Blogging In The Beginning

I get SO many questions about how I started blogging and what steps someone needs to take to start a blog, so I figured, “lightbulb!” Why not just write a blog post on it? Ik, I’m genius, no need to remind me. But feel free to anyway 🙂

The Planning:

I started The Laughing Blonde because I felt like I needed some sort of creative outlet. There are a few bloggers that I had been following on Instagram before, and it seemed so cool to me to get to travel and have new experiences and get paid to do it! I’ve always had a creative side to me, and I found it difficult to stay excited about my day job as a media planner, which is less creative and more strategic. There was just one night in late January when I got a little burst of energy and decided to actually go for it! I spent about two hours trying to come up with a name, which seemed impossible because literally every single one I came up with was taken already. Do you know how infuriating it is to come up with a genius name for your blog, only to see that some asshole has already claimed it and hasn’t posted a photo since 2013? UGHH. So once I finally found a name that was available both on Instagram and as a website domain, I was ready to go. To be clear, I had ZERO experience designing a blog. The last time I “designed” a website was when I was 12 and a psycho about customizing my MySpace page. Side note- remember when we all thought we were little mini Mark Zuckerbergs (before he was even a thing) because we would figure out how to slightly alter our profile codes on MySpace and made them look really badass? SAME. So anyway, here I am at 24 years old, feeling like an 82 year old who can’t figure out how to turn her cell phone on AKA feeling VERY FREAKING LOST. I picked a super basic layout and wrote my first post, and then published my photo on Instagram. It was truly about as bare bones as you can get. From other people that I’ve talked to, I’ve heard that people stress for MONTHS over perfecting their SEO strategy, or write like, 20 pieces of content before they even make their site public. For me, I just wanted to get something published so that I wasn’t putting so much pressure for perfection on myself. To be clear, I don’t feel like there’s one perfect way to do any of this – I just didn’t want to give myself an excuse to prolong it anymore!

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Followers:

Ahh, follower count. One of the biggest stress-inducing things in the blogger world. Gaining followers, especially in the beginning, is tough because you really have no content (so what are people following you for?) and because it’s unlikely that people are going to want to follow an Instagram page that only has 2 posts and 37 followers – there’s strength in numbers, and at the beginning it’s the struggle bus all the way. The key is to get support from the people you know first. At first I wanted to keep the blog separate from my personal life, which is why I have both two Instagram accounts – one is personal, one is strictly for the blog. I was slightly embarrassed that I had even started a blog, and didn’t feel like I wanted to be judged by my friends, colleagues or even old peers from high school for what I was writing about – especially because I knew there would be times when I would post things that were really personal and sensitive to me. I mean, if you’ve been reading my stuff for the last 6 months then you probably already know what kinds of things I’m talking about. I’m pretty deep sometimes- who knew!? But as I started writing more and more content, I realized that my close friends were going to see it anyway, and honestly, wtf do I care what the guy I had a crush on in 9th grade thought of me anymore? I mean TBH yeah I care a little bit – EW BYE – but not enough to keep me from proudly posting my content. Don’t like it? Don’t look!

So I built a base of followers around the people who knew me and would be at least minutely interested in hearing what I had to say. From there, I did the ~controversial~ move of the classic follow/unfollow. Depending on who you ask, this is either the best or worst way to get Instagram followers. I guarantee you that every single person reading this knows what I’m talking about – it’s the random follow you get from an account you’ve never heard of and you’re like, huh? How did they even find me? Let me tell you: they found you from going to an Instagram account that they like and following the accounts that follow that page. It’s truly a numbers game at first. And it’s a pain in the butt as well, because you can only follow like, 150 a day before Instagram blocks you. So building up your audience is NOT easy, and it takes time. I’ve also found that I need to be better about letting go of the people who unfollow me. It’s nothing personal, they’re just trying to keep their follower:following ratio on point, and for one reason or another The Laughing Blonde didn’t make the cut. It happens.

What I do NOT recommend is buying followers. It’s clear as day when a follower is bought, because they’re have little to no content on their page, have 7 followers and be following 52, 985 people. Don’t waste your money, babe.

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Content:

I’ll keep it simple with this one: Post content that you actually enjoy writing about. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to write a piece when the enjoyment isn’t behind it. It’s all about writing what you know. Hands down, the content that performs the best for me is always the stuff where I’m being really vulnerable and honest about who I am and what I’m going through. Yes, I also like writing about cool restaurants to check out and what makeup I wear, but if you look back at my stuff, you’ll notice that I’ve cut back on those kinds of pieces recently because people don’t care about them as much. They’re reading your blog because they care about YOU. If they wanted recommendations for dinner, they’d just go to Yelp.

Another thing I’ve learned is that writing in my own voice is what allows my readers relate to me so much. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have texted me saying how hard they’re laughing because they can picture me saying the words out loud to them – that’s such a huge compliment! I try to keep it as real as I possibly can – that means sharing my accomplishments, as well as my failures. You’d be surprised how supportive someone you don’t even know can be! Click here for my favorite post to date!

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Photos:

I get photos from all over the place. A lot of times I re-post things I love from other bloggers. Sometimes I use content I’ve shot myself, and other times I work with local photographers who are looking to build up their portfolios. I’m not a Rockafeller over and here and (sadly) I don’t come from oil money either. You don’t need to work with hardcore professionals to get the shots you need. Two of my favorite people I’ve worked with are 1: my friend Kira who works at Travel + Leisure and helped me out massively for my first shoot and 2: my new friend Kelsey (@styledinthestreet) who reached out to me on Instagram to set something up and was AMAZING! I highly recommend working with her if you’re in the area and get the chance. It’s all about making sure you feel totally comfortable with the person you’re working with, otherwise you probably won’t get the shots you want.

I’ve also realized that I get the most engagement when I utilize the My Story feature on Instagram – so many of my followers send me DMs after I’ve posted something, and it’s awesome to know that they’re following along and feel like they’re getting to know me!

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Do you have any tips + tricks to share with me? I’m still so new at this myself, I would love to hear what works for you guys! Post a comment or send me a message 🙂 xo, AJ

Why the apartment hunt struggle is SO REAL for New Yorkers

If you’ve ever had to move, you know that even though you’re so excited to have a fresh space, it’s not an easy task to accomplish. First of all, it’s expensive. There’s the first month/ last month bit, the security deposit, the cost of buying packing materials and then the cost of movers. Basically, if you’re not ready to liquidate some assets, you may start seeing you bank account in the red. #SoBlessed.

Apartment hunting in NYC is an entirely different beast, similar to what I would imagine the Hunger Games was like IRL. There’s 1 of 2 ways you’re doing this. You’re either living with roommates, or trying to live by yourself. And you know what? They both suck. A lot. If you’re trying to move somewhere with roommates, here are some of the scenarios you’ll undoubtedly face:

  • Different budgets- you probably don’t all make the same amount of money, so some of the group will want to ball out for central AC and an elevator building, while others will want to skimp on a 6th floor walk-up. Thank God for the American Dream, amirite?
  • Timing- If you’re not first you’re last: that’s the name of the game for NYC real estate. If you’re looking for an apartment with your roommates, you better all be there to see it and be prepared to sign on the spot because if you decide to wait until Becky can be conferenced into the roomie FaceTime chat later to discuss your options since she couldn’t be at the showing, you’re out. Someone already signed in blood and offered up their first born for it. Better luck next time.
  • Converted spaces- do I really need to say anything else about this? There’s nothing more irritating than a listing saying that there’s a 3 bedroom (and it’s reasonably priced!) available in Murray Hill, and then you find out that they’re a bunch of liars. Do you know how many weeknights I spend sprinting from my downtown office up to midtown, sweat dripping from every pore on my body and a crazed look in my eye, just to see that the place that I thought would comfortably house 3 20-something year old females was actually a “converted” apartment? All that means is that this place was originally only meant for two bedrooms and you decided that future tenants either a) didn’t want you to have a living room or b) didn’t really care if you never see the light of day again because lol your “bedroom” doesn’t have a window in it.

I just battled literally millions of other New Yorkers this last month to find a reasonably priced (lol jokes on us bc those don’t exist) and somewhat safe apartment to sign on for the next 12 months. It was like stab to the heart having to write a check for a full month’s rent (while I’m still living in my Brooklyn apartment) as well as 1.5x rent for the security deposit. Bible, I saw stars. I had to sit down with my head between my knees. Not a drill.

In the hopes of reminding myself what else was out there, I played around with Craigslist and Street Easy to see just how voraciously some of my fellow NYers are being ripped off. I felt slightly better after seeing the below:

 

First of all, there’s this:

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none_for_rent See? I wasn’t exaggerating. THERE ARE LITERALLY 0 APARTMENTS IN ALL OF MANHATTAN $1,250/MONTH OR LESS FOR RENT. Not even a a studio on friggen E. 158th street. WHAT THE HELL NYC!?

Then there’s this – $800/month for a 1 bedroom in a 700 sq. foot 3-bedroom apartment. What a BEAUT!

 

There’s this one, which I’m 600% sure is an actual walk-in closet that someone is being charged $1300/mo to suffer in

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You have this one – which wouldn’t be the worst one on the list… until you notice that there’s a shared bathroom with the rest of the floor -___-

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And finally, this iconic $1,000/mo  UWS apartment that literally went viral for how pathetic it is. Sad.

*Listed amenities include: mini-refrigerator, hot plate, closet, large window, shared bathroom

 

So as I cry over what my savings account could’ve been (but probably never will be thanks to this new apartment I’m moving into), I save a few tears for the poor souls who are stuck with these nightmares. People of New York: When it comes to apartment hunting, may the odds be ever in your favor.

xo, AJ

The Time Someone Broke Into My Apartment to Throw a Party

If you thought that the title of this article would be click-bait, you thought wrong. Someone seriously broke into my apartment last weekend for the sole purpose of throwing a party. Believe me, I’m just as mind-blown as you are.

I came home on the night of Father’s day after being away for the weekend, and when I walked through the door, I could immediately tell something was off. The furniture was out of place, there were photographs missing and other photographs that were in the wrong room. After walking around a little bit, I noticed that my living room window was wide open (which I’d never do bc I don’t have a screen and, ew, pigeons), and there were a couple of joints on the floor – I don’t smoke, so that was an extra lovely surprise for me. TBH, I was kind of mind blown with all of this because when I looked around a bit more, I realized that nothing had been stolen. I have two relatively new large smart TVs, a MacBook Pro, jewelry, etc. and none of it was missing. So someone legitimately broke into my apartment for the sole reason of throwing a party. That’s it. The best part? When I opened the door to my hall closet, there was a pizza box laying on the floor that had a name and number on it. Clearly these criminals were hard core.

This clearly wasn’t an emergency but I do live alone and wanted to take the proper precautions, so I called the non-emergency number for the police station. TBH, I was less than impressed with the response I got, because the operator legit chastised me for not calling 911. I was all, “well nobody is hurt so I didn’t think I should call 911” and she was all, “um you need the cops to come sooo obviously u need to call 911”. K THANKS LADY. ‘PRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT DURING THIS TRYING TIME.

So I call 911 and tell them what happened and they come about 45 minutes later. The cops are literally laughing at my life (and I can’t really blame them bc really, who else would this happen to?!).  Not to sound pathetic or anything but I was like, “uhmmm so I’m sure you get this a lot but I watch a ton on SVU, ya know, there’s always martathons on USA today like every single day, and idk but can you check around and make sure there aren’t any cameras hidden in here or anything?” Call me crazy, but I’m not trying to be on hidden camera so some perv in Brooklyn can watch me binge on Chinese food and re-runs of Gossip Girl, ok?? So they check around and give me the all-clear, and then I ask what my options are. They basically tell me that because nothing was stolen, that this would be Criminal Trespassing, not a B&E, which idc about. When I ask if I can file a report, they for sure did not want to. Like, ok guys I get that this prob isn’t the worst thing you’ve dealt with this week, but A CRIME WAS COMMITTED HERE. File the report so I can sleep at night, amirite? And I reminded that that we have a HOT LEAD – the pizza box with the name + phone number on it. But they just told me that it could be nothing because the person could’ve used a stolen credit card to buy it. And like, ok I get that logic, but also, you don’t know that for a fact sooo shouldn’t we just check it out just to be sure?? But they weren’t into it, so I dropped it. They left, and I checked myself into a hotel for the night.

The next morning, I told the people on my team at work what happened, and the story spread like wildfire. People literally couldn’t get enough of this story. It started bothering me more + more that the police just weren’t going to follow up on this at all. So, if you know me, you won’t be surprised at all with what I did next. That’s right, I took matters into my own hands. I channeled my inner Olivia Benson/Pope. I paid $1 to look up the background info for the name + number on the pizza box. I called Domino’s and pretended to be the person who ordered this pizza and asked what the address was that was associated with the phone number so that I could figure out where this person lived. Then I added the number to my contacts list so I could find them on SnapChat/Facebook/Instagram. I KNEW THEIR WHOLE LIFE IN AN HOUR. Then I downloaded an app called Burner to get myself a fake phone number and texted the girl to tell her what the f*ck was up. This, my friends, is when things got reallll interesting.

I sent a pretty straightforward message about the whole thing. I told her that there was no point in denying the party, because there was a pizza box with her name and number on it. I told her there was video surveillance from my building that had her and her friends on tape coming and leaving the party. I also told her that I had no interest in pressing charges and that I only really cared about them paying for the damages they caused so that I could get my full security deposit back. This girl then tells me that I must be mistaken, because she didn’t host a party this weekend and I must have the wrong number. I tell her, nope, I don’t think so, because THERE’S A PIZZA BOX IN MY LIVING ROOM WITH YOUR NAME AND NUMBER ON IT. Then she calls me, almost in tears, and proceeds to tell me that she didn’t host a party this weekend but that she did attend one that was hosted by a girl she went to high school with. She coughed up a ton of info, including a fancy-ass invitation that I’ve included at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure.

I’ve since tabled my Nancy Drew lifestyle (for now) and handed this over to the police for further investigation. That wasn’t my original plan, but after seeing the invitation to this party, the disrespect was too real for me to ignore. So for now, it’s in the hands of the law. I’ll keep you updated as it all unfolds.

xo, AJ


You’re Invited…

 

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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 Cortland, a school in upstate New York that’s known for its college of education, everyone was surprised, and nobody made it a secret. There were dozens of people who inquired as to why she wouldn’t go to a better school, why was she settling, always asking why. Truth be told, her decision was not taken lightly. At the end of the day, she didn’t want to be buried in student loans. Cortland honored her with an incredibly prestigious scholarship, and it felt right to HER. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Every time I see her in the Red Dragons gear, I get more and more excited for my girl to start the next chapter of her life- and I’m so proud that she’s doing it on HER terms.

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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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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.

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!

framebridge 3framebridge2

 

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

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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My Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift Guide 

How is May here already?! I swear – I blinked at some point in January and the next thing I know, it’s Jack Rogers weather. No complaints from me! May brings two major life stresses- bathing suit season and Mother’s Day. Both of these things give me nightmares, tbh. I love my mom, but shopping for her is near impossible. The woman has everything she wants, and is on a first name basis with our UPS and Fed-Ex delivery people, mostly thanks to Amazon Prime. Even worse? I have a wonderful step-mom, so this holiday is twice as hard- two women who deserve the world, and who have completely different tastes. What’s a near-broke 20-something year old girl-woman to do?

This year, I’ve really done my research. Check out my Mother’s Day 2017 Gift Guide for every type of mom!


For the mom who cherishes family photos

Framebridge was my go-to for this Mother’s Day – I’m truly impressed by the quality of the photos + frames for the price. I ordered 2 Instagram Minis – 1 for each mom – and they were only $39 each! There’s a pretty large selection of frames, and they’re all so beautiful! Weather your mom would prefer a single photo or a gallery wall, she’ll be hanging this one on the wall as soon as possible. The frames I ordered were the Laurel and the Camden but like I said, there’s a ton more to choose from.

Framebridge is actually giving my readers a discount to celebrate their mamas! 15% off when you use code laughingblonde15 at checkout 🙂




Framebridge Instagram Mini – $39

For the mom who loves something pretty (and thoughtful!)

As soon as I saw the Lemon Krate curated boxes, I fell in love. I first saw them featured on Lauren Conrad’s The Little Market Instagram feed a few months ago, and immediatley began following them. Their Instagram is full of amazing gifts that have me legit finding any excuse I can to give one to someone I know! My two favorites for this Mother’s Day feature Little Market candles, Elderflower + Rose lemonade, pink macaroons, cocktail kits for a long flight, lotions, etc. I seriously can’t wait to give this to my mama, I know she’s going to love it! Part of magic of these Krates are how beautifully they’re packaged. I’ve actually spoken to Lisa, one of the founders of LK, who says, “Our goal for this was to offer pre-curated Krates for all types and ages of mamas! We always match a nice paper with the Krate so that from box to product, they are having fun and enjoying opening!” Because the Krates are custom, pricing can range from $50-$200 – and they make Krates for tons of other things besides Mother’s Day, so they’re really willing to work with your budget to get you what you’re looking for.

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Lemon Krate: $50-$200    Instagram:@lemonkrategifts

For the mom who deserves a new piece of jewelry

How perfect is this handwriting bracelet!! Sadly, I didn’t even know these existed until last week when my best friend ordered the manly version for her boyfriend and sent me the link. I immediately became obsessed and had to have one made for not only my mom, but for me as well! For $31, I’ll always have a little piece of my mama with me.

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IMEsilver Etsy Shop – $31

For the mom who loves a good sassy phone case.. or wall art!

I fell in love with Verrier Handcrafted a few years ago when I discovered them at Chelsea Markets. I’ve had my fabulous wall-art displayed in my living room for almost 2 years now, and never have someone in my apartment for longer than 10 minute without them complimenting it. I showed my mom and within 2 weeks, she’d ordered at least 8 prints for herself! Her most recent purchase was the “Swear On My Chanel” phone case – too cute for words!

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Verrier Handcrafted $35 – $100

For the mom who loves a delicious smelling candle

I consider myself a candle connoisseur, and I just so happened to have found my new favorite candle at the Anthropology that opened up in my office building earlier this month. My go-to scents would be the Panjore Lychee and Goji Toracco Orange. Made in the USA and have 100 hours of continuous burn time? Go get yours asap!

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Voluspa Cut Glass Jar Candle – $26

For the mom who loves to host

Crate&Barrel has this insanely cute Ice Mold/ Wine Bottle Chiller that will look fab on every table for girls night. And tbh, this is probably the only thing I can afford at Crate that my mom would like, so it’s hard to pass up..

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Crate&Barrel Wine Bottle Chiller -$39

For the sentimental mom

A book filled with all the things you love about your mom. Cue the tears, and make sure you bring a pack of tissues with you for when she opens this emotional terrorist of a present …

Francesca’s What I Love About Mom Book – $18

 

For the mom who’s in the market for new skin care

Fresh-scented and affordable, the perfect combo. The Body Wash Infused Buffers last for 30+ uses and are fantastic for exfoliation and boosting circulation. The body lotion is enriched with Vitamin E, Macadamia Oil, Shea Butter and tons of other ingredients that will leave your mama’s skin smooth and hydrated. Not only are they great for you and your mom, but they’re vegan friendly and cruelty-free, so they’re helping all of our furry friends as well!

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Spongelle’s Bulgarian Rose Box Duo Set – $45

 

Your Life, as Told by Golden Girls Quotes

 

When your friends are roasting you in the group text:

group text

When your ex sends you the “hey, u up?” text at 2am. Boy, BYE.

exbf

When you’re thinking about how broke you are:

old is expensive

When you’re complaining about your latest Bumble guy to your best friend:

bumble compaining

When you really stop and think about the state of your life

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When you see your bf comments on another girl’s Insta and your bestie asks what you’re gonna do about it:

ice cream fle

When you’re PMSing:

PMSing

And then when it finally happens:

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When you say you’re only having 2 drinks but end up having 8:

drunk home

When your boyfriend asks you what’s wrong and you know you’re being irrational:

needy

When your doctor tells you that you should probably eat less ice cream and more broccoli:

doctor

Sprucing Up Your Spring Style on a Budget

I never thought I’d miss the days when my mom would pick out my outfit for the next day before bedtime, no matter how many times I would tell her I hated that purple corduroy overall dress – btw, she didn’t care what I had to say about it #zerof*cks. At the time, my 7 year old self despised being a poster child for Talbot Kids. I preferred Limited Too and Abercrombie #AFforLife ❤ ❤

Now that I’m 24 and an adult, I’m constantly sending her selfies of my outfits for her approval. Not that I can’t throw outfits together myself, but because I’ve been in the workforce for three years now, and I still have no clue WTF “business casual” is defined as. It’s such an ambiguous term, and I’ve found that everyone has different definitions for it. Some companies say that as long as you don’t show up in gym attire, you’re good. Some would prefer dresses or tailored pants, but not necessarily suits. Who knows what’s going on here?!

With that said, I’ve put together a handful of pieces to have in your closet as a go-to for the majority* of business-casual friendly offices this Spring. I’m also gonna do you a solid and respect the fact that like me, you might find yourself on a lil bit of a budget. Happy shopping!


Tops

LOFT Sleeveless Floral // LOFT Yellow Blouse // LOFT White Blouse // LOFT White Bell-Sleeve Blouse // LOFT Red Floral Blouse // Nordstroms Blue Flutter Sleeve Blouse // Nordstroms Red Wrap Top // GAP Fitted Denim Boyfriend Button Down // GAP Linen Popover Tunic


Dresses

Nordstroms Cobalt Blue Dress // GAP Pink Belted Fit + Flare Dress // Nordstroms Blue Fit + Flare Dress // GAP Floral Long Sleeve Dress // GAP Chambray Fit + Flare Dress // GAP White Tie Belt Dress // GAP Pink Midi Tank Dress // Old Navy Green Swing Dress // J. Crew Printed Short Sleeve Dress


Bottoms

LOFT Striped Bow Shorts // LOFT Pleated Skirt // LOFT Pencil Skirt // GAP Pink Slacks // GAP Skinny Jeans // GAP Eyelet Skirt // Old Navy Floral Skirt // Old Navy Mint Slacks // Old Navy Leafy Slacks


Shoes

Grey J. Crew Loafers // Red + Gold J. Crew Flats // Leopard Print J. Crew Loafers // Blush Old Navy Flats // Silver Nine West Oxfords // Black J. Crew Pumps // Beige Jessica Simpson Sandals // Camel Old Navy Peep-toe Booties

 

Go out there and slay, queens.

xo, AJ