Category Archives: Birmingham

Alabama Bloganistas: Let’s Talk!

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I am very excited because in a little more than one week I will have the opportunity to gather with an amazing group of women to gab about blogging — my favorite subject next to what inspiring outfit Beyonce recently wore!

via The Daily Mail, Beyonce in Manhattan on July 2 in a figure-flattering and very on-trend striped dress. That structured bag, though!

via The Daily Mail, Beyonce in a figure-flattering and very on-trend striped dress. Love how her heels mimic the trim of the dress. And that structured bag, though!

Just like Beyonce puts in hours training for a tour, anyone interested in blogging needs to put in some time learning the ins and outs of the blogging biz. The See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design is the perfect place to do so.

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The Mini-Con will be Aug. 1 at the Vestavia Hills Public Library from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Lunch, snacks and more are included with your ticket (buy your ticket here!), and you will hear from a variety of bloggers, including myself! I will speak on the “Blog Like A Boss” panel about addressing body image issues in addition to fashion and fitness and how my professional experience has helped my blog, and vice versa!

To get us pumped up for the Mini-Con, Javacia, the founder of See Jane Write, is hosting a mixer at Collage Designer Consignment in Vestavia from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, July 23. The event is free, but please register here. And get more details about the special offerings for the night here! I plan to be there by 6 p.m., so I hope you will introduce yourself — I know I plan to try on some clothes, too, so let’s shop!

If you’re a blogger in Alabama, I can’t express how valuable last year’s Mini-Con was for me — learning more about blogging but also making wonderful contacts with inspiring women. I hope you can join us on Aug. 1!

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My Lukewarm Relationship With Macy’s

As a woman who was mainly raised in the Northeast, or by parents who grew up in the Northeast, Macy’s has always been and will probably always be one of my favorite department stores. And the fact that I can state that while having endured working at the store at the Ocean County Mall in Toms River, N.J., with its crazy One Day Sales and the madness of Black Friday sales, well that’s saying something.

For a long time I have perused the plus-size section of the store, usually regulated to the upper-floor’s back corner, or in the sake of the Galleria in Hoover, Ala., a crowded section near the teen girls’ area, complete with blasting music (yes, I’m getting old).

I used to be able to ignore a large portion of the “Women’s” section because I knew what I’d find: old-fashioned cuts and styles, out-of-date prints and baggy tops that hung down to my knees.

My saving grace in this department has always been the INC brand. Of all the brands at Macy’s, this is one I can turn to to find more stylish offerings, even in plus-sizes. For years they offered gorgeous shirt dresses with full skirts and waist-defining belts. Work separates were modest yet fashionable.

In a favorite INC dress from a few years ago.

In a favorite INC dress on New Year’s Eve a few years ago.

Lately, however, I’m finding it harder to ignore the rest of the Women’s department. Why? Because it’s taking over. The dowdier, less-flattering options seem to be growing, while the chic INC line seems to be diminishing (at least at the two Macy’s in Birmingham, Ala.).

It’s infuriating that the store even buys so much of these other lines, yet fails to stock more INC, or other more fashionable brands. While there are so many plus-size lines out there that are growing in popularity and offering plus-sizes when they used not to, Macy’s can’t quite seem to get it right lately.

Now there are two things that I am beyond thrilled with when it comes to Macy’s. One, you can find good INC offerings online. The convenience of shopping in-store would be better, but I am grateful for their online selection, particularly these thick, well-made ponte leggings that I purchased recently.

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And in the Misses department, I actually came across a great brand — Rachel Roy — that happens to sell some of their garments in an XXL, and they fit! (I’d say my size is typically a 20, for reference.)

Rachel Roy top, Macy's

Rachel Roy top, Macy’s

Rachel Roy top, Macy's

Rachel Roy top, Macy’s

But as for the rest of the selection in the Women’s department, I am pretty disappointed.

So you can see why my relationship with Macy’s has become lukewarm. Sometimes I can walk in there and have luck, and other times I am really upset at the dowdy offerings. A place I used to find dependable has now become hit or miss.

Do you ever have problems with a department store, or other store, offering less-than-desirable clothing for months on end? Do you wait it out, or do you take your shopping dollars elsewhere?

Kick-off 2015 With Evolutions, Not Resolutions

Last year, my motto was to DO BETTER. This year, I think I can sum it up by saying that I want to DO MORE.

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But, as I look at the long list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2015, I want to take a deep breath, a step back and tackle each goal with a mindset of creating small, daily “evolutions” — not making any resolutions.

I read this idea in an article by Clinton Kelly in Woman’s Day. In the article, he admits to making resolutions in the past, only to feel like a failure when he didn’t reach his goals. Man, do I feel that!

I love this quote from Kelly:

Let’s be realistic. Just because the calendar says 2015 instead of 2014, you can’t go on a diet, train for a marathon, learn French and start a gluten-free cupcake business by February. (If you did even one of those, I’d be impressed.) Cut yourself some slack.

So, using this article as my inspiration, I will focus on the small, daily changes, “evolutions,” that add up, including:

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1. I will continue the monthly #stellarmiles challenges.
Sadly, I didn’t finish this as I wish I would have in December, only walking/running 7 miles out of the 25 I had planned. Oof — that was hard to admit! I could explain that in addition to this, I did do a couple of spinning classes, a couple of yoga classes, and I was sick with a sinus infection for two weeks of the month, but whatev. The point is, since I started the monthly walking/running challenges in July, December was my poorest performance yet. But I kicked off Jan. 1 with a 1-mile walk, and I plan to redeem myself with #25stellarmiles in January. From July through December in 2014, I walked or ran a total of 170 miles — let’s do better than that in 2015!

2. I will set modest weight-loss goals for myself for each month and weigh-in every other Friday.
I have a big event coming up in June — a family get-together in Florida — and I’ll state right now that I’d like to be 20 pounds down by then (251 now, 231 by June 26). That’s 6 months away, so that means I’d need to lose a little over 3 pounds each month to meet that goal. In November when I started losing weight again, I dropped about 5 pounds in a month — so I know this is possible! I need to focus on the real foods I was eating then (fruits, whole grains, lots of lean protein, very little processed foods or sweets — and very little Diet Coke!) and continue my workouts. I will report in every other Friday to give y’all an update!

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3. I will continue to do a mix of yoga, spinning and walking/running and try one new type of workout this year.
Whenever I get too focused on one type of workout — usually running — I tend to get bored. In December, I started going to spinning each Tuesday and yoga each Wednesday, and that’s something I want to continue in 2015. Last year, I also tried a few new workouts, just to spice things up and challenge myself. I definitely want to do that again in 2015 — this time something in the martial arts! Maybe karate, I’m not sure. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to try — so why not?!

4. Work consistently on my blogging and writing goals.
Besides my health and fitness, I have a couple of career-oriented goals outside of my day job that I want to put into action this year. I’m planning to move my blog over to WordPress.org so I can start working more consistently with brands that I love, and I want to look at this blog as a business, while still expressing myself as I always have, and hopefully helping others feel and look their best and lead stellar lives. I plan to make an outline of what I want to accomplish for the blog and work on each one on a monthly basis so I can make consistent progress throughout the year.

I wanted every single item on this display at Saks!

5. Organize my closet — and pursue more fashionable looks!
Just like I became somewhat complacent in my beauty routine by the end of 2014, I was also struggling with my “look.” I don’t have much of a shopping budget right now, but I need to do a better job at working with what I already own and spicing up my wardrobe with a few purchases here and there. I love to write about trends and looks that I love, but actually getting to wear those pieces and doing fun #ootd posts? Definitely something I am working on for 2015!

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6. Becoming even more involved in my city, Birmingham.
I tried to work harder during the last half of 2014 to reach out to new people and cultivate new relationships. Attending events with See Jane Write and fashion outings with Saks, Posh and other avenues. And continuing to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters — my Little graduates from high school this year, so our visits aren’t as frequent. But I want to continue to be there for her when she needs me — and just for fun! So continuing to reach out to others in my community, and embracing all this growing, lively city has to offer, is a major goal for 2015.

Do you have any advice for me for pursuing these “evolutions” this year? What are some of your goals for 2015?

#Bloglikecrazy Reads & Inspiration

Happy Sunday, y’all!

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Today is the last day of the #bloglikecrazy challenge that our fearless leader, Javacia, gave to the See Jane Write members for November. I have to say, I have been really happy with my posts for November — and I hope you have, too! You might say, “Why do you sound surprised that that’s the case?” Well, I had a lot of fear that I wouldn’t have something to write about each and every day! But as Javacia reminded us when we started out with a #bloglikecrazy kickoff on Nov. 1, writing each day is a practice, and you really do grow with it as you do it each day.

I learned a few things this month that I wanted to share with you, if you are a blogger yourself or you’re trying to tackle a project that takes daily diligence. Here’s what I learned:

1. You do have the time. Some days you may only have 30 min. to dedicate to your goal, other days you may be able to take a couple of hours. But each day, you really can find the time. Same goes for working out! We just need to plan accordingly.

2. It’s the people, in my case my readers, who make the difference. Engaging with all of you on a daily basis as been a great release for me. Whether you’ve written to me in the comments or responded on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, I love hearing your thoughts on something I’ve written and it often fuels me to write something else! My number of subscribers has grown since the start of this month, as have my daily readers and followers on all of my social media networks, and for that I am truly, truly grateful.

3. Writing is therapy. For me, it’s my outlet. Others may like to do craft projects, take photographs or play an instrument. Writing is where I channel my creativity and it’s freeing to spend some time each day focusing on that and on, hopefully, improving that skill. It has been gratifying to work on that every day!

4. You mean more to others than you realize. Whether you listen to a friend or loved one on the telephone, or you help a friend by watching her kids or, in my case, maybe I’ve put into words something someone else has been feeling and now she knows she’s not alone — all of those things bond us to other humans and mean probably more than we know. There’s a lot of value in helping others feel that someone else knows what it’s like to be in their shoes. I’ve heard from a few of you that some of the things I’ve written have touched you and that is the No. 1 reason why I blog. Because we all have our struggles and our ups and downs, but knowing there’s someone else out there who understands or can help, that makes it OK.

So, thank you for a wonderful month! I’m really hoping to keep this consistency up because, for the reasons above, I have found it so enjoyable to write more often. Thank you for fueling that!

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And, because I have some lovely blogger friends who have written some great posts this month, too, I wanted to share a few of them here:

Javacia at See Jane Write: What should I include in my blog’s media kit?
What are your thoughts on the Ferguson grand decision?

Tanya at All In Stride: I Don’t Care That You Hate My 13.1 Sticker
Do Vegans Fart More? And Other Diet Questions

Sherri at YouGotRossed: That Time I Spent The Night In Jail

Jessica at Spiffy Eats & Giggle Water: Winterize Your Pantry

Kelly at Inspire Fitness: Lessons Learned From The Vulcan 10k

Chanda of Chanda Temple Writes: Wednesday’s Word

Clair at See Clair Write: How Not To Live Your Dreams

Edward at Soul In Stereo: Beyonce Wasn’t High At The Brooklyn Nets Game, But You Might Be

Focus on Birmingham: Market Noel

Ladies, you have one final day — today! — to shop for fun gifts at Market Noel, hosted by the Junior League of Birmingham at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thanks to Jessica at Spiffy Eats and Giggle Water, I got to walk through all the lovely booths yesterday and pick out some of my favorites to share with you.

First up: Fuss Style Boutique, which has locations in Santa Rosa Beach and Port St. Joe, Florida. Jessica and I both loved their flirty, whimsical style, and I was particularly drawn to their Great Gatsby-era dresses — perfect for New Year’s Eve!

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This frock needs strappy black heels for dancing!

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Jessica shows up a printed, flowy top that would look great with jeans and boots.

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I love tulle skirts! I see this with a plain T and a statement necklace.

Next up: Here A Chick, There A Chick from right here in Hoover! Kerry sells AMAZing baubles that she finds, well, here and there! I wanted to purchase every one of her statement necklaces.

photo 1 (41) photo 4 (19) photo 5 (13)We saw lots of snuggly items at ShopbellaC Clothing Boutique. This sweater and the graphic T with the flannel were my favorites!

photo 2 (40) photo 3 (29)Finally, Made In The Deep South takes necklaces and pendants from various estates sales and creates unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else. Each piece comes with a tag that explains the “backstory.” So fun!

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Bonus! Don’t forget to stop by Jennifer’s Kitchen’s booth to taste their yummy preserves — a jar or two would make a great hostess gift this time of year, or stocking stuffer! She also sells her products at A Little Something gift boutique in Cahaba Heights.

Happy shopping!

Posh Faucett’s Giveaway

contest graphicA few weeks ago when I attended the Posh Holiday Fashion Preview, I had the opportunity to get a close-up look at the fashions from Faucett’s in Northport, Ala. And now, thanks to Posh Tuscaloosa and Faucett’s, I have the chance to giveaway this gorgeous Akola Project necklace, worth $76!

In fact, you can choose from any of these beautiful colors!

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{To enter you must be a resident of the Tuscaloosa—Birmingham area!}

If you would like to add this pretty necklace to your holiday wardrobe, simply click on this link to Rafflecopter to enter.

You will earn 1 point for:
1. Liking Posh Tuscaloosa on Facebook
2. Liking Faucett’s Northport on Facebook
3. Liking Stellar Fashion & Fitness on Facebook

I will announce the winner next Wednesday, Nov. 26!

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The wonderful thing about this Akola Project necklace is that it helps support a project that helps women support their families.

You can learn more about the women involved in this project here.

And don’t forget to grab Posh Tuscaloosa’s great deal for Faucett’s Northport — a $50 certificate to spend on clothes and accessories for just $25! Here, courtesy of Posh, are some of the styles you can expect to find at Faucett’s.

faucetts1facuetts2All photos: Ryan Flynn

Don’t forget to enter for the giveaway if you’re a Tuscaloosa or Birmingham resident!

Stellar House: A Dining Room Tale

Today, I want to tell you about the beautiful dining room that we pieced together with fun finds from around Birmingham. But first, a little background on my still-new-to-me house.

The Mr. and I have been in our house for about a year and a half now, and we’re still having a lot of fun getting rooms decorated, organized and simply enjoying being homeowners. As we continue to add decorations and settle in, I wanted to share some of our finds with you and also seek inspiration, because it’s still a work in progress!

First up, the first room you see when entering our home: the dining room. Here’s how it looked when we first moved in:

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Definitely a blank palette!

Here’s one of my favorite features of this room: the arches!

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The hurricanes came from Michael’s, while the entryway table and mirror came from Kirkland’s. The large red vase was purchased several years ago at Pier 1 Imports and the cake stands, from World Market, are from our wedding.

The first things we actually acquired for this room were the wooden and metal arches. We found them at Kirkland’s and actually have similar ones in our breakfast nook, too. We already owned the canvas print, having purchased it from Earthbound Trading Co. at Brookwood Village a couple years prior.

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That little blue vase came from West Elm several years ago.

It was after we picked out our dining room table and chairs from Haverty’s last December that we chose the blue curtains from Target and the tiebacks. I think it’s really popular these days to just let your curtains hang straight, but for the dining room I wanted something that looked a little more formal.

We also took on our first DIY project — painting the accent wall! We chose Behr Hazy Skies from Home Depot, a gray-blue that I love, and I think it ties the room together perfectly.

photo 2 (36)But my favorite piece in the room is all due to quick-thinking by the Mr. He spotted a bookshelf at one of our favorite places to find unique furniture in Birmingham — Encore Resales — and had the idea to turn it on its side to use as a sideboard! It complemented the dining room furniture perfectly and provided us spaces to display all the fun wedding gifts we received earlier this year.

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We decorated the top with the candy jars we used at the cocktail hour for our wedding (bought at Michael’s with one of their awesome coupons!), and a fun wine rack from At Home. All of the fillers you see the in glass containers came from Kirkland’s or At Home, too.

We have a couple of blank walls that will likely feature photos from our wedding one day. And I’m still searching for the right placemats to use on the table when we eat there.

Where do you like to shop for table linens? How do you like to dress your dining room table during special meals or in between meals?