowd and told me he’d been texting her the last couple of weeks to try and get her to go out with him. Not to sound like a pedo here, but the guy was pretty hot. So when I asked her wtf she was doing and why she wasn’t going, she rolled her eyes and goes, “he doesn’t care about school at all. Why the hell would I be interested in him?” WHAT KIND OF HORMONAL SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL TURNS DOWN THE HOT SENIOR BECAUSE HE DOESN’T GET GOOD GRADES?! I was somewhat shocked, but also immensely proud that she was so turned off by his lack of ambition. I’m telling you, I did a lot of re-evaluating to my love life after that one. So sad that I had to hear it from my baby sister to knock some sense into me. All I can say is this: Ladies, get yourself a man who’s hot and who also reads. You’re welcome.
4. Know. My. Worth.
Remember when I said that she didn’t give a single guy the time of day until she was 18? Well right around her 18th birthday, she fell for a f*ckboy who was so wildly unworthy of her, I’m annoyed to even dignify his existence. This Justin-Bieber-wannabe pipsqueak mother effer slid into her DMs… and then proceeded to court her on snapchat. Yes, you read that correctly. They’d never even spoken IRL before at school, and here he was, asking her to come over and hang out in his basement for movie night. Youths *insert eye roll emoji*. Like all boys who only have one thing on their mind, this troll thought that sending hundreds of cringe-worthy sappy texts and throwing around an “I love you” less than two weeks into the relationship would get him a homerun. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t do his homework on Victoria. If he had, he’d have known that she’s not about that life – something she let him know in no uncertain terms on their 3rd of 4th date. After about a month of him trying to change her mind (to no avail), he broke up with her ON FUCKING SNAPCHAT. That’s right – SNAPCHAT. TWO DAYS BEFORE HIS PROM. WHAT A FREAKING TURD. And you know what? After she got the initial tears out, she pulled herself together and moved the fuck on like the bad-ass bitch that she is. She had a new date to her prom within hours (btw, I’m obsessed with him, he’s literally the cutest kid in the world – see pics below), and this poor slob is probably sitting/waiting/wishing she’d come back. BYE FOOL, SEE YA NEVER. She never sat around feeling sorry for herself, wondering what she did wrong or why he didn’t want to be with her. If anything, she was insulted that he thought he could do better. TBH, I am too, since he obviously can’t, but I digress. This girl knows her worth, and she’s not afraid to let you know it too.
5. To do what’s right for me, and ignore everyone else
As I mentioned earlier in this post, Victoria is incredibly smart. Truth be told, she probably could’ve gotten into an ivy league if she wanted. She graduated with a 102% weighted grade, she played varsity soccer + basketball since 8th grade, led both teams to county championships this year, is the all-time leader scorer for her school (1000 pts by her Junior year, ended her senior year with 1,500 points), volunteered at animal shelters and was extremely involved at school. Her whole life, but especially these last couple of years she’s had everyone and their mother giving their 2 cents on where she should go to school. She wants to be a teacher – of that, she’s sure. So when she decided to go to Cortland, a school in upstate New York that’s known for its college of education, everyone was surprised, and nobody made it a secret. There were dozens of people who inquired as to why she wouldn’t go to a better school, why was she settling, always asking why. Truth be told, her decision was not taken lightly. At the end of the day, she didn’t want to be buried in student loans. Cortland honored her with an incredibly prestigious scholarship, and it felt right to HER. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Every time I see her in the Red Dragons gear, I get more and more excited for my girl to start the next chapter of her life- and I’m so proud that she’s doing it on HER terms.
So about those lessons…
I think I’ve been sappy enough for one post. And TBH, I don’t want her getting too big a head from all the nice things I’ve said. So I’ll let you in on a few of her less flattering traits, because hey – we’re all human
- She had a wildly unhealthy obsession with One Direction from 2012-2016 (2017 has seemed to cool her off). When I say unhealthy, I mean that she created a fan account on Twitter that none of us were allowed to know the username of (except I secretly knew it), her room was wallpaper from floor to ceiling with magazine cutouts of the boys, my brother was somehow forced to do a book report on their group memoir, and she had the nerve to cut out a picture of Harry Styles on glue it to the angel’s face on top of our Christmas tree.
- Her nickname is “the clock” because when she’s sitting down, she position her leg in a 90 degree angle and then pull it straight up past her head. It’s both incredible + terrifying.
- She dances like Elaine from Seinfeld – click here to see what I’m talking about – it’s not a pretty sight. PS – this video is a SPOT ON impression of her. The only reason I’m not including a video of Victoria herself is because some of her friends follow me and she’d prob never speak to me again.
There’s plenty more, but I love her too much to share 😉 Vic, I’m so proud of you. Oh, the places you’ll go ❤
I’d like to preface everything I’m writing here with the fact that I cannot make an edible meal to save my life. Anything beyond sandwiches and cereal is too advanced for me lolll Patrick is so lucky to have me 🙂 🙂 🙂 Not only am I awful at following a recipe, I’m also a picky eater – I have vegetables with a burning passion. Like, I was legit the kid that had to sit at the dinner table for an extra hour because I wasn’t allowed to get up before my veggies were gone, and I would carry on for a good 45-75 minutes about what an unjust world I lived in. Once, my dad threatened me with no TV for a week if I didn’t finish my cauliflower. I ended up scarfing it down so fast that I threw it right back up. This was back in the day when Lizzie McGuire was bae and hello, #PRIORITIES – I was not about to miss that show.
Anyways, I still hate vegetables – nothing has changed there. But now I know that I kind need them to survive or whatever. Ugh. So inconvenient. I recently purchased a nutri-bullet, and it’s legit the best thing I’ve done in 2017. I make smoothies with not much more than fruits, veggies and water every morning, and I can already see the difference it’s making with my metabolism and my body. I’ve pulled in 7 of my favorite recipes for you – check them out and let me know what you think!
1. Pink Sunbutter Smoothie
Tbh, I first made this smoothie because it was hot pink and I thought it was really pretty. It also incorporates beets, which isn’t a food that I typically include in my smoothies or would’ve thought about much before. Get the full recipe from Coffee and Quinoa here !
2. Berry + Cauliflower Smoothie
This is my favorite one! I make it way more than the others, because it amazes me that even though I despise cauliflower with all that I have, I throw it in with my berry combo and I cannot taste a thing. Like, it legit has a whole cup of cauliflower and I couldn’t tell at all. #Miracles. Get the recipe from Simple Roots Wellness here !
3. Cranberry Mango Layered Smoothie
This is another super pretty smoothie that caught my attention primarily because of how fun it looks, and also because it includes ingredients that I don’t typically add to my smoothies. It’s refreshing and tart, and reminds me of summer days – perfect for the end of June! And don’t let the name fool you – it also includes 2 large handfuls of spinach, so you’re still getting your veggies in. One thing to note about this recipe – there is an inclusion of orange juice that you can totally follow, but I try not to because just added sugar that you seriously don’t need – the natural sugars of the fruit will sweeten this plenty! You can get the full recipe from Peas and Crayons here !
4. Sunset Smoothie
Yet another sneaky smoothie that’s delicious + nutritious. This one has a different ingredient than the rest – carrots! The vitamin C is also fantastic for your cortisol levels – AKA what causes belly fat. The only thing to note is that the recipe includes OJ which is something that I don’t use in order to lower the sugar and carb intake. Get the full recipe from Happy Healthy Mama here !
5. Mojito Smoothie
Feeling the island vibes this morning? Try this fab + healthy Mojito dupe! The lime + mint combo is crazy refreshing, especially on hot summer mornings where you feel yourself dragging. This is also great for cutting out sugary alcoholic drinks from your diet. You still get the taste without the alcohol. And if you feel the need to slip some rum in there for Happy Hour, you can feel better knowing that the mixer is healthy and fresh! Get the full recipe from Wonky Wonderful here !
6. Tropical Green Smoothie
Ok, so I’m mostly obsessed with this because I die over anything that will get me to eat my greens without having to taste them even a little bit. So the idea of having as much as 3 large handfuls of spinach in this recipe without being able to tell is nothing short of amazing to me. The sweetness of the pineapple is really what masks it from tasting to “healthy” – you honestly probably wouldn’t be able to tell at all if you didn’t see the green coloring of it. So many vitamins jam-packed into this delicious smoothie, and it keeps you full for hours. Try out the recipe from 52 Kitchen Adventures here !
7. Blueberry Banana Smoothie
You can’t go wrong with a classic, which is why this last-but-not-least smoothie is my absolute favorite. Bananas, blueberries and cauliflower are the three main ingredients here (there’s also cashews in this recipe, but I don’t personally add those for myself). The cauliflower (as I’ve preached about above) is packed with vitamins C and B, as well as fiber. One of the healthiest recipes on this list, I recommend this to be the first one you try! Get the full recipe from Harriet Emily here !