Sunday, November 29, 2009

Syrup Soppin

Saturday morning we got up, and met Abby and Gabby for breakfast at one of the many Waffle House's in Auburn, then headed for some shopping: World Market, Reinvent, Gnu's Room, Gus's Wine Shop, the Guitar Shop.

After we felt that we had spent enough money, we went to the Padgett family farm for the Annual Syrup Soppin. We walked around the dead car graveyard, and around the property, and watched the Padgett men make the syrup, and then the women bottling. We watched several folks play music on the porch. We stood around and talked and of course we ate... Brunswick stew, sausage balls, grilled meat, and many sweets. We brought the Jessie James Outlaw Cheesecake, and it was a hit.

It was a really slow and relaxing time, a wonderful way to end the thanksgiving holiday!

Below are a bunch of pictures of the afternoon!

War Eagle! and a new Auburn fan!

Friday morning, we woke up early and I helped Momma make turkey enchiladas with the left over turkey. We were making them to take to the tailgate parties that were going to be taking place later on during the day.

It was the day of the Iron Bowl, the most anticipated day in Alabama. Christmas and thanksgiving hold nothing on this day. For those of you that dont know, people in Alabama are born loving a team, Auburn or Alabama. I was given Auburn. If you move to the state, people will make you decide who you love. If you are visiting, you had better pick a team quickly and wisely.

James learned quickly that he needed to become an Auburn fan, so we found him a shirt, I gave him my hat, and mom fixed him up with a scarf.

We rode our bikes from my momma's office to our friends' tailgating spot. We parked our bikes by this appropriate sign.

We headed to the tiger walk where we got to greet all of the players and coaches, and give high fives, and promptly used the hand sanitizer we had in the backpack. We headed to several tail gate parties, where we were greeted with beer and meat, and made our way to the Ale House/strutting Duck, where we watched the game.

Oh what a great game it was. Auburn started off the first quarter 14-0 with fancy plays such as an onside kick, a flea flicker, and a few wild cats! it was so much fun. Then they began to play a conservative game for the rest of the show. Although the final score was 26-21, Alabama, we were proud that Auburn played so well against the nationally ranked #2 Alabama!

WAR EAGLE!!!! And that brings up another point, James learned that War Eagle is an accepted greeting in the Auburn area. James said it to everyone he passed. He still really hasnt stopped saying it. I am so proud of my new Auburn Fan!

After all of the excitement was over, we biked back to momma's office to load up our bikes. James leaned his bike here while we waited for it to cool down. We couldn't miss how appropriate the sign was!

well... that is it for now. WAR EAGLE!

Thanksgiving Day!

When the Thanksgiving plans started to come together, it promised to be relaxing, food filled and full of things to do. I talked James into jumping in my car and we headed north to the great state of Alabama.

We arrived in Auburn pretty late, around 9:30 or so and decided to get a drink before we headed to the house. We stopped at the Oyster Bar for a few minutes, but it was too bright for our tired, road dizzied eyes, so we ended up going to Fat Daddies, a darker, more down home place.

Although that bar is usually pretty countrified, that night was karaoke night, and I guess when the locals get the opportunity, they like to sing the Raps. We walked into Sir Mix-a-lot's Big Butts song, and ordered our drinks. We walked the edge of the bar looking at the hubcaps and James was able to name all of their respective cars. We headed home after that drink, because we were worn out from a long day.

Early Thursday morning, we got a cup of coffee, and started work on the famous Jessie James Outlaw Cheescake, version 2.0. On James' insistence we made the crust double thick. While we were waiting for the crust to chill, I made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, grits and bacon served with a clementine! After eating, we got back to cooking, James running the KitchenAid, and armed with a spatula, and me working to get all of the ingredients into the bowls. We whipped it up, poured it into the spring form, and it was in the oven.

I helped momma with some more choppin, pulled the cheesecake out, and James and I went into town where I showed him the sites. We walked by one of the tailgate spots, and spotted my friend Leigh, who gave James the Third Degree on what team he was for, so we immediately headed for Stamp to get him an Auburn shirt.

It was time for thanksgiving dinner, so we headed to Beauregard for the feast! The attendees of the feast were Al, Mom, Atilla, Peter and Jim. Atilla and Peter were from Hungry, and were working with Al to open the new plant. They wanted to see a real american thanksgiving before they left to go home, and we were aimin to show em one. There were two turkeys, one fried and one smoked, a brussle sprout casserole, mash potatoes and gravy, cornbread stuffing, and a giant salad. For desert there was a cranberry sorbet and the jessie james outlaw cheescake. while we were waiting for the food to be fit for eatin, Al showed the Hungarians how to shoot shotguns, and James let them ride his motorized bike.

Below are some pictures from the thanksgiving dinner.

Al carving one of the turkeys and mom opening a bottle of wine.

Peter and Atilla

Peter, Jim, Atilla and the two turkeys

The Feast

James found the man chair and wasnt moving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jessie James Outlaw Cheesecake and other exciting adventures

Around 10 am yesterday, James sent me an email with the weekend's Goings Ons at the Yacht Club. On it there was a Dessert Contest. We were in!

James and I talked about what we should make. My first thought was a Hummingbird Cake. It is always a favorite. But it is too summery. So I started searching my recipies and I narrowed it down to two. Banana Nut Bread Pudding with a Buttery Rum Sauce or the Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake with a Pecan Graham Cracker Crust. Although I have never made a cheesecake before, we both thought the elegance of a cheesecake would be more impressive than the bread pudding.

We pulled all of the ingredients together, and started making it. James ran the Kitchen-aid mixer, because its the manly thing to do. He also was in charge of the spatula and licking the bowls, but I helped a little with that last one.

We call it the Jessie James Outlaw Cheese Cake.

We got to the Yacht Club met up with KC, Trinh, Debbie and Terry. The judging had already happened. The email didnt say what time the contest was, and we missed it. Next time!

The Outlaw Cheese cake was a hit.

Dinner was delicious. It was steak night, and you bring and grill your own steak, and the Yacht Club supplies the sides. We got filet mignons from Fayards BP (this gas station is the best place on the coast to buy steaks, it is weird, i know, but dont question it too much)

After the Yacht Club, we headed for the Fillin' Station in Biloxi, where James was playin with Fort Bayou Slim. They sounded good, and there were a few people there I knew that I hadnt seen in a while. I even got up and danced for a spell.

All in all, it was a good night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Federal Building

Our office often gets the chance to explore neat buildings, and today we had one of those chances. There is an old gutted Federal building in Biloxi, that used to serve as the Federal Courthouse, but has been empty for a long time (before the storm even)

Anyways, I took a bunch of pictures, and thought I would share them. I love the colors of this place. The picture of the wood is my favorite, and the picture of the wheelbarrow is my second favorite.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An afternoon bowling and a relaxing evening around a fire

Almost every Sunday, James goes bowling with Tony. This has been going on for quite some time. James and Tony became friends about 12 years ago when James was coaching sailing in the Special Olympics. Since then, they have been best friends, and talk almost daily.

A week after I met James, he invited me to go bowling with them. It was such a treat, and Tony amazed me with his score of 158. I was just trying to break 100.

Well, while not being able to make it all weeks, I have gone several times, and my score has improved.
I actually thought I was going to win that game because both Tony and James were not on their game, and I was doing rally well to begin with. Tony pulled ahead in the last few frames, and beat me.

I was happy to still beat James in this round. It was my closest chance of the day. I think James and Tony just needed to warm up, where as I was using all of my luck up in the first game.

James and I ended our day sitting around a campfire with some friends. It was a perfect Sunday to end a great weekend.

A boat ride and Ship Island

During my dad's visit, we did more than just eat BBQ and watch blues bands. We did do some more eating though.

We started the day with coffee, and headed for Phonecia for breakfast. I got eggs, asiago grits, and a short stack with their beautiful blackberry syrup. Dad got the western omelet, which is amazing, asiago grits and the short stack with some of that amazing syrup.

Then we headed for the farmers market, and walked around town. I got a sack of satsumas. By this time, around9:30, Dad was ready for a nap, but I had one more stop to make before we headed home. See, James called, and offered to take us out to ship island, but I had to make the lunch. So dad and I went to the grocery store, picked up the supplies and then headed home. While dad napped with the little chihuahua Isabella, I assembled our lunch of turkey sandwiches, beer, soda, satsumas and zapps.

We met James and the rest of the crew, Tim and Donna, at the yacht club and headed out. We ate lunch at Ft. Massachusetts(which was not really open at the time, but thankfully we could all crawl through one of the windows) , and wondered around the island. We found so many shells and sea things. On the way back we stopped at the Biloxi Yacht club and then back to the Ocean Springs Yacht Club for dinner. Then we headed to Ben and Dawn's for a little time around the fire, and when it seemed like it was Midnight, but was actually 7:30 we headed back to my house and crashed out!

Below are some pictures of our day!

Dad on the boat.

James Driving the boat and Tim and Donna behind him.

Ft. Massachusetts

A crab that wasn't to happy to see us

Some fishermen and Deer Island

Dad Arrives and Dinner at the Shed

My Dad came to visit me for the first time in my new house. I think he was shocked that I wasn't making him sleep on the couch, but instead, he had a guest bed to sleep in.

Once he got settled into Mississippi (had a beer and some hummus, and said hello to Deloris) we headed for the Shed for some BBQ, friends and music.

Dad and I both got the beef brisket and we got a pitcher of the Lazy Magnolia Beer, and headed outside to find a spot to spend the rest of the evening. There is a great fire pit, but all of the seats around the fire pit were already taken so we found our seat out at a pick nick table near the stage.

The Shed has the best BBQ on the coast. In addition to the yummy meat, on the weekends they have great music on their outdoor stage. Ft. Bayou Slim was playing and my friend James played with them.

It was a fun night, and I was glad Dad got to meet my friends and see how I spend some of my Friday nights.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A weekend in Orange Beach, AL

I had the perfect costume all planned out for this year's Halloween. I was going to be Hurricane Jessie. I even made a blue and gray tutu for the costume. But when my friend James had one of the worst weeks anyone could have and he wanted to get out of town, and didnt really want to be around too many people, and asked me to go with him, I decided that Hurricane Jessie would have to wait to strike land until 2010.

Saturday after lunch, we gassed up my car, threw our toothbrushes and a change of clothes in bags, and headed East for Orange Beach. One of his clients has a condo there, and was generous enough to let us stay there for a few days. It is located on the bay, and our balcony had a beautiful view of the wetlands and the water.

While it was early, we headed to the FloraBama. That place is amazing. We listened to some music, and watched the band for a while.

We started to get a bit hungry. The FloraBama is equiped with a bear claw game(the ones usually full of stuffed animals) that was full of lobsters. It was $2 a shot, and they would cook it if you caught it. As tempting as that was, we decided that was not the day for a lobster to die at our hands so we went to Tacky Jacks and got a Burger and fries.

The sunset was beautiful that night over the bay. We headed back to the condo, and crashed out. We were both exhausted.

Sunday morning we woke up and headed to Hazel's in Gulf Shores for breakfast. OMG that place is amazing! It is an all you can eat breakfast buffet. I dont usually go in for buffets, but this one was beautiful. I got an omelet with mushrooms, jalapenos, and tomatoes. James picked and chose from the beautiful selection of grits, various porks, veggies, gravies, fruits and cheeses.

After we completely gorged our selves, we headed to Ft. Morgan to stretch our legs. It is such a neat and huge place.
That is the entrance to the man part of the fort. Although it is a bit of a drive down to the end of the peninsula It is completely worth it.

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around and looking at all of the cute beach houses. James showed me a house he worked on right after the storm. We made our way back to Gulf Shores and found the Hangout, a cute beach restaurant on the beach. We watched the race, and had a few drinks. I got a cute little octapus wallet from their gift shop, and James got a pirate sticker for his new laptop.

We headed back to Tacky Jacks for dinner, because it was close to our condo. I got the blackened chicken sandwich and he got wings. Both were delicious.

This weekend was what both of us needed, a recharge. We returned to Mississippi early Monday feeling charged up and ready to go. It was a perfect weekend.

The Solar Decathlon

A few weeks ago, Travis of Crosstree asked if I would like to be a researcher on the 2009 Solar Decathlon. That included a trip to Washington DC to see the buildings in action on the National Mall. The answer was: OF COURSE!

I will get into the whole research process in a post to come, mostly because I still have quite a bit of work to, but here are some pictures of my trip.

I left really hot Biloxi, I was wearing flip flops and tank tops, and arrived in a rainy cold DC. Now this sounds like it would be uncomfortable, but it was so nice to be cold, and I got to use an umbrella, something I haven't used since college.

It was such a pleasure to get to see a bunch of good Architecture. In Biloxi, we rarely get to see beautifully detailed buildings, and in nature of our work, we also rarely get the chance to be that detailed or spend that much money.

I got to see so many different types of solar panels and solar collectors, as well as other ways to run an energy efficient house.

The above picture is a close-up of the rain screen on Penn State's entry. I love rain screens, and they did a beautiful job.

Our trip was not all research. We walked from our hotel to the monument area in the rainy evening. We started at the Washington Monument, walked past the reflection pool, and made our way to see the Lincoln Memorial. Then we headed to Foggy Bottom(is this right?) in search of Indian food and a beer.

I also stayed an extra evening and got to see my friend Jenny. We saw that cute movie Whip-it, and retired for the evening.

It was a good trip and there will be more posts about the actual work part, and maybe some more about the not work part.