I think you could all see it coming…

This sweet, sweet chapter of my life in Birmingham has come to a close…

But the story is far from over…

Join me here, at MagicCityMade for all that is left to see, to discover, to enjoy, to feast upon, to discuss, to realize…

Thank you for reading and supporting MagicCityManifesto. I hope you will continue to follow my wanderings as I embark on this new adventure…

She’s still my muse…

That Birmingham…

‘Aint she somethin’.

A Strong Presence, First Avenue North

And with that I say, adieu.



Thanks to all who voted….We won!

Don’t know the details just yet of when everything will take place, but I’ll keep everyone posted.


You know I ain’t too proud to beg.

Here’s the deal. 

Our home, our cozy little Birmingham bungalow has been chosen as a finalist in My Green Birmingham’s Green Home Giveaway!!!  This means that, if we capture the most votes, we’ll get the best Christmas present ever  – a complete eco-friendly, sustainable, green home makeover!! (You can see the full loot here.)

 HELP US WIN, ‘cause all I want for Christmas is a Green Home Makeover!!

Our Birmingham Bungalow, just hopin' and a' wishin' for a new GREEN outfit this Christmas.

 It’s super easy to vote!!

 Just follow this link to the official My Green Birmingham Facebook page. From there you will go to their “Questions” page. Click on the Question “Which Home Should Win the Green Home Giveaway”…

to which you will answer Home #2!!!

Oh, and be sure to join the My Green Birmingham page, jump to their website, look around, get some great tips and sign up for their newsletter. This is a great asset to the Magic City community, and you should taking full advantage of all they have to offer!

You can also vote via Twitter (if you’re of the Tweetin’ kind). Just copy and paste this:

@MyGreenBham — I Vote for #Home2

 Each person gets one vote (two, actually, if you exercise both social media outlets).

I promise you’ll get all kinds of good holiday karma.

 Home #2.

Please vote.

 We (my family of four + cat) thank you.

 Home #2. (Here’s the link again.)

 Happy holidays, y’all!!

P.S. – Feel free to forward to everyone you know!

Need an inspiring story that involves selflessness, sisterhood, and the ultimate journey? 

Here’s the tale of Brittany Maness, a Shelter-Partners volunteer who has traveled thousands of miles, all in the spirit of giving some four-legged friends a better life in a new home. 

All too aware of the extreme animal overpopulation in her area, Maness began to hear more and more about the “volunteer driven transport program providing second chances for thousands of dogs”. And for someone who thought she’d never take one of these legendary trips, Maness quickly proved herself wrong. With the enthusiasm of her sister (and travel partner) leading the way, the girls scheduled their first trip. 

To document their journey, the two sisters started a blog, “One Dog at a Time” (http://altonh.blogspot.com/). Through this open, online dialogue, they were able to build awareness (and funding) for their cause. Money poured in quickly through the generosity of friends, family and even strangers! They were soon ready to embark on the ultimate ride. 

“That first trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” says Maness. “I had a priceless time with my sister and got to escort a van full of the most precious cargo to their forever homes where they would be loved and cared for as they deserved to be.” 

Meet: Max, a sweet little guy who was given a second chance, thanks to Shelter-Partners.

Maness has since co-piloted another two trips, one more with her sister and another with a close friend. She has raised even more money by making and selling dog collars, funding an entire trip this way.

Maness believes it all begins with conversation:

“I think the most important thing people can do to support our program is to talk about it and the reason we do it. It’s amazing how many people don’t realize what a huge problem we have with animal overpopulation here in our backyards! Our goal is to educate people and spread the word about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. We want to get to the point where we don’t have this program anymore and we don’t need to transfer dogs across the country.”

To date, Maness has transferred 89 dogs over three trips, and was recently inducted in to the “10,000 Mile Club”. She credits her involvement with the Shelter-Partners Program as a life-changing experience. Because of her heightened awareness and compassion towards all animals, Maness recently became a Vegan. She’s also increased her commitment to the cause by becoming a Shelby Humane Society board member.

Maness is planning her fourth trip this spring. She knows first-hand how challenging such a journey can be, but she says (without hesitation), “It’s SO worth it!”

How can you support Maness and her four-legged passengers? Well, consider buying a Shelter-Partners holiday ornament. The ornaments are just $50 and feature the photo or a transport dog. Proceeds will be used to fund that pup’s journey to a new home in New England, where adoption typically happens within one week. 

And, there’s always room for more drivers! 

To learn more about Shelter-Partners and places to purchase these unique holiday ornaments, please visit www.shelter-partners.org.

Happy holidays, Birmingham!

Looking in to the (not so) crystal ball and pondering what's next...

My, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here on The Manifesto…I’ve been enjoying other projects and opportunities and, quite honestly, a little repose.

Just wanted to let you that new things are brewing: new projects, new topics, new adventures, all focused on this big, beautiful, bold Magic City!

My tenure over on this blog has almost expired, so if you’ve been missing me, hop on over and let’s get caught up.

And, I do believe my time here on MagicCityManifesto may be drawing to a close. Never fear, though. The habitual blogger in me will live on in some other type of opinionated, sporadic, idealistic online incarnation…it’s just who I am. It’s just the voice you’ve come to know…

In the meantime,I do hope you are enjoying your holiday season, that your days are merry and bright. I’m thankful for this time of reflection and reinvention, and I can’t wait to share more! As a matter of fact, I’ll be sharing a few little snippets throughout the month, so stay tuned. Also, stay warm, stay grateful, stay true to who you’ve always wanted to be.

Cheers and blessings!


Image courtesy of mlamprou.

Pardon my absence…

For 90 days, I’m joining this gal on a unique Mama-centric challenge. You can keep up with our progress here, at MyMamamorphosis.com.

So, posts on this blog will be irregular and sporadic, at best.

I do appreciate your understanding.

Cheers to transformation!

I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet. 

Denis Waitely

Distinctions, Downtown Birmingham, 1st Avenue North

No, my friends. With the cooler air and falling leaves comes all kinds of fun things to do in and around the Magic City. Here are a few things that should be on your calendar:

Eat Drink Read Write Festival — (started yesterday and runs through this Saturday, various venues)

The Birmingham Public Library is planning to feed the mind, body and soul during the Eat Drink Read Write Festival. BPL and event partners Desert Island Supply Company, Foodies Book Club, and Slow Food Birmingham will present a series of free programs bringing food, culinary arts, and literature to the table in a stimulating format. The goal of the Eat Drink Read Write Festival is to raise awareness of food-related issues in our community by exploring these concerns from a variety of perspectives.

Tasty, yes?

Birmingham Mommy’s Moms Rock Event — (Thursday, September 15, McWane Science Center Plaza)

Mark your calendars and line up the sitter! Come out for a great night of fun to celebrate Moms who Rock! Live music, Food, Henna Tattoos, great prizes, swag for the first 100 in the door and a cash bar with drink specials.. The perfect Moms Night Out! Free to attend, so gather your friends!

P.S. – Somebody you know is in the running…go vote here! (please/thank you)

Walk for Midwives — (Saturday, September 17, Rojo)

Alabama is one of only nine states that specifically prohibit Certified Professional Midwives.
The Alabama Birth Coalition is working to educate Alabama citizens and state policymakers
about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital maternity care
and to advocate for expanding access to the services of Certified Professional Midwives, who are
specially trained to provide it. 
Birmingham’s Walk for Midwives will begin with breakfast at 8 a.m. at Rojo, 2921 Highland
Avenue South. The walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome to walk (a comfortable
distance) and to learn more about the issue and the Alabama Birth Coalition. To register for the
walk, visit http://www.alabamabirthcoalition.org/tickets/.

If you can’t be there to walk for the cause, donate; help spread the word. Not having a midwife during childbirth is like not having an experienced, qualified, caring coach during the biggest game of your life. ‘Nuff said.

Cahaba River Fry-Down — (Sunday, September 25, Trusville Springs)

Come to Fry-Down & help the Cahaba River Society restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life!

Taste samples from the friendly/fierce fish fry competition with local companies and civic groups testing family fish and other recipes in a bid to win bragging rights and our unique Fry-Down trophies. Learn how to save water and money, enjoy games in and around the beautiful Cahaba River, picnic and go on a nature amble, and join in the community songfest – the makings of a perfect family-friendly Sunday afternoon for all ages.

Come dip your toes in the beautiful Cahaba River… I’ll save you a catfish plate.

Sunset Cinema at Railroad Park — (ongoing through October 27)

Fun free flicks, outside, enjoyed with friends and neighbors? Count me in!

Okay – I’d say that’s enough to get you started. See you around…


So we’re back. In Birmingham. It’s been two weeks, three states, two coastlines, six children under the age of three, friends, family, feasting and the absence of shoes. It’s been grand and I’m glad to be back. 

(The absence of shoes really was my favorite part of our first-ever Summer Beach Road Trip as a family of four. Nobody wore shoes. We all just rinsed the sand from our feet before sitting around the dinner table together. We lived without television and cell phones and wireless. We fell asleep to the sounds of waves at the shoreline, just footsteps from our beds. We had more than a few silent moments of just being together, of just enjoying each other. And we did it all with bare feet. Glorious.) 

When we finally returned from our fifteen-day trip, we had a few unexpected surprises waiting on us. For starters, the storms you guys experienced (while we were sipping piña coladas on floats) knocked out power to our house for a bit and flipped the breaker that fuels the fridge. We lost a few prized edibles, including Sweet Pea’s cherished preserves and a locally made favorite, Alecia’s Tomato Chutney. I lost my  stash of (sliced and frozen) Chilton County Peaches, intended for pie-making sometime in early December.

In perspective, though, we didn’t truly lose anything. A few replaceable condiments perished during our absence. So what? Thanks to our lovely neighbors, the Berthiaumes, we didn’t even have to clean up the puddle of water that had dripped from the freezer on to our kitchen floor.  Even our sweet cat Harley survived the loneliness, and our Birmingham Bungalow was exactly as we left it. 

Given the emphasis on “gratefulness” and “blessings” during the anniversary of 9/11 and also a new (*winning*) season in tornado-torn Tuscaloosa, it seemed downright lucky to return to our peaceful home on our shaded street with all of our beautiful pieces of art and our sturdy dining room table and good neighbors and a grocery store close by. Truly, we are very well taken care of in our lives… although two weeks of beach-side living certainly spoiled us in a way that may have had us thinking otherwise. 

So, as we pulled in and unloaded, we quickly realized we’d have to venture back out once again in our well-traveled old car to grab some supper and a few essentials to get us through the unpacking phase. Now – here’s where the fun surprises come in!

Oh, the Magic City had all kinds of changes and new things to see, and upon realizing this, we immediately vowed to leave the city for at least two weeks every year (preferably, for beach bumming) so that she (our beloved Birmingham) can undergo her annual metamorphosis for us to enjoy upon our return.

On our quest to find dinner (and to try something new), we started along 3rd Avenue South, passing Bottletree (and wishing they had childcare available so we could pull in and see the show). We hung a left in Avondale and saw tremendous changes and upgrades as we passed by Avondale Park. We spotted a new gas station (not especially exciting, I know), a new luxury car dealership downtown near the loft district (two, in fact, if you count the one we passed on Crestwood Boulevard, just past Century Plaza, on our way back in to town). There was new construction across from Pepper Place (we’ve yet to determine what it will be), and finally we settled on having dinner in Five Points South at a dive pizza joint that’s been in business for well over two decades.  (Yes, we’ll be visiting again very soon. Case-and-point: Nobody flinched when Sweet Pea had a tantrum that cost us a bottle of apple juice and them a roll of paper towels. I can vouch for the place – Rocky’s Pizza is a great little casual spot for a filling meal. Carbs, meat, muffalettas, house-blend cheese, and soda, and all with a little “healthy” thrown in to make the mamas in the group happy. It don’t get no better than that, y’all. )

Aside from what we noticed on our brief ride through nearby neighborhoods, there were a few other things that we missed out on while we were away. Let me fill you in as I catch myself up: 

  • WELD hit newsstands (and the worldwide web).
  • Birmingham Restaurant Week, Art Walk, and Sidewalk Film Festival enjoyed tremendously successful runs. 
  • I missed Art Walk. Again. (whimper) 
  • I also missed Sidewalk. Again. (whimper, sniff) 
  • I was nominated and named a finalist for Birmingham Mommy’s Mom’s That Rock rally, and I would so appreciate it if you’d go and cast your vote here. (I’m not campaigning for my own sake (okay, maybe a little); my fellow finalists (nine, to be exact) are amazing in so many ways. I barely deserve to be in their company, although given this is my second year being nominated, I’m considering having fake tattoos made for my boys that don a banner-breasted heart reading “Mom”.) 
  • It rained. A lot. Most of our basil survived. Half of my impatients did not, nor did the ferns. I haven’t stepped out back to check on the pumpkins or the other herbs, but I’m betting we’re in need of some new flora. And, by the way, have you seen this guy’s blooming new blog, A Borrowed Garden? I’ll mention it again soon, so you won’t forget to check it out.  It’s almost good as Magic City Manifesto. Almost.
  • Bama football kicked off. We tried every which way possible to catch the first game on the radio as we drove toward South Carolina. Lesson:  If you are en route on game day, give up all notions of listening to college football. They only way you can keep up with the game is by refreshing the ESPN app on your smart phone as you putter on down the interstate… And let’s not forget that traveling through the great state of Alabama lends itself to signal black spots. Thankfully, for the second game of the season, we were granted shelter (and barbecue) at the Mehlberger home in Alpharetta, Georgia. I’ll also note that all four of us wore our Crimson Tide spirit on both victorious Saturdays. Roll Tide. 
  • Sweet Pea’s school started. (He missed the first two weeks. Well, maybe he didn’t miss school, but he was definitely absent.) Returning home and to (some form of) normalcy means I will be launching our very own homeschool experiment. Okay, he’s only three, but what a bright little man he’s becoming. Every day. I can’t miss any of these golden opportunities to encourage him to be a lifelong learner. More to come on this soon… 
  • Jefferson County still hasn’t made a decision about the annoyingly headline-hogging and taxpayer-stabbing sewer debt issue. But I’m not surprised. After being away for a few weeks, I acknowledge its lameness and abysmal, inevitable outcome. Already I’ve spent too much time discussing this. Bleh. 
  • The downtown baseball stadium seems to be inching a little closer to reality. People have stopped bickering and started talking.  It’s a novel idea in Birmingham and, lo and behold, it seems to be working.
  • Summer started to slip away. Hallelujah. We were ridiculously lucky to dodge hurricanes and tropical storms (we had a little rain here and there) and ended with eight full days of glorious sunshine and weather and two very different yet very relaxing beaches. And when we pulled in to our driveway and stepped out of our very stale four-door, we felt the coolness of autumn in the air. Again, I say hallelujah. Fall – she’s almost here. 

…I’d say that’s a lot of progress and motion. Birmingham got along just fine without me.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t do much writing during my leave of the Magic City. I read. I catnapped with my four-month old on a screened-in porch, wave sounds lulling us to sleep. I played with my friends’ children. I plunged myself in the ocean, over and over again, trying desperately to forget about all my worries and let them just all float away. 

One journey's ending is another's beginning.

And so now I’m back. And things are changing. You’ll notice these changes, no doubt. There’s a lot happening here on 6th Avenue South, in Birmingham, in my mind, in my heart… Did I mention autumn is my favorite season?

I’m excited to be home.

I’m excited about all that’s in store…for me, for my family, for Birmingham.

See ya’ around.

I won’t be posting very much over the next couple of weeks.  Not only am I encountering a few new writing opportunities that are stealing my attention away from this blog, I also just so happen to be hanging out on the 22nd floor of a very cozy Gulf Shores tower, spending the long, sunny days in my swimsuit, scratching my sand-speckled braid and keeping an eye on one very happy three-year old seashell collector.

My current perch, far away from the Magic City...

This photo doesn’t even come close to describing the view from here, but I’m not really motivated to spend more than a few seconds angling the perfect shot to share with all of you who are, most likely, stuck on the other side of paradise wishing you were here… my pity only goes so far.

And before we set off for a dolphin cruise, let me raise my (half-empty) margarita glass to vacations, late-night Mexican Train tournaments, cloudless skies and SPF 50!!

Cheers from paradise!


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