Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We Did Do More than Eat in Birmingham. There was Swimming Too. Lots of Swimming.

When I was a kid, my grandmother took each of her grandchildren on a trip. Just her and whichever
one of use whose turn it was. The rules were we could stay in a hotel but only if we went somewhere within driving distance. Or we could fly but only if we went somewhere we had family we could stay with. Everyone else went to either Houston (flight) or Branson (hotel). I was different though. My trip was the summer after seventh grade, after we'd done a unit in Arkansas History learning all about the state parks. I wanted to go to Murfreesboro to dig for diamonds.

Here's the thing though: Arkansas summers are long and they are hot and digging for diamonds in that weather can be summed up in one word: MISERABLE. We found some jasper, bought some trinkets in a gift shop, and spent the rest of our getaway in the hotel pool. That being said, I KNOW that taking a trip with kids, a trip that involves a hotel with a pool, means you'll end up spending a huge chunk of time by that pool.

And that's exactly what we did in Birmingham.

I loaded up the kids Saturday morning and told them we were going to a "different" Target and that, if they were good, there might be a surprise later. We were across the Alabama line two and a half hours later before they began to smell a rat. "I think we're going on a vacation," J told me.

We settled in for lunch at Momma Goldberg's Deli and while J was at the soda machine, someone tapped him on the shoulder. It was his Gigi! We planned the trip more than a month ago and I managed to keep it a secret from the kids the whole time. As they ate their sandwiches, I revealed part two of the surprise: we were staying in a hotel (you'd think we don't travel as much as we do with how OMGEXCITED my kids get over hotels). A hotel with a pool. AN INDOOR POOL. That might - might - have been a better surprise than Gigi.

Needless to say, much of our time in Birmingham was spent at the pool. There's a good chance that on Day Two I poured a couple Lime-a-Rita's in my favorite cup and tried to pretend I was in Vegas (didn't work).

We did do a few things other than just playing in the pool though.

When we first began talking about this trip, I did what I do best: I researched places to eat.  I knew I wanted to eat at the Irondale Cafe and I also wanted to try Momma Goldberg's Deli and Pinkberry Yogurt (no Pinkberry in Memphis.  I KNOW!)  We never did make it to Pinkberry but we actually met up with my mom at Momma Goldberg's in Homewood. 

The nachos are supposed to be "world famous" and while I appreciated the idea (Doritos with melted pepperjack and sliced jalapenos), they were easily something I could've made on my own.

I suppose I'll forever be indebted to Momma Goldberg for the idea.  The sandwich I had wasn't anything special -- in fact, I think Lenny's subs are better.  I guess I'd grade Momma a B+.  Good food but didn't quite live up to the hype.

Saturday night we had dinner at a little Italian cafe that was chosen because their Saturday special (large two topping pizza with four drinks) was only $14 and they had cheap wine.  Regina George wasn't thrilled with it but, these days, she isn't thrilled with much:

Sunday, we headed to Irondale where we didn't just eat at the cafe, we also checked out the cool train yard.  The boys were definite fans.
That afternoon we headed to a state park to check out their wildlife rehabilitation center.  They would've been better off calling it a bird hospital.  It was Lame with a capital L.  How you going to have a wildlife center with no wildlife?  We did walk on the trail a little bit and, oh yeah, K1 saw a koala.  In the Alabama woods.  A miracle, y'all!

The rest of our time was spent - where else? - at the pool.
Oh!  Guess what I had for dinner that night?

They have Whataburger in Alabama, y'all!  Mmm.  Grilled onions and grease.  My kind of dinner.

We left Monday morning to tears.  J especially wasn't prepared to leave his Gigi.  But we had a great weekend while it lasted!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Face it, Girls. I'm Older and I Have More Insurance.

I originally began this entry with this:

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you probably know by now that I could compose a book of love sonnets dedicated to how I feel about music from the 1990's. That was my decade. And it OWNED music. Owned it. Movies though? Oh, bless your heart 1980's, you totally win the movies.

I went on to list the Best of the Best for 80's movies.  Then decided to Google the movie this whole entry was centered around.


Oh, 80's.  You had Molly Ringwald and When Harry Met Sally and The Very Best Movie of All Time (i.e. Steel Magnolias).  You did not, however, have Evelyn Couch, Idgie Threadgoode, Ruth and Buddy and Big George and Smokey Lonesome.  You can't claim Fried Green Tomatoes and that gives me a tiny case of the sads.  (You do get to claim the book though so maybe that counts for something.  Even though this is one case where the movie gets the book in a choke hold and proceeds to beat the ever loving crap out of it.)  (Also, 1980's?  You can't claim hookers and Richard Gere either.  Pretty Woman came out in 1990.  I feel like my whole life is a lie).

Back to Fried Green Tomatoes.  I absolutely love the movie.  I liked the book as well but the movie -- come on, y'all.  Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were perfection.  I can remember watching the movie as a child and I guarantee you I caught it every single time it came on TBS back when TBS actually showed decent movies.  Love the movie.

So when my mom and I decided to meet up in Birmingham this weekend, I knew there was one place I HAD to go.

When Fannie Flagg wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe back in 1987, she based the little cafe run by Idgie and Ruth on the Irondale Cafe just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  I had to eat there.  I had to.

Worth every single last clogged artery

The cafe is set up cafeteria style.  You go in (and, for the record, we were the SECOND people in there.  Score!) and the first thing you select is dessert.  I went with banana pudding.  You go on and tell the nice men behind the counter the meat you want (fried chicken breast for me; leg for the boys to share) and then select your "vegetables."  We chose macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas, rice, and, of course, fried green tomatoes.

The way to a girl's heart is through her stomach.  Real talk.

I wasn't crazy about the whole cafeteria style thing.  Perhaps because it wasn't what I was expecting.  The good thing, though, was we were able to dig in RIGHT AWAY.  And, boy, did we dig in.


This food was amazing!

Deep fried vegetable goodness

I told my mom that it says something about the food when the meat is the WORST part of the meal.  The meat was delicious.  The sides were just that much better.  J even licked the bowl his black eyed peas were in.  The boys tore up their (huge) chicken leg.  K2 and I fought over the "wapawoni" and cheese.  I don't even really like tomatoes but these of the fried green variety?  DELICOUS.  Absolutely delicious.

She might not look like it, but even Regina George approved

We left, very happy and with full bellies. 

My meal -- dessert included (which, by the way, the banana pudding was fabulous even though Regina George didn't think so and spit it back out at me) -- only set me back $19 and change.  Helluva deal.  I'm so glad I got to try this place and my tummy was super glad it got some good old, down home southern cooking.

If you're ever in Birmingham and you appreciate the kind of food your grandmama always made, the Irondale Cafe is a MUST.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The 90's Brought us the Best Decade of Any Music Ever. Don't Argue With Me. I SAID Don't Argue With Me.

I'm very much a 90's on 9 type of girl.  Very much. 

Here's the thing, though: much as I do appreciate and adore 90's on 9, they tend to play some of the same things over and over (I'm looking at you, Vanilla Ice).  All the while completely ignoring some absolute gems from the Very Best Decade Ever.  When's the last time you heard Donny, Jordan, Joey, and those other two belting out "Step by Step" from your satellite radio?  Answer: Never.  GET IT TOGETHER SIRRIUS/ XM.  We are soccer moms with SUV's now but we used to be little girls who pretended the tire swing in her friend's front yard was Jordan Knight. 

I had the best idea ever the other day.  If 90's on 9 will not bring the very best tracks to Muhammad then Muhammad will bring the very best tracks to 90's on 9.  Or something like that.  The point: my very own BEST SONGS EVERRRRR 90's playlist.

Yes.  I am like the biggest dork ever.  But I bet you're now ready to play a little bit of remember when, aren't ya?

Way Back Wednesday: Rap/ R&B/ WHITNEY edition.  You will find absolutely no Baby Got Back in this post.  You.are.welcome.

The theme to my senior prom.
This was 1998, a time before slutty dresses were really all the rage.  Mine was big and purple and I'm pretty sure anyone who came in contact with me wanted to sing, "I love you, you love me . . . "
With my mind on my money and my money on my mind
True story: totally got grounded for a Snoop Dogg CD circa eighth grade
True story: anything that ends with "dog" becomes "doggy dog" in my house.  We might eat a corndoggy dooooog or a hotdoggy doooooog.
Body like Arnold with a Denzel face
My friend Sarah and I had this memorized.  I still know every last word.  I look really cute when I perform to it behind the wheel of my hubby's truck.  Believe me.
With him I'm never losin', and he knows that my name is not Susan
Talking about the 90's without WHITNEY is like talking about the 2000's without BRITNEY
I LOVE Ginuwine.  Come on.  Differences?  So Anxious?  But 90's Ginuwine IS Pony.
And, FYI, maybe don't play this in front of your kids unless you want a four-year-old running around singing, "you're horny, let's do it."  Just sayin'.
I'm so sad that R. Kelly got so weird and started peeing on people.  Bump 'n Grind was such musical genius.  I mean, the movie Without a Paddle just would not be the same without it.
My friends, THIS is music.  Oh, Boyz II Men.
Before she was an attention whore diva, she was belting out Hero and dating Derek Jeter (lucky b-word).

Note: I wanted to include Back that Azz Up but I couldn't find a single video that wasn't someone, well, backing that ass up.  And, well, thanks but no thanks.
Happy Way Back Wednesday!  (Next week -- rock?  Country?  Pop?  I love the 90's!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Like Cheap Clothes and I Cannot Lie. You Other Brothers Can't Deny.

I haven't watched What Not to Wear in ages but, unless Clinton and Stacey have changed a whole lot since the heyday of the show, they would have an eye rolling, aghast sigh field day with me.  As I remember they always preached not to look at the price but to focus on the fit and quality and blah blah blah.  Yeah, all that's great when you have $5,000 of someone else's money to shop with.  When you have four kids and a mortgage and car payments and a grocery bill that seems like it's as big as a mortgage . . . well . . . you know where I'm going with this.

I've always been fond of cheap clothes.  Maybe they aren't as well made or whatever, but considering the way clothing trends come and go these days, why does it even matter?  If I can get more than one season's worth of wear out of something I've paid not much for then I consider it a huge success.  Even if I only get one season's wear out of it, if I'm totally crushing on it then still a huge success.

Cheap Bitch 101 tells you that end of season is the best time ever to shop.  Let me show you the evidence:

12 shirts.  One hoodie.  Two pair of jeans (only one is pictured).  Grand total?  LESS THAN $100!  Yes!  Even with two pair of jeans!

Let's talk about those jeans for a minute, mmkay?

See, I love the style of Miss Me jeans.  Embellishments and all that are really in style right now. I LOVE the way they look.  I cannot spend $100 on a pair of jeans.  I just can't.  I understand pricier jeans are worth it and they fit better and they don't stretch out as much and blah blah blah.  But I just can't do it. 

Now, allow me to put on my Old Lady Cap to compliment my Cheap Bitch Outfit: I recently discovered the ANA brand at JC Penney.  I really love these jeans!  They have the embellishments just like Miss Me.  They fit (me) great and I haven't had a huge problem of them stretching to the point where they fall off my butt after a few hours of wear.

The regular price on these is just $35!  Even better, JC Penney had them on sale for $14 last week.  I had a gift card with enough balance on it that I ended up paying just $8 for two pair!  Um, hell yeah!  I understand they may not work for everybody but I love the fit and you can't beat the price.

The best deals on my little shop-a-pa-looza last week were at . . . Aeropostale.
Notice the regular price and what I actually paid for it.

I'm always a little leery walking into Aeropostale.  At 32, I'm not exactly their target audience (HELLO!  My 12-year-old stepdaughter loves that place).  I'm not a big fan of the logo splashed over 90% of the merchandise in the store.  But every once in a while, I can find some serious bargains.  Two t-shirts (one is apparently a sleep shirt which I probably would've realized sooner if I was part of the Aeropostale target audience), one tank top, and two sweaters for a grand total of $20.  I know, right? 

This shirt was my favorite of my finds.  It came from Kohl's -- they had an extra 30% off clearance so I ended up paying all of $10 for this super cute shirt.

The point of this post is not just to brag about my ninja-like Cheap Bitch skills but to send you this friendly public service announcement: GO SHOPPING!  GO NOW!  FIND YOUR OWN CHEAP BITCH DEALS!