How to Put a “Spring” in Your Step

Oh, spring…the season for warmer temps, crawfish and pollen that hits you in the face like sinus-clogging confetti. You’re fuller from the holidays, your home is still covered in beads from Mardi Gras and where has this left you? Perpetually face planted on the couch. Do better by putting a spring back in your step!

Log Off and Get Out

Sure, you’ve spent most of winter bundled up on the couch cruising social media, but all that screen time has drained your soul just a bit. While it may seem like everyone is having a more fabulous time than you (even MeMaw with that bunco old lady mob she hangs out with), it is possible to have a life again. Think of every minute you’ve spent glued to your phone…yeah, it’s a lot isn’t? Instead use those minutes in some form of physical or social activity. Mingle at a mixer or devote the time you normally spent online at the gym.

Overhaul Your Diet

I know you caught about two years’ worth of Moon Pies at Mardi Gras but despite their impressive shelf-life, they should actually be shelved indefinitely. This isn’t about going on a diet but changing your diet completely. Carbs are delicious and sometimes, the best ones make you feel pretty. In reality all of that isl short-lived after you have crash landed into your bed at 3 pm. Find the foods that you actually enjoy eating that have a heaping side of health benefits.

Make it About You (for once)

The cold winter weather may left you a bit pasty with a few dry patches and oh, my have you seen your feet?? Seriously, they could qualify as stand-ins for Bilbo Baggins. Take a minute (a few hours, days even) to treat yourself! Try a new hairstyle, get that much, much needed pedicure or stop by Fountain of Youth for one of their fabulous yoga sessions. You will quickly see that treating yourself never looked so good.

Get Clean

Quit trying to convince yourself that those Mardi Gras beads bring you joy, they don’t! Even though you did strong-arm a 5 year-old to get them, they’ll just end up as another object you’re constantly picking up off the floor. You may have heard the term, “A clutter space leaves a cluttered mind” (OK, just kidding you’ve never heard it before because I just made that up). But it does make sense, right? Think about how a messy home makes you feel. Anxious? Tired? Generally in a grumpy mood? If you marked “yes” to each one of these then you may have a cluttered home. Label boxes as “Donate”, “Throw Away” and “Keep”. Organize them biggest to smallest so the “Keep” stuff stays at a minimum. (I know those Moon Pies don’t take up a lot of space, but you’re still throwing them away.)

Just because it’s spring that doesn’t mean you have to feel “sprung out”! By unplugging, changing your eating habits, treating yourself and decluttering you will be on your way to jumpstarting a better quality of life.

Advertisements

Spring Break Ideas in Lower Alabama

Spring Break, a parent’s preamble to summer vacation, is right around the corner. Sure, you could round up the kids, pack the minivan, drive 10 hours to Disney and sweat your butt off while spending the equivalent to a down payment. But what if this year you made it a staycation and kept things in the confines of Lower Alabama? Check out this list of Spring Break ideas to keep everyone in your brood entertained.

Mobile

I know what you’re thinking…the last thing kids want to do during Spring Break is learn. But here’s the thing, getting out and physically showing them where history happened can leave a pretty big impact. Take a tour of the USS Alabama Battleship or get a real sense of claustrophobia inside the USS Drum. Not a fan of tight spaces? Step inside the Medal of Honor Aircraft Pavilion for some up close and personal displays of wartime aviation. Visit The Fort of Colonial Mobile or the Carnival Museum for a history lesson on the origins of Mardi Gras. And if your kids want to learn about a warrior, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center has the Genghis Khan exhibit.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Life’s really a beach sometimes…especially in Lower Alabama. Just a few miles south are the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Make is a lazy beach day by hanging out at Alabama Point or the newly renovated Lagoon Pass Park. Hit up some of the local beach shops or visit restaurants such as The Hangout and The Gulf. Both eateries are the perfect family-friendly spots where you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Dauphin Island

If you want to spend time at the beach for Spring Break but without everyone else in the country, then hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island. Home to around 1,200 residents, Dauphin Island has plenty of restaurants, activities and shops to keep you fed and happy during your visit. For example, Indian Shell Mound Park or perhaps the Sand Island Lighthouse would be the perfect places to visit.

Fort Morgan

Need a break from being a total beach bum? Head over to Fort Morgan which is driving distance from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. This stretch of white, sandy beaches has history and beauty (think of it as a two for one). Take a tour of the Fort Morgan Historic Site or if you want to totally wear the kids out, venture through Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge’s six miles of trails.

Art Camps

Many of our area libraries and local art shops are willing to take the reins and show the kids the ways of a paintbrush. Art camps are a great way to get their hands off of the iPad onto paper or canvas. The Art Wide Open Studio in Fairhope, AL  has the space available for all sorts of events.  And while the kids are squared away, treat yourself by visiting Fountain of Youth for a quick spa visit.

We spend our days running in the same circles that sometimes it better to stay put. This year, why not spend your Spring Break close by with the ones who are closest to you.

The Ultimate Guide On How to Manage a Family And Work

Picture it: It’s Friday night, you’re relaxing in the bathtub with a glass of wine and you think to yourself, “I have a good job, a great family and a beautiful home…wow, I really do have it all.” But then it hits you…you have it…ALL. You have all the things that come with having a good job (work commitments, meetings), a great family (doctor appointments, soccer practice, ughh and homework) and a beautiful home (maintenance, mortgage). Wait! Before you decide to end it all by drowning yourself in bubbles, you can handle all the things life throws at you by following this handy guide.

Let Scheduling Be Your BFF

A schedule of your family’s activities can be your Thelma to your Louise. And I’m not talking about the calendar reminders on your phone….put this baby everywhere. The fridge, a cute Pinterest-worthy/DIY version on the wall, a handy-dandy day planner that will surely come with some sort of inspirational quote inscribed on the front (because if you don’t have faith in yourself, at least the planner does). A visual of where everyone is going, what they are doing, and when they are doing it will allow you to see what is actually going on.

Learn to say “Nope”

Sure, volunteering for the school field trip to the farm sounds all fun and games but we all know how it’s going to end: a bunch of hot and sweaty 6 year-olds will end up terrorizing the chickens. Now, I’m not saying don’t volunteer any time to the school. Just decide what school-related activity best utilizes your time and resources.

Guess where else you can use your new favorite word? As scary as it may sound you are allowed to say “no” at work. Speak up and let your boss know that you have a lot on your plate. Trust me, he or she will appreciate the honesty instead of a mental breakdown in the office supply closet.

Make Time for Yourself

Back to that glass of wine and bubble bath…speaking of…when it is the last time you showered?? May need to put that on the schedule. This is why it’s important (not only for you but mostly your coworkers) to make time for yourself. It can be anything from a quick yoga session, a trip to the nail salon or going for a walk or run (just make sure you actually return home).

Understanding It’s a Choice

Wait, what? All this work, volunteering, playdates, sports stuff…this is all a choice?? Ding, ding! As harsh at it may sound, we are responsible for bringing the life’s responsibilities upon ourselves. And while we can’t quit our jobs and move to the Bahamas (minus the kids), we do have the choice of how, when and where we spend our time.  

Look, if you are spreading yourself too thin, you’re more likely to break. Saying “no” more often, understanding your choices, and getting that oh, so, so sweet “me time” will not only help improve your family and work life but you as well.

Delicious Southern Cooking in Town

One of the first questions visitors usually ask us Southerners is: “Where can I get a good meal around here?” Your mind quickly scrolls through all the delectable options available, leaving you to ponder, “Should I share my secrets for the best place for oysters?” Of course! Sharing is caring down here in Lower Alabama and we can’t keep all the delicious fried goodness to ourselves. Here is a roundup of the best places for delicious Southern cooking around town.

NoJa

Now, I know what your thinking…how can a trendy, Mediterranean-Asia fusion restaurant be the go-to place for Southern cooking? Look, just because something isn’t deep fried and swimming in gravy doesn’t mean it can’t be Southern. NoJa cooks up a delicious assortment of seafood dishes with shrimp straight from the Gulf. Dine in their trendy cafe style restaurant.

Boudreaux’s

Ready to get your Cajun food fix? Boudreaux’s in Daphne has a variety of Louisiana-inspired dishes along with a fabulous view of the Mobile Bay. Appetizers include blackened gator and the restaurant’s own Swamp Cakes which are fried boudin cakes topped with a crab and spinach cream sauce. Boudreaux’s lunch and entrée option cover the Cajun gamut of everything from crawfish etouffee, Po’Boys, oyster dishes and of course, beignets for dessert.

Mama’s on Dauphin

Pack your stretchy pants because you will need them after a visit to Mama’s on Dauphin. This downtown staple has all the Southern comfort food you know and love. Along with some dishes you’ve probably never heard of before. I’ll take two servings of the buffalo crawfish, please and thank you.

Bluegill

Home of the flamin’ oysters and fabulous views is the Bluegill restaurant. Take your pick of one of the local institution’s famous seafood dishes including fresh fish, gumbo, shrimp, and of course those fabulous flamin’ oysters. Bluegill also offers up a fried alligator plate (proving a terrifying animal is actually pretty delicious).

Sugar Kettle Café

Housed in a precious bungalow off of Highway 98 in Daphne (and conveniently located right behind Target…wink, wink) is the Sugar Kettle Café. Get your breakfast and lunch fix at this humble eatery with menu offerings such as biscuits and gravy (drool), country fried steak (double drool) and shrimp and grits (ok, now I need a napkin).

Feeling a bit parched after indulging in all of those Southern dishes? Quench your palette by visiting Peak Alkalinity in Fairhope for the best selection of alkaline water products.

Ok, so who’s hungry and more importantly, who’s paying? Visit any one of these fabulous local eateries for some satisfying Southern cooking (and don’t forget those stretchy pants).

Southern Drinks You Should Be Serving at Your Mardi Gras Party

When the Mardi Gras season rolls into town, so do an endless amount of parties and king cakes (So. Much. King Cake.). And just like any good host, you have to have an epic assortment of cocktails on hand for your partygoers. Give your guests something good to sip on at your next Mardi Gras party with any one of these festive drinks.

Hurricane – Serve your guests a Category 5 of a good time with this New Orleans original. With max sustained alcohol content at a boozy high, (ok, I’ll stop with the hurricane puns…for now) thanks to the mix of dark and white rum along with a splash of fruit juices this drink will surely be a hit.

Sazerac – This quintessential Big Easy beverage has a long history in the French Quarter. Bring it back over to Mobile Bay and your guests will love the mix of absinthe, whiskey and bitters.

Mint Julep – A classic Southern drink that is normally associated with horse races and ridiculously decorated hats, fits in just nicely at any Mardi Gras party. Just mix a little bit of bourbon, sugar, water, shaved ice, mint and you are off to the races.

Bushwacker – If a Frappuccino and Piña Colada got together and had a baby, that baby’s name would be Bushwacker. This drink is a Gulf Coast favorite and with good reason…it’s basically a glorified, alcohol-infused, adults only chocolate milkshake.

Bloody Mary – Whether you are waking up from a night of debauchery or just getting your party started, a Bloody Mary is a perfect excuse to day drink.

King Cake Martini – Who doesn’t love a good King Cake? If you don’t, then we can’t be friends. Kidding. Ok, maybe I’m not, but you can redeem yourself by serving King Cake martinis at your next party. This down South drink has the flavors of the seasonal pastry but without the need of a fork (unless, you are like someone, who will go unmentioned, who stuffs the whole thing in her mouth). Bonus points: you don’t have to worry about guests swallowing the baby.

Daiquiri – No ginormous slushy machine is needed for your own version of this Bourbon Street classic. A sturdy blender, rum and a blend of fruit juices come together for a guarantee “knock their socks off” cocktail.

Painkiller – Party guest with a headache? Pass on the pills and serve them this rum and pineapple concoction instead.

Before you get the party started, don’t forget to stop by Fountain of Youth in Spanish Fort. Their expert technicians can give you that Mardi Gras glow with one of their facials or mineral makeup services or perhaps an IV infusion.

Got those day after Mardi Gras feels? Load up on quality hydration by visiting Peak Alkalinity in Fairhope. With their refill station and the portable alkaline water dispenser, Hydro 2 Go, you can be properly hydrated for parade day.

Let the good times roll on at your next Mardi Gras bash with these classic cocktails. Just remember, you *may* be held responsible for any socks that are actually knocked off.

Valentine’s Day Ideas in Lower Alabama

Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday right behind Christmas? Yes, the holiday commonly associated with love is runner up to the birth of our Lord. You want to do something special but what can you do in Lower Alabama that doesn’t involve biscuits and mud riding? Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do down here to celebrate Valentine’s Day (note: may or may not involve biscuits).

The common things we associate with Valentine’s Day are decadent chocolate covered strawberries, a bottle of wine and….cheese? What? Just me? The Cheese Cottage gets it because they are offering an exclusive couples event Valentine’s Day evening. Select a bottle of wine and let the folks at The Cheese Cottage do the rest! Accompanying your wine will be a chocolate covered strawberries, a cheese board and other appetizing accouterments.  

The Mobile Big Band Society will hold its annual Dinner and Dance on Valentine’s Day night. Get down to the sounds of swing while enjoying dinner and drinks. But leave the Crocs at home because the clothing code is “dressy”.

Sure, you can go out to dinner at any basic restaurant, eat the same basic food and just be well, basic this Valentine’s Day (Yawn!). Or you can turn up the heat by visiting NoJa in downtown Mobile. Their romantically lit courtyard delivers the perfect, swoon-worthy ambiance. 

Take your special someone to the nuthouse this Valentine’s Days. Ok, what I mean is, visit Three George’s Candy Shop and Nuthouse on Dauphin Street. The shop has you covered in all things confection. 

Take a stroll along the Mobile Bay at dusk and let the sunset be the backdrop for that (non-annoying) couple’s selfie. Just watch out for the gators. Nothing ruins Valentine’s Day more than an impromptu visit to the ER because your leg got chewed off.

So your significant other isn’t whisking you away on some exotic cruise this Valentine’s Day (sad face). What he can do is take you aboard the Perdido Queen Dinner Cruise for a romantic ride along the coast, no effort required. The paddleboard boat takes cruisers along the Mobile Bay for some of the best sunset views. Don’t worry, they have you covered when it comes to food and booze with a self-serve buffet and a cash bar. 

Say “I Do” all over again at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. On Saturday, February 9, the eccentric eatery will hold its annual Tropical Re-Union Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony. There will be champagne, wedding cake, and flowers for the bride. Best of all, and probably your husband’s favorite part, it’s FREE!

Spend Valentine’s Day in grand style at The Grand Hotel  (see what I did there) in Point Clear. The property has many romance inspired amenities including couples massage, cozy fire pits and fine dining restaurants.

Well, I did warn you didn’t I? But who wouldn’t want this for Valentine’s Day? For Chick-fil-A, chicken is the new chocolate! That’s right, miniature scrumptious chicken and biscuits! What more could a gal ask for? Love where you live with the one who means the most to you this Valentine’s Day. Lower Alabama has you covered like chocolate on a strawb

Small Businesses Who Made An Impact In 2018

Mobile and Baldwin County are both home to several successful small businesses. Each contributed valuable time and resources to the people in their neighborhoods. Want to know who made difference in 2018? Check out these small businesses who made a big impact in their community. 

C2 Wealth Strategies

The members of C2 Wealth Strategies strive every day to ease the stress of financial planning and help people create wealth without feeling limited. The firm’s president, Wesley Coody is also instrumental in expanding the company’s outreach in the community. As treasurer of Augusta Evans School Foundation, Coody sought to raise money for a new playground tailored for children with special needs. The company also has a hand in the school’s teacher grant program which allows teachers to purchase much-needed technology for their classrooms.

Dog Days Bakery

More than just a bakery that offers yummy treats for the pups, Dog Days Bakery holds adoption events throughout the year for cats and dogs alike. The mom and pop shop also raises money for local rescues through bake sales and holiday parties.

Fairhope Hatch

Housed in the BBVA Compass building in downtown Fairhope, Hatch provides resources and services to tech-based small businesses and entrepreneurs in Baldwin County. This technology-centered incubator aims to help local startups get off the ground by supplying viable business resources.

JMF Solutions

Headquartered in Daphne, tech provider JMF Solutions makes its mark not only in local communities but globally as well. The employees are active in community-focused initiatives such as the Kiwanis Club and charity gumbo cookoffs. The company also provides discounted or free services to those in the community. Employees also are given paid time off to participate in mission trips. 

Gulf Supply Company

While Gulf Supply Company has the same capabilities as larger corporations, it is the company’s ability to adjust to each customer’s individual needs that sets it apart. Employees also find time to give back to the local community by assisting families in need and participating with local youth sports.

Port City Medical

Local healthcare supply company, Port City Medical does more than just sell health equipment; they reach out to those with health challenges every day. They visit patients directly to assist with medical equipment and provide guidance on the right products to use. Employees play an integral part in the community’s health by contributing to Mobile’s EMS breast cancer awareness initiatives. Representatives recently donated blood pressure cuffs to Victory Health Partners. 

Small businesses have proven that bigger isn’t always better. Communities thrive thanks to the monetary contributions, volunteers and donated items and services provided by these small businesses.

Where Can You Shop On A Budget In Mobile And Baldwin County?

Nothing like having champagne taste on a beer budget. You want to enjoy the finer things in life but your wallet says, “Girl, put down the shoes! You have got to pay the light bill this month or you won’t be able to see where you are going!” Luckily, we have many fabulous affordable shopping options here in Mobile and Baldwin County.

Olde South Antique Mall

Next time you find yourself in downtown Fairhope, head on over to Olde South Antique Mall. (It is hard to miss the vintage cool wagon sitting in front of it.) This antique shop is full of funky finds that will entertain not only your vintage-loving soul but also your modern chic style all at a not-so-hefy price!

Jubilee Gift Shop

From decor to jewelry, Jubilee Gift Shop has it. Whether you’re browsing or searching for a particular item, there is sure to be something for every budget. The wide selection of items leaves you the option to spend so little but leaves you wanting to buy it all!

Rave Reviews Consignment Boutique

Have you ever felt like you had to decide between buying groceries or that new designer purse? Well, finally, you’ll have enough money for both after visiting Rave Reviews Consignment Boutique in Mobile. This shop offers designer items such as purses, clothing and jewelry without the sticker shock.

Old Time Pottery

Refreshing your home’s décor doesn’t have to break the bank ($60 for a pillow? I’ll pass). With locations in Mobile and Baldwin County, Old Time Pottery is a decorating mecca of great finds at even better prices. Pillows for every piece of furniture in your home? You got it.

High Cotton Consignments

Give your home a designer makeover by stopping in High Cotton Consignments in Mobile. This shop is full of previously loved fabulous furniture finds. Your home will look like a million bucks but without the price tag.

ReStore Habitat for Humanity

Save money and do good by stopping by the ReStore Habitat for Humanity. Located in Mobile and Baldwin counties, these store have everything from furniture to home remodeling supplies.  Proceeds from purchases made in the store go towards the nonprofit’s mission to provide affordable housing for those in need.

Tanger Outlet

If you’ve ventured to Foley at any point of your life, you’ve definitely noticed the sprawling retail landscape that is Tanger Outlet. Even if you don’t need new kicks or a designer wallet, it’s hard to pass up on the deals at this shopper’s paradise.

2 Sisters Community Thrift Shop

The Two Sister Community Thrift Shop in Bay Minette is filled with unique treasures donated by the community and sold at low prices. Shoppers can find everything from antique furniture, glassware, accessories and name brand clothing.

Getting a little parched during your shopping trip? Stop by Peak Alkalinity for some premium hydration!

Don’t let the thought of high prices get in the way of your love of shopping. Shop and save money by visiting any of these stores. Your bank account will thank you later.

New Year’s Resolutions That Are In Every Southerner’s List

The South is a unique place, so why should our New Year’s resolutions be any different? Sure, we’re pretty fortunate to call the South home, but even down here there’s always room for improvement. Whether you want to learn how to grow tomatoes or lose a few pounds by Easter, these are resolutions you’ll find on a Southerner’s List.

  1. I will learn how to cook like Memaw. We all know that Memaw is the best at well, everything, so why not learn from her?
  2. I will not leave the Christmas decorations up past January. Quit trying to convince people your Christmas wreath passes as a Mardi Gras one.
  3. I will learn how to drive on icy roads. Let’s be real…I will learn how to drive in the rain.
  4. I will try to drink unsweet tea. Hahahaha! Nope.
  5. Ok, maybe drink less alcohol? Unless your team didn’t make the SEC playoffs…or any playoffs for that matter. If you do plan drowning your sorrows, spend a casual night in NoJa’s courtyard.
  6. Spend more time with family – especially Memaw.
  7. Try (or at least think about) losing weight. Ok, who are we kidding? This isn’t going to happen, especially since we live in the South where the food is deep fried and delicious.
  8. I will shop less. Unless you DO lose weight, then you can break this one. Or, if by March you haven’t lost an inch, shop anyway because new shoes have been proven to cure sadness.
  9. Learn to garden. Every respectable Southerner is good at growing something. Tomatoes, okra, flowers, the list could go on…
  10. I will learn how to fry chicken. Can’t keep passing off Danny’s Southern Chicken as my own much longer.
  11. I will not use “bless his/her heart” as a way to politely insult someone. Unless they are really that ignorant.
  12. I will find a good hair product to combat the humidity. No matter how you style it…poofy hair is not a good look.
  13. I will work more with the community. Trash pickup, help the homeless, educate a Northerner in all things southern with a movie marathon of Steel Magnolias and Gone with the Wind.
  14. I will purchase new glassware that isn’t shaped like a Mason jar…despite its versatility.  It’s a vase! It’s a drinking glass! It’s a vase…again!
  15. I will cut back on the monogramming everything…even though it’s every Southerner’s precious idea of being elusive.
  16. I will call my momma more. She gave birth to you…she deserves a phone call other than on Mother’s Day.
  17. I will learn how to tolerate the weather when it drops below 60 degrees. May require swapping flip-flops for actual shoes. **Shudders**

Just like a batch of Memaw’s biscuits, start your new year off fresh and hot out of the oven. And if you do screw up on any one of these…there’s always next year, right?

7 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Nothing like waiting till the last minute to start holiday shopping, am I right? Sure, it was nice watching Christmas movies in your jammies while everyone froze outside waiting on those Black Friday deals. But guess what, those people are DONE with their lists and you…well, you haven’t even started. That’s ok because you still have time to get some last minute gifts for everyone on your list.

Alcohol
Get on everyone’s nice list by gifting a nice bottle of wine, vodka, bourbon or whiskey (trust me, the list could go on). Pair the liquor of choice with bar accessories or glassware.

Food
Alcohol not the recipient’s fare? Then food, glorious food, always makes a good gift option. Visit local bakeries for freshly baked loaves of bread or cupcakes.

Coffee Items
Just about anyone who works has kids or breathes needs coffee in their life to function. Gifting local brews or even a new French press will give those java lovers the jolt they need.

Clothing
So what happens if the recipient is a recovering alcoholic, on a diet and hates coffee? Well, I have a pretty good feeling they wear clothes (at least here’s hoping). Clothes, hats, gloves or any other kind of warm weather attire can make a good gift. Because if they do enjoy being in the buff, then at least be a good friend and make sure they’re warm.

Gift Cards
Some people think gift cards are an impersonal gift. And you don’t need that negativity in your life because they probably give terrible gifts (monogrammed socks…just what I need said no one ever).
A gift card to NoJa makes the perfect present for anyone looking for a night out on the town. Gift card values start at $50 and can go up to $200 (for that really, REALLY special person).
Have a friend who talks endlessly about starting a health regime in the new year? Peak Alkalinity currently offers a monthly membership for those wanting to unwind and destress. The ionized water dealer also has several products for those on-the-go folks in your life.

Local Gifts
Here in Mobile and the Eastern Shore, we have some of the best artists in the country. Everything from jewelry, candles, and art can be found in many of these local shops. Urban Emporium offers a wide selection of gifts from local artisans.

Yourself
Ok, get your mind out of the gutter (unless this gift is for a certain someone then you can go ahead and leave it there). But seriously, why not give your time, your talents or just yourself to anyone who may be of need this holiday. Give a mom friend a night off from moving that damn elf and take her out for drinks, or treat that friend who goes the extra mile and you probably owe $20 bucks.
Take pride in your procrastination. They’ll never know that you spent zero time or effort picking out that perfect gift. What matters is that you remembered and thought of them this holiday season.