Category Archives: Style & Substance

Callie Blount of Luv Cooks

October 20, 2015

callie blount - 2b photography

callie blount - 2b photography

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.

callie blount- 2b photography

callie blount- 2b photo

“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

Lauren Walsh

February 18, 2015

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Lauren Walsh

When meeting Lauren Walsh, the first thing one may notice is her contagious smile and positive attitude. You may recognize her on Birmingham’s ABC 33/40 News. Originally from Florida and moving from Augusta, Georgia, Lauren made a career move to the Magic City.

We admire her ambition and were excited to have a coffee date with her and her precious pup, Sophie.

What days/times can we find you reporting? 
My normal schedule is Monday through Friday at 4,5 & 6 in the evening. You can follow my stories on Twitter @LaurenWalshTV.

What was your transition like from Florida to Birmingham? What do you like most about the Magic CIty? Can you give any advice to those who relocating for a career?
Birmingham is MUCH colder, especially this week! I miss the Florida sunshine and the beach but I love Birmingham. Everyone is so nice and friendly.

My first reporting job was in Augusta, Georgia, so this is my second time moving to a new, unfamiliar place for my career.  My advice is to get plugged into a church. Volunteer. Join activities like Young Professionals or a kick ball league (I’m doing both here). Building a network of friends in a new place is essential to make it feel like home.

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Lauren Walsh- 2b

What is your favorite part about your job?
A reporter’s day is spent in the community, meeting new people and sharing their stories.  I never stop learning. It is something new each day. Yesterday I did a story explaining the judicial process ahead for gay marriage. Today I interviewed the most adorable four year old for a story about the Transplant Center at Children’s of Alabama.

One of my favorite journalism quotes is from Mike Wallace: “It’s astonishing what you learn and feel and see along the way. That’s why a reporter’s job, as you know, is such a joy.”

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
There are too many to list! I will always remember my first trip to Washington D.C. to report on Capitol Hill. I am a nerd for politics! When I was in Augusta, I also had the opportunity to cover the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. It is beautiful beyond words! I became a golf fan my first day on the course.

What advice can you give to other women who are pursuing their dream job?
Persistence is key. Rule out excuses and do not accept no for an answer. There were days in college where I worked at the coffee shop in the morning, then went to intern at a local TV station until 11:30 at night, then went home to study for class the next day. You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. Also, find a way to set yourself apart from others competing for the same job.

 

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What quality is most beautiful in a woman? How do you define beauty for yourself?
A woman who loves Jesus is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite bible verses is Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

When you love the Lord, you can’t help but host more beautiful qualities, like confidence and kindness. I love women who are confident in who they are, and don’t feel the need to compare themselves to others.

I believe being beautiful is being able to love yourself through your flaws. Nobody’s perfect.

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What’s in your purse?
My purse is big because it doubles as a camera bag! It totes equipment like microphones and batteries during my workday. You’ll usually find it with a Clinique chubby stick, two iphones (personal and work), a hair brush, my Kate Spade Wallet, a notepad and a pen (a reporter’s best friends), mints, hand lotion and business cards.

What are your can’t-live-without beauty products?
My Clarisonic. They are expensive but worth every penny. I use it with Clinique’s skin care line.
My friend Meaghan recently gifted me fiber lash mascara. It is magic in a bottle! There are two steps. First you put on a gel as you would regular mascara. The second step is brushing fibers on! It makes your lashes look so long!

Lauren Walsh 2b

Lauren Walsh- 2b Lauren Walsh 2b

What’s the story behind Sophie? 
I had been planning on adopting a dog for a while. The weekend I planned to go to the humane society just so happened to be three days after a tough, completely unexpected break up. I got Sophie from a group called Two by Two, which had a booth set up at Pet Smart. They found her in the woods covered in mange. Even though I adopted Sophie, she actually helped me more. She gave me unconditional love during a time of heartbreak. She’s my best friend!

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Photography: Becca Bell of 2b Photography

Location: Thanks to Hart & Soul in Homewood, AL

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Mary Stackhouse of Laylon

February 4, 2015

 

Mary Stackhouse

Mary sat down in front of me at Starbucks for Sunday afternoon coffee. I asked her to meet with me after being introduced by a mutual friend. I’ll admit that I had been following her fashion blog long before we met in person. I warned her that I would be in workout clothes, seeing it was my day to relax and gather my thoughts for the week.

She came in casual attire as well- jeans, tennis shoes and a plaid scarf (I was dying to know where she bought it). Somehow, though, she looked more pulled together than most do in a cocktail dress.

I was struck by her grace and poise. It’s the kind that can’t be taught even by the best of etiquette coaches. She’s the type many envy for her exterior beauty and impeccable style. Yet,  it’s her authenticity and no-apology-attitude that I was impressed with the most. The juxtaposition of the two is quite breathtaking.

Many may know her as a fashion blogger behind Laylon. This new year, she gave her site a fresh look and purpose, with a focus more on lifestyle content. Don’t worry. She’s still sharing her fashion finds and outfit inspirations.

I was eager to introduce you to Mary, and in what better setting than her home? I’m glad she obliged.

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What are your favorite places in Birmingham for a night out? What’s an
ideal Saturday look like to you?

For a night out, I love going to dinner with friends. Pretty simple, but I can have a good time doing just about anything with great company. I like Chez Fon Fon, Dram, Five, El Barrio, and Slice. I love trying new places! An ideal Saturday would involve a coffee date with a friend earlier in the day, a good workout in the afternoon, and a fun dinner that night.

What is your day job? How do you balance your lifestyle blog and work?

I’m an account executive for Martin Advertising, where I’m responsible for managing the Allstate and Scholarship for Kids accounts. I find balance by waking up every morning and setting aside an hour to spend in prayer and devotion. Ever since I started doing this, I’ve had so much clarity, and I’ve found that I can accomplish more in less time. It also helps guard me against becoming a slave to work and ambition, which is no life at all.

Mary Stackhouse

What quality is most beautiful in a woman? How do you define beauty
for yourself?

I think dignity is the most beautiful quality in a woman. A woman with dignity is strong because she has self-control. She isn’t ruled by her emotions. Instead, she is solid in her convictions. She is marked with self-respect, and thus, others respect her. It’s an honorable, worthy quality that people are drawn to. It makes me sad when women don’t respect themselves. It’s important to take a look at where in life you are seeking your worth. My strength and confidence comes from Christ, and from that, I believe dignity and strength will naturally follow.

I also think a woman is beautiful when she can build up other women. Gossip tears people down, and it stems from insecurity. Having an uplifting spirit is an amazing quality! You can be such a blessing to others. Several months ago, I was touched by a girlfriend who shared a success about me on her Facebook page. We were new in our friendship, so I was still getting to know her, but I loved that she could celebrate in my achievement… and publicly for that matter! I immediately knew she had confidence in herself. A confident woman is free to build others up because she isn’t hindered by insecurity.

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Mary Stackhouse BnW (32 of 50)

With the pressures of the media bombarding women to look a certain way, how do you keep a healthy balance?

Healthy balance is very important. I think it’s a good idea to limit your intake of the messages the media and pop culture bombard us with. I don’t watch TV for this reason. So much of it is trash. I don’t want that in my head. I’m not saying there aren’t good shows and movies out there, but it’s good to be conscious so that you don’t base your reality on what you’re taking in.

What is your advice for young professionals in the dating world?

If you don’t like being alone, learn to like it. Don’t date until you reach that place. I’ve made the decision not to date this year. I want to see how God will use my singleness as a positive thing for His kingdom work on earth. I’m excited about it! Some people look at me like I’m nuts when I tell them I’m not dating this year, but is it really that hard to follow through with? I don’t think so. I practiced abstinence before I got married. I’m divorced now, and I still practice it and will continue to unless I get married again. It’s not that hard. You don’t have to do what you think everyone else is doing. Who cares what other people think! Love yourself, look to the Lord for strength, and be strong in your convictions. When you are a strong person, you will stand out, and people will be attracted to that. Trust me on that one!

Mary Stackhouse

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What’s in your purse? 

My purse is a bottomless pit! I’m amazed by what I pull out of it sometimes. Going through it now, here is what I’ve found: two pairs of sunglasses, my makeup bag, random jewelry, three cell phones, a lock, business card holder, mail, nail polish, and a duck call!

What are your favorite, can’t-live-without beauty products?

Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo! The dry powder formula. I usually buy it in bulk. Keeps hair fresh and adds volume in between washes. White teeth are a priority, so I use Crest Advanced Whitening Toothpaste and Whitening Rinse multiple times a day. Can’t live without the mouthwash! As for makeup, Kismet Cosmetics lipstick and nail polish every day. Long lasting, and I love the shades. I was blogging about it so much that the creator of Kismet asked me to be the Birmingham sales rep, so now I sell it!

Photography: Birmingham based photographer Devanshu Kaushik

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Britt on Twitter.

Favorite Four to Follow

January 4, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s why we love Instagram. These fantastic four inspire us with their beautiful images from fashion and interior design to powerful and moving messages.

Mary Stackhouse: Laylon Beauty

Based in Birmingham, AL, Mary’s take on fashion in a Southern city is definitely forward thinking. Not only does she have exquisite taste, but she’s also beautiful. What’s not to love?

Mary Stackhouse

Mary Stackhouse

Bethany Joy Lenz

You may remember her as Haley James Scott on the beloved the television show One Tree Hill. We are inspired by her passion for women’s rights, and we fancy her vintage finds as well.

Bethany Joy Lenz

Bethany Joy Lenz

Taylor Sterling: The Glitter Guide

We’ve always been a fan of Taylor. As she embarks on a new journey of motherhood, she makes it looks effortless. Her lifestyle website also features impeccable interior design and every day inspirations.

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Alexis Jones: I Am That Girl

Alexis Jones is an author, activitist and founder of I AM THAT Girl. I AM THAT GIRL is helping girls to transform self-doubt in to self-love by providing a safe space to be lifted up and have honest conversations about things that matter. Of course, we love what Alexis stands for, and we love following her daily postings!

Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones

Monogram Love-Shop Memento

July 14, 2014

GROUP ROBES

As a southern girl, I am obviously obsessed with monograms. I stumbled across Shop Memento on Twitter (@shopmemento) and immediately fell in love with their monogrammed frocket tees, boot socks, clutches and practically everything they had on their website (shopmemento.com), but more importantly, I fell in love with their amazing service, Godly values and overall genuine love for their brand and customers.
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Meet my online monogram love- SHOP MEMENTO!

Memento, LLC was launched in 2007 by Terri Johnson – a woman with a dream who never settled for anything less than excellence.

Terri had a vision to offer products that represent a person’s legacy, individual taste, or, makes a unique statement about an individual’s spirit & character. It’s a timeless reminder of a special moment, person, place or time. It’s a gift that’s fun & creates smiles and laughter.

Terri Johnson-Owner

Terri Johnson-Owner


Memento, LLC began in Terri’s basement with just one commercial embroidery machine. She wore all the hats – Customer Service Representative, Production Coordinator, Shipper, Cleaner, Embroiderer, etc. By 2010, Terri had 3 embroidery machines was able to hire seasonal helpers during Christmas and the peak seasons. In August 2011, she hired her first full time employee. In April of 2012, she moved into her first commercial space and began the Greek life branch of Memento, Greek Life Girl. Now in June of 2014, Terri is in a 5000 sq ft commercial space with 11 employees.

Perfect for summer!

Perfect for summer!


Terri continues to strive to provide each and every customer with outstanding customer service, a personalized online shopping experience, and a variety of unique products which you can only find at Memento.

“Your spark, passion, and drive is a song only you can write, If you don’t play it the world can’t hear it.” -Terri Johnson, TJD

Check Shop Memento out on Twitter, Instagram and online! You won’t be disappointed!
@shopmemento
www.shopmemento.com

Brynlea Cunniff

Hide Your Crazy

June 27, 2014

hide your crazy

You’ve been wronged. Severely wronged. Falsely accused. Judged. Hurt.

You want justice, right? You want to see that person get what’s coming to them. YOU WANT THEM TO SUFFER BECAUSE YOU ARE SUFFERING. I think we’ve all been there-we become defensive, run our mouths, get loud, seek revenge, plot out the oppressor’s demise. It feels grrrrrrreat! Sound the Rocky theme song!

But then what? What gets accomplished? Are you truly satisfied?

In my experience, the eye-for-an-eye/take-off-your-heels-and-arm-yourself method never puts out the fire blazing in my heart, mind and soul. Never. It simply causes a wildfire not only within myself, but it consumes everything and everyone around me. My testimony is ruined. I am simply not a better person. I am not healed. I am not satisfied.

In March, I went through one of the most trying times in my life. Wait, let me correct that- THE most horrible time of my life-especially as a teacher. Wrongly treated is a complete understatement. I never knew that people could be so unjust, prideful, illogical and down right cruel. I definitely experienced a teacher’s worst nightmare-parent/student anonymity, a meme posted on social media taken out of context, unsupportive administration and politics. After the incident happened, I felt my heart sink like the heaviest ship on the sea. Waves were crashing around me. I was drowning. Can’t. Get. Air. Feeling abandoned,I was left out in the cold to defend for my livelihood, my career, and my reputation.

I truly didn’t understand why God was doing this to me-why he was letting it happen. I could understand if I was in the wrong, BUT I WAS NOT. And it SUCKED. I was an amazing teacher (yes, I’m tooting my beautifully-polished horn because it’s true). My evaluations (18 for the year to be exact) were all glowing beacons of light illuminating my success as a teacher in the classroom. I loved my kiddos of all races, backgrounds, personalities and abilities. I simply loved teaching. But sadly, in today’s education world, that isn’t enough.

And if that drama wasn’t enough, my beloved grandma passed away, and I was in a fender-bender-all within the same month. It was just too much. TOO MUCH.

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I had two paths to choose from-the one less traveled or the jam-packed highway of human nature. How I chose to handle this situation at school truly made all the difference-not only in my professional life, but as a person. Was I hurt? YES. Was I angry? YES, YES. Did I want to run up and down the halls revealing the story of my injustice and the truth to every single teacher and student? YES, YES, YES. Did I want to slap the teacher who started running her mouth spreading gossip about something she knew nothing about? YES, YES, YES, YES! But what good would it do for me to allow all of this fuming anger, betrayal and sadness to control me? Nothing. So, I chose to rise above. I chose to handle everything and everyone with dignity and class. I chose to hide my crazy and act like a lady. I chose to trust God with it ALL. I allowed HIM to be my defender, my judge, but more importantly, I allowed Him to be THEIR JUDGE. And you know what?

It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I finished out the year in a blaze of glory. I was nominated for a teacher celebration event, made the top 10 at the local mall, walked a fashion show and even won (let me tell you-I had to giggle as the odds were stacked against me). It was clear that my actions were being acknowledged and blessed by the Big Man upstairs. After feeling like a failure, my efforts and passion for teaching were applauded. I also received news that the healthy project I had been working on for months for our school was accepted-I helped earn $7000 and an amazing title of Healthy Zone School for my campus (even though I wouldn’t be there to enjoy the new benefits, I was pumped.)

More important than all this recognition and success, I accomplished the most amazing thing ever-I chose to be humble. I chose to bite my tongue and keep my mouth shut, extend grace and show respect to people that I felt didn’t even deserve it, and relinquish all human instincts to fight. Through this, I learned so much about myself. It was truly remarkable. It felt like I had won-I had passed the hardest test of my life. I was able to shine like a diamond-separate myself from the norm. I chose to react in a God-like manner and because of that, I was, in essence, victorious. That was my justice.

I FOLLOWED MIRANDA LAMBERT’S ADVICE-I HID MY CRAZY AND ACTED LIKE A LADY-BEST DECISION EVER! I am now living my dream-fashion, fashion, and more fashion! If this unfortunate event hadn’t happened, I would have probably chosen to stay in my comfort zone. I’m about to be 30 and enter a brand new FABULOUS chapter of my life. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not a single thing!

Brynlea Cunniff

InstaSEXagram

April 9, 2014

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Since the widespread of Instagram, I’m noticing more and more women showcasing their bodies… and their goodies- not just their fit, toned selves in workout gear, but hyper-sexualized pictures. Take the “fitspo” and “fitnessmotivation” trends and the pictures that accompany them for example. Who wears a thong and lace push-up bra in full hair and makeup while doing tricep kick-backs on a bench in the gym ? NO ONE.

What message are women sending these days? Has vanity overtaken our society? What about the girls of future generations? I fear that the answers to these questions are what women have been fighting against for decades.

What message are women sending these days? These risque pictures (in hopes of getting “likes” and “comments”) are leaving nothing to the imagination; they send universal approval to men to lust and sexualize women. Women of today are adding to the over-sexed hype that our culture has set as a standard. As if it hasn’t gotten bad enough through commercial media, we as women are adding to this standard by means of social media. We are counteracting what we have been wanting for years and years to happen-to be taken seriously, given equal opportunities as men and to not be looked at as a mere sex object. Instagram is a sea of semi-nude women in sexually explicit poses, and we are to blame. Women are posting these.

Has vanity overtaken our society? I get it-I love style and fashion. I post #ootds (not with my face in them) and the occasional “selfie” (rare), and some days, quite frankly, I just feel beautiful! However, my first reaction is not to take 100 photos just to capture that one perfect look to post on Instagram. I have a confidence that came from years and years of experience, self-reflection and self-acceptance. Today, women have become self-absorbed; hovering over their heads is an unhealthy pressure to capture how beautiful their hair looks or how amazingly flawless their makeup is or how tight their booty is getting. Very often it’s captioned with a insightful quote that has nothing to do with the fact that they are posting a picture out of vanity just to get approval.

What about the girls of future generations? They are the ones most engulfed by this. I teach freshman in high school. I see girls taking selfies in the bathroom, walking to class, and sadly sometimes in my classroom before the bell rings. It’s a norm for them-to post pictures on Instagram, tweet on Twitter and make videos for Vine. The scary thing is, how will they know when to draw the line between innocent pictures and delving into the more sexualized photos? Which picture would get more likes? I think we all know the answer to that question.

My hope for young ladies and women all around the world is for them to know that they don’t have to post pictures of any kind  in order to gain approval. I want them to know that their beauty doesn’t rely on the number of “likes” or “comments” of social media. I want them to find inner-confidence, self-control and more importantly, self-respect.

So, think before you post. Think before you envy that girl in the tiny black bikini working out at the gym. I just have to giggle at those.

~ Brynlea Cunniff

Follow Brynlea on Twitter.

Stylish Spaces: Redmont Gardens

January 17, 2014

One of the many reasons I love Birmingham is the charm that exudes the homes and historic buildings. Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham, is exquisite with cobble stone streets filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques, shops, and eateries. The Birmingham Zoo and Botanical Gardens are only a walk away in this lovely neighborhood.

Drawn to vintage, I knew exactly where I’d live when it was time to move: Redmont Gardens in English Village. I knew that my family’s heirlooms would fit perfectly in the 1920′s quaint apartment. The original ceramic kitchen sink along with its delicate French doors are among the features of this charmer. My most treasured items finally have a new home.

2b Photography

2b Photography

2b Photography

 

2b Photography

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2b Photography

 

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Visit moxii.com for bedding and decorative pillows like the ones seen above.

Photos courtesy of 2B Photography.

Brittany Windle

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Style & Substance: Sarah Mason

November 22, 2013

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A note by the door bell reads: “Do not ring. Children sleeping.” Knocking, I am greeted by three year old Alice with a warm smile, she still in her pajamas. Her tasseled hair falls gently across her face, and behind her is Sarah, her mother. She hugs me, and I am reminded of her genuine and authentic self. I first met Sarah and her husband, Will, at Redstone Church. These two are the perfect duo with their apparent chemistry on stage along with their impeccable talent both in singing and instrumentally. Sarah and Will are owners of Mason Music with two locations in Cahaba Heights and Mountain Brook, AL.

Sarah looked effortlessly beautiful, and she always does. She’s able to create an outfit which looks comfortable, trendy and classic all at the same time. I am in awe of how she makes it look so easy and fun:  mother, business owner, music teacher, and worship leader.

Her effortless style goes beyond her clothing but to her home as well. Splashes of color through art work, drapes and pillows make each room unique, classic and comfortable.

Will&Sarah

Sarah, and her husband, Will.

“The story of Mason Music began when Will and Sarah met in 2006. Home from touring nationally as the guitarist for Moses Mayfield, Will was introduced to Sarah while she was visiting Birmingham on her summer break from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Almost immediately, the young couple began writing and performing music together.” (Read the rest of their story here).

Sarah, a woman of style and substance, was my first pick for this column. As she welcomed us into her home, she gracefully answered our questions on balancing life and defining what beauty means to her.

What are your favorite places in Birmingham for a night out with WIll?
When it comes to date nights, I really enjoy either staying in Cahaba Heights and hitting up Mudtown or the Olive Branch, or going downtown. When we decide to venture out, we enjoy trying new places. We love going to concerts when we can and try to support local musicians.

Playroom1Play RoomHow do you balance work and family?

Finding a balance between work and family is a challenge. Owning a business with my husband is rewarding, fun, exciting, and also causes a lot of bickering. I have chosen not to put my kids into full time daycare because I really want to invest in their lives while they are young. Since I am with them a big part of the week, my husband  puts more time into the family business. When I start to feel like work is taking over my life, I try to remind myself that the time I have with my kids is limited, and they are more important than any business I will ever be a part of.

What advice can you give future entrepreneurs?

If you have a desire to start a business, do what comes naturally to you. For me it was music. I realized that I had a gift for teaching, and there was a need in the community for a teacher like me. Will started teaching guitar lessons while I taught piano and voice, and things just grew from there. In order to build a successful business you need to find a mentor who knows a lot. We had a great guy who helped motivate us and give us great inspiration. You need to be willing to take risks with your money and time. You need to be good at networking and building relationships. These are the main things that helped Will and I as we started our company.

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What quality is most beautiful in women? How do you define beauty for yourself?

I think a confident woman is a beautiful woman. It doesn’t matter what she looks like on the outside or what she is wearing. Confidence is super attractive. Beauty is a person’s idea of what is pleasing to the eye… I think most “beautiful” women have attractive faces and bodies, but how can we tell they are beautiful just by looking? I think you have to know a person before you can qualify them as beautiful.

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Sarah’s favorite room in her house, the guest bedroom, is adorned in all white with hints of blue on the handmade quilt.

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With the pressures of the media bombarding women to look a certain way, how do you keep a healthy balance?

I try to remind myself that I am a unique individual. I don’t have to compare myself to the women I see in the media. If there is someone that I admire for their talents and abilities, I think it’s okay to notice what style choices they are making and wearing. It becomes too much when we start to idolize people that are famous, or the images of women we see.Like I said before, it all comes back to confidence. If you are confident in who you are, people will find you more attractive.

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 ~ Brittany Windle

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