Tag Archives: Midtown

Halloween in Midtown

Some people love Christmas. They go to those strange all-year-round Christmas stores full of the little decorative Santa statues, spend all year planning gift lists and parties, and possess a bewildering array of red and green clothing, some of which may be affixed with three dimensional snowmen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We like Christmas too.

Other people are more into the family gatherings of Thanksgiving. And we even have a few friends that take April Fool’s Day pretty seriously.

Even our cat is into the holiday spirit.

But for us, Halloween is New Year’s Eve multiplied by a year full of birthdays, plus the ethnicity-neutral revelry of St. Patrick’s Day, and the solemnity of Secretary’s Day Administrative Professional’s Day (April 27, 2011) all rolled into one awesome holiday. You don’t have to buy gifts for anyone, there are no awkward coerced family moments, and, oh yeah, there’s candy. And with the fun of costumes, the emergence of nice weather, the relative (and that’s the key word) lack of commercialization, and the beautiful duality of the holiday both being about kids (trick or treating) and adults (late night parties), it’s pretty clear that Halloween is the best holiday.

So, since it’s the start of October (and if you haven’t started preparing for Halloween yet, you’re already behind), here’s a handy users guide to celebration of Halloween in Midtown Montgomery.

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, leading to a hilarious Facebook status update by the City of Montgomery’s official Facebook page, letting people know:

Halloween is on October 31st and that is the date that will be acknowledged. Neither the City of Montgomery, nor the Mayor will designate a supplemental date for trick-or-treating. Because Halloween is on Sunday this year, many churches can and will use this opportunity to host religious celebrations, in addition to the many secular ways society recognizes Halloween.

Thanks to the city for not bowing to pressure to “designate a supplemental date for trick-or-treating.”

The Montgomery Zoo’s “ZooBoo” – We wanted more information, and were somewhat disappointed to see that the zoo’s website was so lackluster. If you click on through to the calendar of events, you’ll find that, “the Montgomery Zoo presents a safe alternative to Halloween. ZooBoo provides a fun filled evening of games, treats, and costumed characters, education presentations, and the traditional haunted ride.” Things kick off Thursday, October 14th-17th then October 21st-24th, and starting again Thursday, October 28th through Halloween. All we know is that it’s from 6 to 9 each night. No pics. No graphics. Fun? Maybe. It’s unclear what “education presentations” means. And what’s “the traditional haunted ride?”

$10 for adults (ages 13 and older), $7 for kids (ages 3-12), free for toddlers.

Atrox Factory – If you’re more serious about being frightened by professionals, it’s well worth it to make the drive up to Leeds, Alabama. There, you will find the Atrox Factory, a haunted house whose profits all go to assorted childrens’ charities. We went last year and thought it was great – read our review over at Lost in Montgomery.

Friday and Saturdays from 6:30-midnight; Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 6:30 until 10 p.m.

It’s $15 to go through the haunt, but an additional $5 cover charge on the nights when Atrox brings in celebrities (usually stars of horror films) to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Sloss Furnace – Also in the Birmingham area is the haunt put together out at historic Sloss Furnace. The furnaces themselves are a must-see tourist attraction during the non-haunted times of the year, especially if you are interested in Alabama or industrial history. But the legacy of corporate exploitation of workers adds a little extra creepy air as you wander through the facilities at night with that unreproducible smell of age and decay hanging in the air and various weirdos popping out of dark crevices. Not the scariest haunt around, but probably worth it if you have never been inside an abandoned steel mill. You can tour both haunts for $20.

Netherworld – And then at the top of the easily-drivable heap of area haunted houses is Atlanta’s Netherworld. We are planning to go this year and just can’t wait. We’ll write it up over at Lost in Montgomery when we go, so stay tuned. It’s a little more pricey, but seems like it’d be worth it, with both haunts available for $27.

Stephen scared children at our friends' haunted house last year.

Haunted Hearse – One of the Halloween events we are most excited about checking out here in town is the new haunted hearse. Some enterprising entrepreneurs in town knew that there were folks like us out there who dig spooky things and have evidently somehow acquired an actual hearse and are offering tours. We bet they drive folks through Montgomery’s own Oakwood Cemetery. Of course, you could always go there on your own. Why go pay money to be frightened by theater students in expensive latex at places like Atrox and Netherworld when you can have a genuine communion with the actual dead in Montgomery’s most famous and most awesome cemetery? They do pickups from The Alley downtown and tickets are $10. Check out their Facebook page.

Corn Mazes – Two years ago we went to a corn maze (or “maize,” as they spelled it) out in nearby Titus. That particular one isn’t there anymore, but if you are interested in finding a maze or a pumpkin patch, this helpful website will help you locate either. Honestly, even as adults with no children we had a lot of fun navigating the complex corn maze in the dark. We were only sad we didn’t get to operate the cannon that shoots corn. If you’ve got youngsters, these things are probably even more fun.

Trick Or Treat – Despite the national and local decline of crime, the reality is that we live in communities that are often paralyzed by fear. There’s no better example of that than the decline of trick or treating and the emergence of “safe” indoor activities. There’s nothing wrong with fall festivals. Heck, they’re awesome. But they shouldn’t trade off with the community spirit promoted by going to the doors of strangers and having the audacity to ask for a treat.

Please let us know if there are other Halloween activities that we should be aware of!

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Twelve Things About Sinclair’s

While it’s true in some senses that it’s easier to write what you know well, it’s also true that familiarity with a place makes it tough to offer a review that reads as credible to an outsider looking for a fairly objective snapshot of a place. As such, it’s hard to write about Sinclair’s, the cornerstone neighborhood restaurant of our part of town. We’ve been fairly regular there since moving to Montgomery a few years ago and that alone ought to tell you that it’s good enough to keep bringing us back.

And as with any place you’ve been countless times, we’ve seen some good, some bad, and pretty much ordered most of the things on the menu (well, most of the things that can be eaten by vegetarians who occasionally make exceptions for seafood). As such, there is no one prototypical meal for us at Sinclair’s. We’ll recount for you some facts you ought to know, and present them in list form for your convenience. And if you don’t want to read the list, the bottom line is this: It’s a great restaurant and you should eat there.

1. Outside seating: We have noted before that it’s a crying shame that our town lacks sufficient outdoor dining areas. It’s the South. We need chairs and patios in order to function as a decent society. There’s good enough weather here in this particular part of the world that, properly equipped with a few tables and umbrellas, we ought to be able to eat outdoors. Sinclair’s understands this. Best patio in town.
2. Full bar and strong drinks: These folks have a solid, if not flashy, bar and know how to mix drinks. You can sit inside or on the aforementioned patio, but we appreciate their ability to make drinks properly the first time and serve them in nice glasses. This all dovetails with the fact that there’s a movie theater next door, meaning you can have a great meal, have a few drinks, and walk over to the movie (or sit and discuss the movie after the fact).
3. No smoking: One of the downsides of many bars is the smoke haze. It’s nice to not leave Sinclair’s smelling like there’s some kind of film clinging to you, thinking that you need a bath.
4. Trivia: There really aren’t all that many places in town that do the trivia box competitive networked trivia game. Sinclair’s has it, along with the associated crew of eccentrics who take it super seriously. We love trivia. We are glad they pay for this service.
5. Good ambiance: It’s just a nice place to chill. It’s sort of formal, but you don’t feel awkward for sporting a t-shirt or shorts. It’s formal enough for legislators to make regular appearances, but informal enough that you can rip through a bunch of cranberry vodkas and not feel like you’re going to draw ugly looks. There usually aren’t a bunch of kids running around. The restrooms are snappy, the art is good, and it’s all around a nice place — the sort of place where you could bring a date or out-of-town friends, but also feel comfortable as a neighborhood regular just in for a meal or a night out of the house. They even do something in the men’s room certain to confuse future generations of “smart phone” users: They hang the sports page over the urinals. And the women’s restroom has a couch!
6. Fried foods: There’s trashy fried food in the world that leaves you feeling greasy and then there’s Sinclair’s fried brie wedges and simply otherworldly onion rings. Healthy? No. Fantastic? Absolutely. And atop the Sinclair’s pyramid of fried goodness must be the artichoke hearts, which we can’t do every time, but on those special occasions, are truly a delicacy of the highest order. The dipping sauce is creamy and the fried hearts are rich and, at the risk of overusing a foodie word, decadent.

Brie wedges

7. Brunch: Not to overplay the “Why doesn’t everyone have this?” angle, but it’s baffling that more places don’t have tasty brunch. Sinclair’s has it right, with multiple options for your eggs, amazing potato compliments, and quality mimosas served in good potency and quantity. Not something we can afford to do every weekend in this economy, but a fantastic benefit to be able to go there whenever we can make it work. Ask your server about the difference between Eggs Sardou and Eggs Soho. We always forget. Also, if you like crab, order the crabbie eggs. Nothing confusing there.
8. Smoked trout: The best thing on the appetizer list. There’s a photo below, but the texture of the fish is great and the combo of the capers and the cucumbers with the creamy sauce, well, it’s filling but not a tasty throwaway like so many other appetizers. It’s fresh-tasting and should be considered among the best appetizers in the city.

The trout

9. Spa salad: The go-to item when you’re not sure what else to get, this is truly an admirable baseline for the menu. It’s big, hearty, fresh and consists of greens, tomato, cucumber, mushrooms, red pepper, purple onion, artichoke hearts (not fried), and hearts of palm. At $8, it’s a bargain and a great meal.
10. Unsweet tea: Why doesn’t Sinclair’s have sweet tea? It might have something to do with the restaurant once being a Sinclair Oil gas station. They offer you sugar packets, as if you weren’t from the South and hadn’t looked with contempt at some other servers across the country when they tried to equate the granular mess made with packet and spoon to the ambrosia of actual Southern sweet tea. Why? Why? Damn you, Sinclair’s. I guess I’ll have a Coke instead.
11. Veggie burgers: We might go out on a limb and say that they’re the best in the city. The great thing is that they are willing to make them up like the many kinds of regular burgers they offer: with Swiss, peppers on it, mushrooms, etc. These people “get it.” A veggie burger is not meant to be some kind of health treat like a rice cake. And we can tell if you keep a box of Boca burgers in the freezer and thaw one out when the rare vegetarian stumbles along. Sinclair’s doesn’t do that. They create a big and tasty patty on good bread.
12. Good service: A recent trip had the server offering thoughtful suggestions on a couple of menu items, all of which turned out to be spot-on accurate. Drink glasses are rarely empty and most times you get the thing that you ordered. And if there is a mistake or a mix-up, they’re really cool about it. They’re friendly, laid back, and seem to genuinely want you to have a good meal. And that stands out and really makes you want to go back. Again, that’s the kind of thing that’s easy to say if you’re regulars and get good treatment from friends, but really, we’re not. Although we mentioned above that it’s hard to write a review of a place you know well, it’s also not like we are daily visitors. We just make frequent enough visits that we know we’re going to get good food in a good atmosphere at a good price and we want to make extra sure that we aren’t taking a neighborhood institution for granted.

Shirmp Po Boy: A little too much bread, excessive sour cream on the potato.

The fantastic Spa Salad

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Filed under Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews

Upcoming Fall Fun

Looking for something to do, but tired of researching to indulge your morbid curiosity about the two tired old folks duking it out in the Alabama Governor’s race? Convinced in some sort of deeply buried sliver of your soul that there might be more to life than consumption of a weekly slate of college football games? Feeling as if there’s something missing in your life?

Get out there and experience the reality that most people in the world know and love … or at least tolerate until another morning dawns. “But what to do?” you might be shrieking at your computer screen at this very moment. Never fear, here are some good options for Midtown Montgomery residents looking for weekend fun during coming weeks:

Start a morning at the CIA yard sale. No, no, no the Central Intelligence Agency yard sale, which would be super awesome but probably also a trap. No, we’re talking about the Cloverdale-Idlewild Association yard sale, the 6th annual fundraiser for one of the best neighborhood associations in the city.

It’s October 9th from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and like most yard sales, the early birds get the bargains. Young people and hipsters who prize the kinds of crap you can find at yard sales are also the most likely to be sleeping in because of long Friday nights. Old people will show up early and buy all the best stuff while the young resign themselves to lolling around on the couch watching ESPN’s College Football Gameday, which features Lee Corso, an old person who has probably already hit 3 yard sales before he dodders on the set each Saturday morning.

The C.I.A. yardsale is pretty great. They have everything from clothing to toys to a whole gardening section (where we sold some of the unfortunate statuary that came with our house when we bought it), all priced to move.

Go see the Springsteen movie at The Capri on September 26th. Bruce Springsteen is sort of like U2: been around forever, couldn’t possibly be more critically acclaimed and totally taken for granted. We’re not huge Springsteen fans. We know people from New Jersey who (while tossing a begrudging bone to that other Garden State musical icon, Mr. Bongiovi) pretty much treat Bruuuuce like The Pope. And he is. He’s sort of the Madonna of white dudes, the American Bono, the working class Mick Jagger, the everything good about the “guy with guitar and kickass band” model of music-making.

If you think you already know what’s up with Bruce Springsteen and don’t like him, you probably haven’t heard enough. One of the bad things about being a musical icon is that people slot you into a box. If your knowledge of Bruce begins and ends with the “Born in the USA” and “Dancin’ in the Dark” stuff from the 1980s, you need to clear your mind and experience the haunting brutality of 1982’s Nebraska or even some of the new stuff like Working on a Dream.

Young people would be making a mistake to lump Bruce in with other middle-aged white guitar rock icons like Tom Petty (who is also awesome) or John (Cougar) Mellencamp (who is less so). Maybe you’re more into John Mayer or Jack Johnson. Or maybe you just don’t think as much about music as you once did because the economy has collapsed and you’re juggling your job (or the search for one) with family obligations and other priorities.

Bruce is the soundtrack to all of this, or could be if you’d listen. Go see this movie. It’s called London Calling, was filmed live in London’s Hyde Park, and opens with the title track being performed (a cover of one of the greatest songs by The Clash). We haven’t seen it, but it is getting rave reviews. It’s a 90-minute live show by Bruce and the E Street Band and if all you’ve ever seen of Bruce live is the Super Bowl halftime show, this movie is sure to blow your doors off.

London Calling is the final of three special programs at the Capri Theatre the week of September 20-26. On Friday, September 24 they’ll be showing one of two showings of the cult classic The Big Lebowski (one of our fave movies ever). Saturday, September 25 brings Alexander City resident and star of Troll 2 George Hardy to the theater to present the documentary Best Worst Movie.

Do Oktoberfest at El Rey. We’ve already explained that we think El Rey Burrito Lounge is one of our very favorite restaurants in the city. That would be true even if they weren’t always having awesome special events like Oktoberfest (Friday, October 1st). We went last year and liked their vegan chorizo dogs so much that we wrote Oktoberfest on our calendar as soon as they announced the date. Of course, they have the meaty kind of chorizo too — and delicious soft pretzels. And beer. Did we mention that there will be lots and lots of beer? Some of it will be kinds you’ve never heard of. All of it will be delicious. And hopefully by then it will not be a million degrees outside.

Go to the Wine Festival. We like wine. It gives us that warm feeling, loquaciousness, and, if consumed in sufficient quantities, it can make us forget about the current political climate here in Alabama (Can you tell that we’re thrilled with the current crop of folks being offered up for election in November?).

On Saturday, October 9, go to the River Walk Wine Festival. It’s noon to 4 p.m. at, well, duh, at the Riverfront. It’s $25 a person with music, wine, food, all the usual festival stuff. We were at the river for the Dragon Boat races and had a blast. And as the weather cools, it’s even better to be taking advantage of one of the best parts of downtown.

While we know a little about wine, we’re far from the readers of the insufferable wine magazines. We don’t go to the wine snob Websites or offer the discriminating curl of the lip if offered something less-than-elite. We know only enough to know what we like. And that’s why it’s fun. We’re actually pretty populist about it, being able to sit on pickup tailgates drinking cheap beer with the good ol’ boys one day, while swilling a Spanish reserva rosé with friends on the patio the next.

The River Walk Wine Festival promises to be a good time. At least 11 distributors are featured on the festival’s Webpage. And we promise to have a designated driver. We are also glad that this is not on the same day as the Oktoberfest because we’re not sure we could mix that much wine and beer.

We know there’s more stuff coming up – just wanted to share these events with anyone looking for stuff to do. And please, as always, if you know of cool upcoming events, drop us a line so we can help spread the word.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Lowder Property Rezoning

Regular MML readers know that we’re closely following the debates over re-zoning in Cloverdale Five Points (the part of town with Sinclair’s and The Capri). For those not as geeked out about zoning as we are, the story so far is basically that the City wants to switch over to SmartCode in this part of town (We have collected drawings and documents here for your reference). That push is still going forward, but in the short term, the City is asking for a rezoning of the Lowder property at the corner of Boultier and Fairview. That’s the western part of the building that used to be a school. For those not totally conversant with the area, it’s near Huntingdon College (once an owner of this parcel), across the street from Sinclair’s and also from the 1048 nightclub.

As it stands, this property is zoned B-1-a. The City is hoping it can be zoned B-1-a-q. Your eyes glazing over yet? It seems the “q” stands for “qualifications.” According to City Planner Tyler Caldwell, “The addition of the q denotes qualifications that restrict potential developments on this property to conform to the standards laid out in the T4-O SmartCode Transect. The only additional qualification is the permission for 1 story structures; whereas, T4-O has a minimum height restriction of 2 stories.” Caldwell has summarized the qualifications in a document you can see for yourself – download by clicking here.

This sounds good to us. Confusing to wade through the jargon, but when you think about it, it sounds nice. This is what governments do. They prevent people from ruining neighborhoods in the name of unchecked property rights. And if you care about how your city looks and functions, this is the sort of thing you should care about.

Why the rush? Well, the property is about to be sold, and the City would like to ensure that whatever is built there maintains the look and neighborhood feel associated with SmartCode. In other words, not a big box store with a bunch of parking in the front. According to Caldwell, this rezoning does not impede the larger effort to have SmartCode for the whole Cloverdale Five Points area. That debate is still upcoming.

The Cloverdale-Idlewild Association voted unanimously at this week’s meeting to support the City’s rezoning of the Lowder property. The next step in the process will be a Planning Commission meeting at 5:00 pm on September 23. The Planning Commission meets at City Hall, Room 142 at 103 N. Perry St. Please contact Tyler Caldwell, City Planner, at 334-241-2728 or tcaldwell@montgomeryal.gov if you have any questions or concerns.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Martin’s Restaurant

Sometimes on the way back from New Orleans, we stop at a little gas station just across the bridge to fill up for the trip to Montgomery and stock up on Hubig’s Pies. For years we have considered these delightful snacks to be the apex of the fried pie arts. And then we tried the fried pies at Martin’s Restaurant. We stand corrected. We’ll still stop and get Hubig’s whenever we can, and even seriously consider ordering them from the Internet, but they’re not even in the same category as Martin’s fried pies.

Getting your fried pie can require a bit of experimentation. They take some time to make – we were told to order them at least 15 minutes in advance – so it is best to request them when you order your meal. Sometimes they run out of the advertised flavors of the day. Other times they just don’t have them. Fried pies aren’t on the regular Martin’s dessert menu, so you have to ask. But when you sink into its flaky crust, lemon glaze, warm filling, it’ll all be worth it. Everything in your life up to that point will have been worth it.

Not that the other desserts are bad. On the contrary, they are both gigantic (prepare yourself for the slice of chocolate pie as large as your head) and delightful.

It’s just that in a place that’s famous for its fried chicken (and in case you didn’t know they were known for fried chicken, several dozen plaques advertising it adorn the wall above the cash register), you might expect that everything else on the menu will play second fiddle.

Not so at Martin’s. You start with the cornbread, which is dense and sweet with an intense butter flavor. The fried fish is fantastic, salty and light with just the right breading. And the vegetables are well worth a starring role in a plate of sides. They rotate from day to day — and of course some offerings are more appetizing than others (we are not fans of “congealed salad,” for example), but the tomato and okra is great, the fried okra is uniformly perfect, and they have macaroni and cheese that is actually made with cheese.

Recently we played host to a visiting musician friend from Athens. We wanted to show off the town a little bit, so we took him to the strip mall that is home to Martin’s. He pronounced the chicken “delicious” and swooned over the fried pie. We were so proud you would have thought we cooked the meal ourselves.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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The Pine Bar

It’s that special time of the year for sports fans. Even as temperatures hover above 90 degrees, there are slivers of fall in the air. Excitement is building all across the nation as team lineups solidify, old rivalries are rekindled, and places that haven’t seen a championship team in decades begin to dream. Others dare to dream of a repeat.

We are talking, of course, about the impending baseball playoffs. Yes, we know that it’s football season. And we’re plenty into that too. But the Braves are making a bit of a run this year, what with their young Say Hey Kid, super slugging catcher, retiring old school Hall of Fame manager, and killer closer. They just got Derrek Lee off the Cubs! Omar Infante’s looking for a batting title! It’s been a long time since we were this into a Braves team, and we were heartened to see that the Pine Bar over in Old Cloverdale was telling all its hundreds of Facebook fans to come on over for some baseball on big screen high def TVs.

Last week, we did just that, watching the Braves beat the Mets in the cool comfort of what’s got to be one of Montgomery’s best bars. It’s non-smoking, which we love (but there are lots of tables outside for our smoking friends or people just enjoying a cool evening). The bar and tables within are made from reclaimed pine, finished to a smooth and luxurious shine — perfect for resting a drink on while you watch baseball, or football, or just make small talk.

The bartenders know what they’re talking about and can talk about the hops content of various limited-run beers while pouring you a mixed-drink from the well-stocked bar. While there, we were offered the chance to sample a new item we’ve never tried before, a cocktail mixed with elderflower syrup. Was it amazing? Not really. It was fair. But it’s fun to try new things and to talk to bartenders who know a lot about their trade.

Sure, the Pine Bar may close earlier than some places (people live upstairs, so after 11 p.m. it’s not cool to be drinking and talking loudly right underneath them), but it’s got a great selection of delicious beers or tap and in the bottle. Also, they have music most Saturday nights. We’ve been in there before when it’s full with people chatting and nodding their heads to a great jazz trio. And if you’re so inclined, you can get there via the city’s Entertainment Trolley – maybe making it one of several stops in a night on the town. With the Village Kitchen opening in the space next door (where Nancy Paterson’s used to be), Old Cloverdale continues to be a good place for a night on the town.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Midtown Living: The Ultimate Recycling

By Carole King

Whenever I send an email I complete my signature with an icon about historic preservation being the ultimate recycling. I consider myself a green person and try diligently to recycle aluminum, papers, cardboard, etc. but I’ve decided that living in Midtown in a 98 year old bungalow is the best way to live by that creed. A friend recently forwarded a great article that has the misleading title of “Ten Easy Steps to Becoming a Radical Homemaker” written by Shannon Hayes for Yes! Magazine. Anybody who knows me knows that homemaking, nesting and housecleaning are not my forté! But when I read the article, I realized that Ms. Hayes was really just explaining how to be true to the planet, true to ourselves, and true to our historic neighborhoods. And since living simply is the totally chic thing to do now, we residents of midtown Montgomery are in vogue. This is my version of 10 easy steps to living green and getting the most out of living in Midtown Montgomery:

  • Hang your laundry outside to dry. My dryer died last summer and I have actually gotten addicted to really fresh smelling sheets and towels and am saving money on utilities.
  • Try your hand at planting some of your own food. I have a plethora of multi-generational squirrel families in my pecan trees, so I always plant my Sweet 100s or grape tomatoes and peppers in pots. I also have several blueberry bushes in pots and move them around to make sure they get enough sun to produce berries. They have a great fall color as well.
  • Know who your neighbors are. They can be a cheap burglar alarm system. Every time I have any work done at my house, I get multiple calls from neighbors just checking to see who the unfamiliar van in my driveway belongs to. You might even consider carpooling with your neighbors if you work near each other, thus being even greener! Or better yet, bicycle to work — but that’s fodder for another post!
  • Buy your food locally. We in midtown are lucky to have three farmers’ markets available to us — Madison Avenue, Fairview Avenue and the State Farmers’ Market on Coliseum Boulevard. Vendors don’t just carry fresh produce. You can also purchase eggs, cheese, tea, flowers and gifts at our local markets.
  • Clean out regularly. Donate household items and clothing to the many charities we have locally. They can either distribute to their clients or sell in income-producing thrift shops. Plus, how many black pair of slacks do we realllllllly need?
  • Carry your own bags. Whether it’s the grocery store, farmers’ market, or discount store, carry something to bring home your purchases in. I enjoy using really fun carriers that advertise yet another cause!
  • Try your hand at preserving a seasonal food item that you will enjoy later. I grow the smaller tomatoes, dehydrate them and then store in (recycled) glass jars of olive oil and garlic. Lots of folks freeze peaches, peas, corn or beans to enjoy when the weather turns colder.
  • Spend time at home with your family while preparing and sharing a meal. It saves restaurant costs, catches up on family doings, cuts down on movie or other entertainment costs and could really be fun! Cancel the cable and get out those old traditional board games like Monopoly, Clue or checkers. It’s all new to the kids…
  • Use our local libraries. The outer neighborhoods have smaller satellite libraries but our Juliette Morgan Branch on South Lawrence Street stays open in the evenings and the weekends. Besides books for all ages, they have books-on-CDs, videos and DVD movies. Check out all of the libraries’ services. And it’s all free!
  • And last, but definitely not least: “Focus on enjoying what you have and who you are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better.” (Shannon Hayes in radicalhomemakers.com). And I don’t think I could have said it any better.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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