Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Auburn Vs. Ball State: The Review

By The WarBlogler

Ball State Auburn FootballTwo weeks ago, Tommy Trott seemed to be down again, unlikely to return. Two months ago, Auburn seemed to be down again, unlikely to return. After this past week's game against the Cardinals of Ball State, it looks as if both of these statements were false.

Offense continues to click. For the second straight week, Auburn's opponent dared Chris Todd to beat them. Both Ball State and West Virginia put eight and nine in the box determined to stop the run. The problem with that line of coaching is that Chris Todd is proving that he can win a game with his arm and a collection of speedy, ankle-breaking, game-changing receivers.

Terrell Zachary shook one Ball State defender out of his shoes on his way to a 46-yard touchdown. Later in that same quarter, he ran a stop-and-go on a pump fake from Todd and caught a 65-yard touchdown pass in stride. Last week, Darvin Adams was the man as he caught three touchdown passes against West Virginia. Both this week and last week, Mario Fannin pitched in with his customary screen pass touchdowns. Even the aforementioned Trott caught the first touchdown pass of this week's game. Oh, and when the passing game started to open up, guess what else started opening up? That's right, Onterrio McCalleb joined in with the scoring on a 1-yard run following a 62-yard scamper off an option pitch from Todd. Put simply, Auburn is spreading the ball around, and it's working.

Chris Todd has thrown for nine touchdown passes in two weeks and had a career high in passing yards last week. To say he's in the zone would be an understatement. When the running game gets stuffed, he loosens up the defense with pump-and-go's and record breaking bombs. This isn't a one trick offense, but keep trying it.

Defense put in tough situations. Reserves struggle like reserves do. The thirty points scored by Ball State this week were a little disappointing, but also misleading. Ten of those points came from drives on very, very short fields given to the defense by a fumbled punt and a failed fake punt. Ball State scored ten points on two legitimate drives against the 1st-team defense. The last ten points were scored on the 2nd and 3rd-team defense, and even three of those came after a late interception thrown by Neil Caudle.

I'm surprised the media hasn't said much about Auburn giving up thirty points to a team that hasn't won a game or scored more than seventeen points in a single game this year. Maybe it's the 54 that Auburn scored or maybe they still haven't realized Auburn is fielding a team this year.

I've heard many fans complaining about the defense, and at this point I will admit it is the weaker of the two sides of the ball, but when the offense looks as good as it has, it's going to be a little bit harder than usual for the defense to be the better side of the team. They may be giving up a few more yards and points than fans are used to, but that's what's so good about having such a productive offense.

Plus, when they are causing so many turnovers, yards don't seem to matter as much. Currently Auburn is third in the nation with eight interceptions.

Special Teams are half and half. Wes Byrum has been a perfect 6-for-6 in FGs this season. Besides one blocked punt, Clinton Durst has been his normal "booming" self. Things start to get bad anytime anyone in an Auburn jersey tries to catch a kicked ball, especially punts.

Some number of players greater than "too many" have been given a shot at catching punts this year. Notice I didn't say return punts. Auburn is worried about catching punts. Most players have only been giving one shot: one fumble and they're pulled. I want the best guy out there just as much as anybody, but I fear that the Auburn coaching staff has created a similar problem to the quarterback fiasco from last year. It seems like every guy who gets back there to field the punt is thinking "catch the ball, catch the ball, catch the ball and the job is mine". That's a problem. It's all mental right now, and something has to be done about it. I don't care if it's a lineman, just get someone back there who can catch the ball.

The line this week has been "now the real season starts." In a way, I agree. The media and all those people who still don't respect Auburn won't start to give the Tigers a second look until they win their first road game against an SEC foe. Auburn will get their chance this weekend. The problem I have with this statement is that it makes what Auburn has done for the past month look like it didn't matter. Well yeah, it matters, and every one of you knows it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey Hogs! Alabama Vs. Arkansas Review

By Maggie

Alabama opened up SEC play this week against the Arkansas Razorbacks. We arrived in Tuscaloosa around 10:30 to begin our tailgating. (I brought pigs in a blanket!) We’d been there about an hour when the rain set in. It looked like it was going to rain all day. We geared up in our raincoats and ponchos and headed to the stadium. We arrived just in time for the big BAMA spell out. Luckily right before the game started the rain stopped. (Us Alabama fans like to think it’s “The Bear” simply holding his hand over the stadium!)

The first quarter proved to be one of the most boring quarters in football. Arkansas got the ball first they didn’t do much. Then Alabama got it, after a couple dropped passes and a short rush we punted it right back to them. At this point I’m thinking it’s going to be a long day especially with wet shorts and shoes! Arkansas once again couldn’t make any progress and punted. The 9-yard punt provided bama with great field position, not that it mattered because we didn’t produce any real results. Finally about 5 minutes into the second quarter Alabama scores on a 52-yard run by Trent Richardson. Tiffin’s extra point is good. Bama leads 7-0. Next possession, first play, Greg McElroy throws a deep pass to Julio Jones for 50 yards and the touchdown. Tiffin’s kick is good. Bama 14 Arkansas 0.

At Halftime the Million Dollar Band did the same motown show and threw in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” for the students. Now it’s time for the third quarter. I am pumped that we have, in my expert opinion, shut down Ryan Mallet. Well maybe I’m not an expert because with 10 minutes left in the third Ryan Mallet throws an 18-yard pass for a TD. Bama 14, Arkansas 7. Okay that’s a little close for me Saban. Luckily Saint Nick listened to me because Bama scored two times in the third quarter, once on a deep pass to Marquis Maze for and 80 yard score and once on a 14 yard pass to Mark Ingram, to make the score 28-7. That’s more like it!

As the fourth quarter arrived the fans proudly held their four fingers in excitement because we all know that it is going to take a miracle for this Arkansas team to come back and beat us. Two minutes into the fourth Bama scores again the drive was 13 plays and 99 yards. Bama 35 Arkansas 7.

Arkansas couldn’t get anything rolling. Bama ran a few plays to run the clock down. Before we knew it we were singing Rammer Jammer celebrating our first SEC win of the season.

Amy's Extraordinary Alabama: The Quirks of a Small Town

By Amy

My ramblings today probably isn't about something extraordinary about Alabama. Just quirky, but sometimes I think it's the quirks that make us, our towns, our lives extraordinary.

I grew up in what most people from the south would call "out in the middle of nowhere". No traffic lights, we weren't even considered a town. Just a rural community. I mean the cows in the pasture across from my house woke me up each morning so it was rural.

But to be fair, there were places even farther "out in the middle of nowhere" than we were. The nearest town was 7 miles away. The nearest small city 12 miles away. And let's not even discuss how far away the mall that could barely be considered a mall was.

When I married my DH we moved back to his hometown. We've lived here almost 13 years now. And we do love it. Moving from the nearest grocery store being 8 miles away to being 2 miles away is something I am very thankful for. Until I realize they don't carry pomegranate molasses, but that's another story. Where was I? Oh yes.

Technically, we're a city with a population of about 15,000, but we do have a very small town feeling to our fair city.

And sometimes that small town atmosphere comes with lots of quirks and idiosyncrasies.

For example: Our post office closes at noon on Wednesdays. Do you know how many Wednesdays I've pulled into the post office, hopped out of my vehicle, opened the door to the post office to realize that they are closed? With the P.O. boxes being available around the clock there are almost always cars in the parking lot during the day so it can be deceiving. You would think after all these years I would remember this little tidbit of info. I can understand it closing early on Saturday. Who would want to work all day on Saturday? But on Wednesdays? It's not like the mail carriers are delivering any earlier. They still deliver my mail after 4 p.m. on Wednesdays just like the other 5 days mail is delivered.

As a little child I do remember the banks in the nearest towns closing at noon on Wednesdays. I'm not sure what this stemmed from. Maybe it was a southern quirk. But it's been many, many years since I've encountered a bank that closes at noon on Wednesdays.

So you can imagine why it still baffles me that our post office would close so early on just this one weekday.

So do you live in a small town or were you raised in a small town in Alabama? If so, what are or were some of the quirks or oddities of your small town life?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Favorite Blogging Tools

By Rachel

If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a blog geek. And with that comes a love for all tools blog related. So here are a list of my favorite, most useful tools that I use to enhance my blogging. I hope it helps, and I would LOVE to know what tools you like to use best!

Statcounter - I have tried MANY stats tools, and this one is by far my favorite.

Pros: You can see each visitor as they log onto your site, where they go, what they do. You can label them if you know who they are so that you know who they are when they come back. There are also many different ways to look at the data to help you find what you're looking for.

Cons: It only saves the details of your last 500 hits.

Google Reader - I'm sure that most of you use this, but if you're a blogger and you don't, then you're missing out on a huge time saver and awesome tool. It allows you to "subscribe" to blogs, and shows all of the blog posts of your subscriptions that you haven't read yet.

Pros: AWESOME way to make sure that you don't miss any blog posts from your favorite blogs.

Cons: You can't comment from Google Reader - you need to click through to the blog. I'm pretty sure that this is true of any blog subscription service - tell me if you know of one that it's not true for.

Twitter - I use twitter mainly for my blogging relationships. It is a great way to add another dimension to interaction between other bloggers. It can be very overwhelming, and it takes a while to really get the hang of it, but when it clicks, your life will change.

Twitter Tip: DEFINITELY use a third party application to run it. Twitter is unbelievably more valuable that way - looking at Twitter from the Twitter website is SO confusing. I personally use TweetDeck.

Windows Live Writer - I've just started using this tool in the past few months to compose my blog posts. It is great if you're using Blogger for a platform and put a lot of pictures in your posts, because it gives you more diverse options for picture arranging, text options, etc. It uploads photos MUCH faster than Blogger. It also imports in your blog background and dimensions so that when you are in compose mode, you are seeing exactly what the post will look like when published.

Google Analytics - My second favorite stats website. This is a great site for seeing a high level view of your blog stats. It's also a great place to see all of the crazy things that people are googling that land them on your blog. - If you would like to see how you stack up against other bloggers, this is a great tool to do so.

Con: It only works for people with first tier, or private domains. i.e. - you could search for, but if my domain were, the data wouldn't be available.

Feedburner - Ever wonder how many people subscribe to your blog? This tool lets you see that, and lets you put it on your site, if you so desire. It's a little technical to get it started, but once you do, it's quite addictive to watch.

What are your favorite blogging tools?

Center Stage: Wade On Birmingham

By Jamie

Welcome back to
Center Stage where we take a fanfare look at one of the many great blogs being churned out here in Alabama. You can find past spotlights here.

Wade Kwon is smart. And connected. And possibly part of the Salty Ham Mob.
Wade on Birmingham
Maybe not that last one.

I met Wade from Wade on Birmingham a few months back at an Alabama Bloggers meet-up. I managed to milk him for all he was worth. Ideas and inspiration with a side of BBQ.

He also offers a hefty dish of perspective on all things happening in Birmingham-at-large. He covers cultural events, breaking news, and features on the overlooked side of this great city. His history at the Birmingham Post-Herald and Southern Living give his posts a well-written journalistic feel often missing in "city blogs."

Plus, there are haiku. Lots of them.

Jamie is a planner of events by day and chaser of shiny things by night. Follow her trails at Jamie's Rabbits. If you'd like to have your blog featured on "Center Stage" then contact Jamie so she can swing by your neck of the internet woods. Please know she sometimes shows up uninvited, so you may see your blog on stage if she really digs it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blogging for Money – Ready to Leap

By Kathryn

Once you have the basics of your blogging plan in place it is time to start putting it into practice. Putting up a blog is not difficult but putting up one that has the ability to generate money can be a bit trickier.

Steps to Building a Money Blog

    1. Choose a format that will allow you to add advertisements and affiliate links. A self-hosted Wordpress blog is one of the best ways to have complete control over the add-ons to your blog.

    2. Research affiliate programs and ad programs to see what works for your site. Google AdSense may not make you rich over night but it could give you a steady amount of income. The down fall is that you do not have complete control over what is advertised. Amazon Affiliates allows you to add specific ads or scrolling ads to your blog and anything that is purchases when a reader clicks through will count towards your total. Other companies also offer affiliate programs, so find the one that suits your website content.

    3. Keep your blog design simple. Too many ads or an overwhelming theme will make it difficult for visitors to find what they are looking for and they will likely click back and search again. Be sure to get some feed back from other bloggers and do not get offended if they make suggestions for improvement.

    4. Talk to companies directly about running ads on your site. It might be that you have to build up a visitor base first but you may also be able to offer a trade – service for ads – that you could work out (like a website designer giving you a discount).

There is no guarantee in any business but if you want to launch a blogging business then creating a website that has room for ads is a great way to start. The next step is to get visitors.

Kathryn Lang writes about writing at Successful Freelance Writer. You can also learn more about her writing and speaking career at her home website - Kathryn

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best Post of the Week: Week Eighteen

It's time to link in your best post of the week!

The purpose of this column is to make it easier to keep up with each other's blogs, so that even if we don't have time to read all of the Alabama Blogger blogs every day, at least we get the week's highlights.

So, link up, and let's start reading! And remember - the best way to get new blogging friends is to comment on other people's posts, so be sure to say "hi" to your neighbors when you visit!

p.s. - please feel free to interpret "this week" as loosely as you like!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Auburn Vs. West Virginia: The Review

By The WarBlogler

The night began with plenty of rain, thunder, and lightning. While the game didn't feature much thunder or lightning in regards to Auburn's offense, touchdown passes were raining down all night.

Todd's a man. Battling the flu, Todd took his first sack, threw his first interception, and found his team down fourteen points less than five minutes into the game. Then, in a change from the first two games, Todd gained the majority of Auburn's offense with his arm, and threw for four touchdowns, the most for an Auburn quarterback since 2001. With lots of help from his defense, Todd helped stage one of the best full-game comebacks in Auburn history. Given his condition, the weather conditions, and the deficit, Todd showed that he will do whatever it takes to get his team on top. 7-5, 8-4? They don't exist in his record-keeping vocabulary. "12-0 will do just fine, thank you", he says.

Defense gives up yards, but gets a few too. The defense gave up two big, fluky plays to start the game, but settled down and really only allowed two decent scoring drives the rest of the way. With five interceptions and one fumble recovery, they definitely took away the sting of those first two plays that sucked the life out of the rain-drenched crowd. West Virginia quarterback Jarret Brown reminded Auburn fans of how it was to "tackle" Jamarcus Russell of LSU past. It didn't matter what kind of angle, how many limbs were pinned down, he always seemed to get away and throw a perfect 70-yard strike.

Another connection between this game and LSU was the four interceptions in the 4th quarter alone. As you all know, in 1994 Auburn intercepted four LSU passes in the 4th quarter to stage a monumental comeback and extend Terry Bowden's two year winning streak. Auburn did the same last Saturday night. Well, minus Terry Bowden, and LSU, and all that.

Special Teams a little better. It looks like Anthony Gulley might have staked his claim at the punt returner position, not that anyone was trying to take it from him. He's a former baseball player, center-fielder for 1A Brantley High School to be exact, so catching fly balls seemed to help him get comfortable with catching footballs falling from the sky with 300-pounders running towards him. Now that we've got catching down, let's working on running.

Kickoff returns are still just mediocre, with our average starting point being somewhere around the 20-25 yard lines. Kickoff coverage has still been the worst. I don't know how many drives the opponents have started at the 40. It seems like there is no one down there to tackle the guy and we end up having to chase him down.

Clinton Durst is still kicking the ball well and giving his guys plenty of time to get down there and make the tackle. Oh, and Wes Byrum is back.

This team showed that they have what it takes to endure a long delay, get punched in the mouth, and take over the game in the 4th quarter. It was a struggle from the start, and they came out on top, like champions do. This only adds to the trust that they have for their coaching staff. Auburn has been down in every game this season and won by at least 10 points in the end. This team is amazing and we'll see it grow for the rest of the year and years to come.

Hometown Tour - Red Bay

By Valerie

Hello Everyone,

This is the beautiful tree lined welcoming you receive as you enter the city of Red Bay, Alabama. These Oak trees were planted by the Red Bay Garden Club in the 1930's, it is an Oak tree tunnel that leads straight to main street. Red Bay is small town USA. Incorporated in 1907 it is located in western Franklin County bordering the state of Mississippi.

There is only one school, Red Bay High School, home of the Tigers. It is a K-12th grade school and is part of the Franklin County System. As in most southern schools athletics play a major role. The school offers Football, Baseball, Cheerleading, Tennis, Golf and Track. Tiffany McWilliams, a 2001 alumni, is the 2003 1500 Meters NCAA National Champion in track. Located within 50 miles of Red Bay is Northwest/Shoals Community College, Bevil State Community College, Itawamba Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College and University of North Alabama such a great variety of college's for the city's seniors to pick from.

This little town in also home to Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard. It is the only cemetary of its kind in the world. Click on the link to learn the history. There are coon dogs buried here from all over the US. Their markers range from wood to granite. It's the only place you will find names such as Troop, Night Ranger and Bomma.

There are two major companies in the town. Tiffin Motorhomes which manfactures some of the finest motorhomes you will ever find. The offer a plant tour and you can personally pick out your own motorhome colors and other options you may want. Click on their website to take a virtual tour of some of their coachs. The other major company is Sunsine Mills Inc. The plant located in Red Bay for Sunshine Mills is a pet food plant. Well known for Sunshine Dog food and cat food. It provides, like Tiffin Motorhomes, great jobs for local residents.

Courtesy of

Red Bay also has the Arts and Entertainment Center. Events they host every year include business meals, receptions, Christmas parties, church dinners, and seminars. With seating for 200 people in the Banquet Room and 30 in teh Garden Room it also houses a Theatre which seats 172. The local Bay Tree Council of Performing Arts hosts three performances each year. Thousand of people have enjoyed plays such as The Odd Couple and Father of the Bride.

The Red Bay Museum houses all of the local historical artifacts. Located downtown it also houses items donated by Tammy Wynette and her family. Tammy wasn't born in Red Bay but spent a great deal of her youth there visiting family and friends. She considered Red Bay as her home town. So next time your are in western Alabama stop by for a few hours and enjoy all of the local events and activities Red Bay has to offered. The scenery alone is well worth the trip. To find out more about Red Bay visit their website Red Bay, Alabama - A friendly City on a Progressive Path!

If you would like to feature your hometown on Alabama Bloggers, please contact Rachel ( or Valerie ( and let us know!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Center Stage: No Debt Plan

By Jamie

Welcome back to
Center Stage where we take a fanfare look at one of the many great blogs being churned out here in Alabama. You can find past spotlights here.

I adore credit card machines. I revel in the swipe of the card. The feel of the fake pen in my hand. The rubber buttons confirming the amount is "okay." It's a torrid love affair. And it must stop.

Meet my new therapist:

No Debt Plan
Kevin at No Debt Plan is a personal finance wizard who is sharing all of his spells with the world. My first suggested stop is his blog's namesake series - The No Debt Plan. It's a 9-step plan getting you from overwhelmed to healthy, wealthy, and wise. I'm currently on pre-step #2.

You can also wander through topics such as financial planning, debt reduction, budgeting, and the economy. Kevin's posts are accessible to the reader who may not understand terms such as "liquidity ratio," but sophisticated enough for those who do.

So put down that Old Navy card and get to reading. (That may be directed at me...)

Jamie is a planner of events by day and chaser of shiny things by night. Follow her trails at Jamie's Rabbits. If you'd like to have your blog featured on "Center Stage" then contact Jamie so she can swing by your neck of the internet woods. Please know she sometimes shows up uninvited, so you may see your blog on stage if she really digs it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tips for Going from Full Time to Blog Time

By Kathryn

Making the leap from a regular paycheck to a freelance or independent paycheck brings up concerns and worries in the best of us. No matter what the field that you are entering or leaving, stepping out on your own can be a leap of faith. The best way to prepare for that leap is to make a plan.
Plan for Becoming a Writer

    1. Start with a budget. You know how much you need to make each week and month so begin to save your money towards that amount. The goal is to have around six months worth of income set back before you leap out on your own.

    2. Create a business plan. Having money set aside is great but knowing how to get money when you step out on your own is just as important. Lay out where you plan to find jobs, find income opportunities and what you will face along the way.

    3. Build up a support system. Stepping out on your own does not mean stepping out alone. Gather around friends and family that will encourage you along your new journey.

    4. Find support in your field. Look around the internet and around your community to find support for and from other entrepreneurs.

Taking a leap into full time writing (online or otherwise) is not for everyone. It is important to build up some income reserve to help pull you through any tough times. Finding support for your new journey will also help see you through.

Going full time with a blog does not have to mean leaving a regular job to make the leap. Set aside an hour a day or one day a week to create posts for your blog. As your following builds and your writing increases you may find that the switch from regular job to blogger is as natural as the change in seasons.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Best Post of the Week: Week Seventeen

It's time to link in your best post of the week!

The purpose of this column is to make it easier to keep up with each other's blogs, so that even if we don't have time to read all of the Alabama Blogger blogs every day, at least we get the week's highlights.

So, link up, and let's start reading! And remember - the best way to get new blogging friends is to comment on other people's posts, so be sure to say "hi" to your neighbors when you visit!

p.s. - please feel free to interpret "this week" as loosely as you like!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Restaurant Review: The Depot

By Leigh Bratina

The Place to go

Located in the heart of Old Town Helena and nestled comfortably near the Buck Creek Waterfall sits one of the Birmingham area's best kept family restaurant secrets, The Depot. It's memorable hometown cooking and a friendly atmosphere keeps patrons coming back for more. Considered an integral part of the community by most, it is often host to party-size gatherings for sporting team outings and various other groups. A visit to the Helena Depot Deli & Grill gives you a taste of what has made Helena, AL one of the most desirable places to raise children (ranked 13th on Business Week's 2007 list of Great Places to Raise Kids) in the country. And by a 2009 Money Magazine article which listed Helena in the top 100 places in which to live in America. Those accolades can all be confirmed by a single trip to the Depot. The place to go, be, see and be seen in Helena. It's where all neighbors converge, break bread and talk about what's in the news.

The History

The South and North Alabama Railroad Company constructed the Helena Freight House and Depot about 1872 while repairing damage inflicted by Union raiders in 1865. The original location of the structure was just north of the present railroad crossing. When a new depot was constructed around 1905, the building was moved by C.T. “Tom” Davidson to a site behind his house where he used it for storage and a work shop.
From 1872 to 1905, this building served as the hub of activity for the area. Most goods and people arriving or departing from Helena passed through this depot. It is one of the oldest structures remaining in town surviving the disastrous 1895 fire, the tragic 1933 tornado and numerous floods. It was moved to its present site in March 1999.

The Food

Today, it is where you can find Matt and his crew grilling up some of the best burgers and chicken in town. My friend, Jack Gray swears by the polish sausage, "the best!", he insists.

The Depot is certainly a place where "everyone knows your name". It's "hometown" at it's best! It also has one of the best views in town, perched atop of the banks of Buck Creek. From the back porch, enjoy the sound of the rushing waterfall as you eat one of the best burgers you will ever have. The's the place to go in Helena!

The Depot (web site)
Hours of Operation
Monday - Saturday: 11am - 9pm
Sunday: Closed
Contact Information
Address: 29 Lake Davidson Ln Helena, AL 35080-3264
View Map & Directions
Phone: (205) 620-1426
Fax: (205) 620-1426

*Leigh is a full time mother, a part time photographer and writer. Her photography and written work is featured in several professional business and local publications. She owns her own photography business, Photographic Memories. Leigh resides in the Alabama with her three children and husband "Big Daddy". You can read more of Leigh's daily adventures by visiting any of her three blogs: Tales from Bloggeritaville , Plates and Places , as well as Photographic Memories

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Upcoming Alabama Event: Mule Day!!

By Lianne

What can turn a sleepy, little town of 4,540 into a bustling city of nearly 25,000?


Yes, Mules.

Mule Day has been a tradition in my hometown of Winfield, Alabama since 1975. The event was originally dreamed up by Curt Estes as a parade to honor the hard-working mules in our tiny community, in particular, his mule, Jenny. Held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, the parade has grown to include many other special events, held over the course of Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.

This year, the fun kicks off on Friday, September 25. At 7:00 p.m., the downtown area resembles a crowded bazaar as the flea market merchants begin to peddle their wares. A shopper can find a large assortment of items for sale: candles, genuine antiques, boutique clothing, purses, toys, jewelry, handmade items, and decorations for Halloween and Christmas. The local businesses stay open late and have great sales as a part of the festivities. The variety of items available is sure to please any shopper.

The food items offered up by vendors are equally as varied and palate-pleasing. Some of my favorite places to visit sell fresh-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, boiled peanuts, and chicken-on-a-stick. My family of four can find something for everyone at mealtime--which is not an easy feat with four picky eaters!

There is something for the music lover here, as well. Several locations in the city offer live musical performances, clogging, and line dancing, with standing-room only crowds. (Admittedly, there are no seats in the various locations, hence the standing. It sounded good, though, didn't it?) Our historic Pastime Theater will present a musical performance at 7:00 p.m. The Pastime Music Revue is a fun experience in a beautifully renovated theater for only $5.00 admission.

After a night of food, fun, and music, a weary shopper must go home in rest to prepare for Saturday and all it has to offer.

On Saturday, September 26, the festivities start early at 7:00 a.m., as the Flea Market re-opens and the Arts and Crafts booths open for business on Ashwood Drive, near the Public Library. If you need to work off the previous evening's funnel cakes, the registration for the Mule Day Run/Fun Walk begins at the Wellness Center at 7:30 a.m.

For the vintage transportation fan, there is an Antique Car Show at the Middle School and an Antique Tractor Show at Foodland Shopping Center. There are cash prizes, trophies, and other goodies given to Car Show participants, so polish up your sweet ride and enter it in the contest.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest attractions of the day remains the Parade itself. The Winfield High School Pirate Band leads off in what has become quite a long spectacle of mules, horses, wagons, tractors, politicians, and marching footsoldiers in Civil War dress. Of course, no parade involving animals would be complete without local dignitaries doing something undignified--pooper scooper duty.

After the Parade is over and shoppers have spent all their money and eaten everything in sight, the vendors pack up and move on to the next festival during the late afternoon. But wait! The fun is not over yet!

At our city's Ivan K. Hill Park, the Civil War re-enactment begins at 2:00 p.m. with the "Skirmish at the Luxapalilla." At 7:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, a Civil War Period Ball Featuring The 5th Alabama Regimental Band begins, complete with full-costume dress for the participants, who set up camp for the evening in the rolling green fields of the golf driving range at the park. It is not uncommon to feel and hear the blast of a cannon shot throughout the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

After church on Sunday, spectators gather to watch the Civil War Battle re-enactment at 2:00 p.m. at the park. (Since we live about two miles away, we do not get to have a nap that afternoon as the cannon blasts rattle all the windows, as well as our dog's nerves.)

I hope you will come and visit my little town for Mule Day this year. Besides all of the special attractions, there are many delicious restaurants and unique shops that you need to check out. Tell 'em Lianne sent you!

For more information on Mule Day, click here. (Images of the Parade itself are from the Chamber of Commerce website.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Amy's Extraordinary Alabama - The Chicken Salad Chick

By Amy

A few months ago a friend of mine had chicken salad at her sister-in-law's birthday party and has been raving about it since. She's been wanting to find the restaurant. So we made a little trip down to Auburn for a couple of errands and decided to try it out. Thanks to the amazing inventions of the Blackberry and GPS we found it.

Oh. My. Heavens. I seriously have to get back down there soon. Really soon.

The restaurant is called The Chicken Salad Chick and is in Auburn, Alabama. Twelve different types of chicken salad. I had the Bacon Ada on a croissant with a cup of the loaded potato soup. I'll have to go on Thursdays from now on since that's the day they make the potato soup. Potato soup is about the only type of soup I like.


Now here's why I think The Chicken Salad Chick is so extraordinary Alabama. Not only do they serve 12 different kinds of chicken salad, but their story is inspiring.

On a quest to find the perfect chicken salad recipe Stacy Evans realized that everyone's idea of the "perfect" one was different. And from there it evolved. She began tweaking her original recipe at home and friends and neighbors were her taste testers. Then neighbors and teachers started buying it.

Just after forming a partnership with Kevin Brown with plans to turn it into a restaurant, Evans received a phone call from the county health department. She never realized that selling food from her kitchen was illegal. So she halted the cooking even though her customers were outraged that someone had called her in. You can read a post from one customer here. Thankfully everything went into high gear and the restaurant opened in January of 2008.

So if you're ever in Auburn or Opelika stop by and try it out. Think I need to make a little trip down there myself. Next time I'm trying the Sassy Scotty chicken salad, a zesty blend of ranch, bacon and cheddar cheese. I can't believe I just found out about this place. Maybe I should go today.

Chicken Salad Chick on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bama Game From the Eyes of a First-Time Attender

By Ashley

elcome home, Crimson Tide! UA played their 2009 home opener against the FIU Golden Panthers. Alabama was the heavy, heavy favorite but the game stayed neck and neck for TOO LONG (from this Bama fan's perspective). It did make the game that much more lively, though!

We started off great with a 10-0 lead, but Bama's bubble was burst somewhat when FIU ran a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 10-7 Bama going into the 2nd quarter. We got in another fieldgoal in the 2nd quarter before FIU came up big with a touchdown. FIU is beating Alabama? How can this be? I can tell you we were super shocked in the stands as we could see that ranking dropping and another stellar season cut short too soon.

McElroy didn't let us despair for too long, coming up with a touchdown to put us up 20-14 going into halftime. I felt pretty confident by this point. Surely Saban (The Almighty) will talk some sense into these young guys at half time and we'll see a runaway in the 2nd half. But the 3rd quarter went scoreless after some big plays by Alabama Defense but a missed field goal by Tiffin (why do you do this to us, Tiffin?).

The Lord heard the prayers of the Crimson Nation and seven second into the 4th quarter, we score another touchdown. We go for 2 and miss but 26-14 gives us all some breathing room. Now we are praying for more points to cover the spread and protect our ranking. Hallelujah! More answered prayers! Two more touchdowns give Alabama a 40-14 victory!

And congratulations to Greg McElroy for completing a school-record 14 straight passes!!

GOOD NEWS: Accoring to AP and USA Today polls, Alabama maintains the 4th ranking! Roll Tide!

From a personal standpoint, we had so much fun! This was my first live college football game, and I'm in love! I twirled baton since age 4 and was a majorette in high school, so I really enjoyed seeing the The Million Dollar Band and The Crimsonettes! Cheering along with fellow fans in the stands was memorable! And being a part of the action was addictive! I'm ready for my next game!!

Lucas even got into the spirit and cheered for Bama! Since he likes to root for opposing teams just to be difficult, this was a major revelation!

Now a little insider perspective from a first-timer:
  • Wear comfy shoes. We walked probably 5 miles (at least!) on game day. I saw so many cute little girls running around in their cute litte dresses but carrying their high heels and walking around bare foot. News flash, when you are running around a public stadium with no shoes you don't look quite as hot as you think you do. But most of you still looked pretty good. <---- read, I'm a jealous pregnant woman
  • Stadium seats - Bring 'em! You know those fold up seats with the cushy padding and back support? Those will definitely come in handy!!
  • Eat before you go! We were just going to grab dinner at the game but choices were very limited. No hamburgers. They had hot dogs but were out of buns. They were out of pretzels. We ended up sharing some nachos and peanuts and hit up a Burger King on the way home.

you know the rest ;)

Center Stage: Lessons from an 80's Alumna

By Jamie

Welcome back to
Center Stage where we take a fanfare look at one of the many great blogs being churned out here in Alabama. You can find past spotlights here.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the 80's.

I find much comfort in the connection I have with folks in their thirties and forties, because there's a common language. It includes words like
"friendship bracelet" and "fraggle rock."

Bettina Byrd-Giles is a blogger who speaks that same language. However, she focuses on what the Oregon Trail lovers should do now that they have careers and families and mortgages.


Lessons from an 80’s Alumna is a place for personal and professional development with regards to topics like relationships, health, career choices, and even the often dreaded - reunion.

Bettina has more than 20 years experience in administration and she brings that wealth of knowledge to the blogging table. Pull up a chair.

Jamie is a planner of events by day and chaser of shiny things by night. Follow her trails at Jamie's Rabbits. If you'd like to have your blog featured on "Center Stage" then contact Jamie so she can swing by your neck of the internet woods. Please know she sometimes shows up uninvited, so you may see your blog on stage if she really digs it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Transforming Your Blog to Make Money

By Kathryn

Most blogs start out as journals. We post about things going on in our own lives, around our community, around the country or a combination of all things depending on the mood and the day.

There is nothing wrong with a blog that meanders along. It is like one of those scenic roads or country roads that will give users the benefit of amazing views. The trouble with meandering blogs (and scenic roads for that matter) is that companies are looking for high traffic. This means the main interstate – niche focused blogs or blogs with EXTREMELY high unique visitors each and every day - get all of the great stores, restaurants and most all of the ads.

How do YOU get a blog that is main interstate material? That is the million dollar question and one that does not always have the same answer. It is much like writing a best selling FIRST novel – if the answer could be found then everyone would be doing it.

Tips for Transforming a Blog

    1. Find a niche with little competition and strong interest. I heard about one lady that had started a blog because she was dealing with a sickness in one of her children. The blog was intended to help family and friends keep up but it went viral (meaning it spread like a cold in preschool). She was soon up to 15,000 unique visitors each and every day. Now that it is interstate material.

    2. Create a blog that is focused on meeting a need. Flylady is an extremely popular site that is helping women get their homes and lives organized.

    3. Learn the internet. Find forums, blogs and internet leaders to follow. Begin to ask questions about what, when and how you should do things on your blog. Remember that no ONE WAY is the right way. Use the tips and suggestions to find your own way.

    4. Sell something. Creating a blog just for writing is probably not the easiest way to make money online. Having something to sell – whether it is your own expertise or you create an online store to sell products that match your niche – is up to you. There are a number of places that offer affiliate programs (where you have an ad up on your site and when people click through and buy then you get a percentage of the sale). Look into the income potential and then follow one of them or all of them. Remember that you are your only limitations.

Transforming your blog may mean starting a new one or just tweaking the one that you have right now. Always remember that if you are not passionate about what you are doing then you will struggle with the doing. Find your passion and the pursue that to the income potential.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Best Post of the Week: Week Sixteen

It's time to link in your best post of the week!

The purpose of this column is to make it easier to keep up with each other's blogs, so that even if we don't have time to read all of the Alabama Blogger blogs every day, at least we get the week's highlights.

So, link up, and let's start reading! And remember - the best way to get new blogging friends is to comment on other people's posts, so be sure to say "hi" to your neighbors when you visit!

p.s. - please feel free to interpret "this week" as loosely as you like!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Educational Building Blocks

Building Blocks are the foundations that your child needs to have in place so that they may succeed in school. These usually need to be in place by second grade in order for your child to progress at the appropriate rate and level. The following list should help you understand what your child needs to work on from pre-school on. You can start at an earlier age but remember that your they will only grasp a concept when it is developmentally appropriate!
  • Correct Pencil Holding! This helps your child be able to write easier and better. The following picture can help you show your child how to hold a pencil correctly.

    The website Draw Your World is an excellent resource for helping you find the best way to help your little one hold their pencil the right way!
  • Proper Letter Formation! This may seem like an easy task to teach but it isn't. You cannot make your child write properly but you can help them grasp the right way to write their letters. Don't forget bad habits are hard to break. A great way to start children out or help them is to let them trace letters or connect the dots to form the letters. Good handwriting leads to good spelling and good reading. Here is a link that I find very informative on this subject and just how important it is: Letter Formation.
  • Sight Words! DOLCH Sight Words are very important for your child to recognize instantly. These words are the foundations for reading. Your child should be able to read them immediately when shown them. Ed Helper is an excellent site that will help you with several different ways to help your child learn these words. It also gives the lists according to age/grade level of when they should know them.

  • Technology Skills! In todays techno savvy world it doesn't hurt to introduce your children to technology at an early age. This is such an instrumental part of our everyday lives that they need to grow up using it. There are all types of technology for all ages that can help make your kids tech savvy. Letting them play on the internet is one thing but helping them learn how to log on to the computer, start programs and such will be such a help to their teachers. Lots of schools now are basing their lesson around technology and are using Skype in the classrooms as well as Wikki's, Blogging and YouTube. Here is a great article on how one school system is implementing technology.

  • Reading! I cannot say this enough- Read to your kids every day or have them read to you! It is so very important and helps them more than you can imagine. Just 20 minutes a day can help improve your child's vocabulary, spelling and knowledge. It will also instill in them a love for reading. School systems usually use the Accelerated Reader Program that allows students to read a book and then take a test on that book which will earn them points. The higher the level the higher the points and the higher the reward. Renaissance Learning's site allows you to type in the title and or author of the book and tells you the level of the books and the point value. Some schools will provide a link for your children to be able to take these tests at home but most are done in the classroom or library!

    Instilling a love and want for learning in your child can be a daunting task but will benefit your child greatly throughout their school years. Remember to make sure they realize just how important it is for them to learn as much as they can. This will bring about confidence and success in school and will make our jobs as Parent's much easier. ( This article lists ways to encourage your child to be successful in school.)

    I hope these tips are beneficial to you. Please leave a comment if there are any topics or issues you would like me to write about!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hometown Tour - Luverne

By Valerie

Hello Everyone,

Luverne is the county seat of Crenshaw County. It’s located in south-central Alabama along the Patsaliga River. It was named after one of the founders’ wife’s, Luverne LeGrand. Known as “The Friendliest City in the South” it is a great place to raise a family. It is a town where everyone actually knows your name. A walk downtown brings a constant stream of greetings.

In 1988 the Montgomery and Florida Railroad companies purchased land to run its railroad starting in Sprague Junction. The railroad was to terminate in Rutledge. Through the efforts of early settlers the railroad was rerouted to terminate in Luverne. That is how Luverne became a town. Because of the success of the railroad in 1893 the residents of Crenshaw County voted to move the courthouse and the county seat to Luverne.

Luverne has one public school, Luverne High School. It comprises of grades K-12th. The high school was recently recognized by US News and World Report magazine as one of America’s Best High Schools! Very impressive when compared to 21,000 other high schools nationwide. They are known as the Tigers and like most southern towns Friday night football is the event of the week! There is also a private K-12th grade school too, Crenshaw Christian Academy. It offers excellent academic subjects and Christian guidance for its students. They also offer extracurricular activities like dance, golf and of course sports, go Cougars!

For the youth of the city they have two great recreational parks. The Person to Person Sports Complex and the E. L. Turner Recreation Park offer ball fields, swimming, tennis and even a golf course. There are several lakes in the area for boating and fishing as well. For lodging there is The Camillia House Bed and Breakfast. A beautiful newly renovated 100 year old Queen Ann Victorian home is such a charming treat. The CH treats are a must!!

Annual events in town include the World’s Largest Peanut Boil. The Crenshaw County Shriner Club hosts this event to raise money for children with medical needs. It is held every Labor Day and has been known to boil over 12 tons of peanuts. It is unbelievable that by Labor Day they actually are sold out. That’s a lot of peanuts!! The Crenshaw County Rodeo, the annual Christmas parade and 4th of July fireworks display are other events enjoyed by Luverne residents.

While visiting downtown you will want to visit the quaint little shops that are reopening. Did I forget to mention that Sister Schubert’s bakery is located in Luverne? Well it is, can you imagine waking up to that wonderful smell? To learn more about Luverne, its history, citizens activities and events, visit the city’s website, The City of Luverne.

If you would like to feature your hometown on Alabama Bloggers, please contact Rachel ( or Valerie ( and let us know!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Auburn vs. Louisiana Tech: The Review

By The WarBlogler

Going into the season opener, we all knew the questions that surrounded the Auburn football team. Will Malzahn's offense be Franklin 2.0? Will Chizik show us why he only won five games in two years at Iowa State? How will Todd handle the starting spot again? And although this was just one game, against a WAC opponent (albeit a decent one), a lot of those questions started to get something close to positive answers.

For starters, this is not Tony Franklin's spread, and besides the fact that the wideouts, and sometimes the quarterback, are spread across the line of scrimmage, the plays don't resemble anything put on the field by Mr. 5 o'clock Shadow. Malzahn's offense has all the bells and whistles of a shiny new spread, but with the way the running plays are designed, it's like it was made for Running Back U. Not once did I think that the players who were mostly recruited to run a West Coast offense, weren't made for this fast, flashy, ball of fun. It was between the tackles (or over and around the tackles if you're talking about Onterio McCalebb), setting up play action, pump fakes, and long bombs, with an occasional fake give, pitch, and pass. I've never seen plays so cool. The whole game I was like a little kid yelling "Oh man! Wow, that was awesome!", and that was even when the play tanked. Point blank: this offense is fun, but more importantly this offense is productive (see: 556 yards). Oh yeah, it's balanced too (see: 301 rushing, 255 passing).

The biggest criticism of the Auburn administration this offseason was obviously the Chizik hire. Most of that criticism as gone away due to a strong coaching staff and their recruiting prowess. The only factor keeping the fans from complete trust was winning. 5-19, 5-19, yeah, yeah, we get it. Would Chizik look like a coach who went 5-19 in his first game at Auburn? Again, it was just La. Tech, but I would say no. Chizik walked (well actually stalked) the sideline like he had won the last three Super Bowls. He definitely didn't act like a man that knew he had more than half the stadium just waiting for something to complain about. He was a man on a mission, a man with a purpose, a man who planned the work and worked the plan. I don't care if he was 5-19 before Auburn anymore. He knows what he has to do to turn that into 100-19, or at least acts like he does, and something can be said for that.

On a side note, the most unsettling problems that I saw Saturday night were the drive-extending, only-reason-La. Tech-scored-a-point penalties, and the almost unprovoked fumbles. The Bulldogs first scoring drive was aided by a pretty bad pass interference call on 3rd down, and back-to-back facemasks. Coach Chizik called these penalties "try hard" penalties and I completely agree. Unless you played at Miami in the 90's, 99% of facemasks are usually not intentional. What made these penalties so frustrating was that they usually occurred on 3rd down, during a sack or tackle for loss, and allowed La. Tech to hang around longer than they should have. The positive from this is that, like Chizik said, these penalties came from playing hard, flying after the ball, and trying to make a play. We can safely say that these penalties won't be a recurring, every game thing. They seemed to be just a little bad luck.

What I will also chalk up to bad luck were the two fumbles that occurred on promising drives. Ben Tate fumbled inside the 10-yard line and Darvin Adams fumbled after a decent gain on a pass from Todd. Both seemed to just have the ball knocked out from a normal tackle. Not a punch out or a strip, just a plain a tackle. Either way, I'm sure this will be corrected, or let's a least hope so. Take away the "try hard" penalties and the two fumbles, and this game wouldn't have been close by halftime (i.e. there would have been a lot less toothless smiles in Atlanta).

Something I didn't really worry about, but most armchair quarterbacks did, was Chris Todd. Would this be the same noodle arm as last year? And once again, it was just La. Tech, but I will say no. Todd made maybe 2-3 legitimately bad throws, but no bad decisions from what this guy could see. He knows the offense, he knows the coaches have his back, and he knows the team has his back. And like Chizik, he almost looks like he doesn't care what the naysayers say anymore. He's bought in, and knows this is going to work. If he throws an interception, chant "Kodi, Kodi", he doesn't care. He'll just come back and throw a 93 yard, perfectly-pump-faked touchdown pass in your face. And that's what an SEC-caliber QB has to be able to do.

Oh, and another guy who's bought in is Mr. Auburn, Kodi Burns, but you already knew that. Dang this team has the chance to be scary good. Kodi, Mario, Onterio, Zachary, Darvin, Tate...I see playmakers, but that's for another post.

All in all, the first half was scary because of the penalties, but the second half was great. A huge weight has been lifted and we can look forward to SEC play. Hopefully, that's when more of these questions will start to disappear.

As always, feel free to follow me on my Auburn Twitter, my personal Twitter, and visit my Auburn blog, and my personal blog.

Ashley's Football Review

By Ashley

t's football season once again and our Crimson Tide did not disappoint! A friend of ours hosts most of the football parties ever year so we had our kickoff at his house once again. We grilled out, enjoyed some beverages (water for me, the pregnant lady), and watched our team dominate the Hokies! Of course, my husband was cheering for VT. He is always cheering for the opposing team. It is so nice that lately he has had little to cheer about! And it is looking like we are going to have another successful season!

The Tide got off to a somewhat slow start. I think there were five lead changes in the first half. The game was back and forth most of the night. Although we were winning and dominating possession of the ball for most of the game, I was worried that we were not coming out as strong as we should for the first game of the season ~ even if it was against the #7 ranked team in the nation (Tide fans are pretty demanding!). Then, it was like lightbulbs went off inside the entire team's head. Maybe it was just a pretty darn good half-time speech by Coach Saban. Either way, our boys were on fire - particularly in the 4th quarter, pulling out a 10-point victory in the end.

I was slacking in my photo journalism duties, so I only have two photos for you from the night:

some boys getting ready to display their manhood by grilling the burgers...

and a sweet shot of a VT fumble and Alabama recovery (which by the way should have led to a touchdown but only led to a field goal... we still have some work to do).

I promise to do better next week.... as I'll actually get to take some pictures live at the football game!!! Looking forward to a great home opener from The Tide!!!

Roll Tide Roll!

~Ashley @ SouthMeetsSouth

Eleven Winners!!!!

Two giveaways ended last night, so it's time to announce the winners!

First of all, for the Alabama Illustrated Engravings coffee table book from Turner Publishing: the winner is Erin at What's Going on With the Stephensons!


Second of all, it's time to announce the winners for the Score for Your Team Football Carnival!!

The teams first: Alabama had a smashing victory with the final score of:
Alabama 19
Auburn 9
Arkansas 7

Arkansas made an impressive showing for being out of state, and ALMOST overtook Auburn (that would have been quite embarrassing for Auburn!), but Alabama has earned the bragging rights for the year!!

And, since Zoës Kitchen was so generous to sponsor this giveaway, I have 5 free lunches to give out to randomly chosen people from the winning team, and 5 more to give out to randomly chosen people from all of the participants!!

Alabama Winners:
1. Maggie @ Horton Happiness
2. jennifer @ Dust Bunny Hostage
3. Tammy @ Greek GRITS
4. Kate @ Bookworm to Bombshell
5. Rachel @ Rambling Robinsons

Winners chosen from all participants:
1. Lianne @ Socks are NOT the Enemy
2. Leigh @ Tales from Bloggeritaville
3. Swampgirl @ Swampgirl
4. Christi @ A Southern Life
5. Valerie @ It's a Wonderful Life

Congratulations to you all!! I am going to TRY and get emails out to gather your addresses, but if you could kindly go ahead and send it to me at when you read this post, it would be quite helpful.

Be sure to tell Turner Publishing and Zoës Thank you by commenting on this post or tweeting them!
If you haven't linked up and introduced yourself yet, be sure to go here to do so!