Pick 5: ordinary items with extraordinary uses

We all have those quirky little things we do to make our lives easier around the house or in the car. This week’s Pick 5 is all about making your life easier with a few simple fixes and remedies for household items or your car.

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Photos by Jennifer Ferry

What’s On 2nd: a journey back in time

These selected items were collected from around the antique store What’s On 2nd located downtown. Their sentimental value far surpasses their actual prices.While you probably won’t find these items on a return visit because the store layout is always changing, here is a look into the store of faded memories and once crazed fads.

 

Photos by Catherine Farist

Birmingham street style: Week Five

This week I hit the streets of Homewood to see what style I could find closer to home. I happened upon four stylish women, all of whom were a delight to photograph. Check out their styles below: eclectic, gothic and a little in between.

Alyssa, age 20, UAB student

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Shirt: Urban Outfitters
Pants: Forever 21
Shoes: DSW

K: Describe your style in one word.
A: People call me gothic, I don’t know. I’d say gothic chic.

K: What’s your go-to item in your closet?
A: Boots and black pants.

K: What are three wardrobe  essentials you couldn’t live without?
A: Boots, black pants and black shirts.

 

Courtney, age 24, web developer for Church of the Highlands

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Shirt: Target
Scarf: Francesca’s
Jeans: Jessica Simpson
Shoes: Belk

K: What’s your favorite trend this season?
C: Anything mint colored.

K: What are three wardrobe essentials you couldn’t live without?
C: Skinny jeans, solid tanks, and either boots or flats depending on the season.

K: What’s your favorite store in Birmingham to shop in?
C: The Loft.

 

Lele, age 25, JH Ranch

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Shirt: Boutique in North Carolina
Jeans: Forever 21
Glasses: Ray Ban
Headband: Anthropologie

K: Describe your style in one word.
L: Eclectic.

K: What’s your go-to item in your closet?
L: A cotton dress.

K: What’s your favorite store in Birmingham to shop at?
L: Anthropologie

 

Kristen, age 32, JH Ranch

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Shirt: Gap
Blazer: Gap
Jeans: Citizen
Shoes: Steve Madden
Glasses: Target

Ka: Describe your style in one word.
Kr: Classic.

Ka: What’s your favorite trend this season?
Kr: Pastel jeans.

Ka: What is your go-to item in your closet?
Kr: Boyfriend denim button-up.

Photos by Katie Willis

Birmingham Flea Market Reopens at Fair Park

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Bargain hunters of Birmimgham, rejoice! The Birmimgham Flea Market has been re-established.

This past December the market hosted a “grand reopening” in the Bill Harris Arena at Fair Park.

Birmingham Flea Market has always been nestled in historic Fair Park. After the demolition of old buildings, however, the market took a hit.

The flea market has been going on for more than thirty years. Even after relocating and revamping the famous market, the rich traditions faithfully trailed alongside. Some past visitors are still shocked to hear of its survival, while other vendors and loyal companies have never dared to doubt the market’s livelihood.

After initially relocating to the Bill Harris arena, the market operated under the radar for some time. The December reopening was an effort to truly “bring it back to life.” At the reopening the market supported more than forty vendors, some new and some loyal returners. Events like a fashion show from local vendors, classic fairground treats, and the local food trucks’ presence rekindled the excitement for the once-thriving flea market.

The market is sure to have something, if not everything, for all Birmingham types. Various boutiques and independent vendors have latched on to the market as well. From clothing, books, furniture, crafts, jewelry, to the most unique collectables of all sorts, the Birmingham Flea Market never disappoints.

The atmosphere makes the experience memorable. The finds make the trip successful. And the charm of tradition keeps the guests coming back again and again.

 

Photos by Stevi Sappenfield

The New Folklore: Neulore’s “new tradition” makes storytelling the focus

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The folk revival is in full swing, with bands like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars (to name a few), making a traditional genre cool again. In the midst of these time-turning bands is Neulore, a Nashville-based group that is putting a new twist on story-telling music.

The name of the band itself is a play on “folklore” and was coined by frontman Adam Agin to represent what he calls “a new tradition” in music.

Stories are the heartbeat of Neulore’s music. “I think of music like a whole story. I get lost in it; I dream up these big stories and plots and scenarios,” Agin says.

Don’t expect the band to tell you the story behind the songs though.

“We figured out with our last record that if you tell people what music means then that’s what it means to them,” guitarist William T. Cook says. “But if you give people the freedom to interpret it how they want to based on what’s going on in their lives and their relationships then they can connect with it on different levels than you would have ever even imagined.”

Cook refers to their last record, Apples and Eve, which was clearly inspired by Adam and Eve of biblical fame. He and Agin agree that they want to keep the meanings of future records more ambiguous.

“It’s really cool how music can mean something to me and it can mean something completely different to you,” Agin says. “When you hear [your favorite record] it takes you back to a setting. It takes you back to that summer road trip or that time that your boyfriend broke up with you and you’ve been sitting in your bedroom for three weeks. It takes you back to that time and we want to allow you to do that.”

Agin says that people have approached him and told him how one of the band’s songs helped them through a particular time in their lives and what the songs have meant to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s not what the song is about Agin says, “It’s about how you connect with it and that’s what’s important.”

Agin and Cook both live and breathe music. While they enjoy performing live, their true passion is the process of creating the music. “For me it’s always been therapeutic,” Cook says. “Writing music is like trying to embody where you’re at emotionally and psychologically at that point and how that comes out into melody and chords.”

“Getting lost in the dream of it is where I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do,” Agin says.

They encourage everyone, whether they are pursuing a music career or not, to find what they are passionate about and do it.

“Don’t ever do anything for the money. If right after college you know what you’re supposed to be doing then go do that and you’ll figure out how to survive,” Cook says. “Practical doesn’t work in terms of happiness. I think you can be poor as poor can be, [but] if you’re still reaching for your dream, you’re still going to be happy.”

Agin agrees. “So many people are afraid,” he says. “The people that can overcome the fear are the people who actually make something that is worth experiencing.”

Although there is no official release date set, be on the lookout for a new record from Neulore in the near future. Their new single, “Shadow of a Man,” is available on iTunes and was featured in one of the latest “Kid President” videos.

 

 

Photos and Video by Rachel Freeny

Financial advice for the new grad

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Dave Ramsey. Most likely, that name rings a bell. Author, radio host, television personality, speaker, and most importantly, financial expert. Ramsey has gained national fame for his financial system that emphasizes living debt-free.

Apparently financial wisdom runs in the family. Ramsey’s daughter, Rachel Cruze, has joined the family business with a passion to change the way the upcoming generation views money.

Cruze now travels the country to speak to young people about wise money management. When asked what she considers the most important financial advise for a new college graduate, Cruze gave several invaluable tips.

Cruze said creating a $1000 emergency fund as quickly as possible after graduation is imperative.

“This emergency fund should be your first goal and should be established within weeks if possible,” Cruze says.

Next, she recommends starting a zero base budget (see side bar) as soon as you get your first paycheck. She explains that after calculating all monthly expenses and savings, every dollar earned should have a place within your budget, which allows you to be intentional with your money.

“We like to say that budgeting your money is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went,” Cruze says.

After establishing a budget, Cruze says to concentrate on getting out of debt. She highly recommends paying off small debts first regardless of interest rates, and then moving on to larger debts.

“Paying off small debts first gives us motivation because we see progress. Its like losing weight, when you lose a few pounds, it motivates you to keep going,” Cruze says. “Do everything you can to squeeze money and pay off small debts, then move on to larger ones, like student loans.”

When thinking about saving long-term, Cruze advises to pay off all debts first before switching focus.

“When your ready, start a traditional savings account or a money market account for things you plan to buy within the next five years, like a new car or a vacation,” Cruze says. “There is less risk involved.”

For long-term savings, Cruze recommends putting your money in a 401k or a Wroth IRA (tax-free) account.

 

Photo provided by The Lampo Group

How Skateboarding is Thriving in Birmingham

During these tough economic times, it is always encouraging to hear about the prosperity of local businesses.

In the thick of revitalizing 2nd Avenue North, Faith Skateboard Supply has stayed strong though the recession and extended its reach throughout the Birmingham community since opening in 1995.

Peter Karvoven, the owner of Faith Skateboard Supply, understands the impact a sport like skateboarding can have around the Birmingham community.

Not only does Faith Skateboard Supply support local skateboard professionals, but the store also hosts demos and builds skate venues since the Birmingham area doesn’t have many options.

And that is what makes Faith Skateboard Supply’s drive to build up the skateboard community even more important. In an interview with al.com, Karvoven says that Birmingham talks about expanding the skateboarding culture, but for the most part has failed to follow through.

“The [skateboarding] culture is amazing,” Karoven says to al.com. “It’s just that Birmingham is so far behind that they don’t understand how popular skateboarding really is.”

With the rejuvenation of downtown, the likelihood of skateboarding expanding in the city grows stronger. Although skateboarding is behind in Birmingham, Karvoven hopes that Faith Skateboard Supply will continue to grow in the coming years.

“Retail is a hard thing these days, since everything is online or at the mall,” Karvoven adds in the al.com interview. “But there’s a certain nostalgia to independent retail still. Hopefully, people still continue to believe in it and feel it.”

Photo taken by business.transworld.net

Video of demos from Faith Skate Supply

Pick 5: Volunteer opportunities in Birmingham

1) Make-A-Wish: Make a child’s lifelong wish become reality as you partner with Make-A-Wish of Alabama. You can donate financially or become a wish granter. Either way, get involved and see the smiles of children when they find out their wishes are coming true. For more information, visit alabama.wish.org

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Photo credit to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

2) The Lovelady Center: Become a part of the life-changing ministry of the Lovelady Center in Birmingham. This ministry helps women who have been released from prison reintegrate into society while teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ. Donate your time as a prayer warrior, help clean up and redecorate around the center so that the women feel more at home or donate your gently used items to the Lovelady Thrift Store. For more information, visit loveladycenter.org

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Photo credit to the Lovelady Center of Birmingham.

3) American Heart Association: Join the American Heart Association as it seeks to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease in our country. Donate your funds or be a part of the Birmingham Heart Walk June 22, 2013. For more information on how you can get involved and help fight the No. 1 killer of Americans, visit heartwalk.org

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Photo credit to the American Heart Association.

4) Jimmy Hale Mission: More than just a shelter for men, women and children, Jimmy Hale Mission serves as a recovery and education center. If you are looking to offer financial support, there are many different options. The shelter also accepts product donations such as clothes, toiletries and even toys for the children. If personal interaction is more what you’re looking for, it’s always a blessing to see a friendly face serving a meal, tutoring a child or leading a Bible study. To find more volunteer opportunities, check out jimmyhalemission.com

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Photo credit to jimmyhalemission.com

5) American Cancer Society: Help raise cancer awareness by getting involved in relays and other sponsored events. Donations are always welcome, but if you’re looking to do more than just donate money, why not try your old car or frequent flyer miles? Both are accepted and deeply appreciated. For more information, visit cancer.org

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Photo credit to cancer.org

Oodles of Approval for Doodle’s Sorbets and Ices

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As warm weather shines on Birmingham, the “doodle dance” comes out of hibernation. “What’s that?” you say. Oh, just this happy little jig a satisfied customer will do after a bite of delicious sorbet from the one, the only, Doodle’s.

This Birmingham original claimed the title as a lighter ice cream alternative long before the frozen yogurt train chugged through Steel City. And now that it’s warm enough to eat an icy sweet treat outside, Doodle’s will be calling in the crowds.

This homegrown business operates out of a simple white trailer on a vast patch of green in Cahaba Heights; complete with patio furniture and real life Lincoln logs to rest your caboose. It’s a little off the beaten path, but one trip to this trailer park will have you hooked on all 53 flavors and counting.

RRDoodle3Cookies and cream is a fan favorite, with ample chunks of real Oreo cookies. Then there’s Ninja Turtle—a green mix of flavors you’ll just have to try on your own. For the indecisive, don’t distress. The friendly staff offers suggestions, free samplings and multi-flavored scoops.

If you’re looking for a local hangout, Doodle’s is definitely your destination. It’s one of those hidden gems where the cool people know to frequent. You might have to put up with high school crowds on weekends, but you can’t blame them for their good taste. Grab a friend or two and make your way down to the hot spot behind The Summit. Try not to love this sensational sorbet—I dare ya.

Doodle’s Sorbets & Ices
3238 Cahaba Heights Road
Birmingham, AL
(205) 478-6082

Open all week 11:00 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cash and now debit cards are accepted.

 

Photos by Reed Richardson

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

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Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies is the classic love story with a bit of a twist: the hero is a zombie.

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) stars as a young zombie, who narrates the movie as he trudges along the apocalyptic city. While out looking for food, otherwise known as anything with flesh and a brain, he and his herd stumble across Julie (Teresa Palmer), and he decides to save her rather than eat her. As he spends time with her, the human connection he feels for her changes him, and it begins to cure him of his disease.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This movie sounds incredibly cheesy and stupid; why on earth would I want to waste my time? Before you write this movie off as terrible, hear me out.

I went in with the expectation of Warm Bodies being the next “Twilight”; meaning I expected a ridiculously bad attempt at a zombie comedy (if such a thing existed). It completely blew my expectations out of the water. Yes, it is cheesy and could be considered the equivalent of Twilight to some, but I would beg to differ that it is quality entertainment. My best friend went with me and was very skeptical before the movie began. By the time we left the theater, all we could do was quote the hysterical one-liners.

Filled with quirky romantic moments, witty lines and blood-and-guts action, “Warm Bodies” is perfect for the night when you can’t decide on which type of film you want to watch because it has a bit of everything.

Photo courtesy of aceshowbiz.com