Activities for Winter in NYC

Happy 2019!

If you happened to have read my love letter to 2018, then you probably saw that I touched on how I haven’t been super active with my blog lately. It’s true, I’ve been majorly slacking. My day job has been crazed with end of year marketing sales, I had some family stuff going on and I just didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth to put out decent content. Not that this post is going to be majorly deep or anything, but at least there are some fun things for you guys to check out!

For my non-local readers – I’m sorry! This one probably won’t be super fun for you to read, but maybe it’ll provide some inspo for what’s available in your own areas!. For my girls who are local to NYC and the surrounding area, this is for you! I’m all about finding fun activities you can do with your significant other or your friends, and I’m also all about finding the less expensive ones. Here are some of my faves! And by the way, this post is not sponsored by Groupon. It’s just where I went to find a lot of the ideas haha.

Escape The Room

Mission Escape Games: Located in midtown Manhattan, 2 tickets for $48 (20% off)

Amazing Escape Room: Located in Montclair, NJ. 8 tickets for $172 (23% off)

PanIQ Escape Room: Located in downtown Manhattan, 4 tickets for $79 (47% off)

Exit Escape Room: Located in midtown Manhattan, up to 8 tickets for $169 ($25% off)

 

Ice Skating

Sky Rink At Chelsea Piers: Located in Chelsea, 1 ticket is $12 (37% off)

Newport Skates: Located in Jersey City. 2 tickets for $16 (38% off)

Aviator Sports & Events: Located in Brooklyn. 2 tickets for $18 (50% off)

 

Arts & Crafts

Arte Vino Studio: Located in Hoboken. 2 tickets for BYOB Painting $44 (50% off)

La Mano Pottery: Located in Chelsea. 1 ticket for Hand Building Workshop $38 (49% off)

Painting Lounge: Located in midtown Manhattan. 2 tickets for BYOB Painting $68 (32% off)

 

Comedy

Standup Show with Drinks: Located in Upper West Side. Two General Admission Tickets to a Comedy Show with Two Drinks, and Two General Admission Tickets to a Future Show for $20 (80% off).

Dangerfield’s Comedy Club: Located in Upper East Side. 1 ticket is $12 (40% off).

Dark Horse Comedy Club: Located in downtown Manhattan. 3 tickets are $5 (93% off).

 

Been to something in the area that’s not on this list, but that you LOVED? Send me a message or comment below! xo AJ

My love letter to 2018

*DISCLAIMER* I actually wrote an entirely different “love letter” to 2018 before I wrote this one. In my old one, I focused on things like overcoming heartbreak, figuring out who I was, and a few other things. Then a few days later (today, 12/31, I went to publish it, and I stopped myself. I suddenly felt very differently about how I wanted to remember 2018. So what you’re about to read (if you’re interested!) is what a recap of what I did, what I learned, and what I want for myself in 2019. My wish for you, reader, is that you’re able to resonate with just one tiny thing that I write about. And if you don’t, that’s ok! My wish is that you take 2019 by the balls and make it yours. We got this.



If you’ve been following me for a while, then it’s possible that you read the letter that I wrote last New Years – my love letter to 2017. When I wrote it, I was super fresh off of a hard breakup, and I was feeling scared and vulnerable, but also excited. There was so much my heart was confused over, and yet, the thought of what a new year could bring – what could bring – that’s what left me buzzing with hope.

2018 was such a year. So it’s only right that it gets a love letter of it’s own, no?

Dear 2018,

To understand what motivated me for you, we need to rewind a little bit. In August of 2017, my family suffered a massive loss from the death of my Uncle Scott. This man was incredible. Was he perfect? Nope. But he was loving. He was kind. He was someone who gave back, not just with money but with time. He was someone who asked how your day was going and genuinely wanted to know, whether you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the valet guy at the restaurant. At his funeral, there were literally over a thousand people that showed up – that’s the first thing that struck me as incredible, because it was overwhelming how many people wanted to be there to pay their respects. But what stuck with me most was what someone said during his eulogy. That my Uncle Scott was the kind of guy who played offense – never defense. He worked incredibly hard, but he also played incredibly hard. He lived a full life and made more memories in his 40 something years than most people make in 80.

I walked away from that vowing that I would do the same. I think about him almost every day, and remind myself that life is short and that I want to take as many opportunities as I can to experience it all. So that’s what I did in 2018. I experienced everything I could.

When I wrote my letter last year, I decided that 2018 was going to be my “year of yes”. If something intrigued me, even a little bit, I was going to do it. Which is how I ended up getting so many stamps in my passport! January? Spent a long weekend in Tulum, Mexico. March? Spent a week in the most gorgeous villa I’ve ever seen with my family in Costa Rica. The summer saw a smattering of trips to the beaches in Montauk and Rhode Island. October? Hopped on a plane and split a week between Portugal and Morocco, and celebrated my 26th birthday in Marrakech. HOW did I get so lucky?! I got to zipline through rainforests and jungles, get soaked while white water rafting down rapids, take a mud bath in natural springs, ride a camel in the desert and shop in the souks. And every time I did it, I thought of my uncle and smiled a little bit, because I know he’d be proud that I was going on all of these adventures.

Not to bury the lead, but my favorite part in my “year of yes”? Completing the NYC marathon. It didn’t require a stamp in my passport – just a ticket on the Staten Island ferry. But it was, by far, one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my life. Did I run every step? HELL NO. But I moved throughout every inch of those 26.2 miles, across Staten Island and Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx and finally, Manhattan. And it hurt and I was tired and I cried when I crossed the finish like. But I did it. I crossed the finish line. And I’m already looking forward to doing it again in November.

But when playing hard, one must also be working hard, which is why I made a career change in March of this year. After almost 3 years at XO Group, I moved on by taking a leap of faith at a small start up company in  the digital marketing space. Within two months, I was given the opportunity to start managing someone under me, and a few months after that, I was also given the opportunity to lead in cultivating our agency’s relationships with major national and international publishers. I’m working harder than I ever have before in my career. I come in on weekends, I answer calls and emails on major national holidays, I frequently stay far later than what’s expected. But I know that the work I’m putting in now will not only pay off down the road, but helps me to build the kind of reputation in my industry and with my clients that I’m proud to have. I can now confidently say that I’m an extremely hard worker, that I’m proud of the work I put out there and that I’m growing and improving every single day.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve put my blog on the back burner. I have grossly neglected it, hardly posting new blog posts or Instagram photos. I’ve been so focused on actually living life, that I’ve forgotten to post about it. For a while, I felt guilty and burdened by that. It bothered me that I started something and wasn’t giving it the attention it needed to flourish. It bothered me that my follower count wasn’t growing, or that I wasn’t getting as many brands wanting to collaborate with me. But I recently reminded myself of why I started this blog in the first place. I started it because I wanted to have a place to express my thoughts and feelings, to get things off my chest, to have a healthy, cathartic, creative outlet. And that’s what this still is. I know that I have this place where I can come and vent and share experiences, whether they’re sad or exhilarating, and that it’s mine. I know I’ll come back to it with more heart at some point, but it’s not something I want to force.

In 2019, I want to grow. I hope that one year from now, I’m writing about how I’ve grown as a person. How I’ve become more humble, more patient, more understanding. I hope that I’ll become better at apologizing first. I hope that I’ll learn more about how to treat my body better – not necessarily to lose weight, but to have better overall health, physically and mentally. I hope I’ll continue to become a better friend, sister and daughter. I hope I’m sitting here, one year from now, proud of who I am.

xoxo,

AJ

4 Tips To Relieve Stress

Guys, life is stressful. Paying bills is stressful. Being an adult is stressful.

I’m sure I’m not saying anything you didn’t already know, and you’re probably rolling your eyes already – I don’t blame you. But I do want to share with you some ways that I try to deal with stress so that I’m not an uber-grinch to everyone all the time. I partnered with Red & White Spa Midtown in NYC to encourage you to take some time for yourself and de-compress. You know how on airplanes, they say that you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others? That’s because you’re of no use to anyone if you run out of oxygen and collapse on the spot. DUH.

After 26 years on this planet, I know a thing or two about unwanted stress. While I definitely have a slew of privileges that plenty of others don’t, that doesn’t make me immune to feeling like I might crack sometimes. Between balancing friendships, improving romantic relationships, furthering my career and working on ever-present family drama + dynamics, sometimes it feels like I forget to breathe. Have you ever felt like that? I bet you have. And guess what? It’s ok. It’s normal. But it’s also really, really important to know when you need to take a second and take care of yourself. Here are some of my favorite ways.

  • Yoga. Now here me out, because this is important. I’m not talking about the yoga that’s like, a real workout and leaving you sweating (although I’m sure that’s nice too). Tbh, I really don’t enjoy that kind of yoga at all. This is different – it’s more of a mix of stretching and breathing exercises. Things have been BANANAS at work recently, and last week my boss treated us by bringing someone into the office to walk us through a half hour of stretching, breathing, and just connecting with our bodies and being at peace. It was freaking life changing. By the end of 30 minutes, I felt exponentially calmer, less tense, and ready to conquer the rest of my week. There are tons of different ways to do something like this. Classes, of course, but you can also YouTube different videos, download podcasts, or download apps that walk you through brief meditations.

 

  • Getting a massage. As I mentioned, work has been insane for me the last month or so. I’m talking working until 11pm on a Friday kind of insane. When Red & White Spa Midtown reached out to me to ask if I wanted to come in and try some of their services, I nearly cried from excitement. The tension that had been building up in my shoulders was something fierce. I could literally see little bulges of muscles gathered on my shoulders/neck, and it wasn’t cute. I made an appointment for after work, took the subway up to their 56th street location, and laid down for what turned out to be the most relaxing hour I’ve had all year. The spa is really nice, and aside from massages, they offer a ton of different services. I got the 1 hour Swedish massage, which started off with a brief moment of aromatherapy (which btw, excellently timed bc my sinuses were all backed up from the weather and this cleared them right up!), and then for the next 55 minutes, I was blissfully catatonic. My massage therapist got out every last knot in my back and shoulders, and created an atmosphere in which I was truly able to block out any concerns I’d been having about work and just focus on absolutely nothing. My mind was clear, something that hadn’t happened in a long time. As a thank you, they’re also offering 40% off any of their services to all of my readers. All you have to do is mention me when you stop by 🙂

 

  • Bubble bath: Why make it complicated? Sometimes a simple bubble bath is the cure for a stressful day. Make it nice for yourself. Add in a delicious bath bomb, light a few of your favorite candles (note: do NOT place them by your head if you want to avoid potentially lighting your hair on fire), pour a nice cup of hot tea (or wine!), and throw on some soothing music. Not only will the hot water loosen up your muscles, but you’re now placing yourself in a calming environment, which is crucial. I try and do this at least once a week, as a way to maintain some level of sanity. Wanna get really crazy? Throw on a sheet mask while you’re at it.

 

  • Exercise. As Elle Woods would say, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know there’s two things I LOVE to do. One of them is dancing, and the other is running. I’ve danced pretty much my whole life, and it feels like therapy to me. Going to my Wednesday night hip hop classes is something I truly look forward to every week. Not only is it fun, but I feel accomplished knowing that I’m challenging myself to learn  new choreo in under an hour, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I hit it at the end. When it comes to running, I may have exaggerated by saying I love it – I don’t LOVE it. I love how it calms me down. When I run, it forces me to regulate my breathing so that I’m not panting 2 minutes in. I’m someone who gets anxiety and when I feel that pressure in my chest that makes it hard to breathe, I throw on my sneakers and hit the pavement. It gives me no other option than to correct my breathing patterns, and in turn, releases endorphins and a sense of calmness. I haven’t always been a runner, and you don’t need to be a “runner” for this to work for you. I HIGHLY recommend trying it out though.

 

Any other tips? Send them my way! xo, AJ

Must-Have Clothing Pieces For Fall

It blows my mind that we’re at the end of August and that I’m even in a place where I can start posting about cute fall staple pieces. Let me tell you, I AM HERE FOR IT. I live for the fall. Fall clothes, crisp air, football games, not sweating profusely when I stand outside for longer than 10 seconds. I used to love fall because my birthday is in October, but now that I’m at the age where birthdays are another reminder that I’m one year closer to needing botox, they’ve lost their appeal.

While it’s challenging to think about and shop for sweaters and leather leggings when it it’s still 87 degrees and averaging a solid 93% humidity every day, I’m here to tell you that there are some styles you’re going to want to snag ASAP. I’m not one of those early adopters who hop on every fugly trend, regardless of what model is suffering through walking down the runway wearing it. That said, you’re going to see a whole lot of classics that are affordable and can be re-worn over and over, season after season.


Jeans

I used to covet the iconic Abercrombie symbol on the back pockets of my jeans in the seventh grade. Who didn’t?! A classic status symbol when it came to the hierarchy of who was cool and who wasn’t. But ever since I hit 20, I realized that logos on the backs of jeans weren’t as cool as they once were. Tragic. Luckily, A&F rebranded recently and got rid of their blatant logos all over their clothes, and now I’m obsessed again! I just ordered a bunch of their jeans since they’re all on sale right now. And the best part is that when you place your first order, you get $20 when you spend $50, and you get free shipping over orders of $75 .They’r running a massive sale rn, so go check it out.

Honorable mentions for jeans I also love, but don’t care to write a monologue about:

  • J. Crew Factory: They have classic cuts and are completely work appropriate, since most of their jeans don’t come distressed.
  • Old Navy: Not only do they have what feels like hundreds of styles, but they’re always having a sale, and they have really great colored denim options in great fall colors.

Abercrombie Selects

Left: High Rise Ankle Jeans, $44. Right: High Rise Ankle Jeans, $44

 

J. Crew Factory Selects

Left: Straight & Narrow Jeans 29″ Inseam, $39,50. Right: High Rise Skinny Jeans 29″ Inseam, $39.50

 

Old Navy Selects

Red: Mid-Rise Pop Color Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans, $25. Pink: Mid-Rise Pop Color Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans, $29 Green: Mid-Rise Rockstar Super Skinns Jeans, $25. Orange: Mid-Rise Sateen Rockstar Jeans, $29


Sweaters

Let’s be frank. I have far too many sweaters in my closet, but couldn’t care less. I wear them all the time, no matter the season, because my office absolutely insists that we keep the AC on 64 degrees at all times. Lucky me, the vent is directly in front of my face. So yeah, sweaters are a must. All of the ones that I listed out below are sweaters that I’ve either ordered in the last two weeks, or will be ordering in the next two week. Again, super affordable! Forgive me for all things Target here, but I cannot express how much I love their sweaters every year! They do such a great job at giving a mix between bland and chic.

Abercrombie Selects

Left: Wrap Front Sweater, $39 (I bought in all 3 colors). Right: Open Stitch Cable Cardigan, $35

 

Shein Selects

Green: Eyelash Lace Drop Shoulder Jumper, $18. Plaid: High-Neck Gingham Crop Sweater, $18 Pink: Drop Shoulder Fluffy Sweater, $22. Grey: Grey Long Sleeved Loose Sweater, $21

 

Target Selects

Yellow: Cable Crewneck Pullover Sweater, $20. Leopard: Animal Print Any Day Cardigan, $23 White: Woven Patterned Cocoon Cardigan, $25. Light Grey: Belted Cardigan, $30 Red/Black: Woven Patterned Cocoon Cardigan, $25. Neutral Colorblock: Colorblocked Cable Pullover Sweater, $40 Plaid: Plaid Fuzzy Sweater, $50. Grey Ruffle: Ruffle Bell-Sleeve Pullover Sweater, $40 Cape: Wrap Sweaters Sylvia Alexander, $40.

 


Dresses

I’m 1000% guilty of always buying dresses and then rarely wearing them because I’m the type of girl who prefers jeans and a tee over a dress. I’m pale af and showing off my blindingly white legs is not something I enjoy. HOWEVER. Fall means tall boots are not only in style, but your legs won’t get all sweaty and sticky on the inside of the boot because it’s not 90+ degrees out anymore. Check out the dresses I have my eye on below – my favorite is the overall dress from Mint.

The Mint Julep Boutique Selects

Plaid: Plaid Party Dress, $40. Maxi: Record Beauty Maxi Dress, $56 Denim: Calling On You – Dark Denim, $39.         Overall: Need You Now Overall Dress in Marsala, $44 

 

Shein Selects

Black W/ Buttons: Single Breasted Bishop Sleeve Dress, $15. Blue Stripes: Striped Single Breasted Side Knot Dress, $18 Belted Army Green: Button Front Belted Collar Neck Dress, $19. Black V-Neck W/ Pockets: Single Breasted Wrap Knot Back Dress, $20 Green W/ Buttons: Single Breasted Bishop Sleeve Dress, $18. White Flowy Maxi: Mock Neck Semi Sheer Pleated Floral Dress, $17 Short Sleeve: Frayed Edge Button Detail Tweed Dress, $18. Burnt Orange Midi: Button Up Polka Dot Dress, $24 Sweater Dress: Drop Shoulder Marled Knit Tee Dress, $14

 

Aerie Selects

Grey: Knot Long Sleeve Dress, $28. Lilac: Long Sleeve Fleece Dress, $35  Black: Plush Turtleneck Dress, $28.

Shoes

I have a legit problem with buying shoes. I have SO many, it’s getting out of hand. The real drag of it all is that I love the way that heels look in my closet, but I hate wearing them, I’m wayyy more into booties or slip on sneakers. That said, you’re about to see a whole lot of comfy shoes below. If you’re looking for anything sexy, this post is not for you.

Nordstrom Rack Selects

Silver Mules: Something Navy Cain Strappy Mules, $29. Camel Booties: Sole Society Vixen Bootie, $30 Grey Booties: Luis Suede Open Toe Bootie, $40. Leopard Sneakers: Aldo Ramelli Slip On Sneaker, $45 Gold Sneakers: Marc Fisher Elise Platform Sneaker, $50. Black Sneakers: J/Slides Aristocrat Platform Sneaker, $50 Purple Loafers: Franco Sarto Hadden Tassel Loafer, $40. Silver Loafers: Franco Sarto Hudley Loafer, $50 Leopard Loafers: Naturalizer Veronica Loafer, $40

 

Target Selects

Rose Gold Loafers: Micah Pointed Toe Closed Loafers, $23. Brown Slides: Amber Backless Loafer Mules, $23 Gold Loafers: Penny Loafers, $28. Brown Loafers: Quinn Closed Back Loafers, $28 Camel Sneakers: Jena Lace Up Sneakers, $20. Grey Sneakers: Jena Espadrille Lace Up Sneakers, $20 White Sneakers: Mandy Canvas Lace Up Sneakers, $17. Silver Sneakers: Baylee Sneakers, $35 Heeled Mules: Norelle Microsuede Stacked Heeled Mules, $30 Black Booties: Ellie Chelsea Boots, $30. Tan Booties: Emerson Heeled Fashion Boots, $38 Amber Booties: Metallic Western Ankle Boots, $38.

Kohls Selects

Brown Booties: Pearl Ankle Boots, $35. Black Booties: Baron Ortholite High Heeled Ankle Boots, $50 Tan Booties: Clock Ankle Boots, $45. Black Sneakers: Muk Luks Gianna Womens Boat Shoes, $32 Blue Tassel Loafers: Capri Loafers, $50. Navy Bow Slides: LC Lauren Conrade Mules, $35 Checkered Mules: Sam Edelman Sydney Mules, $50. Blush Flats: LC Lauren Conrad Gazania D’Orsay Flats, $20 Blue Velvet Loafers: LC Lauren Conrad Calla Pointed Loafers, $20

 


 

That should help get y’all through the first month or two of fall. And if it doesn’t, than your shopping problem is worse than mine. I’ll be back in October with an update on must-have outwear, cold-weather accessories, and anything else that comes my way. Happy Spending! xo, AJ

Cheers to Four Years in NYC

I’ve officially been calling NYC home for four years. CAN YOU BELIEVE?! And before any of you snobs get on my case for the fact that I moved out to Jersey City last summer, grab a spoon (hi toasters), because JC is considered the NYC metro area so therefore it still counts kthanksbye.

I could go on for HOURS about what I’ve learned since living here, but here’s what’s important.

  1. I convinced myself the first 2 and a half years that there would never be a mouse in my apartment. I was wrong. Twice. TBH, as long as I don’t see them, I’m fine with pretending they’re not there. I legit announce myself when walking into my apartment and give any potential mice a 10 second head start. We’re learning to live with it.
  2. There’s no such thing as having a lot of money in NYC. Even if you make a lot of money, you end up spending it. It’s a weird, sick cycle. Think you’ll save a lot if you make $100k+ a year? Wrong. You’ll blow it on spending $3k + a month on rent because you just had to have the extra bathroom space.
  3. Speaking of apartments, apartment hunting is an absolute joke. If you see a place that you don’t completely hate and won’t force you to live on ramen 75% of the month, SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE MY FRIEND. You have about 30 seconds to fork over the deposit, first month’s rent, and broker fee before somebody comes along and snatches it right from your hands. It’s the hunger games out here.
  4. Subways have been, still are and always will be the easiest way to get around in the city. Am I guilty of getting an Uber because I’m too lazy to get on the Subway and possibly have to stand in case I don’t get a seat? Yes. Does it take me 20 minutes longer to get to my destination? Also yes. Does it cost me at least $20 every time I’m this lazy? Yes, at a minimum. Take the subway.
  5. Moving is such a bitch. Trust me on this. I’ve moved four times now, and it has 100% sucked each and every time. If you can stay in your apartment, DO IT.
  6. If you absolutely cannot stay in your apartment, suck it up and higher movers. Or at the very least, hire a couple guys off Task Rabbit for a few hours. You’re going to be spending money to move either way and having (semi) professionals there to help you will save you from a dramatic amount of blood, sweat and tears. I tried to move by myself once and I can assure you, it will NEVER happen again.
  7. I’ve lived here for four years, and I simply cannot understand the hysterics surrounding cockroaches. It’s a bug dude, hit it with your shoe and flush it down the toilet. Grow a pair and move on.
  8. Speaking of things that are scary, I feel like my tolerance has quadrupled in terms of what has any effect on me anymore. To this day, the grosses thing I’ve seen is a tie between a homeless man ~pleasuring~ himself in front of me on the subway, and a homeless woman straight up squatting over the subway tracts and pooping  onto them in front of a family of now-scarred german tourists. Literally nothing phases me anymore.
  9. Your corner bodega will be the most convenient place for you to buy groceries, but also the most expensive. Four years here, and I’ve yet to understand how they decide to price things the way they do. Sorry, but I’m can’t justify paying $6.50 for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at your store one week, and then $7.75 the next. Like what? that much inflation in 7 days? Nahhh, my man. Just go to Duane Reade for the essentials.
  10. Dating in this city is such a joke. Like yeah I know guys suck pretty much everywhere, but they’re at least 15-20% douchier in New York. That does NOT mean I advise against dating – quite the contrary. Building up my dating resume in NYC has made me emotionally tougher, built up my confidence (after having it torn down repeatedly), and helped me sort out what it is that I want in a guy. I can now successfully spot red flags from miles away (LOL still don’t pay attention to them tho…). No joke, I’ve probably been on 20-30 first dates in the last couple of years, and I’m sorta close to mastering them. Pro tip: ALWAYS put a time limit on your first date. There’s nothing worse than being excited to go out with someone, getting there and not vibing, and then realizing you’re forced to spend hours with this person with no end in sight. Put. A. Limit. On. It. You’ll thank me later.
  11. There are literally thousands of cool things to do, no matter what day or time it is. I’ve gone trapezing off of Chelsea Piers, attended a massive Rosé picnic on Governor’s Island, been a part of the World’s Largest Champagne Toast, and I’m running in the NYC marathon this November. My biggest tip? Take advantage of every minute you have.
  12. My friends are my lifeline. I don’t have a massive group of friends in New York, but I do have a small group of truly quality girls that have made this last four years worth every second. They’re a huge part of why I didn’t end up moving to Boston or California. I have best friends that don’t live in the city, and our bond is incredibly strong. But my girls in New York understand my life in a different way, a way that you couldn’t know unless you’ve lived it yourself. It’s impossible to express how grateful I am or how lucky I feel to have landed a group of friends like them. If you should get so lucky, hold on to them for dear life.