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7 Musts to Look for in a Spouse

July 29, 2015

2b PhotographyLast night I met a close girl friend at the eclectic Mexican restaurant one street over from where I live. We normally have our weekly talks at the gym after church on Sundays.

“I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone like that,” she confessed as she was telling me about the ex that was reaching out to her. We all saw that coming. He’d realize he made a mistake and come crawling back. We, humans, are so predictable.

The first three to five months are what many people call the “honeymoon” stage: sweaty palms, butterflies, and blindness. Seriously, we are blind. It’s not because the person is always hiding their flaws or bad habits, although some do. My girl friend would often smell cigarette smoke in his bathroom. The funny thing is that smoking was not a deal breaker to her. Even if they aren’t hiding anything, we are blind because we simply don’t know that person yet.

We often can only see the good and admire the qualities we like in that person. The focus is what they are offering us and what we have in common. Although common interests are nice, they are not paramount. This is a revelation to me.

I admit that I’m a sapiosexual. “What the heck is this?” you may ask. By definition, it is one who finds intelligence as the most sexually attractive feature (thanks, Urban Dictionary.) I’ve become so fixated on one quality or two that I overlook red flags that are waving and yelling, “Mayday, mayday!” My focus has been on our common interests and my likes and dislikes of that man (his style, his interests, intelligence, etc.)

This, to most, doesn’t seem like a problem. However, recently, I read an article in Elephant Journal that made me change my whole perspective:

“Love is more than a series of likes and dislikes, attraction and interests. If attraction is based on what you like or dislike about the person, it is a setup for failure. Likes and dislikes change over time, and remain at the surface level of human expression. Common interests change, appearances change, language change.”

Ten years ago, I didn’t know that I would absolutely love sushi and coffee. They are now my two favorite things. Ten years ago, I also bleached my hair too blonde. We change. We grow and evolve. If the sole reasons we are with someone are based on likes and dislikes, then overtime, we may not still appreciate or like those things.

“The only constant is change,” Artisan states.

So what exactly do we look for in a person if we are aren’t looking for attraction, likes and common interests alone?

Here are 7 Musts to Look for in a Potential Spouse:

1. Character – What is the integrity of that person when no one is watching?

2. Chemistry- Physical attraction. This seems self explanatory.

3. Competency- Can this person hang on to a job? Or are they always going from thing to the next?

4. Culture- Can your cultures blend? Do you have similar views on finances, education, and spirituality?

5. Commitment- If a person can’t keep a commitment with other things, then something is wrong.

6. Communication- Can you identify your own feelings and the other person’s feelings?

7. Core Values- Are your core values the same? Do you have the same beliefs?

Although intellectual conversation about literature and art is fascinating to me, it is not what will see a marriage through during its most turbulent times. And as a close friend said to me, “That type of conversation all the time sounds exhausting!”

It is the core traits that are sustaining and nurturing that should be most sought after.

Brittany Windle

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(Photo Credit: 2b Photography)

(Resource: Family Life)

TED Talks: Inspiring Women

June 25, 2015

Stories of great courage and lessons learned are the themes of these TED Talks. These speakers will remind you that no matter your story, it can and should be used for a greater purpose.

Piper Kerman

You will want to watch this TEDx talk from Piper Kerman, the woman whose memoir inspired the show Orange is the New Black.

In the talk, Kerman tells the story of how, at age 34, she was sent to federal prison for delivering drug money a decade earlier. She shares the lessons she learned on the inside — lessons about prison survival, lessons about a broken justice system, and larger lessons about life.

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Leslie Morgan Steiner was in “crazy love” — that is, madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. Steiner tells the dark story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence, and explaining how we can all help break the silence.

Meera Vijayann

This talk begins with a personal story of sexual violence that may be difficult to listen to. But that’s the point, says citizen journalist Meera Vijayann: Speaking out on tough, taboo topics is the spark for change. Vijayann uses digital media to speak honestly about her experience of gender violence in her home country of India — and calls on others to speak out too.

Sarah Kay

A performing poet since she was 14 years old, Sarah Kay is the founder of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry as a literacy and empowerment tool.

Brittany Windle

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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

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

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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:

the-everygirl-closet-cleaning

 image via TheEveryGirl.com

Article by Brittany Windle

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Dar + Matt

March 12, 2015

2b Photography

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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Timeless Beauty

March 2, 2015
modernlace

My grandmother and mother

I love words! What can I say? I’m an English teacher. I love the juxtaposition of old and new, which is where the name Modern Lace was derived. Over coffee, Brynlea and I knew exactly what modern and lace meant to us.

How do we live in this modern world yet keep the values and ideals that our grandmothers and those women we admire taught us?

I love “old” things from furniture to small nick knacks. I keep them. I look at them, and I imagine who once used them. As a matter of fact, my great grandmother’s cookbook sits atop the antique curio cabinet in my dining room.

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My grandmother taught me grace. She taught me how to move forward joyfully when things didn’t always turn out the way I expected. She would often recite poetry and sing sweet songs to me when I was a child. Sitting in her front yard on a handmade quilt with my sisters, we would look at the clouds and feel the warmth of the sun on our hot skin. She taught us how to appreciate the small joys of daily life.

To be truly beautiful in a modern world full of new technology, photoshopped images and unrealistic expectations of body images, we must remember and never forget what those timeless beauties taught us.

What women do you admire? What have they taught you?

Brittany Windle

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Lauren Walsh

February 18, 2015

Lauren Walsh- 2b
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.

Lauren Walsh- 2b

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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Lauren Walsh 2b

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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Lauren Walsh 2b

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.