Monday, March 16, 2015

Excuse me, I mustache you a question...

Are you part of the facial hair movement? I mean, I'm sure you've seen it...facial hair is all the rage now! Mustaches everywhere! Just take a peek at Pinterest and you'll see what I mean: 

Just a snapshot of the many pins that pop up when you search "mustache." 
To some this facial hair movement is more than just a's a way of life. Some have even turned it into a Aaron and Jared who founded an awesome company called AJ's Elixirs

Here's what Aaron had to say when I asked him to tell me a little bit about how AJ's Elixirs got started.

My business partner, Jared, and I have been friends for about a decade. We've both always had entrepreneurial minds and have thrown a variety of business ideas around for several years. I'm a childhood cancer survivor and Make-A-Wish recipient, and Jared is the parent of two autistic children who have had some amazing foundations they've been able to work with. As a result, we have always wanted to incorporate a philanthropic approach to whatever venture we started. Enter the world of beards and mustaches!

I've had some form of facial hair for the last 20 years. My go to for several years was a large horseshoe mustache. From there I played with beards, circle beards, goatees, and back to beards. I've always had an interest in high end men's products, from shaving to skin care, and have been fascinated with the rich history of wet shaving, straight razors, mustaches, and beards. Jared has pretty much been the same, and will cycle through products on the hunt for just the right one. He has always been intrigued with various skin-care products, colognes, and shave lines. I had been making my own mustache wax for several years when Jared brought up the idea of a men's grooming company. At this stage I had worn a Verdi style beard (well groomed beard with a distinct styled mustache) for the majority of 5 years. I eagerly said yes, as it was not only a personal interest and hobby, but we knew the men's segment of personal care products was a rapidly growing industry, and there was a need for eco-friendly, organic, and all-natural products. We also knew through experience that the bearding community did so much good, and generated a lot of support for charitable organizations. It was the perfect fit.

Our base recipes themselves set us apart from others. There's a lot of pride in that for us! We did a lot of research and consulted with industry professionals over the course of hundreds of batches to perfect the end products. We've also been using our own product for several years, so of course, we're biased! As wearers of mustaches and beards for over 20 years, we're a picky about product quality and feel. We didn't want oil that would just sit on the hair, but rather, soak in and hydrate while strengthening. It also had to be light, dry, and non-greasy. Our waxes needed to condition, and hold, without the funky scent or properties of petroleum and lanolin Victorian Era formulas. All of our ingredients are non-synthetic natural, and organic. Everything has been made to stack and blend. The perfect beard cocktail, if you will! Our Pre-Shave Oil is top-shelf, and unexpectedly taking off with women. As a result, we will soon be launching an entire women’s line as well.

Being part of the facial hair community is amazing. It is a large, yet tightly knit group - a brotherhood. Competitors are passionate about competing, and clubs are passionate about raising funds for their favorite charities. We have been able to create vast networks and friendships from across the globe. Competitions are a fun way for everyone to get together, catch up, and let loose with those they have met throughout the years. Being a part of that is special, and it means we get to give back in more ways than just the part of the proceeds from every sale that we donate to our charities. There's things that men just don't typically talk about - quality personal care products, and personal men's health issues being two of them. Men try the products and end up opening up pretty fast. It's amazing how most men truly care about what goes on their skin and hair, yet they just don't want to bring it up or discuss it. In our role we get to be educators and philanthropists, in addition to bringing healthy and effective grooming options to men. Mustaches, beards, clubs, competitions and products all with a cause. That's pretty cool, if you ask us! Plus, it's just flat out fun, and we get to have a blast letting loose with the guys while doing it!

Take a look at some of their awesome products! Also, rumor has it that a lot of female customers who love their Pre-Shave Oil. So, it’s not just for men! It absorbs fast, provides a fantastic shave, and leaves your skin silky-soft! The women who use it swear by it! A few of the ingredients in it are Aloe Vera Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and extracts of Chamomile, Calendula, Buckthorn, and Mallow. These provide the oil with soothing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  


One of the things that sets this business apart is that they regularly donate a portion of their sales to Make-a-Wish and Autism speaks. They have even graciously offered to donate a portion of the sales this month to the Juvenile Arthritis Association. (As most of you know this non-profit is near and dear to my heart since my Monkey has JA. You can read more about our JA journey here.) Not only that but they are offering some amazing incentives for my readers. JAA10 Coupon Code provides 10% Off – Exclusive offer for your subscribers and triggers the donation to your Foundation and Free Shipping on orders over $25.

As you can see, both Aaron and Jared take their facial hair very seriously! They are so serious that they have offered up a $40 gift certificate to one lucky reader! Want to enter for a chance to win?! Just click on the link below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 2, 2015

Setting goals and chasing dreams...

I know that generally goal setting posts are done January 1, but hey, I'm a little behind. To be honest Winter always messes with me a little. I get slow, almost sloth like, not really wanting to do much. I think maybe I was a bear in a past life because honestly, hibernating for the Winter sounds REALLY good! Thankfully though, Spring is just around the corner! Daylight savings is next Sunday! NEXT SUNDAY people! I can see the light! Can you? 

Enough jibber jabber though...I came here to write about finally setting some goals for this year. I have dreams...dreams that I honestly didn't know if I'd see come to life until much later in my life. God knows my heart and graciously dropped one of those dreams right on my lap this past year. Now it's my turn to put in the hard work and be determined to work toward growing and building. So, with that said, here are just a few of my goals (personal and business) for 2015...

~ Drink more water. I'm pretty sure this was on my list last year and I totally sucked at drinking water in 2014. I'm happy to say so far in 2015 I'm doing better!

~ Get active again. There was a time a couple years back that I was exercising every day for at least 40-50 min and eating healthy. I felt SO good while I was doing that and want to get back there. Being a blogger and photographer it's easy to get stuck in the computer chair writing or editing and next thing you know the whole day is gone. I NEED to get up and get moving. One thing in particular I'd like to learn is yoga. Not just light yoga but deep yoga. I've met some amazing yogi via social media and their discipline amazes me. Not to mention they look amazing just from doing yoga. I think yoga would be a good mental exercise for me as well. Focus and balance. Every one needs a little more of both, right?

~ Get organized. I have to laugh a little when I type that out. Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle with this. I'm a creative person and because of that organization is difficult for me. I often have multiple projects going at once which means glue guns, papers, envelopes, and other crafting paraphernalia all over the place. I want to get better. I know I will never be one of those extreme organized business people but even organized chaos is better than just chaos. 

~ Give back. I want to give back more this year. Whether it's donating funds or supplies to local non profits or even just blessing someone with a photo session who maybe wouldn't normally be able to afford it. I have been given an amazing gift and I want to share it with others. 

~ Write more. I've really slacked this year with my writing. One of my goals last year was to write a book. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not any closer to that goal than I was last year. I know thing change and maybe last year wasn't the right time but I'd still like to work toward that goal. For now I'm going to focus on blogging more. I need to get back to just writing. Writing what I feel and think. Not worrying about what I think others want to read but writing from my heart. 

~ Build more professional relationships. I've met some amazing bloggers and photographers this past year and I am so thankful for their friendship and guidance. I want to grow these relationships and cultivate even more this year. Networking is so important and I really want to reach out and broaden mine. 

~ Stop worrying about what other people think/grow a thicker skin. Yes, I admit it. I really care too much about what people think about me. I'm a people pleaser and I genuinely want everyone to like me. I know that won't happen though and I need to learn to have a thicker skin when I come across those who I'm just not meant to connect with. I invest so much into my relationships...almost to a fault...but it's who I am. I just need to remember that not everyone is like that and try not to take it personally. 

~ Attend some workshops for photography and blogging. I still have so much to learn about photography, running a business and blogging. I am already signed up for one photography workshop and hope to find more to attend this year. I also want to find online resources to learn from as well. 

~ Have my own studio. This is a HUGE goal of mine. While I'd love for this to happen before the end of 2015 I know that it may not. That said, it doesn't mean that I can't work toward this goal. 

~ Realize my worth. By nature I am not some one who is full of self confidence. I need to embrace the talents and gifts that God has given me and be proud. 

I hope that by putting this out into the universe that I will be more driven and motivated to buckle down and make these happen. I am working on a vision board as well to hang where I will see it daily. I know I can reach my goals but I know that in order to do so I have to be focused, determined, brave, undaunted, and intentional. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monster Jam is Coming to Pittsburgh February 13-15!

Pittsburgh Monster Jam® Tickets Now Available 

Monster Jam truck series is coming to CONSOL Energy Center February 13-15! Monster Jam is great fun for the WHOLE family! What a perfect family Valentine's date too! 

Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family with seats starting at $25 for adults and just $12 for kids. Tickets are available at the CONSOL Energy Center box office, all Ticketmaster retail outlets, online at or charge by Phone at 800-745-3000.

Monster Jam will be performing at CONSOL Energy Center on:

Friday, February 13 – 7:30pm

Saturday, February 14 – 2pm & 7:30pm
*11am Party in the Pits (2pm event ticket and Pit Pass required for entry)

Sunday, February 15 – 2pm 
*11am Party in the Pits (2pm event ticket and Pit Pass required for entry)

The event will feature the return of Grave Digger, Storm Damage, Backdraft and Instigator.  Coming to Pittsburgh for the first time are Backwards Bob, FOX Sports 1 Cleatus, Doomsday and Hurricane Force.  Subject to change without notice.

Approximately 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can fly up to125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.

The Party in the Pits on February 14 and 15 at 11:00am give fans the opportunity to get a view of the trucks up close and meet the drivers of the massive Monster Jam trucks. Pitt Passes are $10.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quiet Moments

Today was a snowy day and Monkey wasn't feeling 100% so we pulled out the watercolors. It was nice to sit in the quiet with him and just create. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finding my zen...

As you can tell by my lack of blogging things have been a little bit crazy the past 8 or so months. Starting a business will do that I guess. Winter is here now though and that means it's the sloooow season for photography. While I am trying to spend a lot of time researching, working on marketing and learning during these off months I also made a promise to myself to start doing more of the other things I love. Being creative in any way is a wonderful outlet and helps me find my zen.

My first project of 2015 was a fun one and was inspired by a new friend! Jacquie over at The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood is a crafting/art/sewing/cooking/mommy hero! Seriously!! I'm so glad we met this past year and I am really looking forward to spending more time with her! She has totally motivated me to be more creative. I see her posts and it just gets my creative juices flowing and soon I find myself huddled over my stash of fabric and craft supplies. 

After messaging Jacquie and asking a million questions and being encouraged that I could quilt I picked a few fabrics out and got started...

I wish I would have taken some pictures of the process (there might be some on my phone) but here are the finished pillow cases...

Now I'm officially hooked and am considering branching out of the simple square patchwork and trying something a little more difficult. I stopped by a local quilt shop today and picked up some more gorgeous fabrics for my next project. Who knows, maybe I'll be brave and make a throw blanket for the couch...maybe. 

Also, Zimm is in love with the pillows and has begged me to make him a pillow case for his pillow so I'll be sure to share pics of that after it's finished. He picked some 'boy' fabrics so it should be an interesting project. haha

Monday, January 19, 2015

The flip side of technology....

Technology is amazing. I mean, think about all the things we have now that we didn't have 20 years ago. Tiny computers that are also our phones, hundreds of television channels and a little box that lets us pause or record live tv, that thing called the Internet that let's us instantly connect with some one who's on the other side of the world. I mean, it's all pretty freaking cool. But, like with most things, there is a flip side. A dark side. 

Have you noticed what technology has done to us? How it's changed us? How many kids do you see playing outside on a nice day? How many kids to you see walking around a mall talking and laughing? When was the last time you actually SPOKE to a good friend or family member rather than sending a text or an email. 

It's so easy to feel like we are part of some one's life because we see their updates on Facebook and know what's going on when we've actually not even talked to them in months or maybe years. Technology let's us be lazy about relationships. It allows us to look like we care without having to actually put forth the effort to keep up a relationship. Now, don't get me wrong...I don't think that's the case all the time but answer me honestly. How many people on your friends list to you actually talk to? How many of those status updates do you comment on. Do you just 'like' a post? Do you even do that? When was the last time you called someone to just chat? I'm guilty of using a text or email as an easy way to contact some one. As a mom it's hard to get on the phone but guess what...our parents did it and so did our grandparents. Why can't we?

Technology is such a sticky web. We need it...I need it. If I didn't have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I probably wouldn't have met half of my photography clients and I certainly never would have connected with my local blogging mommas. I know if I could I'd go 'off the grid' and just live an 'old-fashioned' life where you actually call people to see how they are. Heck, even texting is ok as long as it's sincere. But alas technology is a necessary evil especially in the business world. 

Why am I writing this? I'm not sure. Maybe just to get these feelings off my chest. Maybe to remind myself and others to remember how to have a real relationship. If we truly care then we have to make an effort. Take time and re-evaluate what and who is important in your life. Find ways to reach out to them that involve a pen or your voice. I know we can never go back and have things the way they used to be but if we all try we can make a change.