Cincy Spotlight: Creative Indoor Content With The Neat Suites

This blog post is sponsored by The Neat Suites. Thank you to their team for hosting me!

Hello Lovelies!

With the unpredictable late winter/early spring weather, I have been looking for new creative ways to shoot outfit content without needing to venture out into the cold. So, This past weekend Con and I got to do a mini staycation at The Neat Suites where I batch-shot a ton of content for upcoming campaigns!

Unique Indoor Photo Locations

We stayed at the Pickle Factory Hotel, the cutest small getaway with a variety of unique and interesting themed rooms, perfect for any aesthetic!

This is the perfect way to combine the popular staycation idea with a fun solution for many content creators. You can start your stay with indoor shoots, utilizing every picturesque corner, and then end the night with some relaxation! With a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area, you can get almost all the lifestyle content you need all inside. When we stayed at the Neon room in the Pickle Factory Hotel, it actually started to downpour right when we got in – so you could say that is perfect timing!

The Kitchen

Possibly my favorite space with all the cute detail! And even in a small, Skandanavian-inspired space there are still plenty of features and necessities for your stay.

Living Area

All the neon light dreams here! Con and I cozied up on the couch to catch up on our favorite shows from the week for the perfect night in – not pictured: all the fun snacks!

Bedroom and Bathroom

I especially loved the adorable bathroom setup, perfect for skincare flatlays and other beauty content. Also the whole studio was set up with the best indoor lighting!

And the Pickle Factory is not the only space perfect for a staycation photo shoot! So, if you are looking for Cincy lodging, a staycation destination, or a killer photoshoot location, book with The Neat Suites here!

xx,

A

Four Years Of She Laughs

Hello Lovelies!

It’s crazy to think I’ve been saying that for YEARS now! Back in January 2018 I had no idea how much a seemingly small decision would change the course of my life, and I’m so glad it did! Since today is the anniversary of my very first blog post RIGHT HERE, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how a simple dream can change everything. Before we get started I want to thank YOU dearly for being here reading this memoir, supporting my dreams, and helping to make something meaningful out of this platform. So thank you for believing in me, and now let me share with you the story of an anxious college student:

January 14, 2018. I was a junior on break at Miami University in my very first apartment. Every January students have an extra 3 weeks off (called J-term) to rest, take a few credits, or even travel. So, in my empty college town, I decided to use that time to study ahead and apply to summer internships. As a PreMed student, I was reading up on the MCAT and researching every possible internship in various medical fields. Spoiler alert: I never took the MCAT.

After a few days I felt motivation running low, so in the spirit of the new year I took a day to reflect on my goals for that year, the next 5 years, and even the next 10 years. This process included some big questions like “What lifetime achievement does this short term goal serve?” And that’s when it hit me: if there was one thing I wanted to do with my life, it would be to write my story. Sounds a little strange, but since the age of fourteen I have wanted to openly share my personal struggles in order to change the narrative on big issues and encourage people facing similar challenges.

Now back to those internship applications: most forms have space for applicants to share their website or body of work. So with the need to make space for writing and the prompt for a website, I started a blog!

At first, a lot of people in my life did not get it. Sorority girls would make fun of my posts behind my back (or in the comments), and even the person I was dating at the time called it “a phase.”

But I had goals. Roughly a year later, after not giving up and working on my brand EVERY SINGLE DAY, the negative people phased out of my life and I officially changed career paths. Even at that point I was neither full time in the industry nor would I consider myself established in my brand. For FOUR years I worked every single week on this website, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok writing my silly stories, taking selfies, and doing little dances (lol sike). It was not until year three that I honestly saw the results I prayed for, and WOW does it feel good to watch the work pay off!

I am insanely grateful to be in a place in life where not only do I get to do exactly what I wanted to do every day, but I also get to do it surrounded by the most supporting people. Thank you for reading and continuing to be a part of this amazing community.

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25.

xx,

A

How To Reach Your Goals In 2022

Hello Lovelies!

It is that time of year, and honestly this is my FAVORITE time of year! It is Capricorn season, the air outside is chilly, the vibes inside are cozy, and it is time to set some goals for the new year! If you know me and this blog, you know that goal setting and the new year are two topics close to my heart. In fact, that is how this whole thing started!

Goals Lists

Nearly 4 years ago in January 2018, I was studying for the MCAT and applying to summer internships during winter break and something did not feel right. I decided to take a day to focus on what I wanted to accomplish that semester, year, and how those goals would serve my long term goals 5 and 10 years out.

I asked myself what I really want to do, and what I wanted to do more than the academics on my plate was to simply write. I wanted to share my stories and encourage people to love themselves and to live better.

At first I was terrified of changing my career path so far into university. But over the next year I gave this dream a shot while continuing my studies. Keep in mind I was an absolutely unaccomplished pre-med student with low prospects, so the decision to completely switch to blogging a year later was easy.

It all started with a goals list: identifying not only what you want but how you will achieve it over a course of time. It’s not a resolution to go to the gym more or eat healthier, it’s a goal of being able to do cool things with your body with specific checkpoints that align with your mental and physical health needs.

To better understand how to detail your goals, read this article from the early days of She Laughs!

Visualize With Mood Boards

Now to take your goals a step further: make a mood board for your year! I started adding mood boards in 2019 and it’s a fun way to include those goals in your daily life with reminders on your phone or computer background! Here is my very first one!

Here I mostly included “girl boss” quotes as this was the turning point when I made this dream my career! It’s absolutely crazy to realize all that has changed since, and now feeling proud of that time in my life has made me more motivated to dream big!

I think I skipped 2020 but in early 2021 I made this board with more specific goals like get a puppy (still in the works), buy a cloud couch, and if you look closely there is an engagement hidden in the image!

I wrote, “a year changes you a lot” and oh my god it did! Did I know we would be married by now or that I would be blessed with amazing supporters on TikTok? No but I am so grateful for all the good from this year!

This year I am SO HYPE to dream big! Some things I am manifesting include: quality partnership building with Con, big career moves, consistent brand partnerships, my own office and photo studio, body positive lifestyle changes, and so much more!

I included more subtle representations of these goals in this years mood board and added my number for the year: 7 (which is also my best friend’s favorite number!) my favorite part of the whole process is to set a new vibe for the year with all the fun of designing each board!

Thank you for reading and I hope you have an AMAZING NEW YEAR!

xx,

A

Last Minute Gifts!

Hello Lovelies!

Over the past few years I have learned is if there is anything I am good at it is waiting until the last minute to shop holiday gifts! This year I decided to change up the gift guides and share with you my top trendy picks for almost anyone on your list!

1. Travel Gear

Maybe this is me being a crazy person wanting coordinating bags but if you know someone who loves to travel maybe the Marc Jacobs tote bag would make the perfect accessory!

2. Cozy Chic

From the UGG slippers we have seen everywhere to Barefoot Dreams cardigans, everyone loves to stay warm in winter

3. Beauty Favs

Beauty gifts are the best because they’re small and so useful! If you aren’t sure someone’s taste, any hydrating skincare product would be my go-to! and don’t forget skincare fridges!!

4. Elevated Basics

Sometimes a good pair of sneakers or a well made sweater can go a long way and show some serious thought to a gift! If you know someone who is due to replace their favorite wardrobe pieces, see if you can even find an exact match!

Shop these picks and more via the link here!

xx,

A

December Bucket List

Hello Lovelies!!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! For Con and I, this is our first Thanksgiving as a married couple so we decided to create some of our own traditions in Cincy! We even tried out a new restaurant that hosted a turkey dinner, but then they ran out of turkey! With plenty of food and plenty to be thankful for, we spent much of the weekend practicing gratitude and remembering all the good that has happened in 2021.

Now that it is officially December, we have one more month to make this an amazing year and soon it will be winter (my favorite season btw)!! So, if you are looking for fun activities to get into the holiday/winter spirit, here are a few ideas! I’m titling this the “bucket list” because I hope Con and I experience each of these together this year!

Send Out Christmas Cards

This year we actually didn’t have time to put a typical card together, but we are sending our close friends notes in the mail for the season! Whether you are the type to go out and take portraits for a card to send out or not, I highly recommend finding a way to let your loved ones know you are thinking of them this season!

Get Creative With Handmade Presents

This is one of my favorite things! Rather than hit the mall for the people on my list, I like to get more personal and pick out gifts that fit their personalities – like buying gift card for experiences like spas or skydiving, arranging a basket of their favorite things, or whatever they love that isn’t normally at a department store!

Go Ice Skating

Ok I had to put something basic in here! One of my favorite date ideas is skating during the season, so if you are looking for something new or keeping up the tradition, get on the ice!

Spend A Day Focused On Gratitude

Yes, we just had Thanksgiving, but a new tradition for Con and I is setting aside time to thank people in our lives with cards or messages! This could also be a good time for simple reflection on the year focusing on just good things!

Go To A Local Holiday Event

See your town light up the local tree or find an open mic on a cozy night! The holiday season is the perfect time for local events especially for groups!

Find Easy Ways To Decorate Your Space

Living in a small apartment it can be hard to put up/store excessive decor, so this year we decided to put ornaments on our plants! Kind of a weird idea but if you want low-maintenance ways of getting festive try small trees or recyclable/storable decor like paper snowflakes!

Start A New Tradition

This may be a challenge but whether you are single, in a relationship, or have a family of your own – a great way to make this season special for you is to find things that make you happy and help you get in the spirit! A number of traditions I started for myself before meeting Con I still include today – like certain parties, baking specific dishes, or watching the same movies! Whether you are young or old, anytime is a good time to start a new tradition, especially if it gets you into that positive spirit!

Donate!

This is my favorite part of this season. As you know from previous posts, I love recycling and clearing out my closet regularly so the holidays is a great time to get a donation collection together. If not personal items you can also participate in canned food drives or volunteer to facilitate all the many donations going on in your area!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned on the blog for fun upcoming content including size inclusivity with winter sports, gift guides, New Years goals, and more!

xx,

A

Wedding Registry Must-Haves For Minimalist Brides

images by Shea (@photo_ish)

Hello Lovelies!!

One of the most difficult parts of our wedding journey was actually the registry! Since Con and I decided to elope in such a short time frame we had no time to prepare a wedding website or anything before the big day, so in very covid fashion, we post-nuptially celebrated online with close friends and family! I remember during the wedding week everyone was asking us what to get and at the time I could not think of ANYTHING – we had already set up our apartment and since we had both been independent adults before getting married it felt like we had all the essentials.

When I finally had the time to sit down and compile a list of things that would make our new home feel complete, I realized what worked for us was sticking to functional items. We are not big on china or copper cookware. We live in a small space and wanted our friends to celebrate with us in minimal ways. So, in case you are looking for inspiration for your registry or home, here are my top must-haves!

1. The Dyson Vacuum

This is a bit of a given since I feel like this is on every registry EVER, but this was our top gift because we literally had no space to store a vacuum larger than this, so there you go!

2. All Clad Pans

There is a lot you can do with just two pans, so we decided to go with a high end brand for pieces we can use every day! For us these can function for anything from eggs to stir fry to pasta and everything we have learned so far!

3. Espresso Machine

This one has been life-changing!

4. Anything Yamazaki

Again, since we live in a small space we needed a few small space solutions so we added a few inexpensive items to mainly maximize storage without clutter. We found a lot of our pieces both with Crate and Barrel and Amazon!

5. Bowls That Can Also Function As Plates

These Anthropologie bowls are a perfect in-between for dishes served either in a bowl or plate, so you do not have too many pieces in your cabinets!

Bonus! Add in small inexpensive items throughout your registry – think of the items you would buy yourself but haven’t gotten around to – some of my favorite extras include cheese boards and honey pots!

This list may seem short but that is the beauty of minimalism, and I hope this inspired you for your future wedding!

xx,

A

Finance For Shopaholics

Hello Lovelies!

I got the idea for this blog post after seeing a number of comments on recent body positive TikTok videos that bring up the difficulty of “dressing cool” without significant disposable income.

I talk a lot about size inclusivity in the fashion industry but one topic I have not addressed on this platform is economic inclusivity. For a long time (still today) fashion is insanely classist. Only the elite can afford what everyone wants and those without the means for Prada turn to fast fashion, another insanely problematic part to this whole mess.

In this blog post I will explain first the financial mistakes I made early in adulthood when I valued clothes over food, then I will offer what solutions have worked best for me to stick to a budget with my wardrobe. Everyone has a different financial situation, and a trendy closet is almost always overpriced, but I hope this information can help you feel encouraged to wear what makes you and your wallet feel happy!

Start ‘Em Young

Ok so I’ve been obsessed with clothes and outfits and shopping since the age of 3. (Not kidding) I would do fashion shows for my older siblings before they left for the school bus, and my favorite childhood outfit involved cowboy boots, a pink purse, a white church hat, pearls, sunglasses, and NOTHING ELSE. Laugh out loud.

Growing up my parents kept me to a fairly strict budget for school clothes, and every year I learned new ways to maximize my pennies for the perfect first day of school fit. I went to a private school where it seemed everyone had the latest anything, and while I was crazy privileged myself, a firmly limited budget taught me to work with what I had.

All The Things I Did Wrong

Then came adulthood. I thought I knew how to budget and I seriously struggled through college. I got my first retail credit card thinking it would not be a big deal and now I am still paying it off 4 years later.

During that time I started this blog and with an industry of fashion and beauty influencers I was convinced I had to have it all. From makeup palettes to every bootie in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, it was a crazy time and a crazy delusion of thinking this level of consumerism was normal

The Actual Financial Advice

It wasn’t until I actually worked in retail that I really understood it all. I learned how brands will mark up prices by 90%, meaning it may cost $5 to make something but the store is selling it for $50, or even $100. And we may not fully understand the value of a piece of clothing, but even accounting for the price to make something and keep a business and it’s employees afloat, it is oftentimes overpriced.

So here is what really helped me! After I left retail, became financially independent, and fell in love with a more sustainable living, these are the tricks I use to help me have fun styling my closet without making the financial mistakes of my past!

1. Keep It Minimal

It sounds simple and straightforward, but I feel way more confident knowing that the only clothes in my closet are what fit my body and style right now. A year ago I went through a life detox where I started selling a lot of what I was not wearing, and this change helped me visualize a consistent capsule wardrobe, making getting ready infinitely easier. Set up a nice storage system for different seasons, and group your favorite pieces based on what works well together, that way your closet becomes less overwhelming and you have a better understanding of what you actually need before you go and buy something you have no use for.

2. Never pay full price, EVER.

There is always a coupon somewhere, and if there isn’t, just wait. Some of my favorite long term pieces came from the last chance sale rack at a designer store. Get the good stuff but do not give them everything you got.

3. Just because it is on sale, doesn’t mean you need it.

This may sound like a juxtaposition to my previous point, but another thing I learned from retail is this: if a store has the same sales on schedule (like clockwork) then maybe the clothes are worth even less than the sale price. And worse, maybe the clothes are poorly made and hardly worth anything at all!

4. Read tags!

I make it a rule not to spend more than $50 on anything synthetic or blend. I prefer well-made, 100% cotton, cashmere, silk, whatever, because those are the pieces I will reach for when I am 50 years old.

5. Shop sustainably!

If you are just starting to build your personal style, go thrifting! Buy secondhand and build outfits off of what you find. And if you are like me a love all the trends, regularly sell your clothes so you aren’t wasting as you go! This also helps me keep a small closet because I can more easily focus on what pieces are actually important.

And those are my big tips! They may seem like odd or insignificant steps in the scheme of budgeting for clothes, but no matter your budget I hope these skills can help you realize what is really important when it comes to personal style!

xx,

A

7 (Not Basic) Fun Fall Activities

Hello Lovelies!!

This year something about fall just feels extra special. Maybe it’s the fact that it has not quite snowed yet, or maybe it is the promise of good food, good company, and cozy everything! So in honor of the season, here are some fun things to do that aren’t super basic but will get you in the spirit! Let’s get to it!

1. Make your own fall flower arrangement

In my recent exploration of the city I have been lucky enough to discover some new (to me) local flower shops where you can pick out your own stems and diy an arrangement! To make it extra fall I love using seasonal colors with dahlias, add something easy to dry like pampas grass, and make it smell amazing with a little eucalyptus!

2. Date Night At Home Using Farmers Market Finds

Ever since getting married Con and I both love experimenting in the kitchen for date night, and with all the harvest finds at our local market it is easy to get festive! One of my favorite new dishes is a nice filet with sweet potatoes and a fall salad!

3. Do A Fun Photoshoot!

This is my favorite!! Go to your fav coffee shop or find some leaves and just take some cute pics! Sure you can be basic but one thing I love is using fall staple colors like brown and creating something amazing with trendy outfits or capturing sweet moments.

4. Rainy Day Movie Marathon

We all have movies reserved for rainy days. Mine is definitely The Parent Trap, but this season could call for a change of pace, or something fitting like a Harry Potter marathon or your favorite scary thrillers! Break out the fuzzy socks and cinnamon lattes, it’s time for a cozy movie sesh!

5. Drive Through A Park

This is one of my favorites! If it’s chilly but you want to see the leaves change, hop in the car, play your favorite nostalgic songs, and look at the beauty around you!

6. Make Candy Baskets For Friends

This can be similar to a “boo-gram” but if you want to do something nice for your friends or neighbors in a contact-free way, try leaving them a basket of goodies! Maybe even make it an easy project by getting all your supplies at one store!

7. Bake Fall-Themed Cookies

Ok this one is a liiitle basic, but I had to! Con and I are currently eating some fall leaf-inspired sugar cookies and wow! It really is more fun having sweets around when you actually bake them yourself!

Thank you for checking out this list and I hope it inspires you to make the most out of your fall season!!

xx,

A

How We Planned A Whole Wedding In Just 3 Weeks

Hello Lovelies!!

I am so pumped for today’s Wedding Wednesday post! We just got back all the photos and are already re-living all the fun 🙂

For this blog post I wanted to answer some big questions while also offering inspo for future weddings!! First let’s break down how this all started! Con proposed July 25th 2021 (THIS YEAR!!) and in the first week or two weeks of being happily engaged and thinking about a wedding I quickly became very stressed over the location, guest count, and venue. The location and guest count obviously have to be decided with the venue, but for us we ran into the issue of too many location options. Con and I live in Cincinnati, my family is in Virginia Beach, his family is in New York, and we have vacation spots in the mountains of Virginia and Nantucket respectively. I had a hard time finding venues I liked – I knew I wanted something different and not like the typical church/banquet hall type setting, so we looked at different options in the areas mentioned. We also faced the issue of trying to decide location based on the guest list, but for us literally any location would be a destination wedding for the majority of our guests so then the ideas of how to make it work became more and more wild. At one point I was absolutely sold on the idea of a remote mountain location but how do we get 100 people up a mountain and also where does everyone stay (in this scenario lodging and food were definitely tricky) – so we had all those questions to answer!

Next, the venue issue – again I was not interested in doing a typical venue for starters. I was picky, but I also loved the idea of an elaborate backyard party and cutting out the venue cost. Another stress (and this was big) with this part of the process was the fear of putting money into a large event and losing it to covid. That exact week was when the delta variant started to change everything, venues were freezing their books, and the idea of even long term planning seemed unreliable.

Con and I originally thought of early 2022 for the date, but with all these questions and no clear ideas, we decided to just elope and MAYBE plan something far ahead. The date was August 12th and we initially thought we would elope just the two of us in Cincinnati. When we told our families the idea of getting married on Nantucket came up! We were already planning a family trip to celebrate our engagement so we said “Sure! Why not!” And that’s how our last second island wedding started!

We had exactly 3 weeks and started from scratch! Thank God our mothers spent every day calling and planning all the vendors. Yes, we thought we would just elope, but a week into the planning we realized we could pull off a micro wedding and again thought, why not!

Our Vendors

Con and I wanted a morning wedding and we also were willing to do a non-Saturday wedding which really helped us to plan and find vendors! Here’s a brief list of who we found and when!

The Chanticleer – one of the first things we locked down was a reception venue for our lunch after the ceremony. This also made for a great photo spot! We had a menu we planned ahead and the cake was delivered to the restaurant that morning.

Deb Lilly – our florist turned ceremony host! She was able to arrange all our flowers, create the wildflower vibe I requested AND she even offered her garden for our ceremony! Certainly made it easier to use that location and we had plenty of photo backdrops! The crazy forecast that week and complicated floral shipping certainly didn’t stop her from creating a perfect atmosphere! She also took those adorable shots of the flowers in the sink – isn’t that darling??

Emily Elisabeth Photography – our photographer who normally is crazy booked but lucky for us had availability right when we needed her! We also were able to find her early in the process so that definitely gave us peace of mind – it also helped that my sister in law follows the photography scene on the island and knew who was the best option. We had some lighting issues with how bright that day was and she was able to compensate for all that!

The Cake – We were able to find ONE cake shop to do the job, Nantucket Bake Shop, and luckily they were able to copy the aesthetic from some photo inspiration I sent them! We did a white almond cake with lemon filling and buttercream frosting for an end of summer vibe.

The Dress – This was definitely the hardest task for me – I went to several shops but anything I could get off the rack I would have to really alter, and that can take 3 MONTHS. Very quickly I was on a mission to find something ONLINE that somehow perfectly fit my body. Also the bridal sizing vs vanity sizing vs normal sizing bs was a nightmare on top of everything! Finally, the day before we flew to Nantucket, I rush ordered THE DRESS. It was a Mac Duggal gown from their latest summer collection. A white background with wildflowers, butterflies, and stars all around and SOMEHOW it fit perfectly when I was convinced it would be too small! I had it quickly hemmed and stuffed it in my suitcase!

The Music – my mother-in-law met Tim Perry at another event on the island and after many phone calls – and debates with our parents over classical vs modern music – we got a live musician!

Our Videographer – this was probably the craziest story of all! The day before the wedding I am sitting with my in-laws and mention “if we had video this would be perfect” that day they all scrambled texting everyone they knew on the island to see if someone they knew could at least hold an iPhone for our wedding (lol) and that evening my mother-in-law sent me the info for Andrew Cromartie – I texted him during dinner and that night, at 9:00 PM when the ceremony and everything would start at 9:00 AM the next morning, we hired our videographer!o

Through the whole process I was dumbfounded at how we pulled this off. I kept thinking “only crazy people call wedding vendors and say ‘no not next year, this week!’” And then I remember we really are that crazy!

So that is how this all happened and I can’t believe it worked! Thank you for reading our story and I hope this inspired you to have an atypical wedding!

xx,

A

Outfit Inspiration For Any Bridal Event

Hello Lovelies!!

I have been DYING to share wedding content with y’all for weeks (especially with how everything happened) so in this wedding series I will be sharing all the fun details and inspo, from style to vendors to all the wedding planning and advice!

One of my favorite parts of this season is the outfits! Fun fact I started collecting cute white dresses before meeting Connor “in case I ever need to only wear white for a few months” lol! So, here are some of my favorite bridal looks for your inspiration! And if you don’t want to read and just want to shop I have a link to everything HERE!

The Nap Dress

I LOVE this dress from Hill House! I mainly got it as a modest pajama option for around my in-laws but then it became the perfect comfortable dress for my last minute bridal shower!!

Ivory Sundresses

I had been eyeing this Ulla Johnson dress for a bit and it was actually my backup WEDDING DRESS!! This one is very trendy with the puff sleeves and midi length but I love the little details that make the dress really eye-catching! This one I ended up wearing to a family dinner earlier in the week, and will definitely repeat as an everyday sundress!

Casual Options

I found this top on sale At Anthropologie and it ended up being perfect for white jeans! I normally do not pair white with white but the 3D texture of the eyelet top changed my mind! Also these sandals saved our family vacation – super comfortable and paired with all my outfits! Denim is Madewell and will be linked with everything!

The LWD

Probably my favorite look from this season also from the sale rack! This one I wore for a few events and the best part was how COMFORTABLE IT WAS!

So that’s it for my favorite bridal looks! Here I have everything linked for you to shop, with similar options as well!

xx,

A