Alabama Reads

I’ve been working through some books that are either by Alabama authors, or take place in Alabama, or both. Here are a few brief reviews.

I Wish I Was in Dixie collected and edited by Marie Stokes Jemison and Jim Reed
This is a collection of stories from all across Alabama, from Birmingham to Montgomery to Tuscaloosa.

Dear Slave – poems by Irene Latham. These are rich retellings of stories taken from the mouths of slaves and recorded by Ruby Pickens Tartt many years ago.

I Still Dream of You by Fannie Flagg.  This was an enjoyable read and one that had me doing a little research about Birmingham. I read this for my book club, but no one else was able to finish it that month.   😦   You can read more of my thoughts HERE and HERE.

Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe – also by Fannie Flagg. I couldn’t read this without picturing Kathy Bates in the role of Evelyn. I STILL want to go to the cafe in Irondale!

 

The last book is one I DON”T recommend – Looking for Alaska. I read it mainly because I heard it had a lot of references to the Birmingham area, but it didn’t really. Sorry, John Green fans, but I just didn’t like this and am disappointed that it is marketed to middle schoolers. I think all the reviews on Barnes & Noble were written by teenagers.

So, I will continue my Alabama quest at a later date. Right now my reading is headed to Ireland.

The Remagicing of Birmingham

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I’ve been reading Fannie Flagg’s I Still Dream About You, and it has made me look into so many aspects of Birmingham’s history. One is the refurbishing/reopening of  many lovely buildings downtown, most of which I’ve yet to see. Such as….

 

Florentine Building

Located at Second Avenue North and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard, it first opened in 1926 and has always been an events center. It sat empty for about six and a half years until Corretti Catering bought it and remodeled it. It has a newly renovated ballroom and they hope to have a cafe open for lunch in April.

 

Redmont Hotel

This  hotel first opened in 1925, and some of it’s original features are the 10-foot chandelier, marble staircase, moldings and iron railings found in the lobby. Harvest Restaurant & Bar on the ground floor is a fine-dining restaurant that serves farm-to-table fare with an Italian twist. The hotel’s Cafe 2101 serves pastries and other treats made on-site, along with Revelator coffee.  Two ballrooms and two board rooms make up most of the meeting room space and there are 120 guest rooms. There is also a new rooftop lounge. The Redmont Hotel Birmingham is located downtown at 2101 Fifth Avenue North.

 

Pizitz Food Hall

The Pizitz Building was built in 1925, but it had been vacant since the early 1980s. It recently reopened with restaurants, retail and apartments. Pizitz Food Hall  is a unique dining experience with a wide variety of vendors, from traditional burgers to Asian to Ethiopian to Israeli cuisine.

Thomas Jefferson Tower

The twenty story Thomas Jefferson Tower, completed in 1929, had been  vacant since 1982. The 96 renovated apartments are ideal for living in the middle of the magic of Bham.  The newly opened  Roots and Revelry restaurant here is worth a visit.

 

Lyric Theatre

The Lyric Theatre, built in 1914 for vaudeville shows, underwent an $11 million restoration project and relit its  marquee in 2013. It features a restored 38-foot mural, “Allegory of the Muses,” that was painted by local artist Harry Hawkins.

 

The Carver Theatre

Now known as the Carver Performing Arts Center, it was originally opened in 1935 as one of the first movie houses for African-Americans to see first-run films. It closed in the 1980s, but reopened in 1993 and is now the location of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

 

The Empire Building

This Classical Revival style 16-story building was built in 1909 and was the tallest building in Alabama at the time. After being remodeled, it reopened as City National Bank. It was again sold in 2012. After a $27 million renovation, it is now experiencing new life as the Empire Hotel, which includes a restaurant and rooftop bar.

 

ledz2

photo – Hannah Scofield

Led z

photo – Hannah Scofield

The Alabama Theatre

Now this is one I have been in. And I love it. I’ve been in similar – perhaps sister- theatres in Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida. They are all lovely. The Alabama, built in 1927  as a classic movie palace with gorgeous  Art Deco style, underwent a major renovation and restoration in the late ’90s.
Birmingham has indeed once again earned the right to be called the Magic City.

Third Quarter Recap

 

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October is almost over and I just realized I didn’t write a third quarter recap at the end of September. So, for what it’s worth, here are the highlights of my third quarter:

  • We kept our daughter’s dog, Poca, for over a month while she was in Columbia, South America. Things started out well, but after the second fight, in which Loretta received a puncture wound, we kept the two dogs separate. It was fine, though, as each one got special attention.
  • I went to McAlister’s Deli for the first time. The Orange Cranberry Club was delish!
  • Joined Grace Covenant Baptist Church and began making new friends
  • Subbed in some new schools. including McAdory Middle, McAdory High, Pleasant Grove High, West Elementary, Hueytown Middle, Oak Mountain Middle, Helena Middle, Helena High
  • Attended a few Saturday Write Club meetings at the Hoover Library
  • Went on five hikes
  • Took lots of pictures around Bham
  • Went to Jacksonville and squeezed in a lot of visits. Got to see my  cousin Paula for the first time in over 15 years
  • Spent a morning at Jacksonville Beach
  • Started the Kindred Spirit Book Club  – it’s online, so if you are interested, leave me a comment or email me.
  • Started Round Two of the Capture the ‘Ham Small Group/Photo Group3q2

And now to finish the year well!

 

Kids in a Summer Slump?

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Summer is fully loaded but you’re out of ideas for the kids? Don’t despair, there is life beyond video games for your little and not-so-little loved ones. Check out some of these!

The McWane Science Center is fun everyday, but especially on July 16th, which is Superhero Saturday. From 10am-4pm, kids can meet some of their favorite Superheroes (and villains, too).

Free Friday Flicks in Hoover is in full swing. The movies are shown at Veterans Park off Valleydale Road on the grassy area near the main pavilions beginning at dusk. The movie images are 30 feet wide and will be shown on a 38-foot-wide screen. Bring chairs and blankets and even a picnic supper. Most nights there will be some food vendors. July’s schedule is as follows:

July 15: “The Peanuts Movie”
July 22: “Kung Fu Panda 3”
July 29: “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”

 
There’s no time like July for a good baseball game and the Barons have a lot of home games scheduled this month. You can find them playing at Regions Field on July 10-13; 20-24;31. . On July 22, the first 1000 kids 12 and under will receive a free jersey and on the 23, the first 1,000 kids will receive a Babe Ruff backpack just in time for back to school!

Roller Motion Skate Center in Bessemer has a great summer schedule. They are open 11am-3pm Tuesday-Friday and they have evening hours on Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday. Thursday is Family Night from 6-8pm. They have concessions serving food and drink (cash only). http://www.rollermotionskatecenter.com/

The Birmingham Zoo is always a kid favorite. They can beat the heat at the Zoo Fountains or catch a breeze on the carousel

Dino Discovery will be at the zoo until the end of the month. This exhibit features life-sized, North America-native animatronic dinosaurs at heights of nearly 20 feet, weighing almost 7 tons and measuring 85 feet in length! DinoNite begins at 6pm on July 16. This will be a fun night full of dinosaurs at the Zoo’s Dino Discovery exhibit, and a showing of The Good Dinosaur at the Zoo in the Trails of Africa will show beginning at 8:30pm, plus face-painting and more! There are loads of activities every day – check them out here – https://www.birminghamzoo.com/visitor-info/daily-activities/https://www.birminghamzoo.com/visitor-info/daily-activities/
Red Mountain has activities for the older kid set. The Adventure Area has four different zip line courses: Vulcan Zip Trip: $54, Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest: $45, Kaul Adventure Tower: $29, Mega Zip: $29 http://redmountainpark.org/adventure/

Oak Mountain has a plethora of fun options for all ages. You and the kiddos can ride bikes, hike, swim, picnic, paddle boat,play on the playground and even camp. The Demonstration Farm and the Alabama Wildlife Center, both located in the park, are a treat for animal lovers. Flip Side Watersports, Alabama’s first and only cable watersport, is also in the park, with coaches available for newbies. Paddleboards can also be rented.

Another outdoor spot is Alabama Splash Adventure in Bessemer. With 15 different rides and activities, the kids can get their fill of water-laden fun! There are numerous food options available, from pizza to pulled pork and funnel cakes to ice cream. Parents will enjoy these freebies: unlimited Pepsi products for all, sunscreen, life-jackets and WiFi.

The Hoover Library has lots to offer.

  • July 11 – Free movie at 2pm and 6:30pm -Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey
  • Tuesdays at  10 a.m. Children’s Programming Room. Stories, songs and finger plays for birth to 12 months and their caregiver
  • July 12  at 6:30pm – Trivia Craze for grades 7-12.

 

 

So, don’t despair when the whines begin. Pack up the family vehicle and head out for a day of fun and adventure!

Half the Year Gone

People are always asking, “Where did the time go?” The time goes in big and small moments, some memorable and some wasted. You can read my highlights of the first quarter of 2016 HERE.

Here are some highlights of the second quarter of my year:

  1. I got my taxes done on time
  2. Discovered Ruffner Mountain
  3. Finished out the year subbing – you can read some of those adventures HERE.  This also included the last three days of school with a great bunch of 8th graders  IMG_4822
  4. Flew to Tampa to spend time with fam. This included a late afternoon at Clearwater Beach and a gorgeous sunset sunset 
  5. Read lots of books – You can check out what I’ve read so far this year here on my Pinterest board
  6.  Made several trips to Pepper Place Market
  7. With more time in the summer, I checked out movies from the Hoover Library. It’s also a great place for lunch or a coffee!
  8. Discovered: Over Easy Cafe – delish!; Hillsboro Trail; Lazy Boy BBQ in Helena (great pork – best for take-out); Twisted Root Burger  in Vestavia (you  must check out the Chuck Norris wall!)
  9. First-time visit to Clanton for Peach Festival – highlight was getting peach ice cream.
  10. Got the first pedicure in over four years at Riveria Nails & Spa in Hoover. – so nice!
  11. Enjoyed watching the Braves beat the Marlins in Atlanta with hubby and daughter. braves

 

Looking forward to the rest of 2016!

First Quarter Gone

A quarter of 2016 has already slipped by. The following is a recap of the last three months, just covering some of the highlights.

  1. I was the voice of @BeingBham on twitter for the last week of January
  2. Had the best pork chop ever at  Gianmarcos in Homewood
  3. Got my name on the sign at Demetri’s!
  4. I met Matt Redmond, author of God of the Mundane
  5. I flew to Tampa for Juliette’s 3rd birthday and Princess Party
  6. Heard  the Vulcan Eejits at the Hoover Library
  7. Spent quite a few days subbing at RMS and PHS
  8. Rediscovered some old photos
  9. Discovered Eudora Welty