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Archive for the ‘Huntsville’ Category

Some lessons bear repeating.

During a visit with my mom in August, I “rescued” an old jewelry box from her Goodwill bag. I really have no idea how long she’s owned it, but she’s had it for at least as long as she’s had me.

I had plans to do a little renovation (the top arch is hinged and is constantly falling over, which seems to be a constant reminder that it really doesn’t belong there) and maybe repaint the boring brown wood a more exciting color.

I embarked on my last semester of graduate school a week after I returned to Huntsville, and haven’t had time to give the jewelry box much thought.

It hit me last week: I don’t love this item. I love the memories associated with it. When I was growing up, it was a permanent accessory on Mom’s dresser, and each drawer held a different treasure. A tiny gold bracelet that belonged to me when I was a baby. A large, exotic cameo pin. Mom’s class ring.

It was a mysterious treasure chest filled with things I didn’t get to see every day.

Without those items, indeed, without those MOMENTS, it’s just a big wooden box. I don’t even have a good place to put it, much less things to put in it.

Higher purpose time: One of my favorite local animal rescue groups, A New Leash on Life, recently donated $10,000 to Huntsville’s low-income spay/neuter program. The organization’s thrift store, called Market Place, made this donation possible. People donating their gently used goods make the Market Place possible.

As for Mom, she would much rather see her jewelry box sold to help animals than for it to linger on my closet shelf.

And the lesson repeated? Don’t think you have to hold on to things to hold on to memories.

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Asking me to name my favorite ANYTHING is a lesson in frustration.

Favorite color? Dark green. Or maybe light orange. Light green. Maybe the orange on my edition of The Chicago Manual of Style? Possibly peach.

Favorite song? Whatever I just listened to without skipping.

Favorite movie? Whatever I just watched without mockery.

Favorite TV show? Sons of Anarchy. Or Breaking Bad. Possibly Buffy the Vampire Slayer if we’re talking all-time favorites.

It depends.

Favorite part of Huntsville? Please. It SO depends.

But the Rocket City Bloggers want to know for their latest Blog Carnival, so here goes:

  • I love the fact that so many people in Huntsville get outside and exercise. Seriously, I moved up here one January when the temps were hovering in the upper teens, yet when I looked out my kitchen window every morning I saw JOGGERS. At 7 a.m. With DOGS.
  • SO many people are serious about food discussions here. I can chat about quinoa, cupcakes and pit barbecue without skipping a beat. People love to talk about what they’re cooking and what they’re planning to cook after that — it’s like Louisiana without Tabasco sauce. Except sometimes there IS Tabasco sauce. And restaurant rumors abound.
  • Ditto for cocktails. You folks know your brews and your liquors.
  • Huntsville’s nerdery knows no bounds. It’s not enough that the space program originated here. No. The first party the husband and I attended featured a Rubik’s Cube-solving contest. I can walk into any room and discuss the intricacies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica or Jaws. Several people in any setting will understand one of these utterances: “10 points for Gryffindor” or “Roll for damage.”
  • There’s so much green space up here. And mountains. (Smallish mountains, but still.) And caves.

Now, I have some cooking to plan and a cocktail to make before I discuss my horrible movie-nerd crush on Duncan Jones. Who wants in on that?

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You don’t realize how much you miss a good fried shrimp poboy until you only get to eat one or two a year. And, apparently, you don’t realize that fried foods provoke headaches until you eat fried foods only once or twice a year.

Anyway, I had a superb shrimp poboy and cup of gumbo at Huntsville’s Po Boy Factory with MrsDragon and company in celebration of The Dining Dragon’s 6-month anniversary. I had been meaning to eat at the Po Boy Factory for the last couple of years, but somehow never made it there except to buy a king cake.

This will not be my last meal there.

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I have a ramshackle collection of holiday decorating accessories — when you don’t put up a tree due to extraordinarily inquisitive cats, you make do with whatever fits on the fireplace mantel. You also don’t buy many new items, since that mantel’s not getting any bigger.

I couldn’t let this golden burst of sparkle sit on the shelf, however, when I found it at the New Leash on Life Marketplace today. Only 25 cents, too, since all Christmas items were half off.

I’m not entirely sure it’s going back in the Christmas box after the holidays are over.

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I found this little guy (or girl) traversing my front sidewalk today. Given the usual behavior of caterpillars and beetles in my front yard, I expect him to be in my kitchen tomorrow morning, ready to scare the sleepy out of me at 5:45 a.m.

He could at least stay for a chat, a la Alice in Wonderland.

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zebra

Harmony Park Safari in South Huntsville: If you live here and you’ve never been, GO. It’s a riot.

More pics TC.

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Last week, I wanted beignets. More than that, I wanted to sit at the Cafe Du Monde with friends at 1 a.m., drinking coffee and chicory and listening to street musicians. I wanted to try to convince my husband that I really did need a tattoo, and have him remind me that I only say that after I’ve had too many hurricanes. (For better or worse, BTW, too much alcohol for me involves not that much alcohol at all.)

I spent approximately 25 years of my life within a couple of hours of New Orleans. Now the Crescent City is an entire day’s drive away, so spur-of-the-moment trips just aren’t happening anymore.

But I did find beignets. A Huntsville friend was kind enough to introduce me to the Coffee Tree Books & Brew, located at 7900 Bailey Cove Road. Every Saturday morning, they serve beignets until they run out – and they DO run out. And I’m talking authentic beignets, perfect in size and shape and coated in about three times as much powdered sugar as necessary.

Honestly, I had worried that I was dragging my husband out of the house before noon on a Saturday for a big plate of disappointment. Right after we moved up here almost three years ago, a seafood chain claimed to be serving real New Orleans-style beignets. And they may have been delicious if they hadn’t been coated with caramel-flavored syrup.

Powdered sugar AND syrup? That’s IHOP, not dessert.

The Coffee Tree did not disappoint, however. As a bonus, my friend knew the proprietors and had told them we were coming in just for the beignets, so they were extra eager to see how we liked them. That said, they seemed eager to be sure that ALL their customers were happy.

The used bookstore attached to the cafe area is lagniappe.

No chicory, no street musicians, but I persevered.

Good coffee, good conversation, and good beignets – really, other than that elusive tattoo, what more could a girl want?

UPDATE: I’m told that there IS chicory available if you ask. This just gets better and better

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ducks

To take a walk around Lady Ann Lake, I often have to make my way past the Guardian Ducks of the North Side.

The scary, scary Guardian Ducks of the North Side who are not content to eat bread tossed on the ground, but have to take it directly from your hand.

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tequila
I learned a lot about tequila at Cantina Laredo’s latest tequila-tasting. I now understand, for example, that you don’t have to drink everything the waiters put in front of you.

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cupcake

I know, I know. Cupcakes have to be reaching their peak on the trendiness scale. They’re served at weddings and corporate retreats. Hipsters line up outside Magnolia Bakery at midnight to get their buttercream fix.

Fine. Just give me a moment to enjoy the newly opened Gigi’s Cupcakes in Huntsville, Alabama.

I don’t remember eating too many cupcakes growing up. The ones I do remember were nothing special, just cake on a smaller scale. Today’s cupcake offerings, however, are as fancy as any pricey wedding cake ever was.

I brought home¬†two cupcakes from Gigi’s:¬†Lemon Dream Supreme and Strawberry Short Cake. They both packed a light flavor that didn’t give the first hint of artificial flavoring, and they were topped with what was, frankly, way too much icing for most people. I love too much icing, however, especially that penultimate bite, when I realize that I’ve consumed more sugar in one dessert than I usually eat in two weeks.

Oh, the buzz. And the hangover.

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