It’s Time We Met. Don’t You Think?

I meet at least a dozen blog readers a year – sometimes intentionally (I’ve even driven to Georgia and Mississippi to meet blog friends), and sometimes accidentally, when one of you spots me in public and introduces yourself, which I always adore.

(It’s way way WAY better for you to say hello than comment on a blog post later “I saw you at Target a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t say anything” because then I have to think back and wonder if I’d brushed my hair that day, what I was wearing, if I was irritated with my kids, or if I in general looked too unsavory to speak to.)

I love meeting internet people in real life. After all, some of my best friends formerly only existed on the internet.

So if you’re local-ish, next weekend is one of those opportunities for a face-to-face meeting, and I would really love for you to come say hello!

Where, you say? Downtown – one of my favorite places. I will be showing my Picture Birmingham collection at Birmingham Artwalk on Friday from 5-10pm and Saturday from noon-6pm. I’ll be outside in the parking lot for the Gallery Lofts located at 2412 2nd Avenue North.

Picture Birmingham at Artwalk 2014

Picture Birmingham is my organization through which I sell sunset and skyline pictures of Birmingham and surrounding areas so that I can give 100% of the profits to The WellHouse, a ministry that I have felt called to support.

The ladies at The WellHouse are heroes in one of the biggest yet least known battles of our generation – they are rescuing victims of sex trafficking. As soon as they get a call from a victim that needs their help to escape, they drive or fly to her and take her to their safehouse. From there, they provide for her medical needs, legal needs, physical needs, and help her recover from the trauma in which she’s been trapped. They also help her recover her identification, which is one of the first things a trafficker takes away, yet it is a requirement by almost all other shelters before entry. Because they are one of the only organizations that will do this, they rescue victims from all over the United States and bring them here to heal. They also have a long-term facility where they can house these women and children as they heal.

The world of sex trafficking is worse than you can imagine, the victims are younger than any of us want to grasp, and it’s happening closer than we realize. Their stories constantly shock and devastate me, and I thank God that there are people like those at The WellHouse who have dedicated their life to rescuing and providing new life to people who desperately need their help.

So come to Artwalk. I’ll have a full line of prints, canvases, note cards and postcards available there, all to support The WellHouse, and starting at $1. And I really, really would love to have the opportunity to meet you.

(And if I’ve already met you, then I definitely want to see you again!)

Besides saying hello to me (I get that I’m not that exciting), there are over a hundred other artists as well, great kid’s activities, and really just a fantastic event for a lovely late summer weekend.

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We were attendees last year, and Ali was fascinated by the Birmingham Fashion Truck (MUCH more exciting than food trucks),

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Noah was the recipient of a commissioned Tattoo from famous Birmingham artist Vero, which he still regularly tries to get me to reproduce,

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(but I can’t, because nobody can make a robot as whimsical as Vero can,)

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and both kids thoroughly enjoyed the leaf-painting activity.

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So come. PLEASE come. It’s a free event, it’s a fantastic event, and I need to see some familiar faces. Or faces that are not-yet-but-are-now-familiar.

I hope to see you in a few days!

p.s. – if you can’t come and would still like to support The WellHouse, you can always shop Picture Birmingham online, as well as make a donation to The WellHouse. Thank you all for your support!

How to Properly Use Alabama Jell-O Molds.

In a huge announcement of unprecedented importance, Jell-O proclaimed that they were releasing University of Alabama Jell-O Molds.

(Along with molds for 22 other Universities, but I’m positive none of them took it nearly as seriously as Alabama fans.)

Because I love my husband and I’m a sucker for a good Jell-O mold, I immediately went to my personal shopper (named Amazon) and bought a set for my family.

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 6

However, my purchase was made amidst great state controversy.

Not only was this exciting news for football fans, it was also exciting news for the Alabama political machine. Because, you see, at least one lobbyist immediately condemned these Jell-O molds for fear that they would encourage underage drinking.

Yes, drinking.

I would like to say a few things to this lobbyist.

1. I’ve seen a lot of people slurp down Jell-O shots on Alabama Football gamedays. A LOT. And not a single one of them was actually a *student* at the university. In fact, most were over 50 and probably never even attended the University. Perhaps your concern might also extend to Alabama Football Fans with no educational ties to the University?

2. “I wasn’t going to drink while underage, but now that there are Jell-O molds for my University, well, that changes everything!”, said no college student ever.

3. Silly Lobbyist, Jell-O Molds are for Kids. Err, kids too young for underage drinking, that is.

To prove it, I present to you, my children.

There’s nothing my kids enjoy more than preparing for a Football Party, so I gave them the beautiful new Jell-O molds. Because football is upon us, y’all.

I wanted to delve into all the ways these molds could be used, so I bought chocolate, my favorite candy melts, and had the Jell-O that came with the molds. I also figured we could use the molds to create ice cubes.

There were two molds, which were apparently quite stuck together.

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 1

But that did not deter the palpable excitement in my home.

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 2

Okay no really. Were they superglued??

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 3

Noah even got in on the action. At least in moral support.

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Finally, my daughter found the strength within herself to pull them apart.

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They wanted to start with candy melts, and I didn’t blame them – it’s the purest form of sugar, and it seems to travel straight to the blood stream.

Using Melting Candy with Children

It can even be absorbed straight through fingers!

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We melted and poured, then dropped the mold on the countertop a few dozen times to beat out the bubbles.

Uses for University of Alabama Jell-O molds

After refrigeration, they came out beautifully, although next time I will fill the molds halfway to prevent the messy bottoms and make the serving size of straight sugar a little less coma-inducing.

University of Alabama Candy 2

Next came Jell-O.

I’m always amazed at how quickly Jell-O cooks, as opposed to my childhood when it seemed to take five lifetimes.

Noah, however, did not agree.

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He aged fifteen years in that two minutes.

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While we’re waiting for a boiling point, let’s talk about the background of my picture, also known as Random Clutter on Rachel’s Kitchen Table (RCoRKT).

What's in the Background

A: Two pairs of Noah’s Toms (my hypocrisy grows daily) and my running knee braces. Because that’s what belongs on chairs.
B: Running Socks. Hopefully just washed and laid out to dry, but there’s no guarantee that they hadn’t been sweat in.
C: Sunblock. Which is puzzling since I nearly never sunblock my children. Because hey – skin grows back, right?
D: A really unique sunset canvas. There’s this site where you can get one of your own…or use it as an excuse to come see me in person!
E: An Underwear Chart. Need I say more?

You’re welcome.

The water finally boiled, and Ali immediately volunteered to stir in the Jell-O. Noah, meanwhile, had moved onto other pursuits.

Making Jell-O with Children 1

But he’s never one to turn down a chance to splash and spill hot liquid, so he did take his turn.

Making Jell-O with Children 2

We pulled out our Lego and Magic Wand molds and filled nearly everything we had.

Making Jell-O with Children 3

The Jell-O came out just as beautifully as the candy, albeit harder to photograph.

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And, although we haven’t melted our chocolate yet or made our ice cubes, we’re ready for tomorrow.

University of Alabama Candy and Jell-O

Because really, snacks are football’s redeeming value.

To some of us.

Disclosure: Jell-O did not sponsor me or this post. Nor did lobbyists, Alabama Football, or children. Okay – maybe the kids did. They did get a lot of sugar out of it, after all.

Birmingham, Meet Meat. Meat, Meet Birmingham. {Giveaway}

Guest Post by Contributing Editor, Chief Husband, and Meat Expert Chris.

There are certain pivotal moments in the history of the world when things change for the better, when life as we know it receives an upgrade to its operating system that – like Siri, or Instagram adjustable filter intensity – opens the door to a richness of experience that was previously unimaginable.

I like to think that this was one of those moments.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

Genesis 9:1-3

Much of humanity, including Rachel and I, have since had a love affair with meat. Birmingham is a great city for meat lovers. You can’t sling a pair of oversized sweatpants in this town without hitting a Barbeque restaurant. So when the opportunity came to try the newest addition to Birmingham’s meaty repertoire, I pretty much fell all over myself to get there.

Welcome to Texas de Brazil, in the new Uptown district.

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It is fancy and casual at the same time, with a passionate décor and a comfortable vibe. It might be date night, but there are no illusions – everyone knows why you’re here. The meal begins with vast array of salads, soups, appetizers, and side dishes, but don’t get the wrong idea. This glorious buffet could be a meal unto itself, and is offered as such, if you so desire.

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As if marinated mozzarella balls, antipasto meats and cheeses, sushi rolls, and shrimp weren’t enough, there is a big bowl of bacon. Not bits. Legit pieces of freshly cooked bacon, stacked in a bowl, to feast upon at your discretion.

To whet your appetite for this:

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An endless supply of freshly prepared cuts of steak, chicken, lamb, pork, and Brazilian sausage that each bring a juicy high-five to your evening. As long as you leave your sign flipped to green, the happy swordsmen keep coming and carving onto your plate.

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They of course also bring extra side dishes to cleanse your palate between meats, because we are, after all, only human. Overall, it’s not just the kind of place you want to come back to. It’s the kind of place you want to bring a friend so you can watch them enjoy it for the first time.

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So, to help you enjoy the excess responsibly, here are my pro tips:

Fast before you go.

Sleep it off as soon as possible.

Remember it fondly. I certainly do.

And win this gift card for $50 to help your meal along. To enter, just comment on this post and tell me who the biggest carnivore in your life is. This contest is open until Monday, September 8 and the winner will be announced on the Giveaway Winner’s Page on September 9. This gift card is good for all Texas De Brazil locations, so check this list to see if there is one near you. Best of luck and eat some meat!

Disclosure: Our meal was complimentary. There was no agreement that a blog would be provided, so my passion for their work is absolutely authentic.