Birmingham’s best meals under $10

For your next lunch or dinner, check out the following spots for a delicious and affordable meal.


Surin of Thailand

This location tucked away in Crestline Village is one that you may miss if you’re just walking by. Don’t be mistaken by its unassuming storefront; the cashew chicken is one of Birmingham’s best Asian dishes. For an inexpensive date night or girl’s night out, be sure to visit Surin of Thailand.



A Birmingham favorite for years, this old-fashioned soda fountain shop is a tasty lunch option. I recommend the chicken salad (hold the extra mayo), with some barbecue chips and a strawberry limeade to top it off. It’s a classic lunch for any Birmingham resident.

Moe’s Original BBQ

 Down South, everyone says they have the best barbecue, but few can rival the taste and price at Moe’s. While, I generally go for the hot wings, the pulled pork sandwich meal is spot on. With two sides (I recommend the baked beans and cornbread) and a drink with your sandwich, it’s a combo that can’t be beat!

Which Which

While I’m not one to choose a chain over local, Which Which is delicious and you get a lot of bang for your buck! The regular combo meal allows you to get a soda, 7-inch sandwich and chips of your choice for a steal. The possibilities of your sandwich are endless, but I’m partial to the Italian. Next time you’re at The Summit or in Homewood, check out Which Which.


Located off Highland Ave., this is a restaurant you need to visit. Great for lunch or dinner, Rojo offers a Latin American menu as well as an American menu. However, the only thing I ever order, and I encourage you to do the same, are the barbecue tacos. Two tacos stuffed to the brim with pulled pork and topped with coleslaw offer a unique twist on a classic dish. The meal also comes with a side of black beans and rice, allowing for a cheap feast!




Photos by Katie Stewart


Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 4/4): The Dichotomy of Lifestyle & What it All Means


Need a refresher on what we’ve discussed so far with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? Visit Part 1 (MBTI Basics and the Dichotomy of Energy), Part 2 (The Dichotomy of Learning), and Part 3 (The Dichotomy of Decision Making).

The dichotomy of lifestyle

The final dichotomy of the MBTI, Judging & Perceiving, refers to how we tend to live and structure our lives. Traits of these letters are often very obvious to those we interact with.

J for Judging
The first thing to understand is that “judging” does not mean “judgemental.” As a Judger, you prefer your world to be structured and organized. You want to have things settled and in order, and you’re much more comfortable after a decision has been reached. You love your lists, and if it’s on the list it is going to get done. You are very task-oriented, though sometimes you hyper-focus on one thing and end up missing new information. Thankfully for the rest of the world, deadlines are your forte, and you tend to do your work ahead of time to avoid the last-minute rush.

P for Perceiving
P in this sense could easily stand for “procrastination.” While Judgers make lists and check things off, you’ll make a list, only to never look at it again. You are prone to bursts of energy and spontaneity, and you would much rather understand the world than attempt to organize it. For you, work has to have an element of fun or it will never keep your attention. You adapt very well to change and work well under pressure. And though you may be able to function normally at the last minute, be aware of how you are using other people’s time.

(Please note: being organized or unorganized in the physical world is not necessarily an indicator of the Judging or Perceiving functions, respectively.)

The biggest confusion with the dichotomy of lifestyle is that we often feel like we are “supposed” to be Judgers because traditional school and work environments tend to be geared towards that type. This leads a lot of people to mistype as a Judger when they are actually a Perceiver. While Perceivers may have come to appreciate deadlines and structure, this does not mean they would prefer them in the majority of situations. In the same way, Judgers may recognize the value of spontaneity, but they most likely will not want it that way all the time.

As has been mentioned in the previous articles, no one is ever a “pure type.” You might be a strong Judger, but this does not mean that you have no Perceiving function in you. You simply act on it with much less frequency than someone who scores as a Perceiver.

The bottom line

The absolute most crucial thing to remember about the MBTI is that you are the way you are, and that is why your results came out how they did. Your MBTI type does not define you—you define it.

April Robinson, a certified administrator of the MBTI through the Center for the Application of Psychological Type, says, “The indicator has a lot of useful, practical purposes. It can be very helpful in many situations. But don’t let it define you.”

The MBTI is not a “personality test.” It simply indicates preference— which way you most often fall on four different dichotomies.

“These [the types and letters] are not static definitions but dynamic descriptions,” Robinson says. “It’s just opening another avenue of communication.”

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long

Birmingham Street Style: Week Two

Coffee shops in Birmingham are the perfect place for people with different styles to spend their afternoon.  This week, I stumbled upon a trendy couple sipping on coffee and working on homework at Starbuck’s. Check out this stylish duo in denim.

And no, they did not mean to match their outfits.

Jordan Webb, 20, Student

Denim shirt is from Banana Republic

Pants and shoes are from J.Crew

Watch is from Fossil


What is your favorite piece of clothing?

“I love my denim shirt because it goes with everything.”


Vaughn McCrary, 21, Student

Chambray shirt is from J.Crew

Khaki pants are from Brooks Brothers

MacAlister suede boots are from J.Crew

Tortoise shell clubmaster glasses are from Ernest Hemingway


What is your favorite item of clothing?

“I don’t really have a favorite, but I guess I would also choose my denim shirt.”

Do you consider yourself trendy or hipster?

“I’m definitely not hipster and I wouldn’t call myself trendy either, but I wear I what I like. I’m probably considered main-stream.”



Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 3/4): The Dichotomy of Decision Making


To catch up on what we’ve focused on so far with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), visit Part 1 (MBTI Basics and the Dichotomy of Energy) and Part 2 (The Dichotomy of Learning).

The dichotomy of decision making

The MBTI’s third dichotomy, Thinking & Feeling, measures how we make decisions in and about our lives. The meanings of each of these letters are often the most misunderstood.

T for Thinking
Thinkers are known for logical thought processes and wanting to be “fair.” You enjoy the technical side of things and don’t let personal feelings play into your decision-making process. This sometimes means you forget the people involved with the situation, and because of that you may be regarded as indifferent or cold. You want to decide in favor of the truth in all matters. You might also be drawn toward the technical and scientific fields where logic is king.

F for Feeling
As a Feeler your decisions are typically made based on the points-of-view of the people involved with the situation. The truth is important to you, but you’ll beat around it if it will hurt someone’s feelings. Harmony is key, and you dislike making people go against their values or morals. You may often be referred to as “mushy” or “overly-sentimental,” and you can be incredibly idealistic. You are driven to be compassionate and considerate of other opinions, even when the logical decision would be easiest.

The problem with these two letters is that Feeling is often equated with “emotions,” and that is not accurate. Both Thinkers and Feelers have emotions about decisions that they make; the difference is that Thinkers will ultimately make their conclusion based on logic and what they believe to be fair, while Feelers will more highly consider the people that will be affected by the decision. And remember, no one is fully one or the other, so Thinkers will sometimes make more “Feeler” decisions and vice versa.

A good tip for both Thinkers and Feelers about making decisions is to examine the decision you make through the eyes of whatever type you aren’t. This can allow more dominant Thinkers to see the personal side of the situation and can lend a more objective view of a situation to prominent Feelers.

Tomorrow: Judging & Perceiving, the dichotomy of lifestyle

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long

Five Ways to be Healthier in College

It’s time to stop going on those late night Sonic runs and get your health in order.

Being in college can be a difficult time trying to balance homework, social events, organizations, family and much more. But don’t let health take a back seat. Balancing a college lifestyle and a healthy lifestyle can be difficult.

Here are a few small steps college students can take to ensure an overall higher level of health.

1. Order water. As a college student, a large part of your social events will revolve around food—trying out an awesome new café downtown, having dinner with your parents when they come to visit or catching lunch with an old friend. By ordering water when you go out, not only can you cut down your caloric intake (and your bill!) but you can also keep yourself hydrated!

2. Find social ways to exercise. One awesome thing about being in college is that you have access to a lot of fitness resources. Most campuses have gyms and offer classes that can be a lot of fun if you take advantage of them. Have a girl’s night and take a Zumba class or get a pick-up game of football together. Making exercise social makes it more bearable.

3. Eat smaller portions. When you’re consuming most of your meals in a buffet-style setting (think most college cafeterias) it can be easy to get carried away with portions. Stop and listen to your body. You’ll find you’re full more quickly than you think.

4. Cut back on the coffee. Most college students can’t function without a cup of joe first thing in the morning, and coffee by itself isn’t that unhealthy. But when you buy a caramel machi-whatever at the local coffee shop every morning, those calories add up fast.

5. Keep a regular sleep schedule. This seems impossible for most college students, but you would be amazed at how much better you will feel overall by following a similar sleeping pattern every day. When you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep, your body is more balanced, stronger and healthier in general.

Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 2/4): The Dichotomy of Learning


Yesterday we covered the basics of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the first dichotomous pair—Extroversion and Introversion, the dichotomy of energy.

The dichotomy of learning

The second MBTI pair, Sensing and iNtuition, focuses on how we take in and process information.

S for Sensing
Sensors love their facts. You concentrate on the here and now and what needs to be done. Highly practical, you are much more at ease with solid evidence than theory. You place more value on what you can physically sense (hence the name “Sensing”) over abstract ideas. There is always a bottom line with you. Sometimes you might concentrate so much on what the next step will be that you miss the big picture, but your pragmatism is appreciated by the iNtuitives who have problems translating their big ideas into reality.

N for iNtuition
(Note: Since I is already used for Introversion, the MBTI uses N to denote Intuition) iNtuitives live in a world of big ideas and daydreams. You get caught up easily in what “could be,” which means you can be highly unprepared for reality. You are much more likely to trust your “vibes” of a situation over what actually is happening. Always open to new possibilities and ideas, you are drawn to the metaphorical over the factual. You sometimes get so caught up in your big plans that you never do anything about making them happen, but your imagination and skill at picking up on patterns makes you invaluable when working with Sensors.

This dichotomy often makes itself known in academic and group work settings. The iNtutitives will often craft the “big picture” and what exactly they want the end result of a project to be, but the Sensors will be the ones who will figure out how to get to that end.

And just like with Extroversion and Introversion, there are no “pure” Sensors or iNtuitives. It simply indicates your preference in the majority of life circumstances.

Tomorrow: Thinking and Feeling, the dichotomy of decision making

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long

Restaurant Review: El Barrio

DL El Barrio-3

Tucked away along the outskirts of downtown Birmingham, El Barrio provides a party—well, more like a fiesta—atmosphere despite the restaurant’s crowded space.

I recently tried Birmingham’s trendy Mexican restaurant for the first time to see what all of the hubbub was about and El Barrio didn’t disappoint.


Although it’s a smaller restaurant, El Barrio’s atmosphere is rather unique. It is complete with murals along the walls and community tables where customers can mingle and eat with a group they may not know

There is a full bar and an open dining area, so it lends itself to being a louder environment. In my opinion the louder nature of the environment is a positive for the restaurant. When I ate there, a sizable group of young professionals enjoyed drinks and several orders of chips, as well as each other’s company.


I’ve only made one trip to El Barrio so it’s impossible to have tried everything, but I was able to eat one of the specialty tacos and the popular chicken quesadilla.

The pollo taco features a soft-shelled taco stuffed with roasted chicken, bacon, cheese, chipotle slaw and avocado sauce. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with these tacos. They’re decent in size, so two should be just enough to fill you up.

El Barrio also has three kinds of quesadillas to choose from; I chose the chicken. Although El Barrio doesn’t “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to quesadillas, the chicken quesadilla had a nice surprise. The sauce inside the quesadilla was a green and tangy tomatillo sauce that really helped make the quesadilla special in my opinion.DL El Barrio-4

On a side note, the chips and queso dip are delicious. Make sure to get that as your side when you take a trip to El Barrio. You won’t be disappointed.


The only negative with El Barrio seemed to be the space. It’s hard to find a time for dinner when it’s not crowded. I attempted to go to El Barrio on a Saturday night, but it was an hour and a half wait, so make sure to be careful about when you choose to go, or you could be waiting a significant amount of time.


4 out of 5

Photos by Drew Laing

Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 1/4): The Basics & the Dichotomy of Energy


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular personality profiles in the world. Used by schools, businesses and other organizations, the MBTI aims to heighten self-awareness and further personal growth by identifying patterns in personality and preference.

April Robinson, a qualified administrator of the MBTI through the Center for the Application of Psychological Type , is a strong believer in the MBTI as a tool to increase understanding of yourself and others.

“It’s not discriminating or judgmental,” Robinson says, “it just gives you a set of vocabulary and behavior with which to approach others.”

MBTI basics

The MBTI breaks down personality into eight letters separated into four dichotomous pairs. jlMyersBriggs1

Extroversion & Introversion (dichotomy of energy)
Sensing & iNtuition (dichotomy of learning)
Thinking & Feeling (dichotomy of decision making)
Judging & Perceiving (dichotomy of lifestyle)

Your final MBTI “type” will be made up of one letter from each pair. There are a total of 16 different types.

While the MBTI is widely used and referenced, there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the dichotomies and letters and what exactly they indicate about personality. Therefore, the aim of this and the following three articles is to focus on each dichotomy and letter in a way that makes sense.

The dichotomy of energy

The first dichotomy, Extroversion & Introversion, addresses how we gain energy. This is typically the pair that is most obvious to the outside world.

E for Extroversion
As an extrovert, you get your energy from being around other people and from events going on around you. Being alone for extended periods of time drives you bonkers, and you may put off running errands until you can find someone to do them with you. You are easy to get to know, and the phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” was coined because of you. Small talk is never an issue, but you’ve been known to blurt things out without thinking…at all. Despite your trouble with long-term concentration, your ability to persuade and interact with all sorts of people makes you an excellent leader.

I for Introversion
As an introvert, you feel rejuvenated when you have time by yourself. Too much time around other people begins to tax your energy reserves, no matter how much you may like the company. You tend to stick to a small, close circle of friends, and you much prefer working by yourself on projects. You take the time to think through things before you take action, and you don’t share your feelings with the world. You’re often considered “quiet” or “reserved,” but that’s just because you feel more comfortable in the world of your own mind than in a large crowd of people.

One of the most important things to remember about this dichotomy is that just because you are an extrovert does not mean you will always be a loud, boisterous individual, nor does being an introvert mean that you hate being with people. It is simply an indicator of how you recharge your batteries.

Another important note is that no one is ever a “pure type.” That is, no one is wholly one thing or another. All extroverts will have at least a little bit of introversion about them and vice versa. How you score on the MBTI just shows which you prefer most often.

Tomorrow: Sensing & iNtuition, the dichotomy of learning

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photos and graphics by: Jackie Long

Library Books Only a Click Away

In a world filled with the instant gratification of iTunes and Netflix, the library seems like a relic of the past. However, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative has joined this brave new world of technology with its downloadable e-book system.

The NOOK Project Hoover Public Library“We have a lot of users that have library cards that never actually come to the library,” Theresa Davis, library specialist at Hoover Public Library, says. “So it’s a way to serve a population that you may never see.”

To use the e-book system, you need a library card from any of the libraries in the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. Log onto the site using your card and select an e-book.

Depending on availability, you may be put on a waiting list. Once the e-book is available, you can check it out and download it to your device.

Downloading instructions are available online and may differ depending on the device. E-books are automatically returned, so there’s no need to worry about late fees.

Davis cites the convenience of the e-book system as one of its biggest advantages.

“If I’m done reading something I don’t want to have to wait until I come into work the next day to get a book,” Davis says. “I want to go ahead and start something else.”

The library’s e-book collection consists of 11,475 e-books, including popular titles such as “Gone Girl” and “A Game of Thrones.” Audiobooks are also available.

E-book Help Desk Hoover Public Library

If you don’t have a reading device, no need to worry. The NOOK Project offers the e-book collection to people who may not have a reading device. It’s a collaboration with Barnes & Noble that allows library cardholders to check out preloaded NOOKs.

Patrons can check out these NOOKs for a three-week period and can renew them for another three weeks if there is no hold on that particular NOOK. NOOKs are available at the Hoover, Homewood and Mountain Brook libraries.

Libraries also offer services that can’t be found online.

“We offer so many more things other than just the books,” Davis says. “We have monthly programs on the plaza. We have bands come in.”

Hoover Public Library will be hosting a NOOK class Monday, May 6 at 6:30-7:30 for NOOK Simple Touch and 7:30-8:30 for NOOK HD/HD+. The local Barnes & Noble will be teaching the class in the Theatre Level Meeting Rooms at the library. No registration required.

Photos by Julie Matthews


Beginning her Career: Emily Hearn takes on the music scene

Emily HearnIn the span of her college career, Emily Hearn went from someone who confessed she was not into “the music thing,” to a full-time musician with two albums, multiple tours and a music video with Bill Murray.

The lesson to learn from this story: life can take you anywhere.

Twenty-two-year-old Hearn says she has always been slow to call herself a musician, but the fact is her music career began at an early age. Enrolled in voice and piano lessons, she quickly discovered that she was not interested in reading music, but instead, playing by ear.

During her senior year of high school, she began to teach herself how to play the guitar, and it took her until the end of her freshman year at the University of Georgia before she considered herself good enough to sing and play at the same time.

“I met some roommates and friends that were really into live music. They got me hooked on going to shows, and they were always trying to get me to write and play music,” she says.

It was her friends who encouraged her to perform her first show, and then continued to push her to play at venues around Athens, Ga.

Finally, Hearn began to realize that she could make a career out of music. She withdrew from college during her junior year and admits that she is still in disbelief about the success that has followed her since that day.


Her success began when producer Trey Roth from Hearn’s hometown of Griffin, Ga.,  heard her music on MySpace. He contacted her, saying he wanted to help. The result was her first EP, Paper Heart, released in 2010.

“I made an EP, which was totally random. I had only written five songs in general, so I didn’t really feel like a real artist or a real musician,” Hearn says.

Hearn was taken even more by surprise when the director of her music video for “Rooftop” told her that he had special guest Bill Murray.

“They told me Bill Murray, and I didn’t sleep at all that night,” Hearn says.

The next morning, she met Murray for the first time. “He walked up with a coffee for himself and one for me. He said to me, ‘I like your dress.’ All I could say back is, ‘I like you,” she says.

Hearn followed Paper Heart with her first full-length album The Red Balloon in 2012. Compared to her first album, Hearn says it was easier to write for the second one.

“I was testing myself as a songwriter to see if I could write out of emotion,” she says. “I wanted it to be in the same vain as Paper Heart, but just more mature.”

Hearn says she continues to write news songs, and she hopes to release a new EP this summer.

“I am excited about putting out new music,” she says. “I’m trying to make some music that’s really fun to perform live.”

Photos by Sarah Waller