Life

‘Tis the Season to Gift…Stylishly

‘Tis the season to shop…for others!  Every major retail site is oozing with gift guides to lead you along the path to great purchases.  And then there’s the blogger crowd…these fashionable elves have been whipping out endless guides geared for everyone from your bestie and boo, to your dog walker.  And so I felt if I failed to publish anything on the subject matter, my blogger street cred would crumble to pieces. Let the fun begin!

Instead of sharing all the beautiful gifts carried at large department stores (you can check those out anytime), I am sharing my favorite local boutiques to shop, and giving you a glimpse of my gift picks this year.  I get my love of a solid theme from the queen bee of themes herself, my mother.  This first gift is sure to put a smile on any beauty loving girly girl in your life.  Darling rose all day coffee table style book, equally darling drink pink book, rose flavored gummy bears that taste legit like delicious rose, indulgent rose beauty products, a rose candle, and your favorite bottle of rose. All those treasures are linked with online sources, however I recommend my Chicago ladies head to local gift shop paradise, Bow&Arrow Collection. I could seriously live in this store.  Gifts galore for all the ladies in your life (even that friend who has everything), as well as slick finds for men, party goods, and the cutest cards in town.

Art Effect is a Lincoln Park gift shop dream.  Their eclectic collection ranges from silly gag gifts, great kitchen and home goods, designer jewelry, fun finds for children, and so much more.  One of those shops I never leave empty handed!

Alice and Wonder is a local gem that offers contemporary clothing for women at great prices, as well as fun gifts and home accents.  If you are a local Chicagoan I can’t recommend popping by this Instagram friendly spot enough. If you are not local, they offer all their goodies online! Here’s a few favorites I couldn’t resist.  How about those ornaments? Swoon!

Lastly…what’s a great gift if its not adorably wrapped?  This year I decided to step up my game by wrapping all my goodies in coordinating boxes by SugarPaper from trusty Target.  I love how pretty and clean the white and gold looks.  For those odd shaped gifts that make more sense to wrap, I recommend using coordinating paper.  Sugar Paper has beautiful matching tissue paper, gift tags, and gift bags. The coordinating cuteness is irresistible!

Other favorite places of mine to shop for gifts include:

Mulberry and MePerfect for ladies who appreciate the beauty of nice things. Beanies, sweaters, jewelry, and more…not one item in this shop is less than lovely. My favorite local boutique is also available to shop online. My pick of the year…Jenny Bird earrings. My ears are so sensitive I stopped wearing earrings for years until I discovered these.  Lightweight and amazing quality.

Sephora and Ulta~The ultimate beauty destinations are on fire right now. The best value gift sets of the year. For you mask-a-holic/skin care obsessed gals I recommend this set and this set!

Urban Outfitters~ Great for dudes…records, band tees, funky socks, etc.  Unique beauty products and fun accessories for the ladies.

Anthropologie~ Excellent kitchen and home goods for Moms/Aunts/any lady who appreciates lovely things. I once gifted my mom an Anthro dishtowel and she claimed it to be the best dishtowel she had ever had…and I’m guessing there have been many;) Also pretty jewelry, luxury pajamas, and great bath and beauty products.

Shopbop/East Dane– Stylish pieces for the fashion forward women and men on your list.

Planet Blue– One of my favorite places to shop for boho chic women’s clothing now offers men’s styles as well! The ultimate California cool threads for your beach loving buddies.

I hope y’all’s holiday season is off to a lovely start!  Get to that shopping sooner than later…it would be a tragedy to be rushed and not have time to wrap it up in style.  Crank up the Mariah Carey Christmas beats and feel the love!

XOXO,

Julz Chez

 

Fashion, Life

Support your local girl gang

When I entered the bloggersphere a couple years ago, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into.  I remember saying to my hubs; “There aren’t many Chicago bloggers…the big dogs are mostly in Cali and NY.” HA! Little me had oh so much to learn. I quickly discovered there are loads of Chi-town blogger bees. Navigating the obstacles of networking and social media in a big city is way scary.  I’ve had the good fortune of becoming great buddies with many fabulously inspiring women to help make the learning process FUN!  Today I’m sharing those babes and their blogs with y’all.

Babe number one is Marlena Begier, the beauty behind  Style your Passion.  We started our blogs around the same time, and refer to ourselves as Blog Wives:)  Marlena is confident, kind, and always keeps it real.

Next up we have digital dolls Caitlin (blondie) and Dani (brunette), the sparkly duo behind  Once Upon a Dollhouse. I was lucky enough to be seated next to these human unicorns at an event last year, and we became fast friends.  They have taught me to always enjoy the art of playing dress up, and that you are never too old to rock a bow, or to coordinate outfits with your best friend. Here they are sporting my husband’s band tees at a makeup party I hosted…genius.  Their glittery personalities are also crazy hard working, and they have turned their blog into a full time career. Goals!

Caroline Taft (brunette beauty far right) is the creator of her fantastic food blog, The Brazen Gourmand.  Caroline is a fascinating gal…she is a U.S. Army Reserves Intelligence Officer, Military graduate, photographer, and blogger!  I was tagged by her in photos from an event she hosted on Facebook, and my mom could not get over how gorgeous her food shots were.  Visit Caroline’s blog for great food inspiration!

Meet Lauren, the bombshell behind her style blog Big Blonde Hair.  Her tagline is, “just a ma’ trying to look like the nanny.” So good. Lauren specializes in celebrity styles and the chicest children’s clothing and decor.  She is also sugary sweet and down to earth.

The way I am looking at this next beauty sums up how I feel about her.  Meet Christine, the creator of Rescue in Style.  Her site is dedicated to spreading awareness of animals looking for homes.  She showcases the animals while rocking great classic styles, making rescuing more fashionable than ever. Genius!

When I first launched my blog I made a rookie mistake…asking a big shot blogger to coffee.  The big dogs are beyond busy AND my gal is also a mommy of two littles. Oops!  Lucky for me, Jen Worman of the glamorous style blog Red Soles and Red Wine, kindly accepted my invite and we have been friends ever since.  In addition to her blog, Jen and her sister share a clothing and accessory line T&J designs.  This girl defines the trendy title “Girl Boss!”

Before I met my newest great blog buddy Ami IRL (in real life:), I was intimidated by her ultra grungy, cool girl vibes.  Turns out she is sweet as can be, and we became instant friends.  This small-town gal, turned Chicago fashionista, has been in the Army for 9 years! Visit her blog Klinkerbell for endless inspiration.

Go ahead and let a big shot blogger (or whatever your field may be) know you love their work….don’t just fangirl from afar. Share the love!  Treat others how you want to be treated. What goes around comes around! I could go on and on sharing great bloggers, so I will cut myself off here.

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Fashion, Fitness, Life

Blogversary #2…Stilettos & Sweatpants Style

Happy Blogversary XOXO!  I can’t promise blogversary is a real word…but in the bloggy world it indeed is. XOXOJulzChez has been on tap for 2 full years (plus a few weeks but who’s really keeping track …besides maybe my Dad).  Typically when a blogger’s Blogversary rolls around, girlfriend jumps on the opportunity to break out an extravagant outfit, grabs jumbo balloons as a prop, and rocks out a super special photo shoot. Last year I shamelessly had my XOXO balloons ordered weeks in advance prepping for the big day.  This year I decided to keep it real and do what I like to think I do best…stylish activewear cute enough to also call streetwear. This first outfit is from a new San Francisco based company called KORE collective, where every piece is hand selected by style and fitness expert Kelly Sterling.  There are sooo many options for activewear out there, a site offering select fantastic pieces picked out by a pro makes shopping easy AND successful!  I love everything currently offered on their website, and the models provide awesome styling inspiration.  Janessa Leone hat, Tamara Mellon heels.

In honor of the big blogversary, I have to give a shout out to my fabulous (unpaid) “staff.”  Behind every blogger is a team of lucky folks who that blogger drives insane, but for whatever reason they roll with it.  In no specific order…thank you to my fantastic team:

~Blackie Eugene Chez~ my perfectly overweight cat, who always keeps me company by laying his large body across my lap and my computer while I blog. I couldn’t do it without you Chunky!

~Olivia Szwarc– my great gal pal, and the official XOXO photographer.  She is expecting a baby boy this November, and continues to happily snap ridiculous photos of me AND lets me strip down and change outfits in her car.  Talk about a stellar friend!

~My Mommy– a selfless woman who fills her days by helping others..she will stop whatever she’s doing when I text her, “new post alert Ma!”….and will quickly email me her suggested edits. Sometimes I get weirded out reading blogs with grammatical errors and then I remind myself…not everyone is so lucky to have an Editor Mommy.

~My Hubs~ my man is my number one fan.  He’s been known to shamelessly take my picture in the street on Saturday mornings when I’m dolled up for an event, and he’s still in his robe.  He’s also been known to not only drive me to a bloggy event early on a Saturday morning, but also to pick up multiple blogger buddies of mine, wearing a chauffeur’s hat, AND get out to open the door for the ladies…again, wearing his robe.  What a man what a man what a man what a man what a mighty good man.

Moving along to one more Sporty Spice style look.  Fashion girls are rocking the heck out of old school track pants lately, and I had to give it a whirl. They are surprisingly versatile and fun to style.  Worn with a sleek black turtleneck and booties makes a great pulled together Fall look.  Here I am going casual with a loose-fitted crop top and retro heels.  Akira pants, KORE collective top, Levi jean jacket, Urban Outfitters shades, Stella McCartney bag, and Topshop heels.  My wonderful adopted Chicago Grandma is not one to sugar coat what she’s feeling…she’s been super supportive of my blog from day one, but recently let me know she is OVER my go-to pop the leg up pose.  Fair enough Grandma, I switched it up here just for you.

All photos taken by my girl Olivia Szwarc

Closing thoughts on this blogversary memoir.  Blogging continues to be great creative fun, I adore the inspiring ladies I have met along the way, and I still royally suck at all things “techy.” Goals! Thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever taken the time to read a post or like a pic…I appreciate you all more than you know.

“If you got it flaunt it. And if you don’t got it? Flaunt it. Cause what are we even doing here if we’re not flaunting it?”~ Mindy Kaling

XOXO,

Julz Chez

 

Life, Love

California Girls

Hi y’all!  Anyone that knows me knows I am a big mush when it comes to love. I love love, and the magic of finding someone you don’t know how you ever lived without.  My wedding day will forever be the best day of my life…but I have to make a confession.  My bachelorette party is right up there! I am a girls girl, and am blessed with an amazing group of loyal, long-time besties. We all met in college when we joined the same sorority, and have been a tight team ever since. When my adventurous girlfriend Erin announced Cuba as her bachelorette destination, the whole team was on board.  Hurricane Irma unfortunately was not on board, and the leaders of the planning team pulled together a long weekend in Palm Springs in just a few days. We rented a gorgeous air b&b with a groovy retro vibe, a secluded pool and hot tub, and stunning views.  This post would be painfully lengthy if I shared all the deets, so here’s a peak at some highlights!

Myself and the Bride-to-be happily drinking bubbles at the airport before 8am. California bound!

The fabulous house! We preordered loads of groceries so we could all enjoy hanging out under one roof like the good ol’ days.

Our main party planner, Katie, has a passion for the arts, so exploring a city’s art scene is always at the top of her list when traveling.  She gathered a group of us to head to a quirky town called Slab City to explore Salvation Mountain. It was incredible and unlike anywhere I had ever been. From there we cruised through a crazy outdoor art land known as East Jesus. So much beauty and endless cool stuff to look at!

After an adventure the gang was always on the same page. Straight home to pool party!

A group of us drug ourselves out of bed bright and early one morning to enjoy the sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park.  Nature’s art at its finest, it was absolutely beautiful!

We finished strong with a Temecula wine tour.  This was my first visit to a winery and it exceeded my expectations!

As the great Carrie Bradshaw once said~ “Dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.”

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Beauty, Fashion, Fitness

Another Cute Exercise Outfit + A Product that will make your Feet silky soft

Hi friends!  Today I am sharing a cute workout outfit…groundbreaking I know.  BUT I am following that cute outfit up with a unique product recommendation I am excited to share.  I raved about the line NUXactivewear in my last post, Workout Clothes Cute enough to wear to brunch.  When a gal finds something she loves, she sticks with it.  Below I am sporting the Alana Capri .  I love the crotchet cut-out aesthetic, and they come in a variety of fun colors. True to size comfortable fit, I am wearing a small.  Nux carries a variety of great tops with built in support for workouts, as well as fashionable outerwear to add a little flavor to a sporty look.  I styled this look with my favorite Nike wedges. I’m a firm believer that every gal deserves a pair of heeled sneakers.  Leg lengthening heels meet the comfort of sneakers…genius.  I also love this nude version and this black and silver version.

All photos taken by Olivia Szwarc

Moving onto a couple of (not so glamorous) products I recently discovered.  I decided I need to step up as a blogger, and include product recommendations for those random health and beauty issues we would rather not discuss with our girlfriends at happy hour. I took my first stab at this goal in my last post when I recommended a probiotic and even used the words “lady parts.” So here’s take two. I don’t know if it’s from all the yoga I practice in bare feet, but the bottoms of my feet are nasty. Calloused, rough, and unfortunate.  And trust me I am a girl that keeps up with her beloved pedicures. I’ve tried many products…Ped Egg, masks, creams, that stuff that makes your feet flake off for days, etc etc. Nothing worked. On an ordering attack during the Nordstrom anniversary sale, I tossed a couple of products in my cart on a whim, and they changed my nasty feet’s life in no time. I hesitated to include a photo of these products that you may find in a 90+ persons bathroom, but decided to heck with it. My new old lady ritual is to file my feet with the Gehwol Biosana Swiss foot file before getting in the shower 3-4 nights a week. Before bed I rub Gehwol Gehwolmed Salve on my feet, and then put on cozy socks. After doing this for one week my gnarly feet were transformed into silky soft soles. If anyone else out there is quietly suffering from icky feet syndrome….I can’t recommend these products enough:)

What should my next uncomfortable beauty subject be? Requests are welcome:)

 

“I figure if I’m gonna be a mess I might as well be a hot mess”~ Mindy Kaling

XOXO,

Julz Chez

Beauty, Fashion, Fitness

Workout clothes cute enough to wear to brunch+ my go-to protein smoothie recipe!

Hey y’all! I hope you are all great! I am checking in to share yet another adorable workout outfit (one can never have enough) and my delicious and nutritious protein smoothie recipe.  I know my mom and husband are chuckling that I used the words MY and RECIPE in the same sentence:) But first…the clothes!  I have shared my love for NUX activewear in a previous post Fashionable Fitness Apparel.  I have a history of getting on a kick with a few staple workout outfits, only to quickly bore of them and move on (friendly reminder that teaching fitness is my “real job” so I’m always in exercise gear:) I have been wearing NUX regularly now for months and can confidently say it is my new favorite! NUX delivers the perfect balance of fashion and function in styles cute enough to go brunching in post Saturday morning spin.  As much as I value a cute aesthetic, when it comes to workout clothes comfort is the top priority.  I have sampled a wide variety of NUX styles and the commonality is quality fabrics that are breathable and comfortable.  Below I am sporting the Alana Capri in pink.  I love the crotchet cut-out detail and the microfiber fabric is crazy comfortable.  On top I’m wearing the Distance Jacket which I wear at least twice a week. For sizing reference, I am in my regular size small bottom, and I size up to a medium in the sports bras and tops. Chloe shades and Nike sneakers.

All photos taken by my main photo snapping squeeze Olivia Szwarc

And now for my healthy gal smoothie concoction!  If you are into health and fitness, chances are you have experimented with protein shakes at some point. Its also quite likely you got bored (or grossed out) and gave it up.  With the millions of products and theories out there I can’t say I blame you.  Despite working in gyms for nearly 15 years…only recently have I become a dedicated shake drinker.  Like my mom I would rather chew calories than drink them…besides wine of course.  Here’s the mixture I created that has made me change my mind and join the protein shake club!

The 3 key ingredients: 

~2 Scoops Vital Proteins Collagen Whey

A protein supplement can help curb your appetite and cravings, and assist in building lean muscle.  This collagen whey formula aids in joint health, boosts energy, and aids in post workout recovery.  I am a fan of this specific brand for their grass-fed quality ingredients, and the yummy taste!

~One serving of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Collagen is the vital building block of our bodies.  Benefits from taking collagen daily are glowing skin, joint health, tendon and bone strength, improved digestion, and deeper sleep.  I was personally sold at glowing skin!

~One teaspoon of MoonJuice Probiotics

Probiotics ease digestion and support your feminine health/lady parts:)

Every day (correction every day I’m being healthy), I add these three powders, ice, and almond milk into my blender for breakfast.  If I am off to teach a workout class and need extra energy, I add a serving of yogurt and a dash of instant coffee.  I have been able to keep up this ritual because the shake actually tastes good, keeps me satisfied for hours, and I have seen positive results.  I could ramble on and on with this topic so I am going to stop myself here. Don’t be shy to reach out with any questions!

“Practice yoga, drink collagen smoothies, and be nice to people!”

XOXO,

Julz Chez