Christmas Events in Birmingham

By: Taylor Pigman

Christmas music is playing on the radio, decorations have been put up across the city and the Christmas shopping has begun. We’ve picked out a few Christmas events happening in Birmingham that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Alabama Ballet presenting George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”
A Christmas classic, “The Nutcracker,” is sure to be fun for the entire family. The ballet will be performed at the Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center at Samford University. The show runs Dec. 12–21. For tickets and more information, please visit www.samford.edu/wrightcenter

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas at the BJCC Concert Hall
The perfect event for date night, pick up tickets for Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas special. Be sure to purchase tickets soon, as the only performance is Tuesday, Dec. 23. For tickets and more information, please visit www.ticketmaster.com

Winter Wonderland Holiday Exhibit presented by McWane Science Center
Bring your family to the McWane Science Center for a day filled with holiday cheer and fun. Zip lining, ice sliding and ice fishing are sure to keep your family entertained. Tickets are available for purchase at the McWane Science Center. For more information, please visit www.mcwane.org/winterwonderland

ZooLight Safari at the Birmingham Zoo presented by Wells Fargo
Get in the holiday spirit with an evening at the Birmingham Zoo. At night, the zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland filled with lights, rides and Christmas music. For tickets and more information, please visit www.birminghamzoo.com/events

Christmas Movies at the Alabama Theatre
From Dec. 12 to Dec. 22, the Alabama Theatre will be playing the holiday classics. Bring your friends and family for a fun holiday filled night out. For tickets and more information, please visit www.alabamatheatre.com/events

Coffee Made Easy with Icebox

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It’s happening: Starbucks red cups are back to declare the beginning of the most anticipated time of the year. While it may be entertaining to take a selfie with the most iconic symbol of Christmas (besides Jesus, of course), specialty drinks are no longer reserved as a coffee shop’s forte. Thanks to Icebox Coffee, a brand of New Orleans-style cold brew, you are now able to make your favorite drinks without ever leaving the house.

As a New Orleans native, Bebe Goodrich was raised in a coffee culture. When she moved out of her hometown and traveled to Birmingham, she was unable to find the great cup of coffee she enjoyed back home. In 2012, Goodrich began creating her own coffee concoction using the cold-brew method—a process that involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time. By brewing without the use of heat, Icebox leaves out the harsh acids and oils that are found in most competing brands. That leaves a unique blend of strong, rich flavors.

“The best feature of Icebox Coffee is the versatility,” says Goodrich, owner of and brains behind the brand. “Icebox Coffee can make everything on a Starbucks menu, which works out well inside your home. If one person like weak coffee and the other likes strong cups of coffee, they can both have that satisfaction out of one bottle.”

With Icebox, you can create just about anything from culinary treats to seasonal sips. You can use the concentrate to enhance and add layers of flavors to your favorite recipes including cocktails, frozen treats, sauces and much more. To learn more about Bebe Goodrich and Icebox Coffee, visit iceboxcoffee.com

Eggnog Café
In a large mug, mix 1.5 ounces of Icebox Coffee, 1 ounce eggnog and 6 ounces of hot water.

Nutella Latte
In a large mug, mix 1.5 ounces of Icebox Coffee, 1.5 tbsp of Nutella and 8 ounces of hot milk. Stir vigorously until Nutella is fully melted. Use milk frothier to create foam or top with whipped cream.

Toffee Coffee Fudge
Ingredients:
3 oz Icebox Coffee
3 cups sugar
¾ cup butter
5 oz evaporated milk
3 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking bars (chopped)
7 oz marshmellow crème
2 Heath candy bars (chopped)

Directions:
1. Line 9-inch square pan with foil
2. Bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to boil
3. Once boiling, cook for 4 minutes white stirring constantly
4. Remove from heat
5. Add Icebox Coffee, chocolate and marshmallow crème
6. Stir until melted
7. Pour into pan
8. Top with Heath bar pieces
9. Let fudge cool completely before cutting and serving

If you try a recipe, tweet us a picture! @ExodusMagazine

St. Jude Launches Annual Holiday Campaign

Give. To help more kids live.

That is the slogan behind St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s holiday campaign, Thanks and Giving. This year, St. Jude celebrates the 11th year of the campaign. Last year, through the help of celebrities, corporate sponsors and donors, the campaign raised more than $97 million. Since the campaign began, it has raised more than $485 million.

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude. St. Jude treats patients from around the world and an average of 67,000 patients visit each year. The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $2 million. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped increase the survival rate of childhood cancer from 20 percent to more than 80 percent. For more information and ways to donate visit www.stjude.org.

On Nov. 10, President Obama announced that one of the co-creators of the campaign, Marlo Thomas, daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Thomas serves as the National Outreach Director for the hospital.

This holiday season, help to fight childhood cancer by participating in the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. When shopping at Kmart, CVS, Ann Taylor, Williams-Sonoma, Nine West, Marshalls and many others, shoppers will be given the opportunity to donate to St. Jude. There are also St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk.™ events across the country. On Saturday Nov. 22, participants will walk to raise support for St. Jude. Participants can form teams or join preexisting teams. In Alabama, there will be walks in Huntsville, Mobile and Baldwin County. Click here for a full list of locations.

To increase awareness, the Thanks and Giving PSA trailer will be shown in participating theaters across the country. The trailer features St. Jude patients alongside celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Jon Hamm, Michael Strahan, Luis Fonsi and Sofia Vergara.

In addition to the Walk and shopping opportunities, you can donate directly through the St. Jude Thanks and Giving website.

Remy’s Dog Park: For the love of dogs and people

On any given day, dogs can be seen at Remy’s Dog Park, which is nestled in the perimeters of Red Mountain Park, a fifteen-minute drive from downtown.

Dogs and owners can be found walking, running and playing ball in Birmingham’s new city park. Dogs are able to meet other dogs and play freely together. As more people move into the city and bring their furry friends along, the need for this kind of park has grown exponentially.

Remy’s Dog Park is unique to Birmingham because it is one of the only dog parks in the nation with three double lined fenced dog areas. One of these areas is specifically designed for special needs dogs, which allows dogs who might be recovering from surgery or old in age to explore the grounds at their own pace.

The dog park also features both open grass areas and shaded woods. This enables dogs to run at full speed, learn how to socialize, get exercise, gain behavioral skills and explore. The park is not just beneficial for dog socialization, as the park draws dog owners together.

Ken Jackson, the philanthropist behind Remy’s Dog Park, believes that the park could be a place for people to bond over a mutual love for dogs.

“Whether people are coming from Hueytown or Mountain Brook, they are being brought together through a common interest: their dogs. People are talking because of their dogs,” said Jackson.

Jackson wanted to be involved with the design of the park and believes that once the final work is finished it could be one of the best dog parks anywhere. The park was opened in September and continues to gain additions. Once the parking lot is finished, the permanent water stations will be put in place.

Over 200 Birmingham locals extended helping hands to ensure the park’s formation by clearing the land and giving over 750 hours of their time. Part of the appeal of this park is that it was built by and for Birmingham dwellers, like one giant backyard for anyone and everyone.

David Dionne, executive director of Red Mountain Park, referred to Red Mountain Park as an urban signature park and believes the park will help define Birmingham in the future.

“Remy’s Dog Park is special because it cuts across socioeconomics, race, age, and all you need is a dog or a love for dogs,” Dionne said.

Dogs don’t see the world in the way humans do, but simply love their home and those around them.
The park is expected to continue growing as a beloved aspect to the city in hopes that we love our home and those around us, learning to socialize like the dogs at Remy’s Dog Park.

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Alabama Adventures: Fencing at the Birmingham Fencing Club

By Sydney Cromwell

When life is feeling stale and you need a break in your routine, the Magic City delivers. From 14,000 feet in the air to hundreds of feet under ground, we found the best adventures in the Birmingham area. This is part five in a six-part series.

Youth fencers spar with each other during a class at Birmingham Fencing Club.
Youth fencers spar with each other during a class at Birmingham Fencing Club.

 

Fencing
Birmingham Fencing Club
1581 Montgomery Highway, Suite 109
Classes: $95 a month
Free fencing: the first Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m.
(205) 823-4448
fencingclub.org

Can’t get enough of movie swordfights? Bring those scenes to life by learning to fence.

David Arias, the director of the Birmingham Fencing Club, said the fun of fencing is that it’s a physical workout that requires quick thinking and strategy. No two fencing matches are the same, so the sport is all about anticipating your opponent’s moves and knowing when to strike.

“I really love the strategy thinking parts of it,” Arias said. “It’s completely up to you to quickly analyze your opponent and come up with a strategy to win.”

Fencing has existed in the city “as long as Birmingham’s been here,” but the Fencing Club started in 1997 as a nonprofit. In December 1998, husband and wife Yuanjing Wang and Hongyun Sun immigrated from China and began coaching at the club. Both hold advanced fencing degrees, Wang is a Chinese National Foil Champion and Sun took 5th in fencing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“They’re really extraordinary. It’s kind of like getting Michael Jordan to come do your middle school basketball program,” Arias said.

Arias said the club makes fencing affordable, as students can use club equipment and take as many classes as they want for the monthly fee. Many choose to buy their own equipment and travel to competitions around the country, but others at the club simply pursue it as a hobby.

There are about 100 club members now, ranging from young children to senior citizens. Arias said the nature of fencing and safety equipment makes it almost impossible to get hurt, so fencers can focus only on their athleticism and strategy. Often, unexpected people develop a real talent for the sport.

“In competition, I’ve been beaten by an 11-year-old girl and I’ve been beaten by an 87-year-old man,” Arias said.

Winter driving

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With winter weather approaching and last season’s “Snow-pocalypse” fresh in the city’s collective memory, safety concerns are more serious than ever. Drivers should adapt their driving techniques to the weather’s compromised roads.

An ice scraper, blankets and reflective markers or flares are all essential winter items to store in the trunk, according to Wayne Pittman, chief of the Samford Police Department.

“In the wintertime, don’t let your gas tank get down to empty before you fill it up,” Pittman warned. If you do have a problem, you’re not going to have any gas to keep yourself warm.”

Pittman’s first advice for winter driving is simply preventive: “If you don’t have to drive, stay home — that’s the number one thing right there. Any time you get out on roads that are icy or there’s snow on them, and they’re a little bit slick, there’s an increased potential for something to happen.”

Drivers that are unfamiliar with icy roads often panic and react poorly to skidding tires. Instead of slamming on the brakes, allowing the tires to slide, drivers should gently let off the brake pedal and allow the wheels to spin again on the road. Once traction is regained, resume braking cautiously.

Bridges typically ice over before roadways. Steady driving will bypass any ice or slick spots, even on exposed pavement.

“When you go over a bridge, maintain your speed and keep going straight,” said Pittman. “Don’t accelerate or hit the brake, because if there is ice, you’ll definitely start sliding on bridges.”

Leaving a vehicle behind in a snowy lane may be a last resort, but there are steps to be taken beforehand that many drivers don’t consider.

“If you’re on a slight hill and you’re close to home, you might consider letting some air out of your back tires so they flatten out just a little bit for some more traction to possibly get you up the hill,” Pittman suggests. “Once you get home, make sure you get them inflated again before you do very much driving.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitors traffic conditions for the entire country. Drivers can check with NOAA, their local news agencies or various smartphone apps to stay updated and informed.

Healthy Holidays

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The most wonderful – and most tempting – time of the year is almost here.

When families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, food is often a centerpiece. Rich casseroles, calorie-laden side dishes and decadent holiday desserts abound. One report from the New England Journal of Medicine found that on average, adults gain about one pound every year during the winter months. While that might not sound too bad, it can add up over time and, according to the study, people who gain weight during the holidays are less likely to shed pounds throughout the rest of the year. Here are five tips to get a jump start on your spring break body by avoiding holiday food pitfalls.

Don’t overeat because of stress.
End-of-semester deadlines, projects and tests are piling up, and it’s tempting to indulge in caloric comfort foods and fast food instead of making smart choices. Take frequent breaks from long periods of study and make exercise a priority to avoid “comfort eating.” It can help to slow down and focus on the foods you’re consuming insteading of taking in mindless calories while you watch TV or scroll through your phone.

Keep healthy snacks readily available.
Know you have a late-night study session coming up? Throw a piece of fruit or a granola bar in your backpack. You’ll be much less likely to be tempted by every organization’s Christmas cookie or donut study break that way.

Don’t neglect exercise.
Squeezing in a morning jog, afternoon walk, or fitness class at the local gym will keep your metabolism high and your energy up. Replace your post-Turkey Day nap with a brisk walk around the neighborhood and you’ll burn off unwanted calories and stay on track physically. Even short 10 or 15-minute sessions of exercise will help when you don’t have time for a full workout.

Be aware of portion size.
As one saying goes, “no one ever got fat off of one cookie.” Treat yourself to your favorite holiday foods, but enjoy them in moderation. Try avoiding pre-packaged sweets and only enjoy special holiday desserts. Think indulging in your mom’s famous pumpkin pie, not a bag of holiday candy from the store you could find year-round.

Don’t skip meals.
Skipping meals to “save calories” will only result in overindulging later. Eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal and light snacks before bigger meals. Katherine Tallmadge, author of “Diet Simple,” says “eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint.”

Alabama Adventures: Kayaking with the Birmingham Canoe Club

Club President Helen Todd kayaks a lake at Oak Mountain State Park.

By Sydney Cromwell

When life is feeling stale and you need a break in your routine, the Magic City delivers. From 14,000 feet in the air to hundreds of feet under ground, we found the best adventures in the Birmingham area. This is part four in a six-part series.

Kayaking
Birmingham Canoe Club
Meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Homewood Library, 1721 Oxmoor Road
Dues: $20 per family annually
birminghamcanoeclub.org

Pick up a paddle and take on the rush of whitewater or the sweet calm of a placid river. The Birmingham Canoe Club organizes canoe and kayak trips for paddlers of every skill level.

Helen Todd, the club president, said the Canoe Club started in 1971 to “provide a community for people who want to learn more about paddle sports in general.” She started kayaking 16 years ago and is now one of over 120 active members.

“It’s a great hobby; it’s exciting. You meet new friends. It’s a different kind of way to get out and get outside,” Todd said.

The club adjusts its paddling locations with the seasons. Winter rains bring whitewater to Birmingham-area rivers, including club-owned property on the Mulberry River. In the summer, Todd said the club travels to south Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee to seek naturally occurring rapids.

There are classes in the summer to teach new paddlers about safety and technique, as well as February and March races on the Mulberry and Locust Fork rivers. Todd said the club is also able to rent out boats to people who do not have them.

Some members work their way up to kayaking on whitewater, while others stay quite happily on lakes and smoother rivers. The Canoe Club is all about simply enjoying a day on the water.

“If you’re comfortable in the water and you like being outdoors and you don’t mind camping, this would be a fun sport for you,” Todd said.

Quinlan Castle: A castle located in the heart of Magic City

By: Taylor Pigman

Photographs By: Natalie Wilkinson

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Located on 9th Ave. S., just a few blocks from Five Points, sits Quinlan Castle. Built in 1927, the Castle has served as apartments and a potential site for Birmingham’s first Catholic church. It became recognized by the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Today, Quinlan Castle sits uninhabited.

Southern Research Institute (SRI), a research organization that studies engineering, energy, life sciences and environmental sciences, purchased the property from the City of Birmingham in 2008. SRI, whose offices surround Quinlan Castle, wanted to preserve the building’s historical façade and restore the Castle to a functional work site.

SRI does not have a specific plan for the future of the property. However, several possible ideas are being thought out, one of which is the possibility of a high school STEM outreach program, a combination of courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Renovations on the building have already begun. SRI has cleaned the inside of the property and replaced turrets, windows and the roof. As renovations continue, SRI plans to work in conjunction with the Birmingham Historical Society to best preserve the building.

“The exterior of the building is structurally sound,” Rossi Morris, advanced marketing specialist at SRI, said. “We are in the very early stages of a renovation discussion. We fully intend to preserve the integrity of the building.”

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Breakfast in Birmingham: Demetri’s Barbecue

Demetri’s in downtown Homewood is more than just barbeque.

While the restaurant is known for its pork sandwiches and ribs, it is possibly better known for its breakfast.

Yes, breakfast at a barbecue joint.

Demetri’s offers a variety of breakfast options including omelettes, traditional breakfast platters, huevos rancheros and a unique take on French toast.

If you visit on a weekday, you will run into professionals having business meetings over eggs and toast, sisters meeting for toast and Southern grits and retirees arguing about state politics over black coffee.

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The décor is typical of a barbecue restaurant, with wood-paneled walls and orange barstools. At breakfast, however, the setting and slight smell of smoke allude to storybook mornings in the country.

The specialty French toast at Demetri’s is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Even a small order begins a hefty portion of dense, thick-cut bread that is dipped in egg and coated in crushed cereal. The result is a crunchy crust and chewy center, topped with powdered sugar and, if you choose, maple syrup.

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Demetri’s is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

Birmingham has a lot to offer if it’s 8:00 a.m. and you are hungry. Join us as we explore the different options around town, and look for the print copy of Exodus in early December for the full list.