Across the South, under the summer sun, pink-cheeked epicures peruse colorful farmers’ market produce and artisan goods. Exuberant music-lovers are awash in concert lights as they gaze at musicians rocking the stages of summer festivals. Water-loving Southerners splash in pools, lakes, swimming holes and oceans, and adventure seekers take new paths and experience new thrills across the world. It’s summer in the South, and no heat wave can quell our poolside passion, our farmers’ market fervor or our music-festival moxy!
From our roundup of top local events and happenings to updates on all of the new eateries in town, we are keeping you in the loop on all things local, so that you don’t miss a beat this summer. We’ve even got a list of the top activities for your summer bucket list (think inner-tubing down a lazy river or visiting a waterfall). Or maybe you’re planning your next getaway and are looking for fabulous destinations off the beaten path. We’ll be pounding the pavement and bringing you the best of Jupiter, Florida; Cinque Terre, Italy; Door County, Wisconsin, and more.
And if you are looking to kick up your heels in the AC for some quality couch-surfing escapism, check out our beautiful weddings — like an ocean-side Sea Island, Georgia, wedding under Spanish moss-laden trees. Or perhaps you’d like to focus on interiors with our roundup of creative spaces across the South, a before-and-after kitchen in Birmingham or a Memphis artist’s out-of-the-box home and to-die-for treehouse! If you’re wanting more swoon-worthy interiors, we’ve scoured Louisville and Birmingham to find the coolest office spaces in town!
For all of the fashion mavens, we have some exciting What to Wear photo shoots at the Memphis Zoo and the Birmingham Museum of Art, as well as our monthly fashion Q&A with style coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth. And, as always, we profile the fabulously intelligent, witty and wonderful women moving our cities forward in our FACES interviews. So, whether you’re a fashionista, a foodie, a traveler or a designer extraordinaire, there’s summer inspiration for every Southern soul!
Long bright days announce the arrival of summer, so we’ve got the fun and fabulous upcoming events in the Magic City, as well as as a day trip to The Preserve at Moss Rock, where you can climb and hike to your heart’s content, followed by an afternoon spent sightseeing and supping in the quaint Preserve village. And if you’re sticking around town, you must try Bistro V in Vestavia Hills or The Atomic Bar & Lounge downtown. We’ve got an insider look at both! And speaking of insider looks, we take a peek inside one of award-winning Birmingham-based architect Jeffrey Dungan’s homes. Talk about jaw-dropping interiors and architecture!
And in the fashion & beauty departments, we’ve got you covered. From Birmingham’s best clothing FINDS for under $100 to Your 2017 Spring & Summer Beauty Guide (for all budgets) — not to mention our usual What to Wear and Ask Megan articles — you’ll be stylin’ all summer long! And if you’ve got visitors coming to town or are hosting a gathering for Memorial Day weekend, we’ve got simple yet gorgeous DIY flower arrangements to impress your guests. Here’s to May in the Magic City!
Summer is around the corner and we’ve all got visions of summer sands and splashing waters dancing in our heads. But before it gets too hot, get out and enjoy the cool spring air. We’ve got a roundup of Birmingham’s best parks and hikes, as well as our monthly roundup of local events and happenings. And, with May’s commemorative events — like graduation, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day parties — you’ll need a dress this month. So, we’ve got 10 fabulous dresses in our What to Wear fashion spread. And if you still need some fashion advice, check out Megan LaRussa’s monthly “Ask Megan” column or her guide to spring trends for each body type.
And prepare for a mouthwatering read on Birmingham’s best crawfish, followed by a look inside the eateries of the new Pizitz Food Hall. Also downtown, we get an insider look at a fabulous loft space. And then, we’ve got a roundup of Birmingham’s best spring home decor FINDS that will inspire you to refresh your interiors. As always, we bring you the wonderful women who are moving the needle with our FACES of Birmingham each Monday!
After an uncharacteristically warm winter, the dogwood buds and daffodil blooms are beginning to brighten the Alabama landscape. It’s time to break out your spring and summer duds, do some spring cleaning and get bathing-suit-ready! And for that, we have a challenging, fat-burning 30-minute workout by Neighborhood Barre that you can do at home or even during your lunch break at work! As always, we’ve got our roundup of Birmingham events and happenings along with your wardrobe solutions for April’s events in our What to Wear fashion spread. And if you’re still feeling flummoxed by fashion, Megan LaRussa’s monthly “Ask Megan” column addresses all women’s closet quandaries and prêt-à-porter pickles!
We’re also delivering some seriously drool-worthy foodie features, such as the new Soho Social in Homewood and a look at the international eateries along the Green Springs corridor, a thoroughfare laden with hidden gems where you can taste the world! And if you’re still hungry for more, we’ve got a guide to the eateries, landmarks and shops of the historic Bluff Park neighborhood, as well as the best boutique hotels around Birmingham. For more beautiful spaces, check out our gorgeous home feature, designed by Christopher Architecture & Interiors. For a dose of wallet-friendly tips, you’ll love this month’s edition of Cheap Thrills with local business owners and tastemakers giving us their favorite life hacks and cheap tricks that simply make their lives easier. Last, but not least, we bring you the fiery, fabulous and forward-thinking women who are moving the Magic City forward with our FACES of Birmingham each Monday!
So, in the spirit of spring, rejuvenate, refresh and get ready to soak up the sun!
And Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
February is here and — cue: iconic first chords of Marvin Gaye’s uber-romantic ballad “Let’s Get It On” — love is in the air! It’s time to treat your sweetie to a fireside dinner or a night on the town, and for that, we have the best romantic date nights in the Magic City, as well as our roundup of Birmingham events and happenings along with your wardrobe solutions for February’s events in our What to Wear fashion spread. And if you’re still hemming and hawing in front of your closet, Megan LaRussa’s monthly “Ask Megan” column addresses all your burning fashion questions! If you and your valentine are tying the knot, we’ve got local bridal experts’ secrets and insights on wedding dress trends and a bonus piece on hot new looks for nails.
We’re also delivering some seriously drool-worthy interior design features with a stunning before-and-after home by designer Emily Lee and our design crush of the month, creative duo Annie Bayer Goldberg and Ginny Monheit Maguire of AG Designs. And if you’re still hungry for more, we’ve got a highlight on Delta Blues Hot Tamales restaurant downtown and your guide to the hip Crestwood North neighborhood. Last but not least, we bring you the intelligent, creative and witty women who are moving the Magic City forward with our FACES of Birmingham each Monday!
Get into the loving spirit with flowers, candles and get-togethers with friends and your valentine, of course!
Lose weight. Meditate. Write in journal. Make art. Take pictures of art for Instagram. Try new things that take me out of my comfort zone. Make time for myself. Work out; do yoga! Make more time for my kids — do one-on-one dates with each child. Do cute, creative crafts with them, things they’ll remember fondly as adults. Carve out date nights or romantic moments for husband to show him I care. Get active in community. Effect change. Get involved in local politics — be the change you wish to see in the world! and all of that. Go green — take recyclable bags to store and don’t buy bottled water. Drink more water from a S’well or other water bottle, but watch water usage in shower, when brushing teeth etc. Floss. Start a serious skin care regimen; you’re no spring chicken! Put healthy boundaries on screen time/electronic devices in the house. Sit around the table as a family for every meal. Make slow cooker meals in the morning or make a few casseroles on Sunday to ease work-week dinners. Make kids’ lunches the night before. Save money. Give back to those less fortunate. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Treat yourself! Spend more time with friends — have a girls’ night. Spend time with extended family. Get family pictures made now, while the kids are young! Take those pictures of the kids with their ages on a piece of paper — I missed all the years up to now, but it’s never too late, right? Make a family album. Clean out all the closets and organize everything — spices, linens, clothes, etc. Streamline wardrobe, so I never have to stand in front of closet trying to figure out what to wear. Ugh, that’s going to be hard.
Wait, I’m doing it again.
Do you do this to yourself? Perhaps this swirling storm cloud of ridiculous expectation is the reason I never add a New Years’ resolution to my plate. Well, actually, I do, because I feel like I should, then I inevitably fail. Someone once told me, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.” Maybe that is the problem. We get so hung up on all the things we think we should do, because we see other women do them so well — having perfectly organized pantries, looking stylish, being active in community efforts, creating art, making casseroles on Sunday. But there’s no way you can do it all! So, that is my new New Years’ Resolution — to banish the “should storm”! I hereby resolve to not “should” on myself! I’m going to do things for myself this year, whether it’s for my creative, spiritual or physical well-being, but they must be things that deeply fulfill me.
If you’re in the market for a New Year’s resolution, I invite you to also forego the “should storm”! Do the things that you actually want to spend your time on this Earth doing. Be authentic and brave and don’t “should” on yourself!
Happy New Year!
The Christmas lights are up. There’s finally a crisp chill in the air. You can take a deep breath over your steaming cup of cider, but only for a second, because it’s time to get out there and shop ’til you drop! And we’ve got you covered with all the best hostess gifts, our roundup of 50 FINDS Under $50 and our LUXE LOVES. And if you like our luxurious drool-worthy FINDS, then you’ll love a virtual escape to an unforgettable, elegant wedding set against the breathtaking beauty of Cashiers, North Carolina, as well as a look at the gorgeous interiors created by our Interior Designer Crush of the month, Iris Thorpe of Iris & Co. We are also providing an illustrated guide to eyebrow coiffure and a behind-the-scenes peek at what a style coach really does and how having one can change your life.
This is a season fretting over decorations, gifts and holiday parties of friends and families and crazy Uncle Ronnie’s awkward moments — suffice it to say, things can get somewhat stressful. So, we are re-framing those awkward holiday moments with locals light-hearted advice on how to navigate those tricky ungraceful situations with grace. And once you’ve gotten through those wince-inducing holiday hurdles, you might want to head to your favorite local watering hole, so we’ve got a roundup of Birmingham’s best bars! And, as always, we are honored to feature the inspiring, creative, intelligent women of our FACES of Birmingham, as well as the hippest local events and What to Wear solutions for your December calendar.
Get out and make your own holiday magic in the Magic City this December! Happy Holidays!
Normally, in November, editors write of impending bonfires with friends, breaking out your sweaters and boots and savoring fall with a piping hot pumpkin spice latte, and you might have seen that I excitedly wrote of those dreamy fall activities in my October Letter from the Editor. However, as we approach our 45th consecutive day without rain in our Stage 3 drought and we endure summer-like highs in the mid-80s, lighting a bonfire could quite literally cause your entire neighborhood to catch fire and donning your sweater and boots to “savor a pumpkin spice latte” would be a twisted, masochistic act.
Meanwhile, my October optimism, much like our Alabama weather, has turned dry, parched and starved for life. I’ve decided that this November in Alabama does not merit a romantic poetical-waxing about fall, at least not from this editor who happens to love her winter wardrobe and the “crisp” fall weather. I’ve been wearing my sweaters in protest of this un-November-like weather, as if by force of my refusal to accept the hot, arid conditions, the forces of nature will act in accordance with my wardrobe desires. But, while I try to play it cool in my protest sweaters — turning red-faced and perspiring with my frizzy hair reaching skyward for moisture — I simply look like a deranged muppet, like Jim Henson’s muse.
So, I’ve acquiesced for now, setting my sweaters aside and planning a rain dance for my family to perform in the backyard. And while we all wait for the rain to fall and quench the thirsty earth, StyleBlueprint Birmingham is bringing you stories to rejuvenate your soul! From the intelligent, funny gutsy women that are moving our city forward to creative chefs, food artisans, interior designers and food bloggers, we bring you a cornucopia of reasons to celebrate this fantastic city. Because, despite the infuriating heat and lack of water, we still have lots to smile about.
On this month of Thanksgiving, as we await the rain, we give thanks for the Magic City and you, fair StyleBlueprint reader! Gobble, gobble!
Finally! October is here! Cue: pumpkin lattes and sweaters, bonfires and boots and shopping and shindigs with friends and family! It’s time to enjoy gatherings on the patio as the leaves rustle in the cool breeze. And whether your gathering is raucous or refined, we’ve got preeminent Southern tastemaker Kristin Pollak of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits on hand to dish on party etiquette and entertaining tips to take your next soiree to the next level. If you’re looking for recipes for that party, Chef Victor King and Chef Kristen Farmer Hall of Feast & Forest and Baking Bandits bring up some fall-inspired sweet and savory recipes, definitely worth adding to your culinary repertoire. But if you’re not the cooking kind and just want to check out some new eateries, we are going behind the scenes at Revelator Coffee Company, rounding up sweet treats, and checking out all the new restaurants in town.
We’ve also got some sweet life hacks, such as the morning routines of Birmingham’s highly successful women, an updo how-to with the uber trendy top knots and ropey ponytails and, of course, our monthly What to Wear guide. We’re also profiling professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc, who has opened a new showroom in Homewood, where you can de-clutter your life and get super-organized! Another fabulous local woman is our interior design crush du jour, Joanna Goodman of Christopher Architecture and Interiors. And, as always, we bring you the intelligent, creative and witty women who are moving the Magic City forward with our FACES of Birmingham!
Get into the Halloween spirit with decor, food, parties and, if you’re up for adventure, you might even want to visit the bone-chilling locations listed on our list of Alabama’s most haunted places!
Trick or treat!
Fall is coming, which means it’s time to bust out our sweaters and boots and enjoy cool evenings on the patio. But more importantly, it’s time for football season! And we’ve got all the fun football accouterments you’ll need this season in our monthly football-inspired FINDS, as well as a look at a bohemian chic tailgate party with elevated tailgate cuisine, plus a couple of bonus recipes! If you’re in the market for recipes, Chef Victor King and Chef Kristen Farmer Hall of Feast & Forest and Baking Bandits bring up some fall-inspired sweet and savory recipes, definitely worth adding to your culinary repertoire. But if you’re not the cooking kind and want to check out some new eateries, we are going behind the scenes at Revelator Coffee Company and checking out the new Hot Diggity Dogs in Avondale.
To celebrate the sheer beauty of the season, we have a gorgeous autumn wedding that will truly inspire you, as well as a roundup of Birmingham’s best Instagram accounts and a tour through the charming town of Mount Laurel. That inspiration and the cool fall weather might make you want to breathe new life into your home interiors, so we’re taking a peek at fabulous antiques, collectibles and vintage finds in our feature on Tricia’s Treasures, and we are thrilled to share our newest interior designer crush, Jan Ware — not to mention the inspiring women of our FACES of Birmingham! As always, we’ve got the hippest local events and happenings, as well as the What to Wear solutions for your September calendar.
There are so many fabulous people to meet, places to discover and things to do in Birmingham in September! So get out in the Magic City and make some magic!
It’s HOT, Birmingham! We’re in the dog days of our sweltering Alabama summers. This is the stuff that movies are made of: our laze-inducing, porch-rocking, sweet-tea-sipping, water-splashing, tomato-eating, football-anticipating, glistening-sweat-on-your-brow, simply sizzling summer days. And although the heat can be brutal, we’re not letting that get us down! With the back-to-school busyness, we’ve scoured the town to find the best of Birmingham’s back-to-school FINDS, as well as your guide to what to do in our most famous college towns, Auburn and Tuscaloosa.
And as that most famous football rivalry heats up, we’ve also got some of the most serene and rejuvenating spaces in Birmingham to cool you down — including our Interior Designer Crush of the month, Lisa Flake of Caldwell Flake; interior designer Caroline Sain’s family-friendly Homewood home; and tips from local tastemakers, designers and craftsmen on clever and easy home renovation ideas. We’re also going behind the scenes at Crestline Exchange’s showroom of ever-evolving home decor finds, as well as the uber-stylish Cahaba Heights boutique Manhattan South.
On the foodie front, our mouths are watering just looking at the pictures of the fresh, creative fare at Homewood’s newest café, Real & Rosemary, and the colorful, healthy home cooking at Crestline’s new on-the-go eatery, Dinner. And, if you’re feeling full from Birmingham’s delicious food scene, we’re dishing up a work-out, tailor-made for you by Club Pilates and illustrated by our talented friend, Mary Catherine Folmar of Cotton + Quill! After you’ve toned up with our custom workout, take a virtual trip to Turks and Caicos for the inspiring and beautiful wedding of Kayla Perry Funk, the founder of the pediatric cancer research nonprofit (and winner of our 2015 $5,000 Charity Giveaway), Open Hands Overflowing Hearts.
As always, we have the hottest happenings and hippest looks for the season, as well as our FACES profiles of the fabulous women making waves in Birmingham and beyond! So, whether you’re strapping on your back-packs, gathering fall renovation ideas, salivating for local dishes, getting fit for your final summer vacation or simply want to get lost in beautiful images of our city’s hidden treasures, StyleBlueprint has what’s cool during this hot season — and we can’t wait to share it all with you!
Stay cool, Birmingham!
The summer heat always takes me back to my childhood in Alabama — walking along the red dirt roads at our lake house and picking wild blackberries with my mom; swimming from sunup to sundown with my cousins until our eyes were red and our fingers were wrinkly; enjoying my first tomato sandwich, a culinary milestone for a kid learning to truly savor a ripe Alabama tomato; laying in the top bunk at my first spend-the-night camp at Camp Winnataska; lighting floating candles at camp and watching a sea of glimmering lights bob down the river in silence at dusk. There is no doubt that in each of these gorgeous memories, I had bug bites and was coated in a sticky sweat, but some of the best times and most magical memories are made under the glare of Alabama’s summer sun. So, as I am wont to curse the heat as it cooks me in my professional attire, I have to remind myself to let my inner child revel in this sunny time of year when we splash in refreshing waters, sink our toes in the sand, savor ripe heirloom tomatoes, sip on lemonade — or a summer cocktail — and make new magical memories!
We are making magic at StyleBlueprint this month too! We dare you not to be moved by this month’s beautiful wedding of Unless U Director Lindy Williamson, who included her special needs students in the ceremony, a gorgeous affair overflowing with such love, you can feel it just by looking at the pictures. And we’re feeling the love for food trucks, too, in our roundup of the Magic City’s favorite food trucks, savory ones this time. We’ll tackle those awesome sweet food trucks in their own edition! We’ve also got all the best farmers’ market produce, treats and crafts in this month’s FINDS, as well as three recipes for those beautiful heirloom tomatoes from your local market!
Our interior designer crush Marjorie Johnston shares her style secrets, and prolific style author and design anthropologist Susan Sully lets us in on how to live gracefully with our heirlooms and antiques. And in other insider tips, Neillie Butler of wedding planning boutique Mariée Ami give us the lowdown on what the mother of the groom needs to know and do for her son’s wedding. After that, you might be hungry to know more about Hello Fresh, the recipe-and-ingredient delivery service, which we tested and, trust us, the food and the service is as tasty as Juice Bar’s juices and Hattie B’s hot chicken, which we’ve also got the scoop on!
Here’s to making magic in the Magic City this month! Happy 4th of July!
There is nothing like an Alabama summer — immense heat waves drive us to toss the rule book out the door. We forego the formal for the flip-flops, and when we get cabin fever from staying in the air-conditioned indoors, we head to the pool, lake or beach, where we splash and float like kids again. And, in our June edition of What to Wear, we’ve got some sizzling style solutions to beat the heat. And what better way to celebrate summer’s arrival in your new summer duds than by enjoying the Magic City’s fabulous festivals, concerts and fun runs featured in our monthly roundup of local happenings.
And these glorious sunny days bear beautiful fruit, literally — get the best vine-ripe, heirloom Alabama tomatoes using our guide to Birmingham’s farmers’ markets. We have the city’s coolest summer entertaining FINDS, as well as outdoor living spaces befitting the ideal patio soiree and the Best Air BnBs in town. We also take a look at the uber-chic Grand Bohemian Art Gallery, as well as the brand new Coyote Drive-In and Canteen. And local chefs dish on their favorite cheap eats in town. Local aesthetician and freelance stylist to the stars, Kerri Bunn lets us in on her must-have makeup products and Louisville StyleBlueprint editor Heidi Potter helps us navigate the tricky terrain of finding a pair of flattering white jeans, ones that do not highlight cellulite and booty size, which is, as she puts it, “almost as easy as finding a unicorn.”
We are also launching our inaugural Interior Designer Crush series, where we ask a brilliant local designer 10 questions, and we’re dying to know Libby Green’s answers to our design questions! And in this month’s FACES interviews with the intelligent and creative women that are moving our city forward, we’ve got a world-traveling radio journalist, the Director of Development of Children’s of Alabama and a singer-songwriter making waves in the music scene.
Birmingham is indeed a happening place to be, so slather on the sunscreen, don your shades and savor the summer sun! Happy June!
We are absolutely in love with the long sunny days and cool evenings of this season. Every weekend features so many fun festivals and events in the Magic City, its hard to choose which creative event in which fabulous corner of the city to enjoy! Try to pick your favorite events in our roundup of the months best events and happenings or simply choose your favorite sunny outdoor dining spot from our collection of Birmingham’s best patios.
We’ve also got gorgeous homes and gardens, as well as a tour of the covered bridges of Alabama, the bustling city of Trussville and Birmingham’s farmers’ markets. And we’re getting the skinny on Wooden Goat in Avondale as well as some easy crowd-pleasing appetizer recipes from local tastemakers. The excitement of summer’s arrival is also rearing its head, so Tonya Jones SalonSpa is sharing the summer makeup and hair looks to get you runway-ready with a sun-soaked glow, and fashionistas from local boutiques are letting us know what to wear for June’s event calendar.
There’s just too much culture, decor, travel, cuisine, fashion and beauty to behold this month! Get ready for a sunny and stylish May in Birmingham!
We are so excited about the people and places, fashion and finds and fabulous things to do in Birmingham this April!
This month, we’re celebrating this glorious weather in our monthly roundup of local outdoor-related FINDS. Learn how to take your home to the next level with handsome hardware, how to gain health and wellness through the power of plants, how to go camping in Alabama like a pro and how to throw a simply perfect outdoor spring soiree. We are having a ball finding the Magic City’s most luxurious bags, our favorite summer shoes and fabulous spring cocktails. We’ve also got a glimpse at five terrific travel destinations that will have you booking a plane and excitedly planing your summer travel agenda! But we are also taking a delightful tour of Mooresville, Alabama, a beautiful old town with a rich history. As always, we have the intelligent and inspiring FACES of Birmingham and the best of local events and happenings.
And take time to get out and enjoy the flowers while they are in full bloom! Happy April!
Spring buds are beginning to unfurl into beautiful blossoms. Dogwoods, cherry blossoms and daffodils announce the arrival of spring’s cool evenings and breezy, sunny days. Get out in the glorious weather and do some gardening, if that’s your thing, or hit the local boutiques for some retail therapy! Dine out in one of Birmingham’s lovely restaurant patios or enjoy a brew at one of our fabulous brewery’s indoor/outdoor spaces! And check out our list of upcoming events and happenings for a concert, sporting event, charity gala, family-friendly festival or another shindig befitting your March mood!
This month, we’re featuring Alabama-made goods in our monthly roundup of local FINDS, as well as a handful of terrific local pizza joints that are well worth your tastebuds’ time! We’ve also got make-up tips to hide common flaws and accentuate your assets, as well as travel tips just in time for Spring Break! As always, we have the intelligent and inspiring FACES of Birmingham, a beautiful forever home in the heart of Homewood and the best of local events and happenings. On the destination front, we’re diving into the heart of the Woodlawn neighborhood and then traveling to the mountains of Mentone to bring you the best of these enchanting enclaves. And last, but not least, female representatives from the top 13 charities from our recent $5,000 charity giveaway gathered at the beautiful new Cahaba Brewing Co. for a fabulous fashion photo shoot, featuring the styling of Megan LaRussa Chenoweth and the Tonya Jones hair and make-up team.
We’re busting out our sandals and spring wardrobe, and embracing the beauty of this season in the Magic City! Happy March!
Ah, the month of love! Whether you are experiencing the butterflies and euphoria of your first love, the sweet comfort of your lifelong best friend, the honesty and laughter of your best girlfriends, the beautiful messes and wondrous surprises of your children or the unconditional admiration and loyalty of your furry friends—there is so much love to celebrate this February!
And we’ve got our monthly roundup of Valentine’s Day-inspired FINDS, our favorite jewelry pieces from the city’s best boutiques and our Cheap Thrills with the best deals and packages we could find! And you can enjoy the romance of the season with our Wedding Wednesdays series featuring an Auburn-meets-Alabama wedding, a beautiful Lake Martin wedding, a dreamy Swann Lake stables wedding and a hip Avondale Brewery wedding. As always, we have stylish forward-thinking FACES of Birmingham, beautiful homes and kitchens and the best of local events and happenings. On the culinary front, we take a look at a handful of the Magic City’s sushi hot spots, as well as an inside look at Kristen Hall’s Baking Bandits, The Nest and her new restaurant, Feast and Forest.
With Birmingham’s big ole heart, there’s a lot of love to spread around this month! Happy February!
I have a bone to pick with New Year’s resolutions: most are focused on things that we don’t like about ourselves. Annual favorites include exercise more and lose weight, quit longstanding bad habits, make more money or get a better job, get organized, improve home, gain a skill, travel and did I say exercise? Obviously, we need to address problems that make us feel low, but if we are going to really make a vow of self-improvement, we need to set ourselves up for success!
Also, let’s be honest, these resolutions are less often about true health and inner fulfillment and more often about some unrealistic, air-brushed ideal of beauty or a glamorous life. On top of that, the issues we’re trying to fix with these flimsy resolutions are most often symptoms of a deeper issue, probably one that has something to do with the fact that our lives don’t look like the air-brushed version staring at us from every screen, paper, ad and Facebook post we encounter.
And finally, let’s look at the cold, hard facts: A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. So, we are taking the things we hate most about ourselves—our muffin top, our smoking habit, our inability to organize, our lack of money—and we are setting ourselves up for failure, which just adds “New Year’s resolution fail” to the list of things we feel bad about.
And that brings me to the root of the failed New Year’s resolutions: the things we feel bad about. All my life, I’ve seen beautiful, intelligent, funny, successful women say terrible, self-deprecating things about their perceived shortcomings. (I dare you to watch this Amy Schumer sketch or this one [Be forewarned: It contains some R-rated language], and tell me you don’t recognize this belittling behavior.)
What New Year’s resolutions need is a little emotional intelligence. I bet that if we shifted the focus to some lacking aspect of our emotional beauty—being more loving, forgiving, positive, selfless, thoughtful or patient—to others and ourselves, the anxiety and self-loathing that causes us to reach for that cigarette or that ham-and-cheese croissant would diminish, and we could more easily kick the bad habits and kickstart good ones.
And, if self-love is too radical for a fist stab at an emotionally intelligent New Year’s resolution, let’s focus on something that we like best about ourselves, a quality or skill, and share it with at least one person who will appreciate and benefit from it. Baby steps!
In an interesting twist, the Wiseman study also showed that women’s New Year’s resolution success rate increased by 10 percent when they made their goals public and got support from friends. If you want to boost your own success rate and get a little encouragement from all us SB gals, use #SBResolve on social media as you announce your resolution.
Here’s to inner beauty and a terrific 2016! #SBResolve
One Christmas Eve when I was little, my mother was putting me to sleep and trying to simultaneously quell and stoke my fiery excitement for Santa. She whispered a story from her own girlhood, saying, “I know I saw Santa’s boots with his red pants climbing down from the attic, so I rushed back to my bed!” I eagerly questioned the details of her eyewitness account of the in-house Santa sighting, but my cross examination was cut short by something breathtaking. The sound of Santa’s sleigh bells—right. outside. my window. She heard it too! My mother and I paused in a moment of disbelief, breath suspended. Did our ears deceive us? Then, again! Kris Kringle’s sleigh bells jangled forth with their majestic clanging. We knew what had to be done.
“You better get to sleep quick,” my mom warned. We delivered business-like goodnight kisses and she shut my bedroom door. Behind my eyelids, frosty puffs of air plumed forth from the reindeers’ noses. I imagined their hooves making prints on our snow-covered roof as they waited patiently for Jolly Ole St. Nick to deliver the special gifts crafted by his jovial team of elves just for me.
My enthusiasm and fervent belief in Santa Claus ran deep. I watched every Santa movie, searching for a common thread that would give me a glimpse into the secret world of the North Pole. I was so enamored with the North Pole life, that I wrote a letter imploring Santa to accept me into the fold as a jolly elf. Elementary school was OK, but I was meant to be a toy-producing, hot-cocoa-sipping, carol-singing exuberant spirit, I wrote, noting that I would work very hard and joyfully in the toy factory. I delivered my manifesto into my mother’s hands in full trust that she would have it mailed to the North Pole.
I recently asked my mom what she thought of that letter. “Did it hurt your feelings?”
“No. I thought it was cool that you wanted to be a part of Christmas that badly,” she said with a smirk of pride I could hear over the phone.
When I think back, it’s not Christmas morning or the toys that stuck with me. It was everything building up to Santa, that childlike sense of wonderment at the celebration surrounding the season—the Christmas lights and ornaments, the cookies and candy canes. It was believing in what you can’t see—that sense of faith, joy and renewal that is at the heart of the season. And in a way, I got what I begged Santa for. Every Christmas, I’m a toy-producing, hot-cocoa-sipping, carol-singing exuberant spirit who just might ask her husband to stand in the bushes with jingle bells.
Here’s to making magic in the Magic City this holiday season!
I love the holidays in Birmingham. One of my most treasured childhood memories is standing underneath the thousands of twinkle lights entangled in the curling and twisting branches of the five-point intersection in Mountain Brook Village, eagerly anticipating Santa’s brief appearance on the fire truck. These days, I can’t wait to deck the halls with fresh greenery, find one-of-a-kind gifts that will blow my family away, make cookies and a gingerbread house to delight my kiddos, host stylish gatherings for my friends and family, and attend the season’s hippest soirees!
Wait, I’m doing it again.
I’m turning my holiday into an unrealistic to-do list wrapped up in a frantic whirlwind of activity. I do this every year. And before you know it, I’m standing knee-deep in torn wrapping paper staring at all the decorations I have to pack up and wondering where the holidays went! It’s what my down-to-earth Aunt Sarah calls “over-functioning.”
The truth is I don’t have to try to create a dramatic centerpiece incorporating kumquats for Thanksgiving or make homemade limoncello for my coworkers and neighbors. I mean, let’s get real. When my kids are older, they’re not going to say, “Mom, I love that time you made that centerpiece with kumquats in it” or “Mom, I’ll never forget how you made homemade liqueur for our next-door neighbors when we were little.”
This year, I’m putting my foot down. This year, I want to savor every moment, and if that means forgetting the kumquats and letting the neighbors fend for themselves on the limoncello front, then so be it! This year, I’m going to make my Aunt Sarah proud by curbing my over-functioning ways, and I invite you to join me!
Let’s stop and smell the pine needles. Leave the dishes alone for ten minutes longer to play with the little ones—or your fur babies—while they are still little. Listen to the laughter of those you love, and notice the beautiful smile wrinkles around grandma’s eyes. As you gather around the Thanksgiving table, take in the aromas and the flavors and, most importantly, the people around you. And give thanks for each moment.
Here’s to under-functioning and smelling the pine needles! Happy November!
The leaves are beginning to blush with a beauteous array of fall color. Pumpkins, mums and holiday wreaths make a welcome appearance at doorsteps, and the crisp air beckons us to soak in a quiet moment on the porch. As summer fades away and winter slowly moves in, this lovely time of transition is one of Alabama’s most glorious outdoor moments. So, get out in a pumpkin patch, hop on a hayride or dine on your favorite local patio, and breathe in the fresh fall air!
We have so many intriguing, exciting and fun things going on at StyleBlueprint this month, from a tour of Birmingham’s breweries and a spotlight on the 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar in Southside, to the Dos and Don’ts of holiday stationery and a roundup of the cutting-edge establishments and old-school haunts in the charming Leeds neighborhood. We’ve also got the best happy hours in Birmingham and tips from local beauty experts on your winter skin care. And don’t forget homes! We are featuring a beautifully curated and gracefully funky home in Forest Park, as well as the city’s most “Halloween-y” houses!
From beer to beauty and stationery to spooky decor, our October lineup is teeming with the best of Birmingham’s interesting people, expert tips, happening places and hip events!
Here’s to breathing in the beautiful, cool October weather in the Magic City!
We were recently at a photo shoot for a beautiful hilltop home, where cool breezes steadily blew through the open kitchen windows to the screened-in porch and covered stone patio. It was a glorious announcement that the fall weather is making its pleasant and highly anticipated arrival. Ready yourself for cool porch breezes, tailgating at the games, breaking out your fall wardrobe and enjoying an evening bonfire with friends and family.
This month, we are testing a grocery delivery service, trying alternative exercise methods that break the treadmill monotony, learning how to create jaw-dropping indoor planters and tasting dishes from local ethnic eateries to bring you the tasty, fun, beautiful and informative results. We’re also highlighting the designer consignment boutique Second Hand Rose, which has been Birmingham’s hidden hub for vintage treasures—from Manolo Blahnik and Dolce & Gabbana to Zac Posen and Monique Lhuillier—since 1984. We’re also getting a taste of the NYC-based story behind the delicious, authentic Italian cuisine at GianMarco’s in Homewood. And we’re taking a stroll down memory lane with snapshots of the vintage signs and recognizable landmarks that capture the essence of Birmingham.
Get out your favorite sweater and strap on your best boots, because this September collection is going to make you want to shop, dine and savor the brilliance the Magic City! Here’s to Birmingham!
Relish the remaining days of summer with lazy weekends by the pool, afternoon barbecues with friends and evening cocktails in the faint breeze on the porch. Before you know it, it’ll be back to the daily grind and the carpool line where the splashing cold water in the white-hot sun is a faded memory.
We’re embracing Birmingham in all it’s summer glory, from our city’s favorite ice-cream shops and popsicle stands to the area’s best waterfalls and swimming holes. And we’re transitioning into fall with a serious dose of style: Be on the lookout for our behind-the-scenes tour of Gus Mayer’s fabulous shoe department, as well as a look at the impressively diverse threads at Betsy Prince boutique. And we are so excited to taste chef Abhi Sanju’s Asian-inspired dishes at Bamboo on 2nd, in the heart of downtown Birmingham.
As usual, we are pounding the pavement to discover the most interesting FINDS, what-to-wear styles and LUXE LOVES, as well as the most stunning homes in the Magic City. We can’t wait to show you a jaw-droppingly gorgeous home tucked into 14 acres of rolling hills, creeks and forests in Indian Springs.
In the final dog days of summer, tap into your inner fashionista and harness the epitome of style—attitude. Face the scorching-hot days wearing optimism and exuberance like your favorite pair of sunglasses. May you finish your summer with a bang!
I’m struck by the way that summer always seems to push me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to experience the world in new ways. Each summer, I find myself in refreshingly unexpected situations—like optimistically hiking a six-mile Florida trail with my family, our red-faced baby wailing in protest against his stroller, crossing paths with a copperhead snake, and then getting caught in a torrential storm halfway through the trek. Running in the stormy downpour with said baby on hip and fold-up stroller in hand was scary, but it was also thrilling. At some point, we ceased our futile attempt to run away from the rain and laughed at our luck. It wasn’t a glamorous or comfortable experience, but it was the most beautiful memory from our “sunny” Florida vacation.
This summer, I am thrilled to experience Birmingham in a new way—as your new City Editor of StyleBlueprint Birmingham. I am honored to learn more about the fascinating people behind our great city—the funny, intelligent, stylish and forward-thinking folks who make this the Magic City. And with cultural and commercial revitalization all around us, Birmingham seems to be stepping out of her comfort zone as well. I look forward to experiencing our growing city in fresh ways, seeing Birmingham from different points of view, and sharing those stories with you.
Summer is a time to find joy in the unexpected adventures. It is a time to face and embrace our bikini bods, to take a plunge into the waters before us, to celebrate the sparkling sun or the torrential summer storm, and to recharge our spirits as we gear up to face the fall anew.
Wishing you unexpected and memorable adventures this July,