The Weather Outside……

https://angie5804.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/will-i-sing-this-today/

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I Want to Stay Soft

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Cotton Fields – Nov. 2013

In speaking of a man on the move, E.B. White says,

…he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new life, somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed its skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable.

I’d like to think I shed myself of few things when we moved and that in some ways I am softer. I don’t want to grow old and crusty again.

A Transition from Squirrels to Chipmunks

When I first saw Pearl, I thought she was a baby squirrel. So did Loretta. But, one day I got a glimpse of a little stripe and realized this may be a different critter. So, I googled chipmunks and learned a little about them.

Back in Jacksonville, Loretta would try hard to catch Earl, our backyard squirrel, to no avail. Now she has the same record with Pearl; though Loretta is fast, she is just not fast enough.

I am working this post into a challenge – The Six Word Saturday Challenge

“This is Pearl – Lorreta’s new nemesis”

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You can read about the Six Word Saturday challenge HERE

Day-trip: Mentone, Alabama

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Mentone was on my list of Day Trips so I was glad to have the opportunity to visit there this past weekend. This little town is about a two hour drive from Birmingham (I didn’t drive so I got to read most of the way – Yea!).

We went by way of Little River Canyon, which I will write about in a separate post. I had secured a night at the Mountain Laurel Inn, though I was hoping for two nights. I had  waited too long, however, to call and make a reservation. This is not a place you will happen upon by chance. I also neglected to read my confirmation email that included directions and said not to use GPS. So, we ended up lost at first, but a quick call to Sarah, the innkeeper, and she gave us clear instructions. We weren’t too far away. After several turns we were headed down a dirt/gravel road into a rustic setting on a rainy afternoon.

The weather was cool enough to leave our windows open. After unloading, we went into town for supper. I would NOT recommend the Moonlight Bistro, but afterwards we ventured on to the Wildflower Café for dessert and music. The Derby Pie was fantastic and the music brought back memories, ala Cat Stevens and Jim Croce.

Before breakfast we took a small hike – just 10 minutes from our door was Desoto Falls. Being on private property, there were no handrails, just au naturel – and it was gorgeous. Breakfast was a treat! Sarah’s Decadent French Toast is on the “100 Foods to Eat In Alabama Before You Die” 2012 list. It was fantastic!

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That day was JulyFest in Mentone, and despite the rain, it was a pleasant morning up on The Brow. We made several gift purchases, saw the end of the Pet Parade, and enjoyed the view. In town we checked out some antique stores and other shops, and then headed down the road to Fort Payne. All in all it was a short but lovely trip.

the brow The Brow

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A Visit to Vizzini’s

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A visit to Vizzini Farms Winery  will get you a nice meal, some excellent wine, and pleasant surroundings. Located in Calera, just south of Birmingham, the winery was started in 2005 by Tom and Deborah Vizzina. Tom was born and raised in the Birmingham area.

The Bistro at Vizzini’s is open Monday-Saturday and serves many dishes using vegetables fresh from their onsite garden. The Chicken Tetrazzini Salad is exceptional, but the menu also carries an assortment of pizzas, pastas, paninis and more.

Customers may take advantage of a wine tasting and tour, getting a little history of the winery along the way. As part of the tour we took  a peek at the lovely vegetable garden and grape vines.

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There is a wide selection of wine to choose from, including red and white. Some carry locally influenced labels, such as the Collegiate Collection for both Alabama and Auburn fans. My favorites were Miss Scarlet, a sweet red wine, and the Appling Riesling that has a hint of green apple. We had part of a bottle of the Viognier with our lunch, and had the remainder of the bottle corked to take home. We also took advantage of a Living Social Coupon and ended up taking away two souvenir glasses as well, so keep your eye out for those Living Social and Groupn deals!

The Charming Town of Helena

A good introduction to Helena comes through the small Farmers Market that is held there every Saturday. What other such market has southern belles (the Helena Belles) to greet you? Along with numerous vendors of fresh produce, shoppers may also find fresh bread, sweet smelling soap, or even a cookbook. In the background are musical notes from local entertainers and the hum of buyers and sellers and neighbors greeting each other. From vendors offering to take a purchase to the car of an elderly customer, to sellers giving out samples and explaining how to cook their beans, examples of kindness and good customer service abound.

Here are some of the local vendors to be found on a Saturday morning:

K and S Farms – lots of fresh, seasonal produce

Taylor Hatchet Boozer Farms – think peaches!

Cheeky Maiden Soap – made with pure olive oil, pure palm oil, and pure coconut oil

Mixon Farms – Owner Jared Mixon has also started a market in Chilton County

Five Points Farms – check out their facebook page HERE

Prattville Honey Farms – owner Allen Mills has been farming for over 20 years

B.B. Bread – started seven years ago; specializes in sourdough bread

Southern Natural Soap – made with goat’s milk

Little Bit Southern -this is where you can find a cookbook

Another treat is the guest chef demonstration. Recent appearances have been made by Chris Vizzina, Executive Chef and President of Campus Dining, Inc. at Samford University, and Matthew Guy Lagace of Bellinis Ristorante. You can check out the Helena Market Blog HERE for some delicious recipes.

After shopping, a stroll down a path, under the road and across an open grassy area will take you to the “falls” at the Buck Creek Dam. Here you may find picnickers, photographers, and kids wading in the cool waters. It’s almost like a step back in time.

In town there are many quaint shops in which to browse and buy. These will be featured in a later post, so stay tuned!

Tip Top Grill

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I think it won’t matter what you order at the Tip Top Grill because you’ll be so enthralled with the view. However, for a breakfast that is good and economical, it can’t be beat.

 

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On my first visit I ordered a ham and egg sandwich. And I said “yes” to the question, “Do you want mayonnaise?”  I DO like mayo, but I’ll never go as far as the man who plans to be buried in a Duke’s Mayonnaise jar. Anyway, it was tasty and a perfect start to a great Saturday morning.

 

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The restaurant  overlooks the Oxmoor Valley  Golf Course and a Lover’s leap. Quite a combination. The Lover’s Leap is a dramatic  set of limestone boulders that protrude out over the valley. One Indian legend says an Indian brave, weary of the attentions of an Indian princess, took her to the high crest where he stabbed her with a bone knife. Then, in remorse, he gathered her in his arms and leaped off the bluff.

 

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Next time I want to try out the lunch menu. Or, better yet, dinner and a sunset.

 

588 Shades Crest Road

Hours: Mon – Fri: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm; Sat: 6:30 am – 3:00 pm

89% like it at urbanspoon

Get Smart at the Hoover Library

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To say I was impressed with the Hoover Public Library would be an understatement. Before I moved to Birmingham I had a library card in two counties, both Duval and St. Johns, but I can say I think Hoover has them both beat.

In Duval County (Jacksonville) the main library downtown was huge and beautiful, but not so convenient.  Some of you other Jax transplants may be familiar with it. That is one difference – the convenience. Another is the staff. I was helped by Mary and another employee at the front desk in Hoover. They  were both helpful and friendly. Getting my card was easy (so much easier than getting that driver’s license!) and then Mary gave me a brief overview of where things were located. They graciously called a boss to be sure I had permission to take photos as I explored. Even in my favorite little library near my home in St. Johns County I never was met with such southern hospitality.

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The layout of the library makes it super easy to find what you’re looking for. The video and music selection is quite large. Audio books are also available, some of which can even be downloaded.

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The large Kidzone was very child friendly and even had a fenced outdoor play area. The Teen Spot was a perfect place for study or hanging out. For those who need a hushed place for study there is a Quiet Study area.

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The Friends Bookstore, staffed by Friends of the Hover Library, and Coffe-ol-ogy Café are two places I plan to check out more thoroughly on my next visit.

The library has a full schedule of activities and events for all ages, from storytime for those three and under to the Battle of the Bands for the teens to numerous book groups for adults. There are also author presentations and musical events as well.

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Some unique features that wowed me:

  • The “Cone of Silence” – a futuristic-looking booth that patrons can step inside if they need to use their cell phone
  • Book Club Kits- including multiple copies of the book – that can be checked out for six weeks
  • To make checkout easy, there are self-check kiosks scattered around the building.
  • An online “email a librarian” feature
  • Nooks available for checkout
  • Laptops that can be checked out for use within the library
  • Headphones are sold for $2 and Flash Drives for $5 at the service desk
  • The Library Theatre – a venue that hosts World-Class entertainment

Municipal Dr, Hoover, AL 35216
(205) 444-7800

A Day at the Courthouse

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When I saw this sign, I wondered if I’d been transported to Birmingham, England. It wasn’t until I uploaded the above picture at home that I saw someone else had noticed and penned a correction!

 

We had been warned – it will take 4-5 hours. So, my husband took the day off for us to get our Alabama driver’s licenses and my car tag/title taken care of. He has to go back to get his tag/title taken care of. He will do that alone. We were there for six hours last Tuesday.

We decided to go the courthouse in Bessemer as it seemed the closest place to us. I came armed with a good book to read and my cell phone. In between chapters I kept my friend back home apprised of the situation via texts. She lived in Birmingham about four years ago and was quite familiar with the scenario.

Where shall I begin? We started the process about 8:40am – we were numbers 18 & 19. At 10:15am they were still on number three. There was an older gentleman who got in line, hopefully for an ID and not a driver’s license. He had a cane but was still pretty unstable. But he had no birth certificate; could be it had been written on a stone tablet somewhere. Thankfully, everyone was very kind to him before he left in search of the elusive birth certificate.

A young upstart was walking around with a shirt that read, “I’m allergic to stupid.” I wondered how he was able to get a number. Soon, everyone was inquiring about each other’s numbers. Kind of like the first day of school but without any bells to let us know when it was time to change classes, which we didn’t need anyway as we weren’t going anywhere.

My friend suggested that I could write about the life and times of two Alabama employees. Here is my introduction: “Once upon a time there were two people who were vying for the title of Least Productive Employee of the Month.”

Another young man was quite humorous. His observation of one of the employees: “She went to the bathroom and on break all in one motion”; upon finding out some people had given up and left, “We’re the last of the Mohicans.” My friends responded that at least they are well read in Bessemer.

After I got my license, I headed downstairs for the tag business. I observed a sign behind the woman who was waiting on me that made me wonder at all the Southern Hospitality I’d been experiencing since we moved. The sign said, “Unless you pay into the coffee funds, you are NOT welcome to any of the coffee supplies.” Hmmm. SOMEbody was disgruntled.

We didn’t pack a lunch and I was afraid to chew gum for fear of a loudly growling stomach, so I survived on a few tic-tacs. I was very happy when we finally got lunch/dinner about 3:30. We ate at La Brisa on John Hawkins Parkway, sitting  outside, enjoying our meal and nice cold drink. That will be for another post.