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.