5 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Little Sister

**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.

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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 Courtland, 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. Courtland 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.

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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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 ❤

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7 Healthy Smoothies That Require Zero Skills

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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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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 !

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Summer 2017 – The Hottest Places to Cool Off in NYC

I have to say, I’m feeling personally victimized by the NYC weather these last few weeks. No word of a lie, there were people wearing freakin’ overcoats to work last week but come Saturday, I was sweating through my t-shirt on the way back from the subway to my apartment. Like, WTF? Nahh, I’m not about that life. Summer in NYC means millions of angry New Yorkers crammed on subways (you just know you’re going to end up getting stuck underground in the car with the broken AC). From the subway, we all then cram into elevators and at least attempt to air our our sweaty clothes without being overtly disgusting about it. It is what it is, we’re all animals when the temps break 80 degrees.

So now that it seems like summer is here to stay, it’s time to break out the top list of places to cool off as NYC heats up.

1. Magnum

Customize your ice cream bar in over 200,000 ways! It’s pricey for what you’re getting, but the experience is extremely cool. Mini mint chocolate chips? Pile them on! Rose petals? They’ve got ’em! When it comes to dipping, you’ve got milk, dark and white chocolate to choose from. Don’t put it off too long though, because this is a pop-up shop and won’t be around for much longer.

875 Washington Street, New York, NY

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2. Berry Park

This Brooklyn beer hall has 3,500 square feet of inside space, and a roof deck that’s almost as large. The atmosphere is casual/relaxed, unlike a lot of summertime rooftop bars where ‘casual’ means a minimum of white jeans and Jack Rodgers. This place has a 13 ft wide TV to display whatever sports match is going on that day, and is the perfect place to test out some imported beers with your friends.

4 Berry Street, Brooklyn, NY

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3. La Birreria

Easily one of my favorite rooftop bars in the city. If you’ve ever been to Flat Iron, you know that there’s tons of cool things that the district offers for summer time fun! Ground level has Eataly, which is overflowing with insanely delicious treats (including gelato – PSA: you’ll likely stand is a 20+ minute wait for the gelato because it’s heaven-sent). If you’re looking for a cooler view of the city, head up 14 floors to La Birreria, a beer garden where, if you snag the right seat, you’ll have a stunning view of the Empire State building. Makes for the perfect setting for a ~sUpEr CaNdId InStAgRaM pOsT~ ya know, the one where you and all your girls fake laugh so hard that it turns into real laughs because y’all know you looks like fools 🙂

200 5th Ave, New York, NY

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4. The Heights at Arlo NoMad

All I can say about this place is that a) I hope you like frosé and b) I hope you’re not afraid of heights 😉 This brand-new establishment opened its doors just in time for #RooftopSzn and it’s already pulling in fab reviews! All the drinks are named after cool NYC neighborhoods, so New Yorkers and tourists alike will have a fun time ordering the Jackson Heights (a.k.a. blueberry lemon, lime and ginger slush) or the Brooklyn Heights (a.k.a. tequila, lime, lemon and fresh pressed watermelon juice). The best part? The somewhat death-defying, snap-chat worthy clear floor that gives you a *clear* view all the way down the 31st street. Very cool.

11 E. 31st Street, New York, NY

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5. Loopy Doopy

The practically classic NYC summer cocktail institution became famous a few summers ago when the Prosecco + ice pop combo took Instagram by storm. Basic White Girls everywhere rejoiced at the amount of ‘likes’ they’d receive from styling their $22 drinks against the NYC backdrop. And believe me, I’m not judging- you’ll for sure be seeing me up there more than once this summer because at the end of the day, was it even summer if you didn’t insta your happy hours?

102 N. End Ave, New York, New York

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STOP: You Need To Hear This Today

I know I typically write really sarcastic pieces about things that often are relatively insignificant – the best hair product for your color-treated hair, what exercise class to try out, and cardio playlists, to name a few. Contrary to what the overall vibe of my blog may lead you to believe, I also spend a lot of my time thinking about things outside of health and beauty and how to throw shade at my boss through the written word (kidding! I don’t do that, plz don’t fire me!) That said, I wanted today’s post to be different, because what I have to say is important.

I’m a 24 year old woman in New York City. Most days, I find success in just getting out of bed and getting through work unscathed. A lot of days, I feel like I’m not good enough. I’m writing this because it was only recently that I really started to believe I’m not alone in that. How many of us have gotten up on a Monday morning and started the day by going through the motions of figuring out what to wear that will hide those 7 lbs you’ve been meaning to lose, and rummaging through to find the concealer that will best hide the dark circles under your eyes from the lack of sleep you’ve been getting? You hop in your car or on the subway, get yourself to work and start on cup 1 of 3 coffees for the morning. Go through emails, go to meetings and somehow it’s 6pm and you head out for the night. And then you go home and you’re almost afraid to be alone with your thoughts because you know that between bites of chicken + rice and re-run episodes of Friends, the thought that you aren’t doing enough keeps creeping back. For me, I live a minimum of 75% of my days thinking that at any moment, the jig is up- the world will suddenly realize that I have no f*cking idea what I’m doing most of the time. Yes, I have a good handle on what I do at work and yes, I have a decent idea day to day of how to execute what needs to get done. But when I think of myself long-term – 5 years, 2 years, even 6 months down the road, and the thought of where I’m going to be can really terrify me.

You’re NOT Crazy

I used to think that I was crazy for thinking this way. That if someone could read my thoughts, they’d think something was wrong with me. I’ve been living the post-grad/ Real World life for almost three years now, and I sometimes still think to myself, “who am I going to be when I grow up?” Does that feeling ever go away? When? Surely it can’t be like this forever – at some point, I’ll just wake up one morning and feel like I have it together. Right?

The point of this post is for me to let you know that you are not alone. I didn’t realize this for myself until pretty recently, when I found myself explaining these scary thoughts I was having to one of my friends, my eyes full of tears and my heart full of shame for even thinking like this. The idea of exposing myself left me feeling pathetic. I so wish that I had brought this up sooner, because I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only who feeling this way – far from it. It turns out most of my friends felt similarly. We’re all worried about taking a risk and going for a new job. Because “it won’t look good on our resumes if we’re job-hopping”. What’s the alternative to not moving on to a new job? Being miserable for the next 2-4 years of your life. Do you really want to wake up at 27, or 30 or 32 and think, damn I’m really happy that I stuck it out at a place I hated all this time? Probably not. And you know what else? If you want to move on to a company that you’re passionate about, that will show in your cover letters and interviews! People will feel your energy and understand you’re serious.

He’s Just Not That Into You

The same goes for friendships and relationships. I’m so sick of seeing people I love tolerate things they don’t deserve. I’m guilty of this myself, and I hate it – it’s one of the qualities that I like least about myself. How many times have you really cared for someone, so you excused their poor behavior and the ways they treated you when it was less than what you deserved? Let me tell you something. You. Are. Worth. It. Do not EVER let someone make you feel like you aren’t all that and a bag of chips, because you ARE. You deserve someone who feels like they’re lucky to have you – like you matter to them. You don’t deserve to feel unworthy of someone’s love – that’s absolute bullshit. And believe me, I know it’s easier said than done. I know you can stare at your phone and tell yourself you won’t text them first, that you don’t care. And I also know that willpower doesn’t stand a chance against your heart, and that 9/10 times, you’ll end up texting them anyway. But when the texts go unanswered and they leave you on read, don’t even for one second think it’s because you’re not enough. You are ABSOLUTELY enough. And believe me, there’s someone out there who’s waiting for you. I promise. For me? I was dumped on my birthday. Two days later, I met the most amazing guy I’ve ever know. I truly didn’t know that men like this actually existed in 2017. My boyfriend actually goes out of his way to do things that show he cares. Even when we argue (because literally nobody on the face of this earth has ever had a perfect relationship with no arguing and if they tell you they have, they’re lying), he’s extremely respectful. He doesn’t yell, cuss or try to put me down. We both do our best to explain our viewpoints while trying to understand where the other is coming from. Ladies, it IS possible to be treated like this – but you need to respect yourself in order for someone else to respect you.

Let me tell you a story: My parents met in college, were married just after my mom turned 22, and I was born a month after her 23rd birthday. They were divorced before I was 3 years old. Before they got married, they’d been engaged… twice. My mom broke off the first engagement and I remember being in high school hearing this for the first time, and thinking it was really weird that two people would break off an engagement and then get back together and get married (LOL these were the days before I had the glorious high school experience of on-off relationships. So innocent. So naive). Anyway, she told me that the reason they got back together is because she was so worried that she’d end up alone, eating dinner across the table from my grandparents when she was 45. At the time, I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and was like, that’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. But you know what? I get it now. I understand the fear of feeling like, holy shit. Maybe there’s nobody out there who’s going to love me for the rest of my life. I had this whole timeline when I was little that I’d be married at 26, have my first of four kids by 27 and be wealthy and live in a big house and not have to be a working mom. JOKES ON ME, GUYS! I’m 24.5 years old and I just barely have my shit together.

Count Your Wins

But you know what? Maybe just barely having my shit together is enough right now. There’s days where I call my mom crying that I’m living in NYC and barely able to save any money, or that I have no idea what I want to do with my life. There’s nights where I call my best friend crying that I’m never going to find my soulmate. But then I take a step back and I think about what I’ve done in these last 24 years, and it’s pretty awesome.

So here you go. Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve done that I’m proud of:

  • I started off freshman year of college super rocky and almost failed out… and then I studied my ass off and got 3.7s and 4.0s and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a 3.5 GPA
  • I tried out for the University of Kentucky Women’s Choir, made it, and then traveled throughout England and Ireland for 2 weeks on a tour with these women, singing in theaters and cathedrals that are world-famous.
  • I survived living in a 5 bedroom house with just me and 12 guys for 2 years in college (it’s the little things*)
  • I got a grown-up job in NYC before I even graduated college
  • I moved to NYC right after I graduated and just did the damn thing
  • I won an award for being the top performer at my first job less than a year after I started
  • I moved on to a different company, in a job with a different industry, and excelled (note without a LOT of bumps in the road, but I did it)
  • I’ve spend time in other countries getting to explore every year (and I’m going to Scotland by myself in September!)
  • I’ve made some of the most amazing friends I could ever have imagined.

Sometimes, you need to make a list for yourself. Little reminders that you’re doing a great job. That you’re seeing things, meeting people, challenging yourself. If you truly hate your job, move on. If the guy you’ve been hooking up with for the last year keeps making excuses on why you guys aren’t official, move on. As my favorite movie, He’s Just Not That In To You, would say, you’re not the exception – you’re the rule. He’s probably not going to wake up one day and randomly realize he’s in love with you. But you know what? There’s someone out there who won’t need a year. There’s someone out there who will know after the first date that they’re never going to want to let you go. There’s a job out there that will make you feel like you’re really contributing every day. These are the things that are worth pursuing. Just know that at the end of the day, someone loves you. Someone appreciates you. And you are, without a doubt, enough.

5 Ways to Improve Your Health by Tomorrow

You know when you see those #Fitspo posts on the ‘gram and you’re 50% like, “yaaas kween #LIFEGOALS!! But then you also get momentarily paranoid bc you just rolled your eyes SO hard into the back of your head that you think they might get stuck there?? Because you have a life and a job and friends and you like food and this girl clearly has none of those things because if she did she wouldn’t have time to look like that?? TBH if you haven’t felt like that before, not even once, then you and I prob wouldn’t be friends IRL. One of the top requirements I look for in a friend is their ability to insta-judge sooo..

Anyways, just because you may not appear to be photoshopped 110% of the time like the #Fitspo models of the world, that doesn’t mean you’re not healthy. And can I get really honest with you for a second? Like, for real, no jokes? Thanks! Because I’m here to tell you what you probably should already know but definitely don’t remind yourself of, which is that being healthy doesn’t always mean having a flat stomach and a thigh gap (if you have a thigh gap, this is another thing that would probably also mean we can’t be friends- I know, I’m the worst, UGH!) When thinking about if you’re healthy, you should think about it in all senses. Do you take vitamins? Do you make a conscious effort to get some sort of movement going every day? Do you pay attention to your skin? Do you pay attention to your mental health? All of these things are extremely important to your health – not just if you ate your recommended servings of fruits + veggies, and ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes yesterday.

I have 5 things that I actively try to incorporate into my daily life to improve my health. Check them out and see if you can try to add one or two of them into your life too!

1. Getting enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough! I used to be a serious night owl. Like, going to bed before 1am (a.k.a the “hour of the f*ckboy) on a weeknight would be early for me. But my boyfriend is practically a grandpa and goes to bed around 9pm so once we started dating, I would get really bored after he went to bed and start winding down a lot earlier. Now I try to be in bed by 11pm – it helps me get 8 hours (my alarm goes off around 7:15am every morning). And I’ve been SO much more productive at work! Need help getting to sleep earlier? Check out my post on tips + tricks for a better night’s sleep here !

2. Take your vitamins! In my first 24 years of life, I seriously neglected the vitamin industry as a whole. Flash-forward to April 2017 when I slept at my friend’s apartment and she handed me two gummy vitamins that promoted restful sleep. I took them, felt sleepy within 20 minutes, and then slept through the entire night like a rock, then woke up feeling the most rested I had in months. The next day, I went out to CVS a bought not only the Restful Sleep vitamins, but the Undeniable Beauty (vitamin C, Biotin, borage oil) the Hello Sunshine (vitamin D), and the Women’s Super Foods (Vitamins D, E, B6, B12, Folic Acid and Biotin). They’re all from the Olly Nutrition company – ever heard of them? They’re new to the market, and the best part is they’re extremely affordable. Each container is only $13, and I’ve truthfully felt healthier since the day I started taking them. I highly recommend you check them out ASAP! You can shop them here.

 

3. Protect yourself from the sun. I’m going to share some stats with you that are straight from skincancer.org:

  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • One person dies of melanoma every 54 minutes.
  • An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017 (and melanoma only accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases).
  • The vast majority of melanoma cases are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carinoma by about 40% and the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.
  • More than 419,000 cases of skin caner in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning.
  • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking. 

Scary, huh? This is a biggie, especially for those of you who are fair-skinned like I am. Not exaggerating, I’m so pale and my veins are so blue that my dad once mistook them for being magic marker drawings on me when I was younger. Even though I’m not a fan of being as pale as I am, I try to give myself credit for doing my best to protect the skin I have. I went to school down south and if you know anything about southern girls, you know they loooove a good tan, which is why there’s a tanning bed on every corner at most college campuses. Despite being the girl with practically translucent legs, I never once stepped foot into a tanning bed, because the dangers of what could happen far outweighed having darker skin for a week or two. I also do my best to apply sunscreen whenever I spend time outside, because I know that anything over 10-15 minutes in strong sunlight will have me burning, which puts me in greater danger of skin cancer. Luckily, we also live in an age where there’s 3028235 different self-tanner products on the market. I’m personally a huge fan of the Bondi Sands Liquid Gold. Having spend approx. half a lifetime testing out the different products that are available, I’d consider myself somewhat of an expert on this stuff. Here’s what I can say: It’s easy to apply, it dries quickly, it doesn’t smell bad, it’s not streaky, and you don’t look orange after you apply it. It is difficult to get it applied correctly on your hands and feet, but that’s true of pretty much any product on the market. The Nest.com has a really great article on applying self tanner – read it here.  The bottom line here is that you need to protect yourself and your body from over-exposure to the sun. There is no such thing as a safe tan. If you see something on your body, don’t wait – get it checked out. Safe > sorry.

 

4. Take care of your teeth! Raise your hand if you’ve ever rolled your eyes and/or laughed out loud when your dentist asks you how often you floss. *Raises hand* – that’s what I thought. I’ll be the first to admit that my dental hygiene game isn’t as strong as it should be. Yes, I brush, but I don’t use mouthwash and I hardly ever floss. It’s not a great look, and I generally don’t appreciate the lecturs and judginess that’s handed out by my dentist every 6 months, but what can ya do? I did my homework on this, and here’s what I found out from Colgate aka the Kings of Teeth.

  • The 47% of adult Americans who have gingivitis have a higher risk to developing dementia. This is because the bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels in the head or the bloodstream (um, ew!).
  • Bacteria from inflammation of the gums can enter your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart and end up hardening your arteries. This causes plaque to develop on your artery walls and decrease or blood blood flow through the body. This, in turn, can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Bottom line- I think we can all manage to spend a few extra TLC-filled minutes tending to our dental hygiene each day in exchange for being healthier overall.

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5. Find a proper work/life balance. There’s no denying that your job should be one of your priorities, but does it need to be THE priority? Chances are, the answer is no. Whenever I get super-stressed at work, my boss is famous for saying in her soothing voice, “listen. We’re not curing cancer here. This is NOT the end of the world, and it’s NOT a big deal. Let’s just work on how we can fix this.” And you know what? She’s completely right. I’m not curing some horrible disease, nor am I saving the world. I’m working with formula companies and wedding invitation designers to create advertising campaigns for parents and brides and grooms. That’s it. XO Group (where I work) has a phenomenal perk for all employees: Unlimited PTO. Yes, you read that correctly. In theory, I have unlimited vacation time throughout the year, and it doesn’t affect how I’m paid. Granted, we’re expected not to go overboard, but in my two years with the company, I’ve never requested vacation time and been denied. And you know what? It’s allowed me to stay sane. When I’m able to step away from the daily chaos that can come along with my job and focus my energy on my friends + family, and having new experiences and visiting new places, I’m so much happier.

You should absolutely work hard at your job. When you’re there, you should do the best that you can and give it your all (even though it’s ok to have an “off” day once in a while – don’t beat yourself up over this). But you also need to value your life outside of work. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: unless you are in charge of national security, or you’re literally someone who’s working on the cure for cancer (bless you), the world will not end if you don’t check your email at 9pm on a Friday night. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, you will survive. Your boss will survive. Your clients will survive. In fact, if you’re getting emails from clients at 9pm on a Friday night, you should be worried for their sanity. Whenever this happens to me, I genuinely feel bad for the person who sent that email. Like, it’s Friday night. You could be out at a bar, or you could be neflixing on your couch, idc. But you definitely shouldn’t be sending out emails that can wait until Monday morning.

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I have a task for you: Just do me this one favor, ok? Go on Airbnb and create a wishlist for all of the cool places you’d want to visit in the next five years *you can check out my recent article all about Airbnb here*. It could be somewhere that’s only a 2 hour drive away, or it could be somewhere that’s halfway across the world. Hell, it could even be just doing something in the same city that you currently live in, but you’ve never seemed to have the time to do it. Go on there, make that wishlist, and book a vacation or a stay-cation for sometime in the next 6 months. If you can’t take off of work, book it for a weekend. Invite friends! Invite your mom! Invite your boyfried! Go by yourself! Just do it. You have the responsibility to treat yourself right and spoil yourself every once in a while. One of our execs at XO Group told me once that the day you get back from your vacation is the day you should start planning your next one. It gives you something to look forward to, and I think that’s something we could all use!

 

Have more tips to share? Sound off below!

xo, AJ

Manhattan Beach: Take 1

For #MDW this year, I traded in Manhattan borough for Manhattan Beach and let me tell you, I fell in love. I told you all a few weeks ago about how my boyfriend moved back to California at the beginning of May for a job, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll start seeing a lot more posts about my adventures in Cali from now on. This weekend will be the the first of many where I’ll trade in the martinis for daiquiris, Thai for Mexican, dirt/pee/3-day-old dog crap for sand, and handshakes for hang-10s (too far?). You wanna know the ultimate sign that Manhattan Beach is the opposite or NYC? People walk around barefoot here without the instant craving for a tetanus shot. That’s big.

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Anyway, these trips will be every other month at least, which gives me an opportunity for a mini-series on all the best spots I come across while in in Los Angeles- so fun! TBH, sorry I’m not sorry that instead of being tortured by unavoidable Manhattan heat waves, I’m literally writing this while sitting on the pier watching people surf and build sandcastles. Like, I’m actually feeling spray hit me every few minutes because I’m literally HANGING OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN. Ok sry (lol not really).

This first trip is pretty low-key, because Patrick has just started his new job and needs to get some extra work done. I’m trying super hard to be the cool-girl, ya know, because I’m always SO breezy or whatever. But really, it’s not that bad, because instead of dragging him around to go shopping with me and be extra touristy, he’s getting his stuff done and I’m buying too many dresses and unabashedly staring at this girl 10 feet from me who literally has the most perfect body I’ve ever seen, which is something I could never do if Patrick were with me because I’d likely gouge his eyes out if he partook in this one-way staring contest :).

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3 places to check out when you visit Manhattan Beach:

The Kettle: We went out to dinner at The Kettle last night, which is one of (if not the only) place that’s literally open 24 hours in this beach town. We went early because food = priority and we had big plans to watch a Dog’s Purpose (side note: don’t watch this movie without a box of tissues within reach), but from what he’s told me, it’s a fun spot for 20 somethings to hang out after most of the other restaurants and bars have closed. They’re famous for their French-Onion Soup (I tried it, you need to as well), and their menu is reasonably priced. While I went for the class Angel-Hair Carbonara, Patrick decided to be boujee and get the Blue Crab Omelette (inser eye-roll here). Also, they have bran muffins which, admittedly, sound disgusting, but I tried it and omg just do yourself a favor and order 3.

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House: A favorite among the locals, the lines here start forming as early as 7:30am on weekends. I thought I’d had a good breakfast before, but few places have measured up to what Uncle Bill served us. The portions were awesome, the strawberries that topped my waffles w/ whipped cream were fresh (because I’m healthy like that), and their hot chocolate was BOMB. The bill for two came out to be less than $30, which makes no sense to me since they’re pretty much right on the beach and their rent must be insane, but who am I to argue with perfection?

Simmzy’s: Another casual spot on the beach, we had lunch here on Sunday afternoon. There’s no arguing that this is yet another prime location, and the lines speak for themselves. We got super lucky with only having a 5-10 minute wait for 2 at 1pm, but when we were leaving, we could see the line wrapping around the block! I went with a classic chicken/apple/walnut salad, while Patrick decided to be a bit more adventerous with his Hawaiian Style Poke Bowl with Crispy Rice. Not only was this super healthy, but it was delicious. If you have the time and don’t mind a little adventurous ordering, go for this one- you won’t see it on the menu at many other places, and it was fresh af. Simmzy’s is also know for its craft beer selection (we tried the Beachwood Foam Top Blonde). The atmosphere is loud + casual, and is a great place to go with a group! Note to self for next time: order the apple-filled doughnut. We didn’t have time to stick around for dessert this weekend, but people RAVE about it on Yelp!

 

I’m headed back out there for the 4th of July, so plenty more recommendations coming your way! Have any tips for me? Comment below!

xo, AJ

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Oh, the Places They’ll Go!

Damnnn Laughing Blonde, back at it again with the gift guides! It’s that time again, guys – time to be broke. Honestly, it’s like everyone conspired together to try and make me as poor as possible. Can someone please explain why Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Wedding Szn and Graduation Szn all fall within the same 4 months? It’s rude af. All these people out there getting married and getting degrees and I’m over here like, yeah sure, no prob, here’s $100 I was planning to frivolously spend on like, my electricity bill but nah fam, you take it and get yourself a nice panini maker, it’s all good. It’s summer in NYC, so what would I possibly need electricity for? Air conditioning? All set, thanks!

My little sister is graduating from high school next month and you know what she’s getting from me? A freaking trip to Nashville. Wanna know what my own MOTHER got me for my high school graduation? Absolutely nothing. She didn’t even wanna go because in her words, “there’s really nothing special about graduating high school. You showed up to a school for 4 years and participated just enough for them to pass you on to the next phase of life. You literally didn’t have a choice to not go.” It sounds harsh, but when I think about it, I literally did the bare minimum in high school so she’s like, not wrong. She was kinda bitchy about it, for sure, but not wrong. My sister on the other hand, she’s a low-key genius. All AP classes, #4 in her class, already has a year of college credits under her belt and she’s gotten a full academic ride to the school she’ll be attending in the fall, so I figured I’d throw her a bone, ya know? Reward the little Einstein by agreeing to sneak her into a bar and then hand her the Advil and Gatorade the next morning as she suffers from her first hangover.

Anyway, grad season is upon us, and it’s time to look for gifts that speak to the soul. After all, I’m out here tryna’ break glass ceilings, not bank accounts. Before you check out the gift guide gallery below, take a look at some of the deals + steals I have for you!

Framebridge

The 411: Framebridge is a company that frames your art, but doesn’t require you to liquidate all of your assets to do so. Reasonably priced + very high-quality. Either upload your own photo, or send in what you want to have framed (they can even do shadow boxes)! And they’re quick- it only takes about a week from order to delivery.

The Deal: Use the code “laughingblonde15” to get 15% off of your first purchase!

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pretty/creative by aes

The 411: pretty/creative by aesis an Etsy shop based out of NYC, but ships all over the country! 100% custom totes, makeup bags, travel cases + stainless steel waterbottles, all right at your fingertips, and the pricepoint is fab – $20!

The Deal: We’re giving y’all a giveaway! Any purchase made between now and 6/15 will automatically enter you into a giveaway – the winner will be able to select one item from the shop, as well as receive a $50 Visa gift card! Use the code “LBGRAD” at check-out, and you’re automatically entered! And PS- any purchase you make using that code will give you a 15% discount at check out!

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Where to Buy:

Almost Adulting – Amazon, $13

Meal in a Mug – Amazon, $17

Bachelor Quote Pencils – Etsy, $17.95

Mindy Project Quote Pencils- Etsy, $19.95

I Just Graduated.. Now What? – Urban Outfitters, $20

Bartending Glass Set – Amazon, $20

Y’all Pennant – Etsy, $25

Meryl Streep Pillow – Etsy, $25

Wearsafe – Amazon, $30

Verrier Handcrafted Print – $35

Instagram Framing – Framebridge, $39

Portable PingPong Set – Uncommon Goods, $40

Custom Passport Holder – Etsy, $49

Diana Camera – Uncommon Goods, $49

Custom Gift Krate (Women’s) – Lemon Krate, $50

Six-Pack Bike Bag – Amazon, $60

Custom Gift Krate (Men’s) – Lemon Krate, $98

Polaroid Camera – Amazon, $97

Mini Plus Brewing System – Keurig, $100

Beats Solo Wireless Headphones – Amazon, $229

Everything You Need to Know About Airbnb

How many times have you gone on a vacation and had 1 of 2 things happen:

  1. Your room was pretty expensive, given that you barely spent any time in it. Let’s face it, the price of a hotel room includes tons of amenities that guests rarely use (concierge service being the biggest money sucker), and you end up eating those dollars.
  2. You traveled with a group and found that all of you crowding into such a small space led to unnecessary fights, no room to store snacks or cook food, and a constant battle over who was hogging up the bathroom. (TBH, if you’ve ever traveled with a group of girls, you already know that mirror space is a hot commodity and if you’re not first, you’re last).

Airbnb is a company built around avoiding all of the downsides of a hotel, and improving on all of the upsides of what people want out of today’s travels (especially millenials).

There are two sides of Airbnb – being the host, and being the guest. Let’s kick it off with the guest experience, shall we?

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The Guest Experience

To use a real-life example, I’m taking my little sister on a trip to Nashville this summer as a graduation present. When I started looking at hotels, I wanted to die. If we wanted to be anywhere near the city, but avoid roach-infested motel rooms where it was legit questionable whether we’d come back to New York alive or not, we’d be spending $200 a night, easily. Not to mention, the only thing we’d be getting is a single hotel room. Nothing more, nothing less. Meaning we’d need to eat out for pretty much every meal, be on top of each other anytime we weren’t out exploring the city, and I’d have to hear her complain every single night about me falling asleep to Friends (heaven forbid the princess doesn’t get her 12 hours a night of beauty rest). So I started exploring Airbnb, and I found the perfect spot. It’s super easy, because you enter in how many guests, what the dates are, and where you’re trying to go, and then a billion cute listings come up. You can filter on the map exactly where you want to be and your price range, and then check out different reviews and descriptions of houses/ apartments / condos available during your desired stay.

I settled on a clean, girly apartment in Nashville for less than $100 a night. It has two beds, a kitchen, free wifi, free parking, etc. There’s also a no-penalty cancellation fee up to 5 days before your arrival. There’s 65 reviews, and an overall rating of 5 stars. Which begs the question, why the hell would anyone ever stay in a hotel again?! Not only am I spending less on this Airbnb than I would a hotel, but I’m also saving money on dining, as the fully equipped kitchen will allow us to buy groceries and cook instead of eating out for every meal.

Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited for this trip, or the glamorous opportunity to try and smuggle my 18 year old sister into a Nashville bar (any tips? Plz advise.) If you’re heading to Nashville, here’s the link to this rental: Moonshine Nashville 


The Host Experience

Let me just start off by saying that I’m absolutely love being able to host on Airbnb. This city is expensive af (I seriously don’t understand how rent can literally be $5k/month for 320 sq feet of space in some areas), and salaries don’t always match up with what you need to spend to have a roof over your head. I go away on weekends fairly often and the minute that I discovered that I could rent out my apartment and make some extra spending money, I didn’t hesitate. I’ve been a host for almost 2 years now in a few different apartments that I’ve lived it, and 9/10 times, it’s a fab experience. I decide how much I want to price my apartment at per night, I’m the one responsible for cleaning up and preparing for guests (unless I hire a cleaning service), and I’ve never had an issue with a rogue guest. People ask all the time if it makes me nervous to leave my personal things around with strangers there, and I can honestly say no, it doesn’t. #1- I’m 24 and have like, no money and therefore nothing really worth stealing. #2 – I can vet my guests my their different forms of identification and verification which means two things – if I think they’re sketchy, I can decline a reservation and if something does go wrong, Airbnb knows how to find them and I can file a report.

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Truth be told, this is the best way to side-hustle IMHO. I’ve made thousands of dollars and been able to go on a few trips I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, as well as bought way too many clothes that (sadly) still have the tag on them #regrets. When I traveled to Prague and Budapest last year, I rented out my room for a week and ended up being able to pay my hotel bill with the money I was making renting out my room. It was the perfect trade-off! Communication is typically really easy with guests, and I make sure to leave out clean sheets + towels, stock up on shampoo/soap/toilet paper, and leave the kitchen clean. That’s really all there is to it!

Aside from hosting in your home, you can also host a unique experience! Create an itinerary to let viewers know what they’re in for – how long the experience is, what you’ll be doing, what to bring, when to arrive, etc. The cool thing here is that you can make this anything you want it to be, and you get to be the expert!

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Check out this rad Ocean Advocate experience in Cape Town, South Africa!

Here are my top tips to being a stand-out host:

  • If you’re not going to be there to welcome your guests, leave them a welcome note to find when they arrive
  • If you’re going to be hosting the same group for longer than a few days, send a quick check-in text or email to make sure that everything is going smoothly and see if they have any questions for you
  • Know a really adorable cafe just a few blocks away? Tell them! Guests are almost always from out of town, and are trying to get their bearings. Besides Yelp, you’re the only recommendations they have!

My Wishlist of Cities + Experiences

Own The Stage – Los Angeles, CA

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cuba
seattle
Barcelona
sydney

What’s in my bag?

Are you a clutch type of lady, or more of a tote bag girl? In lamens terms, are you cool with getting around town with just your headphones, wallet, sunnies and a single lipgloss, or do you prefer to also have 50+ extra items, ya know, “just in case”?

Personally, I fall somewhere in between. My bags are usually on the larger side, but a full on tote is often slightly overwhelming and frankly, encourages the poor hoarding behavior that I’m trying to avoid. But this girl likes to be prepared – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned out my bag and then the next day, been in desperate need of whatever it is I decided I would literally never use. Because Murphy’s Law works like that.

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Jokes aside, carrying an over-stuffed, heavy bag can actually damage your health (don’t worry, I talk about that more below). Being a woman for 24.5 years on this earth will teach you a lot, and I’m ready to bless you all with my purse wisdom. It’s not a perfect science (yet), but here’s what’s in my bag:

The Essentials:

Whether your bag fits in one hand or practically doubles as a duffle, every girl must have the absolute bare essentials. If I’m using a really small cross-body, I use a phone case that allows me to put 2 credit cards and an ID into the back of it so that I can leave the wallet at home. I’ll stick a $20 in my bag, my keys and breath mints and I’m good to go. You never know when your bank will turn against you. Say you’re on a health kick and haven’t gone within 100 yards of a pizza place in the last 3 months (LOL unless you live in NYC, bc that’s impossible). You go out with the girls and then decide you’re craving a buffchick pie, so you throw your Chase card down (#payday). Your bank is all, “that’s not Jessica, she would never cheat on her diet!!! Identity Theft!!” Well then. #1) RUDE. #2) Thank God you brought that $20, amiright? Yes, I am. Also, hand sanitizer. Just do it. You never know who was hanging on to the subway pole before you. Ignorance is bliss, but hand sanitizer saves lives.

Here’s some never before seen footage of me and my friends:

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The Beauty Bag

Since I usually carry a medium-size bag, I also put a small makeup bag in there tokeep things organized. Absolutely nothing is more annoying than when I’m looking for something in there and I feel like freaking Mary Poppins pulling out 14 different items first (including a kitchen spoon during a meeting a few months back, that was a really nice surprise).marry poppins

Any of the beauty-related things I have in my bag go in here. I usually carry around at least 2 different lip shades, because you never know if you’ll be in a pink mood or a ~nude~ one. My two current favorites are Maybeline’s Vivid Matte Liquid in either Grey Envy or Twisted Tuplip (only $6.99 at Target), or my Lipsense kit. Speaking of, if you’ve never tried Lipsense but you’re super tired of catching yourself in the mirror at 3pm and seeing that 83% of your lip color is gone, you might want to try this. There’s like, 20+ colors and it seriously lasts you the WHOLE day! You need to be careful about re-applying the gloss every few hours so your lips don’t dry out but other than that, I’m convinced it’s worth the investment. My friend Mandy is a distributor, and you can contact her on Insta at @everbelipsbymandy.

At any given time, my hair can be a real nightmare to deal with (as you may have read in several of my earlier posts). It tangles easily, it gets in the way during Zumba and it sometimes betrays me by looking greasy on same day washes!! That’s why I always carry around 3 hair essentials: My Milk & Sass Macaron hair brush, Milk & Sass Sugar Twists and a mini bottle of Batiste dry shampoo. The brush + hair ties are designed to protect my hair from breakage, and the dry shampoo clears up any oily spots on demand. #MajorKey. The Macaron brush also has a mirror on the cap, so I’ve been able to remove the compact mirror I used to keep in my bag and swap in this lil cutie. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone, and I have one less thing to schlep around with me.

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The final beauty bits are crucial, especially as the weather starts to get warmer out. In just a few short months, we’ll all be trying to mask the sweat stains that formed while we were waiting 12 minutes for the delayed Q train to arrive. Fun Fact about New Yorkers- most of us suffer through subway commutes that force us to stand on top of each other while waiting in underground stations that are 20 degrees hotter than the already-blazing summer temps raging above ground. LOL summer is fun. As a wise lady (probably) once said, you can’t force yourself to not sweat, but you can def make sure you don’t stink from it! Ta-da! I give you the mini Marc Jacobs Daisy Sorbet perfume. It’s so cute and smells amazing. I got mine for $20 at CVS, and I get compliments on it all the time. If Daisy Sorbet isn’t for you, there’s tons of other options. Most major perfume brands sell mini versions of their scents, so check out Ulta or Duane Reade or Sephora.

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When I Feel Like Being Extra

Generally speaking, if I know I’m going some place where I won’t be in total control of my surroundings, I’m extra af. I’m a notorious over-packer, but it’s simply because I don’t want to be in a position later on where I wanna kick myself for not bringing the thing I KNEW I should’ve brought. Don’t believe me? Here’s what I dumped out of my tote the last time I went somewhere for longer than 12 hours:

  • Water bottle / snacks (obv)
  • Extra phone battery
  • Extra underwear (TMI, IK)
  • Dairy pills (I’m lactose intolerant)
  • 2 books for the subway
  • Extra contact lenses
  • Eye drops

The list goes on, but I don’t think I need to bore you with the details….


The Bottom Line

Over-packing and constantly carrying heavy bags on your shoulders could end up doing permanent damage to your body. Carrying a heavy bag on one side of your body consistently could lead to muscle spasms and pain in your neck/shoulders/lower back. Even if you’re consciously leveling it out as you walk, you could be doing even more damage! It can cause pain in your hips and oblique muscles on the side you carry your bag on, and neck strain on the opposite side caused by your body trying to level out your shoulders.

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Here’s what you can do to save your poor body:

  • Use a backpack (I know, I LOLd too, but there are some pretty cute leather ones out there – try TJMAXX or the outlets!)
  • Switch shoulders
  • Use a second bag (one purse for your essentials, a second tote for your workout clothes) – this helps distribute the weight more evenly
  • Avoid wearing heels when you’re carrying a heavy bag, because heels alter your gait which emphasizes the issues you’re already having.

 

xo, AJ

Life Lately

Hi friends! You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a bit absent lately and slow to post. Believe me, I’ve missed you more. Girl Scouts Honor. This last month has been kind of a whirlwind . About 4 weeks ago, my boyfriend was offered an amazing job is Los Angeles. Not only is the job really great for him, but that’s where his family lives (he grew up there, but has lived in the NY area for the last 8 years or so). It was a difficult conversation to have, but it’s absolutely the right thing for him, and I couldn’t be more proud. He’s such a wonderful man and insanely hard worker- anyone who works with him should consider themselves lucky, because they’re getting the best of the best. Side note – need a financial advisor? I know the best one – message me :p

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Suffice it to say that I needed to be able absorb the shock pretty quickly. What made it even more difficult was that he’d had a 10 day boys’ trip to Thailand planned for the last six months, so a couple of weeks after the offer was made, he was halfway across the world. Not ideal, but I’m so glad he was able to take such an incredible trip with some of his oldest friends before this new chapter starts for him.

Lucky for me, I have a pretty amazing boss. She was super sympathetic about everything and once I told her that he was leaving for LA last Wednesday, she let me take Monday and Tuesday off to spend with him. So when he came back from Thailand last Sunday night, I met him at the airport and then spend the next three days basically inseparable from him. Since Patrick is basically the world’s most perfect boyfriend, you may not be surprised to learn this, but here goes: He binge-watched Golden Girls with me for all of season 5- what a guy, amirite?! Not only that, but he bought me Caramel Cookie Crunch Talenti, and played with my hair while I combatted my ill-timed monthly cramps. I’m telling you, he’s an angel among peasants.

Wednesday morning came far too quickly and before I knew it, he was dropping me off at my office before he was off on his cross-country drive to Cali. To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, the fact that I can’t see him whenever I want anymore. Long distance is a real bitch, but I can think of worse places to have to visit than Southern California. I already find myself geeking out over long-distance relationship gift ideas I’m finding on Etsy, or care packages I can put together, or all the touristy crap I can do when I visit him. I can’t wait!

So, long story short, life has been pretty chaotic recently, so thank you for sticking with me and being so understanding through it all. And I need your help! Do you have any long distance relationship tips? Gift ideas? Must-see places in Los Angeles? Message me or leave a comment below 🙂

xo, AJ

P.S. – Not to brag or anything, but how freaking handsome is he?! I’m so dang lucky!

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halloweenn

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