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.

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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.

Top 5 Holiday Events in the South

Down here in Lower Alabama we may never have a white Christmas but we still manage to have a good time. During the holidays we turn the celebrating volume up to an 11 with our parades, festivals and holiday displays. Check out these top five holiday events in the South.

Magic Christmas in Lights
If you’ve lived in Mobile for more than minute, then you are familiar with the famous Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The sprawling estate has holiday events through the year but the property really comes alive with the annual Magic Christmas in Lights. Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the garden’s display of over 3 million lights with 1,100 set pieces and 15 scenes. The Bellingrath Home will have on its Christmas best with holiday décor and dozens of poinsettias.

33rd Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade
If you want to go coastal for the holiday season then head down to Gulf Shores for the 33rd Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. It is one of the largest boat parades in the Southeast with over 45 vessels decorated in colorful lights. The parade begins at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina and travels down to the Flora-Bama with viewing sites along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Christmas Nights of Lights
Enjoy the beauty of millions of Christmas lights from the comfort of your car at Christmas Nights of Lights. Located near the Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, this drive-thru lighted Christmas display has over 1 million LED lights synchronized to both traditional and rock-themed holiday music. The display opens in November and runs through January 1.

Merry Market Unique Gifts and Arts and Crafts Expo
Produced by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and city of Orange Beach, the Merry Market Unique Gifts and Arts and Crafts Expo grows every year. This year, over 70 vendors will be in attendance with everything from arts and crafts, jewelry, clothes and food. There will be door prizes and story time with Mrs. Claus. The event will be held at the Orange Beach Events Center located at The Wharf. Also happening at The Wharf is a wide selection of holiday activities including carriage rides, an ice skating rink, photos with Santa and the Jingle Jubilee Kids Craft Day on December 8.

Holiday Market & Christmas Kids Day
Visit Bienville and Cathedral Squares for a fun filled day of holiday activities and shopping on December 8. Cathedral Square will be home to over 50 local makers and vendors. Families can ride the free Christmas train to Bienville Square for the Christmas Kids Day event. There will be many holiday-themed activities for kids of all ages such a face painting, a petting zoo and story time. Be sure to stop and take a selfie with Santa!

So just because it’s nearly 80 degrees outside that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little holiday fun in Lower Alabama. From parades to craft shows, it can all be found along the Gulf Coast this Christmas season.

How To Survive Black Friday in Lower Alabama

Remember how you used to spend the day after Thanksgiving? Relaxing on your couch in your pajamas, watching reruns and munching on leftover pecan pie. Now, we wake up ridiculously early, grab our pumpkin lattes and camp out in the freezing cold at the big box stores. But why do we put ourselves through this? Is it to only save $10 on a $600 big-screen television? You bet your Butterball turkey it is. If you want to survive Black Friday in Lower Alabama, you’re going to need some help and that is where I come in…

Do Your Homework
One of the many benefits of living in Lower Alabama is that we have a great selection of shopping destinations. The shopping choices are endless down here from our dozens of local shops to the malls and boutiques. And boy, do these stores make it rain when it comes to Black Friday deals. Before you head out in the November cold (that will turn into the November heat by the end of the day), it’s important to study those sale ads like they’re a midterm exam.

Plan an Itinerary
Imagine yourself as your shopping team’s cruise director for the day. Collect all the sales ads and coupons and get together an itinerary. Plan everything from the time you start, which stores to hit up, where to eat and where the best restrooms are located (the last is probably the most important). You don’t want to look like a deer in headlights when you enter the stores (because your fellow shoppers can smell fear).

Assemble Your Crew
Assemble your best gang of gals as a Black Friday Special Ops team whose main duty to secure those deals. Sisters, cousins, old BFF’s all make the perfect shopping squad. And don’t underestimate Me-Maw. She’s probably more prepared than you with her wallet packed with coupons and her trusty coffee tumbler. Don’t hesitate to invite a guy or two (i.e., husband, Paw – Paw). They’ll come in handy as the designated “purse holder” as you delve deep into the crowds.

Stay in Your Lane
Not only will the stores be packed but so will the roads. And since hardly anyone practices traffic etiquette 99% of the time, Black Friday is no exception. Remember to pack some snacks and your patience because you’ll need both as you sit in Black Friday traffic for hours on end.

Hydrate
If you got an early start on your Black Friday shopping, then chances are you are on your eighth cup of coffee. And it’s not even 9:00 AM. Remember to stay hydrated by filling up your portable alkaline water container from Peak Alkalinity. You’ll stay refreshed and hydrated allowing you to continue on your shopping journey.
Black Friday in Lower Alabama is nothing to be afraid of if you come prepared. Just imagine yourself at the end of the day… in front of that 65-inch television, you saved $10 on while you devour the last piece of pecan pie.

Mosquitos-Really?

Y’all, can we talk the mosquitos for a second? Yes, we are in full-fledged holiday mode and we still have to deal with these annoying, little leeches. But why? Don’t they know the lightning bugs have packed up and gone home for the year? Everything else in the animal kingdom has started to hibernate so why aren’t they? I got two words for you: The South.

While the Seasons Change, Everything Stays the Same
We should all know by now that just because summer is over in the South, nothing changes. It’s still pretty toasty outside, we’re applying sunscreen by the gallons and we always wear our flip flops. This also means our BFFs, the mosquitoes, are still swarming. Mosquitoes prefer warm climates (yay, us!) and love to set up shop in open bodies of water. This means our lakes, ponds and unused kiddie pools (that was $15.00 well spent…insert eyeroll) are susceptible to being taken over by scourges of mosquitoes. The only way to beat these little guys at their own game is to use environmentally friendly mosquito dunks and to empty those unused plastic wading pools.

If you’ve had all you can take from mosquitoes, give the guys at Safety First Pest Control a call. They have tools you need to rid your home of these swarming suckers once and for all. They can also treat your home for any other annoying pests you may have.

There is an Ecological Benefit for Mosquitos
Ok, despite the fact they leave itchy, annoying little bumps on the skin that irritate the dickens out of you, these little pests are beneficial to our ecosystem. Of course, this is no benefit to them (that’s payback you tiny aeronautical bloodsuckers). These guys are a vital food source for fish and other insects. A mosquito’s larvae are aquatic meaning it thrives in the water and basically becomes a buffet of sorts for fish. And not only do fish find mosquitoes tasty, so do birds, spiders and other insects. Without these flying feeders as a food source, the numbers of species dependent on them would begin to decline. And I don’t want to live in a world without beautiful birds and fried fish (but spiders, I can do without you).

The End is NearHere is something you probably didn’t know: mosquitoes are cold-blooded. Once the temps hit 50 degrees, they close up shop and hibernate until the temperatures rise again. So judging by our recent weather, we should see some reprieve from mosquitoes in January, perhaps?

While the mosquitoes have taken over nearly every inch of your backyard, I’ll bet you one place they have yet to show up….the beautiful courtyard at NoJa. Enjoy a meal and a glass of wine in the company of good friends without worrying about being bitten from head to toe.

Don’t worry, soon enough it will begin to feel less like the Fourth of July and you will finally get some reprieve from mosquitoes. Until then, pass the bug spray.

Beach in the Fall

It is the most wonderful time of the year! No, not that time. Not yet anyway (despite what you may see in the stores). For us down here on the Gulf Coast we have a little secret we’ve been keeping to ourselves. The beach in the fall is pretty magical. Sure, the idea of salt water and pumpkin lattes may seem like an odd mix, but they go together like gumbo and hot sauce (sort of).

Fewer Crowds
There is a reason why the entire country seems to find their way to the Gulf Coast every summer. The sand, the surf and the food are just some of the reasons but I really like to believe it is the hospitality. I mean, it is pretty nice of us to share this slice of heaven with the rest of the world. So, we let them enjoy it for a few months out of the year. But, after Labor Day the beach becomes ours again. We have full access to all of our favorite hot spots and we can stretch out on our towels without rubbing elbows with our beach neighbors.

No Lines, No Problem
Thinking about taking a break from the beach to visit activities on land? While the water parks may have closed for the season, we get to do all the fun stuff customarily occupied by the tourists. No more lines for miniature golf and the kids have a full range of the arcades. But best of all, no more ridiculously long wait times at the restaurants. I’m sorry, but if I have to wait over an hour for a shrimp po’boy, I will buy a net and get the shrimp out of the Gulf of Mexico myself.

The Weather is Beautiful
Ok, the hurricane season does begin to wind down during the fall so there is a chance it could be frightful. Until then, we’re enjoying the breezes, the reduced humidity and near perfect water temperatures.

The Festivals
If we ever see any nonlocals in the fall, it’s probably because they are here for some of our awesome festivals. Just name any seafood and chances are we have a festival for it. We celebrate everything from crawfish, shrimp and oysters with plenty of activities and music to match. Head down to the Foo Foo Festival in Pensacola for a 12-day celebration of culture, food and fun.

And don’t forget to hydrate when you visit one of the many festivals. The fall season means nothing to the beach because it is still 80 degrees outside. If you want to break away from your usual beverage choices, then stop by Peak Alkalinity in Fairhope. Purchase one their portable H2O To Go bottles so you can enjoy alkaline water anytime and anywhere.

The fall season usually conjures up the thought of pumpkins and fall colors dancing in your head. And sure, it’s hard to get a store-bought scarecrow to stay up in the sand but one thing you can count on is how amazing the beach is during the fall.