Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Splendid, Spiffy Living...

Our class visited Southern Progress in Birmingham -- the company that owns Southern Living, Coastal Living and Light Cooking magazines -- today.

We met with our professor's wife, Jeanetta Keller, who is the executive editor of the company. Here they are:


The building (or should I say buildings -- there are three) is amazing! The buildings are nestled in a forest, surrounded by waterfalls and lakes. They have dozens of patios, 20,000 tons of Alabama stone, windows everywhere and 22 test kitchens where they make meals for the magazine.

The buildings are filled with cool art, all from Southern artists...


Here's the outside of one of the buildings. They really were magnificent.

We also met editors of all the magazines, who were very welcoming. Seriously, working at a magazine would be a dream!

Also, I picked up a cool recipe for pomegranate key lime vodka cocktails. They are delicious!


Check it out:

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup club soda
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/2 cup vodka
tablespoons fresh Key lime juice (about 3 limes)
Crushed ice
Key lime slices (optional)

Preparation

Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool.

Combine sugar syrup, club soda, pomegranate juice, vodka, and lime juice. Place crushed ice in a martini shaker; add about 3/4 cup pomegranate mixture. Cover and shake. Strain into a glass. Garnish with lime slice, if desired. Repeat procedure with remaining pomegranate mixture.

Yield

4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)

Long Overdue...

Mom and the kids paid us a visit several weeks ago, and I've been a bad blogger to have waited so long to tell you about their trip!

They arrived on Wednesday, and we had a nice time with Jeremy, who was filming a Jacksonville State University softball game. We brought our own ball and played around the field, having a great time. Even mom hit the ball!

Thursday we were visited by my Aunt Joey and cousin Danielle, who live near Florence, Ala. Danielle was six months pregnant at the time (she's due in June).


We enjoyed a nice dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, Frontera, before they headed home.

Friday, we all traveled to Tuscaloosa, where Jeremy and I were inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha honor's fraternity.

Afterwards, we went to the Tuscaloosa Hands-On museum, where the kids enjoyed a fake game of checkers...


Nathaniel tamed a bucking bronco...


And Julianne, for some reason, hugged a one-armed Sully model from Monster's Inc...

Saturday, we traveled to DeSoto to see the caverns, and we actually saw more than we bargained for!

Here's Nathaniel feeding the resident peacock...


Desoto's cave is a living cave, which means it is still evolving. Here are some of the live and growing stalagtites:


Here's mom, Jules, Nathaniel and Jeremy in the cave:

One of the coolest parts of the cave, aside from the awesome reflecting pools, were the fossils on the cave ceiling. Check out this one:


And here's me and mom hanging out in the cave:


And all of us just outside the entrance to the cave:


After the cave tour, we went gem mining, and found lots of cool gems. Here's Nathaniel and Jules panning the dirt for gems.


We had a great visit, as always. And, of course, we miss them already!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You...

I just wanted to post a quick note to let my loyal readers (few, but strong) know that I have not fallen off the face of the Earth!

I just completed a presentation of my master's project proposal (the thing that is going to earn me my degree), and turned in a five-part editorial series. I have a case study to write this week and a test to take next week before I can relax again.

I promise I will post updates soon (Mom, I haven't forgotten that I still need to blog your visit!).

Meanwhile, this is my life right now:


Hopefully, my life will soon include more of this:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Now and Then...

Thomas Wolfe said you can never go home again. That's fine for old Tom. But he's not a chick who made a pact with his girlfriends to be there for whenever they need each other. - "Now & Then"

I can't think of a better way to begin this blog than with that quote. I remember well when that line first gained meaning for me.

Picture it: 16 years old, sitting with my four best girlfriends in one of their parent's rec rooms. We were munching on pizza rolls and raw cookie dough and washing it all down with cold Dr. Pepper. As they always do, this sentimental chick flick touched each of our hearts, and we immediately decided the movie reflected our lives. We vowed to stay friends forever.


(Us in 1996!! Clockwise from me: Jenny, Laura, Becky and Melissa)


Then, as they always do, things changed.

As we grew older we grew apart. We left high school with strained relationships. We got through one year of college and barely spoke at all.

Without us even realizing 10 years passed and propelled us all to different cities and very different lives. Still something was missing.

Without warning, one of the girls issued a sort of mea culpa via MySpace.com, asking our forgiveness for all that went under the bridge a decade ago. We all took the blame for our sins of the past and the general sin of just not staying in touch. Suddenly, plans for a reunion were underway.

We decided to meet this past weekend in Hilton Head where one of the girls now lives with her husband. With one exception (poor Becky had to be in a wedding and couldn't make it), we dove headfirst into plans for the excursion.

As I drove the six hours from Anniston, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a bad idea. So much has changed in my life during the past 10 years. I couldn't imagine what we would still have in common.

Within moments of my arrival my fears were quelled.

Beer was our new Dr. Pepper. Greek salads and baked brie took the place of pizza rolls at our table.

The differences weren't all material, though. Philosophies had changed; tastes and styles were a far cry from those we prided ourselves on in high school; experiences had shaped and molded us. We all were different people.

Still we found common ground as we spilled our life stories in the same place we did so long ago. After all that time we still genuinely enjoyed each others' company.

As we parted ways Sunday morning we made familiar promises to remain friends forever (again). What's different this time is our differences. Our varied experiences and separate lives will only strengthen our friendships, because we have so much to learn from each other.

Plus, we did dig into the pizza rolls late Saturday night. Some things never change.

And now, the pictures!

From left, Melissa, Laura, Jenny and me.

In true "us" fashion, we had lunch at a delicious Mexican restaurant. Just can't beat the nachos and cheese!


We enjoyed a haunted pub tour in Savannah (about 20 miles from Hilton Head). Here we are with our tour guide, Jamie.

After the pub tour, we got a little frisky and Laura dared me to sing "My Sharona" (an old favorite) at a karaoke bar. I happily obliged, and Laura even helped we dance on stage during the 68 measure musical break!


We capped the night off at a dance club where we partied the night away to really bad salsa music.

It was a great weekend, filled with lots of girl talk and great memories!

Cheers to that!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pea Soup and Pirates...

Last week, my dad and brother, Josh, came up for a short visit.

They arrived Wednesday, and, after running a few tedious errands with me, we sat outside playing Frisbee with the pups and drinking beers with our cool neighbors. Then, we stuffed ourselves on my homemade spaghetti while watching the Marlins game.

Thursday we decided to show dad the sights (Josh has already been here, but he came, too). Unfortunately, the fog made everything look like thick pea soup, so the view from the top of the mountains was less than impressive.

Here's dad wandering into the woods. (No, we didn't leave him there!)

Here's Josh, dad, and me with that breathtaking fog in the background!

After a trip to Goal Post BBQ (an Alabama favorite, but hardly a favorite of mine), we traveled the hour and a half over to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field.

Turner Field really is cool. There's a huge concourse where you can walk around. You can watch the pitchers warm up in their bullpens, play in batting and pitching cages, and even get a restaurant-style meal all in the ballpark.

But, in my mind, the biggest attraction at any Braves game is third baseman Chipper Jones. He has been my favorite for many, many years!

It was a great visit, though too short. All this fun could be yours if you would come visit us!! Our guest room is always ready!

Mrs. Cox Goes to Montgomery...

Last Wednesday, our class visited Alabama's state capitol in Montgomery.

After sitting in on a *riveting* judiciary committee meeting, Jeremy and I battled it out in the House of Representatives' chambers.

Our class spent WAY too much time goofing off with the speaker's gavel and turning around in the comfy House chairs! As we repeated frequently, we are too easily amused. (From left: Jeremy, me, Christina, Sandra, Anne, Andrea, & Cassandra)

Here we are chatting with freshman Rep. James Fields (D). What is interesting about him is he is the first black man elected by Alabama's 12th District -- comprised primarily of white voters. He is a very interesting and friendly guy.

And here's us with former Governor/ current Lt. Governor Jim Folsom (D). He was very kind to spend a few minutes with us during his busy day.

We also met with a couple of Associated Press reporters, as well as Markeshia Ricks, the State Capitol reporter for The Anniston Star. We also met with the lobbyist for the Alabama Press Association.

All in all, it was a good day spent rubbing shoulders with our state's decision makers.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Talking Taboos, Again...

You may recall a video I did of auditions for The Vagina Monologues in Anniston last month. I went to see the show Monday, and I am planning on seeing it again tonight.

Here's why (my review for class):

With its strict regulations on the sale of marital aids and many residents’ desire to cling to traditional Southern taboos, Anniston may not have been ready for a homemade production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”
Luckily the group from WISE, Women’s Issues, Support and Empowerment, hurled its humble city into the 21st Century Monday evening.
May we never look back.
The 13 actresses were all amateurs. Like many of Ensler’s subjects, most were victims of sexual or physical violence themselves.
The Anniston crew made Ensler’s brave and beautiful words leap from their pages into audience members’ hearts. Their collective inexperience conveyed innocence and a sense of urgent reality that only women who can relate to the tough script could.
The show consisted of a series of monologues that range from hilarious to heart wrenching. Topics include violence, sex, love and everything in between while maintaining an underlying theme of self-confidence – some have too much, others none at all.
The controversy surrounding the play no doubt is derived from the strong language and sexual references used in some sketches. But to achieve Ensler’s goal of ending global violence against women, a director cannot afford to be timid.
Director Clay Smith was anything but. His frankness with the women off-stage helped them on-stage to overcome their own obstacles, allowing them to tell the tales that needed to be told.
To truly appreciate Ensler’s message of assuredness, bravery and strength, you must release your own inhibitions and allow the experience wash over you in an honest way.
It was impossible not to laugh as standout actress Kimberly Camp provoked the women on stage to produce various forms of orgasms. It was impossible not to ache as Tina Deshotels relayed the graphic tale of a Bosnian rape.
And who could resist blushing when producer/actress Trace Fleming-Smith pled with the audience to chant along with her an uncomfortable word (which we did quietly while sneaking peeks at our seat neighbors)?
It’s all part of the play’s experience. And really, it’s all part of life’s experience, as well.
Though some were clearly apprehensive, the WISE gals did well to discard their fears, putting themselves on display in front of friends and neighbors. Hopefully when they perform their second and final show Friday they will have gained even more confidence, helping them to better annunciate for audience members in the back.
Their message is too important to be lost among the mumblings of the crowd.

And here's the video I did for The Anniston Star:


video