Tag Archives: Birmingham

Favorites to Follow on Instagram

August 15, 2017

It’s no surprise that Instagram is one of our favorite sources for inspiration. We’ve rounded up a list of our current favorites to follow, some of which are our very own Birmingham locals. We think they’ll inspire you, too.

@BrittanyBMassey- Brittany Massey is a freelance hair and makeup stylist and one of the cutest moms we’ve ever seen! She makes motherhood look effortlessly stylish and fun! From makeup transformations and outfit ideas to a glimpse into her family life, Brittany is one to follow.

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@Megan_Larussa – Style coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth is the Southeast’s top expert in “dressing for the life you desire.”  We love her Instagram filled with daily style hacks, confidence tips, and more. Be sure to check out her Back-to-School shoppable guide for every mom!

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@StudioMcGee – We love this husband-wife owned interior design studio and online store. If you like pretty pictures of dream interiors, then follow this duo for inspiring decorating ideas and video tips, too.

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studio mcgee

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 

Sweet Southern Roots

November 18, 2016

Luv Cooks

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from the kitchen of Callie Blount of Luv Cooks – see recipe at bottom.

 

Growing up in the Deep South, I was surrounded by great food. It was and still is at the center of all family gatherings.  My sisters and I had the privilege of eating fresh vegetables from the garden almost every meal. We always ate buffet style: Squash, okra, green beans, and collards colorfully decorated the stove top. Of course, at least one of them was hand-battered and fried in my dad’s secret recipe. I never realized how special it was until I didn’t have it everyday. (Ahh, adulthood!) The thought of starting a garden is daunting.

However, I haven’t always valued the things that have signified my Southern roots. I’ll never forget the first time I was taunted for my accent. I tried desperately in college to change it. Around certain people, I would talk less and softer just to avoid being called out. I hated it. I’ve since then managed to pronounce certain words correctly, but my vowels are still slow and long and Southern as sweet tea. People point it out occasionally.

And then it was my small town I grew up in that I never wanted to admit I was from. I’ve always lived by the mantra, “Just because you’re from a small town doesn’t mean you’re small minded.” I didn’t want to be stereotyped by a classist. I’m intrigued by other cultures and consider myself to have a broad worldview. I used to cringe when someone asked the question, “Where are you from?”

My town is infamous for landmarks like The Booby Trap and the Carrie Lawson case where theorists claim her body was dumped in the depth of Smith Lake. Apparently, that’s where all bodies are cast, probably by the hitman that you can hire for just a case of beer. (Seriously, this is a known fact.) Most recently, we became famous when National Geographic aired a special about the “Sipsey Wilderness Creature.” The hour long docuseries is of a man recalling his experience with an animal that is as closely related to Big Foot as you could find. Walker County doesn’t exactly have the best reputation.

Luv Cooks

The Spicy Chocolate Sweetie- Pie from Laura Chancey of Humble Pie- scroll down for recipe.

But what I see when I think of my childhood is my cousin and I crafting mud pies and topping them off with wild flowers; playing hours outside until dark; leaping from hay bale to hay bale with my sisters; sneaking vanilla wafers from my great grandmother’s cookie jar; and my dad making us pick vegetables from the garden in the sweltering summer heat. (Have you ever “looked” peas? It’s pretty dreadful!)

Goodness, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My childhood home sits beautifully in a large field and the cows peacefully in the neighboring farm.

No, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I see that now, and I’m not so ashamed of my Southern drawl. I’m still going to say “y’all.” It’s a part of me, and, apparently, it’s not going anywhere no matter how hard I try. And as for my small town, I’m not sure I’d be who I am without it. I wouldn’t value simplicity or relish in the small things.

This Thanksgiving, I’m going to attempt to make my great aunt’s fried apple pies, not just because they are mouth watering good. But rather, because they symbolize tradition, love and hard work – treasures I want to preserve.

I’m thankful for my Southern roots. That may be the first time I’ve ever said that.

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In honor of Thanksgiving, tradition, and family, I thought I’d share with you two recipes from two sweet Southern women, Callie Blount of Luv Cooks and Laura Chancey from Humble Pie. They both formed their love for cooking at an early age while learning and watching their grandmothers in the kitchen.

For the Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies above, click here. See below for Laura’s Spicy Chocolate Sweetie-Pie.

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Chocolate Pie Dough

What You Will Need

- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
- 1/2 cup ice plus 1/2 cup water to make super cold ice water

What You Will Do

1. Whisk the first 4 ingredients together, then with a pastry knife cut the butter into the flour mix until it resembles small pebbles.
2. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time, using a wooden spoon to incorporate it in.
3. When the mixture starts to resemble dough, form a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or if you’re impatient, like me, freeze for at least 30 minutes.)
Note: When you’re ready to begin making the pie, roll the dough out first, put it into the baking dish, poke the bottom with a fork about 10-15 times, and then stick the dish in the freezer until your filling is ready.

 

For full recipe and the story behind Laura and Humble Pie, click here.

Brittany Windle

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

 

Inspire Us Bham

February 9, 2016

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The Inspire Us Bham project was started by Laura Jett Walker, a wedding photographer, and Kali Peirsall, a wedding videographer. “ A 2005 car wreck left Piersall with a prominent scar on her forehead. Wouldn’t it be neat, she said, if Walker captured her in a makeup-free portrait?”

This conversation inspired the fun duo to host an event and photo shoot of 20 to 30 women all makeup free, celebrating raw beauty and the stories behind these inspiring women.

Piersall and Walker say their goal is to celebrate women and their individuality. “‘We’re all about people being different,’ Piersall says. ‘There’s a lot of jobs the Lord’s given me and given Laura. But judging people isn’t one of them.’”

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Kerri, one of the many women involved in the project, tells her story of helping other women accept their uniqueness.

On Feb. 15, Walker will photograph these women and document each story. Applications are now closed, but you can join the event at The Nest in Avondale from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. We’ll be there!

Read Kerri’s story and many others here, and stay tuned for the release of the project!

(Sources: Al.com)

Thanksgiving Serve

November 6, 2015

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“If you don’t post it on social media, it never happened” is a common misconception. It can be extremely easy to lose sight of what’s important with the way the media has helped play a role in distracting us. The need to post everything we do from what we ate that night to a rant on presidential elections are among the themes we see on our Facebook news feeds. Some things should be left unseen and unheard. Unfortunately, privacy no longer exists.

Social media often fuels the selfish nature of man. Self is gloried at every turn. While the need to be outwardly beautiful is every person’s desire, this need has become an obsession to the point that many can’t post a picture without first editing and tweaking. Instagram accounts look like editorial features from magazines ranging from Cosmo to Southern Living.

“If you don’t have a crisp, white kitchen, wreaths decorated with burlap, and you and your children looking as if you’ve stepped out of J. Crew, you’re nothing,” a friend joked as we were talking about social media expectations.

What if the time we spent in front of the mirror or retaking a photo was spent serving others? What if we decided to create a balance, “unfollow” those who cause us to compare? What if we didn’t think about self so much but the person we may have passed by at the grocery store who needed help with their bags? Did we notice the homeless woman sitting outside that department store?

An act of service may not be seen or heard by a crowd of many. But the impact it has on an individual far outweighs the “likes” your selfie may receive.

Sometimes I have to remind myself what it’s all about. The expectations of the media and the self absorption it has helped create can be exhausting. To set myself aside, serve a person less fortunate puts things into perspective.

And if no one sees it or hears it, it still happened…. and best of all, it could be life changing to someone who really needs it.

Join me this Thanksgiving in serving those in the Birmingham area. Listed below are service opportunities hosted by several organizations in the city.

1. Church of the Highlands

2. Hands on Birmingham 

3. Jimmie Hale Mission

4. The Community Kitchens of Birmingham

5. First Light Shelter

6. See this list of Food Pantries in Birmingham for service opportunities.

7. Check out the Homeless Shelter Directory for a list of shelters in the state of Alabama.

* If the service opportunity isn’t on the website, call the location to inquire.

Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Quote and Photo: TryLife

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

Favorite Four to Follow

June 5, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s why we love Instagram. These fantastic four inspire us from their healthy living tips and motivating words to their images that simply make us smile.

Heather Brown

A local blogger and social media expert, Heather has made her mark in Birmingham. My Life Well Loved is a lifestyle blog featuring healthy living, style, and recipes. We love her new “Style the Bump” series. We can’t wait for the arrival of Baby Brown!

My life well loved

My life well loved

The EveryGirl

Ranked by Forbes as a Top 100 Website for Women, TheEverygirl.com is the life map for Everygirls everywhere.

The Every Girl

Toast Meets World

Toast is a King Charles puppymill rescue. The instagram account is full of adorable pictures that will make you smile and remind you of such a great cause.

Toast Meets World

Toast Meets World

Kayla Itsines

Kayla is a personal trainer and author of Bikini Body Guide. She has been seen in magazines including Marie Claire and Elle. Her motivation helps women of all walks of life from those desiring to lose weight and those like she who struggled with being underweight. Her account is sprinkled with inspirational quotes, before and after pictures and yummy recipe ideas.

Kayla Itsines

Kayla Itsines

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.