How I Got My Groove Back

If you know me, then you know that dance has been something I’ve enjoyed my entire life. From the day my mom forced me into a tiny leotard and ballet slippers at age 3, all the way through dance classes for the next 10 years (and don’t forget cheerleading from ages 8-17), dance has been something that is such a release for me. Aside from Lacrosse and tennis, I’ve never been someone who’s interested in traditional athletics – think soccer, softball, basketball… all of those are awful to me, considering I struggle to make any sort of bat to ball contact during even a wiffleball game. This probably drives my father crazy since he’s a gym teacher & coach, but hey – that’s what siblings are for, right? To make up for what you lack?

My strengths have always been in dance and cheerleading, and they’re things I’ve found comfort in for as long as I can remember. Once I started college and my cheerleading career was over, the only real dance outlet I had were the Zumba classes I took every once in a while. And then when I was post-grad, I started taking Zumba classes on a much for frequent basis because in addition to being great exercise, it gave me this release of being able to move in a way that I had craved so much since high school.

Which brings me to the Rickey Sisters. Not to sound like a massive weirdo, but this class has improved my quality of life so much. Yes, Zumba is fun and it’s a great workout, but it’s so different than a choreographed dance class where you’re learning an actual routine and you get to add your own flare of attitude and sass to it. I’m not gonna lie, the first class was a lil rough for me – I watched a playback of it and was disappointed to see that the talents I once had didn’t seem to be there anymore. I wasn’t sharp, I wasn’t fluid, I wasn’t going into the moves hard enough.. but I felt SO GOOD. So I went back again. And again. And again. And again.

 

Post-class mirror selfie (plz ignore the dripping sweat)

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I go to their class at Studio B every Wednesday night at 7:30 – I even went a few days after my wisdom teeth came out, because I had zero desire to miss whatever routine we were learning that week. Alyssa and Sammy are the BEST instructors ever – they’re kind, funny, and they genuinely appreciate that you want to come to their class. They’ll also just really great at teaching – I never feel like they’re moving on from a step too quickly, and they’re great at repeating counts over and over until every single person in the class feels comfortable moving on. And the best part is that every week, I feel and see myself getting better – getting closer to where I used to be. And it’s not only physical changes. My mood has been so much better since starting these classes – I have something to look forward to every single week, and I feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride when I’m able to learn the routine and execute it the entire thing by the end of the class. At $34 a class, it’s the cheapest therapy around.

Interested in taking a class? You can find their Instagram here (filled with insanely cool dance videos) and sign up for their class here. Questions? DM me ANY you have! I get DMs from you guys after every single video I post asking how you can sign up – I’d LOVE to see you there!


 

Unfortunately I don’t have a clear video of me from the first class, but posting all of the other routines I’ve learned below so you can get a feel for what the class is like – the videos are in order from earlier classes to the latest one (the last one is my favorite!):

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning For Skin: My Nighttime Skincare Routine

*IMPORTANT* This post is NOT sponsored, I just really like these products. After writing this post, I reached out to Dermalogica to do a product giveaway for you guys, and they happily agreed! Go to this post on my Instagram to win $140 worth of Dermalogica products!

As we start moving into warmer weather again (fingers crossed!), I think now is as good a time as any for us all to review how our skin is doing, what we like, what we don’t like, and what we want to start focusing on. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. YOUR SKIN IS VERY IMPORTANT. You need to treat it with the upmost respect because if you don’t, that bitch will turn on you so fast your head will spin. I accidentally fell asleep with my makeup on for ONE NIGHT about two months ago, and a battled a breakout for two weeks after that. It’s just not worth it. You’ll lose, every time.

That said, I’ve been working with a new nighttime skincare routine for the last month or so, and it’s been going extraordinarily well so far. I’m not a millionaire, so consider this the poor girl’s version of a luxury skin routine.

 

Makeup Removing Balm

I did an entire post on this makeup remover back in October because I loved it so much. This makeup removing balm by Clinique is the only stuff I’ve found that helps me take off all my makeup – that includes my waterproof mascara – without irritating my skin or ripping my eyelashes out. I’ve used this remover every. damn. day. since the beginning of October, and I still have half the container left. I am OBSESSED you guys! It doesn’t make my skin feel greasy at all – it just makes it soft. Apparently using a makeup removing balm before washing your face is all the rage now, thanks to K-Beauty. So now you’re in the know – you’re welcome.

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Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm: Clinique, $30

 

Face Wash

Dermalogica… man, you guys know how to make a product. I’m a big fan of their Daily Microfoliant and here’s why: It’s a powder. You can travel with it in your carry on and not worry about the size. Toss it in an overnight bag and not worry about it spilling everywhere. It’s the bees knees. You apply it to a damp face, and only need a little bit. The only downside is that if you’re not careful, you might end up pouring out more than you wanted to – so just be careful! Otherwise, my skin is squeaky clean, exfoliated, soft and ready to take on the next step – moisturizing! It’s a little pricey, but you get a lot of product ($57 for the 2.6 oz bottle, $15 for the 0.45 oz bottle). WORTH. IT.

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Daily Microfoliant: Dermalogica, $15

Face Oil + Roller Combo

I really have no idea what prompted me to pick this up from Marshall’s, because the idea of adding oil to my face sounds like a nightmare. But it smelled good, and I’d seen a handful of beauty bloggers post about using oils on their faces in the past, so I figured I’d give it a go. Turns out, I LOVE IT. I think that because it’s so hydrating, it actually keeps my breakouts to a minimum. I’ve been using it with this face massager thing I bought at ELF for like $8.00 and massaging it into my face for 5-10 minutes every night while I binge of re-runs of RHONY, and I’m loving its work so far. Also: when I say massaging, I mean that I’m doing it with an actual tool that I picked up from ELF Cosmetics. The less you touch your face with your hands the better. I’ve heard of plenty of people using Jade Rollers, but tbh, I’m cheap and don’t wanna buy one at the moment. Don’t judge me.

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Facial Massager: ELF Cosmetics, $4   —   Face Oil: Target, $6

 

Castor Oil

This stuff is the bees knees. I ordered some off of Amazon after reading about the benefits it has for eyelashes, and I’m impressed. I swipe some across the roots of each eye’s upper lashes, and then also on my eyebrows for good measure because eyebrows are v. important. I’m seeing a lot of growth in those areas, and noticing that they’re coming in thicker and healthier. LOVE.

Castor Oil: Amazon, $10

 

Dermalogica Sleep Cocoon Mask

I was sent a free sample of Dermalogica’s Sleep Cocoon mask by Influenster in their marketing efforts to get feedback and reviews on the product. To start, this review is 100% my own thoughts and opinions, and I wasn’t paid by anyone to write this- keep that in mind.

I want to bathe in this stuff. I thought it would be a bunch of hyped up BS like most sleep masks are, but I can admit when I’m wrong – and I was WRONG. After I use the face oil and massage it in, I apply one pump of this sleep mask onto my fingers and work it into my skin (use an extra pump to cover your neck). It’s scented with lavender, and it instantly puts me in a relaxed, sleepy state of mind. I actually wait until I’m ready to actually go to bed before I apply it because that’s how relaxing it is. I’ve been waking up with crazy good skin every morning since I started using it. Coincidence? Maybe, but pretty much definitely not. I also feel like I need to call out the price. YES, it is definitely pricey. I do feel it’s worth it though – You only need 1 pump and you get about 100 pumps per container. If you’re going to splurge, this is the product to do it on.

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Sleep Cocoon Mask: Dermalogica, $80

Face Shaving

I posted something about this a while back, but I wholeheartedly still believe it’s mega-relevant. Contrary to what some people will tell you, shaving your face to get rid of peach fuzz will NOT make the hair grow back coarser, thicker or darker. I’ve been doing this for years, and I still have blonde, fine peach fuzz. The same amount that I’ve had since I was a kid. Doing this is excellent for exfoliating for obvious reasons – you’re getting rid of not only the hair, but also dead skin, makeup that may be more difficult to get off with just remover, and it brightens up your complexion. My makeup goes on absolutely perfectly for at least a week after because there’s nothing impairing the application. NOTE: This is NOT something you need to do every day – I only do it every few weeks. This is like a fun little bonus step to throw in there when you’re feelin’ yourself.

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Tea Tree Oil: Amazon, $11   —   Tinkle Eyebrow Razors: Amazon, $5

That’s my beauty update for the time being but I’ll continue to update you with new products as I find them. Do you have any must-try products? Tell me about them! xo, AJ

 

Here’s What To Expect When You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Out

If you know me like, at all, then you know that I have been afraid of getting my wisdom teeth taken out for nearly a decade. That’s 100% not an exaggeration. I’ve legit been living in fear of this since my dentist first recommended I get them out when I was still in high school. I thought she was full of it, so I ignored her. Then in my first year out of college, my new dentist (also a family friend) told me I needed to get them out. This time I actually made an appointment for a consultation and showed up, only to have the receptionist be so insanely rude to me that I actually called my mom in tears from the waiting room. She reminded me that there were plenty of other oral surgeons who would be more than happy to take my money AND be nice, so I left and never looked back.

Flash forward to a few months ago at my new dentist in NYC. I was getting a crown done and my dentist cracked my wisdom tooth. Instead of fixing it, she told me that I might as well get them out anyway. I’m prone to cavities. All 4 of them were at least partially grown in and had cavities and even if she were to fill them, they’re so far back in my mouth that I would likely continue to get cavities in them for the rest of my life. So I decided to take the plunge and make the appointment for yet another consultation.

I can’t even begin to explain to you how badly I wanted to avoid this. When I was at my consultation, I literally cried because I was so scared. All I’ve heard are horror stories from people who say that if you don’t get them out in high school, you’ll be in lots of pain. Women are more likely to get dry sockets – that was a nice fun fact someone shared with me. Oh, and apparently if you have to get your bottom two out, that puts you at a higher likelihood of dry socket too.Since I’m a girl and I was getting all 4 out, you can imagine how lovely this was to hear…

 

Morning of the surgery:

I was given instructions not to eat or drink anything after 12am that morning. This is really important, because anything you have in your stomach can throw off the anesthesia calculations and be really dangerous and possibly deadly. Don’t mess around with that. I wore my comfiest sweats and had my mom drive me to the office. I tried to be chill, but I was very unchill. 

 

Before the surgery:

Once I was called in from the waiting room, the world’s nicest nurse took me into the room I’d be getting the surgery in. I was honestly kind of surprised to see that nothing looked scary at all. It was a regular dentist chair that I was put in (for some reason I pictured an operating table – how ridiculous am I?!). She hooked me up to a blood pressure machine and if I’m being real here, that was legitimately the most painful part of the process. That MF squeezed my arm so tight that I for sure thought it would just pop. When I kept saying how nervous I was – and almost cried again – the nurse was so sweet and talked me off the ledge, so to speak. She had me rinse my mouth out with anti-septic and then the surgeon came in to get started. Not only was Dr. Solomon a really nice guy, but he’s distractingly attractive. Like, every time I looked at him I felt blinded by this man’s good looks. It was ridiculous. Unfortunately for me, I apologized for being dramatic and he goes, “don’t worry about it – I’m married to a woman, I’m familiar with dramatics.” Thanks for letting me down nice and subtly there, dude.

The nurse tied something around my upper arm to get the blood pumping and then inserted the IV – TBH I’ve never had an IV and I’m scared of needles so I’m pretty impressed with myself for not being more freaked out. It wasn’t comfortable, but it didn’t hurt. The last thing I remember is the surgeon saying they were going to give me my medicine through my IV. And then I was asleep.

 

The actual surgery:

I can’t tell you a thing about this because I was out like a freaking light. From what I was told afterwards, the surgeon went in and numbed up my gums with Novocain anyway, just in case I were to wake up from the anesthesia. Luckily for all of us, I didn’t wake up until the very end when I heard the surgeon say, “ok awesome, we’re all done.” And just like that, I was awake.

 

The recovery room:

I was brought into a room to rest up a little bit before I was ready to be released. I definitely felt tired, but I didn’t feel loopy or drugged up at all. I was expecting a David After Dentist moment – I’d even asked my mom to record me if I did anything funny so I could share it in this post. Sadly for all of us, I have nothing to share. Because I was the most boring patient ever. When my mom had her wisdom teeth out, she literally tried to jump out of the car while we were on the highway and also called my dad at work to tell him I was kidnapping her. The most exciting thing that happened with me was that I thought it was cool af that they let me keep my teeth. And all I said was, “wow” because I’m boring af.

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Day-of recovery:

The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who’s getting this done is to take your medicine in a timely fashion. DO NOT CHASE THE PAIN. I was given a 600mg Tylenol while I was still at the dentist’s office (I had to ask them, but they were happy to do it). The prescription said to take one pill every 6 hours, but I religiously took one every 5 hours because I was terrified to feel the pain I was expecting to feel. I set an alarm on my phone to go off every 5 hours (even in the middle of the night). They also prescribed me some stronger stuff similar to Vicodin, but I only took one pill of those each night when I was ready to go to bed, because they made me tired.

It’s really important that you do NOT spit in the first 24 hours of getting your teeth extracted – this is a crucial time for the blood clots to start forming and if you spit, it can dislodge them and that’s when dry sockets occur. You should also stick to liquids or soft foods. Luckily for me, my mom was an angel during all of this. She kept bringing me pudding and sorbet and then when I was hungry for real food, she chopped up mac and cheese for me, and even chopped up a little Lactaid pill because I’m lactose intolerant so I needed to take one for the dairy, but I couldn’t chew. She’s so freaking cute!

Aside from the alarming amount of pudding I consumed in the first day, there was nothing exciting to report. 3 of my wisdom teeth were fully grown in and 1 was partially impacted still so when they took that one out, they put in one stitch to help close to hole. The only part of my face that was noticeable swollen was where that tooth came out, and I think it’s because that part of the surgery was a bit more invasive. The other three teeth barely felt sore at all. In terms of timing, the Novocain felt like it had worn off by about 7pm that night, and other than that, I was just sleepy from all the excitement.

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Mouth stuffed with cause to minimize the bleeding. V cute

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24 hours post surgery:

24 hours after I had my surgery – you’d think I’d be posted up in bed watching Real Housewives reruns and eating ice cream, right? WRONG. My entire family was out of the house, all doing different things and didn’t have their phones on them. That’s when my poor dog decided to poop blood all over the house. In a state of panic, I called my best friend who came and picked us up and we went to the emergency vet together for three hours. So yeah, not typically how you’d spend your first full day post-op. But my babygirl needed some attention, so that’s what she got.

Once we were cleared to leave the vet (with 4 different medicines and a scary warning to keep checking her for dehydration), we headed back to the house. Cookie was pooped and so was I, so we spent the rest of the afternoon snuggling and eating soft foods.

Fun fact: by later that night, I was able to start munching on some hard foods. I wouldn’t recommend this if your mouth is sore, but mine felt fine and I needed some oyster crackers in my life, so I went for it. I didn’t regret it one bit.

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Here’s what I looked like 24 hours after the surgery. You can see that the bottom left cheek is slightly swollen because there was a stitch there, but the rest of my face is pretty normal.

5 days post surgery:

By Sunday night (2.5 days post-op), by stitch had fallen out. After frantically googling it and seeing that most people were saying that this shouldn’t happen until day 5 at the earliest, I was FREAKING TF OUT. I wanted to kick myself for eating anything but soup the last few days. Luckily when I called my dentist’s office in the morning, the receptionist let me know that it was dissolvable and that they weren’t expected to stay in longer than a few days, so I was totally fine. PHEW.

5 days post-op and I’m feeling 85% back to normal. My mouth is still slightly sore, but just barely. I religiously take the Tylenol still (and probably will for another week or so, just to be safe). My face isn’t really swollen anymore like, at all. I’m still rinsing with anti-septic rinse twice a day (I started doing this 24 hours after the surgery). It helps keep your mouth clean and helps to dislodge some of the food that gets stuck in the extraction holes.

I’m still paranoid about getting dry socket, so I still avoid straws like the plague (that sucking motion will get ya every time), and I have a mini panic attack whenever I sneeze because I can feel the pressure in my mouth and I’m nervous that it’ll dislodge the blood clots.

 

One week follow-up appointment:

Exactly one week after my surgery, I went back to the office and got checked out to make sure everything was healing ok and there weren’t any signs of infection. I find it incredibly ironic that despite being a nervous wreck about this entire surgery, my surgeon said it was one of the easiest recoveries he’d ever seen. Everything was doing well, I had no signs of infection, no dry socket and no pain whatsoever.

I walked in and out of that appointment in 10 minutes and had the official go-ahead to start using straws, so I headed straight to Starbucks and ordered my classic iced soy chai latte – straw included 😉

Before I left, I was given a syringe looking thing to use to clean out the holes left in my mouth. My surgeon explained that over the next few weeks, the holes would start to close up and we wanted to avoid getting any good particles stuck in there because that might cause infections. So now every morning and every night, I fill this thing up with water, insert it into the little holes, and squirt out any food debris that gets stuck in there. TBH, it’s extremely cool to me. Then again, I’m one of those weirdos that likes watching Dr. Pimple Popper, so any type of extraction is cool to me. STOP JUDGING. My mom thinks I’m disgusting but whatever.



So there you have it – a full week of what it’s like to get your wisdom teeth out! Coming from someone who was deathly afraid of getting this done, I cannot tell you how silly I feel about putting it off for an entire decade. It was so easy! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to write a comment or send me a message. I’m happy to help you however I can! xo, AJ

Tips for Getting and Staying Organized

Story time!

When I was younger, I was the least organized person of all time. I liked the idea of being organized (in the way that I would be pumped about going to Staples every August to get new school supplies – a binder and folder for every class, DUH), but I would never stay that way for long. Pretty soon after the school year started, I’d be shoving everything into one folder, my homework (if I even did it) would be crumpled up at the bottom of my backpack, and my once meticulously detailed planner would have weeks on end of no entries. It wasn’t just school – my home life was just as bad. My mom can attest to the fact that my room was a DISASTER area. It would get so bad that she’d give me one last warning of, “you better clean your room or I’m going through it with a garbage bag and whatever’s left on the floor is getting thrown out.” AND SHE ACTUALLY DID IT. TWICE. That woman was not playing games. Which is why I’m still bitter that my brothers are SLOBS and have zero repercussions. UGH.

Somewhere between high school and post-grad life, I became mildly obsessed with organizing. I love living by myself, because it means that I’m in total control of what my apartment looks like. And I LOVE a good list – bonus points if it’s color coded. That said, there are some really helpful tips I’ve come across that I wanted to share with you guys. I hope they help!


Tips for Staying Organized

 

Calendar Organization

Color coding your calendar and actual using it is GOLD, my friends. I recently started a new job, and I took about two hours to focus on my Google Calendar and create a bunch of mini calendars within it to organize my life. I have one for work-related things, one for blogging, one for working out, one for appointments, one for plans with my friends… the list goes on on and on. They’re all color coded, and all in once place. The reason I use my work account is because it’s always up on my desktop, so I can see everything I have planned out at a glance. No switching back and forth between several accounts – it’s all in a single location. SO easy!

 

 

To-Do Lists

Ok this seems really obvious, but I was recently floored to find out how many of my friends don’t actually make to-do lists. I live and die by mine! I actually get legit happy when I can cross something off that list. I feel so good about myself. Instead of writing it down on paper (which is what I used to do), I started using the Notes feature on my Mac. I can easily create new lists for different things such as ingredients I need to pick up from the Grocery store, reports I need to put together for clients, blog posts that I want to write out for the next month…. the limit does not exist! Don’t try to rely on your memory for the things you want to get done. If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget in 5 minutes and then spend the next 2 days trying to remember wtf you were so amped to get done in the first place.

 

De-clutter Your Work Space

You know what’s really unnecessary? Having 15 photos of you and your friends and/or family on your desk at work, especially when you share that desk with someone else. It’s also necessary to have a ton of knickknacks in your work area. Why? Because it’s distracting and looks messy. At my old job, I was 100% guilty of this. I had photos taped to my monitors, post it notes hanging off of them, an entire jar of pens (even though I only used 1), a candy jar, and a plant all hanging out with me. Even though I had a person on either side of me sharing the desk space. WHAT. EVEN. I also had a large + spacious 3 drawer filing cabinet that was filled with everything but files. The top drawer was packed with random crap like lotion, chotchkis, cards, flash cards that I never used ONCE. The second drawer was filled with snack (ok, this is important). The last drawer was filled with all the “in case of emergency” stuff. To be fair, this was somewhat practical when working with all girls, because someone always needed something. But at one point, I had 4 cans of dry shampoo, a full makeup kit, brushes, hair spray, lotion, self tanner, mints, floss, tissues… it was ridiculous.

At my new job, I have a far less cluttered space. I have a single larger monitor + laptop, a small (fake) succulent from TjMaxx, my water bottle and my phone on my desk. In my filing cabinet, I have snacks in the first drawer, a few beauty necessities in the second drawer, and a completely bare third drawer. Seriously, it’s empty. And I feel lighter.

 

Consistently Clean Out Your Closets and Cabinets

I’m 100% not exaggerating when I say that I clean out my closets at least twice a month… sometimes even once a week. I feel SO accomplished whenever I do it, and I always get rid of a pile of useless things that for some reason, I thought I should hold on to the last 10 times I cleaned it out. There’s nothing worse than trying to find something and not being able to because it’s buried in a pile of your unorganized crap. Using bins to store things by category will keep your closets need + tidy, and even create additional space for you to store the rest of the stuff you don’t need in it. Hoarding… we all do it.

 

Don’t Go to Bed With a Messy Apartment

The easiest way to for messes to accumulate is to not take care of them in a timely manner. We’ve all been there – you just can’t figure out what to wear to work, so you try on 8 different outfit combos and then run out of time to put it away before you have to run to the subway. Then by the time you get home, you’re exhausted from work/going out to happy hour/getting in a sweat session at the gym, so you peel off your clothes, toss your shoes and bag to the side, hop in the shower and or/make yourself some food. It’s so easy to just leave the mess that’s accumulated during the day and say you’ll get to it tomorrow. THAT IS A TRAP. Because tomorrow, the cycle will repeat. And the mess will grow. And you will hate yourself for it. Personally, I have anxiety thinking about going to bed with my room a mess. I just can’t do it. I’ll drag myself out of bed if I know the dirty dishes are sitting in the sink, or that I have a pile of clothes on my couch and floor that I could put away. Just do your future self a favor and spend the 10 minutes (max) it will take to clean up. Your mind will be clearer and you’ll wake up to a clean, refreshing space.

*PRO TIP: Make your bed. EVERY morning. Just do it.

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What are some of your best tips for staying organized? Comment below or send me a DM! xo, AJ