A little bit about Robin

I was born in raised in Alabama and am proud of my Southern roots. I love to write and share life experiences, thoughts, and crafty ideas about interesting things past and present. Welcome to my neck of the woods. Sit down and swing a while.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Night Brought Out My Best of Birmingham 2013

This year my New Years night was not planned.  I am not sure what I expected tonight. Michael and I both agreed to cook and stay home, maybe have a glass of wine and relax.  Sounded great last week when I was feeling the pressure to make plans.  We made Italian meal and had a glass of wine. It was really good and Michael worked really hard, then we started getting tired and the TV was not worth watching. Michael was watching football and browsing his on his tablet, me on FB browsing other people's family christmas shots and New Years Eve selfies. My cute sequin tops in my closet started whispering at me, "wear us before we rot, you are not getting any younger...." 

I was home and that was ok with me, but the adventurous dreamer side of me, always worked up moments like  the  New Years Eve scene in When Harry met Sally. She is wearing a pretty red velvet dress and they are dancing to Ole Lang Syne at a New York event.  That is the moment they figure out they are in love, and they are dancing in their own world.  People then were smiling and looking amazing during a time before our faces were in our cell phones, facebook, and twitter. The world was quiet and classy then, and the only distraction was the ball dropping in four different time zones.  I am happy with my year, but feel like I personally let New Years Eve down this year. I want to bring News Year Eve back, but do it the right way.  Classy Downton Abby Style, with gorgeous champaign bottles, sparklers, fur coats, velvet dresses, diamond earrings and tuxedos.  People running through the streets in love, shouting HAPPY NEW YEAR and kissing!!  

I should have been a little more proactive so I would not be pouting on my couch this year, which is nobodies fault but my own. But I am not sure if those parties exist anymore.  Or maybe we are getting to old for such childish gastby dreams.   So I decided to be find a positive and get something accomplished tonight that solidified my dancing resolutions.  I may be in my PJs drinking mimosas at 1am while my cat sleeps next to me, but dancing in my head....I am dressed in Channel black, smoking a clove cigarette, wavy hair, red nails, and  dangling earrings toasting all my friends family.  Have a happy and healthy New Year.  Here is my view of the Best of Birmingham 2013, raise your glass my friends....

Food and Drink
Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Saws Juke Joint
Affordable, good ole fashioned BBQ with a modern day Southern twist on the menu, bring the kids or go to the bar.  My favorite thing to order is the Fried Green Tomato BLT and the sweet potatoes fries.  Check it out.

Best Birmingham Staple
Chez Lulu
We did not make it to Bottega Café this year, which is usually number one on my list.  Chez Lulu never disappoints, and their Red Pepper Farsi is to die for. The Peasant Garlic Soup is perfect for a rainy day. If you are a Buffalo Rock fan, Chez Lulu serves it up.  I love when restaurants serve local products; they were one of the first to do this.

Best Bar to sit and gossip with a girlfriend
Chez Fon Fon
Want to hash out the weeks events with a signature drink in a  European atmosphere?  This is your place, but only on  a random night and at the very end of the bar where people can’t hear you.  You do not want everyone knowing your secrets!

Best Beer and Wine Selection
Neighborhood Hops and Vine.  Chandler Busby runs a smooth operation there in Crestline Park.  His recommendations are always dead on.  He has tastings on Wednesday and greets all customers with a smile.

Best Bar

41st Street Pub & Aircraft Sales

What a find in Avondale.  This is a great atmosphere to hang with friends, and order up a Dark and Stormy, one of their signature drinks served in a cute little copper cup.  To die for!  But don't lose the cup!  Their cups are 25 dollars a pop, and if you lose it... well... you are paying! There is a number on the bottom of the cup that they connect to your tab.  They are welcoming and warm, but take their copper ware seriously. 

Health and Recreation

Railroad Park 
Need I say more?  This park in unique, environmentally friendly and promotes a community atmosphere. Rail Road Park was there before the ball park and now even more convenient to all Birmingham has to offer as the Downtown area grows. 

Sporting Event
Birmingham Barons 
Thank you Birmingham, we all have a place to go in Birmingham proper where there is something for everyone.  The Barons stadium can be anything you want it to be and more.  First and foremost is beautiful place to watch baseball.  What a fabulous addition to the Magic City. 

Best Rec Center
Levite Jewish Community Center 
It is affordable, offers great classes and the salt water pool is clean for swimming laps.  That is all we need right now.  And, the Kosher Café makes the best grill cheese in town!  I can die now.

Alabama Ballet
Roger Van Fleteren never disappoints.  Alabama Ballet is one of the only Ballet Companys in the Nation to own the rights to George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.  Also, Alabama Ballet’s spring show, Ovation, never disappoints.  Here is a snippet about it from their website: Ovation, a mixed repertory performance, features one of the most celebrated excerpts in classical ballet, "The Kingdom of the Shades" from La Bayadere. Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, set to the iconic score from Aaron Copland, rounds out the program. Considered an early example of an American ballet, Rodeo combines the exuberance of a Broadway musical with the discipline of 
classical ballet technique. The company is excited to return to the Dorothy Jemison Day Theatre for Ovation.

Best Theater
Alabama Theater  
My husband and I went to a roaring 20's party party there this past year.  I felt like we went back in time for the night, it was enchanting. It is always fun to go there and watch old movies like Gone with the Wind or The Sound of Music

My Top Five Local Bands of 2013 (not of all time)
5. The Clay States
4. Acts of Congress
3. Lauren Michael Sellers
2. Dead Fingers, Check out this sweet video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7JpS0KKTQE
1.  St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Radio Station

Birmingham Mountain Radio 107.3
Driving and Cryin’, The Smiths and R.E.M, mixed in with mainstream like Florence and the Machine and Adele and Lorde, BOOM! Birmingham Mountain Radio is a little bit of everything but not too much of nothing.  I can't leave out Southbound Radio in this mix.  It is on live from 7-9 on Sunday nights. I sure do love the Djs too! 

Most Noteworthy Cause
Desert Island Supply Company aka D.I.S.C.O
A dear friend of ours and started this amazing organization that gives Birmingham students the chance to write and create in a way that they have never experienced before.   If you have a chance to stop by D.I.S.C.O and see the amazing things going on there, you will not be disappointed.

Not for Profit
Junior League Birmingham 
 I have wanted to write about the Junior League for some time now, so I will use this opportunity to share my thoughts in full. Sometimes I think the Junior League gets a bad wrap because of the stereotype that we have placed on the typical Junior Leaguer in Southern Soiciety.  I am here to tell you that has changed.

I remember in my youth woman, mostly white stay at home mothers, coming to my door when my mom had cancer-bringing casseroles with a wink and a smile. My dad once said half way joking, “If one more (insert-the-lords-name-in-vain-here) damn Junior Leaguer driving a Volvo Station Wagon walks up that driveway with a chicken casserole I might as well grow wings, fly, cluck or whatever right on out of here!"   My mom and I just looked at each other and laughed.  Then my dad laughed, then he started doing the cooking.  But we helped save the world eating those casseroles, one bite at a time.

I never thought I would join the Junior League.  I could see myself contributing my time to something at some point after I got married, but my life as taken different directions that I covet up until this point when time opened up for me to explore my volunteer options.  So here I am in my fifth year as an active for Birmingham’s Junior League, and it is not what I expected based on my childhood memory. I have said it before and I will say it again, I never leave that building without gaining something. Smart and willing woman of all ages, religions, and ethnicity's can find a place there to make a difference.  

The present day Junior League is not what you read about it books like The Help, or see in movies like Something to Talk About, with Julia Roberts (oldie but goodie by the way).   The volunteering skills women learn there are valuable to  our community in so many different facets it is hard to name them all.  Junior League has not turned into something I do just so I can say I did it.  It is something that has helped me grow in my community.  In the JLB you can be up front directing and planning the process, or you can be behind the scenes making the process work.  I love this organization that affords me the time and opportunity to find where my hands can help others and myself.

Best Thrift Store
Jimmy Hale Mission on Montclair Road 
If you compliment me on my outfit, chances are it came from here.  I have found some gems, like cashimere sweaters, nice linen swing dresses, and great art work. 

Best Boutique
Lulie’s on Cahaba  
Party Dress are here and gorgeous.  If I had a  fancy party to attend, this might be my first stop for ideas or a purchase.  Good prices on jewelry and staple items.

Best Consignment
Zoes in Forest Park
Vintage, Vintage , Vintage.  Enough said. 

Best Shoes
Pant Store in Crestline
They have all the fashion forward shoe brands, and if you catch them at their tent sale once a year, one can get some great staples for their wardrobe at great sale prices.  Also their side walk sales are the best in town.  So many cute tops and sweaters for great prices!

Best Hair Place
Tracadero in Mountain Brook Village, ask for Katie.

Best Department Store
Anything that is not Belk.  I miss Parisian.

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