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Look at this happy woman with her mullet! You throw, girl!

By Raelyn Mae Holmes

Ah, the Mullet Toss: It’s right up there with the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo when it comes to weird, but somehow intriguing, events and activities. The annual Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Biggest Beach Party is one of the more legendary, but odd, tourist draws the Gulf Coast has ever seen. On the last full weekend in April each year, the beautiful white sand beaches are positively jam packed – and with good reason. This year it’s the 31st anniversary of the event, and it promises to be great fun April 24-26. Are you going? Good for you!

If you haven’t been to the Mullet Toss, you are missing out: It’s a massive beach party, right behind the famed Flora-Bama Lounge and Package on Perdido Key. Because nothing says “Party!” like people lining up to throw a dead fish over the Alabama/Florida state line to see who can throw it the farthest. This has nothing to do with a really *bad* haircut. It’s about the flying fish. And the party. And yeah, it’s a little gross, but it’s hard not to find yourself caught up in the excitement.

How, exactly, did this bizarre tradition begin?

I mean, I’ve been to the Mullet Toss countless times. I’ve partied, I’ve cheered on the participants with unbridled enthusiasm, though I’ve never flung a fish myself. Too icky. And at each year’s event, I’ve met folks from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and beyond, who pull into town ready for some freaky fish action (seriously, the crowds are insane year after year for the Mullet Toss). But in all this time, until now, I never really stopped to consider how the heck this all got started.

So I did what any naturally curious person would do at 11 p.m. on a random weekday night. I looked it up. Apparently, the Mullet Toss began in 1985 as a really small party out on the beach. Low key, you know? Because that’s just how people roll along the Gulf Coast. “Hey, let’s get some beer and see who can toss this little, relatively insignificant fish, the farthest!” Supposedly the fact that the little mullet has a gizzard adds enough weight to make the thing more aerodynamic than your average fish. Not sure if that’s true, but I’m not about to start throwing dead fish around my backyard to find out.

So that’s that. Now you know. Famous people have participated in the Mullet Toss – including the likes of Kenny Stabler (he tried, unsuccessfully, to throw a perfect spiral mullet) and others. There’s even a special Celebrity Mullet Toss event over the weekend. Oh and lest you think this isn’t a family-friendly event, there are special kids’ Mullet Toss events as well. Everyone can get in on the action, and believe me, they do - the beach is crazy crowded and SO fun!

See? Totally packed with mullet tossing revelers!

It should also be mentioned that proceeds raised from the Interstate Mullet Toss support local charity organizations. The event raises as much as $20,000 annually for local charities. So hey, throw a mullet for a good cause, why don’t you? Put this event on your Bucket List. Last I checked, it only costs about $15 to get a chance to participate in the Mullet Toss. What have you got to lose?

Oh and one last tip if you do go: Parking is a zoo on all three days of Mullet Toss, so consider taking shuttles set up from Orange Beach and/or Perdido Key to the Flora-Bama. It’s worth the $5, trust me.

For more information on the Interstate Mullet Toss, visit http://www.florabama.com.

Photos: PNJ.com and Flora-Bama.com

By Brandie Rickett Bowden

The house looks like it fell right out of the Civil War. In a way, it did. Built in the 1820s, Carson House was quickly approaching 200 years old. The current owners, Kenny Massey and Stephanie Waldrop Massey, have put forth top-notch effort in order to restore the antebellum mansion to its former glory.

Before and after photos show the tremendous amount of work done to Carson Place in recent months.

Carson House sits around the corner from the Country Club of Tuscaloosa near downtown. Located in the west-section of the Historic District, Carson Place takes another 100-year leap into the past from the other homes in this district. Anyone who passes by will see that the restoration efforts have been successful. The before-and-after photos show how far a little TLC can go.

“So far we have replaced the roof, secured the chimneys, and added heating and cooling,” Stephanie Massey said. “We’ve also repaired and painted the plaster and woodwork on the outside of the house and re-built the front porch. Now that we have secured the outside of the house we are able to move inside and start working on it. Every spare hour we can find is spent working on the house.”

In 1985, the National Register of Historic Places added Carson House to its registry because of its architectural significance. The most notable features are the towering columns lining the front of the house. Each of the six columns is made from a single tree trunk. Even those without architectural knowledge can look at this house and appreciate the elegance and beauty of its antebellum features.

“Every crack in the plaster and every uneven spot in the floor tells a piece of this story.” – Stephanie Massey

With any building of this era, one can assume to find some interesting stories in association. Carson Place is no exception. “As we work on the house and see the hand-hewn beams and plaster work I just imagine all the people who have passed through this home over nearly 200 years,” Massey said. “If these walls could talk what would they say? Every crack in the plaster and every uneven spot in the floor tells a piece of this story. We are honored to be able to be just a small part of that.”

When Mary Lynch Horry Carson’s husband, John Haywood Carson, died in 1823, he left much property to his wife and two children. A few years later, Mary married George Cox. They moved to Tuscaloosa, where Mary had the original Carson House built. Cox came to the area 10 years prior after the Navy forced him to resign when he abandoned his ship, declaring it unsafe, even though his mates and crew remained on board.

Carson Place was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 because of its architectural significance.

When Cox died, Mary married her third husband, William Allen. Allen gambled away most of Mary’s estate, leaving very little for Mary’s son, Thomas Lynch Carson, to inherit on their deaths. Thomas married into another property-owning family. The family of his wife, Sarah Virginia Marr, owned the property on which the University of Alabama now sits. Thomas and Sarah lived in his mother’s house with their 13 children (only six of whom lived to adulthood) until his death in 1867. When Thomas died, Sarah moved to a plantation on the river, but maintained ownership of Carson House, selling it more than 20 years later.

The Massey family hopes turn Carson Place into a bed and breakfast so they can share the grand home with the community.

The home has changed ownership several times over the last 100 years. It has undergone several restorations. Now, thanks to the current owners, it will no longer be just a visual locale. The current plan for the Carson House is that it will become a bed and breakfast upon completion of the current restorations.

Take a quick trip into the past and go see Carson House, and take in a deep breath of local history.

Photos: Carson Place Bed & Breakfast


By Tori Linville

Easter has arrived, and for most people it means ham, family and Easter egg dyeing. After blowing out the egg’s content by making small holes in the tops and bottoms of the shell or boiling eggs, most people dunk the egg in a bowl of food coloring and call it a day. This Easter, we’ve looked up cheap and creative ideas for Easter egg dyeing that allow for some creativity. For best results, don’t rush the process of dyeing the eggs.

Rubber Band Eggs

By adding some rubber bands from your office to the mix, Easter eggs can have a one-of-a-kind look that strays from a simple dye job.

 

First, bring eggs to a boil in a pot of water. Remove to cool and pat the eggs dry. Next, add the rubber bands. Because of the egg’s round and slick surface, it’s best to use wide rubber bands or multiple skinny rubber bands for best results. Arrange the bands around the egg to your liking.

Dunk egg into dye and keep submerged for at least five minutes. For a darker color, keep egg in the dye longer. Allow egg to air dry. For a mix of colors, re-dip the egg in a different color dye.

Dye ingredients: Three-fourths a cup of warm water, one tablespoon of white vinegar and about 10 drops of food coloring.

 

Melted Crayon Eggs

Adding an individual and artistic spin to your Easter eggs only takes two steps. Using crayons already laying around the house, children can draw their own Easter egg designs in no time at all.

First, put eggs in a pot of water and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and cover the pot for 12 minutes to get hard boiled eggs. Taking the eggs from the pot let them stand for one to two minutes.

Add designs to the eggs by drawing on them with crayons. Let children mix and match colors for a creative twist.

 

Traditional Egg Dyeing with a Twist

If simple food coloring and water is a method that is the most convenient and comfortable, add a twist by mixing ingredients that you already have in your pantry or spice cabinet. This will save time and money, along with providing some Easter entertainment.

Bring water to a boil before adding ingredients. Each recipe calls for four cups of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar and two tablespoons of table salt.

Aqua Green/Teal: Two cups raw Spinach

Dark Blue: One head of cabbage, chopped         

Brown/Burnt Orange: Two tablespoons of coffee

For a marbled effect, leave the eggs in the die for a longer amount of time. For an additional pop of color, add olive oil to the dry shells. To see additional methods for other colors, visit greenthumbwhiteapron.com.


Customers browse among plants offered at the annual Alabama Wildflower Society’s native plant sale. Dozens of different kinds of local plants will be available at the April 4 sale.

By Nancy Campbell

 

The local chapter of the Alabama Wildflower Society is holding its annual native plant sale on Saturday, April 4 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Kentuck Center courtyard in downtown Northport. Don't be misled by the name of the organization: There will be a lot for sale in addition to wildflowers.

 

Plants offered will include flowering vines, native ferns, ground covers, and lots of shrubs and trees, such as dogwoods, redbuds, butterfly bushes, blueberry bushes, native hydrangeas, sweet shrub, and several varieties of native azaleas, all with some of the lowest prices to be found in this area. Alice Taylor, past-president of the local non-profit group, notes, "Here is where you can get some real bargains.”

 

 

Wildflowers offered for sale typically include columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, Lenten roses, spiderwort, and native irises and violets. Items for sale are obtained from out-of-state nurseries specializing in native plants and from members of the Alabama Wildflower Society who contribute plants from their own gardens and property. While most plants sold are indigenous to the Southeast, a few non-native but traditionally favorite “pass-a-long” plants are also offered.

 

One local resident, Harris Cornett of Northport, purchased a perennial dark red salvia bush five years ago that has come back every spring and bloomed for four months, attracting numerous butterflies and hummingbirds. He also purchased a perennial blue daisy that same year which blooms for about two months every summer.

  

Purchases will help further education about and preservation of Alabama’s native plant life. Proceeds from the sale every year go for college scholarships to botany majors in Alabama colleges and universities. Smaller amounts go to the local Arboretum and the Cahaba Lily Society.

 

 "The sale will take place rain or shine," said Taylor. "However, you should try to get there early for the best selections."  


Druid City Garden Project (DCGP) is hosting a hands-on workshop titled “Organic Gardening 101” to help Tuscaloosa residents learn how to start gardening organically. It will be held on Saturday morning, April 11th from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. at University Place Elementary School.

Participants will join DCGP Garden Manager, Josalyn Randall, to learn how the basics of organic gardening including composting, soil amendments, soil preparation, seed starting techniques, transplanting, planting schedules, mulching and more.

 

“Organic Gardening 101 is a great resource for those just starting out in gardening and those who want to brush up on their skills before planting their summer gardens,” says Lindsay Turner, Druid City Garden Project’s executive director.

 

Turner says that the workshop will be appropriate for all experience levels.

Common summer favorites, such as tomatoes, peppers, and herbs will be featured.

There is a suggested donation of $20 for individuals and $10 for students. Contributions benefit Druid City Garden Project’s efforts to help diverse communities of Alabama build vibrant food systems.

A second part to this workshop, “Organic Gardening 102,” will be held on May 16, all from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Interested community members and students are encouraged to reserve their spots in advance by emailingThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Assorted sizes of colorful, decorative pots in Alice’s Garden will bear ancestors’ names.

By Octavia Miles

 

The life of a master gardener is never dull or stagnant, and we are never far away from pen and paper to make a project “to do” list.

While our mission is to increase the availability of horticultural information to Alabama’s gardeners and home owners, in reality, we are much more than that. We play very active roles in our communities – from coordinating plant sales and other events, to seminars, to community service projects. Kindred   spirits join together to complete a goal and to spread the message of enjoying the bounty of our gardens.

Often, the joy of these projects comes in preparation. Friendships sprout up and memories are created, all while completing a gardening task.

Speaking of that “to do” list, I recently made one for my 2015 project called “Alice’s Garden” (in memory of my late mother who, during the last eight of her 91 years on earth, was afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease). The chosen area in my backyard was once a bright, sunny spot, but now the trees from my neighbors’ yards have turned it into a location that only receives four hours of sunlight (10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) with a slow progression from southeast to northwest.

The middle portion of the site gets the best sun. I’ve labeled the site as “partial sun with a side dressing of shade.” This isn’t quite what I envisioned for Alice’s Garden, so now I have to revise my graph drawings and my wish list.


The proposed site for Alice’s Garden.

 

With revisions comes research, and I have to admit: the more pictures in a gardening book, the better. One of my favorites isEdible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy, along with Shade: Ideas and Inspiration for Shady Gardens by Keith Wiley.

 

I also know that my project will require visits to my family’s homestead in Troy, along with visits to the Petals from the Past nursery in Jemison. So far, I’ve added these items to my project’s wish list:

 

  • A garden bench (mom’s porch glider, which I’ll paint pale pink)
  • An arbor (test red cascade and Peggy Martin roses)
  • A pathway (pine straw for this first year)
  • Containers (mom’s four large flower pots from pillars in the front yard’s drive and walkways)
  • Decoration (ironwork from mom’s backyard fence, to add architectural interest and a bit of Troy history)
  • Plants (everything still living in mom’s flowerbeds, supplemented by additional ones I’ll research and purchase)

 

Next on the list? Functional analysis. What did I want my four siblings, my two children, my three grandchildren, my 12 nieces and nephews, and my 16 great nieces and nephews to experience when they visited my home and walked outside to see Alice’s Garden?

 

I concluded that those who experienced mom’s flowers through the years in her own gardens would be touched with precious memories, while those who were born long after mom left Troy and came to live with me in Tuscaloosa would be far removed from my nostalgic gesture. Therefore, I will have to be certain that Alice’s Garden has something for everyone. Because of the variation in age groups, I have decided to reserve a special section of the Garden for assorted sizes of colorful and decorative pots bearing all of our ancestors’ names. It will be called “Flower Pot People” in Alice’s Garden.

 

Do you have a special project you’re working on this spring? Would you like the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners to contribute our efforts? If so, contact Neal Hargle, County Extension Agent at (205) 349-4630 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He and I will get our many knowledgeable master gardeners organized to assist you.

 

For inspiration in planting this season, why not visit the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners Association’s annual plant sale? The sale will be held on Saturday, April 25, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Extension Office. Please come by to see the many plants that we will have for sale.

 

Octavia Miles is the president of the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners’ Association (Class of 2010).

By Raelyn Mae Holmes

Hey there, parentals: Are you at the end of your spring break rope yet? You’ve taken the kiddos to the beach, to the zoo, to the aquarium, to the park (multiple times) and zip lining – and you’re out of ideas? Fair enough. It happens. With a chance of showers creeping into the forecast for folks throughout Alabama – from Huntsville to the Gulf Coast, I thought this might be a good time to provide a brief rundown of some movie offerings, specifically some of the best kids movies on Redbox, and more. Because hey, it’ll keep the little ones occupied for a bit, and provide you with some much-needed quiet time. And the disclaimer: Some of these films are better for youngsters, while others are better for the tweens or teens set. Use your finely-honed parental radar to ensure age appropriateness.


Here's a wrap up of a few of the biggest and best Easter egg hunts coming up in the Tuscaloosa area. Time to grab those Easter baskets and get out to enjoy these events!

UA Panhellenic Association Egg Hunt

The UA Panhellenic Association will be hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 29, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the President’s mansion.

Children ages 12 and under are invited to come out and hunt for Easter eggs this coming Sunday. There will be plenty of photo ops with a visit from the Easter bunny and face painting stations. Refreshments will be provided by Bama Dining, the event will go until 4:00 pm or until the last egg is found. Parking is available behind sorority row, for more information visit www.uapanhellenic.com.

 

Junior Belles Easter Egg Hunt

The Junior Tuscaloosa Belles are proud to announce the return of the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 29 from 3-5 p.m. at the Battle-Friedman House and Gardens. This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to spend time with old and new friends and neighbors at one of Tuscaloosa's premiere historic houses.

This year our Easter Egg Hunt features games and prizes, visits with the Easter Bunny, refreshments, and a petting zoo from Tuscaloosa Barnyard. Following the Hunt, we will have a raffle for the adults.  It's fun for the whole family! Please bring your own basket. Admission is $5 per adult; the first two children are free – and it’s $2 for every child after.

 

EasterFest

First Wesleyan Church presents EasterFest, a city-wide celebration on April 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at Snow Hinton Park. Each year, this event has grown – and now, thousands participate. People from all walks of life, from all over Tuscaloosa can come enjoy all sorts of fun activities for free. 

Now in its seventh year, EasterFest is are once again expecting around 4000 people to come and enjoy free family fun. Well over 300 volunteers work to make this day happen. More than 25,000 eggs will be a part of the largest Easter egg hunt in Tuscaloosa. There will also be games, inflatables, a rock climbing wall, live music, free food, a petting zoo and more.

The Easter egg hunt begins promptly at 10:30 a.m., and parental supervision is required.

A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.”

When it comes to the everyday tasking of raising girls, I like to believe that the Missus and I evenly distribute the wealth even when it comes to determining outfits and the styling of hair.

Admittedly, she is far superior when it comes to matching tops and bottoms andfar more intelligible when it comes to girlie fashion trends (Confession: I thought “chevron” was just a gas station).

But the better half of our Dynamic Duo of Love is an accountant, and when tax season hits, the resident authority on little girl fashion and etiquette is spending long hours at the client office. As a result, Mr. Mom is resurrected.

Although there is always room for improvement, I believe my ponytail skills to be quite advanced. And I see nothing wrong with some sparkly jeans and a bedazzled shirt everyday of the week.

What I did not grasp early on was the importance of the underpants. And as the girls get older, panty style apparently becomes an integral part of an outfit - even though nobody sees it.

Attempting to understand this logic is an act of futility, like trying to explain why my underwear is categorized as “gross,” even when clean, and their underwear is considered “cute,” even when dirty.

Regardless, problems demand resolve.

The older daughter’s issue was quelled with relative ease. Through a secret, back-room deal with a nice lady at Target I was able to secure the “day-of-the-week” panty pack, which included an unwritten manual on which panties to wear on any particular day.

This solution is only complicated when the “Wednesday” panties get lost in between the washer and dryer, or when the “Friday” panties get put in the wrong drawer. Subsequently, an APB is issued, and a search party is dispersed to find the fugitive panties.

The little girl selection is a bit more involved and is most likely enhanced due to the buffet of characters available. This includes, but is not limited to: Dora, Sophia, Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig, and of course Anna and Elsa.

Trying to figure out women is one thing. But attempting to discern the mood of a four-year-old girl through panty character selection on a daily basis is impossible. The circumstances surrounding the factors that lead to the decision of “Today is a Dora kind of day!” is a case study in itself.

The resolution is obvious: We must eventually scale back the menu. But for this tax season, the battle of the underpants is on. My money is on Elsa, at least for tomorrow.

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.    

      

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica.

Photo: Sony Pictures

The West Alabama Leadership Prayer Breakfast is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14. This marks the 17th year for the event, which will be held at the Bryant Conference Center on the University of Alabama Campus.

The Prayer Breakfast was established in 1999 as follow up to the Franklin Graham crusade and seeks to stimulate, enhance, sustain and nurture Christian leadership in the public and private sectors of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. The Prayer Breakfast committee is comprised of local marketplace and spiritual leaders.

This year’s keynote speaker is Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, author of God Less America and Dispatches from Bitter America.

 

Doors will open at 6:30 a.m. at the Conference Center; the program begins at 7:15 a.m. and will last until 8:30 a.m. A full breakfast buffet will be available for all guests. Individual tickets are $25.

For more information about the Prayer Breakfast, call coordinator Nicole Bohannon at (256) 335-0323 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.