Birmingham Snow Shuts Down the City

Hansel and Gretel Courtyard

Tuesday morning I woke up with a smile on my face. One of my best friends, Ashlee came to Birmingham for my birthday party at Bottle Tree the night before and we were going to have a fun day playing. The kids went to school and we sat and drank coffee enjoying the view of Hansel and Gretel and reminiscing about the songs my new favorite singer, Davin McCoy, sang the night before. I heard him at the Songwriter's Fest the weekend before and fell head over heals. Connor surprised me on Friday saying he was coming on Monday! So incredibly blessed with that guy. Connor not Davin. (wink)

I was on the phone with another friend laughing about the events from the night before and I saw a few snow flakes. It was that whole, "Oh, look! It's snowing!" Ashlee asked how I could even see those flakes they were so small. She declared, "It's just flurries.". She had an appointment with TMB Skin Clinic at 11:00, I was going to go with her and then it was lunch, shopping and playing for a few hours. OH, I forgot Connor's car battery was dead and he had to jump it off before he left for work. I'm thinking that was around 9:00. Ashlee and I decided we should get up and get going, so we started getting ready. As we were finishing up, Connor called and asked if the I thought school would get out early. Why in the world would they? I looked outside, the ground was covered and snow was falling as fast as it could! How wonderful! 5 minutes later, I got the phone call, school would be out at 11:30. Ashlee's car was still at Bottle Tree, we needed to pick that up, go to her appointment and get back before the kids got out. We had an hour. Still just taking our sweet little time and trying to look cute for the day, we finally got upstairs and realized there was no time to get her car, that could wait. MY CAR HAD BEEN RUNNING SINCE CONNOR LEFT! #seriously

My driveway!

We start out of my neighborhood toward TMB, there's a hill to climb. It's covered in snow. There are cars going up…slowly. Ok, no biggie, let's get her to her appointment, I will drop her off, go pick up kids and head back to pick her up. We make it up the hill. People are turning around. I freak out a little. These people are panicking. They are worried about not making it over that hill and back. My kid's school is on this side of the hill. I look at Ashlee and say, "We have to go get the kids!". 30 minutes before they are letting them out. I get gas since the light is on….just in case. I tell Ashlee to get some snacks inside the gas station. I go in to help her, she has nothing. She's looking at Vienna sausages and mac n cheese single servings. No, Ashlee, we need chips and salsa, doritos and junk food! It's a snow day!

We jump on Hwy. 119 and this is what we see.

Not a lot of cars, but a lot of snow. I pull in the parking lot and decide to go ahead and go inside. I've since talked to two different parents and need to pick up 3 extra kids. The check out desk was diligent with her "rules" and I had to tell her each kids name one at a time and she had to double check that I was on each ones list. The last two? I was not on their list. She wouldn't let me have them. I told her I would just grab them in the parking lot. Abduct much? I stood in the hall as John Connor walked around the corner in shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt. All the parents just stared at him, shook their heads and then found me. Yes, he's mine, he only wears shorts. If he's comfortable, I'm comfortable, ok? Sophie walked up next, then Emma with Caelis, "Can Caelis go home with us?", sure. Bryson, one of the kids I'm abducting and we set out to find her brother. I just tell them where the car is and we head out. Guess what? I have 2 seats. 6 kids and 2 seats. Pile in the back, kids. I know it's snowing, the roads are slick, but I was not prepared!! We pull out of the parking lot, to the left 119 is backed up, we can go the other way to pick up Conor from the high school. I'm crossing my fingers we make it the 3/4 of a mile home. As we turn the corner to the high school, it's pretty backed up but moving. We are trying to call Conor and get him to walk down the hill. There are high school kids walking around everywhere. The signal is horrible…has been for the last hour. We finally get him and he's already started walking. We pick him up at our road and he jumps in…that makes 7 kids, 9 people with 4 seat belts. We are on the home stretch, though! Our house is a winter wonderland!! We all pile out and snowballs start to form and be thrown. They can't wait to get on the trampoline and bounce all that snow off!

In the meantime, Ashlee is a little worried about her car, oh and getting home!! She's from Florence, Alabama where it isn't snowing at all. Our first priority is feeding all these kids. If you know me…I do not cook. Seriously, never. My husband cooks and buys groceries on the day that he decides to cook because we eat out 5 nights a week. I'm not kidding, at all. I know we have frozen PBJ and maybe some eggs. We did buy a loaf of bread. Toast? Emma starts making cheese quesadillas for everyone. She's 14. She's so smart. I thaw out some deer meat and find a chili seasoning packet in the pantry. We put on a pot of chili. (I know how to cook some things, I just choose not to) We feel pretty good about the situation. Then we start watching the news and I start getting text and phone calls from friends that are stranded or their kids are still at school. The buses in our district never even left. The next area over sent their buses out and had to turn around or leave their bus. My MIL had to be rescued with her bus full of kids. They were coming home from a field trip. There were teachers on the bus, but she was stuck on the interstate for 2 1/2 hours!!! She said there were so many people helping move cars out of the way. They got a police escort, meaning she still had to drive her bus full of kids through the mess! Thankfully, she delivered them all safely. I felt so much panic for all of those mothers. One of the mothers of the kids I had had to abandon cars and walk home. One was on an airplane and was rerouted to Memphis. She wasn't going to be home until Wednesday. That hill I mentioned earlier, well…those panicky people? They panicked, slid, got slammed by other cars, and realizing they weren't going anywhere anytime soon, abandoned their cars. Panick. I was safe at home, with my kids, my friend and I were panicking for them. Connor was in a meeting, remember? He was in Vestavia, which is not too close to home when there's a blizzard and cars are stuck ALL OVER THE INTERSTATE! He has 4WD and believe me, he was going to take advantage. He is not a patient-sit-in-traffic kind of guy. He was off-roading and taking the "back way" all the way home. Remember the panic? People needed to call people, the phone lines were jammed and not a lot of talking was going on. We were just texting to find out where he was and how bad it was. He was updating and it only took him a few hours to get home. On the way, he was picking up old ladies that had abandoned their cars and taking them up the hill to the church. One told him her car was sliding and she just opened the door and rolled out, letting her car slide away. STOP.THE.MADNESS! I was so glad when he made it, but we still had friends that were stranded. My other friend, Ashlee, really how many people have two besties named Ashlee with 2 EE's? Me. So, she and her mom were on their way to UAB to see her Mom's hubby that had been admitted the day before, when they realized they couldn't make it. Heading down 119 from HWY 280, toward home, they made the 5 mile trek in 3 1/2 hours!! Sliding, blocking traffic, creeping home. Her mom is in a wheelchair…no chance of walking home! They made it to the entrance of her neighborhood about the time Connor with the 4WD got home. He went to help and some other sweet samaritan had already come to the rescue. When he got home, he said it was terrible with all of the cars all over the roads, abandoned. What is going to happen to those people that got out of their cars in the snow and less than 20 degree weather?

We just sat and watched it all unfold on Facebook and the news. The kids were happy and warm and fed, so all we could do was wait. If there was someone in need that we could help, we were ready.

It took my brother 6 hours to get to his kids. Speaking of kids stranded at the schools, there were 1,000's, seriously THOUSANDS, that had to spend the night at school. Not just middle schoolers who were glad to hang out with their friends all night, but preschoolers, kindergarteners, teachers who rocked them to sleep that night.

So many were on the highway over night, in their cars, with limited gas and some without chargers for their phones. A friend's sister was on the highway overnight and sent a picture of around midnight when they were standing on the side of the road by a fire. Gas was limited and it was the only way to keep warm. One friend was sliding down a hill uncontrollably in her car and was hit multiple times. She got out of the car and walked to the hospital nearby. Thankfully, a friend picked her up so that she would have a bed to sleep in. Her husband stayed at work all night trying to get trucks in and her boys were safe with family or in college within walking distance of all that he needed. Another friend also slid down a hill, had a wreck and ended up in a hotel room with a stranger as a roommate. She gave a blanket to a fellow stranded driver that was sleeping in the hallway of the hotel!! There are so many more stories just like these, some a lot worse and some not near as bad. Never the less, we all have a story about this Snowopacalypse of 2014. We were supposed to get a dusting. Our friends on the coast cancelled school this day and the next because they were supposed to get snow. I think they did, but nothing like what we got. Our weather people got it wrong, but man, I don't envy that job. I know they do their best and we have some of the best in the country in our area. I sure don't blame them or anyone for what happened. We get made fun of when there is a chance of flurries around here. The grocery stores have bare shelves of milk and bread and some of my snarky friends make snarky comments laughing at themselves, us southerners. We just aren't equipped, we don't have to deal with it like those northerners do. Remember at the beginning when I said my son was in shorts and tshirt? He has one pair of pants and one small under armor lightweight jacket that I BEG him to wear when it's below 20 degrees. I had on a shirt, jeans and boots that day….with a scarf. No coat, no socks, one layer. We play in the sunshine 9 months out of the year. If it gets cold, it's usually in the 40's. Our city was shutdown on Tuesday and finally made it's way out yesterday, for the most part. My kids are home again today and yes, my son is sitting next to me dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. He's heading to Arkansas with his best friend to go duck hunting. He has his camo….he'll be outside for a long time in the cold. He can handle it!

My friend, Ashlee finally got to go home yesterday, we ate chili and soup and chips and crackers, made cookies and ate the dough. I enjoyed having her here so much and can't believe she's not sitting on the couch with me again today.

Happy Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, brrrrrrmingham snow 2014!!!

Hansel and Gretel Barn

The Slaughterhouse in Downtown Birmingham

I've been intrigued with this building for over a month. Someone mentioned it to me that they did a tour. (by flashlight). Totally sounds like a haunted house, doesn't it? ;) Well, it very well could be, but I hope not. I'm intrigued because I would love to make this one of my projects!! It would take some persuading of the hubby. He's not a believer in downtown Birmingham. I know, right? He apparently hasn't been paying attention!! So, my tour consisted of flashlights and a little natural light and sky lights. OH MY GOODNESS the sky lights were AMAZING!!! I have several ideas for this building. Right now, it houses a lot of storage and a photography studio for one of the best photographers in Birmingham. I just want to share some of the photos I took that day with my built in flash and iphone.

What I know about the history of this building is that in 1910 it was a Hormel Slaughterhouse. There are 3 freight elevators and for some reason, the animals were taken to the top floor. There are also burners on all the floors. That's the part that is the creepiest!

 Burner on the bottom floor

gorgeous natural light on this floor 

love this much 

THE skylight 

hardware on an icebox 

door for a refrigerated room  

 top floor of burner

view of Sloss from rooftop 

THE skylight from the top! 

 maybe this was my favorite floor


totally my favorite floor! 

August in Instagram

Summer is over. It doesn't feel like it really began. Too much work, too much rain. Next summer will be better! Let's get ready for Fall! Heading out to a college football game tomorrow. Very fitting, don't you think?

August had us making videos for last days of summer, going to church, Haven in Atlanta, the beach, the beach! Exploring old buildings in downtown Birmingham, teaching cheerleaders, research for The Chapel Market, loving scenes from Hansel and Gretel, decorating for Christmas and friends bringing back prizes from New Orleans! Planning a new house!  It was a fun month!

2nd Avenue Shopping

Birmingham, Alabama has been getting a lot of press lately. Namely in the New York Times as a place that is on the comeback. You may remember me saying that at the Southern C Summit someone said it was the next Portland. We all got a kick out of that and blew it off. Well, "they" just may know what they're talking about!

I met with a new friend, Becky, that is like the mirror image of me. We have very similar taste and drive to be creative. She has a much better background in creativity than I do, but we believe that if we joined forces in some way....the world wouldn't be able to handle it! So, we had lunch on 2nd Avenue North and she was running a little late. I took this opportunity to do a little shopping. I started out on 3rd Avenue South and popped by a little shop called Retriever Antiques. < Hello, what a cute name!
I was very disappointed to find her closed for the day.

Next door is Frontera. If you've never been there before, this is a place full of iron work. Lots of iron decor, tables, stools, you name it. It has a very outdoor feel to it. They also do custom work! I noticed a couple of light fixtures that didn't necessarily fit into the theme. I asked and they were a designers that had them there on consignment. One fit a client's need and the other fit my need. Need, you say? Well, ok, not a need but a love of lighting that I can't quite get over. One was old and the other a reproduction. I will let you guess which one I wanted! {wink} There were also a couple of tables in there that would fit right into, nowhere. I do not have room for a table! Is it terrible that I want to move just so I will have a place to put more tables and light fixtures? It IS terrible, I know.

I left there and headed to 2nd Ave. North where I was meeting Becky at the Urban Standard. I forgot to get a red velvet cupcake. UGH! How do you forget cupcakes? I tell you how you forget. You start talking to Becky and she is saying everything that runs through your head constantly and you realize you are talking to the person that gets everything you want to do. We have a few plans in place and if our dreams come true, you will be able to partake in said plans. Until then, get down to 2nd Avenue North tomorrow for the Second Saturday Sidewalk Sale on 2nd.  Downtown Birmingham, people. It's where it's at!

 You can see these fantastic chairs at What's on Second. A place where you will find everything from chandeliers to NKOTB board games. #seriously. It's a destination.

For the record, I bought a brand new lens for my camera, ordered it from Amazon on Monday, it came on Tuesday and I should start using it! Iphone pictures are just so much easier!

A Night Out on the Town in Birmingham, Alabama

I was talking with a friend today and I told her about a fun night my hubby and I spent in Birmingham a few weeks ago. Some of you may have heard of the Alabama Shakes. They are one of the many hot bands coming out of the music scene in Alabama. They've been on Leno, Saturday Night Live and played for Billy Reid and last year at two sold out shows at name the absolute minimum. Go read their story here. They announced they would be playing in Birmingham again the weekend of June 6 and 7th. I patiently waited on tickets to go on sale. They had a presale for fans and I bought 4 tickets for Saturday a little greedy and bought 4 tickets for Friday night. I wanted to keep my options open, this was several months before the concert!

We (Birmingham) have been getting a bit of national media as a "cool place". I was in Georgia a month ago at the Southern C Summit and the Southern Living editors were calling it the new Portland. A few weeks ago there was an article in the New York Times about the hotness of the 'Ham, the NEW YORK TIMES, people!! I was like, what??? Birmingham? What is up? So, I read the article and was all, oh that, and yeah, that's cool, well, of course, it's Birmingham. Then I realized, these are all things that I think are cool and wonderful about our city, but never realized anyone would ever take notice. I hadn't realized, I hadn't taken notice. It's just been in the last few weeks that I've been saying to others how this IS a cool city.

While talking to my friend this afternoon, we were talking craft beer industry growth (it's huge in Birmingham....the largest growth in America, btw) and mentioned Avondale Brewery. If you haven't been, cool spot, very cool spot. The buildout makes me drool and the beer is pretty good, too! They have an outside venue where they hold summer concerts and serve crawfish on Saturdays. cool, right? told ya.

That brought up how that weekend in June, when I finally decided to only go to the concert on Saturday, we went to see the Alabama Shakes. Before the concert we went to Saw's Soul Kitchen for dinner. Waited in the line that was out the door, walked up to the counter and ordered, then walked outside to sit at a picnic table with flies all around. Makes it sound bad, right? No! It was a wonderful atmosphere with all the people milling around the Avondale area and the food was well worth the wait!! I was licking the plate at the end.

We walked a couple of doors down to Avondale to quench our thirst, grabbed a Saison, and walked around the outdoor area noticing the dogs, blankets and groups of people congregating at tables and playing corn hole. Atmosphere Amazing. Realizing it was an hour before concert start, we headed over to Sloss Furnace. Serious history, folks. A very cool (well, not in June) events venue. It is a beautiful old furnace that dates back to the 1880's and was used to produce iron for nearly 90 years.

Dawes opened for the Shakes and played a great show. In a packed house the lead singer, Britney, and the Alabama Shakes rocked the night away until midnight! If you've never seen them, seeing them in Alabama is a must! They are a full of heart and soul group that will have you on your feet and singing along to every song! It was a perfect night in Birmingham and I'm so glad to be here for this exciting time for our city! Come visit, y'all!