The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 months ago

OWA reveals plans for new waterpark coming in 2022

OWA Indoor Waterpark (visitOWA.com)

OWA, the amusement park and entertainment destination in Foley, Alabama, has announced plans for a new waterpark coming in 2022. And the best part? It’s largely indoors, so it can be enjoyed all year long.

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OWA Indoor Waterpark (visitOWA.com)

 

Plans include a dozen waterslides inside, spiraling around in each other in different levels of thrills. The indoor portion also includes a lazy river and a wading pool. So whether your preference is for thrilling or chilling, you have options. Let the kids play while you relax—with a tropical drink in hand—in one of the many colorful Adirondack chairs surrounding the pool. There are even plans for a TV, so you never have to miss the big game.

Outdoor waterpark (visitOWA.com)

The water park will have a 65,000-square-foot retractable roof and a retractable wall that opens to the outside part of the waterpark to allow guests to go from indoors to outdoors easily. Outside, you’ll find another large wading pool, chairs and umbrellas, a FlowRider surf machine, a large projector screen, and an entertainment stage.

Located near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, OWA is a popular summer destination for families visiting the Gulf coast beaches. Now, they’ll be able to enjoy even more amenities year-round. Find more information here.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

3 months ago

Kick off turkey season with the help of Alabama-made turkey calls

(WoodHaven/Contributed)

Talking turkey is a finely honed skill of Mike Pentecost, the founder and owner of Woodhaven Custom Calls. This Alabama native has been hand-making turkey calls for 21 years—and his are known for being the best of the best when matching wits with the elusive bird.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods. I became fascinated—you could say obsessed—with the vocabulary and habits of turkeys. I started dabbling into making turkey calls as a hobby,” Pentecost says. “It all started with a broken call that I tried to fix. I thought it sounded better after I repaired it.”

His hobby kept growing, and today his company Woodhaven is making a national name for itself with high quality handmade calls made from walnut, cherry, purpleheart, and yellowheart wood. It’s been a long journey for Pentecost, from making calls in the family basement to a large barn to his current facility—a former sewing plant in in his hometown of Heflin, Alabama, located in the northeast part of the state.

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Business is booming for Woodhaven with the dealer and distributor base growing significantly this year. You can find Woodhaven calls sold in outdoor and sporting goods big box retailers across the nation.

“We work all year long to meet the demand during [turkey] season. We have earned respect in the turkey world,” Pentecost says. “You get out of it what you put into it. I enjoy making good calls [and] being the best there is.”

Spring turkey season has officially begun in most counties in Alabama, running from March 20 through May 2. The sport has grown in popularity with an almost 50 percent increase in the number of unique hunter IDs in 2020.

Pentecost has seen this popularity manifest itself in more sales of his calls as well as more interest in being his hunting companion. Pentecost jokes, “Everyone wants to be my buddy this time of year.”

Turkey hunting isn’t for everyone though. A typical hunt begins in the pre-dawn hours with the hunter crouching in a field patiently waiting for sounds of a turkey that he may never glimpse.

“There is no ‘so-so’ in turkey hunting. You either love it or hate it,” Pentecost says. “I love the challenge of it—matching wits with the turkey. I liken the sport to a gentlemen’s chess game. My turkey calls level the playing field.”

Woodhaven produces three types of handmade turkey calls—Box Calls, Friction Calls and Mouth Calls—all designed to imitate different sounds to attract and flush out turkeys. Making effective calls is an artful skill that Pentecost works to perfect everyday even after 21 years.

“When I was younger, I didn’t know this was what I would end up doing. My hobby kept growing,” he says. “I learn every day and that’s what I love the most. It’s been 21 years and I still work on perfecting my calls.”

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

4 months ago

What to do on a visit to Montgomery, Alabama

(The National Memorial for Peace and Justice/Facebook)

Montgomery, Alabama, is packed with history, landmarks, and some good food to boot. The opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2018 has since drawn visitors from across the country (and around the world) to Montgomery. If you haven’t yet been to the memorial and its neighboring museum, consider planning a day in Alabama’s capital city using our suggested itinerary.

Here’s what to do on a visit to Montgomery:

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9 a.m.: Grab coffee at Prevail Union

Montgomery’s coolest coffee shop serves up fresh-roasted, sustainably sourced coffee. Try it in classic coffee drinks like an Americana or signature flavored options like the HVR (honey, vanilla, raspberry) and Alabama Stinger. Add on a pimento cheese biscuit to fuel you for the day ahead.

10 a.m.: Visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum

There had never been a national memorial acknowledging victims of racial terror lynchings until this six-acre site — funded by the Equal Justice Initiative — opened in 2018. More than 4,400 African American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950. This sobering memorial is dedicated to them. After the memorial, visit the Legacy Museum, located on the site of a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery. The museum uses interactive media, sculpture, videography and exhibits to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade, racial terrorism, the Jim Crow South, and the world’s largest prison system.

1 p.m.: Lunch at Martin’s

Get your fill of soul food at this long-time favorite meat-and-three. Daily menus are posted on the restaurant’s website, but you’ll notice one item is always on there: Martin’s famous fried chicken. Pair it with sides like homemade dressing, squash casserole, and turnip greens.

2 p.m.: Spend the afternoon sightseeing historic landmarks

Hop in the car and do a highlights tour of some of Montgomery’s most historic landmarks. Here are the ones you shouldn’t miss: Dexter Parsonage Museum, the home of Dr. Martin Luther King from 1954-1960. The Civil Rights Memorial, across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center, commemorating those who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement. Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. King served as pastor and held many civil rights meetings. The Hank Williams Memorial at Oakwood Annex Cemetery, where Hank and his wife, mother, and sister are buried. Make sure you drive by the Governor’s Mansion and give Governor Ivey a wave!

5 p.m.: Stroll the Riverwalk

Take a sunset stroll along Montgomery’s riverfront. The paved Riverwalk path gives you views of the Gun Island Chute of the Alabama River, as well as the downtown skyline. Take note of the historic Union Station and the old train shed that now plays host to events. The path ends at Riverfront Park, where you’ll find an amphitheater and a riverboat. The Montgomery Biscuits baseball stadium is just across the street.

6 p.m.: Dinner at Central

Central consistently ranks as the best restaurant in Montgomery, offering upscale food in a casual atmosphere. Executive chef Jason McGarry uses regionally sourced ingredients to craft Southern-inspired, inventive dishes. The menu changes seasonally and with availability, but look for dishes like a Deviled Crab Cigar, Oyster Sliders, Aged Cheddar Pimento Cheese, and Alabama Gulf Crab Fried Rice.

(Additional Montgomery activities include visiting the State Capitol, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and the Rosa Parks museum. However, all are currently closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please refer to their websites before planning a visit.)

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

4 months ago

5 foods you must try from Buc-ee’s in Leeds

(Julia Sayers Gokhale/YHN)

Buc-ee’s in Leeds is now open, which means it’s time to make a visit to this Texas-sized travel center. Originally opened in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1982, Buc-ee’s has since expanded to include locations throughout Texas, Georgia, and two in Alabama (the other is in Robertsdale). In addition to being a convenient roadside stop due to its excessive number of gas pumps (more than 100 at the Leeds location) and notoriously clean bathrooms, Buc-ee’s is known for its food and snack offerings. Here are five foods you absolutely must try on a visit to Buc-ee’s.

Beaver Nuggets

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buc-ee's beaver nuggets
These sweet corn snacks are the most famous of all Buc-ee’s snacks. Covered in a sweet-salty caramel-like coating, these crunchy little corn puffs are especially addicting. Try the classic on your first visit, and then venture into some other flavor variations, including sea salt caramel, white cheddar, and sweet & spicy.

Brisket


If you thought you’d never see freshly smoked brisket being sliced in the middle of a gas station, think again. Like a well-oiled machine, Buc-ee’s employees slice, chop, and assemble brisket sandwiches from a centerpiece counter called the Texas Roundup station. Grab a sandwich of sliced or chopped brisket with or without pickles and onions. It’s smoky, tender, and tangy-sweet from the signature sauce. Grab a side of fresh-fried Beaver Chips to go with your sandwich. 

Jerky

buc-ee's jerky
Buc-ee’s is known for its jerky, which comes in multiple types and flavors. It’s as juicy as jerky can be and just the right amount of chewy. Popular flavors include garlic, teriyaki, and mesquite.

Glazed Nuts

buc-ee's glazed nuts
Warm, sugar-coated nuts add to the fragrant smells of Buc-ee’s and make a great on-the-road snack. Grab a paper cone from under a warmer in options like cinnamon glazed almonds, cashews, and pecans.

Sizzlin’ Saltines

buc-ee's crackers
Like the classic southern snack, these party crackers kick things up a notch. The crisp saltine crackers are tossed in a tongue-burning spice mix that’s truly addictive. Spice lovers, stock up on these!

These aren’t the only snacks you’ll find in Buc-ee’s (the fudge also is a fan favorite), so when it comes to exploring it on your own, you’ll find that everything is bigger in (and from) Texas!

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

5 months ago

How a Huntsville family grew a compost company into a national tea retailer

(Piper & Leaf/Contributed)

It all started with compost. When Connor Knapp decided to give up a job in Antarctica to move home to Huntsville, he launched a business with his family to sell compost at the farmers market. Since Connor’s brother-in-law Caleb had been mixing teas made from ingredients in his garden and Connor had always wanted to sell something out of a Mason jar, they also decided to sell a few special tea blends. From the very first farmers market, it was clear what the true product would be: freshly mixed tea, drunk sweetened and ice cold from a Mason jar. And thus, what would eventually become Piper & Leaf was born.

“Selling compost started as a family project and hobby to create community,” Knapp says. “Long story short, we never sold any dirt while we kept selling out of tea. Our motivation has always been to bring the community together.”

Piper & Leaf started out small, selling at farmers markets in Huntsville and then eventually Birmingham. At each market, lines and lines of people showed up to get a 32-ounce Mason jar of one of Piper & Leaf’s weekly ready-to-drink flavors. As the company grew, regular customers showed up week after week with their reusable jars ready to be filled.

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piper & leaf
Piper & Leaf/Contributed

In addition to tea for drinking on-site, Piper & Leaf also offered loose-leaf tea bags for sale. They began to expand their flavors steadily and now have a roster of 16 year-round flavors as well as seasonal options. Their tea leaves are sourced from tea-growing regions such as Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, and Africa and are blended with fresh produce from Alabama farmers. Several herbs and fruits such as apples, beets, figs, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and more are sourced from the north Alabama region.

Piper & Leaf’s flagship and most popular tea blend is the Front Porch Special, a fancied-up take on the classic sweet tea. Locally sourced jasmine, spearmint, and cornflower are mixed with bergamot-infused Assam and Ceylon black tea leaves in this tea that Southern Living honored in its annual food awards in 2015.

As Piper & Leaf built a loyal following and found its place in the community, it was time for them to grow yet again. The lessons they learned from working farmers markets set the foundation for an expanded business model.

“At the farmers markets, we fortified our process and values with the importance of working together with other local businesses for the best success,” Knapp says. “We went from a disjointed but adorable weekly tent to a hard working and efficient team.”

Piper
Piper & Leaf/Contributed

In 2014, Piper & Leaf opened their first brick-and-mortar location at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville. There, they could offer items like hot loose-leaf tea, tea lattes, Italian sodas, boba tea, and more. They could further educate people on tea while also providing a space for the community to gather. After the success of that location, they went on to open a second location in Huntsville, one in Madison, and one in Birmingham.

Knapp says the goal of Piper & Leaf is to learn and grow as they work to improve and brighten the culture, health, and education of people who come in contact with their tea. They now ship and sell all of their teas nationwide via online sales (which was the core of their business in 2020 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic), as well as brew kits, boba tea kits, and tea subscription services. As they look forward to growing even more — Knapp says a mobile tea trailer to trek across the country is in the works — they will always remain driven by their family values, their desire to foster community, and their North Alabama roots.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

5 months ago

Fundraiser for donation-based Alabama restaurant helps provide meals to those in need

Drexell & Honeybee's/Contributed

Drexell & Honeybee’s, a donation-based restaurant in Brewton, is holding a fundraiser to be able to continue providing meals to those in need. Musician Maxamiliano Nelson wrote a song called “I Was Hungry (and You Fed Me)” for Drexell & Honeybee’s, and is giving 100% of the proceeds of his song downloads to the restaurant.

The soul-food restaurant has always been a “pay-what-you-can” place, which means customers choose how much they want to pay for the meal, whether it’s a generous donation, a few coins, a handwritten note, or just simply a thank you. There are no prices listed anywhere on the menu or in the restaurant, so customers don’t feel pressure. Owners Lisa Thomas-McMillan and Freddie McMillan have created a safe haven where everyone knows they can come get a hot meal when they need it. To them, food is about the joy of serving others and that doesn’t come with a price tag.

However, Drexell & Honeybee’s has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why they’re hosting a fundraiser.

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“With all of our donations based on anonymity and the pandemic forcing us to offer only take-out meals, we’ve had to unfortunately stop accepting contributions as we don’t want to take the chance of someone not getting a meal because they feel embarrassed about what they can or can’t provide in these unprecedented times,” Lisa Thomas-McMillan says. “Feeding the needy has always been a higher calling for us and with this initiative, we’re hoping we can rally additional support from the community and continue delivering hot meals to those who need it most for many years to come.”

Maxamiliano Nealon is a multi-lingual, Spanish-English singer/songwriter who lives in Portland but sings with a goal of spreading hope in a troubled world. He believes in the mission of Drexell & Honeybee’s, and the song “I Was Hungry (and You Fed Me)” is an homage to it. It serves as a tribute to the spirit, charity and togetherness the restaurant has shown the community over the years. The song can be purchased for $1 and downloaded here.

Lisa and Freddie have enthusiastically embraced the song, calling it the restaurant’s theme song. As passionate music lovers themselves, they saw it as a unique opportunity to raise awareness of their mission. Living by the motto “We Feed the Need,” Drexell & Honeybee’s puts serving their community at the forefront of everything they do. Now, they’re hoping their community can help to support them.

RELATED: Lisa Thomas-McMillan is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

5 months ago

Where to get locally made king cakes in Alabama

(Rachel Ishee for Edgar's Bakery/Contributed)

It’s officially Carnival season — the period of time after epiphany (January 6) and before Lent (starts Ash Wednesday) — which means Mardi Gras celebrations are beginning to kick off. And you know what goes hand in hand with Mardi Gras? King cake. No Mardi Gras would be complete without this sugary sweet delicacy topped with colorful icing. Thought to have been brought from France to New Orleans in 1870, king cake tastes like a cross between coffee cake and French pastry. Sometimes stuffed with filling and always stuffed with a plastic baby, the oval-shaped cake is iced with the colors of justice (purple), faith (green), and gold (power).  If you can’t make it to New Orleans this year, here’s where you can get locally made king cakes in Alabama.

6 Places to get King Cakes in Alabama

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Edgar’s Bakery – Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, multiple locations in Birmingham

The king cake from Edgar’s Bakery has been named one of the best king cakes in the nation, according to USA Today. This popular bakery offers traditional or filled king cakes (choose from strawberry, cream cheese, or pecan praline). And the best part about Edgar’s king cakes is that they can be shipped nationwide. So if you don’t have a location near you, don’t fret, sweet goodness can still come your way!
Price: $30

Savage’s Bakery & Deli – Birmingham

Savage’s Bakery has been making their famous cookies, cakes, and pastries since 1939. It’s no surprise they also make a killer king cake. They offer a filling of traditional cinnamon or cream cheese and two sizes of the cake. Savage’s also ships nationwide.
Price: $16 (small), $21 (large)

Pollman’s Bake Shop – Mobile

Pollman’s is known as THE spot in Mobile to get a king cake. They’ve been pumping out king cakes — made fresh every day during Mardi Gras season — since 1950. In fact, they were the first bakery in Mobile to make king cakes. The thick king cakes come in three sizes and are topped with colorful sugar. Pollman’s also makes cute decorated Mardi Gras cookies. You can order Pollman’s cakes to be shipped.
Price: $16.99 (small), $18.99 (large), $32.99 (extra large)

(Angie Mosier for Hero Doughnuts/Contributed, YHN)

Hero Doughnuts & Buns – Birmingham

Hero is known for its huge, fluffy, brioche-style donuts (and handmade buns for sandwiches). In Mardi Gras season, they make king cake donuts and full king cakes (which they call King Rings). The donuts are available daily during season, and King Rings are made to order with a 48-hour notice. The cakes serve 14–16 people. This shop is the king cake hero you didn’t know you needed.
Price: $30 (King Ring)

Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro – Huntsville

Mason Dixon Bakery is known for being a place that’s inclusive of all dietary needs and offers allergen-friendly foods and baked goods. During Carnival, they offer a traditional king cake as well as a dairy-free option for those with sensitivities. The cakes are large enough to feed 12.
Price: $35 (standard), $40 (dairy free)

Sugar Rush Donut Company — Mobile

This donut shop offers king cakes year-round, so you can get your fix anytime. Covered in a generous amount of icing and sprinkled in the traditional colored sugar, they are decadent and delicious. The donut shop also offers king cake donuts, when you want a quick fix on the run.
Price: $18.99 (small) or $24.99 (large)

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

5 months ago

Try this new Italian deli inside a Birmingham clothing and accessories store

A new Italian deli has opened in Birmingham — and it’s located inside Ore Mercantile, a micro-retailer offering men’s and women’s clothing, home accessories, and locally sourced items. The large store in Avondale expanded its space late last year and added Ore Deli & Bodega, offering deli sandwiches, fresh-made sides, and takeaway goods like meats, cheeses, snacks, drinks (they’ll be adding beer and wine in February), and a limited number of grocery items. Walk through racks of clothing and tables displaying local goods to the back of the store, where you’ll see a deli counter, shelves stocked with dry goods, and drink coolers lining the wall.

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ore mercantile and deli
Ore Mercantile/Julia Sayers Gokhale

The menu for Ore Deli is straightforward but well executed. Choose from a variety of hot panini-like sandwiches or cold deli sandwiches. The Avondale sandwich is a nod to its neighborhood and features mortadella, capicola, provolone, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a house-blended Italian herb seasoning. The namesake Ore sandwich is hot pressed and includes smoked turkey, swiss, shaved onions, and honey bourbon barbecue sauce.

Millennials will love what’s called the “Lunchable” on the menu, a throwback to a favorite childhood school lunch. This customizable snack lunch includes 1/4 pound of meat, 1/4 pound of cheese, 1/4 pound of olives, and crackers. Grab sides to take home for later, including Italian green beans, marinated mozzarella, pasta salad, and more, all sold by the 1/2 pint, pint, or quart. And don’t forget a cannoli for dessert!

ore mercantile and deli
Ore Mercantile/Julia Sayers Gokhale

A smattering of tables inside the mercantile allows for socially distanced dining in, or you can take your sandwich to go. Pro tip: a 6-inch sandwich is more than enough (they’re huge!), but if you want a meal for now and a meal for later, go for the 12-inch. And if you’re REALLY daring, they offer a 24-inch sub! In case you’re doing the math, that’s two feet of goodness.

When you’re done with your sandwich, browse Ore Mercantile’s non-food offerings. The shop is arranged by vendor, and you’ll find booths for Original Bham, Faith Skate, Filson, Deep Creek Trading Co., Boho Vintage, and more. Other curated items also are sprinkled around the store. Alabama Peanut Company even holds real estate in Ore with a “snack bar.”

ore mercantile
Ore Mercantile/Contributed

The shopping center on Fourth Avenue South that Ore Mercantile is located in has recently undergone a revamp. Its neighbors include Puerto Rican restaurant Tropicaleo, the relocated Seasick Records, and newly-opened kombucha taproom of Harvest Roots Ferments.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

5 months ago

Get fit at these 13 unique workout studios in Alabama

Noelle Connor/Contributed

New year, new you, right? Well, at least that’s what they say. You don’t need to do anything drastic, but if you’re looking to get back in a fitness routine after quarantine (most gyms have re-opened with COVID safety procedures in place), there are plenty of workout studios in Alabama ready to host you. From yoga on the beach to HIIT (high intensity interval training) boxing workouts to workouts with goats (yes, goats!), here are 12 unique workout studios in Alabama.

Combination Classes

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workout studios in alabama
Maddie Moore Photo/Contributed

Burn Collective – Huntsville

This fitness studio was created as a place where women could feel safe, empowered, and free of judgment. Burn Collective’s unique method combines yoga, pilates, barre, and traditional strength-training moves to create a balanced fitness routine. Since each class is so different, you won’t have to worry about getting bored or hitting a plateau.

Mission Fitness — Mobile

This studio has two missions in mind: get fit and give back to the community. With a variety of classes from HIIT to barre to pilates to cycle, combined with killer playlists and expert instructors, Mission has something for everyone. So what about giving back? Each quarter, the studio finds a local nonprofit to partner with and highlight through different initiatives. Mission accomplished.

Three15 – Birmingham

The premise of Three15 is that you can do anything for 15 minutes. These 45-minute workouts combine 15 minutes of cycling, 15 minutes of barre, and 15 minutes of strength work. It’s a great way to get your cardio, toning, and strength training all in one place. Three15 also offers cycle-only classes for those interested.

True40 – Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Auburn

The True40 method — a mixture of cardio bursts, controlled movements, and dynamic stretching — caught on so quickly that they now have three studios in the state. The signature workout is designed for people of all ages and abilities to be able to complete. You’ll be highly empowered after this low-impact workout!

Cycling

workout studios in alabama
Knackhaus/Contributed

Ignite Cycle – Birmingham

Owner Tiffany Martin created not just a cycling studio, but an emotional and empowering experience for riders at Ignite Cycle. Focused on riders finding strength in their own abilities rather than reaching a numerical value, Ignite’s classes consist of fun jams, inspirational songs, and encouragement from instructors and other riders. (Classes are currently held in an open-air covered dock due to COVID-19 precautions.)

Zoom Indoor Cycling – Huntsville

This beat-driven “cycling sanctuary” is the passion project of husband-and-wife owners Justin and Cara Goodman. Mood-boosting lights and pumping beats fuel the classes at Zoom. The goal is for riders to unlock their inner strength, transform their body, and have a euphoric fitness experience.

Yoga & Pilates

The Fitz Pilates – Huntsville

This boutique-cum-pilates studio is located in Downtown Huntsville and lives by the phrase “Be a badass with a good ass.” They teach pilates using a reformer — a machine on which you do a number of moves designed to give you a killer workout. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds! Grab a new pair of leggings or sticky socks from The Fitz’s shop side.

Glow Yoga – Gulf Shores

Get your hot yoga on Glow Yoga. The studio is heated to 80–95 degrees so you can sweat out all those toxins while getting a really good stretch. Choose your class type, from restorative deep yoga to sweaty power flow. The workout studio also is currently offering virtual yoga for those who can’t join in person.

Goat Yoga Bham – Helena (Birmingham-area)

It’s yoga, but with goats! Find your place on the mat — in the pen — and work on your downward dog as adorable little goats nose around. If you get into a flat back position on your hands and knees, they might just jump up on you. More emotionally fulfilling than calorie blasting, goat yoga is a fun way to get outside with your friends and mix up the workout routine.

Orange Beach Yoga – Orange Beach

Take your yoga to the great outdoors — and then some. Orange Beach Yoga offers yoga all over town, from yoga on the beach to paddle board yoga to yoga at the Flora-Bama. The classes are meant for any ability, so choose your location and then breathe in, breathe out.

HIIT Workouts

workout studios in alabama
Telegraph Creative/Contributed

Battle Republic – Birmingham

Now with two locations in Birmingham, Battle Republic blends boxing with HIIT moves for a well-rounded workout. You’re assigned a punching bag, and instructors take you through combinations of punches interspersed with kettle bell exercises, jumping jacks, crunches, and more.

Studio Fitness — Mobile

This women-only gym offers group fitness and training workouts geared toward, well, women. Dedicated to pushing women beyond their limits in a space where they can feel comfortable, Studio Fitness offers a broad range of classes for both beginners and workout fanatics.

sweatlocal – Huntsville

Founded by a group of certified personal trainers, sweatlocal designs workouts to create a strong and lean physique while preventing injury and over-training. With a mix of high- and low-impact classes, you’ll be able to find one that fits your routine and needs.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

Birmingham Restaurant Week Winter Edition seeks to support local restaurants

(Info Style Advertising/Contributed, YHN)

To help combat the difficulties restaurants are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Birmingham Restaurant Week is holding its annual Winter Edition to highlight and support local restaurants. The event, which will be held January 14–31, will showcase more than 40 restaurants offering special menus for takeout or socially distanced in-person dining. Prefixed two- or three-course menus range from $5–50 and include breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. The event is a spinoff of the original Birmingham Restaurant Week (BRW), held each summer.

2020 was a hard year for the hospitality industry. Restaurants had to pivot their business models and deal with dine-in restrictions or lockdowns that forced many to close. According to the National Restaurant Association, one in six restaurants, representing close to 100,000 units, have closed either permanently or long-term. In Alabama, the leisure and hospitality industry has accounted for 49% of all jobs lost since March. This puts the state’s $9 billion restaurant economy at a severe risk as more than 75% of Alabama’s 8,620 eating and drinking locations are in danger of closing permanently amidst the ongoing pandemic.

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After the 2020 summer BRW — held August 14–31 — statistics showed a 54% average increase in sales for participants vs. during recent non-BRW weeks. Tortugas Pizza, a first-time BRW participant, saw a 125% increase in sales during BRW vs. a recent non-BRW week.

Only locally owned businesses are allowed to participate in BRW, as nearly 65% of the revenue from local independent restaurants recirculates in the local economy (compared to about 30% for chains). During summer BRW, pandemic restrictions allowed restaurants to incorporate new additions, such as family-style meal options, cocktail kits, and to-go alcohol. The standard 10-day event was increased to 18 days, therefore allowing more days for patrons to partake and more opportunity for incoming sales for participating businesses.

In addition to the economic benefits, BRW also has raised more than $75,000 for local nonprofits in its 11 years of existence. Organizers donated $2,500 to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama (CFBCA) after BRW 2020 to help aid in its mission to end hunger tomorrow.

Before and after BRW, you can support local restaurants by ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards, and lobbying for the Restaurants Act, which if passed will generate $1.8 billion economic benefit for Alabama.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

Five unique ways Alabama celebrates New Year’s Eve

(Pixabay, YHN)

Ringing in the New Year in fun and unique ways is a tradition for many places in Alabama. Several embrace their history, heritage, and quirky attributes through ball drops and celebrations geared specifically to their city. From a peanut drop to a meteor strike, here are five unique ways Alabama celebrates New Year’s Eve.

Although we’re all ready to say goodbye to 2020, some of these celebrations might be a little different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check with the city before making plans to attend.

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Moon Pie Drop – Mobile

Mobile has become synonymous with MoonPies, so the city hosts a MoonPie drop to commemorate that. The chocolate-and-marshmallow treat is thrown from floats during Mardi Gras parades, which is how the city became known for it. During the annual MoonPie Over Mobile celebration, a 12-foot-tall, 600-pound MoonPie drops at midnight.

Peanut Drop – Dothan

Dothan is the peanut capital of Alabama and home to the annual National Peanut Festival each fall. To celebrate New Year’s Eve, downtown Dothan hosts a celebration where a lighted, suspended peanut drops from the sky to count down to midnight.

Meteor Strike – Wetumpka

The area where Wetumpka is located was struck by a giant meteor 83 million years ago. It left its mark with a crater that’s five miles wide. The city honors that history with a New Year’s Eve meteor drop. When the clock strikes midnight, a meteor “strikes” with fireworks.

DUD Parade — Livingston

The town of Livingston rings in the New Year with a parade. Locals dress up in elaborate costumes and march down the street in this annual tradition. Although no one knows how it really came to be, it’s believed that the DUD Parade originated in 1857 and was a custom carried over from England and Scotland. In the older days, the maskers were dubbed the “Indomitables.” Eventually, someone called them “Damned Ugly Devils” and thus, DUD came to be.

Kids Confetti Drop — Orange Beach

If you don’t want the kids up until midnight, let them count down the New Year until 12 p.m. instead of a.m. The Wharf at Orange Beach hosts a Kids Confetti Drop that includes a DJ, slime zone, climbing activities, and more. At noon, confetti will drop from the sky to celebrate the New Year.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

Mobile mother creates national skincare line for those with eczema

Keller Works/Contributed

When Krystn Keller’s three-month-old son Elliott developed a rash on his face, she was told that it was just standard baby eczema and should go away if she switched laundry detergent. However, over the next nine months, Elliott’s condition worsened. The Kellers saw 14 doctors, tried prescription creams, bought soap for sensitive skin, and had Elliott tested for food allergies. When nothing seemed to show results, Krystn knew she would need to take matters into her own hands.

“The prescription creams caused many unwanted side effects like facial hair growth, skin thinning, and one even had a cancer warning,” Krystn says. “I wasn’t comfortable putting these things on my baby, so I wanted to try making an all-natural option myself at home.”

She began doing research and eventually ended up on YouTube, where she found a vast amount of soap-making tutorials. After several months of trial and error, she finally had a recipe for an all-natural soap specifically designed for those with eczema. When Elliott’s skin began to clear up, friends began asking Krystn if they could purchase her soap. She realized there was a need in the market for a product like this, and thus, Keller Works was born.

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Keller Works/Contributed

Based out of Mobile, Keller Works is now a thriving natural soap business, which includes products in 35 stores, international shipping, and a brick-and-mortar location on Government Boulevard in Mobile. “We went from making soap in my kitchen to producing it in a 2,500-square-foot warehouse,” Krystn says.

The most popular products are those in the Elliott’s Care line. The original product that launched Keller Works is Elliott’s Soap, made with organic and sustainable palm oil, organic coconut oil, organic refined sunflower oil, organic shea butter, rice bran oil, castor oil, and gluten-free organic oats. After the success of the soap, Krystn also added an herbal zinc-based salve to combat itch and a whipped shea butter and coconut oil moisturizer.

keller works soap
Keller Works/Contributed

Keller Works has since expanded to include a line of roll-on essential oils, body care (items like dry shampoo, bath salts, and beard oil), and other organic soaps.

Now, Krystn says Elliott’s skin is completely clear, and although the initial plan wasn’t to create a business, she is thankful to be able to help other families going through the same thing.

“We have customers based all over the country and are able to provide jobs to our local community in Mobile, all while making a positive impact and helping other families in need,” Krystn says.

Learn more about Krystn’s story below:

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

Where to see the best Christmas lights in Alabama

(Noccalula Falls Park/Online)

It wouldn’t be the holidays without festive, extravagant Christmas light displays! From drive-through parks to illuminated caverns to glowing zoo animals, here are the best places to see Christmas lights in Alabama. (Be aware that some activities may be limited due to COVID-19 safety precautions.)

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Glow Wild at the Birmingham Zoo – Birmingham

christmas lights in alabama
Birmingham Zoo/Online

Instead of Zoolight Safari, this year the Birmingham Zoo launched a new stunning light experience: Glow Wild. The ticketed event includes glowing lantern creations of animals from around the world. You’ll see lions, tigers, and bears — oh my! — some reaching up to 30 feet tall.

Pricing: Non-members:
Online Tickets/Pre-purchased
$14.95
$9.95

Peak Nights (Friday–Sunday)
$20.95
$12.95

Onsite Tickets/Purchased at the Gate
All Nights  (Wednesday-Sunday)
$23.95
$14.95

Members: 30% discount on above prices

Galaxy of Lights – Huntsville

For 25 years, the Huntsville Botanical Garden has hosted Galaxy of Lights. You’ll be able to walk through 2.5 miles of magnificent light displays featuring holiday themes, classic characters, and scenes from the natural world.

Pricing: Non-members: $14/adult and $9/child
Members: Free

Christmas Nights of Lights – Mobile

christmas lights in alabama
Christmas Nights of Lights/Online

This drive-through light attraction is Alabama’s largest synchronized light show. See more than one million lights synchronized to traditional and newer Christmas music played through your own car stereo. You’ll drive through twinkling tunnels, past looming nutcrackers, and see plenty of lit-up Christmas trees.

Pricing: $8/person

Festival of Lights – Oxford

Festival of Lights is a drive-through light show at Choccolocco Park. Before or after going through the spectacular light display, you can visit Santa’s Village, where you’ll find photos with Santa, synthetic ice-skating, food-vendors, merchandising, inflatables, slides, and more. (Some attractions are an additional cost.)

Pricing: Car – any vehicle which has seats for eight (8) or less persons.
$17 – Advance Online Ticket (valid for any night)
$20 – At the Gate – Mondays through Thursdays
$25 – At the Gate – Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays

Van – any vehicle which has seats for nine (9) to fifteen (15) persons.
$25 – At the Gate – Mondays through Thursdays
$30 – At the Gate – Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays

Winter Wonderland – Cullman

This year, the 18th annual Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Display at Sportsman Lake Park has more light displays than ever before. Guests can enjoy driving through the park, train rides (safely separated from others by plexiglass), carriage rides, hot chocolate, and pictures with Santa.

Pricing: $10/vehicle

Christmas at the Falls – Gadsden

christmas lights in alabama
Noccalula Falls Park/Online

Enjoy millions of lights throughout Noccalula Falls park, with spectacular views from the paved walking trails or from the vantage of a ride on the park’s train. A socially distanced Santa will be in the post office/general store this year, and concessions will be for sale.

Pricing: $8/ticket (Monday–Thursday) and $10/ticket (Friday–Sunday)

Christmas Lights Montgomery Zoo – Montgomery

The Montgomery Zoo transforms each year into a winter wonderland, displaying thousands of sparkling and twinkling lights and festive decorations. Stroll through the zoo or enjoy a train ride around the grounds. Safely visit Santa and the Guardian Credit Union Christmas Tree Village at the Mann Museum; enjoy live entertainment at the Overlook Cafe; and warm up with hot chocolate and fresh baked cookies from the cafe.

Pricing: Non-members: $10/person
Members: Free

Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens – Theodore

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is hosting its 25th year of Magic Christmas in Lights. Guests can stroll through a dazzling light display featuring more than 1,100 set pieces, 3 million lights, and 15 scenes throughout the 65-acre Garden estate. In addition, the Bellingrath Home is decorated in its holiday best and filled with beautiful poinsettias.

Pricing: Garden & Home: $25/adult and $14/child
Gardens Only: $16/adult and $8/child

Christmas at the Cave – Childersburg

christmas lights in alabama
Desoto Caverns/Online

Desoto Caverns’ Christmas extravaganza includes the “Illuminations of Advent” light show in the caverns; multiple cheery park shows including storytelling with Saint Nick; caroling and sing-a-long shows; rides on Santa’s very own sleigh on the Destiny Express; holiday treats; and twinkle lights galore. It’s an interactive experience that you won’t want to miss.

Pricing: Starts at $29.99/person

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

First-ever Alabama Black Restaurant Week kicking off

Eugene's Hot Chicken/Contributed

The inaugural Black Restaurant Week is debuting in Alabama December 11. The 10-day event is designed to celebrate the flavors of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisine nationwide. Patrons are encouraged to support Black-owned restaurants in their area by dining out or ordering food to go.

Founded in 2016, Black Restaurant Week aims to introduce businesses and professionals to the community through events, culinary initiatives, and promotional campaigns. There are 11 states/areas/regions participating in the national celebration. This year is Alabama’s first year participating. Each area has a different week, with the first event kicking off in June in Houston. Alabama’s event concludes the year, running December 11–20.

Participating Alabama restaurants include Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Bitty’s Living Kitchen, Nawlins Style Po’Boys, Kuntri Kitchen, and Good Health To Be Hail. In addition to restaurants, the event will also spotlight food trucks, bakeries, caterers, and other culinary professionals.

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If you are unable to make it to a restaurant, there are other ways you can support Black-owned restaurants during and after Black Restaurant Week. Ways to do so include following their social media sites, liking their posts, and sharing photos. It’s also encouraged to leave a positive review on the BRW website, Google, or Yelp. You can also support restaurants by ordering takeout through delivery services, purchasing gift cards, or booking catering services.

The event is presented by Pepsi and Maker’s Mark. This year, Black Restaurant Week also includes fun activities like giveaways of gift cards, cash prizes, and more. You can download a BRW bingo card from the website and see if you can complete a row to get bingo and be entered to win a prize. Squares on the bingo card include eating at a food truck, trying a Caribbean meal, and dining out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Find more info on Alabama’s Black Restaurant Week via the website and the event’s Facebook page.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

6 months ago

The essential Alabama-made gift guide for 2020

(Contributed/Civil Stoneware, Chocolata, Prodigal Pottery, Zkano, 1818 Farms, YHN)

‘Tis the season for gift giving. This year, consider shopping local for all your holiday gifts. It’s especially important to support small businesses who may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state is home to many talented artists, makers, and clothing designers from whom you can purchase local, Alabama-made gifts. From home decor to gourmet food to trendy accessories, here is your essential Alabama-made gift guide.

Alabama-made Gift Guide

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HOME

Server from Civil Stoneware

alabama-made gift platter
Civil Stoneware/ civilstoneware.com

Birmingham-based Civil Stoneware is known for its signature, charcoal-colored pottery. The pieces make a statement on any table, and this server is great for charcuterie, appetizers, or even the holiday ham.

Cheer Candle from Great Bear Wax Company

alabama-made candle
Great Bear Wax Co. / burnbear.com

With notes of balsam fir, cedar, and a burning fireplace, this Cheer candle from Great Bear Wax Company smells like the holidays in a jar. Choose from an 11 ounce or 6 ounce candle.

Plants from Botanica

plants
Botanica / botanicabhm.com

House plants are thriving this year. Local plant shop Botanica has the best collection of plants and pots, and has locations in Birmingham and Huntsville. Purchase a holiday gift set of two plants in pots.

Candy Dish from Orbix Hot Glass

Orbix Hot Glass / alabamagoods.com

Orbix Hot Glass in Fort Payne hand blows the most beautiful glass creations. Give the gift of a colorful glass candy dish that’s perfect for displaying Christmas treats!

Heart of Dixie Alabama Ornament from Prodigal Pottery

alabama-made gift ornaments
Prodigal Pottery / prodigalpottery.org

You can feel especially good about this Alabama-made gift from Prodigal Pottery. These state-shaped pottery ornaments are made in Chelsea by women fleeing homelessness, domestic abuse, and sex-trafficking. One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward supporting those women.

Love My State Hand Towel from Coast & Cotton

alabama-made gift hand towel
Coast & Cotton / coastandcotton.com

For the person who loves to show off their state pride, these cotton flour sack hand towels depict hand-drawn state icons. Made in Auburn, Coast & Cotton offers towels for all 50 states, as well as holiday towels and other signature patterns.

FOOD & DRINK

Gift Box from Wickles Pickles

pickles
Wickles Pickles / wicklespickles.com

Spice up your gift-giving with Dadeville-made Wickles Pickles. These spicy lil’ pickles are one of the most popular food items to come out of Alabama. The gift box includes two jars of Wickles Pickles, one jar of Red Sandwich Spread, and one jar of Relish.

Spirits from John Emerald Distilling Company

John Emerald Distilling Co. / johnemeralddistilling.com

This small-batch, craft distillery in Opelika offers 10 spirits, including whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, and vodka. Each of the spirits is named after one of the owners’ forefathers in order to honor their heritage.

Tea Subscription from Piper & Leaf

tea subscription
Piper & Leaf / piperandleaf.com

Give the gift that keeps on giving to the tea lover in your life. Piper & Leaf is a Huntsville tea company that became known for their signature jars of iced tea sold at farmers markets. The tea is made from their loose leaf blends. They offer a subscription box of one to four bags of tea per month.

Christmas Gift Box from Kettle Bros

Kettle Bros / kettlebros.com

For the one with a sweet tooth, gift them a four-flavor box from Gadsden-based Kettle Bros. This salty-sweet kettle corn comes in flavors like cookies and cream, cinnamon roll, white chocolate peppermint, and more. Select your choice of flavors for the box.

Chocolates from Chocolata

chocolate box
Chocolata / chocolatachocolate.com

These chocolates are almost too pretty to eat — almost. As delicious as they are beautiful, these truffles are made by Birmingham chocolatier Kathy D’Agostino. Order a mixed assortment or choose one of her signature candy bars.

Candied Pecans from Superior Pecans

Superior Pecans / superiorpecans.com

It wouldn’t be Alabama without pecans, and Superior Pecans in Eufala is known for their candied pecans — especially at Christmas time. Order bags of bourbon praline pecans, butterscotch pecans, or chocolate pecans and gift them to your nutty friends.

Christmas Blend Coffee from OHenry’s

OHenry’s / ohenryscoffees.com

OHenry’s has been roasting coffee in Alabama for more than 25 years. They sell ground coffee in a number of signature blends, as well as K-cups. A bag of their Christmas Blend, a six-bean blend with Swiss chocolate and holiday spices, makes the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life.

Peanut Caddy from Alabama Goods

Alabama Goods / alabamagoods.com

If your spouse or kids are always leaving their peanut shells around, give them this cute and clever caddy made from an Alabama license plate to contain the empty shells. Pair it with a bag of roasted or boiled peanuts from Alabama Peanut Company.

BATH & BODY

Soap from Left Hand Soap Company

Left Hand Soap Company / lefthandsoapcompany.com

Put a bar of soap from Left Hand Soap Company in everyone’s stocking this year. This Tuscaloosa company makes handmade soap from a base of olive, coconut, and castor oils. Different scent blends make an ordinary shower like an aromatherapy experience.

Spa Experience from 1818 Farms

bath and body goods
1818 Farms / 1818farms.com

Give this gift basket to someone who needs to treat themselves. 1818 Farms is a flower farm in Mooresville that also makes spa products and has the cutest babydoll sheep. The Spa Experience gift basket includes a lavender goat’s milk bath tea packet, bath truffle, and lip balm or cuticle balm.

Perfume from Stone Hollow Farmstead

Stone Hollow Farmstead / stonehollowfarmstead.com

Stone Hollow Farmstead literally does it all, from skincare and beauty products to goat cheese and gourmet food products. They have their own line of perfumes that come in a tube that’s easy to throw in your purse. All are made from organic essential oils, absolutes, rare finds and concretes, and SCO2 extractions in organic jojoba oil.

CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES

For Him

Tensaw Jacket from Tom Beckbe

jacket
Tom Beckbe / tombeckbe.com

This Birmingham clothier makes goods built for the outdoors. They use classic design and rugged materials that withstand time and elements. The Tensaw Jacket is one of their signature pieces featuring waxed shelter cloth and a cotton lining inspired by Alabama red clay.

Big Dixie Bifold Wallet from Holtz Leather Company

leather wallet
Holtz Leather / holtzleather.com

This wallet is handcrafted in Huntsville from full-grain American leather. Holtz Leather Company handpicks their leather hides from a local tannery for a rustic look and feel. Personalization also is available.

Holiday Socks from Zkano Socks

holiday socks
Zkano / zkano.com

Guys love to show a little flair under their suits with fun socks. Add to his collection with holiday socks from Alabama sock maker, Zkano. The company continues a century-long sock making tradition in Fort Payne.

For Her

Vesper Pea Coat from Billy Reid

billy reid coat
Billy Reid / billyreid.com

Buy her a staple piece from Florence designer Billy Reid that she can use for years to come. This modern pea coat is made from a wool blend and features a feminine double-breasted silhouette.

Polymer Statement Earrings from Bonnybee Designs

earrings
Bonnybee Designs / etsy.com

Polymer clay earrings are all the rage this year, and Bonnybee Designs was the first to popularize them in Birmingham. These lightweight earrings make a statement with fun shapes and the addition of gold accents.

Goldie Lock Necklace from Kate Morris Jewelry

gold lock necklace
Kate Morris Jewelry / katemorrisjewelry.com

Lockets are old fashioned. Instead, give her this 14-karat gold lock necklace from Kate Morris Jewelry. Handcrafted in her Homewood studio, Kate Morris Jewelry features both trendy and timeless pieces.

KIDS

Color the Ham coloring book from Down in the Ham

coloring book
Down in the Ham / downintheham.com

Featuring 40 illustrations of famous Birmingham landmarks, this coloring book allows children to add their flair to some famous city scenes.

Alabama Onesie from Yellowhammer Print Shop

Yellowhammer Print Shop / yellowhammer.org

Yellowhammer Print Shop features handprinted goods for Alabama icons, sports teams, and sayings. This onesie will remind the recipient that somebody in Alabama loves them!

ART

Art print from Andrew Lee Design

Andrew Lee Design / andrewleedesigns.com

This Auburn artist creates beautiful paintings and sketches that embody Alabama, from wildlife to flora to scenery. In addition to his art pieces, he also has t-shirts, stationery, and home goods.

City Print by Kaitlin West

Kaitlin West / alabamagoods.com

These art prints by Kaitlin West feature a city’s iconic images within its name. The 8×10 prints are ready to frame.

Skyline Print by Eric Poland 

Eric Poland / alabamagoods.com

These colorful reimaginings of city skylines are done by artist Eric Poland. The art is printed on archival quality paper and is varnished, signed, and numbered by the artist.

2020 GIFTS

Sanitizing Elixir from Distill Brand

hand sanitizer
Distill Brand / distillbrand.com

2020 is probably the only year you can give hand sanitizer as a gift and get away with it. An Alabama distillery is making their sanitizing elixir, an 80% ethyl alcohol blend, in two scents: Rosemary Mint and Lavender Cream.

Face Mask from Original Bham

Original Bham / alabamagoods.com

Upgrade someone’s mask game with this Birmingham mask from Original Bham. It features the company’s signature logo featuring an illustration of a ham to represent “Bham.”

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

7 months ago

Choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms in Alabama

Alabama Farmers Federation/Contributed

Looking to get your Christmas tree this weekend? Most people put up their Christmas trees either Thanksgiving weekend or the first weekend of December. There are several Christmas tree farms in Alabama offering choose-and-cut experiences and fresh-cut evergreens. In addition to the fun of picking out your tree, many of the farms also offer festive activities like hay rides, hot chocolate and visits from Santa.

Most of the choose-and-cut farms in Alabama offer trees that grow in warm weather, including Leyland Cypress, Arizona Cypress, Murray Cypress, Carolina Sapphire, Eastern Red Cedar and Virginia Pine. The Arizona Cypress and Carolina Sapphire are popular for their silvery blue-green hue. In addition to Christmas tree varieties that grow well in Alabama, most farms also offer pre-cut Northern trees like Frasier Fir and Douglas Fir.

When selecting a live Christmas tree, be sure to choose one that has room between the branches to hang your ornaments. When you get the tree home, get it in water immediately and check the water level daily to be sure your tree doesn’t dry out before Christmas Day.

The Alabama Farmers Federation has compiled a list of the state’s Christmas tree farms. Most Christmas tree farms open the Friday following Thanksgiving and close Christmas Eve.

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Alabama Christmas Tree Farms:

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

7 months ago

Spend Black Friday shooting clays at Selwood Farm

(Selwood Farm/Contributed)

Play a round of 18 with the family over Thanksgiving weekend — but we’re not talking about golf. Selwood Farm is a family-owned hunting preserve in Alpine, Alabama that holds bragging rights for opening the state’s first sporting clay course in 1990. Thanksgiving weekend is a busy one for Selwood Farm (they’re closed on Thanksgiving Day), including its annual Black Friday event that has become a tradition for many.

For $60 per person, you’ll receive 100 sporting clays, a golf cart to take you through the 18-stand course (and eight additional stands for experienced shooters), and lunch from 2 Men And A Pig barbecue. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in drawings for prizes including Orca Coolers, Russell Boots, Selwood swag, restaurant gift cards, Dirk Walker Shooting shirts exclusive to Selwood Farm, and more.

“Our Black Friday event is something we started several years ago after discovering that several of the same families made it a tradition to visit Selwood annually the day after Thanksgiving,” says Judith Jager, creative director of Selwood Farm. “We always joke that spending Black Friday at Selwood is much better than spending it at the mall — especially this year with COVID-19. We have loved being an outdoor escape for folks during this time.”

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shooting clay selwood farm
Craig Godwin/Contributed

If you can’t make it for the Friday event, Selwood Farm is open daily except Sundays and offers multiple activities. In addition to the sporting clay course, you can also shoot at the 5-stand, play the only Helice ring in Alabama (a European simulated live bird game), and hunt for quail and pheasant in the preserve’s 800 acres. Currently owned by Dell and Carolyn Hill, Selwood Farm has been a licensed hunting preserve since 1984.

The history of Selwood Farm began in 1834 when James Mallory moved from Virginia to Alpine and settled Selwood. He prospered as a farmer and community leader and the land remained in his family until 1948.

Dell’s father, O.V. Hill, purchased the property and raised cattle, sheep, poultry, and turkeys at Selwood. After Mr. Hill’s death, Dell and Carolyn continued the cattle operation and a smoked turkey mail-order business for more than thirty-five years. The Hills decided to turn the farm into a recreational space when the cattle business was no longer profitable. Selwood was officially designated as a hunting preserve in 1984 and the sporting clays course opened in 1990.

Selwood, which means “the king’s hunting forest,” has become a destination for those both in-state and out. Thousands of people visit Selwood Farm each year to shoot, hunt, host events, or take a vacation. If you’re looking for something to do with the family this Thanksgiving weekend, visiting Selwood Farm is a fun, socially distant outdoor activity that you can feel safe participating in. Plus, it’s something the whole family can enjoy.

“There truly is something for everyone,” says Jager, “even if it is just sitting on our front porch drinking a glass of sweet tea watching the sunset over the Selwood hills.”

clay shooting selwood farm
Selwood Farm/Contributed

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

7 months ago

20 places to get Thanksgiving takeout in Alabama

Amy Henry/Contributed

Thanksgiving might look a little different for people this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re spending Thanksgiving at home instead of with relatives or having a virtual Thanksgiving, why not take the stress of cooking off your plate? Here are 20 restaurants that are offering Thanksgiving takeout in Alabama. You might not even miss cooking it yourself!

Thanksgiving Takeout in Alabama

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HUNTSVILLE

Good Company Cafe

This women-owned, chef-driven restaurant is offering a full Thanksgiving menu. Choose from turkey and gravy or a spiral cut ham, and then select some starters and sides. They have some of the most unique appetizer options, including a pimento cheese pumpkin ball, sausage balls, onion dip, and baked brie. For sides, you’ll find classics like scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, and corn pudding.

Purveyor

At $55/person for a three-course meal with an additional seven sides, the Thanksgiving takeout menu at Purveyor is a great deal. You’ll pick up the meal hot on Thanksgiving day. Choose from soup, salad, or a charcuterie board to start; turkey, ham, or prime rib for the main course; and pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or apple tart for dessert. Each meal comes with sides of cranberry sauce, andouille cornbread, green bean casserole, creamed corn, gravy, stuffing, and your choice of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Jim ‘n Nicks

Jim ‘N Nicks offers smoked turkey breast and ham, as well as a number of seasonal sides — including green beans, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. You can also get larger orders of their standard sides, as well. Plus, a basket of Jim ‘N Nicks’ famous cheese biscuits is always welcome on the Thanksgiving table.

Commerce Kitchen

This Southern restaurant from Huntsville chef James Boyce is offering a Thanksgiving feast at home for $195.  The meal serves six to eight people and comes with cornbread stuffing, a mixed green salad, rolls, your choice of a slow-roasted turkey or smoked Virginia honey ham, and your choice of two sides from green bean casserole, Dijon collard greens, four-cheese mac and cheese or garlic mashed potatoes. Then select your dessert from pecan pie, pumpkin pie, or red velvet cake.

BIRMINGHAM

Real & Rosemary

Real & Rosemary is known for its homestyle meals with an upscale twist. For Thanksgiving, they’re offering roast turkey by the pound as well as all the trimmings. Choose from options like sweet potato casserole, scalloped potatoes with thyme, Brussels sprouts slaw, and cornbread dressing. You can also order vegetable gravy and cranberry relish.

Ashley Mac’s

Ashley Mac’s is one of Birmingham’s favorite places for grab-and-go dinners, so of course they’re offering a Thanksgiving menu. For $115, you’ll get a five-pound ham or turkey, two sides, your choice of bread, and a dozen cupcakes. Since you bake the items when you get home, you can totally pretend you made these sides yourself!

Iz Cafe

Another Birmingham staple for take-home items, Iz Cafe is offering deep-fried turkeys for Thanksgiving, along with seasonal sides and desserts. Get everything you need from cornbread dressing to classic green bean casserole to homemade yeast rolls. And don’t forget dessert — you’ll want to try the Caramel Apple Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce.

Smiley Brothers

Smiley Brothers in Alabaster is a butcher shop and specialty foods store offering complete Thanksgiving meal packages. For $225 or $275 (depending on turkey size), you’ll get either a 10–14 pound turkey or a 16–20 pound turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, and three sides of your choice.

Helen

This new high-end restaurant from chef Rob McDaniel focuses on smoked and grilled meats. For Thanksgiving, they’re offering a smoked turkey breast that feeds six to eight people. You’ll simply need to call the restaurant to order and pick up on November 25.

Eugene’s Hot Chicken

Some like it hot … and at Eugene’s you can get just that. This hot chicken restaurant is now offering Cajun fried turkeys for Thanksgiving. You can also order pans of sides including mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and banana pudding.

Homewood Gourmet

Homewood Gourmet’s Thanksgiving menu is broken down into starters; gravy, sauces, and salads; casseroles; and pies and desserts. All you have to do is get the turkey! Homewood Gourmet’s menu includes New Orleans influences, including praline sweet potatoes, homemade boudin to stuff into your turkey, and pumpkin bread pudding.

thanksgiving takeout
Amy Henry/Contributed

TUSCALOOSA

River

For $100 for a meal that feeds four to six, you’ll get bang for your buck at River. The meal includes your choice of protein (Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, Brown Sugar Bourbon Baked Ham, or Citrus Herb Baked Salmon Filet), three sides (mashed potatoes and gravy, farm salad, gouda macaroni and cheese, sauteed green beans, glazed carrots, deviled eggs, vegetable casserole, English pea salad, cornbread dressing, or sweet potato casserole), and dessert (pecan pie, banana pudding, or chocolate chip cookies). Just make sure to order by Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.

R. Davidson Chophouse

This steakhouse has a Thanksgiving menu with options for everyone, from traditionalists to steak lovers to those who prefer seafood. Traditional entree options include roast turkey or honeybaked ham, and then there are options for the restaurant’s famous steaks as well as pasta and fresh seafood. Sides include sweet potato casserole, sauteed asparagus, lobster mac and cheese, and roasted garlic and gouda smashed potatoes.

The Blue Plate

Order your Thanksgiving meal by November 23 from The Blue Plate. Pay per pound for options like sliced turkey breast and applewood smoked ham and choose from sides including homemade cornbread dressing with giblet gravy, squash casserole, butter beans, and creamed corn. Don’t forget dessert: there’s 17-layer chocolate cake, caramel cake, red velvet cake, or pecan pie.

Urban Cookhouse

For four to five people for $50 or 8–10 people for $95, Urban Cookhouse is offering holiday takeout meals. The meals include smoked turkey, your choice of two sides (from dressing and gravy, roasted vegetables, broccoli salad, or hot cheddar pasta) and yeast or orange rolls. You can also order a pan of apple crisp or brown sugar brownies for dessert.

MOBILE

Moe’s Original BBQ

This barbecue restaurant has a dedicated holiday menu. You can choose from a smoked turkey or spiral ham and pans of sides including mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, collard greens, and cornbread dressing made from Moe’s famous cornbread. Another unique thing Moe’s does: if you buy your own turkey, you can drop it off to them to smoke for you for $20.

The Battle House Hotel

The Battle House is offering a six-person holiday menu for $140. It includes a brined and roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread and Conecuh sausage dressing, and more. If you prefer to dine in, the Battle House is hosting an extravagant Thanksgiving Day brunch for $68/person.

Dream Dinners

This take-home dinner service is geared toward allowing you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones. For Thanksgiving, they’re offering Holiday Roasted Turkey, Seasoned Mashed Potatoes, and French Onion Green Beans. Side dishes are available in two sizes: a traditional entertaining size and a smaller family size.

GULF SHORES/ORANGE BEACH

Playa

The sister restaurant to favorite Orange Beach restaurant Fisher’s, Playa is offering a Thanksgiving menu to complement their standard cuisine. Order it to go and add in some beachy appetizers like crab dip and shrimp bisque. The traditional Thanksgiving entree includes turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and cornbread. Additional side options include roasted sweet potatoes, sausage cornbread dressing, and bacon braised collard greens.

Ginny Lane Bar & Grill

Ginny Lane, located in The Wharf, has two options for Thanksgiving: a special takeout menu or a dine-in Thanksgiving buffet. The takeout menu is not your traditional Thanksgiving menu — it’s geared toward embracing the fresh local seafood the area is known for. Choose from options including peel-and-eat shrimp, Bayou Grouper, or a Fried Seafood platter.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

7 months ago

10 new restaurants in Birmingham to try this year

Paul Crawford/Contributed

2020 has been a difficult year for restaurants, but that hasn’t stopped several new ones from opening up in the Magic City. Here are 10 new restaurants and eateries to try that have opened in Birmingham this year, from fine dining to casual burger joints to global cuisine. Most are offering takeout, curbside delivery, and in-person socially distant dining.

10 New Restaurants in Birmingham

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Helen

helen restaurant birmingham
Cary Norton/Contributed

Helen opened on Second Avenue North in downtown at the end of August and is one of the best new restaurants in Birmingham. The brainchild of chef Rob McDaniel (previously of SpringHouse at Lake Martin), Helen offers a modern take on Southern classics cooked on a wood-fired grill. The restaurant is named after McDaniel’s grandmother and honors her legacy with a unique veggie-forward menu and a prime selection of grilled proteins. Pro tip: start your meal with the angel biscuits served with cane sugar butter.

Bay Leaf

bay leaf restaurant birmingham
Paul Crawford/Contributed

This Indian restaurant took the time they were closed in the beginning of the pandemic to undergo a total revamp and rebrand. After hiring a professional chef from New York who has worked in both India and Switzerland, Bay Leaf came up with an entirely new menu that highlights the best of Indian cuisine combined with gastronomic techniques. Try Street Dosa, Octopus Tandoori, and a selection of favorite and unique curries at the 5 Points South or Highway 280 location.

The Anvil Pub & Grill

the anvil restaurant birmingham
Mo Davis Photography/Contributed

The Anvil takes British food to a different level at this new restaurant in the Lee Branch shopping center. Using locally sourced ingredients, The Anvil puts a global spin on seasonal cuisine. You’ll find British favorites like Fish & Chips and Steak & Guinness Pie, as well as fusion items like Fried Okra with a curry dipping sauce.

Porch

porch restaurant birmingham
Porch/Contributed

The newest addition to Crestline Village, Porch offers a menu that hits on plenty of Southern and international favorites. Start with The Oko, a Japanese savory cabbage pancake that has become a signature of Porch. For the main meal, you’ll find items like a Cuban Sandwich, Chicken Bahn Mi, and a Truffled Farro Bowl.

Avondale Burger Co.

avondale burger restaurant birmingham
Julia Sayers Gokhale/YHN

Avondale Brewery has long been a favorite hangout of Birminghamians, and now it has a permanent food truck dishing out burgers in the backyard — because nothing goes better together than burgers and beer! You’ll find classic burger options, as well as items like a Spicy Korean Burger, a Mushroom Swiss burger, and more. Get a side of Sweet Heat Tater Tots or Zesty Fries with your burger.

Bocca

bocca restaurant birmingham
Bocca/Instagram

This fine-dining Italian restaurant on Second Avenue North is from the owner of Bistro 218. The menu is divided into Antipasti (appetizers), Primi (pasta), and Secondi (large plates). The Braised Beef Short Rib with polenta has quickly become a favorite option for diners. You can also never go wrong with a classic pasta dish like Bucatini Pomodoro.

Troup’s Pizza

troups restaurant birmingham
Troup’s/Contributed

Located in Cahaba Heights, this new pizza joint is from chef Terrill Brazelton, who was previously the chef of Slice Pizza. Troup’s is a casual counter-service restaurant offering specialty pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. You’ll find everything from meatball pizza to spicy hot chicken pizza to veggie pesto pizza.

Bell Peppers

grits and bacon
Bell Peppers/Instagram

Bell Peppers was created to offer delicious food for the carb-conscious. They’ve mastered the art of making low-carb dishes taste just like their high-carb counterparts. You can indulge in comfort food like burgers, pizza, waffles, bacon, and grits without feeling guilty at this Hueytown restaurant.

The Little London

british food little london kitchen
Julia Sayers Gokhale/YHN

You’ve most likely seen Little London Kitchen’s red double decker bus turned food truck rolling around town. Now, the owners have found a permanent location to offer their classic British comfort food. The Little London pub in Homewood serves up dishes such as Cottage Pie, Bangers & Mash, and Fish & Chips. When the bus isn’t roaming, it’s parked at the pub for diners to sit inside.

Rendezvous Kitchen

vegan corndog
Rendezvous Kitchen/Instagram

Though technically not a restaurant, Rendezvous Kitchen is worth noting for its vegan food. This food truck, owned and operated by women, has expanded Birmingham’s vegan options. Vegan food doesn’t have to be boring, as Rendezvous proves with menu items like corndogs, burgers, seitan wings, and loaded fries. Try something new and feel good about it!

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

7 months ago

Milo’s Hamburgers educates kids on voting during election month

(Milo's/Contributed, YHN)

Learning about the democratic process is important, even at a young age. Because of this, Milo’s Hamburgers has teamed up with local schools to educate children on how voting works. The initiative, called Milo’s Civics, is a fun, nonpolitical, interactive program going on through the month of November.

The 30-minute program, which can be in-person or virtual, allows students to learn about democracy and voting requirements; hear from local city leaders and SGA representatives on the importance of elections; and participate in hands-on activities to reinforce the lesson.

So far, Milo’s has worked with elementary students and Girl Scout Troops in Tuscaloosa, Prattville, and Montgomery to teach them about the election process through a variety of activities that encourage them to ask questions and get excited to vote one day. Both Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa and Probate Judge J C Love of Montgomery have participated in the program by speaking about the importance of voting and the election process.

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child with milo's ballot
Milo’s Hamburgers/Contributed

Political parties are explained via “Team Chicken” and “Team Burger.” Children even get to practice “voting” in a primary and general election for the best Milo’s menu item. A sample ballot includes nine “saucy” candidates that are proposed Milo’s menu items. Children will get to see that their vote actually matters, as they’ll be choosing which new menu items become regulars. Candidates include a spicy chicken sandwich, Mexi Burger, loaded fries, and more.

“With election season in full swing, we wanted to figure out a fun way to get the community involved with the launch of our new menu items,” says Mary Duncan Proctor, marketing director of Milo’s. “We know Alabama teachers are counting on local businesses like Milo’s to live out our mission to give ‘a little something extra’ even amid challenges during COVID-19. By allowing students to vote in the Milo’s election, we hope one day each of them will vote in many elections to come.”

But the fun isn’t just for kids. Adults also can cast their vote for the new Milo’s menu here and receive a coupon code to try the burger chain’s new Sweet Tea Shake for free. Physical ballot boxes and the new menu items can be found in Milo’s locations in Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, and Prattville.

An Alabama staple since 1946, Milo’s has always been involved in its local community and continues to do so through programs like this.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

8 months ago

Alabama artist and TV star debuts art exhibit in Decatur

(Jean Allsopp/Contributed, Trace Barnett/Contributed, YHN)

At a new art exhibit in Decatur, you’ll see art made from discarded items — including thread spools, pill bottles, tin cans, bird nests, and more — arranged in a beautiful and organic way. Trace Barnett, a lifestyle blogger, author, and TV personality, is turning trash into treasure at his debut art exhibit at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Barnett, a native of Brilliant, Alabama, runs the blog The Bitter Socialite and has appeared on the Food Network as part of Food Network Star and Comeback Kitchen.

The art exhibition, named “White Trash,” is on display until November 13 and showcases Barnett’s collection of more than 60 works of art made from repurposed materials and found objects. In his signature pieces, Barnett utilizes manmade items — sometimes literally found in the trash — such as paper, chicken wire, makeup, and old cell phones combined with natural objects such as branches, moss, and egg shells. He arranges the objects on canvas and pours white paint over to secure them, giving the pieces their cheeky name.

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“I believe in utilizing industrial materials to create beautiful artwork that blurs the lines between organic and inorganic so that they seamlessly flow together,” Barnett says. “I feel it is equally important to highlight the integrity of the existing space while salvaging original components and rethinking them in a new and innovative manner. White paint symbolizes purity, giving a fresh outlook to discarded materials and therefore creating a symbolic item from trash.”

In addition to the White Trash pieces, the exhibit also includes complementary works, including a colorful birthday cake made from spray foam; graffiti-style paintings; and cultural statement pieces.

“There is a very personal and intimate approach that I take when working with objects from a specific place or person,” Barnett says of his work. “It’s about respecting what exists while finding a unique way to showcase it in a new light. Great artwork comes from self-confidence, cultivating the eye, and a natural common sense about living life. It’s about finding beauty at every turn and creating something that draws the eye towards it.”

The Carnegie Visual Art Center is open Tuesday – Saturday, and admission to the exhibit is free.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

8 months ago

Order free pizza to your polling place while waiting to vote

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Did you know you can order free pizza to be delivered to your polling place while you’re waiting to vote today? If there’s a long line at your polling place and you’re starting to get a little hungry, there’s an organization called Pizza to the Polls that’s delivering free pizzas to voters, volunteers, journalists, and anyone else at the polling place.

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pizza delivery polling place
Pizza to the Polls/Instagram

All you have to do is visit polls.pizza, upload a photo of the line at your polling place, estimate how long you think the wait is, and submit the request. Pizza to the Polls will then contact the closest pizza delivery place, and free pizzas should be on the way in 90 minutes or less!

text message pizza deliveryThis morning, Pizza to the Polls delivered 10 Dominos pizzas to the downtown polling location at the Birmingham Courthouse. The organization has thus far delivered 38,646 pizzas in 46 states and to 1,670 polling places. Pizza to the Polls is a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative founded in 2016 with a simple mission: to deliver food to crowded polling locations.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

8 months ago

The best places to see fall foliage in Alabama

(Ford Nixon/Contributed)

The fall foliage in Alabama is starting to peak this week in North Alabama and next week in central Alabama. Our state tends to get a later leaf peak, with colors at their best end of October through the first two weeks of November. With cooler temperatures and some sunny days ahead, it’s the perfect excuse to get out and see the changing fall leaves. Here are nine places to visit to see some beautiful fall foliage in Alabama.

9 Spots to View Fall Foliage in Alabama

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Cheaha Mountain

girl on rock overlooking mountain
Ojas Gokhale/Contributed

Cheaha Mountain is the tallest natural point in the state of Alabama. It’s a go-to spot to leaf peep. With panoramic views from several hikes and observation points in the park, you’ll see sweeping views of Alabama fall foliage. Pulpit Rock is a popular short hike and viewpoint in the park.

Bankhead National Forest

The Bankhead National Forest is one of the most scenic spots in the state, with more than 90 miles of trails through the Sipsey Wilderness. Also known as the “land of a thousand waterfalls,” you’ll see red maples, yellow poplars, oak, and birch trees around waterfalls and on the banks of the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River.

Desoto Falls

desoto falls with alabama fall foliage
SoulGrown Alabama/Instagram

Nothing says scenic like beautiful fall leaves surrounding a rushing waterfall. This 104-foot waterfall near Mentone plunges over a cliff into a canyon surrounded by steep cliffs and tall trees decked out in color. The lake at the top of the falls is also a great spot to catch a reflection of the fall foliage.

Little River Canyon

This canyon in North Alabama gets some of the best fall color in the area. Drive the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway and stop at the numerous scenic overlooks where you can see the fall foliage in the canyon. Little River Falls also is a picturesque spot.

Covered Bridges of Blount County

covered bridge with alabama fall foliage
Visit North AL/Instagram

You don’t have to go to Vermont to see covered bridges — you can see them right here in Alabama in Blount County. The area has three of the state’s 13 covered bridges, called Easley, Horton Mill, and Swann. When you see them surrounded by fall leaves, you’d never know you weren’t in the Northeast.

Lake Guntersville

This North Alabama lake — that’s actually a part of the Tennessee River — is a favorite spot for boating and fishing in the summer and leaf peeping in the fall. If you’re lucky, you might see one of the area’s bald eagles flying over the serene lake.

Oak Mountain

lake with fall leaves
Ojas Gokhale/Contributed

The best place to spot the changing leaves in Birmingham is at Oak Mountain State Park. See the reflection of the fall foliage in the lake or hike King’s Chair to overlook the palette of red, orange, and yellow that blankets the mountain.

Monte Sano State Park

If you’re in or near Huntsville, head to Monte Sano State Park to catch the fall foliage. With 22 miles of hiking and biking trails, there are plenty of opportunities to admire the scenery. The best trails to see the changing oak trees are the North and South Plateau Loop trails.

Mentone

road with fall foliage
Ford Nixon/Contributed

This adorable little mountain town on Lookout Mountain is the quintessential fall getaway. Rent a cabin for a weekend or spend a day strolling the streets of the quaint downtown amidst falling leaves. There are also plenty of places to take a scenic drive in the area.

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

8 months ago

10 Alabama fall beers you need to try this season

Oktoberfest beer from Cahaba Brewing Company (photo courtesy of J&M Photography and Design)

Autumn is upon us and so is fall beer season. This is the time that Alabama breweries get creative with their seasonal beers, incorporating favorite fall flavors of pumpkin spice, maple, and apple. From Oktoberfest styles perfect for sippin’ outside to darker brews guaranteed to warm you up, here are 10 Alabama fall beers you must try this season.

10 Alabama Fall Beers

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1. Frankenhammer by Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville

Yellowhammer Brewing’s annual Halloween release, this spicy, dark red Belgian ale is aged on toasted cherry wood that has a slight chocolate roast taste to it. You’ll also want to try the Bride of Frankenhammer, another seasonal fall beer that takes the original Frankenhammer beer and ages it with cherries in red wine barrels.

frankenhammer fall beer yellowhammer brewing
Yellowhammer Brewing/Contributed

2. There Will Be Blood from Fairhope Brewing Company in Fairhope

Fairhope Brewing Company took their beloved Causeway IPA and added blood orange puree to it to give it a fall twist and a spooky name. It’s juicy, fruity, and hoppy, making this the perfect beer for when the weather is still transitioning from warm to cool. With an ABV of 8.2%, it’s on the stronger side of these Alabama fall beers.

alabama fall beer fairhope brewing
Jonathan Weiss/Contributed

3. Oktoberfest by Cahaba Brewing Company in Birmingham

This Oktoberfest-style beer has become a favorite fall brew for Birmingham beer drinkers. Cahaba offers a twist on the standard style by brewing its Oktoberfest with continental malts, a generous amount of noble hops, and a unique twist on the fermenting yeast. Raise a glass and say “Prost!”

oktoberfest beer from cahaba brewing company
J&M Photography and Design/Contributed

4. Southern Bumpkin by Red Clay Brewing Company in Opelika

A true Southern beer, this brown ale gets an earthy characteristic from sweet potatoes added to the mash. It’s easily drinkable and packs a punch with 7.8% ABV. Red Clay also released their Lakeside Caramel Apple, a semi-sweet cider with flavors of caramel.

pumpkin beer red clay brewing
Red Clay Brewing Co/Instagram

5. Berried Away from Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville

If you think of warm berry pie when you think of fall, Salty Nut has the brew for you. Berried Away is fermented on blackberries and blueberries with natural spices and has a sweet vanilla finish with a touch of cinnamon. You’ll also want to try the Pumpkin Ryed or Dye, a Belgian style rye pale ale flavored with pumpkin.

fall beers salty nut brewery
Salty Nut Brewery/Instagram

6. Maple Cakes from Trim Tab Brewing in Birmingham

Dark beer lovers rejoice — Trim Tab has released the perfect fall beer for you. Maple Cakes is an imperial stout brewed with maple syrup, molasses, and walnuts. Just imagine you’re cozied up around a campfire in the woods somewhere drinking this belly-warming beer.

alabama fall beer trim tab brewing
Trim Tab Brewing/Instagram

7. Oktoberfest from Serda Brewing in Mobile

This craft beer microbrewery in downtown Mobile specializes in German beers, so it only makes sense that they offer an Oktoberfest beer each fall. Their version is a traditional Marzen style, which is rich in malt with a balance of clean, hop bitterness.

serda brewing alabama fall beer
Serda Brewing/Contributed

8. Steampunkin from Rocket Republic in Huntsville

Here’s one for the pumpkin beer lovers. This traditional pumpkin ale features a pumpkin spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s like pumpkin pie in a glass! Rocket Republic also has a Cosmic Cookie (oatmeal cookie) beer and rotating seasonal ciders.

Rocket Republic/Instagram

9. Tears of My Enemies from Monday Night Brewing in Birmingham

This imperial milk stout is aged in apple brandy barrels, giving it a warm fall feel in addition to the flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate, and a slight smokiness. Another fall beer to try from Monday Night is The Tiger That Killed My Father, a vanilla-flavored imperial stout aged in maple bourbon barrels.

fall beer from monday night brewing company
Monday Night Brewing/Contributed

10. Baseball Bats & Boogeymen from Singin’ River Brewing Co. in Florence

Singin’ River Brewing Co. makes a pumpkin stout instead of the traditional pumpkin ale. This dark and rich beer is made with Fairytale pumpkins and a handful of pumpkin spice. It’s perfectly balanced so as not to overwhelm the beer with the flavor of pumpkin. Singin’ River also has other fall beers, including an Oktoberfest.

pumpkin beer singin river brewery
Singin’ River Brewery/Instagram


Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.