Instagram Worthy Swimsuits For Summer 2018

Can you feel that?? It almost feels like…. warm weather…

TBH, I sometimes feel afraid to blink because I’m nervous that the weather will go back to being hideous, and I just can’t take that for another minute. Not that I’m a huge fan of summer – I actually really dislike when it gets really hot, because who tf enjoys being sweaty for no reason?? I’m just trying to get to work, and I end up looking like I finished running a 10k. Nooo thank you. But with warmer weather comes bathing suit szn, and I personally love a cute suit that I can wear anywhere. Whether I’m desperately trying to get a hint of vitamin D on someone’s rooftop, laying out at my parent’s house, or pretending I’m boujee af on a sailboat in the Hamptons (to be clear, that happens maybe once a year for me… unfortunately for me, I dream of a Kardashian lifestyle on a Lindsay Lohan circa 2013 budget).

I’ve been browsing all of my favorite sites, and I’ve put together a roundup of my favorite suits! Take a peak below and let me know what you love (or don’t!), and which ones you totally think I should treat myself to. Who’s ready to rock these suits and slaayyyy Instagram with me?! Summer 2018, we’re ready!

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 2.28.07 PM

  1. Shein: Flower Print Bandeu Bikini Set, $12    2. Shein: Striped Straps High Leg Bikini Set, $12   3. Shein: Knot Front Striped Bikini Set, $11   4. Shein: Criss Cross Cut Front High Waist Bikini Set, $11   5. Shein: Striped Ruched Detail Bikini Set, $12   6. Shein: Calico Print Criss Cross Swimsuit, $12   7. Shein: Block Striped Low Back Swimsuit, $12   8. Swimsuits For All: GabiFresh x Swimsuits For All Carousel Bikini, $71.40   9. Target: Women’s Strappy Back One Piece, $29.99   10. Target: Women’s Ruffle Edge Midkini, $22.99   11. Target: Women’s Lace-Up Scoop Back One Piece, $29.99   12. Target: Sea Angel Women’s Gingham One Shoulder Ruffle Bikini, $24.99

Here’s What You Need To Know Before Trying Pole Fitness

Soooo I did a thing.

A couple months ago, I decided I wanted to do something really fun with my mom. I’m mildly obsessed with her, actually. She likes to say that if I could, I’d probably try to crawl back into her womb. I’m such a weirdo that when I go back to Connecticut for the weekend, I get legitimately offended when she doesn’t devote all of her time to hanging out with me. I’ll legit force her to let me go out to dinner with her and her friends. Luckily for her, I’m not a regular daughter, I’m a cool daughter. I can totes hang with the ladies and be one of the gang. Aside from the impending menopause and endless complaining about my husband (single, party of me!), I fit in rather seamlessly.

So when I asked her to block off her Saturday to spend time with me for a surprise afternoon, she happily agreed. She kept asking what we were doing, but I’m not an idiot. I was fully aware that if I told her, there was no way in hell I’d get her to actually go with me. Guys, I wish you could’ve seen the look on her face as we got closer to the studio. First of all, the studio is in Meriden, which is about a 25 minute drive from where we live. Once we got off the exit, she was immediately suspicious. Within five minutes we had passed two adult stores and a strip club. Then we pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center where the studio is located, and she was still clueless. I finally told her we were going to a pole dancing class at The Girl Spot and I swear to you, I almost died from laughing when I saw her face. If looks could kill, I’d have been as good as gone. TBH, I’m shocked I actually got her to go in the studio after that. But we were already there and I had already paid, so there was no turning back…

When you start off in pole fitness, most studios will make you take a beginners class. There’s no hanging upside down or crazy stunts during your first time. Trust me, you wouldn’t be able to do them anyway. They’re WAY harder than they look. By the grace of God, my mom and I were the only two people taking the beginner class that day, so we had 1 on 1 attention the whole time. We had an AMAZING instructor. Somehow, someway, she managed to get my mom to actually enjoy what she was doing!

The class starts off with a warmup. There’s a ton of stretching involved, because you should be nice and loosey goosey before trying any pole tricks. There’s also some conditioning. Trust me, you want to be as strong as possible for any of the tricks involved. You should be prepared to do pushups, situps, planks and lunges. No questions – you will 100% be breaking a sweat during this. After the warmups are complete, you’re ready for your first move! Ours wasn’t on the pole… yet. Our teacher demonstrated the floorwork for this particular move a handful of times, and then had us show her ourselves, where she then corrected and applauded us. The entire experience is truly freeing, and totally positive. You never feel like you’re being criticized, just encouraged.

Once that was mastered, it was finally time to hit the pole! In just a half an hour, we learned a quick routine that, for lack of better words, made me feel sexy and feminine. I have never been so proud of my mom as when I saw her swing around the pole.. how bizarre does that sound?! She was so stinking cute and so proud of herself when she got it right, and I was so happy to see how confident she looked doing it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many mother daughter duos who could manage to complete a pole dancing class together, and look good doing it 😉

The aftermath was no joke. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so sore. Seriously, I’ve never been that sore from a workout before. For four days. Ugh. And be prepared, because you’re going to get bruised. I have no idea how, but my mom managed to get most of her bruises on her arms (something tells me she wasn’t doing something right), but mine were all on my legs (mostly my thighs) from holding onto the pole with my legs in a death grip lol. It was an ugly sight, I’ll tell you that much. Not too ugly, apparently, because we happily went back to our second class the following weekend. That one, my friends, was exponentially more challenging. If you ever want to feel like a weakling, I encourage you to try to climb a stripper pole with nothing but your body to get you up it. Who knew I had next to no muscles? I certainly didn’t. Forget trying to climb the pole, I could hardly hold myself up on it for longer than two seconds. I did, however, learn two new tricks that made me feel pretty badass, so there’s that.

Here’s the lesson in all of this: step out of your comfort zone. Just because you don’t think you’d like something or you don’t think you’d be good at something, that doesn’t make it true. You might find that you make some of the best memories out of something you never thought you’d do. I challenge you to make a plan right TODAY to do something you wouldn’t normally be comfortable with. If that’s pole dancing, then great! If it’s jumping out of a plane (with a parachute!), even better. Try to push yourself – you might just find that you actually love what you never thought you’d try. xo, AJ

The Worst Spice Girls Brunch Of All Time

I want to preface this entire post by saying that I don’t look at my blog as a giant Yelp review, but sometimes a review needs to be given. This is one of those times.

I’m writing this at the request of my girlfriends who were subjected to the Spice Girls themed brunch that was hosted at 5th & Mad this Saturday. Ladies, what would your reaction be if you were told that for $35, you could attend a themed Spice Girls brunch with your besties and would get unlimited Prosecco, an entre and dessert? If you’re not saying that you’d be willing to give up a few hours on a Saturday for that, we can’t be friends because you’re a liar and I’m not friends with liars. But I digress.

I was pumped when I came across an article in Time Out NYC about this because tbh, I’ve seen Spice World no less than 63 times and I swear that I missed my calling as a singer in a British girlband. I’d consider myself to be 3 parts Posh, 2 parts Baby and 1 part Sport – thanks for asking! I immediately group texted my girls and two of them got back to me and said they were SO in, because DUH. I also read in the article that we were encouraged to dress up. Thank G-d I didn’t because I would probs have died if I walked into the restaurant on Saturday afternoon and saw what was waiting for us…

A disaster. A disaster is what was waiting for us. 5th and Mad doesn’t open until noon on Saturdays, and our tickets were for the first wave – the brunchers that were to be seated at 12:15. I got there at 12:10 and quickly realized I was the first to arrive of literally anyone who’d be attending this, but whatever. My girlfriends got there and we were seated quickly because like I said, we were the only ones there….

Let me set the scene: There’s a large bar that wraps around the middle of the restaurant, and then booths all along the walls. Every 3rd or 5th stool at the bar had a random balloon tied to it (like the kind you’d see at a regular party, not a fancy kind). There was a DJ booth in the window with a cheap looking pink tablecloth draped over it, and then the booths had equally cheap purple tablecloths on them. There was old Spice Girls footage playing on the TV (with no sound). For reasons I cannot explain, music such as Ciara’s 1,2, Step and a song by Da Goddess were playing over the speakers. The DJ could not for the LIFE of him figure out a consistent volume. It was either seconds from shattering my eardrum, or barely audible. This would change every 45 seconds or – to keep us on our toes, I assume. We were there for 45 minutes before I even heard a single Spice Girls song play. 45 minutes. at a Spice Girls themed brunch. Let that sink in.

IMG_6537IMG_6539

The menus were an atrocity of their own. First of all, they were printed off on computer paper and for the food menu, the only relation that there was to Spice Girls was some poorly cropped clip art. It also had zero connection to the Spice Girls- they didn’t even name the dishes after popular songs, which would have been the CLEAR WAY TO GO. The selection was also confusing af. Not only was the only breakfast related food on the menu Chick & Waffles, but the selection also included Penne a la Vodka. Have you ever seen this on a brunch menu? Because I certainly have not. They did have a small drink menu to go in tandem with the food menu. Inexplicably, the drinks were named after songs and were priced at a ridiculous amount – $16 a piece. BUHBYE.

IMG_6536o

So we were there for about 5 minutes before I had figurative steam coming out of my ears. First of all, it was embarrassing that I had dragged my friends here – luckily for me, they thought this whole thing was funny AF and kept saying that I had to write a blog post about it. So consider this my apology gift to them. Second of all, I couldn’t understand why there was basically no decor, no Spice Girls music playing, and why there was a single random drag queen who came out of nowhere dressed like Scary Spice and accosting the 15 or so attendees who had started to filter in. Any time she would talk, they would turn the music off. It was bizarre. As my friend said, “it’s like their B team is here and phoning it all in.” That’s EXACTLY what it was like. Actually, it almost seemed as though they’d never thrown a brunch before let alone a themed brunch… which I quickly learned from looking at their Yelp reviews is pretty much how anyone who’s been duped into attending one of these disasters has felt. Apparently at the Harry Potter themed one in December, they started playing a game of trivia that included questions from Lord of the Rings. Potter fans were PISSED.

The funniest part about all of this was watching people’s reactions when they first walked in. It was a mix of, “are we in the right place?” (can’t blame them, when there’s hardly any indication of Spice Girls anywhere), and, “should I just eat my $35 and go somewhere else?” (yes, yes you should). People were legit LAUGHING when they saw it all, and then they’d turn around and leave. I’m so happy my friends were there to keep me laughing, because I was so irritated. I’m usually really chill & go with the flow, but I was just so insulted my the lack of effort and poor execution of it all. It was even more infuriating to know that this place had dozens of reviews saying how bad the themed brunches were, and that the restaurant clearly has done NOTHING to improve them. We were there for an hour flat and not a minute more. We spent the next hour sitting in a Starbucks around the corner laughing our asses off and comparing reactions to what we’d just experienced.

My Advice for Themed Brunches

  • Check Yelp for reviews of the place before you buy your tickets
  • Make sure that you check to see the menu prices of the food – if their prices are way lower than the cost of your ticket, decide if the experience is worth the cost
  • Make your reservation for later in the day (I’m hoping that the experience got better as the afternoon went on, but I had zero interest in sticking around to find out).

Have you ever attended a themed brunch or party and had a bad experience? Or maybe you attended a great one and have details to share?! Comment or send me a DM – I’d love to hear about it! xo, AJ

Spring Looks For When It’s Still Chilly

Sooo are we all just going to pretend that it’s normal that we’re heading towards late April and it’s still 35-40 degrees out in New York? Because WHAT?! I did a shoot for spring two weeks ago and I, for one, find it rude af that Mother Nature had the audacity to give us one GORGEOUS day last week (I’m talking sunny and 75, people) and is now taking it back. I don’t appreciate it one bit. Nevertheless, I thought it might be good to share some of those spring looks anyways. Ya know, just in case we ever actually get the chance to de-frost ourselves in 2018.

First Look

Jumpsuit: Target – $29.99 (Wearing Size L)   Shoes: Target – $37.99

IMG_3844fullsizeoutput_9IMG_3820fullsizeoutput_8fullsizeoutput_dfullsizeoutput_b

 

Second Look

Jeans: Target – $27.99 (Wearing Size 10)   Boots: DSW – $79 (Other Colors Are On Sale!)  Jacket: Free People (This one’s an oldie, similar jacket linked here)  Top: Shein.com – On Sale for $7.00!!  (Wearing Size L)

fullsizeoutput_ffullsizeoutput_14fullsizeoutput_16fullsizeoutput_17fullsizeoutput_19fullsizeoutput_1b

 

I’m hoping to shoot a bunch of dresses for you guys in the next few weeks – looks for any budget! There will be pieces from places like Target and Boohoo.com, and pieces from places like Alice & Olivia and Kate Spade. Everybody cross their fingers for me that I don’t get frostbite or something, because NO THANKS!

xo, AJ

At-Home Teeth Whitening: Does it Work?

TBH, I really feel like 2018 has been off to a great start for me. Looking back at Q1, I have a few complaints, but they completely fall to the wayside when I think about my wins. And let’s get real, sometimes we get so wrapped up in the things that are going wrong, we forget to really be thankful for the things that are going really right. So I’m going to take this opportunity to list out some of my Q1 wins. Here we go!

  • Completed a round of Whole30 (aka Mostly30-  anyone who’s been following me the last few months knows about this haha!)
  • Maintained a close + healthy friendship with my ex boyfriend (how often do you hear that happen?!)
  • Pushed myself out of my comfort zone and took pole dancing classes
  • Attended my first Blogger Brunch and met some seriously badass women
  • Traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica (I promise you, these posts will get uploaded one day.. )
  • Got a new job that came with a promoted title, which is something I’ve been working really hard on
  • Gone on lots of dates – whether they were good or bad, they continuously allow me to meet new people and improve my interpersonal skills

Dang y’all, I’ve been BUSY! One thing I’ve also been wanting to do for a while is whiten my teeth. It’s actually ridiculous now that I think about it to have that on my to-do list, but it’s important to me! I’m always mindful of my smile, because I’m self-conscious over the fact that I never had braces. I don’t have crooked teeth exactly, but they’ve never been the ultra-straight, cookie-cutter chicklets that everyone with braces has. So keeping them white has always been important to me. Something I’m complimented on a lot is my smile, but I honestly have no idea if that’s because A) guys will compliment you on anything if they think it’ll bring them a step closer to sleeping with you, B) my smile itself just happens to be nice or C) I’m just a friendly person? Regardless, I wasn’t feeling very confident in the shade of my set, so I partnered with Smile Brilliant to do something about it!

To be clear, this is certainly not the first whitening attempt I’ve made. I’ve tried a handful of other products.

  • Crest Whitening Strips: I felt like they were over-priced for flimsy bits of paper that didn’t really work well and tasted terrible. I didn’t notice a lot of change in my coloring when I used those
  • Atlanta Express Smile: I’ll admit it, I gave in to Brielle + Kim Biermann while they were hawking those kits like nobody’s business. With their codes, the LED light kit wasn’t expensive. But it showed. It was a pain in the ass to have big LED light hanging out of my mouth for an extended period of time. I legit drooled everywhere while actually using it because it leaves your mouth wide open. It was just weird, and I didn’t like it.
  • Charcoal: You’ve seen it, there’s no way you haven’t. It’s been flooding Facebook + Instagram for at least a year now. That weird black charcoal powder that you brush your teeth with and leaves you with a whiter smile. Yup, bought that too. I will tell you, it definitely makes your smile whiter, at least temporarily. But the application is ABYSMAL. I’m sure that there are plenty of medical reasons why it’s not good for you, but I don’t even care. The reason you should not get this product is because you will never, ever, ever, ever be able to apply this cleanly. First of all, you need the tiniest amount ever, and there’s no way to apply that small of an amount to your toothbrush, because when you stick a wet toothbrush into a jar of black powder, you are absolutely going to get too much product. Blame it on science, idk. But you will get this powder all of your sink, your clothes, your face, your floor… it’s a disaster. And also, it gets stuck in the crevices between your teeth and your gums, leaving a weird outline that you then have to go in and floss over several times to get it out. Just please believe me on this and save yourself from the pain.

That said, I wasn’t overly confident that using Smile Brilliant would be any different, because my expectations have been shattered in the past. But I was willing to give it a try, just to see. Here’s a step by step of my experience:

  1. I received a kit in the mail with un-molded trays, catalyst paste, base paste, whitening gels and desensitizing gels. I was instructed to use the pastes by mixing them together quickly, inserting them into the un-molded trays, and then inserting the trays into my mouth so that they would get impressions of my teeth
  2. Once I did this correctly (there’s a guide that comes with your kit that shows you what a correct impression looks like and what an incorrect one looks like), I ran the trays under cold water to set the impressions and mailed them back to the Smile Brilliant lab (free shipping!) to have my custom trays made.
  3. Once the lab received them, they took about a week to use my impressions to make my custom whitening trays, and then mailed them back to me.
  4. After that, the real fun began! In my kit, there were 3 whitening gels and 3 desensitizing gels. Each gel gives you 3-4 uses depending on how much you use (I used four applications per syringe). It’s so easy to use. You just squeeze a line from the whitening syringe directly onto the trays, and then insert them into your mouth for 1-3 hours. I usually stuck to just an hour, given time restraints with other things I had going on.
  5. Since the trays are molding specifically to your mouth, it’s like having a fitted jacket over your teeth. You can still have normal conversations with people (with a small lisp) since you don’t have a giant LED light hanging out of your mouth. And there’s minimal product involved, so there’s no mess or cleanup involved. I would leave the whitening trays in for about an hour, and then remove and wipe down my teeth. SO easy.
  6. The next step is important, especially if you have sensitive teeth. I didn’t use the desensitizing gel the first couple of times that I used the whitening gel, and my teeth started to hurt a little bit the next time I would use the gel. So the obvious fix for this was to use the desensitizing gel. This one is applied the exact same way that the whitening gel is, right after you use the whitening gel, and only needs to stay in for 15-30 minutes. I noticed an immediate difference after I used it. No more sensitivity for me! If you’re finding that you’re getting any pain, I highly recommend using this.
  7. After using both gels, I’d simply wash out the trays and put them back into my little carrying case. Insanely easy, virtually no mess or clean-up required.

Before

After

img_6453

So much more confident in my smile!

I have 100% noticed a difference in my tooth shade since using Smile Brilliant. I think I’ve done about 10-12 whitening sessions (I would do it 2-3 times per week), and my smile just looks cleaner. I’m super happy with the results! If I’m being honest, I’ve taken some newer pictures to update my Bumble profile since I finished my whitening sessions, and at least four guys have commented on my pearly white smile. Yaaaassss, ladies!

And guess what?! I have a discount code for you!

Click here  and use code “thelaughingblonde15” for 15% off your order!  But even better than that, I’m also doing a giveaway! From 4/12-4/18, click here and you’ll be entered to win a $149 whitening kit (the same one I used for this post). It’s open to anyone in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, so get to it!

That said, I’d say that Q1 of 2018 has definitely been a win for me. Let’s kick off spring with taking care of ourselves and our smiles. If you have any questions about Smile Brilliant, I’m having to talk more! Shoot me a message or leave me a comment below!

xo, AJ