Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

Tiny Weddings Bham

July 26, 2017

Tiny Weddings Bham

The lyrics of that Bryan Holland song keep ringing in my ear: “Itsy, bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini.” I probably just like the rhyme and the use of “itsy bitsy.”  But let’s be honest, anything small is just so darn cute –  puppies, micro houses, and Frank Underwood’s civil war miniatures. (Anyone else a House of Cards fan?)  There is something so fascinating about the time and attention it takes to add detail to small things – special and delicately handled.

Tiny Weddings Bham is just that – small, of course, but handled with the utmost care by a team of the best in Birmingham. So what is it exactly? As they call it, Tiny Weddings Bham is a “pop-up wedding” or “styled elopement.” They handle the detail; you just show up. And most of all, the cost is tiny. The price generally ranges from $3,500-$4,500 depending on the venue. This is a huge price difference with the average cost of a wedding in Birmingham at $30,000.

Tiny Weddings Bham

Tiny Weddings Bham

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“We believe in memories and moments and all the tiny unforgettable things that happen in between. We believe in love and that starting your life together does not have to be complicated- but is worth celebrating and marking in a special way.”

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Tiny Weddings Bham Tiny Weddings Bham

Anny Marie Leveille, experienced wedding planner and coordinator, brought this concept to Birmingham. She and a team of vendors do it all. All you need is a killer outfit and groom (and up to 20 guests if you choose). They announce the date of the next pop-up wedding; you submit your story, and then choose your time.

The list of vendors that TWB has worked with are some of the best: The Nest, an historic Avondale space – think rustic and modern with the coolest wall as a backdrop for photos; Gold Leaf Floral; Photos by Heart; Tres Beau Weddings; and Swan Lindsey Lettering, custom invitations. (Yes, please!).

The next pop-up wedding is Oct. 22 at the Clubhouse on Highland. Visit the TWB for more detail.

Brittany Windle

The “R” Word

June 20, 2017

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“Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day,” this song rings loudly in every bride’s ears on her wedding day. Unfortunately, avoiding this word will not make the dark clouds hide and the sun appear.

Becca Bell, owner of 2b Photography, says, “Some of the most beautiful and creative images come from getting scrappy and being resourceful when faced with the challenges of the day.”

On her blog, she provides five tips to help lessen the anxiety of rain on your wedding day. I had the privilege of helping her style Part 2 of this series. With the use of stylish umbrellas and cute rain boots, there may just be a silver lining when it comes to a bride’s worst nightmare.

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To see the complete gallery of photos, click here.

Brittany Windle

Photo Credit: Becca Bell of 2b Photography 

Follow Your Voice of Wisdom

August 27, 2016

Alex Forrest

Little did I know I was living below “Alex Forest” from the infamous Fatal Attraction movie when I moved into my quaint, vintage apartment.

She, like most mean girls, appears first as the sweetest, kindest person who ever graced the planet. And she did so gracefully walk. She had perfect posture and seemed to always know proper etiquette, especially in conversation. Even when she held her cigarette it was like watching an old Hollywood starlet. Something about her was intriguing, a bit mysterious and often left me feeling uneasy. There was some sort of wall or façade I could not clearly decipher. All I knew was to keep her on my good side. I had a sneaking suspicion that if I ever crossed the line, there would be no return.

I rarely meet people like this, but when I do, I am reminded of that gnawing feeling of discomfort. She was intentionally intimidating. I’m even bold enough to say that she was a bully. She made me want to shrink and cower down. A little voice inside me told me to steer clear, but I often felt sorry for her, especially when I’d get a knock on my door. Standing there with a glass filled to the brim with white wine, she had tears in her eyes.

As a child and teen, I always listened to that little voice. You know the still, small voice that would tell you not to go out with that guy? Or that feeling that you’d get when you knew something didn’t seem right? That voice is what many call their conscience or their wisdom speaking.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped listening to that small voice of wisdom. It has become quieter every time I have allowed someone to cross a boundary or line with me.

I haven’t taken a personality test recently, but I think it’s safe to say that I am Type B. I am very laid back, and on top of this, I am the middle child of two sisters. We, middle children, tend to be peace makers. Over the years, I have struggled with saying “no” to invitations or obligations. I want others to be happy, and it’s difficult for me if I know they will be disappointed by my decline.

If you’re a people pleaser like myself then you can relate. Because of this desire to please others, I have allowed people to take advantage of me. I have often sacrificed my own well being for the sake of avoiding confrontation. Around an intimidating person, my voice has often been soft, almost non-existent. Out of fear of retaliation, I won’t speak up.

Some call me sweet and innocent. I still get the occasional description as being naive. And those with ill intentions will truly prey on this. As a result, a person like myself will get used. Dare I say the term abused? Cruel people exist and even the smartest of us can fall into a trap of deception.

I started meeting with a counselor recently for self growth and because I have been faced with a difficult decision. He said the most simple yet beautiful advice: Follow the voice of your own wisdom. He reminded me that when you get that weird gut feeling or when you feel uncomfortable by someone’s actions toward you that it is your wisdom speaking.

I still have that little voice, but unfortunately, by not following it, I have said no to myself. Saying yes to others has caused me to say no to my well being at times. I have put my emotional, mental, and sometimes physical health at risk.

“Boundaries are not for others but for yourself,” my counselor stated. “You set the boundaries. If they cross them, you walk away.” I have often thought I didn’t have that right. However, now that my mindset has been made whole, I am and will set boundaries. My well being is more important than simply making others happy.

For the whole story of my bully neighbor, read here. I was right about that feeling. I’ll listen to it better next time.

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow her on Twitter.

The Inspire Us Project: Kim

June 20, 2016

In February of this year, we introduced you to The Inspire Us Project. We have enjoyed reading the stories of women – stories of strength that have led them to a life of believing in themselves and feeling comfortable in their own skin.

We will be sharing a few of these stories as a source of inspiration. Stay tuned for our very own to be shared in this project as well.

Kim::

Inspire Us

The story behind my smile…

I guess you could say that my life started out as that of most little girls. Days were filled with lots of love, pretty dresses and dance classes. Quite the spoiled little thing, it still tickles me to hear the story of how my maternal grandparents once stood outside “spanking” the rain because the thunder had made me cry.

My parents divorced when I was really young. They had been childhood sweethearts who grew up as neighbors. Now that I’m grown myself, I think they simply weren’t mature enough for true “adulting” at the time. My mom remarried shortly thereafter, and so did my dad. It was my stepfathers suggestion that we needed to move. Unable to fully cope with my grandmothers untimely death, my mom went along with it. So off we went, along with my little sister, to live in Colorado. I’ve always been the intuitive type. So without reason and at the tender age of four, I can honestly say that I had never liked my stepfather. Upon moving across the country, I soon learned why.

For the first time in my life, I was exposed to alcoholism and abuse. As a little kid I wanted nothing more than to escape, but I couldn’t. Since I couldn’t physically escape, I would lose myself in books. From Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, to The Chronicles of Narnia, I would get away to better places through reading. I guess that’s the one good thing from that time that I’ve never lost. We moved around a lot, but wherever we went the story never changed. It was a horribly ugly cycle that was stuck on repeat. Somewhere along the way we all moved back to Alabama. But that didn’t suit the manipulation of an abuser who thrived on isolation to carry out his domination. There were simply too many family and friends here, to not notice all of the battles and bruises on the mend.

There’s so much more to this story, it would take a book to truly tell. Fortunately, my sister and I were able to get away. It took a while longer, but my mom and now three more sisters would eventually follow. It takes a long time to truly be free from the chains of abuse, but I’m happy that the chains have finally been broken. Although there are still some residual difficulties at times, I choose happiness in spite of it all!

I choose to live in a way that shines the light of love in all that I am and all that I do. When you see my smile, know that it is broad and bright by choice. It is the freedom song of a sweet little girl who once didn’t have a voice.

For more stories, visit The Inspire Us Project website.

Shop Talk: Engaged

May 31, 2016

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Stephanie Whitacker, own of Engaged and publisher of Birmingham’s The Perfect Wedding Guide

Situated in the quaint neighborhood of Edgewood, Engaged welcomed me with its sea-foam green walls and light touches of cream and white. Just as welcoming and warm as the room, Stephanie and Katie greeted me energetically. This dynamic duo, down-to-earth and personable, are the types you’d want to have as your best girlfriends. I felt as if I had known them for years.

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Engaged is a Wedding Library. I wasn’t familiar with the term before but intrigued with what they do. With hundreds of sources at their fingertips, Stephanie and Katie make wedding planning stress free and fun.

Stephanie Whitaker, the owner of Engaged, first began in 2007 when she left the accounting world to become the publisher of Birmingham’s Perfect Wedding Guide. This guide provides brides with a list of vendors from photographers and venues to bridal shops and florals – all the necessary elements in making that special day perfect.

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Although the guide provides the premier wedding vendors in Birmingham, Stephanie took it one step further and opened Engaged which is a store front that offers one-on-one consultations for brides. The guide and consultations are free. What’s the catch? There isn’t one!

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Katie Calhan, bridal consultant of Engaged

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Katie Calhan is one of the consultants with seven years of experience. When meeting her, it’s evident that she loves what she does. “My job is to educate brides on price points and give them the why’s and how’s on what to do. Sometimes they don’t know that Aunt Sally shouldn’t do the flowers, ” she jokes. “We help build a team to make the wedding successful and stress free,” she continues.

Katie suggests that brides should come in with a vision, but if they don’t, not to worry: “They will leave with three things no matter what: 1. A plan 2. Feeling less stressed and 3. The knowledge of the best vendors in town.”

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Engaged and The Perfect Wedding Guide host two bridal shows a year. These shows provide inspiration for brides of any style.

There will be a launch party on April 7th at 6:00 pm for the spring book edition at Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market.

Engaged should be every brides “first stop after he pops the question.”

Photo Credit: Becca Bell of 2b Photography

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter

 

Callie Blount of Luv Cooks

October 20, 2015

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I arrive at the quaint Homewood cottage right on time. Callie greets me at the door with an infectious smile. It was as if I was meeting a long time friend. She is in the perfect pair of black skinny jeans, burgundy booties, and a salmon hued blouse with a pineapple in sparkly sequins. I later discover that pineapples are Callie’s favorite, of course, a symbol of hospitality. She is even more mesmerizing in person.

Callie Blount is someone I’ve admired from afar for a couple of years, so I was eager to meet her in person. Callie runs a food blog called Luv Cooks – having the most mouth watering recipes, beautifully styled photography and entertaining videos. (She makes cooking look so easy!) By day, she is a freelance food and prop stylist. 

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With an industrial feel and splash of vintage, her kitchen area serves as the backdrop for most of her videos and shoots. She offers me grapes and tea, and we immediately sit down in the red apple dining room chairs to chat.

Sometimes you just get a certain feeling about people. Honestly, today is not about her skill in the kitchen; I want to see her outside of that. I’m intrigued by women who have an ease and comfort about them. And there is just something about her.

I don’t normally open conversation with the topic of beauty and overcoming obstacles (seems a little heavy as an opener), but something prompts me to, and I follow. I sit back, soaking in every word. I wasn’t expecting such a moving response. After all, this is the first time we had met. Her warmth and vulnerability are immediate. As I listen, I secretly hope to have those same qualities one day.

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I simply ask, “What is your definition of beauty?” Without hesitation, Callie speaks on this topic making me realize how layered and complex that word really is: “Beauty is close to my heart. I feel that beauty is the reason I‘m on the planet. I had this fascination of growing roses at a very early age. There was something about flowers that was so beautiful.” She continues telling of how her family passed on a rose bush from generation to generation with the women in her family. Sitting on the kitchen table is a porcelain white vase.  A pink rose peeks above a sea of petite red ones. It was then I notice the other fresh flowers on several surfaces of her home.

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“Beauty is power,” she continues. “With beauty comes responsibility to lead people to good or astray. I want my life on this planet to be a beauty that leads people to Jesus. Style is how I do it. When you see an image, you see something that is attractive. This brings people joy and happiness. Beauty is impactful, powerful, and can change the world. As a woman, I wanted to run from beauty at times. I felt as if I was too much or not enough. There have been moments that I didn’t want to care. But I knew not to run away. It can be for the good.”

Intrigued by her sense of self and concept of beauty, I ask about the most challenging obstacle she’s had to overcome. Candidly, she speaks of the end of her marriage and the beauty God brought from divorce:

“Personally, I walked through a difficult divorce, but the Lord is a God of restoration. He took me from a place where I had been stripped. A part of it was reclaiming my beauty and who I am as a woman. God has an amazing purpose for my life. When you go through a broken relationship, the world gets small and you think, ‘This is all I have.’ But God says, ‘I have way more for you.’” Callie is now married to a creative like herself who is a musician and photographer. “God built something new in my spirit,” she warmly says.

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On a professional level, Callie recalls a recent interview experience: “Being in the video world, there are a lot of people who say you aren’t enough. Someone said one time, ‘I really like you, but you are too southern. You are not for us.’ I really wanted to work with them.”

With reflection in her voice, she says, “Through those experiences, it goes back to, ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s how I (God) made you to be. I’ve got this.’ It’s a journey of joy.”

Callie’s faith in God is evident. Her vulnerability to share her story reminds me of the importance of every woman’s story, although possibly messy, it’s meant to be told.

“Let’s turn on some 90′s rap,” Callie playfully says before the shoot. Pulling out inflatable fries and an apple pie, she giggles, “I wonder what we can do with these?”

A few things I learned from Callie that day: vulnerability is breathtaking; the name Callie actually means beauty; and make no apologies for who you are.

Her authenticity: awe-inspiring.

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Get to know Callie:

Favorite dish to cook. I LOVE brownies. Nigella Lawson has an incredible brownie recipe. I also love chocolate and peanut butter combos, so I love to top a hot brownie with chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

When did you know you had a love for food and cooking? My love for food began at a young age; I remember sneaking sugar cookie dough into my mouth as we decorated Christmas cookies, trying to carry on 6-year-old conversation while pretending it wasn’t there! But, my desire to learn how to cook started in college. My family sat down every night for a home-cooked dinner, and I was left, for the first time, with no one to cook for me!

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Who taught you how to cook? When was Luv Cooks created? I grew up watching my mom in the kitchen, but both of my parents worked, so she really didn’t have much time to teach me! I started Luv Cooks first as more of a baking blog. When I began learning the basics of cooking, baking really intrigued me, so that’s where I started. And I loved the satisfaction that came from bringing someone a home-baked treat- their faces would light up! And that’s really where Luv Cooks started- that idea that food is one of the best ways to show people love. The recipes have morphed from there, incorporating gluten- free, dairy-free, vegan options as well, because everyone should feel loved and included, no matter their diet.

How do you balance it all? This is a complete matter of prayer! A friend of mine taught me one of the best life principles I know a few years ago, and I have tried to stick with that. Since I am a freelance stylist, I have Sunday evening or Monday morning “meetings with the Boss” (the Lord) and just pray over my week- photo shoots, appointments, coffee dates, etc. I have found that that makes all the difference, and the Lord will really show me where to spend my time, and also open up pockets of rest in my week.

What women have inspired you? I am truly inspired by all women! Each of us has something incredibly beautiful and precious inside that the world desperately needs. I love learning from women who are really operating from that place. Christine Caine and the Propel women movement has really caught my attention lately- I love their outlook on women and purpose.

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Favorite piece of advice. “Life is either a grand adventure or nothing else.” Helen Keller. As women, as Creatives,we are called to take risks and leaps of faith with our lives. I don’t want to look back and wish I had taken on the challenge instead of sitting that one out.

Favorite piece of fall clothing: BOOTS! I love boots- tall, ankle booties, brown leather to purple suede. They dress up any outfit. Plus, there is no better feeling than a cool fall day, feeling cozy in a big chunky sweater, jeans, and boots (drinking a pumpkin spice latte of course). Perfection.

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Many thanks to Becca Bell of 2b Photography for these images. There were way too many to choose, so check out the full shoot on the 2b Facebook page

31 Bits: Eliminating Poverty

June 23, 2015
Sophia Bush in Gulu, Uganda and the women of 31 Bits.

Sophia Bush in Gulu, Uganda and the women of 31 Bits.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw Sophia Bush in a long, white and black checkered skirt surrounded by a group of women in Uganda. I couldn’t help but read what her latest adventure was. She was and is still visiting the women of 31 Bits. She is a part of a project that will be telling the stories of these artisans.

31 Bits is more than just a jewelry company. It is a business that was founded by five women from California who saw a way to eliminate poverty with fashion. One of the founders, Kallie Dovel, returned from a “life-changing” trip from Uganda during her senior year of college. “Kallie brought a box of the jewelry back, and we fell in love instantly. We sold the jewelry to friends and ran out within weeks. That’s when it hit us. These women had a skill, but needed a market,” the founders state in their story.

Green accessories from the Summer Collection

Within a year or so of traveling back and forth and selling the jewelry, they implemented a five year development program where the women of Gulu receive health education, finance training, counseling, and business training. They knew that these women needed more than just a paycheck. “After five years in our program, the women graduate, leaving with an education, a career, social equity, confidence, and a voice.”

The beads of each piece of jewelry is handcrafted and made from recycled paper. 99% of the materials are from local markets in Eastern Africa. “All of our products are carefully crafted by hand. From the first cut of paper to stringing on the final bead, every detail was thought through. You might find tiny differences from bead to bead, but we call those the “perfect imperfections” of having a handmade product. Each piece is unique and tells a story because it was made by a real person.”

Summer Collection - the "Marrakesh" necklace

Summer Collection – the “Marrakesh” necklace

Arach Nighty grew up a child enslaved to the war traveling through Eastern Africa. She never had a chance to go to school, and didn’t think her own children would ever get to either.

Arach Nighty grew up a child enslaved to the war traveling through Eastern Africa. She never had a chance to go to school, and didn’t think her own children would ever get to either.

Sophia Bush sums it up beautifully with these words: “31 Bits was born to help rehabilitate a war-torn region. To help empower the most disadvantaged women. To return hope to families. And these amazing ladies have done it. Their stories will move you to tears, make you thankful for the sheer magic that is the human spirit, and bring so much joy into your heart that you’ll realize you’re clutching your hand to your chest just to feel it beating, and you didn’t even notice that you put it there. Being conscious of what you support, even through such simple actions as buying a bracelet or necklace for a loved one, can literally impact entire communities halfway around the world.”

Impact an entire community by supporting companies like 31 Bits. Every purchase is life-changing.

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Hayden + John

June 10, 2015

Hayden and John of Tuscaloosa, AL wed at the beautiful location of Stonewood Farms. With a touch of southern charm, the chateau style home made for a lovely location. Blush pink was the feature hue of the event.

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The Details:

Photography: 2b Photography 

Florals: Connie Taylor

Venue: Stonewood Farms

Makeup: Anna Catharine Rutherford

Hair: Danielle Ivy

Wedding Planner: Taylor Crute of Mobile, AL

Spring Cleaning: Give Back

March 30, 2015

picture from lemonstripes.comWhile the winter was a cozy time of warm layers and comfort food, the cold weather has made us ready for spring. We are excited about this new season, and what better way to get prepared than to do some spring cleaning.

As you begin the challenge of cleaning out closets consider these options:

1: Host a Clothing Swap 

Host a clothing swap at your house! What you consider trash, your friends may consider a treasure. This is a fun way to get rid of items you no longer want but find ones that you love or may need (free of charge, of course.)

In the past, we have partnered with Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved and have had a blast!

Here are a few tips we have discovered along the way:

- Invite friends with similar taste

- Be clear on what is swap worthy in your invite

- Organize the shopping area in categories: dresses, jeans, blouses, jewelry, purses, etc.

- Donate leftover items: Goodwill and Salvation Army are among the numerous places to donate.

2: Donate 

Donate unwanted items that are in still good condition. Here are a few local nonprofits that are specific to women in the Birmingham area.

1. Operation Prom Dress – Their mission is to provide fashionable formal gowns to  girls who are unable to purchase their own dance attire.

2. Jessie’s Place- A safe haven for women and children, this shelter welcomes clothing of any kind.

3. My Sister’s Closet of the YWCA – This clothes closet is designed to assist women who are in need of career clothes for job interviews and new employment.

Ask yourself these questions when cleaning out your closet for the spring:

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 image via TheEveryGirl.com

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Britt on Twitter

Dar + Matt

March 12, 2015

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Spring is around the corner and that means wedding season is in. We are excited to begin a new series of Birmingham brides and weddings. There are many unique and beautiful venues to choose from in the city, and we want to share with you what other Birmingham brides are doing.

Our first feature is of a multicultural wedding featuring Darshika and Matthew. “The wedding was the perfect blend of American and Indian tradition and celebration! The photography style followed suit of the ceremonies with a beautiful dance of candids and portraits. A peacock inspired color pallet, delicately beaded gowns, sapphire studded ring set, and the golden rays of the sun made for an elegant day, ” said Becca Bell of 2b Photography.

The Details:

Photography: 2b Photography
Wedding Planning & Design: Tres Beau Weddings
Venue: Aldridge Gardens
Catering: Happy Catering
Florals: Studio Flower
Cake: Magic Muffins
Wedding Henna: Blue Lotus Mehndi
Hair & Makeup: Morgan Ashley Salon
Cinematography: Main Street Productions
Officiant & DJ Services: Dr. Kelsey Graham

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Article by Brittany Windle

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