Winslet & Rhys

I forget how I came across Winslet and Rhys, but I'd been following them on instagram for a while before I got a chance to visit their store. It opened fairly recently near the main drag of the Avondale neighborhood, about two miles from downtown Birmingham. It was opened by Brittany Baker, who just also happens a letterpress artist, and Mallory Collier. On one of my visits to the store I had the pleasure of chatting with Brittany, who is super sweet by the way, and learned that the name Winslet and Rhys was inspired by each of their maiden names, Winslett and Rice, respectively. How fun, right?!

Unlike a lot of stores in California with a similar aesthetic, Winslet & Rhys offer a good range of price points for their pieces, many of which are made by local or independent artists. A necklace I've been eye-ing is about $40, which is quite affordable considering it's handmade by an artist here in town. It was the perfect store to buy my sister-in-law her Christmas present, a simple cuff from Maslo Jewelry, based in Richmond, VA. Mallory and Brittany do a really great job curating beautiful and unique items for whatever you're looking for whether that's home goods, jewelry, clothing, or cute, little baby things. They have a little bit of everything. 

If you're ever visiting me or local, Winslet and Rhys is definitely a place to buy something for yourself and a friend. Speaking of which, since it's Valentine's Day, you could definitely pick up a last minute gift for your honey at Winslet and Rhys. (They have stuff for guys, too!) 

Anyway, I hope your day is filled with lots of love. Check out Winslet & Rhys and Happy Valentine's Day!

Oh, and how lovely is their store? Don't you just wish this was how your home looked?


Winslet & Rhys, 4000 3rd Avenue South, Suite 105, BIrmingham, AL. January 27, 2017 | Fuji x100s

Know Thyself

"Observe all men; thy self most."
- Benjamin Franklin

The other morning I woke up in the biggest funk. Maybe it was that awful nightmare I had. Maybe it was seeing a missed opportunity. Maybe it was realization of something too unexpected. Maybe it was being cooped up. Or the rain. Or the tube strike. Maybe because it was Monday. Who knows.

Whatever it was, I was feeling quite anxious.

I remember the first time I heard the word anxious used in a context other than in reference to anticipation and eagerness; it was used to convey worry, nervousness or unease, and I thought, "That's me. That's me right now." At times I suffer from anxiety; I feel so overwhelmed that I want to cry or it makes me so physically exhausted that all I feel like I can do is sleep. Anxiety makes me feel like I can't think or mentally process anything or that I'm spiraling into a bottomless pit. Sometimes it's set off by something, but other times it comes upon me for no apparent reason. 

When I realized what was going on with me was anxiety, it suddenly became easier to deal with, even if ever so slightly. It was like I suddenly put a name to an answer to a question I never realized I was asking. I started to get to know myself better, seeing what worked and what didn't work. I eventually learned what would help me when I felt anxious like taking a step back and just stopping what I was doing, taking a walk, laying down and decompressing, reading or talking things through with someone. 

So yesterday, that's what I did. I did all those things. Lance and I walked over seven miles through west London. We pored over books in several bookstores. We talked about life and serious things and laughed at silly things. We read. While my anxiety lingered with me throughout the day, I was able to manage some of those feelings enough to not let it ruin my day. Sometimes I face struggles that I feel I cannot overcome, but over the years I've learned the answer can often be found in simply knowing myself better. 


Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, AL | Canon Rebel XSN. film processed by Indie Film Lab

How to Drive in Birmingham

Stockton Street San Francisco Street Photography

Let me start off by saying, I'm not the best driver. I've had my driver's license for almost two years and been actually only driving for a year, so I'm definitely not a seasoned driver. I am, however, fairly knowledgeable of the California DMV driver's handbook. I read that book front-to-back several times in preparation for my written test and to familiarize myself with the rules of the road. I know the driving laws for California. 

I've only driven in California once, but I can tell you Alabama drivers and driving is nothing like California. You'd image that since the Bay Area is a much larger area with a larger population that the traffic would be crazier than Birmingham, but it's not. I can say, hands down, that Alabama drivers are the complete worse drivers I have ever witnessed, and I've been to places like China, India, Boston, New York, LA...etc--places with notoriously aggressive and chaotic traffic. Well, they've got nothing on Birmingham and here's why:

If you want to drive in Alabama you just need to do the following to fit in:

Ignore all emergency vehicles when their lights are flashing.  Do not stop or pull over. This is probably the worse thing drivers do around here. I live in about a 10 minute driving radius to at least four major hospitals, so there are constantly ambulances with their emergency lights on on the road. You'll often see ambulances with their sirens on getting stuck behind cars who just won't pull over.  Because it happens more often than not, I honestly wonder if they know they're supposed to let the ambulances through. Lance once pulled over to the side of the road for an ambulance and the car behind him honked him!

Drive at least 10-15 miles over the speed limit in the slow lane and about 20-30 miles over the speed limit if you're not in the slow lane. I'm not sure why but everyone here seems like they're in a rush to get somewhere. Why? I don't know. It takes about 5-15 minutes to get everywhere in Birmingham, but yet a lot of drivers speed. In my neighborhood, I'll sometimes find that people drive 35-40 mph where it's a 25 mph speed limit. And that leads me to my next "tip".

Tail the car in front of you like you're glued to their bumper. If you're driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I completely understand driving that close to the car in front of you, but drivers in Alabama will tail cars regardless of whether traffic is going 20 mph or 90 mph. I have no idea why people do this. It's so unsafe. I prefer to drive with at least a car's length distance in front of me. When we're in California, everyone maybe be speeding or driving fast or whatever, but everyone has a reasonable distance between them and the car in front of them (i.e. the faster the speed, the larger the distance between cars.) 

Tail and pass everyone in front of you. Make sure to also weave through traffic, too. If you don't don't drive at least 10-15 mph faster than the speed limit, you'll most likely anger the car behind you. They'll come up really close behind you, pass you, then purposely cut you off. And this is in 40 mph roads and 70 mph roads; it doesn't matter to them. Seriously, the drivers are pretty reckless. They need to slow their roll.

Speed up when there's a yellow light, no matter how far you are from the intersection. Bonus points for running the red light. I know this is pretty common everywhere, but it seems especially commonplace here. I feel like at most intersections this happens. This is particularly crazy to me because it's pretty obvious that yellow means slow and red means stop. Didn't we all play "red light green light" as a child? 

At a four-way stop go when it's not your turn. I've been at countless four-way stops and people often disregard the laws where the first one who arrives at the stop gets to go first or if you arrive at the same time, the car to the right has priority. Here drivers go after the car the in front of them. It boggles my mind. 

Park wherever you want. I don't really see this anywhere else in the country, but drivers will park literally anywhere. It doesn't matter if it's a grass island in a parking lot or the fire lane or loading zone, people just park wherever they want. One time I was parked in a parking spot and another car parked behind me boxing me and the car next to me in. 

Do not let drivers in. I see this happen both on the freeway and the streets. If there's a stoplight or stopped traffic, drivers will block intersections or entrances to parking lots, preventing other drivers from pulling onto the street. On the freeways we have spots where the freeways converge with other freeways and you need to quickly change lanes to get where you need to go. There are also some, what I think, wacky on-ramps that end quickly. In both these scenarios I see cars speed up so those merging cars can't come into their lanes.  It's crazy. 

Finally, do not use your blinker, ever. This is one of the scarier things for me. I never really quite know where someone is going or if they'll stop suddenly to make a turn. People will not turn on their blinker to exit, change lanes, turn, indicate a turn at intersection...etc. So I never really know where people are going. It puts me on edge.

I should note while these things are pretty common here, obviously not everyone drives crazy. Birmingham is a great place, and I absolutely love it here. I am just always shocked at how unsafe and not-so-nice some of the driving is here, more so than any other place I've visited. While talking about this with friends, someone once mentioned it could be because people are coming into Birmingham from the country where there's less enforcement of rules. So maybe that's it. Either way, Birmingham has really great, amazing people, but just, you know, generally awful drivers. :D 


Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA. April 15, 2015 | Canon Rebel XSN. Kodak Gold 400 film processed by Richard Photo Lab

Woodlawn Cycle Cafe

Woodlawn Cycle Cafe

Birmingham has a new coffee shop, and it melts my California-hipster-millennial heart. 

Enter: Woodlawn Cycle Cafe. Thanks to Birmingham local, Jessica Furniss, I discovered the Woodlawn Cycle Cafe shortly after it had opened. The food is majorly delicious, and the interior design is on point.  It’s a quiet place for hanging out or doing work.  From what I hear the coffee is also amazing, which doesn’t surprise me because they sell MadCap Coffee.  

I really loved the whole vibe of the place. The couple of times I went it seemed like everyone knew each other, which I love in a coffee shop… locally supported and a welcoming environment. 

According to owner, Armand Margjeka, "Cycle Cafe is a concept that very softly revolves around Bicycle culture. It's really a destination point for cyclists, but it does not mean it's only for cyclists." He and part-owner, Kyle Campbell, are leasing the space from REV Birmingham, “an economic development organization that stimulates business growth and improves quality of life in Birmingham, Alabama’s City Center and its Neighborhood Commercial Centers,” (according to its website).  Woodlawn Cycle Cafe is located in the Woodlawn area of Birmingham, where the high-school-sports-inspirational movie, Woodlawn, also takes place. Birmingham has seen a resurgence of businesses in the past couple of years and seems to only be growing.  It’s exciting to live in Birmingham right now where small and large businesses alike are popping up everywhere. 


Woodlawn Cycle Cafe, 5530 1st Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama 35212. February 12, 2016 | Fuji x100s + iPhone 6

Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Film

One of my first cameras was a Canon AE-1 film camera I borrowed from my uncle when I was a kid.  Since then I’ve not shot film except instant film with my Polaroid Land Camera and Fuji Instax mini.  After reading this post by Elise, I thought, “Why not give it a go and see what comes out of it.” I bought the same camera she used, the Canon Rebel XSN, for about $19 and used some film I had lying around.  Thankful, since it was a canon camera, I could use the lenses I already owned.  

Over the first half of 2015 I shot five and half rolls of film and left them sitting on my desk, forgotten until a couple weeks ago when Richard Photo Lab made an announcement that they’d be processing and scanning film for anyone at Field Trip, a photography conference/retreat/adventure/experience I attended last week.  I dropped off five rolls with them, not expecting anything.  After all I had no real experience with film and didn’t know anything about how to shoot film except for the Jose Villa book’s, Fine Art Wedding Photography (which is an amazing read, btw).  

But let me tell you, when I picked up my film and went through the proofs I was amazed. Seriously amazed.  I couldn’t tell you how the images turned out so well.  Was it the film type? Was is Richard Photo Lab’s magic? I couldn’t say.  But whatever happened, I was so happy with the pictures! Here’s a few of them!


Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, AL. April 2, 2015 | Canon Rebel XSN. Kodak Gold 400. Richard Photo Lab