By Liz Stephens
How did people get around before smartphones? I know we did, but for the life of me right now I can’t remember how I managed. I know I got lost. A lot. I hopped a lot of “express” trains in NYC, I missed multiple stops in D.C. and I somehow managed to take the wrong line in Boston (really? I mean there are only like FOUR choices).
In planning our first trip to London and Paris, I’ve run across some pretty useful little apps that help keep me organized and lower my anxiety levels tremendously. I’ve tried maybe 15 apps over the past four months, and only a handful are truly great enough to warrant a mention here. My hope is that some of you will find these useful as you plan your dream vacations as well. Some of these are paid apps – but none cost me more than $5. And even better, some are free.
This one is my gem. Thanks to a travel-savvy friend, I snagged this (FREE) app quite a while ago, and I couldn’t be happier. TripIt let me design our travel itinerary in a snap. I created the trip, and gave my email address. TripIt automatically grabbed my flight confirmations, hotel reservations and our train reservations. All the information is there – confirm numbers, phone numbers and even maps to the hotels/train stations/airports. Boom!
Despite the fact that I studied French for two years in high school, my skills currently stink. I’ve been studying up, but I’m so nervous I’ll get flustered and forget what I’m trying to say. That’s where Google Translate (which was FREE) comes in: Just type in or say what you want to say in English and Google Translate automatically repeats the words in French for me. It works with a variety of different languages. While I’d love to rely on my basic French skills, if I fail, I have Google Translate as my emergency phone-a-friend.
London Tube and Metro Paris Subway
I’m lumping these two apps together because they do the same thing: Provide extensive transportation maps on London’s Tube and the Paris Metro, with color coding and simple, easy to understand directions. Both allow me to save trips for access when I don’t have a data connection. The Metro Paris Subway app also helps me find nearby taxi stands and Laduree (we will talk about my obsession with Lauduree at a later date). Need a cup of coffee? Oh look, the Nespresso place is 58 m away!
London Tube offers detailed subway maps and other bonuses as well. For $1 (well okay .99 but that annoys me), I was able to add the London Bus routes as well. I can easily switch back and forth – I enter one desired destination and this app shows me Tube and bus routes, allowing the choice. Neat, huh?
Honorable Mentions to Great Apps I think I’m Also Going to Love
XE Currency App: Need to convert Euros to U.S. dollars in a flash? This is your app. It’s super easy.
Rick Steves Audio Europe: You can download so many great audio tours for sights all over Europe to listen to offline as you tour around. Very useful. And free!
Today Tix: This app lets me find discount tickets for shows in London’s West End (it also works in NYC for you Broadway fans). It also alerts me if a show I REALLY want to see has released tickets at the last minute. Fingers crossed kids, this woman needs to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet.
Article sponsored by The Core.
Find them on the web at: http://thecoresite.com
By Allison Adams
I’ve seen too many young people die recently. One was busy following the inherent dream he knew he had been meant to do since childhood. Another was busily working towards and close to the “one day” that he would be able to live the life he had set up to celebrate living. Another took his own life. There was no warning for either of these. In an instant life ended.
We have all heard it: We are just passing through - just a flutter of influence to hopefully make a difference in life. We have one chance, and one life. So why is it that some people embrace every opportunity, inviting the sunshine in, and others hide from the dark shadow of one tiny cloud on the very same horizon?
I know a couple. He is 90 and she is, well, let’s say in her late 60s (she likes to say that to feel “younger”). Every morning they exercise together. They travel and live life to the fullest. They have a date night each week. They didn’t marry until he was 80 – after each lost their “lifetime” loves and companions. A spark of life still lives on in them. Their inner youth is contagious. He recently crossed Grandfather Mountain with my husband and me with a spring in his step the whole way. Until I knew them, I barely thought of life into my 90s. Now, at almost 50 (I know! I can’t believe it! I wrote it!), I have hope that I can continue to live with a young heart as they do.
I know a man who is 70 and in a nursing home - his tired body tortured by years of vivid living. He sits around, not even interested in the old guitar that fed his ego and his life, simply waiting until the end of his chapter. Another woman in a nursing home sprints each day a visitor appears to beat them to the door. Her body is in good shape, but her mind is unable to comprehend what might happen should she make the escape.
I know some who covet items instead of activities. How many times have those “decorative treasures” been the very things that children remember over their accomplishments? A child runs in with the first finger painting she is proud of, dropping it on the expensive Oriental rug or smashing some trinket her mama always dreamed of acquiring. The creative moment is lost forever - squashed by the raging memory brought on about a spoiled square of wool or a broken vase.
What does this have to do with lake living? Well, everything and perhaps nothing. That is up to you to discover. Embrace today as if it might be your last. Find that place that reminds you of life. I still look at the lake with wonder, seeing a different wave or scene each day. Life is evident as deer make their way to the shore or a snake slithers across the yard, a large bird eyeing it from above. Today, new hummingbirds hovered around a feeder outside my window.
What do you see that makes you recharge with life?
If you didn’t catch the recent meteor shower, it’s not your fault. Too many of us are just living our lives with our heads in the sand. Today, make it a goal to get out of the sand and stick your toes in some cool grass. Toss a ball with a strangers kids if your own aren’t answering. I know, that is stepping out, right? We’re “not supposed to talk to strangers.” Freeing, isn’t it? You can’t be lonely when you just got challenged to meet new people!
Dig out that old ________ (you fill in the blank) from the garage or the attic. Remember how you used to love to use it. Go paddle that canoe, catch that fish you keep talking about, whack that ball, or fly that model airplane you’ve had boxed up and let it soar! And lo and behold, get out that China and put away the paper. Use the real good stuff tonight. Use it every night. After all, you are still here, and isn’t that the best reason to celebrate?
Cheers! And if none of this puts life in your sails, just know, football is on the way!
Article sponsored by DCH Health System.
Find them on the web at: https://www.dchsystem.com
By Marlena Rice
Fall is finally here: Hello cooler weather, back-to-school, and football! Parents who have gotten all too familiar with the easier flow of traffic from home to work are now readjusting their morning schedules to entertain the influx of school buses and University traffic that were easily forgotten during the summer months. As parents, as we adjust to our new schedules, our little people are adjusting as well. But with new schools, new classrooms, new teachers and new friends comes butterflies and anxiety that we may not be used to seeing in our children. See below a list of ways to combat “school refusal,” a common form of anxiety that many of our children experience, whether it is easily recognizable or not.
So what is school refusal? I think all parents have experienced excess clinging during morning drop-offs to school, avoidance, flat-out defiance and the good old-fashioned tantrum. In older children, this refusal may occur in terms of “not feeling well” in attempts to stay home, away from all things that are causing their anxiety (the fear of not knowing the correct answers in class, having to meet new friends, or even worries about who to sit with at lunchtime), as well as real physical symptoms, like stomachaches, or nausea.*
Usually, these childhood fears dissipate over the course of learning a new routine. We have to wake up a little bit earlier to avoid the additional school traffic on the road in the mornings, and our children have to adjust their minds to what is new in their lives before becoming comfortable.
How can we, as parents, help to combat school refusal?
· Don’t rush your mornings. Prepare lunches and backpacks the evening prior to bedtime and wake up just a little bit earlier in the mornings. This gives you time to eat breakfast with your child, talk about the day’s expectations and gives the child a chance to voice any concerns they may have.
· For little ones entering a schooling environment for the first time, adjust them to school in small doses. Once assigned a classroom and teacher, ask if you can start dropping your child in for a few hours a day to help them adjust.
· Talk with your children about their fears and feelings, and find solutions together for things that may cause them stress or concern. A good time to do this is during a family dinner when your child is relaxed and comfortable.
· Encourage playdates for little ones and extracurricular activities for older children. This will help them relax while being around people their age in a similar environment. Having your child build excitement over activities that are school-related will not only encourage them to like attending each morning, but it may very well make them more in tune with the classroom aspects of school.
· Most importantly, make yourself known at your children’s school. Know your child’s principals, directors, teachers and part-time aids. Not only is this a great way to let educators know just how involved you are, but your child will be proud that you are involved.
*While some of these symptoms are normal and affect a large majority of children, should you notice
your child not getting better, consult a mental health professional.*
Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, “Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a 'Come to Jesus Guide' for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com this fall. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice.
Article sponsored by ERC Roofing and Construction.
Find them on the web at: http://alabamaroofingexpert.com
By Tori Linville
Watching Bama from home? Do it in luxury
If your deck or patio has seen more dried up leaves, stray grass and weeds this summer than actual activity, you might be in need of an outdoor living space overhaul. If you’re planning on watching the Alabama Crimson Tide play from the comfort of your own abode, you’ll certainly want to get the most out of your outdoor space.
Here are some of outdoor entertainment’s go-to top trends to help fix your outdoor woes so you can enjoy rolling with the Tide in true Crimson style.
First things first – start with an ideal outdoor room.
The classic outdoor room not only establishes an outdoor area, but also makes for a welcoming environment that guests will enjoy. The experts at bobvila.com have some great tips and tricks that make this seemingly overwhelming task a pretty easy fix.
Start with a roof that frames your outdoor area – a pergola with some vine potential or even an awning are some options to check out. After dealing with the roof, go to the ground: lay out an outdoor rug that compliments your color scheme and/or outdoor furniture.
Speaking of color schemes and what not, go for bulky(ish) furniture and earth tones that will obviously compliment the surroundings. Furniture pieces that allow for a guest to kick back and relax are almost always preferred over a dainty lawn chair (if those even exist). Easy care fabrics are an obvious choice for weather-wear.
Lastly, add some lighting. String lights are a popular craze, but anything you prefer will do. Just make sure to illuminate the area when it’s dark out.
Next up: an unforgettable grill
If there’s one trend that will never go out of style, it’s the outdoor stovetop - otherwise known as a grill.
High-tech grills with tons of features can be found virtually everywhere. For example, the Saber Smart Edge Grill, with an infrared top and optional ceramic glass lid, is a Consumer Reports favorite. If watching the food slowly cook wasn’t enough, the grill hooks up to WiFi so a phone can keep track of when to cook, when to clean and when to fuel up.
If you’re looking for a more straightforward number, other Consumer Reports grills included the Weber Spirit E-220, the Weber Spirit SP-320 and a Kenmore grill.
Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces: A multipurpose focal point
Fire pits have been all the rage for a while now, and with good reason. As a center point for décor arrangements, the fire pit isn’t just for show. It provides warmth, light – and makes for a great s’mores maker.
Outdoor fireplaces are also a popular choice, according to Keith McCormick with Willcutt Block & Supply Co.
“We usually see a spike in sales of outdoor fireplaces in the fall and in the spring. We sell a few during the hottest part of summer – but not as much.”
McCormick says the options for outdoor fireplaces are virtually unlimited.
“There are many different kinds,” he said. “There’s one that’s a masonry outdoor fireplace, and it can be veneered any way you want. We carry others that are for the most part pre-built.”
In terms of design, some people have a clear vision of their backyard fireplace oasis, while others are looking for a little more help.
“Some people have already done research and they know what they want,” McCormick said. “Others have a general idea and they need a way to make it a reality.”
These days, a homeowner can dream very big when it comes to outdoor spaces for entertaining. One suggestion: Call a professional to help with the larger plans. As the backyard or patio area is being transformed, start planning those Halloween parties, football parties and Thanksgiving gatherings with friends and loved ones. That’s the fun part, after all.
Photos: Keith McCormick
Captions (kind of generic but the photos are stunning, have fun with this one):
An outdoor fireplace can create a warm, inviting outdoor space.
The right outdoor fireplace (or fire pit) provides a dramatic focal point for outdoor entertaining.
Article sponsored by Russell Lee Flooring.
Find them on the web at: www.rslee.com
By Amy Poore
Whether you’re attending a tailgating party on the Quad or hosting a backyard gathering at home, this is a recipe that is sure to please any football fan. The Mini Pimento Cheese Ball Bites are perfect for tailgate gatherings, and the prep time is super quick. You can make the pimento cheese well ahead of time.
Mini Pimento Cheese Ball Bites
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
18 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp and finely diced
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 jalapeños, minced (seeds & membranes removed)
Start by making the pimento cheese ahead of time.
With a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese until smooth, add in mayonnaise and continue to beat until it's all incorporated and smooth.
Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic salt, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Once again, beat until evenly mixed throughout, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.
Once chilled, combine bacon, pecans, and jalapeños in bowl.
Remove pimento cheese from refrigerator, scoop out a tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the bacon mixture, pressing it into cheese.
Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and chill.
When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and stick pretzel stick into top center of ball.
Note: This can also be made into one large cheese ball and served with pretzel chips or crackers.
Amy Poore is a new mom, a wife and a foodie. To see more of Amy's delicious recipes, visit her blog, Poore Amy, at www.pooreamy.com.
Photo: Amy Poore
Article sponsored by Lakeside Dental
Find them on the web at: http://www.lakesidedentalsmiles.com
By Sheena Gregg
Chances are, your fall revolves around football season. Hungry out of towners and locals alike can all agree that food is a must with football. Check out our suggestions for a place to grab a bite before or after the game!
A great day starts with a great breakfast. Fluffy, delicious pancakes, country potatoes, and mouthwatering bacon make a trip to the Waysider a Tuscaloosa tradition. Donned in Alabama memorabilia and nostalgic décor of the Crimson Tide’s most famous characters, out-of-town guests will thank you for bringing them to The Waysider.
Big Bad Wolves Barbecue
If you’re looking for something right on The Strip, Big Bad Wolves BBQ, next to The Houndstooth, will give you the game day experience you’ve been looking for. Massive barbecue nachos will make your time in line worth the wait.
DePalma’s Italian Cafe
Italian cuisine may not scream football season, but it does scream delicious. Made from scratch pastas and signature dishes complement the cozy yet upscale space for lunch or dinner on your game day weekend. If you’ve got room for dessert, don’t forget to order the white chocolate bread pudding!
Featuring brunch, lunch, and dinner, the Avenue Pub aims to please. Buffalo sliders, fish & chips, bacon burgers, and Thai nachos will make your mouth water. Specialty cocktails and craft beers make this the ideal place to stop after the game.
With menu items like the “14 National Champs BLT,” the “Ain’t Nothing But a Winner Polish Dog,” and the “Touchdown Burger Platter,” how could you not want to stop here before the game? Located conveniently beside Bryant-Denny Stadium, Rama Jama’s is a people pleaser for locals and out-of-towners alike.
Pizza makes the world go round, especially for a family crowd looking for tasty eats on game day weekend. Mellow Mushroom boasts a perfectly textured crust combined with traditional and unique pizza toppings, and it’s conveniently located in downtown Tuscaloosa.
If you and your crew are looking for a treasure off the beaten path, consider Archibald’s Barbecue. Featured in one of ESPN’s original “Taste of the Town” segments, Archibald’s Barbecue in Northport has ribs described as “the best in the nation.” Creamy coleslaw and old-fashioned white bread keep Archibald’s customers craving more.
Photos: Sheena Gregg
Sheena Gregg is a registered dietitian and local “Filipino Foodie.” Follow her adventures at www.afilipinofoodie.com.
RamaJamas: Rama Jama’s is located right next to Bryant-Denny stadium.
AvenuePub: The Avenue Pub offers great pub fare in downtown Tuscaloosa.
MellowMush: Enjoy tasty pizzas, sandwiches and more at Mellow Mushroom.
Article sponsored by Alabama Power.
Find them on the web at: http://www.alabamapower.com
By: Courtney Corbridge
Living in a condo, traveling the world, and filling your free time with family visits or time on the green seems like the dream of retirement. But not without a significant savings set aside.
Think of it. If you retire at 65, you’re looking at another 20 to 30 years of vibrant life, which means you’ll need the money to live it. In fact, experts say that you’ll have to save enough to practically replace your current annual income for each year of retirement. So if you’re making 50,000 dollars a year now, you’ll need 50,000 dollars a year then. The idea is that what you stop spending on your children’s education, mortgages, and middle-aged expenses you’ll make up for in new hobbies, healthcare, and excursions. On a 50,000 income, that’s 1.5 million dollars for 30 years.
But don’t get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you plan now for a good life later:
1. Start Early: The US Department of Labor suggests actively saving 10–15 years before retirement. Other financial gurus recommend saving as soon as possible; the longer you save the more time your money has to grow on interest and in investments. Multi-millions will take some time, but don’t get overwhelmed, don’t give up, and once it’s saved, don’t touch it.
2. Stay Healthy: Certainly age comes with medical problems. We all slow down and break down a little, but the more we look after ourselves today, the less time we’ll spend paying hospital bills tomorrow—and the more likely we’ll be able to continue living independently on the funds we’ve saved. Keep a balanced diet and stay active.
3. Make a Budget and Keep It: Know where your money is going and cut down on unneeded expenses. It may surprise you what you can live without if you are actively concerned with your future.
4. Invest in Safe, Long-Term Investments and Spread Them Out: Experts caution against putting all your money in one or two places—especially in the companies you already get your paychecks from. Spread your money out so that if one investment suffers a loss, you haven’t lost everything.
5. Contribute to your Employer’s Retirement Fund: By putting away funds now with a 401(k), you can defer taxes until you make the withdrawal at retirement. By then your senior status may offer you tax breaks and benefits to help you save the maximum amount. Additionally, many employers will match your contributions or add a percentage of them to add to your retirement funds.
6. Minimize Expenses in the Last 10–15 Years: Pre-retirement is the time for stability. Try not to take out loans for cars or homes, and do not offer large loans to your children. This is the time to invest and save what you might otherwise offer up as monthly payments to a bank.
7. Research on Your Own: Whether that means researching which financial consultant will best be able to help you or researching which investments you want to make, knowledge is the key. So sit down with your spouse—or by yourself—and dig in.
Article sponsored by Morning Pointe.
Find them on the web at: http://www.morningpointe.com
By Amelia Pilsch
A while back, in dog years, I was shopping with three close friends and stepped into an upscale furniture store. There, featured prominently in many of the furniture groupings, was a plant, the Sansevieria trifasciata or as it is more commonly known, Mother-in-law’s tongue.
My friends, both wonderful mother-in-laws, had many negative comments to make about one of my favorite plants. “I hate that metaphor,” “I don’t even like what it implies,” and, “I would not have that plant in my house” were accompanied by grimaces and head shaking. Does everyone associate a malicious tongue with mother-in-laws? I held mine.
I love my Sansevieria, it's a beautiful name for a plant, and I should have defended it right then. I appreciate its architectural appearance in home décor. It grows vertically, long and straight, adding height to any space calling for something tall. The leaves look like swords, the color is a rich, deep green, sometimes with variations of lighter green or yellow bands. When it blooms, it is amazing!
This plant is one of the most low maintenance plants that I have ever owned. It will thrive in low light or steamy, humid conditions. It will survive infrequent watering and, during our winter, it needs only one watering. My plant will probably outlive me.
The Sansevieria is also rated one of the top plants for improving air quality in the home. Specifically, it filters out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products such as toilet paper, tissue and other personal care products. Put one in your bathroom.
Very soon, I will become a mother-in-law to a wonderful young woman, which is what reminded me about that shopping trip with my friends in the first place. This new stage of my life really has nothing to do with plants except in the nature of the relationship that I hope to have with my daughter-in-law. I hope that she will view me as low maintenance. I will try my best. I hope my presence in her home will improve the quality of life for all who are there. I hope our relationship will bloom and be amazing.
In China, the Sansevieria trifasciata was kept as a treasured houseplant, because the Eight Gods bestowed their virtues on those who grew them. These virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health and strength. It is also known to create positive energy and helpful feng shui.
So, I will continue to nurture my Mother-in-law's tongue, though it will be called a Sansevieria in my house, because it is beautiful and unique, and it has done well for me. Perhaps it will become a symbolic reminder to "bite my tongue" and work on this new relationship that has blessed me. I want to get it right.
Amelia Pilsch is a member of the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners and a soon-to-be mother-in-law.
Article sponsored by YFC Comedy Cafe.
Find them on the web at: http://www.ttowncomedycafe.org
By Courtney Corbridge
You've made it through the toughest decision: you know the one you're going to marry. But now for that ring. Here are some tips to find the right one for her—and for your wallet.
What are you willing to pay?
First things first, you need to know what you're willing to pay. Sometimes jewelers can be bullies with a smile, but you have more sway over them than they have over you. The best way to keep yourself safe is doing some research on quality diamonds before you go, and then shop around. The average female engagement ring, with band and stone, goes for roughly 5k, but it’s easy to spend a lot less or a lot more, so in the end it’s knowing her style that’s most important.
Lately, this means taking your girlfriend with you. But it doesn't have to. And though she may not be able to tell you she wants a VS1 grade, G color, 1.5 carat, very good cut diamond. She (or some of her friends) will likely be able to cue you in to the overall look she's after. Once you know that, reputable jewelers with GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGSL (American Gem Society Laboratory) certifications will be able to help you with the infamous “4 C's” and find you the best option within your budget.
So on to what will matter most to her:
· The metal
The most common metals in fine jewelry are currently yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum. Each has different benefits, but largely they will all hold up over time, so it’s primarily a choice of color. An easy way to choose without giving yourself away is to watch what she typically wears.
· The Stone
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But emeralds, pearls, sapphires, morganite, and a few other precious gems are making a comeback. You might look into her birthstone for a start—or perhaps her favorite color. As always, do your research and make sure the gem you’re looking into doesn’t have severe inclusions or a low rank on the Moh’s hardness scale.
· The Size
When she says big, she isn't necessarily talking about the carat weight, though that is related. Each carat weight has various diameters, depending on the depth and the cut of the stone. It is possible to get a larger diamond diameter without sacrificing your savings. As mentioned later, halos and multi-stone settings can also aid in the appearance of size.
· The Shape
Deceivingly, the cut of a stone and the shape of a stone are not the same thing. While cut refers to how the diamond is crafted (and how it will reflect the light), the shape is a little more basic.
Common shapes are round, princess (square), marquise (eye shaped), pear, emerald (rectangle), cushion (rounded square), and asscher.
· The Setting
The setting is where the gemstone actually sits on the ring, and there are a variety of settings to choose from. Most traditional are the prong, cathedral, bezel, and tension settings. Each one can customize and create a unique look—even for simple solitaire styles. But for added emphasis, you can get twisted settings, halos, and multi-gem settings which can increase the appearance of the central stone’s size.
· The Band
Typically when people talk about bands, they are referring to wedding bands, but the engagement ring has a band too. They can be thin or thick, twisted, encrusted with jewels, or vintage—and everything in between. There are as many options as there are women, but having a basic idea of whether she wants added sparkle or the pop of a tiny band against a single stone will help you sort through your options faster.
Article sponsored by Touch of Love.
By Sheena Gregg
In my mind, everybody’s got a little bit of a sweet tooth. Whether its cake, ice cream, pies, or something else, we’ve all got that one sweet treat that we wouldn’t mind having to end a memorable dinner. In Tuscaloosa, desserts are as much of a bragging right as barbecue. So if you’re visiting us to see the Tide roll, take note of these delectable treats!
That Cheesecake by Tammy Smith, Southern Ale House
Just as the name indicates, That Cheesecake by Tammy Smith has people all over town talking. Currently available on the dessert menu at Southern Ale House and at the Tuscaloosa River Market sold by Ms. Tammy herself, this white chocolate cheesecake will remind you how perfect desserts can really be.
White Chocolate Bread Pudding, DePalma’s Italian Café
The white chocolate bread pudding at DePalma’s is a Tuscaloosa classic. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, seriously. Rich, warm flavors with the savory sweetness of white chocolate and drizzled chocolate convince diners that bread pudding should be its own food group.
Strawberry Cake, Edgar’s Bakery and Café
Defying all boundaries of amazingness, Edgar’s strawberry cake is legendary. With strawberry-infused cake layers and a rich, refreshing strawberry cream cheese icing, it’s no wonder this cake is known across the state.
Chocolate Soufflé, The Side by Side Restaurant
Calling all chocolate lovers to one of the most perfect desserts in town: Warm, rich chocolate flavors beautifully paired with delectable whipped cream remind us that dessert is always worth the calories. This chocolate soufflé is perfect after dinner or as a treat with a nice hot cup of coffee.
Beet Cremeaux, Epiphany Farm to Table New American Cuisine
If you’re wanting something a little different in your dessert repertoire, Epiphany’s Beet Cremeaux is for you. The earthy flavors of the beet pairs magically with sweetened condensed milk and an espresso-based sauce topped with pistachios.
Dessert Sampler, Cypress Inn
If you’re obsessed with desserts yet on the indecisive side, the Cypress Inn Dessert Sampler has you covered. Peanut butter pie, cheese pie, Mississippi mud cake, and whiskey bread pudding made with savory yeast rolls are a winning combination. Great to share with a sweetie, friends, or enjoy all on your own!
Kozy Kreamer, Kozy’s Restaurant
Proving that an adult beverage can serve as dessert, the Kozy Kreamer is a tasty end to dinner. Made with brandy, Kahlua, crème de cocoa, Bailey’s, and vanilla ice cream, this beverage is probably the most delicious way you can cool off during these hot summer nights.
Photos: Sheena Gregg
Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Veterans.
Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com
Visiting Tuscaloosa for Game Day and Need a Pre- or Post-Game Caffeine Fix? Tuscaloosa Coffee Shops to Try09 Sep 2015
By Sheena Gregg
Ahhh…tis the season of pumpkin spice in the coffee world! If you’re anything like me, fall brings on cravings for great coffee. In a town that runs on caffeine, Tuscaloosa locals have plenty to choose from in the coffee arena. Here are a few places to put on your radar this season, especially if you’re visiting Tuscaloosa for a weekend Bama game!
Nehemiah’s Coffee House
Since its opening in June 2012, Nehemiah’s has cultivated a sense of community among Forest Lake residents. Patrons will find the atmosphere inviting and cozy while also providing ample space for listening to live music, playing a board game, or sitting down for a cup of joe while reading the morning paper. Serving up Seattle’s Best coffee, I was pleased with the variety of beverages that are available, including the tasty peppermint white mocha that is sure to warm you up and make your taste buds do a happy dance.
Regular monthly events and drink specials can be found at www.facebook.com/nehemiahscoffeehouse and @NehemiahsCoffee on Twitter. Be sure to also check www.flbc.us/Nehemiahs for more information on the history of Nehemiah’s.
Heritage House Coffee & Tea
Many may know Heritage House as the first coffee house in Tuscaloosa with a history that began over 20 years ago. Now located off of Towncenter Boulevard in Northport, the shop provides ample space for relaxing, studying, or conducting a business meeting in the private conference room. Visitors can agree that the vast variety of flavored coffees offered sets Heritage House apart from others in Tuscaloosa. If coffee isn’t your thing, assorted green, black, and loose leaf teas are offered to relax yourself. My personal Heritage House recommendation is the Toffee Coffee latte that provides a sweet smooth texture with just the right amount of caffeine.
Edelweiss German Bakery and Coffee Shop
If you’re in the mood for authentic German breads and pastries, Edelweiss is sure to make you smile. Since 2007, the shop has provided a variety of European specialties to complement the various coffee drinks that are served up each day. If the large display case of pretzels, cakes, and pastries doesn’t catch your eye, classic German sandwiches and dishes will fill you up for breakfast and lunch. My personal favorite is the apple strudel garnished with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Edelweiss is located in Temerson Square and open for breakfast and lunch daily.
Photos: Sheena Gregg
Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Black Warrior.
Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com
By Courtney Corbridge
A quick search on the internet can be confusing when it comes to fertilizing in the fall. Better Homes and Gardens claims, “pests and disease problems fade away in the fall. You don't need fertilizer, either. Fertilizer promotes new, tender growth that can be nipped by winter weather; stop fertilizing by late summer.” But This Old House contrastingly says, “Taking the time to fertilize in the fall will strengthen your plants' and lawn's roots, giving them a strong base on which to thrive next spring.”
So which is it? Unfortunately the answer is both, and knowing what is right for your specific plant can vary, but here is a general rule to help you as you get your green thumb back this fall.
It turns out that fertilizing too early in the fall can bring on new growth that is then stifled by winter frosts. This damages the plants and inhibits them from growing properly in spring. On the other hand, fertilizing in late autumn—when the colored leaves are falling off the trees—actually stimulates plants’ root systems. The roots absorb the nutrients in the soil, prepping them all winter for the spring thaw. In fact, fertilizing in late fall will likely be sufficient for your plants so that you will not need to re-fertilize them in early spring.
This being the case, be sure not to over fertilize. Not only will it waste fertilizer, but it can also damage your plants or cause them to produce a bad crop.
All in all, fall fertilization is less about immediate growth than it is looking to future growth. Better roots now will mean better foliage later. So fertilize in late summer; then wait to do it again until November.
Note: This is a general rule. Certain plants, shrubs, and trees will require different fertilization methods. Double check the needs of your specific plants depending on whether or not they are perennials, summer annuals, or winter annuals.
Article sponsored by State Farm Insurance and First South Farm Credit.
Find State Farm on the web at: www.statefarm.com
Find First South Farm Credit on the web at: www.firstsouthfarmcredit.com/home.aspx
By Allison Adams
September. Is it really already here?! With the temps rising to the triple digits in July, I have to say I welcome the end of summer.
But isn’t that what the seasons are really about? They provide change for us just in time, bringing much-needed relief from monotony. We can’t help it, we are wired this way, and our super-fast technical lives are making it even more difficult for us to learn to relax.
We anticipate and eagerly await summer as she rolls in, the sun and some warm patches heating up our springs, until we are full-blown into the middle of summer. We enjoy a little time at the beach, in a boat on the lake, but then suddenly we find ourselves in a little round plastic tub in desperate search of activities for kids and relief from the heat.
Just yesterday I felt a cool breeze on the back side of a pop-up thunderstorm. It was like a touch of fall breeze heaven caressing my face. Well, maybe it was still in the low 90s, but to me, it smelled a bit like fall.
Fall is on the way, tempting us just as summer did. You can see it coming in the store displays, as owners scurry about, getting ready for the influx of students. The lake has even been quieter than usual, as everyone squeezes in a last-minute vacation before buckling down to tackle school supply lists and soccer sign ups. You can almost feel the football fever coming across the rocky cliffs that surround the waters’ edge on Lake Tuscaloosa. The thought brings chill bumps to my arms! But for now, let’s make the most of the summer that we have left with the kids.
I find it amusing that even here in the South, we have to work to relax. There are classes on relaxation. We create rooms to help us find our Zen. We drink to take the edge off. We exercise to de-stress. We spend money for counselors who are supposed to help us find our “center.”
Why would we “work” to relax when all around us, God has rolled out the best therapy. Relaxation is guaranteed when you stop and immerse yourself in a sunset, walking along the lake’s shore, and then you look over and spot a turtle sliding off a log, enjoying an evening dip. There is no better Zen than to listen to a stream trickle down a hill to the lake below. Paddling in a canoe or kayak can add some vigorous workout to your search for “chi.”
May you embrace the heat and push through. Before long, we will be deep into fall and wishing for some winter winds to get us through ‘til spring. Hey! It’s how we roll!
If you’ve been hiding out in the A/C all summer and didn’t realize summer was just about over, you still have time to make those special family summer memories. If you are all out of ideas, no one can resist loading in the truck (we have been known to just go pick up the neighborhood and take them in the RV for ice cream) and heading to Sonic for a cold blast of something. Or try some night bowling in the air conditioning before it is filled once again with college students. After all, right now, we locals still have the run of the place!
Blessings from Lake Tuscaloosa, and Happy End-of-Summer,
Photo: Allison Adams
Article sponsored by Interlinc Mortgage Services.
Find them on the web at: www.interlincmortgage.com
By Courtney Corbridge
When it comes to teens and their financial responsibilities, no two homes will do it the same. And they don't have to. One teenager may benefit from access to a credit card early in order to learn how to be organized, meet deadlines, and be careful with the quick swipe of a card. Another teenager, however, may quickly become trapped by the buy-now, pay-later rationale and establish a pattern for debt.
Parents often decide to give their teens credit cards for emergencies, to teach responsibility, or help them establish credit from an early age. But before you take the leap, here are a few questions to ask before deciding if a credit card is right for the teens and soon-to-be independents in your home.
Are you in debt?
Of course kids can learn from our mistakes, but they can also follow them. If you have a habit of overspending or a large collection of credit card debts, it is likely that your child will too. This is yet another case where “do what I say and not what I do” will fall short.
Do your children "nickel and dime themselves to death"?
Aside from mortgages, student loans, and car payments, it's often not the big things that cause college students and teens to go into debt. It's the daily expenditures they forget to keep track of and fail to live without—a pizza here, a concert there. Budgets are broken on the small stuff.
Do they already save and budget?
Letting your child save up for a summer trip, a car, or a musical instrument can be good ways to test if your teen is ready for a credit card. If they already have a history of saving their funds and keeping track of them, it’s likely those skills will carry over once they have a plastic card instead of cash.
Have you talked to your children about building credit?
College-aged students are more likely to open lots of credit card accounts—one with Target, one with Gap, another with Amazon etc. On many campuses they'll be offered anything from a free T-shirt to a free pizza to apply for credit cards, or at the very least to subscribe to a lifetime of banking junk mail. Teach your kids about the wisdom of only having a few credit cards and paying them off on time. Teach them about building credit, why they will need good credit, and how to maintain good credit. Sit down with them. If they are unwilling to learn about the advantages and repercussions of a credit card, they probably aren’t ready to have one.
Have they already had a debit card through a personal checking account?
Many parents find that debit cards are good options for teens who already have jobs. This gives them experience with tracking their money online and through bank statements without giving them the full buying power of a credit card. With joint checking accounts, parents can also transfer funds to them in the case of emergencies. For this phone savvy generation, most banks have apps that teens can download to keep track of their expenditures, and they will often send texts to warn them when their funds get low.
Article sponsored by the Lift Fund.
Find them on the web at: http://alabama.liftfund.com
The Land of Oz
A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.”
If you are anything like me (and bless your soul if you are), you might have looked at the calendar recently and asked yourself, “Hey… where in the heck did summer go?”
Technically, it’s still here. But for all intents and purposes, it begins when school lets out and ends when school resumes. Or does it?
Whether you have kids or not, there is a direct correlation (especially in the thriving metropolis of Tuscaloosa) as it relates to our living conditions. This includes, but is not limited to: much lighter traffic conditions, no lines, no wait at local eateries, and no dreading the approach to the unavoidable intersection at 15th and McFarland (hurry up with that Krispy Kreme turn lane, will ya?). No matter where you live, you’ve no doubt dealt with this issue.
Seasons seem to get shorter every year and unscientifically speaking, maybe it’s because that for a couple of brief months, life gets a little easier to navigate. Literally. Getting from point A to point B is a lot less hectic.
But it also may be because of timing. Let’s face it: The last week of May and the first week of August are a wash. If you’re not decompressing from the hustle of spring, you’re prepping for the upcoming hustle in the fall. Some of us never come out of the hustle to begin with, but at least the commute is a little less painful.
Eliminate those two weeks, and you have exactly two months remaining. After various sporting camps, and vacation bible school, and finishing baseball, and dodging bacteria in the neighborhood pool, and swim lessons, and reapplying sunscreen, and potentially squeezing in a vacation from which you return and need a vacation… it’s over.
In a puff of smoke, the school supply list is staring you in the face and we’re all mulling over preseason football polls.
Other school systems perform their summer break dance a little differently simply by altering dates while maintaining the allotment of off time.
As an example, certain systems in other necks of other woods shift the grand finale of the academic year until the end of June and then recommence after Labor Day. I’m not sure which is worse. The only sure positive is that statistically, July and August are the hottest months, and at least the kids would return as the weather is beginning to somewhat cool down.
Regardless, the summers seemingly continue to get shorter. And if the powers that be eventually shorten the actual break, then by the measurement of the title of this article, enjoy your one week of summer. Time flies when you’re reapplying sunscreen.
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica.
By Tori Linville
It’s a nationally known fact that the South takes its football seriously. So seriously, in fact, that there’s often that little saying that the four seasons in our neck of the woods are actually Winter, Spring, Summer and Football. No argument there.
But it doesn’t stop with Football. It could be argued that there’s another season that’s growing to be pretty big on it’s own. Football’s little brother, Tailgating season, is here and it’s past time for you to secure your spot on an SEC campus for the ultimate pregame experience.
Tailgating season means grilling. It means having great times with good friends. It means you need supplies. Most of all, it means business. We’ve listed some tailgating essentials just in case you need help double checking when the time comes.
First off, where’s your cooler?
Whether it’s five gallons or 500, you’re gonna need one. Hydration is key and keeping your drinks on ice is a must. We don’t really need to say much more, but this:
Are you wearing comfy shoes?
This is mainly a concern if you’re trying to look super put-together. Dress up all you want, but dress down when it comes to the shoes. You’ll be on your feet for a while, so don’t forget it.
Where’s your grill?
Only one of the most important tailgating tools. Ever. This puppy brings the burgers to your friends and the hot dogs to your kids. Now imagine them minus the food. Hungry. Angry. Hangry.
If you’re in the market for a new grill, try out designer Eddie Licitra’s newly designed grill with tailgaters in mind. Foldable, customizable and it’s even able to double as a dolly.
Don’t forget some of the ingredients that make tailgating great:
First Aid Kits
Jumper Cables (because you never know)
Article sponsored by the Hudson Poole.
Find them on the web at: http://www.hudsonpoole.com
We did it: We just booked our first-ever trip to Europe! 12 days of fun and frolicking in London and Paris. And of course, this means a lot of walking. As much as I heart my Antelope wedges, something tells me they won’t work so well on the cobblestone streets of the UK and France. No, I need new kicks that will give me enough support to walk much more than I normally do.
By Cokie Thompson
School has started, and elementary school students across the state are all stocked up on fresh paper, unbroken crayons, and if their parents were feeling generous while back-to-school shopping, a new coloring book. This year, those parents might even get in on the fun.
Last fall, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book made its way to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. It might be interesting for any coloring book to reach that status, but this one is especially notable: it’s for adults.
Articles from Slate and Huffington Post have highlighted the stress-relieving benefits of coloring for all ages, especially adults with lives that don’t seem to allow them to slow down and breathe.
Allison Adams, an Alabama artist, drew Southern Scribblings after years of journaling and following Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. She believes in the power of setting aside time to relax and get in touch with her creative side. Her book incorporates exercises beyond filling in the lines to help people sort out things going on in their heads they may not be paying attention to.
“This one I was trying to also get people thinking about getting creative but also balancing their life,” Adams said.
She said her goal is to help people open up to their creativity, and she hopes this will help them connect with their hopes and dreams from before they cared if they were coloring inside the lines.
“When people get to the point in life where they are asking, ‘What am I doing? Why am I on this treadmill?’ almost always they go back to that thing that they loved when they were five or six,” Adams said.
At Caring Days Adult Day Care in Tuscaloosa, adults with Alzheimer’s disease get creative with coloring books too. Artwork from current and former patients covers the walls and keeps the facility warm and feeling like home.
Executive Director Vicki Kerr said while it can be tricky defining what is or isn’t within a patient’s skill set, coloring has had a positive impact on Caring Days.
“I don’t ever want to do anything that seems to be demeaning,” Kerr said. “When it’s your kids, you’re proud, but of course with Alzheimer’s patients it goes the other way.”
Whether it’s through Wild West themed-coloring books or watercolors on paper, Kerr said Caring Days patrons are able to express some of their deepest feelings.
“What you see come out is from their heart,” Kerr said.
Arts ‘n Autism in Tuscaloosa works with children on the autism spectrum through after-school programs and summer camps. Amy Grimes, the art teacher for the program, said she could see how adult coloring books would help people relax.
She uses Zentangles, a drawing method, to help calm her students who have difficulty with transitions. The task is focused, but not fraught with potential error, and helps them work through anything that is frustrating them.
“Particularly if you have kids who are used to doing things in an order,” Grimes said. “It does center them and make them feel quite comfortable.”
Like Allison Adams, Grimes said helping people engage their creative side can be difficult at first.
“When you try to get them to revisit it, they’re frightened by that, but it’s amazing if you give them step one or step two, they aren’t as overwhelmed,” Grimes said.
Whether you’re stressed about bosses and clients or learning how to read, a coloring book might help you unwind.
Article sponsored by Belle Chambre.
Find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/BelleChambreTuscaloosa
By Chloe Monte
According to the NASA’s Clean Air Study, the following plants not only absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but they also absorb harmful chemicals from the air. And it is recommended that a home or office have one plant per 100 square feet.
Areca Palm - Areca palms are great for filtering xylene and toluene from the air. As well, it is known for being good humidifiers. Areca palms like bright light, so place near a large window.
Boston Fern - Boston Ferns are great at filtering formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air. Place them in humid areas as they thrive in humidity.
English Ivy - English Ivy is good at filtering benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene from the air. It’s an excellent broad filtering plant and it’s also recommended for those with allergies.
Lilyturf - Lilyturf is known for its ability to filter formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene from the air. It is excellent for bright spaces or shaded areas of the house.
Devil’s Ivy - Devil’s Ivy is great at filtering benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
Peace Lily - The Peace Lily is an excellent broad filtering plant. It filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
Mother-in-law’s Tongue - This plant is an excellent plant for areas of your home with low sunlight. As well, it releases oxygen at night, so it is great to place next to your bed. It filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene
Red-edged Dracaena - This Dracaena variety filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. This plant is very sensitive to fluoride and it requires the use of filtered water.
Florist’s Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemums filter the air best when they are flowering. They filter: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
Thank you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study for providing excellent information for this article.
Article sponsored by DCH, Lift Fund, and Morning Pointe.
Find DCH on the web at: https://www.dchsystem.com
Find Lift Fund on the web at: http://www.liftfund.com
Find Morning Pointe on the web at: http://www.morningpointe.com
By Tori Linville
The best game days are marked by the football and the food. If your last tailgate wasn’t one that your taste buds remember, it’s time for a change. Revamp your table with these classic dip recipes on us.
The Perfect Guac
What you’ll need:
3 ripe avacados
1 minced jalapeno (stem and seeds removed)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
dash of cumin
(optional/: 1 roma tomato, cored and chopped)
What you’ll make:
Mash together ingredients. If you’re adding tomatoes, stir those in at the end. Cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap directly touches the guacamole, and refrigerate.
The Best Bean Dip
What you’ll need:
1 can refried beans
1 cup picante sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 pckg. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
What you’ll make:
In a bowl, combine first eight ingredients and serve with chips and salsa.
Ways to cook it:
Slow cooker: cover and cook on high for two hours
Oven: bake dip at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes
Microwave: heat in bowl for five to eight minutes
Mississippi Sin Dip
What you’ll need:
1 loaf French bread (Italian loaf)
1 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup chopped smoked ham or prosciutto
1/3 cup green onion, chopped fine
4 oz. can of chopped green chilies, undrained
1/4 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce
What you’ll make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the bread by cutting off the top of the bread 1/2 inch deep. Hollow out the bread, leaving about a one inch shell. Set top aside and cut inside bread into cubes for toasting and dipping later. Mix all ingredients in mixer until blended.
Place a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the whole loaf onto a baking sheet. Pour cheese mixture into hollowed-out bread. Sprinkle top with meat if desired. Return the top piece of bread to close the bread bowl.
Wrap completely in foil and place baking sheet in oven. Bake for one hour.
Article sponsored by the following: South’s Finest Meat’s, Nationwide, and Fincher & Ozment.
Find South’s Finest Meat’s on the web at: http://southsfinestmeats.com
Find Nationwide on the web at: http://www.nationwide.com
Find Fincher & Ozment on the web at: http://www.fincherandozment.com