Beautiful Angel is this week’s Humane Society of West Alabama’s Pet of the Week.

More than 80 members of the Alabama gymnastics program are set to return to campus for a number of events centered around the Crimson Tide’s Friday-night meet against No. 9 Kentucky that gets underway at 7:30 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum on the UA campus.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With Opening Weekend less than a month away, the UAB baseball team began practice in preparation for the 2018 season.

 

“I am proud of the guys effort today,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “I am looking forward to this season.”

 

UAB returns 21 letterwinners from a season ago including six starting position players and nine pitchers. 

 

Among the returners are infielders Carter Pharis and Price Visintainer. Pharis started 54 games in 2017 hitting .305 with 15 doubles, three homeruns and 30 RBI. Visintainer, a versatile infielder, hit .288 with 45 hits to just 24 strikeouts. 

 

On the mound the Blazers return senior pitchers Carson Jones, Ryan Ruggles and Isaiah Gonzales-Montoya. Jones made 20 appearances with five starts holding a 5.68 ERA over 52.1 inning pitched. Ruggles a consistent starter, appeared in 15 games with 10 starts striking out 49 batters. Gonzales-Montoya carried a 4.32 ERA primarily coming out of the bullpen.

 

UAB begins its 2018 slate on February 16 when it hosts Bowling Green in the first of a three-game series at Regions Field. First pitch between the Blazers and Falcons is set for 4 p.m.

 

For more information on the UAB baseball team follow the Blazers on Twitter (@UAB_Baseball) or on Instagram (UAB_Baseball).

 

Hi!  Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Amy Clark and I am a real estate agent for Lake Martin. I work with clients from Birmingham and Alabama and the US to find lake homes.

 

What show did you work on?

HGTV’s Lakefront Bargain Hunt - Home Sweet Home Lake Martin, Alabama (Season 2 Episode 8). 

 

How did you get involved with the show?

Last November I was at the Alabama  Association of Realtors of conference, sitting outside, when I  got a phone call from a producer at HGTV. At first, I didn’t think it was real.  They told me they were calling from HGTV and wanted me to be on one of the episodes.  Over the course of the next month, I went through the interview process.  We had Skype interviews and phone interview. It was a long process, but was so worth it.

 

Why did HGTV call you?

HGTV wanted to focus on Lake Martin and a particular price point and a young family. They heard about me.  I involved a young couple that they had sold a house to the year before from Auburn with 2 young children, Holly and John Parker. 

 

So, the Parkers had already purchased a lake home?

Yes – they purchased a lake home through me a year ago.  So they used the home they purchased as the final choice. I picked 3 additional homes that were currently on the market to be the other options. This is how they do those home purchase shows due to the time constraints for filming.  The Parker’s had not seen those homes before so their reactions to the homes were genuine. One of the reasons I wanted to work with Holly and John on the HGTV show is because they were very vocal and verbal, I knew they would be very honest. Holly and her husband John (Parker) are so real. Their little girl, who is an adorable red head,  and their little boy did the best of all.

How long did it take to shoot the program?

Four solid days of filming in the freezing cold in November.  It was 28 degrees. Started at 6am and finished at 6pm.

 It’s unbelievable what it took to do it. A team of 12 men came down from New York, one was lighting, one was sound, several camera men, a coordinator and one who was the runner.  What was so funny is that we got so close and we have stayed in touch for several months afterwards.   And of course, I am very close to my Auburn couple. 

 

What was shooting like?

By day 3 you are so tired and there are so many takes.  That one little clip may have taken 10 or 12 takes and it was so hard to remember what in the world I said! There was one person on staff that their job was to help me to remember what I said so I could repeat it if there was another take!

We were at the silo at Wind State Park and we were shaking so violently it was so cold.  You couldn’t tell on the TV show, they made it look like it was warm.  They would wrap us in warm blankets. And as soon as the director said “Action” they snatched the blankets off.

After the crew left, a few weeks later, a two man aerial team came with a drone. One man handled the camera and another man handle the drone. The drone was massive and it did photographs of all the houses in the show. These guys were top notch professionals.

 

What was the most challenging part of the process?

The most challenging thing had to be that the producers compressed those 4 days into 22 minutes for the show. I don’t know how they did that. It was a huge job.

How has the show impacted your business?

I was so excited about the exposure that Lake Martin got. You would not believe how many phone calls, listings and buyers I have had because of that TV show. Calls from all over the country!

 

What is the farthest away?

Probably California and they did buy a lake house.  Some from the Northeast.

 

If you had to do it over, would you do the show again?

It was such a great experience and I would do it again!

 

This episode of HGTV’s  Lake Front Bargain Hunt is available on Youtube for $1.99. Click here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5Ng853U3Jg&index=7&list=ELJLixdQIO0aSFtWYMQWn5gQ

For more information about Amy Clark, go to www.sellinglakemartin.com

If you want to read more about additional Alabama homes that have been featured on Lakefront Bargain Hunt, click here.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.Jan. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Daxko, a software company that specializes in member-based health & wellness software, announced the recent hiring of Brittany Foust as Senior Vice President of Services. Brittany will unite and oversee Daxko's customer-centric services teams across all markets – including large health clubs, boutique fitness, YMCAs, JCCs, medical fitness centers, and others. She reports directly to Dave Gray, Daxko's Chief Executive Officer.

"I am looking forward to this incredible opportunity to take the Daxko and Zen Planner services teams to the next level, focused on ensuring high customer satisfaction and an unsurpassable experience when working with our team members. We want our customers to be wildly successful," says Foust.

Brittany comes to Daxko with extensive expertise leading services teams and conducting consulting engagements for SaaS companies in the healthcare and sports verticals. She has a proven track record of creating, installing, and executing processes that ensure strong customer focus and great experiences.

"We're excited to have Brittany join Daxko's leadership team," states Dave Gray, Daxko CEO.  "Her proven track record of implementing operational and process improvements will allow Daxko to deliver on our promise of delivering exceptional experiences to our customers and building a high-performing team."

About Daxko 
Daxko delivers comprehensive technology solutions and experienced services to all kinds of member-based health and wellness centers.

Making chocolate truffles typically requires expert knowledge of chocolate. Tempering chocolate, while possible to learn, is a bit of an art. Even chocolatiers fight bloom (where the cocoa butter leaves streaks in the chocolate) when the weather changes or in times of high heat.

But there is a way that you can make delicious chocolate truffles, in whatever flavor you want, in minutes at home. Literal minutes. You may regret learning this technique because it could be dangerous for your diet

The trick is…..

coconut oil and your refrigerator.    Shhhhhh - don't tell


It’s a bit of a cheat. The coconut oil works with the chocolate and helps it stay together, but also hardens in the refrigerator and provides the texture of the traditional coating on truffles. The filling is the same as traditional truffles The candies will not be able to stay out of the fridge for an extended time without getting a bit soft especially if your room is warm, but they are as delicious as the ones you find in high end chocolate shops.

Don't be intimidated by all the words in the recipe. It really is just melting some stuff in the microwave, rolling it up and sticking it in the fridge.

 

Handmade Chocolate Truffles

 

Filling

4 oz chocolate (Callebaut 70% is our favorite, but any good quality chocolate bar will work. Store brand chocolate chips will work too)

1.5 oz heavy whipping cream

Optional:

1 teaspoon oil based flavoring (like orange oil) or 2 teaspoons liqueur

Coating

4oz dark chocolate (same brand)

1/2 oz coconut oil

Pour whipping cream into a microwave safe bowl. Pour 1/2 the chopped (chocolate chip size) chocolate into the bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Mix well. Microwave for 15 seconds and mix well again until the mixture is smooth. May need to heat up for another 15 seconds if the mixture still has chocolate chunks.

Put mixture in the refrigerator to firm up (can stick it in the freezer if you are in a real hurry, but don’t let it freeze. You just need the mixture firm enough to roll in a ball.)

Once the mixture is firm, scoop a small amount out and gently roll into a ball shape (if you have a small melon baller, this will help with keeping the size uniform).

Place on a plate until ready to dip.

Melt the coconut oil or butter and remaining chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds to make the coating. Mix well until it is smooth and all one consistency.  Of it needs an extra 15 seconds to get all the chunks melted, that’s fine.  The coconut oil keeps the chocolate from blooming.  This means you don't have to be a professional to have good results. 

Place an uncovered 1 inch (size is merely a suggestion) ball of filling on a fork and lower gently into the melted topping. Cover the filling ball with the chocolate and bring it out of the bowl with the fork.

Allow the excess topping to drip off and place on a plact or piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle toppings that match your flavor on top. Sea salt, crushed hard candies, , nuts, coffee beans and pieces of dried fruit make great decorations. Put these on the top when the chocolate is still wet.

Once you have covered all the balls, chill in your refrigerator until the chocolate coating is set. Usually takes about half an hour.

Place finished chocolates on an attractive plate or bowl.

 

For a gift presentation, places like Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby have seasonal boxes that make great candy boxes. Line the box with a food safe material, like wax paper, before placing your truffles inside.

Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday night this year.

With soccer practices, church groups, homework, working late and just general parental exhaustion, going out for Valentine’s Day this year may not be an option.

Here are some ideas that don’t require a babysitter, much money or much planning…

 

For the casual couple:

 

Many pizza places will do a heart shaped pizza (Papa John’s has done them in years past). Order a heart shaped pizza, fire up the Netflix or video games and enjoy.  You can even include the kids.

 

For the romantic couple with a big bathtub and kids:

 

After the kids go to sleep, get a few candles and put them in your bathroom (if you don’t have any they are cheap at dollar stores). Add some bubble bath (or shampoo in a pinch) to your bath.  The lavendar epsom salts available at the grocery store smell wonderful.  Go to Spotify and pick out a romantic playlist (put “romance” into the Spotify search and find playlists like 90’s Babymakers and Acoustic Love)..

Turn off the lights. This is both romantic and necessary for most of us if you have children because we don’t look like we did at 19. Candlelight is kind. Both of you get in the tub at the same time. Stay in for at least 3 songs. You probably will get sleepy. But it will be a more romantic sleepy than the usual Wednesday night.

 

For the couple for whom even lighting a candle and getting in the tub is too much….

 

  • Make a reservation for next Saturday night (or the next time you can get a babysitter)
  • Tell each other you love each other
  • Hold hands as you go to sleep

 

Valentine’s is a “Hallmark holiday”, but it is always a good excuse to stop for a minute and fall in love again. It doesn’t have to take a thousand dollars or a bunch of planning or even flowers and chocolates.

 

 

“Shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo; pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp …”  

Sure, this might be straight out of the movie Forrest Gump, where “shrimp is the fruit of the sea,” but one local business is trying to make this a reality in landlocked West Alabama. Since the end of 2016, the families involved with Sumter County Shrimp have dedicated themselves to digging ponds, drilling wells, and investing in equipment needed to grow shrimp in this area.  

According to co-owner Lee Stegall, the project idea stemmed from the discovery of salt water on his family farm years ago.  

“In 1959, my grandfather drilled a well on our family farm in Sumter County to water cattle. The artesian well began flowing, but the water was salty,” Stegall said. 

Over 50 years later, Stegall – a mechanical engineer in Tuscaloosa – was working in the Demopolis area. After running across information about Greene Prairie Aquafarm in rural Greene County, he reached out to co-owner David Teichert-Coddington. They met at Stegall’s farm in 2014. 

“He found our water quality was excellent, and immediately said we should be in the shrimp farming business. Over the next three years, we researched, traveled, went to meetings, and gathered as much information as possible to weigh the feasibility and benefits,” said Stegall. 

Stegall’s family friend, Shawn Templeton, was also interested in the project. Templeton and his parents became partners. Since word has gotten out about the saltwater shrimp farm, community response has been overwhelming.  

“People wanting to know when and where they can get our shrimp contact us almost every day,” said Stegall.   

The next steps for Sumter County Shrimp include finding a wholesale buyer for the shrimp, and offering the product to local restaurants.  

“The strong farm-to-table market and sustainable farming practices demand is perfect for our product.  The lower salinity water we grow in provides a sweeter shrimp than an ocean grown shrimp.  The lack of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and preservatives provides a premium quality shrimp,” said Stegall. 

With a plan to harvest the shrimp and ice them down to bring to Tuscaloosa, folks interested in purchasing from Sumter County Shrimp can follow the company on their Facebook page (facebook.com/scshrimp) and join the mailing list to learn when shrimp is brought to town.  

“Many people assume a farmed shrimp is a lesser product to wild caught shrimp. This is not so, and the taste will prove it,” Stegall said. 

Like everyone, we’re busy here in the Poore home.   But that doesn’t mean we don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a great meal. This shrimp and grits recipe is fantastic, if I do say so myself. I used my delicious Sumter County Shrimp for this, and it’s sure to please.  

As always, bon appétit! 

Shrimp and Grits 

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire  
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (jar kind works well) 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1-pound andouille sausage, cut into slices 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
  • 2 cups half and half 
  • 3 cups water 
  • 1 cup old fashioned grits 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • Juice of one lemon 
  • 5 strips of bacon 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 4 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 cup chicken broth 
  • 1 cup shredded cheese 

 

Bring water, grits, and salt to boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, stir in half and half, reduce heat and simmer until grits have thickened (around 15-20 mins). Remove from heat, cover with lid, and set aside. 

Pat shrimp dry, place in a medium bowl, season with cayenne pepper, and then toss with lemon juice. 

In a large skillet, cook sausage until evenly browned. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove, let cool, and crumble. 

Cook the peppers, onion, and garlic in the pan with the bacon drippings until tender.  

While vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, slowing mix in flour to make a smooth paste. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly until it has browned slightly (8-10 mins). Be careful to not let it burn. 

In the large skillet with the vegetables, add in the shrimp, sausage, butter/flour mixture, chicken broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Cooking and stirring until the shrimp is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Cover and remove from heat.  

Stir cheese into the grits until melted.  

Serve shrimp mixture over grits in a bowl or on a plate. 

The U.S. Coast Guard recently released its 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, revealing that boating fatalities nationwide that year totaled 701, the highest number of yearly boating fatalities on record in the last five years.

Having one or two quality running backs for the upcoming season is a huge asset for any college football team. Alabama currently has six on its roster (three five-stars, two four-stars, and one three-star) that could likely start for any team in the nation. Today we highlight and provide more insight on Alabama's loaded backfield.

AMICO Security announced today that its AMIGUARD system, considered one of the most secure and cost effective border solutions available on the market, is expected to play a large role in President-elect Donald Trump's plan to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

The Board of Trustees of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust will hold its first quarterly meeting on February 9, 2017, at the Alabama State Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery, Ala. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

We've collected some of the best photos, videos and Memes across Facebook from the Alabama snow, just so you don't have to take the effort.

The 2016 fall season has been especially fruitful for the Alabama State Parks System. Starting with the overwhelming approval of Amendment 2 on the ballot in November to encouraging visitor numbers, enthusiasm abounds at State Parks.

And to keep that momentum going, State Parks is offering a substantial discount on overnight accommodations at 11 State Parks.

By Stan J. Griffin: January 3, 2017

THE SCORE: Alabama 68, Mississippi State 58 as the Crimson Tide begins Southeastern Conference play in winning fashion with a big road win over the Bulldogs, the Tide's third win in its last four games and its fourth consecutive win in Starkville.
It was a cold start for Avery Johnson's Tide team as it hit only one of its first seven field goals as the Bulldogs led early 9-3.  Sophomore Avery Johnson Jr., however, led the Tide on a 16-2 run after this which propelled Alabama to a 19-11 lead at the 9:49 mark.
That surge extended to 21-4 and a bucket by redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram put the Crimson Tide up 24-13 with 5:33 remaining in the first half. At halftime, UA was up 32-20 as Ben Howland's Bulldogs left the floor to a chorus of loud boos. 
MSU opened the second half by scoring the first eight points to trim the UA lead to 32-28.  With Alabama up 45-40 after a bucket by Corban Collins, the Bulldogs used a 7-2 spurt to tie the game at 42-42 with 11:18 left. The score was still deadlocked at 44-44 when Ingram and Johnson Jr. led a 7-0 Tide run that put Alabama up 51-44 at the 8:18 mark.
This was part of a 20-6 surge that saw Alabama extend its lead to 64-50 with just two minutes left.

The Bulldogs briefly cut the lead to six points late in the contest, but Alabama sealed the contest at the free throw line.


SITE: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.

RECORDS: Alabama 8-5 (1-0 SEC), Mississippi State 9-4 (0-1 SEC)

KEY STARS FOR THE TIDE: Ingram and Johnson Jr. led the Tide offensively with 13 points each, while junior Riley Norris tallied 11. Ingram also led Alabama with nine rebounds. Freshman Braxton Key and senior Jimmie Taylor added nine points each, and Key and Bola Olaniyan contributed six rebounds each.

By Stan J. Griffin: December 31, 2016

Saturday's Chick Fil A Peach Bowl playoff semifinal contest between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Washington brought together two teams with fairly different offensive approaches as well as a pair of elite teams with smothering defensive units.
But on this day in Atlanta, it was all about the highly-touted Tide defense, Alabama's domination of the field position battle and the huge effort of sophomore tailback Bo Scarbrough as Nick Saban's Crimson Tide team snagged a 24-7 victory over Chris Petersen's stubborn Pac 12 champion Huskies before a capacity crowd at the Georgia Dome.
With its 26th straight win overall dating back to the 2015 season, Alabama improved to 14-0, the third time the Tide has reached that victory total under Saban, while the Huskies saw their stellar season end at 12-2.
Most importantly, the win advanced the Crimson Tide to the Jan. 9 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Tampa, Fla. against Dabo Swinney's No. 2 Clemson Tigers, where it will have the opportunity to collect its second consecutive national title and its fifth in the last eight seasons.
The Tide and Tigers will meet for the second straight year in the title game, and the Tide knocked off Swinney's team 45-40 in 2015 to claim its 16th national title. Clemson defeated No. 3 Ohio State 31-0 Saturday in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
The smothering Crimson Tide defense, paced by Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and others, held the Huskies to 194 total yards, including only 44 on the ground, while forcing three turnovers.
Scarbrough, meanwhile, tallied 180 yards on 19 carries to set a new UA bowl game rushing mark while scoring a pair of touchdowns.  He averaged nearly 10 yards per carry on the way to his record-setting day.
"Washington had us a little off balance (in the first half) and we didn't do our responsibilities, but after we got in the flow of the game, I thought we played pretty well on defense," said Saban. "(Scarbrough) has really been playing well for us the past three or four games and we want to play him more and the guy is hard to tackle. He's big and powerful and playing with a lot of confidence right now. He did a great job for us today."

By Stan J. Griffin: December 29, 2016

There has been much discussion, or as University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban would tend to classify it, "outside noise," regarding the legacy of the 2016 Crimson Tide squad, a No. 1-ranked powerhouse that has already rolled to a 13-0 mark, a third consecutive Southeastern Conference title and a third straight trip to the College Football Playoffs.
Some observers are wondering aloud whether this may be the best Alabama team ever, or at least the mightiest one that Saban has coached in Tuscaloosa, as UA seeks to become the first major college team ever to finish with a perfect 15-0 mark.
At the very least, many media types are suggesting that Jeremy Pruitt's Alabama defense may be the Crimson Tide's finest ever stop unit.
All of that hype and hoopla makes for fine water cooler discussion and round table debate, but there is just one small problem with all of this clutter.
The story of this Alabama team is still yet to be completed, and an upcoming one or two-game run in the playoffs will determine if this team may go down as the greatest piece in Saban's Crimson Tide dynasty, or if it will be remembered as a very good team that simply could not finish the job.
In two days we will find out if the Tide can reach the 14-victory plateau for the third time under Saban, but it will not be an easy task as Alabama will face Chris Petersen's No. 4 Washington Huskies in the New Year's Eve Chick Fil A Peach Bowl in one of the playoff semifinals.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in the Georgia Dome, and the game will be televised by ESPN.
Before the Tide left Tuscaloosa for its Christmas break, Saban noted that Petersen's Pac 12 champions (12-1) are extremely well-coached, as well as being very solid in all facets of the game.
"Every time I stand up here, I try to convince everybody what a great team Washington has, and they are a very, very good football team on both sides of the ball and special teams," he said. "They're very well-coached and they've got good schemes, they've got good players, so this is going to be a real tough game for us. This is by far the best team we've played against all year long."

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) will host a series of Wildlife Management Area (WMA) listening sessions across the state this winter. The listening sessions will focus on the history of Alabama’s WMA system, how it is funded, habitat management efforts, future plans and ongoing research. WFF staff will also answer attendees’ questions. 

ATLANTA - The Alabama Crimson Tide football team arrived in Atlanta, Ga., Monday morning to begin game-site preparations at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Head coach Nick Saban met with the media upon arrival at the team hotel. The Crimson Tide broke for meetings in the afternoon before traveling to the Georgia Dome for the first full practice of the week.

Rocket City Journal is Huntsville, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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