100 Dishes in Alabama: Amsterdam Cafe’s Crab Cake and Avocado Sandwich

Last weekend, in addition to my Women of Faith gig, my big girl had a soccer game in Auburn. It worked out really well, because we just stopped in Auburn on our way home from Atlanta to play a double-header. I’d never taken J and the girls to my alma mater, so it was fun. I really wish we could have spent more time, but that just gives us a good excuse to go back.

We snuck in a wee visit to campus before the games started. We timed it perfectly and got to hear the chimes at Samford Tower strike noon and play the fight song.

Obviously, we were dressed for three hours of soccer – not for cute pictures on campus. Don’t look too closely or you’ll see that I cut myself out of the picture. Sitting through three hours of soccer games means Nike shorts and a tank top are in order, not cute clothes that would be appropriate for campus pictures. Oh, well. Another good excuse to go back to Auburn soon!

After the soccer massacre games, we headed over to Amsterdam Cafe to wind down and strike another dish off of our list of 100 Things To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. Back in the day, Amsterdam was one of my favorite places in Auburn. My roommates and I were regulars there. We’d go for dinner and stay a while playing shulbok, a game sort of like skee-ball. We loved it! We thought their turkey wrap was the best sandwich ever created. Apparently, we were easily impressed. Jonathan and I ordered a turkey wrap, just for posterity’s sake, and while it was good, I’ve had equally good turkey wraps many times since our Amsterdam days. I think it’s safe to say that my memory of the turkey wrap was bigger and better than the actual wrap. And the shulbok game I was so excited to play with my family? They took them out. Sigh.

Amsterdam Cafe has definitely become more upscale since I was a college student. The dish that landed them a spot on the list is their crab cake with avocado sandwich. I can assure you that they didn’t serve crab cakes when I was there or Pop would have seen many more charges to Amsterdam on his credit card. Unlike the turkey wrap, the crab cake sandwich is quite remarkable. I actually could have done without the croissant and the avocado, but the crab cake was excellent. It was full of lump crabmeat, not too much breading, and delicately seasoned. I’d have to say that it was one of the finer crab cakes I have ever eaten. I wish I’d just gotten it as an appetizer or dinner, without the sandwich fixings, because I could have eaten six of them! They were delicious!

Because the girls love hummus, we ordered the hummus appetizer for them. It was one of the most creative, artsy displays I have ever ordered. Truly, the presentation on this dish was amazing.

It came with a generous serving of hummus, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, fresh red bell peppers, and lovely artichoke hearts. While the food combination was perfect, and I will definitely serve this at my next party, the quality of the actual ingredients fell flat. The hummus was obviously homemade and quite fresh, but a little bland. We typically enjoy a little more garlic flavor to our hummus. The artichokes were a really nice complement. The black olives were canned and lackluster. I would definitely have gone with a nice kalamata olive instead. The flatbread was marvelous and beautiful. I believe it was homemade as well, and I’d love to know how they did it. It was the best part of the dish.

So overall the trip to my favorite eatery that I was so excited about actually got mixed reviews. It’s okay, Amsterdam! You still hold lots of wonderful memories for me!

The Hill’s 70th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

When these two married 70 years ago…

Do you think they imagined their family would one day look like this? (And there are about 10 of us missing!)

Let’s face it, most people don’t even live long enough to be married 70 years. So when Grandma and Papaw Hill’s anniversary rolled around this year, we figured it was an occasion to CELEBRATE!! We invited a few (hundred) of their friends over to Jonathan’s parents’ home. Y’all, those few hundred thought it was a reason to celebrate, too. They came in droves to help us have a good time!

There was much hugging of necks and congratulations exchanged.

Grandma’s best friends from high school came for the day. Can you imagine having friends with whom you’ve been friends for 80+ years!?! What a blessing! I can only imagine the stories these dear ladies could tell!

Jonathan’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lenelle Simmons, paid us a visit. This lady is so full of the joy of the Lord. I’ve never seen her that she wasn’t smiling that beautiful smile. I love to be around her because she only has good things to say. I’ve never once heard this sweet lady complaining about anything. It’s not that she doesn’t have anything to complain about. She just chooses to dwell on joy! I want to be like her.

I can’t even tell you how happy we were to see our dear former neighbor, Mary Ellen Germany. Mary Anneliese and “Germany”, as we affectionately call her, have been soul sisters since we brought MA home from the hospital, despite their almost 80 year age difference. When Mary Ellen fell critically ill last year, we were all devastated. She was so sick for so long that we really began to give up hope that she’d ever fully recover. In all honesty, we weren’t sure for a while that she’d ever leave the hospital. But my sweet girl never gave up asking God to heal her friend. And y’all, HE DID!!! She isn’t quite as strong as she once was, but this little bitty lady has returned to us. She is absolutely a walking, breathing beautiful miracle!

And, of course, there were tons of Hills there! I love this shot of Papaw holding court with his grandsons. He had some advice to share, I assure you!

The Hill Girls were there. Don’t we look like a hair color ad?

Poor Jerry Hill had to work all afternoon on winning over Patterson. But his persistence paid off in the end.

And, of course, my mother-in-law had a beautiful display of fabulous food.

And a beautiful cake that would rival any wedding cake.

Patterson liked it a little bit.

It was really a fun day! Being married to the same person for 70 years is something to be celebrated, and we were so glad to be a part of it.

Where We’ve Been

We’ve been uncharacteristically silent the last week. We’re still here – just haven’t had a lot going on to blog about. The spring activities are all coming to a close, and so we’re busy preparing for spring music programs, ballet recitals, and attending soccer games. We are busy finishing up our school work and doing some much needed spring chores around the house. Mom and Dad came for a visit this weekend. They spent the night and went to MA’s soccer game on Saturday morning before heading to see my brother’s family. It was good to have them here.

The girls and I are trying to put together some fun outings for this week. We’ll be back later to tell you all about it! Have a great week, everybody!

This Little Peanut

This little peanut…
has learned how to play games on my phone.

So while I’m watching her big sister’s soccer practice,

She sits on the front seat of my car and plays.

And for some reason, the sight of her looking so techno-savvy makes me laugh!

Walk With Me Through Wednesday

This year we have approached our extra-curricular activities a little differently. My girls absolutely love being involved in ballet, gymnastics, soccer, music, church activities, and just about any other kind of lesson or activity you can think of. It is the highlight of their week. So this year, we decided to just go with it. We stacked our schedule, particularly Wednesdays, full of out-of-the-house fun. It has been a lot of fun, but it has also worn us out. By Wednesday night, we are struggling to stay awake in the car long enough to get home and drop into bed. It’s a good tired, though. We are spent, but well-spent. Here’s a look at a typical Wednesday for us:
Since our schedule is well, scheduled, we have to go on no matter how the weather treats us. Yesterday it was yucky, rainy, cold, and gray. But, as they say in the theater, the show must go on.
Our first stop was to Mommy and Me music class, AKA Patti Music. This is probably the highlight of Patterson’s week. She thinks Miss Stephanie, our precious leader, hung the moon. She wakes on Wednesday mornings saying, “I go to Patti music and see Miss Stephanie?”

Although she usually sits quietly and watches in stead of actually singing and participating, she is indeed having the time of her life! Every once in a while, she stops people-watching long enough to actually SMILE!
Patti Music is enough to wear out a little girl, even though it’s only 11:00 am!

And when a girl gets tired, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Patti Music or not! Sometimes you just gotta lie down and take a nap!
While Patterson and I go to music, MA is next door working on her schoolwork. She benefits GREATLY from this quiet time to get her work done. She is free of distractions, and able to accomplish a lot during this time.
After the excitement of Patti Music, we usually find somewhere fun for lunch and scoot over to the library for a quick trip. We return books and check out new ones.
Next up: ballet for Mary Anneliese. This is her second of two ballet classes for the week. She is still at Briarwood Ballet, which we adore. While she is in ballet, Patti and I run errands. Yesterday we hopped over to Whole Foods to look for a particular vitamin that we couldn’t find anywhere else.

We finish in just enough time to run back to Briarwood pick up Bitty and move on to our next stop… the nursing home.
My grandmother has been at the nursing home since last year, when she had a major stroke. It left her unable to do much for herself, and affected  her speech, leaving it impossible for us to understand when she needs something. It’s a heart-wrenching decision to put someone you love into a nursing home, but we know she is being better taken care of by a team there than we could do for her at home. The girls and I try to go by and check on her at least twice each week, so we swing by to say hi. She is doing well, but having a sleepy day. (With the weather like it is, I’m having a sleepy day myself!). We chat a minute with her and the nurses to make sure she is doing well.
We dash out of South Haven in just enough time to get MA changed into her second leotard of the day – this time for gymnastics. Again, it is her second gymnastics class of the week. I think she loves gymnastics best of all the activities she is involved in. She has learned so much this year, and has learned to take some risks. She has become good friends with her classmates. One of those classmates is Damaris, whose family owns the Mexican restaurant a few stores down from the gym. We usually eat there multiple times each week, and last night Jonathan was able to meet us for a quick dinner before we need to be at church.
In a few short weeks, we will have the children’s spring musical. A couple of weeks ago kids auditioned for singing and drama parts. Drama practice started last night, so we left Jonathan and Patterson at the restaurant to head to church. We were pleased to find out that MA was given a drama part in the spring musical, and she stayed to practice with the rest of the cast until time for choir.

After getting her settled, I headed over to the mall for a minute to look for Easter dress. I only had time to go into two stores, and I didn’t really find anything I liked. I ran back to the church to pick up MA, giving her a few extra minutes to play in the playground with her friends. We headed home and got there just in time to put both girls to bed – only a little past bedtime.
What about you guys that homeschool and/or have busy children? Do you stack your busy-ness into a few days or does it work better for you to spread it out? How much is too much for your family?

Spring Soccer Saturdays

Soccer season started a few weeks ago. We missed our first game, and then we were off for two weeks for spring break. So Mary Anneliese played in her first game of the season on Saturday. We watched the weather all morning for fear that we would be rained out. We had a little rain delay, so we hung out in the back of my car for a while.

Once the rain subsided and the game ahead of us finished, my girl hit the field! She has missed soccer since their last game of the fall season. 
She played forward most of the game. It’s her favorite position, and the one she is best at. She loves being in the middle of the action and she doesn’t back down to girls who are bigger than her. She’s aggressive and fun to watch!
She has some great little girls on her team. And we love her coaches. She has the same coaches as last season. They all have daughters on the team and are so encouraging to the girls.
For the first time ever, my girl clocked a short time as goalie. I have to say, I was a nervous wreck the whole time she was in as goalie! Fortunately (for me) her team has an aggressive offense, and they kept the ball on the other end of the field the whole time. Whew!
I think you can tell by her face that she loves the game! She was happy with  6-2 win over a very good team from Clay. She contributed one of those goals, which makes the day for her!
We have all missed soccer since the fall season. She has missed playing and practicing, and her daddy and I have missed watching her. We’re glad to be back for the spring season.

Sping is Springing in the Ham

The girls wanted to eat their lunch at the Botannical Gardens today since the weather was so warm and pretty. So after gymnastics, we took a picnic to Mountain Brook to the Birmingham Botannical Gardens. The gardens are in full bloom and they are breath-taking. There were tulips in so many varieties, and they were all gorgeous! The impatiens, daffodils, cheery trees, confederate jasmine, begonias, and the lorapetalum were all bursting forth in color.

Leaf and Petal at the Gardens is the gift shop located on the Gardens grounds. They have a really eclectic assortment of things in the shop. Occassionally they will also offer plants. I bought several herbs for the planters on my deck. I can’t wait to cook with the fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint that we got.
Hope you are enjoying spring wherever you are!

Sneak Peek at Patterson’s Room

My baby is growing up! She has made a successful transition from her crib to her big girl bed. I kept her in the crib as long as I could, mainly because I didn’t want her getting up in the middle of the night. But the crib could no longer hold her, so we made the switch several weeks ago. And now begins the redecorating -changing the look from baby to growing preschooler.
You might remember my post about her nursery. The room is TINY, so we have to be very creative about how to fit enough furniture, while still leaving room to walk and play. I don’t want to repaint the room either. And we have a very small budget for this project. Impossibly mission? I think it can be done.
Here’s a sneak peek at the fabrics:

The yellow stripe, although part of the collection, doesn’t exactly MATCH the rest. It just BLENDS. So it will probably go in the bathroom across the hall. Maybe as the shower curtain?
What do you think? Thumbs up or down? You all know I have a hard time deciding on fabrics!! Help me!!
Your indecisive, overly-analytical, can’t-make-a-decision bloggy friend

Sweet Shot Tuesday

The girls and I have been in Orange Beach this week, and we were fortunate enough to attend the Orange Beach Festival of Art on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely, balmy afternoon-just perfect for strolling through a waterfront park looking at beautiful artwork. I’ll be back later with a full post about it, but I wanted to post this shot for Darcy’s Sweet Shot Tuesday. These are notebooks from one of the artists at the Festival. He made the paper by hand and then bound them into small journals. He hand painted the covers to finish them off. They were real works of art! Happy Sweet Shot day!

My Blue Angels

Okay, boys and girls. This post is going to be short and sweet because we have had a long, full day and I have a little one who is bucking me on bedtime tonight. Today we went with my dad to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. The museum has been there forever, but I have never taken the girls. I have heard about it, but never knew what it was about. Well, hello Dolly! They have over 150 restored airplanes inside this thing, and it is HUGE! As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted by a full-size replica of the Wright brothers’ plane that they flew at Kitty Hawk. Very cool!
Of course, since the Pensacola Naval Air Station is home to the Blue Angels, they have tons of Blue Angels memorabilia. They have planes hanging from the ceiling in the exact pattern they fly in. You cannot imagine  how close together those planes fly! It’s a miracle that they don’t crash into each other. No kidding, they are only feet away from the next plane while they are flying at top speeds through the air.
Little Bit got in every aircraft there! I think she has a new profession on her horizon! She’s a big, big fan of the planes.
And now, I bid you goodnight. ‘Cause this mama is worn OUT!