The details: Dress: aq/aq| Jacket: J.Crew| Shoes: Converse | Earrings: Forever 21

I was honored to serve on the Host Committee for this year’s Chucks and Tux, a fundraiser supporting Growing Kings — which is helping to prepare he next generation of young leaders in our community. I was really worried about finding the right Converse (since I don’t normally wear them) and the right outfit to go with them.

I ended up shopping my closet and deciding to be literal, so what you see is my version of Chucks and Tux. I’ve never worn an actual tuxedo, but I like this chic, feminine version. The dress appears to be two pieces in a feat of architectural design. The jacket adds color blocking and modesty when worn over the shoulder for a bit of casual glam. I layered my bling to take the look up a notch and pick up the rose quartz shoes.

My hair and makeup were kept to “Old Hollywood” glamour to complement the look.

More important than what I wore is the amount of fun I had. I haven’t been to a party in months, haven’t danced in months, haven’t had a reason to dress up and go out for months. So it felt good to get out, and I really appreciated having two of my best friends with me. I even took a selfie with the Mayor! (Find it here.)

Seeing myself smiling on a larger than life banner at the party reminded me: the best is yet to come, there will be some surprises along the way, and there is always a reason to dance. (Shout out to Growing King’s executive director Marcus Carson for letting me bring the banner home.)

No matter what happens in life, there is always something to celebrate. For me it was being asked to participate with Growing Kings, being named a 2018 Distinguished Survivor by the U.S. Attorneys Office and finishing Girl Trek’s “Harriet Hall of Fame Challenge,” in which I walked/ran 100 miles in two months. (I have that challenge to thank for my slimmed-down shape.)

XO//Alexis

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Find your #CarouselCatch at Bargain Carousel!

Haute off the press:

For some there is nothing more fun than bargain hunting! What if you could find a wide variety of unbelievable items at low prices and buying them would mean you were improving lives for women and children? The Junior League of Birmingham’s (JLB) annual Bargain Carousel makes this shopping experience a reality. (I have a things for unique housewares and always find something distinctive and fun at Bargain Carousel. Check out what I have my eye on in the photo gallery…I hope no one beats me to the punch!)

Bargain Carousel will kick off on Thursday, April 26 this year with Bargain Bash.

Bargain Bash is a casual cocktail party that offers first-chance shopping of Bargain Carousel items and impressive silent and live auctions including more than 150 items, such as original artwork and VIP travel packages. This year’s Bargain Bash is a fabulous fiesta sponsored by Publix Super Market Charities and catered by Taco Mama. Fun activities will include a tequila toss and piñatas with amazing prices. Har Megiddo, who was a crowd hit last year, is returning to spin the soundtrack for the evening.

For shoppers wanting the best selection and smaller crowds, VIP admission is the best choice, with 6 p.m. entry at $40 a ticket. Shoppers receive one hour of early bird shopping before general admission patrons enter. All guests enjoy food, beverages and the auctions. VIP admission is $40 a ticket and general admission (7 p.m. entry) is $30 a ticket. All Bargain Carousel items sell for double the ticket price during Bargain Bash.

Saturday and Sunday are a bargain hunter’s paradise, with more than 100,000 items for sale including art, appliances, furniture, heirloom items, baby and children’s clothing and furnishings, home décor, outdoors and sporting goods, and much more. Additionally, crafters and Pinterest lovers will be thrilled with the project pieces available. Bargain Carousel 2018 will begin on Saturday, April 28 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Tickets from 8 – 12 Noon are $10/ticket and from Noon – 5 p.m. they are $5/ticket.   It continues Sunday, April 29 (1 – 5 p.m.) with free admission and half price merchandise.

“Bargain Carousel’s purpose is two-fold,” said JLB volunteer and Bargain Carousel chair, Marianne Gilchrist. “The sale raises money for the League’s 32 projects serving women and children in the metro area and it allows us to sell items at deeply discounted prices to individuals who can benefit from them.”

“Many people return to the event year after year,” Kristen Osborne, Junior League of Birmingham. “We have our Bargain Bash faithful who come in and buy antique pieces at double our retail price and we have hundreds of people who line up overnight for the general sale because they know they can get gently-used necessities at a price they can afford.”

Thanks to Baptist Health Foundation, Bargain Carousel will be held in Hoover just off of Exit 10 from I-459 in the old Princeton-Hoover location. The sale encompasses the entire shopping center with the main portion occurring in the former Winn-Dixie grocery store.

In 2017, more than 500 tickets were presold the day before Bargain Carousel opened its doors. People began lining up the night before to reserve their spot to pre-purchase tickets. This year, the pre-sale will be held at the sale location on Friday, April 27 from 2 – 6 p.m., where shoppers may purchase up to four tickets at $10/ticket to the Saturday sale.

A special note for the Saturday sale, all tickets are numbered, and shoppers will enter Bargain Carousel in the order of their ticket number. For information about Bargain Carousel 2018, call 205-879-9861, visit www.bargaincarousel.net“Like” Bargain Carousel on Facebook, or follow @jlbbargaincarousel on Instagram.

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Want a chance to win a ticket to Bargain Carousel next Saturday? Comment “I want to find my #CarouselCatch” on this post! You can get extra entries by posting the same comment on the Bargain Carousel posts on the blog’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I’ll draw one winning entry on Saturday, April 21 at noon.

Mamie and Dorothy taught me.

 

The details: Blouse, slacks and earrings: J. Crew; Shoes: Steve Madden

Life is a circus. Are you the ringmaster or the clown?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmothers and missing them terribly. They had very different personalities, but a similar strength that got them through life’s struggles, loss and disappointments.

I find myself asking what they would do if they were faced with some of the challenges I’ve been dealing with lately. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been wishing I could ask them.

What I do know is, in spite of how they felt or however people treated them or whatever they had to endure, they still got up, made up their faces, put on their best clothes and held their heads high.

They kept going.

They still looked for the best in people.

They still gave the world their best.

I will, too.

XO//Alexis

Well Red

Dress, coat and shoes: J. Crew

Last fall my dad had an unplanned, unexpected triple bypass. If he hadn’t gone to the hospital when he did a few days earlier, he might’ve suffered a widow maker heart attack, just like Jack Pearson on This is Us.

The morning of his surgery, my tire blew out shortly after I got on the interstate and by the time I got back on the road to the hospital in Florida, the surgery was over.

In the interim, every time my cell phone chimed I wanted to throw up, afraid it was bad news. I don’t remember driving the stretch of asphalt I burned up between Montgomery and Pensacola. Only that a very real Good Samaritan made sure I got there on four good tires. I ran into the cardiac wing so fast that I broke my sandal. When they told me he made it my own heart nearly gave out.

That was the longest ride of my life. The longest day of my life. Fortunately, he lived. But I think that’s why I blacked out on #ThisisUs.

While the circumstances were different, the feelings of helplessness, shock, dread, disbelief and fear were so familiar. And the guilt. I felt so guilty because I wasn’t there. I’m the oldest. I should’ve been there in time.

I should’ve been there.

I’m still struggling with that.

Daddy made a full recovery. Thank God.

But that experience has permanently altered me. Altered how I approach life, how I love, how I spend my time and what is important to me. It’s brought into sharp focus what I can endure and what I will fight for, what I will ride for until the wheels fall off or the tires spin to shreds.

It’s made me believe there is someone who will literally be down for me like four flat tires. Or just one in an emergency at dawn.

Ride or die.

I wear red to remind me to protect my fire, to protect my figurative heart and to preserve my physical, mental and spiritual health to the extent possible. I hope you’ll take care of yours, too.

XO//Alexis

See another favorite red outfit here.

The Dream

Turtleneck, skirt and shoes: J. Crew // Scarf: Madewell // Lipstick: MAC “Ruby Woo”

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you sabotage yourself each time you attempt to begin?

Well — that has been my struggle with telling a story that is close to my heart, about a place that spoke to me but was always at a remove. And now that place could be lost forever.

Sometimes our dreams seem like just piles of bricks, things that have lost their usefulness and potential because of inactivity or impracticality. I’ve always been someone who had her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground, and struggled between reconciling the two. I struggle with knowing when to give up and find a new dream.

That’s because I believe what we dream is real. What we imagine is real. If two people or ten or a thousand believe in the same dream, then a pile of bricks can become a fortress. Or a castle. Or a paradise.

That’s not to say making it a reality won’t be hard. It’s going to be a challenge. But shouldn’t we build anyway? Shouldn’t we restore what can be saved, and hold on to it? Cherish it?

We can’t be discouraged by people who let their own dreams die. Or by those who gave up because the risks seemed insurmountable.

We can’t let our hopes fall to ruin. We can’t let our dreams become rubble. This shoot reminded me to get out of my own way, to improvise and have fun, to rennet why I started and to press forward in spite of my fear. In spite of the little voice that always second guesses me.

If you bring your hammer and memories and I bring my pen and paintbrush, with sweat equity and imagination we can make some magic come to life…

Come build with me.

XO// Alexis

[What’s black and white and re(a)d all over? This outfit. And also an edited story or article.]

This is Us.

Wild Bill loved her freckles; Red loved his sense of humor.

He proposed over a requested glass of water, with her family eavesdropping in the hallway.

When I was a child, I used to sit with my parents’ white leather wedding album and pore over the details: a huge double ceremony, both mothers in furs, the groom in platforms and to this day, my mother is upset about the florist.

What I love most about their love story is realizing these two kids have no idea what life has in store for them. The plot twists and tragedies, the good times, the adventures. The pain. The laughter. The dancing (must be seen to be believed).

They will make a home and a life.

They’ll grow up together without outgrowing each other.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.

They’ll stick together through it all.

I wasn’t at their wedding but I’ve been around for most of their anniversaries and in spite of all we’ve been through as a family I can tell you: I’m grateful God chose them to be my parents.

Forty-two years later, Wild Bill is still pretty hilarious and Red is still undeniably fabulous — especially with her freckles. I hope that when they look at each other they always see who they were at the very beginning.

The peau de soie heels she wore that January evening have been dyed deep blue and wait for me to wear or display at my own wedding one day. I’m hanging on to a remnant of rich brown velvet from the handmade bridesmaids’ dresses. I’ll make sure she has an exquisite bouquet, and that he gets to do his signature dance.

To connect the future with the past. To honor all they mean to me that can’t be put into words.

Happy anniversary, Mama and Daddy.

We’ve already started planning for 2026.

This golden night was the only time I saw my grandfather shed a tear. My grandmother just floated. I think they had a fairly simple wedding, but this was the grand celebration they deserved, thrown by their children 50 years later. They were so happy and surprised and there was so much love and joy in that ballroom. (See where my love of fancy sequined gowns comes from?) I learned about love from them. About sacrifice, and hospitality, and faith. I learned about baseball, and big band music, the best way to butter yeast rolls and make peach cobbler and the beauty of a hostess’ caftan from them. I learned about endurance from them.

I’m grateful I got to celebrate them and WITH them.

I remember them. And I miss them every day.

Homecoming

 

The details: Coat: Vintage via Hanna Antiques // Sweater, loafers & bracelet: J. Crew // Denim: American Eagle Outfitters // Clutch: Clare Vivier

Recently I was back in my hometown during my high school’s Homecoming. Although I’m not actually at home in these photos, the pictures kind of capture the mood I was in. I think I finally faced up to the fact that you can go home again, but the view will be quite different. I thought of all that I had hoped to find when I returned home — a feeling I needed to remember — and when it wasn’t there, I felt a little lost. It was like I’d never lived there at all, a frightening feeling for someone who orients herself by her birthplace and current residence.

I haven’t blogged much this month because I’ve been trying to reconcile making the kind of art that matters to me with publishing content people respond to.  I’m actively trying to find a “home” for what I do. But it occurred to me that I can do both, and that I’ve already created a place for myself. So you’ll see a bit more of that going forward, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

This session was shot in Norwood, one of Birmingham’s historic neighborhoods, at the site of my dream house. Yes, it’s stripped down, and no, it’s not restored to its former glory. But there’s something poignant in the possibility of what it can be, standing in the grand and proud shadow of what it was. There’s something awesome in what it is, as it is. Can you see it? As a writer/journalist I am searching for the stories in our ruined memories, looking for treasure buried by the ravages of time.  It doesn’t have to be pretty.  Somehow I think that desire was caught on film this time, with no filter. What has this house seen? What stories can it tell, and what stories does it wait to welcome? That speaks to me, and the same is true for us as people. It’s why I love what I do.

It’s also why this outfit represents Magic City classic style for me: a turtleneck sweater, suede loafers, and denim, with a classic wool and mink coat. I found the coat for $60 at Hanna Antiques in perfect condition a couple of years ago. And what I prize most is its tag from Loveman’s of Alabama (another piece of Birmingham history that we now know as the McWane Center). It’s the kind of outfit I wore when I was in college, and my taste is pretty much the same off the yard.

Knowing yourself and being true to that knowledge means you’ll always be in style.

Special thanks to Mr. Melton, the homeowner, for kindly letting me trespass to daydream.

// Alexis

The High Roller

 

Peplum top: Forever 21 // Sequin fringe skirt: J. Crew // “Lyla” heels: Steve Madden // Clutch: Target  

Yes, I actually wear what you see me posting here. This fun (and comfortable!) white and gold look was my outfit for Saturday’s “Harlem in the ‘Ham” fundraiser, hosted by the UAB Minority Health Research Center’s Young Professional Board.

The look I was going for is “modern flapper,” in keeping with the event’s theme. The high-wattage glamour of the sequined fringe skirt is toned down by its sweater knit material and the addition of a simple cream strapless peplum. Simple hoops and a ring with a gold clutch and barely-there heels complete the look, along with sleek hair and a neutral face.

A special shout out goes to my glam squad: Kim Colvin (makeup) and James Adams, Jr. (hair). My hair and makeup held up after hours of circulating and schmoozing — but my feet were killing me by 2 a.m.! Congrats to the MHRC YPB for a fabulously executed event!

XO // Alexis

Power & Passion

 

Silk blouse, wool slacks, leopard pumps and necklace via J.Crew

Who says you can’t go home again? I was really excited to get to shoot these photos in my hometown (Brewton, Alabama). I’ve been going home quite often lately and wanted to show off some of its beauty and meaning. When I saw the gorgeous geraniums out front at The Leigh Place, I knew it would be the perfect spot.

Although it’s not quite Fall, I’m wearing one of the seasons major upcoming color trends: Red. The fiery color of passion and power is one of my favorites, and wearing it from head to toe is a risk I’m willing to try. Wearing a monochromatic look in this way also has a slimming effect. If you’d like to try the trend in a more subtle way, separates make it easy. Just pair a blouse, shoe or slacks with a more neutral item. And a red lip is always in season–MAC’s Ruby Woo is a must-have that works for just about all complexions!

See more shots from this look at Instagram.

XO // Alexis

 

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