Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Livin' it up in Dixie {stories, antiques, music & Christmas}




What: Stories Under the Stars

When: Thursday, July 27, 6:30-8:30pm (gates open at 5:30pm)
       
Where: Burritt on the Mountain, 3101 Burritt Drive, Huntsville, AL 35801

Cost: $10

Parking: free

Weather: mid 90's and clear

Website: click here


Enjoy a beautiful evening overlooking Huntsville as you listen to true stories from local storytellers.  There's even a "wildcard spot" if you have a story to share!  Bring your camp chairs and money for the food trucks.

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What: Genealogy Antique Roadshow

When: Thursday, July 27, 7-8pm
     
Where: Huntsville Main Public Library

Cost: free

Website: click here


A certified appraiser will be available to appraise one or two personal items.  Dr. Marchelos has some serious credentials so if you are eager to find out if those giant glass grapes from 1971 are worth anything (no way, Moma!) head down to the Library to find out!

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What: WC Handy Music Festival

When: Now through July 30
     
Where: Florence, AL

Cost: varies by event but lots of free options

Website: click here


For 36 years, Florence has celebrated the Father of the Blues, WC Handy. There are all kinds of competitions, concerts and meals you can be a part of.  Check out their website for a schedule of all the fun!  

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What: Historic Mooresville Christmas Home Tour & Progressive Dinner

When: Saturday, December 9, 2-7pm
     
Where: Historic Mooresville, located right off I-565 about 10 minutes west of the airport

Cost: $75 per person

Parking: free & provided in the front of town

Website: click here


I didn't even know about Historic Mooresville until about 6 years ago when I went there for an architectural class I was taking and I fell in love with its quaintness!  Founded in 1818, Mooresville is often called "Alabama's Williamsburg."  For the Home Tour, residents open their homes and you can stroll through to see all the Christmas decorations.  There are also several shops open for Christmas goodies.  The Progressive Dinner sounds delish- Chicken with Applewood Bacon, Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes, Fresh Breads and Carmel Apple Pie.  Tickets go fast to this event, so grab yours soon!

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Recurring Weekly Events:

What: Concert in the Park

When: Mondays, 6:30-8:30pm (last concert is August 7!)
   
Where: Huntsville Museum of Art outdoor stage

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free, park along the street or in the surrounding business lots

Website: click here

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What: Park It Like It's Hot Food Truck Lunches

When: Wednesdays, 11am- 2pm
     
Where: Lowe Mill, under the water tower

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

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What: The Greene Street Market

When: Thursdays, May-October, 4-8pm

Where: corner of Greene Street and Eustis Avenue in Downtown Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: should be free on surrounding streets and lots, but take cash just in case

Website: click here

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What: Village of Providence Artisans & Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, April-November,  8am- noon
     
Where: Village of Providence Park on Town Center Drive, Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Urban Deliciousness

A couple of weeks ago I shared a new restaurant at Bridgestreet- Urban Cookhouse.  Chris and I met some friends there for dinner last night and were not disappointed!


The best place to park is that small lot between Belk and Bravo and on a Monday night we didn't have a problem finding a spot.  The interior has that modern farmhouse vibe but we enjoyed sitting on their patio.

Chris and I couldn't decide what we wanted so we each got something different and shared.  Hands down the star was the Urban Cowboy sandwich (pictured right)!  I'm talking "best sandwich in Huntsville" people!  Their menu describes it as "Lime-marinated steak, caramelized onions & peppers, pepperjack, aioli on a French roll" and I absolutely loved it!

Chris got the El Cubano that was grilled ham, chipotle-braised pork, housemade pickles, provolone, and mustard, grilled on white bread.  We both really enjoyed it too but it was a tad too much mustard for me.  Part of Urban Cookhouse's charm is all their smoked meats and on the El Cubano you could really taste the smoked meat.  I also loved the housemade pickles! 

We both got Hot Cheddar Pasta as a side but it wasn't as great as I had hoped, though I would get it again. 


We also shared an order of Millie Ray's Orange Rolls- they're a little sweet and a little orange-y.  They were ok, but I'd say the sandwiches are certainly the star!

Our friends were super nice and bought us a Half-Baked Cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup all served in a mini skillet!  You see why we are their friends!  The cookie takes about 20 minutes, so order with your meal and they'll bring it out in these cute holders when you're done with your meal.

As you can tell, I'd totally recommend Urban Cookhouse!  Another great part?  The sandwiches are all about $8-$9 and come with a side.  You can barely eat at McDonald's for less than that these days!  I can't wait to go back and try another delicious sandwich!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Happy Anniversary

My fabulous parents are celebrating 43 years of marriage today!  I couldn't be more thankful for their impact in my life.  They are my best friends, confidants, prayer warriors, examples of faith, examples of love and fixers of everything from dumplins to broken hearts to broken washing machines.  I daily see their friendship and love for each other lived out in practical ways.  They are the glue that holds the Forester-Hayes-Brooks clan together and we couldn't love our Moma and Daddy more.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Livin' it up in Dixie {meals & mulch}



What: Battle of the Food Truck All-Stars

When: Friday, June 21, 5-9pm
     
Where: Church Street

Entrance Fee: free plus cost of food and drink

Parking: free, park along the street or in the surrounding business lots

Weather: high 90's

Website: click here

From Asian to BBQ to Bacon to Organic...come vote for your favorite local food truck!

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What: Mulch Giveaway

When: Saturday, July 22 8am-12pm (also first and third Saturdays through October)
     
Where: Huntsville Botanical Garden, CASA Garden Entrance

Entrance Fee: free but donation to the Botanical Garden is appreciated

Website: click here

You can't beat free!  For all you yard-working' maniacs, head over to the Botanical Gardens for free mulch.  Unfortunately, this is the last year for this program, so go get some while you can!

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What: Downtown Dish Food Tour

When: Saturdays, 11am-1:30pm
     
Where: Downtown Huntsville

Entrance Fee: $49

Website: click here

If you have an out-of-town guest coming and you're looking for a way to show-off Huntsville, consider the Downtown Dish Food Tour! As you stroll around downtown Huntsville, you'll get to stop at 6 local restaurants and taste their unique offerings.   Check out their website for tickets and exact tasting locations

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Recurring Weekly Events:



What: The Greene Street Market

When: Thursdays, May-October, 4-8pm

Where: corner of Greene Street and Eustis Avenue in Downtown Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: should be free on surrounding streets and lots, but take cash just in case

Website: click here

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What: Village of Providence Artisans & Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, April-November,  8am- noon
     
Where: Village of Providence Park on Town Center Drive, Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here




Monday, July 17, 2017

We escaped!


We had the absolute best time with our Sunday School class Friday night and I'm proud to report our group escaped from our room, The Informant, at Huntsville Escape Rooms!


Once locked in (no worries- I didn't feel claustrophobic!)  we searched for clues and solved puzzles eventually unlocking the door to escape.  We came close to beating the room record- we were out with 16 minutes and 3 seconds to spare!  The two other groups in our class took the whole 60 minutes, so we might have bragged about our time a little bit.

I'd totally recommend going with family, friends or coworkers!  I do think it would be awkward to do it with strangers so I'd suggest you go with the max number of people each room will hold.

Chris and I are so thankful for such a friendly, Christ-centered church family and a thriving Sunday School class!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Livin' it up in Dixie {local fun & a road trip}




What: Movies in the Park
       
Where: Big Spring Park East

Cost: free

Parking: free in surrounding lots

Website: click here

Weather: low 90's, possible storms

This week's feature is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, another movie I haven't seen!  If you prefer to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it's playing the same night at Providence's Movie in the Park.  The movie starts at sundown, but get to the park early to enjoy the food vendors and live music.  Plus, the last time we went, it was fun to just watch people!  Lawn chairs, picnic and puppies are welcome!

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What: Art Walk
     
Where: Downtown Huntsville Square

Cost: free

Parking: free in surrounding lots

Website: click here

Weather: low 90's, possible storms

Art Walk is a Huntsville tradition loved by many!  If shopping local is your thing, then this event is for you!  I love how Downtown is bustling with so many new shops, sights and restaurants!  Plus, it's never to early to shop for Christmas, so you might find some local treasures!
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What: Relax. Play. Ride.
     
Where: Downtown Huntsville Square

Cost: free

Parking: free in surrounding lots

Website: click here

Have you seen those bike rental stations around downtown?  For a a few dollars an hour, you can rent a bike and roll around town!  The BlueBike program  has teamed up with artists from Lowe Mill and have placed decorated pianos and chairs at the bike rental stations for folks to enjoy...or host a concert.  It's quirky but so creative!
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What: Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre
     
Where: 8204 Hwy 100, Nashville, TN 37221

Cost: $30-$60 person

Website: click here

Located just 2 hours from Huntsville, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre is certainly a road trip worth taking!  When I was researching it months ago and saw they were performing Sister Act this summer I decided to splurge and surprise Chris with a day trip since he loves that movie.  We went on Sunday since they have a lunch performance and we wanted it to be a day trip.

We got there at noon for the lunch buffet, but if buffets aren't your thing, they offer a small plates menu also.

The stage is "in the round" meaning it's surrounded by tables on all sides.  We had a great seat on the middle level.




We got our money's worth at the buffet but it was not the star of the day...

...the show was!

We have seen a couple other dinner theatre shows but were blown away by the talent at Chaffin's Barn!  The show lasted about 2.5 hours but I never once got bored.  Sister Act had such high energy, fantastic dancing and singing and tons of laughter!

Their upcoming shows are Mamma Mia!, Smoke on the Mountain and It's a Wonderful Life: The Musical.  I think kids would love Chaffin's Barn but do consider checking out the shows like you would a movie rating.  I'd say Sister Act was like a PG movie.

Our day trip was a great success and we look back to going back to another show!





Recurring Weekly Events:

What: Concert in the Park

When: Mondays, 6:30-8:30pm
   
Where: Huntsville Museum of Art outdoor stage

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free, park along the street or in the surrounding business lots

Website: click here

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What: Park It Like It's Hot Food Truck Lunches

When: Wednesdays, 11am- 2pm
     
Where: Lowe Mill, under the water tower

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

_____________________________________
What: The Greene Street Market

When: Thursdays, May-October, 4-8pm

Where: corner of Greene Street and Eustis Avenue in Downtown Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: should be free on surrounding streets and lots, but take cash just in case

Website: click here

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What: Village of Providence Artisans & Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, April-November,  8am- noon
     
Where: Village of Providence Park on Town Center Drive, Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

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What: Concerts on the Dock

When: Fridays, 6-9pm

Where: Lowe Mill under the water tower

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: $5 suggested donation

Website: click here


Monday, July 10, 2017

DIY Wall Decor

If you remember from some other posts, I've been able to decorate my office over the last year.  We have our "Win Wall" where we track the year's events and numbers...


And we have our leader wall with snapshots of all our volunteers...

The only wall I haven't tackled was the one above my desk.  I've been ready to replace these posters with something that matched the rest of the office vibe.



Well...drumroll...the posters are gone!  I'd been seeing an idea on Pinterest for a while and a few weeks ago, bought my supplies and now the wall looks like this...


I bought 12x12 cork squares in two tones at Hobby Lobby and spent an hour or so cutting them into hexagons (after watching an Youtube video on how to cut a perfect hexagon). My goal was a freeform, asymmetrical design so after a few dozen Command Hooks, I just love the new look!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Office Organization

As a ministry assistant, I depend greatly on strong organizational skills to be productive and not lose my mind.  When I started my job last year, I was introduced to Asana an awesome website that keeps our office really organized and on the same page.  It's basically an online to-do list where you can have private tasks listed by due date and more importantly team tasks you can assign each other with due dates.

For example, for our weekly Wednesday night student meeting, we have a project that lists all that needs to be done with each task assigned to someone on our team.  The best part is for yearly events, we can just re-open last year's event to see all our notes and what needs to be done.  So for every Fall Retreat, we don't start from scratch each year with "what needs to be done?"  Instead, we reopen last year's Fall Retreat and just update the due date.


I also love that I can have tasks that only I see.  I can set repeating weekly tasks for all the things I do that the whole team doesn't need to see.  I also use it for silly things like- "don't forget you have a frozen meal in the freezer."

Asana is my brain at work.

I'm so used to it, I'm considering using it in my personal life!  It beats my current process of emailing myself a million times a day with reminders!  Asana offers an app plus its free!

My next new organizational hack is my new calendar.  I've been visiting the Happy Planner at Hobby Lobby for years.  The Happy Planner is like a scrapbook/planner in one and they are so cute!  BUT...they are expensive and bulky and didn't seem like the right fit for me at work.

Instead, I got a $5 calendar at Wal-mart and made an insert that matched my office.


One of the techniques used in the Happy Planner is using washi tape to color-code events.  Washi tape is that decorative paper tape that's all over the place.  


For $2 worth of washi tape, I turned my cheap Wal-Mart into my own happy planner!

Here's my old calendar...


And my new happy planner with color-coded events!


Who knows if I'll be able to sustain all this neatness, but I'm going to give it my best shot!  Happy organization, everyone!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Livin' it Up in Dixie {Claustrophobia & Cookhouse}




What: Huntsville Escape Room
       
Where: 604-C Madison Street, Huntsville, 35801

Cost: $25 per person

Parking: free

Website: click here


When I first heard about escape rooms, my first thought was I'm claustrophobic!  But from what others have told me, the rooms don't trigger claustrophobia.  It's basically like the game of Clue where you answer clues to get out of the room.  Each room has a different theme (prison, psych ward, etc.) and is for 7 teens/adults.  The timer gives you 60 minutes to escape (but you aren't actually locked in).  Chris and I are going for the first time in a couple of weeks with our Sunday School class, so stay posted to see if we escape!

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What: Urban Cookhouse
   
Where: Bridgestreet, located behind Altar'd State

Website: click here

This new hot spot at Bridgestreet opened last week and is focused on buying local, fresh ingredients.  Their slogan is "From Farm to Fire to Table" since their meats are smoked or grilled on a Big Green Egg.  From the "Urban Cowboy" (lime-marinated steak, caramelized onions, pepperjack on a French roll) to the "Berry Good" salad (seasonal berries, tomatoes, spiced pecans, feta, citrus vinaigrette), there's sure to be something for everyone!  Their warm orange rolls are calling my name too.  Let me know if you go and what you love!



Recurring Weekly Events:

What: Concert in the Park

When: Mondays, 6:30-8:30pm
   
Where: Huntsville Museum of Art outdoor stage

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free, park along the street or in the surrounding business lots

Website: click here

_____________________________________
What: Park It Like It's Hot Food Truck Lunches

When: Wednesdays, 11am- 2pm
     
Where: Lowe Mill, under the water tower

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

_____________________________________
What: The Greene Street Market

When: Thursdays, May-October, 4-8pm

Where: corner of Greene Street and Eustis Avenue in Downtown Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: should be free on surrounding streets and lots, but take cash just in case

Website: click here

_____________________________________

What: Village of Providence Artisans & Farmers Market

When: Saturdays, April-November,  8am- noon
     
Where: Village of Providence Park on Town Center Drive, Huntsville

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: free

Website: click here

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What: Concerts on the Dock

When: Fridays, 6-9pm

Where: Lowe Mill under the water tower

Entrance Fee: free

Parking: $5 suggested donation

Website: click here