by Grace Bonney

After spending two jam-packed, wonderful days in Birmingham, Alabama (I wish I had a guide to link to here, any locals want to share how awesome it is?) I was mostly happy to come home. Mostly only because I absolutely fell in love with Birmingham and didn’t want to leave. I wanted someone to magically hand me a tiny house in English Village and stuff me full of chocolate popovers at Continental Bakery every morning. Is that too much to ask? Oh it is? Oh, ok. Well, I’ll continue to wish that I win one of New York’s nine million lottery contests and can somehow afford to buy a tiny home there. Really, is there anything better than wonderful towns in the South? Every time I visit my accent comes back out and I start wondering why I don’t live somewhere that dogwood trees grow with abundance and people say hello to you on the street and aren’t asking for you to sign a petition.

Anyway, I was happy to come home, but after a trip I find myself needing to be surrounded by simplicity and quiet. All the flying and meetings and nervousness leaves me craving a quiet apartment full of neutral things that subtly welcome me back home. While I can’t go changing the color of the things I already own, I can embrace little details that feel like the kind of simplicity I crave. I’ve had these cards from TokkeTok on my desktop for a few days for that same reason. They’re clean, simple and just beautiful. I have some thank you note writing on my horizon (how do I write the entire city of Birmingham a note for welcoming us with open arms?) so these will come in handy. If you’d like to pick up some you can do so right here for about $5. xo, grace

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  • I love the south. I miss my home of Nashville. I live in Orlando but it’s not the same. Glad you had a wonderful trip!

  • hi! i am from alabama! and i would LOVE to do a city guide for Birmingham!!!! I’m currently living in Dakar, Senegal, but desperately missing Birmingham. It would be good (and fun) for me to do one!!!!

  • We lived in Birmingham for a few years after college and LOVED it. Still miss it. Still talk about moving ‘home’.

  • Grace,
    You *can* write a thank you to the whole city. Send it as a letter to the editor of the local paper and they will surely print it. People like to be reminded that they have chosen a wonderful place to live.

  • So glad you enjoyed us! We are a wonderful little secret, aren’t we? Bet no one believes you! :-)

  • I’m SO glad you liked Birmingham!! My extended family has been there my whole life. I hope someone writes a city guide, I’d love to read it!!

  • My favorite restaurants in B’ham are both Frank Stitts’ (he has great Southern cookbooks too). They are Highlands and Bottega – gourmet farm to table. I hear you on the southern accent. I live in Baltimore (amazing post on Wye Oak by the way. They’re playing here Saturday and we are going) – but every time I return home down south to Pensacola on the Gulf Coast the accent returns…and people do say hi. It’s easy to miss the South.

  • So glad that you enjoyed the ‘ham! When you finally get that tiny cottage with its 6 or 7 figure price (seriously) in English Village, make sure you venture back out to downtown to What’s on 2nd, the best vintage/thrift/curiosity shoppe in the south, get some funky art at Naked Art (because who doesn’t love a hot pink chap wearing Greek statue), and get a cup of coffee by local Higher Ground Roasters, who make the best organic, fair trade coffee anywhere!

  • I’m a Birmingham native, now living in New York City. Every time I go home I find something new to love about that place. Glad you had a good visit!

  • Did you make it over to Railroad Park?? It is truely a lovely oasis in the city. I live downtown and love it! Come back soon! :)

  • My hometown :) Lakeview, Avondale / Crestwood, and Downtown are really starting to thrive thanks in part to the fantastic art community there. It’s a hidden gem of a city. The world class art museum, Saw’s bbq, so many mediterranean places to eat like Nabeel’s and Pita Stop, the McWane center, UAB ArtLab, lots of fantastic small businesses in Homewood – sigh… now I’m homesick.

  • It is so nice to here praise of Birmingham! I live in California now, but I am from there and I love it so very much. Southern people that live in other parts of the country get used to people looking at them cross eyed when they tell them where they are from, and it is tiresome having to defend a place that you love and take pride in to everyone you meet. Thanks for publicly admitting that Birmingham is great! Also, Tokketok is so beautiful. I am always amazed by there work.

  • I grew up in the ‘Ham and am currently living in San Francisco. I do miss the wonderful hospitality and little gems of my hometown. Also, there is nothing better than the Pepper Place Farmer’s Market!

  • I’m so glad you had a great time in Birmingham! I’ve grown up here- in fact, I just graduated from UAB. Ever since my trip to New York last summer, all I’ve been able to think about was how to get back there as soon as possible. But your post reminds me of all the wonderful things I’ve got right here at home. Thanks for that!

  • Birmingham IS great, and I’m so glad you loved it. You should scoot over to Jackson, MS some time. It’s got some great artsy neighborhoods plus some top notch local restaurants. Thanks for the bakery recommendation. I’ll have to try it out.

  • I live in English Village, and I love the Continental Bakery. I walk there several times a week for fresh bread and other goodies. The cafe next door, Chez Lulu, is a great little place to eat. It will one of the things I miss most about Birmingham when I move in a few weeks!

  • I’m from England, live in Miami and have a cute little place just outside of Chattanooga – I love the South! Just spent a great weekend in North Carolina, so lovely – Asheville is fun and funky! I was very prejudiced against the South until I came here but now I love it so much.