Life

#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

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

 

Life Update and WWW Findings

Your Stylist AJ Lately has been crazy! I've been traveling for weddings and Sammytime, slammed at the salon, and have had two weddings almost every weekend! I'm SO happy because Sammy's in town for a few days for the Nationals @ Cubs series, and I have two beauuuutiful brides this weekend. Life is good.

I've had braces for about a month now, which you've spotted if you follow me on Instagram. It has been a challenge feeling hot, eating, talking, kissing... basically I'm being an even bigger diva about them than I thought possible. But it'll be worth it right?

How is the 4th of July already next week? I can't wait for some family time at our lake house in Northern Michigan! Sunblock, ice cream, long walks, chats with Grandpa, snuggles with Grandma. Yes.

This looks like an amazing experience.

This is seriously me before I knock on a bride's hotel room door.

A sweet cuff for you or a friend.

LOVE this cover.

Literally shaking my head.

We should try this!

Brilliant.

I finally bought this bathing suit!

My face when someone I follow pins a REAL ugly updo.

The temp tats you need for summer!

The perfect from day to night lip creation!

So pretty. Must try.

XO AJ

 

The power of a noun.

AJ Schulz // Your Stylist AJ I’ll never forget sitting in Mrs. Metzger’s 8th grade English class that day.

“What are you waiting for? I said go! My goodness this generation is slow. Get up to that board!”

Just moments before, we were asked to choose a word that described ourselves. We all popped right up after Mrs. Metger’s scolding demand, and took turns writing our word, and passing the torch.

Once settled back in our seats, the world’s longest acrylic nail tapped on the side of the world’s thickest glasses while studying our words. “Whoooo chose passionate?” she howled.

I was so proud. I knew it was a good one! I knew mine was the best! I’m a Stroud, passion is in our blood. “I did.” I admitted.

“You better keep that passion above the belt missy.” She successfully embarrassed me as the rest of the glass giggled.

I was so upset. Did she REALLY think I was getting frisky with my pre braces expander leaving a ginormous gap in my teeth, the fact that I was wearing a bra I didn’t need, let alone rocking a unibrow. C’mon. My word was perfect! I was passionate.

I don’t remember what the rest of that lesson was, but I give Mrs. Metzger an F.

This story isn’t supposed to spotlight middle school hussies or bad teachers, but that as far back as I can remember, I’ve believed in my passions, and followed them. I’ve failed. A LOT. I’ve learned so much more.

I’m tired and happy. Scared and excited. Undoubtably passionate.

I was eliminated this morning in the fourth round of the Allure Beauty Blogger Awards. I’m OK! I’m maybe even slightly relieved. I’m fine with it because it lit a fire in me just like Mrs. Metzger. It motivated me in ways I didn’t know I had! It pushed me to do things like get in front of a video camera, add even moooore to my plate, allow myself to be judged and voted for or against, and actually compete FOR my passions.

I’m not left with an award, but I’m so proud of myself. I made it to the top 10 Beauty Bloggers in the nation in the eyes of the respectable Allure Magazine! My 13 year old self would be so proud, and more importantly, my 25 year old self is pretty damn proud too.

Learn through your failures, they teach you more than your successes.

Your Stylist, AJ

Photo by Kina Wicks XO

Seeking Balance

Madewell Tote, Fresh tulips, and black heels "I know you can be overwhelmed, and  you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be.... whelmed?" -10 Things I Hate About You

Do you remember that silly comment from such a classic movie?

I want to be whelmed. I'm an extremist, and labeled as dramatic by my friends and family often. Everything always seems to be the best ever or the worst ever. I'm typically under impressed or raving about an experience. Nothing is ever just fine. What I'm really saying is, I lack balance, but strive for it constantly.

I started a pen and paper list last week of general goals to help achieve balance. This is my list, but maybe it will help you make your list. We're all so great at setting new goals when newness comes. New year, new job, new home, new relationship... but we don't need to rely on change to create change. 

Who's with me?

GOALS

READ MORE. I often let my mind believe I have writer's block. Really I think I'm just tired and after a 12 hour day can't creatively write for the blog. I'm determined to read more. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten was, "If you want to be a better writer, be a better reader."

SAVE MONEY. I'm fairly good at this already, but I'm better at spending it. I set a new goal for my savings account, and it's important. We're adults. We can LIVE, but we can also be well prepared for LIFE.

EAT CLEAN. I have such a love/ hate relationship with food. I'm sure it's something I'll forever struggle with. Clean food makes me happier than junk food, once I've established routine. I need balance here more than anywhere in my life. That doesn't mean a kale smoothie followed by Ben & Jerry's. The two don't cancel each other out, (but trust me I've tried believing that).

WAKE UP EARLIER. I'm a natural night owl. The problem is, after working all day, I still have a blog, emails, and life waiting for me. Those things only get 50% of my energy after a long day. I need to be most productive in the morning, so I need to have a bedtime, and a wakeup time, both setting me up for success.

MEDITATE. We're all so busy. The little time that we aren't busy doing something, we're caught phone in hand, Breaking Bad on, and thoughts on steroids. I'm really dedicated to working on meditating regularly.

VISIT GRANDMA. Family is so important, and I come from a damn good one. Living away from literally everyone I love isn't easy, and it's important to make time for family. Laughing is medicine, and my family makes me laugh until I cry. I'm actually laughing out loud thinking about them.

SWEAT 5x A WEEK. I'm so guilty of the "I don't have time" excuse. My body is too important to not make time for. I'm more motivated now than EVER. PS. If any of you wanna work out together I'm always down!

PAY IT FORWARD. If you can afford Starbucks, you can afford to hand the cashier a $10 bill, pay for the person behind you, and leave the rest for a tip. You might just make someone's day. But paying it forward isn't always in the form of payment. I challenge all of us to find little ways to pay it forward, and make someone smile when the need it. We're all in this together.

SCHEDULE DOWN TIME. I work in my down time, I don't take days off, I email from bed when I should be sleeping, and I sometimes feel like time is passing me by. Starting this week, I worked in a little bit of down time. Me time. Without down time, many of the other things on this list aren't possible. Consider it recovery time : )

SHOW THANKS. "Thank you" is one of the most powerful phrases for me to hear. I assume that means it's as nice for others to hear it. Saying "Thank you." and SHOWING "Thank you." are two very different things. I think we can all work a little harder to show how much we appreciate the people in our lives and the strangers that we meet.

XO AJ

The ADORABLE bag above is available here! 

 

I Declare a Snow Day

It's March 25, and I just opened the curtains... to find yet another layer of the fluffy white   wet and cold stuff. I've had a crazy work load, brewing up an exciting project- (coming to you April 9!), and I'm declaring today a snow day! snow day

I've made some tea and a fire, and spent the early morning on Pinterest. I'm dreaming of Spring and have faith that it's JUST about to make it's debut!

I'm psyched that opening day is days away! What are you most excited about for the break in weather?

XO AJ

 

Women Who Rock // Lauren Ferris

I'm so honored to introduce you to my soul sister, Lauren. This chick is hands down THE strongest, most independant woman I know. That's a BIG statement. I dare anyone to tell her she can't do something.

This amazing mother, talented hairdresser, blogger and bombshell inspires me daily, so I just have to share her with the world. I love you Lauren.

XO AJ

______________________________

lauren

Name: Lauren Ferris

Occupation: Hairstylist & Blogger at A Glass of Sun Tea

Passions: Parenting, painting, thrifting, decorating, renovating, up-cycling and writing.

Inspired by: Music, TED talks

Success means: To me, success has absolutely nothing to do with money. It is not measured by income. I guess I would say that success, to me, can be measured by the quality of life you've made for yourself. There are 168 hours in one week. 40(ish) of them are what most of us spend at work, sometimes far less and sometimes double that. Regardless of the time spent or the money earned, a successful person will be able to go home and live their actual life, emphasis on NOT their work life, to the fullest. Happily, eagerly, energetically, optimistically live their life. I suppose you could sum it up to say that success to me is the capability and willingness to happily and freely build your own person outside of your 40hr a week money maker. To rest your head on your pillow at night with a fulfilled heart and a smile on your face.

Something you're proud of: My darling little boy, our home, myself! woopwoop

A piece of advice: Don't take a single moment for granted. This life, challenging, scary, sad, lonely, cruel as it may be, is a blessing. Make your moments count.

Favorite quote: "The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them."

Photo by Eat Pomegranate Photography 

Adios February

Sometimes life runs according to plan, and sometimes is doesn't at all. My February was full of surprises. FEB RECAP:

Travel hair I drove down to Florida with Sammy for Spring Training. Hard to believe it's Spring Training when Chicago is getting lambasted with snow right now.

Union Hotel

We stopped in Nashville along the way for a night of live music and authentic BBQ. We stayed at the Union Hotel which I HIGHLY recommend.

FLA

Florida was magic. I ate at my same favorite restaurant like four times in a matter of days.

vegas

I was back in Chicago for less than a week, but worked two full work weeks in that time. Then, it was off to Vegas for the Project & Magic apparel shows for Bonnie & Clyde. We wrote some fresh new lines, attended seminars, and even had a second to dip our toes in the pool. All good "I miss Sammy" distractions.

kina

While I was out west Kina took some photos of me in the desert! We had too much fun hiking in heels and singing Sara Bareilles as the sun set. Love that girl.

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As soon as I got back I spent two days revving up the courage to apply for the Allure Magazine Beauty Blogger competition. Part of the submission asks for a video, so I finally worked up the courage to post a video tutorial after two years of terrifying anticipation.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.51.13 AM

The NEXT day I got a call from Goody. They had just seen my video and were interested in shooting tutorials with me in NYC for the weekend. So I refilled my suitcase for the third time in three weeks and headed to the airport with my gorgeous and talented friend Lindsey for the weekend. Friday was a long day of consulting and test shooting, and then yesterday during the awards we recreated looks we saw the celebs rocking and released them right away. You can view them all HERE.

happybones

As soon as I was done, I learned my flight for this morning was actually cancelled. I've spent a combined four hours on hold and still won't be getting into Chicago before 9pm. So, I'll make the best of it with amazing coffee and even more amazing spoons. (Photo by #EATPRAYPHOTO)

THINGS I LEARNED THIS MONTH:

Ask and you shall receive.

Put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose. Really.

Friendship is weird. In a good way.

NYC has the best latte I've ever had. If you visit check out Happy Bones.

The camera adds ten pounds but I clearly have more than that to lose. Back on the paleo grind effective immediately, but more importantly, excited to get serious about working out. I'm craving that healthy routine and feeling really good and light. Who wants to go to yoga and Flywheel with me this week?

I appreciate Chicago.

My family is pretty awesome. They acted like I was actually a celebrity instead of just mimicking celeb hair.

I'm continuously blown away by Sammy. I have learned so much about life and hard work from that man. So proud of him.

How was your February? Cheers to March!

XO AJ

The Evolution of Friendship

The Evolution of Friendship I talk a lot about beauty, but today I care less about what's on the outside, because what's on the inside is a helluva lot more important.

No one prepared me for the fact that most of the time women grow in and out of friendships, or that losing your best friend feels a lot like divorce. Who gets to keep the kids mutual friends?!

I've never been the kind of girl who had a posse of girlfriends beside her. I've always had my couple of close friends and everyone else was an acquaintance. I didn't think I needed anyone else, my best friend was basically my family, and I knew I'd have her in my life forever. I was so wrong.

As an adult woman, in a totally healthy exciting relationship with my guy, I still feel heartbreak over the female friendships that have faded throughout my life.

Recently I started feeling super down about humanity and girls being total brats in general, but then an amazing shift occurred. It's like what I went through, was a sort of layer shedding, so that I could start fresh with quality people who genuinely care, have common interests, and are as selfless as I find myself.

When Sammy left for Spring Training, my phone was off the hook with "acquaintances" offering to host girl's night in or put a dinner date on the calendar. I have one friend who's New Year Resolution was to schedule active dates instead of dinner dates- genius. I had a client bring me flowers for Valentine's Day, and another baking me treats, both knowing Sammy and I wouldn't be together. I'm super sick, and a new friend showed up at my apartment this morning with a bunch of "get well" supplies. Another friend dropped everything to come over and film a video tutorial for me, something I've been putting off for two years.

I'm blown away by humanity. Some people suck, but just when you think you have it all figured out, you usually learn you don't at all. Life is such a constant lesson. We're always changing and evolving, and friendships will too.

Always be kind. Always treat people the way you would like to be treated. Be the kind of friend you want to have. Be willing to let friendships go that don't provide you with compassion and love, but work on the ones that do. 

XO AJ

Photo of my sweet mom and I, because she's stuck with me ; )

The Best Advice I've Ever Gotten

Emilia Jane Photography If you know me, you know I take on a lot. I work double work weeks and have my hands in a lot of hot pots!

I work full time at Thomas West, work weddings on the weekends, blog in between, buy apparel for Bonnie & Clyde, and date long distance. I give 100% of my time and attention to my career, because I want to.

I started getting some grief from clients about being too booked and chatted about it here, but it's only gotten worse. And by that I mean better! I have a 4-5 week waiting list, which means I'm doing something right, but clients can sometimes be frustrated that I'm not available.

So when I want to travel, to do something for me, or my relationship, I feel beyond guilty. I feel like maybe I shouldn't be posting pictures of a sandy beach when I know clients are waiting to get their color touched up. In my mind, I work double time to be able to do those things, but I fear that clients following on Instagram or the blog won't understand both sides.

I wasn't going to come down to Spring Training with Sammy this year. This will be our fifth baseball season together, and I almost didn't take the 22 hour road trip down with him. I thought it might look bad.

Until one friend gave me the best advice I've ever gotten.

You must invest in yourself and your relationship as much as you do your business. 

Duh. Why didn't I think of that? I'm so thankful for that advice. An important reminder I really needed to hear.

So here I am. Blogging from Florida while Sammy's at the field. We have two more days together until weeks will pass with only the phone and iChat to feel connected. And then, in about five weeks, I'll probably be traveling again. Only this time, I won't feel guilty. I work my butt off to be able to travel. I'm 25, madly in love, LOVE what I do, and love to be stimulated by variety and adventure. It's healthy, and I have balance.

My career will always be my focus. It's what I live for. That being said, my personal life deserves just as much dedication and attention. Yours does too.

XO AJ

photo by Emilia Jane Photography

 

January on Paper

It is already January 13th. Sammy leaves for Spring Training on February 2nd. You do the math. This time of year is so confusing. I am thrilled that it's a new year, with business on the agenda, but I'm also sad that Sammy is about to leave, but I'm also so excited to road trip to Florida with him. Basically my brain is tired. It's so bittersweet.

I'm trying to jam so much into the next three weeks with my love. Early mornings making breakfast together, and late nights at our favorite restaurants. Guitar lessons and rom coms. Him making me laugh until I cry and and also crying that he's leaving.

Meanwhile I have lots of lady dates with some amazing women on the calendar, three weddings this month, and full books at the salon!

So January, which is typically the slowest month of the year for my industry, is anything but!

I leave you with this Trevor Hall song, which has become my anthem for our relationship, and my love for Sammy.

XO AJ

Rombello!

Sammy and I are still completely blown away by our Rombello experience. It was absolutely necessary that I unplug from the world for four whole days. The music was incredible, we were in great company, and we got a taste of some nicer weather! If you're a music lover like us, we highly recommend checking out Sixthman music cruises!

belloWe danced. So much. // We were in awe of the performances and small intimate venues!

artists

We spent the trip hanging out with our favorite musicians. Getting to know them personally and snap some pics made the trip for me!

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Having a couple you love enough to travel with is pretty amazing.

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I did yoga with some of my favorite artists. On stage. Like a boss.

musicI obviously had the time of my life.

loveWith the love of my life!

I had some anxiety at first about taking off a day at the salon and turning down weddings to take this trip. I have no regrets. As cliche as it is, life is too short, and I deserve time for me, and my relationship. Whatever you're doing with your life, I hope that you take out your calendar and look at the dates you could reward yourself with a break. It's important. Mandatory even.

XO AJ

Pillow Talk

Looking for an inexpensive way to refresh your home? I recently purchased some pillows and pillow covers from Society 6, and a month later I'm still totally in love. Every time I walk by our couch, I'm happy to see what we've done with it. I was apprehensive at first, the price point was almost too good to be true. I'm pleasantly surprised with our new pillows, and highly recommend them! PS. They make great gifts too!

pillows

Check out the hundreds of options here!

XO AJ

 

ROMBELLO

I've never unplugged, and for the next 5 days, I will be unreachable. I'm not sure if the feeling I have is excitement or anxiety.

Sammy and I are about to leave for ROMBELLO! The trip we booked so many months ago, is finally here. Rombello is a music festival, on a cruise, traveling to the Bahamas and back to Miami. We couldn't be more excited, and I couldn't have packed more than I did.

I've worked tons of extra hours leading up to this, and now, I leave you to go drink slushy beverages with little umbrellas on the beach, I hope you can forgive me.

I'll be instagramming waytoomuch until I loose complete service, but will blog tons of deets and photos next week!

Chat soon!

XO AJ

PS. I'm only missing one day at the salon so please don't be too mad at me. PSS. If you need a spray tan I now swear by Benefit. Holy crap!

Bookshelf to Bar

For years I admired the tall storage piece that displayed jewelry in our boutique. I was annoying about it, and was vocal that I wanted it to be mine someday. When I got my first big girl apartment, my mom agreed to give it to me!

In my last three apartments I used it as a bookshelf. It was cute, served it's purpose, I think at one point I was storing vases on top and taxes in the drawers...

When we moved into our new apartment this year, I really REALLY wanted a bar cart. You know the ones. Gold. Wheels. Fancy.

There just wasn't an appropriate spot for a bar cart, mostly because my bookshelf fit perfectly in the nook where a bar cart would potentially live. SO. We made our bookshelf into a bar. Priorities.

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shelves

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What do you think? Wanna come over for a drink?

XO AJ

 

Little Miss Not Perfect

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 2.13.30 PM Ruts come disguised in many costumes. Relationships have them, as do jobs, health, environment… we’re all able to relate to them. You might even be in one right now.

All my life, I’ve loved writing. It was the only thing I was passionate about as a student, and definitely the only reason I graduated. What I didn’t realize, was that writing always got me through the funks, that is, until I stopped.

I’ve always written. Before I started a blog, I wrote just for me. Not really a “Dear Diary” situation, but still a sort of venting and documenting while creatively expressing my thoughts. When I started the blog, I continued to spend the same amount of time on writing, but none of that time was spent in a Mead notebook anymore.

The problem then became trying to find balance. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting too personal on the blog, but also, wanted to share myself.  I write about what’s on my mind, so if that’s Shampoo, so be it, but if it’s the struggles of a long distance relationship, well that’s what comes out too.

Lately, I’ve been in a funk, and I thank goodness, it’s on it’s way out. The thing is, I wanted to blog through it, but didn’t want to write a negative post about being in a rut… how uplifting?? But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it’s absolutely important to click Publish on the chaos we all brew over, and not just things held in place with hairspray.

Your Stylist AJ isn’t a tutorial hub, a resource for an outfit-post-a-day, (though more of those things are on the way), and doesn’t follow any set of rules or guidelines. Your Stylist AJ is me. It’s everything on my mind.

XO AJ

photo by Emilia Jane

Growing Pains

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 9.42.30 PM Many of my clients have been with me for years, a handful fly in from other time zones, or drive from two states away. Most of my clients have become my closest friends. I've been with a few from their first date to their wedding day. I've been trusted to listen to their most personal stories, and some of them have listened to mine.

I've been struggling with the best problem an independent gal can have, being too busy. But while this is a "good problem" to have, it's still an issue.

When I started at Thomas West Salon, I was working six days a week, and passing out free haircut cards to get busy. Fast forward almost four years, and I'm down to three days a week, while owning a bridal business, maintaining a pulse on this blog, and fulfilling my role in our family business. It's a lot, and I LOVE the juggling act, but I also understand how that affects my salon clients.

Thank you so so much to my loyal regular clients who have stuck by me even though my schedule is harder to get into. I love and appreciate every single one of our visits together! I am not naive to the fact that it was once easy to get in with me the same day, and now you're asking to be "squeezed in" sometime in the next two weeks. Thank you to those who are understanding, and proud of me.

To those who are frustrated with my schedule and not being able to get in right away, please remember that I am a person. A super hard working girl who does what I do because I adore it. If you can't get in with me TODAY, please recognize that as a good thing. If I was still that available after years of building a clientele, it would speak volumes of my talent. I do the best I can to accommodate everyone, and will continue to come in early and stay late when necessary.

Thank you x10

XO AJ

photo by Emilia Jane

happy weekend Ahhh the magical feeling of Friday!

What do you guys have for this weekend? I have a wedding but will also be working in the salon much of the day tomorrow. Tomorrow's lovely bride is going for some bohemian half-up hair and I couldn't be more excited! Sunday I have an engagement session with one classy  bride-to-be. I plan to fit in a couple workouts, and squeeze in some beach time, (AKA me time).

Whatever you plan to do, drink lots of water, and don't forget the sunscreen!

A little WWW love before I go...

Thankful lulu "made to much"

One of each please!

Saving for one of these guys

Inspiration station

You have one shot at protecting your skin, make it organic!

See ya Monday : )

XO AJ

 

Green City Market

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kale bag

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We chat a lot about beauty around here, but not all beauty is a polish or a face mask. Beauty begins with what you put into your body!

It's no secret I think Chicago is the best city on the planet, or that I'm dramatic I guess.

Green City Market is the Lincoln Park farmer's market that takes place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings this time of year. I can't make it every week, but I REALLY try.

I'm 100% about supporting local, eating Paleo, spending time outside, going for long walks, waking up early, and being involved in the community... the farmer's market allows me to do all of these feel good things!

In all the cities I've lived in, my favorite part is walking outside and immediately feeling I'm a part of something huge. The city offers so much energy, and I feed off of it everyday. Farmer's markets are NOT limited to cities, I just love that both are combined in my neighborhood.

Wherever you live, I encourage you to shop local, clean, family farmed goods. I like my veggies dusted in dirt, not pesticides.

This food is so absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Carrots or candy? I'm really not sure.

Who's comin' with me?

XO AJ

Thank you to the talented Emilia Jane for making models out of produce, and sharing girl talk over raspberries.

 

One Day at a Time

tooth  

By now you know Sammy and I are in a long distance relationship. What many of you don't know is why..

Sammy is a professional baseball player in the minor leagues with the Washington Nationals organization. Sucha mouthful. 

When we met, I knew NOTHING about baseball. I didn't know the difference between a ball and a strike, I assumed the Washington Nationals were in Washington state, and when Sammy said he was a catcher, I pictured him in the outfield trying to catch the balls guys hit. Told you, I knew NOTHING about baseball.

Sammy played guitar, and that was cool enough to me, the baseball thing didn't get much of my attention... until he left.

We lived in the same area and dated for only two months before the long distance life kicked in. I came to Chicago, and Sammy headed to Florida. He's lived all over the country the past four years, and we live together in the offseason, for four short months out of the year. As awful as it sounds, we make it work, and it's pretty freaking awesome.

During baseball season, I travel to see him, and he's never been able to come home and see me during those 8 months he's away. This year, we had a flight booked for him to come home this week for three days. I've probably never been more excited for anything. He's never experienced Chicago in the summer, he hasn't even been to our new apartment yet, (we moved March 1st- he left for Spring Training February 1), and three days of no baseball sounds like a dream for this girl.

Days before his trip, I was finishing up our apartment, hanging gallery walls, buying new towels and stocking the fridge. I was out for margaritas with some girlfriends when I got a rough phone call, "I have to tell you the hardest thing I've had to tell you yet..."

Now, baseball life isn't easy. The minor leagues aren't exactly glamorous. We've been through a LOT. So those words, mean business, and I immediately feared the worst.

Sammy explained he'd have to play for another team within the organization temporarily, as they were making lots of moves, and he wouldn't be able to come home. As brutal as that is, it could be worse, way worse, so we tried to find the silver linings.

We're really great at keeping each other positive, and are both super determined people. Sammy embraced the opportunity the best he could, and I was proud of his determination.

Two days later I got a crazy phone call. Sammy's team, the Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A Affiliate for the Nationals, collected money to fly me out to instead go see Sammy. Humanity sometimes leaves me speechless.

So that's why I didn't blog the last couple days. I was busy being serenaded, laying at the pool, going on donut dates and being the proudest girl at the ball park. I got to watch as Sammy offensively went 2-4, with 3 RBIs and called a game in which Pedro Encarnacion went 6 innings only giving up 2 hits and 1 run while recording 8 k's and 0 walks!

Thank you to the Chiefs, for giving us a few days together, they go a LONG way, and mean so much.

XO AJ