Comfort Food of the South

Maya Angelou once said, “The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread and fried chicken,” and she wasn’t far off… Southern food comforts you like nothing else. There’s no better way to support a new mom or welcome a new neighbor than a giant southern casserole. Here’s a few of our favorite places for Southern comfort along the Gulf Coast.

NoJa

This Mediterrasian restaurant has some of the most unique dishes that will make your mouth water. Be sure to try the Maple Leaf Duck Breast or the Kansas City Strip! Both will make you fall in love with Noja and the unique experience they provide. The atmosphere, flavors and service will leave you in awe and will make you keep coming back for more. Noja is one of the longest running restaurants in Downtown Mobile and serves food with the freshest ingredients. Check out their website or their Facebook page to find out about their seasonal menus. 

Boudreaux’s

Boudreaux’s is a classic cajun restaurant located in Daphne, AL. While cajun food is very closely associated with New Orleans, now you only have to travel a short trip across Mobile Bay to satisfy your cajun cravings. They have bands playing all week long and a wonderful view of the water to enjoy as you have a Bourbon Street-inspired cocktail. Be sure to try their cheese fries, crawfish and beignets! With family ties from the Bayou and a passion for food done right, this is surely a place to go whenever you crave anything cajun.

Loda Bier Garten

At Loda Bier Garten, you can enjoy a night out on the town! They have two locations that offer a vast selection of beers which will pair perfectly with your burger and leave your mouth watering. Specialty burgers decorate the menu along with classic appetizers that you can not get enough of. They have TVs and a lively staff working open to close. One time my friends started dancing and the staff joined in! There is definitely no place like Loda!

Bozo’s

Bozo’s is a classic seafood restaurant in Pascagoula, MS, that has been around for generations. Bozo’s actually has a seafood market and a restaurant, which are conveniently located right next to each other! You can call and place your order at the market or just walk in. Live music is played outside on the patio for a great open air dining experience. They have a wide variety of seafood at both the market and the restaurant, so stop on by and enjoy everything Bozo’s has to offer!

Briquettes

Briquettes Steakhouse is one of the best steakhouses in the South. They are locally owned and operated, and deliver an amazing experience all around. They have many entrees that are so delicious that is hard to choose just one, but when you order a side I strongly recommend the sweet potato casserole as it is to die for! So next time you want really anything go to Briquettes as they have so much to offer. The South has many options for wonderful comfort food, especially here on the Gulf Coast. Each and every place has a special item that is exclusive to their restaurant, so try anything and everything! The more you try the more you’ll fall in love with every bite.

Holiday Madness – Tips to Staying Stress Free

It’s here. The season our children love, but we parents spend running around losing our minds for almost two months trying to ensure sheer perfection for our little ones. With a new baby in the house, life is already a bit more hectic than usual. To say it might make this holiday season a bit more of a challenge would be an understatement. But, I’ve come prepared for the holiday madness and am here to share my tips for staying stress free with all of you who may already be feeling the anxiety of the upcoming days!

Tips to Staying Stress Free this Holiday Season

First things first, make a list. You might think you don’t need to make a list and that you are able to remember everything you need to accomplish during the busiest time of the year! But you may be surprised how helpful it is to make a to-do list. From buying gifts, holiday parties and everything in-between, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Making a list (and checking it twice) will help you stay organized and stress free during this holiday season.

Say no to long lines and the stressful shopping times. Holiday shopping is great. I love seeing the stores decked in holiday decor, and hearing Christmas music on the radio. But the huge crowds on weekends and after work can make holiday shopping incredibly stressful. So, unless you just absolutely love the stressful shopping times, kick them to the curb. Long lines and overcrowded shopping areas are a surefire way to kick the stress levels up a few notches. Avoid the lines by running your errands early in the day or shopping online!

Know your limits. Unfortunately, there is only one of you and that remains during the holiday season. You can’t be everywhere at once. So, know that is is definitely okay to say no! If you can’t make it to a friends holiday party due to prior arrangements, send kind regards and they will definitely understand. There’s no point in stressing yourself out when you simply just can’t do everything!

Get Focused. Keep in mind the reason behind the season. Don’t spend all of your time stressing out about gifts and parties. Focus on spending time with your loved ones and making the most out of the holiday season together.So, when life hands you grapes this holiday season head to the mall and purchase a gift for yourself just not during rush hour!

What’s to Love about Fall?

Fall is slowly sweeping in as summer finally starts to wind down. Don’t fret! Even though beach days disappear, there is an abundance to love about fall in Mobile. All of these qualities make fall one of many people’s favorite seasons.

Take a Stroll around Mobile Memorial Gardens

Fall finally allows us to cool down from the hot weather that summer brings yet we’re not confronted with being too cold just yet. We can finally go outside to take walks and not suffer from heat exhaustion after the first five steps. Take this time to visit your loved ones and pay your respects to others as well. Mobile Memorial Gardens in a beautiful place to walk around as they offer a variety of beautiful gardens. They also host Flags of Glory event that honors America’s military service personnel in November.

Events Hosted by Bellingrath Gardens

Many events are hosted all over Mobile during the fall. Many people love getting out and being active while the weather is pleasant, and one of the best places to do so is at Bellingrath. Bellingrath is a beautiful place to walk around and even have a picnic with family or friends. Their events are held all throughout the year, but the ones held during the fall really seem to shine. They host yoga, paint parties, a Halloween party and the largest display of chrysanthemums blooming in the nation. So get out and enjoy these wonderful events!

Enjoy Great Dining at NoJa

Seasonal servings are offered at many restaurants in Mobile. NoJa is a very popular local restaurant in a gorgeous and comfortable setting during any season. NoJa is a great place to hold a meeting with a client or boss, to sit and chat with friends or family or to go out on a date night. You surely will not be disappointed with NoJa. Be sure to try their maple leaf duck breast and save room for dessert! This fall is definitely a great chance to experience Noja with its wonderful atmosphere and Mediterrasian menu.

The View at Boudreaux’s

The views on the shores of the Mobile Bay are stunning no matter the season, but they are definitely more enjoyable when it is not 100 degrees outside and you have a nice breeze. At Boudreaux’s, catch beautiful sunsets every evening from a beautiful outdoor deck/porch and enjoy some of their amazing cajun cuisine while sailboats traipse across the bay. They serve some of the most authentic cajun food around. I recommend the Crawfish Etouffee!

Pumpkin Spice Everything

Pumpkin Spice is known as the taste of fall. All throughout the season, every company is advertising pumpkin spice-flavored this or that. Starbucks, Serda’s and many other coffee shops make their signature lattes all season long, while donuts and cakes take on the flavor in local bakeries and pastry shops. If you aren’t a big fan of pumpkin, well then this season just is not for you or your taste buds, but there are of course many other things to enjoy, like the fall, harvest and Halloween themed cookies from Mobilians’ favorite local bakery, Pollman’s. There’s a ton to love about fall in Mobile. Don’t forget about Halloween or Thanksgiving!  Gather friends and family to go out and enjoy the season or do it yourself. Hopefully you will fall more in love with this beautiful season as we get closer to winter.

Only in the South…

To some, the South may seem like its own country. We have very different traditions and ways of doing things here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world: strangers speaking to you in the supermarket; (we’re just being polite, ya’ll.) children (and adults) replying with “Ma’am” and “Sir.” Here are a few things that sets the South apart.

Sweet Tea

If you’re not from the South, be careful when you order! We like our tea as sweet as can be. Sweet Tea is a southern staple. Pitchers always have at least one cup of sugar poured into them. In many places, sweet tea might just be labeled “regular”. Unsweet Tea is considered unholy and unnatural.

Mardi Gras

If you haven’t experienced Mardi Gras, you are missing out on one of the greatest southern traditions of all. While several cities in the USA celebrate Mardi Gras, Mobile, AL, and New Orleans, LA, are where the celebrations began and captured the attention of all revelers. Contrary to popular belief, the birthplace of Mardi Gras is actually Mobile. It started in 1703 – 14 years before New Orleans was even founded! It would travel over to New Orleans around 1722 and grow over the years into what it is today.

Food

Biscuits, cornbread, collard greens, grits, fried chicken, gumbo and more! Known in some places as “soul food” or “comfort food” these dishes will have you feeling fat and happy! Old family recipes are passed down from generation to generation, and almost everything has sugar, butter or bacon fat in it. We try to fry anything we can, including cheesecake, pickles and Twinkies. (try them, they’re awesome). And while food in the South may seem unusual, chances are you’ll love it!

Monograms

In the South, we will put a monogram on anything we can! From ball caps to jackets, clothing, towels and backpacks, we firmly believe in monograms. This southern tradition can be seen on people of all ages, from toddlers to adults. We want our initials on everything!

Phrases

Many phrases we use in the South are not common in other parts of the US. We have a different dialect and well of euphemisms to draw from that separates Southerners from the rest of the country. We say, “y’all” and other things like, “Bless your heart,” or, “Miss.” To us, these are just common formalities. We even create new words of our own like “tumped,” a combination of “turn” and “dumped” used to describe something falling over and spilling its contents everywhere. Accents vary, you could have a Savannah drawl, a Cajun mixture bubbling out like gumbo or even a panhandle hard on flat vowels and sharp consonants. The South is a linguist’s playground!

The South has many things that are exclusive to the area. These unique features of Southern culture can be a bit of a shock to those that move down here, but many get used to our customs and find themselves enjoying fitting in with the crowd. The South’s hospitality offers a warm welcome (a humid one, too) to all who wish to experience what this region has to offer!

Tips to Make Your July 4th Sparkle, Not Fizzle

The Fourth of July is considered by some to be the top dog of summer holidays. You have all of the makings for a good time rolled into one day (minus football). Food, drinking and fireworks are synonymous with the holiday, but the fun can quickly fizzle if you are not on your A-game. Make your July 4th dazzle like a roman candle by following these helpful tips!

Don’t Lose a Hand

Nothing ruins an Independence Day party like a firework accident. Use firework safety practices by having a designated (sober and adult) firework administrator and keeping items away from:

  • Small Children
  • Drunk Uncles (or any impaired person for that matter)
  • That cousin who *really* enjoys lighting matches

Other “handy” firework tips (see what I did there?)

  • Keep a bucket of water nearby, or preferably a hose with a spray nozzle
  • Don’t point a firework at anyone or any living thing or even objects. Fireworks are meant to be viewed from afar, not up-close-and-personal.
  • Make sure they’re legal. Fireworks made non-professionally are more likely to send you or your friends to the hospital. Purchase your holiday pyrotechnics from professionals.

Drink Responsibly. Not Ridiculously.

It’s pretty easy to get carried away with the Fourth of July festivities of fireworks and ice-cold beverages. It’s also easy for you to get carried away by the cops for overindulging and irresponsibly using fireworks. Most of the more powerful fireworks need a licensed professional to be present. Most municipal jurisdictions also do not allow fireworks to be used without a permit within city limits. It’s best to be as far away from the public as possible when shooting fireworks. Police units around the country are highly alert to any public disturbances during the biggest of summer holidays. Drive the speed limit, always have a designated driver and don’t drive on the beach!

Plan a Manageable Spread

You’ve spent months on Pinterest pinning away those super delicious recipes for your star-spangled celebration. But where do you start? The red, white and blue fruit kabobs? The sheet cake decorated like an American flag?? Keep calm, plan a simple spread and don’t freak out if your sandwiches for the kids aren’t star-shaped. Honestly, they only care if it’s not pimento cheese (which means more for you). You can make the meal fun by having a hot dog bar full of toppings such as chili, relish, onions and a smorgasbord of other condiments.

Plan an Escape Route

No, I’m not referring to the party your neighbor invited you to that quickly went downhill after she got into those appletinis. Think about that fireworks show you thought was a good idea at the time. What lasted about six minutes ends up feeling like six years when the whole crowd descends on the parking lot at the same time. All the excitement will quickly fade as you sit in the car waiting for someone, anyone, to let you out. Oh, and someone will HAVE to potty regardless of how many times you asked. My tip? Park furthest out from the show (and the crowd) and stay close to your vehicle so you can try to be the first ones to exit.

Remember, the Fourth of July is more than another summer holiday. It’s the one time of year we come together to throw a party for America with our closest friends and family. It is also a pretty good excuse to drink and blow things up (it’s what the forefathers would want, but responsibly!).

10 Things That Only Southerners Understand

The South is a unique place and not because we have warm winters and we prefer our vegetables fried. We pretty much have our own language and a somewhat odd way of doing things (Would you like some peanuts in your bottled Coke?). While our peculiar phrases and traditions may leave the rest of the country confused, only we understand why it’s perfectly normal.

Sweet Tea is King

Nothing is unholier than unsweet tea and chances are you’ll be damned into eternity if you drink it on a Sunday. Down here, we make it rain with delicious sugar in our glass pitchers.  

Humidity Always Wins

Nice blowout you got there…it’d be bad if something were to…ruin it. Yes, you can spend a good chunk of money on the best celebrity-endorsed hair product but humidity will always triumph.

Nothing Compares to Maw Maw’s Cooking

Maw Maw could teach many of these highfalutin, Michelin star eateries a thing or two. They probably don’t know about the magic of biscuits and gravy and that bananas are better covered in pudding and whipped cream.

The Less We Say the More We Mean

Phrases such as “bless your heart” actually mean, “boy, you are dumber than a bag of hammers. I sure you hope you don’t plan on procreating.” “Fixin’ to” doesn’t mean we’re actually going to fix something. It’s more of a phrase about what we’re planning to do in the next hour, week, month, 10 years…you get the picture. 

Manners Matter

Want to know how a wooden spoon feels to the back of the head? Just try not saying “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” the next time you’re at Maw Maw’s house.

It Will Always be Hot

Southerners know it’s perfectly normal to wear flip flops in December. Sweatin’ while hanging your stockings? Then call Daycool Heating and Air for the best in air conditioning maintenance and repair. 

Porch Sittin’

Southerners didn’t just invent porch sitting as a way of cooling off from the sweltering summers. No, we use it as a way to socialize, drink sweet tea and gossip…in a polite way, of course. Does your porch need sprucing up? Call the pros at  Professional Electric for an estimate on services such as outdoor lighting.

There Will Always be Mosquitos

Mosquitos are like that creepy second cousin we all have…except we can’t kill him. But in the South, we smack so many mosquitoes it almost sounds like an applause.

Fall Weekends are for Football 

Good luck with planning that fall wedding. While Paw Paw and Maw Maw really love you the most, your autumn nuptials doesn’t stand a chance. Free food and drunk groomsmen speeches don’t hold a candle to a Southerner’s favorite football team. 

Fried Food is a Food Group

Did you know that Southerners are magicians? We can take a perfectly healthy vegetable and instantly make it unhealthy…and probably more delicious. I mean, there is a reason why okra is MUCH better fried.

Sure, none of this makes any sense anywhere else but would you really want to live there? Nope, I didn’t think so.

5 Ways to Celebrate Dad This Father’s Day

Just as you’re recovering from the multiple mimosas you had on Mother’s Day…guess what, you’ve got another holiday on the horizon. Yep, dear ol’ dad has his own day coming up, but what do you get a guy who has a lifetime supply of ties, bottles on bottles of unused cologne and more hunting equipment than there is deer in the state of Alabama? Well, you get him out of that recliner and give him an experience he won’t forget!

Fishing Trip

It goes without saying that living on the Gulf Coast and fishing go hand-in-hand (or reel-in hand…see what I did there). Take dad on a deep sea fishing trip in Gulf Shores or cruise the waters of the Mobile Bay. You may not catch anything but your day will be filled with memories.

Pub Crawl

Cool down with your old man at some of Mobile’s hottest local pubs. The Port City has recently become a pub hub of sorts with the opening of new brew spots around town. Places such as Serda Brewing on Government Street, Haint Blue on Monroe Street, Iron Hand Brewing in Detonti Square and Fairhope Brewing Company all offer on-the-spot brewed beer. Loda Bier Garten has locations in West Mobile and on Dauphin Street with both offering over 100 beers on tap.

Hit the Links

Let dad continue his beer-filled adventure with a trip to the golf course (just make sure you drive the golf cart). He can practice being his inner Jack Nicklaus while practicing his backswing. If you want to be deemed “the favorite” treat him to a round at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove, a recently renovated course with 54 holes surrounded by beautiful landscaping.

Shopping

Ok, while it may sound like his worst nightmare, make this shopping trip all about him! Take him to his favorite hunting store, pro shop, home improvement place, sports store or anywhere that makes that giant heart of his pitter-patter. He’ll have the time of life looking at what HE wants to and it gives him a day off from holding your purse.

Do Something Nice

Ok, by nice I don’t mean clipping his toenails. What I’m saying is do something “nicer” than what he’s accustomed. Granted, you’ll have to use special forces to fight the resistance but in the end, he’ll love the change in routine. Start the day with a classic barbershop shave and hair trim. Next, treat him to a nice dinner at NoJa followed by drinks and cigars at a local cigar bar.

Dads are pretty special guys and that’s why they deserve the best. They’re our heroes, our protectors, Mr. Fix-It and, sometimes, he’s also Mr. Mom. But most importantly he’s the guy who has your back. And while he tries to play the tough guy, we all know daddies are nothing but pudgy, barbeque-scented, big softies and we love them.

7 reasons you should relocate to Mobile and Baldwin County

Have you ever driven across the Bayway and thought to yourself, “Man, I should have taken the Causeway today”?  Ok, we’ve ALL thought that but if you live out of state or in a neighboring county you’ve probably also thought, “Mobile and Baldwin County…what’s up with those places?” Are they really that fabulous and do they have enough to offer me? Yes, yes they are fabulous and heck yeah, they have everything you probably didn’t know you needed. Here are seven reasons why you should relocate to Mobile and Baldwin County (why 7 and not 10? Because momma doesn’t like a bragger).

Opportunity

Education and jobs opportunities both rank pretty high on the list for the reasons to move to either Mobile or Baldwin County. The Baldwin County School District ranks as one of the best in the state. The Coast Guard, Austal and Airbus employ people by thousands from across the country and around the world.

Entertainment Happenings

Don’t even look at me if you say you’re bored after spending a weekend in Mobile or Baldwin County. These places offer so much to do that your only struggle is trying to fit it all in! If someone isn’t hosting a festival then a business is holding a grand opening. Once that is finished, you know there will be a party and of course, everyone is invited.

The Glorious Food

Down here in Lower Alabama, we love food about as much as we love Jesus. If you’re going to serve biscuits then they better be good enough to share with the Lord. Food is love and you can taste it in dishes served by local eateries in Mobile and Baldwin County.  

Shopping

Raise your hand if you consider yourself a shopaholic. Mobile and Baldwin County have a little bit of everything for your favorite fashionista. The local boutiques and antique shops in Midtown and Downtown Mobile love catering to those who would rather spend the day shopping locally than clicking away online.

History

History buffs flock to Mobile and Baldwin County because of their deep roots in our country’s French, Spanish and Native American history. Fun fact: the town of Mobile is older (and smells better) than New Orleans. 

Mobile residents also love to humbly brag about being the birthplace of Mardi Gras. Sure, the city to the west has the most well-known and biggest Mardi Gras but we don’t have to show skin to get our beads.

Weather

If you already live in the South then you know it’s hotter than a furnace (and pretty much all year…except for 4 days in January). But that means it’s flip flop season pretty all year and I think anyone can get behind that idea.

Future

Think about it…would you want to stay in a stagnant situation or move to a place where the future’s so bright that you need to wear shades (because it’s also hot and sunny 360 days out of the year)? Both Mobile and Baldwin County are growing in leaps and bounds and you’ll need springboard just to catch up.

So come on down to Mobile and Baldwin County. No matter the reason you chose, we’ll be happy to have you over. 

Ways to Give Back This Spring

Down here in Lower Alabama we love to give. No matter the need we are there to hand out food, money and our time. Volunteering is a great way to help those in the community who need an extra helping hand. Give your time this spring to any one of these worthy causes.

Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House volunteers truly make a difference in the lives of families with children receiving care at the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital. Volunteers have a variety of opportunities to help including providing a meal to the families, assisting with in-house duties and volunteering in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room.

Mobile Baykeeper

Give your time while helping clean and keep the Mobile waterways beautiful by volunteering with the Mobile Baykeeper. This organization has events throughout the year and is in need of volunteers to help with community cleanups, fundraising and office work.  

Camp Rap-A-Hope

Every summer, Camp Rap-A-Hope provides a week full of outdoor summer activities for children diagnosed with cancer. Because no child battling the disease should miss out on the fun, volunteers are needed for a variety of activities planned. Counselors and lifeguards are needed for the first week of June. Volunteer opportunities are also available throughout the year as well.

Habitat of Humanity of Southwest Alabama

If you’re handy with a hammer (or not but it’s probably better if you at least know what one is), then volunteer your time with Habitat of Humanity of Southwest Alabama. This organization provides affordable and sustainable housing for people in the community. Organize your friends and coworkers for a day of homebuilding or help the staff at the organization’s ReStore shop.

Mobile SPCA

Volunteering with the Mobile SPCA is more than just playing with all the adorable puppies and kitties that are available for adoption. There is a lot of help needed to care for the animals but it’s rewarding and fun. Volunteers can help with the organization’s bake sale, adoption clinics, kennel cleaning, office work and fundraising.

Feeding the Gulf Coast

Feeding the Gulf Coast has several ways for you to get involved with the organization. There is always a need for warehouse and office help as well as community food drives.

Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama

Make a difference in a child’s life by offering your time at the Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama. There are many ways to help out including tutoring, chaperoning field trips, assisting the front desk and you can even coach a sports team!

Waterfront Mission

Use your skills and abilities to help the homeless at the Waterfront Mission. This organization makes a huge impact in our community by providing food, clothing and encouragement for the those who have fallen on hard times. Volunteers are welcomed to organize canned food and essential items for the nonprofit.

Give your time while helping others and you’ll see the ripple effect on your community. You will not only help those in need but you inspire others to do the same.

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.