Tag Archives: blog

Callie Blount of Luv Cooks

October 20, 2015

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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

The Ugly Side of Insecurity

October 1, 2015

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After interviewing the beautiful Callie Blount of Luv Cooks recently, I thought I’d re-post this article. Our conversation consisted of beauty and allowing it to be redeemed through the sometimes painful healing process. (Okay, that sounded really deep.) Stay tuned for a new Style and Substance feature with Callie.

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I scanned her picture. Okay… It wasn’t just a scan. I examined it like an investigator picks a part a crime scene. Why did her big thighs and ankles make me feel better? (She really didn’t have either). If I could find a flaw, just one flaw, it would remedy my malady: insecurity.

Insecurity is like a festering sore. At times, I allow it to begin to heal. Then I pick at it again, opening the tender wound.

[Side note: I’m not insecure in every area of my life. And I’m not the stereotypical picture either: mousy, shy or quiet.]

Insecurity has exposed a very ugly side in me at times: Jealousy, anger, and competitiveness have all derived from this evil culprit. It had to have started long ago. It didn’t just magically appear in my 29 year old self. And honestly, I’m not sure if it matters when.

But it’s there, and I know I’m not the only female who experiences it. In fact, one of my best girl friends recently admitted to looking at all of her current boyfriend’s ex’s social media outlets. “At least, I don’t have bleach blonde hair and two kids,” she taunted.

We get vicious, and treat one another like wild animals in an untamed jungle. It’s like survival of the prettiest in our superficial, sickly minds. I wonder if Darwin would have agreed.

After a heartbreaking end to a relationship a couple of years ago, I dated this so called party guy. He claimed he had changed, and I did enjoy having something to do on my now cleared agenda. His clingy ex girlfriend found my cell number and anonymously texted me one day. She was sick with insecurity, and she was beautiful. Granted, her insecurity was fueled by a noncommittal guy who kept her at arm’s length.

I’ve been trying to understand this insecurity that lurks around and rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times. Why do I feel insecure at times, and at other times, I don’t? And it occurred to me that it is when I feel most threatened, when I fear danger or loss of security.

Beth Moore in her book entitled, So Long, Insecurity, confesses to having irrational thoughts and actions, which have been fueled by insecurity. She admits that she has feared that her husband might leave her for another woman. She also admits this is an irrational fear, probably stemming from a tumultuous upbringing. However, she poses a question to her readers: What if that one thing you fear actually comes true?

She plainly states something like this: You’d be hurt, cry a bit, maybe act out a lot, then move on. And it would be okay. You would be okay.

Most of the time we are fearing things that will never happen. We hold too tightly the one thing that gives us security: looks, intelligence, sense of humor, etc. When someone threatens this thing we most associate ourselves with, we fear. However, someone’s talent doesn’t void us of our own. We are no longer pretty because the girl next to us is pretty. I’ve wasted too much time worrying and fearing the what if’s.

I want that wound to heal. And I’ll tell myself: It will be okay. I will be okay.

Brittany Windle

Follow her on Twitter.

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

Follow Brit on Twitter.

(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:

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 image via TheEveryGirl.com

Article by Brittany Windle

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Dar + Matt

March 12, 2015

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

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

The Details:

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

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Article by Brittany Windle

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Timeless Beauty

March 2, 2015
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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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