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WHAT:  Life Time Fitness Vestavia Hills, outside Birmingham, is set to open its doors to the public Dec. 30 to Jan. 2 to encourage residents to kick-off 2017 with a New Year's commitment to their health. During each of the four days, Life Time will feature a variety of health and fitness experiences and activities for all ages.

This week, Alabama students will join over 8,000 other Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members at California’s San Diego Convention Center to participate in the 2016 FCCLA National Leadership Conference (NLC).
 
The FCCLA NLC provides wonderful opportunities for students to compete in national competitions, gain valuable leadership skills, explore interesting career pathways, have fun making new friends, and be inspired by some of our nation’s leading professionals and top motivational speakers. The theme of this year’s conference is “Empowered.”

Here is a list of public boat launches closest to Birmingham.  Most are within an hour’s drive time.  We included Lake Martin because so many Birminghamians use Lake Martin regularly.  For a complete list of boat launches in Alabama, click here.

Most of these boat launches have one or two lanes. Almost none have public bathrooms, so make arrangements accordingly.

Don’t forget that you need a valid Alabama boater’s license. You can take an online course to get your license or go to the license office for a test.

If you just want to go fishing and aren’t launching a boat, don’t forget Lake Purdy down 280.  Note: The Lake Purdy phone line is broken and they can't run the credit card machine, so take cash this weekend.

 

BOAT RAMP

WATER BODY

Claiborne (Hwy. 84 Lndg.)

Alabama River

Sprott Landing

Cahaba River

B.B. Comer Bridge

Guntersville

Beech Creek

Guntersville

Brown's Creek (Warrenton)

Guntersville

Claysville

Guntersville

Crow Creek

Guntersville

Honeycomb Creek

Guntersville

Langston

Guntersville

Long Island

Guntersville

Mink Creek

Guntersville

Minky Creek

Guntersville

Mud Creek (G'ville)

Guntersville

North Sauty Creek

Guntersville

Scottsboro City Park

Guntersville

South Sauty Creek

Guntersville

Stevenson (Snodgrass Bridge)

Guntersville

Tom Jackson Park

Guntersville

Town Creek (G'ville)

Guntersville

Val Monte Rd. (Bucky Howe)

Guntersville

Waterfront

Guntersville

Beeswax Creek

Lay

Childersburg Access (Hollywood)

Lay

Flatlands (Pineview)

Lay

Glover's Ferry

Lay

Hidden Valley (Paint Creek)

Lay

Kelly Creek

Lay

The Narrows (Co. Rd. 400)

Lay

Kowaliga

Martin

Madwin Creek (Windy Point)

Martin

Pace's Point (Pleasure Point)

Martin

Smith Mountain Landing

Martin

Young's Landing (D.A.R.E. Park)

Martin

Higgins Ferry

Mitchell

Riverview Access

Oliver (Black Warrior)

Lion's Park (Lick Creek)

Smith

Smith Lake Dam

Smith

Smith Lake Park

Smith

Binion Creek

Tuscaloosa

Foster's Ferry

Warrior

Moundville Access

Warrior

Free jazz in the parks of Birmingham.  Laying out on blankets on the green, letting the music wash over you. There is probably nothing better.  Thanks to Magic City Smooth Jazz there are free jazz concerts in Birmingham and around the state. 

Magic City Smooth Jazz is a non-profit  dedicated to enhancing cultural activities through various styles of jazz in the State of Alabama.  Since its inception in 2008, Magic City Smooth Jazz has hosted over 75 FREE concerts to the public while presenting over 275 emerging and established artists while impacting the lives of over 20,000 adults and children.  

Next in Birmingham, Kim Scott at Huffman High School and  Soul Collaboration (pictured above) at Avondale Park on June 5th plus more concerts throughout the summer.

 

A recent article in the Washington Post talked about the millennials tendency to eschew their parent’s furniture and belongings.  It is the time of the great de-cluttering that everyone knew would come as the Baby Boom generation ages. 

However, the Boomer's  children are even less interested in their second hand furniture than expected. This has created a large second hand furniture market all across the United States.   This may due to a simply differences in taste which are magnified by the sheer size of the two demographics. But there is a thought that the Millennial generation is simply….into simple.  Thus less stuff.  And it's driving the cost of furniture down in the second hand market.

Regardless of the reasons, Birmingham, like most cities, is a bargain hunter’s dream.  Especially if you like dark wood furniture. Or if you want good quality wood furniture to update with paint ala Joanna Gaines (from HGTV’s  Fixer Upper) or for those who love the shabby chic look.

Craigslist’s Birmingham section is the most ubiquitous site for second hand furniture.  But a number of local trading sites have become go to spots for bargain hunters.

Facebook sites like Mountain Brook Trading, Vestavia Trading, Gardendale Online Yardsale and Hoover Trading fill member’s Facebook feeds with pictures of antique chairs, armoires and dining room suites at a fraction of the original prices.   These groups have  big membership.  Mountain Brook Trading has over 31,000 members, Vestavia Trading has almost 47,000.   Even a Hoover Trading dedicated to kid's clothes only has almost 5,000 members.

Consignment stores are also filled with furniture, ranging from the antique to the almost new.  Stores like Encore Resales and Classic Home Décor Consignment (both in Pelham)  offer used furniture in a showroom setting and perks like delivery.

Some furniture can be had for...free.  There are "free to whoever will pick up"  sites like Freecycle that have active groups in Birmingham.

It’s just interesting how the Baby Boomer generation continues to sway the overall fortunes of so many industries in the US as a function of their size. The furniture industry is no different.

The International Baccalaureate Program in Jefferson County has been enormously successful and is one the top rated programs in the country.  Next year the program will expand to include middle school students.  The deadline for applications is tomorrow, May, 20, 2016.

The temporary site for the middle grades program will be at the current  Pleasant Grove Middle School campus.  The school plans to find a more centrally located spot in the next three years.

Jefferson County will provide limited transportation similar to the hub routes currently used by JCIB.  Jefferson County is seeking the interest level of students who wish to apply to the middle grades program.

The program is still in the final stages of approval.   The administrators hope to have final approval for the program within the next several weeks.   JCIB was recently ranked first in Alabama and 8th in the U.S. in the 2016 Washington Post study of America's Most Challenging High Schools.  The program has also been rated in the top 10 of Best High School’s in America by Newsweek many times over the last decade.

Students will be notified regarding acceptance status by June 17, 2016.

For more information, click here.

A veteran Jefferson County School System educator who draws inspiration from teaching high school students and who values working with teachers in training because of the power to affect change is the 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year.

Dana Jacobson, who has taught English at Clay-Chalkville High School since 1999, will serve as the state’s ambassador for public education and the teaching profession throughout the upcoming school year. A graduate of Smith College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jacobson automatically becomes Alabama’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

“Teachers are visionaries who see that light at the end of the tunnel and find ways to help students get to that light,” said Jacobson, who, as the Alabama Teacher of the Year, hopes to motivate more people to enter the education field. “There’s nothing better than to see a student growing, and there’s no job to me more important than teaching because we pave the way for all sorts of possibilities for students.”

Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Philip Cleveland announced Jacobson was chosen to serve as the official spokesperson and representative for teachers in Alabama for the next year near the end of a celebration honoring the 12 semi-finalists and 4 finalists who were nominated for the coveted title. The awards ceremony is held annually in recognition of these teachers’ dedication to education in Alabama public schools.

 

Cleveland expressed his gratitude to all of the district finalists for their hard work, innovation and compassion, which he said are reflected daily in the accomplishments of their students. He said the honorees are not only role models for the students of Alabama, but for their peers as well.

Of Jacobson, Cleveland said, “Dana Jacobson exemplifies the ability of an educator to shape and change lives. She strives to connect with and engage each individual student who enters her classroom and, as such, has been able to provide meaningful, quality learning to tomorrow’s leaders.  We are proud to have Ms. Jacobson represent our state as the 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year.”

In addition to English, Jacobson teachers ACT Prep, Debate, Speech, Creative Writing, and History of Film, among other subjects. She designs classroom activities so that students can make connections and strives to model those characteristics she believes the world requires: an interest in learning and people; a validation of others, not just tolerance; a desire to solve problems; and a strong work ethic.

Clay-Chalkville High School Principal Michael Lee said Jacobson embodies those qualities and more: “On most days, Ms. Jacobson is the first teacher at school and the last to leave. She does not stop. She is a true giver to students, student teachers, and colleagues.”

Dawn Davis, a fourth-grade teacher at Montana Street Academic Magnet School in the Dothan City School System, is the 2016-2017 Alternate State Teacher of the Year.

The first among her siblings to go to a four-year college, Davis, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Elementary Education from Troy University, has spent most of her 20-plus years as an educator teaching in the Dothan City School System. She believes that while she cannot change the many circumstances from which her students come, she can change where they are going in life.

Davis aims to do so by creating a classroom environment where all children realize their worth and potential, which she accomplishes through planning, building a support team, encouraging risk-taking, and utilizing her student’s natural curiosity.

“My greatest rewards from teaching come in the form of a smile,” Davis said. “When you see a smile cross the face of a child, you know he/she is gaining in knowledge. I am not interested in perfecting students, but I am greatly determined to perfect my abilities to encourage goal-based mindsets so that all children can realize their worth and potential.”

The selection process for Alabama’s Teacher of the Year begins at the school system level. Each school system can nominate an elementary and secondary teacher at the district level. One elementary teacher and one secondary teacher are selected from each of the eight state Board of Education districts. A state selection committee selects 4 teachers from the 16 district finalists to be interviewed for the titles Alabama Teacher of the Year and Alternate State Teacher of the Year.

 

Pulled pork is the star of many festive events in the South.  Deep smoked, rich and delicious, we slather it in BBQ sauce and put it on sandwiches, potatoes and even salads.

Pulled pork is can work in Mexican cuisine as well. It is great in tamales and enchiladas. A classic Mexican dish is posole which is pork and hominy stew rich.

Pulled pork is outstanding in tacos and burritos as well.  Layer with sliced avocado, jalepeno lime slaw and drizzle with Cholula hot sauce for a dish that combines the best of southern pulled pork and Mexican flavors.

This is a great way to use pulled pork from a crockpot. Simply season with salt, pepper and lime juice before you put it in the crockpot.  Let it cook on low while you are at work.  Or buy some plain pulled pork from any of our local barbeque places and you can have pulled pork tacos in the time it takes to assemble them.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Pulled Pork Tacos

  • Pulled pork without sauce (purchase or make your own)
  • Corn Taco Shells (soft or hard)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Jalepeno Lime Slaw (use our recipe or add jalepeno and lime to a purchased mix)
  • Mexican Hot Sauce (we prefer Cholula) or Salsa

Layer the pork, slaw, avocado and sauce on the tortilla shell. Eat!

 

Jalepeno Lime Slaw

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tea salt
  • ¼  tea pepper
  • 1 tb sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 fresh jalepenos slivered, seeds and pulp removed
  • Juice of 2 limes and their zest
  • 1 Bag Shredded Slaw Mix

Mix the mayo, salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice and milk until well combined. Mix dressing, jalepenos and slaw mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Do you want to give Mom a day off from cooking, but you are terrible, no good or awful in the kitchen?

Here are some fancy ideas for breakfast in bed, a gorgeous lunch after church or a relaxing dinner that involve NO COOKING.

 

Breakfast in Bed

The keys to a special breakfast in bed are:

  • A pretty tray
  • Flowers (a single flower can be perfect)
  • Favorite or fancy pastry
  • Fruit in a pretty bowl (get out the fancy crystal)
  • Coffee or tea (or diet Coke if that's her favorite way to caffeine)
  • Mom doesn't have to clean it up

If you don't have a pretty tray,  take a few cloth napkins or pretty piece of cloth and place it over a cookie sheet. Publix has doilies for $1.69 next to the paper towels if you can't find anything cute to cover the tray.  Add a flower - even flowers from your yard add that special something. 

For special pastries, check out Klingler's in Vestavia. Their cheese streudel is out of this world.  Or pick a pastry selection from long time Birmingham favorite, Savage's in Homewood.  Local grocery stores also have wonderful pastry selections. Get something that is both a favorite and not an everyday treat. Put the pastries in a pretty basket with a napkin or tea towel.  If it is last minute, go through the drive through at Starbucks.  Then take it home and put it on the pretty tray with a flower.

 

Lunch after Church

There are a ton of restaurants that are having special Mother's Day lunches.  But if going out is not a good fit for your family (maybe the children are too little or you have family members with special needs), you can still do a delicious lunch at home without cooking.

The keys to making it special are:

  • Decorate the table - use a tablecloth, the prettiest dishes you have, flowers or candles
  • Clean it up - it's no fun for Mom if she is the one doing all the work.
  • Pick things she likes to eat.  Sometimes Mom just wants something delicious and light. Some Moms want a fancy to-do. Some Moms are junk food junkies.  It’s her day!

Everyone Around the Table

Some Moms simply want is all her people around the table.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a big meal without Mom having to work herself to death?  Put a tablecloth on the table (they have them at Dollar Tree if you don’t have one) and add some flowers or candles.   But make sure your lunch reflects what Mom likes.

Traditional

Honey baked Ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rolls and a salad mix picked up from the grocery

Tracy's sides available at Western Supermarkets in the freezer section are delicious and give a local flair.

 

Light and Casual

Soup and Salad

Good quality soups, like homemade Shrimp and Crab gumbo from Spoon and Ladle soups (available at Western) or  soups from the deli at Fresh Market or Whole Foods plus a fancy salad can be lovely. Splurge on the highest quality you can afford. Pick up a salad mix and a fresh salad dressing (usually in the case in the produce section). Add a bottle of wine or her favorite soft drink in a pretty glass.

 

Pizza Party

Mom likes a pizza party too.  Order in from your favorite place or pick up some of the heat and bake from Sam’s or Costco.  Serve with a salad and ice cream floats (if that floats her boat).

 

Fried Chicken

I asked my mom what she likes and she wanted fried chicken from Jack’s.   She also said that she wanted her mom and grandmother there for lunch (sniff). I can’t make that happen as they are heaven sent, but I can pick up some fried chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw and biscuits. You can even order the family meals online.  Get some gourmet cupcakes from Dreamcakes or Edgar's to make it special.

 

The key to Mother’s Day is to let Mom know that you are thinking about her and appreciate her.  Little touches show that you went out of your way. It doesn’t have to break the bank or be complicated to give her a great day.

 

 

Gus Dean, who started the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards General Tire 200, earned his first career win on Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.

Following the fourth caution of the 76-lap race, ARCA Racing Series officials declared that the race would end under yellow due to impending darkness, although the series typically allows multiple attempts to finish the race under green flag conditions. Dean was declared the winner in his No. 98 Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet.

Josh Williams, who entered the race third in points, finished second in the shortened event. Chase Briscoe, Will Kimmel and Sean Corr rounded out an unofficial top-five order. Former Talladega Superspeedway winner and Friday’s polesitter Tom Hessert finished sixth.

“The car was obviously a top-notch car all day long,” said Dean, a South Carolina native. “It got really hairy there towards the end. Mason and those guys made an excellent pit strategy, and it really played out for us. We were able to come back through the field, and the guys did an awesome job on pit road.”

 

The event was largely incident-free until the race’s final 15 laps, with two multi-car incidents taking out perennial Talladega contenders, including former winner Bobby Gerhart. Series points leader John Wes Townley fell multiple laps down early following a cut tire due to contact with Gerhart.

Birmingham Post-Herald (BPH) is Birmingham, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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