BHLDN Bridesmaid Dresses

BHLDN Chicago

 I've had BHLDN on my radar for a while, so when they hosted my wedding planner Karen and I to come in and scope out some styles, they had us at Champagne. BHLDN surpassed every already great expectation I had. Their bridesmaid dress selection is stunning, and the experience they deliver makes you feel like you're their most special bridal party.

BHLDN
BHDLN

The downstairs of the Chicago location makes you want to play dress up for days. Whimsy dresses hang upon industrial piping, and natural light bounces off the many vintage mirrors making you feel like you're in a feminine fairytale. 

The girls had pulled a few dresses for us before we arrived, and even a jumpsuit- dead. We added to the collection and then headed up to our fitting room. 

OK PAUSE. 

These aren't just "dressing rooms". Each room is a suite. A suite with a titanic-esque couch. The wood floors are stunning but the rug is even more amazing. There is a dressing room in the dressing room. Basically I want to move in.

BHLDN
BHLDN earrings
BHLDN

Once we were in our suite and the dresses were pulled, our stylist brought us champagne and gifts! It was everything in me not to just take her home or throw her in the bridal party. 

Sofia Champagne
BHLDN dress
BHLDN bridesmaid dress

After some champagne, our dress up dreams came true. Karen and I tried on some favorites and styled them multiple ways. One of my absolute favorite concepts is adding a topper to a dress. Below is Karen in the same dress, worn three ways. Sammy and I are getting married in January, so these toppers are a great addition to a strapless dress, even if only until the reception. 

Bridesmaid dress

BHLDN has such a wide variety of hair accessories. Sometimes it's hard to find accessories that aren't 100% bling and sparkle. 

BHLDN headpiece

I can't help but obsess over Karen's balayage in these pics... 

BHLDN bridesmaid dresses
BHLDN dress

Ok get ready. This is a BRIDESMAID DRESS. I know you're as in shock as I am. At $275, the Juliette Dress could easily be a wedding dress for a bride on a budget!

BHLDN white bridesmaid dress
BHLDN clutch

I seriously can't wait to go back with all my girls. BHLDN has something for every bride, bridesmaid and Mother of the Bride/ Groom. The girls aren't intimidating and instead make you feel like a guest in their home. The experience, dresses and accessories are nothing short of special. Thank you so much BHDLN, for treating us like princesses. 

XO
AJ

Photos by // Made to be Mine

Hair Goals #Repunzel

braid

I've pretty much always been a long hair kinda girl. I've definitely had phases of experimenting with shorter styles, but have missed my long hair every single time I make the change. For me, long hair is freedom. It doesn't limit me in any way. I can easily put it in a tight bun to get it completely out of my way, I can go forever without washing it, and when it is down, I feel most like myself with mermaid curtains on the sides of my face. 

Truth is, I'd probably go for the "lob" if I wasn't getting married 7 months from today, but maybe I'm craving a short look just because I "can't" have it right now. 

Either way, lets chat about how to get long hair after a good chopping, and how to keep it looking as healthy as possible once it is long!

  • If you're looking to maintain your current length a trim every 8 weeks is great. (Super short styles can look best with a cut every 6 weeks.)

  • If you're looking to grow your hair longer, stretching your appointments 10 weeks apart should be totally fine.
  • If you wash and dry your hair only once or twice a week, (like me), you might be able to get away with 12 weeks between cuts. This is only possible if you're applying heat on your hair no more than twice a week. 
  • Any time you get a color service involving bleach, you're a great candidate for a trim. 
  • Heat protectants aren't optional! ANYtime you're blowdrying, or using a curling iron, wand, or flat iron, apply a heat protectant first! My favorites are here, here and here
  • Fall asleep with wet hair when possible. I try to shower at night and snooze on wet hair so that when I wake up I can just add messy curls, versus blow dry and curl. It cuts my heat styling in half.
  • Invest in a nice brush. I recommend this bad boy for any type of client because it glides through tangles! It's gentle enough for damaged hair and effective enough for coarse hair. I can't rave about a nice boar bristle brush enough! 
  • Rotate your pony placement. So many clients come in and I can instantly tell that they wear their ponytail in the exact same spot everyday. Hair ties can create damage and breakage, so rock these and rotate your placement. 
  • Opt for braids instead of ponytails when you workout! If you have a ponytail whipping around Lake Shore Drive as you train for the Chicago Marathon, it's gonna take a serious beating. It'll inevitely get tangly and then you'll rip a brush through it after, aggressively creating breakage. Braids hold the hair in place, out of your face, and are much more gentle. 

You grow girl!

XO
AJ

Thank you Kristi of Made to be Mine for the gorgeous photo! 
 

DIY bobby pin hacks

Bobby Pin Hacks

Your boyfriend complains about them being on every surface every time you stay at his place, but when you really need one you can't find one anywhere. Bobby pins are sneaky little creatures and today I'm excited to share some of my favorite summertime hacks!

There's something extra special about gold bobby pins on dark hair. If you're blonde, def opt for black for a strong contrast. Mixing in color is super fun too, I like mixing green, red and yellow for a surf babe look. (If you don't have colored pins, nail polish is a great way to quickly coordinate with your look!)

Festival Hair

Chicago girls that have tickets to LakeShake or Lollapalooza, these are for you! 

Festival Hair
Triangle bobby pins
Photos // Eat Pray Photo

Photos // Eat Pray Photo

What do you think? Would you try this look over a flower crown for your next summer concert?

XO
AJ

Guest Post: Bubbles In Bucktown

Sometimes people come into your life at exactly the right time, and you don't even know why yet. I met Karen, (OMG check out her blog), last year and we instantly hit it off! I had so much fun prepping her wedding hair with balayage and extensions, chatting details along the way. I was always always blown away by how organized she was. Never stressed, aside from the little week-of weather frustrations. (It rained on her wedding day, but don't fret, her hair still looked fab!) I was SO excited for her wedding day, and while getting her ready that morning wasn't even the least bit resentful that I was missing the Nationals play the Giants in the playoffs. This job is my big leagues, and her wedding was so special to me. 

When I got engaged I started asking her all kinds of questions and she kept me organized from week ONE. I'm still grateful she helped prep me for the money/parents/planning convos that are undeniably always awkward at first. 

After about a month of Karen just helping me as a great friend, I asked her if she would take me on as her first bride, first client and first wedding to actually plan and be responsible for. She's always thought about starting a wedding biz on the side and this was a great opportunity for us both. She was almost as excited as me, and took me on as a client. Talk about a role reversal! 

I'm so thankful that so far, planning has been a breeze. Karen has kept me on track and at ease the entire time, and I can't recommend her enough. I feel like she's been in the business for years. 

We have some seriously juicy planning posts planned for y'all so stay tuned! But for today, here's some advice for the newly engaged from the freshly married!

PS Happy Birthday KAREN!

Karen Puder // Bubbles in Bucktown

“If I could turn back time.  If I could find a way.”  Ok… enough Cher for today.  Actually, for the year.  But seriously, ladies, getting engaged is the best thing ever!  I want to do it all over again (with my husband John, of course).  It marks the beginning of such an incredible whirlwind of emotions, endless parties, diligent planning, multiple cake tastings (if you play your cards right), and so much more.  Before I got engaged, I thought, “How hard can it be?  It’s just one day.  I got this!”  And then, I dove in headfirst.  And it’s a lot to take in.  But it is honestly the best time of your life.  So embrace it.  It flies by.

So everyone will tell you the normal things – “The day goes by so fast, so make sure to take it all in.”  “You can’t please everyone.”  “Eat your dinner!”  And all of that is true.  But here are a few things I learned through my engagement that made it all a little bit easier.

  1. Start organized and stay organized.  If this isn’t your thing, that’s ok.  Own that, and ask for help.  Ask a friend, hire a planner, utilize online tools, or read planning books.  Excel will become your BFF.  Your Pinterest board categories will start to look like an OCD playground.  Checklists will become an extension of your arm (as will a nice glass of cabernet).  Bottom line: stay on track and you’ll keep your stress levels in-check.  Hold yourself to timelines and goals, and you will coast into the week leading up to your wedding.  Do not leave decor shopping, DIY projects, and gift buying until the month before the wedding.  Reserve that time for what has to wait – final RSVP outreach, seating chart, escort cards, and more cabernet.  
  2. Be kind and gracious to your vendors.  When you are initially reaching out to them, take an extra two minutes to write a well thought-out and heartfelt email.  Compliment their work and let them know why you are interested in working with them.  It makes such a difference!  When you start a relationship off on a sweet, positive note, it will pay off in dividends.  When you decide to book a vendor, continue with this sentiment.  Kindness does not have to be taken for weakness – hold your ground on what you really want, but do it with grace and respect.  Hire people that you feel really understand your vision and who you can see yourself having fun working with.  If you do that, you will not have to micromanage them throughout the process (because who has time for that?!).  Also, if the unthinkable happens and a vendor falls through mid-engagement, you have those nice emails (that you have archived in your “wedding vendors” email folder ☺) that will be more willing to help you out in a pinch since you were oh-so-loveable to start!
  3. Stay true to you – both of you.  This doesn’t mean you have to have over-the-top, intimate touches littered through your wedding.  It doesn’t mean you have to DIY from floor to ceiling.  It just means you should spend time with your fiancé and create an event that feels like the two of you at your core.  Are you not the type to stand on a chair in public and proclaim your love for one another?  Then don’t feel the pressure to write intimate vows and read them out loud in front of 200 people.  Keep it between the two of you and write each other private letters.  Are you not that into an extravagant six-tier cake that breaks the bank?  Skip it and have donuts.  For example: I love cheese.  I love it so much that I think my blood type is cheddar positive.  So I had the crazy idea of making our escort card table a giant cheese display--and everyone loved it!  Who wouldn’t want to find their seat while nibbling on a cube of smoked gouda?!  John and I also have the same taste in music.  So instead of playing all of the typical wedding songs, we danced until we couldn’t stand to all of our favorite hip-hop tracks, and it was SUCH a blast!  (Sorry, Grandma!)
  4. And fire up the cliché horn… but remember why you are doing all of this.  Let me preface it with this: I am a big “details” girl.  I love the perfect pairing of fonts, elegant folds in napkins, ribbons tied straightly on programs, and a subtle color scheme that even Martha Stewart would applaud.  But when you can’t decide between ivory or blush napkins, or when your cheeks are soaked in tears because your budget is becoming glaringly slim, or maybe you just can’t get Uncle Bill to respond with his RSVP… take a deep breath and look at your fiancé.  It’s not about all that stuff.  It is about you marrying the man you are head-over-heels in love with.  Like, love-more-than-a-glass-of-sparkling-rosé-with-a-side-of-fries love.  The moments I cherish the most from our engagement were still coated in salt water, but the tears were flowing for a different reason.  It was because I was picturing standing at the altar with my soon-to-be-husband.  The tears were there when I was daydreaming about looking out at all of our friends and family and reflecting on the fact that they were there just for us.  And they came pouring out when I pictured myself dancing with my dad to a song he had thought about for years.  Those are the moments I hold dearest from our engagement, and imagine this, they are the moments that I remember most from our wedding day as well.  And now I'm crying again!

Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience and cherish it the whole way! 

Love,

Karen Elizabeth

INSTA // @bubblesinbucktown

Email // karen@bubblesinbucktown.com

 

 

Real Life Love

There’s a scene in the first season of Shameless where Fiona is leaving a horrible day and walking down the sidewalk in the snow. It’s apparent she feels alone and frustrated, shameless messy tears and all. Her man magically pulls up beside her, parks the car in the right lane, literally runs out of the car and romantically embraces her. 

It’s moments like that, that are real and rare, but nonetheless television makes you envy. Moments that I catch myself dreaming up after my own bad days. That maybe, magically, Sammy might pull up alongside me walking the four lane Lasalle Street or while I’m trying to hail a cab in the pouring Spring rain. 

I convince myself once a month that Sammy’s surprising me that day. I make sure to shave my legs and wear waterproof mascara. I make sure my bra and panties match. I throw out last week’s kale I failed to Vitamix as much as I’d hoped. I’m never resentful when he doesn’t show up to surprise me, after all I fully know it’s not possible. There’s still a part of me that’s bummed. 

It takes a different kind of strength to remind myself that what we have IS a fairytale and undoubtably magical. The typical movie scene embraces and silliness I admire might not be realistic, but there’s so much special that deserves credit of it’s own. 

This Valentine’s Day was the first Valentine’s Day Sammy and I have spent together, EVER, and we’ve been dating since 2009. We were staying with friends in Orlando, and I quietly snuck to the restroom at 6am. When I tip-toed back I was smirking in glory that Sammy hadn’t moved and was still sound asleep. I slowly leaned back onto my pillow and crunched on something hard. I reached under my head to find a red envelope. The sweetest message written in the sweetest card in the most thoughtful delivery. Way freaking better than roses. 

Things aren’t always Nicholas Sparks. Not even close. Your tearjerker moments might not involve, “If you’re a bird I’m a bird”, but are worth recognizing. The little in betweens of life are so much more special than the charades. When distance and loneliness has me momentarily doubt how special my relationship is, Sammy quickly brings me back to reality. Even the best stories have moments of normal and we’re making our own movie. One I’m proud to star in. Call me cheesy, I like Velveeta. 

Love you Sammy Palace.

L'Occitane Creme Divine Review

Moisturizer
L'Occitane Creme Divine Moisturizer Review

I've used Crisco-like thick moisturizers that made my face feel hydrated, but made my makeup slip right off. I've used night creams. I've used coconut oil. There were some formulas that seemed to work, and left me hydrated all day, but as soon as I washed my face, I was flakey again. I've never found a moisturizer that left my skin feeling great, and didn't interfere with my makeup lasting all day, until last Spring when I tried the L'Occitane Creme Divine for the first time. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, my skin has always been dry. I've been in search of the perfect moisturizer for YEARS. 

This thick and velvety goodness is my favorite moisturizer for all four seasons.  As long as I use it my skin feels fresh and elastic! I swear in the past year, my skin has started to look more youthful, a bonus I wasn't even looking for in a moisturizer. A little goes a long way with this smell-good magic potion, so you don't need to cringe at the price tag as much as you think! 

You can snag your own here, here or here :)

XO
AJ

Bridal Balayage

Balayage

Even if you have virgin hair, you're no foreigner to the trending word, Balayage.

Balayage is a freehand painting technique that delivers the most natural hair color. A sunkissed glow you haven't seen since the summer after fifth grade. It's super low maintenance, and can be as subtle or as noticeable as you prefer. 

We've all had an awful color service at some point, and too often it freaks girls out from ever getting color again. So many brunettes tried highlights in high school or college and ended up looking like a German Shepherd with high contrast muddy streaks, damaged ends, and a harsh line of outgrowth six weeks later. If you're that girl, I'm begging you to hear me out. 

Bride or not, dimensional color is more beautiful than non-dimensional color. Without dimension, there's nothing to separate color from looking like it came straight out of a box from the drugstore. But if you are a bride, it's that much more important. 

I've never had a bride pull up their Pinterest board, point at a photo of non-dimensional color and say, "That's what I want!" It will never happen. We're drawn to styles that have sun kissed highlights, no matter how subtle, otherwise, the detail in the style gets lost forever. Especially in photos. 

This type of detail is so hard to explain to brides or bridesmaids when they're in my chair, so with the help of Emilia and Karen, I bring you, the power of dimensional hair color! 

Emilia's hair color is on the left. It's lovely, exotic and dark, shiny and healthy! I do her color myself, so the last thing I want to do is dog it, BUT, it's the perfect example of hair that's begging for depth. Her bun is lost on the back of her head! (After we shot these photos, she booked an appointment for balayage.) 

Karen's hair was medium brown and virgin before her October 2014 wedding, and I added a soft childlike dimension. Since then she's decided to amp it up even further, and this is her post wedding color with a bit more kick to it. You can undoubtably see the depth of the bun along with the twist and texture, because of the highlights. 

I'm on the right, and obviously there's a whole lotta dimension goin on. Of course you do not need to be blonde for the details of your style to shine through. That said, the more dimension in your color, the more detail in your style. 

If you have any questions on balayage or bridal styles, please hit me up here or leave a comment below! 

XO
AJ
 

A love letter ⌲

Hey girl,

If you’re here right now, you’ve been patient with me as I took a serious break from blogging! You’re here because you’ve been supportive through it all and are still cheering me on. I adore the heck out of you and would love to hug it out. 


I’ve spent a serious amount of time reevaluating what direction I want to take my business in, and didn’t want to prematurely relaunch a business that didn’t completely represent my passions and lifestyle. I’m so happy to say that, I’m BACK, and I’m thrilled to share everything on my mind with you. 


I have so many hair tutorials ready for you to recreate, and product reviews for you to trust. I have random music playlists and DIYs to play with. I have a lot of personal experiences to share, to the point of asking Sammy’s permission before even posting. 

Your Stylist AJ has been the most rewarding adventure I’ve ever been a part of. It has my full attention. My brides, my salon clients, my family who I know is reading this right now, you are the rockstars that have encouraged me to vulnerably share my story, and ultimately, BE MYSELF. 
This website aesthetic isn’t “bridal”. This website has been carefully designed like the gallery wall above my couch or the spare bedroom our friends stay in when they visit. It’s designed to represent who I am entirely, personally and professionally. 

So thanks for coming over! I’ll take your coat. Can I get you a glass of bubbly?


⤜ Love you ⤛

Aj


 

#WelcomeToThePalace

Proposal

“Will you marry me?” Sammy asked with a smile so wide I could see his back teeth. There was no nervousness in him, no indication that it was coming. Just good conversation turned down-on-one-knee. Instantly I was leaning down, grabbing him by the face and planting my M.A.C. Red lips all over his.

You think about the day you’ll find your person, they day you’ll get engaged, the day you’ll get married. You don’t have the slightest idea it’ll be THIS MUCH FUN! That it’ll feel THIS special.

December 11, 2014 was just another Thursday. I threw on black pants and heels that morning and headed to the salon for a ten hour day. We had dinner plans that night that I almost kind of dreaded because frankly I couldn’t wait to get home, throw my hair up in a messy bun, wash my face, and costume change into some Lulu. But we had a commitment, and I wouldn’t bail on my girl.

Lindsey is a creative lover of life whose passion projects from behind the lens. She is a food and lifestyle photographer, but most importantly one of the most amazing people in my life. The week prior, Lindsey asked Sammy and I if we would be a part of one of her restaurant shoots. She said she just needed shots of our hands eating dessert at the end of a Bavette’s dinner. Bavette’s is my favorite restaurant, so of course we were excited to help out.

Sammy met me at the salon and we walked over to dinner together. When we arrived, our favorite hightop in the back corner was reserved. Complete with two glasses of Malbec.

Lindsey came to our table within minutes and explained that we could order whatever we wanted for dinner, and she only needed to shoot the dessert portion. She said she had to go back to the kitchen to shoot some entrees, and that she’d be back once our dessert came out.

Nothing was out of the norm to me. I didn’t question the authenticity of the situation at ALL. Linds and I are always working on projects together, this was no big deal.

Dinner was fantastic. Conversation even better. Simple, normal, “How was your day?” and “Did you see who the Nats traded?”.

After dinner, two tooprettytoeat desserts came out. Followed by Lindsey, ready for the shoot. She arranged the spoons and our hands and took some ariel shots of the food. Signature @eatprayphoto shots.

“Ok guys I’m gonna have you stand in front of the table for a couple shots.”

That was weird, I expected only our hands to be in the shots, but I shook it off.

“Just talk amongst each other.”

I turned to Sammy and said, “Ok, lets pretend like we’re talking.” And he started talking…

“Can’t wait for our trip tomorrow! It’ll be so fun to see your family and let loose for the weekend. But I wouldn’t feel right about going without asking you something first…”

I felt like I stepped into a sauna. Instantly hot all over. I knew.

AND BOOM. Down on one knee. “Will you marry me?”

The restaurant burst into applaud and strangers were recording the moment. I wish I’d have asked them to send it to me! Bavette’s gifted us champagne and I’m pretty sure I drank it in one gulp!

Needless to say there was no dessert shoot, Sammy asked Lindsey to document our proposal at my favorite restaurant. I still can’t believe I had no idea.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there and call our families! I only had one bite of dessert, grabbed my coat and we headed home.

Sammy secretly recorded me calling our families in the taxi home. Watching the video I realize what an absolute spaz I was that night!

We walked into our apartment and I saw balloons and gold rose petals. Then a LOT of champagne, and a huge banner that said #WelcomeToThePalace.

Then two by two, starting with my sister and her boyfriend, some of our closest friends started pouring out of our bedroom. I was still in shock from the proposal, and all I could do was cry to see our friends gathered together to celebrate this new adventure.

Bavette's
Whiskey Gelato
Bavette's Bar and Bouf
Proposal
Proposal
Emerald Cut
Proposal
Proposal
Selfie
Surprise Party
Surprise Party
Guitar

Thank you to everyone who was involved in such a magical night, and to Sammy Palace, for making me feel like the most special girl in the whole entire world.

Love, AJ

Defined Brow Tutorial

Ever feel like instead of looking someone in the eyes, you're looking them in the brows? ME TOO! Brows are back baby, and the more defined, the better. I teamed up with Ulta Beauty to create this tutorial for a clean brow look. Check it out!

STEP 1: Fill in brow with pencil, using short, fine strokes. // Used Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Skinny Brow Pencil in Soft Brown

STEP 2: Dab brush into concealer. Carve out brows by applying concealer above your eyebrow. // Used NYX Cosmetics Concealer In A Jar in Light

STEP 3: Use brush and fingers to blend in concealer. // Used IT Brushes For ULTA Live Beauty Fully Essential Concealer Brush #212 

STEP 4: Work a highlighting pencil lightly into the arch of your brow. Blend as needed, using fingertip.// Used Benefit High Brow

XO AJ

 

Quick Party Curls

I teamed up with ULTA Beauty to create a fast and easy hair tutorial for you!

What you’ll need: Hair elastic Heat protectant Curling wand Hair spray Hair accessory

STEP 1: Start with dry hair.

STEP 2: Gather ponytail at crown at head.

STEP 3: Spray heat protectant on hair.

STEP 4: Wrap one section of hair around the curling wand. Hold for a few seconds and let it fall.

STEP 5: Repeat with three more sections of hair (or more, if you have thicker hair).

STEP 6: Let curls set for 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Let hair down and finger comb curls.

STEP 8: Lock in curls with volumizing hair spray.

XO AJ

Product Spotlight : ORIBE Soft Dry Conditioner

Oribe Dry Conditioner Dry Shampoo? Been there, need that. But Dry Conditioner? That was new news to me!

Allow me to introduce you to my new BFF, Oribe Dry Conditioner. At first thought, it's gimmicky and overpriced, but spray this velvet onto your locks and you'll begin buying this in bulk. This is my hands down favorite product for my dry blonde ends, and a great alternative to greasy Moroccan Oil, (which I'm SO over).

This ultrafine mist applied from midshaft to ends of hair, will leave you smelling delicious and feeling insanely soft. I've been walking around creepily petting my own hair.

Treat yourself! Or gift a gal pal a bottle for Christmas! (Available at Thomas West Salon, and HERE.)

XO AJ

Sleep less, dream more.

beauty blog “AJ where did you go to college?”, Facebook prompts me every few months.

“I didn’t go to college you JERK!”, I angrily think back to my innocent computer.

I’m just so over the idea that college is the only way to success. I’m a little angst-y about it. Obviously.

College was our only option growing up. By sophomore year of high school you had your favorite schools scoped out, at SIXTEEN mind you. By your junior year you’d applied and signed up for all the AP classes you could. By your senior year you were rockin the starchiest, logo-ed, crew neck of your school of choice down the hallways. The hallways that you thought mattered SO much.

Now. Please allow me to make myself clear before you stop reading. I think school is wonderful. College is a magical experience for finding yourself if nothing else. For me though, there was just a VERY different path so clear to me, one that some college students may have envied.

I remember so clearly my peers asking where I had applied and where I’d be living in the fall of 2006. I also remember kind of enjoying their freak-out-faces when I told them I was going to cosmetology school and “not going to college”. America’s Funniest Videos kinda faces. JUDGMENTAL faces.

It wasn’t their fault. We, as a generation, were bred to believe that college, and internships, and grad school, were really the only way. Even the parents of my friends judged me. My teachers judged me. My parents and grandparents were scared for me.

And then I witnessed my parents pressing my little sister more clearly. I think they thought maybe if they had provided me with more direction I wouldn’t make such a mistake. They channeled this learning experience through to my sister. (My sister who now is in grad school with dreams of working for the FBI! —-Who I’m so PROUD of!)

I remember my dad researching the annual income of hairdressers, (this was 2004, and in a small town), and sassily informing me it was $11,000. And I CLEARLY remember sassing back, “Well I’m NOT AVERAGE!”

And I’m not. I am not average. No one who knowingly breaks the mold, is average. No one who follows their dream is average. No one who fights for the anti-cubicle lifestyle, is average.

DO. YOU.

I really don’t care if that’s being a hairdresser. Blogger. Professional baseball player. Firefighter. Rockstar. Moviestar. Model. Actress. Non-profit badass. Start-up badass. Artist.

And maybe YOU is best being a student. FBI agent. Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer.

We’re ALL in this together. The world needs a little of everyone! 

I believe the most important thing is that we all support each other. The way my family came around to support me with an education through Aveda, and a move to Atlanta to work for Aveda’s busiest salon in the world. Followed by moving me home after a lifetime movie breakup, (becuase we all need one of those under our belt to realllllly grow up), and helping me find my balance again.

I believe in you. And ME! US. People doing what we WANT and what makes us happy.

I hope this letter of expression delivers one lesson. YOU might be THAT person, that is unknowingly being rude when you say, “did you go to college”, or, “does it scare you that you don’t have a degree”, or, “do you think you’ll go back to school?”.

DUDE. NO.

Just support me. Tell me you’re happy for me that I’m going against the grain and doing what I love, or frankly, keep it to yo-self!

Follow your dreams. Quit your job. Move to Bali and pursue yoga. I don’t care! Just. Do. YOU. Nothing else counts.

Love, AJ

Photo by my pretty friend Kina Wicks Photography 

Fall Faves

Fall Fall just seems to fly by every year, which is a total shame being that it's my favorite! I find that I shop too much from September to December, I really blame it on the "back to school" mentality that I'll have deep into my 80's.

Hope you love these little luxuries as much as I do!

XO AJ

The best candle EVER.

The best blanket EVER is on sale.

A delicious red blend.

The most comfortable crossover leather jacket I've ever seen and am sooooo happy to own!

Cranberry sneakers to make everyday feel more Friday.

Sweet potato salad. On repeat.

Glitter & Gold every morning.

1989. Also on repeat.

Favorite local sweat.

Velvet hair on tap.

Gearing up for 2015. (I got rose gold!)

Heroine.

Juicing, paleo, and skinny jeans...

Pressed Juicery I'm an all or nothing kinda gal. When it's a Velveeta and Malbec era, it's ugly. When I'm behaving, it's serious workouts and strict diet. I wish I could achieve balance in the health aspect of my life, but I have yet to conquer that. So until that day comes, I'm fine sticking with the ALL IN mentality of my health and fitness.

I've reached a point where my favorite jeans in the world don't fit. We've all been there, but it's never fun and you feel like the only one it's happening to at the time. I refuse to reward my deep dish habits with the next size up of my not-so-cheap premium denim, and make a change.

News flash! Change isn't easy, especially such a drastic change flooded with temptation. I REALLY like food. I also REALLY hate feeling this way about my body. Read: Sluggish. Tired. Uncomfortable. Insecure. Hate my workouts five minutes in. That feeling.

So because I'm all or nothing, I decided to do a 5 day cleanse to really quit the hard stuff cold turkey. Yes, I say that because food is my addiction.

Now, let me be straight with you. A CLEANSE IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS TOOL. It's a healthy "fresh start". A detox, teaching your body to rebalance itself.

I want you to understand that as desperate as I am to lose weight, I did not do this cleanse to lose weight as much as I needed a jolt of new, pure, blank canvas H E A L T H.

We get ONE body folks. If I don't feel sexy as heck at 26, I'm sure doomed for what's to come in 20 years! I'm taking this time to really combine health and fitness as my number one goal. Yes, AJ Schulz just mentioned health and fitness and her number one goal. The same girl who typically works 80 hour weeks, and treats her body like crap to stay dedicated to her career.

I love my job, but it won't be there to hang out with my grandkids when I'm 75. My body needs an overhaul. The Arthritis in my knees takes my breath away. The migraines I get should issued to murderers as punishment. The Sciatic Nerve that kicks in after standing for 12 hours is just mean.

Making my health the priority is surprisingly more mental than physical. Meditation has changed my life this year. Just opening my mind and cherishing each breath, while following the words "I am" with what I want to be, has been beyond impactful.

If you're looking for a reboot, I highly recommend Pressed Juicery. I've done multiple cleanses, some so rancid I couldn't even finish them. I've liked Suja as well, but for $100 in shipping, you've gotta be nuts to order it.

This was my fourth Pressed cleanse, but my first five day cleanse. If you're a first timer, I recommend a three day, "Cleanse 1". I did the five day "Cleanse 3". The juices weren't pink and sugary, we're talkin' green green green juices. If you're not down for some earthy flavor, "Cleanse 3" might not be the best fit for you.

That said, I actually dig "Cleanse 3". Even the greenest juices are smooth and refreshing. I'm never left making a tequila face after drinking them. There are six juices a day, and I drink as much water as I can when I'm not drinking a juice.

So now it's back to paleo! It's amazing how much you cherish lettuce after drinking straight liquids for days.

Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Would you?

XO AJ

October

Hi loves! Oh how I've missed the feeling of keys beneath my fingers. October was AMAZING! I need to tell you all about it! PS HOW is it already November?!

_______________________________________________________________________________ I got my braces off!!!!!! Actually I got them off in September! More on that later, but in the meantime, check it out!

Beauty Blog

SAMMY CAME HOME! Baseball season is officially over, and while that was bittersweet, we were able to make it to Michigan with just hours to spare to be a bridesmaid and Best Man for two of our favorite lovebirds!

Sam Palace

Sammy's parents hosted a fun dinner and bonfire back home and few things make me happier than our moms being buds!

Beauty Blog

Then we had visitors every weekend! My dear friend Megan came to stay with us and work with me for the weekend! I did her color and extensions and am slightly obsessed with how it turned out.

Balayage

The following weekend our sweet friends Abby & Greg came to visit! Love them like fam.

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My baby sister came to town the next weekend!

kayla

Lululemon asked me to come in and style some of their fall pieces as lifestyle wear versus athletic wear! Photos to come this week! (Photo by Eat Pray Photo)

lululemon

Sammy and I did a juice cleanse. Sammy has assured me he'll never be doing that again... I'll be blogging about my experience with juicing later this week!

Pressed Juicery

I worked an emerald filled classic shoot with my faves. More photos to come! (Photo by Emilia Jane Photography)

View More: http://emiliajane.pass.us/chm-shoot

Have an amazing week!!

XO AJ

True Grit GIVEAWAY!

True Grit Fall has officially arrived, and what better to tackle it than in style? Today I'm giving away my favorite fall piece from True Grit!

This hooded jacket is softer than literally anything you've ever felt, and looks just as cute on! It's tough for me not to keep this one for myself.

Retailing at $140, this bad boy could be yours! To enter, just @YourStylistAJ on instagram and leave a comment below this post with what your favorite thing about fall is! Mine is definitely new layers of cozy, and grande non-fat lattes at 130 degrees. Yes. (Entries must be in by Tuesday 9am CT) 

Good luck!

XO AJ

This post is sponsored by True Grit, but it's still softer than anything you've ever felt. ever. 

Women's True Grit

26.

Your Stylist AJ I turned 26 last week. Happy New Year to me!

I really wanted to take the time to document the key memories of 25, as well as set some New Year's Resolutions for 26.

25 taught me that the plans you make when you're 15, or even 20, don't count at all. That the ideas of being a young mother, like your own, and having two kids by 26, are just ideas. That your path is ever-changing and life shouldn't be such an over-analyzed plan.

25 was physically brutal. I gained 35 pounds. 25 was an entire year of my life without wearing jeans even one time, because none of them fit.

25 was full of 80 hour weeks that put strain on my knees causing me to wake up in tears. 25 flew by because I worked too much, and didn't make time for myself. My health got pushed to the back burner. I just did what I needed to do to get through each long day, whether that was "hold it" instead of taking a bathroom break, or scarf down a carby sandwich bc I only had two minutes to eat during a shampoo.

25 was full of proud moments, as Sammy made it to the big leagues, I made it into the top ten beauty bloggers in the eyes of Allure magazine, and I booked TWICE as many weddings as I did when I was 24.

25 was a year of goodbyes to toxic friendships, and open doors to new, healthy and fulfilling ones.

25 was full of honesty, and family growth.

25 was when I found meditation, and it changed my life.

25 included getting braces on, and getting braces off.

25 put life into perspective to be honest. I learned so many lessons that I am eager to implement into 26. This time of reflection is necessary, and I'm not embarrassed about 25, or even gaining 35 pounds. I'm instead motivated and ready for my new year. Ready for change.

26 is sobrandnew. It scares and excites me.

26 will be about reading and writing more.

26 has been full of sweat, vegetables, steak, organization and too much champagne so far.

26 will be normal, 40 hour work weeks. With breaks.

26 is dedicated to finding and maintaing balance.

26 is dedicated to my health and fitness more than my business.

26 will be full of the most beautiful brides that are crazy in love.

26 will be a time for my relationship with Sammy to become even stronger, for us to spend more time together, for the distance to become smaller.

26 is up to me, and I'm up for the challenge.

XO AJ

 

Paleo Pancakes!

Paleo Pancakes Happy Friday! I hope you have exciting weekend plans! If you don't already, now you do. Enter: Paleo Pancakes.

Whether you're paleo, gluten free, vegetarian or whatever, these pancakes will fit into your healthy lifestyle wonderfully. I swear I would choose these of regular pancakes any day. They're more moist than most pancakes, flip easier, store well and fill me up! This recipe will make enough for 4 people, or 3 really really hungry people. I shared with my next door neighbor, and froze the rest.

ingredients-2

Begin by adding all six eggs, three bananas, and 1/2 cup of coconut flour to your blender. (If you are ready to up your blender game, this guy will change your life.) You can also add a spoonful of almond butter if you're into almond butter. Who isn't into almond butter?

Once the batter is blended smooth, heat a skillet with medium heat. Brush on some coconut oil, and get to pouring! I let these hang out for about two minutes on each side. Slow and steady wins the race, if your cakes are above golden brown, turn down the heat.

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Let me know if you try them and love them!

XO AJ