Thursday, March 31, 2016

Two Sisters Taking a Bite Out of Birmingham

One of the best things about being in Birmingham is that I'm closer to my sister and we get to do fun sisterly things together. We loved traveling together way back in 2012 for the London Olympics games, which was my very first blog ever, 2 Sisters Across the Pond in which I have vivid memories of blogging at 2 am so our friends and family could hear about our day's journeys while overseas.

So fast forward 4 years later and here we are living in the same city and getting to do fun things like hike, movies, sleepovers, etc. and then it occurred to us--we love a good brunch, and we love our treats, and we were beginning to keep a constant text message conversation of restaurants we needed to go try together, and so was the start of what is now a monthly Foodie Tour around the Magic City! We followed enough Instagramers around the city and read enough blogs to have a good list of places to try.

So back on a cold Saturday in February, having trained/saved calories all week, we started our full day of eating around Birmingham!

We met at 8 am at Church Street Coffee for the infamous Break Up Cookie! My coworkers had been raving about this dreamy cookie topped with sea salt! It was so yummy! And so was the coffee & tea too!

Next, not at all hungry, we stopped in Continental Bakery for pastries for later, including a King Cake Bread Pudding in honor of Mardi Gras, that was so sinfully good...the next day when I got hungry for it.

So in between eating, it's important to hydrate and exercise, so we took it out on the Vulcan Trail and then over to Railroad Park, and then Avondale Park. By this time, we had put so many steps in, we were working up an appetite again.

Our next stop was Wasabi Juan's in Avondale for the sushi burritos. The place is bright and cheery inside, there is even scripture on the wall and a prayer box--how cool is that?! The sushi burrito was pretty much amazing, too!

We were not even hungry but forced ourselves to go to Olexa's in Mountain Brook. The warm vanilla cake with the butter cream frosting was our mission. We split a piece to go and couldn't even finish it! I'm still dreaming about this cake.

Needless to say, after a full day of that, we didn't each much else for the rest of the day, but one thing was certain, we still had a list full of other places to try....hence the March Madness Edition of the Foodie Tour:

Our first stop on this rainy March Saturday was Holler and Dash, opened by Cracker Barrel, and the first restaurant in the U.S. right in downtown Homewood, specializing in gourmet biscuits.

This was a crowded spot, as we were there the first Saturday of opening week. Going in, you order in line, grab a number, look for an empty table, in which there was none. Three strikes for this place, which is rare on our food tours:
1) Long wait time, standing awkwardly waiting for someone to get up and then it's a mad 'dash' to get to the table before the next person
2) Out of grits! I had my heart set on not a biscuit, but a grit bowl, in which they were out of and
3) Coffee, while so yummy, isn't free on refills! Didn't want to get back in the long line and pay $2.50 for a refill. Which is also kind of pricey place--my HamaBama biscuit and coffee was $12.50. Yikes! Cracker Barrel gives you a lot for $12.50 and endless coffee refills. It's a hipster place for sure--kale is on every biscuit!

We enjoyed shopping in downtown Homewood--so many cute boutiques and furniture shops.
We met some friends who joined the lunch portion of the tour--my coworker Meaghan and friend Tamara! We met at Dos Hermanos taco truck, located at 211 Green Valley Road at the Texaco station parking lot. It's authentic and has been making all the news on Birmingham's best food trucks. We had to try!
I was feeling adventurous and decided to try the cow tongue taco and then a chicken one. Both were sooooo very good! Try the tongue...the cow intestine and cow brain tacos are at your own risk...
My coworker Meaghan had heard great things about Lichitas Paleteria Y Neveria, a Mexican ice cream and popsicles place nearby the Dos Hermanos taco truck. They will also be in the new Pizitz Food Hall, opening in downtown later this summer, so we knew it had to be good.

I got the dulce de leche and pistachio. Soooo amazing. We pretty much inhaled our ice cream, explaining why there is no picture...but trust us, it was muy deliciouso!

After a brief break, we were back at it--this time at Avondale, a bustling area right now for new restaurants. Hotbox is located at the Parkside Bar, and is a hidden gem! Enter the bar and then at the back exit on the patio, you see the fenced area with the air stream trailer that is Hotbox, a trendy food concept with a new menu out every week or so. We opted for potsickers and a shrimp salad. Both were so good! We loved the atmosphere and the cool vibes.

Not exactly hungry, but trying to stick with our food tour plan, we headed over to BYOB Rocks, but were a little turned off by the dark/blacklight/tattoo parlor look to the restaurant. Deciding we were already too full for anything else, we decided to call it a night.

And April's Foodie Tour is already in the works! Be sure to comment with any suggestions for places in and around Birmingham that are your favs...AND FEEL FREE To JOIN IN!

Living Out the Plans

It's on fun adventures like this that helps me feel so at home in Birmingham. I still pinch myself sometimes to think about the quick move back in September and job change. But it's part of God's plan and He is teaching and growing me each day. I'm grateful for his blessings in who He places, my new church family at Church Unlimited, my career, and the adventures in my life at this time and rejoice in what I'm experiencing in the Magic City.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Back to Blogging--Boaz to Birmingham

So somehow 5 whole months have passed and I'm just now finding the time to write a few lines, and needless to say, a lot has happened! The biggest issue was the fact I needed a new laptop and when life changes happen, let's face it, some things just have to wait. Happy to have a new laptop to blog and write now. To catch up on things, I'll do a quick recap:
In September, I left my job of 5 1/2 years at the MCCVB and moved to Birmingham.
I took my already planned trip to New England at the end of September (blog to follow soon).
And on October 1st, I began working at Brownell Travel as the Senior Administrative Coordinator for Troy Haas, President & CEO at Brownell.
Big Al is the keeper of my business cards--ROLL TIDE!
The new place is coming together, complete with lots of crimson and gray!
One of my fav pics from our company meeting back in November in ATL. Sweet girls!!
I'm really enjoying this new chapter in my life! Birmingham is a great city--full of great restaurants, hiking trails, and unique places to explore. One of my favorite finds--within walking distance to my apartment and job---Trader Joe's!
I'm loving my job and learning so much. It's different going from an office of three to an office of 50, and I'm happy to still be in the travel industry. What better place to be than at the oldest travel agency in the country?! Brownell Travel began in 1887 in Birmingham and is one of the most highly known and respected travel agencies in the country for luxury and incentive travel.
I've also gotten plugged in at a local church, Church Unlimited, which is a fairly new church, but the Lord is blessing it and I've met so many great people there!
The longest hike ever in January--but still fun with Lauren and my new friend Heather!
New friends & connecting with old friends, as well as being closer with my sister since we both live here now has been some of the most rewarding things about the move. It's also made the transition easier. The first few months were hard, as I did get homesick, but thanks to friends, family, coworkers, all is well.
My sister Lauren and my new friend at church, Melinda, and I at the UA vs. AU meet in Bham back in January! Roll Tide!

Me & Mr. Austin Luke at a party a few weeks ago. He cleans up so nice!
Living Out the Plans:
The Lord has had his hand on this move. Has it been hard to do? Yes. Have I questioned why sometimes? Absolutely. I had begun to get restless over the past few years, having moved back from college, and settled into my first big girl job for some time. I loved being involved and really enjoyed my job. I was surrounded by all my family, friends, church, and all the comforts of home. It made it hard to leave, but at the same time, I knew it was something I had to do. God calls us to get out of our comfort zones, but all with our best interest in mind. It might be hard to know at the time, going into something new rather blindly, however, that's when our faith shows it's strength. When you feel God calling you to somewhere and then it all is lining up, you can rest assured, He's going to take care of you. This move has really made me realize why God gave me the name for my blog, Living Out the Plans. He knows my imperfections and loves me just the same, and in His Word, He gives us such promise of hope and a bright future in every step of life.
Being surrounded by a gracious, professional, and highly respected and motivated group of coworkers and boss, as well as having a spirit filled church, great friends, family, etc. it's evident this was all for a reason. Sure, there are days when I miss my parents, dogs, family and friends, my former coworkers and organizations I was a part of like crazy. But I know God has me here to teach and grow me spiritually, professionally, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Coach Saban says be where your feet are planted, which has had great meaning for me the last few months. God's Word says in Psalms 17:6 "My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped." Trusting in God's plan for us is a submissive act of obedience and surrender. It's not always easy, but something the Lord always rewards us for, which we can see sometimes sooner rather than later. I'm happy and enjoying where I am, the people I'm surrounded by, and living out on my own. Reflecting on good memories