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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 

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.

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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

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.

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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

March 14, 2014

Birmingham, AL is filled with interesting people and businesses. Our Instagram feed is one of our favorite spots to stop when looking for inspiration and beauty.

Here are our favorite 4 Birmingham Instragrammers (is that a word?):

1. Morgan Trinker

Morgan is a local photographer. Her photography is mesmerizing, and her taste is impeccable. We love what she has done with her new home! Thanks for sharing, Morgan.

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2. Harold & Mod

If you love vintage, you need to follow Harold and Mod, a vintage lifestyle brand. We love their retro, funky style and unique finds.

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3. Carrie Beth Taylor

A local water color artist, Carrie Beth Taylor, has truly made a name for herself. Her feminine prints and flirty stationary will inspire you to get out a pen and write a letter to a loved one. Her style is trendy yet classic, and we can’t get enough of her Instagram pictures!

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4. Soca Clothing

Soca Clothing, located in Homewood, is pretty savvy when it comes to social media. Stay up to date on all their great fashion and new arrivals.

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Brittany Windle

Follow Britt on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

A Real Reality Check

February 3, 2014

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - Season 4

America: the land of the free and overnight reality stars. Anyone can be a star these days from the Housewives of Wherever to Amish Mafia. What are most of these people famous? Yet, millions of Americans tune in to soak in the latest drama that is the farthest from reality. I admit; I’m one of them.

What impression does this really give to people? Even shows like American Idol, which I do find entertaining, are portraying that success is quick, cheap, and easy. When was the last time you heard of someone working hard to gain the credibility that they have?

You’ve done it before. You’ll get really excited about something, try, and when it doesn’t happen fast, you give up. Can I blame you? I’ve done it, too, a thousand times! Unfortunately, it is a trend of our culture.

You may be thinking, “Great… This is another ‘Follow Your Dreams’ speech!” No, but what I am saying is find your dream, your goal, your cause, and COMMIT.

I recently watched a young man on the Bonnie Hunt show tell his story of how he became a successful actor. He knew what he wanted to do, so he decided to surround himself with people who were committed to the same thing. The closest he got to acting at the time was working at a gift shop on a film set. How did folding clothes and doing inventory get him in the movies?

He eventually tried out for a part. Because of his acting skills and networking with the people he encountered, he landed a role along side of Denzel Washinginton.

How long did he work at the gift shop? I don’t know. What did he do before that? I don’t know that either. I do know that he said something that was key. He surrounded himself with people who were committed to the same thing he was committed to and stuck with it (even if that meant serving the people that he hoped he would become like one day).

If you want to be a writer for a major magazine or even start your own, the closest thing you may get to doing that at first is being an intern. Making coffee and filing may not be glamorous, but it’s one step closer to where you want to be.

Most people who are successful have put in the hard work that is necessary. They probably didn’t start at the top of their game, but what they did do is commit!

Now think about that one thing that you really want to see happen. Whatever it is, keep that dream. Now, throw away the mentality of microwave success. Next, surround yourself with people who want the same thing, even if it’s starting at the bottom. Commit to it, and see what happens. I dare you!

Brittany Windle

Follow her on Twitter.