I have so much to say. And honestly, I love to hear myself talk. But on this particular day, I could tell that Devon had heard enough. Devon and I had been talking about the problems of the world, and how we might solve them. Our conversation ranged from rude drivers to racial reconciliation and even conflict in our own homes. I thought we had each had an equal share of the “talking time” when I realized that Devon had grown quiet as I continued to make my pronouncements.  

Happy 2020! With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions. Have you made a resolution to be fit this year? If so, you’re in good company. For good reasons, getting in shape tops many resolution lists. We know that it is associated with myriad benefits to our health and wellness.  

Within the past few months, several popular restaurants around Tuscaloosa have closed. Chuy’s Tex Mex, Iguana Grill, and Dotson’s Burger Spot are among the casualties. 

Chuy’s closing in mid-November was abrupt, according to an employee.   

According to Bentley Pierrotti Alzahrani, a restaurant expo at Chuy’s, everything was sudden and unexplained. 

Happy New Year, everyone. This month, I’m going with some nice, traditional recipes. This pasta E fagioli soup is divine, and once you have all your ingredients, it doesn’t take much time to prepare at all. And finish off your January meal with some wonderful, old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies.  

Have a great 2020, and Bon Appétit! 

Pasta E Fagioli Soup 

  • 1 cup (uncooked) ditalini pasta 
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 lb. ground Italian sausage (mild or spicy) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped 
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce 
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes 
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 can white northern bean, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 
  • ¾ tsp. ground thyme 
  • ¼ tsp. ground red pepper 
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt 
  • Pepper to taste 

Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add sausage, and cook until browned and crumbled. Drain excess grease and set aside. 

Add remaining olive oil and cook onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (3-5 minutes). 

Add in the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, seasonings, sausage, and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in beans and pasta, and simmer for 10 more minutes. 

Serve immediately. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsps. cornstarch 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt until combined. 

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy and a pale-yellow color, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally as needed. Add egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredient mixture; beat on medium-low speed until just combined. 

Fold in the chocolate chips by hand, using a spatula or wooden spoon, until they are evenly combined. 

Transfer the dough to an airtight container and refrigerate it for 45 minutes. Once chilled, scoop out and roll dough balls that are 1-inch in diameter.  Then place the dough balls on a baking sheet that is covered with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 

Bake for about 10-11 minutes, or until lightly golden.  

Remove the cookies and let them cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  

Tuscaloosa SAFE Center, a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping sexual assault victims, has partnered with the Women and Gender Resource Center (WGRC) on The University of Alabama campus.  

“The SAFE Center provides a compassionate, patient-centered environment for sexual assault forensic examinations,” said Pam Jones, executive director of SAFE Center. 

The facility, which opened in November 2018, is a free-standing and private place where people 14 years of age and older can receive medical treatment for sexual assault and can get a forensic exam. Those ages 13 and younger will need to go to a children’s hospital. SAFE Center is working on becoming a pediatric center as well.  

The simple truth about toilet training is that if the child is ready, it happens very easily. If not, a power struggle often ensues -- and we all know that no one wins a parent-child power struggle. Fights with your child about his or her body are fights you will never win.

Luckily, there is a never a reason to fight with your child about this. Moving from diapers to being self-sufficiently able to use the toilet is a natural process. Humans have been doing it for a long time. They all get out of diapers sooner or later.

So you don't actually need to "toilet train" your child. Instead, set up conditions so your child can learn. Your goal is to make it as easy and effortless as possible. Think of this as a process of learning that unfolds over time, like all other learning and mastery.

Here's a step by step guide for child-led potty learning.

Here’s wishing all our Druid City Living readers a great week, filled with all kinds of outstanding local events. Get out, get involved, and above all else: Have fun.

And remember: If you’d like to have your event added to our online weekly calendar, just email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re happy to add anything you’d like to announce.

Enjoy your week, T-Town.

Have you ever wondered what life was like for cave-people during prehistoric times? Come see for yourself as Flutterfly Projects presents Firebringer: The Musical at Eat My Beats, Jan. 31.

When I was younger and watching TV show after TV show (and being super unproductive), my mother had an interesting way to get me up and going. She’d say, “(Insert main character or actor’s name here) is doing her job entertaining you. She is living her life, and you have to get off your butt and live yours.”

I get it now. When my Little says there is something new he wants to learn, I immediately chime in with the usual phrases: “Let’s make it happen.” “Let’s practice or learn.” Bottom line? Let’s put some action to whatever it is. 

Several months ago, our City Council realized that Tuscaloosa is at a crossroads. With the next decade on the horizon, we need to set our sights on becoming not just a great city, but an elite one. Knowing that standing still is not an option, especially in this technology-driven century, our council passed the Elevate Tuscaloosa initiative. From the moment Elevate Tuscaloosa was proposed, the council knew that the generosity and imagination of this community would create unforeseen opportunities. On Dec. 13th, Tuscaloosa’s 200th birthday, we realized just such an opportunity. 

Social media has integrated into our society in such a way that it has developed the stigma of being addictive and overly used. For this reason, it often ends up on resolution lists for the new year, with the intent of cutting back or cutting out. If this is on your list, make sure you aren’t setting yourself up to fail by intending to get rid of something that may not need to be eliminated. 

Humans are social creatures,” said Dr. Elliot Panek, Assistant Professor in Journalism and Creative Media at The University of Alabama. Panek studies digital media from sociological and psychological perspectives. A variety of media has covered his research.  

“Nearly all people require some social connections to others, in the same way that we require food and shelter,” Panek said. If social media is the mechanism by which a certain group of people interact with one another, then frequent use of it is merely indicative of those people getting something they need: interaction with other people.”  

Did you know research indicates that nearly 50% of all New Year’s resolutions are food/health related? As a wife, mom, dietitian, and human in general, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t on the band wagon of having a food related goal for 2020.  

For my family, I’m excited for 2020 to be another year for my hubby and I to help our son explore new foods at home while also tasting foods from mommy and daddy’s favorite restaurants around town (hi Taco Casa).  

As adults, we all know that the New Year brings lots of opportunities to think about a fresh start. 2020 offers a brand-new clean slate to reinvent yourself, to organize, to get healthy and fit, and to accomplish your goals.  

The desire to “do things better” isn’t limited to grownups. It turns out that the PreK Pals have some goals, too. I asked some sweet little girls what they wanted to learn to do better as they “grow up to be 5 years old.” I think you’ll find that no matter the age, everyone has something in which they long to improve. 

Children may ask heartbreaking questions that seem impossible to answer, but there are honest, age-appropriate ways to respond. Print out these ideas for parents to use as they handle difficult questions from their children. Each parent will have to decide how much information to share, and how to adjust their answers based on children’s ages.

Here’s wishing all our Druid City Living readers a great week, filled with all kinds of outstanding local events. Get out, get involved, and above all else: Have fun.

And remember: If you’d like to have your event added to our online weekly calendar, just email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re happy to add anything you’d like to announce.

Enjoy your week, T-Town.

This handsome, sweet, big boy is Winston. He’s the Humane Society of West Alabama’s Pet of the Week.

Yeah, I know you didn't ask. Yet you continue to flip to this page to read this ridiculous op-ed month and after month. It’s your own fault. You have only yourself to blame. 

And no… this is not an expert in the field of psychology throwing these half-baked ideas at you for no good reason. This is just a normal (or slightly abnormal), everyday guy throwing half-baked ideas at you for a good reason. So, just enjoy and take them for what they are. Besides, you pay for what you get… and this newspaper is free

Whenever you are trying to make personal changes, from managing your attitude to managing your weight, you have to make a commitment to changing your old habits in order to be successful. When you face certain challenges that hit you when you’re tired, frustrated, or stressed, your natural tendency is going to be to revert back to your old ways of coping. Your old habits are comfortable, easy, and require very little thought or effort to follow. New habits, however, require your attention and a certain amount of focus and energy to consistently apply.   

The Community Foundation of West Alabama (CFWA) announces the deadline to submit nominations for the 2020 class of Pillars of West Alabama is Friday, January 17, 2020. Nominations can be made by downloading the nomination form from the website at thecwa.org.

When the holidays are gone, the movies carry on, and this January has a few treats to keep you warm...

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

 

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