Q&A with Sarah McFarland, Alpha Omicron Pi’s President

Samford University is home to six panhellenic sororities, one of which is Alpha Omicron Pi. The sorority is lead by an executive council that strives to make the chapter the absolute best it can be. Sarah McFarland, a junior accounting major from St. Louis, Missouri, has been the chapter president of Samford’s AOII for the past few months. Although McFarland enjoys binging shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends and eating far too many scoops of Edgewood Creamery icecream most of her time is spent serving with and for her fellow sisters. I got the chance to sit down her McFarland and ask her about her experience serving in such a crucial role and being a full time student.

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Earth Day Purpose and Celebrations

Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 but the history and idea behind the day is not commonly discussed. The concept for Earth Day was for the nation to focus on the environment for one day. Founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After seeing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and being ruled by the student anti-war movement, he related the public needed to be aware of the air and water pollution they were contributing.  Nelson worked until the next year

Earth Day Network states that “on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” Learn more about Earth Day.

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“Coffee-coffee-coffee, is a saying. It’s a funny, desperate cry for caffeine.”

Here in Birmingham, coffee seems to run through the city’s veins like it runs through the fictional veins of Lorelai Gilmore. If you’re looking for a place to study, catch up with a friend, or fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. Here are five unique coffee shops in Birmingham, AL.

1. seeds coffee company, 174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209

Seeds is has an industrial-rustic chic and laid-back atmosphere that’s always buzzing with studious college students and twenty-somethings.

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Three Inexpensive Nights Out In Birmingham

You deserve a night out. If you are a college student like me, you are probably juggling six or more classes, an internship for academic credit and a paid full-time job just to pay your rent. Because of all these things, you have the right to treat yourself every once and a while. The issue often tends to be that, though you may want a night out, you cannot afford to spend a lot of money. That is where I come in. Having lived in the city of Birmingham my whole life, I knew quite a few spots that can help you save a few bucks while enjoying what the city has to offer. Here is a short list of three different locations in Birmingham on the cheap. You can find directions to each location by clicking on the venue name in the list.

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Top 5 Places to Hike in Birmingham

DSC_0178Birmingham is located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, providing adventuring souls with hundreds of acres of trails to explore. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a steep climb, there is a hiking trail just for you.

Oak Moutain State Park
What to do: hiking, biking, geocaching, boating, fishing
Best Hiking Trails: Peavine Falls
Location: 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham, AL 35124
Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM
Admission: $4/person

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve
What to do: hiking, Visitors’ Center exhibits
Best Hiking Trails: Crusher Trail, Overlook Trail
Location: 1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, AL 35206
Hours:9 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Free
Things to know: No exit after 5 PM, closed on Mondays, opens at 1 PM on Sundays
Tech tip: Go to Ruffner’s website to access a trail map that can track your current location

Moss Rock Preserve
What to do: Hiking, bouldering
Best Hiking Trails: Orange Trail
Location: 617 Preserve Way, Hoover, AL 35226
Hours: Daylight
Admission: Free
Note: Be sure to go to the boulder fields!

Red Mountain Park
What to do: hiking, biking, zip line, geocaching, dog park
Best Hiking Trails: SkyHy Treehouse (via Smythe)
Overlooks: Ishkooda Overlook, Grace’s Gap Overlook
Location: 2011 Frankfurt Drive, Birmingham, AL 35211
Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM
Admission: Free

Jemison Park
What to do: Walking/Running, Picnicking
Location: Shades Creek Parkway/Lakeshore Drive near Mountain Brook
Hours: Daylight
Admission: Free

 

Three Cheers for Otey’s Tavern

In Mountain Brook, Ala., multiple generations have grown up relying on Otey’s Tavern, not only for great food, but also for a charming and laid-back atmosphere.

Tucked away in Crestline Village for more than two decades, Otey’s Tavern is a restaurant and bar whose customer base is as varied as its menu. Loyal customers range from teenagers grabbing a bite after school, to moms gathering for lunch with their small children, to college students looking to relax when the sun goes down.

Otey’s serves a variety of appetizing foods such as award winning wings, fried chicken salad, classic burgers and the soup of the day.

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The tavern may be small in size, but its entertainment is vast. You can listen to live music from the best bands in the Birmingham area on Otey’s stage. Wednesdays at Otey’s are known for team trivia nights, which have become enticing and competitive for regulars. Occasionally, Otey’s even hosts block-style parties that attract larger crowds.

On March 16, Otey’s will co-host a St. Patrick’s Day party with About Town Magazine called “Shamrocks and Shenanigans,” featuring Seth Capper and The Cap Guns.

In no way does Otey’s consider itself fine dining, but instead a classic neighborhood hangout where everybody knows your name. Otey’s Tavern is more than a bar and more than a restaurant— it’s a staple of the Crestline community.

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Mulberry Heights

Caroline Bradford began her love affair with antiques sometime during a childhood spent looking through her grandmother’s attic. “I’ve always loved old things,” the Birmingham native and mother of three said.

It was that pleasure for the old-fashion that lead her to start Mulberry Heights Antiques. The small business sits along Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village. Cars and foot traffic are frequent as they pass by. The elegant store is one of many in the area and attracts visitors from all over the region.

Nearly eleven years has passed since Bradford first started her antiques store. What began as a childhood fascination with decorating lead her 18 years ago to start an interior design business with a friend. From there eventually became what is now Mulberry Heights. Bradford found having her own business outside of her home much easier and enjoyable.

“The fact that when you’re helping personal clients it’s so time consuming and you can’t leave it it’s always something you’re thinking about I just know that I’d rather have a retail shop and still sell and work with beautiful things.” The store first opened in a small house in Cahaba Heights, not originally in Mountain Brook. Bradford says that after a while they discovered that Cahaba was at the time, “Off the beaten path.” Only then when the store was moved to Mountain Brook did her business begin to pick up and sell more.

And its that same environment that she sees as so important to the benefit of Mulberry Heights.  “Mountain Brook is just a true destination place,” she says. Her business holds many of the things one would always find in an elegant antique shop but is known famously for its hand-painted Mulberry China found all throughout the store.

While having the store in Mountain Brook has been wonderful for business there was in Mulberry Heights a concern that being in an area such as Mountain Brook might be as Bradford puts it “intimidating.” “It’s getting better. Definitely several years ago that was a real thing we had to try to get over.” The concern of a fancy antiques store intimidating potential customers has not been a problem for Bradford’s business.

She believes very strongly that Mountain Brook has worked hard to be more inviting and overcome an old money stigma. “When you get personal with the businesses I think that really helps and makes other people see that this is just like anywhere else.”

And that personal touch has translated into a successful operation that appeals to all kinds of customers, especially through advertising. Bradford credits the company’s website along with their Facebook page as helping to branch out and reach more people.

Walking through the store one can find a rich variety of items all shipped from overseas. Many come from France where Bradford and her husband have visited often.

Customers who visit the store find it to be quiet and inviting. And while most are normally from the Mountain Brook area, some occasionally defy such a mold. One recent buyer included a former producer for the program “7th Heaven.” A sign that Mulberry Heights, like its antiques, can stay a part of Mountain Brook, while reaching beyond it.