Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.

I saw floral fashion attire left and right this past weekend, and not going to lie but I am all about it. Bill and I took a day trip up to Holland, Michigan to check out the Tulip Time Festival and had a great time. It’s about 3 hours away from Chicago, and let me just say I have never seen a city so on fire for something as simple as a tulip. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but this town lives for the two weekends the tulips are in full bloom. From its parades, tulip art, to tulips in every storefront window, these two weekends are like our fourth of July. Such excitement!

I knew right away I was going to wear a floral arrangement (so basic, I admit…) BUT when I saw this romper with a skirt overlay at Francesca’s I was so excited to wear it out with a cute bralette underneath and my red Target sandals. I am embracing the warm weather and vibrant colors because we have waited too long for these moments!

If you ever want to take a day trip to Holland, MI, I would recommend grabbing a bite at Butch’s, apple cider donuts from Crane’s, walking around Window on the Waterfront, and stopping by the 205 Coffee bar for a latte and cute photos. I really had a great time ooh-ing and aah-ing over the array of tulip colors, and we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to be outside! Shots from my trip are below. Dare I ask what your favorite flower is? I bet you can guess mine.

RomperFrancesca’s // ShoesTarget // Bralette: Styles for Less // Sunglasses: Quay

XO.

Lex

 

5 Places in Chicago Both You and I Need to Try

The never ending cloudy skies and rain in Chicago is having me dream of summer dresses, high waisted everything, wedges and jumpsuits to wear out and about the city. I recently made a mini list of restaurants and bars I want to try and I thought I would share, along with a cute jumpsuit by Ellie Kai that I can wear out to these new hot spots. This classy jumpsuit is not only perfect for just about any night out, but it is so comfortable too. Be sure to check out all of Ellie Kai’s cute outfits on their website. I love that everything is made to order and they have so many patterns to choose from!

Anyways, tell me what places I am missing! They don’t have to be brand new- I just have a thing for supporting new businesses in the city.

Jumpsuit: Ellie Kai

Ella Elli: Southport, Chicago

The chic booths and savvy light fixtures speak to me. On top of this photo worthy restaurant, the menu contains everything delicious. Whether it is a date night or grabbing a drink with a friend, I cannot wait to stop by this charming restaurant.

La Josie: West Loop, Chicago

I love seeing the transformation of restaurant row in West Loop. This industrial community is bringing every kind of cuisine and La Josie is sure to be a hit. Not to mention this Mexican restaurant has a roof deck. Summer just got that much better.

Violet Hour: Wicker Park, Chicago

I know. I haven’t been to Violet Hour. I’m just as shocked as you are. The artisanal cocktail menu and hidden appeal with no signs outside is the perfect addition to the Wicker Park community. I love that you can escape the grunge and artsy part of town and toast to a cocktail at Violet Hour. I will be stopping in soon!

Steak Bar: Old Town, Chicago

Another place that has been on my list, especially for brunch. No wonder it’s almost famous with it’s extensive brunch menu and bottomless mimosa deal. $35 buffet and $15 mimosas? Yes and yes.

Up and Up Chicago: Wicker Park, Chicago

Located atop the Robey Chicago in Wicker Park brings stunning city views as the perfect beginning or end to any night. The Robey Chicago is a trendy hotel in Wicker that actually used to be an office building. Did I mention Up and Up has a terrace? You’re welcome.

The sunshine is close. I can feel it.

XO.

Lex

 

Photography by: Lincoln Park Minute

Tried and Tested: Beauty Product Mini Reviews

 

 

It is no secret that I love skincare products. I hoard them like an old lady that loves antiques. They overtake my bathroom, bedroom and office as I slowly test them one by one. I normally share mini product reviews on my Instagram, but wanted a more cohesive way to share my weekly beauty finds with you. Below are four mini reviews of products that I have tried, tested and fallen madly in love with.

If you have been following Al + Lex for a while, you have followed my skin saga while it changes. I have learned that every new product that works helps immensely and you can never have too many products in your arsenal. You can see some past skincare posts with Scratch Goods and Tula.

 

I stumbled upon Lark Skin Co. one late night stalking Instagram. I had recently been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and was learning the importance of what went into the things I put on my body. Lark Skin Co. only uses ingredients you can easily understand (hello coconut oil, aloe and witch hazel.) As I mentioned above, I try a lot of products. The Lark Skin Co. Aloe + Lime Purifying toner has totally transformed my skin. When I started my Lyme treatment, I broke out in tiny little bumps all over my face. This toner is the first thing that has not just soothed those bumps, but cleared them up. I am now a religious Lark Skin Co. user.

 

I really want to be a lipstick person. SO badly. I have never found a lipstick that stays on the way I want it to and seems to fit my face. Maybe it is because I have no makeup skills, or because I am oddly picky about what I put on my lips (as you will read below!) I wasn’t expecting to love the Matte Shaker by Lancôme but was blown away by the ease of application and comfort of wear throughout the day. I was sent the color “Magenta” which seems overpowering, but goes on light and is buildable if you want an intense pucker.

 

I am a self professed lip balm freak. I am so, so picky about what I put on my lips: the smell, taste, texture…I could go on for hours. You know how some lip balms have that weird taste that dries our your mouth? It is non-existent in the Kiehl’s Kiss For The Cure Butterstick Lip Treatment Duo. The clear butterstick goes on super smooth thanks to the coconut oil and protects lips with SPF 25. The pink butterstick lends the perfect tinge of pink to your lips that is universally flattering.  Plus: 100% of proceeds go to Bright Pink for breast cancer educational programs.

 

Over the past few years, the skin under my eyes has gotten puffy and I get a red tinge to my cheeks. I have tried every trick in the book to sooth my skin. While many of them work well, I love the feeling of this Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask. The mask goes on easily and does not leave a slimy residue like other sheet masks can. The mask leaves my face feeling ultra-hydrated, plumper, and cooler. Cucumber extract delivers high levels of Vitamin C, which are major players in retaining the moisture in our skin. The coconut gel provides intensive hydration and restores the skin’s balance and just flat out smells A M A Z I N G.

If you have any skincare recommendations, I would love to hear them!

❤ Al

 

Dreaming of La La Land

“Why did you move from California to Chicago?” is a question I have received 100+ times. My answer has remained consistently the same: The energy in Chicago is different than anywhere else and you never take a beautiful day for granted. Now that I don’t live in California, I never take a pretty day for granted there either.

I was so excited to be in Santa Monica/ Venice Beach for work and I was able to stay the weekend to visit my family. I was able to squeeze in a few things here and there whether it was get a workout in, grab a yummy coffee, walk around the Venice Canals, check out Abbott Kinney Blvd.. it was all so fun. There is so much to do and see in Los Angeles. The next thing I have on my list when I return is to get in more hiking, drive up the coast from San Diego to San Francisco, and see wine country in NorCal. My bucket list just keeps getting longer and longer! What’s on your bucket list and upcoming travel schedule?

Below are a few pictures + outfits linked from my very own La La Land- and I can’t wait to go back ❤

XO.

Lex

 

Shorts: Express (Similar HERE) // Shirt: Styles for Less // Backpack: TUMI // Sandals: Nordstrom

Bathing Suit: Victoria’s Secret (Similar HERE!)

Until we meet again, La La Land ❤

Super Simple Frośe recipe

 

I am afraid to say it- but, I think the weather in Chicago might F I N A L L Y be turning itself around for the better. Last weekend I woke up to 60 degree weather on Saturday and decided to have a Hamptons themed cocktail party…because why not?

My favorite thing about having a group of friends over is planning out what to serve food and cocktail wise. I think a great craft cocktail can liven up any situation, and there is one for every occasion. While I was trying to find a truly “Hamptons” style cocktail, I flipped through Ina Garten’s cookbooks that feature cocktails like The South Side and a classic Negroni. I love both of these cocktails, but I wanted something that would not just scream Summer but put a smile on someones face!

Last year, Frośe was all over my Instagram feed. I couldn’t log in and not see at least one photo of it. I had wanted to try to make it, but was intimidated because I hadn’t seen a recipe come out for it yet! I settled on making frośe because who doesn’t love a fun frozen drink??

Frośe is shockingly simple to make and does not take a lot of prep work. I followed the below recipe from Bon Appétit and made a few tweaks. Personally, I added more strawberries so the flavor came through. You can also thrown in some mint leaves for a twist on the classic.

Ingredients

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

  • 1 750 ml bottle hearty, bold rosé (such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, quartered
  • 2½ ounces fresh lemon juice

Bon Appétit recommends freezing the bottle of rose in an ice cube tray and giving it a whirl in the blender. Personally, I just threw all of the ingredients in the blender with about a cup of ice and preferred the outcome.

❤ Al

 

Travel Guide: What To Do in Venice Beach

Oh LA sunshine how I have missed you. I am excited to be on the road for work and staying the weekend to visit my family. (Summer time is one of the busiest seasons at work!) Of course when I found out I was going to Venice Beach for work, I could not resist finding a few hot spots to check out during my travels!

If you ever find yourself in the beach babe mind set, biking down the board walk, or just need some sun in your life, here are a few of the places I have in mind to check out.

  1. Venice Canals: I came across this by mistake, but it brought pure happiness when I discovered it! You are sure to see a few photos on my Instagram from here. Cannot wait to see all of the cute houses and boats!

Photo by @TheVeniceCanals

  1. Blue Bottle Coffee: Because when you have early morning meetings or need that afternoon push to get you through the day, Blue Bottle Coffee is a Southern California classic. How can you NOT love their coffee?!

Photo by: @deviljulin

  1. Barry’s Venice Beach: Oh you bet I am stopping in for a full body workout at Barry’s Bootcamp over the weekend! Cannot wait to get my workout in and do the occasional run on the boardwalk too!

  1. The Penthouse Restaurant, Santa Monica: Because everyone needs to have a classy dinner with killer views am I right or am I right? Located in the Huntley Hotel with plush white interior and fancy cocktails, you can’t go wrong getting lost in the beauty of the sea with a cocktail in hand.

Photo by: @dailycherie

  1. The Butcher’s Daughter: I love the vegetarian options The Butcher’s Daughter has available! You won’t even realize you are eating all plant based foods! Fresh food on a sunny day: winning.

Photo by: @gettinavocontrol

Any other recommendations while I am adventuring in Venice? Comment below with your recommendations and follow along my travels on Instagram!

See you in the sunshine!

XO.

Lex

Friday Blues with a Hint of Pink

We made it to Friday! I am so excited for a few adventures coming up in the next few weeks, so thanks for following along :). I will give you a hint of what my upcoming adventures include: an ocean, flowers, and more flowers. Oh yes. As you can tell I have been on the floral fashion train because I cannot stop talking about them. I found my top on sale from Anthropologie and I thought it was perfect to wear in the city because it is long sleeved but still bright and cheery (writing this as I wore all black today…). I paired it with my jeans from Zara that are so comfy (and they are high rise!) and my bright pink M. Gemi flats. Anthro usually has a few great pieces on sale when I check out their site or in store (and make sure to grab some Voluspa candles while you’re at it) so make sure to take a peek.

I hope you enjoy your time with family and friends this weekend for Easter! And don’t stay at work too late today.. Happy Friday!

XO.

Lex

Top: Anthropologie // Jeans: Zara // Shoes: M. Gemi // Purse: Kate Spade // Shades: Wavvse

Photography by Brittany Benson

Secrets Of Reality TV + Tips To Getting on a Show

Reality TV has been a hot topic for me lately. While I don’t often talk about work, I spend a lot of time with clients developing reality TV shows from start to finish. It is something I just fell into and wound up loving. While each project is unique and exciting, it has also jaded me from watching TV like a normal person. With every new scene, I watch it through a “man behind the camera” lens.

Last week, I chatted with Mary Mel of WRUW about my love for Erika Jayne, work and the change of going back to school to get my masters in PR/AD. Reality TV, more specifically Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has always been my guilty pleasure. When I am stressed, I numb my brain with their complaints about their 15 nannies and gossipy glam sessions.

With so many people consuming reality TV and a new show popping up every week, I wanted to share some behind the scenes facts and tips on how to land your own TV show and what really goes down behind the camera, because let’s be real: I know some of you lead crazy enough lives to deserve a camera crew.

1 | Although it is “reality,” nothing is unplanned. Every conversation is sketched out in a plot-line. While this does not mean scripted, there is a general guide of what the subjects will talk about and when. If the producer does not catch a scene exactly as they need it, the subjects may be asked to create it again. On a different note, even late night talk shows are scripted. Producers will check with a celebrities publicist to get talking points and the host will rehearse them with the interviewee.

2 | Reality TV shows seek out “flawed” individuals. Whether it is having a harsh temper or being terrified of flying, you bet that  producer is going to pick on your weaknesses. Take a TV show like The Bachelor for example, there can only be one winner. That means that of the 30 girls in the cast each season, only a few can be “normal.” They have to fill the season with other tune-in worthy stuff to keep viewership high, and that means c.r.a.z.y. Imperfections set you apart- sometimes in a good way.

3 | You only see a small portion of the action. Something that drives me crazy is when I see hundreds of angry tweets about a specific moment on a show and in reality producers are master manipulators. They have 50 hours of video content, and cut together different scenes into a half hour episode. If someone gets eliminated on a talent show for bombing, remember that all of their applause could have been cut out and they could have been eliminated simply because they weren’t as interesting as other contestants.

4 | A show cast or contestants on a talent show are chosen to play specific “characters.” People are cast to fill specific roles, for example “the mean girl” or the “girl next-door.” The cast signs onto these roles and agrees to play to that role for the camera. Ex. Corinne from The Bachelor.

5 | Getting a show picked up by a network isn’t easy. Having a show go from concept to on air can take many, many years. Typically, a production house will fund your concept and then try to sell it to a network. People think it is glamorous, but in reality it is a lot of waiting around! There are many different ways that a network can order a TV show, so it changes depending on the case. Your best bet for getting picked up for a TV show is to send an email directly to a production company, such as Story Monster, to see if they are developing anything.

Obviously every case is different and some shows are filmed with honesty, but a large chunk of the TV we consume on a daily basis follows these steps.

Did you know any of these things before? What is your take on reality TV?

❤ Al

Spring Time Apparel

 

Dress: Ellie Kai // Shoes: Target!! (Buy one get one 50% off!) // Purse: Sarah Jessica Parker

It’s Monday and Spring is (actually) HERE. We are slowly learning what sunshine is in Chicago and I love it. Spring time in Chicago is the best with colorful tulips on Michigan Avenue, strolls on the river walk, bright colors and spring dresses. I have been dying to wear my red sandals out and about and not only are they comfortable, but they come in so many different colors! The Who What Wear line at Target is coming in clutch with its shoe collection. I’m in love with my Crochet Knit Dress by Ellie Kai because it is so comfy and can be dressed up or down! It’s the perfect dress for a Sunday Stroll, day time brunch, (did someone say Easter?!), or even for a Hamptons party (thank you Al for hosting!) If you haven’t heard of Ellie Kai before, make sure to check them out! This made to order clothing line has so many different styles, patterns, and fits to choose from. Not to mention the brand prides itself in making its clothing in an ethical way, in hopes to eliminate waste. The company also donates to organizations that focuses on bettering education for women and girls. Love me some Ellie Kai.

You can never go wrong with a white dress and a pop of color for a day in the sunshine. Can’t wit for more spring fashion inspiration. Let’s just hope this sunshine in Chicago is here to stay for awhile!

XO.

Lex

Photography by: Meghan @ Lincoln Park Minute

This post includes complimentary product. 

Fit Fridays: Working for that Summer Bod

Happy Friday! We are so close to summer which means lounging by the pool, boating on Lake Michigan, and runs on the lake front! Days at work have been a little longer due to a busy but exciting summer season ahead, so I have to work out at home a few days a week. One of my main fitness gals, Erin Murray, is a yoga and boot camp instructor (you MUST take her bootcamp class at Yoga Six!) and taught me a few workouts perfect to do at home that help me get a good sweat in, are great for toning, and of course kick my butt. The workout below is a circuit where you go through the circuit as fast as you can for 5 minutes, 4 times, with one minute rests in between

Want more tips? Check out Erin’s blog, La Vigueur and comment with questions below! YOU GOT THIS.

XO.

Lex

Plank: 1 Minute Hold

Squat + Twist: 20

This one is pretty straight forward. You squat with around a 5 pound weight, and bring your knee to the weight while twisting towards your raised knee, squat, and do the other side!

Push Up + Low Squat (10)

For this, you do a push up, jump your feet towards your hands, and bring yourself up into a very low squatting position. From there, plant your hands on the ground, jump your feet back out for another push up, and repeat.

The Dirty Dozen

Start at 1, do 1 rep (in and out), do another one but this time hold your legs straight out for 1 second. Then do 2 fast reps, and then hold your legs straight out for 2 seconds, do 3 reps and hold your legs straight out for 3 seconds… and so on. One you get to 12, you bring it right back down. If it gets too hard, modify to go up to 6! Sounds like death right? I believe in you.

High plank to low plank: 15

Start by doing an elbow plank, and then rise up, one arm at a time, to a high plank. Then you will lower one arm back down at a time, and repeat.

Stretch Stretch Stretch.

This is imperative to your success. Touch your toes, do some twists to open up your hip flexers, and stretch your inner thighs by bending into one leg while keeping the other straight. Do your body a favor and stretch for at least 10 minutes after your workout. This is not a drill.

What are you doing in preparation for summer? Hustle hustle hustle to get your workouts in!

 

Photography by Brittany Benson