Friday, December 31, 2010

Some Thoughts on 2010

I don’t want to go on forever about 2010 or we’ll be here all day. The one thing that stood out to me the most about this past year was the feeling that I was really an adult. In January I took a fellowship with Southern Living magazine as an assistant copy editor. I had a paycheck, my own apartment, and a pretty independent life. I look back on this past year and I really am thankful for that degree of independence, especially after spending most of 2009 wondering if I was going to get any job.

Tomorrow, it will have been exactly a year since I moved to Birmingham, someplace I never imagined I’d live. B’ham proved to me that you can never judge a place by your pre-conceived expectations and exceeded any expectations I had.

Sure, the traffic can be bad, no, the shopping isn’t as great as Atlanta, but Magic City boasts an abundance of great local restaurants, beautiful neighborhoods, a lively arts and music scene, and lovely people who really care about their city. It’s a place that’s large enough that you need a year or two to really explore fully, and you will almost always be delighted with what you do discover. I didn’t really understand how much I loved it until I was literally driving away but that city will hold a special place in my heart.

Working for Time Inc. (who owns Southern Living, Cooking Light and other familiar brands under their LifeStyle branch) opened my eyes to the perks and ugly realities of working for a corporate company. It was difficult sometimes to bear the changes, but the experience I gained there both as a copy editor and then as a production assistant for is invaluable. I’ve always been really blessed to work with colleagues that care about their work and each other, and I was blessed again while working at Time Inc.

As this year draws to a close, I’m happy to look back on 2010 as a year during which I was satisfied with all aspects of my life, from my private life to my work life. I’m always more and more surprised at the end of each year to find that such a large amount of time has already passed, but I’m looking forward to 2011.

I’d by flat out lying if I’d said I wasn’t a little depressed to be unemployed again, but I’m back in the Atlanta area with my family, my best friends, and though it’s a struggle some days to be thankful, I try. I’m confident that the right opportunities will open for me and I really hope that I can recognize and capitalize on all of them.

Good or bad, I hope that all of you can close this year with a peaceful heart and I wish everyone all the best in 2011!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat Halloween Banner

I had a little last minute Halloween decorating inspiration, and I designed a paper and ribbon Trick or Treat banner. I took my time creating this, but if you're moving right along, this should take you two hours or less.

You will need:
Print out letters -- I used this template from
Black paper -- construction paper or thicker
Glue stick or rubber cement
Colored ribbon -- I bought this black and orange striped version from Hobby Lobby
Orange marker
Hole punch (a 3-hole works fine)
Glue gun (optional)

Step 1: Save the letter template to your computer. Using Photoshop or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, crop the letters you will need and save them as individual files. This way you can print the exact letters you need, and be able to size them to your liking.

Step 2: In a Word document, insert and arrange 3 T's, 3 R's and 1 A, C, E, I, K, and O. Hint: Double click each image and under Format>Text Wrapping click Square. Will make it easier to move them. I made mine about 4" across. Print and cut out your letters.

Step 3: This is where the bowl comes in. I used one that is about 5" across, which gave me about an inch border around my letters. Use whatever you have on hand and that you like visually and leave enough room to punch a whole at the top. Trace the bowl with a pencil on your black paper. Cut out the circles.

Step 4: Glue your letters onto the black paper circles. Let dry for a few minutes.

Step 5: Punch holes at the top of the black circle. You can do one or two, like I've done, to really show off your ribbon.

Step 6: Embellish your letters. I simply added some orange around the star in each letter, but you could draw curlicues, color the letters completely, draw pumpkins, etc.

Step 7:
Cut enough ribbon to string your letters, plus an extra foot to give you some room to work with. For this banner, there are 12 letters 5" across, so multiply that and you'll need roughly 6' of ribbon.

Step 8: String your letters onto the ribbon and space to your liking.

Step 9 (optional): If you have a glue gun, heat it up and glue the ends of your ribbon in a loop for easy hanging. Trim the ends if they're a little ragged.

Step 10: Find a place to display your banner and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baked Fruit: Dessert and Air Freshener

The other night I was jonesin' for something sweet to eat, but I didn't have anything immediately on hand. Upon inspection of my kitchen, I realized that there were two pears and an apple sitting all by their lonesome in my fruit basket.

And now that it's fall you know what that means -- baked fruit deliciousness! Pears baked up very similarly to apples -- they sugar and fruit juice create a lovely sweet syrup and the fruit softens and sweetens as it bakes.

To prepare the fruit, I cut them all in half, scooped out the cores, and sprinkled them with ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar (approximate). You can adjust the spices to your taste, and you can also sub the sugar for honey. I baked them for 40 at 350 degrees.

I always know when they're done because suddenly I'll get a nose full of sweet fruit and spices. I sometimes add a little dollop of Cool Whip, or if you want to have a really good dessert, serve the fruit with some vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I Learned Today

(Re-learn from college) However much time you think you need for a project, double it.

Yellow jackets like your lunch. Especially if it includes tuna, turkey, chicken, salami or cheese.

Fall in a Soup Bowl

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall dishes, and it's always a pleasure to grab a bowl at a restaurant. I've always thought about making my own, but I usually go for chilis or bean and meat soups. And, to be truthful, I've been a little unsure of (okay, a little lazy too) dealing with squash.

But recently I had the opportunity to take home a nice squash after we used one in a photo shoot. It was just the right size to use for this soup recipe from Cooking Light. I settled on this savory version so I could pair it with chicken, sandwiches or salads.

After doing a little research in my cookbooks and online, I cut the squash in half first before peeling it. I unearthed a vegetable peeler I didn't know I had and got a peelin'. The contrast between the beige skin and bright orange flesh was very striking.

I simmered the squash, carrots, onion, and chicken stock for some time before throwing it in the blender and pureeing it.

I was a little worried when I tasted it initially, as the dominant flavor was carrot. I mixed it up and popped it in the fridge and hoped the flavors would blend better overnight.

I'm happy to report that all of the flavors melded after a day in the fridge and I've been happily sipping my soup. This recipe is actually pretty plain (the only seasoning is a little salt and the stock) so each time I've had a bowl I've added a different mix of spices such as black pepper, ground ginger, curry powder, and cinnamon. Now that I know how easy (and affordable) making squash soup is, I will definitely prepare this again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Loafing in the Garden

Last night I headed to the Bham Botanical Gardens with some friends to catch up and eat some cocktail hors d'oeuvres at "Cocktails in the Garden," an even put on by the Gardens. This was the third and final event of the series for this year, and the food theme was "Autumn Harvest Feastival."

The food was pretty good, but I skipped on the drinks. For $15 I'd hoped they would include one non-alcoholic drink, but they were all a la carte. My favorite nibbles were the cinnamon and sugar sweet potato fries and cream cheese crostini. And...the doughnuts! Glad I didn't indulge in a Publix doughnut yesterday at the office.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Really Am Writing...Just Not Here

All right kids, here's an update of my "You've Got to Taste This" blog posts I've written for

Fun Fall Chocolate Truffles -- Moonstruck actually contacted us and gave a sneak peek of their fall truffles, so I had to order some and host a tasting with the staff.

Sip for a Cure teas -- We photographed these Republic of Tea Sip for the Cure teas for a Shop Pink gallery, and I decided to try them out and share my thoughts.

Great Food in Auburn -- Review of Amsterdam Cafe. I had lunch here with a friend while visiting her in Auburn, Alabama.

Fun Beverage Accessories -- I'm always trolling websites and Design*Sponge for cute home stuff, and this is a collection of my newest favorite beverage/bar accessories.

National Root Beer Float Day -- Yum, I couldn't resist. One of the only ways I'll drink root beer!

Chill Summer Soups -- prompted by my nostalgia for a luscious strawberry soup I had in Budapest. I created my own peach soup, and tried a mango version from Coastal Living.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pretty Jewelry

Ah, the fruits of my labor. I've been working on a few jewelry projects this week, and here's a peek at what I've finished (or thought I'd finished) so far.

I strung these jade beads together for a simple bracelet to match (kind of) my jade elephant that I bought at World Market. Love that store, btw. You can also see I've got matching earrings. I'm not crazy about how the bracelet and earrings came out, and will probably end up re-doing them. I think my stumbling block is that I'd like to mimic the black string used with the elephant -- but I haven't tried my hand at using that before, so I'll make do with the beads and spacers I've got.

The second project has been a looong time coming. I bought this coral and fire agate necklace about three years ago (a Trisha Waldron design) and eventually found some stones that I liked to match. I'd wrapped them in craft wire because at the time I couldn't afford silver/silver-plated wire.

Not surprisingly, the craft wire tarnished and the earrings really looked like yuck. When I was home a couple weeks ago, I ran by a bead store I used to frequent and bought a couple feet of silver-plated wire. I definitely love these earrings again now that the wrapping looks so nice.

Last, but not least, is my little owl. What a cutie, and what a pain. I strung those amber and apple green beads onto two strands, thinking that would look neat, clean, and awesome, but I hate it. If I'm going to make this cute little avian into a charm, he should be paired with something just as cute, right? After thinking about it for a few days and rummaging through my surplus beads, I pulled out these apple green leaf-shaped beads that look really nice with the owl.

I may have to mosey down to to bead store this weekend or next week and find some more of those leaf beads, since I already know I don't have enough. It just so happens that I saw a commercial last weekend on TV (while I was beading, no less) for a shop in Helena. Google tells me there are other shops that are closer, but I'm superstitious, so I will probably end up in Helena.

More to come as soon as I can translate my ideas into tangible pieces.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Holy BBQ It's Hot!

Last Saturday myself and four other friends braved the unholy hotness of August to check out the "Stokin' the Fire BBQ and Music Festival" at Sloss Furnace.

Did I mention it was hot? But oh so fun:).
As much as Sloss creeps me out, it's a great place for events. They set up a music stage in the ginormous shed near the traintracks, and we hid out there later in the afternoon for the shade.

After walking around to check out where everything was and what all was going on, we headed to the two bbq vendors and grabbed lunch. Amy bought the chicken plate from Governor's BBQ and I chose the pork plate from Fat Boy's BBQ. As far as bbq goes, we thought the food was okay.

There were two super cute kids that sat down across from us with their parents to eat a shaved ice. When Hannah asked the little boy what flavor he had, he replied, "Red!" Ah, little kiddies. I would have taken a picture of these little goobers, but I was too busy wiping red syrup off of my legs after they knocked over their ice. Life lesson #35: Food should be eaten, not played with, especially when the table it's sitting on is slanted towards me.

After, we made a quick stop at the little gift shop, picked up our handy paper fans, and then headed over to a food demonstration. The owner of Chef U (why does that make me giggle?) was grilling up some pork loin with coriander and cumin. She topped it off with a really tasty peach salsa, and I have to say it was delicious. Her earrings were super cute too, and I just had to be that person and instead of asking her about her business, I asked where she got them.

Next on our agenda: making iron tiles. Huh? you say. For $7, you could carve whatever you wanted into a pressed sand block and hand it off to a group of ironworkers; they would then pour molten iron into your pressed sand block, where it would take the shape of your carving after cooling.

The most interesting part of all this was watching these men and women walk around (for obvious safety reasons) in thick jeans, welder's masks, and leather chaps, jackets and gloves, while they worked with the iron. They must build up a tolerance to the stifling heat as I'm sure a normal person would pass out after a few minutes.

Just about that time the People's Choice Tasting started, so we all headed down to the area where the bbq teams were passing out samples. To be short and sweet, there was some tasty bbq, and some not-so-much.

The thing I remember the most from the tasting is actually a sauce. It's called "Alabama Mud," and it's made by JCs Low and Slow. They sell on etsy, and I'm considering buying some. What does it taste like? Hard to say as I've never had anything like it. It's basically the child of a mustard sauce and bbq sauce. It's tangy and sweet like a tomato-based bbq sauce, but has more than a hint of what JC's calls South Carolina mustard. It's also yellow-ish, which threw me off at first.

Once we'd finished the tasting, it was after five o' clock and we were all ready to call it a day. So we picked up our cooled iron tiles and headed home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm getting itchy

Perhaps I'm just glutted on TV and movies, but I've been feeling the urge to get creative this week. I've got some silk flowers, ribbon, empty cans, and lots o' beads sitting around, just waiting to be picked up, mulled over, and somehow put together.

I think my brain is also craving projects that have a finite life. Form idea. Act on idea. See finished product. Being crafty is about so much more than acting on my imagination -- it's also about focusing my mind, following through, and having the satisfaction of seeing the product of my labor.

So much in my life in the opposite, especially when I think about my future and career. My parents talk about having plans. You know, when you create a five year, ten year, life plan of where you want to go and what you want to accomplish. Seriously, I can't even think past August. As of now, my planning skills only work a day to a week out at a time.

So, this weekend, I'll be crafty.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

While I've been out...

I started a new position about a month ago with as their intern, so things have been a teensy bit busy. I am very much enjoying learning how to manage content, build galleries and articles for the site, and getting to use social networking in a professional capacity.

I have, however, managed to write a few posts for our blog, You've Got to Taste This, and I thought I'd put up the links for a little blog love, and to show off my own writing skills:). The first is about my great-grandmother's banana bread; the second is a review of a vegetarian slow cooker cook book; and the third is about my attempts at finding water alternatives for the summer. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Tuesday was a friend's birthday, and she was ever so clever and decided to have a theme party. She and Audrey Hepburn share a birthday, so she chose a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" theme.

Amy hosted the event at her apartment and rented the movie for us. She also requested that we all bring one breakfast item and dress up in either pajamas or Holly's famous black dress and pearl combo.

When I arrived, Amy was cooking up some turkey bacon and eggs. I'd made z
ucchini bread and set it out on one of the plates Amy's roommate had set up for the occasion. In honor of our theme, she decorated the table with black and pink cloth.

Our group has always produced some delicious potlucks, and I was again impressed by the food. Fresh fruit, cheesy grits, lemon-poppyseed pancakes with strawberries, french toast casserole with blueberries and cream cheese, eggs, hash browns and bacon rounded out our meal.

To drink, we had an assortment of juices, and one of the girls brought champagne to make mimosas.

Now, about "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- I'd never seen the movie before, and it was nothing like I expected it would be! I thought it was alternately bizarre and hilarious. I do think my perspective was biased because I keep expecting older movies from that era of film to be much more reserved, and as a result, I found the movie to be much more shocking than I thought I would.

In all, I had a lot of fun, and I commend Amy for choosing such a good theme. I even had some zucchini bread left for breakfast the next morning.

Nashville Weekend Part II

We started Saturday with a delicious breakfast at....our Holiday Inn Express. I kid you not -- fresh biscuits, non-greasy tasty sausage, eggs, fruit and fresh coffee. Two thumbs up, HIE.

A small group of us walked down to the Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame, and the area was already soaked from the rain. I thought that the museum was well organized, and they provided a lot of early history about country music that I had little knowledge of.

After lunch we walked over to Hatch Show Print shop to look at the posters. This is the one place I really wanted to check of my list, and I think what they do is pretty cool.

They are a non-profit (owned by the Museum and Hall of Fame) and they do original posters for all sorts of events using old school printing techniques. When you walk into the store, you can see the shelves where all of the wood blocks are stored. We found posters for races, concerts and fairs in the boxes. I bought a cute Music City poster to hang up in my apartment.

Claire wanted to go back to the boot shop and convince two more of us to buy a pair so we could take advantage of the buy one get two free deal. Amy got a really nice pair right away, but I took a while to look around and agonize over the boots. I didn't find the pair I eventually bought until the last minute. They're super comfortable, which surprised me, and I love the chocolate leather.

At this point, there were sheets of water flowing down the road towards the river, and several tornado sirens went off. And yet, for some reason, I really wasn't that concerned. Nevertheless, we didn't dawdle on the walk back to the hotel.

We crashed in our room (and by crash, I mean pass out and take an awesome nap) until the Derby was about to start. I think Amber woke me up -- she wanted to take bets on the race!

It had stopped raining by the time we went to dinner, which was a nice reprieve. I wish it had stopped raining all together.

We went back to Hillsboro to eat at a restaurant called Cabana. No, it wasn't cheesy beach themed, and the food wasn't tropical either, which I found odd until we got there. Set into one of the outer walls are multiple cabana-style tables, and we were fortunate enough to snag one.

I chose a couple of small plates again for my meal, and three of us shared a plate of fried green tomatoes. My dinner consisted of a mini (about a third of a lunch box sandwich) Brie grilled cheese, tomato soup and a speciality salad with spinach, strawberries, smoked gouda, almonds, red radish, and a citrus dressing.

As small as it was, the Brie grilled cheese was delicious. It was browned, but not burnt, and the Brie was much more satisfying that traditional cheddar or Jack cheese. It was awesome dipped in the soup, which was out of this world, and perfect for the crappy day! It had just a teeny bit of texture from the tomato and just a hint of herbs. The salad was good, but I liked my "Beats and Heat" from the first night better. I could make the Cabana salad at home without much trouble.

The rest of the group headed back to the hotel to rest before going out, while Claire and I killed some time before going to the Bluebird Cafe. Dessert was calling, so we drove back towards downtown and stopped at a diner called Noshville.

They had actually "closed" when we arrived in order to send their employees home. After talking with a couple of the people there, it finally hit me how badly the rain had affected Nashville already. Some areas of the city were already underwater.

After eating our dessert, we made our way to the Bluebird Cafe, and all I have to say to y'all is: if you are in Nashville, you must go see a show here! You can probably just show up and snag a seat, but I recommend reserving space online beforehand.

If you're not familiar with Bluebird, it's a small club that showcases songwriters. They sit in a circle in the middle of the club and there are tables set out around them for the audience. Our show lasted about two hours, and the performers didn't take a break once -- and they were all very good singers, and all of the songs were great.

One of the songwriters, Jaime Kyle, wrote Faith Hill's first hit, "Wild One," and it was amazing to hear her perform a familiar song.

We called it quits after the show since it started raining -- a...gain. The next morning, after another delicious breakfast, I came back to our room to find the girls clued to the news. Central Tennessee was covered in yellow and red.

We talked for about five minutes before deciding to leave as soon as possible, and it was a good choice. When I left the hotel to pack the car, sheets of water were pouring down the side street next to the hotel and we were unable to get onto the highway from downtown.

Claire led our caravan as we wove in and out of neighborhood streets, trying to find a way to the highway that wasn't blocked by a fallen tree or flooded. We finally made it to the highway and hightailed it back to Birmingham.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nashville Weekend Part I

Yes, I was in Nashville during the Great Flood. But it didn't start out that way!

We (five other SPC fellows and I) went to celebrate Lisa and Amy's birthdays, and we stayed right downtown on Broadway, just off the highway.

Claire and I met Lisa and three of her good friends early on Friday. When we arrived, they were taking advantage of the last bit of sun by the pool.

View of the Columbus River from the end of Broadway. Now, completely flooded.

The five of us walked down Broadway towards the river to check out the bars and shopping. We stopped in a boot store to see what kind of stock they had -- Claire's friend at Vandy informed her that many stores had buy one pair of boots, get two free deals, so we had to check it out.

She found her pair right away, but I didn't immediately see anything that caught me. After, the six of us ate dinner at Sunset Grill in the Hillsboro neighborhood. I'd read about Hillsboro in Southern Living and was really curious to see how it lived up to the mag's description.

It's located right down the street from Vandy, less than ten minutes from downtown. The main drag that we visited is filled with businesses that have a trendy, uber-local vibe. It's the kind of neighborhood that you can find in any city and definitely a place I want to go back to!

I shared the seafood platter (crawfish hush puppies, shrimp and grits, one crab cake) with Claire and had a small salad, which was more than enough food. The salad really stood out for me. Sunset called "Chris's version of Beets and Heat" it included baby arugula, goat cheese, candied pecans, blood orange, fennel and golden beets. To balance the sweetness, Sunset serves the salad with a Tabasco-honey vinaigrette. It was tasty enough that I forgot to take a picture before eating it all.

Our server surprised Lisa with a delicious creme brulee!

After the rest of our group arrived after dinner, we headed out to the bars for a while (my favorite was Robert's Western World) but Claire and I called it an early night since we knew Saturday would be such a busy day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Southern Voices

I found out recently about Micah Dalton, a singer-songwriter from the Atlanta area. His style doesn't really fit into one category, but I feel it's kind of rock 'n' roll, kind of bluesy, and a bit of country layered in.

His most recent album, Pawn Shop, came out in 2008. It tells the story of a man named Pawnshop and his experiences, and Dalton partnered with a fiction writer to create vignettes about Pawnshop to connect all of the songs.

Dalton's working on his next album right now, so hopefully in the next year there will be some new tunes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Athens Twilight Weekend

This past weekend was the my first weekend in Athens in about eight months, and I felt good to be back in my college home.

I went with a group of fellows and we stayed at the lovely Foundry. I used to work there, so it was fun to stay as a guest. We weren't there much, but the beds were super comfy and the price tag was just right. There was a wedding there the same weekend, and the hotel was definitely full, but I didn't feel like we experienced a lot of noise.

I'm sad to report that Saturday was rainy and cold! We had lunch at Doc Chey's -- yay! -- and shared the lettuce wraps and I had Chinese Lo Mein with fried tofu. I can't believe how much I missed Doc Chey's, but I inhaled my noodles.

Amy and I took Lisa and Ashley on the usual round of shops, ending at Junkman's Daughter's Brother before heading back to the hotel. Then I headed over to Terrapin with Lisa and Ashley to partake in some delicious Athens brew. The one in the picture is the Pumpkinfest. It has a full flavor, but it's not bitter at all. Oh, and you can really taste pumpkin and spices. Yum!

Afterward, the three of us raced back downtown for dinner at Last Resort -- we even had to climb over some barricades to get there! It was worth it, as always. I had the shrimp quesadilla and garden salad with the jalapeno honey mustard.

It started raining again as soon as we left Last Resort, but we headed over to the race course just as the women's race began. I stayed for a bit, but decided to head back to the hotel as I wasn't exactly dressed for the weather and didn't want to get sick!

For brunch on Sunday, we stopped at The Grit. I opted for the veggie omelet with grits and biscuits. Claire ordered a couple of their "sausage" patties, and I don't know how they make them, but they are delicious, and taste almost exactly like real sausage.

To end our Twilight weekend and take advantage of the gorgeous weather, we gave Ashley and Lisa a tour of North Campus, Tate and the stadium.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is driving in B'ham worse than Atlanta?

I love B'ham -- it's the concept of my dream city come to life -- but some days I'm so over the quirks of the drivers and roads. Hey Bob, let's legalize bingo and set up a few halls whose proceeds can be used exclusively to fund infrastructure and education.

Like when it rains...especially when it rains. Mostly because of...

HORRIBLE road conditions. Tire-eating potholes and low-lying stretches of road prone to flooding make for hazardous driving.


Not all, but many folks seem to have problems merging correctly. I don't want to advocate aggressive driving by any means, but really, if you'd like to merge into traffic, don't coast to the end of the merge lane. You will only succeed in trapping yourself. And I will not feel sorry for you and let you in.

Why do I hit every red light wherever I go? There must not be any money for someone to recheck the lights and retime them.

Why, oh why, are surface streets 25 mph? Is it just so the cop parked in that undeveloped lot can rack up an extra ten tickets?

280. Enough said.

The good news is, Birmingham isn't that large, so waiting until after traffic has died down to travel really doesn't eat into much of my day. Rush hour really isn't that bad compared to Atl (though it's hard to believe when you're stuck in it).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Crafty Cans

If you’re like me, you use many food products that are canned, and after a few weeks of groceries, you’ve got a bunch of soup/veggie/fruit cans lying around.

Instead of throwing them away, I’ve decided to give mine a new use and a cute new look. I happen to have several spools of ribbon to use, but you can also complete this makeover with colored or patterned paper.

What you’ll need:

Ribbon of your choice


Hot glue gun

Aluminum can

Wash and dry your can. Then pull the label off. Soak it in water for a few minutes if you’re having trouble pulling the label off.

Cut enough ribbon to cover the circumference of the can, giving yourself an extra inch or two to make it easier to work with. You can use this to measure your other pieces. Play with the colors and patterns until you find the ones you like best.

I’ve found it also helps to line up the ribbon, use a piece of tape to keep them together, and then line up the pattern on the can to determine how many pieces I’ll need.

Dab a bit of glue on the can and press the ribbon carefully onto the spot. I usually glue the ribbon in the same area where the label was glued, since it's not an area I would display anyway.

Pull the ribbon around the can, add another dab of glue next to the first, and press the other end of the ribbon onto the glue.

Repeat until you’ve covered the can to your liking.

Now you’re ready to store your pens, pencils, receipts or even a small bouquet! This cute can’s uses are only limited by your imagination.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where Have All the Good Clothes Gone?

Last year, I had to exercise serious control not to rack up my credit card bill. And now, I can't even find a pair of socks I like!

What's up, designers?

The skirts are too short (even if my butt weren't it's current size). I'm expected to pay $12-$15 dollars for screen tees and barely decorated tank tops.

Yeah, I'll pass.

The shoes are uninspiring and most are similar to what I saw last year. I'm bummed, and I'm ready for next year!

Let me in on the secret if there's some secret fashion stash out there...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playing Hostess in B'ham Part II

This weekend three of my best friends (really, they're like my sisters) came to visit me in the B'ham. Yay! You'd think after spending college away would make it easier to be separated again, but after spending the last half of '09 with them, it was really hard to not see them all the time.

But, we totally made up for it! To be able to host them in my own place was very fulfilling as well. Almost as if I am a grown up now -- wait, what?

The weather was beautiful on Saturday, so we ate lunch on the porch at Mudtown (I had the Monte Cristo again, yum!) and they really liked the food.

After, we headed downtown to explore Sloss Furnaces to explore. It's free to explore on your own, and Sloss provides a map to help you get around. There are eleven spots around the property with plaques that describe the work at Sloss during its heyday. We took a good amount of time to explore each spot, and we spent over an hour there.

I usually enjoy visiting places like this, but I have to say that a lot of Sloss creeped me out. There is something sad about the furnaces and dusty, grimy machines left behind.

I was especially uneasy in the blower room, and it the whole experience certainly makes me think hard about place, and how the people who lived and worked there have affected it.

Afterward, we headed to the Birmingham Botanical
and hit the biggest gardens. The azaleas, Lenten roses, honeysuckle and jasmine are in full bloom, and I'll be happy to go back and see the roses and hydrangeas when they bloom! I was very happy to see a small group of poppies in a side garden.

My favorite area is definitely the Japanese garden. There is a beautiful wooden bridge spanning a large pond. There are turtles, large koi, and a couple of geese. I think we spent twenty minutes on the bridge and watching the water!

By the time we wrapped up there, it was time for Cocina! Guen and I split the fish tacos -- so yummy. Oh, but we weren't done yet! I took the girls over to Vulcan and we braved the windy evening to view the city from the observation deck.

As you can see, it was worth it. Perhaps a little too thrilling (terrifying) end to our sightseeing, but I'm glad we took the time to go up there.

On the way home, we stopped at Yogurt Mountain, because really how else should you end a beautiful spring day?

We let our yogurt digest for a bit before primping and heading to Rare Martini downtown. Have to say, wasn't that great of a night, and I was disappointed at the entertainment. Ah, well.

The next morning we woke up late and made our way to Five Points South to have brunch at the Original Pancake House. I had the bacon and eggs (scrambled) which comes with three, perfectly sized pancakes. About half the size of normal restaurant pancakes, I could actually finish them and most of my eggs and bacon without feeling awful. The food was good, but I wouldn't say what I ate was better than IHOP. Sorry, die-hard Pancake House fans!

I love Leinenkugel's!

Actually, I like their summer beers the best. I'm not much of a lager girl, but I'll drink theirs every once in a while, and only if it's ice cold. Normally I prefer a type of wheat beer.

So when I went home for Easter and found a stash of Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, I did a little dance of joy. I introduced my dad to Leinie's (Summer Wheat and Berry Weiss, yum!) last year, and there is often some of their beer in the fridge at my parents' house now.

So what's a Summer Shandy? Well, Leinenkugel's version is a wheat beer mixed with lemonade. I've been told by my friend that in Britain, it's beer mixed with lemon-lime soda.

When I read the description, I didn't have any hesitation -- some people might see "lemonade" and run. But I trust Leinenkugel's to get it right.

You can certainly taste the lemon, but I think it's still a secondary flavor to the beer. The classic tartness of lemonade isn't there. Shandy is easy to drink, and I didn't find myself feeling full when I finished the bottle.

Like it's wheat beer cousins, Summer Shandy will not be accompanying my heavier, richer meals and dishes. I'll save this one for picnic fare, grill-outs, fried foods, and I even think it would be good with Latin food.

In fact, I'm daydreaming now about going to the park with a great summer meal and a Shandy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yummy Funky Fish Fry

The weather this weekend was gorgeous! Amy and I headed over to the Funky Fish Fry at Crestline Village. It was organized by the Alabama Bar Young Lawyers and benefited the The Autism Society of Alabama, Mitchell's Place and Studio By the Tracks.

We had the catfish, hush puppies and coleslaw from Ezell's Catfish. It was very tasty, as you can see from my half-empty (soon after empty) plate. There was also gumbo, but I was personally too full to eat anymore food!

There were also several bands playing and a silent auction.

It was really nice to have some time to sit outside with a friend, catch up and eat yummy food.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Bunny on a Cupcake

We celebrated a co-worker's birthday today with Easter-themed cupcakes from Culinard Cafe -- I had the vanilla with chocolate frosting and the cake was the right kind of moist-dense that I like, and the frosting wasn't overpowering.

And look at that Easter bunny!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Time to Be More Like My Grandparents

No, I'm not saying I should sit around and watch sports, complete crosswords and play bridge. Though that does sound like fun to have a day like that every once in a while, I still can't play bridge.

I need to be more like my grandparents in that they didn't whine (to themselves or others) about how many years they have to work to get to where they want to be; they didn't feel entitled to anything; they did what needed to be done in order to live right and live well.

The last couple of years have been eye-opening for me. I'm reluctantly happy to agree that I'm the product of a generation who let themselves be deluded into thinking that if we got through school, did a couple of internships, we would find that sweet entry level job and flourish.

Well, I thought that I was immune to that delusion, but I've realized in the last year that I'm not. I was deluded that I wasn't deluded. Get it? I do now!

I'm at the point where I've got to step up and reinvest in my skill set to move forward into digital media, where I'd like to be.

It's time to tap into my self-motivation and suck it up. Like my grandparents would say, I'm the only one who's going to fight for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Playing Hostess in B'ham Part I

Julie came to visit me yesterday -- hooray! She's the first friend that's been able to visit me since I moved here, so I was not only excited to see her, but also to play hostess.

It rained a lot on Monday, and it was supposed to rain again Tuesday, but God smiled upon Birmingham and it was a nice overcast day.

We had lunch at Bottletree Cafe, and it was pretty good. I had the Thunderbird sandwich with turkey, a red pepper mayo, Havarti cheese, tomato and lettuce on sourdough. This is probably my own doing, since they are known for their vegetarian items. But it sounded good! I chose the sweet potato fries as my side, and they could have been crispier. Julie had the veggie and rice burrito, and she really like it.

We headed over to What's on 2nd? which is a junk store downtown. And I don't mean junk as in trashy; it's an eclectic, overwhelming treasure store of all the things that people collect. They have an impressive collection of old postcards. I think every state in the U.S. was accounted for, and there were dozens for each one. They would be great to use for collages and decorating containers, table tops, etc.

The other items that caught my attention were the personal photos. There are several boxes of them all over the store. I found photos recording weddings, vacations, parties and just days of hanging out. It struck me as very odd that there were so many, illustrating so many intimate details of people's lives. How did those photos get into a junk shop? Did someone not want them? Wasn't there some family member who could keep them?

Afterward, I drove around and showed Julie around my neighborhood, and we spent part of the evening at the Summit. We spent some time in Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, and I of course I wanted to buy most of each store. And then it struck me how many items I could recreate myself, or find elsewhere. Oh, brand brainwashing, you are so devious!

We had dinner at FLIP -- yum -- and went to Yogurt Mountain for dessert -- another yum. They sell frozen yogurt and your choice of toppings for 45 cents an ounce! Believe me, you get a lot, even for $3. There are 16 rotating flavors of yogurt according to the website, and a couple dozen toppings from cereal to candy to fruit.

I had a really good time Tuesday, and it was a little -- okay, very -- hard to go back to work. Taking the day off make me think it was Friday/the weekend. So, thanks Julie, for giving me a Tues-weekend-day!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Return of the Blogger

Omg, Canada won a medal! In hockey! Thank God for their dignity! I only laugh about this because of their Own the Podium (see this NY Times article and their site) campaign, and they still managed to be in third for medal counts. Don't make a committee, guys, just DO IT! But still, congratulations on the gold medal.

Watching the U.S. team get their medals is almost painful because they all look so pissed. As if they'd like nothing better than to skip the ceremony and skulk back to the locker room.

Now that I've really settled into Birmingham, I feel good about getting back into blogging. Between moving, getting used to working full-time, and creating new friendships, I haven't had much time to write!

Finally working in a paid position feels good, even though it's only for a short time. It's funny though, because I've worked full-time before, at an apartment complex, but I'm so much more tired at the end of the day here than I was at that other job. And, it's not as if I'm running around all day -- I sit at my desk and do research and call people!

Thankfully, the weather has gotten much better the last couple of weekends -- meaning, we can actually go outside and enjoy Bham. The first month and a half I was here, it rained/snowed/was generally awful weather every weekend. Lisa and I went over to English Village and sat outside one of the cafes, eating pastries, drinking coffee, and just enjoying the quiet and sun.

Today, we drove over to Oak Mountain State Park to explore. I expected the lake and trails, but I was surprised to see a stable offering boarding, lessons and trail rides, as well as a golf course. Supposedly, we could go swimming at the "beach" but I'm still a little skeptical. The lake's not that big, so I'm sure it gets crowded with swimmers, boaters, kayakers, etc. I may stick to the paddle boats.