Tag Archives: Birmingham

Alabama Bloganistas: Let’s Talk!

Bloganista-defined

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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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.

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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?

Focus On Birmingham: Inspire Fitness

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Posh Birmingham. All opinions are my own.

As you may recall, one of my August goals was to add more weight training to my workout schedule. I still haven’t done as much lifting as I would’ve liked to this month, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to preview the upcoming “Weightlifting: From The Ground Up” class at Inspire Fitness.

I’ve worked out at Inspire Fitness before, taking co-owner Kelly Creel’s yoga class and several spinning classes there, and I always leave in a great mood, excited about the workout I just completed and feeling supported by the staff. That’s a big plus at any workout studio or gym!

While Kelly and her co-owner and husband, Stephen, have always offered strength-training through their FuncFit class, they’re about to embark on a brand-new class that uses their training through the USA Weightlifting certification program to teach students the basics of lifting, concentrating on such moves as the dead lift, bench press, military press, clean, jerk and snatch. In this six-week course, Kelly, Stephen and their coach Adam will focus on each student’s own abilities, keeping in mind any past injuries, so that the fundamentals are learned, while each student is challenged to lift at his or her best potential.

After hearing about this through the Posh Birmingham deal that’s now offered — $59 for the six-week course! — I was eager to give it a try. In the spirit of transparency, I did receive this preview free of charge, but all opinions are my own and I am planning to sign up for the six-week program myself!

So my preview started with an explanation of the equipment and introduction to the move I would practice that night: the dead lift. I had only done this move once before, so I welcomed the chance to perfect my form and maybe try a higher weight.

Kelly reminded me of the benefits of the dead lift:

  • It’s a compound movement — it engages multiple muscle groups.
  • It serves as the foundation for more explosive moves, such as the clean and snatch.
  • It’s is functional in that it teaches the body to bend over and pick something up without injury.
  • It adds strength and stability.

First, Kelly started me out with a 15-pound bar across the benches, so I wouldn’t have to bend down so low while getting the form down. Then she explained what is basically a two-step process:

Feet a little more than shoulder width apart, grip outside of that, knees bent, back straight.

Kelly, showing me to keep my feet a little more than shoulder width apart, grip outside of that, knees bent, back straight.

Kelly advised me to keep my back straight when standing, but not to lock my knees, and make sure to exhale as I rise up.

Kelly advised me to keep my back straight when standing, but not to lock my knees, and make sure to exhale as I rise up.

After I practiced with the 15-pound bar on the benches, and then a 33-pound bar, she moved me to the floor where she added two 10-pound weights, totaling 53 pounds.

I lined my feet up under the bar, adjusted the width between my feet and the placement of my grip. Another thing I had to remember: squatting low so my back remains straight instead of hunched over.

I lined my feet up under the bar, adjusted the width between my feet and the placement of my grip. Another thing I had to remember: squatting low so my back remains straight instead of hunched over.

And then lift! I did several reps following this.

And then lift! I did several reps following this.

Kelly then added two more 10-pound weights, bringing me to 73 total. I don’t have photos of this, but she said this would be what they call my 3-rep max — the weight I can lift for three reps before I am fatigued. Because of a back injury I suffered a year ago, she didn’t want me to add more weight, just to be safe. I did a few more reps at 73 pounds, and felt so strong!

Kelly said to keep in mind that while some think a dead lift is a “pulling” action, it’s more of a push with your legs. When I did the move with proper form, I could definitely see what she meant!

What I liked best about this class is the safe environment — I trust the instructors at Inspire Fitness to challenge me, but to do so at my ability level so that I’m less likely to injure myself.

I’m really excited to get more weight lifting into my regiment. The class — which runs Sept. 18 to Oct. 25 — will be great for that. Hopefully I will see you there!

Have you ever taken a class just for weight lifting, such as this one at Inspire Fitness? What did you think of it?