my fall downfall

I used to not yearn for fall. While fall is fun—back to school, football season, parties, friends—I never felt I could enjoy it to the max as long as I was in school. There was just too much to do and never enough time to do it. Even with football season, I still had anxiety about all the work that always had to be done once the game was over. I’m sure I was so much fun to be around.

And I never saw what the big deal was about the weather. Ok, it’s nice and cool and all that, but just a few weeks in I’m ready to relaxing by the pool again sipping some sort of tropical cocktail.

But I think the Alabama heat has gotten to me, and I am so ready for sweaters and jackets and slow-cooked stews and beer and tailgating food and boots with cozy socks and pumpkin everything.
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When it’s fall, I eat, and I drink. I tailgate; I am lazy. I’m cold and want to do nothing but cuddle. Ergo, I often eat very badly on football weekends and don’t exercise much to make up for it. Ergo, I gain weight. Oh, and then comes the holiday season.

Not this fall! I am promising myself it will not happened. And hopefully it will be a bit easier this year as I have developed two new workout loves: 1) kickboxing and 2) Pure Barre.

Let’s start with the first.
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I’ve got a membership at the University’s Rec Center, and I love Princess’s kickboxing class on Mondays at 5:15 p.m. It’s a hard, grueling workout that leaves you feeling beat while also quite victorious because you made it. I never look as attractive as the woman above (we also don’t get the cool gloves in this class—we just punch air), but there is something that makes me feel like such a badass working on my jabs, hooks and uppercuts. After just a month of this class, my legs and arms definitely saw a huge difference, and now I can do squats like nobody’s business.

Now the second.
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I had long been interested in giving Pure Barre a shot, simply because the word “barre” was in the title, and I love dance-related classes. I then heard this was not a dance class … so I sort of changed my mind.

Then a friend of mine said she had tried it and suggested I do, too. So I did. The first class was probably one of the hardest workouts I had ever done. I was sore everywhere—places I didn’t know I could be sore. And I also knew I had not gotten the full workout since I was a newb and some of it takes awhile to figure out. But I felt amazing and couldn’t wait to go back.

So I went back for a second class and decided to go for it: I got the new client special ($100 for 1 month of unlimited classes).

Pure Barre is an investment. The regular price for unlimited classes for 1 month is $225. (What??) But this is a strengthening class that works on giving you a dancer’s body, and the after-Pure Barre high is addicting. You learn how to control, define and strengthen muscles using the tiniest of movements. And immediately after working those muscles, you stretch them out to create the long, lean muscles that dancers have. With each class I attend, I get better and stronger. I’ve gone to about eight classes, and I can already see and feel a significant difference in the shape of my body.

Those are my two favorite workouts right now, and who knows, maybe I’ll earn some flat abs instead of a tummy this fall.

Oh, and PS – I love going to DAZE with Lillian at the Rec on Wednesday evenings. DAZE is sort of like Zumba, but more hip-hoppy. SO fun.

my top 5 favorite alabama beers

Any of you who know me know I love beer—probably a bit too much. For me, there is just no better way to enjoy a hot summer evening or an Alabama football game on a fall afternoon than with a cold brew, preferably a local one. And in Alabama that’s pretty easy because this state has some fabulous local beer. So I’m rounding up my favorites right now. Some of these are seasonal and a lot of these are brown ales, for which I apologize in advance, but hey—I’m just being honest here!

So without further ado, here’s my top five favorite Alabama-brewed beers.

1. Good People Brown Ale | Good People Brewing Co., Birmingham
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I absolutely love a good brown ale, and this is crisp and full-bodied with a subtle sweetness.

2. Truck Stop Honey Brown | Back Forty Beer Co., Gadsden
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Did I mention I love a good brown ale? Back Forty’s is truly phenomenal. It’s that honey flavor that sets it apart, making it delicious, sweet and refreshing. It’s sort of a rarity to see it a grocery store because it usually flies off the shelf. We often have to run over to our specialty beer shop to get it, which James often does just for me. :D

3. Seasonal Peach Wheat | Back Forty Brewing Co., Gadsden
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My gosh this beer is good. It’s like drinking peach cobbler. Well, it’s not that sweet, but the fresh peach flavor is bright and on point. It’s seasonal and only sold in bombers. I suggest you grab it if you see it, though the season is probably over now.

4. Long Branch Scottish Ale | Avondale Brewing Co., Birmingham
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This beauty is one of Avondale’s flagship brews. It’s dark in color, rich in flavor with caramel undertones and a buttery aftertaste. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

5. Leadbelly Peanut Butter Porter | Beer Engineers, Birmingham
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Beware: This is a heavy beer! It’s 13 percent ABV (jeez!) so it’s probably best to split this one with someone like, say, your husband. But it’s very interesting. This one is up on my top right now because of how unique it is. It smells like a jar of peanut butter, though the flavor isn’t as prominent as the aroma. This is completely decadent and divine—a perfect dessert!

There are others I simply love but didn’t name: Good People Oatmeal Stout, Back Forty Naked Pig Pale Ale, Avondale Vanillaphant and Streetcar Kolsch to name a few. What are your favorites?

at my desk

I spend about 40 hours a week in my office. I love my job, but I also love little ways to brighten up my busy routine. So here’s a quick round up of my favorite office supplies and accessories.

1. Rifle Paper Co. Notebooks
I found mind at Target (which was amazing), but here’s an updated version of the Rifle notebooks that are simply a joy to use to take notes, keep track of my to-do lists, etc.
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2. Cute folders
The folders I have are bright and colorful ones I found on clearance at Anthropologie a few months ago, but I have been eyeing these Nate Berkus ones at Target. I love the gold—so glam! They’re perfect for keeping loose papers organized in style.
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3. Chic writing utensils
I actually followed this tutorial by Hank & Hunt. I used washi tape (also found at Target) to cover plain ol’ number 2 pencils to give a bit more style to jotting down meetings in my calendar.
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4. Printstagrams
They’re so cute and little and a lovely way to add a personal touch to your workspace.
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extremely simple huevos rancheros

Sunday morning I woke up with a sweet tooth. I ended up satisfying it with a small bowl of granola with milk and a drizzle of honey. I thought breakfast was over until I saw James reach into the fridge and pull out the tortillas, salsa and eggs. I panicked, knowing my darn sweet tooth was going to make me miss out. You can’t eat breakfast twice, I thought!

Wrong! After tons of convincing (JK not really. I was very easily convinced), I decided that Round 2 Breakfasts are fine in moderation. So together, following James’ lead, we constructed a very simple but delicious version of huevos rancheros. No beans, nothing fancy. Just eggs, tortillas, salsa and cheese.

If you’re craving huevos rancheros, and you think they might be too hard or complicated for quick and easy breakfast – think again!

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Simple and easy huevos rancheros
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 eggs
4 corn tortillas
1 cup mild or medium chunky tomato salsa (we used what we had in the fridge — Pace)
Few dashes hot sauce (i.e. Tapatio or Cholula. I think we used this Cholula)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium sized skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling pan to coat.

When oil is heated, dip both sides of a corn tortilla in the oil and let cook about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil as needed. (FYI, somehow my oil is never hot enough when I start this process so I always waste 1 or 2 tortillas that are just saturated with oil. Don’t beat yourself up.)

In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil, swirling pan to coat (add more oil if needed). Once oil is heated, crack four eggs into pan. Cook over medium-high heat until whites are set and yolks are runny.

While eggs are cooking, combine salsa and hot sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until heated through.

To plate, top one tortilla with one egg and about 1 to 2 tablespoons salsa. Top with another tortilla, another egg and another 1 to 2 tablespoons salsa. Garnish with shredded cheese. Serve immediately.

the best iced coffee i’ve ever had

Right now I am drinking a subpar, extremely bitter iced coffee (with an added shot) from Starbucks. It’s ok, and it’s doing its job. I can’t ask for much more. Well, I thought I couldn’t ask for much more. Then I visited Lincoln, Nebraska.

Our sweet hosts—who just got married, yay!—left us a goodie bag when we checked into our hotel, and in that bag was a list of places nearby that they recommended we try. James and I got in very late that night, so I just skimmed over it as I was definitely more excited about sleep than the culinary possibilities around us. But the next morning, I woke up, and my mind immediately went to that list. I quickly located it, and the first thing that called my name?: The Mill Coffee & Tea.

You guys.
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Just across the street from our hotel, The Mill couldn’t have been closer. But I was in a bad mood, as I often am before I drink coffee (poor James). So I irritably walked in, waited in line, and just asked for an iced coffee, because I like iced coffee.
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I took one sip and immediately apologized to James for ever being in a bad mood and swore to him that this day would only be full of good things.

This cold-brewed iced coffee was so full-bodied and so smooth and not the slightest bit diluted by water or ice or whatever else tends to happen to not-so-awesome iced coffees. Every subtle and sweet undertone gracefully made itself known, and honestly, I just didn’t realize how others—who dare call themselves iced coffee—simply fall incredibly flat.
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I returned twice more for my new favorite before we left town. I miss it so much.

Congrats to Jacob and Allison!
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Y’all had such a beautiful wedding, and we are so grateful we got to be there. Oh, and thanks for introducing me to what will now be the standard for all others like it!

Mill on Urbanspoon

anniversary trip part 3 | bay st. louis

I know what you’re thinking. (Shut up about your anniversary!)

Sorry! One last quick post before I fall even more behind. On the same day we visited Lazy Magnolia, we started and ended our day in Bay St. Louis, a lovely coastal town just about an hour from Gautier. Like much of the Mississippi coast, Bay St. Louis was hurt badly by Katrina. But it is so nice to see it push hard to bring itself back. This was my first time, and I’d love to go back as soon as I am able!

We started with breakfast at the Mockingbird Cafe.
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Then we wandered around doing some antiquing and shopping before a boutique owner asked us if we were from around the area. When she found out we weren’t, she urged us to go by the tourism office and get us some Magnolia Money. It’s just lovely! In an effort to boost tourism in the county, out-of-towners get vouchers that are as good as cash. We first ran over to Lazy Mag, then we came back to claim our MM—$20 each!

Of course, the restaurant that caught our eye didn’t accept it, but that was probably because it had only been open a month. James recalled a restaurant that he and his family used to go to when he was young—Dock of the Bay. We knew that Katrina washed it away, but we weren’t sure where it had been. So James asked the bartender, and the response?

“Right here.”

So we decided to stay at The Blind Tiger, a hip little restaurant right on the water. Guests sit indoors but the outdoor bay breeze blows through. We ordered too much food and a couple of drinks.
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Check out my grouper sandwich with chipotle mayo. Amazing!

Then we spent that Magnolia Money! New PJ shorts and cute little Kitchen Papers place mats from a boutique.
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Tada! Crab on Kraft.

This truly was a great anniversary trip.

Oh, and we finished off the day with wine and Veep.
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Check out the rest of our trip:
anniversary trip part 1 | what we ordered: ole biloxi schooner
anniversary trip part 2 | lazy magnolia

Mockingbird Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Blind Tiger on Urbanspoon

weekending

Fish and chips happened, as well as this yumminess. One of our friends made us a margarita pizza, roasted chicken pizza with lemon and capers, and a pepperoni and mushroom pizza. So good.

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We hung out with dear friends, did some brewing (and made plans for our next brew), watched the first episode of season two of The Newsroom, and hung out with this guy:
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I know it’s blurry but could he be any cuter?